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Google sister company puts glucose-sensing contact lens project on hold - CNET
Alphabet's life sciences until, Verily, will instead focus on two other smart lens projects.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 4:16 pm

Verizon now lets you add multiple phone numbers to a single device - CNET
You can hold up to four numbers on a single phone for $15 per additional line.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 4:12 pm

Report: Cheaper, disc-free Xbox One option coming next year
Psht, who needs 'em?

Psht, who needs 'em? (credit: Squirmelia)

Microsoft is planning to release a disc-free version of the Xbox One as early as next spring, according to an unsourced report from author Brad Sams of Thurrott.com (who has been reliable with early Xbox-related information in the past).

The report suggests the disc-free version of the system would not replace the existing Xbox One hardware, and it would instead represent "the lowest possible price for the Xbox One S console." Sams says that price could come in at $199 "or lower," a significant reduction from the system's current $299 starting price (but not as compelling compared to $199 deals for the Xbox One and PS4 planned for Black Friday this year). Buyers will also be able to add a subscription to the Xbox Games Pass program for as little as $1, according to Sams.

For players who already have games on disc, Sams says Microsoft will offer a "disc to digital" program in association with participating publishers. Players will be able to take their discs into participating retailers (including Microsoft Stores) and trade them in for a "digital entitlement" that can be applied to their Xbox Live account.

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 4:10 pm

Black Friday 2018 sound bar deals: Vizio, Polk, Klipsch, and more, starting at $100 - CNET
Whether you're buying a sound bar for yourself or loved ones there's some great deals to be had these holidays, from $100 and up.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 4:08 pm

CNET Asks: Which holiday deals day is your favorite? - CNET
Deals season is here! Do you bear the cold weather for Black Friday or shop from the computer on Cyber Monday? Let us know how you shop.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 4:04 pm

Database leak exposes millions of two-factor codes and reset links sent by SMS
2FA via SMS happens worldwide, all.

Enlarge / 2FA via SMS happens worldwide, all. (credit: Raimond Spekking)

Millions of SMS text messages—many containing one-time passcodes, password reset links, and plaintext passwords—were exposed in an Internet-accessible database that could be read or monitored by anyone who knew where to look, TechCrunch has reported.

The discovery comes after years of rebukes from security practitioners that text messages are a woefully unsuitable medium for transmitting two-factor authentication (2FA) data. Despite those rebukes, SMS-based 2FA continues to be offered by banks such as Bank of America, cellular carriers such as T-Mobile, and a host of other businesses.

The leaky database belonged to Voxox, a service that claims to process billions of calls and text messages monthly. TechCrunch said that Berlin-based researcher Sébastien Kaul used the Shodan search engine for publicly available devices and databases to find the messages. The database stored texts that were sent through a gateway Voxox provided to businesses that wanted an automated way to send data for password resets and other types of account management by SMS. The database provided a portal that showed two-factor codes and resent links being sent in near real-time, making it potentially possible for attackers who accessed the server to obtain data that would help them hijack other people’s accounts.

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 4:03 pm

Black Friday 2018 Galaxy deals: Free Galaxy S9, $600 Note 9, $300 gift card - CNET
Some of these AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon deals are already on.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 3:43 pm

Black Friday 2018 iPhone deals: $150 off iPhone XR and XS, $400 iPhone X gift card - CNET
Some of the best iPhone discounts from Verizon, T-Mobile, Best Buy, Target and Walmart have already begun.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 3:38 pm

Lamborghini SC18 one-off takes the Aventador to new heights - Roadshow
It's street-legal, but it's been engineered with the track in mind.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 3:37 pm

Replacing Stan Lee cameos with Deadpool is a bleeping terrible idea - CNET
Opinion: The late Marvel boss can't be recast. With great power comes great responsibility not to do stupid things.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 3:23 pm

Black Friday 2018 smart home deals: Google Home Hub, Facebook Portal, Apple HomePod, Alexa gadgets and more - CNET
We're tracking the best smart home bargains from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and more. Here's our running list -- including the deals you can buy right now. Expect regular updates.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 3:18 pm

Microsoft is said to be building an Xbox with no disc drive - CNET
The next Xbox you buy could cost as little as $200, but you'll lose the ability to play disc-based games.

Source: CNET News | 16 Nov 2018 | 3:17 pm

The mid-range Google Pixel appears in pictures—complete with headphone jack

Rozetked

Rumors of a cheaper mid-range smartphone from Google have been circulating for some time, but now it's looking like the first pictures of this mythical device have popped up online. The Russian site Rozetked—which leaked the Pixel 3 XL earlier this year—has pictures of a device codenamed "Sargo," which looks like a cheaper version of the Pixel 3.

The phone resembles a smaller Pixel 3, but there appear to be a lot of changes to bring the price down. The body is now plastic instead of glass. The 5.5-inch OLED display has been swapped out for an LCD with a 2220×1080 resolution. Instead of the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845, this device reportedly has a more modest Snapdragon 670. The baseline 64GB of storage has been downgraded to 32GB. It also looks like the bottom front-facing speaker has been cut, replaced by a bottom-firing speaker. It's unknown if the earpiece still functions as a second speaker for stereo sound.

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 3:00 pm

RIP William Goldman, creator of beloved film, The Princess Bride
Screenwriter William Goldman attends a special screening of <em>Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid</em> at Tribeca Film Festival in April 2009.

Enlarge / Screenwriter William Goldman attends a special screening of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at Tribeca Film Festival in April 2009. (credit: Joe Kohen/WireImages/Getty Images)

Legendary Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman has died at the age of 87 from colon cancer and pneumonia, The New York Times reports. Goldman won two screenwriting Oscars, for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President's Men (1976). But by far his most beloved (and most widely quoted) film across multiple generations is 1987's postmodern fairytale, The Princess Bride.

The man once called "the world's greatest and most famous living screenwriter" by the Guardian actually started out as a novelist, but his early novels got mixed reviews. Discouraged, Goldman agreed to adapt Daniel Keyes' bestselling 1966 novel Flowers for Algernon into a screenplay. He was fired from the project, and even Goldman himself declared it was a "terrible" screenplay. But he learned from the experience and went on to sell his first original screenplay, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, for a record (at the time) $400,000.

The rest is Hollywood history. His other screenwriting credits include The Stepford Wives (the 1974 original, not the mediocre 2004 remake), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Chaplin (1992), and Misery (1990). Two of his screenplays are adaptations of his own novels: Marathon Man (1976) and The Princess Bride. Goldman was especially fond of the latter novel, first published in 1973. It was 15 years before Director Rob Reiner managed to bring the story to the silver screen after having long been a fan of the book.

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 2:23 pm

We’ve run wild on the Switch version of WarFrame—and it’s solid

Video shot and edited by John Cappello. Click here for transcript.

If you had asked us a year ago whether the Nintendo Switch would ever deliver a shooter on par with the online team-questing of Destiny, we would surely have laughed you off. A solid, connected, shooting-filled 3D game for Nintendo's handheld? Go back to Mario Kart, dreamer.

But the past year has seen developers unlock serious power—and reasonable compromises—in impressive Switch ports. Now, one of the industry's best Switch wranglers, Panic Button, has worked its magic on the free-to-play multiplayer shooter WarFrame, out this week on the platform.

Ahead of the launch, we had the opportunity to sit with the combined brain trust behind WarFrame on Switch—a producer at series creator Digital Extremes and the head of Panic Button's porting team—and rap about what they made happen. We also went hands-on with the results and enjoyed the tweaked options laid out, including joystick sensitivity, button mapping, and—a rarity on the Nintendo Switch—a field-of-view slider, which first-person junkies will surely appreciate.

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 12:20 pm

Houston’s cityscape squeezed extra rain out of Hurricane Harvey
Houston’s cityscape squeezed extra rain out of Hurricane Harvey

Enlarge (credit: World Meteorological Organization)

Cities often see flash floods get worse as urbanization grows, as a cityscape is an incredibly efficient rainwater collector. The more land you pave, the more rain turns to surface runoff instead of soaking into the ground. If an area is connected by storm sewers, a lot of runoff can quickly come together in the same spot and pile up inconveniently.

A hurricane is no ordinary rainstorm, but the same problem applies. After Hurricane Harvey released an incredible amount of water on Houston last year, every aspect of the storm was dissected by public discussion and scientific studies. Researchers have concluded that climate change very likely played a role in Harvey’s record-setting rainfall, for example.

As for Houston’s rapid growth and development, attention has mostly focused on decisions to allow construction in risky, flood-prone areas. But a new study led by Wei Zhang and Gabriele Villarini of the University of Iowa has identified another impact beyond catching more of the rain with concrete—Houston actually increased the rainfall itself.

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 12:15 pm

HP Elitebook x360 1030 review: Small tweaks made to a stylish work 2-in-1
HP Elitebook x360 1030 review: Small tweaks made to a stylish work 2-in-1

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

It has been 10 years since HP launched the original Elitebook, and the company continues to improve upon this already stellar business notebook family. This year's Elitebook x360 1030 is the follow-up to last year's model and will replace the 1020 model in the Elitebook lineup.

The new Elitebook has been sprinkled with updates that you'd expect in a convertible that didn't have many major problems: HP stuck a new processor inside, shrank some bezels, made the chassis' footprint smaller and lighter, added an LTE option, and improved the optional Active Pen. There were a few sub-par aspects about the previous model, so HP addressed them in this device, too. However, those improvements, while thoughtful, may not be crucial enough to push current Elitebook users to upgrade.

Look and feel

HP changed little about the Elitebook x360's skeleton—it's still an all-aluminum convertible with a unibody chassis and slick, diamond-cut edges. It now has a 10 percent smaller footprint than the previous model, measuring 15.8mm thick and weighing 2.76 pounds, and the bezels around its 13.3-inch touchscreen are slimmer than ever before. The side bezels are 50 percent thinner, and the chin is 39 percent smaller, too.

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 12:10 pm

Hitman 2 review: Accessible stealth oozing with style
Agent 47 stalking his prey.

Enlarge / Agent 47 stalking his prey.

Agent 47, the star of the Hitman series, is a man whose entire being is dedicated to one task. Every skill he has, every quirk of his appearance and personality, all of him exists for this singular reason: to find and kill any target assigned to him. He's the ultimate assassin. And Hitman 2 is the ultimate assassin simulator. Built on the work done on earlier titles by Io Interactive, especially the rebooted Hitman published by Square Enix in 2016, Hitman 2 is a singular destination for all the goofy, sneaky, and violent energy this series carries with it at its best.

It begins unassumingly on a beach with Agent 47 creeping through the tall grass like in any other stealth game. Once you reach the opening mission’s seaside resort home, though, the options spiral wildly. Soon you're hiding in closets, waiting for a target to reach the right location, juggling ideas about chloroform and bad ventilation systems with possible plans involving disguising yourself as a guard, and the nagging idea that, hey, maybe I could just throw her into the ocean…

This opening level is, in microcosm, the entire Hitman 2 experience. More than any other stealth game series, Io Interactive's stealth murder simulator is an ode to options. It’s a vast array of silly and inspired possibilities for causing mayhem, creating distractions, and, finally, slitting a victim's throat. Or blowing them up in their experimental race car. Or getting them to take a swing at an exploding golf ball, as the case may be.

Target history

The creativity and sheer excellence of Hitman 2 comes out of what is, all told, a fairly storied recent history. After its immediate predecessor, published by Square Enix, failed to achieve the sales numbers it perhaps deserved, Square Enix divested itself from Io Interactive entirely, leaving the now-independent company to work on shipping a sequel by itself. It was both a unique opportunity and an onerous challenge for Io: to create something that did justice to the long-running series with fewer resources than it has perhaps ever had.

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 11:52 am

Cut-and-paste error apparently reveals federal charges against Assange
Julian Assange, at center.

Julian Assange, at center. (credit: acidpolly)

Federal prosecutors have accidentally revealed that criminal charges have been filed against "Assange"—an apparent reference to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The feds filed the revealing document back in August, but the slip-up wasn't noticed until it was flagged in a Thursday evening tweet.

The filing was in an unrelated sex crimes case in the Eastern District of Virginia. Federal prosecutors asked the court to seal its criminal complaint and arrest warrant against a man named  Seitu Sulayman Kokayi—for "coercion and enticement of a juvenile to engage in unlawful sexual activity"—to avoid tipping the suspect off. But in two places, the document refers to "Assange" instead of the actual defendant in the case.

The document argues that the case should be sealed because, "due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged."

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 11:00 am

“Wolf’s jaw” star cluster may have inspired parts of Ragnarök myth
Only the onset of Ragnarök can defeat Hela, the goddess of death, in Marvel's <em>Thor: Ragnarok.</em>

Enlarge / Only the onset of Ragnarök can defeat Hela, the goddess of death, in Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok. (credit: Marvel Studios)

In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is a cataclysmic series of events leading to the death of Odin and his fellow Asgardian gods and, ultimately, to the end of the world. Some iconographic details of this mythical apocalypse that emerged around 1000 AD may have been influenced by astronomical events—notably comets and total eclipses.

This is not to say that the myth of Ragnarök originated with such events; rather, they reinforced mythologies that already existed in the popular imagination. That's the central thesis of Johnni Langer, a historian specializing in Old Norse mythology and literature at the Federal University of Paraíba in Brazil. He has outlined his argument in detail in a recent paper (translated from the original Portuguese) in the journal Archeoastronomy and Ancient Technologies.

Langer's analysis is based on the relatively young field of archeoastronomy: the cultural study of myths, oral narratives, iconographic sources, and other forms of ancient beliefs, with the aim of identifying possible connections with historical observations in astronomy. Both total eclipses and the passage of large comets were theoretically visible in medieval Scandinavia, and there are corresponding direct records of such events in Anglo-Saxon and German chronicles from around the same time period. These could have had a cultural influence on evolving Norse mythology, including the concept of Ragnarök.

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Source: Ars Technica | 16 Nov 2018 | 7:55 am