There are many criticisms of Apple's Mac products, but one of the most commonly cited is that they often don't have graphics power that's comparable to what you'd see in similarly priced Windows machines. Unfortunately, the company currently offers no desktop tower in which you could, say, slot two super-powerful gaming graphics cards, either.
Some of that could change soon when Apple moves to its own silicon on Macs or when it introduces a new Mac Pro. But for now, the company's official answer to this line of criticism is doubling down on external GPU support in macOS. Support for this began during the High Sierra cycle and was expanded upon in some helpful ways in last year's Mojave OS release.
In addition to providing software support for eGPUs, Apple has developed what is more or less its official-ish eGPU solution, in much the same that a couple of LG's monitors have been Apple's recommended external displays for a while now. The company did so by partnering with hardware-maker Blackmagic Design, an Australia-based company that specializes in products for video professionals. The first eGPU from Blackmagic included an AMD Radeon Pro 580 and was priced at $699. We reviewed it late last summer and found that—while it was quiet and easy-to-use, and the GPU was a big upgrade over the integrated graphics in many Macs—we wished a higher-end GPU option was offered for creative professionals and hardcore gamers who needed more.
Audio files on some scooters have been swapped so riders are sworn at and propositioned by the vehicle.
Ars Technica takes spoilers seriously. This Avengers Endgame review has been written with a bare minimum of plot details, for those interested in seeing the film completely fresh-eyed starting on Friday, April 26.
The buzz word "inevitability" comes up a few times during the three-hour course of Avengers Endgame. And it's fitting: there's no ignoring the buzz and build-up for this film, which began with the mega-event of Infinity War and continued with two huge teases in the satisfying (and arguably time-killing) films Ant Man 2 and Captain Marvel.
It's gonna be big, epic, full of drama, this Endgame thing. Inevitable, right? And isn't the continuation of Disney's money-printing Marvel Cinematic Universe just as inevitable? How can this movie—whose trailers have focused on loss and grief—have any teeth if superhero business is supposed to continue as usual?
Welcome to Edition 1.46 of the Rocket Report! As always, we've got news from around the world of launch this week. Startups in Japan and China have made news this week, and Russia may soon decommission the most historical launchpad in the world. There's also plenty of news from the world of heavy lift.
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.
Interstellar Technologies to make third launch attempt. In an email, the Japanese new space company said it would attempt to launch the MOMO-3 rocket on April 30 from its launchpad in Taiki, Hokkaido. The launch is set for 2:15am UTC, and the company said a live stream would be available.
Earlier this month, the digital preservationists at The Dumping Union made an important announcement in the world of arcade game emulation. The collective had gotten its hands on a ROM image of Akka Arrh, an extremely rare Atari arcade prototype and one of the most prominent remaining cabinets that had, to that point, never been available through emulation.
That alone would have been notable news in the world of gaming history—the Dumping Union suggested as much by titling their forum announcement "Sit down on the toilet before reading this or else you will shit your pants." But the story might require another round of toilet sitting, because what started as a rare-game reveal has turned into a credible "heist" tale, perpetrated by an alleged MAME vigilante, no less.A bit of history
The story of Akka Arrh (also known as Target Outpost during development) dates back to 1982, when the game was created by Atari's Dave Ralston and Mike Hally, who would go on to work on plenty of well-remembered arcade games for the company (the title is supposedly a mangled initialism for "Also Known As Another Ralston Hally"). After a small test-market release in 1982, Akka Arrh's rotational take on Missile Command's trackball targeting was reportedly deemed too complicated for the masses at the time. So even though Akka Arrh was practically complete and had its own unique cabinet art and design, wide release was scrapped in favor of more promising Atari titles.
Risk of electric shock from broken plugs forced recall from Apple.
BBC Click's LJ Rich looks at some of the week's best technology stories.
Samsung Galaxy Fold
The Galaxy Fold teardown wasn't just a normal teardown. After the phone was delayed due to durability problems discovered by early reviewers, iFixit used the teardown to point out several flaws in its design.
When we wrote up iFixit's teardown, we openly wondered where the site managed to get a device that was never for sale and had all of its review units recalled. Apparently, the dubious origin of iFixit's Galaxy Fold (and the embarrassment of having the site poke holes in your $2,000 smartphone design) was enough to draw Samsung's retaliation.
Amazon's latest earnings conference call included the reveal of a major shift for the paid Amazon Prime subscription service: an "evolution" to one-day shipping as a nationwide default.
"We're currently working on evolving our Prime free two-day shipping program to be a free one-day shipping program," Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said in the company's quarterly investor relations call. The news came as a response to questions about both incremental-spending and revenue-acceleration predictions in certain portions of the company's Q2 financial guidance, which Olsavsky said revolved significantly around this push for faster default Amazon Prime shipping speeds.
Amazon has not yet formally announced this initiative via any of its news or PR channels, and Olsavsky did not offer an estimate of exactly when this would become a nationwide default for the subscription service.
Artificial intelligence is giving us more accurate air pollution forecasts, potentially saving lives.
The US mobile industry's top lobbying group is opposing a proposed California state law that would prohibit throttling of fire departments and other public safety agencies during emergencies.
As reported yesterday by StateScoop, wireless industry lobby group CTIA last week wrote to lawmakers to oppose the bill as currently written. CTIA said the bill's prohibition on throttling is too vague and that it should apply only when the US president or California governor declares emergencies and not when local governments declare emergencies.
The group's letter also suggested that the industry would sue the state if the bill is passed in its current form, saying the bill would result in "serious unintended consequences, including needless litigation."
On April 23, 2019, a hulking submarine named the K-139 Belgorod was christened and launched from Severodvinsk, Russia. It slid from Sevmash Shipyard into the Nikolskoye estuary off the White Sea. First laid down in 1992, the Belgorod is the world's longest submarine, surpassing Russia's Typhoon-class nuclear-missile sub and the US Navy's Ohio class. Its construction was paused for over a decade in 2000 after the disaster aboard its immediate predecessor, the Kursk—in which all the crew was lost after an explosion during missile tests. But Belgorod was resurrected with its design modified for a new purpose: carrying the Poseidon nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed torpedo "drone."
The Belgorod is a modification of the Soviet Navy's Project 949A design program—what Western military analysts have called the Oscar II class. Originally intended to be a cruise-missile submarine, the Belgorod was re-designated as Special Project 09852, a "special-purpose research and rescue submarine," in December 2012. The design was lengthened to add a docking compartment for crewed and uncrewed small submersible vehicles, such as submarine rescue vehicles. It was also apparently intended to do cable-laying operations and inspections, deployments of underwater equipment, and other tasks similar to those the US Navy constructed the USS Jimmy Carter for.
The submarine-rescue role was clearly at the front of the mind of the Russian Navy in the years after the Kursk debacle, in which Russia initially refused assistance from the United Kingdom and Norway. The incident was a major embarrassment to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who—just four months into his presidency—was on vacation in Sochi at the time of the accident and remained there for five days afterward.
Several ministers deny being involved in leaking information from a National Security Council meeting.
At a presentation in Long Beach, California, Daimler Trucks North America President and CEO Roger Nielsen on Wednesday laid out an electrification plan for Daimler's Freightliner brand, which makes medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
Freightliner announced two battery-electric vehicles last June: the heavy-duty eCascadia and the medium duty eM2. The company previously said that it would build the trucks at a facility in North Carolina, but yesterday Nielsen said that an existing Freightliner factory in Portland, Oregon, would be redesigned to build the two electric-vehicle lines.
The company decided to change the manufacturing location in order to take advantage of the factory's proximity to California, which has stringent low-carbon fuel standard rules about to take effect. In September, the state's Air Resources Board amended existing rules to require that lifecycle emissions for transportation fuels needs to drop by 20 percent by 2030, which will certainly drive up the price of diesel and gas in the state. Now, vehicle manufacturers like Freightliner are betting that freight companies that move shipments frequently or exclusively through the Golden State will start to see a cost advantage in shifting their fleet from diesel to a low-carbon alternative.
For many years, Microsoft has published a security baseline configuration: a set of system policies that are a reasonable default for a typical organization. This configuration may be sufficient for some companies, and it represents a good starting point for those corporations that need something stricter. While most of the settings have been unproblematic, one particular decision has long drawn the ire of end-users and helpdesks alike: a 60-day password expiration policy that forces a password change every two months. That reality is no longer: the latest draft for the baseline configuration for Windows 10 version 1903 and Windows Server version 1903 drops this tedious requirement.
The rationale for the previous policy is that it limits the impact a stolen password can have—a stolen password will automatically become invalid after, at most, 60 days. In reality, however, password expiration tends to make systems less safe, not more, because computer users don't like picking or remembering new passwords. Instead, they'll do something like pick a simple password and then increment a number on the end of the password, making it easy to "generate" a new password whenever they're forced to.
In the early days of computing, this might have been a sensible trade-off, because cracking passwords was relatively slow. But these days, with rainbow tables, GPU acceleration, and the massive computational power of the cloud, that's no longer the case—short passwords are a liability, so any policy that makes people favor short passwords is a bad policy. It's better instead to choose a long password and, ideally, multifactor authentication, supplementing the password with a time-based code or something similar.
One of the ways we measure the age of the Earth is using the half-life of uranium. With a half-life of around four billion years, your typical atom of uranium only has even odds of having decayed during Earth's entire history. But it only takes a few hundred atoms to up the odds for us to see enough decays to be able to accurately measure the age of something, even though the decay itself may be rare. In fact, with enough atoms, it's possible to measure radioactive decays from events that have a half-life longer than the Universe's age.
Now, researchers have used a tank full of two tonnes of liquid xenon, put together to detect dark matter, to identify the rarest decay ever detected. The XENON1T detector picked up some xenon atoms being transformed into tellurium, an event with a half-life measured at 1.8 x 1022 years—or about a trillion times the age of the Universe.Tonnes of xenon
What's the point of having two tonnes of liquid xenon in the first place? XENON1T was set up to detect a different but also extremely rare event: a dark matter particle bumping into one of the xenon atoms. This would impart enough energy to the atom to allow the event to be picked up by detectors that monitored the xenon tank. For this to work, however, the tank had to be shielded from any events that could also create a signal in the monitoring system. As a result, it was set up deep underground at Italy's Gran Sasso facility, and any potentially radioactive contaminants were eliminated from the liquid xenon.
Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals to share. Today's list is led by one of the first genuine discounts on the latest version of Apple's AirPods, as Amazon currently has the little white wireless earbuds down to $140.
That's only good for a $20 discount, but discounts on the first-gen AirPods weren't terribly frequent this soon after they launched, and massive price cuts have been rare ever since. This deal is for the updated model Apple announced in March, however, which uses a more power-efficient "H1" wireless chip and supports a new wireless charging case. The listing here doesn't come with said case—that's currently going for $70 on Amazon or $199 as a bundle—and is currently backordered until mid-May, so you'll have to wait a bit for them to ship. But hey, it's nice to get newer things for less money, right?
As for the AirPods themselves, well, you probably know the deal with them at this point. They're actually priced competitively compared to other big-name truly wireless earbuds, but they don't sound that great, their design may not fit all ears, and their tiny, non-repairable design gives them a shorter lifespan than most wireless headphones. If you can look past all of that—and lots of people seem to have—they can be incredibly convenient when paired with an iPhone. If you need more details, most of the things we said in our review way back in 2016 still hold true today.
Since issuing a brief statement Saturday after a test of its Crew Dragon vehicle resulted in an "anomaly," SpaceX has not offered additional comment about its ongoing investigation. NASA has not said much, either, outside of stating that it's assisting the investigation and that the agency has "full confidence in SpaceX" to understand and address the problem which appears to have destroyed the crew capsule.
A previously scheduled meeting of NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel on Thursday, however, did offer a bit more insight into the problem that occurred with the Crew Dragon vehicle at SpaceX's Landing Zone 1 facility in Florida, near the company's two launch sites there.
"The event occurred during a static fire test conducted prior to the in-flight abort test," said Patricia Sanders, chairwoman of the panel charged with ensuring that NASA has a healthy safety culture and mitigates risks where possible during spaceflight.
A cabinet minister condemns the leaks from a National Security Council meeting about a UK 5G network.
Recycling sounds great in principle (because it is), but a frustrating number of devils lurk in the details. For example, while some materials like aluminum can readily be melted down and turned right back into new aluminum cans, recovered plastics tend to be lower quality than “virgin” material. That’s because recycled plastic retains some of its previous properties—like Lego bricks that can’t be separated. The next plastic you make won’t be exactly the same type, and the recycled material won’t fit perfectly into its new spot.
To improve this situation, plastics engineers want to create new materials that can cleanly and easily break down to the most basic components—individual Lego bricks that can be reassembled into absolutely anything. The difficulty of this task is increased by all the pigments, flame retardants, and other additives used in plastics. But a group led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Peter Christensen has developed a new plastics process that conquers these challenges.
The basic building block of a plastic is called a “monomer”—connect monomers together and you create “polymers” with the useful physical properties you’re after. In this case, the researchers are using triketones and amines as building-block monomers. The process for putting them together sounds like minor sorcery (as chemistry often does): combining chemical ingredients causes different building blocks to form, which then spontaneously assemble.