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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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