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The “Galaxy S20 Tactical Edition” is a shock-and-awe campaign against reality - Ars Technica
Samsung’s “mission-ready military smartphone” is a regular S20 with lots of hype.
81 with 68 posters participating
- The Galaxy S20 Tactical Edition! It has a case.
- This picture probably best describes what's going on. A Galaxy S20 goes in a case, and then the marketers take over.
- This photoshoot is incredible.
- You can use it with gloves! You can also use the regular S20 with gloves.
Microsoft’s romance with open source software is on display at Build 2020 - Ars Technica
But that hasn't stopped Edge from making out with Pinterest.
30 with 23 posters participating An absolute ton of new announcements has been coming out of this week's Microsoft Build 2020 virtual conference for Windows developers. While cool, most of them are a little thin for individual reportsso we'll get you up to speed on them in this roundup, with links out to each topic if you're interested in more. Windows Terminal goes 1.0
- Windows Terminal 1.0 settings are modified in a very Linux-y wayby editing a big JSON-formatted text file, which pops up in Notepad when accessed from the Settings menu.
- In addition to multiple tabs, you can open terminals in multiple panes on the same tab, using alt-shift-plus and alt-shift-minus to split vertically and horizontally.
- Obnoxiously, splitting a terminal into panes forces those panes into the default shell, no matter what the shell originally in that tab was. You can get around that by running a different interpreter inside that pane, once split.
- If you're looking for a single pane of glass into Windows servers, Linux servers, Azure services, and K8s containers, here it is.
- Arc aims to bring cloud-centric practices into on-premises infrastructure (and developers).
- This Azure Data Studio screenshot includes some Arc managed database services.
This SpaceX / NASA launch is a big deal, right? We’ll ask an astronaut who knows - Ars Technica
Karen Nyberg will be watching the Crew Dragon mission closely—her husband is its commander.
33 with 28 posters participating Next week is finally looking like the time when American astronauts return to the International Space Station on American rockets. For nearly a decade, NASA and the US space industry have been relying on Russia and its Soyuz rocket for rides to and from the ISS. But ever since NASA awarded Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, and Blue Origin development agreements in spring 2011, the hope has always been that one of these private US companies might become the country's next space-taxi service (the first private company to do so). SpaceX has reached the launch pad before its competitors, and now many space enthusiasts will be eagerly watching what happens on May 27 when the company's Falcon 9 rocket is set to take off from Kennedy Space Center at 4:32pm ET (20:32 UTC). Recently retired NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg knows the anxiety and excitement of launch day quite well. She served a total of 180 days in space in 2008 and 2013, flying into orbit both on the space shuttle and Soyuz vehicle. To prepare for her six-month stint to the ISS, Nyberg spent months learning the Russian language and traveling to Russia and Kazakhstan, even as it kept her away from her young son. And next week, she'll be keeping a particularly close eye on SpaceX and NASA's big launchher husband, fellow astronaut Doug Hurley, is the commander of SpaceX's first Crew Dragon mission. Crazy and exciting all at the same time, right? This Thursday, May 21, at 2:30pm EST (18:30 UTC/11:30am PT), Ars Technica Senior Space Editor Eric Berger will sit down with Nyberg to discuss the personal and professional challenges in facing the unknown in our next Ars live chat. They'll talk about her career, how she and Doug met as astronaut candidates, what it was like to raise a son while in space, and her feelings in anticipation of this high-profile, upcoming mission. In this socially distant, video-chatted conversation, Nyberg will field questions from Ars and readers to help us understand how monumental this moment could be and how Herculean the task of heading to the ISS still is in 2020. The discussion will happen through the livestreaming app Periscope and will be hosted on the Ars Technica Twitter account (@arstechnicayou can certainly @ us with questions). But we'll also embed the video below once things get underway for those who prefer to sit tight onsite. In the meantime, let us know what you'd like to ask by sharing the most urgent questions on your mind in the comments below.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 will be remastered for a second time in Sept 2020 - Ars Technica
Teased by Hawk himself as a text message to fans before YouTube reveal.
29 with 26 posters participating, including story author
- Tony Hawk is back. Again.
- THPS 1 from the PlayStation 1.
- THPS 1 from the PlayStation 1.
- Downhill jam (but not the game Downhill Jam).
- It's unclear whether we should expect a dynamic lighting model or if each level will have pre-baked lighting, but either way, this looks pretty slick.
- Will all of these artists have their same songs from the original two games? We're waiting to hear.
- Split-screen returns, thank goodness.
- In addition to the nicely cooked trailer footage, we also got some footage of the game's current alpha build, which is blurrier.
- Another shot from the game's current alpha build.
- The trailer's game footage, unsurprisingly, looks crisperbut it doesn't look like "bullshot," especially given the derpy face on that skater's model.
- Current-gen lighting tricks look handsome here.
AT&T CEO retiring as telco plans for three years of cost cuts and layoffs - Ars Technica
AT&T executive John Stankey will take over from Randall Stephenson on July 1.
Enlarge/ AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson speaking at an investor event at Warner Bros. Studios on October 29, 2019 in Burbank, California. 49 with 41 posters participating AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is retiring at the end of June and handing the reins to executive John Stankey, who will lead the telco through a multi-year cost-cutting program. Stankey, the company president and COO, will become CEO on July 1, AT&T announced today. Stephenson "will serve as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors until January 2021 to ensure a smooth leadership transition." Stephenson, 60, has been AT&T's CEO since 2007; he began his AT&T career in 1982 with Southwestern Bell Telephone, a subsidiary. "Stankey's selection as AT&T's next CEO completes the final phase of a succession planning process that AT&T's Board began in 2017, which included a thorough evaluation of internal and external candidates," today's announcement said.Enlarge/ AT&T executive John Stankey. Stankey, 57, has been with AT&T since 1985 and has been president and COO since October 2019. He has recently taken on a more prominent role as part of succession planning. Last month, Stankey detailed a cost-cutting plan to "generate double digits of billions over a 3-year planning cycle." That will include job cuts, which Stankey called "headcount rationalization." Stankey gave a lower savings number when talking to investors this week, saying, "We're working on 10 broad areas of opportunity that we expect will deliver $6 billion in cost savings over the next three years and improve market effectiveness, everything from IT and field operations to call centers and retail distribution." AT&T lost another 897,000 premium TV subscribers in Q1 2020, as DirecTV customers continue to flee in droves. AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015 under Stephenson's leadership. AT&T has lost more than 4 million TV customers over the past year. AT&T's mobile business remains a big moneymaker, but overall company revenue in Q1 2020 was $42.8 billion, down from $44.8 billion in last year's first quarter. AT&T's WarnerMedia division, a result of Stephenson's Time Warner acquisition, reported a 12.2-percent year-over-year revenue decline and expects tough times ahead as the pandemic forced the cancellation of big sporting events and TV and film production. AT&T had 244,490 employees at the end of March. The company had 268,220 employees at the end of 2018 but cut more than 20,000 jobs in 2019 and another 3,310 in Q1 2020. In March, Stankey said AT&T plans "additional work" in the "headcount-rationalization" area, meaning more job cuts are on the way. AT&T has conducted heavy layoffs over the past couple of years despite Stephenson claiming AT&T would use a corporate tax cut to create thousands of jobs. In today's succession announcement, Stephenson said he looks forward to working with Stankey "as the leadership team moves forward on our strategic initiatives while navigating the difficult economic and health challenges currently facing our country and the world. John has the right experiences and skills, and the unflinching determination every CEO needs to act on his convictions." Stankey said he "couldn't be more excited about the new opportunities we have to serve our customers and communities and create value for our shareholders." After Stephenson leaves the board-chairman position, AT&T said it "will elect an independent director" as a new chairperson. Having separate people as CEO and chair is a concession AT&T made to an activist investor group in October 2019. AT&T also promised to make "no major acquisitions" over the next three years. AT&T's acquisitions have contributed to a long-term debt load of $147.2 billion, which AT&T is focusing on reducing. Stephenson's total compensation in 2019 was $32.03 million, while Stankey's was $22.47 million.
Some shirts hide you from cameras—but will anyone wear them? - Ars Technica
It's theoretically possible to become invisible to cameras. But can it catch on?
14 with 12 posters participating Right now, you're more than likely spending the vast majority of your time at home. Someday, however, we will all be able to leave the house once again and emerge, blinking, into society to work, travel, eat, play, and congregate in all of humanity's many bustling crowds. The world, when we eventually enter it again, is waiting for us with millions of digital eyescameras, everywhere, owned by governments and private entities alike. Pretty much every state out there has some entity collecting license plate data from millions of carsparked or on the roadevery day. Meanwhile all kinds of camerasfrom police to airlines, retailers, and your neighbors' doorbellsare watching you every time you step outside, and unscrupulous parties are offering facial recognition services with any footage they get their hands on. In short, it's not great out there if you're a person who cares about privacy, and it's likely to keep getting worse. In the long run, pressure on state and federal regulators to enact and enforce laws that can limit the collection and use of such data is likely to be the most efficient way to effect change. But in the shorter term, individuals have a conundrum before them: can you go out and exist in the world without being seen? Systems are dumber than people You, a person, have one of the best pattern-recognition systems in the entire world lodged firmly inside your head: the human brain. People are certainly easy to fool in many waysno argument there. But when it comes to recognizing something as basic as a car, stop sign, or fellow human beingliterally the kinds of items that babies and toddlers learn to identify before they can say the wordsfooling cameras is in many ways easier than fooling people. We're simply trained by broad experience to look at things differently than software is. For example, if you're driving down the road and see a stop sign at night, you still know it's supposed to be "red." And if it has some weird stickers on it, to you it is still fundamentally a stop sign. It's just one that someone, for some reason, has defaced. A car, however, may instead "read" that sign as a speed limit sign, indicating it should go up to 45 miles per hour, with potentially disastrous results. Similarly, a person looking at another person with a weird hairstyle and splotches of makeup on their face will see a human, sporting a weird hairstyle and with makeup on their face. But projects such as CV Dazzle have shown that, when applied in a certain way, makeup and hair styling can be used to make a person effectively invisible to facial recognition systems. Heavy, patterned makeup and hair straight out of a JRPG are impractical for daily life, but all of us put on some kind of clothing to leave the house. As Ars' own Jonathan Gitlin has described, the idea of using the "ugly shirt" to render oneself invisible to cameras has been a part of science fiction for a decade or more. But today, there are indeed computer scientists and artists working to make invisibility as simple as a shirt or a scarf... in theory, at least. Digital and physical invisibility Two decades of Harry Potter in the public imagination have cemented for millions the idea that a cloak of invisibility itself should be lightweight and hard to perceive. The reality, on the other hand, is not exactly subtleand still very much a work in progress. "If you wanted to do like a Mission Impossible-style heist of the Smithsonian, I don't think you'd want to rely on this cloak to not be detected by a security system," computer science professor Tom Goldstein, of the University of Maryland, told Ars in an interview. Goldstein and a team of students late last year published a paper studying "adversarial attacks on state-of-the-art object detection frameworks." In short, they looked at how some of the algorithms that allow for the detection of people in images work, then subverted them basically by tricking the code into thinking it was looking at something else. Enlarge/ The bright adversarial pattern, which a human viewer can darn-near see from space, renders the wearer invisible to the software looking at him. It turns out, confounding software into not realizing what it's looking at is a matter of fooling several different smaller systems at once. Think about a person, for example. Now think of a person who looks nothing like that. And now do it again. Humanity, after all, contains multitudes, and a person can have many different appearances. A machine learning system needs to understand the diverse array of different inputs that, put together, mean "person." A nose by itself won't do it; an eye alone will not suffice; anything could have a mouth. But put dozens or hundreds of those priors together, and you've got enough for an object detector. Code does not "think" in terms of facial features, the way a human does, but it does look for and classify features in its own way. To foil it, the "cloaks" need to interfere with most or all of those priors. Simply obscuring some of them is not enough. Facial recognition systems used in China, for example, have been trained to identify people who are wearing medical masks while trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or other illnesses.And of course, to make the task even more challenging, different object detection frameworks all use different mechanisms to detect people, Goldstein explained. "We have different cloaks that are designed for different kinds of detectors, and they transfer across detectors, and so a cloak designed for one detector might also work on another detector," he said. But even when you get it to work across a number of different systems, making it work consistently is another layer. "One of the things we did in our research was to quantify how often these things work and the variability of the scenarios in which they work," he said. "Before, they got it to work once, and if the lighting conditions were different, for example, maybe it doesn't work anymore, right?" People move. We breathe, we turn around, we pass through light and shadow with different backgrounds, patterns, and colors around us. Making something that works when you're standing in a plain white room, lit for a photo session, is different from making something that works when you're shopping in a big-box store or walking down the street. Goldstein explained: Modifying an image is different than modifying a thing, right? If you give me an image, I can say: we'll make this pixel intensity over here different, make that pixel intensity over there a little more red, right? Because I have access to the pixels, I can change the individual bits that encode that image file. But when I make a cloak, I don't have that ability. I'm going to make a physical object and then a detector is going to input the image of me and pass the result to a computer. So when you have to make an adversarial attack in the physical world, it has to survive the detection process. And that makes it much more difficult to craft reliable attacks. All of the digital simulations run on the cloak worked with 100-percent effectiveness, he added. But in the real world, "the reliability degrades." The tech has room for improvement. "How good can they get? Right now I think we're still at the prototype stage," he told Ars. "You can produce these things that, when you wear them in some situations, they work. It's just not reliable enough that I would tell people, you know, you can put this on and reliably evade surveillance."