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Industry & Technology

Alita: Battle Angel - how we made the film

BBC Technology News - February 11, 2019 - 9:12am
Director Robert Rodriguez explains how technology helped bring the film to life.

Reddit: Censorship fears spark criticism of Tencent funding reports

BBC Technology News - February 11, 2019 - 7:28am
Redditors flooded the site with snarky posts after reports of funding from Chinese tech giant Tencent.

Grindr and Tinder 'must not risk children's safety'

BBC Technology News - February 10, 2019 - 4:34pm
Minister vows to question Grindr and Tinder on safeguarding measures following "shocking" findings.

Donald Trump's wall: How tech guards the US-Mexico border

BBC Technology News - February 10, 2019 - 1:36am
Camera-laden towers and underground sensors plug the gaps in the existing US-Mexico border fence.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald visual effects

BBC Technology News - February 10, 2019 - 1:16am
The joint visual effects supervisor behind the Bafta-nominated film explains how the images were made.

Google Play caught hosting an app that steals users’ cryptocurrency

Ars Technica - February 9, 2019 - 5:45pm

Enlarge (credit: Yu Chun Christopher Wong/S3studio/Getty Images)

Google Play has been caught hosting yet another malicious app, this time one that was designed to steal cryptocurrency from unwitting end users, researchers said Friday.

The malware, which masqueraded as a legitimate cryptocurrency app, worked by replacing wallet addresses copied into the Android clipboard with one belonging to attackers, a researcher with Eset said in a blog post. As a result, people who intended to use the app to transfer digital coins into a wallet of their choosing would instead deposit the funds into a wallet belonging to the attackers.

So-called clipper malware has targeted Windows users since at least 2017. Last year, a botnet known as Satori was updated to infect coin-mining computers with malware that similarly changed wallet addresses. Last August came word of Android-based clipper malware that was distributed in third-party marketplaces.

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A potted history of Japan’s car industry delights at the Petersen Museum

Ars Technica - February 9, 2019 - 4:10pm

LOS ANGELES—Like most nerds, I love spending time in a good museum. It doesn't matter if it's planes, video games, carseven creationists. (OK, that last one wasn't good, per se.)

When it comes to good car museums, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is one of my favorites—right up there with the wonderful Lane Motor Museum in Nashville. Both have quite different foci. At the Lane you'll see more rear-engined Tatra sedans than you'd ever think possible outside of the Czech Republic or Slovakia, not to mention dozens and dozens of voiturettes and Kei cars. (Oh, and some Group B rally stuff.) Meanwhile, the Petersen often plays host to equally rarified but often much more expensive fare. At a conference I attended there last year, it was often hard to concentrate on the panelists and not the pristine Ferrari 250GTO that just sat there, a few feet away…

A recent trip to LA afforded some downtime, and how better to use it than a quick visit to this palace of vehicular delights? I caught the tail end of an exhibit called "The Roots of Monozukuri: Creative Spirit in Japanese Automaking," which opened last summer and runs until February 10. (Monozukuri is translated as "the art, science, and craft of making things.")

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Scenes from America’s largest auto show

Ars Technica - February 9, 2019 - 2:30pm

Enlarge (credit: Chicago Auto Show)

From its start in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show has grown to become the largest auto show in North America. Held every February at the massive McCormick Place Convention Center, the Chicago Auto Show opens for its 111th run today. Typically the scene of vehicle debuts, 2019 was no exception, with Land Rover unveiling the 2020 Range Rover Evoque, Subaru taking the wraps off the newly redesigned Legacy, and Kia introducing the brand-new Telluride SUV for the 2020 season. Not present this year are BMW and Mercedes, which are taking a breather from the auto show circuit for 2019, but just about every other mainstream and luxury automaker is on the scene.

A couple of days before the show opens to the public, the automotive press is invited to wander the vast (around a million square feet) exhibition space to get up close and personal with the vehicles on the display. If you can't make it to the Chicago Auto Show, here's some of what you'll be missing.

The SUVs and crossovers

I primarily review SUVs and crossovers because our Automotive Editor Jonathan Gitlin hates anything with a center of gravity above ankle height. Luckily, there were some SUVs that caught my eye at the show.

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Our favorite two-player board games, 2019 edition

Ars Technica - February 9, 2019 - 2:00pm

If you're anything like us, Valentine's Day brings to mind iconic images of candlelit dinners, boxes of chocolate, roses, and, of course, board games.

"What tabletop games are best for couples?" is a question we get all the time here at Ars Cardboard, and today we're answering (again) by reprising our 2016 two-player guide with fresh new picks for 2019. Of course, you don't have to be romantically linked to your gaming partner to enjoy these titles; our recommendations are perfect for any time your group is running behind and you only have one other person to push some cubes with. Or maybe you don't have a group—all you need to play these games is one other willing (or kinda-sorta willing) partner.

The games below are new-player-friendly card and board games (sorry, we're not tackling miniatures or wargames today) that can be played in an hour or less. While most board games accommodate two players—many quite well—we've found that the best two-player experiences are often those built from the ground up for duos. So we're sticking with two-player-only games for this list (including one that has recently added support for other player counts).

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Esports gamers battle at event in Northamptonshire

BBC Technology News - February 9, 2019 - 10:42am
About 650 esports gamers and 100 spectators are battling it out to win thousands of pounds.

TikTok: Where gummy bears singing Adele rule

BBC Technology News - February 9, 2019 - 1:35am
The Chinese-owned meme platform taking over the internet.

What is TikTok?

BBC Technology News - February 9, 2019 - 1:35am
The social media app was downloaded more times than Instagram and Snapchat in 2018.

Parenting site Mumsnet hit by data breach

BBC Technology News - February 9, 2019 - 12:05am
The flaw meant account holders saw some details of other users and their message history.

Drug companies are sitting on generics—43% of recently approved aren’t for sale

Ars Technica - February 8, 2019 - 10:50pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Ute Grabowsky )

Of the more than 1,600 generic drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration since January of 2017, more than 700—or 43 percent—are not for sale in the US, according to a new analysis by Kaiser Health News.

The finding means that many pricy, brand-name drugs are not facing the competition that could help drive down soaring prices. Among the drugs missing in action are generic versions of the expensive blood thinner Brilinta and the HIV medication Truvada. Moreover, of the approved drugs that would offer a brand-name drug its first competition, 36 percent are being held off the market, the analysis found.

Experts told KHN that the reasons drug makers may withhold an approved generic from the market are varied. Industry consolidation has made buying, manufacturing, and distributing generics more difficult in recent years. Generic drug makers also, as always, face patent litigation from brand-name makers. Then there’s potentially anti-competitive deals, in which brand-name drug makers simply pay generic makers to keep their product off the market for a while—a so-called “pay for delay” tactic.

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New images of the distant Ultima Thule object have surprised scientists

Ars Technica - February 8, 2019 - 9:45pm

Enlarge / New Horizons took this image of the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 (nicknamed Ultima Thule) on Jan. 1, 2019, when the NASA spacecraft was 8,862km beyond it. The image to the left is an "average" of ten images. (credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

Back in early January, when scientists pulled down their first batch of data from the New Horizons spacecraft, they celebrated an odd snowman-shaped object in the outer Solar System. From this first look, it appeared as though Ultima Thule, formally named 2014 MU69, consisted of two spheres in contact with one another—a contact binary.

Now that scientists have downloaded more data from the distant spacecraft, however, our view of Ultima Thule has changed. A sequence of images captured as New Horizons moved away from the object in the Kuiper Belt at a velocity of 50,000 km/hour, taken about 10 minutes after closest approach, show a much flatter appearance.

After analyzing these new images, scientists say the larger lobe more closely resembles a large pancake, and the smaller lobe looks a bit like a walnut. The new photos reveal a dramatically different object because they were taken from a different angle than the images that were downloaded first.

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Apple’s internal hardware team is working on modems now, likely to replace Intel

Ars Technica - February 8, 2019 - 9:25pm

Enlarge / The iPhone XS. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple will design its own modems in-house, according to sources that spoke with Reuters. In doing so, the company may hope to leave behind Intel modems in its mobile devices, which Apple has used since a recent falling out with Qualcomm.

According to the sources, the team working on modem design now reports to Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies. Srouji joined Apple back in 2004 and led development of Apple’s first in-house system-on-a-chip, the A4. He has overseen Apple silicon ever since, including the recent A12 and A12X in the new iPhone and iPad Pro models.

Before this move, Apple’s modem work ultimately fell under Dan Riccio, who ran engineering for iPhones, iPads, and Macs. As Reuters noted, that division was heavily focused on managing the supply chain and working with externally made components. The fact that the team is moving into the group focused on developing in-house components is a strong signal that Apple will not be looking outside its own walls for modems in the future.

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Two sea level studies have some good news, bad news

Ars Technica - February 8, 2019 - 9:05pm

Enlarge / The Stange Ice Shelf in Antarctica. (credit: Mark Brandon)

One of the most shocking climate science studies in recent years came in 2016. That study, from David Pollard at Penn State and Rob DeConto at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, showed that adding a couple physical processes to their model of the Antarctic ice sheets caused it to produce significantly more sea level rise this century. In their simulation, shrinking Antarctic glaciers raised sea level by a full meter by 2100—and things only picked up from there.

These simulations were much closer to hypotheses than to iron-clad predictions. The model showed these processes—the collapse of ice cliffs above a certain height and pressure-driven wedging apart of ice crevasses by meltwater—could make a huge difference. But such scenarios haven’t been studied well enough in the real world to know if the model was representing them well. Luckily, that task climbed the priority list after the work was published.

A newly published study led by Tamsin Edwards at King’s College London first dove into DeConto's and Pollard’s simulations for some clarity. This team thought they had a better way of characterizing the range of results in the simulations to find the highest probability answers. They didn’t have the supercomputer time to repeat the simulations and add new ones, so instead they “emulated” the simulations by representing the existing ones with some statistics. That allows them to fill in the gaps between the limited number of simulations.

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AT&T sued by Sprint, must defend decision to tell users that 4G is “5G E”

Ars Technica - February 8, 2019 - 8:52pm

Enlarge / Screenshot from an AT&T commercial. (credit: AT&T)

Sprint is suing AT&T, alleging that AT&T's misleading "5G E" advertising campaign violates laws prohibiting false advertising and deceptive acts and practices.

AT&T renamed a large portion of its 4G network, calling it "5G E," for "5G Evolution." But as we've written, what AT&T calls 5G E consists of technologies that are part of the years-old 4G LTE-Advanced standard and are already used by Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint on their 4G networks. Despite that, AT&T has been advertising this supposed upgrade to 5G E and even changing network indicators on smartphones from 4G to 5G E.

"By making the false claim that it is offering a 5G wireless network where it offers only a 4G LTE Advanced network, AT&T is attempting to secure an unfair advantage in the saturated wireless market," Sprint wrote in a complaint filed yesterday in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. "AT&T's false and misleading statements deceive consumers into believing that AT&T now operates a 5G wireless network and, through this deception, AT&T seeks to induce consumers to purchase or renew AT&T's services when they might otherwise have purchased Sprint's services."

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Raspberry Pi: Hi-tech firm goes for high street experience

BBC Technology News - February 8, 2019 - 6:59pm
Why would a technology firm that has sold millions of units online venture on to the high street?

Nintendo: 3DS sales falling “faster than anticipated”

Ars Technica - February 8, 2019 - 6:25pm

Enlarge / Just a few of the many 3DS hardware options still being supported by Nintendo.

Since just before the Switch launched and as recently as October, Nintendo has continued to insist that the 3DS can exist alongside the Switch as a lower-cost, lower-powered portable gaming alternative. Over the last two years, there have even been some signs of life for the aging portable's continued market health.

But 2018 might be seen as the year the market finally started slipping away from the aging 3DS. Hardware sales for the 2018 calendar year were just 2.85 million, down over 57 percent from the year before. That's a marked change from the 2016 to 2017 period, where 3DS sales worldwide fell just nine percent year-over-year (despite the intervening launch of the ultra-hot Switch in 2017).

Nintendo's new president Shuntaro Furukawa admitted in a recent Q&A that "the Nintendo 3DS market has contracted faster than we anticipated." But in practically the same breath, he once again committed to supporting the system alongside the Switch going forward.

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