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Comments:59 | Votes:262

posted by martyb on Wednesday February 20, @06:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the How-many-TLAs-knew-about-it? dept.

Google admits error over hidden microphone

Google has acknowledged that it made an error in not disclosing that one of its home alarm products contained a microphone.

Product specifications for the Nest Guard, available since 2017, had made no mention of the listening device. But earlier this month, the firm said a software update would make Nest Guard voice-controlled. On Twitter, concerned Nest owners were told the microphone "has not been used up to this point". Business Insider was first to report the development.

The Nest Guard is one component in the Nest Secure range of home security products. The system includes various sensors that can be monitored remotely by the user. Nest Guard is an all-in-one alarm, keypad, and motion sensor but, despite being announced well over a year ago, the word "microphone" was only added to the product's specification this month. The change coincided with the announcement that it was now compatible with Google Assistant.

In response to criticism, Google said on Tuesday: "The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part." It added: "The microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option."

Also at The Verge and Forbes.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday February 20, @04:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the quick-ticks dept.

Intel's First 4.0 GHz Pentium: Pentium Gold G5620 Listed At Retail

A number of European retailers have started listing new Celeron and the Pentium Gold-branded processors, which indicates that the world's largest CPU supplier is about to formally announce the products. Topping the list of new processors is the Pentium G5620, which happens to be Intel's first Pentium-branded CPU clocked at 4 GHz.

[...] According to Germany-based ISO Datentechnik and Finland-based Futureport online stores, the new CPUs from Intel will be available starting from early March. But since that information does not come directly from Intel, it may not be completely accurate.

Intel originally planned to release its Pentium 4 processors based on the NetBurst microarchitecture and clocked at 4 GHz sometime in the middle of the previous decade. At some point, Intel stopped development of its Tejas generation of NetBurst processors cancelling all the products in the lineup, then the company cancelled release of Pentium 4 4.0 GHz CPUs featuring the Prescott, and the Prescott 2M designs due in 2005 – 2006. Later on the company released numerous Core-branded processors clocked at 4.0 GHz and higher, but frequencies of Pentiums topped at 3.8 GHz.

A hollow achievement, but interesting nonetheless.

Also at Tom's Hardware.

See also: Et Tu, Pentiums? GPU-Disabled Pentium Gold G5600F Appears

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday February 20, @03:16PM   Printer-friendly
from the Vamp-ire? dept.

Taking a young person's plasma and infusing it into an older person to ward off aging -- a therapy that's fascinated some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley -- has no proven clinical benefit, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The agency issued a safety alert on Tuesday about the infusion of plasma from young donors for the prevention of conditions such as aging or memory loss, or for the treatment of such conditions as dementia, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease or post‐traumatic stress disorder.

"There is no proven clinical benefit of infusion of plasma from young donors to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product," the FDA said in a statement from Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Peter Marks, head of the agency's biologics center.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday February 20, @01:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the check-what-happens-when-i-point-this-laser-pointer-at-that-telescope dept.

Using radio astronomy, over 200 astronomers hailing from 18 different countries have gathered over 20 petabyes of data and published a new map of the night sky that has over 300,000 previously undiscovered galaxies in it.

In-depth coverage here. Mainstream articles here and here.

Good Video Fly through the LOFAR Survey radio Universe. LOFAR image gallery here

The team used the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope in the Netherlands to pick up traces -- or "jets" -- of ancient radiation produced when galaxies merge. These jets, previously undetected, can extend over millions of light years.

"With radio observations we can detect radiation from the tenuous medium that exists between galaxies," said Amanda Wilber, of the University of Hamburg.

"LOFAR allows us to detect many more of these sources and understand what is powering them."

These jets occur near the supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies.

These detections are only the beginning however, so buckle in and prep for lightspeed

The LOFAR telescope, which is made up of a network of radio antenna located across seven European countries, has helped scientists chart just just 2 percent of the sky so far. The team plans to create high-resolution images of the entire northern sky, which they say will reveal up to 15 million previously undetected radio sources.

Too bad it can't focus in on Proxima Centauri.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday February 20, @12:01PM   Printer-friendly
from the what's-a-newspaper? dept.

Radio Free Asia is reporting that over a dozen Chinese newspapers have gone under due to a combination of heavy censorship and falling revenue. Many more look to succumb to the same fate soon. All media there is expected to demonstrate loyalty to the ruling party and to President Xi Jinping.

At least 13 newspapers that rely on advertising revenue but are still subject to the government's strict censorship regime have folded, including the Beijing Morning Post, the Beijing Suburban Daily and the Heilongjiang Morning News, official party newspaper The People's Daily reported.

The Anyang Evening News and Zhangzhou Evening News titles have also been suspended.

Analysts told RFA that as commercial newspapers are increasingly squeezed by growing controls on what they can print on the one hand, and falling revenues and competition from social media on the other, government-run media are experiencing a huge boost resulting from their whitelisted status.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday February 20, @10:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-look-down...or-up-or-left-or-right dept.

A new, business-oriented VR headset uses a tiny, high resolution display panel within a larger panel in order to display very high quality imagery to users looking straight ahead:

The VR-1 calls its center panel a "Bionic Display." It's a 1920 x 1080 "micro-OLED" display with a resolution of 3,000 pixels per inch. (For context, last year's high-resolution prototype display from Google and LG had 1443 ppi.) Within that central strip, images are supposed to roughly match the resolution of the human eye. As Ars Technica, which checked out the headset, puts it, that section looks "every bit as detailed as real life." Outside that super crisp panel, there's a 1440 x 1600 display that produces images of more average quality.

The VR-1's total 87-degree field of view is smaller than that of the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, let alone the 200 degrees offered by something like Pimax's more experimental VR headset. The Bionic Display only comprises a slice of it. Ars Technica describes great image quality while you're looking straight ahead, with a noticeable downgrade outside that. And rendering that high-resolution slice requires more processing power than you'd need for average VR headsets, which are already fairly demanding.

[...] The VR-1 uses standard SteamVR base stations for tracking, and it supports both the Unity and Unreal engines, so you could theoretically play games or use other consumer software. But the headset isn't priced for consumers. It costs $5,995 with an annual service fee of $995, and Varjo stresses that it's "only available for businesses and academic institutions." The company is already working with Airbus, Audi, Saab, Volkswagen, and Volvo, among others.

Human eye - Field of view.

Also at Road to VR.

Related: Virtual Reality Audiences Stare Straight Ahead 75% of the Time
Google Research Proposes New Foveated Rendering Techniques for VR
Google and LG to Show Off World's Highest Resolution OLED-on-Glass Display in May

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday February 20, @08:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the blue-truth dept.

Excavations at two quarries in Wales, known to be the source of the Stonehenge 'bluestones', provide new evidence of megalith quarrying 5,000 years ago, according to a new UCL-led study.

Geologists have long known that 42 of Stonehenge's smaller stones, known as 'bluestones', came from the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire, west Wales. Now a new study published in Antiquity pinpoints the exact locations of two of these quarries and reveals when and how the stones were quarried.

[...] The largest quarry was found almost 180 miles away from Stonehenge on the outcrop of Carn Goedog, on the north slope of the Preseli hills. "This was the dominant source of Stonehenge's spotted dolerite, so-called because it has white spots in the igneous blue rock. At least five of Stonehenge's bluestones, and probably more, came from Carn Goedog," said geologist Dr Richard Bevins (National Museum of Wales).

[...] According to the new study, the bluestone outcrops are formed of natural, vertical pillars. These could be eased off the rock face by opening up the vertical joints between each pillar. Unlike stone quarries in ancient Egypt, where obelisks were carved out of the solid rock, the Welsh quarries were easier to exploit. Neolithic quarry workers needed only to insert wedges into the ready-made joints between pillars, then lower each pillar to the foot of the outcrop. [...] The new discoveries also cast doubt on a popular theory that the bluestones were transported by sea to Stonehenge.

Megalith quarries for Stonehenge's bluestones (open, DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2018.111) (DX)

-- submitted from IRC

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday February 20, @06:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the lobster-tail-tires dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Lobster's underbelly is as tough as industrial rubber (alt)

Flip a lobster on its back, and you'll see that the underside of its tail is split in segments connected by a translucent membrane that appears rather vulnerable when compared with the armor-like carapace that shields the rest of the crustacean.

But engineers at MIT and elsewhere have found that this soft membrane is surprisingly tough, with a microscopic, layered, plywood-like structure that makes it remarkably tolerant to scrapes and cuts. This deceptively tough film protects the lobster's belly as the animal scuttles across the rocky seafloor.

The membrane is also stretchy, to a degree, which enables the lobster to whip its tail back and forth, and makes it difficult for a predator to chew through the tail or pull it apart.

This flexibility may come from the fact that the membrane is a natural hydrogel, composed of 90 percent of water. Chitin, a fibrous material found in many shells and exoskeletons, makes up most of the rest.

The team's results show that the lobster membrane is the toughest material of all natural hydrogels, including collagen, animal skins, and natural rubber. The membrane is about as strong as industrial rubber composites, such as those used to make car tires, garden hoses, and conveyor belts.

The lobster's tough yet stretchy membrane could serve as a design guide for more flexible body armor, particularly for highly mobile regions of the body, such as elbows and knees.

Natural hydrogel in American lobster: A soft armor with high toughness and strength (DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2019.01.067) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday February 20, @04:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the grounded-forever dept.

Several news agencies are reporting on the demise of the A380, an aircraft loved by passengers. European plane maker Airbus said Thursday it will stop making its superjumbo A380 in 2021 for lack of customers, abandoning the world's biggest passenger jet and one of the aviation industry's most ambitious and most troubled endeavors.

A slump in sales due to the airline industry moving to a point to point model make risk of empty seats on the A380 too much of a burden to make it profitable to operate.

Still the aircraft will remain in service for at least another 20 years.

Previously: A380 Cancellations by Qantas Raise new Questions About the Superjumbo's Future

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday February 20, @02:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the under-.development dept.

You can now register .dev domains

Google today announced that you can now register .dev domain names. Google acquired the .dev top-level domain when ICANN opened up the web to new generic top-level domains (gTLD) a few years ago. At the time, Google acquired gTLD's like .app, .page and .dev (for some reason, Google also owns .soy).

Right now, the .dev domains are still in an early access program, though. That means you'll have to pay an additional fee that decreases every day until February 28 — and that early access fee is pretty steep.

Registering a new domain on GoDaddy, which is one of the many resellers that offer the new domain names, will set you back over $12,500 in extra fees today. Tomorrow, that price drops to just over $3,100. Come February 28, you can register any available domain and it'll just cost you about $20 per year. The idea here, of course, is to manage demand (and to extract a few extra dollars from the companies that really need to have a given domain name).

Also at Android Police, 9to5Google, and BetaNews.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday February 20, @01:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the now-jump-it dept.

Shark DNA could help cure cancer and age-related illnesses in humans

The first map of great whites sharks' DNA has revealed "mutations" that protect the animals against cancer and other illnesses.

Scientists hope more research could help apply the findings to treating age-related illnesses in humans.

Great whites also have the ability to repair their own DNA - something we can't do.

The research was carried out by a team of scientists at the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Centre at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

Half man, half shark.

Also at Nova Southeastern University.

White shark genome reveals ancient elasmobranch adaptations associated with wound healing and the maintenance of genome stability (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1819778116) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday February 19, @11:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the Wir-fahr'n-fahr'n-fahr'n-auf-der-Autobahn dept.

Brought to the floor by Senator John Moorlach of Orange County, SB-319 would direct the state's Department of Transportation to build two unlimited speed lanes on each side of Interstate 5 and State Route 99, the main north-south arteries linking cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento. The sections of the roadways in question run straight through the supremely flat Central Valley, making for ideal high-speed driving conditions.

Perhaps paradoxically, California's answer to the German autobahn would be paid for by the state's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The text of SB-319 points out that the recent collapse of California's ambitious plan for a bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which was originally intended to trace the same route as the proposed unlimited speed lanes, has left residents without "access to high-speed, unabated transportation across the state."

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Tuesday February 19, @10:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the put-it-on-the-block-chain dept.

Deep learning may need a new programming language that’s more flexible and easier to work with than Python, Facebook AI Research director Yann LeCun said today. It’s not yet clear if such a language is necessary, but the possibility runs against very entrenched desires from researchers and engineers, he said.

LeCun has worked with neural networks since the 1980s.

“There are several projects at Google, Facebook, and other places to kind of design such a compiled language that can be efficient for deep learning, but it’s not clear at all that the community will follow, because people just want to use Python,” LeCun said in a phone call with VentureBeat.

“The question now is, is that a valid approach?”

Python is currently the most popular language used by developers working on machine learning projects, according to GitHub’s recent Octoverse report, and the language forms the basis for Facebook’s PyTorch and Google’s TensorFlow frameworks.

[...] Artificial intelligence is more than 50 years old, but its current rise has been closely linked to the growth in compute power provided by computer chips and other hardware.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday February 19, @08:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the does-it-also-make-the-room-darker? dept.

Researchers at the University of Michigan ran a light emitting diode (LED) with electrodes reversed in order to cool another device mere nanometers away. The approach could lead to new solid-state cooling technology for future microprocessors, which will have so many transistors packed into a small space that current methods can’t remove heat quickly enough.

This could turn out to be important for future smartphones and other computers. With more computing power in smaller and smaller devices, removing the heat from the microprocessor is beginning to limit how much power can be squeezed into a given space.

[How does this compare to a Peltier device?


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday February 19, @06:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the civic-minded? dept.

Honda Confirms Plan to Leave Britain as Brexit Looms

The Japanese automaker Honda has become the latest business to make plans to leave Britain as global forces reshape the car industry and the country prepares to exit the European Union.

Honda will close its plant in Swindon, England, which employs 3,500 workers, by 2021, it confirmed on Tuesday. The factory, which produces about 150,000 cars a year, will close once its current line of Civic cars comes to an end.

"In light of the unprecedented changes that are affecting our industry, it is vital that we accelerate our electrification strategy and restructure our global operations accordingly," Katsushi Inoue, the chief officer for European operations, said in a statement.

The decision was a "devastating decision for Swindon and the U.K.," Greg Clark, Britain's business secretary, said in a statement. "The news is a particularly bitter blow to the thousands of skilled and dedicated staff who work at the factory, their families and all of those employed in the supply chain," Mr. Clark said, adding that he would convene a "task force" to keep the employees in work.

Also at CNN.

Original Submission