posted about 12 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Ebola treatment center at the Hospital in Beni, North Kivu Province. (credit: MONUSCO/Alain Coulibaly) The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has spread to a city of nearly 1 million residents. There are now 30 confirmed cases and 15 deaths in the city of Butembo reported in the latest update provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). The number of cases in the city center is still low, according to Doctors Without Borders, but that number is rising quickly in more outlying districts and suburbs. The outbreak, which has been going on since August, has so far resulted in 467 confirmed cases and a further 48 probable cases. More than half of the cases have resulted in death (including those of 17 health workers), while 177 patients have recovered, including a newborn baby. Limited containment The rate of transmission is beginning to slow down in Beni, a smaller city approximately 36 miles north of Butembo that has the highest number of reported cases so far. But “the outbreak is intensifying in Butembo and Katwa,” writes the WHO, “and new clusters are emerging elsewhere.” Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 12 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Kona EV is relaxing to drive but does not demand you take it by the scruff and carve some canyons. (credit: Hyundai) In October, we finally got a chance to drive the Hyundai Kona EV, a rather wonderful little electric vehicle. Based on the internal combustion-powered Kona, it packs in 64kWh of lithium-ion to give it an EPA range of 258 miles (415km). On top of that, the little Kona EV also sported a rather nifty Smart Regeneration System that uses the car's cruise control radar to maximize energy recuperation when following other cars. The one thing we couldn't tell you back then was how much this EV would cost. Wonder no more. On Friday, Hyundai finally revealed US pricing: the 2019 Kona EV will start at $36,450, which means it should cost $28,950 after the $7,500 IRS tax credit is taken into account. (On top of that, there's the delivery charge, which bumps the post-credit price up to $29,995.) That makes it more expensive than the base model Nissan Leaf, which starts at $29,990 before tax credits. However, the Leaf only offers 150 miles (241km) of range, and you'd need to spring for the $36,200 Leaf SL to get a similar level of equipment to the Hyundai. (A longer-range, more expensive Leaf with a 60kWh battery pack is coming at some point in 2019, but that adds $5,500 to the car's price.) Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 12 hours ago on ars technica
Formula E Most of the motorsports world takes a well-deserved break in December. The long Formula 1 championship is done, as is the even longer NASCAR season. But this weekend, one series is about to get started: it's time for Formula E, which holds its first race of the 2018/2019 championship on Saturday. This is the fifth season for this electric racing championship, and it represents a new chapter for the sport as Formula E gets all-new cars and adds some new cities to the roster (including this weekend's race, which takes place in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia). Here at Ars, we've been fans of the all-electric racing series from day one. We were at the first-ever US race in Miami in 2015, and that same year two of the cars even carried our logo at the season finale in London. Since then, we've been regulars at the NYC ePrix, a two-day doubleheader that marks the conclusion of the championship. Electric cars racing on temporary street circuits in city centers represented quite a departure from your average racing series, and it's fair to say that Formula E has had to deal with a lot of skeptics. But we like people who try new things, and, over the course of the past four years, the sport has done a lot to win many naysayers over. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 13 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images) Another day, another privacy issue with Facebook. The company announced Friday morning that a photo API bug might have resulted in millions of people having their private photos become improperly accessible by up to 1,500 apps for a period of 12 days in September 2018. As Facebook described it in a blog post by Tomer Bar, a company staffer: Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 14 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Travelers. (credit: Netflix) One of our favorite streaming shows of the last few years has been time-travel adventure Travelers. The world of the future is in some ill-defined crisis, and the only way this can be averted is to send people back in time to make better decisions. But in a Quantum Leap-style twist, only people's consciousnesses can be sent back in time. To minimize disruption to the timelines, the mastermind of this plan, the Director, uses people who were just about to die as its targets, narrowly averting their deaths (at least most of the time) and allowing a traveler to resume their life. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 14 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Discord wants to attract more developers to its game store as it continues to expand beyond simple communications features. Discord has announced that it will start taking a reduced, 10-percent cut from game revenues generated on its online store starting next year, one-upping the Epic Games Store and its recently announced 12-percent cut on the Epic Games Store. "We talked to a lot of developers, and many of them feel that current stores are not earning their 30% of the usual 70/30 revenue share," Discord writes in the announcement. "Because of this, we now see developers creating their own stores and launchers to distribute their games instead of focusing on what’s really important—making great games and cultivating amazing communities. "Turns out, it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018," the announcement continues. "After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 15 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Heroes of the Storm will continue to increase this character roster going forward, but maybe not as quickly as previously. Blizzard may only have seven active games listed on its Battle.net launcher at the moment, but that list includes some of the biggest in the gaming world. So when the company announces it's shifting its development priorities away from one of those ongoing online titles, it's a big deal. So it is with last night's surprise update on the status of Blizzard-universe MOBA Heroes of the Storm. Blizzard now says "we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects," and thus has "made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm to other teams." This doesn't mean the immediate end of the game or anything of the sort. Blizzard promises continued active support, "with new heroes, themed events, and other content that our community loves, though the cadence will change." We're guessing that last part means the "cadence" will get less frequent, for what it's worth. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 16 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / iPhones are seen at an Apple Store in Tianjin, China. (credit: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images) Apple's patent battle with Qualcomm in China has intensified this week, with Qualcomm seeking a broader ban and Apple claiming it has a workaround to avoid Qualcomm's patents. On Monday, Qualcomm announced that a Chinese court had banned the sale of most iPhone models. However, Apple's newest models, the iPhone XS and XR, were not covered by the ban because they had not yet been introduced when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit late last year. Qualcomm remedied that oversight this week, asking the same Chinese court to ban sales of the XS and XR. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 18 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Sticker for Lyft on the back of a Lyft ride-sharing vehicle in the Silicon Valley town of Santa Clara, California, August 17, 2017. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images) Several dozen Lyft drivers across California have filed a new labor lawsuit against the ride-hailing company, arguing—like many before them—that they are being inadequately paid. According to the lawsuit, Abdeljabbar et al. v. Lyft, which was filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, drivers are being paid “less than $8 per hour.” That’s far less than the California minimum wage of $11 per hour, and even further behind the minimum in some other Golden State cities, which mandate even higher pay. A substantial portion of the drivers' lawsuit is based on a May 2018 decision by the California Supreme Court known as Dynamex. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 18 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / 5G is here, but that doesn't mean you have to buy into it. 2019 is going to be the year of 5G—at least, that's what the cellular industry keeps saying. We're going to see the launch of several 5G smartphones from OEMs like Samsung, Motorola, and OnePlus, and carriers will be tripping over themselves to tell you how awesome their new 5G networks are despite coming with a slew of asterisks. I would like to make something up about how ridiculous the 5G hype has gotten, but it's hard to top actual quotes from industry executives, like Verizon's claim that 5G will "dramatically improve our global society." Faster mobile Internet is coming, but should you care about it yet? Qualcomm recently had its big 2019 chip announcement, and as the world's biggest provider of smartphone chips, that gives us a good idea of what the upcoming 5G hardware will look like. The industry is doing its best to hype 5G up as The Next Big Thing™, but 5G hardware in 2019 is going to be a decidedly first-generation affair. Early adopters for 5G will have to accept all manner of tradeoffs. And when there might not even be 5G reception in your area, it might be better to just wait the whole thing out for a year or two. A 5G mmWave primer: Making use of the spectrum that nobody wanted "5G" is a shorthand reference to the next generation of cellular network technology that is launching in 2019. The whole "G" naming scheme started in the 1990s with the launch of GSM, which was called the "second generation"—aka "2G"—of mobile networking technology. GSM upgraded early networks from analog to digital, and those old analog networks were retroactively given the name "1G." Since then, we've gotten new "G" numbers with major coordinated network upgrades about every 10 years. These iterations brought important features like SMS and MMS messages, IP-based networking and mobile Internet, and, of course, more speed. Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 19 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Spider... sweatpants? That's just one of the many weird things you'll find in the hilarious, entertaining Into the Spider-Verse. (credit: Sony Pictures Animation) I'll keep this glowing review short for two reasons: because I'm on vacation, and because there's not much I need to say to make my point. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is right up there with Black Panther and Deadpool 2 as one of the best comic book adaptations in theaters this year. What's more, it's easily the best comic-nerd film in years to warmly embrace the kinds of viewers who know their comics canon front and back, all without intimidating the inevitable kid and newbie viewers attracted to this incredibly family-friendly adventure. Miles and Peter and Gwen and... Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 19 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (credit: Aurich Lawson/SpaceX) Welcome to Edition 1.29 of the Rocket Report! This week, we send our hearty congratulations to Virgin Galactic, which reached an important milestone Thursday with its first flight above 80km. We also have some good news on the commercial crew front, with multiple flights looking promising for 2019. As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar. Virgin flies into space (probably). With Mark "Forger" Stucky and C.J Sturckow piloting the vehicle, the VSS Unity vehicle was dropped from its White Knight Two carrier aircraft on Thursday before burning its rocket motor. During that 60-second burn, it reached a velocity of Mach 2.9 and soared to an altitude of 82.68km. These were records for the company, which may begin flying space tourists in 2019. Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 20 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: NASA) Currently, the world is struggling to keep its carbon emissions from rising. But to reach the longer-term goals we have for stabilizing the climate, we're going to have to do far more than roll out some renewable energy. Keeping the earth from warming by 2°C above preindustrial temperatures means a deep decarbonization of our energy use. Which means that we not only have to go fully carbon neutral in generating electricity, but we have to start using those emissions-free electrons to handle our heating and transportation needs. For things like cars and busses, that process has already started. But there's one weight-sensitive mode of transportation where batteries may not be able to bail us out: air travel. The relatively low energy density of batteries means that you need a lot of them—plus the weight and space they take up—to power an aircraft. For this reason, many people have decided that we'll need biofuels to power air travel. Yet there are companies that are planning on developing electric passenger aircraft. So who's being realistic? To find out, an international team has done an evaluation of whether battery-powered electric aircraft can become viable and when it's possible they'll reach the market. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Police tape. (credit: Tony Webster / Flickr) A tsunami of emailed bomb threats is prompting closures at hospitals, schools, public transit agencies, and business across the US and Canada. Word of the emails surfaced Thursday morning in tweets such as this one: So I actually just got a bomb threat in my work email today ordering me to send the person $20,000 via bitcoin or they will blow up my place of work.... 2018 is wild pic.twitter.com/sn0vVLwe6v — Ryan William Grant (@TheeRyanGrant) December 13, 2018 And this one: Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge A recent phishing campaign targeting US government officials, activists, and journalists is notable for using a technique that allowed the attackers to bypass two-factor authentication protections offered by services such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail, researchers said Thursday. The event underscores the risks of 2fa that relies on one-tap logins or one-time passwords, particularly if the latter are sent in SMS messages to phones. Attackers working on behalf of the Iranian government collected detailed information on targets and used that knowledge to write spear-phishing emails that were tailored to the targets’ level of operational security, researchers with security firm Certfa Lab said in a blog post. The emails contained a hidden image that alerted the attackers in real time when targets viewed the messages. When targets entered passwords into a fake Gmail or Yahoo security page, the attackers would almost simultaneously enter the credentials into a real login page. In the event targets’ accounts were protected by 2fa, the attackers redirected targets to a new page that requested a one-time password. “In other words, they check victims’ usernames and passwords in realtime on their own servers, and even if 2 factor authentication such as text message, authenticator app or one-tap login are enabled they can trick targets and steal that information too,” Certfa Lab researchers wrote. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Spencer Platt) Verizon is parting ways with 10,400 employees in "a voluntary separation program," despite the Trump administration providing a tax cut and various deregulatory changes that were supposed to increase investment in jobs and broadband networks. The cuts represent nearly seven percent of Verizon's workforce and were announced along with a $4.6 billion charge related to struggles in Verizon's Yahoo/AOL business division. Verizon described the voluntary buyouts as well as ongoing Yahoo/AOL failures in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Tuesday. The buyouts affect "US-based management employees" in multiple business segments, not just Yahoo and AOL. Here's what Verizon says about its Yahoo/AOL problem: Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) wants Americans, Mexicans, or just about anyone else to be able to donate cash to build a wall. And he thinks a "WallCoin" could help do that. (credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images) As President Donald Trump threatened to allow a government shutdown if Congress did not provide funding for his proposed wall along the Mexican border, a Republican congressman from Ohio offered up alternative routes to getting the wall built: through Internet crowdfunding or through an initial coin offering. During an interview with NPR's Morning Edition on December 12, Rep. Warren Davidson said that he had offered what he referred to as a "modest proposal" in the form of his "Buy a Brick, Build a Wall Act." The bill, which he submitted on November 30, would authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to accept monetary gifts from anyone "on the condition that it be used to plan, design, construct, or maintain a barrier along the international border between the United States and Mexico." The funds would go into an account called the "Border Wall Trust Fund," and a public website would be set up to process donations electronically. Rep. Davidson told NPR's Steve Inskeep that the donations could come from anyone and be gathered in a number of ways."You could do it with this sort of, like, crowdfunding site," Davidson explained. "Or you could do it with blockchain—you could have Wall Coins." Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Waymo signage is displayed on the open door of a Chrysler Pacifica autonomous vehicle in Chandler, Arizona, on Monday, July 30, 2018. (credit: Caitlin O'Hara/Bloomberg via Getty Images) For the last 18 months, Waymo vehicles have been ferrying passengers around the southeast corner of the Phoenix metropolitan area. The company has tightly controlled information about the project by contractually prohibiting passengers from discussing the experience. That was supposed to change last week when Waymo officially launched its commercial service, Waymo One. The company said it would lift its nondisclosure requirement for at least some passengers, allowing them to talk to the press about what it's like to be an ordinary passenger in a Waymo car. For the last week, reporters like me have been scouring the Internet to find Waymo One customers we can talk to—and coming up empty. Waymo One may have officially launched, but the program was still limited to people who were previously part of Waymo's earlier testing program. And so far none of these people had come forward to talk about the experience publicly. Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Apple's existing campus in Austin, Texas. (credit: Apple) Earlier this year, Apple announced it would launch a major new campus in the US, its second largest behind the Cupertino headquarters. Now we know where. Apple announced this morning that it will spend $1 billion to open a new campus in the southern tech hub of Austin, Texas, and that it will open new offices and add 1,000 new jobs each to San Diego, Seattle, and Culver City, California, which is a municipality in the heart of Los Angeles. Further expansion is also planned in Pittsburgh, New York, Boston, Boulder, and Portland. It also plans to invest $4.5 billion in data centers like those in Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona this year and next. The company has gone to great lengths to position this as part of a narrative about the vast number of people it currently employs and will employ in the future across the United States. Apple hopes this will counter criticisms about its manufacturing operations and partners in China. The industry giant says it is on track to create 20,000 new jobs in the US by 2023. It also plans to spend $30 billion on new facilities by that date. Apple currently employs about 90,000 people in the US. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Patty's Photos / Flickr) Microsoft has had success in the enterprise space with its Microsoft 365 subscription, which bundles Office 365, Windows 10, and remote management with Enterprise Mobility + Security. Its home-oriented Office 365 subscriptions have also been growing steadily, with 32.5 million subscriptions as of the company's most recent financial reports. And now Microsoft is planning to bring these things together with a Microsoft 365 subscription aimed at non-corporate users, reports Mary Jo Foley. Microsoft 365 Consumer would be a subscription bundle with a consumer focus. Foley notes that there have been job advertisements alluding to such a product, and the move would seem to be consistent with the company's plan to re-engage with consumers. At its Inspire partner event earlier this year, the company said that it wanted to target "professional consumers" by offering software and services to enhance their "Modern Life and Devices." The meaning of this is not entirely clear, but it seems to mean that the company will continue to make its services work better wherever you use them (greater support for iOS and Android phones). Syncing and replication will ensure that your work and current context moves seamlessly between devices. Less clear is what a Microsoft 365 Consumer bundle would actually include. Office 365 is an obvious component; it's already being sold to consumers, and it remains the heart of Microsoft's productivity vision. But beyond that? Windows 10 is, for home users, functionally free already. There have long been fears/rumors/speculation that Microsoft will move to a monthly Windows subscription model for consumers, but there are no signs that this is happening. Given the way Windows 10 has been positioned—the "last version" of Windows that will be updated and upgraded indefinitely—it's hard to imagine it ever happening. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Volvo On Wednesday, Volvo Trucks North America announced that in 2019 it will demonstrate an all-electric Volvo semi truck, which it expects to go into production in 2020. The semi will be an all-electric VNR, similar to Volvo's current diesel VNR model, and it will be used for regional-haul operations as well as drayage (that is, transporting shipping containers from barges to their next mode of transport). Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Spock relishes the prospect of danger. "Are you smiling, Spock?" "Yes, Captain, I believe I am." (credit: CBS All Access) Everyone's favorite sober-minded Vulcan, Spock, cracks a rare smile in a new, action-packed trailer for Star Trek: Discovery's upcoming second season. This go-round, the crew of the USS Discovery will be facing its greatest threat yet: a being or entity intent on wiping out all sentient beings in the Universe. Discovery is a prequel to the original Star Trek, set roughly 10 years before Captain Kirk and his crew took over the USS Enterprise and boldly went where no man had gone before. The first trailer debuted at New York Comic Con back in October. That's when we learned that last season's Captain Gabriel Lorca has been replaced by iconic character Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). The Klingons have hair again (fans did not care for the bald look), and Michelle Yeoh returns as the former ruler of the Terran Empire, Philippa Georgiou. We also saw the debut of Rebecca Romijn as Number One and got our first glimpse of a young, bearded Spock (now played by Ethan Peck). His appearance is linked to the mysterious vision of a "red angel" experienced by his adoptive sister, Science Specialist Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). Spock also had recurring visions of such a creature, but the first trailer was coy about what it might mean. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Now you're playing with power. Playing old-school games on the Switch thus far has been a choice between various control compromises. You can use two Joy-Cons held in two hands, but the tiny buttons and lack of a true d-pad make this setup less than ideal. Holding a single Joy-Con sideways eliminates the d-pad completely and forces you to curve your grip around a hand-crampingly small control surface. A Switch Pro Controller or various third-party solutions can solve these problems, but they come with relatively high prices and some added features you don't need for classic games. Enter Nintendo, which is offering subscribers to its new Online service the ability to buy two wireless, Switch-compatible replica NES controllers for $60 (on top of the $20 a year subscription). After spending a few hours testing the little guys (just before pre-orders start shipping out) we found them to be competent, authentic throwbacks with some important limitations. Truly authentic Anyone with fond memories of gripping an NES controller in their youth will be happy to hear that Nintendo got the authenticity darn-near perfect with these replicas. Everything from the sizing to the tactile feel to the springiness of the buttons and the d-pad is practically indistinguishable from a brand-new NES controller you might have bought three decades ago. This isn't that surprising, since the wired NES Classic Edition controllers had the same level of fidelity, but it's still nice to see. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The VSS Unity spacecraft returns to Earth on Thursday. (credit: Virgin Galactic) On a clear and cold Thursday morning in the Mojave Desert, Virgin Galactic's White Knight Two aircraft took off. It carried the VSS Unity spacecraft, which on its fourth powered flight, sought to make the company's highest and fastest flight ever. It succeeded. With Mark "Forger" Stucky and C.J Sturckow piloting the vehicle, VSS Unity was dropped from White Knight Two before burning its rocket motor for 60 seconds, reaching a velocity of Mach 2.9 and soaring to an altitude of 82.68km. These were records for the company, which may begin flying space tourists in 2019. How big of a deal is suborbital flight? On one hand, it's difficult to get any rocket to fly high and true. Consider that Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004. It had a basic architecture at that time—an air-launched, rocket-powered spaceship based upon a proven design—and ample funding from a British billionaire. It still took 14 years for the company to make its first spaceflight. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Getty Images) T-Mobile lied to the Federal Communications Commission about the extent of its 4G LTE coverage, according to a trade group that represents rural wireless providers. T-Mobile claimed—under penalty of perjury—to have coverage in areas where it hadn't yet installed 4G equipment, the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) said in an FCC filing Monday. The same group previously reported to the FCC that Verizon lied about its 4G coverage, leading to the FCC starting an investigation and announcing that at least one carrier exaggerated its 4G coverage. Inaccurate coverage maps could make it difficult for rural carriers to get money from the Mobility Fund, a government fund intended to build networks in unserved areas. The FCC last year required Verizon and other carriers to file maps and data indicating their current 4G LTE coverage with speeds of at least 5Mbps. Carriers must provide "a certification, under penalty of perjury, by a qualified engineer that the propagation maps and model details reflect the filer's coverage as of the generation date of the map in accordance with all other parameters," the FCC order said. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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