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Industry & Technology

'Berlin rocks' says Elon Musk as he chooses European factory

BBC Technology News - 49 min 22 sec ago
Elon Musk tells AutoExpress Brexit made the UK "too risky" for his first major European factory.

Guidemaster: Ars picks its favorite tech gifts you can buy for under $50

Ars Technica - 2 hours 11 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Finding a gift for your most tech-savvy friends and family can be tough, especially with electronics getting more expensive as the years go by. While it may seem like the only electronics worth getting are those that exist outside of your budget, that's not actually the case. Plenty of tech gifts are available at affordable prices—the struggle is sorting through the junk to find the devices worth shelling out any amount of money for.

This is where we at Ars come in: we spend all year testing electronics, with prices spanning everything from "luxury" to "dirt-cheap." So recently, we poured through our notes to find some of the best tech gifts you can buy that are under $50. All of the devices listed below have been tested and verified for excellence or for personal use on a regular basis. Instead of shooting in the dark or overspending when it comes to tech gifts this year, consider the following devices that we know will make any recipient happy.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Read 30 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Living with range anxiety: Two weeks with the Jaguar I-Pace

Ars Technica - 2 hours 26 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Marlowe Bangeman)

The Jaguar I-Pace is a brilliant car. The first battery electric vehicle from Jaguar-Land Rover, the I-Pace starts at about $70,000 and goes up from there.

My colleague, Ars Automotive Editor Jonathan Gitlin, drove the I-Pace when it launched and came away raving about it—and for good reason. Not only did it win the World Green Car award, but it also won World Car of the Year.

Jonathan covered the I-Pace in great detail, so I won't spend much time talking about the driving experience. Suffice it to say, the I-Pace is blast to drive. It accelerates briskly, it's incredibly comfortable, sight lines are good, handling is impeccable, it's roomy for its size, it has some modest off-road skills, and Jaguar-Land Rover's infotainment system, Touch Duo Pro, is well-thought-out, even if slightly laggy at times. Beyond that, JLR fixed one of the major complaints Jonathan had about the I-Pace as it entered production: the regenerative-braking settings are no longer buried under layers of menus.

Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

A “mouse-deer,” seen once in the last century, has now been caught on film

Ars Technica - 2 hours 56 min ago

Enlarge / Camera-trap photo of silver-backed chevrotain (Tragulus versicolor). (credit: SIE/GWC/Leibniz-IZW/NCNP)

Every time field biologist An Nguyen finds a mammal in the wild that he's never seen before, he adds a line to the tally count tattoo on his left wrist.

The silver-backed chevrotain, a tiny "mouse-deer" native to Vietnam, is a sighting significant for more than just Nguyen's personal tally. There has been only one confirmed record of the elusive mammal since 1910—a specimen obtained from a hunter in 1990—until Nguyen and his team set camera traps that recorded 280 sightings within nine months.

The news, reported this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution, is more than just confirmation that the silver-backed chevrotain is not yet extinct. It means that researchers can start studying it more comprehensively, trying to get a sense of how many are left and what kinds of protections it needs. And protecting the chevrotain also means protecting the less cute, but equally essential, species that share its habitat.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Kids' social media app ad banned on health grounds

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 16 min ago
The advertisement for PopJam is banned for encouraging children to gain followers and likes.

Project Nightingale: Google probed over US patient data deal

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 24 min ago
Regulator says it will examine the details of Google's deal with a major healthcare firm in the US.

EPA still moving to limit science used to support regulations

Ars Technica - 13 hours 40 min ago

Enlarge / Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler. (credit: Win McNamee / Getty)

Former Texas Congressman Lamar Smith may have retired in January, but his ideas still stalk the halls of the US Environmental Protection Agency. The New York Times reported Monday that the latest incarnation of Smith's quest to change the science the EPA can use for its rule making is moving forward.

Smith had unsuccessfully pushed a bill called the "Secret Science Reform Act," which would have required the EPA to consider only those studies with data that is "publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results." He claimed that opponents of regulations were often unable to audit the science underlying the regulations—although those opponents could, of course, have done their own science.

Limiting science

The scientific community noted that this requirement would have the effect of excluding quite a lot of relevant science published in peer-reviewed journals. In particular, research on the public health impacts of pollutants is only possible through the use of confidential health data. There are systems in place to give researchers controlled access to that data, but releasing it to the public is simply not an option, and doing so very well might violate other federal rules.

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Adobe readies for the age of smart glasses and deepfakes

BBC Technology News - 13 hours 51 min ago
Richard Taylor looks at what is new at the LA Adobe Max Creative Conference for BBC Click.

The world finally has an approved vaccine against Ebola

Ars Technica - 14 hours 28 min ago

Enlarge / A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019, in Goma. (credit: Getty | PAMELA TULIZO )

Regulators in Europe have granted the world's first approval of a vaccine against Ebola—and health officials are wasting no time in rolling it out.

The European Commission announced at the start of the week that it had granted a landmark marketing authorization of Merck's Ebola vaccine Ervebo. The vaccine has been in the works since the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak. It is now being used in the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo based on a "compassionate use" protocol.

The current outbreak in the DRC has killed nearly 2,200 since August 2018, causing nearly 3,300 cases. The outbreak is the second-largest recorded, surpassed only by the 2014 West African outbreak that caused more than 11,000 deaths and 28,000 cases.

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US violated Constitution by searching phones for no good reason, judge rules

Ars Technica - 15 hours 31 min ago

Enlarge / US Customs and Border Protection agents participate in a training exercise at a vehicle entry point along the border with Mexico on November 5, 2018, in Hidalgo, Texas. (credit: Getty Images | Andrew Cullen)

The United States government violated the Fourth Amendment with its suspicionless searches of international travelers' phones and laptops, a federal court ruled today.

The ruling came in a case filed "on behalf of 11 travelers whose smartphones and laptops were searched without individualized suspicion at US ports of entry," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said today. The ACLU teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to fight the government on behalf of plaintiffs including 10 US citizens and one lawful permanent resident.

The order from a US District Court in Massachusetts limits what searches can be made by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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How does Plume get all these ISP partnerships? Open source software

Ars Technica - November 12, 2019 - 11:23pm

Yesterday, Charter Communications*—the second-largest ISP in the United States—announced its adoption of the OpenSync software platform for Spectrum's advanced in-home Wi-Fi. This raises a few questions, first of which is "what's OpenSync?"

The short answer is "Plume," which in turn means that Plume now has partnerships with the first- and second-largest ISPs in the United States, as well as the first- and second-largest in Canada—and also with the National Cable Television Collective (NCTC), a membership organization comprising several hundred independent US cable companies.

Earlier this month, we covered the announcement of a Plume partnership with J:COM, Japan's largest ISP. In that coverage, we referenced tighter integration into ISPs' existing infrastructure than better-known mesh alternatives such as Eero, Google (now Nest) Wi-Fi, or Orbi can provide. OpenSync is where that tighter integration comes from.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tesla announces its next car factory will be near Berlin

Ars Technica - November 12, 2019 - 10:29pm

Enlarge / Elon Musk. (credit: DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

Tesla's next "Gigafactory" will be in the Berlin area, Elon Musk announced at an event in Germany on Tuesday evening. Techcrunch's Kirsten Korosec reports that Musk made the comments during an on-stage conversation with Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess at the Golden Steering Wheel awards show.

The original Gigafactory was Tesla's massive battery factory in Nevada. Musk dubbed it a "Gigafactory" because it was designed to produce batteries with gigawatt-hours of storage capacity. Batteries are made in Nevada and then shipped to Tesla's car factory in Fremont, California, for final assembly.

When Tesla built a car manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China, the company dubbed that "Gigafactory 3." (Tesla's beleaguered solar panel factory in Buffalo, NY, is Gigafactory 2.) Tesla took a more integrated approach in China, building batteries and cars in the same facility.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon gains unfair edge by making sellers use its shipping, complaint says

Ars Technica - November 12, 2019 - 10:15pm

Enlarge / The Amazon logo at the entrance of a logistics center in France, July 2019. (credit: Denis Charlet | AFP | Getty )

Amazon has come quite a way from when it was just an online bookstore, but it still operates a booming retail business among all its other ventures. A majority of the retail products sold on Amazon aren't actually sold by Amazon at all but rather by its sprawling network of third-party "marketplace" vendors. The company's relationships with those vendors, foreign and domestic, are at the center of a web of investigations and criticism.

Third-party retailers accounted for about 58% of Amazon's retail activity in 2018, company CEO Jeff Bezos said earlier this year, and they sold a cumulative $160 billion worth of goods. But those goods are sold in a "flea market" environment with minimal quality control, leading to ubiquitous counterfeits or recalled goods available for sale from fly-by-night merchants. If something goes wrong with your sale, getting recourse from these sellers is impossible.

Risky imports

All those kinda shady Amazon listings from companies in China you never heard of? They're not a bug, The Wall Street Journal reports today. They're a feature, present by design.

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Google: You can trust us with the medical data you didn’t know we already had

Ars Technica - November 12, 2019 - 9:46pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Leon Neal)

Google now has access to detailed medical records on tens of millions of Americans, but the company promises it won't mix that medical data with any of the other data Google collects on consumers who use its services.

Google provided this statement yesterday shortly after The Wall Street Journal reported that Google is partnering with Ascension, the country's second-largest health care system, "on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states."

"To be clear: under this arrangement, Ascension's data cannot be used for any other purpose than for providing these services we're offering under the agreement, and patient data cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data," Google said in a blog post. That would mean Google won't use the medical data to target advertisements at users of Google services.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dealmaster: Get a year of Disney+ for free if you’re a Verizon Wireless user

Ars Technica - November 12, 2019 - 9:05pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back once again with a new round of deals and price drops. Today's list is headlined by a quick PSA for those who subscribe to a Verizon unlimited data plan or plan to subscribe to a Fios home Internet plan: if you're at all interested the new Disney+ streaming service, you can get a 12-month subscription at no extra cost. As a refresher, Disney's Netflix competitor launched on Tuesday and normally costs $7 a month or $70 a year.

Now, as is often the case with mobile carrier promos, there's some fine print to sort through. To get the free year of service, you need to subscribe to one of the carrier's Verizon Unlimited, Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, Above Unlimited, Get More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, Pay More Unlimited, or Start Unlimited plans. (If you're marveling at the fact that Verizon has had this many unlimited plans, many of which aren't actually unlimited, you're not alone.) Both new and existing subscribers are eligible; Verizon has options on its promo page for existing subscribers who wish to switch to an unlimited plan and those who wish to move over from another carrier.

The offer is also available to Verizon Fios home Internet users and the handful of people who can access its 5G Home plan, but only if you're a new subscriber, not if you have currently pay for one of those services. For Fios users, you'll need a standalone Internet plan of at least 50/50 Mbps service, a two-year "Triple Play" bundle, or a 2-year Internet + TV "Double Play" bundle. Either way, all of this has you signing up for Disney+ through Verizon, not Disney.

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General election 2019: Labour Party hit by second cyber-attack

BBC Technology News - November 12, 2019 - 6:15pm
The party says the first DDoS attack against it failed and it has "ongoing security processes in place".

High demand causes login problems on Disney+ launch day

Ars Technica - November 12, 2019 - 6:01pm


Disney's new streaming service is straining under the load as users rush to log in to the highly anticipated service on its US launch day. Frustrated users took to social media to complain about seeing "unable to connect" error screens instead of the Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar movies they were hoping for.

"The consumer demand for Disney+ has exceeded our high expectations," Disney tweeted on Tuesday morning. "We are working to quickly resolve the current user issue."

Disney is aiming to reshape the paid video streaming landscape with its Disney+ offering. Until now, a lot of online streaming has been done on independent services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

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Two years later, Apple’s AR/VR headset plans reportedly pushed back two years

Ars Technica - November 12, 2019 - 5:42pm

Enlarge / An image from a patent Apple filed back in 2008 shows exactly what Apple's VR/AR headset will look like, 100%, with no changes if/when it launches over 15 years later.

Right around this date in 2017, Bloomberg reported that Apple was working on a pair of augmented reality glasses for a planned 2020 launch. Now that it's late 2019, The Information is reporting (and Bloomberg is largely confirming) that Apple is now planning to launch a combined VR/AR headset in 2022, following up with a lightweight pair of AR glasses in 2023.

Apple's perpetually three-or-more-years-away headset plans have "a focus on gaming, watching video and virtual meetings," Bloomberg reports, and now include a new 3D sensor that builds off of Apple's existing FaceID sensor. A 1,000-person team inside the company—reportedly led by former Dolby Labs engineer Mike Rockwell and involving former Virginia Tech professor Doug Bowman—is still reportedly working on a completely new operating system for the headset dubbed rOS (reality operating system).

The market for VR and AR headsets looks very different today than it did back in 2016, when reports first started leaking out regarding Apple's plans in the space. Back then, expensive PC-tethered VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive were launching to a lot of fanfare but generally disappointing sales. Today, improvements in technology have moved the focus to cheaper "all-in-one" untethered headsets like the $400 Oculus Quest, which has reportedly sold a decent-but-uninspiring 400,000 units since its launch in May (a relatively poor showing when compared to other recent portable gaming-focused hardware).

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Disney+ hit by technical glitches on launch day

BBC Technology News - November 12, 2019 - 4:40pm
Disney's new streaming service is reported to be down by many users as its global launch unfolds.

Tinder seeks to tackle trans harassment

BBC Technology News - November 12, 2019 - 4:35pm
The app is making changes so transgender users experience less harassment as they use the program.

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