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Enlarge If you've been putting off grabbing a few useful things from Amazon, today might be a good day to stock up, as Amazon has announced a one-day promotion: an $8.63 coupon, applicable to many orders over $50. The coupon expires at midnight Pacific on Wednesday, February 22, and it has that funny number because Amazon is using the coupon to brag. The online retailer topped the national Harris Corporate Reputation Poll in rank this week with a score of 86.27, which Amazon is rounding up for its coupon. The Harris poll measures large American corporations over a number of metrics, including "social responsibility," "emotional appeal," and "workplace environment"—and Jeff Bezos is probably stoked to score high in that last category, all things considered. Amazon's 2017 score is the top out of 100 American companies, beating tech companies such as Apple (82.07), Netflix (79.86), Hewlett-Packard (77.83), and more. The bottom-ten list includes a few companies that have seen their share of bad news on Ars Technica recently, including Comcast, Charter, and Volkswagen. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Webpass) Google Fiber's new wireless Internet division is apparently ready to expand. The company's Webpass subsidiary says in a job listing that it is "searching for a General Manager to launch our Seattle market." The new GM will be "directly responsible for the growth of our local telecom network and revenue" and will oversee construction and installation schedules. Webpass, which offers up to 1Gbps upload and download speeds for $60 a month and without data caps, was purchased by Google Fiber in October 2016 and already sells wireless home Internet service in Boston, Chicago, Miami, San Diego, Oakland, and San Francisco. (Advertised speeds are anywhere from 100Mbps to 1Gbps, depending on location.) GeekWire, which wrote about the Webpass job listing yesterday, notes that the plan "would bring Google’s wireless option to Seattle’s dense urban center where creating a new physical fiber network can be expensive and impractical." Google Fiber is known primarily for its fiber-to-the-home service that it offers in nine metro areas. But the Alphabet-owned ISP recently decided to reduce its staff and "pause" fiber operations in 10 cities where it hadn't fully committed to building. Fiber deployments are still planned for a few cities where Google Fiber had committed to building, namely Huntsville, Alabama; San Antonio, Texas; and Louisville, Kentucky. Another planned deployment in Irvine, California, which Google Fiber had described as definitely moving forward, was then canceled. San Francisco was also previously slated to get fiber, but it will have to make do with Webpass wireless. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The cast of the new MST3K, complete with robot pals. (credit: Netflix) The crowdfunded 14-episode revival season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the '90s cult favorite about making fun of bad movies with your robot pals, will officially hit Netflix on April 14. The show's deal with Netflix was announced by series creator Joel Hodgson last summer, and Hodgson revealed the launch date to the project's Kickstarter backers early this morning. Production wrapped on the new season back in October, and in recent weeks, small groups of Kickstarter backers have gotten to see the premiere episode at a handful of "Red Carpet Kickstarter Screening" events. The crowdfunded MST3K revival project was announced in late 2015, and it managed to raise $6.3 million in Kickstarter pledges and other donations. The size of the project and the show's enduring popularity 16 years after its cancellation attracted some reasonably big-name talent to the project both in front of and behind the camera, including Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt as series regulars and a list of guest stars that includes Jack Black, Joel McHale, Jerry Seinfeld, and Mark Hamill. Jonah Ray, the show's new host, was already an established comedian when he was hired, and the show's head writer, Elliott Kalan, was also the head writer for the Jon Stewart-era Daily Show and co-hosts the successful Flop House film podcast on the Maximum Fun network. Hodgson has said in interviews and Kickstarter updates that maintaining the lo-fi homemade feel of the original show is important to him, but this is undeniably a flashier production than the old show. A handful of the writers and performers from the old show, including Bill Corbett (the second voice of Crow), Kevin Murphy (second voice of Tom Servo), and Mary Jo Pehl (late-series villain Pearl Forrester) will be returning as writers or in guest appearances, though others have been content to merely wish the new project well. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Enlarge / That copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe you download won't be playable on another console, even if you log in. Want to play your purchased Nintendo Switch downloads on multiple separate consoles? You'd better be prepared to buy more than one copy of each game. We recently learned that the Nintendo Switch will finally link eShop purchases to a portable online account (unlike the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS, which locked purchases to a specific piece of hardware). But we're now discovering that this feature apparently does not extend to downloading games to multiple Switch systems at the same time. The news comes via a recent preview event for 1-2-Switch at the Nintendo World NYC store, which included a question-and-answer session captured by YouTuber CrazyDopetastic. A questioner talks about the potential for getting a second Switch for his children and asks, "if I want to take my system with me... if I were to buy a digital game, could I buy it once, or would I have to buy it multiple times so they can use those games?" Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Detective Joe Miller and the nuke he has to babysit. The clip is taken from the episode that airs on Wednesday evening on Syfy, so consider this a warning about mild spoilers. Here at Ars we unapologetically love science fiction. Books, movies, comics—all of it. In fact, it needn't even be very good to earn our affection—who among us doesn't have a soft spot for Robot Jox or Dark Star? Of late, there has been a wave of fiction that has taken a closer look at what life would be like once humanity starts to colonize the Solar System and beyond: Neal Stephenson's Seveneves and Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora for example, as well as the miniseries Ascension. But none of those has given us something that's quite as well fleshed out as James SA Corey's The Expanse. While it feels lazy to compare the series to Game of Thrones, it's understandable how that has happened. This sprawling, Solar System-wide series originally started life as the idea for an MMORPG somewhere around the turn of the century, before morphing into a series of novels (and novellas), and finally, a TV series on Syfy. Adapting a book to the screen can often be a fraught experience for the fan that is invested in the story. Unusually, however, Corey—or the two humans behind that nom de plume, Dan Abraham and Ty Franck—are deeply embedded in the show's writers' room. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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European Space Agency NASA and other space agencies have been observing the Martian poles in some detail for the better part of five decades, beginning with the Mariner 9 spacecraft. Since then, augmented by increasingly high-resolution photos and better data, scientists have successfully teased out details of the ice-covered poles. And now, finally, we can come to a singular conclusion: The north pole of Mars looks delicious. Seriously, the polar caps are pretty interesting features. And now we can see the north pole for the first time in a "perspective view," a three-dimensional image that better showcases their depth and detail. These arresting new images were created from elevation data and 32 orbital passes, made between 2004 and 2010, by the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft. The space agency released the mosaic earlier this month. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton) Specs at a glance: Zotac Zbox EN1080 (barebones) CPU Intel Core i7-6700 GPU Nvidia GTX 1080 Networking Dual gigabit LAN, 802.11ac/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 Ports Microphone, headphone, 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A RAM 2 x DDR4-1866/2133 SODIMM Slots (up to 32GB) Storage 1x 2.5-inch SATA 6.0 Gbps HDD/SSD bay, 1x M.2 PCIe x4 slot (22/42,22/60,22/80) Price £2000/$2000 Size 225mm x 203mm x 128mm Last year Zotac released its tiny, gaming-ready Zbox EN1060 mini-PC. Featuring an Intel Core i5-6400T processor and Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, the EN1060 is more than fast enough for high settings 1080p gaming at 60FPS or more. But for those that demand more frames, more resolution, and more powerful hardware inside a console-sized chassis—particularly as Sony raised the game somewhat with the PlayStation 4 Pro—Zotac has another option. Enter the Zotac Zbox Magnus EN1080, a ventilated black cube that packs a fully watercooled Skylake Intel Core i7-6700 processor (note the lack of the unlocked "K" designation) and Nvidia GTX 1080 inside a case just 225mm wide and 203mm deep. Such powerful hardware means the EN1080 is capable of playing games at a native 4K resolution with near maximum settings at over 60FPS. Even better, thanks to the clever watercooling setup inside, it does so while remaining quieter than any console or desktop PC with a standard cooling setup. It's seriously impressive stuff. Naturally, there's a price to pay for such a setup—and it's not cheap. A barebones EN1080—where you supply your own storage, memory, and operating system—costs around £2,000/$2,000. A more conventional desktop system with the same components plus storage, RAM, OS, and a decent all-on-one liquid cooler comes in at under £1500. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / AMD's Ryzen die. (credit: AMD) SAN FRANCISCO—Oasis' smash hit "Wonderwall" was playing as the throng of journalists assembled in the ballroom of a Grand Hyatt hotel in San Francisco at AMD's Ryzen Tech Day. I don't know why the song was picked—normally these events prefer something a little more current and upbeat—but it sure seemed apt. As CEO Lisa Su and others were preparing to speak, one of the Gallagher brothers (who knows which one) drearily droned the question, "You're gonna be the one that saves me?" AMD is a company that needs saving. Although there have been occasional high spots, such as the design wins for both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, the last few years have been heavy going for the chip designer. Its main products—desktop and server processors—haven't been very good at all, forcing it to sell only to the very lowest of the low-end customers. Intel has handily dominated the performance-oriented desktop processor market for the last decade, after AMD's Bulldozer family brought widespread disappointment. But in 2015, Su made clear that the company needed high-performance, high-end parts, and those parts are very nearly here. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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MSPoweruser There's a second major Windows 10 update coming later in 2017, Microsoft has confirmed. The second update, code-named Redstone 3, will follow sometime after the putative April release of the Windows 10 Creators Update. This new update was revealed at Microsoft Ignite in Australia via a "Windows 10 release cadence" slide, pictured below. The purple sections show the few months where an update is available via the Windows Insider programme, and then the plus sign indicates mainstream release. Teal indicates the period where enterprise customers "pilot" the new update, and dark blue is the "production" period where Microsoft provides active support. So, you can see that Microsoft plans to support two versions of Windows 10 concurrently before moving onto the next update. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Ad Astra Rocket Company HOUSTON—Franklin Chang-Díaz bounds up a handful of stairs and peers through a porthole cut into the side of a silver, tanker-truck-sized vacuum chamber. Inside, a blueish-purple light shines, unchanging and constant, like a bright flashlight. “It looks kind of boring,” Chang-Díaz admits. “But that plume is 3.5 million degrees. If you stuck your hand in that, it would be very bad.” Truth be told, the plume does not look impressive at all. And yet the engine firing within the vacuum chamber is potentially revolutionary for two simple reasons: first, unlike gas-guzzling conventional rocket engines, it requires little fuel. And second, this engine might one day push spacecraft to velocities sufficient enough to open the Solar System to human exploration. Read 41 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A sticker with the Uber logo is displayed in the window of a car on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) An Uber driver in North Carolina has sued Uber in a proposed class-action lawsuit. He alleges that he and other drivers like him are consistently underpaid based on the company’s own formula. Since nearly the beginning, Uber has paid its drivers 80 percent of a given fare. However, in the lawsuit, lawyers representing the driver, Martin Dulberg, claim that the company has now changed the way it calculates what that fare is. The result is that the company consistently pays between 70 and 80 percent—but not the full 80 percent—of what the fare should be. In the new lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco, Dulberg's lawyers allege: Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Ice Universe Although the Galaxy S8 won't be at Mobile World Congress, it's expected to have an unveiling sometime in March. But that hasn't stopped the leaks from coming. Today, we have yet another drip of info about Samsung's upcoming flagship. After showing off pictures with the screen off, Twitter user "Ice Universe" has some convincing pictures of the device with the screen on. They give us a great idea of just how slim the bezels are, and we can see the rounded display corners, just like the Xiaomi Mi Mix and the upcoming LG G6. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Shell) Toyota and Shell will likely build seven hydrogen refueling stations around California if the state’s Energy Commission approves a proposed $16.4 million in grants. Both Toyota and Shell see their current products—combustion-engine vehicles and gas, respectively—being phased out in the long term (think 2050). They’re diversifying now to be ready if and when the economics are more favorable for the switch. The announcement of the California stations comes after Toyota, Shell, and 11 other energy and transportation companies jointly agreed to invest nearly $11 billon in hydrogen technology in January. Toyota has worked for years on developing iterations of its hydrogen-powered Mirai. The Japanese car manufacturer expects only 10 percent of its fleet to include combustion engines by 2050. Shell, too, has worked on the fuel angle of hydrogen fuel for years. It argues that hydrogen fuel advances are needed because no single low-carbon solution—like battery-powered electric vehicles—can fit every situation. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The testosterone gel used in a series of trials assessing health effects. (credit: AbbVie) In decades of research, scientists have found only one medical condition that’s clearly and effectively treated with testosterone supplements: pathological hypogonadism—that’s low testosterone levels due to disease of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, or testes. But that hasn’t stopped drug makers and the supplement industry from convincing men that jacking their testosterone will stave off the effects of aging. Getting old naturally lowers testosterone in the body. In efforts to combat “Low T,” testosterone sales sprung 10-fold in the US between 2000 and 2011. In light of that trend, researchers are trying to get a handle on the health benefits of that beefed-up hormone consumption. So far, it looks wimpy. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Lexus The new Lexus LC 500 is a bold move for a company that's built a reputation on vehicles that excel at comfort but leave the performance stuff to a light dusting. It's a faithful evolution of the LF-LC concept car and a spiritual successor to the hand-built V10-engined LFA, just 500 of which were made. But the $100,000 LC 500 is real, tangible, and capable in ways that a $375,000 LFA never could be. Think of the LC 500 as a statement of Lexus' engineering, as it will also provide the basic platform of the next-generation LS sedan and other rear-drive models of the future. But history will look on the LC chiefly as the first time Lexus' current design lexicon—dominated by that massive grille—actually works visually. There's some original thinking in there, with visual harmony uncommon to most other Lexus models. The tail lights, for instance, use 80 concentric-looking LEDs and internal mirrors that filter a certain amount of light to appear three-dimensional and almost like a jet's afterburners. You’d think the LC 500 gives the eye so many interesting visual details that it would seem fussy, but it doesn't. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: California Medical Cannabis Initiative) BOSTON—Stacy Gruber of Harvard Medical School laid out the numbers: 28 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws, 17 others allow some cannabis-based products, and eight states now allow recreational use. The US has turned into a grand experiment on the medicinal use of pot, even as the federal government's classification of the drug makes it extremely difficult to do good research on it. But that doesn't mean research isn't getting done. Gruber and two other researchers described what they're learning about medicinal marijuana at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “This is the direction we’re headed," Gruber said, "and it’s good to be prepared.” Canadian vigilance Mark Ware of McGill University had a term for one way of tracking the effect of pot use: pharmacovigilance. Harmful side effects of drugs like acetaminophen and Vioxx weren't caught during clinical trials. Instead, they were identified by tracking the use of these drugs once they became available to the general population. This regular monitoring of drug users is what he called pharmacovigilance. It's the same process that has made us aware of the widespread abuse of prescription opioids. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: jon collier) The Federal Trade Commission is investigating an auto lender that often requires subprime borrowers to have so-called GPS starter-interrupter devices enabled on purchased vehicles. The so-called kill switches, which can monitor a vehicle's constant whereabouts, also have the remote ability to shut a car off and to prevent a car from starting. This makes it easy for lenders to repossess the car for missed payments. But this modern-day version of the repo-man raises both safety and privacy concerns. The Credit Acceptance Corp. of Michigan said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this month that it received a civil investigative demand from the FTC "seeking information on the Company’s policies, practices and procedures in allowing car dealers to use GPS Starter Interrupters on consumer vehicles. We are cooperating with the inquiry and cannot predict the eventual scope, duration or outcome at this time. As a result, we are unable to estimate the reasonably possible loss or range of reasonably possible loss arising from this investigation." Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Qualcomm) Last year around Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon X16, billed as the company's first "gigabit" LTE modem. Most of you still don't have an X16 in your phones, though that will change in the next few months with the imminent arrival of the Snapdragon 835 processor and the flagship phones that use it. But Qualcomm has already moved on to the next thing, namely its new Snapdragon X20 modem—this chip bumps the maximum theoretical download speed from the X16's 1.0Gbps to 1.2Gbps, but more importantly it makes those gigabit speeds easier to actually hit. The X20 hits those (at this point, still mostly theoretical) gigabit speeds by using many of the same tricks as the X16. Carrier aggregation and 4×4 MIMO antennas allow up to 12 streams of data to be received using between three and five 20MHz chunks of spectrum, up from 10 streams across three or four 20MHz chunks of spectrum in the X16. Use of 256-QAM instead of 64-QAM allows up to 100Mbps of data to be sent in each stream, adding up to 1.2Gbps of total bandwidth (a good, basic explainer of QAM, or Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, can be found here). The big difference for the X20 is that wireless operators can use more combinations of licensed and unlicensed LTE spectrum to actually hit gigabit speeds. The graphic above shows all of the combinations of licensed (yellow) and unlicensed (red) spectrum that can be mixed and matched to reach 1.0 or 1.2Gbps. In theory, operators could offer gigabit LTE speeds using just 10MHz of licensed spectrum, a feature enabled by the modem's 5x carrier aggregation. From the press release: Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: BBC) Bored now that The Grand Tour's first season is done? In need of some arty, slow-motion shots of tires being converted into smoke? Hang in there, because the BBC's Top Gear is almost back. Last season ended in some ignominy. Ratings were awful, and Chris Evans took responsibility and duly fell on his sword. But there was plenty to like about the show in the post-Clarkson era, particularly Chris Harris and Rory Reid. Top Gear must have listened to the Internet, because it's giving the pair much more to do this season, alongside Matt LeBlanc. Season 24 features the usual array of supercars: the Bugatti Chiron, Ford GT, and Ferrari FXX K, to name but three. And we can look forward to road trips through Kazakhstan, Cuba, and Nevada, among others. Obviously the Stig will be back, and we're particularly looking forward to an episode involving Sabine Schmidt trying to overtake a million pounds' worth ($1,250,000) of supercars on the Nürburgring armed with nothing more than a Volkswagen Golf GTI and Reid in the passenger seat counting. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI) BOSTON—Alan Stern, principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, started his talk at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting by showing off the Hubble Space Telescope's best image of Pluto. It was greeted by laughter, as it took only seconds for the audience to count the dozen pixels that contained actual data. “You may laugh again," Stern said. "We wrote numerous papers based on this image.” He's now got a lot more data to work with, though he had to be very patient to get it. Not only did it take months to get all the data from New Horizons back to Earth, but it took decades to get the probe approved in the first place. Stern shared that tale with his audience in Boston. Expanding Horizons The astronomy community periodically gets together to do what are called Decadal Surveys, which help NASA set priorities for future missions. But as Stern put it, these surveys consider “many more good ideas than there is budget to execute.” So, Pluto missions had appeared in them five times without being approved. But a variety of data on Pluto trickled in even without a visit, and this gradually built the case for sending hardware there. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / AT&T will own a bunch of new media properties if it is allowed to buy Time Warner. (credit: Aurich Lawson) With AT&T planning to avoid a Federal Communications Commission review of its merger with Time Warner, Senate Democrats led by Al Franken (D-Minn.) recently asked the company to prove that the acquisition will benefit Americans. AT&T gave its response on Friday with a letter that describes the merger’s promised benefits—including targeted advertising. “More relevant advertising in ad-supported video services” is one of the customer benefits highlighted by AT&T in its letter. The company previously courted controversy by scanning customers' Web browsing in order to deliver personalized ads. Customers had to pay at least $29 a month extra to opt out of the personalized ads, but AT&T ultimately ended that program late last year. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Philippa Willitts) Food and Drug Administration reports obtained by STAT through a Freedom of Information Act request detail the heart-rending stories of babies and toddlers who became severely ill or died after taking homeopathic teething products—which, as Ars has reported, the FDA has found to contain inconsistent amounts of toxic belladonna, aka deadly nightshade. The reports describe more than 370 infants becoming ill—including, twitching, seizing, losing consciousness, and turning blue, requiring emergency treatment and some being airlifted to hospitals. Many of the symptoms are consistent with belladonna poisoning, which is known to cause seizures, vomiting, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, blurred vision, and confusion. In response to warnings last year from the FDA, Hyland’s stopped distributing the products in the US. However, Hyland’s has continued to insist that the products are safe and has refused to recall them. They can still be found in some retailers and online. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Some five months after Yahoo disclosed a security breach that exposed sensitive data for 500 million accounts, some of its systems remained compromised, according to a report published Tuesday. It reported that in light of the hacks Verizon would knock $350 million off the price it would pay to acquire Yahoo's Internet business. "A recent meeting between technical staff of the two companies revealed that some of Yahoo’s systems were compromised and might be difficult to integrate with Verizon’s AOL unit," The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed people. Verizon remains concerned that the breaches may hamper user engagement and in the process make the assets less valuable. Yahoo responded by cutting $350 million from the original $4.83 billion price tag, bringing the deal value to about $4.48 billion. It wasn't clear precisely when the meeting occurred. Tuesday's report comes a week after Yahoo sent a new round of notifications warning users that their accounts may have been breached as recently as last year. The disclosure caused concerns, because previously all the hacks were believed to have taken place in 2013 and 2014. The much more recent compromises were carried out by forging the browser cookies Yahoo servers set after a user logs in to an account. Once a computer has the authentication cookie, it no longer requires a users enter a password to access the account. Yahoo first disclosed the cookie attack in October, but didn't say how recently it had occurred. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Just one of ... 110 planets in the Solar System? (credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI) It's no secret that Alan Stern and other scientists who led the New Horizons mission were extremely displeased by Pluto's demotion from planet status in 2006 during a general assembly of the International Astronomical Union. They felt the IAU decision undermined the scientific and public value of their dramatic flyby mission to the former ninth planet of the Solar System. But now the positively peeved Pluto people have a plan. Stern and several colleagues have proposed a new definition for planethood, which they intend to submit for consideration at the next general assembly of the IAU. The final arbiters of astronomical definitions will next gather in Vienna in August 2018. In technical terms, the proposal redefines planethood by saying, "A planet is a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion and that has sufficient self-gravitation to assume a spheroidal shape adequately described by a triaxial ellipsoid regardless of its orbital parameters." More simply, the definition can be stated as, “round objects in space that are smaller than stars." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Jeff Christensen / ContributorChristensen/WireImage) If you took all the remaining Windows XP and Vista users in the world—a surprisingly robust 10 percent—and placed them in a Venn diagram with those that play Blizzard games, the intersection would likely be very, very small. And yet, despite Microsoft ending mainstream support for XP and Vista in 2009 and 2012 (Windows XP limped on with security updates until 2014), Blizzard has continued to support World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2, Diablo 3, Hearthstone, and even Heroes of the Storm under the decrepit operating systems. Or, at least it did. Beginning "later this year," Blizzard will sunset support for those games under XP and Vista. The change will be rolled out on a "staggered schedule," with Blizzard promising to post individual notices for each game. The games will refuse to run on an unsupported operating system once support ends. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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