posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Reviews for the console version of Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Knight have been overwhelmingly positive, but PC players aren't so happy. Users on reddit and Steam are reporting all manner of problems with the game, including stuttering, wildly variable frame rates, and crashes, to name but a few. There are also reports of memory leaks causing the game to spike to over 12GB of memory usage before crashing entirely. Steam users have bombed the game's profile page with negative reviews in response. While the performance issues affect both Nvidia and AMD users, including those with high-end cards like the GTX 980 running the latest "Game Ready" drivers, it appears that once again AMD users are suffering the most. Hours before the release of Arkham Knight, Rocksteady updated the game's minimum system requirements, noting that "there are some known issues with the performance of Batman: Arkham Knight for PC owners using AMD graphics cards," and that it is "working closely with AMD to rectify these issues as quickly as possible." Multiple users have reported the game dropping to below 5 FPS with AMD cards. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that AMD users have suffered from subpar performance compared to Nvidia users, with recent releases like the The Witcher 3 and Project Cars both evincing similar issues. Like The Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight incorporates several Nvidia GameWorks technologies, including Enhanced Rain, Interactive Fog and Smoke, and Interactive Paper Debris. However, unlike with The Witcher 3, those effects appear to be running poorly across both Nvidia and AMD cards. Users are also reporting that disabling GameWorks features does little to help with frame rates. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Despite reaching its official end of life over a year ago, Microsoft's Windows XP is still bringing the company some significant revenue—largely because Department of Defense and government customers can't seem to get rid of it. And the Navy is one of Microsoft's best custom-support customers. The US Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) has closed a $9.1 million contract extension with Microsoft that the agency originally announced in April to further extend custom support for the venerable Windows XP operating system, as well as the Office 2003 suite and Exchange 2003 e-mail. According to a Navy contracting announcement, "Across the United States Navy, approximately 100,000 workstations currently use these applications. Support for this software can no longer be obtained under existing agreements with Microsoft because the software has reached the end of maintenance period." The renewal, according to SPAWAR officials, will buy the Navy "time to migrate from its existing reliance on the expiring product versions to newer product versions approved for use in Ashore and Afloat networks, and will provide hotfixes to minimize risks while ensuring support and sustainability of deployed capabilities." Many of the systems are in shipboard administrative networks that have not been available for extended periods of maintenance; the Navy is also playing catch-up on its land-based network upgrades as the result of the long delays in the service's Next Generation Network (NGEN) contract—the follow-up to the outsourced Navy and Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI). Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Broadband providers are probably fielding some new complaints now that the Federal Communications Commission has begun accepting formal objections under its new net neutrality rules.And it seems they are responding quickly. Two customers, one of Comcast and one of Time Warner Cable, told Ars that the cable providers gave them price breaks last week shortly after they complained to the FCC about what they claim are unfair billing practices. These two complaints weren’t about net neutrality violations, but both customers we talked to seemed to be spurred into action by the FCC expanding its complaint system. Moreover, the FCC’s net neutrality order also reclassified broadband providers as common carriers, allowing for penalties if their billing practices are “unjust” or “unreasonable." The FCC has not said exactly what constitutes unjust or unreasonable pricing. Customers could already complain about billing before the net neutrality order took effect, but the FCC now has more power to make sure they're being treated fairly. And Internet providers have more reason to take the complaints seriously. Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
The British-made Malloy Hoverbike, which burst onto the scene last year as a Kickstarter project, is being picked up by the US Department of Defense. The DoD is looking at the hoverbike as a multiple-role transport craft: it can transport soldiers over difficult terrain, but it can also operate in drone mode, providing logistical or surveillance support. The Malloy Hoverbike, developed by Malloy Aeronautics (MA) in Berkshire, began its life as a bi-copter: a carbon fibre chassis with a motorbike engine in the middle, with two very large props at the front and back. If you squinted, it looked a bit like a motorbike or perhaps a Star Wars speeder bike. However, the bi-copter design was eventually dropped in favour of a conventional quadcopter design because "with current technology we could not design a bi-copter cheap enough for safe and competitive sales." The current version of the Malloy Hoverbike is essentially a giant, sit-on quadcopter. The only real difference is that its rotors are off-set so that they overlap, which reduces both the width of the craft and the weight. The petrol engine is gone, presumably in favour of electric motors and lithium-ion batteries (MA hasn't revealed the exact specs, but it's still very much in the prototype stage anyway). The P2 Hoverbike seen below is apparently capable of lifting 100 kilos (220 pounds). Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Legend has it that Dostoevsky was paid by the word and Dickens was paid by installments, leading to great tomes heavy on description, or chapters that followed familiar formulas. Now, Amazon's Kindle's Direct Publishing platform may change the landscape of modern writing, at least for e-books published through the company. Recently, Amazon announced that starting July 1, it would pay authors per page read, rather than by the number of copies borrowed from Amazon. The Kindle Direct Publishing platform lets authors self-publish and set prices for their works. When a self-published book is rented through the Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library programs, Amazon traditionally paid authors out of a special fund for each download (or "borrow"), although readers are allowed to borrow the title for free. Now, although authors will still be paid out of that same fund, the amount they're paid will change to favor authors who can get readers to keep turning pages. In this new scheme, Amazon detailed, an author of a 200-page book that 100 people only read halfway through would be paid as much as the author of a 100-page book that 100 readers read all of. But if that 200-page book author can get readers to finish the whole book, they will make twice as much as the author of the 100-page book. The pool of cash that Amazon pays authors out of changes monthly. The Atlantic notes that this month, the fund is $3 million. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
A Missouri daughter has waived extradition from Wisconsin and will face accusations that she conspired to murder her mother at their Springfield home—a bloody knifing she boasted about on Facebook and a crime that has unraveled a story with all the makings of a bizarre soap opera plot. If it weren't for daughter Gypsy Blancharde's posts on Facebook, she would likely be seen as a missing wheelchair-bound cancer patient who survived Hurricane Katrina and who has become a victim of foul play herself. Instead, the daughter—who can actually walk and was believed to have had leukemia and muscular dystrophy—faces murder charges alleging that she and her secret 26-year-old boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, killed her mother Clauddinnea "Dee Dee." The mother was found slashed to death the day of the June 14 postings on Facebook. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
On Friday, Microsoft appeared to describe a way to get Windows 10 at no cost that would apply to everyone. While the company has been clear that Windows 7 and 8 users would be able to upgrade to Windows 10 at no cost for one year after Windows 10's July 29 release, the Friday blog post seemed to create a way that everyone else could get an activated, genuine copy of the software for free, too. Over the weekend, the company backed away from this idea, altering the wording of its post to remove the semblance of an official path to free Windows 10. Today, the company has made a third update that spells out the situation more clearly than it has done in the past. First, it says that Windows 10, both the final release and the preview releases, should only be used on "Genuine Windows devices." Installed it into a virtual machine to test? It's probably not properly licensed. Stuck it on an old Windows Vista machine you had lying around? We don't know. Probably not licensed, because Windows Vista isn't eligible for the free Windows 10 upgrade license offer. Will anyone notice or care? No. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Adobe has announced "Photoshop Design Space," a new interface for Photoshop geared toward professional app and Web designers. The company calls the new interface "a companion experience" to the normal Photoshop UI, which is a streamlined interface consisting of the most-needed tools for app and Web design. The most interesting thing, though? Adobe designed this new interface in HTML5, and it's open source. On the Design Space page, Adobe describes its reasoning: "Built with HTML5, Design Space enables our team to rapidly prototype, test, and iterate, while still remaining deeply integrated with the speed and reliability of Photoshop." Adobe maintains a GitHub page for the project where anyone can fork the Photoshop interface and make their own. Design Space features art boards with presets for the most common screen sizes, with sizes like "iPhone 6," "Android 1080p," and "Microsoft Surface 3." Selection is much easier; just double-clicking on an item on the canvas will drill down into the layers. Double-clicking on text will switch to the text tool, and double-clicking on a path will switch to the path tool. Two items can be selected and have their positions swapped with a button press, so it's easy to quickly rearrange a UI mockup. Text input for attributes is smarter, too. Color values can take RGB, Hex, or CSS-defined colors, and all the numeric fields can understand math operators. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
In an opinion (PDF) that emphasizes the importance of not casually overruling precedent, the US Supreme Court has voted 6-3 not to allow patent royalties to be extended past the patent's expiration date. Today's ruling in Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises involves an inventor who created a Spider-Man-like toy "for shooting string foam" in 1990, for which he acquired US Patent No. 5,072,856. Following a lawsuit, Stephen Kimble struck a deal with Marvel to be paid $516,000 plus a three-percent royalty of any sales of the "Web Blaster" toy. The deal didn't specify an end date. Kimble tried to get the high court to overturn a controversial 1964 case called Brulotte v. Thys Co., which bars any payments of royalties past a patent expiration date. His lawyers called Brulotte the "product of a bygone era" and "the most widely criticized of this Court's intellectual property" rulings. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Ars goes indie-crazy at E3. Video by Jennifer Hahn (video link) LOS ANGELES—The past few years of the Electronic Entertainment Expo have seen a surge in small-fry and indie game projects peppering the otherwise overblown, super-sized show floor. Major companies like Sony and Microsoft have begun adding indie kiosks to their giant displays, and next to those are indie-specific showcases that seem to only up the weirdness ante. To wit: the Indiecade Festival has been running an E3 booth for some time, while the Media Indie Exchange party takes a more informal, rooftop approach to helping gaming fans and creators meet up and play new, weird stuff. We hit both of those events with Ars' rockin' videographer Jennifer Hahn in tow, and we found no shortage of compelling, weird games. Click above to see footage of the following games, which we're linking here in case you want to know more: In Tune, GNOG, Wattam, Maquisard, Royals, Sunset, Tribal and Error, Curiouser and Curiouser, Velocibox, Butt Sniffin' Pugs, Typoman, and Beyond Eyes. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Once upon a time, I worked at a research institute that was, for the most part, devoted to nuclear fusion. Although I was never involved myself, two things impressed me about the research. The first was the pure difficulty facing researchers: there are material, plasma physics, and control system issues that are enormously challenging. And, yet, progress is made—I am now, and will forever be, impressed by the achievements that I saw during my short stay among the fusion researchers. On the other hand, I was also impressed (and not in a good way) by how locked in certain decisions were. This is a natural consequence of doing science that has an enormous infrastructure—once a facility is built, some decisions simply cannot be unmade. These constraints, understandable as they are, make me fear for the eventual success of tokamak fusion. I would rather researchers were given more money so that they had more flexibility in terms of repurposing facilities to try new avenues of research. Given these thoughts, you would think that I would be enthusiastic about alternative fusion schemes. Yet, because I am vaguely aware of the challenges, and how robustly they are being addressed, I tend to greet alternative fusion schemes with some skepticism. So, it is with some interest and a bit of trepidation that I started examining new research on the Polywell fusion concept, where a group claims to have achieved grand new things in terms of plasma confinement. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
The Flux Capacitor gets its first track workout. There's an unlikely-looking contender for the title of Europe's fastest street-legal electric vehicle (EV). It started life as an Enfield 8000, a small electric city car built in the mid-1970s. Now it's the Flux Capacitor, the latest (and orange-ist) automotive project from Johnny Smith, a UK car journalist probably best known to American readers from his BBC America show. The Enfield 8000 was commissioned by a Greek tycoon after the oil shock in 1973, and it was designed by John Ackroyd, who was later responsible for the 1982 "Thrust 2" land speed record car. Fewer than 120 Enfields were built off the southern coast of England on the Isle of Wight. They were competent EVs for their time, with all the provisos that statement brings. Eight 12V batteries fed an 8 hp (6 kW) motor, giving the car a top speed of 40 mph (64 km/h) and a range between 35-55 miles (56-89 km). Smith decided to give an Enfield 8000 a new life as a drag racer, with thoroughly up-to-date internals. A pair of electric motors provide 500 hp (373 kW) and 1,000 ft lb (1356 Nm), fed by a custom Li-ion battery. The suspension and brakes have been suitably upgraded, as has the top speed (120 mph/193 km/h). Smith's goal is a quarter-mile time under 12 seconds. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
The Supreme Court gave a big boost to privacy Monday when it ruled that hotels and motels could refuse law enforcement demands to search their registries without a subpoena or warrant. The justices were reviewing a challenge to a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hotels to provide information to law enforcement—including guests' credit card number, home address, driver's license details, and vehicle license number—at a moment's notice. Similar ordinances exist in about a hundred other cities stretching from Atlanta to Seattle. Los Angeles claimed the ordinance (PDF) was needed to battle gambling, prostitution, and even terrorism, and that guests would be less likely to use hotels and motels for illegal purposes if they knew police could access their information at will. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the 5-4 majority, ruled (PDF) that the Los Angeles ordinance violated the Fourth Amendment and is an illegal "pretext to harass hotel operators and their guests." Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Documents from the National Security Agency and the United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reveal that the two agencies—and GCHQ in particular—targeted antivirus software developers in an attempt to subvert their tools to assure success in computer network exploitation attacks on intelligence targets. Chief among their targets was Kaspersky Labs, the Russian antivirus software company, according to a report by The Intercept's Andrew Fishman and First Look Media Director of Security Morgan Marquis-Boire. Kaspersky has had a high profile in combatting state-sponsored malware and was central in the exposure of a secret NSA-backed hacking group that had been in operation for 14 years. More recently, it was revealed that Kaspersky had come under direct attack recently from an updated version of the Duqu malware—possibly launched by an Israeli-sponsored hacking group. The same malware was found on the networks of locations hosting negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. But the latest Snowden documents show that both the NSA and GCHQ waged a somewhat more subversive battle against Kaspersky—both by attempting to reverse-engineer the company's antivirus software and leveraging its intelligence-collection operations for their own benefit. Kaspersky was not the only target, but the company was the one most prominently mentioned in the Snowden documents released today by The Intercept. GCHQ officials mentioned Kaspersky by name in a warrant extension request "in respect of activities which involve the modification of commercial software" in June 2008, requesting authorization to reverse engineer Kaspersky's and other companies' software products to exploit them for intelligence purposes. (The original warrant had been in place since at least January of 2008.) Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
A privacy activist group has filed a formal legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asking federal authorities to halt Uber’s pending “unfair and deceptive data collection practices.” In its 23-page complaint filed on Monday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center notes that Uber’s new User Privacy Statement—which takes effect July 15, 2015—says the company will try to collect location data even when the app is running in the background. The organization has been successful in filing similar complaints against the likes of Google and Facebook, resulting in a negotiated settlement with those companies. That new policy states: Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Crows can do some things we can readily recognize as “intelligent”—like using tools, solving puzzles, and even recognizing human faces. But it has been a long time since a common ancestor of birds and humans walked the Earth, and the two groups’ brains have ended up with significant structural differences. The part of the brain that we (and other primates) use to handle numbers is one of those structures. Still, crows are no slouches at the whole “one, two, or three?” thing, so how do their brains do it? To find out, University of Tübingen researchers Helen Ditz and Andreas Nieder outfitted a couple carrion crows with surgically implanted neuron sensors. Those crows had been trained to play a little number-based matching game to win little snacks. On a little screen, the crows would be shown a number of dark dots (between one and five) inside a gray circle. After about a second, the screen would go blank for a second, and then a second image would be shown. If the same number of dots was shown again, the crows would tap the screen and get a treat. The crows weren’t shown a consistent symbol for each number, like the ones on a domino. The diameter of each dot varied randomly, as did their placement within the gray circle. (Although specific shapes, like a line of dots, was sometimes used.) So the birds really did have to recognize the number of dots in each image. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Normally, Android Developer Previews have been for Nexus devices only—Google develops Android, so it makes sense that its devices run the developer builds. Sony apparently feels left out, though, and has provided binaries and instructions for taking the new Android Open Source Project (AOSP) Android M Developer Preview code and turning it into something that will run on certain Xperia devices. Through Sony's "Open Device" program, the Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Z2, Z2 Tablet, Z1, Z1 Compact, E3, M2, T2 Ultra, and T3 are all supported. Google launched the Android M Developer Preview late last month and has promised several updates between now and the eventual consumer launch. Android M adds user-selectable permissions controls, a fingerprint API, better standby battery usage, and a ton of tweaks. There are even a few experimental features like a multiwindow mode, and Google plans to use the new Assistant API to build a contextual layer called "Google Now on Tap" into the entire OS. While many users end up running the Android Developer Previews for fun, Sony's implementation sounds like it's for advanced users only. The instructions involve downloading AOSP to your computer, downloading additional files from Sony's repo, downloading the proprietary binary files from Sony, and then compiling everything into a build for your Xperia device. The lives of Nexus users are a lot easier—Google posts ready-to-flash packages on the Nexus System Image page. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Around 1400 passengers at Warsaw's Chopin (Okecie) airport in Poland were grounded on Sunday after hackers allegedly attacked the computer system used to issue flight plans to the airplanes. The source of the attack isn't yet known. The alleged hack targeted LOT, the state-owned flag-carrying Polish airline. Reuters is reporting that the attack took place on Sunday afternoon, and was fixed about five hours later. 10 LOT flights were cancelled and about a dozen more were delayed, according to a LOT spokesman. The spokesman didn't provide any details of what had actually occurred, though he did give away this one tantalising morsel: "We're using state-of-the-art computer systems, so this could potentially be a threat to others in the industry." The spokesman said that flights that were already in the air were not affected by the hack and could land normally. Also, the hack didn't affect the airport itself; it was just the LOT computers. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Apple has decided to pay musicians right from the launch of its new music streaming service, a move that will cost the company some money because it won't be charging customers during a free trial period that will last three months. Apple hadn't planned to make any payments until after the free trial period ended, but it changed course upon hearing criticism from singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. "When I woke up this morning and saw what Taylor had written, it really solidified that we needed to make a change. And so that's why we decide[d] we will now pay artists during the trial period," Apple Senior VP Eddy Cue told The Hollywood Reporter last night. "A lot of artists" expressed the same concern, he said. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
A controversial bill to allow websites to be censored has been passed by both houses of the Australian parliament. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 allows companies to go to a Federal Court judge to get overseas sites blocked if their "primary purpose" is facilitating copyright infringement. Dr Matthew Rimmer, an associate professor at the Australian National University College of Law, points out that there is a lack of definitions within the bill: "What is 'primary purpose'? There's no definition. What is 'facilitation'? Again, there's no definition." That's dangerous, he believes, because it could lead to "collateral damage," whereby sites that don't intend to hosting infringing material are blocked because a court might rule they were covered anyway. Moreover, Rimmer told The Sydney Morning Herald that controversial material of the kind released by WikiLeaks is often under copyright, which means that the new law could be used to censor information that was embarrassing, but in the public interest. The bill passed easily in both houses thanks to bipartisan support from the Liberal and Labor parties: only the Australian Greens put up any fight against it. Bernard Keane explains in an article on Crikey that the main argument for the new law—that it would save Australian jobs—is completely bogus. Claims that film piracy was costing 6100 jobs every year don't stand up to scrutiny: "If piracy were going to destroy 6000 jobs in the arts sector every year, why is employment in the specific sub-sector that according to the copyright industry is the one directly affected by piracy now 31,000, compared to 24,000 in 2011?" Keane asks. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Government officials have been vague in their testimony about the data breaches—there was apparently more than one—at the Office of Personnel Management. But on Thursday, officials from OPM, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of the Interior revealed new information that indicates at least two separate systems were compromised by attackers within OPM's and Interior's networks. The first was the Electronic Official Personnel Folder (eOPF) system, an entity hosted for OPM at the Department of the Interior's shared service data center. The second was the central database behind EPIC, the suite of software used by OPM's Federal Investigative Service in order to collect data for government employee and contractor background investigations. OPM has not yet revealed the full extent of the data exposed by the attack, but initial actions by the agency in response to the breaches indicate information g as many as 3.2 million federal employees (both current federal employees and retirees) was exposed. However, new estimates in light of this week's revelations have soared, estimating as many as 14 million people in and outside government will be affected by the breach—including uniformed military and intelligence personnel. It is, essentially, the biggest "doxxing" in history. And if true, personal details from nearly everyone who works for the government in some capacity may now be in the hands of a foreign government. This fallout is the culmination of years of issues such as reliance on outdated software and contracting large swaths of security work elsewhere (including China). The OPM breaches themselves are cause for major concerns, but there are signs that these are not isolated incidents. "We see supporting evidence that these attacks are related to the group that launched the attack on Anthem [the large health insurer breached earlier this year]," said Tom Parker, chief technology officer of the information security company FusionX. "And there was a breach at United Airlines that's potentially correlated as well." When pulled together into an analytical database, the information could essentially become a LinkedIn for spies, providing a foreign intelligence organization with a way to find individuals with the right job titles, the right connections, and traits that might make them more susceptible to recruitment or compromise. Read 46 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
On Friday, Microsoft described a way for anyone to get Windows 10 for free: activated, genuine, and updated forever. We wrote at the time that we expected the company to do a volte-face and back away from this promise. Lo and behold, it has come to pass. Since Friday, the blog post describing the changes to the Windows Insider preview program has been silently updated. Previously it said that signed up members of the Insider Program running a preview version would "receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated." Now it says only that they will "receive the Windows 10 final release build." The activation wording has been removed. The company has also added a "clarifying" sentence: "It's important to note that only people running Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can upgrade to Windows 10 as part of the free upgrade offer." This is in contrast to what the company said on Friday, when Microsoft's Gabe Aul confirmed that upgraded preview copies would be Genuine. So what does this all mean? The main thing it means is that we're not expecting clear communication from Microsoft about licensing any time soon. We don't imagine that there will be any technical difference: we expect that as previously described, Windows 10 installed via the preview will activate and show as genuine. It should be fully functional (no "non-genuine" watermark on the desktop or anything like that), and essentially indistinguishable from any other Windows 10 installation. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift criticized Apple today for launching its music streaming service with a three-month free trial period in which musicians will not be paid for their work. "We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation," Swift wrote in a blog post titled, "To Apple, love Taylor." To Apple, Love Taylor http://t.co/GN9jiRkqlj — Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 21, 2015 Swift, 25, is one of the most popular and financially successful musicians in the world. She is hoping that her influence will help new musicians who are struggling to make money. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Sequencing genetic material from the blood of 179 Ebola patient blood samples has provided insights into the epidemiological and evolutionary course of the current Ebola epidemic. The analysis confirms the path that different viral lineages took through the human populations of West Africa. These findings are important because they can be used in conjunction with epidemiological data to retrospectively test the effectiveness of Ebola control measures. For this study, viral genomes were sequenced from blood samples of Ebola infected patients. Each sample was linked to the following data: patient location, sample collection date, disease onset, and disease outcome. The median collection date was four days after the onset of symptoms. The viral gene sequence was derived from RNA sequencing of patient samples (Ebola is an RNA virus). Phylogenetic analysis, investigating the evolution of viral gene sequences, showed the dynamic nature of the Ebola epidemic and the corresponding molecular changes in viral genome. The analysis included 179 previously unsequenced Ebola genomes from various locations in West Africa, and an additional group of previously sequenced genomes, 78 from Sierra Leone, 3 from Guinea, and 2 from Mali. During this analysis, several distinct genetic lineages of the virus were identified. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
For the last few years now, non-tech-oriented friends and family occasionally ask me: "So what do you think of Bitcoin?" My answer is nearly always the same: "It’s intellectually interesting, but not really practical." Yes, the blockchain is a neat idea. But unless you’re regularly buying stuff on Silk Road copycats, or if you live in a country with currency controls, or if you’re a hardcore libertarian, I’ve yet to hear a good reason why Bitcoin makes practical sense for most people in everyday life. Put another way: it doesn’t yet have a clear killer app. Will Bitcoin ever reach that level? I don't know. But I do know that today there’s a lot of very smart and very rich people who seem to think so. A few lines towards the end of Nathaniel Popper’s new book Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money cogently articulates this sentiment. Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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