Use This Travel Time Map to Pick Your Next Hotel

When you go on a trip, you usually want to stay somewhere central, with easy access to a few local destinations: a conference center, a few restaurants, a fun neighborhood. You can’t just eyeball a map. Travel times depend on more than just distance; they rely on street layout, highways, and public transit. You could test each travel time on Google Maps, but sometimes you just want to see one big map of everywhere you can go in an hour. For that, try TravelTime Maps.

Name a location, and TravelTime Maps will show you all the places you can get to in 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. It’ll also show you nearby hotels, movie theaters, or coffee shops. You can even select multiple locations and get a Venn diagram of what’s close to all of them. For example, here’s a map of hotels close to Manhattan’s Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

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TravelTime Maps is a demo for the TravelTime platform, which sells API access to job search and real estate sites. The demo is bad at recognizing some location names, but if you have trouble you can just drag the pin anywhere on the map.

Unlike Google Maps, TravelTime doesn’t have traffic congestion data for the U.S., so its drive times are optimistic. But for public transportation, it uses the same data as Google Maps. (You can tell it what day and time you’ll be traveling.) This tool is more useful for general planning; check specific trips with Google Maps and local transit services. It’s also a cute way to see what’s really “close to home”—or to find a faraway place where no one can hear you scream.

Alicia Vikander shows off her action-hero chops in the new ‚Tomb Raider‘ trailer

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Tomb Raider is hoping the third time’s the charm.

Though the popular video game series has been adapted for film twice before, with Angelina Jolie in the lead role of Lara Croft, neither really caught fire. 

So Hollywood is trying again, this time with Alicia Vikander.

If you mainly know the Swedish actress from her prestige-drama roles and plum period pieces, this represents quite the change of pace – she’s a bonafide action star in this one, racing and swinging and shooting her way through the jungle.

Walton Goggins, Dominic West, and Daniel Wu also starTomb Raider hits theaters March 16. Read more…

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Gael Monfils And Novak Djokovic Played Tennis In A New Circle Of Hell

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One interesting new plot twist in tennis—I wish I’d been reminded of this before last night—is that every match between Gael Monfils and Novak Djokovic must be conducted in Hell. Like their last encounter in New York, the match must be as Lynchian and listless as possible, and the conditions must be inhumane: in this case, over 100 degrees in Melbourne, which likely felt even hotter on the heat-trapping hard court. Both players must be playing badly and coping very badly with the other player’s bad play.

Whenever the ball is not in play, Monfils must be fully keeled over at all times, wilting over the racket he has propped himself up on. Djokovic, one of the great returners in tennis history, must be dumping dinky kick serves into the net. At least one player must use a changeover to argue to the umpire that it would be inhumane to enforce the rule that says only 25 seconds can elapse between points. Good shots must only appear in the strangest and most desperate of circumstances, and remain under a strict quota. There is not a winner of this 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 “match” so much as there is a survivor. In this case it was Djokovic for his 15th win against Gael Monfils, maintaining his ludicrous perfect record against the Frenchman.

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There’s not a whole lot in this match to revisit unless you want a full lowlight reel or an uneasy kind of spiritual hangover. If nothing else this match was simple proof that some of the best-conditioned humans on the planet—Monfils, a former track standout, is possibly the greatest pure athlete to ever try tennis; Djokovic, for all his early career woes, turned himself into one of the most freakishly fit and fatless people on tour—can still be totally broken by the whims of weather. But one funny takeaway is that Gael Monfils playing under extreme duress arguably has better shot selection than Gael Monfils in good health. The normal Monfils is playing cat and mouse with his own career. On set point, with the ball sitting nice and fat up at the net, he decided to play the worst drop shot ever. Novak could have taken a sip from his water and still comfortably jogged over to put away this ball:

And yes, sometimes Monfils is just fully dead, as he was during the second and third sets, just rolling his serves in, constantly retreating to the merciful shade at the back end of the court, walking off the court when the ball is being served to him. But there is a sweet spot, a kind of productive urgency. In the final set, towards the end, he will suddenly come to realize the gravity of the moment, and, barely mobile, bring his considerable groundstrokes to bear on the pathetic exchange. All of a sudden he is going for broke, trying to do the thing he has struggled to do his whole career: end points quickly. This wasn’t tenable strategy for him to win a best-of-five match, but it was heartening to see him try.

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But on closer inspection, it’s not heartening, because he only tried it because he was dying, and surely he would not carry over these lessons to any match played outside of an oven. Nothing about this match was heartening, especially not the final game, which lasted over eight excruciating minutes as Djokovic limped over the finish line, barking and self-flagellating, while Monfils poured his final drops of energy and water into a hopeless last-ditch sprint.

Professional athletes shouldn’t compete in 103-degree weather.

It’s Fatally Windy in Europe Right Now

Gif source: Twitter / @jboef

A brutal storm crashed into the Dutch coast on Thursday causing gusts of wind up to 90 miles per hour. This might not have been so destructive in a place with some relief, like mountains and hills, but the Netherlands is famously flat. That led to many bad things happening to buildings and people.

The storm is dangerous. So far, there have been two confirmed deaths in the Netherlands, one caused by a fallen branch and the other by a fallen tree. Dutch police are investigating a third death that involved a man falling through a roof. It’s unclear if he was already up there or blown that way by the vicious wind.

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It’s probably a good thing thing that warnings about the storm spread quickly via social media. By the time the eastern coast of the United States woke up, Twitter and Instagram were full of jaw-dropping videos, wild stuff like people getting blown through the air by these winter winds.

Sometimes the wind took people’s bicycles with them:

Meanwhile, videos of roofs getting ripped off of apartment complexes and office buildings were pervasive:

The destruction is of epic proportions. Here’s an entire warehouse losing its roof

Again, the wind is strong enough to move very large, very heavy objects. Here are some shipping containers getting tossed around like cardboard boxes:

At least this runaway Portapotty provides a little comic relief:

It will obviously take a few days to comprehend the full scale of the storm’s destruction. In the meantime, flights are delayed and trains aren’t running across northern Europe. This monster storm is wreaking havoc everywhere from Scotland to Germany. It seems like poor little Holland, land of the windmills, got the worst of it, though.

WhatsApp officially launches its app for businesses in select markets

 WhatsApp today officially launched its new WhatsApp Business app in select markets, including Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S., ahead of its planned worldwide rollout. The addition of business profiles and new messaging tools aimed at business customers is part of the company’s broader plan to generate revenue by charging larger enterprises for advanced tools to… Read More

Intel Claims 90 Percent of Affected CPUs Have Live Patches Just as Rumors of New Attacks Arrive

Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

This morning in a press release, Intel announced that it has “issued firmware updates for 90 percent of Intel CPUs introduced in the past five years.” But it’s possible the flurry of patches is just beginning.

These Intel CPU updates patch major vulnerabilities known as Meltdown and Spectre, which security researchers say affect most CPUs—including Intel’s.

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If you happen to have an Intel CPU made in the last five years, it might be time to consider applying one of those firmware updates just in case even more patches are imminent: Today the security world is wondering whether a new pair of attacks that are allegedly based on work related to Meltdown and Spectre is on the horizon—or just a hoax taking advantage of CPU-exploit fears.

It’s been two weeks since The Register reported that nearly every CPU made in the last few years was subject to these severe security vulnerabilities, which could give bad actors access to some of your most precious data. Since then, Intel, which is reportedly most affected by the vulnerabilities, has been hard at work doing damage control. CEO Brian Krzanich tried to distract during his keynote at CES last week with esoteric talk of data and AI, and the company has been fairly religious about updating consumers as to the status of patches.

It’s a nice turn for a company that reportedly sat on the news of the vulnerability for months. The latest update notes that while 90-percent of Intel CPUs made in the last five years have had firmware updates there is “more work to do.” For Intel that’s investigating a problem that finds patched CPUs, based on Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake, and Kaby Lake, rebooting too frequently.

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In the press release today, Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group, said, “We have reproduced these issues internally and are making progress toward identifying the root cause. In parallel, we will be providing beta microcode to vendors for validation by next week.” Which means we should, hopefully, be getting fixes to the reboot problem in short order.

Shenoy also addressed the reports that patched CPUs will operate more slowly. While this data is limited to only a few server-focused benchmarks on server-grade CPUs, it is some of the first hard facts we’ve seen about how slow these CPUs will actually get with a firmware upgrade.

According to Shenoy, most processes saw negligible changes in performance. However “the workloads that incorporate a larger number of user/kernel privilege changes and spend a significant amount of time in privileged mode will be more adversely impacted,” he said. In one benchmark the processor saw a 25-percent decrease in performance.

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What that will actually mean for end users trying to process videos in Handbrake or edit photos in Adobe Photoshop, or even just playing around in PUBG, remains to be seen. Testing on consumer level products has been more difficult as the patches issues are frequently wrapped up in larger patches, which means there’s often too many variables to take into account. A drop in performance could be related to the firmware upgrade or it could be related to a tweak to Windows or MacOS.

Either way, it’s probably a good idea to suck it up and face the slowdown and reboot problem since things may get worse before they get better. A website that began going viral today, Skyfallattacks, suggests more potential attack vectors are imminent. Currently, the site is basically just some text that alludes to two allegedly potential new attacks dubbed Skyfall and Solace. (Someone out there really likes Daniel Craig’s James Bond—marketing!) Little is known about this new pair of alleged exploits, and it’s entirely possible they’re entirely bullshit.

Following the recent release of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, CVE-2017-5175, CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5754, there has been considerable speculation as to whether all the issues described can be fully mitigated.

Skyfall and Solace are two speculative attacks based on the work highlighted by Meltdown and Spectre.

Full details are still under embargo and will be published soon when chip manufacturers and Operating System vendors have prepared patches.

Again, this is all the information we have so far about Skyfall and Solace. Are they real exploits? A hoax meant to get everyone in a tizzy? Some nonsense marketing hype? We reached out to Intel to find out if they have any additional info, and we’ll update when we hear back.

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Still, Skyfall and Solace aside, the Meltdown and Spectre debacle is far from over. Any new kinds of attacks mean more patches in your future. So get to upgrading.

[Intel, Skyfall]

“Bitcoin Laundering” Study: Where Do Criminals Turn to Mask Illicit Cryptoassets?

A recent study (PDF) from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance and blockchain analytics company Elliptic explored the “bitcoin laundering” ecosystem. In the study, Elliptic’s forensic analysis of the Bitcoin blockchain and other publicly available data were used to track the flows of illicit funds from 2013 to 2016.“This study aimed to identify where individuals turn in order to cash out or transmit bitcoins (BTC) acquired from illicit entities and to discover typologies for criminals ‘laundering’ bitcoins,” the report says.The study describes bitcoin laundering as a special type of money laundering that exists within the Bitcoin network where a user moves some bitcoins to a new address in a manner that obscures the original source of funds. The conversion of bitcoins into fiat currency on exchanges that lack adequate anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) policies can also fall under the category of bitcoin laundering.In addition to describing the common mechanisms for bitcoin laundering and explaining that this sort of activity is a small percentage of all transactions sent to exchanges and other conversion services, the study also offers some recommendations for law enforcement in terms of preventing the masking of illicit funds on the Bitcoin network.It should go without saying that any study related to the dark web or illicit use of the Bitcoin network needs to be taken with a grain of salt because avoiding detection is the whole reason for a criminal to use these sorts of platforms in the first place.The Bitcoin Laundering EcosystemMuch of the study, which is titled “Bitcoin Laundering: An Analysis of Illicit Flows Into Digital Currency Services,” revolves around the use of “conversion services.” Conversion services are basically platforms where users convert bitcoins to fiat currency (a Bitcoin exchange) or another cryptocurrency (a cryptoexchange), or move the bitcoins to another Bitcoin address accessible to the user. This results in a flow of funds that cannot be viewed or traced directly on the public blockchain.According to the study, darknet markets are the main source of funds that are sent to conversion services in bitcoin laundering attempts.Additionally, the number of illicit services that could be the source of “dirty bitcoins” sent to a conversion service increased fivefold from 2013 to 2016. Having said that, the study finds that the sources of illicit funds entering conversion services are quite centralized.“Only a small number of entities account for the majority of illicit activity in our sample,” the study says. “Nine of the 102 illicit entities were the source of more than 95 percent of all laundered bitcoins in our study. All nine were darknet marketplaces.”While exchanges are the most commonly used type of conversion service, bitcoin mixers and gambling sites have much more illicit funds coming into their platforms as a percentage of their overall transactions. As potential conduits for bitcoin laundering, these two types of conversion services benefit from concealing their country of operations and avoiding enforcement of AML regulations.“Fewer than 10 percent of all transactions overall passed through unknown jurisdictions … while 52 percent of illicit laundering went through them,” the study says.Much like the sources of illicit funds, the conversion services where these funds are sent are also highly centralized, the study finds. The data indicates that 97 percent of illicit transaction volume at mixers and gambling sites goes through three different entities. Additionally, two platforms in Europe account for half of all illicit transfers that go into exchanges.Not Much Bitcoin Laundering Activity Overall, and It’s on the DeclineAnother notable aspect of the study is that the data indicates a low level of bitcoin laundering as a percentage of all payments sent to conversion services.“The amount of observed Bitcoin laundering was small (less than one percent of all transactions entering conversion services),” notes the study.The report clarifies that the actual volume of illicit Bitcoin transactions sent to conversion services is “almost surely to be significantly larger” than what the data in the study shows because intermediate transactions are not counted. In other words, the report only covers transactions made directly from an illicit source, such as a darknet market, to a conversion service.The study also indicates a decrease in illicit Bitcoin transaction volume going to conversion services over time.“It is likely that illicit bitcoins fell as a percentage of total volume entering conversion services due to the cryptocurrency’s increasing popularity as a speculative investment as well as new laundering techniques,” the study says. “The drop may also reflect better AML/CFT compliance by conversion services, including the use of blockchain analysis services to determine customers’ source of funds.”The study later adds, “Our study, the first of its kind, indicates that while most types of conversion services have received some bitcoins from illicit activity, the vast majority of the funds they receive do not appear to be illicit.”Recommendations for Law Enforcement That Will Likely Fall ShortThe report offers recommendations for law enforcement in terms of what they can do to combat the effectiveness of bitcoin laundering.First, the study says proper KYC and AML policies need to be enforced on the bitcoin mixers and gambling sites that allow for anonymous usage. It notes that the three conversion services that account for 97 percent of bitcoin laundering on these types of platforms should be targeted by financial authorities.“The fact that most mixers and gambling sites hide their location of operations indicates they probably seek to evade the basic regulations in place to uphold transparency and financial integrity standards in most jurisdictions,” adds the study.Of course, it should be noted that targeting these sorts of services will become nearly impossible as they become more decentralized over time. Decentralized platforms like JoinMarket, TumbleBit and ZeroLink remove the ability for authorities to clamp down on bitcoin mixing in an effective manner, as these solutions act more as software than services.Second, the report also calls for increased AML and KYC compliance at European exchanges.“Many large European Bitcoin exchanges do implement robust AML policies,” says the study. “However, this is out of choice rather than obligation, and there are some who choose not to, possibly to attract business from criminals.”The study adds that the European Union is already moving in the right direction via an update of their 2015 Anti-Money Laundering Directive to include fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchanges, but in the view of the authors of the paper, crypto-to-crypto exchanges must also be regulated in this manner.Again, it needs to be pointed out that more problematic technology — at least from law enforcement’s point of view — is on the horizon in the form of decentralized cryptoexchanges. Through the use of cross-chain atomic swaps via the lightning network, users will be able to instantly trade between different cryptoassets without the need for a trusted third party.Third, the study calls for a sort of propaganda campaign against the use of darknet markets by criminals and the general public at large.“Law enforcement should increase customer skepticism about [darknet market] sites’ integrity and reduce the perceived security of such platforms by exposing their vulnerabilities publicly,” says the study.The report adds that law enforcement should make it well known that they’re lurking on these darknet markets to further shake confidence in them.Darknet markets are another area of the Bitcoin ecosystem that are becoming more decentralized through platforms such as OpenBazaar. While illicit activity on the OpenBazaar network appears to be limited at this time, it could potentially explode in popularity as a reaction to law enforcement’s hypothetical campaigns against the centralized darknet markets.Fourth, the report praises the decision by financial authorities in the United States to regulate exchanges as Money Service Businesses. The authors of the paper would like to see this sort of policy rolled out worldwide.Last, the study notes the need to prevent the illicit use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to get around economic sanctions imposed by the United States or other nations.“In addition to mitigating illicit finance risks like criminal money laundering, there will likely be a need to develop strategies to counter state actors aiming to use cryptocurrencies to circumvent U.S., EU, and UN sanctions.”Recently, there have been reports of North Korea, Russia and Venezuela all looking into separate mechanisms for avoiding economic sanctions through the use of cryptocurrencies.This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Widower found out his late wife played a joke on him with a request to water the plants

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When we die, most of us want to go out with an amazing joke for our loved ones to remember us by.

In Antonia Nicol’s case, her mom gave her dad explicit instructions to water the plants in their bathroom after she passed, which he kept up religiously.

Only to learn later that the plants are fake.

Before my mum passed away, she gave my dad strict instructions to water the plants in the bathroom. He’s been religiously watering them & keeping them alive. They look so amazing he decided to take them to his new home, only to discover they are plastic! Can hear my mum chuckling pic.twitter.com/N87giD5zKT

— Antonia Nicol (@Flaminhaystack) January 16, 2018 Read more…

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