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Industry & Technology

You’ll never see a more touching film about a 72-year-old alien experiencer

Ars Technica - 1 hour 14 min ago

Ars talks with Love & Saucers creators Matt Ralston and Brad Abrahams at Fantastic Fest 2017. (video link)

AUSTIN, Texas—Perhaps no film has ever set its tone so clearly within its first line as the new documentary Love & Saucers:

“When I was 17, I lost my virginity to a female extraterrestrial,” begins 72-year-old David Huggins. “That’s all I can say about it.”

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Here's how we can help Mother Nature save the Great Barrier Reef - CNET - News - 1 hour 26 min ago
Australia's reef is big, beautiful and on its deathbed. Nature can heal it, but she needs our help.

Dive Australia's Great Barrier Reef with Netflix and Google - CNET - News - 1 hour 53 min ago
Virtual reality travelling is here. So sit back on your couch and visit Australia's amazing reef.

Nintendo Switch’s first portable dock offers freedom, but with new shackles

Ars Technica - 2 hours 13 min ago

Enlarge / The author's Nintendo Switch, inserted into the Nyko Portable Docking Kit. (Cables aren't inserted into its backside for this product shot.) (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Nyko had clearly been watching my Nintendo Switch coverage. The accessory maker invited me to an E3 demo this summer with promises of all kinds of new, third-party Switch accessories, but this wasn't about carrying cases or screen protectors. The invite frontloaded one accessory above them all: the Nyko Portable Docking Kit.

Ever since I first played with a Switch, I've been wanting a reasonably priced, hyper-portable dock to toss into my laptop bag, to better enable an impromptu "let's hook Mario Kart up to a TV" party. Nintendo's official dock, as I found, is designed for nothing of the sort. Nyko demonstrated something that plain-and-simply got the job done. But that was during its flashy E3 demo—how would that translate into a final product?

The answer finally arrived in my mailbox this week, following a quiet rollout to retailers in the States. The result is modest and gets the job done, though its specific issues may very well be dealbreakers for people who want it all in a truly portable Switch dock.

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How Jane Goodall became Jane Goodall

Ars Technica - 3 hours 13 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Jane Goodall is an exceptional figure in many ways. Starting with no formal training and using controversial methods, she made astonishing breakthroughs in understanding the social behavior of chimpanzees and thus understanding ourselves. She managed to become an extremely rare species: a scientist who was also a media darling. And, after dedicating many years of her life to her research (at significant personal sacrifice), she left it behind to become a global spokesperson for sustainable development and conservation.

How did that happen? That's the subject of a new National Geographic documentary Jane. The movie is primarily based on recently rediscovered footage filmed by noted wildlife filmmaker Hugo van Lawick, who was assigned by National Geographic to film Goodall's field work. van Lawick was there to capture a key transition in Goodall's research and drove one in her personal life: the two would end up marrying and having a son.

While it was a pivotal time and the original footage is stunning, it provides a limited window into Goodall's history. Other pivotal events pass by in a flash or are skipped entirely. Whether that bothers you is probably a key determinant of how much you'll enjoy Jane.

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Evolution experiment has now followed 68,000 generations of bacteria

Ars Technica - 4 hours 14 min ago

Enlarge / Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli (E. coli), grown in culture and adhered to a cover slip. (credit: NIAID / Flickr)

On February 24, 1988, Richard Lenski seeded 12 flasks with E. coli and set them up to shake overnight at 37ºC. But he seeded them with only enough nutrients to grow until early the next morning. Every single afternoon since then, he (or someone in his lab) has taken 100 microliters of each bacterial solution, put them into a new flask with fresh growth media, and put the new flask in the shaker overnight. Every 75 days—about 500 bacterial generations—some of the culture goes into the freezer.

The starvation conditions are a strong pressure for evolution. And the experiment includes its own time machine to track that evolution.

The pivotal piece of technology enabling this experiment is the -80ºC freezer. It acts essentially, Lenski says, as a time machine. The freezer holds the bacterial cultures in a state of suspended animation; when they are thawed, they are completely viable and their fitness can be compared to that of their more highly evolved descendants shaking in their flasks. As an analogy, imagine if we could challenge a hominin from 50,000 years ago to a hackathon. (Which she would probably win, because the paleo diet.)

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Several women accuse tech pundit Robert Scoble of sexual harassment

Ars Technica - 6 hours 9 min ago

Enlarge / Robert Scoble, as seen in 2013. (credit: JD Lasica)

Robert Scoble, a longtime fixture of the Silicon Valley punditocracy, has been publicly accused of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women.

In a public Facebook post on Friday, Scoble wrote that he was "deeply sorry to the people I’ve caused pain to. I know I have behaved in ways that were inappropriate."

"I know that apologies are not enough and that they don’t erase the wrongs of the past or the present," he continued. "The only thing I can do to really make a difference now is to prove, through my future behavior, and my willingness to listen, learn and change, that I want to become part of the solution going forward."

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Google's first custom smartphone chip, transferring neural networks across languages – and more

The Register - 7 hours 57 min ago
Dive in

Roundup Hello, this week's roundup includes AI news from the past two weeks. AI is so hyped, it doesn't help when companies like Intel and Nvidia announce new chips and reveal little information about specs, but make lofty claims of increased speed and precision.…

I went to buy a Pixel 2. Verizon tried to sell me a Galaxy S8 - CNET - News - 18 hours 51 min ago
Commentary: Verizon is Google's exclusive partner for the Pixel 2 phone. But I wouldn't have known that after a chat with a Verizon salesman.

What to play this weekend: South Park, Gran Turismo, Fire Emblem Warriors - CNET - News - October 21, 2017 - 9:58pm
Sean gets a little help from Sean this week.

Shaun's high-end audio and video obsession led to this - CNET - News - October 21, 2017 - 9:13pm
In this installment of CNET's Show Us Yours, Shaun's gives us a tour of his insanely upscale audio system and downstairs home theater. Don't ask how much it cost.

KEF’s R300 speaker is a knockout - CNET - News - October 21, 2017 - 7:47pm
The Audiophiliac loves the KEF R300 stand-mount speaker’s sleek design and rich sound.

$99 gizmo kicks up your headphones' sound at home - CNET - News - October 21, 2017 - 6:47pm
Would you drop $99 on a Schiit Magni 3 if it could make your headphones sound better?

CO₂ benefits of regrowing forests nothing to shake a stick at

Ars Technica - October 21, 2017 - 6:30pm

Enlarge (credit: Patrick Shepherd/CIFOR)

It’s a common suggestion that we should just plant trees to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, but this isn’t quite the solution it may seem. Reforestation would roughly make up for the carbon added to the atmosphere by past deforestation, but our burning of fossil fuels is another matter.

Still, that’s no argument to ignore reforestation. There is no silver bullet solution to climate change, and many things like reforestation add up to make meaningful contributions. And reforestation has a host of other benefits, including improving air quality and providing species with habitats.

So how much of a difference could efforts to save and regrow forests—together with conservation of other ecosystems—really do? That’s the question asked by a group led by Bronson Griscom, an ecologist at The Nature Conservancy. By including a broad set of possible reforestation actions, Griscom and his colleagues found a larger opportunity than we'd previously estimated.

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iPhone 8 Plus vs Pixel 2: Which phone records better video? - CNET - News - October 21, 2017 - 6:00pm
These two phones go head-to-head in a video camera comparison.

Apple gets sued over Animoji trademark - CNET - News - October 21, 2017 - 5:24pm
A Japanese company says it claimed rights to animated emoji before Apple did.

'Golden Compass' author Philip Pullman touts 'darker' prequel - CNET - News - October 21, 2017 - 5:19pm
It's been 17 years since Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy wrapped up, and a decade since "Compass" hit the big screen. The wait for a follow-up is over.

Pixel 2 vs. iPhone 8 Plus: Which camera is better? - CNET - News - October 21, 2017 - 4:59pm
The Pixel 2 and the iPhone 8 Plus battle it out to determine which phone's camera does better portraits, landscape selfies and low-light shots.

Here are sci-fi inspired supplies for binging Stranger Things next weekend

Ars Technica - October 21, 2017 - 3:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

I love October. As an avid baker and Halloween reveler, I usually spend the whole month whipping up my favorite fall desserts and packing in as many gnarly sci-fi and horror flicks as possible. It’s just not October without the smell of spiced apples baking in the oven, knife-wielding serial killers, sage and sausage stuffing, flesh-eating zombies, pumpkin bread, and ferocious aliens.

But this year—this October—is extra special. With the upcoming release of the much anticipated second season of Stranger Things, I, along with some folks at Ars, thought we should go a little bigger. I’ve spliced together my two favorite pastimes to create sci-fi inspired treats that can fuel a lengthy, nostalgia-fueled Netflix binge.

I could pull out a themed recipe or two that would provide adequate sustenance for a binge of the entire new season plus a full re-watching of the first season. But this isn’t amateur hour. There’s just so much amazing sci-fi to celebrate.

Read 48 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The 43 best Android games of 2017 - CNET - News - October 21, 2017 - 2:30pm
These are unequivocally the best Android games on the planet and some of the best games on any system right now.

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