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Developers with Tor have published a browser update that patches a critical Firefox vulnerability being actively exploited to deanonymize people using the privacy service. "The security flaw responsible for this urgent release is already actively exploited on Windows systems," a Tor official wrote in an advisory published Wednesday afternoon. "Even though there is currently, to the best of our knowledge, no similar exploit for OS X or Linux users available, the underlying bug affects those platforms as well. Thus we strongly recommend that all users apply the update to their Tor Browser immediately." The Tor browser is based on the open source Firefox browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla officials said on Tuesday they were in the process of developing a fix that presumably included mainstream versions of Firefox, but at the time this post was being prepared, a patch was not yet available. Mozilla representatives didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment for this post. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Certain pieces of technology tend to stick around. USB has been the connector of choice for all manner of peripherals for two decades, and ATA hard disks, first parallel and now serial, have a history back to 1986. Over the last few years, however, we've started to see real alternatives to these technologies hit the market, with NVMe storage and Thunderbolt 3 for attaching devices. Similarly, touchpads have gone from dumb mouse emulators (often using the venerable PS/2 interface) to complex multi-finger pressure sensing devices with the Precision Touchpad specification. We've also seen formerly niche capabilities, such as biometric authentication, move into the mainstream. Both facial recognition and fingerprints continue to become familiar parts of the hardware landscape. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Pipeline in Alberta, Canada. (credit: jasonwoodhead23) In the US, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline meant to carry oil from Alberta, Canada’s oil sands to refineries in Illinois and on the Gulf Coast ultimately died due to stiff opposition. That wasn’t the only route Alberta’s oil industry is pursuing to get its oil to market, though. On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced decisions on three major pending pipeline projects. One was rejected, but two received a thumbs-up. The especially controversial Northern Gateway pipeline would have carried oil from Edmonton, Alberta, to a port in Kitimat, British Columbia. Trudeau said this new pipeline would not be approved, citing environmental concerns for the newly protected Great Bear Rainforest that covers islands along the coast that would see greatly increased oil tanker traffic. But a major proposal to expand the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to a port near Vancouver will proceed. A second pipeline will be built to parallel the existing one, boosting the capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day. That will, at least, replace the volume currently being transported to the coast by rail as it heads to markets in Asia. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Kalief Browder) Altice USA, which recently became the country's fourth largest cable company by purchasing Cablevision and Suddenlink, today announced a big project to replace cable with fiber-to-the-home technology. Altice said it intends to "deliver broadband speeds of up to 10 Gbps across its footprint." Based in the Netherlands, Altice purchased Suddenlink in December 2015 and Cablevision in June this year. The Altice USA division has 4.1 million broadband subscribers and 3.6 million pay-TV subscribers. Counting customers who subscribe to one or more services, Altice USA has 4.6 million customers in 20 states. Cable dominates the US broadband market, easily outperforming DSL networks that use old copper telephone lines. But fiber is generally even faster than cable, especially in upload speeds, so cable companies including Comcast have been building fiber-to-the-home in some areas. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains, we're back with more Cyber Week deals for you. This entire week you can save a lot of money on a bunch of electronics, including the Dell Latitude 15 3000 laptop with a Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GPU or Dell XPS 13 laptops with Kaby Lake processors and 8GB of RAM, just to name a few. Below is a huge list of deals on desktops, TVs, smart home devices, and more, and you can check out even more Cyber Week Deals at TechBargains. Featured Deals $100 Price drop and lowest price! 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(credit: Phil Roeder) "By sitting here and doing nothing, the Senate has given consent to this expansion of government hacking and surveillance." Sen. Ron Wyden (credit: Senate Democrats) Those were the words Wednesday of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) as he failed to convince fellow senators to even hold a floor vote that could block changes to what is known as Rule 41 from taking effect Thursday. Wyden was referencing an amended Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure, which originated from an unelected advisory committee and was signed by the Supreme Court in April. By rule, it becomes effective December 1. The measure clarifies the law allowing judges to sign warrants that let authorities hack into computers outside a judge's jurisdiction. The rule also gives federal judges the authority to issue a warrant to search multiple computers—even without knowing who is the targeted computer owner. Previously, some judges had practiced this, while others did not. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Jonathan Gitlin Infiniti's 2017 Q60 sports coupé exemplifies a trend that's been underway for some time in the auto industry: the software-defined car. The car—Infiniti's answer to a BMW 4 Series—is completely drive-by-wire. Yes, the throttle and brakes are all controlled by electronics, but so too is the steering, which operates without a mechanical linkage to the front wheels. The flick of a switch reconfigures the Q60's systems, changing the car's behavior to suit one's mood and the road conditions. This is fast becoming normal throughout the automotive marketplace, but it represents a sea change compared to cars from just a few years ago. The Q60 fills an important niche in Infiniti's lineup. The brand had a lot of success with the rear-wheel drive G35 and then G37 coupés here in the US, and Infiniti wants to rekindle that, drawing away sales from BMW and Audi. That means this car ought to look good inside and out, pack a punch under the hood, and provide the kind of driver feedback (read, excitement) that encourages the owner to think about taking the long—and twisty—way home instead. To find out if that's the case, we spent a week with one—a 3.0t Premium rear wheel drive model. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Free Barrett Brown) Barrett Brown, an award-winning journalist who was sentenced in January 2015 to more than five years in federal prison, has been released from federal prison in Texas. At the time of his sentencing, he had already served 28 months and had 34 months remaining. Brown was released early on good behavior. On Tuesday, the first thing he did post-release was enjoy this Egg McMuffin from a local McDonald’s. As Ars reported previously, in April 2014 Brown took a plea deal admitting guilt on three charges: “transmitting a threat in interstate commerce,” interfering with the execution of a search warrant, and being "accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer." Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The incredible flurry of (mostly small) earthquakes in Oklahoma has been clustered around areas of wastewater injection in deep disposal wells (shown in warm colors). (credit: Langenbruch and Zoback (2016), Science Advances) The onset of Oklahoma’s earthquakes several years ago suddenly changed life in the north-central part of the state. But since they are self-inflicted, this seismic shift need not be a permanent one. The earthquakes have been triggered by the injection of large volumes of wastewater in deep disposal wells, which is able to raise fluid pressure and loosen long-locked faults in the crystalline “basement” rock below. The wastewater comes from oil and gas wells in the area, which cough up a lot of dirty, salty water along with the hydrocarbons. Just a few weeks ago, a magnitude 5.0 earthquake caused a fair amount of damage to buildings in Cushing—buildings that were never designed to withstand seismic activity. And in September, a magnitude 5.8 quake in Pawnee set a historical record for the state. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Excerpts from Michael Slager's testimony. A white South Carolina police officer on trial for shooting an African-American man in the back—in a video of the killing that has been watched millions of times online—took the witness stand in his own defense and said he was gripped with "total fear." Michael Slager, a 35-year-old North Charleston officer, is on trial for killing Walter Scott, 50, who was pulled over in April 2015 for a routine traffic stop. Scott, who had a warrant for his arrest, fled the Mercedes-Benz he was driving, was chased into a field, and was then shot and killed as a passerby secretly captured the shooting on video. The footage prompted the police to change their response to the killing, and charges were eventually levied. "In my mind at that time was, people don't run for a broken tail light. There's always another reason," he testified Tuesday, sometimes in tears. "I don't know why he ran. It doesn't make any sense to me." Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / President-elect Donald Trump on the campaign trail. (credit: Getty Images | Joe Raedle) President-elect Donald Trump yesterday announced a third advisor to oversee the Federal Communications Commission's transition from Democratic to Republican control. Roslyn Layton, Trump's new addition, joins Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison on the FCC transition team. All three are outspoken opponents of the FCC's Title II net neutrality rules and are affiliated with the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Trump advisor Roslyn Layton. (credit: Roslyn Layton) Current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's signature move was the reclassification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act and imposition of net neutrality rules. The move was supported by Democrats and consumer advocates who say ISPs shouldn't be able to favor or disfavor online content by blocking, throttling, or charging for prioritization. Wheeler's Title II net neutrality rules survived a court challenge from ISPs but could be eliminated under Trump either with Congressional legislation or FCC action. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Netflix) Netflix today announced a feature many users have wanted for years—the ability to download videos and watch them later, without an Internet connection. "Netflix members worldwide can now download in addition to stream great series and films at no extra cost," the company's announcement said. "While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their Stranger Things binge while on airplanes and other places where Internet is expensive or limited." Downloads are available for all pricing plans. The feature is available in the new versions of Netflix's apps for iOS and Android devices. Not every show or movie is available for download, likely due to restrictions in programming contracts. Netflix says the download feature is available for "select TV shows and movies." Besides Stranger Things, the Netflix announcement said that Orange Is the New Black, Narcos, and The Crown are available for download now. These four have something in common: they are all produced by Netflix. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Megan Geuss) GoPro may have touted strong Black Friday sales, but the company is still experiencing turmoil. GoPro announced it would cut 15 percent of its workforce, totaling about 200 full-time positions, and close its entertainment unit to reduce 2017 operational costs. This news comes at the end of a frustrating year for the action cam company. Back in January, GoPro cut seven percent of its workforce in an effort to "better align resources to key growth initiatives." Earlier this month, the company recalled its $799 Karma drone because some of them lost power during operation. Only about 2,500 Karma drones were sold, but GoPro decided to recall all of them for safety reasons and because the number of drones affected by the problem was unknown. One of the employees departing the company before year's end will be President Tony Bates, who previously worked at Skype and Microsoft. "My time at GoPro has been an incredible experience," Bates wrote in the statement. "In the past three years, GoPro has seen enormous progress in camera technology, software and international growth. Today GoPro has a solid leadership team deeply focused on its core business and profitability." Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The No Man's Sky page on Valve's Steam platform didn't mislead customers despite a litany of gripes, the UK's advertising regulator has ruled. In a comprehensive Advertising Standards Authority ruling responding to 23 complaints made by disgruntled gamers, the regulator concluded that the pictures and videos used to promote the game on its Steam page did represent the sorts of things players might expect to encounter in the game. Neither Valve, which operates Steam, nor Hello Games, which made the game, are on the hook for any further action. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Super Mario Bros. 3 looks really different than I remember... When I first heard that Nintendo was porting what is likely my favorite Wii U game to the fully portable Nintendo 3DS, I was excited. When I heard that the 3DS version of Super Mario Maker would severely limit the online sharing functions that helped make the Wii U version so special, I was skeptical. When I actually played the game this week, though, I ended up surprised that the limited level builder also came packed with built-in levels that form one of the most enjoyable 2D Mario experiences in years. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. At its core, level-building base, Super Mario Maker for 3DS is a pretty faithful reconstruction of the Wii U original. Just as in its console cousin, you use a stylus to place blocks, coins, items, enemies, doors, pipes, and all manner of other Mario series staples to create the levels of your dreams. You can still choose between four classic Mario games for core themes (Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros.), each with slightly different physics, items, and moves for Mario to use. The level-crafting interface feels a tad more cramped on the 3DS' smaller touch screen, but you can temporarily move unnecessary elements off screen to get more real estate to work with. Switching from editing to playing is a tad more annoying on the 3DS, too, since you have to wait for the level to shift from the bottom screen to the wider top screen and back with each switch. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Ron Amadeo) Researchers say they've uncovered a family of Android-based malware that has compromised more than 1 million Google accounts, hundreds of them associated with enterprise users. Gooligan, as researchers from security firm Check Point Software Technologies have dubbed the malware, has been found in at least 86 apps available in third-party marketplaces. Once installed, it uses a process known as rooting to gain highly privileged system access to devices running version 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and KitKat) and version 5 (Lollipop) of Google's Android operating system. Together, the vulnerable versions account for about 74 percent of users. The rooted devices then download and install software that steals the authentication tokens that allow the phones to access the owner's Google-related accounts without having to enter a password. The tokens work for a variety of Google properties, including Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs, Google Play, Google Drive, and G Suite. In a blog post published Wednesday morning, Check Point researchers wrote: Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge The number of reported webcam blackmail cases has more than doubled in the past year, and at least four suicides in the UK have been connected to this form of sextortion, says the National Crime Agency. The NCA's Anti-Kidnap and Extortion unit has seen 864 cases of financially motivated webcam blackmail so far this year, up from 385 for the whole of 2015. The NCA believes the true number is a lot higher, though, due to significant under-reporting. Most victims (95 percent) were men or boys; men between 21 and 30 represent the largest group, but boys between 11 and 20 were also a "substantial portion." The four sextortion-linked suicides have all been men and boys—and again, that figure could be under-reported. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Tom Atkinson OXFORD, England—I first met Dr. Charles King at his ‘graduation’ from Richard Branson’s Virgin Media Techstars accelerator. The pitch he delivered to a packed audience in London described how ROVR—the company he started in 2012 with co-founder Julian Williams—was addressing a fundamental problem with the much-touted Virtual Reality boom: No matter how fun your content is, if it makes people throw up, it’s probably an experience they can do without. According to King, two-thirds of us experience some degree of discomfort in VR even if we don’t quite “sell the Buick” as he so colorfully puts it. But Simulator Sickness (SS) is no laughing matter. A handful of experts say that exposure to some forms of VR can be as disorientating as getting drunk, and they call for headsets such as the Oculus and HTC Vive to be banned until more research is done on the long-term effects this has on our eyes and brain. Read 30 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge There's a zero-day exploit in the wild that's being used to execute malicious code on the computers of people using Tor and possibly other users of the Firefox browser, officials of the anonymity service confirmed Tuesday. Word of the previously unknown Firefox vulnerability first surfaced in this post on the official Tor website. It included several hundred lines of JavaScript and an introduction that warned: "This is an [sic] JavaScript exploit actively used against TorBrowser NOW." Tor cofounder Roger Dingledine quickly confirmed the previously unknown vulnerability and said engineers from Mozilla were in the process of developing a patch. According to security researchers who analyzed the code, it exploits a memory corruption vulnerability that allows malicious code to be executed on computers running Windows. The malicious payload it delivers, according to an independent researcher who goes by the Twitter handle @TheWack0lian, is almost identical to one that was used in 2013 to deanonymize people visiting a Tor-shielded child pornography site. The FBI ultimately acknowledged responsibility for the exploit, which was embedded in Web pages served by a service known as Freedom Hosting. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: NASA) Early in our Solar System's history, the Earth was slammed by a Mars-sized body. The collision effectively disassembled both bodies and created a swirling mass of debris from which the present Earth and its Moon condensed. The process of forming these two bodies was violent, as debris of various size rained down on their surfaces. As a result, the Moon's surface started out as a global ocean of molten rock. Eventually, as this ocean cooled, it formed the Moon's crust. But the process was complex. Different minerals solidified at different temperatures and depths. We've had some models of how this might have happened, based on a limited number of experiments, as well as our early understanding of the Moon's composition. But scientists from VU Amsterdam have revisited this issue in light of what we now know of the Moon. The scientists have tested how various mineral mixes behave under extreme temperatures and pressures. Their results indicate that the Moon must have started out with significant amounts of water mixed into its global magma ocean. How do you model an entire ocean of molten rock? You start with the known composition of the Moon and use that to create a mix of the appropriate minerals. Then you expose those minerals to extreme pressures and temperatures well beyond the melting point of rock. For these experiments, the temperatures ranged up to 1,550°C. Since the magma ocean was potentially hundreds of kilometers deep (current estimates range from 400 to 1,000 kilometers), pressures ranged up to 3 GigaPascals, which is nearly 30,000 atmospheres. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Uh oh. This seems bad. (credit: HBO) This week's Westworld episode, "The Well-Tempered Clavier," gave us all the answers. Well, most of the answers. OK, SOME answers. Fine. We're still freakin' mystified. My guest on Decrypted this week is Norman Chan, co-founder of Tested, who writes and makes videos about science, technology, and pop culture. Norm has some fascinating observations about which robot characters are the most realistic, and he told us what he thinks is really going on with Wyatt. Topics discussed: The big reveal about Arnold (and what this says about Ford's plans); timeframes and robot memory (this is a lot more complex than a "dual timeline" theory); long loops and short loops (and OMG we are starting to think a lot about Matrix: Reloaded); what the robot revolution will really be like (and how maybe we don't really want to see the robots leave Westworld); how the show really sells us on robots (it's not the effects; it's the acting); robot therapy (which involves nuking your memories); Maeve's incredible scene with Bernard (one of the most intense moments in the show so far); what needs to get resolved this season and what we are OK with leaving until season 2 (seriously we don't mind waiting to know more about the Delos plot). Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Committee chair Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) (credit: Getty | Allison Shelley) On Tuesday, President-elect Donald J. Trump announced his nomination of six-term Republican Congress member Tom Price of Georgia to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Like many of his Republican colleagues, Price has been a vocal and long-standing critic of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. But Price, a former orthopedic surgeon, stands apart. While other Republicans have expressed their desire take a hatchet to the landmark healthcare law, he has taken up a scalpel and carved out the most detailed plan yet to repeal and replace the ACA. ‘Repeal and replace’ was a mantra of Trump’s campaign, yet the President-elect provided no specifics on how to do it or what might replace the ACA. Price’s plan could fill that void. But uncertainty still prevails over any prognosis for the country’s healthcare system. Up for speculation is everything from the political maneuvers necessary to repeal the ACA to the Republican establishment’s acceptance of Price’s replacement plan, some aspects of which are at odds with other Republican plans. Read 27 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Scopely) On Tuesday, Zynga sued two of its former employees. The company claims they stole confidential information and took it to their new employer, rival social gaming startup, Scopely. Massimo Maietti and Ehud Barlach worked as higher-up employees for the San Francisco-based Zynga until they left in July and September, respectively. Scopely, which makes Dice with Buddies, Wheel of Fortune Free Play, and others, is also named as a co-defendant in the case. According to Zynga’s 28-page civil complaint, Maietti was the creative director on “one of Zynga’s most ambitious soon-to-be released games, which goes by the code name ‘Project Mars.’” Barlach, for his part, was the general manager of Hit It Rich! Slots. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A Google Earth Timelapse of a community in Canada. Google Earth Timelapse is a really awesome project that lets you turn back the clock on Planet Earth. In 2013, Google worked with the US Geological Survey (USGS), NASA, and TIME to compile a history of satellite imagery from 1984 to 2012. Today, Google updated the project with "four additional years of imagery, petabytes of new data, and a sharper view of the Earth from 1984 to 2016." The new data isn't just "new" data—Google also managed to compile better older images of Earth thanks to the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation Program. Google says it sifted through 5 million satellite images from five different satellites, taking the best of the "three quadrillion pixels" to create 33 images of Earth (one for each year). Thanks to the plethora of data and Google's cloud-computing algorithms, you get all of this without any clouds blocking the view. The images are up on Google Earth Engine, where the interactive "Timelapse" page basically looks like Google Earth, but with a draggable timeline and a "play" button. Google has even highlighted a few spots where viewers can watch a glacier melt away into nothingness or check out pretty much anywhere in China, which looks like a game of SimCity. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Evolution of CCS charging technology for EVs toward 350 kW. (credit: Porsche) Several automakers have agreed to form a joint venture in Europe to build roughly 400 “ultra-fast” charging sites along highways on the continent to make long distance travel in electric cars more feasible. BMW, Volkswagen Group, Ford, and Daimler are heading up the venture, along with Audi and Porsche—both divisions of VW Group. In a press release today, the automakers said the charging stations would deliver 350 kW over a DC charging network, which is set to “significantly reduce charging time compared to available systems.” For comparison, Tesla’s supercharging stations deliver 120 kW and can fill a Tesla up to 170 miles of range in 30 minutes. The European network will use the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard that is compatible with current and future electric vehicles from all the joint venture companies as well as Fiat-Chrysler and Hyundai. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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