posted about 3 hours ago on ars technica
Prosecutors in Contra Costa County, directly across the bay from San Francisco, have filed criminal felony charges against a former California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer, Robert Harrington, who is accused of seizing and distributing racy photos copied from arrestees’ phones. Harrington's attorney, Michael Rains, told a local NBC affiliate that his client has resigned from the CHP and was sorry for what he has done. Rains, who has a longstanding history of representing Bay Area law enforcement, did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment. "This behavior is really not defensible,” Rains told NBC Bay Area. “It is impulsive, immature and inappropriate in every sense of the word.” Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 5 hours ago on ars technica
Time starts at the left and moves right, obviously. NASA Time is something we're all very aware of. On my desk, I have no less than four devices that insist on telling me the current time. Despite this exactitude, we have very little idea about what time is and why it has only one direction, and it has turned out to be a remarkably difficult question to answer. Like all good questions, this one lingers, like the contents in the back of a fridge. It haunts our dreams and desperately awaits someone strong enough to brave the mold and scrape out the pot. Time and the laws of physics What is this stuff called time, anyway? No one really knows. It's so embedded in our experience that we can measure its passage more accurately than just about anything else. But compared to spatial dimensions, we know nothing. Take, for example, the expansion of the Universe. This is space—the thing that provides room for us to move—getting larger. Somehow, space is stretching out and becoming bigger. This expansion occurs as a function of time, but... why is time not stretching out as well? Indeed, why is time even separate from space? Why can we turn left or right in space, but not turn "future" or "past" in time? It's simply an enigma. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 8 hours ago on ars technica
Spain passed a new Intellectual Property Law yesterday, which includes a provision to tax search engines that show snippets of other webpages. It's at least the third instance of a European government seeking to impose a fee on search techniques to support their traditional publishing industry. Such efforts are often labeled a "Google tax." "We are disappointed with the new law because we believe that services like Google News help publishers bring traffic to their sites," Google told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.  "As far as the future is concerned, we will continue working with the Spanish publishers to help increase their revenues while we evaluate our options within the framework of the new legislation." The Spanish law allows for sanctions of up to $758,000 for those who violate the law. The penalty applies to anyone who "links to pirated content," according to THR, and in the Spanish view, that apparently includes Google News snippets. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 8 hours ago on ars technica
A Virginia Circuit Court judge ruled on Thursday that a person does not need to provide a passcode to unlock their phone for the police. The court also ruled that demanding a suspect to provide a fingerprint to unlock a phone would be constitutional. The ruling calls into question the privacy of some iPhone 5S, 6, and 6 Plus users who have models equipped with TouchID, the fingerprint sensor that allows the user—and ideally only the user—to unlock the phone. It is possible for users to turn TouchID unlocking off and simply use a passcode, and Apple has provided certain extra protections to prevent TouchID privacy issues—requiring the entry of a passcode if the phone hasn't been used in 48 hours, for example. But if a suspect simply uses TouchID to open their phone, police could have a window to take advantage of that when apprehending them. The case in question this week involved a man named David Baust, who was charged in February with trying to strangle his girlfriend. The Virginian Pilot reports that Baust's phone might contain video of the conflict but that his phone was locked with a passcode. Baust's attorney argued that passcodes are protected by the Fifth Amendment. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 8 hours ago on ars technica
Few things are scarier than 4Chan. But our readers told a few stories that spooked us. Paul van der Werf Earlier this week, we asked readers to share their most frightening tales of technology terror and support horror. And via both comments and Twitter (using the hashtag #ITTalesofTerror), in poured stories that raised goosebumps from those of us who have worked in IT at one point or another. After reading through them, we’ve picked out some reader favorites and a few of our own. Some of us at Ars were inspired to recount further tales of horror from our own IT careers—including one of mine that I’ve saved for last; it should cause a shudder of recognition from our more veteran readers and a bit of schadenfreude from those too young to remember five-and-a-quarter-inch floppy disks. The chamber of horrors Many readers had short tales of terror about mishaps in the closed spaces where we hide our network infrastructure. Eli Jacobowitz (@creepdr on Twitter) shared a short, shocking scenario by tweet: “Raccoons in the network closet (not kidding).” David Mohundro shared another story of a somewhat more smelly infrastructure invasion that brings new meaning to “data scrubbing”: “I saw our IT guys lugging shop vacs through the lower parking deck one day. There was a sewage backup into the server room.” Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 8 hours ago on ars technica
Debris from SpaceShipTwo in the Mojave desert. ABC News Multiple sources are reporting the early termination of this morning’s test flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, which suffered "an in-flight anomaly" at 16:09 UTC. The flight marked the first use of a new type of fuel to power the ship's engine. Unconfirmed reports from Twitter indicate that it is likely that one of SpaceShipTwo’s crew of two was killed in the accident. This information was picked up by at least one Twitter user listening to SpaceShipTwo’s air-to-ground radio over a local radio scanner audio feed. At approximately 13:40 CDT, Virgin Galactic posted a series of updates to their Twitter feed, confirming the loss of the spacecraft but not giving any indication as to the health of the pilots: Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 8 hours ago on ars technica
Mac users tired of their a neglected four-year-old version of Outlook can heave a sigh of relief this morning, as Microsoft has released a new version of Outlook. Dubbed simply "Outlook for Mac," the upgraded release includes several standout features from the PC version of Outlook that Mac users have been forced to go without—and, unfortunately, it also brings with it a few features that Mac users probably wish would stay on the PC. It's my inbox! As with many other companies, complaining about T&E and reimbursements is a popular topic at Ars. There’s a caveat, though: the new version of Outlook for Mac can only be used if you have certain Office 365 subscriptions. This holds with Microsoft’s new policy of "prioritiz[ing] mobile first and cloud first scenarios," and it means that at least for now, users who don’t pay for monthly Office 365 subscriptions and prefer to buy "perpetual" licensed versions (in other words, users who prefer to buy Office the traditional way) will have to wait at least until the first half of 2015 to get their hands on the new version of Outlook. At least for now, it’s subscription-only. More confusing, not all subscriptions are eligible (more on that in a minute). Additionally, MSDN subscribers do not appear to be able to download the application through the MSDN software library (I have an MSDN subscription, and the new Mac Office is definitely not in my download library). If you are a O365 subscriber and have the right licensing, you should be able to download the new version of Outlook immediately. Probably the most significant feature added in the new version is true push support for receiving Exchange e-mail. Office 2011 users have had to go without the instant e-mail delivery that Windows Office users have always enjoyed. Finally, the updated Outlook lets you receive e-mail immediately rather than making you wait anywhere between ten and sixty seconds for e-mail to show up in your inbox. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 9 hours ago on ars technica
Hidden services running on the Tor network got major support on Friday when Facebook began offering Tor users a way to connect to its services and not run afoul of the social network’s algorithms for detecting fraudulent usage of accounts. On Friday, the company added a hidden service address with a .onion top-level domain, facebookwwwi.onion, which allows Tor users to protect their data and identity all the way to Facebook’s datacenters. Hidden services accessed through the Tor network allow both the Web user and website to remain anonymous. “Facebook’s onion address provides a way to access Facebook through Tor without losing the cryptographic protections provided by the Tor cloud,” Alec Muffett, a software engineer with Facebook’s security infrastructure group, said in a blog post. “It provides end-to-end communication, from your browser directly into a Facebook datacenter.” Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 9 hours ago on ars technica
If you want to buy a PC with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, or Ultimate preinstalled, you'd better buy it today. As noted earlier this year, October 31 is Microsoft's cut-off date for OEM preinstalls of the consumer editions of Windows 7. In truth, most major OEMs had all but ceased selling systems with these operating systems long ago. With Windows 8.1 available to OEMs at no cost in the form of its "with Bing" edition, Windows 7 becomes an expensive option. Windows 7 Professional is still available as a preinstall for at least another year. There's no end date actually specified yet, but Microsoft says that it will give at least one year of notice before sales cease. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted about 9 hours ago on ars technica
The Wall Street Journal reports that Andy Rubin, the founder and former head of Android, is leaving Google. The report states that Rubin will be starting "an incubator for hardware startups." The move shouldn't affect Android. Rubin left the mobile division in March of 2013, handing the reins over to Sundar Pichai. Pichai has turned into Larry Page's right-hand man and now controls just about every Google product. For the last year and a half, Rubin has been running Google's mysterious robotics division. We've seen the company gobble up several high-profile robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics and SCHAFT, the winner of the DARPA Robotics Challenge. With Rubin out, James Kuffner will take over the division. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 11 hours ago on ars technica
Nearly a million websites running the popular Drupal content management system had only hours to update their software before attacks likely compromised the systems, thanks to a widespread vulnerability, the Drupal security team warned this week. On October 15, the security team for the Drupal content management system announced the discovery of a critical security flaw that could allow attackers to steal data or compromise vulnerable sites. Within seven hours of the announcement, attackers had begun broadly scanning for and attacking Drupal sites, according to the project’s security team, which provided the details in an October 29 public service announcement. “Systematic attacks were launched against a wide variety of Drupal websites in an attempt to exploit this vulnerability,” the group stated in its update. “If you did not update your site within < 7 hours of the bug being announced, we consider it likely your site was already compromised.” Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 11 hours ago on ars technica
Oscar Swartz After being convicted of “hacking and gross damage,” Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, better known by his nom de hacker "anakata," was sentenced (Google Translate) to 3.5 years in prison by a Danish court on Friday. One day earlier, the Pirate Bay co-founder was found guilty of illegally accessing the country’s driver’s license database (Google Translate), social security database, and the shared IT system across the Schengen zone, Europe's common passport regions. Using this access, he obtained the e-mail accounts and passwords of 10,000 police officers and tax officials. All of that data was managed by CSC, a large American IT contractor. Svartholm Warg's accomplice, who was only named in court documents as “T2” in accordance with Danish anonymity law, was sentenced to six months. T2, the court said, was only involved in hacking attempts that took place on February 13 and 14, 2012; Svartholm Warg continued his activities until the end of August 2012. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 11 hours ago on ars technica
Update: When this story was first posted, there was an error with the axis scale/bar size on the above graph that made the PS4's sales look smaller than they are. Ars regrets the error. Last week, we waded into the somewhat murky waters of console sales number reporting. Our estimate was that Sony had at least 59 percent of the market share in the battle between the PS4 and Xbox One. Since then, newly released numbers, plus a new look at some assumptions about the Xbox One market, have us revising Sony's share of that market upward. We now think it's in the 65 to 67 percent range. The revised numbers come in part from Sony's quarterly report, which shows that an impressive 13.5 million PlayStation 4 systems have been shipped in the period from the system's launch late last year through September. That's up substantially from 10 million systems sold to consumers through mid-August, suggesting that PS4 sales have picked up considerably during September. Perhaps the the high-profile release of Destiny and its PlayStation-exclusive content has something to do with that. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 12 hours ago on ars technica
While there were a variety of rumors that Microsoft would soon ship a wearable device of some kind, the actual announcement and release—with mere hours between them—was a bit of a surprise. It was so uncharacteristically un-Microsoft. Not only did the company manage to keep most of the information under wraps until a few hours before the planned public reveal, but it also managed a real launch of real hardware. Not "you can buy it in a few months" or "pre-orders open next week." Instead, we got "you can toddle along to the Microsoft store and pick it up as soon as the doors open." All this, and a product that's the company's first entrant into a new market, too. In the box. 8 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:[], collapse: true});I had a Band delivered a few hours ago (thanks Jeff!) and have had a bit of an opportunity to play with it. The Band is a neatly packaged but rather chunky wristband. There are three sizes of Band available to accommodate different wrist sizes. Fine-tuning of the design is done with the clasp mechanism. The clasp can stick anywhere along a long groove offering perhaps a little over an inch of size adjustment. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 13 hours ago on ars technica
Sure, you can read all the words that follow (and you should!), but first, come with us on a whirlwind video tour of Turn 10 Studios. (video link) REDMOND, WA—In a relatively anonymous office park about 30 minutes from downtown Seattle, one headquarters clearly stands out from its neighbors. There are unavoidable glimpses of automobile ephemera—Mazerati, Lotus, and Mercedes flags, particularly—hanging in the windows, and the parking lot contains a significantly higher concentration of interesting cars than one would expect. It's subtle, but to the cognoscenti it signals "interesting car stuff happens here." Welcome to Turn 10. Ars editor Sam Machkovech and I recently spent a few hours in the game studio's car-culture drenched halls to learn more about how the fine folks at Turn 10 turn out the various entries in the Forza franchise. If the outside features hint to the workings within, the reception area shouts this office's purpose. That metallic burnt orange McLaren P1 hanging out next to the front desk? It was a version of the car that played cover star for Forza Motorsport 5, although the one serving as gate guard here was, sadly, an undrivable shell and not a full-on, 900 horsepower hybrid hypercar. Despite that fact, it still cost more than $300,000! That carbon fiber bodywork didn't come cheap, it turns out. Sam Machkovech Quite a few racing drivers have sat there, helping to tune Forza. 9 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } Sam and I were issued visitor passes, and our host for the day, Turn 10 Content Director John Wendl, led us past the studio’s assorted trophies and into his world. There were fewer racing cockpits in the office than you might expect. A three-screen Xbox One setup took pride of place in the center of the office, complete with the rather good Thrustmaster TX racing wheel we reviewed recently. Sitting forlornly under the stairs was an older, three-screen cockpit that appeared to have the ability to tilt the seat around. This veteran of many a trade show was now gathering dust, obsolete with the move from the Xbox 360 (and Forza Motorsport 4) to the Xbox One. Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 22 hours ago on ars technica
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler speaking to the cable industry in April 2014. NCTA The head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is reportedly close to proposing a "hybrid approach" to network neutrality in which Internet service providers would be partially reclassified as common carriers, letting the commission take a harder stance against Internet fast lane deals. However, the proposal would not completely outlaw deals in which Web services pay for faster access to consumers. As reported Thursday by The Wall Street Journal, the broadband service that ISPs offer to consumers would be maintained as a lightly regulated information service. But the FCC would reclassify the service that ISPs offer at the other end of the network to content providers who deliver data over Internet providers' pipes. This would be a common carrier service subject to utility-style regulation under Title II of the Communications Act. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Gottfrid Svartholm Warg (center) could be barred from entering Denmark at his sentencing hearing on Friday. Nicolas Vigier One of the co-founders of the notorious Pirate Bay website was convicted (Google Translate) Thursday in a major hacking case in Denmark, and could face up to six years in prison. Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, better known by his nom de hacker "anakata," was found guilty of "hacking and gross damage" after being accused of illegally accessing the country’s driver’s license database (Google Translate), social security database, the shared IT system across the Schengen zone, and the e-mail accounts and passwords of 10,000 police officers and tax officials. All of that data was managed by CSC, a major American IT contractor. Under Danish law, even after conviction, the defendants are only officially known by anonymous monikers: Svartholm Warg was dubbed "T1," while his still-unnamed 21-year-old Danish co-defendant was named "T2." Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Earlier this month, a Quebecois court in Montreal decided that Google owed a woman $2,250 for picturing her with “part of her breast exposed” in a Street View image. The woman was sitting in front of her house, and although her face was blurred out, she was still identifiable by her coworkers, especially as her car was parked in the driveway without the license plate blurred out. As GigaOm writes, “Maria Pia Grillo suffered shock and embarrassment when she looked up her house using Google Maps’ Street View feature in 2009 and discovered an image that shows her leaning forward and exposing cleavage.” Grillo complained to Canadian authorites and Google, but when she had no response from Google after several weeks, she wrote a letter to the company saying: I have informed myself as to my rights concerning this situation through the office of the privacy commissionars of Canada. Under the law my lisence plate should not appear. Moreover, from a safety and security standpoint, the information shown constitutes a total violation. This puts me, my house, my vehicule and my family members that I live with at the mercy of potential predators. I feel very vulnerable knowing that the information is available to anyone with internet access. The damage has been done. Google never responded—it later told the court that it never received the letter and could not find it in a search. Grillo filed a complaint in 2011 asking Google to blur out more of the image, including most of her body and her license plate. She also asked that Google pay her CAD $45,000 for the depression she suffered when her coworkers “at a well-known bank” found the image and mocked her for it. According to Canadian tabloid Journal de Montreal, Grillo eventually quit her job. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Motorola Motorola has announced that it is now officially under control of Lenovo, closing the deal that was announced at the beginning of the year. Lenovo isn't a well-known brand when it comes to smartphones, but the company is a major player in the laptop market, where it usually ranks #1 or #2 in worldwide sales for any given quarter. Lenovo hopes to combine Motorola's brand with its distribution network and the aggressive pricing that allows it to be number one in the low-margin, highly-competitive laptop business. Under Google, Motorola has been one of the more exciting OEMs out there. It produced the first round Andorid Wear device, the Moto 360, and great flagships like the Moto X. It made best-in-class low-end phones with the Moto G and Moto E, and now with Google it produced the Nexus 6. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Retailers say the real culprit in poor cyber-security is those darned uncooperative credit unions. Kenneth Allen Reeling from the bad press associated with an ongoing parade of data breaches caused by criminal infiltration of their payment systems, representatives of six retail industry associations signed a joint open letter that pushes back against a vocal critic of retailers' cyber-security practices—credit union associations. In the letter addressed to the presidents of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU), retail industry representatives accused the associations of spreading “a number of misleading and factually inaccurate points… in the media and before Congress in regards to the cyber security in our country.” The industry group executives insisted that retailers already share the burden of dealing with the cost of lost data—at least to the degree that they are contractually obliged by credit card organizations. But given how much they actually do pay, the retailers may protest too much. Unsafe at any register The letter is a direct response to comments made in a letter to House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) by Carrie Hunt, the NAFCU’s senior vice president of government affairs, posted on October 28. In her letter, Hunt called out the retail industry for not carrying enough of the burden associated with the loss of customers' financial data. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
An illustration showing how Share Play works. When Sony announced the new "Share Play" feature for PlayStation 4 owners two months ago, it was one of the most unexpected and interesting potential uses for its cloud-based gaming infrastructure that we'd heard of. The promise: a "virtual couch" that lets remote players join your games as if they were sitting right there with you. That means the ability to take part in competitive or cooperative multiplayer, even in games not designed for online play, or just the freedom to "borrow" a friend's system and screen to briefly try out a single-player title. With the launch of the PS4's firmware version 2.00 this week, the Share Play promise has become a reality for millions of PS4 owners with PlayStation Plus. After tinkering with the new feature for the better part of an afternoon, we found Share Play on the PS4 to be far from unusable, but also far from the seamless experience of actually playing with a friend in the same room. Setting up a Share Play session is a bit of an onerous process. First, both players have to join a chat party. Then one player has to start the Share Play session though the Party menu. The "guest" then has to connect to that Share Play session. After all that, the host has to virtually "hand a controller" to the guest through another Party screen menu, and the guest has to accept the controller. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
My gamut measurement of the Retina iMac's screen. Unfortunately, the 1931 CIE diagram produced by our measuring software is "non-uniform and obsolete." I originally wanted to devote at least one story to a qualitative analysis of the Retina iMac’s screen, including a list of physical measurements (gamut, gamma, intensity, and anything else I could measure). However, although I measured like a crazy fiend, my hopes of a constructive analysis were dashed when my expert—Dr. Ray Soneira of DisplayMate—told me that the data gathered was mostly unusable. Primarily, it's due to my choice of instruments. Sadly, our Spyder4 Elite just wasn’t quite up to the task. "Your Spyder measurements indicate that the Color Gamut is close but not accurate enough for video production. The most likely reason is that the Spyder is inaccurate because Apple most likely did a better job of accurately calibrating the monitor. The 1931 CIE Diagram that you use is highly non-uniform and obsolete," Soneira said. However, he gamely took a look through the results anyway, and the e-mail conversation turned to resolution. Soneira quickly put forward a handy explanation for why Apple chose the "5K" resolution of 5120×2880 rather than one of the myriad of "standard" 4K resolutions. There are of course a lot of technical reasons to pick 5120×2880—at double the older 27-inch iMac’s resolution of 2160×1440, it makes for precisely four times as many pixels and easy scaling—but Soneira’s explanation was particularly insightful. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Don McCullough The French Interior Minister told French public radio (Google Translate) on Thursday that the government has begun an investigation into who has been flying drones above as many as 10 nuclear power plants nationwide this month. "There's a judicial investigation under way," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in an interview on France Info radio. “Measures are being taken to know what these drones are and neutralize them." Le Monde reported this week that the drones have been variable in size, with some “a few dozen centimeters" in size, while others had a diameter of up to two meters. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
A false-color image of the virus, showing its unusual filamentous appearance. CDC The outcome of Ebola infections often depends on a patient's access to sophisticated medical care. But there's the possibility that it could be influenced by genetics as well. That suggestion comes from the authors of a new paper that looked at what happens when genetically diverse groups of mice were exposed to the virus. As it turns out, the results ranged from losing a bit of weight to complete mortality. The work doesn't seem to have been inspired by looking for insight into the progression of hemorrhagic fever in humans. Instead, the researchers involved appear to have been frustrated by the fact that the most convenient research mammal, the mouse, doesn't experience the symptoms typical of Ebola infections in humans: no problems with blood coagulation, no hemorrhages, and no shock. So they decided to see if they could find a mouse strain that did show these symptoms (and would thus enable convenient studies). To do so, they started with something called the Collaborative Cross collection. Most of the mouse strains used in research have been inbred until all members of the strain are genetically identical. There are, however, differences between strains; C57 mice are genetically distinct from 129 mice. So it's possible to see very different things happen if you do the same experiment in different strains. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
More and more people are becoming familiar with the joys—and frustrations—of online dating. A recent Pew study found that 10 percent of the US public is using online dating services, and a full 38 percent of those people say they are "single and looking." There's enough money to be made as an Internet matchmaker that it's apparently sparking some companies to push the boundaries of what's legal. Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission disclosed that it reached a settlement with JDI Dating Ltd., a UK company that runs 18 dating sites that it claims have over 12 million members. The sites include CupidsWand.com, FlirtCrowd.com, and FindMeLove.com. JDI will have to pay $616,165 in redress, and it must stop business practices that were said to violate both the FTC Act and a newer law that regulates recurring billing online. JDI's dating sites would make fake profiles, which the company called "virtual cupids," and have them send computer-generated messages to new users who had created profiles but hadn't yet paid. On JDI's websites, users received an e-mail notifying them that another user sent them a "wink" within minutes of joining. Then they got additional winks, messages, and photo requests, supposedly from other members in their geographic area. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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