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Beware, scammer! Aurich Lawson Windows tech support scams have been conning PC users out of money for years, and there's seemingly no end in sight. The Federal Trade Commission today announced that "a federal court has temporarily shut down two massive telemarketing operations that conned tens of thousands of consumers out of more than $120 million by deceptively marketing computer software and tech support services." This is the third in a series of actions against such operations, the FTC said, and if the past is any indication, it won't be the last. The FTC announced a big crackdown in late 2012 and another in late 2013. But PC users continued to hand over money to nearly identical scammers, according to the latest FTC complaints. Today's FTC press release described a method that has tricked PC users time and again: According to the FTC’s complaints, each scam starts with computer software that purports to enhance the security or performance of consumers’ computers. Typically, consumers download a free trial version of software that runs a computer system scan. The defendants’ software scan always identifies numerous errors on consumers’ computers, regardless of whether the computer has any performance problems. The software then tells consumers that, in order to fix the identified errors, they will have to purchase the paid version of the software. In reality, the FTC alleges, the defendants pitching the software designed these highly deceptive scans to identify hundreds or even thousands of “errors” that have nothing to do with a computer’s performance or security. After consumers purchase the “full” version of the software at a cost of $29 to $49, the software directs them to call a toll-free number to “activate” the software. When consumers call the activation number, however, they are connected to telemarketers who try to sell computer repair services and computer software using deceptive scare tactics to deceive consumers into paying for unneeded computer support services. According to the FTC, the telemarketers tell consumers that, in order to activate the software they have just purchased, they must provide the telemarketers with remote access to their computers. The telemarketers then launch into a scripted sales pitch that includes showing consumers various screens on their computers, such as the Windows Event Viewer, and falsely claiming that these screens show signs that consumers’ computers have significant damage. After convincing consumers that their computers need immediate help, the telemarketers then pitch security software and tech support services that cost as much as $500. The FTC teamed up with the State of Florida on the latest cases, winning federal court orders against the companies that "also temporarily freeze the defendants’ assets and place the businesses under the control of a court-appointed receiver." The complaints say the defendants have been scamming consumers since at least 2012. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Beats' original announcement image when it was acquired in May. Let's call this the next episode, we suppose. Beats Audio On Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that Apple will make a major move to push its newly acquired Beats Music app to all iOS users starting "early next year." Citing "people familiar with the situation," the report (subscription required) claims the Beats Music subscription service will become a pre-installed app in an iOS update, and such a software update could happen "as early as March" of next year. If true, this move would be the first major Apple-branded action involving Beats, Inc. after acquiring both its hardware and software divisions in a $3 billion deal this past May. A forced app install will not replace or remove existing iTunes and iTunes Radio services, but the report didn't clarify whether iOS users would be given any promotional offer to sample the paid Beats service as new users. Prior reports asserted that "Beats Music" as a distinct music-subscription service in name would soon end and that Apple would roll such a paid streaming service into the iTunes app. However, the FT report clarified that Beats' service would persist, only "rebranded under the iTunes label." Additionally, the FT pointed out that this move echoed streaming-music rival Spotify's efforts to have its own app pre-installed on smartphones made by HTC. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock Cyber criminals have started targeting the password managers that protect an individual's most sensitive credentials by using a keylogger to steal the master password in certain cases, according to research from data-protection company IBM Trusteer. The research found that a configuration file, which attackers use to tailor the Citadel trojan for specific campaigns, had been modified to start up a keylogger when the user opened either Password Safe or KeePass, two open-source password managers. While malware has previously targeted the credentials stored in the password managers included in popular Web browsers, third-party password managers have typically not been targeted. While the current impact of the attack is low, the implications of the attacker’s focus is that password managers will soon come under more widespread assault, Dana Tamir, director of enterprise security for IBM Trusteer, told Ars Technica. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The streaked lines, forming a circular path, are the result of strong gravitational lensing caused by dark matter. Taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA, N. Benitez (JHU), T. Broadhurst (Racah Institute of Physics/The Hebrew University), H. Ford (JHU), M. Clampin (STScI), G. Hartig (STScI), G. Illingworth (UCO/Lick Observatory), the ACS Science Team and ESA We still don’t know what dark matter is. The most widely accepted possibility is Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, or WIMPs, and most dark matter searches are looking for those. But other possibilities remain, and these alternatives to WIMPs, the "monstrous creatures at the edges of the dark matter map," are still generally particles, theoretical, exotic, or otherwise. These particles could comprise the mysterious matter that holds the galaxies together and makes up 26.8 percent of the mass-energy of the Universe. Yet there’s another possibility, a different sort of monstrous creature, one that doesn't involve particles. Some physicists have been exploring the idea that dark matter might be ‘topological defects’ in a quantum field. Rather than solid particles, these would be perturbations, or oscillations. This week, two physicists proposed a way to look for such defects using only atomic clocks. Atomic clocks are “arguably the most accurate scientific instruments ever built,” the researchers write in their paper. And, crucially, the clocks necessary already exist in the form of our GPS system. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Artist Mark Farid will stay in a getup like this for four weeks straight, if everything goes to plan. When we've tried out virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift in the Ars Orbiting HQ, we've never lasted more than a few hours without at least a short break into actual reality. That's partly because the current development kits form a tight, hot, sweaty seal with the front of your face and partly because the current resolution on the units has a tendency to cause some funny visual effects after a while. For now, connecting your eyes and ears to virtual sights and sounds disconnected from the rest of your body can be a little overwhelming in such large doses. So we were a little impressed and a little concerned when we heard about Seeing I, an art project where London-based performance artist Mark Farid pledges to wear a VR headset and headphones for 28 days straight. During that time, his sight and sound will be replaced by those of a stranger, simply called "The Other," who will be recording his everyday life through a binaural microphone and 180 degree stereo camera setup attached to his glasses (applications to be The Other are open, if the idea of having your entire life virtually broadcast to another person for a month appeals to you) The Kickstarter page for the Seeing I project is full of heady, art-poseur musings about how technology is taking over our lives and removing the link between our "real" and "virtual" selves ("As we've never been taught how to be alone, we only know how to be lonely" the Kickstarter video seriously intones). Frankly, we're more fascinated with the practicalities of the project. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Over the past year, the Ars staff has collectively run a bunch of benchmarks, worn a lot of earbuds, downloaded a zillion apps, and cursed at more than a few red light cameras. So for our 2014 gift guide, we're taking the opportunity to recall the best things we've officially reviewed and place them alongside a few favorite office and lifestyle additions that we never dedicated a full report to. To simplify the usual gift-hunting fracas, send our massive Good List to a loved one as a subtle hint or pick through it to be a not-so-secret-Santa for yourself. Smartphones The 2014 Moto X. Andrew Cunningham Moto X (2014) Price: $99 and up with contract (Link) If this is your year for an Android upgrade, or if money’s not an object, we wholeheartedly recommend this year’s refreshed Moto X. Slick design, tiny bezels, a sharp screen, killer performance, wonderful battery life, and an unfettered, vanilla Android interface combine for the ultimate five-inch handset. It beats the plasticky snoozers in the Samsung Galaxy line, and it improves on every aspect of last year’s industry-leading LG Nexus 5. Read 114 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Yay... more sack-things to play with! The LittleBigPlanet games are perhaps uniquely difficult to review before their actual release. While there is some offline content on the disc, the bulk of the LBP experience has always been sampling the millions of creations from other players after release and sharing your own creations with others. So the isolated pre-release version of the game I've been playing on the PS4 over the last few days bears only a surface resemblance to the much wider game people will be able to enjoy now that it's available to the general public. While waiting for the community's creativity to fill the game in, I've puttered through the built-in Adventure Mode. The developers at Sumo Digital (who have taken over for the series creators at Media Molecule this time around) built this mode using the same tools players can use to build their own LittleBigPlanet adventures as a sort of showcase for the types of creative options available. Indeed, the Adventure Mode shows just how powerful these tools are in the hands of a team of professional designers with months of time to devote to the project. The levels are brimming with a visual creativity and child-like charm. Every piece is built from virtual versions of real-world materials—sponge, stone, string, marbles, springs, iron, and on and on—each of which look better than ever on the PS4. It's like a child's toy box come to life, complete with colorful stickers and charming incidental background details like bouncing puppets. My only complaint is that many scenes are just too graphically busy, with too many distractions, and the lighting system sometimes makes important elements hard to see. Most of the Adventure levels stick to the series-standard 2D platform jumping, but there's a bit more of a sense of depth this time around, with levels stacked along up to sixteen parallel planes. The upgrade allows for level designs that can be much more freely sprawling, looping in around themselves as the action shifts in and out of the screen. Just as in past LBP games, though, I found the psuedo-3D controls to be more troublesome than they're worth. Rather than being able to run around freely in three dimensions, your sackperson can only awkwardly shift in and out between distinct gameplay planes, a process that's never as smooth as it should be. I would frequently end up missing a jump because I had somehow ended up on the wrong plane or have trouble figuring out what parts of the background could and couldn't be accessed. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2013. Rubio was first to speak against the USA Freedom Act in today's debate, saying it could slow the government from disrupting an ISIL cell. George Skidmore The US Senate voted against reining in the NSA's spying powers tonight, shooting down a proposal that was supported not just by intelligence reform groups, but by the director of the NSA himself. The USA Freedom Act needed 60 Senate votes to pass its key procedural vote, and it failed to get them. The bill got 58 yes votes and 42 no votes. The bill will stop the government from engaging in bulk phone surveillance. Instead, Americans' phone information will remain with the phone companies and can only be searched by request, with specific selection terms. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai, and other organizations have teamed up to create the infrastructure and tools necessary to help websites offer more secure and private browsing to their visitors. The group plans to establish a non-profit organization, Let’s Encrypt, that will freely offer digital certificates and open-source tools for configuring and offering the secure Web functionality known as Secure HTTP (HTTPS). While offering free digital certificates is certainly enticing, creating the tools to easily manage the certificate process and set up Web servers to properly handle HTTPS is the most important part of the effort, Peter Eckersley, technology projects director for the EFF, told Ars. “The unfortunate truth is that there are a lot of obscure and head-spinning technical details that need to be gotten right for a top-notch HTTPS deployment,” he said. “With Let’s Encrypt, we are going to automate as much of that as we possibly can.” Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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On Tuesday, Google announced a money giveaway promotion to encourage Google Wallet users to invite friends to the service. Existing customers can initiate a money-send request in an amount as little as one penny. If the recipient has never created a Google Wallet balance, doing so, verifying identity, and claiming the sent money will result in both users receiving a $5 credit in their balances "within three business days." The promotion will end after paying out to 20,000 applicable transactions, meaning the promotion could max out at $200,000, assuming enough claimants show up by the time the promotion runs out on November 30. Any current user can invite as many people as he or she wants, but a single person cannot claim more than $100 from the invite cash pool, and the promotion has an identify-verification safeguard to stop someone from creating a bunch of dummy accounts to easily cash in. As of press time, Google had not announced that its promotion had already been used up, but we can't imagine it lasting for very long. Google Wallet launched with a similar promotion in 2011, offering new users $10 of credit through a slightly convoluted prepaid card setup; that kind of promotion was phased out as the service transitioned into supporting normal credit cards for mobile payments—a move that ultimately blocked a few serious exploits. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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The "Security ID" and AAccount Name" fields in this event log don't match even though they should. The bug allowed the user account "nonadmin" to elevate privileges to "TESTLAB\Administrator." Microsoft Microsoft has released an unscheduled update to patch a critical security hole that is being actively exploited to hack Windows-based servers. A flaw in the Windows implementation of the Kerberos authentication protocol allows attackers with credentials for low-level accounts to remotely hijack extremely sensitive Windows domain controllers that allocate privileges on large corporate or government networks. The privilege elevation bug is already being exploited in highly targeted attacks and gives hackers extraordinary control over vulnerable networks. "The only way a domain compromise can be remediated with a high level of certainty is a complete rebuild of the domain," Microsoft engineer Joe Bialek wrote in a blog post accompanying Thursday's patch. "An attacker with administrative privilege on a domain controller can make a nearly unbounded number of changes to the system that can allow the attacker to persist their access long after the update has been installed. Therefore it is critical to install the update immediately." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Pretty much anything we do that involves energy, from generating electricity to using it in a laptop, produces energy in the form of heat that ultimately goes to waste. The problem is that all of the means we have of converting heat into useful energy require large temperature differences. The waste heat, by contrast, is a low-grade energy source, usually involving temperature differences of less than 100 degrees Celsius. So far, attempts to find ways of producing useful energy from waste heat have largely focused on thermoelectric devices, which directly convert temperature gradients to electricity. But these devices generally cost a lot to produce, so the economics of using them to capture waste heat are pretty questionable. But now researchers have produced a demonstration of a device that acts more like a battery that can be charged or discharged based on temperature differences. Although it's not especially efficient, the ability to store charges may add significantly to its utility. The research team involved in the work (a collaboration between people at MIT and Stanford) had previously demonstrated an actual battery that took advantage of temperature differences. In that example, which relied on a copper-based chemical reaction, charging and discharging took place at two different temperatures. At an elevated temperature (perhaps one provided by waste heat), the voltage difference needed for charging was lower than it would have been otherwise. By dropping the battery to room temperature during discharge, their battery produced a higher voltage. In essence, the temperature difference was used to get more useful current out of the battery. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Raphael Pirker's unmanned aircraft was very similar to these RiteWings planes. ramsinks A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) panel has reversed a decision made earlier this year by an NTSB law judge, finding that a man’s remote-controlled model plane was indeed an aircraft. Raphael Pirker must pay the $10,000 fine that was originally ordered for violating the provision that prohibits commercial use of an unmanned aircraft. As we reported in March 2014, Pirker used a RiteWing Zephyr II remote-controlled flying wing to record aerial video of a hospital campus for use in a television advertisement back in 2011. The year before, he posted a video filmed from a drone flying over New York City—including a close shot of the Statue of Liberty. Law enforcement did not interfere with Pirker, and he even gave the New York Police Department and the National Park Service a shout-out for "staying friendly, professional, and positive." But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wasn’t amused and brought the civil case against Pirker. Writing for the board in the judicial order, Acting Chairman Christopher Hart states: Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Rockstar Games Video game remakes are far from new—no one forgets when Super Mario All-Stars took the trend mainstream in 1993—but this year seems particularly packed with old games being repurposed for new hardware. Blame that on the long tail of the last console generation, which ended with a focus on games built to be easily scalable. While they were built on the Xbox 360 and PS3, such games were obviously made with an eye to be easily upgraded to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, complete with detailed characters and worlds full of robust geometry. Developers squeezed these games onto the wimpy, low-RAM consoles of the day by making some sacrifices—frame rate, texture size, resolution, anti-aliasing—all the while holding onto code that would shine on current-day hardware with only a few tweaks. The result of such remasters have been solid enough, especially for anybody who missed games like Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, and Metro: Last Light the first time around. Those who had already been down these roads, though, rightly balked at the idea of paying $40 to $60 just for higher resolutions and bouncier hair physics. Even before this trend became apparent, we expected—and hoped for—Grand Theft Auto V to join the remastering party. In our 2013 review of the PlayStation 3 version, we offered wishful thinking: "A new version of the game on next-gen consoles or the PC would no doubt fix [visual] issues and really set mouths drooling." One year later, the game that brought older consoles to their half-a-gig-of-RAM knees has returned, hitting most of the wish list checkmarks: 1080p resolution, smoother frame rates, multiple types of anti-aliasing, updated assets, and a bit of new content to boot. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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James Good Telecom company Frontier paid $2 billion to buy AT&T's wireline operations in Connecticut late last month, and now customers who can't get Frontier service wish the deal never happened. Since the changeover, hundreds of customers complained to local news outlets that they could not get Internet and TV service or that they experienced other problems with Frontier. A total of 130 customers complained to the state Attorney General's office, WFSB in Hartford reported Friday. One customer, Tom Haines of Waterbury, said he would file a small claims suit against Frontier. “I loved AT&T and I was satisfied with AT&T U-Verse,” Haines told WFSB. Since Frontier took over, “I've had intermittent service, the on-demand has never worked and I use that quite a bit,” he said. “I've had extended hold times of up to two hours by just being on the phone with them.” When he decided to cancel his service, Frontier allegedly told him he would be charged $450. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The N1 tablet. Nokia After selling its Devices and Services division to Microsoft earlier this year, Nokia has gotten back into the consumer electronics game with the launch today of the N1 Android tablet. Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies (Nokia's industrial research division) described the N1 as being as good as the iPad mini but cheaper. The design is clearly inspired by Apple's device, as is the copycat 7.9-inch, 2048x1536 screen, but the internals are quite different: the N1 uses a quad core 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 processor at 2.3GHz. This is paired with 2GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. There are two cameras, an 8MP rear-racing one and a 5MP front-facing one. Connectivity comes from 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi. It will also be ever so slightly lighter than the iPad mini, coming in at 318 grams to the iPad's 331, though the N1's battery is much smaller, at 18.5Wh compared to 23.8. The N1 will also be one of the first devices to use the new reversible USB Type C connector. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with a ton of goodies for you, courtesy of our partners at TechBargains. Today's featured deal is for a Steam machine! (Well, sort of.) The Alienware Alpha was designed to be a Steam machine, but Steam OS was delayed until 2015, so the Alpha got turned into a Windows box. This little Core i3 living room gaming box can be yours for $549. It comes with an Xbox 360 controller, Payday 2, and a $100 Dell eGift card. We have that and tons of other deals below. Featured Deal Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Apple has lost a jury trial in the patent hotspot of East Texas. Late Monday, a jury in Marshall reached a verdict that Apple must pay $23.6 million for infringing patents once owned by a Mississippi pager company. The verdict, while large, is only about 10 percent of what lawyers for Mobile Telecommunications Technology LLC (MTel) were asking for. According to a Bloomberg report on the case, Mobile Telecommunications was a wireless messaging pioneer in the 1990s when these patents were filed. The patents were used in its SkyTel 2-way paging system. Now, MTel is a licensing company controlled by United Wireless Holdings, which operates the SkyTel paging system for use by first responders and doctors. "The guys working back then at SkyTel were way ahead of their time,” United Wireless CEO Andrew Fitton told Bloomberg. "This is vindication for all their work." Fitton is also CEO of Hartmann Capital, a London investment bank. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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As of today, developers can officially begin writing software for the Apple Watch. Megan Geuss The Apple Watch is set to launch early in 2015, and back in September Apple said that developers would be able to write software for it using a new set of APIs called WatchKit. Today Apple has officially issued the first beta of WatchKit to third party developers, who can get started writing and testing Apple Watch software now. According to Apple's WatchKit page, Apple Watch apps are actually divided up into two parts. One is "a WatchKit Extension" that actually runs on your iPhone, and the other is "a set of user interface resources that are installed on Apple Watch." The iPhone's more powerful SoC will actually be executing the code, and you interact with that code through the UI on the watch's screen. Apple's introductory video at the bottom of the WatchKit page explains the basics of how the phone and the watch will communicate, and how apps will work—we'll sum up some of the most interesting parts, but developers especially will want to watch the whole thing. The Apple Watch and its connected iPhone will be communicating continuously. The watch displays your app's UI and sends information back to your phone, which actually executes your app's code. This is an interesting way to handle things, because it takes some pressure off of the hardware inside the Apple Watch itself (Apple called the entire system the "S1" in its presentation, but aside from that we know little about it). One worry that has surfaced as pundits have debated the watch's price point is the replacement cycle—does Apple expect you to replace your watch every year? Every two or three years, like you do with your phone? Some guesses, particularly for the gold Apple Watch Edition, have gone up to $1,000 and beyond, and watch aficionados who spend that much on these things generally expect them to last. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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FBI says these and other images were posted on Facebook by the defendant. FBI affidavit A 29-year-old Virginia woman is set to appear again in federal court Wednesday after being charged in connection to favorable Facebook posts about the Islamic State of in Syria (ISIS). One of her posts simply read, "I love ISIS." The woman, Heather Coffman, was caught in a terrorism sting operation after the authorities got a search warrant to unmask her Facebook account information. The warrant noted that there was probable cause to unveil who was behind several Facebook accounts because there were pictures of ISIS freedom fighters with words at the bottom that said "Allah has preferred the Mujahideen over those who remain [behind] with great reward." She also shared a job description on the social networking site that said "jihad for Allah's sake." "In my experience, this indicates support for violent jihad. Further, the mujahideen are individuals that fight violent jihad," FBI agent Odette Tavares said in court documents (PDF). Additionally, in response to a question on Facebook about why she published pro-ISIS pictures, Coffman responded, "I love ISIS," according to the government. The feds also said she posted that she hates gays and Zionists and that "they should all die." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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p | m In a Baltimore trial courtroom on Monday, a local judge threatened to hold a police detective in contempt of court for refusing to disclose how exactly police located a 16-year-old robbery suspect’s phone. Once the Baltimore Police were able to locate Shemar Taylor’s phone, they then searched his house and found a gun as well. But rather than disclose the possible use of a stingray, also known as a cell site simulator, Detective John L. Haley cited a non-disclosure agreement, likely with the Harris Corporation since the company is one of the dominant manufacturers of such devices. Stingrays can not only be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams retorted: "You don't have a nondisclosure agreement with the court," according to the Baltimore Sun. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Wikipedia In a coup for privacy advocates, strong end-to-end encryption is coming to Whatsapp, a cross-platform instant messaging app with more than 500 million installations on the Android platform alone. Until now, most popular messaging apps for smartphones have offered woefully inadequate protections against eavesdropping. Whatsapp, which Facebook recently acquired for $19 billion, has itself been criticized for a series of crypto blunders only spooks in the National Security Agency would love. Most other mobile apps haven't done much better, as a recent scorecard of 39 apps compiled by the Electronic Frontier Foundation attests. Many fail to implement perfect forward secrecy, which uses a different key for each message or session to ensure an adversary who intercepts a key can't use it to decrypt old messages. The notable exception among popular messaging apps is Apple's iMessage, but it's not available for Android handsets. Enter Moxie Marlinspike, the highly regarded security researcher and principal developer of TextSecure, an SMS app for Android. Over the past three years, his team at Open Whisper Systems has developed a open encryption protocol for asynchronous messaging systems. The term asynchronous means the endpoints need not wait for a message from a server or other party to function properly. That's what allows one person to send a burst of a dozen messages while the other remains idle. Implementing strong end-to-end crypto on such systems is especially challenging, particularly when it comes to devising a way to implement forward secrecy. But as Ars chronicled last year, TextSecure devised a clever technique for doing just that. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Hannes Grobe/Wikimedia There are a number of ways that nature has preserved climatic clues providing crude telescopes to view Earth’s past. Whether it’s plankton, pollen, or glacial ice, however, the images we see are fuzzy. Some represent summer conditions more than winter. Some can be distorted by shifting winds or ocean currents. All have some limit to their magnification—showing, at best, the average of a year, a century, or a millennium. The different temporal resolutions come from the rate at which the record accumulates information. A centimeter of ice in an ice core might have come from just one year’s snowfall, while one centimeter of seafloor sediment might have taken a century to pile up. But another part of the limitation comes from how much of the sample we need to use to generate one data point. Now, some researchers have figured out how to get a lot more out of less sample. Cut to the core When an ocean sediment core is brought up, it’s usually split in half. One half will be sent into storage for future study, and the other will be carved up into little chunks and bagged for different physical and chemical analyses. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Texas state school board has been notable for its shaky grasp of science, mostly targeting the presentation of evolution in science textbooks used by the state. This has posed problems for the nation as a whole, as the size of Texas' large student population ensures that publishers try to structure all their textbooks so they can be approved by Texas—including ones that get used elsewhere. That history made people very nervous when it became apparent that some of the social studies textbooks submitted for approval in Texas had stumbled into a scientific topic—and fallen flat on their face. The topic was climate change, and the textbooks did things like present the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as being functionally equivalent to the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank that has in the past questioned whether second-hand smoke was dangerous. Other texts confused carbon dioxide with ozone-destroying chemicals or suggested that there is widespread disagreement over the cause of recent warming. Normally, the thing to do in cases like this is to inform the school board of the problems and get it to mandate changes in the textbooks. But given past history, many people were not optimistic this would be a fruitful approach. Groups concerned with science education, including the Texas Freedom Network and National Center for Science Education, instead took a two-tracked approach, highlighting the problems to both the board and the textbook publishers themselves. They also brought in organizations like the American Geophysical Union and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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I'm imagining the protagonist on this cover screaming "I'm relevant!" as he thrusts his fist into the air. Unless you're a die-hard 3DS collector, you probably haven't heard of Ubisoft's obscure 2011 platform release Cubic Ninja. Plenty of people are talking about, and seeking out, the title today, though, after a hacking group announced it's the key to the first exploit allowing 3DS hardware to run unsigned, homebrew code. It all started early Monday, when the hacking community at GBATemp (known for publicizing many previous Nintendo console exploits) announced they got homebrew code running on a 3DS after months of work. In the initial post, the hackers noted that the exploit requires a specific 3DS game to work, but the group said they'd be keeping the identity of that title secret until the exploit was officially "released" to the public on November 22. Since then, however, GBATemp says that "plans are accelerated," and hacker Smealum revealed on Twitter Monday night that the exploitable game was Cubic Ninja, a tilt-controlled action adventure that got abysmal reviews just after the 3DS' launch in early 2011. While the game is available for download through the Nintendo eShop, only the Japanese edition of the download can be used for the homebrew exploit, according to GBATemo. To get homebrew working on North American or European hardware, you need to track down an actual retail copy of the game card. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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