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Formula E five years on: Cars Technica grades the electric racing series

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 12:30pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

This past weekend, against a backdrop of lower Manhattan, Formula E held its season-ending double-header. After 13 races across the globe, the DS Techeetah team was triumphant, scoring more points than any of its rivals to take the team championship. And Jean-Eric Vergne, one of DS Techeetah's two drivers, beat out his rivals—and the heat—to become the series' first two-time driver's champion.

And when the checkered flag waved on Sunday afternoon, it also marked an additional reason for celebration: Formula E officially completed its fifth season.

The series launched back in 2014, and it's fair to say it was greeted with heavy skepticism across the racing community. For an industry meant to be on the leading edge of automotive technology, motorsport can often succumb to conservatism. Formula E definitely represented something new and different. But different isn't a synonym for bad, and I'd like to think we're pretty open-minded here at Ars, especially when it comes to electric vehicles.

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Bohemian Rhapsody becomes the oldest video to get 1bn views

BBC Technology News - July 23, 2019 - 11:46am
Queen's signature song reaches the YouTube milestone, but it's still not in the site's Top 100.

Ford shows off electric F-150 truck by towing a million pounds of train

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 11:00am

Even if you're not a truck fan, the prospect of a battery electric Ford F-150 is appealing. The F-150 is the nation's best-selling light vehicle with more than 1.1 million sold in 2018, so it would be a good thing if some of those future sales were variants that didn't need to pump out buckets of CO2 every day. To do that, Ford not only needs a competent electric powertrain, it also has to convince some of its customers that dropping the internal combustion engine isn't a downgrade.

Which is probably why the company just released video of a prototype BEV F-150 towing more than a million pounds (453,592kg). Linda Zhang, chief engineer for the electric F-150, used one of the prototypes to pull 10 double-decker train cars carrying 42 2019 F-150s over a distance of more than 1,000 feet (300m). Until now, the heaviest thing pulled by a BEV for a publicity stunt was probably a Qantas Boeing 787 weighing 286,600lbs (130,000kg), which was pulled by a Tesla Model X in 2018.

In less welcome F-150 news, on Monday a class action lawsuit was filed against Ford for overstating the fuel efficiency of the 2018 and 2019 F-150 as well as the 2019 Ford Ranger trucks. The suit alleges that Ford "deliberately miscalculated and misrepresented factors used in vehicle certification testing in order to report that its vehicles used less fuel and emitted less pollution than they actually did. The certification test related cheating centers on the "Coast Down" testing and "Road Load" calculations."

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'Rape cases dropped' over police phone search demands

BBC Technology News - July 23, 2019 - 4:35am
Campaigners say investigations have stopped after complainants refused to hand over their devices.

Comic for July 22, 2019

Dilbert - July 23, 2019 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

Apple releases iOS 12.4, watchOS 5.3, macOS 10.14.6, and more

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 12:28am

Enlarge / The Apple Watch series 4 running watchOS 5. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

As it often does, Apple has released updates for all of its device operating systems at once. iOS 12.4, watchOS 5.3, macOS 10.14.6, and tvOS 12.4 all arrive on supporting devices today.

iOS 12.4's tentpole feature is the ability to directly and wirelessly transfer all your data from one iPhone to another when setting the latter up. Onlookers are also speculating that it includes yet-to-be-activated support for the Apple Card credit card. This Goldman Sachs-driven consumer credit card will have a number of smart features and iPhone tie-ins, and, per Apple's announcement earlier this year, is due to launch by the end of the summer.

There are also some quality-of-life and UX improvements for Apple News+. These are Apple's iOS 12.4 release notes:

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How Japan's trade row with South Korea could hit tech supplies

BBC Technology News - July 23, 2019 - 12:17am
A trade row between Japan and South Korea could pose a threat to supplies of smartphones and devices.

Should robots ever look like us?

BBC Technology News - July 23, 2019 - 12:16am
Some think humanoid robots will be easier to interact with, but others think we'll find them creepy.

Chances of destructive BlueKeep exploit rise with new explainer posted online

Ars Technica - July 23, 2019 - 12:00am

Enlarge (credit: One of the slides posted to Github.)

A security researcher has published a detailed guide that shows how to execute malicious code on Windows computers still vulnerable to the critical BlueKeep vulnerability. The move significantly lowers the bar for writing exploits that wreak the kinds of destructive attacks not seen since the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks of 2017, researchers said.

As of three weeks ago, more than 800,000 computers exposed to the Internet were vulnerable to the exploit, researchers from security firm BitSight said last week. Microsoft and a chorus of security professionals have warned of the potential for exploits to sow worldwide disruptions. The risk of the bug, found in Microsoft's implementation of the remote desktop protocol, stems from the ability for attacks to spread from one vulnerable computer to another with no interaction required of end users.

“A pretty big deal”

One of the only things standing in the way of real-world attacks is the expertise required to write exploits that remotely execute code without crashing the computer first. Several highly skilled whitehat hackers have done so with varying levels of success, but they have kept the techniques that make this possible secret. Much of that changed overnight, when a security researcher published this slide deck to Github.

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Christopher Columbus Kraft, NASA’s legendary flight director, has died

Ars Technica - July 22, 2019 - 11:05pm

Christopher Columbus Kraft Jr.—one of NASA's founding engineers, its first flight director, and a key architect of the Apollo and space shuttle programs—has died at the age of 95.

Back during the earliest days of NASA, the head of the agency's Space Task Group, Robert Gilruth, assigned Kraft the job of drawing up rules and procedures for safely managing the flight of a human into space, through the great blackness, and back to the ground. Kraft was to do all of this without the aid of a calculator or sophisticated computer and without any reference material. And he had to hurry, because the Soviet Union had already taken a big lead in the Space Race.

Over time, the work Kraft did in writing those rules, as well as hiring a talented team of flight directors and controllers, helped NASA fly the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Kraft became, in the words of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the "control" in Mission Control. Today, NASA's Mission Control in Houston bears his name—the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center.

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