posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Warner Bros. has pulled the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight from sale due to "performance issues." While no date was given for when the game might be put back on sale, the publisher is promising to address the wide range of performance issues players are experiencing. Those who have already purchased the game can request a refund from Steam, or from the retail location where the game was purchased. Earlier this week, users across Steam and Reddit began reporting serious issues with the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight, including stuttering, wildly variable frame rates, and crashes. The problems are so bad that even those with high-end graphics cards like the GTX Titan X and GTX 980 Ti (myself included), are unable to run the game at a steady 60 FPS. Some AMD users are reporting frame rates in the single digits. Arkham Knight's removal from sale follows a less-than-helpful post from Warner Bros. on Tuesday. While the company did acknowledge the game’s performance issues in the post, it simply re-iterated the recommended settings for certain hardware, and suggested that players do not tamper with .ini files in order to remove the baffling 30 FPS cap. Suffice it to say, players were not pleased with Warner's suggestions. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Lexus' hoverboard in action. (video link) The Back to the Future trilogy is an integral part of geek canon, and we're now less than four months away from the date that Marty McFly traveled to in the second installment. That film offered us an interesting look at a future that in many ways is far beyond our own, while simultaneously missing things like smartphones and the Internet. But in the same way that Motorola designers looked to Star Trek's communicators when making cell phones, others are trying to realize some of the other cool stuff we saw in Back to the Future 2. Nike is working on real-life Air Mags with self-lacing technology (finally!), and now Lexus has revealed it's built a hoverboard. Yes, you read that correctly. A hoverboard. The hoverboard, hovering. Lexus "It’s the perfect example of the amazing things that can be achieved when you combine technology, design and imagination,” said Mark Templin, a Lexus vice president. The hoverboard works on the same principle as a maglev train, with permanent magnets in the board, which repel liquid nitrogen-cooled superconducting magnets, causing the board to float. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Don't let the cutesy visuals deceive you: Yoshi's Woolly World is as challenging a platformer as anything to have come from Nintendo. This is a game that unashamedly plays on nostalgia, almost tricking you into thinking that maybe, just maybe, there's not a lot new to see or do within its delightfully bright and fluffy world. And sure, some occasionally obtuse level design and frustrating checkpoints mean that it doesn't quite reach the glorious heights of its genre-defining forebears. But even with its problems, Yoshi's Woolly World is so cute, and so mechanically refined—in that way only Nintendo platformers can be—that it's so very hard not to be taken in by its charms. And hey, who wouldn't be charmed by a small green dinosaur that squeaks like a puppy and eats and poops balls of wool? Yes, Yoshi's Woolly World is what the kids call "totes adorbs," a striking mass of billowing fabrics and fluffy wool that's been stitched together to create a bright and colourful world. This aesthetic isn't new to Nintendo, debuting in the Wii platformer Kirby's Epic Yarn, but here it's been refined, the HD power of the Wii U rendering each intricate thread with startling clarity. It's an absolute joy to look at, and the Yoshis themselves (yes, there's more than one of them) are unbearably cute, leaping around the screen with a yelp and a flutter of their tiny woolly legs. But there is more to the game than just gorgeous graphics, even if that's the initial draw. Woolly World is your typical Nintendo platformer fare, a mass of puzzles, platforming challenges, and hidden collectibles strewn across some neatly designed levels. There's even something of a story too, albeit—in that classic Nintendo way—a paper-thin one. Craft Island, home to the woolly Yoshis, finds itself under attack by the evil series villain Kamek, who turns the Yoshis into bundles of wool. Unfortunately for Kamek, two of them escape, and quickly set about to unravel his evil plans. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Ford doesn’t think everyone needs to own a Ford, but it still wants non-car-owners to drive them. The company said this week that it will be testing a car-sharing pilot program to learn about how willing Ford owners are to share their vehicles. As part of the program, people who buy their cars through the company’s credit arm, Ford Credit, will be invited to offset their monthly payments by allowing drivers to rent their cars by the hour. The company also launched an in-house car-sharing program in London. The pilot program in the US will take place through Getaround—an existing mobile platform that lets users list their cars and rent them out to pre-screened drivers. Getaround already operates in California in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, as well as Portland, Oregon; and Washington, DC. Ford’s pilot program, called “Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing," will also take the program to Chicago, where Getaround has yet to launch, and to London through a car-sharing service called easyCar Club. Ford will reach out to 14,000 US car owners who financed their Fords on credit, asking they if they’d like to participate in the program. It will do the same for 12,000 such customers in London. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Google has removed an extension from Chromium, the open source sibling to the Chrome browser, after accusations that the extension was installed surreptitiously and subsequently eavesdropped on Chromium users. The issue first came to light in late May when a bug was filed in the Debian bug tracker. Chromium version 43 was seen downloading a binary extension from Google, and there was neither any ability to prevent this download, nor any source code available for the extension. The extension, called "Chrome Hotword," was found to be responsible for providing the browser's "OK, Google" functionality. Although off by default, both Chrome and Chromium, when set to use Google as their default search engine, can permanently listen to the microphone and respond instantly to voice queries, with "OK Google" used as the trigger keyword. Concern about the nature and purpose of the extension was compounded by the way the browser did and didn't disclose the extension's existence. The list of extensions visible at chrome://extensions/ doesn't include Hotword. Conversely, Hotword's own status page, chrome://voicesearch/ said that by default the extension was enabled and had access to the microphone. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a California man who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison for firing a laser at two helicopters did not deserve that sentence. After hearing oral arguments earlier this month, the court reversed the lower court’s decision in his conviction of one of the counts, and sent the case back for re-sentencing on the remaining one. In this case, known as United States v. Rodriguez, the defendant was found guilty of 18 U.S.C. § 39A, a law specifically dealing with laser pointers, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. But the court overturned the conviction of 18 U.S.C. § 32, a law set up to punish those who attempt to destroy aircraft or aircraft facilities. Attorneys believe that this was the highest such sentence ever issued for perpetrating a laser strike. By comparison, a man in New Zealand recently received 12 months of supervision and no prison time for nearly the same offense. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
With the total number of people affected by the data breach at the Office of Personnel Management now estimated to be as many as 18 million, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta has mounted a public relations counter-attack, defending the agency's efforts to improve security during her tenure and crediting those efforts with finding the malware at the heart of the breach in the first place. But the news of the exposure has caused a wave of fear and distrust among federal employees—with some who work in the intelligence community now concerned for their families' safety. Archuleta defended her tenure before a Senate hearing on June 23. "I'm as angry as you are that this is happening," she said in a message to federal employees and retirees during her testimony. "I am dedicated to ensuring that OPM does everything in its power to protect the federal workforce, and to ensure that our systems will have the best cyber security posture the government can provide.” And she insisted that no one at OPM was to blame for the breaches, saying, "If there is anyone to blame, it is the perpetrators." Today, OPM e-mailed an eight-page document outlining OPM's "Actions to Strengthen Cybersecurity and Protect Critical IT Systems" to members of the media. In the document, OPM officials asserted, "Upon Director Archuleta’s arrival, OPM engaged in an end-to-end review of its IT systems and processes. Based on that review, the agency developed a Strategic Plan for Information Technology to guide its efforts to protect its legacy systems to the maximum extent possible as it replaced them with more modern and secure systems. This plan laid out a multi-phase strategy to bolster security through realignment of professional staff, adherence to relevant laws, policies and best practices, and investments in modern tools." Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Last week, we wrote about a wireless Internet service provider called Webpass that sells 500Mbps upload and download speeds for just $55 a month. That service is only available for businesses and multi-unit residential buildings in big cities because it wouldn’t be financially feasible to bring it out to the suburbs and single-family homes. But there’s another wireless Internet service provider that is bringing pretty fast Internet—100Mbps upload and download for $60 a month—to single-family homes. The company, Vivint, makes home security and automation technology as well as rooftop solar panels, but it expanded into broadband after customers practically begged for it. Read 36 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
USA Network Rami Malek (L) and Christian Slater co-star in Mr. Robot. 4 more images in gallery In the pilot episode of new USA Network series Mr. Robot, debuting today, its lead character sits in a court-ordered therapy session. He pauses to answer the question he's just been asked: "What is it about society that disappoints you so much?" Elliot's response sounds like a treatise from an issue of Adbusters, leading off with a condemnation of Steve Jobs—"we knew he made billions off the backs of children"—and then calling out "counterfeit" cultural icons like Bill Cosby, Lance Armstrong, and Tom Brady. The character, played by 34-year-old actor Rami Malek, mocks social media "faking as intimacy," and he condemns America's obsessions with prescription pills and mass commercialism: "Maybe it's that we voted for [all of] this—not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. We want to be sedated, because it's painful not to pretend. Fuck society." Mr. Robot hinges on Elliot's desire to call out, and destroy, the apparent chokehold that large corporations have on American life (who knows how USA Network is selling any advertising for this series), and he uses social-media paranoia and computer hacking as his platform. That's an intriguing and unique entry point, especially for a cable network drama—you know, check out our apparently legitimate hacker as a series hero, one who furiously types server commands into a terminal window to get stuff done. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
If you've been following the science news here for the past few years, you will have witnessed a field being entirely revolutionized by new approaches. It may not be apparent from any individual article, but the history of all of humanity—how it arose in Africa and spread throughout the world—has been completely rewritten. The key change? Our ability to sequence genomes, ancient and modern. In the Americas, the Clovis people and Kennewick man have yielded their secrets. In Europe and Asia, we've found evidence that Neanderthals contributed genes to modern humans and found that a second group of pre-modern humans (the Denisovans) shared the continent with both of them. There have even been hints that Australia's humans weren't as isolated as we've thought. Migrations, matings, and complicated histories abound in humanity's story, but it's hard to get a clear sense of the big picture of our collective past from scattered news stories. If it's a topic that interests you, though, you're in luck: PBS is tackling it in a series of programs called "First Peoples," with the first episode airing tonight. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
A Virginia man whose doctors' discussion during his colonoscopy was recorded on his smartphone was shocked to discover that they had insulted him throughout his examination. The vicious words led to a lawsuit, and last week it resulted in a $500,000 verdict for medical malpractice and defamation against his anesthesiologist, Tiffany Ingham. Ingham joked with an assistant about avoiding the patient after the procedure was done. "After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op, I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit," she told him after he went under anesthesia. She also said she would place a diagnosis of hemorrhoids on the patient's chart, even though he didn't have the condition. That false diagnosis was not contradicted by the gastroenterologist who was performing the colonoscopy, Soloman Shah. A report about the lawsuit (including audio from the recording) published in today's Washington Post doesn't name the patient, who is identified only as "D.B." in court papers. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
The first reviews for AMD's top-of-the-line Radeon R9 Fury X—which sports the first iteration of stacked High Bandwidth Memory (HMB) and a huge 8.9-billion-transistor Fiji GPU—have landed, showing performance almost as good as the identically priced Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti. While that not might be the total landslide AMD fans might have been hoping for, the Fury X is the first time in a long time that AMD has been competitive with Nvidia at the high-end: not just in terms of price, but performance as well. Naturally, there are some caveats to the Fury X's performance, the biggest being that at 1080p resolution it's easily beaten out by the GTX 980 Ti, and in some cases even the GTX 980. That's not too surprising given the Fury X's focus on memory bandwidth, which comes into play when larger textures are being shuffled in and out of memory. That said, it's unlikely anyone buying a £550/$650 graphics card is looking to play at 1080p (unless they're into 100 FPS and higher gaming). At 1440p and 4K resolutions the Fury X more than holds its own. Over at Tom's Hardware, the site found the Fury X bested the GTX 980 Ti and Titan X running Far Cry 4 at 1440p by around 10 FPS, with a similar lead in the game at 4K. Performance at 4K is definitely a high point for the Fury X, where in games like The Witcher 3, Metro Last Light, and Shadow of Mordor, it beat the Nvidia cards. But in Grand Theft Auto V, it was the GTX 980 Ti that was faster at both 1440p and 4K. This was a theme across the reviews of most sites, with the two cards trading blows across a range of games. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
A federal jury has concluded that an Atlanta grocery warehousing firm must pay two employees a combined $2.2 million for forcing them to submit to a buccal cheek swab to determine if their DNA was a match to feces being left throughout the facility. Employees Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds declined a combined $200,000 settlement offer from Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services. Instead, they forged ahead with the first damages trial resulting from 2008 civil rights legislation that generally bars employers from using individuals' "genetic information" when making hiring, firing, job placement, or promotion decisions. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Yet again, Adobe has released a new patch to fix a critical vulnerability that "could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system," according to the company. Adobe acknowledged that the flaw (CVE-2015-3113) is "being actively exploited in the wild via limited, targeted attacks." Known affected systems run Internet Explorer for Windows 7 and below and Firefox on Windows XP, according to the patch details. Adobe says the following software can potentially be impacted: Adobe Flash Player 18.0.0.161 and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh Adobe Flash Player Extended Support Release version 13.0.0.292 and earlier 13.x versions for Windows and Macintosh Adobe Flash Player 11.2.202.466 and earlier 11.x versions for Linux The company recommends updating to the latest version of Flash to avoid the risk of exploitation, but at this point users should take a hard look at how necessary Flash is to their daily Internet use. In 2015 alone, we've seen Adobe issue multiple emergency Flash updates to patch critical vulnerabilities under active attack—including three such instances in the first five weeks of the year. The situation has gotten so grim that security reporter Brian Krebs recently experimented with a month without having the Flash Player installed at all. "The result? I hardly missed it at all," Krebs writes. This newest flaw was uncovered through the help of FireEye security researchers. A Singapore-based FireEye team discovered the vulnerability in June by detecting a phishing campaign exploiting CVE-2015-3113. "The attackers’ e-mails included links to compromised Web servers that served either benign content or a malicious Adobe Flash Player file that exploits CVE-2015-3113," FireEye writes. FireEye identified APT3, a China-based group also known as UPS, as responsible for these attacks (see more on the group in FireEye's report on Operation Clandestine Fox). APT3 has previously introduced other browser-based zero-day attacks against Internet Explorer and Firefox. FireEye notes APT3's tactics are difficult to monitor given there's little overlap between campaigns, and the group typically moves quickly ("After successfully exploiting a target host, this group will quickly dump credentials, move laterally to additional hosts, and install custom backdoors," the new report states). According to the security researchers, APT3 has implemented these phishing schemes against companies in aerospace and defense, engineering, telecommunications, and transportation this year. FireEye's report on CVE-2015-3113 offers much greater detail than Adobe's patch notes. For instance, the typical phishing e-mails were spam-like offers for refurbished iMacs: "Save between $200-450 by purchasing an Apple Certified Refurbished iMac through this link. Refurbished iMacs come with the same 1-year extendable warranty as new iMacs. Supplies are limited, but update frequently. Don't hesitate . . .>Go to Sale" FireEye also broke down where unfortunate targets were directed after clicking such URLs—a compromised server hosting JavaScript profiling scripts. "Once a target host was profiled, victims downloaded a malicious Adobe Flash Player SWF file and an FLV file," FireEye reports. "This ultimately resulted in a custom backdoor known as SHOTPUT, detected by FireEye as Backdoor.APT.CookieCutter, being delivered to the victim’s system. The payload is obscured using xor encoding and appended to a valid GIF file." Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Today, the Australian government drastically scaled back its renewable energy targets for 2020, dropping them by nearly 20 percent. The new target, 33 TeraWatt-Hours, ends an extended period of uncertainty. The Abbot government had announced its intent to lower the target, but parliamentary negotiations were required to set a new one. Australia's initial target, 41 TW-hr, had been set in 2009 with the goal of having renewables contribute 20 percent of the nation's electrical generation. But greater efficiency and reduced manufacturing has already pushed the fraction of renewables up over 13 percent. The Abbott government, which is generally hostile to climate science, didn't feel the need to overshoot its goals and so decided to cut the renewable energy target. Solar and biomass generation, two leading sources of renewable energy in Australia, will not be affected by the deal. But wind power was singled out for added scrutiny. The deal would see a new wind power commissioner appointed to hear public complaints and create a scientific committee that would look into the environmental and health impacts of turbines. As the Sydney Morning Herald notes, however, Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council "has found no convincing evidence of health effects associated with so-called 'wind turbine syndrome,'" although more research may be needed to reassure the public. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker, who spends a large portion of his life analysing, debugging, and helping other people troubleshoot Windows, has discovered that Samsung is actively disabling Windows Update on some of its PCs. Barker stumbled across the issue while trying to assist a user who found that Windows Update "kept getting disabled randomly." By using Auditpol and registry security auditing, Barker discovered that a program called Disable_Windowsupdate.exe was being run every time the PC booted up—and that EXE file, unfortunately, belonged to Samsung's SW Update suite. SW Update is exactly what it sounds like: it's one of those bundled OEM tools that ostensibly keeps all of your PC's software and drivers up-to-date. In this case, though, SW Update also installs a service that regularly downloads and executes a file called Disable_Windowsupdate.exe directly from Samsung's servers. The file is even digitally signed by Samsung (but don't run it unless you want to disable Windows Update). Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
In the wake of the discovery of malware on the network of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the National Archives and Records Administration discovered three desktop computers that had been infected with the same remote access malware. The malware was detected by the National Archives' own intrusion detection system after receiving signature data from the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report by NextGov. The National Archives retains a wealth of electronic data collected from across the government for legal and historical purposes, including classified information in the form of e-mail records, optically scanned images and documents, and other communications and publications in electronic form. It is an obvious target for espionage, as some of the records maintained there hold sensitive information about military and intelligence operations being held for eventual declassification. There is no sign, according to an investigator who spoke with NextGov, that attackers obtained credentials giving them privileged access to the National Archives' systems. According to an Archives spokesperson, none of the Archives' enterprise applications or systems were compromised. But "IOCs"—indicators of compromise—were found on three Windows desktop computers. Those systems were wiped and re-imaged with new software before being put back into service. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Marketing partnerships between gaming companies and snack and soft drink makers are nothing new, as anyone who's ever choked down a can of Mountain Dew Game Fuel can tell you. But a new promotion between Activision and Red Bull takes the idea to a new level, offering a timed exclusive Destiny quest to players who buy the drink. After the September 15 release of Destiny's "The Taken King" expansion, players who purchased specially marked cans of Red Bull will be able to redeem a code to download the mission, which is currently being referred to as "Epic New Quest" (hopefully not the final name, but you never know). That mission won't be available to the general public until January 1, 2016. Players will also be able to get one-time Destiny XP boosts on specially marked Red Bull cans starting in July. The snack-industrial complex has been directly involved in the making of games before, dating back at least to the release of Ralston Purina's promotional Atari 2600 game Chase the Chuck Wagon (now one of the rarer console games out there). In 1996, Chex created Chex Quest, a full, cereal-themed conversion of Doom included on a CD-ROM in boxes of the cereal. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Taylor Swift isn't the only artist happy with Apple's decision to pay artists for songs played during Apple Music's three-month free trial: Billboard reports that major indie outfits Beggars Group and the Merlin Network have also made deals with Apple. Indie labels and artists had been fairly vocal about not wanting to sign up for the service, but it took a letter from Taylor Swift to actually change Apple's mind. Swift's letter, which was published this past Sunday, stated that she would not be releasing her latest album 1989 to Apple Music because of the service's royalty-free trial period. She acknowledged that as a major, established act, she didn't need those royalties to get by; others in the industry aren't so fortunate. "This is not about me," Swift wrote. "Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
In a landmark case that may set a very important precedent for other countries around the world, especially within Europe, the Dutch government has been ordered by the courts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. The ruling came from a class-action lawsuit that was brought before the Dutch courts by Urgenda in 2012. The case, rather magnificently, was based on human rights laws. Specifically, Urgenda asked the courts to "declare that global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius will lead to a violation of fundamental human rights worldwide," and that the Dutch government is "acting unlawfully by not contributing its proportional share to preventing a global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius." Today, a Dutch court at The Hague ruled in favour of Urgenda, ruling that the Netherlands' plans to cut emissions by only 14-17 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 were illegal. Moreover, the wording used by the judges in the ruling is incredibly strong and clear-cut: “The state should not hide behind the argument that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend solely on Dutch efforts ... Any reduction of emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take the lead in this.” Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Reuters reported on Tuesday night that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has asked at least eight companies for details on some recent data breaches in a probe to find hackers who stole corporate e-mails so they could engage in insider trading. The SEC has not confirmed the report to Ars, but Reuters suggests that this is an unusual move for the commission, which has taken the lead on only a handful of hacking cases. Reuters also reported that this probe was started after security firm FireEye released a report in December about a hacking group called FIN4 that focused on attacking companies on Wall Street. Ars reported on the FIN4 hacks, noting that the group relied on clever phishing attacks that collected credentials for Microsoft Outlook accounts. At the time, FireEye speculated that the hackers were American or European, given their strong command of English and their apparent deep knowledge of the culture in Fortune 500 companies. E-mails were often sent from an account the target knew and discussed mergers, acquisitions, and other financial activities that the target was interested in. FireEye researchers said that these attacks penetrated over 100 companies, compromising the accounts of C-level executives, legal counsel, regulatory and compliance personnel, scientists, and advisors. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
By now, it's pretty firmly established that modern humans interbred with Neanderthals when our ancestors reached Eurasia. What's less clear is when (and how often) this happened. Estimates of the event have wide error ranges, covering the entire time from when modern humans left Africa to the disappearance of Neanderthals from the fossil record. Now, human remains have yielded DNA that may indicate at least two distinct Neanderthal interbreeding events, one of them only a few generations earlier. The only problem? There's no indication that this skeleton's population contributed to any current group of humans. The best evidence we have on the timing of interbreeding comes from a modern human skeleton from Siberia that dates from about 45,000 years ago. That suggests that interbreeding with Neanderthals took place about 60,000 years ago, which would place it at a time when modern humans were first reaching the Middle East. But there were some hints that additional Neanderthal DNA came into that lineage more recently. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Facebook researchers have unveiled new research that allows for faces to be more easily recognized based on other contextual information, such as hair style, clothing, and body shape. The research, which was published on arXiv.org in January 2015, was presented at a conference in Boston earlier this month, and first reported on by New Scientist on Monday. According to the researchers, the system, dubbed Pose Invariant PErson Recognition (PIPER), is accurate 83 percent of the time—far higher than the current state-of-the-art, which primarily requires clear, full frontal photos to work well. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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It's hard not to view Google as an 800-pound gorilla, beating competitors at every turn thanks to its vast mountains of cash and engineering talent. But there's one field where the Mountain View-based search giant has frequently stumbled: repeated attempts to build a foothold in the biomedical realm have either failed or not borne fruit yet. Now it's trying again. Earlier today, Bloomberg Business reported that Google is developing what it calls a "health-tracking wristband"—in other words, a fitness band. But this one isn't going to be marketed at the general public. Nope, Google's aiming for the academic crowd, and wants the device to be used in clinical research. Based on Google's history, should we expect it to catch on? The history starts back in 2008 with Google Health. Aimed squarely at Microsoft's HealthVault, Google Health was a patient-level electronic medical record. It was designed to be one-stop shop in the cloud (before we called it that) where users could store their medical records, prescription records, and other important health data. We were skeptical of Google Health's prospects for longevity back then, and so it proved three years later when Google Health went the way of Google Reader—albeit without anything like the same public outcry. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
On Tuesday Ford detailed its roadmap to building cars for the future, and that plan involves putting lots of cameras and sensors on new models. Notably, the company said it would be moving its work on autonomous cars from the research department to advanced engineering, begin wearable technology development, and introduce a new split view camera to help drivers see obstacles coming in from the side. Ford said it plans to increase the number of augmented driving functions in its cars over the next five years. It also said it would begin work on making the sensors and computing power necessary to run a fully self-driving car feasible for production. The company already has models that use functions like parking assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance, and blind spot monitoring. But Ford faces intense competition in the autonomous vehicle space: companies like Audi and Volvo have been experimenting with active driving assistance for a long time, and Google and Delphi have already logged hundreds of thousands of miles testing fully self-driving cars. Ford also announced a new split-view camera set up that it claims will help drivers scan a wider field of view to reduce accidents. The split view will display a 180-degree-view of the area in front and behind a vehicle. “Split-view uses real-time video feeds from 1-megapixel wide-angle lens cameras in the grille and tailgate,” Ford wrote. “A tri-panel display in the 8-inch screen helps customers understand quickly whether an obstacle is coming from either side or straight on.” Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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