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14 Dec 18:31

Is Bitcoin a bubble? Here’s what two bubble experts told us

by Timothy B. Lee

Enlarge (credit: Thomas Claveirole)

Is Bitcoin a bubble? It's a natural question to ask—especially after Bitcoin's price shot up from $12,000 to $15,000 this week.

So we decided to ask a couple of experts on bubbles what they thought: Brent Goldfarb is a business professor at the University of Maryland, and William Deringer is a historian at MIT. Both have done research on the history and economics of bubbles, and they talked to Ars by phone this week as Bitcoin continues its surge.

Both academics saw clear parallels between the bubbles they've studied and Bitcoin's current rally. Bubbles tend to be driven either by new technologies (like railroads in 1840s Britain or the Internet in the 1990s) or by new financial innovations (like the financial engineering that produced the 2008 financial crisis). Bitcoin, of course, is both a new technology and a major financial innovation.

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04 Dec 19:07

Charter brags about big speed boost—after saying Title II stalled investment

by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Oppenheim Bernhard)

Charter Communications is really excited to tell you about all its new broadband network investments.

"Increasing Flagship Broadband Speeds; Giving Customers More For Less," is the title of the company's latest announcement on this topic. The second-largest cable company in the US has increased its standard download speed from 60Mbps to 100Mbps—"at no extra cost to our customers"—while providing speeds of 200Mbps or 1Gbps in some markets. Gigabit service is available in "Oahu, Hawaii with additional markets to be launched in the weeks ahead," Charter said.

The amazing thing is that Charter is doing all this despite the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules and related Title II regulation of ISPs as common carriers. In July, Charter told the FCC that the "broad and vague prohibitions" in the rules "have caused broadband providers to reconsider innovations and investments out of concern that regulators could squelch, or force significant modifications to, those ventures after funds had been expended."

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29 Nov 16:37

Tight Budget, Tough Times for Mr. Toothpaste


Submitted by: (via kylemcr)

21 Nov 19:07

How to fix a program without the source code? Patch the binary directly

by Peter Bright

Enlarge (credit: Flickr user: Ivan T)

When a company like Microsoft needs to fix a security flaw in one of its products, the process is normally straightforward: determine where the bug lies, change the program's source code to fix the bug, and then recompile the program. But it looks like the company had to step outside this typical process for one of the flaws it patched this Tuesday. Instead of fixing the source code, it appears that the company's developers made a series of careful changes directly to the buggy program's executable file.

Bug CVE-2017-11882 is a buffer overflow in the ancient Equation Editor that comes with Office. The Equation Editor allocates a fixed-size piece of memory to hold a font name and then copies the font name from the equation file into this piece of memory. It doesn't, however, check to ensure that the font name will fit into this piece of memory. When provided with a font name that's too long, the Equation Editor overflows the buffer, corrupting its own memory, and an attacker can use this to execute arbitrary malicious code.

Curious how a buffer overflow works? Previously on Ars we did a deep-dive explanation. (video link)

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17 Nov 17:26

Two Minutes Too Late

austin powers comedy Death From the Movies late slow steamroller - 5412624128

It's Not Your Fault, Austin!

Comic by: Unknown

17 Nov 17:26

The Neverending Matrix Story

16 Nov 21:45

J.J. Abrams Turns Jimmy Kimmel’s Childhood Comic into Major Motion Picture [Video]

by Geeks are Sexy

Back when he was a kid, Jimmy Kimmel created a comic book called “The Terrific Ten,” and in honor of the man’s 50th birthday, Ben Affleck and J.J. Abrams got their hands on the comic and created a trailer of the story and turned it into a major motion picture.

Here is the WORLD PREMIERE EXCLUSIVE trailer of The Terrific Ten starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jennifer Aniston, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Cousin Sal, Jon Hamm, Shaq, Ty Burrell, Billy Crudup, Jake Tapper and Wanda Sykes.

[Jimmy Kimmel Live]

The post J.J. Abrams Turns Jimmy Kimmel’s Childhood Comic into Major Motion Picture [Video] appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

16 Nov 21:41

Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope – FULL FAN FILM

by Geeks are Sexy

Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope is a non-profit live-action fan film by the folks over at Robot Underdog and is an adaptation of “The History of Trunks” TV Special. The story features Gohan & Trunks in their battle to survive against the Androids during a timeline where Goku and the other Z warriors are dead. Check it out!


The post Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope – FULL FAN FILM appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

16 Nov 21:41

Fix All the Things with this Thor Hammer Tool Set

by Geeks are Sexy

Yep, that’s right: It’s a 44-piece tool set (officially licensed) that comes inside a molded case that looks like Thor’s hammer. Now how awesome is that?

This 44-piece tool set, a ThinkGeek creation and exclusive, comes in a molded case that looks like Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Inside it has all your basic tool needs, including a hammer (duh), a tape measure, a level, a screwdriver, a wrench, a ratcheting wrench, and a utility knife you can conveniently use to open your next box from ThinkGeek. It’s perfect for someone worthy of their first place or a great extra set of everything to have around in case of emergencies (like having to replace your lock set because Loki got a copy of the key AGAIN). We predict it’s a gift your recipient will return to repeatedly and get a chuckle out of every time.

[Marvel Thor Hammer Tool Set]

The post Fix All the Things with this Thor Hammer Tool Set appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

10 Nov 22:20

Don’t Smile at Wolves [Comic]

by Geeks are Sexy
10 Nov 22:13

Why Are Some Theaters Refusing To Play The Last Jedi?

by Geeks are Sexy

thats awful

When Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15, it’s guaranteed to be one of the biggest box office hits of the year, if not all time. So why are some theaters flat-out refusing to screen the movie at all?


The post Why Are Some Theaters Refusing To Play The Last Jedi? appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

10 Nov 20:41

45 Scary Mythical Creatures from Around the World

by Geeks are Sexy
10 Nov 20:39

The Flat Earth Society Wins a Free Trip to Space [Comic]

by Geeks are Sexy
03 Nov 21:39

Time of year.

by Ryan
31 Oct 20:22

*Existential Crisis intensifies*

26 Oct 21:45

Time Travel in Fiction Rundown [Video]

by Geeks are Sexy

For ages I’ve been thinking about doing a video analyzing time travel in fiction and doing a comparison of different fictional time travels – some do use wormholes, some relativistic/faster than light travel with time dilation, some closed timelike curves, some have essentially “magic” or no consistent rules that make any sense, or TARDIS’s, or whatever. This video is an explanation of how time travel functions in different popular movies, books, & shows – not how it works “under the hood”, but how it causally affects the perspective of characters’ timelines (who has free will? can you change things by going back to the past or forwards into the future?). In particular, I explain Ender’s Game, Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Primer, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Back to the Future, Groundhog Day, Looper, the video game “Braid”, and Lifeline.

[Minute Physics]

The post Time Travel in Fiction Rundown [Video] appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

29 Sep 21:27

Diplomats in Cuba have been under attack—but the weaponry is a mystery

by Beth Mole

Enlarge / The Capri Hotel in 2008. (credit: Getty | ADALBERTO ROQUE)

On Tuesday, the State Department confirmed that two more Americans have fallen victim to an ongoing series of mysterious attacks targeting diplomats in Cuba, the Associated Press reports. The new cases bring the total of Americans affected by the assaults to 21.

US authorities first acknowledged the attacks in August, about nine months after diplomats began reporting bizarre sonic experiences and a puzzling spectrum of symptoms, from brain injuries to hearing loss. Despite an international investigation into the attacks, which have also affected Canadian diplomats, authorities and scientists are still baffled as to what kind of weapon or devices could have been used—let alone by whom.

The victims report a range of symptoms including dizziness, nausea, headaches, balance problems, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nosebleeds, difficulty concentrating and recalling words, permanent hearing loss, and speech problems. There have also been brain injuries, including swelling and concussion.

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29 Sep 20:58

Annihilation: An Extremely Creepy Sci-Fi Thriller Featuring Natalie Portman

by Geeks are Sexy

Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac. It was written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later).

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

Annihilation will hit the big screen on February 23, 2018.

[Paramount Pictures]

The post Annihilation: An Extremely Creepy Sci-Fi Thriller Featuring Natalie Portman appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

29 Sep 20:46

Tea Party Over 9000!!!

28 Sep 21:32

EU study finds piracy doesn’t hurt game sales, may actually help

by Kyle Orland

(credit: Getty Images)

For as long as video game piracy has existed, gamers and the industry have argued about whether the practice really hurts sales of legitimate games. In 2010, the Business Software Alliance estimated that generalized software piracy costs the world $51 billion annually and half a million jobs. Even most people who doubt every pirated download is equivalent to a lost sale will admit that illegal downloads have some negative effect on overall game sales.

So it's more than a bit surprising that an exhaustive study of piracy's effects by the European Commission found that "illegal consumption [of games] leads to increased legal consumption." To be more precise, the study estimates that for every 100 games that are downloaded illegally, players actually legally obtain 24 more games (including free games) than they would in a world in which piracy didn't exist.

The 306-page "Estimating Displacement Rates of Copyrighted Content in the EU" report (PDF) points out a number of caveats for this headline number, not least of which is a 45-percent error margin that makes the results less than statistically significant (i.e. indistinguishable from noise). That said, the same study finds that piracy has the more-expected negative effects on sales of films and books (and a neutral effect on music), singling out games as one area where piracy really does seem to work differently.

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28 Sep 21:09

FCC chief Ajit Pai wants Apple to stop disabling FM radio chips in iPhones [Updated]

by Jeff Dunn

Enlarge (credit: Samuel Axon)

Update (9/28/2017 4:25 ET): Apple has responded to FCC chairman Ajit Pai's call for the company to enable FM radio chips in its devices. In an emailed statement, the company downplayed the need for FM radio broadcasts in times of emergency, and said its iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 devices have neither the chips nor the antennas necessary to allow FM radio reception in the first place. Here's the full statement:

"Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products. Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products."

Apple declined to comment on why newer iPhones are unable to pick up radio broadcasts or if it could ever enable the FM tuner in pre-iPhone 7 devices in the future. Various smartphones with an active FM chip use the cord from a pair of wired headphones as an antenna, however, so the omission of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 may contribute to those devices' lack of FM tuner support. Our original story follows.

Original post: Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday issued a public statement requesting that Apple activate the disabled FM radio chips within its iPhones.

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28 Sep 16:42

New gravitational wave detector almost immediately spots black hole merger

by John Timmer


Today, a huge scientific team announced that humanity has added a third gravitational wave detector to its arsenal. And, only two weeks after Europe's VIRGO detector joined forces with the two LIGO detectors, the three combined to pick up a new black hole merger. While the three have worked together for less than a month so far, there are plans for a substantial observation run next autumn.

Waves in space

Gravitational waves are produced as two massive objects spiral inward toward a collision. Once they get close enough, their rapid circling distorts space itself, sending gravitational waves rippling out. Immediately after their collision, the object formed by their merger vibrates like a bell, briefly producing a different pattern of waves. These ripples in space will alternately expand and contract the distance between two objects by an infinitesimal amount—but one sufficient for our most sensitive instruments to pick up.

The new event, GW170814, is similar to the ones detected earlier. It involves stellar-mass black holes, 31 and 25 times the mass of the Sun. Those are heavier than theoretical work indicates should be possible to form through the collapse of stars. This suggests that either these were formed through earlier mergers or some alternate route of formation exists. The resulting black hole is 53 times our Sun's mass. The missing material—three solar masses' worth of black hole—was converted to energy in the form of gravitational waves. The event occurred about 1.8 billion light years away, though, so don't be surprised that you didn't notice anything.

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22 Sep 19:42

SpaceX’s worldwide satellite broadband network may have a name: Starlink

by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Olena_T)

SpaceX has filed trademark applications for the word "Starlink" to describe its planned satellite broadband network.

SpaceX filed applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 21 to have Starlink trademarked for "wireless broadband communication services," "high-speed wireless Internet access," and other services related to its upcoming satellite network.

The trademark applications were surfaced by a user on Reddit and then made the rounds in news articles. SpaceX is also seeking an additional trademark on "SpaceX" specifically for the satellite network, in addition to the SpaceX trademarks it already owns for aerospace launch vehicles, rockets, and services for launching payloads into space.

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22 Sep 19:37

Ajit Pai’s plan to lower broadband standards is “crazy,” FCC Democrat says

by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge / FCC members Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai at INTX: The Internet & Television Expo in Chicago, Illinois, US, on Wednesday, May 6, 2015. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The Federal Communications Commission chairman's proposal that could lower the country's broadband standard is "crazy" and does nothing to solve the United States' broadband accessibility problems, a Democratic FCC commissioner said yesterday.

The FCC is "proposing to lower US broadband standard from 25 to 10Mbps," FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted. "This is crazy. Lowering standards doesn't solve our broadband problems."

Redefining broadband to declare problem solved

The FCC's current policy, a holdover from former Chairman Tom Wheeler, is that all Americans should have access to home Internet service with speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream and access to mobile broadband. If that policy remained in place, having one or the other wouldn't be enough to be considered "served" in the FCC's annual analysis of whether broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.

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22 Sep 19:35

CCleaner malware outbreak is much worse than it first appeared

by Dan Goodin

The recent CCleaner malware outbreak is much worse than it initially appeared, according to newly unearthed evidence. That evidence shows that the CCleaner malware infected at least 20 computers from a carefully selected list of high-profile technology companies with a mysterious payload.

(credit: Talos)

Previously, researchers found no evidence that any of the computers infected by the booby-trapped version of the widely used CCleaner utility had received a second-stage payload the backdoor was capable of delivering. The new evidence—culled from data left on a command-and-control server during the last four days attackers operated it—shows otherwise. Of 700,000 infected PCs, 20 of them, belonging to highly targeted companies, received the second stage, according to an analysis published Wednesday by Cisco Systems' Talos Group.

Because the CCleaner backdoor was active for 31 days, the total number of infected computers is "likely at least in the order of hundreds," researchers from Avast, the antivirus company that acquired CCleaner in July, said in their own analysis published Thursday.

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22 Sep 19:34

Oil companies sued to pay for cost of rising sea levels, climate change

by David Kravets

San Francisco Embarcadero. (credit: David Yu)

At least five California municipalities are suing five major oil companies, claiming in public nuisance lawsuits that the firms should pay for the infrastructure costs associated with rising sea levels due to climate change.

The latest suits announced Wednesday by Oakland and San Francisco name BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The cities claim the oil companies knew of the dangers of fossil-fuel-driven climate change but kept mum. The cities claim that global warming, which they say has melted ice sheets and heated sea water, has contributed to rising seas by about eight inches in California over the past decade. They say it could rise 10 feet by the year 2100.

"The bill has come due," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. "It's time for these companies to take responsibility."

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20 Sep 16:54

Magical Duckventures

by KatSwenski

Dogs can't swim! Don't be silly.

15 Sep 16:09

It's Making These Crash Tests Feel Unethical

web comics crash test dummies It's Making These Crash Tests Feel Unethical

Submitted by: (via blazersatdawn)

Tagged: test , safety , web comics
12 Sep 16:01


by Ryan
30 Aug 14:54

This is probably the worst US flood storm ever, and I’ll never be the same

by Eric Berger

Enlarge / Houston, on Monday, basically all across the city. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

HOUSTON—Lightning crashed all around as I dashed into the dark night. The parking lot outside my apartment building had become swollen with rains, a torrent about a foot deep rushing toward lower ground God knows where. Amazingly, the garage door rose when I punched the button on the opener. Inside I found what I expected to find—mayhem.

In dismay, I scooped up a box of books that had been on the floor. As I did, one of the sodden bottom flaps gave way, and a heavy book splashed into the water: From Dawn to Decadence, a timeless account of the Western world's great works by Jacques Barzun. Almost immediately, a current from the rushing water beyond the garage door pulled the tome away, forever. Damn, I loved that book. An indescribably bad night had just gotten that little bit worse.

This little scene played out on Sunday morning, around 4am, after sheets of rain from Hurricane Harvey had drenched southern Houston for the previous 12 hours. A few miles away, amidst the tempest, my wife sat on the front porch of her sister's new home. It had been built on pilings to keep it safe from flooding. But when 24 inches falls in less than 24 hours, as it did over Clear Creek south of Houston, bad things happen.

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