posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / This image shows how the Great Cold Spot (the darker, oval feature) changes dramatically in shape and size on different days. (credit: Tom Stallard) Astronomers have been characterizing Jupiter's Great Red Spot, a brilliant, swirling storm located just south of the planet's equator, for the better part of three centuries. Now, scientists say they have found another great spot on Jupiter at higher latitudes. The "Great Cold Spot" is defined by its temperature relative to the surrounding upper atmosphere on the planet. Temperatures in Jupiter's upper atmosphere range from about 700 to 1,000 Kelvin, and the relatively well-defined cold area is about 200 Kelvin cooler. Measuring about 24,000 kilometers in longitude and 12,000 kilometers in latitude, the cold spot is nearly as large as the more famous red spot. So what has caused it? Planetary scientists aren't yet sure, as much of Jupiter's atmosphere remains a mystery. "The detection of a localized region of cooling within the upper atmosphere is unexpected," the authors of a new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, reported this week. Previous observations have been limited in their spatial resolution, especially at higher latitudes, and as a result scientists had thought variations in temperature would be more smoothed out. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Windows Vista's Start menu and its integrated Search box. (credit: Andrew Cunningham) Today Windows Update sees the first mainstream release of the Windows 10 Creators Update and the last public patches, ever, for Windows Vista. Released to manufacturing on November 8, 2006 and shipping to consumers on January 30, 2007, Windows Vista had a troubled development and a troubled life once it shipped. But it was an essential Windows release, laying the groundwork for Windows 7 and beyond. For all the criticism that Vista and Microsoft received, the company never really backtracked on the contentious aspects of the release. After a while, those aspects just stopped being contentious. Troubled development Windows Vista was originally meant to be grander in scope and ambition. Microsoft's Longhorn project envisaged a new database-like file system known as WinFS, a radically new development model and set of APIs based on .NET, and a 3D accelerated user interface built using these APIs. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A November 2014 rally at the White House. Public input played an important role in the net neutrality debate. (credit: Stephen Melkisethian) Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai reportedly wants to get rid of the FCC's net neutrality rules and replace them with "voluntary" commitments from ISPs. The theory goes something like this: as long as ISPs commit to protecting net neutrality in their terms of service, the FCC can eliminate its rules while the Federal Trade Commission would punish ISPs that fail to comply with their net neutrality promises. Under ideal circumstances, this could prevent ISPs from committing egregious violations of net neutrality principles. But "voluntary" isn't just a euphemism—ISPs would only be bound by net neutrality requirements as long as they promise to follow them. Even if all ISPs put the promise into their terms of service agreements, it's not clear what would stop them from removing the promise later. If any new ISPs enter the market, it's also unclear what would compel them to make the same promises. And those aren’t the only problems that would make net neutrality enforcement more difficult under Pai's proposal. Read 34 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains, the Dealmaster is here with a big list of deals for your shopping needs. The top item this week is a $10 promo credit on Amazon when you sign up for a 30-day free trial to Amazon Music. You'll need to enter your credit card number for the trial, but the service is easy enough to cancel in your Amazon settings. Then you get a free $10! We also have the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller back in stock, along with 35 percent off SanDisk SSDs, flash memory, and USB drives. Amazon Music Offer: $10 Amazon Promo Credit w/ 30-Day Free Trial Amazon Music Sign Up (New users only - easy to cancel in settings). Dell Inspiron 15 Core i7-7500u Kaby Lake 1080p 15.6" Laptop w/ AMD Radeon R7 4GB GPU for $573.99 (use code: TENOFF - list price $749.99). 50" Vizio P-Series 4K UltraHD Home Theater Display w/ HDR Vision, 6" Tablet Remote and $300 Dell gift card for $849.99 (list price $999.99). Bowers & Wilkins P3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones (REFURB) for $63.99 (use code: SALE3 - list price $80). Nintendo Switch Pro Controller for $69 (Back in Stock & Shipping). Toucan Outdoor HD Security Camera (Powered via Light Socket Outlet) w/ Siren & 2-Way Audio for $134.99 (list price $199.99). 1TB SanDisk Ultra II 1TB Solid State Drive for $249.99 (list price $329.99). 128GB SanDisk Ultra MicroSDXC Flash Card for $32.99 (list price $42.95). 16.4FT Flexible LED Light Strip for $3.99 (use code: 8V8G5RCB - list price $19.99). Udemy $10 Online Courses: AWS Solutions Architect, An Entire MBA in 1 Course, iOS App Development and more. Lowest price! TurboTax Deluxe + State for $34.89 (Premier for $48 | Home & Business for $51). Laptop and desktop computers Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad SKYLAKE 15.6" 4K Touch Gaming Laptop w/ 4GB GTX 960M $734.99 (use Guest Checkout & Apply code: April50Off - list price $999.99). Dell PowerEdge T30 Intel Pentium G4400 Dual-Core Mini Tower Server for $199 (use code: 199T30 - list price $379). Dell Inspiron 15 Core i7-7500u Kaby Lake 1080p 15.6" Laptop w/ AMD Radeon R7 4GB GPU for $573.99 (use code: TENOFF - list price $749.99). Back in stock! Amazon Fire 7 Tablet for Kids 16GB w/ 2yr Warranty, Free Case, and 1yr Amazon FreeTime for $79.99 (list price $99.99). For more desktop computer deals, visit the TechBargains site. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Google Assistant, Google's voice assistant that powers the Google app on Android phones, tablets, and Google Home, has just gotten a major downgrade. In a move reminiscent of all the forced and user-hostile Google+ integrations, Google has gutted the Google Assistant's shopping list functionality in order to turn it into a big advertisement for Google's shopping site, Google Express. The shopping list has been a major feature of the Google Assistant. You can say "Add milk to my shopping list," and the Google Assistant would dutifully store this information somewhere. The shopping list used to live in Google Keep. Keep is Google's primary note-taking app, making it a natural home for the shopping list with lots of useful tools and management options. Now the shopping list lives in Google Express. Express is an online shopping site, and it has no business becoming a dedicated place to store a shopping list that probably has nothing to do with Google's online marketplace. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Maat Mons, one of the volcanoes of Venus, in a model created with radar data from the Magellan mission. (credit: NASA/JPL) As we've explored the Solar System, some items we're familiar with from Earth's geology have kept appearing in new places. Glaciers, volcanoes, and geysers have all been found on other planets and moons. With all that's familiar, it's easy to forget that one of the defining features of Earth's geology—plate tectonics—is notably absent. There are some hints of it on the icy crust of Europa, but it would have to be powered by a different mechanism there. If there was an obvious candidate for hosting plates, it would be Venus, similar in size and composition to the Earth and home to active volcanoes. But most of Venus' surface appears to have been there for hundreds of millions of years with no sign of the tectonic recycling we have on Earth. New research, however, suggests that some of Venus' crust does get recycled, just through a radically different process—one that may have been active early in Earth's history. While we've been able to map Venus' surface, the planet's thick atmosphere has limited what we know about its surface, and we've not had the sort of repeated imaging that can reveal active geology. Even though we know its surface is littered with volcanoes, for example, we're not currently certain whether any of them are active. But crater counts suggest that most of the material on the surface is hundreds of millions of years old and had been put in place by massive eruptions. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Andia ) Men aged 55 to 69 should talk with their doctors about the possibility of taking a blood-based prostate cancer test. The test comes with many potential problems but brings the benefit of ever so slightly reducing the chance of dying from the cancer. That’s according to a new draft guidance out Tuesday from the US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts appointed by the government to make evidence-based medical recommendations. The new guidance is a bit of a walk-back from the USPSTF’s 2012 recommendation that all men take a hard pass on the blood screening, called a PSA test. Men younger than 55 and those 70 or older are still advised to skip, according to the USPSTF. But, the new guidance opens the door to screening on a case-by-case basis for the 55 to 69 age group. For that group, the task force writes in its draft guidance: “the USPSTF recommends individualized decision-making about screening for prostate cancer after discussion with a clinician, so that each man has an opportunity to understand the potential benefits and harms of screening and to incorporate his values and preferences into his decision.” Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Twitch, Netglow) Since the "feud" between Pewdiepie and mainstream media popped up in February, YouTube's biggest star hasn't stirred up much controversy. Now Pewdiepie, who's real name is Felix Kjellberg, is taking his newest online video endeavor to another outlet: Twitch. He announced at the end of a recent video that he started a Twitch channel called Netglow and will produce a weekly live show entitled Best Club every Sunday at 11am EST. The first episode aired this past weekend. According to Pewdiepie, Netglow has been in the works since before the controversy over his anti-Semitic jokes. "I decided this before, before anything, so don't read it the wrong way," he said. "But I wanted to start doing streams on Twitch." Netlgow was his original name idea for Revelmode, the digital network he helped create with Disney's Maker Studios. Disney cut ties with Pewdiepie after The Wall Street Journal reported on his offensive jokes. Google also responded to those reports by removing him from their preferred advertising network for "family-friendly" creators and cancelling the second season of his YouTube Red show. It appears Pewdiepie may want Netglow to produce content like Revelmode does, but it's unclear if Pewdiepie will be the main content creator, or if he'll bring on other creators to start their own shows. Pewdiepie said he will still be making videos on YouTube, even though a large portion of his videos have been demonetized (the first upload of his video where he announces Netglow got demonetized as well, forcing him to upload a second version). It's not uncommon for YouTube stars to also stream on Twitch, whether they are gaming creators or not. Not only does it let them reach a different audience, but Twitch's live-streaming features are more advanced than YouTube's, giving viewers more special features. While Pewdiepie may have had this idea before his battle with the media and YouTube, it could also be seen as a response to YouTube cracking down on what it sees as offensive content. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton) Unlike our friends over at the ever-stylish GQ, the Ars Orbital HQ is rarely filled with the kinds of fashion-forward accessories a modern man needs, let alone the entirely frivolous, but ultimately more satisfying ones, it doesn't. You can imagine my surprise when London-based mid-priced bag and accessory maker Knomo got in touch to pitch a five-day trial of its latest fashionable fusion of leather and canvas in the form of the #LiveFree [sic] backback. Clearly, it hasn't seen the sort of functional haversack sported by the typical Ars editor. Still, when in Rome, right? After all, there's a reason for that spurious youth-targeted hashtag. Pitched as the "Perfect 24/7 Bag," the #LiveFree is ostensibly targeted at the modern tech-laden city-goer—the sort with artisanal coffee in one hand, iPhone in the other, ready to face the daily grind of "Influencer Marketing" and "Organic Content." There's space for up to a 15-inch laptop, a 10-inch iPad, multiple pockets (one of which blocks RFID signals and thus putative contactless card skimmers), built-in cable management, and plenty of pockets for various tech knick-knacks. There's even Bluetooth tracking and wireless charging. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Apple) Qualcomm has filed a 139-page rebuttal of a lawsuit lodged by Apple in January in which the US chipmaker counterclaimed that the iPhone giant was "misrepresenting facts and making false statements." It alleged that Apple had "breached" and "mischaracterised" deals it had in place with Qualcomm and accused the Tim Cook-run firm of interfering with the chipmaker's "long-standing agreements" with iPhone and iPad manufacturers, such as Foxconn. Some Qualcomm chipsets are loaded into Apple's iPhone 7, while others carry Intel chipsets. In its partially redacted filing, Qualcomm claimed: Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A sample e-mail from Dridex campaign exploiting Microsoft Word zero-day. (credit: Proofpoint) Booby-trapped documents exploiting a critical zeroday vulnerability in Microsoft Word have been sent to millions people around the world in a blitz aimed at installing Dridex, currently one of the most dangerous bank fraud threats on the Internet. As Ars reported on Saturday, the vulnerability is notable because it bypasses exploit mitigations built into Windows, doesn't require targets to enable macros, and works even against Windows 10, which is widely considered Microsoft's most secure operating system ever. The flaw is known to affect most or all Windows versions of Word, but so far no one has ruled out that exploits might also be possible against Mac versions. Researchers from security firms McAfee and FireEye warned that the malicious Word documents are being attached to e-mails, but didn't reveal the scope or ultimate objective of the campaign. In a blog post published Monday night, researchers from Proofpoint filled in some of the missing details, saying the exploit documents were sent to millions of recipients across numerous organizations that were primarily located in Australia. Proofpoint researchers wrote: Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: manley099) Federal prosecutors say they've dealt a fatal blow to Kelihos, a network of more than 10,000 infected computers that was used to deliver spam, steal login passwords, and deliver ransomware and other types of malware since 2010. The US Justice Department announced the takedown on Monday, one day after authorities in Spain reportedly arrested alleged Kelihos operator Pyotr Levashov, according to Reuters. The programmer and alleged botnet kingpin was apprehended after traveling with his family from their home in Russia, which doesn't have an extradition treaty with the US, to Spain, which does have such a treaty. A search warrant application unsealed Monday said prosecutors tied Levashov to Kelihos because he used the same IP address to operate Kelihos and to access his [email protected] e-mail account. The e-mail address and IP addresses were also associated with multiple online accounts in Levashov's name, including Apple iCloud and Google Gmail accounts. On Monday, US officials also unsealed a criminal complaint against Levashov that charged him with wire fraud and unauthorized interception of electronic communications. Levashov allegedly operated Kelihos since 2010. According to authorities, he used the botnet to further a spamming operation that distributed hundreds of millions of e-mails per year pushing counterfeit drugs, work-at-home, and pump-and-dump stock scams. Prosecutors also alleged the defendant used Kelihos to install malware on end-user computers and to harvest passwords to online and financial accounts belonging to thousands of Americans. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Lawrence Berkeley Lab) A new study tracking global investment in renewable energy found that investors spent less money in 2016 to add more renewable energy capacity than in any previous year. In total, investors only spent about $241.6 billion in renewable energy investments in 2016, down 23 percent from 2015. But they got a lot of bang for their buck. According to the collaborative report from the UN, the Frankfurt School, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, investments in “wind, solar, biomass, and waste-to-energy, geothermal, small hydro, and marine sources [like wave and tidal energy]” resulted in the addition of 138.5 GW of energy capacity in 2016. That represents a nine percent increase year-over-year from the 127.5 gigawatts added in 2015. The difference in trends—falling investment but rising capacity—reflects the plummeting prices of certain kinds of renewable energy, especially solar photovoltaic panels and wind installations. In effect, investors are spending less and getting more capacity. And that’s a good thing for reducing pollution that contributes to climate change. According to the report, the proportion of global energy derived from renewable sources rose from 10.3 percent to 11.3 percent year-over-year. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / What's all this gaming blather about Ryzen? Let us explain. (credit: Mark Walton) While AMD's new Ryzen processors offer impressive performance to workloads such as software compilation, media encoding, 3D rendering, and indeed, anything that can take advantage of the 8 cores and 16 simultaneous threads, certain aspects of its gaming performance were uneven. It's still a very strong performer in games, especially for those who like to stream their gameplay to Twitch, but not consistently so. Some games that were expected to perform well on Ryzen didn't. Testers also observed that there were some troublesome interactions with both power management and Ryzen's simultaneous multithreading (SMT), with certain titles showing unexpectedly high performance drop-offs from having these features enabled. There was widespread hope that some combination of game patches and perhaps even operating system changes would go some way toward boosting Ryzen's gaming performance, or at least, making Ryzen perform in a more consistent way. The last few weeks have seen the release of a couple of game patches designed to address certain Ryzen issues. AMD has also released guidance to game developers on how best to use its processor, as well as a new power management profile for Windows 10. Together, we can gain some insight into some of the complexities of developing game software for modern processors and get some understanding of what kind of performance gains gamers might hope to see. Read 44 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / This Nexus 5X, when we reviewed it in 2015, did not malfunction. (credit: Ron Amadeo/Ars Technica) A few weeks ago, Ars wrote about a proposed class-action lawsuit targeting two of LG's flagship devices, the G4 and V10. The suit (PDF) complained of a well-known bootloop issue that either bricked the devices or slowed them to a snail's pace—all to the backdrop of warranties or LG failing to fix the problem. After we published the story, many Android fans were wondering why other LG phones that suffered the same issues were not included in the original lawsuit. Wait no longer: the Southern California federal lawsuit has been amended (PDF) to now include the Nexus 5X, and the LG G5 and LG V20. The updated lawsuit covers every high-profile LG phone from 2015 and 2016. Random reboots Among other things, the suit claims that the phones' processors were inadequately soldered to the motherboard, rendering them "unable to withstand the heat." Initially, the phones begin to freeze, suffer slowdowns, overheat, and reboot at random. Eventually, the suit says, they fail. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge The LeEco/Vizio merger is cancelled. The $2 billion deal, announced last year, would have seen Chinese electronics firm LeEco purchase Vizio, creator of cheap, data-mining smart TVs. In a joint statement today, the two companies said that "the merger agreement to acquire VIZIO will not proceed due to regulatory headwinds." The companies say they will "continue to explore opportunities" to collaborate, but this particular professional marriage is off. LeEco is frequently called "The Netflix of China" due to its popular "LeTV" video service. The cash from LeTV funds the rest of the company, which it has used to aggressively expand into consumer electronics, movie production, car manufacturing, and other areas. The company's purchase of Vizio was a little odd to begin with. LeEco already has its own line of smart TVs and already sells them in the US, so it was never clear what purchasing Vizio have accomplished. For Vizio, the company will have to figure out what "life after LeEco" looks like. Previously Vizio was planning an IPO, but that was derailed by the LeEco purchase. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Beyonce poses with her Grammy trophies in the press room during the 59th Annual Grammy music awards on February 12, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. Unauthorized use of her images has prompted litigation over the DMCA's "safe harbor" provision. (credit: Robyn Beck / Getty Images) The Digital Millennium Copyright Act's so-called "safe harbor" defense to infringement is under fire from a paparazzi photo agency. A new court ruling says the defense may not always be available to websites that host content submitted by third parties. The safe harbor provision is what has given rise to sites like YouTube and various social media platforms. In essence, safe harbor was baked into the DMCA to allow websites to be free from legal liability for infringing content posted by their users—so long as the website timely removes that content at the request of the rights holder. But a San Francisco-based federal appeals court is ruling that, if a website uses moderators to review content posted by third parties, the safe harbor privilege may not apply. That's according to a Friday decision in a dispute brought by Mavrix Photographs against LiveJournal, which hosts the popular celebrity fan forum "Oh No they Didn't." The site hosted Mavrix-owned photos of Beyonce Knowles, Katy Perry, and other stars without authorization. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Roberto Machado Noa ) A 2013 proposal to allow cell phone calls during airplane flights will be thrown out by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC prohibited in-flight phone calls in 1991 because of concerns about interference with wireless networks on the ground. Advances in technology have eliminated those concerns, but tech hasn't changed the fact that in-flight phone calls could be annoying to fellow passengers. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing that the FCC terminate the proceeding that might have lifted the in-flight call ban. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A brightly lit tram in Glasgow encourages people to attend X-rays at the city's hospitals in 1957. (credit: Joseph McKeown/Picture Post/Getty Images) Imaging with X-rays is usually pretty disappointing. The expectation is that, because the wavelength is short—wavelengths of 10nm are about 40 times shorter than those of blue light—you'll see lots of features that you would otherwise have missed. But in reality, mostly you get a blur. This comes down to two problems: X-ray sources are not very bright, and that brightness fluctuates. Researchers are instead forced to compromise. You can either image quickly and cope with the noise of the light source, or you can image slowly and suffer from noise due to the sample shifting about. Either way, you lose. The second issue is that the optic hardware is pretty poor compared to the optics for visible light, so they simply don't capture the X-rays that carry the finest details in the image. So, you might as well have used a very good visible light imaging system or an electron microscope. But researchers have now figured out how to greatly improve the performance of X-ray imaging. All it takes is careful measurements of your X-ray source, a bit of scattered light, and lots of clever math. Scattered pictures Instead of sending X-rays through your imaging target and reading them on the other side, you can recreate an image using light that scatters back toward the source. The light that scatters from an object already carries all the information required to recreate an image of it: the scattering angle, amplitude, and phase of the light can be used to calculate the details of an object. Instead of using poor-quality optics, you can simply put a big detector near the sample and capture the scattered light. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Chet Holifield Federal Building in Laguna Niguel, California. Tens of thousands of visa applications were delivered to the building last week, which is home to one of several USCIS service centers. Last Monday, the government began accepting applications for H-1B visas that are often granted to foreign tech workers. Trucks full of thick Fedex applications lined up before dawn to get their applications in. By Friday, the door was shut. US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) said on Friday they have already maxed out, hitting the limit of 65,000 H-1B visas set by Congress and an additional 20,000 visas that are reserved for applicants who have masters degrees. It's the fifth year in a row that the cap has been met within five days. Some H-1B employers aren't subject to the visa cap, including universities and some non-profits. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Kentucky Coal Museum. (credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM) In what it says is a cost-saving move, the Kentucky Coal Museum is moving to solar power, according to the Associated Press. The museum is having 80 solar panels installed, which it expects will cut $8,000 off its annual electricity bill. The Courier-Journal writes that the museum currently spends $2,100 a month on electricity. The move seems prophetic at a time when tension between the highly polluting coal industry and renewable energy industry is high. Over the past several years, the coal industry struggled to compete with low natural gas prices, as well as plummeting costs of solar and wind energy. The Trump administration has promised to roll back regulations on the coal industry, but that’s not likely to be enough to completely counteract the economic pressures that are making coal relatively expensive to produce and burn. The Kentucky Coal Museum is owned by Southeastern Kentucky Community and Technical College, which is paying for the solar panels. In an interview with local news station WYMT, the school’s communications director, Brandon Robinson, said “it is a little ironic, but you know coal and solar and all the different energy sources work hand in hand. And you know, of course, coal is still king around here.” Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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These are the kinds of graphics that would require Blizzard to "revisit performance" before a Switch port, apparently. Since well before the March launch of the Nintendo Switch, observers have been wondering whether the system would get robust software support from major third-party publishers or if it would instead have to lean more heavily on Nintendo exclusives and games from smaller independent developers. Now, new comments from Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan seem to confirm how porting modern games to such low-powered hardware could be a difficult bottleneck to get through. In a Reddit AMA thread last month, Kaplan vaguely said that "getting [Overwatch] on the Switch is very challenging for us, but we're always open-minded about exploring possible platforms." In a follow-up interview with the UK's Express newspaper published today, Kaplan elaborated. "I think the problem is we've really targeted our min spec in a way that we would have to revisit performance and how to get on that platform," he said. That's a striking admission, especially considering that the nearly year-old Overwatch doesn't exactly require a top-of-the-line PC to play; Blizzard asks for an Intel Core i3 processor and GTX 460 or better at a minimum. The game's strong visual design makes it technically playable at extremely low resolutions too, which could make a port workable even if a full 1080p image couldn't be achieved on the Switch. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Apple's Phil Schiller takes the wraps off the new Mac Pro at WWDC in 2013. (credit: Apple) Last week, Apple did something it never does—it spoke to journalists and pundits on the record about a product that was so far from being released that the company didn't even have prototypes to show off. That's the state of the Mac desktop right now. After the October 2016 product came and went with no mention of the rumored desktops, complaints and anxiety about the state of Apple’s high-end computers reached a fever pitch (my barometer for this sort of thing is what John Siracusa, Marco Arment, and a handful of developers I follow say on their podcasts and Twitter feeds, which is highly unscientific, but I don't think that makes it inaccurate). Apple appeared to be pulling out of the external display business, and its new pro laptops offered less RAM and had worse battery life than some people were happy with. It had been a year since the iMac got an update, two years since the Mac Mini was updated, and more than three years since we heard a single peep about the Mac Pro. In an internal memo a couple of months later, CEO Tim Cook said the company had “great desktops in his roadmap,” but that’s the stock boilerplate response to any questions about future products. Credible reports around the same time that suggested Apple had de-emphasized and slowed down Mac development internally only added fuel to the fire. Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Federal Aviation Administration) The Federal Aviation Administration will bar commercial and hobby drones from flying over 133 US military bases starting on Friday. The FAA issued the order "to address national security concerns." Violators could be fined or prosecuted, the agency said. The regulations are among the first that solely apply to drones. "US military facilities are vital to the nation’s security. The FAA and the Department of Defense have agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of these 133 facilities," the agency said. (Here is a map listing all of the new restricted airspace.) Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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PNAS The palace overlooking the plaza at El Palenque would have been an incredible sight to people living more than 2,300 years ago in Mexico's Oaxaca Valley. The area was built up after a fire destroyed another plaza downslope at El Mogote, and everything about El Palenque was grander than El Mogote. An enormous temple complex bounded the plaza's eastern side. To the north, the palace cascaded down the gentle slope in a series of grand stairways, gorgeously paved platforms covered in smoking braziers, and private state rooms. The king could address his subjects from two airy courtyards facing the plaza. But this ostentatious display of power was less impressive than what the king's subjects couldn't see. What this palace hid behind its fancy colonnades and altars was the elaborate infrastructure of nascent state bureaucracy. Behind the public-facing platforms, stairways and corridors led to over half-a-dozen state rooms. Adjacent to stairs connecting two platforms, archaeologists have recovered the bones of dogs, as if these animals were guarding it. Perhaps that's because the upper platform served as a throne room where the king met with dignitaries and advisers, sometimes staging a human sacrifice. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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