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Industry & Technology

Comcast uses NBC to harm other cable companies, rivals say

Ars Technica - November 12, 2018 - 6:33pm

(credit: Comcast)

Comcast's smaller rivals in the cable industry have called on the Department of Justice to investigate whether Comcast uses its ownership of TV programming to harm competitors.

The American Cable Association (ACA), a lobby group for more than 700 smaller TV and broadband companies, asked for the investigation in a letter to Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust chief Makan Delrahim.

The investigation should target "the business practices of the vertically integrated media giant Comcast-NBCU, focusing on harms stemming from the dominant communications firm's control of cable systems, TV stations, and regional sports networks (RSNs) concentrated in some of the largest local markets in the country," the ACA said in a press release today. Some ACA members such as RCN, Wide Open West, and Wave Broadband compete directly against Comcast for TV and broadband customers in certain local markets.

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Rocket Lab now has a fully operational small satellite launcher

Ars Technica - November 12, 2018 - 6:18pm

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab succeeded this weekend in moving from a company testing its rocket to one that has truly begun commercial operations. With the third flight of its Electron booster, the company delivered seven different satellites into orbit as part of its first fully commercial spaceflight.

“The world is waking up to the new normal," the company's founder and chief executive, Peter Beck, said in a news release. "With the Electron launch vehicle, rapid and reliable access to space is now a reality for small satellites. We’re thrilled to be leading the small satellite launch industry by reaching orbit a second time and deploying more payloads."

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Tesla Model S, Model X base prices bumped, interior options streamlined - Roadshow - News - November 12, 2018 - 6:11pm
If you want a P100D now, you'd better like carbon fiber trim.

Surface Go with integrated LTE available for preorder now, from $679

Ars Technica - November 12, 2018 - 6:08pm

Enlarge / Surface Go. (credit: Microsoft)

Last week Microsoft added an extra configuration to the Surface Go lineup. Today it's rounding out the range and filling the final gaps, adding systems with integrated LTE to the product mix.

LTE adds $130 to the system price. At $679 is the consumer SKU: 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage, Windows 10 Home, and integrated LTE. Business users have two configurations: 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage, Windows 10 Pro, for $729, or the same spec with 256GB SSD storage, for $829. The LTE option adds a fraction to the weight (0.02lb/10 grams) and equips the machine with a nano-SIM tray, GPS, and GLONASS positioning.

Microsoft estimates that the LTE model has marginally lower battery life than the Wi-Fi version, quoting 8.5 hours of video playback for the LTE model, in contrast to 9 hours for the Wi-Fi version. This is likely a small price to pay for the ability to get online anywhere and everywhere. Microsoft has positioned the Surface Go as an ideal system for frontline workers: people who may be out in the field on customer or other remote sites. Adding LTE means that these workers are always online and able to reach their corporate systems for inventory management, support tickets, or whatever else they need.

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Jeep Wrangler pickup could be named Gladiator, destined for LA Auto Show - Roadshow - News - November 12, 2018 - 6:06pm
The long-awaited Wrangler pickup will make its debut in late November.

Sudden Windows 10 licence downgrades to forced Xcode upgrades: The week at Microsoft

The Register - November 12, 2018 - 6:04pm
Plus: Warehouse security, Alexa for all, and more

Roundup Aside from the hoo-ha around Windows 10 licences suddenly being downgraded amid an Insider build update, last week brought Row-Level Security to Azure warehouses, Alexa's tanks rolled onto Cortana's lawn and Microsoft prepared to drop support for old versions of Xcode.…

Dems to probe whether Trump retaliated against CNN, Washington Post

Ars Technica - November 12, 2018 - 6:02pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Chris Kleponis)

Democrats in Congress are planning to probe whether the Trump administration improperly used its regulatory powers to punish the owners of CNN and The Washington Post—two high-profile media outlets that have repeatedly clashed with Donald Trump.

Adam Schiff, a senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, told Axios that Democrats would try to find out whether Trump used "the instruments of state power to punish the press."

In 2016, AT&T announced that it intended to acquire Time Warner, parent company of CNN. The Trump administration objected to the merger, but a federal court ruled against the administration earlier this year, allowing the merger to go through.

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Watch Dubai Police fly a crazy Star Wars-like hoverbike - Roadshow - News - November 12, 2018 - 5:56pm
How well will it work? The internet's not convinced it's a winner.

Xiaomi criticised for UK smartphone £1 flash sale

BBC Technology News - November 12, 2018 - 5:53pm
Xiaomi offered only two or three phones at the advertised price.

Hitman 2’s Denuvo DRM cracked days before the game’s release

Ars Technica - November 12, 2018 - 5:53pm

Enlarge / Agent 47 represents Hitman 2. The boxes represent Denuvo's DRM protection. The attackers in purple represent crackers to bust through that protection.

Over the years, we at Ars have watched with interest as anti-piracy technology Denuvo has progressed from the seemingly unbeatable scourge of the cracking scene to a trivial security measure routinely defeated within a day of a game's release. But Denuvo protection wasn't even able to provide a few hours of security for this week's official launch of Hitman 2, which has seen its DRM cracked days before the official release.

The early crack, released on November 10, was made possible by publisher Warner Bros.'s decision to make Hitman 2 available on November 9 to those who preordered the game—four days before the official street date of November 13. The quick crack also comes despite Hitman 2's use of a brand-new "version 5.3" variant of Denuvo, the latest in a long line of changes intended to thwart the cracking community.

Hitman 2's DRM situation mirrors that of Final Fantasy XV's March release on PC. In that case, the preloading of unencrypted game executable via Origin let crackers remove Denuvo protection four days before the game's launch date.

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VA’s software so SNAFU’d that vets were made homeless waiting for benefits

Ars Technica - November 12, 2018 - 5:44pm

Enlarge / The Department of Veterans Affairs: Lincoln would not approve of the way the agency is running its IT. (credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Department of Veterans Affairs has acknowledged that the failure of a new IT system for processing claims for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits has been holding up payments for months and causing financial hardship for thousands of veterans. "Many of our Post-9/11 GI Bill students are experiencing longer than typical wait times to receive monthly housing payments," the VA said in a statement, with processing times averaging "a little over 35 days" for first-time veteran applicants. More than 82,000 veterans were still waiting for housing payments for the fall semester as of November 8, with some having lost housing as the result of non-payment.

In a statement issued by the VA on October 25, a spokesperson said:

We continue to experience a high pending claims inventory which is causing continuing processing delays for some GI Bill students. We apologize for these delays, and want to assure you we are doing everything in our power to reduce the pending workload, address the oldest claims, and continue to test the housing payment IT modifications required for the Colmery Act. As of October 24, our pending work is continuing to go down, and we are maintaining our focus on the oldest items. As we get reports of hardship situations we are addressing those immediately.

Passed in July 2017, the Colmery Act (also known as the Forever GI Bill) added new housing allowances based on the ZIP code of the school being attended by veterans. Previously, benefits were based on where the veterans lived before they enrolled in school. But the VA found that the software was improperly calculating benefits. Since the school year had already begun, the VA rolled back to the 2017 system—resulting in smaller housing stipend payments to veteran students by 1 percent. Then the old system broke down under a stress test, which delayed the process of having schools enroll students for benefits until July 16. Even then, many schools delayed filing information because they were told that they would have to resubmit it when a software update was rolled out in August.

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Toy Story 4 teaser trailer arrives, reveals Forky - CNET - News - November 12, 2018 - 5:39pm
Woody, Buzz and company will return next summer, with a new spork-turned-craft-project pal.

LG OLED TV Black Friday 2018 sale: No big deal (yet) - CNET - News - November 12, 2018 - 5:12pm
If you were waiting for massive price drops on LG's latest OLED TVs, I've got some bad news.

Black Friday 2018 deals: Laptops, PCs, Chromebooks, tablets, monitors and more - CNET - News - November 12, 2018 - 5:12pm
So far, Office Depot takes the cake with an HP convertible (Core i7 CPU, 1TB hard drive) for $450.

When you play the game of storage arrays, you win or you – where are the visionaries?

The Register - November 12, 2018 - 5:11pm
Gartner's magical square: NetApp, HPE still winning, Infinidat joins leader's box

NetApp has replaced HPE as the leading vendor in Gartner's general purpose drive array magic quadrant as Infinidat makes its first appearance in the top dog square.…

Volkswagen plans to make 50 million electric cars, CEO says

Ars Technica - November 12, 2018 - 5:06pm

Enlarge / The I.D. (left), I.D. Vizzion (center), and I.D. Buzz (right). (credit: Volkswagen)

They say new converts are always the most devout. Take Volkswagen: after betting big on diesel—and losing—the automaker is going full-speed ahead on electrification. Earlier this year, it revealed it had committed to spending $25 billion on batteries from a number of suppliers, including Samsung and LG Chem. Now those plans may be accelerating, if all goes well at a meeting of VW's supervisory board this coming Friday.

Last week, Reuters reported that there is a proposal to convert two German factories over to electric vehicle production. One of these—at Emden—would build an as-yet unnamed sub-€20,000 ($22,550) EV and another called the I.D. Aero, both from VW Group's new EV architecture (called MEB). Another plant at Hannover would produce the crowd-pleasing I.D. Buzz. The first of VW's new MEB vehicles will be the I.D. which goes into production at a third factory in Zwickau in late 2019.

And today, VW CEO Herbert Diess told the German publication Automobilwoche that total battery earmarks for the company were now up to €50 billion ($56 billion). "We have bought batteries for 50 million vehicles," he told the publication.

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Samsung’s foldable smartphone reportedly costs $1,770, launches in March

Ars Technica - November 12, 2018 - 4:59pm


Samsung intrigued the world with the announcement last week that it would launch a smartphone with a folding display sometime early next year. Now a report from South Korea's Yonhap News Agency adds a few more details to Samsung's secretive tease.

First is an actual name; according to Yonhap's sources, the phone will be called the "Galaxy F"—presumably that's "F" for "Foldable." The second big claim in the article is a price: $1,770 (₩2,000,000) for Samsung's cutting-edge smartphone. That's a big increase from the ~$1,000 flagships of today, but if this rumor pans out, the Galaxy F wouldn't even be Samsung's most expensive phone. That honor goes to the $2,700 Samsung W2019, which, believe it or not, is a dual-screen flip phone with flagship specs and some ultra-luxury add-ons like a Samsung concierge service.

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Stay classy: Amazon's Jassy gets sassy with Larry

The Register - November 12, 2018 - 4:49pm
AWS boss claims consumer division has switched off Oracle data warehouse

Amazon’s consumer business has switched off its Oracle data warehouse and will be almost Big Red-free by Christmas – at least according to AWS boss Andy Jassy.…

The Cleaners documentary crawls into the scary side of Facebook - CNET - News - November 12, 2018 - 4:44pm
This hard-hitting documentary tackles fake news, censorship and the outsourcing of democracy. It's bleak but essential viewing.

Attenborough’s calming narration comes to Netflix in 2019 doc Our Planet

Ars Technica - November 12, 2018 - 4:37pm

Enlarge / Coming in 2019 to a Netflix near you. (credit: Netflix)

Two of the main people behind the BBC's modern wave of nature documentary series, including their iconic narrator, have signed on to make their next documentary project with Netflix.

The soothing, British-accented tones of narrator Sir David Attenborough, along with Blue Planet and Planet Earth creator, director, and executive producer Alastair Fothergill, are the headline names for a new project, dubbed Our Planet. Netflix says this eight-part "natural history" documentary series will debut exclusively on its service on April 5, 2019.

The series includes a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, along with statements from Attenborough about the "beauty and fragility" of our planet and the claim that humanity is "the greatest threat to the health of our home," but this all merely implies that Our Planet will heavily focus on conservation. The series' released teaser trailer instead largely resembles recent BBC docuseries—meaning, dramatic, crystal-clear shots of wildlife in its natural habitat. We'll always take more of those, and Netflix is advertising 4K-ready video content for this one.

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