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Updated: 9 hours 13 min ago

Zero Zero's Camera Drone Could Be A Robot Command Center In The Future

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 4:53pm
Tekla Perry writes: Zero Zero Robotics comes out of stealth today with the Hover Camera drone that uses face and body recognition to follow and photograph selected subjects. Company cofounder Meng Qiu Wang explains why he did the engineering in China (he built a team of 80 that worked two years on the project), and how this flying camera will evolve to be a navigation and control system for future home robots. According Zero Zero cofounder and CEO Meng Qiu Wang, "It has two cameras. The front viewing camera is a 13-megapixel camera that records video, but also has Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), an algorithm that allows it to determine where it is. It also has a down-facing video camera, running an algorithm called optical flow, that looks at ground at 60 frames per second, so the Hover knows when it moves and can correct itself. These visual sensors are giving inputs and actual position and speed, meanwhile, the accelerometer and gyroscope gives relative position. All these signals are fed into the flight control algorithm, so when I throw it up in the air, it can just hover there." With a price of less than $600, it should compete well against the expensive DJI Phantom 4, which is already available on the market for $1400 and features autonomous flying and tracking features.

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HTC Announces $100 Million Fund For Virtual Reality Startups

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 4:09pm
An anonymous reader writes: HTC today announced the Vive X accelerator program through which the company will invest from it's newly created $100 million VR fund. The fund aims to kickstart the VR ecosystem in support of the company's Vive VR headset. Applications for the accelerator program, which will open first in Beijing, Taipei, and San Francisco, are open today. The company says their aim is to "help cultivate, and grow the global VR ecosystem by supporting startups and providing them with expertise, special access to advanced VR technology, financial investment, mentorship and unmatched go-to-market support."

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Inside 'Emojigeddon': The Fight Over The Future Of The Unicode Consortium

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 3:24pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report on Buzzfeed: There's trouble afoot inside the Emoji Council of Elders, or, at the very least, signs of a low-simmering schism that's being referred to by some of its participants -- perhaps with less humor than one might expect -- as "Emojigeddon." A series of frustrated emails show a deepening rift between those who adhere to the organization's original mission to code old and obscure and minority languages and those who are investing time and resources toward Unicode's newer and most popular character sets: emojis. From the article: "The correspondence offers a peek behind the scenes of the peculiar and little-known organization that's unexpectedly been tasked with building what some see as the first digital universal language." What are your thoughts of emojis? Have you embraced and intertwined them into your digital language or are you unconvinced of their ability to transcribe any kind of deep understanding?

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FBI Director Suggests iPhone Hacking Method May Remain Secret

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 2:41pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: FBI Director James Comey said on Tuesday that his agency was still assessing whether a vulnerability used to unlock an iPhone linked to one of the San Bernardino killers would go through a government review to determine if it should be disclosed to Apple or the public. "We are in the midst of trying to sort that out," Comey said. "The threshold (for disclosure) is, are we aware of the vulnerability, or did we just buy a tool and don't have sufficient knowledge of the vulnerability to implicate the process?" The White House has a procedure for reviewing technology security flaws and deciding which ones should be made public. Although officials say the process leans toward disclosure, it is not set up to handle or reveal flaws that are discovered and owned by private companies, sources have told Reuters, raising questions about the effectiveness of the so-called Vulnerabilities Equities Process.

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Apple Has First Earnings Decline In More Than A Decade

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 1:57pm
An anonymous reader writes: Apple has announced its first-ever decline in revenue in the past 13 years as its iPhone sales have slowed down. Apple posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and quarterly net income of $10.5 billion. Last year, the company posted revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion. The reason Apple has been so successful is because of the iPhone, which was first released in 2007. What goes up must come down -- and we're starting to see that now. The success of the iPhone is starting plateau and ultimately decrease now that consumers are finding less of a reason to upgrade to the latest and greatest smartphone. Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed to weakening currencies worldwide as one of the obstacles the company would face as iPhone sales were up less than 1 percent year-over-year last quarter. Gene Munster, managing director and senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, told ABC News, "This has been anticipated for three months now. The reason is nothing [that] is wrong with the iPhone." Munster said this is not worrisome to Apple and that iPhone sales will likely increase by the end of the year when the next iPhone(s) is released.

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Node.js Version 6 Released With LTS

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 1:12pm
dmleonard618 writes: The JavaScript runtime Node.js has reached version 6.0, and unlike version 5.0 this version will receive Long Term Support (LTS). LTS is meant to provide the release with long-term stability, reliability, performance and security. The LTS will begin in October. The current LTS release will go into maintenance mode and will only receive bug, security and documentation updates. Version 5.0 of Node.js will continue to be maintained for a few more months. The latest version features improved module loading, 96% of ECMAScript 2015 features, as well as reliability and security enhancements. "The Node.js Project has done an incredible job of bringing this version to life in the timeline that we initially proposed in September 2015," said Mikeal Rogers, community manager for the Node.js Foundation. "It's important for us to continue to deliver new versions of Node.js equipped with all the cutting-edge JavaScript features to serve the needs of developers and to continue to improve the performance and stability enterprises rely on."

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YouTube To Roll Out 6-Second Ads That You Can't Skip

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 12:29pm
An anonymous reader writes: YouTube announced on Tuesday that it will be introducing an unskippable, 6-second bumper ads before certain videos. The video juggernaut says that these ads are largely aimed at mobile users. "We like to think of Bumper ads as little haikus of video ads -- and we're excited to see what the creative community will do with them," YouTube's Zach Lupei wrote in a blog post. The Verge reports, "The company justifies the short ads (which cannot be skipped, unlike longer spots) by pointing to research showing that 50 percent of 18 to 49-year-olds turn to mobile as their first option for consuming video -- and keep in mind a ton of that is music."

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Top Silicon Valley Execs and Others Urge Congress To Fund K-12 Computer Science Education

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 11:50am
An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch report:Some of the biggest names in tech and corporate America, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, have teamed up with governors and educators to ask Congress to provide $250 million in federal funding to school districts in order to give every single K-12 student in the nation an opportunity to learn how to code. On the legislative side, these tech CEOs are joined by governors from both sides, including California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R). Earlier this year, President Barack Obama called for more than $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million for districts in order to bring computer science curricula to every single K-12 student in the country. What this group of CEOs, governors and educators is asking for today is different. They're saying that this issue can be addressed without growing the federal budget. The petition reads:Not only does computer science provide every student foundational knowledge, it also leads to the highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. economy. There are currently over 500,000 open computing jobs, in every sector, from manufacturing to banking, from agriculture to healthcare, but only 50,000 computer science graduates a year. Whether a student aspires to be a software engineer, or if she just wants a well-rounded education in today's changing world, access to computer science in school is an economic imperative for our nation to remain competitive. And with the growing threat of cyber warfare, this is even a critical matter of national security. Despite this growing need, targeted federal funding to carry out these efforts in classrooms is virtually non-existent. This bipartisan issue can be addressed without growing the federal budget.

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Spotify Denies User Details Hacked After Passwords Show Up Online

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 11:12am
Not long ago a list of hundreds of Spotify subscribers was dumped on Pastebin. The list included email addresses, usernames, passwords, account type, and plenty of other details. Also, TechCrunch independently confirmed that some of the credentials listed were indeed legit. The music streaming service is now assuring users that there was no "large-scale" hack. Samantha Murphy Kelly, reporting for Mashable:It appears that some accounts were compromised in the past few days. According to the report, some Spotify users discovered their passwords and email addresses attached to accounts were recently changed without authorization. Others spotted new songs saved to playlists they didn't manually add. Despite users reporting shady activity, Spotify told Mashable it denies it is a part of a large-scale hack. "Spotify has not been hacked and our user records are secure. We monitor Pastebin and other sites regularly. When we find Spotify credentials, we first verify that they are authentic, and if they are, we immediately notify affected users to change their passwords."

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Apple Is Outdated, Says Chinese Conglomerate LeEco CEO

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 10:30am
An anonymous reader shares an article on CNBC: Apple is "outdated" and losing momentum in China, billionaire entrepreneur Jia Yueting told CNBC in his first international television interview. "Apple only has individual apps. This was the right choice during the first generation of mobile net, when CPUs [central processing units] and the mobile network speeds were not fast enough," Jia said. "However now we're moving into the next era of mobile internet, these problems no longer exist. Moreover, having separate apps just means great obstacles in the user experience. We hope to break down these obstacles. One of the most important reasons [for slowing sales] is that Apple's innovation has become extremely slow," he said. "For example, a month ago Apple launched the iPhone SE. From an industry insider's perspective, this is a product with a very low level of technology... We think this is something they just shouldn't have done. [...] The Watch hasn't cut it. And they're looking at content on the services side, on the iTunes side. We'll see how that works out. But definitely they need something to drive the next leg of growth." In some other Apple news, the company is expected to announce its first quarterly year-over-year revenue decline since 2003 later today.

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Your Media Business Will Not Be Saved

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 9:50am
Joshua Topolsky, co-founder of The Verge and Vox Media, and formerly Editor-in-chief of Engadget, has published an article on Medium wherein he analyzes the ongoing and long-term issues with digital media businesses and their increasingly growing thirst for more and more clicks. Topolsky says that the rate at which media outlets are adopting the new technologies and platforms (such as video, "bots, newsletters, a morning briefing app, a lean back iPad experience, Slack integration, a Snapchat channel, or a great partnership with Twitter") in an attempt to capture more audience -- and save its receding loyal reader base -- isn't going to fix the problem. Topolsky, who left Bloomberg news outlet last year amid his disagreement with Michael Bloomberg himself, writes: The Problem is that we used to have a really neat and tidy version of a media business where very large interests controlled vast swaths of the things we read, watched, and listened to. Because that system was built on the concept of scarcity and locality -- the limits of what was physically possible -- it was very easy to keep the gates and fill the coffers. Put simply, there were far fewer players in the game with far fewer outlets for their content, so audiences were easy to sell to and easy to come by. [...] The media industry now largely thinks its only working business model is to reach as many people as possible, and sell -- usually programmatically, but sometimes not -- as many advertisements against that audience as it can. If they tell you otherwise, they are lying. [...] The truth is that the best and most important things the media (let's say specifically the news media) has ever made were not made to reach the most people -- they were made to reach the right people. Because human beings exist, and we are not content consumption machines. What will save the media industry -- or at least the part worth saving -- is when we start making Real Things for people again, instead of programming for algorithms or New Things.

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Google, Ford, Volvo, Lyft and Uber Join Coalition To Further Self-Driving Cars

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 9:10am
Google, Ford, Volvo, Uber, and Lyft are forming a coalition to help speed self-driving cars to the market. Until now, these five companies have all been working on their own driverless car initiatives. According to a statement, the new effort, dubbed the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, "will work with lawmakers, regulators and the public to realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles." David Strickland, a former top official of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is coalition's counsel and spokesman.

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Open365 Is An Open Source Alternative to Microsoft Office 365

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 8:30am
Martin Brinkmann, writing for Ghacks: Open365 is an open source Office 365 alternative that allows you to edit or create documents online, and to sync files with the cloud. The service is in beta currently but you can sign up for it already on the official website. You may use it using a web browser, download clients for Windows, Mac or Linux desktop machines, or for Android. An iOS client is in the making currently and will be made available as well soon. Open 365 offers two main features that you can make use of. First, it enables you to synchronize files between devices you use and the cloud. Second, it allows you to view, edit and create documents in the cloud using the technology provided by the Open Source Office suite LibreOffice Online for that.

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Mitsubishi: We've Been Cheating On Fuel Tests For 25 years

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 7:50am
An anonymous reader cites an article on CNN:The situation at Mitsubishi Motors just went from bad to much, much worse. The Japanese automaker admitted Tuesday that it had falsified fuel efficiency tests for the past quarter century (warning: annoying autoplay videos, alternate source), the latest revelation in a scandal that has rocked the company. The automaker said last week that it had used improper fuel economy tests on hundreds of thousands of vehicles, including some sold to Nissan. Cars with inflated fuel efficiency ratings were sold only in Japan. Mitsubishi said it would ask lawyers from outside the company to investigate the tests.

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Gmail For Android Gets Microsoft Exchange Support

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 7:20am
An anonymous reader writes: Google has updated Gmail for Android with a very notable feature: support for Microsoft Exchange. You can download the latest version of the app from Google Play (if you don't see it, don't worry: Google says the gradual rollout may take three or more days). The company had actually released this feature a few months ago, but at the time, it was only available for Nexus devices. With the new update, Google is making the feature available to a wider audience. "Exchange support was previously only available on our Nexus devices, but as of today, Exchange support covers mail, contacts, and calendar data in Android across all devices," a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat.

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Businesses Pay $100,000 To DDoS Extortionists Who Never DDoS Anyone

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 6:00am
Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica: In less than two months, online businesses have paid more than $100,000 to scammers who set up a fake distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) gang that has yet to launch a single attack. The charlatans sent businesses around the globe extortion e-mails threatening debilitating DDoS attacks unless the recipients paid as much as $23,000 by Bitcoin in protection money, according to a blog post published Monday by CloudFlare, a service that helps protect businesses from such attacks. Stealing the name of an established gang that was well known for waging such extortion rackets, the scammers called themselves the Armada Collective.An excerpt from CloudFlare blog post:Given that the attackers can't tell who has paid the extortion fee and who has not, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that they appear to treat all victims the same: attacking none of them. To date, we've not seen a single attack launched against a threatened organization. This is in spite of nearly all of the threatened organizations we're aware of not paying the extortion fee. We've compared notes with fellow DDoS mitigation vendors and none of them have seen any attacks launched since March against organizations that have received Armada Collective threats.

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City Installs Traffic Lights In Sidewalks For Smartphone Users

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 5:03am
tlhIngan writes: It's finally happened -- the smartphone zombies are here. The German city of Augsburg installed traffic lights in the sidewalks so smartphone users don't have to look up. Apparently people are so addicted to their smartphones they can't be bothered to look up at traffic signals, so embedding them in the ground they don't have to. According to the Washington Post report, the city spokeswoman Stephanie Lermen thinks the money used to install the lights is well spent. A recent survey conducted in several European cities including Berlin, found that almost 20 percent of pedestrians were distracted by their smartphones. Of course, younger people are at higher risk as they're willing to risk their safety to look at their Facebook profiles or WhatsApp messages, the survey found. The problem may be even worse in the U.S: A survey by the University of Washington found that 1 in 3 Americans is busy texting or working on a smartphone at dangerous road crossings. City officials say installing the traffic lights is justified: The idea is to install such traffic lights came after a 15-year-old girl was killed by a tram. According to police reports, she was distracted by her smartphone as she crossed the tracks.

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Tesla Will Install More Energy Storage With SolarCity In 2016 Than The US Installed In 2015

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 2:02am
An anonymous reader writes: Tesla is scheduled to install more energy storage capacity in 2016 with SolarCity alone than all of the US installed in 2015. It was revealed in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Tesla foresees an almost 10x increase in sales to SolarCity for behind the meter storage. [From the SEC filing: "We recognized approximately $4.9 million in revenue from SolarCity during fiscal year 2015 for sales of energy storage governed by this master supply agreement, and anticipate recognizing approximately $44.0 million in such revenues during fiscal year 2016."] This revenue projection means Tesla expects to install approximately 116 MWh of behind the meter storage. The U.S. for example installed about 76 MWh of behind the meter storage. SolarCity and Tesla Energy doubled their battery installation volume last year. What's particularly noteworthy is that the 116 MWh expectation does not include SolarCity's biggest project -- Kauai Island's coming 52 MWh system. Hawaii is aiming for 100% renewable energy by 2045 and has contracted with SolarCity to balance the two 12MW Solar Power plants with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). By 2020, there will be 70 GWh of Tesla battery storage on the road, and Straubel expects there to be 10 GWh of controllable load in those cars.

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Rise In CO2 Has 'Greened Planet Earth'

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:37pm
schwit1 quotes a report from BBC: Carbon dioxide emissions from industrial society have driven a huge growth in trees and other plants. A new study says that if the extra green leaves prompted by rising CO2 levels were laid in a carpet, it would cover twice the continental USA. Climate skeptics argue the findings show that the extra CO2 is actually benefiting the planet. But the researchers say the fertilization effect diminishes over time. They warn the positives of CO2 are likely to be outweighed by the negatives. The lead author, Professor Ranga Myneni from Boston University, told BBC News the extra tree growth would not compensate for global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and the prediction of more severe tropical storms. The new study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change by a team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries. A new study has also shown that ever since Americans first heard the term global warming in the 1970's, the weather has actually improved for most people living in the U.S. The study published in the journal Nature found that 80% of the U.S. population lives in counties experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago.

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Goldman Sachs Launches GS Bank, An Internet Bank With A $1 Minimum Deposit

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 7:02pm
An anonymous reader recaps a report from TechCrunch: Traditionally, Goldman Sachs has functioned like a run-of-the-mill investment bank with minimums to open an account in the range of $10 million, and returns not guaranteed. Goldman is opening its doors to the masses today with the launch of GS Bank, an FDIC-insured, internet-based savings bank. Anyone with an internet connection and a dollar can join, as that is what each account's minimum balance must be. GS Bank's interest rates give customers an annual yield of 1.05 percent, a rate that trumps the average U.S. saving's bank yield of .06 percent APY. GS Bank was a result of Goldman's acquisition of GE Capital Bank, the online retail bank previously run by General Electric's capital arm. The move is to diversify revenue streams and strengthen liquidity. GS Bank currently has total deposits of around $114 billion. In other news from the multinational banking firm, Goldman Sachs believes virtual-reality and augmented-reality "will be the next generation computing platform" worth $80 billion by 2025.

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