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Comment Re:Uh oh...Batman becomes real? (Score 1) 40

Starting with the iPhone 5, the iPhone actually has 3 built-in microphones. They are used to improve intelligibility during phone calls, but unfortunately on iOS an app can't record from multiple microphones directly (i.e. by getting 2- or 3-channel PCM sample data). I'm not sure how this is for Android phones. (Disclaimer: I'm the developer of the Sleep Cycle Sonalarm Clock app that I've referenced in the post.)

Comment Re:Uh oh...Batman becomes real? (Score 1) 40

Starting with the iPhone 5, the iPhone actually has 3 built-in microphones. They are used to improve intelligibility during phone calls, but unfortunately an app can't record from multiple microphones directly (i.e. by getting 2- or 3-channel PCM sample data). I'm not sure how this is for Android phones.

Comment Re:Uh oh...Batman becomes real? (Score 2) 40

I've had users report back that the Sonalarm app worked well for them while sharing the bed with their partner. You have a bit of directionality because both the loudspeaker and the mic are located at the bottom edge of the iPhone, and also range is limited to around 1 to 2 meters, depending on the selected sensitivity. (Disclaimer: I'm the developer of the Sleep Cycle Sonalarm Clock app that I've referenced in the post.)

Comment Re:Uh oh...Batman becomes real? (Score 1) 40

I've read on a German website about the UW prototype that it requires a smartphone that can record from two microphones at the same time, so this probably solves the directional discrimination. The UW prototype uses 18-20 kHz which most adults can't hear. I know the iPhone's frequency range and it goes right up to 20 kHz for both playback and recording (disclaimer: I'm the developer of the Sonalarm app that I've referenced in the post and my app uses the 18.5 - 20 kHz range, IIRC).

Submission + - Philae lander online stardate 22:28 CEST 20150614 (

ndverdo writes: Philea, the European lander on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko has made contact at 22:28 CEST 20150614 with the the Rosetta probe that delivered it. "Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35C and has 24 Watts available," explains DLR Philae Project Manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec. "The lander is ready for operations." Approaching aphelion with the sun it was expected that it would gain sufficient energy to reestablish contact. This might set the stage for a daring manoeuvre to catapult Philae to a more sunny spot on the comet surface.

Submission + - Philae comet lander wakes up (

techtech writes: "The European Space Agency (Esa) says its comet lander, Philae, has woken up and contacted Earth.
Philae, the first spacecraft to land on a comet, was dropped on to the surface of Comet 67P by its mothership, Rosetta, last November.
It worked for 60 hours before its solar-powered battery ran flat.
The comet has since moved nearer to the sun and Philae has enough power to work again, says the BBC's science correspondent Jonathan Amos.
An account linked to the probe tweeted the message, "Hello Earth! Can you hear me?""

Submission + - Software-only contactless sleep monitoring based on sonar

n01 writes: Researchers of the University of Washington are testing the prototype of their ApneaApp to diagnose sleep apnea, a health problem that can become life-threatening. To monitor a person's sleep, the app transforms the user's smartphone phone into an active sonar system that tracks tiny changes in a person's movements. The phone's speaker sends out inaudible sound waves, which bounce off a sleeping person's body and are picked back up by the phone's microphone. "It's similar to the way bats navigate," said Rajalakshmi Nandakumar, lead author and a doctoral candidate in the UW's department of computer science and engineering. "They send out sound signals that hit a target, and when those signals bounce back they know something is there." In technical terms, the app continuously analyzes changes in the acoustic room-transfer-function (sampled at ultrasonic frequencies) to detect motion. This is very similar to what the iPhone app Sleep Cycle Sonalarm Clock does, except that the UW researchers have improved the sensitvity of the method so it can precisely track the person's breathing movements which allows it to not only detect different sleep phases but also sleep apnea events. The advantage in both use cases is that the sleep monitoring is contact-less (there's nothing in the user's bed that could disturb their sleep) and doesn't require any additional hardware besides the user's smart phone.

Submission + - Phyllie back on line

Feral Nerd writes: Here is a truly nerdy news report for a change. ESA reports the comet lander Philae has woken up from it's slumber. The probe's first sign of life in seven months was a twitter post, "Hello Earth! Can you hear me?". The next item on the agenda is to perform the drilling and chemical analysis experiments that could not be completed before the probe ran out of power 60 hours after landing.

Submission + - Philae has woke up

An anonymous reader writes: According the ESA's Rosetta blog:

"Rosetta's lander Philae is out of hibernation!

The signals were received at ESA's European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt at 22:28 CEST on 13 June. More than 300 data packets have been analysed by the teams at the Lander Control Center at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

"Philae is doing very well: It has an operating temperature of -35C and has 24 Watts available," explains DLR Philae Project Manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec. "The lander is ready for operations."

For 85 seconds Philae "spoke" with its team on ground, via Rosetta, in the first contact since going into hibernation in November.

When analysing the status data it became clear that Philae also must have been awake earlier: "We have also received historical data — so far, however, the lander had not been able to contact us earlier."

Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact. There are still more than 8000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the lander in the past few days on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Philae shut down on 15 November 2015 at 1:15 CET after being in operation on the comet for about 60 hours. Since 12 March 2015 the communication unit on orbiter Rosetta was turned on to listen out for the lander.

More information when we have it!"

Submission + - Lander Philae is awake – 'Hello' from space

Sique writes: The Philae lander has reported back on 13 June 2015 at 22:28 (CEST), coming out of hibernation and sending the first data to Earth. More than 300 data packets have been analysed by the team at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Lander Control Center: "Philae is doing very well – it has an operating temperature of minus 35 degrees Celsius and has 24 watts of power available," explains DLR’s Philae Project Manager, Stephan Ulamec. "The lander is ready for operations." Philae 'spoke' for 85 seconds with its team on ground in its first contact since it went into hibernation.

Submission + - Why Golang is doomed to succeed (

omar.sahal writes: A blogpost on texlution mentions that Golang was explicitly engineered to thrive in projects built by large groups of programmers with different skill levels, and there is no larger such group than the open source community.
Open source projects live on contributions. Very few successful projects are built only by a single developer. In the open source world you don’t recruit your contributors, they must come to you, and while you can chose which contributions to accept, the more you get the stronger you grow. This is where a level playing field like Go thrives.
This open source fitness is why I think you are about to see more and more Go around in spite of what some might think of it. In fact, Go has already succeeded. Much of the meaningful systems software coming out these days is written in Go. OSS companies like docker, CoreOS or HashiCorp are leading a server revolution with Go as their primary tool. You have emerging databases, search libraries, http proxies or monitoring systems. Go is already a big player in server software and it’s only extending its reach.
There are some valid issues with Go however as the author states:
  • Go not optimally achieving Go’s design goals

Sometimes it’s a matter of opinion. Sometimes things are technically more complicated that people assume. Sometimes the Go authors, human beings as they are, just didn’t get it completely right.

Submission + - 210 Degree VR Headset with 5K Display Revealed by 'Payday' Developer Starbreeze (

An anonymous reader writes: Starbreeze Studios has taken wraps off of StarVR, a new VR headset with dual displays comprising a 210 degree horizontal field of view with a total resolution of 5120x1440. The headset's origins come from InfinitEye, a company working on a super-wide dual-display headset back in 2013 (, which went into stealth mode for quite some time before being reborn as StarVR in partnership with Starbreeze Studios ( The studio is the developer behind the Payday franchise, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and now 'Overkill's The Walking Dead', which will have a VR component utilizing the new headset.

Submission + - Book Review: If Hemingway Wrote Javascript (

phantomfive writes: If Hemingway did write Javascript, it would be straightforward, unadorned and precise; because that's how he wrote English. You wouldn't see any fancy meta-programming from him!

If Hemingway wrote Javascript is a book to remind you of the good parts of programming. A book for a cold evening with hot chocolate and the warm glow of a monitor. An alternate title might have been, Programming: the Fun Parts.

The author was frustrated with his day job and the culture of Silicon Valley, so he turned to writing as an escape. It didn't take long for him to remember that programming is actually fun. On Slashdot we've known that for a while, that's why there's open-source programming. This book is priced at less than $20, and considering the high-quality printing, it seems more an attempt to share ideas than make money.

Each chapter contains Javascript 'written' by a different famous author. Twenty-five authors make an appearance, including Chaucer, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling, and Franz Kafka. Kafka's Javascript doesn't quite work, the execution metamorphoses into a bug. That's the kind of humor you'll find in this book. To give you an idea of what the code looks like, here is a function written by Douglas Adams. This function calculates prime numbers and displays them to the user (but somehow always returns the number 42).

// Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to write JavaScript...
function kevinTheNumberMentioner(_){
/* mostly harmless --> */ with(l) {

// sorry about all this, my babel fish has a headache today...
for(ll=!+[]+!![];ll<_+(+!![]);ll++) {
// I've got this terrible pain in all the semicolons down my right hand side

// you're really not going to like this...
return [!+[]+!+[]+!+[]+!+[]]+[!+[]+!+[]];

This sample takes advantage of Javascript's weird type conversion. !+[] is an empty array added to a not-false, which gets coerced into a boolean, then into an integer value of one. The clause !+[]+!![] gets resolved into an integer value of two.

Some of the authors are a little obscure. If you don't pay attention to the Man-Booker Prize recipients, you may never have heard of Arundhati Roy. If you've even heard of Andre Breton, you might be surprised to find he was a writer, not just a painter.

To help you through these sections, the book includes an explanation of each author's style. If you've ever wondered why anyone would want to read a book by Hemingway, consider this explanation: "In his fiction, he describes only tangible truths: dialog, action, superficial traits. He does not attempt to explain emotion; he leaves it alone....His intent is to create a vacuum so that it might be filled by the reader's own experience. Emotion is more easily felt than described with words."

The book is not above mocking the authors. Of Dan Brown, it says, "He'll often use the same adverb multiple times in a paragraph. In the prologue to The Da Vinci Code almost every action happens "slowly;" in Inferno we're told no less than four times that Langdon's doctor has "bushy eyebrows." Yet Dan Brown has a unique and recognizable style, and that qualifies him for inclusion in the book.

At various interludes, we find original poetry, related to programming, in the style of other famous authors; who apparently couldn't write Javascript but still wanted to contribute. From Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, it degenerates to this doggerel: "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I struggled with JQuery/ Sighing softly, weak and weary, troubled by my daunting chore...." Notice how accurately the rhythm is replicated, though. Rhythm is something missing when a lot of people try to write poetry, but not here.

The artwork is fun to look at, even aside from the text. Jane Austen is drawn with an impish little smile to denote her subtle sarcasm, Jack Kerouac shows up in a mug-shot that indicate his wild writing, and Lewis Carrol has a kindly look that suggests he is looking at some poor confused person who is reading what he wrote.

Each author also is quoted, explaining what they think of Javascript. Charles Dickens says, "It was the best of languages, it was the worst of languages." J K Rowling says, "There's more to Javascript than waving your wand and saying a few funny words." Bolano says, "We dreamed of Javascript and woke up screaming."

This book is most certainly a good read. The primary criticisms I have are that the Angus Croll (who wrote the book) is both better at writing Javascript than the authors he chose, and worse at writing English than the authors. He would have done better, in trying to describe the style of the authors, to include more examples of their writing and less of his own. Sometimes his descriptions get too wordy. The editor should have removed some redundancy: whole sentences could be redacted and would only improve readability. He likes playing dress-up with his nouns, giving them adjective after adjective; sometimes making it hard to figure out what is a noun and what is an adjective. Surprisingly, considering how well he matched the rhythm of The Raven, he seems unaware of the cadence of his prose.

Despite these faults, the book is a worthy read. If you've forgotten that programming is fun, not just a profession, maybe this will remind you.

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