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Sep 20, 2016

Ars Technica

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Bored California man sentenced to nearly two years for laser strike
Aug 4, 2014
The Robert E. Coyle Federal Courthouse in Fresno is the site of a significant portion of the nation's laser strike cases. Cyrus Farivar

On Monday, a federal court in Central California sentenced a 26-year-old to one year and nine months in prison for firing two different laser pointers at a Kern County Sheriffs Office helicopter over a six month period in 2013.

The man, Brett Lee Scott of Buttonwillow, took a plea deal with federal prosecutors according to a May 5, 2014 court filing. Scott explained his actions by saying that he was bored.

It may seem like a silly thing, but laser strikes against planes, helicopters, and other aerial vehicles have become an increasing epidemic nationwide.

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All caps begone: Visual Studio 2013 Update adds mixed-case menu option
Aug 4, 2014

Microsoft is continuing to churn out regular updates to its developer tools with the release today of Visual Studio 2013 Update 3. As with previous updates, the release includes as mix of bug fixes and new capabilities.

New features include expanding the memory usage profiler to support both .NET applications using WPF and native code applications using Win32, CodeLens support for git repositories so work items and change history can be shown integrated in the text editor, and a better debugging experience for Windows Store apps on multimonitor systems.

Other parts of Microsoft's developer ecosystem werealso updated today. The Windows Phone 8.

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Analysis: New motions show gaping holes in Supreme Courts Aereo ruling
Aug 4, 2014
Aereo

In an emergency motion (PDF) filed Friday, TV-over-Internet startup Aereosubmitted itsmost detailed legal arguments yet as to why it should be allowed to be a cable company. It alsoasked, based on those arguments, to resume operations until a final decision was reached.

US District Judge Alison Nathan wasn't having it, though.She rejected (PDF) the emergency motion and ordered it stricken from the record the same day it was filed. "Defendanthas jumped the gun in filing, without authorization, its motion," she wrote. Instead, she ordered both sides to filepapers in support of their positionsfollowing the Supreme Court case over the next five weeks.

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Thailands military junta bans dictator-simulator Tropico 5
Aug 4, 2014
A scene from Tropico 5, deemed inappropriate for sale in Thailand by the ruling junta.

Publisher Kalypso Media has confirmed that Thailand's Board of Film and Video Censors office has blocked the local release of Tropico 5, which features gameplay scenarios that may be too close to the real-world military coup that hit the country in May.

In its announcement, Kalypso notes that the Ministry of Culture declared merely that "some contents of the game are not appropriate for the current situation" in the country. However, a spokesperson for Thai distributor New Era told the AP that the government was worried that "some part of [the game's] content might affect peace and order in the country." Prior to the coup, both Tropico 3 and Tropico 4 were released in Thailand without incident.

Since it launched in 2001, the Tropico series has let players take the role of "El Presidente" and rule an island nation with an iron fist or a gentle, tourist-friendly hand.

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LinkedIn paying shorted employees $6 million in unpaid wages, damages
Aug 4, 2014

Professional-networking site LinkedIn is agreeing to pay nearly $3.35 million in unpaid overtime to 359 workers, in addition to $2.5 million in damages under a deal announced Monday with the US Department of Labor.

The accord covers current and former employees at LinkedIn offices in California, Illinois, Nebraska, and New York.

"This company has shown a great deal of integrity by fully cooperating with investigators and stepping up to the plate without hesitation to help make workers whole," David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, said in a statement.

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Binary stars give planetary disks a twist
Aug 4, 2014

New measurements of the star system HK Tauri provide insight into the complicated environments that can govern the formation of exoplanets. Before scientists had the ability to study exosolar systems in detail, it was expected that other systems would look a lot like ours. The planets of our Solar System orbit in a plane that roughly corresponds to the Suns equator, occupying nearly circular orbits.

However, when exoplanets began to be discovered, that expectation of familiarity was shattered. Exoplanetary systems occupy all kinds of orbits, with inclination varying wildly. There is currently no consensus about what causes these planetary orbits to get so out of whack.

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Apple TV picks up flatter, redesigned interface in iOS 8
Aug 4, 2014
A look at the freshly redesigned Apple TV UI, taken from the latest developer beta. 9to5Mac

Apple reportedly seeded another beta of iOS 8 to developers today, and it came with a little something special for Apple TV users. 9to5Mac reports that the latest beta brings a refreshed user interface to the Apple TV, replacing the old iOS 6-style UI with a flatter look, updated icons, and refreshed fonts that bring it in line with iOS 7 and the forthcoming OS X Yosemite.Previous betas, while still based on iOS 8, used a version of the current interface.

We won't know until the official release whether iOS 8 will change anything about the way the Apple TV works, butjudging from the available screenshots, endless tapping and clicking of your remote will still be the primary method of navigation. Those hoping for some kind of Siri-powered voice control will have to keep waiting, either for new hardware with an embedded microphone or for an update to the Remote app for iOS devices(to name just two of the possible ways Apple could implement this feature).

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New Xbox One bundles add a game at no additional cost
Aug 4, 2014
The Xbox One definitely puts the "box" in Xboxit has none of the contours or curves of the various 360 models. Kyle Orland

It's been only a couple of months since Microsoft finally lowered the price of a (Kinect-free) Xbox One to $399. Now, it seems Microsoft is prepared to add to the value of that console by offering one of two free games bundled with the hardware in the near future.

The first bundle, officially announced today "in limited supply only," will package an Xbox One console with a copy of Madden NFL 15 and will be available "at select US retailers such as Microsoft retail stores" starting August 26, when the game comes out. In addition to special packaging, bundle purchasers will also get a download code for three NFL Ultimate Team packs. The bundle follows the announcement of EA'sXbox One-exclusive subscription service, EA Access,whichoffers early access to demo versions of many upcoming games, including Madden NFL 15.

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The never-ending conundrums of classical physics
Aug 4, 2014
Aurich Lawson

During its teenage and young adult yearswhat is now referred to as its classical periodphysics made a lot of mistakes.

In the old physics, mass and energy were separately conserved; particles positions and momenta could be arbitrarily specified; gravity acted instantaneously at a distance; the equality of gravitational and inertial mass was just a coincidence; and there was no speed limit. All these ideas and assumptions are now known to be in some way untenable. They're either inaccurate or theoretical dead-ends.

To put it plainly, classical physics is wrong. As such,there's really only one thing to dophysicists have since abandoned the old, mistaken ideas, right?

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EFF inaugurates Stupid Patent of the Month
Aug 4, 2014
EFF

Patent litigation reformfailed to pass Congressthis year, butthe issue of"patent trolls"paper companies that do nothing but sue over patentsreceived unprecedented attention. Activist groups that havebeen long focused on the issue, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, don't want the public pressure to let up.

Hence, EFF's newest patent campaign:the group will be announcing a "Stupid Patent of the Month." For August, the group has nominatedUS Patent No. 8,762,173, titled Method and Apparatus for Indirect Medical Consultation. Thepatent issued in June, and it dates back to an original filing in 2007.

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