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Uber in India

It's no secret that Uber wants to improve its passenger safeguards and rescue its reputation, especially in India -- sexual assault claims led to a Delhi ban amid worries that the ridesharing company wasn't doing enough to screen drivers and protect riders. Now, however, Uber has explained just what it's doing to reassure jittery customers and skeptical governments. On a basic level, the firm is toughening up screening with closer looks at documents and research into more effective background checks. It's also establishing a local team for handling incidents, and an improved ShareMyETA button within the app (debuting first in India) lets you send your hired car's live position and driver details to worried friends.

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'The Interview's' depiction of Kim Jong-un

So you resisted the pressure to watch The Interview the second it became available, and you're not willing to rely on one review to decide whether it's really worth a download or theater trip just to stick it to hackers. No worries -- we've rounded up some of the more prominent reviews to give you a sense of whether or not the North Korean adventures of Franco and Rogen are any good. You may already have a sense of how well this over-the-top comedy fares, but don't be too quick to judge. You might find a few reasons to shell out some cash (or at least wait for that rumored Netflix release) to see The Interview, even if it's far from a cinematic masterpiece.

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DNA sample

Institutions have already been amassing huge DNA collections to catalog the world's creatures, but Moscow State University might just top them all. It's planning to build "Noah's Ark," a repository for the genes of every creature, living or extinct -- as long as the genes are readable, they'll either be cryogenically frozen or stored as pure data. Not surprisingly, it's going to be a massive undertaking in more ways than one. The Russian government is spending the equivalent of $194 million on the facility, which should occupy an enormous 166 square miles when it's finished in 2018.

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TV on the Internet

A US bankruptcy judge has declared that Aereo can sell off its technology to the highest bidder, but with a few large exceptions, according to Reuters. First off, the broadcasters who forced the streaming service off the air and into Chapter 11 can oppose any sale they don't like. They'll also be allowed to analyze Aereo's customer records before they're deleted to determine possible damages in further court proceedings. Interest is actually high in Aereo's tech -- despite all the legal problems, there are 17 potential bidders for the auction. However, that presents a dilemma for CBS, NBC, FOX and other broadcasters.

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Chevy Chase In 'Christmas Vacation'

The Christmas tree is kindling, the HoneyBaked ham is destined for two slices of white bread and, with any luck, you've already wiped your old devices to make way for new ones. For most of us, the annual gift giving spree is over and while we can think of a veritable feast of gadgets and gizmos we'd be happy to receive, we're curious to find out what you got (and gave) over the holidays. So, follow us into the comments for our annual post-holiday show and tell.

[Photo by Warner Brothers/Getty Images]


Facebook's automated 'year in review' slideshows are meant to surface highlights from the year that was, but for some the virtual scrapbook simply brings back bad memories. In the case of web designer Eric Meyer, a photo of his recently deceased daughter appeared, surrounded by confetti, illustrations of party goers dancing and the exclamation "Eric, here's what your year looked like!" In response, Eric wrote a blog post about what he refers to as that app's "Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty," and pointing to the shortcomings of modern software design.

While many have complained of the relentless onslaught of ads for automated journals like these, for people like Meyer, the persistence isn't just an annoyance.

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Sony Hack Companies on Alert

It may appear we've reached a climax in the Sony Pictures hack saga - what with The Interview finally seeing a theatrical release - but the international finger pointing is alive and well. Today, North Korea's National Defense Commission is accusing the US of causing nation-wide internet outages, while likening the government to a snot-nosed child playing games. According to Reuters, a statement from the Commission carried by the country's official news agency KCNA reads:

The United States, with its large physical size and oblivious to the shame of playing hide and seek as children with runny noses would, has begun disrupting the Internet operations of the main media outlets of our republic.

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Lizard Squad, the merry band of hackers that claimed responsibility for taking Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network offline for Christmas, appears to have a new target: Tor. Reports of an attack on the network, which offers online anonymity, appeared earlier today, following a warning on December 19th of "Possible upcoming attempts to disable the Tor network."

A Tor spokesperson acknowledged the attacks, but said they were unlikely to have an effect on users' anonymity.

"This looks like a regular attempt at a Sybil attack: the attackers have signed up many new relays in hopes of becoming a large fraction of the network. But even though they are running thousands of new relays, their relays currently make up less than 1% of the Tor network by capacity. We are working now to remove these relays from the network before they become a threat, and we don't expect any anonymity or performance effects based on what we've seen so far.


Next week supporters of Alexei Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption crusader currently under house arrest in Russia, are planning a rally that the Kremlin would really rather not happen. So, to that end, the government has begun issuing block orders to the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Google to keep information about the rally offline. But, the companies don't appear to be inclined to comply... at least, not any more. When the rally was first announced last week, a prosecutor from Russia's communication's regulator issued the block orders. Facebook honored the first request, but when more pages promoting the rally cropped up and criticism was leveled at the social network, it decided to get its lawyers involved and has left the new pages up. Twitter and YouTube have received similar requests, but the sites appear content to let videos and tweets promoting the rally live on.

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Getting to Mars is never going to be cheap. But a couple of mathematicians have figured out how to shave some significant bucks off the price tag. Rather than fly to the red planet when its orbit brings it closest, the craft will "meet" it on the way. The strategy is called ballistic capture and involves launching the ship into a Mars-like orbit, but moving slower than the planet itself. Eventually Mars will catch up and all that fuel that would have been necessary to cruise to the planet suddenly becomes dead weight. Which means there's no need to carry it, so you can have a smaller, lighter craft. All of this adds up to a significantly cheaper journey. But there is one problem -- the journey will take much, much longer. As is, it would take six months to get to there, using ballistic capture would add several more months. It wouldn't be great for sending humans to Mars, but it could make sending future rovers much more affordable for NASA and other agency.


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