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Page Six says Disney wants reshoots on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

5/31/2016 7:18pm

Ben Mendelsohn as an unnamed Imperial officer on the bridge of the Death Star. (credit: Disney)

Page Six, a gossip and culture spinoff of the New York Post, reported yesterday that Disney executives are unhappy with the current version of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the spinoff that’s supposed to tell the story in between Star Wars episodes III and IV. According to anonymous sources, the movie is now scheduled for an "expensive reshoot" over the summer, ahead of its December release.

A source elaborated that, "the movie isn’t testing well” and “Disney won’t take a back seat.”

Screen testing of a movie is common in Hollywood and tweaking the film according to the screen tester’s comments is routine, but the Page Six sources seem to suggest these alterations go beyond that.

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Intel’s new “Kaby Lake” CPUs are already showing up in PCs at Computex

5/31/2016 7:07pm

Enlarge (credit: Intel)

Intel's main Computex announcement was the launch of its high-end (and high-cost) Broadwell-E chips, but the company also made a passing mention of a couple of next-generation architectures for mainstream and low-end systems that will ship in finished systems by the end of the year.

The most significant of these two architectures is Kaby Lake, the replacement for Skylake. Kaby Lake breaks from the "tick-tock" schedule that Intel has followed for most of the last decade; that schedule has been replaced by something Intel calls "Process, Architecture, Optimization," in which it introduces a new process (formerly a tick), introduces a new architecture on that process (formerly a tock), and then tweaks the architecture without changing the process. Kaby Lake is an "optimization" and will be built on the same 14nm process as Skylake.

Intel has said very little about Kaby Lake, and aside from confirming that the CPUs will be called "seventh-generation Core" processors and that they'll definitely be shipping later this year, it didn't reveal much new information at Computex. Previous rumors and leaks point to expanded 4K video playback capabilities, including support for HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 and hardware decode support for 10-bit HEVC and VP9 videos. The processors should also be socket-compatible with Skylake, provided your motherboard OEM provides a BIOS update to add support. Rumors say the Kaby Lake launch will start with low-voltage Core i3/i5/i7 and Core m3/m5/m7 CPUs for laptops and convertibles first and come to desktops later—Asus is already showing off a Surface clone with a Kaby Lake CPU, suggesting that the chip is already sampling to Intel's partners. This bodes well for its availability.

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Cluster of “megabreaches” compromises a whopping 642 million passwords

5/31/2016 6:00pm

(credit: CBS)

Less than two weeks after more than 177 million LinkedIn user passwords surfaced, security researchers have discovered three more breaches involving MySpace, Tumblr, and dating website Fling that all told bring the total number of compromised accounts to more than 642 million.

"Any one of these 4 I'm going to talk about on their own would be notable, but to see a cluster of them appear together is quite intriguing," security researcher Troy Hunt observed on Monday. The cluster involves breaches known to have happened to Fling in 2011, to LinkedIn in 2012, and to Tumblr 2013. It's still not clear when the MySpace hack took place, but Hunt, operator of the Have I been pwned? breach notification service, said it surely happened sometime after 2007 and before 2012. He continued:

There are some really interesting patterns emerging here. One is obviously the age; the newest breach of this recent spate is still more than 3 years old. This data has been lying dormant (or at least out of public sight) for long periods of time.

The other is the size and these 4 breaches are all in the top 5 largest ones HIBP has ever seen. That's out of 109 breaches to date, too. Not only that, but these 4 incidents account for two thirds of all the data in the system, or least they will once MySpace turns up.

Then there's the fact that it's all appearing within a very short period of time - all just this month. There's been some catalyst that has brought these breaches to light and to see them all fit this mould and appear in such a short period of time, I can't help but wonder if they're perhaps related.

All four of the password dumps are being sold on a darkweb forum by peace_of_mind, a user with 24 positive feedback ratings, two neutral ratings, and zero negative ratings. That's an indication the unknown person isn't exaggerating the quality of the data. The megabreach trend is troubling for at least a couple of reasons. First, it demonstrates that service providers are either unable to detect breaches or are willing to keep them secret years after they're discovered. Second, it raises the unsettling question where the trend will end, and if additional breaches are in store before we get there?

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The 100 best stories from Radium Age sci-fi, which ruled the early 20th century

5/31/2016 5:00pm

Sci-fi historian and editor Joshua Glenn has just finished a multi-year project to bring attention to Radium Age books.

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You've probably heard of science fiction's Golden Age, that incredible period in the 1940s and '50s when masters of the genre like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, and Jack Vance were in their primes. But the early 20th century was an even weirder and more fantastic time for science fiction, when the genre was still in flux and the atomic bomb hadn't yet transformed our ideas about the future forever. Sci-fi historian and editor Joshua Glenn has just finished a multi-year project to bring what he calls the Radium Age back into the public eye. He has brought ten Radium Age classics back into print through his indie press HiLo Books, and he has written a number of fascinating guides to the great books of that era. Now, with his definitive list of the 100 best stories and novels of the Radium Age (1904-33), he's bringing the project to a close. But the journey for you, dear reader, is just beginning.

I've always been intrigued by the excavation of forgotten sci-fi, which is why I asked Glenn to write some of his first essays about Radium Age books several years ago for io9. "With Radium Age sci-fi, I wanted to surface and read all the best novels from that overlooked era and then introduce the era to others—so at first, I figured that writing a series for io9 would suffice," he told Ars via e-mail. "But once I realized that some of the best sci-fi from the 1904-33 period had fallen into utter obscurity, I felt compelled to start an imprint and reissue 10 of the titles that seemed most worthy of resurrecting." Now that other publishers have started releasing some of the novels on his best-of list, it seems that Glenn was on the cutting edge of a cultural revival of futuristic tales that are a century old. What's incredible about looking back on the Radium Age is that you realize so many of the science fiction themes we think of as solidly contemporary—from post-humans and the singularity, to zombie-populated dystopias—actually got their start way back in the early 1900s.

Describing some of these themes, Glenn told Ars:

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Sex with 17-year-old girl is legal in Texas—sexted pics of her are kid porn

5/31/2016 4:50pm

(credit: Pro Juventute)

Try to follow along. In Texas, it's legal to have sex with somebody as young as 17 years old. But it's considered child pornography to have nude pictures of somebody under 18, even if he or she is 17.

Aldo Leiva, 51. (credit: Harris County Sheriff's Office)

This means a 51-year-old Houston math tutor is facing 20 years in prison and may have to register as a sex offender for life in connection to accusations that his mobile phone contained child pornography—which were the nude photos that his 17-year-old student-girlfriend had texted him. The case against Aldo Leiva came to light after the girl's mother found explicit pictures on her daughter's mobile phone. The Houston Independent School District Police Department opened an investigation, which led to the charges against the Houston High tutor, according to court records.

Leiva posted $20,000 bond last week, and a local judge issued a no-contact order between the girl and the tutor. According to court records (PDF), the tutor gave police his phone and unlocked it for them, and nude images of the girl were allegedly recovered.

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Finally, you can load Fallout 4 mods on Xbox One

5/31/2016 3:35pm

A Eurogamer video lays out how to use Fallout 4 mods on Xbox One in detail

For decades, PC gaming elitists have lorded their ability to download imaginative game mods over their dirty console gaming peasant cousins. That advantage goes away today... at least for one major recent release. Bethesda just launched an update that allows Xbox One players to download and run Fallout 4 mods (though the Bethesda mod servers seem to be melting under the strain at the moment). A similar update for the PS4 is promised for later in June.

There are a few caveats to consider before exploring the freewheeling modding scene, as Bethesda discussed in a livestream last week. All mods have to be downloaded to the console through the in-game interface (which requires a BethesdaNet account), and there's a 2GB limit to total mod storage per system. While loading the wrong mods (or loading them in the wrong order) could make the game temporarily unplayable, you don't have to worry about screwing up your save game while playing with mods loaded—a separate "modded save" will be stored alongside the standard version. Achievements and Trophies can't be earned while using mods.

Bethesda says it will be cracking down on nudity and the use of outside copyrighted content in the console mods it hosts, so forget about your dreams of running a naked Master Chief through the post-apocalyptic wasteland. As of now, 888 of the 1375 PC mods listed on the Bethesda Workshop for the game have been approved for the Xbox One, and that ratio will likely go up as Bethesda does more testing.

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No Man’s Anger: A peaceful game’s delay sparks online hate

5/31/2016 2:35pm

Artist's rendition of some random Internet user reacting to a two-month game delay. (credit: Flickr / Thoth, God of Knowledge)

As someone who has been immersed in gaming and Internet culture for decades, I'm no stranger to how fans with enflamed passions can spew some heated and at times hateful rhetoric about their favorite properties online. Random Internet users can and do generate huge volumes of uncivil discussion, harassment, and sometimes even threats over everything from Mass Effect 3's ending to arguments over review scores.

Still, a portion of the reaction to news of the No Man's Sky delay in recent days seems fundamentally different in a way that has been troubling me.

The basic news being discussed here is pretty boring by game industry standards. No Man's Sky, which developer Hello Games has been targeting for a June 2016 release since last October, was first rumored and then confirmed to be delayed to early August over the past week.

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Cops can easily get months of location data, appeals court rules

5/31/2016 2:17pm

(credit: Julian Carvajal)

A full panel of judges at the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals has now overturned last summer’s notable decision by the standard trio of appellate judges, which had found that police needed a warrant to obtain more than 200 days' worth of cell-site location information (CSLI) for two criminal suspects.

In the Tuesday en banc decision, the Fourth Circuit relied heavily upon the third-party doctrine, the 1970s-era Supreme Court case holding that there is no privacy interest in data voluntarily given up to a third party like a cell phone provider. That case, known as Smith v. Maryland, is what has provided the legal underpinning for lots of surveillance programs, ranging from local police all the way up to the National Security Agency.

The Fourth Circuit concluded in US v. Graham:

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Microsoft lowers Xbox One’s entry price to $299

5/31/2016 12:35pm

In a surprise move ahead of next month's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft has lowered the price on almost all of its Xbox One bundles by $50. That means you can now get a 500GB Xbox One bundled with either Quantum Break, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, The Lego Movie Videogame, Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, or Rare Replay for just $299. Systems with a 1TB hard drive and other bundled games range from $319 to $349.

A system with a Kinect camera and three compatible games is now $349, while one with an Elite controller and a 1TB hard drive is $449.

While the prices are listed as "for a limited time" on the Microsoft website, other online retailers seem to be matching the sudden, platform-wide price drop. The Xbox One previously dropped to $299 as part of some holiday season deals in 2015 and again as part of a Microsoft Store promotion in March.

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Gravitational waves may reveal stringy Universe

5/31/2016 12:15pm

(credit: Lawrence Berkeley Lab)

Everyone has been pretty excited by the recent observation of gravitational waves. I know that I am prone to exaggeration, but gravitational waves really do open up a new way to observe the Universe.

At the moment, when we observe the night sky, the farther into the distance we look, the further back in time we see. But relationship is based on an assumption: the light we see has not bounced off anything in between us and its origin. Normally, this is a pretty safe assumption, because space is pretty big, and most of the material in it (like dust, etc) doesn't do much.

But in the very early Universe, before atoms had formed, things were very dense, so light scattered a lot. The scattering means that the information that a photon carried about its origin was lost. As a result, we can't really see much beyond the time when all the charged particles all agreed to stick together and create the first three elements of the periodic table.

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Kraftwerk loses hip-hop music-sampling copyright case

5/31/2016 11:35am

(credit: Tobias Helfrich)

After a decades-long battle, the Bundesverfassungsgericht (the supreme German Constitutional Court) has overturned a ban on a song that used a two-second sample of a Kraftwerk recording.

In 1997, music producer Moses Pelham used a clip from 1977 release Metall auf Metall (Metal on Metal) in the song Nur mir (Only Mine) performed by Sabrina Setlur.

Lead singer of Kraftwerk, Ralf Huetter, sued Pelham, and in 2012 the electropop pioneer won his case for copyright infringement in Germany's Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof), gaining damages and a block on Nur mir. However, in today’s judgment, the eight judges of the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court decided that the lower court did not sufficiently consider whether the impact of the sample on Krafwerk might be “negligible.”

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Comcast can’t get “gigabit” tax break that was created for Google Fiber

5/31/2016 11:31am

(credit: Comcast)

Comcast has hit a roadblock in its attempt to get a big tax break that Oregon legislators wrote specifically for Google Fiber.

It looked like Comcast had won a few months ago when Oregon's Public Utility Commission ruled 3-0 that Comcast's gigabit service qualifies the company for the tax exemption. But the exemption still needed to be certified by the state Department of Revenue, and last week the department refused to do so.

The department "ruled Comcast ineligible for the tax break, at least for this year," The Oregonian reported. "The department declined to disclose its reasoning, citing taxpayer confidentiality, and referred questions to Comcast. Comcast said any information would have to come from the Revenue Department."

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Study that found cell phones cause cancer in rats is riddled with red flags

5/31/2016 11:25am

(credit: kaboompics)

Late last week, headlines blared that a new $25 million years-long US government study had finally found a clear connection between cellphone radiation and tumors in rats—striking fear in the hearts of gadget lovers worldwide. The finding—if true—would suggest we’re headed for an upsetting uptick in cancer incidence and death. Mobile phones, after all, are ubiquitous, and many among us have a near-religious devotion to them if not an unhealthy co-dependence.

Luckily for us, the study does not provide that clear link.

The study, which was not properly peer reviewed—despite what some outlets have reported—is chock full of red flags: small sample sizes, partially reported results, control oddities, statistical stretches, and a slim conclusion. In short, “there is nothing in this report that can be regarded to be statistically significant," Donald Berry, a biostatistics professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, told Ars. "The authors should have used the 'black box warning.'"

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Martian ice caps tell story of massive climate shifts

5/31/2016 11:06am

Enlarge / Mars' northern ice cap. (credit: ESA/DLR/FU-Berlin)

Earth has a climatic pacemaker driven by subtle patterns in its orbit. The shape of its orbit shifts slightly, the tilt of its axis bobs up and down, and that axis wobbles like a top. Add up the way all that movement affects the distribution of sunlight in the high latitude Northern Hemisphere, and you get a predictable succession of glacial and interglacial periods.

Mars has orbital patterns that affect its climate, too. In fact, Mars’ orbital cycles swing to greater extremes than Earth’s. For example, Mars’ current axial tilt is about 25°, but it has varied within a range of 18° to 48° over the past 10 million years. Those orbital changes have influenced its climate as well.

On Earth, the “ice ages” resulted in a transfer of water from the ocean into growing continental ice sheets. On Mars, the changes cause transfers of water ice from the polar caps to lower latitudes, where it forms thin layers and possibly even glaciers. When conditions tilt back the other way, ice disappears from lower latitudes and the polar caps thicken again.

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Apartment complex demands tenants give Facebook “like” within 5 days

5/31/2016 10:44am

(credit: KSL)

Remember the Florida apartment complex that got a lot of attention for giving tenants a contract banning harsh online reviews? A Utah apartment complex is going one better: instead of squelching negative reviews, owners of the complex are trying to coerce tenants into giving positive feedback.

Last week, tenants at City Park Apartments, located in Salt Lake City, received a "Facebook Addendum" posted on their doors, outlining what's expected of them. Most jarring was a requirement that they "friend" the complex within five days.

The predictable results are already rolling in. Rather than a flood of "likes," the City Park Apartments contract became a story on KSL, a local TV station. By Sunday, The Associated Press picked up the story and made it national. The complex hasn't gotten the positive feedback it hoped for; instead, it has racked up more than 800 one-star reviews on an unofficial Facebook page.

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All your disk image are belong to us, says appeals court

5/31/2016 10:36am

(credit: Magnus Hagdorn)

The government can prosecute and imprison people for crimes based on evidence obtained from their computers—even evidence retained for years that was outside the scope of an original probable-cause search warrant, a US federal appeals court has said in a 100-page opinion paired with a blistering dissent.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that there was no constitutional violation because the authorities acted in good faith when they initially obtained a search warrant, held on to the files for years, and built a case unrelated to the original search.

The case posed a vexing question—how long may the authorities keep somebody's computer files that were obtained during a search but were not germane to that search? The convicted accountant said that only the computer files pertaining to his client—who was being investigated as part of an Army overbilling scandal—should have been retained by the government during a 2003 search. All of his personal files, which eventually led to his own tax-evasion conviction, should have been purged, he argued.

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Broken shifter? Top Gear’s new season fails to wow

5/31/2016 10:24am

(credit: BBC)

Top Gear, one of the BBC's most successful shows, returned on Sunday night with a new cast—and very few fresh ideas. Ratings in the UK missed the 5 million mark that host Chris Evans set as a measure for success, and the best parts were relegated to the Web-only Extra Gear, starring Rory Reid and Chris Harris. The debut could prove troublesome for a BBC that needs strong foreign sales of the show to fill its coffers in times of ever-decreasing government support.

The show, which premiered Monday night on BBC America and Sunday night on BBC Two in the UK, is the third iteration of Top Gear since 1977. The original format wasn't particularly good, but it did well because the UK had only a handful of TV channels to watch at the time. 2002 brought the Andy Wilman-produced reboot, starring Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. Under their tenure, the show didn't just succeed with UK audiences—it built up a global cult following with fans either watching it on local broadcasters or more commonly via Internet piracy.

But last year, Top Gear's machinery ground to a halt after the show's frontman berated and then attacked a producer during a toddler-like tantrum (if toddlers punched people and called them c*nts). The latest of an increasingly long list of Clarksonian scandals was too much for the state-funded BBC to endure, and the grand oaf of television was fired. With the frontman gone, Wilman, May, and Hammond threw in the towel as well, but things ended well for the gang. They landed a multimillion dollar contract with Amazon to make a new series called The Grand Tour, which debuts later this year.

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So far, so good for NASA’s new inflatable room in space

5/31/2016 9:23am

How Bigelow Aerospace's module expanded on Saturday. (credit: NASA)

After difficulties with the first attempt to expand a new room on the International Space Station, NASA had little trouble with Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable module over the Memorial Day weekend.

On Saturday morning, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams allowed short bursts of air to escape into the module, allowing it to expand, as flight controllers at Johnson Space Center checked the module's internal pressure. Then, after this initial, successful expansion, NASA pressed ahead and fully pressurized the module on Saturday afternoon.

When packed inside the trunk of a Dragon cargo spacecraft, the Bigelow module measure 7 feet long by 7.75 feet wide; when expanded, it measures 13 feet long and 10.5 feet in diameter, creating 565 cubic feet of space and weighing 3,000 pounds. If all goes well during this week with a series of leak and pressure checks, Williams could enter the Bigelow module as early as next Monday.

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Open access should be the norm for EU by 2020, say research ministers

5/31/2016 9:07am

(credit: Competitiveness Council)

EU research ministers have published a commitment to make “open access to scientific publications as the option by default by 2020.” The decision was taken during a meeting of the Competitiveness Council, which is made up of ministers from the EU’s member states. In addition, ministers agreed “to the best possible reuse of research data as a way to accelerate the transition towards an open science system.”

The formal “conclusions” of the meeting define open access to publications as “free availability on the public Internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers.” This is taken from the key Budapest Open Access Initiative that helped to define open access back in 2002—an indication of how slow progress has been so far.

Although the open access commitment by the EU ministers has been hailed as a “major boost” for open science by the League of European Research Universities, it is a political signal, rather than a plan for implementation. The Competitiveness Council is made up of ministers from each of the EU member states, and they have now committed their respective governments to move to open access in the next four years, but there is no legal mechanism to force them to do so.

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Asus Avalon is a bold, cable-free DIY PC

5/31/2016 8:57am

Thanks to standardised components and simplified operating systems (RIP MS-DOS), building a PC isn't all that difficult these days—so long as you're comfortable with wielding a Phillips head screwdriver, at least. Asus, however, thinks that it "can do it better."

Enter the Asus ROG (Republic of Gamers) Avalon concept PC, unveiled at Computex 2016 in Taiwan: a tightly integrated system that combines the motherboard and case into one, allowing for a modular and easily upgradable system that's (mostly) devoid of complex cabling.

Plus, it looks like a hi-fi straight out of a 1970's Technics catalogue—and as we all know, retro hi-fi is so in right now.

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