posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Google's screenshot looks nothing like the current Android P build, and exists in a halfway point between Android and the iPhone X. It looks like Google just leaked a major new feature of Android P in a blog post. The post, which recaps a security feature, contained a screenshot of the DNS settings with a navigation bar that we hadn't seen before. The explanation from the rumor mill is that this is Android's upcoming iPhone X-style gesture navigation. The full-size Google screenshot. The navigation bar in Google's screenshot is nothing like what you see on Android today. The blue color scheme indicates that the phone is running the Pixel theme, so the back button should be solid white. Instead, it's rendered in the old hollow style. The home button is a pill shape instead of circular. The Recent Apps button, which is normally a square, is totally missing. After talking it out with the Android Twitter crew, 9to5Google's Stephen Hall said he's heard from sources that this is "100 percent" Android gesture navigation and that the back button is supposed to hide itself. If you wipe out the back button from this picture and call the pill-shaped home button a gesture indicator, you have something that looks exactly like the iPhone X's gesture navigation system. In Google's screenshot, a dialog box is open, so the theory is that in this (in-development, subject-to-change) build of Android, a back button pops up only when a dialog box is open and the button would normally disappear. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / One voice is amplified, the other is muted. (credit: YouTube) Google researchers have developed a deep-learning system designed to help computers better identify and isolate individual voices within a noisy environment. As noted in a post on the company's Google Research Blog this week, a team within the tech giant attempted to replicate the cocktail party effect, or the human brain's ability to focus on one source of audio while filtering out others—just as you would while talking to a friend at a party. Google's method uses an audio-visual model, so it is primarily focused on isolating voices in videos. The company posted a number of YouTube videos showing the tech in action: Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Eric Bangeman White Castle is known for a lot of things, but serving delicious and nutritious food is not one of them. But when word made it to the Orbiting HQ that the oldest fast food chain in the United States was now dishing up Impossible Burgers, we decided we needed to investigate. The White Castle-Impossible Burger partnership is an unlikely one, to be sure. The former is perhaps best known for being the last step in finalizing a massive hangover as well as the intended destination of a hungry duo seeking late-night sustenance. The latter is a plant-based burger that "bleeds," sears, and even purports to taste like a beef-based burger. Earlier this year, a few of my colleagues ventured out to a DC-area burger joint to taste-test the Impossible Burger. The reviews were mixed, with the highest praise coming from Tim Lee, who called it a "convincing imitation" of the real thing. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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TechCrunch Gmail.com is soon getting its first redesign in seven years, and with that new look comes some new features. We've already heard about new side panels for Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Google Tasks, and now we're getting word of another new feature: self-destructing emails. TechCrunch has screenshots detailing the feature from the pre-release version of Gmail. In the compose window, there's a new lock icon called "Confidential Mode." When clicked, a message pops up saying, "Options to forward, download or copy this email's contents and attachments will be disabled." The sender can then pick an expiration date for the email, and optionally require an SMS passcode to open the email. The compose window also switches to a blue color scheme, letting the user know they're not just sending a normal message. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 13: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H leaves the garage during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 13, 2018 in Shanghai, China. (credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images) When the 2018 Formula 1 season got underway in March in Australia, its long-awaited streaming service was conspicuously absent. Embracing the 21st century and adding an Internet streaming option was a major goal of Liberty Media, the sport's new owners. But that was easier said than done. Under the previous regime, the same broadcasters who carried the races on TV also got the local streaming rights. These were all geofenced, and they precluded the sport from offering its own competing product. But as those contracts expire, Liberty has been working to fix things. New broadcast contracts no longer include local Internet streaming rights—a major reason NBC dropped the series here in the US. As each region allows, Liberty will offer two different streaming options: F1 TV Access, which is free, and F1 TV Pro, which will cost between $8-$12 a race depending on where you live. It's unclear from the announcement whether there will be a race-by-race option or if you must sign up for a whole season—which would cost between $70 and $150. The free service will include live timing and audio commentary, as well as extended video highlights. F1 TV Pro will have full video of every race, including video feeds from all 20 of the cars. And now we have a launch date: after missing the first few rounds of the championship—it seems the company needed time to stress-test everything—the service will launch at the Spanish Grand Prix, running May 11-13. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Some of the equipment (and a team member) that made this new work possible. (credit: Holger Müller lab) Measurements in physics are funny things. You'd hope that attempts to quantify some of the fundamental properties of the Universe would follow a simple pattern: they'd start with large error bars, but, over time, measuring technology improves and the error bars shrink. Ideally, the value would then remain nicely within the previous error. It almost never really works like that. In many cases, measurements cluster together for a while before a new set makes a leap to somewhere else, outside the error bounds. And, even as technology improves, some sets of error bars stubbornly refuse to overlap. A new paper out this week indicates that this is the case with the Fine Structure Constant, which describes the strength of the electromagnetic force. But instead of chalking it up to the vagaries of measurement, the researchers suggest that the difference could be real—and it tells us something about what physics might lie beyond the Standard Model. Mighty fine The Fine Structure Constant is a measure of electromagnetic force, and that force shows up in a large number of phenomena. This means there are plenty of ways to do measurements that tell us something about the value of the Fine Structure Constant. When it comes to high-precision measurements, researchers have come up with two different ways of doing it. The first relies on particle physics, and direct measurements of the magnetic properties of the electron. The second has been to study how atoms interact with light. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Mazda) I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it has never been easier to get into motorsport. A plethora of grassroots endurance racing series have sprung up in recent years, making wheel-to-wheel racing cheaper than it has been in decades. However, even this route isn't exactly cheap; in addition to your safety gear you'll still need to either build a car to the rules or rent a seat in one. For those without the mechanical skills, space, or budget to build their own race car, there are still other options: video games. After all, unlike most other games, a good racing game teaches you skills that do translate well to the real thing. Arguably, it all started in 2008 with the first Nissan Playstation GT Academy, which used Gran Turismo to find new racing talent. GT Academy proved the concept, and, as racing games have improved, more and more motorsports programs have started taking the idea seriously. Perhaps the best example is McLaren's World's Fastest Gamer competition, the winner of which got a contract as the Formula 1 team's latest simulator test driver. Mazda is the latest company to give it a go; the winner of its new Hot Lap Challenge will get a test next Spring in the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car. There are two ways to win. Starting on Friday (April 13) at the Long Beach Grand Prix in California, Mazda is holding seven "at-track" qualifying rounds, bringing two simulators running iRacing to each race for that purpose. Whoever sets the fastest overall lap across those seven weekends wins a trip to the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona and becomes a finalist for the race car test. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Ryzen die shot. (credit: AMD) The second generation of AMD Ryzen desktop processors opens for preorders today. Shipping on April 19th, the new chips start at $199 for a six-core, 12-thread part running at a base of 3.4GHz and a turbo of 3.9GHz; the prices goes up to $329 for an eight-core, 16-thread processor at 3.7/4.3GHz. Details on the new chips are a little light, with the full reveal, including performance numbers, coming on release day. We know that the second-generation processors are an incremental improvement over the first-generation Zen architecture that keep the same basic layout: groups of four cores/eight threads are arranged into "core complexes" (CCXes), and a Ryzen chip has two CCXes joined together. Each core has 512KB of level 2 and 2MB of level 3 cache. The second generation increases clock speeds (the previous high-end part had clocks of 3.6/4.0GHz) and makes the processor's turbo boosting smarter. On first-generation parts, the clock boosting could happen to a pair of cores, or all cores together, which meant that if you needed, say, four fast cores they were constrained to the "all core" turbo speed. On the second-generation chips, that turbo boosting is now available with any number of cores, just as long as there's power and thermal headroom. This means that workloads with more than two cores, but fewer than all of them, should be able to use more of the available power budget and hence run faster. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / No, this Lost in Space moment between Will Robinson and his new robot friend isn't followed by a joyous devouring of Reese's Pieces. (credit: Netflix) My patience with Netflix's new Lost in Space reboot ran out at roughly halfway through its first season. The new series' action, dialogue, and plot had ranged from serviceable to truly solid up to that point, and I found myself largely surprised by this family-friendly take on sci-fi survival television. But the custodians of this new Lost in Space, whose first ten episodes are now live on Netflix, aim too high. Gone is the obvious wink-to-camera cheese that made the original '60s show such an embedded piece of the American TV zeitgeist. In its place, we have a serious family drama wrapped up in a hyperspace landing on a distant galaxy. The reboot's best moments—and it definitely has some good ones—are about its heartfelt characters. The same can be said for the worst ones. As a result, a single wave of logic- and rationale-breaking moments take down far too much of Lost in Space's foundation. If that sounds like a dealbreaker to you, then the rest of the show's solid sci-fi world-building, Lost-like character building, and particularly good teen acting may also fail to keep you engaged beyond that same half-season point. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / “This world doesn‘t belong to you. It belongs to us.” (credit: HBO) Ars was on the list of sites to receive advance screeners for the first five episodes of Westworld’s second season, and this preview was written after having watched those episodes. This piece will not spoil anything for Westworld’s second season (with the exception of referencing a few scenes in the season two trailers), but it does assume total familiarity with all of the first season’s twists. There will be season one spoilers galore. Reader beware! All right, everybody. Bring yourselves back online. Here we go. Westworld’s second season premieres on the evening of April 22, and to call the premiere “anticipated” would be substantially underselling things—though I might just be projecting my own feelings, based on how much I loved the first season. (I loved it a lot, even though you can listen to me being ultra-wrong about several theories on our first-season podcast). Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Scott Pruitt during his confirmation hearings. (credit: Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images) Two Democratic senators have written a formal letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s internal watchdog, asking a basic question: how many email accounts does Administrator Scott Pruitt have? “Our offices have received information indicating that the Administrator uses three different secret epa.gov email addresses in addition to his official email address: [email protected],” the senators wrote in a letter sent to the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General and first published by The Washington Post. “It is imperative that there be an investigation into whether the agency has properly searched these email addresses for responsive documents in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.” Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images) Carl Ferrer, the co-founder of Backpage, the notorious and now-shuttered site that once hosted a vast quantity of prostitution-related ads, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges. The CEO, in a federal plea agreement unsealed in federal court in Arizona on Thursday, admitted that during the 14 years of the site’s existence, "the great majority" of Backpage's allegedly hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue came from placing illegal ads for prostitution. The deal was made public just three days after Backpage was seized, and seven men allegedly involved in creating and operating Backpage were indicted on prostitution and money laundering charges. Ferrer’s name did not appear in that indictment. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Various configurations of the SLS rocket. (credit: NASA) NASA will likely launch its first astronauts into deep space since the Apollo program on a less powerful version of its Space Launch System rocket than originally planned. Although it has not been officially announced, in recent weeks mission planners at the space agency have begun designing "Exploration Mission 2" to be launched on the Block 1 version of the SLS rocket, which has the capability to lift 70 tons to low Earth orbit. On Thursday, during a Congressional hearing, the agency's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, confirmed that NASA is seriously considering launching humans to the Moon on the Block 1 SLS. "We'll change the mission profile if we fly humans and we use the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), because we can't do what we could do if we have the Exploration Upper Stage," Lightfoot said. The key difference between the original configuration of the SLS rocket—which NASA has spent more than $10 billion developing since 2011—and its successor is the upper stage that sits atop the booster. Under current plans, the weaker upper stage, known as the ICPS, was to fly only once—on the maiden flight of the SLS rocket in 2020. Then, NASA was to switch to a new, much more powerful second stage that would increase the SLS rocket's overall performance by about 50 percent. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The Goldman Sachs bank logo is seen reflected on the screen of a mobile phone in this photo illustration on November 15, 2017. (credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) One-shot cures for diseases are not great for business—more specifically, they’re bad for longterm profits—Goldman Sachs analysts noted in an April 10 report for biotech clients, first reported by CNBC. The investment banks’ report, titled “The Genome Revolution,” asks clients the touchy question: “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” The answer is “no,” according to follow-up information provided. Analyst Salveen Richter and colleagues laid it out: Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks to the media after the vote to repeal net neutrality rules on December 14, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Alex Wong ) Democratic lawmakers yesterday followed in President Trump's footsteps by asking the Federal Communications Commission to consider revoking licenses from a broadcaster. While Trump called for the FCC to consider revoking NBC licenses because of "fake news" in October 2017, Senate Democrats asked Pai yesterday to consider revoking licenses from the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai shot the request down, telling Democrats that he will stand up for First Amendment press freedoms and that the FCC doesn't have the authority to revoke licenses based on the content of newscasts. Pai said much the same after Trump made his statement regarding NBC—but there were some notable differences between Pai's response to the Trump incident and this week's dispute with Democrats. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Elon Musk unveiling the Model X in 2012. (credit: Tim Rue/Corbis via Getty Images) The National Transportation Safety Board announced Thursday that it has revoked Tesla's status as a party to its investigation of a fatal Model X crash in Mountain View, California last month. Being a party to an investigation allows a company to fully participate in the investigation process, sharing information with the agency and viewing information uncovered by NTSB while the investigation is still ongoing. For example, Uber is working with the NTSB to investigate the cause of last month's fatal self-driving car crash in Tempe, Arizona. But parties must agree to respect the confidentiality of the process while it's underway, and the agency says that Tesla has broken that agreement with recent comments about the Mountain View crash. In a statement this week to Silicon Valley television station ABC 7, for example, Tesla argued that the crash occurred because driver Walter Huang "was not paying attention to the road." Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Luke Woodham (left) is a professional drift racer. Theo Thomas (right) is a gamer and vlogger. They both raced on an off-road track in real cars but without being able to see out the windshield. (credit: Castrol / EA Games) I don't know about you, but when I play racing games—which I do quite often—I'm quite particular about which camera angle I use. It's almost exclusively the "front bumper cam" these days; after several years using the in-car view (where offered), I've found I'm just that bit faster without peering through a simulated windshield. It's a POV I came to love in the first Gran Turismo game two decades ago, and, for me, it remains the best. I've never been able to come to grips with the "over the shoulder" external view, where a camera is above and behind your car—it just feels so unnatural, especially if I'm using a steering wheel and pedals. So I'd probably have fared pretty badly in this challenge between a professional drift racer and a prolific gamer, organized by Castrol and Need For Speed Payback. A brief disclaimer: yes, at the end of the day this stunt is an advert for Castrol's products and the latest NFS game, but that doesn't make it any less cool. It involved Luke Woodham, a pro drift racer who competes in Europe, and Theo Thomas, a gamer with a sizable following on YouTube. They competed to see who could set a faster time in a point-to-point race across a dirt road in the desert, using identical Ford Mustangs. But there was a catch—all the windows on the cars were blacked out. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Windows Admin Center Announced last year as Project Honolulu, Microsoft today released Windows Admin Center, the new Web-based graphical administrative interface for Windows systems. Admin Center is intended to provide a common interface for remote management of Windows machines running Windows Server (2012 or newer) or Windows 10, whether on physical hardware, virtual hardware, or in the cloud. Admin Center is built to offer a common remote admin interface that replaces the mess of MMC applets, control panels, settings apps, and dashboards that are currently used to graphically configure and maintain Windows machines. It operates at the server, failover cluster, and hyper-converged infrastructure level. The intent behind Admin Center is that it should replace the mix of remote and local admin tools that are used for ad hoc administrative tasks, many of which might traditionally be done with Remote Desktop. To that end, it has interfaces for tasks such as registry editing, managing network settings, listing and ending processes, and managing hardware. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The Uber ride-sharing app is seen on a mobile phone on February 12, 2018. (credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) The Federal Trade Commission will expand its oversight of Uber following the disclosure of its improper withholding of a 2016 security breach that exposed sensitive data for more than 25 million users. The ride-hailing service was already bound to an agreement reached last year requiring it to undergo privacy audits every two years for the next two decades. The settlement also required Uber to implement a comprehensive privacy program that protected the personal information the company collected. The 2017 agreement settled FTC charges that Uber misrepresented the level of access its employees had to user data and the steps it took to secure that data. Following reports in 2014 that Uber employees used an administrative tool internally dubbed God-view to monitor active Uber cars and customers—and sometimes observed specific users' locations for amusement—Uber promised to use a newly created system to monitor and restrict employee access to such information. Last year's FTC charges stemmed, in part, from Uber ending use of that system less than a year after it was put in place. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Amazon on Thursday announced it has sealed its acquisition of smart home device-maker Ring, and to celebrate, the company is doing a very Amazon thing and slashing the price of its latest gadget. The company now lists the original Ring Video Doorbell for $99, which is about $80 off its going rate over the last few months. Now, this isn't the most robust video doorbell on the market—or even in Ring's lineup—but it still does the basics of video doorbell-ing well enough for those new to this type of device. It shoots in 720p, it's relatively easy to set up, with its own rechargeable battery, and it works with Amazon's Alexa assistant. Ring still requires you to pay a $3 a month (or $30 a year) subscription if you want to record videos and view them back in the cloud, which is a bummer, but the lowered starting price does make up for that somewhat. Also note that you may have to wait a few extra days for some color options to ship as of this writing; the $100 price is locked in either way, though. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / That's Kubrick Mons to you, sir! (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute) On Wednesday, the International Astronomical Union officially announced the names of features on Pluto's moon Charon. The features were revealed when the New Horizons probe shot past Pluto and its five moons, and the names were provided by the public. While astronomers working on the New Horizons data had been using the monikers provisionally, the IAU's announcement makes them formal designations that will be used in all scientific publications about Charon. While four of Pluto's moons are so small that New Horizons captured them as pixellated blobs, Charon is quite different. And, while all moons and their planets orbit a common center of gravity, usually the size difference is large enough that the center of gravity resides inside the planet. The Pluto-Charon system is the big exception, as the size difference between the two is small enough that Pluto orbits a point that's located outside the dwarf planet's radius. That makes Charon one of the largest bodies among the icy worlds of the Kuiper Belt, and it's the second largest body we've gotten a detailed look at. While Charon doesn't seem to be as dynamic as Pluto, it does have many notable features, including large peaks, deep canyons, and massive craters, as well as a dusting of material that has evaporated off Pluto. In 2015, the public was invited to give these names; the New Horizons team informally adopted a number of suggestions, and the IAU has made them official. The theme of the names centers around travel and exploration, often (but not always) with a connection to the underworld or the deeps. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Book Catalog) Facebook recently teamed up with Google, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon in order to kill a privacy law that's being considered in California. The five companies each donated $200,000 to create a $1 million fund to oppose the California Consumer Privacy Act, a ballot question that could be voted on in the November 2018 state election. If approved, the law would make it easier for consumers to find out what information is collected about them and to opt out of the sale or sharing of any personal information. But as Facebook handles the fallout from a privacy breach affecting up to 87 million users, the social network is dropping its public opposition to the proposed privacy law and won't donate any more money to the opposition. Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Sweet potatoes growing in a field. (credit: Robert Scotland) Sweet potatoes are a staple food crop in most of the world today, but they're also a bit of an enigma. We don't know for sure how or when they evolved from their closest wild relatives or whether humans were involved. A new genetic study answers some of those burning questions about the sweet potato's past, and, in the process, it casts some doubt on a popular idea about pre-Columbian sea travel between the Americas and the islands of Polynesia. Pre-Columbian cultural exchange? A few tantalizing threads of evidence have emerged over the years to suggest that the people of the Polynesian Islands and the people of the Americas could have maintained at least sporadic contact with each other long before Europeans arrived in either place. None of that evidence has stood up to much scrutiny, though—except for one fact: sweet potatoes, a crop native to Central and South America, had already firmly taken root in the islands of Polynesia by the time Europeans arrived. It seemed logical that someone must have carried them across the Pacific. But a new study says sweet potatoes actually reached the islands long before there were even people in the Americas—at least 111,500 years ago, and possibly even earlier. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Verge Red alert, people! Gmail is being redesigned. Google sent out an email to G Suite administrators warning them a "fresh, clean look" would be coming to Gmail.com soon. Shortly after the email went out, leaked pictures of the design were posted to Android Authority and The Verge, so we have a ton of pictures to obsess over. So let's dive in. The existing Gmail for Web design is one of Google's oldest, dating all the way back to 2011. While some Google services seem to get a redesign every year or two (like YouTube) the lack of a redesign for Gmail always felt more like it stemmed from a "fear of screwing it up" than anything else. Some people who live inside Gmail will be very vocal if Google breaks anything. Even the 2011 redesign did not go over well. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Artist's conception of Mitchell reacting to the news (actually a parody of Mitchell featured in a Regular Show cartoon, but still...) Twin Galaxies, the long-running video game high score tracker recognized by Guinness World Records, has banned Billy Mitchell and removed all of his past scores from its listings after determining that two million-plus-point Donkey Kong performances he submitted were actually created with an emulator and not on original arcade hardware as he consistently claimed. The move means that the organization now recognizes Steve Wiebe as the first player to achieve a million-point game in Donkey Kong, a question central to the 2007 cult classic documentary The King of Kong. Nearly two months ago, Mitchell's scores were also removed from the leaderboards at Donkey Kong Forum. Forum moderator Jeremy "Xelnia" Young cited frame-by-frame analysis of the board transitions in Mitchell's Donkey Kong tapes, which showed visual artifacts suggesting they were generated by early versions of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) and not original Donkey Kong arcade hardware. After checking Mitchell's original submitted score tapes and "meticulously test[ing] and investigat[ing] the dispute case assertions as well as a number of relevant contingent factors," the Twin Galaxies administration unanimously determined that two of Mitchell's disputed scores were created by an emulator: A 1.047 million point performance that was highlighted in The King of Kong and a 1.05 million point score achieved at a Mortgage Brokers convention in 2007. Twin Galaxies wasn't able to make a definitive determination on a third, 1.06 million point score Mitchell claimed to have at Florida's Boomers arcade in 2010. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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