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Audi ditches manual transmissions in US because nobody bought them - Roadshow - News - August 17, 2018 - 5:51pm
The A4 and the A5 were the last holdouts, but the take rate for the stick shift was hilariously low.

After employee revolt, Google says it is “not close” to launching search in China

Ars Technica - August 17, 2018 - 5:44pm

Google's employees and Google's management are clashing over ethical issues again. Just two months after Google's "Project Maven" military drone project was seemingly resolved, Google's employees are now up in arms over company plans to create censored products for China. The internal protests resulted in the issue being addressed at an all-hands meeting, and we got to learn a bit more about Google's China plans.

Reports from earlier this month claimed Google was working on products for the Chinese market, detailing plans for a search engine and news app that complied with the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance demands. The news was a surprise to many Googlers, and yesterday an article from The New York Times detailed a Maven-style internal revolt at the company. Fourteen hundred employees signed a letter demanding more transparency from Google's leadership on ethical issues, saying, "Google employees need to know what we’re building." The letter says many employees only learned about the project through news reports and that "currently we do not have the information required to make ethically informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment."

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Google addressed the issue of China at this week's all-hands meeting. The report says CEO Sundar Pichai told employees the company was “not close to launching a search product” in China but that Pichai thinks Google can do good by engaging with China. “I genuinely do believe we have a positive impact when we engage around the world," The Journal quotes Pichai as saying, "and I don’t see any reason why that would be different in China.”

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Chrome game invites you to yell 'Enhance!' at your computer screen - CNET - News - August 17, 2018 - 5:34pm
Zoom in. Zoom in. Enhance. Enhance! Now you're Harrison Ford in Blade Runner.

HTC U12 Plus fires up in 'flame red' - CNET - News - August 17, 2018 - 5:25pm
If you've been waiting for a brilliant reason to buy the phone, the new autumnal-hued model may qualify.

African palm oil expansion is bad news for the continent’s primates

Ars Technica - August 17, 2018 - 5:18pm

Enlarge / The palm nuts satiating the world's hunger for vegetable oil and fueling habitat loss. (credit: flickr user: Carsten ten Brink)

Palm oil is ubiquitous and is set to become more so over the next few decades. The oil is used in food, cleaning, and beauty products and as biofuel, so demand is set to grow rapidly. With this skyrocketing demand comes a need for the land on which to grow more oil palms—and a threat to the ecosystems currently using that land.

Currently, Southeast Asia is the oil palm hotspot, and the deforestation and ensuing damage in the region have been well publicized. But much of the future expansion may happen in Africa, introducing the likelihood of new conservation problems. A paper published in this week’s PNAS argues that there's a huge overlap between the land where oil palms could be grown and the land that houses the continent’s primates. “Large-scale expansion of oil palm cultivation in Africa will have unavoidable, negative effects on primates,” write Giovanni Strona and his colleagues.

Growth in demand, loss in habitat

The tree that provides us with palm oil (which is pressed from its fruit) is a tropical species. Currently, palm oil agriculture uses approximately 20 million hectares. One million hectares (or 10,000 km2) is about half the area of New Jersey; 20 million is about the area of Nebraska. Most of these plantations are in Indonesia and Malaysia.

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Porsche teases Taycan EV, promises 60 mph in 3.5 seconds - Roadshow - News - August 17, 2018 - 5:16pm
Porsche's first battery-electric vehicle promises to be quite the athlete.

Google 'not close' to launching search engine in China, Pichai says - CNET - News - August 17, 2018 - 5:15pm
About 1,000 employees protested the alleged development of a search engine that would give censorship powers to the Chinese government.

Web cache poisoning just got real: How to fling evil code at victims

The Register - August 17, 2018 - 5:05pm
Cache me outside, how 'bout dah?

BSides Manchester Websites can be hijacked to turn their caches into exploit delivery systems.…

FDA Approves First Generic Version of EpiPen

Slashdot - August 17, 2018 - 4:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Google is reportedly working on an Echo Show rival - CNET - News - August 17, 2018 - 4:28pm
The smart speaker with a display will be out for the holiday season, the report says.

OnePlus 6T will launch with T-Mobile, the first US carrier partner - CNET - News - August 17, 2018 - 4:19pm
Don't worry, there's still a global version that will launch at the same time in October.

ZX Spectrum reboot scandal biz gets £35k legal costs delayed

The Register - August 17, 2018 - 4:13pm
But just for a month - and what a month September will be for its directors

The directors of the company at the heart of the ZX Spectrum reboot scandal have been ordered to pay yet more legal costs as they keep trying to kick their financial woes into the long grass.…

Elon Musk says he is having the most “painful year of my career”

Ars Technica - August 17, 2018 - 4:11pm

Enlarge / Elon Musk speaks in Austin, Texas, on March 10, 2018. (credit: Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO)

Elon Musk is one of the most famous people in the business world and serves as the CEO of two multibillion dollar companies at the same time. And that adds up to a lot of stress, as Musk made clear in an interview with The New York Times.

“This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career,” Musk told the Times. “It was excruciating.”

Over the last couple of weeks, Musk has faced growing criticism for an unorthodox tweet claiming that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private. It was just the latest in a series of controversies that has taken an emotional toll on Musk.

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Take selfies from the sky with the DJI Spark: Just $250 - CNET - News - August 17, 2018 - 3:57pm
That's the lowest price to date on DJI's amazingly capable quadcopter, which can be controlled using just your hands. Plus: Two bonus deals!

Reveal metal objects with Wi-Fi; overexcited engineers think security

Ars Technica - August 17, 2018 - 3:34pm

Enlarge / Even in 2018, there's still a wooden sign proudly advertising "Free Wi-Fi." (credit: Cyrus Farivar)

One of the least fun jobs when writing a scientific paper is coming up with a motivation. It should be easy and fun: look at this awesomely cool thing we did—aren’t the results interesting? Instead, we typically have to claim to reveal the secrets of the Universe, cure cancer, or protect the public. Preferably all three at the same time.

A recent paper (PDF) on using Wi-Fi as an environmental sensor has some really exciting results. But my heart shrank three sizes after reading the following: “Traditional baggage check involves either high manpower for manual examinations or expensive and specialized instruments, such as X-ray and CT. As such, many public places (i.e., museums and schools) that lack of strict security check are exposed to high risk.”

As I said, the research is totally cool. It's just not likely to ever help with security unless molesting people with hip replacements is your version of improved security.

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Can digital weights get you ripped? Tonal thinks so - CNET - News - August 17, 2018 - 3:33pm
This weight machine has the strength of a bodybuilder, fits on your wall and could get you in shape faster than the gym. told data-sharing plans need vendor buy-in

The Register - August 17, 2018 - 3:31pm
Think tank calls for open standards, interoperability

Government departments should mandate interoperability when procuring systems and establish audit trails to track data use in order to benefit from data sharing, a think tank has said.…

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