# You don’t need to be a terrorist to get on no-fly list, US manual says

posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Watchlisting Guidance memo Federal agencies have nominated more than 1.5 million names to terrorist watchlists over the past five years alone, yet being a terrorist isn't a condition of getting on a roster that is virtually impossible to be removed from, according to a leaked US "Watchlisting Guidance" manual. The 166-page document, marked as "sensitive security information" and published by The Intercept, comes amid increasing skepticism over how people are placed on or get off of US terrorism databases like the no-fly list that bars flying to and within the United States. Attorney General Eric Holder, for example, had claimed last year that national security would be imperiled if the public knew that a Stanford University graduate student was placed on the no-fly list because an FBI agent checked the wrong box on a nomination form. And just last month, a federal judge ruled that the government's method for allowing the public to challenge placement on the no-fly list was "wholly ineffective" and unconstitutional. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# GOG rolls out Linux support with over 50 games, many on sale

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Sean Nguyen While Valve and its Steam distribution platform have been pushing Linux as the future of PC gaming for a long while now, the folks at online store GOG have contented themselves with PC and Mac software. That situation changed today, as GOG (formerly Good Old Games) announced support for Linux, offering over 50 titles for DRM-free download. GOG's list of available Linux titles is unsurprisingly dominated by indie titles and overlaps somewhat with the more robust list of nearly 600 Linux titles on Steam. But GOG is promoting nearly two dozen titles that are being offered as appearing on Linux for the first time through GOG, after the site says it "personally ushered [them] one by one into the welcoming embrace of Linux gamers" with "special builds prepared by our team." That list of new-to-Linux titles on GOG includes some well-remembered, big-name classics like FlatOut (and FlatOut 2), Rise of the Triad, Sid Meier's Pirates, and Sid Meier's Colonization (not to mention Duke Nukem 3D, which was previously available on Linux). Users who buy a Linux-compatible game from GOG will be able to download their games as distro-independent tar.gz archives and/or as DEB installers that will work on Ubuntu or Mint. For games compatible with multiple operating systems, one purchase gives access to all versions. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# Kids really do avoid food that’s good for them

posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Children are often fussy eaters, and most parents would say that trying to convince them that a given food is good for them won't help convince them to eat it. As it turns out, "won't help" might be overstating things. When told that a food serves some purpose other than tasting good, kids will rate it as less tasty and eat less of it. Two Chicago-area researchers, Michal Maimaran and Ayelet Fishbach, phrase their research in terms of what they call "food instrumentality"—the idea that a given type of food is good for achieving a goal. Carrots are good for your vision, spinach makes you strong, and so on. The researchers suspect that this idea interacts with a quirk in the reasoning of young children: they tend to think of things as only serving a single purpose. If carrots are good for your vision, the reasoning goes, they're not likely to be good for your tastebuds at the same time. Over a series of experiments with children three to five years old, the authors tested foods that were given various purposes: makes you strong, helps you read, or helps you count. In each case, the same foods were offered to a set of control children without any message. By a variety of measures, a positive message about the food undermined the cause: the children rated it as less tasty, planned on consuming less, and actually did consume less when they were given the chance to eat it. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

posted 8 days ago on ars technica

# Researchers learn about gas-giant cores by hammering diamond with lasers

posted 8 days ago on ars technica
The target chamber of the National Ignition Facility. Matt Swisher The discovery of so many exoplanets in recent years has raised many new questions, forcing us to reexamine some of our ideas. Scientists had extrapolated models of stellar system evolution from our own Solar System, assuming that others look very similar to our own. But extrapolation can only get us so far. Scientists never expected to find so many “hot Jupiters”—gas giants larger than Jupiter and orbiting very close to their star. We’re also having a hard time understanding the inner workings of exoplanets and stars with much greater mass than Earth. Scientists have managed to test some materials under extreme pressures and found that our conventional ideas about a material’s behavior may not apply. Certain exotic quantum mechanical models could apply in such extreme cases, but until recently, scientists have not been able to test those models’ predictions. The difficulty, of course, is that actually visiting the cores of gas giants to test our understandings is wildly impractical. The next best thing, then, is to recreate these massive pressures on Earth and study their effects on materials. As impossible a task as it may seem, scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) used its enormous lasers to do exactly that. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# Nadella’s “one operating system” ain’t new and won’t be one OS

posted 9 days ago on ars technica
While communication from Microsoft about its layoffs and reorganization lacks a certain amount of clarity, one statement made in its earnings call yesterday did appear to be straightforward: "We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes" said CEO Satya Nadella. The immediate reaction was twofold. From some parties, there were congratulatory noises, praising Nadella for this new strategy that moved away from the Ballmer-era multiple operating system. From others, there was glee that the "confusing" line-up of Windows, Windows RT, and Windows Phone would soon be gone and that in future users would no longer need to worry about what their devices were using. Some are even cheering the "fact" that this means that Windows RT will be killed off forever. That Nadella's remarks provoked headlines and column inches is ever so surprising, however, because what he said isn't new, isn't really being interpreted properly, and wasn't really his idea. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# Bitcoins.com domain auction cancelled after judge’s restraining order

posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Antana Heritage Auctions, the Texas company orchestrating the Bitcoins.com sale, pulled the auction listing on Wednesday afternoon, stating: "This lot has been withdrawn from this auction. Bids are no longer accepted and previous bids are cancelled." The move comes as the result of a federal judicial order issued on Tuesday that put an immediate halt to the sale of Bitcoins.com, the domain name owned by embattled Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles. "The lot is being held for now so we can get this sorted out one way or the other," Noah Fleisher, a Heritage Auctions spokesman, told Ars. "I haven't heard from [Karpeles] at all." Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# NASA to examine commercializing Mars communication relays

posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Today, NASA announced that it's issuing a Request for Information that seeks parties, either academic or commercial, who are willing to set up a communications relay orbiting Mars. Should the agency like the information it gets, it could extend its current fee-for-service approach well beyond Earth's orbit. Because of weight and power restrictions, the hardware that we've landed on Mars can't carry high-bandwidth communication devices that can reach Earth (it does, however, carry lower-bandwidth hardware that can establish a direct connection). Instead, missions like the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has its own science instruments, also carry communications hardware that lets them receive high volumes of data from the planet's surface and quickly send it back to Earth. MRO is the most recent hardware that serves this purpose, but it's already nearly a decade old; Odyssey, its fellow relay, is even older. Fortunately, the MAVEN mission, which arrives this year, will also have relay capabilities, as will the ESA's ExoMars orbiter, which should arrive in 2016. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# Researchers identify possible glitch in Antarctic ice measurements

posted 9 days ago on ars technica
NASA With all the attention given to every nuance of climate data, areas of research that would have never attracted much public interest sometimes find themselves in the spotlight. So it is with the process of measuring sea ice cover. People pay careful attention because it appears to be a leading indicator of climate change. In the Arctic, where the warming has been most intense, sea ice is retreating rapidly, with record lows having been set every few years over the past decades. But at the other pole, Antarctic sea ice has been steadily expanding, creating a bit of a conundrum for scientists. They've come up with a variety of explanations for why the two poles might be behaving differently but, in the mean time, people have latched on to the difference to question our understanding of climate change. Now, a paper has come out questioning whether the difference between the poles is as dramatic as it seemed. The reason for the potential difference? Measuring sea ice is remarkably hard. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# Amazon lawyers: We’ll take that fireTVnews.com site, thanks!

posted 9 days ago on ars technica

# Brokedown premise: Drone caught smuggling cell phones into Thai prison

posted 9 days ago on ars technica
The captured DJI Phantom drone and its cargo, held by Thai prison authorities. Saichon Srinuanchan , Bangkok Post The Bangkok Post reports that guards at the Khao Bin Prison in Thailand took possession of what appears to be a DJI Phantom drone laden with cell phones and accessories. The drone was snagged on a tree limb inside the prison compound. Taped to the drone were two Nokia cell phones, four SIM cards, a pair of Bluetooth devices, and headphones. Also attached to the aircraft was what appeared to be a system on a board—about the size of a Raspberry Pi computer. The gear was concealed in a plastic bottle. In addition to its illicit cargo, the quadcopter was equipped with a GoPro video camera and a Wi-Fi signal range extender to allow the drone to be remote-controlled from a greater distance, based on analysis of the photos published by the Post. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# Apple files patent for smartwatch

posted 9 days ago on ars technica
What time is it? According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, it's iTime! As the smartwatch market has grown with entries from Qualcomm, Samsung, and Google, Apple has remained remarkably mum on the concept, in spite of long-standing rumors hinting at a wristwatch in the works in Cupertino. On Sunday, iWatch's hopes grew further with the unveiling and approval of a new smartwatch patent filed by Apple in July, 2011. As reported by Wired UK, the US patent describes a "wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefor," and its description certainly resembles the features users have come to expect from recent smartwatches. In particular, the section about "information exchanges" between the watch and a user's phone describes a system of notifications and on-screen controls for everything from SMS to media playback (along with the naming of compatible Apple devices like iPhones and iPods). The patent (which never uses the term "iWatch") mentions features like gyroscopes, accelerometers, and vibrating elements, along with a variety of models, including one whose base can very clearly be removed from the wristwatch band, iPod Nano-style. This patent's unveiling comes nearly two years after Google's own "smartwatch including flip-up display" patent, but Apple beat Google to the filing punch by three months—and included a far wider range of designs and functionality (e.g. gyroscopes) to boot. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# Model drone finds elderly man, missing for three days, alive

posted 9 days ago on ars technica
It took just 20 minutes for a model drone to locate a missing elderly Wisconsin man, a feat that helicopters, search dogs, and volunteers couldn't accomplish in three days. Just don't tell that to the Federal Aviation Administration, whose regulatory wings are already flapping about model drones. This weekend's discovery of the 82-year-old man in an area of crops and woods comes amid a legal tussle between flight regulators and model drone operators—the latest of which coincidentally involves search-and-rescue missions. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

# Microsoft announces new Lumia 530, a cheap Windows Phone for the masses

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# FCC bid to boost broadband competition faces attack over “constitutionality”

posted 9 days ago on ars technica
The Federal Communications Commission will face a lawsuit if it tries to invalidate state laws that restrict the ability of cities and towns to offer Internet service, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler yesterday. Such a move would infringe on states' rights protected by the Constitution, the group claimed. Wheeler has said he intends to "preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband," relying on authority detailed in a court decision that overturned the FCC's net neutrality rules. These state laws make it difficult or impossible for municipalities to create their own broadband networks that compete against private Internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. The US House of Representatives has already approved a budget amendment that would prevent the FCC from invalidating these laws. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments