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The Samsung Galaxy S9 hits stores today

Ars Technica - March 16, 2018 - 6:15pm

Enlarge / Here's the whole camera assembly. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Samsung's perfectly adequate flagship, the Galaxy S9, is out in stores today. There are two versions: the Galaxy S9, with a single rear camera and a smaller screen for $719.99, and the Galaxy S9+, which adds a second rear camera and a bigger screen for $839.99.

Samsung is showing off its biggest strength with the S9 launch, working at a scale that many other Android device makers can't touch. The S9 is rolling out simultaneously to 70 countries today, with that number growing to 110 by the end of the month. We recently harped on Google for being terrible at this sort of global thing with the Pixel line, which is available in a whopping six to eight countries.

The Galaxy S9 mostly follows the Galaxy S8 formula from last year but adds two more gigabytes of RAM (for a total of 6GB), stereo speakers, always-on "OK Google" support, and a killer new camera setup with a variable aperture. In the US and China, the phones get the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, while in the rest of the world, the phones use Samsung's equally new Exynos 9810 Octa.

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Students and teachers are the focus of Apple’s surprise March 27 event

Ars Technica - March 16, 2018 - 6:05pm

Enlarge / The 10.5-inch iPad Pro. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

On the heels of opening up registration for its annual WWDC event, Apple will hold an education-focused event on March 27 that will highlight "creative new ideas for teachers and students," multiple reports indicate.

Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago will host the event at 10am CDT on March 27. Apple's last education event took place all the way back in 2012 in New York City. In typical Apple fashion, the event's invitation doesn't offer any details about the impending announcements.

Apple has hosted hardware events during springtime before, and there are a number of rumored devices that could come out at this event. Gossip says Apple might be about to reveal a new 9.7-inch iPad for a special education price of $259. New iPads have been rumored for later this year as well, but it's unlikely that an education-focused iPad would include the new and expensive FaceID camera. A new iPad with Apple's high-end camera, which enables FaceID, Animoji, and ARKit features, may debut later this year.

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Apple HomePod vs. two Sonos Ones: Sound quality face-off - CNET - News - March 16, 2018 - 6:02pm
You can buy two Sonos One smart speakers for a bit more than the price of a single Apple HomePod. So which sounds better?

Hacker Adrian Lamo dies at 37

ZDnet Blogs - March 16, 2018 - 5:59pm
The coroner confirmed Lamo's death, but the circumstances of his passing are not yet known.
Categories: Opinion

Hacker Adrian Lamo dies at 37

ZDnet News - March 16, 2018 - 5:59pm
The coroner confirmed Lamo's death, but the circumstances of his passing are not yet known.

Star Wars: Battlefront II’s new update axes “pay-to-win” upgrades

Ars Technica - March 16, 2018 - 5:55pm

Enlarge / Storm troopin' across the universe...

Nearly four months after shutting down micro transactions over widespread fan outrage, EA has announced a new "Progression Update" for Star Wars Battlefront II that will bring real-money purchases back to the game on March 21—but only for cosmetic items.

The game's randomized loot crates will now be earned through daily logins, completion of in-game Milestones, and timed challenges, rather than real-money purchases, the publisher announced this morning in a blog post. Those randomized crates will also no longer include character-boosting Star Cards, which will instead be earned through experience points applied to classes, hero characters, and ships. The Star Card system will now progress linearly as well, at a rate of one Star Card unlock or upgrade per experience level.

Cosmetic "appearances," on the other hand, can be purchased with credits earned in-game or with crystals bought with real money. "If you’ve ever dreamed of being a part of the Resistance as a Rodian, your chance is right around the corner," the blog post reads. That change comes after EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said in November that concerns over brand integrity initially prevented the game from including potential cosmetics like a pink Darth Vader costume.

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Voice Chat App Zello Turned a Blind Eye to Jihadis for Years

Wired - March 16, 2018 - 5:53pm
Despite warnings and flagged accounts, Zello left accounts with ISIS flag avatars and jihadist descriptions live on its service.

VW to bring new compact SUV to US and China - Roadshow - News - March 16, 2018 - 5:42pm
Europe gets the T-Roc, while other markets will make do with the new "Volks-SUV," as it's referred to internally.

Was the Connaught Type-D the best car never built?

Ars Technica - March 16, 2018 - 5:40pm

For reasons known only to my subconscious, I woke up this morning thinking about a car you've almost certainly never heard of: the Connaught Type-D. It was an intriguing little thing—light years ahead of its time and wildly ambitious for a tiny British startup that had taken its name from a maker of racing cars that went bust in 1957. But even though the Connaught never made it to production, it still deserves to be remembered.

Cast your mind back to 2004. Michael Schumacher was still on top of his game, racing for Ferrari. Jeremy Clarkson was still on Top Gear and still funny. Tesla barely existed, the autonomous car was a far-off dream, and I was still just reading about cars as a scientist rather than writing about them for my favorite online publication. Flicking through the November issue of Car, a short article about a reborn Connaught caught my eye—and my imagination.

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The Register - March 16, 2018 - 5:40pm
CCTV commish welcomes amendment 3 years after first suggested

UK government will be forced to debate a code of practice for cops' use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems after Labour MPs tabled an amendment to the Data Protection Bill.…

New Instagram sensation: Girls chewing ice fast on video - CNET - News - March 16, 2018 - 5:39pm
Videos of female vloggers chomping on colorful ice are taking Instagram by (ice) storm. Is this a new internet trend or just a bit of ASMR?

Ram recalls 270,000 trucks for fuel tank separation - Roadshow - News - March 16, 2018 - 5:28pm
It shouldn't fall off completely, but that doesn't make this any less concerning.

Part of the Great Barrier Reef exposed to more CO₂; results are grim

Ars Technica - March 16, 2018 - 5:25pm

Enlarge / Water carrying a dye and added CO₂ is bubbled over the Great Barrier Reef. (credit: Aaron Takeo Ninokawa )

Coral reefs are not just pretty and cool—beyond tourism dollars and once-in-a-lifetime diving experiences, they provide real utility to human society. They provide homes to about a quarter of the world’s fish, which many people rely on as a food source. They can act as a barrier to rising sea levels, and they can protect coastlines from eroding.

But thanks to all the carbon we’ve pumped into the air, coral reefs are disappearing. Fast. Part of that is heat stress, but CO2 can also influence coral's ability to form reefs in the first place. A new experiment gives us our first look at how much this affects a complete reef ecosystem.

When oceans take up atmospheric carbon dioxide, they acidify. This in turn depresses the concentration of carbonate ions in the water. When there is a dearth of carbonate ions in seawater, coral reefs, made of carbonates, dissolve to restore the balance. So it stands to reason that increasing carbon dioxide in the water would spell trouble for the corals.

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Amazon Alexa's Brief Mode stops the voice assistant from saying, 'OK' - CNET - News - March 16, 2018 - 5:24pm
When you give Alexa a command, she replies with a simple "OK." Now, you can opt out of that response.

Uber could supply Toyota with self-driving systems, report claims - Roadshow - News - March 16, 2018 - 5:14pm
It's unclear how this would fit together with Toyota Research Institute's own AV work.

Crooks opt for Monero as crypto of choice to launder ill-gotten gains

The Register - March 16, 2018 - 5:09pm
Study examines the cutting edge of cybercrime

Crooks are increasingly turning to Monero over Bitcoin, according to a new study on the economics of cybercrime.…

Pfizer CEO gets 61% pay raise—to $27.9 million—as drug prices continue to climb

Ars Technica - March 16, 2018 - 4:45pm

Enlarge / Ian Read, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer Inc. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

As drug giant Pfizer Inc. hiked the price of dozens of drugs in 2017, it also jacked up the compensation of CEO Ian Read by 61 percent, putting his total compensation at $27.9 million, according to financial filings reported by Bloomberg.

Pfizer’s board reportedly approved the compensation boost because they saw it as a “compelling incentive” to keep Read from retiring. He turns 65 in May. As part of the deal, Read has to stay on through at least next March and is barred from working with a competitor for a minimum of two years after that.

According to Bloomberg, Read’s compensation included in part a salary of $1.96 million, a $2.6 million bonus, $13.1 million in equity awards linked to financial goals and stock price, as well as an $8 million special equity award that will vest if the company’s average stock return goes above 25 percent for 30 consecutive trading days before the end of 2022.

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