Windows 10 on ARM limits (briefly) confirmed: No virtualization, no OpenGL

Enlarge / The Snapdragon 835-powered HP Envy x2. (credit: HP)

As spotted by Paul Thurrott, Microsoft briefly published a document that enumerated the major differences between Windows 10 for ARM processors and Windows 10 for x86 chips. Though the document has now been removed, a cached copy is still available.

Many of the differences are predictable consequences of the different architecture. Windows 10 for ARM is a 64-bit ARM operating system. It can natively run both 32-bit and 64-bit ARM applications (though the SDK for the latter is currently, and temporarily, incomplete). As such, drivers for the operating system need to be 64-bit ARM drivers; existing 32- and 64-bit x86 drivers won’t work.

This isn’t a surprise; 64-bit x86 Windows can’t use 32-bit drivers, either, even though 64-bit Windows can generally run 32-bit applications without even requiring any kind of emulation. This will mean that ARM Windows has limited hardware support relative to x86. It will also pose a problem for some games that use drivers for their copy protection.

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Source: Ars Technica – Windows 10 on ARM limits (briefly) confirmed: No virtualization, no OpenGL

AT&T tries to prove Trump meddled in merger review because he hates CNN

Enlarge / AT&T will own a bunch of new media properties if it is allowed to buy Time Warner. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

AT&T and the Department of Justice are fighting in court over whether President Trump’s hatred of CNN played a role in the DOJ’s attempt to block AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner Inc.

In a pre-trial court hearing on Friday, AT&T demanded “that the Justice Department hand over additional evidence to prove that President Trump did not wield political influence over the agency as its antitrust enforcers reviewed the company’s bid to acquire Time Warner,” The Washington Post reported.

AT&T wants the DOJ to provide logs of any conversations about the merger between the White House and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The DOJ should also have to “disclose any conversations between Sessions and the agency’s antitrust division,” the Post wrote.

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Source: Ars Technica – AT&T tries to prove Trump meddled in merger review because he hates CNN

In late-breaking photo leak, Galaxy S9 bares it all

WinFuture

German site WinFuture has given us a ton more Galaxy S9 pictures to admire before the phone’s launch next week. The pictures show everything we’ve been expecting: a phone that looks a lot like the existing Galaxy S8 but with a revised camera and fingerprint setup on the back.

Besides offering the most complete look yet at Samsung’s next flagship, these pictures shoot down an odd regression shown in the earliest Galaxy S9 leaks. The early pictures shared by VentureBeat showed a Galaxy S9 with thicker side bezels than the Galaxy S8, and now it seems those were not accurate. These pictures show a design that seems to have the same slim side bezels as the Galaxy S8, which, as usual, will curve into the phone body.

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Source: Ars Technica – In late-breaking photo leak, Galaxy S9 bares it all

The Boring Company gets a permit to dig up Washington DC parking lot

Enlarge / A view of the parking lot The Boring Company has permits to dig up (partially obscured by a tree, the parking lot on the left is for McDonald’s). To the right is a mural that local cars editor Jonathan Gitlin hopes will not be destroyed. (credit: Google Streetview)

The city of Washington DC has approved a permit that will allow Elon Musk’s Boring Company to dig up a parking lot just north of Capitol Hill and just east of downtown. The lot, at 53 New York Avenue NE, is on a busy street adjacent to a McDonald’s, near the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The Boring Company doesn’t have permits to dig under any streets yet. But according to the LA Times, the city’s Department of Transportation is working to find out what other kinds of permits the company would need to pass under city roads and public spaces.

The permit is an interesting step forward in a project that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO announced vaguely last July. At the time, Musk tweeted that he had “verbal government approval” to build a New York-DC Hyperloop tunnel, although it was unclear who had issued such approval. The Boring Company later commented that it was engaged in discussions with local, state, and federal officials to make the project happen. In October, the company received official approval from the state of Maryland to dig a 10.1-mile tunnel under the state-owned portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway using a utility permit (which is generally easier for a state to grant). Still, additional permits would be required for any construction beyond that limited scope.

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Source: Ars Technica – The Boring Company gets a permit to dig up Washington DC parking lot

Flight-sim devs say hidden password-dump tool was used to fight pirates

Enlarge / Installing this airliner in a popular flight-sim seems to have exposed computers to potential malware. (credit: FlightSimLabs)

The usually staid world of professional-grade flight simulations was rocked by controversy over the weekend, with fans accusing mod developer FlightSimLabs (FSLabs) of distributing “malware” with an add-on package for Lockheed Martin’s popular Prepar3d simulation. The developer insists the hidden package was intended as an anti-piracy tool but has removed what it now acknowledges was a “heavy-handed” response to the threat of people stealing its add-on.

The controversy started Sunday when Reddit user crankyrecursion noticed that FSLabs’ Airbus A320-X add-on package was setting off his antivirus scanner. FSLabs had already recommended users turn off their antivirus protection when installing the add-on, so this wasn’t an isolated issue.

The reason for the warning, as crankyrecursion found, was that the installer seemed to be extracting a “test.exe” file that matched a “Chrome Password Dump” tool that can be found online. As the name implies, that tool appears to extract passwords saved in the Chrome Web browser—not something you’d expect to find in a flight-sim add-on. The fact that the installer necessarily needs to run with enhanced permissions increased the security threat from the “Password Dump.”

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Source: Ars Technica – Flight-sim devs say hidden password-dump tool was used to fight pirates

Aerojet wants more money for rocket engine the government may not need

Enlarge / An artist’s conception of the AR1 engine. (credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

The propulsion company Aerojet Rocketdyne, formed in 2013 by two of America’s most storied rocket engine manufacturers, has been working a new engine, known as the AR1, since 2014. Almost from its outset, however, the AR1 has faced two primary questions: who would pay for its development, and who would use the new engine.

In recent years, Aerojet has sought funding from the US Air Force to design and build the AR1, which has approximately 20 percent more thrust than a space shuttle main engine. The Air Force, in turn, has pledged as much as $536 million in development costs provided that Aerojet puts its own skin in the game—about one-third of research and development expenses.

According to a new report in Space News, Aerojet is now saying that even this modest investment is too much, and it’s seeking to reduce its share of the development costs from one-third to one-sixth. “As we look to the next phase of this contract, we are working with the Air Force on a smart and equitable cost-share,” Aerojet spokesman Steve Warren told the publication. “We are committed to delivering an engine in 2019.”

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Source: Ars Technica – Aerojet wants more money for rocket engine the government may not need

Women go into science careers more often in countries without gender equality

Enlarge (credit: University of Michigan)

A large number of social factors have discouraged women from pursuing careers in science and technology. But in a number of countries, an increasingly egalitarian view of gender differences has been associated with rising math and science scores for girls. However, that change hasn’t been followed by increased participation in science and tech careers; in fact, the frequency of women pursuing degrees in these areas is often higher in societies that are far from egalitarian.

Two researchers, Gijsbert Stoet of the UK and David Geary in the US, decided to explore this paradoxical trend. Their analysis suggests that the situation may be the product of a complex mixture of relative talents, general confidence, and social factors. The results drive home that, if we want to attract and retain some of the best talent in the sciences, it’s going to take more than simply ensuring they have equal access to advanced degrees.

Global testing

Stoet and Geary’s research relies on a lot of publicly available information. One of the keys to this work is the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which gives standardized tests to students around the world. The most recent iteration of these tests was given to about half a million students in a total of 71 countries, and so provides a trans-national measure of students’ skills in math, science, and reading comprehension. Critically, when it came to science, the PISA survey also asked about students’ interest in and enjoyment of science, as well as if they felt confident they could do some basic scientific analysis without supervision.

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Source: Ars Technica – Women go into science careers more often in countries without gender equality

Guidemaster: All the smartwatches fit to sit on your wrist

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Source: Ars Technica – Guidemaster: All the smartwatches fit to sit on your wrist

Daimler included emissions-cheating software on diesels, German magazine says

Enlarge / (Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images) (credit: getty images)

US investigators are looking into whether Mercedes parent company Daimler used illegal software to cheat emissions tests on diesel vehicles in the US, according to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, whose report was picked up by Reuters. Though the investigation itself is not new—it was reported as early as April 2016 that the Department of Justice was looking into Daimler’s actions around emissions testing its diesel vehicles—the new reports of emissions-cheating software draw parallels to Volkswagen’s notorious emissions scandal.

The German paper allegedly saw documents indicating that one software function on Daimler diesel vehicles turned off the car’s emissions control system after driving just 26 km (16 miles). Another program apparently “allowed the emissions cleaning system to recognize whether the car was being tested based on speed or acceleration patterns,” according to Reuters.

Software that turns an emissions control system on and off depending on whether the car is being tested in a lab or not is called a “defeat device,” and unless the automaker gets explicit permission to have one, a defeat device’s inclusion in an auto system is illegal in the US. In 2015, Volkswagen Group was discovered to have hid defeat device software on its VW, Audi, and Porsche diesels. The automaker has since spent billions of dollars in buying back vehicles that were emitting up to 40 times the allowable amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx).

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Source: Ars Technica – Daimler included emissions-cheating software on diesels, German magazine says

Residential solar is cheap, but can it get cheaper? Paths to $0.05 per kWh

The price of solar panels has fallen far and fast. But the Energy Department (DOE) wants to bring those costs down even further, especially for residential homes. After all, studies have shown that if every inch of useable rooftop in the US had solar panels on it, the panels could provide about 40% of the nation’s power demand. Right now, the DOE’s goal is residential solar that costs 5¢ per kilowatt hour by 2030.

In a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), researchers mapped out some possible pathways to that goal. Notably, the biggest barriers to cost reduction appear to be the stubborn “soft costs” of solar installation. Those soft costs include supply chain costs, labor costs, and sales and marketing costs that aren’t related to the physical production of solar cells at a factory.

NREL wrote: “Because the 2030 target likely will not be achieved under business-as-usual trends, we examine two key market segments that demonstrate significant opportunities for cost savings and market growth: installing PV at the time of roof replacement and installing PV as part of the new home construction process.”

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Source: Ars Technica – Residential solar is cheap, but can it get cheaper? Paths to {$permalink}.05 per kWh

Project Loon team gave Puerto Rico connectivity—and assembled a helicopter

AUSTIN, Texas—”So this happened—this is September 2017,” Juan Ramírez Lugo, president of the AAAS Caribbean division, tells the audience at the 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Conference. The slide that soon greets the room depicts an almost surreal reality: the available power (or lack thereof) on the island of Puerto Rico in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

“The island went dark; the Virgin Islands basically disappeared off the map. This blew my mind to not have my cell phone in this day and age,” Ramírez Lugo continues. “The routine eventually became get up in the morning, then try to check the news and Status.pr to see how much service has returned to normal.”

Ramírez Lugo cited estimates that the cost of Hurricane Maria’s damage will total 34.1 percent of Puerto Rico’s GDP, so calling the storm devastating almost seems like an understatement. The routine Ramírez Lugo shared highlighted another crucial (re)building block for disaster recovery, one that’s now joined general infrastructure and health needs: connectivity. With the vast amount of electrical grid and ground towers damaged, FEMA estimates put cell service availability at a mere 60 percent an entire month after the storm.

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Source: Ars Technica – Project Loon team gave Puerto Rico connectivity—and assembled a helicopter

Docu-comedy Poop Talk flushes stigma with full hour of well-formed humor

 <em>Poop Talk</em>, loaded with renowned comedians.

 Poop Talk, loaded with renowned comedians. (credit: Copyright 2017 Comedy Dynamics and Party of Seven Entertainment)

For some, a 75-minute film of famous and talented comedians letting rip a steady stream of explicit jokes and messy misadventures involving fecal matter is an easy sell. Sign me up. For others, some pushing and straining may be needed to get them to plop down and watch.

Those hesitant viewers are just the ones the film’s creators are hoping to bag.

With the funny and sometimes cringe-inducing docu-comedy Poop Talk, comedians try—and do—use humor and tales of their deeply personal bodily functions to squeeze out the humanity of it all. The ultimate goal, its creators told Ars, is to flush the stigma associated with the stinky act—not to mention a whole host of gastrointestinal disorders.

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Source: Ars Technica – Docu-comedy Poop Talk flushes stigma with full hour of well-formed humor

Judge shuts door on attempt to get a new trial for Ross Ulbricht

Enlarge / Max Dickstein stands with other supporters of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged creator and operator of the Silk Road underground market, in front of a Manhattan federal court house on the first day of jury selection for his trial on January 13, 2015 in New York City. (credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The federal judge overseeing the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the man convicted of creating the underground Silk Road drug website, has denied the Ulbricht legal team’s attempt to extend the normal three-year window for “post-conviction relief.” In essence, the move stifles Ulbricht’s new attorney’s extraordinary effort to re-open the case with new exculpatory evidence, on the off-chance that it exists.

On February 5 in a brief, handwritten note, US District Judge Katherine Forrest blocked efforts by Ulbricht’s new lawyer, Paul Grant, to go beyond the standard 36-month period allowed in what is called a “Rule 33 motion.” (Grant took over the case from Ulbricht’s previous counsel, Joshua Dratel, in June 2017, shortly after an appellate court upheld Ulbricht’s conviction and double life sentence.)

“The motion to extend time for a Rule 33 motion is DENIED,” Judge Forrest wrote. “A Rule 33 motion is not an opportunity to relitigate that which has been litigated, or to engage in a fishing expedition for new evidence. The Court appreciates that Mr. Grant was not involved in the trial, but the transcript reveals that the very evidence to which he now points (that the FBI was monitoring the defendant’s online movements) was explicitly known at the trial.”

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Source: Ars Technica – Judge shuts door on attempt to get a new trial for Ross Ulbricht

Good news: Chrome debuts automatic blocking of annoying ads

Enlarge (credit: Daniel Oines)

Google developers this week debuted a long-anticipated feature in Chrome that automatically blocks one of the Internet’s biggest annoyances—intrusive ads.

Starting on Thursday, Chrome started filtering ads that fail to meet a set of criteria laid out by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group. The organization is made up of Google and others, and it aims to improve people’s experiences with online ads. In a post published Wednesday, Chrome Engineering Manager Chris Bentzel said the filtering will focus on ad types that were ranked the most intrusive by 40,000 Internet uses who participated in a survey. On computers, the ads include those involving:

For mobile devices, intrusive ads include those with:

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Source: Ars Technica – Good news: Chrome debuts automatic blocking of annoying ads

New studies zero in on roots of depression and why ketamine reverses it

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Source: Ars Technica – New studies zero in on roots of depression and why ketamine reverses it

Mueller flips American who unwittingly sold bank info to Russian trolls

Enlarge (credit: Richard Pinedo)

On Friday, shortly after Department of Justice officials announced the indictment of 13 Russians accused of being involved in a multi-year effort to spread false information online surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign, the DOJ also announced the guilty plea of a California man, Richard “Ricky” Pinedo.

The Californian, who did not respond to Ars’ attempts to contact him, admitted selling bank information to the Russians accused of being part of the criminal conspiracy.

Pinedo—28, of Santa Paula, California northwest of Los Angeles—ran a website called Auction Essistance. That site appears to have been in operation for at least a few years, and it offered “services that will enable you to get back onto eBay or Amazon ranging from pre-made eBay & Paypal accounts or verification tools.”

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Source: Ars Technica – Mueller flips American who unwittingly sold bank info to Russian trolls

Infamous Google memo author shot down by federal labor board

(credit: Shutterstock)

Former Google engineer James Damore has attempted to take civil and legal action against his former employer after being fired in August, but on Thursday, a federal memo revealed that one of Damore’s filings has been unequivocally denied.

The National Labor Relations Board published its memo this week, which was issued in January after Damore filed a charge against his former employer on August 8. In spite of Damore withdrawing his NLRB filing in September, the board proceeded to examine and issue its own ruling: Google “discharged [Damore] only for [his] unprotected conduct while it explicitly affirmed [his] right to engage in protected conduct.” The NLRB emphasized that any charge filed by Damore on the matter should be “dismissed.”

In explaining the board’s reasoning, NLRB member Jayme Sophir points to two specific parts of the controversial memo circulated by Damore in August: Damore’s claim that women are “more prone to ‘neuroticism,’ resulting in women experiencing higher anxiety and exhibiting lower tolerance for stress” and that “men demonstrate greater variance in IQ than women.”

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Source: Ars Technica – Infamous Google memo author shot down by federal labor board

Robotaxi permit gets Arizona’s OK; Waymo will start service in 2018

Enlarge / You’ll know it’s a Waymo Pacifica Hybrid by the roof bar covered in sensors. (credit: FCA)

On Friday, we discovered that Waymo, the self-driving Google spinoff, has been granted a permit to operate as a Transportation Network Company in the state of Arizona. This means that it can launch an official ride-hailing service and start charging customers for their journeys. It also confirms the findings of a recent report that put Waymo at the front of the autonomous vehicle pack, meaning my colleague Tim Lee was right when he said the launch of a commercial operation by Waymo in Arizona was imminent.

Arizona has become a popular state for autonomous vehicle programs. It has rather permissive testing oversight compared to California, for example. That, plus well-maintained roads and little harsh weather, has encouraged both Uber and Waymo to expand their presence in Phoenix.

In recent months, self-driving cars have become commonplace in the city. Since November 2017, Waymo has been running a pilot program that lets people hail rides in its cars; evidently that hasn’t thrown up any red flags to prevent this expansion.

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Source: Ars Technica – Robotaxi permit gets Arizona’s OK; Waymo will start service in 2018

32 class-action suits filed against Intel over Spectre and Meltdown flaws

Enlarge / This may become the new default imagery for Spectre and Meltdown around Intel. (credit: Brian Turner / Flickr)

In its annual SEC filing, Intel has revealed that it’s facing 32 lawsuits over the Spectre and Meltdown attacks on its processors. While the Spectre problem is a near-universal issue faced by modern processors, the Meltdown attack is specific to processors from Intel and Apple, along with certain ARM designs that are coming to market shortly.

Per Intel’s filing, 30 of the cases are customer class-action suits from users claiming to be harmed by the flaws. While Meltdown has effective workarounds, they come with some performance cost. Workarounds for Spectre are more difficult and similarly can harm system performance.

The other two cases are securities class actions that claim that Intel made misleading public statements during the six-month period after the company was notified of the problems but before the attacks were made public.

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Source: Ars Technica – 32 class-action suits filed against Intel over Spectre and Meltdown flaws

Charter fails to defeat lawsuit alleging false Internet speed promises

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Steven Puetzer)

Charter Communications cannot use the federal net neutrality repeal to avoid a lawsuit over slow Internet speeds in New York, the state’s Supreme Court ruled today.

The lawsuit was filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against Charter and its Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary in February 2017. Schneiderman alleges that the Internet provider “conduct[ed] a deliberate scheme to defraud and mislead New Yorkers by promising Internet service that they knew they could not deliver.”

Charter thought that the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal would help it fight the lawsuit. In November, Charter argued in a court filing that its motion to dismiss the case was bolstered by the repeal because the FCC also preempted state-level regulation.

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Source: Ars Technica – Charter fails to defeat lawsuit alleging false Internet speed promises