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Industry & Technology

Cook your burgers well this weekend: Beef tied to massive E. coli outbreak

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 10:24pm

Enlarge / Organic hamburgers are grilled at a outdoor Farmer's Market August 15, 2013, in Washington, DC. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images (credit: Getty | Paul Richards)

It may be safe to eat salad again, but tasty meatballs and juicy burgers are in for some side eye.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday announced that ground beef appears to be the culprit in the latest, ongoing multi-state outbreak of E. coli infections.

The outbreak began early last month and has sickened at least 109 people across six states since then, making it the third largest multistate E. coli outbreak in the last two decades. Thirteen of those 109 cases have been tallied since Tuesday, April 9. Additional illnesses that started as far back as March 19 may not yet be reported, the agency cautioned, suggesting the outbreak could continue to bulk up. So far, 17 people have been hospitalized.

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FCC “consumer advisory” panel includes ALEC, big foe of municipal broadband

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 10:04pm

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at a press conference on October 1, 2018, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Mark Wilson )

A committee that advises the Federal Communications Commission on consumer-related matters now includes a representative of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lobbies against municipal broadband, net neutrality, and other consumer protection measures.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his Consumer Advisory Committee's new makeup on Wednesday. One new member is Jonathon Hauenschild, director of ALEC's Task Force on Communications and Technology. He and other Consumer Advisory Committee will serve two-year terms.

ALEC writes model state laws and urges state legislatures to adopt them, and it has helped convince about 20 states to pass laws that make it difficult or impossible for cities and towns to offer broadband service.

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New video of Intelsat 29e satellite reveals dramatic “anomaly”

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 9:41pm

After another satellite went out of service in geostationary orbit this week, at least temporarily, new data now suggests the spacecraft may not be recoverable.

On Wednesday, the satellite operator Intelsat acknowledged a "service outage" on its Intelsat 29e satellite, which had affected maritime, aeronautical, and wireless operator customers in Latin America, the Caribbean, and North Atlantic. During the incident on Sunday, April 7, the spacecraft's propulsion system "experienced damage that caused a leak of the propellant on board the satellite," Intelsat said. At that time, Intelsat was periodically losing communication with the satellite, but the company was working with its manufacturer, Boeing, to restore the connection.

However, new data from ExoAnalytic Solutions, which has a network of 300 telescopes around the planet to track satellite movements in geostationary space, shows the situation has gotten markedly worse.

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Microsoft’s Spring Sale makes Xbox Game Pass an absolute bargain

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 9:00pm

Enlarge / Ten days to ponder whether Fallout 76 is worth a console discount. Hmm. (credit: Microsoft)

We're expecting some imminent changes to Microsoft's Game Pass service, but right now the company is offering something of a bargain: three months of Xbox Game Pass, with more than 100 games available, for just $1.

This is part of Microsoft's broader Spring Sale, which includes some significant discounts on both Xbox and PC games, consoles, and accessories. One month of Gold is also available for $1.

Because nothing's ever easy, the exact deals on offer depend on which day you want to buy. Most deals run through April 22, though a few go a little shorter or longer, and some deals aren't available until next week. Aside from the Game Pass, the other standout is $100 off certain Xbox One X models, bringing them down to $399. The downside? They come with a bundled copy of Fallout 76.

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Dealmaster: The iPhone SE is back (again) at Apple, starting at $249

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 8:46pm

Enlarge (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

The iPhone SE is available for purchase again as Apple brought the small handset back to the clearance section of its online store. While supplies last, you can get a 32GB iPhone SE for $249 and a few select 128GB models for $299. Those prices represent up to $150 off of the iPhone SE's listing price of $349 to $449.

This isn't the first time in recent memory that the iPhone SE has popped up discounted on Apple's website. A few weeks ago, Apple listed a small number of the handsets, but they sold out within hours. It's unclear how long these deals will last, but we expect this batch of clearance iPhone SEs to disappear just as quickly as the last.

The relatively tiny iPhone first debuted back in March 2016 and has gleaned a passionate following among those who prefer smaller handsets. It has a 4-inch IPS Retina display (with bezels that would make the current family of iPhones shudder), a physical Home button, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, among other features. It runs on Apple's A9 chipset and, while it doesn't have the newest technology for FaceID, it does have TouchID.

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Yet another state (Washington, this time) passed 100% clean energy legislation

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 6:41pm

Enlarge / The Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state is the largest hydroelectric producer in the United States. A generator rotor stands on the floor of the Grand Coulee's Third power plant for refurbishing on August 9, 2016 in Grand Coulee, Washington. (credit: Photo by Alfredo Sosa/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images.)

On Thursday, Washington state's House of Representatives passed a bill that will require 100 percent of the state's electricity generation to be carbon emissions-free by 2045.

A previous bill was passed in the state's Senate in early March, though the House amended its version, so the Senate will have to vote again on the bill's updated language, according to the Associated Press. However, the bill previously passed the Senate on a 28-19 vote, and it is expected to pass again. The legislation was part of a key campaign promise made by Governor Jay Inslee, who is expected to sign the resulting bill.

Washington has massive hydroelectric resources as well as a 1.1 gigawatt (GW) nuclear power facility in Richland, Washington. Seventy-five percent of the electricity it produces is already free of carbon emissions.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been revealed with a stunning trailer

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 6:21pm

On Friday, a world premiere trailer at the annual Star Wars Celebration event confirmed the name of the final film in the "Skywalker Saga." Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the official name for Episode IX, which is slated to land in theaters "this Christmas."

After hearing narration from Luke Skywalker ("A thousand generations live in you now, but this is your fight"), the trailer focuses largely on dramatic action sequences. We see a few Millennium Falcon flights and some desert-speeder combat before this teaser reveals at least one scene starring Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. (We already knew Fisher would appear in the film by way of footage shot before her 2016 death.) This new footage concludes with the primary new-trilogy cast staring at the landed wreckage of a Death Star.

The trailer appeared at the end of an hour-long event hosted by CBS' Stephen Colbert; other reveals included world-premiere photos of various cast members in the film and the live-action unveiling of BB-8's new robotic buddy, a one-wheeled junk-heap character named Dio.

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Liverpool 'dropout' jailed for Silk Road dark web site

BBC Technology News - April 12, 2019 - 5:58pm
Investigators believe Thomas White traded around £70m worth of goods online on his Silk Road site.

Ajit Pai proposes $20 billion for “up to” gigabit-speed rural broadband

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 5:55pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Henrik5000)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing a $20.4 billion rural broadband fund that could connect up to four million homes and small businesses over the next ten years.

The new program will be part of the Universal Service Fund (USF), and it will be similar to an existing USF program that began during the Obama administration. In 2015, the USF's Connect America Fund (CAF) awarded $9 billion for rural broadband deployment—$1.5 billion annually for six years—in order to connect 3.6 million homes and businesses.

Carriers that accepted the CAF money are required to finish the broadband deployments by the end of 2020. Pai's proposed Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will be the follow-on program, an FCC spokesperson told Ars. The fund would "inject $20.4 billion into high-speed broadband networks in rural America over the next decade," the FCC said.

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We can admit it—we’re dazzled by the controlled fury of the Falcon Heavy

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 5:01pm

Sometimes, you've just got to pause for a moment to appreciate great feats of engineering.

On Thursday, before it took off, the Falcon Heavy rocket stood on a Florida launch pad and packed the energy equivalent of a tactical nuclear weapon. Then, as it launched, all of this energy poured forth from 27 engines in a meticulously controlled explosion for the purpose of sending a 6-ton satellite into geostationary orbit.

The single image below, of those 27 engines burning against the sunset backdrop along the Florida coast, may in some small measure put that achievement into perspective.

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You cheated not only the game, but you became a meme

BBC Technology News - April 12, 2019 - 4:39pm
A Twitter user's exaggerated statement becomes so viral Sega joins in the fun with a creative video.

Stressed-out laser diode may deliver 200Gb/s data rates

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 4:13pm

Enlarge / Laser beams illuminating unit of Diode Pumped Green Laser. (credit: Forrest Anderson | The LIFE Images Collection | Getty Images)

The data usage of the modern world is absolutely mind-boggling. We have giant, air-conditioned buildings dedicated to shuffling bits around at high speed. And for what? To ensure that Instagram can tell Facebook to tell its advertisers that you really love rubber duckies.

Vicious truth-telling aside, the infrastructure underlying data centers is based on lasers that are modulated at high speed. Thanks to some recently published research, however, the latest and greatest of the hardware currently in our data centers will start to look very slow. A speed-up of about a factor of 10 may be just around the corner.

Birefringence is your friend

It turns out that the key to making a laser go faster is to make it a bit shoddy. Let’s break that down.

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Internet Archive denies hosting 'terrorist' content

BBC Technology News - April 12, 2019 - 2:05pm
Europol has sent 550 "false" demands to the site asking for "propaganda" to be removed immediately.

DVD and Blu-ray sales nearly halved over five years, MPAA report says

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 12:58pm

Enlarge / Samsung's UBS-K8500, introduced in 2015, was positioned as the world's first UltraHD, 4K Blu-ray player. (credit: Mark Walton)

In its annual Theatrical Home Entertainment Market Environment report, the Motion Picture Association of America described an immensely sharp drop-off of physical media sales over the past five years. According to the data, which was obtained from DEG and IHS Markit, global sales of video disc formats (which in this context means DVD, Blu-ray, and UltraHD Blu-ray) were $25.2 billion in 2014 but only $13.1 in 2018. That's a drop in the ballpark of 50 percent.

Don't expect 8K Blu-rays or other emerging quality-focused formats to turn the tide, either. Market data published by Forbes showed that the aging, low-definition DVD format still accounts for 57.9 percent of physical media sales, and 4K Blu-rays are only 5.3 percent.

Samsung introduced the very first UltraHD (that's the industry certification for 4K discs) Blu-ray in 2015 but told the press it was stopping manufacture of Blu-ray players in the US this year—and not just 4K ones, either. Chinese OEM Oppo made a similar announcement last year, though Sony and Panasonic continue to make dedicated Blu-ray players. Also, Microsoft and Sony's game consoles still play Blu-rays.

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Upskirting now a crime after woman's campaign

BBC Technology News - April 12, 2019 - 12:56pm
Gina Martin campaigned after a man photographed her at a festival, changing the law in England and Wales.

Bounty pregnancy club fined £400,000 over data handling

BBC Technology News - April 12, 2019 - 12:54pm
The club shared the personal data of more than 14 million people without proper consent.

Wikileaks: Document dumps that shook the world

BBC Technology News - April 12, 2019 - 12:39pm
Since 2006, Wikileaks has published thousands of classified documents and emails.

Rocket Report: Virgin to fly from Guam, why SpaceX is mum on the Moon plan

Ars Technica - April 12, 2019 - 12:00pm

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

Welcome to Edition 1.44 of the Rocket Report! There remains no let-up in the world of lift, with lots of activity in the realm of smallsat launchers as well as some interesting speculation about the future of Aerojet's rocket engine business. Oh, and we think we know why SpaceX hasn't had too much to say yet about a Falcon Heavy Moon mission.

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.

Relativity announces first launch contract. The California-based rocket company Relativity announced its first customer on Friday, the global satellite operator Telesat. The contract for flights on the Terran 1 rocket includes "multiple" launches, but in an interview with Ars Relativity CEO Tim Ellis said he could not provide additional details. Although this is the first contract the company has chosen to announce, he said, Relativity has signed other binding deals earlier.

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Disney, Netflix, Amazon: The battle for streaming survival

BBC Technology News - April 12, 2019 - 11:54am
As Disney moves into streaming TV what will it mean for Netflix, Apple and Amazon?

World Snooker Championship: Mark Williams left off official video game cover

BBC Technology News - April 12, 2019 - 11:29am
Snooker fans wonder where the world champion could be on the official video game's jacket.

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