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A 48Khz Digital Music Player for the Commodore 64

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 10:17 AM PDT

As readers of these pages know, I've always been obsessed with audio and video compression for humble machines. My game Planet Golf for the Commodore 64 even includes Full Motion Video running from a floppy disk. The problem with this stuff, though, is that, as much as it's interesting to see these experiments run on such a limited piece of HW, and as much as it feels like an achievement to the programmer, that doesn't change their gimmicky nature. In other words, let's be honest, no person in their right frame of mind would waste a second of their time listening to those scratchy sounds, unless deafened by unconditional love for the machine. Spoiled as we are with high quality sound coming from all kinds of devices around us, poor Commodore 64 cannot be our to-go solution for our aural pleasure.

Or can it?


To build a C64 software player that can play a whole song at 48Khz (higher frequency than CDs' 44.1Khz) using a stock Commodore 64 and a regular ROM cartridge, which is your typical 80s setup.

Now, there are all kinds of devilish pieces of hardware available for your Commodore 64 nowadays, such as 16Mb RAM Expansion Units, or even mp3 hardware players. Of course, this stuff was not around in the 80s, and it therefore does not appeal to purists. In other words, any reliance on these monstrosities would get me disqualified. You might as well run a marathon riding a motorbike. The largest "legitimate" ROM Cartridges are those that Ocean used for their games. You can store a whopping one megabyte of data onto them. We are going to need all of it!

Original URL: https://brokenbytes.blogspot.com/2018/03/a-48khz-digital-music-player-for.html

-- submitted from IRC

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Timothy Lu Seeks to Combat Diseases by Combining Biology With Computer Science

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 08:33 AM PDT

Synthetic biology is the study of the interdisciplinary fields of engineering and biology. It was described by the UK Royal Society as "an emerging area of research that can broadly be described as the design and construction of novel artificial biological pathways, organisms or devices, or the redesign of existing natural biological systems."


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Facebook Keeps Unposted Videos

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 07:00 AM PDT

Ever change your mind while composing a video to post on Facebook? If you used Facebook's tools, they kept it anyway.

Earlier this week, like many people around the world, my sister Bailey downloaded her Facebook data archives. Along with the contact lists and relationship statuses was something unexpected: several different videos of her attempting to play a scale on a wooden flute in her childhood bedroom. Each video, she discovered, was a different "take" — recorded on Facebook, but then, she assumed, discarded before she posted the final version to a friend's wall.

[...] Facebook's current data policy says that the company can "collect the content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others." "Create" is the operative word in there. By that logic, Facebook technically could save any video a user filmed but did not publish because you created it on the platform.

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Oklahoma Teachers Win Pay Raise, But Say Strike Will Proceed to Challenge "Decade of Neglect"

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 05:27 AM PDT

Common Dreams reports

Teachers in Oklahoma applauded the state Senate's passage of a $447 million bill to fund educators' first raise in a decade by raising taxes on oil and gas production as well as cigarettes and fuel--but warned that the plan is not enough to keep them from striking.

The proposal was approved in a 36-10 vote on Wednesday night [March 28] after weeks of speculation that teachers would stage a walkout beginning April 2 to demand salary increases as well as more funding for their overcrowded schools--where teachers are frequently forced to pay for supplies out of their own pockets.

"While this is major progress, this investment alone will not undo a decade of neglect", said Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) President Alicia Priest in a press release.[1] "Lawmakers have left funding on the table that could be used immediately to help Oklahoma students."

The mobilization by teachers in Oklahoma follows a multi-day strike in West Virginia earlier this month during which educators and school employees also occupied the state capitol to demand raises and a permanent funding solution for their health insurance program. The West Virginia strike kept the state's schools closed for nine consecutive school days and continued after lawmakers passed a one-time five percent raise, with teachers insisting that all their demands be met.

[...] "This package doesn't overcome shortfall caused by four-day weeks, overcrowded classrooms that deprive kids of the one-on-one attention they need. It's not enough", Priest said. "We must continue to push for more annual funding for our schools to reduce class size and restore more of the 28 percent of funds they cut from education over the last decade."

[1] Content is behind scripts.

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How I Went Dark in Australia's Surveillance State for 2 Years

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 03:50 AM PDT

Claire Reilly writes about her commutes and other travels in Sydney, Australia while trying to avoid the excessive surveillance that arrived with the abolition of paper tickets. Australia passed invasive surveillance laws that also affect travel. It eventually emerged that authorities could search commuter card data tied to individual users, including all movement and payments.

I'm all for escaping the Orwellian nightmare of the modern surveillance state. But when you rage against the machine, you still have to associate with the bulls on parade.

All the top-up machines at train stations, light rail stops and ferry terminals were card-only affairs. One tap on that baby and you were back in the system.

So, if I was busing downtown for a work meeting, I'd have to factor in extra time to get to an ATM, get cash out and then find somewhere to top up my card. Running for the train with friends, I was the one who had to divert three blocks, change jackets, burn off my fingerprints and find a nondescript corner store to top up.

Here's what I learned.

She gave a good effort at traveling in traditional, anonymous style. Eventually, a shortfall of 9 cents made all the difference.

From CNet : How I went dark in Australia's surveillance state for 2 years

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China Using Facial Recognition Technology to Send Jaywalkers Fines Through Text Messages

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 02:13 AM PDT

China has been using biometric technologies for a while to scan the public. Now they are being used to identify jaywalkers and send them warning via SMS, along with a fine.

China plans to roll out a national social credit system by 2020, which will keep a record of citizens' violation of laws and directly affect their ability to do things like get a loan or get hired for a job. According to the South China Morning Post, devices like the jaywalking facial recognition system will be part of this network to keep track of the number of jaywalking violations and change a person's social credit score accordingly.

Major cities have already deployed similar facial recognition activities to monitor traffic behavior and track drivers.

From Motherboard : China Is Using Facial Recognition Technology to Send Jaywalkers Fines Through Text Messages.
See also South China Morning Post : Jaywalkers under surveillance in Shenzhen soon to be punished via text messages.

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How the World has Changed Since 2008 Financial Crisis

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 12:36 AM PDT

10 Years Since The 2008 Financial Crisis

The financial crisis and the massive federal response reshaped the world we live in. Though the economy is in one of its longest expansions and stock indexes have hit new highs, many people across the political spectrum complain that the recovery is uneven and the markets' gains aren't fairly distributed. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at some of the most eventful aspects of the response and how we got to where we are today.

America lost a lot of strength and stability, there were no consequences for the most egregious offenders, and those involved are now part of the regulatory capture in the financial markets.

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MobileActive Founder Katrin Verclas Indicted on Major Fraud Charges

Posted: 29 Mar 2018 10:59 PM PDT

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Katrin Verclas, age 50, a native and citizen of Germany residing in Washington, D.C., on a charge related to a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of State of $1.231 million. The indictment was returned on March 26, 2018, and was unsealed upon the arrest of Verclas.

The indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning and Steve A. Linick, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State.

According to the indictment, Verclas, as director of MobileActive Corp, obtained a grant from the U.S. Department of State intended to support and promote U.S. global internet freedom efforts. Verclas represented to the U.S. Department of State that MobileActive was a non-profit organization pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) with the legal authority to apply for a grant, and that MobileActive had the financial capability to ensure proper planning, management, and completion of the grant project.

MobileActive was not a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and thus, did not have the legal authority to apply for the grant. Verclas spent much of the money from the U.S. Department of State on personal expenses and expenses unrelated to the grant. Verclas caused the U.S. Department of State to transfer $1.222 million into her control.

Verclas faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Source: https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/pr/german-citizen-indicted-major-fraud-connection-state-department-grant

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Google Bans "Kodi" From Search Engine Autocomplete

Posted: 29 Mar 2018 09:22 PM PDT

Google has censored the term "Kodi" from its search engine's autocomplete feature, despite it being completely legal open source software:

Google has banned the term "Kodi" from the autocomplete feature of its search engine. This means that the popular software and related suggestions won't appear unless users type out the full term. Google has previously taken similar measures against "pirate" related terms and confirms that Kodi is targeted because it's "closely associated with copyright infringement."

[...] The company demotes results from domain names for which it receives many DMCA takedown notices, for example, and it has also removed several piracy-related terms from its autocomplete feature. The latter means that when one types "pirate ba" it won't suggest pirate bay. Instead, people see "pirate bays" or "pirate books" as suggestions. Whether that's very effective is up for debate, but it's intentional.

[...] The Kodi team, operated by the XBMC Foundation, is disappointed with the decision and points out that their software does not cross any lines. "We are surprised and disappointed to discover Kodi has been removed from autocomplete, as Kodi is perfectly legal open source software," XBMC Foundation President Nathan Betzen told us.

The Kodi team has been actively trying to distance itself from pirate elements. They enforce their trademark against sellers of pirate boxes and are in good contact with Hollywood's industry group, the MPAA.

Related: MPAA Chief Focuses Attention on the Kodi Platform
Hollywood Strikes Back Against Illegal Streaming Kodi Add-Ons
Kodi Returns to its Roots With an Xbox One Release
Kodi Media Player Addon Developers Under Pressure from ACE, Dish Network

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Alliance for Open Media Announces Release of AOMedia Video Codec 1.0 (AV1) Specification

Posted: 29 Mar 2018 07:45 PM PDT

The Alliance for Open Media, which includes the likes of Amazon, Apple, ARM, Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, and Nvidia, among others, has announced the release of the AOMedia Video Codec 1.0 (AV1) specification. The new open source and royalty-free codec is based on elements of other codecs that were recently in development: Daala, Thor, and VP10.

Tests of the codec have found that it can reduce the bitrate by 10-40% at the same quality when compared to VP9 and H.265/HEVC. The difference is more apparent at higher resolutions such as 4K/2160p.

By delivering 4K UHD video at an average of 30 percent greater compression over competing codecs according to independent member tests, AV1 enables more screens to display the vivid images, deeper colors, brighter highlights, darker shadows, and other enhanced UHD imaging features that consumers have come to expect – all while using less data.

"We expect that the installed base of 4K television sets to reach 300 million by the end of 2019 and therefore there is already latent demand for UHD services over today's infrastructure. AV1 will be widely supported across the entire content chain, especially including services. We forecast rapid introduction of AV1 content delivery to help the widespread proliferation of UHD streaming," said Paul Gray, a Research Director at IHS Markit, a global business information provider.

Also at Engadget, Tom's Hardware, and Advanced Television.

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Google-Led Plan to Upend Wireless Industry Gains Momentum

Posted: 29 Mar 2018 06:12 PM PDT

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

A Google-led plan to overhaul how valuable airwaves are used for calls and texts is gaining momentum across the wireless industry, giving the company the chance to play a central role in networks of the future.

Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS, is a fat slice of the U.S. airwaves being freed this year from the military's exclusive control. Instead of just zipping messages between aircraft carriers and fighter jets, the spectrum will be shared by the Navy, wireless carriers like Verizon, cable companies including Comcast, and even hospitals, refineries and sports stadiums.

Alphabet Inc.'s Google, with help from some smaller tech companies, is leading the charge on ways to make the new service work seamlessly. They've built databases and sensor systems that switch users to different CBRS channels to avoid interference, especially when the Navy sails into town.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-29/google-led-plan-to-upend-wireless-industry-gains-momentum

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The Battle to Free the Code at the Department of Defense

Posted: 29 Mar 2018 04:57 PM PDT

Pentagon lawyer Sharon Woods gives a LibrePlanet presentation about free software in the US DoD (video).

A battle is underway at the US Department of Defense (DoD) to improve the way DoD develops, secures, and deploys software. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is not common reading for most people, but buried within the DoD's 2,000-page budget authorization is a provision to free source code. The lively history behind this provision is simultaneously frustrating and encouraging, with private industry giants, Congress, and other federal agencies jockeying around the effort to free the code at DoD. Come listen to this important, but perhaps lesser known, chapter of the free software narrative, and learn how a small group of impassioned digital service experts are defying all odds to continue the fight for free software adoption.

The relevant bit of the NDAA, H.R.2810 § 875.

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FBI Failed to Exhaust Internal Options Before Engaging in PR/Legal Battle Over Encrypted iPhones

Posted: 29 Mar 2018 03:44 PM PDT

Did the FBI engineer its iPhone encryption court showdown with Apple to force a precedent? Yes and no, say DoJ auditors

The [San Bernardino] attack stoked fears of Islamic extremism within the United States but the shooting has become renowned for a different reason: a showdown between the FBI and Apple over access to Farook's mobile phone. Now a new report [PDF] by the US Department of Justice's internal inspector general, published Tuesday, has blown open the case and indicates the FBI might have been trying to play Apple for a patsy.

The report title is remarkable in itself: "A Special Inquiry Regarding the Accuracy of FBI Statements Concerning its Capabilities to Exploit an iPhone Seized During the San Bernardino Terror Attack Investigation." Which could perhaps be more accurately titled: "Did the FBI lie about not being able to break into a terrorist's phone in an effort to win a legal precedent granting it access to everyone else's digital devices?" And the answer is, remarkably, yes and no.

[...] In the end, the issue was resolved the day before a crunch court hearing when the FBI said it had found a third-party solution to cracking the phone and no longer needed to force Apple to break its own encryption. The timing of that last-minute back down raised suspicions that the FBI had engineered the showdown to create a legal precedent that would force US companies to give it backdoor access to everyone's digital devices now and in the future.

[...] [The] report does flag some very disturbing conversations and inconsistencies that appear to point quite clearly to the fact that the FBI made the most out of the situation and may have done its best not to find out if some parts of the FBI were able to crack the phone in order to pursue its legal case.

Also at Ars Technica

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A Simple Method Developed For 3-D Bio-Fabrication Based On Bacterial Cellulose

Posted: 29 Mar 2018 02:14 PM PDT

Bacterial cellulose (BC) nanofibers are promising building blocks for the development of sustainable materials with the potential to outperform conventional synthetic materials. BC, one of the purest forms of nanocellulose, is produced at the interface between the culture medium and air, where the aerobic bacteria have access to oxygen. Biocompatibility, biodegradability, high thermal stability and mechanical strength are some of the unique properties that facilitate BC adoption in food, cosmetics and biomedical applications including tissue regeneration, implants, wound dressing, burn treatment and artificial blood vessels.

In the study published in Materials Horizons researchers at Aalto University have developed a simple and customizable process that uses superhydrophobic interfaces to finely engineer the bacteria access to oxygen in three dimensions and in multiple length scales, resulting in hollow, seamless, nanocellulose-based pre-determined objects.

[...] This facilitated biofabrication can be explored in new ways by the biomedical field through scaffolding of artificial organs. Advances in bioengineering, for instance by genome editing or co-culture of microorganisms, might also allow further progress towards the simplified formation of composite materials of highly controlled composition, properties and functions.

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First Runaway Yellow Supergiant Star Discovered

Posted: 29 Mar 2018 12:44 PM PDT

Astronomers spy runaway star in Small Magellanic Cloud

Astronomers at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, said on March 27, 2018. that they've discovered a rare runaway star in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. The star is speeding across its little galaxy at 300,000 miles per hour (500,000 km/hour). At that speed, it would take about half a minute to travel from Los Angeles to New York. The runaway star is designated J01020100-7122208, and it's believed to have once been one of two stars orbiting around each other. Astronomers think that, when the companion star exploded as a supernova, the tremendous release of energy flung J01020100-7122208 into space at its high speed.

The star is the first runaway yellow supergiant star ever discovered, and only the second evolved runaway star to be found in another galaxy. A paper about its discovery has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Astronomical Journal and is currently published online via Arxiv. A statement from Lowell Observatory said:

After ten million years of traveling through space, the star evolved into a yellow supergiant, the object that we see today. Its journey took it 1.6 degrees across the sky, about three times the diameter of the full moon. The star will continue speeding through space until it too blows up as a supernova, likely in another three million years or so. When that happens, heavier elements will be created, and the resulting supernova remnant may form new stars or even planets on the outer edge of the Small Magellanic Cloud.

These stars typically only spend thousands or tens of thousands of years in the yellow supergiant phase before becoming red supergiants.

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Judge Acquits All 13 Pipeline Protesters

Posted: 29 Mar 2018 11:09 AM PDT

The Independent reports

More than a dozen protesters who clambered into holes dug for a high pressure gas pipeline said they had been found not responsible by a judge after hearing them argue their actions to try and stop climate change were a legal "necessity".

Karenna Gore, the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, was among more than 198 people who were arrested because of their 2015 actions protesting the pipeline in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Thirteen people were to go on trial this week, though prosecutors downgraded their original criminal charges to one of civil infraction.

On [March 27], Judge Mary Ann Driscoll of West Roxbury District Court, found all 13 defendants not responsible, the equivalent of not guilty in a criminal case. She did so after each of the defendants addressed the judge and explained why they were driven to try and halt the pipeline's construction.

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