The WorldView-3 satellite, which launched on August 13, has sent back its first images. They’re gorgeous, and kind of creepy.
The new satellite can see to a resolution of 31 centimeters. That means each pixel of the camera captures one square foot of land, which is sharp enough to see home plate at Yankee Stadium, to map crops by pattern and type, to identify the type and speed of cars and trucks, and measure population density, all from 383 miles above the Earth’s surface.
WV-3 isn’t the sharpest satellite ever--some military satellites have a resolution of 15 to 20 centimeters--but it does have the highest resolution of any commercial satellite in the world. (The previous record-holder, GeoEye-1, had a resolution of 46 centimeters.)
But WV-3 is important for another reason. Up until now, U.S. regulations prevented companies from selling images with resolutions finer than 50 centimeters to anyone but the military. But WV-3’s maker, DigitalGlobe, has been granted tentative permission to break that rule. Starting six months from now, they’ll be able to sell images with a 30-centimeter resolution to anyone who’s willing to buy.
The images shown here have a resolution to 40 centimeters, because the company isn’t allowed to start showing the 30-centimeter images until the six-month waiting period is over.
In rural Australia, a drone delivers dog treats to a farmer. The robot is a proof of concept, part of Project Wing by Google X. The program is designed to show that delivery drones are possible, and it seems to be doing just that. Next for Google: figuring out the path from proven prototype to everyday utility.
The drone is a tail-sitter, taking off vertically with its body perpendicular to the ground. At rest, it looks like a tiny spaceship from a 1930s comic book. It’s a type of Vertical Takeoff or Landing (VTOL) rarely done with humans on board, because that transition, from vertical to horizontal and back again, is difficult for onboard human pilots to manage. For the drone it works fine, and the design lets the wing fly fast like a plane. It also means the drone can hover, and that’s where the delivery mechanism of Project Wing shines:
A working delivery mechanism is the first step for the service. With the prototype in place, the next challenge is creating an infrastructure for drones so that they can travel safely through skies without hitting other vehicles. Google’s driverless car program is an obvious touchstone for this project, but it’s a limited one. Cars on roads travel in close proximity and only move in two dimensions. Aircraft operate in vast, empty skies, and do so on three axes. Training a car to sense and avoid other cars is simpler than doing the same for an aircraft. Still, Google’s development and prior experience with cars is a strong sign that this work will continue and ultimately yield fruit. Michael Toscano, CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said that
It’s worth noting that Google tested this technology in Australia first. While the FAA clearly wants drones to sense and avoid other aircraft, its been slow to implement changes and create a regulatory framework that lets innovation like this happen stateside. If the drone industry wants to change the world, it’ll need an FAA that lets it deliver. Watch the drone in action below, and read more about Project Wing at The Atlantic.
On Tuesday, several days after Russian self-propelled artillery moved into eastern Ukraine in what was clearly a hostile invasion that Vladimir Putin insists is not occurring, someone took a video of some very heavy tanks crashing around an eastern Ukrainian town near the rebel-held city of Luhansk. While they look suspiciously like Russian tanks sent as part of the invasion, Moscow and the pro-Russia rebels have all insisted that any heavy equipment was stolen from or abandoned by the Ukrainian military.
But now military analysts have taken a look at the video and say that at least one of the tanks could only come from the Russian military, apparently settling the issue of whether these are in fact Russian military forces.
Joseph Dempsey, an analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told the BBC that one of the tanks is something called a T-72BM, a modern variant identifiable by its special "Kontakt-5 Explosive Reactive" armor, and one that Russia has not exported but uses heavily in its own military. That is a new development, and one that suggests not just that Russia is invading, but being increasingly brazen about it.
Dempsey told the BBC, "The Soviet-era tanks operated by the separatists have until now represented those that could have been potentially acquired internally within Ukraine, providing a degree of plausible deniability to any suspected third-party supplier." That degree of plausible deniability is now gone.
The land of lawsuits for all
Ai Hin was all set to be a star. The 6-year-old giant panda had shown signs of pregnancy last month, and staff at the Chengdu Breeding Research Centre in China had planned to film her labor in the first ever live broadcast of a panda giving birth.
Now that momentous occasion has been cancelled, as it turns out Ai Hin’s pregnancy was all just a clever ruse. Chengdu staff revealed that the panda had experienced a “phantom pregnancy” and had likely faked symptoms to get extra attention and food.
"After showing prenatal signs, the 'mothers-to-be' are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care. They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo,” Wu Kongju, an expert at Chengdu, tells Xinhua.
Signs of pregnancy for pandas include a reduced appetite, less mobility and an increase in progestational hormone. However, after a two-month observation, Ai Hin’s “behaviors and physiological indexes returned to normal.”
According to Kongju, phantom pregnancy is somewhat common among endangered bears, as they notice the special treatment other bears receive when they exhibit signs of pregnancy. Many other animals, such as dogs, cats and mice, also can suffer phantom pregnancy after they've been in heat (or "estrus").
The incident is also reminiscent of Münchausen syndrome, in which individuals fake certain health issues for attention or sympathy. Perhaps Ai Hin just needed somebody to care.
After teasing it a couple of times, LG took the wraps off the decidedly premium G Watch R. The Android Wear device will be showcased at the company's booth during the upcoming IFA convention in Berlin. The main feature of the LG G Watch is its display. As the R letter in the name kindly suggests, the screen is a 1.3" fully circular Plastic OLED display with a resolution of 320 x 320 pixels. The Korean manufacturer took a jab at Motorola's Moto 360 by pointing that the screen of the G Watch utilizes 100% of its face (the screen of the competitor doesn't). LG G Watch R packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC with 1.2GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM. The rest of the device's specs include 4GB of built-in memory, 410mAh battery, and the usual bevy of sensors (gyro, accelerometer, compass, barometer). The smartwatch is IP67 dust and water-resistant. It is available only in black. LG G Watch R will begin rolling out in key markets in early Q4 (in time for the holiday shopping season). Pricing and exact availability will be announced during the device's local launch....
Anti public urination sign in the Czech Republic
Update 4: With a handful of users ceding to Lizard Squad's demands, Twitch, Battle.net, and League of Legends all appear to be up and running again. Shacknews will continue to monitor the situation and await the next chapter in this unfortunate saga.
Update 3: Lizard Squad has indicated that they will be targeting League of Legends servers in North America. Servers have since been taken down.
Update 2: It appears that the attacks are spreading, once again. Hearthstone and Diablo 3 servers are down and Blizzard is claiming to be the victims of DDoS attack. Lizard Squad has yet to take responsibility for these attacks, so they may be unrelated.
[NA] - We are currently looking into some issues with D3 and Hearthstone. Updates to follow.— BlizzardCS (@BlizzardCS) August 27, 2014
Update: Twitch is addressing the source of the attacks.
We're currently investigating issues with the site. Please stay tuned— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) August 27, 2014
Original story: Lizard Squad is at it again. This time, they've targeted Twitch, hitting the streaming giant with a DDoS attack, with no sign that they'll bring it back up anytime soon.
As with many of their other attacks, they've claimed responsibility on their Twitter account.
Lizard Squad previously issued DDoS attacks to Battle.net, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and a slew of others. They also reported a phony bomb threat that grounded Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley's American Airlines flight. The FBI had been confirmed to be investigating, but it appears that the terror has not stopped.
Shacknews has reached out to Twitch representatives for comment.
Maybe I'll change my plasma in 3-4 years after all.
Ahead of their showing at IFA 2014 in the first week of September, LG has officially announced the release details of its first two Ultra HD OLED TVs, the 77EG9700 and 65EC9700.
Ultra HD TVs have been as common as bad action movies this summer, but the LG 65EC9700 and 77EG9700 are a bit special. They're not LCD TVs, but the first Ultra HD OLED TVs that you'll actually be able to buy, as a normal, non-famous person.
You will still need a nice and full wallet or purse, though, as they won't come cheap. The 65-inch 65EC9700 is expected to cost around £5999 ($9999), and the 77-inch 77EG9700 around £20k.
The TVs will go on pre-order first in South Korea shortly, before becoming available in the UK and US a little further down the line. We're still waiting on an exact date for the UK.
"I feel confident when I say that 4K OLED is a bona fide game changer," says LG Home Entertainment CEO Hyun-hwoi Ha. However, like previous OLED TVs, it's only going to change the game for a select, flush few.
We should also point out that these TVs are not actually 4K, but Ultra HD. Normal 4K is a broadcast standard of 4096 × 2160, where Ultra HD actually falls slightly below 4000 horizontal pixels with a resolution of 3840 × 2160.
There's a fact tech pedants can annoy friends with.
These TVs further reinforce LG's reputation as one of the pioneers of OLED TVs. Several have been produced, but hardly any have been available to buy.
The LG 55EA980W is the most readily-available OLED TV to date, and these days costs around £3000. It's rather special, offering black levels even plasma TVs can't touch.
Like that TV, the LG 65EC9700 and 77EG9700 adopt a slight screen curvature and use LG's RGBW matrix. Instead of using red, green and blue pixels, the TVs use white pixels and RGB colour filters, designed to combat the OLED deterioration issue that's a real concern with full RGB OLEDs like the Samsung KE55S9C.
A white plastic robot zooms a hoverbike over the English countryside, grains blowing beneath the bike's four fans. The robot's 3-D printed body is lightweight, and where its face would be there’s a GoPro camera instead, filming the flight. This isn't a scene from a dystopian science fiction movie; The bike is less than four feet long, and combined robot and bike weighs a maximum of 15.4 pounds. Created by Malloy Aeronautics, the Drone 3 hoverbike is a 1/3rd scale model of the version ultimately intended for human pilots and passengers.
The hoverbike is available as a reward for Kickstarter backers pledging just shy of $1000 USD. The campaign, which concludes on August 31st has already surpassed its goal. Making and selling Drone 3 is just the first part of the plan for Malloy Aeronautics. The company, founded in Australia and transplanted to England, envisions hoverbikes using the sky alongside helicopters the same way cars and motorcycles share the same roads. In particular, and in strikingly Australian fashion, the hoverbike makers say it could be used for "one man operational areas like cattle mustering and survey," replacing the more conventional helicopters that presently perform this role.
Malloy Aeronautics’s first hoverbike used two large ducted fans for lift, something it had in common with other hoverbike designs. The new version, as seen in Drone 3, is instead a quadcopter, using four rotors in a sleeker, more balanced fashion. The fans partially overlap, and the whole drone can fold up to fit within a special backpack carrying case. Drone 3 is remotely piloted, but the hoverbikes it finances will fly both manned and unmanned.
Watch it in flight below:
Public and private donors in the U.K. have launched an emergency fund for researchers studying Ebola. They want a quick turnaround time for the research they bankroll. Applications for the fund are due September 8 and funders are hoping studies will finish within two months, the Guardian reports. The tight timeline is designed to make a difference in the current outbreak in West Africa, which Doctors Without Borders expects to last longer than six months.
The Guardian describes what kind of research they're looking to fund:
This is the latest push to speed up Ebola research. The World Health Organization has declared that it is ethical to use experimental drugs in this outbreak––allowing some potential treatments to skip clinical trials that would validate the drug's safety and efficacy––and U.S. federal agencies want to fast-track human trials of a promising vaccine. If all goes well, the vaccine may be available sometime in 2015, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA Today.
The U.K. fund comes from a pool worth $10.8 million (6.5 million British pounds), although it's unclear exactly how much funders will use at this time. The pool comes from the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises program, which is a joint effort of the Wellcome Trust and the U.K.'s Department for International Development.
Experts from the United Nations, the World Health Organization and universities will review grant applications, the Guardian reports.
If you pay attention to entertainment tech at all, you've heard about 4K TVs. But beyond being the hottest buzzword in the business, 4K is a breakthrough technology that's shaking up the industry and rewriting the rulebook on image quality.
4K TV sets are now available from most of the major TV manufacturers, but these are merely the tip of the technological iceberg. This new standard affects not just the world of TV and cinema, but cameras, smartphones, tablets, computer monitors and video games. Practically anything that displays images or records video will need to reckon with 4K in the coming years.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's make sure we all understand the basics. What the heck is 4K and why should you care?
In a minute we're going to explain precisely how 4K is defined, how it works and why you should care, but to tell you the truth, you only need to know one thing about it: 4K means more pixels.
About 8 million. Which is around four times what your current 1080p set can display. Think of your TV like a grid, with rows and columns. A full HD 1080p image is 1080 rows high and 1920 columns wide. A 4K image approximately doubles both those numbers, yielding approximately 4 times as many pixels total. To put it another way, you could fit every pixel from your 1080p set onto one quarter of a 4K screen.
Because the images are around 4,000 pixels wide. And before you ask, yes, the industry named 1080 resolution after image height, but named 4K after image width. For extra added fun, you also might hear this resolution referred to as 2160p. Welcome to the future. It's confusing here.
They matter very much. More pixels means more information. More information means sharper pictures. Sharper pictures are more engaging. More engaging content is more fun. And fun... well fun is the thing, isn't it?
That's where it gets sticky. We're talking about a similar jump in resolution as the one from SD (480 lines high) to HD (1080 lines high). And 4K screens are noticeably sharper than 1080p screens. But there are a few reasons you might not feel the same thrill you did when you upgraded your old CRT to a flatscreen.
When most people went from a 480 to a 1080p set, there was a good chance they were making a big jump in TV size as well. In terms of wow factor, display size is more powerful than any resolution jump could ever hope to be. Last time around most people got big jumps to both screen size and resolution. But this time screen sizes are staying about the same, with the most popular models falling in the 40 inch to 70 inch range.
Most importantly, though, you'll only be able to see the resolution difference on a 4K set if you're 1) watching 4K content through it and 2) you're sitting close enough.
Yup. Remember when Apple made a big fuss about "retina" displays a few iPhones back? "Retina" refers to screens that have sufficient resolution that at a normal viewing distance your eye can't make out individual pixels. Get far enough away from a 1080p set and, hey presto, It's a retina display! More importantly, at that same distance, your eyeballs won't be able to squeeze any more detail out of a 4K image than a 1080 one. If you're at "retina distance" from your 1080p set now and don't plan on moving your couch closer, upgrading to 4K may not make a big difference to your experience. This chart [[http://s3.carltonbale.com/resolution_chart.html]] shows how close you need to sit at any given screen size to see the difference.
Oh my yes. The ability to get up close to the screen without the image breaking down is one of the most intoxicating things about 4K. Sitting closer allows the same sized screen to fill more of your visual field, which yields greater immersion. The up-close factor is one of the reasons 4K computer monitors have become one of the technology's fastest growing sectors. 4K monitors remain pin-sharp even when you're just a foot or two from the screen, as you are when you're sitting at your desk.
Remember when I said the industry liked to confuse people? UHD stands for Ultra High Definition. Basically, the term designates TVs that are 4K resolution or greater. It's a slightly silly, slightly confusing term, but at the same time it's a memorable and useful catchall for the TL;DR consumer. It makes things sound simpler, even when they aren't. So your jerkface pal is just a pawn in a larger game. Don't blame him or his jerk face. In technical terms UHD is any display that has a resolution of more than 3840 by 2160.
Man alive, you are sharp. This is why UHD is slightly silly. I like to pretend the extra 160 pixels went on a trip to Thailand to "find themselves" and never came back. Don't worry, you won't miss them. For now, it's safe to think of UHD and 4K interchangeably.
Yes. This is the slightly confusing part. An 8K display would also be UHD.
It's the next resolution standard up from 4K. Basically it doubles the pixel height and width again to yield approximately 32 million pixels. It's a regular pixel party.
Absolutely not. The 8K standard is primarily for the exhibition market (aka movie theaters). To make that many pixels matter, you need to be feeding a truly gigantic screen and sitting right in front of it. Besides, you can't buy an 8K screen today without having it custom built, which would cost approximately seven hojillion dollars. And there's no commercially available 8K content. You'd need to get movies directly from distributors the same way theaters do. You do not need this unless you are Jerry Bruckheimer. (If you are Jerry Bruckheimer, though, give me a call. I know a guy.)
Yeah, about that... There's actually not much 4K content to be had right now.
Because every 4K frame contains four times the information, in terms of file size 4K content is four times more bulky than regular HD content. That makes it a challenge to get it to you. Broadcast TV hasn't made the 4K switch yet (indeed, it's only recently that hard drive sizes have gotten big enough to manage DVRing HD programs comfortably). There's not even a 4K standard for optical discs (though a 4K Blu-ray standard has been teased and yanked away a few times and could come later this year).
On the streaming side, bandwidth is a definite issue. The internet's bandwidth is already dominated [[http://www.techradar.com/us/news/internet/netflix-accounts-for-one-third-of-all-north-american-bandwidth-1110904]] by Netflix's traffic, prompting ISPs to go after them for extra cash [[http://www.techradar.com/us/news/internet/netflix-is-now-streaming-65-faster-after-its-deal-with-comcast-1242453]], and that's with most of its streams at SD and HD levels. Upping everything to 4K doesn't sound like a reasonable option just yet. And even if it were possible to stream 4K content to everyone without breaking the internet, streaming 4K content requires a 25Mbps or faster downstream internet connection, which is faster than most people have at the moment.
The good news is many new films and some TV shows are now filming in 4K as a future-proofing measure. The bad news is all that content will have to wait until we have established avenues for getting it to people. Your best UHD options right now come from Sony and Netflix.
Sony launched its Video Unlimited 4K service in 2013, which offers more than 70 films and TV shows for rental or purchase. It requires Sony's 4K Ultra HD Media Player, the FMP-X1 ($350), which comes with a 2TB hard drive and is only compatible with Sony 4K TVs. 24-hour TV show rentals are $4 and 24-hour film rentals cost $8. Film purchases are $30. It's not exactly instant gratification, though. Once you rent or buy something, it needs to download to your player, which Sony estimates can take 8 to 15 hours, depending on your Internet connection, so you'd better think ahead if you're planning a 4K movie night.
If you want to watch right away, Netflix is testing the 4K streaming waters with select shows (House of Cards, Breaking Bad) and films (Ghostbusters, The Smurfs 2) if you own a Samsung, Sony or LG 4K TV and have a 25Mbps internet connection. Currently, however, the content selection is limited at best. And contains The Smurfs 2.
It's not you.
Because it's awesome. Seriously, the pictures look amazing. You're going to love it.
It's a fair point. There is definitely a chicken and egg problem here. No one wants to spend money putting out 4K content until there's enough significant demand for it, and that means 4K sets showing up in homes. But 4K sets are a tough sell if there's nothing to watch on them except regular HD content. Which means we've been in this weird in-between time, waiting for significant numbers of people to make a relatively illogical decision to buy an extra-expensive TV that will only look marginally better than their old one for the next year or two.
Hey, let's be careful with our mean words! Still, you've got a point. The current situation is a little silly. But 4K is legitimately awesome. And we're going to get there. We went through a similar transition a few years back with the move to HD (which came complete with the HD-DVD/Blu-ray format war and massive marketplace confusion) a few years back. Luckily that transition was eased a bit by the simultaneous move to the flatscreen form factor and a significant jump in screen sizes.
It depends. If you want the absolute best TV you can get right now and don't mind paying a premium for it, it's a 4K set. If you're buying from one of the top tier manufacturers, you're going to get a good product that's reasonably future-proofed. As we said before, the sets look great. However, don't expect to be watching most of your video content in 4K for another two to three years. And make sure any set you buy has HDMI 2.0 ports (the first wave of 4K TVs used the previous HDMI 1.4 standard).
On the other hand, if you're price sensitive or want to wait until the content side of the equation is a bit more solved, it absolutely makes sense to wait. You're not missing out on much at the moment. There are incredible values to be found in generously-sized 1080p sets right now. And 4K sets are only going to get cheaper.
Update 6: All appears to be up and running. No further problems have been reported with PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Battle.net, or any of the other services affected. We will continue to monitor the situation here at Shacknews and will report on any further attacks.
Update 5: Battle.net has been hit once again, according to Blizzard customer service. The attack was foreshadowed when Lizard Squad pointed to a Twitch user playing Hearthstone. Minutes later, the group targeted a Dota 2 stream. A portion of Dota 2 servers have been affected, but there does not appear to be widespread outage at this time.
Update 3: A Sony Online Entertainment representative has issued a statement to Shacknews in regards to SOE President John Smedley having his flight diverted over a fake bomb threat. The statement reads "I can confirm that at this time the FBI is handling this directly." The rep added that no specifics could be offered, as this has now become a matter of national security.
Update 2: An update has been posted on PlayStation.Blog confirming that no personal information has been stolen in these attacks. The DDoS attacks are persisting and the team is looking to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
Update: Sony has acknowledged the attacks on Twitter.
Network update: our engineers are aware of the issues and are working to resolve them. We'll keep you posted - sorry for the inconvenience— PlayStation (@PlayStation) August 24, 2014
We are aware that PSN is currently down - please try again later. Thanks for your patience as we look into this!— Ask PlayStation (@AskPlayStation) August 24, 2014
In addition, since the time of this post, Sony Online Entertainment's servers have been hit, as well. SOE President John Smedley confirmed the attack early Sunday morning.
We are under attack by a large scale ddos. Being dealt with but it will impact games until its handled.— John Smedley (@j_smedley) August 24, 2014
We will continue to issue updates as they come in.
Original story: Several gaming servers have been at the receiving end of DDoS attacks over the past several hours. Blizzard's Battle.net servers, Riot's League of Legends, Grinding Gear Games' Path of Exile, and PlayStation Network are among those under attack by a group of hackers calling themselves Lizard Squad.
Several tweets have gone up throughout Saturday evening, in which Lizard Squad has taken responsibility for the attacks. The group started with Blizzard's servers that include Hearthstone, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft and others. The group quickly spread to League of Legends and Path of Exile before deciding to spread their terror to PlayStation Network. The latter's outage is not related to the scheduled maintenance set to begin Monday morning.
The situation is ongoing, as the various staffs work hard to get the servers active again.
Fortunately for everyone who isn't a fighter pilot, John Kristensen, a Danish Air Force pilot who flew missions in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2003, brought along his GoPro for a flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon over Greenland. The resulting video is stunning, as he races past icebergs, glaciers, ice floes, snow-covered plains, and fjords. There's a lot that's frozen on the Greenland ice sheet, it turns out. He also flies in formation with other pilots from Fighter Wing Skrydstrup.
Watch the video below:
Interested in more headspinning flight captures? Check out this Slovenian airplane undergoing a spin test.