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Space

China's Giant Radio Telescope Begins Searching For Signals From Space (ctvnews.ca) 29

Years of work and millions of dollars later, China finished its alien-hunting telescope in May this year. Now the country says its telescope has begun its operation. The company flipped the switch over the weekend, hoping to find signals from stars and galaxies -- and more importantly from extraterrestrial life. The telescope also illustrates China's growing ambition to stay among the frontrunners in space efforts. AP reports: Beijing has poured billions into such ambitious scientific projects as well as its military-backed space program, which saw the launch of China's second space station earlier this month. Measuring 500 metres in diameter, the radio telescope is nestled in a natural basin within a stunning landscape of lush green karst formations in southern Guizhou province. It took five years and $180 million to complete and surpasses that of the 300-meter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, a dish used in research on stars that led to a Nobel Prize. The official Xinhua News Agency said hundreds of astronomers and enthusiasts watched the launch of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, in the county of Pingtang. Researchers quoted by state media said FAST would search for gravitational waves, detect radio emissions from stars and galaxies and listen for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life. "The ultimate goal of FAST is to discover the laws of the development of the universe," Qian Lei, an associate researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told state broadcaster CCTV. "In theory, if there is civilization in outer space, the radio signal it sends will be similar to the signal we can receive when a pulsar (spinning neutron star) is approaching us," Qian said.
Entertainment

Plex Cloud Means Saying Goodbye To the Always-On PC (theverge.com) 109

Finally, you don't need an always-on PC or any other network-attached storage device if you want to use Plex's media player. The company has announced that it now allows you to stream TV shows and movies from your own collection via a new online option called Plex Cloud. From a report on The Verge: Plex is giving the world another reason to subscribe to Plex Pass subscriptions today with the launch of Plex Cloud. As the name suggests, Plex Cloud eliminates the need to run the Plex Media Server on a computer or Networked Attached Storage (NAS) in your house. It does, however, require a subscription to Amazon Drive ($59.99 per year for unlimited storage) and the aforementioned Plex Pass ($4.99 per month or $39.99 per year). Plex Cloud functions just like a regular Plex Media Server giving you access to your media -- no matter how you acquire it -- from an incredibly broad range of devices. Most, but not all Plex features are available in today's beta.
Yahoo!

Moving Beyond Flash: the Yahoo HTML5 Video Player (streamingmedia.com) 85

Slashdot reader theweatherelectric writes: Over on Streaming Media, Amit Jain from Yahoo has written a behind-the-scenes look at the development of Yahoo's HTML5 video player. He writes, "Adobe Flash, once the de-facto standard for media playback on the web, has lost favor in the industry due to increasing concerns over security and performance. At the same time, requiring a plugin for video playback in browsers is losing favor among users as well. As a result, the industry is moving toward HTML5 for video playback...

At Yahoo, our video player uses HTML5 across all modern browsers for video playback. In this post we will describe our journey to providing an industry-leading playback experience using HTML5, lay out some of the challenges we faced, and discuss opportunities we see going forward."

Yet another brick in the wall? YouTube and Twitch have already switched to HTML5, and last year Google started automatically converting Flash ads to HTML5.
Google

Google Open Sources Its Image-Captioning AI (zdnet.com) 36

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes ZDNet: Google has open-sourced a model for its machine-learning system, called Show and Tell, which can view an image and generate accurate and original captions... The image-captioning system is available for use with TensorFlow, Google's open machine-learning framework, and boasts a 93.9 percent accuracy rate on the ImageNet classification task, inching up from previous iterations.

The code includes an improved vision model, allowing the image-captioning system to recognize different objects in images and hence generate better descriptions. An improved image model meanwhile aids the captioning system's powers of description, so that it not only identifies a dog, grass and frisbee in an image, but describes the color of grass and more contextual detail.

Earth

Scientists Study How Non-Scientists Deny Climate Change (theguardian.com) 590

A new research paper suggest climate change opponents are "simulating coherence by conspiracism". Slashdot reader Layzej says the paper "examines this behavior at the aggregate level, but gives many examples where contradictory ideas are held by the same individual, and sometimes are presented within a single publication." From the paper: Claims that the globe "is cooling" can coexist with claims that the "observed warming is natural" and that "the human influence does not matter because warming is good for us". Coherence between these mutually contradictory opinions can only be achieved at a highly abstract level, namely that "something must be wrong" with the scientific evidence in order to justify a political position against climate change mitigation...

In a nutshell, the opposition to greenhouse gas emission cuts is the unifying and coherent position underlying all manifestations of climate science denial... Climate science denial is therefore perhaps best understood as a rational activity that replaces a coherent body of science with an incoherent and conspiracist body of pseudo-science for political reasons and with considerable political coherence and effectiveness.

"I think that people who deny basic science will continue to do so, no matter how contradictory their arguments may be," says one of the paper's authors, who suggests that the media should be wary of self-contradicting positions.
Media

Snapchat's 10-Second-Video Glasses Are Real And Cost $130 Bucks (techcrunch.com) 91

Long-time Slashdot reader bheerssen writes that Snapchat "announced a new product yesterday, Spectacles, which are sunglasses with a camera built into the frame." TechCrunch reports: Snapchat's long-rumored camera glasses are actually real. The startup's first foray into hardware will be a pair of glasses called "Spectacles" and will go on sale this fall for $129.99, according to the WSJ... To start recording you tap a button on the side of the glasses. Video capture will mimic Snapchat's app, meaning you can only capture 10 seconds of video at once. This video will sync wirelessly to your phone, presumably making it available to share as a snap.
The cameras will be using a circular 115-degree lens to mimic the human eye's natural field of vision, and in the Journal's article, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel remembers his first test of the product in 2015. "I could see my own memory, through my own eyes -- it was unbelievable... It was the closest I'd ever come to feeling like I was there again." The camera glasses will enter "limited distribution" sometime within the next three months, which TechCrunch believes "could end up being like Google Glass when it first launched -- officially on sale to the public but pretty hard to come by."
Communications

The Verge's Deputy Editor Chris Ziegler Was Secretly Working For Apple For Two Months (gizmodo.com) 77

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Late this afternoon, Nilay Patel, the editor-in-chief of The Verge, published a post detailing the circumstances around the departure of Chris Ziegler, a founding member of the site. As it turns out, according to Patel, Ziegler had been pulling double duty as an employee of both The Verge and Apple. "The circumstances of Chris' departure from The Verge raised ethical issues which are worth disclosing in the interests of transparency and respect for our audience," Patel wrote. "We're confident that there wasn't any material impact on our journalism from these issues, but they are still serious enough to merit disclosure." According to Patel, Ziegler, whose most recent post was published in July, began working for Apple in July but didn't disclose his new job; The Verge apparently didn't discover he'd been working there until early September. Patel noted that Ziegler continued to work for The Verge in July, but "was not in contact with us through most of August and into September." What's not clear is how The Verge leadership went six weeks without hearing from their deputy editor or taking serious action (like filing a missing person's report) to try to find him. Patel says they "made every effort to contact him and to offer him help if needed." Patel noted the obvious conflict of interest, and added that Ziegler was fired the same day they verified his employment at Apple. "Chris did not attempt to steer any coverage towards or away from Apple, and any particular decisions he helped make had the same outcomes they would have had absent his involvement," Patel wrote. However, it's still unclear how exactly the team at Vox Media, The Verge's parent company, ascertained there was no editorial consequences from the dual-employment. You can read Patel's full statement here. Vox Media's Fay Sliger followed up with a statement to Gizmodo: "Chris is no longer an employee of The Verge or Vox Media. Chris accepted a position with Apple, stopped communicating with The Verge's leadership, and his employment at The Verge was terminated. Vox Media's editorial director Lockhart Steele conducted an internal review of this conflict of interest, and after a thorough investigation, it was determined that there was no impact on editorial decisions or journalism produced at The Verge or elsewhere in Vox Media. We've shared details about this situation with The Verge's audience and will continue to be transparent should any new information come to light."
Microsoft

Salesforce, Google, Microsoft, Verizon Are In Talks With Twitter For a Potential Acquisition (cnbc.com) 65

Twitter is in conversation with a number of tech companies for a potential sale. The social company is in talks with Google and cloud computing company Salesforce (which also wanted to purchase LinkedIn), and may receive a formal offer soon, reports CNBC. TechCrunch corroborating on the report adds that Microsoft and Verizon are also in talks, albeit separately, with Twitter for the same. From CNBC report: Shares of Twitter were up 20 percent Friday. Twitter's board of directors is said to be largely desirous of a deal, according to people close to the situation, but no sale is imminent. There's no assurance a deal will materialize, but one source close to the conversations said that they are picking up momentum and could result in a deal before year-end. Suitors are said to be interested as much in the data that Twitter generates as its place as a media company.
Republicans

Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey Is Secretly Funding Trump's Meme Machine (thedailybeast.com) 847

The founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, has backed a pro-Trump political organization called Nimble America that is dedicated to "shitposting" and spreading inflammatory memes about Hillary Clinton. In 2014, Luckey's virtual-reality company, Oculus, was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. Forbes estimates his current net worth to be $700 million. The Daily Beast reports: "The 24-year-old told The Daily Beast that he had used the pseudonym "NimbleRichMan" on Reddit with a password given to him by the organization's founders. Nimble America says it's dedicated to providing that "shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real," according to the company's introductory statement, and has taken credit for a billboard its founders say was posted outside of Pittsburgh with a cartoonishly large image of Clinton's face alongside the words "Too Big to Jail." "We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it's time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not," a representative for the group wrote in an introductory post on Reddit. Potential donors from Donald Trump's biggest online community -- Reddit's r/The_Donald, where one of the rules is "no dissenters" -- turned on the organization this weekend, refusing to believe "NimbleRichMan" was the anonymous "near-billionaire" he claimed to be and causing a rift on one of the alt-right's most powerful organizational tools. Luckey insists he's just the group's money man -- a wealthy booster who thought the meddlesome idea was funny. But he is also listed as the vice-president of the group on its website. In another post written under Luckey's Reddit pseudonym, Luckey echoes Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire who used his wealth to secretly bankroll Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker. The Daily Beast adds: "'The American Revolution was funded by wealthy individuals," NimbleRichMan wrote on Saturday. Luckey confirmed to The Daily Beast he penned the posts under his Reddit pseudonym. 'The same has been true of many movements for freedom in history. You can't fight the American elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means.'"
Android

Google Play Starts Bringing Android Apps To Chromebooks (venturebeat.com) 14

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: As promised, Google has finally brought the Google Play store to Chrome OS. Android apps, Android games, and media content from the store are all now finally available on Chromebooks running the latest stable build. But that still doesn't mean all Chromebook owners can use the store. This continues to be a gradual rollout -- even on the stable channel, Google is limiting the launch in multiple ways. "A beta release of the Play store is available to users now on the Acer R11 and Asus Flip (and coming soon to Pixel 2015) and can be enabled from the Settings page," a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. "The team is hard at work making the experience great for users before making the Play Store available by default on these Chromebooks." That's right -- even though we're still talking about just three devices, the Play store is disabled by default. Once you've updated to version 53.0.2785.129 (make sure to switch back to the stable channel if you aren't already on it), you'll have to enable the Play Store in Chrome Settings.
China

Taiwan Asks Google To Blur Its Military Facilities In South China Sea (nbcnews.com) 50

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Taiwan's defense ministry said on Wednesday it is asking Google to blur satellite images showing what experts say appear to be new military installations on Itu Aba, Taipei's sole holding in the disputed South China Sea. The revelation of new military-related construction could raise tensions in the contested waterway, where China's building of airstrips and other facilities has worried other claimants and the United States. The images seen on Google Earth show four three-pronged structures sitting in a semi-circle just off the northwestern shoreline of Itu Aba, across from an upgraded airstrip and recently constructed port that can dock 3,000-ton frigates. "Under the pre-condition of protecting military secrets and security, we have requested Google blur images of important military facilities," Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said on Wednesday, after local media published the images on Itu Aba. The United States has urged against the militarization of the South China Sea, following the rapid land reclamation by China on several disputed reefs through dredging, and building air fields and port facilities. Defense experts in Taiwan said that based on the imagery of the structures and their semi-circular layout, the structures were likely related to defense and could be part of an artillery foundation.
China

Uber's Terrifying 'Ghost Drivers' Are Freaking Out Passengers in China (qz.com) 80

Several Chinese publications are reporting that "ghost drivers" are frightening Uber passengers into paying for trips they didn't take. Passengers in Tianjin, Qingdao, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou have been canceling Uber rides after seeing creepy driver profile pictures pop up in the app. Quartz reports: Passengers using the ride-hailing app in several Chinese cities have reported seeing their requests picked up by drivers with creepy profile photos of zombie faces. According to Chinese news site Sixth Tone, the point of these ghostly profiles is to scare passengers into canceling the trip, so they are fined for a few yuan (less than a dollar), which goes to the driver. Other passengers have reported seeing their rides accepted, but then their trips were "started" by the driver on the app before they even get to the car. These "ghost rides" last less than a minute, with the driver charging customers between 8 and 15 yuan (about 1 to 2 dollars) for a ride that never happened. Calls to the drivers in these cases are never picked up, according to The Paper, a state-owned media. Passengers can however eventually be reimbursed by Uber China if they lodge a complaint.
Power

TV Manufacturers Accused of Gaming Energy Usage Tests (cbslocal.com) 86

The Natural Resources Defense Council has issued a new report accusing Samsung, LG and Vizio of "misleading consumers and regulators about how much energy high-definition screens devour, alleging that the televisions were designed to perform more efficiently during government testing than in ordinary use." The report "estimates that the collective electricity bills during a decade of watching the high-definition TVs will be $1.2 billion higher than the energy ratings imply," and that "the higher energy usage generates an additional 5 million metric tons of carbon pollution." CBS Local reports: The findings are based on an analysis of high-definition TVs with screens spanning at least 55 inches made in 2015 and 2016. The estimates on electricity costs are based on high definition TVs with screens 32 inches and larger. The study concluded that Samsung and LG have gamed the system during government testing in an effort to get better scores on the "Energy Star" yellow labels that appear on the sets in stores. Those scores often influence the buying decisions of consumers looking to save money on their utility bills. The report said Samsung and LG did not break any laws in their manipulation of the tests, but rather exploited weaknesses in the Department of Energy's system to measure electricity usage. The Samsung and LG sets have a dimming feature that turns off the screens' backlight during part of the 10-minute video clip used in government tests. But that does not typically happen when the sets are being used in homes to watch sports, comedies, dramas and news programming. The analysis also found that Samsung, LG and Vizio disable energy-saving features in their TVs when consumers change the factory setting on the picture, a common practice. The energy-saving feature is turned off, with little or no warning on the screen, sometimes doubling the amount of electricity consumed, according to the NRDC report.
Twitter

Twitter No Longer Counts Photos, GIFs, Videos Toward 140-Character Limit (adweek.com) 29

Twitter is finally relaxing its 140-character limit. The company announced today that it will now don't count things like emojis, images against the 140-character limit. Adding quotes, polls, videos will also no longer reduce your characters. From a report on Adweek: The moves don't come as a huge surprise. In May, the company revealed that such changes were likely forthcoming. At any rate, with video and GIFs becoming increasingly important to the social channel, the developments make sense. Social media marketers, no doubt, will enjoy the extra freedom as they try to get their points across to potential customers. "With long-form content on the rise, businesses who can take advantage of Twitter's new offering stand poised to create deep, meaningful communities," said Rod Favaron, Spredfast CEO.
Communications

Cable Lobby Tries To Make You Forget That It Represents Cable Companies (arstechnica.com) 32

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. cable industry's biggest lobby group has dropped the word "cable" from its name in a rebrand focusing on its members' role as providers of both Internet and TV services. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) will henceforth be called NCTA-The Internet and Television Association. NCTA will be maintained in the name as a nod to the group's past, even though the initials no longer stand for any particular words. "Just as our industry is witnessing an exciting transformation driven by technology and connectivity, NCTA's brand must reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our members," NCTA CEO Michael Powell (a former Federal Communications Commission chairman) said in today's announcement. The group's "mission to drive the industry forward remains the same," he said. This isn't the NCTA's first name change. The group began as the National Community Television Council in 1951 and then became the National Community Television Association in 1952, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Despite dropping the word "cable," the NCTA's name change announcement makes reference to how cable companies are dominating the broadband market. Powell noted that the NCTA "represent[s] an industry that is America's largest and fastest home Internet provider." As it goes forward, the NCTA won't be the only telecom lobby group initialism that no longer stands for anything. The CTIA -- previously known as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and then the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association -- is now just "CTIA-The Wireless Association."
Businesses

GoPro Launches Karma Drone and Voice-Controlled Hero5 Cameras (cnet.com) 14

The long-awaited GoPro drone has officially launched. Dubbed Karma, GoPro's new drone works with the Hero5 and Hero5 Session, two new flagship cameras. The Hero5 features a 2-inch touch display, 12-megapixel photos with RAW support, built-in GPS, electronic image stabilization, waterproofing up to 33 feet (10 meters), and voice control. The GoPro Hero5 Session on the other hand consists of a tiny cube camera that is capable of 4K video recording at 30 fps and 10-megapixel photos. It too is waterproof up to 33 feet (10 meters) and offers support for voice commands. You can say, "GoPro, start recording," and it will start recording. They are also both cloud-connected, meaning they can auto-upload photos and video to an account when the camera is charging (requires a paid subscription to GoPro's new cloud service). While the Karma works with the Hero5 and Hero5 Session, it also works with the Hero4 cameras. CNET reports: The Karma's small, too. Like fold-it-up-and-stick-it-in-a-regular-backpack small. In fact, it even comes with the backpack. And of course it's made with the new Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session cameras, but will also work with the Hero4 cameras. So you're not stuck with a camera that's permanently attached to a drone, you're getting a camera you can use on its own or in the drone. Perhaps its greatest asset is the three-axis camera stabilizer on the drone. Not only will it keep your video looking smooth in the air, but it can be removed and attached to the included Karma Grip. GoPro says the grip can then be used handheld, perfect for running, riding, skating, etc. alongside your friends, or mounted on other gear. Karma arrives on October 23 for $799 without a camera, $999 with a Hero5 Session and $1,099 with the Hero5 Black.
Chrome

Google Chrome Beta For Android Now Lets You Play YouTube In the Background (techtimes.com) 51

The recently released version of Chrome on Android -- v54 (albeit in beta) -- finally brings a feature that users have been requesting for years: it lets them play YouTube songs in the background. Much like some of you, there are many out there who prefer listening to songs on YouTube instead of getting a subscription or otherwise downloading a music-streaming service. From a TechTimes report: With version 54, Google introduced a handful of updates to Chrome Beta. The new version introduces a handful of features that include background video and playback and a redesigned new tab page, among others. Among the features that are packed in the said beta version, background video playback is perhaps the most significant. In older iterations of Chrome, including version 53, videos will get paused once a new app is opened or after switching to the home screen. In version 54 beta, the videos will still get paused automatically but Android users are provided with an option to resume them via a media notification. Audio from the video will continuously be heard while using other apps.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Build Your Own Vacuum Tubes? 271

Could you beat wireless headphones by creating your own DIY home audio system? Two weeks ago one Slashdot commenter argued, "to have good audio that is truly yours and something to be proud of, you need to make your own vacuum tube amplifier and then use it to power real electrostatic headphones over a wire." And now long-time Slashdot reader mallyn is stepping up to the challenge: I want to try to make my own vacuum tubes. Is there anyone here who has tried DIY vacuum tubes (or valves, to you Europeans)? I need help getting started -- how to put together the vacuum plumbing system; how to make a glass lathe; what metals to use for the elements (grid, plate, etc). If this is not the correct forum, can anyone please gently shove me into the correct direction? It needs to be online as my physical location (Bellingham, Washington) is too far away from the university labs where this type of work is likely to be done.
Slashdot's covered the "tubes vs. transistors" debate before, but has anyone actually tried to homebrew their own? Leave your best answers in the comments. How do you build your own vacuum tubes?
Robotics

Robot Handcuffed and Arrested At Moscow Rally (abc.net.au) 46

Russian police have arrested a robot. Long-time Slashdot reader ferret4 quotes ABC News: A robot has been detained by police at a political rally in Moscow, with authorities attempting to handcuff the machine. Police have not confirmed why they detained the machine named Promobot, but local media was reporting the company behind the robot said police were called because it was 'recording voters' opinions on [a] variety of topics for further processing and analysis by the candidate's team'."
Interestingly, an earlier model of the same robot escaped its research lab in June, traveling 150 feet before its batteries died -- and despite being reprogrammed twice, continued to move towards the exits.
Transportation

Uber Accused of Cashing In On Bomb Explosion By Jacking Rates (thesun.co.uk) 428

After a bomb exploded in Manhattan, leaving 29 injured, people leaving the scene discovered Uber had doubled their fares. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Sun: Traumatized families caught up in the New York bomb blast have accused Uber of cashing in on the tragedy by charging almost double to take them home. Furious passengers have taken to social media to slam the taxi firm in the wake of the blast... Uber reportedly charged between 1.4 and 3 times the standard fare with one city worker saying he had to pay twice as much as usual. Mortgage broker Nick Lalli said: "Just trying to get home from the city and Uber f****** doubled the surge price."
"Demand is off the charts!" the app informed its users, adding "Fares have increased to get more Ubers on the road." Uber soon tweeted that they'd deactivated their surge pricing algorithm for the affected area in Chelsea, "but passengers in other areas of Manhattan said they were still being charged higher than normal fares." One of the affected passengers was Michael Cohen, who is Donald Trump's lawyer, who tweeted that Uber was "taking total advantage of chaos and surcharging passengers 1.4 to 1.8 times." And another Uber user tweeted "I'm disgusted. People are trying to get home safe. Shame on you #DeleteApp."

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