20 Years Later, StarCraft’s Tale is Continue to an Engrossing Take on Area Opera

All Visuals Courtesy of Activision Blizzard

StarCraft was unveiled to the earth 20 a long time back, and in the time since it is grow to be a famous fixture of the aggressive gaming scene. Which tends to make it uncomplicated to fail to remember that it is also a amazing space opera.

Earlier this thirty day period, Blizzard, StarCraft’s developers, released StarCraft Remastered, a facial area elevate to the original title meant to spruce it up (alongside with its expansion, Brood War) for a new era. It didn’t improve anything at all substantive, largely just the graphics, but it available a opportunity to get sucked back again in. And I have. Given that I’m beyond atrocious at the multiplayer, that is meant digging into the sprawling solo marketing campaign, which tells an intricate story of war, betrayal, and greed involving all a few in-video game races. A story that is a lot a lot more engrossing than I remembered.

The story starts with the Terrans, a band of individuals who have colonized deep space. You participate in as a justice of the peace for the Confederacy of Guy, but you speedily sign up for up with the dissident group the Sons of Korhal after the Confederates go away your colonists to die. The Terran marketing campaign is taken up by a fairly clear-cut story in which you combat the Confederates and the Zerg, a race of violent, parasitic aliens who appear to be to have no function but to take in and destroy. The story introduces you to a heroic frontier sheriff in the kind of Jim Raynor and a morally complex heroine, the psychic unique operative Sarah Kerrigan. This to start with tale ends in betrayal: the Sons of Korhal abandon your people today to the Zerg, and Sarah Kerrigan is devoured.

Then the Zerg marketing campaign starts, and items get exciting. The earth of the Zerg is an entirely overseas just one. The Zerg are a lot smarter than they initially seem, but the sentient intelligences serving the Zerg are cruel and petty, sure collectively only by their shared hunger for conquest and blood. The aims of the Zerg marketing campaign are a lot more primal than the Terran just one: you destroy your enemies and take in their territory, waging a awful war against both of those individuals and the Protoss, a warrior race that has travelled throughout the galaxy to crush the Zerg infestation. You devote your to start with missions protecting a chrysalis, an embryonic Zerg organism that provides delivery to an infested version of Kerrigan, recreated as a unique Zerg champion. All her human intelligence and tenacity, turned monstrous. She makes use of her exceptional individuality to acquire electricity inside of the Zerg and sets out to annihilate the Protoss at the time and for all.

Protoss vs. Zerg.

Now, a whole lot of that may possibly not sound all that unique on its own. But what’s compelling about this story, and the Protoss marketing campaign next it, is the way it involves the participant in the beats of the narrative. In StarCraft, taking part in a race is a kind of embodiment. It is a way to study to act, to think, the way they do. Zerg capture territory mercilessly and multiply by way of hideous natural constructions. The Protoss create tiny teams of specialized, thorough warriors with which to purge the Zerg infestation. In both of those instances, you digest the story by accomplishing, by turning into. Learning how to participate in a race indicates finding out how to think like them.

Immediately after a pair of missions taking part in the Zerg, I felt the very same reckless hunger that they did. I looked at the individuals, at the Protoss, and I observed targets. Vectors of expansion. To my surprise, I was rooting for the monsters.

A whole lot of science fiction struggles to attract the audience into imagined spaces, failing to tie fantastical thoughts to features that experience lived in or relatable, but StarCraft passes that check fantastically. It presents an unlikely blueprint for how to inform these sorts of stories. By giving the audience hooks into this world’s inhabitants, by allowing them see how even the most overseas beings in it fully grasp themselves, Blizzard has developed a story that lasts.

The outcome of this is that, even at its most trope-y, StarCraft’s storytelling often feels urgent. As distinctive factions of each and every race participate in off each and every other, the video game pulls the participant into their struggles, compels empathy and fascination even for the entirely alien Zerg. The earth of StarCraft is dense, but it feels lived in and alive. I really don’t just study about and fear the alien hordes. Listed here, I am the alien hordes. Even a lot more than the immaculate tactical gameplay, that kind of storytelling is addictive.

Well, we have good news and bad news about this year’s iPhone launch – BGR

Millions of Apple fans around the world woke up on Friday morning with smiles on their faces, as they always do on days when Apple releases new products. And today, Apple has not one, not two, not even three, but four new devices being released. The Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple TV 4K are both big upgrades compared to their predecessors, but the big news is that the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are finally here and people couldn’t possibly be any more excited. Right? Wait a minute… where are all the people!?

We’re joking, of course. Well, we’re half-joking at least. Massive lines at Apple stores around the world used to be a given with each and every iPhone launch, but the chaos and commotion have dwindled over the years. No, it’s not because Apple is selling fewer iPhones. It’s because more and more people are preordering Apple’s iPhones as opposed to dealing with the hassle of hunting them down.

With all that having been said, this year is still quite different from years past.

Compared to previous iPhone launches, there doesn’t seem to be much buzz at all surrounding today’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus release. Why? Because the loudest iPhone fans are the ones who are holding out for the iPhone X. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are great phones, of course, but the iPhone X is completely redesigned. It’s far more exciting than the models launching today, which look practically the same as the iPhones Apple has released for the past three years.

So, the good news is that if you want a new iPhone 8 or an iPhone 8 Plus, it’ll probably be surprisingly easy to find this weekend. Sure, some of the more popular models and sizes will likely sell out at a few stores, but a huge number of Apple fans appear to be holding out for the iPhone X, which won’t be released until early November.

Yeah, that’s the bad news.

We’ve been hearing rumors of iPhone X manufacturing difficulties and supply issues for months. Then earlier this week, a new report suggested that Apple and Foxconn are still having problems building the iPhone X, and production might not fully ramp up until the middle of next month.

With preorders going live on October 27th and the iPhone X release scheduled for November 3rd, that’s bad news. In light of iPhone 8 demand that’s seemingly muted as people hold out for the iPhone X, it’s even worse news. Long story short, getting your hands on an iPhone X anytime this year is probably going to be very, very difficult.

Hardcore Apple fans are going to wait for the iPhone X, of course. It’s a bold reimagining of the iPhone, packed with exciting changes and complex new technologies like Face ID. They’re going to have a heck of a time finding one, but hey, that’s their problem. If you want a new iPhone 8 or an iPhone 8 Plus today, it’s going to be easier than it’s ever been before on an iPhone launch day. Head out to your local Apple store, wireless carrier store, or electronics retailer, and you’ll probably be in and out.

For a refresher, here are the models and prices being released today:

  • iPhone 8 | 64GB: $699
  • iPhone 8 | 256GB: $849
  • iPhone 8 Plus | 64GB: $799
  • iPhone 8 Plus | 256GB: $949

Installment plan options range from carrier to carrier, but here’s what you’ll pay if you go with Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program:

  • iPhone 8 | 64GB: $34.50/month
  • iPhone 8 | 256GB: $40.75/month
  • iPhone 8 Plus | 64GB: $39.50/month
  • iPhone 8 Plus | 256GB: $45.75/month

Phil Spencer Expects PUBG To Be Very Big on Xbox for Many Years; Says He’s Incredibly Happy for Bluehole

PUBG (PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds) is without a doubt the hottest game on the market, setting sales records almost every week since its launch on Steam Early Access.

Just this weekend, PUBG became the top game ever on Steam when it comes to concurrent users with over 1.3 million players logging online at the same time.

With this kind of numbers being pulled off, Microsoft’s agreement with Bluehole to bring the game to Xbox One first this Holiday season definitely feels more important and everyone is starting to wonder whether PUBG can enjoy the same level of success on Microsoft’s console.

Earlier today, Head of Xbox division Phil Spencer said on Twitter that he expects a similar success to bringing Minecraft to console and that PUBG will be “very big” on Xbox for many years to come. He also added in a subsequent tweet that having gotten to know the folks at Bluehole, he’s incredibly happy for them to have this success.

Spencer also chimed in on other Xbox related topics. For example, he commented on Black Desert Online, another Korean made game (by Pearl Abyss) that’s coming to Xbox One later this year, with no official word on a PlayStation 4 port as of yet.

On the topic of upcoming backward compatibility additions, Fable Anniversary should be available soon, according to Spencer, who also regrets that the wishlist feature isn’t available yet in their store and would like to see something like 1v100 again.

He has apparently played a lot of Destiny 2 lately, which prompted a user to ask whether the game will have 4K and/or HDR support on the Xbox One X after all, as nothing has been announced yet. Spencer couldn’t really answer that question but he did say that Microsoft has a great working relationship with Bungie, which sounds promising.



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Here’s Why Grand Theft Auto V Is So Amazing Four Years Later

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Grand Theft Auto V is celebrating its fourth anniversary on store shelves today, initially arriving for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and setting records right off the bat. The game managed to clear $800 million in revenue within its first 24 hours, and $1 billion in the following week. And that was just the beginning of its success.

The game would continue on with releases for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and would eventually sell over 80 million copies up to this point, becoming one of the biggest success stories in video games.

So what is it about Grand Theft Auto V that keeps us coming back for more? There are a number of factors to consider, so, as we celebrate the anniversary of its initial release, let’s look at what makes the game so damn fun to play.

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Grand Theft Auto Online

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First, the package doesn’t just include Grand Theft Auto V, as there’s a whole online offering to consider. Grand Theft Auto Online allows friends to join in sessions together and do all sorts of stuff, whether it’s hanging out at an apartment, taking part in gun battles, or causing vehicular mayhem, either with joyriding or racing in pre-set events.

And that list of activities has only grown over the past few years, with frequent updates that include new races, new activities (like the just-released Smuggler’s Run), new cars – new everything. There’s just so much to come back to, or enjoy if this is your first time joining in.

Grand Theft Auto Online is a testament of prolonging the online component of a game with awesome, fresh materials – and it doesn’t look like Rockstar Games will be wrapping up anytime soon.

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There’s a Vast Amount of Single Player Content

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Even without the downloadable content that’s been rumored for some time, Grand Theft Auto V’s single player is nothing short of stupendous. You have hours’ worth of storyline to cover between the main characters, not to mention side activities and just plain screwing around and getting pursued by the cops – or jumping off a building just to say that you did so.

And that’s not including the hidden stuff that’s been talked about for the past few years, like the mysterious surroundings regarding outer space, and the other goodies that you can find with a little looking. This is an open-world game done right. Know how we can tell? We’re still finding cool stuff.

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The Newest Versions of the Game Are No Mere Upgrades

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When companies usually port over games from older generation to newer generation, they do so with very little frills, just hoping to make a quick buck based on a hurried-up development cycle. But Rockstar Games knew it had a lot of people interested in Grand Theft Auto V, so they reprogrammed the game from the ground up with a very crucial feature – a first-person perspective.

This viewpoint actually changes up the way you play within the game, and makes things feel more realistic than ever. In fact, this addition alone probably prompted a lot of fans to buy the game all over again, just to see what it was like. And it’s still paying off for them.

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It’s Just So Much Fun

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Rockstar Games has dialed in the controls for Grand Theft Auto V pretty much perfectly. Everything just feels right, whether you’re getting in a fistfight with someone, engaging in a high-stakes heist or gun battle, or cruising around the freeway and stylishly trying to lose the police.

We can’t tell you how much time we’ve wasted taking part in activities that didn’t really affect the main story. That’s the level of depth that GTA has, and it’s still a whole lot of fun. Our main hope is that, when it releases next year, Red Dead Redemption 2 has a similar amount of depth. We can’t wait to sink our teeth into that one.

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There’s No One Like Trevor

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Finally, the characterization of Grand Theft Auto V is off the charts. We actually care what happens with the main antagonists each time around, even if they start out being pains in the asses. And, to be fair, there is one standout that continues to be a lot of fun to play as – Trevor.

Trevor is just plain bonkers. He kills people with reckless abandon; he wanders around in his underwear on occasion; and he lives for chaos, even if that means completing a mission in a pure suicide manner. To put it bluntly, there’s no video game character like him out there. And love him or hate him, he truly makes GTA V click better than most of Rockstar’s previous Grand Theft Auto affairs.

But, yeah, don’t make him your hero. Because he isn’t one.

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Mods, Mods Everywhere

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Finally, there’s the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V, which is a monster in its own right because of the mod community. We’ve seen all sorts of stuff emerge from the mod community, including some amazing mods based on Rick and Morty and The Lion King, as well as a space expansion that’s nothing short of exceptional. And chances are, even with some concern from Take-Two, the mod community isn’t close to done yet. We could be seeing more insane stuff right around the corner. And, hell, we could even see worlds recreated in them, too — like the space mod. Wow.

Why ‘Final Fantasy VII’ Endures 20 Years After Its Release

On September 7, 1997, “Final Fantasy VII” arrived in North America. The Sony PlayStation video game introduced many English-language gamers to their first Japanese role playing game, or JRPG. Combining mystical elements with a post-industrial fantasy setting, the seventh installment in the iconic series gave the player control of the game’s protagonist, Cloud Strife; The North American release of “Final Fantasy VII” received a marketing blitz nearly unheard of at the time, and it paid off; the game proved to be wildly popular, selling more than 11 million copies.

Twenty years after its release, “Final Fantasy VII,” developed by SquareSoft, remains iconic. The company now called Square Enix announced in 2015 it was creating a remake of its classic game for the PlayStation 4 console. Sony included the announcement in its E3 presentation that year, and wowed the audience with a teaser trailer.

But it’s been more than two years since that announcement, and gamers are still waiting for the remake. But we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the series and see what made “Final Fantasy VII” so special two decades ago.

Redefining Fantasy

One thing that sets the “Final Fantasy” series apart from other franchises is that it’s not contained to a single set of characters or even a common world. Most of the games follow the same general plot: You control a hero or group of heroes who must face overwhelming odds to defeat an enormously powerful villain. This villain has goals that usually, but not always, threaten everyone in the game’s world.

While each game inhabits its own world, there are common elements across worlds. Some creatures, like the flightless birds called chocobos, appear in nearly all the games. Items such as healing potions or phoenix down, which can resurrect fallen comrades, also appear in games across the series. Occasionally, you’ll run into a familiar character archetype who shares a common name across a few games. But beyond that, there’s no real connective tissue between games.

One of the elements that sets “Final Fantasy VII” apart from its forebears was its departure from a more typical fantasy environment. Up until then, “Final Fantasy” games had delved into a Tolkien-esque world of knights and wizards, dragons and castles. In making the leap to a techno-futurist setting, “Final Fantasy VII” kept some of the weaponry (swords of preposterous size have become as much a hallmark as the spiky hair of the protagonist), magic and weird beasts, but introduced an industrialized, semi-modern world that appealed to a broader audience.

What’s in a Name?

Square released the first “Final Fantasy” game in 1987 in Japan and the U.S. The second and third game in the series debuted in Japan in 1988 and 1990, respectively, but skipped the United States. Americans who bought “Final Fantasy II” when it first came out for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System were actually playing “Final Fantasy IV.” To make matters more confusing, Square also reserved “Final Fantasy V” for Japan, meaning the game English-language gamers knew as “Final Fantasy III” was actually Japan’s “Final Fantasy VI.”

Eventually, Square addressed this problem and published all the Final Fantasy games in the US, updating the numbering as it did so to bring both the Japanese and U.S. versions in alignment. By the time “Final Fantasy VII” rolled around in 1997, everyone was (somewhat) on the same page, even though installments numbered with the Roman numerals IV, V or VI had yet to see official release in the U.S.

How It Worked

Gameplay in most of the early “Final Fantasy” games followed a pattern. Outside of combat, players control characters as they explore the world and interact with other entities, then randomly encountering foes to fight. Once in battle, the game switches to a turn-based mode. Here, players give each of the characters in their party commands and try to manage their resources to maintain enough oomph to take on any bigger, badder bosses down the path. Rinse and repeat, as shown in this video footage of gameplay from the PlayStation original:

Though the 1997 “Final Fantasy VII” used this gameplay technique, the remake won’t, apparently. It will incorporate a more action-based gameplay mechanic to appeal to a modern gaming audience. Gone are the turn-by-turn commands, replaced with a more fluid twitch-based approach to combat.

Many JRPGs have similar gameplay elements as “Final Fantasy VII,” so what actually made it special? For many, it was the characters. Cloud is a flawed protagonist with a complex backstory. His companions had nuanced personalities. The compelling story featured lots of twists and turns, and it was just plain weird.

While the characters in “Final Fantasy VII” generally come across as serious, the situations they would find themselves in often tended toward the absurd. The combination of a deep story, intriguing characters and bizarre situations created a sense of emotional investment among players. Two decades after its release, “Final Fantasy VII” characters remain popular choices for cosplayers.

So, About That Remake…

Development on the remake has had its own twists and turns. When Square Enix announced its original plans to release the remake in several installments, some fans were worried. The company explained that the scale of the game was so large that Square Enix would have to publish in multiple parts or else make drastic cuts to the game for the purposes of file size. In May 2017, news broke that Square Enix shifted development from an external studio to an in-house team. There has been no official word on when the game will launch.

If you’re intrigued and can’t wait for the remake, whenever it may arrive, the original version is available for PC and for iOS devices.

U.S. astronauts are climbing back into space capsules. Here’s how they’ve improved over the past 50 years

In 1961, an American astronaut reached space for the first time and soared through the heavens in a gumdrop-shaped capsule.

Since then, people have flown to the moon, created space planes and designed rockets that return to Earth for precision landings. But when astronauts lift off next year from U.S. soil for the first time in six years, their vehicle of choice will be another capsule.

Boeing Co. and SpaceX are relying on the tried-and-true design as the two companies each develop spacecraft under NASA contracts to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Despite the sleek spaceships of sci-fi imaginings or the familiar winged body of the shuttle, engineers have returned to the seemingly clunky capsule again and again for a simple reason — it works.

“The capsule is a very durable technology,” said Matthew Hersch, assistant professor of the history of science at Harvard University. “It may not be romantic to fly, but it’s going to get you there and back safely.”

A rendering of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule.
A rendering of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule. (Boeing)

Since the end of the shuttle program, the U.S. has relied on Russia to transport its astronauts to and from the space station in the Soyuz spacecraft, another capsule.

Boeing and SpaceX said they are confident their vehicles will fly next year, despite recent reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office noting that delays for the two companies have pushed the first test flights past the initial deadline.

The new spacecraft have a number of features that weren’t available on earlier capsules — touchscreen displays, large windows, more powerful electronics and lighter materials.

The spacesuits that astronauts will wear also have been slimmed down. SpaceX has released several photos of its spacesuit, which Chief Executive Elon Musk said was tested to ensure astronauts would stay safe even if the pressure in the capsule dropped suddenly. Boeing’s “Boeing blue” spacesuit is about 40% lighter than previous suits, and the gloves were specially designed to let astronauts interact with touchscreens.

Chris Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and current Boeing director of Starliner crew and mission systems, wears the Boeing spacesuit.
Chris Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and current Boeing director of Starliner crew and mission systems, wears the Boeing spacesuit. (Boeing)

Back in the early days of the U.S. space program, astronauts lamented riding in anything that allowed for such limited human control. Borrowing the name from something you swallow didn’t enhance the appeal.

Initially, there was great enthusiasm for making those spacecraft look like airplanes, but it was difficult to create wings that could navigate various parts of a mission and survive the heat of reentry, Hersch said.

Any spacecraft rated to carry humans has a specific set of requirements. It must be efficient in its volume with enough space for all necessary life systems, but have as low mass as possible. It also has to withstand tremendous g-forces, pressure and heat during launch and reentry.

The heat shield on a capsule’s blunt, slightly curved bottom helps protect the crew as the vehicle reenters the atmosphere.

Capsules are aerodynamically stable when traveling at supersonic speeds during reentry and require little maneuvering to return to Earth in an emergency, giving them “inherent stability,” said David Giger, senior director of Dragon development engineering at SpaceX.

“What’s really interesting about capsule design is it’s aerodynamically efficient both on ascent and descent,” said David Barnhart, director of the USC Space Engineering Research Center. “It only takes one event to take it back down, which is essentially a reentry burn, and that’s good because it minimizes moving parts and complexities.”

A person wears the SpaceX astronaut spacesuit and stands near the Dragon 2 capsule.
A person wears the SpaceX astronaut spacesuit and stands near the Dragon 2 capsule. (SpaceX)

In creating spacecraft for NASA’s commercial crew program, both Boeing and SpaceX have built on the example of their predecessors.

Boeing constructed its design based on some of the data from the 1950s and 1960s era Mercury and Gemini, as well as NASA’s Orion, a crew spacecraft that first flew in 2014 and is slated to ride into space atop the agency’s Space Launch System rocket in 2019.

Rob Adkisson, Boeing’s chief engineer for the commercial crew program, said the CST-100 Starliner’s compact capsule design matches its mission as a “people mover,” compared to the larger space shuttle that essentially functioned as a “truck back and forth.”

“It looks a lot like Gemini and Mercury,” he said of the Starliner. “But it’s quite a bit different.”

The Chicago aerospace giant’s Starliner will blast into space on an Atlas V rocket before deploying and docking autonomously at the space station. Upon its return to Earth, the spacecraft will jettison its service module, deploy parachutes to slow down and drop its heat shield so the vehicle’s airbags can inflate for a softer ground landing.

Rob Adkisson, right, chief engineer with Boeing's Commercial Group Program, examines a capsule heat shield component with David Schiller, aerostructures lead for the company's commercial crew program.
Rob Adkisson, right, chief engineer with Boeing’s Commercial Group Program, examines a capsule heat shield component with David Schiller, aerostructures lead for the company’s commercial crew program. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Mannequins riding the Starliner during a recent test were “barely jostled” inside, Adkisson said. The capsule is designed to be reused 10 times.

A version of the capsule is undergoing tests at a Boeing facility in Huntington Beach where space structures like Apollo, the original Delta and Delta II rockets and parts of the space station were also cleared before their missions. The CST-100 Starliner capsule is set to make its debut test flight in June 2018, with a crewed test flight two months later.

“You design robust margins into what you do, demonstrate that everything operates as we expect it to,” Adkisson said. “That gives us a lot of confidence and gives our customer a lot of confidence that we’ve got it nailed.”

One major development is the fine-tuning of the capsule’s heat protection. The Starliner’s base heat shield has an ablator, a proprietary material that absorbs energy on reentry and only chars “like a marshmallow,” said David Schiller, leader of Boeing’s commercial crew aerostructures integrated product team.

The command module from the 13th Lunar mission in 1995 at the Space Works Facility in Hutchinson, Kansas, where it was restored for display at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.
The command module from the 13th Lunar mission in 1995 at the Space Works Facility in Hutchinson, Kansas, where it was restored for display at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. (Dan Bayer / Associated Press)

The base heat shield and its four backshells located around the crew vehicle are made of composite materials. A glass/phenolic honeycomb core is wedged between the composite layers, like an ice cream sandwich, to provide high strength while staying lightweight. The entire vehicle is covered with thermal protection, including a type of woven ceramic “blanket” similar to the ones used on the space shuttle, and ceramic tiles on the backshells to deflect heat.

Like Boeing, SpaceX also looked to previous capsules when it first embarked on its Dragon spacecraft.

Back then, the Hawthorne company was still very young, so engineers looked back at the legacies of Mercury, Gemini and the moon program’s Apollo. The lessons are incorporated in its Dragon 2 crew transporter capsule, along with those learned from developing SpaceX’s Dragon 1 vehicle, currently used by NASA to take supplies to the space station.

The Dragon 2’s abort system is a marked change from Apollo, which used a rocket on a tower located at the top of the capsule and was discarded on the way up to orbit. SpaceX’s launch abort system can be used at any time during the entire ascent trajectory and stays on the capsule so it can be recovered on splashdown — part of the company’s emphasis on reusability, said Giger of SpaceX.

A mockup of NASA's Orion, which is designed to eventually travel to Mars, hits the water in a simulated ocean splashdown test at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
A mockup of NASA’s Orion, which is designed to eventually travel to Mars, hits the water in a simulated ocean splashdown test at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. (Steve Helber / AP)

Dragon 2 will also utilize more advanced avionics technology than was possible during Apollo — the capsule’s avionics draw less than half the power of the Apollo spacecraft and lunar module combined — and the avionics are smaller and can be consolidated into fewer numbers of components. The most obvious example is the touchscreen displays inside the capsule.

The SpaceX capsule will also utilize more automation, such as its docking ability, to improve safety and allow crew to focus on crucial tasks, he said. The company is also working on developing the capsule’s precision landing capability in the ocean so recovery crews can arrive within minutes.

“Just because it looks like a capsule does not mean the inherent technology is the same,” Giger said.

Dragon 2, which will ride into space on a Falcon 9 rocket, is set to make its first test flight in February 2018, and a crewed flight will come four months later.

In the meantime, the capsule’s hardware is going through qualification testing and software is being developed and evaluated, said Garrett Reisman, director of space operations at SpaceX and a former NASA astronaut who flew on two space shuttle missions.

“We’re trying to take a giant leap forward in safety,” he said. “We have the opportunity to do that through design, improvements in technology and also by leveraging all the history that our partner NASA brings to the table … to make sure we don’t repeat mistakes made in the past.”

samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

Twitter: @smasunaga

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Apple Started Developing A11 Bionic Chip When A8 Chip Was Released Three Years Ago

Shortly after Apple’s iPhone X event this week, the company’s silicon chief Johny Srouji and marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down for an interview about its new A11 Bionic chip with Mashable‘s editor-at-large Lance Ulanoff.


One interesting tidbit mentioned was that Apple began exploring and developing the core technologies in the A11 chip at least three years ago, when the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus launched with A8 chips.

Srouji told me that when Apple architects silicon, they start by looking three years out, which means the A11 Bionic was under development when Apple was shipping the iPhone 6 and its A8 chip. Back then we weren’t even talking about AI and machine learning at a mobile level and, yet, Srouji said, “The neural engine embed, it’s a bet we made three years ahead.”

Apple’s three-year roadmap can change if new features are planned, like the Super Retina HD Display in iPhone X.

“The process is flexible to changes,” said Srouji, who’s been with Apple since the first iPhone. If a team comes in with a request that wasn’t part of the original plan, “We need to make that happen. We don’t say, ‘No, let me get back to my road map and, five years later, I’ll give you something.”

Apple senior executives Phil Schiller, left, and Johny Srouji


In fact, Schiller praised Srouji’s team for its ability to “move heaven and earth” when the roadmap suddenly changes.

“There have been some critical things in the past few years, where we’ve asked Johny’s team to do something on a different schedule, on a different plan than they had in place for years, and they moved heaven and earth and done it, and it’s remarkable to see.”

A11 Bionic six-core chip has two performance cores that are 25 percent faster, and four high-efficiency cores that are 70 percent faster, than the A10 chip in iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Early benchmarks suggest the A11 Bionic is even on par with the performance of Apple’s latest 13-inch MacBook Pro models.

The A11 chip is more efficient at multi-threaded tasks thanks to a second-generation performance controller that is able to access all six of the cores simultaneously if a particular task demands it.

Gaming might use more cores, said Srouji, but something as simple as predictive texting, where the system suggests the next word to type, can tap into the high-performance CPUs, as well.

The A11 chip also has an Apple-designed neural engine that handles facial recognition for Face ID and Animoji, and other machine learning algorithms. The dual-core engine recognizes people, places, and objects, and processes machine learning tasks at up to 600 billion operations per second, according to Apple.

“When you look at applications and software, there are certain algorithms that are better off using a functional programming model,” said Srouji.

This includes the iPhone X’s new face tracking and Face ID as well as the augmented-reality-related object detection. All of them use neural networks, machine learning or deep learning (which is part of machine learning). This kind of neural processing could run on a CPU or, preferably, a GPU. “But for these neural networking kinds of programming models, implementing custom silicon that’s targeted for that application, that will perform the exact same tasks, is much more energy efficient than a graphics engine,” said Srouji.

Apple’s new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X are all equipped with an A11 chip.

In related news, Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science has announced that Srouji will take part in a distinguished industry lecture on Monday, September 18 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. local time.

Full Interview: The Inside Story of the iPhone X ‘Brain,’ the A11 Bionic Chip

OnePlus 6 release date and rumours: What will next year’s OnePlus handset look like?

OnePlus has completely disrupted the market with its series of excellent but affordable smartphones. The recently released OnePlus 5 continues in that tradition – albeit at a higher price than we’ve become accustomed to.

This week, the Chinese company set minds racing by announcing a mystery event in Paris on 19 September: a new collection in collaboration with French designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. Could this be something OnePlus 6 related? Almost certainly not. The clever

Almost certainly not. It could plausibly relate to a OnePlus 3T style device – a placeholder between two handsets – but even a OnePlus 5T seems a touch unlikely, given the timeframe that would be involved. The OnePlus 5 only came out in June, after all. It more likely relates to a special edition OnePlus 5, but we can dream.

As you might expect, there’s not much to say about the OnePlus 6 yet. But we’ve got to start somewhere, and at the very least there are some interesting discussion points…

OnePlus 6: Rumours

There aren’t really any rumours yet. The closest we’ve come to one is OnePlus founder Carl Pei asking a Reddit user where they preferred the fingerprint reader. I mean, it’s interesting that he’s open minded on the topic, but it’s hardly the basis of a convincing rumour.

Other than that, we’re expecting the OnePlus 6 to stick with the dual lens camera, given the success of the model on the OnePlus 5. Rumours of a bump to a 2K screen have been doing the rounds for several generations now, and once again they’re in full flow here. In support: most flagship phones hit that level, and if you want a device for VR, it’s a sensible strategy. The case against: it’s more expensive, hits battery and isn’t that helpful for 95% of smartphone use cases.

We think they’re sticking with the headphone jack though. Carl Pei once put the idea to his Twitter followers in an informal poll, and it was roundly defeated.

OnePlus 6: Release date

The OnePlus One launched in April 2014. The OnePlus 2 was July 2015, and the OnePlus 3 appeared in June 2016. The OnePlus 3T bucked the trend with a November 2016 launch, but it was an incremental update, before the OnePlus 5 arrived in June 2017.

With that in mind, June-July 2018 seems pretty likely to us – unless they treat us to a OnePlus 5T.

OnePlus 6: Price

This is where it gets a bit tricky.

The series has undergone some serious price hikes since its debut in 2014, jumping from £229 to £450 in three years.

It could get worse. In a recent Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), Pei suggested the company could consider making a smartphone that costs over $800 (~£612). “Costs are increasing YoY, we only make flagship products, and we don’t believe in selling products at a loss,” Pei explained.

With these two factors in mind, you’d be foolish to bet on the price dropping below £450 – but it may not go too much higher, as the company clearly still plans to undercut. With that in mind, I’d predict a handset that costs around £500 when it launches – but as ever, we’ll be updating this piece when we know more.

1 Artificial Intelligence Stock That Turned $3,000 Into More Than $40,000 in 5 Years — Is It Still a Buy? | Business Markets and Stocks News

If you invested $3,000 in graphics-chip specialist NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) five years ago, you’d now be sitting on top of $40,200 — assuming you reinvested your modest dividends.

This is an incredible haul considering the broader market would have turned your $3,000 into about $5,800.

Let’s look at what’s happened with NVIDIA in recent years to cause investors to drive up the price of its stock, with an eye towards determining if the stock still looks like an attractive buy today.

Image source: Getty Images.

Transformation from just a chipmaker into an AI player

NVIDIA stock’s tremendous price rise in recent years has been well-earned, as the company has been posting massive growth in revenue and earnings. This growth has largely been driven by NVIDIA’s successful transition from a company heavily focused on graphics processing units (GPUs) for gaming and professional visualization applications into a company that’s also a player in the burgeoning artificial intelligence (AI) space.

It turns out that the company’s GPUs are great at training artificial neural networks how to think like humans, a developing category of AI called deep learning. Once this became clear to NVIDIA’s founder, CEO Jensen Huang, he began aggressively focusing the company’s efforts on optimizing its GPUs for AI applications — a fact that demonstrates the company’s nimbleness.

NVIDIA’s traditional gaming market has been performing very well — revenue jumped 52% year over year in the second quarter of fiscal 2018, accounting for just over 53% of total revenue — and its professional visualization market has been performing solidly. However, it’s the company’s AI-driven data-center business that is its most powerful growth engine, with revenue in this market platform soaring 175% year over year last quarter. The data-center segment blew by professional visualization in revenue size over the last year and is now NVIDIA’s second-largest business; it accounted for nearly 19% of total revenue last quarter.

NVIDIA’s smallest target market platform, auto, is at the cusp of benefiting big from AI. In the spring of 2016, the company began shipping its DRIVE PX 2 AI platform, a supercomputer for processing and making sense of the data taken in by semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles. NVIDIA has notched several huge wins in this space. In October, electric-vehicle maker Tesla began using DRIVE PX 2 to power its autopilot on all new vehicles. In 2017, automakers Toyota, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo announced plans to use DRIVE PX 2 to power their autonomous driving systems in vehicles planned for market introduction. And Chinese search engine giant Baidu announced this summer that it’s adopting the platform for its driverless vehicles initiative and partnerships.

A pretty picture of the past, but how does NVIDIA stock look now? 

NVIDIA stock is pricey based on Wall Street analysts’ earnings estimates. It’s trading at 42.9 times analysts’ projected forward earnings, and it sports a five-year PEG (P/E to projected earnings growth five years out) of 3.6. (For some context, fellow chipmaker Intel has a five-year PEG of 1.4.) 

However, I don’t place much stock (pardon the pun) in analysts’ forward earnings estimates. As a group, they’ve been significantly underestimating NVIDIA’s earnings for quite some time — by percentages ranging from 19.3% to 45.6% in the last four quarters, for instance. So it seems much more likely than not that this dynamic will continue — and if it does, then the stock will prove to be not as pricey as suggested by the forward valuations. 

Analysts expect NVIDIA’s earnings to jump 40.6% year over year in the current year and then slow to an average annual growth rate of just 12.9% over the next five years. The odds are highly in favor of that 12.9% proving to be too conservative, in my opinion. This is a company that has a leading position in AI-driven data centers and driverless car applications, and it is poised to get a nice boost once virtual reality and augmented reality take off. That’s not to mention NVIDIA’s leading position in supplying graphics cards for gaming, which is booming thanks to esports and other factors, or the recent tailwind it’s been getting from the rising prices and popularity of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. (GPUs, as it turns out, are great at mining cryptocurrencies.) 

NVIDIA stock could pull back over the short or intermediate term, as it’s due for a breather. The market might do what it often does — overreact — when growth slows next year, as it almost surely will because the year-over-year comparables are going to be mighty tough. However, if NVIDIA’s GPU-based approach to deep learning remains the favored approach (or even one of several favored approaches, as competition surely will heat up) to this subcategory of AI, then investors should be richly rewarded over the long term. AI promises to be gargantuan and touch just about all industries. 

NVIDIA is certainly not a stock to bet your house on, but it has a good risk-reward profile for those who have a longer-term investing outlook and are comfortable with a moderate amount of risk and volatility. 

10 stocks we like better than NVIDIA

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Beth McKenna owns shares of NVIDIA. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Baidu, Facebook, Netflix, NVIDIA, and Tesla. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Iphone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Apple’s new hero towards this year’s most effective mobile phone

The Iphone X is here, and it’s all-transform for Apple, with the most recent flagship sporting a wholly new style and design, a enormous screen, vastly enhanced specs and a lot of new capabilities.

It is set to be a killer mobile phone in other terms, but the Iphone X is not the initially extraordinary handset to land this 12 months, as the monstrous Samsung Galaxy S8 has experienced a big head-commence.

That too has a large screen, a wonderful style and design and masses of high-tech capabilities – so just how do these two telephones examine? To remedy that we have put them head to head across a assortment of classes.

Iphone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8 style and design

The Iphone X has rather a good deal in frequent with the Samsung Galaxy S8 from a style and design standpoint, as the two telephones have a metal frame and a glass back, as perfectly as barely any bezel about their screens.

In the Iphone X’s case the only authentic bezel is a smaller ‘notch’ at the best of the display screen, wherever you’ll discover the front-facing digital camera and sensors. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is not rather as no cost of muddle, with a slender strip higher than and under the screen, but there’s continue to little other than the display screen on the front.

The largest change when viewing the telephones front-on although is that the Samsung Galaxy S8’s display screen curves about the edges, whilst the Iphone X’s doesn’t.

From the back the two telephones are quite basic-searching, with the most important element remaining a solitary-lens digital camera and fingerprint scanner in the Galaxy S8’s case, and a dual-lens digital camera in the Iphone X’s, with the two telephones also sporting business logos on the rear.

The two telephones are a lot more long lasting than they could possibly glance, as the Galaxy S8 is IP68-certified, which means it can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of drinking water for up to 30 minutes, whilst the Iphone X is seemingly drinking water- and dust-resistant to a ‘microscopic’ degree.

Perhaps the most clear visual change although is the colors you can get these two telephones in. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is offered in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue and Maple Gold (although not all shades are offered almost everywhere), whilst the Iphone X is launching in just House Gray and Silver.

Iphone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8 display screen

The two the Iphone X and Samsung Galaxy S8 have 5.8-inch OLED screens, and the two also guidance HDR written content and fill almost the entire front of the mobile phone, so there’s a good deal of similarity there, but there are a lot of differences too, the most quickly clear remaining the reality that the S8’s is curved, whilst the Iphone X’s is flat.

They are also unique resolutions, with the Iphone X coming in at 2436 x 1125 for 458 pixels for every inch, whilst the Samsung Galaxy S8’s screen is 1440 x 2960 for 570 pixels for every inch, so Samsung’s mobile phone is better-resolution and sharper.

But the Iphone X has a Real Tone display screen, which adjusts the white stability to match your setting.

Other differences incorporate the approaches you can interact with their screens. The Iphone X has 3D Touch, which lets you display screen unique menus or interact with apps in unique approaches dependent on no matter whether you use a light or major tap. It also has gesture controls in put of the property button.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 in the meantime lets you swipe across the curved edges to convey up menus and shortcuts to apps, contacts or any quantity of other points you could possibly want speedy accessibility to.

Iphone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8 OS and electrical power

The Iphone makes use of Apple’s manufacturer-new A11 Bionic chipset. It is a six-core a person and by much Apple’s quickest mobile chipset still. There is no term still on how considerably RAM the Iphone X has, but rumors pegged it at 3GB.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 in the meantime has an octa-core chipset (a Snapdragon 835 in the US or an Exynos 8895 elsewhere) and 4GB of RAM.

Although individuals numbers could possibly seem even bigger, Apple’s telephones by no means fall short to impress from a electrical power standpoint, so we’re self-confident the Iphone X will give the S8 a operate for its income. We’ll let you know accurately how highly effective it seems as soon as we have experienced some time with it.

Although the Galaxy S8 is really highly effective and the Iphone X almost undoubtedly is too, a person essential change involving them is the amount of money of storage they have. For the Iphone 8 you can decide on involving a 64GB and 256GB.

For the Samsung Galaxy S8 there’s only a 64GB sizing, but you also get a microSD card slot with guidance for playing cards of up to 256GB, which the Iphone X doesn’t have.

And of course, the two telephones also have unique working units. The Iphone X runs iOS 11, whilst the Samsung Galaxy S8 runs Android Nougat.

The two are really polished, modern day mobile working units and the two telephones are possible to get up-to-date to new OS versions – although the Iphone X will possible get them on day a person, whilst the S8 will have to hold out, as it’s at present doing for Android Oreo.

Iphone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8 digital camera and battery

The Iphone X has a 12MP dual-lens digital camera, like the Iphone 7 Furthermore, even though not accurately like it, as Apple’s new digital camera has a several new competencies.

As perfectly as remaining usable to produce a bokeh effect by blurring the background of pictures, the Iphone X’s digital camera also has optical impression stabilization on the two lenses, to help hold your pictures continuous and in target.

Movie has also been upgraded, with 4K movie at ready to be shot at up to 60fps and 1080p slo-mo movie at 240fps.

Additional considerably although, it also sports augmented reality (AR) capabilities opening up a globe of new possibilities in apps, from viewing constellations occur to lifestyle in front of you to taking part in AR video games on your desk.

Close to the front you can find a 7MP digital camera, which also has the capability to use depth of area effects. And it incorporates a 3D facial area scanner, so you can unlock your mobile phone just by searching at it. This is supposedly really innovative, as it should really be ready to understand you even if you transform your hair or have on a hat, still won’t be fooled by a picture.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 just has a solitary lens 12MP digital camera on the back, but it too incorporates optical impression stabilization and can acquire wonderful, detailed pictures, served by its substantial f/1.7 aperture, which signifies a lot more light can get in than on quite a few smartphone cameras. 4K movie is capped at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps, but there’s also a able 8MP front-facing digital camera.

And it has a facial area scanner of its have, although it’s less innovative than Apple’s acquire, as it only scans a 2D impression of your facial area.

Apple hasn’t unveiled the Iphone X’s battery sizing, but has reported it will very last for 2 hours more time than the Iphone 7. It also supports wi-fi charging, which is a initially for an Apple mobile phone.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 has a 3,000mAh battery and that too supports wi-fi charging, as perfectly as fast charging. In our exams, we located it to easily very last a day or a lot more of moderate use involving prices, but like so quite a few other telephones you’ll likely need to have to plug it in when you go to mattress.

Iphone X vs Samsung Galaxy S8 cost

The Iphone X commences at $999/£999/AU$1,579 for the 64GB model and will also be offered in a 256GB sizing for $1,149/£1,149/AU$1,829.

That is a good deal of income. Even a lot more in reality than the Samsung Galaxy S8, which expenditures $725/£639/AU$1,199, although can be located for less if you store about.

Takeaway

These two behemoths are a lot more related than you could possibly hope, as the two the Iphone X and the Samsung Galaxy S8 have a 5.8-inch screen, a glass back, drinking water resistance, wi-fi charging and a lot of electrical power.

But there are continue to a lot of differences. The Iphone X is flat whilst the Galaxy S8 is curved, the Iphone X has a dual-lens digital camera whilst the Galaxy S8’s is a solitary lens a person, the Iphone X has a lot more storage but no microSD card slot, and the Iphone X runs iOS, whilst the Samsung Galaxy S8 runs Android. And individuals are just the headline differences.

As for which is much better, perfectly, you’ll just have to hold out for our total Iphone X critique and the position it usually takes in our most effective telephones chart to discover that out.