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Industry & Technology

Video: How an 11th hour decision made Aliens versus Predator a classic

Ars Technica - 1 hour 14 min ago

Video shot by Justin Wolfson and edited by Lee Manansala. Click here for transcript.

Welcome to the latest edition of "War Stories," where we sit down with video game developers and cajole them into talking about the gameplay design elements that almost broke their brains. In this episode, we're chatting up Tim Jones, the lead artist and producer of 1999's Aliens versus Predator.

Jumping on the brand wagon

The Aliens versus Predator brand is a childhood fever dream brought to life—who hasn't had playground arguments over who'd win in a fight between some of the biggest and baddest bad guys of them all? The idea of watching supernal figures battle it out is both fun and endlessly attractive, because everyone likes a spectacle, and the biggest spectacle of all comes from watching one irresistible alien force slam into another unmovable alien object. Sparks fly, things explode, and we're happy.

The "Aliens versus Predator" concept first appeared in graphic novel form, but it was catapulted into mainstream consciousness by a series of films in the 2000s. Though definitely spectacular in the most literal sense of the word, the movies all ultimately fall short in just about every other area; only the first, released in 2004, is (arguably) watchable without the aid of alcohol or other drugs.

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Ivanka Trump used personal email for official White House business

Ars Technica - 1 hour 22 min ago

Enlarge / Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner on the South Lawn of the White House. (credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

First daughter and presidential advisor Ivanka Trump used a personal email account dozens of times to conduct official White House business, The Washington Post reports, citing an internal White House investigation. It's an ironic revelation given her father's obsession with Hillary Clinton's own use of a private email server during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Federal law requires government officials to preserve written records of their activities—and that includes email. Government email systems are set up to comply with these laws, and federal IT guidelines require government officials to use their official email accounts for all official business. The use of official email accounts may also reduce the risk of sensitive communications being intercepted by foreign intelligence agencies.

But senior government officials have not always been scrupulous about following these rules. Hillary Clinton famously did work as secretary of state using a personal email address linked to an email server located in her home in Chappaqua, New York. Republicans turned this records-management snafu into a prominent issue in the 2016 campaign.

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Can you trust an AI data trust not to slurp your data?

The Register - 1 hour 27 min ago
Data ownership is so yesterday. Give us all you've got... ethically

Comment In a refreshing change, the government yesterday appointed an NHS technology advisory panel with almost no medics or tech experts on board. Today, it announced the names of expert advisors to the nebulous "Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation", one of two new bodies set up this year. This one is intended to assure the public that they can trust AI companies with slurping their data.…

What is going on with SpaceX and all these Big Falcon Rocket changes?

Ars Technica - 1 hour 33 min ago

Enlarge / Elon Musk speaks near a Falcon 9 rocket during his announcement that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be the first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard the BFR launch vehicle. (credit: DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

SpaceX and Elon Musk have been in the news a lot in recent days, both because of financial disclosures and the rocket company founder's musings on Twitter about his current space obsession—the Big Falcon Rocket or BFR. There has been a lot to process, so here's our best attempt to make sense of what Musk has said and what it may really mean. Musk started breaking news about SpaceX rocket designs about two weeks ago, so we'll start there.

Mini BFR Ship

On Wednesday, November 7, Musk tweeted that the "Falcon 9 second stage will be upgraded to be like a mini-BFR Ship." He added that this upgraded second stage could be ready to fly by June 2019. This prompted a flurry of speculation that SpaceX may be taking steps toward making the second stage of its Falcon 9 rocket—the part of the booster that presently inserts a payload into orbit and then burns up upon reentry to Earth's atmosphere—fully reusable.

However, this was not to be the case. Later, Musk clarified that this upgraded "mini-BFR Ship" will essentially be a small test version of the Big Falcon Spaceship, the spacecraft intended to fly on top of the Big Falcon Rocket booster. Currently, he said, the company cannot test features such as an "ultra light heat shield" and "high Mach control surfaces" without doing an orbital reentry. The company still intends to build a Big Falcon Spaceship for supersonic reentry and landing tests at SpaceX's facility in Boca Chica, Texas. It is not clear how many missions the mini-BFR Ship will fly.

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Valve quietly discontinues Steam Link hardware production

Ars Technica - 1 hour 47 min ago

(credit: Valve)

Valve is quietly discontinuing Steam Link, the in-home streaming box it first launched in late 2015. A low-key announcement on Valve's Steam Link news page suggests that production of new units has ceased and that Valve is currently selling off the rest of its "almost sold out" inventory in the US, after selling out completely in Europe. Valve says it will continue to offer support for existing Steam Link hardware.

The $50 Steam Link was designed for streaming games from a local gaming PC to an HDTV in the same house, a job it did pretty well provided your networking hardware was up to it. In recent months, though, Valve has shifted its focus away from dedicated streaming hardware and toward mobile apps that can provide the same feature.

Apple is currently blocking the release of a Steam Link app designed for Apple TV and iOS devices, but similar apps are available for Samsung Galaxy devices and other Android phones (in beta). Steam users have been able to stream to laptops on the same network since 2014, as well.

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LG Xboom AI ThinQ crashes the smart display party, but maybe too late - CNET - Reviews - 1 hour 59 min ago
The LG Xboom AI should offer the same great Google Assistant smarts we're used to from devices like the Google Home Hub. Its speakers need to rock if it's going to stand out.

Black Friday TV deals 2018: The best values and cheap sales - CNET - News - 2 hours 5 min ago
The lowest TV prices of the year start now. Here are our favorite deals so far.

Facebook used for bidding in child bride auction - CNET - News - 2 hours 7 min ago
The auction sought dowry for a 16-year-old girl in South Sudan.

Black Friday 2018 Pixel 3 deals: Free Pixel 3, $600 Pixel 3, $300 off Pixel 3 XL - CNET - News - 2 hours 15 min ago
The latest from Verizon, Google and Best Buy.

Black Friday 2018: The best deals on sale right now - CNET - News - 2 hours 17 min ago
Can't wait for Nov. 23? Here's a look at what you can get today!

Black Friday 2018 Amazon deals now available: Roku, Fire TV, $199 Alexa sound bar, Recast DVR, Fire tablets, Blink cameras and more - CNET - News - 2 hours 18 min ago
Fully updated Tuesday, Nov. 20, here's the full list of Echo, Fire, Kindle and other Amazon gear and their sale prices!

The Princess Bride performed live -- in a VR app - CNET - News - 2 hours 19 min ago
As Inigo Montoya might say: Prepare to die, virtually.

Uber adds more wheelchair-accessible vehicles to its fleet - CNET - News - 2 hours 19 min ago
Wait times are said to be less than 15 minutes in certain cities.

Best Black Friday 2018 headphone deals available now - CNET - News - 2 hours 23 min ago
Black Friday is nearly upon us. Here's a look at some of the top headphone deals, including ones you can get right now.

Monopoly: Game of Thrones update plays theme song while you conquer - CNET - News - 2 hours 25 min ago
Hopefully it won't cause any mini Red Weddings.

Mini John Cooper Works Knights Edition to debut at LA show - Roadshow - News - 2 hours 32 min ago
Another special-edition version of the JCW gets a black-and-silver appearance.

Big Falcon Namechange for Musk's rocket: BFR becomes Starship

The Register - 2 hours 43 min ago
♪We built this rocket on debt and bull*♪

Elon Musk took to Twitter last night to announce the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) will henceforth have the considerably more ambitious moniker Starship.…

Black Friday 2018 smart home deals: Google Home Hub, Facebook Portal, Apple HomePod, Alexa gadgets and more - CNET - News - 2 hours 48 min ago
We're tracking the best smart home bargains from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Fry's, Target and more. Here's our full list -- including deals you can buy right now. Expect regular updates.

Ivanka Trump reportedly used personal email for government business - CNET - News - 3 hours 6 min ago
A review found the president's daughter used the personal account through most of 2017.

Mini John Cooper Works GP races toward production - Roadshow - News - 3 hours 10 min ago
The high-performance hatchback launches in 2020.

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