posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Patti Grace Smith was an important figure in the commercial space industry. (credit: Patti Grace Smith Fellowship) Alvin Drew remembers becoming entranced with airplanes a few months before his fifth birthday. In the fall of 1967, he went to the airport in Baltimore to see his father off on a business trip. In those simpler times, he recalls walking outside to watch the takeoff from a designated area on the runway. Four-year-olds are into all things big and loud, and seeing an airplane come racing down the runway, popping a wheelie, and then taking off was just about the coolest thing he could imagine. His mom and grandmother, both educators, noted his interest and bought him model airplanes. This nurtured a budding interest in flying and later becoming an astronaut. "They saw a smoldering fire of curiosity inside me," Drew said. "They went out and threw as much gasoline on the fire as possible."Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The United States Capitol Building, the seat of Congress, on the National Mall in Washington, DC. (credit: Omar Chatriwala | Getty Images) Last June, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law began an in-depth investigation into four major firms—Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. The subcommittee wanted to answer one key question: did Big Tech get big playing by the rules, or does it cheat to stay at the top? After 16 months of hearings, research, and analysis, the panel's findings are out... and the results look really bad for every company involved. The tech sector does indeed suffer from abuses of "monopoly power," the subcommittee concluded in the mammoth 450-page report (PDF) published late yesterday afternoon. "As they exist today, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook each possess significant market power over large swaths of our economy. In recent years, each company has expanded and exploited their power of the marketplace in anticompetitive ways," Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and antitrust subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a joint statement. "Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation, and safeguards our democracy."Read 40 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / 60 Starlink satellites stacked for launch at SpaceX facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (credit: SpaceX) SpaceX's Starlink broadband has been available in a limited beta for the past few months, and SpaceX has now launched enough satellites for a public beta that will be available to more customers. However, the newly launched satellites aren't in position yet, and SpaceX hasn't revealed an exact availability date. After yesterday's launch of 60 Starlink satellites, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that "[o]nce these satellites reach their target position, we will be able to roll out a fairly wide public beta in northern US & hopefully southern Canada. Other countries to follow as soon as we receive regulatory approval." Musk did not say when the satellites will reach their target position. SpaceX has over 700 satellites in orbit after yesterday's launch.Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
These sealed crates could hold nearly anything. (credit: Tomasz Stachura/ Baltictech/Handout via REUTERS) A World War II shipwreck recently located off the coast of Poland may hold the dismantled pieces of the Amber Room, a Russian treasure looted by the Nazis and lost since 1945. The wreck of the German steamship Karlsruhe lies 88 meters (290 feet) below the surface of the Baltic Sea and a few dozen kilometers north of the resort town of Ustka, Poland. It’s in excellent shape after 75 years on the bottom, according to the team of 10 divers from Baltictech who located the wreck in June and announced the find in early October. “It is practically intact,” Baltictech diver Tomasz Stachura told the press in a statement.Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
In case you haven't already purchased enough copies of these trilogies, Warner Bros. has you covered. [credit: Warner Bros. / Aurich Lawson ] Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, arguably the greatest home theater showcase outside of documentaries like Planet Earth, is finally coming to 4K UHD Blu-ray. Details emerged late Monday via Den of Geek, whose Instagram account posted leaked images from Best Buy-exclusive listings for the trilogy's SteelBook version. While Best Buy store listings were soon found by enterprising fans, those were eventually taken down, but they were followed by nonexclusive versions at Amazon: $90 for the normal trilogy, spread across nine Blu-ray discs, or $140 for a "gift set" version, which collects all of the normal cases in a larger, book-like case that may or may not include a replica of the One Ring. Whichever set you buy, you can expect both theatrical and extended cuts of each film in the set, along with "digital code" redemption options for both versions of each film. Should you be on the lookout for a 4K UHD Blu-ray player, all disc-based Xbox consoles since the Xbox One S (including the brand new Series X, but not the disc-less Series S) support the standard, while PS5 is the only PlayStation console to do so.Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Emmanuelle Charpentier reminds everybody about pandemic safety at the start of a press conference following the announcement of her Nobel Prize. (credit: Pictures Alliance/Getty Images) On Wednesday, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded the Chemistry Nobel to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, who made key contributions to the development of the CRISPR gene-editing system, which has been used to produce the first gene-edited humans. This award may spur a bit of controversy, as there were a lot of other contributors to the development of CRISPR (enough to ensure a bitter patent fight), and Charpentier and Doudna's work was well into the biology side of chemistry. But nobody's going to argue that the gene editing wasn't destined for a Nobel Prize. Basic science The history of CRISPR gene editing is a classic story of science: a bunch of people working in a not-especially-cutting-edge area of science found something strange. The "something" in this case was an oddity found in the genome sequences of a number of bacteria. Despite being very distantly related, the species all had a section of the genome where a set of DNA sequences were repeated, with a short spacer in between them. The sequences picked up the name CRISPR for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats," but nobody knew what they were doing there. The fact that they might be important became apparent when researchers recognized that bacteria that had CRISPR sequences invariably also had a small set of genes associated with them. Since bacteria tended to rapidly lose genes and repeat sequences that weren't performing useful functions, this obviously implied some sort of utility. But it took 18 years for someone to notice that the repeated sequences matched those found in the genomes of viruses that infected the bacteria.Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / AT&T's logo and share price displayed on a monitor at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg) AT&T is reportedly moving ahead with its plan to sell DirecTV despite receiving bids that value the satellite division at less than one-third of the price AT&T paid for it. AT&T bought DirecTV for $49 billion in 2015 and has lost seven million TV subscribers in the last two years. In late August, news broke that AT&T is trying to sell DirecTV to private-equity investors and that a deal could come in at less than $20 billion. The New York Post yesterday provided an update on the sale process, writing that AT&T is pressing ahead with an auction even though it is "shaping up to be a fire sale." The sale process is being handled for AT&T by Goldman Sachs.Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
The PlayStation 5 comes with everything seen here. Some assembly required. Batteries not included. From Sony! [credit: Sony / Youtube ] We're still a bit over a month away from the official launch of the PlayStation 5, but we've already got the first public teardown of the console hardware courtesy of Sony itself. The Japanese video (with English subtitles) Sony posted Wednesday morning answers quite a few nagging questions left from previous announcements and recent hands-on time from some Japanese press. Chief among them is a demonstration of how the system's circular black stand works. When the PS5 is placed vertically, the stand is held in place with a single large screw. When that screw is removed, it can be stored in a compartment in the base, and a small cap fills in the screw hole in the system itself.Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Boom Supersonic revealed its XB-1 flight demonstrator on Wednesday. [credit: Boom Supersonic ] Boom Supersonic will roll its XB-1 demonstrator aircraft out of its facilities in Centennial, Colorado, on Wednesday and reveal the vehicle publicly for the first time. The rollout marks the handoff from the design, development, and build phase to testing, said Blake Scholl, Boom founder and chief executive. After undergoing a series of ground tests, the 21-meter-long aircraft will begin a flight test campaign in the third quarter of 2021 at Mojave Air and Space Port, Scholl said. "We'll be supersonic by the end of next year," he added. This is about a year later than the company's original plans. Founded in 2014, Boom is planning to build a new generation of supersonic passenger jets and sell them to airlines. Scholl said the company has already pre-sold $6 billion worth of its full-size aircraft, called Overture. These airplanes are expected to seat 65 to 88 passengers and will travel at subsonic speeds over land and supersonic speeds over water—more than twice as fast as current commercial aircraft.Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
John Glenn (played by Patrick J Adams) attends a test pilot briefing at Langley Air Force Base. Glenn would be picked as one of America's first seven astronauts. [credit: National Geographic/Gene Page ] It was Tom Wolfe's book The Right Stuff that told me the reason airline pilots all sound the same is because they're all emulating the West Virginia drawl of test pilot Chuck Yeager. Published in 1979, it was the story of the beginning of the American space program and the Mercury Seven astronauts. But it was also the story of how NASA was a bunch of weenies because when they picked test pilots to be astronauts, they left out the greatest test pilot of all: Chuck Yeager. And it's a story that Philip Kaufman stuck with in 1983 when he adapted The Right Stuff into an overly long movie that only an aerospace nerd could love. The inherent superiority of Chuck Yeager over the Mercury Seven is not a story you will learn in the new Disney+ series The Right Stuff, which starts streaming on October 9. "Based on" Wolfe's book and produced by National Geographic Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way, this new adaptation wisely chooses to keep things focused on the space race's first superstars, including Suits' Patrick J. Adams as John Glenn and Mad Men's Aaron Staton as Wally Schirra.Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A trio of Wi-Fi 6 Eero Pro devices like these should provide excellent Wi-Fi coverage and performance for nearly any home. (credit: Eero) This Tuesday, Eero—one of the first and most popular Wi-Fi-mesh providers—announced a new hardware and software program which targets ISPs rather than retail customers. Ars spoke about the new program at length with Nick Weaver, Eero founder and CEO, and Mark Sieglock, Eero's GM of Software Services. The short version of Eero for Service Providers is simple: deploy new Eero 6 series hardware, let your customers self-install using a co-branded app with the ISP's own name on it, and provide the ISP with Eero Insight, a dashboard allowing them to view metrics from the entire fleet-level down to individual households. The telemetry exposed to the ISP includes outages, speed-test data, client network topology, RF diagnostics, and more. ISPs using Eero Insight can check for network outages using Eero telemetry, with configurable alert levels. [credit: Eero ] Weaver told us that the vanilla Eero Insight dashboard itself wasn't the whole story, though. The metrics, charts, and graphs the dashboard exposes can also be accessed via API, allowing larger providers to seamlessly integrate the data into their own, existing dashboards.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Getty Images) The malware known as Emotet has emerged as “one of the most prevalent ongoing threats” as it increasingly targets state and local governments and infects them with other malware, the cybersecurity arm of the Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday. Emotet was first identified in 2014 as a relatively simple trojan for stealing banking account credentials. Within a year or two, it had reinvented itself as a formidable downloader or dropper that, after infecting a PC, installed other malware. The Trickbot banking trojan and the Ryuk ransomware are two of the more common follow-ons. Over the past month, Emotet has successfully burrowed into Quebec’s Department of Justice and increased its onslaught on governments in France, Japan, and New Zealand. It has also targeted the Democratic National Committee. Not to be left out, US state and local governments are also receiving unwanted attention, according to the CISA, short for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Einstein—the agency’s intrusion-detection system for collecting, analyzing, and sharing security information across the federal civilian departments and agencies—has in recent weeks noticed a big uptick, too. In an advisory issued on Tuesday, officials wrote:Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Image of the night sky above Paranal, Chile, on July 21, 2007, showing the galactic center of the Milky Way. The laser creates a guide-star for the telescope. (credit: European Southern Observatory/Y. Beletsky) The 2020 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to Roger Penrose "for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity." He shares it with Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez "for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy." Penrose, the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, will receive half of the 10 million Swedish kronor (more than US$1.1 million) prize money. He helped solidify the theoretical foundation for black hole physics in the 1960s by providing the seminal mathematical proof that black holes were a direct consequence of general relativity. Genzel is acting director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, while Ghez is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. They will each receive one-quarter of the prize money. Genzel and Ghez each lead astronomy groups that have mapped the orbits of stars closest to the center of our Milky Way—a region known as Sagittarius A*—giving us the best evidence to date that there is a supermassive black hole at our galaxy's center. That work was aided immeasurably by the development of advanced adaptive optics tools to counter the distorting effects of the Earth's atmosphere.Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Supporters of President Donald Trump wearing "QAnon" T-shirts wait in line before a campaign rally at Freedom Hall on October 1, 2018, in Johnson City, Tennessee. (credit: Getty Images | Sean Rayford ) Facebook is banning the QAnon conspiracy-theorist group, expanding on a policy that previously led to the removal of over 1,500 QAnon-related pages and groups. Starting in mid-August, Facebook removed QAnon pages and groups that contained discussions of potential violence. Today, Facebook said, "We believe these efforts need to be strengthened when addressing QAnon," and the company strengthened the ban so that it applies regardless of whether the pages and groups discuss violence. Facebook wrote:Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (credit: Sam Churchill) On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Oracle v. Google, a landmark case that considers whether application-programming interfaces can be protected by copyright. We first published this article about the case in early 2019, when Google asked the Supreme Court to consider the case. It has been edited to reflect the fact that oral arguments are this week. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in one of the decade's most significant software copyright decisions: the 2018 ruling by an appeals court that Google infringed Oracle's copyrights when Google created an independent implementation of the Java programming language. More broadly, the case could decide the copyright status of application-programming interfaces, with huge implications for the software industry. An application-programming interface is the glue that holds complex software systems together. Until 2014, it was widely assumed that no one could use copyright law to restrict APIs' use—a view that promoted software interoperability.Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Agrilife Today / Flickr) “Peak oil” is a familiar phrase that refers to the point when oil production ceases its steady upward climb and begins to decline. It has its roots in a mathematical curve proposed by geologist M. King Hubbert in the 1950s, which he applied to total US production. That same curve has been used to describe the depletion of groundwater in regions where water is replenished much too slowly for heavy use to be sustainable. In the United States, that famously includes the Ogallala Aquifer beneath the croplands of the High Plains region. Hubbert’s curve is fairly simple, rising and falling symmetrically on either side of the peak. More specific forecasts of “peak water” require a bit more sophistication. To capture that complexity while keeping things simple enough to easily generate a big-picture view, a new study led by Assaad Mrad at Duke University actually used some math that's similar to another familiar relationship: the predator-prey interactions of the food chain.Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 22 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Scientists doing what they do best. (credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images) Last week, the Pew Research Center released the results of a series of polls that explored how the populations of 20 different countries view science. While the Pew has the advantage of over a decade of data in some countries and large survey populations, it suffered a bit in terms of timing. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed science to the forefront of the news and policy discussions, and it gave everyone a personal interest in staying abreast of the latest medical advice. If anything were likely to change the public's views of science, the pandemic would seem to be it. And the Pew polled a bit too early to find out. But Pew isn't the only organization that does this sort of polling. Back in 2018, 3M (a company that hires lots of scientists and engineers) started started sharing the results of its own international surveys of public attitudes towards science. And by this year, the surveys had been running long enough to detect a general drop in trust toward science and scientists—at least prior to the pandemic. In response to COVID-19, however, 3M went back and did a second set of surveys and found that the trend was completely reversed, with trust in science showing a sudden rise.Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 23 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A Florida man wears a sticker indicating that he registered to vote. (credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Florida's secretary of state has extended the deadline for voter registration to 7pm today. Registration officially closed last night at midnight, but problems with the state's website prevented some Floridians from completing their registration in time. Laurel Lee, the Florida secretary of state appointed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, announced the change after noon on Tuesday, giving voters who missed the previous deadline less than seven hours to try again. Voting rights advocates sued Lee on Tuesday morning, arguing that the website problems had deprived Floridians of their right to vote. They pointed out that Florida's voter registration website has a history of crashing under heavy loads.Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 23 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A Verizon 5G Home router/receiver mounted on a window. (credit: Verizon) If you're hoping to get Verizon's 5G Home Internet service in the near future, you're probably out of luck—even if you live in one of the few cities where it's already deployed. More than two years after its unveiling, Verizon 5G Home is for sale in parts of eight cities, with an emphasis on "parts." PCMag's Sascha Segan used the 5G home service's address-lookup tool to find out how prevalent 5G Home is in areas that have Verizon 5G mobile access, and the results were disappointing. "Since the company doesn't offer a coverage map for its home service, we pumped more than 400 Chicago and Minneapolis addresses through the Verizon 5G Home address finder and discovered that the home service has even less coverage than the mobile service does," PCMag wrote in the article published yesterday. Segan's PCMag article includes several maps that show a large majority of houses in Verizon's 5G mobile coverage areas cannot get 5G Home. Verizon 5G mobile has limited reach to begin with because it relies on millimeter-wave frequencies that don't travel far and are easily blocked by walls. The ad industry's self-regulatory body recently urged Verizon to stop running ads that falsely imply the carrier's 5G mobile service is available throughout the United States because "Verizon's 5G coverage is primarily restricted to outdoor locations in certain neighborhoods and varies from block to block."Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 23 days ago on ars technica
Here's a schematic of the proposed Amur rocket. [credit: GK Launch Services ] On Wednesday Russia's state space corporation, Roscosmos, unveiled plans to develop a new "Amur" rocket. The booster will be powered by new and as yet undeveloped rocket engines that burn methane. Just as significantly, for the first time, Russia is seeking to build a reusable first stage. And Roscosmos is targeting a low price of just $22 million for a launch on Amur, which is advertised as being capable of delivering 10.5 tons to low-Earth orbit. "We would like our rocket to be reliable, like a Kalashnikov assault rifle," said Alexander Bloshenko, executive director of Roscosmos for Advanced Programs and Science.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 23 days ago on ars technica
Google Workspace, the new name for G Suite. [credit: Google ] Google's business productivity suite is getting its fourth brand in 14 years. This business app suite was originally called "Google Apps for Your Domain" when it launched in 2006, then "Google Apps for Work," then "G Suite" in 2016, and now it's "Google Workplace." Google says, "Our new Google Workspace brand reflects this more connected, helpful, and flexible experience, and our icons will reflect the same." Google's "more connected experience" shipped two months ago in Gmail, which got a merged interface with Google Chat, Meet, and Docs on the Web. For users of G Suite—erm, I mean "Google Workplace"—Gmail was turned into a one-stop productivity shop, with the ability to open chat rooms and documents right in the Gmail interface. As part of this announcement, Google Meet video chat is also coming to the individual Google document editors (Docs, Sheets, etc). Right now there is only text chat inside a document, but soon you'll be able to press a video chat button to collaborate.Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 23 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / John McAfee gesticulating on his yacht outside Havana, Cuba, during an interview with AFP in June 2019. (credit: Adalberto Roque | AFP | Getty Images) Noted cybersecurity eccentric John McAfee is under arrest in Spain awaiting extradition to the United States after being indicted on federal tax evasion charges. The Department of Justice unsealed the indictment (PDF) yesterday following McAfee's arrest by Spanish authorities at Barcelona's airport over the weekend. The filing alleges that McAfee deliberately not only avoided paying federal taxes from tax years 2014 through 2018 but also tried to hide considerable assets from the IRS. He allegedly hid those assets—including a yacht, a vehicle, real estate, bank accounts, and cryptocurrency—by purchasing and titling them under "the name of a nominee."Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 23 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Apple) Apple normally introduces each year's new iPhone model at a September event, but the iPhone was conspicuously missing from Apple's September 15 event this year. That event focused on other products, including a new iPad and a new Apple Watch. Now Apple has announced an October 13 event—that's a week from today—with the tagline "Hi, Speed." It will begin at 10am Pacific Time. The announcement doesn't specifically mention the iPhone, but it's a safe bet that Apple will introduce the new iPhone 12 lineup at the event. And we have a lot of information from fairly reliable sources about Apple's new phones. Here's how Ars Technica's Sam Axon described the expected lineup last month:Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 23 days ago on ars technica
This was an early access build of BG3, so we will not be focusing on glitches—just structural problems. [credit: Jim Salter ] When I got the chance to play Baldur's Gate 3 in early access, I jumped on it—I've been a Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast for roughly 40 years, going back to Blue Book Basic D&D as a small child in the late 1970s. To the best of my knowledge, I've played every licensed D&D and AD&D computer RPG ever made. They haven't all been winners, but the original Baldur's Gate was probably the most widely loved of the franchise—it boasted an expansive, interesting world with bold voice talent and characters. The new entry in the Baldur's Gate series is, unfortunately, not cut from the same cloth. The game's rendering engine is incredibly beautiful, but the characters it renders are shallow, trite, and frequently downright hateful—and the storyline, at least for the first 15 hours, is pretty similar. What this game misses the most is tabletop camaraderie—even the ersatz version you get from a good computer RPG. Even if lawful good and chaotic neutral characters butt heads on the other side of a DM's screen, an adventuring party should feel as though it has real bonds and a unified purpose. That sense of togetherness didn't emerge in the first 15 hours of Baldur's Gate 3—and maybe that matters more to me than to you, but I imagine I'm not alone in wanting a D&D quest to feel like a shared experience.Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 23 days ago on ars technica
The Dell U2421E UltraSharp 24-inch USB-C hub monitor. [credit: Dell ] Dell announced today that it is refreshing its lineup of UltraSharp monitors—part of the lineup, anyway—with new models arriving now and more trickling out through December. The most mainstream of the big new introductions is probably the UltraSharp 24 USB-C Hub Monitor (U2421E), which is available to order starting today at $449.99. As the name suggests, it's meant to double as a hub, so it can deliver up to 90W of power to your connected laptop, and it can daisy-chain with up to two additional monitors. Notably, the U2421E has a 16:10 aspect ratio as opposed to the usual 16:9 for a lot of monitors like this. The resolution is 1,920×1,200, and the refresh rate is 60Hz. Dell claims 99 percent sRGB coverage, a maximum brightness of 350 cd/m2, and a 1,000:1 typical contrast ratio. Ports include DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 1.4, USB-C, and USB.Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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