AI

AI Can Detect Sexual Orientation Based On Person's Photo (cnbc.com) 350

ugen shares a report from CNBC: Artificial Intelligence (AI) can now accurately identify a person's sexual orientation by analyzing photos of their face, according to new research. The Stanford University study, which is set to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and was first reported in The Economist, found that machines had a far superior "gaydar" when compared to humans. Slashdot reader randomlygeneratename adds: Researchers built classifiers trained on photos from dating websites to predict the sexual orientation of users. The best classifier used logistic regression over features extracted from a VGG-Face conv-net. The latter was done to prevent overfitting to background, non-facial information. Classical facial feature extraction also worked with a slight drop in accuracy. From multiple photos, they achieved an accuracy of 91% for men and 83% for women (and 81% / 71% for a single photo). Humans were only able to get 61% and 54%, respectively. One caveat is the paper mentions it only used Caucasian faces. The paper went on to discuss how this capability can be an invasion of privacy, and conjectured that other types of personal information might be detectable from photos. The source paper can be found here.
Power

India Aims To Put One Million Electric Vehicles On the Road By Mid-2019 (indiatimes.com) 76

gubol123 shares a report from The Economic Times: Six leading car makers are eyeing the government's plan to buy 10,000 electric vehicles while policy makers are considering generous fiscal incentives to make their capital and running cost cheaper than petrol cars within five years. Broadly, the aim is to put on roads one million electric three-wheelers and 10,000 electric city buses by mid-2019 and make India the world leader in at least some segments of the market as the country strives to shift entirely to battery-powered transportation by 2030. In six to eight months, 10,000 e-vehicles are expected to be running in the national capital region. The tender to buy 10,000 e-vehicles has already attracted Tata Motors, Hyundai, Nissan, Renault, Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra & Mahindra, and would be quickly followed by a dramatic scaling up of the e-vehicles program. The tender would be awarded by the end of this month and cars would start rolling in by mid-November.
Android

Galaxy Note 8 Sets New Pre-Order Record For Samsung Despite Last Year's Disaster (theverge.com) 39

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The Note brand is still going strong despite Samsung recalling and discontinuing Note 7 devices last year for battery explosions. The company today announced that more customers in the U.S. have preordered the Note 8 than any other Notes it has ever sold in previous years during the same time period. Note 8 preorders went live on August 24th and the device is one of Samsung's most expensive smartphones to date, starting at $930. It's unapologetically pricey, though Samsung did attempt to offset that price tag with some presale offers. Samsung did not specify exactly how many Note 8 preorders it has received so far, but judging by how popular Note 7s were last year before everything went down, it seems that little has deterred Note fans from upgrading -- not even the price tag.
Earth

UN Aviation Agency To Call For Global Drone Registry (reuters.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The United Nations' aviation agency is backing the creation of a single global drone registry, as part of broader efforts to come up with common rules for flying and tracking unmanned aircraft. While the International Civil Aviation Organization cannot impose regulations on countries, ICAO has proposed formation of the registry during a Montreal symposium this month to make data accessible in real time, said Stephen Creamer, director of ICAO's air navigation bureau. The single registry would eschew multiple databases in favor of a one-stop-shop that would allow law enforcement to remotely identify and track unmanned aircraft, along with their operator and owner. It's not yet clear who would operate such a database, although ICAO could possibly fill that role. The proposal, however, could face push back from users, after hobbyists successfully challenged the creation of a U.S. drone registry by the Federal Aviation Administration in court earlier this year.
Desktops (Apple)

The Google Drive App For PC, Mac Is Being Shut Down In March (theverge.com) 92

Google announced in a blog post today that the Google Drive app for desktop will be shut down. The Verge reports: Support will be cut off on December 11th and the app will shut down completely on March 12th, 2018. Users who are still running the Drive app will start seeing notifications in October that it's "going away," and the company will steer customers towards one of two replacements depending on whether they're a consumer or business user. Google Drive the service isn't going anywhere. You can still access it from the web, smartphone apps, and either of the software options mentioned below. Google now has two fairly new software tools for backing up your data and/or accessing files in the cloud. There's Backup and Sync, the all-encompassing consumer app that replaces both the standalone Google Drive and Google Photos Uploader apps. It offers essentially the same functionality as Drive and works much the same way. And on the enterprise side, Google has rolled out Drive File Streamer, which saves space on your local drive while providing access to "all of your Google Drive files on demand, directly from your computer."
Businesses

iPhone's Summer Production Glitches Create Holiday Jitters (wsj.com) 48

Yoko Kubota, Tripp Mickle, and Takashi Mochizuki, reporting for WSJ: Apple's new iPhone, which is expected to be unveiled Tuesday, was plagued by production glitches early in the manufacturing process this summer, according to people familiar with the situation, which could result in extended supply shortfalls and shipping delays when customers start ordering the device later this month (alternative source). New iPhones are typically in short supply when first released. But if shortfalls of the new phone extend beyond the initial sales period, which is expected to begin September 22, they could weaken analysts' and investors' projections for sales in the crucial holiday period. The production glitches led to a setback of about a month in the manufacturing timetable. Foxconn, the Apple contractor that assembles iPhones, has been ramping up production at its manufacturing complex in Zhengzhou, China. The company is paying bonuses to employees who can help bring new hires on board at its Zhengzhou plant, which Foxconn said in June employs about 250,000 people.
Google

Google Drive Faces Outage, Users Report [Update] (google.com) 75

Numerous Slashdot readers are reporting that they are facing issues access Google Drive, the productivity suite from the Mountain View-based company. Google's dashboard confirms that Drive is facing outage. Third-party web monitoring tool DownDetector also reports thousands of similar complaints from users. The company said, "Google Drive service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change. Google Drive is not loading files and results in a failures for a subset of users."

Update: 09/07 17:13 GMT: Google says it has resolved the issue.
Transportation

Google's Street View Cars Are Now Giant, Mobile 3D Scanners (arstechnica.com) 42

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google's got a hot new ride. The company has a new Street View car with updated cameras, and -- surprisingly -- a set of Lidar (Light, Detection and Ranging) cans! Google doesn't have anything up officially about this, but Wired has the scoop on the new vehicles. The camera system upgrade -- the first in eight years -- greatly improves the image quality while simplifying the rig. In the main ball, Google is down from 15 cameras to seven, making the whole package a lot smaller. These 20MP cameras are aimed all around the car, and the pictures they take are stitched together into a spherical image for Google Maps. There's more to the cars than just the ball though: there are also a pair of "HD" cameras that face directly left and right. These are dedicated to reading street signs, business names, and even posted store hours; those images are funneled to Google's cloud computers for visual processing. The end result of the new cameras will be prettier Street View shots, with higher resolution, better colors, and fewer stitching errors. The better images should also result in more data for Google's various visual feature-detection algorithms.

Wired's report focuses almost entirely on the new cameras, but I think the the most interesting additions are the two LIDAR pucks that hang just below the camera ball. These are the ubiquitous Velodyne VLP-16 "Puck" sensors, allowing the to car "see" in 3D in 360 degrees. These $8,000 Lidar sensors are most commonly used in autonomous car prototypes, so to see them on a Street View car is unexpected. Don't expect the Street View cars to start driving themselves anytime soon -- as Google Street View's Technical Program Manager Steve Silverman says in Wired's video, the Lidar sensors "are used to position us in the world."

Power

Hackers Have Penetrated Energy Grid, Symantec Warns (fortune.com) 69

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Hackers have been burrowing their way inside the critical infrastructure of energy and other companies in the U.S. and elsewhere, warns cybersecurity giant Symantec. In a new report, Symantec claims that the threat of cyberattack-induced power outages in the west has elevated from a theoretical concern to a legitimate one in recent months. "We're talking about activity we're seeing on actual operational networks that control the actual power grid," Eric Chien, technical director of security technology and response at Symantec, told Fortune on a call. Reports surfaced over the summer of hackers targeting staff at nuclear energy facilities with phishing attacks, designed to steal login credentials or install malware on machines. The extent of the campaign as well as the question of whether the attackers had breached operational IT networks, rather than merely administrative ones, was unclear at the time. Symantec is now erasing all doubt. "There are no more technical hurdles for them to cause some sort of disruption," Chien said of the hackers. "All that's left is really motivation." Symantec detailed its findings in a report released Wednesday morning. The paper tracks the exploits of a hacker group that Symantec has dubbed DragonFly 2.0, an outfit that the company says it has linked to an earlier series of attacks perpetrated between 2011 and 2014 by a group it dubbed DragonFly.
Hardware

Researchers Find New Way To Build Quantum Computers (reuters.com) 53

An anonymous reader shares a report: Researchers in Australia have found a new way to build quantum computers which they say would make them dramatically easier and cheaper to produce at scale. Quantum computers promise to harness the strange ability of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state at a time to solve problems that are too complex or time-consuming for existing computers. The team from the University of New South Wales say they have invented a new chip design based on a new type of quantum bit, the basic unit of information in a quantum computer, known as a qubit. The new design would allow for a silicon quantum processor to overcome two limitations of existing designs: the need for atoms to be placed precisely, and allowing them to be placed further apart and still be coupled. Crucially, says project leader Andrea Mello, this so-called "flip-flop qubit" means the chips can be produced using the same device technology as existing computer chips.
Android

TrustZone Downgrade Attack Opens Android Devices To Old Vulnerabilities (bleepingcomputer.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bleeping Computer: An attacker can downgrade components of the Android TrustZone technology -- a secure section of smartphone CPUs -- to older versions that feature known vulnerabilities. The attacker can then use previously published exploit code to attack up-to-date Android OS versions. The research team proved their attack in tests on devices running the ARM TrustZone technology, such as Samsung Galaxy S7, Huawei Mate 9, Google Nexus 5, and Google Nexus 6. They replaced updated versions of the Widevine trustlet with an older version that was vulnerable to CVE-2015-6639, a vulnerability in Android's Qualcomm Secure Execution Environment (QSEE) -- Qualcomm's name for its ARM TrustZone version that runs on Qualcomm chips. This vulnerability allows attackers root level access to the TrustZone OS, which indirectly grants the attack control over the entire phone. The research paper is available here, and one of the researcher's authors explains the attack chain in an interview here.
IBM

Lenovo Looks To Commemorate 25th Anniversary of IBM's Notebook Brand With Thinkpad 25 (theregister.co.uk) 132

New submitter Provocateur writes: Lenovo will be marking the 25th anniversary of IBM's well known notebook with the Thinkpad 25. Andrew Orlowski writes via The Register: "The long-awaited 'retro' Thinkpad will be based on the guts of a contemporary T470 laptop, Lenovo's business workhorse, according to a German certification site. Lenovo inherited IBM's notebook brand 12 years ago, and with it a design classic. However, in 2012 Lenovo saw fit to 'modernize' the iconic keyboard, along with other unwelcome changes. This didn't meet with approval from some stalwarts, who clung to the superior X220 and T420 lines, the last that you could buy with the 7 row QWERTY. Two years ago Lenovo's design chief Dave Hill acknowledged that some people 'would stand in line' for the classic version. In June, Hill confirmed that for the Thinkpad's 25th anniversary this year a retro edition would indeed be produced, which Hill promised 'will embody many of the things people asked for.'

The German certification site has found the 'Thinkpad 25' variant described as a Thinkpad T470 here (hat-tip to NoteBook Check). A Chinese notebook forum has a picture purporting to be the Thinkpad 25."

Iphone

How One Writer Is Battling Tech-Induced Attention Disorder (wired.com) 195

New submitter mirandakatz writes: Katie Hafner has spent the last 23 days in rehab. Not for alcoholism or gambling, but for a self-inflicted case of episodic partial attention thanks to her iPhone. On Backchannel, Hafner writes about the detrimental effect the constant stream of pings has had on her, and how her life has come to resemble a computer screen. "I sense a constant agitation when I'm doing something," she says, "as if there is something else out there, beckoning -- demanding -- my attention. And nothing needs to be deferred." "I blame electronics for my affliction," writes Hafner, who says the devices in her life "teem with squirrels." "If I pick up my iPhone to send a text, damned if I don't get knocked off task within a couple of seconds by an alert about Trump's latest tweet. And my guess is that if you have allowed your mind to be as tyrannized by the demands of your devices as I have, you too suffer to some degree from this condition."

Hafner goes on to describe her symptoms of "episodic partial attention" and provide potential fixes for it: "There are the obvious fixes. Address the electronics first: Silence the phone as well as all alerts on your computer, and you automatically banish two squirrels. But how do you shut down the micro-distractions that dangle everywhere in your physical world, their bushy gray tails twitching seductively? My therapy, of my own devising, consists of serial mono-tasking with a big dose of mindful intent, or intentional mindfulness -- which is really just good, old-fashioned paying attention. At first, I took the tiniest of steps. I celebrated the buttoning of a blouse without stopping to apply the hand cream I spotted on the dresser as if I had gotten into Harvard. Each task I took on -- however mundane -- I had to first announce, quietly, to myself. I made myself vow that I would work on that task and only that task until it was finished. Like a stroke patient relearning how to move an arm, I told myself not that I was making the entire bed (too overwhelming), but that I had a series of steps to perform: first the top sheet, then the blankets, then the comforter, then the pillows. Emptying the dishwasher became my Waterloo. Putting dishes away takes time, and it's tedious. Perhaps the greatest challenge lies in the fact that the job requires repeated kitchen crossings. There are squirrels everywhere, none more treacherous than the siren song that is my iPhone."
Businesses

Only 13 Percent of Americans Are Scared Robots Will Take Their Jobs, Gallup Poll Shows (cnbc.com) 267

According to the results of a Gallup poll released mid-August, most employed U.S. adults aren't too worried about technology eliminating their jobs. Only 13 percent of Americans are fearful that tech will eradicate their work opportunities in the near future, according to the poll. Workers are relatively more concerned about immediate issues like wages and benefits. CNBC reports: This corresponds with another recent Gallup survey finding that about one in eight workers, or 13 percent of Americans, also believe it's likely they will lose their jobs due to new technology, automation, robots or AI in the next five years. While the survey reflects a generally confident American workforce, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi tells CNBC Make It that people should not become complacent.

"Employees need to think of themselves as replaceable in a way that propels them into action," Salemi says, "so they can focus on continuously learning and sharpening their skills." In the meantime, Americans can look to what the tech giants are saying. On the contrary, Salemi emphasizes that Americans shouldn't be paranoid and lose sleep every night. Rather, they should think about AI "from a place of power." "If your job does start to get automated, you'll already have a game plan and solid skill set to back you up for your next career move," she says. If you find yourself in the 13 percent of Americans worried about losing their jobs to robots, Salemi says you can "robot-proof" your job through networking. "Always be on top of your game, she says. "If your industry is becoming more digitally focused, get schooled on specific skills. Instead of being lax about your career, always stay ahead of the curve, keep your resume in circulation, ask yourself where the industry is headed and most importantly where you and your skills fit in."

Microsoft

Microsoft Extends Free Windows 10 S-To-Pro Upgrade Deadline (betanews.com) 93

BrianFagioli shares a report from BetaNews: Windows 10 S is a really great idea in theory. By limiting the operating system to applications from the Windows Store, it could make users safer. After all, it should limit the potential of malware since users can't download and install questionable things from the web. Of course, this will only be successful if there is a good library of apps, and I am sorry to say, the Windows Store is a failure in that regard. The biggest selling point for Windows is legacy program compatibility. Once you take that away, there isn't much left. Thankfully, the company is giving complimentary upgrades from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro until the end of 2017. This will allow a person or organization to easily recover from mistakenly buying into Windows 10 S if it doesn't meet their needs. Today, however, as a sign of weakness, Microsoft extends this deadline. Buried at the end of a blog post about Surface Laptop colors, Microsoft drops the following bombshell: "For those that find they need an application that isn't yet available in the Store and must be installed from another source, we're extending the ability to switch from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro for free until March 31, 2018. We hope this provides increased flexibility for those people searching for the perfect back-to-school or holiday gift." Why do I say this is a sign of weakness? Well, if the Windows 10 S experiment was going well, Microsoft would have no need to extend the deadline. In other words, if users were truly buying into and enjoying the "S" experience, we wouldn't see such an announcement. The fact that the company seemingly tried to hide this news is quite telling too. Ultimately, it signals a lack of confidence in Windows 10 S.
Businesses

Power Company Kills Nuclear Plant, Plans $6 Billion In Solar, Battery Investment (arstechnica.com) 390

Socguy writes: After being unable to complete the Levy County Nuclear Plant a few years ago, Duke energy abandoned it, leaving rate payers on the hook. Duke is now in the process of settling legal action as a result. As part of the settlement Duke will construct or acquire 700MW of solar capacity over four years in the western Florida area, construct 50MW of battery storage, undertake grid modernizations and install 530 electric car charging stations. "The Levy nuclear plant was proposed in 2008 and ran into hurdles early on," reports Ars Technica. "With cheap natural gas in 2013, Duke Energy Florida became nervous that it might not recuperate costs spent on the nuclear plant, especially with regulatory delays. The company cancelled its engineering and construction agreements in 2013 but said that it was holding open the possibility of returning to Levy someday. Over nine years, about $800 million had been spent on preparatory work for the plant. With Tuesday's announcement, those costs are sunk costs now. But overall, the changes will save residential customers future nuclear-related rate increases. Those customers will see a cost reduction of $2.50 per megawatt-hour (MWh) 'through the removal of unrecovered Levy Nuclear Project costs,' the utility said. The 700MW of solar won't exactly cover the nameplate capacity of the Levy plant, which was supposed to deliver 2.2 gigawatts to the region. But the Tampa Bay Times wrote that Duke 'is effectively giving up its long-held belief that nuclear power is a key component to its Florida future and, instead, making a dramatic shift toward more solar power.'"
Operating Systems

Is Apple Copying Palm's WebOS? (salon.com) 188

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Salon: Released in 2009 by Palm -- the same company that popularized the PDA in the 1990s -- WebOS pioneered a number of innovations, including multiple synchronized calendars, unified social media and contact management, curved displays, wireless charging, integrated text and Web messaging, and unintrusive notifications [that have all been copied by the mobile operating systems that defeated it on the marketplace]. The operating system, built on top of a Linux kernel, was also legendary for how easily it could be upgraded by users with programming skills. WebOS was also special in that it used native internet technologies like JavaScript for local applications. That was a huge part of why it was able to do so much integration with Web services, something its competitors at the time simply couldn't match.

Apple's upcoming iOS 11 once again demonstrates how far ahead of its time WebOS really was. The yet-to-be-released Apple mobile system has essentially copied the WebOS model for switching apps by having the user swipe upward from the bottom to reveal several "cards" that represent background applications. While Apple's decision to remove its massively overworked Home button is an improvement, it is still an inferior way of switching apps, compared to what you could do on WebOS eight years ago.

Operating Systems

ReactOS 0.4.6 Released (osnews.com) 97

OS News reports that the latest version of ReactOS has been released: 0.4.6 is a major step towards real hardware support. Several dual boot issues have been fixed and now partitions are managed in a safer way avoiding corruption of the partition list structures. ReactOS Loader can now load custom kernels and HALs. Printing Subsystem is still greenish in 0.4.6, however Colin Finck has implemented a huge number of new APIs and fixed some of the bugs reported and detected by the ReactOS automated tests. Regarding drivers, Pierre Schweitzer has added an NFS driver and started implementing RDBSS and RXCE, needed to enable SMB support in the future, Sylvain Petreolle has imported a Digital TV tuning device driver and the UDFS driver has been re-enabled in 0.4.6 after fixing several deadlocks and issues which was making it previously unusable. Critical bugs and leakages in CDFS, SCSI and HDAUDBUS have been also fixed. General notes, tests, and changelog for the release can be found at their respective links. A less technical community changelog for ReactOS 0.4.6 is also available. ISO images are ready at the ReactOS Download page.
AI

Huawei Unveils AI Mobile Chipset Said To Rival A11 Processor In Upcoming iPhones (macrumors.com) 77

On Saturday, Chinese mobile maker Huawei unveiled its first artificial intelligence smartphone chipset, which it hopes will lure customers away from Apple's upcoming range of new iPhones and towards the Asian company's "most powerful handset yet," the Mate 10, which is set to debut next month. Mac Rumors reports: Huawei touted the Kirin 970 AI mobile chipset's built-in "neural processing unit" at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin, claiming that the technology is "20 times faster" than a traditional processor. The world's third largest smartphone maker claimed that mobile devices powered by the Kirin 970 will be able to "truly know and understand their users," by supporting real-time image recognition, voice interaction, and intelligent photography with ease. According to Nikkei, the Kirin 970 integrates 5.5 billion transistors in a single square centimeter about the size of a thumbnail, which includes an octa-core central processing unit, a 12-core graphics processing unit, a dual-image signal processor, a high-speed 1.2Gbps Cat.18 modem, and AI mobile computing architecture. The Kirin 970 is said to be based on the same 10-nanometer technology as Apple's existing A10X Fusion processor and the A11 processor that will power its new iPhone range, set to debut this month. The Mate 10 is said to be a bezel-less all-screen handset with a 6-inch, 2:1 display and a 2,160 x 1,080 resolution. Like Apple's so-called "iPhone 8," the Mate 10 is also expected to feature some form of facial recognition and improved cameras.
Earth

The Solar Eclipse of 2017 Destroyed Lots of Rental Camera Gear (petapixel.com) 140

Despite numerous warnings sent out to renters, a number of LensRental's camera equipment came back damaged and destroyed from the solar eclipse of 2017. PetaPixel provides pictures in a report that shows some of the damage. One photo, for example, "shows a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens that had its aperture blades partially melted by the sun during the eclipse," while another shows a Canon 7D Mark II shutter being burned so bad that "the heat went past it and damaged the sensor behind it as well." LensRentals, one of the leading camera rental companies, writes about the destruction in a blog post on their website: The most common problem we've encountered with damage done by the eclipse was sensors being destroyed by the heat. We warned everyone in a blog post to buy a solar filter for your lens, and also sent out mass emails and fliers explaining what you need to adequately protect the equipment. But not everyone follows the rules, and as a result, we have quite a few destroyed sensors. To my personal surprise, this damage was far more visually apparent than I even expected, and the photos below really make it visible.

The images above are likely created because people were shooting in Live View mode, allowing them to compose the image using the back of their screen, instead of risking damage to their eyes by looking through the viewfinder. However, those who didn't use live view (and hopefully guess and checked instead of staring through the viewfinder), were more likely to face damage to their camera's mirror. While this damage was far rarer, we did get one particular camera with a damaged mirror box caused by the sun.

Earth

Finland To Introduce Law Next Year Phasing Out Coal (reuters.com) 176

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Finland will introduce legislation next year to phase out coal and increase carbon taxes, a top government official told Reuters, which would require the country to find alternative energy sources to keep its power system stable. Coal produces roughly 10 percent of the energy consumed by Finland, which is the Nordics' heaviest coal consumer and burned about 4.1 million tons of oil equivalent in 2016. "This strategy has a goal of getting rid of coal as an energy source by 2030 [...] We have to write a law [...] and that will be next year," Riku Huttunen, director general in Finland's energy department, said. The law will, however, leave "room for manoeuvre" to ensure security of supply, he said, meaning coal-fired power plants could still be available to avoid the risk of blackouts. Finland is increasing its nuclear capacity, which could replace coal. But that may not be sufficient, a Nordic power trader said, as Finland will receive less nuclear power from neighboring Sweden, which is phasing out two reactors. Helsinki is raising its nuclear power capacity to reduce dependency on Russian energy imports. Two new reactors, Olkiluoto 3 and Hanhikivi 1, are due to go online in 2018 and 2024, respectively.
AT&T

AT&T Uverse Modems Found To Have Several Serious Security Vulnerabilities (threatpost.com) 75

dustman81 writes: AT&T Uverse modems were found to have several serious vulnerabilities, including a superuser account with hardcoded username/password exposed to the internet via SSH, a HTTP server with little authentication which allows command injection, and an internet exposed service which exposes internal clients to external attacks. Information security consulting and software development firm Nomotion reports the findings in their blog: "It was found that the latest firmware update (9.2.2h0d83) for the NVG589 and NVG599 modems enabled SSH and contained hardcoded credentials which can be used to gain access to the modem's 'cshell' client over SSH. The cshell is a limited menu driven shell which is capable of viewing/changing the WiFi SSID/password, modifying the network setup, re-flashing the firmware from a file served by any tftp server on the internet, and even controlling what appears to be a kernel module whose sole purpose seems to be to inject advertisements into the user's unencrypted web traffic. Although no clear evidence was found suggesting that this module is actually being used currently, it is present, and vulnerable. Aside from the most dangerous items listed above, the cshell application is also capable of many other privileged actions. The username for this access is remotessh and the password is 5SaP9I26." The report continues to detail the other vulnerabilities: Default credentials 'caserver' https server NVG599; Command injection 'caserver' https server NVG599; Information disclosure/hardcoded credentials; and Firewall bypass no authentication.

Further reading: FierceTelecom; The Register

Displays

Sharp Announces 8K Consumer TVs Now That We All Have 4K (theverge.com) 285

Thuy Ong reports via The Verge: Now that you've upgraded to a shiny new 4K TV, Sharp has revealed its latest screen to stoke your fear of missing out: a 70-inch Aquos 8K TV. That 8K (7,680 x 4,320) resolution is 16 times that of your old Full HD (1920 x 1080) TV. Sharp calls it "ultimate reality, with ultra-fine details even the naked eye cannot capture," which doesn't seem like a very good selling point. Keep in mind that having a screen with more pixels doesn't buy you much after a certain point, because those pixels are invisible from a distance -- while an 8K panel would be beneficial as a monitor, where you're sitting close, it won't buy you much when leaning back on the couch watching TV. HDR, however, is something else entirely, and fortunately, Sharp's new 8K set is compatible with Dolby Vision HDR and BDA-HDR (for Blu-ray players). The lack of available 8K HDR content is also a problem. But there is some content floating around. The TV will be rolling out to China and Japan later this year, and then Taiwan in February 2018. Sharp is repurposing its 70-inch 8K TV as an 8K monitor (model LV-70X500E) for Europe, which will be on sale in March. There is no news about a U.S. release.
Communications

Germany Unveils World's Most Powerful X-Ray Laser (theguardian.com) 49

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The world's most powerful X-ray laser has begun operating at a facility where scientists will attempt to recreate the conditions deep inside the sun and produce film-like sequences of viruses and cells. The machine, called the European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL), acts as a high-speed camera that can capture images of individual atoms in a few millionths of a billionth of a second. Unlike a conventional camera, though, everything imaged by the X-ray laser is obliterated -- its beam is 100 times more intense than if all the sunlight hitting the Earth's surface were focused onto a single thumbnail. The facility near Hamburg, housed in a series of tunnels up to 38 meters underground, will allow scientists to explore the architecture of viruses and cells, create jittery films of chemical reactions as they unfold and replicate conditions deep within stars and planets.

XFEL is the world's third major X-ray laser facility -- projects in Japan and the U.S. have already spawned major advances in structural biology and materials science. The European beam is more powerful, but most significantly has a far higher pulse rate than either of its predecessors. "They can send 100 pulses out per second, we can send 27,000," said Robert Feidenhan'l, chairman of the European XFEL management board. This matters because to study chemical reactions or biological processes, the X-ray strobe is used to capture flickering snapshots of the same system at different time-points that can be stitched together into a film sequence.

Cellphones

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Navigate Your Smartphone? 66

There are many different ways to navigate a smartphone. Some devices employ capacitive touch navigation buttons in favor of on-screen navigation buttons for the back, home and overview commands. Others, such as the recently released Moto Z2 Force and Moto Z2 Play, feature a mini trackpad under the display that lets users navigate their device through a series of swipes (on-screen navigation buttons are used by default, but the option to use the "one button nav" mini trackpad can be enabled in the settings). The upcoming iPhone 8, for example, may feature a software bar in lieu of a physical/virtual home button, introducing new gesture controls for returning to the home screen and switching between apps.

How do you navigate your smartphone? Given the many different options available on the market, do you think there is one method of navigation that trumps the others, or is it a classic case of "different strokes for different folks?"
Communications

New Qualcomm Auto Chipset Advances Vehicle-To-Everything Communications (zdnet.com) 24

Qualcomm has introduced a new Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) chipset and reference design that aims to bring automakers one step closer to deploying the communications systems necessary for fully autonomous vehicles. Ford, Audi, the PSA Group and SAIC are all endorsing the new chipset. ZDNet reports: The Qualcomm 9150 C-V2X chipset, expected to be available for commercial sampling in the second half of 2018, is based on specs from the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a collaboration between groups of telecommunications associations. Meanwhile, Qualcomm's C-V2X reference design will feature the 9150 C-V2X chipset, an application processor running the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) V2X stack, as well as a Hardware Security Module (HSM). C-V2X technology encompasses two transmission modes: direct communications and network-based communications. It's key for both safety features and for implementing autonomous driving capabilities.

For instance, its direct communications capabilities improve a vehicle's situational awareness by detecting and exchanging information using low latency transmissions. Relying on the globally harmonized 5.9 GHz ITS band, the 9150 C-V2X chipset can relay information on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) scenarios without the need for a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM), cellular subscription or network assistance. On top of that, C-V2X network-based communications (designed for 4G and emerging 5G wireless networks) supports telematics, connected infotainment and a growing number of advanced informational safety use cases.

Data Storage

SanDisk Breaks Storage Record With 400GB MicroSD Card (extremetech.com) 70

SanDisk has managed to cram 400GB into a microSD card, making it the largest microSD card currently on the market. The company said the capacity breakthrough was the result of Western Digital, the company that owns SanDisk, "leveraging its proprietary memory technology and design and production processes that allow for more bits per die." The nitty-gritty details weren't revealed beyond that. ExtremeTech reports: The speed appears to come with a tradeoff. SanDisk trumpets its A1 speed rating, saying: "Rated A1, the SanDisk Ultra microSD card is optimized for apps, delivering faster app launch and performance that provides a better smartphone experience." This is a generous reading of the A1's target performance specification. Last year, the SD Association released a report discussing the App Performance Class memory card specification and why the spec was created in the first place. When Android added support for running applications from an SD card, there was a need to make certain the cards people bought would be quick enough to run apps in the first place. The A1 is rated for 1500 read and 500 write IOPS, with a sequential transfer speed of 10MB/s.

This SanDisk drive should run applications just fine. SanDisk claims it can be used for recording video, not just storing it. But it's not going to be fast enough for 4K data; Class 10 devices are limited to 10MB/s of sequential write performance. Obviously not all phones support shooting in 4K anyway, so whether this is a limitation will depend on what device you plan to plug it into. The 100MB/s speed trumpeted by Western Digital is a reference to read speeds; write speeds are lower and likely closer to the 10MB/s sequential target mentioned above. The microSD card is expected to retail for $250.

Android

LG Announces V30 Smartphone With 'FullVision' OLED Display, Dual Cameras (phonedog.com) 45

At a press conference in Berlin, LG announced their newest flagship smartphone, the LG V30. The V30 doesn't feature a removable battery or a secondary display like its predecessor, but it does feature faster performance and a significantly redesigned build construction that puts in more in line with Samsung and Apple's offerings. PhoneDog reports: A bigger device with beefier specs, the LG's V series took more design cues from the G series this year more than ever. As expected, LG got rid of the secondary display in favor of a single 6-inch LG P-OLED display (not Super AMOLED, although practically the same with rich black and vibrant colors). The V30 switches out its secondary display for slimmer bezels, which may prove to be a smart move considering how popular the concept is this year. Specs look pretty solid, although there were reports that the device would feature 6GB of RAM rather than 4GB. The bread and butter of the V30 are its sophisticated audio and its dual rear camera set-up. Speaking of the back of the device, another small advantage that LG may have over the competition is the center placement of its rear fingerprint sensor, which has been a bit of a pain point for Samsung this year with the S8 and the Note 8. The LG V30 is set to release on September 21 in South Korea, with releases in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe following shortly after. LG also has yet to announce a price for the V30, although rumors peg it to be around 800,000 KRW in South Korea (which equates to about $699 in the U.S.). For those interested, GSMArena has a full spec sheet available for the LG V30. Some of the noteworthy specs include a 6-inch LG P-OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio and QHD (1440 x 2880) resolution, Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB RAM, dual 16-megapixel/13-megapixel rear-facing camera sensors, headphone jack, 32-bit/192kHz audio, wireless charging and Android 7.1.2 Nougat.
AMD

AMD Releases Ryzen PRO Processors Worldwide, 8-Core Ryzen Threadripper 1900X (techradar.com) 94

Today, AMD announced the global release and broad adoption of AMD Ryzen Pro desktop processors. At its launch event in New York City, the company touted three main pillars that define these chipsets: reliability, security, and performance. They support features like Trusted Platform Module 2.0, which integrates secure microcontrollers into devices, GuardMI technology, which enables silicon-level security to help protect against threats, and SenseMI technology, which consists of a collection of smart features that aims to fine-tune performance for most responsive applications. For the first time, AMD has partnered with the top three PC OEMs: HP, Dell and Lenovo. Brad Chacos for PCWorld provides a "rundown of the commercial-focused Ryzen Pro systems that are coming down the pipeline, straight from AMD":

-Dell Optiplex 5055 desktop PCs are expected to ship in the coming weeks.
-HP EliteDesk 705 desktop PCs are expected to ship in the coming weeks.
-Lenovo ThinkCentre M715 desktop PCs are expected to ship in the coming weeks.
-Lenovo ThinkPad A475 and A275 notebook PCs are expected in Q4 2017.
-Ryzen PRO mobile processors are scheduled for launch in the first half of 2018.

The global launch of the Ryzen Pro processors is not the only bit of news AMD announced. The company also announced the release of a new budget Threadripper 1900X model. From a report via TechRadar: AMD has released its 8-core Ryzen Threadripper 1900X processor, offering people who were put off by high price of the flagship 16-core Threadripper 1950X a chance to build a PC with all of the advanced Threadripper features for almost half the cash. As we expected, the Threadripper 1900X will come with eight cores clocked at 3.8GHz, with a turbo that reaches 4.0GHz (and an XFR boost to 4.2GHz), and will cost $549 -- almost half the Threadripper 1950X's $999 asking price, and a fair bit cheaper than the mid-range Threadripper 1920X, which costs $799. In fact, the price is within touching distance of the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X, which comes with eight cores and 16 threads, and costs $499.
Power

Cummins Unveils Electric Semi Truck Before Tesla (autoblog.com) 264

Cummins has beat Tesla to the punch by unveiling its own electric semi truck. According to Forbes, the fully electric, class 7 day-cab urban hauler, called Aeos, gets 100 miles of range from its 140-kWh battery pack and can haul a 22-ton trailer. While the company does offer the options of additional battery packs to triple the range or a range-extending engine generator, the Aeos is better suited for city use rather than long-haul trucking. Autoblog reports: While this electric truck is a concept, it's a working demonstration of a product Cummins plans to start producing in 2019. At the unveiling in Columbus, Ind., Cummins also revealed its latest near-zero-emissions natural gas engines, as well as the X15 and lightweight X12 clean diesel engines. The company said it is embracing new technologies that allow its customers to contribute to a sustainable future.
Robotics

New T-Shirt Sewing Robot Can Make As Many Shirts Per Hour As 17 Factory Workers (qz.com) 409

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: In 2015, after years of research, SoftWear Automation introduced LOWRY, a sewing robot, or sewbot, that uses machine vision to spot and adjust to distortions in the fabric. Though initially only able to make simple products, such as bath mats, the technology is now advanced enough to make whole t-shirts and much of a pair of jeans. According to the company, it also does it far faster than a human sewing line. SoftWear Automation's big selling point is that one of its robotic sewing lines can replace a conventional line of 10 workers and produce about 1,142 t-shirts in an eight-hour period, compared to just 669 for the human sewing line. Another way to look at it is that the robot, working under the guidance of a single human handler, can make as many shirts per hour as about 17 humans. The company has emerged as a leader among those trying to automate sewing, drawing the interest of businesses that make home goods and of course clothing manufacturers, including Tianyuan Garments Company, a Chinese firm that produces for brands such as Adidas and Armani. Tianyuan Garments has invested $20 million in a 100,000-square foot factory in Little Rock, Arkansas, planned to open in 2018. The factory will be staffed with 21 robotic production lines supplied by SoftWear Automation, and will be capable of making 1.2 million t-shirts a year.
Google

Google Assistant Coming Soon To More Speakers, Appliances and Other Devices (techcrunch.com) 50

Google announced today several new third-party speakers that will support the Assistant. Their blog post is a follow-up to a post in May where they announced the general availability of the Google Assistant SDK, which lets anyone download and run the Google Assistant on the gadget of their choice. TechCrunch reports: That's likely to be good for both the voice-powered assistant market, as well as for Google's ability to use its service to collect useful data which it can then use to work on its advertising and marketing products. The more places Assistant appears, the more likely it is that people will engage with the voice companion, and that's not territory Google wants to cede to someone like Amazon. Some of the devices getting Google Assistant coming to IFA include the Anker Zolo Mojo, a small cylinder speaker that's sort of like a third-party Google Home, which will go on sale in late October. Two other smart speakers powered by Assistant, including the Panasonic GA10 and the TicHome Mini, are also on their way. Google is also now making it possible to use Assistant to check on the state of your laundry or dishes, using an integration with LG's line of home appliances, which also includes voice commands for LG's Roomba competitor.
The Almighty Buck

Best Buy Will Now Send a Salesperson To Your House To Sell You Things (theverge.com) 144

An anonymous reader writes: Starting next month, Best Buy will launch a free service where salespeople will come to your house to make recommendations about gadgets and services to try and sell you stuff. The service has been in testing in five markets and will be expanded to more cities around the U.S., according to the Associated Press. The Verge reports: "Best Buy has found that shoppers spend more money when at home than in store. CEO Hubert Joly says the in-house service is one way the company will open up 'latent' customer demand. Sales associates are responsible for promoting the service -- when customers ask about certain products, the salesperson will suggest an in-home visit. The topics discussed during the home visits usually involve recommendations for products and gadgets, and other services. Best Buy says the salespeople working in the in-home service receive hourly rates, or a salary, and not commissions. The company already operates a 'Geek Squad' facility, but that's a paid service that offers repairs and installations."
Data Storage

APFS Is Not Optional (apple.com) 330

From a new Apple knowledge base article: When you upgrade to macOS High Sierra, systems with all flash storage configurations are converted automatically. Systems with hard disk drives (HDD) and Fusion drives won't be converted to APFS. You can't opt-out of the transition to APFS.
Robotics

South Korea Moves Towards The World's First 'Robot Tax' (zdnet.com) 83

An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: It's being called the world's first robot tax. If it goes into effect, South Korea will be the first country to change its tax laws in recognition of the coming burden of mass robotic automation on low and middle-skill workers. The change proposed by the Moon Jae-in administration isn't a direct tax on robots. Rather, policymakers have proposed limiting tax incentives on investments in automation... Under existing law, South Korean companies that buy automation equipment, such as warehouse and factory robots, can deduct between three and seven percent of their investment. The current proposal, which seems likely to advance, is to reduce the deduction rate by up to two percentage points.

The move is evidently not an attempt to staunch companies from adopting automation technology. Rather, it is a kind of formal acknowledgment that unemployment is coming on a big enough scale to eat into South Korea's tax revenue. Policymakers are hoping that reducing the deduction incentives by a couple percentage points will offset the lost income tax and help keep the country's social services and welfare coffers filled.

The Korea Times, which broke the story, reminds readers that former U.S. treasury secretary Lawrence Summers has called robot taxes "profoundly misguided... A sufficiently high tax on robots would prevent them from being produced."
Businesses

Domino's Market Tests A Self-Driving Pizza Delivery Car (cnn.com) 145

An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Someday soon your Domino's Pizza could be delivered to you -- without an actual delivery person. Ford and Domino's are testing out a specially-equipped Ford Fusion that comes not only with self-driving technology but also an oven. It sounds cool but there is a catch -- there's no one to walk the pizza to your front door and ring the bell. That's what Ford and Domino's say they're really testing. "How will customers react to coming outside to get their food?" Domino's president Russell Weiner said in a statement, "We need to make sure the interface is clear and simple."

During the testing phase, an engineer and a driver will be in the car -- but the windows will be heavily tinted so customers can't see them. And both have been instructed not to interact with people at all. Domino's wants to see how well customers deal with coming out and getting their own pie from what is, basically, a pizza ATM built into the car. To get their pizzas, customers will have to enter a number on the touchpad, then a back window will lower, revealing the pizza. Over the next five weeks, randomly selected customers around Ann Arbor, Michigan, will be offered the option of getting their pizza delivered by the hi-tech "driverless" car.

Data Storage

BackBlaze's Hard Drive Stats for Q2 2017 (backblaze.com) 99

BackBlaze is back with its new hard drive reliability report: Since our last report for Q1 2017, we have added 635 additional hard drives to bring us to the 83,151 drives we'll focus on. We'll begin our review by looking at the statistics for the period of April 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017 (Q2 2017). [...] When looking at the quarterly numbers, remember to look for those drives with at least 50,000 drive hours for the quarter. That works out to about 550 drives running the entire quarter. That's a good sample size. If the sample size is below that, the failure rates can be skewed based on a small change in the number of drive failures.

Editor's note: In short: hard drives from HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, and Toshiba were far more reliable than those from Seagate across the models BackBlaze uses in its datacenters.

Android

Tech Firms Team Up To Take Down 'WireX' Android DDoS Botnet (krebsonsecurity.com) 29

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Krebs On Security: A half dozen technology and security companies -- some of them competitors -- issued the exact same press release today. This unusual level of cross-industry collaboration caps a successful effort to dismantle "WireX," an extraordinary new crime machine comprising tens of thousands of hacked Android mobile devices that was used this month to launch a series of massive cyber attacks. Experts involved in the takedown warn that WireX marks the emergence of a new class of attack tools that are more challenging to defend against and thus require broader industry cooperation to defeat. News of WireX's emergence first surfaced August 2, 2017, when a modest collection of hacked Android devices was first spotted conducting some fairly small online attacks. Less than two weeks later, however, the number of infected Android devices enslaved by WireX had ballooned to the tens of thousands. Experts tracking the attacks soon zeroed in on the malware that powers WireX: Approximately 300 different mobile apps scattered across Google's Play store that were mimicking seemingly innocuous programs, including video players, ringtones or simple tools such as file managers.

Experts involved in the takedown say it's not clear exactly how many Android devices may have been infected with WireX, in part because only a fraction of the overall infected systems were able to attack a target at any given time. Devices that were powered off would not attack, but those that were turned on with the device's screen locked could still carry on attacks in the background, they found. The identical press release that Akamai and other firms involved in the WireX takedown agreed to publish says the botnet infected a minimum of 70,000 Android systems, but Seaman says that figure is conservative.

Nintendo

Nintendo Faces Supply Issues Ahead of Holiday Season 100

Takashi Mochizuki and Sarah E. Needleman report via The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): Nintendo's latest videogame machine, the Nintendo Switch, is winning fans for both its lineup of popular games and its flexibility -- it works as both a living-room console and a hand-held device. But the real challenge for gamers has been actually getting their hands on it. Production isn't keeping up with demand in Japan, resulting in blockbuster queues and lotteries there. Over weekends in July and early August, tens of thousands of fans lined up at stores for a one-in-10 chance to buy the $300 console at events that have become a form of entertainment. Nintendo's official target is to ship 10 million Switch units in its current fiscal year ending in March 2018. People involved in the supply chain say they have been told to prepare for 18 million units. One executive in the supply chain said his company was ready to pick up the pace of production if asked. One delicate balance for Nintendo: The more it tries to boost output quickly, the more it has to bow to the terms of parts makers, some of whom are also busy with orders for Apple Inc.'s next iPhone. "We're doing everything we can to make sure everyone who wants to buy a Nintendo Switch system can do so," Nintendo said in a statement. "We will ramp up production for the holiday period, which has been factored into our forecast."
Government

New York City Cops Will Replace Their 36,000 Windows Phones With iPhones (theverge.com) 215

The New York City Police Department says it will give up its 36,000 Windows phones and transition to iPhones by the end of the year. The Verge reports: The switch is prompted in part by news in July that Microsoft was ending support for Windows Phone 8.1, which a large percentage of all Windows-powered phones are still using. It's a predictable end to the Windows phone, considering that its market share had already slipped below 1 percent at the time the police department adopted its phones last year. The ill-fated decision to go with the Windows phone was made solely by its NYPD deputy commissioner for IT, according to The New York Post, and apparently did not receive further judgment before implementing the program. The Windows models were Nokia Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL, equipped with special 911 apps, case management apps, and the ability to receive assignments. They were purchased as part of a $160 million initiative to modernize the NYPD, which has been around since 1845. The new business for Microsoft's phones was clearly not enough to keep Windows Phone alive.
Iphone

The Next iPhone Is Going To Be Unveiled On Sept. 12, Report Says (cnbc.com) 77

According to CNBC, Apple will host its big iPhone 8 product launch event on September 12th. From the report: The tech giant is expected to announce a bevy of products, including two new iterative iPhone updates, possibly named the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, in addition to a high-end iPhone 8. Apple is also reportedly gearing up to announce a new 4K Apple TV that will support sharper content than current models, and a new Apple Watch. The iPhone 8 will reportedly feature a display that takes up almost the entire front of the device, using new OLED panels that are brighter and more colorful than previous screens. Rumor has it Apple has moved the fingerprint reader to the back of the phone but will also support facial recognition thanks to a new 3-D sensor on the front of the device. Rumors have suggested the most high-end iPhone 8 will start at $1,000. Apple typically sells its new phones within a week or so of the announcement.
Security

Lawsuit Filed Against Logitech For Delaying Warranty Claims, Hiding EOL (bleepingcomputer.com) 83

An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer: A U.S. man has filed a lawsuit against Logitech, a Swiss-based manufacturer of electronic devices, on accusations that Logitech had intentionally delayed and tried to discourage warranty claims for defective products, falsely advertised products, and even hid an End-Of-Life (EOL) announcement from customers. The product at the heart of this lawsuit is a high-definition digital video home security systems named Logitech Alert Systems... The lawsuit alleges that Logitech's cameras had "a high-rate of failure" and the software running on the IP cameras "was rife with bugs and glitches that made the systems unreliable and inoperable"...

The cherry on top came when users complained to the company. "Logitech refused to honor its warranties to remedy the defects while customers' warranty periods lapsed, thereby escaping its legal obligations to provide non-defective replacements or refunds," the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit alleges that Logitech knew its product had a high rate of failure, but instead of issuing a callback, it "responded by designing and implementing a strategy to avoid its express warranty obligations... As a result, Logitech strategically left customers without operable security systems during the warranty period while it ran out the clock."

The proposed class-action lawsuit covers the IP cameras sold between 2010 and 2014, though it alleges Logitech decided to discontinue the products by 2012, and "claims the company wanted to sell current stocks of Alert Systems before making the announcement and allowed customers to buy a product it did not intend to support anymore."
Input Devices

A Game You Control With Your Mind (nytimes.com) 56

A startup recently demoed their prototype for a VR headset using sensors that read brain waves. An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times: There is no joystick or game pad. You must use your thoughts. You turn toward a ball on the floor, and your brain sends a command to pick it up. With another thought, you send the ball crashing into a mirror, breaking the glass and revealing a few numbers scribbled on a wall. You mentally type those numbers into a large keypad by the door. And you are out. Designed by Neurable, a small start-up founded by Ramses Alcaide, an electrical engineer and neuroscientist, the game offers what you might call a computer mouse for the mind, a way of selecting items in a virtual world with your thoughts...

The prototype is among the earliest fruits of a widespread effort to embrace technology that was once science fiction -- and in some ways still is. Driven by recent investments from the United States government and by the herd mentality that so often characterizes the tech world, a number of a start-ups and bigger companies like Facebook are working on ways to mentally control machines... Although sensors can read electrical brain activity from outside the skull, it is very difficult to separate the signal from the noise. Using computer algorithms based on research that Mr. Alcaide originally published as a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, Neurable works to read activity with a speed and accuracy that is not typically possible.

The Almighty Buck

Elon Musk's Neuralink Gets $27 Million To Build Brain Computers (bloomberg.com) 76

An anonymous reader writes: Neuralink, the startup co-founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has taken steps to sell as much as $100 million in stock to fund the development of technology that connects human brains with computers. The San Francisco-based company has already gotten $27 million in funding, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk said via Twitter on Friday that Neuralink isn't seeking outside investors. In June, Musk said Neuralink is a priority after much more demanding commitments to his automotive and rocket companies. "Boring Co. is maybe 2 percent of my time; Neuralink is 3 percent to 5 percent of my time; OpenAI is going to be a couple of percent; and then 90-plus percent is divided between SpaceX and Tesla," said Musk at the electric-car maker's annual shareholder meeting.
Television

Ask Slashdot: Best Non-Smart TV Sets? (slashdot.org) 320

williamyf writes: I have always been of the idea that my TV shall be non-smart, leaving the smarts to connected equipment (in my case my Synology NAS running Plex and a combination of Chromecasts and laptops do the trick). I think that most of my Slashdot brethren are of a similar persuasion. But, over the years finding decent non-smart TVs is becoming harder and harder, unless your are prepared to pay much higher prices for industrial/signage equipment, or are prepared to deal with slightly inferior specs and quality, or get an old (possibly second hand) set, or are prepared to do long, hard internet searches for that needle in the haystack (all slashdot readers can google, but here at least we can hear firsthand experiences from technically-minded people, and not fake-ish reviews).

In view of the recent story about Samsung TVs being bricked by a firmware update, I ask the Slashdot crowd to amass our collective knowledge and see: What TV makers make decent non-smart TV sets? Which are these sets?

Requirements: non-smart, no apps on the TV, no app on the smartphone, no nothing -- the dumber the better. OTA tuner optional. 1080p50/60 or higher (1333x768 was barely adequate in 2008, but KRAP in 2017). 16:9 or 21:9. From 35 inches (for the master bedroom) to 70 inches (for the middle class living room in an apartment complex). Real remote (not app in a phone) with at least volume up/down, input change and sleep function, plus all needed to configure the set. Lots of HDMI 2.0 (or higher) ports. A decent assortment of legacy ports (including component, composite, S-Video). HDR capable. Good build quality. Good price (Ideally slightly lower than similar smart TVs, since we are forgoing the hardware needed for the smart part, as well as the ongoing support cost for firmware updates). Good image quality. Decent warranties. Reputable manufacturers. Reputable sellers.

Television

Apple Is Planning a 4K Upgrade For Its TV Box (bloomberg.com) 63

Apple is planning to unveil an upgraded Apple TV set-top box that can stream 4K video and highlight live television content such as news and sports. Bloomberg reports: The updated box, to be revealed alongside new iPhone and Apple Watch models at an event in September, will run a faster processor capable of streaming the higher-resolution 4K content, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren't yet public. The 4K designation is a quality standard that showcases content at twice the resolution of 1080P high-definition video, meaning the clarity is often better for the viewer. Apple is also testing an updated version of its TV app, which first launched in 2016, that can aggregate programming from apps that already offer live streaming. Apple is seeking to revive its video ambitions with the new product. In order to view 4K video, users will need to attach the updated Apple TV to a screen capable of showing the higher-resolution footage. In order to play 4K and HDR content, Apple will need deals with content makers that can provide video in those formats. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has begun discussions with movie studios about supplying 4K versions of movies via iTunes, according to people familiar with the talks. The company has also discussed its 4K video ambitions with content companies that already have apps on Apple TV, another person said. Popular video apps on the Apple TV that support 4K on other platforms include Vevo and Netflix.
Power

Tesla's Electric Semi Truck Will Reportedly Get 200-300 Miles Per Charge (reuters.com) 322

According to Reuters, Tesla next month plans to unveil an electric big-rig truck with a working range of 200 to 300 miles, a sign that the company is targeting regional hauling for its entry into the commercial freight market. From the report: Chief Executive Elon Musk has promised to release a prototype of its Tesla Semi truck next month in a bid to expand the company's market beyond luxury cars. The entrepreneur has tantalized the trucking industry with the prospect of a battery-powered heavy-duty vehicle that can compete with conventional diesels, which can travel up to 1,000 miles on a single tank of fuel. Tesla's electric prototype will be capable of traveling the low end of what transportation veterans consider to be "long-haul" trucking, according to Scott Perry, an executive at Miami-based fleet operator Ryder System. Perry said he met with Tesla officials earlier this year to discuss the technology at the automaker's manufacturing facility in Fremont, California.
Data Storage

A User Archived Nearly 2 Million Gigabytes of Porn to Test Amazon's 'Unlimited' Cloud Storage (vice.com) 233

An anonymous reader shares a report: Reddit user beaston02 was determined to find the true ceiling of Amazon's cloud storage plan, which was killed off in June. He decided to push its limits with a petabyte of porn. For reference, a petabyte is one million gigabytes. "It is nearly entirely porn," he told me in a Reddit message. "Ever since I got into computers, I found myself learning more, and faster when it was something more interesting. Call me crazy, but women interest me more than most other things on the internet and there is a huge amount of data being created daily, so it was a good fit for the project." He said it took five or six months to collect one petabyte of porn, and he stopped collecting just shy of 1.8 petabytes. How long would it take one to consume 1.8 petabytes of porn? 1.8 petabytes is about 23.4 years of HD-TV video, but webcam streams are nowhere near that quality. A few good folks crunched the numbers: 720p is about two gigabytes per hour, and at 900,000 hours, that's 102 years of straight calendar time. If the videos are even lower quality, say, 480p, that's around 0.7 gigabytes per hour, or 293 years and six months.
Communications

Engineers Discover How To Make Antennas For Wireless Communication 100x Smaller Than Their Current Size (sciencemag.org) 129

Engineers have figured out how to make antennas for wireless communication 100 times smaller than their current size, an advance that could lead to tiny brain implants, micro-medical devices, or phones you can wear on your finger. Science Magazine reports: The new mini-antennas play off the difference between electromagnetic (EM) waves, such as light and radio waves, and acoustic waves, such as sound and inaudible vibrations. EM waves are fluctuations in an electromagnetic field, and they travel at light speed -- an astounding 300,000,000 meters per second. Acoustic waves are the jiggling of matter, and they travel at the much slower speed of sound -- in a solid, typically a few thousand meters per second. So, at any given frequency, an EM wave has a much longer wavelength than an acoustic wave. Antennas receive information by resonating with EM waves, which they convert into electrical voltage. For such resonance to occur, a traditional antenna's length must roughly match the wavelength of the EM wave it receives, meaning that the antenna must be relatively big. However, like a guitar string, an antenna can also resonate with acoustic waves. The new antennas take advantage of this fact. They will pick up EM waves of a given frequency if its size matches the wavelength of the much shorter acoustic waves of the same frequency. That means that that for any given signal frequency, the antennas can be much smaller. The trick is, of course, to quickly turn the incoming EM waves into acoustic waves.

The team created two kinds of acoustic antennas. One has a circular membrane, which works for frequencies in the gigahertz range, including those for WiFi. The other has a rectangular membrane, suitable for megahertz frequencies used for TV and radio. Each is less than a millimeter across, and both can be manufactured together on a single chip. When researchers tested one of the antennas in a specially insulated room, they found that compared to a conventional ring antenna of the same size, it sent and received 2.5 gigahertz signals about 100,000 times more efficiently, they report in Nature Communications.

United States

Roku Is the Top Streaming Device In the US and Still Growing, Report Finds (techcrunch.com) 96

Roku is the top streaming media player device in the U.S., and its growth is only increasing. According to the latest industry report from market intelligence firm Parks Associates, 37 percent of streaming devices in U.S. households are Roku devices, as of the first quarter of this year. That's up from 30 percent in the same quarter last year, the report notes. TechCrunch reports: The growth is coming at the expense of Roku's top competitors, like Apple and Google, with only Amazon's Fire TV able to increase its install base during the same timeframe. Fire TV devices are in 24 percent of U.S. households, as of Q1 2017, up from 16 percent last year. That climb allowed Amazon to snag the second position from Google's Chromecast, which has an 18 percent share. Lagging behind, Apple TV's market share fell to 15 percent -- a drop that Parks Associates Senior Analyst Glenn Hower attributes to Apple TV's price point. Roku last fall overhauled its line of streaming players with the intention of plugging every hole in the market. That strategy is seemingly paying off. There's now a Roku device to meet any consumer's needs -- whether that's an entry-level, portable and affordable "stick," to rival the Fire TV Stick or the Chromecast dongle, or a high-end player with 4K and HDR support, lots of ports, voice search remote, and other premium bells and whistles.

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