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The Art of Technology
Updated: 1 hour 39 min ago

Windows 10 in pictures: A new Start menu puts focus back on the desktop

9/30/2014 6:40pm

The Start menu is back where it used to be, but now includes traditional desktop elements alongside the live tiles designed for tablets.

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As announced earlier today, the next version of Windows is Windows 10. Skipping right over Windows 9, Microsoft is trying to blend the best bits of the desktop-centric Windows 7 with the best parts of the tablet-centric Windows 8. Microsoft isn't quite going up to eleven yet, but it's close.

Instead of the full-screen Start screen of Windows 8, there's a Start menu that will look familiar to Windows 7 users while adding the live tiles created for Windows 8. Windows 10 features new options for re-sizing windows, multiple desktops, and a convenient "task view" to switch between them. The Windows command prompt is also being dragged into the 21st century.

Microsoft focused a lot today on how it's improving the desktop, but that doesn't mean Windows isn't for tablets anymore. A touch-screen device that docks with a keyboard, for example, will switch from desktop mode to tablet mode depending on whether it's attached to the keyboard or disconnected.

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First US Ebola diagnosis confirmed by CDC [Updated]

9/30/2014 5:05pm

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that we've now seen the first case of Ebola infection diagnosed within the US. Although patients were previously brought back to the US for treatment following infection in West Africa, this is the first case we know of where the infected individual traveled back on their own, possibly unaware that they were infected.

According to the article, the patient is currently being kept in isolation at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas after doctors found that he had symptoms consistent with Ebola and had recently been to West Africa. Blood samples were shipped to the CDC for testing yesterday, which led to today's results.

Details are scarce at the moment, but it's safe to assume that health officials are trying to track back to the individuals that were in contact with the patient since his return from overseas. This will allow them to be monitored and treated quickly if symptoms should emerge. Depending on the exact details of when the patient traveled, it could be possible to keep the virus from spreading to other patients within the US.

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Advertising firms struggle to kill malvertisements

9/30/2014 4:45pm

In late September, advertisements appearing on a host of popular news and entertainment sites began serving up malicious code, infecting some visitors' computers with a backdoor program designed to gather information on their systems and install additional malicious code.

The attack affected visitors to The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, The Hindustan Times, Internet music service, and India-focused movie portal Bollywood Hungama, among other popular sites. At the center of the malware campaign: the compromise of San Francisco-based Internet advertising network Zedo, an advertising provider for the sites, whose network was then used to distribute malicious ads.

For ten days, the company investigated multiple malware reports, retracing the attacker's digital footsteps to identify the malicious files and shut the backdoor to its systems.

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Grooveshark, where employees uploaded thousands of songs, loses badly in court

9/30/2014 3:15pm
Flickr user: Michael Vroegop

The music-sharing service Grooveshark was sued by major record labels in 2011, and yesterday the hammer blow finally came down. A New York federal judge has ruled in favor of the music companies on just about every issue that came up in the lawsuit. Damages, and the scope of an injunction, are yet to be determined.

The 57-page opinion (PDF) penned by US District Judge Thomas Griesa certainly seems like the beginning of the end for Grooveshark. It isn't hard to rattle off names of the unauthorized music-sharing services—like Napster, Grokster, Kazaa, and Limewire—that have been dealt a death-blow by federal court rulings.

The case doesn't look like a close call. Grooveshark was hoping to be protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects online services from copyright lawsuits as long as they meet certain requirements, including responding to the takedown notices sent by copyright holders.

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Arduino to sell 3D printer—$800 in kit form or $1,000 pre-assembled

9/30/2014 3:08pm

Arduino, maker of the open source hardware platform of the same name, is teaming up with a startup called Sharebot to sell a 3D printer for about $1,000.

Announced today, Materia 101 will be demonstrated at the Maker Faire in Rome this weekend. An on-sale date has not been revealed.

"The printer will be available only on the Arduino Store both as a kit and pre-assembled," the announcement said. "Official pricing of the device will be disclosed at a later date but the kit will sell for less than 600 EUR/800 USD, while the pre-assembled version will be available for less than 700 EUR/1000 USD."

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That’s some weather we’re having. Is it climate change?

9/30/2014 3:05pm
We're going to need more road again soon. Infrastructure sometimes has to chase California's vanishing water supply. USGS

In the public's mind, it's impossible to separate the climate from the weather. Each significant weather event seems to be accompanied by discussions of its implications for climate change; is it an example of what to expect, or clear indications that climate change isn't happening?

Often lost in the public discussion is that determining the role of climate change in a specific weather event is a challenging but interesting scientific problem. It's also one with immense practical implications. As regions rebuild after a damaging event, it's important that these efforts be informed by what we should expect in the future.

This month's edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society tackles this problem, termed "attribution," in a big way: 22 different studies of weather events rolled into a single report entitled "Explaining Extreme Events of 2013."

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Tuesday Dealmaster has an Alienware 17 Core i7 gaming laptop for $1,923

9/30/2014 3:00pm

Greetings, Arsians! Our partners from LogicBuy are back with a ton of deals for this week. The featured item is an Alienware 17 gaming laptop for $1,923 with free shipping. You save $375 off the regular price and get a $50 gift card! This beast of a laptop has a Core i7, 16GB of RAM, a 1080p screen, and a AMD Radeon R9 M290X with 4GB of video memory. It's perfect for school!

(OK, it's probably a little much for school, but it would be way more fun to bring this to class and frag things than pay attention to the lecture.)

Featured deal

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Windows 10 command prompt finally gets dragged into the 21st century

9/30/2014 2:43pm

Microsoft talked briefly about the new features in its upcoming Windows 10 operating system, but it glossed over one thing that will surely be of great interest to sysadmins and developers alike: the further refinement of the Windows command line into a truly useful development and administration environment. Fortunately, engineer and blogger Rafael Rivera has spent some hands-on time with a technical preview, and he’s got a great post up explaining some of the new features—at least, as they stand right now.

The new Windows 10 command prompt options, from the current technical preview. Rafael Rivera

Rivera has a whole raft of additional screenshots demonstrating the additional command line features, but one of the simplest—and most anticipated—is proper text selection within command prompt windows. And we’re not just talking about Powershell, either—this is for every console window, including windows featuring good ol’ cmd.exe.

Previously, as anyone who’s dealt with a Windows command shell knows, selecting text at the prompt required a number of steps beyond simply clicking and dragging. You had to invoke a context menu, select "Mark" to tell Windows you wanted to mark text to select, and then lasso a selection box around what you wanted to pick. Text that spanned multiple lines was treated as not a single string, but rather multiple lines of text, with extraneous spacing and line breaks intact. This made for an annoying process—for more than basic selection, it was often easier to redirect whatever you were doing into a text file and do selection with a text editor.

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In about-face, PayPal to split from eBay in 2015—to compete with Apple Pay

9/30/2014 2:25pm
Kārlis Dambrāns

On Tuesday, eBay announced that in 2015 it would be splitting off its PayPal unit into a separate, publicly traded company. Investors lauded the move, sending eBay's stock price up nearly eight percent on the day, as of this writing.

PayPal has been an enormous player in the online payments and mobile payments sectors, but for years eBay's CEO John Donahoe resisted the clamor from investors to split PayPal into its own company. But after conferring with the company's board of directors, eBay has now changed its tune.

eBay acquired PayPal back in 2002, and it has been the company's fastest-growing segment, the Associated Press reported.

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Apple drops OS X Yosemite GM Candidate on devs, suggests release is nigh

9/30/2014 2:16pm
OS X Yosemite as of the Public Beta. Andrew Cunningham

Not content to let some other company hog all the tens, MacRumors reports that Apple has just released the OS X Yosemite GM Candidate to developers using the new operating system. OS X 10.10 has been available to developers since it was unveiled at WWDC in June, and the release of a proposed "Golden Master" build suggests that Yosemite's fall release date will come sooner rather than later.

Note that a "GM Candidate" doesn't necessarily mean that this is the build Apple will release to the public later in the fall. It does indicate, however, that Apple has squashed the show-stopping bugs and that any future builds will contain minor patches rather than major changes. Apple has always released beta builds of work-in-progress operating systems to its registered developers, but Yosemite also brought with it the first public OS X beta program in about 14 years. Expanding its feedback pool beyond the developer community should hopefully mean that Yosemite is more stable and less buggy on day one than past OS X (and iOS) releases have sometimes been.

There's no word on when the GM build will be released to users of the OS X Yosemite Public Beta as an update, but we'd guess that Apple won't send it out before the official release date. Apple also sent out a Public Beta 4 build to users alongside the GM Candidate for developers—though it carries essentially the same build number as the developer build (14A379b, compared to 14A379a), Apple isn't labeling it as a "Golden Master" just yet.

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Microsoft launches Windows Insider Program to get Windows betas

9/30/2014 2:04pm

SAN FRANCISCO—At its Windows 10 event, Microsoft announced that the company will start a new beta program to give IT and enthusiasts early access to the next version of Windows. Beginning tomorrow, the Windows Ten Technical Preview for desktops and laptops will be available through the Windows Insider Program, with a Technical Preview of Windows 10 for servers following at a later date.

The company reinforced that this is not a version of Windows that everyone should run to download; it's an early release, not production quality, and should only be used by the technically able.

The company says that the initial version is oriented toward enterprise testers and users. Consumer-oriented features, such as the new Internet Explorer 12 interface, will emerge in early 2015, with the company planning a final release for around mid-2015.

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Cops suspect that alleged thieves monitored them with a drone

9/30/2014 1:44pm
Don McCullough

Pennsylvania authorities suspect that two men accused of stealing mobile phones were monitoring law enforcement. Local media reported Tuesday that when they were arrested last month, one of the two suspects was carrying a camera-equipped drone that police saw flying over the Upper Saucon Township's police headquarters the day before the arrests.

The accused are Duane Holmes, 44, of North Bergen, and Chaviv Dykes, 20, of Newark. Police said they had $50,000 in mobile phones allegedly stolen from a Verizon Wireless store and other outlets that said were lifted "during a string of smash-and-grab burglaries."

Police said footage from the drone they were reviewing did not contain images of the township's police station. However, the footage included still shots of I-495 in Union City heading toward the Lincoln Tunnel, and West 38th Street in Manhattan, CBS reported. Other footage from the drone was of shopping areas, leading CBS to suggest that the suspects were also using the drones to surveil their targets.

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The next version of Windows will be… Windows 10

9/30/2014 1:24pm

SAN FRANCISCO—Microsoft today announced the name for the next version of Windows: not Windows 9 but Windows 10.

Terry Myerson, executive vice president for the Operating System Group, said that the new release represented such a shift in Microsoft's approach to delivering Windows and in what Windows will be—able to span everything from an Internet-of-Things gizmo to a phone to a tablet to a PC to a server—that calling it Windows 9 wouldn't be big enough to capture the differences.

Given the rest of the company's One-themed branding (Xbox One, OneDrive, OneNote, and such), Myerson said that calling the new OS Windows One was logical—but it turns out that a guy called Bill Gates already did that back in the 1980s. So the company went for Windows 10 instead.

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Will the FCC revive Aereo?

9/30/2014 12:58pm

TV-over-Internet startup Aereo was shut off following an adverse Supreme Court ruling this summer. The high court said it couldn't avoid paying for broadcast TV shows by claiming it was renting a tiny antenna to each customer.

It might get one last chance, though. The FCC is considering whether to regulate online providers of pre-scheduled programs the same way it handles cable and satellite companies, according to reports in National Journal and Multichannel News.

If true, it could be a breakthrough for Aereo. In the wake of the Supreme Court's ABC v. Aereo ruling, the company changed its strategy, embracing the idea that it should be considered a cable system. It wants to pay the same royalty fees for broadcast content that the cable companies pay.

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Not a joke: A Tetris movie is being made

9/30/2014 12:50pm
Early production still (not really)

Tetris, the block-stacking game that comes in near the top of many lists of greatest games ever, is being made into a live-action, feature-length, "sci-fi epic" motion picture, The Tetris Company announced today.

Before you ask, no, this is not a joke. You'd be forgiven for asking, though, because the very idea of a movie based on Tetris has been an Internet joke countless times in the past.

The film is being developed by Threshold Entertainment, best known to gaming crossover fans as the studio behind the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie. That film, which grossed $70 million, was one of the first to take a video game license to the silver screen, and it's still critically considered one of the best examples of the based-on-the-game sub-genre (though that's really somewhat damning with faint praise).

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FCC repeals sports blackout rule, challenges NFL to stop screwing over fans

9/30/2014 12:29pm
Just as Lucy pulls the ball away from Charlie Brown, the NFL takes broadcasts away from fans. Charles M. Schulz

The Federal Communications Commission today unanimously voted to eliminate its sports blackout rules, challenging the National Football League to end its own policies that sometimes prevent fans from watching home games on TV.

"Today’s FCC action makes clear: if leagues want to mistreat fans, they will have to do so without Uncle Sam’s help," said David Goodfriend, an attorney and lobbyist who founded a group called the Sports Fans Coalition that fought against the rules.

NFL broadcasts are blacked out in local markets when games are not sold out. The NFL in 2012 relaxed the rules by letting individual teams reduce the likelihood of a blackout by only requiring that 85 percent of tickets be sold. But the policies have persisted for decades with support from the federal government.

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Shellshock fixes beget another round of patches as attacks mount

9/30/2014 12:23pm

Over the past few days, Apple, Red Hat, and others have pushed out patches to vulnerabilities in the GNU Bourne Again Shell (bash). The vulnerabilities previously allowed attackers to execute commands remotely on systems that use the command parser under some conditions—including Web servers that use certain configurations of Apache. However, some of the patches made changes that broke from the functionality of the GNU bash code, so now debate continues about how to “un-fork” the patches and better secure bash.

At the same time, the urgency of applying those patches has mounted as more attacks that exploit the weaknesses in bash’s security (dubbed “Shellshock”) have appeared. In addition to the threat first spotted the day after the vulnerability was made public, a number of new attacks have emerged. While some appear to simply be vulnerability scans, there are also new exploit attempts that carry malware or attempt to give the attacker direct remote control of the targeted system.

Stormy weather

On Monday, the SANS Technology Institute’s Internet Storm Center (ISC) elevated its INFOcon threat level—a measure of the danger level of current Internet “worms” and other threats based on Internet traffic—to Yellow. This level indicates an attack that poses a minor threat to the Internet’s infrastructure as a whole with potential significant impact on some systems. Johannes Ullrich, Dean of Research at SANS, noted that six exploits based on Shellshock have been recorded by the ISC’s servers and “honeypot” systems. (A honeypot is a virtual or physical computer system set up to entice attackers and record their actions.)

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Facebook’s ad platform will know who you are, what you buy, even offline

9/30/2014 11:56am
A few of a marketer's favorite things. Atlas Solutions

Facebook has officially relaunched the advertising platform Atlas in a new incarnation that will allow marketers to track users in new dimensions, according to a blog post from the company. Atlas will offer the ability to not only synthesize information about where users are seeing ads, but also to see how and whether those ad views play out into a purchase, even if it's offline.

Facebook acquired Atlas from Microsoft in 2013, and now the platform has been "rebuilt from the ground up." Atlas aims to accomplish what it calls "people-based marketing"—that is, the counterpoint to marketing based on a browser cookie or isolated social media profile.

Atlas's services purport to solve the "cross-device" problem, where marketers struggle to relate the browsing activity on a user's phone to what they do on their computer. This has become easier to an extent with Facebook profiles and logins, but Atlas also plans to add "partners" that "cross search, social, creative management and publishers" to track how ads are viewed and how successful they are on multiple "channels and platforms."

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Chromecast getting competition from Firefox OS-powered Matchstick

9/30/2014 11:30am

The Matchstick. The streaming stick market is apparently heating up. Google, Microsoft, and Amazon all have entrants in this space, and if a new Kickstarter appeal succeeds, there will soon be a Firefox OS stick getting in on the action.

Inspired by the Chromecast, the Matchstick will plug into your TV using HDMI, connect to devices locally using Wi-Fi, and be used as a streaming media platform. Unlike Chromecast, however, Matchstick will use the open source Firefox OS as its base, making it readily accessible to developers who will be able to build HTML apps for Matchstick that leverage open Web technologies.

The developers hope it will deliver what they wanted Chromecast to achieve: any content on any HD screen, anywhere, any time. They've put together an SDK for both sending apps (that run on phones or PCs to transmit content to the Matchstick) and receiver apps (that run on the Matchstick itself).

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New docs show how Reagan-era executive order unbounded NSA

9/30/2014 11:16am
Jonathan McIntosh

A set of newly declassified documents shows definitively and explicitly that the United States intelligence community relies heavily on what is effectively unchecked presidential authority to conduct surveillance operations, as manifested through the Reagan-era Executive Order (EO) 12333.

And at a more basic level, the new documents illustrate that the government is adept at creating obscure legalistic definitions of plain language words, like "collection of information," which help obfuscate the public’s understanding of the scope and scale of such a dragnet.

The documents were first published on Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after the group filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit with the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School.

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