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Industry & Technology

SpaceX to cap transitional year with launch, poised for big things in 2020

Ars Technica - 39 min 14 sec ago

Enlarge / The Falcon 9 rocket launching Monday has flown twice previously, including this July launch to the International Space Station. (credit: SpaceX)

By some measures, SpaceX has had a relatively sedate 2019. After all, the company has launched a mere dozen rockets so far this year, in comparison to a record-setting 2018, with 22 overall missions. It should add one more flight to that tally on Monday, with the launch of a large, 6.8-ton communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (see details below).

However, the lower launch cadence masks a year in which SpaceX has made considerable technical progress toward some of its biggest goals—an optimized Falcon 9, satellite Internet, and total launch reusability.

Falcon 9

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has long talked about rapid, reusable launch, and in 2019 he continued to make strides toward this vision. The Falcon 9 may have flown less in 2019 due to its lightened manifest, but individual boosters flew more.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Pro-Indian 'fake websites targeted decision makers in Europe'

BBC Technology News - 52 min 36 sec ago
Fake sites and groups lobbying for India influenced decision makers in Europe, researchers say.

The 2020 Nissan Sentra has sharp sedan looks for a sub-$20,000 sticker

Ars Technica - 54 min 17 sec ago

Depending on what you read, you might think it's impossible for car shoppers to buy anything other than crossovers. Whether you regard them as hatchbacks with Cuban heels or mini-SUVs, there's no denying that Americans have embraced this latest automotive form factor with gusto. "Why can't we still have sedans," the Internet asks. "And make them cheap while you're at it," it demands. Well Internet, Nissan has been listening—meet its latest Sentra sedan, which goes on sale in late January starting at just $19,090.

America might be giving up on the sedan, but it's a body style that has been kind to Nissan over the years—it has sold more than six million Sentras since the nameplate first appeared 38 years ago. The company says that compact sedans are still the third-largest market segment here in the US, hence spending the money to develop what is now the eighth-generation Sentra, now on an all-new platform.

Visually, the new Sentra is very much of a piece with Nissan's other sedans. Between the chrome V-motion grille at the front and the floating C pillar at the back, knowing which Nissan sedan you're looking at is very much a matter of scale. To be specific, this one is 182.7 inches (4,641mm) long, 71.5 inches (1,816mm) wide, 57 inches (1,448mm) tall, with a 106.8-inch (2,713mm) wheelbase. Exact weight depends on the trim—the Sentra SV is lightest at 3,044lbs (1,381kg); the SR is the heaviest at 3,084lbs (1,399kg). Whether you find the shape attractive will be a matter of personal taste; all I can say is that it works for me.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Police swoop on suspected darknet fake banknote buyers

BBC Technology News - 58 min 1 sec ago
Homes are raided across seven countries as police target buyers of notes sold via the darknet.

I created my own deepfake—it took two weeks and cost $552

Ars Technica - 1 hour 3 min ago

Deepfake technology uses deep neural networks to convincingly replace one face with another in a video. The technology has obvious potential for abuse and is becoming ever more widely accessible. Many good articles have been written about the important social and political implications of this trend.

This isn't one of those articles. Instead, in classic Ars Technica fashion, I'm going to take a close look at the technology itself: how does deepfake software work? How hard is it to use—and how good are the results?

I thought the best way to answer these questions would be to create a deepfake of my own. My Ars overlords gave me a few days to play around with deepfake software and a $1,000 cloud computing budget. A couple of weeks later, I have my result, which you can see above. I started with a video of Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress and replaced his face with that of Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Total spent: $552.

Read 63 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Volvo XC40 is Swedish style in a smaller, more affordable package

Ars Technica - 2 hours 54 min ago

In October, we got our first look at one of the cars I'm really excited to drive next year. It's Volvo's first long-range battery EV and an important vehicle for an automaker that has been an early proponent of rapid electrification. The Swedish automaker has been firing on all cylinders (and maybe soon energizing all electromagnets?) in the years since its acquisition by China's Geely in 2010; it's notable that the oldest vehicle in its line-up is the XC90, which only debuted five years ago. The electric Volvo XC40 won't go into production until 2020, but in the meantime we have driven the gasoline-powered variant, the Volvo XC40 T5, and it's really rather good.

The XC40 is the first Volvo to use the company's Compact Modular Architecture, a toolkit for building smaller cars and crossovers that is also going to be used by Polestar, Lynk & Co, and also parent company Geely. So it's unlike the other Volvos (and yes, the Polestar plug-in) we've driven until now. CMA gives a lot of flexibility when designing a car; about the only fixed dimension is the one between the front axle and the driver's pedals. It was also designed to work with three- or four-cylinder engines, front- or all-wheel drive, or with a plug-in hybrid EV powertrain (as well as next year's BEV). I'm going to assume it's flexible enough to make smaller sedans, hatchbacks, and wagons, too, but so far across the four aforementioned brands we've only seen crossovers.

Here in the US, we only get two options right now: the 187hp (140kW), 221lb-ft (300Nm) FWD T4, which starts at $34,345, or the 248hp (185kW), 258lb-ft (350Nm) AWD T5, which starts at $36,345. In both cases, the internal combustion engine is a turbocharged version of Volvo's 2.0L gasoline direct-injection four-cylinder unit, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox is the sole transmission option.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

PewDiePie to take break from YouTube as 'feeling very tired'

BBC Technology News - 11 hours 12 min ago
The Swedish star, 29, has been involved in accusations of racism and anti-Semitism in recent years.

A 43,900-year-old cave painting is the oldest story ever recorded

Ars Technica - December 15, 2019 - 4:00pm

At this very moment, you're a participant in one of the things that makes us human: the telling and consumption of stories. It's impossible to say when our species began telling each other stories—or when we first evolved the ability to use language to communicate not only simple, practical concepts but to share vivid accounts of events real or imagined. But by 43,900 years ago, people on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi had started painting some of their stories in images on cave walls.

A newly discovered painting in a remote cave depicts a hunting scene, and it's the oldest story that has been recorded. And if Griffith University archaeologist Maxime Aubert and his colleagues are right, it could also be the first record of spiritual belief—and our first insight into what the makers of cave art were thinking.

A 44,000-year-old hunting story

Across a 4.5 meter (14.8 foot) section of rock wall, 3 meters (9.8 feet) above the floor of a hard-to-reach upper chamber of a site called Liang Bulu'Sipong 4, wild pigs and dwarf buffalo called anoa face off against a group of strangely tiny hunters in monochrome dark red. A dark red hand stencil adorns the left end of the mural, almost like an ancient artist's signature. Through an opening in the northeast wall of the cave, sunlight spills in to illuminate the scene.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

HP Elite Dragonfly review: Luxurious, professional, expensive

Ars Technica - December 15, 2019 - 3:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

There are more ultra-mobile professionals now than ever before, which is why OEMs are developing increasingly thin-and-light laptops that will appeal to those users. No one wants to add heft to their bag, regardless of whether they're going off on a 10-hour flight or a 10-minute commute to work, thus increasing the appeal of thin-and-light laptops. But the most mobile among us will only go as thin and light as our performance needs allow us to—if a laptop isn't powerful or efficient enough to help you get work done, its svelte characteristics won't make up for that.

Enter the HP Elite Dragonfly two-in-one laptop, which is HP's answer to this problem. It's an ultra-slim laptop with a MIL-spec-tested design that weighs just 2.18 pounds, and it has the power and security features of one of HP's Elite series laptops. HP is betting on the idea that professionals will choose the thinnest and lightest laptop possible that doesn't compromise the performance or battery life they need to get things done regardless of their location—and that they'll pay top dollar to get it. We spent a few days with the Elite Dragonfly convertible to see how well-designed it actually is and to see if taking thin and light to the extreme hinders any necessities.

Look and feel Specs at a glance: HP Elite Dragonfly two-in-one laptop As reviewed Lowest Best Screen 13.3-inch FHD (1920×1080) touchscreen 13.3-inch FHD (1920×1080) touchscreen 13.3-inch 4K (3840×2160) touchscreen OS Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home Windows Pro 64 CPU Core i7-8665U Intel Core i5-8265U Core i7-8665U w/ vPro RAM 16GB 8GB 16GB HDD 512GB PCIe SSD + 32GB Optane Memory 256GB PCIe SSD 512GB PCIe SSD + 32GB Optane Memory GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620 Networking Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 5 (2×2), Bluetooth 4.2 Ports 2 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB-A, 1 x HDMI, 1 x nano SIM, 1 x lock slot, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack Size 11.98×7.78×0.63 inches (304×198×16mm) Weight 2.5 pounds (40 ounces) 2.18 pounds (34.0 ounces) 2.5 pounds (40 ounces) Battery 56.2Wh battery 38Wh battery 56.2Wh battery Warranty 1 year Extras Fingerprint reader, IR camera, optional vPro, optional LTE, TPM 2.0, absolute persistence module, power-on authentication, HP DriveLock and Automatic DriveLock, HP Sure Click, HP Secure Erase, HP Sure Start, HP Sure Run, HP Sure Recovery, HP Sure Sense, HP BIOSphere Price $2,169 $1,549 (available at this price point soon) $2,369 HP Elite Dragonfly laptop Starting at $1,629 from HP (Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.) Design and durability

Being part of the Elite family, the Elite Dragonfly laptop had to adhere to certain durability and performance standards that users are accustomed to from that line. We'll get to the performance chops in a bit, but from a design perspective, the Elite Dragonfly surprised me.

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

This alleged Bitcoin scam looked a lot like a pyramid scheme

Ars Technica - December 15, 2019 - 1:15pm

Enlarge (credit: Chesnot / Getty Images)

The world of cryptocurrency has no shortage of imaginary investment products. Fake coins. Fake blockchain services. Fake cryptocurrency exchanges. Now five men behind a company called BitClub Network are accused of a $722 million scam that allegedly preyed on victims who thought they were investing in a pool of bitcoin mining equipment.

Federal prosecutors call the case a “high-tech” plot in the “complex world of cryptocurrency.” But it has all the hallmarks of a classic pyramid scheme, albeit with a crypto-centric conceit. Investors were invited to send BitClub Network cash, which would allow the company to buy mining equipment—machines that produce bitcoin through a process called hashing. When those machines were turned on, all would (in theory) enjoy the spoils. The company also allegedly gave rewards to existing investors in exchange for recruiting others to join. According to the complaint, the scheme began in April 2014 and continued until earlier this month.

Matthew Brent Goettsche, Jobadiah Sinclair Weeks, and Silviu Catalin Balaci are accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to offer and sell unregistered securities. A fourth defendant, Joseph Frank Abel, faces only the latter charge. Another unnamed defendant remains at large. Balaci’s name was redacted from one public version of the indictment, but appeared on another.

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Iran 'foils second cyber-attack in a week'

BBC Technology News - December 15, 2019 - 10:07am
The hack targeted government computer systems, the country's telecommunications minister says.

Dare to Dream: The organisation getting women into aviation

BBC Technology News - December 15, 2019 - 1:02am
Captain Phatsima founded Dare to Dream, an organisation trying to get women into aviation.

The prize app designed to help deaf children in school

BBC Technology News - December 14, 2019 - 5:33pm
The winning app is being developed by Amazon Web Services and will be released for use in schools.

Ridiculous in the right way: Unmatched: Battle of Legends

Ars Technica - December 14, 2019 - 4:00pm


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

The full name of this game is Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume One. That last bit is important because there is more Unmatched coming. This first set allows us to answer important questions like: who would win in a fight between King Arthur and Sinbad? What if Alice ventured out of Wonderland to carve up Medusa? The matchups in this absurdist fight club are bonkers, and we’re only getting started.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Restoration Games is the noteworthy publisher that has brought us new editions of classic games like Fireball Island and Stop Thief! Those designs were given a few nips and tucks, a couple of injections of Botox, and a new wardrobe. They’re fresh, but they’re also grounded in the past, and they know how to put nostalgia to good use.

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A sobering message about the future at AI’s biggest party

Ars Technica - December 14, 2019 - 3:00pm

Enlarge (credit: EFF)

More than 13,000 artificial intelligence mavens flocked to Vancouver this week for the world’s leading academic AI conference, NeurIPS. The venue included a maze of colorful corporate booths aiming to lure recruits for projects like software that plays doctor. Google handed out free luggage scales and socks depicting the colorful bikes employees ride on its campus while IBM offered hats emblazoned with “I ❤️A

Ars Technica’s ultimate board game gift guide, 2019 edition

Ars Technica - December 14, 2019 - 2:00pm


It’s that time of year again—time to buy more board games than you possibly have time to play.

To aid you in your quest, we’ve once again updated our massive board game buyer’s guide for the year by adding new entries, pruning some old ones, and bringing things in line with our current thoughts. This isn’t necessarily a list of our favorite games of all time; it’s just a big list of games we’re recommending in 2019. The list is divided into sections that cater to different audiences, and we think there’s something here for just about everyone.

Whether you’re looking to pick up your next cardboard obsession or need a gift idea for your weird cousin who’s always going on about “efficient resource trade routes,” you’re in the right place.

Read 176 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Switching broadband provider 'could save £120'

BBC Technology News - December 14, 2019 - 1:21pm
More than three-quarters of consumers who haggled were offered a better deal, according to Which?

General election 2019: Viral videos about the NHS dominate the digital campaign

BBC Technology News - December 14, 2019 - 2:16am
Videos about the NHS received the highest views and shares on social media platforms.

Boy, 5, given prosthetic arm that lets him hug brother

BBC Technology News - December 14, 2019 - 1:00am
Five-year-old Jacob Scrimshaw was born eight weeks early with most of his left arm missing.

Quadriga: Lawyers for users of bankrupt crypto firm seek exhumation of founder

BBC Technology News - December 13, 2019 - 11:54pm
Lawyers for Quadriga users say there are "questionable circumstances" behind Gerald Cotten's death.

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