News & Updates

Enlarge / The Galaxy Unpacked 2017 invite. (credit: Samsung)

Samsung is back! After a rough stretch thanks to the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 and the arrest of Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong, Samsung is dusting itself off and jumping back into the smartphone game. “Galaxy Unpacked 2017” starts on March 29th at 11am ET (8am PT, 4pm BST, convert to your time zone here), where we expect Samsung to finally take the wraps off its newest flagship, the Galaxy S8.

The Galaxy S8 promises to be a major revamp of Samsung’s flagship, expected to get its most drastic redesign ever, with super-slim bezels and an extra-tall 18.5:9 display. As its first major smartphone launch since the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco, we’re also expecting a lot of reassurances from Samsung that this phone has gone through a battery of battery tests, which should be fun to watch. We’ll be there to cover all the twists and turns live, with a live blog of the festivities and a hands-on after the event is over. You can follow along with us at the link below.

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Enlarge (credit: Scott Olson | Getty Images)

The same Chinese company that bought League of Legends a couple of years ago just became one of Tesla’s largest shareholders. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated March 24th, Tencent Holdings Ltd. has purchased a five percent stake in the company—8,167,544 shares to be exact. According to TechCrunch, the deal was arranged a week earlier, and Tencent paid $1.7 billion for the shares.

The cash infusion will no doubt be welcome at Tesla. The company’s acquisition of Solar City came with a large amount of debt, and it continues to lose money selling Model S and Model X electric vehicles—its two profitable quarters have been thanks to the sale of emissions credits to other companies. But it has bulging order books for the Model 3, and it told investors in February that production for that car begins in July. Fulfilling those orders in a timely manner won’t be cheap, which is where Tencent’s $1.7 billion should come in handy.

There’s plenty of reason for skepticism over that target, though. The Model S and Model X both had plenty of teething troubles early on, and neither were built in numbers close to Tesla’s goals for the Model 3. Tesla is also forgoing the traditional production prototype, a “beta” version of a new car that companies use to refine the product and its production process. That’s a change of plan from last year, when the company told investors in a 10-K filing that a beta prototype Model 3 would be the company’s next performance milestone. Last week, Elon Musk tweeted a short video of a “release candidate” Model 3:

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Enlarge / Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has an important engine test coming up soon. (credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Key Blue Origin officials have begun to drop hints about the imminent hot-fire test of the company’s new rocket engine, the BE-4. Jeff Bezos recently said to expect a full-scale engine test “in the coming weeks.” And last Wednesday the company’s director of business development, Brett Alexander, said during a Center for Strategic and International Studies panel discussion the test “was coming soon.”

For many people, a rocket engine is just a rocket engine. But Blue Origin’s new engine is a big deal for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its 550,000 pounds of thrust at sea level, more powerful than a space shuttle main engine, which had 418,000 pounds of thrust. Beyond the brawn, however, there are other reasons to anticipate a successful test.

A new kind of engine

During a tour of his rocket factory in Kent, Washington, last year Bezos explained the philosophy behind the BE-4 engine. “In principle, rocket engines are simple, but that’s the last place rocket engines are ever simple,” he said. Nonetheless, Blue Origin sought to make an engine that was not too complex, nor one that required ultra-premium materials. The designers didn’t want to create a work of art that pushed the limits of engineering—rather, they wanted a reliable workhorse that could be flown again and again, perhaps as many as 100 times as the company pushes the boundaries of reusable spaceflight.

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Enlarge / A little needlework and blood has never looked better. (credit: © MaricorMaricar @ Handsome Frank)

Transplanted umbilical cord blood can be used to treat or cure more than 80 conditions, from leukemia to sickle-cell disease. For Mosaic, Bryn Nelson follows the story of one man, Chris. After being diagnosed with leukemia in his early 40s, his best chance of survival comes in the form of blood from three babies he’ll never meet, nor even know the names of. This article was first published by Wellcome on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

A few hours before beginning chemotherapy, a man named Chris faces his cellphone camera with a mischievous smile and describes a perfectly absurd milestone at 1:37pm on a Wednesday. “There is no more beautiful moment in a man’s life…” he says with puckish glee. Because how can you not laugh when you’ve been invited to bank your sperm in advance of being “Godzilla-ed” with chemotherapy and radiation, all just four days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the age of 43 and given a 5 to 15 percent chance of survival?

Oh, and the fertility clinic forgot to send someone over with a specimen kit, and they’re closing in little more than 20 minutes, so you have to fire up your iPad for some quick visual stimulation to help you fill a sterile tube. Just try to ignore the legal consent paperwork all around you and the catheter that’s been surgically inserted into your jugular vein.

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If you own an iPhone or iPad, it’s possible you could see popup windows in a sort of endless cycle on your Safari browser, revealing your browser has been locked and asking you to pay a fee to unlock it. Just do not pay any ransom.

A new ransomware campaign has been found exploiting a flaw in Apple’s iOS Safari browser in order to extort money from users who view pornography content on their


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Mild spoilers ahead.

(credit: Illustration by Sparth, via Tor Books)

In his new novel The Collapsing Empire, bestselling writer John Scalzi builds a fascinating new interstellar civilization in order to destroy it. The Interdependency is a thousand-year-old interplanetary trade partnership in humanity’s distant future. Its member planets were once connected to Earth by the Flow, a natural feature of space-time that allows ships to enter a kind of subspace zone. Once there, they can circumvent the unbreakable speed of light to travel between stars that are dozens of light years apart. What could go wrong?

Unfortunately, nobody is asking that question. Humanity has created an entire civilization that relies on the Flow and its “shoals,” where ships can enter and exit. Planets are colonized purely based on their proximity to the shoals, not on habitability. The result is not unlike a medieval trade guild society whose populace happens to live in domed cities, buried caves, and artificial habitats, completely dependent on trade for resources.

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Enlarge / Shoot the thing! (credit: Bungie)

For nearly three years, Destiny has been the source of strife, joy, frustration, and often fierce loyalty to millions of players. With a full sequel to the game just announced on Twitter, developer Bungie has elected to close things out with a celebration of sorts.

“The dream of Destiny has always been that it is an adventure that continues,” Bungie community manager David “DeeJ” Dague told Ars in a recent interview. “With ‘Age of Triumph,’ we’re taking a moment before a brand new beginning to take stock of everything that our community has achieved thus far.”

“Age of Triumph,” is the latest (and apparently last) of the original Destiny’s live events. These free updates came with new activities and rewards for players to rally around, but they lacked the new missions, maps, enemies, or other more substantive additions you’d find in paid expansions. With a sequel on the way, Bungie has every incentive to ensure players come away from the first game with a pleasant memory of this final event. To that end, “Age of Triumph” adds new in-game rewards like armor and a “Record Book” of achievements to showcase players who reach Bungie-approved milestones.

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Enlarge / This flamingo colony runs in a nearly perfect formation as a “parade” of sorts. It’s even more stunning in motion—and that much more stunning if you get to see the birds’ perfect pink tones on an HDR-10 display. (credit: BBC Home Entertainment)

BBC series Planet Earth stood out in 2006 for many reasons: massive budget, beautiful cinematography, isolated ends of the planet, David Attenborough, etc., etc. But I would argue that its 2007 “re-launch” on high-def discs did as much to drive the show’s popularity.

Back then, people needed convincing that a fully 1080p home theater was worth the cost. Planet Earth‘s pure, uncompressed 1080p version (available on both Blu-ray and HD-DVD, weren’t those the days) went a long way toward doing that—and proved out the production crew’s use of cutting-edge cameras. Big-ticket TV buyers were the first to invite truly sexy cheetahs and blue whales into their living rooms.

In the decade since, other gorgeous globe-trotting documentary series (including a few from the BBC) have premiered. But today’s “UHD Blu-ray” release of the six-episode sequel, Planet Earth II, makes clear what it takes to earn the series’ name. Planet Earth II is the momentum-tipping disc release that TV manufacturers around the world have been waiting for, and it offers a definitive answer to the question, “Why in the world do I need a 4K high dynamic range TV?”

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A security researcher has disclosed critical issues in the processes and third-party API used by Symantec certificate resellers to deliver and manage Symantec SSL certificates.

The flaw, discovered by Chris Byrne, an information security consultant and instructor for Cloud Harmonics, could allow an unauthenticated attacker to retrieve other persons’ SSL certificates, including public and


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(credit: Lookout)

Ransomware scammers have been exploiting a flaw in Apple’s Mobile Safari browser in a campaign to extort fees from uninformed users. The scammers particularly target those who viewed porn or other controversial content. Apple patched the vulnerability on Monday with the release of iOS version 10.3.

The flaw involved the way that Safari displayed JavaScript pop-up windows. In a blog post published Monday afternoon, researchers from mobile-security provider Lookout described how exploit code surreptitiously planted on multiple websites caused an endless loop of windows to be displayed in a way that prevented the browser from being used. The attacker websites posed as law-enforcement actions and falsely claimed that the only way users could regain use of their browser was to pay a fine in the form of an iTunes gift card code to be delivered by text message. In fact, recovering from the pop-up loop was as easy as going into the device settings and clearing the browser cache. This simple fix was possibly lost on some uninformed targets who were too uncomfortable to ask for outside help.

“The attackers effectively used fear as a factor to get what they wanted before the victim realized that there was little actual risk,” Lookout researchers Andrew Blaich and Jeremy Richards wrote in Monday’s post.

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