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+ - Sony to offer partial refunds for gaming console->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Hundreds of thousands of people who bought the handheld gaming console PlayStation Vita are in line for a partial refund from Sony because of questionable claims in its advertising.

The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it had reached a settlement with Sony Computer Entertainment America, the U.S.-based arm of the PlayStation business, over advertising claims that the government contended were misleading.

As part of the proposed settlement, Sony will provide refunds to those who bought the PS Vita console before June 1, 2012. They'll be eligible for either a $25 cash or credit refund — or a $50 merchandise voucher from Sony. The company will contact consumers about the refunds or vouchers via email.

The advertising claims at issue — Sony highlighted "game changing" technology features of the PS Vita — were made during the U.S. launch of the product in early 2012. The console sold for about $250."

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+ - In major shift, Firefox to use Yahoo search by default in US->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Google's 10-year run as Firefox's default search engine is over. Yahoo wants more search traffic, and a deal with Mozilla will bring it.

In a major departure for both Mozilla and Yahoo, Firefox's default search engine is switching from Google to Yahoo in the United States.

"I'm thrilled to announce that we've entered into a five-year partnership with Mozilla to make Yahoo the default search experience on Firefox across mobile and desktop," Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer said in a blog post Wednesday. "This is the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years."

The change will come to Firefox users in the US in December, and later Yahoo will bring that new "clean, modern and immersive search experience" to all Yahoo search users. In another part of the deal, Yahoo will support the Do Not Track technology for Firefox users, meaning that it will respect users' preferences not to be tracked for advertising purposes.

With millions of users who perform about 100 billion searches a year, Firefox is a major source of the search traffic that's Google's bread and butter. Some of those searches produce search ads, and Mozilla has been funded primarily from a portion of that revenue that Google shares. In 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available, that search revenue brought in the lion's share of Mozilla's $311 million in revenue."

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+ - Google rents world's biggest digital billboard in Times Square->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Google has become the first company to rent to the world's largest and most expensive digital billboard in Times Square, New York.

The billboard is eight stories high and is estimated to cost $2.5m (£1.6m) to hire for four weeks.

The screen, which is the size of a football field, is mounted on the side of the Marriot Marquis hotel.

Around 300,000 pedestrians are estimated to pass by the billboard every day.

Times Square's brightly-lit billboards are some of the most iconic and well-known outdoor advertising spaces.

The new billboard was turned on on Tuesday evening and will show a nature-inspired digital art piece for a week until Google's adverts begin running.

Hundreds of tourists watched as the screen was turned on.

The screen is also connected to cameras, allowing for interactive content.

The US tech giant is reported to have hired the screen until January 2015."

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+ - Report: Apple to Add Beats Music App to iOS Devices->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "As iPhone and iPad users know, there are a few apps that stay on your device no matter what — Messages, Weather, Apple Maps, GameCenter, Stocks, etc. They come pre-installed when you buy your handset, and you can't delete them.

Soon, that list of mandatory apps could also include Beats Music. According to a report from The Financial Times, Apple is planning to roll the subscription music service it picked up as part of its $3 billion Beats acquisition into its iOS mobile operating system. This means, the service will be available on every iPhone and iPad — whether you like it or not.

The rollout is expected to happen at some point next year, possibly as early as March, sources familiar with the situation told The Financial Times. The move would mark Apple's first major push into subscription streaming music, a market that Spotify currently dominates.

"Pre-installing apps on devices is seen as a fast track to reaching new customers," the report notes. "Apple could also take advantage of its new mobile payments service to enable customers to subscribe with just one touch of the iPhone's fingerprint reader.""

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+ - Fascinating Rosetta image captures Philae's comet bounce->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "The hunt for Rosetta's lost lander Philae is gaining steam as scientists pore over images from above the comet that may help reveal its final location.

The ESA released an image Monday taken by Rosetta's OSIRIS camera showing Philae's first bounce on the comet. The mosaic includes a series of pictures tracking the lander descending toward the comet, the initial touchdown point and then an image of the lander moving east. "The imaging team is confident that combining the CONSERT ranging data with OSIRIS and navcam images from the orbiter and images from near the surface and on it from Philae's ROLIS and CIVA cameras will soon reveal the lander's whereabouts," says the ESA."

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+ - U.S. weather system hacked, affecting satellites->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Hackers attacked the U.S. weather system in October, causing a disruption in satellite feeds and several pivotal websites.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, said that four of its websites were hacked in recent weeks. To block the attackers, government officials were forced to shut down some of its services.

This explains why satellite data was mysteriously cut off in October, as well as why the National Ice Center website and others were down for more than a week. During that time, federal officials merely stated a need for "unscheduled maintenance."

Still, NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen insisted that the aftermath of the attack "did not prevent us from delivering forecasts to the public."
Little more is publicly known about the attack, which was first revealed by The Washington Post. It's unclear what damage, if any, was caused by the hack.

But hackers managed to penetrate what's considered one of the most vital aspects of the U.S. government. The nation's military, businesses and local governments all rely on nonstop reports from the U.S. weather service."

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+ - Microbots could create electrically activated muscles->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Micro-muscles could be used to propel miniature robots through veins, acting as tiny muscles, controlled by electrical stimulation. Robots smaller than a grain of sand could link together, carrying out operations neither tiny robots alone, nor larger devices, could accomplish.
Micro-robots could be used for medical treatments, as well as in manufacturing.
University of Michigan researchers are developing tiny robots that could link together, forming chains of minuscule devices that could act as muscles in larger robots or within the human body.
"We are inspired by ideas of microscopic robots. They could work together and go places that have never been possible before," Michael Solomon, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, said."

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+ - 800 million Apple devices threatened by 'WireLurker' malware->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "The new family of malware, dubbed WireLurker, has been discovered by Palo Alto Networks Inc. PANW, +2.99% which said it shows “characteristics unseen in any previously documented threats targeting Apple platforms.”

Palo Alto said this is the first known malware family that can infect installed iOS applications similar to how a traditional virus would, and it’s only the second-known malware family that can attack iOS devices through OS X — the operating system that powers every Apple AAPL, +0.05% Mac.

WireLurker monitors any iOS device connected via USB with an infected OS X computer and then downloads third-party applications onto the device. And it doesn’t matter whether the device is jailbroken or not, hence the term “Wire Lurker,” the network security company said in a 30-page report.

“WireLurker is capable of stealing a variety of information from the mobile devices it infects and regularly requests updates from the attackers command and control server,” said Palo Alto Networks in the report. “This malware is under active development and its creator’s ultimate goal is not yet clear.”"

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+ - One wi-fi hotspot for every 150 people, says study->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "The UK has one wi-fi hotspot for every 11 people and worldwide there is one for every 150, new research from wi-fi provider iPass indicates.

It suggests there will be 47.7 million public hotspots worldwide by the end of 2014.

France currently has the most hotspots, followed by the US and UK.

Hotspots are designed to fill the gaps in coverage left by mobile networks and are often offered free of charge.

The study is one of the first comprehensive looks at the distribution of global wi-fi. A clickable map of hotspots around the world shows the numbers in each region and where they are located — in homes, on trains, planes, airports and retail outlets.

But this growth will not be evenly distributed. While in North America there will be one hotspot for every four people by 2018, in Africa it will be one for every 408.

While Europe currently has the most dense wi-fi coverage, Asia will overtake it by 2018, according to the report."

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+ - 100-year-old notebook from Scott's last Antarctic expedition found frozen in ice->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Explorer Robert Falcon Scott died in 1912 while crossing Antarctica, but his story lives on in artifacts that continue to be discovered on the frozen continent at the bottom of the world.
The most recent find: a century-old photographer's notebook in the ice at one of Scott's expedition bases in Antarctica.

The notebook belonged to George Murray Levick, a surgeon and photographer who was part of Scott's 1910-13 expedition. It contains pencil notes about photos he took in 1911 at Cape Adare.
"It's an exciting find," said Nigel Watson, director of the Antarctic Heritage Trust. "The notebook is a missing part of the official expedition record. After spending seven years conserving Scott's last expedition building and collection, we are delighted to still be finding new artifacts."

The notebook was found in January 2013 at another Scott camp, the Cape Evans base, after the summer snow melt around a building exposed it, said Paula Granger, communications manager for the trust."

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+ - Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources launching first spacecraft-> 3

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "The team at Planetary Resources has years of experience sending spacecraft into orbit and beyond, thanks to past work at NASA and private space companies. But the company’s first mission into space — launching on Monday afternoon — won’t rely on a giant NASA-style command center with hundreds of engineers.

“Our goal is to have three people in their pajamas and an iPad operating the spacecraft, at most,” says Chris Lewicki, the Redmond-based company’s president and chief engineer, who was the flight director for the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

Welcome to the new world of commercial space.

Planetary Resources’ launch of the Arkyd 3 engineering demonstrator on Monday will test not only the company’s technology but also its business model, using relatively low-cost approaches to explore space and ultimately mine lucrative natural resources from asteroids.

The mission is scheduled to start at 3:45 PM Pacific time today, with the launch of an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus cargo freighter from Wallops, Va., to the International Space Station. Planetary Resources’ Arkyd 3 satellite will be on board as part of the Cygnus payload."

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+ - Russian hackers exploit Windows to spy on West->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Russian hackers have taken advantage of a bug in Microsoft Windows to spy on the Ukrainian government and a scholar living in the United States.
That's according to iSight Partners, a cybersecurity intelligence firm that contracts with governments. In a report Tuesday, the firm said it discovered the never-before-seen attack, which has been used by hackers in recent months.

The bug the hackers used exists in all modern versions of the Windows operating system: Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1. It's also present in 2008 and 2012 versions of Windows used by company servers. That means the vast majority of the world's computers — nearly 68%, according to NetMarketShare — are vulnerable to this unique type of attack."

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+ - FBI: Apple's new privacy features protect kidnappers, pedophiles and terrorists->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Apple recently took measures to enhance user privacy. Now, only users have the key to unlock text messages, photos and emails on their device. As such, iOS 8 will shield your data from anyone — including police.

Here's how it works: You send a text message that's encrypted on your device. It passes through Apple servers as jumbled code nobody can crack. And it can only get decrypted by your friend's iPhone passcode.

Google (GOOG) has announced it's doing the same for its Android devices.
The FBI director isn't pleased.

"The notion that people have devices... that with court orders, based on a showing of probable cause in a case involving kidnapping or child exploitation or terrorism, we could never open that phone? My sense is that we've gone too far when we've gone there," Comey told CBS.
Comey compared selling iPhones to selling "cars with trunks that couldn't ever be opened by law enforcement with a court order."

But there are two things that are wrong with that statement:

1) The FBI can still get your phone data. Now, they can't do it secretly by going to Apple or Google. Agents must knock on your front door with a warrant in hand — the way it's always been.

2) Opening devices to law enforcement means opening them to hackers. When it comes to data, possession of a key is everything. If your passcode is the only thing that unlocks your digital life, then it doesn't matter if the FBI presents Apple or Google with a warrant — or if hackers break into the company's servers. They won't get anything useful."

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+ - NASA: Dead star 10 million times brighter than sun->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Astronomers have found the brightest pulsar ever recorded, the 'Mighty Mouse' of stars.

NASA announced this week that its astronomers have discovered the brightest pulsar ever recorded.

The star, captured by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is located in the center of the Messier 82 galaxy, which is about 12 million light-years from the milky way.

Because of its brightness and size, the star has some interesting characteristics. "It has all the power of a black hole, but with much less mass," Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, said in a press release."

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+ - Google hires camel for desert Street View->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "t's given us robot cars and internet-enabled glasses — but when it came to creating a "Street View" of a desert, Google hit on a low-tech solution.

It hired a camel.

The beast has become the first animal to carry Google's Trekker camera, which is typically hoisted by humans to capture 360-degree images of destinations inaccessible to its Street View cars.

Google spokeswoman Monica Baz says the camel, reportedly named Raffia, was an apt way of documenting the beautiful shifting sands of Abu Dhabi's Liwa Oasis.

"With every environment and every location, we try to customize the capture and how we do it for that part of the environment," she told The National newspaper.

"In the case of Liwa we fashioned it in a way so that it goes on a camel so that it can capture imagery in the best, most authentic and least damaging way," Baz said.

The Liwa Oasis is a 100 kilometer-wide (62-mile) scenic desert, southeast of the city of Abu Dhabi that includes some of the world's biggest sand dunes."

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