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The X-47B at its unveiling ceremony in December 2008. The Navy is preparing to start the next round of competition for its successor—a drone capable of dropping 500-pound bombs and acting as a robotic "wingman" to fighter pilots. US Navy The US Navy is close to the next phase of its plan to build squadrons of robotic “top guns,” carrier-based unmanned aircraft capable of collecting intelligence, watching for enemies, and bombing them if necessary. On April 17, the Naval Air Systems Command issued a “restricted” draft request for proposals for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) system to the four contenders who have already been involved in the preliminary design review for the system—Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, and Northrop Grumman. Northrop Grumman won the first round of the Navy’s carrier-based drone program, providing the X-47B for the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The X-47B has already successfully completed the majority of its demonstration objectives, completing three trips to sea aboard Navy carriers; the Navy is extending testing into 2015 for more experience in integrating the drone into air operations and is planning airborne refueling tests for the X-47B later this year. (A Learjet “inflight simulator” equipped with the X-47B’s automated systems and refueling gear successfully completed a mock in-flight refueling on September 11, 2013.) But while the X-47B has demonstrated that a jet-powered combat drone can be operated off a carrier, it’s not the final product—it’s just an unarmed testbed. And while the work done by Northrop Grumman on the UCAS-D might seem to give the company an edge in the next round, all of the competitors will have access to the data generated by the program. Boeing may gain an edge of its own—the company is expected to put together a proposal that saves the Navy money by using parts from the existing F/A-18 fleet. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Google Google's Street View cars buzz up and down the world's roadways rather frequently. Usually, when Google gets new data from its road-going cameras, it takes the old imagery down. There is value in those old Street View images, though, and today, Google announced it will be putting them all online for virtual explorers to dig through. The feature hasn't rolled out to many accounts yet, but it looks like a small, draggable window will be added to the Street View interface. Just move the time slider around and you'll be able to jump through past images. Granted, Street View has only been around for a few years, so the archives only go back to 2007. A few of the events Google suggests browsing through are the building of One World Trade Center and the destruction and rebuilding of Onagawa, Japan after the 2011 earthquake. Besides being really cool, the move will save Google from having to choose a canonical Street View image for every location. If the current image is blacked-out or wrong in some way, you can just click back to the previous one. This isn't the first time Google's Geo team has fired up the DeLorean—Google Earth has been able to browse historical satellite imagery for some time. Viewing things from a ground-level point of view puts things in an entirely new perspective, though. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Wire is the Cadillac of HBO original programming. Or maybe the Lexus. HBO/Time Warner According to a press release this morning, Amazon and HBO have signed a deal that will allow Amazon Prime customers to stream a significant portion of HBO's back catalog of original programming. The press release specifically lists critical standout shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Deadwood; the deal also includes miniseries like Band of Brothers. Streaming access to newer content under the deal is a little murkier, though. The press release states that access to shows like "Girls, The Newsroom, and Veep will become available... approximately three years after airing on HBO." Extremely hot shows, like Game of Thrones, appear to be excluded entirely. The exclusion makes sense when viewed from HBO's perspective, since this kind of streaming deal is an easy way for HBO to monetize older dormant properties without having to shoulder the burden of content delivery (Amazon is doing the streaming, not HBO). It also increases mindshare and has the potential to drive users to become HBO subscribers—a casual streaming customer might catch Band of Brothers or From the Earth to the Moon and wonder if something even better awaits behind HBO's paywall. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock Canonical pushed out Ubuntu 14.04 last week. This release is the first Ubuntu Long Term Support release in two years and will be supported for the next five years. It feels like, for Canonical at least, this Long Term Support release couldn't have come at a worse time. The company is caught in a transitional phase as it moves from a desktop operating system to a platform that spans devices. The problem for Canonical is that it's only about 90 percent of the way to a platform-spanning OS, but it just so happens that the company's schedule calls for a Long Term Support release now. Read 78 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Aurich Lawson As someone who reviews games for a living, I'd like to think that the critical consensus on a game has some correlation with that title's success in the market. That would imply that we critics are pushing consumers to buy games that we consider worthy and to stay away from those we don't like. Alternatively, it could mean that we're simply good at identifying with our audience's tastes, predicting through our reviews which games will appeal to the gaming audience and which ones won't. Proving this kind of correlation is generally pretty tough, though, thanks to limited public sales data in the gaming space. But that hasn't stopped some from trying. At the 2008 DICE summit, Activision Vice President of Marketing Robin Kaminsky went so far as to suggest that "For every additional five points over an 80 percent average review score, sales may as much double." (Though some have questioned that statement's accuracy.) Video game market research firm EEDAR tried tying Metacritic averages for the top 10 games by publisher to financial performance back in 2009 and found mixed results. Individual developers have gone so far as to blame Metacritic for their financial problems following troubled game launches. Now, thanks to our recently unveiled Steam Gauge project, we have another way to try to tie down the relationship between a game's critical reception and its sales success. In comparing estimates of sales on Steam to aggregate review score averages, we found that better reviews do generally translate to more sales for games, especially at the top end of the critical spectrum. That said, there is a lot of variability in the performance of individual games, and a prevalence of good or bad reviews is far from a guarantee of sales success or failure, respectively. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Apple's "OS X Beta Seed Program" is offering an early build of the OS X 10.9.3 update to anyone with an Apple ID who signs up. Apple Apple does most of its hardware and software development behind closed doors, rarely giving public previews or commenting on rumors before it's ready to make an announcement. Today, the company made one small step in the other direction with the OS X Beta Seed Program, through which anyone with an Apple ID and a Mac can download and run the latest developer build of OS X 10.9.3. Apple usually only offers these betas to limited test audiences or to registered Apple developers. It costs $99 a year to stay registered as an OS X developer (and another $99 a year if you want to get iOS software, too). Apple wouldn't tell us whether the Beta Seed program would extend to other OS X or iOS updates, or if major software releases like new iOS or OS X versions would also be offered this way, but it seems clear that the company wants to expand its pool of OS X testers beyond its developer audience. Signing up for the program. Sign up for the program with your Apple ID and you'll be asked to agree to a non-disclosure agreement similar to the one that (theoretically) keeps developers from writing about or publicizing new fixes and features before they're released. You'll then download and install a small package to enable the beta updates, at which point OS X 10.9.3 and iTunes 11.1.6 builds can be downloaded through Software Update as they normally would. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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m Fagen / flickr It's impossible to know from today's oral arguments how the Supreme Court case about TV-over-Internet startup Aereo will turn out. But overall, it didn't look too good for Aereo. More than one justice made it clear they are concerned about the possibility of issuing a ruling that could hurt other cloud computing companies. Justice Sonia Sotomayor mentioned Dropbox specifically. "What does the Court do to avoid a definition or an acceptance of a definition that might make those people liable?" she asked Paul Clement, the lawyer representing ABC and other TV networks. Clement explained there's a "fundamental difference" between Aereo and a simple storage service, similar to the difference "between a car dealer and a valet parking service." If you show up to the car dealer without a car, you can get one. "If I show up to the valet parking service and I don't own a car, it's not going to end well for me." Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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ShellyS Apple has patched versions of its iOS and OS X operating systems to fix yet another extremely critical cryptography vulnerability that leaves users open to surreptitious eavesdropping. Readers are urged to install the updates immediately. The flaw resides in the secure transport mechanism of iOS version 7.1 and earlier for iPhones and iPads and the Mountain Lion 10.8.5 and Mavericks 10.9.2 versions of Mac OS X, according to advisories here and here. The bug makes it possible to bypass HTTPS encryption protections that are designed to prevent eavesdropping and data tampering by attackers with the capability to monitor traffic sent by and received from vulnerable devices. Such "man-in-the-middle" attackers could exploit the bug by abusing the "triple handshake" carried out when some secure connections are established. "In a 'triple handshake' attack, it was possible for an attacker to establish two connections which had the same encryption keys and handshake, insert the attacker's data in one connection, and renegotiate so that the connections may be forwarded to each other," Apple's warning explained. "To prevent attacks based on this scenario, Secure Transport was changed so that, by default, a renegotiation must present the same server certificate as was presented in the original connection." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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How old is the Earth? Depends who you ask. NASA/NOAA GOES Project The Associated Press has commissioned a poll that delves into the US public's acceptance of some extremely well-established scientific findings—so established that most scientists would consider them facts. Although some of these facts have clearly entered the public's consciousness, there are a number of issues where US citizens haven't accepted reality. The survey, which had a sample of over 1,000 people (for a margin of error of about three percent), simply stated the facts and then asked people to express how confident they were in the accuracy of the statement. The pollsters broke it down into three general categories: extremely or very confident, somewhat confident, and what you'd call the doubters: those who were not confident and not confident at all. The good news is that more than 80 percent of those surveyed are strongly confident that smoking causes cancer; only four percent doubt it. Roughly 70 percent accepted that we have a genome and that mental illness is seated in the brain; about 20 percent were uncertain on these subjects, and the doubters were few. But things go downhill from there. Only about half of the people accepted that vaccines are safe and effective, with 15 percent doubting. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The police raid of a small-town Illinois residence in search of the prankster parodying the local mayor was set in motion after the mayor told police he was upset over being falsely portrayed as a drug abuser, according to court documents. The Peoria raid last week resulted in marijuana drug-possession charges against one man. But the operator of the @peoriamayor handle has not been charged. According to a search warrant application, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis was concerned that the tweets in the account impersonating him implied that the mayor "utilizes illegal drugs, associates with prostitutes, and utilized offensive inappropriate language." Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Spacelabs Healthcare Ltd. Federal safety officials have issued an urgent warning about software defects in an anesthesia delivery system that can cause life-threatening failures at unexpected times, including when a cellphone or other device is plugged into one of its USB ports. The ARKON anesthesia delivery system is used in hospitals to deliver oxygen, anesthetic vapor, and nitrous oxide to patients during surgical procedures. It is manufactured by UK-based Spacelabs Healthcare Ltd., which issued a recall in March. A bug in Version 2.0 of the software running on the device is so serious that it could cause severe injury or death, the US Food and Drug Administration warned last week in what's known as a Class I recall. In part, the FDA advisory read: Reason for Recall: Spacelabs Healthcare is recalling the ARKON Anesthesia System with Version 2.0 Software due to a software defect. This software issue may cause the System to stop working and require manual ventilation of patients. In addition, if a cell phone or other USB device is plugged into one of the four USB ports for charging, this may also cause the System to stop working. This defect may cause serious adverse health consequences, including hypoxemia and death. Spacelabs Healthcare received one report related to the software defect. There has been no injuries or deaths associated with this malfunction. At least 16 vulnerable units were in place at hospitals in North Carolina and South Carolina, according to the Class I advisory, the most serious type of recall notice issued by the FDA. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Xbox Entertainment Studios The site in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where Atari is rumored to have buried some 3.5 million copies of the video game cartridge E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is set to be dug up this Saturday. Never wanting to miss an excavation, we've packed our bags, cashed in our frequent flyer miles, and booked our budget motel room to be there on the scene when whatever is down there is dredged up—be it hunks of plastic housing and cartridge chips or distilled evil sent to us by a superior alien race and hidden by the ghost warriors employed by Atari, which was really a front for a supernatural crime-fighting ring all along. Fuel Entertainment Studios secured the rights to dig up the landfill with the help of local garbage contractor Joe Lewandowski, who told a TV news station that he witnessed the Atari dump in question back in 1983. Fuel then asked Microsoft's Xbox Entertainment Studios to help it make a documentary on Atari, which will be directed by Simon Chinn and produced by Jonathan Chinn. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Pavel Durov, founder and former CEO of Vkontakte. Pavel Durov/VK Pavel Durov, the founder of Vkontakte (VK)—the largest social network in Russia—said on Tuesday that he fled the country one day after being forced out of the company, claiming that he felt threatened by Kremlin officials. In a post on his profile page on Monday, Durov explained that he was fired from his position as CEO of VK and that the so-called “Russian Facebook” is now “under the complete control” of two oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin. Durov explained that after seven years of relative social media freedom in Russia, his refusal to share user data with Russian law enforcement has set him at odds with the Kremlin, which has recently been trying to tighten its grip on the Internet, according to The Moscow Times. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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With the rise of digital publishing, running a fake journal for profit has become a viable business model. State of Washington Peer-reviewed scientific papers are the gold standard for research. Although the review system has its limitations, it ostensibly ensures that some qualified individuals have looked over the science of the paper and found that it's solid. But lately there have been a number of cases that raise questions about just how reliable at least some of that research is. The first issue was highlighted by a couple of sting operations performed by Science magazine and the Ottawa Citizen. In both cases, a staff writer made up some obviously incoherent research. In the Citizen's example, the writer randomly merged plagiarized material from previously published papers in geology and hematology. The sting paper's graphs came out of a separate paper on Mars, while its references came from one on wine chemistry. Neither the named author nor the institution he ostensibly worked at existed. Yet in less than 24 hours, offers started coming in to publish the paper, some for as little as $500. Others offered to expedite publishing (at a speed that could not possibly allow for any peer review) for additional costs. The journals in this case are scams. Without the expense of real editors and peer review, they charge the authors fees and spend only a pittance to format the paper and drop it on a website. The problem is that it can be difficult to tell these journals from the real things. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Now you're playing with power... portable power! Andrew Cunningham Portable video gaming wasn't actually a new thing in 1989. Simple, single-game handheld electronic amusements, including Nintendo's own Game and Watch line, had been around since the mid-'70s, and the cartridge-based Milton Bradley Microvision actually beat Nintendo to market by a full decade. But they all became a historical footnote 25 years ago this week on April 21, 1989, when Nintendo released the original Game Boy in Japan. A generation of tech-heads tapping away at their smartphone screens can probably be traced back to that first day when people were able to glance down at the four-color grayscale, 160×144 screen while on the go. The Game Boy had its competitors, some of which were much more technically capable, but a combination of better battery life, a cheaper price, and exclusive rights to mega-hit Tetris meant the Game Boy outlasted them all, to the tune of over 118 million units sold before the system was discontinued in 2003 (and that's not including the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance lines the original inspired). In honor of this auspicious moment in the history of portable electronics, we decided to take a quick look back at our own memories of the original Game Boy. Read 38 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Google Play We haven't seen Google do much with Nest since buying the company for $3.2 billion back in January. Nest makes a connected thermostat and smoke detector, and it's a good bet that Google is rolling the company into its smart home division. Today we finally see the first public Google/Nest crossover: the Nest Learning Thermostat is now available through the Google Play Store. Nest has been selling the device directly for some time, but now the thermostat is in Google's primary store next to smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, and the Chromecast. The device is the same second-generation version that has been on sale since 2012, and it's still at the normal price of $249. Nest's other product, the Nest Protect, isn't yet up on the Play Store. Sales of the smart smoke detector have been halted due to problems with the "Nest Wave" alarm deactivation feature. Nest is even running a promotion for Earth Day. For every Nest device sold today on Google Play, the company will plant a tree. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Alyson Hurt Earlier this month, Comcast told the Federal Communications Commission that it needs the green light to purchase Time Warner Cable as a way to stay competitive with Google, Netflix, and others. Nevertheless, in its latest quarterly earnings report published on Tuesday, Comcast reported that it made $1.9 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2014—an 18 percent increase year-over-year. “Our operating momentum is continuing as we enter 2014 and is highlighted by our second consecutive quarter of video customer growth, as well as strength in high-speed Internet and business services,” Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts said in a statement. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Our partners at LogicBuy have some appropriately themed deals for you today. Today's top deal is a Revolve xeMilo solar USB phone charger with an integrated 4400 mAh battery, which will allow you to charge your phone with the power of the sun! Happy Earth Day! Featured Revolve xeMilo 4400 mAh Solar USB Phone Charger for $99 with free shipping (normally $119.95) Belkin WeMo Home Automation Switch for $44.99 with free shipping (normally $49.99 | use coupon code HSEMLREG10) myFC PowerTrekk Portable Water-Based Fuel Cell Charger for $99 with free shipping (normally $229.99) Desktops and laptops Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Apple has just posted iOS 7.1.1, the first minor update to iOS 7.1 following its release in March. As usual with these small updates, it fixes just a few minor problems—there are further improvements to the Touch ID fingerprint recognition in the iPhone 5S. It "fixes a bug that could impact keyboard responsiveness" and another bug affecting Bluetooth keyboard usage while the VoiceOver feature is enabled. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor was also a focus area for iOS 7.1.1; the update aims to address complaints that the sensor was inaccurate or that it "faded" over time. Current rumors suggest that Apple would like to include the feature in iPads and other products in the future, which only makes sense—features like Siri likewise showed up in the iPhone first and then propagated to other iOS devices later. iOS 7.1.1 applies to every device supported by iOS 7.1: the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C, and 5S; the iPad 2, both Retina iPads, both iPad minis, and the iPad Air; and the fifth-generation iPod touch. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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AT&T and an investment group run by former Fox President Peter Chernin announced today that they have created a $500 million venture "to acquire, invest in and launch over-the-top (OTT) video services." This venture "creates the opportunity for us to develop a compelling offering in the OTT space," AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Stankey said in the announcement. OTT services provide video programming over an Internet connection, one that may come across the same wires as a separate cable TV service. AT&T hasn't been a fan of OTT provider Netflix. It's still haggling with the company over how much money the video service should pay for a direct connection to the TV and Internet provider's network. Netflix was able to strike a deal with Comcast, improving video quality for Comcast subscribers; Netflix quality on AT&T has remained substandard. AT&T's new venture is with the Chernin Group, which Peter Chernin founded in 2009. "This alliance positions AT&T and The Chernin Group to take advantage of the rapid growth of online video and OTT video services, with each party bringing significant and complementary strengths. The strategic goal of this initiative will be to invest in advertising and subscription VOD channels as well as streaming services," the companies said. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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One of the labels that was approved, and then rejected, by the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Palcohol A new alcohol powder is set to be released in the US come fall. Branded "Palcohol," the powder is designed to be added to water by the ounce, resulting in mixed drinks like margaritas and kamikazes, or straight vodka. News of the brand first started circulating on Monday, when outlets discovered Palcohol's site, following its label approval by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The labels were intended for 100-ml packets of powder that were 44-51 percent alcohol by weight (56-65 percent by volume); they instructed would-be imbibers to "just add water." Palcohol is meant to be more portable than alcohol's usual forms, which often involve a lot of glass or aluminum and water. Palcohol will purportedly come in six versions: two straight spirits (vodka and Puerto Rican rum) and four cocktails (cosmopolitan, mojito, lemon drop, and "powderita"). To the inevitable question of "can you snort it?" Palcohol answers "don't do it! It is not a responsible or smart way to use the product," as if that has ever stopped anyone who snorts things from snorting anything. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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What? Really? How? LG LG has launched a teaser site for the G Watch, the company's Android Wear smartwatch. The site is almost a copy of the Moto360 site, but it offers a few extra details about LG's implementation that we hadn't heard before. The most eyebrow-raising of those is the shot above, which claims the display is "always-on" and shows a picture of the normal UI. Other rumors have pegged the Moto 360 as having an OLED always-on screen, which we had imagined would be a mostly black mode with a simple display of the time. Black pixels on an OLED display use little to no power, so it's theoretically possible to have an all-day time display and decent battery life, as long as it's mostly black. LG's site is suggesting that the normal, full-color, mostly white Android Wear interface is on all the time, which is hard to imagine working without a huge battery drain. We don't actually know what screen technology the G Watch uses. The last always-on smartwatch we played with was the Qualcomm Toq, which managed to not die after two hours, thanks to a Mirasol display. Mirasol can be thought of as a "color e-ink" display—changing the screen image takes power, but ongoing display does not. While Mirasol could certainly give the G Watch an always-on display with all-day battery life, the downside is that it's likely to look terrible, as the Toq's display did. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The leaked slide that purports to out the next-generation Thunderbolt controller. VR-Zone Thunderbolt 2 just started showing up in devices late last year, but a new slide leaked by VR-Zone is giving us our first glimpse at what the next version is going to look like. Dubbed "Alpine Ridge," the new Thunderbolt controllers will double Thunderbolt 2's bandwidth from 20Gbps to 40Gbps, will reportedly support PCI Express 3.0, and will reduce power usage by 50 percent compared to current controllers. The downside is that the new version will require the use of a new connector—it supports charging for devices that use up to 100W of power and it's 3 mm shorter than current connectors, but adapters will be required to maintain compatibility with older Thunderbolt accessories. Doubling the available bandwidth will enable next-generation Thunderbolt controllers to drive two 4K displays simultaneously, where current controllers can only drive one. The new controllers will allegedly be compatible with a variety of other protocols as well, including DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0, and HDMI 2.0. Intel will offer two different versions of the controller—a version that uses four PCI Express lanes to drive two Thunderbolt ports and an "LP" (presumably "Low Power") version that uses two PCI Express lanes to drive one port. This is consistent with the current controllers. High-end devices like the Mac Pro and Retina MacBook Pro use two-port controllers, while lower-end, lower-power devices like the Mac Mini and MacBook Air use the one-port version. Thunderbolt 2 gave the specification a performance boost but didn't change all that much about the protocol. It combined the original Thunderbolt's two 10Gbps channels to allow for higher maximum speeds, but it didn't increase the total amount of bandwidth available or introduce any new protocols. The upside is that it maintained full compatibility with all of the original Thunderbolt cables and accessories, something that this next-generation Thunderbolt controller won't be able to do without adapters (though to be fair, USB 3.1 and the new Type-C USB connector have the same problem). Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Peter Miller OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt has created a fork of OpenSSL, the widely used open source cryptographic software library that contained the notorious Heartbleed security vulnerability. OpenSSL has suffered from a lack of funding and code contributions despite being used in websites and products by many of the world's biggest and richest corporations.The decision to fork OpenSSL is bound to be controversial given that OpenSSL powers hundreds of thousands of Web servers. When asked why he wanted to start over instead of helping to make OpenSSL better, de Raadt said the existing code is too much of a mess. "Our group removed half of the OpenSSL source tree in a week. It was discarded leftovers," de Raadt told Ars in an e-mail. "The Open Source model depends [on] people being able to read the code. It depends on clarity. That is not a clear code base, because their community does not appear to care about clarity. Obviously, when such cruft builds up, there is a cultural gap. I did not make this decision... in our larger development group, it made itself." Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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At this point, we're already well past the original promise of a "late 2013" release for BioWare's Dragon Age: Inquisition, a game that that developers initially planned would heavily "draw from Skyrim." Mark your calendars, though, because BioWare has revealed via a new trailer that the game is now due for PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 on October 7, 2014. We got our first look at Inquisition at the Penny Arcade Expo last fall in a hands-off demo that showed off a new combat system and more meaningful storyline consequences to player actions. The developers seem keen to avoid the narrower story focus that led to a relatively poor reception for Dragon Age II and return to the more expansive world-building of the original game. The new trailer doesn't focus explicitly on these elements, though, instead showing off some impressive, Frostbite 3-powered glowing magical effects amid appropriately overwrought storyline exposition. Internet sleuths are already parsing the trailer's imagery for clues about which characters will be returning this time around. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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