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      What I learned when I replaced my cheap Pi 5 PC with a no-name Amazon mini desktop

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 1 April - 13:39 · 1 minute

    Two cheapo Intel mini PCs, a Raspberry Pi 5, and an Xbox controller for scale.

    Enlarge / Two cheapo Intel mini PCs, a Raspberry Pi 5, and an Xbox controller for scale. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    I recently tried to use a Raspberry Pi 5 as a regular desktop PC . The experiment wasn't a failure—I was able to use a Pi to get most of my work done for a few days. But the device's performance, and especially the relative immaturity of the Linux's Arm software ecosystem, meant that there were lots of incompatibilities and rough edges.

    One of the problems with trying to use a Pi 5 as a regular desktop computer is that, by the time you've paid for the 8GB version of the board, a decent active cooler and case, and (ideally) some kind of M.2 storage attachment and SSD, you've spent close to a couple of hundred dollars on the system. That's not a ton of money to spend on a desktop PC, but it is enough that the Pi no longer feels miraculously cheap, and there are actually other, more flexible competitors worth considering.

    Consider the selection of sub-$200 mini desktop PCs that litter the online storefronts of Amazon and AliExpress. Though you do need to roll the dice on low-to-no-name brands like Beelink, GMKTec, Firebat, BMax, Trigkey, or Bosgame, it's actually possible to buy a reasonably capable desktop system with 8GB to 16GB of RAM, 256GB or 512GB of storage, a Windows 11 license, and a workaday x86-based Intel CPU for as little as $107, though Amazon pricing usually runs closer to $170.

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      After the Concorde, a long road back to supersonic air travel

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 29 March - 10:45

    NASA's and Lockheed Martin's X-59 experimental supersonic jet is unveiled during a ceremony in Palmdale, California, on January 12, 2024.

    Enlarge / NASA's and Lockheed Martin's X-59 experimental supersonic jet is unveiled during a ceremony in Palmdale, California, on January 12, 2024. (credit: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

    When Chuck Yeager reached Mach 1 on October 14, 1947, the entire frame of his Bell X-1 aircraft suddenly started to shake, and the controls went. A crew observing the flight in a van on the ground reported hearing something like a distant, rolling thunder. They were probably the first people on Earth to hear a boom made by a supersonic aircraft.

    The boom felt like an innocent curiosity at first but soon turned into a nightmare. In no time, supersonic jets—F-100 Super Sabers, F-101 Voodoos, and B-58 Hustlers—came to Air Force bases across the US, and with them came the booms. Proper, panes-flying-off-the windows supersonic booms. People filed over 40,000 complaints about nuisance and property damage caused by booming jets, which eventually ended up with the Federal Aviation Administration imposing a Mach 1 speed limit for flights over land in 1973.

    Now, NASA wants this ban to go. It has started the Quesst mission to go fast over American cities once more. But this time, it wants to do it quietly.

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      The Ars Technica guide to keyboards: Mechanical, membrane, and buckling springs

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 27 March - 11:00

    The Ars Technica guide to keyboards: Mechanical, membrane, and buckling springs

    Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

    Your keyboard is the thread that connects you to your computer. The way a keyboard feels—from the sensations of each key pressing down and resetting to the build of the board’s chassis—has a direct impact on your typing experience, affecting accuracy, speed, and fatigue.

    We’ve dug into the joys of quality keyboards and the thrills of customization at Ars Technica before. But what really makes one type of keyboard feel better than another? People say membrane keyboards feel mushy, but why ? And what about keyboards with cult-like followings? What makes decades-old IBM keyboards or expensive Topres so special?

    In this guide, we’ll look at how some of the most popular keyboard categories work and how their differences impact typing feel.

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      Super Mario Maker’s “final boss” was a fraud all along

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 26 March - 11:00 · 1 minute

    When good robots fall into the wrong hands, bad things can happen...

    When good robots fall into the wrong hands, bad things can happen... (credit: Aurich Lawson | Nintendo)

    The Super Mario Maker community and "Team 0%" have declared victory in their years-long effort to clear every user-submitted level in the original Wii U game before the servers shut off for good on April 8 . That victory declaration comes despite the fact that no human player has yet to clear "Trimming the Herbs" (TTH), the ultra-hard level that gained notoriety this month as what was thought to be the final "uncleared" level in the game.

    This strange confluence of events is the result of an admission by Ahoyo, the creator of Trimming the Herbs, who came clean Friday evening regarding his use of automated, tool-assisted speedrun (TAS) methods in creating the level. That means he was able to use superhuman capabilities like slow-motion, rewinding, and frame advance to pre-record the precise set of perfectly timed inputs needed to craft the "creator clear" that was necessary to upload the level in the first place.

    Ahoyo's video of a "creator clear" for Trimming the Herbs, which he now admits was created using TAS methods.

    "I’m sorry for the drama [my level] caused within the community, and I regret the ordeal," Ahoyo wrote on the Team 0% Discord and social media . "But at least it was interesting. However in the end the truth matters most. Congratulations to Team 0% for their well-earned achievement!"

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      Elon Musk’s improbable path to making X an “everything app”

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 25 March - 11:00

    Elon Musk’s improbable path to making X an “everything app”

    Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | NurPhoto / Getty Images)

    X used to be called Twitter, but soon it will become "the Everything App," and that day is "closer than everyone thinks," X CEO Linda Yaccarino promised in one of her first X posts of 2024.

    "Nothing can slow us down," Yaccarino said.

    Turning Twitter into an everything app is arguably the reason that Elon Musk purchased Twitter. He openly craved the success of the Chinese everything app WeChat, telling Twitter staff soon after purchasing the app that "you basically live on WeChat in China because it’s so usable and helpful to daily life, and I think if we can achieve that, or even get close to that at Twitter, it would be an immense success,” The Guardian reported .

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      Testing the 2024 BMW M2—maybe the last M car with a manual transmission

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Saturday, 23 March - 11:00 · 1 minute

    A pale blue BMW M2 seen parked in the hills

    Enlarge / BMW's M2 might be the last M car it builds with three pedals and a stick shift. (credit: Peter Nelson)

    We're at an interesting crossroads in the high-performance enthusiast car market. Running east to west is the adoption of electric vehicles and a slow reduction in internal combustion engine car production. North to south is the progression of ICE horsepower from the factory over the years, and it's unclear how far it continues from here. Coming in diagonally is the weakening demand for manual transmissions—this is sadly where they end.

    In the middle of this intersection is the 2024 BMW M2 six-speed manual, hanging its tail out in a massive controlled drift around the edges, expressing one last hurrah as BMW's final object of internal-combustion M car affection.

    I recently had the opportunity to pilot BMW's latest, smallest M car through some of Southern California's most fun mountain roads, plus Willow Springs International Raceway's Streets of Willow circuit. When it comes to quickly figuring out this kind of car's powertrain and chassis, I can't think of a better mix of pavement. Here's what makes the latest—and last—six-speed-manual-equipped M2 generation an overall excellent enthusiast coupe.

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      Unpatchable vulnerability in Apple chip leaks secret encryption keys

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 21 March - 14:40 · 1 minute

    Apple's M1 chip.

    Enlarge / Apple's M1 chip. (credit: Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

    A newly discovered vulnerability baked into Apple’s M-series of chips allows attackers to extract secret keys from Macs when they perform widely used cryptographic operations, academic researchers have revealed in a paper published Thursday.

    The flaw—a side channel allowing end-to-end key extractions when Apple chips run implementations of widely used cryptographic protocols—can’t be patched directly because it stems from the microarchitectural design of the silicon itself. Instead, it can only be mitigated by building defenses into third-party cryptographic software that could drastically degrade M-series performance when executing cryptographic operations, particularly on the earlier M1 and M2 generations. The vulnerability can be exploited when the targeted cryptographic operation and the malicious application with normal user system privileges run on the same CPU cluster.

    Beware of hardware optimizations

    The threat resides in the chips’ data memory-dependent prefetcher, a hardware optimization that predicts the memory addresses of data that running code is likely to access in the near future. By loading the contents into the CPU cache before it’s actually needed, the DMP, as the feature is abbreviated, reduces latency between the main memory and the CPU, a common bottleneck in modern computing. DMPs are a relatively new phenomenon found only in M-series chips and Intel's 13th-generation Raptor Lake microarchitecture, although older forms of prefetchers have been common for years.

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      The Super Mario Maker community faces its final boss

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 19 March - 10:30 · 1 minute

    "Trimming the Herbs," mapped above, is all that stands between  "Team 0%" and its ultimate goal of clearing every <em>Super Mario Maker</em> level.

    Enlarge / "Trimming the Herbs," mapped above, is all that stands between "Team 0%" and its ultimate goal of clearing every Super Mario Maker level. (credit: Is SMM Beaten Yet? )

    As of late 2017, there were almost 85,000 "uncleared" levels in the original Wii U Super Mario Maker ( SMM )—levels that had never been beaten by anyone except for their original uploaders. As of this writing, a group of persistent players gathered under the banner of "Team 0%" has spent years narrowing the list of uncleared levels to a single entry—a devious, Super Mario World -styled Bob-omb bounce-and-throw gauntlet named "Trimming the Herbs" (the second-to-last uncleared level went down on Thursday, March 14, as noted on the excellent "Is SMM Beaten Yet?" tracker ).

    Given enough time, Team 0% would undoubtedly be able to bring down SMM 's "final boss," as it were. But the collective effort to finally and completely "beat" SMM has an external deadline: April 8, the day Nintendo has announced that it plans to finally shut down the aging Wii U's gameplay servers .

    The next three weeks will determine whether Team 0% can live up to its moniker or if this one final level will leave the team just short of its ultimate achievement. "I’d never think we would be this close to actually achieving this goal," Team 0% founder Jeffie told Ars Technica recently. "How often does a community of gamers do something like this?"

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      Here’s what we know about the Audi Q6 e-tron and its all-new EV platform

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 18 March - 18:00 · 1 minute

    An Audi A6 seen in a studio

    Enlarge / This is Audi's next electric vehicle, the Q6 e-tron SUV. (credit: Audi)

    Audi provided flights from Washington to Munich and accommodations so Ars could get a deep dive into the Q6 e-tron. Ars does not accept paid editorial content.

    MUNICH—Audi's new electric car platform is an important one for the company. Debuting in the new 2025 Q6 e-tron, it will provide the bones for many new electric Audis— not to mention Porsches and even Lamborghinis and Bentleys—in the coming years. Its development hasn't been entirely easy, either; software delays got in the way of plans to have cars in customer hands in 2023. But now the new Q6 e-tron is ready to meet the world.

    There's some rather interesting technology integrated into the Q6 e-tron's new electric vehicle architecture. Called PPE, or Premium Platform Electric, it's been designed with flexibility in mind. Audi took the role of leading its development within Volkswagen Group, but the other brands within that corporate empire that target the upper end of the car market will also build EVs with PPE.

    Since SUVs are still super-popular, Audi is kicking off the PPE era with an SUV. But the platform allows for other sizes and shapes—next year, we should see the A6 sedan and, if we're really lucky, an A6 Avant station wagon .

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