Welcome back from what was hopefully a nice long weekend. We've got our verdict on Google's Pixel Buds, more news on that massive Yahoo data breach, and Time Inc.'s further struggles. Oh, and some new NASA tires inspired by chainmail.
The US may find it hard to catch the Russians accused of participating in the massive 2014 Yahoo breach, but a third culprit appears ready to cooperate. Canadian citizen Karim Baratov is slated to appear for a "change of plea" hearing on November 28th, indicating that he's likely to plead guilty to helping Russian officers (Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin) swipe 500 million Yahoo accounts.
Chris Velazco ended up unimpressed by Google's $159 Pixel Buds, even with good results from their built-in translation feature and solid four- to five-hours of battery life. Finicky touch controls, an inability to block out ambient noise and hit-or-miss access to Google Assistant resulted in a package that's promising, but still experimental.
NASA's modern tech couldn't save the Mars Curiosity rover's tires from breaking down in the harsh conditions of Mars. For future missions, the agency has gone back to the age of knights. Based on the principles of chainmail armor, the Superelastic tires can withstand more deformation than any other non-pneumatic tire. At the same time, they could potentially withstand extraplanetary abuse and provide better traction for next-generation rovers.
It's no secret that bots flooded the FCC with comments supporting its plans to kill net neutrality. But just how many comments were fraudulent? All too many, according to data scientist Jeff Kao. He recently conducted a study that used natural language processing to conclude that "at least" 1.3 million of the anti-net neutrality comments were fakes originating from a central source.
The actual number of fake grassroots (aka astroturfing) comments is likely to be considerably higher, Kao added. Out of 22 million total comments, only 800,000 appear to be genuinely original -- and 99 percent of them support net neutrality. There were form letter campaigns on both sides, but anti-neutrality comments were more likely to be duplicates and submitted in large blocks, which suggested targeted spamming efforts instead of real submissions from concerned Americans.
Meredith Corp. has announced a $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc., finally closing the deal after buyout attempts in 2013 and earlier this year were unsuccessful. With financial backing from billionaires Charles and David Koch, this combines the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle with the Time brand that includes Sports Illustrated, People, Fortune and... MySpace.
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