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29 Sep 21:27

Diplomats in Cuba have been under attack—but the weaponry is a mystery

by Beth Mole

Enlarge / The Capri Hotel in 2008. (credit: Getty | ADALBERTO ROQUE)

On Tuesday, the State Department confirmed that two more Americans have fallen victim to an ongoing series of mysterious attacks targeting diplomats in Cuba, the Associated Press reports. The new cases bring the total of Americans affected by the assaults to 21.

US authorities first acknowledged the attacks in August, about nine months after diplomats began reporting bizarre sonic experiences and a puzzling spectrum of symptoms, from brain injuries to hearing loss. Despite an international investigation into the attacks, which have also affected Canadian diplomats, authorities and scientists are still baffled as to what kind of weapon or devices could have been used—let alone by whom.

The victims report a range of symptoms including dizziness, nausea, headaches, balance problems, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nosebleeds, difficulty concentrating and recalling words, permanent hearing loss, and speech problems. There have also been brain injuries, including swelling and concussion.

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29 Sep 20:58

Annihilation: An Extremely Creepy Sci-Fi Thriller Featuring Natalie Portman

by Geeks are Sexy

Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac. It was written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later).

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

Annihilation will hit the big screen on February 23, 2018.

[Paramount Pictures]

The post Annihilation: An Extremely Creepy Sci-Fi Thriller Featuring Natalie Portman appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

29 Sep 20:46

Tea Party Over 9000!!!

28 Sep 21:32

EU study finds piracy doesn’t hurt game sales, may actually help

by Kyle Orland

(credit: Getty Images)

For as long as video game piracy has existed, gamers and the industry have argued about whether the practice really hurts sales of legitimate games. In 2010, the Business Software Alliance estimated that generalized software piracy costs the world $51 billion annually and half a million jobs. Even most people who doubt every pirated download is equivalent to a lost sale will admit that illegal downloads have some negative effect on overall game sales.

So it's more than a bit surprising that an exhaustive study of piracy's effects by the European Commission found that "illegal consumption [of games] leads to increased legal consumption." To be more precise, the study estimates that for every 100 games that are downloaded illegally, players actually legally obtain 24 more games (including free games) than they would in a world in which piracy didn't exist.

The 306-page "Estimating Displacement Rates of Copyrighted Content in the EU" report (PDF) points out a number of caveats for this headline number, not least of which is a 45-percent error margin that makes the results less than statistically significant (i.e. indistinguishable from noise). That said, the same study finds that piracy has the more-expected negative effects on sales of films and books (and a neutral effect on music), singling out games as one area where piracy really does seem to work differently.

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28 Sep 21:09

FCC chief Ajit Pai wants Apple to stop disabling FM radio chips in iPhones [Updated]

by Jeff Dunn

Enlarge (credit: Samuel Axon)

Update (9/28/2017 4:25 ET): Apple has responded to FCC chairman Ajit Pai's call for the company to enable FM radio chips in its devices. In an emailed statement, the company downplayed the need for FM radio broadcasts in times of emergency, and said its iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 devices have neither the chips nor the antennas necessary to allow FM radio reception in the first place. Here's the full statement:

"Apple cares deeply about the safety of our users, especially during times of crisis and that’s why we have engineered modern safety solutions into our products. Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts. iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models do not have FM radio chips in them nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products."

Apple declined to comment on why newer iPhones are unable to pick up radio broadcasts or if it could ever enable the FM tuner in pre-iPhone 7 devices in the future. Various smartphones with an active FM chip use the cord from a pair of wired headphones as an antenna, however, so the omission of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 may contribute to those devices' lack of FM tuner support. Our original story follows.

Original post: Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai on Thursday issued a public statement requesting that Apple activate the disabled FM radio chips within its iPhones.

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28 Sep 16:42

New gravitational wave detector almost immediately spots black hole merger

by John Timmer


Today, a huge scientific team announced that humanity has added a third gravitational wave detector to its arsenal. And, only two weeks after Europe's VIRGO detector joined forces with the two LIGO detectors, the three combined to pick up a new black hole merger. While the three have worked together for less than a month so far, there are plans for a substantial observation run next autumn.

Waves in space

Gravitational waves are produced as two massive objects spiral inward toward a collision. Once they get close enough, their rapid circling distorts space itself, sending gravitational waves rippling out. Immediately after their collision, the object formed by their merger vibrates like a bell, briefly producing a different pattern of waves. These ripples in space will alternately expand and contract the distance between two objects by an infinitesimal amount—but one sufficient for our most sensitive instruments to pick up.

The new event, GW170814, is similar to the ones detected earlier. It involves stellar-mass black holes, 31 and 25 times the mass of the Sun. Those are heavier than theoretical work indicates should be possible to form through the collapse of stars. This suggests that either these were formed through earlier mergers or some alternate route of formation exists. The resulting black hole is 53 times our Sun's mass. The missing material—three solar masses' worth of black hole—was converted to energy in the form of gravitational waves. The event occurred about 1.8 billion light years away, though, so don't be surprised that you didn't notice anything.

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22 Sep 19:42

SpaceX’s worldwide satellite broadband network may have a name: Starlink

by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Olena_T)

SpaceX has filed trademark applications for the word "Starlink" to describe its planned satellite broadband network.

SpaceX filed applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 21 to have Starlink trademarked for "wireless broadband communication services," "high-speed wireless Internet access," and other services related to its upcoming satellite network.

The trademark applications were surfaced by a user on Reddit and then made the rounds in news articles. SpaceX is also seeking an additional trademark on "SpaceX" specifically for the satellite network, in addition to the SpaceX trademarks it already owns for aerospace launch vehicles, rockets, and services for launching payloads into space.

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22 Sep 19:37

Ajit Pai’s plan to lower broadband standards is “crazy,” FCC Democrat says

by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge / FCC members Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai at INTX: The Internet & Television Expo in Chicago, Illinois, US, on Wednesday, May 6, 2015. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The Federal Communications Commission chairman's proposal that could lower the country's broadband standard is "crazy" and does nothing to solve the United States' broadband accessibility problems, a Democratic FCC commissioner said yesterday.

The FCC is "proposing to lower US broadband standard from 25 to 10Mbps," FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted. "This is crazy. Lowering standards doesn't solve our broadband problems."

Redefining broadband to declare problem solved

The FCC's current policy, a holdover from former Chairman Tom Wheeler, is that all Americans should have access to home Internet service with speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream and access to mobile broadband. If that policy remained in place, having one or the other wouldn't be enough to be considered "served" in the FCC's annual analysis of whether broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.

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22 Sep 19:35

CCleaner malware outbreak is much worse than it first appeared

by Dan Goodin

The recent CCleaner malware outbreak is much worse than it initially appeared, according to newly unearthed evidence. That evidence shows that the CCleaner malware infected at least 20 computers from a carefully selected list of high-profile technology companies with a mysterious payload.

(credit: Talos)

Previously, researchers found no evidence that any of the computers infected by the booby-trapped version of the widely used CCleaner utility had received a second-stage payload the backdoor was capable of delivering. The new evidence—culled from data left on a command-and-control server during the last four days attackers operated it—shows otherwise. Of 700,000 infected PCs, 20 of them, belonging to highly targeted companies, received the second stage, according to an analysis published Wednesday by Cisco Systems' Talos Group.

Because the CCleaner backdoor was active for 31 days, the total number of infected computers is "likely at least in the order of hundreds," researchers from Avast, the antivirus company that acquired CCleaner in July, said in their own analysis published Thursday.

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22 Sep 19:34

Oil companies sued to pay for cost of rising sea levels, climate change

by David Kravets

San Francisco Embarcadero. (credit: David Yu)

At least five California municipalities are suing five major oil companies, claiming in public nuisance lawsuits that the firms should pay for the infrastructure costs associated with rising sea levels due to climate change.

The latest suits announced Wednesday by Oakland and San Francisco name BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The cities claim the oil companies knew of the dangers of fossil-fuel-driven climate change but kept mum. The cities claim that global warming, which they say has melted ice sheets and heated sea water, has contributed to rising seas by about eight inches in California over the past decade. They say it could rise 10 feet by the year 2100.

"The bill has come due," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. "It's time for these companies to take responsibility."

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20 Sep 16:54

Magical Duckventures

by KatSwenski

Dogs can't swim! Don't be silly.

15 Sep 16:09

It's Making These Crash Tests Feel Unethical

web comics crash test dummies It's Making These Crash Tests Feel Unethical

Submitted by: (via blazersatdawn)

Tagged: test , safety , web comics
13 Sep 16:59

Getting Up Steam

Getting Up Steam There aren't enough games in my Steam library for me to have this problem, but some of you should still find this relatable.

source: Twitter

See more: Getting Up Steam
13 Sep 16:56

Mortal Thrones

Uh huh-huh-huh...naked lady on a dragon.

source: YouTube

See more: Mortal Thrones
12 Sep 16:04

Aw man.

by Ryan
12 Sep 16:01


by Ryan
08 Sep 17:53


by Ryan
30 Aug 14:54

This is probably the worst US flood storm ever, and I’ll never be the same

by Eric Berger

Enlarge / Houston, on Monday, basically all across the city. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

HOUSTON—Lightning crashed all around as I dashed into the dark night. The parking lot outside my apartment building had become swollen with rains, a torrent about a foot deep rushing toward lower ground God knows where. Amazingly, the garage door rose when I punched the button on the opener. Inside I found what I expected to find—mayhem.

In dismay, I scooped up a box of books that had been on the floor. As I did, one of the sodden bottom flaps gave way, and a heavy book splashed into the water: From Dawn to Decadence, a timeless account of the Western world's great works by Jacques Barzun. Almost immediately, a current from the rushing water beyond the garage door pulled the tome away, forever. Damn, I loved that book. An indescribably bad night had just gotten that little bit worse.

This little scene played out on Sunday morning, around 4am, after sheets of rain from Hurricane Harvey had drenched southern Houston for the previous 12 hours. A few miles away, amidst the tempest, my wife sat on the front porch of her sister's new home. It had been built on pilings to keep it safe from flooding. But when 24 inches falls in less than 24 hours, as it did over Clear Creek south of Houston, bad things happen.

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21 Aug 15:21

Intel first 8th generation processors are just updated 7th generation chips

by Peter Bright

Enlarge / A Kaby Lake refresh die. (credit: Intel)

The first "8th generation" Intel Core processors roll out today: a quartet of 15W U-series mobile processors. Prior generation U-series parts have had two cores, four threads; these new chips double that to four cores and eight threads. They also bump up the maximum clock speed to as much as 4.2GHz, though the base clock speed is sharply down at 1.9GHz for the top end part (compared to the 7th generation's 2.8GHz). But beyond those changes, there's little to say about the new chips, because in a lot of ways, the new chips aren't really new.

i7-8650U i7-8550U i5-8350U i5-8250U
Base clock/GHz 1.9 1.8 1.7 1.6
Maximum 1-core clock/GHz 4.2 4.0 3.6 3.4
Maximum 2-core clock/GHz 4.2 4.0 3.6 3.4
Maximum 4-core clock/GHz 3.9 3.7 3.6 3.4
Cores 4 4 4 4
Threads 8 8 8 8
Cache size/MB 8 8 6 6
Maximum GPU clock/GHz 1150 1150 1100 1100

Although Intel is calling these parts "8th generation," their architecture, both for their CPU and their integrated GPU, is the same as "7th generation" Kaby Lake. In fact, Intel calls the architecture of these chips "Kaby Lake refresh." Kaby Lake was itself a minor update on Skylake, adding an improved GPU (with, for example, hardware-accelerated support for 4K H.265 video) and a clock speed bump. The new chips continue to be built on Intel's "14nm+" manufacturing process, albeit a somewhat refined one.

Earlier this year, Intel claimed that the new chips would add 30 percent performance over 7th generation parts; that number is now 40 percent. A total of 25 percent of that boost (in the SYSmark benchmark) comes from the doubled core and thread count. The remainder is split evenly between "manufacturing" improvements (which is to say, higher clock speeds) and "design" improvements.

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16 Aug 17:30

A Rat’s Tale [Comic]

by Geeks are Sexy
16 Aug 17:28

Right in the Feels: A Tribute Video to Jaime Lannister, Kingslayer

by Geeks are Sexy

A fantastic tribute video to Jaime Lannister, Kingslayer, one of the characters most people hated early when the show started, and now things are not so clear with him anymore: some hate him still, some love him.


The post Right in the Feels: A Tribute Video to Jaime Lannister, Kingslayer appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

16 Aug 17:26

Be Sure to Watch the Background Jogger in This Short Sketch [Video]

by Geeks are Sexy

For once, what we see just in front of the camera is not what you should watch.

Two friends have a very important conversation.


The post Be Sure to Watch the Background Jogger in This Short Sketch [Video] appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

10 Aug 21:46

Alien: Covenant [Comic]

by Geeks are Sexy

#alien #covenant #paulxwalsh #comic

Une publication partagée par paul walsh (@paulxwalsh) le

[Source: Paul Walsh on Instagram]

The post Alien: Covenant [Comic] appeared first on Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

10 Aug 21:45

Keep Dreaming

10 Aug 21:44

But I'm Not in Yet...

10 Aug 21:32

AMD Threadripper 1950X review: Better than Intel in almost every way

by Mark Walton

Enlarge / With an orange and blue color scheme to boot...

If Ryzen was a polite, if firm way of telling the world that AMD is back in the processor game, then Threadripper is a foul-mouthed, middle-finger-waving, kick-in-the-crotch "screw you" aimed squarely at the usurious heart of Intel. It's an olive branch to a part of the PC market stung by years of inflated prices, sluggish performance gains, and the feeling that, if you're not interested in low-power laptops, Intel isn't interested in you.

Where Intel charges $1,000/£1,000 for 10 cores and 20 threads in the form of the Core i9-7900X, AMD offers 16C/32T with Threadripper 1950X. Where Intel limits chipset features and PCIe lanes the further down the product stack you go—the latter being ever more important as storage moves away from the SATA interface—AMD offers quad-channel memory, eight DIMM slots, and 64 PCIe lanes even on the cheapest CPU for the platform.

Threadripper embraces the enthusiasts, the system builders, and the content creators that shout loud and complain often, but evangelise products like no other. It's the new home for extravagant multi-GPU setups, and RAID arrays built on thousands of dollars worth of M.2 SSDs. It's where performance records can be broken, and where content creators can shave precious minutes from laborious production tasks, while still having more than enough remaining horsepower to get their game on.

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02 Aug 14:34

IBM and Sony cram up to 330 terabytes into tiny tape cartridge

by Sebastian Anthony

Enlarge / IBM's Mark Lantz holding one square inch of the new super-dense magnetic tape. Sony can squeeze more than a kilometre of tape inside a cartridge, for a max capacity of 330 terabytes. (credit: IBM Research)

IBM and Sony have developed a new magnetic tape system capable of storing 201 gigabits of data per square inch, for a max theoretical capacity of 330 terabytes in a single palm-sized cartridge.

For comparison, the world's largest hard drives—which are about twice the physical size of a Sony tape cartridge—are the 60TB Seagate SSD or 12TB HGST helium-filled HDD. The largest commercially available tapes only store 15TB. So, 330TB is quite a lot.

To achieve such a dramatic increase in areal density, Sony and IBM tackled different parts of the problem: Sony developed a new type of tape that has a higher density of magnetic recording sites, and IBM Research worked on new heads and signal processing tech to actually read and extract data from those nanometre-long patches of magnetism.

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24 Jul 16:25

Human liver cells seeded in mouse expands 50-fold to functional organoid

by Beth Mole

Vascularized engineered human liver tissue that has self-organized into a lobule-like microstructure. (credit: Chelsea Fortin/Bhatia Lab/Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research)

Being able to grow your own new organs may be in reach—with some cellular assembly required.

With a carefully constructed clump of cells, mice grew their own functional human liver organoids in a matter of months, researchers report this week in Science Translational Medicine. The cellular organ seeds blossomed in the rodents, expanding 50-fold in that time. They appeared to form complex liver structures, tap into vasculature, and carry out the functions of a normal liver. The critical factor in getting the organoids to take root, the authors report, was having the seed cells arranged just right.

Though the organ seeds are far from any clinical application, researchers are hopeful that they’ll one day be able to engineer larger liver organs to treat patients with liver failure or damage.

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19 Jul 20:49

A Comcast billing nightmare affects woman caring for her sick father

by Jon Brodkin

You can check out any time you'd like, but you can never... well, you know the song. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Amie Stepanovich‏ has been shuttling back and forth between Washington, DC, and Ohio, where her father is "very sick and currently in the hospital and unable to speak for himself," she wrote in a series of tweets yesterday. Stepanovich has power of attorney for her father and wants to reduce his Comcast bill, which costs "quite a lot" of money each month.

But when she called Comcast last weekend, a company rep "told me they couldn't handle [the] request on [the] phone because I wasn't authorized," she wrote.

Stepanovich says she was instructed to take her father's identification and hospital bills to a Comcast service center in order to get the Comcast bill reduced. She tried to call the nearest service center "to verify what I was told before I drove, but you can't call service centers directly—only published number is [the] main line that I'd already called."

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07 Jul 18:15