TIME FindTheBest

We Crunched the Numbers to See Which Country Makes the Best Cars

Poll a random sampling of drivers on car preference, and you’ll likely get a mix of responses like the following:

“I’ll never drive an American car again.”
“I don’t trust any automobile made outside of Japan.”
“Once I drove German, I never went back.”

If there’s one thing we humans do well, it’s swearing off entire product categories on the basis of one or two experiences. And why not? That’s every consumer’s privilege.

At FindTheBest, however, we were curious to see what the data would say. Which car stereotypes are backed up by the facts, and which aren’t? We started with 2014 models, compiling information on over 1,500 cars across 36 different manufacturers. We then calculated the average spec, rating or score for each of 10 key data points, with an overall focus on performance, safety, fuel efficiency and size.

Here’s what we found:

Performance

Horsepower

Thanks to a host of high-powered McLarens, Bentleys and Aston Martins, the Brits win round one rather handsomely. Even the mid-powered Land Rover can’t get Britain down. The most surprising loser here is probably Italy, whose Ferrari-Lamborghini-Maserati trifecta can do little to counterbalance the sputtering Fiat line, which drags down the Italian average significantly.

Acceleration (0-60)

Italy earns the acceleration crown with its 3.9-second 0-60 average, though its win here comes with a Barry Bonds-sized asterisk: slowpoke Fiat does not report 0-60 figures, while Britain’s slowest brand—Land Rover—does. So what if we took out Land Rover as well? Italy still wins, but only by eight-tenths of a second.

Top Speed

Once again, we see a strong Italian victory, inflated by the fact that Fiat didn’t bother to report top speeds (and in fairness, why should they?). Meanwhile, all those lumbering American trucks keep the U.S. far out of contention.

Towing Capacity

Here, America’s trucks rumble back, towing the USA into second overall. But Britain’s pesky Land Rovers roll in yet again, strong enough to stave off a slew of Fords, Rams and Chevys in a battle of the tow-friendly automobiles.

Note that we only considered towing-equipped vehicles for this category (sorry, Aston Martin), which helps explain Britain’s surprising win. It’s also worth mentioning that American cars easily dominate in sheer volume. In fact, 188 of the top 200 autos in this category were made in the U.S.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Safety Rating

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) runs automobiles through a variety of rigorous tests, including frontal crash, side crash and rollover, assigning a score from 1 (high chance of passenger injury) to 5 (low chance of passenger injury). They then provide an overall score out of 5.

Sweden wins here on the strength of Volvo’s safe, sturdy line-up. Meanwhile, the Italians place last—the plight of the small and speedy.

Fuel Efficiency

Gas Mileage (combined)

With gas mileage, the efficient Japanese score their first win, narrowly edging out their Korean neighbors. Our calculation was based on the EPA’s combined MPG figure, which assumes 55% city driving and 45% highway driving. Korea actually does a bit better than Japan if you focus exclusively on highway MPG.

(We left out Italy because we didn’t have a big enough sample size of reliable gas mileage figures.)

Size

Seating Capacity

The average Swedish car has nearly six seats, big enough to beat out the rest of the world in size. That said, if you want a giant car, you might as well still shop American, as 33 of 2014’s 50 largest cars were made in the U.S.

Overall Weight

Forget about seating capacity. What about raw weight? The standard measurement in the industry is “curb weight”—it includes any necessary components for operating the car (i.e. fuel), though it does not include any passengers or cargo.

America finally snags an outright win, barreling past Germany and Sweden on its way to heaviest in the world.* The Italians might be nimble, but fittingly, the U.S. remains the champion of girth.

* Though, naturally, this depends on whether you believe a bigger car is better.

Price

MSRP

Thanks largely to a couple of insanely priced autos (we’re looking at you, Lamborghini Veneno and Ferrari LaFerrari), Italy’s average cost per car is over three times that of its closest competitor (Britain). (For numbers geeks, Italy wins easily on median MSRP as well, with a $192,000 price tag next to Britain’s $93,000.)

Ratings

Smart Rating

Finally, we calculated a Smart Rating, which combines expert awards (73%), safety (18%), and value over time (9%) for every car on the list. Experts included North American Car of the Year, Popular Mechanics, The Car Connection, Motor Trend, Cars.com, Automobile Magazine, Car and Driver, and About.com Best New Cars.

The big winner? Sweden. The Swedes ride Volvo’s solid, consistent line-up past a multi-tiered assault of luxury cars from Britain and classic favorites from Germany. Meanwhile, America fares poorly, though it avoids a last-place fate. In the end, it’s Italy that ends up with the lowest score of all, confirming that raw performance can’t always beat a well-rounded package.

Not convinced? No problem. You already knew you liked Japanese cars, and who are we to say otherwise? Besides, we hear they “drive better than anything else on the road.”

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest.

TIME facebook

Here’s How Facebook Doubled Its IPO Price

Facebook Holds f8 Developers Conference
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening kenote at the Facebook f8 conference on April 30, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Facebook's stock doubled its IPO price by midday Thursday

Facebook suffered a cruel summer back in 2012. The social network raised its IPO price just before going public in May 2012, but technical glitches during early trading caused mass investor confusion. Nasdaq eventually paid a $10 million fine over the debacle, and Wall Street showed no mercy to the social network in the ensuing months. Facebook’s stock cratered, diving from $38 to below $18 before the following autumn.

Two years later, the sun’s shining bright on the tech giant. Facebook beat analysts’ expectations yet again in its latest quarterly earnings report, generating revenue of $2.9 billion and earnings per share of 42 cents. That sent the company’s stock soaring above $76 during midday trading Thursday, doubling its IPO price of $38. That’s also more than quadruple the social network’s all-time low close of $17.73.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 1.25.08 PM

Facebook’s massive turnaround has everything to do with mobile. When the company went public, its revenue was almost completely tied to desktop ads–exactly the kind of business investors in the mobile era don’t like. With more than half a billion people already accessing Facebook on mobile, the company had to prove that it could successfully transition its business. CEO Mark Zuckerberg set a laser-like focus on mobile strategy, and he forced his executive clique to do the same.

The dedication has paid off. Facebook now generates more than two-thirds of its total ad revenue on mobile and has more than a billion mobile monthly active users. Overall ad prices jumped 123 percent year-over-year, partially because mobile ads placed directly in users’ News Feeds are more valuable than ads on the right rail of the site served to desktop users.

But what really has Wall Street salivating is the fact that Facebook has plenty of mobile monetization moves left to make. New auto-playing video ads in users’ News Feeds could help the company lure marketers from television. Instagram introduced ads last year that are being positioned as an attractive option for brand marketers. The company is also likely to figure out ways to make money off its messaging goliaths Messenger and recently-acquired WhatsApp.

Overall, it’s clear that Facebook has solved its mobile conundrum, and Wall Street is rewarding it handsomely. With its share of the overall mobile advertising market quickly increasing, the company may soon to be able to challenge Google to be at the top of the totem pole of mobile.

TIME Software

Apple’s OS X Yosemite Beta Is Rolling Out Now, but Be Aware of These Issues

The anticipated 10th version of OS X is finally deploying to one million users who signed up for Apple's public beta.

As promised, Apple has started rolling out a public beta version of its forthcoming OS X Yosemite operating system for Mac computers and laptops. The beta build, listed by Apple as 14A299l, is a tick higher in enumeration than the fourth developer preview released on Monday, though it’s not clear whether there’s a meaningful difference between the versions or simply a designative one.

The beta build will go out to one million program participants in the form of a code, downloadable through the Mac App Store. Beta members can retrieve their code by logging into the beta website and following the instructions. Apple says you’ll need to be running OS X Mavericks 10.9 or later, have at least 2GB of memory and at least 8GB of free disk space.

Don’t expect to receive updates as frequently as developers, says Apple, but you’ll be able to upgrade to the final version whenever it’s released (sometime this fall) seamlessly.

Before you dive in, be aware that some of Yosemite’s iOS 8-related features won’t be available in the beta (until you have iOS 8, which won’t be out until this fall, and which is only available now in beta through Apple’s developer program). It’s also worth scanning through the following issues Apple’s listed as present in the initial public beta to determine if they’re deal-breakers for you:

  • Safari may hang when playing certain Netflix content.
  • iPhoto 9.5.1 and Aperture 3.5.1 are required on OS X Yosemite. Update to these versions from the Mac App Store.
  • When entering edit mode in iPhoto, a black screen may be displayed instead of the selected photo.
  • Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing may not function properly when both iPhoto and Aperture are installed.
  • The shared purchase history page on the Mac App Store is disabled for Family Sharing accounts.
  • iCloud Drive may appear empty in the Finder after first time setup. Restart to resolve this problem.
  • AirDrop may not show nearby Macs.
  • Sending files to another Mac using AirDrop may not work.
TIME Rumors

Valve Might Have Made Its Steam Controller a Little Less Peculiar

An analog thumbstick would bring Valve's game controller more in line with traditional ones.

Valve’s Steam controller is apparently looking less like a crazy experiment and more like a typical gamepad in a newly-surfaced image.

As discovered by Steam Database, the design shows an analog thumbstick on the left side, which would replace the directional buttons on Valve’s previous design. If the image is legit, the controller would have a pair of round, circular touchpads on either side, though, so Valve wouldn’t totally be backing off its original vision.

Having tried the original Steam Controller prototype at CES in January, I can understand why Valve would make the change.

With something like a first-person shooter, the right touchpad still makes sense as a way to turn and aim, as it kind of feels like moving a mouse on a gaming PC. Compared to a thumbstick, the touchpad allows for more precise aiming–at least in theory.

But for movement, you don’t need precision as much as you need quick action. A thumbstick, much like keyboard controls on a PC, can be quickly thrown in any direction with minimal effort. It doesn’t really matter that the controls aren’t as fine-grained as a mouse or trackpad.

Still, Valve would be making a trade-off: The thumbstick would come in place of directional buttons, which are popular for fighting games and can be useful for old-school platformers.

Valve could have just ditched the left touchpad entirely, but I’m guessing the company would want to keep it around for games that are mainly controlled by cursor, such as strategy games. That way, users could move the cursor with their left thumbs and use their right hands for buttons and triggers.

Besides, if you’re really bothered by the lack of a d-pad and thumbsticks, there are always more traditional controllers instead.

Valve hasn’t said exactly when it will release the controller, along with the first Steam Machine consoles, but it recently pushed the effort back to 2015.

TIME Video Games

This Is What Batman Might Look Like in a Final Fantasy Game

Japanese artist and game designer Tetsuya Nomura tries his hand at a rendition of Batman we've definitely never seen before.

Tetsuya Nomura, if you don’t know that name, is arguably Japan’s most visible video games character designer, best known for his work on the Final Fantasy games. He’s responsible for some of the most memorable dysmorphic faces, improbable pantaloons, kitchen-cleaver swords and punk-via-bouffant hairdos in gaming history.

And now he’s shown us what he might do were he green-lit to drop DC’s Batman into one of his games. Think Batman by way of Final Fantasy XII‘s Mydia by way of a Battlestar Galactica Cylon.

Square Enix

That’s more than just a concept drawing, too: You might eventually be able to buy this version of Batman, which Nomura apparently designed for DC Comics’ Variant Play Arts Kai action figure line. The figure was revealed in advance of Comic-Con, which kicks off today, July 24 and runs through Sunday, July 27.

Nomura’s going to be at the show autographing postcards on behalf of Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and DC Comics series Play Arts Kai action figures purchased at the show (you have to buy one to get the autographed postcard — a little gimmicky-sounding, I know).

No word yet on when (or I suppose we need to include the condition if) this claw-winged, crimson-visored version of Batman’s going to be available, but Kotaku says the figure will be on display at Square Enix’s Comic-Con booth through Sunday.

TIME Diversity

90% of Twitter’s Tech Employees are Male

Twitter released its long-awaited diversity report on Wednesday, and the skewed demographics are no surprise

A lack of employee diversity is a trending topic in Silicon Valley, and the data on Twitter’s racial and gender diversity, released Wednesday, further confirms what’s already become clear: male, white and Asian workers occupy the vast majority of tech jobs and leadership roles.

Ninety percent of Twitter’s global tech employees are male, while non-tech jobs are equally split by gender, according to data posted on Twitter’s blog by Janet Van Huysse, Vice President of Diversity of Inclusion. Additionally, men occupy 79% of leadership positions and comprise 70% of the total workforce. Here’s the breakdown:

 Employee Gender Diversity
Twitter

When it comes to racial diversity, 88% of all Twitter employees and 92% of tech employees are either white or Asian (mostly white). And unlike gender diversity, Twitter’s non-tech roles similarly lack racial diversity: 83% are white or Asian (mostly white). In leadership, non-Asian minorities hold only 4% of leadership roles. Here are the full details:

 Employee Ethnic Diversity
Twitter

Twitter’s statistics very much align with those released by other tech giants. In May, Google’s diversity report, the first of its kind from a major tech firm, spearheaded the diversity transparency movement that’s now gained traction across the U.S. Google reported that men were vastly overrepresented in tech jobs, while non-tech jobs had a roughly even gender split. Facebook’s report, LinkedIn’s report and Yahoo’s report also found similar results. But compared to all these companies, Twitter posts the highest proportion of male tech employees (90%) compared to Facebook (85%), Yahoo (85%), Google (83%) and LinkedIn (83%).

“We are keenly aware that Twitter is part of an industry that is marked by dramatic imbalances in diversity—and we are no exception,” writes Huysse, noting that Twitter has sponsored and partnered with several groups, like Girls Who Code and Girl Geek Dinners, that encourage women and underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in tech.

Twitter’s diversity report arrives roughly a month after the similar reports were made public, a delay that’s caused civil rights groups, including one led by Jesse Jackson, to petition Twitter to release its own statistics. Twitter and other companies are required to file the EEO-1 report to the federal government—LinkedIn went a step ahead and published its EEO-1—but there’s no such requirement that diversity data is released to the public. And though it may not a federal requirement, it certainly seems to be a social one, as companies like Twitter realize the value of a diverse workforce.

“By becoming more transparent with our employee data, open in dialogue throughout the company and rigorous in our recruiting, hiring and promotion practices, we are making diversity an important business issue for ourselves,” the blog states.

TIME Earnings

Facebook Stock Hits All-Time High After Strong Earnings Report

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during an event at Facebook headquarters on April 4, 2013 in Menlo Park, California
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during an event at Facebook headquarters on April 4, 2013 in Menlo Park, California Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Mobile ads made up 62% of Facebook's $2.7 billion in ad revenue

Updated July 23 at 5:53 p.m.

Facebook stock climbed to an all-time high as it once again sailed past Wall Street’s expectations in its second quarterly earnings report of the year. The social network pulled in $2.9 billion in revenue for the quarter, beating analysts’ estimates of $2.8 billion. The company generated a profit of $791 million. Earnings minus some line items were 42 cents per share, blowing past estimates of 32 cents per share. Facebook shares were priced above $74 in after-hours trading.

Facebook now has 1.32 billion monthly active users, an increase of about 40 million from the previous quarter. Mobile usage continues to grow, with the social network now having 1.07 billion monthly active users on mobile devices, up from 1.01 billion in the previous quarter.

With increased mobile usage, mobile advertising continues to make up a bigger share of Facebook’s revenue pie. Mobile ads accounted for 62 percent of the company’s $2.7 billion in ad revenue for the quarter, up from a 59 percent share in the previous quarter and a 41 percent share during the same period last year. It’s a stark turnaround from Facebook’s early days as a public company, when the social network’s stock tanked on fears that it couldn’t convert its growing desktop business to mobile.

During a conference call with investors, Facebook touted its popularity as a public platform. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said 350 million Facebook users made 3 billion interactions related to the World Cup during the event, and the World Cup Final was the most-talked-about Facebook event in Facebook history. Facebook also just launched a new app specifically for celebrities with public pages last week. “Public content will continue to be a growing focus for us over the coming months,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

While Facebook’s revenue has been ramping up quickly, Zuckerberg again emphasized that investors shouldn’t expect significant monetization from newer apps and acquisitions such as Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram in the near future. He compared their current businesses development to where Facebook was in 2006, two years after it launched.

It’s not yet clear whether Facebook’s latest controversy, in which the company experimented with people’s News Feeds without their knowledge to alter their moods for a scientific study, will have a substantial effect on usage of the social network. The mood study was only widely publicized at the very end of the fiscal quarter.

 

TIME Video Games

This Gamer Says He Found His Father’s Ghost in a Game

Video games have been archiving little facets of our selves for years, leading to unexpected encounters like this one.

This one’s a little hard to read, so prepare yourself. But it’s also kind of amazing, and a reminder of just how much gaming — once dismissed as a trivial pastime — is intersecting with people’s lives in utterly nontrivial ways.

Yahoo-based Motoramic reports that a gamer who lost his father when just six years old encountered him again, 10 years later, in a video game they’d played together before the parent died.

The game, RalliSport Challenge, was a 2002 Xbox and Windows racer that among other things allowed players to save their best lap time as “ghosts,” against which other players could race. When this child, now a teenager, decided to have another look at the game a decade later…well, maybe I’d better just let him tell the story, which Motoramic says he did as a comment left in response to a YouTube PBS piece dubbed “Can Video Games Be a Spiritual Experience?“:

Well, when i was 4, my dad bought a trusty XBox. you know, the first, ruggedy, blocky one from 2001. we had tons and tons and tons of fun playing all kinds of games together – until he died, when i was just 6.

i couldnt touch that console for 10 years.

but once i did, i noticed something.

we used to play a racing game, Rally Sports Challenge. actually pretty awesome for the time it came.

and once i started meddling around… i found a GHOST.

literaly.

you know, when a time race happens, that the fastest lap so far gets recorded as a ghost driver? yep, you guessed it – his ghost still rolls around the track today.

and so i played and played, and played, untill i was almost able to beat the ghost. until one day i got ahead of it, i surpassed it, and…

i stopped right in front of the finish line, just to ensure i wouldnt delete it.
Bliss.

I couldn’t locate that comment in the YouTube story, but I was able to track it back to an Imgur capture someone posted to a Reddit thread (a month old — this story isn’t breaking, and the PBS YouTube video ran back in May), which itself contains several moving stories by various users of their interactions with lost loved ones through left-behind, gaming-related experiences.

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