Google pushes back on expansion of FBI hacking powers

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As US law enforcement agencies look for more power over the digital realm, they’re facing increasing pushback from tech companies, particularly Google’s public policy arm. With a recent filing, Google pushed back against an obscure committee measure that would seek to give the FBI increased warrant power to seek out servers involved in illegal activity. The measure didn’t attract much attention when it was introduced to the Department of Justice last year, but today Google put it on the front page of the company’s public policy blog, calling out the measure as “a small rule change that could give the US government sweeping new warrant power.”

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Vizio P-Series review: now is the time to buy a 4K television

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There are two things you should know before buying a TV in 2015; You should only buy a 4K TV, and there is barely any 4K content you can watch on it right now. That sounds insane, but right now insanity is the best option for a TV shopper. But I’ve been testing the various ways TV manufacturers — especially Vizio — have been trying to deal with the madness. The most insane thing of all: it can actually work.

When you go into your local Best Buy and look at the 4K TVs on display with their extreme saturation and brightness cranked up to Sun-like levels, it’s more important than ever to remember that when you get home, your TV will probably look nothing like that. It’s not just the ridiculous settings the store uses, it’s the 4K content…

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Solyndra’s old facility is getting a new tenant: Elon Musk’s SolarCity

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Remember Solyndra? When the solar panel company went under in 2011, defaulting on a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, it became the name Republicans would invoke whenever they wanted to attack government support for renewable energy. Well, now solar is booming, and one of the biggest companies around is moving into Solyndra’s old digs.

SolarCity has leased the 200,000-square-foot Solyndra facility and is turning it into the R&D headquarters for its new manufacturing arm, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal. It’s just the latest move in SolarCity’s foray into panel manufacturing, which began in earnest last year with the purchase of Silevo and continued with the construction of a new factory in…

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Former GM CEO warns Apple against making cars

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Dan Akerson, who ran General Motors for less than three and a half years, issued a stern warning to Apple this week against making a car. In an interview with Bloomberg, he noted that making cars was hard. “A lot of people who don’t ever operate in it don’t understand and have a tendency to underestimate,” said Akerson, who has held no other executive positions in the automotive industry. “They’d better think carefully if they want to get into the hard-core manufacturing,” he said of Apple. “We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into car. They have no idea what they’re getting into if they get into that.”

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Sony will spin off its audio and video business as it searches for profitablity

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When Kazuo Hirai took over as CEO of Sony back in 2012, he laid out a vision for the company that would reorganize its sprawling business into “One Sony.” But exactly one year ago this month, Hirai decided to spin off the company’s TV business and sell its Vaio personal computer unit. Today he continued breaking Sony apart, announcing that it would spin off its audio and video business into a wholly owned subsidiary.

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Bidder backs out of auction for rare 20th anniversary PlayStation 4

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Last month, Sony auctioned off the very first model of its beautiful, limited edition 20th anniversary PlayStation 4, with the proceeds to be donated to the Save The Children Japan charity. And the move proved to be a huge success: the winning bidder offered ¥15,135,000, or about $129,000, for the rare console. Unfortunately, for reasons that are unclear, that person won’t be able to pay for the PS4 after all, and instead Sony will keep the machine and donate the same amount to the charity. The rare PS4, meanwhile, will be on display at Sony’s Ginza Showroom in Tokyo starting on February 21st, complete with its 00001 / 12300 badge.

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Amazon greenlights The Man in the High Castle TV series

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The Man in the High Castle, a Ridley Scott-produced adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s alternate history novel, is now officially part of Amazon’s video roster. The company announced today that Man in the High Castle and four other titles have made the jump from TV test pilot to full series. This includes the dark comedy Mad Dogs — an adaptation of a UK series about a group of underachieving forty-somethings whose reunion “becomes a labyrinthine nightmare of lies, deception and murder” — and combination fiction/documentary/general culture series The New Yorker Presents, as well as two children’s shows: YA book adaptation Just Add Magic and preschool-level series The Stinky & Dirty Show.

Amazon released a total of 13 pilots last month, with…

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Watch this giant fireball illuminate the sky over Pittsburgh

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A 500-pound space rock about two-feet in diameter entered the Earth’s atmosphere outside of Pittsburgh last night, according to NASA. The object detected by three NASA meteor cameras was moving at a speed of 45,000 miles per hour. Visibility was lost at an altitude of 13 miles, but the space agency speculates that fragments, or meteorites, might be found on the ground east of Kittanning, PA. NASA posted this animation from the meteor’s perspective showing its trajectory as it raced towards western Pennsylvania.

NASA maintains a network of more than a dozen specialized black-and-white cameras in its All Sky Fireball Network. The growing network of cameras was set up by the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office (MEO) with the aim of…

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If you like HTTP then you’ll love HTTP 2.0

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Most internet users don’t consider the protocols that underpin the web anymore than they do the stitching in their socks, but a major update to HTTP — the protocol that lets browsers download websites from servers — will affect everyone who goes online. After years in development, HTTP/2 has been formally approved. Although it will take many months (and possibly years) before it’s used around the web, the update will bring with it a global internet that’s more robust, more secure, and faster.

Like cramming multiple bits of paper into a single envelope

Although HTTP/2 has been developed by an industry body (the IETF HTTP Working Group) it’s based on a custom version of the protocol created by Google named SPDY (fittingly pronounced…

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How to make a million dollars on Etsy — buy from Alibaba and run your store like eBay

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Online marketplace Etsy is known as a place to buy home-made items, clothing, artworks, and jewelry created by individuals or produced in limited runs by small businesses. But not everyone using the site ascribes to this folksy philosophy. Others, such as Alicia Shaffer, are using Etsy like eBay, buying items wholesale from huge retailers such as Alibaba, and reselling them through the site.

Shaffer claims her store, ThreeBirdNest, earns her just shy of a million dollars a year. The second-most successful store on the entire site, Shaffer’s store sells clothing and accessories — socks, headbands, boot cuffs, and T-shirts with slogans such as “Feed me and tell me I’m pretty.” ThreeBirdNest advertises its products as “handmade boutique”…

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Facebook is working on virtual reality versions of its apps

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Facebook is building versions of its apps in virtual reality, according to Chris Cox, the company’s head of product. Speaking at Recode‘s Code Media conference in Dan Point, CA, Cox told interviewer Peter Kafka that Facebook VR is on its way. “We’re working on apps for VR,” he said. Cox didn’t describe the apps in detail, but imagined a world where users will be able to share their current environment with other users using an app. He imagined that it could become an everyday way of sharing. “You’ll do it. Beyoncé will do it,” he said. (He was using Beyoncé as a generic example of a celebrity.)

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Taylor Swift releases 1989 bonus songs on iTunes months after CD version

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Global pop sensation and soon-to-be Kanye collaborator Taylor Swift is releasing three new songs on iTunes this week. Except they’re not technically new songs. Swift announced on Twitter that she was bringing the bonus songs packaged with the deluxe version of her most recent album, 1989, to Apple’s music service. The first track to hit iTunes, “Wonderland,” is out now, with more to follow.

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UMass Amherst prohibits Iranian national students from taking engineering and science courses

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In what it claims to be an attempt to begin complying with a more than two-year-old US law, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has said that it will no longer allow Iranian citizens to enroll in many of its science and engineering programs. The schools says that the policy is “unfortunate” but necessary to comply with sanctions against Iran. However, the law that it cites doesn’t actually appear to require this. The university references the “Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012,” which prohibits Iranian citizens from receiving US visas if they intend to attend college and then return to Iran to work in energy, nuclear, or related fields.

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Hulu’s Watchlist simplifies the way you save movies and shows for later

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Back in 2013, Netflix tossed away its traditional instant watch queue in favor of “My List.” The feature reorders content you’ve saved for later and prioritizes the movies and shows you’re most likely to watch next. Now, Hulu is taking its own approach to improving the way users save stuff for later. Today the company announced Watchlist, a new section that combines three existing Hulu items (Queue, Favorites, and Shows You Watch) into a single feature.

And yeah, it sounds very similar to what Netflix is doing. Watchlist is about more than making a simple, static list of stuff you eventually hope to get to. Hulu thinks it can learn from your previous viewing habits and put your favorite shows and Criterion movies a single tap away….

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I recreated Michael Jordan’s ‘last shot’ in a room made of 10 million LEDs

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The NBA made some noise during its All-Star festivities this past weekend when it became the first major sport to embrace virtual reality. But across the street from the main event happening at Madison Square Garden, there was an ancillary event that offered fans a whole different type of immersion: a playable life-size half court made of LED screens.

It was an NBA holodeck, and I had to try it.

The specs were mind-bending. The four massive glowing walls created a 1,200-square-foot room comprised of 10 million LEDs spread across almost 1,000 screens. (Wired has even more detail if you’re interested.) The experience was programmed to let fans recreate one of Michael Jordan’s two most iconic moments: his go-ahead shot to beat…

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Netflix grabs a war drama starring the actor playing Fifty Shades’ Christian Grey

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Netflix is picking up another original movie, a war drama that’ll star Jamie Dornan — who’s currently playing the infamous male lead in Fifty Shades of Grey. Titled Jadotville, the film is about the 1961 siege of an Irish UN battalion composed of just 150 people by an army of 3,000 Congolese troops, according to Variety. It goes into production in April and is expected to debut on Netflix in 2016. It’s also possible that the film will have a limited theatrical run so that it can qualify for awards.

Outside of documentaries, this appears to be Netflix’s second deal for an individual movie. Its first movie is a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which is scheduled to debut in August. Netflix has also made bulk deals with Adam…

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You can now save photos and files straight to Dropbox in iOS

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When Apple released iOS 8 last fall, it made possible a lot of things that Android users have taken for granted for years now. Chief among those new features was the ability for third-party apps to work in Apple’s sharing system, which meant you could do a lot more with various links and files in iOS. Of course, third-party apps needed to be updated to work in this new sharing system, so it’s taken some time for these features to be completely taken advantage of.

You can now count Dropbox among the third-party apps that work with Apple’s sharing system, as of today. The company just pushed out a new update to its iOS app that inserts a “save to Dropbox” option in the sharing pane for certain types of files. For starters, it appears to…

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Verizon says it doesn’t need to worry about big spectrum purchases anymore

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After spending $10.4 billion in the latest spectrum auction — a sum that was only good enough for third place — Verizon Wireless is cooling off on the idea that it needs to make monumental spectrum purchases to keep its cellular network humming along. “Entering the auction, there were no markets where we felt compelled to acquire spectrum,” said Verizon’s Tony Melone during a conference call with shareholders. AT&T, the second-largest US carrier behind Verizon, spent $18.2 billion in the AWS-3 auction.

Verizon didn’t invest as heavily in the record-breaking auction, but Melone suggested the company is very pleased with its standing after picking up 181 new spectrum licenses, and now holds enough spectrum to comfortably “meet the…

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Google Play Music for iOS finally works on the iPad

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Google has been making solid iOS apps for a good long time now, and today it has pushed out a much-needed update to the Google Play Music app: it finally works natively on an iPad. With that, the Google Play Music app is pretty much at feature parity with the Android version — you can’t sign up for Google Play Music’s monthly subscription service through the app, because Apple would take a cut, but everything else is there. Both the iPad and iPhone versions have also been completely designed using Google’s Material Design language, making for a much better fit with the company’s other apps — though it’s a bit of a different look than what you’ll see in Apple’s default apps, of course.

In fact, with the addition of an iOS app, Google…

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How the NBA became the first major sport to embrace VR

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Last week, Samsung announced more details about how its partnership with the NBA is bringing the courtside experience to the Gear VR, starting with this past weekend’s All-Star festivities at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. It’s the first sport to embrace VR in this way, and if the hardware actually starts making it into users’ hands — and that’s a big ‘if’ — this kind of partnership could be the start of a new to experience sports. Since the game was right here in New York City, I headed to the arena on the night of the three-point and dunk contests to learn more about how and why the NBA is embracing this new technology — and doing it so quickly.

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