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Australia advocates weakening strong crypto at upcoming “Five Eyes” meeting
GettyImages-502877156-800x537.jpgEnlarge / Australia's Attorney General George Brandis (L) speaks at a press conference Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull looks on in Sydney on December 30, 2015. (credit: Saeed Khan / Getty Images News) Two top Australian government officials said Sunday that they will push for "thwarting the encryption of terrorist messaging" during an upcoming meeting next week of the so-called "Five Eyes" group of English-speaking nations that routinely share intelligence. The move indicates that Canberra is now running ahead with what the FBI has dubbed "going dark" for several years now. This is the notion that with the advent of widespread, easy-to-use strong encryption on smartphones and other devices, law enforcement has been hindered. Many experts say, however, that any method that would allow the government access even during certain situations would weaken overall security for everyone. According to a statement released by Attorney General George Brandis, and Peter Dutton, the country’s top immigration official, Australia will press for new laws, pressure private companies, and urge for a new international data sharing agreement amongst the quintet of countries. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 06-25-2017
3 hours ago
Coming out as a Slytherin
Cecilia Tan is the award-winning fiction author of over 20 books and a co-writer of GEEK ACTUALLY, a fiction serial celebrating fandom, female friendship and sexuality, and the power of online spaces to connect communities. Her new series, The Vanished Chronicles, will launch in 2018 from Tor Books. It's Pride month, but I have a slightly different story of coming out to tell you. This is the story of how I became a Slytherin. More precisely, it's about how I discovered I already was a Slytherin and how internalized Slytherphobia had me in denial until I found my people. Going to my first Harry Potter convention was very much like going to my first Pride parade. I loved Harry Potter from the moment I read the very first book, but I didn't fall headlong into the community of fandom until around 2005 when I started reading copious amounts of Harry Potter fanfic online. Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 06-25-2017
4 hours ago
For Sunday’s launch, SpaceX to test “significantly upgraded” grid fins
Facon9-800x450.jpgEnlarge / The Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (credit: SpaceX) Chances are, if you're a SpaceX employee, you've had a busy weekend. On Friday, the company successfully launched its second "used" Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Now, two days later, the company will attempt to launch a new Falcon 9 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The instantaneous launch window opens at 4:24pm ET. This is a fairly conventional launch for SpaceX except for one novelty, revealed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Saturday night. After lifting 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low Earth orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage will attempt to return to a droneship with a new, more durable pair of grid fins, which help to stabilize the rocket as it descends back to Earth. During prior missions these grid fins, manufactured from aluminum with added thermal protection, have caught fire due to atmospheric heating. To address this problem the company has forged new grid fins from titanium. "Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins," Musk tweeted. "Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding." The new fins ... read more
Published on 06-25-2017
5 hours ago
A pigeon-piloted bomb, odd powders, and cryptic science—Ars goes to NIST
PriestLange_Reflectometer-800x533.jpgEnlarge / This Priest-Lange Reflectometer helps measure colors. It was inspired to help end a feud about the "yellowness" of margarine. GAITHERSBURG, Md.—Visiting the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is always immeasurably fun. The agency’s headquarters—a green and sprawling 234-hectare campus, just a jaunt from Washington, DC—is studded with scientific wonders. There’s the building in which scientists repeatedly build other little buildings and then try to destroy them in blazing infernos. There’s the net-zero energy house. There’s a decades-old wall just for studying how different types of stone ages. And there’s the bunch of laboratories 12 meters below the ground on a structurally isolated floor that is cushioned by pneumatic air-springs which prevent any geological jostling from disturbing super-sensitive scientific instruments and the assembly of atomic structures. Last but not least are the scads of scientific gadgets, doodads, and data that scientists use to measure, study, and standardize our natural and manufactured world. On a recent sweltering day in June, I headed to the administration building. It might sound boring, but this building houses the agency’s rich archive and museum of NIST treasures. Since that agency was founded in 1901—then called the National Bureau of Standards—NIST ... read more
Published on 06-25-2017
6 hours ago
Doctor Who: World Enough and Time review
Doctor-Who-s10-finale-800x532.jpgEnlarge (credit: Simon Ridgway/Ray Burmiston/BBC) This is a post-UK broadcast review of Doctor Who: World Enough and Time. River Song always warned the Doctor against spoilers, so be sure to watch the episode first. Doctor Who, season 10, airs on Saturdays at 6:45pm UK time on BBC One, and 9pm EDT on BBC America. Season 10 of Doctor Who has been incredibly lopsided—floating in and out of decent stories, while teasing us with a subtle Missy narrative that is finally, tantalisingly coming to full fruition in World Enough and Time. It's just a shame that the engines have been on reverse thrust a little too often over the past few weeks. There have been some good standalone episodes and an excellent opening to a deeply disappointing trilogy. The popular sci-fi-on-a-shoestring-budget drama has also failed to bring an instant hit with any of the new monsters introduced over the last 10 weeks: too much cheap CGI in the absence of made-you-look, made-you-jump detail, perhaps with the exception of Knock Knock and its quirky use of 3D surround sound. And while lead performances have been one of the highlights—particularly with the introduction of Bill, played by Pearl Mackie—some of the ... read more
Published on 06-24-2017
18 hours ago
Single-player modding returns to GTA V after publisher takedown
openiv-800x303.jpgEnlarge / This image represents Take-Two saying "Well, I guess, there's nothing illegal here after all. Never mind that legal threat." (credit: Take-Two Interactive) When popular Grand Theft Auto V modding tool OpenIV was taken down by a cease-and-desist request from publisher Take-Two earlier this month, the fan reaction was fast and blistering. Players bombarded Grand Theft Auto V with thousands of negative reviews on Steam, and over 77,000 people signed an online petition demanding the tool be restored. Apparently, those gamers' cries have been heard loud and clear. As of yesterday evening, OpenIV is once again being updated and distributed by its creators. While publisher Take-Two has been going after cheating tools in GTA Online of late, developer Rockstar long ago said it wouldn't go after Grand Theft Auto V players for using single-player mods. That's why Take-Two's sudden legal threat against the single-player-focused OpenIV earlier this month was a bit surprising, to say the least. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 06-24-2017
1 day ago
Roundup: The best “escape room” games for a breakout party
full2-800x509.jpgEnlarge / Some typical escape room components—plus a "Chrono Decoder"—from Escape Room: The Game. (credit: Spinmaster) Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com—and let us know what you think. I don't know CPR. I can't tie a tourniquet. But I can work my way out of a locked, puzzle-stuffed room in 60 minutes or less. I've been honing this vital skill over the last year as the current mania for physical "escape rooms" has made its way to the tabletop. In an escape room, a team of players works together to solve codes and puzzles that will eventually provide a means of escape. Usually this requires organizing a group, traveling to a physical location, and paying a significant per-person fee. Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 06-24-2017
1 day ago
Persona 3’s ending made me appreciate all of life’s little endings
p3-800x600.jpgEnlarge / It's hard to tell from this promo image, but this game is a poignant meditation on friendship and death. It was easier for me to walk away from Persona 3 than I expected. The game about nine friends and a dog—which celebrates its tenth anniversary in the States this year—follows a similar arc to most role-playing games. That means the gang of plucky young people ultimately saves the world. Yet its 21st century characters and setting made Persona 3 far more relatable and endearing to me than the high-flying heroes of Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. It helps, too, that this was the series' first game to sport a now-signature blend of dating sim and turn-based dungeon crawling. Playing Persona 3, I felt I was experiencing the first game designed to let me take my time. Whether that meant meeting up with a friend for kendo practice or hanging out with a couple of elderly used booksellers, there was nearly always something more digestible, recognizable, and less world-shatteringly urgent to do than fighting gods and monsters. It's the kind of stuff that let me inhabit a game's world for a bit rather than simply tour ... read more
Published on 06-24-2017
1 day ago
Google promises to stop scanning your inbox to serve up ads
Since it arrived on the scene in 2004 with a whopping 1GB of free storage space for users, Gmail has been funded by targeted advertising linked to the content of your emails, but that's going to change later this year."Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization" at some unspecified point in the next few months, Google announced in a blog post, although you will still see adverts in your inbox - they'll just be generated using all the data the company has on you from other sources instead.So why the change? Ostensibly it's to bring the consumer version of Gmail into line with the G Suite version of Gmail that Google offers to businesses: the paid-for option has never had inbox scanning and now the free option will follow suit. It all ads up In reality, Google probably now has enough data on its users from all its other apps and services that the contents of their inboxes just aren't that important or relevant any more. The move brings Gmail more into line with Google's other apps as far as advertising policy goes as well.In recent years Google has made a concerted effort to make ... read more
Published on 06-24-2017
1 day ago
Does US have right to data on overseas servers? We’re about to find out
Screen-Shot-2017-06-23-at-9.33.00-AM-800x625.pngEnlarge / Microsoft in Dublin, Ireland. (credit: Red Agenda) The Justice Department on Friday petitioned the US Supreme Court to step into an international legal thicket, one that asks whether US search warrants extend to data stored on foreign servers. The US government says it has the legal right, with a valid court warrant, to reach into the world's servers with the assistance of the tech sector, no matter where the data is stored. The request for Supreme Court intervention concerns a 4-year-old legal battle between Microsoft and the US government over data stored on Dublin, Ireland servers. The US government has a valid warrant for the e-mail as part of a drug investigation. Microsoft balked at the warrant, and convinced a federal appeals court that US law does not apply to foreign data. The government on Friday told the justices that US law allows it to get overseas data, and national security was at risk. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 06-23-2017
2 days ago
32TB of Windows 10 beta builds, driver source code leaked
broken-windows-800x600.jpgEnlarge (credit: Rural Learning Center) 32TB of unreleased, private Windows 10 builds, along with source code for certain parts of the driver stack, have been leaked to BetaArchive, reports The Register. The dump appears to contain a number of Windows 10 builds from the development of codenamed Redstone 2. Redstone 2 was released earlier this year, branded as the Creators Update. Some of these builds are said to include private debug symbols. Microsoft routinely releases debug symbols for Windows; the symbols contain additional information not found in the compiled Windows binaries that helps software developers identify which functions their code is calling. The symbols normally released are public symbols; while they identify many (though not all) functions and data structures, they don't contain information about each function's variables or parameters. The private symbols, in contrast, contain much more extensive information, giving much more insight into what each piece of code is doing and how it's doing it. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 06-23-2017
2 days ago
Crunch Report | Google To Stop Scanning Inboxes
Crunch Report June 23 Today’s Stories  Google now has all the data it needs, will stop scanning Gmail inboxes for ad personalization Samsung’s Galaxy Note8 will reportedly be the company’s most expensive smartphone yet YouTube TV expands to 10 more U.S. markets, adds more YouTube Red series Tesla said to be in talks to create its own streaming music service Credits Written and Hosted by:… Read More ... read more
Published on 06-23-2017
2 days ago
BlackBerry misses its mark as software sales fall
blackberry-mercury-pre-production-16-800x600.jpgEnlarge / Hardly anyone is buying these. (credit: Crackberry) BlackBerry Ltd, the company that once led the world's "smartphone" market and ruled the corporate mobile e-mail world, posted its financials today for the most recent three months, and they were not pretty. Software and professional services sales were down by 4.7 percent, totaling $101 million for the quarter, and as a result the company missed analyst expectations for revenue by a wide mark. The news comes as a blow to investors, who had pumped up the price of BlackBerry's stock by about 60 percent over the past three months—largely because people were so bullish on BlackBerry's software sales exploding. Today, the company's share price fell by over 12 percent before close. In fact, the company only turned a profit because of a $940 million payment from Qualcomm to settle arbitration over royalty payments. In 2016, BlackBerry completely outsourced manufacturing of its phones. Since then, revenues from phone sales have collapsed—totaling $37 million for the quarter ending May 31, compared to $152 million last year. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 06-23-2017
2 days ago
Scientific research piracy site hit with $15 million fine
Alexandra Elbakyan.Alexandra Elbakyan. (credit: Alexandra Elbakyan) The operator of a searchable piracy site for scientific research papers has been ordered to pay $15 million as fallout from a US copyright infringement lawsuit brought by one of the world's leading scientific publishers, New York-based Elsevier. The award doesn't mean the six-year-old Sci-Hub site is shuttering, though, despite being ordered to do so. The site has been engaged in a game of domain Whac-a-Mole ever since the case was filed in New York federal court nearly two years ago. And it doesn't mean that the millions of dollars in damages will get paid, either. The developer of the Pirate Bay-like site for academic research—Alexandra Elbakyan of Russia—has repeatedly said she wouldn't pay any award. She didn't participate in the court proceedings, either. US District Judge Robert Sweet issued a default judgement (PDF) against the site this week, but Sci-Hub remains online. Elsevier markets itself as a leading provider of science, medical, and health "information solutions." The infringing activity is of its subscription database called "ScienceDirect." Elsevier claims ScienceDirect is "home to almost one-quarter of the world's peer-reviewed, full-text scientific, technical, and medical content." Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments ... read more
Published on 06-23-2017
2 days ago
Obama reportedly ordered implants to be deployed in key Russian networks
PUTIN_RUSO-800x486.jpgEnlarge (credit: Wikimedia Commons/Maria Joner) In his final days as the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama authorized a covert hacking operation to implant attack code in sensitive Russian networks. The revelation came in an 8,000-word article The Washington Post published Friday that recounted a secret struggle to punish the Kremlin for tampering with the 2016 election. According to Friday's article, the move came some four months after a top-secret Central Intelligence Agency report detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in a hacking campaign aimed at disrupting or discrediting the presidential race. Friday's report also said that intelligence captured Putin's specific objective that the operation defeat or at least damage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help her Republican rival Donald Trump. The Washington Post said its reports were based on accounts provided by more than three dozen current and former US officials in senior positions in government, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. In the months that followed the August CIA report, 17 intelligence agencies confirmed with high confidence the Russian interference. After months of discussions with various advisors, Obama enacted a series of responses, including shutting down two Russian compounds, sanctioning nine ... read more
Published on 06-23-2017
2 days ago
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