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Industry & Technology

Galaxy mergers hide ravenous supermassive black holes

Ars Technica - November 14, 2018 - 5:33pm

Enlarge / When galaxies collide. (credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team)

Black holes are… um, black. The point of a black hole is that the force of gravity is strong enough to prevent light from escaping its grasp. But the matter that is being sucked into a black hole is not at all happy about its fate. The matter gets hot and bothered and starts to glow very brightly before it reaches the black hole. This produces what are called luminous accreting black holes.

Most black holes are proud of themselves, sucking down matter right before our very eyes. But others are shy and seem to hide their antisocial behavior, raising questions about whether they were actually there. It turns out that these murderous monsters are hiding behind the gas clouds created by galaxy collisions. It took a serious amount of detective work to penetrate the fog.

Introducing the eyewitnesses

Astronomers have long recognized that not everything in the Universe happens slowly. Sure, our Sun will be stable for billions of years, but when things start to go wrong, they go downhill quickly (use your remaining eight minutes wisely). Likewise, when something big gets sucked into a black hole, it sends a last desperate SOS in the form of a bright X-ray flash.

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Comcast forced to pay refunds after its hidden fees hurt customers’ credit

Ars Technica - November 14, 2018 - 5:18pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich / Getty)

Comcast has agreed to pay $700,000 in refunds "and cancel debts for more than 20,000 Massachusetts customers" to settle allegations that it used deceptive advertising to promote long-term cable contracts, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced yesterday. "Comcast stuck too many Massachusetts customers with lengthy, expensive contracts that left many in debt and others with damaged credit," Healey said.

The Massachusetts AG alleged that Comcast violated state consumer protection laws by "fail[ing] to adequately disclose the actual monthly price and terms of its long-term contracts for cable services, including failing to disclose to customers that the company could increase the price of certain monthly fees at any point during the long-term contracts."

Comcast advertised a $99 lock-in rate "but did not adequately disclose equipment costs and mandatory monthly fees" that would add to monthly bills, and "failed to adequately disclose that the fees could increase while the customer was locked into the long-term contract," the AG investigation found.

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New Range Rover Evoque teased in wireframe ahead of Nov. 22 debut - Roadshow - News - November 14, 2018 - 5:16pm
The real thing will, presumably, not be made of wire.

Walmart agrees to work with Ford on self-driving grocery delivery pilot

Ars Technica - November 14, 2018 - 5:10pm

Enlarge (credit: Ford)

Ford is working with Postmates and Walmart on a pilot program for self-driving grocery deliveries, the companies announced on Wednesday.

"We are exploring how self-driving vehicles can deliver many everyday goods such as groceries, diapers, pet food and personal care items," Ford said in a press release.

The grocery delivery pilot experiment will be based in Miami, where Ford's self-driving car company, Argo, is already testing self-driving vehicles. Ford had been testing self-driving deliveries with Postmates prior to this announcement.

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Every Christmas movie on Netflix - CNET - News - November 14, 2018 - 5:00pm
Get your hot cocoa and fuzzy blankets ready!

Cave acoustics can help sculpt more realistic sounds in digital space

Ars Technica - November 14, 2018 - 4:46pm

Enlarge / Slim pickings: A search for “cave” in Altiverb sampling software shows Howe’s Cavern in NY and two locations in Malta, in addition to several human-made structures. (credit: Yuri Lysoivanov)

Sound is very much an ephemeral phenomenon. So when acoustician Yuri Lysoivanov wanted to capture the unique acoustics of natural caves, he lugged all his recording equipment to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky to analyze the reverberations and resonances. He described this experience at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Victoria, Canada, earlier this month.

Reverberation is a critical design element, especially for performance spaces. It's not the same as an echo, which is what happens when a sound repeats. Reverb is what happens indoors when sound can't travel sufficient distance to produce those echoing delays. Instead, you get a continuous ring that gradually "decays" (fades).

American audio engineer Bill Putnam was the first person to use "artificial reverb" for commercial recording in the late 1940s with the Harmonicats' "Peg o' My Heart"—achieved by placing a microphone and loudspeaker in the recording studio's bathroom. (Bathroom and subway tiles have excellent reverberation, which is why buskers have their favorite spots in New York City's subway stations.) Today, one of the most popular digital techniques is called convolution reverb, which uses recordings of the acoustics of real spaces to produce highly realistic simulations of those spaces.

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B&H preempts Black Friday with 2018 MacBook Air discounts up to $150 - CNET - News - November 14, 2018 - 4:45pm
Multiple configurations are on sale now starting at $1,099.

AmazonBasics Microwave review: Alexa makes you popcorn, orders more in this compact, affordable microwave - CNET - Reviews - November 14, 2018 - 4:38pm
Use Alexa to control the new AmazonBasics Microwave and you might not want to go back to cooking without voice commands.

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean hackers won't nuke your employer into the ground tomorrow

The Register - November 14, 2018 - 4:30pm
Black Hat survey on infosec's darkest fears

The number one thing worrying infosec bods right now is… yup, you guessed it, a giant targeted attack that KOs their employers' systems.…

Man in deadly Call of Duty 'swatting' hoax pleads guilty - CNET - News - November 14, 2018 - 4:29pm
Tyler Barriss, who pleaded guilty to 51 charges, faces at least 20 years in prison.

Best Black Friday 2018 deals: Storage, SSD and flash drives - CNET - News - November 14, 2018 - 4:20pm
Here's a list of the top storage deals as they are revealed for the biggest shopping day of the year.

The best Black Friday 2018 deal on the Apple HomePod - CNET - News - November 14, 2018 - 4:19pm
Who's got the best price on Apple's rarely discounted smart speaker?

Preview the new Range Rover Evoque through a series of tubes - Roadshow - News - November 14, 2018 - 4:05pm
The real thing will make its world debut on Nov. 22.

Black Friday 2018: Best PS4, Xbox One, Switch deals - CNET - News - November 14, 2018 - 4:04pm
Whether you're holiday shopping or just looking for a great deal, Black Friday is the best time to buy a new gaming console.

Podcast app Pocket Casts relaunches, hoping to make podcasts less excruciating to find - CNET - News - November 14, 2018 - 4:00pm
It's the app's coming-out party after being taken over by the biggest forces in US public radio.

Black Friday 2018 Target deals: $200 PS4 and Xbox bundles, $150 Fitbit Versa and more - CNET - News - November 14, 2018 - 3:55pm
Google Home Hub for $100. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for $200. Half-price on Google and Alexa smart speakers. Target is going head-to-head with Amazon, Walmart and more.

Black Friday 2018 streamer deals: Roku, Chromecast and Fire TV, starting at $20 - CNET - News - November 14, 2018 - 3:50pm
It's never been cheaper to get Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, ESPN, DirecTV Now and more to your TV. Here are the best discounts (so far) on our favorite streamers.

Researchers discover seven new Meltdown and Spectre attacks

ZDnet News - November 14, 2018 - 3:44pm
Experiments showed that processors from AMD, ARM, and Intel are affected.

Samsung unveils next-generation 8nm Exynos silicon

The Register - November 14, 2018 - 3:41pm
It's pop-AI but tailored, fans

Samsung has unveiled the next-gen chips that will power its smartphones and tablets (and crypto-miners). And it hopes others will use them too.…

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