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A sea of calm behind the wheel: The 2018 Audi Q5, reviewed

Ars Technica - December 10, 2017 - 3:30pm

Enlarge (credit: Marlowe Bangeman)

The Q5 has long been one of Audi’s best-selling models in the US. And what’s not to like? It’s a respectable-looking and functional mid-size crossover, slotting in between the bite-size Q3 and the three-row Audi Q7. With a base MSRP of $42,475, the Q5 competes with stalwarts like the BMW X3, Lexus RX450, and Acura RDX, as well as upstarts like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio (look for our review soon). But the Q5 was getting a bit stale, as it hadn’t seen any substantive changes since its introduction in 2008. With the 2018 model, Audi has updated the Q5, making this a good time to check in with its workhorse.

What’s new in 2018

Gone is the old 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, replaced by a... 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. This year’s model offers 252hp and 273lb-ft of torque, an improvement on 2017’s 220hp and 258lb-ft of torque. That should get you from zero to 60mph in a smooth 5.8 seconds, a touch faster than last year. The all-wheel drive Q5 comes with a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. If you want more in the way of raw performance, there’s an SQ5 version with a turbocharged, 354hp V-6 and an eight-speed transmission for about $12,000 more.

On the outside, the 2018 Q5 is an inch longer, two inches wider, and has a slightly longer wheelbase. The tweaks to the hood, grille, and sideview mirrors make for a more aerodynamic design. In terms of exterior design, the 2018 Q5 is evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

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In Your Face: China’s all-seeing state

BBC Technology News - December 10, 2017 - 1:00pm
China has been building what it calls "the world's biggest camera surveillance network".

Apple 'to buy Shazam for $400m'

BBC Technology News - December 10, 2017 - 11:07am
The music recognition app already makes most of its money by referring music buyers to Apple's iTunes.

Andy Rubin back at Essential after report of improper conduct - CNET - News - December 10, 2017 - 7:31am
The Android creator ends his brief leave, says a report. The absence followed an earlier report that he'd had an inappropriate relationship while at Google.

Uber settles lawsuit over rape victim's medical records - CNET - News - December 10, 2017 - 4:30am
The suit was filed after reports that Uber executives had allegedly obtained the medical records of a woman raped by a company driver in India.

Virtual reality used to help adoptive parents

BBC Technology News - December 10, 2017 - 2:30am
Experiencing a child's traumatic past could help parents understand their behaviour.

Paddington 2: The challenges of making the film

BBC Technology News - December 10, 2017 - 1:18am
An exclusive look at the visual effects behind the film Paddington 2.

Top-selling handgun safe can be remotely opened in seconds—no PIN needed

Ars Technica - December 9, 2017 - 11:20pm

Enlarge (credit: Two Sixes Labs)

One of Amazon's top-selling electronic gun safes contains a critical vulnerability that allows it to be opened by virtually anyone, even when they don't know the password.

The Vaultek VT20i handgun safe, ranked fourth in Amazon's gun safes and cabinets category, allows owners to electronically open the door using a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app. The remote unlock feature is supposed to work only when someone knows the four- to eight-digit personal identification number used to lock the device. But it turns out that this PIN safeguard can be bypassed using a standard computer and a small amount of programming know-how.

As the video demonstration below shows, researchers with security firm Two Six Labs were able to open a VT20i safe in a matter of seconds by using their MacBook Pro to send specially designed Bluetooth data while it was in range. The feat required no knowledge of the unlock PIN or any advanced scanning of the vulnerable safe. The hack works reliably even when the PIN is changed. All that's required to make it work is that the safe have Bluetooth connectivity turned on.

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8 big Game Awards reveals you may have missed - CNET - News - December 9, 2017 - 10:14pm
Most award shows are focused on awards, but with The Game Awards you also get to see trailers for the biggest upcoming games.

Hey Joe Lawrence, how did you get to be the COO of Porsche? - Roadshow - News - December 9, 2017 - 9:47pm
Joe Lawrence is living the dream: Building Porsches and driving one on the daily.

This beach's rope swing is so Instagram-famous - CNET - News - December 9, 2017 - 9:23pm
Instagram photos don't always reflect reality. Eric Mack visited a beautiful beach where one simple homemade attraction gets most of the attention online.

Ajit Pai jokes with Verizon exec about him being a “puppet” FCC chair

Ars Technica - December 9, 2017 - 8:53pm

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at Fox Studios on November 10, 2017 in New York City. (credit: Getty Images | John Lamparski )

On Thursday night in Washington, DC, net neutrality advocates gathered outside the annual Federal Communications Commission Chairman's Dinner to protest Chairman Ajit Pai's impending rollback of net neutrality rules.

Inside the dinner (also known as the "telecom prom") at the Washington Hilton, Pai entertained the audience with jokes about him being a puppet installed by Verizon to lead the FCC.

Pai was a Verizon associate general counsel from 2001 to 2003, and next week he will lead an FCC vote to eliminate net neutrality rules—just as Verizon and other ISPs have asked him to.

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Digital audio converter blew my mind, will blow your budget - CNET - News - December 9, 2017 - 8:47pm
The Audiophiliac has a close encounter with the insane Chord Dave Ultimate Reference DAC.

How to watch the Geminids; the best meteor shower of the year - CNET - News - December 9, 2017 - 8:33pm
Shooting star fans will want to head outside in December, as the best chance for meteor-spotting also brings a special guest this year.

The Audiophiliac picks the best headphones of 2017 - CNET - News - December 9, 2017 - 8:16pm
Here they are -- the best of the best headphones of 2017.

Looks like a rough flu season ahead. Here are answers to ALL your flu questions

Ars Technica - December 9, 2017 - 7:20pm

Enlarge / Influenza virus. Image produced from an image taken with transmission electron microscopy. Viral diameter ranges from around 80 to 120 nm. (credit: Getty | BSIP)

The 2017-2018 flu season is off to an early start, potentially hitting highs during the end-of-year holidays. Data so far suggests it could be a doozy. The predominant virus currently circulating tends to cause more cases of severe disease and death than other seasonal varieties. And the batch of vaccines for this year have some notable weaknesses.

To help you prepare—or just help you brush up on your flu facts—here are answers to every critical flu question you might ever have (well, hopefully). We’ll start off with the basics...

Table of Contents What is the flu?

The flu, or influenza, is a contagious respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus (not to be confused with Haemophilus influenzae, an opportunistic bacterium that can cause secondary infections following sicknesses, such as the flu). Symptoms of the flu include chills, fever, headache, malaise, running nose, sore throat, coughing, tiredness, and muscle aches.

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The Grand Tour season 2: the one where Hammond nearly dies… again

Ars Technica - December 9, 2017 - 7:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Amazon)

Warning: this post contains some spoilers about the first episode of the new season of The Grand Tour.

Some say it's the greatest car show... in the world. Others say it started well but had a very patchy first season. All I know is that The Grand Tour came back to Amazon Prime on Friday for a second season.

If you loved the first season of The Grand Tour, you'll have a fine old time with season 2. The idea behind the show is to keep all the bits that you loved about Top Gear but without pissing off the BBC's lawyers. And based on the season preview clips we saw during the intro to the first episode of season 2, there should be plenty of that in store—particularly the episode that features a Bugatti EB110 and a Jaguar XJ220. But if you find Jeremy Clarkson's antics boorish, be warned; on that front, season 2 is very much more of the same.

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Judge orders man to serve 29 months after he pleads guilty to online fraud

Ars Technica - December 9, 2017 - 5:30pm

Enlarge / This real Mercedes-Benz GL450 was one of the cars that Vlad Diaconu tried to trick people into believing that he was selling. (credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s like your parents always told you: if something’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Or, translated into the online world: if a guy in Romania claiming to be an American service member overseas wants to sell you a Mercedes at a really good price and all you have to do is send some money to an escrow account, he’s probably scamming you.

On Friday, a Romanian man was sentenced by a federal judge in Tennessee to two years and five months in prison for participating in a scheme to defraud Americans out of over $870,000 in goods that never existed.

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In Thelma, suppressing facts—whether it’s your identity or power—is the real horror

Ars Technica - December 9, 2017 - 3:00pm

Enlarge / Meet Thelma. Medical professionals can't seem to nail down what's happening in her brain... (credit: Fantastic Fest / Thelma)

You might not see a more stunning film in 2017 than Director Joachim Trier’s Thelma, Norway’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. It tonally combines the unbridled happiness of a coming-of-age/first love film with the creepy stillness and angularity of arthouse horror. And aesthetically it unleashes sequences that will inevitably play silently on repeat at the hippest bar you can think of once Thelma hits a streaming service.

With all that beauty, it’s a shame the film seems so reductive at first—forbidden love and a cursed child; a body horror like Carrie but set in Europe. Luckily, that impression proves to be as window dressing-y as the title character’s minimalist Nordic dorm room. With a dash of the supernatural and a mystery that ultimately reveals answers by excluding explanation, Thelma offers more depth (and fun) than the clichés of its film blurb would lead you to believe.

Go to college, see the world

Shy Thelma leaves her religious, conservative family in small-town Norway to pursue university in vibrant Oslo. The lifestyle proves to be quite different. Kids drink and go out late, they try weed and stuff. Accordingly, Thelma doesn’t seem to be connecting much if at all at first (but you’re making new friends on Facebook, her dad encourages). Worse, one day early in the semester, she suffers a very public and sudden seizure in the library. Her parents already ask her daily for every little detail (Mom overlooks nothing: what’s for dinner? Isn’t your next class tomorrow, what are you doing tonight?). This isn’t a welcome development.

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iPhone takes top rank as Flickr's most used camera - CNET - News - December 9, 2017 - 3:00pm
More people are using the iPhone than any other brand of camera combined.

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