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Original author: 
Cyrus Farivar

On Thursday, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, announced that it would require all users to “be verified in order to perform any currency deposits and withdrawals. Bitcoin deposits do not need verification, and at this time we are not requiring verification for Bitcoin withdrawals.”

The company did not provide any explanation about why it was imposing this new requirement, but it did say that it would be able to process most verifications within 48 hours.

The move comes two days after federal prosecutors went after Liberty Reserve, another online currency that had notoriously poor verification. (In court documents, a federal investigator in that case included an address of “123 Fake Main Street, Completely Made Up City, New York” to create an account that was accepted.) It also comes two weeks after the Department of Homeland Security started investigating Mt. Gox over the possible crime of money transmitting without a license.

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Original author: 
Lee Hutchinson

Apparently, I'm a Bitcoin miner now, and it looks like I'm actually pretty good at it. Ars is currently in possession of one of the elusive but very real Butterfly Labs Bitcoin Miners. It's a tiny little black box that fits in the palm of my hand, and it contains a specialized ASIC adept at chewing through SHA-256 cryptographic functions—exactly the kind of calculations necessary to bring more Bitcoins into the world. Turns out, it's very good at what it does: it computes hashes at the rate of about 5.3 billion per second.


The Butterfly Labs Bitcoin Miner. Lee Hutchinson


Close-up of the ASIC's heat sink and some of the motherboard components. Lee Hutchinson


The Miner disassembled. That 80mm fan gets pretty darn loud. Lee Hutchinson

I've got any number of computers around the house here to try the Butterfly Labs box out with, but I took the masochistic route and chose to try it out on OS X. This took quite a bit of back-and-forth with John O'Mara, creator of the popular MacMiner Bitcoin mining application. After several hours of troubleshooting, we eventually arrived at success. Here it is, happily churning away:


The Butterfly Labs Bitcoin Miner chewing its way through calculations at more than five billion hashes per second. Lee Hutchinson

According to my trusty Kill-A-Watt, the miner is drawing a pretty constant 50 watts at a similarly constant 0.73 amps. Its 80mm fan is whirring at what can only be described as "hair dryer" levels. According to MacMiner, the ASIC is generating a fair amount of heat, too—it's reporting a temperature of more than 80C.

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Original author: 
WIRED UK

Ars Technica

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is investigating free-to-play mobile and Web games to see if children are "unfairly pressured or encouraged" to buy expensive in-game extras.

Offering a game for free—but charging for further content in-game like extra levels, power-ups, and accessories—is an extremely popular business model for many companies. Currently, 80 of the 100 top-grossing Android apps on the Google Play store are free-to-play but make their money with in-game purchases.

The OFT's statement reads: "The OFT investigation is exploring whether these games are misleading, commercially aggressive, or otherwise unfair. In particular, the OFT is looking into whether these games include 'direct exhortations' to children—a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them. This is unlawful under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008."

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Original author: 
Ars Staff

This week at Ars Technica we saw the rise of Bitcoin in the popular consciousness and the unraveling of Prenda Law, the infamous porn-trolling firm that is battling possible sanctions against its lawyers. We looked at modeling tectonic plates in sugar water and we reviewed the HTC First—the phone that will carry Facebook's latest foray into the mobile world. Think you missed something important? Take a look at the list below and see if you need to catch up on anything before the next week.

Plant Technica bonus round: How to create near-infinite clones of your favorite tomato (or any) plant

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Original author: 
Casey Johnston


All the bits and pieces that go into a pair of virtual reality goggles.

iFixit

iFixit posted a teardown of the Oculus Rift headset Wednesday to see what, exactly, the virtual reality headset is made of. The teardown reveals the types of screens and controllers the Oculus Rift uses, and though the score is preliminary, iFixit gave it a 9 out of 10 user repairability score—unusual in the glue, tape, and Torx screw times we now live in.

The Oculus Rift uses one 1280×800 LCD that is split down the middle to show one image each to the right and left eye to create a 3D image. The display is an Innolux HJ070IA-02D 7-inch LCD panel, provided by the same distributor rumored to be Apple’s source for replacement iPad mini screens. A custom-designed Oculus Tracker V2 board pings to track the headset's motion at a 1000Hz refresh rate.

The chips inside the device include an STMicroelectronics 32F103C8 Cortex-M3 microcontroller with a 72MHz CPU and an Invensense MPU-6000 six-axis motion tracking controller that has both a gyroscope and accelerometer. There is also a chip named A983 2206, which iFixit suspects is a “three-axis magnetometer, used in conjunction with the accelerometer to correct for gyroscope drift.”

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Original author: 
Casey Johnston


"I forgot how fun it was to read a school textbook."

j.lee43

There exists a textbook that will report back to your professors about whether you’ve been reading it, according to a report Tuesday from the New York Times. A startup named CourseSmart now offers an education package to schools that allows professors to, among other things, monitor what their students read in course textbooks as well as passages they highlight.

CourseSmart acts as a provider of digital textbooks working with publishers like McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and John Wiley and Sons. The NY Times describes books in use at Texas A&M University, which present an “engagement index” to professors that can be used to evaluate students’ performance in class.

The article cites a couple of examples where professors attribute students’ low grades to the CourseSmart-provided proof that the student never, or rarely, opened their books. The engagement index shows not only what, but when, students are reading, so if they opt not to peruse the textbook until the day or night before a test, the professor will know.

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Original author: 
Casey Johnston


A demo of how to use the mirror API and its output during Timothy Jordan's talk.

If you’re looking for a taste of what it will be like to develop for Google Glass, the company posted a video demonstrating the hardware and a little bit of the API on Thursday. Timothy Jordan, a senior developer advocate at Google, gave a talk at SXSW in early March that lasted just shy of an hour and gave a look into the platform.

Google Glass bears more similarity to the Web than the Android mobile operating system, so developing for it is simpler than creating an Android application. During the talk, Jordan goes over some the functionality developers can get out of the Mirror API, which allows apps to pop Timeline Cards into a user’s view, as well as show new items from services the user might be subscribed to (weather, wire services, and so forth).

Jordan also shows how users can interact with items that crop up using the API. When the user sees something they like, for instance, they can re-share it with a button or “love” it.

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The debate about whether games are a legitimate art form is a never-ending back-and-forth that's actually getting a bit tiresome at this point. At the very least, though, outside bodies are beginning to recognize that games at least contain artistic elements that are worthy of consideration in their own right. Thus, we have thatgamecompany's hauntingly beautiful, cello-heavy Journey soundtrack being nominated for a Grammy this year in the Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media category.

The Austin Wintory-composed soundtrack (which you can listen to in its entirety here) will compete directly with works by well-known film composers such as John Williams (The Adventure of Tintin), Howard Shore (Hugo), and Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight Rises). Wintory tweeted his speechless reaction to the nomination announcement and the outpouring of support he received following it. "I don't think I've ever felt genuinely overwhelmed before until last night, reading everyone's messages," he wrote. "You are all SO wonderful."

The soundtrack debuted at No. 8 on Billboard's "Soundtrack" charts (and No. 114 on the overall chart) by selling 4,000 copies in a week, putting it behind Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as the second-best-selling video game soundtrack ever. The game itself became the fastest-selling downloadable game ever on the PlayStation Network after its release earlier this year.

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From the building blocks of the Internet to the Mark of the Beast, Ars delivered more than a few exploratory articles on things that many of us find mysterious. How does carbon capture work, and how likely is it to be adopted? Got it covered. What's the state of autonomous drones? Check and check. Why isn't the Wii U's clock speed an acceptable variable upon which to judge the entire console? We have you up to date.

Naturally, some news articles are mixed in there as well, so have a gander and see if you missed anything this week, and catch up!

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