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Air Force General: “We’d be dumb not to” fly on SpaceX’s reusable rockets

Ars Technica - 46 min 13 sec ago

Enlarge / SpaceX launches the Air Force's X-38B space plane in September, 2017. (credit: SpaceX)

The increasingly warm relationship between the US Air Force and the rocket company SpaceX appears to be approaching full-on bromance levels. The latest words of lavish praise for SpaceX have come from Gen. John W. Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, which oversees launch operations for the US military and national security sectors.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Raymond said the potential savings from reusable rockets like the Falcon 9 booster now being flown and reflown by SpaceX are irresistible. “The market’s going to go that way. We’d be dumb not to,” he said. “What we have to do is make sure we do it smartly.” It would be "absolutely foolish" to not begin using them, Raymond said.

Before the military can fly its satellites and other payloads on a previously flown booster, the US military has to certify that SpaceX's "flight proven" boosters are reliable enough. That process already appears to be underway. "I don’t know how far down the road we’ve gotten, but I am completely committed to launching on a reused rocket, a previously flown rocket, and making sure that we have the processes in place to be able to make sure that we can do that safely," Raymond told Bloomberg.

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Future of Misco UK hangs in the balance - sources

The Register - 55 min 49 sec ago
CEO dispatched to secure extra finance. If that fails, administration awaits

Misco Group Ltd is holding eleventh-hour talks to secure additional funding to turn around the business and stave off the threat of administrative receivership, multiple sources have told The Reg.…

NutriBullet Balance Release Date, Price and Specs - CNET - Reviews - 56 min 30 sec ago
The blender has a built-in scale and Bluetooth connection so you can use an app to build a better smoothie.

Gun waiting periods prevent hundreds of homicides, according to 45-year study

Ars Technica - 1 hour 4 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Anadolu Agency)

A few days to cool off and think things through may be enough to prevent hundreds of homicides each year, according to a new study in PNAS.

A study tracking handgun laws on wait periods over a 45-year period found that a delay in obtaining a firearm after purchase reduced gun homicides by 17 percent. That breaks down to about 36 homicides per year for the average state. As of 2014, such laws in 16 states and the District of Columbia prevented about 750 gun homicides per year. If all 50 states required a wait, around 910 more lives could be spared, the authors report.

“Waiting periods would therefore reduce gun violence without imposing any restrictions on who can own a gun,” according to the authors, led by Deepak Malhotra, a negotiation and conflict-resolution expert at Harvard Business School.

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AI used to detect breast cancer risk

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 34 min ago
Machine learning is being used to spot whether breast lesions are cancerous or not.

Microsoft wants to reimagine virtual reality - CNET - News - 1 hour 36 min ago
The world’s biggest software maker is hoping to succeed where Facebook, HTC and Sony haven’t yet.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 is bigger and better - CNET - News - 1 hour 47 min ago
A new 15-inch size, updated Intel CPUs and gamer-ready Nvidia graphics hit Microsoft's pro-level Surface two-in-one.

Commvault scale-out appliance gunning for Rubrik and Cohesity

The Register - 2 hours 3 min ago
Rubrik has new competition in the space

Commvault is launching a HyperScale all-in-one appliance providing a scale-out platform for its data protection and management services, taking on competing offerings from the likes of Rubrik and Cohesity.…

OnePlus turns to customers to fix its identity crisis - CNET - News - 2 hours 7 min ago
Google's loss is OnePlus' gain as ex-Nexus customers jump ship to OnePlus, but the company still has a lot of work to do.

The Samsung engineering behind the ringtones you don't use - CNET - News - 2 hours 7 min ago
Yes, there are still people designing ringtones.

You can now buy from 2M retailers using Venmo and emojis - CNET - News - 2 hours 12 min ago
The money-transfer service can now be used for payments just about everywhere PayPal is available.

Patent battle pits iPod father v Android creator

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 15 min ago
A start-up funded by Tony Fadell is suing a smartphone-maker led by Andy Rubin.

Surprise! The Pixel 2 is hiding a custom Google SoC for image processing

Ars Technica - 2 hours 16 min ago

Enlarge / Google's Pixel Visual Core, an SoC designed for image processing and machine learning. (credit: Google)

Google's newest flagship smartphone, the Pixel 2, is nearly out. The company has been talking a big game about the 2's camera and calling it, definitively, "the best smartphone camera." But Google has been keeping a huge secret under wraps: the Pixel 2 has a custom, Google-designed SoC dedicated exclusively to camera image processing. The SoC is not active yet, but Google claims it will make the Pixel 2 process photos faster and more efficiently than ever.

In addition to the usual Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, the Pixel 2 is equipped with the "Pixel Visual Core," an extra, second SoC designed by Google with hardware-accelerated image processing in mind. At the heart of the chip is an eight-core Image Processing Unit (IPU) capable of more than three trillion operations per second. Using these IPU cores, Google says the company's HDR+ image processing can run "5x faster and at less than 1/10th the energy" than it currently does on the main CPU.

The Pixel Visual Core is currently in the Pixel 2, but it doesn't work yet. Google says it will be enabled with the launch of the Android 8.1 developer preview. At that time, the chip will let third-party apps use the Pixel 2's HDR+ photo processing, allowing them to produce pictures that look just as good as the native camera app. The chip isn't just for Google's current camera algorithms, though. Google says the Pixel Visual Core is designed "to handle the most challenging imaging and machine learning applications" and that the company is "already preparing the next set of applications" designed for the hardware.

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Surface Book 2: More cores, more GPU, and more screen

Ars Technica - 2 hours 16 min ago

Just over two years ago, Microsoft unveiled its Surface Book hybrid laptop: a tablet with a detachable hinged keyboard base. It was a compelling concept, with Microsoft pulling off some clever tricks. The base contained a battery, boosting the life of the tablet portion substantially, and could optionally contain a discrete GPU, too. A little under a year ago, the Surface Book was partially refreshed: a new base was offered with a bigger battery and a faster GPU. The tablet portion, however, was left unchanged.

Today, Microsoft unveiled not only a full refresh of the system—both tablet and base are being updated—but a whole new version of the machine. Surface Book 2 (Microsoft is using numerical version number suffixes here, even after abandoning the practice with the Surface Pro) will come in two sizes. There's a 13-inch model, same as before, but this is now paired with a 15-inch version.

The broad concept of Surface Book remains the same. The screen half of the "laptop" is in fact a tablet computer, containing the processor, memory, mass storage, and a battery; the "keyboard" half is a larger battery, some expansion ports, and, optionally, a discrete GPU. The systems look essentially the same as the old versions, too, with the 15-inch version looking for all intents and purposes like a scaled-up version of the 13-inch one.

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Google Daydream View (2017) Release Date, Price and Specs - CNET - Reviews - 2 hours 16 min ago
The most comfortable VR headset yet, but not the best.

Microsoft gets back in the premium mouse game with Surface Precision Mouse

Ars Technica - 2 hours 16 min ago


Microsoft used to make the best mice in the world, but for reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, the company decided to give up on this a few years ago. While the company has continued to make a number of interesting and unusual mice, for the last decade or so its focus has primarily been on mobile mice—the kind of thing you'd chuck in your laptop bag—rather than button-laden feature-rich desktop mice. When my Intellimouse Explorer 3 died after many years of use, I ended up switching to a Logitech Performance MX, because Microsoft no longer had anything comparable.

Announced today, the Surface Precision Mouse may be something of a return to form. It's a full-size desktop mouse. It's an ergonomic design that's only really suitable for the right-handed—a design that seems extremely familiar to users of the aforementioned Logitech. It has a wheel, of course, and the wheel has a button that toggles between notched mode, beloved of gamers, and free-wheeling mode, designed for scrolling and zooming. On the left-hand side, it has an array of three thumb buttons. It supports both wireless connections over Bluetooth and wired connections over USB. When using Bluetooth, the mouse can pair with three different devices simultaneously and has a little switch on the bottom for picking between them.

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Pixel 2 and 2 XL review—The best Android phone you can buy

Ars Technica - 2 hours 16 min ago

Ron Amadeo

Welcome to year two of Google Hardware. In 2016, Google jumped into the Android hardware space with its first self-branded device, the Google Pixel. Google's software prowess shined on the Pixel 1, offering up exclusive features like the Google Assistant, the best Android camera thanks to advanced software processing, fast day-one OS updates and betas, and the smoothest, best-performing overall build of Android. The killer software package made it the best Android phone of the previous generation.

The Pixel still represented Google's first foray into smartphone hardware, though, and it didn't offer anything special in the hardware department. It was a bland-looking iPhone clone. It had the same specs and basic design as everything else. The Pixel even skipped water resistance, which had become an expected feature at that price point. Google said it wanted to make its own hardware, but it didn't actually build special hardware.

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Google Lens' future could be discovery, maps and AR glasses - CNET - News - 2 hours 16 min ago
The head of Google’s new visual search tool, which lets you find information using your phone’s camera, talks about what could be next.

Get ready for 'unlimited data' of 5G networks in 2019 - CNET - News - 2 hours 28 min ago
Next-gen networks will have vast capacity so your phone can handle data even in massive crowds. Help for self-driving cars will have to wait longer, though.

NHS: Remember those patient records we didn't deliver? Well, we found another 162,000

The Register - 2 hours 46 min ago
Dealing with backlog could cost 'in the zone of a million'

NHS leaders have admitted that the biggest ever loss of patient documents is worse than initially thought, as another 162,000 undelivered documents have been discovered.…

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