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29 Sep 20:18

Mathematician tries to predict the next two 'Game of Thrones' books

by Sean Buckley
Tired of waiting for George R. R. Martin to finish the next book in the Song of Ice and Fire series? So is the University of Canterbury's Richard Vale: he's created a statistical model based on the series' previous tomes to predict what might be in...
26 Sep 22:00

Murder is just adorable in Assassin's Kittens Unity

by Jessica Conditt
We have so many questions about this video. How did YouTuber Mr.TVCow get those hoodies on the kittens? How many shots did it take to get the perfect scene of kittens falling onto a small pile of hay and running away? Where can we get one and/or all...
26 Sep 16:20

Teletext is 40 years old

by Chris Merriman
Teletext is 40 years old

A salute to the forerunner of the internet

26 Sep 15:55

Outage fears as Amazon's always on elastic cloud gets rebooted

by Chris Merriman
Outage fears as Amazon's always on elastic cloud gets rebooted

It's trying switching it off and switching it on again

27 Sep 08:34

Thor Takes On Cyber Criminals

by David Konow

It Takes a Hacker to Track a Hacker in Michael Mann's Next Thriller

25 Sep 17:55

Spoiler Alert: Statistician Predicts Future Chapters Of 'Game Of Thrones' Novels

by Rafi Letzter

Game Of Thrones Characters
Home Box Office

Desperate for details as you wait for the next installment in Game of Thrones? You're in luck. In what may be the first mathematics paper to include a spoiler alert, a New Zealand statistician has come up with a model to predict what's coming up in the final two (or threeSong Of Ice And Fire novels.

George R.R. Martin's hugely popular series is broken up into chapters told from the perspective of different characters. Richard Vale, a statistician at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, used a method called Bayesian prediction to figure out how many chapters each character is likely to get in the next two books in the series—and how likely they are to die.

How many chapters will each character get in 'Winds of Winter'? The height of the bar over each number represents the probability of a character getting that number of chapters. If the bar reaches the '0.5' mark, the chance is 50 percent. If it reaches '1' the model is certain of that number of chapters.
Richard Vale

Bayesian prediction uses knowledge about the past to predict the future. For example, if a boy king started headlining more and more chapters in each novel, you might reasonably expect him to dominate even more in the coming books. If a towering knight had many chapters in the first three books, but her presence petered off in the fourth and fifth, you would not expect her to show up quite as much in the future. And of course, if a character died (or might die in a future novel), his or her odds of returning are quite low. This same method of making mathematical guesses helps your Roomba navigate your living room, and helps cognitive scientists understand human choice.

Vale says likelihood of a character getting at least one chapter in the coming books roughly represents the likelihood that the character is still alive (for now). Of course, the model doesn't account for Martin's ruthlessness. Eddard Stark had lots of chapters in the first book, but readers and viewers know how that turned out...

The model is has other imperfections. Most importantly, it doesn't take the plot of past books into account, only their chapter heads. It also doesn't consider that chapter count is a bit of a zero-sum game. That is, that if one character shows up often the others might get crowded out. It also ignores the likelihood that new characters will be introduced.

Still, we're glad that we can reasonably expect to read more of Jon Snow and Daenerys, and less of Sir Davos. (Davos is a good guy, but let's face it, his undying loyalty is annoying.)

Will Vale follow up with more predictions for the coming books? "We could continue to make predictions in the hope of getting one right," he wrote, "but there is no merit in this. We hope that it will be possible to review the model's performance following the publication of [book] six."

25 Sep 15:09

Black Holes Do Not Exist

No black holes? There went the plot to countless science fiction books and movies. By merging two seemingly conflicting theories, Laura Mersini-Houghton, a physics professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in the College of Arts and Sciences, has proven, mathematically, that black holes can never come into being in the first place. The work not only forces scientists to reimagine the fabric of space-time, but also rethink the origins of the universe. Comments
25 Sep 23:34

Wearable artificial kidney hopes to gain FDA approval soon

by Edgar Alvarez
As neat as your smartwatch is, there are other existing wearables which, you know, can actually make the world a world a better place -- though that's not to say whatever you have on your wrist now is useless and for pure vanity purposes. Aptly named...
23 Sep 18:30

Blizzard cancels its next-gen online game despite seven years of work

by Jon Fingas
Have you been anticipating Titan, Blizzard's first online role-playing game since World of Warcraft? Unfortunately, you're going to have to pin your hopes on some other title. The studio tells Polygon that it has cancelled Titan despite pouring seven...
24 Sep 18:39

Kevin Mitnick will sell you security exploits, if you have $100,000

by Jon Fingas
Ever since he was released from prison, legendary hacker (and social engineering expert) Kevin Mitnick has spent much of his time helping companies protect against internet attacks. However, his security consulting work recently entered murky...
23 Sep 00:55

People Having Fun With Statues (Part 2)Previously: Part One

People Having Fun With Statues (Part 2)

Previously: Part One

23 Sep 03:35

UPS now lets you use 3D printers in nearly 100 US stores

by Jon Fingas
UPS' experiment with in-store 3D printers apparently went off without a hitch -- the shipping service has expanded the availability of 3D printing services from six test markets to nearly 100 locations across the US. While the hardware is still...
22 Sep 13:01

DisplayPort Alternate Mode for USB Type-C Announced - Video, Power, & Data All Over Type-C

by Ryan Smith

Earlier this month the USB Implementers Forum announced the new USB Power Delivery 2.0 specification. Long awaited, the Power Deliver 2.0 specification defined new standards for power delivery to allow Type-C USB ports to supply devices with much greater amounts of power than the previous standard allowed, now up to 5A at 5V, 12V, and 20V, for a maximum power delivery of 100W. However also buried in that specification was an interesting, if cryptic announcement regarding USB Alternate Modes, which would allow for different (non-USB) signals to be carried over USB Type-C connector. At the time the specification simply theorized just what protocols could be carried over Type-C as an alternate mode, but today we finally know what the first alternate mode will be: DisplayPort.

Today the VESA is announcing that they are publishing the “DisplayPort Alternate Mode on USB Type-C Connector Standard.” Working in conjunction with the USB-IF, the DP Alt Mode standard will allow standard USB Type-C connectors and cables to carry native DisplayPort signals. This is designed to open up a number of possibilities for connecting monitors, computers, docking stations, and other devices with DisplayPort video while also leveraging USB’s other data and power capabilities. With USB 3.1 and Type-C the USB-IF was looking to create a single cable that could carry everything, and now that DisplayPort can be muxed over Type-C, USB is one step closer to that with the ability to carry native video.

The Tech & The Spec

From a technical level the DP Alt Mode specification is actually rather simple. USB Type-C – which immediately implies using/supporting USB 3.1 signaling – uses 4 lanes (pairs) of differential signaling for USB Superspeed data, which are split up in a 2-up/2-down configuration for full duplex communication. Through the Alt Mode specification, DP Alt Mode will then in turn be allowed to take over some of these lanes – one, two, or all four – and run DisplayPort signaling over them in place of USB Superspeed signaling. By doing so a Type-C cable is then able to carry native DisplayPort video alongside its other signals, and from a hardware standpoint this is little different than a native DisplayPort connector/cable pair.

From a hardware perspective this will be a simple mux. USB alternate modes do not encapsulate other protocols (ala Thunderbolt) but instead allocate lanes to those other signals as necessary, with muxes at either end handling the switching to determine what signals are on what lanes and where they need to come from or go. Internally USB handles this matter via the CC sense pins, which are responsible for determining cable orientation. Alongside determining orientation, these pins will also transmit a Standard IDentification (SID), which will be how devices negotiate which signals are supported and which signals to use. After negotiation, the devices at either end can then configure themselves to the appropriate number of lanes and pin orientation.

Along with utilizing USB lanes for DP lanes, the DP Alt Mode standard also includes provisions for reconfiguring the Type-C secondary bus (SBU) to carry the DisplayPort AUX channel. This half-duplex channel is normally used by DisplayPort devices to carry additional non-video data such as audio, EDID, HDCP, touchscreen data, MST topology data, and more. Somewhat perversely in this case, the AUX channel has even been used to carry USB data, which dutifully enough would still be supported here for backwards compatibility purposes.

Since the main DisplayPort lanes and AUX channel can be carried over Type-C, when utilized in this fashion Type-C is very close to becoming a superset of DisplayPort. In a full (4 lane) DisplayPort configuration, along with all of the regular DisplayPort features a Type-C cable also carries the standard USB 2.0 interface and USB power, which always coexist alongside alt mode. So even in these configurations Type-C allows dedicated high power and USB 2.0 functionality, something the DisplayPort physical layer itself is not capable of. And of course when using a less-than-full configuration, 2-3 of those lanes on the Type-C cable then can be left to running USB Superspeed signaling, allowing USB 3.1 data to be carried alongside the narrower DisplayPort signal.

Meanwhile since DP Alt Mode means that Type-C carries native DisplayPort signaling, this enables several different interoperability options with other Type-C devices and legacy DisplayPort devices. On the hardware side Type-C ports can be used for the sink (displays) as well as the source (computers), so one could have a display connected to a source entirely over Type-C. Otherwise simple Type-C to DisplayPort cables can be constructed which from the perspective of a DisplayPort sink would be identical to a real DisplayPort cable, with the cable wired to expose just the DisplayPort signals to the sink. Or since these cables will be bidirectional, a legacy DisplayPort source could be connected to a Type-C sink just as well.

This also means that since DP Alt Mode is such a complete implementation of DisplayPort, that DisplayPort conversion devices will work as well. DisplayPort to VGA, DVI, and even HDMI 2.0 adapters will all work at the end of Type-C connection, and the VESA will be strongly encouraging cable makers to develop Type-C to HDMI 2.0 cables (and only HDMI 2.0, no 1.4) to make Type-C ports usable with HDMI devices. In fact the only major DisplayPort feature that won’t work over a Type-C connector is Dual-Mode DisplayPort (aka DP++), which is responsible for enabling passive DisplayPort adapters. So while adapters work over Type-C, all of them will need to be active adapters.

From a cabling standpoint DP Alt Mode will have similar allowances and limitations as USB over Type-C since it inherits the physical layer. DisplayPort 1.3’s HBR3 mode will be supported, but like USB’s Superspeed+ (10Gbps) mode this is officially only specified to work on cables up to 1M in length. Meanwhile at up to 2M in length DisplayPort 1.2’s HBR2 mode can be used. Meanwhile DP Alt Mode is currently only defined to work on passive USB cables, with the VESA seemingly picking their words carefully on the use of “currently.”

The Ecosystem & The Future

Because of the flexibility offered through the DP Alt Mode, the VESA and USB-IF have a wide range of options and ideas for how to make use of this functionality, with these ideas ultimately converging on a USB/DisplayPort ecosystem. With the ability to carry video data over USB, this allows for devices that make use of both in a fashion similar to Thunderbolt or DockPort, but with the greater advantage of the closer cooperation of the USB-IF and the superior Type-C physical layer.

At its most basic level, DP Alt Mode means that device manufacturers would no longer need to put dedicated display ports (whether DisplayPort, VGA, or HDMI) on their devices, and could instead fill out their devices entirely with USB ports for all digital I/O. This would be a massive boon to Ultrabooks and tablets, where the former only has a limited amount of space for ports and the latter frequently only has one port at all. To that end there will even be a forthcoming identification mark (similar to DP++) that will be used to identify Type-C ports that are DP Alt Mode capable, to help consumers identify which ports they can plug their displays into. The MUX concept is rather simple for hardware but I do get the impression that devices with multiple Type-C ports will only enable it on a fraction of their ports, hence the need for a logo for consumers to identify these ports. But we’ll have to see what shipping devices are like.

More broadly, this could be used to enable single-cable connectivity for laptops and tablets, with a single Type-C cable providing power to the laptop/tablet while also carrying input, audio, video, additional USB data, and more. This would be very similar to the Thunderbolt Display concept, except Type-C would be able to be a true single cable solution since it can carry the high-wattage power that Thunderbolt can’t. And since Type-C can carry DisplayPort 1.3 HBR3, this means that even when driving a 4K@60Hz display there will still be 2 lanes of USB Superspeed+ available for any devices attached to the display. More likely though we’ll see this concept first rolled out in dock form, with a single dock device connecting to an external monitor and otherwise serving as the power/data hub for the entire setup.

Speaking of which, this does mean that USB via DP Alt Mode will more directly be competing with other standards such as Thunderbolt at DockPort. Thunderbolt development will of course be an ongoing project for Intel, however for DockPort this is basically the end of the road. The standard, originally developed by AMD and TI before being adopted by the VESA, will continue on as-is and will continue to be supported over the DisplayPort physical layer as before. However it’s clear from today’s announcement that DisplayPort over USB has beaten USB over DisplayPort as the preferred multi-signal cabling solution, leaving DockPort with a limited duration on the market.

It’s interesting to note though that part of the reason DP Alt Mode is happening – and why it’s going to surpass DockPort – is because of the Type-C physical layer. In designing the Type-C connector and cabling, the USB-IF has specific intentions of having the Type-C connector live for a decade or more, just like USB Type-A/B before it. That means they’ve done quite a bit of work to future-proof the connector, including plenty of pins with an eye on supporting speeds greater than 10Gbps in the future.

For that reason the possibility is on the table of ditching the DisplayPort physical layer entirely and relying solely on Type-C. Now to be clear this is just an option the technology enables, but for a number of reasons it would be an attractive option for the VESA. As it stands the DisplayPort physical layer tops out at 8.1Gbps per lane for HBR3, meanwhile Superspeed+ over Type-C tops out at 10Gbps per lane with the design goal of further bandwidth increases. As the complexity and development costs of higher external buses goes up, one could very well see the day where DisplayPort was merely the protocol and signaling standard for monitors while Type-C was the physical layer, especially since DisplayPort and USB Superspeed are so very similar in the first place due to both using 4 lanes of differential signaling. But this is a more distant possibility; for now the DP Alt Mode ecosystem needs to take off for the kinds of mobile devices it’s designed for, and only then would anyone be thinking about replacing the DisplayPort physical layer entirely.

Wrapping things up, the VESA tells us that they are going to hit the ground running on DP Alt Mode and are seeing quite a bit of excitement from manufacturers. The VESA is expecting the first DP Alt Mode capable devices to appear in 2015, which is the same year Type-C ports begin appearing on devices as well. So if everything goes according to schedule, we should see the first DP Alt Mode devices in just over a year.

The all-in-one cable concept has been a long time coming, and after DockPort and Thunderbolt stumbling the market does look ripe for DP Alt Mode. So long as the execution is there, the manufacturers are willing to use it, and device compatibility lives up to the promises. Getting video over USB is the ultimate Trojan horse – unlike mDP, USB is already everywhere and will continue to be – so this may very well be the X factor needed to see widespread adoption where other standards have struggled.

19 Sep 15:53

What Larry Ellison stepping down means for Oracle

by Chris Merriman
What Larry Ellison stepping down means for Oracle

Time to enjoy his company

19 Sep 15:45

Large-scale malvertising campaign hidden in online ads hits

by Lee Bell
Large-scale malvertising campaign hidden in online ads hits

Malware payload distributed onto unsuspecting visitors via Zemot Trojan

22 Sep 13:56

4chan hoax leads idiots to microwave their iPhones

by Dave Neal
4chan hoax leads idiots to microwave their iPhones

You can kid a mooncalf

22 Sep 04:43

Almost all the sci-fi spaceships you know are on this massive chart

by Jon Fingas
If you regularly follow geek culture, you've probably seen early versions of Dirk Loechel's spaceship comparison chart, which shows the relative sizes of vehicles from science fiction games, movies and TV shows. Well, it's finished -- and it's even...
20 Sep 09:25

So Scotland has a lot of oil and possibly wants more freedom?

18 Sep 07:39

​BMW i8 owner sells car for 50 per cent profit after a month

by Christofer Lloyd

18 Sep 06:35

Schumacher medical treatment to cost £100k a week

by Daljinder Nagra

19 Sep 20:44

Man orders $20M-worth of Rolls-Royce Phantoms

by Chris Bruce

Filed under: Car Buying, Sedan, Rolls-Royce, Design/Style, Luxury

Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase order by Stephen Hung

Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase Louis XIII HotelThe term "luxury" gets thrown around a lot when speaking about vehicles that are actually somewhat affordable like BMWs and Cadillacs, but Rolls-Royce and hotel magnate Stephen Hung (above in the wild suit) are proving what real opulence really is with the largest single order from the fabled British marque, ever. Hung is purchasing 30 custom examples of the Phantom Extended Wheelbase (pictured right) for $20 million. To push the deal even further over the top, two of the Phantoms are the most expensive examples ever commissioned.

This assemblage of über-luxury sedans isn't for Hung's personal collection. Instead, the cars are going to be part of the fleet for the swanky hotel and casino that he's opening in Macau, China, in 2016 called the Louis XIII. According to The Washington Post, when the 200-room resort opens, the Louis XIII is supposed to be one of the most mind-blowing places in the world, including a suite that costs $100,000 a night.

When completed, the 30 cars will be in matching crimson red to echo the exterior of the hotel. That color will be carried into the interior trim, as well, including the gauges, and the seats will have a checker board pattern. Each one will be outfitted with a bespoke clock from Graff Luxury Watches. The two most expensive Phantoms will get all of this attention, plus gold-plated trim covering the interior and exterior.

As this huge order suggests, Hung doesn't do anything on a small scale. If you need even more proof of that, Rolls-Royce isn't just providing him with the cars, the automaker is also helping to design the parking area to house them and training the staff to drive the special fleet. Scroll down to read the full announcement of this historic order.

Continue reading Man orders $20M-worth of Rolls-Royce Phantoms

Man orders $20M-worth of Rolls-Royce Phantoms originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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18 Sep 02:08


30 Aug 04:54

There are two kinds of parrots…

There are two kinds of parrots…

18 Sep 14:08

Bono says he's working with Apple on a new music format to fight piracy

by Daniel Cooper
Bono's already inserted himself into everyone's iPhones this week, but now he wants even more control over the way you enjoy music. The Irish singer says that he's been working with Apple on a new audio format that'll get people paying for music once...
19 Sep 00:10

MinION, the USB-sized DNA sequencer, goes through real-world testing

by Mariella Moon
Back in 2012, a UK company called Oxford Nanopore announced a chewing gum packet-sized DNA sequencer, something that people found hard to believe since rival machines can be as big as fridges. After dealing with technical issues and bugs (as well as...
19 Sep 02:30

NVIDIA's latest GPU crams 4K images on 1080p displays

by Sean Buckley
Back in February, NVIDIA trotted out the very first desktop GPUs to feature its new Maxwell architecture: the GeForce GTX 750 and 750i. These entry level cards were paragons of efficiency, but they were hardly strong examples of what the company's...
19 Sep 11:58

France passes its anti-Uber law

by Daniel Cooper


Remember the French law that, if passed, would make life impossible for companies like Uber, LeCab and Allocab? Last night the country's national assembly gave a Gallic thumbs-up to the rule. The biggest change is that drivers are now banned from...
19 Sep 16:00

Belkin Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker review: Can WiFi make cooking easier?

by Kris Naudus
Frying, baking, grilling, searing, boiling, roasting -- whatever the method, I love to cook. It's not always easy, and sometimes it's just plain hard work, but at least it's the kind of work I enjoy. Even so, I've never used a slow cooker, and have...
19 Sep 17:37

Wolfram Alpha will answer your important questions on Twitter

by Daniel Cooper
Wouldn't it be great if you could just call up a supercomputer and ask it to do your data-wrangling for you? Actually, scratch that, no-one uses the phone anymore. What'd be really cool is if machines could respond to your queries straight from...
20 Sep 01:32

Alibaba IPO makes it worth $231 billion, more than Amazon and eBay combined

by Richard Lawler
We'd heard that the US IPO for Chinese company Alibaba could be among the biggest ever, and it did not disappoint. Closing at a stock price of $93.89, it raised $21.8 billion for the company and is the biggest IPO in US history. According to...