Formula E five years on: Cars Technica grades the electric racing series

Formula E five years on: Cars Technica grades the electric racing series

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

This past weekend, against a backdrop of lower Manhattan, Formula E held its season-ending double-header. After 13 races across the globe, the DS Techeetah team was triumphant, scoring more points than any of its rivals to take the team championship. And Jean-Eric Vergne, one of DS Techeetah’s two drivers, beat out his rivals—and the heat—to become the series’ first two-time driver’s champion.

And when the checkered flag waved on Sunday afternoon, it also marked an additional reason for celebration: Formula E officially completed its fifth season.

The series launched back in 2014, and it’s fair to say it was greeted with heavy skepticism across the racing community. For an industry meant to be on the leading edge of automotive technology, motorsport can often succumb to conservatism. Formula E definitely represented something new and different. But different isn’t a synonym for bad, and I’d like to

Read the rest Continue Reading
Can Disney’s Circle really deliver a porn-free Internet?

Can Disney’s Circle really deliver a porn-free Internet?

Enlarge / Can the Mouse keep your house safe from the sketchy parts of the Internet? (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Filtering out the bits of human knowledge you don’t like and leaving all the bits you do is a deceptively difficult task; it’s one of the classic “I may not know art, but I know what I (don’t) like” problems. If you have a family with small children and absolutely any adult member of that family is not a complete libertine, though, it’s a problem you’ll need to address. The latest edition of the Disney-backed Circle filtering platform aims to help, via either a standalone IoT gadget ($35) or a service embedded in higher-end Netgear routers and mesh kits, such as Orbi RBK50 ($300) or Nighthawk R7000P ($160).

Read the rest Continue Reading
The Greatest Leap, part 4: Catching Apollo fever as a new NASA employee

The Greatest Leap, part 4: Catching Apollo fever as a new NASA employee

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Click here for transcript.

As inevitably happens in August, a sweltering heat with the tactility of dog’s breath had come over Houston when Raja Chari reported to the Johnson Space Center. Just shy of his 40th birthday, the decorated combat veteran and test pilot had been born too late to see humans walking on the Moon. No matter, he was in awe of the new office.

Read the rest Continue Reading
Half a century after Apollo, why haven’t we been back to the Moon?

Half a century after Apollo, why haven’t we been back to the Moon?

Enlarge / Since Apollo, NASA’s human spaceflight plans for deep space have been all hat and no cattle. Unlike this photo of two cattle in Johnson Space Center’s Rocket Park. (credit: NASA)

The 50th anniversary of NASA’s historic landing on the Moon—this Saturday, July 20th—provokes a decidedly bittersweet feeling. Certainly, this marks an appropriate time to pause and celebrate a singular moment in our shared history, the first time humans ever set foot on another world. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins really did push back the frontier for all of humanity

And yet, for all that this technological and geopolitical tour de force achieved, there has been a decided lack of follow through by the US spaceflight enterprise since Apollo 11. On such an anniversary, this raises uncomfortable questions. Why have we not gone back? Was the Apollo Program really America’s high water mark in space? And will

Read the rest Continue Reading
The Greatest Leap, part 3: The triumph and near-tragedy of the first Moon landing

The Greatest Leap, part 3: The triumph and near-tragedy of the first Moon landing

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Click here for transcript.

A vast, gray expanse loomed just a few hundred meters below as Neil Armstrong peered out his tiny window. From inside the spidery lunar lander, a fragile cocoon with walls only about as thick as construction paper, the Apollo 11 commander finally had a clear view of where the on-board computer had directed him to land.

He did not like what he saw there. A big crater. Boulders strewn all around. A death trap.

To make matters worse, Eagle had limited fuel reserves. If Armstrong couldn’t find a safe landing site soon, he would have to ditch the bottom half of the lander and burn like hell for lunar orbit in a dangerous and risky abort procedure. Otherwise, he and Buzz Aldrin would not only become the first humans to

Read the rest Continue Reading
My browser, the spy: How extensions slurped up browsing histories from 4M users

My browser, the spy: How extensions slurped up browsing histories from 4M users

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

When we use browsers to make medical appointments, share tax returns with accountants, or access corporate intranets, we usually trust that the pages we access will remain private. DataSpii, a newly documented privacy issue in which millions of people’s browsing histories have been collected and exposed, shows just how much about us is revealed when that assumption is turned on its head.

DataSpii begins with browser extensions—available mostly for Chrome but in more limited cases for Firefox as well—that, by Google’s account, had as many as 4.1 million users. These extensions collected the URLs, webpage titles, and in some cases the embedded hyperlinks of every page that the browser user visits. Most of these collected Web histories were then published by a fee-based service called Nacho Analytics, which markets itself as “God mode for the Internet” and uses the tag line

Read the rest Continue Reading
War Stories: Designing Dead Cells was a marriage of man and machine

War Stories: Designing Dead Cells was a marriage of man and machine

Video shot by Justin Wolfson, edited by John Cappello. Click here for transcript.

Is it better to build a game by hand, piece by piece, or to program a computer that can build that game for you? In the cast of MotionTwin’s Dead Cells, the answer is a little mix of both.

In Ars Technica’s latest War Stories video, Motion Twin’s “Lead Whatever” (as he calls himself) Sebastien Bénard, talks about the difficulty of designing interesting and playable environments for the game. At one point, the game was “traumatized by huge levels with no actual meaning,” he told us. That’s because, while the team’s computer algorithm was good at generating maze-like rooms, it couldn’t tell when it had created a “good result.”

After that, the team transitioned to a hybrid approach, hand-designing individual rooms with distinct entrances and exits and a strong sense of flow. Then they

Read the rest Continue Reading
Dealmaster: All the best Amazon Prime Day 2019 tech deals we can find

Dealmaster: All the best Amazon Prime Day 2019 tech deals we can find

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! Your friendly neighborhood Dealmaster is back and reporting for bargain-hunting duty—and boy, is he going to need some extra coffee. That’s because today marks the start of Amazon Prime Day 2019, the increasingly misnamed sales event that sees the nation’s largest online retailer discount products beyond number to Black Friday-level prices midsummer. This year’s Prime Day lasts 48 hours from July 15-16, because time is a social construct and trillion-dollar companies can pretty much do whatever they want.

Before we dig in to our deals roundup, a disclaimer: as is often the case with big sales events like this, most of this year’s Prime Day deals aren’t really deals at all. Amazon will promote thousands of “discounts” over the next two days, but with that much volume, the majority of those offers will naturally have less-than-special prices or apply to less-than-desirable products.

Many

Read the rest Continue Reading
There’s a big problem with Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

There’s a big problem with Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson)

Mark Zuckerberg is known for his boundless ambition. He’s had a longstanding fascination with Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor who (in Zuckerberg’s words) “established 200 years of world peace.” So having conquered social networking, Zuckerberg has his eyes on something bigger: reshaping the global financial system.

Payment services from rivals like Apple and Google essentially offer an improved user interface for conventional credit card networks. Facebook, by contrast, is aiming to use blockchain-like technology to build a new payment network from scratch, complete with its own currency.

Facebook has assembled an impressive roster of launch partners for its Libra project. Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal are backing the effort. So are Uber and Lyft, as well as several venture capital firms and non-profit organizations.

Read 51 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Source link Read the rest

Continue Reading
Buzz Aldrin is looking forward, not back—and he has a plan to bring NASA along

Buzz Aldrin is looking forward, not back—and he has a plan to bring NASA along

Enlarge / Buzz Aldrin wants NASA to go somewhere. (credit: Hubert Vestil/Getty Images)

Just after Memorial Day this year, I began talking regularly with the pilot of the first spacecraft to land on the Moon. We had spoken before, but this was different—it seemed urgent. Every week or two, Buzz Aldrin would call to discuss his frustration with the state of NASA and his concerns about the looming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing without a lack of discernible progress to get back.

Even at 89, Aldrin remains remarkably engaged in the aerospace community, often showing up to meetings and conferences unannounced. Aldrin asks questions. He talks to the principals. In the last two years, the aerospace legend has been to the White House for major space announcements by President Trump, served as an adviser to the National Space Council, and supported the White House goal of

Read the rest Continue Reading