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We’ve got our first peek at S4 of The Expanse and an airdate: December 13

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 7:08pm

It's back! The long-awaited fourth season of The Expanse returns on its new network, Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime has released the first teaser for the upcoming fourth season of the beloved science fiction series, The Expanse.

The Expanse is based on a series of novels by James S.A. Corey (the pen name for writing team Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), exploring interplanetary tensions that are breaking out all over a solar system long since colonized by humans—mostly between Earthers, Martians, and "Belters." Part mystery, part political thriller, part classic space opera, The Expanse has earned almost nothing but praise from critics and its devoted fans alike, not just for its gripping storytelling, but also its excellent use of accurate physics. (Wired's Rhett Allain has explored the physics of a spinning spacecraft and an accelerating spacecraft, among other topics.) The third season earned a rare 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes (seasons one and two earned 76% and 96%, respectively).

So it was something of a shock when SyFy cancelled the series after just three seasons, citing "restrictive distribution arrangements," specifically, just first-run linear rights in the US. Per Deadline Hollywood, "That puts an extraordinary amount of emphasis on live, linear viewing, which is inherently challenging for sci-fi/genre series that tend to draw the lion’s share of their audiences from digital/streaming."

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2019’s “Board Game of the Year” goes to Just One

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 6:05pm

Enlarge / The 2019 Spiel des Jahres nominees. (credit: Spiel des Jahres)

Of the many “board game of the year” awards handed out each year, the most prestigious is unquestionably the "Spiel des Jahres" prize. Judged by a panel of German critics, the long-running award earns the winner a boost in profile, increased sales, and the hushed awe of the entire board game community.

This year, the main award, which focuses on lighter, family-friendly fare, went to the party game Just One. Just One is a cooperative word-guessing party game designed by Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter, the team that brought us the ambitious adventure game The 7th Continent. Each round, players write down one-word clues to present to the round’s guesser, who has to figure out a secret word. Players need to give a clue good enough to point the guesser in the right direction—but any identical clues are discarded before the guesser can see them, so being too obvious could backfire. The game is simple to teach and play, and a 13-round game is over in a brisk 20 minutes. Also nominated for the Spiel des Jahres were party word game (Werewords) and legendary designer Reiner Knizia’s L.A.M.A.

This year’s "Kennerspiel des Jahres," the prize awarded to more strategically complex games, went to Wingspan, a beautiful engine-building game about birds. Designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, Wingspan quickly became one of the hottest games of the year when it was released a few months ago, and it’s not hard to see why. The production is gorgeous (no surprise, as it comes from publisher Stonemaier Games), and the gameplay is simple and satisfying. You can read our full review here or check out a gallery of the game's lovely components below. Stefan Feld’s Carpe Diem and Portal Games’ Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game were also up for the Kennerspiel.

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Tokyo 2020: Meet the Olympic and Paralympic robots

BBC Technology News - July 23, 2019 - 5:55pm
With a year to go until the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, meet the robots that will be used on site at the events.

Dealmaster: Get a TCL 55-inch 4K Roku TV for a new low of $380

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 5:55pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals to share. Today's list is led by new lows on TCL's 5-Series Roku TVs—the 55-inch model is down to $380, while the 49-inch set is down to $300. These two sets have gone for about $20 more for the past couple of months, but this is as cheap as either of them have gone to date.

In any event, both TVs here are a good value at these prices. They launched last year, and while they technically support HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR, they don't support local dimming, so it's hard to say they're truly capable of displaying HDR content. They also only support a 60Hz refresh rate. But their contrast and colors are impressive for the price nonetheless, and their built-in Roku OS remains much more intuitive and useful than most smart TV interfaces. If you can afford to step up to something like Vizio's P-Series, or if you can really splash the cash, LG's OLED sets are clear steps up in picture quality. But if you just can't spend more than $400, these should still please.

If you're all set on the TV front, though, we also have deals on wireless chargers, gaming laptops, Ars-approved board games, and more. Have a look for yourself below.

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Dog learns new tricks via vibrating vest

BBC Technology News - July 23, 2019 - 5:49pm
Tai the dog is learning to respond to remote-controlled commands via a haptic vest.

SUSE Names Melissa Di Donato New CEO

Slashdot - July 23, 2019 - 5:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Apple closes in on $1 billion deal to buy Intel’s modem business: report

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 5:03pm

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook. (credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Apple is in the final stages of negotiations to buy the bulk of Intel's modem chip business, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Journal says the deal, valued at $1 billion or more, could be finalized in the next week. The deal would involve the transfer of talent as well as modem-related patents.

Intel's wireless efforts date back to at least 2011, when the company bought Infineon's wireless division for $1.4 billion. Intel hoped to become a major rival to Qualcomm, which has long played a dominant role in the market for wireless chips.

But Intel has struggled to gain traction. That's partly because Qualcomm negotiated restrictive contracts with potential Intel customers that effectively blocked them from considering a second supplier. After Apple began shipping iPhones with Intel chips inside them in 2016, Qualcomm declared war on Apple, suing for patent infringement and eventually refusing to supply chips for new iPhone models—making Apple dependent on Intel for those chips.

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AI's Minority Report for retail: They know you’ll return it even before you buy it

ZDnet Blogs - July 23, 2019 - 4:57pm
Retail can be a game, a game that Indian online apparel retailer Myntra is learning to play better by predicting people's propensity to return what's in their shopping cart before they purchase, and using rewards and punishments to block returns.
Categories: Opinion

Satellites play chase to measure gravity, achieve picometer accuracy

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 4:22pm

Enlarge (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The spinoffs from gravitational wave detectors are not just new scientific discoveries. The technology also has other uses. A good example of this is the gravity-measuring mission, GRACE Follow On, which was launched last year. The first reports on its laser rangefinder's performance have been released, and it makes for impressive reading.

Gravitational wave detectors work by measuring tiny changes in the distance between two mirrors. Ripples in space-time cause a tiny oscillation in that distance, which is then detected by comparing the phase shift between light that has traveled between the two mirrors and light that has traveled along a path that was unaffected by the gravitational wave. To put it in perspective, a gravitational wave detector measures changes that are far smaller than the diameter of an atom and are more like the diameter of a single proton.

The gravity of GRACE

Similar technology found its way into space to increase the sensitivity of Earth-monitoring instruments. On Earth, we have stationary detectors that wait for gravitational waves to pass through them. In orbit, the detector is moving and can measure subtle changes in the Earth's gravitational field.

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Lancaster University students' data stolen by cyber-thieves

BBC Technology News - July 23, 2019 - 4:16pm
Lancaster University says it was hit by hackers in a "sophisticated and malicious" phishing attack.

Grand Theft Auto's Diamond Casino lets cash be turned into chips

BBC Technology News - July 23, 2019 - 4:03pm
Players can convert real money into in-game gambling chips, but not vice-versa.

The mushroom that AI thinks is a pretzel

BBC Technology News - July 23, 2019 - 2:44pm
Researchers have compiled a database of 7,500 images that AI has failed to identify correctly.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Super hands-on: The result when AMD is out of striking distance

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 2:00pm

Earlier this month, Nvidia kicked a stool out from under AMD's feet, just as the graphics-card sector began heating up anew. AMD was set to land a serious blow with new RX 5700 cards in the "pricey but reasonable" range—a range that Nvidia had failed to capture with its "entry-level" RTX cards, the 2060 and 2070. Nvidia responded to AMD's news by unveiling and launching a surprise pair of solid "Super" cards. AMD responded with its own price cut (and a claim that this price-war dance was its plan all along).

As these similarly specced cards jostled for the "$400ish" crown, the winner was ultimately consumers. At every price point, new GPU buyers can expect a solid bang-for-buck quotient between the $349 AMD Radeon RX 5700 and the $499 Nvidia RTX 2070 Super.

Weeks later, we have Nvidia's third Super-branded launch, the RTX 2080 Super. And it's a good reminder of what happens when AMD is not in striking distance of a particular price sector.

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