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Frontier users must pay “rental” fee for equipment they own until December

Ars Technica - June 3, 2020 - 8:05pm

Enlarge / Don't worry, the fire isn't real. (credit: Getty Images | RapidEye)

Broadband and TV providers can keep charging "rental" fees for equipment that customers own themselves until December 2020, thanks to a Federal Communications Commission ruling that delays implementation of a new law.

A law approved by Congress and signed by President Trump in December 2019 prohibits providers from charging device-rental fees when customers use their own equipment, and it was originally scheduled to take effect on June 20. As we've written, this law will help Frontier customers who have been forced to pay $10 monthly fees for equipment they don't use and, in some cases, have never even received. But the law gave the FCC discretion to extend the deadline by six months if the commission "finds that good cause exists for such an additional extension," and the FCC has done just that.

The FCC ruling on April 3, which we didn't notice at the time, extends the deadline to December 20 and says that providers need more time to comply because of the coronavirus pandemic:

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iPhone looters find devices disabled, with a warning they’re being tracked

Ars Technica - June 3, 2020 - 7:43pm

Enlarge / The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Along with other retailers big and small, Apple Stores have been subject to looting by opportunists amid the ongoing protests around the United States. In response, Apple has again closed all of its stores in the US. Stores had only recently reopened after closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But looters who brought stolen iPhones home, or people who end up buying those phones in person-to-person transactions, are in for what may be a surprise: it appears that the stolen iPhones don't work and may even be tracked by Apple or authorities. This could pose a challenge for regular consumers who buy second-hand iPhones—as well as repair shops—in the coming weeks and months.

Individuals with iPhones allegedly looted from Apple stores found that the phones were automatically disabled and had messages like the following (via Twitter) displayed on-screen:

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TrueNAS isn’t abandoning BSD—but it is adopting Linux

Ars Technica - June 3, 2020 - 7:15pm

Enlarge / Penguins and sharks, living together in perfect harmony—what a wonderful world it will be! (credit: FreeNAS / Ars Technica)

To the surprise—and likely consternation—of BSD fans everywhere, FreeNAS vendor iXsystems is building a new version of its core product, TrueNAS, on top of Debian Linux.

This week's TrueNAS Scale announcement builds on the company's March announcement that its commercial project TrueNAS and its community project FreeNAS would be merging into a common base. Effectively, all the NAS projects from iXsystems will be TrueNAS variants moving forward, with the free-to-use version being TrueNAS Core, the new Debian-based project becoming TrueNAS Scale, and the commercial project remaining simply TrueNAS.

The company is still being coy about the overall goals of the new project, with the major clue being that "SCALE" is used as an acronym. Morgan Littlewood, iXsystems' senior vice president of project management and business development, expanded on this to Ars a little further in an email exchange today:

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Snapchat stops promoting Donald Trump's account due to 'racial violence'

BBC Technology News - June 3, 2020 - 7:13pm
The social network says it will drop Trump from Discover over 'racial violence and injustice'.

George Floyd death: Anti-racism sites hit by wave of cyber-attacks

BBC Technology News - June 3, 2020 - 6:29pm
Amid the US civil unrest, advocacy groups are hit by attacks designed to knock them offline.

This test proves Jack ain’t lying—Twitter treats Trump differently [UPDATED]

Ars Technica - June 3, 2020 - 6:27pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Update: the person behind the @SuspendThePres account contacted us to clarify that it's not a bot and all the account's tweets are done manually. The original story is below.

Original story: In the past, Twitter has said that incitements to violence from world leaders like President Donald Trump should be treated differently from those made by the rest of us. This week, that policy was shown to clear effect when the social media network banned the @SuspendThePres account and ordered it to delete a tweet. Its crime? Tweeting the exact same words used by Trump a day earlier.

The experiment began on May 29 when a Twitter account was repurposed as a bot with a single mission: to copy Trump's tweets verbatim and see how long it would take to get banned.

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Archaeologists discover the largest—and oldest—Maya monument ever

Ars Technica - June 3, 2020 - 6:06pm

Enlarge (credit: Inomata et al. 2020)

The Mayan culture built city-states across Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize for centuries, but we’re only starting to appreciate how extensive Maya civilization was and how drastically Maya farmers and engineers reworked the Mesoamerican landscape. Over the last few years, lidar surveys have revealed an ancient landscape previously hidden beneath vegetation and features that are too large-scale to recognize from the ground. Aguada Fenix, a newly discovered monument site, is the latter.

“A horizontal construction on this scale is difficult to recognize from the ground level,” wrote University of Arizona archaeologist Takeshi Inomata and his colleagues. The earthen platform is 1.4 kilometers (0.87 miles) long and 10 to 15 meters (33 to 49 feet) tall, with raised earthen causeways connecting it to groups of smaller platforms nearby. Based on excavations at the site, it served as a ceremonial center for the Maya.

Inomata explained further, "This area is developed—it’s not the jungle; people live there, but this site was not known because it is so flat and huge. It just looks like a natural landscape. But with lidar, it pops up as a very well-planned shape.” The team first noticed the platform in a set of low-resolution lidar images collected by the Mexican government, and they followed up with higher-resolution surveys and then excavations at the site.

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“Let’s start a riot”: Denver cop fired for inflammatory Instagram post

Ars Technica - June 3, 2020 - 5:49pm

Enlarge / Tommy McClay, left, poses with two other officers in a photo that has since been taken down from Instagram. (credit: Tommy McClay)

The Denver police department has fired an officer who posted a photo to Instagram with the caption "let's start a riot."

"The officer violated the Department's social media policy, posted content inconsistent with the values of the Department, and the officer has been terminated," the department announced on its official Twitter account.

(credit: Colorado Politics / Thomas McClay / Instagram)

The now-deleted post showed officer Tommy McClay in riot gear alongside two other officers. McClay wrote "let's start a riot" below the photo on a day when his colleagues used tear gas and foam bullets on protesters in the city.

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Game companies delay events, make donations amid police brutality protests [Updated]

Ars Technica - June 3, 2020 - 4:30pm


Activision is delaying the launch of new seasonal content in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Call of Duty: Mobile amid continuing protests over police brutality and the taped killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

"Now is not the time," publisher Activision wrote on Twitter of the previously planned release of new Call of Duty content. "Right now it's time for those speaking up for equality, justice, and change to be seen and heard. We stand alongside you."

— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) June 2, 2020

Activision's delay came just hours after Sony delayed a planned press event to promote the PlayStation 5, saying that "we do not feel that right now is a time for celebration... For now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard." And earlier in the day Monday, EA Sports delayed a planned online "celebration" of the upcoming Madden NFL 21, "because this is bigger than a game, bigger than sports, and needs all of us to stand together and commit to change."

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US cop hits Australian cameraman live on national television

Ars Technica - June 3, 2020 - 4:01pm

Enlarge / Australian reporter Amelia Brace speaks on camera shortly after the police punched her cameraman. (credit: Channel 7 of Australia)

The prime minister of Australia has called for an investigation into the assault of an Australian cameraman that aired live on a national television news show on Tuesday morning, Australia time. That's Monday evening in Washington, DC, where the attack occurred.

Amelia Brace, a reporter for Australia's Channel 7, and her cameraman, Tim Myers, were covering a protest near the White House in Washington, DC. It was around 6:30pm—half an hour before a 7pm curfew was scheduled to start.

"We've just had to run about a block as police moved in," Brace said as she stood amid protesters outside the White House. "We've been fired at with rubber bullets. My cameraman has been hit."

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Sega’s tiny Game Gear Micro is 92% smaller than the original

Ars Technica - June 3, 2020 - 3:49pm

In honor of the company's 60th anniversary, Sega has announced the coming Japanese release of the Game Gear Micro. What Sega is calling a "portable mascot" will ship in Japan on October 6 for an MSRP of ¥4,980 (about $50). No release plans have been announced for other markets.

The "Micro" moniker is well-earned here—the system measures just 3.14-inches wide, 1.69-inches high, and 0.79-inches deep (80mm×40mm×20mm). That's roughly a 92-percent volume reduction (or an 86-percent "footprint area" reduction) from the original Game Gear, which was bulky even by early '90s portable console standards. That also means the Game Gear Micro is set to take the "smallest gaming portable" crown from 2005's Game Boy Micro, which held the previous record at 4×2×0.7 inches with a 2-inch diagonal screen.

Despite the tiny size, the Game Gear Micro's 1.15-inch screen manages a 240×180 pixel resolution, which actually improves on the 160×144 pixel resolution of the original Game Gear's 3.2-inch screen. That puts the display at roughly 260 pixels per inch, or just short of Apple's roughly 300 dpi "retina display" standard.

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