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Nintendo There hasn't been much good news to report regarding Nintendo's financial situation since the company's historic annual loss way back in the 2011-2012 period. That may be changing, though, as strong sales of new Wii U and 3DS software helped raise the company to a surprising quarterly profit of 24.2 billion yen (about $224 million) in net income for the three months ending September 2014. That's quite a turnaround after a loss of over eight billion yen (about $74.2 million) in the same period last year. Nintendo cited a few hit titles in driving the financial turnaround: newly released Super Smash Bros. for 3DS sold 3.22 million copies worldwide in September alone, while zany simulation Tomodachi Life sold an additional 1.27 million copies in the last six months. On the Wii U side, Nintendo noted that Mario Kart 8 has "continued to show steady sales," following its 2.82 million unit debut last quarter, and Hyrule Warriors has "gained popularity" following its Western release. Perhaps tellingly, the company didn't release specific sales data for those two Wii U titles. On the console hardware front, Nintendo sold just over 600,000 Wii U units worldwide in the July through September period, pushing the system to 7.29 million units overall since its 2012 launch. That puts the total installed base for the Wii U roughly on par with that for the Xbox One, according to a recent Ars analysis. It's important to note, though, that Nintendo's system has had an extra year on the market to reach that sales figure, and the Wii U currently seems to be selling more slowly than the Xbox One on a monthly basis. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Defendant Paul Phua YouTube When the FBI applied for warrants this summer to raid three $25,000-per-night villas at Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino, it omitted some key investigatory details that eventually resulted in the arrest of eight individuals, including an alleged leader of a well-known Chinese crime syndicate, defense lawyers maintained in Las Vegas federal court documents late Tuesday. The authorities built, in part, a case for a search warrant (PDF) by turning off Internet access in three villas shared by the eight individuals arrested. At various points, an agent of the FBI and a Nevada gaming official posed as the cable guy, secretly filming while gathering evidence of what they allege was a bookmaking ring where "hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal bets" on World Cup soccer were taking place. "If this Court authorizes this duplicity, the government will be free to employ similar schemes in virtually every context to enter the homes of perfectly innocent people. Agents will frequently have no incentive to follow the warrant procedure required by the Constitution," defense lawyers wrote the Las Vegas federal magistrate presiding over the prosecution. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock Welcome to Ars UNITE, our week-long virtual conference on the ways that innovation brings unusual pairings together. Today, a look at the slow roll to autonomous cars. Join us this afternoon (3pm ET) for a live discussion on the topic with article author Jonathan Gitlin and his expert guests; your comments and questions are welcome. Self-driving AI cars have been a staple in popular culture for some time—any child of the 1980s will fondly remember both the Autobots and Knight Rider’s KITT—but consider them to be science fiction no longer. Within the next five years, you’ll be able to buy a car that can drive itself (and you) down the highway, although transforming into a Decepticon-battling robot or crime-fighter may take a while longer. As one might expect, the journey to fully automated self-driving cars will be one of degrees. Here in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created five categories of autonomous cars. The most basic of these are level zero, which might include your vehicle if it doesn’t have a system like electronic stability control. Fully autonomous cars, which can complete their journeys with no human control beyond choosing the destination, are categorized as level four. While level fours are still some way off, level three autonomous cars, which will be able to self-drive under certain conditions (say, an HOV lane during rush hour), are much closer than one might think. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the industry group that oversees the development of the specs used on the Web, today announced that the fifth major version of the hypertext markup language specification, HTML5, was today given Recommendation status, W3C's terminology for a final, complete spec. The last version of HTML was 4.01, released in December 1999, making it almost fifteen years between updates. That's a long time to wait. The story of HTML5's development was a messy affair. After HTML 4.01, W3C embarked on XHTML, an update to HTML that incorporated various XML features such as stricter validation of Web pages, and which was intended to make HTML "modular," broken down into a range of sub-specifications. XHTML wasn't particularly compatible with the real world, however—Web pages that are, per the specs, broken are abundant, and under XHTML rules, browsers should refuse to display such pages entirely—and many in the Web community felt that W3C had lost its way, and was irrelevant to the needs of real Web developers. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(Almost) all the news that's fit to print. SugarString The tech press has competition from Verizon Wireless. Verizon's wireless subsidiary is bankrolling a tech site called SugarString. It looks kind of like a regular news site at first glance, but scroll to the bottom and you'll see the words, "Presented by Verizon," followed by this disclaimer: "These articles were written by authors contracted by Verizon Wireless. The views expressed on SugarString may not necessarily reflect those of Verizon Wireless." The site has headlines such as "Why The Future Of Anonymous Browsing Lies In Hardware," "Drag Queen Lady Bunny Speaks on Controversial Facebook Policy," and "Just How Terrible Is Hungary’s Proposed Internet Tax?" Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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TV-over-Internet company Aereo, shut down this summer by a Supreme Court decision, may still pull victory from the jaws of defeat. As was rumored last month, the FCC may be its savior. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler published a blog post today saying that Aereo, and other "linear channels" of online programming, should be allowed to negotiate for programming just like cable companies. Just like satellite companies needed regulatory change in order to be allowed to compete in 1992, Internet video providers should be able to negotiate on the same terms, he wrote. While Wheeler writes that "Aereo visited the commission to make exactly this point," he emphasizes that this isn't a rule that would be for just one company. Dish, Sony, Verizon, and DirecTV have all showed interest in offering preprogrammed content online, he noted; CBS and HBO, which recently announced it would offer online-only service, may well join in. Wheeler wrote, in part: Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A professional espionage group has targeted a variety of Eastern European governments and security organizations with attacks aimed at stealing political and state secrets, security firm FireEye stated in a report released on Tuesday. The group, dubbed APT28 by the company, has targeted high level officials in Eastern European countries such as Georgia, and security organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). While Russian and Ukrainian cybercriminal groups are known to conduct massive campaigns aimed at stealing money and financial information, APT28 focuses solely on political information and state secrets, according to FireEye. The report argues that the group is closely tied to Russia and likely part of Moscow’s intelligence apparatus. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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samazgor Several months ago, Facebook acquired messaging startup WhatsApp for a whopping $16 billion, plus an additional $3 billion for its founders and small staff. On Tuesday, Facebook announced that in 2012 and 2013, WhatsApp lost a combined $192.8 million. (WhatsApp famously has no advertising, and its current revenue model is to make money off annual subscription fees.) Facebook also disclosed for the first time how it arrived at that $16 billion purchasing figure: $15.3 billion of that was simply wrapped up in the nebulous accounting term: “goodwill.” "We're the most atypical Silicon Valley company you'll come across," Brian Acton, a WhatsApp co-founder, told Wired UK in February. "We were founded by thirtysomethings; we focused on business sustainability and revenue rather than getting big fast; we've been incognito almost all the time; we're mobile first; and we're global first." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Aurich Lawson In our second day of the Ars UNITE virtual conference, we looked at just how broken cloud privacy is and asked what can be done to fix it. Response to our feature on the topic, “Taking back privacy in the post-Snowden cloud,” fell primarily into two camps: “Don’t use the cloud!” and “build your own!” (The latter which can be loosely translated as... “don’t use the cloud.") It seems unlikely that Congress will act to fix the problems with cloud privacy, which include a gap between privacy laws in the US and other countries. That was a source of concern long before the Snowden revelations, and it predates the extra-territorial reach of US law enforcement and intelligence damaging trust in cloud privacy overseas. Long-time Arsian Kilroy240 expressed cynicism over any government involvement in a fix. “Other than minimizing cyber-theft (personal/corporate data, IP), what would the government gain by improving the security of the cloud?” the user wrote. “This would just make it harder for them to monitor data traffic—strictly because they are trying to ‘save us from the terrorists.” Both in the feature comments and in the live discussion, we explored whether government could (and would) do anything to fix the cloud’s privacy and security problems—many of which government agencies created in the first place. Perhaps more importantly, what could be done absent their help? Read 70 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Plenty of Comcast and Verizon customers know just how bad Internet service was on major ISPs during the months-long battle over who should pay to deliver Netflix traffic. But now we have more numbers on the performance declines, thanks to a new report from the Measurement Lab Consortium (M-Lab). M-Lab hosts measuring equipment at Internet exchange points to analyze connections between network operators and has more than five years' worth of measurements. A report released today examines connections between consumer Internet service providers ("Access ISPs" in M-Lab parlance) and backbone operators ("Transit ISPs"), including the ones that sent traffic from Netflix to ISPs while the money fights were still going on. Netflix eventually agreed to pay Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T for direct connections to their networks, but until that happened there was severe degradation in links carrying traffic from Netflix and many other Web services to consumers. Connections were particularly bad between ISPs and Cogent, one of the backbone operators that Netflix paid to carry its traffic. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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"His eyes seem to follow me wherever I go." Vatican Pope Francis took a stroll yesterday from the Vatican guest house apartment where he lives over to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to unveil a bust of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The bust itself is rather Teutonically foreboding, but the most interesting bit of the unveiling came when Francis made a short speech to assembled members of the Academy. Though only a few paragraphs long (and currently available only in Italian; the translation below is unofficial), Francis's remarks focused largely on evolution—still a controversial doctrine in parts of the worldwide Christian church. "When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we are in danger of imagining that God was a magician, complete with a magic wand capable of doing anything," Francis said. "But he was not. He created beings and let them develop in accordance with the internal laws that He has given to each one." He went on: Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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One of the important consequences of Microsoft's new approach to updating Windows is that the company can deliver iterative, incremental improvements. This process has started already with the Windows 10 Technical Preview, and today at TechEd Europe in Barcelona, the company showed a few more small changes that will be coming soon. Two improvements were demonstrated, and, in keeping with past work on Windows 10, they were designed to make the desktop experience better. The Aero Snap feature introduced in Windows 7 that enables side-by-side docking of desktop windows is being made better on multi-monitor systems. In Windows 7 and 8, dragging windows with the mouse only supports snapping at the extreme screen edges; the internal edges between monitors don't "catch" the dragged windows (though the keyboard shortcuts can still be used to snap on all monitors). In Windows 10, snapping with the mouse will work on every monitor, making it much easier to snap on multimonitor systems. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Adobe cares not for bullies, and on Tuesday, the company finally called out GamerGate participants for bullying. On Tuesday, software maker Adobe took to its official blog to respond to a week-old brouhaha involving GamerGate, ultimately distancing itself from "bullying" associated with the anonymous hashtag. One week ago, a post from the company's official Twitter feed launched Adobe into the GamerGate maelstrom, and today's post came "because it appears that our silence is causing more harm than good," Adobe wrote. The post explained that Adobe had recently requested its logo be removed from an "advertisers" page at the Gawker media network. That fact had been perceived as a victory by apparent GamerGate supporters who'd asked companies to pull their ads from sites and magazines they had decried (known as "Operation Silent Nod"), including Gawker, whose editor Sam Biddle had posted tweets that had mentioned bullying. While Adobe's Tuesday post appeared to deny such a connection, it also mentioned last week's official (and unclear) tweet about the advertising issue. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A compliant stream. imaqtpie Streaming site Twitch is taking a hard line against users whose feeds include "sexually suggestive" outfits, according to the rules of conduct changes that posted Monday. "Nerds are sexy, and you're all magnificent, beautiful creatures, but let's try and keep this about the games, shall we?" reads the update. Twitch states that gamers who stream themselves in no clothing, or sexually suggestive clothing including but not limited to underwear, lingerie, swimsuits, or pasties "will most likely get… suspended." Since the policy was implemented, Twitch has already banned one performer, according to Gamerheadlines: Rooster Teeth representative Meg Turney, who is "Known for her high quality cosplay and saucy lingerie photos alongside excellent journalism for Rooster Teeth’s news show ‘The Know.’" Twitch clarifies that even players who try to claim skimpy outfits or shirtlessness is due to the weather will still get banned. "If it's unbearably hot where you are, and you happen to have your shirt off (gents) or a bikini top (ladies), then just crop the webcam to your face. If your lighting is hot, get fluorescent bulbs to reduce the heat. Xbox One Kinect doesn't zoom? Move it closer to you, or turn it off. There is always a workaround." Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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This summer's news that deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was suing Call of Duty: Black Ops II maker Activision for inappropriate use of his likeness has the making of a nuisance lawsuit without much merit. A Los Angeles judge agreed with that assessment today, ruling that Noriega's lawsuit be dismissed with prejudice. In his ruling [PDF], Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William H. Fahey noted that "Noriega's right of publicity is outweighed by defendants' First Amendment right to free expression." Fahey said Activision proved conclusively that Noriega was already known as a "notorious public figure," and that Noriega "failed to provide any evidence of harm to his reputation. Indeed, given the world-wide reporting of his actions in the 1980s and early 1990s, it is hard to imagine that any such evidence exists." The ruling leaned heavily on reasoning laid out in a 2010 case brought against Activision by the band No Doubt, in which the group complained that its image was used in inappropriate ways in Guitar Hero. Unlike that case, here Fahey found that Activision's use of Noriega's likeness was "transformative," constituting "caricature, parody, and satire" that did not make up "the very sum and substance" of the work. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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YoungToymaker In 2007, the FBI wrote a fake news story about bomb threats in Thurston County, Washington, and then sent out e-mail links "in the style of the Seattle Times." The details have now been published by that very same newspaper, which today carries a story including outraged quotes from a Seattle Times editor. The FBI put an Associated Press byline on the fake news story, which was about the bomb threats in Thurston County that they were investigating. “We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the US Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,” said Seattle Times editor Kathy Best. "Not only does that cross a line, it erases it." Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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We recently got to speak to some executives from the Android team about the upcoming Nexus 6, 9, and Android 5.0, Lollipop. We turned out a hands-on article and an interview post from the meeting, but some people wanted a transcript of the interview. So here you go! This is the mostly raw transcript from our conversation with Google. We skipped the hands-on discussion because without the context of the device in front of you, it's not very useful. The conversation is with Dave Burke, VP of engineering for the Android platform and Nexus devices, Brian Rakowski, VP of product management, and Gabe Cohen, the Android team's group product manager. Again, we've curated the important parts in this article, and this is just for people who want to dig through the whole interview. Enjoy! Read 43 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Two iPad Air 2 models posed perpendicularly, if you're asking. Sam Machkovech Apple has trained us pretty well about what to expect from alternating years of iDevice launches. The year of the Big Upgrade is routinely followed by the year of an extra letter tacked to the end of the name. Traditionally, Apple devotes its so-called "off" years to smoothing out prior iPhone or iPad issues while introducing respectable speed and spec boosts, even the occasional cool new feature. While we know better than to expect tablet revelations on an annual basis, now is a bad time for Apple to hit the snooze button. iPad sales are flattening, tablet/phablet competition is growing, and there's a looming sense—one we already had last year—of wonder on the device itself, of where, exactly, the default iPad form factor fits into our personal device portfolio. It's good that in the face of all that, the iPad Air 2 really isn't a standard off-year release. It barely bends the external mold of its 2013 Air sibling, sharing most of the same dimensions and screen attributes, but it also takes the processing power and spec sheet we were happy to pay $500-plus for last year and jacks them up significantly. On top of everything, Apple reduces device thickness and weight even further for its latest iPad (and the company even improves the rear-facing camera, too). Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Barents and Kara Seas, along with some of their ice. NASA The cold winters in recent years have led some people to question the reality of climate change. But the winters have come at times where the global temperature was at or near record highs—so the issue was how the cold was distributed around the globe as much as anything else. At the same time, there have been some suggestive hints that climate change may be influencing that distribution, at least indirectly, through the loss of Arctic sea ice. The idea was very preliminary, however, and it was difficult to get data that conclusively supported it. Now, a group of Japanese researchers found evidence that the loss of sea ice makes cold winters in Eurasia twice as likely as they would be otherwise. The challenge of attributing cold winters to the loss of sea ice is that both of these phenomena show strong year-to-year variability. Thus, in order to tease out a correlation, you need long-term data on both. But we've only had accurate satellite measurements of sea ice since about 1980. If there is a connection between the two, it should show up in climate models if they're fed sea ice conditions that match those of the present. But climate models show strong variability in the winter weather they generate, which again makes determining any correlations very difficult. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Mike Mozart The Federal Trade Commission has sued AT&T for promising unlimited data to wireless customers and then throttling their speeds by as much as 90 percent, the FTC announced today. All major carriers throttle certain customers during times and places of congestion, as we've reported previously. AT&T seems to have earned the FTC's wrath by throttling customers regardless of whether they were trying to use their phones in congested areas, however. As we've also written, AT&T was throttling unlimited subscribers regardless of network conditions until July, when it changed its policy. Throttling was enforced once users hit 3GB or 5GB of data per month. The FTC's lawsuit in US District Court in San Francisco alleges that AT&T hit unlimited data customers with an "unfair mobile data throttling program" and that AT&T committed a "deceptive failure to disclose [the] mobile data throttling program." Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A new report was published today noting a drop-off in recent patent lawsuits. The data released by Unified Patents is the second recent indication that there may be a decline in suits following this summer's US Supreme Court decisions. The Unified Patents data shows that the third quarter of 2014 saw 23 percent fewer patent cases overall. When looking only at litigation from patent trolls, which Unified calls "non-practicing entities" or NPEs, one sees a 35 percent drop. Unified Patents As with the earlier Lex Machina data, it's too early to determine the decline is necessarily tied to the Alice v. CLS Bank decision from this summer. In that decision, the US Supreme Court said that "do it on a computer"-style patents should be knocked out as too "abstract" for patenting. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Public cloud services have become critical to much of our digital lives, but the privacy and security of these services has always been suspect. And today, the Snowden leaks and the revelations of NSA and GCHQ spying on cloud services have created a backlash internationally for US cloud providers. How big of a concern is the privacy of the public cloud? And what can we do to make it more privacy-friendly and secure? Join us today at 2:30pm ET for a live discussion on those questions and others regarding the future of cloud computing. Joining us for the live conversation will be: Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Duncan C Federal authorities have identified and recently searched the home of a suspected “second leaker”—in other words, not Edward Snowden—who has been providing sensitive surveillance-related documents to journalists for months now, according to Yahoo News. In particular, this second leaker is allegedly the source for documents discussing the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, first published by The Intercept in August 2014. This leaker may have also provided the National Security Agency’s Tailored Access Operations catalog to the German magazine Der Spiegel in December 2013. Yahoo News, citing anonymous sources, reported that Justice Department officials “may now be more reluctant to bring criminal charges involving unauthorized disclosures to the news media,” a likely reference to the resulting public relations backlash against the prosecutors of WikiLeaks-leaker Chelsea Manning and the ongoing case of investigative New York Times reporter James Risen, who may face jail time for not revealing a source. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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When Disney bought Lucasfilm for over $4 billion nearly two years ago to the day, we lamented the uncertain publishing future of the company's stable of classic LucasArts games. The fear was that these classics would be lost in corporate shuffling indefinitely. Thankfully, digital distribution site GoG isn't letting that happen. This week, GoG published its first games from the Lucasfilm/Disney catalog as DRM-free downloads playable on modern machines. While the digital distribution site says its partnership with Disney Interactive allows for the release of 20+ classic LucasArts games, today's offerings include the following six titles: Star Wars: X-Wing Special Edition - Windows - $9.99 - first downloadable release Star Wars: TIE Fighter Special Edition - Windows - $9.99 - first downloadable release Sam & Max Hit the Road - Windows, Mac, Linux - $5.99 - first downloadable release The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition - Windows - $9.99 (temporary 20 percent off sale price) Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - Windows, Mac, Linux - $5.99 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - Windows - $9.99 (temporary 20 percent off sale price) More LucasArts games will be "popping up frequently" on GOG.com in the coming months according to the site. A number of LucasArts classics are also available on Steam, if that's more your speed. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Comcast last week applied for a trademark on the phrase "True Gig" to describe extremely fast Internet service. The trademark application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (and reported yesterday by The Donohue Report) says that True Gig describes "Internet service provider services; providing high speed access to the Internet, mobile networks, and other electronic communications networks; wireless broadband communication services; provision of telecommunication access to video and audio content via cable, fiber optics, the Internet, mobile networks, and other electronic communications networks." Comcast is also using True Gig to describe online video streaming, specifically "provision of non-downloadable films, movies, and television programs via an online video-on-demand service; providing entertainment information via television, cable, telephone, wireless broadband, fiber broadband, and via the Internet." Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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