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AI

Nvidia GPU-Powered Autonomous Car Teaches Itself To See And Steer (networkworld.com) 5

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World discussing Nvidia's project called DAVE2, where their engineering team built a self-driving car with one camera, one Drive-PX embedded computer and only 72 hours of training data: Neural networks and image recognition applications such as self-driving cars have exploded recently for two reasons. First, Graphical Processing Units (GPU) used to render graphics in mobile phones became powerful and inexpensive. GPUs densely packed onto board-level supercomputers are very good at solving massively parallel neural network problems and are inexpensive enough for every AI researcher and software developer to buy. Second, large, labeled image datasets have become available to train massively parallel neural networks implemented on GPUs to see and perceive the world of objects captured by cameras. The Nvidia team trained a convolutional neural network (CNN) to map raw pixels from a single front-facing camera directly to steering commands. Nvidia's breakthrough is the autonomous vehicle automatically taught itself by watching how a human drove, the internal representations of the processing steps of seeing the road ahead and steering the autonomous vehicle without explicitly training it to detect features such as roads and lanes.
The Almighty Buck

Manufacturing Jobs On Decline Around the World (ampproject.org) 39

Reader Koreantoast writes: The New York Times posted an interesting thought piece (paywalled, this link could help) on the changing nature of manufacturing globally and the impact it has on modern politics and economic development. Although manufacturing productivity has jumped tremendously over the last several decades, the overall global pool of manufacturing jobs is shrinking as automation and new industrial technologies has increased the production and supply of manufactured goods with fewer people at a rate faster than global demand can absorb. The analogy is the agricultural revolution of the last several centuries where greater amounts of food are being produced by fewer and fewer farmers, displacing many of them. How will industrialized nations manage the growing number of displaced, blue collar labor? Bigger impact globally is that the shrinking pool of manufacturing jobs globally is closing the traditional route of export-oriented manufacturing economy that many nations, particularly in East Asia, were able to use to lift their nations out of poverty. What happens to those nations that missed the boat?"The likelihood that we will get a manufacturing recovery is close to nil," Professor Stiglitz said. "We are more likely to have a smaller share of a shrinking pie."
Politics

Bernie Sanders' Second Life Headquarters Besieged by Trump-Supporting Swastikas (vice.com) 93

Wagner James Au, writing for Motherboard (edited and condensed):As Donald Trump continues to ride roughshod over much of the United States, there are multiple reports that Trumps' virtual fans are riding roughshod on Bernie Sanders' unofficial headquarters in Second Life as well. Sanders' spot is in the sim (Second Life region) of Caspoli, with a Bernie 2016 banner that can be seen from satellite. It's a Roman-themed hangout space in a peaceful meadow, where Bernie supporters often gather to share news of their favorite candidate. But lately, the place has been besieged by pro-Trump griefers. [...] During a Bernie rally in Second Life, Sanders support group member Macaria Wind goes on, Trump-supporting demons flew around Bernie's rally, endlessly typing "TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!" into text chat.
Open Source

Almost Two-Thirds of Software Companies Contributing To Open Source, Says Survey (networkworld.com) 12

Reader alphadogg writes: Open source's march toward preeminence in business software continued over the past year, according to a survey released by open source management provider Black Duck Software and venture capital firm North Bridge. Roughly two-thirds of respondents to the survey -- which was administered online and drew 1,300 respondents -- said that their companies encouraged developers to contribute to open-source projects, and a similar proportion said that they were actively engaged in doing so already. That's a 5% increase from the previous year's survey.
Google

Google CEO Predicts AI-Fueled Future (usatoday.com) 77

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says the next big evolution for technology is AI. "Looking to the future, the next big step will be for the very concept of the 'device' to fade away," Pichai wrote in Google's annual founders' letter. USA Today writes: His vision: Over time, computers, whatever shape they take, a mobile device in your hand or a mini computer on your wrist, "will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day." This marks the first time anyone other than founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have penned the annual letter outlining Google's mission. "For us, technology is not about the devices or the products we build. Those aren't the end-goals," Pichai wrote in the letter posted Thursday. "Technology is a democratizing force, empowering people through information. Google is an information company. It was when it was founded, and it is today."
Security

Office 365 Flaw Allowed Anyone To Log In To Almost Any Business Account (threatpost.com) 43

Reader msm1267 writes: A severe vulnerability in the way Microsoft Office 365 handles federated identities via SAML put an attacker in a position to have access to any account and data, including emails and files stored in the cloud-based service. Microsoft pushed through a mitigation to the service on Jan. 5, seven hours after being notified by researchers Yiannis Kakavas and Klemen Bratec. "The attack surface was quite big (Outlook Online, OneDrive, Skype for Business, OneNote -- depending on what the company has paid for in terms of licensing)," Kakavas and Bratec told Threatpost via email. "And a malicious user exploiting this vulnerability could have gained access to very sensitive private and company information (emails, internal documents etc. )." Office 365 users who had configured domains as federated were affected. The list includes British Airways, Microsoft, Vodafone, Verizon and many others, as mentioned in a report published late Wednesday.
Music

iTunes Turns 13 Today -- Continues To Be 'Awful' (qz.com) 182

An anonymous reader points us to a link on Quartz: On April 28, 2003, Apple started up a revolution. Enter the iTunes Music Store, unveiled with a proud flourish by a beaming Steve Jobs. It was a digital jukebox, a music distribution game-changer, a record store to end all record stores -- and it did, in fact, kill off a great number of those. [...] For 13 years -- 15 if you count the two years the program was just a file-storing service -- users have grumbled loudly about iTunes' unwieldy interface, its bloated features, its inability to simply get better. [...] Instead of trying to streamline the service over the years, Apple has opted to stuff an overwhelming number of new features -- movies, television shows, podcasts, mobile apps, and most recently, Apple Music -- into it.The report mentions the following issues with iTunes: space-sucking size, slowness, ugliness, bloatware, lack of online or social integration, a wonky back-end, music isn't even its priority. Marco Arment, who is best known for co-founding Tumblr, and creating Instapaper app, noted some development-end issues with iTunes in 2015. He wrote: [...] The iTunes Store back-end is a toxic hellstew of unreliability. Everything that touches the iTunes Store has a spotty record for me and almost every Mac owner I know. And the iTunes app itself is the toxic hellstew. iTunes has an impossible combination of tasks on its plate that cannot be done well. iTunes is the definition of cruft and technical debt. It was an early version of iTunes that demonstrated the first software bugs to Grace Hopper in 1946. Probably not coincidentally, some of iTunes' least reliable features are reliant on the iTunes Store back-end, including Genius from forever ago, iTunes Match more recently, and now, Apple Music.
Bitcoin

Steam Computer Gaming Network Now Accepting Bitcoin (fortune.com) 39

An anonymous reader shares an article on Fortune Magazine: The popular Steam computer game network has started accepting bitcoin in a move aimed at making it easier for players in countries like Brazil and China to make payments. Bitcoin transactions will be integrated into game shopping from Steam, which is owned by Valve Software and claims over 100 million users worldwide. Users will be able to use any bitcoin wallet to scan and pay for games or other items without revealing sensitive financial information via software from Bitpay.
Games

Atari Co-Founder: Mobile Games Make Me Want To Throw My Phone (theguardian.com) 60

Will Freeman, reporting for The Guardian (condensed): One industry veteran sees arcades and mobile gaming as almost indistinct. He is Nolan Bushnell, co-founder of Atari. Often referred to as the godfather of video games (a phrase he dislikes), he is just about to make his debut in mobile game development, having established a partnership with Dutch publisher Spil, where he will help deliver at least three as-yet-unnamed titles. "When you look at mobile and arcade gaming, they're identical," Bushnell says. "Mobile has some of the same game constraints for the player, and that 'easy to learn, and difficult to master' metric." [...] "Generally, a tremendous number of mobile games are poorly designed," he says. "They can be so focused on graphics that they forget they have to get the timing right, and they have to have proper scoring constructs. I have been so pissed off with some mobile games I've wanted to throw my phone, even if I'm only going to hurt my phone there, and not the game."
Businesses

Volvo Engineer Calls Out Tesla For Dangerous 'Wannabe' Autopilot System (jalopnik.com) 172

An anonymous reader shares an article on Jalopnik: Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot system has been impressing everyone from consumers to journalists, and even other industry experts and executives. But now a Volvo engineer has called Tesla's system out, claiming it's a dangerous "wannabe" autonomous technology. Trent Victor, senior technical leader of crash avoidance for Volvo, had quite a few choice words to say about Tesla's Autopilot system in a recent interview with The Verge, claiming the electric automaker was touting what is essentially a rudimentary semi-autonomous technology as being far more capable than it actually is. Victor fears that Autopilot "gives you the impression that it's doing more than it is." He went on to call Tesla's system an "unsupervised wannabe."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Microsoft's Windows 10 Upgrade Screen Interrupts Meteorologist's Live Forecast (hothardware.com) 181

Reader MojoKid writes: If you're a Windows 7 or Windows 8 user who hasn't yet upgraded to Windows 10, you've probably been bombarded at some point by Microsoft to upgrade, and not always at the most convenient times. Such was also the case with one meteorologist who saw a Windows 10 upgrade prompt show up during a very inopportune time -- right in the middle of a live forecast. Metinka Slater, a meteorologist with Des Moines CBS affiliate KCCI 8, was going about her business, giving viewers a rundown of the 12-hour rainfall totals in the area when a nagging Windows 10 upgrade screen popped up, just like it has for thousands of everyday Windows users. But rather than get flustered or give into Microsoft's demands, Slater laughed off the annoyance. "Ahh, Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10. What should I do?" Slater joked. "Don't you love when that pops up?"From the looks of it, either the concerned computer is running Windows 98, or is using classic theme.
Google

HP Announces All-Metal Chromebook 13: Thinner Than MacBook Pro, Costs $800 Less 173

On Thursday, HP unveiled a new Chromebook 13. Designed in collaboration with Google, the Chromebook 13 sports an all-metal body and is merely 13mm thick while weighing 1.29kg. It sports a 13-inch display with 3200x1800 pixels resolution and is powered by Intel's sixth-gen Core M processor, which comes coupled with up to 16GB of RAM. There's a USB Type-C port as well, and the company is also promising up to 11.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. The retail price of the HP Chromebook starts at $499, and will launch in the US later this month.
Security

Cisco Finds Backdoor Installed On 12 Million PCs (securityweek.com) 64

Reader wiredmikey writes: Security researchers at Cisco have come across a piece of software that installed backdoors on 12 million computers around the world. Researchers determined that the application, installed with administrator rights, was capable not only of downloading and installing other tools, such as a known scareware called System Healer, but also of harvesting personal information. The software, which exhibits adware and spyware capabilities, was developed by a French online advertising company called Tuto4PC. The "features" have led Cisco Talos to classify the Tuto4PC software as a "full backdoor capable of a multitude of undesirable functions on the victim machine." Tuto4PC said its network consisted of nearly 12 million PCs in 2014, which could explain why Cisco's systems detected the backdoor on 12 million devices. An analysis of a sample set revealed infections in the United States, Australia, Japan, Spain, the UK, France and New Zealand.Tuto4PC has received flak from many over the years, including French regulators.
Bug

American Samoa Domain Registry Was Exposing Client Data Since the Mid-1990s (softpedia.com) 17

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Softpedia: A British security researcher that goes online only by the name of InfoSec Guy revealed today that American Samoa domain registry ASNIC was using an outdated domain name management system that contained a bug allowing anyone to view the personal details of any .as domain owner. The researcher also claims that anyone knowing of this bug would have been able to edit and delete any .as domain, just by altering the ASNIC domain info URL. Some of the big brands that own .as domains include Opera, Flickr, Twitter, McDonald's, British Gas, Bose, Adidas, the University of Texas, and many link shortening services. This flawed system has been online since the mid-1990s. The researcher contacted ASNIC after discovering the flaw at the end of January 2016, but email exchanges with the domain registry were scarce and confusing, with the registry issuing a statement today denying the incident and calling the allegations "inaccurate, misleading and sexed-up to the max," after previously acknowledging and fixing the security flaws.
Iphone

Intel Wants To Eliminate The Headphone Jack And Replace It With USB-C (9to5mac.com) 319

An anonymous reader writes: With rumors circulating about how Apple may do away with the 3.5 mm headphone jack on its upcoming iPhone 7, Intel has shared a similar desire, citing "industry singling a strong desire to move from analog to digital." Intel believes USB-C is the future audio jack. They believe USB-C has more potential than the 3.5mm audio jack as it allows users to add additional smart features to headphones in the future. For instance, a future pair of headphones could monitor one's pulse or inner-ear temperature for fitness tracking, something that could only be possible if the headphones were connected to a smartphone via a USB-C cable. What's also worth mentioning [quoted from 9to5Mac]: USB-C already supports analog audio transfer through sideband pins simplifying the engineering steps necessary to swap 3.5mm with USB-C in device designs. In the second quarter, Intel should have a finalized USB-C standard for digital audio transfer. Intel does note that the transition from analog to digital will be expensive as the headphones have to include amplifiers and DACs, but scale will offset the early costs over time.
Crime

Child Porn Suspect Jailed Indefinitely For Refusing To Decrypt Hard Drives (arstechnica.com) 620

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A Philadelphia man suspected of possessing child pornography has been in jail for seven months and counting after being found in contempt of a court order demanding that he decrypt two password-protected hard drives. The suspect, a former Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, has not been charged with any child porn crimes. Instead, he remains indefinitely imprisoned in Philadelphia's Federal Detention Center for refusing to unlock two drives encrypted with Apple's FileVault software in a case that once again highlights the extent to which the authorities are going to crack encrypted devices. The man is to remain jailed "until such time that he fully complies" with the decryption order. The government successfully cited a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel (PDF) the suspect to decrypt two hard drives it believes contain child pornography. The All Writs Act was the same law the Justice Department asserted in its legal battle with Apple.
Businesses

Dyson Launches New 'Supersonic' Hair Dryer To Revolutionize Hair Care (nbcnews.com) 206

An anonymous reader writes: Dyson has a launched a hair dryer with a design language similar to that of its bladeless fans. The $399 hair dryer is four years in the making, involving 103 engineers, over 1,000 miles of test hair, and a $71 million investment -- the Dyson Supersonic is being touted as "the hairdryer rethought" by its inventor Sir James Dyson. "We realized that hair dryers can cause extreme heat damage to hair," said Dyson in a press release. "So I challenged Dyson engineers to really understand the science of hair and develop our version of a hair dryer, which we think solves these problems." The hair dryer can be reserved online and will be sold exclusively at Sephora for $399 this fall.
HP

With Carly Fiorina As Running Mate, Cruz's H-1B Stance Now In Question (computerworld.com) 293

dcblogs quotes a report from Computerworld: In 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz emerged as one of the Senate's top H-1B visa supporters, and argued for a 500% visa cap increase. But during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Cruz had a conversion. Cruz's presidential platform proposed a $110,000 minimum wage for visa workers, among other restrictions, as a way of ending their use as low-cost labor. The move marked a complete turnabout on the H-1B issue. Cruz's decision Wednesday to add former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate if he wins the nomination, may make his newly found H-1B beliefs a hard sell. At HP, Fiorina was a prominent supporter of the offshore outsourcing model, said Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University. "To pump up profits, she was an early adopter of the practice, which given HP's status as a leading Silicon Valley firm, pushed other firms to adopt offshoring," said Hira. As offshoring gained, Fiorina played a leading role in defending globalization. To make her point, in 2004, Fiorina said: "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore," reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
Cloud

Microsoft Buys Into DNA Data Storage (ieee.org) 78

the_newsbeagle writes: More than 2.5 exabytes of data is created every day, and some experts estimate that 90% of all data in the world today was created in the last two years. Clearly, storing all this data is becoming an issue. One idea is DNA data storage, in which digital files are converted into the genetic code of four nucleotides (As, Cs, Gs, and Ts). Microsoft just announced that it's testing out this idea, getting synthetic bio company Twist Bioscience to produce 10 million strands of DNA that encode some mystery file the company provided. Using DNA for long-term data storage is attractive because it's durable and efficient. For example, scientists can read the genome from a woolly mammoth hair dating from 20,000 years ago.
Network

Comcast Is Raising Its Data Caps From 300GB To 1TB (arstechnica.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast has announced today it will be raising its monthly data cap of 300GB to 1TB beginning June 1st. They will however charge more to customers who want unlimited data. After June 1st, less people will need to buy unlimited data from the company. Previously, users were charged an extra $30 to $35 a month for unlimited data but now they will have to pay an additional $50 for unlimited data. "All of the data plans in our trial markets will move from a 300 gigabyte data plan to a terabyte by June 1st, regardless of the speed," Comcast's announcement today said. The reason for the change? Customers are exceeding the 300GB cap. In late 2013, Comcast said only 2 percent of its customers used more than 300GB of data a month. That number was up to 8 percent in late 2015.

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