With the first Battlefield game launching back in 2002, it’s strange to think that it’s taken 15 years for the franchise to include a female class. Yet, unfortunately, this isn’t just a Battlefield specific problem, but arguably a genre one. Online shooters have a bit of a reputation of being a boy’s club, and with female characters still a rare sight in most first person shooters, adding women into the mix is still seen as just as much of a milestone as changing the game’s setting.
Thankfully, things are changing. Overwatch is a shooter that features a brilliant mix of genders and ethnicities without feeling like a cynical box-ticking exercise, and unsurprisingly, women are flocking to the game. With angry gamers on Twitter ironically complaining about the inclusion of female soldiers in Battlefield 1 not being historically accurate, it begs the question, why are so many male gamers threatened by the idea of women in video games?
“They’ve got no idea I used my phone to hack the OS on that printer over there,” Christian “The Wolf” Slater snarled from the offices of the fictional Pierce Arthur Monroe Financial. “And why would they? Not one printer in this place has built-in malware protection.”
My goodness — you’re right, Christian! They didn’t! But your guidance taught us the error of our ways.
Now, Christian Slater is back for Season 2 of “The Wolf,” and this time he’s… on a boat. And messing with people’s e-health records. And stealing flowers? Anyway, it premiered at Cannes.
We have a lot of questions. Who keeps letting him into these offices? Why is he so hell-bent on bringing down the world via networked printers? And can anybody actually see him, or is he just some kind of fear amalgam dreamt up by the folks at HP to keep information security officers awake at night?
“The local production of batteries is an important success factor in our electric offensive and a crucial element in order to flexibly and efficiently serve the global demand for electric vehicles,” Mercedes board member Markus Schäfer said.
The new plant will also be environmentally conscious. Mercedes says that the facility will be carbon-dioxide neutral, achieving that with a combined heat-and-power plant and solar power.
This new factory is an important step for Mercedes. It doesn’t want to sit on the wayside and let Tesla rule the road for high-end electric vehicles, and recently split ways with Elon Musk’s company; Tesla supplied batteries and drivetrains for Mercedes. Rather than paying someone else for their battery tech, Mercedes is investing in itself. And, if it wanted to, could use the expanded production to license the tech to others without impacting its own needs.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says Dallas looked to lose as much as it could once the team was out of postseason contention this season.
“Once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything possible to lose games,” Cuban said on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday.
Cuban said the primary way to ensure the Mavericks would lose was to play their young players, including Yogi Ferrell, Nerlens Noel and Dorian Finney-Smith — three players with less than three years of experience who averaged more than 20 minutes per game for Dallas this season.
The Mavericks owner acknowledged that it wasn’t the players who were throwing games.
“Once a guy walks on the court, they’re going to play their heart out,” Cuban said. “Particularly the young guys because they have something to prove.”
Dallas started an injury-marred season 3-15 and never got closer than eight games below .500.
The Mavericks were officially eliminated from the playoffs April 1. They went 2-5 after that to finish 33-49 on the season.
They weren’t able to cash in on their 6.1 percent odds of landing a top-three pick through the lottery and will select ninth overall in next month’s draft.
Cuban didn’t give a ringing endorsement to the lottery system in his comments to Patrick.
“It works well enough, I guess,” Cuban said of the lottery. “It obviously creates some misincentives toward the end of the season for teams that aren’t going to make the playoffs. Until you come up with a better solution, that’s what we’ve got.”
The little iPhone’s a year old, but it’s still the best budget iPhone. Just remember that the iPhone 8 is around the corner.
by Scott Stein
The iPhone SE may not have all the bells and whistles of the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t happy with it. A recent survey conducted by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) ranked the iPhone SE as the no. 1 smartphone based on customer satisfaction.
The results seems to go against the grain of phonemakers, who nowadays are making phones larger and larger. Screens are growing (and in some cases, curving) while bezels shrink, leaving smaller phones behind.
But the ASCI survey suggests that this trend may be out of touch with consumers. The iPhone SE scored 87 out of 100 on the survey’s consumer satisfaction index, beating out other bigger and more premium models like the iPhone 7 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Note 5. The survey also ranked Apple as the top phone manufacturer for customer satisfaction.
The survey doesn’t go into detail about how people determined their satisfaction with the phones. When the SE launched, it received criticism for its recycled iPhone 4 design and low 16GB memory capacity.
But the SE’s lower price might be a factor in the higher satisfaction rates. Or perhaps iPhone SE users already don’t expect high-end features from the phone.
Whatever the reasoning, it seems like Apple was not off the mark for revisiting the SE earlier this year, after the phone’s initial release in 2016. The company is also speculated to release the special 10th anniversary iPhone 8, which is rumored to have several new features including a new OLED screen. While this is exciting to some, others may be just as satisfied with the no-frills iPhone SE.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Volvo XC60’s formula is a simple one that we mostly saw coming. Take the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that underpins the larger 90 Series of Volvo cars and SUVs and, well, scale it down to the next smaller class. It’s what this platform was designed to do, after all.
Here’s where things get interesting. Most automakers would have also scaled down the powertrain options or at least slightly detuned the engine to give the larger more expensive siblings some sort of performance advantage, but not Volvo. Someone at Volvo — probably named Sven, Håkan or Torbjörn — just decided to chuck the same turbocharged, supercharged and hybridized powertrains into the lighter cars, leaving the XC60 with an even better power-to-weight ratio! Crazy Swedes!
The sexy XC60
The XC60 steps down in scale from the XC90. It’s about 10.3 inches shorter overall with a wheelbase that’s about 4.7 inches shy of its older sibling. This means that the XC60’s cabin is a two-row affair, but also that the more compact SUV should squeeze into urban areas just a tad better.
Outside, the basic design language is familiar with a few changes and tweaks: The Hammer of Thor headlight graphics now reach out and touch the grille, which now bulges outward with a convex design. Versus the outgoing XC60 model, the newbie has a much longer hood and shorter overhangs at both ends. Physically, it is longer and lower to the ground than before, but the new design really accentuates and exaggerates this new model’s sportier ambitions.
2018 Volvo XC60 takes everything good…
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Out back, the tail lights retain the vertical design we’ve seen both on the XC90 and the old XC60, but adds in the horizontal elements from the V90 wagon and V90 CrossCountry, giving the rear illumination an “L” shape. The more I look at it, the XC60 reminds me more of a more vertical V90 than a shrunken XC90, but all three vehicles share so much in their construction and design that it works either way.
Turbocharged and supercharged performance
In addition to design, the XC60 shares the 90 Series’ Volvo SPA platform underpinnings. This modular system was designed to be scalable, the XC60 features the same basic front and rear suspensions (with tweaks to compensate for the differences in weight, size and character) and the same set of four-cylinder powertrains as the larger XC90 with the same T5, T6 and T8 designations.
The base T5 model is a 250-horsepower, 258-pound-foot turbocharged 2.0-liter with an eight-speed transmission and Volvo’s all-wheel drive system.
I was able to test the midrange T6 model with its 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine. Peak power is stated at 360 ponies and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is identical to that of the XC90, but with about 580 fewer pounds of vehicle to push around. As a result, the XC60’s acceleration feels noticeably better on the road. It’s not the “driver’s car” that Volvo claims it is — truthfully, no small SUV in this class is — but I found the XC60 to be a very pleasant ride.
Speaking of the ride, all XC60 models feature the same double-wishbone front suspension and multilink rear with the automaker’s composite leaf spring setup. I wasn’t able to test this exact setup because my T6 featured the optional air suspension, which replaces the hydraulic dampers and coil and leaf springs with height-adjustable pneumatic springs and dampers. The air suspension is nice and cushy in its Comfort mode and rides as firmly as I remember the SPA platform’s fixed suspension in its Sport mode. Plus, you gain the ability to raise the ride height by up to 1.6 inches to traverse rough terrain, or lower it by just as much to make entering or exiting the SUV easier when parked. The air suspension also auto-levels on uneven terrain and auto-lowers at high speeds to improve stability.
Joining the T5 and T6 after their launch August 2017 US launch will be the T8 eAWD plug-in hybrid model. The addition of a 65 kW electric motor to the mix bumps the hybrid’s output to an impressive 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, a 10.4 kWh battery pack grants about 28 miles of pure electric range with every full charge. If you’ve got the extra dough, it’ll be worth waiting the extra month to test drive this one when it launches in September.
Pilot Assist steering tech
Volvo’s a brand that stakes its reputation on safety and safety technology, so it’s no surprise to see the XC60 boast the same loadout of active and passive safety and driver aid features as the 90 Series vehicles. However, the 60 hits the road with a trio of new steering assist feathers in its safety tech cap.
Oncoming lane mitigation is an evolution of lane-departure prevention that can detect when the XC60 is drifting over the center line into an oncoming lane of traffic and automatically steer the SUV back into its lane to prevent a head-on collision.
BLIS with Steering Assist evolves from a passive blind-spot monitoring system into an active assist, steering the XC60 back into its lane when it detects that you’re about to change lanes and collide with another vehicle.
Finally, the City Safety pedestrian, vehicle and large animal collision avoidance system also gains Steering Assist, which uses differential braking and electric steering intervention to help the driver to steer the XC60 away from or around an obstacle as effectively as possible. It even has the ability to add a bit of countersteer with differential braking at the end of a severe evasive maneuver to stabilize the SUV.
These new features only really kick in when you’re about to hit something, so I never got to test them. However, I was able to spend a few miles with the available Pilot Assist II steering assistance and adaptive cruise control active and came away with mixed feelings. The system requires the driver to keep their hands on the wheel at all time — it’s an assist, not a pilot replacement — and I found it weird and a bit exhausting to feel the steering wheel seem to squirm within my grip as it added torque here and there in an attempt to keep the SUV perfectly centered on the narrow lanes where I did my testing.
On the other hand, I have to give Volvo credit for how well the system performed and how accurately it was able to track the bends of the road, even without a lead vehicle to lock onto. Pilot Assist can be toggled with a single button tap of my thumb, so I found it very easy to flick it on and off when I felt I needed an extra eye on the road. I found that I liked Pilot Assist much more at lower speeds, such as stop-and-go traffic, where the operation is much smoother and more transparent.
Sensus Connect with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
With its horizontal dashboard, vertical 9.3-inch
Sensus display and very car-like driving position, the XC60’s cabin is very similar to the V90 I was able to drive last year.
It’s a good tech setup with a menu system that I found very easy to understand. Sensus is not a perfect software, and the secondary menus accessed by swiping left or right from the home screen can seem a bit cluttered if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But I found the learning curve to be very shallow, and I am a fan of the multipane home screen’s organizational structure. I couldn’t pin down any specifics from Volvo representatives beyond that it’s been “enhanced,” but I’d also swear that this Sensus system felt more responsive to the touch than before.
Like the 90 Series, the XC60 features standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allows the driver to bring their own navigation and audio streaming apps into the dashboard with just a USB connection. Natively, Sensus Connect also supports a selection of onboard apps including Here Local Search, TuneIn, Pandora, Spotify, Glympse, Local Search, Yelp, Weather and Wiki Locations.
About the only aspect of the XC60’s tech that has been diminished relative to the XC90 is the optional Bowers and Wilkins premium audio rig. It steps down to a 15-driver setup with only 1,100 watts of amplification. I jest, but that’s still plenty of power for the smaller cabin space.
Pricing, availability and competition
The 2018 Volvo XC60 arrives in T5 and T6 configurations at dealerships in August 2017 where it will do battle with the likes of BMW’s X3, the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC 300. The XC60 T8 plug-in hybrid will join them a month later in September with its superior power and all-electric range to further mix things up. All-wheel drive will be standard across with front-wheel drive T5 and T6 variants being added later.
Pricing starts at $41,500 for the base T5 Momentum model before a $995 destination charge is added. The price range reaches to $56,700 plus destination for the T8 Inscription and stretches to a fully loaded $68,090 if you check the boxes for all available packages and individual options.
The XC60 is almost a no-brainer recommendation for me. It takes everything that I loved in the XC90 and gives it to me again in a more compact, lighter and more agile package. Volvo has continued to evolve its design and make improvements to its safety tech as it inches toward autonomous driving, but this is mostly a case of not messing with a very good formula.
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