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05-21-2018 Science&Technology
NASA's planet-hunting TESS spacecraft snaps its first photo

TESS, NASA's new exoplanet-hunting spacecraft, has captured its first image ever, giving us a glimpse of what its powerful "eyes" can see. The spacecraft's science team used one of its four cameras to snap a two-second test exposure as part of their preparations now that TESS is only a month away from officially starting its science operations. Their photo shows over 200,000 stars with the southern constellation Centaurus at the center and one of the brightest stars in the night sky, the Beta Centauri, visible on the lower left edge (see the full image below the fold).

Despite the number of stars in the photo, it represents just a tiny part of what TESS can keep its eyes on -- the spacecraft can cover over 400 times as much sky as what's shown in the picture. It's expected not just to find thousands more previously undiscovered exoplanets, but also to gather data on them. NASA will then use the James Webb Telescope to take a closer look at the most promising TESS findings in order to study their atmospheres. The hope is to find habitable, Goldilocks (not too hot, not too cold) planets in neighboring galaxies and beyond.

When the spacecraft's ground team took the photo, TESS had just finished a lunar flyby 5,000 miles above the moon's surface. Now, it's preparing for one final thruster burn on May 30th in order to enter its highly elliptical orbit around our planet. Once it's fully operational, TESS will take its first science-quality (or first light) image, which will be released sometime in June.

Read Original Article     ON:   Engadget

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05-21-2018 Security
Apple Begins Removing CallKit Apps From Chinese App Store, Citing New Cybersecurity Laws

Apple has begun removing applications that use the CallKit framework from the Chinese version of its App Store after the nation’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology moved to more strictly enforce recent cybersecurity regulations, per a report in 9to5Mac.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple has begun warning developers that they must remove CallKit integration from their apps or they will be removed from the store. There are clear parallels between this and last year, when Apple complied with Chinese censors’ requests to remove VPN apps, the site wrote:

Apple has started sending notices to developers who offer apps in China with CallKit integration. The notice explains that apps cannot offer CallKit functionality in China due to government regulations. In order for developers to make their application available on the China App Store, they must remove that CallKit integration. Alternatively, they can remove the application from China altogether.

Specifically, the Chinese government appears to be concerned that CallKit might allow users to avoid censors and surveillance, which is related to its overall concern over Voice over Internet Protocol communications. According to 9to5Mac, Apple describes CallKit as an easy way to integrate VoIP calls into other apps, which could at least in theory make it harder for authorities to monitor them:

CallKit lets you integrate your calling services with other call-related apps on the system. CallKit provides the calling interface, and you handle the back-end communication with your VoIP service. For incoming and outgoing calls, CallKit displays the same interfaces as the Phone app, giving your app a more native look and feel. And CallKit responds appropriately to system-level behaviors such as Do Not Disturb.

WeChat, a messaging app that has become the de facto communications method throughout much of China, appears to have sensed this coming and removed CallKit a while ago after adding it only “briefly,” the site added. Numerous other apps including VoIP services like Skype have been banned in China over the past year in relation to harsh new cybersecurity laws designed to strengthen its so-called Great Firewall, a system of countermeasures and filters that keep the Chinese internet partially disconnected from the outside world and closely monitored by the state.

Read Original Article     ON:   Gizmodo

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05-21-2018 Science&Technology
Google Pixel Buds Gets New Tricks: Power It On, Skip Tracks Just By Tapping

The release of Google's wireless Pixel Buds — its answer to the Apple AirPods — was met with lukewarm reception.

While critics praised the attempt, they ultimately called the pair of headphones underwhelming, citing its odd construction and sound quality as two of its major flaws.

"The Pixel Buds are full of little flaws that make life with them a frustration. Yes, this is first generation hardware. But it's also coming from Google, which hasn't been shy about raising expectations for its new hardware division. For the Pixel Buds, at least, it's better to lower them," said The Verge in its review.

Google didn't give up on them. The Pixel Buds have gotten some new features lately, including Assistant-powered gesture controls, and just a few days ago, Google added the ability to customize which apps send spoken notifications. Now, Google is amping up the Pixel Buds' feature set even further.

New Gestures On Pixel Buds

The company is adding two new tap-based gestures, which are rolling out today and should arrive on all devices by early next week. First is the ability to turn the Pixel Buds on or off just by triple-tapping the right earbud, which, according to Google, is a much-requested feature.

The second is the ability to skip tracks while playing music by double-tapping. This feature, however, needs to be set up within the Pixel Buds settings in the Google Assistant app.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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05-21-2018 Science&Technology
Samsung owes Apple $1B -- or maybe just $28M. OK, jury, what'll it be?

A patent trial between Apple and Samsung, two of the largest tech companies around, could end up looking like a trial between two of the largest car companies around.

On Friday, an eight-person jury began its deliberations at US District Court in San Jose, smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley and a 10-mile drive to Apple's headquarters. They could return a verdict as soon as Monday about how much money Samsung owes Apple for infringing three of its rival's design patents and two utility patents when it sold millions of 16 now-obsolete phone models during 2010 and 2011.

Where do cars come in? To help jurors wrap their brains around the issue's complexities, each side is steering them to consider simpler analogies involving cars.

How the jury decides will help determine whether design patents increase in power -- and likely in number too, as companies scramble to cash in on their ideas for styling and ornamentation. Such an increase could help the powers in tech stay powerful. And for Samsung specifically, it'll determine whether the company pays the $28 million penalty it thinks is fair for its design patent infringement or the $1.07 billion Apple wants.

So it's a big deal. Let's walk through some of the details about what's happened since this case began in 2011, what happened this week, and what happens next.

We'll start with the car thing.

The central point in the case is how to determine what penalties Samsung owes. The statute governing design patents means the South Korean electronics giant must forfeit profits from sales of the "article of manufacture" that infringed Apple's patents. Samsung lost to Apple in 2012 on whether it infringed, but it prevailed with an appeal to the Supreme Court, which determined in 2016 that those profits could come from a component of a product, not from the full product.

How you determine what exactly constitutes that artifact of manufacture is pretty confusing, though. District Judge Lucy Koh, who's overseen all four of the trials in the Northern California District in this case, has adopted a laborious four-factor test to assess what the article of manufacture is and thus whether Samsung must pay its penalty on full phones or just some components.

Samsung and Apple have fixated on different car analogies for the situation. During an earlier trial, a Samsung expert witness said a penalty based on the full product would mean somebody who infringed a patented cup-holder design would have to pay damages based on profits from the sale of the whole car. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Cnet

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05-21-2018 General
Inside Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's ‘Top Tier’ Evening Wedding Reception (Exclusive)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s final, “top tier” wedding festivities are officially underway!

The newlyweds arrived for an exclusive and closely-guarded evening reception thrown by Prince Charles at Frogmore House in Windsor, England, on Saturday evening.

“This wedding is a bit like the wedding cake itself,” royal expert Katie Nicholl told ET following the couple's stunning church service earlier in the day. “You have the big tier at the bottom, where everyone is invited -- nearly 2,000 members of the public and 600 in the church, [then] 600 only at the [afternoon] reception. Then, the top tier of this wedding cake is the elite [evening] party -- the 200 of their best friends and closest family, and that will all be happening behind closed doors down at Frogmore House.”

Guests will be able to let loose at the reception, with phones expected to be surrendered upon arrival. The same protocol was in place at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 reception and it seems that no photo from that party has ever emerged, so Harry is no doubt hoping for the same level of privacy.

“Prince Harry, who guards his privacy quite ferociously, wants this to be his private night,” says Nicholl. "There will be no cameras tonight at the most exclusive part of the evening. That is the VIP reception at Frogmore House. A party for just two hundred of their closest friends and that will be locked down. Of course, that's where all the fun is going to be happening.”

One of the highlights of the night is sure to be as Meghan, 36, takes to the microphone to make her first public speech as the Duchess of Sussex. While it’s usually the father of the bride that speaks, the former actress’ dad, Thomas, is currently in the U.S. recovering from heart surgery.

“Meghan wanted to get up and say something and I expect that she is probably thanking the royal family for welcoming her so warmly into the fold [and] thanking her husband,” Nicholl says. “What a wonderful thing to be able to say, thanking everyone that is here today. I think she's an incredibly articulate woman. She'd have given a lot of thought to what she was going to say today, and what a platform to say it from.”

The couple arrived at the reception with Meghan having changed into a lily white, silk crepe, high-neck Stella McCartney gown and nude mesh, silky satin Aquazurra shoes, which had baby blue soles. She was also wearing a blue aquamarine ring, which Kensington Palace told multiple outlets belonged to Princess Diana and was a wedding gift from Harry. Her hair was styled in an up-do by George Northwood. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   ET Online

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05-21-2018 Society
Texas school rampage came a week after girl rejected suspect, her mom says

SANTA FE — The teenage gunman arrested after a massacre that killed 10 people and wounded 13 at his school outside Houston confessed following a 15-minute firefight with authorities, court documents say.

His statement left why he laid waste to Santa Fe High School a mystery, but a mother of one victim said her daughter had rejected his advances a week before the attack.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a junior at the school, was taken into custody after he collapsed in front of an art lab, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed in court.

The teenager waived his Miranda rights and "admitted to shooting multiple people inside the school," the document said.

More details emerged Saturday about what had happened before that in the bloody classrooms and halls of the school.

The attack began with a shotgun blast through the door of the art classroom, witnesses said Saturday. That sent panicked students to the entryway to keep the shooter outside.

Clad in a trench coat and carrying a revolver and sawed-off shotgun, the gunman fired again through the wooden door, killing his first victim, Christopher Stone, who was shot in the chest.

He then lingered for nearly 30 minutes in a warren of four rooms, killing seven more students and two teachers before exchanging gunfire with police and surrendering, officials said.

Freshman Abel San Miguel saw Stone, his friend, killed at the door and was grazed in the stomach by another volley of fire. He and others survived by playing dead.

"We were on the ground, all piled up in random positions," he said.

Junior Breanna Quintanilla was in art class when she heard the gunfire and someone said, "If you all move, I'm going to shoot you all."

The attacker walked in, pointed at one person and declared, "I'm going to kill you." Then he fired.

"He then said that if the rest of us moved, he was going to shoot us," Quintanilla said.

When Quintanilla tried to run out a back door, she realized the shooter was aiming at her. He fired in her direction.

"He missed me," she said. "But it went ahead and ricocheted and hit me in my right leg." She was treated at a hospital and spoke with a brown bandage wrapped around her wound. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Dallas News

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05-21-2018 Games
Cliff Bleszinski Reveals VR Concepts Following Studio Shutdown

Earlier this week Boss Key Productions, the developer behind the first-person shooter LawBreakers and the recent battle royale title Radical Heights closed its door. The announcement came from the studio head Cliff Bleszinski who was the former leader designer on the Gears of War series. In the aftermath of the studios closure Bleszinski took to Twitter to reveal a number of projects which were in the concept stage at the studio, including two virtual reality (VR) titles, that the designer wanted to make.

The first of these was codenamed ‘Rover’ but later changed to ‘DogWalkers‘ with the dog part standing for Destructive Ordnance (on the) ground, Bleszinski explained. The title was to be a mech-style tank videogame inspired by World War 2 tank crews and would see five teams of five battling it out in multiplayer within these huge, walking battle walkers.

Bleszinski continues to explain the title by adding that each player would be carrying out a different role, be it a gunner, pilot, reporting the walker and so on. He later added that the air in the world’s fiction was toxic and so any leaks to the walker would need to be repaired quickly or gas masks would need to be put on. Players would also have the option to rappel outside and weld the legs to make repairs, toss wrenches to each other to speed up the process also.

The second title that Bleszinski mentioned on his Twitter feed was said to be a VR spiritual sequel to Toobin’ (1988), a river racing title created by Atari for the late 80’s and early 90’s era consoles and arcade cabinets. The title was dubbed ‘Donuts’ and was, as Bleszinski puts it, meant to be “a way to fight Seasonal Affection Disorder. (Mario Kart on water with animals in VR.)”

“You could drink (ginger) beer for health, crush cans on your head, or shake up full ones for AOE attacks. Slam both hands to jump logs. Roman candles to pop tubes etc” Bleszinski explains further.

Though Boss Key Productions is no longer active, it seems as though the studio had a number of interesting ideas for titles in the works. Though there is always a chance these titles could be brought to life by another developer working with Bleszinski on them in the future, it is unlikely to happen. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   VR Focus

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05-21-2018 Entertainment
Deadpool 2 Review Roundup: Marvel’s Foul-Mouthed Hero Returns For A Worthy, Still R-Rated Follow-Up

WARNING: The following article may contain spoilers for Deadpool 2.

Reviews for Deadpool 2 are now coming in, and it looks like the sequel to 2016's record-breaking R-Rated Marvel superhero adaptation is reaping mostly positive reviews, much like its predecessor.

Expectations for the sequel were high considering the first Deadpool film was a box office knockout, earning $783 million globally and winning the hearts of critics and audiences alike thanks to its clever spins on the typical superhero movie formula. Now, several critics say Deadpool 2 surpasses the first outing in terms of upending the tropes associated with the genre and mixing sharp comedy with fast-paced action. Some are more critical of the film, however, pointing out what they believe to be ethnic stereotypes among supporting characters.

No matter how divided the critics may be on Deadpool 2, it's hard to argue against the fact that the film is a highly refreshing take on the persistent superhero movie formula. It doesn't attempt to revamp the tired old techniques that make superhero films bombastic, dynamic, and spectacle-filled experiences but uses those and pokes fun at them afterward, aware that these old tropes are trite and overused — but that they work.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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05-19-2018 Society
At least 8 dead in shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas: Sheriff

At least eight people are dead after a student allegedly opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Texas this morning, sending students fleeing for their lives, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

The number of deaths "could be anywhere between eight to 10, majority being students," Gonzalez said.

Authorities are also investigating to see if an explosive device was left behind in the school, which is located in Santa Fe, between Galveston and Houston, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

"I’m scared to even go back," said one student, crying. "It’s just not something that you should feel throughout the day, being scared. Especially somewhere where we say the Pledge of Allegiance."

The shooting -- which has since been contained -- took place in an art class, witnesses said, ABC station KTRK in Houston reported.

One student told KTRK she was in first period when the fire alarms went off. Students then started running from the school.

“It has been happening everywhere. I wasn’t surprised it happened here,” one student told KTRK. “I was just scared. I just kept running.”

One male is in custody and a second individual, a person of interest, has been detained, Gonzalez said, adding that both are students.

An unknown number of people are also injured, including a police officer in unknown condition, the sheriff said.

The University of Texas Medical Branch said it is treating three patients with gunshot wounds; two are adults and one is a minor.

Ambulances, helicopters and federal agents have swarmed the school as students line up outside the building.

Today's shooting comes three months after the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting that killed 17 students and staff. The Parkland massacre prompted a massive, youth-led push for school safety and gun reform.

School shootings have "been going on too long in our country," President Trump said today from the White House.

"Too many years, too many decades now, we grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support and love to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack," he said. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Yahoo

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05-19-2018 Games
The best CPUs for gaming

Buying a processor for a gaming rig isn’t as hard as it used to be. Now that AMD’s Ryzen and Intel’s 8th-gen CPUs debuted with more performance and cores than ever before, it’s hard to buy a stinker these days—especially since most games favor graphics firepower over CPU oomph. But all that said, there are specific chips that stand out from the horde as the best gaming CPUs due to their price, performance, or nifty extras.

Whether you’re on a budget or willing to pay for sheer face-melting speed, these are the best CPUs for gaming PCs that you can buy.

Picking a processor locks you into compatible motherboards, which themselves offer a wide array of features. Be sure to check out PCWorld’s guide to AMD Ryzen and Intel 8th-gen motherboards once you’ve chosen a CPU to make sure you snag the best hardware for your needs.

The best gaming CPU for most people

Pound for pound, Intel’s Core i5-8400 is the best gaming CPU for most people. Games love speedy CPUs, and the Core i5-8400 leans on the blistering single-thread performance of Intel’s 8th-gen processors with fast Turbo Boost clock speeds to deliver performance just a smidge behind the best-in-class Core i7-8700K, which costs far more money. Intel bumped Core i5 chips to six CPU cores this generation, giving the Core i5-8400 plenty of oomph for multi-threaded games and everyday desktop activities despite its lack of Hyper-Threading.

The Core i5-8400’s price is right, too. It costs $180 on Amazon and that’s with a stock CPU cooler bundled. The faster, unlocked Core i5-8600K costs $245 on Amazon without a fan. You won’t be able to overclock the Core i5-8400, but it shouldn’t matter. This thing screams out of the box, and unless you want to run multiple graphics cards, forgoing an overclockable K-series chip means you probably don’t need to pick up a pricey Z370 motherboard, letting you save even more money with an H370 or B360 motherboard instead.

The Core i5-8400 is blazing fast and an outstanding value, but it might not be the chip for you if gaming isn’t your strong focus. The six CPU cores can handle plenty of tasks, but if you plan on streaming, video/image editing, or very heavily multitasking, the 2nd-gen Ryzen 5 2600X ($230 on Amazon) might be a better option if you don’t mind spending an extra $50. Its six cores are multi-threaded, giving you a total of 12 threads, and all Ryzen chips can be overclocked. The Ryzen is a more well-rounded chip, but for pure gaming chops, go with the Core i5-8400. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   PC World

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05-19-2018 Science&Technology
NASA Astronaut Stumped by GoPro Camera

I can’t leave for a weekend without fearing I’ve forgotten to pack something important. Never send me to space.

A NASA astronaut became a meme this week when, during a simulcast spacewalk, he confessed to having forgotten a crucial piece of equipment.

“Hey, uh, Houston, I gotta ask a question about the GoPro real quick,” the unidentified explorer said. “Pushing the button, I see a ‘No SD’ [alert]. … Do I need that to record? And if it’s recording, is there supposed to be a red light on?”

Following a lull from mission control (probably because they turned off their comms for a good laugh) and some unintelligible astronaut mumblings, an Earth-bound flight controller pipes in:

“I’m told that if it has the card in it, it should have a red light if it’s recording,” the ground-team worker said.

“And if it says ‘No SD,’ what does that mean?” the confused astronaut asked again.

“I think that means no card,” mission control answered calmly.

“Well, let’s just forget it for now. I’ll get it later,” the cosmonaut said. “Let’s just not worry about it.”

It’s unclear whether the memory card is actually somewhere on the International Space Station, or gathering dust on someone’s desk at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

The video, originally streamed live Wednesday on NASA’s official Twitch account, has been shared across the Internet—as is a lot of embarrassing public moments.

NASA did not immediately respond to Geek’s request to confirm the anonymous astronaut. But an exchange at the end of an extended clip points to Andrew Feustel, currently aboard the ISS as part of Expedition 55, which launched in March.

With a Ph.D. in geological sciences and two spaceflights under his belt, Feustel appears to have been bested by technology most 10-year-olds could understand.

Having served in 2009 on the fifth and final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope and again in 2011, the cosmonaut has logged more than 29 days in space, and 42-plus hours of spacewalks.

After this week’s GoPro crisis, though, Feustel may be confined to in-ship work only.

Read Original Article     ON:   Geek

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05-19-2018 Science&Technology
Satellite study finds major shifts in global freshwater

A new global, satellite-based study of Earth's freshwater distribution found that Earth's wet areas are getting wetter, while dry areas are getting drier. The data suggest that this pattern is due to a variety of factors, including human water management practices, human-caused climate change and natural climate cycles.

The NASA-led research team, which included Hiroko Beaudoing, a faculty specialist at the University of Maryland's Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), used 14 years of observations from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission to track global trends in freshwater in 34 regions around the world.

The study, published in the May 17, 2018 issue of the journal Nature, also incorporated satellite precipitation data from the ESSIC-led Global Precipitation Climatology Project; Landsat imagery from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey; irrigation maps; and published reports of human activities related to agriculture, mining and reservoir operations. The study period spans from 2002 to 2016.

"This is the first time we've assessed how freshwater availability is changing, everywhere on Earth, using satellite observations," said Matt Rodell, lead author of the paper and chief of the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "A key goal was to distinguish shifts in terrestrial water storage caused by natural variability—wet periods and dry periods associated with El Niño and La Niña, for example—from trends related to climate change or human impacts, like pumping groundwater out of an aquifer faster than it is replenished."

Freshwater is present in lakes, rivers, soil, snow, groundwater and glacial ice. Its loss in the ice sheets at the poles—attributed to climate change—has implications for sea level rise. On land, it is one of Earth's most essential resources for drinking water and irrigation. While some regions' water supplies are relatively stable, others normally experience increases or decreases. But the current study revealed a new and distressing pattern.

"What we are witnessing is major hydrologic change," said co-author James Famiglietti of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We see, for the first time, a very distinctive pattern of the wet land areas of the world getting wetter—those are the high latitudes and the tropics—and the dry areas in between getting dryer. Embedded within the dry areas we see multiple hotspots resulting from groundwater depletion."

Famiglietti noted that while water loss in some regions is clearly driven by warming climate, such as the melting ice sheets and alpine glaciers, it will take more time before other patterns can be unequivocally attributed to climate change. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Phys

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05-18-2018 Science&Technology
Why Microsoft wants to make games more accessible for all of us

Inside Microsoft’s Inclusive Technologies Lab in Redmond, Washington, a sign says, “When you do not intentionally, deliberately include … you will unintentionally exclude.”

This reflects the thinking behind the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a new accessory for Xbox One game consoles to help those with limited mobility get back in the game. A lot of players with physical challenges can’t press all of the 19 buttons on a traditional Xbox controller.

Bryce Johnson and Evelyn Thomas were part of a team of researchers who helped design and evangelize the product within Microsoft. And now Microsoft is announcing it will launch the controller as an open platform that will enable people to plug in a wide variety of controller options to help people with limited mobility play games.

The controller enables people who don’t have thumbs, fingers, limbs, or good motor control to plug in alternatives that they can control. And that enables them to play games on the Xbox One consoles that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to play. As many as a billion people with disabilities live in the world, and even more are sometimes temporarily disabled (like those with broken arms), and the Xbox Adaptive Controller is built in a way that allows them to create their own custom solutions for playing games.

The controller started as an idea at a hackathon in 2015, and it slowly gathered steam as Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s then-new CEO, put effort into changing Microsoft’s culture to be more human. I visited the lab last week and heard presentations from many people on the team that made the controller. I also sat down with Johnson for a one-on-one interview.

“I will say that with the Xbox adaptive controller, it’s definitely benefiting more than one person,” Johnson told me. “But we did it one person at a time. What we like to think about when we talk about our inclusive design philosophy — this is very specific, but we’re not trying to design for all of us. We aspire to design for each of us.”

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

GamesBeat: The last visit was getting ready for this product discussion, I suppose?

Bryce Johnson: The lab itself is a place we bring people in to explore all types of disabilities. While the lab was being built at the same time as the Xbox adaptive controller – they were in conjunction – we do lots of things in accessibility, all at the same time. While we were creating the lab, we were working on Copilot [which lets two people with two different controllers control the same character or function in a game]. We were working on the Xbox adaptive controller. All these things were in various stages of motion.

GamesBeat: The bigger picture about why you do this, why you convinced the leadership of the company to put resources behind it, can you talk about that? How receptive were they to why this is

Read Original Article     ON:   Venture Beat

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05-18-2018 Health
'Explosive increase' in Ebola cases is feared as outbreak in Congo spreads to a CITY and UN consider

Experts fear an 'explosive increase' in Ebola cases after an outbreak in Congo entered a 'new phase' and spread to a city.

The deadly virus was detected in the northwest city of Mbandaka, with a population of about 1 million people, the country's health minister revealed last night.

So far, the 23 deaths believed to have been caused by Democratic Republic of Congo's latest Ebola outbreak were in more isolated areas, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the virus.

The first urban case to be announced threatens to change that. The World Health Organisation, which on Wednesday deployed the first experimental vaccines in the vast central African country, will decide tomorrow whether to declare a 'public health emergency of international concern'.

Such a declaration by the Emergency Committee would trigger more international involvement, mobilising research and resources, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

Senior WHO official Peter Salama warned of an 'explosive increase' in cases calling the spread to a city 'a major development in the outbreak.'

Adding to concerns is the city's location on the banks of the Congo River, a major thoroughfare for trade and transport into the capital, Kinshasa. The Congo Republic is on the other side of the river.

'We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone,' Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement.

'Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases.' ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Daily Mail

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05-17-2018 Environment
Hawaii residents near volcano deal with falling ash, toxic gas, fears of the 'big one'

Pahoa, Hawaii (CNN)A plume of ash from the Kilauea volcano rose 12,000 feet into the air before dropping ash on sections of the Big Island of Hawaii, prompting officials Tuesday to warn residents to stay indoors and airplanes to stay away from the area.

"We've seen the waxing and waning (of volcanic activity over the past few days). It seems that the system up at the summit has been what we call somewhat open, relieving that pressure," Michelle Coombs, a geologist who is the scientist-in-charge at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, told reporters in Hilo, Hawaii. "So, it intensified today but it wasn't the big one."

That doesn't mean the "big one" won't happen, Coombs said. The volcano could "plug up" as the magma level in the crater drops and the pressure below could build up, she said.

She said her team isn't quite sure what caused Tuesday's slightly more intense ash emissions.

US Geological Survey officials have said a phreatic eruption could happen at Halemaumau crater at the top of the Kilauea volcano. And it could send ash plumes as far as 12 miles from the summit crater, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

The USGS changed its aviation color code for the area to red.

"It's very hazardous for aviation," Coombs said.

Weather officials issued an ashfall advisory that ended around 6 p.m. local time.

According to the USGS, ash has fallen as far as 18 miles from the volcano.

Hazardous air

Besides the ash, which is not poisonous, residents have to worry about choking on sulfur dioxide.

Coombs said the gas is coming out of 21 fissures, or cracks in the ground, caused by the volcano.

Levels of the toxic gas are dangerous in some places, Hawaii County officials said.

"Severe conditions may exist such as choking and inability to breathe," the county's civil defense agency said. "This is a serious situation that affects the entire exposed population."


Read Original Article     ON:   CNN

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05-14-2018 Politics
Iran’s President Says Country Could Remain In Nuclear Deal Without U.S.

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that, if its interests were protected, Tehran would remain committed to its 2015 nuclear deal, which his foreign minister hoped could be redesigned without Washington.

Tuesday’s U.S. withdrawal from the accord was a “violation of morals”, Rouhani said in remarks carried by state television.

“If the remaining five countries continue to abide by the agreement, Iran will remain in the deal despite the will of America,” he said during a meeting with Sri Lanka’s president.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s pullout has upset Washington’s European allies, cast uncertainty over global oil supplies and raised the risk of conflict in the Middle East.

It has also highlighted divisions among Iran’s political elite.

Rouhani made similarly conciliatory comments on Tuesday, and on Saturday his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, embarked on a tour of other signatory nations to the accord, state media reported, in a last-ditch effort to save it.

After arriving in Beijing on Sunday, Zarif said: “We hope that with this visit to China and other countries we will be able to construct a clear future design for the comprehensive (nuclear) agreement.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he believed Zarif’s tour would “improve countries’... understanding of Iran’s position.” and help Tehran protect its “legitimate national interests”.

Rouhani has said Iran would stay committed to the deal, which Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia also signed, provided those powers could ensure Iran was protected from sanctions against key sectors of its economy such as oil.

The three European states have also recommitted to the agreement, but senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University on Friday that Europe was not to be trusted.

The head of the elite Revolutionary Guards also warned against relying on foreign powers to guarantee Iran’s interests.

“America’s exit aims to break the Iranian people’s resistance, which is not new ...but today’s problem is not U.S. sanctions, it’s that some officials look towards outside rather than looking at domestic potentials,” Guards commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, the state news agency IRNA reported.

On Wednesday, Jafari had cast doubt on European nations’ ability to save the nuclear accord.

With the deal on shaky ground in the face of fierce opposition from hardliners at home, some analysts say the pragmatic Rouhani faces the prospect of serving out his second term as a lame duck leader.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; additional reporting by Christian Shepherd in Beijing, editing by John Stonestreet)

Read Original Article     ON:   The Huffington Post

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9 The Times of India / India 10 The Independent / United Kingdom 11 Los Angeles Times / United States 12 El País / Spain
13 Financial Times / United Kingdom 14 The People's Daily / China 15 United Daily News / China 16 The Economic Daily / China
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25 Houston Chronicle / United States 26 Hürriyet / Turkey 27 Chicago Tribune / United States 28 The Examiner / United States
29 New York Post / United States 30 Asahi Shimbun / Japan 31 Corriere della Sera / Italy 32 The Economic Times / India
33 Milliyet Gazetesi / Turkey 34 Marca / Spain 35 Liberty Times / Taiwan 36 Die Welt / Germany
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53 Süddeutsche Zeitung / Germany 54 The Washington Times / United States 55 Clarín / Argentina 56 Chosun Ilbo / Japan
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