posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Universal Parks & Resorts and Nintendo announced today that they will be bringing a Nintendo-themed area—filled with themed attractions, shops, and restaurants—to Universal theme parks in Orlando, Hollywood, and Tokyo "over the next several years." The announcement is light on details about things like types of rides or included game franchises but full of buzzwords like "innovative," "immersive and interactive," "expansive," and "breathtakingly authentic." Still, the announcement represents the first concrete new information on the Nintendo/Universal partnership since it was first announced last year. Early reports of the "Mario area" in Universal's Tokyo park began to leak out via the Japanese press in March, but this is the first sign that Nintendo attractions will be coming to the United States parks as well. "We are working very hard to create attractions that can be equally enjoyable to anybody, regardless of age," Nintendo Creative Fellow Shigeru Miyamoto said in a video accompanying the announcement. "We are constantly amazed how the park developers are bringing the essence of our games to life in the real world. Together we are building it with an eye for what guests will actually experience." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development On Wednesday, officials from all over the world gathered about a football field away from the Chernobyl disaster site in Ukraine. They were there to celebrate the final placement of a massive, high-tech shelter over reactor 4, which exploded in April 1986. The shelter, called the New Safe Confinement (NSC), is a feat of engineering. Because it was too dangerous to assemble the NSC over the original shelter that was built in the weeks after the explosion, the NSC was instead built at a distance and moved—slowly, over days—on a pair of tracks parallel to the original shelter. But even that was no simple task. The NSC is 354ft (108m) tall and 843ft (257m) wide, making it the largest mobile metal structure in the world. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
The Amazon Echo. Imagine this with Google inside. (credit: Amazon) Amazon may be adding to its Echo family very soon. A report from Bloomberg suggests the online retailer is working on a new Alexa-based speaker device with a seven-inch touchscreen, which would make it the first Alexa device with a screen. Currently Amazon's $180 Echo, $130 Tap, and $50 Dot are cylindrical devices, some with speakers and some without, that all contain the company's digital assistant. According to the report, the new device will have a touchscreen that can be tilted upward so it's more easily visible when sitting on a counter or table. The screen will make it more convenient for users to access information like weather reports, calendar events, and news. All of that information can currently be accessed by voice-commanding Alexa to read it out, but the screen would give that information a visual component. It's also reported that the new device will have even better speakers than the current Echo, which would likely make it a better music playback device. In addition to using Alexa to control the new device, users will be able to interact with the screen almost like a tablet. Bloomberg reports the device will run "an optimized version of Fire OS," which is the operating system used in Amazon's tablets. Amazon is also testing a feature that would let users "pin" items to the device's screen, similar to how you could use a magnet to place something on a refrigerator door. This feature sounds similar to the messaging features on Triby, one of the first third-party devices to incorporate Alexa. That device uses a small, e-ink display to show messages sent between family members as well as date and weather information. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: NextEV) Zero to sixty. Horsepower per kilogram. Nürburgring lap times. All great ways of bench-racing cars in order to win arguments in the pub (or on an Internet forum). And if the latter is your go-to yardstick for performance, there's a new king of the electric vehicles in town: the NextEV Nio EP9. NextEV hasn't released the entire lap video, but this should give you a flavor of how the car performed at the Nordschleife. NextEV is a Chinese EV maker, and it's going to launch a range of electric (and eventually autonomous) cars under the Nio brand (starting in China next year). As is now becoming the default (e.g., Faraday Future), instead of showing us a prototype production model, the company is making a splash with an EV supercar—the 194mph (313km/h) EP9—just six of which will be built. The EP has been designed for the track-day enthusiast, and so features rapidly swappable batteries. NextEV hasn't released the kWh rating for the batteries, but says the range is 265 miles (426km) and that recharging takes 45 minutes (swapping the batteries for a fully charged set takes eight minutes apparently). The chassis is—as you'd expect—carbon fiber, and it has a motor-generator unit at each wheel, with a peak power output of 1,341hp/1MW and 1091 ft-lbs/1480 Nm of torque. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 lifts off with NASA's GOES-R satellite in November. (credit: United Launch Alliance) During the last half century the United States may have achieved flashier goals, with the Apollo Moon landings, and produced the most capable spacecraft in the form of the space shuttle. But even as the glory of Sputnik and Gagarin faded, the Russians have plugged along with their decades-old, capable rocket technology. And because of this reliability and relatively low costs, the Russians have continually launched more rockets into space than any other country. Until now. According to data collected by The Moscow Times, Russia is expected to finish 2017 with just 18 rocket launches into space, compared to China's 19 and 20 from the United States. The US tally will be led by the United Launch Alliance, which is expected to have a dozen launches by the end of the year. The American total would be higher still if SpaceX returns to flight from a September accident by the end of the year. The Russian newspaper cites several reasons for the country's decline from a peak of 100 launches during the USSR's prime, including declining space budgets, cost competition from providers like SpaceX for the commercial launch market, and recent problems with its heretofore reliable Proton launch vehicle. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
(credit: richardghawley) A paper published in Nature Energy analyzed the opinions of 163 wind power experts from around the globe, and found that they expect the cost of wind energy to fall even further. Those experts said that by 2030, both onshore and offshore wind turbines will get bigger, leading to additional cost reductions and smoother energy generation. The median response from experts was that wind power cost could be reduced by 24 to 30 percent by 2030 based on the advances in turbine technology that are either projected or already being seen today. The authors of the study also acknowledge that estimates about wind power cost reductions have generally been conservative in the past—today in some areas wind energy is already competitive with fossil fuels. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Gregory F. Maxwell/Wikimedia Commons) It’s bizarre but true: wire recording is the longest-lasting capture format in audio history, one that paved the way for reel-to-reel tapes and a host of others—even though most people today, and some techies included, have barely heard of it. Invented way back in 1898 and patented two years later, wire recording was somehow still getting some limited use as late as the early 1970s, while rockets took man to the moon on an annual basis. In its wake, vinyl, with its 67 years, and CD with a mere 33, look like footling youngsters. In its none-too-brief life, "the wire" also found use in Hollywood, provided a broadcast aid to spying, helped launch digital data capture, and pioneered the new art of bootlegging—sorry, "home recording." Wire was longer-lasting in other ways too—whereas shellac and vinyl records would only last a few minutes per side, and the first commercial tape decks weren’t that much better, the wire recorder could get down over 60 minutes of audio. Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Ars Technica's full Final Fantasy XV review is coming, but because the game is so large—and only showed up at our doorsteps on Sunday—we've splintered into two factions. Everyone in the first faction wants to take their time sitting with the Japanese series' large, open-world return. They want to sink in however many hours it takes to beat the primary campaign mode and linger in places like side quests and fishing holes. The second faction (meaning yours truly) was told to bang out about 10 hours of play, with a mix of campaign and side content, and write up impressions before the game hits stores on Tuesday. I jumped on the opportunity because I thought 10 hours would be more than enough to answer a question I've had since my first press-only demo of the game in May: did Square-Enix finally make a Final Fantasy game that I, a lapsed fan of the series, would want to complete? At this point, I kind of regret taking on the task. Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
(credit: US DHHS) A woman in Brownsville, Texas, has a confirmed case of Zika even though she didn’t travel to any Zika-stricken areas or have any other risk factors, Texas health authorities announced Monday. Her case is likely the first known instance of Zika transmission by local mosquitoes in the state. But, if true, that transmission is entirely unsurprising, officials there said. Brownsville sits at the southern most tip of Texas, directly on the border of Mexico, which is experiencing ongoing transmission of the Zika virus by local mosquitoes. In a press statement, John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said: Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA. (credit: Getty | Bill Ingalls/NASA ) When Scott Kelly returned from his one-year space mission last March, he admitted that he, like many of his colleagues, came back with vision troubles. In fact, nearly two-thirds of astronauts who have gone on long-duration space missions inexplicably returned with blurry vision, flattened eyeballs, and inflamed optic nerves—and now researchers have a new hypothesis as to why. Despite years of research, the cause of the problems remains fuzzy. However, scientists have dubbed the astronauts’ condition “visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome” or VIIP. The name is based on the leading theory that, in space, bodily fluids normally dragged down by gravity can freely flow into the head and increase the pressure on the brain and eyeballs. A researcher at Georgia Tech is even looking into a mechanical way to draw fluid back down to the legs to spare space-goers' eyesight. But a new study involving 16 astronauts suggests that the leading theory is a tad off-kilter; it’s not vascular fluids bubbling up to the head causing problems, but instead sloshing cerebrospinal fluid tipping toward the eyes, the new study suggests. Researchers from the University of Miami presented those findings Monday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Channel lineups for AT&T's DirecTV Now online streaming service. (credit: AT&T) When AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson last month announced a new DirecTV online video streaming service, he was clear about a few things: it would provide more than 100 channels, including "all the premium" channels customers want, and cost just $35 a month. As a result, AT&T has gotten a lot of headlines about its $35, 100-channel streaming service over the past few weeks. But today we found out the full pricing details, and they're a bit less appealing than Stephenson's sales pitch. The offer of 100 channels for $35 is only good for customers who sign up when the service becomes available or shortly after that. Once the standard pricing sets in, new customers will pay $35 for 60 channels. The other standard packages are 80 channels for $50 a month, 100 channels for $60, and 120 channels for $70. Premium channels HBO and Cinemax will cost an extra $5 a month in addition to the base price. The service will be available in the US only. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge Online criminals—at least some of them wielding the notorious Mirai malware that transforms Internet-of-things devices into powerful denial-of-service cannons—have begun exploiting a critical flaw that may be present in millions of home routers. Routers provided to German and Irish ISP customers for Deutsche Telekom and Eircom, respectively, have already been identified as being vulnerable, according to recently published reports from researchers tracking the attacks. The attacks exploit weaknesses found in routers made by Zyxel, Speedport, and possibly other manufacturers. The devices leave Internet port 7547 open to outside connections. The exploits use the opening to send commands based on the TR-069 and related TR-064 protocols, which ISPs use to remotely manage large fleets of hardware. According to this advisory published Monday morning by the SANS Internet Storm Center, honeypot servers posing as vulnerable routers are receiving exploits every five to 10 minutes. SANS Dean of Research Johannes Ullrich said in Monday's post that exploits are almost certainly the cause behind an outage that hit Deutsche Telekom customers over the weekend. In a Facebook update, officials with the German ISP said 900,000 customers are vulnerable to the attacks until they are rebooted and receive an emergency patch. Earlier this month, researchers at security firm BadCyber reported that the same one-two port 7547/TR-064 exploit hit the home router of a reader in Poland. They went on to identify D1000 routers supplied by Eircom as also being susceptible and cited this post as support. The Shodan search engine shows that 41 million devices leave port 7547 open, while about five million expose TR-064 services to the outside world. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Stanford University) Yesterday, the Nikkei news service reported that the Japanese government is expecting the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns to cost nearly double its earlier estimates. Citing government sources, the report says the total expenses will run at least $176 billion and are likely to rise even further in the future. While the utility that ran the plant, TEPCO, is ostensibly on the hook for damages, the Japanese government is supporting it in part through interest-free loans. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is coordinating these loans with the Ministry of Finance, and Nikkei News apparently got a hold of a copy of a report that updates Finance on the expected costs that are going to be incurred. The government's previous official estimates were generated in 2013 and continued to be used in official statements, even though the scale of the challenges became more widely appreciated since. The new estimates include over $70 billion for compensation payments to citizens affected by the meltdowns, an increase of nearly 50 percent. Decontamination of the region around the Fukushima site is now pegged at over $40 billion, roughly double the previous estimate. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Walmart is practically throwing free stuff at you to get you to buy an Xbox One S. (credit: Wal-mart) Don't blame us if you missed all the good deals on video games when Black Friday came around last week. We tried to tell you there were steep discounts to be had, But noooooo, you just wanted to stay in your warm house with your slippers and your leftovers and your Gilmore Girls binge-watching marathon. Don't worry, you can now get similar (or even better) deals on video game hardware and software from the comfort of your home computing device as part of today's Cyber Monday deals. Even better, some of these discounts are set to last all "Cyber Week" thanks to the never-ending expansion of the holiday price wars. Still, there's reason to act fast—some of these deals may be pulled as they sell out of limited stock, so if you see a price you like, don't wait. Gaming hardware Target has the deal to beat for all major purchases today, including video game consoles. You'll get a 15-percent off coupon applied automatically at checkout for anything on the site Monday only. That reduces a $250 video game console bundle to $212.50, a $300 console to $240, a $400 console becomes $340, etc. It's quite the bargain. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
The tip of a screwworm fly larvae. (credit: CSIRO) A deadly, flesh-eating parasite has once again invaded southern Florida and is ravaging animals, sparking a local agricultural emergency. State and federal authorities there are now fighting to zap the invasive infestation before it can cause catastrophic damage to the region. The New World screwworm fly, which infests open wounds and feasts on living tissue, was last seen in the US during the 1970s, following half-a-century of hard-fought eradication efforts in the Southeast US and Central America. A Key deer feeds at the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key, Florida. (credit: Getty | Sun Sentinel) But this year, state officials in the Florida Keys started seeing grotesque lesions on Key deer—an endangered species that is the smallest of North America’s white-tailed deer. Since July, about 15 percent of the Key deer population (132 animals) have died of the infection, and authorities have found other animals in the area, mostly pets, infected. Authorities confirmed the fly’s return through lab testing in late September. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Jurgen Appelo) Steve Huffman's LinkedIn profile. (credit: LinkedIn) Reddit has some site rules. A key one is that the site's users must follow the rules or be barred from participating in discussions. Then there's another rule, which we'll call the Primary Directive, because who doesn't like Star Trek. This directive prohibits the site's executives from editing comments to alter the site's community voice. Breaching that directive is perhaps Reddit's ultimate taboo. But over the Thanksgiving holiday, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman conceded that he violated the directive. Some negative comments directed at his username—"spez"—were substituted with the names of moderators of a pro-Donald Trump subreddit called "r/the_donald." Hey Everyone, Yep. I messed with the "fuck u/spez" comments, replacing "spez" with r/the_donald mods for about an hour. It’s been a long week here trying to unwind the r/pizzagate stuff. As much as we try to maintain a good relationship with you all, it does get old getting called a pedophile constantly. As the CEO, I shouldn’t play such games, and it’s all fixed now. Our community team is pretty pissed at me, so I most assuredly won’t do this again. Fuck u/spez. Huffman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. His concession generated thousands of comments over the weekend. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: DriveTribe) Earlier this year, we found out that in addition to The Grand Tour, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond were looking to take over a slice of the automotive Internet. Meant to be a "digital hub for motoring," DriveTribe is a Facebook-powered social media platform that has in recent weeks swept up a large number of well-known car journalists, including, it seems, most of the staff of Evo magazine. It's also a completely separate venture to the Amazon-funded TV show. This morning, DriveTribe opened its doors to the general public. The concept, which Hammond described to Clarkson as "like YouPorn, only with cars," is simple enough. After signing in via your Facebook account—so no DriveTribe for you, Lee Hutchinson—you're asked to pick a selection of tribes, or content feeds, that suit your automotive interests. (You can also create your own tribe). These feeds contain all manner of stuff; short, tweet-like messages, a photo (or several), or even a lengthy article. Some tribes, and some members, are also given a blue tick, indicating that these are blessed by the management as being official. Users can bump posts, comment on them, share them, and so on—all the things you'd expect of a social media platform. DriveTribe, in all its online glory. The black-and-white UI is rather sleek. (credit: DriveTribe) By signing up so many content producers before the fact, DriveTribe ought to have a sufficiently steady stream of fresh stuff to look at—lack of content is always a peril with a new Internet venture. Promisingly, the intellectual property rights to all that content remain with whoever posted it; DriveTribe CEO Ernesto Schmitt (one of the founders along with the GT three and their producer Andy Wilman) told Business Insider that the plan is to make money through native advertising. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The OLED-toting Google Pixel (left) next to the iPhone 7 Plus' LCD panel. (credit: Ron Amadeo) The iPhone 7 is just a couple of months old, which means that we are due for a fresh round of rumors about next year's model. Today The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is testing out "more than 10" different prototypes—presumably this includes not just next year's phone, but prototypes for phones beyond that as well as some that will never see the light of day—and that at least one of those prototypes includes a curved OLED screen. OLED screens are more expensive than equivalent LCDs, but they offer faster refresh rates and better contrast. They can also be made thinner than LCD displays since they don't need separate layers for things like backlights or liquid crystal. Apple has always used LCD screens in its iPhones, but the company has reportedly asked suppliers like LG, Japan Display, and Sharp to submit prototype OLED displays for consideration. OLED technology had lots of early teething issues, including poor color accuracy, greenish or purplish whites, and bad outdoor visibility, but many of those problems have been solved or substantially mitigated in recent years. In-depth analyses like those from DisplayMate have given top marks to the OLED screens in phones like Samsung's Galaxy S7 and the now-discontinued Note 7. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The kinds of colors on display here in Final Fantasy XV really pop on an HDR-compatible console and screen. In our recent coverage of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S, we've noted how the use of a high-dynamic range (HDR) color gamut has a striking effect on the apparent visual quality of a game (or a compatible video). Unfortunately, those expanded color benefits are only available on a select few titles for each console so far. In a small bout of service journalism, we've compiled lists of titles that are compatible with HDR screens right now and will have support added in the near future. Reliable information on this is surprisingly hard to come by, though a list tweeted last night by Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg was a big help on the Xbox-side (he left off support for the upcoming Scalebound, however). For the PS4, things are a bit more complicated, especially since many games that have been upgraded with higher resolutions or smoother frame rates on the PS4 Pro have pointedly not been improved with HDR color thus far. We've scoured announcements and update files for mention of HDR color support for PS4 titles and included the ones we could find reliable info for below. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: YouTube) Black Friday was a black day for San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency, as an apparent crypto-ransomware infection spread across the Muni system's networks, taking down ticketing for Muni's train stations and systems used to manage the city's buses. The operator of the ransomware demanded $73,000 in exchange for restoration of Muni's data, according to a report from the San Francisco Examiner. The malware's effects were visible on screens in station agents' booths at multiple Muni train stations, which displayed the message, "You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted." The ransom message gave an e-mail address ([email protected]) that has been tied to ransomware attacks with variants of malware known as Mamba and HDDCryptor, a class of crypto-ransomware first identified from different samples in September by Morphus Labs and Trend Micro. A mash-up of some basic malware code with open source and freeware Windows software, HDDCryptor goes after the entire network of its victims—encrypting entire local and networked drives. The malware uses an open source disk encryption tool called DiskCryptor and identifies physical and network shares to encrypt using Windows' "GetLogicalDrives" volume management function. It also uses code from the free network password recovery software Netpass.exe. HDDCryptor then overwrites the Master Boot Record of the infected machine—in some cases forcing a reboot of the system—to display its message. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Micah A. Ponce) Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final renewable fuel standards for 2017, requiring that fuel suppliers blend an additional 1.2 billion gallons of renewable fuel into US gas and diesel from 2016 levels. The rule breaks down the requirements to include quotas for cellulosic biofuels, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and traditional renewable fuel. This has left corn and ethanol suppliers in the Midwest quite happy and oil and gas suppliers less so. Reuters points out that the aggressive new biofuel standards will create a dilemma for an incoming Trump administration, given that his campaign courted both the gas and corn industries. “Balancing oil and farm interests is likely to prove a challenge for Trump, who has promised to curtail regulations on the oil industry but is already being reminded by biofuel advocates of the importance of the program to the American Midwest, where he received strong support from voters on November 8,” Reuters writes. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge Over the past few weeks—and particularly over the retail adventure widely referred to as "Black Friday"—many Apple device owners experienced a new form of unsolicited and unwanted messages: a swarm of calendar alerts for online "deals" from spammers. The messages took advantage of the default settings in Apple's iCloud calendar service, allowing senders to automatically push calendar alerts to Apple iOS and macOS users and bypass e-mail entirely. Getting rid of these calendar "invites" is a problem in itself, as declining them sends a message back to the spammer—confirming that someone actually is monitoring the iCloud account they targeted and encouraging them to send more messages. Getting rid of the unwanted alerts requires a multi-step workaround. But blocking them entirely only requires a single change to iCloud settings. To get rid of the invites without sending a response to the spammer, you'll need to do the following: Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Greetings, Arsians! It's Cyber Monday, one of the busiest online shopping days of the year! Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains, the Dealmaster is here with a big list of items for everyone on your shopping list. We've got live pages for Amazon and Dell, and deals on everything from TVs to Segways. If what you're looking for isn't in the list below, you can check out even more Cyber Monday Deals at TechBargains. See all the Amazon Cyber Monday Deals & Lightning Deals as they go live See all the Dell Doorbuster Computer, TV & Electronics deals as they go live Top Rated for Picture Quality Vizio M50-D1 4K UltraHD Home Theater Display + $200 Dell Gift Card + 6" Android Tablet Remote for $599.99 (list price $849.99). Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Intel Celeron Dual-Core 15.6" Laptop (4GB RAM) for $199 (use code: LT199 - list price $299). Segway Mini Pro w/ App Control, 14-Mile Range & 10MPH Speed for $599 (list price $799). Starts 12AM Monday: CyberPower 1500VA Uninterruptible Power Supply w/ Pure Sinewave for $129.95 (list price $204.89). Starts 12AM Monday: Kindle Unlimited Reading 1-Year for $80.32, 2-Year for $143.85 (Orig $120 for 1yr, $240 for 2yr). Starts 12AM Monday: $0.99 Amazon Dash Button + $4.99 Credit for $0.99 (use code: CYBERDASH). See the latest Cyber Monday Deals as they go live at TechBargains... Amazon Electronics: Media Streamers, Tablets Echo Speakers, Kindles & more Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: flickr user: sari_dennise) If an influenza pandemic were to hit us tomorrow, who would need the most help? Obvious answers include children, the elderly, and people who are already ill. We expect them to be at higher risk than healthy adults—but that isn’t always the case. What about the poor? Depending on who you ask, intuitions vary: some people assume influenza does not discriminate by social class and that everyone is at risk. Others might guess that conditions that go hand-in-hand with poverty (like poor access to healthcare or crowded living quarters) create a higher level of risk. But everyone is guessing, because evidence on this question has been surprisingly difficult to pin down. While many studies have analyzed the risks of flu on a country or county level, the city-level is where we’d really be able to compare strong gradients in wealth to risks from the pandemic. That’s what a recent paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) does: it compares census data dating from the 1918 flu pandemic in Chicago to health records from the time. “We had this great data,” says Madhura Rane, one of the authors of the paper, “and we thought it would be interesting to see this association on a small spatial scale.” She and her fellow authors found evidence that poverty made a difference in that pandemic. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The screenshot that kicked off a multi-year easter egg hunt. (credit: Bertojones) Just below the peak of Mount Chiliad, a huge mountain in the far north of San Andreas, a mysterious mural sits high atop a cliff face. It looks like a map of the mountain's interior—a network of tunnels that connect five small chambers and three large ones with what appear to be a UFO, an egg, and a jetpack within them. Whether it's actually a map isn't clear. Nearby, painted on the bottom edge of a lookout platform, are the words "come back when your journey is complete." And beneath that, painted on the ground, there's a red eye. It's a strange and alluring set of odd, possibly related mysteries. And for most people who see them, that's all they are—a curiosity in a world full of curiosities that Rockstar made to give Grand Theft Auto V's setting a sense of being lived in. But for a diehard group of mystery hunters, and for the hundreds of thousands of intrigued onlookers who keep tabs on their work, these phenomena hold the key to something big. Possibly huge. It's a secret that may be of monumental significance, or that at the very least must involve something really cool: a hidden jetpack, maybe a UFO you can fly, or a super-awesome weapon. Whatever it is, these sleuthing gamers want it. And they won't stop until they either find it or prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the whole thing is one enormous wild goose chase. Read 36 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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