Tech News courtesy of Ars Technica
- Fix sexism in air conditioning, save the planet
- Homeland Security: hobbyist-sized drones are the latest terrorism threats
- Chimps don’t have same legal rights as humans, must remain in research lab
- Tracking Earth’s changing magnetic field using South African hut fires
- We’re hiring! Are you a grade-A gadget lover and tech reviewer in NYC?
- Xiaomi overtakes Apple as number one smartphone vendor in China
- The $18 million Dota 2 International 2015 marks the end of an era
- China worried that its new fancy drones may fall into wrong hands
- AT&T rolls out DirecTV strategy: More bundles and contracts
- Gears of War: Ultimate Edition really becomes ultimate with four free games
Designing an environmentally friendly building means taking into account the temperature that building occupants will want. If this estimate is incorrect, the occupants will spend their lives fiddling with the thermostat and opening the windows, lowering the energy efficiency of the building.
As you can imagine, to work out the right temperature for a building, we need to know what temperature will be comfortable for most people. This might sound easy, but currently we're getting it all wrong because, like so many things, we’re basing the "right" temperature on the assumption that all of humanity is an average-weight, middle-aged man.
A paper in today’s issue of the journal Nature Climate Change argues that the widely-used standard for calculating building temperatures is based on outdated assumptions about human metabolic rates. Improving our calculations would not only make the world a little less unfair, but it could also result in more energy-efficient building designs, the authors write.
The US Department of Homeland Security issued an intelligence assessment to law enforcement agencies Friday warning that recreational drones "could be used by adversaries" to attack the United States.
The intelligence assessment, obtained by CBS News, does not mention any known threats, but it comes amid regular reports of the small, remote-controlled drones having close calls with commercial flights and firefighting air tankers.
"The rising trend in UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) incidents within the National Airspace System will continue, as UAS gain wider appeal with recreational users and commercial applications," the report said.
Two chimpanzees will continue being held at a Long Island university research lab after a New York judge declined to grant them a writ of habeas corpus. New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe spun heads in April when she ordered litigation on whether Hercules and Leo had the right to challenge whether they were being unlawfully deprived of their liberty. The two were being held for locomotion research purposes at the state-run Stony Brook University in New York.
But in a ruling issued days ago, the judge said the writ of habeas corpus is reserved for humans and humans alone. Therefore, the male chimps won't be transferred to a Florida animal sanctuary called "Save the Chimps," as the Nonhuman Rights Project of Coral Springs, Florida demanded (PDF) on the chimps' behalf.
In a 33-page ruling, (PDF) Jaffe wrote that efforts to give animals the same rights as humans "may even succeed" some day but that courts "are slow to embrace change." For now, she concluded that animals, "including chimpanzees and other highly intelligent mammals, are considered property under the law. They are accorded no legal rights."
One “fun fact” that emerges from geology is that the magnetic North Pole hasn’t always been near the geographic North Pole—it also keeps a home near the geographic South Pole, which it occupies when the orientation of Earth's magnetic field flips. Although magnetic flips appear more or less randomly distributed through time, it’s tempting to think we’re overdue for a flip, given how long it has been since the last one (about 780,000 years). Add in observations showing that the North Pole has been wandering pretty rapidly as of late and that the overall strength of the field has been declining, and you might even get your hopes up.
The weakening of the field has been mainly due to action in the Southern Hemisphere. There’s a long-lived region of lower field intensity stretching from southern Africa to South America that has been getting even weaker. Models of the Earth’s magnetic field are a little fuzzy there because we don’t have many records of past behavior from that area. That makes it hard to know what to make of its current behavior.
John Tarduno of the University of Rochester and the University of KwaZulu-Natal led a team of researchers looking to fill in some of the historical gaps by building a record from southern Africa. They relied not on a geologic record, but on unintentional archives left behind by human communities. Centuries ago, the villages of people who farmed the area responded to droughts with ritual burnings of huts, grain bins, and animal enclosures. As the structures burned, the intense heat would essentially fire the clay floors like ceramic pottery (and in the case of the animal enclosures, bubbly glass). While still hot, magnetic minerals could align with the Earth’s magnetic field, only to be frozen in place as the material solidified. So each burned structure created a magnetic snapshot.
Friends! Arsians! Lend me your ears—and your résumés, because we are a-hiring!
Ars is looking to hire a tech reviewer and gadgetologist to join our butt-kicking gadget review team. Perks of the job include being able to argue about Android in-person with Ron Amadeo, hear wisdom from Andrew Cunningham's Reviews Cat, touch Peter Bright's glorious beard, and maybe even down some Soylent shots with me in a well-ventilated location. We need someone who's sharp, tech-savvy, personable, and who doesn't mind appearing on camera, since you're going to see a lot more video on Ars in the near future.
There are two catches: first, this is not an entry-level job. We need someone who's been in the reviewing game before, at least a bit, and we need to see some writing samples. Second: you have to be in the New York City area, no exceptions.
Two domestic smartphone makers in China have rocketed to the top of the country's sales charts, according to new industry analysis firm Canalys.
New quarterly estimates from March 2015 through June 2015 show that Xiaomi has the top spot at 15.9 percent of the Chinese market share, with Huawei nipping at its heels at 15.7 percent.
Apple, which had been number one for the past two quarters, has fallen to number three. Samsung and Vivo slide in at four and five, respectively. CNET notes that Canalys didn't offer Apple's current market share when announcing the new quarterly figures. A different analyst, Counterpoint Research, forecast market share numbers of 15.8 percent for Xiaomi, 15.4 percent for Huawei, and 12.2 percent for Apple.
Team Secret is a terrible name, and the Western super-squad of former champions and fan favorite players has been anything but clandestine in its bid to take The International 2015 Dota 2 (or "TI5" as it's known) championship by storm. After last year's event, the independent organization swallowed whole the best players in Europe and North America, and in the past two months the group has cut their way to first place in premier tournaments in the US, Europe, and China.
Team Secret is Manchester City and the New York Yankees rolled into one. So while it has not made the relatively new brand a great deal of friends, with a $18 million (and growing) prize pool on the line at this year's tournament, they have everything to gain.
This isn't a philosophy exclusive to Team Secret, but they do embody it well. The team is so fixated on The International to go so far as to drop from their last tournament entirely just to practice for the thing.
Starting August 15, China will restrict exports of some drones and supercomputers, according to Reuters.
Citing the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, apparently the Asian superpower is concerned that its rapidly developing technology could help benefit “illegal elements,” a possible reference to rebels in western China's Xinjiang province.
China has been known to sell its drones to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and other developing nations. Already, China’s DJI is the world’s largest consumer drone manufacturer—but these restrictions likely only affect larger military scale aircraft for now.
Now that AT&T has taken ownership of DirecTV, it has rolled out the first set of offers combining the two companies' products.
Boasting the "first-ever nationwide package of TV and wireless services—all from a single provider on one bill, with special discounts," AT&T announced an offer combining DirecTV's satellite TV with AT&T's cellular plans for families. This offer, available from August 10 until November 14, requires customers to sign a 24-month contract for the DirecTV part of the package. They'll pay $200 a month for "HD and DVR service for up to four TV receivers, unlimited talk and text for four wireless lines, and 10GB of shareable wireless data."
There's also an option to bundle AT&T's pre-existing U-Verse TV service with wireless for similar prices, available in the 21 states where AT&T already offered pay-TV. That one requires a 12-month contract.
If you browse for video games for either of the major current-gen consoles, your fingers won't get very far before they bump into a "remaster" of a game from the past decade. That specific field has become so crowded, in fact, that remaster games have now had to one-up each other just to stand out.
One way to do so is to slap a ton of additional content onto the disc, which Microsoft tried last year with the fumbled launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Well, the company is trying again—this time with Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. The new Xbox One game, set to hit stores on August 25, was originally going to launch as a top-to-bottom remaster of the 2006 Xbox 360 hit, complete with newer games' maneuvers and weapons slapped into both single and multiplayer modes.
Those upgrades will all still be there, but now Ultimate Edition buyers will get the added bonus of free access to all four original Xbox 360 Gears games, including the very one being remastered, Gears 2, Gears 3, and the Gears of War: Judgment spinoff. There are two catches worth noting: One, these are untouched 360 versions, meaning gamers will have to wait for the Xbox One's 360 backward compatibility to be launched "this fall" before those versions go live. And two, shoppers will need to buy and play the Ultimate Edition online by December 31, 2015 to gain digital access to the older games.