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    Musk stiffed Twitter vendors and dared them to sue—dozens did just that / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 7 September - 13:00

Collage of US paper money and dice with the logos of Twitter and X.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

When Elon Musk bought Twitter in October 2022, a fairly ordinary tech company was transformed into a most unusual private corporation. Many strange things have happened at the Musk-owned social network, but this article will focus on just one puzzling aspect of Musk's leadership: His apparent refusal to pay bills.

Over two dozen lawsuits alleged that Twitter—which rebranded itself as "X" in late July—refused to pay money owed to vendors who started providing services to the company before Musk bought it. In fact, suing X seems to be the most effective method of collecting on unpaid invoices. This article will provide a summary of each lawsuit and an update on each case's status.

X agreed to settle some of the allegations, allowing some vendors to recoup at least part of what they were owed. Settlement talks are proceeding in other cases, and at least one went to arbitration. But X has taken a hard stance in fighting some unpaid-bill lawsuits, and several could head to jury trials.

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    Review: AMD’s Radeon RX 7700 XT and 7800 XT are almost great / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September - 13:00

AMD's Radeon RX 7800 XT.

Enlarge / AMD's Radeon RX 7800 XT. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Nearly a year ago, Nvidia kicked off this GPU generation with its GeForce RTX 4090 . The 4090 offers unparalleled performance but at an unparalleled price of $1,600 (prices have not fallen). It's not for everybody, but it's a nice halo card that shows what the Ada Lovelace architecture is capable of. Fine, I guess.

The RTX 4080 soon followed, along with AMD's Radeon RX 7900 XTX and XT . These cards also generally offered better performance than anything you could get from a previous-generation GPU, but at still-too-high-for-most-people prices that ranged from between $900 and $1,200 (though all of those prices have fallen by a bit). Fine, I guess.

By the time we got the 4070 Ti launch in May, we were getting down to the level of performance that had been available from previous-generation cards. These GPUs offered a decent generational jump over their predecessors (the 4070 Ti performs kind of like a 3090, and the 4070 performs kind of like a 3080). But those cards also got big price bumps that took them closer to the pricing levels of the last-gen cards they performed like. Fine, I guess.

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    What happens when you test the real-world efficiency of hybrids and EVs? / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 15 August - 11:00

A collection of EVs and hybrids

Enlarge / The assorted cars ready for EcoRun 2023. (credit: Blake Jennings)

How do you put EPA mileage numbers to the test? You could buy a wind tunnel and a lab and start doing a massive science experiment. Or you could find 20 auto writers, put them in 20 different cars, and tell them they're in a contest of efficiency where the winner gets bragging rights.

Every year, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada does the latter. About 20 of the country's top journalists come to take part in EcoRun, an event where automakers are invited to bring their most efficient models to one place for three days of fighting to use less.

In the past, it was all gas and diesel, but as the market has changed, so has the EcoRun lineup. This year, every vehicle had some form of electrification, and about half were fully electric.

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    Next-gen OSDP was supposed to make it harder to break in to secure facilities. It failed. / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 9 August - 14:30 · 1 minute

Next-gen OSDP was supposed to make it harder to break in to secure facilities. It failed.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Researchers have discovered a suite of vulnerabilities that largely break a next-generation protocol that was designed to prevent the hacking of access control systems used at secure facilities on US military bases and buildings belonging to federal, state, and local governments and private organizations.

The next-generation mechanism, known as Secure Channel, was added about 10 years ago to an open standard known as OSDP, short for the Open Supervised Device Protocol . Like an earlier protocol, known as Wiegand , OSDP provides a framework for connecting card readers, fingerprint scanners, and other types of peripheral devices to control panels that check the collected credentials against a database of valid personnel. When credentials match, the control panel sends a message that opens a door, gate, or other entry system.

Broken before getting out the gate

OSDP came about in the aftermath of an attack demonstrated in 2008 at the BlackHat security conference. In a talk there, researcher Zac Franken demonstrated a device dubbed Gecko, which was no bigger than a US quarter. When surreptitiously inserted by a would-be intruder into the wiring behind a peripheral device, Gecko performed an adversary-in-the-middle attack that monitors all communications sent to and from the control panel.

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    How we host Ars, the finale and the 64-bit future / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 9 August - 13:00

How we host Ars, the finale and the 64-bit future

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Greetings, dear readers, and congratulations—we've reached the end of our four-part series on how Ars Technica is hosted in the cloud, and it has been a journey. We've gone through our infrastructure , our application stack , and our CI/CD strategy (that's "continuous integration and continuous deployment"—the process by which we manage and maintain our site's code).

Now, to wrap things up, we have a bit of a grab bag of topics to go through. In this final part, we'll discuss some leftover configuration details I didn't get a chance to dive into in earlier parts—including how our battle-tested liveblogging system works (it's surprisingly simple, and yet it has withstood millions of readers hammering at it during Apple events). We'll also peek at how we handle authoritative DNS.

Finally, we'll close on something that I've been wanting to look at for a while: AWS's cloud-based 64-bit ARM service offerings. How much of our infrastructure could we shift over onto ARM64-based systems, how much work will that be, and what might the long-term benefits be, both in terms of performance and costs?

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    Formula E’s first visit to a proper American racetrack saw packed stands / ArsTechnica · Friday, 28 July - 11:00 · 1 minute

A Jaguar Formula E car with Mt Hood in the background

Enlarge / I can think of maybe one other race track that has a volcano for a backdrop. (credit: Sam Bloxham/Formula E)

Jaguar Land Rover provided a flight from Washington, DC, to Portland and two nights in a hotel so we could attend the Formula E race. Ars does not accept paid editorial content.

PORTLAND, Ore.—This year's Formula E season draws to a close this weekend, with the final two rounds taking place in London. The title fight is a three-way contest, with Avalanche Andretti's Jake Dennis leading Envision Racing's Nick Cassidy and Jaguar TCS Racing's Mitch Evans. Last month, the series held a race here in the US on the opposite coast of its traditional home in Brooklyn. Formula E did something outside its comfort zone, holding a race at permanent road course—Portland International Speedway. And as Ars found out, it was a good decision; this leafy race track with its volcano backdrop felt like a much better venue for Formula E than a humid parking lot next to the Hudson River.

It was also our first opportunity to see the series' new cars in action, and they're significantly lighter and more powerful than the Gen2 machines . As ever, the drivers have a lot of work to do to manage energy in the cars, thanks to restricted telemetry to their engineers in the pit lane and new tires that prioritize sustainability over outright grip.

This isn’t a city center street circuit

Portland was not the first Formula E race we've attended; we were on hand to see the series' rather chaotic Miami ePrix in 2015, and Ars logos even ran on a pair of cars at that year's London ePrix . Miami was not a repeat event for the sport, and the Long Beach ePrix in California was held only twice, in 2015 and 2016.

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    How we host Ars Technica in the cloud, part two: The software / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 26 July - 13:00 · 1 minute

Welcome aboard the orbital HQ, readers!

Enlarge / Welcome aboard the orbital HQ, readers! (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Welcome back to our series on how Ars Technica is hosted and run! Last week, in part one , we cracked open the (virtual) doors to peek inside the Ars (virtual) data center. We talked about our Amazon Web Services setup, which is primarily built around ECS containers being spun up as needed to handle web traffic, and we walked through the ways that all of our hosting services hook together and function as a whole.

This week, we shift our focus to a different layer in the stack—the applications we run on those services and how they work in the cloud. Those applications, after all, are what you come to the site for; you’re not here to marvel at a smoothly functioning infrastructure but rather to actually read the site. (I mean, I’m guessing that’s why you come here. It’s either that or everyone is showing up hoping I’m going to pour ketchup on myself and launch myself down a Slip-'N-Slide , but that was a one-time thing I did a long time ago when I was young and needed the money.)

How traditional WordPress hosting works

Although I am, at best, a casual sysadmin, having hung up my pro spurs a decade and change ago, I do have some relevant practical experience hosting WordPress. I’m currently the volunteer admin for a half-dozen WordPress sites, including Houston-area weather forecast destination Space City Weather (along with its Spanish-language counterpart Tiempo Ciudad Espacial ), the Atlantic hurricane-focused blog The Eyewall , my personal blog, and a few other odds and ends.

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    The IBM mainframe: How it runs and why it survives / ArsTechnica · Monday, 24 July - 11:00

A Z16 Mainframe.

Enlarge / A Z16 Mainframe.

Mainframe computers are often seen as ancient machines—practically dinosaurs. But mainframes, which are purpose-built to process enormous amounts of data, are still extremely relevant today. If they’re dinosaurs, they’re T-Rexes, and desktops and server computers are puny mammals to be trodden underfoot.

It’s estimated that there are 10,000 mainframes in use today. They’re used almost exclusively by the largest companies in the world, including two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, 45 of the world’s top 50 banks, eight of the top 10 insurers, seven of the top 10 global retailers, and eight of the top 10 telecommunications companies. And most of those mainframes come from IBM.

In this explainer, we’ll look at the IBM mainframe computer—what it is, how it works, and why it’s still going strong after over 50 years.

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