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posted by martyb on Wednesday October 18, @09:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-if-nobody-showed-up? dept.

Governor Rick Scott (R) has declared a state of emergency in the county where the University of Florida lay, due to a planned speech by Richard Spencer. According to NPR:

When Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida last month, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency. On Monday, he did the same thing in Alachua County, ahead of a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

"We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion, however, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority," Scott said in a statement. "This executive order is an additional step to ensure that the University of Florida and the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe."

"I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent," Scott declared in his executive order, noting that Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell had requested the state's assistance. The order will make it easier for various agencies to coordinate a security plan for Thursday's speech at the university.

[...] No campus group invited Spencer to speak, and the university is not hosting or sponsoring the event. Spencer's group, the National Policy Institute, is paying the university $10,564 for facility rental and security.

And it looks like it could get expensive:

The speech and accompanying protests are also a major expense: The university as well as state and local agencies expect to spend more than $500,000 to provide additional security.

And the University of Florida can't demand that Spencer pay the full cost of protecting him, because of a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement.

In that decision, the university explains, "the Court clarified that the government cannot assess a security fee on the speaker based upon the costs of controlling the reaction of potential hostile onlookers or protestors," under legal doctrine known as the "heckler's veto."

Well, that is the cost of free speech in a free country.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday October 18, @07:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the going-offline-is-NOT-the-same-as-going-off-roading dept.

On Tuesday, October 17, the long-awaited Gran Turismo Sport arrives for the Playstation 4. This seventh installment of one of the world's best-selling games franchises introduces a number of updates designed for high-end TVs, virtual reality, and e-sports enthusiasts. Although we've had a copy for a few days now, you'll have to wait a few more days to read a proper review.

In large part, that's because Sony's Gran Turismo Sport servers were down for the past few days. Since being connected to those servers is such an integral part of the game, there's very little left to do if you're offline.

But let's not pretend like we weren't warned. In a blog post last month, Sony revealed that "[i]n order to ensure fair racing for all, GT Sport will require an Internet connection for the majority of functionality. This connectivity requirement is to ensure that progress, car availability, and driver ratings are properly maintained at all times."

In other words, that game you bought is a thin client.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday October 18, @06:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the did-you-see-what-they-did-there? dept.

You can't escape virtual reality.

VR headsets from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung are getting ready to hit the market. Their goal: to give you an easy-to-use virtual reality experience with your PC at a lower price than competing headsets from the likes of Sony, Facebook and HTC.

That's the promise of VR powered by Microsoft Windows, the software that runs hundreds of millions of PCs and tablets around the world. When Microsoft begins sending out a free update to Windows 10 on Tuesday, it'll power VR headsets as well. It's called "Windows Mixed Reality."

"SERVE VIRTUAL REALITY. VIRTUAL REALITY IS YOUR FRIEND! Virtual reality wants you to be happy. If you are not happy, you may be used as reactor shielding."

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday October 18, @04:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the The-singularity-is-coming!-The-singularity-is-coming! dept.

Intel will release a machine learning chip intended to compete with Nvidia's Tesla chips and Google's TPUs (Tensor Processing Units):

When the AI boom came a-knocking, Intel wasn't around to answer the call. Now, the company is attempting to reassert its authority in the silicon business by unveiling a new family of chips designed especially for artificial intelligence: the Intel Nervana Neural Network Processor family, or NNP for short.

The NNP family is meant as a response to the needs of machine learning, and is destined for the data center, not your PC. Intel's CPUs may still be a stalwart of server stacks (by some estimates, it has a 96 percent market share in data centers), but the workloads of contemporary AI are much better served by the graphical processors or GPUs coming from firms like Nvidia and ARM. Consequently, demand for these companies' chips has skyrocketed. (Nvidia's revenue is up 56 percent year on year.) Google has got in on the action, designing its own silicon named the Tensor Processing Unit to power its cloud computing business, while new firms like the UK-based Graphcore are also rushing to fill the gap.

Also at Engadget, TechCrunch, and CNET.

Previously: Nervana Deep Learning Chip

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday October 18, @03:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the down-to-earth-warning dept.

An 8.5-tonne Chinese space station has accelerated its out-of-control descent towards Earth and is expected to crash to the surface within a few months.

The Tiangong-1 or "Heavenly Palace" lab was launched in 2011 and described as a "potent political symbol" of China, part of an ambitious scientific push to turn China into a space superpower. It was used for both manned and unmanned missions and visited by China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang, in 2012.

But in 2016, after months of speculation, Chinese officials confirmed they had lost control of the space station and it would crash to Earth in 2017 or 2018. China's space agency has since notified the UN that it expects Tiangong-1 to come down between October 2017 and April 2018.

[...] Although much of the craft is expected to burn up in the atmosphere, McDowell says some parts might still weigh up to 100kg when they crash into the Earth's surface.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday October 18, @01:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the Pedestrians-Bolt! dept.

Despite strict rules, General Motors will test its self-driving cars in New York City:

Cruise Automation, the self-driving unit of General Motors, announced today that it will test its autonomous Chevy Bolts in one of the most torturously congested cities in the world: New York City. According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the company will be the first to test Level 4 autonomous vehicles in the state.

The testing will be in Manhattan, where Cruise has begun mapping a geofenced area, Cuomo's office said. All testing will include an engineer in the driver's seat to monitor and evaluate performance, and a second person in the passenger seat. As part of the agreement with the state, Cruise will also set up an office in New York City and begin building a team of employees.

"Autonomous vehicles have the potential to save time and save lives, and we are proud to be working with GM and Cruise on the future of this exciting new technology," Cuomo said in a statement.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday October 18, @12:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the really-secure-amirite? dept.

A flawed Infineon Technology chipset used on PC motherboards to securely store passwords, certificates and encryption keys risks undermining the security of government and corporate computers protected by RSA encryption keys. In a nutshell, the bug makes it possible for an attacker to calculate a private key just by having a target's public key.

Security experts say the bug has been present since 2012 and found specifically in the Infineon's Trusted Platform Module used on a large number of business-class HP, Lenovo and Fijitsu computers, Google Chromebooks as well as routers and IoT devices.

The vulnerability allows for a remote attacker to compute an RSA private key from the value of a public key. The private key can then be misused for purposes of impersonation of a legitimate owner, decryption of sensitive messages, forgery of signatures (such as for software releases) and other related attacks, according to researchers.

The Infineon flaw is tied to a faulty design of Infineon's Trusted Platform Module (TPM), a dedicated microcontroller designed to secure hardware by integrating cryptographic keys into devices and used for secured crypto processes.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 18, @10:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the commence-primary-ignition dept.

Since its introduction in the 1977 film "Star Wars," the Death Star has remained one of science fiction's most iconic figures. The image of Alderaan's destruction at the hands of the Death Star's superlaser is burned into the memory of millions of fans.

Scientists and laser experts have maintained that this superbeam could never work due to the properties of lasers—theory says that rather than converging and combining their energy, the beams would just pass through one another.

That was true—until now. A team of researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have added a plasma—a charged mixture of ions and free electrons—to the concept and successfully combined several separate lasers into a superbeam. This work was recently published in Nature Physics, and is a next step in LLNL's 50-year history of leadership in laser research and development.

While this superbeam isn't quite as "super" as the one depicted in science fiction, it stands as an important achievement—for the first time, nine of the National Ignition Facility's (NIF) 192 laser beams were combined to produce a directed pulse of light that was nearly four times the energy of any of the individual beams. Leveraging LLNL's expertise in optics research and development, the team used a Livermore-designed plasma optic to combine the beams and produce this first demonstration of its kind.

Death Star DIYers take note.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 18, @09:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the streams-of-cash dept.

Netflix said Monday it added some five million new subscribers over the past three months as profits doubled, in a quarterly update that sent shares of the streaming video giant higher.

California-based Netflix ended the third quarter with more than 104 million paid subscribers, with international memberships hitting 52.7 million and overtaking the number of US subscribers.

Net profits meanwhile jumped to $129 million, more than double the figure from the same period a year ago for the video giant known for "House of Cards," "The Crown" and other original shows that are part of its library.

Revenues in the quarter rose 30 percent from a year ago to $2.98 billion, Netflix said.

"We are growing nicely across the world and are on track to exceed $11 billion in revenue in 2017," a letter to shareholders said.

Streaming has entered its profit-maximization period. For audiences, has the bliss point already been passed?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 18, @07:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the stick-your-purchases-in-your-boot-for-you? dept.

In the minds of mobile shoppers, where is the line between convenience and personal space/privacy? We now have two retailers — Walmart and Amazon, the giants of in-store and online shopping, respectively — separately testing programs to deliver purchases directly into your home or your car trunk when the shopper is nowhere near.

Both efforts rely on mobile devices connecting shoppers to the scene of the delivery, where customers can theoretically watch the delivery in real time. It isn't practical or likely, but that's the idea. Mobile is what justifies these attempts.

Does the trunk of your car really make for a more secure delivery, or is it multiplying insecurities?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 18, @06:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the what-kind-of-cupcakes dept.

These cupcakes are making me hangry:

In what is probably the only example ever of tiny, frosted cakes sparking mass outrage, strong negative feedback has prompted Google to remove a cupcake calorie counter from its iOS Maps app, the company confirmed Tuesday.

Google recently added the cutesy — and possibly half-baked — feature as an experiment. With the new feature, users saw a pink cupcake icon that automatically showed them how many calories they would burn if they walked to their destination. The app also translated that calorie count into mini cupcakes, telling walkers how many of the tiny treats they would burn if they walked from point A to point B.

But complaints soon started raining down like sprinkles.

Critics accused the cartoon cupcake counter of being patronizing, promoting body-shaming, and possibly triggering unhealthy behavior in people who have struggled with eating disorders or over-exercise, BBC reports. There's no way to turn the feature off, critics pointed out.

"Do they realize how extremely triggering something like this is for ppl who have had eating disorders? Not to mention just generally shamey," a user named Taylor Lorenz tweeted. She added: "Also it looks like there's no way to turn this feature off what the hell."

Google Maps has instead added 12 "worlds" for users to explore, including Venus, Pluto, Europa, Ganymede, Rhea, and Mimas. Google Maps users would in fact weigh less if they were on these bodies.

Also at The Verge, SFGate, TechCrunch, and Buzzfeed.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 18, @04:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the no-more-bumped-shins dept.

Engineers from University Alliance Ruhr have developed novel signal processing methods for imaging and material characterisation with the aid of radar. Their long-term objective is to use these techniques in combination with radar-based localisation of objects. Their vision is a flying platform capable of generating a three-dimensional representation of its surroundings. The technology might be, for example, useful for finding out what firefighters might encounter behind clouds of smoke in a burning building.

[...] In principal, the same measurement technique should be suitable for material characterisation as well as localisation. However, it is not yet being used simultaneously for both. The measurement principle is as follows: a radar emits electromagnetic waves that are reflected by objects. Broadly speaking, it is possible to calculate how far away an object is located based on the delay between the transmitted and returning signals.

Additionally, the returning waves provide even more information. The strength of the reflected signal is determined by the size of the object, by its shape, and by its material properties. A material parameter, the so-called relative permittivity, describes a material's response to an electromagnetic field. Calculating the relative permittivity, researchers can thus figure out what kind of material the object is made of.

Perhaps this could help your kids find their shoes amid the piles of junk in their rooms.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 18, @02:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the cost-vs-convenience dept.

With Uber and other ridesharing services becoming a common transit option for some D.C. residents, we wanted to get a sense of when someone might substitute an Uber trip for a Metrorail trip. To do this, we plotted data on travel time and cost, creating a visualization that shows whether Uber or Metro is faster, and at what cost, for 114 different trips between Metro stations. By adding in the time it takes to wait for a Metro train or Uber, walk to the Metro, or sit on a delayed train, we can see how a person's decision might change depending on their circumstances.

The trips we analyzed include trips between the city and the suburbs as well as trips within the city.

[...] We found that for longer trips between the center of the city and the suburbs, Metro tends to be both more cost-effective and quicker than Uber. But for trips within the city that require a Metro transfer, Uber is often quicker than Metro, especially when Metro wait times are long, like on weekends, or when there are delays. While Uber's regular service tends to be much more expensive than Metro, Uber Pool makes some Uber trips nearly as affordable as Metro.

Did they factor in the need for a pack train, 3 days' provisions, and sherpas to get up and down the stairs in the Metro?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday October 18, @01:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the can-you-find-me-now? dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Last year, you might remember that Verizon was in the news for reaching an agreement with the FCC. The issue centered around the tracking of its customers without consent. In reality, carriers have been doing this for years, but privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked Verizon and the FCC to put a stop to it. In the end, Verizon agreed to stop tracking customers unless they expressly agreed to opt-in to the program. The agreement between Verizon and the FCC was roundly seen as a win by privacy advocates and consumer rights groups.

Unfortunately, it looks like the practice is still in effect. Philip Neustrom, the co-founder of Shotwell Labs, recently found two demo websites that would return account details if visited from a mobile connection. By simply entering a zip code and clicking a button, the site would spit out the full name, current location, and more information.

It would appear that these sites are grabbing the information from the same process that Verizon got busted for. That program, the Unique Identifier Header, added information to HTTP requests from Verizon customers and then, for a fee, would let websites see the info. AT&T has a similar plan called the "Mobile Identity API".

You know what would fix this? A few more mergers.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday October 17, @11:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the besides-letting-someone-shoot-you dept.

The testing of soft body armor has been a big concern because the deployment of a new kind of fiber—believed to be superior to the previous material—unexpectedly failed in 2003, resulting in the death of a police officer. That and other incidents prompted a 2005 recall of some of the vests made with the new material.

Although the performance of these vests was superior when they were fresh out of the box and in pristine condition, tests later showed that the mechanical properties of the fibers inside the vests began to deteriorate after a few months of normal wear. The new vests were eventually removed from market entirely and the manufacturer was sued by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

[...] The positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy (PALS) technique provides a molecular-level view of the structure of materials. It has been used for testing materials in other sectors, including porous membranes and semiconductor insulators. For this work, positrons were injected into ballistic fibers and enabled researchers to determine if any voids were created during folding on a scale of less than 5 nanometers.

Using PALS, Holmes and Soles discovered that void levels are very sensitive indicators of damage sustained by the fibers after folding; a larger population of voids means a better chance of fiber failure. The team previously suspected that void creation was a critical component of mechanical degradation, but the small angle X-ray scattering measurements that had been used in the past tended to be less sensitive to voids smaller than 5 nanometers and proved to be inconclusive. The critical damage was occurring on much finer length scales.

Until better materials are developed, do not fold, spindle, or mutilate your bulletproof vest.

Original Submission