posted 8 days ago on ars technica
In 2013, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a once-clandestine warrantless surveillance program that gobbles up Americans' electronic communications—a project secretly adopted in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks on the United States. Congress legalized the surveillance in 2008 and again in 2012 after it was exposed by The New York Times. Human-rights activists and journalists brought the Supreme Court challenge amid claims that the FISA Amendments Act was chilling their speech. But the Supreme Court tossed the case, telling the challengers' lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union to bring proof by real targets of the warrantless e-mail and phone surveillance. In a 5-4 ruling (PDF) by Justice Samuel Alito at the time, the court said the case was based on "assumptions" and that the plaintiffs "merely speculate" that they were being spied upon. Fast forward to the present day: a US resident of Brooklyn, New York, accused of sending $1,000 to a Pakistani terror group has won the right to become the nation's second defendant to challenge the surveillance at the appellate level. This could mean a Supreme Court bid is likely several months or more away. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The years-long legal battle between Craigslist and 3taps has finally come to a close, resulting in the longstanding case being settled. 3taps will shut down, and the company agreed to pay Craigslist $1 million as part of the settlement. Craigslist will in turn donate that money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation—$100,000 each year over the next 10 years. The case began in July 2012 when Craigslist sued PadMapper, a site that created a better interface for Craigslist apartment listings, and 3taps, which scraped Craigslist data and made it available to other websites. Craigslist accused both PadMapper and 3taps of copyright infringement, breach of contract, trademark infringement, and unfair competition among other allegations. Months later, 3taps counter-sued. Both suits will now end as a result of the settlement. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
If you've been putting off pre-ordering Valve's upcoming Steam Link or Steam Controller hardware since the devices first went on pre-sale earlier this month, we have some bad news. Valve has announced that it has sold out of units for the initial "get it early" offer (with its expected delivery on October 16). Any orders placed from now on will instead be delivered weeks later on November 10. You may have also missed your chance to get early delivery of the first commercial "Steam Machines" pre-loaded with SteamOS. Any orders for the Alienware Steam Machines placed through GameStop since last Thursday will now be shipped November 10 rather than October 16. Syber now lists a ship date "on or after 10/15/2015" for its first wave of Steam Machines. Valve hasn't responded to a request regarding just how many of either unit has sold so far, so it's hard to tell whether it's low supply, healthy demand, or some combination that led to the "early bird" sell out just a few weeks after its announcement. We also have no idea what kind of supplies Valve has planned for the wider availability in November. In any case, if you want to be among the first to see how Valve handles itself outside of the software realm, we wouldn't recommend putting it off any longer. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
A little over 12 billion years ago, more than seven billion years before the Earth and Sun had formed, there was an epoch that marked the Universe's peak of star formation as well as black hole growth. It's during this period that the black holes that lie at the heart of every galaxy were expanding to supermassive proportions. The brightest and most active of these are called quasars, for "quasi-stellar radio source." These can be, on their own, up to 100 times brighter than the combined light from our own Milky Way galaxy's 200 to 400 billion stars. To shine so brightly, they need to feed on an incredible amount of matter, producing light as the infalling material heats up due to friction. Where this material comes from is not well understood, but a new study using the Hubble Space Telescope may have an answer. One model held that quasars are formed when two galaxies collide. The mash-up of both galaxies’ material could cause a lot of it to fall in toward the new galaxy’s core, thus providing fuel for the quasar. This material is normally held in place by angular momentum, but its orbital path can get disrupted as the two galaxies move through each other, leading it to fall in toward the core of the newly merged galaxy. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
On Monday, French authorities took two Uber executives into custody for questioning as part of an investigation into UberPop, the startup’s lower cost alternative. Local media have named the men as Thibaut Simphal, the CEO for France, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, the CEO for Western Europe. Under French law, both men can be held for up to 48 hours without being charged. "Our general managers for France and Western Europe today attended a hearing with the French police," Gareth Mead, an Uber spokesman, told Ars in a statement. "We are always happy to answer questions the authorities have about our service—and look forward to resolving these issues. Those discussions are ongoing. In the meantime, we’re continuing to ensure the safety of our riders and drivers in France given last week's disturbances." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
With most of my recent work trips, the schedule featured packed days of filming and interviewing. The days were long, and I was pretty engaged with the process for most of the time. So when they were all over, I generally just felt like passing out, which meant going back to the hotel, grabbing some food and beer, and going to sleep (jet lag permitting). My recent trip to India was great because the filming took place on Friday and Monday, which meant a weekend of exploring Bangalore. Conveniently, one of the local film crew was serving as our guide in order to help us get some of the city on film. After a short time at a historic building and one of the city’s many parks, the heat began to really hit hard—even the locals were complaining about it. So we decided to wait out a bit of the afternoon in the obvious location: a brewery. Which was excellent. When we finally returned to action in the evening, our destination was Commercial Street, which is exactly what its name implies: a hub of commerce. It and several of the surrounding streets were jam-packed with shops, most of them selling consumer goods. This probably isn’t the best place to go if you want locally made handicrafts. But if you're looking to buy, say, women’s sandals, there are about 30 different shops anxious to cater to your needs. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Google's appeal of the Google-Oracle API copyright dispute. The high court's move lets stand an appellate court's decision that application programming interfaces (APIs) are subject to copyright protections. Here is how we described the issue in our earlier coverage: The dispute centers on Google copying names, declarations, and header lines of the Java APIs in Android. Oracle filed suit, and in 2012, a San Francisco federal judge sided with Google. The judge ruled that the code in question could not be copyrighted. Oracle prevailed on appeal, however. A federal appeals court ruled that the "declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection." Google maintained that the code at issue is not entitled to copyright protection because it constitutes a "method of operation" or "system" that allows programs to communicate with one another. The high court did not comment Monday about the case when announcing that it had decided against reviewing it. However, the court's announcement comes a month after the Justice Department sided with Oracle and told the justices that APIs are copyrightable (PDF). Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
The explosive gunplay of Halo 5: Guardians, particularly its new Warzone online mode, made a nice showing at this month's Electronic Entertainment Expo, but the game's developers at 343 also disappointed fans with a June backtrack on a prior promise. The game's campaign mode will revolve around four-player co-op play, but players who want to team up with friends in that campaign will need to hop online—meaning, no split-screen campaign options for friends on the same couch. On Sunday afternoon, the backtracking continued for Halo fans who like to play split-screen versus modes on the same screen. A Halo fan on Twitter, named Ben Van Riper, took a screencap of Halo 5's Xbox One pre-order listing, which currently lists a oneplayer limit on a single console, along with a "2-24 player" count for online multiplayer. @JoshingtonState @Franklez @PlutonForever @Brav Does this mean that #halo5splitscreen has been removed entirely? pic.twitter.com/jnDQkoq9z1 — Ben Van Riper (@bengvr3) June 28, 2015 Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
A year after Iraqi officials ordered the shutdown of Internet access in nearly a quarter of the country to limit the ability of ISIS to communicate, the government ordered a complete shutdown of Internet service in the country for three hours on Saturday, June 27. A shorter interruption followed today. At least one of these outages was apparently intended to block a different sort of message traffic: the sharing of answers for national exams for entry into junior high school. The outage began at 5:00am in Iraq and lasted until 8:00am, based on data from Dyn Research. According to the Egypt-based Arabic news service El Hadas, the outage corresponded to "the start of the sixth ministerial preparatory exams"—the national tests for entry into junior high school. In Iraq, education is only required for all students up to the sixth-grade level; those who fail to score well enough on exams at the end of the sixth year generally don't continue their education. With that kind of high-pressure testing, the motivation for cheating is high as well—so high that the government decided to shut down Internet access to prevent parents or others from remotely assisting students during the exams. It's not clear whether the brief outage today (which lasted about an hour, starting at 5:00am again) was also connected to testing. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
We've known most of the big details about Apple Music since Apple officially announced it at WWDC earlier this month: it launches on June 30, it costs $10 per month or $15 per month for families of up to six people, and it comes with a three-month free trial that up until recently was causing some grief for Taylor Swift and other independent artists. But questions about how it would interact with other paid Apple services, most notably iTunes Match, remained. Apple software and services SVP Eddy Cue took to Twitter to answer some questions yesterday, and now we know more: Apple Music will include song-matching functionality similar to iTunes Match. If a song you have in your library isn't present in the Apple Music library or in your iTunes purchases, you should be able to upload it to Apple and play it from any device associated with your Apple ID. Apple has been pretty evasive about the depth and breadth of the Apple Music library—we only know that it won't include everything in the regular iTunes Store, but new deals are still being struck—so this should come as a comfort to people with specific tracks that don't end up in the catalog. In iOS 8, Cue says that Apple Music will stick to iTunes Match's 25,000-song limit. In iOS 9, the company is "working" to increase that limit to 100,000 songs. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Microsoft might well be enjoying a cosy relationship with Oculus VR these days, but that hasn't stopped one employee from picking holes in the headset's design. A freely downloadable CAD file has popped up online at Microsoft Research, with the group claiming to have developed a superior lens design than the one currently inhabiting the Oculus Rift DK2 headset. According to the CAD project's readme file, the new lens design features a field of view that's "slightly smaller than the stock lens, but it is sharper across the field and has far less chromatic aberration." Example images show that the smaller field of view doesn't result in Hololens-like limitations, while also substantially improving the image quality. The lens, which was developed by the a new "LensFactory program" at Microsoft Research, can be purchased from Edmund Optics, and the housing can be 3D printed using a high-end Objet Eden 260 3D printer. The readme file notes that the company hasn't tested any other printer, but that you may encounter "issues with hobbyist FDM printers, because the thin crush ribs that hold the lens elements in place may not print properly." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
In November, BMG Music and Round Hill Music threatened what some copyright holders have long threatened: they sued a large ISP, Cox Communications, seeking to hold it responsible for the piracy taking place on its network. Cox wasn't forwarding infringement notices sent out by Rightscorp, the digital copyright enforcer BMG and Round Hill had hired to sending out millions of notices. (That company famously offers to settle copyright claims for $20 per song.) By effectively protecting determined pirates on its system, Cox was violating copyright law, BMG lawyers argue. It's a case that has potentially big ramifications, and it's a gamble for the music publisher plaintiffs. If a judge finds Cox liable for the actions of users on its network, it will have implications for the whole cable industry. If a ruling goes the other way, the little leverage that an anti-piracy outfit like Rightscorp has could evaporate. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Following an ontime liftoff at 10:21 am on Sunday morning, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an unmanned Dragon cargo vehicle broke apart over the Atlantic Ocean. Falcon’s first two minutes its flight to the International Space Station were flawless; however, approximately 139 seconds into the mission and just prior to the first stage separation, the vehicle disintegrated. This is the first failure of the Falcon 9 for the California-based SpaceX. Since its maiden liftoff in 2010, the company has celebrated a total of 18 successful launches. The Falcon 9 rocket is composed of two stages, with the first stage shut down—also known as main engine cutoff (MECO)—occurring approximately 159 seconds into the flight. However, approximately 20 seconds before that, the vehicle experienced an anomaly. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted an update soon after saying, “Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before the first stage shutdown. There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank.” Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane co-founded by Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg, took off today on a potentially record-breaking flight across the Pacific Ocean. The BBC reports that the single-seater left Japan's Nagoya Airfield at 18:03 GMT (a little after noon CT) and hopes to reach Hawaii in roughly five days. In total, the flight would traverse 8,200km or approximately 5,095 miles. If successful, the BBC notes the Solar Impulse team will break records for both the longest-duration solo flight and the furthest distance flown by an entirely solar-powered aircraft. Borschberg and partner Bertrand Piccard hope that the third time is the charm for this endeavor. The plane's first attempt at takeoff in May was cut short by the forecast causing an unscheduled landing, and the second attempt (occurring last Tuesday, June 23) was postponed for similar reasons. According to the BBC report, the team hasn't aggressively publicized its take off today just incase weather conditions again cause an unexpected landing. At the time of this article, Solar Impulse's official site and Twitter account remained mum on its current progress. The BBC reported the point of no return is set at about eight hours, so Solar Impulse should know within the next two hours. Solar Impulse's demonstration of the cockpit space. Solar Impulse Solar Impulse 2 has a bigger wingspan than a jumbo jet, but it's light (roughly the weight of a car) and powered solely by 17,000 solar cells. "During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries weighing 633 Kg (2077 lbs.) which allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore to have virtually unlimited autonomy," the team states on its About page. Of course beyond technical challenges, the human element of this record-attempt also present a significant hurdle. Borschberg's space is roughly the size of a phone booth according to the BBC, and the pilot will only be able to take 20-minute naps throughout this initial leg. If a water landing must happen, the plane contains supplies for its pilot to survive for an entire week during recovery. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
In the Wild West of Silicon Valley startups of the late 1990s, one little company looked like it might accomplish something incredible. VM Labs had some of the best engineering talent in the world, an explosive mix of bright young minds with burning ambition and experienced old hands who once held key positions in companies such as Atari, Sony, and Sega. Their business revolved around a little chunk of silicon codenamed "Project X.” Later, they officially named their dream chip the Nuon. VM Labs believed it might change the world. (See their marketing specs [PDF] for proof.) The Nuon was so much more than a chip—it was a complete multimedia platform with an operating system and a Web browser. It would turn any DVD player in the world into a game console. And at a time when DVD looked like it would soon to be everywhere, the Nuon could be right there with it. VM Labs' goal for the Nuon was huge but straightforward: total market penetration. The company wanted a Nuon chip inside every DVD player. For a time, it actually seemed attainable. Read 59 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
In the movie Interstellar, the main character Cooper escapes from a black hole in time to see his daughter Murph in her final days. Some have argued that the movie is so scientific that it should be taught in schools. In reality, many scientists believe that anything sent into a black hole would probably be destroyed. But a new study suggests that this might not be the case after all. The research says that, rather than being devoured, a person falling into a black hole would actually be absorbed into a hologram—without even noticing. The paper challenges a rival theory stating that anybody falling into a black hole hits a “firewall” and is immediately destroyed. Hawking’s black holes Forty years ago, Stephen Hawking shocked the scientific establishment with his discovery that black holes aren’t really black. Classical physics implies that anything falling through the horizon of a black hole can never escape. But Hawking showed that black holes continually emit radiation once quantum effects are taken into account. Unfortunately, for typical astrophysical black holes, the temperature of this radiation is far lower than that of the cosmic microwave background, meaning detecting them is beyond current technology. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Jonathan M. Gitlin We arrived at Watkins Glen on Friday and were greeted with picture perfect weather (and racing). This is the Porsche GT3 Cup race, a one-make series for Porsche 911s. 58 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } ars.AD.queue.push(["xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:[], collapse: true}]);WATKINS GLEN, NY—It's been a motorsports-packed weekend for Cars Technica. While a UK-based colleague was at the inaugural London Formula E race (complete with Ars-logo'd Venturi GP racing cars), we headed to Upstate New York's picturesque Watkins Glen. This weekend the area played host to a round of the Tudor United Sportscar Championship (TUSC), an endurance racing series where four different classes of cars compete for glory. As one might expect, there were some extremely cool racing cars at the track. On top of that, Watkins Glen is just dripping in motorsport history, and there were lots of cool street cars to gawp at as well. We've assembled the gallery above to share some initial highlights, but we'll have more from Watkins Glen in the coming week. Hopefully these sights can satisfy your petrol appetites in the meantime—you might even see one of the gaming industry's superstars among the motorheads. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
From fun-house mirrors to holograms, we have all experienced incredible optical illusions. Right now, scientists are fascinated by the prospect of finding a way to perform an even more challenging trick: hiding things in plain sight. We've made some metamaterials that have refractive indices that can redirect particular wavelengths of light. But one issue scientists have found particularly difficult to address is how to mask corners. Sharp corners are pretty common, and it's difficult to figure out ways to guide the surface waves of light around corners, as the light experiences scattering loss when encountering sharp corners. That's because there is a large mismatch in momentum of the light waves at the surface of an object before and after passing around the corner of an extremely compact shape. Though scientists have successfully developed a few materials that can perform scattering-free guidance of surface waves around corners, these methods are limited. They rely on photonic crystals with a large magnetic response, which limits the types of waves it can influence. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Shortly after launch today, SpaceX's Falcon launch vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. NASA's monitoring confirmed that the Falcon had broken up, something that was pretty obvious based on the live coverage of the launch. Prior to that point, things had appeared to be going smoothly. SpaceX control has announced that it is currently gathering data and evaluating video of the failure. It's hoping to host a press conference later today once that preliminary analysis is complete, but that will take place no earlier than 12:30 pm local time at Kennedy Space Center. Ars will have a reporter at the press conference, so check back later today. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
SpaceX's seventh resupply mission to the International Space Station, CRS-7, is scheduled to launch tomorrow, June 28, from Cape Canaveral. The launch is exciting for two main reasons. For space travel fans, the highlight will be the third attempt at landing the Falcon 9 main stage on a barge in the middle of the ocean. For tech geeks, you'll be excited to learn that the cargo capsule will deliver two Microsoft HoloLens headsets to the astronauts aboard the ISS. HoloLens is being sent to the ISS as part of Project Sidekick. HoloLens gives the user an augmented view of reality by overlaying digital imagery on whatever you happen to be looking at. Microsoft has demonstrated HoloLens' gaming capabilities (Minecraft!) but so far the messaging has been mostly about telepresence, remote assistance, and new UI and UX paradigms. Project Sidekick will allow NASA to "provide virtual aid" to astronauts aboard the ISS when they need it. "This new capability could reduce crew training requirements and increase the efficiency at which astronauts can work in space," reads the press release. NASA also mentions that offloading training and expertise "could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
While we’ve heard of consumer drones getting in the way of commercial airliners, and more recently, obstructing firefighting operations, we’ve haven’t heard of many cases where drones are shot out of the sky by a neighbor. Eric Joe, told Ars he was flying his homemade drone over his parents’ orchard late last year. After just three-and-a-half minutes of flight time, a single shotgun blast rang out from the neighbor’s property at the low-flying, slow-moving hexacopter. The drone came crashing down instantly and was damaged beyond repair. After the neighbor, Brett McBay, declined to cover the costs that he initially was amenable to pay, Joe took McBay to small claims court last month. Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
In the 1960s, the network of seismometers around the world expanded rapidly. It wasn’t because seismology became a fad—it was because seismometers could detect underground nuclear weapons tests anywhere in the world. Shifting gears from a cold war to the cold science of glaciology, there’s another phenomenon seismometers can pick up: seismic booms from the melting end of glaciers. These “glacial earthquakes” have become increasingly frequent as parts of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets shed mass and shrink in volume, contributing to sea level rise. Glacial earthquakes have much longer periods than actual tectonic earthquakes, with minutes passing between peaks in the wave. As a result, researchers actually have to analyze seismometer data in a different way in order to pick them up. The quakes aren’t trivial in strength though; most release a similar amount of total energy as a magnitude 5 earthquake. The weird thing is that, even as we've tracked them, we haven’t actually figured out precisely what a glacial earthquake was. They seemed to be related to calving events, where large icebergs break off the floating front of a glacier that reaches the ocean, but what actually shakes the earth? Was the iceberg scraping along bottom? Did it have something to do with the sudden acceleration of the iceberg as it peels away from the rest of the glacier? Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
A man who ran a Bitcoin-based online poker site and then fled to Antigua after being raided earlier this year has pleaded guilty to a lesser gambling violation in Nevada as a way to stay a near-free man. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Bryan Micon accepted probation on Thursday and will also pay a $25,000 fine, surrender the computers, 3.0996 bitcoins ($750) and the $900 that were seized from him during the raid. Once complete, his charge will be reduced to a gross misdemeanor of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system. Neither Micon, nor Richard Schonfeld, his attorney, immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Song recordings created before 1972 don't have federal copyright, but many states did grant such copyrights. The varying rules on older songs have been a huge headache for satellite radio provider Sirius XM, and may yet be a boondoggle for streaming services like Pandora. After experiencing some adverse rulings, Sirius is moving to put its biggest legal conflict over royalties behind it. Documents filed this morning with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate that the company has agreed to pay the major record labels $210 million to end their dispute over whether they should be paying royalties for pre-1972 songs. The song doesn't end litigation by the '60s band The Turtles, who still have a class-action lawsuit proceeding against Sirius. But the major labels have the rights to about 80 percent of the pre-1972 music that Sirius plays. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Cisco revealed a security vulnerability in a number of the company's network security virtual appliances that could give someone virtually unlimited access to them—default, pre-authorized keys for Secure Shell (SSH) sessions originally intended for "customer support" purposes. As Threatpost's Dennis Fisher reported, Cisco has released software patches that correct the problem, but there's no temporary workaround for systems that can't immediately be patched. Cisco released an advisory on the vulnerability on June 25. There are two separate SSH key vulnerabilities for the Cisco Web Security Virtual Appliance (WSAv), Cisco Email Security Virtual Appliance (ESAv), and Cisco Security Management Virtual Appliance (SMAv). The first is that these virtual machines, which run on VMware and KVM virtualization platforms, share a default authorized SSH key for remote login. "IP address connectivity to the management interface on the affected platform is the only requirement for the products to be exposed to this vulnerability," Cisco warned. "No additional configuration is required for this vulnerability to be exploited." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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