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08-21-2019 Science&Technology
Apple's Unforgivable Mistake Threatens Millions Of iPad And iPhone Users

Apple is in a continuing fight to keep the iOS platform secure, and it has made a mistake that has blown open the entire platform. This weekend it was revealed that Apple has been sloppy, and an old vulnerability that was patched over has been broken in the move to iOS 12.4, so it is possible for a iPhone running the very latest version of iOS to run unsigned code. That could be an intentional choice by users wanting to access alternate app stores or access functions not normally exposed (a classic jailbreak) but it is more likely to be used maliciously, for example using a bug in another application that allows code to be run remotely on any up to date iPhone. It cannot be stressed enough that this is a huge mistake by Apple. That said there are some limitations to note. First of all the vulnerability does not affect hardware running on the A12 system on chip - the iPhone X will be impacted, but not the iPhone XR, XS, or XS Max. unfortunately Apple has never released sales figures for the newer handsets so how many users are protected by hardware evolution is not known. You also need to have iOS 12.4 installed. This is one moment in time where Apple’s ability to shift its user base to the latest version of the mobile operating system is not helpful (although it will be helpful when the presumptively named iOS 12.4.1 patch is rolled out). Unfortunately has Apple pulled iOS 12.2 and 12.3 from its servers and revoked their signatures, so there is no choice but to update to 12.4. And for those who jailbreak their devices for their own use, there may well be ongoing issues if they use Apple’s online services - which will no doubt be double checking the devices that connect to them. In the real world, let’s add together these puzzle pieces… you could download an app from the App Store which makes use of this exploit to ‘escape’ the iOS sandbox that an application is given by the operating system. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai reports: “Due to 12.4 being the latest version of iOS currently available and the only one which Apple allows upgrading to, for the next couple of days (till 12.4.1 comes out), all devices of this version (or any 11.x and 12.x below 12.3) are jail breakable—which means they are also vulnerable to what is effectively a 100+ day exploit,” said Jonathan Levin, a security researcher and trainer who specializes in iOS, referring to the fact that this vulnerability can be exploited with code that was found more than 100 days ago. Given Apple was made aware of this bug over 100 days ago by Google’s Project Zero team, there’s probably a good chance that elements not friendly to Apple’s ethos of user security will be aware of the issue and potentially using it quietly in the background. In the meantime, if you are on iOS 12.3 do not upgrade to 12.4 to stay protected over the next few days. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Forbes

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08-21-2019 Politics
Jewish leaders outraged by Trump saying Jews disloyal if they vote for Democrats

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats, saying "it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." Trump was speaking to the press in the Oval Office about two Democratic congresswomen barred from entering Israel over their involvement in the movement to end international support for the country because of its policies toward Palestinians. "Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this -- even three years ago -- of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people -- I can't believe we're even having this conversation," Trump added. "Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they're defending these two people over the State of Israel?" He added, "I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat -- it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." The remark led critics to argue the President was dabbling in the anti-Semitic trope of "dual loyalty," which questions the loyalty of Jewish citizens. "It's unclear who @POTUS is claiming Jews would be 'disloyal' to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. As we've said before, it's possible to engage in the democratic process without these claims. It's long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football," Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted later Tuesday. Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, called the comments "yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism." "If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being 'loyal' to him, then Trump needs a reality check. We live in a democracy, and Jewish support for the Republican Party has been halved in the past four years," Soifer added. J Street, a liberal advocacy group focused on reaching a resolution between Israel and the Palestinian territories, said in a statement, "It is dangerous and shameful for President Trump to attack the large majority of the American Jewish community as unintelligent and 'disloyal.' " The President has suggested that Jewish Americans, who are traditionally staunch supporters of the Democratic Party, are leaving it. But polling suggests that Jewish Americans continue overwhelmingly to be Democrats and opposed to Trump. Jewish Americans voted for the Democratic Party by about a 3:1 margin in the 2018 midterm elections. And Jewish Americans are far more likely to call themselves Democrats than Republicans. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   CNN

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08-21-2019 Science&Technology
Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Edge browser is now in beta

Microsoft today launched the first beta builds of its new Chromium-based Edge browser for Windows and Mac. The new beta channel, which will see a new update roughly every six weeks, will join the existing dev and canary channels, which will continue to see daily and weekly updates, respectively. Over the course of the last few months of preview releases in the existing channels, Microsoft gathered about 140,000 pieces of feedback. With this — and a sufficient amount of telemetry it also received from early adopters — the company now feels that it knows enough about how well Edge works on a wide range of machines and that it is stable enough for enthusiasts, web developers and business users to give it a try before its wider release. “Beta represents the most stable preview channel, as features are added to Beta only after they have cleared quality testing in first the Canary channel and then the Dev channel,” Microsoft explains in today’s announcement. “Major version updates can be expected roughly every six weeks, alongside periodic minor updates for bug fixes and security.” At this point, Microsoft has also put all of the infrastructure in place to update the browser and tested it thoroughly through the early preview phase. If need be, that means the team can release an unscheduled beta when it discovers a bug and know that its update systems will work just fine. Just like Chrome, Firefox and most other browsers, Microsoft will continue to test new features in the canary and developer builds before enabling them in the beta builds. The current canary build, for example, features a very useful global media control button that lets you control YouTube, Spotify and other video and music services without having to switch tabs. Features like this will come to the beta channel in the coming months. Also available in the beta, but currently behind a flag, are Microsoft’s tracking-prevention features. Soon, the beta build will also get support for collections, Microsoft’s modern take on bookmarks, though as far as I can tell, that feature isn’t currently enabled in the canary and developer releases yet either (Correction: it went live in the canary release with this update). Other new features that’ll soon make their way to the beta are Internet Explorer mode for those companies that still use legacy applications that rely on Microsoft’s old, pre-Edge browser. With this release, Microsoft is also launching a security bounty program for Edge. Security researchers who find and disclose any high-impact vulnerabilities in the beta and dev channel releases are eligible for rewards of up to $15,000. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Crunch

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08-21-2019 Science&Technology
Here are 5 intelligent uses for smart plugs

Smart plugs can make even the dumbest appliance controllable through an app on your phone or through voice commands using Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit. Even if you’re not really into the idea of home hubs and smart home automation, they can be an easy way to make your life easier. Most work using their own app, which means you don’t need to have any other smart home devices or assistants to make them work. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate smart plugs into your life. CONTROL YOUR LIGHTS, NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE Remember The Clapper? You could plug your lamp into it and then clap your hands to turn it on or off. Smart plugs are like a much quieter version of that. Most smart plugs also have scheduling features on their app. This means your lights can turn themselves on before you get home and turn themselves off at bedtime. They can also be scheduled to come on at random times while you’re on vacation to confuse would-be burglars. Another great idea is to use smart plugs to control your Christmas lights, so you don’t need to go outside at night to plug them in or turn them off. PREVENT YOUR HOUSE FROM BURNING DOWN If you’re the type of person who has to rush back home because you left the stove on or your hair straightener plugged in, then you definitely need smart plugs in your life. Plug the appliances you are always forgetting to turn off into a smart plug and you can turn it off remotely using your phone. This way, you’re never left to second-guessing, which in essence of peace of mind. No need to hurry home. POWER UP YOUR MORNINGS With the addition of a smart plug, you can jump-start your mornings. You can turn a regular coffee maker into a smart one that starts your coffee before you roll out of bed, for instance. You can also schedule your hair appliances to heat up so they’re ready when you need them. GET COOL If you use fans or window AC units, there’s probably been more than one time you’ve wished you could turn it on or off from across the room. Add a smart plug and you can use the plug’s app or voice commands to control the cooling of your rooms. STOP ENERGY WASTE Many smart plugs can monitor electricity usage and send you reports on how much your appliances are sucking up on a daily basis. This is a great use on its own, but you can also use smart switches to stop “vampire energy usage.” This is when an appliance is seemingly off, but is actually on standby, using energy that it doesn’t need to be. The only way to stop standby energy usage is by unplugging the appliance or shutting off the power supply to the cord. If the plugs are in hard-to-reach areas, this can be difficult. Adding a smart plug to all of these energy-sucking appliances can make turning them off — really off — easy. Some devices that go on standby are: ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Digital Trends

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08-21-2019 Science&Technology
Google Go is now available on the Play Store for everyone

Back in 2017 when Google launched the Android Go program, it created an assortment of "Go" apps to go along with it — essentially lightweight versions of its various applications that take up less storage space and use less data. Go apps were designed with developing countries in mind, but a lot of them have since become available globally due to their popularity. On August 20, Google announced that Google Go was getting that treatment. Google Go is a paired down version of the main Google app, offering key features such as Google Lens, Discover, easy access to images, a read-out-loud feature that enables users to listen to the text on a webpage, and Google's unmatched search algorithm. The best part? Google Go takes up considerably less space on your phone (it only weighs a little over 7MB) and works well even when you have a spotty internet connection. If you want to give Google Go a shot, you can download it right now from the Play Store for free.

Read Original Article     ON:   Android Central

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08-21-2019 Cars
Tesla releases new software update with adaptive suspension damping improvements and more

Tesla started releasing a new software update this week with improvements to Model S and Model X’s new adaptive suspension damping and more. In April, Tesla launched the new Raven Model S and Model X vehicles with a series of upgrades, including a new adaptive suspension. The automaker described the new suspension: We’ve also upgraded our air suspension system for Model S and Model X with fully-adaptive damping, giving it an ultra-cushioned feel when cruising on the highway or using Autopilot, and a responsive, exhilarating confidence during dynamic driving. One of the selling points was that Tesla would be more easily able to modify the suspension through Tesla’s over-the-air software update system. With a new software update (2019.28.3.1) this week, Tesla started those modifications to the suspension. Tesla wrote in the release notes: Ride comfort is improved for high speed driving. Both Standard and Sport modes now have updated suspension damping algorithms to adapt better at speeds above 160 km/h (100 mph). To adjust Adaptive Suspension Damping tap Controls > Suspension. As always, please drive responsibly. Of course, the update only affects Model S and Model X vehicles made in the last few months, but the same update also brings other features and changes depending on which car you have. For example, Tesla included media volume improvements: To make it easier to speak when dropping off or picking up passengers, music volume will be lowered when any door is opened. Additionally, while your phone is paired to Bluetooth media, the audio volume will match the vehicle’s volume level regardless of your phone volume settings. Owners who haven’t received Tesla’s new in-car chess game might also get it in this new software update. Electrek’s Take We are already starting to see the benefit of Tesla’s new upgradable suspension. If they can indeed bring significant improvements through over-the-air software update, hopefully this becomes the new standard, and Tesla brings the suspension to other models. For now, though, we are talking about improvements at speeds above 160 km/h (100 mph), which shouldn’t be really helpful for most drivers outside of German owners and people who are OK with regularly breaking the law. Either way, we are going to follow the upcoming updates to the suspension.

Read Original Article     ON:   Electrek

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08-21-2019 Games
Marvel Studios and Sony End Spider-Man Deal

A reported standoff between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures has ended Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige's involvement with the Spider-Man film series, according to Deadline. Marvel Studios has helped usher in the latest reboot of the film saga, with Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are reportedly two more movies in the works with Holland and director Jon Watts, but unless something changes in the near future, Kevin Feige will not take the creative lead on those films as he did with the previous two features. The standoff was reportedly over a reworking of the deal that would see Disney get a 50-50 co-financing stake in the upcoming Spider-Man movies. This news comes after Spider-Man: Far From Home, the second Spider-Man film made with Marvel Studios, became Sony's highest-grossing film of all time. Sony is even returning the film to theaters with an additional four-minute action scene over the Labor Day weekend. It's unclear what Feige's departure means for the in-the-works Watts/Holland movies and their connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to Deadline's report, the deal would have given Disney its stake in the Spider-Man franchise while also bringing Sony's extended universe of Spider-Man movies such as Venom into the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper. Sony turned the offer down outright without so much as a counteroffer. Sony seems not to want to share what is its biggest film franchise. It instead preferred to keep the current arrangement intact, which sees Disney receiving an approximate 5% of each Spider-Man movie's first-dollar gross. Feige, reportedly, would have been willing to stay onboard the Spider-Man franchise if the two companies could have come to terms, but their fallout now makes that, at best, unlikely. For the Marvel Cinematic Universe's part, Spider-Man is a big loss. The character is arguably the biggest, most popular single hero in Marvel's stable. On the other hand, Disney's purchase of 20th Century Fox brought home the film rights to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, meaning there's plenty of intellectual property for the studio to work on outside of the Spider-Man series. 0 COMMENTS What do you think of this sudden turn for the Spider-Man movies franchise? Let us know in the comments. Upcoming Marvel Studios projects include Black Widow on May 1, 2020, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in fall 2020, The Eternals on November 6, 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, 2021, WandaVision in spring 2021, Loki in spring 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021, What If? In summer 2021, Hawkeye in fall 2021, and Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021.

Read Original Article     ON:   Comic Book

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08-21-2019 Science&Technology
Mathematical framework turns any sheet of material into any shape using kirigami cuts

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a mathematical framework that can turn any sheet of material into any prescribed shape, inspired by the paper craft termed kirigami (from the Japanese, kiri, meaning to cut and kami, meaning paper). Unlike its better-known cousin origami, which uses folds to shape paper, kirigami relies on a pattern of cuts in a flat paper sheet to change its flexibility and allow it to morph into 3-D shapes. Artists have long used this artform to create everything from pop-up cards to castles and dragons. "We asked if it is possible to uncover the basic mathematical principles underlying kirigami and use them to create algorithms that would allow us to design the number, size and orientation of the cuts in a flat sheet so that it can morph into any given shape," said L. Mahadevan, de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, Physics, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, the senior author on the paper. "Specifically, if we are given a general shape in two-or-three dimensions, how should we design the cut patterns in a reference shape so that we can get it to deploy to the final shape in one motion?" said Gary P. T. Choi, a graduate student at SEAS and first author of the paper. "In this work, we solve that problem by identifying the constraints that have to be satisfied in order to achieve this cut pattern, use a numerical optimization approach to determine the patterns, and then verify this experimentally." The research is published in Nature Materials. This research follows previous work by the Mahadevan lab that characterized how origami-based patterns could be used as building blocks to create almost any three-dimensional curved shape. "We were actually able to do a little more with kirigami than we were able to do with origami," said Levi Dudte, graduate student in the Mahadevan lab and co-author of the paper. "The presence of cuts and holes in the interior of the material gives kirigami the ability to change its shape significantly." "Our work draws on inspiration from art, tempered by the rigor of mathematics, and the challenges of engineering shape. Finding kirigami tessellations that can convert a square to a circle, or a flat sheet into a poncho is just the start. We think that this is just the beginning of a class of new ways to engineer shape in the digital age using geometry, topology, and computation," said Mahadevan. Next the researchers aim to explore how to combine cuts and folds to achieve any shape with a given set of properties, thus linking origami and kirigami.

Read Original Article     ON:   Phys

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08-20-2019 Science&Technology
Google Is Testing Virtual Meet And Greet Sessions With YouTube Stars And Influencers

In an attempt to help influencers' work off the ground, Google is apparently experimenting with a new method of crowdfunding, called Fundo. The events-focused crowdfunding service, to be available to YouTube creators, will allow them to set up digital meet and greet sessions and other events fans can pay to get access to. YouTube Fundo Meet And Greet Sessions Several YouTube personalities have been using the feature to set up small online get-togethers and live conversations with subscribers and fans, according to a report from Variety. Jessi Vee, for instance, apparently used Fundo to host group chats with fans last month. Meanwhile, Key Riqué, a Mexican YouTuber, used the platform to sell shoutouts to fans for as little as $4. On the other hand, KreekCraft charged $10 per ticket for fans who wanted access to a virtual meet and greet session. Hannah Forcier, a style YouTuber, did a photo booth session with fans in which they got to have one-on-one conversations with the creator and posed for three photos together, for which she charged $40. The experiment is being carried out by Area 120, Google's arm for more experimental projects. A spokesperson confirmed that testing in a statement provided to Variety. "One of the many projects that we're working on within Area 120 is Fundo, an audience engagement and monetization platform for YouTube creators," the spokesperson said. "Like other projects within Area 120, it's a very early experiment so there aren't many details to share right now." The Reason Behind Fundo Fundo is clearly an attempt to let fans participate in such events and also allow YouTube creators to set up ways to grow their revenue and connect with their subscribers. Earnings from their Fundo events go directly to them so, as a FAQ document says, "they can continue to make you feel all the feels." In addition to video chat and payments functionalities, Fundo also implements a queue system to assure the virtual meetings stay exclusive without frustrating fans. "Events on Fundo can be very popular," the FAQ states. "Please try to be patient. The creator will get to everyone." It's not clear how many creators are using Fundo at the moment, and whether Google plans to distribute it to other personalities in the future. The company did file for to trademark the service last month, which suggests it's got plans to use the branding moving forward.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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08-20-2019 Politics
Lawmakers slam Trump and Netanyahu at emotional news conference following scrapped Israel trip

(CNN)The first two Muslim women in Congress sharply criticized President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a trip to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories was canceled once the two lawmakers were denied entry for supporting a boycott of Israel. At a news conference in Minnesota on Monday, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar -- alongside Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan -- made an emotional plea for her congressional colleagues to also visit the region as part of their role of congressional oversight for $3 billion in foreign aid. "I would encourage my colleagues to visit, meet with the people we were going to meet with, see the things we were going to see, hear the stories we were going to hear," said Omar, who represents a district in Minnesota. "We cannot let Trump and Netanyahu succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us. So I call on all of you to go. The occupation is real, barring members of Congress from seeing it does not make it go away. We must end it together." Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, was later granted entry to visit the Palestinian territories to visit her grandmother who lives in the West Bank. Tlaib declined to visit citing the conditions placed on her entry by the Israeli government and the trip was canceled. On Monday, Tlaib spoke about visits she took to Palestine as a young girl to visit her grandmother. When she spoke about her mother and herself having to go through "dehumanizing checkpoints," Tlaib grew visibly emotional. "As a young girl visiting Palestine to see my grandparents and extended family I watched as my mother had to go through dehumanizing checkpoints, even though she was a United States citizen and proud American," Tlaib said. Last week, Israel barred Tlaib and Omar, after Trump tweeted that allowing them would show "great weakness." Israel's decision to bar their entry and Trump's encouragement of the move was a remarkable step both by the US President and his ally Netanyahu to punish political opponents.

Read Original Article     ON:   CNN

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08-20-2019 Science&Technology
Windows 10 Pro: More of a dead end than ever

Windows 10 Pro remains a dead end for most organizations, an analyst reiterated in an interview. "Absolutely, still a dead end," said Stephen Kleynhans, a research vice president at Gartner. More than a year ago, Kleynhans and Michael Silver, another Gartner analyst, asserted that Windows 10 Pro - the version traditionally factory-installed on business-grade PCs - was a blind alley for most businesses. Although Microsoft has long emphasized Windows 10 Enterprise, and before that, other SKUs (stock-keeping units) with the same "Enterprise" suffix, Pro's second-class citizenship was more starkly revealed when Microsoft offered then-temporary support extensions only to Enterprise customers. "The one thing that really surprised me about the added support was the fact that it didn't apply to Pro," Kleynhans said in a May 2018 interview. "I think that this telegraphed the fact that, for businesses, Pro is being dead-ended." What held then still holds now, Kleynhans said. "If you are a very small organization, your needs aren't very great, and you have no need to manage your PCs. Then ((Windows 10)) Pro is great in the small business, like a small store or a doctor's office. "But if you have any need for central IT or centralized management, it's hard to see how Pro would be suitable," Kleynhans added. Windows 10 Pro's biggest problem remains support. When Kleynhans and Silver warned clients last year of Pro's unsuitability, Microsoft had only months before added six months to the support lifecycle for recent Windows 10 Enterprise upgrades, including versions 1609, 1703 and 1709. (Oddly, the very latest version at the time, the April 2018 Update, aka 1803 in Microsoft's numeric parlance, did not initially receive the same support extension to 24 months.) ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Computer Wor;d

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08-20-2019 Cars
Is This Why Tesla Stays Secretive About Maxwell Technologies?

There has been a ton of speculation about why Tesla bought Maxwell Technologies. The obvious but vague answer is that its battery technology will improve Tesla’s automotive and energy storage products, but we now know the more detailed answer. It’s a long story, but it’s well worth the read. Please read this post to the end, as it’s very easy to misunderstand this if you don’t get the whole story. The History The important technology in question has been in development since at least June 1914. At that time, electric vehicles dominated the emerging automotive industry. Eventually, gasoline cars gained the upper hand, mostly because the battery technology of the day couldn’t compete with the range of fossil-fueled vehicles. That doesn’t mean that the people of the day didn’t try, though! A group of Peruvian scientists came up with an important part of the puzzle: the “pearl well” (at least, that’s what it’s called according to my translations). Unfortunately, the technology of the day wasn’t up to the task of integrating this with other automotive drive components. The patents were sold to General Electric, which couldn’t make any further progress. Rockwell Technologies eventually bought the technology and attempted to develop it for heavy-duty transmissions. Eventually, the company partnered with Chrysler, which was working on an early hybrid drive unit in 1977. Chrysler was confident enough that it could produce a working hybrid unit for the California market that it produced this training video, but its plans were ultimately thwarted by an unsolvable bug in the hybrid system that made a “hiccuping or burping sound” in the turbo encabulator unit that bothered drivers in focus groups. For this reason, the project was abandoned. Rockwell continued attempting to develop the encabulator technology for the next 20 years, eventually creating the “retro encabulator.” Realizing that it was simply too expensive for automotive use, the company started working on military and government applications. Yet another training and sales video was produced, but outside of possible sales for highly classified projects, it doesn’t appear that it was used for anything until it was sold to Maxwell for an undisclosed amount in 1999. More Recent Developments According to our sources, Maxwell further developed the technology, but could only get it working when certain engineers were observing. When other engineers were watching, it wouldn’t work. This led to further testing that determined that some sort of quantum effect was likely involved. By 2015, they had effectively hit a dead end in the production of energy from the device, but had determined that it could greatly increase the possible energy that could be derived from capacitors and batteries — much more than Chrysler had envisioned. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Clean Technica

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08-14-2019 Games
Apex Legends community raging over new cosmetic pricing

Respawn Entertainment launched a major update to Apex Legends earlier today, featuring a new event called Iron Crown. The event is running for a limited time, and introduces exclusive cosmetics that players can only unlock while the event is live. Just a few hours after the launch of the event, the Apex Legends community made it clear that they are not happy at all with how these new cosmetics are being doled out. The big issue with players, as expressed on places like the Apex Legends subreddit, seems to be the pricing and availability of the Iron Crown event packs. If you haven’t played Apex Legends in a while, the pricing model can be a little tricky to crack, but the basics are that it’ll run players 700 Apex Coins to open each Iron Crown pack, or about $7 in real money. There are 24 Iron Crown packs in total, two of which can be earned through gameplay, so players looking to unlock everything will have to throw down $140. Ouch. For those that don’t feel like they need every single cosmetic, they’re still at the whims of the RNG of loot boxes, which means they could be $100 in the hole before getting a desired skin, even without duplicates in these boxes. This post on the Apex Legends subreddit from u/HerpMcHerp does a good job summarizing players’ complaints, but it’s one of many posts that have bubbled up to the top of the subreddit since the launch of the Iron Crown event. Given that Apex Legends is a free-to-play game, it’s no surprise that cosmetics would be expensive, but tying a gambling mechanic in the form of loot boxes to time-limited cosmetics seems particularly harsh for players. We’ve reached out to Respawn to see if they have any response regarding the blowback.

Read Original Article     ON:   Polygon

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08-14-2019 Science&Technology
Parallels 15 will let you use your Apple Pencil with Windows

Popular Mac-to-Windows desktop virtualization software Parallels is adding native support for DirectX 11 as well as upcoming macOS Catalina tentpole features like Sidecar, developer Corel announced on Tuesday. The highlight of Parallels Desktop 15 is cross-platform support for DirectX 11 courtesy of Apple's Metal graphics API. With support for Metal in tow, Corel claims the new version of Parallels delivers 15 percent faster 3D graphics performance, in addition to a smoother, more responsive user interface. For frequent Microsoft Office users, the company says Microsoft's suite of productivity apps will launch 80 percent faster with Parallels 15. Beyond improved performance, expanded graphics support means Parallels 15 will allow Mac owners to use programs and play games they weren't able to in the past. Notable highlights include computer-aided design (CAD) programs like Autodesk 3ds Max 2020, as well as recent games like Fallout 4, Anno 1800 and Age of Empires: Definitive Edition. What's most interesting about this release, however, is that once Apple releases macOS Catalinathis fall, Parallels will allow Mac owners to use features like Sidecar and expanded Apple Pencil support within Windows. With Parallels 15, Sidecar, which will allow iPad owners to use their tablet as a secondary display in macOS Catalina, will also work in Windows. Similarly, Apple Pencil owners will be able to use their stylus in Windows programs like Microsoft Sketch Pad.

Read Original Article     ON:   Engadget

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08-13-2019 Games
After two years of delays, Minecraft’s visual upgrade has been canceled

After announcing a plan to completely overhaul Minecraft's visual engine in 2017, the game's developers at Mojang have finally come clean: the "Super Duper Graphics Pack" is no longer coming to the hugely popular sandbox game. The update's E3 2017 announcement sent tongues wagging thanks to an incredible trailer, which bathed the game's familiar, blocky environs with a newly dynamic shadow-and-light model, crepuscular rays, screen-space reflections, material-based lighting, and more. Keeping in line with its description as a "pack," the update left the game's raw assets untouched, which made it seem similar to other existing "texture packs" sold within modern Minecraft games. All of this would even run in 4K resolution on supported hardware, Mojang said, and it promised a free launch by "fall 2017." Once that date slipped, Mojang became wholly mum about the pack's existence until Monday. That's when Mojang confirmed the project's cancellation in a brief, official blog post. In it, the company told fans, "Unfortunately, the pack proved too technically demanding to implement as planned." Instead of offering technical details, Mojang went on to blame the update's problems on "how the pack performed across devices." Thanks to this brief statement, we're forced to read between the lines and remember that the Super Duper Graphics Pack was originally announced as a free update for Minecraft on Windows 10 and Xbox as opposed to power-starved platforms such as Nintendo Switch or smartphones. And we learned in December 2018 that Microsoft was officially done supporting the game on Xbox 360 consoles. This may very well have been a crucial brick to lay in moving forward on "Xbox One-only" console support for the pack. So that "across devices" line may very well point to the non-X version of Xbox One as a performance sticking point. But neither Mojang nor Microsoft is saying. Shortly after the pack's 2017 announcement, Microsoft rolled out a Minecraft "beta test" channel via the Xbox One Insider channel. But that test version of the game never included any hints of Super Duper Graphics Pack bonuses or even a jump to 4K resolution. However, that doesn't mean Microsoft is done pushing Minecraft's limits on its existing platforms. The Monday blog post included a tease of some technical upgrade possibly coming: "We're constantly trying to make the most of the technical architecture of each [platform]. We'll be able to share more on that subject very soon." And in good news, some of the Super Duper update's graphical touches appear to have found a home in the promising spin-off game Minecraft Dungeons, slated to launch sometime next year.

Read Original Article     ON:   Ars Technica

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08-11-2019 Politics
Trump retweets post implying Bill Clinton behind Jeffrey Epstein’s death

President Trump added fuel to the conspiracy theories surrounding multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide on Saturday when he retweeted a post that implied former President Bill Clinton was linked to Epstein's death. The tweet came from self-described comedian Terrence K. Williams who echoed many on social media in suggesting a connection between the Clintons and Epstein, who previously was an acquaintance of the former president. "Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH ? Yeah right! How does that happen," the tweet read, alongside a photo of Epstein and one of the Clintons. "#JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this! RT if you’re not Surprised." JEFFREY EPSTEIN DEAD FROM APPARENT SUICIDE IN MANHATTAN JAIL CELL; FBI INVESTIGATING Trump's tweet came shortly after Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., pushed back on the "immediate rush to spread conspiracy theories about someone" in another political party. Williams' video argued that "for some odd reason, people with information on the Clintons end up dead and they usually die from suicide." "C'mon now," he continued incredulously on the video. The Associated Press reported that Epstein had been placed on suicide watch after an incident last month in which Epstein was found with bruising on his neck, though it has never been made clear whether those injuries were the result of a suicide attempt or an assault by a fellow inmate. However, a Bureau of Prisons spokesman told the New York Post Saturday that Epstein was not on suicide watch at the time of his death and AP reported he had been taken off suicide watch at the end of last month. ...

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