News Hightech

NASA probe Juno captures Jupiter's poles in glorious detail

In August 2011 NASA sent a probe the size of a basketball court into space on a mission to observe Jupiter. Now, five years later, the $1 billion dollar probe has something to show for it's 415 million mile journey. Named Juno, the probe has managed...

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'Quake Champions' beta begins April 6th

If you're waiting with baited breath for the Quake Champions beta, then you'll soon be able to begin exhaling. The news is out that the game's closed beta will begin on Thursday, April 6th, with additional players being added to it over time. If you...

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Toyota is using AI to hunt for new battery materials

Toyota has turned to artificial intelligence for help in the hunt for new advanced battery materials and fuel cell catalysts. The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is investing $35 million into the project and is teaming up with various institutions an...

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Uber finally lets you adjust your pickup location

Lest we forget among all the corporate stupidity, Uber is actually popular for a reason: It's convenient, and taxi service often sucks. The ridesharing firm has just fixed one of the main bugaboos with its app, the fact that you can't modify your loc...

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Sway is a slick meditation app that makes sure you relax

Sway is a smartphone-based meditation (kind of) game, that comes from Ustwo, the company behind acclaimed mobile hit Monument Valley. No, this isn't a dreamily designed puzzler, but the same gentle aesthetics and attention to detail are definitely fo...

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NASA probe Juno captures Jupiter's poles in glorious detail

In August 2011 NASA sent a probe the size of a basketball court into space on a mission to observe Jupiter. Now, five years later, the $1 billion dollar probe has something to show for it's 415 million mile journey. Named Juno, the probe has managed...

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Video games

Tencent, Sony Lead Global Game Revenues In 2016

Market research firm Newzoo has compiled a list of the 25 companies who make the most money from games, and the results both what you expected and a bit surprising. Newzoo's ranking takes into account only game revenue, which removes hardware such as consoles and PC parts from the equation, but does include subscription fees, such as those from PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. The ranking is based companies' financial earnings reports from throughout 2016, though it uses the calendar year instead of the fiscal year (which ends next week as opposed to the actual end of the year). Additonally, as Newzoo states, "For companies that do not split out their game revenues, the analysis includes estimates, which may or may not be indicated explicitly." The top-earning companies under these stipulations are as follows: 1. Tencent2. Sony3. Activision Blizzard4. Microsoft5. Apple6. Electronic Arts7. NetEase8. Google9. Bandai Namco10. Nintendo11. Square Enix12. Warner Bros.13. Ubisoft14. Take-Two Interactive15. Nexon16. Mixi17. Konami18. GungHo Entertainment19. Disney20. DeNA21. Sega22. NCSoft23. Facebook24. Zynga25. Colopl It should be no surprise that Tencent leads the pack, since they own League of Legends developer Riot, as well as a number of other popular online games, including Crossfire and Clash Royale. Second and third place belong to Sony and Activision Blizzard, which makes sense, considering Sony's more global presence in games over Microsoft (especially in Japan) and Activision's conquering of several fronts with popular shooters and sports games. Nintendo doesn't fair as well, though 2016 admittedly was not a banner year for them, with the decline of the Wii U and the limited number of high-selling games on the 3DS. Some of the most surprising points are Take-Two's lower-than-expected ranking, considering the high popularity of Grand Theft Auto V and other games in its catalog. And while we may like to think of them as being removed from the game scene at this point, Konami is still making quite of a bit of revenue from its game division. [Source: Newzoo]   Our TakeThis is yet another reminder that games are a global phenomenon, because I haven't heard of a couple of names on this list, like Mixi, Colopl, or NetEase. Although I'm guessing that at some point, I've encountered or played something they're a part of. Let's see... nope, haven't played anything by NetEase. But they licence Blizzard games for use in China. That counts, right?

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What Potential Changes To Internet Privacy Laws Could Mean For You

Amidst news of online multiplayer games getting overhauls, new maps, and retail posters, something happened that could end up affecting anyone who regularly browses the web between Overwatch or Destiny matches. The United States Senate voted in favor of a resolution that, if the House of Representatives also votes in favor of it, could change how accessible your browsing data is to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and whether those companies would need your permission to sell sensitive information to advertisers. What happened? On March 23, 2017, the Senate voted 50-48 in favor of a resolution that would repeal a set of internet privacy rules that would have required ISPs like Comcast, Cox Communications, or CenturyLink to ask for users' consent before selling those users' browsing data to advertisers. The rules in question are not yet in place (they're scheduled to take effect on December 4, 2017), but the resolution would effectively kill internet privacy regulations before they've had a chance to take effect. The vote has to do with some recent changes to what the internet is in the eyes of the American government. In Februrary of 2015, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassified ISPs as "common carriers," which means they traffic in utilities. This effectively put the internet in the same category as telephones, water, gas, and other necessary components for living in terms of how it's regulated. This allowed the FCC to enforce net neutrality laws, which force all ISPs to provide access to all kinds of content on the internet equally. (In the past, ISPs would slow down users' traffic when visiting certain websites or sharing files to discourage them from engaging in these acts.) Classifying the internet as a utility also meant ISPs had to follow the privacy guidelines previously written for telephones (and which the FCC updated with language specific to the internet in October of last year). The resolution the Senate voted in favor of on Thursday would effectively roll back many of these changes, allowing ISPs to do whatever they want with their users' browsing data. The resolution is not yet in place, however; the House of Representatives should vote on the resolution next week. If they vote in favor of it, it will be sent to president Trump for approval. How likely is it that this resolution becomes law? The 50-48 vote in the Senate was mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats against. Republicans currently have a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives, making it likely the House will vote in favor of it. Trump appointed Ajit Pai, who has since come down hard against net neutrality laws, to lead the FCC, making it likely he will approve the bill should it reach his desk. What does this mean for me? Currently, ISPs can see what kinds of websites you visit (and, depending on the level of encryption of the website you visit, which pages you view on those websites). If you, say, like to browse Destiny fansites and subforums, they can use that to assume you're into Destiny. If they see you shopping for Xbox accessories, they can use that to assume you have (or will be getting) an Xbox. They can then use those two bits of info to surmise you play Destiny on the Xbox, or plan to soon. ISPs can then sell that information to advertisers the same way Google and Facebook do. Those advertisers can then serve up targeted ads, which you may be more likely to click on if they're based on something you're interested in. Right now, they can sell that information without you having a say, but the privacy rules which go into place later this year and which the resolution plans to repeal would force those ISPs to explicitly ask your permission for the right to sell that data. If the resolution passes, ISPs will be able to sell that information without your knowledge for the foreseeable future. What can I do about it? If you disagree with the resolution, you can contact your local representatives to inform them you don't want them to vote for the resolution. If the resolution does pass, there are ways you can browse the web more privately, but none of them are perfect. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can hide your information from your ISPs, but the VPN companies will see that information instead, and most require fees. Using proxy browsers like Tor obscures your browsing data to ISPs, but require more know-how than most users may be comfortable with. Most people browsing the internet, however, may end up not knowing anything happened in the first place, and will continue browsing the internet as they have before. However, for anyone who regularly uses the internet (as most people who play video games do), it will be important to know just how much of your browsing data and habits companies will have access to in the coming months and, possibly, years.

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7 Great Horror Settings We'd Like To See More Often

Time and time again, horror games go back to the same haunted mansions and grotesque hospitals, delivering subtle variations on locations we’ve seen since we first started playing survival-horror games. Changing these settings would give developers more opportunities to inject new life into their games, change stale enemy design, and explore new modes of environmental storytelling. Here are seven underused video game horror settings that would help freshen things up a bit. Cruise ShipWhen I saw the cruise ship setting in the first Resident Evil Revelations, I was struck at how clever it was as an environment, and surprised that I hadn’t seen it before. It’s isolated, and I found it unsettling to traverse a desolate structure meant to be full of people. Unlike a simple cargo ship or boat setting, a cruise liner offers a wide variety of environments that could be altered to fit a variety of art styles. The value of the setting is that the aesthetic fits multiple time periods or types of ships. In RE: Revelations, for example, the interiors are reminiscent of the ornate, antiquated designs of the original Spencer Mansion, an aesthetic that adds variety to the more industrial sections of the ship. However, in any other game, this art style could be altered to fit for Art Deco, cyberpunk, or even set in another time period. In addition to crew quarters, cargo areas, and below-deck areas, creators could play with entertainment venues like indoor pools, and ballrooms. A cruise liner is basically a giant water hotel, which provides greater freedom than some of the other entries on this list.  DaytimeAnother setting I saw first in Resident Evil, horror games set in broad daylight are few and far between. The harsh sunlight added tension to the opening chapters of Resident Evil 5, which was arguably the scariest part of the game. Sunlight can take away tension by allowing players to clearly see their environments. Some things are more terrifying when we can’t see them, and can be a disappointment when revealed. Unfortunately, a lot of modern horror designers subscribe to the notion that darkness itself is scary, and that darkness is absolutely necessary for an intense experience.  Darkness becomes a cheat for adding tension, but tension can be achieved in a multitude of ways outside of casting players into darkness and throwing them a pathetically battery-draining flashlight. Balancing ammo management with high-risk enemies, such as in The Last of Us, or forcing players to stay on their toes when surrounded as seen in Resident Evil 5, are just some of the many ways daylight has been used effectively, and we really ought to see it more often. New Time PeriodsIt’s hard to choose a single time period that should be better utilized when there are so many brimming with horror potential. Both psychological horror and more action-packed monster horror could benefit from time periods like the Stone Age, The Middle Ages, or the colonial U.S. Horror games have played with different time periods before, as seen in Fatal Frame and Clive Barker’s Undying, but rarely do they make good use of these settings. Games do a phenomenal job with world-building and environmental storytelling, so we could have some truly awesome moments based solely on a game’s setting, but we don’t.  Wielding a firearm in the 1700s for example would force players to take time and consider every shot before a long reload. Utilizing bows and arrows or melee weapons in the Stone Age would force players to get in close and be deliberate in their attacks. The right developer could work wonders on a setting out of time. ZooThe zoo setting offers a lot of thematic and environmental potential, but has rarely been used other than a few notable appearances in games like Manhunt and Resident Evil: Outbreak File #2. The animals are an exciting element to play with at the zoo. Outbreak File #2 made good use of animals, offering zombified versions of elephants and lions, yet animals could also be retooled to fit into psychological horror like Silent Hill. We’d like to see developers create otherworldly monstrosities based on animals like penguins, tigers, bears, and more. Even sci-fi settings like Dead Space could work in the zoo setting, revolving around synthetic animals, or play with holograms in a future without some forms of wildlife. Zoos provide other thematic elements that would allow developers to explore ideas about humanity and the nature of animal captivity. In the right hands, this could lead to some interesting narrative elements.   CampsiteThe campsite is a classic horror trope in cinema, but is an incredibly underutilized setting in video games. The most recent examples include the upcoming Friday the 13th game, and Until Dawn. However, campsites hold an incredible amount of potential, and should be getting a lot more love We’d like to see developers go beyond the simple Camp Crystal Lake stereotype. As Until Dawn showed adding something as small as snow into the mix adds a lot to the atmosphere. Seeking refuge in the forest or cabins from stalking killers or marauding creatures would lend itself to some interesting gameplay options, especially in the current era of first person, jump scare-centric horror I can practically see the successful Kickstarter for the ‘90s throwback horror game that takes advantage of this setting, most likely paying plenty of homage to The Evil Dead and Friday the 13th. Fixed camera angles and polygonal graphics included of course.  Trailer ParkThe trailer park is a setting filled with lots of potential for fun gameplay that could riff on established tropes of deep-fried horror in the vein of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Resident Evil 7. The environment itself offers the biggest appeal here, both through exploration and destruction. The setting would lend itself well to tense gameplay as players searched individual trailers for supplies while making sure they didn’t get cornered in a tight space. Developers would also have a lot of room for varied environmental storytelling, leaving players to interpret the stories behind previous inhabitants. Additionally, a more dilapidated, ramshackle take on the setting could offer some fun destruction, leaving players free to tear down trailers and alter their environments as seen in series like Dead Rising or Left 4 Dead. Enemy designs also offer a lot of potential. In addition to providing new spins on established tropes, like a zombie trucker for instance, a setting as campy as a trailer park could really go crazy with enemy designs based on swamp monsters, alien invaders, or mutant abominations. I might have just had an idea for a videogame. Office BuildingOffice Buildings have appeared in a few horror games, but given the versatility of the setting, it’s definitely one that we’d like to see more. It worked well for the creeping supernatural horror of F.E.A.R., and equally well from the psychological angle in Silent Hill 3. Still, there is still so much more to explore in a traditional office complex. Narratively, offices are a swell setting for stopgaps, offering labyrinthine cubicles and narrow hallways that make it more interesting to navigate from one objective to the next. Alternating between open floor space and tight spaces, an office’s corridors offer a lot of potential for tense gameplay in series like Resident Evil or even in a more futuristic setting like Dead Space. We’ll probably still have office buildings in the future. Trapping a group of coworkers inside a building and forcing them to work together against supernatural forces sounds like a great setup for a horror-focused narrative experience. Something similar to the recently released film The Belko Experiment could also be interesting, working as a brutal successor to games like Manhunt or Condemned: Criminal Origins. Horror games are an ever-evolving genre, and we hope to see that evolution involve some of these settings. For a look at some changes in difficulty that can make games better, you can head right here. We also have a list of our most anticipated horror games coming in 2017, which you can get a look at here.

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Justice League Film Trailer Reveals Heroes, Covers Faces

DC and Warner Bros.' attempts to create their own cinematic universe similar to Marvel's haven't quite landed as well as they would have liked, but you can't deny they make great trailers. The Batman vs. Superman trailer was pretty good. The Suicide Squad trailer was maybe the best part of the movie. The first official trailer for Justice League doesn't quite reach that high bar, but it does have some decent moments. For one, we get to see Ben Affleck's Batman play a little more coy this time, dropping two (two!) jokes in the trailer below. We also get to see The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, the latter of which has some retractable helmet action similar to a certain other machine-oriented hero from another cinematic universe. (Please visit the site to view this media)

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Multiplayer Brawler Lethal League Coming To Xbox One, PS4

Lethal League is a fun, four-person brawler that's sort of like a hyper-stylized version of air hockey, except the target is your opponent instead of a goal (and let's face it, your opponent is the target when you're playing air hockey, too). It's gotten a lot of positive buzz on PC through Steam (where it released back in 2014), but later this year, console players will be able to see what that buzz is all about. Lethal League will launch on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on May 10, featuring several stages, characters, and online multiplayer. You have really have to play Lethal League to understand why it's so fun, but if you want to do the next best thing, you can watch the latest trailer for the game below. (Please visit the site to view this media)

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Tencent, Sony Lead Global Game Revenues In 2016

Market research firm Newzoo has compiled a list of the 25 companies who make the most money from games, and the results both what you expected and a bit surprising. Newzoo's ranking takes into account only game revenue, which removes hardware such as consoles and PC parts from the equation, but does include subscription fees, such as those from PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. The ranking is based companies' financial earnings reports from throughout 2016, though it uses the calendar year instead of the fiscal year (which ends next week as opposed to the actual end of the year). Additonally, as Newzoo states, "For companies that do not split out their game revenues, the analysis includes estimates, which may or may not be indicated explicitly." The top-earning companies under these stipulations are as follows: 1. Tencent2. Sony3. Activision Blizzard4. Microsoft5. Apple6. Electronic Arts7. NetEase8. Google9. Bandai Namco10. Nintendo11. Square Enix12. Warner Bros.13. Ubisoft14. Take-Two Interactive15. Nexon16. Mixi17. Konami18. GungHo Entertainment19. Disney20. DeNA21. Sega22. NCSoft23. Facebook24. Zynga25. Colopl It should be no surprise that Tencent leads the pack, since they own League of Legends developer Riot, as well as a number of other popular online games, including Crossfire and Clash Royale. Second and third place belong to Sony and Activision Blizzard, which makes sense, considering Sony's more global presence in games over Microsoft (especially in Japan) and Activision's conquering of several fronts with popular shooters and sports games. Nintendo doesn't fair as well, though 2016 admittedly was not a banner year for them, with the decline of the Wii U and the limited number of high-selling games on the 3DS. Some of the most surprising points are Take-Two's lower-than-expected ranking, considering the high popularity of Grand Theft Auto V and other games in its catalog. And while we may like to think of them as being removed from the game scene at this point, Konami is still making quite of a bit of revenue from its game division. [Source: Newzoo]   Our TakeThis is yet another reminder that games are a global phenomenon, because I haven't heard of a couple of names on this list, like Mixi, Colopl, or NetEase. Although I'm guessing that at some point, I've encountered or played something they're a part of. Let's see... nope, haven't played anything by NetEase. But they licence Blizzard games for use in China. That counts, right?

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Sport


Automotive News

Surviving Blizzards in the Cadillac 2017 CT6 Sedan

Timing my Cadillac 2017 CT6 Sedan loan with a road trip from San Diego to Carson City, NV turned out to be the best decision I could have made.

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Diamonds are Now a Car's Best Friend Thanks to Rolls-Royce

It looks like Rolls-Royce took Rihanna's advice to "shine bright like diamond" literally. The British automakers have now developed a special brand of paint as an exterior finish on a custom Ghost. 

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Superior Luxury, Sport and Style with Land Rover at the Palm Beach Winter Equestrian Festival

Of the many endeavors supported by luxury automakers looking to align their brands with some form of gentlemanly sporting activity, the most authentic and effective is Land Rover&rsq

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Classic Cars & Southern Charm at the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance

Not so long ago there was simply nothing to compare with Pebble Beach when it came to luxe classic car events in the United States. Then along came Amelia Island in the 1990s. 

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Interview: What Drives Pirelli's CEO?

The Italian-born Chairman and CEO of Pirelli NAFTA, Pierluigi Dinelli, didn’t just race up the corporate ladder. It turns out he’s also got a need for speed in the driver’s seat of (naturally enough) exotic Italian autos. I witnessed

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Surviving Blizzards in the Cadillac 2017 CT6 Sedan

Timing my Cadillac 2017 CT6 Sedan loan with a road trip from San Diego to Carson City, NV turned out to be the best decision I could have made.

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Insurance


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