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Industry & Technology

NJ AG: Takedown notice that led to new gun-file lawsuit came from Slovakia—not us

Ars Technica - February 15, 2019 - 3:11pm

Enlarge / Hmm, those don't seem to be the same thing. (credit: Google Maps)

Last week, it appeared that Defense Distributed's battle against the State of New Jersey over a recently enacted "ghost gun" law had new life. This week, a filing from the New Jersey Attorney General's Office puts one of the new lawsuit's inciting incidents into question.

In a February 12 letter (PDF) to District of New Jersey Judge Anne Thompson, NJ Assistant AG Glenn J. Moramarco writes that a recent takedown notice submitted to Cloudflare and aimed at the website CodeIsFreeSpeech was faked.

"A key document supporting Plaintiff's TRO application—a 'takedown notice' purportedly sent by [New Jersey AG's Division of Criminal Justice] to CloudFlare, Inc., which hosts one of the plaintiff's websites, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com—was not in fact issued by DCJ," the NJ AG's office writes in the filing. "[It] appears to have been issued by some entity impersonating the Attorney General's Office."

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ad code 'slows down' browsing speeds

BBC Technology News - February 15, 2019 - 1:42pm
The code putting ads on webpages can stop pages loading by seconds, finds analysis of millions of sites.

Mobile networks call for 5G security inspector

BBC Technology News - February 15, 2019 - 1:33pm
The mobile network industry has called for a new security testing scheme to check 5G equipment.

Tilly Lockey: 'I can paint with my bionic arms'

BBC Technology News - February 15, 2019 - 1:24pm
Tilly Lockey, 13, has bionic arms that are so sophisticated she can now use a paintbrush and apply make-up.

Rocket Report: Russia’s new spacecraft; is the US sabotaging Iranian rockets?

Ars Technica - February 15, 2019 - 1:00pm

Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (credit: Aurich Lawson/SpaceX)

Welcome to Edition 1.36 of the Rocket Report! Lots of news this week on smaller rockets and the spaceports around the world that aspire to launch them. There's also an interesting report that may explain, at least in part, why recent Iranian attempts to launch rockets have ended in failure. And so much more...

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Firefly targeting late 2019 launch. As part of a feature, Ars explores the factors that led to the dissolution of Firefly in 2016 and the investments by Max Polyakov that brought the company back in 2017. The company's first attempt at its Alpha rocket strove for idealism (with aspects such as an aerospike engine design) that might ultimately have cut costs but required more time and development funds to realize. Eventually, both of those resources ran out.

Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dealmaster: As Switch sales slow, Nintendo launches a new bundle

Ars Technica - February 15, 2019 - 8:46am

Enlarge / The bundle includes the neon red and neon blue Joy-Cons. (credit: Mark Walton)

Nintendo has released a new Switch bundle that pairs the popular game console with a $35 credit to its eShop digital store. The company announced the bundle last week, but the deal has now become available at various retailers, including Walmart, Amazon, GameStop, and Best Buy.

The bundle retails for $299.99, the Switch’s standard going rate, with the $35 credit available in the form of a download code packed with the console. Nintendo says the credit can be put toward any purchase in the eShop. The company has not provided a specific time frame for the new promotion, only saying that the bundle will be available while supplies last.

This isn’t the absolute best deal we’ve seen for the Switch—a handful of coupon codes and one-off promotions have dropped it as low as $225 in the past year. But those deals have typically been brief, and getting what effectively amounts to a $35 discount is still a pleasant bonus for those who have been interested in picking up the console. For reference, Nintendo’s primary Switch deal for Black Friday was simply bundling Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the device.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Made In Chelsea's Andy Jordan: Being an influencer made me 'a puppet'

BBC Technology News - February 15, 2019 - 8:03am
Made In Chelsea's Andy Jordan has a warning about the realities of being a social media influencer.

Ford puts bed hoggers in their place, and other news

BBC Technology News - February 15, 2019 - 2:20am
BBC Click's Jen Copestake looks at some of the best technology stories of the week.

Gambling, porn, and piracy on iOS: Apple’s enterprise certificate woes continue

Ars Technica - February 15, 2019 - 1:10am

Enlarge / Apps on an iPhone X. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Rival tech giants like Google and Facebook aren’t the only companies abusing Apple’s enterprise certifications to distribute unapproved apps in the Apple App Store on iOS, according to reports from Reuters and TechCrunch.

Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program is intended to facilitate distribution of apps across devices internally within corporations, governments, and other organizations. Apple explicitly forbids its use for any other purpose in its terms of service.

But the Reuters report describes the use of enterprise certificates to distribute pirated versions of popular iOS software like Minecraft, Spotify, and Pokémon Go. For example, a free version of Minecraft (which is normally a premium app) is distributed by TutuApp using the method. Another pirate distributor, AppValley, offers a version of the Spotify app with the ads that support Spotify and the music artists stripped out completely.

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Meet the tech entrepreneurs tackling sexual harassment

BBC Technology News - February 15, 2019 - 1:00am
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, new apps are helping victims gather and share evidence.

TVA board votes to close coal plants despite Trump tweet

Ars Technica - February 15, 2019 - 12:42am

Enlarge / A coal train passes beside two cooling towers during unloading operations at the Tennessee Valley Authority Paradise Fossil Plant in Paradise, Kentucky, on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. (credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On Thursday, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a federally owned utility that operates in Tennessee and Kentucky, voted 5 to 2 to close two coal-fired power-generating units by 2023, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The decision includes closing the last coal-fired unit at the Paradise Fossil Plant by 2020, as well as closing the coal-fired Bull Run Steam Plant by 2023. On Thursday morning, the TVA tweeted: "The TVA Board votes to retire Paradise Unit 3 and Bull Run within the next few years. Their decision was made after extensive reviews and public comments and will ensure continued reliable power at the lowest cost feasible. We will work with impacted employees and communities."

The TVA announced back in August that it would review the viability of the two generators. According to the Times Free Press, the TVA's Chief Financial Officer John Thomas estimated that "the retirement of the two plants will save TVA $320 million, because the plants are the least efficient of TVA's coal plants and are not needed to meet TVA's power needs."

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Tetris 99 isn’t just a great twist on a classic—it’s a gameplay revolution

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 10:49pm

Enlarge / What happens when more people get their hands on Tetris pieces in a single online match? A lot more than you might realize. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

In an interview with Ars Technica last year, Brendan Greene, the game designer best known for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), offered a throwaway opinion: every genre should have a battle royale mode. It wasn't necessarily the best-received suggestion at the time, as backlash against the battle royale phenomenon had begun, but Greene was in a good position to say it. He'd already struck gold multiple times slapping battle royale into other games as a modder.

Since then, we've mostly seen battle royale options land in PUBG-like shooters, but Wednesday's Nintendo Direct presentation shook everything up with its own surprise launch. Tetris 99, a Nintendo-published game, would launch immediately on Wednesday as a "free" perk, with zero microtransactions, for paying Nintendo Switch Online customers.

Shortly after cataloguing the Direct's firestorm of announcements, I booted up my Nintendo Switch and confirmed two things. First, this was Tetris.

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google’s Waymo risks repeating Silicon Valley’s most famous blunder

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 10:10pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images / Waymo)

Everyone in Silicon Valley knows the story of Xerox inventing the modern personal computer in the 1970s and then failing to commercialize it effectively. Yet one of Silicon Valley's most successful companies, Google's Alphabet, appears to be repeating Xerox's mistake with its self-driving car program.

Xerox launched its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1970. By 1975, its researchers had invented a personal computer with a graphical user interface that was almost a decade ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the commercial version of this technology wasn't released until 1981 and proved to be an expensive flop. Two much younger companies—Apple and Microsoft—co-opted many of Xerox's ideas and wound up dominating the industry.

Google's self-driving car program, created in 2009, appears to be on a similar trajectory. By October 2015, Google was confident enough in its technology to put a blind man into one of its cars for a solo ride in Austin, Texas.

Read 65 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The 2019 Genesis G70—can a good car overcome brand snobbery?

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 9:58pm

It has been fascinating to watch the progression of the Korean car industry—these days all under the umbrella of Hyundai Group—over the past decade. Not too long ago, Kia and Hyundai were known for cheap and potentially unreliable cars that felt a generation behind the competition from Japan. Today, the brands top annual surveys for reliability, and some of their products are among the best in class; we've been particular fans of the Kia Niro hybrids, and the Hyundai Nexo fuel cell EV even made me forget about my hydrogen skepticism while I was driving it.

Perhaps the hardest hill to climb is in the luxury end of the market. At first, Genesis was a name for a particular Hyundai model, but in 2015 a decision was made to set up a new brand of its own. Or, as an SAT question might phrase it, Genesis is to Hyundai as Lexus is to Toyota.

But the luxury market is a tough nut to crack; sales of sedans are in freefall, they tell us, and with these cars, badges matter. Plenty of people want an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz because it's an Audi, a BMW, or a Mercedes-Benz and because of the way other people perceive those marques.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

NASA emphasizing “speed” in its return to the Moon

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 9:26pm

Enlarge / NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine would like the agency to return to the Moon "fast" but sustainably. (credit: NASA)

On Thursday, NASA leaders held an industry day to answer questions about the space agency's plans to develop landers that will ultimately enable a human return to the Moon. Their overriding message to the US aerospace community is that NASA is serious about returning to the Moon, and the agency needs the community's help in order to do so as soon as possible.

"We want to strike a balance between getting to the Moon as fast as possible while also, when we get to the Moon, we're there to stay," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a media call before the event. "This is the big vision."

First step

NASA has a two-pronged approach in its return to the Moon. To reach the lunar surface quickly and support the nascent commercial industry interested in exploring there, the agency launched a commercial lunar-payloads program last year. That program meant NASA was offering to buy rides for small scientific payloads to the Moon from nine different providers.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon cancels New York City campus plan

BBC Technology News - February 14, 2019 - 9:10pm
The internet giant hit local opposition over the roughly $3bn in subsidies it had been promised.

JPMorgan is creating a cryptocurrency pegged to the dollar

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 9:02pm

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. (credit: Steve Jurvetson)

JPMorgan Chase is developing a new cryptocurrency called JPM Coin whose value will be tied to the US dollar, the bank said on Thursday. The new private blockchain platform is designed to help large JPMorgan clients move money around the world. The new cryptocurrency will be built atop JPMorgan's Quorum blockchain technology, a variant of Ethereum that has been modified to serve the needs of a major financial institution like JPMorgan.

The Ethereum network is public and open to anyone; Quorum is a private blockchain where a network owner can control who has access. All transactions on the Ethereum network are visible to everyone on the network. In contrast, nodes in the Quorum network can create encrypted transactions (and smart contracts) that are only visible to parties to the transaction.

Quorum also jettisons the wasteful proof-of-work algorithm that secures the Ethereum network in favor of a simpler scheme that relies on majority voting among network nodes. Public blockchain networks like Ethereum use proof-of-work algorithms to guard against Sybil attacks, in which someone tries to take over a network by creating a lot of zombie nodes. But Sybil attacks aren't a concern in a permissioned blockchain like Quorum, because each node is tied to a real-world identity that has been vetted by the network owner.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft begins work on its 2020 Windows releases in new preview

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 8:49pm

Enlarge / Windows is now perpetually under construction. (credit: David Holt)

Microsoft has published a new preview release of Windows 10, build 18836, to participants of the "Skip Ahead" group. But it's not quite the preview that they were expecting to get.

Microsoft's preview program has a number of different channels to let people use and test Windows feature updates, Microsoft's twice-yearly Windows 10 upgrades. The two main channels are Fast and Slow; Fast receives builds more regularly, while Slow generally receives only those builds that are felt to be stable. Both channels look ahead to the next feature update. For example, right now, the stable Windows 10 version is 1809. The Fast and Slow channels are receiving previews of version 1903, codenamed 19H1, which is due for release in April.

Skip Ahead is a third channel. Most of the time, Skip Ahead is identical to the Fast channel, but in the last few weeks of each update's development, the two diverged. The Fast ring continues to receive builds of the next feature update; Skip Ahead, well, skips ahead to the update after the next one. As such, one would expect today's Skip Ahead release to be a preview of 19H2, version 1909, due in October. But it isn't; it's skipping ahead not one but two releases, all the way to 20H1, due in April 2020.

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Our favorite psychopath, Villanelle, is back in trailer for Killing Eve S2

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 8:35pm

Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is back for another round of cat and mouse with Eve (Sandra Oh) in Killing Eve season 2 trailer.

Killing Eve topped the list of our favorite TV shows last year, and we've been eagerly awaiting news of a second season. So BBC America gave us a Valentine's Day gift: the first trailer for season 2, picking up right where the first season left off.

(Spoilers for season 1 below.)

Based on Luke Jennings' series of thriller novellas, Codename Villanelle, Killing Eve stars Jodie Comer as Villanelle, a self-described psychopathic killer for hire. Her string of corpses catches the attention of an MI5 (later MI6) officer named Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), who is obsessed with female killers and correctly guesses there is a new player among their ranks. What follows is a sexually charged cat-and-mouse game where it's not entirely clear who is the predator and who is the prey.

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Dealmaster: Take $20 off Red Dead Redemption 2 or Marvel’s Spider-Man

Ars Technica - February 14, 2019 - 8:21pm

Enlarge (credit: TechBargains)

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by a pair of deals on high-profile video games that launched toward the end of 2018, as both Red Dead Redemption 2 and Marvel's Spider-Man are currently down to $40. In both cases, that's a 33% discount.

While Spider-Man has hit this price a couple times in the past, this is as cheap as we've seen Red Dead 2 at a major retailer since launch. Note that both deals here apply to the physical copies of the game, so you won't be able to play either immediately upon purchasing, but the savings should make the wait worthwhile.

No video game is objectively great, but for what it's worth, we liked Spider-Man and Red Dead 2 enough to include both in our best games of 2018 list a couple months ago. You should read our reviews for each game for a more in-depth look, but if you want the Dealmaster's ultra-short take: Red Dead 2, while paced a bit slowly and hamstrung by a few of Rockstar's most outdated game conventions, is still as gorgeous, staggeringly detailed, and engrossing as you'd expect from the GTA maker. Spider-Man, meanwhile, is light on narrative substance but as gratifying to play as any action game in recent memory. It's like playing a Marvel movie.

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