Diablo IV’s first hours provide welcome twists on a familiar formula

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Diablo IV’s first hours provide welcome twists on a familiar formula

Mixing diesel and hydrogen provides big cuts in emissions

Image of a large engine.

Enlarge / Diesel engines can be modified to burn a diesel-hydrogen mix. (credit: DjelicS)

A team of engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney has figured out a way to run a diesel engine on a mix of diesel and hydrogen, dramatically lowering its emissions.

Why do we even need a diesel-hydrogen hybrid engine when there are already many great electric vehicles available? EVs are definitely great for households, but they still don’t match heavy diesel engines’ performance in some contexts, such as mining, long-distance transportation, power generation, and agriculture.

At present, there are 26,000 trains in the US that run on diesel, and there are potentially millions of trucks, generators, and other industry-grade equipment that require diesel to deliver optimum performance. It might take decades for EV technology to replace diesel engines in such industries. While it’s easy for a normal person to sell an old car and buy a new EV, such changes come at a high cost to industries.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Mixing diesel and hydrogen provides big cuts in emissions

Fifty years later, remastered images reveal Apollo 17 in stunning clarity

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Fifty years later, remastered images reveal Apollo 17 in stunning clarity

Squad’s solar-powered city car is coming to the US in 2024

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Squad’s solar-powered city car is coming to the US in 2024

Marsquakes, recent volcanism suggest Mars still has a mantle plume

Image of a steep-sided valley from above.

Enlarge / One of the rifts in the Cerebrus Fossae area, potentially created by the stretching of the crust driven by a mantle plume. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

The Mars InSight lander included the first seismograph placed on the red planet, and it has picked up everything from marsquakes to impacts and provided lots of new information on Mars’ interior. But perhaps its most striking finding has been that almost all of Mars’ seismic activity appears to originate from a single location, a site called Elysium Planitia.

That area is also the site of the most recent volcanic activity we’ve detected on Mars. In a paper released this week, scientists argue that both derive from a single source: a plume of hot material rising through the mantle. It’s the sort of geological activity that creates hotspots like Iceland and Yellowstone on Earth, but it had been thought that Mars had cooled too much to support those activities.

Building a case

Elysium Planitia is a generally flat region covering roughly a million square kilometers. It’s just at the edge of Mars’ northern lowlands, but it sits nearly a kilometer above them. Many of its features are old, including a series of ridges thought to be caused by the compression of Mars’ interior as it cooled. But it also has signs of recent volcanic activity, though not nearly as much as the nearby Tharsis region, which contains Mars’ largest volcanoes.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Marsquakes, recent volcanism suggest Mars still has a mantle plume

Review: The 2022 Dell XPS 13 is more than just a pretty face

two Dell XPS 13 2022 (9315) laptops

Enlarge (credit: Scharon Harding)

Specs at a glance: Dell XPS 13 2022 (9315)
Worst Best As reviewed
Screen 13.4-inch 1920×1200 IPS non-touchscreen 13.4-inch 1920×1200 IPS touchscreen
OS Windows 11 Home Windows 11 Pro Windows 11 Home
CPU Intel Core i5-1230U Intel Core i7-1250U vPro Intel Core i5-1230U
RAM 8GB LPDDR5-5200 32GB LPDDR5-5200 16GB LPDDR5-5200
Storage 512GB NVMe PCIe 4.0 x2 SSD 1TB NVMe PCIe 4.0 x2 SSD 512GB NVMe PCIe 4.0 x2 SSD
GPU Intel Iris Xe
Networking Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4
Size 11.63×7.86×0.55 inches
(295.4×199.4×13.99 mm)
Weight 2.59 lbs
(1.17 kg)
Battery 51 Wh
Warranty 1 year
Price (MSRP) $849 $1,499 $1,150
Other USB-C to USB-A and USB-C to 3.5 mm adapters included

I was treated to a welcome surprise when I first laid eyes on the latest Dell XPS 13 (9315). The color options—a youthful sky blue or a unique purplish brown—are visual candy in a PC world dominated by shimmery silvers, grown-up grays, and boring blacks. Dell’s 2022 XPS 13 doesn’t compromise by offering a more traditional colorway for cheaper, as prior XPS 13 laptops did, either.

After I moved past appearances, I found there was more to enjoy under the hood. While this machine isn’t as wild of a redesign as the one given to the costlier Dell XPS 13 Plus, the company did some tinkering to make the XPS 13 lighter and thinner than ever, all while accommodating quality-of-life upgrades like better speakers and a bigger battery. Unfortunately, it has a dreadfully limited and dongle-dependent port selection.

There are flashier alternatives for a thin-and-light laptop, but the 2022 XPS 13 is an admirable clamshell with more to offer than a couple of unique hues.

Read 42 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Review: The 2022 Dell XPS 13 is more than just a pretty face

New find suggests ankylosaur’s tail clubs were for bashing each other

Image of two squat dinosaurs circling each other and swinging their tails.

Enlarge / The tail clubs of ankylosaur species seem to have been used to bash each other rather than predators. (credit: Henry Sharpe)

New research indicates that the tail clubs on huge armored dinosaurs known as ankylosaurs may have evolved to whack each other rather than deter hungry predators. This is a complete shift from what was previously believed.

Prior to the paper published today in Biology Letters, most scientists looked upon the dinosaur’s tail club, a substantial bony protrusion comprised of two oval-shaped knobs, primarily as a defense against predation. The team behind the new paper argues that this is not necessarily the case. To make their case, they focus on years of ankylosaur research, analysis of the fossil record, and data from an exceptionally well-preserved specimen named Zuul crurivastator.

Zuul’s name, in fact, embraces that previous idea. While “Zuul” references the creature in the original Ghostbusters, the two Latin words that make up its species name are crus (shin or shank) and vastator (destroyer). Hence, the destroyer of shins: a direct reference to where the dinosaur’s club may have struck injured approaching tyrannosaurs or other theropods.

Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – New find suggests ankylosaur’s tail clubs were for bashing each other

Adobe Stock begins selling AI-generated artwork

An AI-generated watercolor illustration, now eligible for inclusion in Adobe Stock.

Enlarge / An AI-generated watercolor illustration, now eligible for inclusion in Adobe Stock. (credit: Benj Edwards / Ars Technica)

On Monday, Adobe announced that its stock photography service, Adobe Stock, would begin allowing artists to submit AI-generated imagery for sale, Axios reports. The move comes during Adobe’s embrace of image synthesis and also during industry-wide efforts to deal with the rapidly growing field of AI artwork in the stock art business, including earlier announcements from Shutterstock and Getty Images.

Submitting AI-generated imagery to Adobe Stock comes with a few restrictions. The artist must own (or have the rights to use) the image, AI-synthesized artwork must be submitted as an illustration (even if photorealistic), and it must be labeled with “Generative AI” in the title.

Further, each AI artwork must adhere to Adobe’s new Generative AI Content Guidelines, which require the artist to include a model release for any real person depicted realistically in the artwork. Artworks that incorporate illustrations of people or fictional brands, characters, or properties require a property release that attests the artist owns all necessary rights to license the content to Adobe Stock.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Adobe Stock begins selling AI-generated artwork

Apple announces sweeping changes to App Store pricing

Apple unveiled the most sweeping change yet to the App Store pricing model it applies to all apps submitted to its app stores on Tuesday. In the new system, app developers will have substantially more control over how they price their apps.

Apple’s App Store has a history of offering relatively limited price point options to app and game developers. With the new policies, the minimum app price has dropped from $0.99 to $0.29, and the maximum has risen from $1,000 to $10,000. Prices can include $0.10, $0.50, $1, $5, $10, and $100. Supported conventions include X.99, X.00, X.90, and X.95.

Here’s Apple’s specific wording:

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Apple announces sweeping changes to App Store pricing

Apple’s Self Service Repair program launches in Europe

Some of the tools and parts offered in Apple's Self Service Repair program appear in this photo.

Enlarge / Some of the tools and parts offered in Apple’s Self Service Repair program appear in this photo. (credit: Apple)

As of Tuesday, Apple’s Self Service Repair program is now available in eight European countries. It had launched in the United States back in April, with promises from the company to expand to other countries by the end of the year.

The countries included in this rollout are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

The program allows individual customers to purchase the same repair manuals, parts, and tools that Apple uses to perform repairs. Two hundred individual parts and tools are available through Apple’s Self Service Repair Store. In addition to buying the parts, customers can rent repair kits for £54.90 with free shipping.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Apple’s Self Service Repair program launches in Europe

Android Automotive is getting its 38th app: Waze

Waze for Android Automotive.

Enlarge / Waze for Android Automotive. (credit: Waze)

Google’s other big navigation app, Waze, is coming to Android Automotive. Today the company announced the move on the Waze blog, saying, “The new dedicated Waze app for cars brings the best of Waze real-time navigation, routing and alerts feature[s] right in the car’s display. When you drive, you can experience safer and more convenient journeys while eliminating the hassle of using a smartphone.”

Google has two different car products with really confusing branding. The first is Android Auto. This is Google’s version of CarPlay—an app that runs on your phone but projects a special car interface to your vehicle’s dashboard display, showing off Google Maps and compatible Android Auto apps on your phone. Waze has been on Android Auto since 2017. Today’s announcement is for Android Automotive, a different product from Android Auto. Automotive, the fully spelled-out version, is a full operating system instead of an app. Cars have infotainment computers in them, and Android Automotive OS (AAOS) has the car run Android. Even if there’s an iPhone in your pocket, your car runs Android on the car’s internal computer instead of something like Linux or QNX. AAOS has a car version of the Play Store, where you can download apps directly to your car, and it’s this platform that Waze is arriving on. Android Automotive is pretty rare out there in the world, but you’ll see it on new Volvo/Polestar, Ford, and GM cars, mostly. Sometimes Google or car manufacturers will call AAOS “cars with Google built-in.”

The app situation on Android Automotive is tough. In-car infotainment systems are heavily regulated due to safety concerns to the point that every app and individual interface needs to be vetted by regulatory bodies around the world. This is incredibly difficult, expensive, and time-consuming for app developers, which is a big reason Android Automotive only has 37 apps right now. You can see the full list here. AAOS only allows for media and navigation apps, and even the media apps don’t get a custom interface—you just plug into Google’s interface with your own branding and audio stream, which alleviates the regulatory burden but limits what apps can do.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Android Automotive is getting its 38th app: Waze

Meta needs explicit user consent to run personalized ads, EU watchdog rules

Meta needs explicit user consent to run personalized ads, EU watchdog rules

Enlarge (credit: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket)

Meta has already been coping with a slump in ad revenue this year, and now a decision from European Union privacy regulators threatens to reduce Meta’s ad revenue even more next year. According to Reuters, a person familiar with the matter said that the European Data Protection Board ruled Monday that Meta cannot continue targeting ads based on its own users’ online activity—like the Instagram reels they’ve viewed or Facebook profiles they’ve clicked.

If the EU data privacy watchdog gets its way, Meta could face “hefty fines,” Reuters reported, for continuing to rely on its terms of service to gain user consent for running personalized ads.

But this decision has not yet been publicly disclosed, The Wall Street Journal reported, and it won’t be finalized until Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) issues public orders. That could take a month, and at any point, Meta could appeal either decision.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Meta needs explicit user consent to run personalized ads, EU watchdog rules

New Winamp update adds features, fixes, and (sigh) support for “music NFTs”

New Winamp update adds features, fixes, and (sigh) support for “music NFTs”

Enlarge (credit: Winamp/Andrew Cunningham)

If you’d asked me in January to make some predictions about what 2022 would bring, I don’t think “multiple significant updates to the Winamp player” would have been on the list. But the release candidate for version 5.9.1 of the software builds on the groundwork laid by August’s 5.9 update to fix some bugs and add new features to the reanimated music player. Most of these are straightforward updates or improvements to existing features, but because it’s 2022, one of the only new features is support for music NFTs.

My rudimentary understanding (gleaned mostly from sites like NFT Now that are focused almost exclusively on the purported benefits rather than the downsides) is that music NFTs operate like NFT images, except that the NFT provides a link to a digital music file instead of a link to a JPG. The benefits, according to advocates, are that artists can earn more money by creating scarcity (releasing unique or limited-run tracks, for example) and by getting a cut of secondhand sales of the NFT that happen between fans.

But being an updated version of a Windows 98-era music player, the support for NFT music in Winamp is a bit roundabout. People with NFT music libraries will need to export them from whatever platform they use and then import them into Winamp as an .m3u playlist. Winamp provided a video of this process, which we’ve included below.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – New Winamp update adds features, fixes, and (sigh) support for “music NFTs”

Someone paid $95,000 for this pair of jeans recovered from 1857 shipwreck

old pair of jeans looking extremely distressed

Enlarge / Would you pay $95,000 for these jeans? They were salvaged from the wreck of the SS Central America, which sank in 1857. (credit: Holabird Western Americana Collections)

A pair of men’s jeans recovered from the wreckage of a 19th-century steamer ship fetched an eye-popping $95,000 at auction last week. Per the auction house description, it’s the earliest known pair of five-button fly, heavy-duty work pants, most likely made by or for Levi Strauss & Company in the 1850s. The pants went down with the SS Central America off the Carolina coast during a hurricane in September 1857 and are remarkably well-preserved, thanks to the anaerobic environment where they were found. Previously, the oldest known pair of Levi’s was found in an abandoned mine shaft and dated back to the 1880s, selling at auction earlier this year for $87,400.

The SS Central America was a 280-foot steamer operating between Central America and the US East Coast in the 1850s. On its ill-fated final voyage, it carried 587 passengers and crew, many of whom had traveled from San Francisco to Panama via another steamship. (This was before the construction of the Panama Canal.) Among its cargo were thousands of freshly minted 1857 Double Eagle coins, along with older gold coins and ingots (gold bricks)—hence its nickname, the “Ship of Gold.”

The voyage started out smoothly enough, but on September 9, 1857, a Category 2 hurricane hit, shredding the ship’s sails. Two days later, it took on water, and the paddle wheels and boiler failed. The sharp drop in steam pressure also shut down both bilge pumps, so both passengers and crew worked strenuously as part of a bucket brigade to fight off the rising water. There was a brief calm, but the crew couldn’t get the boilers restarted, and soon the hurricane was back in full force.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Someone paid ,000 for this pair of jeans recovered from 1857 shipwreck

Amazon offering a whopping $2/month to let it stalk your phone

In this photo illustration an Amazon logo seen displayed on

Enlarge (credit: Getty)

Amazon has gotten flak for how it handles user and partner data, but that hasn’t stopped it from launching a program that openly pays to stalk opt-in participants’ smartphone traffic. The ad-verification scheme is similar to demised programs from other tech giants, like Google, and gives Amazon access to members’ phone data to learn about how they interact with advertisements.

As reported by Insider on Monday, Amazon is now offering payment for ad verification to members of the Amazon Shopper Panel, an invite-only reward program available to US and UK Amazon customers.

As per an image shared on the Shopper Panel’s website, users can opt in to ad verification, which lets Amazon “confirm which ads from Amazon they saw on their device. This can include Amazon’s own advertising or ads from third-party businesses that advertise through Amazon ads.”

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Amazon offering a whopping /month to let it stalk your phone

In win for EU, Amazon will settle high-profile antitrust probes

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – In win for EU, Amazon will settle high-profile antitrust probes

Stalkers’ “chilling” use of AirTags spurs class-action suit against Apple

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/discussion-of-apple-airtags-by-washington-post-reporter-news-photo/1239635536?phrase=apple%20airtag

Enlarge (credit: The Washington Post / Contributor | The Washington Post)

When Apple released AirTags in 2021, the small electronic tracking devices were touted by top executives as being “stalker-proof.” Since then, Vice reported a minimum of 150 police cases documenting stalkers using AirTags, and there have already been two severe stalking cases involving AirTags that ended in murder in Ohio and Indiana.

Confronted by police reports and concerns from privacy advocates, Apple released updates in February, claiming that new features would mitigate reported stalking risks. Stalking reports kept coming, though, and it increasingly seemed to victims that Apple had not done enough to adequately secure AirTags. Now, Apple is being sued by two women who claim that the company is still marketing a “dangerous” product.

In the complaint filed yesterday in a federal court in California, the women suing Apple say that AirTags have become “one of the most dangerous and frightening technologies employed by stalkers.” It has become the “weapon of choice,” they say, because the small size makes the devices hard to detect, the accuracy of Apple’s location tracking is “unparalleled,” and the $29 price is extremely affordable. Victims say that stalkers can effectively track them, and if the device gets deactivated, AirTags are easy to replace at the next opportunity.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Stalkers’ “chilling” use of AirTags spurs class-action suit against Apple

Pixel 7 update adds AI-powered noise reduction to incoming phone calls

The Pixel 7 Pro.

Enlarge / The Pixel 7 Pro. (credit: Ron Amadeo / Ars Technica)

Google is shipping its first big Android patch since the release of Android 13.

Rolling out to Pixel phones now is Android 13 Quarterly Platform Release 1 (QPR1), which contains a few new features, 77 bug fixes named in a huge support post, 151 Pixel-specific security issues outlined in the December Security Bulletin for Pixels, and a bunch of other security patches in the more generic Android Security Bulletin. On the Pixel 7, this is a monster 500MB patch.

The Pixel 7 is getting an always-on VPN from Google, just like the VPN service that is already offered to Google Fi (Google cell service) and Google One (extra Google storage) subscribers. The feature will run all your traffic through an encrypted tunnel that connects directly to Google’s servers and could theoretically stop Internet service providers and other Wi-Fi users from spying on your activity. It’s hard to say who a Google VPN is for since, if you’re privacy-conscious, Google is probably near the top of the list of companies you don’t trust, but it’s here if you want it. For what it’s worth, Google says it only does “minimal logging” and doesn’t track users. To enable the VPN, you’ll need to install the “Google One” app if it’s not already on your phone.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Pixel 7 update adds AI-powered noise reduction to incoming phone calls

Neuralink faces federal probe over alleged animal abuse, “hack job” surgeries

Pager, a nine-year-old Macaque, plays MindPong with his Neuralink.

Enlarge / Pager, a nine-year-old Macaque, plays MindPong with his Neuralink. (credit: YouTube/NeuraLink)

Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface company Neuralink is under investigation by the US Department of Agriculture for possible animal welfare violations amid allegations from current and former employees that the company abused animals in slapdash research leading to “hack job” surgeries spurred by Musk’s rushed timelines.

That’s all according to an exclusive investigation published late Monday by Reuters, which reviewed internal Neuralink documents and records and interviewed over 20 current and former Neuralink employees.

According to Reuters, the USDA Inspector General opened an investigation into Neuralink in recent months at the request of a federal prosecutor. The investigation focuses on possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which regulates the treatment of animals involved in research and other activities and is enforced by the USDA. Reuters was unable to determine the full scope of the investigation. The USDA inspector general declined to comment on Reuter’s investigation. Regulatory filings show that Neuralink has passed previous USDA inspections.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Neuralink faces federal probe over alleged animal abuse, “hack job” surgeries

Paying for a power boost in an EV—good idea or worst idea?

Paying for a power boost in an EV—good idea or worst idea?

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

For some years now, the tech industry has been transforming the automobile. We often hear that consumers, enamored with their new smartphones, want some of that same functionality in their new car. Less is said about investors who have grown rich from software companies that sell a product and then charge customers a subscription or fee to unlock certain features. They really do want that functionality in their car company investments, so the era of being offered paid upgrades to your car is here whether you want it or not.

Today, Polestar announced a power upgrade for owners of the long-range, dual-motor Polestar 2, whose two motors generated an equal 201 hp (150 kW) for a combined 402 hp (300 kW). That’s more than sufficient to make the dual-motor Polestar 2 a quick car, befitting the new brand’s stated identity of being focused on electric performance cars.

The only problem is those electric Volvos that share the Polestar 2’s CMA platform. Both the Volvo C40 and XC40 have dual-motor battery-electric vehicles that, just like the Polestar 2, offer a combined 402 hp. With cars so utterly defined by the software that controls them, it’s easier than it used to be to give them different driving personalities. But perhaps to create a bit more differentiation, Polestar has always offered a performance pack.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments



Source: Ars Technica – Paying for a power boost in an EV—good idea or worst idea?