Netflix is now also paying AT&T to improve streaming quality

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Netflix has signed another interconnection deal with another ISP: AT&T. The two sides have reached an agreement that should over time result in better streaming performance for Netflix subscribers. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, so we don’t know how much Netflix paid for direct access to AT&T’s network. But it’s likely modeled after similar deals Netflix reached with Comcast and Verizon earlier in the year. Mashable first reported the new agreement between Netflix and AT&T.

Unbeknownst to customers, Netflix and AT&T actually came to an interconnection agreement back in May. But the company is only now “beginning to turn up the connections,” a spokesperson told The Washington Post. That process will be completed within a…

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This is Bolt, Instagram’s new messaging app

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Instagram has quietly unveiled its new “one-tap” messaging app, Bolt, for iOS and Android. The app lets you quickly send a photo (or video) to a friend, which then disappears once it’s been read. Bolt is essentially a carbon copy of buzzy messaging app Taptalk, although a lot prettier. Tap on a friend’s face to send a photo instantly, or long-press on their face to send a video. Shake your phone to undo an accidental Bolt. But there’s a catch: Bolt is for now only available in New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa.


Check back soon for more images.

“We’re going to other regions soon, but are starting with handful of countries to make sure we can scale the experience,” an Instagram spokesman tells The Verge. “Instagram has 65…

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UK police try to spook piracy website users with banner ads

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Would an ominous banner ad be enough to dissuade you from illegally stealing an album or movie? UK authorities are apparently hoping so. The City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is plastering ads across known piracy websites in an attempt to make users think twice before clicking the download button. “This website has been reported to the police,” reads the ad. “Please close the browser page containing this website.” Authorities partnered with local “creative and advertising industries” to replace regular advertisements with the straightforward warnings.

The ads appear on all sites that’ve been added to PIPCU’s new “Infringing Websites List” (ICL). That list is currently about 70 websites long, a…

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How clinical trials are turning homeless people into lab rats

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Drugs need to go through a lot of testing before they actually make it to market, but that testing isn’t all occurring in quite as ethical of a way as we might hope. Over at Medium, Carl Elliott describes the growing use of homeless people as test subjects in drug trials. Homeless shelters have become something of a target for recruiters trying to find subjects, as shelters have a wealth of people looking for jobs and willing to overlook whatever side effects might come with the trial. But the situation is potentially made even worse for these subjects than it would be for the average volunteer, as recruiters are often able to find people there with mental illnesses. You can read the full piece, the first of a two part investigation on…

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The Senate’s latest, best hope for NSA reform

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NSA reform has been building steam for over a year now, but while the courts and even the White House have shown movement, Congress has struggled to come up with a meaningful bill. But that may change this week, as Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduces his version of the USA Freedom Act to the Senate. Even before the bill was public, it was hailed by the New York Times as “a breakthrough in the struggle against the growth of government surveillance power,” and being named by reformers as congress’s best hope for a meaningful response to NSA overreach.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk will appear on ‘The Simpsons’

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Elon Musk seems to end up wildly successful in pretty much any venture that he’s undertaking, and it appears that success extends into fictional worlds as well. According to EW, Musk will cameo on The Simpsons in a future episode, where he’ll turn up in Springfield and somehow manage to bankrupt Mr. Burns. This won’t be the first time that Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, has been referenced in the show — an earlier episode used his name as a body spray scent — but this will be the first time that he shows up in person.

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Former NSA chief makes up to $1 million a month selling cybersecurity services

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General Keith Alexander was in charge of the National Security Agency when all hell broke loose and former security contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents showing the organization was spying far beyond the extent to which most people were aware (or comfortable with). But he’s not letting that episode stop him from launching what looks to be an exceptionally lucrative private career selling…you guessed it, cybersecurity software.

As Bloomberg first reported last week, Alexander has spent the last few months since his retirement as NSA head in March giving paid talks on cybersecurity to banks and other large financial institutions. Bloomberg also noted that Alexander has charged up to $1 million a month for his services, and even…

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Tor received $1.8 million in US federal funds last year, while the NSA tried to crack it

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One arm of the US government may be trying to crack Tor, but another arm is handing Tor money — a lot of it. As spotted by the Guardian, the anonymous browsing tool Tor is reporting that it received over $1.8 million in federal funds last year, a figure that’s gone up 50 percent from 2012. It’s ironic news, as the NSA and other intelligence organizations have been attempting to undermine Tor, which is generally able to hide the tracks of someone who uses it while browsing the web.

Most of Tor’s funding didn’t come straight from the US government, however. While it received over $1.8 million in federal funds, much of that was handed out through third parties. Two donors, the nonprofits SRI International and Internews Network, contributed…

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EA is letting Xbox One owners pay $5 a month to play all its best games

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Electronic Arts has announced a new subscription service that gives Xbox One owners access to some of its biggest games for a small monthly fee. Called EA Access, the service is launching to select users in beta today, with a starting price of $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year. The company says EA Access will “launch for everyone on Xbox One soon.” Paying for the subscription will get you access to what EA calls its Vault, a collection of games you’ll have unlimited access to as long as you’re subscribed. During the beta, that will include a sampling of four titles — FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4 — though the company says more games will be added “soon.”

The service will also get you early access to some of EA’s…

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Signal brings painless encrypted calling to iOS

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Encryption is hard. As the NSA leaks create new demand for secure voice and texting apps, it’s a lesson developers have learned over and over. It’s not just writing secure code — although that’s hard too — but ending up with a program that your average user can actually navigate.

When it comes to tackling that problem, Whisper Systems has an unusually strong track record. The company made RedPhone and TextSecure for Android, tackling encrypted calls and texts respectively. Now they’re making the leap to iOS, and taking the opportunity to produce one of the company’s simplest and most intuitive interfaces yet.

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Scientists discover ‘killer’ roundworm sperm

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When it comes to sex, animals have developed a plethora of tricks to avoid mixups with other species. They use sight, smell, and even feel to tell each other apart. But in certain cases, the similarities between species are just too strong, so internal processes, such as a female’s ability to detect sperm from another species and select those that belong to her own, have to pick up the slack. This is what tends to happen with Caenorhabditis worms, a type of roundworm. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work — sometimes the sperm cells are just too quick, and things can go terribly wrong.

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I killed Facebook and left its body in the woods

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Facebook is dead. I killed it. You’ll find its remains somewhere on the eastern shore of Maryland, in the forest beside a creek. I’ll never hear its notifications again, at least not over the chirping of birds and the rumbling crescendos of cicadas.

I spread its body parts out, and buried them deep. Worms are munching on 10 years of wall posts, turning them over and excreting them in the soil. Bacteria are dissolving my college photos from the inside. The flesh of my profile picture has withered away, leaving behind a faceless void. Only bones will remain, for a time, among friends and relatives, until the coming flood of brands and sponsored likes washes them away into oblivion.

My colleague Ellis Hamburger says Facebook has a friend…

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Enter the sharknado: a final day at Comic-Con 2014

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You can’t get into Hall H every day. For the final installment of our animated series, I set off for Comic-Con’s biggest venue in search of new adventures. But the line for the day’s biggest and best panels was more than a mile long, and I abandoned all hope early on. Fortunately Thunder Levin, the screenwriter of Sharknado and this week’s Sharknado 2, was around to talk to me about upping the ante, crazy filming conditions, and what happened when he introduced himself to Richard Dreyfuss.

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Endure and survive: how Naughty Dog brought ‘The Last of Us’ to the PS4

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Playing though Naughty Dog’s post-pandemic survival adventure The Last of Us is an intense, grueling, and highly rewarding experience — one that’s only heightened by the just-released remaster for the PlayStation 4. The Last of Us Remastered checks all the boxes you’d expect it to. The resolution has been increased to 1080p and the game now runs at 60 frames per second, with improved lighting and character models. There’s also a host of bonus material, including the Left Behind single-player…

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Uber for Business launches to let companies pay for employee travel

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Uber wants to help you get around while you’re at work, and it’s launching a new business service today to let workers do that on their company’s dime. Uber for Business allows companies to grant their employees the option of billing travel receipts directly to a company card, rather than having to pay for the travel on their own and then expense it. For workers whose company supports it, they’ll start to see a second payment option in Uber, allowing them to switch back and forth between personal and business payments. Uber will also integrate with the expensing service Concur to automatically file receipts for those who use it.

For now, Uber for Business appears as though it’ll work best for small companies, as each employee needs to…

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I went to Comic Con and all I got was this lousy sense of ennui and a sneak preview of ‘Penguins of Madagascar’

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San Diego Comic-Con is an impossible place, because everything that’s terrible about it is basically mitigated by everything wonderful about it. The annual gathering brings together tens of thousands of geeks to celebrate their fandom as movie studios market upcoming blockbusters with exclusive trailers and clips. On one hand you spend incalculable amounts of time in line; on the other, you meet George R.R. Martin. There is nothing easy or relaxing about the biggest event in all of fandom;…

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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ poster puts exploding building above Sept. 11 release date

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The upcoming Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is set to open on September 11th in Australia, which was today highlighted by a new promotional poster published to Paramount’s Twitter and Facebook streams. The image was quickly retracted, however, after users reacted angrily to the combination of its release date and the artwork above it, depicting the four turtles jumping out of an exploding skyscraper.

Evoking the tragic events of the World Trade Center attacks in New York 13 years ago was certainly not Paramount’s intention, as evidenced by the fact that this particular poster had already been used a week earlier, albeit without the offending opening date. And, unlike AT&T last year, Paramount’s blunderous tweet made…

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Microsoft is about to launch a selfie phone and a new ‘high-end’ Windows Phone

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Microsoft is planning to launch two new Windows Phone 8.1 devices shortly. Sources familiar with the company’s plans tell The Verge that Microsoft devices chief Stephen Elop revealed both handsets during an internal company meeting this week. Elop showed off what he described as a “selfie phone” during the presentation, alongside video teasers of the two handsets. Microsoft’s selfie phone was previously revealed as codename Superman, a handset with a 5-megapixel forward-facing camera and 4.7-inch display.

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HTC One with Windows Phone reportedly coming to Verizon this August

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A Windows Phone version of the HTC One has been a long-standing rumor, but it now appears the handset might be close to launching imminently. The Verge revealed at the weekend that HTC is testing a Windows Phone version of the One M8, and WP Central now claims the device will launch on Verizon on August 21st. Labelled the “One (M8) for Windows,” HTC’s latest Windows Phone is expected to be a carbon copy of its Android handset, complete with BoomSound speakers and Duo cameras. HTC’s One M8 for Windows will likely ship with Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 installed, alongside the Dot View case that uses the new smart cover support that Microsoft recently revealed to phone makers.

There’s no word on an exclusive for Verizon, but the US carrier…

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‘Mike Tyson Mysteries’ looks like Scooby-Doo on hallucinogens

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Evil is about to be punched in the face. Adult Swim recently revealed a sneak peek of Mike Tyson Mysteries, an upcoming animated series that will star the tattooed boxer, a ghost, a teenage girl, and an acerbic, alcoholic pigeon with a taste for human women. The two-minute clip is rife with bizarre situations and questionably written dialogue, including a brief glimpse of Tyson riding a purple pterodactyl with a rocket launcher in hand. Mike Tyson Mysteries is slated to begin airing later in fall. It will feature the voices of Saturday Night Live’s Norm Macdonald, MAD’s Rachel Ramras, Community’s Jim Rash, and the inimitable Iron Mike himself.

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