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On Monday night, a Russian Air Force Ilyushin IL-20 "Coot-A" electronic intelligence and radar reconnaissance aircraft monitoring the Idlib province of Syria was mistakenly shot down by Syrian air defense forces after an Israeli air strike on facilities in Latakia, Syria. The Russian aircraft went down in the Mediterranean, about 27 kilometers (17 miles) off the Syrian coast near Latakia, with a loss of all 15 crewmembers aboard. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the downing was the result of a "chain of tragic accidental circumstances." But the Russian Defense Ministry has laid the blame for the downing on the Israelis, saying that they failed to provide enough warning to the Russians to give the IL-20 an opportunity to steer clear of danger.
"The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces," a Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson said. "As a consequence, the Il-20, which has a radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile." The Russians also claimed Israel only warned them a minute before the attack.
Russian Army General Sergei Shoigu told Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in a phone call that the fault for the reconnaissance plane's downing "rests entirely with the Israeli side."
You probably think of someone who exemplifies the “keeping up with the Joneses” mindset as behaving in an obnoxious way. You may roll your eyes at a neighbor preening their immaculate clone-army-of-grass-blades lawn, but you probably still feel a tug that keeps you within the bounds of what our community considers normal. That apparently includes conserving energy.
In a new study, a team led by Columbia Business School’s Jon Jachimowicz and the University of Exeter’s Oliver Hauser set out to better understand why efforts to encourage reduced energy use get different results in different places. And they found evidence that community attitudes may make a bigger difference than personal ones.Think of your neighbors
The researchers worked with data from a company called Opower, which shows utility customers how their energy use compares to others in their area. Opower randomly selects its participants and keeps a control group of customers for comparison.
European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said Tuesday that the European Commission will finally close its legal investigation into Apple's failure to pay back taxes to Ireland after the company paid €14 billion.
Today Irish Minister of Finance @Paschald confirmed the full recovery of €14 bn of illegal aid to Apple (unpaid taxes). Good. So we can close the Court action on recovery.
— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) September 18, 2018
Ireland's finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, applauded the EC's move.
Positive news this evening that the @EU_Commission is closing the Court action and dropping infringement proceedings following on from recovery of of alleged State aid from Apple. Always Ireland's intention to comply with our legal obligations in this regard
— Paschal Donohoe (@Paschald) September 18, 2018
Over two years ago, Ireland was formally referred to the European Court of Justice after it failed to implement a 2016 order that required the island nation to collect the same amount in unpaid taxes.
Microsoft and Canonical have been working for some time to make Ubuntu and Windows play nice with each other. Ubuntu was the first distribution supported in the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and now an Ubuntu image is available through Hyper-V Quick Create, which offers three-click creation of Virtual Machines.
The system image has Ubuntu Desktop 18.04 LTS configured and ready to go, and this showcases some of the other Linux integration work that Microsoft has been doing. The Hyper-V virtual machine client, Virtual Machine Connection, has two ways of working. The normal way is to display the output of the virtual video card that the virtual machine uses and, similarly, to emulate PS/2 mouse and keyboard input, as if the client were the physical hardware. This works with any operating system (the virtual video card supports rudimentary modes like VGA and the text mode used by DOS; it can also support high-resolution graphics modes when used with a suitable display driver). But it is relatively slow and inflexible.
The other way, used automatically with modern Windows VMs, is "Enhanced Session Mode." In an Enhanced Session, the virtual machine transmits a variation of RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol, Microsoft's protocol for Windows' Remote Desktop features) directly to the hypervisor, which then delivers it to the Hyper-V client. Enhanced Sessions have a number of advantages: you can resize the client window, and the VM is notified of the change of resolution; you can copy and paste between the virtual machine and the host; there's automatic sharing of folders between guest and host; and the mouse doesn't get trapped inside the client window.
SAN FRANCISCO—Luxury electric SUVs must be like buses: you wait ages for one and then three show up all at once. That's certainly how it feels right now—first it was the Mercedes-Benz EQC, then last week BMW showed us the iNext, and on Monday night it was the Audi e-tron. This one is going to reach showrooms first—production just started at a carbon-neutral plant in Belgium in the past few weeks, and US deliveries are scheduled to begin in mid-2019.
That's sufficiently far off that Audi is still in the process of homologating the US version for sale, so some of its vital statistics are still TBA. We can't tell you how exactly much power you get for $74,800, although the European version is 300kW (402hp), if that helps. It hasn't undergone EPA testing yet, so there's no official word of how many miles of range the 95kWh lithium-ion battery provides. (Again, if it's helpful, the e-tron earned a 400km range on the very different European WLTP test.)
And I'm sad to say the e-tron's coolest feature—those side-view cameras—will require some changes to federal vehicle regulations before we can get them here in the US. That goes for the matrix-beam headlights, too. That's a shame, because this is an electric Audi that was designed with the US in mind. The company expects us to be the biggest market for the e-tron, and it's pitching this one straight into the mainstream. There are no flashy falcon wing doors or a massive panoramic screen like those in the bigger Tesla Model X. Neither are there futuristic design or racetrack credentials as with the Jaguar I-Pace.
Apple's new iPhones launch this week, and unlike last year, every one of the new devices comes equipped with the TrueDepth sensor array originally found in the iPhone X. Most consumers who are interested in Apple's products know that piece of technology drives Face ID (an authentication method by which you log into your phone just by showing it your face) and Animojis, those 3D animated characters in Messages that follow your facial expressions.
But Apple and the developers who make apps for its platforms have more applications for the 3D sensing tech planned in the future, and consumers might not be aware of them. In this video, Ars Technica's Valentina Palladino and iOS app developer Nathan Gitter talk about how TrueDepth works, what exciting things it might be used for in the future, and what users have to look out for in terms of privacy and security concerns.
Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have a fresh batch of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by another round of discounts on Amazon devices, including a deal that brings the Fire HD 10 tablet down to $110. That's $40 off its usual going rate.
The big caveat here: the deals are only applicable to Amazon Prime subscribers. If you're already a member (or if you have a free trial), the Fire HD 10 is still one of the better big-screen slates on the cheap. Its 10.1-inch, 1920x1200 resolution display is a step above tablets in this range (albeit a few steps below an iPad), making it a solid choice for basic video viewing or comic book reading. It runs fine, and it gets a decent 8-10 hours of battery life on average. It recently gained the ability to work like an Echo Show, too. You'll have to do a little legwork to get the Google Play Store onto it if that's what you're after. But that's nothing a quick Google search can't fix.
Other ongoing deals include the 4K Fire TV for $40, the Kindle Paperwhite for $80, and the cheapo Fire 7 tablet for $35. If you don't have Prime, fear not, as the Dealmaster also has discounts on Xbox One controllers, Samsung SSDs and microSD cards, some good Bluetooth audio gear, and more. Have a look for yourself below.
Google's big hardware event is coming October 9, and we're getting a clearer picture of what to expect from the show as the days go by. The event is promoted as the "Pixel 3 launch event," but the company's previous two hardware events featured five or more product announcements. Besides the Pixel 3, a Pixelbook 2 is a good option, and with the launch of Google's Smart Display software on third-party hardware earlier this year, it seems inevitable that we'll soon see a first-party Google Smart Display.
As luck would have it, today MySmartPrice has scored pictures of the "Google Home Hub," a product that is clearly Google's flagship hardware for its Smart Display software. The device has a 7-inch touchscreen and basically looks like a 16:9 tablet mounted to Google Home Max. Some of the pictures, which look like a leaked store listing, show a few more specs: 802.11ac Wi-Fi at 2.4 and 5GHz, Bluetooth, an "Ambient light and color sensor," a "full-range speaker for crystal clear sound," and "far-field voice recognition." The listing shows the display available in two colors ("chalk" and "charcoal"), with Google's traditional mute switch on the back and what looks to be a video chat camera on the front.
The Federal Communications Commission must stop withholding records that may shed light on fraudulent comments submitted in the FCC's net neutrality repeal proceeding, a US District Court judge ruled last week.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in September 2017 by freelance journalist Jason Prechtel, who sued the FCC after it failed to provide documents in response to his Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request. Prechtel sought data that would identify people who made bulk comment uploads; many of the uploads contained fraudulent comments submitted in other people's names without their knowledge.
Prechtel called the ruling "a huge victory for transparency over an issue that has gone unanswered by the FCC and its current leadership for too long."
Elon Musk's August 7 tweet that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private has become the subject of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department, Bloomberg reports, citing two anonymous sources. The involvement of the Justice Department would be significant because the Securities and Exchange Commission—which has been investigating the case for several weeks—only has the power to bring civil charges.
Tesla's share price dropped by about 6 percent in the minutes after Bloomberg reported the news.
While Musk's initial tweet claimed he had "funding secured" to buy out existing shareholders, he soon admitted he didn't actually have anything in writing. Days before the tweet, he had a meeting with Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and emerged from the meeting convinced that the Saudis would be willing to fund a deal.
Since the hyped-up launch and dramatic fall of OnLive, there has been significant debate over when the idea of streaming games from remote servers will move from niche services like PlayStation Now and Nvidia's GeForce Now to a market-moving mainstream force.
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick weighed in on that debate recently, saying he thinks a large-scale market for streaming games could "happen in one to three years."
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia conference last week, Zelnick said the rise of streaming gaming was an inevitability that was just waiting on the technology to power it at scale. While Zelnick acknowledged that the streaming game servers "have to be pretty close to where the consumer is" to address latency issues, he said there are a few large-scale companies "that have hyperscale data centers all around the world," and that infrastructure will be able to address that last remaining hurdle in a few years time.
Morocco has a lot of prime real estate for wind energy along its southern coast. But without robust transmission lines to move electricity from there to more populated centers, a traditional wind energy company might wait years for a grid connection before it could start making money.
But if you're connected to the Internet, one option might be to build a grid-isolated wind farm and use it locally while you wait for a connection to the rest of the grid. In Soluna's case, the money-making byproduct that makes local use worth it is mining Bitcoin.
Soluna, a bitcoin-mining company, is going to start construction on a 36 megawatt (MW) wind farm near Dakhla, Morocco, in January 2019, company spokesperson Yoav Reisler told Ars. The company has the rights to 37,000 acres of land, which could eventually accommodate up to 900MW of wind capacity.
Marvel Studios just released the first trailer for its highly anticipated Captain Marvel movie, and it has enough glorious action and hints of the superhero's mysterious origins to whet any superfan's appetite for more. Captain Marvel is slated to premiere in March 2019.
We had our first hint of what's to come in the teaser at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, when Nick Fury placed a mysterious call just before—well, spoiler alert, he was among the one-half of the population turned to dust when that bastard Thanos fatally snapped his fingers. The caller ID on Fury's dropped phone showed no name, just a bright flash of blue, red, and gold with a white insignia. Marvel fans soon concluded this was a hint that Captain Marvel herself (Brie Larson) would be coming to the rescue.
As the public embraces Chrome OS, OEMs have begun to incorporate Google's operating system into their products in new ways. Soon, Chromebooks won't be just the cheap laptops you buy for your kids as an alternative to a more expensive macOS or Windows machine—or for yourself as a secondary device. HP's $599 Chromebook x2 is one of the first higher-end Chrome OS devices to come out, not to mention one of the first Chrome OS tablets available, too.
HP designed the Chromebook x2 to elevate the Chrome OS experience, similarly to how Google's own Pixelbook handles the OS. The x2 is built with premium materials and packed with better internals than most Chromebooks, making it a good option for Chrome OS enthusiasts. At $599 for the tablet plus its keyboard and stylus, the Chromebook x2 isn't trying to be the most affordable Chromebook—rather, it's trying to appeal to those who want a premium Chromebook that balances style, versatility, and power.Look and feel
Aside from Google's Pixelbook, the Chromebook x2 is the most luxurious Chrome OS device I've ever held. The tablet's weightiness struck me as soon as I took it out of the box, and its metal edges combined with ceramic white back finish make it a very handsome device. HP achieved the white color using the same anodized electrodeposition method used in previous Spectre laptops, showing that the company didn't cut any corners, instead breaking the plastic-clamshell shackles that once restrained Google's operating system.
We launched Ars Pro, our ad-free subscription service, at the beginning of the year. At the time, we told you we wanted to hear your ideas on how to make Ars Pro and Ars Pro++ more compelling. And we've been listening. Last spring, we removed tracking scripts for subscribers. More recently, we added PayPal as a payment option in response to your feedback. Today, we're excited to offer Classic View, an old-school way of browsing the front page.
When Ars launched in 1998—two whole decades ago—it was a simple site with the entire text of stories appearing on the front page. The only exceptions were things like Cæsar's lengthy musings on the blue-and-white Power Macintosh G3 ("Bottom line: I like the machine") and John Siracusa's epic Mac OS X reviews. Everything else was right there on the front page for you to read.
Classic View isn't exactly like the Ars of 20 years ago. Our stories are longer on average than they were back then, so putting the entire text of all of our stories on each page would result in an insane amount of scrolling. Instead, Ars Pro subscribers will see headlines, lower deks (the brief summaries that accompany story headlines), and the first three paragraphs of each story.
The world could have an Alexa-enabled microwave before 2018 is finished—yes, a microwave. According to a report by CNBC, Amazon may be gearing up to reveal up to eight new Alexa devices before the end of this year. Among those could be a microwave oven, a subwoofer, an amplifier, and an "in-car gadget." CNBC's report claims that an internal Amazon document points at the online retailer revealing some or all of these devices at an event scheduled for later this month.
All of the rumored devices would have Alexa built in, or have easy access to the virtual assistant (likely over an Internet connection). While the microwave oven would be new, Amazon has already partnered with companies like Sonos to make Alexa-enabled amplifiers and other audio equipment. The company also partnered with Garmin recently to make the Garmin Speak Plus, a dash cam that connects to Alexa for in-car voice commands.
It's unclear if the new devices will consist solely of collaborations between Amazon and other tech manufacturers, or if all of the devices will be made and sold by Amazon. The company's Echo family has grown a lot since the first Echo speaker debuted in 2014. Around this time last year, Amazon revealed the newest members of the Echo family: the Echo Spot and updated Echo speakers.
All of the bodies in our Solar System started out hot, with energy built up by their gravitational collapse and subsequent bombardment. Radioactivity then contributed further heating. For a planet like Earth, that has kept the interior hot enough to sustain plate tectonics. Smaller bodies like Mars and the Moon, however, have cooled and gone geologically silent. That set the expectations for the dwarf planets, which were thought to be cold and dead.
Pluto, however, turned out to be anything but. It turns out that water and nitrogen ices need far less energy input to participate in active geology, and radioactive decay and sporadic collisions seem to be enough to sustain it. Which brings us to Ceres, a dwarf planet that is the largest body in the asteroid belt. The Dawn spacecraft identified an unusual peak called Ahuna Mons that some have suggested is a cryovolcano, erupting viscous water ice. But why would Ceres only have enough energy to support a single volcano?
A new paper suggests it doesn't. Instead, there may be more than two dozen cryovolcanoes on Ceres' surface. We just haven't spotted them because geology on the dwarf planet didn't stop when the cryovolcanoes stopped erupting.
Opting to build the Death Star in the shape of a sphere may not have been classic Star Wars villain Darth Vader's wisest move, according to math teacher Ben Orlin. He investigates this burning question, and so much more, in his fabulous new book, Math with Bad Drawings, after Orlin's blog of the same name.
Orlin started using his crude drawings as a teaching tool. He drew a figure of a dog one day on his chalkboard to illustrate a math problem, and it was so bad the class broke out in laughter. "To see the alleged expert reveal himself as the worst in the room at something—anything—can humanize him and, perhaps, by extension, the subject," he writes. When he started his blog, he knew that pictures would be crucial to helping readers visualize the mathematical abstractions. Since he had no particular artistic talent, he opted to just cop to it up front. And thus, the "Math with Bad Drawings" blog was born.
The book is a more polished, extensive discussion of the concepts that pepper Orlin's blog, featuring his trademark caustic wit, a refreshingly breezy conversational tone, and of course, lots and lots of very bad drawings. It's a great, entertaining read for neophytes and math fans alike, because Orlin excels at finding novel ways to connect the math to real-world problems—or in the case of the Death Star, to problems in fictional worlds.
On a Monday night filled with emotion as much as engineering, one of the most poignant moments came toward the end of the program at SpaceX's rocket factory in California. The company's founder, Elon Musk, choked up as he described the financial contribution from a Japanese businessman, Yusaku Maezawa, to his Big Falcon Rocket project.
"I’ll tell you, it’s done a lot to restore my faith in humanity," Musk said, seated in front of the end of a Falcon 9 rocket and its nine engines. "That somebody is willing to do this, take their money and help fund this new project that’s risky, might not succeed, it’s dangerous. He’s like donating seats. These are great things."
The headline news out of Monday's event was that Maezawa has bought all of the seats on the first human flight of SpaceX's Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) and upper stage spaceship (BFS)—a sortie around the Moon as early as 2023. Although neither Musk nor Maezawa would specify how much it had cost, Musk said, "This is a non-trivial amount that will have a material impact on the BFR program."
Georgia’s upcoming November 6, 2018 election will remain purely electronic and will not switch to paper to ward off potential hackers, a federal judge in Atlanta ruled on Monday evening.
But as US District Judge Amy Totenberg wrote, she is not at all happy with the inadequate efforts by state officials to shore up their digital security measures.
"The Court advises the Defendants that further delay is not tolerable in their confronting and tackling the challenges before the State’s election balloting system," she wrote in her order.