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Submission + - Do We Need More Emojis?->

mikejuk writes: The Unicode Consortium has accepted another 38 emoji characters as candidates for Unicode 9.0, with new characters including bacon and a duck on the list. Why could we possibly need a duck?
Many of the new characters are the ‘other half’ of gender-matched pairs, so the Dancer emoji (which is usually rendered as Apple’s salsa dancing woman) gets a Man Dancing emoji, who frankly looks like a cross between John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and your dad at the wedding disco.Would Salsa Dancing Woman really dance with Dad Dancer?
I doubt it.
Other additions include carrot, cucumber, and avocado, and bacon.
How did the emoji world survive without a bacon emoji until now?
The list of additions is rounded off with new animal emojis. Some are the ‘missing’ zodiac symbols (lion and crab). Others are as baffling as ever – is there *really* a demand for a mallard duck? Sorry it's in fact a drake!

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Submission + - Now You Can Buy The Raspberry Pi HAT That Went Into Space ->

mikejuk writes: OK it hasn't actually got to space just yet but it is on its way. When the Sense HAT was announced everyone seemed envious that this multifunction add-on board was available to space men but not to us IoT men. Now it is and for just $30.
In case you missed it
this is a project that will see two Raspberry Pis, two Sense HATs and a lot of code written by UK school kids hosted on the International Space Station. It has joypad, an 8x8 color 15 bit color LED display, a pressure/temperature sensor, a temperature/humidity sensor and an accelerometer/gyroscope/magnetic field sensor. All run by a built in ATTiny88 which can be reprogrammed by the Pi.
This may be useful on the International Space Station but there are a lot more uses for it on the ground at $30. As the Raspberry Pi Foundation puts it — we are already imagining the birth of a million Pi-controlled stunt quadcopters.

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Submission + - Leaked Mozilla Tax Return Reveals $800K Top Salaries->

mikejuk writes: The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit organization that is exempt from income tax. Even so it has to complete an annual return for the United States Internal Revenue Status. The completed form for 2013 was posted to an apparently recently commissioned server by an anonymous agent https://static.mozilla.com/moc....
It reveals that in 2013 Mozilla's top brass earned quite a bit more than its foot soldiers: Mitchell Baker, Chair of the Mozilla Foundation (total $801K); Brendan Eich, who back in 2013 was Mozzilla's CTO and a Director of the Board ($779K) and James Cook, Treasurer ($613K).
Mozilla portrays itself, not only as an open source community, but also as the champion of ideals of equality and morality — look at how it treated Brendan Eich. Sympathy for Mozilla's "fat cats" isn't helped by the fact it is currently seen as an organization which is failing its loyal community of users and volunteer developers.
Currently Mozilla Firefox is number three in the list of top browsers could it drop lower as its loyal users decide that it is no different from Google's Chrome or Microsoft's Edge?

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Submission + - Computer Finds New Pentagonal Tiling - With Some Human Help ->

mikejuk writes: A new pentagonal tiling of the plane has just been discovered. It is the first in 30 years and we still don't know if there are any more.
You can make pentagons fit together if you move away from regular pentagons — that is, use convex pentagons with different lengths of sides and angles.
As of the start of this year (2015) 14 such pentagonal tilings were known. The first five were found in 1918, three more in 1968 and it was claimed there were no more. A ninth was found in 1975 and then amateur mathematician, Marjorie Rice, found four more in 1976 and 1977. The set seemed complete with a 14th convex pentagon tiling found in 1985 and things went quiet for 30 years ... until this year.
Casey Mann, Jennifer McLoud, and David Von Derau have just discovered a 15th tiling using a computer program. The pentagon itself doesn't look that impressive but the pattern it makes when used to tile the plane is another matter.
The pentagon is the last of the n-sided tiling shapes to be holding out on us. You can tile the plane with any triangle or quadrilateral. There are known to be just three types of convex hexagon that tile the plane and that's it. No other n-sided convex objects tile the plane, but we still don't know how many possibilities there are for the pentagon — is the count closed at the fifteen we now know?
"The team will look for additional tiles by running a tweaked version of Von Derau’s computer program on Hyak, the high performance computers on the UW Seattle campus."

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Submission + - Your Phone's Battery Leaks - Your Id That Is ->

mikejuk writes: You can run, but you can't hide. It is amazing how innocent technological features turn out to have a hidden dark side. So it is with the battery API. Designed to help out with running out of juice, it now seems that it can be used to track you even if you don't want to be tracked.
The battery API was approved as part of HTML5 by the W3C and as it was intended to report your battery status no permission was deemed necessary to use it. This means any web site, app or 3rd party script can ask for your battery status.
What could possibly go wrong?
According to Belgian researchers a lot. They have found a way of using the battery status information to track you accurately for 30 seconds. This is enough time to identify you during a change from public to private browsing or clearing cookies and getting a new one. In some cases it is even possible to work out the capacity of the battery and this doesn't change quickly providing a way to track over longer periods of time.
A solution might be to ask user's permission to supply battery status — but most innocent users would simply agree. After all what harm can there be in a website knowing your battery level?

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Submission + - MORPHs Roam The Park Looking For Children To Play ->

mikejuk writes: Robots, taken at the widest interpretation of an active mechanism with some computer control, are getting cheaper all the time. This means you can start to think of using them for non-essential things like — fun and art. The MORPH — Mobile Reconfigurable Polyhedron — an octahedral robot has twelve actuated struts and moves by changing their length so as to overtopple in a determined direction. Let loose in a park a morph is free to roam around finding people to play with it. It resembles a mobile climbing frame and the idea that it might pursue small children and insist that they play with it is both amusing and spooky. Just wait until it manages to trap a small child in its actuators! See the video of it roaming a London park.
The current prototype is around 1.5 meters high and can withstand an imposed load of 30 kilograms and there are plans for a bigger version at twice the height. Now that will really be an autonomous roving climbing frame!
Let us hope it doesn't go rogue.
Just in case — I, for one, welcome our robotic climbing frame overlords...

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Submission + - Google Patents AI-> 2

mikejuk writes: Google may have been wowing the web with its trippy images from neural networks but meanwhile it has just revealed that it has applied for at least six patents on fundamental neural network and AI. This isn't good for academic research or for the development of AI by companies. The patents are on very specific things invented by Geoffrey Hinton's team like using drop out during training, or modifying data to provide additional training cases, but also include very general idea such as classification itself. If Google was granted a patent on classification it would cover just about every method used for pattern recognition!
You might make the charitable assumption that Google has just patented the ideas so that it can protect them — i.e. to stop other more evil companies from patenting them and extracting fees from open source implementations of machine learning libraries. Google has just started an AI arms race and you can expect others to follow.

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Submission + - Detecting Nudity With AI And OpenCV ->

mikejuk writes: AI gets put to some strange tasks. Not satisfied with the Turing test or inventing Skynet Algorithmia have put together a nudity detector. Take one face detector from OpenCV and use it to find a nose. Take the skin color from the nose and then see what parts of the body are skin colored in the photo. If there is lot of skin color shout NUDE! Actually the website lets you put in your ow photos and classifies them into Rude or Good and gives you a confidence estimate. Obama with his top off — no problem but the familiar image processing test photo of Lena the pin up girl rates a "Rude".
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Submission + - Amazon Opens Up Echo's Alexa To Developers ->

mikejuk writes: Amazon announced Echo. a wireless speaker with a built-in, voice-controlled, personal assistant called Alexa in November last year. Seven months down the line, Echo became available for purchase in the US and UK and will begin shipping on July 14th.In future Alexa will no longer be tied exclusively to Echo. Amazon has announced that the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), the cloud-based service behind Echo, is being made available for free to third party hardware makers who want to integrate Alexa into their devices.To propel developers and hardware manufacturers interest in voice technology and their adoption of Alexa, Amazon has also announced a $100 Million Alexa Fund, open to anyone, startups to established brands, with an innovative idea for using voice technology.
Could it be Amazon's Alexa that beats Siri and Cortana into the home in devices other than mobile phones and tablets?

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Submission + - Woz To Be Immortalized In Wax ->

mikejuk writes: Having already made wax figures of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, the Madame Tussauds museum recently put out a call for nominations for who should be next, with the stipulation that the nominees have a connection with the Bay Area. The shortlist was then whittled down to ten, including Google co-founder Larry Page, Tesla's Elon Musk, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo.
Any of them would look great as wax figures, but outcome of the public vote was a clear winner — Steve Wozniak. Once his statue is complete Woz will be on display next to Steve Jobs in San Francisco and an ideal setting for a selfie.

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Submission + - Microsoft's Skype Drops Modern App In Favour Of Old Fashioned Win32 App->

mikejuk writes: Microsoft, after putting a lot of effort into persuading us that Universal Apps are the way of the future pulls the plug on Skype modern app to leave just the desktop version. The split in Windows apps created by the launch of Windows 8 still persists today and Microsoft is currently trying to fix this huge blunder by creating a true Windows 10 Universal App that can run on desktop, phone and mobile.Microsoft's argument is that any WinRT apps that you have or old style Windows 8 Universal apps can easily be converted to a Windows 10 Universal app with a single code base for all platforms.
Skype is one of Microsoft's flagship products and it has been available as a desktop Win32 app and as a Modern/Metro/WinRT app for some time. You would think that Skype would support Universal Apps, there are few enough of them — but no. According to the Skype blog:
"Starting on July 7, we’re updating PC users of the Windows modern application to the Windows desktop application, and retiring the modern application."
Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 Universal Apps as the development platform for now and the future but its Skype team have just disagreed big time. What ever this is not a good example of dog fooding and puts in doubt any decision programmer might have made about being an early adopter of Windows 10 Universal Apps — if Microsoft can't get behind the plan why should developers?

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Submission + - CockroachDB Aims To Survive->

mikejuk writes: A new database designed to scale, survive disasters, be always consistent, and support abstractions has been released by ex-Google developers. CockroachDB has been named in honor of the sheer resilience of its insect namesake.
The claims made for CockroachDB are certainly impressive enough. It can, according to the developers, transparently manage scale with an upgrade path from a single node to hundreds. You can add capacity to the cluster by starting new storage containers and CockroachDB automatically rebalances existing data. If you kill a container, CockroachDB re-replicates its data from available sources. It self-organizes, self-heals, and automatically rebalances.
The software is open source, and you can find it, and join in as a contributor, on Github. The claims for the database are impressive, it’ll be interesting to see whether it lives up to the promises and how it evolves.
If only cockroaches weren't so icky.

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Submission + - Mining Time-lapse Videos From Internet Photos->

mikejuk writes: Computational photography is approaching the status of magic.
Traditionaly time-lapse videos are obtained by fixing a camera to a spot and taking one photo every few hours or even weeks. However, people wander about and take photos of popular landmarks all the time. Often taking them from the same viewpoints. This provides a huge back catalog of potential frames for a time-lapse video that means you can see how something has changed over time.
Researchers at the University of Washington and Google have applied a number of computational photographic techniques to effectively stabilize the images in the videos. They call the overall technique "time-lapse mining". The paper http://grail.cs.washington.edu... is to be presented at this year's SIGGRAPH.
First they started off with a staggering 86 million timestamped and geotagged photos from around the world. Their system automatically works out which locations have enough images. The photos are selected according to their approximate view point. Computer vision is used to identify the exact view point and then the photos are processed so that they are exactly the same view point. After normalization for exposure and color differences the images are put together to make the final video.
In total the system created 10,728 time-lapse videos. It seems that the internet really is collecting data on the state of the entire planet. Why stop at still images? There are millions of surveillance cameras that could provided complete video sequences. Perhaps soon it will be possible to prove what you did and where you were in the past by showing the video of it happening.

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Submission + - Twin Detection Using AI ->

mikejuk writes: Have you ever seen another face that looks so much like your own that you think you could be taken for twins? See if Microsoft's new Twins Or Not site agrees with you.
Like the previous How Old Do I Look site that launched at Build and became a runaway success, the new site, TwinsOrNot http://twinsornot.net/ was created to showcase Microsoft's Machine learning. Both sites work invite the user to upload photos and use the Face API in Project Oxford to look for salient facial features.
Robin and Maurice Gibbs of the Bee Gees score only 48% but the Winklevoss twins,(Winklevi) score a 100% cause the site to generate — "OMG clones!!!"
Of course this, like the How Old Do I Look site, has the power to cause a lot of trouble in the wrong hands.

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Submission + - Samsung's ARTIK Arduino Compatible From Small To Powerful ->

mikejuk writes: Samsung has woken up to the Internet of Things (IoT) and decided to provide the foundation that it needs. Three new devices — ARTIK 1, 5 and 10 — span the range from tiny wearable to eight core ARM and all Arduino Certified.
The ARTIK 1 is tiny measuring just 12x12mm and is capable of running on a battery for weeks. It has a dual core processor, 1MB of RAM and 4MB Flash. It communicates with the outside world using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and it has a 9-axis motion sensor.
The ARTIK 5 is about twice the size of the ARTIK 1, but still small at 29x25mm. It has an ARM A7 dual core, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of Flash. This means it can run Yocto Linux. It has WiFi as well as BLE, Bluetooth and ZigBee — which more or less covers everything. It is also large enough to have two 30-pin connectors which provide 47 GPIO and more.
The ARTIK 10 is 29x39mm, making it big compared to the ARTIK 1, but you could still lose it in your pocket. It has an Octa Core ARM running at 1.3GHz. It comes with 2GB RAM and 16GB of Flash and runs Yocto Linux. It also has WiFi/BT/BLE and ZigBee. It has the same video codecs as the ARTIK 5, but with its increased processing power it can work at 1080p at 120fps. Its I/O is also bigger with 51 GPIO and 6 ADCs.
All three devices have hardware security built in, camera support, and they can be programmed in C/C++/Java or Groovy. You can use the standard Arduino IDE or the Samsung SDK.
There is clearly a lot we don't know as yet, but the ARTIK range look like an interesting addition to the Arduino world.
What's in it for Samsung? Well, of course, it wants to be the one to provide you the cloud support that everyone seems to assume is going to be bigger than the IoT itself.

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