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DroneClash Turns Counter Drone Research Into a Sport

As drones get cheaper and easier to control, security and safety issues related to their operation are becoming more important than ever. While governments are working on drone regulations, and some companies are already selling countermeasures to large organizations, a group of enthusiasts and experts recently decided to turn counter-drone research into a spectator sport. Over the weekend, nine international teams entered a battle to "bring down the rival Queen drone" that was broadcast on the internet, but anti-drone contest didn't stop there. DroneClash organized an event encouraging white-hack hackers to compromise commercial drones, also also hosted a counter drone tech expo. The organizers posted the entire live stream of the competition on their YouTube channel, and you can check out the recap below.

There is not yet a silver bullet for the authorities to safely and effectively down a drone. However, by bringing together the bright minds and enthusiasm of drone developers and hobbyists with the counter-drone industry and the end-users, counter-drone measures can be tested and fine-tuned. In the words of the University's Kevin van Hecke, one of the brains behind the competition: "The solution we are working towards is some sort of mechanical eagle. This year were saw DroneClash competitors replicate the flying speeds, and ramming force of birds of prey. But we still have big steps to take in terms of grasping and safely depositing a rogue drone. We will continue to organise future DroneClash events and evolve the rules to push counter-drone innovation further, faster."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 8:34 AM (CDT)

Get Ready for Targeted Ads on Your Smart TV

Disney, Comcast, NBCUniversal, and other top media companies have teamed up with VIZIO for a new standard that will bring targeted ads to television viewers. VIZIO, which recently lost $2.2 million after being caught tracking and selling viewing data using software on its Smart TVs, claims targeted ads, which are "relevant" to the household, will "drastically enhance" the viewing experience.

The companies are calling themselves a consortium, and they've dubbed this "Project OAR," or Open Addressable Ready. Once developed, the new, open standard will make it possible for all connected TV companies to sell targeted ads in scheduled and on-demand programs. While this will theoretically make ads more successful and therefore more valuable, it also means viewers' data will be shared with third parties. That raises the usual data privacy concerns.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 2:45 PM (CDT)

Astronauts From Failed Launch Will Return to the ISS Today

Last October, three astronauts aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket survived an explosive, mid flight failure. The ancient, Soviet-designed Soyuz rockets are notoriously reliable, with only 1 other recorded manned launch failure in 1975, but the 2018 incident put the future of the International Space Station in jeopardy, as it was, and still is, the only launch platform deemed reliable enough to haul astronauts to the ISS. Today, at 2:14 PM Central Time, two of the three astronauts that survived the original failure are scheduled to try again. In spite of an abort sequence that subjected them to nearly 8G, the astronauts don't seem worried at all. SpaceFlightNow is covering the event in real time, and NASA's official YouTube channel will stream the launch later today, which you can see below:

Ovchinin and Hague took off aboard the Soyuz MS-10/56S spacecraft on Oct. 11. But two minutes after liftoff, one of the rocket's four strap-on boosters failed to separate cleanly, triggering a catastrophic failure. The Soyuz spacecraft's abort system immediately kicked in, propelling the crew ship to safety for a parachute descent to Earth. The problem with the normally reliable Soyuz booster was quickly identified and corrected and the station's current crew - Soyuz MS-11/57S commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian astronaut-physician David Saint-Jacques and NASA flight engineer Anne McClain - enjoyed a problem-free ride to orbit Dec. 3. Speaking with CBS News by satellite from Moscow last month, Hague said he continued to have full confidence in the safety and reliability of the Soyuz. "I'm 100 percent confident," he said. "In the aftermath of the launch abort, watching the response from the Russians, the transparency and the way they approach that in terms of sharing their data and resolving the issues, it was impressive. The strength of the international cooperation was tested, and it's as strong as it's ever been."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 12:05 PM (CDT)

Tesla Crashes into River, Owner Claims It Accelerated on Its Own

In yet another alleged case of demonic Tesla quirkiness, a Chinese couple in Shanghai claims their Model S lost its mind and accelerated into a river near a Supercharger station with them in it. The owner, Xiao Chen, told reporters he was stepping on the brakes but the vehicle, unexpectedly, "rushed out of control" instead. Electrek suggests they may not deserve the benefit of the doubt, as Tesla has "safeguards to prevent an automatic system to enable a sudden acceleration." Similar incidents in the past also mostly involved "user error."

"...the owner Xiao Chen had just been rescued ashore, and the gray Tesla was still lying in the river and was soaked in the water. Xiao Chen is still in shock, he told reporters: I was from the beginning stepping on the brakes, and the car suddenly rushed out of control! It turned out that Xiao Chen and his wife drove the car to school in the morning of the incident. After the delivery, they came to the Tesla Supercharger station to prepare for charging. According to Xiao Chen, he kept driving very slowly, stepping on the brakes, but when he got there, the car was out of control."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 3:45 PM (CDT)

Whole Foods Cuts Workers' Hours after Amazon Introduces Minimum Wage

Amazon’s $15 minimum-wage increase didn’t turn out so well for Whole Foods workers: one employee claims the retailer has negated wage gains by reducing schedule shifts across many stores, cutting a lot of work. "My hours went from 30 to 20 a week. We just have to work faster to meet the same goals in less time."

The Illinois-based worker explained that once the $15 minimum wage was enacted, part-time employee hours at their store were cut from an average of 30 to 21 hours a week, and full-time employees saw average hours reduced from 37.5 hours to 34.5 hours. The worker provided schedules from 1 November to the end of January 2019, showing hours for workers in their department significantly decreased as the department’s percentage of the entire store labor budget stayed relatively the same.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 12:20 PM (CDT)

NVIDIA Ending Driver Support for 3D Vision, Mobile Kepler-Series GeForce GPUs

NVIDIA has published two new support entries revealing the fate of its 3D Vision technology and Kepler notebook GPUs. After Release 418 in April 2019, GeForce Game Ready Drivers will no longer support NVIDIA 3D Vision. ("Those looking to utilize 3D Vision can remain on a Release 418 driver.") Critical security updates for mobile Kepler-series GPUs will also cease by April 2020.

Game Ready Driver upgrades, including performance enhancements, new features, and bug fixes, will be available for systems utilizing mobile Maxwell, Pascal, and Turing-series GPUs for notebooks, effective April 2019. Critical security updates will be available on systems utilizing mobile Kepler-series GPUs through April 2020. Game Ready Driver upgrades will continue to be available for desktop Kepler, Maxwell, Pascal, Volta, and Turing-series GPUs.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 10:10 AM (CDT)

NVIDIA: RTX GPUs, High-Refresh-Rate Monitors Can Improve Your Kill-Death Ratio

If only to convince gamers to upgrade their GPUs and displays, NVIDIA has published new data supporting the obvious idea that better hardware improves player performance in Battle Royale titles such as Fortnite and Apex Legends. Essentially, players who can manage 144 fps score significantly higher than those limited to 60 fps: the company’s graphs suggest its RTX cards can increase K/D ratio by as much as 53%, while playing on 240 Hz and 144 Hz monitors can improve K/D ratio by 34% and 51%, respectively.

NVIDIA used more than a million sample points collected via anonymous GeForce Experience data, and then analyzed the data (which means no AMD cards). Specifically, NVIDIA is looking at player performance in two popular battle royale games: PUBG and Fortnite. How do you quantify player performance? NVIDIA looked at kill/death ratio and matched that up with number of hours played per week, then finally broke that down into graphics hardware and monitor refresh rate. NVIDIA limited its analysis to 1080p, which provides for the highest refresh rates and also serves to normalize things a bit.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 10:05 AM (CST)

Highlights of the Microsoft HoloLens 2 Presentation at Mobile World Conference

CNET has released a highlights video of the Microsoft HoloLens 2 presentation at the Mobile World Conference. The video shows some of the forward thinking solutions that Microsoft engineers have been working on for years to make working with holograms feel like interacting with objects in the real world.

Microsoft says the new and improved HoloLens 2 makes manipulating holograms feel like interacting with objects in the real world.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 06, 2019 7:51 PM (CST)

Cryptocurrency Mining Slowdown Could Lead to GPU Price Cuts

Industry analysts recently claimed that AMD, Nvidia, and their manufacturing and retail partners are sitting on tons of unsold GPUs they made during the cryptocurrency mining craze, and now, Digitimes' industry sources say that they've begun cutting prices to get rid of them. More specifically, the sources claim that the RX 580, GTX 1070, and GTX 1060 are getting significant price drops, which may adversely impact the profit margins of GPU makers and sellers in the coming months.

The inventory digestion process may not end until mid- to late-2019, the sources noted... Taiwan-based first-tier players have mostly seen losses from their graphics card businesses for the past two months. Although Nvidia has been planning new products for the entry-level to mid-range segments including GeForce RTX 2060, GTX 1660Ti, and the upcoming GTX 1660 and GTX 1650, to maintain its profitability, graphics card players are only expected to earn little from the new cards. With Nvidia releasing new cards and cutting prices to clear out its previous-generation inventory, AMD is currently under heavy pressure to lower its quotes, while players selling AMD-based cards are also facing strong competition from Nvidia-based ones.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 06, 2019 9:46 AM (CST)

Suicide Instructions Found Spliced into Kids' Cartoons on YouTube, YouTube Kids

YouTube continues its downward spiral: a contributing author for pedimom.com, a pediatrician-run parenting blog, recently discovered that tips for committing suicide were appearing in children’s cartoons on YouTube and the YouTube Kids app. In one video, a man who "resembles Internet personality Joji (formerly Filthy Frank)" shows up on screen and simulates cutting his wrist. "’Remember, kids, sideways for attention, longways for results,’ he says and then walks off screen. The video then quickly flips back to the cartoon."

"I am disturbed, I am saddened, I am disgusted," the physician wrote. "But I am also relieved that I was there to see this video with my own eyes, so that I could take the appropriate actions to protect my family." Those actions included deleting the YouTube Kids app and forever banning it from the house. That particular video was later taken down from YouTube Kids after the doctor reported it to YouTube. However, parents have since discovered that several other cartoons contain information about how to commit suicide, including the same spliced-in video clip.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 03, 2019 1:55 PM (CST)

Comcast Sets Default Xfinity Mobile PIN to 0000 and Fraudsters Jump for Joy

According to the Washington Post, Comcast extolled the advantages of setting the default PIN on Xfinity Mobile phone service accounts to 0000 as a convenience for its customers. "Comcast's help site for switching carriers suggests this is to make things easier: 'We don't require you to create an account PIN, so you don't need to provide that information to your new carrier.'" Comcast's policy combined with information garnered from past non-Comcast data breaches made life much easier for hackers and identity theft fraudsters. Xfinity Mobile customer Larry Whitted detailed his experience of someone hijacking his phone number, porting it to a new account on another network, and committing identity fraud. The unscrupulous thief added Samsung Pay to the new account and Whitted's credit card. Then he used it to buy a computer from an Apple Store. Other Xfinity Mobile customers have reported the same issues. Comcast says it is working on a PIN-based solution.

After I contacted Comcast, it said it was making a fix. "We're aware of a very small number of customers impacted by this issue, but even having one customer impacted by this is one too many," a spokeswoman said in a statement. New measures that make it harder to steal phone numbers took effect shortly before I published this column. Comcast said it is also "working aggressively towards a PIN-based solution." Comcast said a fraudster still needs several pieces of customer information to port a number, including the obscure Xfinity Mobile account number that it usually requires a password to access. "We believe this has only affected customers whose passwords might have been included in previous, non-Comcast related breaches," the spokeswoman said.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 01, 2019 1:19 PM (CST)

Intel Teases a "Hybrid" Mobile SoC

At CES 2019, Intel previewed their upcoming "Lakefield" SoC. Unlike Intel's previous mobile designs, Lakefield uses Intel's Foveros 3D stacking technology to integrate various IPs and system memory into a diminutive 12mm x 12mm package, and mixes 4 10nm Atom cores with a single 10nm Sunny Cove core. Unfortunately, Intel didn't specify how, or if, all the logical blocks are separated at the time. My take from CES was that the small Atom Cores, the big Sunny Cove core, and the various I/O blocks would all share the same 10nm die, but the wording in Intel's latest promo video makes that assumption more ambiguous, and manufacturing different logical blocks on different processes like AMD does for their 7nm Epyc CPUs is certainly something Intel is capable of. Either way, Lakefield is likely a window into the future of Intel CPU designs, and I fully expect the chipmaker to eventually take the same "modular" approach in higher end end desktop and server CPUs. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip, and check out the latest promo video below:

This hybrid CPU architecture enables combining different pieces of IP that might have previously been discrete into a single product with a smaller motherboard footprint, which allows OEMs more flexibility for thin and light form factor design. Lakefield is expected to be in production this year.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas February 26, 2019 9:37 AM (CST)