Thursday, 19 January 2017

The $50,000 racing simulator: Cheaper than crashing the real thing

Four short links: 18 January 2017

Continuous Delivery, Three Machines, Chinese Astroturfing, and The Developer Tools Market

  1. Screwdriver -- Yahoo has open-sourced their continuous delivery.
  2. The Three Machines (Brad Feld) -- (1) the Product machine, (2) the Customer machine, and (3) the Company machine. An interesting suggestion for organizational design, which SGTM.
  3. How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts -- researchers studying the Chinese government's paid social media commentators have determined their purpose is to distract, not debate. We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims, we show that the Chinese regime's strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to regularly distract the public and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China, the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime. (via Marginal Revolution)
  4. RethinkDB Post-Mortem -- fantastic analysis of why the company failed, from a founder. our users clearly thought of us as an open source developer tools company, because that's what we really were. Which turned out to be very unfortunate, because the open source developer tools market is one of the worst markets one could possibly end up in. Thousands of people used RethinkDB, often in business contexts, but most were willing to pay less for the lifetime of usage than the price of a single Starbucks coffee (which is to say, they weren't willing to pay anything at all). This wasn't because the product was so good people didn't need to pay for support, or because developers don't control budgets, or because of failure of capitalism. The answer is basic microeconomics. Developers love building developer tools, often for free. So, while there is massive demand, the supply vastly outstrips it. This drives the number of alternatives up, and the prices down to zero.

Continue reading Four short links: 18 January 2017.



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You Can Now Queue Google Searches When You’re Offline

Google is rolling out an update to the Google app for Android. This update means you can now queue web searches even when you’re offline. The idea is to enable people with spotty network coverage to still use Google all day, every day, regardless of their network coverage. Before this update, if you tried to search the web using the Google app, you would need to be connected to the internet. Now, if you’re not connected to the internet at the time, the Google app will retain any information you have inputted until it’s able to complete the request. When...

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How Isaac Asimov Avoided "Getting Stuck" While Working

When you’ve hit a wall while working on a project, there’s no sense in banging your head against it. Here’s how Isaac Asimov, the prolific science fiction author and science writer, worked his way through creative blocks.

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Twitter Just Sold Its Developer Platform To Google

Google has acquired a part of Twitter -- the part that isn't about tweets. Twitter's mobile developer platform Fabric will become part of Google, both companies announced Wednesday. From a report: Acquired by Twitter in 2014, Fabric is "a modular mobile platform" designed to help app developers improve the "stability, distribution, revenue and identity" of their products, according to Twitter's blog post. Everything from the ability to natively embed tweets in other apps to signing in with your Twitter credentials were made possible by Fabric. Now that it's been reacquired, Fabric will merge with Google's Firebase development platform. "We quickly realized that our missions are the same -- helping mobile teams build better apps, understand their users, and grow their businesses," the Fabric team wrote in its announcement. "Fabric and Firebase operate mobile platforms with unique strengths in the market today." And if you're an existing Fabric customer, don't worry, the platform will continue to function. You'll just need to agree to the new terms of service, which will be available once the deal is completed.
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Friday, 13 January 2017

OpenCV 3.2 Computer Vision Stack Released

A big update to the Open-Source Computer Vision library was quietly released just before Christmas...

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YouTube 'Super Chat' comments are a new way to support livestreams

Making yourself heard in a livestream chatroom can be nearly impossible -- on a busy stream, dozens of messages can scroll by every second. How do you get your favorite YouTuber to notice you? Starting today on select channels, you can pay for it. Super Chat is a new YouTube live feature that lets users pay to pin messages to the top of a chatbox for up to five hours.

Adding a Super Chat is easy: users just have to click the dollar sign in the web chat interface or Android app (iOS support is coming later) and pay to have their comment featured. The more you pay, the longer your chat message sticks. At least part of that payment is going directly to the creators, too -- giving fans a new way to support their favorite channels. Think of it as YouTube's version of Twitch Cheering, but without animated emoji.

Right now, the feature is only available on select channels, but Google plans to roll it out to more users by the end of the month.

Source: YouTube



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Nintendo Switch won me over with weird, glorious games

Professionally designed ransomware Spora might be the next big thing

Security researchers have found a new ransomware program dubbed Spora that can perform strong offline file encryption and brings several innovations to the ransom payment model. The malware has targeted Russian-speaking users so far, but its authors have also created an English version of their decryption portal, suggesting they will likely expand their attacks to other countries soon.



Read the full article here by Cryptography News

Four short links: 13 January 2017

CSV Conference, Autonomous Paper Planes, Test Wisely, and Some Silliness

  1. CSV Conference -- A community conference for data makers everywhere, featuring stories about data sharing and data analysis from science, journalism, government, and open source.
  2. Disposable Paper Drones -- an autonomous drone made out of cardboard that can fly twice the distance of any fixed-range aircraft because it’s disposable. The drone only goes one way. Star Simpson's project at OtherLab.
  3. Engineering War Stories -- Tests aren’t free. Be economical. We had a TDA (Test Driven Apocalypse) where our CI builds had crept up to 20 minutes, tests were failing randomly, and development speed was at an all-time low. It was extremely demoralizing waiting 15-20 minutes and getting a random test failure. We called it The Roulette.
  4. The Best Hacker News Conspiracy Theory Ever -- A few nights ago, over a liberal quantity of beers, my friends and I came up with our latest nonsensical conspiracy theory.... This is wonderful fun.

Continue reading Four short links: 13 January 2017.



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Google Announces "Draco" For 3D Graphics Compression

Google's Chrome Media team has developed Draco as an open-source compression library designed for 3D graphics...

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Cinder – A Powerful, Intuitive Toolbox

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The dream of Ara

VentureBeat has a great, in-depth sourced look at the rise of and fall of Ara, Google's modular phone project. One paragraph in particular stands out to me. "One of the modules that we were working on was basically like a tiny aquarium for your phone," said the source. "It was a little tiny biome that would go inside of a module and it would have a microscope on the bottom part, and it would have live tardigrades and algae - some people call them water bears. They are the tiniest living organism. We had this idea to build a tardigrade module and we'd build a microscope with it. So you'd have this app on your phone and you could essentially look at the tardigrades up close and watch them floating around." Brooklyn-based art, design, and technology agency Midnight Commercial conceived the idea, and was commissioned by Google to build it, demonstrating the depth of what developers could create. If the people working on Ara had the guts to come up with and actually build things like this, they were on the right track. This is exactly the kind of crazy, outlandish stuff that would be a perfect fit and marketing gimmick for a crazy, outlandish product like Ara. I am incredibly sad that Ara has been cancelled. I realise full well it would never be the kind of massive product like the Galaxy series or the iPhone, but I don't care - I just really, really like the idea, the concept, and the possibilities, mass appeal be damned.

Read the full article here by OSNews

New platform detects and blocks attacks using behavior patterns

Traditional security solutions rely on detecting an attack based on existing information, which allows zero-day threats to slip through the net. Israel-based Nyotron is launching a new generation of its PARANOID security platform designed to block attacks before they occur, regardless of threat type or method used to access the network. It works by mapping and understanding what normal computer behavior looks like and what to do when suspicious behavior tries to damage data on an endpoint. Once implemented, the software can monitor system calls for normal, suspicious or malicious behavior attempts. This means that regardless of the type of… [Continue Reading]


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DOD successfully tests terrifying swarm of 104 micro-drones

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Uber Admits To Self-driving Car 'Problem' in Bike Lanes As Safety Concerns Mount

Uber has admitted that there is a "problem" with the way autonomous vehicles cross bike lanes, raising serious questions about the safety of cyclists days after the company announced it would openly defy California regulators over self-driving vehicles. From a report on The Guardian: An Uber spokeswoman said on Monday that engineers were working to fix a flaw in the programming that advocates feared could have deadly consequences for cyclists. Uber began piloting its self-driving vehicles in its home town of San Francisco last week, despite state officials' declaration that the ride-share company needed special permits to test its technology. On day one, numerous autonomous vehicles -- which have a driver in the front seat who can take control -- were caught running red lights and committing a range of traffic violations. Despite threats of legal action from the department of motor vehicles (DMV) and California's attorney general, Kamala Harris, Uber refused to back down on Friday, claiming its rejection of government authority was "an important issue of principle."
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Morgan Freeman To Voice Mark Zuckerberg's Jarvis

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently demoed his homemade artificial intelligence assistant Jarvis for Fast Company, and while their report didn't mention anything specific about the assistant's synthesized voice at the time, we have now learned that Morgan Freeman will be the voice behind Jarvis. Robert Downey Jr. originally volunteered to be the new voice of Jarvis under certain conditions, but Zuckerberg decided to let the public weigh in on Facebook. With more than 50,000 comments, Morgan Freeman emerged victorious. USA Today reports: Zuckberg told Fast Company he called Freeman and said: "Hey, I posted this thing, and...thousands of people want you to be the voice. Will you do it?รข(TM)" Freeman told Zuckerberg: "Yeah, sure." Of course, Freeman has other starring voice roles in the tech world. He's one of the celebrity voices on Google's navigation app Waze. Facebook has not disclosed whether Freeman is getting paid, according to Fast Company.
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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Intel, Microsoft Bring Merged Reality To Life

Through a new initiative, called Project EVO, we are harnessing our collective innovation to showcase what is uniquely possible with the PC and, together, set the course for the future. We believe that computing must evolve to become capable of even more unbelievable things, including smarter voice interaction, virtual and merged reality experiences for all, more powerful gaming, strengthened security and identity protection, and true always-connected computing. This is at the very heart of what we do at Intel: We make amazing experiences possible through technology. With Intel architecture, these experiences come to life across the broadest range of devices – spanning the growing Internet of Things to monster gaming rigs, to always-connected sleek notebooks and versatile 2 in 1s. And, in a world of over 15 million Windows desktop applications, our three decades of application compatibility on the Windows platform ensures that customers will the see reliability, performance and battery life that they expect across all form factors. Comments

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Netflix Keeping Bandwidth Usage Low By Encoding Its Video With VP9 and H.264/AVC Codecs

Netflix announced last week that it is getting offline video downloads support. The company has since shared that it is using VP9 video compression codec to ensure that the file sizes don't weigh a lot. An anonymous reader shares an article on Slashgear (edited): For streaming content, Netflix largely relies on H.264/AVC to reduce the bandwidth, but for downloading content, it uses VP9 encoding. VP9 can allow better quality videos for the same amount of data needed to download. The challenge is that VP9 isn't supported by all streaming providers -- it is supported on Android devices and via the Chrome browser. So to get around that lack of support on iOS, Netflix is offering downloads in H.264/AVC High whereas streams are encoded in H.264/AVC Main on such devices. Netflix chooses the optimal encoding format for each title on its service after finding, for instance, that animated films are easier to encode than live-action. Netflix says that H.264 High encoding saves 19% bandwidth compared to other encoding standards while VP9 saves 36%.
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