AmiMoJo writes: Pop songs are getting shorter as listeners’ attention spans shrink in the streaming era, a new study by Ohio State University reveals. Intros in the 1980s lasted around 20 seconds on average, down to 5 seconds today. The research also discovered a marked increase in the tempo of popular music, and that singers today mention the song title a lot earlier in their lyrics than artists did 30 years ago. In the study, Leveille Gauvin links the trend for faster songs and shorter intros to the rapid rise of Spotify and other streaming sites, which give listeners instant access to millions of songs.
AmiMoJo writes: Lab tests carried out by Dutch scientists have shown that some of today's "smart" electrical meters may give out false readings that in some cases can be 582% higher than actual energy consumption. The study involved several tests conducted on nine different brands of "smart" meters, also referred to in the industry as "static energy meters." Researchers also used one electromechanical meter for reference. Test results varied wildly, with some meters reporting errors way above their disclosed range, going from -32% to +582%. Tests with uncommon results were repeated several times and the results were within a few percents of the original. The research team discovered that smart meters which gave abnormally high readings used a Rogowski Coil in their setup, while the smart meters that gave out low readings used Hall effect-based sensors.
AmiMoJo writes: The EFI is warns about unregulated activity against web sites by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) of the City of London Police. A programme called RogueBlock accepts notifications from IP holders, which the PIPCU then acts on, giving private companies legal jurisdiction over the entire internet, with appeals in the case of malicious reports and mistakes being extremely difficult to make. For example, Spanish sports streaming site Rojadirecta had its domain name seized by the U.S. government for over a year, despite the site being lawful in its native Spain. The EFF terms this kind of activity "shadow regulation".
AmiMoJo writes: Following two years of trials of the world's first electric car ferry, named Ampere, Norwegian ferry operators are busy making the transition from diesel. It is thought that 84 ferries are ripe for conversion to electric power, and 43 ferries on longer routes would benefit from conversion to hybrids that use diesel engines to charge their batteries. If this were done, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions would be cut by 8,000 tonnes per year and CO2 emissions by 300,000 tonnes per year, equivalent to the annual emissions from 150,000 cars. The Ampere uses an 800kWh battery, equivalent to 8 high end Tesla cars.
AmiMoJo writes: Three people in Illinois have filed a lawsuit against Microsoft, claiming that its Windows 10 update destroyed their data and damaged their computers. The complaint, filed in Chicago's US District Court on Thursday, charges that Microsoft Windows 10 is a defective product and that its maker failed to provide adequate warning about the potential risks posed by Windows 10 installation – specifically system stability and data loss. The attorneys representing the trio are seeking to have the case certified as a class action that includes every person in the US who upgraded to Windows 10 from Windows 7 and suffered data loss or damage to software or hardware within 30 days of installation. They claim there are hundreds or thousands of affected individuals. Last June, a California woman won $10,000 after a Windows 10 update disabled her PC.
AmiMoJo writes: China has long been both a huge lure and a thorn in the side for Microsoft. Massive piracy of Windows XP, a decade-long effort to replace Windows entirely with a home-grown Linux variant called Red Flag and an OpenOffice variant called RedOffice, and a ban on Windows 8 for government use following the leak by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of information on National Security Agency spying all have combined to hinder Microsoft in the Chinese market. But now Microsoft — in partnership with the state-owned CETC — is preparing to reboot its relationship with Beijing, thanks to a modified version of Windows produced specifically for China.
AmiMoJo writes: To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America's heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that's cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums. Tractor hacking is growing increasingly popular because John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform "unauthorized" repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time. "When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don't have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it," Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. "Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix]."
AmiMoJo writes: Dads who want to be more involved in the care of their children fear that asking for more flexible hours might damage their careers. Such requests can even lead to employers questioning their workers' commitment. Research suggests 44% of dads have lied about family-related responsibilities. The UK government forecasts that between only 2% and 8% of eligible fathers will take up Shared Parental Leave.
AmiMoJo writes: When he was in office, former President Barack Obama earned the ire of anti-war activists for his expansion of Bush's drone wars. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning head of state ordered ten times more drone strikes than the previous president, and estimates late in Obama's presidency showed 49 out of 50 victims were civilians. In 2015, it was reported that up to 90% of drone casualties were not the intended targets.
Current President Donald Trump campaigned on a less interventionist foreign policy, claiming to be opposed to nation-building and misguided invasions. But less than two months into his presidency, Trump has expanded the drone strikes that plagued Obama's "peaceful" presidency.
"During President Obama's two terms in office, he approved 542 such targeted strikes in 2,920 days—one every 5.4 days. From his inauguration through today, President Trump had approved at least 36 drone strikes or raids in 45 days—one every 1.25 days."
AmiMoJo writes: A Frenchman by the name of Franky Zapata, who invented a hoverboard (a real one that actually flies), has been banned from piloting it in his home country. The founder of the company that bears his name, said there is a “strong probability that the Flyboard Air will never fly again in France,” after officials from the French air gendarmerie told him he would be placed under criminal investigation if he continued to pilot the craft. Zapata added that he will now be “obliged to leave France” in order to continue his work. “I leave you [to] imagine my disgust after having produced more than 10,000 ‘made in France’ Flyboards.”
AmiMoJo writes: Hasbro recently held a public vote to update the tokens used in their iconic board game Monoploly. Votes were cast online, and the results are in. The Wheelbarrow, Boot and Thimble are out, the T-Rex, Rubber Ducky and Penguin are in. Of the original set, the Scottie Dog, Cat, Top Hat and Battleship remain.
AmiMoJo writes: Until now Windows 10 has allowed users to avoid downloading updates over metered (pay-per-byte) connections, to avoid racking up huge bills. Some users were setting their ethernet/wifi connections as metered in order to prevent Windows 10 from downloading and installing updates without their permission. In its latest preview version of the OS, Microsoft is now forcing some updates necessary for "smooth operation" to download even on these connections. As well as irritating users who want to control when updates download and install, users of expensive pay-per-byte connections could face massive bills.
AmiMoJo writes: An endless, circular runway with a diameter of 3km has been proposed by Netherlands Aerospace to help increase airport capacity and reduce fuel consumption. The main feature of the circular runway is that it will become possible to let an aircraft operate always at landing and take-off with headwind. Whatever its strength and direction, the Endless Runway becomes independent of the wind. The BBC has a video demonstrating how aircraft would land and take-off from from a slightly tilted, curved surface.
AmiMoJo writes: A group of lawmakers Thursday introduced a pair of bills that would create a seat-size standard for commercial airlines, as well as a minimum distance between rows of seats. The text of the bill does not specify any dimensions for seat widths or legroom. Rather, if the legislation is passed, the particulars would be left up to the FAA to sort out. Though seat size may vary from airline to airline, Cohen notes that the average distance between rows of seats has dropped from 35 inches before airline deregulation in the 1970s, to around 31 inches today. Your backside is getting the squeeze, as well, as the average width of an airline seat has also shrunk from 18 inches to about 16.5 inches.