News & Updates

Dealmaster: Take 24% off the latest 9.7-inch Apple iPad

Enlarge (credit: TechBargains)

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today’s list is headlined by a deal on the 32GB model of Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad, which is down to $249 at Walmart and Amazon. That’s $80 off its usual price.

This has been the iPad’s sale price for much of the holiday season, but if you’re in need of a new tablet and haven’t taken advantage yet, it’s still a strong deal. While the 9.7-inch model isn’t the most capable device for professional work, it is far and away the best slate on the market for the things most people do with tablets—namely, watching videos, reading articles, and playing games.

It may not have the souped-up processor or ultra-vibrant display of Apple’s iPad Pro devices, but it is still built well and plenty smooth for far less money. Android’s sloppiness on large screens almost makes Apple king of this territory by default. There’s no pressing need to upgrade if your tablet still serves you well, but if you need something new and don’t want to settle for the flimsier designs of cheaper devices, the 9.7-inch model remains a good value. Note that the 128GB model is on sale, too, if you need more storage.

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

Genetic information as self-fulfilling prophecy

Enlarge (credit: 23AndMe on Flickr)

If the TV ads are at all effective, plenty of people will be getting the gift of their genetic tests this Christmas. These tests frequently allow people to explore their inherited tendencies toward health problems and, in some cases, may suggest lifestyle changes to ward off future problems—although studies have indicated that few people do.

However, DNA test results can also cause issues that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Genetic information can exert a potent placebo effect—or the opposite, the nocebo effect, wherein if you think that something can harm you, it in fact does. And the potency of this effect has not been studied until now.

Experimental ethics

Some psychologists at Stanford wondered if the perception of genetic risk could actually increase people’s risk, independent of their actual genetic risk. In other words, could simply learning that you have a genetic propensity for something elicit physiological changes akin to really having that propensity, regardless of whether you have it? The team designed experiments to find out.

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

Good news for the victims of the dreaded HiddenTear Ransomware, the popular cybersecurity expert Michael Gillespie has devised a tool dubbed HT Brute Forcer that could allow decrypting files for free.

In 2015, the Turkish security researchers Utku Sen published the HiddenTear ransomware, the first open source ransomware, for educational purposes.

The original code was decryptable, for this reason, many other variants based on it were decryptable too. 
HT Brute Forcer currently supports several HiddenTear variants, including:

8lock8, AnonCrack, Assembly, Balbaz, BankAccountSummary, Bansomqare Wanna, Blank, BloodJaws, Boris, CerberTear, CryptConsole2, CryptoKill, CyberResearcher, Data_Locker, Dev-Nightmare 2xx9, Diamond, Domino, Donut, dotRansom, Executioner, Executioner2, Executioner3, Explerer, FlatChestWare, Frog, Fuck_You, Gendarmerie, Horros, JobCrypter, Jodis, J-Ransomware, J-Want-To-Cry, Karmen, Kraken 2.0, Kratos, LanRan, Lime, Lime-HT, Luv, Matroska, MireWare, MoonCrypter, MTC, Nobug, Nulltica, onion3cry, OpsVenezuela, Paul, PayOrDie, Pedo, PGPSnippet, Poolezoor, Pransomware, Predator, Qwerty, Random6, Random6 2, Randion, RansomMine, Rootabx, Saramat, Shrug, ShutUpAndDance, Sorry, Symbiom, TearDr0p, Technicy, The Brotherhood, TheZone, tlar, TotalWipeOut, TQV, Ton, VideoBelle, WhiteRose, WhiteRose2, Zalupaid, ZenCrypt, Zenis, ZeroRansom, Zorro

Victims of the HiddenTear Ransomware could follow the step by step procedure, published by Bleeping Computer, to decrypt their files for free.

  • Click on the Browse Sample button and choose an encrypted PNG file. Experts suggest choosing the smaller one.
  • Click on the Start Bruteforce button to start brute forcing the decryption key. The process can take some time.
  • When the tool has found the encryption key, the decryptor will automatically decrypt the test file and ask the users to determine if it was correctly decrypted.
  • If the file was decrypted properly, users should save the discovered key and use it with the HiddenTear decryptor.
  • Download the standalone HiddenTear decryptor.
  • Double-click on the hidden-tear-decrypter.exe file to start the tool, enter the key that was discovered by the brute forcer and click on the Decrypt My Files button.
  • Once the decryption process has finished, it will display a screen stating how many files were decrypted.

window._mNHandle = window._mNHandle || {};
window._mNHandle.queue = window._mNHandle.queue || [];
medianet_versionId = “3121199”;

try {
window._mNHandle.queue.push(function () {
window._mNDetails.loadTag(“762221962”, “300×250”, “762221962”);
});
}
catch (error) {}

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs –HT Brute Forcer, ransomware)

The post Decrypting HiddenTear Ransomware for free with HT Brute Forcer appeared first on Security Affairs.

Source: Security affairs

Archaeologists reconstruct pre-Columbian temple with 3D-printed blocks

Enlarge (credit: Brattarb via Wikimedia Commons)

The unfinished temple in a southern valley of the Lake Titicaca Basin in modern-day Bolivia has been a mystery for at least 500 years. Now known as the Pumapunku—”Door of the Jaguar” in the Quechua language—the complex stone structure is part of a sprawling complex of pyramids, plazas, and platforms built by a pre-Columbian culture we now call the Tiwanaku. Construction began around 500 CE and proceeded off and on, in phases, over the next few centuries until the Tiwanaku left the site around 900 or 1000 CE.

When the Inca Empire rose around 1200 CE, they claimed the sprawling ceremonial complex as the site of the world’s creation, although they didn’t finish the Tiwanaku’s temple.

Old school and high tech

Spanish visitors in the 1500s and 1600s describe “a wondrous, though unfinished, building” with walls of H-shaped andesite pieces and massive gateways and windows carved from single blocks. These were set on remarkably smooth sandstone slabs, some of which weighed more than 80 tons. But after centuries of looting, the stones of the Pumapunku are so scattered that not one lies in its original place. The Tiwanaku left behind no written documents or plans to help modern researchers understand what their buildings looked like or what purpose they served.

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

Sony inadvertently leaks player counts for PS4 titles

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Here at Ars, we have a longstanding obsession with revealing the hidden numbers in the secretive world of video game sales and gameplay data. So we were intrigued this weekend when we heard that Sony seems to have inadvertently revealed the total number of players for a large majority of the PS4’s library.

The leak centers on Sony’s recent My PS4 Life promotion, which lets users generate a personalized statistics video for their PSN Gamertag. Amid some aggregate statistics and “total hours played” numbers for your favorite games, the video also lists your “rarest” trophy and, crucially, the precise number of PSN users who have earned that trophy.

Sony has long made public the percentage of a game’s players that have earned any specific trophy on PSN (rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent). Combining that percentage with the “My PS4 Life” numbers, that makes it relatively simple to reverse-engineer an overall “players” estimate for that game.

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A CenturyLink worker's van.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | RiverNorthPhotography)

CenturyLink briefly disabled the Internet connections of customers in Utah last week and allowed them back online only after they acknowledged an offer to purchase filtering software.

CenturyLink falsely claimed that it was required to do so by a Utah state law that says ISPs must notify customers “of the ability to block material harmful to minors.” In fact, the new law requires only that ISPs notify customers of their filtering software options “in a conspicuous manner”; it does not say that the ISPs must disable Internet access until consumers acknowledge the notification. The law even says that ISPs may make the notification “with a consumer’s bill,” which shouldn’t disable anyone’s Internet access.

Coincidentally, CenturyLink’s blocking of customer Internet access occurred days before the one-year anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission repeal of net neutrality rules, which prohibited blocking and throttling of Internet access.

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

Google's current New York Headquarters is in the former Port Authority of New York building. It occupies an entire long city block between 8th and 9th Avenues and between 15th and 16th Streets.

Enlarge / Google’s current New York Headquarters is in the former Port Authority of New York building. It occupies an entire long city block between 8th and 9th Avenues and between 15th and 16th Streets. (credit: Jefferson Siegel/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Google’s New York office is already its largest outside the San Francisco Bay Area, but on Monday the company announced plans to double the size of its New York workforce to more than 14,000. The company is building a new campus in the Hudson Square neighborhood, about a mile south of its current New York headquarters in the Chelsea neighborhood.

It’s been a big couple of months for technology companies expanding beyond the West Coast. Last month, Amazon announced it would add a total of 50,000 jobs in two new campuses—one in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood, and the other in Crystal City in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. Last week, Apple announced it would expand its 6,000-person Austin campus by another 5,000 workers, with the potential to add an additional 10,000 people later on.

Now it’s Google’s turn. The search giant is planning to add at least 7,000 more New York City jobs over the next decade, and a Google spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that this was “a conservative estimate.”

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

A Delta IV Heavy rocket last launched in August, 2018, with the Parker Solar Probe.

Enlarge / A Delta IV Heavy rocket last launched in August, 2018, with the Parker Solar Probe. (credit: United Launch Alliance)

So far this year there have been 106 orbital launches around the world, the most in a calendar year since 1990. That works out to roughly one launch every three days. Now, as we approach the end of this year, the launch industry has a treat for us—potentially three launches in a single day on Tuesday.

For rocket fanatics, this should make for a fun day, especially with some bigger rockets on the launch pad. Here’s a rundown on what to expect and the significance of each launch.

Falcon 9: Cape Canaveral, Florida

SpaceX’s final launch of the year, its 21st overall, will be an important one for the company. It is scheduled for 9:11am ET (14:11 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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Apple to bring Charlie Brown and the Peanuts to its streaming service

Enlarge (credit: DHX Media, Peanuts)

Apple snagged a whole group of stars in its latest get for its upcoming streaming service. According to a report by Variety, Apple signed a deal with Canadian broadcaster DHX Media to produce new content featuring the Peanuts gang, Charles M. Schulz’s band of friends including Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the lovable beagle Snoopy.

Under the deal, DHX and its subsidiary, Peanuts Worldwide, will produce “original series, specials, and shorts” based on the characters from Schultz’s iconic comic strip. Some of that content will be STEM related and feature astronaut Snoopy, a product of a partnership between Peanuts Worldwide and NASA. The two companies recently came together through a Space Act Agreement to inspire a passion for space and STEM-related fields in kids.

In 2017, DHX Media acquired a majority stake in Peanuts Worldwide through a $345 million deal, which also included total control over Strawberry Shortcake. The Schultz family owns the remaining stake in Peanuts Worldwide.

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

A public notice of a previous Met Police facial recognition test.

Enlarge / A public notice of a previous Met Police facial recognition test. (credit: Metropolitan Police)

London’s Metropolitan Police Service will be testing facial recognition technology in a handful of locations across the central core of the British capital on both Monday and Tuesday for eight hours each day.

This trial marks the seventh such trial in London since 2016. In addition to the December 17-18 tests, authorities have said there will be three more tests that have yet to be scheduled.

According to the police, these trials, which “will be used overtly with a clear uniformed presence and information leaflets will be disseminated to the public,” are set to take place specifically in the vicinity of Soho, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square.

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