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The people with voices that tech needs to recognise

BBC Technology News - November 20, 2019 - 10:07pm
Project Understood aims to improve voice recognition software for users with Down's syndrome.

Huawei: US grants more exemptions to Chinese phone ban

BBC Technology News - November 20, 2019 - 9:27pm
The ban meant that Huawei's latest smartphones launched without many of the typical apps.

EverQuest lead producer and designer Brad McQuaid has passed away

Ars Technica - November 20, 2019 - 9:25pm

Enlarge / The original promotional art for EverQuest. (credit: Daybreak Games)

Brad McQuaid, the lead developer for the groundbreaking massively multiplayer online (MMO) game EverQuest, has died, according to an update from his development team. He was 51.

Details about the circumstances of his death have not been shared publicly, other than a mention that he passed away in his home. The Twitter account for Pantheon, McQuaid's project at the time of his death, and Visionary Realms, the company behind it, tweeted out the following announcement:

It is with deep regret we share that Brad McQuaid passed away last night. He will be deeply missed and forever remembered by gamers worldwide.

Thank you for bringing us together through your worlds. Rest in peace @Aradune.

VR offers our deepest condolences to Brad’s family.

McQuaid worked as a game programmer and designer starting back in the late 1980s, but he is most well-known for his role as lead programmer, producer, and designer (at various times) on EverQuest, the 1999 massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that defined the genre to this day. EQ, which adapted the DikuMUD formula from text games for a 3D persistent graphical virtual world, was a breakthrough moment for MMORPGs. Its success codified that model for the genre as other, different ideas of what MMORPGs might look like (such as those posited by Meridian 59Underlight, or Ultima Online) largely faded into memory.

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Nikki Haley lost her password, so she sent confidential info over unclassified system

Ars Technica - November 20, 2019 - 8:41pm

Enlarge / Ambassador Nikki Haley listens at the United Nations. (credit: United States Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers / Flickr)

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley sent confidential material over a network reserved only for unclassified material because she forgot her password for classified communications, The Daily Beast reported.

The event happened on July 4 and July 5, 2017, after North Korea had tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting Alaska. As she and her staff scrambled to draft a statement responding to the test, Haley reportedly used her BlackBerry 10 to trade comments over the OpenNet, a State Department network for communicating sensitive, but not classified, information.

“Can’t find my password,” she wrote on July 5. Other messages instructed staff to make changes to the preliminary statement versions they had drafted.

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Disney+ Fans Without Answers After Thousands Hacked

Slashdot - November 20, 2019 - 7:15pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

England boss Gareth Southgate reveals high-tech tips

BBC Technology News - November 20, 2019 - 7:10pm
Gareth Southgate says analysis of data has changed how his team trains - including for penalties.

New antibiotic found in bacteria inside a worm inside an insect egg

Ars Technica - November 20, 2019 - 7:00pm

Enlarge (credit: BSIP/Universal Images Group)

The last antibiotics generated against Gram-negative bacteria—which tend to be the more dangerous type—were developed in the 1960s. Thanks to the rise of antibiotic resistance, we need more. But rather than going through the trouble of trying to make our own, scientists have looked to other species that might need to kill the same bacteria that we do—we can just swipe theirs. Our own guts and soil bacteria have yielded a few recent hits.

The latest organisms that researchers have looked to are bacteria in the microbiomes of roundworms that parasitize insects (technically termed enteropathogenic nematodes). They were considered promising candidates because the worms invade insect larvae and release bacteria. Those bacteria then have to fend off the ones already living in the insect larva, as well as all the other bacteria the nematodes just spewed out. Conveniently for us, those species include common pathogens in our own guts, like E. coli

Usually, when microorganisms are being screened to see if they make effective antibiotics, they are grown on a plate along with the pathogenic bacteria to see if the ones being screened thwart the growth of the ones being targeted. The species taken from the nematodes’ guts did not stop the growth of E. coli in this traditional assay. But the scientists speculated that maybe they still made antibiotics, just not at high enough levels.

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Google Earth gets content creation tools for geography-focused presentations

Ars Technica - November 20, 2019 - 6:21pm

Enlarge / A Google Earth presentation in action. (credit: Google)

Google Earth is getting a new content creation feature set. You'll now be able to make presentations using Google's vast 3D Earth imagery and point-of-interest information. It's sort of like a geography-focused Powerpoint.

Back in 2017, Google Earth was completely rebuilt from a desktop application to a WebGL-based browser app at earth.google.com/web. Starting today, on the left side of the website, you'll see a new "Projects" button, which will let you create a presentation. Just like a Google Doc or Sheet or Slide, these Google Earth Projects get saved as files on your Google Drive.

And like a normal presentation, you can create slides and attach text, images, and videos. Since this is Google Earth, though, all the text and images get overlaid on top of Google's terabytes of Earth imagery. You can pick from Google Earth's 3D views or Street View, set the camera just right, and capture a view. As you click through slides in your presentation, Google Earth will smoothly fly from point to point as your slides pop up.

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Did Neanderthals make eagle talon necklaces 120,000 years ago?

Ars Technica - November 20, 2019 - 5:20pm

Enlarge (credit: José Antonio Lagier Martin)

At Foradada Cave in northeast Spain, Neanderthal fossils lie mingled with stone tools and animal bones. Here, archaeologists recently unearthed the tip of a 39,000-year-old eagle toe with its claw missing. The phalanx (toe bone) came from the end of a Spanish imperial eagle’s big toe (the left one, to be exact), and cut marks along the length of the bone suggest that someone had cut off the large, curved talon at the end of the toe.

Archaeologist Antonio Rodriguez, of the Institute of Evolution in Africa, and his colleagues suggest that the missing talon ended up on a Neanderthal necklace.

The case of the missing jewelry

Along the top side of the toe (a proximal phalanx, if you’re an anatomy fan), 11 deep cut marks run diagonally across the bone; a shallower twelfth cut crosses the others, parallel with the bone’s length. Under the microscope, the cuts have v-shaped cross-sections, leaning to one side—the signature shape of tool-made cuts rather than predator teeth or damage from scraping against rocks or other bone. In fact, the cuts look almost exactly like the marks archaeologists left behind when they used stone tools to separate a raptor’s claw from its toe (because of course they did, for science).

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Iran's internet blackout reaches four-day mark

BBC Technology News - November 20, 2019 - 4:28pm
Almost all internet connectivity in the country has been switched off since Saturday.

Researchers see spike in “out of season” IRS-impersonating phishing attacks

Ars Technica - November 20, 2019 - 4:22pm

Enlarge / A fake IRS site used in a set of phishing campaigns observed by Akamai from August to October. (credit: Akamai)

Tax return scammers usually strike early in the year, when they can turn the personal information of victims into fraudulent tax refund claims. But members of Akamai's threat research team found a recent surge in "off-season" phishing attacks masquerading as notices from the Internal Revenue Service, targeting over 100,000 individuals. The attackers used at least 289 different domains hosting fake IRS websites—the majority of them legitimate sites that had been compromised. This wave of attacks came as the October 15 deadline for people who had filed for extensions approached.

According to a post by Akamai's Or Katz, the phishing campaigns kicked off in the second half of August, with the majority of victims targeted between August 22 and September 5. But the campaigns continued to be launched into early October. Each of the fake websites used visually identical HTML pages, with randomly generated style tags and other content, in an attempt to throw off signature detection by security software.

Most of the domains were active for fewer than 20 days. However, a significant number of them remained active after a month—undetected by the owners of the sites. "The lack of maintenance on legacy websites, as well as the challenges of patching and removing injected content, explains the duration over which phishing pages can remain active," Katz wrote.

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