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Milky Way Is Being Pushed Across the Universe

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 08:00
dryriver quotes a report from CNN: Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is being pushed across the universe by a large unseen force, according to new research. Although it may not seem like a friendly gesture, the newly discovered Dipole Repeller is actually helping our galaxy on its journey across the expanding universe. Researchers have known that the galaxy was moving at a relative speed for the past 30 years, but they didn't know why. "Now we find an emptiness in exactly the opposite direction, which provides a 'push' in the sense of a lack of pull," said Brent Tully, one of the study authors and an astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu. "In a tug-of-war, if there are more people at one end, then the flow will be toward them and away from the weaker side." But this is no aimless journey of motion. Researchers have long believed that our galaxy was attracted to an area rich with dozens of clusters of galaxies 750 million light-years away, called the Shapley Concentration or Shapley Attractor. "We found a flow pattern reminiscent of streams of water that are organized by gravity to run downhill," Tully said. "In detail, we played a mathematical trick by inverting the sense of gravity to see where flows would terminate in this altered case. Flows ended at our Dipole Repeller."

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Apple Developing Custom ARM-Based Mac Chip That Would Lessen Intel Role

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 04:30
According to Bloomberg, Apple is designing a new chip for future Mac laptops that would take on more of the functionality currently handled by Intel processors. The chip is a variant of the T1 SoC Apple used in the latest MacBook Pro to power the keyboard's Touch Bar feature. The updated part, internally codenamed T310, is built using ARM technology and would reportedly handle some of the computer's low-power mode functionality. From the report: The development of a more advanced Apple-designed chipset for use within Mac laptops is another step in the company's long-term exploration of becoming independent of Intel for its Mac processors. Apple has used its own A-Series processors inside iPhones and iPads since 2010, and its chip business has become one of the Cupertino, California-based company's most critical long-term investments. Apple engineers are planning to offload the Mac's low-power mode, a feature marketed as "Power Nap," to the next-generation ARM-based chip. This function allows Mac laptops to retrieve e-mails, install software updates, and synchronize calendar appointments with the display shut and not in use. The feature currently uses little battery life while run on the Intel chip, but the move to ARM would conserve even more power, according to one of the people. The current ARM-based chip for Macs is independent from the computer's other components, focusing on the Touch Bar's functionality itself. The new version in development would go further by connecting to other parts of a Mac's system, including storage and wireless components, in order to take on the additional responsibilities. Given that a low-power mode already exists, Apple may choose to not highlight the advancement, much like it has not marketed the significance of its current Mac chip, one of the people said. Building its own chips allows Apple to more tightly integrate its hardware and software functions. It also, crucially, allows it more of a say in the cost of components for its devices. However, Apple has no near-term plans to completely abandon Intel chips for use in its laptops and desktops, the people said.

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Researchers Unveil First Ever Blueprint To Construct a Large Scale Quantum Computer

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 03:05
haruchai quotes a report from Phys.Org: An international team, led by a scientist from the University of Sussex, have today unveiled the first practical blueprint for how to build a quantum computer, the most powerful computer on Earth. The work features a new invention permitting actual quantum bits to be transmitted between individual quantum computing modules in order to obtain a fully modular large-scale machine capable of reaching nearly arbitrary large computational processing powers. Prof Hensinger said: "The availability of a universal quantum computer may have a fundamental impact on society as a whole. Without doubt it is still challenging to build a large-scale machine, but now is the time to translate academic excellence into actual application building on the UK's strengths in this ground-breaking technology. I am very excited to work with industry and government to make this happen." The computer's possibilities for solving, explaining or developing could be endless. However, its size will be anything but small. The machine is expected to fill a large building, consisting of sophisticated vacuum apparatus featuring integrated quantum computing silicon microchips that hold individual charged atoms (ions) using electric fields. The plans for creating a universal quantum computer has been published in the journal Science Advances.

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New York Sues Charter Over Slow Internet Speeds

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 02:25
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: New York filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing Charter Communications Inc of short-changing customers who were promised faster internet speeds than it could deliver. The lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan accused Charter's Spectrum unit, until recently known as Time Warner Cable, of systematically defrauding customers since 2012 by promising and charging for services it knew it could not offer. At least 640,000 subscribers signed up for high-speed plans but got slower speeds, and many subscribers were unable to access promised online content such as Facebook, Netflix, YouTube and various gaming platforms, the complaint said. The lawsuit seeks "full restitution" for customers, as well as hefty civil fines. Among the allegations in the complaint was an accusation that Time Warner Cable leased older-generation modems to 900,000 subscribers knowing that the modems could not achieve faster internet speeds.

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Police Use Pacemaker Data To Charge Homeowner With Arson, Insurance Fraud

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 01:45
JustAnotherOldGuy writes from a report via Network World: If you're dependent upon an embedded medical device, the device that helps keep you alive may also be used to incriminate you in a crime. Ross Compton, a 59-year-old homeowner in Ohio called 911 in September 2016 to say that his house was on fire, however there were many irregularities to the blaze that investigators found suspicious, such as contradictory statements from Compton and the way that the fire had started. In the ensuing investigation, the police secured a warrant for the logs from his pacemaker, specifically, "Compton's heart rate, pacer demand and cardiac rhythms before, during and after the fire." They subsequently filed charges of felony aggravated arson and insurance fraud. Middletown Police said this was the first time it had used data from a heart device to make an arrest, but the pacemaker data proved to be an "excellent investigative tool"; the data from the pacemaker didn't correspond with Compton's version of what happened. The retrieved data was used to help indict Compton. Lt. Jimmy Cunningham stated, "It was one of the key pieces of evidence that allowed us to charge him."

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2.5 Million Xbox and PlayStation Gamers' Details Have Been Leaked From Piracy Forums

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 01:05
Xbox360ISO.com and PSPISO.com have been hacked by an unknown attacker in late 2015 and the details of the 2.5 million users affected have been leaked online. The leaked information contains email addresses, IP addresses, usernames and passwords. The Next Web reports: It seems that the operator of these sites did nothing to protect the latter, as all passwords were "protected" using the MD5 hashing system, which is trivially easy to overcome. For reference, that's the same hashing system used by LinkedIn. As the names of these sites imply, they were used to share pirated copies of games for Microsoft and Sony's gaming platforms. They also both have a thriving community where people discussed a variety of tech-related topics, including gaming news and software development. If you think you might have had an account on these sites at one point, and want to check if you were affected, you can visit Troy Hunt's Have I Been Pwned. If you have, it's worth emphasizing that anyone who gained access to that site, and anyone who has since downloaded the data dump, will be able to discern your password. If you've used it on another website or platform, you should change it.

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Medals To Be Made From Recycled Phones

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 00:20
Mickeycaskill quotes a report from Silicon.co.uk: The medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be made from recycled mobile phones in an effort to engage the Japanese nation and meet sustainability criteria. The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has called on the Japanese public to donate their "discarded or obsolete electronic devices" to provide the eight tonnes of metal required for the production of the medals. The production process will reduce this eight tonnes down to around two, enough to produce 5,000 Olympic and Paralympic medals. Collection boxes will be installed in the stores of partner organizations NTT DOCOMO and the Japan Environmental Sanitation Center (JESC) from April, with the collection ending when the eight-tonne target is reached.

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Tim Sweeney Dislikes Windows 10 Cloud Rumors, Calls OS 'Crush Steam Edition'

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 23:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The rumor that Microsoft is building a version of Windows 10 that can only install apps from the Windows Store has drawn criticism before it's even official. Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney took to Twitter to attack the operating system. Although its real name is named Windows 10 Cloud, he's dubbing it "Windows 10 Crush Steam Edition." Sweeney is convinced that Microsoft wants to exercise total control over the Windows platform and destroy Valve's Steam. Last year, Sweeney attacked the Universal Windows Platform API. He claimed (incorrectly) that third-party stores such as Steam would be unable to sell and distribute UWP games, leaving them at a disadvantage relative to Microsoft's own store. He followed this statement with the claim that Microsoft would systematically modify Windows so as to make Steam work worse and worse, such that gamers grow tired of it and switch to the Windows Store. In his tweets, Sweeney recognizes that Microsoft wants to compete with Chrome OS. But he fails to understand what the company must do to actually offer that competition. He wrote that "it's great for Microsoft to compete with ChromeOS, but NOT BY LOCKING OUT COMPETING WINDOWS SOFTWARE STORES." This statement represents a failure to understand that "locking out competing Windows software stores" is, for this market, positively desirable. It's fundamental to preventing the hard-to-support free-for-all that a Windows system would otherwise represent. A later tweet does recognize the value of this lockdown, but Sweeney says that Windows 10's "great admin features to limit user software installs" should be used instead. This again suggests a misunderstanding of the target market: systems will be used with little to no supervision and with little to no administrative oversight. To compete against the Chromebook, Windows 10 Cloud needs to be locked down by default, and it must not offer any ready way to disable that lockdown. In his complaints, Sweeney also fails to consider what happens should the Chromebook threat go unaddressed: Chromebooks running Chrome OS will proliferate. These machines will not support third-party stores, they will not support Steam, and they will not support PC games at all. Sweeney may not want Microsoft to build this world, but even if Microsoft doesn't create it, Google already is doing so.

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Airbus Is About To Build A Self-Flying Electric Robo-Taxi

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 23:00
Airbus said today it is building a prototype of an electric self-flying plane for a single passenger, which it is calling the Vahana. The autonomous plane can fly a single passenger on trips of around 50 miles. From a report on FastCompany: Airbus teased two possibilities for the Vahana on December 14: an electric helicopter and a plane with wings that tilt up to enable vertical take off and landing, or VTOL. After its engineers ran the numbers on both types, Airbus today announced that it's building a prototype of the sci-fi looking tilt-wing plane, which will begin test flights before the end of the year. "The vehicle is being built. Parts are being made as we speak," says Airbus chief engineer Geoffrey Bower. The company's goal is to get air taxis in service in about 10 years, possibly partnering with ride-hailing companies like Uber. "We would love to see what that kind of partnership might evolve into," says Maryanna Saenko of Airbus Ventures.

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Jury Orders Oculus To Pay $500 Million In ZeniMax Lawsuit

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 22:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Polygon: A Dallas, Texas jury today awarded half a billion dollars to ZeniMax after finding that Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, and by extension Oculus, failed to comply with a non-disclosure agreement he signed. In awarding ZeniMax $500 million, the jury also said that Oculus did not misappropriate trade secrets as contended by ZeniMax. Of the $500 million, Oculus is paying out $200 million for breaking the NDA and $50 million for copyright infringement. Oculus and Luckey each have to pay $50 million for false designation. And Iribe has to pay $150 million for the same, final count. The decision came back Wednesday afternoon following two and a half days of deliberation in the case being tried in a United States District court in the North District of Texas. Both id Software co-founder John Carmack and Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey were in the courtroom when the verdict was read. During closing arguments, ZeniMax attorney Anthony Sammi called the incident a heist and argued that ZeniMax should be awarded $2 billion in compensation and another $2 billion in punitive damages. Oculus attorney Beth Wilkinson argued that the multibillion-dollar lawsuit was driven by ZeniMax's embarrassment, jealousy and anger, not facts. It remains unclear what sort of impact this will have on the daily retail sale of the Oculus Rift headsets.

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EU Announces Deal To End All Wireless Roaming Charges

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 21:40
The European Union took a big step toward creating a Digital Single Market today with the announcement of a deal that would end roaming charges for mobile consumers across the continent. From a report on VentureBeat: The plan had originally been announced two years ago when the European Commission unveiled an ambitious plan to create a DSM that would unify the continent's fractured rules around digital content, ecommerce, and mobile communications. However, the plan to end roaming charges across boarders ran into stiff opposition from telecom carriers worried about profits and consumers who were concerned about limits it imposed on data usage. As a result, the proposal appeared dead at one point last year. But negotiators said today they had reached an agreement on technical issues like sharing carrier costs across networks and a gradual phase-out of caps on data usage.

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Leaked Video Shows New 'Nightmare-Inducing' Wheeled Robot From Boston Dynamics

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 21:00
Boston Dynamics has a reputation for building robots which push the boundaries of robotics technology, although with a slightly creepy persona. Its latest robot is no different. From a report on The Verge: The company's new wheeled, upright robot is named Handle ("because it's supposed to handle objects") and looks like a cross between a Segway and the two-legged Atlas bot. Handle hasn't been officially unveiled, but was shown off by company founder Marc Raibert in a presentation to investors. Footage of the presentation was uploaded to YouTube by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson. Raibert describes Handle as an "experiment in combining wheels with legs, with a very dynamic system that is balancing itself all the time and has a lot of knowledge of how to throw its weight around." He adds that using wheels is more efficient than legs, although there's obviously a trade-off in terms of maneuvering over uneven ground. "This is the debut presentation of what I think will be a nightmare-inducing robot," says Raibert.

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Reached Via a Mind-Reading Device, Deeply Paralyzed Patients Say They Want to Live

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 20:20
Neuroscientists have designed a brain-reading device to hold simple conversations with "locked-in" patients that promises to transform the lives of people who are too disabled to communicate. Details of four patients who were able to communicate using what is being touted as a groundbreaking system were made public this week. From a report on MIT Technology Review: Now researchers in Europe say they've found out the answer after using a brain-computer interface to communicate with four people completely locked in after losing all voluntary movement due to Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In response to the statement "I love to live" three of the four replied yes. They also said yes when asked "Are you happy?" Designed by neuroscientist Niels Birbaumer, now at the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva, the brain-computer interface fits on a person's head like a swimming cap and measures changes in electrical waves emanating from the brain and also blood flow using a technique known as near-infrared spectroscopy. To verify the four could communicate, Birbaumer's team asked patients, over the course of about 10 days of testing, to respond yes or no to statements such as "You were born in Berlin" or "Paris is the capital of Germany" by modulating their thoughts and altering the blood-flow pattern. The answers relayed through the system were consistent about 70 percent of the time, substantially better than chance.

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Tesla Drops 'Motors' From Name As CEO Musk Looks Beyond Cars

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 19:40
Tesla Motors changed its name to "Tesla Inc" as Chief Executive Elon Musk looks to transform the Silicon Valley firm from an electric car maker to a diversified energy products company. From a report on Reuters: In October, Musk unveiled solar-powered roof tiles that eliminate the need for traditional panels and a longer-lasting home battery illustrating the benefits of combining his electric car and battery maker with solar installer SolarCity Corp.

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