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If you can’t beat them… Lamborghini joins the SUV set

The SUV is now the dominant lifeform in the automotive world, and even Lamborghini is getting in on the action. "Why?," you ask. "You're Lamborghini, not Range Rover!" Before you throw darts, shame and shade on the idea of a Lamborghini SUV, understand that the company expects that. The reality that sports car purists lament—if there are any left—is that as a niche carmaker, Lamborghini must always be looking for viable new niches. And pref...
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Shell invests in Nashville solar firm, but it’s no less an oil company

On Monday, Royal Dutch Shell announced that it is going to acquire a 43.86-percent stake in a Nashville-based solar plant company called Silicon Ranch Corporation. The deal could cost up to $217 million, according to Reuters . The Netherlands-based oil and gas company is one of the biggest companies in the world, and, by its own account, it recorded revenue of $233.6 billion in 2016 and $4.8 billion in net income. The $217 million it has se...
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Review: Fallout: The Board Game

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com . Would you be surprised if I told you that the new Fallout board game from Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) was something special? You really shouldn't be, since FFG has a fantastic track record of nailing intellectual properties like Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and Doom. Fallout is the latest success here,...
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GM wants to ditch the manual controls from its test cars in 2019

General Motors is getting ready to ditch the driver for good—at least in its newest R&D vehicles. In 2019, Cruise—the self-driving startup acquired a couple of years ago by GM —wants to begin testing the fourth generation of its autonomous vehicle, the Cruise AV. (This is a modified Chevrolet Bolt EV, no relation to the Chevrolet Cruze.) The company has filed a safety petition with the US Department of Transportation requesting permissi...
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Prosecutors say Mac spyware stole millions of user images over 13 years

Early last year, a piece of Mac malware came to light that left researchers puzzled. They knew that malware dubbed Fruitfly captured screenshots and webcam images, and they knew it had been installed on hundreds of computers in the US and elsewhere , possibly for more than a decade. Still, the researchers didn't know who did it or why. An indictment filed Wednesday in federal court in Ohio may answer some of those questions. It alleges Frui...
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Iced tea company scraps plans to raise millions for blockchain pivot

Last month we covered the story of the Long Island Iced Tea Company rebranding itself as Long Blockchain as part of a broader shift in corporate strategy. The company's stock price tripled over night. On Friday, we got the first concrete details of the company's new blockchain strategy. Long Blockchain planned to raise up to $8.4 million with a stock offering and then use some of the money to buy 1,000 Antminer S9 bitcoin mining machines . ...
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Netatmo’s Smart Home Bot uses AI to let you text commands to your devices

While voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant are taking over the home, there are still some users who don't want to talk to their devices. The French company Netatmo, maker of a number of smart home products, wants users to text—not speak—to control their devices no matter where they are. At CES, Netatmo debuted its Smart Home Bot, a digital assistant of sorts that lives within Facebook Messenger that users can text com...
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Guess we should talk about Bright, now that it’s a freaking franchise

Shame about the crappy CGI work used to apply virtual graffiti to real walls. I'd love to see that "Be Yorcself" design look more realistic. Netflix More orcs-on-Earth tags from the opening credits. See? The elves live it up in Beverly Hills. (Or is it B-elf-erly Hills? Huh? Huh?) If you thought nothing in this world could make your head explode more than the orcs-as-juggalos weirdness of last month's Will Smith film Bright, its distributor...
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FCC releases final net neutrality repeal order, three weeks after vote

The Federal Communications Commission today released the final version of its net neutrality repeal order, three weeks after the December 14 vote to deregulate the broadband industry and eliminate the rules. You can read the entire order here , though it is similar to the draft  that has been available since November. Small edits aren't uncommon after FCC votes, and they don't require a second vote. The edits generally respond to concerns r...
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Meet “raw” water—ludicrously priced unfiltered water with random bacteria

Step aside, Juicero—and hold my “raw” water. Last year, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Doug Evans brought us the Juicero machine, a $400 gadget designed solely to squeeze eight ounces of liquid from proprietary bags of fruits and vegetables, which went for $5 to $8 apiece. Though the cold-pressed juice company initially wrung millions from investors, its profits ran dry last fall after journalists at Bloomberg revealed that the pricy pouch-pre...
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Inside Microsoft HQ’s weird, wonderful swag store

REDMOND, Wash.—Microsoft doesn't generally let its customers and fans show up and see where the Windows and Xbox sausage gets made. Should you wish to visit most of Microsoft's campus buildings a few miles east of Seattle, you'll need to arrange an official tour in advance, which typically requires being invited in a professional capacity. But one of the company's buildings has no such requirement: Building 92, which houses the company's of...
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The Woman Who Smashed Codes: Your new winter reading assignment

I’ve never read such a gripping book about spies that opens with the hopeful words: “This is a love story.” Over the course of its hundreds of pages, The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone is damned-near impossible to put down. The book has everything: thrills, chills, kills, love, crypto, and a hopeful sense that a nearly forgotten American genius, Elizebeth Smith Friedman , is finally being given her due. In the book’s opening pages,...
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“They call it swatting,” says grieving Wichita mother after son killed by police

A 28-year-old Wichita, Kansas man was killed last night by police who were responding to a tip falsely reporting a hostage situation at the man's house. And rumors are swirling in the Call of Duty community that the death was the result of a "swatting" attack gone horribly wrong. "I heard my son scream, I got up, and then I heard a shot," said Lisa Finch, the mother of shooting victim Andrew Finch, in a video interview with the Wichita Eagl...
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Hello Neighbor is among the worst games of 2017

Hello Neighbor won’t be the very last game I review this year. I can only pray that it will be the worst. As of now, the first-person stealth puzzler is the worst game I can remember covering in a long time. That’s a shame, because the premise is promising enough. It’s like a suburban take on Rear Window set in the world of Psychonauts’ Milkman Conspiracy . Empty, twisted cookie-cutter houses embody a cartoonish paranoia. The player charact...
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Rethinking how the US grows beef

How can we, as WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) individuals, mitigate our catastrophic effects on the environment? Pretty much all recommendations start with this:  eat less meat . Like the other top recommendations— drive less and fly less —this is not super appealing to most of us. But beef production in the US uses more land, water, and fertilizer than any other form of agriculture, no matter which way you ...
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Our favorite—and least favorite—tech of 2017

2017 is almost over. For most of us, there are reasons to be nostalgic and there are reasons to be glad we can just move on. That's how we feel about tech from this year, too. We've polled each member of the Ars Technica reviews team about their favorite and least favorite tech products of 2017. Each staffer has made their own selections and written their own explanations. We're taking a broad definition of tech product here. It's not all a...
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Here are the intriguing toxins that spice up our favorite holiday dishes

As the adage goes, the dose makes the poison. But the same can be said for our foods—a morbid morsel to chew on during your holiday noshing. While still safe to eat, our favorite dishes have a dark side—a striking amount are laced with toxic and deadly substances. In fact, we flirt with intriguingly dangerous ingredients not just during the holidays, but daily. Potentially poisonous substances arrive in our foods through contamination and h...
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This Game of Thrones climate model is what’s been missing from your life

A central conceit of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books (and the popular HBO series Game of Thrones based on them) is that the seasons of the planet where they take place are not as predictable as the Earth’s annual cycle. Somehow the phrase “winter is coming” wouldn’t seem as foreboding if you could reply, “Yes, that usually happens in December through February.” But how could a planet have unruly seasons? Earth’s seasons ar...
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Interstellar visitor might be a comet covered in carbonaceous crud

When the object 1I/2017 U1 ‘Oumuamua was first picked up by telescopes in October, there was no question that it was an odd duck—and that’s saying a lot considering that we recently explored a comet that looks like a duck . ‘Oumuamua seems to be a momentary visitor from another star system, punching through the plane of our Solar System from “above” like it hadn’t read our traffic signs. Oh, and it’s shaped like a cigar. The list doesn’t en...
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Hackers take control of security firm’s domain, steal secret data

A Dutch security firm recently fell victim to a well-executed attack that allowed hackers to take control of its servers and intercept clients' login credentials and confidential data. The security firm, Fox-IT, said in a blog post published last week that the so-called " man-in-the-middle attack " lasted for 10 hours and 24 minutes, although the attack was largely contained for much of that time. The attackers carried it out by gaining una...
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Photosynthesis before oxygen may have kept the early Earth warm

“The so-called ‘faint young Sun paradox’ has long been a topic of debate because its resolution bears important ramifications for the basic factors structuring climate regulation and the long-term habitability of Earth and Earth-like exoplanets.” So begins Chris Reinhard’s new paper in Nature. Reinhard is a Principal Investigator at the Alternative Earths Team of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute , which has a goal of “unraveling the evolving r...
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New letter: Top Uber officials engaged in illegal wiretapping, shady spycraft

View more stories The highly-anticipated demand letter written on behalf of a former Uber employee, which has become central to the unfolding drama that is the Waymo v. Uber trade secrets lawsuit, was publicly released on Friday afternoon. As previewed in earlier court hearings, the " Jacobs Letter " outlines in detailed terms the questionable and possibly illegal behavior that former Uber security official Richard Jacobs and his former col...
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Disney to buy part of 21st Century Fox for $52 billion

Disney announced today that it will acquire a huge portion of 21st Century Fox in an all-stock deal valued at $52.4 billion. As part of the deal, Disney will own 21st Century Fox's film and television studios, some of its cable networks, and international TV businesses, as well as popular titles including The Simpsons, X-Men, and Avatar. The deal represents a huge shift in content ownership in Hollywood, giving Disney even more titles, char...
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FDA is not cuckoo for Coco Loko, a chocolatey alternative to snorting cocaine

In July, US Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer held a press conference to denounce a chocolate-flavored energy powder meant for snorting, called Coco Loko. He dubbed it “ cocaine on training wheels ” and called on the Food and Drug Administration to investigate. The agency did, it turns out. And though regulators didn’t come up with a description quite as catchy as Schumer’s, their assessment of Coco Loko was even more damning. Regulato...
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SpaceX has a momentous launch this week

SpaceX will attempt to launch its 17th mission of 2017 on Tuesday, a cargo supply flight to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 11:46am ET, and weather conditions are expected to be near perfect, with a 90 percent chance of go conditions. This flight is notable for several reasons. Already this year SpaceX has re-flown one of its Falcon 9 rockets, and reused a Dragon spacecraft for a station supply mission. This missio...
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Top-selling handgun safe can be remotely opened in seconds—no PIN needed

One of Amazon's top-selling electronic gun safes contains a critical vulnerability that allows it to be opened by virtually anyone, even when they don't know the password. The Vaultek VT20i handgun safe, ranked fourth in Amazon's gun safes and cabinets category , allows owners to electronically open the door using a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app. The remote unlock feature is supposed to work only when someone knows the four- to eight-dig...
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Enter for a chance to win games, hardware, and more in the 2017 Ars Charity Drive

It's that special time of year when we give you a chance to do well by doing good. That's right—it's time for the 2017 edition of our annual Charity Drive. Since 2007 , we've been actively encouraging readers to give to Penny Arcade's Child's Play charity , which provides toys and games to kids being treated in hospitals around the world. In recent years, we've added the Electronic Frontier Foundation  to our annual charity push, aiding in ...
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Man gets gruesome fungal lesion after snipping pimple with dirty wood tools

A 23-year-old man in Chicago developed a rare, festering fungal lesion on his lower lip after he reportedly “snipped a pimple” with a woodworking blade. Doctors at the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County treated the man, who was an otherwise healthy construction worker. In a case report, recently published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine , the doctors described the lesion as a blood-crusted, warty plaque with a hardened boarder...
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Apple now offers unlocked iPhone X models in the US

Just over a month after the iPhone X debuted, Apple is now selling carrier-agnostic models of the iPhone X. US customers can place orders on Apple's website for SIM-free iPhone Xs, rather than ordering a device that's already married to a specific carrier. Previously, the iPhone X could only be purchased on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon networks, but the unlocked option allows users to insert any SIM card they want. The iPhone X su...
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Sonnen, Pura Energía build solar systems in Puerto Rico as utility woes continue

German battery company Sonnen and its Puerto Rican solar-installing partner, Pura Energía, announced that they've installed six solar-plus-storage systems around Puerto Rico, and have plans for nine more. The initial six systems were donated, according to a press release from Sonnen , though it's unclear whether the subsequent nine will be donated or funded by some other entity. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the isla...
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