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Industry & Technology

Firefox Send lets you send files up to 2.5GB with time and download limits

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 6:31pm

Mozilla has publicly launched its Firefox Send file-sharing service after a lengthy testing period. It allows you to send files via a link to anyone and set conditions for access like a time period or number of downloads before the file expires.

Firefox Send can handle files as large as 2.5GB. When the Test Pilot period for the service began in August of 2017, the limit was 1GB; that limit still applies until you sign in with your Firefox account (opening an account is free).

You can set a limit to how many times the file can be downloaded before it is deleted from the servers: one, two, three, four, five, 20, 50, or 100 times. You can also set a time limit before deletion—seven days, one day, one hour, or five minutes. Finally, you can set a password of your choice for access to the file. After you go through this brief process, you'll get a link to send to the recipient to download the file.

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Yes, 5G will cost you more—Verizon plans $10 add-on charge for 5G access

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 6:06pm

Enlarge (credit: Verizon)

Verizon will launch its 5G mobile service in April, but it will only be available in two cities at first, and customers will have to pay an extra $10 a month to access it.

One bit of good news is that Verizon won't apply throttling (or "de-prioritization") to the 5G service, but that may change later on, and slowdowns will continue to apply to Verizon's existing 4G service.

Verizon today announced that its 5G network will go live on April 11 in "select areas of" Chicago and Minneapolis and eventually hit "more than 30" US cities in 2019. To use the 5G service at launch, you'll have to pay $50 for "the Verizon-exclusive 5G Moto Mod," which can be attached to a Motorola Moto Z3, a phone that Verizon sells for $480.

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Clowning on NASA: Impressionist James Adomian on his Bond-villain Elon Musk

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 5:24pm

Enlarge (credit: Wojtek Arciszewski / SXSW)

AUSTIN, Texas—In 2018, Elon Musk showed up at South by Southwest to inspire humanity. In 2019, "Elon Musk" showed up to destroy it.

“By the way, my accent? It’s correct," "Musk" told a sold out theater on Friday night toward the beginning of "his" SXSW Comedy keynote, Elon Musk: The Frightening and Awful Future of Humanity. "I’m South African and also Canadian, so I’m evil but kind of shy about it.”

Elon Musk‘s plot to destroy SXSW failed last night ... for now ...#SXSW2019 #sxswcomedy #redplanetredherring

Activision adds classic Spyro subtitles months after fan outcry [Updated]

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 4:57pm

More than 35 minutes of Spyro Reignited Trilogy cut scenes, none of which can be enjoyed by deaf or hard-of-hearing gamers (or those with the TV on mute).

Update (March 13, 2019): Four months after its release, the latest patch notes for Spyro Reignited Trilogy note that the game has now "added subtitles in all languages (across all three games) for previously unsupported cinematics." The subtitles, which can be toggled on or off, include "character headers to identify active speakers; succinct line splits for readability; [and] colored text for improved character association in most languages," according to the notes.

Activision and Toys for Bob have yet to add similar subtitle options to 2017's Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy.

Original story

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Microsoft brings (some of) DirectX 12 to Windows 7 to boost WoW multithreading

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 4:52pm

Enlarge (credit: Blizzard)

Even though there are just a few months left before Windows 7 stops receiving security updates, Microsoft has rather surprisingly ported a chunk of DirectX 12 to the decade-old operating system.

The latest patch for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, version 8.1.5, includes the user-mode components of the Direct3D 12 (D3D12) runtime, modified to run on Windows 7. Blizzard found that there was a "substantial framerate improvement" from updating WoW to use D3D12, thanks to D3D12's improved support for distributing the work of building graphical scenes across multiple threads. For complex environments with lots of on-screen objects, this multithreading can provide a healthy performance boost.

Microsoft insists that Windows 10 remains the best place to run D3D12 applications. This is probably true, as the company has continued to update the driver model and D3D stack to reduce the amount of "stuff" between high-performance graphical applications and the underlying hardware, increase the range of operations that can be performed in multiple threads, improve the programmability of GPUs (especially for computation tasks), and enable new hardware features such as the accelerated raytracing in Nvidia's latest hardware. However, it's also been clear that none of these changes are absolutely essential to having most parts of D3D12 on Windows 7. After all, the Vulkan API, successor to OpenGL, is available on Windows 7, using Windows 7 video drivers, and it offers many of the same multithreading benefits as D3D12.

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Gearbox teases likely Borderlands 3 announcement for March 28

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 4:44pm

Enlarge / Exit 3, eh? (credit: Gearbox / Twitter)

Here at Ars, we're usually reluctant to write stories about the mere announcement that yet another announcement of a video game is coming soon. But we'll make an exception today for apparent news about Borderlands 3, the long-expected continuation of a popular shooter series that has been missing-in-action for years now.

The latest hint that the sequel is actually, finally ready to be shown off is a single tweet from the official Gearbox account. It shows a cel-shaded highway sign in a very Borderlands-style desert with the words "March 28 Boston MA" written on it.

That info corresponds to the time and place of PAX East, where Gearbox just happens to be hosting a "main theater show" at 2pm EDT on March 28. That presentation promises "never-before-seen reveals, exclusives, and surprises" according to its public schedule listing, which is pretty suggestive in and of itself.

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Anti-vax parents sue to keep unvaccinated kids in school during outbreak

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 4:30pm

Enlarge / A baby with measles. (credit: CDC)

As New York’s Rockland County grapples with a large and lengthy outbreak of measles, a group of anti-vaccine parents sued officials for temporarily barring their unvaccinated children from school—and the county is not having it.

In a fiery response, Rockland County Attorney Thomas Humbach forcefully defended the legality of the county’s move, which was intended to thwart the spread of disease. He also went so far as to cast doubt on the validity of the religious exemptions the parents had used to opt their children out of required vaccinations.

“The [Rockland County Health] Commissioner, Dr. Patricia Ruppert, has every legal right, under New York State's Public Health Law and the County's Sanitary Code, to take every necessary step to stop the outbreak of measles in this county,” Humbach said in a statement released to the press.

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NASA to consider use of private rockets for first Orion lunar mission

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 4:14pm

Enlarge / SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell receives an American flag from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a NASA event in Houston to announce astronaut crews. (credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

On Wednesday morning, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine appeared before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to discuss how to ensure US leadership in space. He used the appearance to make what is, for the aerospace community at least, a shocking announcement about the oft-delayed first launch of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and its Orion crew capsule.

"SLS is struggling to meet its schedule," he said. "We are now understanding better how difficult this project is, and it’s going to take some additional time. I want to be really clear. I think we as an agency need to stick to our commitment. If we tell you, and others, that we’re going to launch in June of 2020 around the Moon, I think we should launch around the Moon in June of 2020. And I think it can be done. We should consider, as an agency, all options to accomplish that objective."

And with that comment, Bridenstine opened the door to launching the Exploration Mission-1—which will not carry crew but will test Orion in a deep-space environment over three weeks—on commercial rockets.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google Hardware makes cuts to laptop and tablet development, cancels products

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 3:41pm

Enlarge / Google's Pixelbook. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

A report from Business Insider claims that Google has axed "dozens" of employees from its laptop and tablet division. BI's sources describe the move as "roadmap cutbacks" and also say that Google will likely "pare down the portfolio" in the future.

Google's Hardware division is run by Rick Osterloh and is expected to launch a game streaming console later this month. The division is responsible for the Pixel phones, Google Home speakers, the Chromecast, Google Wi-Fi, and lately, the Nest smart home division.

For "laptops and tablets," the group's most recent hardware products have been the Pixel Slate and Pixelbook. The Pixel Slate was a weird Chrome OS tablet with a detachable keyboard, made as a competitor to the Microsoft Surface and Apple iPad Pro. The Pixelbook, like the Chromebook Pixel before it, is just a high-end Chrome OS laptop. The tablet is, well, a Google tablet, and as usual, it debuted to a lukewarm reception. The Pixelbook, though, is a well-liked (if expensive) laptop for people who want a simple Chrome OS device in a high-quality package.

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Jumia to be first African start-up on NY Stock Exchange

BBC Technology News - March 13, 2019 - 3:35pm
The e-commerce company is to become first African start-up to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Drones: Six positive ways they can be used

BBC Technology News - March 13, 2019 - 2:48pm
Extended drone no-fly zones have come into force around airports, but the technology isn't all bad.

IBM used Flickr photos for facial-recognition project

BBC Technology News - March 13, 2019 - 2:07pm
Some people are said to be unaware that their data had been used for a facial-recognition project.

Japan Sega game sales halted after cocaine arrest

BBC Technology News - March 13, 2019 - 1:51pm
Japanese sales of Sega's Judgment are put on hold following the arrest of an actor involved in the game.

Study: Hacking 10 percent of self-driving cars would cause gridlock in NYC

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 1:05pm

Enlarge / A traffic jam in New York City. (credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2015, a pair of hackers demonstrated just how easy it was to break into the UConnect system of a Jeep Cherokee, remotely manipulating the speed, braking, steering, even shutting the car down entirely. Vehicles on the road will only have greater interconnectivity from this point forward, with self-driving cars on the horizon. That poses a unique potential risk: if someone can hack one car, what happens if they manage to hack many at once in a major metropolitan city?

That question inspired scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology to quantify the likely impact of such a large-scale hack on traffic flow in New York City. Skanda Vivek, a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech, described the study's findings at the American Physical Society's 2019 March meeting, held last week in Boston. Worst-case scenario: a small-scale hack affecting just ten percent of cars on the road would be sufficient to cause city-wide gridlock, essentially cutting half of Manhattan off from the rest of the city. And unlike compromised data, compromised vehicles can lead to physical injury.

Vivek and his colleagues performed computer simulations of traffic flow in Manhattan, using a statistical method called percolation theory. If that reminds you of brewing coffee, that's exactly the right image. Percolation theory is a mathematical model of a smooth, continuous phase transition (as opposed to a rapid one, like flicking a light switch), similar to water seeping through roasted ground coffee beans until it shifts into a new state: "coffee." Hot water seeping through packed coffee grains will hunt for the most viable path. The more connected routes that are open, the more likely it is the water will filter through. Traffic works much the same way. Cut off too many routes, and there won't be sufficient connectivity for cars to filter through.

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All signs point to a Google game console announcement at GDC

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 12:51pm

Enlarge / A (not serious) artist's conception of what Google's gaming hardware might look like. (credit: Ron Amadeo / Apple)

Normally, Google showing up to the Game Developers Conference isn't a huge deal. The company does this pretty much every year—Android smartphones and Google Play are a pretty big gaming platform, after all—and it shows up with livestreams and blog posts and all the usual festivities. This year, though, is different. Google has been sending out vague teasers since last month for a GDC event, but as the date approaches, the company has been dropping more and more hints of exactly what it is announcing: Google is launching video game hardware for the Project Stream platform.

A new YouTube video for the event posted today asks people to "Gather around as we unveil Google’s vision for the future of gaming at GDC19." Google recently wrapped up the "Project Stream" beta test, which streamed a full version of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey from the Internet to any desktop version of Chrome. A game-streaming platform certainly fits a vision for the future of gaming, but this is still just a piece of software.

Google hardware

There are two big pieces of evidence that this is a hardware announcement. First, Google is a heavily compartmentalized company, and the person promoting this event on Twitter is none other than Risk Osterloh, Google's senior vice president of Hardware. Osterloh is behind the division that brought us the Pixel phone, Google Home, and every other Google hardware product. His involvement is a solid sign that, yes, new hardware is coming.

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Congress at SXSW: Yes, we’re dumb about tech, and here’s what we should do

Ars Technica - March 13, 2019 - 11:45am

Enlarge / The United States Capitol Building, the seat of Congress, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (credit: Omar Chatriwala / Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas—Some legislators make for a sexier news headline at an arts-and-tech conference like South By Southwest. Famous Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren did just that over the weekend with their respective radical suggestions about government oversight.

Meanwhile, other members of Congress sat in poorly attended panels, and their low numbers weren't helped with snooze-worthy names like "Politicians Yell at the Cloud" and "Politicians in Tech: When the Bubble Bursts." But what these panels lacked in pizzazz, they made up for with fascinating context, direct from three House Representatives, on how starved our American Congress is in terms of staffing and support for understanding and tackling America's biggest tech priorities.

The Senate is “woefully uninformed”

Conveniently for Congress' most tech-fluent members, they had an easy reference point to use for their messaging. "There was a glaring lack of knowledge from Senators when they interviewed [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg," Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) said on Sunday, in reference to a 2018 Congressional hearing. "They were woefully uninformed."

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Cartoons about online safety launched for four-year-olds

BBC Technology News - March 13, 2019 - 11:39am
The UK's National Crime Agency launches a series of animations aimed at children aged four to seven.

Devil May Cry 5 review: Demon-hunting aplenty

BBC Technology News - March 13, 2019 - 1:57am
Demons have invaded the city of Redgrave and only Dante and his companions can stop them.

Tech-filled strap makes old watches smart

BBC Technology News - March 13, 2019 - 1:15am
A strap that adds notifications and payments to old watches has been designed by Sony engineers.

Tackle tech giants' 'bullying tactics' review urges

BBC Technology News - March 13, 2019 - 1:12am
The UK must update its approach to competition in the tech sector, a new report says.

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