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Remembering ‘Alien,’ ‘Twin Peaks’ actor Harry Dean Stanton


Harry Dean Stanton plays a doomed engineer in the sci-fi horror “Alien.”

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

There are not a lot of actors whose performances can make me cry and laugh in the same film. But Harry Dean Stanton is one of them. And sadly, the beloved actor has left us forever, dying from natural causes at the age of 91 on Friday. 

Stanton played countless characters since his 1954 debut in the TV show “Inner Sanctum,” but I first came across Stanton when he played the doomed engineering technician Brett, in the sci-fi horror film “Alien” (1979). His character was both hilarious and heartbreaking. 

Stanton’s performance in “Alien” convinced me that if I was trapped on a spaceship fighting deadly creatures, I’d want him in my corner — even if he was constantly complaining about the low pay, poor working conditions and my curious cat.

I loved seeing Stanton play the impatient, grumpy boss Bud in “Repo Man” (1984). While everyone else was watching the movie’s main star Emilio Estevez, my eyes were glued on Stanton, who stole every scene he was in. 


Harry Dean Stanton plays the kind of boss most of us would steer clear from in “Repo Man.” 

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Stanton had a special way of making his characters the most memorable people in everything he was in. In “The Green Mile” (1999), he played the talkative inmate Toot-Toot who could make even the most stoic prison guards laugh.

In the sci-fi film “Escape from New York” (1981), when Stanton played Snake’s double-crossing buddy Harold “Brain” Hellman, you still couldn’t help but root for him a little.

While watching Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer get their young hearts broken in “Pretty in Pink” (1986) — it was actually Stanton’s role as Ringwald’s sad, washed-up, alcoholic father who made me cry the hardest. Stanton brought an adult dose of reality to the classic teen rom-com.

Heck, Stanton even made me sit up and notice when he played a bit part in “The Avengers” (2012) as a concerned security guard coming to the aid of a very confused Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) who was lost after one of his many Hulk benders.

But perhaps, Stanton’s most interesting roles are those in filmmaker David Lynch’s many bizarre cinematic worlds. 

As the Fat Trout Trailer Park owner Carl Rodd in Lynch’s latest “Twin Peaks: The Return” TV series (2017) and earlier in the 1992 prequel film “Twin Peaks: A Fire Walk With Me,” Stanton was at his best. The ragged, no-nonsense, guitar-strumming character Stanton played offered a bit of down-to-earth wisdom to series known for its surreal situations. 


Harry Dean Stanton plays the trailer park owner Carl Rodd in “Twin Peaks: The Return.”


My favorite quote from Stanton as Carl was in “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” when he said, “Goddamn, these people are confusing.” That pretty much sums up “Twin Peaks” right there. 

In addition to the “Twin Peaks” saga, Stanton also starred in Lynch’s other films — “The Cowboy and the Frenchman” (1988), “Wild at Heart” (1990), “The Straight Story” (1999) and “Inland Empire” (2006). Clearly, Lynch and Stanton had an obvious mutual respect for each other and it benefited us all. 

“The great Harry Dean Stanton has left us,” Lynch wrote in a statement on Friday. “There went a great one. There’s nobody like Harry Dean. Everyone loved him. And with good reason. He was a great actor (actually beyond great) — and a great human being — so great to be around him! You are really going to be missed Harry Dean! Loads of love to you wherever you are now!”

Stanton was a complete original, and will be missed greatly not only by cinephiles like me, but by his famous collaborators and fans who he inspired greatly like “Pretty in Pink” co-star Jon Cryer, director Edgar Wright, actor Kyle MacLachlan, actor Ed Begley Jr., director Asia Argento and more — who paid their respects on social media. 

Fans can see Stanton in his last role playing an atheist grappling with his own mortality in the upcoming movie, “Lucky,” which is scheduled to be released in theaters on Sept. 29.

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/harry-dean-stanton-avengers-repo-man-alien-twin-peaks-david-lynch/#ftag=CAD590a51e

This is how an Audi drives after the software emissions update

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.

Mine looked like that when I bought it. It’s a little beat up now.

David McNew/Getty Images

Naturally, I was scandalized by Volkswagen and Audi’s behavior.

How could they possibly try to fool the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality standards with so-called cheat software, just to sell (what they thought was) a more attractive car?

Who would stoop to such a thing? What did you say? A car dealer?

Well, this car dealer got caught.

Still, I’ve always liked my 2010 Audi A3 2.0 Tdi.

So, when Audi gave me the choice of either selling it back or having an emissions software update (and some vacation money), I chose the latter.

With some trepidation.

I’d read that many in the UK were complaining that the software update had turned their cars into sad old heaps of clay.

Some were refusing to have it done, fearing that their loved ones would never be the same again.

What was peculiar for me about the process was how Audi of America would tell me one thing, while the always reliable service manager at my Audi dealer would have no idea what Audi of America was talking about.

Even after I’d booked my car in for its surgery, I had to go back to the dealer to deliver more pieces of paper. Audi of America claimed they had no record of my existence.

The whole thing took several days.

As far as I’m concerned, though, the only thing that mattered was whether the car would drive the same way it did before. It’s old, but it still has a certain character.

My service manager said I was the first one at the dealership to have it done, so he couldn’t be completely sure what effect the software update would have.

Anyone who’s ever had a phone knows that software updates can be volatile things. So what happens when your Audi is subjected to one, especially a controversial one?

I turned on the ignition, prepared not to feel the reasonably prompt acceleration I was used to.

Instead, it was as if my car had been to the gym. The zip was immediate, and off we went.

It’s easy to pay too much attention when you know your car has been messed with. Yet, as we sauntered off down the freeway, the car seemed perfectly normal.

If anything, it was a touch whinier in first and second gears, but also a touch sharper.

Otherwise, what was all the fuss about? I asked Audi whether mine was an anomaly.

“Drivers may notice some differences in vehicle operating characteristics after the modification, but no significant changes to key vehicle attributes are expected including reliability, durability, vehicle performance, drivability or other driving characteristics,” an Audi spokesman told me.

Indeed, I was left with only one sad question (other than, Why did this whole thing take two years?).

Was it really worth it for VW and Audi to go through all this subterfuge? Especially when it seems like a little more work on the software would have made the EPA happy and made little difference to the car.

People went to jail over this. Both the VW and Audi brands suffered greatly — the latter more

“The Volkswagen Group deeply regrets the behavior that gave rise to the diesel crisis,” the Audi spokesman told me. “It went against all of the values that we hold dear. Over the past two years, we have taken significant steps to address the diesel matter and realign the Group for the future.”

Meanwhile, my little Audi is perfectly content. 

But, wait. I hear the Brits are now saying that diesel cars are so bad for the environment that they’re going to ban them.  

I hope this doesn’t mean another software update.

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/this-is-how-an-audi-drives-after-the-software-emissions-update/#ftag=CAD590a51e

When the Rolling Stones tried to outdo the Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’

The Rolling Stones’ “Their Satanic Majesties Request” album is an outlier in the band’s canon. The music was a clean break from the Stones’ trademark blues-based hard rock, so it wasn’t well received by fans and critics when “Satanic” was released in early December, 1967. It followed the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by five months, and where the Beatles album kicked off the Summer of Love with its buoyant psychedelia-infused tunes, “Satanic” had a darker, trippier hallucinatory haze. Admittedly the “Satanic” tunes are nowhere as memorable as those on “Pepper,” but the Stones’ use of African, Arabic and Indian instruments, electronic instruments, distorted guitars and densely mixed audio collages outpaced Pepper’s mix, which sounds tame by comparison. I think time has treated “Satanic Majesties” well, maybe because it feels and sounds more like a group effort. All five members’ contributions shine, and Mick Jagger and Keith Richards don’t dominate like they do on every other Stones album.

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The Rolling Stones “Their Satanic Majesties Request 50th Anniversary Special Edition set 


Nearly a half century has passed since its original release, so on September 22 we’ll have a “Their Satanic Majesties Request 50th Anniversary Special Edition set that will include Michael Cooper’s original 3D lenticular cover photograph, with the band decked out in full psychedelic regalia. The new 3D cover is sharper and clearer than my original LP’s cover art, but the original’s version’s depth is deeper, more 3D. Fun fact: “Satanic” cover photographer Michael Cooper also shot the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” cover!

It’s a four-disc set with two 180-gram LPs (one each in mono and stereo), and two (again, mono and stereo) SACDs, and a skinny booklet, all housed in a lavishly finished, thick cardboard album-size set.

Comparing my original American stereo LP with the new LP, the differences were far from subtle. The original LP sounds thin, there’s no bass to speak of, dynamic range is limited, and the stereo soundstage is rather flat. The new LP is richer, warmer, livelier and more three-dimensional sounding. It’s in every way superior to the original LP. I don’t have an original mono LP to refer to, so I can’t speak to how the 2017 mono version is better or different.

The original “Satanic” SACD was released in 2002 in stereo only, the new one is maybe a little better, but the differences between old and new ‘Satanic” SACDs are slight.

Fifty years on, I’m guessing few ‘Stones” fans own copies of “Satanic,” but it’s worth a listen, if only because you’ll hear the band in such a different way. As for the 50th Anniversary set, I’m sure audiophiles and hard-core Stones fans will spring for a copy. Everybody else can search out used LP or CD copies, or stream the album to get a taste of “Satanic Majesties.”

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/when-the-rolling-stones-tried-to-outdo-the-beatles-sgt-peppers/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman talks with Brian about iPhone X (Apple Byte Extra Crunchy Podcast, Ep. 101)


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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-byte-extra-crunchy-podcast-ep-101/#ftag=CAD590a51e

Facebook gives investigators new details on Russian ads

EU investigating WhatsApp takeover by Facebook

Facebook has said Russian-linked accounts bought ads about election-related issues.

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Facebook has sent government investigators new records about Russian-linked ads placed on its service during the 2016, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The information, including copies of ads and details about accounts that bought them, was shared with special counsel Robert Mueller, the late Friday report said, citing people familiar with the matter. Mueller and a team of investigators are looking into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

“We continue to cooperate with the relevant investigative authorities,” a Facebook spokesman said. The Department of Justice didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move comes a week after Facebook said it identified about 500 “inauthentic accounts” that bought $100,000 of ads that targeted highly politicized social issues such as immigration, guns and LGBT rights.

“Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia,” Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer, wrote in a blog post at the time

Facebook’s disclosure marked a new turn in the high-profile Russia investigation, which has raised issues concerning President Donald Trump’s election last year, the involvement of his children and the actions of his staff. At issue is how much the Russian government may have attempted to influence the electorate, and whether Trump or anyone working for him knowingly was involved. Trump has repeatedly denied involvement.

For its part, Silicon Valley is coming to grips with how much its services may have been used to sway the election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who at first downplayed the impact his company’s social network may have had on the spread of false news, has now embraced those concerns and is working to address them. Those efforts include working with news organizations to identify false news, and shutting down advertising access to accounts that repeatedly spread it.

Facebook’s disclosure is bringing attention to Google and Twitter as well. 

For its part, Google has said there’s no evidence such ads were purchased on its service, and a person familiar with the matter said the company hasn’t been called to testify on the topic. “We’re always monitoring for abuse or violations of our policies and we’ve seen no evidence this type of ad campaign was run on our platforms,” a Google spokesperson said.

Twitter declined to comment. In a June blog post it discussed ways it’s attempting to halt the spread of misinformation on its service, promising it was “doubling down” on the problem. 

First published Sept. 15, 5:23 p.m. PT.
Update, 10:23 p.m.: Adds responses from Twitter and Google.

Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-gave-investigators-details-of-russian-ads-2016-election-trump-mueller/#ftag=CAD590a51e

How big is iPhone X? We made these pics to show you


Normal-sized iPhone. Super-sized screen.

Aaron Robinson/CNET

The most striking thing about the new iPhone X isn’t the way it looks in your hand. It isn’t the return of the glass back and stainless steel band. It isn’t even the notch

It’s the fact that — compared to your average iPhone today — it’s got so much more screen than any existing iPhone, even the iPhone 8 Plus. And yet, it’s barely larger than the regular iPhone.

But it’s one thing to tell you that, and another thing to show you what we mean. So we asked one of our graphic designers to whip up these images (they’re to scale!) to give you a better idea. 


We made this size comparison to scale, so you can see just small the iPhone X is, compared to the screen it holds.

Aaron Robinson/CNET

Go ahead, share them with your friends. 

iPhone X, iPhone 8: Everything we know about Apple’s new iPhones.

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Article source: https://www.cnet.com/news/iphone-x-iphone-8-size-comparison/#ftag=CAD590a51e