Gizmodo We come from the future
- There’s Another ‘+’ on the Market: Pearson+, the Wannabe Netflix for College Textbooks
As if there weren’t enough services with a “+” in their name, here’s another for your list: Pearson+, the wannabe Netflix for college textbooks. Read more...
- Apple Yanks Anti-Vax Version of Tinder From the App Store
Apple has yanked Unjected, an app that bills itself as “a safe space for the unvaccinated to come together uncensored through business, friendship, or love,” from the App Store. The company said that Unjected violated its covid-19 policies and tried to get around the App Store review process, which in itself is… Read more...
- Knights of Sidonia Animated Feature Film Headed to Theaters
Demon Slayer: Mugen Train movie was a huge box office hit for the entertainment company and streaming service Funimation. Riding high on the success of that, the company is set to release another animated film, Knights of Sidonia: Love Woven in the Stars, based on the manga from Tsutomu Nihei. Read more...
- Tomb Raider's Alicia Vikander Has an Update About the Movie Sequel
Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander opens up about the status of Tomb Raider 2. Read more...
- Jaws Musical Bruce Set to Hit the Seattle Stage Next Year
Bruce is the new musical from the Seattle Repertory Theater based on Jaws’ screenwriter Carl Gottlieb’s memoir The Jaws Log. Read more...
- Over 100 warship locations have been faked in one year
Abuses of location technology might just result in hot political disputes. According to Wired, SkyWatch and Global Fishing Watch have conducted studies showing that over 100 warship locations have been faked since August 2020, including the British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and the US destroyer Roosevelt. In some cases, the false data showed the vessels entering disputed waters or nearing other countries' naval bases — movements that could spark international incidents. The research team found the fakes by comparing uses of the automatic identification system (AIS, a GPS-based system to help prevent collisions) with verifiable position data by using an identifying pattern. All of the false info came from shore-based AIS receivers while satellites showed the real positions, for instance. Global Fishing Watch had been investigating fake AIS positions for years, but this was the first time it had seen falsified data for real ships. It's not certain who's faking locations and why. However, analysts said the data was characteristic of a common perpetrator that might be Russia. Almost all of the affected warships were from European countries or NATO members, and the data included bogus incursions around Kaliningrad, the Black Sea, Crimea and other Russian interests. In theory, Russia could portray Europe and NATO as aggressors by falsely claiming those rivals sent warships into Russian seas. Russia has historically denied hacking claims. It has a years-long history of using fake accounts and misinformation to stoke political tensions that further its own ends, though. And if Russia is connected, the faked warship locations might be a significant escalation of that strategy. Even though such an approach might not lead to shooting matches, it could get disconcertingly close.
- People first drove on the Moon 50 years ago today
NASA just celebrated another major moment in the history of Moon exploration. The New York Timesnoted that July 31st, 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the Lunar Roving Vehicle's first outing — and the first time people drove on the Moon. Apollo 15 astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin took the car on a stint to collect samples and explore the lunar surface more effectively than they could on foot. Scott and Irwin would eventually drive the rover two more times (for a total of three hours) before returning to Earth. The Apollo 16 and 17 missions each had an LRV of their own. There was also a fourth rover, but it was used for spare parts after the cancellation of Apollo 18 and further missions. All three serving models remained on the Moon. Early development was problematic, in no small part due to the lack of real-world testing conditions. They couldn't exactly conduct a real-world test drive, after all. The team eventually settled on a collapsible design with steel mesh wheels that could safely handle the Moon's low gravity, lack of atmosphere, extreme temperatures and soft soil. The LRV was modest, with a 57-mile range, four 0.19kW motors and an official top speed of 8MPH. It was also expensive, with cost overruns bringing the price of four rovers to $38 million (about $249 million in 2021 dollars). It was key to improved scientific exploration during the later stages of the Apollo program, though, and it was also an early example of a practical electric vehicle — humans were using a battery-powered ride on the Moon decades before the technology became mainstream on Earth. We wouldn't count on humans driving on the Moon any time soon, although that reflects the progress made in the 50 years since. NASA and other space agencies are now focused on robotic rovers that can explore the Moon without worries about crew safety. Those humans that do go on rides will likely use autonomous vehicles. Think of this anniversary as celebrating a first step toward the technology you see today.
- Rivian may build its first international EV factory in the UK
Rivian might not be focused solely on expanding its US production. Sky Newssources claim the EV designer is in talks with the British government to build a manufacturing plant near Bristol. The discussions aren't yet in late stages, but the focus is reportedly on production for the vehicles themselves rather than batteries, although there was room for an all-encompassing Tesla-style gigafactory. Rival proposals have come from Germany and the Netherlands, Sky claimed. If the UK plant did go ahead, though, the government could supposedly invest "well over" £1 billion (about $1.39 billion). Rivian declined to comment. There's certainly pressure to commit to international expansion. Rivian has just one factory, a former Mitsubishi plant in Illinois, and it only just unveiled plans for a second American facility that might also produce batteries. That output could limit potential sales, especially outside of North America, and might hamper Amazon's electric delivery van rollout. This could help Rivian scale to counter rivals like Tesla and Volkswagen, both of which are rapidly growing their EV manufacturing bases. The UK intends to ban sales of combustion engine cars in 2035, and that means switching local production to EVs. A Rivian factory could help the country transition to EV manufacturing, not to mention encourage sales that would make public acceptance that much stronger.
- Apple pulls anti-vax social app over misinformation (updated)
Mobile app shops are cracking down on one of the higher-profile communities spreading anti-vax misnformation. Bloombergreports that Apple has removed Unjected, a hybrid social and dating app for the unvaccinated, for "inappropriately" referencing the COVID-19 pandemic's concept and themes. While Unjected bills itself as a place to find others who support "medical autonomy and free speech," social posts on the site have included false claims that vaccines modify genes, connect to 5G and serve as "bioweapons." The app founders are also embroiled in a fight over their Android app. Google told Unjected on July 16th that it had two weeks to remove the misleading posts from its app to avoid a Play Store ban. The developers responded by pulling the social feed. However, co-creator Shelby Thompson said Unjected planned to defy the request by restoring both the feed and the offending posts. We've asked Apple and Google for comment. Unjected still has a presence on Instagram despite that social network's anti-misinformation stance, although that account mostly promotes its views on "freedom" and only occasionally mentions falsehoods, such as incorrect claims that mRNA vaccines alter DNA. We've asked Facebook for a response as well. Unjected is small compared to mainstream social networks, with roughly 18,000 app downloads (according to Apptopia). However, the crackdown clearly serves as a warning — Apple and Google won't tolerate apps that knowingly accept and encourage the creation anti-vax content, even if they aren't directly producing that material. Update 7/31 6:18PM ET: Apple told Engadget that Unjected violated rules demanding reliable COVID-19 information from trustworthy sources, like health agencies and medical institutions. The tech firm further accused Unjected of less-than-honest tactics. The app producer reversed changes made to comply with App Store rules, and encouraged users to help it dodge those rules by avoiding the use of telltale words. Trying to cheat the system is itself grounds for a ban, according to Apple. Don't expect Unjected to come back.
- DOJ: Hackers behind SolarWinds attacks targeted federal prosecutors
The perpetrators of the SolarWinds hacks apparently targeted key parts of the American legal system. According to the AP, the Justice Department says hackers targeted federal prosecutors between May 2020 and December 2020. There were 27 US Attorney offices where the intruders compromised at least one email account, officials said. The victims included some of the more prominent federal offices, including those in the Eastern and Souther Districts of New York as well as Miami, Los Angeles and Washington. The DOJ said it had alerted all victims and was taking steps to blunt the risks resulting from the hack. The Department previously said there was no evidence the SolarWinds hackers broke into classified systems, but federal attorneys frequently exchange sensitive case details. The Biden administration has officially blamed Russia's state-backed Cozy Bear group for the hacks, and retaliated by expelling diplomats and sanctioning 32 "entities and individuals." Russia has denied involvement. It's not certain if the US will escalate its response. The damage has already been done, after all. This further illustrates the severity of the attacks, however, and hints at the focus — they were clearly interested in legal data in addition to source code and other valuable information.