Apple Readies HomePod Amid Speculation About Big Acquisitions

For years, Apple has been reluctant to return the billions of dollars it had stashed overseas and spend it in the U.S. because of the inevitable tax hit. But now everything has changed. Apple this week confirmed that it will repatriate its nearly quarter-trillion-dollar cash hoard and pay $38 billion in taxes on it. The move will free up the remaining sum to be used for investment in the U.S. But some market watchers believe Apple will use a large portion of the cash on an acquisition (or two). Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter Meanwhile, Apple confirmed that it’s planning to open a second campus in the U.S. at… Read More

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No, the Moon can’t help you predict the next earthquake

The popular myth that strong earthquakes happen during certain Moon phases has no basis in science, according to new research. Susan Hough, a scientist at the US Geological Survey, pored over 400 years of data from over 200 earthquakes of magnitude eight or larger. She looked at the day the earthquakes occurred, and what phases the Moon was in. And she found no link between the ground shaking and the position of the Earth and the Moon in the sky, according to a study published this week in Seismological Research Letters. 400 years of data from over 200 large earthquakes Previous research has shown that tides — which are influenced… Read More

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A superstar Chinese hacker just won $112,000 from Google, its largest bug bounty ever

Google just awarded its largest bug bounty ever to a Chinese researcher named Guang Gong. Gong discovered a security issue that affected Pixel phones and received a total payout of $112,500 from Google. But Gong is a pro at hacking Pixel phones — his team gained control of a Pixel phone in 60 seconds at the annual computer-hacking contest Pwn2Own, resulting in a $120,000 prize. A Chinese security researcher just received Google’s largest bug bounty ever. Google announced this week it awarded $112,500 to Guang Gong, a researcher who works for Chinese security giant Qihoo 360. It’s the largest amount Google has awarded since increasing its top payouts for bug… Read More

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Microsoft’s Cortana might be lagging behind Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant — but Microsoft says there’s a master plan (MSFT, AMZN, GOOG, GOOGL)

There’s a lot of skepticism about Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It lags in apps, smart home support, and hardware integrations. However, Microsoft says Cortana isn’t cooked yet: It’s going to come to more devices beyond just Windows 10 PCs, and you’ll see Cortana make more use of Microsoft’s data. Some changes are coming to Cortana on the Windows 10 PC, too, with Microsoft signaling that it’s going to bring Cortana into more parts of the operating system. Microsoft says that its long-promised integration with Amazon Alexa is in the final stages of testing and coming soon. While Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant dominated the conversation… Read More

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First Martians board game makes a powerful case for staying on Earth

Enlarge / The components are (generally) good quality. (credit: Owen Duffy) Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com. For millennia, humans have been captivated by Mars. To the ancient Romans, the “red planet” represented the god of war, presiding over conquest and glory. To the 19th-century astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, it was a world connected by vast canals, evidence of an advanced civilization. Today, our cosmic neighbor is a place to be explored, analyzed, and understood; the prospect of setting foot on Martian soil seems tantalizingly close. But if the board game First Martians is anything to go by,… Read More

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