Darl McBride, the former chief executive officer of SCO, says he was offered $2 million by the Utah attorney general in May 2009 in exchange for taking down a website criticizing an area business person. Still pursuing the years-long legal battle against Novell and IBM over Unix and Linux intellectual property, SCO needed money at the time.
McBride was controversial for claiming that SCO owned Unix copyrights and that corporate users of Linux owed his company licensing fees. SCO ultimately lost its battle, but in 2009 the legal wrangling was still going on.
Besides SCO's legal battles, McBride was trying to collect money he believed he was owed by a business person named Mark Robbins because of a failed investment deal. McBride set up a website called Skyline Cowboy to try to shame Robbins, and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff allegedly tried to convince McBride to stop going after Robbins.
Google is upgrading the digital certificates used to secure its Gmail, Calendar, and Web search services. Beginning on August 1, the company will start upgrading the RSA keys used to encrypt Web traffic and authenticate to 2048-bits, twice as many as are used now.
The rollout affects the transport layer security (TLS) certificates that underpin HTTPS connections to Google properties. Sometimes involving the secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol, the technologies prevent attackers from reading the contents of traffic passing between end users and Google. They also provide a cryptographic assurance that servers claiming to be Google.com are in fact operated by Google, as opposed to being clones created by attackers exploiting age-old weaknesses in the way the Internet routes traffic.
There are good reasons for Google to upgrade the strength of these crucial digital keys. The weaker the key strength of an RSA key pair, the easier it is for anyone to mathematically derive the "private key." Such attacks work by taking the certificate's "public key" that's published on the website and factoring it to derive the two prime numbers that make up the private key. Once the private key for a Google certificate has been factored, the attacker can impersonate an HTTPS-protected Google server and provide the same indications of cryptographic security as the legitimate service. Someone who was able to derive the secret primes to Google's private key, for instance, would be able to create convincing attacks that would fool many browsers and e-mail clients.
AF Holdings is one of several shell companies linked to Prenda Law, which threatened thousands of Internet users with lawsuits over downloading pornography. Now Prenda's on the ropes and the key lawyers behind it have been hit with a tough sanctions order telling them to pay $81,000. They haven't paid, and now those sanctions are growing at a rate of $1,000 per day, per person.
Another nail in Prenda's coffin has been hammered down today. AF Holdings was ordered to pay $9,425 in attorney's fees to Nick Ranallo, a defense lawyer working on several Prenda defense cases. That's exactly what Ranallo asked for in his March motion requesting fees be paid, plus an extra $1,000 for drafting a later document.
The order by US District Judge Charles Breyer isn't in the public docket yet, but the outcome was tweeted by Kurt Opsahl, an Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer who observed the hearing. Prenda lawyer Paul Duffy was allowed to appear at the hearing by telephone.
At first, the unsubstantiated news of a developer edition of the HTC One seemed like just an attempt to stir up a bit of chaos for fans who may have been disappointed by Google I/O's lack of hardware announcements. But as the week wore on, the rumors got louder, and now the person responsible for the rumor of the "Google Edition" of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 claims he's got the skinny on the developer version of the HTC One, too.
Geek.com's Russel Holly alleges that multiple sources have hinted at a "Senseless Edition" of an HTC One, adding that it will likely launch in the next few weeks, beginning in the United States. Phandroid posits that the specificity of the information suggests that this means it will be sold through the Google Play store, and the rumor hasn't yet been linked to any carriers. Phandroid also points out that during the announcement of the developer version of the Galaxy S 4, an HTC rep had tweeted that interested users could buy the handset or "wait," leading many to believe that the tweet was alluding to this specific handset. That tweet was later dispelled by HTC Senior Global Online Communications Manager Jeff Gordon, who came out and said that "HTC is not currently planning a 'Nexus Edition' of the HTC One."
There is also other evidence lending credence to the "Google Edition" rumor, like the fact that HTC is already so actively engaged in its modding community. It even started a division called HTCDev to give the community a chance to work alongside developers.
The 2009 influenza pandemic prompted the fastest effort in history to develop a vaccine. Within six months of the pandemic declaration, vaccine-makers had developed, produced, and distributed hundreds of millions of doses. Unfortunately for some of the flu’s victims, even that response was not fast enough.
Now researchers in the US have created a vital part of a flu jab using a process that takes less than five days. As reported in Science Translational Medicine, the team led by Philip Dormitzer of drug company Novartis has shown that their method is superior to traditional vaccine efforts in both speed and quality. Their hope is that it will make regulators rethink current practice, which does not allow the use of their technology.
Approved methods for making vaccines involve collecting a flu virus from patients and, if it’s different enough from previous strains, sending it to vaccine-makers. Once researchers complete the necessary genetic manipulation, a version of the virus is injected into chicken egg cells and allowed to replicate. After safety tests, this version of the virus becomes the vaccine that gets distributed.
Lawmakers in the Buckeye State have just banned Internet cafes, believing them to be nothing more than essentially unregulated corner casinos. As the Daily Dot notes, this move follows a ban that Florida passed in April, and several California municipalities are also getting on board with bans.
With widespread home Internet access, Ohio's "cafes" are apparently no longer places folks go simply to get online for a few minutes—the focus is apparently on electronic-slot type games, according to The Plain Dealer. "Internet cafes operate by selling Internet time or phone cards and in return offer free chances to win cash on computer games that often resemble slot machines," the newspaper explains. The cafes in Ohio mostly draw an older crowd, according to cafe owners.
The cafes tried to get around casino regulations by saying they offered legal online "sweepstakes." Ohio courts have split on the issue of whether the cafes are offering legal sweepstakes games, or illegal gambling. There are only four legal casinos in Ohio, a state which authorized Las Vegas-style gambling just one year ago.
For all of the things Microsoft has revealed about the Xbox One this week, the company has evaded and dismissed just as many important questions and concerns about the console. In an effort to clear the air, we've pieced together the best available information on three of these important issues while we wait for Microsoft to offer more clarification.
What is going on with used games on the Xbox One?
The official word: All Microsoft is willing to say on the matter officially is that it is "designing Xbox One to enable customers to trade in and resell games." Past that, everything we know about the Xbox One's used game handling is based on vague and often conflicting reports from various sources.
What we know: Here's the situation to the best of our understanding: first off, a Microsoft' spokesperson told Develop that "on the new Xbox, all game discs are installed to the HDD to play." That means that there needs to be some mechanism to prevent a single retail disc from being installed and made playable on hundreds or thousands of Xbox One systems.
In this episode of the Ars Technicast we talk about 3D printers and the patterns and designs available to make handgun components. We shed some light on previous Ars Technica coverage on the subject (see the related links below), and we talk about how difficult or expensive it might be to print out these handguns or try to mass produce them. We also talk about the potential regulation of this phenomenon and how handmade guns compare to other such technologies. Join Social Editor Cesar Torres, Ars Associate Writer Casey Johnston, Senior Products Specialist Andrew Cunningham, and Senior Reviews Editor Lee Hutchinson as we delve into the world of 3D printing and its ramifications.
What are your thoughts on the pluses and minuses of these types of 3D-printer designs? Tell us in the comments.
The Verge and other sites are reporting that AT&T wireless customers will be seeing an additional charge on their bills this month in the form of an "administrative fee" of $0.61.
The fee affects post-paid individual customers (i.e., people who receive a monthly wireless bill) and also corporate IRU customers (IRU stands for "Individual Responsibility User" and refers to a corporate account paid by the phone's user instead of the user's employer). According to some back-of-the-napkin math by The Verge, this new little fee could net AT&T several hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
AT&T has said that the fee will go to "certain expenses," including "interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance." The addition of an "administrative fee" sounds disturbingly shady (rather like the infamous "shipping and handling" fees on "AS SEEN ON TV!"-style products), but AT&T isn't the only one playing the shady fee game: 9to5Mac notes that Verizon Wireless charges a $0.91 admin fee, and Sprint's admin fee is a whopping $1.99.
The fee is already appearing on wireless bills, and there isn't really a recourse for consumers who don't want to beef up AT&T's administrative coffers—or is there? TheTechBlock has a short piece explaining that the AT&T wireless customer agreement contains language that AT&T might have overlooked. Specifically, the agreement notes that AT&T will disclose billing changes to customers at least one cycle in advance, and if it fails to do so, the customer can cancel their contract without paying an early termination fee.
Eight months ago, small- and medium-sized businesses around the country started getting threats from mysterious six-letter entities like AllLed, GosNel, and AdzPro. The letters suggested that the network of shell companies owned several key patents that cover scanning to PDF documents, and they demanded payments of around $1,000 per worker.
It's the kind of patent licensing that, in earlier times, would typically be directed against the makers of a technology, not the end users. But the reality is that patent attacks against end users are proliferating. The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted several recent and disturbing examples in a blog post published yesterday.
In April, Ars interviewed Brian Farney, one of the lawyers managing the MPHJ scheme, which controls the 40 six-letter shell companies sending infringement notices to end users. Farney said that users were the only appropriate targets of the MPHJ patents because the patents are only infringed when the scanners are combined with a local network, a step that is performed by the users. Farney said he has spoken to the scanner companies and found that they do not infringe.
After a long silence, two of the scanner companies in question, Xerox and Ricoh, have now taken joint action against MPHJ. The companies have filed an "inter partes" review request at the patent office seeking to prove that the claims of one MPHJ patent, No. 7,986,426, aren't patentable.
The Department of Justice's claim that Apple led a conspiracy to raise e-book prices is on the verge of going to trial. It will be decided by a judge without the help of a jury—and that judge is already leaning toward ruling against Apple.
"I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books, and that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements [between Apple and publishers], will confirm that," US District Judge Denise Cote said during a pretrial hearing yesterday, according to Reuters.
The US government accuses Apple of being the "ringmaster" in a conspiracy with e-book publishers to fix the standard prices of e-books at $12.99 and $14.99, above Amazon's typical rate of $9.99. Book publishers HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin have already settled and promised to repay consumers a total of $164 million.
While it’s illegal to pay someone for a kidney or a lobe of their liver, it’s completely legal to offer blood donors a small reward for giving a pint or two of blood. But for some people, accepting a reward in exchange for a blood donation raises both eyebrows and moral questions. To some, it’s the first small step down a slippery slope that ends in black markets and paid organ trade. There’s also the question of where a donor’s motivation should come from. In theory, it’s akin to paying kids for good grades in school; shouldn't the motivation come from an intrinsic drive to be a better person, not a reward from an outsider?
And when it comes to blood donations, there’s an additional worry. Critics claim that economic incentives could encourage potential donors to lie about their health history or personal habits, threatening the safety and integrity of the blood supply. Due to this public health concern, the World Health Organization has spent four decades advising against economic incentives for blood donors.
But based on the cumulative findings of several recent studies, Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis, and Robert Slonim argue that these guidelines are fundamentally flawed. When implemented correctly, these researchers say, economic rewards can benefit the blood supply without threatening its safety.
Recently we covered some research that suggested pro-environment messages don't just fall on deaf ears when it comes to people on the conservative end of the political spectrum (and even some moderates)—pro-environment messages actively discourage those people from making decisions they'd otherwise be perfectly content with. So, what happens if you actually want to convince people to do something good for the environment, like recycling? Is it terminally hopeless?
Not according to research that's being published by the Journal of Consumer Research. The work focused on the fact that some messages resonate more with political conservatives, and others messages resonate with liberals. By targeting the pro-recycling message in those terms, the authors managed to change real-world behavior based on measurements of the amount of material recycled by families. Once the message was received, the generally positive attitude towards environmentally friendly actions spilled over into other areas.
The work was based on past studies that showed people's political leanings tie into other areas of their personality. To grossly oversimplify, conservatives tend to favor maintaining loyalty to the cultural groups they belong to and feel a strong sense of duty to those groups. Liberals, in contrast, tend to focus more on their feelings about what's ethical and fair and make decisions based on that. So, the researchers reasoned, it should be possible to take a single activity—recycling, in this case—and craft messages that resonate with these different groups.
In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine today, two doctors from the University of Michigan described how they saved an infant with a life-threatening respiratory disorder using a custom-designed 3D-printed device. Printed with bio-absorbable plastic, the device is holding the child's airway open and allowing him to breathe normally.
The child, Kaiba Gionfriddo, suffered from tracheobronchomalacia—a collapse of the airway to one of his lungs. The condition prevented him from breathing out carbon dioxide and getting sufficient oxygen. At six weeks old, he was out with his family at a restaurant when he started to turn blue. By the time he was two months old, he had to have a breathing tube inserted into his trachea to keep him alive.
Dr. Glenn Green, MD, the associate professor of pediatric otolarygololgy at the University of Michigan, was called in by Kaiba's doctors to consult on the case. He and Dr. Scott Hollister, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical engineering at Michigan, worked together to design a tracheal splint for Kaiba, using a CT scan of his respiratory tract to create a model of the device. They obtained emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to surgically implant their creation and installed the splint on the bronchus of Kaiba's left lung on February 9, 2012.
Microsoft has finally won a long-running battle at the International Trade Commission, one of the most popular venues for the corporate patent wars that have broken out in the last few years.
After Microsoft launched its patents against Motorola, the Illinois company—now under Google's control—launched a variety of counterattacks in both federal courts and the ITC. It filed a case accusing Microsoft's Xbox of violating several of its patents back in 2010. Initially, a judge did find that Microsoft infringed on the patents, which were related to video transmission and compression as well as Wi-Fi. The case went back to the full six-member ITC for reconsideration, and the commission took its time to make a decision.
Now its decision is out, and Microsoft is off the hook for patent infringement. The Redmond software company has been successful in using its patents to force companies producing Android handsets to take licenses, and it hasn't really had to take many blows of its own in the process.
UPDATE: The original version of this story misstated the 300,000-server capacity for Xbox One's cloud computing architecture as 30,000 servers. Ars regrets the error.
While Tuesday's Xbox One presentation answered some questions about Microsoft's upcoming system, it left just as many or more unsettled. Luckily, Ars got a chance to sit down with General Manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms Matt Booty to try to get more answers. While he wasn't able to answer some of the most pressing questions about the system, he was able to dive deep into some of the technical details.
Our first question had to do with the 300,000-server cloud architecture that Microsoft says the Xbox One will use to help support "latency-insensitive computation" in its games. What does that mean exactly, and can laggy cloud data really help in a video game where most things have to be able to respond locally and immediately?
Windows 8 haters, rejoice. Microsoft has heard your cries and has brought back the Start button.
But you'll need to buy a new mouse to see it.
Redmond today announced a pair of new mice, and those mice contain, yup, a Windows logoed Start button.
If you've been in the market for a cheap, entry-level Chromebook, Acer's C7 Chromebook is the most affordable pick. And according to Engadget, Acer is introducing a 16GB solid-state drive option to the lineup.
The C7 will continue to cost $199, and the new storage hardware presumably won't affect the 100GB of Google Drive storage users also receive. Best Buy says that the laptop is on its way, though there is no official launch date. The device will still feature a dual-core 1.1GHz Intel Celeron 847 processor, 2GB of RAM, and plenty of ports, including VGA, HDMI, a built-in card reader, and three USB 2.0 ports. You can still purchase the 320GB standard hard disk variant of the laptop from Best Buy and other participating retailers for now, though it's unclear if this 16GB version is replacing the original.
We reviewed Acer's C7 Chromebook late last year, and while we appreciated its relatively low price point, we felt it was too thick and heavy compared to other Chromebooks on the market—not to mention that it didn't offer the best battery life and it felt cheap to the touch to boot. Then again, it is $199, which is about $50 cheaper than the Samsung Chromebook. If you're considering buying one, it's really a matter of how much you value those Benjamins.
"Sir, look at me—did you have any shoes on?" asked the emergency medical tech. "Were you wearing shoes when you were struck?"
"Huh?" I wondered, a little dazed. "What's with the shoe obsession?"
Let me back up. My family and I moved from Chicago to Asheville, North Carolina last autumn, ostensibly to get closer to nature. Mostly, this has been great. We still have an urban center we can walk to, but the woodland behind my house hosts all manner of flora and fauna. We've traded rat-infested dumpsters for trash bins overturned by bears; instead of skyscrapers, we now have mountains. Unfortunately, mountains don't have lightning rods.
For now, Brits will be spared HTC and Facebook’s collaborative smartphone, the HTC First, according to a report from Engadget. The device is notably a prominent showcase for the Facebook Home experience, but given the amount of negative feedback Facebook’s Android overlay got after its US launch, the company plans to overhaul Home before trying to get other countries interested in it.
Facebook launched Facebook Home back in April alongside the HTC First, which comes with stock Android and the Facebook Home interface (complete with its Cover Feed and “chat heads”) pre-installed. Reviews of Facebook Home have ranged from lukewarm to negative, in part because of the way it disrupts, rather than augments, the typical flow of using an Android phone.
Facebook Home carries a 2/5 star rating in the Google Play Store, while the HTC First sold only 15,000 handsets at $99 with a two-year contract in its first month. The First was discounted to 99¢, and reports surfaced that it would be discontinued. Several HTC employees quit, but Facebook swore to users that it would issue improvements to the Home experience to alienate fewer users.