Microsoft quietly shuts down MSN TV, once known as WebTV Microsoft said that its MSN TV service will be closing down at the end of September, in a post on its Web site and in an email to users. MSN TV, of course, was born of WebTV, which was thought up by well-known entrepreneur Steve Perlman. The software giant bought it at the height of the Web 1.0 boom in mid-1997, paying $425 million. The service, which included a dedicated hardware device attached to a television, went through a number of iterations over the years, including being rebranded as MSN TV in 2001. AllThingsD

In secret, court vastly broadens powers of N.S.A. In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say. The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions. The NY Times

How NASA steers the International Space Station around space junk Orbiting about 250 miles (400-ish km) above our heads is one of the most complex and expensive engineering projects that the human race has ever put together: the International Space Station (ISS). The station masses around 450 tons (400 metric tons) and is a bit larger than an American football field. Its assembly required dozens and dozens of launches by Russia and the US (including 37 space shuttle flights), and it took astronauts and cosmonauts 155 spacewalks to get the whole thing bolted together -- 2.5 times more spacewalks than had previously occurred since the beginning of space flight. Ars Technica

Give me liberty: 'Restore the Fourth' rallies take online protests over NSA spying to the streets As the constant drip of new revelations about NSA surveillance programs continues to stoke outrage online, the nationwide Restore the Fourth rally seems to be the first major, physical example of the ongoing backlash. The event, which took place on July 4th in over 100 cities, is being called the internet’s biggest rally since SOPA, the bill that threatened to cripple and control the open web in early 2012. But does Restore the Fourth have what it takes to become a full-fledged social movement? The Verge went to rallies in New York and San Francisco to see. The Verge

What really happened to the software on the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft? It’s the 4th of July. Exactly sixteen years ago today the Mars Pathfinder landed to a media fanfare and began to transmit data back to Earth. Days later and the flow of information and images was interrupted by a series of total systems resets. How this problem was a) diagnosed and b) resolved still makes for a fascinating tale for software engineers. The Pathfinder's applications were scheduled by the VxWorks RTOS. Since VxWorks provides pre-emptive priority scheduling of threads, tasks were executed as threads with priorities determined by their relative urgency. Rapita Systems

Three weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S4 -- an iPhone user's perspective Last year, I bought an iPhone 5. I'd been set on ditching iOS for Android at the time, but weeks of careful research had left me no closer to finding an Android handset I really liked. Then, one day, in a moment of weakness, I stepped into an Apple Store. I walked up to one of the display stands and started playing with the iPhone 5, and I realized how fast and light it was. And all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't make me pocket my credit card again. Fast forward eight months, and I'm now toting a Samsung Galaxy S4. The Tech Report

Modeling how programmers read code As my fellow Ph.D. student Eric Holk talked about recently in his blog, I've been running eye-tracking experiments with programmers of different experience levels. In the experiment, a programmer is tasked with predicting the output of 10 short Python programs. A Tobii TX300 eye tracker keeps track of their eyes at 300 Hz, allowing me to see where they're spending their time. Eric's blog post has a video of him reading one of the longer programs in the study, and it's interesting to see how he differs from a novice reading a version of the same program: Synesthesiam

Born slippy: the making of Star Fox 20 years ago this month, British engineering ingenuity and Japanese design savvy elegantly combined to create what is arguably one of the most technically outstanding releases of the 16-bit era, and a truly significant entry in Nintendo's impressive library of software. Star Fox -- or Starwing as it was retitled in Europe thanks to the existence of a German company called StarVox -- marked Nintendo's first tentative steps into the realm of 3D, a world it had -- up to that point -- been curiously reluctant to explore. Eurogamer

How copyright makes books and music disappear A random sample of new books for sale on shows three times more books initially published in the 1850’s are for sale than new books from the 1950’s. Why? This paper presents new data on how copyright seems to make works disappear. First, a random sample of 2300 new books for sale on is analyzed along with a random sample of 2000 songs available on new DVD’s. Copyright status correlates highly with absence from the Amazon shelf. Paul J. Heald - University of Illinois College of Law

Technology workers are young (really young) It’s well known that technology is a young man’s game. Still, it is surprising to see just how young (and how male). PayScale, a company based in Seattle, has determined that the median age of workers at many of the most successful companies in the technology industry, along with information on gender and years of experience. Just six of the 32 companies it looked at had a median age greater than 35 years old. Eight of the companies, the study said, had median employee age of 30 or younger. The NY Times

Almost every major consumer electronics manufacturer is now working on a smart watch Something about the ailing PC industry, competition among makers of smartphones and the endless quest for the next big thing has nearly every major consumer electronics manufacturer working on a smart watch or at least contemplating it. The latest is Dell, whose global VP of personal computing just told The Guardian that the company is thinking about a smart watch despite “challenges in cost, and how to make it a really good experience.” Quartz

Hikikomori: Why are so many Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms? As many as a million young people in Japan are thought to remain holed up in their homes - sometimes for decades at a time. Why? For Hide, the problems started when he gave up school. "I started to blame myself and my parents also blamed me for not going to school. The pressure started to build up," he says. "Then, gradually, I became afraid to go out and fearful of meeting people. And then I couldn't get out of my house." BBC

Some quick gaming numbers at 4k, max settings Part of my extra-curricular testing post Computex this year put me in the hands of a Sharp 4K30 monitor for three days and with a variety of AMD and Nvidia GPUs on an overclocked Haswell system.  With my test-bed SSD at hand and limited time, I was able to test my normal motherboard gaming benchmark suite at this crazy resolution (3840x2160) for several GPU combinations.  Many thanks to Gigabyte for this brief but eye-opening opportunity. AnandTech

Hands on with Apple’s Budget iPhone Recently, the rear shell of Apple’s rumored budget iPhone was leaked in the colors white, red, green, blue and yellow. Some people think the shells could be Chinese copies, while some believe the low-cost iPhone would probably look like the leaked rear shells. Today, we got Apple’s budget iPhone in hands, and we can’t wait to present a photo gallery and a phenomenal video for you to watch. Our Verdict: It does not feel cheap at all. Techdy

TSMC adopts new lithography technique to push Moore’s law to 20nm As process nodes shrink, it’s become increasingly difficult for the major semiconductor foundries to offer compelling advantages at each new node. TSMC recently disclosed some additional information about how it intends to build 20nm chips using double patterning. The technique, while vital to constructing processors at this node, comes with some significant costs. ExtremeTech