Submission + - How To Win A Nuclear Standoff

Plus1Entropy writes: If the threat of nuclear war weighs on your mind, it might give you some comfort to know that the recent posturing by Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump is perfectly rational, according to game theory.

FiveThirtyEight looked at modern game theory as it applies to nuclear war, which is largely based on the work of Nobel Prize winning economist (and consultant for Dr. Strangelove) Thomas Schelling. Of course, it wouldn't be interesting if the conclusions weren't counter-intuitive:

A typical Schellingian finding: Imagine you’re Trump or Kim Jong Un, essentially playing a game of chicken. You’re driving at high speed directly toward your opponent who’s also racing toward you. Neither of you wants to chicken out and veer away, but neither wants to die, either. Your best strategy? Rip off your steering wheel, make sure your opponent knows you’ve done so, and hit the gas.

Submission + - Happy Music Boosts Brain's Creativity, Study Says (newscientist.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Need inspiration? Happy background music can help get the creative juices flowing. Simone Ritter, at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and Sam Ferguson, at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, have been studying the effect of silence and different types of music on how we think. They put 155 volunteers into five groups. Four of these were each given a type of music to listen to while undergoing a series of tests, while the fifth group did the tests in silence. The tests were designed to gage two types of thinking: divergent thinking, which describes the process of generating new ideas, and convergent thinking, which is how we find the best solutions for a problem. Ritter and Ferguson found that people were more creative when listening to music they thought was positive, coming up with more unique ideas than the people who worked in silence. However, happy music – in this instance, Antonio Vivaldi’s Spring – only boosted divergent thinking. No type of music helped convergent thinking, suggesting that it’s better to solve problems in silence.

Submission + - Google's Street View Cars Are Now Giant, Mobile 3D Scanners (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Google's got a hot new ride. The company has a new Street View car with updated cameras, and—surprisingly—a set of Lidar (Light, Detection and Ranging) cans! Google doesn't have anything up officially about this, but Wired has the scoop on the new vehicles. The camera system upgrade—the first in eight years—greatly improves the image quality while simplifying the rig. In the main ball, Google is down from 15 cameras to seven, making the whole package a lot smaller. These 20MP cameras are aimed all around the car, and the pictures they take are stitched together into a spherical image for Google Maps. There's more to the cars than just the ball though: there are also a pair of "HD" cameras that face directly left and right. These are dedicated to reading street signs, business names, and even posted store hours; those images are funneled to Google's cloud computers for visual processing. The end result of the new cameras will be prettier Street View shots, with higher resolution, better colors, and fewer stitching errors. The better images should also result in more data for Google's various visual feature-detection algorithms.

Wired's report focuses almost entirely on the new cameras, but I think the the most interesting additions are the two LIDAR pucks that hang just below the camera ball. These are the ubiquitous Velodyne VLP-16 "Puck" sensors, allowing the to car "see" in 3D in 360 degrees. These $8,000 Lidar sensors are most commonly used in autonomous car prototypes, so to see them on a Street View car is unexpected. Don't expect the Street View cars to start driving themselves anytime soon—as Google Street View's Technical Program Manager Steve Silverman says in Wired's video, the Lidar sensors "are used to position us in the world."

Submission + - Risks of Opioid Abuse by Pregnant Women (medium.com)

sovarizona1 writes: Despite the best intentions of the physicians, the effort to improve pain management has led to some adverse health consequences across the United States. Among all repercussions, the rise in prescription drug abuse remains the most serious one.

Submission + - Chrome 61 Arrives With JavaScript Modules And WebUSB Support

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched Chrome 61 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Additions in this release include JavaScript modules and WebUSB support, among other developer features. You can update to the latest version now using the browser’s built-in silent updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome. Google also released Chrome 61 for Android today. In addition to performance and stability fixes, you can expect two new features: Translate pages with a more compact toolbar and pick images with an improved image picker.

Submission + - Android Oreo could eat through your data allowance, even with Wi-Fi enabled (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: An apparent bug with Android Oreo has been discovered which means Google's mobile operating system could be munching its way through your data allowance, even if you're connected to a wireless network.

A thread on Reddit highlighted the issue, with many people pointing out that it could prove expensive for anyone not using an unlimited data plan. Google is apparently aware of the problem and is working on a patch, but in the meantime Oreo users are being warned to consider disabling mobile data when they are at home or using a wireless connection elsewhere.

Submission + - Plastics Found in 80% of Tap Water and Mineral Water, Worldwide

Robotron23 writes: Research published by Orb Media, a nonprofit journalism group, has revealed that microplastics have contaminated high proportions of drinking water and bottled water. Samples from the United States tested positive in 94% of instances, while Europe's contamination averages around 73%. Tests were undertaken at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, with lead researcher Dr. Anne Marie Mahon noting the risk of plastics carrying bacteria, and commenting: "In terms of fibres, the diameter is 10 microns across and it would be very unusual to find that level of filtration in our drinking water systems."

Submission + - Oreo means no going back (androidpolice.com) 1

jbernardo writes: Google is using the boiling frog method to exclude power users and custom ROMS from android.

A new feature in Android 8.0 Oreo, called "Rollback Protection" and included in the "Verified Boot" changes, will prevent a device from booting should it be rolled back to an earlier firmware. The detailed information is here.

As it rejects an image if its "rollback index" is inferior than the one in "tamper evident storage", any attempts to install a previous version of the official, signed ROM will make the device unbootable. Much like iOS (without the rollback grace period) or the extinct Lumias. It is explained in the recommended boot workflow and notes below, together with some other "smart" ideas.

Now, this might seem like a good idea at first, but let's just just imagine this on a PC. It would mean no easy roll back from windows 10 to 7 after a forced installation, and doing that or installing linux would mean a unreasonably complex bootloader unlocking, with all your data wiped. Add safetynet to the mix, and you would also be blocked from watching netflix or accessing your banking sites if you dared to install linux or rollback windows.

To add insult to injury, unlocked devices will stop booting for at least 10 seconds to show some paternalist message on how unlocking is bad for your health — "If the device has a screen and buttons (for example if it's a phone) the warning is to be shown for at least 10 seconds before the boot process continues."

Now, and knowing that most if not all android bootloaders have vulnerabilities/backdoors, how can this be defended, even with the "security/think of the children" approach? This has no advantages other than making it hard for users to install ROMs or to revert to a previous official ROM to restore missing functionality.

User Journal

Journal + - Journal: It's ALIVE! 1

I finally gathered the nerve to try to boot up my Apple IIgs for the first time in about 12 years.

A few of the connectors on the system are corroded, but not horribly so. This is not really surprising, as it has spent a large part of the last 12 years in a musty cellar.

The only part missing right now is the keyboard itself. It got misplaced during a move, but I'm pretty sure where it is. (I've actually got its location narrowed down to two or three places.)

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