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Industry & Technology

Ready Player One arrives—abundant references intact—in its first full trailer

Ars Technica - December 11, 2017 - 8:12pm

It's here, folks.

After an initial glimpse at this summer's San Diego Comic-Con, the first full trailer for Ready Player One premiered this weekend. Author Ernest Cline brought the footage to his hometown theater—Austin, Texas' Alamo Drafthouse—and live-streamed it (with a post-roll Q&A) for fans worldwide on the film's Facebook page.

"If Willy Wonka was a game designer instead of a candy maker and held his golden-ticket contest inside the world's greatest video game, that's kind of the essence of what the story is," Cline said.

For those unfamiliar with Cline's best-seller, Ready Player One is the story of a kid growing up in the near future, dreaming of escape from his life in a massive, dystopian trailer park. Our hero Wade Watts only finds real happiness in The OASIS, a massive multiplayer VR world where he can indulge his love for 1980s pop culture. (See flashes of The Iron Giant, Battletoads, Lara Croft, Chun-Li, Overwatch characters, and many, many more.)

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Net neutrality repeal based on false description of Internet, inventors say

Ars Technica - December 11, 2017 - 7:58pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Yagi Studio)

The Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality repeal "is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology," a group of inventors and technologists told members of Congress and the FCC in a letter today.

The letter's 21 signers include Internet Protocol co-inventor Vint Cerf; World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee; Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, public-key cryptography inventors Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman; RSA public-key encryption algorithm co-inventor Ronald Rivest; Paul Vixie, who designed several widely used Domain Name System (DNS) protocol extensions and applications; and security expert and professor Susan Landau, who has fought against government attempts to make phone encryption less secure. The letter was also signed by former chief technologists at both the FCC and Federal Trade Commission, David Farber and Steven Bellovin, respectively.

FCC’s “flawed” understanding of Internet

The letter calls for a delay of this Thursday's FCC vote to deregulate broadband service and eliminate net neutrality rules. It says:

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Apple scoops up Shazam for a musical score - CNET - News - December 11, 2017 - 7:50pm
It's not quite $3 billion for Beats, but still: Apple confirms it'll buy the music recognition app to bolster its Spotify competitor, Apple Music.

What to expect from Apple in 2018 (The 3:59, Ep. 330) - CNET - News - December 11, 2017 - 7:28pm
We run through predictions for the iPhone, Siri, AR and Mac.

Get rich quick on Amazon? Lawsuits target alleged scammers - CNET - News - December 11, 2017 - 7:16pm
Suits by Amazon and the state of Washington allege that two brothers charged people up to $35,000 for sham coaching on how to sell products on the site.

Workhorse Group applies for $250M gov't manufacturing loan - Roadshow - News - December 11, 2017 - 7:13pm
The money will help the company build its first electric pickup truck, the W-15.

New Ruski hacker clan exposed: They're called MoneyTaker, and they're gonna take your money

The Register - December 11, 2017 - 6:58pm
Subtly named group has gone largely unnoticed until now

Security researchers have lifted the lid on a gang of Russian-speaking cybercrooks, dubbed MoneyTaker.…

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 review: A ramshackle wonder

Ars Technica - December 11, 2017 - 6:46pm

Enlarge / Rex's "stare at the sky" POV is all too commonly shared by the game's actual camera.

Lock an infinite number of monkeys in a room with an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite amount of time, and I’m not sure they’d ever come up with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The action-JRPG so greatly lacks a cohesive style—mechanically and artistically—that its very absence becomes its cohesive style. It’s a mishmash of ideas from MMOs, anime, gacha games, science fiction, fantasy, management sims, satire, melodrama, and probably a load of other stuff I haven’t even seen.

But just like the classic adage about simians writing Shakespeare, given enough time, it kind of works.

It does not give that impression at first. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 leads with some of the most generic setup and characters I’ve seen since the PlayStation 2 era, when everyone and their uncle put out six 80-hour RPGs a month. You start as Rex: a determined young man on his own. He meets a magical girl who is wanted by an empire, among others, and goes off on an adventure where he slowly accrues party members of various stripes. Some of those party members get amnesia, of course, because what JRPG is complete without an amnesiac subplot?

If that all sounds like the plot of every JRPG in the past 20 years to you, you’re not alone. That familiarity, plus the game’s well-documented and tacky ogling of its female lead, had me ready to roll my eyes right off the screen for the first couple hours or so. The poor start is especially egregious given the incredibly evocative intro to the original Xenoblade Chronicles—which was set on a world made from the interlocked corpses of two continent-sized colossi.

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Apple in 2018: Five questions we need to ask - CNET - News - December 11, 2017 - 6:44pm
The company had a big year in 2017. Could next year be even bigger?

Ataribox preorders set to open Dec. 14 - CNET - News - December 11, 2017 - 6:39pm
Make room on your classic-console-reboot shelf.

'DJI Mavic' drone seen menacing London City airliner after takeoff

The Register - December 11, 2017 - 6:31pm
UK Airprox Board say it was 'endangering other aircraft'

A "DJI Mavic type" drone was flown close to an airliner leaving London City Airport in September, a recently published UK Airprox Board report has revealed.…

Microsoft's new Unified Support plan may result in price increases

ZDnet News - December 11, 2017 - 6:29pm
Gartner is warning that Microsoft's new Unified Support program for business users could result in higher costs for some organizations.

Laptop touchpad driver included extra feature: a keylogger

Ars Technica - December 11, 2017 - 6:16pm

\ (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Flaws in software often offer a potential path for attackers to install malicious software, but you wouldn't necessarily expect a hardware vendor to include potentially malicious software built right into its device drivers. But that's exactly what a security researcher found while poking around the internals of a driver for a touchpad commonly used on HP notebook computers—a keystroke logger that could be turned on with a simple change to its configuration in the Windows registry.

The logger, which could potentially be leveraged by an attacker or malware to harvest login credentials and other data, was discovered by security reasearcher Michael Myng (also known as ZwClose) lurking within driver software for Synaptics touchpads—used by hundreds of HP and Compaq business and consumer notebook computer models, as well as many other Windows notebook computers from other manufacturers. Myng disclosed the discovery on his blog on December 7 after the problem was disclosed to HP.

The keylogger was apparently included for debugging during development and is disabled by default. However, a user or software with administrative privileges could activate the keylogger by making a registry change—potentially remotely using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) or PowerShell scripts. Once turned on, it captures keystrokes and generates a trace log file.

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Apple Shazam: Why is the US company buying the music app?

BBC Technology News - December 11, 2017 - 6:09pm
Rivalry against Spotify and augmented reality ambitions are two possible reasons for the takeover.

UK lacks engineering and tech skillz to make government's industrial strategy work – report

The Register - December 11, 2017 - 5:58pm
Your lip service is all very well, but where are the people?

A lack of skills in the engineering and technical workforce could hold up the government's industrial strategy, according to a report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.…

Want hot new Ars merch for Christmas? Order today

Ars Technica - December 11, 2017 - 5:42pm

We've re-launched our Ars Technica merch store just in time for the holidays, and the response has been great—"Nuke it from orbit" mugs and Ars hyperspace logo T-shirts are flying off the virtual shelves.

If you're pondering an order and want to make sure it arrives by Christmas, order today to avoid disappointment. Between the time needed to print the shirts and the time needed to ship them, December 11 is the final day to place most orders for Christmas delivery. Here are the shipping options that will still get your merch to you by December 25:

USPS Priority Mail: Dec 11
FedEx 2 Day: Dec 11
FedEx International Priority: Dec 11
FedEx Standard Overnight: Dec 12

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'Star Wars: Last Jedi' gets early raves: 'I'm still shaking' - CNET - News - December 11, 2017 - 5:37pm
Rian Johnson's "Jedi" wins early praise for its action and appearance. But the film's got depth, many say, with one viewer noting an "emotional payoff decades in the making."

Server winners and losers: HPE, Dell EMC still sitting pretty at the top, but uh-oh Lenovo

The Register - December 11, 2017 - 5:32pm
Beware the 'Others', who now make up 48% of shipments

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Dell EMC top the league tables for server revenue and sales in Q3, but face rapid growth from its global competition, according to a new Gartner report.…

Hybrids beat EVs as self-driving cars, Ford exec claims - Roadshow - News - December 11, 2017 - 5:28pm
He's got a point, for now.

FCC chair still refuses to help investigate net neutrality comment fraud

Ars Technica - December 11, 2017 - 5:06pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Peter Dazeley)

The Federal Communications Commission has again refused to help New York's attorney general investigate impersonation and other fraud in public comments on the FCC's net neutrality repeal.

For the past six months, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been "investigating who perpetrated a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC's notice and comment process" by filing fraudulent comments under real people's names. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's office has "refused multiple requests for crucial evidence in its sole possession," Schneiderman wrote in an open letter to Pai last month.

FCC General Counsel Thomas Johnson responded to Schneiderman on Pai's behalf Thursday and once again refused to provide the requested evidence.

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