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Industry & Technology

10 years of Grindr: A rocky relationship

BBC Technology News - 13 hours 4 min ago
A look back at the highs and lows from the first 10 years of dating app Grindr.

Elon Musk’s latest defense: Tesla says my tweets were kosher

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 8:45pm

Enlarge / Elon Musk. (credit: DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

Elon Musk has filed another round of arguments in his month-long battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which stems from a February 19 tweet about Tesla's production goals.

As part of a September settlement, Musk promised to get sign-off from Tesla lawyers for any tweets that "contain, or reasonably could contain" material information—legal jargon for information significant to people trading Tesla's stock. The SEC argues that Musk's February tweet, stating that Tesla would produce "around 500k" vehicles in 2019, violated that requirement.

Musk disagrees. He argues that he was merely repeating Tesla's earlier production estimates. And he insists he was entitled to use his own judgment to determine the information was not material—and therefore didn't require pre-approval by Tesla's lawyers.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The soldier who removed his own bladder stone, and other medical history marvels

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 5:21pm

Enlarge / A patient receiving dental treatment, circa 1892. There were several cases of "exploding teeth" in the 19th century that remain unexplained to this day. (credit: Oxford Science Archive/Getty Images)

While researching his 2017 book on the history of heart surgery, medical journalist Thomas Morris perused hundreds of journals from the 19th century. One day, a headline on the page opposite the one he was reading caught his eye: "sudden protrusion of the whole of the intestines into the scrotum." It was a bizarre case from the 1820s, involving a laborer run over by a brick-laden cart. The resulting hernia forced his intestines into his scrotum, and yet the laborer made a full recovery.

Once he got over his initial amused revulsion, Morris was struck by the sheer ingenuity displayed by doctors in treating the man's condition. And he found plenty of other similar bizarre cases as he continued his research, with people surviving truly horrifying injuries—a testament to the resiliency of the human body. "Doctors, even when they had less than a tenth of the knowledge we do today in terms of treating major trauma, could still come up with innovative and ingenious solutions to acute problems," he said.

Many of the most interesting medical cases Morris uncovered are featured in his hugely entertaining compendium of medical oddities, The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth, and Other Curiosities From the History of Medicine. Regular readers of his blog (tagline: "making you grateful for modern medicine") will revel in stories about a sword-swallowing sailor, a soldier who removed his own bladder stone, a man with combustible belches, a woman who peed through her nose, and a boy who inhaled a bird's larynx and started honking like a goose. All are delivered in elegant prose, punctuated with the author's distinctive dry wit. Morris has collected 500 or so of these frequently jaw-dropping cases thus far, and only included 70 or so in the book. So a sequel (or two) isn't out of the question.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Everything you need to know before Apple’s March 25 “it’s show time” event

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 4:33pm

Enlarge / The Steve Jobs auditorium on Apple's new campus.

Update: Today, March 25, Apple will hold its first public event of 2019 at 1pm ET (10am PT). And press invitations, rumors, and prior evidence indicate this event could hold an unprecedented announcement for the company: its long-anticipated streaming content business. Ars will be on site Monday to find out and liveblog all of it, but for now we're resurfacing our rundown of what to expect from Apple this week and what surprises may be in store. This story originally ran on March 15, 2019 and appears unchanged below.

On March 25, Apple executives and partners will take to the stage in the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's Cupertino campus to talk about subscriptions, software, services, entertainment, and media. These are all things Apple has dealt with before, but never before has an event focused so completely on them as we're expecting later this month.

That's not to say it's impossible that hardware will appear. The timing is right for an update to Apple's base iPad model, and reports and rumors have been joined by developer beta evidence to imply that hardware refreshes are imminent for a few Apple products like the iPad, iPad mini, iPod touch, and AirPods. These would fit perfectly in an event focused on services like TV, music, and news: they are media-consumption devices, first and foremost.

Read 50 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Shipwreck on Nile vindicates Greek historian’s account after 2,500 years

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 4:15pm

Enlarge / The hull of so-called "Ship 17," a wreck discovered in the sunken port city of Thonis-Heracleion. (credit: Christoph Gerigk/Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation)

Nearly 2,500 years ago, Herodotus described an unusual type of river boat he saw along the Nile while visiting Egypt. Many archaeologists doubted the veracity of the description, because there wasn't any evidence such a ship ever existed. But Herodotus is getting some posthumous revenge, as the discovery of just such a ship has vindicated his account. The details appear in a new published monograph, Ship 17: a Baris from Thonis-Heracleion, by archaeologist and shipwreck specialist Alexander Belov.

Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian, often called the "father of history" because his nine-volume work, Histories, essentially founded the field. Around 450 BCE, he traveled to Egypt and wrote about seeing construction of a type of cargo boat called a baris. The passage—a fragment just 23 lines long—talks of shipbuilders cutting planks and arranging them like bricks using long internal ribs called tenons, which would be a form of construction not known before. There was a mast made of acacia, sails of papyrus, a crescent-shaped hull, and a rudder for steering that passed through a hole in the keel.  But archaeologists had never found such a boat, with many concluding that the historian may have embellished his account.

Why wouldn't they believe the father of history? Even though Herodotus is required reading among classicists, he has a reputation for being a bit of a fabulist. Plutarch wrote an entire treatise entitled On the Malice of Herodotus, noting that one could fill several tomes with the "lies and fictions" of the Greek historian. The accounts of his travels through Egypt, Africa, and Asia Minor in particular have been dismissed as more fiction than fact. Granted, some of this might be due to errors in translation. For instance, he claimed to witness fox-sized "ants" in Persia, who spread gold dust as they dug their mounds. There is actually a Himalayan marmot that does this, and the Persian words for "mountain ant" and "marmot" are quite similar.

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Why you should steer clear of “Florida Man Challenge”

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 3:45pm

Enlarge / "Fun" as in "fund transfer"

This week, a viral "challenge" took Twitter and other social media by storm. The "Florida Man Challenge" called for people to:

  • Google "Florida Man" and their birthdate,
  • Find a headline about the activities of a "Florida Man" that matched their birthdate, and
  • Post that headline to their social media account.

The challenge spread like a cat meme, so much so that typing "Florida Man" into the Google search bar resulted in suggested entries that were almost exclusively calendar dates.

Everybody's Googling it.

When I walked into the @tb_times newsroom this morning, ALL of the top stories were about #FloridaMan. It was confusing until we realized why: Everyone is googling to see their Florida Man headline.

Of course, I wrote about it:https://t.co/nFMWQPbMRT

— Gabrielle Calise (@gabriellecalise) March 21, 2019

Doing this was, as we like to say at Ars, a really bad idea.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Good news for the 1,000mph car as Bloodhound gets a new owner

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 3:04pm

At the end of 2018, things looked pretty bleak for the Bloodhound SSC land speed record project. Breaking a land speed record has never been easy, particularly if the goal is to clear 1,000mph (1,600km/h). You need a highly engineered car, a rigorous test program, and a suitable bit of land upon which to run it. Which in turn means somewhere flat and remote enough for the neighbors not to mind, but convenient enough that you don't have to also build a bunch of new roads to get there. Bloodhound SSC found such a place in the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa. But by October 2018, the project entered into administration (a UK equivalent to bankruptcy) when it ran out of funding. By December, with no buyer found, it looked like the dream was over.

Earlier this week, that all changed. The effort—now called Bloodhound LSR—has a new backer in Ian Warhurst, who bought the assets from the administrators at the end of last year. It's also got a new HQ; the car has moved from its former base in Bristol, England, to SGS Berkeley Green University Technical College (UTC) on the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park (also in England).

"Since buying Bloodhound from the administrators last December, the team and I have been overwhelmed by the passion and enthusiasm the public have shown for the project. Over the last decade, an incredible amount of hard graft has been invested in the project and it would be a tragedy to see it go to waste," Warhurst said in a statement. "Starting with a clean slate, it’s my ambition to let Bloodhound off the leash see just how fast this car can go. I’ve been reviewing the project and I’m confident there is a commercial business proposition to support it. I’ll provide robust financing to ensure there is cashflow to hit the high-speed testing deadlines we set ourselves."

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Don’t buy a Mercedes-AMG GT R unless you plan on taking it to the track

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 3:00pm

As a beginner or even intermediate musician, you do not hop up on stage with jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie (were he still alive). If you're not confident in your ability to keep up with all the chord changes, where you are in the song's form, or the sheer tempo blowing by like a runaway train, it becomes a disaster. But overcoming intimidation and stretching one's self is part of musical growth. The Mercedes-AMG GT R is the automotive Dizzy Gillespie and taking the wheel is the equivalent of sitting in with him. The timid will run away. But then they'd never know how easy it could actually be to sit in with the jazz master.

With aggressive spoilers, a gaping and hungry toothed grille, huge tires and a pounding V8 engine, the AMG GT R glowers as you approach it, much like an imposing Gillespie might at an open jam session... until the music starts. If the GT R could bark or snarl, it would do that, too. Turns out, though, that the big attitude is largely show.

The AMG GT R does not start life as a normal GT or GT S model with additional boost shoveled on top. And you would be a certifiable lunatic to approach anything even half-way near its limits on public roads.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

I played 11 Assassin’s Creed games in 11 years, and Odyssey made them all worth it

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 2:00pm

I've been a dedicated fan of the Assassin's Creed video game franchise for 11 years. It hasn't always been a happy relationship. While the early games captured my imagination and introduced me to whole new modes of gameplay, the series' middle years were laden with misfires, feature bloat, and other serious problems.

I often look at fans raging against the companies that make their favorite franchises—Bethesda or Blizzard are the two most common targets I see—and shake my head in bewilderment. "If you hate their work so much, why don't you just play something else and let everyone else enjoy their games? It's not like there's a shortage of great games to try," I say.

But as I looked back on more than a decade of playing Assassin's Creed games to write this article, I for the first time kind of understood loving something so much that its stumbles make you feel not just disappointed, but a little mad.

Read 73 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Local leaders cooling to Boring Company tunnel promises

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 1:00pm

Enlarge / The Boring Company tunnel entrance with a Telsa on an elevator to lower it down to tunnel-level. (credit: The Boring Company)

Virginia state transit officials are telling The Boring Company "thanks but no thanks," at least for now. The Virginia Mercury reported yesterday that the state's chief of rail transportation, Michael McLaughlin, was not sufficiently impressed by his recent visit to Elon Musk's test tunnel in California to recommend that the state work with the startup.

"It's a car in a very small tunnel," McLaughlin reportedly told the state's Transportation Board public transit subcommittee this week. "If one day we decide it's feasible, we'll obviously come back to you," he added.

Virginia's Transportation Board has been contemplating billion-dollar upgrades to the state's more populated areas, but the promise of The Boring Company is opaque enough that officials are hesitant to engage with the company, even at the cut-rate prices that founder Musk has promised.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tesla sues Zoox over manufacturing and logistics secrets

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 12:35pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

On Wednesday night, Tesla sued four former employees and the self-driving startup Zoox for misappropriation of trade secrets. No, you're not having driverless-car lawsuit déjà vu—you're just remembering the time last year when Waymo and Uber settled their own trade secrets case after four days of trial.

Tesla’s suit, filed in the Northern California federal district court, alleges that four of its former employees took proprietary information related to “warehousing, logistics, and inventory control operations” when they left the electric automaker, and later, while working for Zoox, used that proprietary information to improve its technology and operations.

Tesla says the former employees—Scott Turner, Sydney Cooper, Christian Dement, and Craig Emigh—worked in product distribution and warehouse supervising. It alleges that they forwarded the trade secrets to their own personal email accounts or the accounts of other former Tesla employees. “You sly dog you …” Turner allegedly wrote in the body of an email he sent himself, attaching “confidential and proprietary Tesla receiving and inventory procedures, as well as internal schematics and line drawings of the physical layouts of certain Tesla warehouses,” the company's lawyers write in their complaint.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Liveblog: Apple unveils its TV service and more at the March 25 “It’s show time” event

Ars Technica - March 24, 2019 - 12:00pm

Enlarge / The event invite strongly hints at the upcoming video service. (credit: Apple)

CUPERTINO, Calif.—At 10am Pacific on Monday, March 25, Apple and its partners will take the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., to talk about a new TV-streaming platform, a new magazine-subscription service, and possibly much more. We'll be liveblogging the event as it happens, so join us here a few minutes before the show for all the updates.

Apple has been signaling to investors, partners, and customers for many months that it will increase its focus on services—always-available, ever-growing content and software offerings—more in the future, as that is the part of its business it expects to grow the fastest. Monday's "It's show time" event will be unusual in that it is expected to focus more on those services than any prior Apple event.

Some hardware announcements were strong possibilities due to timing and reports across the Web—namely, new iPads, AirPods, and iMacs, plus a new iPod touch and AirPower charging mat.

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How Pope Francis could shape the future of robotics

BBC Technology News - March 24, 2019 - 1:26am
Pope Francis hosts discussions on the future of robotics and ethics at the Vatican in Rome.

US computer science grads outperforming those in other key nations

Ars Technica - March 23, 2019 - 10:30pm

Enlarge (credit: David Goehring / Flickr)

There's a steady flow of reports regarding the failures of the US education system. Read the right things and you'll come away convinced that early grades fail to teach basic skills, later grades fail to prepare students for college, and colleges students fail so much that they can't cope with the world outside the campus walls. But this week brought a bit of good news for one particular area: college-level computer science programs appear to be graduating some very competitive students.

This comes despite the fact that US students enter colleges behind their peers in other countries.

The work, done by an international team of researchers, compares US college seniors to those of three countries where US companies have outsourced some of their work: China, India, and Russia. All of these countries have a reputation for first-rate computing talent, with India and China developing large internal markets as well. Many students from these countries also come to study in the US, while Russia and China have been involved in cyber attacks against the United States and/or companies based here.

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Hold onto your butts: A tour through Kualoa Ranch, aka real world Jurassic Park

Ars Technica - March 23, 2019 - 3:30pm

KĀNEʻOHE, Hawaii—For a first time visitor driving up from Kailua along HI-83, it felt like that John Williams’ “Main Theme” should’ve been playing the entire time as we watched the Hawaiian landscape reveal itself. Then we arrived—and learned we had signed up to tour the actual Jurassic Park.

I have it on good authority that a certain Ars staffer may or may not have appeared in the background of park scenes in 2015’s Jurassic World. In reality, those particular sequences happened at an abandoned theme park outside of New Orleans on a production set. But it turns out the lush nature and endless greenery seen in both the original and the latest Jurassic Park iterations happens to be very genuine and very open to the public for those that can make it to Kualoa Ranch.

Located on the eastern coast of Oahu, Kualoa Ranch spans 4,000 acres of nature preserve. It boasts so many different microclimates and environments that it can rain in one portion of the place while being bone dry in another. It has such stunning scenery that a freaking Motorola phone from 2014 will take photos that look like movie stills at a glance. And because of those two factors—a private remote setting, effortless visual beauty—Kualoa has become a popular destination for big budget productions. Everything from Jurassic World to Battleship to Jumanji (2017) has worked here in recent years (and gems like The Karate Kid or Krippendorf's Tribe did in the past). Evidently Triple Frontier had just been at Kualoa filming one particular cliffside escape scene, utilizing an artificially created three-foot high cliff for safety.

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How id Software went from skeptical to excited about Google Stadia streaming

Ars Technica - March 23, 2019 - 3:00pm

Enlarge / Google Stadia's controller. (credit: Google)

SAN FRANCISCO—Back in 2016, when Google first approached id Software about bringing some games to a potential new streaming service, the game developer was skeptical to say the least. "The proposal immediately bumped against our main bias," id Senior Programmer Dustin Land said during a talk at this week's Game Developers Conference. "Streaming adds latency to the thing we desperately want to remove latency from."

Fast forward more than two years, and id was proudly on stage this week showing a version of Doom Eternal running on Google's newly announced Stadia streaming platform. But getting from that initial skepticism to that grand unveiling wasn't always an easy process, Land said.

Getting to yes

For years, Land said, Google had been watching their YouTube analytics, waiting for a big enough group of users to reach the point where their connections would be able to handle game streaming. By September of 2016, Google thought the broadband market was mature enough to give it a try, and the company approached id for some real-world help with game testing.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Board game review: Ultimate Werewolf Legacy

Ars Technica - March 23, 2019 - 2:30pm

Enlarge

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.

Our 16 games of Werewolf sprawled across 20 hours and two lengthy play sessions. They began well enough, with enthusiastic people enjoying each other's company, keen to backstab, betray, and devour their fellow participants. Villagers—and the occasional werewolf—were hanged, and each person’s hands were bloodied. Yes, this was the decade-old social deduction game we all knew well—but now with sealed boxes, fistfuls of stickers, and a huge leather tome for the moderator to scribble in.

Ultimate Werewolf Legacy takes an old concept and pairs it with newfangled “legacy” game mechanisms. This means components are permanently altered—mostly the moderator's diary—and decisions are made that impact future plays. In other words, it's a campaign game with irreversible decisions, promising all the drama that premise entails. 

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Mini-review: Fitbit’s Versa Lite favors affordability over unnecessary features

Ars Technica - March 23, 2019 - 2:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

The Versa Lite confused me at first. When Fitbit announced the new Inspire and Inspire HR fitness trackers, the company also debuted the new Versa Lite. This smartwatch looks identical to the original Versa, which came out last year, but it lacks a few features and costs $40 less. Considering the Versa was meant to be a cheaper, more accessible version of the $300 Fitbit Ionic, it was strange to see Fitbit come up with an even more affordable version of its already affordable smartwatch.

But Fitbit is positioning itself as the company with smartwatches for all kinds of people. Instead of making one flagship device with a bunch of features like Apple has done with the Apple Watch, Fitbit is investing in numerous devices with different feature sets at various price points. Now, the Versa family has three devices: the $159 Versa Lite, the $199 Versa, and the $229 Versa Special Edition. Choice provides more accessibility, but it can also breed confusion.

We tested out the Versa Lite to see how different it really is compared to the original Versa and if it's worth pocketing that extra $40.

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Those Midwestern floods are expected to get much, much worse

Ars Technica - March 23, 2019 - 1:16pm

Enlarge / HAMBURG, IOWA - MARCH 20: Homes and businesses are surrounded by floodwater on March 20, 2019 in Hamburg, Iowa. (credit: Scott Olson | Getty Images)

The record-setting floods deluging the Midwest are about to get a lot worse. Fueled by rapidly melting snowpack and a forecast of more rainstorms in the next few weeks, federal officials warn that 200 million people in 25 states face a risk through May. Floodwaters coursing through Nebraska have already forced tens of thousands of people to flee and have caused $1.3 billion in damage.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its spring flood outlook Thursday, predicting that two-thirds of the country is at risk of "major to moderate flooding," from Fargo, North Dakota on the Red River of the North down to Nashville, Tennessee, on the Cumberland River. The floods from the past two weeks have compromised 200 miles of levees in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The rains and floods are expected to continue through May and become more dire, according to Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season,” Clark said, “with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities.”

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Valve Software dreams of analyzing your brainwaves to tailor in-game rewards

Ars Technica - March 22, 2019 - 11:15pm

Enlarge / Valve Software's Mike Ambinder offers a joking photo of what people think his job as Principal Experimental Psychologist looks like. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell was not on hand to confirm or deny Valve's use of power tools on his head. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

SAN FRANCISCO—Valve Software's famously "flat" structure means most of its game-making staffers have vague titles. One of the few exceptions is its Principal Experimental Psychologist, who presented a futuristic gaming vision at this year's Game Developers Conference—in particular, he made a few peculiar admissions about how Valve might one day study your brain activity in the middle of a game and what the company might do with it.

Before speaking, Valve Software's Mike Ambinder laid out a very loud disclaimer about GDC's "vision" track of panels: "This is supposed to be speculative," he said. "This is one possible direction things could go." Even with that caveat in mind, Ambinder's choice of details is interesting to sink our teeth into, especially coming from a company that seems to offer more speculation about the future of gaming than it does actual applications of it (i.e. new games).

The slot machine of your mind?

The above and below images of Ambinder goofing off with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell weren't just for yuks: "Every talk I've given, this reliably gets a laugh. Think about that. What if we could elicit reliable reactions [from video games] and determine we were doing so?"

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