Archive for January, 2019

Getting Smarter About Threat Intelligence (InfoRiskToday)

January 16th, 2019

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Unity clarifies ToS changes, welcomes back “unsupported” SpatialOS

January 16th, 2019
Unity clarifies ToS changes, welcomes back “unsupported” SpatialOS

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Days after a nasty public split with cloud gaming developer Improbable, Unity has reinstated the company's license and updated its own terms of service to offer what it is calling a "commitment to being an open platform."

"When you make a game with Unity, you own the content and you should have the right to put it wherever you want," Unity wrote in a blog post explaining the move. "Our TOS didn’t reflect this principle—something that is not in line with who we are."

The new terms of service allow Unity developers to integrate any third-party service into their projects, no questions asked. As a caveat, though, Unity will now distinguish between "supported" third-party services—those Unity ensures will "always [run] well on the latest version of our software"—and "unsupported" third-party services, which developers use at their own risk.

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Oklahoma Data Leak Compromises Years of FBI Data

January 16th, 2019
The Oklahoma Securities Commission accidentally leaked 3 TB of information, including data on years of FBI investigations.

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Antibiotics Are Failing Us. Crispr Is Our Glimmer of Hope

January 16th, 2019
Antibiotics are still massively overprescribed, a new study shows. With no new drugs in sight, some scientists are turning to Crispr for a reboot.

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Netflix reveals Space Force comedy series before Trump gets real thing approved

January 16th, 2019

Netflix took the wraps off its latest comedy series on Wednesday, and while that may sound humdrum for a company with roughly 7,000 series in the works, this one has set its sights on something huge: the outer reaches of space. Er, sorry, we misread that. The Space Force.

Indeed, before President Trump's proposal for a sixth military branch can become an official item in the United States' 2020 budget, Netflix has jumped on the idea of making a show about this branch's day-to-day ops—and it has three major vets of TV's The Office on board, including Steve Carell as both a co-creator and a star.

The resulting TV series, currently named Space Force, was unveiled in the form of a teaser trailer on Wednesday morning. This mostly text trailer, set to Strauss' "Zarathustra," brings viewers up to speed about how the branch began life in a June 2018 speech. "The goal of the new branch is 'to defend satellites from attack' and 'perform other space-related tasks'... or something," it reads. "This is the story of the men and women who have to figure it out."

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Stop and Shop grocery chain to begin offering “store on wheels” service

January 16th, 2019
Stop and Shop grocery chain to begin offering “store on wheels” service

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Stop and Shop, a major grocery chain in the Northeast, will begin offering a driverless grocery service in the Boston area, the company announced Wednesday.

Stop and Shop isn't the first store to make an announcement like this—Kroger and Walmart are both working on driverless grocery services of their own. But those are delivery services. The Stop and Shop service, by contrast, puts an entire miniature grocery store on wheels. It's a partnership with Robomart, a startup we first covered last June.

Conventional delivery startups like Nuro and Udelv envision a future where the customer chooses a few items of produce and those specific items are sent out in a driverless vehicle. Robomart's plan, on the other hand, is to send the entire produce aisle to the customer's driveway. Once it arrives, the customer gets to inspect the merchandise and choose which items to buy. Robomart says it will use a mix of cameras and RFID tags to determine which products a customer took and automatically charge for them.

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Tesla accuses engineer of plotting secret project, she denies it and sues

January 16th, 2019
Tesla's Fremont factory in July 2018.

Enlarge / Tesla's Fremont factory in July 2018. (credit: Mason Trinca for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

An ex-Tesla engineer has sued her former employer, accusing the company of defamation.

The lawsuit (and pages of exhibits) were filed Wednesday by Cristina Balan in federal court in Seattle. Balan says she was forced out of Tesla in 2014 and has been tangling with the company for years, both in arbitration and in the press.

According to Balan’s lawsuit, the alleged defamatory statements include that she spent company money without approval, booked an unapproved trip to New York, produced a secret project for windshields for her own benefit, and conducted illegal audio recordings of coworkers.

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We’ll send postcards—pinball museums, CERN, and more favorite Ars trips of all time

January 16th, 2019

By default, life at Ars involves a lot of day-to-day work from a home office. But putting together two-decades-and-counting of high-quality journalism has opened opportunities over the years that may not have existed in 1999. Looking back through the archives recently in light of our 20th anniversary, we couldn't help but notice all the unbelievable places we've been and seen previously. Maybe things started with looking at Mac OS X DP2 from the confines of the Siracusa house, but work here has pretty quickly evolved to require occasional dinosaur riding and NASA booties wearing, too.

Ars will never say no to an on-the-nose museum exhibit (thank you again, Smithsonian's Art of the Video Game), but some of our most memorable tours have leveraged journalism privilege into some amazing behind-the-scenes experiences to share with readers. We've seen particle accelerators across continents and followed the forum's lead into hallowed ground like Mission Control (editor's note: we really need to do the same with the National Air Force Museum, too). Our former Navy man got to visit his old ship and see the quarters on a newly restored WWII PT-boat. Ars has seen old space and new space up close, and we even spent quality time with George, the early supercomputer.

Luckily, the future looks like it will have more of the same—if recent trips to the set of The Orville or to the Boring Company's LA tunnel are any indication, at least. We'll try to be better about postcards (and certainly remain open to invitations), but for now it's time to reminiscence and look back at snapshots from some of Ars' greatest trips.

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Posted in Ars at 20, Ars gallery, Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)

Trump Must Be a Russian Agent; the Alternative Is Too Awful

January 16th, 2019
We know a lot about the “what” of the Mueller probe’s findings. The crucial questions now focus on the “why.”

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Google Play starts manually whitelisting SMS and phone apps

January 16th, 2019
Google Play starts manually whitelisting SMS and phone apps

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Google is implementing major new Play Store rules for how Android's "SMS" and "Call Log" permissions are used. New Play Store rules will only allow certain types of apps to request phone call logs and SMS permissions, and any apps that don't fit into Google's predetermined use cases will be removed from the Play Store. The policy was first announced in October, and the policy kicks in and the ban hammer starts falling on non-compliant apps this week.

In that October blog post, Google laid out its vision for SMS and phone permissions for Google Play apps, saying, "Only an app that has been selected as a user's default app for making calls or text messages will be able to access call logs and SMS, respectively." That statement also comes with a host of exceptions, some of which were added after communicating with members of the developer community, but the end result is still that SMS and phone permissions will be heavily policed on the Play Store.

Google says the decision to police these permissions was made to protect user privacy. SMS and phone permissions can give an app access to a user's contacts and everyone they've ever called, in addition to allowing the app to contact premium phone numbers that can charge money directly to the user's cellular bill. Despite the power of these permissions, a surprising number of apps ask for SMS or phone access because they have other, more benign use cases. So to clean up the Play Store, Google's current plan seems to be to (1) build more limited, replacement APIs for these benign use cases that don't offer access to so much user data and (2) kick everyone off the Play Store who is still using the wide-ranging SMS and phone permissions for these more limited use cases.

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