Epic payout: FTC opens Fortnite settlement claim floodgates

The Register - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 12:43
Parents and players alike can now apply for a piece of the $245m pie

The US Federal Trade Commission has opened up a website so that anyone who feels they were tricked into spending money in Epic Games' hit shooter Fortnite can ask for a share of a $245 million settlement pie. …

Categories: Tech News

The Pixel Fold’s screen repair will cost $900

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 12:06

We have more Pixel parts. The Pixel Fold, Google's biggest and most expensive phone, now has a whole parts selection up at iFixit.

The big-ticket item is a repair kit for the 7.6-inch inner display. If you were to somehow break the flexible OLED panel (who would ever do that?), the part will cost you a whopping $900. That's a lot for the display, but you're not actually buying just the top display. Even the "part only" option for $900 is the entire top half of the Pixel Fold. We're talking the display, the bezels around it, the entire metal frame and sides of the phone, the all-important hinge, side buttons, fingerprint sensor, and a whole bunch of wires. You wouldn't buy this and connect it to your original phone; you would part out your original phone and move a few pieces over into this, like the motherboard, batteries, cameras, and back plate.

There's also a flexible display "Fix Kit" for just $10 more that includes a bevy of iFixit tools, like screwdrivers, a few soft-pry tools, a heat pad, a suction cup, 14 different custom-cut adhesive strips, the heat-dissipating graphite sheet, and thermal paste; and for some reason there are even two brand-new batteries.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

TransUnion reckons big dump of customer data came from someone else

The Register - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 11:58
Prolific info-thief strikes again

Days after a miscreant boasted leaking a 3GB-plus database from TransUnion containing financial information on 58,505 people, the credit-checking agency has claimed the info was actually swiped from a third party.…

Categories: Tech News

AI-generated books force Amazon to cap ebook publications to 3 per day

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 11:57
Illustration of a robot passing an

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

On Monday, Amazon introduced a new policy that limits Kindle authors from self-publishing more than three books per day on its platform, reports The Guardian. The rule comes as Amazon works to curb abuses of its publication system from an influx of AI-generated books.

Amazon revealed the new limitations in a post on its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forum. KDP allows self-published authors to list their works on the Amazon website. While the official announcement did not state a limit number, an Amazon representative told The Guardian about the three-book limit, which can be adjusted "if needed." Previously, there had been no limit on the number of books that authors could list daily.

Since the launch of ChatGPT, an AI assistant that can compose text in almost any style, some news outlets have reported a marked increase in AI-authored books, including some that seek to fool others by using established author names. Despite the anecdotal observations, Amazon is keeping its cool about the scale of the AI-generated book issue for now. "While we have not seen a spike in our publishing numbers," they write, "in order to help protect against abuse, we are lowering the volume limits we have in place on new title creations."

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

New study looks again at how alcohol influences attraction

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 11:45
This beer isn't helping.

Enlarge / This beer isn't helping. (credit: Grady Reese)

For a phenomenon that is so deeply engrained in the public consciousness, the scientific evidence regarding what has been called "beer goggles" is surprisingly inconsistent. The term refers to finding people more attractive after drinking alcohol, and there is a wealth of scientific evidence both for and against its existence.

The effect has become a trope in popular culture, with countless shows and movies referencing it. Bart sees Aunt Selma as a beautiful young woman through a pair of Duff beer goggles in The Simpsons, while Mythbusters even tested whether the effect was real (they concluded it was plausible).

The latest study to throw its hat into the ring was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs by scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University. It has added to the pool of evidence that rejects the existence of beer goggles. But what the work found is that alcohol seems to give people “liquid courage,” increasing their willingness to interact with people they find attractive.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

Angus Cloud Died Of a Fentanyl, Cocaine, Meth, and Benzo Overdose.

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 10:18

Euphoria star Angus Cloud died of an accidental overdose after consuming fentanyl, meth, cocaine, and a benzodiazepine, according to the Alameda County Coroner today. 

Cloud, who played an affable drug dealer on the show, was 25 when he was found dead in his family home in Oakland on July 31. 

The coroner’s office told VICE News Cloud died of “acute intoxication” due to the combination of drugs. 

He died a week after burying his father, Conor Hickey, who died of cancer in May. 

At the time, Cloud’s family issued a statement saying that he was “reunited with his dad, who was his best friend.” 

“Angus was open about his battle with mental health and we hope that his passing can be a reminder to others that they are not alone and should not fight this on their own in silence,” the statement said. 

In a Facebook post, his mother Lisa Cloud later said she did not believe her son died by suicide. 

“Although my son was in deep grief about his father's untimely death from mesothelioma, his last day was a joyful one. He was reorganizing his room and placing items around the house with intent to stay a while in the home he loved,” she said. 

“When we hugged goodnight we said how much we loved each other and he said he would see me in the morning. I don't know if or what he may have put in his body after that. I only know that he put his head on the desk where he was working on art project's, fell asleep and didn't wake up. We may find out that he overdosed accidentally and tragically, but it's abundantly clear that he did not intend to check out of this world.” 

The coroner’s office told VICE News that a written report on Cloud’s death won’t be available for another month. 

His death highlights the toxicity of the drug supply, which is increasingly being contaminated by synthetic drugs; the majority of deaths are driven by fentanyl. A recently published study from researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that fatal overdoses involving people who used fentanyl alongside cocaine or meth rose 50-fold between 2010 and 2021. 

Follow Manisha on X.

Categories: Tech News

Google sued over fatal Google Maps error after man drove off broken bridge

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 10:17
A collapsed bridge on a small road without any lights or barriers to protect drivers.

The collapsed bridge that Philip Paxson drove off of. (credit: Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky)

Google is being sued by a widow who says her husband drowned in September 2022 after Google Maps directed him over a collapsed bridge in Hickory, North Carolina.

Google failed to correct its map service despite warnings about the broken bridge two years before the accident, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday by Alicia Paxson in Wake County Superior Court. Philip Paxson "died tragically while driving home from his daughter's ninth birthday party, when he drove off of an unmarked, unbarricaded collapsed bridge in Hickory, North Carolina while following GPS directions," the complaint said.

The Snow Creek Bridge reportedly collapsed in 2013 and wasn't repaired. Barricades were typically in place but "were removed after being vandalized and were missing at the time of Paxson's wreck," according to The Charlotte Observer. The lawsuit has five defendants, including Google and its owner Alphabet.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft overhauls its pricey Surface Laptop Studio with new CPU, GPU, and RAM

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 10:07
The Surface Laptop Studio 2.

Enlarge / The Surface Laptop Studio 2. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

NEW YORK—Two years after announcing the original, Microsoft has announced a much-needed refresh of the Surface Laptop Studio, the company's convertible touchscreen laptop that also serves as its most powerful notebook for people playing games or doing any kind of 3D rendering or GPU-accelerated AI work. The new Laptop Studio 2 will start at $1,999.99 and is available for preorder now; it will ship on October 3.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 From $2000 at Microsoft (Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

The Laptop Studio 2 is a substantial internal overhaul, swapping out a quad-core 11th-generation Intel Core CPU and a GeForce 3050 Ti for a 13th-generation CPU and GeForce RTX 4050 and 4060 options (with an RTX 2000 also available for people who need a "pro" GPU). Microsoft continues to refresh Surface devices toward the end of Intel's product cycles, and next-generation Meteor Lake Core processors should be coming soon, but this is still a welcome upgrade over the old model. It's also the first x86 Surface that Microsoft sells with an NPU for accelerating AI and machine learning workloads, specifically an Intel Gen 3 Intel Movidius 3700VC.

Unfortunately, the base $2,000 version gets you very few of those perks. It includes an i7-13700H with six P-cores, eight E-cores, and 16GB of RAM, but it only comes with integrated graphics and a 512GB SSD.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

95% of NFTs now totally worthless, say researchers

The Register - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 10:00
'Even the most prominent collections are struggling to maintain demand'

Just a couple of years ago you'd have no trouble finding some celebrity hawking a non-fungible token (NFT) project. But how quickly times change, as now, even websites dedicated to gambling with cryptocurrency are warning people to stay away from NFTs.…

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop Go 3 is officially no longer a budget PC

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 09:47
Meet the Surface Laptop Go 3. It looks a lot like the Laptop Go 2.

Enlarge / Meet the Surface Laptop Go 3. It looks a lot like the Laptop Go 2.

NEW YORK—Microsoft is updating two of the cheapest, cutest Surface devices today, announcing internal refreshes for the Surface Laptop Go and the Surface Go tablet. The Surface Laptop Go 3 and the Surface Go 4 are externally identical to their predecessors, but both are getting respectable internal upgrades that should provide enough power for budget-minded PC buyers. But only the laptop will be available to the general public; the new Go tablet will only be offered to Microsoft's business customers.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 From $800 at Microsoft (Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

The Laptop Go 3 is getting a new higher starting price of $800, which is $200 higher than the starting price of the Laptop Go 2. That said, the $600 configuration of the Laptop Go 2 was essentially impossible to recommend, thanks to its 128GB SSD and (especially) its paltry 4GB of RAM. The new base config comes with a serviceable 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD, with a 16GB RAM upgrade available for another $200. These upgrade prices are steep and arguably take the Go out of the "budget laptop" category, but they do have the benefit of making it much more usable, and the laptop costs the same amount as the 8GB/256GB version of the Laptop Go 2.

The Laptop Go 3 is available for preorder now in four different colors and will launch on October 3.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

Next major Windows update is available September 26, with new AI (and not-AI) features

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 09:21
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella formally announces the ready-for-the-public version of Copilot.

Enlarge / Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella formally announces the ready-for-the-public version of Copilot. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

NEW YORK—Microsoft will be releasing its next major Windows update with "over 150 new features" later this month, the company announced in a presentation today. The update furthers Microsoft's crusade to tuck generative AI into all of its products, though, as usual, it makes a ton of smaller iterative changes to the OS and its apps.

Microsoft says these new features "start becoming available September 26," which could mean that some are available on that day and others are available later. It could also be a reference to Microsoft's standard practice of rolling major Windows updates out to smaller groups of users first, checking for problems, and expanding the rollout to larger groups afterward.

Curiously, Microsoft says this version of Windows will still be called "22H2," where we'd normally expect it to be released as the 23H2 update. Microsoft hasn't formally announced any changes to its "annual feature update cadence," though these days, it seems to run counter to the company's "release new features whenever they're ready and we feel like doing it" policy.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

US DoD serves up $238M Chips Act funding to 8 regional hubs

The Register - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 09:15
Hoping to bridge the dreaded 'lab-to-fab' gap where R&D dreams go to die

The US Department of Defense is investing $238 million in 8 Microelectronics Commons regional innovation hubs as part of Washington’s efforts to boost semiconductor production across the country, and in particular to bridge the so-called “lab to fab” gap.…

Categories: Tech News

‘We Can't Defend Ourselves’: Amazon Isn’t Doing Enough About Its Dog Bite Problem, Drivers Say

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 09:12

For Arturo Solozano, it was just another average day as an Amazon delivery driver. He would drive to a stop, pick out the right package from the back of his van, and walk up to the entrance to set it down before returning to his vehicle. Nothing special. But on one stop, something went wrong. 

“I was walking back to the step van, and as I was stepping up, I felt something grab me by my ankle and pull me down,” Solozano said. “I thought, ‘What the heck was this?’” 

Solozano turned around to find a stray dog had bitten him, and drawn blood. 

“I was like, ‘Damn, this really hurts,” he said. “I called my dispatch, and one of them told me, ‘Just sit tight and try to keep working until I can find someone to help you.’ I was trying to continue on my route. I don’t want to be behind. They’re always asking, ‘How come you’re behind?’ I’m trying to do it, but I just got bit, and it’s hurting a lot to walk.” 

Solozano tried to continue delivering for almost two hours, while he waited for his dispatcher to find somebody to take his place. On average, Amazon delivery drivers get around 10 hours a day to complete between 150 and 200 stops. In those two hours, Solozano only managed to do nine. 

“All my stops are pretty close to each other, so those nine stops I could’ve probably done in about 15 minutes, but it was taking over an hour,” he said. “It was just hurting so much. I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I’ve got to go to the hospital.’” The next day, his delivery route took him to the same place, he said. 

Solozano is far from the only delivery driver to get attacked by a dog while on the job for Amazon. The subreddit for Amazon drivers is full of posts from workers sharing gruesome images of the aftermath of such attacks. Last year, an Amazon driver was found dead on a customer’s front lawn after being attacked by dogs. Though police did not initially announce a cause of death, they said at the time that he had suffered “a tremendous amount of trauma to his body consistent with canine bites.”

“They just tell us to jingle our keys”

Motherboard spoke to four current and former Amazon drivers who have experienced dog attacks while delivering packages and viewed Amazon training materials for drivers. The workers described inadequate training and preparation, like not being permitted to carry self-defense sprays.  

Amazon’s approach stands in stark contrast to how the United States Postal Service handles the issue, for example by allowing and encouraging mail carriers to use pepper spray and taking care of all necessary registrations. 

“They just tell us to jingle our keys and make sure there’s no dog,” said Cecilia Porter, a former Amazon delivery driver in California who told Motherboard about two instances when she was attacked by dogs while delivering. Porter and Solozano are members of a group of drivers that unionized with the Teamsters in April—their delivery company’s contract with Amazon has since been terminated

Amazon spokesperson Simone Griffin told Motherboard in an emailed statement that the company trained drivers to “practice dog avoidance,” and to “immediately seek assistance” if they saw a dog or signs of a dog, like a water bowl or a leash. 

“We provide safety training to drivers as part of [drivers’] onboarding, and then ongoing throughout their tenure,” Griffin said. “The training courses communicate important safety topics, such as safe package loading, driving practices, pet awareness and avoidance, and that the drivers should never deliver in situations that they feel unsafe.”

Griffin shared sample training videos, such as how drivers can identify dog clues and report a dog on their route. One video tells drivers to make their presence known by honking their horn, shaking their keys, and saying “Amazon delivery!” The video quotes Amazon’s Dog Bite Prevention Training as saying that these actions will “help gain the attention of dogs” in order for drivers to identify them.

Multiple drivers who spoke to Motherboard also said they had been told to “jiggle” or “jingle” their keys when approaching a house to alert any potential dogs of their presence. Other tips drivers have shared included keeping an eye on the dog, keeping their arms at their sides to appear non-threatening, and placing a package between themselves and the dog. 

Motherboard obtained from a driver a copy of an article from the Amazon Flex app, which allows individuals to sign up to deliver packages using their personal vehicles, that explained what a driver should do if there is a dog at their stop. The article is from the Learning Portal section of the app, where drivers can find instructional resources. Griffin told Motherboard that both Flex drivers and Amazon delivery associates had access to the same basic training information, as well as more specific information depending on what vehicle they were using or how they were contracted. 

“When you’re out delivering, you’ll probably see dogs and other pets,” the article begins. “Many of them will be friendly, but some of them won’t. Remember: your safety is important to us and if you ever feel unsafe during a delivery, you don’t have to deliver the package.” 

“We can’t defend ourselves”

Multiple drivers have previously told Motherboard that they can face disciplinary action if they do not deliver all their packages, or fall behind on their routes

“If you think there might be a dog around, but don’t see one, be careful as you approach the customer’s location,” the article says. It then says that when the driver notifies the customer of their arrival, the customer will be asked to “please secure any pets.” Drivers can also add a paw print icon to customer stops to inform future drivers that a dog is on the premises. The Flex app does not appear to address what a driver should do if they are actually attacked by a dog, or how to prevent such attacks. 

Motherboard viewed an FAQ page on the Flex app after creating an account, which instructs drivers to stand still and let dogs approach them, and warns drivers to look out for “growling or bared teeth” and to contact the customer to come and secure visibly unfriendly dogs. If the customer does not respond, drivers are instructed to call Support. 

Amazon Flex app guidelines for dog encounters. Amazon Flex app guidelines for dog encounters. Screengrab: Amazon Flex

The driver who sent the Learning Portal article to Motherboard said they did not know of any other instructions in writing regarding how to deal with dogs. “This is what I’ve found, but overall, I feel the system is not great for drivers, especially if they’re going to be penalized for not delivering,” the driver said. 

The driver also told Motherboard that they were not permitted to carry any defensive sprays. “I don’t think that’s fair, that we can’t carry any weapons. We can’t defend ourselves,” they said. 

They recounted an instance after they had been attacked by a dog while on a delivery, when they asked their management if they could carry some form of pepper spray or mace, and were told they could not. The materials viewed by Motherboard relating to dog bites do not mention sprays or any kind of self-defense. 

Amazon spokesperson Simone Griffin told Motherboard that, “Delivery Associates and Amazon Flex delivery partners are free to carry dog deterrent devices as long as they comply with state and local laws,” but said that it was against the company’s policies for people delivering its packages to carry items that are legally considered weapons. 

While pepper spray for self-defense is legal in many jurisdictions, often with restrictions, it may still be considered a “weapon.” For example, Chicago's municipal code only bans discharging pepper spray in an enclosed space such as a bar, but it is included in a section called "firearms and other weapons." Griffin said that it is up to delivery service partners (DSPs)—third-party contractors that employ Amazon drivers—to interpret relevant laws. 

Griffin also said that the company had begun pilot-testing a small dog-distancing device using sound and light to create space between a driver and a dog at a select few delivery stations earlier in the year. Amazon declined to share images of the device with Motherboard. 

Do you work for Amazon? Do you know more about the company’s dog safety or self-defense policies, or have you seen its deterrent device? We’d love to hear from you. From a non-work phone or email, you can contact Jules Roscoe at jules.roscoe@vice.com or on Signal at (415) 763-7705.

Dog bites are an all-too-common reality for Amazon delivery drivers. “I was delivering to someone’s house. I got out of my van, and right when I got out, there was a dog there,” said one driver on the East Coast, who requested to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns. “It seemed friendly at first. It didn’t do anything. I was talking to her, and I had a box in front of me, and then out of nowhere, the dog started jumping on me.” 

“I just saw blood all over my hand”

“She had long unclipped nails and they were dragging down my torso,” the driver continued. “I used the package to try to get her off of me, and she ripped the package out of my hand onto the ground. I was like, ‘Oh my God, she’s going to bite me.’” The driver said the dog knocked them to the ground and that they had to fight it off to get back to their van. When they drove away, they said it chased them down the road.

“I didn’t stop until I felt something wet on my back,” they said. “I took my hand, and I touched my back and put my hand in front of myself. And I just saw blood all over my hand. I called my management and told them what happened. They didn’t really want me to leave. They were upset that I got attacked by a dog and couldn’t finish delivering the packages. They didn’t have any sympathy about it.” The driver posted gruesome photos of their back injuries to Reddit.

Beyond the stories drivers told Motherboard, grisly images of dog attack aftermath populate the Amazon driver subreddit, r/AmazonDSPDrivers. A page search for “dog” or “bite” yields bloody legs, gashes in arms, and even attacks to the face. Motherboard has reached out to some of the drivers who posted these images, though not all have responded. 

After an Amazon driver was found dead after being attacked by a customer’s dogs last year, Amazon reminded its drivers to look out for “four-legged customers” while on the job. 

“Our deepest sympathies continue to be with the victim’s family and loved ones,” Griffin said.

The DSP system gives Amazon a convenient arms-length relationship with employees. The group of drivers that Solozano and Porter were members of unionized with the Teamsters in April, and demanded that Amazon bargain a contract with them. Amazon refused to do so, saying the DSP was responsible for the drivers’ conditions—but the Teamsters said that Amazon itself was in “complete control” of the DSP’s operations. When reporting on these events, Motherboard published a story referring to “Amazon delivery drivers” in the headline. Amazon asked for this to be changed to “drivers delivering for Amazon,” which distances itself from the drivers and any problems they might face. 

The threat of dog bites is not a problem exclusive to workers delivering for Amazon. Dogs pose a big threat in the delivery industry as a whole. By definition, being a delivery driver involves going onto people’s property, which a protective dog might easily perceive as a threat. 

“Dog incidents are a safety concern for anyone who delivers mail, packages, meals, or provides other at-home customer services,” Amazon spokesperson Griffin said. “Our goal is to prevent and reduce these injuries, which is why we work with our partners to provide dog avoidance training, dog deterrent devices, and remind drivers that no one is required to complete a delivery if they feel unsafe. We also encourage our customers to help by securing their dogs when a delivery is scheduled, so drivers can deliver packages safely.” 

Other delivery services, like the United States Postal Service, have found ways to deal with this problem that include providing materials for self-defense. 

The USPS annually releases its dog attack data in an effort to inform its customers. One press release from the USPS, announcing its annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week campaign this past June, said that over 5,300 postal service workers were attacked by dogs in 2022. 

“Aggressive dog behavior is a common safety concern USPS employees face,” the press release stated. “To keep its workers safe, the organization is providing important information on how dog owners can be good stewards for safe mail delivery…Many attacks reported by letter carriers came from dogs whose owners regularly stated, ‘My dog won’t bite.’ Dog bites are entirely preventable. One bite is one too many.” 

Griffin told Motherboard that Amazon does track dog injury data, and that the data proved it was making progress, but that the company would not be sharing access to it. 

The press release details some training postal service workers are given, including to “make some noise or rattle a fence to alert a dog if entering a yard,” and to “place their foot against an outward swinging door to prevent a dog from escaping.” Mail carriers leave warning cards at residences where dogs are “known to interfere with delivery of mail,” which is a step up from Amazon's paw print icon which only indicates a dog is on site. 

“If a dog attacks, carriers are also trained to stand their ground and protect their body by placing something between them and the dog—such as a mail satchel—and to use dog repellent, if necessary,” the press release states. The USPS allows its workers to carry dog repellent pepper spray, which has been accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pesticides Regulation Branch and is registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. On the state level, the informational rulebook on the spray says it is registered “in all states requiring such registration. The significance of these registrations is that they identify the product(s) as effective and safe.”

“If a dog attacks you, use the repellent to protect yourself,” the instructional manual states. “Spray the repellent directly at the eyes, nose, and mouth of the attacking dog by pressing the control on top of the container,” it instructs. 

“When it comes to our security, it's nonexistent,” an Amazon driver told Motherboard. “We have nothing. I can't give you one piece of advice to tell a driver what to do if they’re attacked by a dog, besides going into your truck, going to grab your phone. The world just doesn’t work like that. But apparently in Amazon’s cartoon world, they feel like it does.”

Categories: Tech News

Jaguar jettisions CCS charger plug, negotiates Tesla Supercharger access

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 09:06
A Jaguar I-Pace parked in front of a Tesla Supercharger

Enlarge / Jaguar is the latest automaker to negotiate a switch from the Combined Charging Standard to the North American Charging Standard. (credit: Jaguar)

The North American Charging Standard has another new convert. On Thursday, Jaguar announced that it's the latest automaker to decide to change its charger plugs on its battery electric vehicles to the Tesla-style NACS port, securing all-important access to the Tesla Supercharger network in the process. As with all the other NACS announcements we've seen since May, when Ford went first and opened the floodgates, native NACS ports will appear on Jaguars in 2025.

Coincidentally, that's when the next new electric Jaguar will appear, too. The British brand was an early entrant to the long-range electric vehicle segment with the I-Pace, a bespoke BEV that wowed road testers in 2018. But despite a big order from Waymo to use I-Paces as robotaxis, the I-Pace's relatively small interior and high purchase price put off potential private customers, making it a relatively rare sight on North American roads outside of the Bay Area.

The I-Pace got a mild midlife refresh at the beginning of this year, but it remains the sole EV in Jaguar's lineup for now. We were supposed to see an electric replacement for the venerable Jaguar XJ sedan, and development of the car was at an advanced stage when it was suddenly canceled in 2021, mere months from its debut.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

Judge “in a pickle” after Google demands DOJ stop sharing public trial exhibits

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 08:45
Ian Madrigal, dressed as the Monopoly Man, outside federal court on the first day of the Justice Department's antitrust trial against Google.

Enlarge / Ian Madrigal, dressed as the Monopoly Man, outside federal court on the first day of the Justice Department's antitrust trial against Google. (credit: Win McNamee / Staff | Getty Images North America)

This morning, Bloomberg published more than a dozen public exhibits that Google argued the public shouldn't have access to from the Department of Justice's 10-week antitrust trial examining Google's search business. The DOJ had hastily removed those exhibits from its website earlier this week after Google complained to the court that the DOJ was sharing trial exhibits online.

“Just so we understand what’s at stake here, every document [the DOJ's lawyers] push into evidence they post on their website, and it gets picked up far and wide,” Google lawyer John Schmidtlein said in an objection raised on Tuesday. The dramatic moment followed sealed testimony from Google’s vice president for finance, Michael Roszak, regarding a document that Google claimed was "embarrassing" and Roszak claimed was “full of hyperbole and exaggeration," Bloomberg reported.

“This isn’t a business record, and it’s totally irrelevant to these proceedings,” Schmidtlein argued.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

EU right to repair updates pass latest hurdle

The Register - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 08:30
Makers won't be able to pull wool over consumers' eyes, though critics say it hasn't gone far enough

Negotiators from the European Parliament and Council this week began the process of updating EU rules to ensure consumers are better informed about the lifespan and repairability of products before they buy them.…

Categories: Tech News

Two Models Died the Same Week a Mile Apart. Police Say There's No Connection.

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 08:28

Maleesa Mooney, 31, and Nichole Coats, 32, lived in luxury apartment buildings in downtown Los Angeles, less than a mile apart. Both women worked part-time as models. And the last time that their respective families heard from them was on September 7. 

Three days later, Coats, who went by Nikki, was found dead in her apartment by her family, who’d become concerned about her lack of response to phone calls or texts. 

On September 12, Mooney was found dead in her apartment by police who were conducting a welfare check after her family became worried. “When a week went by, we just knew something was off,” Mooney’s cousin told KTLA. “Her messages weren’t delivering and we knew something was up because we all have a special relationship with Maleesa.” 

Mooney’s death has been labelled a homicide, while medical examiners are still investigating the manner of Coats’ death. 

The eerie similarities between their cases has fueled speculation and fear of a possible serial killer. But in a statement Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Department said, so far, they were yet to uncover any evidence linking the two women’s deaths. 

“Detectives have been working closely with members of the Los Angeles County, Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, as to the cause of death of both women,” a spokesperson for the LAPDt told VICE News in a statement. “Since both cases remain active investigations, details about either case will not be released;

however, based on the investigations thus far, there is no evidence to suggest that the deaths of Ms. Coats and Ms. Mooney are related to one another.”

Coats’ family told KTLA that the last time they heard from Nikki, she told them that she was going on a date on September 8. Her father, Guy Coats, told ABC News that he accessed her apartment two days later using a fob, and found her unresponsive, “kind of laying there, her arm is stretched out.” Nothing seemed strange in her apartment, he said. 

He initially believed that Nikki “passed in her sleep,” but became suspicious upon learning of Mooney’s murder and decided to alert the media to his daughter’s death. “If there is a predator out there--I said it may not have anything to do with my baby--but whatever it is then we need to at least put this out,” he told ABC News. 

Mooney’s sister, Jourdin Pauline, who is a trap-pop star originally from Guayana, has been using her celebrity status to keep attention on the cases. “I  keep waking up crying thinking I’m in a bad dream we will get justice for you my sister,” she wrote on Instagram. “This hurts so bad”

Categories: Tech News

Are 3D-Printed Guns Really About Free Speech?

Motherboard (Vice) - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 08:23

While people have long had the federal right to build their own firearm in the United States, that’s historically required buying parts from manufacturers and a good deal of assembly. In some states, it’s perfectly legal to build your own untraceable AK-47 with just a few hours of effort, a sandblaster, and some drills. But you’d nevertheless still need to purchase the individual parts and the know-how to put it all together. Or, with a 3D printer and some downloaded code, you can make all the parts at home. 

Be they 3D-printed or not, the number of homemade “ghost guns” in the U.S. has risen 1000 percent since 2017, per the Department of Justice. This increase in DIY gun creation has been hotly debated among both pro-gun advocates—some of whom believe all guns should be registered with the state or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—and anti-gun advocates, some of whom simply want fewer guns in circulation. 

Adding to the controversy of 3D-printed guns are some of the people involved. A lot of the early attention was thanks to Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, an open-source software organization that creates and distributes 3D-printed gun designs. In 2013, the U.S. government banned Defense Distributed from sharing files for their Liberator gun; in 2015, Wilson sued them over it; and in 2018, the case was settled, allowing them to continue operating. Later that year, Wilson pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault against a minor. He’d met a 16-year-old girl off a sugar daddy dating site and paid her for sex (he says she claimed to be of legal age), and was sentenced to seven years probation and required to register as a sex offender during this period. In November 2022, Wilson completed his probation, and his case was dismissed. 

Death Athletic, a new documentary by Jessica Solce, follows the years-long dispute over 3D weapons and Wilson. Solce traces Wilson’s early battles against the Department of State and how the 3D weapons community transformed amid Wilson’s own personal charges. But even so, Solce does not view the film to be strictly about Wilson or even necessarily about the Second Amendment: “I very much find this to be a First Amendment film,” she says.

Below, Solce explains how the film was formed over the last ten years, how the 3D gun debate has since shifted, and her intentions in shaping the narrative. Death Athletic premiers October 21st. 

VICE: How did you become interested in telling this story?
Jessica Solce:
Somehow, I've wrapped myself into 10 years of being within this gun debate. My first film, No Control, was about the efficacy of guns. Cody Wilson was in it, and he was a charismatic figure who was very much in the media at the time. When I finished the film, I thought: His story is going to continue to be interesting, and rather than be frustrated by all these ten-second clips that come out, let's really get a full version of what's happening. 

Did I know that it was going to take eight years? No, and I'm glad I didn't. But in retrospect, I wanted it to be as full a profile as I could get. It started in March 2015, and I last filmed in January 2021. So it took a while. This film, obviously, is about Cody. It's a profile of him, about Defense Distributed, 3D guns, ghost guns—but I think the other strong initial attraction to this film is about cryptoanarchy. It's about information, and how once information is online, it's the most democratic process possible. 

“You have this rich history of techno-politics, and I think it's probably the most efficient type of protest.”

You have this rich history of techno-politics, and I think it's probably the most efficient type of protest. Once something is created and dispersed, there really is no pulling back the reins in a digital age. Technopolitics is like the first personal computer—once people had that, you couldn’t control it. Assange used techno-politics; Satoshi Nakamoto and Bitcoin; Aaron Schwartz was gathering information to give it to people. That is one of the most democratic things anyone can do.

So Cody's story is one of this deep tradition of technopolitics. He created something, he put it online, and the ability to restrain that to silence or surveil is pretty impossible, no matter what's happened, and the film demonstrates that on a multitude of levels. 

It’s been two years since you wrapped filming. What has happened since
The most active debate that I see right now is if the government is going to be able to restrict 80 percents. If you have an entire gun or an entire AR-15, it's made of many parts, but the only thing that the ATF considers an actual gun is the lower—that metal piece that you see often with the trigger group in it, that looks like a rectangle. You can buy a full lower online, in much the same way you buy a normal gun, or you can buy a lower that’s only 80 percent constructed and finish it at home yourself.

[Editor’s Note: Because 80 percent lowers are unfinished, they’re not legally considered a firearm. As such, until 2022, they could be purchased without a background check or serial number. A recent rule from the ATF now requires both of these. Manufacturers are challenging that in the courts, but the Supreme Court temporarily upheld the ATF’s rule until that case is resolved.]

The scare tactics and the announcements from the ATF have been enough to cause complete havoc within all these industries that sell things like 80 percents and rifle kits. That havoc has probably been the most successful gun control they've been able to do in a while because it's really stifled these businesses.

“Being death athletic, to me, is someone who is steadfast in their motivations and stands for their principles, despite the obvious retribution or anger they're going to inspire.”

What is it about 3D weapons that frightens people so much when a person has hypothetically always had the right to make their own gun?
I really think that's just the case of marketing. Of course, there is far more ease in 3D printers, and they will continue improving. When this all started 10 years ago, it produced a palpable fear because it was such a new tech.

New tech is exciting or terrifying—it just depends on where you land. Most anti-gun people do not understand that it is already federally legal. They associate it with criminality, and it’s a juxtaposition that is very hard to shake. It is hyper-emotional. It's built on fear rather than maybe an attempt to understand why people even want to do it. If you dislike the tool or you don't see tools as a democratic process—if you see tools only as an end result of violence—then, yeah, you're going to be scared.

What was your goal in documenting this whole narrative?
At the most basic level, I really just wanted to capture the story as honestly as possible. I thought that it would also be a good medium to truly understand the legality of what was on the table and what was happening. It's incredibly interesting that this story is not really about guns in the end. Cody has never given anyone a gun, right? He doesn’t sell guns, he doesn't disperse guns, he doesn't put guns in the mail. He is literally only dealing with code, with information. 

This bleeds into the First Amendment, which makes it super interesting. Can the government control information? How and to what level, especially when it's dispersed on the internet—and we know when something's on the internet, it never comes off the internet? Part of my interest in following this case was to figure out how the government would support their idea that they could control code.

To this day, the government has still only come after Cody. He made himself such an object of resistance that he became the only person they actually cared about. So I was also interested in how his legal case would resolve: whether he would go to jail and what else he would create. But I also really wanted to get into his motivations and ethics. I wanted to see more. I wanted to peek behind the curtain a little harder.

As a filmmaker, how did you navigate Cody’s non-gun-related legal issues, leading to his being charged as a sex offender?
During the beginning process of that as a filmmaker, I'd never been up against anything of that nature with someone that I had grown very close to over the years. I had to navigate being respectful and feeling a little vulturous because I believed I had an important job to catch what was happening. I also tried to sit down with the DA and find the young woman. I knew I had to tap or knock on all those doors.

One part that was really important in addressing it was that Cody was still pioneering the space. So when his criminal stuff happened, other people had to step in. An entire new movement blossomed out of it. He went down, and other people went up. 

The documentary itself is very sparse and straightforward, with little text or explanation given to the viewer. How do you see your style as a filmmaker?
I want to stay out of the film as much as possible, personally. I think the best compliment I've received so far is from somebody who watched it and said, “I forgot I was watching a documentary.” That's all I need to hear. In every documentary, a camera changes the room. It changes the mood. I ran on a very tight team. Sometimes it was just me. I want to create as authentically as possible, and when I make the next one, I'm going to strive even more to watch and be a voyeur. It's not journalism to me, in a sense. There is lots of research, and there are lots of things that I was doing throughout the entire process, but I want the movie to actually be something you can watch and absorb all the information through the actual character you're following.

What does the title Death Athletic mean?
Death Athletic comes from the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijl. He's talking about “death athletes” as martyrs for religious purposes, but I kind of modernized it. To me, it is the idea of someone who looks death in the eye, and death is no longer tyrannical. It becomes emancipatory. Being death athletic, to me, is someone who is steadfast in their motivations and stands for their principles, despite the obvious retribution or anger they're going to inspire. 

Categories: Tech News

What can we do about ultraprocessed foods?

ARS Technica - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 08:03
fruit cereal in a bowl

Enlarge (credit: Cathy Scola via Getty Images)

From breakfast cereals and protein bars to flavored yogurt and frozen pizzas, ultraprocessed foods are everywhere, filling aisle upon aisle at the supermarket. Fully 58 percent of the calories consumed by adults and 67 percent of those consumed by children in the United States are made up of these highly palatable foodstuffs with their highly manipulated ingredients.

And ultraprocessed foods are not just filling our plates; they’re also taking up more and more space in global conversations about public health and nutrition. In the last decade or so, researchers have ramped up efforts to define ultraprocessed foods and to probe how their consumption correlates to health: A wave of recent studies have linked the foods to heightened risk for conditions ranging from cardiovascular disease and cancer to obesity and depression.

Still, some researchers—and perhaps unsurprisingly, industry representatives—question the strength of the evidence against ultraprocessed foods. The category is too poorly defined and the studies too circumstantial, they say. Plus, labeling such a large portion of our grocery carts as unhealthy ignores the benefits of industrial food processing in making food affordable, safe from foodborne pathogens, easy to prepare and in some cases more sustainable—such as through the development of plant-derived products designed to replace meat and milk.

Read 30 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

Cisco spends $28B on data cruncher Splunk in cybersecurity push

The Register - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 07:55
$157/share cash deal is the largest acquisition in networking titan's history

Cisco is making its most expensive acquisition ever – by far - with an announcement it's buying data crunching software firm Splunk for $157 per share, or approximately $28 billion (£22.8b).…

Categories: Tech News