News & Updates

Enlarge / Gearah Goldstein speaks with her plastic surgeon, Dr. Loren Schechter, about her gender confirmation surgery. (credit: ASPS)

Gender confirmation procedures are on the rise in the US, doctors reported Monday.

Surgeons performed more than 3,200 transfeminine and transmasculine procedures in 2016, according to new data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). That’s nearly a 20 percent increase from numbers in 2015, when the ASPS began tracking the procedures, the society says.

Gender confirmation surgeries encompass a variety of procedures, including those that contour or transform the face, chest, or genitals. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to gender confirmation,” Loren Schechter, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Chicago, said in a statement. “There’s a wide spectrum of surgeries that someone may choose to treat gender dysphoria, which is a disconnect between how an individual feels and what that person’s anatomic characteristics are.”

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Enlarge / John L. Steele, photographed in Chicago in 2010. (credit: Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)

John Steele, one of the masterminds behind the Prenda Law “copyright trolling” scheme, has been disbarred. Court papers indicate that Steele agreed to the disbarment, which was announced by the Illinois Supreme Court on Friday.

Steele pled guilty in March to federal fraud and money laundering charges. Over the course of several years, Steele said he and a co-defendant, Paul Hansmeier, made more than $6 million with “sham entities” that threatened Internet users with copyright lawsuits.

Along with Hansmeier and a now-deceased attorney named Paul Duffy, Steele “conspired to extort settlement funds from thousands of Internet users in a multi-jurisdictional copyright litigation scheme,” Illinois attorney regulators said in a statement of charges. “Specifically, they attempted to exact settlements from users who allegedly infringed on the copyrights of certain pornographic movies, including movies that Mr. Steele himself produced and distributed.”

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Enlarge / A photo from the China Geological Survey. The researchers extracted methane hydrate from the bottom of the South China Sea. (credit: China Geological Survey)

This month, teams from Japan and China have successfully extracted methane hydrate, a hydrocarbon gas trapped in a structure of water molecules, off the seafloor. The substance looks like ice but can be set on fire, and it’s energy-dense—one cubic meter of methane hydrate can contain 160 cubic meters of gas.

This makes searching for methane hydrate an attractive research project for several countries. According to the Department of Energy, methane hydrates are abundant on the seafloor and under permafrost, and they contain “perhaps more organic carbon that all the world’s oil, gas, and coal combined.”

Such vast reserves of fossil fuels are untapped because of how difficult it is to extract them. As a 2012 post from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) stated, until recently, methane hydrates “provided more problems than solutions.” Preventing their formation around deepwater oil and gas drilling operations has been a crucial part of planning ocean wells. The “ice” substance that contains the gas generally can’t just be picked up off the seafloor because it disintegrates outside of its high-pressure environment. The South China Morning Post wrote that current extraction efforts involve machinery “to depressurize or melt [the methane hydrate] on the sea bed and channel the gas to the surface.”

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With the public charging infrastructure for electric cars expanding apace and Tesla Superchargers popping up like mushrooms, the concept of driving a few hundred miles in an EV is no longer as absurd a suggestion as it was just a couple of years ago. But ten thousand miles across Europe and central Asia? Come on now.

That’s exactly what Chris Ramsey of Plug In Adventures plans to do, entering an all-electric Nissan Leaf in the 2017 Mongol Rally charity run. It’s the first time an electric vehicle has entered the event.

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Enlarge / Like my father always said, it’s always easier to climb a tower while riding a fire-breathing beast. (credit: WB Interactive / Monolith)

LOS ANGELES—Having played a fair amount of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, I thought I knew what I was in for with its upcoming sequel, Shadow of War. The badass, “slay orcs all around” hero of the first game, Talion, returns with some supernatural twists. You’ll use his new slate of dark superpowers against an even tougher crowd of Tolkien-inspired monsters.

At recent Shadow of War preview events, the series’ developers at Monolith have loudly hinted at one of the game’s major new concepts: leadership. Now that your ranger hero is infused with former rival Celebrimbor’s dark-elf powers, he can dominate orcs and conscript them to his own army. You’ll need the monsters’ help to invade and overthrow evil war chiefs at various fortresses and camps. These battlegrounds are packed full of powerful orc foes who remember you, and this idea builds upon SoM‘s “nemesis” system of persistent enemies.

But only last week did Monolith let a particular cat (or orc?) out of the bag: how bleedin’ hard this Lord of the Rings adventure game’s sequel will be.

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Enlarge / A wall of user photos form a Facebook logo at the company’s data center in Lulea, Sweden. (credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Just as the Tories—in their bid to form the next UK government—push for greater policing of free content ad networks, a trove of documents revealing the secret guidelines used by Facebook’s moderators to deal with posts from child abuse to suicide to terrorist propaganda has been leaked online.

The Guardian published the Facebook files on Sunday night. It reported some disturbing findings about what can and can’t be moderated on Facebook, after the newspaper was passed more than 100 internal training manuals that included spreadsheets and flowcharts on how the Mark Zuckerberg-run company deals with hate speech, violence, self-harm, and a whole range of other issues.

So, it’s absolutely fine—under Facebook rules—to leave up a violent, deeply misogynistic post that reads: “To snap a bitch’s neck, make sure to apply all your pressure to the middle of the throat.” Likewise for comments such as “kick a person with red hair,” or “let’s beat up fat kids.” But one that carries a message such as “Someone shoot Trump” is banned from the site, with moderators being advised to remove such a post.

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Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

HP announced a slew of updates to its Envy laptop line today, in addition to a mildly revamped Spectre x2. Many of these changes focus on elevating overall design, but in a practical way that doesn’t impede the power and efficiency of each device. Slimmer bezels, bold edges, and USB Type-C abound, giving way to a more modern-looking Envy family and Spectre x2.

Envy’s new edges

Envy laptops and convertibles are getting welcome improvements: in particular, the Envy 13 looks quite different now than when Ars’ Andrew Cunningham reviewed it last year. The most striking difference is the hinge, which now sports a shiny, sharp edge branded with the Envy name. Compared to the previous model’s rounded hinge, this looks and feels more premium, and it still lifts the laptop slightly off its surface to allow better airflow.

Although it maintains that lift-hinge and tapered design, the new Envy 13 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, measuring .55-inches thick and weighing 2.7 pounds. Combine its new edginess with its all-metal construction and you have a laptop that appears better positioned to take on devices like the Dell XPS 13.

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A new firmware released for NightHawk R7000 Netgear routers includes a remote data collection feature, here’s how to turn off it.

In December, a researcher who used the online moniker AceW0rm released a proof-of-concept code exploit working against some NetGear routers because the vendor did not reply to his ethical disclosure occurred in in August.

Some versions of Netgear routers remained affected by a security flaw that could be exploited by hackers to gain root access on the device and remotely run code.

AceW0rm privately disclosed the flaw to Netgear in August but he did not receive any response from the company.

In a first time, security experts warned of serious security issues in two Netgear routers, the Netgear R7000 and R6400 routers but the situation was worst.

Netgear publicly admitted the vulnerability and informed its customer that it was aware of the issue affecting home routers belonging to Netgear’s Nighthawk line.

Netgear routers

Last week Netgear rolled out a firmware update only for its wireless router model NightHawk R7000, but experts discovered it included a remote data collection feature that collects router’s analytics data and sends it to the vendor.

Experts believe Netgear will release firmware updated with this feature also for other router models in upcoming days.

The last firmware issued by the company include a remote data collection feature that gathers the following information from the devices:

  • Total number of devices connected to the router
  • IP address
  • MAC addresses
  • Serial number
  • Router’s running status
  • Types of connections
  • LAN/WAN status
  • Wi-Fi bands and channels
  • Technical details about the use and functioning of the router and the WiFi network.

Netgear downplayed the issue declaring that the procedure in the new firmware is a routine diagnostic data.

“Technical data about the functioning and use of our routers and their WiFi network can help us to more quickly isolate and debug general technical issues, improve router features and functionality, and improve the performance and usability of our routers.” reads the advisory published by NetGear.”Such data may include information regarding the router’s running status, number of devices connected to the router, types of connections, LAN/WAN status, WiFi bands and channels, IP address, MAC address, serial number, and similar technical data about the use and functioning of the router, as well as its WiFi network.”

Of course, customers are concerned about this data collection, especially about IP address and MAC address being collected by the firm.

Users can disable this feature following the instructions published by Netgear:

  1. Launch a web browser from a computer or mobile device that is connected to the network.
  2. Enter
    A login window opens.
  3. Enter the router user name and password.
    The user name is admin. The default password is password. The user name and password are case-sensitive.
    The BASIC Home page displays.
  4. Select ADVANCED > Administration > Router Update.
    The Router Update page displays.
  5. Scroll down to the Router Analytics Data Collection section.
  6. To enable router analytics data collections, select the Enable radio button.
  7. To disable router analytics data collections, select the Disable radio button.
  8. To view the type of data that might be collected, click the router analytics data link.
  9. Click the Apply button.
    Your settings are saved.

Some experts are questioning how router data is stored by the company.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Netgear R7000 and R6400 routers, hacking)

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Source: Security affairs

Enlarge / The Bullet Cluster, which has been viewed as a demonstration of dark matter. (credit: APOD)


The Universe is a strange place. Apart from the normal matter that we see around us, there appears to be a far larger amount of matter that we cannot see—the infamous dark matter. Even more puzzling, the Universe seems to be bathed in a similarly invisible dark energy, which drives the Universe to expand faster and faster. This all points to something missing from our understanding. At the moment, we tend to think that dark matter is something missing from quantum mechanics, a particle that provides dark matter. Dark energy seems to be more gravity related.

But it’s possible the two are linked. According to Professor Erik Verlinde from the University of Amsterdam, it may be that dark matter does not exist. His work indicates that in a Universe with dark energy (a positive cosmological constant), gravity does not exactly follow general relativity. His preliminary calculations indicate that the difference between general relativity and his work may provide forces that we currently ascribe to dark matter.

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Ahead of the massive Clash of Clans update 9.24.1, Supercell released a balancing update for the epic strategy game. The balancing update brought in a new level for clone spell and increased the capacity of clone spell levels 1-5. Freeze spell level 6 and Heal spell level 7 have been introduced. 7th Gold Mine and […]

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