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Industry & Technology

Kia K900 brings big-body bravado to Geneva - Roadshow

cNET.com - News - February 20, 2018 - 5:03pm
The first-gen K900 was not a sales hit in the US, and I imagine Kia wants to change that.

Lexus UX heads to Geneva with small footprint, big style - Roadshow

cNET.com - News - February 20, 2018 - 5:01pm
Who doesn't love tiny little tail fins?

Qualcomm opens maw, prepares to swallow Dutch chipmaker NXP

The Register - February 20, 2018 - 4:59pm
Increased offer gives shareholders food for thought

While fending off unwanted advances from a determined suitor, chip-maker Qualcomm has had an increased bid for NXP Semiconductors accepted.…

Supplements are a $30 billion racket—here’s what experts actually recommend

Ars Technica - February 20, 2018 - 4:50pm

Enlarge / Choose wisely. (credit: Getty | Mario Tama)

There are more than 90,000 vitamin and dietary supplement products sold in the US. They come in pills, powders, drinks, and bars. And they all anticipate some better versions of ourselves—selves with sturdier bones, slimmer waist lines, heftier muscles, happier intestines, better sex lives, and more potent noggins. They foretell of diseases dodged and aging outrun.

On the whole, we believe them. Supplements are a $30 billion industry in the US. Recent surveys suggest that 52 percent of Americans take at least one supplement—and 10 percent take four or more. But should we? Are we healthier, smarter, stronger, or in any way better off because of these daily doses?

The answer is likely no. Most supplements have little to no data to suggest that they’re effective, let alone safe. They’re often backed by tenuous studies in rodents and petri dishes or tiny batches of people. And the industry is rife with hype and wishful thinking—even the evidence for multivitamins isn’t solid. There are also outright deadly scams. What’s more, the industry operates with virtually no oversight.

Read 35 remaining paragraphs | Comments

'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' arrives in March on Blu-ray, digital - CNET

cNET.com - News - February 20, 2018 - 4:45pm
The latest chapter in the saga will be available March 13 in digital stores and Movies Anywhere, with Blu-ray and on-demand editions arriving March 27.

Russian bots debate US gun control laws

BBC Technology News - February 20, 2018 - 4:36pm
Russian bots are believed to have taken part in debate about gun control following Florida shootings.

War Stories: Thief’s intuitive stealth system wasn’t intuitive to design

Ars Technica - February 20, 2018 - 4:08pm

Video shot by Justin Wolfson, edited by Lee Manansala. Click here for transcript.

Older PC gamers who were playing games in the late '90s and early 2000s likely have a soft spot in their hearts for Looking Glass Studios. The company's two best-known properties are Thief and System Shock, though Looking Glass was also responsible for the visually stunning Flight Unlimited and, of course, Ultima Underworld. Although financial troubles at publisher Eidos Interactive (caused in part by the development of the hilarious money pit that was Daikatana) led to the eventual dissolution and sale of Looking Glass, the studio left an outsized footprint on the history of PC gaming through its excellent games.

The Thief series in particular—or at least the first two games—resonated with audiences. The phrase "innovative gameplay" is a laughable cliché in 2018, but Thief really did have innovative gameplay when it was released—other FPS titles had explored stealth-focused gameplay before, but none had managed to so completely capture the experience of sneaking. More, Thief took the unusual (for FPSes at the time) approach of incentivizing the player to not murder everyone and everything in the level—brutality, in fact, was actively punished by the game's scoring system. Sneaking through an entire level without detection became a more important goal than wiping out guards.

But it turns out the tightly coupled gameplay mechanisms that enabled players to so easily understand how hidden they were from the CPU's prying eyes was nowhere near as intuitive to design as it was to use. We sat down with Looking Glass founder Paul Neurath, who was involved heavily in Thief's design and development, to get the scoop. And even though he didn't take any rips from a wolf bong, he did have some juicy info on how Thief and its signature sneaking came to be.

Read on Ars Technica | Comments

Facebook has been sharing our data for months to help study income inequality

Ars Technica - February 20, 2018 - 4:00pm

Enlarge / Scenes of daily work and life at Facebook, Inc. USA Headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Facebook employees and visitors walk along the main "Hacker Way" pathway between the buildings. (credit: Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images)

Facebook has agreed to give a hotshot Stanford economist unprecedented access to its internal data as a way to better understand income disparity in the United States.

According to Politico, which first broke the news on Tuesday morning, the investigation will be led by Raj Chetty, who won a 2012 MacArthur Genius grant and is well-known for his analysis of America’s social and economic problems. Facebook did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment, but the company "confirmed the broad contours of its partnership with Chetty" to Politico.

"We're using social networks, and measuring interactions there, to understand the role of social capital much better than we've been able to," Chetty told the political news site in January.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

UN chief seeks international rules for cyberwarfare - CNET

cNET.com - News - February 20, 2018 - 4:00pm
Cyberattacks will be among the first weapons launched in wars, but no international rules are in place to protect countries, UN's Antonio Guterres says.

In Los Angeles, Dreamscape Immersive's Location-Based VR Brings You Into a New World

Wired - February 20, 2018 - 4:00pm
There’s far more immersive potential in a dedicated VR facility than what’s currently possible in your living room.

iPhone X 'slump' is real, whisper supply chain moles

The Register - February 20, 2018 - 3:37pm
There are now 30 million X-shaped holes in Apple's estimates. Ouch

Samsung has provided confirmation that iPhone X sales are way below Apple's estimates for the much-hyped, tenth anniversary special. The miscalculation could end up benefitting Android owners.…

Amazon uses cash back benefits to entice Prime members to Whole Foods

Ars Technica - February 20, 2018 - 3:32pm

(credit: Rachel Murray / Getty Images)

Amazon's latest grocery push focuses on enticing Prime members to shop at Whole Foods with cash back. Amazon announced that Prime members using the company's Rewards Visa card will now get 5 percent back on Whole Foods purchases. The new rewards are in addition to the card's existing rewards for eligible Prime members, which include 5 percent back on Amazon.com purchases; 2 percent back on restaurant, gas station, and drugstore purchases; and 1 percent back on everything else.

You don't have to be a Prime member to be approved for Amazon's Rewards Visa, but it pays if you are. Non-Prime members will get only 3 percent back on Whole Foods purchases under the new plan, which is the same as the 3 percent back those cardmembers get on Amazon.com purchases already.

This is the first time Amazon extended its 5 percent back perk to a retailer aside from Amazon. This could persuade Prime members who are also cardholders to shop at Whole Foods more. Since Amazon's purchase of the supermarket chain last year, it has been trying to encourage more people (especially Prime members) to shop at the grocer. Amazon slashed some Whole Foods' prices almost immediately after the acquisition, and recently the company expanded its Prime Now two-hour delivery to include Whole Foods items in a few markets.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

NASA spends $1 billion for a launch tower that leans, may only be used once

Ars Technica - February 20, 2018 - 3:20pm

Enlarge / The space agency's mobile launch tower is leaning slightly to the north. (credit: NASA)

On Tuesday and Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to tour facilities there and participate in the second meeting of the National Space Council. It is not clear how much of the launch facilities he will see during his visit to Florida, where NASA is spending billions of dollars to build ground systems for the launch of the Space Launch System rocket.

There is one component of the revamped facilities that NASA may be reluctant to show Pence, who in effect oversees all national spaceflight activities as the head of the space council. This is the "mobile launcher" structure, which supports the testing and servicing of the massive SLS rocket, as well as moving it to the launch pad and providing a platform from which it will launch.

According to a new report in NASASpaceflight.com, the expensive tower is "leaning" and "bending." For now, NASA says, the lean is not sufficient enough to require corrective action, but it is developing contingency plans in case the lean angle becomes steeper.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tesla cloud systems exploited by hackers to mine cryptocurrency

ZDnet News - February 20, 2018 - 3:00pm
Updated: Researchers have discovered that Tesla's AWS cloud systems were compromised for the purpose of cryptojacking.

Work From Home Tips: Videoconferencing, Standing Desk

Wired - February 20, 2018 - 3:00pm
Whether you’re Zooming it in or not sitting down on the job, here’s how to do it right.

Hangzhou and the Alibaba effect

BBC Technology News - February 20, 2018 - 2:55pm
The emergence of a tech behemoth transforms its hometown.

Replika app provides chats with dead friend

BBC Technology News - February 20, 2018 - 2:53pm
An entrepreneur makes an app that lets her have conversations with a virtual version of a deceased friend.

Doom on Switch may have changed everything with new motion controls

Ars Technica - February 20, 2018 - 2:45pm

Enlarge (credit: id Software)

id Software and partner studio Panic Button rolled out a patch to the Nintendo Switch version of Doom on Monday, and players dug in, hopeful for fixes to a few glaring issues. Indeed, we saw updates to issues like frame-rate snags and audio bugs. But the patch's most interesting effect was a complete surprise: a new "motion control" toggle.

Wait, what? Is this some sort of Wii-like waggle thing?

Far from it, turns out. id Software has surprisingly borrowed a page from Nintendo's playbook—but in doing so has also delivered a first for a first-person shooter.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

UK local gov: 37 cyber attacks a minute but little mandatory training

The Register - February 20, 2018 - 2:27pm
Campaigners blame gov bods' growing hunger for big data

Britain's local governments were hit by almost 100 million cyber attacks in the last five years, while one in four councils’ systems were successfully breached, according to research.…

Windows 10 on Arm: It will be more limited and here's how, reveals Microsoft

ZDnet News - February 20, 2018 - 2:11pm
Microsoft swiftly kills its doc on the limitations of Windows 10 on Arm and reposts them as troubleshooting issues.

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