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Supreme Court agrees to review disastrous ruling on API copyrights

Ars Technica - November 15, 2019 - 9:57pm

Enlarge / Signage stands at the Oracle Corp. headquarters campus in Redwood City, California, on March 14, 2016. (credit: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court has agreed to review one of the decade's most significant software copyright decisions: last year's ruling by an appeals court that Google infringed Oracle's copyrights when Google created an independent implementation of the Java programming language.

The 2018 ruling by the Federal Circuit appeals court "will upend the longstanding expectation of software developers that they are free to use existing software interfaces to build new computer programs," Google wrote in its January petition to the Supreme Court.

The stakes are high both for Google and for the larger software industry. Until recently, it was widely assumed that copyright law didn't control the use of application programming interfaces (APIs)—standard function calls that allow third parties to build software compatible with an established platform like Java.

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Physicists capture first footage of quantum knots unraveling in superfluid

Ars Technica - November 15, 2019 - 9:10pm

Enlarge / Researchers captured the decay of a quantum knot (left), which untied itself after a few microseconds and eventually turned into a spin vortex (right). (credit: Tuomas Ollikainen/Aalto University)

The same team who tied the first "quantum knots" in a superfluid several years ago have now discovered that the knots decay, or "untie" themselves, fairly soon after forming, before turning into a vortex. The researchers also produced the first "movie" of the decay process in action, and they described their work in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters.

A mathematician likely would define a true knot as a kind of pretzel shape, or a knotted circle. A quantum knot is a little bit different. It's composed of particle-like rings or loops that connect to each other exactly once. A quantum knot is topologically stable, akin to a soliton—that is, it's a quantum object that acts like a traveling wave that keeps rolling forward at a constant speed without losing its shape.

Physicists had long thought it should be possible for such knotted structures to form in quantum fields, but it proved challenging to produce them in the laboratory. So there was considerable excitement early in 2016 when researchers at Aalto University in Finland and Amherst College in the US announced they had accomplished the feat in Nature Physics. The knots created by Aalto's Mikko Möttönen and Amherst's David Hall resembled smoke rings.

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Apple bans vaping apps from the iOS App Store

Ars Technica - November 15, 2019 - 9:00pm

Enlarge / Woman smoking electronic cigarette. (credit: BSIP/UIG/Getty)

Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from the iOS App Store, Axios reported on Friday morning. The move follows rising concern about the possible health impacts of vaping.

Some of the banned apps provided news and information about vaping. Some were vaping-themed games. There were also apps that allowed users to adjust the temperature and other settings on their vaping devices.

To avoid breaking functionality for existing customers, Apple is allowing them to continue using vaping apps already on their devices—and to transfer them to new devices. But new users won't be able to download these apps, and new vaping apps can't be published on Apple's store.

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Huawei finally ships the foldable Mate X, complete with a protective pouch

Ars Technica - November 15, 2019 - 8:40pm

Huawei's futuristic foldable smartphone, the Huawei Mate X, is finally a real product. The phone went on sale in China today for the heart-stopping price of $2,421 (16,999 yuan).

Just like that other foldable smartphone on the market, the Galaxy Fold, the Mate X had a very bumpy road on its way to market full of delays and setbacks. The phone was originally scheduled for release in "the middle of the year," but in the midst of the US' Huawei export ban and the Galaxy Fold's initial delay, Huawei opted to delay the Mate X. The new launch target was September, but when September rolled around, the phone was delayed again to today's November 15 launch date.

Trade War! USA v. China

View more stories Not much has changed since the initial announcement. Wrapped around the body of the Mate X is a flexible OLED display made by BOE. The panel is an 8-inch 2480×2200 tablet when open. When closed, it splits into a 2480×1148, 6.6-inch display on the front and a 6.3-inch, 2480×892 display on the back. The back is a bit smaller because it also houses the component bar, which is the one section of the phone that doesn't split in half. This thicker section houses important components like the three cameras, a power button, a fingerprint reader, and a USB-C port on the bottom.

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“Dirty trickster” Roger Stone convicted on all counts in Mueller indictment

Ars Technica - November 15, 2019 - 8:00pm

Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: Former adviser to US President Donald Trump, Roger Stone departs the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse after being found guilty of obstructing a congressional investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on November 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. Stone faced seven felony charges and was found guilty on all counts. (credit: Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Ten months after his arrest by a swarm of FBI agents, former Trump adviser and self-proclaimed "dirty trickster" Roger Stone was found guilty of all seven felony counts against him, including obstruction of Congress, five counts of false testimony to Congress, and witness tampering. The conviction is the eighth guilty sentence or plea resulting from grand jury indictments spawned by the investigations into Russian election interference by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

At the center of the case was Stone's quest in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election to obtain the emails from WikiLeaks stolen by Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) operatives from the Democratic National Committee and people within Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign organization. Stone frequently bragged about his connections with WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, and Stone communicated with the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks' plans to release those emails “every chance he got,” said lead federal prosecutor Jonathan Kravis.

Stone was found to have concealed the nature of his communications with WikiLeaks and to have lied to Congress about who acted on his behalf in those contacts. And he attempted to dissuade one of those intermediaries, radio personality Randy Credico, from contradicting his false testimony to Congress, making Godfather II references in his messages to Credico—threatening to take away his therapy dog and to order his lawyers to "rip you to shreds." At one point, Stone allegedly even texted Credico, "Prepare to die [expletive]."

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Rare genetic condition gives man Eye of Sauron look

Ars Technica - November 15, 2019 - 7:30pm

Like this, except less evil lord-like. (credit: New Line Cinema)

Move over, Dark Lord of Mordor. There’s a new blazing peeper in town.

Doctors in Texas came face to face with a dark, spine-tingling eye that looked rimmed by flames—or, as they calmly described it in a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine: an eye with “circumferential spoke-like iris transillumination defects.”

They met this penetrating gaze during the routine eye exam of a 44-year-old man. The man had come into their Texas ophthalmology clinic simply to establish care as a new patient. He had recently moved into the area.

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Golden Joystick awards: Resident Evil 2 awarded 'ultimate game' title

BBC Technology News - November 15, 2019 - 6:45pm
Fortnite and streamer Ewok also win, while Yu Suzuki is given the lifetime achievement award.

General election 2019: Labour pledges free broadband for all

BBC Technology News - November 15, 2019 - 6:02pm
Labour would part-nationalise BT to deliver the policy and tax tech giants to help cover the £20bn cost.

Huge inflatable breast outside Facebook HQ

BBC Technology News - November 15, 2019 - 4:58pm
Medical tattoo artists takes on Facebook over nipple block and she is joined by cancer patients to protest

The genetic basis of Peruvians’ ability to live at high altitude

Ars Technica - November 15, 2019 - 4:24pm

Enlarge / Many Peruvians are well adapted to high-altitude life in the Andes. (credit: Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us)

Sherpas are physiologically adapted to breathing, working, and living in the thin air of the Himalayas, enabling them to repeatedly schlep stuff up and down Mount Everest. The Quechua, who have lived in the Andes for about 11,000 years, are also remarkably capable of functioning in their extremely high homes. New work suggests that these adaptations are the result of natural selection for particular genetic sequences in these populations.

Both populations live above 14,000 feet (4,267m), under chronic hypoxia—lack of oxygen—that can cause headaches, appetite suppression, inability to sleep, and general malaise in those not habituated to altitude. Even way back in the 16th century, the Spaniards noted that the Inca tolerated their thin air amazingly well (and then they killed them).

Metabolic adaptations give these highlanders a notably high aerobic capacity in hypoxic conditions—they get oxygenated blood to their muscles more efficiently. But the genetic basis for this adaptation has been lacking. Genome Wide Association Studies, which search the entire genome for areas linked to traits, had found tantalizing clues that one particular gene might be a site of natural selection in both Andeans and Tibetans. It encodes an oxygen sensor that helps cells regulate their response to hypoxia.

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Will fibre broadband be obsolete by 2030 - and what about 5G?

BBC Technology News - November 15, 2019 - 4:06pm
Labour promises to give every home in the UK full-fibre internet if it wins the general election.

Ford v Ferrari review: A big-budget, big-screen take on racing in the 1960s

Ars Technica - November 15, 2019 - 3:56pm

In the early 1960s, the Ford Motor Company was in need of a little pizzazz. Its then-General Manager Lee Iacocca had some ideas on how to do that. One of them was the Ford Mustang, which invented a new class of car that looked cool but was both cheap to buy and profitable to sell, thanks to heavy use of the corporate parts bin. Another was to get FoMoCo some racing glory, this being back in the days when "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" really worked. What happened next is the topic of Ford v Ferrari, the latest attempt by Hollywood to translate motorsport to the silver screen.

As the name might suggest, the film tells the story of a Detroit auto giant taking on the tiny but extremely successful Italian sports car maker at its own game. Ford tried to buy Ferrari, you see, until Enzo Ferrari pulled the plug over concerns that his potential new master could veto his eponymous race team's participation in races like the Indianapolis 500. Incensed with having been led up the garden path, Ford president and scion Henry Ford II commissioned a full factory-backed race program with the goal of beating Enzo at his own game, specifically at marquee endurance races like the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the most important race of the year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To do it, Ford would develop a purpose-built race car, one that has entered the pantheon of the greats: the GT40.

Ford vs Ferrari stars Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles. Shelby was a larger-than-life Texan who won Le Mans with Aston Martin in 1959 before his driving career was sidelined due to atrial fibrillation. For his next act, Shelby turned his hand to building cars, finding plenty of success when he married the lithe but underpowered AC Ace roadster with Ford V8 power, starting a relationship with the Blue Oval that carries on today. Bale takes on the role of Ken Miles, a British engineer and racing driver who relocated to California in the '50s and raced for Shelby in the early '60s.

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