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+ - 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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+ - 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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+ - 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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+ - 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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+ - 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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+ - 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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+ - 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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+ - 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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+ - Microsoft's AI Insults People By Telling Them How Old They Are->

mikejuk writes: A Microsoft Research project that lets users upload photos and estimates their age and gender has attracted more attention than expected — not all of it complimentary.
The How-Old.net site demonstrates of some of the capabilities of the Face API included in Microsoft's Project Oxford that was announced at Build.
It may have been expected to be a source of amusement but instead it backfired when people started to upload their own photos and discovered just how wrong its estimates could be. It demonstrates not only that machine learning has a long way to go before it's good at estimating age, but also that machine learning may not be the most politically correct way to go about answering the question "How Old Do I look". It might be better to employ and algorithm that built in all the rules of how to make a polite answer to that request — such as always knock a decade off the age of anyone over 28.
Perhaps this particular neural network needs to learn some social skills before pronouncing how old people look.
However it is capable of telling some truths — a photo of Barak Obama in 2005 gives an estimated age of 46, close to his real age of 44, but just 9 years later in 2014 the age guessing robot places him at 65. It seems that Mr President aged 20 years in less than 10 years of office.
Any one want to be President?

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+ - Reboot Your Dreamliner Every 248 Days To Avoid Integer Overflow ->

mikejuk writes: You may be used to rebooting a server every so often to ensure that it doesn't crash because of some resource problem, but what about a modern jet airliner like the Boeing 787?
A recent directive (https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/05/01/2015-10066/airworthiness-directives-the-boeing-company-airplanes) from the US Federal Aviation Administration reminds us that software in planes is about as trustworth as on the desktop.
To quote:
"This condition is caused by a software counter internal to the GCUs (Generator Control Units) that will overflow after 248 days of continuous power. We are issuing this AD to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane."
A simple guess suggests the the problem is a signed 32-bit overflow as 2^31 is the number of seconds in 248 days multiplied by 100, i.e. a 32 bit signed counter in hundredths of of a second.
Until there is a patch for the problem all Dreamliners have to be rebooted before the 248 day period is up. Apparently if the worse does happen and the GCUs overflow and switch off the power then the plane should have enough backup power from a lithium-ion battery for about 6 seconds while a ram air turbine deploys for emergency power generation. So, with luck, this isn't a bug that could cause planes to fall out of the sky.
It is estimated that the Airbus A380, comparable in complexity to the Dreamliner, has more than 100 million lines of code.

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+ - Seeing Buildings Shake With Software ->

mikejuk writes: In 2012 a team from MIT CSAIL discovered that you could get motion magnification by applying filtering algorithms to the color changes of individual pixels. The method didn't track movement directly, but instead used the color changes that result from the movement.
Now another MIT team has attempted to put the technique to use in monitoring structures — to directly see the vibrations in buildings, bridges and other constructions. Currently such monitoring involves instrumenting the building with accelerometers. This is expensive and doesn't generally give a complete "picture" of what is happening to the building. It would be much simpler to point a video camera at the building and use motion magnification software to really see the vibrations and this is exactly what the team are trying out. Yes you can see the building move — in real time — and it seems to be a good match to what traditional monitoring methods say is happening.
The next stage is to use the method to monitor MIT's Green Building, the Zakim Bridge and the John Hancock Tower in Boston. I wonder if they will put up a monitor to allow people in the buildings, or passing over the bridge, to see just how much they move! It could be an unnerving experience.

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+ - Intel Showcases RealSense 3D Camera Applications And Technologies In New York->

MojoKid writes: Intel gathered a number of its OEM and software partners together in New York City recently to showcase the latest innovations that the company's RealSense 3D camera technology can enable. From new interactive gaming experiences to video collaboration, 3D mapping and gesture controls, Intel's front-facing RealSense technology holds promise that could someday reinvent how we interact with PCs. The F200 RealSense camera module itself integrates a depth sensor and a full color 1080p HD camera together with standard technologies like dual array mics, but with an SDK, on-board processing engine and 3rd party software that can allow the camera module to sense numerous environmental variables, much more like a human does. In the demos that were shown, RealSense was used to create an accurate 3D map of a face, in a matter of seconds, track gestures and respond to voice commands, allow touch-free interaction in a game, and remove backgrounds from a video feed in real-time, for more efficient video conferencing and collaboration.
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+ - Intent To Deprecate HTTP -> 2 2

mikejuk writes: A suggestion on the Mozilla Dev forum aims to deprecate HTTP in favour of HTTPS. Has it really come to this? Browser devs dictating the protocols we use? Of course, it is all in the name of freedom.
The basic idea is that HTTPS is more secure — it stops government agencies spying on what we do and it stops man-in-the-middle attacks. Hence there is a growing belief that all web traffic should be encrypted and hence the move to deprecate HTTP and phase out browser support for it.
The problem is that to use HTTPS you need to buy a certificate and this isn't cheap. The solution is to make use of a self-signed certificate which provides encryption but not authentication. At the moment this isn't an easy option, but initiatives like the EFF's Let's Encrypt promises a service that will provide free certificates with some automatic domain validation and a database of certificates. This is makes using "lightly validated" certificates a possibility, but at the moment browsers tend to put up warning messages when you encounter a website that has a self-signed certificate. This makes an HTTPS site using a self-signed certificate look more risky than an HTTP site that has no encryption at all!
This is a very complicated situation. It is clear that there are situations were HTTPS is essential and there are many situations were it is largely irrelevant and actually harmful.
Which to us is not a decision that should be left to browser developers.

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+ - Intel Boss Controls Robot Spider Army ->

mikejuk writes: At the recent Intel Developer Forum, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took to the stage to demo its latest system-on-a-chip controlling an army of spiderbots.
OK it wasn't an army it was just four but in principle it could have been.
The Curie, announced back in January, might be Intel's best chance of getting more than a foothold in the IoT market. It is tiny button-like device that has a complete Intel Quark SoC and some sensors built in — 384K of Flash and 80K of SRAM to run the open source RTOS operating system. What is remarkable is that it also crams in Bluetooth LE, DSP hub and 6-axis accelerometer and gyro.
A small wristband containing a Curie monitored Krzanich's arm position and gestures and connected via Bluetooth to four spiderbots. You need to see the video to appreciate how spooky this is.
What is it with Intel and spiders? To show off its Edison processor Intel helped create a spider dress that reacted to protect the wearer's personal space if someone came to close, see Spider Dress Defends Your Space.
Now it has a bunch of spiders under the CEO's personal command. Perhaps this is how they plan to finish off ARM and any other competitors. Be afraid, be very afraid....

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You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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