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Planet PostgreSQLKaarel Moppel: Updates for the pgwatch2 Postgres monitoring tool

It’s been quite some months since I last wrote about our Open Source PostgreSQL monitoring tool called pgwatch2, but now there’s again a reason for it – it got again a lot better! Changes include multiple new feature updates per requests from users and also some bugfixes. So a quick overview of new stuff here. […]

The post Updates for the pgwatch2 Postgres monitoring tool appeared first on Cybertec - The PostgreSQL Database Company.

Hacker NewsDrip (YC S15) Is a Hiring a Finance and Business Dev Lead
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Hacker NewsServer: Racket
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Hacker NewsApple does right by users and advertisers are displeased
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Hacker NewsYou Might Be Evil
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Le Clavier CannibaleQuand les rats de la traduction rongent les racines du sens
Alors que je traduis Jesse Hero, un roman âcre et cruel de Lawrence Millman (à paraître chez Sonatine), je tombe sur le verbe « tree ». Pas le substantif « tree », qui veut dire « arbre », mais le verbe « tree », « to tree », que je ne connaissais pas. C’est un verbe qui signifie : « forcer à se réfugier dans un arbre ». Dans le roman que je traduis, il y a un énorme rat qui vit dans une décharge et qui un jour attaque Jesse, l’anti-héros du roman, un gamin dérangé qui ne pense qu’à faire le mal (sans penser à mal…). "The rat treed him." Un peu comme Jesse, je n’ai d’autre choix que de me réfugier dans l’arbre de la traduction. De quitter en vitesse le sol du monosyllabisme pour grimper branche à branche dans la syntaxe dépliée. Impossible de créer le verbe « arbrer ». Ça ne marcherait pas. Le rat l’avait arbré. Hum. Le rat l’arbra. Pouah. Personne ne me suivrait sur ce coup-là, l’échappée serait tout sauf belle. Quant à créer le verbe « arbriter », n’y pensons même pas, pas ici.


Bien sûr, il existe toujours des stratégies de contournement. Maniant l’ellipse, je pourrais tenter quelque chose du genre : « Le rat l’attaqua, et Jesse dut monter dans un arbre. » Ou : « Attaqué, il se réfugia dans un arbre. » Profitant du style saccadé, cru, du livre, qui épouse plus ou moins les convolutions de la pensée primitive de l’enfant, je pourrais aller jusqu’à oser un « Le rat. Vite, un arbre. », mais on n’est pas là non plus pour réinventer le télégraphe.


Non, il faut parfois se faire une raison. Un petit mot de quatre lettres, tel un origami, n’a d’autre solution que se déplier dans l’eau de la traduction. Est-ce un constat d’échec ? Bien sûr, même si le lecteur ne saura pas que ce « forcer à se réfugier dans un arbre », tel l’arbre de l’expression, cache précisément le « tree » originel. L’échec paraît d’autant plus patent que le sens non seulement est préservé mais d’une netteté impeccable. Le traducteur est déçu d’avoir à sa disposition, au niveau sémantique, la solution parfaite, mais sans la concision qu’offrait « tree ». Toutefois, sa déception est un effet d’optique. Il sait qu’en règle général l’anglais est friand de monosyllabes. « Rats don’t eat boys, they eat shit. Why don’t you just go on home and eat a nice supper of shit? The rat held his ground”, écrit un peu plus loin l’auteur, comme si à chaque mot correspondant une touche du clavier. Tap. Tap. Tap.



Qu’un verbe puisse à lui seul résumer un mouvement décomposé et précis ne doit néanmoins pas nous abattre – nous ne sommes pas des arbres. En revanche, le traducteur pourra y sentir le rappel d’une langue qui ne cherche pas à se délier, qui procède par saccades, à-coups, d’une narration avançant pas à pas pour mieux souligner certains trébuchements. Une cadence s’impose, comme si on tapait doucement avec les doigts sur le bois de la table qu’on va bientôt jeter à l’autre bout de la pièce. On va donc être obligé de se réfugier dans l’arbre. Mais dès qu’on en descendra, promis, on traquera le mot-coup, on veillera à réduire les distances, à changer les ombres en rats.

Hacker NewsWhat every programmer should know about memory, Part 1 (2007)
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Hacker NewsGoLorry (YC W16) is hiring engineering and operations roles in India
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Les CrisesLes tours jumelles du World Trade Center (9/10) – Les Rapports d’enquêtes scientifiques

Plan de la série “Les Tours Jumelles du World Trade Center” :

Krebs on SecurityEquifax Breach: Setting the Record Straight

Bloomberg published a story this week citing three unnamed sources who told the publication that Equifax experienced a breach earlier this year which predated the intrusion that the big-three credit bureau announced on Sept. 7. To be clear, this earlier breach at Equifax is not a new finding and has been a matter of public record for months. Furthermore, it was first reported on this Web site in May 2017.

equihaxIn my initial Sept. 7 story about the Equifax breach affecting more than 140 million Americans, I noted that this was hardly the first time Equifax or another major credit bureau has experienced a breach impacting a significant number of Americans.

On May 17, KrebsOnSecurity reported that fraudsters exploited lax security at Equifax’s TALX payroll division, which provides online payroll, HR and tax services.

That story was about how Equifax’s TALX division let customers who use the firm’s payroll management services authenticate to the service with little more than a 4-digit personal identification number (PIN).

Identity thieves who specialize in perpetrating tax refund fraud figured out that they could reset the PINs of payroll managers at various companies just by answering some multiple-guess questions — known as “knowledge-based authentication” or KBA questions — such as previous addresses and dates that past home or car loans were granted.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, Bloomberg ran a piece with reporting from no fewer than five journalists there who relied on information provided by three anonymous sources. Those sources reportedly spoke in broad terms about an earlier breach at Equifax, and told the publication that these two incidents were thought to have been perpetrated by the same group of hackers.

The Bloomberg story did not name TALX. Only post-publication did Bloomberg reporters update the piece to include a statement from Equifax saying the breach was unrelated to the hack announced on Sept. 7, and that it had to do with a security incident involving a payroll-related service during the 2016 tax year.

I have thus far seen zero evidence that these two incidents are related. Equifax has said the unauthorized access to customers’ employee tax records (we’ll call this “the March breach” from here on) happened between April 17, 2016 and March 29, 2017.

The criminals responsible for unauthorized activity in the March breach were participating in an insidious but common form of cybercrime known as tax refund fraud, which involves filing phony tax refund requests with the IRS and state tax authorities using the personal information from identity theft victims.

My original report on the March breach was based on public breach disclosures that Equifax was required by law to file with several state attorneys general.

Because the TALX incident exposed the tax and payroll records of its customers’ employees, the victim customers were in turn required to notify their employees as well. That story referenced public breach disclosures from five companies that used TALX, including defense contractor giant Northrop Grumman; staffing firm Allegis GroupSaint-Gobain Corp.; Erickson Living; and the University of Louisville.

When asked Tuesday about previous media coverage of the March breach, Equifax pointed National Public Radio (NPR) to coverage in KrebsonSecurity.

One more thing before I move on to the analysis. For more information on why KBA is a woefully ineffective method of stopping fraudsters, see this story from 2013 about how some of the biggest vendors of these KBA questions were all hacked by criminals running an identity theft service online.

Or, check out these stories about how tax refund fraudsters used weak KBA questions to steal personal data on hundreds of thousands of taxpayers directly from the Internal Revenue Service‘s own Web site. It’s probably worth mentioning that Equifax provided those KBA questions as well.

ANALYSIS

Over the past two weeks, KrebsOnSecurity has received an unusually large number of inquiries from reporters at major publications who were seeking background interviews so that they could get up to speed on Equifax’s spotty security history (sadly, Bloomberg was not among them).

These informational interviews — in which I agree to provide context and am asked to speak mainly on background — are not unusual; I sometimes field two or three of these requests a month, and very often more when time permits. And for the most part I am always happy to help fellow journalists make sure they get the facts straight before publishing them.

But I do find it slightly disturbing that there appear to be so many reporters on the tech and security beats who apparently lack basic knowledge about what these companies do and their roles in perpetuating — not fighting — identity theft.

It seems to me that some of the world’s most influential publications have for too long given Equifax and the rest of the credit reporting industry a free pass — perhaps because of the complexities involved in succinctly explaining the issues to consumers. Indeed, I would argue the mainstream media has largely failed to hold these companies’ feet to the fire over a pattern of lax security and a complete disregard for securing the very sensitive consumer data that drives their core businesses.

To be sure, Equifax has dug themselves into a giant public relations hole, and they just keep right on digging. On Sept. 8, I published a story equating Equifax’s breach response to a dumpster fire, noting that it could hardly have been more haphazard and ill-conceived.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Since then, Equifax’s response to this incident has been even more astonishingly poor.

EQUIPHISH

On Tuesday, the official Equifax account on Twitter replied to a tweet requesting the Web address of the site that the company set up to give away its free one-year of credit monitoring service. That site is https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, but the company’s Twitter account told users to instead visit securityequifax2017[dot]com, which is currently blocked by multiple browsers as a phishing site.

equiphish

FREEZING UP

Under intense public pressure from federal lawmakers and regulators, Equifax said that for 30 days it would waive the fee it charges for placing a security freeze on one’s credit file (for more on what a security freeze entails and why you and your family should be freezing their files, please see The Equifax Breach: What You Should Know).

Unfortunately, the free freeze offer from Equifax doesn’t mean much if consumers can’t actually request one via the company’s freeze page; I have lost count of how many comments have been left here by readers over the past week complaining of being unable to load the site, let alone successfully obtain a freeze. Instead, consumers have been told to submit the requests and freeze fees in writing and to include copies of identity documents to validate the requests.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) recently introduced a measure that would force the bureaus to eliminate the freeze fees and to streamline the entire process. To my mind, that bill could not get passed soon enough.

Understand that each credit bureau has a legal right to charge up to $20 in some states to freeze a credit file, and in many states they are allowed to charge additional fees if consumers later wish to lift or temporarily thaw a freeze. This is especially rich given that credit bureaus earn roughly $1 every time a potential creditor (or identity thief) inquires about your creditworthiness, according to Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst with Gartner Inc.

In light of this, it’s difficult to view these freeze fees as anything other than a bid to discourage consumers from filing them.

The Web sites where consumers can go to file freezes at the other major bureaus — including TransUnion and Experian — have hardly fared any better since Equifax announced the breach on Sept. 7. Currently, if you attempt to freeze your credit file at TransUnion, the company’s site is relentless in trying to steer you away from a freeze and toward the company’s free “credit lock” service.

That service, called TrueIdentity, claims to allow consumers to lock or unlock their credit files for free as often as they like with the touch of a button. But readers who take the bait probably won’t notice or read the terms of service for TrueIdentity, which has the consumer agree to a class action waiver, a mandatory arbitration clause, and something called ‘targeted marketing’ from TransUnion and their myriad partners.

The agreement also states TransUnion may share the data with other companies:

“If you indicated to us when you registered, placed an order or updated your account that you were interested in receiving information about products and services provided by TransUnion Interactive and its marketing partners, or if you opted for the free membership option, your name and email address may be shared with a third party in order to present these offers to you. These entities are only allowed to use shared information for the intended purpose only and will be monitored in accordance with our security and confidentiality policies. In the event you indicate that you want to receive offers from TransUnion Interactive and its marketing partners, your information may be used to serve relevant ads to you when you visit the site and to send you targeted offers.  For the avoidance of doubt, you understand that in order to receive the free membership, you must agree to receive targeted offers.

TransUnion then encourages consumers who are persuaded to use the “free” service to subscribe to “premium” services for a monthly fee with a perpetual auto-renewal.

In short, TransUnion’s credit lock service (and a similarly named service from Experian) doesn’t prevent potential creditors from accessing your files, and these dubious services allow the credit bureaus to keep selling your credit history to lenders (or identity thieves) as they see fit.

As I wrote in a Sept. 11 Q&A about the Equifax breach, I take strong exception to the credit bureaus’ increasing use of the term “credit lock” to divert people away from freezes. Their motives for saddling consumers with even more confusing terminology are suspect, and I would not count on a credit lock to take the place of a credit freeze, regardless of what these companies claim (consider the source).

Experian’s freeze Web site has performed little better since Sept. 7. Several readers pinged KrebsOnSecurity via email and Twitter to complain that while Experian’s freeze site repeatedly returned error messages stating that the freeze did not go through, these readers’ credit cards were nonetheless charged $15 freeze fees multiple times.

If the above facts are not enough to make your blood boil, consider that Equifax and other bureaus have been lobbying lawmakers in Congress to pass legislation that would dramatically limit the ability of consumers to sue credit bureaus for sloppy security, and cap damages in related class action lawsuits to $500,000.

If ever there was an industry that deserved obsolescence or at least more regulation, it is the credit bureaus. If either of those outcomes are to become reality, it is going to take much more attentive and relentless coverage on the part of the world’s top news publications. That’s because there’s a lot at stake here for an industry that lobbies heavily (and successfully) against any new laws that may restrict their businesses.

Here’s hoping the media can get up to speed quickly on this vitally important topic, and help lead the debate over legal and regulatory changes that are sorely needed.

Hacker NewsVulnerabilities in mobile networks opens Bitcoin wallets to hackers
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Les CrisesOubliez notre amitié peu judicieuse avec l’Arabie saoudite : l’Iran est notre allié naturel, par John R. Bradley

Source : The Spectator, John R. Bradley, 02-09-2017

Des policinrs irakiens montent la garde tandis que des chefs et religieux de tribus sunnites et chiites se rencontrent pour parler de réconciliation (Image : Getty)

La ville saoudienne d’Awamiya — comme dans de nombreuses villes d’Irak, de Syrie et du Yémen où se libère la haine ancienne du sunnisme vis-à-vis du chiisme — n’existe plus que par son nom. Le mois dernier, quelques jours avant une attaque contre sa population chiite perpétrée par le régime saoudien, les Nations Unies l’ont élue comme un endroit d’importance culturelle et religieuse exceptionnelle. Mais sous le prétexte de combattre des cellules terroristes soutenues par l’Iran, les Saoudiens ont soumis de manière non discriminée l’ensemble de la population civile d’Awamiya à des bombardements aériens, des tirs de lance-grenades, des snipers, de l’artillerie lourde, des attaques de véhicules blindés et des exécutions de sang-froid.
Plus d’une douzaine de chiites, dont un garçon de trois ans, ont été tués. Des centaines de jeunes gens ont été rassemblés. Au moins 500 maisons ont été détruites, et 8000 habitants ont été expulsés de force de celles qui restaient. Les soldats saoudiens se sont filmés en train de danser et de chanter au milieu des décombres de ce qui faisait la beauté de la vieille ville. Ils ont piétiné le portrait d’un dignitaire religieux chiite originaire de la province de l’est, Nimr al-Nimr, qui fut décapité l’année dernière pour sédition. Et ils ont traité les chiites locaux « purifiés » de la ville de « renégats » et de « chiens » — termes identiques à ceux utilisés par leurs frères wahhabites fanatiques d’Irak et de Syrie, qui se sont délectés des massacres de chiites au nom de l’EI. La décapitation de masse de 14 activistes chiites locaux, dont un adolescent handicapé, serait imminente.

Dans le sillage de ce carnage inter-religieux, il apparaît grotesque que Donald Trump se soit tenu debout à côté du roi Salman à Riyad en mai dernier à l’occasion du lancement d’un nouveau centre pour le combat contre l’extrémisme islamique. Dans un discours préliminaire, Trump avait tout aussi bizarrement distingué l’Iran et ses représentants chiites comme les instigateurs du terrorisme et du bain de sang inter-religieux dans la région. Par le passé, le double discours saoudien était tourné en dérision au nom des contrats de vente d’armes par milliards de dollars à des princes infantiles (et des rétrocommissions qui en découlent) et au nom de l’intensification de leur obsession à la limite de la folie de la prétendue menace existentielle posée par l’Iran à Israël et à ses alliés despotiques sunnites.

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Hacker NewsPeter Thiel Up for Key Intelligence Position, Wants to Limit Google's Power
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Hacker NewsIs Trump mulling Peter Thiel for a top intelligence advisory post?
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Les CrisesTempête rouge-Enseignements opérationnels de deux ans d’engagement russe en Syrie, par Michel Goya

Source : La voie de l’épée, Michel Goya, 13-09-2017

Deux ans après l’intervention russe en Syrie, qu’on le déplore ou non (ce n’est pas le propos ici), il convient de constater que celle-ci est un succès et qu’il est possible d’en tirer quelques enseignements opérationnels. Cette intervention est un succès car elle a permis d’atteindre son objectif politique premier, qui était de sauver le régime syrien alors en grande difficulté, et même de contribuer à sa victoire probable. Le corps expéditionnaire russe a effectivement largement contribué à l’endiguement des forces rebelles à la fin de 2015 puis, en particulier avec la prise d’Alep, à la conquête presque définitive du grand axe de l’autoroute M5, centre de gravité du conflit, pendant l’année 2016 avant de lancer une campagne dans l’est désertique jusqu’au dégagement de l’aéroport de Deir ez-Zor, assiégé par l’Etat islamique.
La guerre est encore loin d’être terminée mais elle ne peut plus désormais être perdue par Assad. Il n’y a plus que deux pôles territoriaux rebelles arabes sunnites cohérents en Syrie : la partie de l’Euphrate syrien encore tenue par l’Etat islamique et surtout la province d’Idlib, aux mains d’une coalition de factions dominée par Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (ex-Jabhat al-Nosra). Les autres forces rebelles sont désormais éclatées et servent souvent de supplétifs à d’autres acteurs par ailleurs concurrents, comme la Turquie, le Parti de l’union démocratique kurde (PYD), la Jordanie, Israël ou les Etats-Unis. Encore une fois, cette évolution est largement le fait de l’intervention russe qui lui donne aussi un poids diplomatique particulier tant sur le théâtre lui-même, où la Russie sert d’intermédiaire avec quasiment tous les acteurs locaux ou extérieurs, que sur la scène internationale, où elle apparaît à nouveau comme une puissance qui pèse sur les affaires du monde et avec qui il faut compter.

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Ars TechnicaGoogle/HTC deal is official, Google to acquire part of HTC’s smartphone team

Enlarge

The Google and HTC deal is official, it's just not quite what we were expecting. Google isn't buying HTC outright, à la Motorola, but is instead Google and HTC have "signed an agreement" to send some of HTC's employees over to Google, while HTC gets a $1.1 billion dollar cash infusion. The deal also includes a "non-exclusive license" for HTC's intellectual property.

HTC is still an independent company, and will still manufacture smartphones. Google is just acquiring some of HTC's employees for its hardware team, but it won't be getting any factories.

On Google's side, the deal was announced by SVP of Hardware and former Motorola CEO Rick Osterloh. In a blog post, Osterloh says, "With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we're excited to see what we can do together as one team."

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Hacker NewsGoogle signs agreement with HTC
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Hacker NewsSolve large jigsaw puzzles using genetic algorithms and OpenCV
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Hacker NewsEthereum Adoption of Zk-SNARK Technology
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jwzScooby-Doo versus shady real-estate developers
Dear Lazyweb, I have a request.

As you know, the primary lesson of Scooby-Doo is that ghosts and monsters don't exist, it's always, always a shady real-estate speculator wearing a rubber mask.

Please combine all of these videos of supercuts of the Scooby Gang unmasking, and photoshop Donald Trump's cartoon face onto all of the villains.

I thank you. Future generations thank you. And most of all, those meddling kids thank you.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Hacker NewsSolve sudoku like with the power of ARKit
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Hacker NewsWaymo wants Uber to pay $2.6B in damages–just for starters
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Ars TechnicaSome iOS 11 issues show early adoption pitfalls, others are just growing pains

Enlarge / The control center has a new interface for adjusting brightness.

Apple's new iOS 11 software for iPhones and iPads rolled out yesterday, but its adoption is slightly slower than that of its predecessor, and as is often the case, various issues have been reported by early adopters.

iOS 11 had been installed on just over 10 percent of supported devices in the 24 hours after it went live, according to data from Mixpanel. That's slightly slower than adoption of iOS 10 at launch (which was just over 14 percent after 24 hours). Tech wisdom has long held that people are generally wise to hold off installing major new OS releases until a couple of iterations in. However, Apple has always prided itself on its users' rapid adoption rate of new software releases, citing it as a metric in past conference keynotes and reports. This is still a good pace of adoption for the industry, but a handful of issues could explain the slower movement.

In fact there may be one big issue, and a few smaller ones. Most of the issues are likely to be resolved in a short time, but there are a few that we'll have to get used to. You've probably already read about the Apple Watch Series 3's LTE connectivity problems—that's an example of something that will get fixed for later adopters. What follows are some of the iOS 11 problems on iPhones and iPads.

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Hacker NewsLiterably (IK12 W13) is hiring engineer #1 to help children learn to read
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Ars TechnicaMicrosoft: Windows getting more stable, faster, and lasting longer on battery

Enlarge / With Windows breaking less often, scenes like this should become a thing of the past. (credit: Lee Adlaf)

Windows 10 is getting better and better, Microsoft insists, as it works to build confidence in the operating system in the run up to the next major update. The company says that the Creators Update (version 1703) has seen a 39 percent drop in driver and operating system stability issues relative to the Anniversary Update (version 1607).

Performance is better too; according to Microsoft's telemetry, boot time is 13 percent faster, logging in 18 percent faster, and facial recognition 30 percent faster. There are incremental improvements in battery life, too, from 2.5 to 5 percent longer life watching videos in the Movies & TV app, and a 17 percent improvement in the Edge browser.

The subtext to these numbers is that Microsoft is still working to convince customers, especially corporate customers, that the new Windows development model is working, and that the company is hearing the feedback. The Anniversary Update was rapidly deployed, and it hit a number of issues soon after launch, causing problems for both consumers and enterprise users alike.

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Hacker NewsSomeone Made a Fake Equifax Site. Then Equifax Linked to It
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Hacker NewsCourt OKs Barring High IQs for Cops
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Hacker NewsAlphaGo Movie
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Ars TechnicaMassive Equifax hack reportedly started 4 months before it was detected

Enlarge / A monitor displays Equifax Inc. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, US, on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. (credit: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Hackers behind the massive Equifax data breach began their attack no later than early March, more than four months before company officials discovered the intrusion, according to a report published Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal.

The first evidence of the hackers' "interaction" with the Equifax network occurred on March 10, according to the report, which cited a confidential note that security firm FireEye sent to some Equifax customers. By then, a critical vulnerability in the Apache Struts Web application framework was already under active exploit on the Internet. Equifax officials have said the Struts flaw was the opening that gave attackers an initial hold in the targeted network.

Equifax has said that the breach that exposed sensitive data for as many as 143 million US consumers started on May 13 and lasted until July 30. The company didn't disclose the breach until September 7.

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Hacker NewsBootstrapping Urbit from Ethereum
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Ars TechnicaWaymo wants Uber to pay $2.6 billion in damages—just for starters

Enlarge / Employees inspect an Uber self-driving car in Pittsburgh last year. (credit: Getty Images)

Waymo will be seeking at least $2.6 billion in damages against Uber in an upcoming trade secret trial, which could start next month.

The figure was revealed by an attorney for Uber during a court hearing today, according to Reuters. The massive damage payout was apparently what Waymo was demanding for just one of the trade secrets it will be taking to trial. At present, the company is planning to present nine different trade secrets that Uber allegedly stole and used to the jury.

Waymo sued Uber in February, accusing Uber of using its trade secrets in its self-driving car technology. Lawyers for Waymo say that Anthony Levandowski, who was head of Uber's self-driving car project, illegally downloaded more than 14,000 files just before he left his job at Google. After leaving Google, Levandowski founded his own startup, Otto. He sold that company to Uber in mid-2016 for $680 million.

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Hacker NewsYC wants to let people invest in its startups through the blockchain
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Hacker NewsApple: Heap Overflow in AppleBCMWLANCore Driver
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Hacker NewsTriggerHappy, Autonomous, and Disobedient: Nordbat and Mission Command in Bosnia
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Hacker NewsFedEx vs. UPS: two opposing models in the delivery business raise questions
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Hacker NewsTravel Time London Underground Map
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Hacker NewsCCleaner Command and Control Causes Concern
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Hacker NewsSailfish opens its HW adaptation code for Sony Xperia
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Hacker NewsAcclaimed French chef asks to be stripped of three Michelin stars
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Game WisdomHow to Create the Right Kind of Fail States in Video Games

How to Create the Right Kind of Fail States in Video Games Josh Bycer josh@game-wisdom.com

Fail states in video games are something that no player wants to see happen, and yet they are required in order to create tension and allow the player to feel like they’ve won. Figuring out how much to punish the player for failing is tough, and can mean the difference between giving them the push to rise up or pushing them away permanently.

Darkest Dungeon 560x200 How to Create the Right Kind of Fail States in Video Games

Catching Flies with Vinegar:

Good game design is all about rewarding the player and motivating them to keep playing. However, just as the player can win at a video game or level, they can also lose. In the old days, the fail state for a video game was harsh with the player losing all progress. This was partly due to the metrics-driven game design of the arcade industry.

As games evolved and became longer experiences, wiping the player’s progress was no longer viable. Over the years, different game philosophies have adopted different thoughts on failure.

Rogue-like Design is all about the threat of losing all progress, while most games adopt a checkpoint system for preserving it. We also have games that focus on a story and downplay or outright remove all fail states. There is a discussion to be had about whether or not games without fail states can still be considered video games, but that will have to be for another time.

Dark Souls 3 6 300x168 How to Create the Right Kind of Fail States in Video Games

Difficulty and fail states don’t have to be equal

For the rest of this post, we’re going to assume that the game you’re designing will have a fail state to it. Balancing failure is not the same as balancing success, and requires different considerations.

Degrees of Failure:

When we talk about fail states in video games, the main point has to do with the severity. As we’ve talked about before, the player should always feel like they’re making forward momentum in some way when playing. Getting stuck or losing progress is an easy way to push them away from your game.

With that said, you still need to have a fail state in order to challenge them. The big question about the fail state is: What’s lost and can it be recovered? In rogue-likes, again, you lose everything when you die. For games aimed at more casual players, failing will usually mean repeating the section or level again.

Short-term progress is often the most popular fail state, because it’s severe enough to impact the game, but not so damning that it ruins the play. Even the Souls series despite their difficulty have very lax fail states compared to other games. Dying in a Souls game will reset the area and you’ll drop your souls (exp/currency) where you died. As long as you get back to your grave, you’ll regain everything back.

For boss fights, the fail state doesn’t matter all that much, as you can keep retrying the fight with very little progress lost. One of the downsides of Bloodborne was the fact that you lost any bullets and blood vials (healing potions) and had to buy them again.

The danger of a strong fail state comes in when it creates a feedback loop of failure. One of the ways that MMOs tried to create a fail state was by punishing the player with stat debuffs until they recovered their corpse. The problem was it created a self fulfilling prophecy of you dying, being weakened, and then being killed easier on subsequent attempts.

Avoiding the feedback loop is very important; especially in games with fixed progression. In XCOM Enemy Unknown, having a squad wipe in the first two months of play was a death sentence for your run on the higher difficulties. The reason was that you needed the promoted units for their skills, the resources to build, and for unlocking larger squad sizes to survive. By the time you would be able to field another group, the enemies would have outpaced you.

In XCOM 2, while that is still important, there are other means of progressing and ways to get around a bad mission. The latest expansion even introduced hero classes that you’ll start with one unlocked to give you a bump at the start.

Unless you are going for a full-wipe as in rogue-like design, you want to avoid long-term fail states for most video games. The player should feel the sting of failing, but not have that impact the next several hours of playing. This becomes all the more important if your game is built around consuming resources for progress.

If the player must spend X amount of time to grind in order to even attempt something, forcing them to repeat the process is akin to wiping the time spent from the game.

Pushing Through:

Fail states in video games are the other side of the coin when it comes to designing your title. It’s important to motivate the player to get better, and not just push them into the ground.

For our last point it’s important to point out the obvious: The more demanding or involved your game is, the less punishing your fail state should be. Having the threat of a full wipe on a rogue-like designed around one hour playthroughs is fine; having it on a 50 hour RPG is a different story. The only exception would be having an “ironman” mode, but that is something the player has to opt in to experience.

And as a question to you: Can you think of examples of games with good fail states that kept you coming back, or games with bad ones that stopped you from playing?

The post How to Create the Right Kind of Fail States in Video Games appeared first on Game Wisdom.

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Ars TechnicaNASA center director: If Trump pivots to the Moon, we’re “set up” to do it

Enlarge / Ellen Ochoa, left, with Fred Haise, center, and David Alexander at Rice University's Apollo 13 event in September. (credit: Eric Berger)

Ellen Ochoa is a four-time astronaut who has served as director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston since 2013. As part of that job, Ochoa oversees a space center that trains astronauts for spaceflight missions, houses Mission Control, and manages the International Space Station and Orion spacecraft programs.

In recent years, the space center has also played a central role in preparing for and publicizing NASA's "Journey to Mars," the poorly funded effort by the agency to send humans to the red planet in the 2030s. Orion has been touted as a centerpiece of this strategy, and astronauts have talked about using what they've learned on the station and applying it toward going to Mars.

Now, however, key Trump appointees are beginning to talk about sending humans to the Moon before Mars. The administration's choice to serve as executive secretary of the National Space Council, Scott Pace, favors a return to the Moon. So does Trump's choice to lead NASA, Jim Bridenstine. It seems likely that, at some point, NASA's human destination will switch from "Mars" to the "Moon, then Mars," echoing the space policy first established during the administration of George W. Bush.

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DedefensaLa “doctrine Gerasimov” et la folie antirussiste

La “doctrine Gerasimov” et la folie antirussiste

Un nouveau poisson d’énorme dimension, du type monstre du Loch Ness, a émergé en marge de l’exercice Zapad 2017, comme une justification d’une grande hauteur stratégique des terreurs extraordinaires engendrées par notre antirussisme absolument hallucinée et fonctionnant mécaniquement, toujours à la même puissance. Ce poisson énorme se nomme “doctrine Gerasimov”, du nom du Général qui commande l’état-major général des forces armées russes et occupe la fonction d’adjoint au ministre de la défense.

Le texte du journaliste irlandais Bryan MacDonald, ci-dessous, indique le cheminement de ce qui est une complète invention venue semble-t-il d’une lobbyiste courante du système de l’américanisme et de l’appareil de relations publiques en mode-FakeNews qui va avec, Molly McKew... Laquelle est illico qualifiée d’“experte de la Russie”, pour expliquer que ses “travaux” inspirent illico une croisade de l’équipe du Financial Times (FT) de Moscou. Le prestige et le sérieux de cet attribut essentiel du Système en sortiront grandis.

Le simulacre de l’information ne connaît absolument aucune limite et n’est tenu par aucune règle de vraisemblance, puisqu’il est entièrement construit dans le faux-semblant, à partir d’éléments de base, de matériaux, d’information, d’une logique qui sont eux-mêmes comme autant de faux-semblants. Le “mensonge” (les guillemets sont nécessaires à ce point d’inversion) est tellement complet et si complètement hermétique qu’il n’est plus mensonge puisqu’hors des références d’une réalité désintégrée ; la narrative n’est plus narrative puisque l’univers est, dans n’importe quel cas, reconstruit aux seules dimensions de la narrative devenant ainsi nouvelle réalité...

Ainsi la “doctrine Gerasimov” apparaît-elle à partir d’un article écrit en 2013 par l’actuel chef de l’armée russe, et présentée implicitement, – il faut savoir lire entre les lignes, bien entendu, – comme une doctrine promise à activer l’invasion russe par des moyens terribles et vicieux de la partie européenne, surtout est-européenne, du bloc-BAO. Il s’agit de la Blitzkrieg postmoderne d’un Guderian-Gerasimov aux ordres d’un Poutine-Hitler, et destinée à activer une Opération Barbarossa à l’envers.

Cette aventure “éditoriale” suffit à nous confirmer, après nos remarques sur Zapad 2017, que l’antirussisme qui avait semblé culminer avec Russiagate et qui semblait devoir s’apaiser, reste plus vigoureux que jamais. En fait, l’affaire de la “doctrine Gerasimov” est simplement une excroissance un peu plus exotique et sexy d’une dialectique qui est devenue quasiment un réflexe psychologique d'un nomm" Pavlov, exactement comme l’on observe que le ciel est bleu (c’est-à-dire, “lorsqu’on observe que le ciel est bleu alors qu’il est couvert de nuages menaçants et gris sombre”). Il est effectivement remarquable de mesurer combien l’antirussisme avec ses innombrables narrative absolument substantivée par rien de concret, “hors-faits” comme l’on dit “hors-sol” dans les studios chics de la capitale, se trouve désormais dans le langage courant des divers domaines où l’on peut rapprocher la dialectique d’une remarque sur la Russie, ou faire de la Russie l’occasion d’un événement de communication.

Lorsqu’un commentateur nommé Andrew Exum, qui fut adjoint à l’assistant du secrétaire US à la défense pour la politique au Moyen-Orient fait un article sur le Hezbollah, – on devine dans quel sens, – sur le site spécialisé Defense One, le 18 septembre 2017, il observe en passant, exactement comme on fait référence à une évidence, et tirant argument de cette démarche complètement FakeNews pour contribuer à sa narrative, – que Poutine qu’on décrit si brillant fait aussi des sottises. En effet, il faut mesurer le crédit que le président russe a perdu dans ces USA qui ne demandaient qu’à l’estimer et à l’aimer, en accomplissant cette brillante performance d’espion de manipuler complètement la campagne électorale US... L’affirmation, complètement accessoire pour le propos général, est écrite comme une Vérité d’abord révélée, puis démontrée et prouvée avec une telle certitude qu’il est absolument inutile de chercher la moindre preuve de la chose ; cela, d’autant qu’il n’y en a aucune après plus de douze mois d’enquête.

« We Americans are forever viewing the strategies of our adversaries through rose-colored lenses. But just like us, our adversaries sometimes do really stupid things. Vladimir Putin, for example, has developed a reputation as a master strategist by successfully meddling in the U.S. elections. But it’s also quite reasonable to ask whether irrevocably poisoning relations with two generations of Americans in the process was actually quite dumb, strategically speaking. »

Il s’agit vraiment d’un autre univers, qui persiste et ne cesse de signer, et encore signer, une énorme et grossière construction en simulacre absolument fabriquée, sur laquelle on s’appuie comme s’il s’agissait du granit de la vérité pour énoncer des thèses brillantes d’intelligence. Dans cet autre univers où l’on voit, et surtout où l’on écoute l’acteur Morgan Freeman, prenant une sorte de voie dont la tonalité oscille entre celle du sage sorti de la case de l’Oncle Tom et et celle du Dieu tout-puissant en Personne, pour nous déclarer que « Nous sommes en guerre avec la Russie », que « Ce n’est pas un script », que « Nous avons été attaqués » (par la Russie). Ce document-vidéo d’“instruction civique” face au danger russe présente divers spécialistes de l’antirussisme du type-neocon et nous restitue le climat remarquable par sa durabilité et la banalisation de l’hystérie devenant une sorte d’attitude courante, une sorte de sagesse qu'on croirait presque apaisée : l’hystérie comme sagesse, présentée par le visage vénérable et rayonnant de Freeman, marqué des sillons d’une si rude expérience de la vie enfin arrivée à la libération du progressisme-sociétal (et antiraciste) en vogue à Hollywood (“Freeman” le bien-nommé : “homme libre”)... Le déterminisme-narrativiste à ce point nous conduit à déambuler dans un univers hallucinant.

Alors, bien entendu, l’on se dit que la “doctrine Gerasimov” a toute sa place dans cet univers, dans sa logique, dans sa justesse et dans sa sage et haute intelligence. Il est possible que Freeman ait été payé pour ce qu’il nous dit d’une voix si pleine de conviction, mais il est encore plus possible qu’il ne l’ait pas été, tant cette catégorie sociétale du showbusiness est effectivement devenue, avec la communication rétribuée par le Système en général, le meilleur soutien moral et civique, donc hors de ces basses questions matérielles, des stratèges chargés de mettre en lumière les projets démoniaques de la Russie. L’inculture de la culture américanistes-occidentalistes, l’asservissement volontaire au Grand Mensonge comme référence ontologique, sont tout simplement prodigieux, de Hollywood au Financial Times.

On lira ci-dessous le texte de Bryan MacDonald, publié par RT, ce 19 septembre 2017.

dedefensa.org

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The problem with the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’ is that it doesn’t exist

Just when you thought Western media coverage of Russia couldn't get much worse, it did. The Financial Times, once relatively competent on this beat, delivered breathless coverage of a non-existent army tenet. They might as well have published a feature on "Crop Circles" or the "Priory of Sion.”

The hoax concerned is the “Gerasimov Doctrine” - based on a 2013 essay where the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, Valery Gerasimov, mentioned different types of modern warfare, which could be loosely termed as “hybrid war.” He was actually ruminating on how the West conducts operations, not Russia. Specifically in Libya and Syria and the “regime change” efforts connected to the “Arab Spring” of that year.

In the screed, Gerasimov never mentions “hybrid war,” and the closest phrase to it is “asymmetric” conflict, which is referenced three times. Plus, it’s worth remembering also how the catchphrase was first hyped after the Georgian assault on South Ossetia in 2008, and the Kremlin’s reaction to Mikhail Saakashvili's gambit. Also, back then, Nikolai Makarov was army chief, not Gerasimov. So if it actually existed, a more appropriate title would contain the latter's name.

Military training events can have strange effects on people. For instance, the joint Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 ("West-2017") venture, which is currently taking place, has spooked the Baltic states into handing over their airspace to US control. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President has suggested the whole thing is a smokescreen for an invasion of his country, and Poland’s Deputy Defense Minister has warned that it could be an excuse for permanently stationing soldiers in Belarus. 

We’ve also learned how Moscow holds “war games” but NATO stages “exercises” and discovered that a lot of American and European officials think Vladimir Putin has engaged exactly 100,000 troops in the enterprise. Presumably, because he likes perfectly round numbers which are big and scary. But, for its part, the Kremlin insists only 13,000 men are committed to the endeavor. 

Menace of unreality

Like the World Cup, Zapad is held every four years, meaning the current trials have been well-flagged and are hardly a surprise. But its very existence is big business for the “Russia scare” industry, and it’s notable how CEPA, a lobby group for US military manufacturers, even set up a website with a countdown clock to help rustle up a bit of business for their sponsors.

Another terror doing the rounds recently is this “Gerasimov Doctrine” rubbish. Which has been heavily promoted by Molly McKew, a lobbyist who has quickly risen without trace as a “Russia expert.” Presumably, because her ravings suit the current narrative in the United States. However, the problem with the grand strategy is that it simply doesn’t exist. We know this because nobody in Russia ever mentions it and nobody remotely credible speaks of its authenticity.

 Sure, some Western “Russia watchers” and “Kremlinologists” have speculated on it, but these chancers aren’t to be taken seriously. Because if it were raining soup in Moscow, they’d be standing on the streets with forks. Far from the Russian capital, naturally.

Let’s get something straight now: the “Gerasimov Doctrine” isn’t real. Which means it’s in the same category as the Loch Ness Monster or the Mummy's Curse. Yet, grown adults, often hiding behind fancy faux-academic titles, are talking about it.

Musical chairs

Now, a few years ago, The Financial Times was perhaps the only Western newspaper which got Russia at least half-right. But then its correspondent Charles Clover was re-assigned, and his successors have lacked his experience, gravitas, and ability. This decline has led to the paper falling for the “Gerasimov Doctrine” swindle last weekend and merging it with Zapad puffery to create some phenomenally hyperbolic aggrandizement.

Indeed, as Mark Galeotti, a pundit on US government broadcaster RFE/RL, puts it: “this essentially is Molly McKew meets Gerasimov’s Wikipedia bio entry, presumably knocked out in an hour.” And, to be fair, he’s actually being restrained.

Because the FT’s Moscow team have delivered something so appallingly constructed that it runs the full gamut of proficiency from y to z. A faux pas which presents a retired Russian general as a contemporary Zhuge Liang or Lord Nelson, capable of constructing a radical martial dogma from nowhere. And in the process makes him ten feet tall.

Nothing-burger

The FT attempts to backup its argument with mentions of Crimea, allegations of US election hacking and information war. Using these as examples of a sudden Russian discovery of non-linear methods. Yet, the author is not self-aware enough to realize that the US has been using composite techniques like sanctions and revolutions, whether color or otherwise, to achieve strategic goals for decades.

Economic penalties or the removal of legitimate governments are clearly forms of “hybrid war” which pre-date Gerasimov, Makarov, and Putin himself. Also not forgetting that James Mattis, the current US Secretary of Defense, jointly penned a 2005 essay on “Future Warfare: the rise of hybrid wars,” eight years before Gerasimov took up his cudgel.

Let’s be clear: the “Gerasimov Doctrine” is a complete load of nonsense. And it seems to have emerged from the general’s 2013 article being circulated on social media by Western Russia watchers, making it a foreign construct with no basis in the Russian reality. Thus, it amounts to a contemporary version of the Cold War’s “Missile Gap.” But the fact the FT fell for this rubbish only serves to, once again, highlight the desperate state of American and British reportage from Moscow.

Bryan MacDonald

DedefensaLabyrinthe du simulacre, de l’ONU à Freeman

Labyrinthe du simulacre, de l’ONU à Freeman

21 septembre 2017 – La première image qui me vient et me reste à l’esprit est celle, largement reprise, du général Kelly, le directeur de cabinet de Trump, tête baissée, le menton dans ses mains croisées, puis une main se cachant le visage pourtant toujours baissé, au moment où Trump commence son discours. On l’imagine complètement catastrophé, découragé, se répétant “Mais qu’est-ce qu’il est encore en train nous de sortir ?” A côté de lui, Melania Trump, le visage fermé, impénétrable, regardant elle aussi son mari, ou bien peut-être, – oui, à bien la regarder et pour peu que l’on ait l’imagination vagabonde, on pourrait voir se peindre sur ce même visage une question assez proche, du genre : “Mais qu’est-ce qu’il raconte, ce type ?” A la tribune, lui, il nucléarise la Corée du Sud avant de passer à l’Iran. Netanyahou bondit de joie !

Il y a aussi cet article de RT qui cite ce jugement de Lavrov à propos de l’intervention de Trump (« Un discours remarquable »), en évoquant une perspective idyllique où les USA et la Russie rétabliraient des relations normales parce que Trump a affirmé la nécessité du respect de toutes les souverainetés (de toutes les nations souveraines) dans les relations internationales ; puis martelant des réserves colossales et très inquiètes, Lavrov, implicitement très critique sur les interventions dévastatrices de Trump dans les passages de son discours sur les crises nord-coréenne et iranienne. (Désormais, il semble bien qu’il y ait une crise iranienne.) L’attitude de Trump est complètement incohérente à maints égards, et cela ne peut nous surprendre puisque sa “diplomatie” est de l’ordre de la télé-réalité : d’un côté, affirmant le principe intangible de la souveraineté des nations dans les relations internationales, de l’autre jugeant des comportements nationaux d’une manière distordue et complètement intrusive, voire en faisant la promotion du regime change dans le cas du Venezuela (et implicitement de la Corée du Nord, et sans doute l’Iran), sans le moindre souci de la souveraineté nationale.

Du coup, Macron paraît excellent lorsqu’il prononce son jugement sévère sur l’attitude de Trump vis-à-vis de l’Iran, – “excellent” lui, c’est dire ! Et aussi lors de sa conférence de presse, lorsqu’il rapporta des détails de son entretien avec Trump, justement à propos de l’Iran. Il expose à Trump l’argument qu’il est dangereux sinon absurde de mettre en cause l’accord actuel sous prétexte qu’il n’est pas parfait, sans prévoir une option de remplacement ; Trump a-t-il une telle option ? interroge Macron ; Trump répond que oui et lui expose son option de remplacement. Et Macron de commenter avec une franchise qui lui fait honneur dans cet instant : « Je ne l’ai pas comprise », ouvrant par là la voie à l’hypothèse pas si incohérente que Trump est un esprit incohérent et donc incompréhensible.

…Mais moi-même, qualifiant Macron d’“excellent” alors qu’il y a deux jours le site appuyait de commentaires approbateurs un portrait incendiaire et furieux de ce même Macron, est-ce que je n’alimente pas ce constat irrésistible de l’incohérence, qui vaut d’ailleurs dans la relativité extraordinaire qu’il expose pour tous les avatars de cette session de l’ONU résumant si bien le climat et la psychologie folle de cette époque catastrophique ? Qui peut encore prétendre être capable de ranger les choses et les actes des hommes, et par conséquent émettre un jugement durable et solide sur les hommes, d’une façon cohérente et soutenue, dans ce formidable tourbillon crisique ?

Tous les commentateurs commentent et tous les éditorialistes éditorialisent depuis deux jours sur ces interventions à la tribune de l’ONU et sur la situation ainsi créée, et moi je reste, bouche bée, la plume suspendue. Certes, la faute essentielle, sinon exclusive du point de vue de l’opérationnalité, en revient à Trump, qui a exposé d’une façon symbolique et tonitruante du point de vue de la communication le trouble et le désordre qu’il introduit dans les relations internationales, exactement à l’image de ceux qu’ils développent dans la politique intérieure de Washington D.C. depuis bientôt deux ans.

Mais encore une fois, Trump ne fait que mettre dans une lumière aveuglante, celle des spots de la télé-réalité, une situation qui se développe depuis des années et qu’on feint d’ignorer, ou qu’on n’a pas le courage de relever, ou qu’on est trop aveugle et d’une psychologie trop affaiblie pour s’en aviser. Comme l’on disait “le fou du roi”, Trump est “le fou du monde” qui nous fait accepter l’évidence que le monde est comme ce roi dont un enfant s’exclamait “Le roi est nu !”.

C’est pour cette raison que je crois inutile de proposer une appréciation acceptable et raisonnable de la situation du monde, impliquant que cette situation répond elle-même à des critères identifiables et compréhensibles par la raison comme acceptables et raisonnables. C’est impossible, tout simplement parce qu’il n’y a rien qui soit acceptable et raisonnable, selon l’entendement de notre raison courante et selon la logique des dynamiques en cours, dans la situation du monde de notre époque catastrophique. On comprend alors le choix, fait d’une façon tout à fait rationnelle, qui me conduit à cette analyse s’exprimant dans ces termes du refus d’une démarche intellectuelle appuyée sur une mesure du rangement des choses et des actes et un jugement durable sur les hommes, tout cela avec l’instrument de la raison qui se révèle dans ce cas impuissante et paralysée ; on comprend alors ce choix qui fait que ce texte ne figure pas dans une des rubriques du site comme il serait logique qu’il soit, mais dans ce Journal.dde-crisis qui est d’abord comptable de l’humeur de celui qui l’écrit.

Enfin, comment mieux ouvrir la perspective comme elle doit l’être pour terminer justement cette observation sur la folie de l’époque qu’avec ces quelques phrases à propos de cette invraisemblable initiative de la création d’un “comité”, – le Committee To Investigate Russia, ou disons le CTR pour rendre compte du sérieux de l’entreprise, – organisé par une association entre people d’Hollywood et neocons recyclés et plus ou moins officiels. ZeroHedge.com nous donne un bon résumé de l’affaire lancée par l’acteur et metteur en scène Rob Reiner, avec les neocons David Frum et Max Boot, l’ancien directeur du renseignement national (DNI) James Clapper, fameux pour ses dépositions mensongères mais sous serment au Congrès, et surtout, pour la sensation et la grotesquerie, la participation très active de la voie sentencieuse et mélodieuse, accompagnée du visage de vieux sage un peu retors et évidemment black, de l’acteur Norman Freeman.

Cet assortiment abracadabrant préside à l’encouragement d'une “chasse aux sorcières” très hollywoodiennes, sans sorcières mais avec des proclamations bombastiques sur l’agression russe et les activités guerrières russes (« We are at war with Russia », révélation centrale de Freeman), et tout cela dans une atmosphère prompte à la dénonciation rocambolesque. Hollywood parvenant à se rejouer le MacCarthysme complètement inverti, – ou la victime de l’Inquisition des années 1940 et 1950 devenue l’inquisiteur sexy et arrosé de millions de dollars.

Je ne sais toujours pas si Freeman est dans cette aventure pour la beauté de la cause ou pour son pesant de dollars, mais l’avis émis aux premières nouvelles de l’intervention (il n’était pas encore apparu qu’il s’agissait d’une association bel et bien organisée) reste complètement valable : « […L]’hystérie comme sagesse, présentée par le visage vénérable et rayonnant de Freeman, marqué des sillons d’une si rude expérience de la vie enfin arrivée à la libération du progressisme-sociétal (et antiraciste) en vogue à Hollywood (“Freeman” le bien-nommé : “homme libre”)... Le déterminisme-narrativiste à ce point nous conduit à déambuler dans un univers hallucinant. »

Eh bien à l’ONU c’était pareil, univers hallucinant, lorsque Trump prit d’assaut le pupitre, puis ce qui s’ensuivit, et tout cela n’étant en rien accidentel mais comme une description baroque et assez juste de l’époque où nous nous débattons, emprisonnés dans l’univers accouché par cette époque. Rien à faire, cette pensée lancinante ne cesse de me revenir : il est impossible, dans ces conditions, de faire œuvre de commentaire politique comme s’il s’agissait d’une situation objectivement observable pour ce que la raison voudrait y voir. Il y a, dans ce fouillis et dans ce fatras, des forces d’une puissance considérable qui sont à l’œuvre, qui brouillent tous les rangements qu’on pourrait concevoir, qui trompent les logiques, qui attirent les jugements dans des simulacres qui sont des labyrinthes. Le premier écueil qui attend le regard de l’honnête homme, c’est de comprendre et de mesurer cette forme insaisissable du simulacre dans le labyrinthe, pour tenter de l’écarter, pour tenter de saisir l’une ou l’autre vérité-de-situation qu’elle dissimulerait.

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jwzSeasonal Footwear

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Ars TechnicaSpaceX seeks “Starlink” trademark for its satellite broadband network

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Olena_T)

SpaceX has filed trademark applications for the word "Starlink" to describe its planned satellite broadband network.

SpaceX filed applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 21 to have Starlink trademarked for "wireless broadband communication services," "high-speed wireless Internet access," and other services related to its upcoming satellite network.

The trademark applications were surfaced by a user on Reddit and then made the rounds in news articles. SpaceX is also seeking an additional trademark on "SpaceX" specifically for the satellite network, in addition to the SpaceX trademarks it already owns for aerospace launch vehicles, rockets, and services for launching payloads into space.

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Ars TechnicaNest adds new cameras and a wireless alarm system to its product suite

Enlarge (credit: Nest)

Alphabet-owned Nest announced several new products today, all of them focused on home security. Two new cameras have been introduced—the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor and Nest Hello—along with Nest Secure, a multi-device home alarm system powered by motion sensors.

Both cameras are intended for outdoor installation, and they add facial-recognition capabilities via Google’s FaceNet technology. Nest’s cameras could already alert you if a human figure came into view, but FaceNet adds the ability to exempt trusted people, along with some other new functionality. Nest Secure is similar in basic concept to most home alarm systems you may have seen; while armed, it sounds an alarm if someone enters the home without disabling it. But it offers a couple of alarm-disabling alternatives to entering a passcode when you enter.

The key barrier to entry for Nest products remains: a full suite of them can be expensive to operate. It’s not because of the products’ purchase prices, but rather because most of the best features are only available with a subscription to the Nest Aware service. Let’s say you install a handful of Nest Cam IQ devices throughout your home and live video isn’t enough for you. You want to be able to look at video from last night to see if there was an intruder present. You can do that, but the video is stored in the cloud through Nest Aware.

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jwzMy favorite comments on Spicer at the Emmys:
@gknauss "Remember when Goebbels killed it on Burns and Allen?"

@DesiJed "Repeats the names of everyone who posed at the #Emmys with Sean Spicer like I'm Arya Stark."

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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Ars TechnicaSplashy study drips with questions after showing semen is viral safe-haven

Enlarge / Zika, the virus that started it all. (credit: Getty | BSIP)

Following recent news that Zika virus can lurk in semen for months, a pair of infectious-disease researchers got to wondering: how many other viruses can hang out down there?

With the intriguing question dangling, the ballsy researchers decided to do a study to figure it out—because, you know, why not?

The answer: 26.

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Ars TechnicaHistory vs. chance in the evolution of steroid signaling

Enlarge / The estrogen receptor, bound to a steroid. (credit: PDB)

Studying alternate realities has traditionally been the purview of physicists, cosmologists, and philosophers. Maybe theologians. But at the University of Chicago, biochemists, molecular biologists, and geneticists in Joseph Thornton’s lab are examining why things in biology have turned out as they have and not some other way. They note that “history leaves no trace of the roads it did not take” and ask: is the current state of things inevitable?

And, if it's not, it’s worth figuring out why things aren’t different—and whether the outcome could have been better than the solution life on Earth ended up with.

Remaking the past

By “things” here I mean proteins. For Thornton’s lab, this means the estrogen receptor and a related receptor that handles other steroid hormones like androgens, progestogens, and corticosteroids. These receptors bind their preferred steroid, then bind to specific DNA sequences and control the activity of a particular suite of genes. The DNA sequence that the estrogen receptor binds—called the estrogen response element—differs from the DNA sequence that the more generic steroid receptor sticks to, though only in two locations.

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Ars TechnicaThe Moto X4 brings Android One to the US and a non-Google phone to Project Fi

Enlarge (credit: Motorola)

Motorola’s Moto X4 is coming to Google’s Project Fi network, and it’s bringing Android One along with it.

On Wednesday, Google announced that Motorola’s latest smartphone will work with its cellular MVNO service, which piggybacks off the networks run by T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular in the US. As a result, the Moto X4 will be the first smartphone that isn’t part of Google’s own Nexus or Pixel family devices to support Project Fi.

The company also brings a relatively affordable option to the network; ever since Google stopped selling the older and more affordable Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X through Project Fi, the only Project Fi devices available have been the year-old Pixel and Pixel XL, which cost a minimum of $650. Sequels to those phones are coming soon and are all but guaranteed to support Project Fi, but they are expected to be even pricier. At $399 outright, the Moto X4 isn’t exactly cheap, but it should still be more manageable for a wider audience.

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jwz"HTML email, was that your fault?"
tl;dr: "Probably".

Just for the record, when this Unfrozen Caveman bitches about the horrors of the world, it is not without recognition of my culpability.

Montulli and Weissman also deserve a portion of the blame, but I was the one who ran with it, so I'm sure they'd be happy to let me fall on that sword.

{You're|I'm} {welcome|sorry}.


Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 20:01:22 -0700
From: Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>
Subject: Re: HTML e-mail: is it your fault?
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v1084)
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.1084)

Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 14:45:13 -0700
From: Andrew Gray <adsgray@...>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-08-17)

Hi,

I'm trying to figure out when HTML e-mails were first sent. Do you happen to know if the Netscape Mail and News clients that you worked on were the first MUAs to render HTML?

This question is in the context of struggling to craft an HTML e-mail that looks "good" in every possible stupid mail program that anyone could possibly still be using in the year 2011.

You know, my gut reaction is that the answer to this question is "no", but after some digging, I have yet to find any evidence of a mail reader that can display inline HTML messages (email or USENET) that predates Netscape 2.0!

So, maybe?

If you find out for sure, please let me know!

I think there may have been closed systems inside Compuserve and Outlook that supported rich text messages (in formats other than HTML).

The Andrew Message System at CMU and MIT supported WYSIWYG rich messages, including inline images and audio attachments, as early as 1985. Not HTML or MIME, but a predecessor to MIME, as the architect of that was Nathaniel Borenstein who wrote the first MIME RFC.

My other project is a time machine of course. First application: preventing HTML e-mail from ever happening.

Yeah, go back to chipping your USENET posts out with a piece of flint, why don't you.

Even if it wasn't the first, Netscape Mail was probably the first mail reader that put the ability to easily *view* HTML messages in front of more than a million users.

I know that Eudora 4 supported display of HTML email, and possibly composition of it, but I'm not sure when that was released.

Qualcomm/Eudora spent a while trying to push text/enriched (RFC 1523, published late 1993 -- not sure when Eudora first supported it) as an alternative to HTML, but that went nowhere. Early versions of Netscape (at least 1.1, I think possibly earlier) supported display of text/enriched, but just about nobody was even aware of that because nobody ever used it.

We also supported display of text/richtext, which was an HTML-like SGML dialect with only a few tags. In 2.0b1 or possibly earlier. I added that just to placate the peanut gallery, not because I expected anyone to actually use it.

I think the only person who really used text/enriched was Brad Templeton through ClariNet, where you could subscribe to USENET newsgroups of the UPI/AP feeds that were formatted with it.

From Mosaic Netscape 0.9 through Netscape Navigator 1.1 (1994), there was a mail composition window which allowed one to attach external URLs. They were attached as MIME multipart/mixed attachments with proper Content-Type and Content-Transfer-Encoding (using quoted-printable to ensure short lines).

You could also "attach" things with "Include Document Text" which would suck them in as plain-text with ">" at the beginning of each line, wrapped at 72 columns.

There was also a USENET news reader and composer built-in. The USENET reader's display of MIME documents was remedial at best. The composition tool only allowed plain-text. Version 0.9 displayed any part of a message between <HTML> and </HTML> as such, even if there was no Content-Type header. That was removed some time before 2.0. Back then, you couldn't actually rely on a Content-Type header propagating through multiple USENET hops -- bnews would strip out any headers it didn't know about!

(Remember that 1.1's big innovation was *tables*. 1.0 didn't have 'em!)

2.0 contained the mail reader, with full MIME support (which was also a news reader, replacing the minimalist one that 1.0 had). So that showed up in 1.22b or so, mid 1995, I guess?

I believe 3.0 was the first version with WYSIWYG HTML composition, early 1996. To accomplish that in 2.0, you had to attach an HTML file. If there was only one attachment, it was sent as the single MIME part.

Forwarded messages were attachments of type message/rfc822 and included full headers, which were hidden upon inline display. Nobody does that any more because now the world sucks.

There was the IETF MHTML working group as early as 1995. I can't find a working archive of the mailing list, but it was run by a fellow named Jacob Palme -- http://people.

Microsoft Outlook Express shipped in 2005 and did not support HTML, but later versions (2006? Maybe 2008?) posted HTML *by default* to both mail and news. This angered many. Outlook Express is also where the blight of top-posting originated, those monsters.

Here, this may be helpful too: http://web.

Also this: http://segate.

It would be fantastic if you could update http://en. with your findings.

--
DNA Lounge - 375 Eleventh Street, SF CA 94103 - 415-626-1409

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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Ars TechnicaDrone delivery startup is about to begin commercial operations

The drone delivery startup Matternet is getting ready to put its technology into commercial use. The company has announced that it will soon be launching a drone delivery network in urban areas of Switzerland to ferry medical samples between labs and hospitals. The company has also announced the Matternet Station, which is an answer to one of the big questions facing drone delivery companies: how to handle the beginning and end of a trip.

Matternet is taking a different approach than Amazon, which envisions drones dropping packages off in a customer's yard. This is an approach that could work well in suburban and rural areas but won't work as well in big cities where people might not have suitable places for package drop-offs.

The Matternet station works like a drone mailbox. Customers insert a package into a slot in the station, and a robot arm hands the package off to a Matternet drone for takeoff. If the customer arrives at the drop-off station before the drone, the station can hold the package until the drone gets there. The drone then flies to another Matternet station, which stores the package until the recipient arrives to pick it up.

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Ars TechnicaEquifax sends breach victims to fake notification site

Enlarge (credit: https://securityequifax2017.com/)

The official Equifax Twitter account encouraged people to visit a knock-off website that mocks the company's security practices instead of the site the company created to warn of a massive data breach. That recent breach exposed personal details for as many as 143 million US consumers.

In a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, an Equifax representative using the name Tim wrote: "Hi! For more information about the product and enrollment, please visit: securityequifax2017.com." The message came in response to a question about free credit monitoring Equifax is offering victims. The site is a knock-off of the official Equifax breach notification site, equifaxsecurity2017.com. A security researcher created the imposter site to demonstrate how easy it is to confuse a legitimate name with a bogus one. The Equifax tweet suggests that even company representatives can be easily fooled. The tweet was deleted late Wednesday morning, more than 18 hours after it went live.

Identity thieves and hackers often rely on this kind of confusion to trick people into divulging passwords or installing malware. By using domains that are similar to the domains of a bank or Web service and copying the overall look and feel of the site, attackers can often fool people into thinking they're visiting a site they know and trust, rather than a malicious one set up for purposes of fraud.

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Planet PostgreSQLCraig Kerstiens: Migrating from single-node Postgres to Citus

There are a lot of things that are everyday occurrences for engineering teams. Deploying new code, deploying a new service, it’s even fairly common to deploy a net new data store or language. But migrating from one database to another is far more rare. While migrating your database can seem like a daunting task, there are lessons you can learn from others—and steps you can take to minimize risk in migrating from one database to another.

At Citus, we’ve helped many a customer migrate from single node Postgres, like RDS or Heroku Postgres, to a distributed database cluster with Citus, so they can scale out and take advantage of the compute, memory, and disk resources of a scale out solution. So we’ve been privy to some valuable lessons learned, and we’ve developed some best practices. Here you can find your guide for steps to follow as you start to create your migration plan to Citus.

Refine your database’s data model to prepare for sharding

The first step in the process is to define your database’s data model, just as you would if you were building your application fresh. Within Citus, there are three table types: distributed tables, reference tables, and standard Postgres tables on the Citus coordinator node.

Initially when setting things up, you may trial things with a subset of your tables, perhaps just 3-10 tables, just to get things working. As you prep for migration, you’ll want to go through and build up a full inventory of tables and define which each is, we’ve found it’s good to maintain a spreadsheet of each table and it’s type and then have a migration to update your schema accordingly.

Deciding how to distribute your data across nodes in Citus

The needs of your application will inform what approach you should take to sharding your data across multiple nodes. In order to prepare your application for that you may have to add some data. The most common thing we see among SaaS applications is that tenant_id needs to be backfilled when following the multi-tenant approach.

Pro-tip: If you’re using our gem activerecord-multi-tenant it has a mode that allows you to apply tenant_id on inserts and updates to ease your migration process.

Backfill data that is missing

Once you know your table setup, and once you have a column for tenant_id on every table, you need to make sure the data filled in. It’s a good idea to let things run in insert/update mode for a little while, but even with that you still may be missing some data.

The best process to update your missing data is to write a background jump that gradually updates some number of records at a time. It could be 100 records every 10 seconds, or higher or lower depending on your needs and what your database can handle. Once you have backfilled tenant_id on all of your models it’s also a good idea to add a not-null constraint to each of the tables for it.

Get your primary keys in order

Now that all your data is ready we need to update some of your keys to ensure they work and help us enforce referential integrity. In order to do this you’ll want to update primary and foreign keys to be composite keys. Let’s look at an example of this, assume you have the following structure on a single node Postgres database:

CREATE TABLE leads (id serial PRIMARY KEY, 
                    first_name text, 
                    last_name text,
                    email text);

After adding tenant_id the table would now look something like:

CREATE TABLE leads (id serial PRIMARY KEY, 
                    tenant_id integer,
                    first_name text, 
                    last_name text,
                    email text);

And now you’ll want to change the primary key to include both the tenant_id, and it’s original primary key:

CREATE TABLE leads (id serial, 
                    tenant_id integer,
                    first_name text, 
                    last_name text,
                    email text,
                    PRIMARY KEY (tenant_id, id));

Flip to “Read mode” live—to decouple code changes from database changes

It’s always a good idea to decouple code changes from database changes. For this reason, we encourage once you have your tenant_id in place and all code changes to reference your tenant when querying, so you can deploy your application with Postgres to make things work as if things were already sharded within Citus.

It is of note that for some applications that have extensive index usage may throw things out of whack. One option is to re-write your indexes to include tenant_id as well, though the statistics may result in different performance. This could be better or worse performance. The short is, definitely try to flip all the code live, but do so gradually and monitor performance as you do.

But how do I cutover without days/hours of downtime?

This all depends on the database you’re migrating from and the size of your database. If your database is under 100 GB (of raw data, not including the indexes) then the simplest option is a dump and restore. This is quite safe and will likely take you around 30 minutes end to end.

If your database is much larger in size, let’s say 1 TB, then the cutover does become more complicated. Fortunately we have some tools in place to help you here. Because Postgres is awesome, we’re able to leverage the logical decoding infrastructure in Postgres (available in Postgres 9.4 and up) to stream directly into a Citus Cloud cluster. It can still take a day or two for the dump plus ongoing stream to get caught up, but because it’s an ongoing stream you can get it in place then let it run until you’re ready for cutover.

If you’re looking to go with option 2 then feel free to get in touch with us as we can help.

Game day for your database migration

You’ve put in lots of work, you’ve practiced, rehearsed, and run scrimmages. Okay… sorry for all the sportsball references. The short is, you’re ready to cutover your production database to a new one in order to get more performance and better scaling going forward. During the cutover process you’ll want to:

  1. Pause traffic to the database
  2. Ensure your replication lag doesn’t exist
  3. Update your DATABASE_URL to the new Citus cluster
  4. Make sure you have your VPC/IP whitelisting configured
  5. Reset any sequences on your new database to current values

Flip it live, then make sure to keep an eye on things.

We want you to never have to worry about scaling your database again

At Citus, our mission is to make it so you never have to worry about scaling again. That’s why we call Citus “worry-free Postgres”.

Obviously the easier it is for you to migrate from your single-node Postgres database onto Citus, well, the easier it is for your SaaS application (and your customers!) to reap the performance benefits of scale-out compute, memory, and disk resources—plus the efficiencies of our parallelized queries. Hence this blog post. We want to make sure that those of you considering a move to Citus can leverage lessons learned by those who have come before you.

Have questions about how to make a database migration as simple as possible? Just contact us and let us know: we’ll be happy to help.

Planet PostgreSQLJoshua Drake: Silicon Valley Postgres Meetup: How to Auto-cache Postgres with no code changes

The first meeting of the Silicon Valley Postgres Meetup was last night. Amazon Web Services sponsored the facilities in Cupertino and Roland Lee from Hemdalldata presented on:

How to Auto-Cache Postgres with no code changes.

Roland Lee

There were about 20 people in attendance as well as another half a dozen that participated via Amazon Chime. Debbie Cerda, our Director of Business Development flew out from Austin, Tx to host. When we launched the Silicon Valley Meetup we wanted to ensure that it would not conflict with the well respected San Francisco PUG. Based on initial response, there is not a conflict and we are very happy about that. We attribute the lack of conflict two items:

  1. San Francisco is not part of the Silicon Valley
  2. During the times you would travel to a meetup, it will take you a minimum of 90 minutes to get from SF to SV. This is essentially driving from NYCPUG to PhillyPUG. People typically don't do that (Bruce Momjian excluded).

This has been further supported by the membership. Although the group launched less than a month ago we have over 130 members and less than 10% are members of both SFPUG and Silicon Valley PUG. It is nice to expand the coverage of Postgres people building. Please join us in continuing to build the community!

 

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Ars TechnicaMotorola redux? Google appears set to buy HTC

Enlarge / The all-glass back of the HTC U11. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Evidence is mounting that Google is going to buy HTC. Bloomberg's Tim Culpan is reporting HTC shares will halt trading tomorrow pending a "major announcement" from the company. The speculation is that the struggling smartphone and VR headset company is going to be sold, and further speculation suggests the buyer is Google.

The "Google to buy HTC" rumors have been churning for some time. The local Taiwan media has been reporting whispers of talks between the two companies since the beginning of September, and one site, Apple Daily, is reporting that the sale is already a done deal.

So what would Google want with HTC? Any tech watchers' mind should immediately jump to the last time Google bought a failing Android OEM: its acquisition of Motorola. Along with a ton of patents, Google got a bunch of factories dedicated to producing smartphones and other products. It sold off the parts it didn't want, like the cable modem business, and then it set about whipping Motorola into shape. After clearing the 18-month product pipeline the old Motorola execs left in place, Motorola turned into one of the better Android OEMs out there, offering stock Android, fast updates, and a simple lineup of about three main phones across the pricing spectrum. Google eventually got rid of Motorola, though, probably as a result of negotiations with other Android OEMs.

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Ars TechnicaMysterious flesh-eating bacteria is raging in Australia

Enlarge / A beach on Mornington Peninsula, a hotbed for the mysterious disease. (credit: Fir0002)

In the last year, cases of a ghastly but mysterious flesh-eating bacterial infection have more than doubled in Victoria, Australia, raising alarm among health experts.

There were 239 cases of the flesh-eating infections in the past 12 months, according to figures (PDF) released this week by health authorities. In 2016, there were only 102 reported cases, while 2015 and 2014 tallied just 58 and 47. And the rate of new infections is currently skyrocketing: in the past few months, case counts hit nine per week, according to Australia’s Nine News. The number of severe cases has also doubled.

While the rises alone are enough to worry health experts, the fact that virtually nothing is known about the cause of the infection has some dismayed.

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Hacker NewsAll the Lies About the Origins of ‘Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire’
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Ars TechnicaComcast looks forward to more mergers during Trump presidency

Enlarge / Comcast executive David Cohen testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the proposed merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast, on May 8, 2014. (credit: Getty Images | Drew Angerer)

President Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that his administration would take a tough stance against mergers and consider breaking up Comcast and other conglomerates. But nearly a year into his presidency, it's now clear to Comcast's top government official that the Trump administration will instead allow more mergers than the administration of Barack Obama.

"Overall, this president and this administration is likely less hostile to horizontal growth or even vertical growth in the telecom space and elsewhere," Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David Cohen said in an interview, according to a Recode article today.

Horizontal mergers are deals between companies that make the same goods or services and compete against each other, like the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger that was blocked by the Obama administration. (Cohen took the lead in pitching that deal to government regulators.) Vertical mergers join companies that operate at different levels of an industry's supply chain.

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Ars TechnicaDishonored: Death of the Outsider review—no gods, no kings

Enlarge / The game doesn't judge you for getting your hands dirty anymore.

Ten minutes into Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, I thought it was a slick standalone addition with smart mechanical improvements over its predecessor. An hour later, it was already my favorite Dishonored title to date.

That praise isn’t quite as effusive as it might sound. I've never gelled well with Dishonored’s joyless world. If there's a character you're not encouraged to torture or kill in a Dishonored game, it's because that character only exists to tell you how much worse off the steampunk world is elsewhere. Meanwhile, the assassination-centric plots are too focused on revenge to bother righting any of the endless societal wrongs.

In Death of the Outsider, somebody finally feels like doing something to fix... well, everything. That somebody is Billie Lurk, a major antagonist from the first game's DLC duology and major accomplice in Dishonored 2. After meeting up with her former mentor, Daud, the two hatch a plan to kill the one ultimately responsible for their planet's often supernatural ills.

Make a difference

True to its name, that “ultimate source of all evil” is the demigod of chaos called the Outsider. Since the Outsider is the one who usually bestows magical powers on people, Billie is denied most of the supernatural arsenal that other series protagonists have enjoyed. She does have a few tricks, however, and what her powers lack in quantity they make up for in quality and mechanical improvements.

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Adam Shostack & friends“The Readability Of Scientific Texts Is Decreasing Over Time”

There’s an interesting new paper at bioRXiv, “The Readability Of Scientific Texts Is Decreasing Over Time.”

Lower readability is also a problem for specialists (22, 23, 24). This was explicitly shown by Hartley (22) who demonstrated that rewriting scientific abstracts, to improve their readability, increased academics’ ability to comprehend them. While science is complex, and some jargon is unavoidable (25), this does not justify the continuing trend that we have shown.

Ironically, the paper is released as a PDF, which is hard to read on a mobile phone. There’s a tool, pandoc, which can easily create HTML versions from their LaTeX source. I encourage everyone who cares about their work being read to create HTML and ebook versions.

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Planet PostgreSQLBruce Momjian: Identifier Case Sensitivity

I last blogged about Postgres's handling of case sensitivity in 2012. A recent email thread requested that case sensitivity be configurable in Postgres.

Certainly, allowing case sensitivity to be configurable would help those porting from other databases. However, Postgres tools and libraries operate inside other applications, so if there was a case sensitivity setting, they couldn't change it. They would need to support the case sensitivity set by the client, meaning that every identifier would have to be double-quoted. It was concluded that this seems to be a bigger negative than the portability enhancement is a positive.

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Ars TechnicaLinda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger back for a new Terminator movie

Enlarge / Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. (credit: Studio Canal)

For fans of the 1984 thriller The Terminator and its 1991 action sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the sequels have been a consistent disappointment. I'm hesitant to get my hopes up too much—although I didn't hate Terminator Genisys as much as others did, it certainly wasn't the movie that its trailer had me hoping it would be—but there's a new Terminator movie in the works. Against my better judgment, I'm already quietly excited about it.

A few things make this movie different from the execrable Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the just-plain-boring Terminator Salvation, and the aforementioned Genisys, and all of them are cause for optimism.

First, the original and best Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton, is returning to the role. Hamilton's Connor transformed from a carefree big-haired waitress into a toned and trained killing machine of her own; her big-screen replacement in Genisys, Emilia Clarke, didn't have an ounce of her tough screen presence.

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Ars TechnicaMcLaren builds a virtual hypercar for the next Gran Turismo game

McLaren

Way back in the mists of time—OK, it was 2013—Polyphony Digital's Kazunori Yamauchi challenged the automotive world to think outside the box for Gran Turismo 6. Kaz wanted some unique concept cars for the game, and a bunch of car companies (as well as a few design studios and even Nike) signed on to the project, called Vision GT.

I must confess, I thought the idea dead and buried what with GT6 being four years old and yesterday's news. The Vision GT website hasn't been updated since 2015, and there are plenty of placeholders for concepts that never materialized (including one from Tesla that I'd love to see). But it seems the project is still alive, and in the lead-up to the next installment of the franchise—allegedly due this October—McLaren has created the Ultimate Vision Gran Turismo.

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Hacker NewsIntroducing Spaces: Scalable Object Storage on DigitalOcean
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