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Ethereum blockchain is sailing to Byzantium – hard fork up and running

The Register - October 16, 2017 - 3:37pm
Promises clearer user interaction and extra privacy

The latest upgrade to the popular Ethereum blockchain protocol – Byzantium –went live today, adding additional privacy and performance features.…

How to harden a country that sits on a fault line

Ars Technica - October 16, 2017 - 3:30pm

Enlarge / The Champagne Pool at the southern end of the Okataina volcanic area. (credit: Flickr user: Darren Puttock)

ROTORUA, New Zealand—If you head east from my parents' home in New Zealand, you'll travel through rolling hills for a while. Then, as you crest a rather unremarkable climb, an unexpectedly spectacular view opens up before you. Mokoia Island is small, bushy, and brooding, and it sits at the center of a wide blue lake in what appears to be a large valley.

But that's no valley. From the distant view of that crest, the only obvious clue lies in a large hill, grandiosely named Mount Ngongotaha, off to one side. It is not attached to the valley walls and stands alone, a land-locked cousin to Mokoia Island.

The view is from the collapsed wall of the caldera of the Rotorua Volcano, part of the Okataina volcanic area. Mokoia and Ngongotaha are the remnants of eruptions that are slowly re-filling the huge volume of rock that was blasted out of Okataina in the distant past. This process is called caldera-repairing. The town of Rotorua sits right inside the caldera and is surrounded by evidence of the energy stored just beneath the surface. The town abounds with hot springs, boiling mud, and, yes, the sulfurous farts of the gods.

Read 45 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New Audi A7 coming October 19, teaser shows familiar shape - Roadshow - News - October 16, 2017 - 3:30pm
Don't expect the overall formula to change much.

Enter for your chance to win* the Ancheer fun-and-fitness giveaway! - CNET - News - October 16, 2017 - 3:24pm
One lucky winner gets an electric bike! Another gets a treadmill! And one more scores a pair of inflatable bumper-bubble soccer balls!

New film explores the real-life romantic threesome behind Wonder Woman

Ars Technica - October 16, 2017 - 3:21pm

Annapurna Pictures

2017 has been the year of Wonder Woman, at least in the realm of pop culture, and now there's a fascinating behind-the-scenes tale of the people who dreamed up the Amazonian superhero who stands for love. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is about William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), Elizabeth Holloway Marston (Rebecca Hall), and Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), three psychology researchers at Tufts University who fell in love during the liberated 1920s. Eventually they had four children (each woman bore two) and lived together for their whole adult lives. Along the way, they invented Wonder Woman together, though only William Marston (under the pen name Charles Moulton) was given credit for it.

It's one of the most unusual love stories ever to be told on film, and it illuminates a time in history that most have forgotten. Between roughly 1910 and the mid-1930s, there was a flowering of feminist and sexual liberation movements in Europe and the US, leading to birth-control clinics, women's suffrage, the infamous Kinsey Reports, and even a 1919 German film called Different from the Others, about the urgent need for gay rights. Marston, who championed women's right to vote, was deeply involved in these movements with his partners. Byrne was the daughter of feminist activist Ethel Byrne, who cofounded the organization that later became Planned Parenthood with her sister Margaret Sanger. Elizabeth Marston was one of the first women to earn a law degree in the US and had a master's degree in psychology.

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Huawei Mate 10 uses AI to distinguish cats from dogs

BBC Technology News - October 16, 2017 - 3:16pm
Huawei Mate 10 handsets use a new type of processor to recognise objects being photographed.

Huge power imbalance between firms and users whose info they grab

The Register - October 16, 2017 - 3:08pm
Pervasive data-gathering needs urgent action – report

Mass commercial data gathering and opaque decision-making processes have a “massive potential” to damage personal autonomy and dignity, a report has said.…

Krack wi-fi security flaw explained

BBC Technology News - October 16, 2017 - 3:01pm
A major flaw in wi-fi connections has been revealed by security researchers.

Neutron stars collide, solve major astronomical mysteries

Ars Technica - October 16, 2017 - 3:00pm

Enlarge (credit: NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet)

We've been extremely lucky. The LIGO and VIRGO detectors only operated simultaneously for a few weeks, but they were a remarkably busy few weeks. Today, those behind the joint collaboration announced that they've observed the merger of two neutron stars. And, because neutron stars don't swallow everything they encounter, the gravitational waves were accompanied by photons, including an extended afterglow. So dozens of telescopes, and many in space, had representatives involved in the announcement.

The number of major astrophysical issues cleared up by this collision is impressive. The collision was simultaneously detected with the Fermi space telescope, confirming that neutron star mergers produce a phenomenon known as a short gamma-ray burst. The gravitational waves were detected nearly simultaneously with the gamma ray burst, confirming that they move at the speed of light. And heavy elements like gold were detected in the debris, indicating that these mergers are a source of elements that would otherwise be difficult to produce in a supernova.

Finally, the gravitational waves from this event were detected over a period of roughly 100 seconds, which should allow a detailed analysis of their production.

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft Windows 10 breaches Dutch privacy law

BBC Technology News - October 16, 2017 - 2:59pm
The Dutch regulator says sanctions may be imposed if Microsoft does not comply.

Stamp out sickening distribution of images, says Durham police chief

BBC Technology News - October 16, 2017 - 2:54pm
Internet companies need to do more to "stamp out sickening distribution of images and live streaming of abuse online" says a chief constable.

Keep your voice down in the data centre, the HDDs have ears! I SAID, KEEP...

The Register - October 16, 2017 - 2:33pm
The world's worst microphone uses spinning platters

It must be one of the worst ways to build a microphone imaginable, tapping into a disk drive's nanosecond head stops as it waits for the vibrations caused by sound to cease, but it has been done.…

Ophelia became a major hurricane where no storm had before

Ars Technica - October 16, 2017 - 2:14pm

Enlarge / It's safe to say that as a major hurricane, Ophelia was something of an outlier on Saturday. (credit: Sam Lillo/Twitter)

The system formerly known as Hurricane Ophelia is moving into Ireland on Monday, bringing "status red" weather throughout the day to the island. The Irish National Meteorological Service, Met Éireann, has warned that, "Violent and destructive gusts of 120 to 150km/h are forecast countrywide, and in excess of these values in some very exposed and hilly areas. There is a danger to life and property."

Ophelia transitioned from a hurricane to an extra-tropical system on Sunday, but that only marginally diminished its threat to Ireland and the United Kingdom on Monday, before it likely dissipates near Norway on Tuesday. The primary threat from the system was high winds, with heavy rains.

Forecasters marveled at the intensification of Ophelia on Saturday, as it reached Category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson scale and became a major hurricane. For a storm in the Atlantic basin, this is the farthest east that a major hurricane has been recorded during the satellite era of observations. Additionally, it was the farthest north, at 35.9 degrees north, that an Atlantic major hurricane has existed this late in the year since 1939.

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Customers cheesed off after card details nicked in Pizza Hut data breach

The Register - October 16, 2017 - 2:03pm
Victims reporting fraudulent transactions

Miscreants have made off with payment card details of "a small number of clients" following a data breach at Pizza Hut.…

2017 Ford Shelby GT350 review - Roadshow - Reviews - October 16, 2017 - 2:02pm
Ford's Shelby GT350 is no mere Mustang. It's more a track-ready race car that you can drive on the road.

Huawei’s Mate 10 blends AI into every part of the smartphone experience

Ars Technica - October 16, 2017 - 2:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Huawei's first "AI-powered" smartphone, the Mate 9, debuted last year, and the Chinese company continues to dive further into the benefits of artificial intelligence in its newest smartphones. Huawei announced the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro smartphones today, both of which promise not only hardware improvements over the Mate 9, but also more AI power thanks to a dedicated neural network processing unit (NPU). While most of us are accustomed to AI assistants on our smartphones (think Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Alexa), Huawei is taking a more embedded approach to AI, focusing on how a dedicated NPU can increase performance and efficiency over time as it learns about everything you do with your smartphone.


The Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro have a number of small and somewhat confusing differences between them. Let's first cover what they have in common: both run Android Oero and EMUI 8.0. Huawei's Kirin 970 CPU, 12-core Mali G72 GPU, and new NPU for AI processing power both devices. The handsets also have the same 4,000 mAh battery that supports fast charging, allowing them to charge up to 58 percent in just 30 minutes.

Huawei continues its collaboration with Leica on the Mate 10 handsets. Both have dual f/1.6 rear camera setups, featuring a 20MP monochrome lens and a 12MP RGB lens with optical image stabilization. The front-facing camera is the same, standard 8MP shooter on both models, too. Both the Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro have all-glass bodies with a nearly one-inch-wide, reflective stripe on the back of the handset underneath the camera setup. The smartphones' design is very similar to the Mate 9, just with slightly slimmer bezels and refined details.

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South Park Fractured but Whole review: Emphasis on the “fractured”

Ars Technica - October 16, 2017 - 1:30pm

Enlarge / As a watchable piece of entertainment, The Fractured But Whole does pretty well. As a game, on the other hand... (credit: Ubisoft)

Three-and-a-half years have passed, and yet I still can't get over how good a video game South Park: The Stick of Truth turned out to be. Licensed games have improved a lot in recent years, but their quality is never guaranteed, and the South Park license had never been used to solid effect until that 2014 RPG came along. (A major legal-rights shuffling didn't help Stick of Truth's pre-release worries, either.)

In that game, Obsidian Entertainment and South Park Studios took roughly 15 years of South Park material (basically, everything after the Bigger, Longer, and Uncut film), then recapped and celebrated the series' best characters and most NSFW plotlines. More importantly, its power as a video game was used to incredible effect, whether by sending up RPG tropes and traditions or by making its interactive moments nearly as funny as its scripted ones.

That's quite the bottle of lightning, and there's no shame in the fact that its video game sequel, this week's The Fractured but Whole, doesn't recapture the same incredibly crude magic. But it's still sad how much the series' new developers at Ubisoft missed the mark here. This is by no means a bad video game—and effort was absolutely poured into making its RPG elements feel more substantial than last time—but the LEGO bricks of this game's combat, exploration, themes, and South Park-caliber script were all put in the wrong order.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Boffins suggest UK needs an 'AI council' but regulation is for squares

The Register - October 16, 2017 - 1:28pm
Industry-focused review instead recommends 'data trusts' to establish framework for the tech

Boffins have recommended the British government establishes a council to oversee and coordinate artificial intelligence across the private and public sectors.…

Huawei dunks server triplets in Skylake for a v5 refresh

The Register - October 16, 2017 - 12:58pm
Fifth version server threesome pops up

Huawei has refreshed three third generation modular rack server products from older Xeons to Skylake processors with a v5 refresh giving them updated networking and storage options.…

Remember how you said it was cool if your mobe network sold your name, number and location?

The Register - October 16, 2017 - 12:49pm
No? Well, never mind, because it's for your own protection

US mobile phone companies appear to be selling their customers' private data – including their full name, phone number, contract details, home zip code and current location to third parties – all in the name of security.…

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