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Updated: 26 min 46 sec ago

SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites On Thrice-Flown Rocket, Sticks Landing

2 hours 18 min ago
SpaceX's fifth Falcon 9 rocket of the year successfully launched from Cape Canaveral this evening, sending 60 internet-beaming satellites into space. Space.com reports: Following the successful launch, the rocket's first stage gently touched down on a floating platform at sea, marking the company's 40th booster recovery. It was the third flight for this particular booster, marking just the second time SpaceX has flown a Falcon 9 first stage more than twice. The third time was a charm for SpaceX as the Falcon 9 lifted off at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT on May 24) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here, following several delays: first a 24-hour delay due to high upper-level winds on May 15, and then a weeklong delay so SpaceX could give the onboard satellites a software software upgrade. Tucked inside the rocket's nose cone were 60 satellites -- the first batch of SpaceX's Starlink megaconstellation, which the company hopes will help provide affordable internet coverage to the world. Each of the Starlink satellites weighs 500 lbs. (227 kg). The 60-spacecraft haul is the heaviest payload that a Falcon 9 has yet hoisted to orbit, SpaceX representatives have said. The aerospace company plans to launch nearly 12,000 of these satellites in total, "which will park themselves in low-Earth orbit and beam internet coverage to the world below," the report says. "There will be two Starlink flocks: one constellation of 4,409 satellites and a second constellation of 7,518 satellites, according to an agreement with the FCC." The one caveat is that the FCC approvals require SpaceX to launch half of the planned satellites within the next six years.

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Synthesizer Pioneer Bob Moog Gets His Own 'Moogseum'

3 hours 56 min ago
harrymcc writes: In the 1960s, Bob Moog helped invent electronic music as we know it by popularizing the synthesizer. He died in 2005, but Moog synthesizers are still widely used by top musical acts. And now his life, work, and legacy are the subject of a new museum in Asheville, NC, his hometown. Over at Fast Company, Sean Captain took a look at the museum, Moog's accomplishments, and the history of music produced with his instruments -- from the classical blockbuster "Switched-On Bach" onwards.

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GitHub Launches Sponsors, Lets You Pay Your Favorite Open-Source Contributors

5 hours 16 min ago
GitHub today launched Sponsors, a new tool that lets you give financial support to open-source developers through recurring monthly payments. Developers will be able to opt into having a "Sponsor me" button on their GitHub repositories and open-source projects will also be able to highlight their funding models, no matter whether that's individual contributions to developers or using Patreon, Tidelift, Ko-fi or Open Collective. TechCrunch reports: The mission here, GitHub says, is to "expand the opportunities to participate in and build on open source." That's likely to be a bit controversial among some open-source developers who don't want financial interests to influence what people will work on. And there may be some truth to that as this may drive open-source developers to focus on projects that are more likely to attract financial contributions over more esoteric projects that are interesting and challenging but aren't likely to find financial backers on GitHub. The program is only open to open-source developers. During the first year of a developer's participation, GitHub (and by extension, its corporate overlords at Microsoft) will also match up to $5,000 in contributions. For the next 12 months, GitHub won't charge any payment processing fees either (though it will do so after this time is over). GitHub tells me that developers will be able to set up multiple sponsorship tiers with benefits that can be set by the developer, too. In many ways, then, this isn't all that different from sponsoring a Twitch streamer, for example, with monthly payments and special benefits depending on how much you pay.

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Senate Passes Bill Cracking Down On Robocalls

5 hours 56 min ago
The Senate on Thursday passed a bill that aims to crack down on unwanted robocalls. "The legislation would impose stiffer fines of as much as $10,000 per call on robocallers who knowingly flout the rules on calls and would increase the statute of limitations to three years, up from one year," reports CNN. "It also instructs the Federal Communications Commission to develop further regulations that could shield consumers from unwanted calls." From the report: The legislation would accelerate the rollout of so-called "call authentication" technologies the industry is currently developing, which could cut down on the number of calls coming from unverified numbers. Proponents say the new industry standards -- known as SHAKEN/STIR -- could increase phone users' confidence in their caller ID. The protocols are designed to authenticate callers who are using their rightful phone numbers and to eliminate calls from spammers who are using phone numbers they don't rightfully own. The legislation passed the Senate 97-1, with Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky casting the lone dissenting vote. The legislation must still pass the House and be signed by President Donald Trump. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged House lawmakers to vote on the bill immediately. The legislation's passage follows a move by the FCC last week to clarify that phone companies may legally block unwanted robocalls and can even apply the technologies to their customers' accounts by default. But lawmakers want the FCC to do more.

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Deepfakes Can Now Be Made From a Single Photo

6 hours 36 min ago
Samsung has developed a new artificial intelligence system for creating deepfakes -- fabricated clips that make people appear to do or say things they never did -- that only needs as little as one photo. CNET reports: The technology, of course, can be used for fun, like bringing a classic portrait to life. The Mona Lisa, whose enigmatic smile is animated in three different videos to demonstrate the new technology, exists solely as a single still image. A Samsung artificial intelligence lab in Russia developed the technology, which was detailed in a paper earlier this week. Here's the downside: These kinds of techniques and their rapid development also create risks of misinformation, election tampering and fraud, according to Hany Farid, a Dartmouth researcher who specializes in media forensics to root out deepfakes. The system starts with a lengthy "meta-learning stage" in which it watches lots of videos to learn how human faces move. It then applies what it's learned to a single still or a small handful of pics to produce a reasonably realistic video clip. Unlike a true deepfake video, the results from a single or small number of images fudge when reproducing fine details. For example, a fake of Marilyn Monroe in the Samsung lab's demo video missed the icon's famous mole, according to Siwei Lyu, a computer science professor at the University at Albany in New York who specializes in media forensics and machine learning. It also means the synthesized videos tend to retain some semblance of whoever played the role of the digital puppet. That's why each of the moving Mona Lisa faces looks like a slightly different person. [...] The glitches in the fake videos made with Samsung's new approach may be clear and obvious. But they'll be cold comfort to anybody who ends up in a deepfake generated from that one smiling photo posted to Facebook.

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5G Could Mean Less Time To Flee a Deadly Hurricane, Heads of NASA and NOAA Warn

7 hours 16 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: As reported by The Washington Post and CNET, the heads of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warn [5G wireless networks] could set back the world's weather forecasting abilities by 40 years -- reducing our ability to predict the path of deadly hurricanes and the amount of time available to evacuate. It's because one of the key wireless frequencies earmarked for speedy 5G millimeter wave networks -- the 24 GHz band -- happens to be very close to the frequencies used by microwave satellites to observe water vapor and detect those changes in the weather. They have the potential to interfere. And according to NASA and NOAA testimony, they could interfere to the point that it delays preparation for extreme weather events. Last week, acting NOAA head Dr. Neil Jacobs told the House Subcommittee on the Environment that based on the current 5G rollout plan, our satellites would lose approximately 77 percent of the data they're currently collecting, reducing our forecast ability by as much as 30 percent. "If you looked back in time to see when our forecast skill was 30 percent less than today, it's somewhere around 1980. This would result in the reduction of hurricane track forecast lead time by roughly 2 to 3 days," he said. If we hadn't had that data, Jacobs added, we wouldn't have been able to predict that the deadly Hurricane Sandy would hit. A European study showed that with 77 percent less data, the model would have predicted the storm staying out at sea instead of making landfall. Jacobs said later that we currently have no other technologies to passively observe water vapor and make these more accurate predictions. On April 19th, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine made similar comments to the House Science Committee. "That part of the electromagnetic spectrum is necessary to make predictions as to where a hurricane is going to make landfall," he told the committee. "If you can't make that prediction accurately, then you end up not evacuating the right people and/or you evacuate people that don't need to evacuate, which is a problem."

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Panasonic 'Suspends Transactions' With Huawei After US Ban

7 hours 56 min ago
Japan's Panasonic has said it is scrutinizing whether any of its products break U.S. restrictions on trading with Huawei. "Panasonic announced in [an] internal notification that it should suspend transactions with Huawei and its 68 affiliates that were banned by the U.S. government," the company said in a statement provided to the BBC. From the report: Panasonic caused confusion earlier by appearing to announce that it had suspended business with Huawei. But it later said that business operations that were not in breach of U.S. regulations would continue to trade normally with Huawei. "Panasonic will continue to strictly abide by the laws and regulations of the countries and regions in which we conduct business," it said.

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Elon Musk's Boring Company Wins Contract To Build Las Vegas Tunnel

8 hours 36 min ago
Elon Musk's Boring Company now has a paying customer. "Late Wednesday, the board of directors of the Las Vegas Conventions and Visitors Authority voted to grant a $48,675,000 contract to the Boring Company to build a 0.83-mile, three-station version of the company's Loop mass-transit system inside of Vegas' sprawling, revamped convention center, which is currently under construction," reports Wired. From the report: As previously outlined by BoCo, the Loop system is made up of 8- to 16-passenger battery-powered autonomous electric vehicles, built to shoot people from station to station at speeds of up to 150 mph. This Las Vegas system is slated to transport at least 4,400 passengers per hour between the center's new exhibit and south halls, about a 20-minute walk by foot. The Boring Company has also pledged to build an escalator or elevator system for each of the three stations, pedestrian entrances and exits, tunnel lighting, power and video surveillance systems, a control room, and cell phone, Wi-Fi, intercom, and ventilation systems. The convention center hopes to time the opening of the Loop with the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was the only board member to vote against granting the Boring Company its bid. During the bidding process, Goodman had asked fellow board members to consider a more expensive proposal from another company, Doppelmayr. "Doppelmayr has been in existence for 125 years," Goodman wrote in a letter, according to the Las Vegas Sun. "They already have projects here that are operating successfully. The Boring Co. is 3 years old and has yet to deliver a final package on anything." Goodman's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Comcast Does So Much Lobbying That It Says Disclosing It All Is Too Hard

9 hours 16 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast may be harming its reputation by failing to reveal all of its lobbying activities, including its involvement in trade associations and lobbying at the state level, a group of shareholders says in a proposal that asks for more lobbying disclosures. Comcast's disclosures for its lobbying of state governments "are often cursory or non-existent," and Comcast's failure to disclose its involvement in trade associations means that "investors have neither an accurate picture of the company's total lobbying expenditures nor an understanding of its priorities, interests, or potential risks from memberships," the proposal said. "Comcast's lack of transparency around its lobbying poses risks to its already troubled reputation, which is concerning in a highly regulated industry, especially given the rise of public Internet alternatives." The proposal is on the ballot for Comcast's June 5 annual shareholder meeting and was filed by Friends Fiduciary, which "invest[s] based on Quaker values" and says it "actively screen[s] companies for social responsibility." Friends Fiduciary and other investors who joined the proposal collectively hold "over 1 million shares of Comcast stock," they said. The shareholder resolution would be non-binding even if it passed. It asks for an annual report disclosing, among other things, "Payments by Comcast used for (a) direct or indirect lobbying or (b) grassroots lobbying communications" and information on "Comcast's membership in and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation." Comcast's board unanimously recommended that shareholders vote against the Friends Fiduciary resolution, saying that Comcast "already disclose[s] most of our government lobbying interactions" as required by law. "[O]ur Board believes that the requirements in this proposal are burdensome and an unproductive use of our resources and are not in the best interests of our shareholders," Comcast said in a rebuttal included in its proxy statement.

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Facebook Removed 2.2 Billion Fake Accounts This Year

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 23:30
Facebook released its community standards enforcement report Thursday morning, offering a much more in-depth look at the inner workings of the company than previously seen. From a report: One of the most surprising insights came from Facebook's removal of fake accounts. The company said it removed 2.2 billion accounts in the first quarter of the 2019. That's a jump of nearly double compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 when 1.2 billion accounts were removed. That number seems astronomical, especially when considering that Facebook says it has 2.38 billion monthly active users overall. The reason that the social network can boast nearly as many removals as it has active users is that it typically finds and removes bogus accounts within minutes of them signing up. As a result, Facebook estimates that only 5% of its monthly active users are fake.

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Mark Zuckerberg Dismisses Calls To Break Up Facebook

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 22:50
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday rebuffed calls for the company to be broken up over competition concerns, disputing claims the firm has grown too dominant. From a report: During a call with reporters, Zuckerberg was pressed to address recent calls from Democratic officials and one Facebook co-founder for federal regulators to force the company to spin off WhatsApp and Instagram, previously acquired in two blockbuster deals. "I think it kind of almost goes without saying that we exist in a very competitive and dynamic environment where new services are constantly coming up," Zuckerberg said. He later disputed arguments that the company has grown too dominant as an advertising player as "a little stretched," noting the company controls just around a fifth of the global digital ad market. "I don't really think that the remedy of breaking up the company is going to address those," he said. "I actually think it's going to make it a lot harder." Further reading: Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg: Chinese Tech Companies Are Also Powerful, and Will Not Be Broken Up.

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Julian Assange Charged in 18-Count Indictment For WikiLeaks Disclosures

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 22:19
Julian Assange was charged Thursday in an 18-count superseding indictment for his role in orchestrating the 2010 WikiLeaks disclosures, described by the U.S. government as "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States." From a report: According to the Justice Department, the new charges from a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia allege that "Assange's actions risked serious harm to United States national security to the benefit of our adversaries." According to the DOJ announcement, Assange faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each charge with the exception of one charge related to conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. Assange was previously indicted in April on a single-count conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge for his role in Chelsea Manning's disclosure of classified materials made public by WikiLeaks in 2010, which the government has called "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States."

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Snapchat Employees Abused Data Access To Spy on Users

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 21:53
Several departments inside social media giant Snap have dedicated tools for accessing user data, and multiple employees have abused their privileged access to spy on Snapchat users, Motherboard reported on Thursday. From the report: Two former employees said multiple Snap employees abused their access to Snapchat user data several years ago. Those sources, as well as an additional two former employees, a current employee, and a cache of internal company emails obtained by Motherboard, described internal tools that allowed Snap employees at the time to access user data, including in some cases location information, their own saved Snaps and personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses. Snaps are photos or videos that, if not saved, typically disappear after being received (or after 24 hours if posted to a user's Story). [...] Although Snap has introduced strict access controls to user data and takes abuse and user privacy very seriously according to several sources, the news highlights something that many users may forget: behind the products we use everyday there are people with access to highly sensitive customer data, who need it to perform essential work on the service. But, without proper protections in place, those same people may abuse it to spy on user's private information or profiles.

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Many Google Duplex Calls Are From Real People Instead of AI

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 21:30
Google's Duplex reservations might be more widely available, but that doesn't mean the AI is ready to handle every call. From a report: The company has confirmed to the New York Times that about 25 percent of the Assistant-based calls start with a human in a call center, while 15 percent require human intervention. In the newspaper's tests, the ratio was higher -- real people completed three out of four of their successful bookings. There are multiple reasons for relying on the human touch. In one case, Duplex didn't appear to pick up the cues that reservations were available. It may also need training on more real-world calls before it can handle every situation. More importantly, the company argued that it was taking a cautious approach. It wants to treat businesses with respect, and that means gradually transitioning to the AI as it becomes better-suited to dealing with staff.

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Redditor Allowed To Stay Anonymous, Court Rules

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 20:50
Online free speech has been given a victory, with a federal court ruling that a Redditor can remain anonymous in a copyright lawsuit. From a report: This means anyone from around the globe who posts on Reddit can still rely on First Amendment protections for anonymous free speech, because Reddit is a US platform with a US audience. The Electronic Frontier Foundation fought on behalf of Reddit commenter Darkspilver, a Jehovah's Witness who posted public and internal documents from The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society online. Watch Tower subpoenaed Reddit to provide identity information on Darkspilver for the court case, but the EFF filed a motion to quash this, citing "deep concerns that disclosure of their identity would cause them to be disfellowshipped by their community." In February 2019, Darkspilver posted an advertisement by the Jehovah's Witness organization that asks for donations, as well as a chart showing what personal data the organization keeps. Watch Tower said both of these were copyrighted items. The Redditor argued it was fair use, because he posted the ad for commentary and criticism purposes.

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Antergos Linux Has Been Discontinued

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 20:13
Suren Enfiajyan writes: An Arch Linux based distribution, Antergos, has been discontinued. The project's primary goal was to make Arch Linux available to a wider audience of users by providing a streamlined, user friendly experience including a safe place for users to communicate, learn, and help one another. There have been 931,439 unique downloads of Antergos Linux since 2014. The primary reason for ending support for it was that the developers no longer have enough free time to properly maintain the distribution. They came to this decision because they believe that continuing to neglect the project would be a huge disservice to the community. Taking this action now, while the project's code still works, provides an opportunity for interested developers to take what they find useful and start their own projects. For existing Antergos users: there is no need to worry about installed systems as they will continue to receive updates directly from Arch. Soon, an update will be released that will remove the Antergos repos from system along with any Antergos-specific packages that no longer serve a purpose due to the project ending. Once that is completed, any packages installed from the Antergos repo that are in the AUR will begin to receive updates from there. The Antergos Forum and Wiki will continue to be available until such time it becomes clear that users have moved on to other projects.

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Wikipedia To Fight Turkey Ban in European Human Rights Court

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 19:38
Wikmedia, the foundation that runs Wikipedia said Thursday it had filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights to lift Turkey's two-year block on the online encyclopedia. From a report: Wikipedia said the ban violates fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under the European Convention. The application, which was announced today during a press call, comes after Wikipedia's "continued and exhaustive" attempts to overturn the ban in Turkish courts failed to bear fruit. "Wikipedia is a global resource that everyone can be actively part of shaping," said Katherine Maher, Wikimedia executive director. "It is through this collective process of writing and rewriting and debate that Wikipedia becomes more useful, more comprehensive, and more representative. It is also through this process that we, a global society, establish a more comprehensive consensus on how we see the world." Turkey rolled out a blanket ban on Wikipedia citing national security concerns, in a move that has been widely condemned as a crackdown on free speech.

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Rotten Tomatoes Tackles Review Bombing By Requiring Users To Verify Ticket Purchase Before Rating a Film

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 18:50
More changes are coming to review site Rotten Tomatoes. As of Thursday, the audience score for new movies added to the site will default to show ratings from fans confirmed to have purchased tickets to those films. From a report: "The goal is to strengthen consumer confidence around that audience score," said Greg Ferris, vice president of product for Rotten Tomatoes' parent company, Fandango. Here's how it'll work: Any site user will still be able to write a review of a film. But now users can opt to have their rating and review marked as "verified." That means they bought their film ticket on Fandango, the movie-ticketing site that owns Rotten Tomatoes. Later this year, AMC Theatres and Regal and Cinemark ticketing sites will also be participating. So if you buy your ticket for Aladdin at the box office, for example, sorry, but you can't get verified for that review. (At least for now: Dana Benson, Fandango vice president for communications, says that the site is "exploring options" for ways to verify box office purchases.) Reviews associated with a ticket purchase will be marked with a "verified" icon. By default, the verified reviews will be used to make up the audience score shown on Rotten Tomatoes. To see the total audience score, including reviews by those who didn't purchase through Fandango or didn't opt in to the verification, users can select the "all audience" tab. "Every rating counts, but the score that we're putting out there is verified," Ferris said. The Rotten Tomatoes site will automatically verify that a ticket was purchased and that the time for that movie showing has already passed. For now, only one verified review will be allowed per transaction, no matter how many tickets were purchased.

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Walmart Debuts Three Sub-$100 Tablets With Google Services

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 18:10
Walmart is rolling out three Android-powered tablets this week, all priced under $100. From a report: The devices, under Walmart's Onn store brand, include an 8-inch version for $64, a 10.1-inch model for $79 and one at the same larger size with a detachable keyboard for $99, the retailer said in an email Monday. All have Google's Android operating system, 16 gigabytes of storage and promise 5.5 hours of use before a charge is needed. The new gadgets are part of Walmart's broader push to revitalize its electronics section and, if successful, could provide a jolt to the sluggish tablet market, which declined in 2018, according to data tracker Strategy Analytics.

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Amazon Preparing a Wearable That 'Reads Human Emotions', Says Report

Thu, 23/05/2019 - 17:30
Amazon is said to be working on a wrist-worn, voice-activated device that's supposed to be able to read human emotions. This would be a rather novel health gadget, of the sort we're more used to seeing in tenuous crowdfunding campaigns instead of from one of the world's biggest tech companies. From a report: Bloomberg has spoken to a source and reviewed internal Amazon documents, which reportedly show the Alexa voice software team and Amazon's Lab126 hardware division are collaborating on the wearable in development. The device, working in sync with a smartphone app, is said to have microphones that can "discern the wearer's emotional state from the sound of his or her voice." In a mildly dystopian twist, Bloomberg adds that "eventually the technology could be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others."

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