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Industry & Technology

Everyone is “gun-fu” fighting: John Wick 3 is almost as good as the original

Ars Technica - 7 hours 17 min ago

Enlarge / "It wasn't just a puppy." Keanu Reeves is back, declaring war on the High Table in John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum. (credit: Lionsgate)

John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum is blowing up the box office this weekend with a projected $56.8 million opening. No sequel is likely to match the lean, mean, revenge-filled fury of the original film, but Parabellum comes close. Director Chad Stahelski knows exactly what his audience wants. This third installment advances the assassin's underworld mythology while stringing together a series of spectacularly choreographed fight sequences showcasing some of the finest stuntwork you're likely to see onscreen.

(Spoilers for first two films and mild spoilers for Chapter 3 below.)

For those who missed the first two movies, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a legendary hitman (known as the Boogeyman or "Baba Yaga") who tried to retire when he fell in love and got married. Unfortunately, he's drawn back into the dark underground world by an act of senseless violence after his wife's death. Nothing will stop John Wick from seeking retribution. The first John Wick grossed more than $88 million worldwide for a film that cost around $30 million to make, and it was praised for its brisk pace, heart-stopping action sequences, and stylish noir feel.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Thanks Autopilot: Cops stop Tesla whose driver appears asleep and drunk

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 7:45pm

Enlarge (credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Police in the Netherlands on Thursday arrested a Tesla driver who had apparently fallen asleep at the wheel while driving down the highway. A Dutch police agency reported the arrest on Instagram.

A 50-year-old man was spotted driving close to the car ahead of him on the A27 road. "When we came alongside, the driver appeared to have fallen asleep," the police said.

Police signaled for the driver to pull over, but he didn't seem to notice. Eventually, the officers managed to wake the driver up using a siren, the Instagram post says. Police administered a blood alcohol test and found the driver to be under the influence of alcohol.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Grumpy Cat’s death marks the end of the joyful Internet

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 6:31pm

Enlarge / Grumpy Cat poses on the set as she makes her broadway debut in "Cats" on Broadway at The Neil Simon Theatre on September 30, 2016 in New York City.

In 2012, America was halfway through President Obama's time in office. The first Avengers movie came out, and Hunger Games premiered. Hope was high, and Reddit—the Web's "front page"—was where anyone with a cute pet could get thousands of upvotes. Cats were the most popular, but occasionally a dog or two would slip in. Then, in September of that year, Bryan Bundesen posted a picture of his sister Tabatha's cat, Tardar Sauce, an 11-month old tabby with feline dwarfism that perpetually looked annoyed. The Internet was enraptured with Grumpy Cat.

That's how life on social media used to be. The biggest memeswere funny looking cats like Tardar and Lil Bub, or Mohawk Guy, and "Call Me Maybe." Memes weren't yet weapons of mass disruption (at least not on the scale that they came to be in 2016) and we still knew what a troll was. Now, Grumpy Cat is dead—the feline's owners announced her passing today on Twitter—and with her goes an era in which the Internet was more a place of joy than hate, uplift rather than harassment.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Wandering Earth: Rocket scientist explains how we could move our planet

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 4:30pm

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

In the Chinese science fiction film The Wandering Earth, recently released on Netflix, humanity attempts to change the Earth’s orbit using enormous thrusters in order to escape the expanding Sun—and prevent a collision with Jupiter.

The scenario may one day come true. In five billion years, the Sun will run out of fuel and expand, most likely engulfing the Earth. A more immediate threat is a global warming apocalypse. Moving the Earth to a wider orbit could be a solution—and it is possible in theory.

But how could we go about it and what are the engineering challenges? For the sake of argument, let us assume that we aim to move the Earth from its current orbit to an orbit 50% further from the Sun, similar to Mars’.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Star Wars: Outer Rim review—Piloting as Han or Boba Fett could use more thrills

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 3:00pm

Enlarge / The game's player board.

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.

One of the defining aspects of Star Wars is its dramatic sense of adventure. Hopping from planet to planet, quarreling with local cultures, and getting swept up in something greater than yourself are all essential to the property’s Midichlorian-infused DNA. That’s why it’s surprising to realize that we’ve never had a proper Star Wars adventure game.

But the new Star Wars: Outer Rim is just that, a star-hopping frolic in the vein of classic titles Talisman and Runebound. You select your pilot from an eclectic mix drawn from both the big and small screen. Favorites such as Boba Fett and Han Solo are of course included, but we’re also offered Ketsu Onyo from the Rebels television show and Doctor Aphra from a beloved comic series.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Borderlands 3, other games temporarily removed from Epic Games Store sale [Updated]

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 1:28pm

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 took itself off of the Epic Games Store temporarily rather than take part in the recent "Mega Sale"

[Update, May 18, 12:03pm ET: Ars received the following response via a representative of publisher 2K Games: "We are working closely with Epic and have temporarily removed Borderlands 3 from their storefront. We look forward to the game being back on the Epic Games store soon. Games bought during their Mega Sale will be honored at that price."]

[Update, May 18, 8:28am ET: Gearbox's Borderlands 3 is no longer available for pre-order on the Epic Games Store. The game was previously available for as low as $49.99 during the sale (before Epic's additional $10 off for all games over $14.99), down from its initial starting price of $59.99.

The Epic Games Store page for the game now simply lists a "Coming Soon" message where the pre-order links used to be. The "PC Digital" platform option has also been removed from the pre-order page on the official Borderlands webpage.

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>20,000 Linksys routers leak historic record of every device ever connected

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 12:45pm

(credit: US Navy)

This post has been updated to add comments Linksys made online, which says company researchers couldn't reproduce the information disclosure exploit on routers that installed a patch released in 2014. Representatives of Belkin, the company that acquired Linksys in 2013, didn't respond to the request for comment that Ars sent on Monday. Ars saw the statement only after this article went live.

More than 20,000 Linksys wireless routers are regularly leaking full historic records of every device that has ever connected to them, including devices' unique identifiers, names, and the operating systems they use. The data can be used by snoops or hackers in either targeted or opportunistic attacks.

(credit: Troy Mursch)

Independent researcher Troy Mursch said the leak is the result of a flaw in almost three dozen models of Linksys routers. It took about 25 minutes for the Binary Edge search engine of Internet-connected devices to find 21,401 vulnerable devices on Friday. A scan earlier in the week found 25,617. They were leaking a total of 756,565 unique MAC addresses. Exploiting the flaw requires only a few lines of code that harvest every MAC address, device name, and operating system that has ever connected to each of them.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Google city that has angered Toronto

BBC Technology News - May 18, 2019 - 12:30am
Canada is not Google's lab rat, say those protesting plans to build a smart city in Toronto.

There’s a new Minecraft game coming, and it’s played entirely in augmented reality

Ars Technica - May 18, 2019 - 12:12am

Microsoft may believe it has made augmented reality's killer app: the just-announced Minecraft Earth for iOS and Android.

AR on mobile devices may carry tremendous potential, but it's easy enough to argue that the mainstream value proposition hasn't arrived yet. Pokémon Go is probably the most oft-cited "killer app" for AR, but it's only barely a true AR app. And there are some neat shopping apps and educational tools (from Warby Parker and Ikea, for example), but none of them have made a big dent in the mainstream consciousness.

Minecraft Earth

At first glance, Minecraft Earth is a bit like Pokémon Go, given that it seems to be location aware in some ways. But there's a bit more to it than that. Players will be able to construct builds on their living room tables either alone or in collaboration with others, then go and place them full-size in the outside world when they're ready. You can collect new mobs (both familiar and new) and resources around you to incorporate in your build, then fight them in the life-size version of the build. Fundamentally, it appears to be the basic Minecraft experience translated to augmented reality with geolocation features.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Hack on Stack Overflow exposes private data for ~250 users

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 11:13pm

(credit: Pixabay)

Stack Overflow said hackers obtained private data for about 250 users after breaching the site and spending the next week escalating their access.

“While our overall user database was not compromised, we have identified privileged Web requests that the attacker made that could have returned IP address, names, or emails for a very small number of Stack Exchange users,” Mary Ferguson, Stack Overflow VP of Engineering, wrote in a blog post published Friday. “Our team is currently reviewing these logs and will be providing appropriate notifications to any users who are impacted.”

In an update, Ferguson said investigators now estimate the number at 250 public network users. Officials for the developer community site will notify those affected. The company first disclosed the breach on Thursday in a four-sentence post that said “some level of production access was gained on May 11."

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Creator claims Lenovo stole foldable Moto Razr video it played at a press event

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 11:00pm

Lenovo's smartphone division has once again been caught misleading the press on its future plans. This time, the company held a press event for Chinese media and showed off what it said was a render of the mythical Moto Razr phone reboot with a foldable display. The only problem is that "Lenovo's" Razr render was a fanmade video that it downloaded from the Internet, and the creator says the company didn't even have permission to use it.

The allegedly stolen video in question is this Moto Razr concept video created by Waqar Khan. What appears to be an edited version of Khan's video was given to the Chinese media, and reports like this one from Sina Technology (a media company from the owners of Sina Weibo, China's Twitter clone) rehosted the video saying (through translation), "Lenovo today unveiled its own folding screen mobile phone video in an interview with Sina Technology and other media."

The rehosted video, reportedly from Lenovo, shows Khan's Razr render with some—but not all—of the watermarks removed. The most noticeable remaining watermark is on the clock, which says, "Concept by @WaqarKahnHD" above and below the time. This appears on the inside and outside screens of the phone render. The original video has watermarks in the bottom left and top right corners of the video, which have been cropped out in the version given to the Chinese media.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

China’s Chang’E-4 may have landed near pieces of the Moon’s interior

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 10:45pm

Enlarge / The original Yutu rover, shown on the Moon. (credit: NASA)

While some of the details are still being worked out, it's generally agreed that the Moon formed when a Mars-sized body collided with the early Earth. Some of the debris put into orbit by the collision would then go on to condense into the Moon.

One of the consequences of this is that the early Moon spent a lot of its history being bombarded by this debris, a process that should have left its surface molten. This magma ocean would only solidify slowly as the bombardment wound down, and the process of solidification should have left a mark on the Moon's composition. So far, indications of this have been difficult to come by. But now, there are signals that the Chang’E-4 mission to the Moon's far side has finally spotted some of the Moon's mantle, which contains signs of its magma ocean.

The end of an ocean

At first glance, the end of a magma ocean might seem simple: molten rock solidifies, leaving behind a solid body. But different minerals have their own melting points and densities, which can cause the ocean to become stratified. Ultimately, it's thought that the densest minerals will solidify at the base of the ocean, while the crust would be formed from lighter material that could solidify while floating on top of the remaining magma. Thus, we'd expect to see certain minerals on the surface and a different group of minerals deep in the mantle.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Man who threatened to kill Ajit Pai’s children gets 20 months in prison

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 9:16pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Putra Kurniawan | EyeEm)

A man who threatened to kill the family of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was today sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Markara Man, a 33-year-old from California, pleaded guilty on August 31, 2018 after making threats to Pai because he disagreed with the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules. In one email to Pai, Man wrote, "I will find your children and kill them."

"Threatening to actually kill a federal official’s family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal,” US Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia said in a Justice Department announcement of the sentencing today. The case was heard at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Xbox, PC get a little bit closer with the latest Xbox updates

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 8:16pm

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

The May 2019 update for the Xbox One's system software is now rolling out, bringing some small refinements to the friends list, messaging, and game/app list.

Starting with the last one first, the app list will now ignore "a," "an," and "the" when sorting or grouping alphabetically. This is the kind of change that makes me amazed that they weren't already doing this, as it almost always makes for easier-to-use listings. Video games don't even have The The to contend with.

The Messaging change is rather inexplicable. There's a sensible change: incoming messaging requests from your friends are now prioritized, with requests from non-friends put in a separate category. But for some reason, Microsoft is going to wipe all group messages as a result. You can save backups of the messages for a limited time at Xbox.com, and messages with individual users are safe, but the group messages are all going. There's no obvious justification for this change, as even if there were some significant change being made to group messaging, one would expect Microsoft to handle migrating the messages from old to new.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Slack patches vulnerability in Windows client that could be used to hijack files

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 7:40pm

Enlarge / Strangers in your Slack channel could have messed with Slack for Windows' download settings, redirecting files to a malicious shared folder. It's fixed now. (credit: NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

On May 17, researchers at Tenable revealed that they had discovered a vulnerability in the Windows version of the desktop application for Slack, the widely used collaboration service. The vulnerability, in Slack Desktop version 3.3.7 for Windows, could have been used to change the destination of a file download from a Slack conversation to a remote file share owned by an attacker. This would allow the attacker to not only steal the files that were downloaded by a targeted user, but also allow the attacker to alter the files and add malware to them. When victims opened the files, they would get a potentially nasty surprise.

Tenable reported the vulnerability to Slack via HackerOne. Slack has issued an update to the Windows desktop client that closes the vulnerability.

The potential attack used a weakness in the way the "slack://" protocol handler was implemented in the Windows application. By creating a crafted link posted in a Slack channel, the attacker could alter the default settings of the client—changing the download directory, for example, to a new location with a URL such as “slack://settings/?update={‘PrefSSBFileDownloadPath’:’’}”. That path could be directed to a Server Message Block (SMB) file-sharing location controlled by the attacker. Once clicked, all future downloads would be dropped onto the attacker's SMB server. This link could be disguised as a Web link—in a proof-of-concept, the malicious Slack attack posed as a link to Google.

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Grumpy Cat internet legend dies

BBC Technology News - May 17, 2019 - 7:17pm
Hers was the feline face that launched a thousand memes, but Grumpy Cat is no more.

Single neutron star merger supplied half the Solar System’s plutonium

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 7:00pm

Enlarge / The aftermath of a simulated neutron star merger. (credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab)

We are all, as Carl Sagan said, star-dust. You might think that since most stars are pretty much the same, all star-dust is equal. But we have evidence that some star-dust is more equal than others. Yes, some elements seem to have a very special origin: neutron star mergers.

Most stars are pretty much all hydrogen. Near their center, fusion busily turns hydrogen into helium. Eventually, that hydrogen will run out and, like a pub that runs out of beer, the real destruction begins. The star starts turning helium into heavier elements at an increasingly feverish rate. The end, no matter how hot and heavy the star, comes when the star’s core is made of iron.

Up to iron, the process of fusion releases more energy than it consumes. But after iron, fusion consumes more energy than it releases, which essentially shuts the star down. Once this was understood, scientists were left wondering where the remaining 80 odd elements that are heavier than iron came from.

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AT&T denies that selling phone location data was illegal as FCC investigates

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 5:18pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Witthaya Prasongsin)

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have all told the Federal Communications Commission that they recently stopped selling their customers' phone location information to other companies. Sprint said it is phasing out the sales and will shut them down by the end of this month.

The details came in letters to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who had demanded an update on the carriers' sale of customers' real-time geolocation data. Rosenworcel released the carriers' responses yesterday.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, criticized the Republican-controlled FCC for not taking action against the carriers over the privacy invasions.

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Archaeologists find DNA in a 10,000-year-old piece of chewing gum

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 5:10pm

Enlarge (credit: Kashuba et al. 2019)

The people who lived at Huseby-Kiev in western Sweden 10,000 years ago made their living by hunting and fishing. That doesn't sound surprising until you consider that this was a landscape that had, until recently, been covered by ice sheets 4km (2.5 miles) thick. How they occupied the re-emerging landscape is a bit of a mystery. We don't know much about who they actually were, where they came from, or how they made their way into Sweden as the ice receded.

In the 1990s, archaeologists recovered a few chewed-up lumps of birch bark pitch, some of which still held fingerprints and tooth marks left behind from millennia ago. Using this ancient chewing gum, archaeologist Natalija Kashuba of Uppsala University recently recovered DNA from two women and one man who had lived, worked, and apparently chewed gum on the shores of ancient Sweden. That means we can now link DNA from ancient people to their artifacts, and that's a big clue about how people migrated into Scandinavia after the Ice Age.

Two groups of hunter-gatherers met in Sweden

Birch bark pitch, like other saps and resins from various trees around the world, makes a decent chewing gum. When chewed and softened, it's also a handy glue for repairing cracked pottery or gluing bone points onto stone blades to make a vicious-looking composite point (see gallery). That's how people at Huseby-Kiev seem to have used it.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

OnePlus 7 Pro Review—The fastest, best-designed, best-value Android phone

Ars Technica - May 17, 2019 - 4:41pm

Wow. OnePlus is putting the rest of the smartphone world on notice with the launch of its newest smartphone, the OnePlus 7 Pro. The company has become known for providing excellent value in the Android market, and while that is still true of the OnePlus 7 Pro, everything moves even further toward the premium side of the spectrum with this device. With a bigger bill of materials budget behind it, OnePlus has created the best Android phone on the market.

OnePlus isn't just offering features and performance that feel a generation ahead of many of the current devices on the market—it's doing so for a lower price than the super-premium, $1,000 flagships out there. While you can buy a OnePlus 7 Pro today, I think a lot of manufacturers are going to spend the next year scrambling to catch up to OnePlus.

Brace yourselves for an incredibly positive review of the OnePlus 7 Pro.

Read 51 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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