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01-23-2018 Politics
Senate group scrambles for deal to end shutdown

A bipartisan group of roughly 20 senators are working toward an agreement to reopen the government.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said the group had reached a "consensus of understanding," not an agreement, noting those are two different things.

Multiple senators who were part of the talks stressed that their talks are fluid, and that the final decision rests with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who have been kept up to date on the talks.

But leaving a meeting held in Sen. Susan Collins's (R-Maine) office, some members expressed optimism that they will reach an understanding, if not a final agreement, that would allow them to approve a bill to reopen the government.

"I don't know if you're going to see a final deal but you might see a comfort level that would enable us to move forward," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted that senators could get a deal before a scheduled 1 a.m. procedural vote in the Senate.

"Yeah, because if it doesn't happen tonight, it's going to be a lot harder," he said.

The push to end the shutdown comes on the eve of the first weekday in which the full effects of the government closure will start to be felt. Government workers deemed "nonessential" could be kept home without pay, though critical government and military functions would continue.

"This shutdown is going to get a lot worse tomorrow. A lot worse," McConnell said earlier Sunday, ramping up the pressure on Democrats.

"Today would be a good day to end it. All we have to do is pass the commonsense legislation the Senate is currently considering. Ending a government shutdown and ensuring health care continues for vulnerable children — there is nothing in this measure that my Democratic friends cannot support."

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that there is a "glimmer of hope" that the Senate could wrap up its work this evening rather than in the middle of the night.

The bipartisan group isn't crafting separate legislation. Senators say the bulk of their talks were about how to get 60 votes for the bill to fund the government through Feb. 8, which would then be paired with a commitment that will satisfy Democrats on bringing up an immigration bill.

Collins said they are trying to reach a consensus on what would constitute a "fair process" on immigration, but declined to go into details, saying the talks are still "in flux."

The House is standing by in case the Senate is able to pass a funding bill Sunday evening, though there's no guarantee that Republicans there will accept a deal that includes an immigration component. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   The Hill

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01-23-2018 Science&Technology
HomePod Receives FCC Approval, Apple Might Give A Release Date Any Day Now

A couple of days ago, industry sources leaked information regarding the HomePod smart speakers from Apple. It claimed that a shipment was on its way.

An insider who worked for Inventec, a Taiwanese manufacturer commissioned to supply the Siri-powered speakers, noted that the first batch is only around one million units, which doesn't seem to be enough to meet the projected demand.

Now, reports claim that the device made its way to the FCC just like any device with wireless capabilities before its release.

Demand And Supply

The firm's other suppliers are apparently still busy catching up with production demand and tight shipping schedules. Analysts expect the company to ship around 10 to 12 million units before the end of the year. Meanwhile, updated reports from sources confirmed that the FCC just recently approved its distribution.

Launch Date Closer Than Speculated

Since its initial reveal, the smart speakers presumably did not change much from its original design. In fact, the documents filed with the FCC approval reportedly still dated Sept. 27, 2017. Based on the available details, Apple did not make any notable tweaks or replacements to the device's components.

The papers filed for the HomePod likewise revealed where the agency plans to attach its regulatory label. Users of the smart speaker will find the FCC information printed on the bottom of the unit.

Competition Will Be Tough

For now, the closest possible release date for the HomePod is sometime in February. The further its launch gets pushed back the better the foothold its competitors will establish.

After it missed its 2017 launch, Amazon and Google were the only two brands that had a presence during the holiday season.

Moreover, both companies actually licensed their digital voice assistant technologies to other manufacturers. Amazon's Alexa has been quite popular among users over the last few months with Google not far behind as it closes the gap.

Sound Quality Comparison

While most of the smart speakers out there were assembled by companies with little to no history with audio products, it is not hard to realize that audio quality is mostly just acceptable. There are certain models licensed out to brands that have decent to great output and quality.

The HomePod and its premium price point need to establish itself among competitors like Sony, JBL, Sonos, and Onkyo that already have a great background in audio speaker technology.

If The Price Is Right

With the affordable cost of some smart speakers, households can sometimes have more than one device installed in different areas like the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and more. Buyers have to consider that the Apple HomePod carries a premium price of $349, so having more than one of the Siri-enabled smart speaker is going to be expensive.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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01-26-2018 Science&Technology
Google CEO: ‘I don’t regret’ firing James Damore

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says he still believes that it was appropriate to fire James Damore. “I don’t regret it,” said Pichai, in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Ari Melber.

“It was the right decision,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, echoed onstage.

It’s been almost six months since the company dismissed the engineer, who authored a controversial memo about purported gender differences. In a 10-page rant, Damore made a series of claims arguing against Google’s diversity initiatives, some of which he incorrectly characterized as confirmed by science.

The decision to oust Damore received a lot of praise — and also a lot of condemnation. And now, Damore is threatening a class action lawsuit, alleging discrimination against what he labels as conservative views. (As a corporation, Google is within its legal rights to fire an “at-will” employee for just about anything, as long as they aren’t discriminating against a protected class.)

“The last thing we do when we make decisions like this is look at it with a political lens,” Pichai insisted. Ultimately, the company decided it was important for Google to “create a culture that is more supportive and inclusive of” women.

Wojcicki echoed that “if something violates our code of conduct, we should be able to take an action.” She said Damore’s writing struck a chord because she has devoted her career to technology and has encouraged other women to follow suit.

His remarks “just seemed to set us back so far in so many ways.”

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Crunch

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01-26-2018 Science&Technology
Google Teases Audiobooks in Google Play Store

If you love listening to Harry Potter in your car instead of sitting down and reading about the boy wizard's adventures—and you own an Android smartphone or tablet—you're in luck. Audiobooks are coming to Google Play, presumably in a big way.

According to numerous reports, Google recently put up a banner in the Google Play Store to indicate that "Audiobooks are now on Google Play." They weren't—or, rather, tapping the banner currently takes you to a 404 error page within the app and on the web. And Google does technically offer Audiobooks already, just through Google Play Music, not the Google Play Store directly.

Google is likely waiting to make a big announcement about the addition of an Audiobooks category to Google Play Store before it flips the switch. And when it does, the company is offering an incentive to get users browsing and buying: half-off the first audiobooks they purchase.

What we don't know is whether Google is planning to present audiobooks in both the Google Play Store and Google Play Music. To reduce confusion, it's possible that Google might just move all audiobooks to the Google Play Store. We also don't know just how many audiobooks Google is planning to offer within the Google Play Store, but we're expecting the selection to be much larger and more diverse than the Google Play Music's audiobook library.

As AndroidHeadlines notes, it appears that Google's rollout of a new category for audiobooks in the Google Play Store isn't global—users in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia have seen the promotional banners, but they aren't appearing for all Android users worldwide. This suggests that some countries might not be able to access audiobooks in the Google Play Store at first, but we'll have to wait until Google's announcement, which should hopefully happen in the new few days or weeks, to learn more.

Read Original Article     ON:   PC Mag

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01-26-2018 Entertainment
Screen Actors Guild Awards 2018: The winners' list

Who won big at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, honoring the best film and TV performances of 2017? Check out the list of winners (in bold) and nominees:

Male actor in a comedy series (TV)

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Aziz Ansari, Master of None

Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Sean Hayes, Will & Grace

WINNER: William H. Macy, Shameless

Marc Maron, GLOW





Screen Actors Guild Awards 2018


Allison Janney accepts the award for Outstanding Performance

Allison Janney accepts the award for female in a supporting role for her work as LaVona Golden in 'I, Tonya.' ROBERT HANASHIRO/USA TODAY

Female actor in a comedy series (TV)

Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black

Alison Brie, GLOW

Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie

WINNER: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Ensemble in a comedy series (TV)


Curb Your Enthusiasm


Orange Is the New Black


MORE: Best dressed at this year's SAG Awards

Supporting female actor (Movie)

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Hong Chau, Downsizing

Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

WINNER: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Supporting male actor (Movie)

Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water

WINNER: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Male actor in a TV movie or miniseries (TV)

Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective

Jeff Daniels, Godless

Robert De Niro, Wizard of Lies

Geoffrey Rush, Genius

WINNER: Alexander Skarsgård, Big Little Lies

Female actor in a TV movie or miniseries (TV)

Laura Dern, Big Little Lies

WINNER: Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies

Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan

Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan

Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies

Read Original Article     ON:   USA Today

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01-26-2018 Science&Technology
Twitter For Android Testing New Share Button And Bookmarks Feature

Twitter is making some changes to its beta app and it's something that not many social media users are expecting.

Twitter For Android Is Testing A New Share Button

The company is in the process of testing a new Share button on Android, which now looks like a three-dot Share button located at the bottom of tweets. For now, it seems to show up on a server-side test, so not many people are getting to see these new changes.

In addition, Twitter has also removed the Message icon, which allowed users to send privately to other users. From the screenshots users have seen so far, the new Share button has replaced the old Message icon.

Twitter's new Share button also provides new sharing options such as "Share via direct message" and "Share tweet via."

It's not a significant change, but users will definitely notice there's more space in the location of the old Tweet button, and it looks a lot cleaner.

Tweet Button For Sharing Launched In August 2010

Twitter officially launched its Tweet button for sharing articles on the web. The social media platform was keeping track of how many times a post has been shared back in August of 2010.

The Tweet button was not only designed to help its users share content but to also act as a useful tool for all publishers, whether from an indie or major media company.

The social media company really wanted to help publishers grow traffic and increase their following on Twitter. At launch, media organizations like Cracked, CBS Interactive, Gawker, Huffington Post, Hulu, TV Guide, as well as WordPress were some of the publishers that first used Twitter's new Tweet button.

Twitter Kills Off Tweetmeme's Retweet Button

Previously, websites like Tweetmeme and Retweet featured their own version of retweet buttons. Once Twitter added its version of the Tweet button, Tweetmeme founder Nick Halstead expected people would switch to Twitter. Halstead even supported Twitter's move as the company had a business deal in place for licensing the technology.

Twitter Also Testing A New Bookmarks Feature

Lastly, the company is also testing a new Bookmarks feature, which allows users to privately bookmark tweets so they can read at a later time.

Since both features have been spotted in the latest Android beta, users could be seeing these new features on Twitter very soon.

Read Original Article     ON:   Tech Times

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01-23-2018 Cars
Ford Mustang Bullitt No. 001 hits $300,000 at auction

Ford auctioned of the very first 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday, and the car brought a handsome $300,000.

That may seem absurd for a regular production Mustang that will probably start in somewhere in the $50,000 range, but don't fret -- it was all for a good cause.

It should warm your icy, cold heart to know that 100 percent of the auction's proceeds are going directly to charity. Specifically, this auction benefitted Boys Republic, a school and community for at-risk kids that help them learn the skills necessary to start an independent life.

Fun fact: Boys Republic helped Steve McQueen -- the iconic actor who starred in the movie 'Bullitt' and made this car possible --when he was a kid. Boys Republic has been around since 1907, and the group claims it's helped more than 30,000 kids during that period.

So, if you're the lucky party who picked up this badass special-edition 'Stang, congratulations -- you can feel good about where all that money is going. And if the car's $300,000 hammer price ended up a bit outside your financial ballpark, you can always pick up a Bullitt that doesn't happen to be No. 0001. After all, the first car off the line isn't any different than the ones that will come after it.

In case you've already forgotten, the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt is a limited-edition model built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of McQueen's movie of the same name. It sports quasi-vintage wheels, a number of Bullitt badges and all the benefits that come from the Mustang GT's Performance and Premium packages. Engine components borrowed from the GT350 boost the car's output to 475 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.

Originally published Jan. 19, 7:42 a.m. PT.

Update, Jan. 21, 12:47 p.m.: This article has been revised to reflect the vehicle's eventual selling price at auction.

That very small but very scary possibility is why NASA tracks so many space rocks and gives ones that are predicted to pass within a few moonshots the “potentially hazardous” terminology that births so many headlines.

The agency carried out a simulation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2016 about what could be done if a large asteroid really was found to be on a collision course with Earth. It was a grim exercise, involving the mass evacuation of Los Angeles “while also addressing how to refute rumors and false information that could emerge in the years leading up to the hypothetical impact.”

Fortunately, no such asteroid is known to exist.

Unfortunately, NASA’s still bogged down with managing rumors.

A previous version of this article misstated the number of Google results for hazardous asteroid stories on the Daily Mail's website.

Read Original Article     ON:   Cnet

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01-23-2018 Science&Technology
Let’s talk about the big scary asteroid that’s NOT going to hit Earth

An asteroid larger than any skyscraper yet built is hurtling toward Earth, the Daily Mail informs. If it hits on Feb. 4, the paper continues, scientists predict a decade of cold and darkness, skies choked with soot, and misery across the planet.

Between these paragraphs, the Mail inserts occasional reminders that asteroid 2002 AJ129 will not hit Earth, according to NASA. In fact it is predicted to get no closer than 2.6 million miles from Earth, despite NASA’s scary-sounding classification of the rock as “potentially hazardous” — a term which the Mail has paired with horrific illustrations of an asteroid careening straight into the planet.

The Sun is on the story too: “FAST AND DANGEROUS?” Meanwhile, the Daily Star has mocked up a depiction of the asteroid bearing down on Hyde Park. If you loaded up Google on Sunday morning and clicked “News,” you’d be greeted by a picture of AJ129 boiling away an ocean beside the headline “Doomsday?”

No wonder that on Friday, a concerned citizen sent NASA a link to a report that the asteroid was on a collision course to kill us all and asked why the agency wasn’t talking about it.

“Because it is a lie,” NASA tweeted in Spanish.

[ Watch the amazing moment a ‘rare’ meteor burst across the night sky over Michigan ]

Not even a novel lie. AJ129 is one of hundreds of asteroids of a certain size that have flown or will fly within 4.65 million miles of Earth and are therefore classified by NASA as “potentially hazardous.”

None of them are predicted to hit us.

When AJ129 passes closest to Earth next month, NASA has explained, it will still be 10 times as far from us as the moon. And while headlines are comparing it to the world’s tallest building, it could be as big as two-thirds of a mile across, or as small as about 500 yards.

In any event, it won’t matter much to us because it won’t hit us.

“We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately,” NASA manager Paul Chodas said. “Asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance — zero — of colliding with Earth on Feb. 4 or any time over the next 100 years.”

So why are the tabloids freaking out about the asteroid? Because they do it all the time.

A few weeks before AJ129 made headlines, the Daily Mail was warning about a truck-sized asteroid “set to make a ‘close’ approach with Earth in HOURS.” It passed by harmlessly.

In December, the paper was worried about 2012 DA14. Over the summer it was asteroid NY65, which the Mail wrote “could potentially wipe out life as we know it.” It didn’t. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   The Washington Post

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01-22-2018 Politics
China says U.S. warship violated its South China Sea sovereignty

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near a disputed shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea this week, U.S. officials said on Saturday, and Beijing vowed to take “necessary measures” to protect its sovereignty.

China’s foreign ministry said USS Hopper missile destroyer came within 12 nautical miles of Huangyan Island, which is also known as Scarborough Shoal and subject to a rival claim by the Philippines.

It was the latest U.S. naval operation challenging extensive Chinese claims in the South China Sea and came even as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration seeks Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

Two U.S. officials confirmed that the USS Hopper had sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the patrol was in line with international law and was an “innocent passage,” in which a warship effectively recognizes a territorial sea by crossing it quickly, without stopping.

Twelve nautical miles is an internationally recognized territorial limit.

The U.S. military says it carries out “freedom of navigation” operations throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and that they are separate from political considerations.

The Pentagon did not directly comment on the latest patrol but said such operations are routine.

“All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan said.

The U.S. military put countering China and Russia at the center of a new national defense strategy unveiled on Friday. China criticized the strategy, saying Beijing sought “global partnership, not global dominance.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the USS Hopper violated China’s sovereignty and security interests and threatened the safety of Chinese vessels and personnel.

Lu said the Chinese navy ordered the vessel to withdraw after determining its identity.

The United States has criticized China for constructing islands and military installations in the South China Sea, saying they could be used to restrict free movement in a critical global trade route.

Lu said China “firmly opposes” efforts to use freedom of navigation as an excuse to hurt its sovereignty and urged the United States to “correct its mistakes.”

China’s defense ministry said the repeated dispatch of U.S. warships to the region was “undermining regional peace and stability” and hurting bilateral relations. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Reuters

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01-22-2018 Science&Technology
Overwatch League pro player suspended after homophobic remark against opponent

Overwatch League pro player Felix Lengyel has been suspended from the tournament after using a homophobic slur on a live stream. Felix, known as xQx and plays for the Dallas Fuel team, was fined $2,000 and suspended for four games in the Overwatch League, until stage two commences in February. The league released a statement saying Felix had been suspended for ‘violating the Overwatch League Code Of Conduct during his individual stream on Thursday’.

While the statement didn’t specifically refer to the slur, it’s believed to have emerged after Lengyel hurled an insult at fellow player Austin ‘Muma’ Wilmot after his team Houston Outlaws beat Dallas Fuel 4-0. Wilmot parodied one of Lengyel’s catchphrases following the win, which led to Lengyel – who didn’t play in the match – to react in an extreme fashion on a livestream. On the livestream, Lengyel said: ‘Shut your f**king mouth. Go back there, suck a fat cock. I mean, he would like that.’

The streamer appeared to have been aware he’d crossed the line by going instantly quiet after the remark, with Wilmot being openly gay. The pair have since reconciled over the remarks on Twitter, with Wilmot writing in response to Lengyel’s apology: ‘No hard feelings at all and I apologize for what I said back. You’re on a great team and I fully expect you to return to full force before playoffs.’

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Read Original Article     ON:   Metro

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01-22-2018 Business
Google’s CEO has no problem releasing employees from nondisclosure agreements so women can speak out

Google’s top executives say that they don’t want employees, particularly women, to be forcibly silenced when it comes to speaking out about workplace issues like sexual harassment.

In a conversation with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Ari Melber today, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that he would have “no issues” with releasing women from contracts known as nondisclosure agreements, which some companies use to keep women from talking publicly about workplace issues once they’ve reached a settlement with a company.

The exchange took place during the taping of a new Recode TV show coming to MSNBC, called “Revolution.” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who was also part of the discussions, agreed.

Kara Swisher: “Will you release the women at Google from their nondisclosures that you may or may not have signed so they can tell their stories?”

Sundar Pichai: “I have no issues with that. I don’t think we typically do nondisclosure agreements around these types of issues.”

Susan Wojcicki: “I mean, I think we’re open to it. We haven’t discussed this, but I think it can make sense. We want to provide a more open environment and if there are issues and stories, we want to hear about them and talk about them. And I think at the end of the day it comes from the CEO, it comes from the very top. And we need the leadership to be able to say, ‘This is the right thing to do, this is how you run a tech company.’ And we need the CEOs of Silicon Valley to take a strong stance that they want an open and diverse environment.”

It’s not known if there are any former Google employees currently under such NDA agreements.

Update: A Google spokesperson reached out to confirm that the company does not have any agreements — employment, NDA or settlement agreements — that would prevent a Google employee from publicly discussing a harassment issue.

When BuzzFeed wrote a story about these kind of NDAs last November, a Google spokesperson told the publication: “We encourage our employees to report concerns about harassment ... Our employment agreements don’t prohibit anyone from talking publicly about instances of harassment.”

(Employment agreements are not the same as nondisclosure agreements, though.)

Today’s discussion came on the heels of what was a significant year of self-reflection in Silicon Valley with regard to issues of workplace culture. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Recode

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01-22-2018 Science&Technology
Rocket Lab Launches 2nd Test Flight of Electron Small-Satellite Booster

An Electron rocket built by the commercial startup Rocket Lab successfully launched on its second test flight from New Zealand, carrying the company's first customer payloads into orbit.

The Electron blasted off today from the company's private launch facility on the M?hia Peninsula in New Zealand at 2:43 p.m. local time, which is 8:43 p.m. EST on Jan. 19 (0143 GMT). The launch was delayed 24 hours after two ships encroached into the launch's offshore keep-out zone.

Rocket Lab had initially scheduled its second Electron test flight for December, but various issues (mainly weather) stopped the company from going ahead with launch. Company representatives said ahead of the first launch window's opening that they were anticipating delays, and wanted to wait for perfect conditions to conduct the test. An attempt

This is Rocket Lab's second test flight of the Electron, and it marks an important step toward the company's goal of entering into commercial operations in 2018. The Electron can carry up to about 500 lbs. (225 kilograms) of payload — much less than most large rockets, which can carry thousands to tens of thousands of pounds. Electron's smaller size is meant to increase affordability and launch flexibility for customers with smaller payloads.

The company's first test launch of the Electron took place on May 25. On that day, the third stage of the rocket failed to reach its desired altitude, a problem that Rocket Lab later said was due to a ground equipment issue.

One of the satellites aboard the Electron rocket is a bread-loaf-size Earth-observing Dove satellite from the startup Planet (formerly Planet Labs). The other two are Lemur Earth-observing satellites from the company Spire. In general, satellites are becoming much smaller and cheaper to build, which is why a handful of companies, including Rocket Lab, are trying to provide a cheaper and more flexible way to get those small payloads into orbit.

Larger rockets, like those flown by companies including SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, can carry thousands or tens of thousands of pounds of cargo, and therefore small payloads generally have had to "piggyback" with larger payloads to get to space. Massive rockets are more complicated to launch, so customers are limited on the turnaround time for a liftoff. (Delays can shift launches back by months or years.) They're also more expensive to build, which limits the number of launches those companies do, which in turn limits the number of opportunities that customers have to space. ...

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01-19-2018 Games
Nintendo Labo Is A Bizarre New Switch Game With DIY Cardboard Accessories

Nintendo promised news on a new "experience" for Switch, and it has indeed delivered--albeit with a look at a strange new project called Nintendo Labo. It appears to be a sort of mini-game collection that involves creating real-life cardboard accessories that come with the game.

Details are still scant, but based on the debut trailer, you'll take part in activities like fishing, playing piano, racing a bike, and wreaking havoc as a giant robot. This is all done by detaching the Joy-Cons from the Switch itself and using cardboard to construct the aforementioned accessories, which take the form of a fishing pole, piano, camera, and so on. Instructions for building these are provided on-screen.

Yes, you literally are purchasing a game and actual cardboard to create what Nintendo calls Toy-Cons. There are two separate bundles that have been announced: the Variety Kit ($70 USD/$100 AUD) and Robot Kit ($80 USD/$120 AUD), which are outlined below. They'll both be available on April 20 in the US and Australia, or April 27 in Europe. European pricing has not been confirmed as of yet. A separate, $10 Customization Set includes stencils, stickers, and colored tape to help you design your Toy-Cons.

The official website for Labo talks about being able to customize your creations by painting them or affixing stickers to them, but more intriguing is a line about "dream[ing] up new ways to use your Toy-Con creations...and bring[ing] them to life." It's unclear if there will be a way to create original games in Labo or if Nintendo's simply talking about waving the accessories around and using your imagination.

Those eager to try Labo out ahead of its launch will have the opportunity to do so in New York City or San Francisco, provided you can make it there and have a child 6-12 years old. You can submit an application to attend here.

Below, you'll find the different things that can be built with each of the two announced packs, with descriptions provided by Nintendo. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   Game Spot

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01-18-2018 Science&Technology
Alexa, Google Assistant want to be everywhere in 2018

At one section of Google's giant outdoor booth at CES was an impromptu, carney-style one-man show, with a guy wearing dark sunglasses and a white Google Assistant jumpsuit loudly and enthusiastically giving away free electronics one by one t14899o a snaking line of gawking tech-show goers.

"He got a Google Home Mini! Let's get a picture, boss!" he yelled out as I walked by on Thursday.

"Google's even giving out smart lights!" he told the crowd. "I didn't even know lights could be smart! Congratulations, dude!"

This one booth bro embodied Google's efforts at CES 2018, with the search giant making a rare and splashy appearance at the world's largest tech show. The company was working to drum up attention for its Google Assistant voice helper as it tries to catch up to Amazon's Alexa, the dominant force in voice-controlled smart speakers.

Not to be outdone, Amazon was part of dozens of partnership announcements at CES, with Alexa making its way into Toyota cars, Vuzix smart glasses and Kohler smart toilets.

That blow-for-blow fight between Amazon and Google highlights the tech industry's expectation that voice assistants will play a much bigger role in your digital life this year. Executives from both companies at CES talked about bringing their voice assistants to many more places like cars, earbuds and office meeting rooms, so your voice assistant can seamlessly be available to you anytime and anywhere -- apparently even on the toilet.

"If voice is going to be everywhere, you want to see voice transition from the home, when you get into your car. … You'd also want it at work," said Steve Rabuchin, Amazon's vice president of Alexa Voice Service and Alexa Skills. "We're going off into auto and these other places because we believe voice is a natural interface and it should be ambient."

So far, voice assistants have built up a fanbase as controllers of the smart home, helping people play music or operate their connected lights. The challenge will be whether these assistants can effectively transition into other places. That test is already playing out in phones, with Apple's Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant already available in oodles of handsets, but results have been mixed.

Samsung is also working to bring its assistant Bixby into its TVs and appliances this year. Siri, meanwhile, was wholly overshadowed at CES and is in danger of falling well behind the pack.

Plus, some customers, concerned about privacy, may not want their assistants to travel with them. Others might be annoyed if someone is loudly chatting with his assistant out in public, requiring new guidelines for voice assistant etiquette. ...

Read Original Article     ON:   CNET

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01-18-2018 Environment
Even the Eyelashes Freeze: Russia Sees Minus 88.6 Degrees F

MOSCOW (AP) — Even thermometers can't keep up with the plunging temperatures in Russia's remote Yakutia region, which hit minus 67 degrees Celsius (minus 88.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas Tuesday.

In Yakutia — a region of 1 million people about 3,300 miles (5,300 kilometers) east of Moscow — students routinely go to school even in minus 40 degrees. But school was canceled Tuesday throughout the region and police ordered parents to keep their children inside.

In the village of Oymyakon, one of the coldest inhabited places on earth, state-owned Russian television showed the mercury falling to the bottom of a thermometer that was only set up to measure down to minus 50 degrees. In 2013, Oymyakon recorded an all-time low of minus 71 degrees Celsius (minus 98 Fahrenheit).

Over the weekend, two men froze to death when they tried to walk to a nearby farm after their car broke down. Three other men with them survived because they were wearing warmer clothes, investigators reported.

But the press office for Yakutia's governor said Tuesday that all households and businesses in the region have working central heating and access to backup power generators.

Residents of Yakutia are no strangers to cold weather and this week's cold spell was not even dominating local news headlines Tuesday.

But some media outlets published cold-weather selfies and stories about stunts in the extreme cold. Women posted pictures of their frozen eyelashes, while YakutiaMedia published a picture of Chinese students who got undressed to take a plunge in a thermal spring.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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01-17-2018 Science&Technology
Google's museum app finds your fine art doppelgänger

If you've ever wondered if there's a museum portrait somewhere that looks like you and you're ready to have your ego crushed, there's now an app for that. Google Arts & Culture's latest update now lets you take a selfie, and using image recognition, finds someone in its vast art collection that most resembles you. It will then present you and your fine art twin side-by-side, along with a percentage match, and let you share the results on social media, if you dare.

The app, which appears to be unfortunately geo-restricted to the United States, is like an automated version of an article that circulated recently showing folks standing in front of portraits at museums. In many cases, the old-timey people in the paintings resemble them uncannily, but, other than in rare cases, that's not the case at all with Google's app.

Google matched me with someone who doesn't look like me in the slightest, a certain Sir Peter Francois Bourgeois, based on a painting hanging in Dulwich Picture Gallery. Taking a buzz around the internet, other folks were satisfied with their matches, some took them as a personal insult, and many were just plain baffled, in that order, as presented below. From all that, it's pretty clear that deep learning systems like those from Google are great at matching individual details, but painfully miss the big picture.


Update: As some folks, like Twitter user @AndrewCBartlett have pointed out, and as the Google Arts & Culture app warns, the museum-matching feature appears to be limited to the United States. I was unknowingly able able to access it in France thanks to my always-on VPN, so that's another way to go. If it does work in any other nations, please do let us know in the comments.

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1 The New York Times / United States 2 The Guardian / United Kingdom 3 The Daily Mail / United Kingdom 4 China Daily / China
5 The Washington Post / United States 6 The Telegraph / United Kingdom 7 The Wall Street Journal / United States 8 USA Today / United States
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
17 Le Monde / France 18 Daily Mirror / United Kingdom 19 El Mundo / Spain 20 Daily News / United States
21 La Repubblica / Italy 22 Bild / Germany 23 Le Figaro / France 24 The Sydney Morning Herald / Australia
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
37 The Globe and Mail / Canada 38 Nihon Keizai Shimbun / Japan 39 The Hollywood Reporter / United States 40 Sabah / Turkey
41 The Christian Science Monitor / United States 42 Daily Express / United Kingdom 43 Kompas / Indonesia 44 The Indian Express / India
45 Yomiuri Shimbun / Japan 46 Gazeta Wyborcza / Poland 47 The Hindu / India 48 The Toronto Star / Canada
49 The Sun / United Kingdom 50 The Age / Australia 51 The Boston Globe / United States 52 Philippine Daily Inquirer / Philippines
53 Süddeutsche Zeitung / Germany 54 The Washington Times / United States 55 Clarín / Argentina 56 Chosun Ilbo / Japan
57 Die Zeit / Germany 58 The Onion / United States 59 Metro / United Kingdom 60 ABC / Spain
61 The Seattle Times / United States 62 The Times / United Kingdom 63 La Gazzetta dello Sport / Italy 64 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung / Germany
65 The Hill / United States 66 Dainik Bhaskar / India 67 The Philadelphia Inquirer / United States 68 The Oregonian / United States
69 The Dong-a Ilbo / Korea 70 La Nación / Argentina 71 The Hindustan Times / India 72 San Jose Mercury News / United States
73 The Dallas Morning News / United States 74 AS / Spain 75 The Australian / Australia 76 Star Tribune / United States
77 Qingdao News / China 78 The Jerusalem Post / Israel 79 The Plain Dealer / United States 80 L'Equipe / France
81 Komsomolskaya Pravda / Russia 82 The Denver Post / United States 83 Mladá fronta Dnes / Czech Republic 84 Libération / France
85 O Globo / Brazil 86 Aftonbladet / Sweden 87 The Japan Times / Japan 88 Business Standard / India
89 Le Nouvel Observateur / France 90 Kommersant / Russia 91 Le Parisien / France 92 The New Zealand Herald / New Zealand
93 Detroit Free Press / United States 94 Newsday / United States 95 The Baltimore Sun / United States 96 National Post / Canada
97 Il Sole 24 Ore / Italy 98 The Miami Herald / United States 99 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / United States 100 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / United States
101 The Irish Independent / Ireland 102 South China Morning Post / Hong Kong SAR 103 The Irish Times / Ireland 104 The Star Online / Malaysia
105 De Telegraaf / Netherlands 106 Dawn / Pakistan 107 Der Standaard / Austria 108 The Sacramento Bee / United States
109 20 Minutos / Spain 110 Mainichi Shimbun / Japan 111 Rossiyskaya Gazeta / Russia 112 Apple Daily / Taiwan
113 DNA - Daily News & Analysis / India 114 La Stampa / Italy 115 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / United States 116 20 Minutes / France
117 La Vanguardia / Spain 118 Evening Standard / United Kingdom 119 China Times / Taiwan 120 The Straits Times / Singapore
121 Orlando Sentinel / United States 122 Der Tagesspiegel / Germany 123 South Florida Sun-Sentinel / United States 124 Verdens Gang / Norway
125 Argumenti i Fakti / Russia 126 Boston Herald / United States 127 Infobae / Argentina 128 Dagbladet / Norway
129 Independent Online / South Africa 130 The New York Observer / United States 131 Yeni Safak / Turkey 132 Seattle Post-Intelligencer / United States
133 The Kansas City Star / United States 134 Al-Ahram / Egypt 135 The Scotsman / United Kingdom 136 Nikkan Sports / Japan
137 Deseret News / United States 138 Herald Sun / Australia 139 The Vancouver Sun / Canada 140 Yang Cheng Wan Bao / China
141 Les Échos / France 142 Gulf News / United Arab Emirates 143 Yedioth Aharonot / Israel 144 Sports Nippon / Japan
145 The Orange County Register / United States 146 Expressen / Sweden 147 St. Louis Post-Dispatch / United States 148 / Russia
149 Handelsblatt / Germany 150 The Daily Telegraph / Australia

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