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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 599.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_area::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_area.inc on line 81.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_query::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_query.inc on line 181.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_comment_username::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/modules/comment/views_handler_field_comment_username.inc on line 49.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_user_name::value_submit() should be compatible with views_handler_filter_in_operator::value_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/modules/user/views_handler_filter_user_name.inc on line 145.
  • strict warning: Declaration of image_attach_views_handler_field_attached_images::pre_render() should be compatible with views_handler_field::pre_render($values) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/image/contrib/image_attach/image_attach_views_handler_field_attached_images.inc on line 112.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_node_new_comments::pre_render() should be compatible with views_handler_field::pre_render($values) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/modules/comment/views_handler_field_node_new_comments.inc on line 103.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_user::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/modules/user/views_handler_field_user.inc on line 50.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_serialized::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field_serialized.inc on line 61.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 24.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 136.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/linuxwebmonkey/novalug.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1118.


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The Art of Technology
Updated: 18 min 44 sec ago

LG’s six-day-old smartwatch canceled due to “image quality issues”

11/24/2015 6:51pm

The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE. (credit: Google)

Late last week, LG shockingly canceled its latest smartwatch after just six days on the market. LG said the Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE had to be taken off the market due to "a hardware issue," but other than telling us "there are no safety issues or concerns with the product," the company left out any further details.

Now we're getting a little more detail about exactly what went wrong, and it seems to have something to do with the display. An LG rep told The Telegraph, "For competitive and supplier relations reasons we are not in a position to communicate the specifics of the issue that led to this decision. However, what we can share is that the hardware issue was related to a new advanced component that we had incorporated in the device that had never been used in an LG wearable device before." The rep went on to say, "During aggressive testing over thousands of hours under severe conditions, it was revealed that this component failed to meet LG’s quality standards and could potentially impact our image quality over the life of the device."  [emphasis ours]

LG is being as diplomatic as possible to not burn a bridge with its suppliers, but it's hard to interpret "image quality" as anything other than a finger pointed squarely at the display. The display would also fit the description of a "new advanced component" that had "never been used in an LG wearable device before." The Urbane 2 was the first smartwatch to hit a 480×480 resolution, bringing the round, 1.3-inch P-OLED display to 490 PPI.

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With traffic fatalities rising, safety officials see tech as cause and solution

11/24/2015 6:24pm

(credit: Jason Weaver)

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released numbers on Tuesday showing a slight decrease in the number of fatal accidents in 2014 but an 8.1 percent increase in estimated fatalities in the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014.

Speaking to Reuters, NHTSA head Mark Rosekind guessed that, although it’s too early to tell what has caused the increase in estimated fatalities, smartphone use may have contributed. "The increase in smartphones in our hands is so significant, there's no question that has to play some role. But we don't have enough information yet to determine how big a role,” Rosekind said.

While cautioning that the results for the January to June 2015 fatality estimate could be subject to major adjustments when the Administration does its year-end tally, the NHTSA posited that low gas prices throughout 2015 could have led to more driving from teenagers and other “risky drivers.”

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More organizations speak out against Congressman’s NOAA investigation

11/24/2015 6:15pm

In a major move, seven scientific organizations came together today to send a message to the Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Lamar Smith (R-Tex.). Smith is investigating the NOAA climate scientists behind a study that concluded we’ve seen slightly more surface warming since 1998 than previously thought. That organization's message? “Grave concern” about Rep. Smith’s subpoena of internal communications among NOAA scientists and staff.

The letter comes from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the American Statistical Association, the Ecological Society of America, and the Geological Society of America.

The letter highlights the fact that all the data and methodology of the study “have been publicly shared and discussed directly with the committee staff,” and that there is no evidence of misconduct. The study has gone through the usual peer-review process, as other research relevant to the topic has in the past and will in the future.

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Connected cars aren’t just for hacking

11/24/2015 6:05pm

Love it or hate it—and we know many of you hate it—the connected car isn't going away. That much was evident at this year's Connected Car Expo, held in Los Angeles last week just ahead of the LA Auto Show. But "connected car" means more than just one thing, and not all of it is frivolous or just meant to reduce the minor inconveniences in our lives.

Car companies are in a hurry to squeeze the Internet and large displays into new cars. The OEMs are faced with a challenge; unlike a couple of decades ago, there aren't really any bad cars. Reliability and safety have made such strides that car makers are looking at digital bells and whistles as a way to differentiate their products from competitors, spurred on by focus groups demanding "the smartphone experience" while behind the wheel.

The technology being driven by the smartphone industry means that embedded processors and wireless modems are cheap and rugged enough to survive life in automotive applications. Consequently, engineers and programmers are constantly working on new ideas that leverage those processors and network connections to teach old cars new tricks. Done right, this could have big advantages for safety as well as personal convenience, but only if we—the general public—both know about it and can be convinced it's safe. Some of it might even be appealing to you.

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Amazon backtracks after covering NYC subway car in Nazi symbols

11/24/2015 5:46pm

(credit: Katherine Lam)

Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel The Man In The High Castle imagined a world in which the Axis nations of Germany and Japan won World War II—and won so decisively that they overtook the United States. To promote its TV series version of the book, Amazon Studios perhaps took that premise a little too literally by filling a New York City subway car with Nazi symbols on Monday.

By Tuesday, after photos and criticisms about the ad campaign had spread via social media, and New York mayor Bill De Blasio had called them "irresponsible and offensive," the New York Metro Transit Authority had confirmed the ad campaign's closure. A Variety report quoted MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz as saying, "Amazon has just decided to pull the ads." Amazon did not immediately respond to questions from Ars about the report and the campaign's closure.

As Twitter photos reveal, the ad campaign covered many subway benches on the MTA's S line with giant, flag-styled designs; one of those combined an American flag, a Nazi Eagle, and an Iron cross, while the other retouched Japan's war flag variant with American colors and stars. Next to these were window posters telling people to watch Man In The High Castle's entire first season on Amazon Video beginning November 20. (The full-train ads, which also coated those S trains' exteriors, didn't appear to mention that Amazon also sold the book version in both paper and Kindle editions.)

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Was Russian aircraft shot down because its satellite navigation was wrong?

11/24/2015 5:36pm

A Sukhoi Su-24 of the Russian Air Force like this one was shot down near the Turkish-Syrian border today.

4 more images in gallery

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Was a Russian Su-24 strike bomber over Turkish airspace earlier today when it was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter, as the Turkish government claimed? Or did it, as the Russians have claimed, fly in Syrian airspace and never cross the Turkish border? The Turkish and Russian governments have published conflicting evidence on the plane's location as accusations fly between the two sides. But it's entirely possible both sides are right—based on different data sources.

With precision satellite navigation and radar systems available to both sides, one might think that it would be relatively simple to both know where the border was and avoid it or know for certain which side of the border the plane was on when it was shot down. But the Russians have published their own version of navigational tracking data that shows the Su-24 flying south of a part of the Turkish border that juts southward into Syria. The Turks claim that the jet, while clearly not mounting an attack against Turkey, was over a mile into Turkish airspace and had been repeatedly warned that it was on a course that would cross the border.

But given the Russian aircraft was only in Turkish airspace for a few seconds (and only penetrated, even by the Turks' accounting, by a little more than a mile), it's still possible that the GLONASS system used by the Russian military for navigation may have given the aircrew different information than the Turks had. GLONASS has fewer satellites than GPS, and more of its satellites follow the same orbital path. That makes positioning errors more likely. And with the complex border between Syria and Turkey (and Russia's operations against Syrian rebels taking them extremely close to that border), a slight miscalculation in flight path could put Russian pilots in Turkish airspace.

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Windows 10 November update was pulled for forgetting privacy settings; it’s now back

11/24/2015 5:00pm

The mystery behind the removal of the Windows 10 November Update, version 1511, has been revealed. Last week Microsoft received reports that, when upgrading from the Windows 10 July release to the November update, four privacy-related settings were getting reset to their default values. Concerned that there might be a significant problem, Microsoft removed the November Update from Windows Update for existing Windows 10 users and also removed the updated Media Creation Tool used to create install media.

When upgrading from the initial Windows 10 release to the new version, four settings (whether to allow apps to use a unique advertiser ID, which apps are allowed to run in the background, whether Smartscreen Web filtering is enabled, and whether settings sync between devices) were reverted to their defaults, as if a fresh Windows installation had been performed. While for most users this made no difference, for those who'd disabled those features previously, the upgrade would silently revert those choices.

Oddly, upgrading from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 wasn't affected, and the November Update was still being rolled out over Windows Update to people upgrading from those operating systems. Only those already on Windows 10 were affected.

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AT&T, Verizon try to prevent ban on text message blocking

11/24/2015 4:59pm

(credit: Intel Free Press)

AT&T, Verizon, and other wireless carriers are urging the Federal Communications Commission to reject a petition that would impose common carrier regulations on text messaging.

The FCC this year reclassified both fixed and mobile Internet access as common carrier services under Title II of the Communications Act and used the new classification to impose net neutrality rules that prevent Internet providers from blocking or throttling traffic. Wireless carriers already faced Title II common carrier regulation of mobile voice, but the status of text messaging has remained unsettled, along with the question of whether carriers can block text messages.

In August, the FCC was asked by Twilio to declare that text message service must face Title II regulation, raising concerns among mobile carriers. AT&T and Verizon urged the FCC to reject Twilio's petition, and so did CTIA—The Wireless Association, which represents carriers in general. CTIA wrote in a filing on Friday that new restrictions could prevent wireless operators from blocking spam.

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Court: King of Kong’s Billy Mitchell isn’t an exploding, floating cartoon head

11/24/2015 4:49pm

We know it's hard, but do not confuse these two images.

If you watched the 2007 documentary The King of Kong or follow the insular world of arcade high score competitions, you know Billy Mitchell as a controversial, bearded braggadocio who sells hot sauce and was the first person to ever play a perfect game of Pac-Man. You probably don't think of Mitchell as a giant, floating head from outer space named Garrett Bobby Ferguson ("GBF") who cries, tries to cheat, and then explodes when he loses a game.

New Jersey Circuit Court Judge Anne E. Thompson is confident you can tell those two descriptions apart. She recently threw out a complaint Mitchell made against Cartoon Network and the makers of Regular Show, where Mitchell argued the character GBF violated his right to publicity by serving as an unauthorized use of his likeness.

To be sure, there are some similarities between Mitchell and the very fictional GBF. They both have similar hairstyles, hair colors, and beards. They're both known largely for doing well at video games. They are both "arrogant yet successful, beloved by fans, and willing to go to great lengths to maintain their titles," as Thompson puts it in her entertaining ruling.

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Review: Asus’ excellent midrange laptop gets much better with Skylake

11/24/2015 4:20pm

Asus' new UX305C.

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It’s easy to find cheap PCs and it’s easy to find good PCs, but it can be difficult to find a PC in between those two poles that gives you a really great value for your money. Too often, you’ll find PCs in the $600-700 range that aren’t portable enough, or that use bad LCD panels, or that give you too-small SSDs or too-slow HDDs.

That’s one reason we liked Asus’ Zenbook UX305 laptop so much. It was never the best laptop you could buy, but it gave you a whole lot for $700. There are some odd design touches, and its trackpad, like so many Windows PC trackpads, is mediocre at best. It doesn’t include a touchscreen. But the keyboard is good, the screen is good, and it’s as fast as it needs to be. In other words, Asus made most of the right compromises, and the Skylake version of the laptop delivers the same stuff with improved performance.

Look and feel

Asus didn’t change a thing about the way the Skylake version of the UX305 looks, which is mostly a good thing. It’s still a mostly metal laptop with a burgundy or dark purple finish (it looks different depending on the way the light hits it), with a smooth matte texture on the palm rest and bottom of the laptop and a brushed metal texture on the lid.

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2014 saw a slight rise in US carbon emissions

11/24/2015 3:05pm

(credit: US EIA)

The US Energy Information Administration has run the numbers on 2014's carbon emissions, and some of them are quite good. The amount of CO2 emitted per unit of energy dropped by 0.3 percent, and the energy use per unit of GDP dropped by 1.2 percent. However, since the GDP grew even faster, the overall emissions of the US rose by 1.7 percent. While the overall trend has been downward for the last decade, we're in a position where any rise presents a challenge for the country's long-term energy goals.

In absolute numbers, the US' energy consumption produced 5.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, a figure that was 51 million metric tons above 2013's numbers. Both commercial and residential sectors contributed a bit under 20 million metric tons to that increase; industry actually saw an 11 million metric ton drop, largely due to a transition to natural gas. The biggest contributor to the rise was transportation, where low fuel costs spurred an increase of 24 million metric tons.

This slight rise came despite 2.4 percent GDP growth. In general, the US no longer sees its GDP growth tightly coupled to energy use, and the transition to natural gas and renewables is limiting the carbon emitted by energy use.

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Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk spar over gravity of Blue Origin rocket landing

11/24/2015 2:50pm

Screenshot of New Shepard space vehicle landing after a suborbital flight on Monday. (credit: Blue Origin)

On Monday at 11:21am CT, Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft made a successful suborbital test flight and ascended 100.5km into the heavens. But that was only part of the story. After reaching its apogee, the space vehicle began falling back to Earth, reigniting its engine 1.5km above the surface and slowing to a sedate 7 km/h before touching down. The historic spaceflight marked the first time a rocket flew into space and subsequently landed safely on the ground.

Blue Origin announced the milestone on Tuesday. "It was one of the greatest moments in my life," said Jeff Bezos, founder of the rocket company, during a media teleconference. There was not, he added, a dry eye at the secretive landing site near Van Horn.

So moved was Bezos, apparently, that he took to Twitter for the first time:

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Kickstarter has no clue how drone startup raised $3.4M then imploded

11/24/2015 2:07pm

(credit: Change.org)

Less than a week after Torquing Group announced that it was dissolving, Kickstarter said it is mystified as to how the British startup and its Zano drone raised $3.4 million in less than a year then totally collapsed.

In a statement sent to backers on Monday, Kickstarter wrote that it was "extremely frustrated by what’s happened with this project."

We learned the news of the Zano bankruptcy the same way that you did—through a bare-bones project update. We e-mailed the creators as recently as two weeks ago to encourage them to be more communicative with their backers, but received only a cursory response.

You deserve more than that, and we are committed to helping backers get to the bottom of what happened here.

Today we sent an e-mail to the Zano team informing them of their obligations to backers and asking them to share an open and transparent update on what happened with the project. We have asked them to post this update by Monday, November 30.

If they do not adequately brief backers by that time, Kickstarter will independently pursue an inquiry into the Zano project. Should this occur, we will share those findings with you, the backers, once completed.

David Gallagher, a Kickstarter spokesman, did not immediately answer Ars’ questions as to what exactly this "inquiry" would entail, nor how often Kickstarter has engaged in such activity previously. [UPDATE 3:19pm ET: Gallagher responded, declining to answer Ars' questions.]

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Patent troll’s stock soars 20% after court victory over Samsung, Huawei

11/24/2015 12:52pm

Patent-holding company Unwired Planet has won the first in a series of London patent trials against Samsung and Huawei, and the company's stock jumped nearly 20 percent as a result.

Judge Colin Birss called the company's patents "essential" to 4G networks in yesterday's decision, which was reported by Bloomberg. The company also sued Google, but Google settled before trial.

It's Unwired Planet's first win at a patent trial. Unwired Planet sued Apple in a US federal court in 2013, but a judge ruled in May that Apple didn't infringe the company's patents. Unwired Planet is appealing that decision.

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“Clock boy” Ahmed Mohamed wants an apology—and $15 million

11/24/2015 11:59am

Ahmed Mohamed received support from some of the biggest names in tech, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, pictured with Mohamed in this photo, published on Twitter in September. (credit: Jimmy Wales via Twitter)

The Texas teenager who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school has sent letters to the city of Irving, Texas, as well as the Irving school district, demanding $15 million and a written apology. If he doesn't get both within 60 days, Ahmed Mohamed's lawyer says he'll file a lawsuit.

Mohamed's saga began in September, when one of the boy's teachers suspected that the homemade clock he brought to school may have been a bomb. The school called in police, who handcuffed Mohamed and questioned him. The image of the stunned, handcuffed 14-year-old in a NASA T-shirt went viral. The boy's father said his son was victimized because he was a Muslim.

News reports on Mohamed's plight vaulted him to international celebrity status. He accepted an invitation from President Obama to visit the White House and saw an outpouring of support from politicians and technology leaders, including Twitter shout-outs from Google, Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Hillary Clinton, and MIT.

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T-Mobile gives existing customers three months of unlimited LTE

11/24/2015 11:21am

(credit: T-Mobile US)

T-Mobile US is giving a large chunk of its existing customers an upgrade to unlimited LTE on their smartphones for the next three months.

The holiday promotion announced yesterday is available to postpaid Simple Choice customers whose accounts were active as of November 23. The unlimited high-speed data will be automatically turned on December 1 for both consumers and business customers and will remain in place through the end of February as long as they remain on the same plan.

These customers' plans generally provide a limited amount of high-speed data, with speeds being throttled to 128kbps for the remainder of each month once they hit the limit (unless they purchase additional LTE data). Individual plans with high-speed data limits cost between $50 and $80 a month and provide 2GB to 10GB of LTE data. Customers on these plans will get three months of unlimited high-speed data usage.

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Dealmaster: Save over 50 percent on the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 ultrabook

11/24/2015 10:38am

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains, we're bringing you a bunch of laptop and PC deals, with some of the best ones coming from Lenovo. The company has already begun its Black Friday sales, which include incredible savings on some of Lenovo's newest devices. One of the best deals is on the 2015 Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 ultrabook—you can save over 50 percent on the convertible laptop, which features a Core M processor, QHD display, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. You'll save just over $800 on that laptop alone, and there are many more deals that you'll want to grab before they're gone.

We also have the usual list of deals below for your consideration. Happy shopping!

Featured Deals

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Black Friday gaming deals feature $300 consoles, $40 controllers, $1 games

11/24/2015 9:52am

Dell has what's probably the best bundle offer on the Xbox One this Black Friday.

The Black Friday sales bonanza (which is now officially bleeding over into the surrounding days) is one of those rare times when game consoles, retail titles, and gaming accessories are available en masse at prices below the often-strict MSRPs set by the manufacturer.

If you're not relishing the thought of sifting through dozens of advertisements to find the best deals, we're here to help with this handy primer on some of the best deals out there. In every case, quantities will probably be limited, so be sure to get to the store (or Web browser) early if you want to catch the best deals, and be sure to call ahead or check the website to see when the doors are opening. Also note that some deals are only available in-store and not through the website: check with the retailer.

Console hardware

Both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One are being offered at their lowest prices ever this Black Friday weekend. Starting Thursday and going through Cyber Monday, the 500 GB versions of both systems can be had for $299 at all major online and brick-and-mortar retailers, down from their normal prices of $350.

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Researchers poke hole in custom crypto built for Amazon Web Services

11/24/2015 9:40am

(credit: Amazon)

Underscoring just how hard it is to design secure cryptographic software, academic researchers recently uncovered a potentially serious weakness in an early version of the code library protecting Amazon Web Services.

Ironically, s2n, as Amazon's transport layer security implementation is called, was intended to be a simpler, more secure way to encrypt and authenticate Web sessions. Where the OpenSSL library requires more than 70,000 lines of code to execute the highly complex TLS standard, s2n—short for signal to noise—has just 6,000 lines. Amazon hailed the brevity as a key security feature when unveiling s2n in June. What's more, Amazon said the new code had already passed three external security evaluations and penetration tests.

Amazon's June 30 announcement was only a few hours old when Royal Holloway, University of London Professor Kenny Paterson and his colleagues met for lunch at a nearby pub to discuss the security of s2n. Five days later, they presented Amazon engineers with a report showing that the newly unveiled s2n was vulnerable to "Lucky 13," a TLS attack unveiled in 2013 that made it possible to recover encrypted browser cookies used to access restricted parts of a website. Amazon engineers promptly fixed the errors. In a blog post, Amazon officials said the the vulnerable version of s2n was never used in production and that the proof-of-concept attacks "did not impact Amazon, AWS, or our customers, and are not the kind that could be exploited in the real world."

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Uber will pay $1.8 million to settle lawsuit over airport fees

11/24/2015 8:57am

Uber had a booth at the Chicago Auto Show. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

Ride-sharing giant Uber will reimburse $1.8 million in fees it collected in 2013 and 2014, under a settlement reached Friday.

The settlement is a rare concession from a company that continues to fight hard in its most important legal battle: over how its workers should be classified. That case could head to a jury as soon as June of next year.

Uber had been slapped with a class-action lawsuit over the "airport fee tolls," which ranged from $1.25 to $4.50 per trip for trips to various California airports, including San Francisco International and Los Angeles International. Around 350,000 Uber users were charged the fees. Any money that can't be returned to riders will go to two "cy pres" recipients, the National Consumer Law Center and East Bay Community Law Center.

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