[H] Enthusiast Archives: July 2016 Archive Listing

Sunday July 31, 2016

How Different Camera Lenses Can Make You Look Fatter

I’m underweight, so going with a much longer focal length is a no-brainer for me—but really, it seems like a bad idea to do portraiture with anything shorter than a 50mm lens. Less distortion aside, longer lenses let you shoot farther away from your subject, which generally makes them much more comfortable.

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There’s a combination of factors that make you look fat. The focal length of the camera can flatten out a person’s features thus making them look much bigger in comparison. Barrel distortion—that is, when straight lines look like they’re curving out because of the nature of the lens—can also make a person’s face look more plump than usual.


U.S. Government Says SMS Codes Aren’t Safe

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has declared that SMS is dangerous for two-factor authentication. One reason they give is that SMS is linked to a SIM, which can be compromised by manipulating carriers. Suitable alternatives would include hardware (dongles) or software (apps) solutions that generate unique keys.

The goal of a 2FA system is to help guarantee that the person logging in with your password is actually you rather than a hacker who has guessed or stolen your password, or recovered it by cracking the passwords in a password dump from a hacked web site. "Two factor" refers to the fact that the system uses more than one way of verifying your identity – the password is the first factor, and the SMS code is one way of providing a second factor. There are several problems with SMS-based systems that led NIST to decide that SMS-based systems are insecure.


Fan-Made "StarCraft" MMO

Check out this trailer for StarCraft Universe. Don’t you think this looks insanely well made for a fan project? Interestingly, Blizzard isn’t shutting this one down.

The tale of StarCraft Universe goes way back to 2011, when a group of modders headed by Ryan Winzen announced that they'd made a mod for StarCraft II that turned the real-time strategy game into a MMO kind of like that other game of Blizzard's with orcs and purple elves. Appropriately enough, they even called it World of StarCraft. Blizzard bristled, and within hours YouTube pulled Winzen's videos showing his progress. In the uproar, League of Legends developer Riot even offered Winzen to apply for a position at the studio.


Apollo Astronauts Dying Of Heart Disease At 4-5x The Rate Of Counterparts

Here is more bad news for would-be astronauts; ionizing radiation in deep space may greatly increase the chances of cardiovascular disease. While the study only queried 77 astronauts, experiments with mice suggest that radiation damages blood vessels, bringing about heart attacks and strokes.

…Delp and coauthors compared health data on 42 astronauts that had traveled into space—seven of which got past the magnetosphere and to the Moon—to the medical records of 35 astronauts that were grounded for their careers. The death rate from cardiovascular disease among the Apollo lunar astronauts was a whopping 43 percent, which is around four to five times the rate seen in the non-fliers and low-fliers (nine and 11 percent, respectively).


Amazon's Next Noise-Canceling Headphones Could Turn Off When Someone Yells Your Name

I’m not sure why these are being touted for safety purposes—last time I checked, bicyclists or cars don’t give you predefined cues before hitting you, nor would you have time to react if they did. These headphones only seem to be of benefit to your significant other or co-worker who wants to get your attention from a distance.

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Amazon might be working on the first headphones that can save lives. The company was just awarded a patent on July 19 for a noise-canceling headphone that automatically clicks off when it "hears" certain sound patterns, frequencies and even keywords like a name. The feature would allow the wearer to instantly tune back into his or her surroundings, and hopefully get out of the way of oncoming traffic. A diagram in the patent application filed on July 25, 2014 shows an array of microphones built into the ear pads. I assume those could be used to listen to ambient sounds, similar to the way the Amazon Echo's Alexa is always aware of vocal prompts spoken around her. The description even talks about training the microphones to listen for a two-part audio command like "Hey Justin!"


Skydiver Sets Record For Highest Jump Without Parachute

This guy must have balls of steel. Not only did he voluntarily jump out of a plane without a parachute, his survival hinged on landing in an area a third the size of a football field.

Luke Aikins on Saturday became the first skydiver to jump from a plane without a parachute or wingsuit and live to tell the story. In a stunt called, "Heaven Sent," the 42-year-old daredevil leaped 25,000 feet to Earth –- setting the world record for the highest jump. To accomplish this feat, Aikins had to direct his body in free fall using only the air currents around him to land safely on the high-tech 10,000-square-foot net (about a third the size of a football field) laid out to catch him. The jump was aired live on television via the Fox network during an hour-long special. Aikins fell for about two minutes above the California desert, appearing to soar effortlessly, arms extended, face downward. And as he neared the ground, with a mere second to go, he expertly flipped onto his back and landed without incident.


Saturday July 30, 2016

Tesla Faults Brakes, But Not Autopilot, In Fatal Crash

Tesla has insisted to the Senate that its autopilot functions are innocent and that blame should be diverted to the car’s braking systems, but no one seems to be buying it because the latter is obviously controlled by the former.

"Those systems are supposed to work together to prevent an accident," said Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, an auto research firm. "But either the car didn’t know it had to stop, or it did know and wasn’t able to stop. That involves Autopilot and the automatic braking." The company told the committee staff that it considered the braking systems as "separate and distinct" from Autopilot, which manages the car’s steering, and can change lanes and adjust travel speed, the staff member said.


Lenovo Finally Shipping X1 Yoga OLED Laptop

Remember when we saw all of those OLED laptops being shown off at CES in January? I thought they became vaporware because manufacturers basically went silent, but courtesy of Lenovo, they do exist and you can get your hands on one now.

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Fixing Dead Pixels On Your PC Monitor Or Smartphone

Have any of you ever managed to actually revive or "unstick" a bad (dead/stuck) pixel? Both software (flashing the screen) and physical (applying pressure to the screen) "solutions" have never, ever worked for me, so I am really curious if this stuff is just wishful thinking.

The window will start flashing multiple colors very quickly (epileptics take care). Leave it on for half an hour or so, and then check the pixel again. Try this a few times to see if it works. This is the common method when attempting to resuscitate a pixel, and that’s actually a very apt word, because it’s not unlike a defibrillation. You’re essentially trying to shock the pixel back to life, into a proper response that will have it acting as it should. And like defibrillation, it’s a desperate move that may or may not work. It’s more likely to work on a stuck pixel that shows signs of life than a dead pixel which may stay unresponsive.


HBO Confirms "Game Of Thrones" Will End With Season 8

As someone who still hasn’t seen a single episode of Game of Thrones yet—is this bad news, or something that should be celebrated?

The executive also confirmed that yes, the plan is for the yet-to-be announced eighth season of the adaptation of George R.R. Martin's fantasy drama to be its last. "Yes, I think [the showrunners, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff] have a very specific plan about the number of seasons they want to do," Bloys said. "If I could get them to do more, I would take 10 seasons but we want to take their lead with what they could do and what the best version of the show is." HBO most recently renewed the drama for a shortened seventh season — consisting of seven episodes — and producers have noted that they envision a total of 75 episodes of the series as a whole. Through season six, the show has produced 60 episodes.


Xbox Summer Update Is Rolling Out

A big update for Xbox One is debuting this weekend, with long-awaited features that include background audio. Cortana is also now available so you can navigate the console with voice commands, and the UI has finally been updated to show you better progress of game installation and download rates.

The latest system update for Xbox One and the Xbox app starts rolling out this weekend, continuing our commitment to give gamers more choice in how and where they play. Cortana is now on Xbox One, Background Music will be available through music apps like Pandora, we’re bringing the most played PC games to Xbox Live with their own Game Hubs and we’re starting to combine the best of the Xbox Store and Windows Store for a single cohesive experience across devices.


Chernobyl Could Be Reinvented As A Solar Farm

The Ukrainian government said more than 1,000MW of solar and 400MW of other renewable energy could be generated if the plan to transform Chernobyl comes to fruition. The original plant, which resulted in the world’s worst nuclear accident, had an installed capacity of around 4,000MW.

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In a presentation sent to major banks and seen by the Guardian, 6,000 hectares of "idle" land in Chernobyl’s 1,000 square km exclusion zone, which is considered too dangerous for people to live in or farm, could be turned to solar, biogas and heat and power generation. Pressure has been mounting for years to allow industrial development, but no indication is given of where the solar panels would be located. "There has been a change in the perception of the exclusion zone in Ukraine. Thirty years after the Chernobyl tragedy [it] reveals opportunities for development. A special industrial area is to be created in compliance with all rules and regulations of radiation safety within the exclusion zone," says the presentation.