Tech News

This Porsche plug-in SUV is a pricey dayglo antidepressant on wheels

Cars - Posted On:2020-09-21 13:30:00 Source: arstechnica

The car you picture when someone says "Porsche" probably isn't an SUV. Yet these days, most of the vehicles that Porsche builds are SUVs. Last year, it sold nearly 100,000 Macans and more than 92,000 Cayennes. Add up all the 911s and 718s and Panameras across the same 12 months and you only get 88,000.

I offer these numbers to say that SUVs keep the lights on at Porsche. And when the company's engineers are called upon to build one, they make sure that it's packed full of Porsche attitude. It's the same attitude that has spent decades proving that, actually, you can put the engine behind a car's rear wheels and still make a safe-handling sports car. A Macan or a Cayenne has to also be a Porsche as much as it is an SUV. If you just want German luxury, you'll find it cheaper—and more luxurious—at Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz.

But if cheap German luxury is what you're looking for, the 2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupé is definitely not the SUV for you. It's the most expensive Porsche SUV you can buy—a base price of $164,400 before one hits the notoriously expansive, expensive options list. It's an awful lot of money for a car, whichever way you slice it.

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GNOME Gets New Versioning Scheme

linux - Posted On:2020-09-21 13:30:00 Source: slashdot

AmiMoJo writes: The GNOME 3 desktop environment was officially released in 2011, and in 2020 we are still on version 3.x. Yeah, despite many massive changes over the last (almost) decade, we have been stuck with point releases for GNOME 3. For instance, just last week, GNOME 3.38 was released. Historically, the stable releases all ended in even numbers, with pre-release versions ending in odd. For fans of the DE, such as yours truly, we have simply learned to live with this odd versioning scheme. Well, folks, with the next version of GNOME, the developers have finally decided to move on from version 3.x. You are probably thinking the new version will be 4.0, but you'd be very wrong. Actually, following GNOME3.38 will be GNOME 40. "After nearly 10 years of 3.x releases, the minor version number is getting unwieldy. It is also exceedingly clear that we're not going to bump the major version because of technological changes in the core platform, like we did for GNOME 2 and 3, and then piling on a major UX change on top of that. Radical technological and design changes are too disruptive for maintainers, users, and developers; we have become pretty good at iterating design and technologies, to the point that the current GNOME platform, UI, and UX are fairly different from what was released with GNOME 3.0, while still following the same design tenets," says Emmanuele Bassi, The GNOME Foundation. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Microsoft purchases Bethesda Softworks in industry-changing acquisition [Updated]

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2020-09-21 13:00:00 Source: arstechnica

Major game franchises like Doom, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and more will soon be Microsoft properties. That's because the Xbox and Windows maker announced Monday morning it is buying the corporate parent of Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax Media.

"Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways," Microsoft wrote in its announcement. "All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you."

Bethesda has confirmed an acquisition price tag of $7.5 billion. For context, that's three times the price Microsoft paid for Minecraft maker Mojang back in 2014. Mojang, of course, continued to be a multiplatform developer after its Microsoft acquisition—a decision that led to the odd sight of Microsoft publishing a Mario-themed "Mash-Up Pack" for Minecraft on Nintendo consoles.

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Apparent Racial Bias Found in Twitter Photo Algorithm

technology - Posted On:2020-09-21 12:45:00 Source: slashdot

An algorithm Twitter uses to decide how photos are cropped in people's timelines appears to be automatically electing to display the faces of white people over people with darker skin pigmentation. From a report: The apparent bias was discovered in recent days by Twitter users posting photos on the social media platform. A Twitter spokesperson said the company plans to reevaluate the algorithm and make the results available for others to review or replicate. Twitter scrapped its face detection algorithm in 2017 for a saliency detection algorithm, which is made to predict the most important part of an image. A Twitter spokesperson said today that no race or gender bias was found in evaluation of the algorithm before it was deployed "but it's clear we have more analysis to do." Twitter engineer Zehan Wang tweeted that bias was detected in 2017 before the algorithm was deployed but not at "significant" levels. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Windows 10 Health Report: September 2020 Updates' problems and fixes

Security - Posted On:2020-09-21 12:30:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

This Windows 10 Health Report provides an overview of the problems people are encountering in September 2020 due to new cumulative updates or changes made in the operating system. [...]

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Strava app shows your info to nearby users unless this setting is disabled

Security - Posted On:2020-09-21 12:15:01 Source: bleepingcomputer

Popular running and cycling app Strava exposes information on nearby strangers which has sparked privacy concerns among its users. Some fear this functionality can be abused for stalking and "predatory" motives. [...]

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Trump Says ByteDance Can't Keep Control of TikTok in Oracle Deal

developers - Posted On:2020-09-21 12:15:00 Source: slashdot

President Donald Trump said he might rescind his tentative blessing for a deal between Oracle and ByteDance to create a new U.S.-based TikTok service, casting doubt on the agreement as Chinese state media signaled reluctance in Beijing. From a report: Speaking in an interview on Fox News on Monday, Trump said he wouldn't approve the deal if the Chinese company retains control of TikTok. However, he also indicated that he expected Chinese influence to be diluted by a future public offering of the new company. "They will have nothing to do with it, and if they do, we just won't make the deal," Trump said, referring to ByteDance, which owns TikTok. "It's going to be controlled, totally controlled by Oracle, and I guess they're going public and they're buying out the rest of it -- they're buying out a lot, and if we find that they don't have total control then we're not going to approve the deal." Shortly after Trump's comments, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the China state-affiliated Global Times, tweeted that Beijing would likely reject the deal "because the agreement would endanger China's national security, interests and dignity." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Android 11—The Ars Technica Review

Features - Posted On:2020-09-21 11:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Android 11 has finally arrived after a lengthy beta process that started approximately three years ago in February 2020. This is the 30th release of Android, if we're counting by API levels, and in a year when it seems nearly everything has been delayed or canceled, Google has managed to turn in one of the smaller Android releases.

Last year, Android 10 was a massive release, adding gesture navigation, a dark mode, Project Mainline, a dual-boot system, scoped storage, foldable smartphone support, and a million other things. In comparison, Android 11 is more limited. This being the annual Ars Technica review, however, there are of course still plenty of things to talk about—like yet another notification panel revamp, a new media player, chat bubbles, smart home controls, and more.

The notification panel is one of the biggest strengths of Android, and Google can't seem to let a major release go by without iterating on it. This year, the theme seems to be around organization and creating what Google calls a "dedicated persistent space" for certain types of notifications.

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Facebook Threatens To Pull Out of Europe If It Doesn't Get Its Way

technology - Posted On:2020-09-21 11:30:00 Source: slashdot

Facebook has threatened to pack up its toys and go home if European regulators don't back down and let the social network get its own way. From a report: In a court filing in Dublin, Facebook said that a decision by Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC) would force the company to pull up stakes and leave the 410 million people who use Facebook and photo-sharing service Instagram in the lurch. If the decision is upheld, "it is not clear to [Facebook] how, in those circumstances, it could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU," Yvonne Cunnane, who is Facebook Ireland's head of data protection and associate general counsel, wrote in a sworn affidavit. The decision Facebook's referring to is a preliminary order handed down last month to stop the transfer of data about European customers to servers in the U.S., over concerns about U.S. government surveillance of the data. Facebook hit back by filing a lawsuit challenging the Irish DPC's ban, and in a sworn affidavit filed this week, the company leveled some very serious accusations about the Irish data-protection commissioner, including a lack of fairness and apparent bias in singling out Facebook. Cunnane points out that Facebook was given only three weeks to respond to the decision, a period that is "manifestly inadequate," adding that Facebook wasn't contacted about the inquiry prior to judgment being handed down. She also raises concerns about the decision being made "solely" by Helen Dixon, Ireland's data protection commissioner. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Proposal would give EU power to boot tech giants out of European market

Policy - Posted On:2020-09-21 10:59:56 Source: arstechnica

The EU wants to arm itself with new powers to take on big technology companies, including the ability to force them to break up or sell some of their European operations if their market dominance is deemed to threaten the interests of customers and smaller rivals.

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton told the Financial Times that the proposed remedies, which he said would only be used in extreme circumstances, also include the ability to exclude large tech groups from the single market altogether.

In addition, Brussels is considering a rating system that would allow the public and stakeholders to assess companies’ behavior in areas such as tax compliance and the speed with which they take down illegal content.

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EU seeks new powers to penalize tech giants

Policy - Posted On:2020-09-21 10:44:56 Source: arstechnica

The EU wants to arm itself with new powers to take on big technology companies, including the ability to force them to break up or sell some of their European operations if their market dominance is deemed to threaten the interests of customers and smaller rivals.

EU commissioner Thierry Breton told the Financial Times that the proposed remedies, which he said would only be used in extreme circumstances, also include the ability to exclude large tech groups from the single market altogether.

In addition, Brussels is considering a rating system that would allow the public and stakeholders to assess companies’ behavior in areas such as tax compliance and the speed with which they take down illegal content.

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'Huang's Law Is the New Moore's Law'

hardware - Posted On:2020-09-21 10:44:56 Source: slashdot

As chip makers have reached the limits of atomic-scale circuitry and the physics of electrons, Moore's law has slowed, and some say it's over. But a different law, potentially no less consequential for computing's next half century, has arisen. WSJ: I call it Huang's Law, after Nvidia chief executive and co-founder Jensen Huang. It describes how the silicon chips that power artificial intelligence more than double in performance every two years. While the increase can be attributed to both hardware and software, its steady progress makes it a unique enabler of everything from autonomous cars, trucks and ships to the face, voice and object recognition in our personal gadgets. Between November 2012 and this May, performance of Nvidia's chips increased 317 times for an important class of AI calculations, says Bill Dally, chief scientist and senior vice president of research at Nvidia. On average, in other words, the performance of these chips more than doubled every year, a rate of progress that makes Moore's Law pale in comparison. Nvidia's specialty has long been graphics processing units, or GPUs, which operate efficiently when there are many independent tasks to be done simultaneously. Central processing units, or CPUs, like the kind that Intel specializes in, are on the other hand much less efficient but better at executing a single, serial task very quickly. You can't chop up every computing process so that it can be efficiently handled by a GPU, but for the ones you can -- including many AI applications -- you can perform it many times as fast while expending the same power. Intel was a primary driver of Moore's Law, but it was hardly the only one. Perpetuating it required tens of thousands of engineers and billions of dollars in investment across hundreds of companies around the globe. Similarly, Nvidia isn't alone in driving Huang's Law -- and in fact its own type of AI processing might, in some applications, be losing its appeal. That's probably a major reason it has moved to acquire chip architect Arm Holdings this month, another company key to ongoing improvement in the speed of AI, for $40 billion. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Microsoft is purchasing ZeniMax Media/Bethesda for $7.5 billion

Security - Posted On:2020-09-21 10:14:57 Source: bleepingcomputer

Today, Microsoft announced it's plans to purchase Zenimax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Software, for $7.5 billion. [...]

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Microsoft's Xbox Expands, Buying ZeniMax Media and Fallout Maker Bethesda For $7.5 Billion

games - Posted On:2020-09-21 10:14:56 Source: slashdot

Microsoft's Xbox team significantly expanded its list of game development studios on Monday, announcing the purchase of ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in cash. From a report: The entertainment company owns several industry-leading game developers, including Bethesda Softworks, the maker of the post-apocalyptic Fallout games and the fantasy series the Elder Scrolls. It also owns id Software, known for its Doom, Rage and Wolfenstein shooting game franchises. The move grows the number of in-house Xbox game development studios to 23, up from 15 earlier, and giving it control of some of the game industry's most popular franchises. Microsoft also plans to run Bethesda as its own division, with leadership and structure intact. "As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games, and together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Microsoft purchases Bethesda Softworks in industry-changing acquisition

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2020-09-21 09:44:57 Source: arstechnica

Major game franchises like Doom, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and more are now Microsoft properties. That's because the Xbox and Windows maker announced Monday morning it is buying the corporate parent of Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax Media.

"Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways," Microsoft wrote in its announcement. "All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you."

Bethesda has confirmed an acquisition price tag of $7.5 billion. For context, that's three times the price Microsoft paid for Minecraft maker Mojang back in 2014.

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The Lumos Matrix is the ideal urban bike helmet for a smarter, safer day trip

Gadgets - Posted On:2020-09-21 08:59:57 Source: techcrunch

With many of us are still more or less confined to our own homes and limited social spaces for the foreseeable future, and for a lot of you, that has led to a rediscovery of the joys of biking. Bike riding is a great way to spend time outdoors exploring your own town or city, […]

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With $100M in funding, Playco is already a mobile gaming unicorn

Funding - Posted On:2020-09-21 08:14:58 Source: techcrunch

Playco is a new mobile gaming startup created by Game Closure co-founder Michael Carter and Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron, as well as game producers Takeshi Otsuka and Teddy Cross. Although the Tokyo-headquartered company is only announcing its existence today, it’s already a unicorn — it says it’s raised $100 million in Series A funding, at […]

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Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple Urged to Stop Advertising to Minors

technology - Posted On:2020-09-21 07:44:57 Source: slashdot

The BBC reports: Tech firms have been urged to stop advertising to under-18s in an open letter signed by Members of Parliament, academics and children's-rights advocates. Behavioural advertising not only undermines privacy but puts "susceptible" youngsters under unfair marketing pressure, the letter says. It is addressed to Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. In a separate move Google-owned YouTube is accused of unlawfully mining data from five million under-13s in the UK... "The fact that ad-tech companies hold 72 million data points on a child by the time they turn 13 shows the extent of disregard for these laws, and the extraordinary surveillance to which children are subjected," the letter reads. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google Returns to Using Humans (Instead of AI) to Moderate Content on YouTube

news - Posted On:2020-09-21 04:44:58 Source: slashdot

"Google is bringing back human moderators to oversee YouTube content, taking over from automated systems that were given more responsibilities at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic," reports Digital Trends: YouTube revealed in late August that in the three months prior, 11.4 million videos have been removed from the platform for violating its Community Guidelines. This is the highest number of videos taken down from YouTube over a three-month period since the service was launched in 2005, and it was attributed to the higher reliance on A.I. as the pandemic prevented human reviewers from going to work. YouTube admitted, however, that some of the videos would have been erroneously removed... Mashable reports: According to the Financial Times, YouTube reversed content moderation decisions on 160,000 videos. Usually, YouTube reverses its rulings on less than 25 percent of appeals; under AI moderation, half of the total number of appeals were successful... Now, the company is able to reassign some of that work back to humans who can make more nuanced decisions. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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From Climate Change to the Dangers of Smoking: How Powerful Interests 'Made Us Doubt Everything'

news - Posted On:2020-09-21 01:29:58 Source: slashdot

BBC News reports: In 1991, the trade body that represents electrical companies in the U.S., the Edison Electric Institute, created a campaign called the Information Council for the Environment which aimed to "Reposition global warming as theory (not fact)". Some details of the campaign were leaked to the New York Times. "They ran advertising campaigns designed to undermine public support, cherry picking the data to say, 'Well if the world is warming up, why is Kentucky getting colder?' They asked rhetorical questions designed to create confusion, to create doubt," argued Naomi Oreskes, professor of the history of science at Harvard University and co-author of Merchants of Doubt. But back in the 1990 there were many campaigns like this... Most of the organisations opposing or denying climate change science were right-wing think tanks, who tended to be passionately anti-regulation. These groups made convenient allies for the oil industry, as they would argue against action on climate change on ideological grounds. Jerry Taylor spent 23 years with the Cato Institute — one of those right wing think tanks — latterly as vice president. Before he left in 2014, he would regularly appear on TV and radio, insisting that the science of climate change was uncertain and there was no need to act. Now, he realises his arguments were based on a misinterpretation of the science, and he regrets the impact he's had on the debate. Harvard historian Naomi Oreskes discovered leading climate-change skeptics had also been prominent skeptics on the dangers of cigarette smoking. "That was a Eureka moment," Oreskes tells BBC News. "We realised this was not a scientific debate." Decades before the energy industry tried to undermine the case for climate change, tobacco companies had used the same techniques to challenge the emerging links between smoking and lung cancer in the 1950s... As a later document by tobacco company Brown and Williamson summarised the approach: "Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public." Naomi Oreskes says this understanding of the power of doubt is vital. "They realise they can't win this battle by making a false claim that sooner or later would be exposed. But if they can create doubt, that would be sufficient — because if people are confused about the issue, there's a good chance they'll just keep smoking...." Academics like David Michaels, author of The Triumph of Doubt, fear the use of uncertainty in the past to confuse the public and undermine science has contributed to a dangerous erosion of trust in facts and experts across the globe today, far beyond climate science or the dangers of tobacco. He cites public attitudes to modern issues like the safety of 5G, vaccinations — and coronavirus. "By cynically manipulating and distorting scientific evidence, the manufacturers of doubt have seeded in much of the public a cynicism about science, making it far more difficult to convince people that science provides useful — in some cases, vitally important — information. "There is no question that this distrust of science and scientists is making it more difficult to stem the coronavirus pandemic." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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