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Giant robots clash in US-Japan battle

BBC Technology News - October 18, 2017 - 6:04pm
The human-piloted machines fired weapons at one another.

Get an LG SJ5Y wireless sound bar and subwoofer for $124.99 - CNET - News - October 18, 2017 - 5:54pm
Selling for at least $250 elsewhere, this may be the best sound bar deal of 2017. Plus: two bonus deals!

Bay Area: Join us tonight, 10/18, to talk to co-writer of Star Wars: Rogue One

Ars Technica - October 18, 2017 - 5:54pm

Gary Whitta co-wrote Rogue One and has written screenplays for movies starring Will Smith and Denzel Washington. Plus he writes comics and novels! (credit: Gary Whitta)

What’s it like to work as a professional geek in Hollywood? Find out from Gary Whitta, who started as a humble gamer and became the co-writer of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Along the way, he worked on movies with Will Smith and Denzel Washington and helped create a Walking Dead game. He’ll discuss his experiences writing movies, as well as what it's like to tell new stories set in a beloved fan-favorite franchise.

Join Ars Technica editors Cyrus Farivar and Annalee Newitz in conversation with Gary Whitta at the next Ars Technica Live tonight, October 18, at Eli's Mile High Club in Oakland.

Gary is the former Editor-in-Chief of PC Gamer magazine and now an award-winning screenwriter and author, best known as the co-writer of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He also wrote the post-apocalyptic thriller The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington, co-wrote the Will Smith sci-fi adventure After Earth, and served as writer and story consultant on Telltale Games’ adaptation of The Walking Dead, for which he was the co-recipient of a BAFTA award for Best Story. Gary has written multiple episodes of Disney XD’s animated series Star Wars Rebels. Most recently, he wrote the feature film adaptation of the Eisner award-winning comic-book series Mouse Guard for 20th Century Fox. His first novel, Abomination, was recently published to critical acclaim.

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HP’s new workstation tablet makes Surface Pro look like Surface Amateur

Ars Technica - October 18, 2017 - 5:53pm


Imagine that you're a digital artist. You like the idea behind Microsoft's Surface Pro—a good touchscreen with pen support, tablet form factor for convenience, but adaptable into something like a laptop for when you've gotta write an e-mail—but you want something with a bit more potency. Perhaps you need to do 3D modeling, perhaps your Photoshop files are a bit too big and complex, perhaps you use Chrome so the Surface Pro's 16GB of RAM is too limiting.

Boy, does HP have the answer for you. The ZBook x2 joins HP's line of Surface Pro-like hybrid tablets, but as the Z in the name will indicate (at least, to those who are overly familiar with HP's product naming terminology), this is positioned as a workstation-class machine, sitting alongside HP's other PC workstations.

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Would you want a foldable phone? (The 3:59, ep. 301) - CNET - News - October 18, 2017 - 5:51pm
We discuss the new, foldable ZTE Axon M, as well as Walmart's vision for the future of shopping.

YouTube star Casey Neistat criticises video site's leaders

BBC Technology News - October 18, 2017 - 5:47pm
Award-winning vlogger Casey Neistat claims video creators could leave the service en masse.

One phone, two screens? Radical design opens door for change - CNET - News - October 18, 2017 - 5:46pm
An unlikely company is looking to kick-start a new trend in phones. It just needs to avoid creating a flop in the process.

Apple Maps gains airport maps for O‘Hare and several others

Ars Technica - October 18, 2017 - 5:43pm


As part of iOS 11, Apple announced plans to add airport and mall interiors to its Maps app. A few early examples of that rolled out earlier this year, but now the airport lineup has greatly expanded. New airports are already available in the app.

Oakland International (OAK), Miami International (MIA), Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP), Baltimore–Washington International (BWI), Portland International (PDX), and McCarran International in Las Vegas (LAS), as well as two airports in Chicago—O'Hare International (ORD) and Midway International (MDW)—have been added. These are in addition to San Jose International (SJC) and Philadelphia International (PHL), which were in beta versions of iOS 11.

When you find an airport on the map, you'll see indicators for each terminal. Tapping a specific terminal will zoom you in to a view of that terminal's floor plan, with markers representing various stores and shops, as well as gate numbers and security checkpoints. Markers for restaurants and shops can be tapped for more information. The airports are searchable, too.

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Republican fight against municipal broadband heats up in Michigan

Ars Technica - October 18, 2017 - 5:33pm

A state lawmaker in Michigan wants to prevent cities and towns from using any government funding to provide Internet service. Michigan Rep. Michele Hoitenga, a Republican from Manton, last week submitted a bill that says cities and towns "shall not use any federal, state, or local funds or loans to pay for the cost of providing qualified Internet service."

Hoitenga is the chair of the Michigan House's Communications and Technology committee, which will consider the bill.

About 20 states, including Michigan, already have laws restricting municipal broadband in some way, effectively shielding private broadband providers from competition even as many residents lack robust broadband options. But while these states generally let cities and towns offer Internet service if they meet certain criteria, the Hoitenga bill doesn't give local governments much leeway.

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Hackers can track, spoof locations and listen in on kids' smartwatches

The Register - October 18, 2017 - 5:19pm
Norwegian project exposes worrying lack of security

Tests on smartwatches for children by security firm Mnemonic and the Norwegian Consumer Council have revealed them to be riddled with flaws.…

Viral video of man being dragged from United flight gets officers fired

Ars Technica - October 18, 2017 - 5:03pm

Two aviation security officers involved in the April incident in which a 69-year-old doctor was violently removed from a United Airlines flight have been fired. The doctor, David Dao, suffered a broken nose, the loss of two teeth, and a concussion in an event that went viral on the Internet after it was captured by passengers' mobile phones.

The Chicago Department of Aviation did not release the names of the officers who were fired. Another resigned and a fourth official was briefly suspended in the O'Hare International Airport episode, in which Dao had refused to give up his seat on a flight to Louisville that was overbooked. He was forcibly removed. Dao later sued the airline and settled for an undisclosed amount. The ordeal also prompted United's CEO, Oscar Munoz, to publicly apologize.

Chicago's inspector general on Tuesday confirmed earlier reports that the officers involved had suggested that it was Dao's fault that he struck his face on an armrest before he was dragged off the plane.

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Big-budget, single-player gaming isn’t dead (yet)

Ars Technica - October 18, 2017 - 4:53pm

Enlarge / If a license like Star Wars isn't enough to justify a big single-player game budget, what is?

Yesterday's news that EA is shutting down Visceral Games is bad news for fans of franchises like Dead Space and for the studio's unnamed Star Wars project. But the abrupt shutdown has also caused a bit of an existential crisis to creep into the game industry chatter regarding the future of big-budget, single-player, story-driven gaming in general.

The core of all that worry comes from a section of the blog post EA's Patrick Söderlund wrote to announce Visceral's shutdown (emphasis added):

Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design.

That's all a bit vague, but the wording suggests that the "story-based, linear adventure game" being planned didn't look like it was going to turn a profit given "fundamental shifts in the marketplace." In other words, they started making Uncharted and now they want Destiny.

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Google Calendar for Web gets its first redesign since 2011

Ars Technica - October 18, 2017 - 4:35pm

Google Calendar on the Web is getting a new look. Google announced that the company is "taking a lot of what you know and love from Calendar’s mobile application, like the modern color palette and sleek design, and bringing it to the Web." Calendar is getting a "Material" redesign.

Calendar's existing design is something like six years old. It debuted in 2011 and uses a "red and gray" motif that just isn't Google's style anymore. "Material Design" is Google's current design philosophy, which debuted in 2014 on Android 5.0 Lollipop. The design language usually mixes white backgrounds with bold splashes of color, animation, and lots of whitespace. Information is presented in grids of cards, and the design language usually brings in smartphone motifs like "hamburger" buttons that open navigation panels. Material Design sites tend to look like big smartphone apps.

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Hitachi's IoT gang punts never-off data protection platform

The Register - October 18, 2017 - 4:33pm
A masterclass in mind-boggling 'always-on availability' spiel

Vantara, Hitachi's new Internet of Things + analytics business, has sped up its operational and disaster recovery chops, claiming to elevate IT with always-on data availability.…

A hole-in-your-chest Halloween costume tutorial, to spice up any costume party

Ars Technica - October 18, 2017 - 4:04pm

Costume design by Lowri Best. Shot and edited by Justin Wolfson. (video link)

Earlier this year, our video production team began spitballing ideas for a Halloween costume project. They likely thought the Ars editorial crew would suggest some boilerplate pop-culture "nerd" ideas, revolving around famous sci-fi or horror characters. Instead, they sighed after reviewing our long, technically challenging list full of stuff like robotic suits and diabolical person-sized packet-sniffing devices. (It was a stab at putting the "trick" into "trick or treat.")

In the end, we settled on a project that leans a little closer to the traditional affordable, last-minute costume ideas you'd find on the Web, though with a decent DIY tech-geek bent: your own see-through flesh wound.

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Post-zombie movie 'The Cured' digests human psyche, politics - CNET - News - October 18, 2017 - 4:03pm
This taut, suspenseful chiller has brains, much like a "Black Mirror" episode.

BlackBerry Motion lurches into UK stores

The Register - October 18, 2017 - 4:01pm
Endurance test for the mobe brand that refuses to die

BlackBerry Mobile, which is TCL for all intents and purposes, is making its enterprise slab available in the UK.…

The Earth’s interior is teeming with dead plates

Ars Technica - October 18, 2017 - 3:38pm

Enlarge (credit: Atlas of the Underworld)

Last week, scientists released a monumental interactive catalog that tracks 94 ancient tectonic plates lurking deep within Earth’s mantle, a resource they’re calling an “Atlas of the Underworld.”

Although scientists have known for decades that tectonic plates plunge into the Earth’s interior at subduction zones, until recently, those plates disappeared off the geological map once they stopped generating earthquakes, which happens after they’re around 670km below the surface. In the last few years, seismic tomography, which uses waves from earthquakes to make images of the planet’s interior, has restored their visibility. It has revealed subducted plates sinking in the mantle all the way down to the core-mantle boundary, 2,900km below Earth’s surface.

Now, Dutch scientists Douwe van der Meer, Douwe van Hinsbergen, and Wim Spakman of Utrecht University have catalogued 94 separate pieces of ancient tectonic plates, called “slabs,” in the mantle, linking them to dates where geological events happened while they were on the surface. Some subducted almost 300 million years ago, while others can be traced to active faults, such as those along the western coast of the Americas.

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Sonos One review - CNET - Reviews - October 18, 2017 - 3:33pm
Move over, Amazon Echo and Google Home. The Alexa-powered Sonos One is the first smart speaker that actually sounds good playing music.

Please replace the sword, says owner of now-hollow stone

The Register - October 18, 2017 - 3:29pm
Legendary lake lark comes true, sort of

The legendary sword has been pulled from the stone – but the owner wants it back and a crowdfunding campaign has been set up to replace the blade.…

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