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How Google's Pixel 2 'Now Playing' Song Identification Works

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 5:00pm
An anonymous reader shares a report from VentureBeat, written by Emil Protalinski: The most interesting Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL feature, to me, is Now Playing. If you've ever used Shazam or SoundHound, you probably understand the basics: The app uses your device's microphone to capture an audio sample and creates an acoustic fingerprint to compare against a central song database. If a match is found, information such as the song title and artist are sent back to the user. Now Playing achieves this with two important differentiators. First, Now Playing detects songs automatically without you explicitly asking -- the feature works when your phone is locked and the information is displayed on the Pixel 2's lock screen (you'll eventually be able to ask Google Assistant what's currently playing, but not yet). Secondly, it's an on-device and local feature: Now Playing functions completely offline (we tested this, and indeed it works with mobile data and Wi-Fi turned off). No audio is ever sent to Google.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Spends $350K On Seattle Mayor's Race

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 4:20pm
reifman writes: Until this summer, Amazon had never contributed more than $15,000 to a city political campaign in Seattle, but this year's different. The company is a lead funder in the Seattle Chamber of Commerce's PAC which dropped $525,000 Monday on Jenny Durkan's PAC, the centrist business candidate. Her opponent Cary Moon is an advocate for affordable housing, which complicates Amazon's growth, and city-owned community broadband. Comcast and Century Link joined Amazon contributing $25,000 and $82,500 respectively to the Chamber's PAC. Amazon's $350,000 contribution represents .00014 of its CY 2016 net profit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Watch's LTE Suspended In China Possibly Due To Government Security Concerns

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 3:40pm
The Apple Watch Series 3's best new feature has been mysteriously blocked in China. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, China has cut off the Apple Watch's LTE connectivity on Sept. 28 after brief availability from China Unicom. Industry analysts claim that the suspension is probably from governmental concerns about not being able to track and confirm users of the device. AppleInsider reports: Apple issued a brief statement confirming the situation, and referring customers to China Unicom. Neither China Unicom, nor Chinese regulators have made any statement on the matter. The issue may stem from the eSIM in the Apple Watch. Devices like the iPhone have state-owned telecom company-issued SIM cards -- and the eSIM is embedded in the device by Apple. "The eSIM (system) isn't mature enough yet in China," one analyst said. "The government still needs to figure out how they can control the eSIM." The LTE version of the Apple Watch had only a trial certificate to operate on the Chinese LTE network. An analyst who asked not to be identified expects that Ministry of Industry and Information Technology may take months to figure out how the government will deal with the eSIM, and issue a formal certificate for operation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Almost Half of Tech Workers Worry About Losing Their Jobs Because of Ageism, Says Survey

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 3:00pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from SiliconBeat: More than 40 percent of tech workers worry about losing their jobs because of age, a new survey shows. Jobs site Indeed also found that 18 percent of those who work in the tech industry worry "all the time" about losing their jobs because of ageism. The release of the survey Thursday comes amid other news about diversity -- or lack thereof -- in tech workplaces. Often when we report about diversity issues, readers wonder about older workers. The Indeed survey offers insight into the age of the tech workforce: It's young. Indeed concluded from surveying more than 1,000 respondents in September that the tech workforce is composed of about 46 percent millennials, with 36 percent of respondents saying the average employee age at their company is 31 to 35, and 17 percent saying that the average worker age at their company is 20 to 30. What about Generation X and baby boomers? Twenty-seven percent of respondents said the average age of employees at their company is 36 to 40, while 26 percent of respondents said the workers at their companies are 40 and older.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Alphabet Invests $1 Billion In Lyft

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 2:40pm
Lyft announced Thursday that Google-parent Alphabet is leading a $1 billion financing round into the ride-hailing company. This ups Lyft's valuation from $7.5 billion to $11 billion. The funding is coming from CapitalG, one of Alphabet's investment firms. CNET reports: "CapitalG is honored to work with Lyft's compelling founders and strong leadership team," David Lawee, CapitalG partner, said in a statement. "Ridesharing is still in its early days and we look forward to seeing Lyft continue its impressive growth." Compared with Uber, Lyft has long been the small dog in the ride-hailing world. Before now, it's received $2.6 billion in venture funding, whereas Uber has received $12.9 billion and is valued at $68 billion. Alphabet's investment in Lyft could be a sore spot for rival Uber. Uber is currently locked in a legal battle with Waymo.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Consumer Reports Expects Tesla's Model 3 To Have 'Average Reliability'

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 2:20pm
There may be only a few hundred Tesla Model 3s on the street, but Consumer Reports already has an opinion on the new car's dependability. From a report: "We are predicting that the Model 3 should have about average reliability," said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. Average may irritate Tesla fans and the nearly 500,000 people who have reserved a Model 3, but Fisher believes people should understand what Consumer Reports expects from the new car. "We don't go around recommending that people buy cars that are below average, so if it is average or better, that is not a bad thing at all," said Fisher. "But let's be very clear, we are not giving it super high marks. We are saying it is basically par for the course." Consumer Reports has yet to buy a Model 3 and put it through a battery of tests, as the magazine does for dozens of vehicles. In addition, so few Model 3 cars have been delivered that Fisher and his team have yet to get a sense of how owners feel about their new Tesla.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Canada's 'Super Secret Spy Agency' Is Releasing a Malware-Fighting Tool To the Public

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 1:40pm
Matthew Braga, reporting for CBC News: Canada's electronic spy agency says it is taking the "unprecedented step" of releasing one of its own cyber defence tools to the public, in a bid to help companies and organizations better defend their computers and networks against malicious threats. The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) rarely goes into detail about its activities -- both offensive and defensive -- and much of what is known about the agency's activities have come from leaked documents obtained by U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and published in recent years. But as of late, CSE has acknowledged it needs to do a better job of explaining to Canadians exactly what it does. Today, it is pulling back the curtain on an open-source malware analysis tool called Assemblyline that CSE says is used to protect the Canadian government's sprawling infrastructure each day. "It's a tool that helps our analysts know what to look at, because it's overwhelming for the number of people we have to be able to protect things," Scott Jones, who heads the agency's IT security efforts, said in an interview with CBC News. On the one hand, open sourcing Assemblyline's code is a savvy act of public relations, and Jones readily admits the agency is trying to shed its "super secret spy agency" reputation in the interest of greater transparency.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

“Blade Runner 2049” FX Spoiler Explained

Dark Horizons - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 1:25pm

A new feature in Entertainment Weekly has gone into a pivotal and top secret VFX heavy sequence within Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049,” a moment that calls back to the original in a fairly jaw dropping way.


The two-minute scene focuses on a brief appearance of a Replicant designed to look like Sean Young’s Rachael as she appeared in the 2019-set era of the original Ridley Scott film. Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor John Nelson was behind the visual effect which involved English actress Loren Peta, Young herself, and various digital filmmaking tricks.

Peta was cast and put in full makeup and hair to be shot alongside Harrison Ford during the film’s production. Young herself was on the set that day (her son worked on the film as a production assistant) as an advisor.

Much later, on a weekend in Budapest, both actresses were put in a facial motion-capture rig and filmed, with both women saying Rachael’s dialogue from the film. Then things were handed over to visual effects company MPC that worked on building Rachael’s face from model to skeleton to human. Everything from the neck up in the footage from that scene was replaced and rebuilt with CG.

During creation, close attention was paid to Young’s cheekbones, chin, eyes and head tilting in the original to make sure to capture her character’s mannerisms. Nelson is said to be very proud of the character’s hair: “Digital hair is really beautiful but sometimes it can be too perfect. So we made flyaway hair the way it would in real life.”

You can see some photos of the work done below:

Source: EW

The post “Blade Runner 2049” FX Spoiler Explained appeared first on Dark Horizons.

Butler: “Angel Has Fallen” Is Our “Logan”

Dark Horizons - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 1:22pm

Following “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen,” a third film in the R-rated Gerard Butler-led franchise is in the works titled “Angel Has Fallen”. Seemingly aware that it’s hard to go much bigger than tearing up a city, Butler says the next entry in the series will scale things back.

Speaking with Cinema Blend, the actor discussed reprising his role of Secret Service agent Mike Banning and says the more confined environment, this time with Banning trapped onboard Air Force One with terrorists, allows for a more character focused entry:

“You know, it’s fun to watch a city falling or the White House falling, and it’s fun to watch it again, and you go ‘what?’ The joke would be, ‘What’s next? Tokyo?’ OK. So let’s take it in another direction and go inner world, and it just feels a little more surprising. It was almost like Logan was to Wolverine, is our Angel Has Fallen was to the first two.”

Banning was effectively superhuman in the sequel, which probably won’t be the case in the new outing. Aaron Eckhart is not returning for the new chapter, though Morgan Freeman’s vice president will be back. “Angel Has Fallen” doesn’t currently have a release date.

Cinema Blend

The post Butler: “Angel Has Fallen” Is Our “Logan” appeared first on Dark Horizons.

Profile of William H. Alsup, a Judge Who Codes and Decides Tech's Biggest Cases

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 1:00pm
Sarah Jeong at The Verge has an interesting profile of William H. Alsup, the judge in Oracle v. Google case, who to many's surprise was able to comment on the technical issues that Oracle and Google were fighting about. Alsup admits that he learned the Java programming language only so that he could better understand the substance of the case. Here's an excerpt from the interview: On May 18th, 2012, attorneys for Oracle and Google were battling over nine lines of code in a hearing before Judge William H. Alsup of the northern district of California. The first jury trial in Oracle v. Google, the fight over whether Google had hijacked code from Oracle for its Android system, was wrapping up. The argument centered on a function called rangeCheck. Of all the lines of code that Oracle had tested -- 15 million in total -- these were the only ones that were "literally" copied. Every keystroke, a perfect duplicate. It was in Oracle's interest to play up the significance of rangeCheck as much as possible, and David Boies, Oracle's lawyer, began to argue that Google had copied rangeCheck so that it could take Android to market more quickly. Judge Alsup was not buying it. "I couldn't have told you the first thing about Java before this trial," said the judge. "But, I have done and still do a lot of programming myself in other languages. I have written blocks of code like rangeCheck a hundred times or more. I could do it. You could do it. It is so simple." It was an offhand comment that would snowball out of control, much to Alsup's chagrin. It was first repeated among lawyers and legal wonks, then by tech publications. With every repetition, Alsup's skill grew, until eventually he became "the judge who learned Java" -- Alsup the programmer, the black-robed nerd hero, the 10x judge, the "master of the court and of Java."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Doctors To Breathalyse Smokers Before Allowing Them NHS Surgery

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 12:20pm
Smokers in Hertfordshire, a county in southern England, are to be breathalysed to ensure they have kicked the habit before they are referred for non-urgent surgery. From a report, shared by several readers: Smokers will be breath-tested before they are considered for non-urgent surgery, two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have decided. Patients in Hertfordshire must stop smoking at least eight weeks before surgery or it may be delayed. Obese patients have also been told they must lose weight in order to have non-urgent surgery. The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) said the plan seemed to be "against the principles of the NHS (the publicly funded national healthcare system for England)." A joint committee of the Hertfordshire Valleys and the East and North Hertfordshire CCGs, which made the decisions, said they had to "make best use of the money and resources available." Patients with a body mass index (BMI) of over 40 must lose 15% of their weight and those with a BMI of over 30 must lose 10%, or reduce it to under a 40 BMI or a 30 BMI - whichever is the greater amount. The lifestyle changes to reduce weight must take place over nine months.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Battles Google for Renewable Energy Crown

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 11:40am
Readers share a report: Even in the age of coal enthusiast President Donald Trump, clean-energy developers are finding plenty of interest in wind and solar power from businesses with sustainability targets, especially technology companies. That was on display in a video tweeted Thursday by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, as he christened the 253-megawatt Amazon Wind Farm Texas in Scurry County. Amazon has bought more than 1.22 gigawatts of output to date from U.S. clean-energy projects, second only to Alphabet's Google, with 1.85 gigawatts. Corporations have agreed to buy 1.9 gigawatts of clean power in the U.S. this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and are on pace to match the 2.6 gigawatts signed last year.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Discovery of 50km Cave Raises Hopes For Human Colonisation of Moon

/. - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 11:00am
New submitter Zorro shares a report: Scientists have fantasised for centuries about humans colonising the moon. That day may have drawn a little closer after Japan's space agency said it had discovered an enormous cave beneath the lunar surface that could be turned into an exploration base for astronauts. The discovery, by Japan's Selenological and Engineering Explorer (Selene) probe, comes as several countries vie to follow the US in sending manned missions to the moon. Using a radar sounder system that can examine underground structures, the orbiter initially found an opening 50 metres wide and 50 metres deep, prompting speculation that there could be a larger hollow. This week scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) confirmed the presence of a cave after examining the hole using radio waves. The chasm, 50km (31 miles) long and 100 metres wide, appears to be structurally sound and its rocks may contain ice or water deposits that could be turned into fuel, according to data sent back by the orbiter, nicknamed Kaguya after the moon princess in a Japanese fairytale. Jaxa believes the cave, located from a few dozen metres to 200 metres beneath an area of volcanic domes known as the Marius Hills on the moon's near side, is a lava tube created during volcanic activity about 3.5bn years ago.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

“Star Wars: Episode IX” Wraps All Nine Films?

Dark Horizons - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 10:50am

Having kicked off the third ‘trilogy’ of the “Star Wars” universe, filmmaker J.J. Abrams is returning to close it out with “Star Wars: Episode IX”. In a new interview with the BBC, he reveals that the plan for the new film will be to take the franchise in a bit of a new direction.

The biggest criticism of Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is that it was essentially a remake of ‘A New Hope’. Asked by the British broadcaster about working on a franchise that has such impact, Abrams says:

“Well, it’s certainly something that I’m aware of now working on Episode IX – coming back into this world after having done Episode VII. I feel like we need to approach this with the same excitement that we had when we were kids, loving what these movies were. And at the same time, we have to take them places that they haven’t gone, and that’s sort of our responsibility. It’s a strange thing – Michael [Giacchino, composer] worked on things like Planet of the Apes and Star Trek and Star Wars, and these are the things of dreams. Yet we can’t just revel in that; we have to go elsewhere.”

Going into further detail, a Reddit post (via Star Wars News Net) from a fan who has photographic proof that he met both Abrams and the film’s screenwriter Chris Terrio and has revealed that the film will not only close out the sequel trilogy but will effectively wrap up the nine film saga with some big callbacks to the prequel trilogy:

“They said that they’re going to be brave and there will be big surprises. I got the impression that JJ felt like he had to refresh previous Star Wars moments for a modern audience in TFA, and now it feels like they have free reign to do what they want. Apparently they’ve had no interference from Kathleen or Pablo or the Lucasfilm Story Group. 9 is also the film which unites all three trilogies and brings everything together. That’s all they would tell me.

I worry a little bit that the questions I was asking were too leading. I was speaking to Chris and he was talking about the OT. I said about how I grew up with the PT and the prequels were my entry point into Star Wars. I asked about elements of the PT coming into 9 and Chris said about how 9 unites all of it. He said 9 definitely makes it feel like they’re all happening in the same universe, and there would be PT elements in 9. They could be visual or thematic – he didn’t overtly say that there would be returning planets or characters from the PT or anything.”

Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode IX” is currently targeting a May 2019 release.

The post “Star Wars: Episode IX” Wraps All Nine Films? appeared first on Dark Horizons.

Evans, Gad, Ridley Set For Superhero Comedy

Dark Horizons - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 10:45am

“Beauty and the Beast” scene stealers Luke Evans and Josh Gad are teaming with “Star Wars” star Daisy Ridley for a new and currently untitled comedy.

The trio are attached to a hot new script pitch from scribes Aaron & Jordan Kandell (“Moana,” “Adrift”) which is expected to land at a studio quickly.

The story is described as a character-driven comedy that takes an original spin on the superhero genre. No further specifics are available, or mention of a potential time frame for production.

Source: Deadline

The post Evans, Gad, Ridley Set For Superhero Comedy appeared first on Dark Horizons.

“Get Out,” “Florida,” “Call” Top Gotham Noms

Dark Horizons - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 10:44am

The 2017 Gotham Awards nominations were announced this morning, the first of the awards race for the year to be revealed, and “Get Out” came on top with four nominations followed by “Call Me By Your Name” and “The Florida Project” with three nominees each.

All three are up for the ‘Best Picture’ honor along with “Good Time” and “I, Tonya”. The last three Best Picture winners won the Best Feature at the Gotham Awards, but only six of their past fifteen nominees in that category earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

There were several notable snubs too with Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” and David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story” not scoring any nominations. Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was not eligible because of a foreign producer rule.

The 2017 Gotham Awards will be held on November 27th. The nominees are:

Best Feature
“Call Me by Your Name,” “The Florida Project,” “Get Out,” “Good Time,” “I, Tonya”

Best Documentary
“Ex Libris – The New York Public Library,” “Rat Film,” “Strong Island,” “Whose Streets?,” “The Work”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Maggie Betts for “Novitiate”
Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird”
Kogonada for “Columbus”
Jordan Peele for “Get Out”
Joshua Z Weinstein for “Menashe”

Best Screenplay
“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
“Brad’s Status,” Mike White
“Call Me by Your Name,” James Ivory
“Columbus,” Kogonada
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig

Best Actor
Willem Dafoe in “The Florida Project”
James Franco in “The Disaster Artist”
Daniel Kaluuya in “Get Out”
Robert Pattinson in “Good Time”
Adam Sandler in “The Meyerowitz Stories”
Harry Dean Stanton in “Lucky”

Best Actress
Melanie Lynskey in “I Don’t Feel at Home…”
Haley Lu Richardson in “Columbus”
Margot Robbie in “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan in “Lady Bird”
Lois Smith in “Marjorie Prime”

Breakthrough Actor
Mary J. Blige in “Mudbound”
Timothee Chalamet in “Call Me by Your Name”
Harris Dickinson in “Beach Rats”
Kelvin Harrison, Jr. in “It Comes at Night”
Brooklynn Prince in “The Florida Project”

Breakthrough Series – Long Form
“Atlanta,” “Better Things,” “Dear White People,” “Fleabag,” “Search Party”

The post “Get Out,” “Florida,” “Call” Top Gotham Noms appeared first on Dark Horizons.

“Pacific Rim: Aftermath” Comic Announced

Dark Horizons - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 10:42am

Legendary Comics has announced “Pacific Rim: Aftermath,” a six-part comic book prologue to next year’s film sequel “Pacific Rim: Uprising”.

The comic offers a closer look at Jake Pentecost, John Boyega’s character from the movie and the son of the character Idris Elba played in the first.

Set nine years after the original movie, and one year before ‘Uprising,’ this follows Jake as he searches for the truth behind the death of his father Stacker Pentecost.

It also introduces Griffin, a former Jaeger pilot who now works as an enforcer for a corrupt mob boss, as well as a mysterious criminal figure called the Mech Czar who rules the underworld with a steel fist.

The comic launches January 17th 2018 in comic stores and digitally, while the film hits in March.

Source: Heat Vision

The post “Pacific Rim: Aftermath” Comic Announced appeared first on Dark Horizons.

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