F1 2018 is worth buying even if you own last year’s version

Enlarge (credit: Codemasters)

Reviewing the latest version of a yearly sports franchise game isn’t always something to look forward to. “It’s just like the Game Name 20xx you love, but now with one extra year on the date” can be hard to spin out into a full-length piece. Then again, persuading cynics like me to open our wallets again is probably an even tougher job from the developer’s side. I don’t envy the task in front of Lee Mather (the game director) and his team at Codemasters—luckily, F1 2018 is proof there’s genuinely a lot of thought going into that effort.

“It’s actually not the ideas that are the problem, it’s purely the time we have to create it,” explained Mather. “2015 was a tech establishing year [when the game moved to the new EGO engine]. The career added in 2016 was just the beginning, and we know where we

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1,160 miles in 11 days: A grand tour with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Enlarge / The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio on a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

In the time since I began reviewing cars for Ars Technica, my reviews have settled into a routine. A fresh vehicle pulls into the alley behind my house on Tuesday morning with a full tank of gas and a soft limit of 500 miles of driving. After familiarizing myself with the infotainment system, safety features, and the other peculiarities, I take each car for a 60+ mile drive. I include suburban neighborhoods, arterial streets, expressways, and winding country roads with actual hills and curves (a few of those actually exist around Chicagoland). Then for the rest of the week, I spend time doing the stuff I’d do with any other car: buying groceries, taking my son to rugby practice, driving to church… the usual stuff. It’s generally enough to

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The Ars Technica Back to School buying guide

Enlarge / A few gadgets we think will be appreciated this school year. (credit: Jeff Dunn)

College is a time for meeting new people, opening up your worldview, taking in new experiences, reading (please, for the love of God, read), and generally experiencing the last years of a life untainted by taxes and a daily job.

It is not a time to care about things—if I could just write “books” and leave this buying guide at that, I would. But a modern student requires a few equally modern gadgets to get through the school year, and there are certainly a few pieces of technology that can make their life on campus feel a little less overwhelming and a little more enjoyable.

So, as we’ve done a few times already this year, we’ve dug through our recent reviews to put together a list of preferred gadgets, this time aimed at

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The hottest new board games from Gen Con 2018

Late summer is the time for barbecues, concerts in the park, and (most importantly) making the trek to downtown Indianapolis to play tabletop games with 60,000 other board game fanatics for four days straight. Gen Con—the biggest tabletop gaming convention in North America—is now in its 51st year, and it’s not slowing down. According to the organizers, this year’s show was once again an attendance record-breaker.

We played a truly obscene amount of games to sort through the noise and bring you this big list of 20 top titles. These games should be available soon; check with your favorite local or online game store for when they’ll be getting them in. (And be sure to check out our Gen Con image gallery if you missed it earlier this week.) Of course, with more than 600 new games from 520 game companies and 17,000 ticketed events on offer, we weren’t able

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This isn’t a game: We try out a professional driver-in-the-loop simulator

Enlarge / Mazda racing driver Harry Tincknell in the Multimatic driver-in-the-loop simulator in Markham, Ontario. (credit: Al Arena/Ignite Media/Mazda)

Devotees of racing games love to throw shade at each other. Xbox versus Playstation, console versus PC, controller versus wheel; you name it, people will argue about it on the Internet. And one of the more common ways to denigrate an opponent in such an argument is to play the purity card. This inevitably involves some variation of “my game’s better than yours, because mine is a simulator, and yours is just an arcade game.” The implication is that you aren’t hardcore enough because you play something fun and accessible.

It’s not an argument I buy into, but it is one I’ve thought about through the years. If being a faithful simulation is the be-all and end-all of it, then how do consumer games compare to the real

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Galaxy Tab S4 review: Even Samsung’s Dex desktop can’t save Android tablets

Enlarge / Samsung Dex can be used with or without an external monitor. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

OEMs are trying to make tablets that can replace your laptop, but most of us know that tablets can’t really do such a thing for power users. However, these new devices try to balance portability and power, giving users a device that’s easier to take along yet can also get things done like a traditional PC. Samsung’s latest attempt at this type of device is the Galaxy Tab S4, the successor to last year’s flagship Android tablet. And this time around, the Tab S4 boasts Samsung’s desktop-mode software called Dex.

Samsung hopes that including Dex will encourage users to go all-in with Android as both their mobile and desktop operating system—at least when they’re on the go. But Android isn’t a desktop OS, and, while Samsung bills the Tab S4 as a multitasking powerhouse akin

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Don’t touch that link: Machine learning and the war on phishing

Enlarge / Coming to a device near you: Freddi Fish 666—the Phishing Apocalypse. (credit: collage by Sean Gallagher from urraheesh iStock & Humongous Entertainment)

It’s Friday, August 3, and I have hooked a live one. Using StreamingPhish, a tool that identifies potential phishing sites by mining data on newly registered certificates, I’ve spotted an Apple phishing site before it’s even ready for victims. Conveniently, the operator has even left a Web shell wide open for me to watch him at work.

The site’s fully qualified domain name is appleld.apple.0a2.com, and there’s another registered at the same domain—appleld.applle.0a2.com. As I download the phishing kit, I take a look at the site access logs from within the shell. Evidently, I’ve caught the site just a few hours after the certificate was registered.

As I poke around, I find other phishing sites on the same server

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3D-printed (and CNC-milled) guns: Nine questions you were too afraid to ask

Enlarge / Cody Wilson, owner of Defense Distributed company, holds a 3D-printed gun, called the “Liberator,” in his factory in Austin, Texas, on August 1, 2018. (credit: KELLY WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

By now, you’ve probably seen all the news regarding Defense Distributed, company founder Cody Wilson, and 3D-printed guns. As of last week, his story has showed up everywhere from The New York Times‘ podcast The Daily to Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Issues surrounding 3D-printing firearms and firearms parts have recently come up in the Senate and been addressed by White House officials.

For Ars readers, this may feel a bit like déjà vu. We’ve covered Wilson and his company at Ars for over five years now; we’ve met him in Texas and California.

But it’s easy to get lost in all of this new coverage of his saga, so we thought we’d try to help clarify

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WarioWare Gold: A fine example of Nintendo’s weird “end of life” history

Enlarge / It’s-a-he, Wario. (credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo’s WarioWare Gold launches this week, and if we’re judging the game within a vacuum, it’s pretty good. We’ve been micro-gaming with the WarioWare series for just a hair over 15 years (a squiggly, Wario mustache hair, for sure), and Gold lands as a “best-of” compilation—one that finally brings the franchise to the 3DS, no less.

But WWG is difficult to judge within a vacuum. The game’s release date puts it in a rarified air among first-party Nintendo games: it arrives within a system’s end-of-life window. In case you haven’t noticed, the 3DS side of Nintendo has been tumbleweed city these days.

Corporate promises of continued support and new, limited-edition 3DS systems don’t obscure what’s left for the beloved handheld: a Luigi’s Mansion port and Yokai Watch sequel by year’s end, then a Mario & Luigi RPG port in 2019. Them’s slim pickins. 

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“P is for Power”—Android engineers talk battery life improvements in Android P

Enlarge / This interview is all about battery life.

With the last version of the Android P Developer Preview released, we’re quickly heading towards the final build of another major Android version. And for Android P—aka version 9.0—battery life is a major focus. The Adaptive Battery feature will dole out background access to only the apps you use. A new auto brightness scheme has been devised. And the Android team has made changes to how background work runs on the CPU. All together, battery life should be batter (err, better) than ever.

To get a bit more detail about how all this works, we sat down with a pair of Android engineers: Benjamin Poiesz, Group Product Manager for the Android Framework, and Tim Murray, a Senior Staff Software Engineer for Android. And over the course of our second fireside Android chat, we learned a bit more about Android P

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How they did it (and will likely try again): GRU hackers vs. US elections

Enlarge / #Cyberz. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

In a press briefing just two weeks ago, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the grand jury assembled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller had returned an indictment against 12 officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff (better known as Glavnoye razvedyvatel’noye upravleniye, or GRU). The indictment was for conducting “active cyber operations with the intent of interfering in the 2016 presidential election.”

The filing [PDF] spells out the Justice Department’s first official, public accounting of the most high-profile information operations against the US presidential election to date. It provides details down to the names of those alleged to be behind the intrusions into the networks of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the theft of emails of members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign team, and various efforts

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Lenovo Smart Display review: The first introduction to Android Things

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

The first Android Things device is now available; Google is officially firing shots at Amazon’s Echo-everywhere mentality with Lenovo’s help. Lenovo’s Smart Display is much like Amazon’s Echo Show: a screen-toting smart speaker that carries not Alexa, but the Google Assistant. Like the Google Home and its Max and Mini cousins, this Smart Display (and similar forthcoming devices) are designed to enhance the Google Assistant experience with a screen that can show weather forecasts, recipe instructions, smart home controls, Duo video calls, and YouTube videos.

Android Things is Google’s Internet of Things initiative, basically a stripped down version of Android aimed at low-end hardware. Things’ two big points of emphasis seem to be improving IoT security through Google-led updates and allowing third parties to build smart devices that leverage Android APIs and Google Services… like Lenovo has done here with the Smart Display.

The screen is

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2018 15-inch MacBook Pro review: Better, faster, stronger, throttle-ier?

Enlarge / The 2018 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. (credit: Samuel Axon)

We’re well into an effort by Apple to win over pro Mac users who have been dissatisfied with recent design and technology choices. But even as many of those users have expressed frustration, MacBook Pro sales have been relatively strong.

Part of that disconnect comes down to parsing what Apple means when it adds the “Pro” label to a piece of hardware. Naturally, the term means different things to different people depending on what exactly they’re professionals at doing.

Then there’s the fact that the MacBook Pro has lived a double life not just as a pro workstation but as the high-end consumer Mac. Lots of people buy MacBook Pros who aren’t professionals—at least, not professionals at doing the sorts of things they might actually need a $3,000 computer for. These users buy it because it’s

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Risky Thailand cave rescue relied on talent, luck—and on sticking to the rules

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson)

Last week, the world was riveted by the successful rescue of a youth soccer team as they and their coach were pulled out of a flooded cave in Thailand. The team had been stranded on a narrow rock shelf in the dark for two weeks, the way out blocked by turbid stormwater. The rescue involved far more than a few divers putting on gear and heading into the cave—it required a tremendous amount of technical skill and posed extreme danger.

But why, exactly, was it so dangerous? And what would it feel like to dive in those kinds of conditions?

I’m a professional diver with 16 years of dive experience, including safety diving and cave diving, and I have trained numerous scuba instructors. I also work full-time in a safety diving role, so answering the first question from a technical perspective is easy enough.

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As the SpaceX steamroller surges, European rocket industry vows to resist

Enlarge / First hot firing of the P120C solid rocket motor that will be used by Europe’s new Vega-C and Ariane 6 rockets. (credit: ESA/CNES)

KOUROU, French Guiana—White light flooded in through large windows behind Alain Charmeau as he mused about the new age of rocketry. The brilliant sunrise promised another idyllic day in this beach town, but outside the sands remained untroubled by the feet of tourists.

Lamentably, the nearshore waters of this former French colony are chocolate rather than azure, muddied by outflow from the Amazon River. French Guiana has other compensating assets, however. It lies just 5.3 degrees north of the equator. Neither tropical cyclones nor earthquakes threaten the area. And its coast offers untrammeled access to both the east and north. These natural gifts have helped this remote region become one of the world’s busiest spaceports.

From here, Europe has established a long but largely

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Formula E ends its season—and an era—in Brooklyn

Enlarge (credit: Elle Cayabyab Gitlin)

NEW YORK—Racing cars came to Red Hook this past weekend as Formula E held its season four finale, the NYC ePrix. Although the event is only in its second year, the Big Apple is fast feeling like home for these all-electric race cars, and once again we saw championship-deciding races play out against the Manhattan skyline.

But this event also marked a different sort of finale—the end of Formula E’s first chapter as the series prepares to retire the cars its been using for these last four seasons. When season five gets underway in Saudi Arabia this December, Formula E will have a new vehicle in the spotlight: one with more power, wild looks, and enough battery to make mid-race vehicle swaps a thing of the past.

Formula E’s current reality

Unlike other racing series, Formula E exclusively races on temporary street tracks

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To make Curiosity (et al) more curious, NASA and ESA smarten up AI in space

Block Island, the largest meteorite yet found on Mars and one of several identified by the Mars Exploration Rovers. (credit: NASA)

NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover has done many great things in its decade-plus of service—but initially, it rolled 600 feet past one of the initiative’s biggest discoveries: the Block Island meteorite. Measuring about 67 centimeters across, the meteorite was a telltale sign that Mars’ atmosphere had once been much thicker, thick enough to slow down the rock flying at a staggering 2km/s so that it did not disintegrate on impact. A thicker atmosphere could mean a more gentle climate, possibly capable of supporting liquid water on the surface, maybe even life.

Yet, we only know about the Block Island meteorite because someone on the Opportunity science team manually spotted an unusual shape in low-resolution thumbnails of the images and decided it was worth backtracking for several days to examine

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Nokia 6.1 Review—The best answer to “What Android phone should I buy?”

Ron Amadeo

As someone who spends a lot of time with smartphones, I often get asked, “Hey Ron, what Android phone should I buy?” The high-end answer is usually easy: buy a Pixel phone. But not everyone is willing to shell out $650+ for a smartphone, especially the types of casual users that ask for advice. Beyond the flagship smartphones, things get more difficult within the Android ecosystem. Motorola under Google used to be great at building a non-flagship phone, but since the company was sold to Lenovo (which gutted the update program), it has been tough to find a decent phone that isn’t super expensive.

Enter HMD’s Nokia phones, an entire lineup of cheap smartphones ranging from $100 to $400. HMD recently launched the second generation of its lineup, with phones like the Nokia 2.1, 3.1, and 5.1. We recently spent time with the

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The BeOS file system, an OS geek retrospective

HD, so like… a high-definition floppy?

It’s the day after Independence Day in the US, and much of our staff is just returning to their preferred work machines. If this was 1997 instead of 2018, that would mean booting up BeOS for some. The future-of-operating-systems-that-never-was arrived just over 20 years ago, so in light of the holiday, we’re resurfacing this geek’s guide. The piece originally ran on June 2, 2010; it appears unchanged below.

The Be operating system file system, known simply as BFS, is the file system for the Haiku, BeOS, and SkyOS operating systems. When it was created in the late ’90s as part of the ill-fated BeOS project, BFS’s ahead-of-its-time feature set immediately struck the fancy OS geeks. That feature set includes:

  • A 64-bit address space
  • Use of journaling
  • Highly multithreaded reading
  • Support of database-like extended file attributes
  • Optimization for streaming file access

A dozen years later,

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What I’ve learned from nearly three years of enterprise Wi-Fi at home

Enlarge / A USG router, a 10-gigabit Ethernet switch, and a 48-port PoE switch. This is what it sounds like when fans cry. (credit: Lee Hutchinson)

There is a moment of perfect stillness after the cable slips through my fingers and vanishes back up the hole in the ceiling like an angry snake. Then the opening stanza of a rich poem of invective leaps from my lips and my wife stares up at me from below, eyes wide, frozen just as I am, ready to catch me if I rage too hard and lose my balance.

But perched precariously on the top step of an inadequate and shaky ladder in the corner of my living room, drenched in sweat and speckled head to toe in pink insulation and sheetrock dust, body aching with dull red heat, I just can’t maintain the torrent of swearing. I’m too tired. The words die

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