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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."

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

Pilots Now Spend More Time Learning Automated Systems than Hands-On Flying

The Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes have reignited debate over the potential risks of automation in aircraft and how it may hinder human competence, but a New York Times story suggests many new pilots are at the mercy of technology regardless: interviews with pilots and instructors indicate many are less skilled at manual control because of an increased focus on automated systems, turning them into system operators rather than pilots. "They may not exactly know or recognize quickly enough what is happening to the aircraft, and by the time they figure it out, it may be too late."

"The automation in the aircraft, whether it’s a Boeing or an Airbus, has lulled us into a sense of security and safety," said Kevin Hiatt, a former Delta Air Lines pilot who later ran flight safety for JetBlue. Pilots now rely on autopilot so often, "they become a systems operator rather than a stick-and-rudder pilot." In recent years, the Federal Aviation Administration has advised airlines to encourage pilots to fly manually when appropriate, among other policies intended to improve manual skills.

Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 12:50 PM (CDT)

Huawei Caught Using DSLR Shots in P30 Marketing

Some eagle eyed readers over at GSMArena recently discovered that Huawei used professional DLSR shots to market the periscope zoom camera on the Huawei P30. Much like Samsung's fake Galaxy advertisements from last year, the posters weren't marked as DSLR shots at first, and they were clearly implied to be shots from the P30, but the Weibo photos were seemingly updated with disclaimers after various media outlets started catching on. In an official statement, Huawei claims the photos "are only intended to hint at the unique new features."

We've been made aware that there might have been some misunderstanding regarding our recent HUAWEI P30 Series teaser posters. We would like to reiterate that those are, in fact, only teaser posters, and are only intended to hint at the unique new features that will come with the HUAWEI P30 Series. Huawei has acquired the licenses to the original images and the posters are artistic renditions of said features only. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the media for their interest in our posters. We have much to announce in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned!

Posted by alphaatlas March 13, 2019 8:26 AM (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."

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

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

YouTube continues its downward spiral: a contributing author for, 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.

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

Beamdog is "Looking Into" Neural Network Texture Upscaling

Canadian game developer Beamdog is the studio behind the PC remasters of classic RPGs like Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Planescape: Torment, and Neverwinter Nights. The company recently partnered with Skybound Games to bring the remasters to consoles, and, according to a recent blog post, they aren't done with the PC versions of the the games either. The studio said they've "explored the possibility" of neural network upscaling in their Infinity Engine Enhanced Edition games, though they haven't committed to it yet. While they didn't go into specifics either, I assume they're talking about enhancing in-game textures, as ESRGAN and similar algorithms can't be applied to 3D models and are too slow for anything that has to be done in real time. This is (presumably) the same technique modders are using to enhance textures in Morrowind and the classic Final Fantasy games, and I've personally seen tons of neural network upscaling work being done in Skyrim, Metroid Prime, and other game modding communities. Thanks to /u/rhiyo on on the /r/GameUpscale subreddit for the tip.

We've explored the possibility of Catmull-Rom Bicubic scaling, as well as as a few other solutions for scaling (eg. ESRGAN scaling) for the Infinity Engine Enhanced Editions, but haven't pulled the trigger yet on implementing either. We received a number of questions about UI for the Infinity Engine Enhanced Editions games and our plans regarding it going forward. Now that the console releases are announced, we can share that we've been doing extensive updates to our UI system that could very possibly end up paying dividends for the PC versions into the future. For the time being, however, all of the UI work we're doing is centered squarely around the console versions of the games, so any changes to the PC UI won't happen for a while.

Posted by alphaatlas February 22, 2019 12:40 PM (CST)

India Antitrust Commission is "Looking Into" Google Accusations

After a long investigation, Google was slapped with a $5 billion dollar fine from the European Union over anti-competitive practices last year. Now, according to a recent report from Reuters, the same thing might be happening in India. One of Reuters' four sources "with direct knowledge of the matter" said this investigation "Is on the lines of the EU case, but at a preliminary stage." The publication mentions that Google got hit with a relatively meager $19 million dollar fine for "search bias" in India, but that Google appealed the casing, saying it could "cause it 'irreparable' harm and reputational loss." In other words, Google might be worried about more than just the fine in this particular investigation. A separate report said that activists are calling on the Indian government to summon the heads of various tech companies, which certainly wouldn't help their reputation in the country either.

"The CCI will have a tough time not initiating a formal investigation into Google given the EU case, unless they can show the problem has been addressed (by remedies)," one of the sources said.

Posted by alphaatlas February 12, 2019 11:06 AM (CST)

Asus GPU Tweak II Overlay Injects Ads Into Games

Citing post on Reddit, TechPowerUp claims that Asus GPU Tweak II injects what appears to be an Asus GPU ad right into games. But, since Reddit has a habit of blowing up unverified claims, I decided to download the utility myself and see if there's any truth to them. I grabbed the Windows 10 64 bit build of Asus GPU Tweak II Version 19.33 (released 01/16/2019) from the Asus website, installed it, and fired up a game to see what would happen.
As you can see in the picture above (click for the full image), the overlay, does, indeed, inject an Asus GPU ad right into any game that runs the overlay. But, what the Reddit post failed to mention is that it can easily be disabled. It doesn't appear to pop back up during subsequent game launches, but I'm not sure if the ad will eventually re-enable itself, and performance (subjectively) felt worse with the ad active. While some overlays like Origin and Steam show promotions when they're manually opened, this is the first time I've seen an ad that's displayed in-game by default, and I hope this is a trend that Asus and other overlay developers don't continue in the future. ASUS Response: "It is a feature for the beta group testers, not on by default, the image is just a stock placeholder to show how it works if a streamer wants to use that functionality and it can be disabled or repositioned based up on the user settings. " Update 2/4/2019: As it turns out, the image is not an "ad", but a placeholder image for a streamer's overlay. We posted an update on the issue here. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas February 04, 2019 10:48 AM (CST)

Los Alamos Wants To Slam a Spacecraft Into an Asteroid

Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is famous for its work on the Manhattan Project and other ventures related to national security, intends to work with NASA to test asteroid deflection strategies. According to the YouTube video they just uploaded, the organizations want to hit Didymoon, a small asteroid orbiting a larger one, with a probe, and see what happens. "DART" is expected to launch in 2020, and reach the asteroid sometime in 2022. Check out the plan in the video below:

What would we do if an asteroid was on course to hit Earth? Crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid could deflect it off its orbital path. The spacecraft DART will be tested on asteroid Didymoon. DART will crash into Didymoon at 6/kms and will shift its orbital path a fraction of 1%. The results will provide insight into future asteroid deflection.

Posted by alphaatlas January 30, 2019 9:05 AM (CST)

Fallout 76 Players Glitched Their Way Into a Developer Room

Eurogamer says that some enterprising Fallout 76 players managed to glitch their way into a "developer room" with high tier and unreleased items. While the exploit is just now going public, Eurogamer's sources say that the exploit has been circulating around Discord servers for several weeks. Check out a video of the glitch below, while it's still up:
As the article mentioned, glitching into "dev rooms" in Bethesda RPGs without modding or using the console is nothing new. Among other things, I fondly remember exploiting the Frostcraig Spire glitch in Oblivion, which involved moving into the DLC-added Magicians tower and then deleting the DLC from your console/Xbox 360. As far as I know, the Oblivion glitch remains unpatched to this day. Exploits like this were relatively harmless in Bethesda's singleplayer RPGs, and exploring/cataloging them was almost a hobby, but the devs are apparently taking a different approach to such exploits in Fallout 76. To be honest, I'm a little surprised they include a "developer room" in public builds of Fallout 76 in the first place, as cells were easy to delete in previous games.

Yet if you're hoping to explore the room for yourself, you may want to think twice before attempting the procedure. Several sources told me Bethesda is now issuing automatic account suspensions for those who enter the room. Players are reportedly being informed of the bans via email, and take anywhere from six to 24 hours to be issued. (Eurogamer has contacted Bethesda for confirmation as to whether it is suspending accounts for entering the developer room.) Despite it now being seemingly risky to retrieve items from the room, some of my sources claimed players are using mule accounts to take the items before quickly transferring them to other accounts before the banhammer comes crashing down (one source told me these items are being traded in a Russian-language trading Discord). Apparently accounts belonging to players who enter the room are being banned, but those to which the items are transferred remain unscathed.

Posted by alphaatlas January 11, 2019 11:41 AM (CST)

Twitch Drinking Stunt Turns into 7 Day Ban

Twitch personality and professional Smash player Joseph "Mango" Marquez has been issued a 7 day ban from Twitch for "violating the community guidelines by displaying "dangerous consumption of drugs or alcohol" on stream." In the video clip that got the Twitch streamer banned, C9 Mango is seen holding an alcoholic beverage as he "passes out" by falling out of his chair and onto the floor. It is obviously staged as he holds the bottle up as he falls to keep it from spilling. Twitch administrators didn't find this funny and banned his channel for 7 days. Needless to say, Mr. Marquez is having fun with his audience on Twitter.

Last tweet about this ( for now ). For the record.. I didn't pass out on stream.. I jokingly fell over to be funny because I wanted to take a break.. Went downstairs to talk to my gf and came back and ended my stream. Drank a lot I knowwwwwww

Posted by cageymaru January 09, 2019 2:48 PM (CST)

CVAA Regulations Affecting Multiplayer Chat Just Went Into Effect

The International Game Developers Association sent out a notice reminding readers that the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act just went into effect for the gaming industry. The CVAA "requires any communications functionality and any UI used to navigate to or operate it to be accessible to people with a wide range of conditions, from no sight to no color vision, no speech to limited strength," and those considerations must be made early on in development. The CVAA is actually an old law that's aimed at the telecommunications industry, but the FCC has repeatedly given the gaming industry waivers, giving them time to "catch up." That last waiver expired on December 31, 2018, and the restrictions now apply to any game scheduled for release or "substantial updates" after that date. While there are allegedly "accommodations for low budgets," Bioware recently implied that the CVAA may be behind their decision to cut text chat out of Anthem. If EA can't afford to fully deal with the regulations in a high budget title, one has to wonder how smaller multiplayer developers will fare. Thanks to for the tip.

Compliance includes accommodations for low budgets; the list of criteria specifies that devs must meet the criteria as far as is is achievable, with "achievable" meaning within reasonable cost and effort. Failure to comply can result in customer complaints to the FCC, which the FCC will then mediate, taking into account what efforts have been made and how feasible the issue is to fix. The customer has the right to extend the initial mediation period if they choose. If a satisfactory outcome is not reached, fines may be issued at the FCC's discretion.

Posted by alphaatlas January 04, 2019 11:58 AM (CST)