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Enlarge / Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong didn't have a good year, and that may soon help inspire a new TV series. (credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images) Sleepy Hollow showrunner Albert Kim will work on an untitled family drama for NBC featuring a cast almost entirely of Asian actors, The Hollywood Reporter reported today. Even though no pilot order has been made yet, the announcement carries significance given recent studies about the lack of Asian-American representation on TV (Masters of None, Dr. Ken, and Fresh Off the Boat represented the first three Asian-American-led shows since 1994, Deadline noted). The new project, however, caught attention for an additional reason—its subject matter. According to THR, the project loosely draws inspiration from real-world drama familiar to any tech industry watchers. "The untitled drama revolves around a family-owned Korean electronics corporation that is rocked when its CEO dies on the eve of launching their American subsidiary, with his will revealing the existence of a previously unknown heir," the site wrote. "Kim based the original concept on Korean chaebols, multinational business conglomerates like Samsung that are run by single ruling families that often go through succession drama." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Eliot Higgins / Twitter In now-deleted social media images, the Russian Ministry of Defense used what is almost certainly a screenshot from a mobile game as part of its supposed evidence that the United States military was supporting ISIS troops in Syria. The posts, which went up on Facebook and Twitter Tuesday morning, included pictures that the text described as "irrefutable evidence" of "direct cooperation and support provided by the US-led coalition to the ISIS terrorists." But as Kings College research associate Elliot Higgins noted on Twitter one of those pictures matches precisely with images found in an online trailer for AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron, a little-known mobile game from Byte Conveyor Studios. A warning from that trailer that the video was "Development footage / This is a work in progress / All content subject to change" was only partially cropped out of the Ministry of Defense posts, helping highlight the original source. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The 2018 Kia Stinger GT. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin) Every year there will be one or two new cars that generate a whole lot of buzz. Cars that generate hype. Cars that people who post on Internet forums salivate over. I'm not talking hand-built exotica with 600 horsepower and six-digit price tags; that kind of unobtanium might make for good desktop wallpaper or bedroom posters but few of us will ever be lucky enough to meet that kind of four-wheeled superstar. No, the kind of machine I'm talking about needs to be within reach of your average working stiff, but still far enough from the default to quicken the pulse. A car like the new Kia Stinger. We first saw the Kia Stinger at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. Since then it has been a regular on the auto show circuit, as well as popping up at various other events—and a whole load of Kia dealerships—but we've had to wait until now to get behind the wheel. In the meantime, it's built up quite a degree of hype. It's Kia's foray into the performance domain, the Korean OEM having concentrated until now on things like build quality and value for money. Those attributes will certainly win sales, but Kia wanted something with a little more passion, a halo car to get people excited. As you'll find out shortly, it was worth the wait. Sportbacks are in now The Stinger first began back in 2011 as the GT Concept, a four-door gran turismo inspired by vintage metal like the Maserati Ghibli, the sort of four-wheeled conveyance that could carry four adults and their luggage across a continent. It's a four-door sportback (my favorite!) design, styled by Gregory Guillaume at Kia's German design studio. As the man himself described it, "a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving, is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace.” It's something of a golden age for the performance sportback, what with Audi's S5 and Buick's Regal GS also available for similar money. I'm not quite sure why this design convergence has happened, but I hope it continues. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: MariaDB Foundation) NEW YORK CITY: On the first day of its Connect developer conference, Microsoft announced that it is joining the MariaDB Foundation, the group that oversees the development of the MariaDB database. Connect is Microsoft's other annual developer conference. The big conference, Build, takes place each spring and covers the breadth of Microsoft-related development, from Windows to Azure to Office to HoloLens. Connect has tended to have something of an open source, database, and cloud spin to it. At Connect last year, Microsoft announced that it was joining the Linux Foundation. In years prior, the company has used the event to announce the open sourcing of Visual Studio Code and, before that, .net. MariaDB is a fork of the MySQL database that's developed and maintained by many of the original MySQL contributors. In 2008, Sun Microsystems bought MySQL AB, the company that developed and created MySQL. In 2009, Oracle announced its plans to buy Sun, creating fear in the community about MySQL's future as a successful, community-developed, open-source project. To ensure that the database would continue development in spite of the purchase, the MariaDB fork was created in 2009. The subsequent development of MySQL arguably justifies those fears; while Oracle still publishes source code, the development itself happens behind closed doors, with minimal outside contributions. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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With Live Share (here in Visual Studio Code) you can see what the other person is looking at, from the comfort of your own IDE. (credit: Microsoft) NEW YORK—Decades after introducing IntelliSense, the code completion and information features that transform Visual Studio into something more than just a text editor, Microsoft is introducing something that it claims is just as exciting: Live Sharing. Collaboration is critical for many developers. Having another pair of eyes look over a problematic bug can offer insight that's proving elusive; tapping the knowledge of a seasoned veteran is an important source of training and education. Some developers advocate pair programming, a system of development where two people literally share a keyboard and take turns to drive, but most feel this is intrusive and inconvenient. Ad hoc huddles around a single screen are common but usually mean that one developer has to contend with the preferences of another, hindering their productivity. Screen sharing avoids the awkward seating but also means that the sharer either has a loss of control if they give the other person keyboard and mouse access, or, if they don't, it prevents the other person from taking the initiative. Live Share is Microsoft's solution. It provides a shared editing experience within Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code (currently only for JavaScript, TypeScript, and C#) that's similar to the shared editing found in word processors; each person can see the other's cursor and text selections; each person can make edits—but it goes further, by enabling shared debugging, too. A project can be launched under the debugger, and both people can see the call stack, examine in-scope variables, or even change values in the immediate window. Both sides can single step the debugger to advance through a program. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Artist’s impression of the planet Ross 128 b. (credit: ESO) Astronomers have discovered a planet 35 percent more massive than Earth in orbit around a red dwarf star just 11 light years from the Sun. The planet, Ross 128 b, likely exists at the edge of the small, relatively faint star's habitable zone even though it is 20 times closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun. The study in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics finds the best estimate for its surface temperature is between -60° and 20° C. This is not the closest Earth-size world that could potentially harbor liquid water on its surface—that title is held by Proxima Centauri b, which is less than 4.3 light years away from Earth, and located in the star system closest to the Sun. Even so, due to a variety of factors Ross 128 b is tied for fourth on a list of potentially most habitable exoplanets, with an Earth Similarity Index value of 0.86. In the new research, astronomers discuss another reason to believe that life might be more likely to exist on Ross 128 b. That's because its parent star, Ross 128, is a relatively quiet red dwarf star, producing fewer stellar flares than most other, similar-sized stars such as Proxima Centauri. Such flares may well sterilize any life that might develop on such a world. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Ron Amadeo Another six months, another LG flagship phone. Typically the V series has been LG's wacky, experimental line with an extra "ticker" screen on the front. This year, though, the V30 is all business. The ticker is gone in exchange for a slim-bezel device and a clean look. With the V30, LG is still basically following the same path that Samsung travels by shipping a heavily skinned phone with a glass back and slow updates. When you do all the same things as Samsung without the marketing budget, it's hard to stand out. Read 43 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Arrivo A Hyperloop-related startup called Arrivo is building a $15 million test center and test track in the Denver Metro area, with the blessing of the Colorado Department of Transportation (DOT). The deal will be the second Hyperloop-related project for Colorado, after startup Hyperloop One and engineering firm Aecom announced in September that they would begin feasibility studies for a Rocky Mountain Hyperloop that would extend from Pueblo, Colorado, to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Arrivo is headed by a name that may be familiar to Ars readers: Brogan BamBrogan. BamBrogan was an engineer at SpaceX and later the Chief Technology Officer at Hyperloop One. He quit, along with a small cadre of Hyperloop One executives, amid a flurry of lawsuits accusing the remaining executives on the Hyperloop One team of mismanagement and harassment. Hyperloop One sued back, accusing BamBrogan and his group of breaches of duty. The two sides quietly settled last November, and BamBrogan focused on building Arrivo while Hyperloop One moved forward with its Nevada test track. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Peter Thiel is serious. (credit: Getty | Alex Wong) Questionable herpes vaccine research backed by tech heavyweight Peter Thiel may have jeopardized $15 million in federal research funding to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. That’s according to documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request by The State Journal Register. In August, Kaiser Health News reported that Thiel and other conservative investors had contributed $7 million for the live-but-weakened herpes virus vaccine, developed by the late SIU researcher William Halford. The investments came after Halford and his private company, Rational Vaccines, had begun conducting small clinical trials in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. With the off-shore location, Rational Vaccines’ trial skirted federal regulations and standard safety protocols for human trials, including having approval and oversight from an institutional review board (IRB). Experts were quick to call the unapproved trial “patently unethical,” and researchers rejected the data from publication, calling the handling of safety issues “reckless.” The government of St. Kitts opened an investigation into the trial and reported that health authorities there had been kept in the dark. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Junglecat) The parents of a 39-year-old who died in a Christmas Eve confrontation with the Los Angeles Police Department in 2014 was awarded $5.5 million by a federal jury on Monday, KPCC radio reports. KPCC reports that LAPD officers "hit the man with their batons and fists, pepper sprayed and restrained him." An officer also stunned the man with a Taser six times in a row. He suffered a heart attack an hour later and died after two days. The coroner's report blamed an enlarged heart, cocaine use, and "police restraint with use of Taser." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / CompuServe brought millions of Americans "online" for the first time—before AOL and the Internet stomped it down. Now AOL is killing off CompuServe's venerable forums. (credit: CompuServe) In the 1980s and early 1990s, before America Online CDs clogged America's mailboxes and the word "Internet" had yet to be spoken by nearly anyone outside the tech world, CompuServe was the Internet for most people. Even as the Internet rose into more general awareness in 1994, CompuServe—aka CompuServe Information Service—was still how a significant majority of people in the US got "online." But AOL's move to a monthly subscription model instead of metered dial-up time in 1996 (plus something called the World Wide Web) was a death blow to CompuServe's dial-up business. WorldCom bought CompuServe's networks, and the information service ended up in the hands of AOL in 1998. Yet somehow, CompuServe's Forums, the venerable discussion platform of the dial-up era, have lived on—until now. As AOL and Yahoo become Oath, a Verizon Company, the last vestiges of CompuServe are finally being extinguished, Fast Company's Harry McCracken (one of the last CompuServe forum users on Earth) reports. In an e-mail message, the CompuServe team at AOL announced that CompuServe Forums—a somehow still-living archive of online discussions that largely predates even some of the cruftiest of Usenet groups—would be removed on December 15. "For more than two decades, the CompuServe Forums paved the way for a wide variety of topics," the e-mail stated, "and we appreciate all of the participation and comments you have provided over the years." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Aurich Lawson) The Federal Communications Commission will vote Thursday on a plan that, according to Chairman Ajit Pai, will strip away regulations that prevent telcos from upgrading their networks. But in doing so, the Republican-controlled FCC plans to eliminate a requirement that telcos provide Americans with service at least as good as the old copper networks that provide phone service and DSL Internet. The requirement relates to phone service but has an impact on broadband because the two services use the same networks. As carriers like AT&T and Verizon turn off copper networks throughout much of the country, many people fear that the networks won't be replaced with fiber or something of similar quality. That's why the FCC in 2014 created a "functional test" for carriers that seek permission to abandon copper networks. In short, carriers have to prove that the replacement service is just as good and provides the same capabilities as what's being discontinued. Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / This is not what a hacker looks like. Except on hacker cosplay night. (credit: Getty Images | Bill Hinton) Asking the crowd for help in fixing security problems is going mainstream. Microsoft, Facebook, and other tech giants have offered "bug bounties"—cash rewards or other prizes and recognition—to individuals discovering vulnerabilities in their products for years. (Ars even made it onto Google's security wall of fame in 2014 for reporting a Google search bug, though we didn't get a cash payout.) But now, with even the government embracing "bug bounty" programs in an attempt to close vulnerabilities in systems before attacks happen, companies that manage "crowdsourced" vulnerability-disclosure programs are starting to move deeper into more conservative corporate territory. And as they do, companies like HackerOne, Synack, and Bugcrowd are placed in the position of having to convince people who view all hackers as security risks that their vulnerability hunters come in peace, just as the ranks of their "crowds" of would-be white hats swell. To help cast a better light on its ranks, Bugcrowd today released numbers detailing the demographics of its 65,000-strong "crowd." That release is buttressed by a survey of 500 sample members that offers some insight into who exactly signs up to participate in the public and private bug bounty programs run by the company. And the sketch the "Mind of a Hacker 2.0" report provides of the vulnerability-hunting community is one you might have pieced together on your own if you spent any time at a security conference lately: increasingly experienced and professional, diverse (at least from a national origin standpoint), highly educated, and mostly under 30. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. (credit: Maurizio Pesce / Flickr) Tesla’s factory in Fremont is a “hotbed for racist behavior,” according to a a legal complaint filed in California's Alameda County Superior Court on Monday and reported by Bloomberg. Marcus Vaughn is an African-American who worked on Tesla’s factory floor from April to October of this year. Vaughn charges that workers and managers on the factory floor routinely used the n-word within his earshot. When he complained to the human resources department, Vaughn says, he was fired for “not having a positive attitude.” According to Bloomberg, Vaughn is seeking to be the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than 100 black Tesla workers. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Though the madness of Black Friday doesn't start in earnest for another week, today's list brings a few early gadget discounts, including Lenovo's 14-inch IdeaPad 510S marked down to $570. This notebook has been slashed a few times before, but in the notoriously fussy realm of budget laptops, you could probably do worse than a Core i7 (7th-gen) chip, a 1080p display, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD for less than $600. The rest of the roundup brings us savings on various 4K TVs, a nice discount on the 4GB RAM/64GB variant of Motorola's Moto G5 Plus, and three months of Amazon's Music Unlimited streaming service for a buck. There's more beyond that, including a look at the early Black Friday ads from various retailers, so take a peek at the full list below. Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Samuel Axon) The iPhone X's front-facing TrueDepth sensor array could be used for more than just Face ID authentication, and it fits neatly into Apple's broader march into augmented reality on the iPhone, but the iPhone X's rear camera still uses a combination of motion sensors and two rear cameras for AR. That could change in next year's iPhone; sources cited by Bloomberg claim that Apple plans to add 3D camera technology to the rear of next year's iPhone in addition to the TrueDepth array already on the iPhone X's front. The rear camera might not use the same technology as the TrueDepth sensor array used for Face ID on the front of the iPhone X, however. Rather, the rear array might use time-of-light sensors, which would map objects in 3D space by calculating how long it takes for light from its laser to bounce off of an object in its field of view. Bloomberg's sources say that adoption of this technology is not certain, but it seems to be what Apple is testing right now. The technology is in development at Sony, Panasonic, Infineon Technologies, and STMicroelectronics. In the iPhone X, Apple aligned the telephoto and wide-angle lens cameras on the back vertically (instead of horizontally, as on the iPhone 8 Plus) to make augmented reality applications more effective. But without a more advanced way to read and track 3D space, AR apps will remain limited. Unlike more robust hardware like Microsoft's HoloLens, the current iPhones' rear cameras can't deal well with surfaces that aren't flat. They can't even track when an object is obstructing the camera's view; current iPhone AR apps place an object in space relative to the flat surface but can't partially obscure it behind a real-world obstacle, for example. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Heather Bradley) The Republican attorney general of Missouri has launched an investigation into Google's business practices. Josh Hawley wants to know how Google handles user data. And he plans to look into whether Google is using its dominance in the search business to harm companies in other markets where Google competes. "There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind," Hawley said in a Monday statement. It's another sign of growing pressure Google is facing from the political right. Grassroots conservatives increasingly see Google as falling on the wrong side of the culture wars. So far that hasn't had a big impact in Washington policymaking. But with Hawley planning to run for the US Senate next year, we could see more Republican hostility toward Google—and perhaps other big technology companies—in the coming years. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Leguizamo and Hoskins wait to see if they'll be picked for the vocal cast. Nearly 25 years after a live-action version of the Mario Bros. first graced the silver screen, the studio behind Despicable Me and Minions is close to a deal to bring an animated Mario movie to theaters, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Illumination Entertainment, a subsidiary of Comcast-owned NBC Universal, is close to a licensing deal for the film rights to the Mario games, according to "people with knowledge of the discussions" cited by the WSJ. Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto would likely serve as a producer on the film, according to the report. Talks have been ongoing for about a year, and the parties are currently finalizing just how involved Nintendo itself would be in the creative approval process for the movie, according to the paper. The new report comes more than a year after Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima told the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper that the company was in talks with a number of movie studios to bring more of its popular characters to the big screen (in addition to the long-running Pokemon anime film and TV franchise). Nintendo is currently working with Universal to bring branded attractions to the company's worldwide theme parks, so there's some basis for the relationship there. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Sam Machkovech) The Amazon Music app has been around for years and has supported connecting to a number of external devices for music playback. But Google's Chromecast wasn't one of them until now. Amazon has quietly updated the Amazon Music app for Android to include Chromecast support, allowing Android users to shoot music from their device to a nearby Chromecast. The feature was first spotted earlier this month by TechHive when it was mid-rollout. Not all Android users had the ability to connect Amazon Music to a Chromecast at that point, but now it appears the new feature is official. The Amazon Music app page in the Google Play Store includes this update under the What's New section: "Chromecast Support: You can now select music on your Android device and have the music play on your Chromecast enabled devices." The app was last updated November 13, 2017. The Android app could already connect to other Bluetooth devices, but Chromecast support had not been enabled until now. Those Android users who primarily use a Chromecast for all their casting needs will now be able to easily play music from the Amazon Music mobile app through their TV/speaker setup. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The first vineyards probably weren't this orderly and certainly lacked the barn. (credit: New York State) PIiny the Elder knew that truth comes out in it. Aeschylus called it the mirror of the mind. Robert Louis Stevenson said it was bottled poetry. Mark Twain compared the books of great geniuses to it. It is no wonder that wine—which perfectly complements food, inhibits inhibitions, and alters perceptions—has been inseparable from civilization from time immemorial. But when, exactly, "immemorial" started is still being investigated. The absolute earliest confirmation of grape wine production, at about 7000 BCE, actually comes from China. But wine production started in the Near East. Canaanites brought it to Egypt by 3000 BCE, and from there it eventually swept through Europe. The earliest evidence of Neolithic Near Eastern wine had been from 5400-5000 BCE in the northwestern Zagros mountains of Iran. Now, new evidence pushes the start date about five hundred years back and a thousand kilometers north, to 6000-5800 BCE in the South Caucasus. Back in the 1960s, a pottery sherd (not a typo—it’s the word archaeologists use for shards, for some reason) from a dig near Tbilisi tested positive for tartaric acid. That's the principal biomarker for wine, as it's not present in most fruits but is the most abundant acid in grapes. But in the 1960s it was standard practice to wash sherds in hydrochloric acid, and, anyway, this sherd was found on the surface, so who knows what it was exposed to in the environment. Point is, this was not the most reliable of artifacts. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Getty | BSIP) The Food and Drug Administration announced its approval Monday for the first digital medicine—a melding of a long-standing drug for schizophrenia—Abilify (aripiprazole tablets)—with an edible sensor that reports when it’s ingested. Together, they make Abilify MyCite. Though the approval is a long time coming, the choice of an antipsychotic medicine for this advance is raising the eyebrows of some experts. The digital ingestion tracking system works by embedding each Abilify tablet with a sensor “the size of a grain of sand,” according to the company behind it, Proteus Digital Health. The ingestible sensor is activated by gastric juices and sends a unique, identifying signal to a wearable patch. That patch automatically logs the date and time of the signal (as well as other basic health information) and can transmit that information via Bluetooth to a paired mobile device. The patient can sign consent forms to allow their doctors and up to four other people to receive the data. But, the app that works with the digital drug system allows patients to revoke access to data at any time. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The OnePlus 5. (credit: Ron Amadeo) A Twitter user by the name "Elliot Alderson"‏ has discovered a root backdoor in OnePlus devices—one that has apparently been shipping for years. OnePlus has been shipping a Qualcomm engineering APK (an Android app file) in its devices, which with a few commands, can root a device. The app—called "EngineerMode"—is partially exposed to users through a secret "*#808#" dialer command, and you can also launch the full app through an Android activity launcher or the command line. The app contains production-line tests for various phone components, a root checker, and lots of information readouts. The important part, though, is a "DiagEnabled" activity with a method called "escalatedUp." If this is set to "true," the app will allow root access over Android Debug Bridge, Android's command-line developer tools. The method for gaining root is password protected, but the password lasted all of three hours once the method was discovered. With the help of David Weinstein and the Now Secure team, the group discovered the magic word is "angela," which is possibly another Mr. Robot reference, just like the "Elliot Alderson" handle. (We swear this is real and not a Mr. Robot AGR.) Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The control center has a new interface for adjusting brightness. Unbeknownst to many, the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi toggles in the Control Center in iOS 11 don't do what you expect. Rather than completely disabling those features, they only partially disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. To clear up any confusion, Apple appears to have added explainer pop-up messages when either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is toggled off, as first detailed in a report by MacRumors. The messages appear in the newest iOS 11.2 beta and they explain that both features will only be temporarily disabled when turned off from their Control Center toggles. The first time a user turns off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi from the Control Center on their device, they'll see a pop-up window that will say "disconnecting nearby Wi-Fi until tomorrow" or "disconnecting Bluetooth accessories until tomorrow." The messages also explain that both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are not totally disconnected in this case, however, they will still function to allow some features and devices to work with that iDevice. Bluetooth will still be available for the Apple Watch, Apple Pencil, Personal Hotspot, and Handoff, while Wi-Fi will still be on for AirDrop, Personal Hotspot, and location accuracy. While the Control Center toggles turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi temporarily, there are a few cases detailed in an Apple support document that will turn both features back on automatically. Wi-Fi will turn back on when you connect to a Wi-Fi network via the Settings app; when you walk or drive to a new location; when it's 5am local time; or when you restart your device. Bluetooth is similar: the feature will turn back on when you connect to a Bluetooth device via the Settings app; when it's 5am local time; or when you restart your device. In order to fully disable Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you'll have to use the dedicated toggles in the Settings app. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Much like this space-defense mission, EA's launch plans for the Star Wars: Battlefront II economy seem to be blowing up. (credit: EA/DICE) Before we deliver a proper verdict for Star Wars: Battlefront II, we want to take a moment to talk about the game's troubling, multilayered economy. The online multiplayer shooter is now officially available for paying EA Access subscribers, which offers a 10-hour trial of the game ahead of its November 16 launch on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Fans are already biting into that game-economy burrito, and it sure seems like a seven-layer thing, made up of loot boxes, battle points, credits, crystals, crafting parts, and star cards (which themselves come in two types and four tiers). The whole thing already looks confusing and messy, and fans have pointed out major issues with how the economy debuted in the game's paid EA Access launch this weekend. EA has since responded to fans' most heated complaints, both in ridiculous and seemingly sensible ways. But even EA's best response belies a glaring truth: nothing short of a full rewrite will undo the damage of real money to Battlefront II's gameplay mechanics. Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Firefox is fast now. (credit: Mozilla) Mozilla is working on a major overhaul of its Firefox browser, and, with the general release of Firefox 57 today, has reached a major milestone. The version of the browser coming out today has a sleek new interface and, under the hood, major performance enhancements, with Mozilla claiming that it's as much as twice as fast as it was a year ago. Not only should it be faster to load and render pages, but its user interface should remain quick and responsive even under heavy load with hundreds of tabs. Collectively, the performance work being done to modernize Firefox is called Project Quantum. We took a closer look at Quantum back when Firefox 57 hit the developer channel in September, but the short version is, Mozilla is rebuilding core parts of the browser, such as how it handles CSS stylesheets, how it draws pages on-screen, and how it uses the GPU. This work is being motivated by a few things. First, the Web has changed since many parts of Firefox were initially designed and developed; pages are more dynamic in structure and applications are richer and more graphically intensive. JavaScript is also more complex and difficult to debug. Second, computers now have many cores and simultaneous threads, giving them much greater scope to work in parallel. And security remains a pressing concern, prompting the use of new techniques to protect against exploitation. Some of the rebuilt portions are even using Mozilla's new Rust programming language, which is designed to offer improved security compared to C++. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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