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Slack's new logo is weird - CNET
Commentary: When you go from a "#" to a colorful splat, it's just strange.

Source: CNET News | 21 Jan 2019 | 1:04 am

Star Wars Resistance episode 13: Kaz gets caught up in Dangerous Business - CNET
The spy gets a little closer to figuring out what the First Order is up to.

Source: CNET News | 20 Jan 2019 | 10:30 pm

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drops in on Twitch stream, says Nintendo 64 is the best console - CNET
Aaron Sorkin told democrats like AOC to stop acting like "young people", so she went on a Donkey Kong livestream and talked about Pokemon Snap and why the N64 is the best console.

Source: CNET News | 20 Jan 2019 | 8:49 pm

2020 Toyota Supra vs. BMW Z4, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang and Nissan 370Z - Roadshow
How does Toyota's resurrected icon compare with other sports car legends?

Source: CNET News | 20 Jan 2019 | 7:54 pm

GoFundMe launches its own campaign for government shutdown relief - CNET
And in a day, it's already two-thirds of the way to its fundraising goal of $75,000.

Source: CNET News | 20 Jan 2019 | 6:30 pm

Facebook is adding petitions to your news feed - CNET
"Community Actions" will start rolling out to users in the US on Monday.

Source: CNET News | 20 Jan 2019 | 6:03 pm

Shazam superhero movie with Zachary Levi: Release date, trailers, cast - CNET
Here's our ongoing guide to the upcoming DC Comics film starring Zachary Levi.

Source: CNET News | 20 Jan 2019 | 3:29 pm

Old Gods and New Gods prepare for war in new trailer for American Gods S2

Second trailer for American Gods season 2, which debuts on Starz March 10.

We're less than two months away from the season 2 debut of American Gods, the TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's 2001 novel, and Starz has rewarded fans' patience with a shiny new trailer.

(Spoilers for first season below.)

In season 1, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), a recently released convict, falls in with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) as his bodyguard, after losing his wife, Laura (Emily Browning). But Mr. Wednesday is not who he seems. He's actually the ancient Norse god Odin seeking to rally all the remaining Old Gods, who are slowly dying off from people's lack of belief. Their mission: beat back the encroaching influence of all the New Gods so they can survive.

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Source: Ars Technica | 20 Jan 2019 | 2:00 pm

The best stuff you can get for under $30 - CNET
Have some spare gift cards? Just looking to treat yourself? Here are some great ideas that won't break the bank.

Source: CNET News | 20 Jan 2019 | 12:13 pm

DNC says Russian hackers hit it with phishing effort after midterms - CNET
The Democratic National Committee apparently hasn't lost its allure for Russia-linked hacking groups like Cozy Bear.

Source: CNET News | 20 Jan 2019 | 12:07 pm

Intrepid scientist corrects physiology in Gulliver’s Travels after 300 years
Title page of first edition of Jonathan Swift's <em>Gulliver's Travels</em>, relating the fictional adventures of one Lemuel Gulliver.

Enlarge / Title page of first edition of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, relating the fictional adventures of one Lemuel Gulliver. (credit: Meisei University Library, Tokyo, Japan)

Gulliver's Travels is justly regarded as one of the best satirical novels of all time, although its author, Jonathan Swift, claimed he wrote the book "to vex the world rather than divert it." Politicians of the time were indeed vexed at being mocked in its pages. It seems the author's physiological descriptions also proved a bit vexatious, according to a charming new paper in the Journal of Physiological Sciences.

First published in 1726, Gulliver's Travels relates the fictional adventures of one Lemuel Gulliver, "first a surgeon and then a captain of several ships," according to the book's lengthy subtitle. During his voyages, Gulliver encounters several unusual species: the tiny people of Lilliput, the giants of Brobdingnag, talking horses called Houyhnhnms who rule over the deformed, uncouth Yahoos, and the inhabitants of the flying island of Laputa, who devote themselves to the study of science and the arts but have never figured out how to apply that knowledge for practical applications. Apart from its literary qualities, Gulliver's Travels provided ample fodder for eagle-eyed experts, since Swift couldn't resist going into great detail about the physiology of his fictional species, practically inviting closer scrutiny.

Toshio Kuroki, special advisor to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and Gifu University, read Gulliver's Travels for the first time with his book club. Having spent a long, prestigious career conducting cancer research, Kuroki immediately noticed an error on Swift's part when estimating Gulliver's energy requirements compared to that of the diminutive Lilliputions. It spurred him to look more closely at similar passages in the book, and to make his own comparative physiological analysis of the fictional creatures encountered by Gulliver during his travels.

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Source: Ars Technica | 20 Jan 2019 | 11:00 am

Why Silicon Valley’s “growth at any cost” is the new “unsafe at any speed”

(video link)

If there's one person outside of government who has stood against Facebook's crashing wave, it's Ashkan Soltani.

Late last year, the independent privacy researcher was suddenly called to speak before the UK Parliament about Facebook's privacy practices, simply because he happened to be in London and, in his own words, "was just a dick on Twitter."

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Source: Ars Technica | 20 Jan 2019 | 10:30 am

Western Digital’s Black SSD is now focused on gaming, can come with a heatsink
  • The WD Black SN750 without a heatsink. [credit: Western Digital ]

Western Digital has begun shipping the WD Black SN750, the latest in its popular Black line of performance-oriented, solid-state hard drives. The company is also pivoting the Black brand to be primarily focused on gamers; this is part of an ongoing trend that high-end PC hardware is getting categorized as gamer gear.

Western Digital claims the newest entry will offer an option to help PC gamers reduce risk of throttling-related performance dips. That's thanks to an optional heatsink add-on, but the company also credits improved performance to firmware refinements. Other than that, the WD Black SN750 is a modest update over its predecessor. Anandtech benchmarked it and saw some performance improvements over the previous drive, but nothing dramatic—and what improvements were there were largely thanks to the firmware.

The SN750 still uses the same 64-layer 3D NAND we've seen before, while some competitors are introducing 96-layer 3D NAND products. Nevertheless, the SN750 remains an attractive option for performance-minded gamers because of its power efficiency, because of its more-than-good-enough performance, and because the prices are more attractive than they once were.

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Source: Ars Technica | 20 Jan 2019 | 10:00 am

Withings Pulse HR review: A longer-lasting competitor to Fitbit’s Alta HR
Withings Pulse HR review: A longer-lasting competitor to Fitbit’s Alta HR

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Withings has returned as its own company after a short stint under Nokia, and it's brought out some new fitness trackers to take on the top contenders. The $129 Withings Pulse HR looks and acts much like Fitbit's Alta HR: its svelte, rectangular module tracks heart rate all day and night as well as daily activity and workouts.

Plenty of fitness trackers have debuted in the past couple of years, but the Alta HR remains our top pick for most users. Withings is hoping to dethrone it in the minds of the public by offering a device that's even more subtle in design and promises weeks of battery life. But those things aren't achievable without sacrifices, and the options Withings left out of the Pulse HR may deter some from choosing it.

Design

Withings Pulse HR

Price: $129.95 at Amazon

Buy

The Pulse HR may be nondescript, but that doesn't mean it's not solid. Stainless steel makes up most of the module, along with a polycarbonate surface coating that makes the top part soft to the touch. The OLED display is only as big as it has to be—it doesn't take up the entire flat surface of the modular, rather only the middle third or so.

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Source: Ars Technica | 20 Jan 2019 | 9:00 am

How Buke and Gase built a huge indie rock career—and its own guitars, software
  • L-R: Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez perform as Buke and Gase in November 2018. Each holds one of the band's titular, custom-built instruments: a baritone ukulele and a guitar-bass fusion. [credit: Sam Machkovech ]

NEW YORK CITY—The band brings to the stage: two stringed instruments, neither of which look exactly like a bass or a guitar; two grids of foot-triggered effects pedals and switches; two music stands, covered with a smattering of synthesizers, touchscreens, and touch-sensitive pads; two laptops, connected to this variety of inputs in a center console; and two foot-triggered pieces of percussion.

One of those is a compact kick-drum rig, connected to the laptops. The other is a bicycling shoe with tambourine parts welded onto its sides and sole.

This pre-show array of gear usually elicits curious looks from crowds who wonder what kind of noise is about to emerge. But the band Buke and Gase are here for a homecoming show of sorts. They're fresh off a nationwide tour with Shellac, among the esteemed post-punk bands to have ties to the genre's original DIY movement. They've just put the final touches on their new album, titled Scholars, set to launch two months later (as in, January 18). People are here to celebrate.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Jan 2019 | 1:50 pm

Hermit crabs evolved longer penises to keep their shells from being stolen
An adult male hermit crab of the species <em>Coenobita compressus</em> ambling along on a leisurely stroll.

Enlarge / An adult male hermit crab of the species Coenobita compressus ambling along on a leisurely stroll. (credit: Mark Laidre)

Hermit crabs protect their soft, curved abdomens from harm by scavenging seashells and turning them into portable homes. That poses a challenge when it comes time to mate, since a rival can steal the shell while its occupant is, shall we say, otherwise occupied. A new paper in the journal Royal Society Interface poses an intriguing new hypothesis: some species of male hermit crabs evolved substantially longer penises so they could mate without having to venture too far outside their shells.

Mark Laidre, a biologist at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, dubbed his hypothesis "private parts for private property." He's been studying the behavior of a particular species of hermit crab, Coenobita compressus, for the last decade.

Seashells are a valuable, limited resource—a kind of private property for hermit crabs and their most prized possession. This is particularly true for Coenobita compressus. This species engages in elaborate remodeling of scavenged shells to tailor them precisely to their liking, tearing out hard material inside the shell over several months to make more room for their bodies. Because the shells are so valuable, there is stiff competition to attain a really nice shell. Fights break out, crabs will kill another crab for their shells, and sometimes the beasts will just outright steal them. Since the remodeled shells prevent the creatures from drying out (which can happen within 24 hours), they are crucial to the crabs' survival.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Jan 2019 | 1:06 pm

Even with the Google/Fossil deal, Wear OS is doomed
Wear OS seems nice, but it lacks apps and decent hardware.

Enlarge / Wear OS seems nice, but it lacks apps and decent hardware. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Google and Fossil Group were involved in some kind of acquisition deal yesterday. Despite being a fashion brand, Fossil is probably the biggest remaining seller of Android Wear OS hardware. Brands like Fossil, Michael Kors, Diesel, Emporio Armani, and Misfit are all part of Fossil Group, and all produce Wear OS devices. Fossil sold Google some IP and "a portion of Fossil Group's research and development team currently supporting the transferring IP" for $40 million.

Fossil's stock jumped 8 percent on the news, which was probably "mission accomplished" as far as this announcement was concerned. The press release sent the tech community into a tizzy, though.

"Google cares about Android Wear?" "This will fix everything!" "When is the Pixel Watch coming out?"

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Jan 2019 | 9:00 am

Damning court docs show just how far Sacklers went to push OxyContin
Damning court docs show just how far Sacklers went to push OxyContin

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

With the opioid epidemic raging, you may at this point be familiar with Purdue Pharma. It makes the powerful painkiller OxyContin and has been widely blamed for igniting the current crisis.

After debuting OxyContin in 1996, Purdue raked in billions using aggressive and deceptive sales tactics, including ratcheting up dosages of the addictive opioid while lying about its addictiveness. As OxyContin prescriptions soared, opioid overdose deaths increased six-fold in the US, killing more than 400,000 people between 1999 and 2017. Of those deaths, around 200,000 involved prescription opioids specifically.

In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty in federal court to misleading doctors, regulators, and patients about the addictiveness of OxyContin. The company has seen a flurry of lawsuits making similar allegations since then.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Jan 2019 | 8:00 am

Review: Toyota Sienna minivan mixes the solid with the subpar
The Sienna resplendent in an elementary school parking lot.

Enlarge / The Sienna resplendent in an elementary school parking lot.

In the early 2000s, I was in the market for a big car. We needed something that could ferry our daughter and stuff around, carry drywall and other home-improvement stuff, and feel comfortable on cross-country trips to visit my family. Neither our Ford Taurus nor Saturn SL1 fit the bill, and we weren't feeling the SUV love. As we started looking into minivans, it became clear that there were three models to look at seriously: the Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country, and Toyota Sienna.

Nearly 20 years later, not much has changed. Honda, Chrysler, and Toyota still rule the minivan market in terms of sales. We drove the Town & Country's successor, the Pacifica, last year and came away very impressed. So when I found out there was a 2019 Toyota Sienna on the local press fleet, reviewing it was a no-brainer.

The Sienna got a new powertrain in 2017, and last year's model saw some safety and ride quality improvements. Toyota Safety Sense, its suite of driver-assist technology, became standard on the Sienna. Toyota also tackled ride quality by making the cabin quieter. For 2019, support for CarPlay and Amazon Alexa has been added, and the all-wheel-drive powertrain is now available on the SE trim.

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Source: Ars Technica | 19 Jan 2019 | 7:00 am