The Internet broke today: Facebook, Verizon, and more see major outages

The Internet broke today: Facebook, Verizon, and more see major outages

Enlarge / The Internet this week, more or less (credit: torange.biz (modified))

Last week, Verizon caused a major BGP misroute that took large chunks of the Internet, including CDN company Cloudflare, partially down for a day. This week, the rest of the Internet has apparently asked Verizon to hold its beer.

Cloudflare went down again for half an hour yesterday, and this time, it was the company’s own fault—we’re still waiting on a full post-mortem, but the short version is that a firewall regular expression rule targeting malicious Javascript spiked the firewalls’ CPU usage, crippling throughput and causing widespread HTTP 502 errors. Microsoft’s Office365 also seems to have experienced a multi-hour partial outage yesterday, with the service working over some ISPs and routes but not others for about four hours.

Facebook and

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FaceTime feature in iOS 13 feigns eye contact during video calls

FaceTime feature in iOS 13 feigns eye contact during video calls

Enlarge / The cameras on iPhones are getting (selectively) smarter. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple introduced several of the headlining features of its upcoming iOS 13 during WWDC, but people playing with the closed beta version have uncovered some additional tools. One newly found addition is FaceTime Attention Correction, which adjusts the image during a FaceTime video call to make it look like a person is looking into the camera rather than at their device’s screen.

In practice, that means that while both you and your contact are looking at each other’s faces, you’ll both appear to be making direct eye contact. Mike Rundle and Will Sigmon were the first to tweet about the find, and they describe it as uncanny, “next-century shit.” Another beta tester, Dave Schukin, posited that the feature relies on ARKit to make a map of a person’s face and use that to inform the

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Permafrost experiment shows surprising amount of CO₂ release

Permafrost experiment shows surprising amount of CO₂ release

Enlarge / The study took place near Denali National Park, pictured here. (credit: faungg’s photos / flickr)

Emissions from burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, and agricultural practices aren’t the only things that control how high atmospheric CO2 will go in the future. There are also feedbacks in the Earth’s climate system, where warming temperatures cause the release of carbon into the atmosphere. One of these is the release of carbon from permafrost as it thaws and decays.

Unlike emissions, which we can control through actions like retiring a coal-burning power plant, humans can only indirectly change the behavior of these feedbacks—the sooner we halt warming, the smaller their emissions will be. Figuring out exactly how much (and how fast) those feedbacks will emit is a major challenge for climate science.

A striking new study led by César Plaza works on the first step of this challenge: measuring

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Neanderthals’ history is as complicated as ours

Neanderthals’ history is as complicated as ours

Enlarge / The upper and lower jawbones of a juvenile Neanderthal girl who lived in Belgium around 127,000 years ago. (credit: Peyrégne et al. 2019)

DNA preserved in ancient bones and teeth has recently helped scientists reconstruct how groups of ancient humans migrated and mingled, and a new study now does the same thing for Neanderthals. Neanderthals lived in Eurasia for around 400,000 years, and it would be a huge stretch to assume they spent all that time as one big homogeneous population or that different groups of Neanderthals never migrated and mixed.

Thanks to ancient DNA, we can now begin to see how Neanderthal groups moved around Eurasia long before Homo sapiens entered the mix.

Neanderthals on the move

Evolutionary geneticist Stéphane Peyrégne and his colleagues recently sequenced DNA from two Neanderthals, both just over 120,000 years old. One set of DNA comes from the upper jaw of a

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DEAL: Best Buy Selling Unlocked Pixel 3a for $199 Through Sprint

DEAL: Best Buy Selling Unlocked Pixel 3a for $199 Through Sprint


If you’re on Sprint and in need of a new phone or looking to add a line, you can pick up an unlocked Pixel 3a for only $199 via Best Buy. That’s $200 off its usual $399 price.

The way this deal works is, you’ll add the unlocked variant to your cart and also choose the Sprint activation option. From here you can either add a line or become a Sprint customer. From looking over Sprint’s pricing options, there’s a $30 activation fee, along with its cheapest plan of $30/month. There are no additional monthly payments for the device, just the initial $199 you pay.

While that’s all fine and dandy, the interesting part is that there doesn’t appear to be anything keeping someone from activating this Sprint line and then cancelling it, essentially pocketing the $399 unlocked Pixel 3a phone for what adds up … Read the rest

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T-Mobile enemy Dish could help save the T-Mobile/Sprint merger

T-Mobile enemy Dish could help save the T-Mobile/Sprint merger

Enlarge / A field service specialist for Dish Network prepares to install a satellite TV system at a residence in Denver, Colorado, on Aug. 6, 2013. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

T-Mobile US and Sprint are reportedly near a deal to sell spectrum, wholesale network access, and Sprint’s Boost Mobile subsidiary to Dish as part of an attempt to gain government approval of their merger. But US antitrust officials reportedly want bigger concessions before they’ll approve the T-Mobile/Sprint combination.

T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint would leave the US with three instead of the current four major wireless carriers. The Department of Justice, which could sue to block the deal, has apparently pushed T-Mobile to make divestitures that would set up a fourth major carrier to replace Sprint. That has left T-Mobile negotiating with Dish, which opposed the T-Mobile/Sprint merger. The companies’ feud is a two-way street, with T-Mobile repeatedly criticizing Dish

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30,000 followers makes you an Internet “celebrity,” says UK ad regulator

30,000 followers makes you an Internet “celebrity,” says UK ad regulator

Enlarge / Some voices shout more loudly into the abyss of the Internet than others. (credit: getty | Thomas Barwick)

One of the stranger questions of our modern era: when does being “Internet famous” translate into being, well, actually famous? According to a UK regulator, the magic number is 30,000 followers.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) issued a ruling Wednesday in a case featuring drugmaker Sanofi. A British lifestyle blogger with 32,000 Instagram followers shared a sponsored post in February featuring an image of, and talking about, one of Sanofi’s products, an antihistamine and sleep aid called Phenergan Night Time tablets.

The ASA said the Instagram ad constituted celebrity endorsement of a medication, which is not allowed under UK law. Sanofi responded that the 32,000 followers that particular lifestyle blogger had at the time was significantly fewer than major celebrities such as comedian Stephen Fry (359,000 followers) or

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Report: Microsoft still planning a low-cost, streaming-focused Xbox

Report: Microsoft still planning a low-cost, streaming-focused Xbox

At this year’s E3, Microsoft had a lot to say about its high-end Xbox One successor (code-named “Project Scarlett”) and about its previously announced (and newly demoed) Project Xcloud streaming gaming service. But the company was less forthcoming about long-standing reports of low-cost, streaming-focused Microsoft hardware that would bring Xcloud games to the TV easily.

In a new video, Thurrott’s Brad Sams (who has a strong track record when it comes to reporting insider information from Microsoft) says that the streaming box is “still being actively developed” inside Microsoft despite the continued public silence from the company itself. “I’m hearing this project has not been killed and is being actively worked on.”

According to Sams, Microsoft’s streaming hardware would “make the [streaming] gaming experience just a little bit better than if it was playing from a TV or something like that.” That’s because the low-end hardware would itself

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Amazon confirms it keeps your Alexa recordings basically forever

Amazon confirms it keeps your Alexa recordings basically forever

Enlarge / “Alexa, does my voice really sound like that?” (credit: Amazon)

If you (like so many of us) hate listening to recordings of your own voice, you may be in for an unpleasant future, as Amazon has confirmed it hangs on to every conversation you’ve ever had with an Alexa-enabled device until or unless you specifically delete them.

That confirmation comes as a response to a list of questions Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in May expressing “concerns” seeking about how Amazon uses and retains customers’ Alexa voice assistant data.

Amazon’s response to Coons, as first reported by CNET, confirms that the company keeps your data as long as it wants unless you deliberately specify otherwise.

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Verizon Might be Readying New Do, Play, and More Unlimited Plans

Verizon Might be Readying New Do, Play, and More Unlimited Plans


Verizon may be on the verge of an entire unlimited plan makeover after not having introduced anything new in unlimited in over a year. The Verizon site updated in recent weeks with an info box that mentioned Do, Play, and More Unlimited plans, none of which are currently an option from Verizon.

I traced the change as far back as June 24, so the names of these potentially-new plans have been hiding in plain site for some time. They were discovered today over at reddit and then almost immediately removed. The new Do, Play, and More Unlimited plans can no longer be seen on the live Verizon site.

In the first image here, you can see all three plans listed on Verizon’s 5G phones page as if all three will be eligible for use with 5G. In the second image, which is how the site currently shows, only Above … Read the rest

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