posted 8 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Twitter: EvLeaks) It has been a while since we've seen a new Gear Fit wearable from Samsung, but new leaks suggest that another model is right around the corner. Tweeted by EvLeaks and reported by Venturebeat, the supposed Samsung Gear Fit 2 is slightly curvier than the original, and it may make its debut with a new pair of wireless earbuds dubbed the Gear IconX. The Gear Fit 2 doesn't look too different from the original. Samsung appears to have redesigned it a bit so it fits easier around your wrist, similarly to how Microsoft rounded-out its Band fitness tracker for comfort. The device also seems to have two release notches on its underside, meaning you may be able to use multiple bands with the Gear Fit 2. Reports suggest that the new model will have a GPS chipset as well, which would allow it to better track and monitor outdoor activities. However, that addition will likely increase the price (the original started at $199) while also decreasing the tracker's battery life. Otherwise, the device appears to have the same super-AMOLED display and optical heart rate monitor as the first tracker. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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AMD's upcoming Polaris 10 and Polaris 11 graphics chips won't be powering high-end graphics cards, according to recent comments by AMD. In its latest financial report, the company noted that Polaris 11 would target "the notebook market," while Polaris 10 would target "the mainstream desktop and high-end gaming notebook segment." In an interview with Ars, AMD's Roy Taylor also confirmed that Polaris would target mainstream users, particularly those interested in creating a VR-ready system. "The reason Polaris is a big deal, is because I believe we will be able to grow that TAM [total addressable market] significantly," said Taylor. "I don't think Nvidia is going to do anything to increase the TAM, because according to everything we've seen around Pascal, it's a high-end part. I don't know what the price is gonna be, but let's say it's as low as £500/$600 and as high as £800/$1000. That price range is not going to expand the TAM for VR. We're going on the record right now to say Polaris will expand the TAM. Full stop." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: City of Augsburg / N-TV) Distracted smartphone users will be alerted about when it's safe to cross the road, after a neat pilot traffic light system was launched in a German city. Authorities in the city of Augsburg—which is roughly 35 miles from Munich—have embedded rows of LEDs into the pavement. They will flash red when the crossing is closed to pedestrians. According to German television station N-TV, it has become necessary to bring in what is a novel approach to controlling pedestrian movement, after a 15-year-old girl, who was wearing earbuds and looking at her smartphone, was killed when she stepped in front of a tram. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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It wouldn't be a Dyson product if it didn't look distinctly different from other hair dryers 3 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } British technology company Dyson, best known for its futuristic takes on vacuum cleaners and hand dryers, has turned its attention to the humble hair dryer—but it won't be cheap. In fact, the device (full name: Dyson Supersonic) will cost £299 when it goes on sale in the UK in early June. That price tag is around twice as much as hair dryers used in high-end salons. Dyson claimed to have invested £50 million and four years of research into development of the new technology, making it quieter and—apparently—less damaging to hair. The resulting device has a motor that the company said was eight times faster—and a lot smaller—than those used in the most popular hair dryers sold in Japan, where we're told 96 percent of the population owns one. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, Dyson's hair dryer will go on sale in Japan first. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Brick Police) A second federal judge has now invalidated a search warrant that authorized a search of a suspect’s computer via a Tor exploit, meaning the child pornography authorities say they found on that man’s computer cannot be used as evidence. For now, the case remains live, but absent a successful government appeal, it will be quite difficult for the case against Scott Frederick Arterbury to go forward. A week ago, a federal judge in Massachusetts made a similar ruling and similarly tossed the relevant evidence. The Massachusetts magistrate judge and now the Oklahoma magistrate judge came largely to the same conclusion: that only more senior judges, known as district judges, have the authority to issue out-of-district warrants. Because the warrant was invalid ab initio, or from the beginning, any evidence that resulted from that search must be suppressed. Experts say that with two similar results by two different judges across judicial districts, some if not most of the other 135 "Operation Pacifier" child pornography cases that are being prosecuted may be in jeopardy. (Here, in United States v. Arterbury, an Oklahoma district judge could overrule the magistrate's ruling, and even that ruling could be appealed further.) Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Vladimir Putin, center, and Dmitry Rogozin, far right, tour Vostochny in October, 2015. (credit: Kremlin) On Wednesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country's senior space official, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, were on hand to see the inaugural launch from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome, located in the far east of Russia. They had to be disappointed after a technical glitch with the rocket delayed the launch for one day. Based upon an unnamed source, the Russian TASS agency reported the delay came after the rocket's automated launch system "identified a glitch in one of the instruments of the control system responsible for starting and stopping the engines, for the separation of rocket stages, and for the direction of flight." The delay was not due to a problem with the the new launch infrastructure, according to reports. It is not clear how Putin took the delay, but he will apparently remain at Vostochny for 24 hours to see the launch of the Soyuz-2.1a rocket on Thursday (10:01pm ET Wednesday). However a displeased-looking Rogozin apparently "hastily withdrew" from a launch observation deck after the cancellation and did not respond to questions from reporters. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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James May (left), Jeremy Clarkson (middle), and Richard Hammond (right). You have to hand it to Messrs. Clarkson, May, and Hammond. Together with producer Andy Wilman, they took a moribund BBC show about cars and turned it into a global phenomenon—we are of course talking about Top Gear. Under their revised format, Top Gear dropped the idea of being Consumer Reports for cars, instead opting for comedy banter, insanely impractical road trips, and breathtaking cinematography. When things ended badly with the BBC, Clarkson, May, and Hammond were snapped up by Amazon with a budget reported to be $7 million (£4.5 million) per episode. But they evidently want more. On Monday Variety revealed that the gang, together with a tech entrepreneur called Ernesto Schmitt, want to create a digital home on the Internet for car people. The site will be called DriveTribe, and will cater to a range of different car enthusiasts—or tribes—with verticals full of written content as well as video. Each tribe will have a different host, including Clarkson, Hammond, and May. According to Hammond, "Gamers have got Twitch, travelers have got TripAdvisor and fashion fans have got, oh, something or other too. But people who are into cars have got nowhere. There’s no grand-scale online motoring community where people can meet and share video, comments, information, and opinion. DriveTribe will change that. And then some." Clarkson was more succinct: "I didn’t understand DriveTribe until Richard Hammond said it was like YouPorn, only with cars." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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How to Train your Dragon 2 (credit: DreamWorks) Anonymous sources speaking to both the Wall Street Journal and Variety Wednesday morning confirmed that Comcast is in talks to buy DreamWorks Animation for “more than $3 billion.” DreamWorks is one of the last major animation studios not owned by a conglomerate, and the purchase could bolster it against competition from Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. DreamWorks has had some notable successes like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon, but in the last four years it has also had its fair share of flops. According to The Richest, movies like Rise of the Guardians, Turbo, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and Penguins of Madagascar just barely made a profit, thanks to foreign sales. Comcast already owns Universal Pictures, which has its own animation studio, Illumination Entertainment. Illumination has been responsible for the successful (if annoyingly pervasive) Despicable Me and Minions. According to the WSJ, DreamWorks would be maintained as a separate entity from Illumination Entertainment if the deal were to go through. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Choosing a database is pretty similar—it's all about the right fit. (credit: Flickr user: Sven Slootweg) When you think of game development, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn't a database. But in the world of Jamaa, the setting for WildWorks' massively multiplayer online kids' game Animal Jam, a database keeps millions of cartoon animal characters frolicking and the cartoon trees from crashing down. The database chosen for this job was a specialized, non-relational database from Basho called Riak—one among the herd of new databases that have risen to handle Web-generated gluts of non-structured data. The database landscape is increasingly complicated. As of April, Solid IT's DB-Engines initiative was tracking 303 separate relational and non-relational databases. In the golden years of relational databases, benchmarks such as TPC could theoretically give you some sort of way to compare databases directly. But today, it's difficult to assign a one-size-fits-all measurement to the world of non-relational databases such as Riak and Apache Cassandra (the distributed database project originally developed at Facebook). WildWorks ran its benchmarks and decided on Riak for Animal Jam, and Uber did the same for its dispatch platform. IoT car tech company VCARO decided the exact opposite: Cassandra beat Riak at handling vehicle-generated sensor data. Software company Nuance Communications opted for something else entirely, choosing Couchbase for handling speech and imaging apps. The "why" of decisions like these are as complicated as the database technologies themselves. It may hinge on which two of three CAP theorem guarantees—consistency, availability, and partitionability—a business values most. The tipping point could alternatively be which database handles software containers or what skills you already have on hand. This list of factors is seemingly infinite. Read 38 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Nintendo didn't make a formal statement about the Legend of Zelda's latest delay; instead, the company tucked that news into a game release-date list. (credit: Nintendo) Nintendo's annual fiscal-year earnings release went live on Wednesday via an announcement from its Japanese arm, and with that release came a very modestly tucked bit of giant news: the firmest launch-window announcement yet for the company's next, still-unnamed game system. "For our dedicated video game platform business, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed 'NX' with a brand-new concept," the report said in its "outlook" section. "NX will be launched in March 2017 globally." The earnings release did not offer any explanation or clarification about what that "brand-new concept" will be, in spite of recent patent-related hints about twists such as a new controller. In even more surprising news, expectations that Nintendo would unveil the NX in time for June's Electronic Entertainment Expo were dashed by a statement from acting Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima, who confirmed in a Wednesday investor phone call (as reported by The Wall Street Journal's Tokyo bureau correspondent Takashi Mochizuki) that the system will not appear at this year's E3. Nintendo will instead focus its E3 attention "on the new Zelda," Mochizuki reports. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Platinum mass & well-formed crystals from Russia. (public display, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA) (credit: James St. John) Microsoft's Windows Defender Advanced Threat Hunting team works to track down and identify hacking groups that perpetrate attacks. The focus is on the groups that are most selective about their targets and that work hardest to stay undetected. The company wrote today about one particular group that it has named PLATINUM. The unknown group has been attacking targets in South East Asia since at least 2009, with Malaysia being its biggest victim with just over half the attacks, and Indonesia in second place. Almost half of the attacks were aimed at government organizations of some kind, including intelligence and defense agencies, and a further quarter of the attacks were aimed at ISPs. The goal of these attacks does not appear to have been immediate financial gain—these hackers weren't after credit cards and banking details—but rather broader economic espionage using stolen information. Microsoft doesn't appear to know a great deal about the team doing the hacking. They have often used spear-phishing to initially penetrate target networks and seem to have taken great pains to hide their attacks. For example, they've used self-deleting malware to cover their tracks, customized malware to evade anti-virus detection, and malware that limits its network activity to only be active during business hours, so its traffic is harder to notice. Redmond suggests that the adversary is likely a government organization of some kind, due to its organization and the kinds of data it has sought to steal. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Apple's two biggest moneymakers, the iPhone and iPad, are down year-over-year. (credit: Andrew Cunningham) Apple has just released its earnings report for the second quarter of fiscal 2016, which runs from the beginning of January to the end of March. As CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri warned in last quarter's earnings call, iPhone sales were down year-over-year for the first time since the product's launch in 2007. Since the iPhone accounts for around two-thirds of Apple's revenue, this means that Apple is also reporting its first year-over-year quarterly revenue decline since 2003, something CEO Tim Cook referred to as a "pause in [Apple's] growth." iPad and Mac sales are also down, though the Services and "Other products" categories ticked upward. Apple made $10.5 billion in profit and $58 billion in revenue, compared to $13.6 billion in profit and $58 billion in revenue in Q1 of 2015. Its gross margin was 39.4 percent. These results beat the low end of Apple's guidance for the quarter, which predicted revenue between $50 billion and $53 billion and a profit margin between 39 and 40 percent. The company predicts that the year-over-year quarterly decline will continue next year—Apple expects it will make between $41 and $43 billion in revenue in the third quarter of fiscal 2016 with profit margins between 37.5 and 38 percent. This is well below the $49.6 billion in revenue that Apple made in Q3 of 2015. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Fullscreen) YouTube Red isn't the only digital video service to put YouTube stars at the forefront of its content. The media company Fullscreen launched its online video subscription service featuring shows that star YouTube personalities, including Grace Helbig and Shane Dawson. The ad-free subscription service will be free for the first month and then users can pay $4.99 per month to continue watching. Fullscreen started out as a type of talent agency that worked with social media stars to secure ad-sponsored deals on free sites like Instagram. Fullscreen's founder George Strompolos told the BCC, "Social media is a great place to make quick, inexpensive content to engage a fanbase. But when it comes to longer form or premium productions, the economics of producing it on the free web just don't work out." Now, with the company's roster of more than 75,000 partners (many of which are from YouTube), it will create a "premium destination" with original content featuring a lot of online personalities that young people already know, as well as licensed shows and movies. Fullscreen didn't waste time in going for the big stars on YouTube. Comedian and personality Shane Dawson of ShaneDawsonTV has a huge following of more than 7.3 million subscribers, one movie under his belt with another on the way, and a podcast he's been recording for the past three years. Fullscreen will take his Shane and Friends podcast and produce it in video format, so fans who want to watch Dawson and his cohost Jessie Buttafuoco interact with guests can do so, while others can still listen to the podcast for free on iTunes or Soundcloud. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Kieran McCarthy) The 2017 Agriculture Appropriations Bill may not seem like a stirring piece of legislation to most, but it raised quite a few eyebrows last week as it passed through a House subcommittee with a key amendment—one that aims to spare the vast majority of electronic cigarettes from impending federal regulations. The bipartisan effort to protect the burgeoning e-cig market is just the latest in a long-smoldering debate reignited by the Food and Drug Administration’s plans this year to begin regulating the new devices as it does traditional tobacco products. The crux of the controversy is about whether e-cigarettes act more as a gateway into or a ticket out of dangerous tobacco use, the single largest cause of preventable deaths in the US. E-cig flavors. (credit: Wikimedia) Proponents argue that the new FDA regulations will protect children from bad habits. For instance, one of the proposed rules will prevent e-cig makers from using youth-based marketing—like edgy, rebellious ads and candy-flavored e-cigs—that can hook kids into lifelong nicotine addictions and deadly tobacco habits. Such marketing strategies were first used by tobacco companies decades ago and were highly successful until the FDA banned the practice. With e-cig companies already copying the tactics, many politicians and public health experts have chided the FDA for not rolling out regulations faster. The agency first proposed rules back in 2014. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Dropbox will soon be adding support on both Windows and OS X for placeholder files that create a full view of your cloud-synced files, even if they're not available locally. OneDrive (or rather SkyDrive, as it was called then) in Windows 8.1 was a significant step forward in improving the cloud storage experience for desktop users thanks to its novel handling of cloud-synced files. Within Explorer and at the command prompt, every file stored on OneDrive was shown, even if it wasn't synced locally. Double-clicking a file (or using File... Open within an application) would automatically download it so that it could be read and edited as normal. This system provided a great increase in usability, especially on machines with limited local storage. Instead of requiring you to pick and choose which files or folders to sync manually in order to avoid filling the local disk, you could see all your files and folders in your OneDrive folder. Only the ones that you actually opened locally would occupy their full size; everything else was shrunk to a few bytes of metadata. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Charter's footprint after the proposed merger. (credit: Charter) With Charter Communications set to receive approval for its acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC), regulators plan to impose a series of conditions designed to stop anti-competitive and anti-consumer policies pursued by TWC. Conditions proposed by the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission would prohibit the combined company from imposing data caps and overage fees on Internet customers, charging large online content providers for network interconnection, and stifling growth of online video by demanding restrictive clauses in contracts with programmers. Time Warner Cable has more aggressively pursued these types of policies than Charter. Charter doesn't have a sterling reputation, ranking nearly as low as Comcast and TWC in consumer satisfaction rankings. But Charter seized on the differences between itself and TWC while arguing its case and suggested some of the merger conditions that ended up forming the basis of the DOJ's and FCC's final proposals. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Organic compounds in Titan’s seas and lakes. (credit: ESA) Liquid seas exist on the surface of just two worlds in the Solar System: Earth and Saturn's moon Titan. Discovered by NASA's Cassini spacecraft about a decade ago, the hydrocarbon seas of Titan are more exotic, of course, as they exist in liquid form at temperatures around -180 degrees Celsius. Now, after the Cassini spacecraft has made a number of flybys of Titan, scientists assessing light and other radiation emanating from the moon's surface say they have a better handle on exactly what is in one of those seas. And to their surprise, they have found that the second largest lake on Titan, Ligeia Mare, is composed of nearly pure methane. “We expected to find that Ligeia Mare would be mostly ethane, which is produced in abundance in the atmosphere when sunlight breaks methane molecules apart,” said Alice Le Gall, lead author of the new study. “Instead, this sea is predominantly made of pure methane." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The arrow points to the very faint moon near Makemake. (credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Parker) Today, NASA announced that images it has been sitting on for a year show a moon orbiting a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt. The moon, formally known as S/2015 (136472) and going informally as MK 2, is in orbit around Makemake, a dwarf planet two-thirds the size of Pluto that spends most of its time more than 40 Astronomical Units away from the Sun (1 AU is the typical Earth-Sun distance). MK 2 is more than 1,300 times fainter than the planet it orbits, largely because it has a very dark surface compared to Makemake's icy white color. It also appears to orbit within the plane of the Solar System, which means it's indistinguishable from Makemake for much of its orbit—Hubble managed to catch it when it was more than 20,000km from the dwarf planet. Estimates are that MK 2 is about 160km across compared to Makemake's 1,400km. Early observations show that the orbit takes at least 12 days, and the shape of the orbit is roughly circular. This data suggests that MK 2 formed from debris liberated from Makemake by an impact; passing objects that are captured by planets typically have eccentric orbits. Detailed observations of MK 2's orbit will allow us to determine the density of Makemake, which will then tell us something about its composition, so NASA will continue observing the new body. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Slide the button and remove the watchband. Simple! (credit: Google) One of the things the Apple Watch has been able hold over its Android Wear competitors is the ability to easily swap watchbands. Today Google hopes to catch up with a new line of easily changeable watchbands called "Mode." The design is pretty simple. Lugs on the watch body hold a permanent bar, and the band has a trapdoor for the bar that opens and closes via a little switch. The bands are made in partnership with watchband company "b&nd by Hadley Roma." They come in four different widths, so they should fit most of the existing Android Wear devices out there. The Android Wear website has a sizing chart for existing devices. For what Google calls the "first collection," there are ten leather bands and six silicone bands in a rainbow of colors, but no options for a metal version. In the past, Android Wear OEMs have recommended going to a jeweler to have watchbands swapped out, so easily removable bands are a big improvement. Google says it's sharing the Mode mechanism design, instructions, and specs with other brands in the hope that a whole ecosystem springs up. The bands are available at the Google Store (US), Amazon, and Best Buy. Leather goes for $60, silicone for $50. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Y chromosome (right) is pretty minimalist compared to the X, but it holds much more history. (credit: MIT) The history of humanity, as we've read it through DNA, has been written largely by females. Mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited only from our mothers, is short and easy to sequence, so researchers have frequently relied on it to study human DNA, both in present populations and in old bones. But as DNA sequencing technology has improved, it has become progressively easier to sequence all the DNA that an individual carries. If said individual is a male, the resulting sequence will include the Y chromosome, which is inherited only from fathers. With more data in hand, researchers have been able to perform an analysis of the Y chromosome's history, and they've found that its sequence retains the imprint of both the migrations and technological innovations that have featured in humanity's past. How to read a Y Most chromosomes in the cell are present as two copies, which allows them to swap genetic material. Over time, this swapping will mix up the mutations that occur on the chromosome, making their history difficult to untangle. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Artondra Hall) A Baltimore judge has tossed crucial evidence obtained via a stingray in a murder case—the trial was set to begin this week. According to the Baltimore Sun, local police used the device, also known as a cell-site simulator, to locate the murder suspect in an apartment near his victim’s. In 2014, investigators used the stingray to locate the suspect, Robert Copes, who allowed them into his apartment. There, amid cleaning supplies including bleach and the phone they were looking for, police found the blood of Ina Jenkins, 34, in Copes' apartment. Jenkins' body was found “dumped across the street.” Circuit Judge Yolanda Tanner said in court Monday that while she is suppressing the evidence “with great reluctance,” Copes is “likely guilty.” Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Renzo Stanley) Jurors who don't obey a judge's admonition to refrain from researching the Internet about a case or using social media during trial could be dinged up to $1,500 under proposed California legislation. The first-of-its-kind measure, now before the California Assembly, would give a new weapon to judges in the Golden State who can already hold misbehaving jurors in contempt. But under the new law, designed to combat mistrials, a judge would have an easier time issuing a rank-and-file citation under the proposed law instead of having to go through all of the legal fuss to charge somebody with contempt. Judges routinely warn jurors not to research their case or discuss it on social media. Normally, errant jurors are dismissed without any penalty, and sometimes a mistrial ensues. Under the new law, levying a fine would be as easy as issuing a traffic ticket. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The cars in question are tiny Japanese-market "Kei" cars. (credit: Wikimedia) We've written extensively about Volkswagen Group and its attempt to pull a fast one with regard to diesel emissions here in the US and elsewhere. But VW isn't the only car maker to play fast and loose with regulators when it comes to emissions. VW's diesel scandal has resulted in increased scrutiny abroad; French authorities raided Renault in January and PSA Peugeot Citroen in April as part of ongoing investigations into diesel emissions. But the most breathtaking example must belong to Mitsubishi. On April 21, we learned that the Japanese car maker had been falsifying fuel economy tests in its home market. This came to light after Nissan (which rebadges some Mitsubishi cars) discovered the engines couldn't match Mitsubishi's numbers. That alone would have been bad enough—indeed, it wiped out a third of Mitsubishi's share price—but it seems it was just the tip of the iceberg. On Tuesday, Mitsubishi revealed it had been using the wrong fuel economy tests for "Kei" cars—small 0.6L cars made just for the Japanese domestic market—since 1991. More than 600,000 affected cars have been sold in Japan during that time. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Ron Amadeo) BlackBerry recently dumped its in-house operating system—Blackberry 10—and became one of the newest Android OEMs. It launched the BlackBerry Priv with Android 5.1 in November last year, and today we're getting an idea of what the company's major update process looks like. The Priv is being updated to Android 6.0. The initial launch of the Blackberry Priv gave us good reason to worry about BlackBerry's software acumen. It launched with Android 5.1 a month after Android 6.0 came out. What, we asked, would happen when it came time to update the Priv? If BlackBerry can't even launch with an up-to-date version of Android, how long would a big update take? The answer seems to be "six months." Marshmallow for the unlocked BlackBerry Priv is rolling out six months after the OS' release and five months after the release of the Priv. Android 6.0 Marshmallow brings support for user-controllable app permissions—an ironic omission from the Priv given that the name stands for "Privacy." Adoptable storage will be great for the Priv's MicroSD—if BlackBerry doesn't disable it. This feature turns removable storage and internal storage into a single unified pool, allowing you to install apps, media, or whatever else you want on the SD card. Standby battery life should improve with the new "Doze" feature, too. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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One of the two JLENS aerostats on the ground at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Two aerostats make up a JLENS "orbit." The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) system program has been savaged by the House Armed Services Committee in its markup of the Defense Department's 2017 budget. The proposed cut in funding—from the $45 million requested by the Army to a mere $2.5 million—may signal the end of a program that was a source of controversy well before one of the program's radar aerostats broke loose and drifted hundreds of miles. But that incident, which caused power outages and property damage as the wayward blimp dragged its broken tether from Aberdeen, Maryland, into central Pennsylvania, was likely responsible for the program finally being brought to heel. JLENS was originally intended to be a collection of paired radar dirigibles, tethered to the ground while floating at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet. Of each pair, one aerostat would be equipped with a sensitive "look-down" phased array search radar; the other would have a targeting radar for tracking targets and guiding weapons to them. The system was intended, as the program's name suggests, to defend against submarine-launched and ship-launched cruise missiles, but it was also advertised as a way to spot low-flying aircraft, drones, swarms of small boats, and even some ground vehicles. Raytheon, the prime contractor for JLENS, and the Army tried to dispel concerns that JLENS could be used for domestic surveillance. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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