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The first private mission to the Moon may launch Thursday night

Ars Technica - February 21, 2019 - 3:10pm

Enlarge / An artist's concept of the Space IL lunar spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. (credit: SpaceIL)

SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday night, and while it may not be the primary payload, a small Israeli lunar lander is by far the mission's most intriguing payload.

The 180kg Beresheet spacecraft, privately developed by SpaceIL in Israel and funded largely through philanthropy, will spend more than six weeks raising its orbit and becoming captured into lunar orbit before finally making the first private attempt to land on the Moon. Until now, only the US, Russian, and Chinese space agencies have ever successfully landed on the Moon.

This means there is a lot of pressure on the small Israeli team leading the mission, both in their native country and among the commercial lunar community, which wants to prove that private ventures can do what only nations have done before. "What it means to me is that the responsibility is very high," said Yoav Landsman, a senior systems engineer for the project, in an interview.

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Guidemaster: The least-awful Android phones

Ars Technica - February 21, 2019 - 2:00pm

Enlarge / These two got new phones, and look at how happy they are! (credit: Ron Amadeo)

So you want to buy an Android phone, eh?

It's often said that a strength of the Android ecosystem is the sheer number of manufacturers out there producing devices, but that also means there is an absolutely intimidating amount of devices to pick from. Over 400 Android devices were released just in 2018—and the idea of buying a single device and then living with it for years can be daunting. Throw in tons of different price points, carrier compatibility, and user preferences, and "What Android phone should I buy?" can be a very complicated question.

We're here to sift through the absolutely crazy amount of choices and point out the phones we think would be best for most people. These are the best Android phones you can buy.

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Playtime to the max: Snapshots from the 2019 New York Toy Fair

Ars Technica - February 21, 2019 - 1:30pm

Every year, despite frigid temperatures and threats of snow, toymakers from across the country gather at New York City's Javits Center to show off their newest playthings. Companies big and small set up booths to showcase the year's most exciting forthcoming toys, and Ars wandered around most (although not all) of the 1.8 million-square-foot convention center to scope them out.

The Toy Fair takes up the entirety of the Javits Center, or four expansive floors that can and will mystify attendees as they walk through them. Around every corner are all-new stuffed animals, board games, collectibles and figurines, and of course, huge structures made by toymakers. We were particularly struck by the K'Nex area, which housed a fully functioning ferris wheel, a huge rollercoaster with zipping cars, and other moving creations, as well as a life-sized Lego Unikitty creation that appeared to be guarding one of the escalators.

We only spent one day at this year's Toy Fair (the entire show spanned the long President's Day weekend), but we managed to check out new additions to Funko, Lego, and Hasbro's already impressive toy families. The latter two companies have embraced new technologies more than ever before, both featuring connected toys that appear regular to the unknowing eye. Hasbro's new Star Wars Lightsaber Academy features a typical glowing lightsaber, but a customizable module inside the handle lets you choose the Master you want to "train" you.

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Twitch: How Ninja was unseated as most-subscribed streamer

BBC Technology News - February 21, 2019 - 12:54pm
How Ninja has gone from a high of 200,000 Twitch subscribers to around 30,000 in only 10 months.

Metro Exodus reviewed

BBC Technology News - February 21, 2019 - 12:30pm
Marc Cieslak looks at Metro Exodus, the first-person shooter video game developed by 4A Games.

Logitech is Relaunching the MX518 Gaming Mouse

Slashdot - February 21, 2019 - 1:45am
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Montana legislator introduces bills to give his state its own science

Ars Technica - February 21, 2019 - 1:40am

Enlarge / The Montana State Capitol building, site of a rather unusual hearing. (credit:

It's no secret that some of our federal legislators don't have a firm grip on scientific evidence; it only takes watching a session of the House Science Committee, where one member suggested the climate-driven rise of the oceans might instead be caused by rocks falling into the ocean.

What's often overlooked is that state legislators are even worse (though it's not clear how much this is a product of there simply being more of them). Each year, they oversee a variety of attempts to introduce pseudoscience into the public schools of a number of states.

But it recently came out that a legislator in Montana was attempting to have the state officially renounce the findings of the scientific community. And, if the federal government decides to believe the scientists and do something about emissions, he wants the Treasure State to somehow sit those efforts out.

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Nestle and Epic pull YouTube ads over abuse claims

BBC Technology News - February 21, 2019 - 1:00am
Several big firms pull ads after they appear next to sexualised comments left on children's videos.

Comic for February 20, 2019

Dilbert - February 21, 2019 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

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