posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Nearly two years after the Icelandic Pirate Party won three seats in the island nation’s parliament in 2013, a new poll shows that the young party has the highest level of support of any party in the country. According to Visir.is, an Icelandic news site, the party’s support has reached 23.9 percent. If the Píratar can translate that level of current support into actual votes in the next election (currently scheduled for 2017), it could lead to a higher likelihood that the country would grant asylum for Edward Snowden, possibly granting him citizenship as well. The Pirates put forward such a bill (Google Translate) in parliament in 2013, but it has not advanced. Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who founded the party in 2012, previously told an assembled crowd in Berkeley, California, that she very much wants to help the National Security Agency whistleblower. She currently holds one of the Pirate Party’s three seats in the Icelandic parliament. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Android Auto is finally ready for consumers. It's been nine months since the announcement of Android Auto at Google I/O 2014, and today the app has hit Google Play. Android Auto distills the Android OS into an infotainment OS that puts supports maps, music, calls, and text into a car-friendly interface. Like Apple's CarPlay, the software runs on the phone and is beamed to the car's display where it "takes over" the touchscreen. Of course, getting this to work requires the help of car manufacturers, and compared to the smartphone industry, car OEMs move at a glacial pace. While there are lots of manufacturers lined up, no cars actually support Android Auto right now. However, supposedly a few existing 2015 models could get a firmware update that enables Android Auto casting. Left: The Android Auto app. Right: The developer menu. Ron Amadeo If you want Android Auto today, you'll need a Lollipop phone, the app, and an aftermarket head unit. Pioneer's AVIC-8100NEX, AVIC-7100NEX, and AVH-4100NEX seem to be the only compatible devices out there right now. They range from $700 to $1400 and require ripping out your current radio and replacing it. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Skinning Android is almost always a bad idea. it provides an inconsistent user experience from the rest of the Android ecosystem, it slows down updates, and it makes the whole update process more complicated. It's something HTC is apparently having to deal with today with the HTC One M7. The One M7 came in two versions, one is a the "normal" version, which came with HTC Sense (the company's Android skin), and the other is the Google Play Edition (GPE), which ran stock Android. Android 5.1 is out, and it's time to update! Guess which one is getting updated to 5.1, and which is getting abandoned on 5.0. @kennymaclean Only the GPE version of M7 will receive 5.1. Our target is early April. Thanks. — Mo Versi (@moversi) March 18, 2015 Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has the potential to revolutionize how we make things, enabling custom production of almost anything you could want. Researchers are looking into applications of 3D printing ranging from printing entire houses to artificial human organs. But 3D printing hasn’t fully caught on yet, in part due to the time-consuming nature of the process—it typically relies on building items up through a layer-by-layer approach that can take many hours. For additive manufacturing to become more generally useful, printing speeds need to increase by an order of magnitude. A team of researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill have developed a new 3D printing process that may be fast enough to change the tide for 3D printing. Their process allows for the continual printing of objects using a liquid interface in a single step, unlike the previous step-wise processes. To accomplish this, these scientists took advantage of a problem typically associated with 3D printing methods that relies on light to initiate polymerization (photo-polymerization): the ability to control oxygen levels. When present, oxygen reacts with the polymerizing chains, which significantly slows down the reaction. Oxygen must therefore be limited for the curing process, which hardens the product. In 3D printing, the material is typically printed in air and cured under a UV light; since oxygen is likely present, this process is slower than it could be. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Early yesterday morning, Microsoft's Terry Myerson surprised everyone—including, I think, Microsoft PR—by announcing that everyone would get a free upgrade to Windows 10, even users with pirated/non-genuine licenses. There was then a fairly long pause while Microsoft PR prepared a response. First, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed with ZDNet that, "the plan to allow free upgrades for non-genuine copies of Windows applies to all markets" worldwide, not just China. Then, early this morning—more than 24 hours after the original Reuters story went live—Microsoft PR sent out another statement. Here it is in full: The consumer free upgrade offer for Windows 10 applies to qualified new and existing devices running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1. Some editions are excluded from the consumer free upgrade—including Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to other Windows 10 enterprise offerings. We have always been committed to ensuring that customers have the best Windows experience possible. With Windows 10, although non-Genuine PCs may be able to upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license. Non-Genuine Windows is not published by Microsoft. It is not properly licensed, or supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner. If a device was considered non-genuine or mislicensed prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine or mislicensed after the upgrade. According to industry experts, use of pirated software, including Non-Genuine Windows, results in a higher risk of malware, fraud (identity theft, credit card theft, etc), public exposure of your personal information, and a higher risk for poor performance or feature malfunctions. That statement had one very confusing sentence: "If a device was considered non-genuine or mislicensed prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine or mislicensed after the upgrade." We reached out to Microsoft for clarification, to find out what it actually means to have a non-genuine copy of Windows 10. "We don’t have anything further to share outside of the statement at the moment." Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Several days ago, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he was going to "end range anxiety" with an over-the-air software update affecting all existing Tesla Model S vehicles. The Internet speculation machine exploded (with some people possibly believing that Musk was going to literally beam newer, bigger batteries into the cars), but we had to wait until this morning’s Tesla press conference to hear exactly what he meant. Musk took the (virtual) stage at 9am PDT to announce that in approximately 10 days, Tesla would be releasing its 6.2 Model S software update, which will include a drastic change to the car’s awareness and understanding of its own range. The new feature, called "Range Assurance," will remain running continually in the background and will actively communicate with both Tesla’s network of Supercharger charging stations and non-Tesla charging stations. Even when not actively navigating the car to a destination, the system will continually calculate the car’s remaining range and warn the driver when they begin to pass out of range of a charging station. Range Assurance Musk explained that the software will favor Supercharging stations (which can bypass the car’s on-board charging system and dump juice into a Model S’s battery pack much faster than even a high-power standard connector), and it will do its best to not only prevent a customer from ever passing out of range of a charging station but to also send users toward charging stations with the shortest wait. According to Musk, the Range Assurance feature polls the Tesla Supercharger network once every 30 seconds, keeping a near-realtime list of Supercharger status. This means that new charging locations are automatically integrated into the system as they’re added—and Musk said that Tesla will be adding more Superchargers in 2015 than in all its previous years. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
A bill outlawing the filming of police within a 25-foot radius landed in a Texas legislative committee late Wednesday, a measure that carries a maximum 180-day jail term and $2,000 fine. The proposed buffer would increase to 100 feet for individuals carrying firearms, according to the legislation proposed by Rep. Jason Villalba, a Dallas Republican whose measure was referred to the House Committee on Emerging Issues In Texas Law Enforcement. Maximum penalties for violating the gun restriction are a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Jason Villalba. BritAE Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
A sample of the microtransaction-driven crane gameplay in the Japan-only "Collectible Badge Center" on 3DS. When Nintendo announced it was partnering with mobile gaming giant DeNA to finally bring its characters to the mobile phone marketplace earlier this week, some were worried about the direction the partnership would take Nintendo's storied game design. DeNA's international success has come on top of a flood of microtransaction-heavy free-to-play mobile games, which often use heavy elements of chance to hook players into slot-machine style item chases. Nintendo hasn't ruled out that kind of model for its mobile games, but it says that other payment methods will also be considered for individual titles. In an interview with Time, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata noted that what he calls the "free-to-start" business model is popular on mobile phones, and it would "naturally be an option for us to consider." That said, "for each title, we will discuss with DeNA and decide the most appropriate payment method. So, specifically to your question, both [free-to-play and other business models] can be options, and if a new Nintendo-like invention comes of it, then all the better." Considering the issue further, Iwata said he didn't want to "choose payment methods that may hurt Nintendo’s brand image or our IP," and that it was important to have a business model "parents feel comfortable letting their children play with. Also, it’s even more important for us to consider how we can get as many people around the world as possible to play Nintendo smart device apps, rather than to consider which payment system will earn the most money." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
In general, California has taken two approaches to boosting the solar energy produced in the state. The first is large, utility-scale facilities, often located in the state's extensive desert areas. The second is more ad-hoc, as companies and private citizens are able to install panels on their buildings and facilities if they choose to. But what if the two approaches were merged, with massive deployment of solar on pretty much every bit of developed land in the state? According to a new analysis, the end result would dwarf the state's electricity needs—and probably leave enough to spare to handle its water needs through desalination. The authors of the paper, all based at Stanford, note that a bit over eight percent of the golden state has already been modified by humans. The authors designated these areas as "compatible" with solar development, although the analysis was a bit more complicated. Concentrated solar power was excluded from areas that are built up, leaving those using photovoltaics only. Over a third of the modified terrain is also urban open space, which could support concentrating solar but consists primarily of a combination of parks, private yards, and golf courses. Were it not left open, the open space could generate about 26,000 TeraWatt-hours annually. Low-intensity build areas could add another 14,000, while heavily developed regions would add another 3,000. Concentrated solar would provide lower total numbers, but they have the advantage of generating power through the evening demand surge that occurs as people return home from work. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Security mavens bracing for Thursday's scheduled disclosure of a high-severity vulnerability in the widely used OpenSSL crypto library need wait no longer. It's a bug that allows end users to crash servers running one version of the software by sending data that's relatively easy to duplicate. "If a client connects to an OpenSSL 1.0.2 server and renegotiates with an invalid signature algorithms extension, a NULL pointer dereference will occur," an advisory published Thursday morning stated. "This can be exploited in a DoS attack against the server." CVE-2015-0291, as the vulnerability is indexed, struck many people as anticlimactic, given Monday's advisory that a "high" severity bug would be announced. That triggered concerns of a critical bug along the lines of the highly critical Heartbleed vulnerability that attackers used to extract passwords, private keys, and other confidential data from servers used for banking, shopping, and e-mail. By comparison, Thursday's DoS bug can be used only to force a vulnerable server to reboot. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
ars.AD.queue.push(["xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:[], collapse: true}]);After I gushed about the impressive virtual reality experience offered in a hands-on demo of the HTC Vive (developed in conjunction with Valve) earlier this month, I commented that the only thing that could really sour me on the hardware's potential at this point was a big price tag, which remains unannounced. Now, an HTC executive is warning that consumers should be prepared for "a slightly higher price point" when the headset is released to consumers later this year. In an interview with trade publication MCV, HTC Connected Products Marketing Executive Director Jeff Gattis says the company wants "to deliver the most premium VR experience the world has seen." He goes on to insist that's not just marketing hyperbole, but a factual reflection that "this is at the high end" of the market. "Starting with the premium experience, even if it has a slightly higher price point, is the right thing to do from a strategic point of view," Gattis continues. "The price can always come down as the market grows. We know there is some pent-up demand there, so there’s not so much price sensitivity early on. But to get the broader consumer adoption we’re all hoping for, the industry will have to drive price down to make it more accessible. Whether we do that with Vive or other form factors and devices, we understand the importance of driving price down to achieve adoption." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
We have a weird relationship with politicians. Generally, we find them so despicable they couldn’t win a mother’s love—but we make exceptions for the ones that represent our district, of course. Even as we complain that they never actually say anything, we seem to hang on their every word—often just so we can be outraged by it. So why do they even bother speaking? Do they persuade us to adopt certain positions, or do they merely say what at least half of us want to hear? Persuasiveness seems like a prime attribute for a promising candidate, but there’s very little evidence to back up the idea that they actually manage to change our minds. Sure, we can do some polling to see how public opinion changes over time or try to examine changes in behavior in a laboratory setting, but it’s difficult to extract generalizable conclusions from either. So Ohio State’s William Minozzi and several colleagues convinced some members of the US Congress to play along with a real-life, randomized trial. Do politicians actually influence opinions and actions when they take part in small “town hall” events? The researchers were going to find out. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
At Baselworld in Switzerland, the world's largest luxury watch fair, TAG Heuer, Intel, and Google announced that they are working together on a "Swiss smartwatch." While this is clearly a move to take on Apple in the luxury smartwatch space, the TAG-Intel-Google watch won't look or feel like a smartwatch: "People will have the impression that they are wearing a normal watch," TAG Heuer's CEO told Reuters in an interview at Baselworld. The announcement from the three companies was very light on details—they haven't even shown us a rendering of what the watch might look like—but there have been enough leaks, and meaty quotes from the TAG Heuer CEO, that we can make a fairly solid prediction of the watch's appearance and functionality. TAG Heuer Carrera. The smarter version will apparently look and feel very similar. According to the leaks and quotes, TAG Heuer will release a "digital replica" of the Carrera, a fairly bulky sports watch. It will reportedly look and feel just like a normal, mechanical Carrera, but internally there'll be Intel hardware and Android Wear software that provide some smartwatch functionality. What isn't clear is the extent of the computerization: Will there still be a mechanical movement inside, or will it be all-digital with an LCD clock face? Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Late Tuesday afternoon, the family of Marvin Gaye asked a federal judge to block the sale and performance of “Blurred Lines,” the 2013 hit written by Pharrell Williams and co-performed by Robin Thicke. Last week, a Los Angeles jury awarded the Gaye family $7.4 million in damages and determined that Thicke and Williams had infringed on Gaye’s copyright for the 1977 hit “Got To Give It Up.” The Gaye family’s lawyers asked for a permanent injunction, but said they weren’t looking to eradicate new sales of the song entirely. (Too bad, in a way, because some of us would be happy if that particular earworm died an inglorious radio death.) Rather, they wanted the injunction as a way to begin negotiations over royalties, the Los Angeles Times reported. Thicke and Williams’ lawyers contend that the judge should not grant the Gaye family the requested injunction because the companies that recorded and distribute the song were not found liable for infringement in the jury’s verdict from last week. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
The 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 13-inch MacBook Air were once very different computers that served very different needs. One was bulkier but pretty fast and user-serviceable, while the other was thin-and-light to a fault, arriving with anemic low-power CPUs and GPUs, slow hard drives, and no easy means to upgrade. In the last two-to-three years, that gap has narrowed substantially. The Air has become more powerful and less compromised, while the Pro has slimmed down and dumped features like user-replaceable RAM and its Ethernet jack. Both use Thunderbolt 2. Both use modern dual-core CPUs with some of Intel’s better integrated GPUs. They’re even priced in the same ballpark. What was once an easy recommendation has gotten more difficult. Last year as part of our review process, we took a good long look at both laptops, picked the best and worst things about each, and made purchasing recommendations based on what you need in your 13-inch Mac laptop. We’ll post similar individual reviews soon to better consider how each computer stacks up compared to the wider PC market, but this piece serves a very specific purpose. Read 40 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
The Federal Communications Commission last week released the full text of its Open Internet order, just in time for a series of Congressional hearings called by Republicans eager to chastise the FCC. An FCC oversight meeting held this afternoon by the Senate Committee on Commerce began with committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) expressing his disappointment in the three Democratic members of the FCC. "Rather than exercising regulatory humility, the three majority commissioners chose to take the most radical, polarizing, and partisan path possible," Thune said. "Instead of working with me and my colleagues in the House and Senate on a bipartisan basis, to find a consensus, the three of you chose an option that I believe will only increase political, regulatory, and legal uncertainty, which will ultimately hurt average Internet users. Simply put, your actions jeopardize the open Internet that we are all seeking to protect." Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
A former Facebook technology partner, Chia Hong, is suing Facebook and a number of unnamed employees for gender and race discrimination. The case was filed this week in San Mateo County Superior Court (PDF), and it echoes a high-profile gender discrimination case currently underway in San Francisco. In that case, former Kleiner Perkins employee Ellen Pao is suing the venture capital firm for gender discrimination and retaliation. Hong is not just following in Pao’s path; she has also hired lawyers from the same law firm—Lawless and Lawless—to represent her. (Yes, that is the real name of the firm.) Therese Lawless, who has led much of the examination of witnesses during Pao’s case over the last few weeks, is an employment lawyer who has been practicing since the '80s. Her sister and firm partner, Barbara, is also listed as representing Hong. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
A screen from 1994's Tempest 2000... 6 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } Update: Minter has posted a letter dated June 2014, sent by Atari law firm Dorsey & Whitney LLP, laying out what it sees as the similarities is sees between Tempest and TxK. Original Story: Llamasoft developer Jeff Minter is currently embroiled in a heated legal discussion with Atari over the rights to TxK, a tube shooter released last year on the Vita that bears a striking resemblance to 1994 Atari Jaguar release Tempest 2000. The apparent similarities between Tempest 2000 and TxK are perhaps unsurprising, given that Minter single-handedly did the coding on both games, the former while working for Atari and the latter as an independent developer (credit for 1980's original Tempest, which was the inspiration for Tempest 2000, belongs to Atari's Dave Theurer). Minter even called TxK "an updated version [of Tempest 2000] on modern hardware" when announcing the Vita game back in 2013. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
NASA has announced a pair of unusual findings made by its MAVEN mission, which is meant to sample Mars' atmosphere in order to help us understand its evolution. But, by orbiting through the outer edges of the atmosphere, the mission has identified some unexpected features of the area above the red planet. The first, and easiest to understand, is the aurar. Dubbed the "Christmas Lights" because of their appearance in December of last year, the glow was in the ultraviolet range and spanned the entire northern hemisphere of Mars. The source of the energy was electrons accelerated out from the Sun, which were detected by another instrument on MAVEN. Because Mars lack a magnetic field, the electrons also made it deep into the atmosphere, producing a light show that was close to the surface relative to Earth's auroras. The dust, however, is not as easy to explain. It's been a constant, present since MAVEN first entered orbit, and ranges between 150 and 300km above the surface, with the density of particles increasing at lower altitudes. Much like the recent dust plume observed above the planet, it's not clear what could be lofting the particles from Mars' surface. "If the dust originates from the atmosphere, this suggests we are missing some fundamental process in the Martian atmosphere," said Laila Andersson of the University of Colorado. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
A federal appeals court on Wednesday revived a proposed class-action lawsuit against Microsoft that claims the Xbox 360 damages gaming discs, rendering them unplayable. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said a lower court had misconstrued the court's own precedent when it ruled that Xbox owners in the US could not collectively sue Microsoft for damages. ".... [A]lthough individual factors may affect the timing and extent of the disc scratching, they do not affect whether the Xboxes were sold with a defective disc system. Plaintiffs contend that (1) whether the Xbox is defectively designed and (2) whether such design defect breaches an express or an implied warranty are both issues capable of common proof. We agree," the San Francisco-based court ruled (PDF). Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Microsoft promised last week to deliver Windows 10 preview builds more regularly, and today it published the first new build in close to two months. Build 10041 should be available right now to preview users on the fast update track. The new features are broadly those we saw in leaks earlier this month: a prettier Start menu, some changes to virtual desktops, and a better (though still incomplete) interface for picking Wi-Fi networks. Strikingly, the new Project Spartan browser isn't in this build. From here on out, the plan is to offer at least one build a month and quite possibly two or more. Microsoft has learned that the people on the Windows Insider "fast" track are more willing to accept buggy releases than previously anticipated. This has led Microsoft to shake up its testing process and let it publish builds that are only a couple of working days old. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains, the Dealmaster is back with a ton of tech deals for your consideration. The featured item today is a Dell XPS 8700 desktop computer. It has an Intel Core i5-4460, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GT 720 GPU, and a 1TB hard drive for just $549.99—that's over $300 off the list price. We also have a Dell Ultrasharp 1200p IPS monitor with a $100 gift card for $810.98. Featured Dell XPS 8700 Intel Core i5-4460 Quad-Core Desktop with 8GB RAM and 1-Year Accidental Damage Warranty for $549.99 (list price $858 - use coupon code 4S79F2CJG$974M). Add $100 Dell Gift Card + Dell UltraSharp u2412m 1920x1200 IPS Monitor for $810.98 (use stacking coupon codes 4S79F2CJG$974M and 3H8J$V7Q8$M?F$). Laptops and tablets Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Scanning the gaming news headlines recently, I was surprised to see a few reports that Valve had begun offering refunds to European Union customers within 14 days of a digital game purchase on Steam. That would indeed be big news, as getting refunds or any resale value for a Steam purchase is usually near-impossible, aside from some one-off exceptions to policy. After sifting through the legalese, though, it seems that Valve's refund policy hasn't actually changed, despite reports to the contrary. The rumor of a new refund program for European Steam users seems to have started on reddit, where user punikun noted that the following language had been added to the Steam subscriber agreement: IF YOU ARE AN EU SUBSCRIBER, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO WITHDRAW FROM A PURCHASE TRANSACTION FOR DIGITAL CONTENT WITHOUT CHARGE AND WITHOUT GIVING ANY REASON FOR A DURATION OF FOURTEEN DAYS OR UNTIL VALVE’S PERFORMANCE OF ITS OBLIGATIONS HAS BEGUN WITH YOUR PRIOR EXPRESS CONSENT AND YOUR ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT YOU THEREBY LOSE YOUR RIGHT OF WITHDRAWAL, WHICHEVER HAPPENS SOONER. THEREFORE, YOU WILL BE INFORMED DURING THE CHECKOUT PROCESS WHEN OUR PERFORMANCE STARTS AND ASKED TO PROVIDE YOUR PRIOR EXPRESS CONSENT TO THE PURCHASE BEING FINAL. It's easy to read that "right to withdraw" bit at the beginning of that clause and jump to the conclusion that EU law is forcing Valve to adhere to a 14-day return window. Indeed, the EU's directive on consumer rights does generally establish a 14-day "right of withdrawal" for the sale of "distance goods" and the execution of some service contracts. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
The slow, trudging dinosaur that is the television industry took another shuffling step toward the modern era on Wednesday in the form of PlayStation Vue. Sony's new live TV-streaming service, announced in November, has now officially launched in three major American markets—New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia—with a three-tier subscription plan in each city. In short, paying as much as $69.99 per month will let users watch at least 82 network and cable channels over the Internet through their PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles, while downgrading to a $49.99 subscription will drop that station count to about 50 in each market. Unlike its current major competitor, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue has the upper hand in terms of major network content—meaning CBS, Fox, and NBC, along with many of their cable subsidiaries (MTV/Comedy Central, FX/Fox Sports, and Bravo/USA, respectively). The obvious missing piece of that TV-watching puzzle is the ABC family of stations, and Sling has those in the form of ESPN (and its myriad offshoots) and a few Disney channels. The only major overlap these two Internet-live-TV services share is the Turner family of stations, meaning TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and Boomerang. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
In one of the finest understatements of this very young century, some researchers have written that "The great distances that separate us from even the most nearby stars dictate that all measurements of the exoplanet must be made through remote sensing techniques for the foreseeable future." Considering we struggle to put the funding together to go anywhere else in this Solar System, that foreseeable future seems to be stretched out for a long time. But, if we're limited to remote sensing, then there's no excuse for not taking the time to think about what we should be looking for. When looking for life on Earth, we tend to look for green, since that's the color of chlorophyl, the molecule that provides most of the energy for life here. As these researchers point out, green plants are a relatively recent arrival on Earth, only showing up about 450 million years ago. For 3 billion years prior to that, life was microbial. And, while some microbial organisms get their energy through photosynthesis, a lot of others harvest light using different pigments or simply produce colored chemicals as an incidental byproduct of their metabolic activities. Microbes can range from a rich red to the dark purple of some salt-loving bacteria. So, if we're looking to directly image signs of life on other planets, then we should think more carefully about what it might look like. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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