Latest Snowden leak: NSA spied on Al Jazeera communications

On Saturday, German paper Der Spiegel reported that it had viewed a document obtained by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, in which the agency wrote that it had spied on Qatar-based Arab news broadcaster Al Jazeera. This appears to be the first confirmation that the NSA has used its powers to secretly monitor media outlets.

Spiegel did not publish any of the documents in question, but noted that one was dated March 23, 2006 and showed that, “the NSA’s Network Analysis Center managed to access and read communication by ‘interesting targets’ that was specially protected by the news organization. The information also shows that the NSA officials were not satisfied with Al Jazeera’s language analysis.” Spiegel also reports that in one of the documents, the NSA refers to this operation as a “notable success” because the targets of the operation had “high potential as sources of intelligence.”

It is not clear whether the surveillance is ongoing, or whether the operation was a one-off. The extent to which journalists and managers at Al Jazeera were spied on is also not clear from the Spiegel report.

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via Ars Technica

My boss just gave me a warning. Is there a way to get faster at solving bugs?

Stack Exchange

This Q&A is part of a weekly series of posts highlighting common questions encountered by technophiles and answered by users at Stack Exchange, a free, community-powered network of 100+ Q&A sites.

BeeBand asks:

I’ve just been told by my boss that I will receive a negative performance review on Monday. He wants to talk to me about why I am so slow and why my bug fix rate is so low.

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via Ars Technica

Beardyman captures the quiet sounds of the 21st century

A fan hums softly.

We live in a silent century. Though no less powerful than their pre-millennial ancestors, our post-millennial innovations are mostly intangible; even when they do occupy physical space, they but wobble neighboring air particles and scarcely make a sound.

Compiling the “Sounds of the 21st Century” is a steep challenge, therefore, but one that legendary beatboxer Beardyman didn’t shy from.

“There’s an absence of sound rather than a defining sound,” he tells Pay attention to the objects around you—the one’s that are truly 21st century make next to no noise when we interact with them. The clatter of keyboards? 20th century. The din of car engines? 20th century. The cacophony of the city? Choose whichever century BC you like.

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via Ars Technica

There’s a better way: Getting more for your iPhone than Apple will give you

Apple’s in-store trade-in values are among some of the lowest, convenience notwithstanding.

Apple will now offer you money for your old iPhones, kind of. Apple’s money comes only in the form of store credit, and that store credit can be used only to purchase more iPhones. Apple is also only taking iPhones—there’s no word on whether Apple will also accept iPad trade-ins somewhere down the line, to say nothing of products from other companies.

Last year, we looked at a few different hardware trade-in services to see what we could get for a 2011 MacBook Air and an iPhone 4. In light of Apple’s new trade-in service, we’ll be revisiting some of those sites to see what kind of money they’ll give you for your used iPhones so we can stack them up against what Apple will be offering in-store (for a more detailed description of each service, we encourage you to read last year’s article—not much has changed since then).

Because part of the allure of Apple’s program is the convenience—you take your phone into the Apple Store, they determine its value on-site, and you walk out with a new phone—we’ll be focusing on services that require very little user input to work. You might be able to get more for your hardware on eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist, but we’ll be focusing on services that require a bit less effort from the seller. Everything here simply requires you to ship your phone in to the service so that they can evaluate its condition before they cut you a big fat check.

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via Ars Technica