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Industry & Technology

How did Easter Islanders survive without wells or streams?

Ars Technica - 38 min 16 sec ago

Enlarge / A freshwater seep in the tidal zone near Tongariki. (credit: Brosnan et al. 2018)

Archaeologists are piecing together more details about how the Rapanui people once erected the formerly enigmatic stone statues, or moai. But one of the island’s lingering mysteries is how the Rapanui found enough water to sustain thousands of people on a small island. Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, has no permanent streams, and its three lakes are hard to reach and far from archaeological evidence of settlement. But when European colonists arrived in the late 1700s, thousands of people already lived on the island, and they had to be getting their drinking water somewhere.

According to geoscientist Tanya Brosnan of California State University, the Rapanui probably got at least some of their drinking water from places along the coast where fresh groundwater seeped out of the island’s bedrock and into the sea. The resulting mixture would have been brackish but safe to drink, and it could have sustained populations of thousands on an island with few other reliable sources of fresh water. That’s common knowledge among the modern Rapanui people, but it hasn’t been clear that pre-contact people got their water the same way.

“Our work was certainly not ‘discovering’ anything that people didn’t already know about. Rather, we worked to put together an overall picture of groundwater and its accessibility for past populations,” Binghamton University archaeologist Carl Lipo, a coauthor on the study, told Ars.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Spotify comes to Wear OS with stand-alone app, Spotify Connect support

Ars Technica - 48 min 30 sec ago

Enlarge (credit: Spotify/Fossil)

Wear OS gains a popular new app today that many have been waiting for, as Spotify announced that it's bringing a stand-alone wearable app to Google's smartwatch platform.

Spotify's stand-alone app lets you browse and control music from your wrist. It seems to be a lighter version of Spotify's mobile app, allowing you to browse your tracks and playlists and quickly save songs to your library. You can also control playback from your wrist—it appears similar to Wear OS' native music controls, just built into a dedicated Spotify app.

The Wear OS app also integrates with Spotify Connect, the company's method of connecting and controlling playback on Bluetooth devices. Now from your wrist, you can manage connections between Bluetooth speakers, laptops, and other devices and quickly change the playback source.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Up to 9.5 million net neutrality comments were made with stolen identities

Ars Technica - 58 min 10 sec ago

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on December 14, 2017 in Washington, DC, the day of the FCC's vote to repeal net neutrality rules. (credit: Getty Images | Alex Wong )

The New York attorney general's office is widening an investigation into fraudulent net neutrality comments, saying it estimates that up to 9.5 million comments were submitted using stolen identities.

NY AG Barbara Underwood "subpoenaed more than a dozen telecommunications trade groups, lobbying contractors, and Washington advocacy organizations on Tuesday, seeking to determine whether the groups submitted millions of fraudulent public comments to sway a critical federal decision on Internet regulation," The New York Times reported yesterday.

The NY AG last year said it found 2 million net neutrality comments filed in people's names without their knowledge; some comments were submitted under the names of dead people.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Meet Helm, the startup taking on Gmail with a server that runs in your home

Ars Technica - 1 hour 11 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Helm)

There’s no doubt that Gmail has changed the way we consume email. It’s free, it gives most of us all the storage we’ll ever need, and it does a better job than most in weeding out spam and malware. But there’s a cost to all of this. The advertising model that makes this cost-free service possible means some of our most sensitive messages are being scanned for clues about who we are, what we care about, and what we do both online and offline. There’s also the possibility of Google either being hacked or legally compelled to turn over contents.

On Wednesday, a Seattle-based startup called Helm is launching a service designed to make it easy for people to securely take control of their email and other personal data. The company provides a small custom-built server that connects to a user's home or small-office network and sends, receives, and manages email, contacts, and calendars. Helm plans to offer photo storage and other services later.

With a 120GB solid-state drive, a three-minute setup, and the ability to store encrypted disk images that can only be decrypted by customers, Helm says its service provides the ease and reliability of Gmail and its tightly coupled contacts and calendar services. The startup is betting that people will be willing to pay $500 the first year to purchase the box and use it for one year to host some of their most precious assets in their own home. The service will cost $100 per year after that.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Twitter's 'Russia-Iran' troll tweet trove made public

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 15 min ago
Millions of tweets published by suspected state-linked accounts are made public by Twitter.

New York ramps up probe into fake FCC comments on net neutrality - CNET

cNET.com - News - 1 hour 33 min ago
The state's attorney general has subpoenaed several industry and advocacy groups.

Apple's privacy portal now lets US customers download their data - CNET

cNET.com - News - 1 hour 48 min ago
The company has already made the portal available in Europe.

Key Facebook investors join push to oust Mark Zuckerberg as chairman - CNET

cNET.com - News - 1 hour 52 min ago
This latest proposal comes after Facebook revealed hackers stole personal info from 29 million people.

Twilio tweaks twicky twalkative bot toows to dewight devewopers: It's Autopilot for chat apps

The Register - 2 hours 2 min ago
Cloud comms upstart touts more authentic engagement through artificial intelligence

At its Signal show in San Francisco, California, today, cloud comms biz Twilio intends to debut a chatbot platform called Autopilot for creating chatty software agents suitable for integration with a variety of services, including interactive voice response (IVR) systems, SMS, chat, Alexa, Slack, and Google Assistant.…

For the Pixel 3, Google is betting on a chip to bring Android security - CNET

cNET.com - News - 2 hours 3 min ago
The chip is a variation of what Google uses to protect its data centers.

Rocket Lab follows footsteps of SpaceX with new NASA launch pad - CNET

cNET.com - News - 2 hours 8 min ago
The smaller space startup will set up shop at NASA's Wallops Island facility on the Virginia coastline.

Harrison Ford digitally inserted via AI into Solo: A Star Wars Story - CNET

cNET.com - News - 2 hours 17 min ago
See what happens when machine learning is used to replace Alden Ehrenreich with a young Harrison Ford.

Sony's Xperia XZ3 is available for purchase now for $900 - CNET

cNET.com - News - 2 hours 19 min ago
You can get it, unlocked, at Amazon and Best Buy.

Twitter opens huge archive of tweets tied to Russia, Iran misinformation - CNET

cNET.com - News - 2 hours 30 min ago
See with your own eyes what Twitter calls "nefarious attempts" to wreak havoc on social media.

Mad scientists flip the Earth’s spin in climate models, watch water go nuts

Ars Technica - 2 hours 32 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Gabriela Pinto)

Climate models—computer simulations of Earth’s climate system—are crucial tools for scientists, given that it's impossible to run experiments on the entire planet. Access to these digital laboratories also gives people the option to occasionally play “mad scientist” and mess with the Earth a bit. One newly published study falls into that category, asking the question “What would happen if the Earth spun backward?” You can almost hear the maniacal laughter.

Back flip

If you’ve ever learned about the atmosphere, you know that Earth’s rotation makes swirling weather like hurricanes possible through something called the Coriolis Effect. Simply put, fluids heading in a straight line on a spinning globe deflect off to the side—to the right in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. And if the Earth’s rotation reversed, fluids (including ocean currents) would deflect the other way.

It may sound like a trivial bit of pondering, but it’s actually a scientifically interesting question. A group led by Uwe Mikolajewicz of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology effectively set the planet spinning backward to find out just how many things would change when they let their model run for a few thousand years.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

There's a limited-edition Taco Bell themed Xbox One X, because why not - CNET

cNET.com - News - 2 hours 40 min ago
It's for those gamers out there who really like their chalupas.

Just Eat listings include takeaways given zero ratings for hygiene

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 42 min ago
Outlets rated zero by the Food Standards Agency are among those listed on the food ordering app.

After $5 billion EU antitrust fine, Google will start charging for Android apps

Ars Technica - 2 hours 44 min ago

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

Google is adjusting to life in the EU after the $5.05 billion (€4.34 billion) antitrust fine levied against it by the European Commission earlier this year. Google is still appealing the initial ruling, which found that Google used Android to illegally dominate the search market, but for now Google will comply with the ruling and offer looser licensing agreements to Android device makers.

In a post on the official Google Blog titled "Complying with the EC’s Android decision," Google outlined a few changes coming to the Google app licensing agreements that it offers to Android OEMs. As you might recall from the numerous times we've written about it, this announcement is a change to the secretive "Mobile Application Distribution Agreement" (MADA) document that is a requirement for getting access to the Play Store and other Google apps. What we think of as a commercial "Android" device comes in two parts. The core Android OS is free and open source—anyone can take it and do whatever they want with it without Google's involvement. If you want the Play Store, Google Maps, Gmail, and all the other Google apps you need to make a viable commercial smartphone, though, you need to talk to Google and sign a MADA, which comes with a ton of restrictions.

The new rules

Google's new MADA makes three big changes. First, Google's blog states "Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets for the European Economic Area (EEA)." The last time we saw a MADA document (back in 2014), it had an "anti-fragmentation" clause, which said that any company signing the agreement has to be all-in on Google's Android. If you produced any Android device without Google's apps, you got booted from the Google ecosystem. This means that a company like Amazon, which makes forked Kindle devices, could never ship a smartphone with Google apps.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Huawei Mate 20 Pro is outrageously innovative - CNET

cNET.com - Reviews - 2 hours 54 min ago
If the Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X had a phone baby, this is it.

It's a fun time to cook in the smart kitchen - CNET

cNET.com - News - 2 hours 55 min ago
But how much will it help the people just trying to get dinner on the table?

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