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The US government has been willing to loosen its grip on satellite data, but what about the info from other countries? Don't worry, that's opening up as well. Russia has declared that the Earth-sensing data it collects from civilian satellites is now available to the public, not just the government -- if you want to track St. Petersburg's urban sprawl, you probably can. Officials are keen to tout the advantages for Russian businesses that rely on maps, but the move should also help anyone who wants a more complete picture of how the world works.

[Image credit: AP Photo]


Your humble narrator doesn't review too many gadgets, so it's always a treat when one hits the How Would You Change timetable. In my mind, the BlackBerry Q5 was the company's most important new device simply because it would show if BlackBerry could recapture its low-end dominance. After all, the Q10 and Z10 were aimed at business types with broken Bolds, the Q5 was for teenagers and budget-conscious users in Asia. Did it succeed? Not really. Low-end specs with a mid-tier price would have been bad enough, but the hobbled keyboard did nothing to tempt back people who had since learned to type with fingers on glass. Oh, but the battery life was great. Still, if you disagree, why not leap into our forum and tell me how much you love this phone?


Twitter for Android shows a login error

Did your Twitter app suddenly give you the boot or otherwise behave strangely? It's not just you. The social network has confirmed a sign-in problem that's kicking out hordes of users (so far, mostly on Android) and preventing them from logging back in. Also, TweetDeck on the desktop is listing every new tweet as a year old. We've reached out to the company for more details, but it's possible that there's a date-related flaw at work -- a coder who intercepted the Android app's login traffic, Ninji, has noticed that the company's servers believe it's already 2015. Twitter has engineers tackling the issue, so sit tight if you want to tweet through your favorite apps.

Update: And we're back.

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Anti-surveillance protest

It's tempting to imagine that few online safeguards will stop NSA surveillance in its tracks, but that's not true. A new leak from Edward Snowden's files reveals that there's a surprising number of ways to thwart these snoops, at least as of 2012. While you may already know that the NSA sees Tor's anonymity network as a problem, it hates the heavy encryption on chat protocols like CSpace or Off-the-Record, internet calling systems like ZRTP or highly secure email systems like Zoho. Use two or more of these services in tandem and you may as well disappear completely -- the NSA considers the combination a "near-total loss."

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The Interview

There was a ton of hoopla about Sony releasing The Interview through internet services before it even hit theaters, but how much did this not-entirely-intentional experiment in online distribution pan out? Quite well, if you ask Sony. It just revealed that the movie racked up $15 million in digital rentals and sales (spread across 2 million customers) between its Wednesday release and Saturday, making the North Korea-themed comedy the studio's "#1 online film of all time" within a matter of days. The company isn't breaking down numbers by service, but Recode's sources claim that the "vast majority" of business came from Google Play and YouTube. Sorry, Xbox Video.

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An internet cafe in Tehran

Iran's current approach to internet censorship typically isn't subtle -- either you get unfettered access, or (more often) you don't see a site at all. However, the country's government is about to take a more measured approach to blocking online content it doesn't like. It's deploying "intelligent filtering" that tries to restrict only the material deemed "criminal or unethical," rather than cutting off an entire service. The smarter filter is only active on one social network (most likely Instagram) as part of a test phase, but it's expanding to more sites within the next six months. Ultimately, the nation wants to use this technology on "all networks."

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PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 controller

Three days after Lizard Squad's latest denial of service attack knocked the PlayStation Network offline (and Xbox Live, we'd add), the internet gaming service is gradually getting back on its feet. Sony now says that PSN should be up and running for all of its consoles. While the company warns that there might be some "intermittency" as it gets back into the swing of things, you theoretically won't face major interruptions during that big Destiny raid. It's not clear if Sony's infrastructure will be any better at weathering future digital assaults on this scale; given that the attack was supposedly three times larger than the previous record-setter, this probably isn't a permanent fix. However, it's good to know that you can squeak in at least some online gaming on that shiny new PS4 before the holidays are over.


The Interview poster

iTunes was conspicuously absent from the list of internet services defying hacker threats by offering The Interview, but Apple is remedying that situation today. As of 1PM Eastern, Americans and Canadians can buy or rent the movie from iTunes; you won't have to bend over backwards (or at least, download an app) to watch the hyped-up comedy on your Apple TV or iPad. Netflix still isn't an option, but it won't be surprising if Sony wants to wring out as much profit as it can from purchases and rentals before going the subscription route.


Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

2015 is coming up quick -- and Inhabitat is counting down the days to the new year by showcasing its top posts of 2014! It's been a big year for green tech and environmental news -- take a look at the most inspiring stories, the funniest and the most disturbing -- plus the biggest breakthroughs in wearable technology.

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Komodo dragon

If you're a console gamer, you're probably all too aware of Lizard Squad, the hacker outlet that allegedly knocked both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live offline for a good chunk of the Christmas break. But just why and how is this group causing so much grief? Thanks to the Daily Dot, we now have a better (if imperfect) idea of what's going on. It might not shock you to hear that the team is doing this both for laughs, à la LulzSec, and to expose the "incompetence" of the security teams at Microsoft and Sony. However, they also claim to have access to undersea internet cables and other "core routing equipment" that lets them flood networks with massive amounts of data. They supposedly bombarded PSN and XBL at a rate of 1.2 terabits per second, or three times the rate of the previous largest attack on record.

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