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The Art of Technology
Updated: 6 years 37 weeks ago

Big bidding: Apple, Microsoft, RIM nab Nortel patents for $4.5 billion

Fri, 2011/07/01 - 14:41

The bidding war over the patent portfolio from bankrupt Canadian telecom Nortel's has ended. Google began the bidding on the collection of 6,000+ patents at $900 million, but Nortel announced today that the wining bid came from a consortium of companies including Apple, Microsoft, and RIM, which pooled $4.5 billion.

Nortel's portfolio includes numerous patents on mobile technology, including 3G and 4G wireless networking, optics, voice processing, semiconductors, and more. "The extensive patent portfolio touches nearly every aspect of telecommunications and additional markets as well, including Internet search and social networking," Nortel said in a statement.

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Alaska judge strikes down yet another online censorship bill

Fri, 2011/07/01 - 13:40

A federal judge has added Alaska to the steadily growing list of states who have been smacked down for trying to censor the Internet. Legislation signed by Alaska Governor Sean Parnell last year would have held adults criminally liable for distributing sexually explicit material to minors over the 'Net.

A coalition of plaintiffs filed suit last August, alleging that the statute violates the First Amendment. Yesterday, Judge Ralph Beistline agreed and struck down the law.

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Sendoff: Jon "Hannibal" Stokes marches his elephant army out of Ars

Fri, 2011/07/01 - 13:20

This is a weighty day for Ars: our own Jon Stokes is stepping away from his day-to-day role with Ars to pursue a host of new opportunities. And we're sending him off with gratitude for his great service to our community and best wishes for the future.

Thirteen years is an eternity online, but that’s how long Ars Technica has been kicking around the streets, rustling up its own style of tech coverage and community. And in that thirteen years, one of my best decisions I made as the founder and editor-in-chief of Ars was reaching out to Jon Stokes, a colleague of mine in IT at Harvard, to join this beast of a site at its birth. It was the summer of 1998, we were in our early 20s, and fate had brought us both to a crappy basement in Rockefeller Hall in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I had just been appointed as Systems Architect, and Jon was working on an Access database project. For some strange reason, in between the IT work, the study of classical Greek, and ruminations about the divine, we always had steam left for Ars Technica.

Jon once told me that part of his interest in Ars was rooted to a desire to hone his writing skills, which were always better than he admitted. It was a shared motivation, actually: Jon and I were both graduate students at Harvard studying ancient Christianity, and at the time, we both thought our careers lay in academe, not a .com. For many years, both of us saw Ars as this “other thing we did"; neither of us realized that it was, in fact, the thing we did best, and the thing to which we paid the most attention.

In those early days, whether at our remote office at Sullie’s in Somerville or at one of the many Indian buffets we wrecked, Jon and I watched bubbles rise and pop, fads come and go, and an Ars audience grow in a way that was amazingly rewarding. We even took out personal loans (not VC money) to float the site when things got tough after the .com bubble broke. No matter how bad things got, and no matter what personal challenges confronted us, we served Ars Technica as best we could. I consider myself fortunate to have Jon Stokes as a co-founder of Ars Technica, and any fan of Ars should feel the same way.

We’re not saying goodbye to Jon; he will continue to do freelance work for Ars, as well as work for and undoubtedly others. But he's leaving Ars in its strongest ever position: our staff is top notch, revenues and traffic are at all time highs, and we're excited about the future. Join me in wishing Jon bonam fortunam!

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4 million strong Alureon P2P botnet "practically indestructible"

Fri, 2011/07/01 - 12:55

Researchers at Kaspersky Labs analyzing the 4.5 million-strong Alureon botnet (also known as TDL and TDSS) have branded it "practically indestructible." Law enforcement agencies have had some success recently at disrupting and bringing down botnets, with Coreflood, Rustock, and Waledac all successfully disrupted. The design of TDL's underlying rootkit is going to make similar retaliatory action much harder to pull of.

TDL-4 has been specifically designed to avoid destruction—whether by law-enforcement, anti-virus software, or competing botnets. On installation, TDL-4 will remove other rootkits, an act which both deprives competing operators of income and reduces the chance that the user will notice that their system is behaving strangely and attempt to repair it. The goal of a rootkit is to remain undetected, and that includes noticing that a computer simply isn't behaving correctly.

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Hands-on: Google+ mobile app for Android

Fri, 2011/07/01 - 11:36

Google's new social network, Google+, launched this week with much fanfare. The service has a Facebook-like news feed, a group video chat feature, and a compelling contact management system that gives users granular control over the visibility of the content they publish. But how well does it work on smartphones?

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