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The Porsche Taycan electric car gets Apple Music, 3 years free data

Ars Technica - 6 hours 7 min ago

Enlarge / The new Porsche Taycan electric car is the first to feature Apple Music integration into the infotainment system. (credit: Porsche)

Porsche's new battery-electric Taycan sedan is probably the most hotly anticipated car of the year. The car's official launch—and our deep dive into its technology—happens early in September. Later that month, we'll be able to tell you how it drives, ahead of the first customer deliveries in December. But we do have some news we can share about the car now. On Monday evening, Porsche revealed that it has worked together with Apple to integrate the Apple Music streaming service into the Taycan's infotainment system. All Taycan customers will receive a six-month free trial to the service, and Porsche says that Taycans will also come with three years free data service.

The addition of Apple Music is in addition to (and separate from) CarPlay, which is still a standard feature of the Taycan's infotainment system. But as CarPlay users will know, it's a highly sandboxed way of interacting with content from your phone. That's not the case with the new Apple Music feature. It has been added as a separate input in the Taycan's media player app, alongside broadcast radio, bluetooth devices, and so on.

Playlists can be shown on the main instrument panel in front of the driver and controlled using the multifunction steering wheel as well as though the infotainment screen in the center stack. The tight integration into the infotainment system means that if you hear a song you like on the radio—and it has been correctly tagged—you can easily add it to your Apple Music library or even create a new Apple Music playlist based on that track. In addition to the stuff you expect to find in Apple Music, Porsche is also proving some curated playlists for Taycan owners.

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Google Stadia exclusives push potential players to data centers [Updated]

Ars Technica - 7 hours 25 min ago

Enlarge / Artist's rendering of players that aren't interested in game streaming reacting to news that Orcs Must Die 3 is a Stadia exclusive. (credit: Robot Entertainment)

[Update (7:45pm ET): In a "clarification" post on Reddit this evening, Robot Entertainment CEO Patrick Hudson said that Orcs Must Die 3 would be a timed exclusive for Stadia, but the company wouldn't say how long that timing would last. This is a relatively standard setup for third-party exclusive games these days.

"OMD3 would not be possible today without Google's support," Hudson wrote. "They are behind the game in a big way. We've hired more developers to bring it to life. It;s the OMD game that fans of the first two games have been wanting, and we’re thrilled that we have the opportunity to make it."]

Original Story

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The people policing the internet's most horrific content

BBC Technology News - 7 hours 56 min ago
Website content moderators have to see some very disturbing material. How do they cope?

Kerbal Space Program 2 will take flight in 2020—here’s the first trailer

Ars Technica - 8 hours 51 min ago

During the Gamescom opening night livestream, game publisher Private Division released a new trailer revealing and announcing Kerbal Space Program 2, a sequel to the popular 2015 physics-based spaceship construction and spaceflight sim. Kerbal Space Program 2 will be released in the first quarter of 2020.

We've included the trailer below. Set to music by M83, it's a pre-rendered cinematic that humorously juxtaposes dramatic spaceflight documentary tropes with the characters and frequent accidents of the game.

Newly announced features include "new planets to explore, new technologies to traverse the stars, and the ability to establish colonies, all rooted in real-world science," according to Private Division's press release. Additionally, the sequel will bring multiplayer to the franchise, and players will be able to build "without the constraints of planetary gravitation for the first time," which should allow for more elaborate constructions than were possible in the previous game.

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Review: Fight scenes are the only bright spot in grim, joyless Wu Assassins

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 10:33pm

Iko Uwais stars as Kai Jin, a Chinese-Indonesian chef in San Francisco's Chinatown who is granted a mystical power in the new Netflix series Wu Assassins.

A humble chef is granted mystical powers to hunt down five powerful warlords in Wu Assassins, a new supernatural action drama from Netflix. Unfortunately, a talented cast and terrific fight choreography can't keep the show from sinking under the weight of its leaden, uninspired script. No martial arts series should be this much of a slog.

(Some spoilers below.)

Indonesian martial-arts star Iko Uwais (The Raid, Stuber) stars as Kai Jin, a Chinese-Indonesian chef in San Francisco's Chinatown who finds himself chosen as the last of the Wu Assassins, a long line of fighters tasked with killing the five Wu Warlords. The warlords all possess elemental supernatural powers tied to fire, wood, earth, metal, and water. These powers were conferred upon them by the Wu Xing: five shards that are absorbed into the body when touched. Kai's task is to kill the current crop of Wu Warlords, reassemble the shards, and send them back to heaven where they belong, thus ridding the world of their influence. Not that the Wu Xing are necessarily evil: we learn they reflect the character of whoever possesses them. It just so happens that bad people tend to crave the immense power they confer.

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Neanderthals suffered from a veritable epidemic of swimmer’s ear

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 9:58pm

Enlarge / The arrows point to bony growths called external auditory exostoses, or swimmer's ear, in the skull of a Neanderthal from La Chapelle-aux-Saints, in France. (credit: Erik Trinkaus)

Swimmer's ear happens when constant exposure to cold water irritates tissues in the ear canal, causing bony growths to form. As its name implies, it commonly shows up in people who spend a lot of time in the water. But it also shows up in almost half of Neanderthal skulls from Eurasia, according to a recent study.

Washington University paleoanthropologist Erik Trinkaus and his colleagues studied fossils, digital scans, photographs, and other archaeologists' reports from 77 Neanderthals and Homo sapiens who lived in Europe and Asia during the Pleistocene. Based on this sampling of remains with preserved inner ear bones, a surprising number of Neanderthals were running around Pleistocene Eurasia with swimmer's ear.

Lifestyles of the cold, damp, and windy

You won't get swimmer's ear from a single cold-water surfing trip. It takes long-term exposure to cold water or cold, damp air for the irritation to actually reshape the bone. If you're looking at a skeleton, swimmer's ear is the kind of trait that can tell you something about a person's habits in life. Anthropologists still aren't exactly sure what swimmer's ear tells us about Neanderthals' lifestyle, but it may have something to do with genetics, hygiene, and a taste for shellfish.

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How malformed packets caused CenturyLink’s 37-hour, nationwide outage

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 9:15pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | RiverNorthPhotography)

CenturyLink's nationwide, 37-hour outage in December 2018 disrupted 911 service for millions of Americans and prevented completion of at least 886 calls to 911, a new Federal Communications Commission report said.

Back in December, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the outage on CenturyLink's fiber network "completely unacceptable" and vowed to investigate. The FCC released the findings from its investigation today, describing how CenturyLink failed to follow best practices that could have prevented the outage. But Pai still hasn't announced any punishment of CenturyLink.

The outage was so extensive that it affected numerous other network operators that connect with CenturyLink, including Comcast and Verizon, the FCC report said. An FCC summary said:

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85 Google Play apps with 8 million downloads forced fullscreen ads on users

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 9:05pm

Enlarge (credit: Trend Micro)

Researchers found 85 Google Play apps with more than 8 million downloads that forced users to view fullscreen ads.

The apps, which posed as photography and gaming programs, contained a family of adware that was highly disruptive to end users. Once installed, the apps displayed ads in full screen—a setting that forced users to view the entire duration of an ad before being able to close the window or get back to the app. The apps showed an ad every five minutes, but the people operating the platform had the ability to remotely change the frequency.

AndroidOS_Hidenad.HRXH, as the adware is called, used several tricks to evade detection and removal. A half-hour after being installed, for instance, an app would hide its icon and create a shortcut on the device home screen. (That's according to a write-up from Trend Micro, the security firm that found the apps.) Hiding the icon prevented the apps from being uninstalled by dragging and dropping the icon uninstall section of the device screen. Android 8 and later versions require user confirmation before an app can create a shortcut, but even if users of these versions didn't agree, the icon would nonetheless remain hidden.

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Insomniac Games acquired by Sony, calls out “a special relationship”

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 8:38pm

Enlarge / One of these PlayStation controller icons is not like the other. Insomniac Games' logo, third from the left, is now an official part of the Sony Interactive Entertainment family. (credit: Sony / Sam Machkovech)

Insomniac Games, one of PlayStation's most consistent game developers, has been officially acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Monday's announcement did not include any terms.

"We've enjoyed a special relationship with PlayStation practically since our inception," Insomniac founder and CEO Ted Price said in the acquisition's announcement. "Our partnership amplifies our potential, and Marvel's Spider-Man was a testament to this."

It's easy to assume that Insomniac already operated as a "first-party" Sony game studio. The developer has been responsible for some of the biggest PlayStation-exclusive franchises throughout that console's lifespan, including Ratchet & Clank, Resistance, and last year's phenomenal Marvel's Spider-Man.

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Newt Gingrich proposes a $2 billion prize for a human Moon lander

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 8:03pm

Enlarge / Blue Origin has proposed a "Blue Moon" lander to send cargo and potentially humans to the Moon. (credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

During 2020 campaign speeches, President Donald Trump regularly touches on the theme of commercial space. Trump often says he likes that Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and other billionaires who are investing in aerospace are building reusable rockets and paying NASA rent to use the agency's facilities.

Now, some advisers are quietly urging the president to take his enthusiasm for commercial space and entrepreneurs a step further—by creating a prize for whoever lands humans on the Moon. The effort, led by former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, was first reported by Politico. It would award a $2 billion prize to the first company to land humans on the Moon, and the winner would probably be Musk or Bezos.

NASA, of course, already has its own Moon plan named the Artemis Program. Under this plan, the space agency would use its own rocket (the Space Launch System) and spacecraft (Orion) as vehicles to put two humans onto the lunar surface by 2024. NASA has not specified how much accelerating a human return to the Moon will cost, but the price tag will likely be $6 billion to $8 billion a year, on top of the agency's existing budget.

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Report: United States will give Huawei another 90-day export license

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 7:15pm

Enlarge (credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Update Monday, August 19, 2:15pm: As expected, the US Department of Commerce made the extension official today. Effective today, Huawei has another 90-day Temporary General License that will allow it to support its existing customers until November 18, 2019.

The press release includes a statement from Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, saying, "As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei's products, we recognize that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption. Simultaneously, we are constantly working at the Department to ensure that any exports to Huawei and its affiliates do not violate the terms of the Entity Listing or Temporary General License."

In addition to the 90-day extension, the Department of Commerce expanded the scope of the export ban and added 46 additional Huawei affiliates to the entity list.

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Cerebras reveals world's 'largest computer chip' for AI tasks

BBC Technology News - August 19, 2019 - 7:03pm
The chip, which is larger than an iPad, is designed for complex artificial intelligence systems.

Google Play Store’s blindingly white redesign starts rolling out

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 6:47pm

Google seems to be rolling out a major new redesign of the Google Play Store. We've seen this design slowly take shape through limited testing over the past few months, but now it seems like the design is finally coming to a wide array of devices. These designs are occasionally just for testing and get rolled back, but with the launch of Android Q on the horizon, we get the feeling this version will stick.

The new design is in line with the revamped "Material Design" spec that Google launched with Android 9 Pie last year. This style uses the homepage as a design inspiration and as a result it is very, very, very white. You can see a lot of this design today in Android P and Q and in the new Gmail design that launched earlier this year.

The Play Store sells Apps, Movies, Books, and Music, and the previous design used boldly colored headers to differentiate between the sections. These colors still exist in minor highlights, but the app is mostly monochrome now. Only content thumbnails provide pops of color.

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Ransomware strike takes down 23 Texas local government agencies

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 6:18pm

Enlarge / They did. (credit: Getty Images)

Early on August 16, a total of 23 local government organizations in Texas were hit by a coordinated ransomware attack. The type of ransomware has not been revealed, and Texas officials asserted that no state networks were compromised in the attack.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Information Resources (TDIR) told Ars that authorities are not ready to reveal the names of the entities affected, nor other details of the attack. State and federal agencies are in the midst of a response, and TDIR did not have information on whether any of the affected governmental organizations had chosen to pay the ransom.

But the TDIR did reveal that the ransomware came from a single source. "At this time, the evidence gathered indicates the attacks came from one single threat actor," a spokesperson said. "Investigations into the origin of this attack are ongoing; however, response and recovery are the priority at this time."

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They called you a troll, deal with it—court slaps down libel lawsuit

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 6:08pm

Enlarge / Trolls. (credit: Kimli)

Automated Transactions LLC (ATL) is a small firm known for its aggressive enforcement of broad patents related to automated teller machines. Numerous critics labeled ATL a patent troll, and in 2016 the firm sued several of them in New Hampshire state courts, arguing that the label was defamatory.

On Friday, the New Hampshire Supreme Court dismissed ATL's lawsuit. To win a libel lawsuit, a plaintiff has to prove that a statement is both false and defamatory. A statement of opinion can't be proven false and, hence, can't be the basis for a libel claim. New Hampshire's Supreme Court ruled that calling someone a "troll" was just such a statement of opinion—and so it can't be defamatory.

“Nothing more than a shakedown”

In the 1990s, ATL founder David Barcelou invented a machine for automated gaming that made cash payouts to winners. While his invention never became commercially successful, he patented some of the underlying concepts—including patents related to the process of paying out cash to customers. Around 2008, the firm began asserting its patents against banks, arguing that banks infringed his patent when they connected their ATMs to the Internet. The firm generated more than $3 million in licensing revenues between 2011 and 2012.

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Vaping linked to 94 mysterious cases of severe lung disease in 14 states

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 4:34pm

Enlarge / A person smokes a Juul Labs Inc. e-cigarette. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Saturday that it’s investigating a puzzling burst of severe lung-disease cases linked to e-cigarette product use or “vaping.”

Between June 28 and August 15, health officials have counted 94 probable cases of severe lung illness in 14 states, the CDC said. Officials haven’t found any conclusive evidence to suggest that an infectious illness is behind the cases, the agency added. The only common thread so far appears to be recent vaping by those afflicted.

The CDC is working in close consultation with officials in some of the hardest-hit states, including Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Indiana, and Minnesota. Wisconsin alone reported 30 of the 94 cases.

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Why one PC developer turned down the security of Epic’s exclusivity offer

Ars Technica - August 19, 2019 - 3:58pm

Enlarge / Artist's conception of DARQ's developers sadly walking away from Epic Games Store exclusivity.

If you've been following the PC gaming space in recent months, you know Epic has been throwing a lot of money around to secure exclusives big and small for its Epic Games Store (EGS) on PC. But there has also been a small and growing trend of developers who are publicly rejecting Epic's money and exclusivity terms for a variety of reasons.

Rise of Industry creator Alex Mochi, for instance, said in a screengrabbed Discord conversation that Epic's "deal didn't appeal to me" because "I want for as many people to have access to the game as possible." SkateBIRD developer Megan Fox tweeted that Epic told her they were "focusing on exclusives, and SkateBIRD promised Steam keys in its [KickStarter], therefore, nah [on Epic Games Store availability]." Factorio developers Wube Software said in a blog post it would see any potential exclusivity deal as "selling-out to big companies that would use the game as cash grab while destroying the brand." And so on.

Indie developer Unfold Games is the latest to publicly turn down an Epic exclusivity offer for its dream-like adventure game DARQ. The team went into more detail than most on the decision in a Medium post this weekend, explaining why "getting some upfront payment on top of guaranteed revenue" from Epic was not enough to entice them.

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US delays Huawei trade ban for another 90 days

BBC Technology News - August 19, 2019 - 2:09pm
The reprieve allows US companies to do business with Huawei for a further 90 days

Texas government organisations hit by ransomware attack

BBC Technology News - August 19, 2019 - 1:38pm
Hackers target 23 organisations in what local officials say was a co-ordinated attack.

King's Cross investor seeks facial recognition answers

BBC Technology News - August 19, 2019 - 1:13pm
The BT Pension Scheme, which funded the area's redevelopment, asks about use of facial recognition.

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