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Enlarge / We'll keep the cloud on for you. (credit: Lunera) The Internet of Things is a powerful concept, especially in the industrial world—but it's also full of potential security disasters and hidden computing and networking costs. But what if all you had to do to create a secure network of distributed Linux systems—complete with location awareness and custom application support capable of supporting location-based applications like asset tracking, robotic delivery, and "smart rooms"—was to change the lightbulbs? That's the concept behind Lunera's Smart Lamps. These LED-based replacements for fluorescent and other commercial lighting systems also have a full Linux server with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, 2 gigabytes of RAM, and 2 gigabytes of Flash storage embedded in their end-caps. The Bluetooth capability includes iBeacon micro-location services—enabling retail, medical, and industrial location services. And the Wi-Fi "enables Wi-Fi network monitoring and also extending the Wi-Fi mesh," CEO John Bruggeman explained in an interview with Ars. "Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are like electricity and water for the digital experience." Lunera had previously shipped LED replacements for commercial lighting system tubes and lamps, including fluorescent and high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs. But the new Smart Lamps carry quad-core, 700 MhZ ARM-based processors with memory and storage on the same die. Configurable with a mobile application and controlled through a cloud portal via a dedicated virtual private network, Lunera's smart lamps can sense each other and create a location-sensitive wireless network mesh using Bluetooth iBeacons—a mesh that can be mapped to CAD drawings of commercial facilities' lighting systems. And these lamps can run Docker containers, allowing anyone to develop applications that leverage location and Wi-Fi services and what Bruggeman describes as "ambient compute services." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A Google Fiber installation box in Kansas City, Kansas. (credit: Julie Denesha/Bloomberg via Getty Images) Google Fiber's gigabit Internet service has consistently been priced at $70 a month since it launched in 2012, but it's now available for just $55 in the ISP's latest city. Google Fiber in San Antonio, Texas comes in just one speed tier, offering 1Gbps download and upload speeds at the rate of $55 a month. Google Fiber charges $70 a month for standalone gigabit service in all other cities where it offers wired Internet service. "[I]n San Antonio, we've priced our Fiber 1000 (1,000Mbps) service at $55 per month," Google Fiber said in an announcement yesterday. "There's no installation fee, no hidden fees, no contracts, and no data caps." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Norwich University) In a world where accusations of "fake news" are thrown around essentially at random, critical thinking would seem to be a must. But this is also a world where the Moon landings are viewed as a conspiracy and people voice serious doubts about the Earth's roundness. Critical thinking appears to be in short supply at a time we desperately need it. One of the proposed solutions to this issue is to incorporate more critical thinking into our education system. But critical thinking is more than just a skill set; you have to recognize when to apply it, do so effectively, and then know how to respond to the results. Understanding what makes a person effective at analyzing fake news and conspiracy theories has to take all of this into account. A small step toward that understanding comes from a recently released paper, which looks at how analytical thinking and motivated skepticism interact to make someone an effective critical thinker. Valuing rationality The work comes courtesy of the University of Illinois at Chicago's Tomas Ståhl and Jan-Willem van Prooijen at VU Amsterdam. This isn't the first time we've heard from Ståhl; last year, he published a paper on what he termed "moralizing epistemic rationality." In it, he looked at people's thoughts on the place critical thinking should occupy in their lives. The research identified two classes of individuals: those who valued their own engagement with critical thinking, and those who viewed it as a moral imperative that everyone engage in this sort of analysis. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Andrew Brookes) The broadband industry is stepping up its attack on states that dare to impose privacy or net neutrality rules on Internet service providers. Mobile industry lobby group CTIA urged the Federal Communications Commission to preempt state laws on privacy and net neutrality in a recent meeting and filing. Comcast and Verizon had already asked the FCC to preempt such laws; CTIA represents AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile USA, Sprint, and other mobile companies. Carriers are urging the FCC to preempt states in the same regulatory proceeding that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai started in order to overturn the commission's net neutrality rules. Pai's proposal to eliminate net neutrality rules could be passed as soon as next month—if carriers get their way, that same order will prevent states from imposing their own laws. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The new $100 Amazon Echo. (credit: Valentina Palladino) It has been a while coming. Amazon launched its Alexa virtual assistant and smart device platform in Canada today. In tandem with Alexa, Amazon is now shipping three devices there—the Echo Dot, the Echo, and the Echo Plus. Amazon expects 10,000 skills to be available to Canadian users this year, "including skills from Air Canada, TD Bank, TELUS, CBC, The Weather Network, Bank of Montreal, Manulife, Aviva, Yellow Pages, and more." Amazon Prime Music has launched for Canadian users as well. It will compete with Spotify and Apple Music in the Canadian market with one million songs—and yes, that includes songs by The Tragically Hip. The rollout is part of a wave of expansion to new countries; Japan just got a similar rollout last week. With a platform like Alexa, localization is both critical and complex. Even between the United States and Canada, there are linguistic differences that could trip up Alexa's functionality if not accounted for. To address that, Amazon has implemented local knowledge and local skills put together by Canadian developers. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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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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