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Russian State TV Mistakes Man in a Suit for a Robot

The Guardian reports that state-owned Russian media thought a man in a costume was actually a "hi-tech robot." The TV station's praise for the "robot" was preserved on YouTube, and Russian bloggers and journalists were immediately suspicious when the footage first aired. After some digging, other journalists found a picture of a man in a similar looking suit, and claim that the robot costume costs about $3800 USD. Thanks to AceGoober for the tip.

The organisers of the Proyektoria technology forum, held each year for the "future intellectual leaders of Russia", did not try to pass off the robot as real, the website reported. But whether by mistake or design, the state television footage did just that. "It's entirely possible one of these [students] could dedicate himself to robotics," an anchor reported. "Especially as at the forum they have the opportunity to look at the most modern robots..." On Wednesday morning, the television report briefly disappeared from Russia-24's YouTube channel but by early afternoon it was accessible again.

Posted by alphaatlas December 13, 2018 12:49 PM (CST)

Forbes Cracked Android Facial Recognition With 3D Printed Heads

Facial recognition is everywhere now, whether it's used for convenience or pushed as a "security" feature. But according to a report by Forbes, Android's facial recognition system isn't particularly hard to fool. Using a commercial, 3D printed model of his own head, Thomas Brewster was able to unlock all 4 Android phones he tested, namely an LG G7, Galaxy S9, a Note 8, and a OnePlus 6. Check out the video of the attempt below:

No such luck with the iPhone X, though. Apple's investment in its tech - which saw the company work with a Hollywood studio to create realistic masks to test Face ID - has clearly paid off. It was impossible to break in with the model. Microsoft appeared to have done a fine job too. It's new Windows Hello facial recognition also didn't accept the fake head as real.

Posted by alphaatlas December 13, 2018 12:08 PM (CST)

Apple Announces Plans for $1 Billion Campus in Austin, Texas

Today, Apple announced plans for a $1 billion dollar campus in Austin, Texas. The 133-acre facility will be less than a mile away from Apple's current Austin campus, and they claim it will initially accommodate about 5,000 employees, "with the capacity to grow to 15,000." The company is quick to point out that it already employs 90,000 people in all 50 states, and that the 6,200 people at the existing Austin campus represents the largest concentration of Apple employees in the U.S. outside of Cupertino. Texas politicians seem to be quite happy with the new campus, to say the least, and Apple also mentioned that it's investing about $4.5 billion dollars in US data centers over the next two years.

"Apple is among the world's most innovative companies and an avid creator of jobs in Texas and across the country," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott. "Their decision to expand operations in our state is a testament to the high-quality workforce and unmatched economic environment that Texas offers. I thank Apple for this tremendous investment in Texas, and I look forward to building upon our strong partnership to create an even brighter future for the Lone Star State." Jobs created at the new campus will include a broad range of functions including engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales and customer support.

Posted by alphaatlas December 13, 2018 9:10 AM (CST)

Nvidia GeForce Game Ready Driver 417.35 WHQL Has Been Released

The Nvidia GeForce Game Ready Driver 417.35 WHQL has been released and it adds support for Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) beta in Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition. The following 3D Vision profiles have been updated: Insurgency Sandstorm has a Not Recommended rating and Atlas has a Fair rating from NVIDIA. The release notes are found here. Special thanks to @schlitzbull !

Open Issues in Version 417.35 WHQL. [GeForce GTX 1080Ti]: Random DPC watchdog violation error when using multiple GPUs on motherboards with PLX chips. [2079538]. [Firefox]: Cursor shows brief corruption when hovering on certain links in Firefox. [2107201]. [G-Sync]: Random flickering occurs when connecting G-sync monitor + non-G-Sync HDMI monitor with G-Sync enabled. [2399845]. Fixed Issues in this release include: [SLI][TITAN Xp]: SLI is disabled by default after installing the driver. [200471881]. [TITAN V][NVIDIA Control Panel]: The Workstation->Manage GPU Utilization page appears when it shouldn't. [200470813]. [Rocket League]: The game launches to a white screen with audio in the background and then crashes. [2451530]. [Battlefield V: Day0 97][Ansel]: After being moved all the way to the left, the Ansel field-of view (FoV) slider stops following the click-and-drag mouse movement. [2438857]. [Hitman 2 Silent assassin]: There is flickering texture corruption in the game. [200472315]. [Notebook][3D games]: Frame rate of 3D games may drop to under 30 fps on notebooks. [2456653].

Posted by cageymaru December 12, 2018 4:08 PM (CST)

EPIC Games Announces Its Cross-Platform Online Services Roadmap for 2019

Epic Games has announced its plans to implement free cross-platform online services into Unreal Engine and Unity. Over time these services will be free for all developers to mix and match with other solutions, and will be open to all engines, all platforms, and all stores. Epic Games has successfully battle tested these tools in Fortnite which has reached 200 million players across 7 different platforms including PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch. Some of the upcoming features planned for cross-platform services in 2019 include voice comms, data storage, cloud-saved games, achievements, trophies, parties and matchmaking, PC/Mac overlay API, login, friends, presence, and entitlements. After the first steps are taken, more features such as user-generated content, enhanced social features, anti-cheat and more are planned.

We connect developers and players across all platforms, and respect existing platform relationships and player accounts. For example, Fortnite runs on 7 platforms that are fully interoperable; the game requires no login on console, and supports multi-platform login via Facebook, Google, Xbox Live, PSN, and Nintendo accounts, in addition to Epic accounts; and supports Twitch account linking. Besides these existing account and service integrations, we're eager to work with partners on further efforts to connect accounts, gaming services, and cloud services for a more seamless experience. We operate our services primarily on Amazon Web Services data centers throughout the world to bring the high reliability and wide international reach required by the next generation of online and socially-connected games.

Posted by cageymaru December 12, 2018 3:33 PM (CST)

FCC Votes to Classify Text Messaging as an Information Service

The FCC has voted to classify text messages as an "information service" under the Communications Act. This was done to give more leeway to wireless providers to fight spam messages and scam robotexts. Mass texting companies wanted text messaging reclassified as a "telecommunications service" under the Communications Act as this would limit the power of wireless providers to combat spam and scam texts. Wireless providers have been accused of blocking messages from certain groups before. The FCC report can be viewed here.

The Federal Communications Commission today issued a ruling rejecting requests to make it harder for text messaging providers to protect consumers from spam and scam robotexts. The Commission's decision makes clear that wireless providers are authorized to continue their efforts to stop unwanted text messaging through robotext-blocking, anti-spoofing measures, and other anti-spam features.

Posted by cageymaru December 12, 2018 2:31 PM (CST)

Verizon to Absorb a $4.6 Billion Charge for Yahoo and AOL

New Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg is taking an aggressive approach to reviewing business units and cost-saving measures. After reporting that Verizon was laying off over 10,000 workers yesterday, today CNBC is reporting that the company is taking a goodwill impairment charge of $4.6 billion in value for its Oath media business which include AOL and Yahoo. A 5-year strategic planning review of Oath's business prospects resulted in unfavorable adjustments to Oath's financial projections.

Verizon's Media business, branded Oath, has experienced increased competitive and market pressures throughout 2018 that have resulted in lower than expected revenues and earnings. These pressures are expected to continue and have resulted in a loss of market positioning to our competitors in the digital advertising business. Oath has also achieved lower than expected benefits from the integration of the Yahoo Inc. and AOL Inc. businesses. As a result, the Company expects to record a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of approximately $4.6 billion ($4.5 billion after-tax) in the fourth quarter of 2018. The goodwill balance of the Oath reporting unit was approximately $4.8 billion prior to the incurrence of this impairment charge.

Posted by cageymaru December 11, 2018 5:29 PM (CST)

Watch Google's CEO Sundar Pichai Testify Before Congress

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Alphabet Inc. unit's social media practices.

After a year of avoiding the spotlight -- and the political scrutiny that's befallen his peers at Facebook and Twitter -- Pichai is set to deliver his first-ever testimony to Congress on Tuesday. The appearance is shaping up to be a major test of Pichai's skills in managing the company's reputation at a time when several of Silicon Valley's biggest names are in crisis -- and when many of Google's employees are in revolt.

Posted by cageymaru December 11, 2018 12:10 PM (CST)

Fortnite, PUBG and Other Games Allegedly Banned in China

Citing a Reddit thread, PCGamesN reports that popular games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Paladins, Fortnite, and H1Z1 have been been banned in China, while others like World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo and League of Legends require "corrective action." According to the Reddit post, the 20 new games that were reportedly being "reviewed" by the government were actually existing titles. Reddit can be a sketchy source, but an independent report from seems to corroborate the claims. Experts note that this is bad news for publishers inside and outside of China. Ironically, the government crackdown could also encourage Chinese publishers to start pushing their games overseas.

The analysts warns that this does not bode well for anyone wanting to release in China. "Indications are that existing games with commercial licenses are not exempt from review, meaning more disruption for the market running into 2019," the firm wrote. "This will mean additional costs for publishers and developers looking to operate their games in China, even those with existing popular and commercially successful titles many of which appear to need changes to satisfy the regulators that they are suitable for younger players." The firm also notes that if the Ethics Committee is re-reviewing previously released titles, the waiting list for new games hoping to release in China "likely to be longer than expected", predicting the impact could be felt "deep into 2019."

Posted by alphaatlas December 11, 2018 11:41 AM (CST)

Amazon Fires Employees for Leaking Internal Data

The Wall Street Journal claims that Amazon has fired "several employees" for selling company data to independent merchants. According to Kitguru's interpretation of the report, the workers allegedly sold user email addresses, unbanned accounts, and deleted negative reviews for money, and merchants who bought the company data used it to "manipulate customer perception and target advertisements." The problem is particularly rampant in China and India, and customer support employees in those countries are allegedly getting their access to sensitive data revoked. Fortunately, Amazon is appears to be coming down hard on the practice, as they have with other forms of fraud and abuse that plagued their storefrontin the past.

Getting an Amazon seller onto your side is not cheap, as payments were expected to range between $80 and $2,000. On average, bad reviews were often removed in bulks of five for approximately $300 per transactions. "We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behaviour, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action," exclaims an Amazon spokesperson. "We are conducting a thorough investigation of these claims."

Posted by alphaatlas December 11, 2018 9:37 AM (CST)

Mobile Apps Track Your Movements and Its All for Sale

The NY Times is reporting on mobile apps that track your movements after users agree to enable location services to get local news, weather, and other information. These apps collect data from a user every 2 seconds or up to 14,000 times a day for the purpose of selling the data to hedge funds, advertising agencies, retail outlets and more. This "anonymous data" includes the location of your home address so it is easy to cross reference the address with public records. Location companies say that people's data is fair game after agreeing to the privacy policy. They reiterate that it is a fair deal as customers are willing to give up their data in exchange for free services. Personal injury lawyers are buying advertisements from ad firms that are clients of tracking location companies. When they detect a person in an emergency room, the advertising sent to the phone is customized to target people who might have been in an accident. The NY Times was able to use the anonymous data to correctly identify nuclear plant employees, nurses, a police officer working on a homicide case, jail workers, teachers, AA members, weight watchers members, etc. Some of the people they tracked were willing to discuss their feelings on data collection in the article. More than 1,200 apps contain the tracking code. "Location data companies pay half a cent to two cents per user per month, according to offer letters to app makers reviewed by The Times."

Businesses say their interest is in the patterns, not the identities, that the data reveals about consumers. They note that the information apps collect is tied not to someone's name or phone number but to a unique ID. But those with access to the raw data -- including employees or clients -- could still identify a person without consent. They could follow someone they knew, by pinpointing a phone that regularly spent time at that person's home address. Or, working in reverse, they could attach a name to an anonymous dot, by seeing where the device spent nights and using public records to figure out who lived there.

Posted by cageymaru December 10, 2018 2:58 PM (CST)

Rumor: Mobile Geforce RTX and Pro Vega 48 Spotted in Benchmarks

The same Twitter user who spotted benchmarks from the unreleased 2990WX and the rumored RTX 2060 has found a few more interesting listings. The first is a "Radeon Pro Vega 48" listing in the PCMark 10 database. While the system configuration and the total score weren't shown, and the "gfx901" tag is used in a regular Vega 64 score, the various individual scores don't seem to line up with benchmarks from other Vega cards. Meanwhile, APISAK also spotted some benchmarks of laptop RTX cards, like an RTX 2060, an RTX 2080, and a 2070 MAX-Q.
Obviously, all this needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt. But the mobile RTX listing could be a sign of smaller, cheaper Turing silicon to come, while the "Vega 48" card might be a custom chip for Apple. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas December 10, 2018 12:05 PM (CST)