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July 16, 2016

03:30
HughPickens.com writes: Folk wisdom has it that everyone has a doppelganger; somewhere out there there's a perfect duplicate of you, with your mother's eyes, your father's nose and that annoying mole you've always meant to have removed. Now BBC reports that last year Teghan Lucas set out to test the hypothesis that everyone has a living double. Armed with a public collection of photographs of U.S. military personnel and the help of colleagues from the University of Adelaide, Lucas painstakingly analyzed the faces of nearly four thousand individuals, measuring the distances between key features such as the eyes and ears. Next she calculated the probability that two peoples' faces would match. What she found was good news for the criminal justice system, but likely to disappoint anyone pining for their long-lost double: the chances of sharing just eight dimensions with someone else are less than one in a trillion. Even with 7.4 billion people on the planet, that's only a one in 135 chance that there's a single pair of doppelgangers. Lucas says this study has provided much-needed evidence that facial anthropometric measurements are as accurate as fingerprints and DNA when it comes to identifying a criminal. "The use of video surveillance systems for security purposes is increasing and as a result, there are more and more instances of criminals leaving their 'faces' at a scene of a crime," says Ms Lucas. "At the same time, criminals are getting smarter and are avoiding leaving DNA or fingerprint traces at a crime scene." But that's not the whole story. The study relied on exact measurements; if your doppelganger's ears are 59mm but yours are 60mm, your likeness wouldn't count. "It depends whether we mean 'lookalike to a human' or 'lookalike to facial recognition software,'" says David Aldous. If fine details aren't important, suddenly the possibility of having a lookalike looks a lot more realistic. It depends on the way faces are stored in the brain: more like a map than an image. To ensure that friends and acquaintances can be recognized in any context, the brain employs an area known as the fusiform gyrus to tie all the pieces together. This holistic 'sum of the parts' perception is thought to make recognizing friends a lot more accurate than it would be if their features were assessed in isolation. Using this type of analysis, and judging by the number of celebrity look-alikes out there, unless you have particularly rare features, you may have literally thousands of doppelgangers. "I think most people have somebody who is a facial lookalike unless they have a truly exceptional and unusual face," says Francois Brunelle has photographed more than 200 pairs of doppelgangers for his I'm Not a Look-Alike project. "I think in the digital age which we are entering, at some point we will know because there will be pictures of almost everyone online.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
01:25
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Recode: Google recently nixed an internal project to create a high-end standalone virtual-reality headset that would compete directly against the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, according to sources familiar with the plans. Google instead decided to shift more of its resources behind mobile VR and provide tools for other companies to build apps, games and services on Android-powered smartphones, rather than expensive hardware. In May, the company announced "Google Daydream," a platform that will help hardware and software developers create VR hardware, games, and experiences for its new Android Nougat operating system. Google did say they would be releasing their own VR headset, but it's mostly geared towards developers. A different VR project was started inside the Google X research lab, which is now a separate Alphabet company, with around 50 employees working on it, according to one source. That project was creating a separate operating system for the device, unique from Android. Now, it appears that the OS and project were scratched in favor of Android. The report suggests that Google is not as interested in competing directly with hardware from Facebook, Samsung, HTC and others. Apple has been recently granted another AR/VR patent, suggesting the company might be building a VR headset of its own.

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00:45
An anonymous reader writes: In response to the third reported Autopilot crash, which was the first of three where there were no fatalities, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that the Model X's Autopilot feature was turned off. He tweeted Thursday afternoon that the onboard vehicle logs show that the semi-autonomous driving feature was turned off in the crash. "Moreover, crash would not have occurred if it was on," he added. The driver of the Model X told police he was using the Autopilot feature, according to the Detroit Free Press. The vehicle flipped over after hitting a freeway guardrail. U.S. auto-safety regulators have been investigating a prior crash that occurred while Tesla's Autopilot mode was activated. Late Thursday afternoon and into early Friday, Musk made some comments on the improvements made to its radar technology used to achieve full driving autonomy. "Working on using existing Tesla radar by itself (decoupled from camera) w temporal smoothing to create a coarse point cloud, like lidar," he tweeted. "Good thing about radar is that, unlike lidar (which is visible wavelength), it can see through rain, snow, fog and dust." Musk has rejected Lidar technology in the past, saying it's unnecessary to achieve full driving autonomy. Consumer Reports is calling on Tesla to "disable hands-free operation until its system can be made safer."

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Categories: Geek'd Out
00:05
flopsquad writes: Following the July 14th terror attack in Nice, France, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for U.S. Muslims to be tested for their belief in Sharia law, and if so, deported: "Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia they should be deported," Gingrich said in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity. While the cleverest few might try to defeat such a test by answering "No," Mr. Gingrich laid out additional steps to shore up the plan: "The first step is you have to ask them the questions. The second step is you have to monitor what they're doing on the internet. The third step is, let me be very clear, you have to monitor the mosques. I mean, if you're not prepared to monitor the mosques, this whole thing is a joke." Gingrich also opined that "Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS, or Al-Qaeda, or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony, and they should go to jail. No word on the First and Fourth Amendment implications of his proposals, nor on where Gingrich plans to deport U.S. citizens who fail his Sharia test. Gingrich went on to say: "Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felon. It should be closed down immediately. Our forces should be used to systematically destroy every internet based source..." Mike Masnick from Techdirt writes: "Merely visiting a website should put you in jail? What if you're a journalist? Or a politician? Or a researcher trying to understand ISIS? That should be a felony? That's not how it works. This also assumes, idiotically, that merely reading a website about ISIS will make people side with ISIS. It's also not, at all, how the law works. Same with the second part about it being a felony to host such content."

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Categories: Geek'd Out

July 15, 2016

23:20
An anonymous reader writes from a report via WIRED: Lab-grown meat appears to be coming to a supermarket near you whether you like it or not. Granted, you have some time before that becomes a reality. Scientists in Belgium and the United States are working on cultured meat substitutes that taste like real meat and cost less than real meat, but don't use as many environmental resources as meat from animals, nor does it involve the slaughtering of animals. They predict such meat substitutes will cost a lot less by the year 2020 when the efficiency of bulk production kicks in. According to a 2014 Pew poll, only 20 percent of Americans would be willing to try cultured meat, while a 2013 survey in Belgium revealed that just 13 percent of 180 subjects knew what cultured meat was. Also, vegetarians surveyed perceived man-made meat to be unhealthy and unfavorable. However, once respondents were told how the meat is grown, most said they might try it. When educated about the environmental benefits, the number of people who were willing to try it nearly doubled. A poll from The Vegan Scholar found that lab-grown meat was much more appealing to vegetarians than to vegans. Similar Reddit and SurveyMonkey polls have come to similar conclusions, but it's important to note that none of these polls were peer-reviewed. Researchers have suggested that the media greatly overestimates the importance of vegetarian and vegan opinions on lab-grown meat. Given the lack of large surveys determining the public's opinion on lab-grown meat, we thought we would pose the question to Slashdotters: Would you eat lab-grown meat?

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Categories: Geek'd Out
22:40
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Krebs On Security: A new report from the nation's National Crime Agency (NCA) warns that cybercrime has now surpassed all other forms of crime in the United Kingdom. "Cyber enabled fraud" was found to make up 36 percent of all crime reported, with "computer misuse" accounting for 17 percent. The report calls for stronger law enforcement and business partnership to fight cybercrime. One explanation for the growth of cybercrime reports in the U.K. may be that the Brits are getting better at tracking it. The report notes that the U.K. Office of National Statistics only began including cybercrime for the first time last year in its annual Crime Survey for England and Wales. "The ONS estimated that there were 2.46 million cyber incidents and 2.11 million victims of cybercrime in the U.K. in 2015," the report's authors wrote. "These figures highlight the clear shortfall in established reporting, with only 16,349 cyber dependent and approximately 700,000 cyber-enabled incidents reported to Action Fraud over the same period." The increasing sophistication of organized cybercrime gangs that develop and deploy targeted, complex malicious software may also be to blame for the rise in cybercrime. Dridex and Dyre were specifically mentioned in the report, which are aimed at emptying consumer and business bank accounts in the U.K. and elsewhere.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
22:00
Everytime an app gets insanely popular, vicious minds try to capitalize on the momentum -- and history suggests, Android is their most-targetted platform. So it wasn't really a big surprise when security researchers at Eset announced on Friday that at least three fake, possibly malicious Pokemon Go app have made it to Google Play, Android's marquee app store. From an Ars Technica report: Of the three, the one titled "Pokemon Go Ultimate" posed the biggest threat because it deliberately locks the screen of devices immediately after being installed. In many cases, restarting an infected phone isn't enough to unlock the screen. Infected phones can ultimately be unlocked either by removing the battery or by using the Android Device Manager. Once the screen has been unlocked and the device has restarted, the app -- which by now has the title PI Network --is removed from the device's app menu. Still, it continues to run in the background and surreptitiously clicks on ads in an attempt to generate revenue for its creators. Eset discovered two other fake Pokemon Go apps inhabiting Google Play, one named "Guide & Cheats for Pokemon Go" and the other "Install Pokemongo." Both deliver ads carrying fraudulent, scary-sounding messages that are designed to trick users into buying expensive, unnecessary services. One such message claims the device is infected with malware and prompts the user to spend money to get the malicious apps removed.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
21:20
An anonymous reader writes: In response to an attempted military coup, the Turkish government has reportedly blocked social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. TechCrunch reports: "Turkey Blocks, a Twitter account that regularly checks if sites are being blocked in the country, reported at 1:04 PM Pacific (11:04 PM Istanbul time) that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were all unresponsive, though Instagram and Vimeo remained available." Some Turkish users were able to update their social media accounts likely through a VPN or other anonymizing service. One user posted a video on Twitter that shows what appears to be a fighter jet flying very low over the Turkish capital of Ankara; another user has tweeted a video of a helicopter opening fire in Turkey. The Associated Press reports that Turkish prime minister, Binali Yildirim, has confirmed the coup by a group within Turkey's military. The following statement from the group was reportedly read on local television: "Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the general security that was damaged. All international agreements are still valid. We hope that all of our good relationships with all countries will continue." UPDATE 7/15/16: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a statement in a FaceTime call to CNN Turk urging Turkish citizens to take to the streets to defend "Turkish democracy." He urges the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports, saying there is no power higher than the power of the people.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
20:40
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung is reportedly in talks with BYD Co. about investing in the Chinese electric-car manufacturer. Bloomberg reports: "Details including the size of the investment will be disclosed when they're confirmed, Samsung said Friday in an emailed statement. The investment in BYD, backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., would bolster Samsung's semiconductor business for cars, the South Korean company said. Samsung is pursuing the investment after its affiliate was among foreign battery makers left off a list of suppliers approved by China, where sales of electric vehicles are surging and the government has sped up construction of charging points. The talks with BYD also add to the global trend of technology companies and automakers collaborating as car buyers increasingly demand more advanced powertrains and features that improve connectivity and safety. 'It puts Samsung into the electric-vehicle subsystem supply chain for a key Chinese electric vehicle and battery manufacturer,' said Bill Russo, a Shanghai-based managing director at Gao Feng Advisory Co. 'BYD gets a technology innovation pipeline partner with a reputable brand.' China surpassed the U.S. as the largest market for electric vehicles last year. The government wants sales of what it calls new-energy vehicles to exceed 3 million units a year by 2025." With the success of its Galaxy S7 flagship smartphones, Samsung said that its second-quarter operating profit likely rose 17.4% from a year earlier.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
20:00
An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report: Facebook has said about one-third of its workers are female, while black employees accounted for 3% of its US senior leadership, both numbers only slightly higher than a year earlier. The data released by the world's largest social network on Thursday reflects the scant progress made by Silicon Valley heavyweights in making their workplaces more diverse in the face of criticism for having mostly white, male workers. Last month, Alphabet's Google released data on diversity, saying it had more black, Latino and female employees but still lagged its goal of mirroring the population. Women represented 33% of Facebook's global workforce, according to data from 30 June, compared with 32% a year earlier. Women held 27% of senior leadership roles, up from last year's 23%.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
19:20
An anonymous reader writes: A new report published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office identifies a wide range of 'business models' that are used by pirate sites. The organization, which announced a new collaboration with Europol this week, signals Bitcoin and the Tor network as two key threats to ongoing anti-piracy efforts. According to the research, several infringing business models rely on encryption-based technologies. The Tor network and Bitcoin, for example, are repeatedly mentioned as part of this "shadow landscape." "It more and more relies on new encrypted technologies like the TOR browser and the Bitcoin virtual currency, which are employed by infringers of IPR to generate income and hide the proceeds of crime from the authorities," the report reads.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
18:40
The Obama Administration has announced a new funding initiative to ensure the United States maintains its leadership in the mobile technology space. For this, it will spend over $400 million on large-scale test platforms led by National Science Foundation with an aim to develop and advance wireless technology to 5G and beyond. Fortune reports: To be sure, the private sector has also been getting smarter and better organized for 5G this year and the new Obama effort will be conducted in conjunction with a bevy of technology and telecommunications partners. All four major wireless carriers, AT&T, Verizon Communications, Sprint, and T-Mobile, are participating. Tech companies on board include Intel, Juniper Networks, Qualcomm, and Nokia. Notably, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are missing from the list. "These super-fast, ultra-low latency, high-capacity networks will enable breakthrough applications for consumers, smart cities, and the Internet of Things that cannot even be imagined today," the White House said in a statement. The report adds: The transition to the next generation standard for wireless networks, so-called 5G, has so far been fraught with confusion, complications, and even some contradictions. But in a few years, when 5G gear sending data at up to 100 times the speed of current networks is commonplace, people may remember July 2016 as a major turning point. The private sector has offered mixed messages about when 5G will be available for regular people and just what it will be used for. Without many standards yet agreed upon, some predicted 5G would be ready starting next year, but others said not until 2020 or later. Some wanted to use it to speed up smartphone connections, while others said it was better suited to improve home and business Internet connections or to collect data from smart devices in the "Internet of Things."

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Categories: Geek'd Out
18:00
Jon Brodkin, reporting for Ars Technica: Comcast's Internet Essentials program that provides $10-per-month Internet service to low-income families has been expanded to make about 1.3 million additional households eligible. Comcast created Internet Essentials in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011 and has decided to continue it indefinitely even though the requirement expired in 2014. Comcast says the 10Mbps plan has connected more than 600,000 low-income families since 2011, for a total of 2.4 million adults and children, and provided 47,000 subsidized computers for less than $150 each. Advocates for the poor have complained that the Internet Essentials service is too hard to sign up for, in part because of problems with the application process but also because it's usually only available to families with kids in school. That latter issue is what Comcast addressed today, announcing that "adults without a child eligible for the National School Lunch Program will be eligible to apply for Internet Essentials." Previously, pilot programs gave access to some low-income seniors and low-income community college students, but this is the first time that Internet Essentials will be available to adults without children nationwide.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
17:20
Despite Microsoft's aggressive efforts to get everyone to upgrade to Windows 10 by mid-2018, the company says it is unlikely to meet its self-imposed deadline. In a statement to ZDNet, the company said: Windows 10 is off to the hottest start in history with over 350M monthly active devices, with record customer satisfaction and engagement. We're pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices. In the year ahead, we are excited about usage growth coming from commercial deployments and new devices -- and increasing customer delight with Windows. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley writes: Microsoft Windows and Devices chief Terry Myerson made the original claim at Build 2015, noting that the 1 billion figure would encompass all kinds of devices that would run Windows 10 in some variant, including desktops, PCs, laptops, tablets, Windows Phones, Xbox One gaming consoles, Surface Hub conferencing systems, HoloLens augmented reality glasses and various Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Officials said at that time that the majority of those 1 billion devices would be PCs and tablets. But Windows Phones running Windows 10 Mobile also were expected to help Microsoft reach that total by mid-2018.Since April 2015, the bottom has fallen out of the Windows Phone market, with Microsoft officials conceding that Windows Phone isn't much of a focus for Microsoft in calendar 2016.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
16:40
The sleeper hit success title Pokemon Go is preventing many people in China from sleeping properly. Although the game isn't officially available in the world's largest smartphone market, some people fear it could become a Trojan horse for "offensive action by the United States and Japan," according to a report by Reuters. "Don't play Pokemon GO!!!" said user Pitaorenzhe on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. "It's so the U.S. and Japan can explore China's secret bases!" From the article: The conspiracy theory is that Japan's Nintendo, which part owns the Pokemon franchise, and America's Google can work out where Chinese military bases are by seeing where users can't go to capture Pokemon characters. The game relies on Google services such as Maps. The theory is that if Nintendo places rare Pokemon in areas where they see players aren't going, and nobody attempts to capture the creature, it can be deduced that the location has restricted access and could be a military zone. "Then, when war breaks out, Japan and the U.S. can easily target their guided missiles, and China will have been destroyed by the invasion of a Japanese-American game," said a social media post circulated on Weibo. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he was unaware of reports that the game could be a security risk and that he didn't have time to play with such things. He gave no further details.

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Categories: Geek'd Out
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