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08-24-2016 Science&Technology
Dyson Pure Cool Link review: a fan that blows clean air in your face

Dyson’s first Internet of Things fan, the Pure Cool Link, is also an air purifier that claims to be able to turn your pollution- or pollen-filled rooms into clean, hay-fever-free zones within minutes.

It’s the first in the new range of Link devices, which have Wi-Fi and connect to Dyson’s Link app on Android or iOS, allowing remote control, monitoring and information.

What does it do?

The theory behind the filtration is really quite simple. The Pure Cool Link pulls air through a fine mesh filter and fires it out through one of the company’s air multiplier fan designs.

The 360-degree glass HEPA filter can capture up to 99.95% of pollutants - anything over 0.1microns. In the air trapped in the filter there is pollen, spokes, smoke, dust and other irritants. The filter also has activated carbon, similar to that used in cooker hoods, to trap any chemicals in the air, thus removing smells and pollutants.

The cleaned air is then piped through to the paperclip-like loop, directing the air forward with force and sucking air through the back of the loop as it does so, amplifying the airflow.

Controls + App

There are two ways to control the Pure Link Cool. As with every other Dyson fan, there’s a small infrared remote for turning on the fan, increasing or decreasing its power, setting it to oscillate or operate on a timer. There’s also a button for putting it into night mode, which limits the fan strength to four or less and dims the LED display on the front.

Pressing the “auto” button allows the fan to control itself in response to the quality of the air in the room at the time, turning on and cleaning the air when required.

If you choose to the connect the fan to Wi-Fi – you do not have to – you can also control it using the Dyson Link app for Android or iOS. The app provides information on filter life, telling you when you need to change it – which is roughly once a year depending the quality of air in your house – and set schedules for it to run on a daily or weekly basis.

Users can also get an instant reading of the air quality around the fan and the air quality outdoors, and a chart showing air quality throughout the day or week and how often the purifier was active. There are also air quality targets that you can change, grouped into “good quality”, “sensitive to particles and pollutants” and “very sensitive to particles and pollutants”, which the machine responds to when automatically cleaning the air.


Using it is incredibly simple. Put it in your desired spot, plug it in, connect it to Wi-Fi using the app, which runs through a quick step-by-step guide then either hit the button the remote to set the fan in motion or switch it into automatic.

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Source: The Guardian

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08-24-2016 Science&Technology
Here’s how solar roofs fit into Elon Musk’s master plan

Earlier this month, Elon Musk made news again when he announced his intention to offer solar roofs, a product he sensed might need a few words of clarification.

"It's a solar roof as opposed to a module on a roof," he said on an earnings call about the planned merger between his electric car company, Tesla, with his cousin’s solar panel company, SolarCity. "It's not a thing on the roof, it is the roof."

This wasn’t technically the first mention of the solar roof — it also appeared in Musk’s Master Plan, Part Deux, released in July:

Create a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works, empowering the individual as their own utility, and then scale that throughout the world. One ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app.

Intriguing indeed. But we don’t have much more information than that.

Since then, the roofs have been called "out of left field," and "a sweeping expansion of Tesla’s clean energy ambitions," but they are neither. Solar roofs are not some side goof of Musk’s; they’ve been part of his ambition all along. People just haven’t been taking him seriously.

In making sense of this and other Musk moves, it seems to me that a few facts have been, if not missed, at least not emphasized enough.

Electricity is evolving into a more consumer-facing product

It might seem odd to graft a solar panel company onto an electric car company, like joining a dishwasher company with a lawnmower company. Why bother?

But as I noted when he first proposed acquiring SolarCity, Musk is targeting what he sees as an emerging ecosystem, or in terms more familiar to techies, a platform. Solar roofs fit snugly into that platform.

The default structure of the electricity system for the last century has been "hub and spoke" — large power plants which pour power into transmission lines, which pour it into distribution grids, which pour it into toasters, air conditioners, and televisions.

It was a one-way flow, and mostly "dumb" — there wasn’t the will or the technology to closely track or economize power consumption. The system was built to expand, to drive more electricity use, not to wring the most work out of every electron. The consumer’s only relationship to power was to consume it and pay monthly power bills.

Today, consumers can also generate electricity — they can be producer/consumers, or "prosumers," as people who hate the English language call them.

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Source: Vox

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08-24-2016 Politics
Foundation becomes campaign issue

(CNN)Hillary Clinton leads in the polls nationally and in key battleground states, but the flood of stories regarding her private email server and donations to the Clinton Foundation demonstrate the former secretary of state won't be able to completely outrun voter skepticism -- or Donald Trump.

Trump went on offense Monday, using the bulk of a speech in Akron, Ohio, to attack Clinton. "No issue better illustrates how corrupt my opponent is than her pay for play scandals as secretary of state," Trump said.

"I've become increasingly shocked by the vast scope of Hillary Clinton's criminality. It's criminality. Everybody knows it," he said as the crowd erupted in a sea of "Lock her up!" chants. "The amounts involved, the favors done and the significant numbers of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately," Trump said. "After the FBI and Department of Justice whitewash of the Clinton email crimes, they certainly cannot be trusted to quickly or impartially investigate Hillary Clinton's new crimes, which happen all the time."

During an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel" Monday night, Clinton brushed off any concerns about the release of additional emails after a federal judge Monday gave the State Department until next month to come up with a plan for making public thousands of emails that the FBI recovered as part of its probe into Clinton's use a private email server. "Jimmy, my emails are so boring," she said. "And I'm embarrassed about that. They're so boring. So we've already released, I don't know, 30,000 plus, so what's a few more?" Trump also encouraged his supporters to "watch" on Election Day, raising the specter of voter fraud: "When I say 'watch,' you know what I'm talking about." Recently, Trump had warned that the November election could be "rigged."

Trump supporter Sen. Jeff Sessions suggested that the Democratic presidential candidate used her high position to "extort" from international governments for her family's foundation. "The fundamental thing is you can not be Secretary of State of the United States of America and use that position to extort or seek contributions to your private foundation," he told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day" Tuesday. "That is a fundamental violation of law and that does appear to have happened." For Trump, the controversies are a welcome opportunity to push the idea that Clinton is part of the Washington establishment and can't be trusted to shun special interests. A Washington Post/ABC News poll from earlier this month showed that 59% of voters believe that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy.

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Source: CNN

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08-24-2016 Science&Technology
Android Nougat comes out of beta

Google surprised everyone when it launched a public beta of the Android Nougat back in March. Annual updates are nothing new for Android, but not only did this announcement come very early, it also offered users the option to easily install the beta with an over-the-air update. Now, half a year later, Nougat is out of beta and available for Google’s own Nexus devices (the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player), the Pixel C tablet and the General Mobile 4G.

If you own one of those devices (no matter whether you were enrolled in the beta or not), you should see an update prompt fairly soon. The first new phone that will come with Android Nougat pre-installed is the LG V20, which should arrive in early September.

Keep in mind that this will be a slow rollout. A Google spokesperson tells me that it may take several weeks for Nougat to arrive on all supported phones.

I’ve used the betas both on a Nexus 6P and Pixel C for the last few months. While Google says Nougat introduces about 250 major new features, you’ll likely only notice a handful when you first boot up your phone after the update.

The most obvious change is in the notifications system. Their look is now closer to Google’s Material Design guidelines and, more importantly, most applications now allow you to take an action (archive an email, for example) or respond to a message right from the notification. Nougat also bundles together notifications from the same app, so you can, for example, see all the messages with the same topic bundled into one expandable notification.

Google also redesigned the Quick Settings widget you see when you pull down from the top. Among other things, you can now easily move items around (without having to enable developer mode). If you only swipe down a little bit, you will only see a compact view for the first five items in the menu. To see all options, you have to swipe down a bit further.

Another very useful new feature (that you aren’t likely to discover by yourself, though), is the ability to switch between your two most recently used apps by double-tapping the Overview button (the square button that usually shows you your most recently used apps). That’s probably the one new Nougat feature I’ve used more often than any other so far.

Nougat also now lets you see two apps side-by-side (or on top of each other). Samsung and others already enabled a similar feature for their Android skins, but it’s a first for Google.

On the phone, I’ve not found this particularly useful, to be honest. On the Pixel C tablet, however, it makes a world of a difference. The tablet’s high-res screen and the fact that it features a very usable keyboard makes it a great machine for using basic productivity apps like Google Docs, Microsoft Word and others.

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Source: Tech Crunch

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08-24-2016 Cars
Delphi, Mobileye to offer driverless car system in 2019

Delphi Automotive PLC and Mobileye NV on Tuesday announced plans to jointly develop a fully autonomous vehicle system that the suppliers expect will be ready for production in 2019.

Each company is bringing different technologies to the table to create the driverless car system. Mobileye specializes in real-time mapping, while Delphi specializes in sensors, including cameras, LiDAR and radar, and software. The two companies say automakers will be able to buy the system and install it on a range of vehicle platforms, from small cars to SUVs and crossovers.

Delphi and Mobileye have planned a joint press conference for 9 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the plans.

“This partnership will allow us to give our customers an increased level of automated capabilities faster and more cost effective,” Kevin Clark, Delphi’s CEO, said in a statement. “The collective expertise of our two organizations will accelerate the creation of new approaches and capabilities that would likely not have been possible working alone. This is a win-win for both companies and our customers.”

Mobileye helped provide technology for Tesla’s Autopilot driver assist system, but the two companies split up earlier this year following a fatal crash involving the technology.

Delphi has been experimenting with autonomous car technology for years. Two years ago it demonstrated its autonomous vehicle system in a coast-to-coast drive across the country, and it recently announced a pilot program in Singapore that will feature driverless pods — without a steering wheel or pedals — ferrying passengers around a business park there by decade’s end.

The pair will showcase the fully autonomous vehicle system at the upcoming CES technology trade show in Las Vegas in January, Mobileye said in a release.

“Our partnership with Delphi will accelerate the time to market and enable customers to adopt Level 4/5 automation without the need for huge capital investments, thereby creating a formidable advantage for them,” Amnon Shashua, Mobileye chairman and chief technology officer, said in a statement.

The race to develop driverless cars has recently shifted into high gear.

Ford Motor Co. last week said it will have a fully driverless vehicle available for commercial purposes in 2021, and Uber last week said it will begin offering autonomous car rides in the coming weeks. The California ride-hailing service also purchased Otto, a startup working on self-driving big-rig technology.

General Motors Co. is partnering with Lyft to develop self-driving Chevrolet Bolts, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is providing Chrysler Pacificas to Google Inc. to outfit with autonomous technology.

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Source: Detroit News

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08-24-2016 Science&Technology
NASA Just Found a Lost Spacecraft

If movies about space have taught us anything, it’s that no one can hear you scream. If you get lost in space, nobody’s going to find you. Unless you’re a spacecraft with a direct link to NASA. Then, there is hope for you yet.

STEREO-B, from the Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory mission, went missing on October 1, 2014 after losing contact with the team back on Earth. However, on Sunday night, scientists were able to reestablish contact, after 22 months of searching, when the Deep Space Network (NASA’s tool for tracking space missions) was able to lock on to the signal.

In October 2006, STEREO-B and its partner STEREO-A embarked on a two-year-long mission to provide measurements of the sun’s flow of energy to Earth. One was slightly inside Earth’s orbit, and one was outside, allowing scientists to measure energy from multiple angles and eventually, the far side of the sun for the first time.

However, the team ran into a problem. One of the spacecraft was about to drift to the opposite side of the sun from Earth, so there was going to be a three-month period during which communication would be impossible. Since the spacecraft were only designed to be in space for two years, this development was overlooked at the time of the launch.

“The sun emits strongly in nearly every wavelength, making it the biggest source of noise in the sky,” said Dan Ossing, mission operations manager for the STEREO mission.“Most deep space missions only have to deal with sun interference for a day or so, but for each of the STEREO spacecraft, this period lasted nearly four months.”

Because the spacecraft was designed to reset after 72 hours without contact, the team decided to test it to make sure it could reestablish a signal with Earth durimg this reset period. The scientists figured it would turn itself back on.

The team received a weak signal after the first reset, and that was the last time they heard from STEREO-B. Until this week, when the Deep Space Network established a link with STEREO-B’s signal.

In a report from December 2015, scientists hypothesized that the tests went awry because the sensor that tells the spacecraft how fast it’s rotating failed, sending it spinning out of control. Meanwhile, the spacecraft’s battery was powered by solar panels, which weren’t able to get energy to power it up.

Since communications were lost, scientists have been using the network to check for STEREO-B, spacing out three three-hour blocks each week to search for it. This was a tough task, considering scientists had no idea where the spacecraft was.

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Source: Gizmodo

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08-24-2016 Sports
Russia banned from Paralympic Games after appeal failure

(CNN)Russia will not compete at next month's Paralympic Games in Rio.

Russia's appeal against the blanket ban imposed by Paralympics officials was rejected Tuesday — ending any hope the country's Paralympians had of competing in Rio. The Court for the Arbitration of Sport upheld the decision made by the International Paralympic Committee following allegations of state-sponsored doping.

A statement for CAS found that the IPC "did not violate any procedural rule in dealing with the with the disciplinary process" which led to the suspension of the Russian Paralympic committee. It added that the decision to ban Russia, "was made in accordance with the IPC rules and was proportionate in the circumstances." Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told the Tass news agency that the decision was "more political than judicial."

Russia was banned on August 7 by the IPC before launching an appeal. Upon announcing the ban earlier this month, committee president Philip Craven laid the blame on the Russian government.

Russia has "catastrophically failed its para athletes. Their medals-over-morals mentality disgusts me," he said at the time. The IPC had sought more information from Richard McLaren, who led the independent report for the World Anti-Doping Agency which alleged wide scale doping which had allegedly been covered up by the country's security services. Reacting to the verdict Tuesday, Craven said his organization was "greatly encouraged." "Today's decision underlines our strong belief that doping has absolutely no place in Paralympic sport, and further improves our ability to ensure fair competition and a level playing field for all Para athletes around the world," he said in a statement.

"Although we are pleased with the decision, it is not a day for celebration and we have enormous sympathy for the Russian athletes who will now miss out on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. It is a sad day for the Paralympic Movement, but we hope also a new beginning. We hope this decision acts as a catalyst for change in Russia and we can welcome the Russian Paralympic Committee back as a member safe in the knowledge that it is fulfilling its obligations to ensure fair competition for all.

"Beyond Rio 2016, we will work with the World Anti-Doping Agency to establish the criteria the Russian Paralympic Committee needs to meet in order to fulfil all its membership obligations and have its suspension lifted."

The IPC's decision to impose a blanket ban on Russian Paralympians was in complete contrast to the International Olympic Committee. The IOC asked each individual sporting federation to decide whether athletes could compete. A three-person IOC panel then had the final say -- allowing 271 Russians to take part in Rio with the team winning 56 medals.

Source: CNN

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08-24-2016 Health
Adult Brain Just As Vulnerable To Zika Virus As Fetal Brain: Study

It seems that unborn children aren't the only ones vulnerable to the devastating effects of Zika as a new study suggests that the infection can also cause severe damage to the brain of full-grown adults.

Previous studies have associated the Zika virus to a development of serious brain defects in infants, including microcephaly, which causes the child to be born with an abnormally sized head.

Subsequent research also showed a potential link between the mosquito-borne disease and a rare paralysis-inducing disorder known as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

In a new study featured in the journal Cell Stem Cell, researchers at the Rockefeller University in New York and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LIAI) in California have discovered that the virus may also attack a particular type of brain cell responsible for memory and learning abilities of a person.

Rockefeller University professor Joseph Gleeson and his colleagues engineered laboratory mice to display the same characteristics of a human infected with the Zika virus. They then used fluorescent biomarkers in order to tag specific infection sites in the animals.

The researchers were surprised to find that the Zika virus hijacked a group of brain cells in the mice known as neural progenitor cells, leaving the animals with a relatively smaller brain and suffering from mental impairment.

"Our results are pretty dramatic — in the parts of the brain that lit up, it was like a Christmas tree," Gleeson said. "It was very clear that the virus wasn't affecting the whole brain evenly, like people are seeing in the fetus."

Neural Progenitor Cells

According to the researchers, neural progenitor cells can mostly be found in the brain of developing fetuses, serving as a form of stem cell. When people grow into adulthood, some of the neural progenitor cells remain in their bodies to replenish the neurons in their brains.

While this helps maintain the good function of the brain, it also leaves the organ susceptible to Zika as the virus tends to attack neural progenitor cells. When this happens, the brain experiences a retarded growth.

Gleeson and his colleagues believe that the reason why adults are more resistant to Zika compared to infants is they have more development neurons. However, the presence of neural progenitor cells means that they are still vulnerable to brain damage by the virus.

"We asked whether [these cells] were vulnerable to Zika in the same way the fetal brain is," Gleeson pointed out. "The answer is definitely yes."

The researchers, however, noted that their study provides only an initial finding to how the Zika virus can affect the brain cells of adult humans. They were only able to focus on its impact on engineered mice and only at a single point in time during the infection.

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Source: Tech Times

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08-23-2016 Science&Technology
PS4 Slim leaks online, looks legit

Sony will have not one, but two consoles on show at its upcoming PlayStation Meeting event on September 7—and the first appears to have leaked online. A thinner, rounder PlayStation 4 Slim was spotted for sale on classified listings site Gumtree (now removed) via local retailer, which claimed it was due for release in three weeks. Twitter user shortman82 has since purchased the unit, unboxed it, and slapped a load of photos online.

The purported PS4 Slim looks considerably thinner than the original PS4, which was already a small console. The same cleaved-parallelepiped aesthetic remains, but the corners have been rounded off, while the glossy plastic section that covered the hard drive on the original PS4 has been removed entirely. While that's good for fans of fingerprint-free gadgets, it does raise questions as to whether the hard drive will be replaceable in the PS4 Slim, particularly as the listed model (CUH-2016A) only sports 500GB of storage.

Sony has typically removed features from its consoles to make them cheaper to manufacture and thus cheaper to sell to consumers (remember all the media card slots on the original PlayStation 3?), so such a move wouldn't be unprecedented.

Elsewhere, it appears the capacitive power and eject buttons have been replaced with physical ones, while Sony has also removed the dedicated optical audio output on the rear. Ethernet and HDMI remain, along with the lesser-used camera port from the original PS4.

Source: Ars Technica

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08-23-2016 Environment
This tree in Greece is Europe's oldest known living tree

European history has had one continuous observer for more than a thousand years: a pine tree in Greece.

Dendrochronologists have calculated the tree’s age to be at least 1,075 years old, making it the oldest tree in Europe. This little pine, nicknamed “Adonis,” has seen world wars, a century of revolutions, the Protestant Reformation, the Crusades, and a good chunk of the Dark Ages.

"The tree we have stumbled across is a unique individual," said Stockholm University graduate student Paul J. Krusic, according to the Washington Post. "It cannot rely on a mother plant, or the ability to split or clone itself, to survive."

Recommended: Climate change: Is your opinion informed by science? Take our quiz! He's referring to trees that repeatedly clone themselves, so a tree living now is genetically identical to one living more than 10,000 years ago. Tree systems like those have been called the oldest trees in the world, but the individual trees live only a few hundred years before asexually spawning a replacement clone.

This tree has, itself, lived through more than a thousand years of history.

"Cloning is a very effective evolutionary survival strategy," said Mr. Krusic. "It's cool, but it's not the same. It's not the same as you or I being left alone to our own devices and living for 1,000 years, like this tree."

Some other trees have been estimated to be a lot older than Adonis, but therein lies the rub. Estimation does not make an ancient tree, at least in the eyes of scientists. This tiny tree creates one new trunk ring each year, making it comparatively easy for scientists to determine its age.

According to Mr. Krusic, who was part of the team that counted tree rings for the study, Adonis is actually more than 1,075 years old. The scientists who took the pencil-sized core samples from Adonis’ tree trunk didn't reach the center of the tree, so it has more rings that they couldn't count.

"I am impressed, in the context of western civilization, all the human history that has surrounded this tree; all the empires, the Byzantine, the Ottoman, all the people living in this region,” Krusic said, according to “So many things could have led to its demise. Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years."

Elderly trees are rare in Europe, although they are relatively common in other parts of the world, including the United States. The reason has a lot to do with humans – the more human traffic there is in a region, the more likely a tree is to be chopped down for a human purpose, whether firewood or construction or to make room for development.

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Source: The Christian Science Monitor

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08-23-2016 Science&Technology
Your Instagram feed can tell us if you’re depressed, study suggests

If you've ever paused to reflect on the moody, filtered shots of a friend's Instagram feed and wondered whether you should reach out, a new study may confirm your worries.

Researchers Andrew Reece of Harvard University and Chris Danforth of the University of Vermont collected survey information and 43,950 Instagram photos from 166 volunteers recruited through Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which pays people small amounts to perform tasks.

Each participant was asked to complete a standardized clinical depression survey to assess depression level, answer demographic questions and share information about their use of social media, including their Instagram usernames. The researchers then analyzed the photos for quantitative measures of colors, brightness and faces, as well more subjective assessments of happiness, sadness, likeability and "interestingness."

The study is the latest in a body of research that looks at how changes in your psychology are reflected in social media. A team from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine examined how three aspects of movement in time and space which they dubbed "circadian movement," "normalized entropy," and "location variance" appear to correlate with symptoms of depression. Another study, out of Sweden, found that frequent cellphone use was associated with stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among both young adult men and women.

[How your cellphone knows if you’re depressed. It has to do with how you move through time and space.]

The key finding in the new study has to do with the curious relationship between mood and color. It turned out increased hue, with decreased brightness and saturation, appeared to predict depression. Hue refers to the place on a 360-degree color wheel, brightness from black to white, and saturation to what photographers call "colorfulness" or the intensity of a color. In other words, people who are depressed had pictures that were "bluer, grayer and darker."

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Source: Washington Post

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08-23-2016 Science&Technology
How to track poverty from space

You can get a pretty good idea of a country’s wealth by seeing how much it shines at night – just compare the intense brightness of China and South Korea to the dark mass of North Korea that’s sandwiched between them.

But nighttime lights don’t tell you which neighborhoods or villages within a large region are merely poor and which are home to people living in abject poverty. That’s the level of detail policymakers need when they decide where to deploy their economic development programs.

You could get that detail by sending legions of survey-takers into crowded slums and sparsely populated rural areas. But that would be hugely time-consuming and cost tens of millions of dollars or more.

So researchers at Stanford came up with a way to get computers and satellites to do the work for them.

Their computer model, described in the journal Science, isn’t perfect. But its predictive power is at least as good as – or better than – methods that rely on data from old and out-of-date surveys.

The Stanford approach requires a few key ingredients.

First, you need to have some kind of data that covers every single place where people live. You get bonus points if that data is in the public domain.

You also need a smaller amount of data that you know is pretty accurate.

Finally, you need a powerful computer that can calibrate the trove of “noisy” data to the smaller amount of reliable data.

The Stanford researchers tested their system with five African countries: Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda. They started with nighttime images captured as part of the U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Places that were brighter at night were presumed to be more economically developed than places that were dim.

Then they had their computer program compare the nighttime images to higher-resolution daytime images available via Google Static Maps. The program was able to recognize certain shapes in the daytime pictures that were correlated with economic development.

“Without being told what to look for, our machine learning algorithm learned to pick out of the imagery many things that are easily recognizable to humans – things like roads, urban areas and farmland,” study lead author Neal Jean, a computer science graduate student at Stanford’s School of Engineering, said in a statement.

Other recognizable features included waterways and buildings. The computer even learned to distinguish metal rooftops from those made of grass, thatch or mud, according to the study.

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Source: Miami Herald

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08-18-2016 Politics
The Daily 202: What Trump’s latest shakeup says about his flailing campaign

THE BIG IDEA: Shaking up his campaign once again, Donald Trump has decided to let Trump be Trump.

The Republican nominee knows he’s losing. Congenitally unable to take personal responsibility, he blames his slide in the polls on the people who have prodded him to act “presidential” and wage a more traditional campaign.

In a 5:38 a.m. press release, Trump announced that Stephen Bannon, who got rich on Wall Street but has never worked on a race before, will take a leave of absence from running to become the campaign’s “chief executive.” Pollster Kellyanne Conway, who worked for Ted Cruz’s super PAC during the primaries but has been friendly with Trump for years, will become campaign manager.

Paul Manafort will retain his titles as campaign chairman and chief strategist, but Trump advisers told Robert Costa overnight that his status has diminished internally due to the candidate’s unhappiness and restlessness in recent weeks. The aides told Costa that Trump has grown to feel “boxed in” and "controlled" by people who barely know him.

Trump plans to re-double his focus on holding big rallies and doing lots of TV hits. He’ll also more aggressively attack Hillary Clinton, to the extent that’s possible, and he’ll re-embrace his role as an outsider, making less of an effort to be nice to GOP greybeards.

During the primaries, when Trump was winning, then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski always said "let Trump be Trump." He now wants to get back to that type of campaign culture. The moves send “a signal, perhaps more clear than ever, that the real-estate mogul intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side,” Costa writes.

-- This is another proof point that Trump is not trying to run the kind of serious campaign that can actually win the presidency. That’s why it will frighten the GOP establishment, scare off some mainstream donors who have been playing footsie with the billionaire and push congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell a little closer to cutting Trump loose – maybe even before Labor Day. (Bannon’s site single-mindedly went after Paul Ryan in the run-up to his primary.)

-- Both of the newly-elevated advisers are conservative populists who will never discourage Trump from following his id. It’s hard for a 70-year-old man to change his ways, especially this one. Donald’s id demands instant gratification more than most people’s, and he’s long struggled to control his impulsiveness.

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Source: Washington Post

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08-17-2016 Science&Technology
Google's Hangouts still has a future: as an enterprise communication app

Share on Facebook (31) Tweet Share (7) Pin (1) Today, Google launched Duo, its new mobile-only video chat app. But that's only half of Google’s new messaging equation. The other half is Allo, its AI-enhanced texting app. Allo isn't available yet, even though Duo is a "companion app" to it. Google's VP for communications Nick Fox says that the two apps are being developed on different timelines and that it will be released in time.

Thing is, Google already has a messaging solution that handles both text and video chat — it's called Hangouts, and it's become the butt of many a joke about how moribund it has become. After launching with a lot of high-minded promises and ideas about the future of mobile communication, meaningful product development seems to have stalled out. Even so, Allo and Duo are not replacing Hangouts, which makes you wonder: what's next for Hangouts?

The answer is simple: business.

That's what Fox told me before diving into the product briefing for Duo. Google, he says, places its messaging goals into three buckets. And understanding them goes a long ways towards making sense of Google's "try everything" messaging strategy.


The first bucket is the one we're most familiar with: consumer services. This is squarely where Allo and Duo will sit. They're focused on end users, designed with simplicity in mind, and there's an attempt to add some "humanness" to them, in Fox's terms.

The second bucket: carrier services. This is where Google does a few different things. It makes the messaging app for SMS and RCS (Rich Text Services, the next-gen SMS), provides RCS services to carriers with its recently-acquired Jive software, and finally makes the phone app. "We don't think of the Phone app as a Google product as much as we think of it as a manifestation — hopefully a great manifestation — of the carrier's phone [...] calling service," says Fox. "Same thing with the SMS/RCS app," he adds.

That leaves the third bucket, the enterprise. And Fox says that's "where Hangouts will increasingly focus over time." Though he insists that Google "won't abandon consumer users in Hangouts, obviously," he does feel that apps do better with focus. That's a big reason why Duo is so heavily focused on phones, and a parallel focus on big business will apparently apply to Hangouts.

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Source: The Verge

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08-15-2016 Science&Technology
Microsoft Research working on the ultimate wearable: a tattoo to control devices remotely

Technology is evolving day by day; researchers are working to make your phone's battery last forever, developing chip architectures to allow multi-core phones and PCs to run up to 18 times faster, and are even promising a future where Pokémon GO is much more believable.

Now, PhD students from the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with Microsoft Research, are working to develop a temporary skin tattoo that can allow users to interact with connected interfaces, remotely control a smartphone, act as a touchpad, and even share data via NFC.

The technology has been dubbed as "DuoSkin", and is described as follows:

DuoSkin is a fabrication process that enables anyone to create customized functional devices that can be attached directly on their skin. Using gold metal leaf, a material that is cheap, skin-friendly, and robust for everyday wear, we demonstrate three types of on-skin interfaces: sensing touch input, displaying output, and wireless communication.

DuoSkin draws from the aesthetics found in metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos to create on-skin devices which resemble jewelry. DuoSkin devices enable users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on their skin while serving as a statement of personal style.

We believe that in the future, on-skin electronics will no longer be black-boxed and mystified; instead, they will converge towards the user friendliness, extensibility, and aesthetics of body decorations, forming a DuoSkin integrated to the extent that it has seemingly disappeared. The researchers involved are endeavoring to have at least three classes of on-skin interfaces, namely input, output and communication. Their work, if successful, will allow users to interact with DuoSkin using buttons, sliders and 2D trackpads. The technology, in return, also has the ability to output soft colored displays on the skin. In addition, MIT has also noted that DuoSkin can make devices interact using NFC, in order to share data between connected gadgets.

It is important to remember that back in 2010, a Carnegie Mellon student also designed a similar gesture-based interface that could be utilized on the wrist or the back of the hand. The project named as "Skinput" was aided by Microsoft Research as well, but it turned out to be economically infeasible.

Source and image: MIT via The Verge

Source: Neowin

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08-15-2016 Science&Technology
Hacker posts personal info of House Democrats and staff

WASHINGTON — After receiving a deluge of obscene voicemails and text messages, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi informed her fellow Democrats on Saturday of “an electronic Watergate break-in” and warned them not to allow family members to answer their phones or read incoming texts.

The breach targeted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democratic Party entities, Pelosi said in a statement. As a result, a mix of personal and official information of Democratic members and hundreds of congressional staff, purportedly from a hack of the DCCC, was posted online, she said.

Pelosi said she is changing her phone number and advised her colleagues to do the same.

A hacker who calls himself Guccifer 2.0 took credit for posting the information Friday night. He had claimed responsibility for the recent hack of Democratic National Committee emails, which roiled the Democratic National Convention last month. While Guccifer 2.0 has described himself as a Romanian hacker and denies working for Russia, online investigators assert that he is linked to Russia.

President Barack Obama said in late July that Russia may have been behind the leak of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails. Obama, who noted that outside experts have blamed Russia for the leak, suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin may have reason to facilitate the attack.

“Anything’s possible,” Obama told NBC News when asked whether Moscow was trying to influence the presidential election.

The FBI, which is investigating, hasn’t publicly attributed the attack to Russia. But Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign has, implying that the goal was to benefit Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump has rejected the allegation, insisting Democrats were trying to “deflect the horror and stupidity” of the leak.

Two U.S. cybersecurity firms have said their analysis of computer breaches at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, showed detailed evidence that the intrusions were likely linked to Russian hackers. The internet domains and registrants used in the breach of computers used by the committee tied back to a Russian hacking group linked to that nation’s intelligence services. That same hacking group, known as “Fancy Bear,” was previously connected to the cyber breach at the Democratic National Committee.

Both firms, Fidelis Cybersecurity and ThreatConnect, said the hackers created a fake internet DCCC donation site. The registrant for the fake DCCC site was linked back to other web domains used by “Fancy Bear.

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Source: Washington Post

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