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The Art of Technology
Updated: 3 hours 40 min ago

Last-minute Nexus rumors: $379 for the 5X, $499 for the 6P

9/28/2015 2:44pm

How cheap will the new Nexuses be? (credit: Ron Amadeo)

We're less than 24 hours away from Google's September 29 Nexus launch, but the intrepid Android watchers over at Android Police haven't let that stop them from releasing a flurry of Nexus spoilers all morning. The biggest news is that the site claims it has the pricing for the Nexus 5X and 6P nailed down. According to Android Police, the Nexus 5X by LG will go for $379.99 and the Nexus 6P by Huawei will go for $499.99.

This would mark a big drop from the disappointingly expensive 2014 Nexus 6, which went for $649.99. $379.99 for the Nexus 5X is a nearly as cheap as the 2013 Nexus 5, which went for $349. At that time, the Nexus 5 was the best bang-for-your-buck out there, but competition is a little tougher today. For $399.99 you can get a 2015 Moto X—a 5.7-inch device that seems like a better deal. There's also the myriad of value-oriented Xiaomi devices, but they're a little harder to get in the US. So while we know the how much the "buck" is in the Nexus 5X equation, the jury is still out on how much "bang" you'll be getting. (What if the camera is really good? We can dream...)

Android Police says the devices will be up for preorder tomorrow, the day of the announcement, but the site doesn't specify a ship date. The initial countries for the Nexus 5X are supposedly the US, UK, Japan, Ireland, and Korea, while the 6P gets launched in the US, UK, Japan, Ireland, and Canada. We have no idea why Canada and Korea only get one device each.

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US gov’t: Kim Dotcom paid pirates $3M for movies, should be extradited

9/28/2015 1:27pm

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom at his extradition hearing in Auckland. (credit: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

In a New Zealand courtroom, the US government has begun making its case as to why Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom should face criminal copyright charges. Dotcom, who was arrested at his Auckland home after a dramatic raid in 2012, has long argued he shouldn't be extradited to the Eastern District of Virginia.

Today, Crown lawyer Christine Gordon, representing the US, read out loud communications between Megaupload executives and users who uploaded copyrighted material to the site. One of those power users, nicknamed "TH" by the FBI, was paid $50,000 in rewards between 2006 and 2011 because of the traffic his files drove to Megaupload, Gordon told the court.

TH alone was the subject of 1,200 copyright takedown requests, she said. According to the New Zealand Herald, Gordon told the court that nothing was done to stop TH's infringement, and Megaupload increased the user's server space to 2.5 terabytes to make room for the 30,000 files he hosted. When TH asked for more money, Dotcom responded tersely. In an e-mail read aloud by Gordon, he stated: "You and your friends are at most one per cent of our traffic so please don't overestimate your importance to us... I think we have been fair to you."

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Valve blames developers for lingering VR nausea issues

9/28/2015 1:05pm

Any excuse to show Ars' Sebastian Anthony in a Vive headset is a good one. (credit: Sebastian Anthony)

As the new wave of virtual reality headsets has gone from low-res, motion-blurred prototypes to the cusp of consumer release, the technology has been constantly dogged by worries about nausea caused by moving around a virtual environment. Now, Valve says those worries should be put to rest, at least as far as the company's own VR hardware is concerned. Instead, any nausea you may experience on the upcoming HTC Vive should be blamed on developers who aren't building VR apps correctly, according to Valve's Chet Faliszek.

"As consumers and people in the community, hold developers to it," Faliszek told a crowd at Birmingham's EGX expo last week (as reported by "They shouldn't be making you sick. It's no longer the hardware's fault any more. It's the developers making choices that are making you sick. Tell them that you don't want that."

According to Faliszek, "the easiest way to get somebody sick" in virtual reality is by trying to tie conventional control methods to a VR environment; pushing a thumbstick to walk forward while you're sitting in a chair, for instance, or tapping a button and seeing a VR hand reach out for an object. Being able to walk around a room and actually use your hands to interact with virtual objects makes VR "exponentially better," he said.

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German government investigating VW for fraud

9/28/2015 12:16pm

(credit: "Kraftwerk Volkswagen VW" by Kintaiyo)

The bad news for Volkswagen AG (VAG) just keeps coming. Yesterday there were claims that VW parts supplier Bosch warned the company in 2007 not to sell cars to customers that still had the emissions-defeating software installed, and today Reuters reports that German prosecutors are investigating the company on possible fraud charges. Last week, the US Department of Justice announced that it is also investigating possible fraud at VW.

Although US diesel emissions regulations are much stricter than those in the EU—the latter mainly focused on CO2 targets—Alexander Dobrindt, the German transport minister, has accused the company of falsifying its EU tests as well.

At issue are VAG's 1.8L and 2L four-cylinder diesel engines. VAG claimed to be able to meet US emissions rules without the use of expensive urea injection, something rivals like Mercedes had to employ in order to comply. VAG uses common engines across its different brands, and now Audi has also said that 2.1 million (of the total 11 million) diesel-engined cars sold with the so-called "defeat device" were from its showrooms. It's reasonable to expect that the scandal will affect other VAG brands Skoda and Seat, and we are still watching to see if the larger V6 diesel engines used by VAG also fall foul of the law.

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Sprint to skip spectrum auction in possible blow to wireless competition

9/28/2015 12:10pm

(credit: Sprint)

Sprint has decided to skip a major auction of low-band spectrum in a move that could save the company billions of dollars but make it harder to compete against cellular market leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

Sprint has more spectrum than the other major nationwide carriers, but not as much of the so-called "beachfront spectrum" in low-frequency bands, which is better for covering long distances and penetrating building walls. A Federal Communications Commission auction scheduled for early next year will shift a large portion of those desirable airwaves in the 600MHz range from TV broadcasters to wireless carriers.

Sprint will not bid on the airwaves, however. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement issued Saturday that the company already "has the spectrum it needs to deploy its network architecture of the future.”

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Comet 67P looks to have been glued together, not sculpted

9/28/2015 11:16am

Enlarge / Take a look at both the bright plateaus in the middle of this image and the steps cutting into a ledge near the bottom. These are part of a coherent system of features that extend into the comet's interior. (credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

Last week, we covered the latest piece of research to come out of the Rosetta mission studying comet 67P, which involved some interesting ice action in the shadows of the comet’s skinny “neck.” That action probably encourages extra erosion in the shadows, which may explain why the neck is so thin. It puts another mark in the column for the hypothesis that the comet’s strange shape is the result of sculpting from an initially conventional shape.

The other hypothesis is that comet 67P is actually two comets, long ago welded together after a chance meeting. New research published in this week’s Nature puts a rather large mark in the column for this hypothesis.

One of the many awesome things Rosetta’s cameras have detected on the comet’s surface is a myriad of small terraces reminiscent of layered rock outcroppings on Earth. There are a number of possible explanations for these features—after all, we still have much to learn about how comets form and evolve over time.

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Water flows on present-day Mars

9/28/2015 11:00am

Enlarge / 3D perspective showing some of the seasonal features that appear in the Hale Crater on Mars. (credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

About five years ago, scientists noticed something unusual on Mars. Images taken at different times of the Martian year by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera showed dark areas developing on steep slopes in the summer and then vanishing during the Martian winter. The pattern of these dark areas looked like what you'd expect from a liquid flowing downhill.

At the time, water seemed like an obvious explanation for the dark areas, which would make this the first evidence of liquid water in the present of Mars. But to confirm this theory, scientists needed to get a reading on the chemical composition of the dark streaks. Now, researchers have overcome some major technical hurdles to get these readings, and the results indicate that the streaks contain water-rich salts.

The dark features have picked up the name "recurring slope lineae," or RSL. They appear on steep slopes, such as crater walls, and form braided patterns that look like water flows. RSL are absent in the winter and spring and only appear near the Martian equator during the summer, at which point the temperatures in the area can often climb above the freezing point of water. Any liquid water should evaporate into the sparse Martian atmosphere quickly, but dissolved salts will inhibit evaporation and can lower the freezing point of water by as much as 80K.

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Apple says iPhone 6S and 6S Plus break sales records

9/28/2015 10:19am

Enlarge / The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Apple announced today that the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus have sold a total of 13 million units in their first weekend, continuing the company's tradition of outdoing the previous year's sales every time it introduces a new iPhone model.

There are a few factors that contribute to the increased sales. First, Apple had another week to rack up online preorders ahead of the iPhone's first weekend in stores—the phones usually launch about a week after preorders begin, but this year there were two weeks between the start of preorders and in-store availability. The devices were also available in China, Apple's fastest-growing market, on launch day, something that wasn't true last year.

Apple also provided some details on the iPhone's launch in additional territories. On October 9, the 6S and 6S Plus will be available in Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Taiwan.

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Fossil teases features and fashion of new “Q” wearables range

9/28/2015 9:45am

(credit: Fossil)

Smartwatches like the Apple Watch and the Moto 360 will soon have competition from fashion brand Fossil, and we now have a glimpse into what Fossil has planned. On Fossil Australia's blog, the company showed off a few photos of its new line of wearables, dubbed Fossil Q.

Fossil previously teased its upcoming Android Wear smartwatch at the Intel Developer Forum in August, but we are now learning that the wearables range won't be bound to one operating system. The post details that Fossil Q will consist of devices that will have their own companion apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phones. This will undoubtedly be enticing for users who are thinking about investing in a stylish smartwatch but don't want to be limited by their choice of smartphone.

We know that the range will have the non-display Android Wear watch that was teased at IDF, as well as a smart band that comes in his and her styles. As far as compatibly goes, it's unlikely that the Android Wear watch will work with Windows devices since Google has been notoriously closed-off to Microsoft programs and services. Also, Android Wear on iOS is severely limited, so Fossil will likely be just as constrained as other Android Wear OEMs in terms of software functionality.

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Samsung Pay launches in the US today—can it challenge Apple and Android?

9/28/2015 8:38am

(credit: Samsung)

It’s been a little over a month since Samsung Pay’s launch in South Korea, and today the mobile payment service is available to owners of select Samsung phones in the US. But a year after Apple Pay launched, and without the broad reach of Android Pay, which launched earlier this month, does Samsung have a product that anyone will use?

First, let’s start with the restrictions: at launch, Samsung Pay will only be available on Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 devices, as well as Galaxy S6 and S6 edge devices. In addition, Samsung still hasn’t brokered a deal with Verizon to allow compatibility on that network, so it will only work if your select Samsung device operates on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or US Cellular. When it comes to card networks, Samsung Pay is at least playing with a full deck here: both MasterCard and Visa, the two biggest card networks in the US, are on board. But Samsung Pay needs the approval from card issuers as well, and so far only people with cards at US Bank, Citi, Bank of America, and American Express will be able to use Samsung Pay.

All those caveats mean that the number of people in the US who will be able to take advantage of Samsung Pay at launch is not very big. Add to that the fact that on Samsung’s phones, its service will be in direct competition with Android Pay, Google’s second, more mature mobile payments service. (Google Wallet launched) in 2011.

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Ditch Linux for Windows 10 on your Raspberry Pi with Microsoft’s IoT kit

9/28/2015 8:24am

While those interested in running Microsoft's Windows 10 IoT Core—its free OS for hobbyist boards like the Raspberry Pi 2 and MinnowBoard Max—will likely have the chops to put together their own custom hardware configuration, the company wants to give newbies a helping hand. Microsoft has partnered with Adafruit to release the Windows IoT Core Starter Kit, which gives users everything they need to get started with IoT development.

The $75 (~£50) kit comes comes complete with an SD card preloaded with Windows 10 IoT Core, a Raspberry Pi 2 case, full size 40-pin breadboard, miniature WiFi module, BMP280 environmental sensor, RGB colour sensor, eight channel 10-Bit ADC with SPI interface, and a whole host of different resistors and LEDs. Those who needed Raspberry Pi 2 can pick up a $114.95 (~£70) with one included. A full list of the included components is below.

  • 8GB class 10 SD/MicroSD Memory Card w/ Windows 10 IOT Core
  • Adafruit Raspberry Pi B+ Case
  • Full Size Breadboard
  • Premium Male/Male Jumper Wires
  • Premium Female/Male 'Extension' Jumper Wires
  • Miniature WiFi Module
  • 5V 2A Switching Power Supply
  • Assembled Adafruit BMP280 Temperature & Humidity sensor
  • Assembled TCS34725 RGB Color Sensor
  • MCP3008 - 8 Channel 10-Bit ADC With SPI Interface
  • 1x Photo Cell
  • 2x Breadboard Trim Potentiometer
  • 5x 10K 5% 1/4W Resistor
  • 5x 560 ohm 5% 1/4W Resistor
  • 1x Diffused 10mm Blue LED
  • 1x Electrolytic Capacitor - 1.0uF
  • 1x Diffused 10mm Red LED
  • 1x Diffused 10mm Green LED
  • 3x 12mm Tactile Switches

Microsoft is hoping that kit, along with some free sample code, will encourage users to ditch Linux on their IoT projects in favour of Windows 10. While that's a big ask, the company has been heavily courting the hobbyist community of late. Earlier this year, Microsoft revealed that it was bringing Windows 10 to the ever popular Arduino microcontroller boards, starting with the release of two open source libraries that connect Arduinos to Windows 10 devices.

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A (3D) touch above: The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus reviewed

9/28/2015 8:00am

Enlarge / The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Every two years, Apple redesigns the iPhone. And in between each new design is an "S" model, one that looks basically the same as the previous version but overhauls the insides to keep things fresh. 2015 is an S year.

New designs typically generate the bigger buzz since it's easier to convince people that something is worth an upgrade when it looks and feels new. But to its credit, Apple is careful to make these less-buzzworthy S refreshes about more than just adding speed or bumping up the camera. The iPhone 4S added Siri. The iPhone 5S brought TouchID and 64-bit support. And the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are mostly about the pressure-sensitive screen, dubbed “3D Touch.”

Still, the right iPhone upgrade interval for most people continues to be once every other year or so. There’s nothing in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus that you absolutely need if you’re already using a 6 or 6 Plus and those transformative, bigger screens. But if you’re an iPhone 5S owner looking to upgrade, the 6S and 6S Plus offer some nice stuff that wasn’t available last year. Even if you’re waiting around for next year’s hypothetical iPhone 7, you’ll have some cool features in store for you on top of whatever innovations that phone ushers in.

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The “Terasem” group wants to help transform you into an AI

9/28/2015 6:00am

It's BINA48, the ICBM-obsessed robot.

Lots of people who consider themselves futurists expect a day will come when people will be able to transfer their consciousness to non-biological entities—uploading their minds into whatever the post-singularity version of a computer is. Leaving aside whether "the singularity" as a concept makes any sense (hint: it doesn't), what might this transfer process actually look like? Would it involve scanning the brain with some kind of imager, or hooking up wires to specific locations in the nervous system, or something else entirely?

Recently Ars was made aware of a group out there that claims to be actually preparing for the happy day when human consciousness can inhabit a machine. In fact, it's already experimenting a bit with some initial attempts at making that happen. And the results are thoroughly bizarre.

Meet Bina48. She's sort of like Skynet. (video link)

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Paranoid Android redux: “going dark” with Silent Circle’s Blackphone 2

9/28/2015 1:00am

The back of the Blackphone 2, Silent CIrcle's latest take on the privacy-focused smartphone. (credit: Sean Gallagher)

Specs at a glance: Silent Circle Blackphone 2 Screen 2560×1440 5.5” Full HD IPS OS Silent OS (based on Android Lollipop) CPU

Qualcomm® Snapdragon 615, 1.7GHz Octa-core

RAM 3GB GPU Adreno 405 Storage 32GB, with up to 128GB additional via microSD Networking

Dual-band 2.4/5.0GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0LE. LTE and worldwide 3G/HSPA+ cellular data.

Ports Micro USB 2.0, headphones Camera 13MP rear camera with BSI and flash, 5MP front camera, Size

7.9 x 76.4 x 152.4mm


164.9 gm


3060 mAh with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0

Starting price $799 Other perks Silent OS 2.0, 1 year SilentPhone encrypted communications,

For the majority of smartphone manufacturers, security and privacy are check boxes on a feature list. For Blackphone, they're the main attraction. Launched last year as a joint venture between the secure communications service Silent Circle and the Spanish specialty phone manufacturer Geeksphone, Blackphone's eponymous first product was an Android-based smartphone intended to provide the security and privacy that were lacking in Google's mobile operating system. Last June, we got an exclusive first look at that device and found it to be largely what it claimed to be. Unsurprisingly for a security-minding phone, the original Blackphone felt somewhat lacking in the usability department and somewhat janky in the hardware department.

A lot has changed in a year. Silent Circle—founded by Phil Zimmerman (creator of PGP), former Entrust Chief Technology Officer John Callas (the man behind much of the security in Mac OS X and iOS), and former Navy SEAL and security entrepreneur Mike Janke—bought out Geeksphone and absorbed the joint venture. The company hired a new CEO (former Entrust CEO and Nortel President Bill Conner), renamed and rebuilt its Android-based operating system, upgraded the infrastructure of its encrypted voice and text communications network, and built an entirely new hardware platform based on a somewhat more industry-standard chipset. All of that has led the team toward Blackphone 2. Today, Silent Circle begins shipping its new flagship (and only) handset; and Ars once again got early access to put it through the usability and security wringer.

The new Silent OS adds updated security functionality, better management for enterprise users, and integration with Google's app ecosystem. The Blackphone 2 delivers all that in a package that is much more polished and commercial than its predecessor. The phone is also the first part of a rollout of a more complete set of security services that includes upgraded versions of its central Silent Phone app for iOS and standard Android.

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Where airplanes go to die: Walking around a 747 graveyard

9/27/2015 5:40pm

An Olympic Airways 747-212B, built in 1979. Edit: Actually a Cathay Pacific 747?

25 more images in gallery

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The Boeing 747 is a monster of a plane: its wingspan is almost exactly twice as wide as a 737 or Airbus A320, and it's more than twice as long. From a distance, though, it's hard to appreciate just how big the 747 is; it's a textbook example of "these planes are small, and those planes are far away." Looking out from the airport departure lounge at the apron, you might occasionally see a 747 standing behind a smaller, short-haul jetliner and begin to realise just how big they are—but trust me, it isn't until you actually walk around and underneath a 747 that you truly understand their enormity.

A few weeks ago, I found myself at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, checking out Durham University's solar car. While the students were putting the finishing touches on their car, I decided to take my own vehicle for a spin. As I pelted around the track, and obtained some quite silly speeds on an IndyCar-like corner and then down the two-mile-long runway, I noticed that there were all sorts of old, dilapidated planes strewn about the airfield. Here an old RAF transport jet, there a smaller private plane. I even spotted a couple of legendary VC10s. But most of all, there were lots and lots of old 747s.

I didn't know it at the time (there was no one around to ask)—but after I got home and did some research, I found that Bruntingthorpe, in addition to being an automotive proving ground and private aerodrome, was also an aircraft graveyard. Not a huge boneyard like Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in the US, which stores thousands of aircraft in various stages of scrapping and cannibalism, but still more than enough to pique my inner nerdy-engineery interests.

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Gravity waves missing in action in latest test

9/27/2015 2:52pm

The Parkes radio telescope, used in these observations. (credit: SCIRO)

The Universe should be teeming with gravity waves. As near as we can tell, just about every galaxy has at least one supermassive black hole at its core. Most large galaxies were formed by multiple mergers, which would put more than one of these supermassive black holes in close proximity. As they get close enough to start spiraling in towards a merger, their orbital interactions should produce gravity waves. As long as this process doesn't end in a merger too quickly, the Universe's population of merging black holes should fill space with a gravity wave background.

Our Earth-bound detectors aren't sensitive enough to pick this background up. Conveniently, however, nature has provided us with its own detector: pulsars. Unfortunately, a detailed study of a handful of pulsars has failed to turn up any sign of gravity waves, suggesting it might be time to revisit some of our models.

A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star. Each revolution, it sends flashes of light towards Earth, often separated by a handful of milliseconds. The timing of these pulses can sometimes be tracked with a precision of 20 nanoseconds, providing an extremely tight constraint on their expected behavior. If a gravity wave happened to ripple through the right patch of space-time as the light pulse was on its way to Earth, it could distort the timing enough to be detectable.

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Report: VW was warned about cheating emissions in 2007

9/27/2015 1:25pm

(credit: youkaine @ Flickr)

The Volkswagen scandal—selling 11 million diesel-engined cars designed to fool US emissions regulations—is moving into the "who knew what, and when" phase. Newspapers in Germany are reporting that Bosch (the company that supplies electronics to the auto industry) warned VW only to use the cheat mode internally back in 2007, and that a whistleblower tried to raise the alarm internally in 2011. These findings both emerged from an internal audit at VW in response to the scandal.

The scandal is a heavy blow for Germany's largest car maker. After a year-long investigation, the EPA ordered VW last week to recall 500,000 cars sold in the US as they did not meet federal emissions regulations. Then we found out that the cheat software was actually present on 11 millions cars worldwide. VW has lost its chairman, a big chunk of market value, and probably the trust of many customers.

If more evidence emerges that intentionally fooling US regulators—and customers—was official VW policy, things might start looking even worse.

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Trevor Paglen: the artist visualizing the surveillance state

9/27/2015 11:00am

(credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

For the last 14 years, the US—and much of the rest of the world—has been engaged in a secret war. This is a profound change for a culture that grew up watching armed conflict in Vietnam, then Kuwait, and then the Balkans unfold during the evening news. Visualizing this secret war, the architecture of the surveillance state it depends upon, and the symbology of the people who wage it has been the theme of artist Trevor Paglen's work for some time now. A small overview of his work is currently on exhibit in New York, and Paglen recently gave the Clarice Smith Distinguished Lecture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. We were on-hand at both to check them out.

Trevor Paglen gives the Clarice Smith Distinguished Lecture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.

Paglen has been documenting what he terms the "black" world—where projects and even their budgets are classified from public scrutiny—for quite some time. His 2007 book, I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me, consisted largely of embroidered, real-life patches from secretive aerospace and intelligence-gathering projects, often having to do with the missions or statements of morale. Paglen became interested in the iconography of this secret culture while visiting the Antelope Valley in California, part of the empty Southwestern US that the secret world has chosen for its own.

Often unofficial, the patches are often nonetheless revealing. Projects based out of Groom Lake in Nevada—better known to some as Area 51—will often have a group of five stars kept company by another single star, for instance. A more obvious example is the Boeing Bird of Prey, a classified experimental aircraft built in the mid-1990s. When the project was declassified in 2002, it was suddenly apparent the plane's unconventional shape had been hiding in plain sight on the mission patch all along.

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Analysis: China-US hacking accord is tall on rhetoric, short on substance

9/27/2015 7:00am


It's always a good thing when governments, especially superpowers, strike agreements toward the goal of peace and prosperity.

The accord President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Friday—a "common understanding" to curb state-sponsored, corporate cyber espionage toward one another—inches us toward that goal if we assume both sides would uphold their end of the bargain.

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America’s most secretive court invites its first outsider

9/26/2015 3:30pm

(credit: Wikimedia)

A well-known Washington, DC lawyer has been appointed to be the first of a total of five amici curae—friends of the court—who will act as a sort of ombudsman or public advocate at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

The move was one of the provisions in the USA Freedom Act, which passed in June 2015 as a package of modest reforms to the national security system.

The attorney, Preston Burton, was named to the post by the FISC earlier this month, which was not widely reported until The Intercept noticed it on Friday.

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