Actualidad weekly headlines http://www.actualidad.com Actualidad News Sun, 17 Dec 2017 13:54:01 GMT 'X-Men,' 'Fantastic Four' in Flux After Fox-Disney Deal https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/x-men-fantastic-four-flux-fox-disney-deal-1067672/ The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get a lot bigger, but some fear that it may become too crowded.<p><p>The announced Disney-Fox deal is a big step forward in Marvel reclaiming many of the characters it lost in the 1990s as it licensed them out to stave off bankruptcy. The respective characters from the X-Men and Fantastic Four universes will finally join the Marvel Studios fold.<p><p>On one level, it could not have come at a more precipitous time. After the release of Avengers 4 in 2019, Marvel Studios' deals with some of its marquee actors are set to expire, including those of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, among others who have been around since the MCU’s big bang, and whose salaries have become astronomical.<p><p>The inbound characters, whether in stand-alone movies or fancy crossovers, are bound to give an injection of freshness to the MCU and the comic book movie genre in general, but fans should know this wish fulfillment is a double-edged sword.<p><p>For one, it's unclear whether the actors who portray fan-favorite heroes — be it Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique or Michael Fassbender as Magneto — would take part in the new movies. Both actors, who star in next summer’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix, inked expensive, one-off deals. A return in a greater Marvel universe could cost even more.<p><p>Also, Marvel head Kevin Feige has said he has 22 more movies planned to start rolling out over the next decade as Phase 4 of the MCU begins. The merging of the universe complicates that rollout not just from a development point of view, but also a distribution point of view. Just how many Marvel movies can Disney release in a year? <p><p>Insiders are already expecting casualties.<p><p>Fox’s The New Mutants is opening April 13, 2018, and director Josh Boone has a trilogy planned. But does a movie like that, with a smaller budget and rising stars, fit in a slate that includes big-budget live-action remakes such as Jungle Book and Cinderella, Star Wars movies, Pixar and Walt Disney offerings, and Avengers? <p><p>“If Disney is an NFL team, then every movie on the calendar is like a Heisman Trophy winner,” says one insider. “This raises the bar of what is a theatrical release.”<p><p>Thus, the thinking is that future installments or non-event Marvel content could be put into the silo for Disney's planned streaming service (of course, all bets are off if New Mutants becomes a hit and audience demand forces more theatrical releases).<p><p>The long-gestating Gambit movie starring Channing Tatum is finally due to begin shooting in late February 2018 for a February 2019 release. What will be the box-office threshold for Disney to consider that movie a hit, thus warranting a sequel? The answers will lie in a re-evaluation of the projects down the line to see how and if it fits into a broader Marvel strategy, according to sources.<p><p><a href="https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/x-men-fantastic-four-flux-fox-disney-deal-1067672" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/x-men-fantastic-four-flux-fox-disney-deal-1067672 Box Office: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Soaring to Huge $45M-Plus in Thursday Previews https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/box-office-star-wars-last-jedi-soaring-huge-45m-thursday-previews-1068022/ The tentpole should have no trouble scoring the top opening of the year.<p>Disney and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Last Jedi is soaring to a near-record $45 million in Thursday previews, according to early estimates.<p><p>That would be the second-best preview number of all time behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A final tally will be released Friday morning, and could come in higher.<p><p><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=14672&tipo=9&vv=Q0CbN8sfihY" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><p><p>The franchise's eighth installment is expected to make a domestic debut in the $200 million range, making it the strongest opening of the year so far. The Force Awakens began opening in select foreign markets midweek, and is projected to gross $425 million-plus through Sunday to secure one of the five best worldwide openings of all time, not accounting for inflation.<p><p>Last Jedi's domestic preview numbers compare well with those of recent Star Wars titles. J.J. Abrams' Force Awakens earned a record $57 million in previews in December 2015, and went on to earn $247.9 million in its opening weekend to become the No. 1 film of all time domestically with $936.7 million, not accounting for inflation. And last year, standalone film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story drew $29 million in previews during the same weekend, and went on to earn $155.1 million in its opening weekend and gross $532.1 million in its domestic run. Globally, the films earned $2.1 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively,<p><p>In terms of Thursday previews, Last Jedi looks to supplant the final Harry Potter pic, which currently holds the record for the second-best Thursday-night preview gross with $43.5 million.<p><p>Directed by Rian Johnson, The Last Jedi reunites Force Awakens' Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis and Lupita Nyong'o, along with original stars Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher, to whom the movie is dedicated. Franchise newcomers include Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro. The story picks up immediately after the events of The Force Awakens, with Rey (Ridley) seeking out Luke (Hamill) to help the Resistance and its fight against the villainous Kylo Ren (Driver) and The First Order.<p><p>The only film daring to open opposite The Last Jedi is Ferdinand, an animated family offering from Fox and Blue Sky Studios that hopes to win over younger tots and their parents throughout the holidays. Tracking suggests Ferdinand will open in the mid-teen millions to $20 million range. Directed by Carlos Saldanha, the pic is based on the classic children's book about a peace-loving Spanish bull who would rather while away the hours smelling flowers and daydreaming than taking to the ring to fight. The voice cast includes John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Peyton Manning and Gina Rodriguez. Ferdinand nabbed Golden Globes nominations for best animated feature and animated score. Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/box-office-star-wars-last-jedi-soaring-huge-45m-thursday-previews-1068022 Record Breaker! 8th Alien Planet Found Around Distant Star https://www.space.com/39099-alien-solar-system-with-eight-exoplanets-discovery.html/ Our solar system is not alone atop the planet-harboring heap anymore.<p><p>Scientists have discovered another world orbiting the star Kepler-90, bringing that system's tally of confirmed planets to eight — the same number as in Earth's solar system (at least according to the International Astronomical Union, which stripped Pluto of its "ninth planet" status back in 2006).<p><p>That's one more than the previous extrasolar record, which had been held jointly by Kepler-90 and the TRAPPIST-1 system. [Images: Discovery of 8th Planet in Kepler-90 System with Google AI] <p><p>The research team found the new planet, known as Kepler-90i — as well as another world in a different system — after analyzing archival data from NASA's Kepler mission using Google machine-learning techniques. <p><p>"Just as we expected, there are exciting discoveries lurking in our archived Kepler data, waiting for the right tool or technology to unearth them," Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. "This finding shows that our data will be a treasure trove available to innovative researchers for years to come."<p><p>The Kepler space telescope launched in March 2009. During its four-year original mission, the spacecraft scanned 150,000 stars continuously, searching for the tiny brightness dips caused by planets crossing the stars' faces. In 2014, Kepler shifted to a second mission known as K2, during which it hunts for exoplanets on a more limited basis but also makes a variety of other observations.<p><p>This planet-hunting work has been incredibly successful. To date, Kepler has discovered more than 2,500 confirmed alien worlds — about two-thirds of all known planets beyond our solar system — as well as more than 2,000 "candidates" that await confirmation by follow-up observations or analysis. (The vast majority of these finds have come from the original-mission observations; the K2 confirmed-planet tally stands at 184.) <p><p>But the two new discoveries suggest that many more alien worlds may lurk undiscovered in Kepler's data sets.<p><p>Researchers Christopher Shallue and Andrew Vanderburg — a senior software engineer with Google AI and an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin, respectively — trained a computer to recognize weak, as-yet-unnoticed exoplanet signals in Kepler data. The duo used a machine-learning approach, basing it on the networks of neurons that populate the human brain.<p><p>"In my spare time, I started googling for ‘finding exoplanets with large data sets’ and found out about the Kepler mission and the huge data set available," Shallue said in the same statement. "Machine learning really shines in situations where there is so much data that humans can't search it for themselves."<p><p><a href="https://www.space.com/39099-alien-solar-system-with-eight-exoplanets-discovery.html" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.space.com/39099-alien-solar-system-with-eight-exoplanets-discovery.html Tesla was under federal investigation over Model 3, may still be, report says http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/14/tesla-was-under-federal-investigation-over-model-3-may-still-be-report-says// PALO ALTO — The Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Tesla over the way it was selling its Model 3 sedan, but the company failed to tell investors about the probe, and may still be under federal investigation, according to a new report.<p><p>The firm led by CEO Elon Musk was under formal investigation by the securities regulator from June 2016 to May 2017, according to SEC documents.<p><p>Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.<p><p>The Palo Alto electric car maker’s process for selling the Model 3 — a $35,000 sedan aimed at the mass market — involved taking $1,000 deposits, for future delivery. Hundreds of thousands of would-be Tesla owners have put up money for the Model 3.<p><p>The SEC investigation into the company ended in May with no enforcement action taken. But the regulator’s refusal, on law enforcement grounds, to provide certain other records suggested that “there is at least one other unresolved SEC probe” into Tesla, according to investment-research firm Probes Reporter, which obtained and published the SEC records. The research firm noted that Tesla had not told investors it was the subject of an SEC probe.<p><p>SEC documents show the commission started investigating Tesla because it believed the company might have been “making false statements of material fact or failing to disclose material facts concerning the company’s Model 3 vehicle.”<p><p>Tesla was ordered to produce company documents related to Model 3 reservations, cancellations, and deposits, including how Tesla had used or planned to use the deposit money. The SEC also demanded names and credit card numbers of customers who pre-ordered Model 3s.<p><p>Tesla’s sales process for the Model 3 has been a way to create liquidity for the company, which is using a similar process with its new Roadster, said CFRA analyst Efraim Levy.<p><p>“They’re selling reservations that materially would benefit cash flow,” Levy said. “I don’t know of any crime there. It’s pretty straightforward: People are willing to wait on an open-ended time period on the potential to have a car.”<p><p>The demand by the regulator for Model 3 customers’ names appears likely to have been a way for the SEC to confirm that there were real people behind the reservation numbers Tesla was putting out, Levy said.<p><p>Tesla’s stated delivery targets for the Model 3 may have led it unintentionally to mislead customers about when they would get their vehicles, Levy said.<p><p>“As long as it was done in good faith, that’s not an issue,” he said, adding that Musk’s statements, in general, need to be taken with a grain of salt.<p><p>“He sets ambitious targets, and I think that’s part of his strategy to motivate his workforce to make them do better than they would have otherwise,” Levy said.<p><p><a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/14/tesla-was-under-federal-investigation-over-model-3-may-still-be-report-says/" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/14/tesla-was-under-federal-investigation-over-model-3-may-still-be-report-says/ Brexit: EU leaders set to move talks on to next stage http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42362507/ EU leaders are expected to formally agree to start the next phase of Brexit negotiations later.<p><p><p><p>It means talks can move on to the long-term relationship between the UK and EU, days after Theresa May suffered her first defeat in the House of Commons.<p><p><p><p>Mrs May was applauded by other leaders at dinner in Brussels on Thursday night after she made a speech about Brexit.<p><p><p><p><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=14669&tipo=9&vv=irKEqVIhrwc" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><p><p>The next round of talks on a transition deal for the end of Brexit are expected to begin as early as next week.<p><p><p><p>The European Commission has said "sufficient progress" has been made on the first phase to move onto discussing the framework of a future relationship - including issues such as security and trade.<p><p><p><p>Kamal Ahmed: Brexit transition deal is 'urgent', say MPs<p><p>Can Leavers and Remainers call Christmas truce?<p><p>What the EU Withdrawal Bill will do<p><p>UK to stay in Erasmus scheme until at least 2020<p><p>Under EU rules, the prime minister will not attend the meeting where the decision is formally confirmed.<p><p><p><p>But the round of applause during Thursday's dinner suggests the process is more or less on track - and indicates a degree of support in Europe for Mrs May, says the BBC's Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly.<p><p><p><p>'Ambition and creativity'<p><p>During the dinner with the 27 other EU leaders, Mrs May urged them to approve an agreement to move Brexit talks on to a second phase.<p><p><p><p>In a brief speech, she stressed her keenness to get on with shaping a "deep and special" future partnership as quickly as possible, leaving no doubt that she believes she was "on course to deliver Brexit".<p><p><p><p>She said she made "no secret" of wanting to move on to the next phase and to approaching it with "ambition and creativity".<p><p><p><p>"A particular priority should be agreement on the implementation period so that we can bring greater certainty to businesses in the UK and across the 27," she said.<p><p><p><p>The text likely to be rubber-stamped by the leaders will promise to work towards a "framework" for a trade deal - with a wait until March before guidelines for the way ahead are produced.<p><p><p><p>'Good progress'<p><p>The document states that a formal free trade agreement cannot be signed until after the UK has left the EU.<p><p><p><p>The talks will first prioritise translating recent headway on the issues of citizens' rights, the Irish border and the £39bn "divorce bill" into a legally-binding withdrawal agreement - as well as to work out the terms for a transition period to follow the official date of Brexit in March 2019.<p><p><p><p><a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42362507" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a><p> Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42362507 Amazon is selling the Apple TV and Google Chromecast again https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/12/14/16777508/amazon-brings-back-apple-tv-google-chromecast/ Amazon.com will soon begin selling the Apple TV set-top box and Google Chromecast, two streaming devices that have been unavailable from the leading online retailer for over two years. Listings for both products have returned to the site, but Amazon isn’t accepting orders just yet. The company has directly confirmed to The Verge that it intends to do so in the near future. “I can confirm that we are assorting Apple TV and Chromecast,” a spokesperson said by email. The news was first reported by CNet.<p><p>Both the Apple TV and Chromecast were pulled from Amazon in late 2015. The company’s justification for the move was that consumers would be confused and frustrated if they purchased streaming devices that didn’t offer a direct, convenient way to view Amazon Prime Video content. In Apple’s case, that impasse lasted until earlier this month when Amazon finally released a Prime Video app for Apple TV. (The new software has been met with some unfavorable reviews.)<p><p>The Google situation is a bit more interesting for two reasons. First, Amazon Video still doesn’t support the extremely popular Chromecast. And second, Amazon and Google are embroiled in a feud. Google is angry at Amazon for failing to support Google Cast (the technology that powers Chromecast) and for the retailer’s long-running refusal to sell Google-branded products and some newer devices from its Nest subsidiary. (Google Home, for example, is still completely absent from Amazon.com.)<p><p>Things got pretty ugly and unnecessarily petty. If you asked an Echo device to order a Chromecast, Amazon would automatically put a Fire Stick in your cart instead. In retaliation to Amazon’s moves, Google recently pulled YouTube from the Echo Show and announced plans to remove the app from Fire TV streaming devices as of January 1st. Amazon claims this amounts to “selectively blocking customer access to an open website.”<p><p>Amazon’s restoration of Chromecast sales can be seen as a way of easing the escalating tensions between two tech giants. Perhaps Google might rethink its decision as a result and allow Fire TV owners to keep YouTube after all. The companies would do well to work things out: earlier today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai referenced the public spat between Amazon and Google in his remarks during the commission’s vote to kill net neutrality. Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/12/14/16777508/amazon-brings-back-apple-tv-google-chromecast U.S. regulators ditch net neutrality rules as legal battles loom https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-internet/u-s-regulators-ditch-net-neutrality-rules-as-legal-battles-loom-idUSKBN1E81CX/ WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines on Thursday to repeal landmark 2015 rules aimed at ensuring a free and open internet, setting up a court fight over a move that could recast the digital landscape.<p><p>The approval of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal in a 3-2 vote marked a victory for internet service providers such as AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc and hands them power over what content consumers can access. It also is the biggest win for Pai in his sweeping effort to undo many telecommunications regulations since taking over at the agency in January.<p><p>Democrats, Hollywood and companies such as Google parent Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc had urged Pai, a Republican appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, to keep the Obama-era rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. The new rules give internet service providers sweeping powers to change how consumers access the internet but must have new transparency requirements that will require them to disclose any changes to consumers.<p><p>The meeting, held amid protests online and in front of the FCC headquarters in Washington, was evacuated before the vote for about 10 minutes due to an unspecified security threat, and resumed after law enforcement with sniffer dogs checked the room.<p><p>White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters the administration “supports the FCC’s efforts. At the same time, the White House certainly has and always will support a free and fair internet.”<p><p>New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, said in a statement he will lead a multi-state lawsuit to challenge the reversal.<p><p>Shares of Alphabet, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp moved lower after the vote. <p><p>The FCC said the rules would take effect in a few months after the White House Office of Management and Budget formally approves them.<p><p>Pai has argued that the 2015 rules were heavy handed and stifled competition and innovation among service providers.<p><p>“The internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We weren’t living in a digital dystopia,” he said on Thursday.<p><p>NEXT STEPS<p>Consumers are unlikely to see immediate changes but smaller startups worry the lack of restrictions could drive up costs or lead to their content being blocked.<p><p>Internet service providers say they will not block or throttle legal content but may engage in paid prioritization. They argue that the largely unregulated internet functioned well in the two decades before the 2015 order.<p><p><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-internet/u-s-regulators-ditch-net-neutrality-rules-as-legal-battles-loom-idUSKBN1E81CX" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-internet/u-s-regulators-ditch-net-neutrality-rules-as-legal-battles-loom-idUSKBN1E81CX Subaru WRX STI Type RA and BRZ tS are 2018’s hot blue hellions https://www.slashgear.com/subaru-wrx-sti-type-ra-and-brz-ts-are-2018s-hot-blue-hellions-15511900// Subaru may have been focused on families recently, with its 2019 Ascent SUV, but the 2018 WRX STI Type RA and 2018 BRZ tS prove it hasn’t forgotten about performance. The STI (Subaru Tecnica International) tuned variants of the WRX STI and BRZ will only be made in small numbers, and promise more of the handling and grip the the automaker has become known for.<p><p>The 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA pumps up the horsepower from its 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine to 310 HP, courtesy of a new cold air intake and high-flow performance exhaust. The automaker also added stronger pistons and retuned the ECU. It’s matched to a modified transmission, too, with a revised third gear ratio along with a short-throw shifter.<p><p><p>On the outside, there’s a new carbon fiber roof panel, matching pedestal wing, Cherry Blossom Red accents for the front and rear mesh, and lightweight BBS 19-inch forged alloy wheels. They’re not the only lightweighting efforts, mind: the spare tire has gone in the name of cutting heft. The STI front under spoiler has been added in, for improved stability at high-speeds, while some trim elements – like the exterior mirror and antenna – are now finished in black.<p><p>Under the sheet metal, there’s Bilstein STI sport-tuned suspension, with special Bilstein dampers used for the inverted-strut front suspension and double wishbone rear suspension. Subaru has tweaked the Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), too. Shared with all 2018 WRX STI cars will be Active Torque Vectoring and new Brembo brakes with stronger mono block 6-piston calipers at the front, together with monoblock 2-piston calipers at the rear.<p><p><p>There are also larger, cross-drilled rotors that Subaru says will improve cooling efficiency, plus new brake pads with larger surface area. The old Driver Controlled Center Differential All-Wheel Drive system now uses electronic control rather than a combination of mechanical and electronic center limited slip differential control.<p><p>Inside, there are Recaro seats as standard, with STI logos and red bolsters and trim. The steering wheel gets wrapped in Ultrasuede, while standard equipment includes Subaru’s 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, push-button start and keyless entry, and SiriusXM.<p><p><p><p><p><p><p>As for the 2018 BRZ tS, it also looks to cutting weight to improve performance. No engine upgrades, but there are now STI-tuned front and rear SACHS dampers and coil springs, while the engine compartment gets an STI flexible V-brace. New draw stiffeners should improve steering response, too.<p><p><a href="https://www.slashgear.com/subaru-wrx-sti-type-ra-and-brz-ts-are-2018s-hot-blue-hellions-15511900/" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.slashgear.com/subaru-wrx-sti-type-ra-and-brz-ts-are-2018s-hot-blue-hellions-15511900/ Comcast says it loves net neutrality, hugs it to death https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/13/16774212/comcast-says-it-loves-net-neutrality-hugs-it-to-death/ The FCC is racing to a vote tomorrow to reverse net neutrality, and the ISPs are thrilled. That includes Comcast, which continues to pretend like it loves net neutrality while at the same time arguing that the only rules currently making it a reality ought to be killed.<p><p>In a post published today, Comcast EVP David Cohen promised that his company would not block, throttle, or discriminate against “lawful content.” That makes sense, since the company is bound to observe those rules by virtue of a separate consent decree it entered when buying NBCUniversal. So Comcast will fulfill those promises when net neutrality regulations end — at least until next year when that consent decree expires.<p><p>Comcast’s real problem is that its position on net neutrality is contradictory.<p><p>This is not the end of net neutrality. Despite repeated distortions and biased information, as well as misguided, inaccurate attacks from detractors, our Internet service is not going to change. Comcast customers will continue to enjoy all of the benefits of an open Internet today, tomorrow, and in the future. Period.<p>Let’s assume Comcast is telling the truth, and that it really will police its own behavior and abide by net neutrality principles. Why, then, if this commitment to net neutrality is so genuine, is there any need to kill the existing regulations?<p><p>Comcast’s dual position here is even more suspicious when looking at the company’s example of alleged regulatory harm. Cohen’s example of “innovation” that was stunted by net neutrality rules is a scheme in which Comcast planned to deliver internet TV that didn’t count against customers’ data caps — meaning competitors like Netflix and Hulu would be at a disadvantage to Comcast’s own offering. Comcast justified this by arguing that the service traveled over its managed IP network instead of the public internet. ISPs want net neutrality rules to disappear so they can avoid being scrutinized for these edge cases.<p><p>Claiming to support something it actually opposes is part of Comcast’s playbook. When it tried to acquire Time Warner Cable, it argued it was doing so to promote competition. But if Comcast actually wanted to compete, it would have just entered Time Warner Cable’s markets instead of trying to buy it.<p><p>It’s possible that Comcast will voluntarily extend net neutrality protections beyond a legal mandate to do so. But if that intention is true, it simply makes no sense to endorse repealing legally-enforceable net neutrality rules.<p><p>Disclosure: Comcast Ventures is a minority investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company. Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/13/16774212/comcast-says-it-loves-net-neutrality-hugs-it-to-death What Is Litecoin, and Why Is It Beating Bitcoin This Year? http://fortune.com/2017/12/12/litecoin-bitcoin-price-2018// With digital currency Bitcoin taking the spotlight in 2017, it’s hard to remember the other cryptocurrencies that have been growing in its shadow.<p><p>An increasingly-prominent example: Litecoin. The fourth largest digital currency by market capitalization has gone positively vertical this year, with Litecoin prices breaching $320 for the first time Tuesday. Since the start of 2017, Litecoin has risen 7,291% against bitcoin’s 1,731%.<p><p>So why the rise? There doesn’t seem to be a single event—though the recent surge in interest surrounding cryptocurrencies may have pushed some investors into becoming more adventurous. Some investors may also think the price of bitcoin is overdone—and are seeking other investment opportunities. Meanwhile, Litecoin only became somewhat easier to purchase earlier this year, with Coinbase adding the cryptocurrency to its listing.<p><p>What is Litecoin?<p><p>One of the several clone cryptocurrencies that stemmed from Bitcoin, Litecoin “forked” off the Bitcoin ledger in late 2011. It was intended to be the silver to Bitcoin’s gold: a faster, more lightweight version of the Satoshi Nakamoto-created cryptocurrency. Instead of the approximately 10 minutes it takes for a Bitcoin transaction, a Litecoin transaction only takes 2.5 minutes.<p><p>While making transactions four times faster, Litecoin’s creator also Charlie Lee quadrupled the maximum number of coins that can be mined. While bitcoin has a total of 21 million, Litecoin totals 84 million. And the total market value of Litecoin is currently lower: $18 billion to Bitcoin’s $291 billion. It is the fourth largest cryptocurrency market behind Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin cash.<p><p>The higher number of Litecoins, meanwhile, could make it psychologically more attractive to buy small-ticket items using the cryptocurrency.<p><p>“The vision is always I wanted Litecoin to complement bitcoin—not compete,” Lee said at a March Coinbase talk. “Bitcoin can be used for like moving millions of dollars between banks, buying houses, buying cars. It’s really secure… Litecoin can be used for cheaper things.”<p><p>Still, Lee has kept Litecoin simple and similar in technical ways to Bitcoin so that the cryptocurrency could “merge in” Bitcoin bug fixes with minimal effort.<p><p><a href="http://fortune.com/2017/12/12/litecoin-bitcoin-price-2018/" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT http://fortune.com/2017/12/12/litecoin-bitcoin-price-2018/ Apple to Invest $390 Million in Finisar, US Maker of iPhone X TrueDepth Camera Lasers https://www.macrumors.com/2017/12/13/apple-390-million-investment-in-finisar-us-maker// Apple announced on Wednesday its plans to invest $390 million in Finisar Corp, which supplies components for the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSEL) found in the iPhone X True Depth camera. <p><p>The investment will be used to build a plant in Texas to make more of the chips, and will be financed by Apple's $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which the company created earlier this year to foster innovation and create jobs in the U.S. <p><p><p>"VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we've ever developed and we're thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable," said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer. "Technology is only as good as the people behind it, and Finisar is a company with a long history of putting its employees first and supporting the community it's a part of. We're extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse."<p>According to Apple's statement, the award will enable Finisar to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of VCSELs, which power some of the iPhone's X flagship features, such Face ID, Animoji and Portrait mode selfies, as well as the proximity-sensing capabilities of AirPods. <p>"We're excited to continue our innovation with Apple of a technology that has tremendous potential," said Jerry S. Rawls, CEO of Finisar. "When you combine our proven ability to consistently manufacture exceptional products with our new state-of-the-art Sherman facility, we're confident we can achieve our shared goal of providing consumers with incredibly exciting features. Finisar has always been keenly aware it takes great people to power our work and that's why we're thrilled to be adding Sherman to our family."<p>Several reports in the months running up to the launch of the iPhone X suggested Apple initially struggled to ensure the TrueDepth camera's components could be produced in large enough quantities to meet demand. The delicacy involved in producing the VCSEL lasers was said to be one of the reasons behind the supply constraints, so today's news should ensure future production can be ramped up more easily if and when required. <p><p><a href="https://www.macrumors.com/2017/12/13/apple-390-million-investment-in-finisar-us-maker/" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.macrumors.com/2017/12/13/apple-390-million-investment-in-finisar-us-maker/ Samsung updates its Notebook 9 ultrabooks with even bigger batteries https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/12/13/16771242/samsung-notebook-9-notebook-9-pen-specs-release-date/ Samsung refreshed its Notebook 9 series of laptops earlier this year, and the company is getting ready to do the same for 2018. Samsung is unveiling three new models today, instead of waiting for CES next month where we typically see a number of new laptops. The first is Samsung’s Notebook 9 Pen, and perhaps the most interesting of the trio. It’s a 13.3-inch 2-in-1 notebook, and as the name suggests the Notebook 9 Pen includes an integrated S Pen, much like the Notebook 9 Pro introduced in May.<p><p>Samsung is updating the Notebook 9 Pen to include Intel’s 8th-generation Core i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. The display resolution is 1920 x 1080, with a disappointing lack of a higher resolution option. Much like Lenovo’s Yoga tablets, Samsung’s Notebook 9 Pen will flip around into various modes for tablet or drawing use. Samsung has squeezed in a HDMI port, a single USB-C port, and a regular USB port, alongside microSD storage and a Windows Hello camera to sign into Windows 10 with just your face.<p><p><p>Samsung is also refreshing its regular Notebook 9 models, with 13.3-inch and 15-inch updates. Both will ship with Intel’s 8th-generation Core i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of SSD storage. The 15-inch model will also include an optional Nvidia’s MX150 discrete graphics chip, but both models will only feature 1920 x 1080 panels. Samsung is equipping each variant with two USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI port, microSD storage, and a single USB-C port. The 15-inch USB-C port will support Thunderbolt 3, and there’s also an additional USB 2.0 port on the larger model.<p><p>Interestingly, Samsung is using the “largest and most powerful” battery its ever placed in a laptop in both models. The 75W Hexacell battery should include a battery life boost, but the company is only committing to a vague “always-on power,” with fast charging support for when you need to top the battery up. Both the Samsung Notebook 9 Pen and Notebook 9 will be available in the US in early 2018, and we’re expecting to get a closer look at them at CES next month. Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/12/13/16771242/samsung-notebook-9-notebook-9-pen-specs-release-date Ghost Recon Wildlands Is Getting The Predator For A Few Weeks https://kotaku.com/ghost-recon-wildlands-is-getting-the-predator-for-a-few-1821264551/ Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is getting invaded by Hollywood’s decades-old slayer of Aliens, Predator, starting tomorrow, December 14, and running through the beginning of January. And you thought the politics of the game were complicated already.<p><p><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=14661&tipo=9&vv=JqPnApRn4dw" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe><p><p>The alien hunter will be part of a special challenge where players, either alone or as groups of up to four, will have to survive the onslaught and eventually take down the Predator. According to a post over at Ubisoft’s blog players who succeed will not only get to gloat about having defeated the god-damn Predator but will also get the movie alien’s iconic mask and corresponding heat vision. It’s green and looks more like a hockey mask than an artifact from another planet but at least it comes with dreads.<p><p>For anyone who doesn’t remember or is too young and missed the magic that was John McTiernan’s Predator, the movie is about some ex-military dudes who get played by the deep state and end up fighting for their lives in the made-up jungle of Val Verde as an alien tries to skin them alive during his intergalactic vacation. In many ways then it’s a natural fit for a crossover event with Ubisoft’s Bolivia-based tactical shooter.<p><p><a href="https://kotaku.com/ghost-recon-wildlands-is-getting-the-predator-for-a-few-1821264551" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://kotaku.com/ghost-recon-wildlands-is-getting-the-predator-for-a-few-1821264551 How T-Mobile Plans to Replace Your Cable TV Provider http://fortune.com/2017/12/13/t-mobile-cable-tv-attack// T-Mobile has spent the past four years attacking wireless industry rivals to great success. But the wireless industry isn’t growing as fast as it once was, so the carrier has focused on an entirely new market: the $100 billion cable and satellite TV business.<p><p>The public kickoff of the effort came on Wednesday when T-Mobile announced it was acquiring a startup TV service in Denver called Layer3 TV. The carrier plans to use some of Layer3’s technology and relationships with TV programmers to launch its own nationwide cable competitor next year. Taking on the entrenched cable monopolies won’t be easy, but no one should underestimate the carrier and its CEO John Legere considering their prior success in wireless. The cable market “looks a lot wireless from a few years ago,” Legere said on Wednesday. Here’s what we know so far:<p><p>What will the new TV service look like?<p><p>T-Mobile hasn’t announced exact details about what will be included in its TV service or how much it will charge, but it has given some general outlines. The new service will be a hybrid between a traditional cable TV subscription from Comcast (CMCSA, +0.00%) or Charter (CHTR, +0.00%) and Internet-based services like Dish Network’s (DISH, +0.00%) Sling TV, or Google’s (GOOGL, +0.00%) YouTube TV. T-Mobile says it wants to offer something like Layer3 TV’s current 256 channel service, and not a so-called skinny bundle that features fewer channels like plans from the Internet players. T-Mobile’s service will also integrate popular Internet streaming services like Netflix (NFLX, +0.00%) and Hulu. T-Mobile (TMUS, +0.00%) also plans to offer multiple options to add channels, instead of just one or two packages. But just like the streaming services, T-Mobile’s will also be delivered online, not through dedicated cable wires.<p><p><a href="http://fortune.com/2017/12/13/t-mobile-cable-tv-attack/" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT http://fortune.com/2017/12/13/t-mobile-cable-tv-attack/ Microsoft is making subreddits more searchable with Bing https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/13/16773822/microsoft-bing-reddit-search-engine-partnership-ama-subreddit-content/ Microsoft today announced a partnership with Reddit to surface the social news site’s content high up in Bing search results, so that searching for specific Reddit communities, pages, and info will spit back information gleaned from subreddits, AMAs, and other threads in a dedicated section. The news, part of a suite of new artificial intelligence-powered features underlying Bing’s search function, works by way of what Microsoft calls intelligent search. The company says intelligent search uses natural language processing to pair Reddit content with the appropriate search terms.<p><p>The Reddit integration works in three ways. First, by typing in the name of a subreddit on Bing, you’ll get a live snapchat of that subreddit’s top threads displayed in the search results with links to the individual pages. Bing will also include Reddit AMA questions and answers for a celebrity who’s done an AMA, with the content showing up on the person’s search card, which will be accessible just by searching that person’s name. The last feature the integration provides will let Bing populate Reddit answers to questions typed into search that are gleaned from popular subreddits like AskReddit. That way, typing a question into Bing with the word “reddit” tagged on the end will surface answers from within relevant on-site threads.<p><p>REDDIT HAS DESPERATELY NEEDED A GOOD WAY TO SEARCH ITS MOUNTAIN OF CONTENT<p>Reddit users have long clamored for a better way to search the site’s wealth of information, nearly all of which is user-generated and difficult to parse after it’s been organized by Reddit’s algorithms and largely replaced by a new wave of images, text posts, videos, and links. Working with Microsoft, and using the company’s sizable computing resources and AI prowess, is a solid way to make its site more searchable and to bring users back to old threads. Reddit says it will also start including upcoming AMAs in search results, something the site hopes will drive even more interest for its custom Q&A format.<p><p><a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/13/16773822/microsoft-bing-reddit-search-engine-partnership-ama-subreddit-content" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/13/16773822/microsoft-bing-reddit-search-engine-partnership-ama-subreddit-content Study: Fracking Can Stunt the Growth of Your Baby http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/12/study-fracking-can-stunt-the-growth-of-your-baby// The practice of drilling into the ground to release natural gas—known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking—first made national headlines in 2011 when drinking water taps in fracking towns in Pennsylvania began catching fire because flammable methane was seeping into water supplies. <p><p>Since then, fracking has been linked to earthquakes in Oklahoma and a myriad of health issues. Proponents of fracking say the practice has reduced energy costs and has created thousands of jobs. But environmental groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, say that for people living near sites, fracking can have severe health affects such as respiratory illnesses and cancer.<p><p>A new study from the journal Science Advances found that infants born to women living near fracking sites in Pennsylvania were especially vulnerable to adverse health outcomes. “As local and state policymakers decide whether to allow hydraulic fracturing in their communities, it is crucial that they carefully examine the costs and benefits,” said Michael Greenstone, a co-author of the study and the director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago in a press release. “This study provides the strongest large-scale evidence of a link between the pollution that stems from hydraulic fracturing activities and…the health of babies.”<p><p>The researchers analyzed vital statistics of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2013. They studied infants born to women living 1 kilometer, or slightly over half a mile away from fracking sites, as well as women living within 3 kilometers, or less than 2 miles, and women living between 3 to 15 kilometers, or less than 2 miles to 9 miles away. <p><p>They found that fracking reduces the health of infants born to mothers living within 3 kilometers from a fracking site. But for mothers living within 1 kilometer, the affects were acute. The probability of low infant birth weight, meaning the infant weighs less than 5.5 pounds, increased to 25 percent. <p><p>Studies show that low birth weight can lead to infant mortality, asthma, lower test scores while school-age, and lower earnings as adults. The study also found that mothers whose babies may have been exposed to nearby fracking sites tend to be younger, less educated, and less likely to be married—factors that can also lead to poor infant health.<p><p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/12/study-fracking-can-stunt-the-growth-of-your-baby/" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/12/study-fracking-can-stunt-the-growth-of-your-baby/ 11 Star Wars Prequel Ideas Abandoned by George Lucas http://www.vulture.com/2017/12/11-star-wars-prequel-ideas-abandoned-by-george-lucas.html/ In the lead-up to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we look back at the first Jedi (narratively speaking) with a series of stories about the much-beloved and never-disparaged prequel trilogy.<p><p>Aside from the Star Wars Holiday Special, the prequels are easily the wildest installments in the Star Wars franchise. But they were almost even wilder: As is probably unsurprising, given just how sprawling the far, far away galaxy is, there were a lot of ideas that (for better or worse) didn’t make it into the final cut. Compiled here for your perusing pleasure are 11 of those scrapped plans:<p><p>1. “I am your father,” is now an indelible part of pop culture, and the prequels almost had their own equivalent. As per How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise, though Anakin was a virgin birth, it was supposed to have been revealed that Emperor Palpatine manipulated his birth by using the Force. “I used the power of the Force to will the midi-chlorians to start the cell divisions that created you,” the book quotes him saying. “You might say I’m your father.”<p><p>2. Speaking of familial relations, George Lucas had ambitions of revealing Anakin and Boba Fett as biological brothers. Eventually, however, he abandoned the idea on the grounds that it felt a little too contrived.<p><p>3. Still, Boba Fett appears as a young boy in Attack of the Clones, and was originally also slated to appear in Revenge of the Sith. Though Lucas promised publicly that we’d see Fett again, if you’ve seen the movies, you know that didn’t happen. Early concept art for the third prequel includes the teenage Boba Fett, but he was ultimately cut in order to narrow down the scope of the film. If he had remained in the movie, he was intended to have joined with the Separatists under Count Dooku, and tracked down Mace Windu to avenge the death of his father.<p><p><a href="http://www.vulture.com/2017/12/11-star-wars-prequel-ideas-abandoned-by-george-lucas.html" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT http://www.vulture.com/2017/12/11-star-wars-prequel-ideas-abandoned-by-george-lucas.html Warmer Arctic temperatures are the 'new normal,' report finds http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/13/world/arctic-report-climate-change-intl/index.html/ Arctic temperatures are continuing to rise while sea ice declines, a new report has found, with the region showing no sign of returning to its "reliably frozen" state.<p><p>The report, sponsored by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows that in 2017 a warming trend in the Arctic continued, resulting in higher surface and water temperatures and melting sea ice.<p>Some 85 researchers from a dozen countries contributed to the Arctic Report Card, now in its 12th year.<p>Global warning: Arctic melt<p>Global warning: Arctic melt<p>"While 2017 saw fewer records shattered than in 2016, the Arctic shows no sign of returning to the reliably frozen region it was decades ago. Arctic temperatures continue to increase at double the rate of the global temperature increase," a NOAA news release on the report said.<p>The report card indicates that this may be the "new normal" for the region.<p>Historical data show the current observed rate of sea ice decline and warming temperatures are higher than at any other time in at least the past 1,500 years and likely much longer.<p>Global warning: Greenland's melting glaciers<p>"The rapid and dramatic changes we continue to see in the Arctic present major challenges and opportunities," said retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, the acting NOAA administrator.<p>"This year's Arctic Report Card is a powerful argument for why we need long-term sustained Arctic observations to support the decisions that we will need to make to improve the economic well-being for Arctic communities, national security, environmental health and food security."<p><p><a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/13/world/arctic-report-climate-change-intl/index.html" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/13/world/arctic-report-climate-change-intl/index.html If Disney buys Fox assets, your TV, movie and sports watching could change https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/12/13/if-disney-buys-fox-assets-your-tv-movie-and-sports-watching-could-change/940970001// Playing soon: A deal between two U.S. entertainment icons that could change what sports you watch at home and even what superheroes battle it out on the big screen. <p><p><p><p>Walt Disney Co. (DIS) is expected to be the acquirer of 21st Century Fox (FOX) assets put up for sale by Fox's Murdoch family as it streamlines Fox's holdings and focuses on the news business.<p><p><p><p><iframe title="USATODAY- Embed Player" width="320" height="180" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="true" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="https://uw-media.usatoday.com/video/embed/108288470?placement=embed"></iframe><p><p><p><p>The asset sale, which may be worth up to $60 billion in a deal CNBC says could come Thursday, would shift some Fox television- and movie-making studios to the acquirer as well as rights to some characters from the Marvel comic book universe that Fox now holds.<p><p><p><p>Such a deal would bulk up the kinds of shows Disney can provide viewers over one of its forthcoming streaming networks, essential as Disney gets ready to yank its shows off Netflix in 2019. It could give Disney a bigger stake in television-streaming service Hulu, and give it part-ownership of an international network to distribute movies like "Beauty and the Beast."<p><p><p><p>And it could make it easier for subscribers to the soon-to-be launched streaming service of ESPN, the sports network owned by Disney, to watch local sports. Part of the asset sale may include Fox Sports' vast regional networks. <p><p><p><p>Here's a breakdown of how the blockbuster deal might shake out whether you're a sports, comic-book hero or movie fan — or all three. <p> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/12/13/if-disney-buys-fox-assets-your-tv-movie-and-sports-watching-could-change/940970001/ 3 Potential Reasons Tesla's Stock Is Rallying in December https://www.thestreet.com/story/14418562/1/why-tesla-shares-are-rallying-in-december.html/ Tesla Inc. (TSLA - Get Report) shares have done a bit of a U-turn recently. <p><p>After dropping over 20% from mid-September to early November and going sideways for about a month afterwards, Tesla has risen over 10% since Dec. 5. Over the same time, Nasdaq has risen a little over 1%.<p><p>What's driving the rebound? A few factors seem to be at work.<p><p>1. Model 3 production might be improving.<p><p>Tesla is five weeks removed from pushing out a goal of producing 5,000 units of its Model 3 sedan per week from the end of Q4 to "late Q1," as well as failing to reiterate a target of hitting a 10,000-unit weekly production rate by late 2018. At the time, Elon Musk blamed battery module assembly issues that in turn he partly blamed on a subcontractor.<p><p>It's still far from clear whether Tesla, which delivered just 220 Model 3 units in the third quarter, will reach its Q1 production target. But observers have recently spotted large Model 3 batches at Tesla's Los Angeles and Fremont, Calif. delivery centers, raising hopes that output is growing.<p><p>Also: Higher VINs (vehicle registration numbers) have been reported for Model 3 units seen at delivery centers, with one visitor reporting a VIN number of 2556. A scatterplot of reported VIN numbers indicates none above 1,200 were seen prior to December. Though Tesla cautions VINs aren't issued by the NHTSA in the order that a car rolls off a production line, the spotting of a number more than twice as high as any seen before December is an encouraging sign.<p><p>Tesla still has a very long ways to go before it can fill a Model 3 net reservation backlog that stood at 455,000 as of late July, and has continued to grow since. But since Model 3 production worries were the biggest reason Tesla's shares were pressured for much of this fall, any positive news on this front will naturally be well-received.<p><p><a href="https://www.thestreet.com/story/14418562/1/why-tesla-shares-are-rallying-in-december.html" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.thestreet.com/story/14418562/1/why-tesla-shares-are-rallying-in-december.html Overwatch Xmas Update Adds New Skins, Mode As Winter Wonderland Event Goes Live https://www.gamespot.com/articles/overwatch-xmas-update-adds-new-skins-mode-as-winte/1100-6455589// Blizzard has kicked off Overwatch's celebration of the holidays, bringing back the Winter Wonderland event from last year. This isn't a complete retread, however; while you're again able to access what was available last year, there are also new skins and a limited-time mode to check out, among other things.<p><p><iframe src="https://www.gamespot.com/videos/embed/6442266/" width="320" height="180" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p><p>As with any new Overwatch event, the skins are the big highlight. When Blizzard announced the event's return recently, it teased that Junkrat and Roadhog would be among those to get Legendary skins, while a "long-awaited Hanzo skin" from the comics would also be included. Others with newly added looks include Sombra and Ana. You can see all the new Overwatch Winter Wonderland skins in our gallery.<p><p>This update includes a new, winterized version of Black Forest, along with the returning, holiday-themed versions of King's Row and Hanamura. The Mei's Snowball Offensive Brawl also makes a comeback (and is now playable on the themed Black Forest map), while Blizzard has introduced another new brawl that the studio has compared to a boss fight. Mei's Yeti Hunt sees a team of five Meis compete against one player, who assumes the role of Winston with his Yeti skin. Things play out a lot like Evolve, where the Meis hunt down Winston, who roams the map to find power-ups. Once he collects enough, he enters Primal Rage mode, and the Meis have to flee to avoid being killed. Once enough Meis--or Winston--are killed, the game is over.<p><p><p>In a video, Jeff Kaplan explained that Blizzard wanted to try something "fun and different" with this mode. He said the point is "just to be fun and light and refreshing for a short period of time." As such, Yeti Hunt is not intended to be a perfectly balanced, highly competitive mode. You can queue up for this through standard matchmaking or join a match with five other friends, with the game cycling through who plays as the Yeti. When queuing normally, you can set your preference for Mei or Winston, though given the mode's nature, you won't always get to play on the side you selected.<p><p>Winter Wonderlands is available from now until January 1 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It includes all of last year's skins and content, and Blizzard has lowered their costs to make them easier to acquire. Legendary skins from 2016 drop to 1000 credits, Epic to 250, Rare to 75, and Common to 25. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.gamespot.com/articles/overwatch-xmas-update-adds-new-skins-mode-as-winte/1100-6455589/ 2018 Jeep Wrangler: the most capable off-road SUV just got even better https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2018-jeep-wrangler/preview// I just finished crawling up a steep rock hill in the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon during a Jeep-sponsored press event, and the spotter asked me to take a hard left, essentially planting the driver's side BF Goodrich KO2 tire directly on a near vertical rock. I expected to hear a scrape from the front bumper as I approached the rock, but this, my friends, is the new Rubicon. With an improved approach angle of 44 degrees, the Rubicon pushed itself up and over the rock with nary a scratch on the skid plate or a dent in the bumper.<p><p><iframe src="https://www.cnet.com/videos/share/2018-jeep-wrangler-makes-anyone-a-rock-crawling-star/" width="320" height="180" frameBorder="0" seamless="seamless" allowFullScreen></iframe><p><p>Full disclosure: I've always been a Jeep gal. My childhood memories are full of off-road trips in the family 1966 CJ5. But recently I spent a lot of time in the ChevroletColorado ZR2, and came to love the superior payload and towing capacity of a truck combined with the front and rear lockers. As soon as I sat behind the wheel of the new Jeep, all that nostalgia came flooding back, and all thoughts of practicality went out the window.<p><p><p>2018 Jeep Wrangler makes anyone a rock crawling star<p>6:17 <p><p>6:17<p>The Jeep Wrangler arguably has the best off-road capability of all SUVs currently on the market. The Wrangler 2-door model is available in Sport, Sport S and Rubicon trims. If you want a bit more room, Wrangler 4-door models are available in Sport, Sport S, Sahara and Rubicon trims. Four-wheel drive with a low range comes standard on all models, but the Rubicon goes a few steps further with locking front and rear differentials, disconnecting sway bars and other off-road goodies.<p><p>The proven 3.6-liter V6 engine is standard, although it now comes with idle stop technology for improved fuel economy. Last year's numbers of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 on the highway are up to 18/23 with the new eight-speed automatic and 17/23 in the new six-speed manual.<p><p>New this year is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, good for 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, mated to the new eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine features a new eTorque mild-hybrid technology with idle stop, fuel shut-off and regenerative braking. No word on EPA fuel ratings, but Jeep certainly seems to be paying attention to efficiency this time around.<p><p>Folks willing to wait until 2019 will be rewarded with a 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel, mated to the eight-speed automatic transmission. This is the powerplant I am most excited about thanks to the 260 horsepower and 442 pound/feet of torque. Jeeps are made for slow and steady rock climbing, not fast dune running like the Ford Raptor; it does just fine with horsepower in the mid-200s. The extra torque, however, is a boon and should help the Wrangler climb up and over obstacles even easier.<p><p><a href="https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2018-jeep-wrangler/preview/" target="_blank"><b>Re Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2018-jeep-wrangler/preview/ Ex-Facebook executive says social media are destroying society http://www.chron.com/business/technology/article/Ex-Facebook-executive-says-social-media-is-12425734.php/ A former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."<p><p>Chamath Palihapitiya began working for Facebook in 2007 and left in 2011 as its vice president for user growth. When he started, he said, there was not much thought given to the long-term negative consequences of developing such a platform.<p><p>"I think in the back, deep, deep recesses of our minds, we kind of knew something bad could happen," said Palihapitiya, 41. "But I think the way we defined it was not like this."<p><p>That changed as Facebook's popularity exploded, he said. To date, the social network has more than 2 billion monthly users around the world and continues to grow.<p><p>'No civil discourse'<p><p><p><p>MOST POPULAR<p><p>1 Houston start-up wants to be the 'Uber for private jets'<p><p>2 Breast-feeding Houston mom says she was kicked off Spirit...<p><p>3 Harris Health System Is a Beacon of Leadership in Health Care<p><p><p><p><a href="http://www.chron.com/business/technology/article/Ex-Facebook-executive-says-social-media-is-12425734.php" target="_blank"><b>Read full story</B></a> <p> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT http://www.chron.com/business/technology/article/Ex-Facebook-executive-says-social-media-is-12425734.php 2017 is the year people asked Google “how?” https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/13/16771108/google-year-in-trends-search-results-algorithm-how-to/ The top Google searches in 2017 were quite expected topics. The top three included Hurricane Irma, iPhone 8, and iPhone X. But this year’s results were also dominated by a number of “How to” queries. The top three were: how to make slime, how to make solar eclipse glasses, and how to buy Bitcoin.<p><p><p><p><iframe width="320" height="180" src="ver.cfm?id=14650&tipo=9&vv=vI4LHl4yFuo" frameBorder="0" scrolling="NO"></iframe></iframe><p><p><p><p>Apart from those, Google notes that the world also asked more consequential questions including: how much will the wall cost, how many refugees are there in the world, how do hurricanes form, how to freeze credit, and how to help Puerto Rico. As more people turn to Google to ask “How...?”, the accuracy of search results and Google's algorithmic rankings have reached a pivotal point.<p><p><p><p>IT’S MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER FOR GOOGLE TO MANAGE THE INTEGRITY OF ITS SEARCH RESULT RANKINGS<p><p>Our trust survey published in October found respondents trusted Google more than most other tech companies, at a time when the internet is rife with misleading information. But Google has promoted wildly inaccurate and offensive content this year, and displayed news results from malicious sources on numerous occasions, implicitly giving them authority. As we’ve previously pointed out, Google essentially holds a monopoly on truth because it’s by far the dominant search engine on the web. It’s more important than ever for Google to manage the integrity of its search result rankings.<p><p><p><p>Google’s Year in Search 2017 also reveals other top searches in categories including actors (Meghan Markle, Kevin Spacey, Gal Gadot), Global news (Hurricane Irma, Bitcoin, Las Vegas shooting), and movies (IT, Wonder Woman, Beauty and the Beast). The lists were compiled based on search terms that Google said “had a high spike in traffic in 2017 as compared to 2016.”<p> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:00:00 GMT https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/13/16771108/google-year-in-trends-search-results-algorithm-how-to