I wish I could say the first thing I noticed about Civilization VI was one of its many changes over the last game. I wish I immediately saw the deep "leader traits" that lend each civilization a distinct flavor and powers or the terrain-based city building that forced me to consider the whole hex-based world when planting my wonders, settlements, and the "districts" new to the sequel.
Really, though, the first thing I noticed were the terrifying faces of the civ leaders themselves. With their photorealistic hands, skin, and hair planted under bulbous, cartoonish heads, these new leaders are clearly meant to evoke Civilization Revolution. I actually recoiled during the opening animation when the first speaking character came on-screen. Gilgamesh's perfectly conditioned, uncannily human beard just doesn't work as intended under those massive, Pixar-like eyes.
Uncanny Valley leaders aside, the game itself seems pretty good after working through a single, 500-turn match on the standard difficulty. That game length is pretty rare for me in a Civ title; normally, I crank up the number of landmasses and set the total turns to the maximum allowed, the better to properly take my time grinding through the series' midgame.
The federal public defenders for Harold Martin, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing a large amount of highly classified data and documents, asked the judge to release their client on bail in a late Thursday evening court filing.
Earlier on Thursday, prosecutors told US Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner that Martin is a flight risk and should be kept in custody. In their own filing, the government argued that Martin, who held top-secret clearance while he was a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, is a flight risk. The feds noted that they would be seeking to prosecute him under the Espionage Act. (Martin was fired from his job and was stripped of his clearance once his criminal prosecution surfaced.)
In the three-page response, Martin’s lawyers, James Wyda and Deborah Boardman, argued that Martin “does not pose a serious risk of flight.” They note that in a slew of similar cases, including those that involved Gen. David Petraeus and former high-level NSA official Thomas Drake, the accused was not detained pending trial.
NASA's sharp-eyed Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found the site where Europe's Schiaparelli lander crashed into the red planet on Wednesday. The orbiting spacecraft's Context Camera compared images of the Meridiani Planum area near the equator; they were taken on May 29, 2016 and October 20, 2016. The camera found evidence of both the lander and its parachute.
In the image taken Thursday, a larger dark spot, estimated to measure about 15 by 40 meters, appears to show where the lander struck the surface and exposed darker ground below. Lending further credence to the likelihood of this being Schiaparelli's final resting place is that this site is located about 5.4km west of the center of the European Space Agency's intended landing target. The spacecraft's heat shield, jettisoned before landing, probably would not have made such a large impact. A smaller, bright spot near the lower edge of the enlarged image is likely the lander's parachute.
With the location of the crash landing now pinpointed, the NASA orbiter can aim its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (the most powerful camera ever sent beyond low-Earth orbit) to capture detailed images of the location. This could further help ESA understand the sequence of events that led to a loss of communication from the lander.
Shin Godzilla came out in the States last week under the name Godzilla Resurgence, and it's the strangest Godzilla movie in a very long time. Not since Godzilla vs. Hedorah (aka the Smog Monster) have we seen such a relentlessly and bizarrely political film in this franchise. What's more, we've never seen a complete reboot of the entire series from Toho studios. Yet here we have both, plus a Godzilla monster who is totally unlike its predecessors (it evolves like Pokémon!). The best part is that this new movie works, giving us a whole new perspective on the Big G, along with a whopping dose of Japanese anxiety about the country's relationship with the US.
Like any respectable Godzilla movie, Shin Godzilla is divided between insane kaiju destruction that gets progressively more spectacular, and mundane human drama as Japan tries to protect its cities. The premise is that nobody has ever encountered a giant monster before, so the government is absolutely flummoxed when broiling hot steam starts erupting from the ocean off the coast. At first, the Prime Minister and his top officials dismiss it as some kind of natural disaster. Once an enormous tentacle (actually, the Big G's tail) rises out of the water and starts waving around, however, Japan's calcified bureaucracy begins to crack. Citizens are posting pictures of the monster on social media, and a young cabinet secretary named Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa) is the only politician who is willing to stand up for the truth. There's a giant, unidentified biological organism on the prowl, and it's about to come ashore.
When Godzilla finally does hit the shoreline, there's a major shock in store for fans—the creature looks nothing like the terrifying toothface we have known. Instead it's a bloated, wiggly, bug-eyed beast who can't even walk upright. Sure, it's big enough to leave a considerable trail of destruction and radioactivity in its wake. But it looks almost like a joke version of the Big G, made even more unfamiliar by the use of CGI enhancements. What doesn't feel like a joke are all the scenes of coastal destruction and death as the nuclear-powered kaiju worms its way through the urban landscape. These are deliberate evocations of the Fukushima disaster, echoing a long tradition in Godzilla films of recreating nuclear horrors and other disasters that Japan has endured.
Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains, we have a bunch of deals to start your weekend. Of note is a great deal on a panoramic monitor: now you can get a Dell 29-inch UltraSharp 2560 x 1080 panoramic monitor and a $100 Dell gift card for just $292. The monitor itself is regularly priced at $449, so you're getting a great discount plus a gift card for an incredible price.
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Somehow, after watching yesterday's three-minute teaser trailer for the newly renamed Nintendo Switch, we've been left with even more questions than we had when the system was still the completely mysterious "Project NX." The biggest of those questions—price, tech specs, battery life, specific launch date and titles, whether it has a touchscreen, etc.—will likely remain unanswered for quite a while (maybe even until next year).
That said, in the day since the Switch's coming-out party, a few tidbits of concrete information have dribbled out. Here's a quick round-up of what we now know:
(And while we wait for the system's official dimensions to be announced, don't forget to check out our visual analysis on the Switch's physical size)
These days, it seems like software patents are falling down right and left. Hundreds of them have been invalidated by US federal judges since the Supreme Court's 2014 Alice Corp v. CLS Bank. decision, and more patent-holders are getting sanctioned for their behavior in court. The economics of the patent-trolling business are changing in fundamental ways, and lawsuits are down.
It's tempting to think the whole mess is going to dry up and blow away—but the lawsuits coming from companies like Bartonfalls LLC show that some patent lawyers are going to keep on partying like it's 2009. Bartonfalls is a shell company formed in the patent hotspot of East Texas, and it sued 14 big media companies on October 11 over US Patent No. 7,917,922.
Bartonfalls is unusual in a couple ways. The company got a high-profile shout-out from a lawyer at The New York Times. The newspaper's associate general counsel, David McCraw, became a newsroom celebrity for a day when he wrote a sharply worded letter to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who threatened to sue the newspaper when it published a story about two women claiming they were sexually assaulted by Trump. McCraw's response letter explained that the paper was protected by the First Amendment and that if Trump believed "the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight."
Debian-LTS has updated bind9 (denial of service).
Fedora has updated libgit2 (F23: two vulnerabilities).
openSUSE has updated dbus-1 (13.2: code execution), ghostscript-library (42.1: three vulnerabilities, one from 2013), roundcubemail (42.1: two vulnerabilities), and squidGuard (42.1: cross-site scripting from 2015).
Ubuntu has updated bind9 (12.04: denial of service).
After 18 months of contract negotiations and over 12 months after first voting for strike authority, voice actors in the SAG-AFTRA union will stop working with a number of prominent game companies as of today. The strike is part of an attempt to negotiate a more favorable contract that gives voice actors residual payments on successful games.
As part of last-minute negotiations this week—overseen by a federal mediator—representatives from the affected game companies offered an immediate 9 percent increase in the prevailing wage offered under the contract, speeding up a previous offer of a 3 percent annual raise over three years. The companies also offered additional compensation for games that required multiple recording sessions. Combined, the companies say this would have amounted to a 23 percent or more wage increase for "typical" video game recording sessions.
The union didn't even put that proposed contract to a vote before going on strike at midnight Thursday night. In a statement, the union argued that increased upfront payments don't address their members' primary issue: continuing residuals:
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is known for cutting-edge engineers, and Lamborghini is known for super cars. Just this week, the two paired up to ponder the future of an ultra-light, strong, and innovative automotive brand.
On Wednesday at the EmTech conference at MIT in Boston, Lamborghini Chairman and CEO Stefano Domenicali sat down with leaders from the university, other Italian companies, and the Italian Trade Agency. He was there to talk about Lamborghini’s long-time work in the development of carbon-fiber technologies for automotive, consumer, and aerospace industries.
Update (12:04p ET): A second wave of DDoS attacks against Dyn is underway, as of noon Eastern Time today. Dyn is continuing to work on the issue. Our original story follows below; further updates will be added as information becomes available.
A distributed denial of service attack against Dyn, the dynamic DNS service, affected the availability of dozens of major websites and Internet services this morning, including Twitter and Reddit. The attack, which began this morning at 7:10am Eastern Time (12:10pm UK), is apparently focused on Dyn’s US East Coast name servers.
“This morning, Dyn received a global DDoS attack on our Managed DNS infrastructure in the east coast of the United States,” Doug Madory, Director of Internet Analysis at Dyn, said in an e-mail sent to Ars this morning. “DNS traffic resolved from east coast name server locations are experiencing a service interruption during this time.” By 9:20am ET this morning, Dyn had mitigated the attack and services returned to normal.
On its twentieth anniversary, the UK's Internet Watch Foundation—propped up by Microsoft's PhotoDNA tech—is urging Web companies to use its list of digital fingerprints to help prevent the upload, sharing, and storage of child abuse sex images online.
The IWF hash list of the underlying code associated with child abuse images was distributed to Google, Facebook, and Twitter in August 2015. It is compiled by analysts at the charity, who have the gruelling task of sifting through photos and videos showing children being sexually abused. Every eight minutes they identify a new webpage containing horrendous images.
To date, 125,583 hashes have be added to the list—more than 3,000 of which involved the abuse of babies and toddlers.
HP's Spectre x360 was one of our favorite laptops of the Broadwell generation. It was a thin, light, stylish ultrabook with solid battery life and a flippy hinge enabling it to be used as a (chunky) tablet or (more usefully) to hold the screen up in the kitchen or while watching movies on the plane.
The x360 received a minor refresh to upgrade to a Skylake processor, and this year HP added an optional OLED screen. Aside from these small changes, the Skylake model was little changed from its predecessor.
But now HP has a third revision, using Intel's new Kaby Lake processors. While Kaby Lake itself is not a major update on Skylake, HP has used the occasion of the processor upgrade to perform a more substantial overhaul of the Spectre x360.