By EditorDavid from Slashdot's serious-business department
Backchannel's Steven Levy reports that Amazon "has a site at an undisclosed semi-rural location where it attempts to simulate the possible obstacles that drones will face in real-world deliveries." Amazon's drones reach speeds of 60 miles per hour, and can perform a 20-mile round trip, which makes Amazon believe they could especially useful deliveries to the suburbs, some rural areas. "The facility features a faux backyard and other simulated locations where drones might have to drop off their cargo." An anonymous reader quotes their report:
"For a while, we were missing clotheslines," says Paul Viola, an AI expert who is charge of Prime Air's autonomy efforts. Now, Amazon's vehicles have a "Don't Hit Clotheslines!" rule in their code. There's even a simulated dog (though not a robot) that Amazon uses to see how the vehicles will respond to canine threats... Amazon is also planning for urban deliveries, with the idea of landing drones on rooftops [and] eventually it might expand to multiple deliveries per expedition, or even take returns back to the warehouse... All of this is done without human intervention. Drones know where to go and how to get there without a human sitting at a ground station actually flying the plane... [A]n Air Prime technician can order a drone to land, but ultimately the drones are autonomous. Amazon envisions that eventually it will have sort of an air traffic controller monitoring the flight patterns of multiple drones.
If something goes wrong, "the first rule of Amazon drones is to abort the flight, returning to base or even carefully finding a landing spot from which to send a rescue signal. 'If it doesn't seem safe, it will land as soon as safely possible,' says Gur Kimchi, who has headed the Prime Air team for four years. (He previously worked at Microsoft.)"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's prolonged-eye-contact department
We all knew this day would come: HTC has introduced a "VR Ad Service" that knows when viewers are actively looking at ads. "Ads that appear in immersive VR environments can not only provide more effective impressions, they can also track whether the users have viewed them or have turned away their gaze. Accordingly, the multiplied effect of effective impressions and verified viewings will bring you higher advertising revenue!" HTC explains. PC Gamer reports: Advertisers will only pay for ads after they've been viewed, according to Business Insider. Some of the formats they will use include loading scenes, 2D and 3D in-app placements, app recommendation banners, and big screen video. This will be an opt-in ad service for developers. HTC notes that by opting in, "all of your free apps would be automatically put on the list which can be used to integrate VR Ads." News of in-game ads coming to VR isn't exactly the sort of thing that will excite gamers. If there's a silver lining here, it's that ads are more likely to be relevant to the viewer's interests over time, at least in theory. "Compared to ordinary ad impressions, ads that are seen by users in a immersive VR environment can not only meet the user's needs by means of precise re-targeting, but can also be detected if they are viewed effectively by users," HTC states. "Therefore, promotion of your applications would have much more effective impression, which not only arouses the attention of potential users and enhance brand image, but further attracts interested users directly to download your apps in the VR environment!"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's having-a-blast department
"British aeronautic engineering startup Gravity unveiled a new human flying suit Friday," writes VentureBeat. An anonymous reader quotes their report.
It's a six-engine jet-propelled personal flying apparatus that the company says will take regular humans to superhero heights at several hundred miles per hour. At the moment, flights are limited to just a few feet above the ground. The suit includes six miniaturized jet engines, two of which are worn on each of the pilot's arms, and two of which can be mounted on the feet, or, in later incarnations of the suit, low on the pilot's back. Each of the jet engines gets fuel from a backpack...
Gravity says the human body is "the airframe" and that your arms and legs serve to both direct and control thrust... "We've already had a few comparisons to Tony Stark, but this is real-world aeronautical innovation,"Gravity founder Richard Browning said in a statement. "We are serious about building a world-changing technology business. We stand at the very beginning of what human propulsion systems will do."
Browning tells TechCrunch "It's no way as dangerous or crazy as it looks."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's defending-by-deriding department
An anonymous reader writes:
There were some surprises in today's edition of the EFF's "EFFector" newsletter. Noting that it's their sqrt(-1)th issue, they report that the EU will protect the privacy of its data by building a 30-foot wall around the United States. "Only U.S. tech companies that comply with EU privacy restrictions and prohibit U.S. government access to their data will be given fiber optic grappling hooks to transport Europeans' data across the Atlantic, over the wall, and back to their U.S.-based servers."
The newsletter also reports that the bipartisan leaders of the U.S. House and Senate Intelligence Committees "apologized during a press conference this morning for failing to provide rigorous supervision of the intelligence community." And the newsletter also reports that Deadpool won an Oscar after PricewaterhouseCoopers mistakenly handed the presenters an envelope with a list of the most-frequently torrent-ed movie of 2016. But perhaps its most unexpected headline is "Comcast to Assimilate with the Borg."
The Borg said the deal would increase its market share, nationwide reach, and overall reputation for evil -- while Comcast claimed that the deal would boost competition.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's runs-in-the-family department
An anonymous reader writes:
Gina Smith is the co-author of Steve Wozniak's 2006 biography. On the day that Steve Jobs died, she posted a poignant story Woz had shared about their early days in Silicon Valley, remembering how Jobs sold his Volkswagen van while Woz sold his calculator to raise funds to build the first Apple 1 computer kit.
The post includes a picture of 22-year-old Steve Jobs standing next to young Steve Wozniak. But there's also an unexpected figure in the background wearing a black ski hat and glasses. It's "tourist guy," the figure from a 9/11 meme whose stoic face was spliced into the background of everything from the explosion of the Hindenburg to the Kennedy assassination, and even into the original Star Trek and Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. The picture is attributed to Margaret Wozniak. So does that mean Steve Wozniak's biographer got pranked by Woz's mom?
Interestingly, in 2011 the tourist guy actually apologized for creating the original fake World Trade Center image. "I assumed my friends would recognise me and call me to see if I was alright, but they didn't, they posted it on to other friends and suddenly it was all over the world... I am ashamed that even now the police still get calls about it."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's political-retox department
"U.S. President Donald Trump is extending by one year special powers introduced by former President Barack Obama that allow the government to issue sanctions against people and organizations engaged in significant cyberattacks and cybercrime against the U.S.," according to InfoWorld. An anonymous reader quotes their report:
Executive Order 13694 was introduced on April 1, 2015, and was due to expire on Saturday, but the president sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday evening informing it of his plans to keep it active. Significant malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," Trump wrote in the letter. "Therefore, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13694 with respect to significant malicious cyber-enabled activities."
The executive order gave the U.S. new powers to retaliate for hacking of critical infrastructure, major denial of service attacks or large scale economic hacking. It was expanded in December 2016 to include election-related systems and used to sanction Russian agents and organizations for their alleged role in a series of attacks during the presidential election.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's security-scan department
An anonymous reader writes:
"Scientists from two Israeli universities have come up with a way to use flatbed scanners as relay points when sending commands to malware installed on an air-gapped computer," reports BleepingComputer. "Further research also revealed the scanner could also be used to relay stolen data to a nearby attacker. The technique they came up with revolves around the idea that a beam of light could be interpreted as a binary 1 and the lack of visual stimulant can be considered a binary 0."
The attacks can be carried out with lasers mounted on drones, on fixed stands, or by hacking smart light bulbs present near the targeted computer. Attack distances can go up to 900 meters (0.56 miles). During their tests, researchers sent various commands to the PC, such as "d x.pdf" (delete file x.pdf) and "en q" (encrypt folder q). Relaying such commands took between 50 to 100 milliseconds. This research was done by the same team that created methods to steal data from PCs using a hard drive's LED, fan heat, sounds emanated by a computer's GPU fan, electromagnetic signals given out by the GPU, and electromagnetic signals given out by an USB bus.
Here's a PDF of the report, which is titled "Oops!...I think I scanned a malware."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Robots-In-Service-of-the-Environment department
"Lionfish are an invasive species that are destroying our coral reefs and fisheries," writes SkinnyGuy. "The non-profit RISE (from iRobot's Colin Angle) has a plan to use robots to fish these Lionfish and serve them up to us on a delicious, golden platter." Mashable reports:
This was not as crazy of an idea as it sounds and Angle had already been wondering "if there was still a way to use robot technology to solve larger environmental problems and maybe more proactively than merely sending our defense robots to natural disaster zones"... Could, Angle wondered, a robot even do the job and could it do it at scale? "Spending half a million dollars to build a robot that kill 10 lionfish is absurd," he told me...
They started with fresh-water electro fishing technology and adapted it for salt water. The robot stuns, but doesn't kill the lionfish and then it sucks them into the robot. It does this over and over again, until full of unconscious fish and then rises to the surface where a fisherman can unload the catch and deliver them to waiting restaurants and food stores. "Ultimately, the control of this device is like a PlayStation game: you're looking at screen and using a joystick controller. Zap it, catch it, do it again, said RISE Executive Director John Rizzi who told me that a team of unpaid volunteers have been working on the prototype for over a year."
The fish-killing robot will launch in Bermuda at the America's Cup festivities on April 19th, where there'll also be a celebrity chef lionfish cook-off and other events to help raise money "to further developer, build and deliver these robots to commercial fishermen and women."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's external-libraries department
An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld:
Mithril's website features a comparison to Angular, React, and Vue. Mithril, for example, offers much quicker library load times and update performance than React, and it has a better learning curve and update performance than Angular. Compared to Vue, Mithril supposedly offers better library load times and update performance.
Since its initial release, version 1.0.1 has added performance improvements in IE, while 1.1.0 added support for ES6 class components and support for closure components.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's see-you-in-two-weeks department
"Because we want ArcaOS 5.0 to be the best that it can be, Arca Noae has made the difficult decision to delay release two weeks, with a new projected delivery date of April 15, 2017," reads a new announcement on the Arca Noae web site.
Because we don't believe in selling anything we are not ready to ship, we will not be taking pre-orders for ArcaOS 5.0. Please be patient while we get the last few things as they should be, so that your experience installing and using ArcaOS 5.0 is as smooth as possible.
One of last week's most popular stories was about the upcoming release of this x86 OS/2-based operating system (codenamed "Blue Lion") which will offer full backward compatibility with legacy OS/2, DOS and Windows 3.1 applications, as well as "ported Linux applications." It's still on its way, the developers explain, but "Finishing touches can often take longer than expected."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's picking-a-fight department
Mashable has an interesting article that talks about the penetration of "social authentication" services: There are two ways to log in on websites: try to recall the email address and password you registered with -- or simply hit the "Facebook Login" button. The convenience of the latter underscores the popularity of social authentication options. You'll see Facebook and Google login buttons on popular sites including Netflix, Uber, Spotify, Imgur and Linkedin, just to name some. Facebook itself estimates that some 350 million people log into a new app or site with their Facebook credentials every month. Olga Kuznetsova, Engineering Manager at Facebook told us that the Facebook Login button ranks in the top three of consumer account creation and sign-in preferences worldwide. More than 85 of the top 100 apps in the U.S. market use Facebook's Login gateway as a login, she added. For years, Google and Facebook have assumed control over the social authentication space, the article adds, citing numbers from companies and analysts. But interestingly, telecom operators are prepping to fight for a slice of the space. So-called mobile identity is one of several projects being developed in the industry to reinforce the position of network operators, which have already suffered an erosion of their traditional communications businesses by the rise of large US technology groups such as Facebook and Google, analysts say. The article adds: Mobile Connect is an authentication solution that the GSMA, the global telecoms industry trade organisation, has been working on for over three years. Through Mobile Connect, GSMA is offering users a much more convenient and "more secure" sign-in option, Jaikishan Rajaraman, global head of technology at GSMA said. The authentication service only requires users to enter their phone number when signing in. There is no password box. When a customer enters her phone number, her carrier (telecom operator, in this case) vouches for her identity. Incredibly, over 42 operators in 22 nations are on-board with Mobile Connect, and the service is already live to over 3.1 billion people. The article adds that GSMA is in talks with governments to add Mobile Connect on their websites and apps. Interestingly, banks, that have long resisted the idea of having Google's and Facebook's authentication service, are also showing interesting.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's figment-of-your-imagination department
boley1 quotes a report from New Atlas: According to the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (Lambda-CDM) model, which is the current accepted standard for how the universe began and evolved, the ordinary matter we encounter every day only makes up around five percent of the universe's density, with dark matter comprising 27 percent, and the remaining 68 percent made up of dark energy, a so-far theoretical force driving the expansion of the universe. A new study has questioned whether dark energy exists at all, citing computer simulations that found that by accounting for the changing structure of the cosmos, the gap in the theory, which dark energy was proposed to fill, vanishes. According to the new study from Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary and the University of Hawaii, the discrepancy that dark energy was "invented" to fill might have arisen from the parts of the theory that were glossed over for the sake of simplicity. The researchers set up a computer simulation of how the universe formed, based on its large-scale structure. That structure apparently takes the form of "foam," where galaxies are found on the thin walls of each bubble, but large pockets in the middle are mostly devoid of both normal and dark matter. The team simulated how gravity would affect matter in this structure and found that, rather than the universe expanding in a smooth, uniform manner, different parts of it would expand at different rates. Importantly, though, the overall average rate of expansion is still consistent with observations, and points to accelerated expansion. The end result is what the team calls the Avera model. If the research stands up to scrutiny, it could change the direction of the study of physics away from chasing the ghost of dark energy. "The theory of general relativity is fundamental in understanding the way the universe evolves," says Dr Laszlo Dobos, co-author of the new paper. "We do not question its validity; we question the validity of the approximate solutions. Our findings rely on a mathematical conjecture which permits the differential expansion of space, consistent with general relativity, and they show how the formation of complex structures of matter affects the expansion. These issues were previously swept under the rug but taking them into account can explain the acceleration without the need for dark energy." The study has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. You can view an animation that compares the different models here.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Y-Combinator-did-it-first department
As automation continues to replace human workers, a universal basic income program will begin paying $1,689 per month to select Ontario residents later this year, as Canada joins other countries testing a UBI (which include America, Scotland, the Netherlands, Finland, India, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda). An anonymous reader quotes the Toronto Star:
Public support in Ontario for the province's three-year UBI project to be launched this spring in three Ontario communities is remarkably strong. The 35,000 Ontarians canvassed by Queen's Park for their input were near-unanimous in supporting the UBI projects. And they insisted that a UBI augment, rather than replace, existing welfare, medical and other social supports...
A well-designed UBI equates to freedom. Freedom from exploitative employers. Freedom to launch a small business or develop an invention despite a lack of employment income. Liberation from the "poverty trap," where taking a paying job means surrendering welfare and other benefits... Fact is, job scarcity in traditional vocations is acute, worsening and permanent. In 2013, two Oxford professors forecast that about 45 per cent of U.S. jobs could be eliminated by automation within the next 20 years. And a more recent report by researchers at Indiana's Ball State University found that 88 per cent of U.S. job loss has been caused by automation, not globalization.
Interestingly, the U.S. launched a Universal Basic Income pilot program which ran for three years starting in 1968. It was run by 36-year-old Donald Rumsfeld (who would later become Secretary of Defense) working with special assistant Dick Cheney (who went on to become America's vice president from 2001-2009). U.S. representatives even voted to replace welfare with a UBI, but the measure ultimately failed in the Senate.Read Replies (0)