posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Samsung Galaxy S8+. (credit: Ron Amadeo) The latest in the never-ending line of Samsung Galaxy S9 leaks has to do with the box. Reddit user minhvn shared an image of what appears to be a Galaxy S9 box, and it looks pretty legit to us. With the expectation that the Galaxy S9 will look a lot like the Galaxy S8, the box shows all the specs you would expect: a 5.8-inch 1440p OLED display, an iris scanner, 64GB of memory, 4GB of RAM, and wireless charging. The main new addition in the spec list is a 12MP rear camera that lists two camera apertures: f/1.5 and f/2.4. This sounds like the Galaxy S9 will ship with the same variable aperture camera that Samsung has already shipped in the W2018 flip phone. In non-ideal lighting conditions, the W2018 uses the f/1.5 aperture to collect as much light as possible, but in brighter lighting, it switches to f/2.4 for a wider depth of field. Samsung's $1,500 ($1,500? $1,500!) flip phone doesn't have a wide distribution, but the gif of this camera working is pretty incredible—just like a DSLR, a set of miniaturized aperture blades open and close with the changing light levels. Another feature revealed by the spec list is a set of stereo speakers. Again, with the understanding that the Galaxy S9 will look a lot like the Galaxy S8, this most likely means that the earpiece now doubles as a second speaker, and will play along with the usual bottom-firing speaker. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto/Getty Images) After punishing one of its fastest-growing creators this week, Google is reportedly planning on scrutinizing YouTube videos that are part of its most lucrative advertising program. According to a Bloomberg report, Google will begin vetting YouTube videos in the Google Preferred ad program, which Google uses to sell advertisements on the most popular YouTube channels at higher rates. In turn, creators with channels in Google Preferred get a better cut of the advertising revenue than those on Google's lower-tier advertising programs. Google's plan isn't much different from previous plans for policing the majority of videos on YouTube. The company will use the combined forces of its 10,000 human moderators and artificial intelligence software to identify videos posted by the biggest channels that violate YouTube's guidelines and are not suitable for advertisements. Videos that are part of Google Preferred have always been governed by YouTube's general Community Guidelines and posting rules that define offensive and unacceptable content. But a number of videos posted by popular accounts have fallen through the cracks recently, including Logan Paul's "suicide forest" video. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / LG 32UK950. (credit: Samuel Axon) LAS VEGAS—Each year, electronics companies big and small use the CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas to introduce their upcoming slate of products. The majority of products are niche products for a specific audience or tweaks to previous models. But a select few are exciting. The following are the gadgets, computing devices, and wearables announced or shown at CES that most impressed the Ars team. Some were selected because they promise to bring fresh ideas to users, while others were selected because they appear at first glance to be impressively engineered and designed for quality. Unfortunately, some of the world's most innovative tech companies don't make a big showing at CES. Instead, they choose to announce or show their products elsewhere—or they don't make an appearance at all. For that reason, Ars can't claim that this is a comprehensive list of the most promising devices of the year. Read 39 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Jimmy Baikovicius) A former Google engineer named Cory Altheide says he left the company two years ago after managers pressured him to stop agitating for greater workplace diversity in internal company discussion forums. His memo explaining his departure was published by Gizmodo on Thursday evening. Altheide is going public in the wake of controversy over the firing of another Google engineer, James Damore. Damore sued Google earlier this week, arguing that Google discriminates against white men. Ideologically speaking, Altheide is Damore's opposite. Where Damore had argued that Google's diversity policies went too far, Altheide argued that Google was doing too little to promote workplace diversity. Altheide said that his efforts to raise this issue in internal Google discussion forums in 2015 earned him a reprimand from management. He was so frustrated by these interactions that he left the company months later. "I've been bullied by a senior vice president with ten thousand full time employees—arguably the most powerful SVP in the company," Altheide wrote, referring to Google executive Urs Hölzle. "I don't want to work with jerks." Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Frank Cifaldi / VGHF Gamers of a certain age probably remember that Nintendo worked with Maxis to port a version of the seminal SimCity to the brand new SNES in 1991. What most gamers probably don't realize is that an NES version of the game was developed at the same time and cancelled just before its planned release. That version of the game was considered lost for decades until two prototype cartridges surfaced in the collecting community last year. One of those prototypes has now been obtained and preserved by the Video Game History Foundation's (VGHF's) Frank Cifaldi, who demonstrated the emulated ROM publicly for the first time at MAGFest last weekend. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The launch of Zuma was pretty, but the aftermath has been anything but. (credit: SpaceX) On Wednesday, during a Pentagon briefing, spokeswoman Dana White was asked whether the US Department of Defense considered the Zuma mission—a high-value, highly secretive US government payload—a success or a failure. White declined substantive comment, saying, “I would have to refer you to SpaceX, who conducted the launch." Alas, SpaceX isn't talking Zuma's success (or otherwise) either. The company has twice stated that its rocket, both the first and second stages, performed nominally during the launch on Sunday evening. However, SpaceX has stopped short of saying the Zuma payload was successfully deployed into orbit. On Thursday, a day after the Pentagon said the news media should ask SpaceX about mission success, the company's president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell, appeared at a meeting of scientists and engineers in Houston called The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas. Dutifully asked about Zuma, Shotwell replied, "You know I can’t talk about that. It’s not my story to tell." Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Aurich / Getty) As the industry continues to grapple with the Meltdown and Spectre attacks, operating system and browser developers in particular are continuing to develop and test schemes to protect against the problems. Simultaneously, microcode updates to alter processor behavior are also starting to ship. Since news of these attacks first broke, it has been clear that resolving them is going to have some performance impact. Meltdown was presumed to have a substantial impact, at least for some workloads, but Spectre was more of an unknown due to its greater complexity. With patches and microcode now available (at least for some systems), that impact is now starting to become clearer. The situation is, as we should expect with these twin attacks, complex. To recap: modern high-performance processors perform what is called speculative execution. They will make assumptions about which way branches in the code are taken and speculatively compute results accordingly. If they guess correctly, they win some extra performance; if they guess wrong, they throw away their speculatively calculated results. This is meant to be transparent to programs, but it turns out that this speculation slightly changes the state of the processor. These small changes can be measured, disclosing information about the data and instructions that were used speculatively. Read 47 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Rhesus Macaques in a tree (credit: Getty | IndiaPictures ) In the 1930s and ‘40s, the captain of a glass-bottom boat released a dozen or so rhesus macaques on an island in Florida’s Silver River, which snakes through Marion county in the center of the state. The idea was that the monkeys, native to Asia, would be a laugh for tourists passing by. But it seems the monkeys may be the ones to get the last laugh. For one thing, macaques are excellent swimmers and promptly got themselves off the island. In the decades since, their population has exploded to upward of 800 in the surrounding Silver Spring State Park and nearby Ocala National Forest. A new study, out in the February issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, reveals that the population is also spreading a dangerous type of herpes. The virus—macacine herpesvirus 1 (McHV-1), aka herpes B or monkey B virus—is common and causes mild infections in macaques. But in humans, it can lead to severe, often lethal, illnesses. The study authors, led by Samantha Wisely of the University of Florida, Gainesville, concluded that the monkeys must be considered a public health concern and "adequate public health measures should be taken." Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Color enhanced images of the slopes, showing their distinctive blue tinge and layering. Mars clearly had a watery past, and it's expected that much of the water is still on the planet. Figuring out where the ice is hiding could tell us a lot about the planet's climate history and something about Mars' current water cycle. It could also help direct future landers to sample the planet's water and possibly use it to support human landings. While we've found plenty of ice near the pole during the Phoenix Lander mission, that's not a very convenient location for future landings (in part because the site ended up frozen over with dry ice during that pole's Martian winter). In today's issue of Science, researchers are reporting the likely presence of ice sheets in more temperate regions. The sheets are at least 100 meters thick and appear to preserve layers that may help us reconstruct how the water ended up frozen there. MRO data As with many things Martian, the work relies on data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It has a variety of instruments that can probe the chemical composition and subsurface structure of Mars, along with the best camera we've ever sent to another planet. Over the years, MRO has built up a comprehensive catalog of features on the Martian surface, many of them imaged from multiple angles. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Skype) Since its inception, Skype has been notable for its secretive, proprietary algorithm. It's also long had a complicated relationship with encryption: encryption is used by the Skype protocol, but the service has never been clear exactly how that encryption was implemented or exactly which privacy and security features it offers. That changes today in a big way. The newest Skype preview now supports the Signal protocol: the end-to-end encrypted protocol already used by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Allo, and, of course, Signal. Skype Private Conversations will support text, audio calls, and file transfers, with end-to-end encryption that Microsoft, Signal, and, it's believed, law enforcement agencies cannot eavesdrop on. Presently, Private Conversations are only available in the Insider builds of Skype. Naturally, the Universal Windows Platform version of the app—the preferred version on Windows 10—isn't yet supported. In contrast, the desktop version of the app, along with the iOS, Android, Linux, and macOS clients, all have compatible Insider builds. Private Conversations aren't the default and don't appear to yet support video calling. The latter limitation shouldn't be insurmountable (Signal's own app offers secure video calling). We hope to see the former change once updated clients are stable and widely deployed. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A man is seen calling on an iPhone on October 30, 2017. (credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) When Reddit users and a Geekbench developer discovered and shared that Apple's approach to mitigating the aging of batteries is partly responsible for the gradual performance degradation that iPhone users have sometimes experienced, Apple made an effort to explain its choices. The company promised to add software features to give users "more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery" and offered a discounted battery replacement program: new batteries for affected devices will be just $29 through the end of 2018. That means users could reclaim some of that performance. However, an Apple Store memo obtained by MacRumors suggests that owners of the iPhone 6 Plus in some regions (including the US) will have to wait until March or April to replace their batteries. According to MacRumors' report, Apple believes its supply of batteries for these devices will not meet demand in the beginning of the year. Other models are not expected to see such significant delays. For example, the iPhone 6 and 6S Plus are expected to take around two weeks to become available to customers who purchase them, and batteries for all other affected iPhone models should have a quick turnaround time. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today the Dealmaster is looking out for those who need a decent laptop but can't spend the big bucks, as we've got Dell's 14-inch Inspiron 14 7000 marked down to $600. That's about $100 off its current going rate, and it's a solid price for a notebook with an aluminum chassis, 1080p IPS display, 256GB solid state drive, and Core i7-7500U processor. While that Intel chip is a generation old at this point, it's still likely to be plenty strong enough for people shopping in the budget range. If that doesn't interest you, the rest of the rundown includes deals on several other laptops, 4K TVs, and Seagate's popular portable hard drives, among other items. Take a look for yourself below. (credit: TechBargains) Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has vowed to filibuster extension of FISA spying powers without additional privacy protections. (credit: Sen Ron Wyden) The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that would extend a controversial government spying power known as "Section 702" for another six years—without new privacy safeguards that had been sought by civil liberties groups. Debate over the legislation now shifts over to the Senate, where it faces a filibuster threat from both Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). "If this Section 702 bill comes to the Senate, I will filibuster it," Wyden wrote in a tweet shortly after the House bill passed. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Circuit City) Circuit City is coming back, and this time, the license holders propping up the ancient big-box retail chain say they mean it. Following a tease of a CES announcement, current company CEO Ronny Shmoel confirmed on Monday that something called Circuit City will arrive as "a new, more personalized online shopping experience" starting February 15. The announcement event, which was reported by tech-business outlet Twice, included promises of AI-driven recommendations fueled by IBM's Watson platform, plus unexplained "augmented reality" and "search by photo" features. Curiously, Shmoel also promised "real-time tech support via video chat," but it's unclear whether this feature will include two-way video feeds—and, thus, whether Circuit City is prepared for a deluge of Chatroulette-caliber video surprises from trolls. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge Over the last month or so, I've been pestering Ars readers to give as much as they could in out 2017 Charity Drive sweepstake. All told, Ars Technica readers donated $36,738.11 to Child's Play and the EFF through our 2017 charity drive. That's a bit below the roughly $38,000 pace in the last two years, but the total is still much higher than every other year we've run the drive. Good job! Thanks to everyone who gave whatever they could. We're still very early in the process of selecting and notifying winners of our swag giveaway, so don't fret if you haven't heard if you're a winner yet. In the meantime, enjoy these quick stats from the 2017 drive. 2017 Fundraising total: $36,012.37 (down $2848.69 from 2016) Total given to Child's Play: $13,876.76 (down $1,162.98) Total given to the EFF: $22,135.61 (down $1562.76) Number of individual donations: 545 (down 120) Child's Play donations: 265 (down 85) EFF donations: 277 315 (down 38) Average donation: $66.44 $58.25 (up $8.19) Child's Play average donation: $52.37 (up $9.51) EFF average donation: $79.91 $75.46 (up $4.45) Median donation: $25 (even) Median Child's Play donation: $25 (up $0.04) Median EFF donation: $25 (even) Top single donation: $1,500 (to EFF) Donations of $1,000 or more: 4 Donations of $100 or more: 119 $1 donations: 4 (every little bit helps!) Total charity donations from Ars Technica drives since 2007 (approximate): $282,715.24 2016: $38,738.11 2015: $38,861.06 2014: $25,094.31 2013: $23,570.13 2012: $28,713.52 2011: ~$26,000 2010: ~$24,000 2009: ~$17,000 2008: ~$12,000 2007: ~$10,000 Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Boonrit Panyaphinitnugoon) Federal Bureau of Investigation officials are continuing to voice their displeasure with Apple's approach to iPhone security, with one FBI official reportedly calling the company "jerks" and an "evil genius" this week. Apple has repeatedly made it more difficult to access data on encrypted iPhones, making Apple customers safer from hackers but also preventing the FBI from breaking into phones used by suspected criminals. "At what point is it just trying to one-up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?" FBI forensic expert Stephen Flatley said yesterday while speaking at the International Conference on Cyber Security in Manhattan, according to a report by Motherboard. "Apple is pretty good at evil genius stuff." Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino) About one year after the YouTube ad-pocalypse shook up the online video website, the company is handing down a punishment to another YouTube star for posting an obscene video. Logan Paul, a YouTube creator with 15 million subscribers, has been removed from Google's Preferred ad platform. YouTube also won't feature Paul in the fourth season of Foursome, a YouTube Red show, and Paul's other Originals projects have been put on hold. This comes nearly two weeks after Paul posted a video of him visiting Aokigahara in Japan, also known as the "suicide forest," and prominently featuring a dead human body in the video and in the video's thumbnail. YouTube's punishment comes after the company made this original statement about this incident: Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video. YouTube prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner. If a video is graphic, it can only remain on the site when supported by appropriate educational or documentary information and in some cases it will be age-gated. We partner with safety groups such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to provide educational resources that are incorporated in our YouTube Safety Center. Amidst outrage from the YouTube community and some celebrities, Logan Paul removed the video from YouTube and issued two apologies before announcing he would take time off from YouTube "to reflect." Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: US President Donald Trump meets with representatives from PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, in the White House. (credit: Getty | Pool) Update: The House has passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) to extend NSA surveillance authority for six years without significant new privacy safeguards. The vote was 256 to 164. Most Republicans supported the legislation, but it wouldn't have passed without the support of 65 Democrats. As recently as last night, the Trump administration was strongly in favor of legislation to renew one of the federal government's most controversial spying powers. Known to insiders as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the law grants the government surveillance powers that are only supposed to be used on targets outside the United States. Civil liberties groups say that the law can too easily be used to sweep up the private communications of Americans. And they're backing legislation called the USA Rights Act to place new restrictions on the use of 702 spying powers—the House of Representatives was voting on that amendment as we published this story. Last night, the White House put out a statement condemning USA Rights. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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After gently teasing fans all week, Nintendo suddenly threw up a bevy of Nintendo Switch announcements via a "Nintendo Direct Mini" video presentation this morning. Nintendo and Japanese third-party partners seem eager to provide the millions of Switch owners out there with quickly available, prepackaged content in the form of ports of games from older consoles (the kind we've been wondering about for months). The 14-minute trailer-packed video is filled with new footage and information, but we've condensed the important news down below if you can't watch right now: Ports Dark Souls Remastered: No gameplay details were provided for this one, but given the title, it'll surely be a graphically touched-up version of From Software's hard-as-nails, 2011 dungeon crawler. Release date is set for May 25, and PS4, XB1 and PC versions will also be available. The World Ends with You Final Remix: Square Enix's Nintendo DS cult classic Japanese action RPG gets an HD remaster that includes a new scenario "that gets to the heart of the story." Arriving sometime this year. Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition: This Zelda-themed version of the Dynasty Warriors design combines all the maps and missions from the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game, and adds new Breath of the Wild costumes for Link and Zelda. Coming sometime this Spring. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: The tough-but-fun Wii U platform game comes to Switch with Funky Kong as a new playable character, capable of a double hover jump and "infinite rolls." Coming May 4. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA: A port of the game that recently revived the dormant, long-running Japanese RPG series comes to the Nintendo Switch this summer. New game announcements Mario Tennis Aces brings back the fast-paced, over-the-top, super-ability-infused sporting franchise with a new Story Mode that includes specific missions and bosses to face. Coming this spring. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy looks like a female-fighter-focused version of the popular King of Fighters franchise, with new Dream Finish moves to round things out a bit. Coming this summer. DLC Super Mario Odyssey gets a new "Luigi's Balloon World" online hide-and-seek mode as part of a free update in February. One player has 30 seconds to hide a balloon somewhere in the level, and another player has to track it down with the help of guiding arrow. New costumes and photo filters will also be available. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle will get Donkey Kong as a playable character alongside themed content in a paid update this spring. Pokken Tournament DX will see new characters and moves as part of a paid DLC Battle Pack. Other Air-dashing 2D platformer Celeste is coming January 25. 3D platformer Fe is coming February 16. 4-player co-op platformer Kirby Star Allies is coming March 16 Payday 2 is (still) coming to Switch February 27. A demo for Dragon Quest Builders hits the eShop today. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Martin Larsen) According to a press release from NextRadio app owner TagStation LLC, Samsung will be the next major phone manufacturer to enable the dormant FM chips in their devices. The FM chips will be switched on in Samsung's "upcoming smartphone models," which will allow users to listen to local radio stations. Most smartphones ship with FM chips, but they are usually not enabled for various reasons. FM Radio isn't just for music, it's useful in an emergency situation, since it is more resilient and has a longer range than a cellular signal. FM stations can give people critical information even if a storm wipes out the local Internet infrastructure. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai issued a public statement calling on the wireless industry to activate these dormant FM chips to assist in emergency situations. So far, along with Samsung, LG, Motorola, and Alcatel have announced they will start enabling FM chips in their devices. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Samuel Axon) Apple began notifying Chinese iCloud customers of the forthcoming hand-off of its cloud service to the Chinese company Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data (GCBD), which will take over local operations starting February 28. However, TechCrunch reported that some non-Chinese iCloud accounts have been notified of this change. Some users with US-based billing addresses and connections to the US App Store received the notification email stating the physical location of their iCloud data will change come February. According to Apple's help page on the issue, your iCloud's country or region setting dictates whether or not your account will be part of the migration. The operation of iCloud services associated with Apple IDs that have China in their country or region setting will be subject to this transition. You will be notified of this transition via email and notifications on your devices. You don't need to take any further action and can keep using iCloud in China. After February 28, 2018, you will need to agree to the terms and conditions of iCloud operated by GCBD to keep using iCloud in China. Users should update their iCloud location settings if they don't reside in China anymore, to avoid being swept up in the data migration. TechCrunch's report also claims some accounts registered overseas (not in China) are part of the migration, but it's unclear if that means these accounts were simply notified of the migration, or if they will certainly be part of the impending migration. Ars has reached out to Apple for clarification. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Mo Berger) Indigo plants have been used to dye fabric for thousands of years. Unlike other dyes, indigo does not end up chemically linked to textile fibers; rather, it adsorbs to the surface of the threads. This allows the fibers' white cores to show through to various degrees after abrasion. Hence that impossible-to-replicate look of perfectly worn-in jeans. But indigo plants yield only a small amount of the dye. It's not nearly enough to keep pace with the enormous demand that Levi Strauss unleashed when he invented blue jeans in the 1870s. Now, after over a century of relying on a lot of toxic chemicals to make a synthetic version, researchers have engineered bacteria that will make it. The demand for blue dye was handled by one of Strauss’ fellow Bavarians—Adolph von Baeyer, of aspirin fame. He found a way to make a synthetic version of indigo, for which he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1905. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Chris Potter) Early last year, a piece Mac malware came to light that left researchers puzzled. They knew that malware dubbed Fruitfly captured screenshots and webcam images and had been installed on hundreds of computers in the US and elsewhere, possibly for more than a decade. Still, the researchers didn't know who did it or why. An indictment filed Wednesday in federal court in Ohio may answer some of those questions. It alleges Fruitfly was the creation of an Ohio man who used it for more than 13 years to steal millions of images from infected computers, as he took detailed notes of what he observed. Prosecutors also said defendant Phillip R. Durachinsky used the malware to surreptitiously turn on cameras and microphones, take and download screenshots, log keystrokes, and steal tax and medical records, photographs, Internet searches, and bank transactions. In some cases, Fruitfly alerted Durachinsky when victims typed words associated with porn. The suspect, in addition to allegedly targeting individuals, also allegedly infected computers belonging to police departments, schools, companies and the federal government, including the US Department of Energy. Creepware The indictment, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio's Eastern Division, went on to say that Durachinsky developed a control panel that allowed him to manipulate infected computers and view live images from several machines simultaneously. The indictment also said he produced visual depictions of one or more minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct and that the depiction was transported across state lines. He allegedly developed a version of Fruitfly that was capable of infecting Windows computers as well. Prosecutors are asking the court for an order requiring Durachinsky to forfeit any property he derived from 13-year campaign, an indication that he may have sold the images and data he acquired to others. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Zechariah Judy) In the early 2000s, a deadly gut infection began to surge. After decades of lurking in intestines and hospitals—more opportunistic nuisance than lethal threat—the bacterium Clostridium difficile abruptly exploded, spreading rapidly and causing more severe diarrheal disease than ever before. By 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that C. diff infected nearly half a million people in the US that year, killing approximately 29,000. Two strains led the deadly reign: RT027 and RT078 (named based on the genetic code of their ribosomes, or “ribotype”). But scientists could only speculate as to why this duo was suddenly so menacing. At least one of them turned up with resistance to a class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, which contains ciprofloxacin among other common antibiotics. This fact led some researchers to suggest that the bacteria’s rise may have been linked to development of that drug resistance. But scientists had identified fluoroquinolone resistance in C. diff back in mid-80s. Why would it suddenly matter? There was another, cryptic factor at play, it seemed. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / New York City has extensive knowledge of the risks posed by climate-driven sea-level rise. (credit: Patrick Cashin, MTA) Today, the city of New York joined a number of California cities in suing a group of major oil companies for the costs of climate change. The suit claims that these companies—by ignoring their own scientific experts and promoting the continued expansion of fossil fuel use—have created a public and private nuisance in addition to trespassing on city property. It seeks not only damages for past harms the city has suffered, but wants the oil companies to pay the cost of all the adaptation programs that it has had to start or plan. In making the announcement, city officials announced they're putting their money where their lawsuit is. Over the next five years, New York City will divest its pension funds, which currently hold just under $200 billion dollars, from fossil fuel companies. Creating a nuisance New York City isn't the first to file suit against the oil companies. A number of California cities and counties, including San Francisco and Oakland, did so last year. Those suits targeted the same five companies named in the one announced today: Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell. These are the five largest companies, and the suit estimates that they are collectively responsible for over 10 percent of the total greenhouse gasses that have accumulated in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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