Promotional image of smartphone app.

In late December, Google and Apple removed the ToTok social messaging app from their marketplaces after US intelligence officials told The New York Times it was a tool for surreptitious spying by the United Arab Emirates government. About a week later, Google reinstated the Android version of the app with no explanation, a move that confounded app users and security experts. Now Google has once again baffled industry watchers by once again banishing the app without saying why. (Apple, meanwhile, has continued to keep the iOS version of ToTok out of the App Store.)

Over the past few days, Play Protect, the Google service that scans Android devices for apps that violate the company’s terms of service, started displaying a warning that says: “This app tries to spy on your personal data, such as SMS messages, photos, audio recordings, or call history. Even if you have heard of this app or the app developer, this version of the app could harm your device.”

The message, displayed to the right, then gives the user the option to either “uninstall” or “keep app (unsafe).”

Google has declined to comment to me or any other reporters seeking the reason for this strange series

Wok tossing has long been suspected of causing the high shoulder injury rate among Chinese chefs.
Enlarge / Wok tossing has long been suspected of causing the high shoulder injury rate among Chinese chefs.

Hunting Ko and David Hu/Georgia Tech

Fried rice is a classic dish in pretty much every Chinese restaurant, and the strenuous process of tossing the rice in a wok over high heat is key to producing the perfect final product. There’s always chemistry involved in cooking, but there’s also a fair amount of physics. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have devised a model for the kinematics of wok-tossing to explain how it produces fried rice that is nicely browned but not burnt. They described their work in a recent paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society: Interface.

This work hails from David Hu’s lab at Georgia Tech, known for investigating such diverse phenomena as the collective behavior of fire ants, water striders, snakes, various climbing insects, mosquitos, the unique properties of cat tongues, and animal bodily functions like urination and defecation—including a 2019 Ig Nobel Prize-winning study on why wombats produce cubed poo. Hu and his graduate student, Hungtang Ko—also a co-author on a 2019 paper on the physics of how fire ants band together

top floor of test house
Enlarge / The top floor of our test house is relatively straightforward—although like many houses, it suffers from terrible router placement nowhere near its center.

Jim Salter

Here at Ars, we’ve spent a lot of time covering how Wi-Fi works, which kits perform the best, and how upcoming standards will affect you. Today, we’re going to go a little more basic: we’re going to teach you how to figure out how many Wi-Fi access points (APs) you need, and where to put them.

These rules apply whether we’re talking about a single Wi-Fi router, a mesh kit like Eero, Plume, or Orbi, or a set of wire-backhauled access points like Ubiquiti’s UAP-AC line or TP-Link’s EAPs. Unfortunately, these “rules” are necessarily closer to “guidelines” as there are a lot of variables it’s impossible to fully account for from an armchair a few thousand miles away. But if you become familiar with these rules, you should at least walk away with a better practical understanding of what to expect—and not expect—from your Wi-Fi gear and how to get the most out of it.

Before we get started

Let’s go over one bit of RF theory (radio-frequency) before we get started on

If only it were this easy to catch lost Bitcoin credentials.
Enlarge / If only it were this easy to catch lost Bitcoin credentials.

Cravetiger / Getty Images

In a world where various mass breaches dictate the use of strong, randomized passwords more than ever, reliable and secure credentials management is paramount in 2020. One Irish drug dealer has evidently learned this lesson the hard way.

This week, the Irish Times reported the sad tale of Clifton Collins, a 49-year-old cannabis grower from Dublin. Collins quietly grew and sold his product for 12 years, and he amassed a small fortune by using some of that revenue to buy bitcoins around 2011 and 2012 before the price of the cryptocurrency soared. But in 2017, state authorities on a routine overnight patrol spotted and then arrested Collins with an estimated $2,171 of cannabis in his car. The man quickly earned himself a five-year jail sentence.

According to the Times: as part of authorities’ investigation, Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau discovered and confiscated 12 Bitcoin wallets belonging to Collins totaling nearly $59 million (reportedly the biggest financial case in CAB’s 25-year history). There was only one problem—CAB couldn’t access the accounts because Collins had lost the keys.

Nervous about having a ton of

Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) is buried in adorable fluff balls in the classic 1967 episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles," on <em>Star Trek: TOS</em>.
Enlarge / Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) is buried in adorable fluff balls in the classic 1967 episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” on Star Trek: TOS.

Paramount/CBS Television

Chalk this one up to fun scientific papers we inexplicably missed last year. A group of undergraduates at the University of Leicester in the U.K. calculated the growth rate of the fictional Star Trek critters known as tribbles. They published their results in a short paper in the university’s undergraduate-centric Journal of Physics Special Topics, estimating just how long it would take for there to be enough tribbles to fill up the USS Enterprise.

First aired on December 29, 1967, “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode was written by David Gerrold, then a 23-year-old college student in California. He originally envisioned it as a cautionary tale of ecological disaster—inspired in part by how quickly rabbits multiplied when they were first introduced to Australia in 1859, a region where they had no natural predators. However, over several rewrites, the tone evolved to incorporate more humor—much to the dismay of ST:TOS creator Gene Roddenberry, who thought the episode lacked gravitas. Roddenberry was ultimately proven wrong. The episode frequently ranks among

California man arrested on charges his DDoSes took down candidate’s website

A California man has been arrested on charges he used distributed denial-of-service attacks to take down the website of a Congressional candidate whose rival employed his wife.

Arthur Jan Dam, 32, of Santa Monica, was arrested by FBI agents on Thursday. According to a criminal complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court, Dam DDoSed the website of a candidate that The Intercept reported was running against Katie Hill in the 2018 primary election. Hill won by fewer than 3,000 votes and went on to flip a Republican-held seat in the general election. Hill later resigned after nude photos of her were published without her consent.

Dam, who The Intercept reported was married to Hill fundraiser Kelsey O’Hara, allegedly staged four attacks that took down the website of Bryan Caforio, Hill’s rival candidate in the primary. The candidate spent from $27,000 to $30,000 in response to the 21-hour outages and also experienced a reduction of campaign contributions. Rolling Stone reported on the attacks in the September 2018 election. The FBI has not uncovered any evidence that either Hill or Dam’s wife had any involvement in the attacks, prosecutors said in a release. Friday’s complaint didn’t identify either the candidates or Dam’s