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Friday September 21, 2018

Japan Launched Two Rovers at an Asteroid

Today, Japan launched 2 small rovers at an asteroid from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft. The original mission launched in 2014, and took some stunning fly-by shots of the Earth in 2015 on its way out. The 2 diminutive drones measure 18cm by 7cm, weigh 1.1kg each, and feature small motors to "hop" across the surface. Japan showed their enthusiasm in a tweet featuring the spacecraft's shadow on the asteroid's surface. The main craft will throw two more rovers at the asteroid next year. Check out a video of the mission below:

There are four cameras on Rover-1A and three cameras on Rover-1B. We are planning to use the cameras on each rover to create a stereo image of the surface of Ryugu. Some of the projections from the rover edge that looks like thorns are temperature sensors to measure the surface temperature of Ryugu. Additional instruments on the rovers include optical sensors, an accelerometer and a gyroscope.

Discussion

Fortune 500 Corporations Are Using Artificial Intelligence to Interview Job Candidates

The Wall Street Journal has an article from the Moving Upstream series where the use of artificial intelligence (A.I.) in the hiring process is discussed. Almost all Fortune 500 companies use some form of automation in the hiring process. By quantifying human behavior with software algorithms; cluster of words used, micro expressions and tone of voice are turned into data points for machine learning (ML) to analyze and pick the very best candidate for the job. These data points are used to generate a score as accumulated responses and facial movements are compared against a highly rated employee at the company. HireVue is one of the companies that creates the software and ML algorithms that companies such as Unilever and Hilton use to video interview job candidates.

HireVue CEO Kevin Parker stresses that some of the advantages of using A.I. include a lack of human bias as it creates a fair and level playing field in the hiring process. The model that HireVue uses captures all facial expressions as seen in top performers but only uses the data points that are relevant in predicting what matters to create the job candidate's score. Another company called DeepSense seeks to use a person's personality instead of job skill and resume to determine compatibility with a job opening. They use ML to analyze an applicant's LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media accounts to find their underlying personality traits.

When discussing the ramifications of using social media to analyze job candidates, Jason Bellini asks, "Is it legal?" Sociologist and law professor Ifeoma Ajunwa says, "That is all public information so yes, it is perfectly legal!" Mr. Bellini then asks, "Is it ethical?" Ifeoma Ajunwa responds, "So that's a second question. When you're posting on Twitter you're certainly not imagining for that information to be collected to be used against you. And it is important actually, that we really stop to ask, Is this working for society?"

Discussion

Researchers Use Eye Tracking and AI to Control a Drone

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and New York University created a system that can control a drone with nothing but eye movement. The setup uses Tobii Pro Glasses 2 to track both eyes and provide an HD camera feed, which is fed to an Nvidia Jetson TX2 system running a deep neural network. The software uses the drone's apparent size and the user's head orientation to figure out where it is in 3D space, calculates a vector based on the user's gaze, and sends the drone there. This makes the system self-contained, with no need for GPS or external sensors away from the user. Check out a video of the drone in action below:

"To compute the 3D navigation waypoint, we use the 2D gaze coordinate provided from the glasses to compute a pointing vector from the glasses, and then randomly select the waypoint depth within a predefined safety zone. Ideally, the 3D navigation waypoint would come directly from the eye tracking glasses, but we found in our experiments that the depth component reported by the glasses was too noisy to use effectively. In the future, we hope to further investigate this issue in order to give the user more control over depth." It's somewhat remarkable that the glasses are reporting depth information from pupil-tracking data at all, to be honest, but you can see how this would be super difficult, determining the difference in pupil divergence between you looking at something that's 20 feet away as opposed to 25 feet away. Those five feet could easily be the difference between an intact drone and one that's in sad little pieces on the ground, especially if the drone is being controlled by an untrained user, which is after all the idea.

Discussion

Tesla Model 3 Gets a 5 Star Crash Safety Rating

Even though Tesla gets some flak for self driving incidents and battery fires, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seems to think their cars are safe. The Model 3 just got a 5 star crash safety rating in every single category, just like the Model S and Model X. Check out a video of the frontal crash test below:

Discussion

Amazon Sets Traps for Package Thieves

As part of an ongoing effort to crack down on bad employees, Amazon is planting fake packages in delivery trucks to root out package-stealing drivers. Business Insider reports that Amazon plants these "dummy" packages with fake labels at random. When drivers scan the label, an error message pops up, which suggests the package isn't in Amazon's system and therefore won't be missed. At that point, the driver faces a choice: call a manager, return the package, or keep it for themselves. Though they don't publish internal figures, package theft is supposedly a huge problem for Amazon.

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"We might pull something out of our pocket and put it in there" to give it some weight, a former Amazon logistics manager told Business Insider. This person, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said instructions for the practice came from Amazon's corporate offices in Seattle. "It's meant to be a trap ... to check the integrity of the driver," he said.

Discussion

Fortnite Growth Continues as over 78 Million Login to Play in August

Fortnite has continued on its ridiculous growth pattern as Epic Games has announced that 78.3 million players logged into the game during the month of August. Epic was forced to upgrade their critical infrastructure such as servers and stats as no one could have realistically predicted the momentum that the combination battle royale and base building game has exhibited. Now with the Fall Skirmish season coming around and its $4 million prize pool, the team is dedicated to continuing to fix performance and spectating issues.

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We've invited over 500 Fortnite community creators and competitors and divided them into 5 distinct Clubs. Each player will represent one of these Clubs for the entire 6 weeks of Fall Skirmish. Clubs will be awarded points for each weekly trial and high skill event based on their members' performances. In addition to awarding players with prizes for each event, Clubs will be awarded with $4,000,000 in prizes at the conclusion of the Fall Skirmish series based on total points earned.

Discussion

Some Intel Chipset Production Rolled Back to 22nm

In a highly unusual move, Intel is allegedly rolling back the production of some of their chipsets to 22nm. Earlier this year, Intel suspended H310 chipset production due to 14nm production troubles, while other sites reported that Intel was outsourcing some chipsets to TSMC's 14nm node. But mydrivers.com claims that Intel is manufacturing the "H310C" chipset on their own 22nm node. Photos of the H310C chipset suggest it is significantly larger than the H310, and the website claims it will feature support for Windows 7, which is likely an effort to appeal to the Chinese market.

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The new respin is expected to replace the older chip on the newer process (confusing, I know) eventually. It's not clear how widespread this move is, or if Intel will take similar action with other chipsets that it builds. Intel has never stated how much of its factory floor is devoted to manufacturing specific hardware, but chipset manufacturing should be a relatively small percentage of the total compared with CPUs, particularly given the size of some of Intel's largest CPU cores. One thing to keep in mind is that these plans would have been put in place months ago. The news might be new, but the timeline isn't - this has always been part of Intel's plan to deal with its own 14nm capacity shortage given how long it takes to ramp a part on a different node.

Discussion

RIAA Releases 2018 Mid-Year Music Industry Revenue Report

RIAA market research has compiled a revenue report for the music industry in the first half of 2018. Some of the more interesting statistics include revenue from streaming music climbing 28% year over year (YOY) to $3.4 billion for the first half of 2018. Streaming music now accounts for 75% of the U.S. music industry revenue! This number includes revenue from paid subscriptions like Tidal, digital radio stations like Pandora, and ad-supported streaming services like YouTube and Spotify.

Paid subscriptions not only grew to $2.5 billion, but they now account for over 75% of the streaming music revenue as consumers now find more value in paid subscriptions. The paid subscription sector grew 48% to 46.4 million subscribers in the first half of 2018. Overall total revenue in the industry as a whole grew 10% to $4.6 billion in the first half of 2018.

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Despite far few users, subscription streaming vastly out performed ad-supported revenues. Shipments of physical products decreased 25% to $462 million in 1H 2018, a higher rate of decline than in recent years. Revenues from CDs fell by 41% in the first half of the year, more than offsetting a 13% increase in revenues from sales of vinyl albums. Revenues from shipments of physical products made up 10% of the industry total in 1H 2018.

Discussion

Intels Adds 1.5TB Capacity to Optane 905P

The PCIe and U.2 versions of the Intel Optane 905P SSD just got a capacity bump to 1.5TB. Just like the 960GB version of the drive, the new SSD can do 575K random read IOPS and 550K write IOPS, and has an I/O latency of under 11 microseconds. There's no word on whether the M.2 version of the drive will get a 1.5TB version as well.

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Intel didn't reveal pricing for the new drives and we haven't seen them at e-tail yet. We can, however, do some back-of-the-envelope math. Newegg has the 960-GB Optane SSD 905P for $1200. Assuming linear scaling, that would put the new 1.5-TB version at around $1800. Likewise, since the 480-GB U.2 unit sells for $550, we figure that the 960-GB take on that form factor should command somewhere around $1100, while the 1.5-TB version should go for $1750.

Discussion

Sony Adds Offline Downloads to Playstation Now

Following in the footsteps of services like EA Access and Xbox Game Pass, Playstation 4 users can now download PS4 and PS2 games to their consoles using Playstation Now. Sony launched Playstation Now as a subscription game streaming service in 2017, with a number of PS4, PS3 and PS2 titles available, and was rumored to be testing a download feature earlier this year. Sony says "almost all PS4 games" are supported, and that subscribers can play the games offline, as long as they briefly connect the PS4 to the internet "every few days."

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If you've already started a game via streaming on PS Now and want to continue playing locally on your PS4, you can transfer your save file from the PS Now cloud to your console with a PS Plus membership (sold separately). This is done by transferring the save file from the PS Now cloud to your PS Plus cloud storage, then transferring it from the PS Plus cloud storage to your PS4 system.

Discussion

Samsung Expected to Slow Memory Chip Output to Maintain Market Pricing

According to sources, Samsung has decided to slow memory chip output to create more market demand. This in turn will keep prices high or possibly even drive them up higher as the corporation seeks to maintain its bit growth projections of 20% for DRAM and 40% for Nand in 2018. If Samsung continues to produce chips at its current pace, the estimated growth projections would have dropped to less than 20% for DRAM and only 30% for Nand flash memory. With only 3 major memory manufacturers left in the sector, this will inevitably raise the price of similar products at SK Hynix Inc. and Micron Technology Inc.

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"If Samsung does cut its DRAM bit growth, it shows the company is happy with the current oligopoly market structure," said Anthea Lai, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong. "It prefers keeping supply tight and prices high, rather than taking market share and risking lower prices, therefore chances for DRAM prices to stay strong is higher." Bit growth, which refers to the amount of memory produced, is a key barometer for gauging market demand.

Discussion

Net Captures Orbital Debris

The US Space Surveillance Network estimates that there are over 7500 tons of "space junk" in orbit, representing a significant hazard to future missions, which is why a large consortium is working on cleaning it up. On September 16, the aptly named RemoveDEBRIS satellite successfully captured a piece of orbital debris with a net. The researchers behind the project say it was the first demonstration of active debris removal technology in human history, and that this was the culmination of 6 years of testing. Vision-based navigation, harpoons, and drag nets to deorbit objects are to be tested in the coming months. Check out the footage of RemoveDEBRIS's net capturing some junk below:

Professor Guglielmo Aglietti, Director of the Surrey Space Centre, said: "We are absolutely delighted with the outcome of the net technology. While it might sound like a simple idea, the complexity of using a net in space to capture a piece of debris took many years of planning, engineering and coordination between the Surrey Space Centre, Airbus and our partners - but there is more work to be done. These are very exciting times for us all."

Discussion

Twitch Streaming Service Has Been Blocked in China

Twitch has been blocked in China after Chinese citizens flocked to the free streaming service to watch the Asian Games. Due to state broadcaster CCTV's complete lack of coverage of the event, Twitch became the third most popular app in the iOS App Store in China. Even though Chinese esports players brought home two gold medals, it is speculated that the Chinese government may have been upset at the number of Chinese viewers trash talking South Korean viewers in Twitch chat. I wonder how Valve's Steam Store, which is already partially blocked in China, and its DOTA 2 tournaments will be received in the future as Shanghai has been chosen as the host city for The International 2019.

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Twitch’s disappearance has caused quite a bit of an uproar online in China. A Chinese netizen said the shutdown is a crackdown on free speech: "All things that don’t jive with Xi Jinping Thoughts will be blocked." If it is a crackdown, it puts Twitch in elite company: Facebook, Google and YouTube are all banned in China, along with Reddit, which was recently blocked.

Discussion

Thursday September 20, 2018

NVIDIA PR States OC Scanner does NOT Void your RTX Warranty

We were told earlier today by NVIDIA support that its OC Scanner tool would void our RTX card's warranty. We did reach out to verify with NVIDIA PR, and they have specifically told us that its yet-to-be-released OC Scanner tool will not void your warranty.

Hi, this is not true. It does not void the warranty. We will have our support team clarify.

Ongoing Discussion

Adored's RTX 2080 Ti Review Roundup and Analysis

Jim "The Scottish Hammer" from AdoredTV gives us his thoughts about what all just happened with NVIDIA and its new RTX GPUS.

Discussion

NVIDIA Scanner Voids Your RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti Warranty

Talking to NVIDIA support about using the NVIDIA Scanner overclocking tool for the new RTX cards, NVIDIA support did suggest that using NVIDIA Scanner was "not recommended," and it would invalidate my RTX 2080 warranty. It also suggested that EVGA developed Scanner, and not NVIDIA, however we all know that is not true. This is much in the same vein as AMD Precision Boost Overdrive, that will also invalidate your warranty. Not exactly huge breaking news, but I did think this was worth noting, as a lot tinfoil hat folks have suggested that NVIDIA driver telemetry could be tracking this, which might be an issue if you purchased the cards directly from NVIDIA. On a Win 10 system, you can open up Task Scheduler and disable all NVIDIA items that are scheduled to turn off those telemetry callbacks.

UPDATE - 7:22PM: We reached out to NVIDIA PR, which has not answered any of our questions lately due to us not signing its NDA, but it did react to this headline.

Hi, this is not true. It does not void the warranty.

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Discussion

Angry Birds FPS: First Person Slingshot Is Coming to the Magic Leap One

Angry Birds FPS: First Person Slingshot is a new game for the Magic Leap One Creator's Edition AR headset that was developed in partnership with the AR/VR studio Resolution Games and Rovio Entertainment. Head-tracking and the ability to use the Magic Leap One's controller as a bow adds immersion to the game. The characters in the game fall off surfaces in the user's home and interact with them if they get close. Explosives are hidden on the backside of the structures in the game to encourage movement around the play area.

The Magic Leap headset went on sale in August in a half-dozen U.S. cities for $2,295 a pop. Magic Leap hasn't announced how many of the units have sold, but has said they're deliberately targeting what they call "creators," be they game makers, artists, designers, programmers, or alt-reality aficionados. The decision to release a major "Angry Bird" game on such a limited-release, expensive piece of hardware seems to fly in the face of the game's origin, which saw the game hit 4 billion downloads since its 2009 release thanks in part to how easy it was to get.

Discussion

The NCIX Data Breach

NCIX customer and employee data is allegedly available for sale as data brokers have purchased the servers, cracked the passwords in less than 5 minutes and are selling volumes of confidential customer and employee data for tens of thousands of dollars. Every single credit card record, address, business name, email address, phone number, IP address and unsalted MD5 hashed passwords; literally everything was allegedly saved on the servers when the company went bankrupt. Even the data from the air-gapped servers, data that was considered so confidential extra steps were taken to secure it from the outside world, has been copied and cataloged for sale to foreign and domestic entities. 13TB of data here, another 3 million records there and Travis Doering of Privacy Fly hadn't even scratched the surface of the data available for sale.

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By this point I couldn't believe my eyes, the data I had seen today contained some the most damaging and extensive records I had ever come across covering at least seventeen years of business transitions. Data breaches by external actors are common in todays digital world but what makes this set of data so damaging is that it contains every record NCIX ever held. Including their backup files which had been kept in a segregated air gapped machine that regardless of skill level no external attacker would have plundered.

Discussion

Google Allows Apps to Scan Gmail Accounts and Freely Share Data with Others

Google has admitted in a letter to Congress that it still allows apps to data mine Gmail accounts, read emails, and share user data freely with others by using tools provided by Google. These tools allow 3rd party companies to access data about purchases, travel, family and friendship interactions. Employees at the app companies regularly read emails from Gmail accounts to create better software algorithms that ultimately choose better targeted ads.

"'Developers may share data with third parties so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data,' Susan Molinari, the company's vice president for public policy and government affairs for the Americas, wrote in the letter." Google already buys credit card data and location matches consumers to local purchases.

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Some of those apps share email data with partners, who use it to understand the behavior of users and improve their ability to target ads to them. When users sign up to Earny, a tool that compares receipts in inboxes to prices across the web, their inboxes are also scanned by the computers of a different company, Return Path Inc., which collects data for marketers.

Google's statement to Congress suggests that the company is fine with arrangements like these, as long as Earny tells users what is happening with their data. Return Path and Earny have both said they give users clear notice about the email monitoring. Earny's privacy policy states that Return Path would "have access to your information and will be permitted to use that information according to their own privacy policy."

Discussion

Nvidia Stock Falls Following Turing Reviews

Nvidia stock fell 2.6 percent on Thursday after Morgan Stanley called reviews for the new Turing gaming cards disappointing. Analyst Joseph Moore said "as review embargos broke for the new gaming products, performance improvements in older games is not the leap we had initially hoped for."

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"We are surprised that the 2080 is only slightly better than the 1080ti, which has been available for over a year and is slightly less expensive," he said. "With higher clock speeds, higher core count, and 40% higher memory bandwidth, we had expected a bigger boost." As a result he expects the adoption of Nvidia's new products to be "slower" and doesn't expect "much upside" from the company's gaming business in its next two financial quarters.

Discussion

Fixjeiphone NL Presents the World's First Teardown of the Apple iPhone XS

Fixjeiphone NL has performed the world's first tear down of the new iPhone XS. The article explains all of the parts inside of the smartphone and improvements made to the design in comparison to the iPhone X. Make sure to enable the English subtitles in the video.

Battery (capacity): we can indeed confirm that the iPhone Xs has 1 battery cell. The Xs battery has iPhone Xs batterya capacity of 2658 mAh. The striking thing is that the capacity of the battery is less than the iPhone X (has 2716 mAh), Apple indicates that the processor is more efficient so the battery life according to Apple about 30 minutes longer to go.

Discussion

Apple is Giving Users a Trust Score

Venture Beat reports that Apple is giving its users "trust scores" based on how they use their devices. The updated privacy policy says that calls and emails will be used to determine the score. An Apple correspondent told Venture Beat that the system is intended to fight iTunes fraud, and that the only data it receives is a numeric score.

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"To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase. The submissions are designed so Apple cannot learn the real values on your device. The scores are stored for a fixed time on our servers." This provision is unusual for a few reasons, perhaps the least of which is that Apple TVs don't make phone calls or send emails. As such, it's unclear how Apple computes the device trust score for iTunes purchases made through Apple TVs, but there's other potential "information about how you use your device" that could be scraped and abstracted.

Discussion

Nvidia DLSS Analysis

Eurogamer posted an analysis of Nvidia's DLSS tech found in their Turing graphics cards, and the results are interesting. DLSS does boost game performance significantly in some cases, while still providing good image quality. The author points out that Final Fantasy 15 ships with a particularly blurry temporal AA implementation, and running DLSS instead provides a image quality boost in some areas. Check on the screenshots comparisons on Eurogamer's website, or watch video below:

The Infiltrator demo also serves to highlight that the performance boost offered by DLSS is not always uniform - it's not a straight 35-40 per cent uplift throughout. The demo features a number of close-up scenes that stress the GPU via an insanely expensive depth of field effect that almost certainly causes extreme bandwidth issues for the hardware. However, because the base resolution is so much lower, the bandwidth 'crash' via DLSS is far less pronounced. On a particular close-up, the DLSS result sees the scene play out over three times faster than the standard, native resolution TAA version of the same content. But has Nvidia truly managed to equal native quality? For the most part, it passes muster and inaccuracies and detail issues are only truly noticeable when conducting direct side-by-side comparisons - but we did note that in the demo's climactic zoom-out to show the high detail city, the lower base resolution does have an impact on the quality of the final image. Is it likely to distract a user playing the game and not conducting detailed side-by-side comparisons? Highly unlikely.

Discussion


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