Category Archives: Tech

How Aardman made a WWI game look like an oil painting

Most video games set in the First or Second World War shoot for gritty realism. In Battlefield 1, for instance, there's an extraordinary amount of detail in every uniform, firearm and mud-filled trench. It's the visual fidelity, paired with addictive…

Network intel provider’s domain served fraudulent content for ~2 weeks

The first of eight pages of results showing fraudulent PDFs available on vps4-atl1.ag0.thousandeyes.com.

Enlarge / The first of eight pages of results showing fraudulent PDFs available on vps4-atl1.ag0.thousandeyes.com. (credit: Dan Goodin)

ThousandEyes, a San Francisco-based network intelligence service, helps customers monitor all kinds of mission-critical things, from border gateway protocol leaks to DNS performance. But over the past week or so, the company has struggled with its own networking blunder that allowed scammers to host hundreds of thousands of fraudulent documents on its very own domain.

As the screenshot above shows, vps4-atl1.ag0.thousandeyes.com was hosting PDFs promoting screenplays, books, and how-to guides. By being hosted on a legitimate website operated by a security company, the content was designed to manipulate Google search results in a way that tricked people into clicking on questionable links. Google searches suggest that the documents were hosted on the subdomain since the beginning of the month, before being removed on Tuesday, as this story was being reported.

To park their content, the scammers took advantage of a lapse in the management of the ThousandEyes.com domain. An entry in the domain’s authoritative name servers pointed to the IP address 74.207.229.178. The IP address belongs to Web host Linode. ThousandEyes used the IP in the past, but at some point it stopped doing so. ThousandEyes admins, however, failed to remove the DNS entry from the name servers. The scammers then noticed the lapse, obtained the same IP address from Linode, and used it to host the scammy documents.

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FDA to limit sales of flavored e-cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration is essentially banning flavored e-cigarette sales at convenience stores and gas stations as part of a crackdown on underage vaping and smoking. The agency is limiting sales in physical stores to those that have age-re…

Discord now offers early access games on its PC store

The most popular chat platform for gamers, Discord, will now be selling early access games, adding to the growing catalog of titles on the Discord Store. Early access was popularized initially by Steam and allows gamers to buy games that are still in…

Google is shutting down its SCHAFT robotics unit

Google parent Alphabet is shutting down its SCHAFT robotics unit after failing to find a buyer. Home to the company's giant bipedal bots designed to act as first responders in emergencies, the secretive division was supposed to go to Softbank as part…

New trailer for Disney’s live-action Dumbo captures magic of original

Tears of a clown: Everyone's favorite misfit baby elephant with the big floppy ears is back.

Enlarge / Tears of a clown: Everyone’s favorite misfit baby elephant with the big floppy ears is back. (credit: Disney)

When Disney first announced a live-action version of its 1941 animated classic, Dumbo, plenty of people were skeptical. The original was well-nigh perfect. Why mess with perfection? Reactions were decidedly more positive when the first teaser dropped earlier this year. Now there’s a new trailer that should dispel any lingering doubts. The live-action Dumbo promises to be just as magically transporting as the original.

In the 1941 film, the newborn Dumbo becomes the butt of jokes because of his enormous ears. When some boys taunt him, his enraged mother loses her temper and attacks them. She is declared mad and locked in a cage, leaving Dumbo alone. Too clumsy to be featured in the circus elephant act, he is made into a clown instead. Dumbo’s only friend in this miserable existence is a mouse named Timothy, who discovers Dumbo can fly and stages an elaborate stunt at a circus performance one night to prove it. Dumbo becomes the star of the circus and is reunited with his mother.

Director Tim Burton’s version appears to follow the same general outline, with a few updates. Here, Dumbo is befriended by two young children, whose father has been hired by the circus to care for the baby elephant. Dumbo’s flying ability draws the attention of an evil entrepreneur (played by Michael Keaton), who buys out the circus, the better to exploit its star attraction. The circus moves to Dreamland, a place somewhat reminiscent of Disneyland. This being a Disney film, it’s safe to assume that Dumbo and his friends triumph over those who would exploit them for profit, and live happily ever after.

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SpaceX seeks to tie its record for most launches in a year on Thursday

A Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 rocket launches the Telstar 19 mission in July.

Enlarge / A Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 rocket launches the Telstar 19 mission in July. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

In 2017, SpaceX finally answered critics of the company who said it had not delivered on the promise of a high flight rate for its low-cost launch program.

Prior to last year, the critics were not wrong—SpaceX had never successfully launched more than eight rockets in any given year. Finally, in 2017, it attempted 18 launches, and all made it safely into space. The SpaceX steamroller had arrived.

This year the company has had a lot on its plate. It flew the large Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time in February. It introduced a brand-new, potentially highly reusable variant of the Falcon 9 rocket in May. And all throughout the year, the company’s engineers have been scrambling to finalize development of the Dragon spacecraft to meet NASA’s needs to get its astronauts to the International Space Station.

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Open mind, wide open throttle: We go to our first NASCAR race

NASCAR logo.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

RICHMOND, Va.—Earlier this year, I took a long-overdue look at NASCAR. That deep dive into the technology busted stereotypes and preconceptions, but it really was only part of the NASCAR puzzle. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I ignored perhaps the most important aspect of the nation’s most popular motorsport. This only really sank in a few weeks ago after I, at long last, went to Richmond Raceway to witness my first NASCAR race. Because the key to understanding NASCAR—at least to this observer—is simple: it’s all about the spectacle.

This Sunday is the title-decider at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. After 267 laps—400.5 miles if you’re reading this in America, 644.5 km if you aren’t—the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (to give it its full name) will have a winner. The championship is now a four-way fight among Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing), Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing), Joey Logano (Team Penske), and Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing). NASCAR has moved to a playoff structure of late to ensure the championship goes down to the wire. So each of the four drivers enters the weekend with an equal shot: whoever finishes highest in the running order will be crowned champion. (What happens in the event of crashes and so on is explored by Alanis King here in much better depth than I could hope to provide.)

Focusing just on the technology was an omission, but it was no error. I purposefully chose my off-season visit to North Carolina at the beginning of this year as my introduction to NASCAR. Ars is about technology, after all; visiting the sport at home, when things are quiet, meant we could focus on the technology without everything else that comes with being at a race weekend. Less danger of cultural tourism, too.

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The AMD Radeon RX 590 Review, feat. XFX & PowerColor: Polaris Returns (Again)

When AMD launched the Polaris-based Radeon RX 480 in June 2016, the focus was firmly on the mainstream market, looking to offer superior value over raw performance. At the same time, AMD also sought to improve power efficiency by leveraging both microarchitectural changes and their first generation of FinFET GPUs. Ultimately, this straightforward approach was somewhat derailed by the recent cryptocurrency mining craze, but Polaris has carried on, appearing in consoles (Xbox One X and PS4 Pro) as well as an early 2017 refresh in the form of the Radeon RX 500 series. Launching today is the latest entry with new top offering in the RX 500 series: the AMD Radeon RX 590.

The AMD Radeon RX 590 Review, feat. XFX & PowerColor: Polaris Returns (Again)

When AMD launched the Polaris-based Radeon RX 480 in June 2016, the focus was firmly on the mainstream market, looking to offer superior value over raw performance. At the same time, AMD also sought to improve power efficiency by leveraging both microarchitectural changes and their first generation of FinFET GPUs. Ultimately, this straightforward approach was somewhat derailed by the recent cryptocurrency mining craze, but Polaris has carried on, appearing in consoles (Xbox One X and PS4 Pro) as well as an early 2017 refresh in the form of the Radeon RX 500 series. Launching today is the latest entry with new top offering in the RX 500 series: the AMD Radeon RX 590.