News & Updates

(credit: Internet Archive)

An angry group of former customers has sued a collapsed Bitcoin mining company, GAW Miners, in a proposed class-action lawsuit. The group alleges that it was duped by the company and its founders.

This is the second civil suit filed against the company within the last six months—it was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission in December 2015 over similar accusations of fraud. The SEC alleged $19 million worth of fraudulent deals. (That SEC case was put on hold for six months, starting in April 2016, according to court records.)

In early 2014, GAW Miners was first introduced to the Bitcoin public by re-selling mining rigs. Later, the company shifted to cloud-based mining (Hashlets), and in early 2015, it introduced its own altcoin, dubbed “Paycoin.” GAW also tried its hand at its own cloud-based wallet service (Paybase) and its own online discussion board (HashTalk).

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It’s no big secret that Google’s Chrome browser is a bit of a battery hog. The native browsers on both Windows and macOS (Edge and Safari) are widely reported to outlast Google’s offering. In its latest campaign, Microsoft is quantifying this difference: in a test that cycles through some common sites including Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Amazon, Microsoft’s latest browser lasted 7 hours and 22 minutes on a Surface Book system. Chrome lasted just 4 hours and 19 minutes.

Between these extremes were Firefox, at 5 hours and 9 minutes, and Opera in battery-saving mode, at 6 hours and 18 minutes.

Microsoft has gone a step beyond just measuring how long each system runs by measuring the power draw of the Wi-Fi, CPU, and GPU during its test workload. A task that drew 2.1W in Edge pulled 2.8W in Chrome, 3.1W in Opera, and 3.2W in Firefox. This lower draw translates to the longer battery life.

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John Wayne in True Grit. (credit: Paramount PIctures)

The concept of “grit” has risen to prominence recently on a wave of publicity for Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. The idea of grit is that success is about more than just natural talent—finding something you’re passionate about and persevering in it is more important than how talented you are to start out with. This can help to explain why people who are highly talented aren’t always successful.

That grit is as important as talent is an inspirational message—in part. One common criticism is that this message leads to a painful amount of self blame in, and prejudice against, people who fail at something. But the concept has snowballed into a simplistic, self-help wrecking ball, and even Duckworth is concerned about how far the idea is being taken.

But is the concept valid to start with? There’s a study due to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and an early version has been made available by lead author Marcus Credé. The authors take a close look at the results of multiple studies on grit, pointing out some important problems with the idea. Apparently it doesn’t make as big a difference in success as the hype claims, and it doesn’t seem to be all that different from a concept we’ve known about for a long time: conscientiousness.

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(credit: KF)

Who wouldn’t want to be smarter? After all, high intelligence can help you get better grades in school, more promotions at work, fatter pay checks through your career, and a cushier life overall. Those are pretty good outcomes by any measure.

For years, scientific studies suggested that smarts were mostly heritable and fixed through young adulthood—nothing one could willfully boost. But some recent studies hint that a segment of smarts, called fluid intelligence—where you use logic and patterns, rather than knowledge, to analyze and solve novel problems—can improve slightly with memory exercises. The alluring finding quickly gave life to a $1 billion brain training industry. This industry, including companies such as Lumosity, Cogmed, and NeuroNation, has since promised everything from higher IQs to the ability to stay sharp through aging. The industry even boasts that it can help users overcome mental impairments from health conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), traumatic brain injury, and the side effects of chemotherapy.

Those claims are clearly overblown and have been roundly criticized by scientists, the media, and federal regulators. Earlier this year, Lumosity agreed to pay $2 million to the Federal Trade Commission over claims of deceptive advertising. The FTC said Lumosity “preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline.” In the settlement, the FTC forbid the company from making any such claims that the training could sharpen consumers’ minds in life-altering ways.

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Integrated into the front grille of the Cadillac CT6 is a surveillance camera that the driver can secretly activate. There’s one on the rear trunk lid, too. If the alarm system is triggered, these two cameras activate, and two others on the door-mounted rearview mirrors do as well. Footage is stored on a removable SD card in the trunk. (credit: Cadillac)

When Ars first saw the new Cadillac CT6 at the New York International Auto Show last year, we remarked that it “may well be the company’s most convincing home-grown rival to the mighty German super-sedans like Audi’s A8, BMW’s 7-Series, and Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class.” But one feature we missed was that the $53,000-plus machine doubles as surround-view, gas-powered camcorder on wheels.

Sure, vehicles like police cars have dash cams, and there was even a valet cam in the 2015 Corvette. But the Cadillac CT6 has four cameras secretly offering surround-view video-recording outside the vehicle. It’s an industry first and a new source for capturing YouTube moments, scenic drives, or even other affairs like police stops.

“Cadillac expects the surround-vision video recording system to be used by CT6 owners to record events such as a memorable drive, for security in the case of a vehicle being tampered with, or to record an incident,” General Motors said of the feature.

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Blue Origin’s propulsion module lands in West Texas on Sunday morning. (credit: Blue Origin)

In a first, the secretive Blue Origin rocket company invited the world to watch its Sunday launch, live. Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle accelerated to 2,142mph, ascended into space, and returned to Earth 10 minutes later. Not that all that much of the world watched. It was Father’s Day, after all, and Blue Origin doesn’t have quite the cachet of SpaceX to draw in the masses. Moreover it’s easy enough to dismiss the achievements of Blue Origin—it’s just a small rocket, after all, and this only an unmanned suborbital flight.

Nevertheless, Sunday’s launch affirmed a singular, increasingly inescapable fact about the future of spaceflight: reusable rockets represent the future of the aerospace industry. SpaceX has proven that it can safely return large orbital rockets to Earth, both on land and at sea. With Sunday’s flight, Blue Origin has now definitively taken the next step, turning a rocket around and flying it again. Four times.

This fact won’t be easy to accept for Big Aerospace, which has built its business model around expendable launch vehicles and large government contracts. Moreover, this article is not intended to denigrate NASA, which continues to do some amazing, absolutely groundbreaking things. But our space agency does not appear to be the outfit that is going to radically rewrite the rules of launch, colonize space, and spread human settlements onto the Moon, perhaps asteroids, and eventually Mars.

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Since its off-handed announcement more than a year ago, Nintendo has released precious few details about its upcoming NX console, currently set for a March release. That has left the press to speculate wildly about “the new hardware system with a brand-new concept.”

So it qualifies as news when GameStop CEO Paul Raines confirms publicly that, yes, NX will sell games on physical media, just like pretty much every other home console ever made.

Raines’ statement in a recent earnings conference call comes about a year after patent-filing-based rumors suggested the NX might eschew retail games entirely in favor of a download-based business model. Don’t believe everything you read, Raines said.

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Season 2 trailer for Mr. Robot.

“You can’t turn on the TV or read the newspaper without hearing about a corporate hack,” actor Rami Malek tells the camera; maybe he is an Ars reader after all. The Mr. Robot star appears almost immediately in Mr. Robot Decoded, a one-off documentary airing tonight on USA (11:05pm ET). But unlike the series at large, Malek isn’t the star here. Writers and technical experts from the show’s staff take center stage with TV critics and real-life security professionals. Their goal isn’t to overthrow virtual financial prisons à la the show’s “fsociety” hacker collective; they just want everyone to know more about Mr. Robot‘s subject matter and to realize how exceptional the show is at depicting and predicting real-world drama.

Decoded does well to include a handful of notable names: Jeff Moss (DefCon founder), Lance James (chief scientist at Flashpoint), and Peiter “Mudge” Zatko (leader of the L0pht hacker collective who later joined DARPA) all chime in on various topics. A lot of the extremely technical nerding out may have been left for the cutting room floor, however. These experts instead lay out many of the basics for the world depicted in the show: What is hacking? What’s a DDoS? How come password cracking seems so easy? The special spends equal time relaying network news-level detail on major events like Apple v. FBI, the Ashley Madison hack, and the Sony data dumps. (It’s a lot of old-hat stuff for Ars readers.)

In this sense, Decoded works best as a recruiting tool to get non-tech-savvy friends up to speed enough to appreciate the relevance and tech mindfulness of Mr. Robot as opposed to something like CSI CyberThe documentary seemingly acknowledges this target audience, too. It starts with a brief (and major, spoiler-free) plot recap of season one to introduce major characters and explain the worldview of Elliot Alderson. Series stars like Portia Doubleday (Angela), Christian Slater (Mr. Robot), and Malek appear interspersed between the technical discussions to praise the storytelling and explain how much they learn through osmosis on set. Series creator Sam Esmail even chuckles in victory after Malek and Carly Chaikin (Darlene) proudly declare they now tape their webcams.

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Moving the plane was a manual affair, and it was rolled sideways rather than forward. (credit: John Timmer)

Early Monday morning, Solar Impulse 2 left John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on its attempt to cross the Atlantic as part of its ’round-the-world flight. The solar-powered craft is expected to take four days to make its way to Seville, Spain. This leg features Bertrand Piccard at the controls after fellow pilot André Borschberg brought the craft into New York.

As of noon Eastern Standard Time, the craft was eight percent of the way through its journey, which will take it northeast along the US and Canadian coasts to Newfoundland, after which it will turn southeast to head more directly to Spain. After starting the flight on battery power, the craft has largely recharged its batteries as it continues to climb above a kilometer in altitude.

Progress of the flight can be monitored at the Solar Impulse website.

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