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Winamp, the 21-year old media player, is making a comeback in 2019

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The old-school media player has big plans for 2019.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In 2019, Winamp may be able to relive its glory days.

The 21-year-old media player is apparently making a comeback next year as an audio mobile app that puts all your music, podcasts and streaming services in one place, reports TechCrunch. The news comes by way of Radionomy CEO Alexandre Saboundjian -- Radionomy bought Winamp in 2014 from AOL -- he says:

"There will be a completely new version next year, with the legacy of Winamp but a more complete listening experience. You can listen to the MP3s you may have at home, but also to the cloud, to podcasts, to streaming radio stations, to a playlist you perhaps have built."

The new version of Winamp is reportedly coming to both iOS and Android. Winamp already has an Android app, but the new version promises to be a different experience.

There's also a new Winamp desktop version, Winamp 6, in the works for next year, says the report.

Although the aging player may have fallen from the popularity it once had, Techcrunch reports that there are still as many as 100 million monthly users, most residing outside of the US.

Radionomy didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Richard Branson suspends Saudi Arabia’s investment in space ventures over missing journalist

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<em>Richard Branson meeting with Prince Mohammad, released during the original announcement in October last year</em>

Richard Branson, founder and chairman of space tourism venture Virgin Galactic, says he is temporarily suspending his partnership with Saudi Arabia, which means the company may lose its promised $1 billion investment. The decision is directly related to questions surrounding Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing after stepping inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey on October 2nd.

Last year, the Virgin Group announced that Virgin Galactic and its spinoff companies, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit, would receive an investment of $1 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The money was meant to help further the development and testing of Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane, which is meant to take tourists into space for brief periods of weightlessness, as well as Virgin Orbit’s rocket, designed to deploy from the wing of a carrier airplane. There was even talk of using the money to help further Virgin’s dream of creating point-to-point travel — the concept of using rockets to quickly carry people to different places on the Earth. In exchange, Virgin might help with the creation of a “space-centric entertainment industry” in Saudi Arabia.

“I had high hopes for the current government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and it is why I was delighted to accept two directorships in the tourism projects around the Red Sea,” Branson wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

However, tensions between the two partners have soured due to Khashoggi’s disappearance. Khashoggi, an outspoken Saudi critic and opinion writer, hasn’t been heard from since entering the Saudi Arabian consulate. It’s assumed that he was killed inside the consulate, and Turkish authorities reportedly have audio and video recordings that back up that theory, according to CNN. However, the Saudi Arabian government has staunchly denied any responsibility and claims that Khashoggi left the consulate that day.

Based on the uncertainty surrounding the incident, Branson has decided to part ways with Saudi Arabia for now. “What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government,” he wrote. Branson said his company has asked for more information from Saudi authorities about what happened. But until things are cleared up, discussions over the Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit investment have ceased.

In the meantime, the Virgin companies are still moving forward with their spaceflight plans. Since the end of 2016, Virgin Galactic has been testing its spaceplane, the VSS Unity, and Branson claims the vehicle will be able to reach space on an upcoming flight test in the next few weeks. Additionally, Virgin Orbit hopes to perform its first captive carry flights of its rocket, LauncherOne, during which the rocket will ride under the wing of its carrier plane for the first time but not be released. If that’s a success, then Virgin Orbit will conduct its first test launch of the rocket, deploying it and sending it to orbit.

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The electric car is here — if you’ve got the money

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The annual parade of the world’s biggest auto shows is about to start this week in Paris, and for what really feels like the first time, a number of carmakers are finalizing, building, selling, or even nearing the delivery of their first flagship electric cars. And these aren’t just concepts, or camouflaged pre-production cars like we’ve seen in the past. EVs from big-name luxury brands like Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW are on the way, meaning incumbents in the space, like Tesla, will soon have lots of direct competition.

But only a few models will approach the more affordable mid-$30,000 starting price set by GM’s Bolt. That means many of the fully electric vehicles scheduled to hit the US market in the next few years will start at or comfortably exceed the average sale price of a car in the country. The electric car may finally be here, but it’s still not going to be for everyone.

Electric cars are supposed to help the world cut back on the emissions caused by transportation, which makes up for a large chunk of the world’s overall numbers. Even if you set aside other market forces that could stop people from switching to an all-electric car (spotty charging infrastructure, range anxiety), the focus on EVs as luxury vehicles means this potential relief is still theoretical.

This week’s Paris Motor Show — which will spotlight luxury EVs from the likes of Mercedes and Audi, but will be skipped by more attainable brands like VW and Ford — looks like it will be a stark reminder of this. It’s ironic, really, since it takes place in the city after which the most ambitious climate action plan in history was named.

The new all-electric car closest to hitting the road in the US is the Jaguar I-Pace. Officially unveiled earlier this year, the $69,500 five-seater electric SUV will start making it to customers this fall. It matches up fairly with something like the base-level Tesla Model X, offering quick performance (0–60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and just shy of 400 horsepower), solid range (240 miles), and a high-end interior with Jaguar Land Rover’s dual-screen InControl Touch Pro Duo infotainment system (the same kind that can be found in a Range Rover Velar). It doesn’t have any driver assistance features that approach or match Tesla’s Autopilot, though, and it also can’t compete with the higher-capacity or dual-motor versions of the Model X on performance.

Audi’s E-tron is a step above the I-Pace in both price and luxury, and it arrives in the second quarter of 2019. It also seats five, and starts at $74,800, but it can be optioned up to $81,800 in order to get Audi’s driver assistance package — which is one of the better on the market next to Tesla’s, though the best version won’t come to the United States anytime soon — with massage seats, a heads-up display, and more. Where the E-tron falls short of the I-Pace and Model X is that it’s not quite as quick, and it also may not offer quite as robust a range. Its 350-horsepower drivetrain is about a second slower to 60 miles per hour, and though final testing has yet to be performed, it’s possible that the E-tron will get closer to 200 miles per charge than the 240 or 237 offered by the I-Pace and base Model X, respectively.

 Photo: Sean O’Kane / The Verge
Audi’s new E-tron SUV.

One of the most anticipated all-electric vehicles to make it to market in the next few years is also coming in 2019, and it’s actually two models: the Porsche Taycan (née Mission E) and its sibling EV, the Cross Turismo. The Taycan is like a futuristically styled 911 that will feature fast performance and, maybe most importantly, fast charging. The Cross Turismo more closely resembles Porsche’s wagon-y Panamera lineup, and it’s meant to offer a little more practicality than the Taycan. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but both cars should cost around $100,000. (The powertrain platform that the Taycan is being built on will also be shared with Audi for an even more expensive performance version of the E-tron, due out in 2020.)

Continuing the luxury EV trend, Mercedes finally made a serious splash in the world of all-electric cars when it announced the EQC in early September. It’s not arriving until 2020, and there’s no pricing yet. The company also sort of flubbed its first guess at what the range will be (though it’s expected to be a little bit above 200 miles). But it’s otherwise a very Mercedes car, with a typically premium interior that centers on the company’s sharp-looking MBUX interface, one of the most attractive automaker-provided in-car infotainment systems.

BMW’s iX3 electric SUV will also arrive around 2020. Its specs are similar — above 200 miles of range and 270 horsepower — and it looks to build off of the success that BMW has found with its SUV offerings over the last decade. No pricing or other details have been announced, but BMW is no stranger to electric technology. It released the hybrid i8 sports car in 2014, and it has made the all-electric i3 (which tops out at just around 150 miles of range in its latest configuration) for basically just as long. Being BMWs, both of those cars also command a premium: the i8 sits at about $150,000, and the i3 starts at $44,000.

Lastly on the luxury side of things, some of the most well-known EV startups are delivering or nearing production of their own electric cars, but they won’t come cheap, either. Lucid Motors, which just struck a $1 billion deal with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, has targeted a price of $60,000 for the base version of its Lucid Air luxury EV, which has lay-back rear seats and a Tesla-style touchscreen dashboard. That won’t come for a few years, though; instead, much like Tesla, Lucid plans to sell a more expensive (and therefore higher-margin) spec of the car at the outset to help fund its efforts going forward. That version’s price tag? Over $100,000.

 Photo: Sean O’Kane / The Verge
Jaguar’s I-Pace.

Chinese startup NIO, which recently went public in the US, plans to sell its electric SUVs outside of China, though its first one costs the equivalent of about $70,000 right now. SF Motors, another company from China with similar ambitions (and backed by Chinese automaker Sokon), will be in a similar price range. Byton’s SUV will dip below these a bit and start at around $45,000. Meanwhile, Faraday Future, which bounced back from the brink of bankruptcy and is on the verge of entering production, is reportedly considering a price tag of anywhere from $180,000 to $300,000.

With all that in mind, anyone looking to spend less than, let’s call it, $40,000 — aka, most of us — will at least have some options beyond GM’s Chevy Bolt in the near future. One is the Kona Electric from Hyundai. It’s starting to ship in South Korea and should come to Europe and North America soon, too. Pricing in the West is still not set in stone, but the Kona Electric comes in short- and long-range versions that should start close to $30,000 and go up to $40,000. The short-range version is a bit of a compromise at under 200 miles, but the long-range Kona Electric beats out most of the competition (save for the most expensive Teslas) with an EPA-rated 253 miles per charge.

Kia has a similarly priced all-electric SUV coming very soon, too, though the company has been light on details. The Niro might even eke out the Kona’s range with 260 miles per charge and maybe even a few thousand dollars less.

 Photo: Hyundai
Hyundai’s Kona could be one option on the lower-end when it comes to the US in the next half-year.

Volkswagen is also bringing an all-electric car to market sometime in 2019. The company has sold an all-electric Golf since 2015, but the new I.D. hatchback — the first in a line of “I.D.”-branded electric cars — will be sold in three different range options, starting with a little less than 200 miles and a price of a little over $30,000.

The automakers behind these more affordable electric cars will look to take some momentum from the Chevy Bolt, which is one of the best electric cars on the market as far as price (under $40,000) and range (about 240 miles) are concerned. Other existing EVs are more affordable, but none — not the Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500e, eGolf, or Kia Soul EV — can go as far on a single charge.

 Photo: Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge
The Chevy Bolt is the most capable EV under $40,000 right now.

GM is about to become the second company to bleed out eligibility for the $7,500 federal tax credit buyers of EVs receive, though. (Tesla was the first.) That tax credit functions kind of like a consumer rebate, discounting the sticker price. While states offer similar credits, they’re typically for far less, between $1,000 and $3,500. This means cars like the Kona electric or the Niro or the I.D., which will start around the same price as the Bolt have an opportunity. With the federal tax credit, they’ll be cheaper, making them more attractive for some buyers.

In time, some of those lower-end EVs might be within reach of more consumers in the US. In other parts of the world, though, like Europe and China, that’s already happening. And to be fair, the Paris Motor Show represented this. Smart showed off another EV concept and Renault revealed an all-electric version of its ultra-cheap Kwid.

Maybe the first wave of luxury electric cars is not all bad: having desirable EVs at the top end of the market might help make affordable electric cars more attractive by association. But while nearly every automaker has made a grand promise about shifting to electric power by the mid-2020s, the rollout won’t be instant here. Those fleets will also fill up with hybrids, which tend to be even more affordable. Battery technology still makes up a large part of the price of an all-electric car, and the market forces — material costs, overall supply — aren’t helping to quickly bring costs down.

The dream of cars powered by electricity is finally becoming a reality. But as with most futuristic technologies, people with money will get the first crack at living with them.

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Faraday Future CEO accused of trying to break investor deal after spending $800 million

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Faraday Future averted disaster at the end of 2017 when it secured a major new investment from the healthcare division of Chinese real estate group Evergrande. But that money — some $800 million — was gone by July, according to a new filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Now, Evergrande is accusing Faraday Future founder and CEO Jia Yueting of trying to back out of the deal, and says it will take “all necessary actions” to protect itself and its shareholders. News of the filing was first reported by Reuters.

The Chinese conglomerate says Jia used “manipulating” tactics to persuade the board of directors who oversaw the deal to advance another $700 million. In the meantime, The Verge has learned that Faraday Future has struggled after having spent the first $800 million. Some of the company’s vendors and suppliers have not been paid, and layoffs are being considered, according to three former employees and sources close to the company, who asked not to be named out of fear of legal retribution. Representatives for Faraday Future did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.

The new financial trouble comes at a critical time for Faraday Future. The company has spent all of 2018 retooling a factory in Hanford, California, where it plans to manufacture its first car, an ultra-premium electric SUV called the FF91, by the end of the year. Even that process has stumbled, though, as The Verge learned that the company’s first and only preproduction version of the car — the first thing to be made at the Hanford facility — caught fire in late September.

The fire happened hours after the company showed off the car at a “Futurist Day” event for its employees and families. The full extent of the damage is not clear, as the company has made employees sign non-disclosure agreements specifically related to the fire, the former employees say. But it’s viewed as a major setback ahead of the start of production later this year.

The more pressing trouble, though, may be that some of Faraday Future’s suppliers and vendors have not been paid for weeks. The stopped payments were a direct result of Jia having spent the first $800 million installment by July, which came from Evergrande through a complex structure of offshore companies, the former employees and sources close to the company say.

Emails reviewed by The Verge that date back to the beginning of August show Faraday Future representatives trying to explain this as “delays” in payment processing. Others show repeated promises that checks were being issued, but awaiting signature, or held by the company’s “treasury department” for over a month, which two former employees who worked closely with Faraday Future’s finances say was the same stall tactic used in 2017 when the company was nearly out of money.

One vendor, who asked not to be named because they are afraid of damaging their chances of being paid, say a Faraday Future representative suggested this person’s company hire a collection agency. At least three others have filed liens with the California Secretary of State, one for nearly $400,000 owed over equipment it sold to Faraday Future, official documents show.

The company previously had trouble paying suppliers in 2017, with some going so far as to sue Faraday Future in court for repayment. The company owed at least $100 million at the start of 2018, and the company began using the new investment money to make good on those debts. Faraday Future held a “supplier summit” in February, which the company’s supply chain head said was meant to help these companies “walk away with renewed confidence about our plans and our funding.” Not all debts have been repaid, though. In a previously unreported lawsuit filed this summer, Nevada-based Astound Group claims Faraday Future still owes around $1.5 million for work dating back to 2016, including unpaid invoices from the 2017 launch of the FF91 at the Consumer Electronics show.

Jia has a history of money trouble. Best known as the founder of troubled tech conglomerate LeEco, he is currently living in the United States after having his assets frozen in China in 2017. He was placed on a national debtor blacklist, and while he still controls the listed arm of LeEco, a different real estate giant (Sunac) recently took control of some of the conglomerate’s subsidiaries.

It was also Jia’s handling of the company’s money that helped put Faraday Future in the tenuous financial straits last year, as The Verge reported in December. A private-turned-public clash between him and Faraday Future’s then-CFO got in the way of new investments, and derailed an attempt to restructure the company through bankruptcy.

While Jia was eventually able to secure funding from Evergrande, the deal came with severe terms, like assigning away the rights to Faraday Future’s intellectual property and many of its assets. Evergrande has spent the intervening months setting up Faraday Future-branded research and development centers in China, and recently purchased a $2 billion stake in a major Chinese auto dealership company.

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Last year’s flu was brutal—killing 80,000—but vaccine did better than expected

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Enlarge / Get one. (credit: Getty | Jeff Greenberg)

The 2017-2018 flu season was brutal, leading to an estimated 80,000 deaths and 900,000 hospitalizations, according to new figures released Thursday, September 27, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those are the highest estimated tolls the health agency has calculated for any flu season in more than a decade, the CDC noted in an email to Ars. In recent years, flu-related death estimates have ranged from a high of 56,000 (2012-2013) to as low as 12,000 (2011-2012).

Those figures are all based on mathematic modeling after the fact; exact numbers are not available, the agency notes. For one thing, states aren’t required to report adult flu deaths to the CDC. Also, many death certificates will fail to list the flu anyway.

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15 days ago
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Facebook can’t be ordered to wiretap Messenger calls, judge rules

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Enlarge (credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A federal judge in Fresno, California recently denied prosecutors’ request to force Facebook to wiretap voice calls by suspected gang members conducted over Messenger.

According to a Friday report by Reuters, despite already having substantive traditional wiretaps and intercepting Messenger texts between alleged MS-13 gangsters, the government wanted further access.

"Currently, there is no practical method available by which law enforcement can monitor these calls," FBI Special Agent Ryan Yetter wrote in a nearly-100-page-long affidavit submitted to the court on August 30, 2018. The three participants in those calls are now in jail, according to Reuters.

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