posted 4 days ago on ars technica
An all-terrain camera slider, successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2012 and effectively abandoned by the creator in 2013. Kickstarter The public life-cycle of a Kickstarter rarely ends in tragedy. Often, if a Kickstarter manages to get covered by the media before its funding round end, or even starts, it can meet its goal within days, and superfluous funds continue to roll in over the next few weeks. By the time its crowdfunding stage closes, the creators, backers, and media alike are excited and proud to have ushered this new project so quickly to a place of prosperity, eager for it to continue to grow. Plenty of projects manage to deliver the goods, even if the timeline slides a bit. That was the case with Tim Schafer's Kickstarter game Broken Age. If creators miss deadlines, backers typically continue to receive updates via e-mail and the Kickstarter page. But sometimes the end of funding is the beginning of a slide into radio silence, which ultimately turns into few or no backer orders fulfilled, and no satisfactory explanation for why the project didn't pan out according to the orderly delivery schedule the creators promised. A project can go off the rails and fail even after its funding succeeds for a number of reasons. There can be unforeseen costs, or design problems, or a team member quits or fails to deliver their part of the project. Often, when a project skids to a halt, the final updates are obscured from the public and sent only to backers, which may be part of the reason failures are often not well-publicized. Occasionally, backers who receive them pass them on or post them publicly on forums, which is as good as it gets in terms of letting the outside world know a project did not ultimately pan out. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 4 days ago on ars technica
California Highway Patrol officers have allegedly been obtaining nude photos of female suspects from their cell phones and sharing them among other officers. Sean Harrington, 35, allegedly sent photos from the cell phone of a DUI suspect to his own phone, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. He then reportedly shared the photos with other CHP officers. The investigation begun after a woman who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in August noticed that photos from her phone had been sent to a number that she did not recognize, according to the Contra Costa Times. The photos were sent when the woman was being processed in jail, the newspaper reported. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 5 days ago on ars technica
Photo sharing site Twitpic will not be deleting its substantial archive of tweeted pictures after all, it announced today, after coming to an agreement with Twitter. Twitpic announced in September that it would be closing down and deleting all the pictures it had hosted—rendering millions of historic tweets meaningless—after a trademark dispute with Twitter. Twitter issued Twitpic an ultimatum: drop its trademark claim to the word "Twitpic" or lose access to Twitter's API. Twitpic opted for the latter, promising to close down on September 25. This crisis appeared to be averted on September 18 when Twitpic founder Noah Everett announced that the site had been acquired and would live on. However, the details that he promised would follow never materialized, and on October 16th Everett said that, once again, Twitpic was to close down, this time on October 25. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 5 days ago on ars technica
I feel my vitality increasing just looking at these. Flickr user Jeffreyw Normally, people do not enjoy being forced to do something. People also do not enjoy the guilt that comes with doing something that is bad for them. Surprisingly, these two wrongs seem to make a right: when people are compelled to engage in vices, they feel better than when they freely choose the vice for themselves. According to a new paper in the Journal of Consumer Research, persuading a friend to share a dessert removes the burden of choice from them, reducing their feelings of guilt and making them less conflicted about the decision. Vices—junk food, movie marathons, celebrity gossip news, procrastination—have adverse consequences. Choosing them is ‘bad’ and results in guilt that we don’t get from virtuous activities such as exercise, working on a passion project, or reading high-quality media. “It has long been believed that yielding to vices…is bad,” write the researchers. “While not disagreeing with this picture, the current research presents the observation that a negative view of vices does not quite tell the full story.” The researchers suggest that the guilt of choosing vices weighs us down, reducing our sense of ‘subjective vitality.' Vitality, a term used to describe the feeling of being energized, has been linked to mental and physical wellbeing, improved task performance, tenacity, and self-control. It is not quite the same thing as happiness, which is a related but conceptually different experience. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 5 days ago on ars technica
A red light camera at the intersection of Sylvan and Coffee in Modesto, California. Cyrus Farivar One of the three defendants indicted two months ago on federal corruption charges stemming from a major contract between Chicago and a major red light camera vendor will now plead guilty. According to a new filing submitted to the federal court in Chicago on Wednesday, former Redflex contractor Martin O’Malley intends to appear before the court in early December to formalize his guilty plea. While the document does not explicitly say so, it’s likely that O’Malley also intends to testify against his co-defendants. This marks the first guilty plea in a high-level case involving Redflex. Since losing the Chicago contract as a result of this corruption scandal, Redflex’s 2013 pre-tax profits in its North American division (its corporate parent is an Australian company) have plummeted over 33 percent—from $3.4 million in the first half of 2013, to $2.28 million in the second half. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Stack Exchange This Q&A is part of a weekly series of posts highlighting common questions encountered by technophiles and answered by users at Stack Exchange, a free, community-powered network of 100+ Q&A sites. Den asks: As recently reported, "Xamarin has forked Cocos2D-XNA, a 2D/3D game development framework, creating a cross-platform library that can be included in PCL projects." Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 5 days ago on ars technica
According to interviews given to German publication Manager Magazine (Google translate) this week, sources from Porsche, Mercedes, and Audi said that they are all readying electric cars to respond “to the success of the Californian newcomer Tesla with its Model S.” Porsche’s chairman Matthias Müller reportedly said that the company is working on an all-electric car that will be based on the company’s Modular Standard Platform (Modularer Standardantrieb-Baukasten in German, or MSB for short) and look similar to the company’s Panamera (which has already been introduced with a hybrid electric engine). The car will be "an advanced battery-powered variant [that] is tasked with challenging the Model S on both performance and range,” Autocar UK says. The publication added that Porsche is aiming for a curb weight lower than the 4,647 lbs of Tesla’s Model S in its forthcoming car, and that it will come with a synchronous electric motor with horsepower comparable to the Model S. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 5 days ago on ars technica
World Health Organization New data released Saturday by the World Health Organization show that worldwide Ebola cases have topped 10,000. Of those, just under 5,000 people have died—Liberia and Sierra Leone remain the most affected countries. A young girl in Mali has become the latest victim of the deadly virus, the first to die in that West African nation. As the WHO announced: Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Aurich Lawson In April 2007, only diehard Broken Social Scene fans salivated when band member Leslie Feist released a solo album titled The Reminder. Sales were moderate for the first five months, reaching an average of 6,000 per week. But that September, Apple released its most impactful ad since it unveiled the Macintosh. The ad had a simple concept: a pudgy iPod Nano laid flat against a white table, with a hand repeatedly removing it to reveal another Nano in another color. Each Nano showed the same music video—the song "1234" from Feist. A little video for everyone. Within five weeks of the commercial’s launch, Feist’s total album sales reached nearly 300,000 units. Roughly 100,000 of those sales came after the ad campaign started, according to USA Today. Fast forward six more months and The Reminder had moved more than 730,000 copies, according to Spin. Read 51 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 5 days ago on ars technica
Look, a wall plug! That's new for Kinect v2 as of this week. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced more ways for PC developers to make and promote apps that utilize the upgraded Kinect v2 sensor, which debuted with the Xbox One nearly one year ago. The biggest news came in the form of the first public Software Development Kit (SDK) for the sensor, The free download came after nearly a year of access for "preview program participants," and Microsoft opted to wave fees for the creators of commercial products made with the SDK. That means those creators will have more money to spend on a potential upgrade to Windows 8 or 8.1, which they'll need to use the SDK. (Speaking of Windows 8, Microsoft also opened the floodgates to Kinect v2 app distribution within the Windows Store this week.) However, up until now, budding developers had to use a PC-only version of the Kinect v2 hardware, as the Xbox One version launched with a proprietary connector to simultaneously juggle data and power demands. In fact, last year, Microsoft went so far as to tell Xbox One owners that they would be out of luck. That changed with this week's retail launch of the Kinect Adapter for Windows, which requires both a USB 3.0 connection to your PC and a wall plug connection for power. The adapter will set budding developers back $50, which is the exact cost difference at the Microsoft Store between the $150 standalone Xbox One version of Kinect v2 and the $200 PC version of the same sensor. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Entering a Facebook "room" requires a QR-type code, which can come in the form of a screenshot or can be harvested from the phone's camera. After a clash over Facebook's "real-names" policy, the company released an app Friday that encourages communication between anonymous parties. Dubbed Rooms, the app lets users share content based on themes within different chat threads. The app is in the spirit of other anonymous-sharing apps like Secret or Yik Yak, which consist of threads of short posts based around one's social network or location, respectively. Because of the way they are organized, both apps have caused their share of controversy. Rooms, by contrast, is organized by subject—for instance "Photography Lovers Unite" or "GIFs" (yes,GIFs)—and consist of threads of photos. The organization harkens back to sites like reddit or AOL chatrooms, with front-facing account names that are defined on a per-room basis. Other users can comment on posts or endorse them with a "like" button that is customizable by the creator of the room. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Apple The multi-carrier Apple SIM in the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 lets US customers purchase data from either AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile. But it turns out that if you want the option of switching carriers, you'll either have to avoid AT&T or acquire another SIM card. When you set up cellular data on a new iPad with the multi-carrier SIM, you'll get this screen, which lets you choose a carrier: Jon Brodkin Click on AT&T and you'll see this warning, stating that once the SIM is activated on AT&T's network, it will be locked to AT&T and that you'll need a new Apple SIM to change carriers: Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
The TP-Link router that was to be the basis of TorFi. TP-Link Kickstarter is apparently not the place to go if you’re trying to crowdfund privacy hardware. Just days after the Anonabox project, a highly criticized effort to package the Tor privacy protection service into a portable miniature Wi-Fi router, was suspended by the crowdfunding site, another similar project has met its demise—and its founder’s account has been deleted. TorFi, which Ars mentioned in a report on October 21, was a project by Jesse Enjaian and David Xu of Berkeley, California aimed at creating home routers with turnkey Tor protection and support for OpenVPN connections—allowing users to route all their Internet traffic either through Tor's "onion router" network or a virtual private network provider of their choice. The project’s initial pitch was dependent on repurposing routers from TP-Link purchased through retail and re-flashing them with a customized version of the OpenWRT embedded operating system. But just a day after Ars covered the TorFi project, Kickstarter suspended it. David Gallagher, a member of Kickstarter’s communications team, said that he couldn’t discuss the specific reasons for the suspension. “It’s our policy not to comment on individual projects,” he said in an e-mail. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
US EIA Last year, the US Energy Information Agency suggested that emissions of carbon dioxide by the US had peaked in 2005 and were unlikely to return to such heights. So far, that prediction has held up, although there have been some bumps in the road. The year 2013 appears to have been one of those bumps, as emissions increased for the first time since 2010, reaching levels not seen since last decade. But there are many pieces of good news in the details. To begin with, the EIA blames the boost in emissions, which came in at a 2.5 percent increase, primarily on the heavy use of heating during last year's unusually cold winter. A secondary factor was a rise in natural gas prices that shifted some electricity generation to coal (more on that later). The increase in emissions, however, wasn't tied to economic growth. While the GDP per capita went up by 1.5 percent, the energy use per GDP only went up by 0.5 percent; in turn, the carbon dioxide intensity of energy production actually declined slightly. So, to an extent, carbon emissions have been decoupled from economic growth. They've also been somewhat decoupled from electricity use. Demand has decreased in recent years, in part due to a decrease in industrial activity, in part due to increased efficiency. A switch to natural gas has also decreased the carbon emissions per unit of generation, although, as noted above, this trend reversed slightly last year. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Getting an accurate read on how well the new generation of consoles is selling is a difficult job, and it's complicated by sporadic and sometimes vague numbers provided by the console makers themselves. After taking a dive into the most recent numbers, Ars estimates that the PlayStation 4 has sold at least 42 percent more units worldwide than the Xbox One through September. This makes Sony's system responsible for at least 59 percent of hardware sales in the two-console market (PS4 and Xbox One). Estimating Xboxes Determining those ratios was not a simple process. As a starting point, we used Microsoft's announcement that it had shipped five million units of the Xbox One as of mid-April. Since then, the company has only released quarterly reports on how many total Xbox systems have shipped, lumping the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One together, which obscures the new console's true market performance. For the April to June quarter, there were 1.1 million combined Xbox shipments. For the July through September quarter, there were 2.4 million combined Xbox shipments. Add all those numbers together, and you get an absolute ceiling of 8.5 million potential Xbox One shipments through September. For the new system to hit that ceiling, though, you'd have to assume that Microsoft has shipped exactly zero Xbox 360 units in the last six months, which is obviously false. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
A Silicon Valley startup said Friday that police agencies were field testing its new product: a wireless sensor that transforms officers' weapons into smart guns with real-time telemetry. Yardarm Technologies' sensor is a small device that goes inside gun handles and provides dispatchers with real-time geo-location tracking information on the weapon. The Yardarm Sensor also sends alerts when a weapon is unholstered or fired, and it can "record the direction of aim, providing real-time tactical value for commanders and providing crime scene investigators valuable data for prosecution," the company said. The 10-employee company based in Capitola, California said it was deploying the technology on a trial basis. The first takers have been the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department in California and the Carrollton, Texas Police Department. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Verizon Cellular communications provider Verizon Wireless is adding cookie-like tokens to Web requests traveling over its network. These tokens are being used to build a detailed picture of users’ interests and to help clients tailor advertisements, according to researchers and Verizon’s own documentation. The profiling, part of Verizon’s Precision Market Insights division, kicked off more than two years ago and expanded to cover all Verizon Wireless subscribers as part of the company’s Relevant Mobile Advertising service. It appends a per-device token known as the Unique Identifier Header (UIDH) to each Web request sent through its cellular network from a particular mobile device, allowing Verizon to link a website visitor to its own internal profiles. The service aims to allow client websites to target advertising at specific segments of the consumer market. While the company started piloting the service two years ago, privacy experts only began warning of the issue this week, arguing that the service is essentially tracking users and that companies paid for a fundamental service that should not be using the data for secondary purposes. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
This looks like perfectly moral behavior. Washington Fish and Wildlife The question of why good people do bad things has fascinated psychologists for decades. Stanley Milgram famously identified deference to authority as a factor pushing people towards unethical behavior, but it seems that something even simpler could be in the mix: fatigue. A recent study published in Psychological Science found that people are more inclined to cheat on a task at different times of the day, depending on their individual body clocks, or “chronotypes.” Chronotypes affect people’s natural peaks and troughs of physical and cognitive functions throughout the day, making “larks” more alert first thing in the morning and “owls” more wakeful late at night. The new evidence suggests that morning people are more likely to cheat at night, while evening people are more likely to cheat in the morning. Morality in the morning Building on research suggesting that people are more dishonest when they are tired, Brian Gunia, Christopher Barnes, and Sunita Sah assessed the chronotypes of participants, classifying them as either morning, intermediate, or evening people. Participants attended morning test sessions that required completing a puzzle task and were paid $0.50 for each puzzle they claimed to have solved correctly. If a participant failed to solve a puzzle but reported having done so, this was counted as a cheat. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Getty Images Getty Images, a massive image licensing company, has earned quite a reputation for aggressive copyright enforcement over the past several years. But the company says it wants to turn that around. Until now, Getty’s strategy has been to comb the Web for illegal reproductions of its images using special software, sending threatening letters to anyone who appears to be infringing. Getty has told the targets of its letters that it will pursue an expensive lawsuit unless those who re-posted the images agree to pay settlements that include penalties and licensing fees, sometimes amounting to hundreds or several thousand dollars. Generally, Getty Images tends not to pursue its claims in court, instead favoring the so-called “settlement demand letters” which bill the alleged user of an unlicensed Getty image for the use of the image, as well as a portion of the "enforcement fees." But that won’t be the case any longer. Earlier this week, general counsel for Getty Images John Lapham told GigaOm that Getty’s "enforcement polices are being ramped down.” Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
bfishadow/ Flickr In the first quarter of its 2015 financial year, Microsoft sold more phones than expected and continues to do well in the cloud space, leading it to a record for Q1 revenue. Revenue for the quarter was $23.20 billion, up 25.2 percent on the same quarter in the 2014 financial year. Operating income was down 7.9 percent, to $5.84 billion, and earnings per share were down 12.7 percent to $0.55. The large drop in operating income was driven primarily by a $1.14 billion charge for "integration and restructuring." The majority of this, $1.05 billion, was made up of severance expenses and restructuring-related write-downs. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
A single blue orb floating among billions, part of a galaxy that’s among hundreds of billions, houses the sum total of human achievement. The Sid Meier's Civilization series is one of those achievements, taking the total history of that great, big ball we all live on and condensing it into perhaps the best, and certainly the most popular, 4X strategy game ever made. Civilization has always held the sanitized, slightly goofy ideal common to all projects bearing Meier's moniker. Maybe Civilization: Beyond Earth's developers felt infinitesimal when considering the vastness of space, or maybe they were simply struck with a distrust of the future common to science fiction. Either way, the latest game in the franchise that all but defines turn-based strategy is a bit less sanitized and a bit more sinister than its predecessors. For one thing, despite the veneer of technological and social advancement inherent in exploring life on a new planet, the future represented by Beyond Earth is frighteningly similar to that of past Civilization titles. The humans still squabble over resources, land, and ideology, and they do so in ways that are similar to Civilization V from turn one on. The similarities make Beyond Earth feel more like a sci-fi themed Civ V expansion than a bold new direction for the series. Units are moved the same way; cities are grown the same way; resource tiles are worked in the same way. While the new victory conditions each have some pseudoscience flavor dialogue, winning is still a matter of out-researching or out-fighting opposed factions in more or less the same ways as before. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Aereo on an iPad. Casey Johnston A New York federal judge has sided with a group of major broadcasters—including Twentieth Century Fox and the Public Broadcasting System—and shut down TV-over-the-Internet startup Aereo’s "Watch Now" system. "The Supreme Court has concluded that Aereo performs publicly when it retransmits Plaintiffs' content live over the Internet and thus infringes Plaintiffs' copyrighted works," Judge Alison Nathan wrote in her 17-page opinion and order on Thursday. "In light of this conclusion, Aereo cannot claim harm from its inability to continue infringing Plaintiffs' copyrights. In addition, in light of the fact that Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits rather than just sufficiently serious questions going to the merits, they need no longer show that the balance of hardships tips decidedly in their favor." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Greetings, Arsians! The dealmaster is back with a bunch of deals courtesy of our partners at TechBargains. This week the top deal is a Dell XPS 8700 desktop computer. For just $799.99 you get a 2.6GHz Core i7, 16GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive and a GeForce GTX 745. That's $500 off the regular price. If you current rig is feeling a little sluggish, maybe it's time to upgrade? This and tons more deals are below. For more desktop deals, visit the TechBargains site. Featured deal Dell XPS 8700 Core i7 Desktop w/ 16GB RAM, 2TB Hard Drive & 4GB GeForce GTX 745 for $799.99 plus free shipping (list price $1299.99 | use coupon code TQR2JHV6XV?$MP) Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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

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