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Industry & Technology

Facebook and YouTube moderators sign PTSD disclosure

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 33 min ago
Content moderators review hundreds of disturbing images each day for social media sites.

Watch Dogs Legion: Click goes inside the post-Brexit game

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 26 min ago
In a world first, Marc Cieslak interviews the creator of Watch Dogs: Legion inside his own game.

After 3000 years, we can hear the “voice” of a mummified Egyptian priest

Ars Technica - 4 hours 58 min ago

Enlarge / The mummy of Nesyamun, a priest who lived in Thebes about 3,000 years ago, is ready for his CT scan. (credit: Leeds Teaching Hospitals/Leeds Museums and Galleries)

Around 1100 BC, during the reign of Ramses XI, an Egyptian scribe and priest named Nesyamun spent his life singing and chanting during liturgies at the Karnak temple in Thebes. As was the custom in those times, upon death, Nesyamun was mummified and sealed in a coffin, with the inscription "Nesyamun, True of Voice (maat kheru)." His mummy has become one of the most well-studied artifacts over the last 200 years. We know he suffered from gum disease, for instance, and may have died in his 50s from some kind of allergic reaction. The coffin inscription also expressed a desire that Nesyamun's soul would be able to speak to his gods from the afterlife.

And now, Nesyamun is getting his dearest wish. A team of scientists has reproduced the "sound" of the Egyptian priest's voice by creating a 3D-printed version of his vocal tract and and connecting it to a loudspeaker. The researchers revealed all the gory details behind their project in a new paper in Scientific Reports.

"He had a desire that his voice would be everlasting," co-author David Howard of Royal Holloway University of London told IEEE Spectrum. "In a sense, you could argue we've heeded that call, which is a slightly strange thing, but there we are."

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Apple introduces its large-scale gym partnership program, Apple Watch Connected

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 11:25pm

Enlarge / The Apple Watch Series 5. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

According to a report from CNBC, Apple this week introduced "Apple Watch Connected," an initiative that sees the Cupertino company partnering with major gym chains to bring Apple Watch-related technologies and benefits to members of those gyms. Benefits include workout machines that play nice with the Watch, rewards programs based on workout data collected by the Watch, and special deals on products and services.

The first gyms to participate include Orange Theory, Crunch Fitness, YMCA, and Basecamp Fitness, but more may be added later. Apple doesn't require gyms to pay anything directly to the company to participate, though complying with all the requirements might produce additional expenses for said gyms.

Participating gyms must offer an app for either the iPhone or the Watch that allows members to track their fitness progress or activity, they must accept mobile payments via the tech company's Apple Pay system, and they have to offer some kind of rewards to members for achieving specific goals using the Watch. Additionally, gyms that make use of certain types of fitness equipment must use fitness that supports Apple's GymKit API for tracking workouts. Some gyms, like Orange Theory, are not focused on self-directed workout with machines and thus have slightly different requirements to meet with regards to GymKit, though.

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Star Trek: Picard frontloads fanservice so it can get on with going boldly

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 9:50pm

Enlarge / The character Picard's first impulse is to be comforting and safe. The show Picard's first impulse is to slowly tear down the sense of comfort and safety the audience starts with. (credit: CBS)

The first Romulan you meet in Star Trek: Picard speaks with a soft Gaelic accent and wears a comfortable, practical cardigan. She is the very model of a classic cozy housekeeper, an archetype made instantly recognizable by her bearing and manner, and yet in the same breath she's utterly foreign and unexpected.

This marriage of familiar with unfamiliar—this attempt to take what you know but then tilt it to one side and jiggle it around a bit to throw you off-balance—is as good a metaphor as any for what Picard seems to be doing. This is not the comfortable, well-worn world of Star Trek I was born and raised in and am now sharing with my own child. This is something different, and based on the first episode at least, I badly want to follow this path and see where it leads.

(Mild spoilers for the first episode of Picard, "Remembrance," follow below.)

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

This amazing glitch puts Star Fox 64 ships in an unmodified Zelda cartridge

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 8:50pm

In my years writing about games for Ars, I've covered my fair share of surprising glitches, long-secret codes, arbitrary code execution tricks, and deeply hidden content buried within some classic games and hardware. But none of that prepared me for the above Twitch video clip I saw this morning, showing a fleet of flying Arwings from Star Fox 64 invading the world of Ocarina of Time to attack Link.

It's the kind of scene you'd expect to see only in a fan-made animation or in a ROM hack of the type Nintendo is so fond of taking down from the Internet. But what made this clip truly impressive was the fact that it was apparently running on an unmodified version of the original Japanese Ocarina of Time ROM, using standard N64 hardware and control accessories.

I spent all morning tracking down how such a thing was even possible. Explaining it involves a deep dive into the nature of Nintendo 64 machine language instructions, Ocarina of Time memory management, and the mid-'90s development of the game itself. If you're as curious about all this as I was, come and take a journey with me.

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China locks down 35M people as US confirms second coronavirus case

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 7:30pm

Enlarge / SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 24: Disinfection workers wearing protective gear spray anti-septic solution in a train terminal amid rising public concerns over the spread of China's Wuhan Coronavirus at SRT train station on January 24, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. (credit: Getty | Chung Sung-Jun)

An outbreak of a never-before-seen coronavirus continued to dramatically escalate in China this week, with case counts reaching into the 800s and 26 deaths reported by Chinese health officials.

To try to curb the spread of disease, China has issued travel restrictions in the central city of Wuhan, where the outbreak erupted late last month, as well as many nearby cities, including Huanggang, Ezhou, Zhijiang, and Chibi. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, and train, bus, and subway services have been suspended. Collectively, the travel restrictions and frozen public transportation have now locked down an estimated 35 million residents in the region.

So far, all of the outbreak-related deaths and nearly all of the cases have been in China, but the viral illness has appeared in travelers in several other countries. That includes Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and the US.

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Goop’s Netflix series: It’s so much worse than I expected and I can’t unsee it

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 7:27pm

Enlarge / This is the exact moment in the goop lab's third episode in which Gwyneth Paltrow admits she doesn't know the difference between a vagina and a vulva. She's making a hand gesture to say what she thought the "vagina" was. (credit: Netflix)

With the goop lab hitting Netflix today, January 24th, we've resurfaced this review (originally published January 17th). And as we originally said, this review contains detailed information about the Netflix series with Gwyneth Paltrow. If you plan to watch the show (please, don't) and do not wish to know details in advance, this is not the review for you. Normally, we would refer to such information as "spoilers," but in our editorial opinion, nothing in this series is spoil-able.

In the third episode of Goop's Netflix series, a female guest remarks that we women are seen as "very dangerous when we're knowledgeable." [Ep. 3, 33:35]

"Tell me about it," Gwyneth Paltrow knowingly replies amid "mm-hmms"—as if she has a first-hand understanding of this.

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Met Police to deploy facial recognition cameras

BBC Technology News - January 24, 2020 - 6:55pm
Police say the short-term deployments will check watchlists of suspects wanted for serious crimes.

Google I/O 2020 set for May 12-14 at Shoreline Amphitheater

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 6:31pm

The Shoreline Amphitheater, the home of Google I/O. It's right in Google's backyard. (credit: Shoreline Amphitheatre)

The dates are set for Google I/O 2020—Google's biggest show of the year will take place on May 12-14. As usual, the show is at the Shoreline Amphitheater, an outdoor venue located right next to Google's Mountain View headquarters. Google announced the date through a cryptic command-line-driven space game at There is also this tweet:

Cosmos aligned. We'll be back at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View for this year's #GoogleIO on May 12-14!

— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) January 24, 2020

Last year's Google I/O was one of the more eventful entries in recent memory, as it saw the return of the Google hardware launch. Google started targeting the midrange smartphone market by debuting the cheaper Pixel 3a at the show, and it launched a bigger smart display, the Google Nest Hub Max. Android saw the release of Android (10) Q Beta 3, a revamped gesture navigation system, and disclosure of the "Project Mainline" update system. Alongside the Nest Hub, there was also major upheaval in how Nest operates. Nest stopped being a standalone company and merged with Google in February 2018, but at Google I/O 2019, we started to see the reality of this change: Nest became a sub-brand of Google, and the "Works with Nest" smart home platform got a shutdown date.

For 2020, there's a good chance we'll see the launch of the Pixel 4a, which has already hit the rumor mill. The phone seems to throw out most of the oddities of the Pixel 4 in favor of a thin bezel. It would be a no-nonsense smartphone with a front hole punch display, a headphone jack, and a rear fingerprint reader. If Google sticks to the typical Android schedule, we should see the next beta version, Android 11 R, debut in March, with a second beta in April and a third beta in time for I/O. You might think a third beta would be uneventful, but last year Google withheld a lot of features to show off on the big stage at I/O.

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Article 13: UK will not implement EU copyright law

BBC Technology News - January 24, 2020 - 5:59pm
Media giants such as Google have been outspoken opponents of the legislation.

Why can’t I remember? Model may show how recall can fail

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 5:55pm

Enlarge (credit: Serdar Acar / EyeEm)

Physicists can create serious mathematical models of stuff that is very far from physics—stuff like biology or the human brain. These models are hilarious, but I'm still a sucker for them because of the hope they provide: maybe a simple mathematical model can explain the sexual choices of the disinterested panda? (And, yes, I know there is an XKCD about this very topic). So a bunch of physicists who claimed to have found a fundamental law of memory recall was catnip to me.

To get an idea of how interesting their work is, it helps to understand the unwritten rules of “simple models for biology.” First, the model should be general enough that the predictions are vague and unsatisfying. Second, if you must compare with experimental data, do it on a logarithmic scale so that huge differences between theory and experiment at least look tiny. Third, if possible, make the mathematical model so abstract that it loses all connection to the actual biology.

By breaking all of these rules, a group of physicists has come up with a model for recall that seems to work. The model is based on a concrete idea of how recall works, and, with pretty much no fine-tuning whatsoever, it provides a pretty good prediction for how well people will recall items from a list.

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Sonos sunsets several smart speakers’ software support, spurring storm [Updated]

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 3:44pm

Enlarge / The Sonos Connect:Amp in what is soon to be its natural setting: a room filled with old stuff that may or may not work. (credit: Sonos)

Update: Sonos CEO Patrick Spence published an open letter to Sonos customers Wednesday, apologizing for the way his company handled the announcement. Spence pledged to keep legacy products "updated with bug fixes and security patches for as long as possible," although they still will not receive new software updates, and Spence reiterated the company's commitment to creating a workaround to separate legacy products onto a secondary network and allow users to use legacy products and "modern" Sonos equipment in the same home.

"Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. I hope that you’ll forgive our misstep and let us earn back your trust," Spence added.

Original post:

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'Porn block' companies seek £3m in damages

BBC Technology News - January 24, 2020 - 2:04pm
Four companies are seeking a judicial review of the decision to scrap age verification plans.

Samsung Galaxy Fold review: The future is an ugly disappointment

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 1:30pm

The Galaxy Fold was supposed to be The Future™. Samsung, the world's leading display manufacturer, invested six years and $130 million to birth its ultimate creation: the flexible OLED display. And with the holy grail of display technology under its belt, Samsung would revolutionize the smartphone industry by introducing the "foldable" smartphone—a device that would be a portable, pocketable smartphone when closed and a multi-pane, multi-tasking, big-screen tablet when open. Samsung might have started the modern smartphone era as "that company that just copies Apple," but after surviving a thousand lawsuits, ushering in the big-screen smartphone, and eventually surpassing Apple in sales, Samsung would finally, indisputably plant its flag atop the smartphone market with the Galaxy Fold, a device that would redefine the modern smartphone.

At least, that was the plan. Things have not gone to plan.

Catastrophe struck, allegedly during the development of the Galaxy Fold. At the end of 2018, Samsung said the foldable display technology it spent so much time and money to develop was stolen by a supplier and sold to two Chinese companies for $14 million. All of Samsung's R&D work was supposed to give it a sizable head start in foldable smartphones, but that technological lead was suddenly evaporating.

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Rocket Report: It takes three years to build an SLS? Long March 5B coming

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 1:00pm

Enlarge / The Electron launch vehicle is ready to soar. (credit: Rocket Lab)

Welcome to Edition 2.29 of the Rocket Report! This week saw SpaceX complete a critical in-flight abort test that clears a major hurdle for the company as it seeks to launch astronauts into orbit this year. We also have not one, but two stories about launch companies in New Zealand. Way to go, Kiwis!

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

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Librem 5 phone hands-on—Open source phone shows the cost of being different

Ars Technica - January 24, 2020 - 12:45pm

It is hard to do something truly different in the smartphone industry. Companies, especially smaller companies, are all working from the same parts bin with the same manufacturing partners. You take your Qualcomm SoC, your Samsung display, and your Sony camera sensor—and you take a flight to China and visit Foxconn, which, in addition to manufacturing, will even do engineering for you if you want. Smartphones are so samey because they have an established, for-hire supply chain that has a certain way of doing things, and it's much cheaper, faster, and easier if you just "go with the flow" and do what everyone else is doing.

Big companies like Samsung and Apple have enough money, control, and connections to move the supply chain in whatever direction they want. In terms of smaller companies, though, there is a single one trying to blaze its own path: Purism, the maker of open source Linux laptops, is building the Librem 5 smartphone. Not only is the OS open source and based on GNU/Linux—not Android—the hardware is open source, too. The core components have open source firmware, and there are even public hardware schematics. This is as close as you're going to get to a totally open source smartphone.

If you haven't noticed, open source smartphone hardware is not a thing that existed before now. There have been phones that run open source builds of Android, but those are full of closed-source firmware from non-open components. The usual hardware companies cautiously guard their hardware designs and drivers, and Purism's hardline stance on open source has ruled out almost the entire established smartphone supply chain. As the company writes in a blog post, "When we first approached hardware manufacturers almost two years ago with this project most of them instantly said 'No, sorry, impossible, we can not help you'." Others warned us, that it could never work, that it was too complicated, 'the industry does not do that,' and so forth."

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Facebook's Sir Nick Clegg criticised over WhatsApp security

BBC Technology News - January 24, 2020 - 12:33pm
Sir Nick Clegg did not acknowledge WhatsApp security flaws in a BBC interview.

Could feathers inspire plane wing design and other news

BBC Technology News - January 24, 2020 - 9:43am
BBC Click's Paul Carter looks at some of the week's best technology stories.

Tinder to add panic button and anti-catfishing tech

BBC Technology News - January 24, 2020 - 5:52am
The move comes after criticism over the lack of safety features offered by dating apps.

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