Dell has kicked off its annual President’s Day sale a bit early — it’s not even Valentine’s Day yet — with discounts on a variety of hardware. Some of the discounts are bigger than others, but if you were already considering buying a gigantic TV, laptop or other device, there are a bunch of deals here worth a look.Many of the discounts are available right now, with more scheduled to come online over the next few days. The company is giving members of its rewards program early access to a handful of special “Doorbuster” deals. And we’re checking with Dell about exactly when the sale ends — the press release says Feb. 18 at 7:59 a.m. ET (4:59 a.m. PT), but the circular I received in the mail says Feb. 20.Here are some of the best deals we found. Sarah Tew/CNET Bluetooth Dell Intel LG Read the CNET review Computers Speakers TVs Laptops See at Dell Survive Valentine’s Day 2019 on a limited budget: Save on flowers, gifts and more.The best dating sites for Valentine’s Day and beyond: Get swiping! Dell is currently selling a midrange configuration of its older Alienware m15 for $1,450 — about $150 off the usual price. On Feb. 19, it will begin selling the brand new Alienware m15, announced at CES in January, discounted by $400. That deal features an eighth-gen Intel Core i7 CPU and a GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, though the company said that the new model would be available configured with Nvidia’s newer RTX card. Still, the President’s Day deal is a good one — and worth waiting for. See at Dell CNET may get a commission from retail offers. Preview • Dell’s new XPS 15 revealed Comments Read the CNET review This is a decent deal on the 15-inch version of the XPS. It comes equipped with a beautiful, high-resolution and accurate broad-gamut display. And it incorporates the Nvidia GTX 1050 gaming GPU, which raises playtime performance in general-purpose laptops. This configuration features an eighth-gen Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Dell is also selling the two-in-one version of the XPS 15 for $1,400 — that’s more than $300 off of the usual price. See it Read the CNET review Sarah Tew/CNET 2 We haven’t reviewed this particular LG TV. But CNET’s resident expert, David Katzmaier, has certified it as a legit deal on the screen-size-to-cost basis alone. This appears to be the 2018 version of Dell’s nearly perfect XPS 13 — we’ve asked Dell for clarification and will update this post when it comes. Either way, the configuration is legit: You get an eighth-gen Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. But there’s no touchscreen, and you’re stuck with Dell’s annoying below-the-screen webcam, which has been fixed in the 2019 edition of this laptop. Sarah Tew Sarah Tew/CNET See at Dell 1:49 Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. Dell XPS 13: $1,200 (save $270) This terrific Bluetooth speaker cost $300 when it debuted in 2015. At $90, it’s an absolute steal — you get impressive sound quality, great connectivity range and excellent battery life. Plus, it’s waterproof. Justin Jaffe/CNET Review • XPS 15 is Dell’s high-end midsize workhorse Now playing: Watch this: Alienware m15 with Intel Core i7: $1,650 (save $400) $1,499 Dell XPS 15 Mentioned Above Dell XPS 15 – Core i5 TFT Tags See at Dell Read the CNET review Dell XPS 15: $1,350 (save $160) Ultimate Ears Megaboom: $90 (save $160) The Alienware m15 is shockingly slim, for an Alienware Disclosure: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of products featured on this page. Share your voice LG 86-inch 4K Smart HDR Ultra HDTV: $3,000 (save $1,500) See at Dell
2020 Hyundai Palisade review: Posh enough to make Genesis jealous Preview • Volkswagen I.D. Buzz: Driving this concept gets us smiling Volkswagen 3:28 The record-breaking Volkswagen I.D. R electric car It was all but a given that VW and driver Romain Dumas would pick up this record. Previously, the ID R picked up the overall record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and it also earned the EV record at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, a crown it intends to fight for again this year when the hillclimb kicks off on July 4.The ID R is a beast of a race car. Built as part of an effort to expand awareness of VW’s fledgling ID electric sub-brand, this record breaker has two electric motors putting out 670 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. It weighs less than 2,425 pounds, as well, which results in the bonkers acceleration seen in the video. And, judging by how well it’s doing at various tracks and events, it’s unlikely that this will be the last we see of it. Now playing: Watch this: More about 2022 Volkswagen I.D. Buzz VW’s adorable I.D. Buzz charms us on the California coast 18 Photos 1 Share your voice 2020 Kia Telluride review: Kia’s new SUV has big style and bigger value Enlarge ImageRomain Dumas was a natural choice for the run, having loads of experience with both the ID R and the ‘Ring itself. Volkswagen A little over a week ago, Volkswagen’s record-breaking ID R electric race car captured the EV lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife with an astounding lap of 6 minutes, 5 seconds. If you haven’t watched the in-car footage yet, here’s your chance.Volkswagen, not one to miss an opportunity, has posted its onboard footage from the ID R’s record-setting run on June 3. It’s absolutely wild, with its two electric motors screaming in high pitches while the tires do everything they can to maintain grip. It’s incredible just how quickly the trees and barriers fly past the ID R. It’s like the video is permanently set to fast-forward. Benny Hill would be proud. Tags Comment More From Roadshow Electric Cars Car Culture 2020 BMW M340i review: A dash of M makes everything better
Originally published June 18, 9:56 a.m. PT. The spacecraft is designed to reach out to Bennu, snag a sample of surface material and bring it back to Earth in 2023. NASA is currently assessing potential sample sites, a task it has asked the public to help with. Scientists hope to learn more about the formation of the solar system by studying Bennu. Osiris-Rex’s successful orbital space snuggle is a testament to the spacecraft’s capabilities, but it also happens to give us a spectacular view of an awesome asteroid to enjoy. Checking out Bennu Comment This is the view from the closest orbit a spacecraft has ever made around a planetary body.This navigation image of asteroid Bennu was taken shortly after orbital insertion on June 13 from a distance of 0.4 miles (690 m).Image details: https://t.co/8aFYUKK4cW pic.twitter.com/jraAXwRAw1— NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRISREx) June 17, 2019 Tags Cosmic dead ringers: 27 super strange-looking space objects Share your voice In the image, you can see a massive boulder sitting toward the bottom of the asteroid. This boulder is about the length of school bus. Osiris-Rex (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) settled into its new orbit on June 13, breaking its previous record of orbiting 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers) above the surface.Bennu is classified as a potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroid, though its chances of smacking our planet are slim and distant. 1 Osiris-Rex meets asteroid Bennu for cosmic pickpocketing Osiris-Rex finds water in its first week at asteroid Bennu Enlarge ImageOsiris-Rex snuggled up close to asteroid Bennu. NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft is a beast and a thrill-seeker. It broke its own record for “the closest orbit a spacecraft has ever made around a planetary body” and then it snapped a photo to prove its own audaciousness. The agency shared a breathtaking navigation image on Monday of asteroid Bennu from Osiris-Rex’s new orbital distance of a mere 0.4 miles (690 meters) above the ancient rubble-covered rock. 27 Photos Sci-Tech NASA Space
Now playing: Watch this: Post a comment 29 Photos Car Industry Auto Tech 2020 Lincoln Aviator plug-in hybrid first drive: This changes everything Tags More From Roadshow Toyota Enlarge ImageSoon the batteries for Toyota’s many hybrids, PHEVs and hydrogen cars could be coming from Chinese supplier CATL. Nick Miotke/Roadshow If you’re a major automotive manufacturer, it’s pretty much mandatory that you be working on some kind of electric vehicle development right now, especially if you do a lot of business in China.That’s certainly the position in which Toyota finds itself, so it’s had to go out, beat the bushes and find itself a sizable Chinese EV battery provider — which it did in the form of CATL, according to an announcement made by Toyota on Wednesday.If CATL sounds familiar, it’s because it’s also working with Volvo to provide batteries for that brand and its Polestar subsidiary. CATL is also working with Honda and was in talks with Tesla for a while to provide cells for Gigafactory Shanghai, though that ended up not working out.”To further promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles, CATL and Toyota agree that a stable supply of batteries is critical and that battery technology must be further developed and advanced,” Toyota representatives said in a statement.Stable is the key word there. Batteries are a volatile business, especially considering the vast amounts of relatively rare and expensive minerals they require. Thankfully for companies like CATL, many of those minerals are being mined inside China’s borders, but other firms elsewhere in the world haven’t been so fortunate.This news of Toyota’s battery partnership comes hot on the heels of its announcement that it plans to offer an electrified version of every single Lexus model by 2025 as well as receiving half of its revenue from the sale of electrified vehicles by 2025. Share your voice 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid first drive: A new kind of Explorer 0 9:29 2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e review: A hard hybrid to recommend The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid requires few sacrifices to save gas On the road: Toyota Mirai Toyota Volvo
Share Smith Collection/Gado/Getty ImagesA couple in Portland, Ore., discovered that their Amazon Echo had recorded their conversation and sent it to one of their contacts.As secret recordings go, the Portland couple’s conversation was pretty mundane: They were talking about hardwood floors.But their Amazon Echo was listening and recording their discussion. The device then sent the recording to someone in their contacts — without the couple’s knowledge.The wife, identified only as Danielle, told Seattle TV station KIRO 7 that they learned something was amiss when they received a phone call from the husband’s employee who lived in Seattle, telling them what he had inadvertently received. He told them to unplug their Alexa devices right away.Danielle says she and her husband went around the house unplugging their devices — which they had in each room, controlling their home’s temperature, lights and security.The employee sent the couple the sound file that the Echo had sent to him, and they were shocked to realize they had essentially been bugged.“I felt invaded,” Danielle told KIRO. “A total privacy invasion. Immediately, I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again, because I can’t trust it.’ “How did this happen? Here’s Amazon’s explanation of the unsettling episode:“Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like ‘Alexa.’ Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request. At which point, Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, ‘[contact name], right?’ Alexa then interpreted background conversation as ‘right’. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”That’s right — at least five times in a row, Alexa heard background conversation and misconstrued it as very specific directives. And it all happened without the people in the room knowing that the device was listening, much less recording their conversation and shipping it out, supposedly on their behalf.Last year, a North Carolina man said the same thing had happened to him: His Echo recorded 20 seconds of his conversation and sent it to his insurance agent without his knowledge.Why was the Echo recording the conversation in the first place?“Amazon’s Echo uses seven microphones and noise-canceling tech to listen out for its wake word,” Washington Post technology columnist Geoffrey Fowler explains. “Doing so, it records about a second of ambient sound on the device, which it constantly discards and replaces. But once it thinks it hears its wake word, the Echo’s blue light ring activates and it begins sending a recording of what it hears to Amazon’s computers.”While “home assistants” such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod have been big sellers in the past few years, they’ve brought with them a litany of privacy and practical concerns.There was the time an Echo ordered a $170 dollhouse for a 6-year-old who asked Alexa for one. And the time Burger King ran an ad that said, “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” — causing Google Home devices to dutifully reply with info from the Whopper Wikipedia page.NPR’s own reporting has spurred voice-activated snafus: Morning Edition ran a story in 2016 about the Echo, which included the phrases “Alexa, give me a news bulletin” and “Alexa, turn on CNN. Set the temperature to 70 degrees.” Some Echos at home complied — by playing an NPR newscast and resetting a listener’s thermostat.But while those episodes had the air of slapstick, these recorded-conversation incidents show what can happen when people welcome devices that are always listening.“The Amazon Echo, despite being small, is a computer — it’s a computer with microphones, speakers, and it’s connected to the network,” Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a staff technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, told the Post. “These are potential surveillance devices, and we have invited them further and further into our lives without examining how that could go wrong. And I think we are starting to see examples of that.”Have an Echo and want to know what it has been recording?Fowler offers this advice: “Go into the Alexa app, tap Settings —> History, and then listen to the recordings Alexa has made of you and your family. (While you’re there, you can also delete them).”Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
With all the sales that Valve has had on Steam, I think it’s more surprising to find someone who hasn’t played, or at least heard of the Portal series of games. That’s certainly not the case at NASA where there’s at least one fan of Portal working on staff.That person remains anonymous, but they did get in touch with Valve last week to inform them Wheatley, the “artificial deuteragonist” from Portal 2 voiced by Stephen Merchant, is being, and has now been sent into space.The panel you see in the image above includes a laser-engraved image of Wheatley that forms part of the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) resupply craft. The craft launched on Friday with its destination being the International Space Station. Wheatley will likely become a permanent addition to the ISS when the HTV-3 arrives in a little under a week.In total, the HTV-3 craft is carrying 4 tons of supplies set to reach the ISS on July 27. As you can see in the video below, the launch on Friday went smoothly at the Tanegashima Space Center in the south of Japan:As this is a Japanese operation carried out by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, it seems likely the engraving was carried out by one of their staff rather than by NASA directly.We can only guess at what device Wheatley has ended up being a part of, but we do know the HTV-3 carries the SERVIR Earth-observing camera system and five nanosatellites that make up the Japanese Exploration Module-Small Satellite Orbital Deployer. Maybe the engraving will be visible on one of them.Read more at Think with Portals and Space Fellowship
© 2015 Phys.org More information: L. Kistler et al. Gourds and squashes (Cucurbita spp.) adapted to megafaunal extinction and ecological anachronism through domestication, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2015). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1516109112AbstractThe genus Cucurbita (squashes, pumpkins, gourds) contains numerous domesticated lineages with ancient New World origins. It was broadly distributed in the past but has declined to the point that several of the crops’ progenitor species are scarce or unknown in the wild. We hypothesize that Holocene ecological shifts and megafaunal extinctions severely impacted wild Cucurbita, whereas their domestic counterparts adapted to changing conditions via symbiosis with human cultivators. First, we used high-throughput sequencing to analyze complete plastid genomes of 91 total Cucurbita samples, comprising ancient (n = 19), modern wild (n = 30), and modern domestic (n = 42) taxa. This analysis demonstrates independent domestication in eastern North America, evidence of a previously unknown pathway to domestication in northeastern Mexico, and broad archaeological distributions of taxa currently unknown in the wild. Further, sequence similarity between distant wild populations suggests recent fragmentation. Collectively, these results point to wild-type declines coinciding with widespread domestication. Second, we hypothesize that the disappearance of large herbivores struck a critical ecological blow against wild Cucurbita, and we take initial steps to consider this hypothesis through cross-mammal analyses of bitter taste receptor gene repertoires. Directly, megafauna consumed Cucurbita fruits and dispersed their seeds; wild Cucurbita were likely left without mutualistic dispersal partners in the Holocene because they are unpalatable to smaller surviving mammals with more bitter taste receptor genes. Indirectly, megafauna maintained mosaic-like landscapes ideal for Cucurbita, and vegetative changes following the megafaunal extinctions likely crowded out their disturbed-ground niche. Thus, anthropogenic landscapes provided favorable growth habitats and willing dispersal partners in the wake of ecological upheaval. Cucurbita seeds were found in mastadon dung. Credit: Lee Newsom, Penn State Cucurbita pepo gourds. Credit: Public Domain Explore further Prior evidence has shown that plants of the genus Cucurbita, which includes pumpkins, gourds and squashes, flourished during the Holocene in areas where large mammals such as giant sloths, mastodons and mammoths roamed—the huge mammals not only trampled and grazed in such areas, clearing land that the plants needed to survive, but also dispersed their seeds via their dung—thus there’s was a mutually positive relationship. But then things changed, the climate grew warmer and humans arrived with their advanced hunting skills—over time, the large mammals ceased to exist. The squash and gourds soon found it much more difficult to survive in overgrown vegetation and had little to no means of seed dispersal, which, the researchers suggest, means they would have all gone extinct had humans not begun to domesticate some varieties.To come to these conclusions, the researchers studied gourd and other seeds found in preserved large mammal dung (going back 30,000 years), which revealed a wide variety of lost species. They also tested the degree of bitterness in ancient gourd skin and then compared what they found with the results of a genome study they conducted looking at bitterness sensitivity in 46 modern animals–they found that the ancient varieties were so bitter that they would have been toxic to very small mammals and unpalatable to those somewhat larger, leaving just the largest mammals able to consume Cucurbita. The evidence indicates that most Cucurbita species began to decline approximately 10,000 years ago, and that most of them eventually went extinct. Those that we favor today only survived because humans began using them first as containers and floatation devices for fishing nets, then later, as a food source, presumably as domestication led to sweeter varieties. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Citation: Researchers suggest modern gourds would not have survived without domestication (2015, November 17) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-modern-gourds-survived-domestication.html (Phys.org)—A team of researchers with members from several institutions in the U.K. and U.S. has found evidence that suggests that modern gourds would have gone extinct long ago if humans had not domesticated them. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes their study of the history of gourds in the New World and why they needed domestication to survive. Researchers try to understand consequences of declining populations of large-bodied mammals