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Industry & Technology

Amy Webb: Three things women need to know for the year 2030

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 48 min ago
Amy Webb is a renowned futurist - she looks back at the past and scours data to figure out what might be round the corner.

WeWork accepts multi-billion-dollar Softbank rescue deal

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 16 min ago
The cash-strapped office rental firm has accepted a bailout deal from Japanese backer Softbank.

Rover-drone combo hope to spot and destroy landmines

BBC Technology News - 11 hours 36 min ago
The system could eventually replace the need for humans to demine areas.

The founder of an over-50s dating app shares her secrets

BBC Technology News - 11 hours 44 min ago
The founder of a dating app for people over fifty shares her business advice with the BBC.

UK cyber-centre targets payment card fraud

BBC Technology News - 11 hours 50 min ago
Banks are being told which payment cards to watch by government cyber-experts targeting online thieves.

Katie Price, Lauren Goodger and Georgia Harrison Instagram posts banned

BBC Technology News - 11 hours 51 min ago
Advertising watchdog bans weight loss posts by Katie Price, Lauren Goodger and Georgia Harrison.

Microsoft’s DreamWalker VR turns your daily commute into a totally different one

Ars Technica - 12 hours 9 min ago

Enlarge / A user traverses a park while wearing a DreamWalker kit. (credit: Microsoft)

Researchers at Microsoft have developed new VR technologies that they claim allow users to remain fully immersed in a virtual world even while traversing public places in the real world on foot.

Microsoft describes the project, titled DreamWalker, as "a method for allowing people to safely navigate a given route in real-world environments, such as a daily walk to work, while seeing themselves strolling a different VR world, such as a city of their choosing." It was developed by researchers Jackie Yang, Eyal Ofek, Andy Wilson, and Christian Holz.

The company's research division published a blog post about the new research yesterday, and researchers will present the method at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology tomorrow.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Elon Musk sends tweet via SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband

Ars Technica - 12 hours 38 min ago

Enlarge / Starlink logo imposed on stylized image of the Earth. (credit: Starlink)

SpaceX's Starlink division is on track to offer satellite-broadband service in the United States in mid-2020, a company official said today. Meanwhile, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted two tweets that show he's testing the broadband service.

"Sending this tweet through space via Starlink satellite," Musk wrote. Two minutes later, Musk sent a followup tweet that said, "Whoa, it worked!!"

Sending this tweet through space via Starlink satellite

Facebook must face $35B facial-recognition lawsuit following court ruling

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 9:02pm

Enlarge / The Facebook app displayed on the screen of an iPhone. (credit: Fabian Sommer | picture alliance | Getty Images)

Facebook's most recent attempt to extricate itself from a potentially landmark lawsuit has come to a dead end, as a federal court declined to hear another appeal to stop the $35 billion class action.

In San Francisco last week, the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied Facebook's petition for an en banc hearing in the case. Usually, appeals cases are heard by a panel of three judges out of all the judges who work in a given circuit. An en banc hearing is a kind of appeal in which a much larger group of judges hears a case. In the 9th Circuit, 11 of the 29 judges sit on en banc cases.

Facebook had requested an en banc hearing to appeal the 9th's Circuit's August ruling, in which the court determined that the plaintiffs had standing to sue, even though Facebook's alleged actions did not cause them any quantifiable financial harm. The class-action suit can now move forward.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

After court loss, Ajit Pai complains about states regulating broadband

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 8:49pm

Enlarge / Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 23, 2018, in National Harbor, Maryland. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai may have belatedly concluded that federal regulation of broadband would be better for businesses than letting all 50 US states regulate Internet access.

Speaking at the WSJ Tech Live conference yesterday, Pai said that "a uniform, well-established set of regulations" is preferable to states regulating broadband individually. "[Pai] said allowing states and local governments to pass their own laws regulating Internet services, which inherently cross state lines, creates market uncertainty," according to CNET.

The CNET article included this direct quote from Pai:

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Study casts doubt on value of WHO’s “gaming disorder” diagnoses

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 8:35pm

Enlarge / Two gamers with obvious unmet psychological needs. (credit: Philip Sowels/​Future Publishing/​Shutterstock)

Since the World Health Organization proposed new diagnoses for "hazardous gaming" and "gaming disorder" last year, there's been an ongoing scientific debate about which way the causation for these issues really goes. Does an excessive or addictive relationship with gaming actually cause psychological problems, or are people with existing psychological problems simply more likely to have an unhealthy relationship with gaming?

A recent study by Oxford's Internet Institute, published in the open access journal Clinical Psychological Science, lends some support to the latter explanation. But it also highlights just how many of the game industry's most devoted players may also be driven by some unmet psychological needs.

Getting at the problem

To study how so-called "dysfunctional gaming" relates to psychological needs and behaviors, the Oxford researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,004 UK adolescents and their caregivers. They asked the caregivers to evaluate their adolescents' levels of "psychosocial functioning:" how well the adolescents are able to internalize or externalize problems in their lives as evidenced by their behavior.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Nikon Small World microscopy contest: We’re all winners

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 8:22pm

Enlarge / A copper oxide mineral's crystals look out of this world at high magnification. (credit: Dr. Emilio Carabajal Márquez)

Covering the news means that most of what you do is new. While you may revisit a topic, it typically only happens after something about that topic has changed. Nevertheless, fall science coverage has a certain familiarity. First, there's the utter insanity of the Ig Nobel prizes, followed shortly by the mad rush to explain why people are being given actual Nobel Prizes before the news goes stale.

Somewhere after that, however, I get to experience one of my favorite tasks of the entire year: wading through dozens of absolutely spectacular images, trying to figure out which ones are most compelling. Yes, it's time again for the Nikon Small World microscopy contest.

As you'll see below, there are no bad images. But the best of them are both works of art and reminders of how limited our perspective on the world around us can be. Change the scale, change the wavelengths, or alter how things are prepared, and even familiar items like amino acids or a flower can be radically different from how we normally experience them.

Read on Ars Technica | Comments

Dealmaster: Get a spare Xbox One controller for your Xbox, PC, or iPad for $40

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 8:10pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by a nice price on Microsoft's Xbox One wireless controller, which is down to $40 at various retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon. While this is not the lowest price we've seen—and while we can't say it won't drop a few bucks further by Black Friday—it's still $20 off the gamepad's MSRP and $10-15 off its usual going rate online.

One reason we highlight this deal is the recent launch of Apple's iOS 13 update, which added support for the Xbox One pad as well as Sony's DualShock 4 controller over Bluetooth (alongside a raft of new worthwhile games via the Apple Arcade service). Besides that, the usual notes still apply here: the Xbox One controller requires AA batteries whereas the DualShock 4 has a rechargeable battery that tends to degrade over time; the Xbox One pad is a bit easier to set up for PC games outside of Steam; whether the asymmetrical joysticks and trigger feel on Microsoft's pad is better is largely a matter of personal preference, and so on. Regardless, if you need a spare pad for using beyond an Xbox, this is a solid deal.

If you're good on controllers, though, we have plenty more discounts on USB-C PD wall chargers, microSD cards, Amazon devices, AMD Ryzen processors, Bluetooth headphones, and much more. Have a look for yourself below.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Robo-tank? Army picks contenders for robotic combat vehicle competition

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 7:56pm

Enlarge / Meet RoboTank, your future tank platoon mate. (credit: Textron)

On October 18, the National Advanced Mobility Consortium—an organization of industry and academic researchers contracted by the US government to develop autonomous ground systems for the military—announced the selection of four companies to build prototype light robotic combat vehicles for the US Army. These are "non-developmental" prototypes, meaning they're based on existing technologies that could be turned into deployable systems with relatively minor modifications.

The Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light (RCV-L) program is part of the Army Futures Command's Next Generation Combat Vehicle effort. It seeks to provide soldiers in mechanized infantry and armor units with robotic "wingmen" that extend their reach and effectiveness on the battlefield. The Army hopes to have prototypes of the RCV-L as well as a heavier vehicle (the Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium) in full testing in 2020. Two of each design will be fielded as "platoons" for testing, with the goal of wide deployment of tankbots by 2028.

Working in concert with new crewed combat vehicles, the robotic vehicles would provide additional sensors and firepower to bring to bear on an enemy in the field. By using robots to make the "first contact" with an enemy, unit commanders would be given more time to make decisions before committing human soldiers to the fight—or at least, that's the doctrinal thinking behind the Army's robotic combat crew goals.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google Fi will soon connect you to two LTE networks at once

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 6:23pm


Google Fi is getting an upgrade today with what Google is calling "Dual Connect" technology—the ability to connect to two of Google Fi's licensed mobile networks at once for faster switching.

With Google Fi, Google is operating as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)—a company that doesn't build its own networks but instead resells network access owned by one of the big carriers. Instead of doing this for one network, Google does it for three. Google Fi gives you access to Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular, picking the fastest network available at any given time. Normally, switching between these networks requires a small amount of disconnect time, but with this new "dual connect" technology, Fi phones will be able to hop between two networks seamlessly. Google says: "if you’re watching a video and Fi switches you to a better network, you won't experience any delays or pauses—you won’t even notice."

Getting this feature to work on a smartphone is a bit of a hack, and for now it will only work with the freshly released Pixel 4. Google is using Dual Sim Dual Standby (DSDS) hardware to connect to two networks at once, which isn't that crazy of an idea, but it's using DSDS to connect twice to the same network, that network being Google Fi. You'll have to have Fi activated on the internal eSim chip and have a physical card installed in the device, allowing your two SIMs to each pick one of Fi's MVNO networks. If you've been a purely eSIM Google Fi user, which normally needs no physical SIM chip, you'll need to order a physical SIM card, which you can do for free through the Google Fi app.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

How Flagstaff, Arizona, switched to LEDs without giving astronomers a headache

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 6:01pm

Enlarge / A couple of different types of dark-sky-friendly LED streetlights. (credit: Scott K. Johnson)

“I feel like we’re protecting the last tree, in a way.” That’s what Flagstaff, Arizona, city council member Austin Aslan said at a recent meeting. The subject of that earnest statement might surprise you: it was streetlights. To be more specific, he was talking about a careful effort to prevent streetlights from washing out the stars in the night sky.

Flagstaff became the first city to earn a designation from the International Dark Sky Association in 2001. That came as a result of its long history of hosting astronomy research at local Lowell Observatory, as well as facilities operated by the US Navy. The city has an official ordinance governing the use of outdoor lighting—public and private.

Lighting issues

A few years ago, though, a problem arose. The type of dark-sky-friendly streetlight that the city had been using was going extinct, largely as a casualty of low demand. In fact, as of this summer, there are none left to buy. Meanwhile, the age of the LED streetlight has arrived with a catch: limited night-sky-friendly LED options.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Neanderthal glue was a bigger deal than we thought

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 5:50pm

This replica shows how Neanderthals might have used birch tar to haft a projectile point. (credit: Paul R. B. Kozowyk)

Fifty-thousand years ago, a Neanderthal living in Northwestern Europe put sticky birch tar on the back side of a sharp flint flake to make the tool easier to grip. Eventually, that tool washed down the Rhine or Meuse Rivers and out into the North Sea. In the 21st century, dredging ships scooped it up along with tons of sand, other stone tools, and fossilized bones, then dumped the whole pile on Zandmotor Beach in the Netherlands.

Despite all of that, the birch tar still clung to the flake, and it provides evidence that Neanderthals used a complex set of technology to make elaborate tools.

Living on the edge

Making birch tar at all is a fairly complex process. It takes multiple steps, lots of planning, and detailed knowledge of the materials and the process. So the fact that archaeologists have found a handful of tools hafted using birch tar tells us that Neanderthals were (pardon the pun) pretty sharp.

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The Flying V would be unlike any other passenger airliner, even in 2040

Ars Technica - October 22, 2019 - 5:05pm

Dutch airline KLM turned 100 earlier this month and decided to give itself a birthday present: a shiny, sleek, futuristic-looking, sustainable aircraft. Or at least the possibility of one in 2040. "This could be the next thing," says Dr. Roelf Vos, professor of flight performance and propulsion at Delft University of Technology and the head researcher on the Flying V project. "It at least deserves some investigation."

The Flying V, touted in press releases as "revolutionary," is what is known as a blended wing body, or BWB, aircraft, a design with no distinct wing and a body structure like more conventional aircraft. The shape reduces drag, which means the plane needs less fuel to operate. TU Delft claims the Flying V will consume 20% less fuel than a similarly sized traditional aircraft. "These are estimates," cautions Vos. "We still have 5-10 years of research before we could test a full-scale aircraft."

The design of the Flying V wasn't invented by Vos or even TU Delft or KLM; it was the idea of a Technical University of Berlin student, Justus Benad, working on his thesis project at airplane maker Airbus. He tested a scale model in 2014, and Airbus patented the design but didn't move further on the project. Vos saw the concept in a news article in 2015 and wondered if Benad's calculations were accurate. "I was skeptical," he said. He had two students review the concepts, one of whom went to Berlin to meet with Benad, and, together, they concluded the concept had potential.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

'Sensitive US Army data 'exposed by online leak'

BBC Technology News - October 22, 2019 - 3:50pm
Hotel room numbers, phone numbers and names were left exposed on an unencrypted server, researchers say.

Cloudflare embroiled in child abuse row

BBC Technology News - October 22, 2019 - 3:22pm
Campaigners accuse the company of making it harder to restrict abusive images.

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