Archive for March, 2020

Vivarium’s claustrophobic horror hits a little too close to home right now

March 31st, 2020
Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg star in <em>Vivarium</em>.

Enlarge / Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg star in Vivarium. (credit: Vertigo Releasing)

A house-hunting excursion turns into a nightmarish scenario for a young couple in Vivarium, a science fiction horror film directed by Lorcan Finnegan. The film has its strengths, but at a time when half the world is hunkered down in quarantine in the midst of a global pandemic, the claustrophobically surreal premise of two people trapped inside a cookie-cutter house against their will might hit a bit too close to home for comfort.

(Mostly mild spoilers; one major spoiler below the gallery)

Finnegan and screenwriter Garret Shanley made a short film in 2011 called Foxes, about a young couple trapped in an empty housing development. It was inspired, according to Finnegan, by Ireland's "ghost estates:" the remnants of that country's construction boom, brought down by the collapse of the housing market and global financial meltdown of 2008. Buyers found themselves trapped in homes they couldn't unload because their mortgages were underwater. He also found inspiration in a scene from the 1990 Nicolas Roeg film, The Witches (based on the Roald Dahl novel)—namely, a scene where a little girl is trapped inside a painting by a witch, eventually growing old and dying within it.

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Exploiting SMBGhost (CVE-2020-0796) for a Local Privilege Escalation: Writeup + POC

March 31st, 2020
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Moment Springtime Sale: Our Favorite Deals on Lenses and Gear

March 31st, 2020
You can score some great cases, bags, and other mobile gear today, at a discount.

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Defense Evasion Dominated 2019 Attack Tactics

March 31st, 2020
Researchers mapped tactics and techniques to the MITRE ATT&CK framework to determine which were most popular last year.

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Teardown of Huawei flagship phone finds US parts despite blacklisting

March 31st, 2020
Promotional image of smartphone.

Enlarge / The Huawei P40 Pro. (credit: Huawei)

Huawei is still using components made by US companies in its newest flagship smartphone, a Financial Times teardown has found, despite the US all but blacklisting the Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer.

On Thursday, Huawei launched its P40 smartphone—one of the first flagship devices the company has launched since Washington’s introduction of sanctions last May that barred US companies from selling to the Chinese group unless specifically licensed to do so.

In the wake of the sanctions, Huawei, which the Trump administration accuses of spying for Beijing, has had to find ways of replacing its US components. Crucially, Google can no longer supply its Android mobile services platform to the Chinese company.

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Posted in Android, blacklist, Huawei, Policy, Tech | Comments (0)

You Can Still Play *Pokémon Go* Even When You Can’t … Go

March 31st, 2020
Niantic is adjusting its game—built around leaving the house and meeting up with others—to fit the era of coronavirus-induced social distancing.

Posted in culture, Culture / Videogames | Comments (0)

Authors fume as online library “lends” unlimited free books

March 31st, 2020
Sign in front of Middle Country public Library in Centereach, New York, on March 26, 2020.

Enlarge / Sign in front of Middle Country public Library in Centereach, New York, on March 26, 2020. (credit: Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

For almost a decade, the Internet Archive, an online library best known for its Internet Wayback Machine, has let users "borrow" scanned digital copies of books held in its warehouse. Until recently, users could only check out as many copies as the organization had physical copies. But last week, IA announced it was eliminating that restriction, allowing an unlimited number of users to check out a book simultaneously. IA calls this the National Emergency Library.

Initial media coverage of the service was strongly positive. The New Yorker declared it a "gift to readers everywhere." But as word of the new service spread, it triggered a backlash from authors and publishers.

"As a reminder, there is no author bailout, booksellers bailout, or publisher bailout," author Alexander Chee tweeted on Friday. "The Internet Archive's 'emergency' copyrights grab endangers many already in terrible danger."

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Posted in aap, Author's Guild, controlled digital lending, copyright, Internet Archive, Policy | Comments (0)

‘Hope You’re Well’: Emailing Through a Time of Pandemic

March 31st, 2020
“Think twice before you hit Send” has long been solid advice. Now, we need thoughtful emails more than ever.

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Jedi Academy dev promises to fix mistake that let PC gamers slaughter console players

March 31st, 2020
One video game character kills another with a lightsaber.

Enlarge / A single-player screenshot from the Switch version of Jedi Academy. (credit: Nintendo)

Just last week, the LucasArts-era PC cult classic Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy was ported to PlayStation 4 and Switch. Apart from some iffy menus, it's largely a decent port with a good control scheme, high-resolution graphics, decent framerates, and all the content present. It even has multiplayer!

But that last point has become something of a problem, as veteran PC players have found a way to enter console lobbies, and they're crushing the newer Switch and PS4 players.

It's made possible by the fact that the console ports' multiplayer servers appear to work the same way as their PC counterparts have for almost two decades, and the IP address for each server is exposed to the user. PC players can use that IP address in the Windows version of the game and join a Switch match. Forums like ResetEra have console players complaining that PC players are trolling them and that the invaders have an unfair advantage.

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Posted in Aspyr Media, Gaming & Culture, nintendo switch, Playstation 4, ps4, Star Wars, Star Wars Jedi Academy, Star Wars Jedi Knight, Star Wars Jedi Knight Jedi Academy, Switch | Comments (0)

FDA approves the emergency use of chloroquine for COVID-19

March 31st, 2020
Image of a person's hands holding pill packaging.

Enlarge / Medical staff at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute in Marseille shows packets of a Nivaquine (tablets containing chloroquine) and Plaqueril (tablets containing hydroxychloroquine) on February 26, 2020,. (credit: Gerard Julien/Getty Images)

On Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization that will allow patients suffering from COVID-19 to be treated using drugs without clear evidence of the drugs' efficacy. The move comes after President Donald Trump has touted the drugs' potential several times on the basis of tiny, anecdotal trials. There have also been reports of hoarding of the drugs, which are needed by people with some autoimmune disorders.

Potential or hype?

The drugs in question are relatives of chloroquine, specifically chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate. Originally developed as an antimalarial, the drug has a variety of effects, including the ability to reduce immune activity. That has made it useful for the treatment of autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Given its multiple effects, it's not surprising that the drug also has a variety of side effects, the most significant probably being a slowing of the heart's rhythm that can potentially lead to fatal complications. (Technically, the drug extends the QT interval.)

What does any of this have to do with a coronavirus? As we discussed when exploring potential treatments for SARS-CoV-2, chloroquine can also alter the pH of the compartment in which some viruses are brought into the cell. This can interfere with the process of depositing the virus' genome inside the cell and thus block the virus' ability to reproduce. Experiments in cultured cells infected by SARS-CoV-2 indicated that chloroquine treatments can keep the virus from spreading within the culture.

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Posted in chloroquine, COVID-19, drugs, healthcare, medicine, pandemic, Policy, SARS-CoV-2, science | Comments (0)