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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Australia tries to ban crypto research – by ACCIDENT

Academics could risk JAIL under defence trade laws starting in May


While the world is laughing at UK PM David Cameron for his pledge to ban encryption, Australia is on the way to implementing legislation that could feasibly have a similar effect.…






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Samsung reportedly eyes BlackBerry for a takeover

BlackBerry's still clawing its way back into mobile relevance, but that's not stopping Samsung from a takeover attempt, according to Reuters. Samsung execs recently met with their BlackBerry counterparts and reportedly offered as much as $7.5 billion...



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EMC Fends Off Activist Elliott with Two New Directors





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Want Google’s modular Android phone? Find a food truck in Puerto Rico

Google outlines a possible pilot launch for Project Ara in late 2015.

















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The Indica Review: A Vaporizer Stuck in a Zippo's Body

The Indica Review: A Vaporizer Stuck in a Zippo's Body


Despite appearances, cannabis is actually still illegal in more than half of US states. If you have to get high on the down low, you might find yourself drawn to this sneaky Zippo lookalike.


The Indica is a fairly subtle portable vaporizer that packs a 5-stage heater into a novelty-sized Zippo lighter form factor. It's a squat and sturdy device that holds about a quarter-gram of finely shredded herb under a door at the bottom rear, and houses a rubberized mouthpiece and heater control button under its flip-up lid. It measures a little over 3 inches tall by 2 inches wide and is just under an inch deep—that's a bit bigger than, say, the MFLB, but still pretty compact. It weighs 5.4 ounces, just slightly less than my aging cell phone.


Now for the bad stuff. First off, it's a bit of a pain to load. The chamber door is annoying to remove and even more troublesome to keep track of—the fact that it comes with a spare says a lot—plus unless you pack the crucible all the way up to its fill line, you've got to insert a tiny, obscenely easy-to-break metal spacer to ensure the herb heats evenly.


With a full load, you'll get around two dozen full draws before having to refill. The vapor quality is decent enough, a bit thin even on the highest setting, but it never quite tasted right to me. You will need to cycle it a few times right off the bat in order to burn off the plastic taste, and the tang of the rubberized mouthpiece never quite dissipates.


The Indica Review: A Vaporizer Stuck in a Zippo's Body


Just look at how much bigger it is than a regular Zippo


I guess I just don't get the design. I mean, yeah I understand that its supposed to look like a Zippo lighter. But have you ever seen a 3-inch-tall Zippo in the wild? Of course you haven't. So if this form factor is as it is in order to camouflage the device's true purpose, it does a pretty piss-poor job of it. There isn't a cop on the face of the planet that wouldn't find it suspicious. And if you walk around in public putting your mouth on the sole part of a world-famous cigar lighter expressly designed to burn things, normal people will take notice. Plus, you can't even really do Zippo flip-open tricks. I mean you can, if you don't mind potentially flicking $200 worth of electronics across a room.


The Indica Review: A Vaporizer Stuck in a Zippo's Body


That said, once you break in the Indica, it's a decent portable vaporizer. Its 5-stage heater cycles between 352 and 412 degrees F and is indicated by a small, color-coded LED next to the selector button—it's essentially the same indicator system that we saw in the Arizer Air and is par for the course.


I was actually pretty impressed by its battery life, which relies on a pair of internal 900 mAh Li-ion cells (that's twice what the Ploom Pax offers) and charges via a micro-USB port. The standardized charging port is a boon because when you lose the charging cord—and you will—you can just use any other micro-USB cable you have lying around. Even under near continuous use, the Indica kept going for well over an hour. And with less frequent draws, it ran for nearly a full waking day (14-16 hours).


The Indica Review: A Vaporizer Stuck in a Zippo's Body


The Indica is available in either a stainless steel or matte black finish for $200. And while you won't be fooling anyone with this vape (it's just slightly sneakier than the Puff-It), its sturdy construction combined with a Methuselah-esque battery life make the Indica worth a second look. But only if you're really into novelty vapes.






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New H-1B bill will 'help destroy' U.S. tech workforce

Facebook takes on the enterprise with new social network

Report: Samsung Is Trying to Buy Blackberry

Report: Samsung Is Trying to Buy Blackberry


Reuters is reporting that Samsung has offered Blackberry a takeover offer for as much as $7.5 billion, which would be about 38 percent more than the stock market says the Canadian hardware company is even worth. Samsung supposedly wants access to BlackBerry patents and also probably wants to up its security game with Samsung Knox and BlackBerry's sterling mobile security reputation.


Supposedly, the meeting happened last week but no party on either side has confirmed any details. So who knows if this stretches much further than a casual business meeting. What I can only imagine will be Tim Hortons/Burger King nightmare 2.0 for some Canadians, it does look like the world's collective dream of owning a Tizen-based smartphone with a hardware keyboard may actually happen! [Reuters]


updating....






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Harrowing account of how Chinese authorities 'disappeared' one reporter's assistant

A Chinese woman working as an assistant to a German news organization has been detained for more than 12 weeks. Read the rest



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Today in the App Store -- the best free apps, new apps and app updates

Here are some of the best free apps, app updates and new apps that have landed in the App Store recently. All app prices are USD and subject to change. Some deals may expire quickly, so grab them while you can. Apps Now Free Zombie Jeep Gunner [iOS...



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Google plans to let you design your own Project Ara phone with an app

OK, so far we know that Project Ara's Spiral 2 prototype is in good shape, Spiral 3 should be even better, and that devices will hit Puerto Rico before anywhere else. Now we turn our attention to how you'll configure your very own Ara device, a decid...



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How I Built My First Electric Bike

e-bike-sideview-1 My goal was simple: build an electric bike that everyone can replicate with minimal cost, without electrical know-how, but be powerful and reliable at the same time.

Read more on MAKE








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Connecticut Experiences 11 Earthquakes in One Week

Earthquakes centered in Plainfield have rattled eastern Connecticut every day for the last three days and 11 times since Thursday.

















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Man 3-D Prints Model of His Own Kidney Before Surgery

When surgeons operated on John Cousins on Monday, they had a 3-D model of his kidney for reference.





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Survey: most orgs not very prepared to recover IT assets following a disaster

According to a survey of more than 2,000 executive and IT professionals, less than half feel very prepared to recover their IT and related assets following a disaster or other incident.



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The Tracking Cookie That You Can't Kill

An online ad company called Turn is using tracking cookies that come back to life after Verizon users have deleted them. Turn’s services are used by everyone from Google to Facebook.



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How The Universe Made The Stuff That Made Us

Each step from hydrogen to the other elements relies upon rare celestial and quantum processes. It is a parade of flukes that leads from primordial matter to us.



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Don't Expect Google's Modular Ara Smartphone Anytime Soon

The "last phone you'll ever need to buy" won't be available for you to buy anytime soon. Google says that the super exciting Project Ara modular smartphone will launch in... Puerto Rico?



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Can Foie Gras Ever Be Ethical?

As the ban on foie gras is lifted in California, campaigners continue to fight against the force-feeding of geese. But what if the geese gorged themselves voluntarily? On one farm in Spain, the birds do just that.



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Obama's Plan to Loosen Comcast's Stranglehold on Your Internet

Obama's Plan to Loosen Comcast's Stranglehold on Your Internet


President Obama glad-handed some network engineers in Cedar Falls, Iowa today. No, it was not a campaign stop. (He's done running for president.) The commander-in-chief's visit to the local utility office of Iowa's first gigabit city is a mission statement: America needs more internet service providers that aren't called Comcast.


Oh, thank God. This mission is both valiant and practical. One in three Americans have no choice when it comes to picking an internet service provider. Meanwhile, the vast majority of American internet users are saddled with slow speeds, crippling data caps, absurdly awful customer service, and other related bullshit. Thank God the president is finally using his presidential powers to do something about it.


It's about damn time


This community-based broadband plan isn't a new initiative by any means—at least not for some local governments and startup ISPs around the country. It's also not the beginning of a government-run internet—despite what some dumb misleading headlines might say. It is something that would benefit millions.


The mission to create more competition between broadband providers and better internet at a lower price to the end user has been underway for years. It just got a really, really nice boost from the White House, a boost that President Obama will talk more about at the State of the Union on January 20. The White House has already released a 37-page long report on Community-Based Broadband Solutions that explains why the initiative is so important now. (Executive summary: America's internet is too slow, too expensive, too unreliable, and too inaccessible in rural areas.)



Encouragingly, the White House report includes 14 pages listing all of the municipalities that already have their own broadband networks. That's a lot of towns who have taken the internet into their own hands! Even more encouragingly, the president plans is making moves to help that list become much longer. The report's "Promoting Broadband that Works" section explains:



Laws in 19 states—some specifically written by special interests trying to stifle new competitors—have held back broadband access and, with it, economic opportunity. Today President Obama is announcing a new effort to support local choice in broadband, formally opposing measures that limit the range of options to available to communities to spur expanded local broadband infrastructure, including ownership of networks.



Well, it's about damn time. The report goes on to list how the president will encourage the Federal Communications Commission to get on board (even more) with this mission and host a summit for mayors and county commissioners around the country about community broadband. Finally, support from the Department of Commerce as well as the Department of Agriculture will provide more funding for municipal broadband initiatives. That's great news for you and me—and everyone we know, probably.


The hallowed Gig


The really fun thing about this plan to boost internet competition is that there's proof-of-concept. In fact, as the 14-pages of examples prove, many municipalities across the country are already enjoying life without Comcast or Time Warner or other telecom giants. Some of them are also enjoying beautifully fast internet. If you thought Google was the only one offering gigabit internet at affordable prices, you need to go to Chattanooga, Tennessee.


(Full disclosure: I am a proud Tennessean who can't wait for my next trip home, when I will go to Chattanooga just to use the internet.)


Chattanooga has long been the poster child of municipal internet success. Nearly five years ago, the city-owned utility EPB announced that it would build and operate an ultra-fast gigabit internet service. This was nearly a year before Google even announced where it was going to try a similar effort that became Google Fiber. At the time, gigabit internet was about 200 times faster than the average internet connection in the United States.


Obama's Plan to Loosen Comcast's Stranglehold on Your Internet


Fast forward to last year, and Chattanooga—a.k.a Gig City—is a thriving technology hub. While initial estimates were as high as $350, the city's managed to offer its gigabit, fiber-optic internet service for less than $70 a month. (As a point of comparison, I pay $70 a month for Time Warner Cable service in New York City that's supposed to be "up to 50Mbps" though it's almost always much less than that.) The ultra-fast, taxpayer-owned internet doesn't just benefit the average citizen, though. It also attracted loads of startups to the otherwise very affordable and beautiful city.


"It created a catalytic moment here," Sheldon Grizzle, the founder of the local startup accelerator the Company Lab, told The New York Times in 2014. "The Gig allowed us to attract capital and talent into this community that never would have been here otherwise." Around the same time, Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke similarly told the paper, "We don't need to be the next Silicon Valley. That's not who we're going to be, and we shouldn't try to be that. But we are making our own place in the innovation economy."


Levelling the playing field


This is not the beginning of the government-run internet era. Sure, Obama celebrates the many successful municipal internet projects around the country. Chattanooga got its own section in the White House report. The president's plan to lift restrictions that hinder competition in the broadband industry will surely benefit the burgeoning class of private startup ISPs as well.


Whether they're startups or not, small ISPs have a hard time competing against the near monopolistic forces of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Put simply, these companies just don't have a level playing field. Despite the fact that the fiber-optic infrastructure is there in many American cities, big telecom lobbyists work hard to maintain control over that infrastructure. So if a company wants to offer fast internet, it will probably have to find its own pipes to run it through.


Obama's Plan to Loosen Comcast's Stranglehold on Your Internet


This is a problem for everyone. It's not cheap or easy to lay fiber. It's actually insanely expensive. However, some companies have found a way. Ting, the company best known for crazy cheap cell phone bills, started consolidating access to high-speed fiber optic networks in order to offer gigabit internet at affordable prices. The first city to enjoy the service will be the Comcast-dominated Charlottesville, Virginia. Ting recently announced that the Comcast-dominated Westminster, Maryland will be second.


Meanwhile, some individuals who are sick of being pushed around by big telecom are taking things into their own hands. Two brothers in New York City, for instance, built their own ISP on the rooftop of a grocery store. Now, their startup ISP Brooklyn Fiber provides cheap internet access to more than 100 business in and around Red Hook. Their coverage area is small and speeds aren't yet at the gigabit level. But as Motherboard's Jason Koebler explained recently:



20 mbps on Brooklyn Fiber is like flying above the same highway in a helicopter. No roads, no bumper-to-bumper, no traffic jams.


Those figurative delays with the telecoms aren't because there is a bigger pool of customers using the same bandwidth, but instead because of self-imposed regulations larger providers place on high-bandwidth activity, like streaming a video on YouTube or Netflix.



Being free of Comcast's death grip has its advantages. You pay less for better service, and a lot of startup ISPs like Brooklyn Fiber will certainly enjoy a more level playing field. Meanwhile, the majority of Americans who absolutely hate Comcast and Time Warner Cable will enjoy the freedom to choose. And some pretty appealing choices are popping up through startup ISPs.


It's exactly what America needs


The reasons for embracing Obama's plan to increase competition amongst ISPs are many. Sure, it's long overdue and clearly a path towards faster connections at lower prices. But it's also part of a broader push to ensure that the internet continues to drive commerce and innovation in the same way it has since its inception.


With the FCC poised to decide on new rules for net neutrality next month, the nation is at a crossroads. Down one path, there's the peril of continuing to let companies like Comcast control our access to information. Down the other, there's the promise of providing better internet access to all citizens. That promise is already alive in places like Chattanooga and Cedar Falls. Let's make it a nationwide thing. Liberty and justice and bandwidth for all.


Images via Gizmodo / Getty / Flickr




If you have a tip or a story suggestion, please email adam@gizmodo.com






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Ars unexpectedly travels to China… to check out commercial research

Our destination? A GE global research center focused on improving existing products.

















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Comcast-owned NBC loves Obama too much, right-wing PAC claims

“Conservative War Chest” slams Comcast/TWC merger and “collusion” with Obama.

















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Greenwald: Since glorious “free speech” march, France has opened 54 criminal cases for “condoning terrorism.”

"Since that glorious 'free speech' march, France has reportedly opened 54 criminal cases for “condoning terrorism,” writes Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept.


Read the rest



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Oxymoron No More: Facebook at Work Starts Pilot Testing

While many offices have frowned on -- or even prohibited -- people sharing Facebook "likes" and updates during working hours, the social networking giant hopes to change that through a new offering, Facebook at Work. Announced Wednesday as a test pilot, Facebook at Work is an app aimed strictly at enterprise users looking for a familiar way to communicate and collaborate on the job.

For now, the app is available only to a select group of Facebook at Work pilot partners. If it succeeds and rolls out on a global basis, however, Facebook at Work could give professional social networking sites like LinkedIn or Microsoft's Yammer a run for their money.


That's because Facebook -- while it's better known as a place for sharing personal photos, pokes and rounds of Words with Friends -- has a worldwide base of 1.35 billion monthly active users. LinkedIn, by contrast, has just 300 million members, while Yammer reports some 200,000 companies as customers.


Currently available to pilot partners as either an iOS or Android app (there's also a desktop version for partners at Facebook's Web site), Facebook at Work provides the same look and feel as its established, non-work counterpart. However, content on the work app is separate from a user's personal Facebook account, and is visible only to other employees using the work app.


Users with a work account will be able to connect it to their personal accounts so they can use the same username and password to switch from one to the other. They will also be able to use many of Facebook's already-familiar features -- News Feed, Groups, messages and events -- to share information with work colleagues.


"When you share something from your work account, you can share it with everyone at your company or make it...



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Your keys to safer, even more secure healthcare cloud ...

In my last HealthBlog post, I made the case that we need to focus more on simplicity in healthcare and health IT. Simplicity should be the watchword for ...



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Blogs | The ASP.NET Site

ASP.NET Community Blogs. Recent Blog Posts. Subscribe via rss. RSS Feed. Recent Popular Tags.NET ActiveDirectory AngularJS ASP.NET ...



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All Blog Posts - Blogs : The Official Microsoft IIS Site

Read or subscribe to IIS blogs. Bill Staple's blog and other Microsoft IIS team blogs.



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MSDN Blogs - MSDN Blogs

Learn more about the MSDN Blog Platform at the MSDN Blogs - Help blog! Provide Site Feedback on MSDN Blogs. Check on the status of the MSDN blogs at MSDN and TechNet ...



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The Old New Thing - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

Suppose you have a value in an XMM register and you want to limit the bottom byte to a particular value and set all the other bytes to zero. (Yes, I needed to do this.)



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Building Windows 8 - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

Official Microsoft Developer Network blog providing the latest news and information about the operating system.



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IEBlog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

To help web developers test versions of Internet Explorer more easily, we’ve had a suite of virtual machines available on modern.IE since January of 2013.



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Azure Virtual Machine Images for Visual Studio - The ...

MSDN Blogs > The Visual Studio Blog > Azure Virtual Machine Images for Visual Studio. Server & Tools Blogs > Developer Tools Blogs > The Visual Studio Blog.



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DirectX 12 - DirectX Developer Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

What's the big deal? DirectX 12 introduces the next version of Direct3D, the graphics API at the heart of DirectX. Direct3D is one of the most critical ...



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Developer Tools Blogs - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

MSDN Blogs > Developer Tools Blogs. Server & Tools Blogs > Developer Tools Blogs. Executive Bloggers. Scott Guthrie; S. Somasegar; Brian Harry; Steve Guggenheimer ...



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Somasegar's blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

When we launched the new Visual Studio Community 2013 edition last year, we talked about students being one the audiences this product is really great for.



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.NET Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

The .NET blog (AKA: dotnet blog) discusses new features in the .NET Framework and important issues for .NET developers.



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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team Blog - MSDN Blogs - MSDN Blogs

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, each time you sign in to the system you’ll see the dashboard, which gives you easy-to-read charts and graphs that help you see how you ...



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Engineering Windows 7 - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

In the meantime, we continue to look through external blogs, forums and other reports of crashes to see if we can identify any reproducible cases of this.



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The Visual Studio Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

The Visual Studio Blog. The official source of product insight from the Visual Studio Engineering Team



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Lab-grown muscles could lead to personalized medicine

A team of researchers from Duke University have grown human skeletal muscles in the laboratory -- muscles that actually function and react to stimuli like their real counterparts. In order to do so, the scientists took cells that have already progres...



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It's The Beginning Of The End For Windows 7

The Sublime Pleasure And Pain Of Cycling And Games About Cycling

Facebook And LinkedIn Are Headed For The Office

Sift Through Hundreds of Images by Legendary Photographer Robert Frank

Sift Through Hundreds of Images by Legendary Photographer Robert Frank


Robert Frank forever changed the course of photography when his book The Americans was published in 1958, chronicling the broad landscape of life in the USA. To say that Frank has reached legend status is an understatement. Now, with a new online collection put together by the National Gallery of Art, hundreds of Frank's photos, workprints, and contact sheets are available for anyone to view for some serious photo education.


The Robert Frank Collection includes over 8,000 items and spans Frank's prolific career from 1937-2005. Only a few hundred of those are viewable online so far, but it's still a glorious treat to examine over 100 contact sheets and over 400 photos from locations such as Peru, New York, and New Orleans.


Sift Through Hundreds of Images by Legendary Photographer Robert Frank


© Robert Frank, from The Americans


A photographer's contact sheets are a window into his or her process, providing valuable lessons for anyone attempting their own photographic adventures. It's a pretty rare thing to have this type of access to such an influential artist's work. You can zoom in super close for a look at how Frank worked a scene, chose his composition, and selected his best shots.


Collections like these are essential to spreading knowledge to people who may not have access to large museums or libraries of photo books. Let's hope the National Gallery of Art keeps adding images to their online database so us photographers can keep salivating. [via NYT Lens]


Top image: © Robert Frank, from The Americans






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