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Industry & Technology

HQ Trivia: Quiz app ends with drunken broadcast after 'running out of money'

BBC Technology News - 42 min 35 sec ago
A buyout collapsed, leading to the app closing and a presenter paying for final game's $5 prize.

Samsung’s “Ultra Thin Glass” doesn’t seem much stronger than plastic

Ars Technica - 1 hour 46 min ago

Enlarge / The Galaxy Z Flip's "glass" isn't any more scratch-resistant than plastic. (credit: JerryRigEverything)

There comes a point in the life of every foldable smartphone when, after a wave of hype and highly controlled early looks, the phone actually hits the hands of the general public—and durability issues immediately pop up. We've seen it with the Galaxy Fold, which died in the hands of reviewers and was delayed for six months; the Huawei Mate X, which had its launch limited to China and broke after a single drop; and the Moto Razr, which has a creaky hinge that jams easily and a display that delaminates. This weekend it was the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip's turn to disappoint us. The initial shipments are going out, and we're already seeing that Samsung's much-hyped flexible glass cover isn't much more durable than plastic.

YouTuber JerryRigEverything regularly does destructive durability tests on phones, partly by attacking a device with a set of Mohs picks. These pointy metal tools that are calibrated to the Mohs scale of mineral hardness allow a user to determine the hardness of a surface by doing a scratch test. You start with the softest pick and work your way up the set until you find something that can scratch the surface you're testing. A modern smartphone with Corning's Gorilla Glass scratches at level 6 on the Mohs hardness scale.

The Galaxy Z Flip features a first-of-its-kind flexible glass cover that Samsung calls "Ultra-Thin Glass." Until now, foldables have had to suffer through life with plastic display covers, which scratch easily, don't provide much protection, and just like a resistive touchscreen, feel bad to swipe around on, thanks to the squishy pliability of the display. With this new invention of flexible glass, the Z Flip promised a return to a hard, smooth, scratch-resistant display surface.

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Coronavirus cancels F1 and Formula E races, could make EU miss CO2 target

Ars Technica - 2 hours 2 min ago

Enlarge / A man wearing a face mask rides his bicycle along an empty street in Beijing on February 12, 2020. (credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Coronavirus disease 2019—COVID-19 to its friends—hasn't racked up a bodycount like the influenza epidemic of 1918, but in this far more globalized world, it's still causing quite a degree of havoc. There are now over 71,000 confirmed cases reported so far, and fears of that number growing by orders of magnitude have resulted in the postponement or cancellation of large public events both in China and beyond. Last week we learned that Mobile World Congress, an annual tradeshow in Spain, won't happen in 2020—now we can start adding auto shows to that list.

On Monday, it emerged that the Beijing auto show—which was scheduled for April of this year—will be postponed, presumably until the health crisis is over. According to Autocar, rumors that the show would be cancelled or postponed had been circulating for a week, with no official response until now.

The Beijing auto show is in good company; last week the promoters of the Chinese Grand Prix—an F1 race scheduled to take place in Shanghai on April 19—successfully petitioned the FIA (the sport's organizing body) and Formula 1 to postpone the event until an as-yet-undecided date toward the end of the 2020 F1 season. Although there is no official word on the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix—set for April 5—some in the sport are concerned about attending that race in Asia as well.

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Z Flip and Razr: Folding screens bubble and scratch, tests find

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 52 min ago
Reviewers find more durability issues in new handsets from Samsung and Motorola.

Police force denies creating 'child hacker' poster

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 18 min ago
The poster said the authorities should be told about children who had tools used by cyber-security experts.

SpaceX nailed the launch but missed a landing on Monday [Updated]

Ars Technica - 4 hours 34 min ago

Enlarge / SpaceX launched its first batch of operational Starlink satellites in November. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

10:15am ET Update: The launch of a Falcon 9 rocket proceeded normally on Monday morning, but just when the first stage was due to land on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship, the rocket did not appear. Later in the SpaceX webcast, the company confirmed that the first stage made a "soft landing" in the water near the drone ship. SpaceX has yet to provide any additional details about what may have gone awry during the landing attempt.

Meanwhile, 60 Starlink satellites were successfully deployed into an elliptical orbit. Over the coming weeks they will use on-board thrusters to circularize their orbits.

Original post: SpaceX is readying a Falcon 9 rocket for the launch of 60 more Starlink satellites on Monday morning. If successful, the mission will bring the total number of satellites in its low-earth orbit Internet constellation to nearly 300.

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Charging into the mainstream: Volvo electrifies its first class-8 truck

Ars Technica - 5 hours 8 min ago

The reality of a production-ready fully electric semi is now upon us, at least for the short-haul routes. Last week, Volvo Trucks revealed the VNR Electric, the centerpiece of an ambitious and highly collaborative $90-million pilot project. It's known as Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solution, or LIGHTS for short. In addition to Volvo, which has invested $36.7 million, 14 other entities from both the public sector and private enterprise have signed on to this collaboration.

"Bringing electric trucks commercially to market takes more than the launch of the truck," says Keith Brandis, vice president of partnerships and strategic solutions at Volvo Group. "With the LIGHTS program, Volvo and its partners are working on creating a true holistic strategy," simultaneously studying not only the performance of the truck itself, but also variables such as maintenance needs, route logistics, infrastructure requirements, and environmental impact.

"Goods movement in the region is one of the biggest contributors to smog-causing emissions and 22 percent of emissions from California's overall transport sector," says Harmeet Singh, chief technology officer at Greenlots, the company developing and deploying the charging infrastructure for the LIGHTS program. "Our goal for the project is to demonstrate that electric trucks and the requisite charging infrastructure and systems are ready for real-world application," Singh told Ars.

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Linux distro review: Intel’s own Clear Linux OS

Ars Technica - 5 hours 22 min ago

Intel's Clear Linux distribution has been getting a lot of attention lately, due to its incongruously high benchmark performance. Although the distribution was created and is managed by Intel, even AMD recommends running benchmarks of its new CPUs under Clear Linux in order to get the highest scores.

Recently at Phoronix, Michael Larabel tested a Threadripper 3990X system using nine different Linux distros, one of which was Clear Linux—and Intel's distribution got three times as many first-place results as any other distro tested. When attempting to conglomerate all test results into a single geometric mean, Larabel found that the distribution's results were, on average, 14% faster than the slowest distributions tested (CentOS 8 and Ubuntu 18.04.3).

There's not much question that Clear Linux is your best bet if you want to turn in the best possible benchmark numbers. The question not addressed here is, what's it like to run Clear Linux as a daily driver? We were curious, so we took it for a spin.

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Israeli soldiers duped by Hamas 'fake women' phone ruse

BBC Technology News - 7 hours 46 min ago
Hamas militants hacked dozens of smartphones by posing as female admirers, Israel's military says.

Amazon: Suspect child car seats found for sale on its store again

BBC Technology News - 12 hours 57 min ago
Trading standards officers are probing the products, which Amazon has now removed from sale.

Can we fix our way out of the growing e-waste problem?

BBC Technology News - 18 hours 30 min ago
Levels of electrical and electronic waste are expected to more than double by 2050, according to the UN.

The doctors and lawyers giving advice on TikTok

BBC Technology News - 18 hours 33 min ago
The BBC meets the medics and lawyers across America who are using the app to help educate the public.

Farmageddon movie review: Stop-motion sheep > CG hedgehog

Ars Technica - February 16, 2020 - 11:35pm

Enlarge / This promotional image isn't actually in Farmaggedon, but it sums up the mood of the movie. (credit: Aardman Animations)

Do you like stop-motion animation? I love stop-motion animation. I can't remember a time when I didn't love stop-motion. From King Kong to the California Raisins—put that good stuff straight into my veins.

The current champion of stop-motion is Aardman Animations, which mostly works in a brand of modeling clay called Plasticine that is equal parts cutting-edge and charmingly handmade. I stumbled across an Aardman short called The Wrong Trousers (1993) on PBS in high school, and I was hooked. The film follows a pathologically British inventor named Wallace and his long-suffering dog, Gromit. In Trousers and their other various adventures, Wallace displays a profound lack of proportionality: he builds Rube Goldberg inventions when a butter knife would do, he buys robotic pants to help paint his walls, and he constructs a rocket to go to the Moon when he runs out of cheese. He also lives in a universe where everyone has more teeth than could possibly fit in their mouths.

I love Aardman's stuff for two big reasons: I love the way it looks, and I love its worldview. An Aardman production combines near-miraculous feats of stop-motion with characters who mostly have resting "durrr" face. Aardman's clay tears glisten like real water, but since running is a physical impossibility for stop-motion figures, they just walk hilariously fast instead. I love that the chickens in Chicken Run (2000) use their "hands" to cram feed into their mouths even though it would probably have been easier to show them pecking like real birds. The animators went out of their way to be inaccurate. In the universe of Aardman, "charming" trumps "realistic." (Also, Aardman did the 1986 music video for Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" in conjunction with—holy cow—the Brothers Quay.)

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Tesla: German court halts work on new 'Gigafactory'

BBC Technology News - February 16, 2020 - 8:28pm
Environmentalists win a temporary injunction against forest clearance for a new "Gigafactory".

Fish monsters, barking dogs, and roach patties: The films of Bong Joon-ho

Ars Technica - February 16, 2020 - 4:30pm

Enlarge / Three-time Oscar winner Bong Joon-ho makes his statuettes kiss. Legend. (credit: David Swanson / Shutterstock)

Late last year, Ars picked Parasite by South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho as the best movie of 2019. Last weekend, so did the Oscars. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that 100 percent of Academy voters must read Ars.

After recovering from our self-congratulatory champagne showers, however, we were stunned to see Bong's earlier films poorly represented in our archives. I've come to rectify that, since the South Korean writer-director fits into the Ars mold of creepy, stylish, and cutting-edge filmmaking.

My experience with Korean filmmaking in general...

Because I'm basic AF, my first exposure to Korean cinema was when the jury at Cannes (headed by Quentin Tarantino) awarded Oldboy the 2004 Grand Prix. From there, I watched the rest of Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy and The Handmaiden as well as making my way through flicks like The Chaser, A Tale of Two Sisters, A Hard Day, Attack the Gas Station!, and Train to Busan. If you've heard one thing about Korean films in general, it's that they are violent. I am by no means an expert on every movie put out below the 38th parallel, but I am reasonably erudite about the Korean films that US distributors have seen fit to bring stateside in the last couple decades as part of what's called "New Korean Cinema." This reputation for violence is partly warranted and partly marketing.

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The Fairey Rotodyne, the vertical takeoff and landing airliner time forgot

Ars Technica - February 16, 2020 - 3:00pm

The phrase "Urban Air Mobility" (UAM) seems like it's been with us for quite a while, but really it's only been in widespread use for two or three years. NASA officially recognized UAM in 2017, calling for a market study of remotely piloted or unmanned air passenger and cargo transportation around an urban area. Most people would probably call this the "air taxi" idea—a vision of hundreds of small, unmanned electric multi-copters shuttling two or three passengers from nearby suburbs or city spaces to vertiports at about 100 mph (roughly 161 km/h).

But if things had worked out differently in the late 1950s and early 1960s, we might have a very different understanding of UAM—something more like mass-transit. We might have had a city-center to city-center 55-passenger vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) airliner shuttling between urban heliports at 180 mph (289 km/h).

Actually, we did have that, it's just few people remember. It was called the Fairey Rotodyne.

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Review: Porsche Macan S will leave you wanting more

Ars Technica - February 16, 2020 - 2:00pm

The name Porsche conjures images of fun time behind the wheel. For me, that means tooling around in a friend's 1969 Porsche 912 on sunny Colorado afternoons with the top down. Of course, while many of us grow up dreaming about cruising winding roads in a roadster, reality ends up looking like squiring our kids and groceries around sprawling suburban streets in something with at least two rows of seats.

Like every other carmaker that wants to stay in business, Porsche has embraced the SUV. Indeed, the Macan was the Stuttgart-based OEM's best-selling model worldwide, with nearly 100,000 shifted in 2019. (The Cayenne was second, with 92,055 sold—we truly live in an SUV-ified world).

Launched in 2014, the Macan is still in its first generation, albeit with a modest makeover in 2019, the visuals of which are seen mostly in the interior and in new front and rear fascia. From a performance standpoint, last year's refresh made the front wheels a half-inch wider, added some new tires, and swapped out steel for aluminum in the forks that connect the front-axle carrier to the spring and damper. There is little change to the 2020 model.

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Signal is finally bringing its secure messaging to the masses

Ars Technica - February 16, 2020 - 12:52pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Last month, the cryptographer and coder known as Moxie Marlinspike was getting settled on an airplane when his seatmate, a midwestern-looking man in his 60s, asked for help. He couldn't figure out how to enable airplane mode on his aging Android phone. But when Marlinspike saw the screen, he wondered for a moment if he was being trolled: Among just a handful of apps installed on the phone was Signal.

Marlinspike launched Signal, widely considered the world's most secure end-to-end encrypted messaging app, nearly five years ago, and today heads the nonprofit Signal Foundation that maintains it. But the man on the plane didn't know any of that. He was not, in fact, trolling Marlinspike, who politely showed him how to enable airplane mode and handed the phone back.

"I try to remember moments like that in building Signal," Marlinspike told Wired in an interview over a Signal-enabled phone call the day after that flight. "The choices we’re making, the app we're trying to create, it needs to be for people who don’t know how to enable airplane mode on their phone," Marlinspike says.

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Why the world needs 'Instagrans'

BBC Technology News - February 16, 2020 - 1:00am
A new generation of influencers are making their mark on social media.

Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook boss urges tighter regulation

BBC Technology News - February 16, 2020 - 12:28am
Mark Zuckerberg says social media firms should not decide what counts as legitimate free speech.

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