Solve coding challenges at Runcode.ninja online competition, Nov. 6-9

Shozoku and ninjato are encouraged, but not strictly required, in order to compete.

Enlarge / Shozoku and ninjato are encouraged, but not strictly required, in order to compete. (credit: RunCode)

Annual programming competition Runcode.ninja is back again in its fourth year, beginning Friday, November 6. RunCode is a nonprofit organization staffed by volunteers working in their spare time and focused on providing educational opportunities for coders and infosec folks. The online event allows programmers of all experience levels to tackle a wide array of challenges, using any of 14 supported programming languages.

This year, the competition theme is “all things web”—which means that most challenges will have something to do with websites; although the “something” can vary pretty drastically, from user interaction to server log analysis. The event will have more than 30 available challenges, grouped into easy, intermediate, and hard, for competitors to find and upload solutions for.

For each challenge, competitors will be given a problem description, a sample data set, and an expected output to make the desired order and formatting clear. Competitors are expected to generate more test data of their own and thoroughly verify the correctness of their code against all the corner cases they can think of; solutions tested against only the sample data provided will likely fail the challenge. Uploaded code is run in a sandboxed Docker container and its output tested for correctness.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Solve coding challenges at Runcode.ninja online competition, Nov. 6-9

Monster Mash: These are the best new horror movies to binge this Halloween

Tesla is now beta-testing self-driving software on public roads

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Tesla is now beta-testing self-driving software on public roads

Rocket Report: SpaceX hits the century mark, Vote for Atlas V on Election Day

Photograph of a rocket just after liftoff on a cloudy day.

Enlarge / The “In Focus” mission takes to the skies this week. (credit: Rocket Lab)

Welcome to Edition 3.22 of the Rocket Report! After a spate of recent scrubs, the Cape gets down to business in the coming week with back-to-back government launches, one by United Launch Alliance and the other by SpaceX. Fingers (and toes) are crossed.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don’t want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Rocket Lab orbits its 15th mission. Rocket Lab successfully launched its 15th Electron mission and deployed Earth-imaging satellites for Planet and Spaceflight Inc. customer Canon Electronics, the company said. The “In Focus” mission launched from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula at 21:21 UTC Wednesday.

Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Rocket Report: SpaceX hits the century mark, Vote for Atlas V on Election Day

There’s no place like the perfectly sized home for the mighty mantis shrimp

“Nice burrow you have there. I want it.” Patrick Green of the University of Exeter filmed this fight between mantis shrimp. (video link)

Size matters to the small-but-mighty mantis shrimp, which show a marked preference for burrows in coral rubble with volumes that closely match their own body size or are just a bit larger—in other words, large enough to accommodate their body, but small enough that they can defend the entrance. But according to a new paper published in the journal Animal Behavior, sometimes a mantis shrimp will compromise. If a burrow is already occupied and is close to the ideal size, or a bit smaller, the mantis shrimp will fight longer and harder for that burrow—and be more likely to win the contest.

As we previously reported, mantis shrimp come in many different varieties: there are some 450 known species. But they can generally be grouped into two types: those that stab their prey with spear-like appendages (“spearers”) and those that smash their prey (“smashers”) with large, rounded, and hammer-like claws (“raptorial appendages”). Those strikes are so fast—as much as 23 meters per second, or 51mph—and powerful, they often produce cavitation bubbles in the water, creating a shock wave that can serve as a follow-up strike, stunning and sometimes killing the prey. Sometimes a strike can even produce sonoluminescence, whereby the cavitation bubbles produce a brief flash of light as they collapse.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – There’s no place like the perfectly sized home for the mighty mantis shrimp

Apple earnings show strong iPad and Mac sales can’t make up for the iPhone

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Apple earnings show strong iPad and Mac sales can’t make up for the iPhone

Ancient skull a new window on human migrations, Denisovan meetings

Image of a large, lit trench with people working in it.

Enlarge / These excavations identified Denisovan DNA within the sediment. (credit: Dongju Zhang, Dongju Zhang, Lanzhou University)

The Denisovans occupy a very weird place in humanity’s history. Like the Neanderthals, they are an early branch off the lineage that produced modern humans and later intermingled with modern humans. But we’d known of Neanderthals for roughly 150 years before we got any of their DNA sequence and had identified a set of anatomical features that defined them. In contrast, we had no idea that Denisovans existed until their DNA turned up unexpectedly in a single, tiny piece of finger. And, to this day, we’ve not identified enough remains to really say anything about what they looked like.

But, over time, we’ve gotten increasing ancient DNA samples that are providing a clearer picture of our interactions with this enigmatic lineage. Now, two new reports describe ancient DNA that provides some more details. One paper describes a modern human genome from Asia that dates to closer to the time when interbreeding must have taking place. It provides further evidence that there were at least two instances of interbreeding, and it helps clarify how early human populations moved around Asia. The second confirms that Denisovans were living along the Tibetan Plateau and may have adapted to high altitudes.

The Mongolian skull

Back in 2006, mining in Mongolia’s Salkhit Valley turned up the top of a skull that was clearly old. But, because it didn’t have any definitive features, people argued over whether it might be Neanderthal or Homo erectus. However, preliminary DNA sequencing indicated it belonged to a modern human, with carbon dating placing its age at roughly 34,000 years old.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Ancient skull a new window on human migrations, Denisovan meetings

Hackers are on the hunt for Oracle servers vulnerable to potent exploit

Photograph of computer server.

Enlarge (credit: Victorgrigas)

Hackers are scanning the Internet for machines that have yet to patch a recently disclosed flaw that force Oracle’s WebLogic server to execute malicious code, a researcher warned Wednesday night.

Johannes Ullrich, dean of research at the SANS Technology Institute, said his organization’s honeypots had detected Internetwide scans that probe for vulnerable servers. CVE-2020-14882, as the vulnerability is tracked, has a severity rating of 9.8 out of 10 on the CVSS scale. Oracle’s October advisory accompanying a patch said exploits are low in complexity and require low privileges and no user interaction.

“At this point, we are seeing the scans slow down a bit,” Ullrich wrote in a post. “But they have reached ‘saturation’ meaning that all IPv4 addresses have been scanned for this vulnerability. If you find a vulnerable server in your network: Assume it has been compromised.”

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Hackers are on the hunt for Oracle servers vulnerable to potent exploit

Senate hauls Zuckerberg, Dorsey in to hearing to yell at them about tweets

A man with a massive beard talks on a flatscreen between a pair of faux columns.

Enlarge / Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (and his COVID beard?) testifying remotely before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on October 28, 2020. (credit: Michael Reynolds | Pool | Getty Images)

The Senate Commerce Committee met for a hearing Wednesday meant to probe some of the most seemingly intractable tech questions of our time: is the liability shield granted to tech firms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act helpful or harmful, and does it need amending?

Section 230 is a little slice of law with enormously broad implications for the entire Internet and all the communication we do online. At a basic level, it means that if you use an Internet service such as Facebook or YouTube to say something obscene or unlawful, then you, not the Internet service, are the one responsible for having said the thing. The Internet service, meanwhile, has legal immunity from whatever you said. The law also allows space for Internet services to moderate user content how they wish—heavily, lightly, or not at all.

Since Section 230 became law in 1996, the Internet has scaled up from something that perhaps 15 percent of US households could access to something that almost every teenager and adult has in their pocket. Those questions of scale and ubiquity have changed our media and communications landscape, and both Democrats and Republicans alike have questioned what Section 230 should look like going forward. What we do with the law—and where we go from here—is a matter of major import not just for big social media firms such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, but for the future of every other platform from Reddit to Ars to your favorite cooking blog—and every nascent site, app, and platform yet to come.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Senate hauls Zuckerberg, Dorsey in to hearing to yell at them about tweets

Tons of early Black Friday deals are live at Best Buy and Amazon today

A collage of electronic consumer goods against a white background.

Enlarge / Early Black Friday deals are already available at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy today, albeit for a limited time. (credit: Ars Technica)

Today’s Dealmaster is headlined by a wide range of early Black Friday 2020 deals that have become available at Best Buy and Amazon. The former unveiled its annual Black Friday ad on Thursday, setting live a surprise preview sale in the process, which Amazon and other retailers look to be matching in many cases. Best Buy says its set of offers will end on November 1 at 11:59pm CT but warns that “limited quantities” are available.

While we’re likely to witness many more deals go live on Black Friday itself, today’s discounts do bring some of the best prices we’ve seen on a number of noteworthy gadgets. Among the highlights are Sony’s WH-1000XM4 for $278, which is the biggest outright discount to date for our top pick among wireless noise-canceling headphones. (A Prime Day deal previously dropped them to $298 but included a $25 Amazon gift card.) If you’d rather pay less, Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II are down to a joint low of $199. That pair lacks many of the XM4’s most useful features, but it’s similarly effective at muting out noise and remains supremely comfortable to wear.

Elsewhere, the 55- and 65-inch variants of LG’s BX and CX OLED TVs are all on sale for the lowest prices we’ve tracked. These sets are still expensive—ranging from $1,300 for the 55-inch BX to $1,900 to the 65-inch CX—but each is at least $200 off the typical street prices we’ve seen in recent months, and the improved picture quality of any OLED TV always carries a premium. Between the two, the CX is likely the better buy—it has a more advanced image processor and a brighter panel for $100 more—but both sets should be big upgrades over most traditional LED TVs.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Tons of early Black Friday deals are live at Best Buy and Amazon today

Dogs were domesticated once from a lost population of wolves

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Dogs were domesticated once from a lost population of wolves

Google says it’s “committed” to Nest Secure but won’t ship any new features

No one is quite sure what to make of Google’s home security plans lately. The company recently discontinued the Nest Secure, its $500 home security system, so, on one hand, it is out of the home security market. On the other hand, Google also recently signed a $450 million deal with home monitoring firm ADT, which will see it “combine Nest’s award-winning hardware and services, powered by Google’s machine-learning technology, with ADT’s installation, service and professional monitoring.” With the Nest Secure being discontinued, does this mean Google is rebooting its security hardware into something that goes hand in hand with ADT? Is the Nest Secure product line dead? How much longer will the existing Nest Secure be supported?

About a week after news broke that the Nest Secure was discontinued, Google  started to communicate to Nest Secure owners in a forum post, a help page, and an email about what is going on. Regardless, it still hasn’t provided a very clear picture of the future.

The most concrete message out of all that communication is that existing Nest Secure users will have at least one more chance to stock up on hardware soon. The Nest Secure works by having a hub/keypad (the Nest Guard) monitor your house via sensors on the doors and windows (the Nest Detect sensors), and users can authorize themselves either with the code or by tapping an NFC tag (the Nest Tag) against the hub. The sudden stoppage of hardware sales was a real bummer for anyone who was already invested in the system and maybe wanted to monitor one more door or window in the future, or someone who was worried about a sensor breaking.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Google says it’s “committed” to Nest Secure but won’t ship any new features

Trump campaign out $2.3 million after hack of Wisconsin GOP

Trump campaign out $2.3 million after hack of Wisconsin GOP

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Hackers have stolen $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican Party that was intended for use in the president’s re-election campaign, officials told the Associated Press on Thursday. The state party says it noticed suspicious activity a week ago and contacted the FBI last Friday.

Andrew Hitt, the chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, says the theft puts Trump at a disadvantage in the state. He told the AP the party planned to use the money for last-minute needs in the final days of the race.

The theft was accomplished by tampering with invoices submitted to the party from four vendors. The modified invoices directed the state GOP to send money to accounts controlled by the hackers. The hack apparently began as a phishing attempt, Hitt told the AP.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Trump campaign out .3 million after hack of Wisconsin GOP

As experts call for nationwide mask mandate, anti-maskers stab guard 27 times

VANCOUVER, Oct. 24, 2020 - A voter wearing a face mask is seen outside a polling station during the provincial election day in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Oct. 24, 2020.

Enlarge / VANCOUVER, Oct. 24, 2020 – A voter wearing a face mask is seen outside a polling station during the provincial election day in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Oct. 24, 2020. (credit: Getty | Xinhua News Agency)

As US coronavirus cases dramatically shoot up to the highest peak yet in the pandemic, prominent public health experts are calling for a nationwide mandate to wear masks to try to drag down disease spread.

The call comes as violent clashes over masks continue in places that already have face-covering requirements.

In a Wednesday interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci called for a national mandate. “We’re not in a good place,” Fauci said, referring to the ongoing, record-breaking rise in daily case numbers.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – As experts call for nationwide mask mandate, anti-maskers stab guard 27 times

Bethesda exec says an Xbox-exclusive Elder Scrolls is “hard to imagine”

Seriously, about all we really know about <em>The Elder Scrolls VI</em> at this point is that it will have mountains.

Enlarge / Seriously, about all we really know about The Elder Scrolls VI at this point is that it will have mountains.

It has been over a month now since Microsoft announced it was spending $7.5 billion to purchase Bethesda Softworks via its parent company, Zenimax Media. But gamers and industry-watchers are still left with one burning question: what does this mean for the prospect of multi-console (i.e. non-Xbox) releases for future Bethesda games?

Bethesda’s Todd Howard, known for his directing and producing work on The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, isn’t quite ready to answer that question directly. But in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, he broadly hinted that he expects Bethesda’s major franchises to appear on non-Xbox consoles going forward.

“I would agree that is hard to imagine” The Elder Scrolls VI restricted to Microsoft platforms, Howard said in response to a direct question on the matter.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Bethesda exec says an Xbox-exclusive Elder Scrolls is “hard to imagine”

iPhone 12 and 12 Pro double review: Playing Apple’s greatest hits

Read 134 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – iPhone 12 and 12 Pro double review: Playing Apple’s greatest hits

War Stories: How Nintendo sold the NES to a skeptical country

Today Nintendo is a household name, the family-friendly gaming equivalent of a major brand like Disney. But it wasn’t always that way.

Ars Technica’s latest War Stories video looks at the early days of Nintendo’s 80s invasion of American shores and the marketing muscle it took to convince the American public that this Japanese company could revive a floundering video game market.

Building a brand

Perhaps more than anyone else, the person who helped massage Nintendo’s early branding and image in the United States was Gail Tilden, the company’s US marketing manager. When she started in 1983, Nintendo of America was still a small 70-person company focused on arcade games like Donkey Kong and one-off portables in the Game & Watch line.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – War Stories: How Nintendo sold the NES to a skeptical country

Chevrolet readies an electric crate motor for homebuilt EV hotrods

I don’t know about you, but I am totally here for the growing trend of putting electric propulsion in classic cars. Much of the pioneering work has been done by small aftermarket shops: Zelectric and EV West in California, Electric Classic Cars in the UK, and so on. But increasingly, OEMs are giving it a go as well. For a while, Jaguar was preparing to sell a (very expensive) conversion kit for its XKE-engined cars, although sadly that has been cancelled. Volkswagen has been working with eClassics on an electric conversion of the Type 1 bus. And here in the US, the annual SEMA show has featured some factory-blessed high voltage hot rods for the last couple of years.

SEMA is going virtual this year, and one of the cars that Chevrolet will show off will be a 1977 K5 Blazer—called the Blazer-E—that previews the company’s new eCrate aftermarket powertrain. The build team traded the Blazer’s huge 6.6L V8, with its meagre 175hp (130kW), for the 200hp (150kW) motor from the Bolt EV, which connects to the Blazer’s four-wheel drive system via a four-speed auto that replaces the original three-speed transmission.

The fuel tank and exhaust also went in the recycling bin, and a 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack was mounted in the Blazer’s cargo area. This is also from the Bolt EV and includes all the wiring and power electronics one needs to manage a modern battery EV powertrain.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Chevrolet readies an electric crate motor for homebuilt EV hotrods

US government warns of imminent ransomware attacks against hospitals

US government warns of imminent ransomware attacks against hospitals

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Russian hackers are targeting hundreds of US hospitals and healthcare providers just as the Corona Virus is making a comeback and the US presidential election is in its final stretch, officials from three government agencies and the private sector are warning.

The hackers typically use the TrickBot network of infected computers to penetrate the organizations and after further burrowing into their networks deploy Ryuk, a particularly aggressive piece of ransomware, a joint advisory published by the FBI, Health and Human Services, and the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security agency said.

“CISA, FBI, and HHS have credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to US hospitals and healthcare providers,” Wednesday evening’s advisory stated. “CISA, FBI, and HHS are sharing this information to provide warning to healthcare providers to ensure that they take timely and reasonable precautions to protect their networks from these threats.”

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – US government warns of imminent ransomware attacks against hospitals

How a tiny bit of lacquer grounded new Falcon 9 rockets for a month

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – How a tiny bit of lacquer grounded new Falcon 9 rockets for a month