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12-09-2019 Security
Newly discovered Mac malware uses “fileless” technique to remain stealthy

Hackers believed to be working for the North Korean government have upped their game with a recently discovered Mac trojan that uses in-memory execution to remain stealthy. In-memory execution, also known as fileless infection, never writes anything to a computer hard drive. Instead, it loads malicious code directly into memory and executes it from there. The technique is an effective way to evade antivirus protection because there’s no file to be analyzed or flagged as suspicious. In-memory infections were once the sole province of state-sponsored attackers. By 2017, more advanced financially motivated hackers had adopted the technique. It has become increasingly common since then. The malware isn’t entirely fileless. The first stage poses as a cryptocurrency app with the file name UnionCryptoTrader.dmg. When it first came to light earlier this week, only two out of 57 antivirus products detected it as suspicious. On Friday, according to VirusTotal, detection had only modestly improved, with 17 of 57 products flagging it. Once executed, the file uses a post-installation binary that, according to a detailed analysis by Patrick Wardle, a Mac security expert at enterprise Mac software provider Jamf, can do the following: move a hidden plist (.vip.unioncrypto.plist) from the application’s Resources directory into /Library/LaunchDaemons set it to be owned by root create a /Library/UnionCrypto directory move a hidden binary (.unioncryptoupdater) from the application’s Resources directory into /Library/UnionCrypto/ set it to be executable execute this binary (/Library/UnionCrypto/unioncryptoupdater) The result is a malicious binary named unioncryptoupdated that runs as root and has “persistence,” meaning it survives reboots to ensure it runs constantly. Wardle said that the installation of a launch daemon whose plist and binary are stored hidden in an application’s resource directory is a technique that matches Lazarus, the name many researchers and intelligence officers use for a North Korean hacking group. Another piece of Mac malware, dubbed AppleJeus, did the same thing. Another trait that’s consistent with North Korean involvement is the interest in cryptocurrencies. As the US Department of Treasury reported in September, industry groups have unearthed evidence that North Korean hackers have siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of cryptocurrencies from exchanges in an attempt to fund the country's nuclear weapons development programs. Begin in-memory infection It is around this point in the infection chain that the fileless execution starts. The infected Mac begins contacting a server at hxxps://unioncrypto[.]vip/update to check for a second-stage payload. If one is available, the malware downloads and decrypts it and then uses macOS programming interfaces to create what’s known as an object file image. The image allows the malicious payload to run in memory without ever touching the hard drive of the in

Read Original Article     ON:   Ars Technica

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12-09-2019 Science&Technology
After redesigns, the finish line is in sight for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship

Five-and-a-half years ago, SpaceX founder Elon Musk revealed SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, a sleek-looking human-rated spaceship with 3D-printed engines, a roomy stylized interior and touchscreen controls. Now SpaceX’s first ship to ferry astronauts — with numerous design changes introduced since 2014 — is about to leave the company’s factory for final testing before launching early next year. Two big launches are on tap to close out development of the Crew Dragon spaceship. The first flight, called an in-flight abort test, will verify the capsule can safely escape a rocket failure during launch. That test launch, which is scheduled for no earlier than Jan. 4 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will not have any astronauts on-board. Assuming the satisfactory completion of the abort demonstration, along with a series of parachute drop tests, the Crew Dragon could be ready for its final exam as soon as February, when NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will fly to the International Space Station, according to Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer. The mission by Behnken and Hurley will pave the way for operational Crew Dragon flights to rotate crews between Earth and the space station. The Crew Dragon, along with Boeing’s Starliner crew ship, will end U.S. reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for astronaut transportation since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011. Five-and-half years after the unveiling of the ship’s design, the Crew Dragon capsule still sports the same futuristic, aerodynamic look. But inside, much has changed since Musk’s glitzy presentation of a spaceship prototype on May 29, 2014. At that time, SpaceX was performing regular cargo delivery flights to the space station using a first-generation model of the Dragon spacecraft. The Crew Dragon, also called Dragon 2, is designed to carry humans and supplies to the station under contract to NASA. “We definitely learned a lot,” Shotwell said Friday. “NASA warned us (that) crew is going to be 10 times harder (than cargo). And I think we were like, 10 times harder? What does that mean? What does that look like? How does that feel? You just don’t know until you start into the program.” Gone is SpaceX original plan of using rocket thrusters to perform precise vertical helicopter landings for crew returns. Instead, four parachutes will slow the capsule for splashdowns at sea. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Space Flight Now

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12-09-2019 Cars
Tesla Cybertruck prototype spotted in the wild – looks massive

The Tesla Cybertruck prototype, seemingly the same unveiled last month, has been spotted in the wild in Los Angeles and the consensus is that it looks massive. Last month, Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck after months of hype. The automaker delivered on the specs with an impressive range of up to 500 miles, segment-leading functionality, and a price starting at just $39,900. But the radical design of the Cybertruck raised a lot of eyebrows. A few weeks later, it warmed up to some people, but it’s still a very polarizing design. Seeing it on stage at the unveiling is one thing, but we are now starting to see a few sightings on the road and it looks even more imposing in traffic. The Tesla Cybertruck prototype was spotted near the Los Angeles Airport last night (picture via Cody Simms on Twitter) It’s the second sighting of the Cybertruck prototype in the wild – presumably the only Cybertruck working prototype that Tesla has at the moment. The truck looks absolutely huge in regular traffic, especially with the seemingly raised rear suspension. When unveiling the truck, Tesla said that it is equipped with an adaptive air suspension: “Raise and lower suspension four inches in either direction for easy access to Cybertruck or the vault, while self-leveling capabilities adapt to any occasion and assist with every job.” CEO Elon Musk recently talked about the Tesla Cybertruck’s specs and size. He said that they could make it a little smaller and fit in a garage. The color of the truck in low-light is also interesting. The stainless steel color almost looks like a metallic black. Here’s a side-by-side of the same truck in the daylight versus at night Tesla Cybertruck’s body is made of “Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel”: “Cybertruck is built with an exterior shell made for ultimate durability and passenger protection. Starting with a nearly impenetrable exoskeleton, every component is designed for superior strength and endurance, from Ultra-Hard 30X Cold-Rolled stainless-steel structural skin to Tesla armor glass.” It could make a little more difficult to offer the Cybertruck in different colors. Last month, we posted a look at the Tesla Cybertruck beautiful different colors as Musk confirmed matte black will be available. Tesla recently updated the production timelines for the two higher-versions of the Cybertruck. They will arrive in “late 2021”, according to the automaker. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Electrek

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12-09-2019 Business
RaySecur, a mailroom security startup, raises $3M in seed funding

Raysecur says at least ten times a day someone sends a suspicious package containing powder, liquid, or some other kind of hazard. The Boston, Mass.-based startup says its desktop-sized 3D real-time scanning technology, dubbed MailSecur, can intercept and detect threats in the mailroom before they ever make it onto the office floor. Mailroom security may not seem fancy or interesting, but they’re a common gateway into a corporate environment. They’re a huge attack vector for attackers — both physical and cyber. Earlier this year we wrote about warshipping, a “Trojan horse”-type attack that can be used as a way for hackers to ship hardware exploits into a business, break the Wi-Fi, and pivot onto the corporate network to steal data. Now, the company has raised $3 million in seed-round funding led by One Way Ventures, with participation from Junson Capital, Launchpad Venture Group, and also Dreamit Ventures, a Philadelphia-based early stage investor and accelerator, which last year announced it would move into the early-stage security space. Raysecur uses millimeter-wave technology — similar to the scanners you find at airport security — to examine suspicious letters, flat envelopes, and small parcels. Its technology can detect powders as small as 2% of a teaspoon or a single drop of liquid, the company claims. The startup said the funding will help expand its customer base. Although still in its infancy, the company has about ten Fortune 500 customers using its MailSecur scanner. Since it was founded in 2018, the company has scanned more than 9.2 million packages. Semyon Dukach, managing partner at One Way Ventures, said the funding will help “bring this compelling technology to an even broader market.”

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Crunch

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12-09-2019 Science&Technology
Apple’s releasing a new iPhone in just a few months, and now we know what it’s called

Apple’s upcoming 4.7-inch iPhone will likely be called the iPhone 9 and not the iPhone SE 2, according to a new report from Macotakara. The news will likely come as a blow to ardent iPhone SE fans who have been patiently waiting for a true iPhone SE successor for nearly four years now. Notably, the Macotakara report corroborates a number of previous rumors we’ve seen about Apple’s forthcoming iPhone, including the fact that it will boast a 4.7-inch display, Touch ID, and Apple’s next-gen A13 Bionic processor. In light of the fact that the device will boast a 4.7-inch display along with Touch ID — as opposed to Face ID — it’s clear that the device will not feature an edgeless display. Consequently, the device will reportedly have the same form factor as the iPhone 8. Clearly, the prospect of Apple introducing an iPhone model with a truly compact form factor now appears slimmer than ever. As for other iPhone 9 specs worth mentioning, we’ve also heard rumblings that the device will incorporate an advanced single-lens camera, will be available in 64GB and 128GB storage options, and will be offered in Space Gray, Silver, and Red. Not surprisingly, the iPhone 9 will be positioned as a budget device. In turn, rumor has it that it may be priced as low as $399. If this rumored price point is accurate, it would definitely help push units given that the current iPhone 8 — which is a few years old at this point — currently retails for $449. One feature Apple’s upcoming iPhone 9 will not have is support for 5G. This, of course, makes sense given that the iPhone 9 will be a budget device. Further, with the iPhone 9 rumored to launch sometime early next year, there’s a good chance Apple wouldn’t have enough time to incorporate a 5G chipset by launch even if it wanted to. All that said, Apple’s plan to introduce 5G support on its iPhone 12 lineup next year still appears to be on schedule. With Apple set to introduce five new iPhone models next year, it remains to be seen if 5G support will be reserved for the company’s top-tier models exclusively.

Read Original Article     ON:   BGR

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12-09-2019 Society
Hong Kong protesters keep up pressure with mass march

Hong Kong (CNN)The organizers of the large-scale demonstrations which kicked off Hong Kong's months-long protest movement earlier this year returned to the streets again Sunday, in a bid to maintain pressure on the city's government following the success of pro-democracy groups at recent elections. Tens of thousands of protesters of all ages began assembling at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 3 p.m. (2 a.m. ET) under bright blue skies. Many in the crowd could be seen carrying large banners, bearing slogans such as "Free Hong Kong." Hong Kong's Police Commissioner, Tang Ping-Keung, told reporters in Beijing said that police would use a "decisive response" to deal with violence, but added they would "adopt more lenient and flexible approaches" to other protesters. By late afternoon, parts of the city had come to a complete standstill, as crowds attempted to move through the main island to Chater Road close to the main financial hub. The event, which appeared on course to be the biggest of its kind in recent months, marks the first time since mid-August that a march organized by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) has been granted police approval. The group was responsible for two back-to-back, largely peaceful weekend marches in early June, which it estimates drew a combined total of more than 3 million people. Protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese city were initially sparked by a now-shelved extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent across the border to face trial in mainland China, but have since expanded to include calls for greater democracy and government accountability. Sunday's march had been widely viewed as test of the movement's enduring support after six months of occasionally violent unrest -- and many of those in attendance voiced frustration with the government and its perceived unwillingness to make concessions. "We want our demands to be heard, we want universal suffrage," said one 23-year-old protester, who did not want to be identified. "We want freedom for Hong Kong and for Hong Kong to be managed in a sustainable way," she added. The organizers had pegged the rally to international Human Rights Day, which falls on December 10 and marks the United Nations' adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "Hong Kong's human rights violations and humanitarian crisis are reaching the tipping point now," CHRF said in a statement, calling on the city's government to "uphold its commitment to Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all UN human rights treaties applicable to Hong Kong." ...

Read Original Article     ON:   CNN

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12-09-2019 General
AOC is Hot on Tinder, But Not In The Way You Think

What do Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Greta Thunberg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Robert Mueller have in common? Well, among other things, they seem to be a hot talking point between Tinder users. As it turns out, Gen Z has officially taken over the dating app. And as far as their generation goes, being 'woke' is considered a strong dating trait. Sorry, millennials, you'll have to move out of your digital dating throne for now. Revealed in Tinder's year-end review called The Year in Swipe - What 2019 Taught Us About the Future of Dating, we get to see a glimpse of what the trends are in people's bios in the massive dating network. And it's quite a surprise for sure. According to the report, words related to championing social causes seem to be the most popular in the users' bios. Words such as lit, tea, and stan dominate Gen Z's profiles. Dating for a Cause If that's not enough to convince you that the Gen Z wave is coming, the same report says that causes were some of the most popular trending terms in Tinder for the year. Contrast this to the millennials, who often spout their Travel in their bios. As the report goes: "Gen Zers were more likely to mention Causes or Missions than Travel in their bios, a huge contrast to millennials, who were 3x more likely to tout Travel than Causes. Millennials connect over adventure, while Gen Z bonds over changing the world. Phrases like climate change, social justice, environment and gun control topped the list of what Gen Z cares about." Love of all Colors The report also mentions how, in 2019, Tinder users were more open to dating people outside the binary. Throughout the year, Tinder's More Gender feature usage was up for 30%. This shows a growing trend for people to explore potential dating partners in LGBTQ+ communities. Facepalm Worthy 2019 seemed like a very-much facepalm-worthy year for the users of the dating app. So much so, that the facepalm emoji has seen a meteoric rise, with over a 41% increase in usage compared to the previous year. "Apparently, if there's one thing younger generations bond over today, it's a shared sense of Facepalming at what's happening in the world," Tinder writes in the report. Global Surge But it is not all politics that people talk about in Tinder. As always, traveling is still a popular topic to talk about. And for those looking for love beyond their countries' borders, Tinder has also listed down ten cities where usage of the app has grown. Tokyo is #1, probably because of the upcoming Olympics (which are just a few months away). The capital-next-door Seoul also landed on the list as #4. For those who want to go look for a potential date in Europe, the cities of Oslo and Copenhagen made a list too. Of course, it wouldn't be Europe without the City of Love, Paris. Some Eastern European cities have also seen a rise in users, with Warsaw and Budapest landing spots on the top ten as well.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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12-09-2019 Science&Technology
Reddit links UK-US trade talk leak to Russian influence campaign

Reddit has linked account activity involving the leak and amplification of sensitive UK-US trade talks on its platform during the ongoing UK election campaign to a suspected Russian political influence operation. Or, to put it more plainly, the social network suspects that Russian operatives are behind the leak of sensitive trade data — likely with the intention of impacting the UK’s General Election campaign. The country goes to the polls next week, on December 12. The UK has been politically deadlocked since mid 2016 over how to implement the result of the referendum to leave the European Union . The minority Conservative government has struggled to negotiate a brexit deal that parliament backs. Another hung parliament or minority government would likely result in continued uncertainty. In a post discussing the “Suspected campaign from Russia”, Reddit writes: We were recently made aware of a post on Reddit that included leaked documents from the UK. We investigated this account and the accounts connected to it, and today we believe this was part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia. Earlier this year Facebook discovered a Russian campaign on its platform, which was further analyzed by the Atlantic Council and dubbed “Secondary Infektion.” Suspect accounts on Reddit were recently reported to us, along with indicators from law enforcement, and we were able to confirm that they did indeed show a pattern of coordination. We were then able to use these accounts to identify additional suspect accounts that were part of the campaign on Reddit. This group provides us with important attribution for the recent posting of the leaked UK documents, as well as insights into how adversaries are adapting their tactics. Reddit says that an account, called gregoratior, originally posted the leaked trade talks document. Later a second account, ostermaxnn, reposted it. The platform also found a “pocket of accounts” that worked together to manipulate votes on the original post in an attempt to amplify it. Though fairly fruitlessly, as it turned out; the leak gained little attention on Reddit, per the company. As a result of the investigation Reddit says it has banned 1 subreddit and 61 accounts — under policies against vote manipulation and misuse of its platform. The story doesn’t end there, though, because whoever was behind the trade talk leak appears to have resorted to additional tactics to draw attention to it — including emailing campaign groups and political activists directly. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Crunch

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12-07-2019 Religion
Comment: What iPhone needs before wireless can replace Lightning or USB-C

Ming-Chi Kuo reported today that Apple plans to release an iPhone that is completely wireless in 2021. That is, an iPhone without Lightning or USB-C connectivity of any sort. I see several major hurdles with this strategy right now, but those could be solved by 2021. According to Kuo, Apple will release an iPhone in 2021 without Lightning connectivity. While many had assumed Apple would one day switch from Lightning to USB-C, Kuo seems to think that won’t be the case. Instead of going through another change in connectivity, Apple’s strategy will seemingly be to ditch outwardly facing ports altogether. According to Kuo, Apple’s goal with the 2021 iPhone is to “provide the completely wireless experience.” The change would first come to the “highest-end model,” then spread downmarket to the rest of the iPhone lineup. The hurdles 2021 seems optimistic for an iPhone without Lightning or USB-C. In my mind, there are a few major hurdles: fast charging, CarPlay, on-the-go charging, and diagnostics. Wireless charging is incredibly convenient around the house and even in the car, but that’s not always the case. When out and about, using a portable battery is one of the easiest ways to recharge your iPhone. With a wireless charger, this isn’t really possible. You also still can’t easily use your phone while charging it wirelessly. For example, if you’re sitting at an airport charging your iPhone, chances are you’re going to want to be using it while it charges. Again, this isn’t yet possible with wireless charging. Then, there’s fast charging. The iPhone 11 can charge at up to 18W when using a USB-C to Lightning cable. Most wireless chargers only charge at 7.5W or 10W. Wireless charging is great for overnight power, but when you need a quick boost, wired charging is still the way to go. Apple touts that using an 18W charger with your iPhone 11 can get you a 50% charger in just 30 minutes. That type of speed just isn’t yet possible with wireless charging. There’s also the issue of support and diagnostics. If something goes wrong with your iPhone today, you can plug it into your Mac and easily restore it to factory settings. Without a Lightning port or USB-C port, there would seemingly be no easy way to do this without going to an Apple Store. Lastly, CarPlay. While some newer cars and head units support wireless CarPlay, the vast majority don’t. And it’s highly unlikely that the majority of iPhone users will buy a car with wireless CarPlay by 2021. It’s not impossible Of course, technology can progress a lot between now and 2021. It’s entirely possible that wireless charging will be just as fast, if not faster, than wired charging by then. iPhone battery life could also continue to improve. The less we have to worry about charging, the more feasible it is to ditch the Lightning port. Apple made dramatic improvements to iPhone battery in 2019, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   9to5Mac

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12-07-2019 Cars
Tesla releases Autopilot update with new speed adjustments, stop sign warnings, and more

Tesla has started pushing a new software update for Autopilot with new speed adjustments, stop sign warnings, and more. There are a lot of eyes on Autopilot improvements since Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the automaker will push a “feature complete” version of its full self-driving (at least to its early access owners) by the end of the year, which is just a few weeks away. Tesla appears to be still quite far from that, but new updates are introducing some good improvements. In a new update (2019.40.2) this week, Tesla is pushing several new Autopilot features and improvements, including a new way to adjust speed on Autopilot based on the speed of an adjacent lane. When your vehicle is moving at a significantly faster speed than vehicles in neighboring lanes, Autopilot now automatically reduces your driving speed. This is helpful in heavy traffic situations or when there is a long line of vehicles merging into a different lane or exiting onto an off-ramp. When your vehicle detects that adjacent lane traffic is significantly slower, the lane is highlighted with arrows and its vehicles are highlighted gray in the driving visualization. This speed adjustment can be temporarily overridden by pressing the accelerator pedal. The new update also includes “Automatic lane change improvements”: Automatic lane changes have been tuned to make lane changes with more confidence. When the adjacent lane is detected to be open, automatic lane changes will initiate faster and be more assertive. Finally, Tesla is also introducing “Autosteer stop sign warning”: Your car may warn you in some cases if it detects that you are about to run a stop sign, in addition to stop lights, while Autosteer is in use. This is not a substitute for an attentive driver and will not stop the car. This is an early feature that will lead to Tesla’s goal to have Autopilot work for city driving. Autopilot is currently meant for highway driving, and the new Smart Summon handles low-speed driving in parking. When Musk talks about a “feature complete” version of its full self-driving, he is talking about closing the gap between the two features with city driving capability. However, Tesla plans to still require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and be ready to take control at all times. Musk believes that it will take another year to take the driver out of the equation, and even then, it will depend on regulatory approval per market. This new 2019.40.2 update is being pushed gradually to Tesla’s fleet and may take days or even weeks to get to the entire fleet. Furthermore, different car models could get different features. Electrek’s Take This is an exciting update that makes a lot of sense on paper, but it will depend on how it works in practice. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Electrek

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12-07-2019 Environment
Are we Headed Towards Climate Crisis Tipping Point? Here Are the Evidences

The tipping point—the point where small, insignificant changes and incidents become big enough to cause a massive shift. It's something that can be positive or negative, but in the case of climate change and our environment, it leans towards the latter. Are we headed towards a climate crisis tipping point? Researchers Say We Are Close to Climate Crisis' Tipping Point According to a news article by WIRED, a group of researchers published a journal on Nature, arguing that we are now closer to the point of no return and unleashing the nine climate demons compared to what was previously believed. "We argue that the intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best," wrote Timothy Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, as well as his colleagues. They also believed we might have already lost control if the tipping occurs. When Earth's system collapses, it can lead to what is known as "hothouse earth" conditions, wherein the temperature around the world can increase nine degrees Fahrenheit or five degrees Celsius. It can also cause sea levels to rise 20 to 30 feet high, as well as losing our coral reefs and the Amazon rainforest, making large parts of our world uninhabitable, as per National Geographic. The Tipping Points There are already evidences that we are headed towards a climate crisis tipping point, and they are grouped into three categories: ice, land, and sea. Greenland is losing its ice sheet, and Financial Times reported it might be nearing a point where the ice sheets will eventually shrink. The Arctic ice is also currently losing more ice, which could cause more heat absorption since ice water is more reflective compared to seawater. Soil that has stayed frozen throughout the years is also getting exposed, which is causing carbon dioxide and methane to be released into the atmosphere. It means losing ice can further cause warming. The Land and Sea Things happening on land are more grim, with the deforestation happening in Amazon and around the world's largest forests. Deforestation causes drying, which can fuel more wildfires, just like what has happened previously in the Amazon forest and other forests around the world, therefore losing Earth's lungs gradually. Additionally, the fires emit more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. The rise of the global temperature has taken its toll on our coral reefs, causing bleaching and their inevitable death. Besides global warming, the ocean's acidification and pollution are also causing more damage than what we thought, adding around two degrees Celsius in our global temperature. ...

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12-07-2019 Games
GTA Online gets a brand-new casino heist and arcade business

The last big content update for GTA Online introduced the Diamond Casino, a new zone where players can gamble, purchase a luxurious penthouse, and accept new missions from a new cast of characters. Rockstar has announced a follow-up is coming to the Diamond Casino: a new heist coming in December. Heists in GTA Online are a set of lucrative missions that are tougher than your average job, but have a payout to match. The last heist was related to a doomsday bunker, and was released two years ago. This heist will be a little more down to earth, tasking a group of four players to break into the vault at the Diamond Casino and take down the Duggan family, which took over the successful business via nefarious means. Rockstar claims there will be more ways to set-up, prep, and explore missions than in previous heists; there will be multiple paths of approach to the end objective, different security measures to consider, and in-mission choices that will need to be made on the fly. A set-up may go hideously wrong mid-mission, requiring players to pull out their weapons and do things in a much more messy fashion. In theory, this should make this the most replayable heist yet, with both different routes to take and different outcomes for each mission along the way. Players will also get access to a new commercial venture: a retro arcade business property. This will work as a staging ground for heists, where players can practice hacking and vault cracking minigames. There will also be a very handy Master Control Terminal, allowing players to manage all of their businesses from one place, which is a huge quality of life addition for GTA Online. The Diamond Casino Heist launches on Dec. 12, 2019.

Read Original Article     ON:   Polygon

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11-30-2019 Entertainment
E.T. And Elliott Reunite 40 Years Later In A Commercial Sequel

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. It has the power to reboot franchises on screens big and small. The sheer force of well-placed nostalgia can practically move mountains. Or can–at the very least–get us in our feelings for a minute or two. Holidays are fuel for nostalgia. Big movies like Star Wars come out, playing on our childhood loves, while Christmas commercials prey on our memories of yesteryear. But you can’t exactly blame the companies that use old characters to sell us new things–it works. Which is why we’re here to admit we’re total suckers for this new commercial from Xfinity. Not only does it feature characters we’ve known and loved for almost 40 years, but it also reunites them in a truly special way. Behold, the reunion between E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and his dear friend Elliott, with Henry Thomas back as the adult version of the beloved character. We’re not crying, you’re crying! First of all, this about the last thing we expected to wake up to on Thanksgiving morning. What a pleasant surprise. The special commercial is called “A Holiday Reunion” and works as a sort of mini-sequel to the 1982 Steven Spielberg movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. In that film, a young boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas) befriends an alien from another world and hides him in his suburban home. He calls him E.T. and slowly introduces him to his family: brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton), sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore), and mother Mary (Dee Wallace). Eventually, the government catches wind of E.T.’s presence on Earth and the little alien escapes and flees back to his home world. His goodbye scene with Elliott and his family ranks up there as one of the more tear-jerking moments in the history of cinema. “I’ll be right here,” E.T. tells Elliott, placing a finger on the young boy. In “A Holiday Reunion,” an older E.T. comes back to Earth and thinks he’s stumbled on Elliott once again. But it’s actually Elliott’s children, who look a lot like him and Gertie as kids. Henry Thomas comes out of his home, excitedly reuniting with his old friend. (Who’s chopping onions?) The two connect, with E.T. once again welcomed into Elliott’s home. But exactly like before, the alien’s time on Earth is limited. The commercial is for Xfinity, owned by Comcast, which also owns Universal Pictures–the company that originally brought us E.T. A shortened version appeared on TV, but the full 4-minute version is available online. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Nerdist

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11-30-2019 Science&Technology
Amazon Alexa is about to get more emotional — here’s what it sounds like excited and disappointed

Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant will soon speak more emotionally. The company announced new tools on Wednesday that will allow developers who build Alexa into skills to express excitement or disappointment with varying levels of intensity. The voice assistant will be able to respond with high, medium or low degrees of the two emotions. Amazon said it built the feature because “customer feedback indicates that overall satisfaction with the voice experience increased by 30% when Alexa responded by emotions.” Here’s what an excited Alexa with high intensity sounds like, for example: And here’s how a disappointed Alexa with high intensity sounds: Amazon said this could be used in games, when Amazon might respond to a correct or incorrect answer. Amazon is also rolling emotions out to Alexa’s voice outside of skills created by developers. “We’re continuing to introduce Alexa capabilities that will help create a more natural and intuitive experience for our customers,” a spokesperson told CNBC. “For example, customers will begin to notice improvement when asking for sports updates depending on their sports team affinity, results of a recent game, and additional contextual signals. Alexa will deliver the update in an enthusiastic, upbeat voice if their team has won the recent game or just clinched a position in the play-offs.” ...

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11-29-2019 General
Alexa is about to be very disappointed

A general lack of judgment has always been one of the strongest appeals of smart assistants. Whatever bad pop song or terrible online video you play for the 10,000th time — they don’t care. They’re simply there to help, judgment free. Amazon, however, has been working on some features behind the scenes to help make Alexa more lifelike. Those involve bringing more emotional resonance to the smart assistant — namely the ability to make its voice sound varying levels of excited and disappointed. “Alexa emotions” feature three levels of intensity. For the full effect, here’s “I just listened to the Smiths and then Googled what Morrissey has been up to lately” mode: We all get down around the holidays, Alexa. Are you sure there’s nothing you want to talk about here? Amazon says users are feeling the newly empathetic assistant. “ Early customer feedback indicates that overall satisfaction with the voice experience increased by 30% when Alexa responded with emotions,” it writes in a post. The feature is available to developers starting today, primarily focused on gaming skills. That means they’ll probably start rolling out to applications in the near future. No word on whether it’s possible to set those flash news briefings to perpetual disappointment. The company is also rolling out a content-tailored delivery, design to give Alexa a style more akin to a news anchor or radio host.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Crunch

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11-28-2019 Science&Technology
Watch Google Assistant’s new Ambient Mode in action for the first time

In September, Google announced its Ambient Mode feature for Google Assistant, which shows useful information right on your lock screen when your Android phone or tablet is plugged in. A Google spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge that Ambient Mode will roll out next week to “the majority of users” on Sony Xperia phones, Nokia phones, Transsion phones, Xiaomi phones, and Lenovo’s Smart Tab M8 HD (when placed in its charging station) and Yoga Smart Tab (when using its kickstand) tablets. Oddly, Google’s own Pixel products aren’t yet on the list. Yesterday, the company posted a new video showing Ambient Mode in action, and the mode shows on-screen items like calendar info, notifications, weather, and smart home controls. It effectively turns your phone into a smart display whenever it’s charging. Ambient Mode looks pretty handy, even if it seems somewhat duplicative of a functionality you could already find on a Google Nest Hub, as my colleague Dieter Bohn pointed out in his original article. But in theory, it seems like Ambient Mode could tell you when your next meeting is, what your commute is like, and let you turn off the lights as you’re about to leave the house, all from your lock screen. Google says that, for a device to support Ambient Mode, it must be running Android 8.1 or above and have the latest version of the Google search app installed. There are some reports of the feature rolling out now to Nokia phones and at least one Xiaomi phone, the Redmi K20 Pro. It’s unclear when other devices might get Ambient Mode in the future, but the video does say that Ambient Mode is “deeply integrated” into Android and isn’t a standalone experience, so it seems possible that it will be available on more Android devices before long.

Read Original Article     ON:   The Verge

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45 Yomiuri Shimbun / Japan 46 Gazeta Wyborcza / Poland 47 The Hindu / India 48 The Toronto Star / Canada
49 The Sun / United Kingdom 50 The Age / Australia 51 The Boston Globe / United States 52 Philippine Daily Inquirer / Philippines
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57 Die Zeit / Germany 58 The Onion / United States 59 Metro / United Kingdom 60 ABC / Spain
61 The Seattle Times / United States 62 The Times / United Kingdom 63 La Gazzetta dello Sport / Italy 64 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Germany
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69 The Dong-a Ilbo / Korea 70 La Nación / Argentina 71 The Hindustan Times / India 72 San Jose Mercury News / United States
73 The Dallas Morning News / United States 74 AS / Spain 75 The Australian / Australia 76 Star Tribune / United States
77 Qingdao News / China 78 The Jerusalem Post / Israel 79 The Plain Dealer / United States 80 L'Equipe / France
81 Komsomolskaya Pravda / Russia 82 The Denver Post / United States 83 Mladá fronta Dnes / Czech Republic 84 Libération / France
85 O Globo / Brazil 86 Aftonbladet / Sweden 87 The Japan Times / Japan 88 Business Standard / India
89 Le Nouvel Observateur / France 90 Kommersant / Russia 91 Le Parisien / France 92 The New Zealand Herald / New Zealand
93 Detroit Free Press / United States 94 Newsday / United States 95 The Baltimore Sun / United States 96 National Post / Canada
97 Il Sole 24 Ore / Italy 98 The Miami Herald / United States 99 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / United States 100 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / United States
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113 DNA - Daily News & Analysis / India 114 La Stampa / Italy 115 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / United States 116 20 Minutes / France
117 La Vanguardia / Spain 118 Evening Standard / United Kingdom 119 China Times / Taiwan 120 The Straits Times / Singapore
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125 Argumenti i Fakti / Russia 126 Boston Herald / United States 127 Infobae / Argentina 128 Dagbladet / Norway
129 Independent Online / South Africa 130 The New York Observer / United States 131 Yeni Safak / Turkey 132 Seattle Post-Intelligencer / United States
133 The Kansas City Star / United States 134 Al-Ahram / Egypt 135 The Scotsman / United Kingdom 136 Nikkan Sports / Japan
137 Deseret News / United States 138 Herald Sun / Australia 139 The Vancouver Sun / Canada 140 Yang Cheng Wan Bao / China
141 Les Échos / France 142 Gulf News / United Arab Emirates 143 Yedioth Aharonot / Israel 144 Sports Nippon / Japan
145 The Orange County Register / United States 146 Expressen / Sweden 147 St. Louis Post-Dispatch / United States 148 / Russia
149 Handelsblatt / Germany 150 The Daily Telegraph / Australia

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