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Industry & Technology

Ford to end almost all US car sales, focusing on SUVs and trucks

Ars Technica - 1 hour 34 min ago

Enlarge / Ford’s truck business will continue growing as the company adds new models and powertrains with an eye toward continued growth in high-end trims. But if you want a sedan or hatchback, you better act now, because they're going away soon. (credit: Ford)

On Wednesday, Ford dropped a bombshell during its Q1 earnings call: it's going to stop selling almost all its cars in the US. The Mustang will remain on sale, as will the Focus Active, a model that won't debut until next year. But kiss goodbye to the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Taurus, and C-MAX. Instead, the company will focus almost exclusively on SUVs, crossovers, and trucks in the US domestic market.

Ford's President and CEO Jim Hackett cited the declining popularity of the car—which the company pioneered more than a century ago—as the reason for the decision. "We are committed to taking the appropriate actions to drive profitable growth and maximize the returns of our business over the long-term. Where we can raise the returns of underperforming parts of our business by making them more fit, we will. If appropriate returns are not on the horizon, we will shift that capital to where we can play and win," he said.

As we learned earlier this year, Ford has redesigned Explorer and Escape SUVs coming next year, with a reborn Ford Bronco plus another unnamed crossover coming soon after. And it still plans to expand its line-up of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid EVs, launching six by 2022.

Read on Ars Technica | Comments

TCL 6-Series (2018 Roku TV) Release Date, Price and Specs - CNET - Reviews - 1 hour 35 min ago
Starting at a hyper-aggressive $600 for the 55-inch size, it checks all the picture quality and Smart TV boxes. Watch out, Vizio.

Facebook branded a 'morality-free zone' in government inquiry - CNET - News - 1 hour 45 min ago
Mark Zuckerberg sent exec Mike Schroepfer to the UK to face a grilling about Cambridge Analytica, dark ads and fake news.

Snapchat releases new Spectacles 2.0

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 48 min ago
Over a year after they first launched, Spectacles 2.0 is being released with new features.

New Smithsonian space leader talks NASA, alien life, Star Trek - CNET - News - 2 hours 2 min ago
Q&A: Ex-NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan, who'll be the first woman to run the National Air and Space Museum, also discusses rockets, Mars and discrimination.

Snap updates Spectacles with faster uploads, water resistance - CNET - News - 2 hours 12 min ago
After the first iteration of Snap's camera sunglasses went from hype to afterthought in a couple months, the company is reviving the device with some tweaks.

NASA budgeting reveals dim hopes for humans going to Mars

Ars Technica - 2 hours 17 min ago

Enlarge / The Sun sets on Mars in 2015, as seen by NASA's Curiosity rover. When might humans see this view with their own eyes? (credit: NASA)

When it comes to spaceflight, there are crazy optimistic schedules like those Elon Musk sometimes tosses about, and there is just plain crazy. Some recent comments from the chief executive of Boeing, an aerospace company that simultaneously holds the most lucrative contracts in NASA’s exploration, International Space Station, and commercial crew programs, seem to fall into the latter category.

Speaking about NASA’s plans to send humans to Mars at a recent forum, Boeing’s Dennis Muilenburg offered his own opinion. "I anticipate that we will put the first person on Mars in my lifetime,” he said. “I think in this decade, and the first person that gets there is going to be on a Boeing rocket."

This is a preposterous statement. NASA may one day send humans to Mars on a “Boeing rocket”—the Space Launch System—but it will not happen in this decade or the next. In fact, on the present schedule, and because the staggering development costs of Boeing’s rocket will measure in the tens of billions of dollars, NASA seems unlikely to land humans even on the Moon in the 2020s. Mars remains a distant, evanescent dream.

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

This online tool aims to get pledges toward gender parity - CNET - News - 2 hours 18 min ago
The 50/50 Day Action Pledge tool connects users with steps they can take to promote a more gender-balanced world.

Camels in Africa may have been quietly spreading prion disease for decades

Ars Technica - 2 hours 30 min ago

Enlarge / The silhouette of three camels at sunset. (credit: Getty | AFP)

A newly identified form of prion disease may have been quietly spreading in the brains of African camels for decades, according to a report published in the June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The spread of the new, fatal neurodegenerative disease—similar to the well-known “mad cow disease” caused by misfolded proteins in the brain—is a major concern for communities and public health. There are tens of millions of camels in Africa in a rapidly evolving camel farming system. The animals are crucial sources of meat, milk, and transportation for millions of people there. But perhaps most concerning is that prion diseases are known to be able to spread across species, potentially posing a disease risk to consumers.

This "makes it necessary to assess the risk for humans and develop evidence-based policies to control and limit the spread of the disease in animals and minimize human exposure,” the authors of the new report conclude.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Video game loot boxes declared illegal under Belgium gambling laws

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 34 min ago
The Belgium Gaming Commission finds video game loot boxes violate its gambling legislation.

Twitter echo chambers are very real, study says - CNET - News - 2 hours 39 min ago
A study of 2.7 billion tweets found that echo chambers do exist on Twitter, and you're more likely to be retweeted if you pick a side.

Why the man who tried to sell Windows recovery discs will go to prison

Ars Technica - 2 hours 57 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Mack Male)

A California man has been ordered to prison for 15 months after having been convicted of "counterfeiting" thousands of Windows Reinstallation Discs. Curiously, Microsoft routinely gives away this Windows download at no cost.

In short, Eric Lundgren, who runs a 100-employee Los Angeles-area e-waste company known as IT Asset Partners, was sentenced to prison for selling something that is otherwise generally free.

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court affirmed Lundgren’s sentence, as he had pleaded guilty in 2017 to criminal copyright infringement in connection to his unauthorized sale of the discs.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The long-awaited death of cash may finally be coming - CNET - News - 3 hours 1 min ago
E-commerce and mobile money may in the coming years take a bite out of cash's strength in the payments world. But it won't be easy.

Amazon's Fire HD 10 is on sale for $100 - CNET - News - 3 hours 3 min ago
For a limited time Amazon has chopped $50 off the list price of the Fire HD 10, making a very good budget tablet an even better bargain.

Over 10,000 years ago, weapons at White Sands were aimed at giant sloths

Ars Technica - 3 hours 5 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Bustos et al. 2018)

More than 10,000 years ago, a band of hunter-gatherers chased a group of giant ground sloths along the shores of an ancient lake, and their footprints still preserve the story. West of the sparkling white gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument, at a site called Alkali Flat, layers of mud and sand left behind by a long-vanished lake hold more than 100 human and giant ground sloth tracks—rare evidence of Pleistocene hunters stalking, and sometimes cornering, giant sloths.

Most of them are so-called “ghost tracks,” visible only under very specific conditions.

“Most of the time they are invisible. There is a lot of salt in ground, and when it rains, the salt dissolves. And, crucially, as it dries out, the fill dries at a different rate and the difference between the fill (footprint) and the surrounding sediment makes the track visible for a brief time while it dries out,” explained paleoecologist Sally Reynolds of the UK’s Bournemouth University, a co-author on the paper. The team, led by the US National Parks Service’s David Bustos, used aerial photography to spot the tracks and then selected a few groups for careful excavation and study.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

<i>Avengers: Infinity War</i>: More Marvel-ous moolah for comic film-erverse, probably

The Register - 3 hours 8 min ago
And comic book fandom fanned the flames

Movie franchises generally follow the law of diminishing returns. Christopher Reeve’s iconic first turn as Superman made $170m more than his second and a positively heroic $500m more than his fourth.…

A beginner’s guide to the world of weird and wonderful Japanese import cars

Ars Technica - 3 hours 9 min ago

Enlarge / Warning: Reading this article may send you into a portal that involves a lot of Craigslist browsing, research into Japanese auto brokers, and increased familiarity with foreign-language parts websites. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Did you grow up playing Gran Turismo, marveling over the weird and wonderful Japanese market (JDM) cars that never made it to these shores? If you, too, always wanted to drive JDM exotica like a Nissan Skyline, Toyota Century, or Mazda Cosmo, prepare yourself for good news.

H.R.2628, the "Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988," has long been a thorn for automotive enthusiasts in the USA. This is the official reason why, after you discovered those cars in Gran Turismo, you couldn’t actually buy one. Known as the ‘25 Year Rule,' H.R.2628 essentially requires auto enthusiasts to wait 25 years to the month from when a vehicle was first manufactured before it can be legally imported if the vehicle wasn’t originally meant for sale in the US market.

Take something like the Nissan Skyline mentioned above. The company never offered it for sale in the US, which means Paul Walker’s famous R34 Skyline GT-R in 2 Fast 2 Furious isn’t legal for import. The R34 was first manufactured in 1999, placing the earliest year for importing under H.R. 2628 at 2024. Sure, there are various places in the US that will smuggle vehicles newer than 25 years into the country and play the ‘state legal’ game (where they act like state legality somehow overrides federal law), but this isn't true. At any time, a Nissan Skyline-importer can be caught and have their car taken away with zero recourse.

Read 61 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Snapchat releases new Spectacles 2.0

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 27 min ago
Over a year after the first version's launch, Spectacles 2.0 are released with new features.

IBM blockchain alliance tracks jewelry from the mine to the mall - CNET - News - 3 hours 36 min ago
TrustChain links suppliers with manufacturing and retail so you can be sure that engagement ring came from where the store says it did.

So Retro: Vinyl records keep on spinning - CNET - News - 3 hours 38 min ago
Step inside Rainbo Records in Los Angeles to see how vinyl records are made.

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