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The Lamborghini Urus demands your respect

Purity is a concept the Lamborghini Urus has little time for, and rightly so. On paper, SUV body aside, it checks off all the boxes fans of the automaker have come to expect: ridiculous power, fiendishly clever engineering, and performance as high as its price tag. If you’re getting hung up on the four doors and seating for up to five, you’re missing the point.

It’s fair to say that there’s some snobbery about the Urus. “It’s not a real Lamborghini” is the most common complaint, often followed by the more specific “Lamborghini shouldn’t make SUVs.” Running through it all is the idea that, by making a four-door utility vehicle, the Italians have “sold out” and prioritized profits over heritage.

Clearly, there’s an excellent business model for expanding into SUVs. Lamborghini can’t have missed just how well models like the Cayenne and Macan did for VW Group stablemate Porsche: they, too, were roundly criticized by purists upon their respective launches. They’ve also gone on to become Porsche’s best-selling vehicles, underwriting production of smaller volume models like the 911, and if the brand zealots haven’t quite been convinced then their complaints are at the very least drowned out by the sound of the cash registers ringing.

What Lamborghini could have done, frankly, would be to take something like the Audi Q7 or the Porsche Cayenne, drop some angular bodywork on top, slap on some raging bull logos, and call it a day. That it didn’t – that the Urus really does feel like a Lamborghini from behind the wheel – is a testament to just how good it is.

Styling is objective. Personally, I like the pumped-up-Aventador look, though I think it’s success is very color dependent. Lighter colors, like white and yellow, can leave it looking fussy and over-detailed; the weird bobble-ended whiskers in the lower fascia are a good example of that. Darker hues are more flattering.

Inside, meanwhile, it’s a mixture of classic Lamborghini, some bizarre detailing, and, yes, some parts-bin sharing with Audi. The center console is a reminder that Lamborghini has never met a surface it doesn’t deem worthy of extra creasing. The vents and switchgear are sculpted and embellished. Audi donates its twin-touchscreen infotainment system, tweaked a little up top with some custom graphics; yes, the critics may scoff, but if you’ve going to borrow software then this is at least a decent system to crib from.

That goes for the virtual cockpit-esque digital instrumentation, and the steering wheel buttons which are what you could expect to find in an Audi A4. Clearly Lamborghini spent more time on the paddle shifters, which are oversized slices of machined metal that could each double as a Batarang. Weirdest flourish of all is the cluster of transmission and drive mode controls, as though the levers from some luxury yacht have been repurposed as a robot’s codpiece.

It’s outlandish and in places over-embellished, sure, but there’s also room for a family and their luggage (though not, it’s reasonable to point out, a vast amount of that room). “Practical” and “Lamborghini” has typically meant a vehicle that elects not to strand you at the side of the road. Since being welcomed into the warm, teutonic embrace of VW Group, reliability is up, but don’t confuse that with a sacrifice of performance.

Yes, dig deep under the Urus and you’ll find a platform shared with the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, and Bentley Bentayga. No, it doesn’t feel like any of them from behind the wheel.

There’s 4.0-liters of twin-turbocharged V8 to play with, good for 641 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. No manual, just an excellent eight-speed automatic. All the better for the quoted 0-62 mph time of 3.6 seconds, and on to a top speed of 190 mph. All that, may I remind you, from an SUV.

In the default Strada mode, the Urus is tamed just enough for the street. Tug the lever and you notch through Sport and then Corsa modes, each ramping up the power, sharpening the handling and the suspension, and generally leaving the Urus more aggressive. Unlike in a Huracan, though, there are also Terra and Neve modes for off-road and snow, respectively. Not something I needed in San Francisco, true, but a reminder that – like its 7,000 pound towing rating – there’s more to this Lamborghini than most.

The soundtrack is, you’ll be reassured to hear, present and entirely correct. Growling and barking and crackling, building to a throbbing howl as you rocket toward the near-7k redline. Then there’s the grip (prodigious) and the ride (unflappably level), again belying the fact that this is not only an SUV, but one which tips the scales at 4,800 pounds.

The standard air suspension helps there, as does the huge Pirelli P-Zero rubber. Lamborghini throws in rear-wheel steering as well, counter-turning at lower speeds for a tighter radius and mimicking the front at higher speeds for more stable maneuvers. Combined with torque vectoring, the Urus pivots its meaty rump in ways no other truck can. In turn, it encourages you to push harder, to play more.

The flip side to that is a braking system fit for, well, a Lamborghini sports car. If you can put the $204k starting price out of your mind for long enough to leave slowing until the very last moment, the Urus rewards that pluck with the sort of shedding of pace that normally comes with parachutes flying out the back.

I’d be lying if I said that the Urus’ reception was universally positive. If there is A Certain Type of person who drives a Lamborghini, and Another Certain Type who drives a big, luxury SUV, then occupying the center of that exclusive Venn diagram doesn’t always win you approval. Perhaps the Italians need to borrow the Bentayga’s plug-in hybrid tech, just to be entirely sure of prompting Tesla drivers’ fury when they see you pulling into an EV-only space.

At least, though, that vitriol is somewhat deserved. The Urus is profligate, and unapologetic, and brash, just like a Lamborghini should be. You buy into that when you take the keys. What it’s not is anything less than a true Lamborghini. Silhouette be damned; there’s only one badge this SUV could wear.

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Meet The New Lamborghini Countach Lpi 800

Meet the new Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4

Few cars are as legendary as the Lamborghini Countach, the original poster boy of supercars. Conceived in the 1970s to replace the aging Miura, the Countach broke tradition by being the only Lamborghini car to have a monicker not associated with bullfighting or bulls in general. When news broke of Lamborghini’s plan to revive the Countach, meanwhile, images of hybrid technology immediately came to mind, particularly given the automaker’s breathtaking Sian hypercar, the progenitor of new-age Lambos with its supercapacitor-powered hybrid technology.

And then it happened: in a festive event at The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, Lamborghini unveiled what is perhaps its most ambitious production car to date. The 2023 Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4, the second generation of the automaker’s wedge-shaped bad boy, is as real as it gets and is entering production soon. However, Lamborghini is only building 112 units of its newest Countach, making it a highly limited-edition hybrid supercar. As I let my gaze play over what I think is one of the prettiest production car shapes I’ve seen so far, I kept asking myself: “How could I not see this coming?”

You see, the first-gen Countach turned 50 this year. We all know how the Countach’s wedge styling elements became the trademarked Lamborghini shape, eventually filtering down to all its production cars like the Diablo, Gallardo, Aventador, Huracan, and the Sian. “One of the most important automotive icons, the Countach not only embodies the design and engineering tenet of Lamborghini but represents our philosophy of reinventing boundaries, achieving the unexpected and extraordinary and, most importantly, being the ‘stuff of dreams,'” said Stephan Winkelmann, Automobili Lamborghini President, and CEO.

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the Countach’s golden jubilee than by unveiling an all-new, second-gen version of Lamborghini’s legendary supercar. “The Countach LPI 800-4 pays homage to this Lamborghini legacy, but it is not retrospective: it imagines how the iconic Countach of the 70s and 80s might have evolved into an elite super sports model of this decade,” added Winkelmann. “It upholds the Lamborghini tradition of looking forward, of exploring new design and technology avenues while celebrating the DNA of our brand.”

Right off the bat, there’s no mistaking the LPI 800-4 is a Countach. It has an instantly recognizable silhouette, all sharp angles and bold lines. Lamborghini claims the new car’s distinctive Countach façade drew inspiration from the LP5000 Quattrovalvole, with a low-set rectangular grille, an angular bonnet like the nose of a stealth fighter, and rectangular-shaped headlights. Also evident are the hexagonal wheel arches, the most explicit representation of Countach DNA.

But unlike the Countach Quattrovalvole, the newest LPI 800-4 has no rear wing to disrupt the wedge-tastic design purity. Still, it does bear the original car’s largish air scoops and slatted gills, much like how a child can inherit their parent’s nose, chin, or eyes. Also present are the dominant NACA air intakes on the side and doors, a feature that Lambo made more prominent in the production model to address the cooling issues of the initial Countach LP 112 prototype.

Other period-correct juicy details include unique Periscopio lines on the roof and rear of the car, a new “inverted wedge” rear bumper, three-unit taillight clusters, quad exhaust pipes, and of course, those luscious scissor doors.

The original Countach had more power than you can handle. Back in the early 70s, a 370-horsepower V12-powered supercar was outrageous. The 25th Anniversary Edition Countach unveiled in 1988 became the fastest Countach to be produced with its 5.2-liter 450-horsepower V12 engine from the LP5000 Quattrovalvole. But for the latest Countach LPI 800-4, Lamborghini is settling for nothing less than the hybridized powertrain from its latest Sian hypercar.

The 2023 Countach LPI 800-4 has a naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter V12 engine pumping out 770 horsepower. It also has a 48-volt electric motor mounted directly to the gearbox, contributing a further 33 horsepower. With a combined output of 803 horsepower, the new Countach is just as potent as the Sian. And since this innovative architecture is the only mild-hybrid to connect the electric motor and driving wheels directly, I presume the driving experience to be a lively mix of analog and digital.

What more can you expect from a roaring V12 engine behind your ears and a hybrid powertrain pushing you to the horizon silently and without delay? The electric motor draws juice from a supercapacitor that Lamborghini claims has three times more energy density than a lithium-ion battery of the same weight.

Unsurprisingly, then, the performance numbers are staggering. The Countach LPI 800-4 can sprint from zero to 60mph in under 2.8 seconds, go from zero to 124 mph in 8.6 seconds, and has a top speed in excess of 220 mph.

In case you’re wondering, that means the Sian accelerates just as briskly as the new Countach, but the latter has a higher top speed: proof, were it needed, of the new Countach’s place in Lamborghini’s supercar hierarchy. It also has a better power-to-weight ratio than Sian, tipping the scales at a dry weight of 1,595 kg (3,516 pounds), thanks to a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and body panels. In addition, the new Countach has a photochromatic roof that changes from solid to transparent at your behest.

Outside, blending new tech with classic style, the Countach LPI 800-4 has 20-inch front and 21-inch rear “telephone style” wheels, wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. With such a propensity for speed, it has carbon-ceramic brakes to bring sanity to all this madness.

Inside, it has leather seats with geometric stitching and an 8.4-inch HDMI infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay. And with aluminum double-wishbone suspension and active magnetic dampers, the new coupe could even be considered a proper grand-touring hypercar. Few will get to put that to the test, though: Lamborghini is only building 112 examples of Countach LPI 800-4, and the first deliveries will arrive at lucky customers in early 2023.

Tape Gets Some Respect From It Giants

This week is shaping up to be one of the busiest in storage tape history, with HP and Sony teaming up to create the next generation of Digital Audio Tape (DAT), while Sun and IBM fight for the crown of being first with a 1 terabyte (TB) tape drive.

To some, the news signals that tape storage remains alive and well in the era of ever-cheaper hard drives.

“Tape is the Rodney Dangerfield of storage,” Robert Amatruda, research director at IDC, told chúng tôi “No doubt there has been a decline in the market, but it’s still a relevant technology widely deployed. The news proves there’s still strong investment in what’s become a mature technology.”

Tape has long been an important piece of the storage infrastructure puzzle for many businesses, especially small and midsized companies that need economical and easy-to-manage backup and disaster recovery.

While it doesn’t dominate the storage market like it did during the mid- to late 1990s, tape has evolved into a reliable, strong performing fit for lower-end markets, according to Bob Wilson, vice president of storage platforms for HP StorageWorks.

That vibrancy is what prompted HP (NYSE: HPQ) and Sony (NYSE: SNE) to co-develop DAT 320, the seventh generation of the Digital Data Storage (DDS) standard, announced today. The two vendors will build and sell their own tape drives on the new standard.

“Demand for higher-capacity data backup and archiving continues to be important for small and midsized businesses and enterprise environments,” Masayoshi Sugiyama, president for Sony’s chemical device business group, said in a statement. “Combining HP’s six DAT generations and Sony’s 50-year history in magnetic recording technology provides a compelling solution.”

The DAT 320 will offer up to 320 gigabytes (GB) of capacity on a single cartridge, double what the current DAT 160 provides. The vendors said the new format will need less energy per GB while also remaining backward compatible.

Terabyte tape arrives — twice

Elsewhere in the tape world, Sun and IBM are dueling for the title of the first to market with a 1 TB drive, with each announcing products this week.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today launched the System Storage TS1130 Tape Drive, targeted toward midsized businesses in financial services and life sciences as well as the public sector.

The product’s 160MB/sec. speed is 54 percent faster than the previous-generation drive. But it’s the new tape head that’s the compelling technology story, according to Bruce Master, worldwide tape storage marketing manager at IBM.

The Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) head design, which has been in development for years, cuts down data read errors, improves data integrity and reliability, he said.

“You can put more tracks on the tape with this head, and that means write more data,” Master said, describing the design as similar to a wide, one-lane road that’s divided into eight lanes to support greater traffic flow.

Additionally, the new head’s design could mark a change that remains in place for years to come.

“This first-generation GMR should be a good technology for the next eight to 10 years,” Master said, adding that other tape elements have in recent years undergone similar evolutions, including the chipset and read/write elements. Together, such improvements have contributed to tape’s continued progress.

“Just 10 years ago, we were excited about 10 GB on a tape, now it’s a hundred fold that capacity,” he said.

Daily Authority: 🛠️ Apple Caves To Repair Demands

Apple announced it would start a new program called Self Service Repair, which will allow customers to buy parts from Apple for their products and perform repairs at home. 

Apple said it will also publish repair manuals online and offer tools to buy at the same prices authorized repair technicians pay.

“Creating greater access to Apple genuine parts gives our customers even more choice if a repair is needed,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. 

Haha:

What Jeff Williams says is exactly what Apple didn’t want.

In May, the Federal Trade Commission specifically called out Apple for ”anti-competitive repair restrictions.”

The company has done everything from using unusual screws (starting all the way back in 1984) to withholding tools to paying for lobbying to hobbling/bricking devices, including the iPhone 13 this very month, that aren’t repaired at Apple’s ridiculously overpriced repair shops.

Apple also implied it’d be variously dangerous and unsafe for non-trained people to tinker.

Apple’s move here is only because of a key shareholder fight that was set to go to the SEC tomorrow(The Verge).

It’s also only in the US, for now.

9to5Mac has a great piece explaining Apple’s PR fail that it’s trying to spin as a win, making Apple the bad guy when it really could’ve had a win. 

That said:

Despite the various caveats, this is good news. A lot of people really do have the technical know-how to fix stuff, and this should see a longer lifetime and more re-use of tech.

And now Apple is moving away from being so unfriendly to repairs, it may force Android manufacturers to play ball too, as well as laptop makers.

I wrote something in 2023 about the state of fixing things yourself, and how bad it was getting.

iFixit is doing a lap of honor for its role in beating Big Tech and letting us simply fix our stuff.

Roundup

😶 Motorola Moto G Power (2024) announced: Still no NFC, same battery as 2023 (Android Authority).

📱 Also: The Moto Snapdragon 888 Plus phone, the Moto G200, is now official, though only in Europe, and Latin America soon, with no sign of the US/India yet (Android Authority).

👉 “The problem with Motorola phones”: The smartphone maker ranks third in the US, but its software update strategy is one of the worst in the industry, plus no NFC, and a flood of confusing, competing devices (Wired).

🔋 Google confirms our findings: Pixel 6 Pro charging capped at 23W (Android Authority).

🤔 OnePlus 10 Pro could launch in China months before it launches globally (Android Authority).

🔊 TIDAL has given up and has added ad-supported free tier to its music streaming service to better compete with Spotify (CNET).

🏭 Bill Gates’ nuclear power company, TerraPower, selects a site for its first sodium-cooled reactor: 345 MW in Wyoming (Ars Technica).

🚒 New firefighting tool delivers water directly to blazing EV batteries (Ars Technica).

🔫 “Halo: Infinite’s multiplayer needs an over 35s mode because I’m old and I suck,” and if it’s the case for other sports, why not esports? (CNET). 

🤔 “All the countries of the world are at a party. What is your country doing?” (r/askreddit)

Throwback Thursday

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

The 200 worst passwords of 2023 are here! And once again, 123456 wins. But also! Passwords like “baseball” and “dragon” and “qwerty”… (Gizmodo).

Look, it’s a throwback because you’d think, by now, for the love of God, people would have a decent password. A password manager, something, anything.

That said… I know plenty of people who put in extremely basic passwords for services that don’t matter. 

All I’m saying is, “iloveyou” is cute but as the 22nd most popular password, it could be a little more complicated.

And “jordan23,” which ranks 179th, might seem cool and all, but it can be cracked in a second or less. So, yeah, Michael Jordan and Jumpman your life, not your passwords.

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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Nintendo Open To Dropping Consoles If Market Demands It

Nintendo open to dropping consoles if market demands it

Nintendo has been making gaming machines for more than 30 years at this point, and through all of the ups and downs, it’s kept on making home consoles. Though the company has no plans to stop producing home consoles, Nintendo’s new president has suggested that he’s open to the idea if that’s what it’ll take to adapt to the ever-changing gaming industry. Perhaps there’s a future where Nintendo only makes software for other platforms?

It seems crazy to consider the idea when the Switch is experiencing a ridiculous level of success, but plenty of other companies have shown us that all it takes is one or two fumbled console launches – or worse, a gaming crash – to bring the titans of the industry tumbling down. If Nintendo ever finds itself in that position, company president Shuntaro Furukawa has indicated that he’s okay with moving away from consoles in an effort to rethink its business strategy.

Furukawa spoke of the need for Nintendo to be flexible in a new interview with Nikkei, which was translated by Nintendo Everything. “We aren’t really fixated on our consoles,” Furukawa said. “At the moment we’re offering the uniquely developed Nintendo Switch and its software – and that’s what we’re basing how we deliver the “Nintendo experience” on. That being said, technology changes. We’ll continue to think flexibly about how to deliver that experience as time goes on.”

“It has been over 30 years since we started developing consoles,” he continued. “Nintendo’s history goes back even farther than that, and through all the struggles that they faced the only thing that they thought about was what to make next. In the long-term, perhaps our focus as a business could shift away from home consoles – flexibility is just as important as ingenuity.”

Obviously, this isn’t an indication that Nintendo is leaving the console business anytime soon. The Switch had a successful launch in 2023, and that’s been followed by strong sales. Nintendo won’t be quick to abandon that success, and the disappointment that was the Wii U showed us that Nintendo has enough money in its war chest to survive a flubbed console launch.

It sounds like Nintendo will continue making consoles as long as the demand is there, but if the market ever shifts away from consoles, it won’t try to cling to the past. Indeed, though Microsoft and Sony show no signs of ditching consoles either, they are both developing game streaming platforms such as PlayStation Now and Project xCloud.

If there’s ever a future where device-agnostic game streaming takes over, we could very well see Nintendo choose to exit the console business and create games for these streaming platforms. Perhaps it’ll even look into creating a game streaming platform of its own? This is all just speculation, but it’s nice to hear that Nintendo is willing to do what it takes to stay relevant if the market ever shifts away from its core business.

Targeting The Right Search Engine For Your Market

But improving your search engine rankings isn’t easy – especially when you’re dealing with a global marketplace. It’s important to localize your SEO strategy when targeting foreign countries. And while Google may be the world’s favourite search engine, it doesn’t rule the roost everywhere. In fast-growing markets such as China, Russia and South Korea, people still prefer local competitors. And as you might expect, the rules for optimization aren’t the same.

Choosing the best search engine

Google is not only the most widely used search engine in the world, but the most visited site, period. Many international Google sites rank highly in their own right – for example chúng tôi is the 13th most popular site in the world.

Since Google overtook Seznam in the Czech Republic last year there are only five countries left where it’s not the market leader. Although this is a small number, these are far from insignificant. If you want to reach the 420 million “net citizens” in China, for example, they can be massively important.

Baidu is the leader in the world’s most populous nation, with a 56.6 per cent market share. In Russia, Yandex is the favourite search engine, while South Koreans prefer Naver. Yahoo! Japan and Yahoo! Taiwan are the most widely used in these countries.

Adapting Your SEO Strategies

Many SEO rules of thumb still apply whichever search engine you’re targeting. Keywords, for example, are still hugely important. It’s always best to research these for different markets, rather than simply using direct translations. Colloquialisms, abbreviations and other alternative terms might be more popular. All the major search engines have their own keyword tools to help you identify which will work best.

But the preferred keyword density for a web page varies depending on the search engine. While Google prefers a low density of around 2 per cent, Yahoo! Japan (as with Yahoo!’s other local sites) favors keyword-optimized content with a density of up to 7 or 8 per cent. It also sets more store by directory listings, so submitting your site is an essential step. Yahoo! also loves regularly updated content, so it’s a good idea to include a blog (with keyword optimized content of course).

Like most search engines, Baidu uses in-bound links to rate sites. But it pays less attention to their perceived authority, meaning links from a large number of relatively low-ranking sites could be your best strategy.

Yandex also prefers local sites, but has its own geotargeting tool allowing you to set your location. One big difference is that it counts out-bound links to authoritative sites as well as in-bound ones. As well as pursuing a link-building strategy, make sure you include the right links on your own pages. And unlike Google, Yandex ignores links out of web forums, or un-moderated directories.

There are other, often subtle differences, depending on the particular search engine you’re targeting. A little research on these will be well worth the time and effort.

The Advantages of an International Approach

This means it’s much easier to climb the rankings for your chosen keywords in other languages. You’ve also got a much better chance of securing a top domain name in a non-English speaking country.

Numerous studies have also confirmed what common sense suggests – namely that multilingual Internet users prefer using and place more trust in websites written in their own native language.

Of course a little local knowledge is the key to success. It’s worth taking the time and effort to research keywords, translate your website, and target the correct search engines for your market. As with all SEO strategies, you won’t get results overnight. But it will ultimately drive much more traffic – and business – your way.

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