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What is the most overly over hyped tech trend

  • Generative AI
  • Quantum computing
  • Blockchain, NFT, Cryptocurrency
  • Edge computing
  • Internet of Things
  • 6G
  • I use the metaverse you insensitive clod
  • Other (please specify in comments)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:24 | Votes:80

posted by janrinok on Friday March 22, @11:31PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

The first preview of Unreal Engine 5.4 is now available. The update introduces significant new features to the animation toolchain and Nanite, Epic's ambitious polygon rendering system.

Amy Hennig, known for her work on the Uncharted series, demonstrated the developments by revealing her studio's new game – 1943: Rise of Hydra. Planned for a 2025 release, the title stars Captain America and Black Panther in occupied Paris during World War II.

While the game's unveiling, which starts around the 19-minute mark in the video below, didn't include gameplay, Hennig proved that the trailer was running in real-time by exploring its scenes and characters using the Unreal Engine editor. The developers took the opportunity to showcase the newly introduced Nanite tessellation, which adds detail to objects without rendering additional polygons. They also demonstrated systems that can quickly change environmental textures and cast realistic shadows on smoke or fog.

Furthermore, Hennig explained how Unreal Engine 5's motion capture system combines with its advanced MetaHuman character creator to allow realistic facial animations recorded from live actors. Version 5.4's primary addition to animation is Motion Matching, which blends positions to animate in-game characters efficiently. Fortnite has been exhibiting the system since the launch of Chapter 5, and Epic used the GDC presentation to announce significant additions to the game's custom creation tools.

[...] Developers can download the Unreal Engine 5.4 preview on the Epic Games Launcher, GitHub, or here. Linux users can find it on Epic's website.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday March 22, @06:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the fare-ye-well dept.

This month, on the 24th March, it will be 5 years since MDC, denied essential medication, ended his life.

Why was Michael David Crawford different? - well, he wasn't. In many ways he was just like many of us. By profession he was a software engineer. He wrote software for OSX. He first became well known - or reasonably so in our circles - for being on Kuro5hin. However, he was certainly different from many of us for the physical and mental health, and social problems that he experienced. Despite all of these things though he remained polite and open to having an interesting discussion on any technical issue that arose, both on Kuro5hin and subsequently here on SN. Someone who knew him far better than I did wrote about him here some 12 years ago. If you search on your favourite search engine I think that you will find his name appears quite a few times.

His journal on SN is still there for all to read although it does not do him justice. He was a 'nice guy' and intelligent too.

For example, in 2010 he was interviewed on CNN discussing employment problems that were being experienced by software engineers at that time. But this youtube link was not his only 'appearance' on that site. For some reason he thought others might want to hear him sing and elsewhere he thought that we all ought to know that he invented the internet. That last link perhaps shows the battle that he was having with mental problems yet here on this site he remained the same old 'MDC' that we had known since the start of SN and even before then for some of us.

An Anonymous Coward has reminded us:

Remember in his last words here, he begged us for help. For Theophylline or Aminophylline, or even bananas; he begged for help with "the desire to take my own life. I'll explain later, I can't just now as I cannot breathe and so am fighting for consciousness ... I Beg Of You! ... Please FIND SOME WAY I DO NOT HAVE TO DIE!"

Remember him. A good person, sometimes bewildered at the senseless cruelty of others, and at his best, indignant and retributive against those cruelties. Not a Vigilante, just a human who wanted children to be safe. Smart but too much of a misfit for society to let him live happily and productively for very long at a stretch.

MDC with hair:
MDC without hair:

On this site it was our own takyon who broke the news to us that he had lost his struggle. But on the same day several other sites covered the loss that the community was feeling, including this page from HackerNews.

Please, if you have the time, tell us your memories of MDC. He was one of us, and he is not forgotten.

Thank you to all of those who have contributed submissions to make sure that we remembered MDC.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday March 22, @02:02PM   Printer-friendly

More than 400 of the chemicals identified are in every major commonly used plastic product such as food packaging:

Scientists have compiled a list of over 16,000 chemicals present in plastic products and found that more than 4,000 of these were hazardous to human health and the environment.

The research review, known as the PlastChem report, was released on Thursday and comes ahead of the next round of negotiations for a UN treaty on global plastic pollution.

Researchers, who spent a year combing through research reports, sorted chemicals used in plastics based on their environmental and health effects – information the team hopes will inform governmental regulations and international negotiations to curb plastic use.

The review found that there are more plastic chemicals than previously known, and 4,200 (26 per cent) of these compounds, including those used as raw ingredients, stabilisers and colourants, are of concern due to their "persistent, bioaccumulative, mobile and/or toxic" nature.

[...] More than 400 of the chemicals identified in the report are in every major commonly used plastic product such as food packaging, and all the tested plastics leached hazardous chemicals into the environment, researchers noted.

[...] While about 1,000 plastic chemicals are regulated by global treaties such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, thousands more are not.

[...] "The PlastChem report is a wake-up call to policymakers and industry. We need more transparency and better management of chemicals of concern in plastic," Hans Peter Arp, a co-author of the report from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), said.

"The future of innovation in plastic should focus on safety, sustainability, and necessity, rather than just functionality," Dr Arp said.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday March 22, @09:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the I'm-sorry-Dave-I'm-afraid-I-can't-do-that dept.

In sci-fi films, the rise of humanlike artificial intelligence often comes hand in hand with a physical platform, such as an android or robot. While the most advanced AI language models so far seem mostly like disembodied voices echoing from an anonymous data center, they might not remain that way for long. Some companies like Google, Figure, Microsoft, Tesla, Boston Dynamics, and others are working toward giving AI models a body. This is called "embodiment," and AI chipmaker Nvidia wants to accelerate the process.

[...] To that end, Nvidia announced Project GR00T, a general-purpose foundation model for humanoid robots. As a type of AI model itself, Nvidia hopes GR00T (which stands for "Generalist Robot 00 Technology" but sounds a lot like a famous Marvel character) will serve as an AI mind for robots, enabling them to learn skills and solve various tasks on the fly. In a tweet, Nvidia researcher Linxi "Jim" Fan called the project "our moonshot to solve embodied AGI in the physical world."

[...] According to Fan, Project GR00T is a cornerstone of his newly founded GEAR Lab (short for "Generalist Embodied Agent Research"). During his time at Nvidia, Fan has specialized in using simulations of physical worlds to train AI models, and now that approach is extending to robotics. "At GEAR, we are building generally capable agents that learn to act skillfully in many worlds, virtual and real," wrote Fan in a tweet. "Join us on the journey to land on the moon."

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Original Submission

posted by hubie on Friday March 22, @04:34AM   Printer-friendly

'An act of dishonesty against the company' is among the violations cited:

SpaceX requires employees to agree to some unusual terms related to their stock awards, which have a chilling effect on staff, according to sources and internal documents viewed by TechCrunch.

That includes a provision that allows SpaceX the right to purchase back vested shares within a six-month period following an employee leaving the company for any reason. SpaceX also gives itself the right to ban past and present employees from participating in tender offers if they are deemed to have committed "an act of dishonesty against the company" or to have violated written company policies, among other reasons.

Employees often aren't aware of the "dishonesty" condition when they initially sign up on the equity compensation management platform, one former employee said.

If SpaceX bars an employee from selling stock in the tender offers, the person would have to wait until SpaceX goes public to realize cash from the shares — and it's unclear when that will happen, if it ever does.

[...] It's not uncommon for additional terms to be attached to employee stock compensation at startups, and employees who stay with the company long enough to vest stock may have acquired stock under various stock plans with various conditions. Yet no employee at startups and private companies is entitled to sell their stock without their employer's approval.

Indeed, at SpaceX, if an employee was fired "for cause," the company stated it can repurchase their stock for a price of $0 per share, according to documents viewed by TechCrunch.

"It sounds unusual to have [a] cause type exclusion provision in a tender offer agreement," attorney and stock options expert Mary Russell told TechCrunch. She said it is also unusual for a traditional venture-based startup to have repurchase rights for vested shares that are unrelated to a bad-actor-type "for cause" termination.

These terms "keep everyone under their control, even if they have left the company," one former employee said, because employees don't want to be forced to return their valuable SpaceX stock for no compensation. "And since there is no urgency by SpaceX to go public, being banned from tender offers effectively zeros out your shares, at least for a long time. Even though you paid thousands to cover the taxes."

"They also try and force a non-disparagement agreement on you when you leave, either with a carrot, or a stick if they have one," the person said.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday March 21, @11:49PM   Printer-friendly

The new biography Steve Jobs contains a remarkable claim about the power supply of the Apple II and its designer Rod Holt:

Instead of a conventional linear power supply, Holt built one like those used in oscilloscopes. It switched the power on and off not sixty times per second, but thousands of times; this allowed it to store the power for far less time, and thus throw off less heat. "That switching power supply was as revolutionary as the Apple II logic board was," Jobs later said. "Rod doesn't get a lot of credit for this in the history books but he should. Every computer now uses switching power supplies, and they all rip off Rod Holt's design."

I found it amazing to think that computers now use power supplies based on the Apple II's design, so I did some investigation. It turns out that Apple's power supply was not revolutionary, either in the concept of using a switching power supply for computers or in the specific design of the power supply. Modern computer power supplies are totally different and do not rip off anything from Rod Holt's design. It turns out that Steve Jobs was making his customary claim that everyone is stealing Apple's revolutionary technology, entirely contrary to the facts.

The history of switching power supplies turns out to be pretty interesting. While most people view the power supply as a boring metal box, there's actually a lot of technological development behind it. There was, in fact, a revolution in power supplies in the late 1960s through the mid 1970s as switching power supplies took over from simple but inefficient linear power supplies, but this was a few years before the Apple II came out in 1977. The credit for this revolution should go to advances in semiconductor technology, specifically improvements in switching transistors, and then innovative ICs to control switching power supplies.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday March 21, @07:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-let-go-of-that-steering-wheel-yet dept.

As discussed in this press release (and picked up by auto industry sites), recent tests on "Level 2" types of driving automation suggest that more development is needed.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is introducing a new ratings program to encourage automakers to incorporate more robust safeguards into their partial driving automation systems. Out of the first 14 systems tested, only one earns an acceptable rating. Two are rated marginal, and 11 are rated poor.

"We evaluated partial automation systems from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Genesis, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla and Volvo," IIHS President David Harkey said. "Most of them don't include adequate measures to prevent misuse and keep drivers from losing focus on what's happening on the road."

The Teammate system available on the Lexus LS is the only system tested that earns an acceptable rating. The GMC Sierra and Nissan Ariya are both available with partial automation systems that earn marginal ratings. The LS and Ariya each offer an alternative system that earns a poor rating. The Ford Mustang Mach-E, Genesis G90, Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, Tesla Model 3 and Volvo S90 also earn poor ratings, in some cases for more than one version of partial automation.
The new IIHS ratings aim to encourage safeguards that can help reduce intentional misuse and prolonged attention lapses as well as to discourage certain design characteristics that increase risk in other ways — such as systems that can be operated when automatic emergency braking (AEB) is turned off or seat belts are unbuckled.

Scores are awarded based on a battery of tests conducted over multiple trials, and some performance areas are weighted more heavily than others.

The tests were broken out into a number of different areas, here are the sub-headings and there are several paragraphs for each topic, Your AC submitter included the Safety section in a Spoiler:

Driver monitoring
Attention reminders
Emergency procedures
Driver involvement
Safety features

There is little evidence that partial automation has any safety benefits, so it's essential that these systems can only be used when proven safety features are engaged. These include seat belts, AEB and lane departure prevention. For a good rating in this category, a partial automation system should not switch on if the driver is unbelted or AEB or lane departure prevention is not active. If already in operation and the driver unfastens their seat belt, the system should immediately begin its multi-mode, driver-disengagement attention reminders. Finally, it must be impossible to switch off AEB or lane departure prevention if the automation is engaged.

The hands-free ProPILOT Assist 2.0, Lexus Teammate, and GM Super Cruise systems are the only ones that meet all these requirements. The hands-on ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link and the BMW system come close, but each deactivates without issuing an alert when a key safety feature is disengaged. This is dangerous because the driver may not be aware that they need to resume full control of the vehicle.

In contrast, most of the systems fail multiple safety feature requirements. Volvo Pilot Assist, for example, deactivates without an alert when the driver unbuckles, can be activated with lane departure prevention turned off and also remains active if the feature is switched off mid-drive. The two Genesis systems fail all safety feature requirements.

From the IIHS "About" page

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from motor vehicle crashes through research and evaluation and through education of consumers, policymakers and safety professionals.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday March 21, @02:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-want-NFTs-of-my-favorite-AI-models dept.

Starbucks' Odyssey Web3 rewards program ends on March 31 and its NFT marketplace will be shifted over to Nifty:

Starbucks is pulling the plug on Odyssey, its Web3 rewards program that gave members access to collectible NFTs. The company updated its FAQ on Friday to let members know that the beta program is closing on March 31, and they have a little over a week left to complete any remaining activities (called journeys). Those will shut down March 25. Users won't lose their Stamps (Starbucks' NFTs), which are hosted on Nifty Gateway, but they'll have to sign up for Nifty using their Starbucks Rewards email to access them there, if they haven't already.

[...] In a conversation with TechCrunch published just last month, Odyssey community lead Steve Kaczynski emphasized the community element, saying, "I've seen that people who live in California in the Starbucks Odyssey community are really good friends with people in Chicago and they have met up in real life at times. This never would have happened if not for Web3." But it's 2024, and brands and consumers alike have long since moved on from NFTs. (Naturally, Forum3, which worked with Starbucks on Odyssey, seems to have pivoted to AI).

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 21, @09:33AM   Printer-friendly

In 2019, astronomers discovered a group of white dwarfs that mysteriously stopped cooling. These "forever-young" stars remain at a near-constant surface temperature for at least eight billion years—an incredible length of time, considering the universe is 13.8 billion years old.

Something is fueling these stars from within, but given that they had run out of their nuclear fuel source, scientists were unsure what could be keeping them shining so brightly. Our research, recently published in Nature, presents the solution to this conundrum.

Using information gathered by the Gaia space observatory of the European Space Agency, researchers discovered that some white dwarfs essentially stop cooling.

By studying how white dwarfs are distributed as a function of temperature (from hot to cold) in the Gaia data, astronomers noticed an accumulation of white dwarfs at intermediate temperatures. This indicates that some white dwarfs spend more time at these intermediate temperatures—eight billion years more than thought possible.

White dwarfs are weird. A mere teaspoon of material from their cores weighs several tons. Under such extreme densities, matter can behave strangely. Even though the interiors of white dwarfs are millions of degrees hot, the density is high enough that they can freeze into a solid state. They form crystals out of the carbon, oxygen and other elements present in their interiors.

The formation of these crystals normally starts at the center of the star, where density is highest. As the white dwarf cools down, more crystals are formed in successive layers until almost the whole star is completely solid.

However, this inside-out crystallization does not apply to all white dwarfs. We discovered that the heaviest elements present in white dwarfs are expelled from the crystals as they are formed, just as salt is expelled from ice crystals when seawater freezes.

The crystals become less dense than their surroundings, and float up like ice cubes in a glass of water. As the crystals do not stay in place, the core cannot simply freeze from the inside out.

The movements created by the floating crystals reshuffle the chemical layering inside the star. Gradually, the heaviest elements are transported toward the center. This releases a steady flow of gravitational energy that keeps the star shining at a near-constant temperature for billions of years.

More information: Simon Blouin, Buoyant crystals halt the cooling of white dwarf stars, Nature (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-024-07102-y.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 21, @04:51AM   Printer-friendly

I had to create scans of a small flex PCB to capture more details than a flat scanner could give me. Of course, this task turned out harder than I imagined. I already had a good camera, but I was lacking a good macro lens. Buying one turned out to be hard because the highest magnification ratios on most macro lenses are 1:1. The better ones are, of course, pricier.

After browsing some extreme macrophotography forums, I discovered that some people use microscope objectives with their cameras.

Those microscope objectives are divided into two groups: infinity-corrected and non-infinity-corrected. What does this mean? The non-infinity-corrected objective focuses the captured image on a plane some distance after the objective. The infinity-corrected objective collimates the captured light into a parallel beam. The second type is useful if you need to Fourier transform the image by transparency masks or do other fancy scientific image transformations. Filtering light is easier if you work with a parallel beam. To use this type of objective in macrophotography, you need an additional lens to focus the parallel beam to an image on the sensor plane.

The first type of microscope objective can be used directly with your interchangeable lens camera. The only thing you need is an extension tube, which can be 3D printed in an hour. I found a great Thingiverse repository that contains extension tubes for microscopic objectives with various camera mounts. Together with the cheapest 4X non-infinity-corrected, achromatic microscope objective gives decent results.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 21, @12:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the C++,-CVE dept.

Herb Sutter has an interesting article on his blog about approaches to improve security in C++ and modifying the language to assist with stopping programming errors that lead to exploits.

There are two interesting insights. Firstly. most CVEs come from issues that could be dealt with with small changes to C++ that are being proposed.
The second is that even coding in languages with automatic memory allocation can still have massive vulnerabilties. Even code written in Rust has vulnerabilities so the language alone is not the whole problem.

In that context, I'll focus on C++ and try to:

  • highlight what needs attention (what C++'s problem "is"), and how we can get there by building on solutions already underway;
  • address some common misconceptions (what C++'s problem "isn't"), including practical considerations of MSLs; and
  • leave a call to action for programmers using all languages.

tl;dr: I don't want C++ to limit what I can express efficiently. I just want C++ to let me enforce our already-well-known safety rules and best practices by default, and make me opt out explicitly if that's what I want. Then I can still use fully modern C++... just nicer.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 20, @07:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the still-waiting-for-my-flying-car-too dept.

Government wants flying taxis to take off in 2 years:

The first flying taxi could take off in the UK by 2026 and become a regular sight in our skies two years later, if a government announcement goes to plan. The Future of Flight action plan, developed with the aerospace industry, also says drones and other flying vehicles will become more autonomous. It predicts that the first pilotless flying taxi will take off in 2030.

But experts say hurdles such as infrastructure and public acceptance need to be overcome first.

There are a number of different models, but most flying taxis look like a futuristic helicopter and can usually carry about five people. They are part of a family of vehicles called "eVTOLs" - which stands for electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. The technology for them exists now, but it is likely that the aircraft will start off as exclusive modes of transport - replacing expensive journeys currently done by helicopters.

The Department for Transport also plans to allow drones to fly beyond visual line of sight - meaning the person controlling the drone cannot see it in the air. Some of the uses of unmanned drones include transporting medical supplies, delivering post in rural areas and tracking down criminals on the run. Their use is still in early stages, but the plan suggests drone deliveries would be commonplace by 2027.

The biggest obstacles to getting flying taxis into the air are infrastructure and public perception, says Craig Roberts, head of drones, at consultancy firm PwC.

Last year, he co-authored a report on the topic, in collaboration with the government, on the viability of the technology.

[...] No other mini airports have been built or trialled since the demonstration two years ago. But according to the government plan, the first vertiport (airport for vertical vehicles) will be operational this year.

The UK's aerospace regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, is consulting on proposals for vertiports at existing aerodromes. New regulation would almost certainly need to be created if the government's aim of bringing in autonomous air taxis by 2030 is to be met.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 20, @02:32PM   Printer-friendly

Vegetation plays a vital role in regulating the percentage of precipitation reaching the ground to nourish the root systems of plants both in the canopy and undergrowth, which consequently supports the survival of the entire forest ecosystem. Water arrives to the ground via multiple mechanisms, including throughfall (water falling directly through the canopy) or stemflow (water flowing down stems and trunks), while some is intercepted by the canopy leaves and does not reach ground level.

New research, published in Water Resources Research, has focused on pour points, locations where water flowing under the branches detach. These are distinguished from the large drops falling from leaves, known as drip points.

A pour point is formed when the raindrops, initially intercepted by leaves or the top half of the branch, flow to the underside of branches, coalesce with other droplets to form a rivulet, but fall before becoming a part of stemflow.

The detachment of the rivulet can occur where multiple branches converge or where a single branch changes in angle, leading to a pour point. These are important as they considerably increase water received from the canopy to the forest floor at fixed points, thereby supporting enhanced infiltration of water to the ground.

The volume of water received at pour points is impacted by a number of factors, such as the structure of the branches, leaf surface area (foliation), and the volume of rainfall. The larger water droplets occurring at these points have more kinetic energy than normal rainfall, meaning that they create more pronounced dips in the soil upon impact, thus augmenting infiltration efficiency.

[...] Measuring the water content of soil directly below pour points, the research team found 20%–30% of the seasonal rainfall volume infiltrated to a depth of 1 m here, compared to just 5% in control test areas away from pour points. This makes pour points important zones for groundwater recharge and storage in the forest ecosystem, although in the study site one pour point was identified per ~30 m2, matching the distribution of banksia trees, being one pour point per tree on average.

This particular study site in Western Australia is important as it overlies a significant source of groundwater that supplies the population of Perth. Therefore, the ability of pour points to potentially recharge groundwater supplies at this site (and at others via other trees globally), is vital for supporting water resources management both for forests and humanity.

More information: Ashvath S. Kunadi et al, Introducing Pour Points: Characteristics and Hydrological Significance of a Rainfall‐Concentrating Mechanism in a Water‐Limited Woodland Ecosystem, Water Resources Research (2024). DOI: 10.1029/2023WR035458

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 20, @10:41AM   Printer-friendly

Just a brief update - but welcome news for a change.

After a long wait (and after a query to the IRS regarding the progress of our application), fliptop has received news verbally that we have been approved by the IRS for Not For Profit status. The essential paperwork should be with fliptop by the end of the week. Once it has been received we can then move ahead to create a company. Again, we cannot guess how long this process will take but it is the final step required before the community can take control of the site and its assets.

My grateful thanks to fliptop for his efforts.

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 20, @09:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the competition-is-a-sin dept.

Cisco acquires Splunk in $28 billion cybersecurity deal:

The merger will "revolutionize the way our customers leverage data to connect and protect every aspect of their organization," said Chuck Robbins, Cisco's chair and CEO, in a statement.

Networking giant Cisco acquired digital infrastructure company Splunk and says the merger will allow them to "supercharge" and revolutionize the way it wields artificial intelligence for its customers.

Cisco announced plans to acquire software company Splunk in September 2023 and announced the completion of the deal on Monday in a press release.

The acquisition of Splunk now makes Cisco one of the largest software companies in the world, Cisco said in the release.

"We will revolutionize the way our customers leverage data to connect and protect every aspect of their organization as we help power and protect the AI revolution," Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said in a statement.

[...] Cisco acquired Splunk for roughly $28 billion, or about $157 per share in cash, the companies said. Combined, Cisco and Splunk "can create new profitable revenue streams," they said.

Original Submission