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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday morning that the chamber would hold a rare Saturday vote on two pieces of legislation related to National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance. The vote comes as key NSA programs are set to expire on June 1 without action from Congress.

McConnell’s announcement comes as privacy advocates have been calling for reforms ahead of the June 1 deadline. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky spoke on the Senate floor for almost 11 hours last night about the need for surveillance reform, attempting to force a debate. Earlier this week the American Civil Liberties Union released polling to show that congressional action on surveillance does not match up with the majority of Americans’ opinion that the agencies tactics should be reformed.

Despite his own preference of a clean reauthorization of the Patriot Act, McConnell agreed under intense political pressure to allow a vote on the USA Freedom Act. The bill passed with a huge, 338-88 majority, in the House. TechCrunch noted at the time that the reform bill faced an “uncertain future” as it moved to the Senate. A week later, senators remain undecided on how they will cast their votes on Saturday.

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At Last, We Understand What Turns Fruit Flies On

We’ve been breeding the fly Drosophila melanogaster in the lab for decades. We’ve tinkered with their genes — giving them extra legs, curly wings, or odd colored eyes – in pursuit of understanding genetic inheritance and how tissues develop. But until now we didn’t know which chemical made them start to mate.

Image: Anna Schroll | Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

However, we did know which neurons in a fly’s brain responded to this unknown sex pheromone. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany used this circuit as a litmus test for fly odors: first isolating and separating chemicals from the surface of the fly exoskeleton, then testing each one to see whether it made the pheromone-sensitive neuron active. They found only one chemical got a strong response: a fatty acid called methyl laurate.

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Taking the One Ring back to the fires of Mount Doom from which it was forged involved a lot of walking and camping. Anyone who has read JRR Tolkien’s epic fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings or seen Peter Jackson’s film adaptations knows most of Frodo’s story is composed of incidents while walking or camping. If you happened to be reading a copy of the trilogy that included a map, you could see that, twice, Frodo’s journey takes him south along a mountain range with very little eastern progress made. The problem with that map — and all fantasy world maps, for that matter — is a problem of context.

The movies certainly helped with a concept of physical and emotional scope to the journey, filming wide vistas by swooping a helicopter around the green New Zealand landscapes and showing our characters as mere dots against mountains. It’s really only the discerning literature geek with a knowledge of the text, a solid recollection of the timeline mentioned in text, context clues, and a little time on their hands, who would ask, “Just how far are we talking about walking? Like, in real world terms?”

Luckily, The Lord of the Rings has been around long enough to amass a fandom capable of asking and answering these questions with equal amounts of detail.

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The Information reports that Google is working on a new Android-based operating system to run specifically on the emerging class of low-power devices, aka the Internet of Things. This new OS, dubbed "Brillo", is supposedly quite petite and may require as little as 32 or 64 megabytes of RAM to run. This marks a significant departure for Google considering its latest Android build demanded at least 512MB of RAM. However there's a lot to be gained by being the OS that drives out smart bulbs, thermostats and locks. Not only does it free OEMs from having to design their own IoT communications schemes, it should also strongly position the Mountain View-based company as the invisible backbone of tomorrow's smart home. If this rumor is indeed true, Google will likely announce it at next week's I/O developers conference. Stay tuned.

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Over the past decade, as professional gaming has become more commonplace and PC gaming as a whole has continued its steady trudge alongside its flashier console cousins, peripheral makers have had to expand beyond the age-old tactic of touting DPI numbers to attract new buyers. In the process, they’ve purchased licenses to use the word Teflon to advertise their mouse feet and they’ve added remappable buttons and adjustable weights.

RGB lighting is one of the more recent battlegrounds of peripheral production and it seems to have strayed over into the world of mouse mats too, as Razer has announced a new pad called the Firefly that comes equipped with its own brand of RGB backlighting, known as Chroma.

Related: Razer wants to bring gamers together, and it’s using a $20 fitness band to do it

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online backup

Now a days there are plenty of online backup services that you could go with if you need to back up your data for a safe and secure way of keeping it for as long as you live. You could go with a backup service like Carbonite and survive a PC disaster. But to me the easiest way is to just get a backup drive (USB Drive or an External Hard Drive) and locally back up all your data and just keep that drive stored somewhere where you can easily hook it up whenever you need to backup your stuff. My best practice is to always backup your important documents and keep the drive external instead of backing it up to your main drive which is the C:\ drive.

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LAST SEPTEMBER, The INQUIRER was invited to the birth of a revolution for storage company HGST.

The Big Bang event in San Francisco saw HGST president Mike Cordano declare that the company was "no longer your father's storage company", pledging to move over to a combination of PCIE flash and helium filled drives, and away from traditional air-filled spindles.

Seven months later we caught up with chief technology officer Dave Tang, one of the architects of the transformation, during a recent trip to London to find out how it's all going.

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A new Steve Jobs movie and OLED wallpaper in CNET UK Podcast 434 - CNET
CNET Tech Culture A new Steve Jobs movie and OLED wallpaper in CNET UK Podcast 434

Prepare your ears for all the latest tech news, from futuristic antennas to all new Macs. Plus, we discuss your reactions to the new Steve Jobs biopic starring Michael Fassbender.

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Every so often there are lawsuits where we note that both parties have a long history of doing the sort of thing that gets them written about on Techdirt in less-than-positive ways. Here's another one of those situations. Voltage Pictures is a well known copyright trolling firm, which is its side business along with producing some highly acclaimed movies. Voltage has gone on quite a rampage trying to shake down people all around the globe. The company's boss, Nicolas Chartier, tends to take a rather black and white view of the situation. Back when he first started shaking people down, someone sent him a friendly email noting (accurately) that going the copyright trolling route might hurt Voltage's reputation. Rather than considering the message, Chartier turned around and called the helpful emailer a "moron" and a "thief." This is someone who has quite a strong view on what he believes is his "property."

So it seems rather fascinating to hear that Toho is suing Voltage for copyright infringement, claiming that a new movie that it's producing, Colossal, infringes on its copyright on Godzilla. The movie was just announced last week, and the Hollywood Reporter described it this way:

In the movie — described as Transformers versus Adaptation and Godzilla meets Being John Malkovich; Hathaway will play Gloria, an ordinary woman who, after losing her job and her fiancé, decides to leave her life in New York to move back to her hometown.

But when news reports surface that a giant lizard is destroying the city of Tokyo, Gloria gradually comes to realize that she is strangely connected to these far-off events via the power of her mind. In order to prevent further destruction, Gloria needs to determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world.

Right. So, you can see why Toho might be mad, but Toho also has a long and storied history of suing basically anyone they think might be doing anything even loosely connected to Godzilla. It once went after Comcast for having a godzilla-like monster in a marketing campaign and a small mobile app firm for creating a silly game called Fingerzilla.

So... yeah. Two big firms with long histories of legal bullying/threatening/suing people that they feel are unfairly "stealing" their property, when both take a very ridiculous black and white view of what kind of "property" is being "stolen." Toho even makes note of Voltage's copyright troll history in the very opening of the lawsuit:

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Apple is said to be planning to bring built-in transit directions to its native Maps app in iOS 9. Transit directions were left out when Apple replaced Google Maps with its own offering as the default navigation app in iOS 6 back in 2012. The native transit directions offering is actually a feature that was held over from an intended release last year with iOS 8, according to 9to5Mac, which reported both that intended launch and this new iOS 9 inclusion.

Apple is said to have made a late-stage decision to take transit navigation out of iOS 8, according to the new report, and instead intends to launch it with this year’s update of its mobile OS. The directions would offer the ability to plan trips, getting estimated travel times for bus, train and subway transit methods. It would offer multiple trip options, as well as a special map view detailing local transit stops alongside its Standard, Hybrid and Satellite visualization options.

Besides transit, which is likely a welcome addition for many urban iOS device owners (especially now that the Apple Watch could potentially provide at-a-glance route checking) Apple is also said to be working on building out its indoor mapping capabilities. The ability to navigate major landmarks and buildings with granular indoor directions is a feature that Apple apparently wants to offer, though it like will come at a later date, rather than bundled with the iOS 9 update we’ll almost certainly see introduced at WWDC in June.

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Having hiking boots that fit right is key to being comfortable and preventing injury. But unlike shoes, you don’t want boots with a flexible sole—keep this in mind when you shop.

If the soles bend too easily, your feet will move up and down a lot as you walk. You’ll end up tiring your feet muscles out more quickly—not good if you plan to hike far! It may feel weird or uncomfortable when you’re trying them on, but you’ll be much happier once you get out on the trail. Check out the video above for more tips on buying hiking boots.

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Longtime Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn will handle the bulk of production for the company's next-generation iPhone, and will also be the sole manufacturer of the anticipated 12.9-inch iPad, both on track to launch this fall, according to well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

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Apple's so-called "iPhone 6s" will stick to 4.7- and 5.5-inch sizes, with the former accounting for 66 percent of units, said KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a memo provided to Taiwan's China Post. Kuo also repeated the view that the new phones will use the Force Touch technology found on the Apple Watch and newer MacBooks, allowing another level of control.

The bulk of manufacturing orders will go to Foxconn because the company has a better yield rate with iPhones, the analyst suggested.

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SALES OF GOOGLE CHROMEBOOKS will climb 27 percent in 2015, according to analyst outfit Gartner, despite failing to make a dent in the enterprise market.

Gartner's stats show that Chromebook sales will grow to 7.3 million units in 2015, up from the 5.7 million Chrome OS devices shipped last year.

This growth goes against the continued downfall of the PC market, which saw shipments tumble 7.7 percent in the first quarter, but Google is still struggling to make an impact on the business market.

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If you’re in a panic because the Internet told you that your shiny new SSD may lose data in “just a few days” when stored in a hot room, take a chill pill—it’s apparently all a huge misunderstanding, according to the man who wrote the original presentation all the fear is based on.

In a conversation with Kent Smith of Seagate and Alvin Cox, the Seagate engineer who wrote the presentation that set the Internet abuzz, PCWorld was told we’re all just reading it wrong.

“People have misunderstood the data that they’re looking at,” Smith said. 

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Apple has a new patent application for a mobile hotspot (via AppleInsider), which might surprise people since it hardly seems like the type of accessory the iPhone maker would go out of its way to create. It becomes interesting, however, when you think about how a dedicated mobile hotspot might provide a way to connect the Apple Watch to cellular networks on the go, with a package much smaller and more easily portable than the iPhone.

The patent application doesn’t specifically refer to the Apple Watch, but it does describe how it might be used to replace devices like iPhones as portable hotspots when a user wants to minimize the number of devices they’re carrying around with them, specifically while doing things like hiking, camping or jogging.

Apple Watch’s ability to act independently of the iPhone is limited, but it can work while jogging for activity tracking. Many analysts, bloggers and Apple watchers have noted that they would love for the Watch to also be able to retain a cellular connection while on the go, as that would mean they could leave their phone at home for more activities. A hotspot accessory has the potential to address that need, while also acting as a connecting device for things like the new MacBook, and while offloading the battery cost to a dedicated device.

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The popularity of Java is not because of it's "easy to read" nature, but because it is fairly forgiving for programmers that don't really know what they are really doing.

I programmed in Java for 15+ years and it is not the best language now (more of a legacy language) that tends to get riddled with boilerplate code which requires code generation and produces an outcome that is not as clear and concise as it could be.

It is however a forgiving language where if you don't understand memory management --

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Suey Park, a Year After #CancelColbert

In a compassionate and intelligent profile for The New Republic, Elizabeth Bruenig talked with Internet social justice activist Suey Park about her Christianity, backing off from Twitter and the toll that #CancelColbert notoriety took on her personal and professional life over the last year.

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2015-05-21 11:15:17 UTC

There's nothing quite like a relaxing drive down a country road, sun shining and music playing. There's also nothing like nearly plummeting off the edge of a cliff because you didn't quite make a tight turn.

Right?

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eBay is testing a customer loyalty program to rival Amazon's Prime initiative, offering buyers speedy delivery and free returns on items for an annual fee. The program reportedly dubbed eBay+ is currently being trialled in parts of Germany, with plans to roll out the service to the whole of the country scheduled for the second half of the year. The loyalty program is being tested with a handful of top-rated sellers, and although pricing has yet to be announced, it's thought that the annual subscription fee for buyers could be somewhere between €15 and €20 (around $17 to $22).

Participating sellers will get preferential treatment in search results

"Through this new program, sellers will have the opportunity to commit existing customers even more strongly to themselves and to gain new customers in addition," Maike Fuest, eBay Germany's director of communications, told The Street. According to the company's website, participating sellers will receive an unspecified discount on the sales commission they pay to eBay, while their products will also be "marked and highlighted" in search results.

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