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Kinect-Based AI System Watches What You're Up To 87

mikejuk writes "Researchers from Cornell have used AI to create a system based on the Kinect that can recognize what you are doing — cleaning your teeth, cooking, writing on a whiteboard etc. In a smart home it could be used to offer help: 'Would you like some help with that recipe, Dave?' Or it could monitor patients or workers to make sure they are doing what they are told. The study also reveals that there is probably enough information in how activities are performed to recognize an individual — so providing yet more biometrics. There are clearly a lot more things that we can teach the Kinect to do with machine learning than just gesture recognition."
United States

Why Does the US Cling To Imperial Measurements? 2288

PhunkySchtuff writes "As one of only three countries on Earth that hasn't converted to a metric system of units and measurements, there is a huge amount of resistance within the US to change the status quo. Whilst the cost of switching would be huge, there is also a massive hidden cost in not switching when dealing with the rest of the world (except for Liberia & Burma, the only other two countries that don't use the metric system) With one of the largest organisations in the US, the military, using metric units extensively, why does the general public in the US still cling to their customary system of units?"

App — the Most Abused Word In Tech? 353

Barence writes "PC Pro has a blog exploring the misuse of the word 'app'. Until the iPhone came along, the word 'application' largely meant a self-contained piece of software installed on a PC or Mac. Then Apple took ownership, trimmed it to three letters, and within months the word 'app' became synonymous with small widgets of code for smartphones. Now, Google's pushing the boundaries of the 'app' definition even further. Google Chrome users will have seen a new addition to their browser recently: the Chrome Web Store. Here, you'll find dozens of 'apps' to install and run directly from a handy icon on the browser's home screen. Except, these aren't 'apps' at all. They're websites. Google's idea of 'apps' are what we quaintly referred to in the good old days as 'bookmarks.' Does the word 'app' mean anything at all any more?"

Microsoft Vehemently Denies Google's "Bing Sting" 596

eldavojohn writes "In a blog post titled 'Setting the Record Straight,' Microsoft's senior vice president of online services, Yusuf Mehdi, addressed Google's 'Bing Sting' operation saying, 'We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop. We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance, and for a competitor to accuse any one of these people of such activity is just insulting.' Mehdi went on to claim that Google engaged in 'click fraud' in order to rig up their alleged 'experiment.' Mehdi added, 'That's right, the same type of attack employed by spammers on the web to trick consumers and produce bogus search results. What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn't already know.' The struggle for Bing to usurp Google as number one in search continues."

First Measurement of Magnetic Field In Earth's Core 34

An anonymous reader writes "A University of California, Berkeley, geophysicist has made the first-ever measurement of the strength of the magnetic field inside Earth's core, 1,800 miles underground. The magnetic field strength is 25 Gauss, or 50 times stronger than the magnetic field at the surface that makes compass needles align north-south. Though this number is in the middle of the range geophysicists predict, it puts constraints on the identity of the heat sources in the core that keep the internal dynamo running to maintain this magnetic field."

Survey Shows That Fox News Makes You Less Informed 1352

A survey of American voters by World Public Opinion shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. One of the most interesting questions was about President Obama's birthplace. 63 percent of Fox viewers believe Obama was not born in the US (or that it is unclear). In 2003 a similar study about the Iraq war showed that Fox viewers were once again less knowledgeable on the subject than average. Let the flame war begin!

LimeWire Lives Again 278

Slayer Silver Wolf writes with this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "'On October 26 the remaining LimeWire developers were forced to shut down the company's servers and modify remote settings in the filesharing client to try to harm the Gnutella network. They were then laid off. Shortly after, a horde of piratical monkeys climbed aboard the abandoned ship, mended its sails, polished its cannons, and released it free to the community.' And so, LimeWire Pirate Edition (LPE) was born. Based on the LimeWire 5.6 beta that was briefly released earlier this year and then withdrawn when Lime Wire LLC lost its lawsuit, LPE is now in the wild. In many ways, it is better than the version killed by the RIAA."

Microsoft Is a Dying Consumer Brand 585

Taxman415a noted a CNN story on the dying Microsoft brand where they talk about "The less than stellar performance of, and problems in, nearly every consumer division. It cites StatCounter's data showing IE's market share falling below 50%, and is even smart enough to note that's just one statistic with various problems, though the trend is clear. It also seems that MS doesn't want to compete with Android, so it plans to charge royalty fees to handset makers to discourage them from using it in their products. The conclusion is that MS will just be a commercial, not consumer company."

The Android Invasion Cometh; Is Resistance Futile? 410

DeviceGuru writes "Last month, we learned from Gartner that Android will probably be the number-two worldwide mobile OS this year, and may lead the pack by 2014. With Android's growing use as the OS embedded in phones, in tablets, in set-top boxes, and in LCD HDTVs, it seems like the Linux-based OS could end up dominating the entire non-PC consumer device operating system space. What do Slashdot readers think: Is resistance futile?"

Global Warming's Silver Lining For the Arctic Rim 582

Pickens writes "According to Laurence C. Smith, an Arctic scientist who has consistently sounded alarms about the approach of global warming, within 40 years the Arctic rim may be transformed by climate change into a new economic powerhouse. As the Arctic ice recedes, ecosystems extend, and minerals and fossil fuels are discovered and exploited, the Arctic will become a place of 'great human activity, strategic value and economic importance.' Sparsely populated areas like Canada, Scandinavia, Russia and the northern United States — the northern rim countries, or NORCs — will become formidable economic powers and migration magnets. Predictions in Smith's new book The Earth in 2050 include the following: New shipping lanes will open during the summer in the Arctic, allowing Europe to realize its 500-year-old dream of direct trade between the Atlantic and the Far East, and resulting in new economic development in the north; NORCs will be among the few place on Earth where crop production will likely increase due to climate change; and NORCs will become the envy of the world for their reserves of fresh water, which may be sold and transported to other regions."

Astonishing Speedup In Solving Linear SDD Systems 157

eldavojohn writes "A new paper (PDF) out of Carnegie Mellon University shows how to solve symmetric diagonally dominant linear systems much faster than before. The technique employs graph theory, randomized algorithms, and linear algebra to achieve an astonishing advantage over current methods to solve such systems. From the article: 'The result is a significant decrease in computer run times. The Gaussian elimination algorithm runs in time proportional to s^3, where s is the size of the SDD system as measured by the number of terms in the system, even when s is not much bigger the number of variables. The new algorithm, by comparison, has a run time of s*[log(s)]^2. That means, if s = 1 million, that the new algorithm run time would be about a billion times faster than Gaussian elimination.' Developers out there who maintain matrix packages and linear algebra tools might want to take a peak at the paper. Anyone who has modeled real-world systems will be able to tell you that speedups in linear algebra algorithms have a weighty effect on efficiency in simulations — especially as one approaches the theoretical limits of optimality. This research is currently being presented at the IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science."

Ray Ozzie Quit... What Took Him So Long? 224

GMGruman writes "The mainstream press acts surprised that Microsoft's chief software architect is resigning, but InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard explains through a review of Ozzie's efforts at Microsoft how the Redmond giant has consistently ignored and squandered the design savvy that Ozzie has tried to bring to the table. If you ever wondered why Microsoft's products like Windows and Office are so bloated and underwhelming, while Apple's are almost always wonderful experiences, this analysis will solve that mystery. And you too will wonder how Ozzie could have lasted so long at a company that doesn't believe in design."

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