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YouTube To Make New Originals Available For Free, Ad-Supported Viewing
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-strategy department:
YouTube is removing the paywall for its original programming. Starting next year, the company will move to make all of its new original programming available for free for anyone to watch. "With the change, YouTube is moving toward more mainstream celebrity-driven and creator-based reality fare, while it will continue to greenlight scripted productions," reports Variety. From the report: Until now, YouTube Originals have mainly been available on its YouTube Premium subscription service, although YouTube also has expanded the shows and movies it makes available on an ad-supported basis. The company calls the new YouTube Originals strategy its "Single Slate," which will combine ad-supported and subscription VOD programming initiatives that by 2020 will provide free windows for all YouTube users. Some original productions will remain behind the paywall, including season 2 of "Cobra Kai," an offshoot of the "Karate Kid" movies. Moving forward, YouTube Premium will include early access to original, exclusive content as a reason to pay for the service. YouTube has faced stiff competition in trying to lure paying customers with original content against the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, which spend far more on content. "As we look to 2019, we will continue to invest in scripted programming and shift to make our YouTube Originals ad supported to meet the growing demand of a more global fanbase," a YouTube rep said in a statement. "This next phase of our originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators, and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube generation."

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Google To Open Project Fi To iPhone, Samsung, and OnePlus
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department:
Google's Project Fi mobile service will reportedly be adding support for Samsung, OnePlus, and iPhones. "More handsets from existing Fi partners LG and Motorola will also gain Fi support," reports The Verge. "The iPhone experience is apparently 'in beta,' which is a sign that users might run into bugs or be left without some of Fi's features." From the report: The lineup of "Fi-ready" compatible phones -- those that Google says have been fully optimized for the network -- is fairly short: Google is currently selling the Pixel 3, 3 XL, 2 XL, LG G7, LG V35, Moto G6, and Moto X4 (Android One edition) directly through its Project Fi website.

And although Google is apparently about to widen support and officially allow more devices onto Fi, those "Fi-friendly" phones will still offer the best overall user experience for subscribers, according to the report. It's not yet entirely clear what that means, but we should know more once Google makes a proper announcement. Either way, adding that pool of popular hardware will allow for many more consumers to give the service a shot and see if the pricing model and performance are preferable over Fi's larger competitors.

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China Expands Research Funding, Luring US Scientists and Students
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's international-attention department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: In the past decade or so, China has been expanding its commitment to scientific research, and it shows. Chinese researchers now produce more scientific publications than U.S. scientists do, and the global ratings of Chinese universities are rising. Five years ago [professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, JaySiegel] became dean of the school of pharmaceutical science and technology at Tianjin University. He says the university president recruited him to build an undergraduate program that would attract students from all over -- not just China. Siegel says the program is taught entirely in English. There's another aspect of getting a pharmaceutical science degree at Tianjin that Siegel expects students from throughout the world to find particularly attractive: The Chinese government plans to offer scholarships to cover the cost for students who enroll. Siegel says this is all part of China's effort to attract international scientists. Of course, there are some drawbacks with working in China. There are internet restrictions, making it difficult to reach certain websites; English isn't spoken throughout most of the country, posing a problem for many foreign visitors; and free speech isn't the same concept as it is in the United States. With that said, "There's no interference politically on the science," says Greg Herczeg, an astronomer at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University.

"We've had no political restrictions," says Siegel. "I know that people talk about them being out there, and I've heard rumors of things. But, for us personally, I would have to say no, I've not had that experience."

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YouTube Will Remove All Pop-up Annotations on January 15
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 02:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's good-riddance department:
Early last year, YouTube announced that it would be retiring annotations, those boxes that pop up during a video with links and additional information. It discontinued the annotations editor in May of last year and soon all existing annotations will be going away as well. From a report: The company added an update to the help page announcing the end of its annotations editor, saying, "We will stop showing existing annotations to viewers starting January 15, 2019. All existing annotations will be removed."

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CO2 Emissions Rose for the First Time in 4 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Human emissions of carbon dioxide have gone up for the first time since 2013, according to the UN's ninth annual Emissions Gap Report, meaning the world isn't on track to mitigate the worst of climate change's already disastrous effects. From the report: The report, published on Tuesday, says that while carbon emissions stayed relatively level between 2014 and 2016, carbon emissions in 2017 went up by 1.2 percent. Composed by climate scientists using the most up-to-date scientific data, the report aims to determine whether we're on track to meet the goals set by international climate agreements, such as the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. The "emissions gap" is the difference between how low our emissions need to be, and where they actually are. The UN report concludes that the world isn't hitting the emissions targets necessary to curb warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. While the goal is not impossible, it's unlikely to be met under current political conditions, which have rendered us unable to take significant action against climate change for more than half a century. "According to the current policy and [Nationally Determined Contributions] scenarios, global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020," the report reads. "As the emissions gap assessment shows, this original level of ambition needs to be roughly tripled for the 2C scenario and increased around fivefold for the 1.5C scenario."

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5G Will Cover Roughly 1.5 Billion People By 2024, Researchers Say
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
By the end of 2025, 5G will reach more than 40 percent of the world's population and cover 1.5 billion people, according to the latest mobility report [PDF] from telecommunications company Ericsson, which says its networks currently carry nearly half the world's mobile traffic. From the report: 5G, short for fifth-generation network technology, promises a massive boost in speed and responsiveness. Industry watchers expect the first 5G smartphones to come out in the first half of next year. Researchers forecast that mobile data consumption will reach more than 21GB per month by 2024, which is nearly four times the consumption in 2018. 5G networks will carry 25 percent of global mobile data traffic, according to Ericsson. North America and North East Asia are expected to lead the 5G rollout, followed by Western Europe.

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A UK Commons Committee Chair Says He's Seen Evidence a Facebook Engineer Flagged Russian Entities Pulling Billions of Points of Data Every Day in 2014
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 12:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-in-bad-Facebook-PR-today department:
A UK Commons committee chair claims a seized trove of Facebook documents reveals that a company engineer flagged Russian "entities" were using a Pinterest API to pull billions of points of Facebook data every day in 2014. From a report: Damian Collins appeared to use parliamentary privilege to outline the detail from the sealed documents, during a fiery session of questioning of Facebook executive Richard Allan before the first sitting of the "international grand committee on disinformation and fake news" in London on Tuesday. The most contentious moment came during an exchange between Allan and the chair of the committee over what's alleged to be in a set of documents that are subject to the protective order of a California court.

During the questioning of Allan on Tuesday, Collins said the emails would not be released. But he did outline details from an alleged incident which, if true, would raise further questions about how Facebook responded to learning about data being taken from the platform. "An engineer at Facebook notified the company in October 2014 that entities with Russian IP addresses have been using a Pinterest API key to pull over 3 billion data points a day," Collins said. "Now was that reported to any external body at the time?" Allan dismissed the claim by focusing on the source of the information, Six4Three, labelling it a "hostile litigant." Further reading: Facebook Exec Admits Zuckerberg Not Appearing Before UK Parliament Doesn't Look Great (CNBC);
'The Problem is Facebook,' Lawmakers From Nine Countries Tell Zuckerberg's Accountability Stand-in (TechCrunch); and
"When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit": The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg (VanityFair).

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The Police in UK Want AI To Stop Violent Crime Before it Happens
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 12:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Police in the UK want to predict serious violent crime using artificial intelligence, New Scientist is reporting. The idea is that individuals flagged by the system will be offered interventions, such as counseling, to avert potential criminal behavior. From the report: However, one of the world's leading data science institutes has expressed serious concerns about the project after seeing a redacted version of the proposals. The system, called the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), uses a combination of AI and statistics to try to assess the risk of someone committing or becoming a victim of gun or knife crime, as well as the likelihood of someone falling victim to modern slavery. West Midlands Police is leading the project and has until the end of March 2019 to produce a prototype. Eight other police forces, including London's Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police, are also involved. NDAS is being designed so that every police force in the UK could eventually use it. Police funding has been cut significantly over recent years, so forces need a system that can look at all individuals already known to officers, with the aim of prioritizing those who need interventions most urgently, says Iain Donnelly, the police lead on the project.

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Microsoft's Multi-Factor Authentication Service Goes Down For Second Week in a Row
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 10:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's well-that's-fantastic department:
Just over a week after a global problem with its multi-factor authentication (MFA) service plagued a number of users, another Microsoft MFA outage is impacting a number of customers. Many, but not all, of the customers reporting problems today seem to be U.S.-based. From a report: Starting around 9:15 a.m. ET, a number of Office 365 customers began reporting on Twitter that they were unable to sign into that service because of an MFA issue. Office 365 is one of a number of Microsoft services that uses Azure Active Directory MFA to authenticate. Around 10:15 a.m. ET, Microsoft's Azure status dashboard was updated to reflect the possibility of a cross-region potential outage impacting MFA. "Impacted customers may experience failures when attempting to authenticate into Azure resources where MFA is required by policy. Engineers are investigating the issue and the next update will be provided in 60 minutes or as events warrant," the dashboard status said.

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Uber has Cracked Two Classic '80s Video Games by Giving an AI Algorithm a New Type of Memory
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 10:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An algorithm that remembers previous explorations in Montezuma's Revenge and Pitfall! could make computers and robots better at learning how to succeed in the real world. From a report: A new kind of machine-learning algorithm just mastered a couple of throwback video games that have proved to be a big headache for AI. Those following along will know that AI algorithms have bested the world's top human players at the ancient, elegant strategy game Go, one of the most difficult games imaginable. But two pixelated classics from the era of 8-bit computer games -- Montezuma's Revenge and Pitfall! -- have stymied AI researchers. There's a reason for this seeming contradiction. Although deceptively simple, both Montezuma's Revenge and Pitfall! have been immune to mastery via reinforcement learning, a technique that's otherwise adept at learning to conquer video games.

DeepMind, a subsidiary of Alphabet focused on artificial intelligence, famously used it to develop algorithms capable of learning how to play several classic video games at an expert level. Reinforcement-learning algorithms mesh well with most games, because they tweak their behavior in response to positive feedback -- the score going up. The success of the approach has generated hope that AI algorithms could teach themselves to do all sorts of useful things that are currently impossible for machines. The problem with both Montezuma's Revenge and Pitfall! is that there are few reliable reward signals. Both titles involve typical scenarios: protagonists explore blockish worlds filled with deadly creatures and traps. But in each case, lots of behaviors that are necessary to advance within the game do not help increase the score until much later. Ordinary reinforcement-learning algorithms usually fail to get out of the first room in Montezuma's Revenge, and in Pitfall! they score exactly zero.

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'General Motors, Sears and Toys R Us: Layoffs Across America Highlight Our Shredding Financial Safety Net'
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 09:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
New submitter Bruce Henry shares a story: Today's aging workforce faces an uncertain future. The announcement this week that General Motors will lay off 15 percent of its salaried workforce and shutter multiple plants in North America was a sobering reminder of how far the American worker has fallen. Unlike most large private sector corporations today, thousands of employees at GM still enjoy some union benefits. The company has reportedly set aside $2 billion for layoffs and buyouts. It's not much, but it's something -- many workers, if they are laid off en masse, will be far less lucky. Some older Americans are lucky enough to have been grandfathered into generous pension plans and others hope social security and personal savings will be enough to sustain themselves. But for millions of younger people, the outlook is bleaker -- an ever-diminishing social safety net, with retirement dependent almost entirely on how well they manage savings. Two-thirds of millennials have nothing saved for retirement.

< article continued at Slashdot's how-about-that department >

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China is Planning To Build a Deep Sea Base For Unmanned Submarine Science and Defense Operations in the South China Sea
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 09:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Urged by China President Xi Jinping to dare to do something that has never been done before, scientists say challenges could give China huge technology lead. From a report: China is planning to build a deep sea base for unmanned submarine science and defence operations in the South China Sea, a centre that might become the first artificial intelligence colony on Earth, officials and scientists involved in the plan said. The project -- named in part after Hades, the underworld of Greek mythology -- was launched at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing this month after a visit to a deep sea research institute at Sanya, Hainan province, by Chinese President Xi Jinping in April.

Xi urged the scientists and engineers to dare to do something that has never been done before. "There is no road in the deep sea, we do not need to chase [after other countries], we are the road," he said.
The idea of an outpost for deep sea exploration has been a favourite of scientists, engineers and fiction writers for hundreds of years, while the Greek allegory of Atlantis has inspired many "city beneath the sea" stories. The Hadal zone that would be home to the base is the deepest part of an ocean -- typically a V-shape abyss -- at a depth of 6,000 to 11,000 metres (19,685 to 36,100 feet). The project will cost Chinese taxpayers 1.1 billion yuan (US$160 million), the scientists said. That is half as much again as the cost of the FAST radio telescope -- the world's largest -- in Guizhou province, southwest China.

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Half of all Phishing Sites Now Have the Padlock
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's watch-out department:
You may have heard you should look for the padlock symbol at the top of a website before entering your password or credit card information into an online form. It's well-meaning advice, but new data shows it isn't enough to keep your sensitive information secure. From a report: Recent data from anti-phishing company PhishLabs shows that 49 percent of all phishing sites in the third quarter of 2018 bore the padlock security icon next to the phishing site domain name as displayed in a browser address bar. That's up from 25 percent just one year ago, and from 35 percent in the second quarter of 2018. This alarming shift is notable because a majority of Internet users have taken the age-old "look for the lock" advice to heart, and still associate the lock icon with legitimate sites. A PhishLabs survey conducted last year found more than 80% of respondents believed the green lock indicated a website was either legitimate and/or safe. In reality, the https:// part of the address (also called "Secure Sockets Layer" or SSL) merely signifies the data being transmitted back and forth between your browser and the site is encrypted and can't be read by third parties. The presence of the padlock does not mean the site is legitimate, nor is it any proof the site has been security-hardened against intrusion from hackers.

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Google Workers Sign Letter Seeking End To China Search Project
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
A group of Google employees have put their name to a public letter calling on the company to abandon its plans for a Chinese search product that censors results. From a report: Project Dragonfly, as the initiative is known, would enable state surveillance at a time when the Chinese government is expanding controls over the population, according to the letter signed by at least 10 workers, predominately software engineers and researchers. The document also called on management to commit to transparency, be accountable and provide clear communication.

Ever since plans for Dragonfly emerged in August, Google parent Alphabet has been riven by internal dissent at the prospect of a search engine bending to Beijing's censorship. It was that sort of government control that prompted co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to effectively pull out of China in 2010 when it decided to stop removing controversial links from web queries.

"We refuse to build technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be," the Google workers wrote in the letter. "Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions."

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Comcast Raises Cable TV Bills Again -- Even If You're Under Contract
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 05:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nickeled-and-dimed department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast is raising its controversial "Broadcast TV" and "Regional Sports Network" fees again on January 1, with the typical total price going from $14.50 to $18.25 a month. The newly raised broadcast TV fee will be $10 a month, and the sports fee will be $8.25 a month, Cord Cutters News reported last week. The new fee sizes are confirmed in a Comcast price list for the Atlanta market. The new price hikes will take effect in most of Comcast's regional markets across the U.S. on January 1, but some cities will get the increase later in 2019, a Comcast spokesperson told Ars. The fee sizes can vary by city based on which stations are available, so in some cases they could be less than $10 and $8.25, Comcast said.

The fees, which have become common in the industry, are controversial because they are not included in Comcast's advertised prices and because Comcast imposes fee increases even on customers who are under contract. The broadcast and sports fee increases will also be applied to customers who pay Comcast's promotional rates, which typically last one year, Comcast told Ars. Equipment rental fees are rising, too. Comcast last year raised its modem rental fee from $10 to $11 a month. The new price list for January 1 lists an "Internet/Voice Equipment Rental" fee as $13. Comcast confirmed to Ars that the modem rental fee is rising $2 a month. Customers can avoid that fee by purchasing their own modem.

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Dictionary.com Picks 'Misinformation' As Word of the Year
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 04:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hand-picked department:
Misinformation was chosen Monday as Dictionary.com's word of the year. "Jane Solomon, a linguist-in-residence at Dictionary, said in a recent interview that her site's choice of 'mis' over 'dis' was deliberate, intended to serve as a 'call to action' to be vigilant in the battle against fake news, flat earthers and anti-vaxxers, among other conduits," reports CBS News. From the report: It's the idea of intent, whether to inadvertently mislead or to do it on purpose, that the Oakland, California-based company wanted to highlight. The company decided it would go high when others have spent much of 2018 going low. "The rampant spread of misinformation is really providing new challenges for navigating life in 2018," Solomon told The Associated Press ahead of the word of the year announcement. "Misinformation has been around for a long time, but over the last decade or so the rise of social media has really, really changed how information is shared. We believe that understanding the concept of misinformation is vital to identifying misinformation as we encounter it in the wild, and that could ultimately help curb its impact."

"Disinformation would have also been a really, really interesting word of the year this year, but our choice of misinformation was very intentional," she said. "Disinformation is a word that kind of looks externally to examine the behavior of others. It's sort of like pointing at behavior and saying, 'THIS is disinformation.' With misinformation, there is still some of that pointing, but also it can look more internally to help us evaluate our own behavior, which is really, really important in the fight against misinformation. It's a word of self-reflection, and in that it can be a call to action. You can still be a good person with no nefarious agenda and still spread misinformation." Some of the runners-up include "representation," "self-made," and "backlash."

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Google Is Being Vague With Disclosure In Early Real-World Duplex Calls
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 02:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's intentionally-vague department:
A small group of Pixel owners in "select" U.S. cities are able to use Google's new Duplex feature to automatically make voice calls to restaurants and other businesses on their behalf. Referencing a demo from VentureBeat, The Verge notes that "the exchange between Duplex and a restaurant on the other side of the call is raising some early concerns about transparency." From the report: [Y]ou'll notice that Duplex never identifies itself as a robot. It never tells the person taking the call that they're interacting with an automated system. "Hi, I'm calling to make a reservation for a client. I'm calling from Google, so the call may be recorded," is what Duplex says to begin the conversation. And that little bit -- about the call coming "from Google" and potentially being recorded -- is the only disclosure that it ever provides. From then on, Duplex handles the requested dinner reservation smoothly.

This disclosure doesn't match up with a promotional video for Duplex that Google posted to YouTube back in June. In that example (embedded below), Duplex makes it very clear that it's a bot. "Hi, I'm the Google Assistant calling to make a reservation for a client. This automated call will be recorded." That's a much better approach. You're talking to the Google Assistant. It's an automated call, and it is being recorded; no maybes about it. The report notes that some Duplex calls -- such as the one VentureBeat included in their demo -- are actually handled by a human. "When a human operator at Google places a Duplex call, they don't necessarily disclose anything about Google Assistant or note it's an automated call," reports The Verge. "Because it's not. Not entirely, anyway. Google's Duplex tests involve a mix of the two; some are led by Googlers, while others let the AI steer. The majority of calls are the latter and automated, from what I'm told."

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Trump Says He Doesn't Believe Government Climate Report Finding in a New Low
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 02:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's digging-new-holes department:
President Donald Trump on Monday rejected a central conclusion of a dire report on the economic costs of climate change released by his own administration. Associated Press reports: But economists said the National Climate Assessment's warning of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in global warming costs is pretty much on the money. Just look at last year with Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, they said. Those three 2017 storms caused at least $265 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The climate report, quietly unveiled Friday, warned that natural disasters are worsening in the United States because of global warming. It said warming-charged extremes "have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration." The report noted the last few years have smashed U.S. records for damaging weather, costing nearly $400 billion since 2015.

"The potential for losses in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century," the report said. It added that if emissions of heat-trapping gases continue at current levels, labor costs in outdoor industries during heat waves could cost $155 billion in lost wages per year by 2090. The president said he read some of the report and "it's fine" but not the part about the devastating economic impact. "I don't believe it," Trump said, adding that if "every other place on Earth is dirty, that's not so good."

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ISS Marks 20 Years Orbiting Earth With Longest Timelapse Ever Made In Space
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '18 at 12:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-celebrate department:
AmiMoJo writes: The International Space Station has been in orbit for 20 years, with the first module Zarya (Russian for "dawn") being launched on the 20th of November in 1998. To celebrate, the European Space Agency (ESA) has released the longest timelapse video made in space to date. "Captured by German astronaut Alexander Gerst, the time-lapse takes you on two trips around the world with labels marking countries that pass through the frame," reports PetaPixel. "Traveling at 28,800 km/h (17896 mph), it takes the station just 90 minutes to orbit the Earth. 21,375 individual photos shot on October 6th went into the video, which is played back at 12.5 times faster than real time."

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Amazon Opens Up Its Internal Machine Learning Training To Everyone
Posted by News Fetcher on November 26 '18 at 09:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's credit-where-credit-is-due department:
Amazon announced Monday that it's making the machine learning courses it uses to train its engineers available to everybody for free. The course is tailored to four major groups -- developers, data scientists, data platform engineers and business professionals -- and it offers both foundational level lessons as well as more advanced instruction.

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