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June, 2018

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Britain’s tax authority says it has taken down 20,750 malicious sites in the past year

HRMC is fighting an online war against fake websites and phishing emails intended to defraud taxpayers in the UK, and it is asking the public to help… …read more

Source:: ZDNet

We’ve Reached ‘Peak Screen’. So What Comes Next?

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times:
We’ve hit what I call Peak Screen. For much of the last decade, a technology industry ruled by smartphones has pursued a singular goal of completely conquering our eyes. It has given us phones with ever-bigger screens and phones with unbelievable cameras, not to mention virtual reality goggles and several attempts at camera-glasses. Tech has now captured pretty much all visual capacity. Americans spend three to four hours a day looking at their phones and about 11 hours a day looking at screens of any kind.

So tech giants are building the beginning of something new: a less insistently visual tech world, a digital landscape that relies on voice assistants, headphones, watches and other wearables to take some pressure off our eyes. This could be a nightmare; we may simply add these new devices to our screen-addled lives. But depending on how these technologies develop, a digital ecosystem that demands less of our eyes could be better for everyone — less immersive, less addictive, more conducive to multitasking, less socially awkward, and perhaps even a salve for our politics and social relations. Who will bring us this future? Amazon and Google are clearly big players, but don’t discount the company that got us to Peak Screen in the first place. With advances to the Apple Watch and AirPods headphones, Apple is slowly and almost quietly creating an alternative to its phones… If it works, it could change everything again.

Warning that screens are insatiable vampires for your attention, the piece argues we should be using our phones more mindfully — and exploring “less immersive ways to interact with the digital world” like Google and Amazon voice assisants.
“The sooner we find something else, the better.”

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Source:: Slashdot

Massive New ‘Salesforce Tower’ Light Sculpture: AI, Ubuntu, Fog, and a MacBook

The new tallest building on the San Francisco skyline — and the tallest building in America west of the Mississippi — includes a nine-story electronic sculpture that’s been called the tallest piece of public art on Earth. It uses 11,000 LED bulbs reflected off the tower-topping aluminum panels — each pixel created by a set of red, green, blue and white lights controlled by 8-bit PIC microcontrollers. “On a clear night, the show is visible for 30 miles,” reports IEEE Spectrum.

Slashdot reader Tekla Perry shares their article about “the technology involved in the light show at the top of Salesforce Tower. Electrical engineer and artist Jim Campbell explains it all — and how the window-washer problem stumped him for nearly a year.”
“[O]n the 62nd floor, a central PC-based computer runs Ubuntu Linux, sending instructions to a communications control system that splits the data and sends it at 11 Mbit to the 32 enclosures using a custom communications protocol… We will capture images throughout the day, sending them to Amazon’s cloud, and run some algorithms designed to identify visual interesting-ness. For example, at its simplest, when we look at the sky, if it’s all blue, it’s boring, if it’s all white, it’s boring, if it has white and blue it is likely to be interesting. We’ll chose the best half hour of the day at each camera, based on movement and color, to display….”

And finally, when the main display shuts down late at night, another system designed by Campbell will kick in. In this static display, a set of 36 white LEDs will create a three-dimensional constellation of lights that will look like stars. “It’s quieter, it has a random aspect to it,” he says.

“Since construction started, the tower has emerged as an icon of the new San Francisco — techie, ambitious, perhaps a little grandiose,” writes the New Yorker, capturing the moment when Campbell finally unveiled his four-year project — while fighting stomach flu and a chest cold, on a night which turned out to be prohibitively foggy. The executive vice-president of Boston Properties told him cheerily, “Jim! Look on the brighter side. We’ve got every night for the rest of our lives.”

“There was a long silence from the people on the terrace. The fog was thick. At last, someone exclaimed, ‘Woo-hoo!,’ and a volley of cheers followed.” Although the colors they were seeing came from the celebratory fireworks and not from Jim’s light sculpture.
Are there any San Francisco-area Slashdotters who want to weigh in on the Salesforce Tower?

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Source:: Slashdot

DEXTER Has the Precision To Get The Job Done

Microchip

Robotic arms – they’re useful, a key part of our modern manufacturing economy, and can also be charming under the right circumstances. But above all, they are prized for being able to undertake complex tasks repeatedly and in a highly precise manner. Delivering on all counts is DEXTER, an open-source 5-axis robotic arm with incredible precision.

DEXTER is built out of 3D printed parts, combined with off-the-shelf carbon fiber sections to add strength. Control is through five NEMA 17 stepper motors which are connected to harmonic drives to step the output down at a ratio of 52:1. Each motor is fitted with an optical encoder which provides feedback to control the end effector position.

Unlike many simpler projects, DEXTER doesn’t play in the paddling pool with 8-bit micros or even an ARM chip – an FPGA lends the brainpower to DEXTER’s operations. This gives DEXTER broad capabilities for configuration and expansion. Additionally, it allows plenty of horsepower for the development of features like training modes, where the robot is stepped manually through movements and they are recorded for performance later.

It’s a project that is both high performing and open-source, which is always nice to see. We look forward to seeing how this one develops further!

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Source:: Hackaday

ComputerWorld Says Newest Windows 10 ‘Isn’t Ready for Prime Time’

“Despite Microsoft’s assurances, Windows 10 1803 isn’t ready for prime time,” writes ComputerWorld’s Woody Leonhard, adding “Microsoft’s patches in June took on some unexpected twists…”
Win10 1803 was declared fully fit for business, a pronouncement that was followed weeks later by fixes for a few glaring, acknowledged bugs — and stony silence for other known problems. We’re continuing the two-big-cumulative-updates-a-month pace for all supported versions of Windows 10. The second cumulative update frequently fixes bugs introduced by the first cumulative update. Microsoft may think that Win10 (1803) is ready for widespread deployment, but there are a few folks who would take issue with that stance…
Tuesday, Microsoft finally released a fix for two big bugs that have dogged Win10 1803 since its inception… In practice, life isn’t so simple. WSUS (the Windows Update Server software) isn’t “seeing” KB 4284848, as of late Wednesday afternoon — which may be a good thing. Along with the second cumulative update this month, there are additional releases to fix the Servicing Stack, and a new “Compatibility update” that, per the documentation, is designed to make it easier to upgrade Win10 1803 Enterprise to Win10 1803 Enterprise (not a typo)…
One problem that has been acknowledged — but only by a Microsoft Agent on an Answers Forum post — says that installing 1803 can clobber your peer-to-peer network. That certainly matches my experience.
Woody concludes, “If you think Win10 1803 is ready for prime time, you’re welcome to give it a try.”

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Source:: Slashdot

2018 iPhones might use LG’s OLED displays, and we put iOS 12 on an iPhone 5S – CNET

Plus, a new trick with Amazon Alexa. We’ve got your iPhone news this week. …read more

Source:: CNet

US Government Study Concludes: You’re Probably Washing Your Hands Wrong

97% of us don’t wash our hands properly, a new government study concludes. An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
The study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows most consumers failed to wash their hands and rub with soap for 20 seconds. That’s the amount of time recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that washing for shorter periods means fewer germs are removed. “Numerous” study participants also didn’t dry their hands with a clean towel.
The study involved 383 people in six test kitchen facilities in the metro Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and in rural Smithfield, North Carolina, the USDA said… About half the time, participants spread bacteria to spice containers while preparing burgers, and 11% of the time, they spread bacteria to refrigerator handles… The results from the USDA’s study indicate our hand-washing habits may be getting worse. A study done in 2013 by Michigan State University found only 5% of people washed their hands correctly….
A separate study released this month found 49 of 100 towels tested showed growth of bacteria normally found in or on the human body.
CNN helpfully provides the proper method for handwashing. (Wet hands, lather them with soap — between fingers and under fingernails — and then scrub for at least 20 seconds.) They recommend singing the alphabet song once or “Happy Birthday” twice.
Just in America, foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million people each year, sending 128,000 to hospitals and resulting in 3,000 deaths.

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Source:: Slashdot

Doctor Who Infinity game puts Tenth Doctor and Rose in danger – CNET

The third chapter of the interactive game features the Doctor and Rose Tyler stumbling upon a Welsh mystery and an alien invasion. …read more

Source:: CNet

The best Schiit ever, the Yggdrasil digital audio converter – CNET

Schiit’s flagship converter, the Yggdrasil Analog 2, sells for a fraction of the cost of the best high-end converters, but it’s right up there in performance. …read more

Source:: CNet

Bitcoin Drops Below $6,000, An 8-Month Low

An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:
Bitcoin’s value slid to its lowest level since November on Friday, as waning investor interest and recent negative headlines from global regulators weakened demand for the cryptocurrency and most of its rivals. Virtual currencies, including the best-known and biggest, bitcoin, have been stuck in a downward trend for most of 2018 after last year’s frenzied interest fizzled. Recent hacks and the “cyber intrusion” of cryptocurrency exchanges in key Asian markets has also encouraged investors to exit.

Bitcoin fell to as low as $5,774 on the Bitstamp exchange, the lowest since November 12… So far in 2018, bitcoin has tumbled almost 60 percent after soaring more than 1,300 percent last year. It is now down 70 percent from its December peak… The total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies has fallen to around $230 billion from a peak of around $800 billion in January.

Will Hobbs, Head of Investment Strategy at Barclays Smart Investor, now tells Reuters that “None of the crypto currencies currently fulfill any of the criteria that we would look for in an investible asset, and we would continue to advise extreme caution. The rout in crypto currencies is still not finished.”

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Source:: Slashdot

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