posted about 6 hours ago on ars technica
A physician at Columbia University Medical Center who recently travelled to Guinea to work with Doctors Without Borders has become the first case of Ebola in New York City. The New York Times says that there have been positive results in preliminary tests performed by city health authorities, although these await confirmation by the CDC. This would be the first US case outside of an initial cluster in Dallas, Texas. The physician, who has been identified as Craig Spencer, posted photos of himself in full protective garb on Facebook in September. He returned from West Africa less than two weeks ago, and had been self-monitoring since. He apparently began feeling unwell several days ago, and developed a high fever on Thursday. As soon as health authorities were alerted, they brought him to Bellevue Hospital, which as been prepared for the isolation of Ebola patients and has trained staff for this contingency. Unfortunately, the night prior to reporting his fever, Dr. Spencer took public transportation and a cab in order to go bowling in Brooklyn, according to the Times report. Authorities are now trying to identify people who might have had extensive contact with the patient, and have sealed off his home and quarantined his girlfriend, according to CNN. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 8 hours ago on ars technica
bfishadow/ Flickr In the first quarter of its 2015 financial year, Microsoft sold more phones than expected and continues to do well in the cloud space, leading it to a record for Q1 revenue. Revenue for the quarter was $23.20 billion, up 25.2 percent on the same quarter in the 2014 financial year. Operating income was down 7.9 percent, to $5.84 billion, and earnings per share were down 12.7 percent to $0.55. The large drop in operating income was driven primarily by a $1.14 billion charge for "integration and restructuring." The majority of this, $1.05 billion, was made up of severance expenses and restructuring-related write-downs. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 9 hours ago on ars technica
A single blue orb floating among billions, part of a galaxy that’s among hundreds of billions, houses the sum total of human achievement. The Sid Meier's Civilization series is one of those achievements, taking the total history of that great, big ball we all live on and condensing it into perhaps the best, and certainly the most popular, 4X strategy game ever made. Civilization has always held the sanitized, slightly goofy ideal common to all projects bearing Meier's moniker. Maybe Civilization: Beyond Earth's developers felt infinitesimal when considering the vastness of space, or maybe they were simply struck with a distrust of the future common to science fiction. Either way, the latest game in the franchise that all but defines turn-based strategy is a bit less sanitized and a bit more sinister than its predecessors. For one thing, despite the veneer of technological and social advancement inherent in exploring life on a new planet, the future represented by Beyond Earth is frighteningly similar to that of past Civilization titles. The humans still squabble over resources, land, and ideology, and they do so in ways that are similar to Civilization V from turn one on. The similarities make Beyond Earth feel more like a sci-fi themed Civ V expansion than a bold new direction for the series. Units are moved the same way; cities are grown the same way; resource tiles are worked in the same way. While the new victory conditions each have some pseudoscience flavor dialogue, winning is still a matter of out-researching or out-fighting opposed factions in more or less the same ways as before. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 9 hours ago on ars technica
Aereo on an iPad. Casey Johnston A New York federal judge has sided with a group of major broadcasters—including Twentieth Century Fox and the Public Broadcasting System—and shut down TV-over-the-Internet startup Aereo’s "Watch Now" system. "The Supreme Court has concluded that Aereo performs publicly when it retransmits Plaintiffs' content live over the Internet and thus infringes Plaintiffs' copyrighted works," Judge Alison Nathan wrote in her 17-page opinion and order on Thursday. "In light of this conclusion, Aereo cannot claim harm from its inability to continue infringing Plaintiffs' copyrights. In addition, in light of the fact that Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits rather than just sufficiently serious questions going to the merits, they need no longer show that the balance of hardships tips decidedly in their favor." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 10 hours ago on ars technica
Greetings, Arsians! The dealmaster is back with a bunch of deals courtesy of our partners at TechBargains. This week the top deal is a Dell XPS 8700 desktop computer. For just $799.99 you get a 2.6GHz Core i7, 16GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive and a GeForce GTX 745. That's $500 off the regular price. If you current rig is feeling a little sluggish, maybe it's time to upgrade? This and tons more deals are below. For more desktop deals, visit the TechBargains site. Featured deal Dell XPS 8700 Core i7 Desktop w/ 16GB RAM, 2TB Hard Drive & 4GB GeForce GTX 745 for $799.99 plus free shipping (list price $1299.99 | use coupon code TQR2JHV6XV?$MP) Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 11 hours ago on ars technica
Sam Machkovech It's tablet season! We're swimming in tablets! The tablet fairy has arrived! Etc., etc., etc. As a result, we want to offer first impressions on devices that might otherwise fall through the cracks—and no high-end tablet fits that bill better than this year's Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, which just arrived at our doorstep. That's because it's quite easy to mistake this for last year's Amazon Fire HDX 8.9. In fact, typing "Fire HDX 8.9" into Amazon's search bar will bring up last year's model by default, making us wonder why Amazon didn't take the opportunity to, we don't know, add a "point one" to the name. Either way, if you hold both models in your hands at the same time, you're not likely to notice a major difference at first glance. They share the same weight (13.2 oz), the same dimensions and thickness, the same 2560x1600 display (measuring at, you guessed it, 8.9 inches), the same cameras, and even the same aesthetics, from the massive bezels on the front to the angled, soft plastic shape on the back. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 12 hours ago on ars technica
Lygodium japonicum, the fern in question. Doug Goldman. USDA Sex exists because it's evolutionarily useful—it makes it easier for a population to share genetic novelties and dilute out harmful mutations. But it's also subject to all sorts of additional evolutionary constraints, from the amount of resources devoted to offspring to the challenge of ensuring that a population ends up with a useful ratio of male and female individuals. A paper in today's issue of Science suggests that some species of fern have evolved a rather novel solution to creating a good balance between the sexes: they discuss it as a community, with the discussion taking place via chemical signals. A team of Japanese researchers show that the earliest maturing sex organs in a group of ferns will invariably develop as females. Once they do, they start producing and exporting a chemical signal. That signal is a chemically inactivated hormone. When it's received by an immature sex organ, it gets converted to the mature form, which then influences the development of the tissue, causing it to mature as a male. The trick to all this working is that an enzyme that's essential for activating the hormone is present in immature tissue, but the gene that encodes it gets shut down as the tissue matures. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 12 hours ago on ars technica
T-Mobile's network won't reach into "your cave," so you'll need some Wi-Fi. T-Mobile T-Mobile US is really looking forward to next year’s spectrum auction. Today, it doesn’t have enough low-band spectrum to match the networks of AT&T and Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile VP of Federal Regulatory Affairs Kathleen Ham wrote in a blog post. “As our competitors well know, arming T-Mobile with low-band spectrum is a competitive game-changer, enabling our service to penetrate building walls better and travel longer distances than we can with the spectrum we have today,” Ham wrote. “Imagine a T-Mobile with even greater coverage, offering innovative Un-carrier deals to even more customers in even more places—in direct competition with the Twin Bells!” The Federal Communications Commission plans to set aside spectrum for carriers that lack low-band frequencies (those under 1GHz) in the auction of 600MHz spectrum currently controlled by TV broadcasters. But T-Mobile says the FCC’s plan doesn’t go far enough. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 14 hours ago on ars technica
Simulated tsunamis for earthquakes in several locations. Rhett Butler Surfers love Hawaii’s waves, and many dream of catching “the big one.” For most people living in coastal areas vulnerable to tsunamis, though, “the big one” is a bad dream. We’ve seen many devastating events over the years, but our memory is not so long that Mother Nature can’t surprise us. The 2011 tsunami in Japan testified to that. In 2001, sediment from a past tsunami was found in a sinkhole on the southeast side of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. The mouth of that sinkhole is about a hundred meters from the shoreline—and over seven meters above sea level. The largest tsunami measured in the area had been three meters, courtesy of Chile’s monstrous magnitude 9.55 earthquake in 1960. Could it be that an event was big enough to send tsunami waves over seven meters high to Hawaii in the past? Researchers Rhett Butler, David Burney, and David Walsh simulated a variety of earthquakes around the Pacific to find out. They used a model that simulates the spread of tsunami waves, creating some virtual magnitude 9.0 to 9.6 earthquakes from Alaska to Kamchatka. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 14 hours ago on ars technica
brykmantra It was an eerie tale. Former US Vice President Dick Cheney announced last year that he disabled the wireless function of the implanted heart defibrillator amid fears it could be exploited by terrorists wanting to kill him. Cheney's announcement put a face to the fear of possible medical-device hacking exploits, and researchers and the federal government were slowly realizing there were genuine vulnerabilities associated with these implanted devices. They are equipped with computerized functions and wireless capabilities that allow the devices to be administered without requiring additional surgery, and therefore they could be rife for hackers to exploit. Cheney's move may have seemed far-fetched, but his paranoia is being confirmed as the Department of Homeland Security is now probing potential cybersecurity flaws in certain medical devices. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 14 hours ago on ars technica
Comcast reported its third quarter earnings today with positive results—and even the bad news was good. "Video customer net losses declined to 81,000, the best third quarter result in seven years," the company's announcement said. "I am pleased to report strong revenue, operating cash flow, and free cash flow growth for the third quarter of 2014," CEO Brian Roberts said. In addition to slowing video losses over the past three months, "cable results highlight the consistent strength of high-speed Internet and business services," he said. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 15 hours ago on ars technica
Cyrus Farivar Ello, the notably stripped-down, ad-free social network, announced Thursday that it has taken $5.5 million in venture capital and re-incorporated as a “Public Benefit Corporation.” The company’s founders and investors also published a one-page document in which they declared: Ello must never make money from selling ads Ello must never make money from selling user data In the event that Ello is ever sold, the new owners would also have to comply by these terms So how is Ello going to make money? Even its investors don't know. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 16 hours ago on ars technica
The Sony SmartWatch 3—the only Android Wear device with a GPS chip. Sony Google is announcing the rollout of the first major Android Wear update, which allows the smartwatch OS to do a few core functions without being tethered to a smartphone. The update—which was detailed last month—allows a Wear device to play music directly to Bluetooth headphones and use an internal GPS chip to track location, all without the need to tether to a smartphone. The most obvious use for the new feature is running. Now, with only a watch, a jogging user could listen to music and track their progress with one less device. This previously required dragging a phone along, but when you're running, it's nice to carry as little technology as possible. The bad news is that the first batch of Android Wear devices didn't plan ahead for this. While standalone music will work on existing devices, nothing on the market right now has a GPS chip. Early adopters of devices like the Moto 360 will have to buy a new smartwatch to take advantage of the GPS feature. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 16 hours ago on ars technica
Michael Skrepnick it seems like everywhere scientists look, they're finding dinosaurs. A new species is emerging at the astounding pace of one per week. And this trend continues with the announcement of perhaps the strangest dinosaur find over the past few years: the toothless, hump-backed, super-clawed omnivore Deinocheirus mirificus, which lived about 70 million years ago in what is now Mongolia. Deinocheirus may even become a household name, thanks to spectacular new fossils from the Gobi Desert reported by South Korean paleontologist Young-Nam Lee and colleagues, who published their results in Nature. It is a one-of-a kind dinosaur—a creature so astoundingly weird that the world probably won't be able to avoid taking notice. Half a century of wild speculation It has been a banner year for dinosaur discoveries. First it was the “chicken from hell” and a dwarf tyrannosaur announced in the spring, then the long-snouted carnivore “Pinocchio rex” and the feathery glider Changyuraptor came in the summer. Over the past couple of months, we have been awed by the 65-ton, long-necked behemoth Dreadnoughtus and wowed by remarkable new fossils of the sail-backed, shark-eating Spinosaurus from Africa. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 17 hours ago on ars technica
The joy of shooting three guns at once. It's Bayonetta's world, and we're all just living in it. That much was clear after watching her dispatch wave after wave of enemies in divine style in her first game. Nobody could possibly strap a pair of flamethrowers to their feet and breakdance the propellant over a crowd of hostile angels if they weren't 100 percent confident that they were completely in control of everything that happens next. That sense of control is the most easily accepted facet of Bayonetta 2. Hooking dragons out from hell and launching them at your enemies is as basic in this game as firing bullets from a gun is in a Call of Duty title. When Bayonetta 2 steps past that baseline and actually tries to put on a show, it somehow gets infinitely more absurd, and entertaining. If you played the first game in the Bayonetta series, you know the titular character gets her witchy powers through a pact with the aforementioned hell-spawn, giving her the canvas to express herself through a unique combination of magic, violence, and dance. The result isn't just ridiculous, but incredibly fluid and responsive. Bayonetta is a force of nature in combat, sliding effortlessly into battle to land blows with guns, fists, and any whatever weapons she can collect. Complete a combo uninterrupted, and Bayonetta calls forth a "Wicked Weave" demonic summon finisher before stringing the tempest over to another heavenly target. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 17 hours ago on ars technica
President Barack Obama is being sued for violating the Fourth Amendment. White House Justice Department lawyers have asked a federal court in Pittsburgh to dismiss a sweeping lawsuit brought earlier this year by a local lawyer against President Barack Obama and other top intelligence officials. In a new motion to dismiss filed on Monday, the government told the court that the Pittsburgh lawyer, Elliott Schuchardt, lacked standing to make a claim that his rights under the Fourth Amendment have been violated as a result of multiple ongoing surveillance programs. Specifically, Schuchardt argued in his June 2014 complaint that both metadata and content of his Gmail, Facebook, and Dropbox accounts were compromised under the PRISM program as revealed in the documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 19 hours ago on ars technica
Tie a ribbon around your finger, Google Inbox. We'll be using your reminders for a while yet. No company rolls out the giant, invite-only drool carpet quite like Google. Doesn't matter if that comes in the form of gems like Gmail and Voice or bummers like Wave; the company's early-bird offerings always attract a ton of interested eyes, not to mention rushed conclusions from people who arrive for the mystique, not the product. Most of Google's limited beta launches have come from entirely new apps at a given time, which you might imagine adds to the mystique factor. But there's one bigger way to get attention: hijack and remix the look and feel of an established product like Gmail, which is exactly what Google Inbox aims to do. We received a Google Inbox invite within minutes of the app's announcement on Wednesday, and we didn't hesitate to load it on our Android phones and desktop Web browsers to test Android SVP Sundar Pichai's claim that the combination e-mail/task manager would help us "focus on what really matters." Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
It may not be Superman, but Ubuntu has done wonders for Linux. Nicolás Demarchi In October of 2004, a new Linux distro appeared on the scene with a curious name—Ubuntu. Even then there were hundreds, today if not thousands, of different Linux distros available. A new one wasn't particularly unusual, and for some time after its quiet preview announcement, Ubuntu went largely unnoticed. It was yet another Debian derivative. Today, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, estimates that there are 25 million Ubuntu users worldwide. Those users span 240 countries, and they make Ubuntu the world's third most popular PC operating system. By Canonical's estimates, Ubuntu has roughly 90 percent of the Linux market. And Ubuntu is poised to launch a mobile version that may well send those numbers skyrocketing again. This month marks the tenth anniversary of Ubuntu. As you'll soon see in this look at the desktop distro through the years, Linux observers sensed there was something special about Ubuntu nearly from the start. However, while a Linux OS that genuinely had users in mind was quickly embraced, Ubuntu's ten-year journey since is a microcosm of the major Linux events of the last decade—encompassing everything from privacy concerns and Windows resentment to server expansion and hopes of convergence. Read 52 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Hardware hackers building interactive gadgets based on the Arduino microcontrollers are finding that a recent driver update that Microsoft deployed over Windows Update has bricked some of their hardware, leaving it inaccessible to most software both on Windows and Linux. This came to us via hardware hacking site Hack A Day. The driver in question is for a line of USB-to-serial chips designed by Scottish firm FTDI. FTDI's chips are incredibly popular in this space, as just about every microcontroller and embedded device out there can communicate over a serial port. But this popularity has a downside; there's a vast number of knock-off chips in the wild that appear to be made by FTDI, but in fact aren't. FTDI develops drivers for its chips. The drivers can be obtained directly from FTDI, or they can be downloaded by Windows automatically, through Windows Update. This latter feature is a great convenience for most people, as it enables plug-and-play operation. The latest version of FTDI's driver, released in August, contains some new language in its EULA and a feature that has caught people off-guard: it reprograms counterfeit chips rendering them largely unusable, and its license notes that: Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock On July 6, 2012, a 22-year-old man named Jarryd Hector was partying at a home in Auckland, NZ when he decided to shine a green laser light at a Boeing 737 from Christchurch that was preparing to land at the Auckland Airport. The plane was carrying 118 passengers, the New Zealand Herald reported. Today, a judge at Manukau District Court sentenced Hector to four months of community detention and 150 hours of community service work for his laser antics. For the duration of his community detention, Hector will have to obey a curfew or face an 18-month prison sentence. He will also have to attend drug and alcohol counselling, the judge said. Police told Radio New Zealand News that Hector had shined the light into the cockpit of the landing plane for up to 30 seconds, which illuminated the flight deck and distracted the crew. The pilot notified air traffic control, which notified the police. The police then showed up at the party where Hector was and questioned him. At the time he admitted to using the laser, but said he wasn't shining it at the plane. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
A slide that Apple used in its closing statements during the GPNE v. Apple trial. It includes a few of the statements from the many companies trying to rebuff GPNE's attempts to get royalty payments based on old pager patents. Apple A San Jose jury has handed up a verdict [PDF] finding that Apple does not infringe two patents owned by GPNE Corp., a patent-holding company that has licensed its patents to more than 20 other large companies. While the jury found that Apple did not infringe a variety of patent claims, it found the two patents at issue, numbered 7,570,954 and 7,792,492, to be valid. The patents describe network communication technology, and they were issued in 2009 and 2010. Both are "continuation" patents, based upon other continuation patents, which stretch back to an original 1994 patent filing. Essentially, the GPNE claims are from pager-era patents that the company tried to use to extract royalty payments from iPhones and iPads. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
The femur from which the DNA samples originated. Bence Viola, MPI EVA Svante Pääbo's lab at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany has mastered the process of obtaining DNA from ancient bones. With the techniques in hand, the research group has set about obtaining samples from just about any bones they can find that come from the ancestors and relatives of modern humans. In their latest feat, they've obtained a genome from a human femur found in Siberia that dates from roughly the time of our species' earliest arrival there. The genome indicates that the individual it came from lived at a time where our interbreeding with Neanderthals was relatively recent, and Europeans and Asians hadn't yet split into distinct populations. The femur comes from near the town of Ust’-Ishim in western Siberia. It eroded out of a riverbank that contains a mixture of bones, some from the time where the sediments were deposited (roughly 30-50,000 years ago), and some likely older that had been washed into the sediments from other sites. The femur shows features that are a mixture of those of paleolithic and modern humans, and lacks features that are typical of Neanderthal skeletons. Two separate samples gave identical carbon radioisotope dates; after calibration to the 14C record, this places the bone at 45,000 years old, give or take a thousand years. That's roughly when modern humans first arrived in the region. That also turned out to be consistent with dates estimated by looking at the DNA sequence, which placed it at 49,000 years old (the 95 percent confidence interval was 30-65,000 years). Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Brian Kelley A Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday found that as many as four in 10 adults have been subjected to online harassment and that men and women suffer from different forms of harassment. "In broad trends, the data show that men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment, while young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking," the study stated. Twenty-seven percent of all of those who responded to the survey said they had been called offensive names. As many as 22 percent said someone had tried to "purposefully" embarrass them. Others said they felt threatened, were stalked, or sexually harassed. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
The Logan Square stop on the Chicago Transit Authority blue line. Kumar McMillan A report from BuzzFeed News Wednesday suggests that the tracking beacons that cropped up in New York phone booths last year have spread to new cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago. The beacons have been sprinkled around transit centers, including Chicago Transit Authority rail stops and LA bus stops. The beacons, created by Gimbal, connect with devices like smartphones via Bluetooth and can harvest information like the device's Bluetooth address, as well as the date, time, and location of connection. The beacons in New York were installed as a "test" by advertising company Titan 360. Though officials called for their removal over a year ago, they were not taken out of phone booths until earlier this month, after they were used in promotions for the Tribeca Film Festival and shopping app ShopAdvisor. Marketing company Martin Outdoor Media confirmed the beacons' existence in LA to BuzzFeed News, as did the CTA in Chicago. Martin called the beacons part of a "pilot program" in a press release last week, while the CTA stated its beacons were part of a "two-week test," to be followed up by a bigger test for a longer period with beacons placed and tracked by Titan. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
A new security feature for Google’s services will help users better protect their data by requiring that they insert a USB security key to log in to their account. Announced on Tuesday, the optional Security Key technology requires that a Chrome user take two additional steps to sign in to their Google account: plug a small key into the USB port on their computer and tap a button. The process is a simpler and more secure version of the 2-Step Verification process that Google offers to security-conscious users. With 2-Step Verification, users receive a code from Google on their phone or in e-mail that they must enter into Google’s site to complete the login process. Users that opt for the Security Key technology will have to purchase a special USB key, which typically costs less than $20. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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