News & Updates

(credit: Zach Copley)

I used to be a bitcoin bull. As bitcoin’s price soared from $13 to more than $1,000 in 2013, lots of people argued it was an unsustainable bubble. I argued the opposite: that bitcoin’s price still had a lot of room to rise. And obviously, I turned out to be right, as bitcoin is now worth $17,000—17 times the cryptocurrency’s previous peak in late 2013.

Now we’re in the midst of another big bitcoin bull market, and I’m much more worried that the market is getting into unsustainable territory. At the beginning of the year, bitcoins were worth $1,000 apiece, and all bitcoins in circulation were worth around $15 billion—still quite small as global financial assets go. Today, each bitcoin is worth $17,000, and all bitcoins in circulation are worth a much more substantial $280 billion. That seems like a lot for a payment network that only processes about four transactions per second.

Meanwhile, there are growing signs that ordinary, unsophisticated investors may be getting in over their heads. Anecdotal reports suggest that people with no real technical or financial expertise are getting interested in cryptocurrency, and some people are even borrowing money to invest in bitcoin. The market is starting to feel like the final month of the dotcom boom, when people started getting tech stock tips from their taxi drivers.

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

A 19-year-old vulnerability has been re-discovered in the RSA implementation from at least 8 different vendors—including F5, Citrix, and Cisco—that can give man-in-the-middle attackers access to encrypted messages.

Dubbed ROBOT (Return of Bleichenbacher’s Oracle Attack), the attack allows an attacker to perform RSA decryption and cryptographic operations using the private key configured on


Source: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheHackersNews

Enlarge / Venus fly traps sit on display at the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden on July 20, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. (credit: Getty | Adam Berry)

A verdant garden, softly draped with all manner of greenery, is a tranquil setting to most. But to scientists, it can be tranquilized further.

Just like humans, plants can succumb to the effects of general anesthetic drugs, researchers report this week in the Annals of Botany. The finding is striking for a variety of reasons—there’s the pesky fact that plants lack a central nervous system, for one thing. But, perhaps more noteworthy is that scientists still aren’t sure how general anesthetics work on humans—let alone plants. Despite that, doctors have been using the drugs daily for more than a century to knock people out and avert pain during surgeries and other medical procedures. Yet the drugs’ exact effects on our body’s cells and electrical signals remain elusive.

The authors of the new study, led by Italian and German plant biologists, suggest that plants could help us—once and for all—figure out the drugs’ mechanism of action. Moreover, the researchers are hopeful that after that’s sorted out, plants could be a useful tool to study and develop new anesthetic drugs. “As plants in general, and the model plant [Arabidopsis] thaliana in particular, are suitable to experimental manipulation (they do not run away) and allow easy electrical recordings, we propose them as ideal model objects to study anaesthesia and to serve as a suitable test system for human anaesthesia,” they conclude.

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

Enlarge / Just a few more revolutions until that next Powerful Gear. (credit: Bungie / Getty / Aurich)

Destiny 2 isn’t the game its fans want it to be. That isn’t apparent from the game’s design, which seems to check every box a fan of the original would want. But a quick trip around the Internet shows just how much the sequel is failing to live up to many players’ expectations.

Take this 390-comment thread about the state of Destiny 2, for instance. It reads like the pre-apocalyptic screed you’d find scrawled on a wall in any number of other video games. It got to be so bad that Bungie had to interrupt its Curse of Osiris PR plans to address the complaints. And now that Curse of Osiris is out, the fan reaction isn’t exactly getting better.

That’s a shame, because Destiny 2 is a totally solid first-person shooter, taken in the vein of Bungie’s own previous games. In 40 or 50 hours you could get through every story mission, strike, raid, and a decent bit of the competitive multiplayer. That’s a good amount of content, especially compared to many other first-person shooters, and Destiny 2’s best-in-class action is enough to carry those hours forward enjoyably.

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Enlarge (credit: Tesla)

Reuters reported on Tuesday that PepsiCo had recently placed 100 reservations for Tesla Semis. The order is the largest public one to date and may have cost the food and beverage manufacturer as much as $2,000,000. (The Wall Street Journal reported in November that Tesla had bumped the price of reservations from $5,000 each to $20,000 each.) However, PepsiCo did not comment on how much it actually paid Tesla or whether its reservations were to buy the trucks outright or lease them.

PepsiCo told Reuters that it plans to use the trucks to distribute sodas and snack foods to retailers within a 500-mile radius of its manufacturing centers. The company said it is analyzing routes to find the optimal use case—either sending lighter snack loads longer distances or shipping heavy beverages shorter distances.

PepsiCo’s US fleet currently relies on 100,000 conventional semis, but the company has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain by 20 percent by 2030. That distant deadline may play into PepsiCo’s willingness to wait at least two years for Tesla’s electric trucks. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised that the semis will arrive in 2019. But the CEO has a history of being overly ambitious on estimated delivery time. (The company’s budget vehicle, the Tesla Model 3, suffered delays and poor production numbers even after the car was supposed to hit mass production this summer.)

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | olm26250)

With days to go before his repeal of net neutrality rules, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a press release about five small ISPs that he says were harmed by the rules. Pai “held a series of telephone calls with small Internet service providers across the country—from Oklahoma to Ohio, from Montana to Minnesota,” his press release said.

On these calls, “one constant theme I heard was how Title II had slowed investment,” Pai said.

But Pai’s announcement offered no data to support this assertion. So advocacy group Free Press looked at the FCC’s broadband deployment data for these companies and found that four of them had expanded into new territory. The fifth didn’t expand into new areas but it did start offering gigabit Internet service.

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

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If you’ve been following video game news at all this year, you’re probably tired of hearing stories about how the Switch is the hottest selling console since the Sliced Bread 64. With Nintendo announcing this morning that its console has sold 10 million units in under nine months—before its first holiday season is even complete, to boot—we thought we’d skip the wordy analysis and just give you some relevant numbers that put the Switch’s current sales in context. As far as recent consoles go, the Switch’s sales so far put it in some pretty rarified company.

(Note that for most of these comparisons with other consoles, the time period includes an entire holiday season following a mid-November launch).

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Enlarge / Look into the eye of the incredible Gorogoa. (credit: Jason Roberts)

After my last click of the mouse, the screen went to black, with only the word “Gorogoa” flashing. Those seven all-caps letters exploded out of the emptiness I’d just exposed by solving the final puzzle.

I nearly doubled over in my chair, overwhelmed with the emotion I felt trying to make sense of what had transpired. The game gave me some breathing room to do so, with a solemn song playing while credits rolled. After those, a single panel appeared. The game had begun again. Flipped to page one.

I describe this “ending” moment because it answers a critical concern about the puzzle game Gorogoa, which has been in development for an astonishing six years and was made almost entirely by one man, Jason Roberts. Gorogoa is, quite frankly, short. At the end of six years of development, Roberts has produced a little over two hours of gameplay.

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