On Thursday, a settlement was reached between Creative Commons co-founder Lawerence Lessig and Liberation Media, an Australian music label that owns the rights to French band Phoenix' song “Lisztomania.”
Last summer, Liberation had a video of one of Lessig's lectures (called "Open," which is embedded above) taken down when the company found that he had used video clips with Phoenix's music in it. Lessig, in collaboration with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, challenged the takedown and sued Liberation, arguing that he was well within his right to use Phoenix's music under fair use policies. (Phoenix, for its part, wrote that it was happy to have its music remixed under fair use principles.)
The outgoing head of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander, told a United States Senate committee on Thursday that he was open to government spooks narrowing the focus of the metadata that they gather.
The NSA’s chief’s brief comment (which came at 51’30” in the recorded session) was in response to a question from Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, concerning how telephone metadata is gathered and stored.
At present, the NSA's dragnet metadata program routinely collects the to/from information, date, and time of all Verizon calls (and presumably calls from other carriers as well). It was the first secret scheme revealed as a result of the documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden last summer. Since then, this intelligence gathering operation has been the subject of much debate in Washington, DC.
The US Secret Service is investigating a possible attack on the corporate network of Sears Holdings Corp. after high-profile hacks of Target, Neiman Marcus, and possibly other retailers have compromised tens of millions of credit cards, Bloomberg News reported.
"There have been rumors and reports throughout the retail industry of security incidents at various retailers and we are actively reviewing our systems to determine if we have been a victim of a breach," a Sears spokesman said in a statement, according to a report published Friday. "We have found no information based on our review of our systems to date indicating a breach."
Neither the Bloomberg report nor the statement from Sears said when the investigation began or provided other details. KrebsOnSecurity reporter Brian Krebs, who originally broke news of the Target breach, cautioned that there's reason to believe there may be no breach at Sears.
Will particle physicists ever have a new toy that will take them to energies beyond those accessible through the Large Hadron Collider? History suggests it's unlikely. To save costs, the LHC was built in an existing tunnel that had hosted an earlier, less powerful accelerator. The US cancelled the construction of hardware that would have outperformed the LHC (the Superconducting Super Collider, or SSC) due to cost overruns, and it shut down its Tevatron once the LHC started up. Now, decisions on the linear collider that will be used to study the Higgs in detail are being made based on which country is likely to come up with the most money.
But physicists are apparently an optimistic bunch. Earlier this year, CERN announced that it was beginning to evaluate an LHC replacement that would require a tunnel so large—100km in circumference—that it would have to pass under Lake Geneva itself. Potentially in response, a team of US-based physicists have come up with an even more audacious plan: don't build the linear collider, resurrect the SSC's now abandoned tunnels, and use them to both host a Higgs factory and as a booster for a truly massive, 270km collider.
We'll cover the slightly less bonkers idea (CERN's) first. The protons that run around the LHC don't naturally follow a circular path; they have to be pulled around bends by powerful magnets. The more energy you put into the protons, the faster they move and the stronger your magnet needs to be to pull them around the bend. Unfortunately, there are limits to how strong we can make the magnets. When we run up against those limits, we either have to settle for lower energy or make the bends less sharp. Making the bends less sharp means making a bigger circle.
Microsoft is expected to expand the lineup of Windows 8.1 versions with at least one, and probably two, new editions of the operating system.
The first is a straightforward affair. At the moment, Windows Enterprise is only available to organizations buying Software Assurance agreements. Microsoft has confirmed to ZDNet that from March 1, Windows Enterprise will be sold to any company with an Open, Select, or Select Plus plan. This will enable companies that don't want to pay for Software Assurance's features such as the automatic upgrade entitlements and extras such as the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack to have a way to get their hands on the Enterprise edition.
Microsoft is also making changes to the interactions between Software Assurance and Windows Pro; you can read the full, complicated story at Directions on Microsoft, written by perhaps the only people on earth with a solid understanding of how Microsoft's licensing works.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation, with help from chipmaker Broadcom, is laying out a path toward an open source graphics driver for the tiny computer.
Broadcom today "announced the release of full documentation for the VideoCore IV graphics core, and a complete source release of the graphics stack under a 3-clause BSD license," Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton wrote in a blog post.
If you've been thinking about buying an Apple TV, Apple is trying to sweeten the deal for the next few days. Between now and March 5, anyone who buys an Apple TV in one of Apple's stores or on its online store will get a $25 iTunes gift card with their purchase.
According to the terms and conditions (PDF), Apple TV hardware purchased from other locations isn't eligible for the gift card, and neither is refurbished hardware purchased from Apple. The deal is only available to individuals, and not to businesses or other organizations.
Apple hasn't provided a major update for its Apple TV hardware since March of 2012, and several rumors have said that a revised version will be out by the end of the year—this deal may just be a way to clear out some inventory ahead of a new launch. The upgraded hardware will reportedly come with a revamped, iOS-based operating system and some new content deals. We don't know whether the current Apple TV will get the same software and content upgrades, so if you take advantage of this weekend's deal you should know what you're getting into.
The Tor Foundation is moving forward with a plan to provide its own instant messaging service. Called the Tor Instant Messaging Bundle, the tool will allow people to communicate in real time while preserving anonymity by using chat servers concealed within Tor’s hidden network.
In planning since last July—as news of the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance of instant messaging traffic emerged—the Tor Instant Messaging Bundle (TIMB) should be available in experimental builds by the end of March, based on a roadmap published in conjunction with the Tor Project’s Winter Dev meeting in Iceland.
TIMB will connect to instant messaging servers configured as Tor “hidden services” as well as to commercial IM services on the open Internet.
An Illinois man has filed a class-action lawsuit against MtGox, alleging consumer fraud, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract, among other allegations. The case appears to be the first such class-action suit filed in the United States against the failed Bitcoin exchange.
MtGox filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan on Friday.
In a 32-page filing submitted Thursday to the Northern District of Illinois, Gregory Greene says that he first encountered MtGox in late 2011 and signed up for an account. Greene, like many others, attempted to withdraw his bitcoins from MtGox once the company announced that it had sustained a massive security breach. However, given the company’s sudden shutdown and subsequent application for bankruptcy protection, Greene was unable to do so.
Security researchers have designed a stealthy eavesdropping attack that sounds like it's straight out of a James Bond movie. It starts with a booby-trapped document that compromises an unpatched laser printer, which in turn converts a popular Internet phone into a covert bugging device.
The proof-of-concept attack exploits currently unpatched vulnerabilities in the Avaya one-X 9608, a popular model of phone that uses the Internet rather than a standard phone line to make and receive calls. Researcher Ang Cui, a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University and chief scientist at Red Balloon Security, declined to provide many details on the vulnerabilities until users have had time to install a patch that Avaya is expected to release soon. He did say the weaknesses allow devices on the same local network to remotely execute code that causes the device to surreptitiously record all sounds within earshot and transmit them to a server controlled by attackers. He demonstrated a similar bugging vulnerability last year in competing Internet phones designed by Cisco Systems, which has since patched the underlying bugs.
Cui, who is scheduled to present his research Friday at the RSA security conference in San Francisco, said the attack underscores the growing susceptibility of phones, routers, and other embedded devices to the types of malware attacks that once threatened only computers. He and Salvatore Stolfo, who is a Columbia University professor of computer science and a Red Balloon director, have devised software dubbed Symbiote, which runs on Internet phones and other embedded devices and alerts users whenever changes are made to the firmware. Symbiote is part of a larger defense the pair has developed called AESOP, short for the Advanced Embedded Sec Ops.
Netflix Sleep Bookmark
Netflix held an internal "hack day" this month, according to a report from TechCrunch, attempting to solve some of the service's problems, sand its rough edges, and leverage other technologies to make the experience better. The company produced a handful of videos exhibiting the hacks, which were all created in 24 hours per the rules of the event.
One hack that will resonate deeply with Netflix's audience is one that pauses a video if the service detects the viewer has fallen asleep. The hack requires integration with a Fitbit, which can track sleep as well as a couple other metrics. If data from the bracelet shows the viewer is deep in slumber, Netflix pauses the video and offers the "sleep bookmark" as a place to resume watching when the viewer awakens.
Another hack could benefit services other than Netflix. Scrolling through an alphabetical onscreen keyboard and pecking out letters is a user-hostile experience that is all too familiar to console users. Netflix's Radial takes advantage of joystick motions to make text input on a console controller easier, placing letters on a wheel to scroll through instead.
One of the most common complaints from Internet users is how slow streaming video services like YouTube and Netflix can be. There are various reasons for bad performance, ranging from technical glitches to business conflicts, but when low-quality video is the result, it's frustrating and hard to avoid.
That doesn't mean that users can't try a variety of methods to speed up that video. This week, we asked Ars readers to share their streaming video strategies, and we got more than 100 responses. Here are some of the most interesting.VPNs, DNS, and proxy servers
As we've written, a VPN (virtual private network) or third-party DNS (Domain Name System) service can improve streaming performance by routing traffic away from congested links. This can also have the opposite of its intended effect because it tends to force video traffic over a longer path by distance. But numerous users said the strategy has indeed worked wonders for them."YouTube is absolutely terrible from 7pm to 11pm ET," rodalpho, a Time Warner Cable customer, commented. Blocking the IP addresses of certain YouTube caches didn't work, nor did switching DNS providers, but a VPN did the trick.
Apple, Google and the UK's Office of Fair Trading are meeting with the European Commission to discuss complaints and issues surrounding free-to-play games.
The meeting addresses concerns from "all over Europe" regarding games which are free to download but which press the user to make in-app purchases.
"Consumers and in particular children need better protection against unexpected costs from in-app purchases," said Commissioner Neven Mimica, responsible for consumer policy, in a statement.
Black holes got their name because they have such intense gravity that, once inside their event horizons, not even light can escape. Somewhat ironically, they're also some of the brightest objects in the Universe. That's entirely because of things that happen outside of the event horizon. There, the hole's intense gravity draws matter into a disk and raises it to very high energies. The disk emits lots of light on its own and sends out jets of high energy particles that emit even more as they interact with the surrounding interstellar material.
But this process has a limit—literally called the Eddington limit. At some point, the radiation emitted by the black hole starts driving off the surrounding matter, effectively cutting off its own food supply. You can view the Eddington limit as the point where matter intake is optimal; below it, the hole can swallow more than the environment's feeding it, while above, matter is being driven off before it can be eaten.
Now, thanks to new observations of a black hole in the Southern Pinwheel galaxy (Messier 83), researchers have found that the Eddington limit isn't an absolute cap on the amount of energy a black hole can emit out into its surroundings. Their observations suggest that this particular black hole sends out almost as much energy in the form of accelerated particles.
MtGox has applied for bankruptcy protection in Japan, telling a Tokyo District Court that it has outstanding debt of about $63.6 million, with assets worth a little more than half that amount.
According to The New York Times, the French-born CEO Mark Karpeles then appeared at a press conference and “bowed in contrition and apologized in Japanese.”
“I’m truly sorry to have caused inconvenience,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that law enforcement officials do need a warrant to search an arrested person's cell phone after they've been jailed.
The ruling did not decide whether it is legal or not for police to search a suspect's phone at the incidence of arrest, which is currently a hotly contested subject. The Supreme Court is set to decide that matter later this year.
For now, however, seven Texas appeals court judges have ruled that a person has a legitimate expectation of privacy over the contents of their cell phone while the phone is being stored in the jail property room. An eighth judge wrote a dissenting opinion.
According to a new state appeals court ruling (PDF) on Thursday, California drivers can now legally read digital maps on their phones, even though a state law says that they cannot use phones while behind the wheel.
The case involved a man named Steven Spriggs, who was ticketed $165 by a California Highway Patrol officer who spotted Spriggs after he was stuck in traffic at an area encumbered by roadwork.
The officer then cited Spriggs for violating the California Vehicle Code section 23123, subdivision (a), which forbids drivers from “using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.”
Deep in the jungles of West Papua’s central highlands, there is a village with its own mobile telecommunications network. That network runs in a box latched to the top of a tree, providing the only reliable cell coverage anywhere within a four-hour drive. This small setup has created a booming local mobile economy—and it could be the harbinger of a whole new class of private and community mobile networks that change the shape of mobile for those who have been underserved or overcharged by traditional phone carriers.
The single “tower” cell network is the work of graduate students from the University of California at Berkeley’s Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions (TIER) research group, under the direction of Professor Eric Brewer—the founder of the content delivery network Inktomi. The group built its mobile solution with software developed in San Francisco and some off-the-shelf hardware adapted for the task. Working with the Methodist church-owned school Misionaris Sekolahin and local merchants, a TIER team led by graduate students Kurtis Heimerl, Shaddi Hasan and Kashif Ali gave this village of about 1,500 people its first local phone network—and a much-needed connection to the outside world.
And that network runs on open source. OpenBTS, an all-software cellular transceiver, is at the heart of the network running on that box attached to a treetop. Someday, if those working with the technology have their way, it could do for mobile networks what TCP/IP and open source did for the Internet. The dream is to help mobile break free from the confines of telephone providers’ locked-down spectrum, turning it into a platform for the development of a whole new range of applications that use spectrum “white space” to connect mobile devices of every kind. It could also democratize telecommunications around the world in unexpected ways. Startup Range Networks, the company that developed the open-source software powering the network, has much bigger plans for the technology. It wants to adapt the transceiver to use unlicensed spectrum for small-scale cellular networks all over the world without the need to depend on the generosity of incumbent telecom providers or government regulators.
The only diving suit that lets a human reach 1,000 feet underwater was put on display at the American Museum of Natural History on Thursday. Dubbed the "Exosuit," the system lets humans dive to regions where bioluminescent fish lurk in the darkness, with the goal of studying the fish and their environments more closely, as well as leveraging their biology for medical research.
Prior to the invention of this suit, the primary method for collecting deep sea fish to study was dredging them up from the ocean, according to John Sparks, a curator in the department of ichthyology at the AMNH. Currently, scientists are "basing their inference of [the fishes'] flashing patterns on anatomy."
Bioluminescent proteins are a burgeoning area of exploration for biomedical science. The proteins can be used for diagnostic imaging, and Vincent Pieribone, a researcher at Yale University, stated that the proteins can be used to alter a cell's response to electrical activity. This gives them potential for use in the brain, either as a probe or as a tool for developing brain-machine interfaces.
After registering over 100 million users across a myriad of platforms and regions, Mojang's hit open-world survival title Minecraft is set to become a feature film franchise at major studio Warner Bros.
"Someone is trying leak the fact that we're working with Warner Brothers on a potential Minecraft Movie," Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson tweeted this evening. "I wanted to be the leak!" The developer later confirmed to Polygon that the tweet is not a joke and that the Minecraft film project is indeed in development at Warner Bros.
Film industry site Deadline Hollywood says the film is being planned as a live action adaptation. The site also cites "sources inside the studio" in reporting that the project is being handled by Roy Lee, who served as producer on the recent Lego Movie. That film, also based on a rather blocky and playful source material, went on to become a critical and financial blockbuster, raking in over $280 million worldwide just three weeks after its release.