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Industry & Technology

Coronavirus: Russian spies target Covid-19 vaccine research

BBC Technology News - 36 min 44 sec ago
The UK, US and Canada say state-backed hackers tried to steal coronavirus vaccine research.

Major US Twitter accounts hacked in Bitcoin scam

BBC Technology News - 37 min 42 sec ago
Twitter says a hacking attack on employees was to blame for one of its biggest ever security lapses.

'Almost certain' Russians sought to interfere in 2019 UK election - Raab

BBC Technology News - 53 min 42 sec ago
The government publishes a report on a leaked document used by Labour at the 2019 election.

Vodafone calls for 5G auction to be scrapped

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 22 min ago
It cites the need to strip out Huawei equipment coupled with economic uncertainty as reasons

The painstaking, hyper-granular process behind Amazon’s artful Undone

Ars Technica - 2 hours 24 min ago

Shot by Justin Wolfson, edited by Jeremy Smolik. Click here for transcript.

Let us be the 47th outlet to say it: Nothing else on TV or streaming looks like Undone. Amazon Prime's animated time-bending sci-fi series centers on a woman named Alma (played by Rosa Salazar, of Alita fame) who suffers an accident that changes her relationship to the world. And as Alma deals with that in-progress 180, she attempts to investigate the mysterious death of her father (played by Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul). The story... well, better to say less and avoid spoilers for any soon-to-be viewers.

Undone's style, however, deserves all the words one can devote. If you heard of the show before, it's likely because it represents the first major streaming series to be done entirely in rotoscope, an animation technique where artists paint over live actors using a variety of methods and styles. (Maybe you've seen the campus shooting documentary Tower or Richard Linkliter's Waking Life; that's rotoscoping in action.) Rotoscoped work can be dreamy,  museum-like, nightmarish, disjointed, or other-worldly—sometimes all at once. In other words, it might be the perfect creative visual choice for a show like Undone. 

Credit for executing this vision goes to a trio of production companies behind the scenes: Tornante in Southern California, Submarine Productions in Amsterdam, and Minnow Mountain in Austin, Texas. If that kind of globe-spanning collaboration doesn't already say it, we will: the process was complicated. But you don't have to take it from us, since Undone director and production designer Hisko Hulsing kindly sat down for our latest entertainment episode of "War Stories" and outlined the laborious process that makes the show seem so effortlessly beautiful to all of us watching at home.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Twitter hack: What went wrong and why it matters

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 36 min ago
The social network may have secured accounts but it could still face aftershocks from the attack.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate gets free xCloud game streaming in September

Ars Technica - 2 hours 41 min ago

Last November, Microsoft announced that its Project xCloud game-streaming service (which is currently in open beta) would eventually be integrated with its Xbox Game Pass subscription service in some form. This morning, Microsoft added a bit more clarity to that integration, announcing in a blog post that xCloud streaming will be available "at no additional cost for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members" starting in September.

Microsoft promises that "over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles" will be available for xCloud streaming "on your phone or tablet" as part of a Game Pass Ultimate subscription. That's a much smaller selection than the 234 Xbox 360 and Xbox One games that are currently available to download as part of the subscription, not to mention the 140 or so PC-exclusive downloads that are also included. But it is a larger selection than the 50+ games currently available as part of the Project xCloud preview program.

Aside from Halo Infinite, which gets specific mention in today's announcement, Microsoft has yet to clarify which specific titles will be available for streaming with Game Pass. Microsoft also has yet to say whether xCloud access will be available outside of a subscription plan (i.e., on a per-game basis) or as part of a streaming-only plan separate from Game Pass. A Microsoft representative said it expects to have formal answers to those questions closer to the September launch.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Russia 'interference' report to be published

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 19 min ago
The intelligence watchdog will give its findings on alleged involvement in an election and the Brexit vote.

EU-US data protection agreement struck down

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 5 min ago
The EU-US Privacy Shield, governing the transfer of citizens' data, has been declared invalid.

Western Digital releases new 18TB, 20TB EAMR drives

Ars Technica - 5 hours 26 min ago

Enlarge / This cutaway view of a Western Digital 18TB Gold drive shows off its nine platters and triple-stage actuators. (credit: Western Digital)

Earlier this month, Western Digital announced retail availability of its Gold 16TB and 18TB CMR drives, as well as an upcoming 20TB Ultrastar SMR drive. These nine-platter disks are the largest individual hard drives widely available today.

Earlier this year, rival drive vendor Seagate promised to deliver 18TB and 20TB drives in 2020, but they have not yet materialized in retail channels. Seagate's largest drives, like Western Digital's, needed a new technology to overcome the Magnetic Recording Trilemma—but Western Digital's EAMR is considerably less-exotic than the HAMR (Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) used by Seagate. That more conservative approach likely helped Western Digital beat its rival to market.

Understanding the Magnetic Recording Trilemma

The maximum usable data density on a magnetic recording device is limited by three competing factors. Magnetic coercivity—the strength of magnetic field required to demagnetize a domain—must be high enough to prevent the separately recorded grains from influencing one another and corrupting data. The field strength of the write head must be high enough to overcome the coercivity of the medium. Finally, the size of the field generated by the write head must be small enough so as not to overwrite adjacent areas.

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Twitter lost control of its internal systems to Bitcoin-scamming hackers

Ars Technica - 10 hours 24 min ago

Enlarge / A Twitter logo displayed on a smartphone. (credit: Rafael Henrique | SOPA Images/LightRocket | Getty Images)

Twitter lost control of its internal systems to attackers who hijacked almost a dozen high-profile accounts, in a breach that raises serious concerns about the security of a platform that’s growing increasingly influential.

The first signs of compromise occurred around 1pm California time when hijacked accounts—belonging to former Vice President Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and other people with millions or tens of millions of followers—started pumping out messages that tried to scam people into transferring cryptocurrency to attacker-controlled wallets.

In a tweet issued about seven hours after the mass takeover spree began, Twitter officials said the attackers appeared to take control by tricking or otherwise convincing employees to hand over credentials.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

UK electrical waste mountain growing

BBC Technology News - 15 hours 46 min ago
Households and businesses in the UK are producing 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste a year.

‘A powerful story’ - Giancarlo Esposito on Far Cry 6 role

BBC Technology News - 16 hours 25 min ago
Games publisher Ubisoft has revealed plans for its biggest titles for the coming year.

Gadget-makers face ban on easy-to-guess passwords

BBC Technology News - 16 hours 27 min ago
UK government also proposes manufacturers inform buyers how long security updates will be provided for.

Musk, Obama, Biden, Bezos, Gates—bitcoin scam hits Twitter in coordinated blitz

Ars Technica - 17 hours 44 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Twitter accounts of the rich and famous—including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Joe Biden—were simultaneously hijacked on Wednesday and used to push cryptocurrency scams.

As of 3:58pm California time, one wallet address used to receive victim’s digital coin had received more than $118,000, though it wasn't clear all of it came from people who fell for the scam. The bitcoin came from 356 transactions that all occurred over about a four-hour span on Tuesday. The wallet address appeared in tweets from at least 15 accounts—some with tens of millions of followers—that promoted fraudulent incentives to transfer money. At least one other Bitcoin wallet was used in the mass scam.

“I’m giving back to all my followers,” one now-deleted tweet from Musk’s account said. “I am doubling all payments sent to the Bitcoin address below. You send 0.1 BTC, I send 0.2 BTC back!” A tweet from the Bezos account said the same thing. “Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time,” a Gates tweet said. “I am doubling all payments sent to my BTC address for the next 30 minutes. You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000."

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple releases iOS and iPadOS 13.6, macOS 10.15.6, and watchOS 6.2.8

Ars Technica - July 15, 2020 - 10:45pm

Enlarge / The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max running iOS 13. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Today, Apple released software updates for all of its platforms, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and HomePod. The updates should be rolling out to users around the world throughout the day.

In general, the updates are fairly small in scope. As usual, iOS 13.6 and iPadOS 13.6 are the beefiest, but they're still small. The flagship feature is the addition of support for digital car keys on the iPhone. Additionally, Apple has added voice-narrated stories to Apple News+, as well as expanded local news and customization options in the News app. There's also a new "symptoms" category in the Health app, plus a variety of bug fixes.

Here are Apple's release notes for iOS 13.6. iPadOS 13.6 is similar but lacks digital car keys and the News audio features. Additionally, Apple has included security updates for iOS 13.6.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Here’s Nissan’s next electric crossover, on sale in 2021 for $40,000

Ars Technica - July 15, 2020 - 10:17pm

A charismatic CEO with a penchant for the dramatic and a bold plan to build the world's first mass-market electric vehicle. You probably think I'm talking about Tesla, but years before the Model S turned a wheel, Nissan tried to conquer that ground with its Leaf battery EV. OK, that CEO is gone now, and the Leaf failed to sell in quite the volume Nissan hoped. But next year, the Japanese automaker gets a second bite at the cherry with the Ariya, a new BEV that was revealed to the world on Wednesday morning in Japan.

You might be experiencing a touch of déjà vu—that's perfectly normal, because a thinly veiled concept of the Ariya was shown off at last year's Tokyo auto show and this year's CES, where some lucky ducks even got to drive it. (That will teach me to stay home, I guess.) It's roughly the same size and shape as the company's best-selling Rogue crossover, and Nissan hopes that the Ariya follows in that car's footsteps with regard to the sales chart—at the reveal, its new CEO, Ashwani Gupta, said that "the company expects sales of its EVs and e-POWER electrified models to be more than 1 million units a year by the end of fiscal 2023. The Ariya will play a significant role in attaining that goal." (Mark your calendars for the end of March 2023 to see if that pans out.)

On the outside, it's roughly the same size and shape as the best-selling Rogue crossover. On the inside, it's all tasteful minimalism, which Nissan's press materials describe as "akin to a sleek cafe lounge on a starship," and I include that not to mock whoever wrote that because I think they might be on to something. As with Volkswagen Group's forthcoming MEB-based electric crossovers, the Ariya makes full use of the BEV skateboard layout to maximize cabin space atop the battery pack. With the car powered off, it appears to mimic the button-free aesthetic of the Model 3, complete with large touchscreen infotainment system. But turn the Ariya on and backlit haptic controls appear, set in the black wooden dash.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Gmail redesign turns it into a one-stop productivity suite [Update: It’s official]

Ars Technica - July 15, 2020 - 9:50pm

It looks like big changes are coming to Gmail. Twitter user Tahin Rahman posted leaked slides (first spotted by 9to5Google) detailing a merger between Gmail, Google Docs, Google Chat, and Google Meet that looks to be coming to the Web and mobile soon. Google's "Cloud Next 2020" conference kicked off yesterday and will be ongoing for the next three weeks, and we've heard rumors in the past detailing this exact thing, so the slides appear to have been leaked early.

The goal of all this looks to be turning Gmail into a one-stop-shop productivity site, where you can do Slack-style room-based chat or single chats, make video calls, edit documents, and send emails. The desktop site is getting extra controls in the top header and sidebar, while the main panel—which normally shows the inbox or a message—looks like it can be swapped out for other content, like a Google Doc. Meet video calls can be full-screened or float around in a picture-in-picture-style window. Don't forget, this is all in addition to the right-side panel that was introduced in the 2018 redesign, which also lets you open Google Calendar, Keep, and Tasks inside Gmail. With this design, it's like having every Google productivity app—Gmail, Chat, Meet, Calendar, Keep, and Tasks—crammed into a single page that makes you wonder why it's even called "Gmail" anymore.

Gmail has had a side-by-side two-panel view for a while, showing an Outlook-style inbox on the left and a message on the right. With this redesign, it looks like there's more of a focus on the two-panel view. The "Chats" page uses this two-panel view by default, and you can show "Chat," "Files," or "Tasks" in the left panel, with a document or something else living in the right panel. Google appears to be taking the layout of Gmail and using it for all sorts of other functionality.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Details on SpaceX Starlink beta emerge along with photos of user terminals

Ars Technica - July 15, 2020 - 9:42pm

As SpaceX readies beta-testing for its Starlink broadband service, Internet users have dug into the Starlink website and found new details on the upcoming beta tests and images of the user terminals that will be installed outside customers' homes.

Reddit users yesterday said they did some data mining of the Starlink support website and main site, uncovering an FAQ about the beta trials, terms of service, and images of the satellite dish from different angles.

Here are the photos:

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Trump admin undercuts CDC, seizes control of national COVID-19 data

Ars Technica - July 15, 2020 - 8:47pm

Enlarge / Signage outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images)

A new directive from the Trump administration has cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out of the loop for data from hospitals treating patients with COVID-19, a move which could have significant effects on what information about the pandemic is made public and how it is presented and used.

The updated instructions from the Department of Health and Human Services (PDF), dated July 10, go into effect today. Under the new mandate, the CDC "will no longer control" data reported by hospitals about admissions, capacity, resource utilization, ventilator use, staffing—or COVID-related deaths. Hospitals are instead required to make their reports directly to HHS, to have a third party make the report to HHS, or to make reports to their states if their states are certified to receive it.

The instructions also explicitly bar hospitals from reporting to the CDC in addition to HHS: "As of July 15, 2020, hospitals should no longer report the COVID-19 information in this document to the National Healthcare Safety Network site," the document explains, referring to the CDC's system.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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