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Dealmaster: Amazon Prime Day deals you can snag for under $50

Ars Technica - July 16, 2019 - 7:57pm

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

This year's Amazon Prime Day event is slowing down, but there are still dozens of deals available that are worth checking out. Though Amazon is still pushing lots of nonsense, Prime Day offers some genuinely good deals on luxury and expensive items—think laptops, monitors, headsets, gaming consoles, and so on. Our Prime Day deals list highlights the better ones—but even as curated as it is, it's still huge.

If you don't have time to comb through all of that, or if you're on a strict budget, we've outlined a few Prime Day deals we particularly like that are still live and available for $50 or less. Keep in mind that most offers are attached to the sales event, which means you must be a Prime subscriber to get them and that they'll probably expire by tomorrow. Nevertheless, as we wind down our Prime Day coverage, you can see the full list of budget-friendly deals below.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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Brains scale better than CPUs. So Intel is building brains

Ars Technica - July 16, 2019 - 7:44pm

Enlarge / This is a picture of an Intel Nahuku board, which can contain 8 to 32 Loihi neuromorphic processing units, interfaced to an Intel Arria 10 FPGA development kit. Intel’s latest neuromorphic system, Pohoiki Beach, is made up of multiple Nahuku boards and contains 64 Loihi chips. (credit: Intel Labs)

Neuromorphic engineering—building machines that mimic the function of organic brains in hardware as well as software—is becoming more and more prominent. The field has progressed rapidly, from conceptual beginnings in the late 1980s to experimental field programmable neural arrays in 2006, early memristor-powered device proposals in 2012, IBM's TrueNorth NPU in 2014, and Intel's Loihi neuromorphic processor in 2017. Yesterday, Intel broke a little more new ground with the debut of a larger-scale neuromorphic system, Pohoiki Beach, which integrates 64 of its Loihi chips.

Intel's Jon Tse demonstrates teaching a single Loihi chip to identify new objects in just a few seconds each.

Where traditional computing works by running numbers through an optimized pipeline, neuromorphic hardware performs calculations using artificial "neurons" that communicate with each other. This is a workflow that's highly specialized for specific applications, much like the natural neurons it mimics in function—so you likely won't replace conventional computers with Pohoiki Beach systems or its descendants, for the same reasons you wouldn't replace a desktop calculator with a human mathematics major.

However, neuromorphic hardware is proving able to handle tasks organic brains excel at much more efficiently than conventional processors or GPUs can. Visual object recognition is perhaps the most widely realized task where neural networks excel, but other examples include playing foosball, adding kinesthetic intelligence to prosthetic limbs, and even understanding skin touch in ways similar to how a human or animal might understand it.

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Elon Musk announces another price hike for “full self-driving” package

Ars Technica - July 16, 2019 - 7:34pm

Enlarge / A Tesla Model 3. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

On August 16, Tesla will begin charging an additional $1,000 for the "full self-driving" upgrade, CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter on Tuesday. The option currently costs $6,000. It's the latest in a series of price changes for a package whose main function—"full self-driving"—is still largely aspirational.

The price hike reflects Musk's view that Tesla is less than 18 months away from delivering full self-driving technology to customers and that this capability will drastically increase the value of Tesla vehicles.

"That's approximately date when we expect Enhanced Summon to be in wide release," Musk explained. "It will be magical."

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Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency attacked at Senate hearing

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 7:10pm
The tech giant's Libra digital currency is attacked by senators who say the company is not trusted.

No exomoons yet, but we may have spotted a disk that will form them

Ars Technica - July 16, 2019 - 6:07pm

Enlarge / There's a lot going on near a young star, with at least two planets forming around it.

Up until the last few decades, our picture of what might reside around distant stars was shaped entirely by the planets, moons, asteroids, and other bodies in our own Solar System. But the discovery of thousands of exoplanets has dramatically improved our picture of what's out there in terms of large bodies. Comets and asteroids, by contrast, are well below our ability to image for the indefinite future.

Moons, however, are awkwardly in between. It should be possible to image them indirectly, as their gravitational influence will alter the timing with which their planets orbit the star. And we might get a more direct indication of their presence as they will sometimes add to the shadow cast as transiting planets pass in front of their host star. We've searched for these effects, but they'll be subtle, so it could be that it will take years of observations for them to rise above the noise.

But now scientists are suggesting that we've observed an exomoon in the making. By looking at some planets forming around a young star, they think they've spotted a disk around one of the planets that may ultimately condense into moons. And, as a bonus, they found an odd, diffuse structure around a second planet that they can't explain.

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Minecraft Earth’s closed beta: This augmented reality needs more augmenting

Ars Technica - July 16, 2019 - 6:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Mojang / Microsoft)

When Microsoft acquired Mojang, the maker of Minecraft, in 2014, we all feared the worst: a zillion cash-in video games. Turns out, Microsoft has been really smart about its Minecraft output in the past five years. Only one Minecraft-related game has launched since then (2015's solid Minecraft Story Mode), and 2020's Minecraft Dungeons felt ridiculously good to play at this year's E3. (Plus, Mojang has been allowed to keep polishing the original game on every console and smartphone in the world, instead of turning into an Xbox-only studio. Whew.)

Thus, it wasn't necessarily inevitable that Minecraft would get a clone to compete with every major gaming genre (no Super Steve Bros., no Minecraft Kart Racers). That got our hopes up for Minecraft Earth, Microsoft's first salvo in the "augmented reality on phones" war, which was unveiled in May of this year. It sure seemed like a clever move: take Minecraft's go-anywhere, punch-any-tree, build-anything philosophy, then dump it into the real world à la Pokemon Go.

After five days with the game's closed beta (which launched seconds ago as a closed, invite-only beta in the Seattle area), I must report that the game's early version is missing the series' magic—and Mojang is going to need to put some more pixellated blocks into place before calling this one a victory.

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Juventus to be called Piemonte Calcio in Fifa after PES deal

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 4:57pm
Fifa 20 will be the first game in 25 years not to feature the licence for Serie A champions Juventus.

Tesla cuts prices and simplifies its product line

Ars Technica - July 16, 2019 - 4:30pm

Enlarge / A Model 3 at a Tesla showroom on March 1, 2019 in California. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Tesla implemented across-the-board price cuts for its vehicles on Monday, making most versions of the Model S, Model X, and Model 3 more affordable. At the same time, Tesla eliminated the most affordable versions of the Model S and Model X, called Standard Range, from its product lineup.

The price of the Long Range Model S (now the cheapest Model S) dropped from $85,000 to $79,990. The Standard Range Model S cost $75,000 before it was discontinued.

The price of the high-end Model S Performance model actually increased from $96,000 to $99,990. However, that reflects the fact that "Ludicrous Mode" is now included as a standard feature for the Performance model. Previously, "Ludicrous Mode" was a $20,000 upgrade on top of the Performance model's $96,000 base price.

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Dealmaster: The best Prime Day tech deals from retailers besides Amazon

Ars Technica - July 16, 2019 - 3:21pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! Tuesday marks day two of Amazon Prime Day 2019, and the Dealmaster is still highlighting and compiling the better offers from that sales event in a separate jumbo-sized roundup. Today, though, we wanted to cater to those who want nothing to do with Amazon, the cost of a Prime membership, or made-up holidays, but would still like to get a good price on some gear before the holidays.

To that end, the Dealmaster has done his usual thing and rounded up the best tech deals of the day from non-Amazon retailers. Walmart, Best Buy, Newegg, Lenovo, and various other shops have all put out their own sales promotions to stem the tide of shoppers heading toward Amazon.

While the collective selection isn't quite as robust what's out there for Prime Day, to be frank, there's still a fair amount of noteworthy discounts to be had, including new lows for Google devices, Instant Pots, Samsung Galaxy phones, and the like. In some cases, the offers match the offers running on Amazon, meaning you can get the same discount without having to sign up for a month of Prime. You can take a look at our full list on "non-Prime Day" deals below.

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Storm Area 51: US Air Force warns over Facebook event

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 2:49pm
More than a million people RSVP to an event calling for people to break into the Nevada base.

Daily Stormer founder 'should pay $14m' in damages, judge says

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 2:41pm
A magistrate recommends Andrew Anglin recompense a Jewish woman over his harassment campaign.

American kids would much rather be YouTubers than astronauts

Ars Technica - July 16, 2019 - 2:32pm

Enlarge / A team of 10 designers and LEGO "Master Builders" spent nearly 300 hours designing and building a life-size LEGO model of Aldrin in his iconic pose on the lunar surface. (credit: LEGO)

Exactly 50 years ago today, a Saturn V rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the Moon. Four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin would land on the Moon and inspire a generation of young people to become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

The Apollo program's effect of inspiring America's children to pursue careers in STEM fields is one of the most powerful lasting legacies of the Moon race. Unfortunately, this effect seems to be coming to an end.

On the eve of the Apollo 11 anniversary, LEGO asked The Harris Poll to survey a total of 3,000 children in the United States, China, and the United Kingdom about their attitudes toward and knowledge of space. The results reveal that, at least for Western countries, kids today are more interested in YouTube than spaceflight.

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Trump: Google should be probed over China treason claim

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 1:48pm
President Trump tweets he will look into allegations made by the tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

AI solves Rubik's Cube in one second

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 12:18pm
An AI system teaches itself to solve the Rubik's Cube more quickly than any human.

Bianca Devins murder images flood Instagram

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 11:54am
Instagram is struggling to remove graphic images of the body of a 17-year-old girl.

Education publisher Pearson to phase out print textbooks

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 7:14am
Pearson says students will only be able to rent physical books as it makes all products "digital first".

Will ships without sailors be the future of trade?

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 12:44am
May saw the world's first unmanned commercial shipping operation.

Facebook scam-busting service goes live

BBC Technology News - July 16, 2019 - 12:36am
New tools to fight online scams are launched after a legal action by TV personality Martin Lewis.

Measles is killing more people in the DRC than Ebola—and faster

Ars Technica - July 16, 2019 - 12:25am

Enlarge / A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019 in Goma. (credit: Getty | PAMELA TULIZO )

As the world anxiously monitors the outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo, health officials note that a measles outbreak declared last month in the country has killed more people—mostly children—and faster.

Since January 2019, officials have recorded over 100,000 measles cases in the DRC, mostly in children, and nearly 2,000 have died. The figures surpass those of the latest Ebola outbreak in the country, which has tallied not quite 2,500 cases and 1,665 deaths since August 2018. The totals were noted by World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a speech today, July 15, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Frankly, I am embarrassed to talk only about Ebola," Dr. Tedros said (he goes by his first name). He gave the speech in response to two new developments in the Ebola outbreak. That is that two Ebola responders were murdered in their home in the DRC city of Beni and that officials on Sunday had identified the first case of Ebola in Goma, a DRC city of over one million at the border with Rwanda.

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SpaceX nears completion of Dragon investigation, has a “good path forward”

Ars Technica - July 15, 2019 - 11:25pm

Enlarge / A 2018 view of the clean room where the spacecraft for the first crewed Dragon mission was nearing completion. It will now be used for an In-Flight Abort test instead. (credit: Eric Berger)

On Monday, officials from SpaceX and NASA provided an update on the investigation of an anomaly that occurred in April, which destroyed a Crew Dragon spacecraft. Generally, they were upbeat with their assessment: "I'm pretty optimistic right now, because we have a good path forward," said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president of mission assurance.

After nearly three months of work—which has included the collection of debris from the ground-based incident, assessing large volumes of data, and a series of tests at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas—the company is about 80% complete with its analysis, Koenigsmann said. He characterized the findings discussed Monday as "preliminary."

The accident occurred during tests of the Crew Dragon's thruster systems in Florida. The capsule has "Draco" thrusters used to maneuver in space as well as powerful "SuperDracos." They would fire in the event of an emergency with the rocket to pull the crew safely away during a launch. Specifically, the April 20 anomaly occurred during the activation phase of the SuperDraco thruster system, when it is pressurized and valves are opened and closed.

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