posted 4 days ago on ars technica
Sandia National Lab Reducing our emissions of carbon dioxide quickly enough to minimize the effects of climate change may require more than just phasing out the use of fossil fuels. During the phase-out, we may need to keep the CO2 we're emitting from reaching the atmosphere—a process called carbon capture and sequestration. The biggest obstacle preventing us from using CCS is the lack of economic motivation to do it. But that doesn't mean it's free from technological constraints and scientific unknowns. One unknown relates to exactly what will happen to the CO2 we pump deep underground. As a free gas, CO2 would obviously be buoyant, fueling concerns about leakage. But CO2 dissolves into the briny water found in saline aquifers at these depths. Once the gas dissolves, the result is actually more dense than the brine, meaning it will settle downward. With time, much of that dissolved CO2 may precipitate as carbonate minerals. But how quickly does any of this happen? Having answers will be key to understanding how well we really sequester the carbon. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Kindle Voyage is an excellent (but expensive) e-reader. Andrew Cunningham CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:["top"], collapse: true});Most of the time I’m not sorry that all my dedicated, single-use devices are dead and gone. If you’re carrying a modern smartphone around, why would you miss your Discman, or your portable DVD player,  or your dumbphone, or your tape recorder, or your point-and-shoot camera, or your PalmPilot? Not only can one device replace all of them, but that one device is usually better at all of that stuff than most dedicated devices ever were. Yet there’s something pure about hardware that’s only designed to do one thing, at least when it’s designed well. A gadget that only wants to do a couple of things can tailor itself better to those specific uses while ignoring everything else. Maybe you could get better battery life out of your camera if it didn’t need to be a portable game console and full-featured computer all wrapped up into one. Specs at a glance: Amazon Kindle Voyage Screen 1448×1072 6" (300 PPI) E-Ink Carta OS Kindle OS 5.5.0 Storage 4GB (non-upgradeable) Networking 802.11b/g/n, optional 3G Ports Micro-USB Size 6.4" x 4.5" x 0.30" (162 x 115 x 7.6 mm) Weight 6.3 oz (180 g) Wi-Fi, 6.6 oz (188 g) 3G Battery Unknown capacity; Amazon claims 6 weeks of life if used for 30 minutes a day with wireless disabled and brightness set to 10 Starting price $199 with Special Offers, $219 without; $269 for 3G with Special Offers, $289 for 3G without Price as reviewed $289 That’s the strongest argument there is for the Kindle line of e-readers, which continue to soldier on even though Amazon has branched out into full-on Android tablets, phones, and set-top boxes. The company's e-reader lineup changes only occasionally and very gradually; the biggest change was probably back in 2011 when Amazon switched out the physical keyboard for a software keyboard with navigation buttons and rudimentary touchscreens. The Kindle Paperwhite’s front-lit screen is a close second. Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Elvert Barnes In a rare decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled last Friday that law enforcement must get a warrant in order to track a suspect’s location via his or her mobile phone. Many legal experts applauded the decision as a step in the right direction for privacy. "[The] opinion is a resounding defense of our right to privacy in the digital age," Nate Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. "Following people’s movements by secretly turning their cell phones into tracking devices can reveal extremely sensitive details of our lives, like where we go to the doctor or psychiatrist, where we spend the night, and who our friends are. Police are now on notice that they need to get a warrant from a judge before tracking cell phones, whether using information from the service provider or their own ‘stingray’ cell phone tracking equipment." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Cliff Newly released documents definitively show that local law enforcement in Washington, DC possessed a cellular surveillance system—commonly known as a "stingray"—since 2003. However, these stingrays literally sat unused in a police vault for six years until officers were trained on the devices in early 2009. "It's life imitating The Wire," Chris Soghoian, a staff technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Ars. "There's an episode in Season 3 where [Detective Jimmy] McNulty finds a [stingray] that has been sitting on the shelf for awhile." In response to a Freedom of Information Act request sent to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPDC), Ars received dozens of documents pertaining to the acquisition and training of stingrays and related upgrades. Vice News received the same documents, reporting on them last Friday. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A chip card and the inside of a card's chip. Explain That Stuff On Friday, President Obama signed an executive order to speed the adoption of EMV-standard cards in the US. The transition to EMV—an acronym eponymous of Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, the companies that developed the standard—has been slow to gain traction in the US. The EMV standard will require credit card companies to do away with the magnetic stripe cards that are common today in favor of cards with embedded-chips that will offer more secure credit card transactions. Lawmakers and credit card companies confirmed earlier this year that the US would make the transition to EMV cards in October 2015. But over the past several months, retail stores like Target, Home Depot, Michaels, Neiman Marcus, and more have sustained major hacks that caused the retailers to loose credit card information and personal information of millions upon millions of customers, giving new urgency to the call for more secure credit cards. Speaking at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday, President Obama said that the federal government would apply “chip-and-PIN technology to newly issued and existing government credit cards, as well as debit cards like Direct Express.” The White House also said that all payment terminals at federal agencies will soon be able to accept embedded chip cards. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com. The HooToo HT-UH010 seven-port hub ($40) is our favorite USB 3.0 hub because it’s compact, reliable, and has well-placed ports aplenty. But its main strength is its usability and design—we looked at many other hubs that were larger, had fewer ports, and weren’t as easy to use. We determined the HooToo is the best hub for most people after 100 hours of research, testing, and consulting with electrical engineers to learn about how power flows through USB hubs and where things commonly go wrong. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock Last November, my father took his own life. I'm frequently aware of the fact that the depression which helped drive him to that dark fate lives on in my genes. That's a doozy of a legacy to inherit, but it's one that has not been wholly negative for me. Getting to the point where I could write this article involved a series of debates. I debated talking about my father’s suicide; I debated “outing” myself as a depression sufferer; I debated not talking about it and what that meant. I decided in the end that I would be the worst kind of hypocrite if I believed that dialog about depression was essential but was unwilling to start that dialog myself. I hope that my story can help others understand why the traits that cause depression have been both a plague and a gift to so many. Nothing's easy when talking about depression. Navigating this sensitive topic is fraught with traps and taboos that can make Israel the good option at dinner discussion. But this dialog is important, and hopefully we can lift the grim veil that hangs over this subject before disaster strikes someone we know and love. Even as it goes underreported, suicide now kills more people than car accidents in the US. Read 52 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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NASA NEW YORK—What do you do after you’ve achieved the ultimate goal of your avocation—not once, but three times? That’s the question facing Chris Hadfield, who capped 25 years of NASA service by commanding both the International Space Station and an audience of millions on YouTube and Twitter. Hadfield gave a partial answer recently during a public talk at the American Museum of Natural History: get as many people as possible to understand the experience and try to use that to keep the public supporting a program of space exploration. Hadfield may be an unassuming looking man—he’s got nothing like the imposing build of astronaut and former football player Leland Melvin—but you don’t get sent to space three times without having an imposing set of talents. He said that, in addition to the expected job skills, he spent time in a Texas emergency room, stitching up and intubating people as part of the preparations to handle anything that might come up while in space. And millions saw his musical and photographic skills on display since. Now you can add “performer” to Hadfield’s long list of accomplishments. He wove together a series of anecdotes into a coherent, compelling show, gesturing animatedly and lying back on the floor to demonstrate the Soyuz launch posture. Parts of it might have been scripted or at least well practiced, but there were others that seemed spontaneous. While an orbital photo of San Francisco was on the screen, someone from the audience had to tell him that both the bridge and the large park were named Golden Gate. At that point, he called everything visible "Golden Gate" something or other, including New York’s Central Park when it appeared in the next picture. He was also just as easygoing and clear when handling questions from the audience. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Even The Flash can't deliver gigabit speed data networks. JD Hancock The Federal Communications Commission is starting to plan for cellular networks that can send users gigantic streams of data, but there are technical challenges to be solved and years of work ahead. A Notice of Inquiry issued unanimously by the commission on Friday identifies frequencies of 24GHz and above as being able to provide gigabit or even 10Gbps speed. This would be a major change because today’s cellular networks use frequencies from 600MHz to 3GHz, with so-called “beachfront spectrum” under 1GHz being the most desirable because it can be used to deliver data over long distances. AT&T and Verizon Wireless control the most beachfront spectrum. "It was long assumed that higher spectrum frequencies—like those above 24 GHz—could not support mobile services due to technological and practical limitations," the FCC said in a press release. "New technologies are challenging that assumption and promise to facilitate next generation mobile service—what some call '5G'—with the potential to dramatically increase wireless broadband speeds." Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Keith Alexander, the founder of IronNet Cybersecurity, served as the director of the NSA for nearly a decade. Department of Defense The National Security Agency is now conducting an internal investigation of a top official’s part-time work for a private cybersecurity firm, according to Reuters. That company, IronNet Cybersecurity, was founded by Keith Alexander, who served as the head of the spy agency from August 2005 until March 2014. IronNet Cybersecurity has since begun offering protection services to banks for up to $1 million per month. Last Friday, Reuters, citing Alexander himself and other intelligence officials, reported that NSA CTO Patrick Dowd can work up to 20 hours per week for IronNet Cybersecurity. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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These are the items Attaché Arrivals sent me in the mail, in three separate packages. (The red sugar bowl normally lives on my dining table.) Cyrus Farivar Every time I go to Europe, I make a mental list of things that I need to take with me: electrical adapters, a small stash of euros, and local SIM cards. In a tiny SD card case, I even keep a paper clip and SIMs from various countries (Germany, United Kingdom, Iceland) to ease travel. But if I’m going to a country I haven’t been to before, I have to do my research. I ask friends and check PrepaidGSM.net to find out what provider offers the best mobile data service. Then, I have to figure out where and how to get a local SIM. In short, it’s a pain. That's why I was thrilled to learn about Attaché Arrivals, a new San Francisco startup. As Ars reported in May 2014, Attaché Arrivals aims to make this entire process simpler by selling SIMs to customers before they leave home. Users would theoretically save money on exorbitant mobile roaming fees charged by their US providers by renting these foreign SIM cards through the company. The SIM comes with various other items (such as a plug adapter for European Union outlets) to help make the journey smoother. Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Zlatko Unger It’s no secret that China holds a huge amount of leverage on the future of CO2 emissions. Its incredible economic growth over the last 20 years was accompanied by a boom in greenhouse emissions. Actions to reduce that boom (as well as other pollutants) are in progress, but they haven't had any appreciable effect as of yet. At the Copenhagen talks, China pledged a lower-carbon economy—reducing the CO2 emitted per unit of GDP (also known as “carbon intensity”) by 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. And China’s current Five Year Plan (2010-2015) set a goal of reducing carbon intensity by 17 percent while still growing GDP eight percent per year. But between 2002 and 2009, China’s carbon intensity increased by three percent. What drove that? A new study led by Dabo Guan digs below the national level to take a look at the trends behind carbon intensity. The study suggests that, while huge progress is being made, it's still being swamped by massive growth in capacity. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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MIT Certain materials exhibit what are called piezoelectric characteristics, meaning they develop electric charges when stretched or compressed. In general, the piezoelectric materials we use are large crystals. But researchers have predicted that a substance that forms single-atom-thick molecules—MoS2—would be strongly piezoelectric. And now researchers have studied these effects experimentally, demonstrating that the number of layers and their orientation have a big impact on the substance’s piezoelectric characteristics. To get enough material to work with, MoS2 layers were flaked off onto a flexible substrate and electrical contacts deposited at the MoS2 interface. The piezoelectric response of the material was studied by application of a strain, which causes a strain-induced polarization of charges at the sample edges. These drive the flow of electrons into an external circuit for measurement. Upon relaxation of the strain, the polarization of charges is diminished, causing the electrons to flow back to their original distribution. Because of the way the flakes were created, each sample had a different number of layers. When a sample had odd numbers of MoS2 layers, stretching and releasing produced exactly the behavior we just described: oscillating piezoelectric voltage and current outputs were observed. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Kuiper Belt Object 1110113Y, one of the objects found by Hubble that may be visited by New Horizons. Hubble Any organization that pays to put something into space likes to get as much as it can out of its hardware. NASA is no different. So while New Horizons was built specifically to visit Pluto, there was always the hope that we’d spot something beyond the dwarf planet to send the hardware on to. But even as the rendezvous with Pluto kept getting closer and final trajectory corrections needed to be planned, ground-based searches were coming up blank. (They actually located some objects, but none that New Horizons could reach given its fuel supply.) NASA then brought out one of the big guns:  the Hubble. After a preliminary test of its ability to spot small objects beyond Pluto, the New Horizons team was given time for a full survey. The results are in: we now have additional destinations. The objects in question are part of a large collection called the Kuiper Belt. KBOs, as they’re called, probably range from comet-sized to several that are larger than Pluto. The three that Hubble spotted are in the area of 25-55 kilometers (15.5 to 34.1 miles) across. All three are roughly a billion miles beyond Pluto. That's a lot, but New Horizons has already travelled about three billion miles since leaving Earth. Initial observations suggest that one can definitely be reached given New Horizons’ trajectory, and the two others are possible, but we need a bit more time to determine their orbital profile. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Flappy Android! You too will soon find this fully playable Easter egg in Lollipop. Android Central On Friday, following Google's earlier announcement that Android 5.0 would be called Lollipop, the company released a new developer build compatible with handsets like the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7. While it wasn't the first preview build for what was previously dubbed the "L release," it introduced more features that users can expect in the next Android's public launch, including an usual "about" menu Easter egg. Unlike other Android Easter eggs, however, this one is possibly Google's biggest yet—a fully playable Flappy Bird clone. Like other hidden gems in past OSes, this can be toggled by finding the version number in the system options' "About" section and tapping it repeatedly until a lollipop image pops up. Android Central confirmed on its test devices that doing this will unlock a Flappy Bird-styled game, and Ars was able to replicate the steps necessary to unlock the same game on our own Lollipop smartphone. In this Flappy Bird clone, tapping the screen made a small, spinning Android logo hop in the air as it tried to fly through lollipop-shaped obstacles. Unlike other clones, some of which were more advanced, the game was as simple—and difficult—as its obvious inspiration. The only major gameplay difference was that on occasion, the game would scroll in the opposite direction when players respawned. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Kickstarter Kickstarter removed a fundraiser for a popular Tor-based router project on Friday afternoon. The Anonabox, which was created by August Germar, of Chico, California, aimed to be an “open source embedded networking device designed specifically to run Tor.” Its fundraising goal was $7,500, and in five days, it raised $585,549 from nearly 9,000 backers—including three Ars editors. Germar told Ars that he was not aware that it had been suspended until Ars forwarded him an e-mail from Kickstarter outlining the possible reasons why it could have been cancelled. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Today, the White House announced a pause in a specific type of research on viruses. Rather than being a response to the recent Ebola infections, this dates back to events that began in 2011. Back then, researchers who were studying the bird flu put it through a series of lab procedures that ended with a flu virus that could readily infect mammals. Some members of the scientific community considered this work irresponsible, as the resulting virus could, again, potentially infect humans. Similar research and a debate over its value and threat have continued. Now, however, the Obama administration decided to put it on hold. Prompted by several recent biosafety lapses (including the discovery of old smallpox samples at the National Institutes of Health), the government will temporarily stop funding for these projects. During the pause, the government will organize a "deliberative process" that will consider the value of the research and the appropriate safety precautions that will need to be followed if it's done. The review will be run by a combination of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and the National Academies of Science. The funding pause will apply to any projects that can allow viruses like the flu, MERS, and SARS to either add mammals to the list of species they can infect, or to increase their virulence following infection. The government also hopes that any lab pursuing this research using private funding will voluntarily join in the pause. Researchers who are simply studying naturally occurring viruses without modifying them will not be affected by this pause. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Grooves in the seafloor off South Carolina carved by icebergs. Jenna C. Hill “Snowbirds” they are called—people who escape snowy winters in the northern US by seasonally migrating to second homes in Florida. Probably about the last thing they would like to see while walking along the beach is the ice following them south. At certain times just a handful of millennia ago, it turns out, they might have been surprised to find icebergs floating by the beaches. When Earth’s climate was colder and an ice sheet covered Canada, impressive flotillas of icebergs were occasionally launched into the Atlantic during incidents known as “Heinrich events.” Each time a batch of icebergs and glacial meltwater were vomited out, the area around the North Atlantic experienced climatic consequences. It’s thought that the infusion of freshwater gummed up the conveyor belt of Atlantic Ocean circulation, disrupting the transport of heat throughout the entire ocean basin. Heinrich events are usually seen in ocean sediment cores as layers of gritty sediment dropped from melting icebergs onto the fine mud of the seafloor. That’s even been seen as far south as Bermuda. Closer to North America’s eastern coast, trenches carved by the undersides of large icebergs have been spotted in the mud off Nova Scotia, New Jersey, and even the Carolinas. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Michelle Lee signing a memorandum of understanding with the director general of IP Australia in September 2014. US Mission General Michelle Lee, formerly Google's chief patent lawyer and currently acting director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, has been nominated by the Obama Administration to be the next permanent USPTO director. Lee will be the first head of the patent office to have a background at an Internet company. Lee's nomination comes months after the administration floated the name of Philip Johnson, a lawyer at Johnson & Johnson who was an outspoken opponent of patent reform. The idea of nominating Johnson evaporated after a negative response from tech companies. Choosing Lee has won praise all around, although the pro-reform forces are likely happier than the anti-reform forces given her background at Google. Lee was one of the first corporate lawyers to be vocal about the problem posed by "non-practicing entities," also known as patent trolls. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the original full article below at TheWirecutter.com. After considering all the major laptops in its price range, I decided that if I had to buy a Windows laptop for $600 or less, I’d get the ~$580 version of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 2 14. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Radius Citizenfour is filmmaker Laura Poitras' account of the first meetings between herself, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden. It was first shown publicly last Friday, and it will open in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on Oct. 24. For those who have followed the news around the Snowden documents, even in small doses, Citizenfour isn't full of revelations (though there are a few surprises). But for viewers interested in surveillance, or the future of the internet, or journalism—it won't matter. The film is riveting, and its power is in its source material. Poitras filmed Snowden for 20 hours over eight days in his Hong Kong hotel, and her film has now given the world an unfiltered portrait of the man who, in the course of the year, became the West’s most wanted dissident. Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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How could I refuse? A few days ago, my wife messaged me a photo from a thrift shop with the question, "You want?" The picture was of a box of software still in shrinkwrap—SPRY Inc.'s Internet in a Box for Windows 95. The answer was an obvious "OMG YES." I reviewed Internet in a Box back in 1993 when it was first released as an early adopter of independent local Internet dialup (using David Troy's Toad.Net). I spent endless hours connected with the software and my very first laptop PC, pulling down Hubble Telescope images from the Space Telescope Science Institute's Gopher server and raging at Usenet posts. Just the sight of the logo caused a wave of nostalgia to wash over me. It was a simpler time, a somewhat less user-friendly time. CompuServe was still a thing. This particular box of software was, however, especially endearing. I used version 1.0 for several years before Toad.Net partnered with Covad and ran one of Baltimore's very first DSL connections into my house—allowing me to give up the dual ISDN connection I had for my connection to my employer. This was a bundle designed to bring the masses to the Internet, along with their photos, in 1995. Attached to the box was a Seattle FilmWorks one-use 35mm film camera, emblazoned with the CompuServe logo. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Cyber attacks on large US companies result in an average of $12.7 million in annual damages, an increase of 9.7 percent from the previous year, according to the fifth Cost of Cybercrime report published by the Ponemon Institute on Wednesday. The report, sponsored this year by Hewlett Packard’s Enterprise Security division, found that business disruption and information loss account for nearly three-quarters of the cost of cybercrime incidents. The study also confirmed that companies that make security a priority have lower costs associated with security incidents during the year. In particular, companies that use technology that helps flag potential intrusions into critical systems have lower costs, by an average of $2.6 million. “Business disruption, information loss and the time it takes to detect a breach collectively represented the highest cost to organizations experiencing a breach,” Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said in a statement. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Conal O'Rourke remains frustrated and baffled at his year-long saga with Comcast, which resulted in his losing his job. Cyrus Farivar The California man who publicly accused Comcast of getting him fired from his job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) after he complained to the highest levels of Comcast about his year’s worth of billing errors, has made good on his threat to sue his former ISP. Among other accusations, Conal O’Rourke is suing Comcast on allegations of violating the Cable Communications Act by disclosing his personal information to his employer, defamation, breach of contract, emotional distress, and unfair business practices. “We don’t normally comment on pending litigation and as we have said, there were clear deficiencies in the customer service that we delivered to Mr. O’Rourke," Jenni Moyer, a Comcast spokesperson, told Ars in a statement. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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What greets you at the Onward Internet website (no mention of any telecom ties though...) This piece originally appeared in Pro Publica. This story has been updated to include a comment from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. On a recent Monday evening, two bearded young men in skinny jeans came to a parklet in San Francisco's trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood and mounted what looked like an art installation. It was a bright blue, oversized "suggestion box" for the Internet. Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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