Technology News

Science Says: Lightning is zapping fewer Americans, not more

(4 days ago)
Lightning _ once one of nature's biggest killers _is claiming far fewer lives in the United States, mostly because we've learned to get out of the way

MIT researchers unveil Pensieve, a machine learning system for enabling smoother streaming of high-quality online video with less rebuffering (Andrew Tarantola/Engadget)

(4 days ago)
Andrew Tarantola / Engadget:MIT researchers unveil Pensieve, a machine learning system for enabling smoother streaming of high-quality online video with less rebuffering  —  The “Pensieve” system automatically adjusts video quality based on network conditions  —  Buffering and pixelation are the scourge of streaming video.

Tech companies urge U.S. Supreme Court to boost cellphone privacy

(4 days ago)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than a dozen high technology companies and the biggest wireless operator in the United States, Verizon Communications Inc , have called on the U.S. Supreme Court to make it harder for government officials to access individuals' sensitive cellphone data.

GoFundMe removes campaigns for Charlottesville suspect

(4 days ago)
GoFundMe removes campaigns for James Alex Fields Jr, arrested after a car ploughed into protesters.

Intel chief resigns from Trump council

(4 days ago)
Two more CEOs quit Mr Trump's manufacturing council over his response to violence in Charlottesville.

Is it OK to use black emojis and gifs?

(4 days ago)
It's digital blackface, according to this writer - see if her arguments change your emoji habits.

Creating a robot to combat loneliness

(4 days ago)
Japanese inventor Kentaro Yoshifuji built his Orihime robot to address the loneliness he felt as a child.

Algorithm learns to understand natural beauty

(4 days ago)
Researchers at the University of Warwick are using deep learning to quantify the beauty of outdoor places.

From meds to medals

(4 days ago)
How tech is helping chronically ill people relying on repeat prescriptions for medications.

Google fixes AdWords exploit that allowed advertisers to create non-clickable ads, which led to many publishers getting low cost-per-click rates (Barry Schwartz/Search Engine Roundtable)

(4 days ago)
Barry Schwartz / Search Engine Roundtable:Google fixes AdWords exploit that allowed advertisers to create non-clickable ads, which led to many publishers getting low cost-per-click rates  —  As many of you know, Google confirmed an AdSense exploit where ad buyers were able to manipulate the ad platform which resulted in many AdSense publishers noticing a huge decline in CPCs.

Web firm fights DOJ on Trump protesters

(4 days ago)
Department of Justice seeks IP addresses of 1.3 million visitors to an anti-Trump protest site.

Snap Sold Fewer Than 42K Spectacles, Down 35% In Q2

(4 days ago)
The hype surrounding Snap's Spectacles appears to be dwindling. Their sales have decreased by 35 percent in the second quarter of the year, with the company's latest consolidated financial report revealing that its "Other" revenue amounted to $5.4 million over the three-month period ending June 30. Android Headlines reports: With Spectacles being the company's only miscellaneous endeavor at this point in time and sporting a $130 price tag that has yet to see any discounts, it seems that the Venice, Los Angeles-based social media giant managed to only sell approximately 41,500 units of its first wearable in Q2 2017. During the first quarter of the year that also disappointed investors, Snap's "Other" business category recorded a revenue of $8.3 million, suggesting that the firm managed to sell around 64,000 units. The overall commercial performance of Spectacles may still improve during the current quarter as Snap just recently made the smart sunglasses available on Amazon, in addition to partnering with a number of physical retailers. Likewise, the Snapbot vending machines selling Spectacles only started appearing in Europe in June and are still popping up in a number of major cities on the Old Continent, which is another factor that could help improve the sales figures of Snap's camera-equipped pair of sunglasses. Regardless, the current state of affairs is unlikely to please investors, especially in light of the fact that Snap recently proclaimed itself to be "a camera[..]

IOpipe, which provides tools for developing and monitoring serverless applications for AWS Lambda, comes out of beta and raises $2.5M in seed funding (Frederic Lardinois/TechCrunch)

(4 days ago)
Frederic Lardinois / TechCrunch:IOpipe, which provides tools for developing and monitoring serverless applications for AWS Lambda, comes out of beta and raises $2.5M in seed funding  —  Serverless applications are all the rage right now — and some companies are even leapfrogging containers to go all-in on services like AWS Lambda and Azure Functions.

Behind the Hype of 'Lab-Grown' Meat

(5 days ago)
In an exclusive report via Gizmodo, Ryan F. Mandelbaum discusses the hype surrounding "lab-grown" meat: Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you -- a burger-eatin', chicken-finger-dippin' American -- to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells. One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger. And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals. That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat. Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by American agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals. But these future foods' promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley's startup culture. Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market. A consumer-ready product does not yet exist and its progress is heavily shrouded by intellectual property claims and sensationalist press. Today, cultured meat is a lot of hype and no consumer product. "Much of what happens in the world of cultured meat is done for the sake of PR," Ben Wurgaft, an MIT-based post-doctoral researcher writing a book on cultured meat, told Gizmodo. Wurgaft finds it hard to believe many predictions[..]

Microsoft announces general availability of .NET Core 2.0, .NET Standard 2.0 and ASP.NET Core 2.0 (Mary Jo Foley/ZDNet)

(5 days ago)
Mary Jo Foley / ZDNet:Microsoft announces general availability of .NET Core 2.0, .NET Standard 2.0 and ASP.NET Core 2.0  —  Microsoft is rolling out .NET Core 2.0, .NET Standard 2.0 and ASP.NET Core 2.0, advancing the company's goal of more of a common .NET platform everywhere.  —  Microsoft's .NET Core 2 …

Popular Pesticides Keep Bumblebees From Laying Eggs

(5 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Wild bees, such as bumblebees, don't get as much love as honeybees, but they should. They play just as crucial a role in pollinating many fruits, vegetables and wildflowers, and compared to managed colonies of honeybees, they're in much greater jeopardy. A group of scientists in the United Kingdom decided to look at how bumblebee queens are affected by some widely used and highly controversial pesticides known as neonicotinoids. What they found isn't pretty. Neonics, as they're often called, are applied as a coating on the seeds of some of the most widely grown crops in the country, including corn, soybeans and canola. These pesticides are "systemic" -- they move throughout the growing plants. Traces of them end up in pollen, which bees consume. Neonicotinoid residues also have been found in the pollen of wildflowers growing near fields and in nearby streams. The scientists, based at Royal Holloway University of London, set up a laboratory experiment with bumblebee queens. They fed those queens a syrup containing traces of a neonicotinoid pesticide called thiamethoxam, and the amount of the pesticide, they say, was similar to what bees living near fields of neonic-treated canola might be exposed to. Bumblebee queens exposed to the pesticide were 26 percent less likely to lay eggs, compared to queens that weren't exposed to the pesticide. The team published their findings in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.[..]

Judge Says LinkedIn Cannot Block Startup From Public Profile Data

(5 days ago)
A U.S. federal judge on Monday ruled that LinkedIn cannot prevent a startup from accessing public profile data, in a test of how much control a social media site can wield over information its users have deemed to be public. Reuters reports: U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco granted a preliminary injunction request brought by hiQ Labs, and ordered LinkedIn to remove within 24 hours any technology preventing hiQ from accessing public profiles. The dispute between the two tech companies has been going on since May, when LinkedIn issued a letter to hiQ Labs instructing the startup to stop scraping data from its service. HiQ Labs responded by filing a suit against LinkedIn in June, alleging that the Microsoft-owned social network was in violation of antitrust laws. HiQ Labs uses the LinkedIn data to build algorithms capable of predicting employee behaviors, such as when they might quit. "To the extent LinkedIn has already put in place technology to prevent hiQ from accessing these public profiles, it is ordered to remove any such barriers," Chen's order reads. Meanwhile, LinkedIn said in a statement: "We're disappointed in the court's ruling. This case is not over. We will continue to fight to protect our members' ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn." Read more of[..]

Google Pays Apple $3 Billion Per Year To Remain On the iPhone, Analyst Says

(5 days ago)
In a note to investors on Monday, Bernstein analyst A.M. Sacconaghi Jr. said Google is paying Apple billions of dollars per year to remain the default search engine on iPhones and iPads. "The firm believes that Google will pay Apple about $3 billion this year, up from $1 billion just three years ago, and that Google's licensing fees make up a large bulk of Apple's services business," reports CNBC. From the report: "Court documents indicate that Google paid Apple $1 billion in 2014, and we estimate that total Google payments to Apple in FY 17 may approach $3 billion," Bernstein analyst A.M. Sacconaghi Jr. said. "Given that Google payments are nearly all profit for Apple, Google alone may account for 5% of Apple's total operating profits this year, and may account for 25% of total company OP growth over the last two years." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

No cash for hate, say mainstream crowdfunding firms

(5 days ago)
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Online fund-raising sites are turning their backs on activists looking to offer financial support for James Fields, the man accused of driving his car into counter-protesters at a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday.

Pandora Media names Roger Lynch as CEO

(5 days ago)
(Reuters) - Music streaming company Pandora Media Inc named Roger Lynch as chief executive on Monday, replacing interim CEO Naveen Chopra who will continue as the chief financial officer.

Trump Can Block People On Twitter If He Wants, Administration Says

(5 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The administration of President Donald Trump is scoffing at a lawsuit by Twitter users who claim in a federal lawsuit that their constitutional rights are being violated because the president has blocked them from his @realDonaldTrump Twitter handle. "It would send the First Amendment deep into uncharted waters to hold that a president's choices about whom to follow, and whom to block, on Twitter -- a privately run website that, as a central feature of its social-media platform, enables all users to block particular individuals from viewing posts -- violate the Constitution." That's part of what Michael Baer, a Justice Department attorney, wrote to the New York federal judge overseeing the lawsuit Friday. In addition, the Justice Department said the courts are powerless to tell Trump how he can manage his private Twitter handle, which has 35.8 million followers. "To the extent that the President's management of his Twitter account constitutes state action, it is unquestionably action that lies within his discretion as Chief Executive; it is therefore outside the scope of judicial enforcement," Baer wrote. (PDF) Baer added that an order telling Trump how to manage his Twitter feed "would raise profound separation-of-powers concerns by intruding directly into the president's chosen means of communicating to millions of Americans."[..]

US Army Walks Back Decision To Ban DJI Drones Ever So Slightly

(5 days ago)
garymortimer shares a report from sUAS News: News has reached me that another DJI memo was passed around on Friday the 11th of August. An exception to policy with recommendations from the asymmetric warfare group that will permit the use of DJI kit once some conditions have been met. The Android Tactical Assault Kit will become the ground control station (GCS) of choice when a DJI plugin has passed OPSEC (Operational Security) scrutiny. In a separate report from Reuters, DJI said it is "tightening data security in the hopes that the U.S. Army will lift its ban on DJI drones because of 'cyber vulnerabilities.'" The company is "speeding deployment of a system that allows users to disconnect from the internet during flights, making it impossible for flight logs, photos or videos to reach DJI's computer servers," reports Reuters. While the security measure has been in the works for several months, it's being rolled out sooner than planned because of the Army's decision to discontinue the use of DJI drones. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Marketplace expands to 17 countries in Europe, now in 24 countries total, as US numbers grow with 18M+ items posted for sale in May (Deborah Liu/Facebook)

(5 days ago)
Deborah Liu / Facebook:Facebook Marketplace expands to 17 countries in Europe, now in 24 countries total, as US numbers grow with 18M+ items posted for sale in May  —  Today, we're starting to roll out Marketplace to 17 countries across Europe (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France …

Discord Bans Servers That Promote Nazi Ideology

(5 days ago)
A popular video game chat service with over 25 million users announced today that it had shut down "a number of accounts" following violence instigated by white supremacists over the weekend. Discord, the service "which lets users chat with voice and text, was being used by proponents of Nazi ideology both before and after the attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia," reports The Verge. "We will continue to take action against Nazi ideology, and all forms of hate," the company said in a tweet. From the report: Discord declined to state how many servers had been affected, but said it included a mix of old accounts and accounts that were created over the weekend. Among the affected servers was one used by AltRight.com, a white nationalist news site. The site's homepage includes a prominent link to a Discord chat which is now broken. The company said it does not read private messages exchanged on its servers. Members of those groups reported messages in the chats for violating Discord's terms of service, the company said, and it took action. "When hatred like this violates our community standards we act swiftly to take servers down and ban individual users," the company said in a statement. "The public server linked to AltRight.com that violated those terms was shut down along with several other public groups and accounts fostering bad actors on Discord. We will continue to be aggressive to ensure that Discord exists for the community we set out to support -- gamers."[..]

Record-sized data centre planned inside Arctic Circle

(5 days ago)
The facility in the north of Norway will take advantage of cheap energy and the cool air.

SpaceX Successfully Launches, Recovers Falcon 9 For CRS-12

(5 days ago)
Another SpaceX rocket has been successfully launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center today, carrying a Dragon capsule loaded with over 6,400 pounds of cargo destined for the International Space Station. This marks an even dozen for ISS resupply missions launched by SpaceX under contract to NASA. TechCrunch reports: The rocket successfully launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 12:31 PM EDT, and Dragon deployed from the second stage as planned. Dragon will rendezvous with the ISS on August 16 for capture by the station's Canadarm 2 robotic appendage, after which it'll be attached to the rocket. After roughly a month, it'll return to Earth after leaving the ISS with around 3,000 pounds of returned cargo on board, and splash down in the Pacific Ocean for recovery. There's another reason this launch was significant, aside from its experimental payload (which included a supercomputer designed to help humans travel to Mars): SpaceX will only use re-used Dragon capsules for all future CRS missions, the company has announced, meaning this is the last time a brand new Dragon will be used to resupply the ISS, if all goes to plan. Today's launch also included an attempt to recover the Falcon 9 first stage for re-use at SpaceX's land-based LZ-1 landing pad. The Falcon 9 first stage returned to Earth as planned, and touched down at Cape Canaveral roughly 9 minutes after launch.[..]

US judge orders LinkedIn to remove any tech stopping hiQ Labs from scraping public profile data, after LinkedIn sent cease and desist letter in May (Salvador Rodriguez/Reuters)

(5 days ago)
Salvador Rodriguez / Reuters:US judge orders LinkedIn to remove any tech stopping hiQ Labs from scraping public profile data, after LinkedIn sent cease and desist letter in May  —  SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge on Monday ruled that Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) LinkedIn unit cannot prevent a startup …

Dreamhost, after working with DoJ for several months, opposes DoJ request for info on owners and visitors of anti-Trump site, including 1.3M IP addresses (Ken White/Popehat)

(5 days ago)
Ken White / Popehat:Dreamhost, after working with DoJ for several months, opposes DoJ request for info on owners and visitors of anti-Trump site, including 1.3M IP addresses  —  I used to have DreamHost as a webhost.  We parted ways, but I always admired and appreciated that they reliably stood up for their customers …

Uber Investors Slam Travis Kalanick In Open Letter To Employees

(5 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Benchmark Capital, one of Uber's largest investors, is trying to explain its legal feud with former CEO Travis Kalanick to the ride-sharing company's employees. Benchmark sued Kalanick for fraud last week, adding another controversy to the company's already disastrous summer. In an open letter to Uber employees, Benchmark slammed Kalanick's leadership of the company and said that he was purposely hindering the board's search for a replacement CEO. The firm also criticized Uber's slow response to the report compiled by Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran on harassment within Uber, and the stagnant search for a chief financial officer that has dragged on for more than two years. "It has appeared at times as if the search was being manipulated to deter candidates and create a power vacuum in which Travis could return," the unsigned letter reads. "It's easy to reduce this situation to a battle of personalities. But this isn't about Benchmark versus Travis. It's about ensuring that Uber can reach its full potential as a company. And that will only happen if we get rid of the roadblocks and distractions that have plagued Uber, and its board, for far too long," Benchmark wrote in its letter. "Failing to act would have meant endorsing behavior that was utterly unacceptable in any company, let alone a company of Uber's size and importance." Kalanick has responded to Benchmark through a spokesperson via The New York Times: "Like many[..]

KGI: 3rd-generation Apple Watch will ship this year in LTE and non-LTE models, won't have "obvious change" to form factor, will keep 38mm and 42mm sizes (Zac Hall/9to5Mac)

(5 days ago)
Zac Hall / 9to5Mac:KGI: 3rd-generation Apple Watch will ship this year in LTE and non-LTE models, won't have “obvious change” to form factor, will keep 38mm and 42mm sizes  —  Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has released a new forecast on the next generation Apple Watch.

From Google To Yahoo, Tech Grapples With White Male Discontent

(5 days ago)
Reader joshtops shares a Bloomberg report: Google isn't the only Silicon Valley employer being accused of hostility to white men. Yahoo and Tata Consultancy Services were already fighting discrimination lawsuits brought by white men before Google engineer James Damore ignited a firestorm -- and got himself fired -- with an internal memo criticizing the company's diversity efforts and claiming women are biologically less suited than men to be engineers. The Yahoo case began last year when two men sued, claiming they'd been unfairly fired after managers allegedly manipulated performance evaluations to favor women. They claim Marissa Mayer approved the review process and was involved in their terminations, and last month a judge ordered the former chief executive be deposed. TCS, meanwhile, is fighting three men who claim the Mumbai-based firm discriminates against non-Indians at its U.S. offices. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Opera Kills Off Its Free Data-Saving App, Opera Max

(5 days ago)
Mark Wycislik-Wilson, writing for BetaNews: Opera Max -- the free data-saving and VPN-like tool from the team behind the Opera web browser -- is being killed off. The app has been removed from Google Play with immediate effect, and there will be no more updates. Opera is not really giving a reason for the sudden decision other that the fact that Opera Max had "a substantially different value proposition than our browser products." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pandora names Sling TV founding CEO Roger Lynch as new CEO and president; Snap Inc. chairman Michael Lynton is also joining the Pandora board (Dani Deahl/The Verge)

(5 days ago)
Dani Deahl / The Verge:Pandora names Sling TV founding CEO Roger Lynch as new CEO and president; Snap Inc. chairman Michael Lynton is also joining the Pandora board  —  Snap Inc. chairman Michael Lynton is also joining the Pandora board  —  Pandora has announced that Sling TV founding CEO Roger Lynch will join …

I Bought a Book About the Internet From 1994 and None of the Links Worked

(5 days ago)
An anonymous reader shares a report (condensed for space and clarity): For crate-diggers of all stripes, the internet is awesome for one reason: The crate never ends. There's always something new to find online, because people keep creating new things to throw into that crate. But that crate has a hole at the bottom. Stuff is falling out just as quickly, and pieces of history that would stick around in meatspace disappear in an instant online. So as a result, there aren't a lot of websites from 1995 that made it through to the present day. Gopher sites? Odds are low. Text files? Perhaps. The endless pace of linkrot has left books about the internet in a curious limbo -- they're dead trees about the dead-tree killer, after all. [...] Recently, I bought a book -- a reference book, the kind that you can still pick up at Barnes and Noble today. The book, titled Free $tuff From the Internet (Coriolis Group Books, 1994), promises to help you find free content online. And, crucially, it focuses less on the web, which was still quite young, than on many of the alternative protocols of the era. This book links to FTP sites, telnet servers, and Gopher destinations, and I've tried many of them in an effort to figure out whether something, anything in this book works in the present day. These FTP servers were often based at universities which have a vested interest in keeping information online for a long-term period -- think the University of North Carolina, or Kansas State University.[..]

Facebook Messenger now makes Spotify recommendations when music is mentioned in conversation; suggestions can be turned off by toggling M assistant settings (Khari Johnson/VentureBeat)

(5 days ago)
Khari Johnson / VentureBeat:Facebook Messenger now makes Spotify recommendations when music is mentioned in conversation; suggestions can be turned off by toggling M assistant settings  —  Facebook Messenger now comes with Spotify recommendations when music is mentioned in a conversation, as it appears Messenger …

Google Hires Former Star Apple Engineer Chris Lattner For Its AI Team

(5 days ago)
An anonymous reader shares a report: Chris Lattner, a legend in the world of Apple software, has joined another rival of the iPhone maker: Alphabet's Google, where he will work on artificial intelligence. Lattner announced the news on Twitter on Monday, saying he will start next week. His arrival at Mountain View, California-based Google comes after a brief stint as head of the automated driving program at Tesla, which he left in June. Lattner made a name for himself during a decade-plus career at Apple, where he created the popular programming language Swift. Lattner said he is joining Google Brain, the search giant's research unit. There he will work on a different software language: TensorFlow, Google's system designed to simplify the programming steps for AI, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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