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Industry & Technology

Here’s how to make sure Hawaii’s missile warning fiasco isn’t repeated

Ars Technica - 1 hour 27 min ago

This is a guest post from Steve Bellovin, a professor in the Computer Science department and affiliate faculty at the law school at Columbia University. His research focuses on networks, security, and public policy. His opinions don't necessarily reflect the views of Ars Technica.

(credit: EUGENE TANNER/AFP/Getty Images)

By now, most people have heard about the erroneous incoming ICBM alert in Hawaii. There's been scrutiny of the how the emergency alert system works and of how international tensions and the flight times of missiles can lead to accidental nuclear war. I'd like to focus instead on how the systems design in Hawaii led to this problem—a design that I suspect is replicated in many other states.

One possible factor, of course, is hurried design:

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon's HQ2 competition gets merciless SNL mockery - CNET

cNET.com - News - 3 hours 27 min ago
Commentary: The bidding cities try to impress Jeff Bezos with "stars" such as Casey Affleck, Pitbull and TV cook Paula Deen. But Bezos only has eyes for Alexa.

For new form of male birth control, scientists turn to poison arrows

Ars Technica - 4 hours 27 min ago

Enlarge / Aim carefully. (credit: Getty | Brian Seed )

According to scientists, a poison arrow in the quiver may let loose a very sticky nether-region massacre.

The poison in question has spattered from the tips of African weapons for centuries, rubbing out wild beasts and halting the hearts of warriors. But, according to a study in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, a crotch shot of an ancient toxin called “ouabain” can also take out sperm. By tweaking the poison’s chemical backbone (or scaffold), it can selectively paralyze trouser troops and prevent them from storming eggs, the authors report.

The study’s authors, led by Shameem Sultana Syeda of the University of Minnesota, are optimistic that, with further aiming, the poison’s progeny could one day strike as a safe, reversible male contraceptive.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

A look inside the cashierless Amazon Go store - CNET

cNET.com - News - 5 hours 26 min ago
The new Amazon Go store in Seattle has one big figure: You don't actually take out your wallet to pay for anything.

What it's like inside Amazon's futuristic, automated store - CNET

cNET.com - News - 5 hours 27 min ago
The new Amazon Go store in Seattle features something different: No cashiers. CNET got an early look.

Tesla’s Model X: A lovely roadtripper with stiff daily driving competition

Ars Technica - 5 hours 28 min ago

Jordan Golson

It’s been quite an unexpected decade at Tesla. In 2007, if you said that the EV company would release an all-electric sedan that became one of the fastest accelerating vehicles of all time and sold tens of thousands of units with numerous hardware and software improvements along the way, you’d have been sent to the loony bin. And if you then predicted the company would release an all-electric SUV that would do the same and develop and release (sort of) an affordable, stylish, and long-range EV... well, maybe you’d have been mistaken for a member of the Musk family.

And yet, Elon Musk and Tesla have done all those things with the Model S, Model X, and Model 3. The company has gone further with things like the Gigafactory; home, commercial, and utility battery products; and previews of the new Tesla Roadster and Tesla Semi, too. To be sure, Musk has made a lot of ambitious promises and really missed a lot of deadlines over the years—but people who have bet against Tesla have lost a lot of money. (Tesla's stock price is up almost 1700 percent since its June 2010 IPO, fyi.)

Read 62 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Realizing you can’t have enough JK Simmons, new sci-fi spy series doubles him

Ars Technica - 5 hours 57 min ago

Enlarge / Counterpart is ready to give you all the JK Simmons you can handle. (credit: Starz)

Warning: The following preview outlines general details for the premise of Counterpart, a new Starz sci-fi series debuting this weekend.

The “actor as multiple roles” genre has been done in a seemingly infinite amount of ways as of late: clones, siblings, whatever Cloud Atlas was. With Starz' new series Counterpart debuting this Sunday (8pm ET), the premise gets a slight twist. Beloved institution JK Simmons (everything from those insurance ads to Justice League and Whiplash) portrays mild-mannered office man Howard and alternate-universe spy bad-ass Howard Prime.

Confused? Luckily, audiences get the gist of this situation early in the series premiere: 30 years ago during the Cold War, scientists were experimenting when something went wrong, opening a passage between two seemingly distinct worlds. “Go through this door,” bossman Peter tells Howard. “And you’re in a world identical to ours.”

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

PPG design head talks about the future of paint at Detroit Auto Show - Roadshow

cNET.com - News - 6 hours 27 min ago
Jane Harrington dropped by the Roadshow stage to talk about popular paint colors and future finishes with Tim Stevens, and the future looks good.

What if Samsung's Galaxy S9 gets these six features? - CNET

cNET.com - News - 7 hours 26 min ago
These innovations could find their way onto future phones.

Bonavita Metropolitan 8-Cup brewer review - CNET

cNET.com - Reviews - 7 hours 27 min ago
Bonavita's Metropolitan brews delicious drip coffee for just $100.

Logitech Circle 2 review - CNET

cNET.com - Reviews - 7 hours 27 min ago
Logitech's Circle 2 wired indoor/outdoor security camera has what it takes to keep watch in and around your home.

Apple's Beats is on Tom Brady's side - CNET

cNET.com - News - 19 hours 52 min ago
Commentary: In an ad to coincide with the AFC Championship game, Beats features the New England Patriots quarterback being deaf to criticism.

An MMO goes full circle, promises to bring subscriptions back this year

Ars Technica - 19 hours 57 min ago

Enlarge / Starting sometime this year, you'll be able to pay up front to fake as any of Rift Prime's heroes. (credit: Trion)

The online game-subscription model has generally waned in recent years, overtaken by the popularity (and apparent profitability) of the "free-to-play" (F2P) paradigm. One of the earliest MMORPGs to switch to a F2P model, the Trion-published Rift, announced a curious change coming to its payment model: a branch-off of one Rift server, and its entire gameplay and payment structure, to return to the flat subscription model later this year.

As reported by Kotaku, the game's developers announced plans for this new version, dubbed Rift Prime, in a Friday blog post. The plan actually began life months earlier when Trion asked fans about the idea of a "challenge server" product—meaning, a version of the game that was harder and segregated interested players into their own, higher-difficulty pool of players. Fan response to the pitch went a different direction.

The players' "strongest cues," the devs write, revolved around "how to make the business model more appealing."

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook shirks responsibility, says experts can't be trusted - CNET

cNET.com - News - January 20, 2018 - 10:06pm
Commentary: In asking Facebook's so-called community to decide which news sources are trustworthy, Mark Zuckerberg offers a truly disturbing rationale.

A randomly generated, totally novel enzyme rescues mutant bacteria

Ars Technica - January 20, 2018 - 9:30pm

Enlarge / Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli (E. coli), grown in culture and adhered to a cover slip. (credit: NIAID / Flickr)

Proteins are chains of amino acids, and each link in the chain can hold any one of the 20 amino acids that life relies on. If you were to pick each link at random, the number of possible proteins ends up reaching astronomical levels pretty fast.

So how does life ever end up evolving entirely new genes? One lab has been answering that question by making its own proteins from scratch.

Way back in 2016, the same lab figured out that new, random proteins can perform essential functions. And those new proteins were really new. They were generated by scientists who made amino acid sequences at random and then kept any that folded into the stable helical structures commonly found in proteins. These proteins were then screened to see if any could rescue E. coli that were missing a gene essential to survival.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Astell & Kern’s music player supercharges headphone sound - CNET

cNET.com - News - January 20, 2018 - 8:47pm
This portable music player that delivers a bigger bang for your tunes.

Watch a pilot battle incredible winds to secure a landing - CNET

cNET.com - News - January 20, 2018 - 8:30pm
Commentary: At Dusseldorf airport in Germany, windy landings are a regular occurrence. This one, however, looks like it was especially fun.

The Vista Spark amp sounds better than it looks - CNET

cNET.com - News - January 20, 2018 - 7:47pm
Incredibly enough the Vista Spark is an awesome sounding, yet affordable amplifier.

A flaming superhero car and dieting trucks at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Ars Technica - January 20, 2018 - 3:00pm

Jonathan Gitlin

DETROIT—Once upon a time, the North American International Auto Show was a mighty thing indeed. The American auto industry ruled the world, and this was their home event with all the bells and whistles that implies. But the world has changed. For one thing, people can and do use the Internet to work out what car they're going to buy. And with the LA Auto Show, CES, and NAIAS in such close proximity to each other on the calendar, there just aren't enough new things to fill all three events. The take-home impression from NAIAS this year—hot on the heels of a mediocre CES—was of a lackluster performance with little in the way to stop one in their tracks.

Ford opened the events at the Cobo Center with a trio of new models that we covered early in the week. Mercedes-Benz had a new G-Class that looks almost identical to the 1979 model, an example of which could be seen embedded in synthetic amber outside the front doors. By midweek this nearly-50 ton act of corporate whimsy was roped off, riven by cracks thanks to the sub-freezing temperatures. BMW gave the i8 hybrid a mid-life bump, and Audi showed its new A7 on this continent for the first time.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

2019 Chevrolet Silverado chief engineer talks turkey with Tim Stevens - Roadshow

cNET.com - News - January 20, 2018 - 3:00pm
Tim Herrick, chief engineer for the 2019 Silverado, stopped by the Roadshow stage during the 2018 Detroit Auto Show to go over all the changes that his team made to the new truck.

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