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Industry & Technology

Airbnb is getting all fancy - CNET - News - February 23, 2018 - 12:03am
A remodel means the lodgings company will start catering to wealthier clients. It's also adding new rental types, like vacation homes and boutique hotels.

White nationalist Jared Taylor sues Twitter over account ban - CNET - News - February 22, 2018 - 11:39pm
Taylor and his American Renaissance group say permanently suspending their accounts is "censorship."

LG K8 and K10 pack nifty camera tricks into a midrange lineup - CNET - News - February 22, 2018 - 11:00pm
Days before MWC, LG unveils two new midtier Android Nougat phones.

Elon Musk tweets video of SpaceX’s first broadband satellites in space

Ars Technica - February 22, 2018 - 10:56pm

Enlarge / SpaceX's first Starlink broadband satellites. (credit: Elon Musk)

SpaceX founder Elon Musk today tweeted an eight-second video of the company's first broadband satellites, saying they are now "deployed and communicating to Earth stations."

First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, deployed and communicating to Earth stations

The demonstration satellites, named Tintin A and Tintin B, are being used to test SpaceX's future Starlink broadband service. Once all the necessary testing has been completed, the launch of operational satellites could begin sometime in 2019.

SpaceX's ultimate goal is to provide gigabit broadband worldwide, but the first tasks for these demo satellites are a bit simpler. Musk also tweeted that the satellites "will attempt to beam 'hello world'... when they pass near LA" on Friday morning.

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That microchipped e-passport you've got? US border cops still can't verify the data in it

The Register - February 22, 2018 - 10:54pm
Despite demanding world+dog gets one, Uncle Sam lacks tools to check crypto-signatures

Two Democratic US senators have formally asked Uncle Sam's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to get its act together on electronic passports.…

8,000-year-old heads on spikes found in Swedish lake

Ars Technica - February 22, 2018 - 10:50pm


In east-central Sweden, workers demolishing a railway that crossed the Motala Ström River discovered something bizarre. For roughly 7,500 years, a shallow, swampy lake in the area had hidden a pile of stones that contained the skeletal remains of at least 10 people and weapons made of stone and antler. They also found the bones of bears, deer, boar, and a badger. Two of the human skulls were mounted on pointed stakes.

Thousands of years ago, this semi-submerged burial ground must have been an imposing sight for the small settlements located nearby. A pile of rocks rose above the water, covered in weapons, wooden structures, and the grisly remains of fearsome animals—as well as the skulls of some carefully chosen people. Now dubbed “Kanaljorden,” the archaeological site has finally begun to yield some secrets about the people who created it. In a recent article for Antiquity, Stockholm University archaeologist Sara Gummesson and her colleagues explain what the evidence reveals about how this ritual site was used.

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Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross arrives in the US with $23,295 price tag - Roadshow - News - February 22, 2018 - 10:33pm
It'll go on sale in March, but I suppose you can wait by the port if you want to get near one sooner.

This fake-news video game turned me into a monster -- sad! - CNET - News - February 22, 2018 - 10:15pm
The online game Bad News lets you build your own fake-news empire. Who knew selling your social media soul could be so grotesquely fulfilling?

Smartphone sales fall for first time ever, says Gartner - CNET - News - February 22, 2018 - 9:58pm
A fourth quarter drop is the first year-over-year decline since the researcher started tracking sales. Samsung held the No. 1 position, followed by Apple.

Neanderthals were artists and thought symbolically, new studies argue

Ars Technica - February 22, 2018 - 9:41pm

Enlarge / Can you spot the three hand stencils? (credit: J. Zilhão)

Hominins have lived in Western Spain’s Maltravieso Cave off and on for the last 180,000 years. At some point in those long millennia of habitation, some of them left behind hand stencils, dots and triangles, and animal figures painted in red on the stone walls, often deep in the dark recesses of the cave. The art they left behind offers some of the clearest evidence for a key moment in human evolution: the development of the ability to use symbols, like stick-figure animals on a cave wall or spoken language.

Maltravieso, like La Pasiega in Northern Spain and Ardales Cave in the south, is a living cave, where water still flows, depositing carbonate minerals and shaping new rock formations. In these caves, flowstones and rock curtains have been slowly growing over ancient rock art. By dating those carbonate deposits, scientists can figure out a minimum age for the art without having to take samples from the pigment itself.

Now, two new studies have dated cave art and decorated shell jewelry from sites in Spain to at least 20,000 years before the first Homo sapiens arrived in Europe. That date offers the first clear evidence of Neanderthal art, which means our extinct relatives were also capable of symbolic thought. It’s a surprising discovery, says study coauthor Alistair Pike of the University of Southampton—but not all that surprising.

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America's broadband speed map is back! And it doesn't totally suck!

The Register - February 22, 2018 - 9:28pm
Now all we need is accurate info and prices

After four years in purgatory the US government's internet broadband map is back - and it's pretty good.…

The script for Star Wars: Episode IX is finished, J.J. Abrams says

Ars Technica - February 22, 2018 - 9:24pm

Enlarge (credit: Walt Disney Co.)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night, where he gave an update on the status of Star Wars: Episode IX. "We have a script," he said, "which is a big deal for me." Abrams also confirmed for Colbert that shooting will begin this July.

Abrams co-wrote the script with screenwriter Chris Terrio, best known for writing 2012's well-received Argo and 2016's far-less-well-received Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Abrams himself began his time in the film industry as a screenwriter; Colbert jokingly introduced him as "best known as the co-writer of the 1997 Joe Pesci and Danny Glover blockbuster comedy Gone Fishin'" rather than as the co-creator or executive producer of LostWestworld, and Alias or as the steward at various times of such mega-franchises as Star Wars, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible.

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SpaceX's internet satellites to beam down 'Hello world' from orbit

The Register - February 22, 2018 - 9:16pm
Birds launched today... but ship-borne catcher's mitt misses payload fairing catch

Video The first two internet-relaying satellites in SpaceX's Starlink constellation have been launched into Earth's orbit – and will begin broadcasting to the world this week.…

President Trump: “We have to do something” about violent video games, movies

Ars Technica - February 22, 2018 - 9:12pm

Enlarge / Donald Trump starred in this widely panned video game released in 2002. His White House comments on Thursday did not reference its potential influence on America's youth. (credit: Activision)

In a White House meeting held with lawmakers on the theme of school safety, President Donald Trump offered both a direct and vague call to action against violence in media by calling out video games and movies.

"We have to do something about what [kids are] seeing and how they're seeing it," Trump said during the meeting. "And also video games. I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is shaping more and more people's thoughts."

Trump followed this statement by referencing "movies [that] come out that are so violent with the killing and everything else." He made a suggestion for keeping children from watching violent films: "Maybe they have to put a rating system for that." The MPAA's ratings board began adding specific disclaimers about sexual, drug, and violent content in all rated films in the year 2000, which can be found in small text in every MPAA rating box.

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Car companies are preparing to sell driver data to the highest bidder

Ars Technica - February 22, 2018 - 9:04pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty)

The confluence of the technology and automotive industries has given us mobility. It's not a great name, conjuring images of people riding rascal scooters in big box stores or those weird blue invalid carriages that the government handed out in the UK back in the last century. But in this case, it's meant as a catch-all to cover a few related trends: autonomous driving, ride-hailing, and connected cars. The last of these is what I'm here to discuss today. Specifically, the results of a pair of surveys: one that looks at consumer attitudes and awareness of connected cars and another that polled industry people.

Love ’em or hate ’em, connected cars are here to stay

Connected cars are booming. On Tuesday, Chetan Sharma Consulting revealed that 2017 saw more new cars added to cellular networks than new cellphones. In particular, it noted that AT&T has been adding a million or more new cars to its network each quarter for the last 11 quarters. While Chetan Sharma didn't break out numbers for other service providers, it also revealed that Verizon is set to make at least $1 billion from IoT and telematics. And previous research from Gartner suggested that, this year, 98 percent of new cars will be equipped with embedded modems.

OEMs aren't just connecting cars for the fun of it; the idea is to actually improve their customers' experience with the cars. But right now, we're still missing an actual killer app—and to be honest, data on how many customers renew those cell contracts for their vehicles. A survey out this week from Solace that polled 1,500 connected car owners found that they still don't really trust the technology.

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Crush the right rock and spread it on farms to help soil and the climate

Ars Technica - February 22, 2018 - 8:47pm

Enlarge / Instead of adding crushed limestone to soil, we could opt for basalt. (credit: Mark Robinson)

The best response to a leaking pipe is to stop the leak. But even if you haven’t quite got the leak solved, a mop can keep the pool of water on your floor from spilling into the next room.

That’s kind of the situation we’re in with our emissions of greenhouse gases. The only real solution is to stop emitting them, but anything that removes existing CO2 from the atmosphere could help lower the peak warming we experience. Some techniques to do that sound like pipe dreams when you consider scaling them up, but others can plausibly make at least modest contributions.

A new paper from a group of authors led by David Beerling of the University of Sheffield argues the case that something that sounds a little wild—spreading crushed basalt over the world’s croplands—could actually be pretty practical.

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Tesla semi truck spotted smoking its tires in the wild - Roadshow - News - February 22, 2018 - 8:41pm
Elon Musk's Tesla semi truck isn't just good for hauling stuff, it can also haul some tuchus.

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update reaches 85 percent of PCs

Ars Technica - February 22, 2018 - 8:36pm

Enlarge (credit: AdDuplex)

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is now on almost all Windows 10 PCs, reaching 85 percent of machines, according to the latest numbers provided by AdDuplex.

One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the rollout of version 1709 suggests that Microsoft has found its rhythm for these updates. In response to a range of annoying problems around the deployment of version 1607, the company was very conservative with the release of version 1703. Microsoft uses a phased rollout scheme, initially pushing each update only to systems with hardware configurations known to be compatible and then expanding its availability to cover a greater and greater proportion of the Windows install base.

Version 1703 was only installed on around 75 percent of Windows 10 PCs when 1709 was released. 1709 has already passed that level, and we're still some weeks away from the release of 1803. Microsoft hasn't yet announced when that version will be released, but based on the releases of 1709 and 1703, we'd be very surprised to see it before around mid-April. The new version also doesn't yet have a name; we've hoped that Microsoft would just stick with version numbers (as the year-month version numbers are easy to understand and compare), but so far the company hasn't said anything on the matter.

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100-mile-range electric delivery van could beat diesel in lifetime cost

Ars Technica - February 22, 2018 - 8:18pm

Enlarge / A mockup of the Workhorse truck. (credit: Workhorse)

Electric van company Workhorse announced today that it will provide 50 custom-made all-electric vans with 100 miles of range to UPS for a price lower than that of comparable off-the-shelf diesel vans, without subsidies.

Getting cost-competitive with diesel vans in acquisition price is a big step, especially because total cost of ownership (TCO) is expected to be lower on electric vehicles. That means the Workhorse vans could be significantly cheaper than comparable vans over time.

TCO is generally lower on electric vehicles because fewer moving parts means less maintenance and, as long as filling up a tank with gasoline costs more than charging up a car on electricity, electric vehicle owners can expect to save over the lifetime of the vehicle. But electric vehicle upfront cost tends to be higher than that of a traditional vehicle because lithium-ion batteries are relatively expensive.

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NRA tweets 'Parks and Rec' GIF, angers Amy Poehler - CNET - News - February 22, 2018 - 8:04pm
The "Parks and Recreation" team isn't happy about the NRA using a Leslie Knope GIF in its Twitter feed.

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