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The Spying Condom With Full Telemetry Is Here!

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 10:15 AM PST

Finally, the invention I wanted all my life has come to pass:

"A British company has released the first pictures of a 'smart condom' which collects very intimate data about the sex life of anyone brave enough to wear it.

The device is called the i.Con and can detect STIs as well as sending data about a sex session straight to the wearer's smartphone.

British Condoms said its 'revolutionary wearable tech for the bedroom' measures the number of calories burned during intercourse, the speed of a man's thrusts, how long he lasts and even what positions are used.

The condom firm said its invention would help men see how they 'stack up to other people from around the world'."

[...] The smart condom is a small band which fits around the bottom of a man's willy, which means wearers will still need to strap on a normal condom to get full protection.

It is waterproof and features a band that's 'extraordinarily flexible to ensure maximum comfort for all sizes'.

Bizarrely, it even lights up to provide illumination for both partners' nether regions.

Now, we can all compete in the Direct International Comparison Kinetics. Hooray. ;)


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Google to Add Swift Language Support to Fuchsia OS

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 08:42 AM PST

Google will contribute changes to Apple's Swift programming language, and will support the language in the Fuchsia OS, a presumed replacement for Android, ChromeOS, etc. that is designed to work on all devices:

Fuchsia is Google's not-at-all-but-kind-of-secret operating system that's being developed in the open, but with almost zero official messaging about what it's for, or what it's built to replace. (Android? Chrome OS? Both? Neither?) The operating system's core is written in mostly C and C++, with Dart for the default "Flutter" UI, but other languages like Go, Rust, Python, and now Swift have also found a home in the project.

Of course, just because you'll be able to compile Swift to run on Fuchsia doesn't mean you'll be able to instantly port any iOS app to Google's new OS when or if it ships. While Apple has open sourced the Swift language itself, much of the iOS platform (like the UI stuff, for instance) is closed source, so code that relies on those closed Apple libraries won't be portable.

One possible future in a world where Fuchsia is an important and relevant platform for apps is that you write the "core logic" of your app in your language of choice — Swift, Go, Rust, JavaScript, etc. — and then you build a custom UI for each platform — Android, iOS, Fuchsia, Linux, Windows, the web — using the appropriate tools for each.

Also at Android Police.

Previously: Google's New Non-Linux OS: Fuchsia
Google's Not-So-Secret New OS
Google Fuchsia UI Previewed

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Verizon to Launch 5G in Up to Five Cities by the End of 2018

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 07:09 AM PST

Verizon will launch "5G" wireless service in three to five cities by the end of next year, starting with Sacramento, California:

Verizon is getting closer to releasing its first commercial 5G network, with the company announcing today that it plans on launching 5G in three to five cities by the end of next year. The rollout starts with Sacramento, California sometime in the second half of 2018.

Verizon press release.

Related: 5G Draft Technical Requirements Announced
Intel Announces Development of 5G Modems (Due in 2019)

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American Airlines Glitch Gives Too Many Pilots Vacation Time

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 05:36 AM PST

A glitch in American Airlines Group's scheduling system has given too many pilots time off during the busy holiday season in mid-late December. The airline may be forced to pay pilots more to show up:

American Airlines Group Inc. is rushing to resolve a scheduling fault that gave time off to too many pilots in December -- a flaw that has left more than 15,000 flights without sufficient crew during the holiday rush, according to a union for the carrier's pilots.

The Allied Pilots Association estimated the number of affected flights, from Dec. 17 to Dec. 31, based on information provided by the carrier, said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the union. American spokesman Matt Miller declined to quantify the potential number of flights involved, saying the airline expects to correct the problem in time to prevent service disruptions.

"We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season," Miller said. The number of flights involved will decline each day as the carrier reassigns them, he said.

The computer-system problem will force American to rebuild its staffing schedule, similar to what airlines must do after major weather disruptions, said John Cox, chief executive officer of consultant Safety Operating Systems and a former commercial airline pilot. Revenue will take a hit if American has to scrub many flights. At a minimum, the carrier is likely to face higher labor costs just as investors are stepping up scrutiny of airline expenses.

Also at Wired and Reuters.

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Android Co-Founder Andy Rubin Left Google in 2014 Due to an "Inappropriate Relationship"

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 04:03 AM PST

Andy Rubin has taken a leave of absence from Essential Products following the disclosure of the circumstances of his departure from Google:

Essential founder and CEO Andy Rubin has taken a leave of absence from his new company for "personal reasons" following a report on the circumstances of his 2014 departure from Google. According to The Information, Rubin left Google shortly after an investigation found that he had maintained an "inappropriate relationship" with a woman who worked under him and filed a complaint to HR.

The nature of that relationship isn't detailed in the report, and Rubin's spokesperson Mike Sitrick denies the connection. "Any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual," Sitrick tells The Information. "Mr. Rubin was never told by Google that he engaged in any misconduct while at Google and he did not, either while at Google or since." Rubin is said to have told Essential employees of his leave of absence on Monday after The Information informed Sitrick of its story.

The Information's information about the matter is not extensive. Here is the important paragraph:

Google initiated its investigation after an employee complained to the company's Human Resources division about her relationship with Mr. Rubin, according to three people familiar with the matter. The people declined to elaborate on the specific nature of the woman's complaint against Mr. Rubin.

Essential Products released a high-end Android smartphone in May and will release a "smart" speaker later this year.

Also at Engadget, 9to5Google, and Fast Company.

Update: Here is Essential's Bi-weekly AMA where they basically assured users that the company is still operating, business as usual.

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FDA Approves First Medical Device Accessory for the Apple Watch

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 02:28 AM PST

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an EKG reader medical device accessory for the Apple Watch:

Up until now, AliveCor has used the KardiaMobile device, which was stuck to the back of your smartphone and paired with an app to detect abnormal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation (AFib). The new Apple Watch accessory, Kardiaband, clicks into a slot on the Watch band to do the same thing.

However, rather than needing to hold your smartphone with both hands for 30 seconds to get a reading, you can get an EKG reading continuously and discreetly just by touching the band's integrated sensor.

[...] EKGs are usually only available in offices and hospitals — and only after a life-threatening event. Having one on your wrist that you can use to check your heart and then send a readout straight to your doctor is vital to prevention of a heart attack or stroke. And, as Gundotra also points out, "It's not possible to diagnose atrial fibrillation without FDA clearance. That is a big, big play."

It's worth noting Apple could easily replicate what AliveCor is doing. It has all the right equipment within the Apple Watch and the manpower to do so. However, it doesn't seem likely Apple would want to go through the hassle of FDA approval for the Watch, which is a general purpose device used for numerous other applications besides getting your heart rate.

Also at CNET and Fast Company.

Update: Apple launched a study to look for irregular heart rhythms on the Apple Watch (just as feared)

Previously: Apple Watch Could be Used to Detect Hypertension and Sleep Apnea

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Army and NSA Top Secret Information Exposed by Misconfigured AWS "Bucket"

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:56 AM PST

A contractor misconfigured an Amazon Web Services storage "bucket", exposing top secret information from the U.S. Army's Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM):

UpGuard's director of cyber risk research, Chris Vickery, discovered the publicly accessible S3 storage "bucket" on September 27 in the AWS subdomain "inscom." INSCOM is the US Army's Intelligence and Security Command, the Army's internal operational intelligence branch based at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. INSCOM is also integrated into the National Security Agency's Central Security Service—connecting the Army's signals intelligence operations to the NSA.

The public bucket was accessible via the Web and had "47 viewable files and folders in the main repository, three of which were also downloadable," UpGuard reported in a blog post today. The largest downloadable file was an Open Virtual Appliance file named "ssdev.ova," which contained a virtual hard drive and configuration data for a Red Hat Linux-based virtual machine. "While the virtual OS and HD can be browsed in their functional states, most of the data cannot be accessed without connecting to Pentagon systems—an intrusion that malicious actors could have attempted had they found this bucket," UpGuard's research team noted.

Still, the contents of the virtual hard drive itself were highly sensitive. Some of the files were marked as "Top Secret/NOFORN"—meaning that they were not to be shared even with US allies. Metadata on the virtual drive shows that "the box was worked on in some capacity by a now-defunct third-party defense contractor named Invertix, a known INSCOM partner," including private encryption keys used for hashed passwords and for accessing DCGS that belonged to Invertix system administrators.

Also at Techdirt, TechCrunch, and The Next Web.

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NASA's Kilopower Project Testing a Nuclear Stirling Engine

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 11:24 PM PST

A NASA project will test a small nuclear fission power system that could provide kilowatts or megawatts of power for space missions:

In preparing for possible missions to the Red Planet in the near future, NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has been given the go-ahead to test a small nuclear reactor that could one day run equipment on the Martian surface.

The Kilopower project[PDF] is working to advance a design for a compact, low-cost, and scalable nuclear fission power system for missions that require lots of power, such as a human mission to Mars. The technology uses a fission reactor with a uranium-235 reactor core to generate heat, which is then transferred via passive sodium heat pipes to Stirling engines. Those engines use that heat to create pressure, which moves a piston – much as old coal-powered ships used steam pressure to run their pistons. When coupled to an alternator, the Stirling engine produces electricity.

"What we are striving to do is give space missions an option beyond RTGs [radioisotope thermoelectric generators], which generally provide a couple hundred watts or so," Lee Mason, STMD's principal technologist for Power and Energy Storage at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a NASA news release. "The big difference between all the great things we've done on Mars, and what we would need to do for a human mission to that planet, is power."

Mason said the new technology could provide kilowatts of power and even be upgraded to provide hundreds of kilowatts or even megawatts of power. "We call it the Kilopower project because it gives us a near-term option to provide kilowatts for missions that previously were constrained to use less," Mason said. "But first things first, and our test program is the way to get started."

Stirling engine.

Also at World Nuclear News.

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NAFTA's Digital Trade Chapter Could Be Finalized Next Month

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:52 PM PST

NAFTA's Digital Trade chapter could be finalized next month all before the public has seen a single word of it. The fifth round of re-negotiations for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) finished last week in Mexico and the Digital Trade section might be forced through, unseen by the public, during the next round on December 11th in Washington, DC.

The fifth round of negotiations over a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) wound up last week in Mexico. Following conclusion of the round, Mexican Trade Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters that he hoped that the next round, to be held in Washington, DC in the week of 11 December, could see sufficient progress made that the agreement's Digital Trade chapter could be closed... all before the public has seen a single word of it.

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"Desert Bus" Gets a VR Edition and is Now Free

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 08:20 PM PST

The world's slowest, most boring bus simulator finally has a VR version

After roughly 22 years, one of the worst video games of all time, Desert Bus, finally has a sequel. In very good news for anybody who hears "notorious game's sequel" and flinches, this new take, dubbed Desert Bus VR, is now completely free to own for PC gamers, whether they own a virtual reality headset or not.

[...] The original Desert Bus would have launched in the mid-'90s as a mini-game tucked into Penn & Teller: Smoke & Mirrors, a comedy-minded Sega CD game that never saw an official commercial launch. Years later, the finished game leaked as a download, which meant fans could finally see its many weird mini-games, including this dreadfully boring bus simulator. The latter has since been popularized by the Canadian comedy troupe Loading Ready Run, whose annual "Desert Bus For Hope" campaign raises charitable donations by live-streaming actual Desert Bus gameplay for hours on end.

Comedian Penn Jillette appears in this VR version via narration, where he describes the original '90s game as a reaction to former US Attorney General Janet Reno's claim that video games were "murder simulators." To mock her claim, he and the original game's design team simulated the monotony and boredom of driving a giant, empty bus down a straight road for hours at a time. The game is tuned so that it requires playing the same amount of time it would take to drive from Las Vegas to Tucson, Arizona, at roughly 40mph. (If you're wondering, that's about eight hours.)

Desert Bus For Hope.

Also at Engadget and Road to VR.

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Waymo Reaches 4 Million Autonomously-Driven Miles

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 06:48 PM PST

Waymo racks up 4 million self-driven miles

Waymo continues to press its lead in terms of actual miles driven on roads, which is potentially the most important metric out there when it comes to building successful autonomous driving technology. The Alphabet-owned company that began life as Google's self-driving car project around a decade ago now has 4 million miles driven autonomously on roads.

That 4 million miles represents the self-driving effort of Waymo's entire test fleet, covering its original autonomous vehicles all the way up to its current driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which are actually now testing on Arizona public roads, right alongside everyday human drivers, with no safety driver behind the wheel at all.

In simulations, Waymo's bots have driven 2.5 billion "virtual miles".

Also at The Verge.

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Bacteria Can Record Data Using Modified CRISPR System

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 05:17 PM PST

World's Smallest "Tape Recorder" Is Built From Microbes

Through a few clever molecular hacks, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have converted a natural bacterial immune system into a microscopic data recorder, laying the groundwork for a new class of technologies that use bacterial cells for everything from disease diagnosis to environmental monitoring.

The researchers modified an ordinary laboratory strain of the ubiquitous human gut microbe Escherichia coli, enabling the bacteria to not only record their interactions with the environment but also time-stamp the events.

"Such bacteria, swallowed by a patient, might be able to record the changes they experience through the whole digestive tract, yielding an unprecedented view of previously inaccessible phenomena," says Harris Wang, assistant professor in the Departments of Pathology & Cell Biology and Systems Biology at CUMC and senior author on the new work, described in today's issue of Science. Other applications could include environmental sensing and basic studies in ecology and microbiology, where bacteria could monitor otherwise invisible changes without disrupting their surroundings.

It seems to be capable of recording chemical data, or perhaps something like exposure to light (allowing you to figure out how many times an office light is switched on, perhaps). It's a potential future surveillance tool.

Video (1m27s).

Multiplex recording of cellular events over time on CRISPR biological tape (DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0958) (DX)

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Pornhub's First Store has a Livestreaming Bed Camera, of Course

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 03:44 PM PST

Pop-up stores are all the rage, but Pornhub's shop in New York City is offering something... unique. If you visit its just-opened location on 70 Wooster Street, you'll see a bed with a camera that livestreams directly to the porn giant's website. No, you can't get away with what normally happens on a bed at Pornhub, but you are encouraged to "interact" with the camera. And let's be honest: this is probably your best shot at appearing live on a porn site without having to explain a surprise career move.

The store itself (which, unsurprisingly, is adults-only) is also notable as Pornhub's retail debut. And it's mostly about fashion. You'll see some sex toys and "aphrodisiac herbs," but most of the wares are either self-branded clothing or apparel from Pornhub's partners. The company knowingly set up shop next to high fashion brands, in fact. While no one would confuse the porn purveyor with its haute couture neighbors, the company clearly wants to be taken seriously.

If you're curious enough to step inside, the New York pop-up will be open until December 20th. There will also be a "holiday-themed" store in Milan, Italy before long.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/11/25/pornhub-store-includes-livestreaming-bed-camera/

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SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 02:11 PM PST

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) believes that SpaceX will realize significant cost savings with reusable boosters (archive) without needing to launch them ten times each — as bitter SpaceX competitor United Launch Alliance asserts:

Gerd Gruppe, a member of DLR's executive board and responsible for DLR's space program, said the agency has concluded that SpaceX is on the verge of realizing the savings it has promised from reusing first stages. "With 20 launches a year the Falcon 9 uses around 200 engines, and while their cost of refurbishment is unknown, we think SpaceX is well on the way to establishing a competitive system based on the reusability" of the rocket's first stage, Gruppe said here Oct. 24 at the Space Tech Expo conference.

Not everyone is so sure. Leslie Kovacs, executive branch director at United Launch Alliance (ULA), said ULA has concluded that SpaceX needs to refly Falcon 9 first stages 10 times each to make reusability pay. "The question of reusability is not a technical problem. It boils down to an economic problem," Kovacs siad here Oct. 24. "Our internal analysis shows that if you are going to do that [reuse the first stage], the break-even point is about 10 times. You have to bring back that first stage 10 times for it to be economically beneficial for you."

Meanwhile, SpaceX has thrown the future of the European commercial launch provider Arianespace into doubt. Although Arianespace plans to launch its cheaper Ariane 6 rocket in 2020, it may not be able to compete with SpaceX's reusable rockets even with European subsidies (which Germany is reluctant to provide):

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UK Age Verification Could Lead to a National Porn Habits Database

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 12:38 PM PST

UK age verification legislation will lead to a porn habit database (archive)

The country is eager to protect children from porn. It's a worthy goal, mind you, given that research shows that exposing kids to porn can be damaging. Unfortunately, it's a quixotic goal, given that porn is impossible to block. Nevertheless, the UK is now on the brink of creating a database of the country's porn habits.

It also seems poised to hand the age verification piece of that puzzle over to an outfit that Vice refers to as "the shady company that controls the majority of free porn tube sites." That company is called MindGeek. Vice likens it to the Walmart of porn. Britain's leading obscenity lawyer, Myles Jackman, says it supposedly owns about 90% of tube sites on the internet, and it didn't get that way by making friends in the industry.

[...] And now, MindGeek, the WalMart of porn, is getting ready to become even more filthy rich by having maneuvered itself into the position of becoming gatekeeper for consumers of porn, be they adults or kids who don't know how to use a virtual private network (VPN). It's not a done deal quite yet, but MindGeek has had several conversations with officials. It's also currently pushing its own age verification platform, AgeID. If selected, Britons could be dealing with AgeID as the principal gate between themselves and their porn.

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Forget Fast-Forwarding, Plex DVR Can Now Remove Commercials for You

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 11:05 AM PST

Over the years, Plex has grown from a relatively simple home media server into an all-in-one entertainment powerhouse. Notable feature additions include streaming personalized news, the ability to operate entirely in the cloud instead of on your server, and a full-fledged DVR. Now that DVR has gotten even more powerful, adding a new feature to automatically remove commercials, which was spotted by Cord Cutters News.

The feature was added in an update the Plex team pushed out over the weekend. While most of the update was focused on fixing bugs, this new feature was also included. You'll need to manually enable the feature by heading into your Plex DVR settings and finding the option, labeled "Remove Commercials."

You may not want to turn the feature on immediately without looking into reports from other users. The description in the settings warns that while the feature will attempt to automatically locate and remove commercials, this could potentially take a long time and cause high CPU usage. If you're running your Plex server on a powerful computer, this may not be an issue, but if you're running it on an old laptop, you might want to hold off.

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/plex-dvr-removes-commercials/

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