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Industry & Technology

Huawei delays launch of folding smartphone

BBC Technology News - June 14, 2019 - 3:02pm
The Chinese tech giant says it's being "cautious" about the device, which was supposed to launch this summer.

The best games, demos, and tech of E3 2019

Ars Technica - June 14, 2019 - 2:30pm

C'mon, how can you deny Keanu? (credit: Xbox / Microsoft)

LOS ANGELES—There's no getting around it: Walking through the Los Angeles Convention Center for 2019's Electronic Entertainment Expo felt weird. This year's new Sony-sized hole compounded the fact that Xbox and EA held events elsewhere (and Activision, once again, didn't really show up).

As a result, this year's E3 was the most thinly attended iteration we've seen in years—but that was by no means the fault of the games on offer. We left E3 2019 impressed by a variety of games old and new. While we're still working through a backlog of hands-on impressions, the Ars gaming braintrust is already ready to name its favorite games of the show—all of which were games shown with real, live gameplay. Admittedly, narrow preview builds mean devs could still be fooling us with some smoke and mirrors—this is E3, land of unfinished games—but all of the below demos presented well enough at E3 to pass our sniff test for hype and BS.

Here, for your consideration, is our unranked list of the Top 10 games of E3 2019, along with a selection of honorable mentions.

Read 53 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google's AR animals entertain Android users

BBC Technology News - June 14, 2019 - 12:24pm
Augmented Reality animals are appearing as an option on some Android devices as Google rolls out a new feature.

Twitter removes Iranian-backed accounts

BBC Technology News - June 14, 2019 - 11:46am
The deleted accounts sent millions of messages trying to influence opinions about Iran, says Twitter.

HBO’s Los Espookys will make you want to be a horror technician, too

Ars Technica - June 14, 2019 - 11:45am

AUSTIN, Texas—"When was the last time you ever saw a show like that?" Drunk History's Derek Waters asked the crowd after a world premiere screening at last week's ATX TV Festival. "I'm honored to moderate this panel because what you just saw is groundbreaking."

To be clear, "never" might be the answer to Waters' question. And this panel did not center on Drunk History; it didn't even feature another Comedy Central show. Instead, the host sat onstage alongside an all-Latinx main cast and head-writers group from what might be HBO's next great comedy: a half-hour, Spanish-language, horror-adjacent series debuting tonight (11pm ET) called Los Espookys.

Horror how-to

At the most basic level, Los Espookys follows four friends who form a business in an undisclosed Latin-American country where occasional supernatural occurrences are an unacknowledged, normal part of daily life. After the friends successfully execute a spooky-themed Quinceañera for one of their younger sisters, wise Uncle Tico (Fred Armisen of SNL, Portlandia) offhandedly says their work looks so good, so full of passion that they should pursue it as a side hustle. (Wise Uncle Tico would know; he works as a valet.)

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Keanu Reeves and Cyberpunk 2077: Gaming doesn't need legitimising

BBC Technology News - June 14, 2019 - 12:27am
The actor talks to Radio 1 Newsbeat at E3 about his starring role in the game Cyberpunk 2077.

The super-tough drones and robots going where we can't

BBC Technology News - June 14, 2019 - 12:12am
How do you build unmanned vehicles that can withstand extreme temperatures, pressures and terrains?

Children use AI to try to survive Mars

BBC Technology News - June 14, 2019 - 12:07am
New ways to harness artificial intelligence to solve humanity's greatest challenges.

The robot that understands irony and other news

BBC Technology News - June 14, 2019 - 12:06am
BBC Click's Paul Carter looks at some of the week's best technology stories.

Public services web project cost soared to £110m

BBC Technology News - June 14, 2019 - 12:01am
A project to move public services online is now estimated to cost £110m.

Here’s what an Apple TV and Alexa look like on an old TV and record player cabinet

Ars Technica - June 13, 2019 - 10:56pm

Enlarge / Apple TV on a vintage TV cabinet. (credit: Thomas Martin Lewins V)

Consumer and household tech obviously looks quite different today than it did years ago—there's a significant analog and digital divide, for one thing. Among other things, bridging that gap makes integrating the latest tech with tech from a few decades back a real challenge. But it's not impossible.

Facebook user Thomas Martin Lewins V proved that last point by getting a modern Apple TV box to work with his gigantic, archaic console television and by integrating analog speakers, radios, and record players throughout his house with Amazon Alexa. He posted a couple of videos online as proof, which Boing Boing picked up recently.

First up: the Apple TV setup. This allows him to view Netflix and Hulu shows on that old TV. Here's what he wrote to introduce the clip:

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Little Danny Torrance is all grown up and still shining in Doctor Sleep trailer

Ars Technica - June 13, 2019 - 9:58pm

Ewan McGregor stars as adult Danny Torrance in the film adaptation of Stephen King's novel Doctor Sleep, a follow-up to The Shining.

A hospice worker with psychic abilities must confront the horrors of his past to protect a young girl from a murderous cult in the first trailer for Doctor Sleep, the big-screen adaptation of horror master Stephen King's novel. It's a sequel of sorts, since both the novel and film explore what happened to young Danny Torrance as he grew into adulthood after the horrifying events of The Shining.

(Spoilers for The Shining novel and film; mild spoilers for Doctor Sleep the novel.)

King published The Shining in 1977. It became his first hardback bestseller and was adapted into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1980, starring Jack Nicholson as struggling alcoholic and aspiring writer Jack Torrance. Initial reviews weren't particularly favorable—King himself is not a fan of the film—but it's now considered a horror classic.

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Ajit Pai says NOAA and NASA are wrong about 5G harming weather forecasts

Ars Technica - June 13, 2019 - 9:45pm

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai listens during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC, on June 20, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The FCC recently auctioned spectrum in the 24GHz band under controversial circumstances, as experts from other federal agencies warned that cellular transmissions in that band may significantly reduce the accuracy of weather forecasts.

When asked about the controversy at yesterday's Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Pai said that data provided by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is faulty. He also criticized the agencies for raising concerns "at the 11th hour."

Calling NOAA's study "fundamentally flawed," Pai said, "For example, it ignores the fact that 5G will involve beamforming, essentially adaptive antenna arrays that will more precisely send 5G signals—sort of a rifle shot, if you will, instead of a shotgun blast of 5G spectrum."

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dealmaster: A ton of Nintendo Switch games are on sale this week

Ars Technica - June 13, 2019 - 7:05pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals to share. Today's roundup is headlined by a big sale on Nintendo Switch games, which, like Sony and Microsoft's recent offerings, Nintendo is running to commemorate this year's E3 show. The sale technically started earlier in the week, but Nintendo says it will run through June 18.

Some highlights here include first-party games Super Mario OdysseyMario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze available for $40, which is about $10-15 off their usual going rate. The Switch version of Doom, which looks worse than its PC and other console counterparts but still runs well (and is generally excellent), is half-off at $30, while platformer Celeste, our 2018 game of the year, is down to $13 from its usual $20. Nintendo has a full list of what's on sale at its eShop digital store.

The catch here is that most of the deals on offer apply to digital games, so they'll likely take up more of the Switch's 32GB of internal storage than physical cartridges. Many of the third-party multi-platform titles can be found cheaper on other consoles, too, and at least a few of the games on offer are still more expensive than their physical copies. So be sure to cross-check prices if a game interests you and isn't on our curated list below. We'd also like it if games like Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 were a little cheaper at this point, given that they've been out for a couple of years. But solid discounts on the Switch's most popular games are still fairly rare, and much of what's available here is good value relative to their usual prices on the console.

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Google is ending the integration between Drive and Photos

Ars Technica - June 13, 2019 - 6:15pm


Google Drive is a place to store all your files, and Google Photos is a place to store all your photos. On the surface, having these two Google services integrate somewhat makes sense, and today, all your Google Photos end up in Drive and all your Drive photos end up in Google Photos. But this week Google has announced that this integration will be ending soon, citing user feedback that the integration is "confusing." Starting in July, the two services will be separate with photos in one service no longer moving over to the other.

Google Drive's "Backup and Sync" desktop app is Google's equivalent of Dropbox. Install it to your desktop computer, and it will download all your Drive files into a folder and keep that folder synced and up to date. Usually this involved a ton of office files generated by Google Docs and the like, and the Google Photos integration meant that, by default, Drive also tried to download your entire photo collection to every computer you own. While it's hard to fill up a hard drive with office files, the Google Photos folder could be tens or even hundreds of gigabytes depending on how much of a shutterbug you are.

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Atari’s new VCS isn’t a console, but it isn’t quite a computer either

Ars Technica - June 13, 2019 - 5:55pm

LOS ANGELES—At E3 meetings this week, Atari finally showed off playable, near-final prototypes of its long-delayed, then heavily crowdfunded VCS, its modernized homage to the original Atari Video Computer System (aka the 2600). Obviously, there was a lot of discussion of what the system—which starts at $250 in a package without controllers—actually is at this point. But there was just as much focus on what it is not.

First off, representatives wanted to stress that, despite outward appearances, this is not just a retro "mini" console along the lines of the NES Classic Edition or the recently announced TurboGrafx-16 Mini (or even the long-running Atari Flashback line). Yes, the VCS will come with a collection of classic games in the "Atari Vault," and Atari will also sell classic 2600 ROMs that work through a built-in emulator. And yes, players can buy a $50 wireless, rumbling, four-direction, "single-button" digital joystick modeled after Atari's classic design. That comes complete with modern touches like menu buttons, an LED light ring that responds to directional input, and a stick that rotates on its axis for "paddle" controls.

But Atari representatives stressed that the VCS is a modern platform, powered by a Ryzen R1606G Raven 2 APU (roughly the equivalent of a dual-core, 4-thread Zen CPU and a Vega GPU). That can handle 4K video streams, which means it's ready for services like Google Stadia or Microsoft's Xcloud. Getting 4K resolution on a locally run game with a decent level of 3D detail and frame rate seems nearly impossible, though. Atari's provided example of a "modern" game running on the system was a Linux version of Borderlands 2, a 2012 title that frankly chugged along at a pretty choppy frame rate in our hotel suite demonstration.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Light-based computer may parallelize 10-megabit computations

Ars Technica - June 13, 2019 - 5:26pm

Enlarge / If everything's set up properly, you know you have a solution when the input light results in a single point of light as the output. (credit: Robert Horn/Argonne National Laboratory)

When it comes to computation, the modern approach seems to involve an enormous bucket of bits, vigorous shaking, and not a lot of explanation of how it all works. If you ever wondered how Excel became such an abomination, now you know.

We don’t seem to have a problem creating and filling enormous buckets of bits, but shaking them up is energy-intensive and slow. Modern processors, as good as they are, simply don’t cope well with some problems. A light-based, highly parallel processor may just be the (rather bulky) co-processor that we've been looking for to handle these tasks.

Solutions are downhill

One way to compute a solution to a problem is called annealing. I’ve written a lot about annealing in the context of quantum computing, but annealing works for classical computers as well. The essential idea is that a problem is recast so that the solution is the lowest energy state of an energy landscape. The landscape determines how strongly the value of one bit affects the value of the surrounding bits.

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Hyundai self-driving deal points to industry-wide pattern

Ars Technica - June 13, 2019 - 5:20pm

Enlarge (credit: Hyundai)

It has been a busy week for Aurora, the self-driving startup founded by veterans of the Google, Tesla, and Uber self-driving programs. On Monday, Aurora announced it had forged a partnership with Fiat Chrysler. On Tuesday, Aurora said it was ending its partnership with Volkswagen. Now Hyundai is deepening its partnership with Aurora with an equity investment.

It's the latest example of an industry-wide pattern: one after another, car companies have made big investments in self-driving startups. And these deals mean that carmakers are effectively entering into self-driving alliances with one another.

Some carmakers are taking big stakes in self-driving projects

General Motors started the process back in 2016, buying self-driving startup Cruise for more than $500 million. In 2018, GM sold a modest stake in Cruise to Honda, cementing a self-driving alliance between the two companies.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Racing’s not just for rich guys—a look at the American grassroots scene

Ars Technica - June 13, 2019 - 5:08pm

For most New Yorkers, a frozen Lake George signals the onset of winter and some of the year's most brutal weather. But for a handful of upstate gear heads, the ice represents something completely different: the perfect race track. "This is my favorite time of the year!" shouts Paul Dudley on a chilly February morning. He revs up his '99 Mazda Miata and peels out onto the frozen lake, running laps along a makeshift course marked by cones along the ice. His stripped-down Miata—"a Miata on an 800-pound diet," he jokes—is fitted with studded tires that dig into the ice, providing significant grip while kicking a thick mist into the air on every turn.

For Dudley, and more than 100 other drivers like him, these ice races are the ultimate adrenaline rush. They are also emblematic of what the country's grassroots racing scene has become: a unique but increasingly accessible way for hobbyists to fuel their need for speed.

"This is probably the most economical form of racing," says Michael Westhouse, the vice president of the Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club (AMEC), the local organization that has hosted the races since 1965. "You don't need a racing license. All you need is a helmet and some snow tires and you're all set." AMEC hosts races for nine different classes, including home-built vehicles, modified cars with studded tires, and even street-legal cars, which cautiously navigate each twist and turn with virtually no traction.

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Vodafone suffers faults across Europe

BBC Technology News - June 13, 2019 - 4:57pm
Users have been unable to use mobile and fixed-line broadband services.

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