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Universal Chip Analyzer: Test Old CPUs in Seconds

Posted: 12 Apr 2018 09:20 AM PDT

Hackaday reports

Collecting old CPUs and firing them up again is all the rage these days, but how do you know if they will work? For many of these ICs, which ceased production decades ago, sorting the good stuff from the defective and counterfeit is a minefield.

Testing old chips is a challenge in itself. Even if you can find the right motherboard, the slim chances of escaping the effect of time on the components (in particular, capacitor and EEPROM degradation) make a reliable test setup hard to come by.

Enter Samuel, and the Universal Chip Analyzer (UCA). Using an FPGA to emulate the motherboard, it means the experience of testing an IC takes just a matter of seconds. Why an FPGA? Microcontrollers are simply too slow to get a full speed interface to the CPU, even one from the '80s.

So, how does it actually test? Synthesized inside the FPGA is everything the CPU needs from the motherboard to make it tick, including ROM, RAM, bus controllers, clock generation, and interrupt handling. Many testing frequencies are supported (which is helpful for spotting fakes) and, if connected to a computer via USB, the UCA can check power consumption and even benchmark the chip.

We can't begin to detail the amount of thought that's gone into the design here, from auto-detecting data bus width to the sheer amount of models supported, but you can read more technical details here.

[...] The list of compatible ICs is impressive: Intel 8085/8086/8088, Zilog Z80, RCA/COSMAC 1802, NSC800, Intel 8051 & 8048 are just a few of the currently supported series, and more are being added at an astonishing rate! Shields for RAM and BSP [board support package] are also underway.

Depending on interest, Samuel is considering a non-profit Kickstarter or Indiegogo, so be sure to comment if you dig it!

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FTC Makes Clear 'Warranty Void If Removed' Stickers Are Illegal

Posted: 12 Apr 2018 08:00 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow9228

Those stickers on gadgets that say you'll void your warranty if they're removed? You've probably come to expect them whenever you purchase a new device. The FTC has just made clear, however, that those warranty notices are illegal when it fired off warning letters to six companies that market and sell automobiles, mobile devices and video game consoles in the US. It didn't mention which automakers and tech corporations they are, but since the list includes companies that make video game consoles, Sony and Microsoft could be two of them.

[...] Thomas B. Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement:

"Provisions that tie warranty coverage to the use of particular products or services harm both consumers who pay more for them as well as the small businesses who offer competing products and services."

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/11/ftc-warranty-warning/

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Researchers Use Machine Learning to Quickly Detect Video Face Swaps

Posted: 12 Apr 2018 06:31 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow9228

We all know that AI can be used to swap faces in photos and videos. People have, of course, taken advantage of this tool for some disturbing uses, including face-swapping people into pornographic videos -- the ultimate revenge porn. But if AI can be used to face swap, can't it also be used to detect when such a practice occurs? According to a new paper on arXiv.org, a new algorithm promises to do just that, identifying forged videos as soon as they are posted online.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/11/machine-learning-face-swaps-xceptionnet/

Technology Review continues:

But the work also has sting in the tail. The same deep-learning technique that can spot face-swap videos can also be used to improve the quality of face swaps in the first place—and that could make them harder to detect.

The new technique relies on a deep-learning algorithm that [Andreas] Rossler and co have trained to spot face swaps. These algorithms can only learn from huge annotated data sets of good examples, which simply have not existed until now.

So the team began by creating a large data set of face-swap videos and their originals.

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Rainbow Six: Siege - Crackdown on "Toxic Players"

Posted: 12 Apr 2018 05:03 AM PDT

Ubisoft is cracking down on "Toxic Players" in the game "Rainbow Six: Siege". I was somewhat surprised to see that they hadn't implemented a mute option to begin with as well.

Players will also soon have the ability to mute either or both of the text and voice chat for other players in their matches, giving more "direct control over communication channels."

I left the world of FPS Multiplayer games nearly 10 years ago, because of the toxic environment. Then again, that may have mostly just been staying away from certain games (Call of Duty) that appealed to the demographic (10 year old kids who can more or less say whatever they feel like) I didn't want to associate with. It's one thing to have the occasional being "cursed at" by a teenager / adult, because something went belly up for them. It's another to have a string of profanity that you've never heard the like being uttered by a 10 year old kid as a standard part of the game.

Apparently their parents don't know where they are / what they're doing, don't believe in parenting, don't think that verbal abuse is a thing, or some various mixture thereof. I'm not generally in favor of censorship, but at some point someone needs to step-in. At one point that was the parents, but that doesn't seem to be happening nearly as much as it used to.


The core of the changes centers around players using "racial or homophobic slurs, or hate speech," defined by the game's Code of Conduct as language that's "illegal, dangerous, threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, defamatory, hateful, racist, sexist, ethically offensive, or constituting harassment."

Game company banning toxic players. It's about time.

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IBM Launches 'Skinny Mainframe' for the Cloud

Posted: 12 Apr 2018 03:31 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

IBM is launching what it calls a "skinny mainframe" for cloud computing. The system is built around IBM z14 mainframe technology, and it features a 19-inch industry standard, single-frame case design, allowing for easy placement into public cloud data centers and for private cloud deployments.

[...] With the mainframe in high demand and more relevant than ever, IBM worked closely on the design with more than 80 clients, including managed service providers, online banks, and insurance firms, to reinvent the mainframe for a whole new class of users.

The new z14 and LinuxOne offerings also bring significant increases in capacity, performance, memory, and cache across nearly all aspects of the system. A complete system redesign delivers this capacity growth in 40 percent less space, standardized to be deployed in any data center. The z14 ZR1, announced today, can be the foundation for an IBM Cloud Private solution, creating a "data center in a box" by co-locating storage, networking, and other elements in the same physical frame as the mainframe server.

The z14 ZR1 delivers 10 percent more capacity than its predecessor, the z13s, and, at 8TB, twice the memory. The system can handle more than 850 million fully encrypted transactions per day.

Source: https://venturebeat.com/2018/04/09/ibm-launches-skinny-mainframe-for-the-cloud/

Also at The Register

Technical Introduction(IBM Redbook)

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan Will Not Seek Reelection

Posted: 12 Apr 2018 01:59 AM PDT

Many media outlets are saying "Paul Ryan Retires" (For example, Vox's original headline.) This doesn't mean he won't still be there until the new Congress is seated in January 2019.

Vox reports:

More and more Republicans are looking at how the 2018 elections are shaping up and deciding they want no part of them--with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) just the latest to announce they won't run for reelection this year.

This makes 25 House Republicans and three GOP senators who are calling it quits, not counting several more who are stepping down to run for another political office (or who have already resigned). That's the highest such number[1] for just one party in decades.

Revealingly, only nine House Democrats and zero Democratic senators have so far made the same choice. (Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota resigned due to scandal, but his seat has already been filled by Tina Smith, who will run this fall.) That's a dramatic discrepancy.

Though the explanations offered for these decisions differ, and though many of these GOP-held seats are in no real danger of flipping to Democrats, these retirements are revealing how members of Congress currently view the national political environment. That is: they think there's a real possibility of a Democratic wave.

But the trend is more meaningful even than that. These very retirements could help make such a wave even bigger, because it's generally easier for the opposition party to flip open seats than it is to knock off incumbents.

[...] According to FiveThirtyEight's numbers,[2] the only time in the past 40 years there's been a bigger partisan discrepancy in [the who's not running for reelection stats] was 2008, which turned out to be a Democratic wave year.

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Hacking When It Counts: Pigeon-Guided Missiles

Posted: 12 Apr 2018 12:47 AM PDT

Of all the zany plans that came from the fertile minds on each side of World War II, few seem as out there as a plan to use birds to pilot bombs to their targets. And yet such a plan was not only actively developed, it came from the fertile mind of one of the 20th century's most brilliant psychologists, and very nearly resulted in a fieldable weapon that would let fly the birds of war.

[...] By the 1940s, B.F. Skinner had spent years studying operant conditioning on a variety of model organisms, using dozens of instruments of his own devising to quantify behavior. With war raging around the globe, Skinner pondered the devastation caused by bombing campaigns, which relied on massive quantities of bombs to make up for the lack of precision in the aiming. He wondered if there would be any way to guide a bomb or missile to its target, and hit upon the idea of using one of the stars of his operant conditioning boxes — pigeons. Easily trained and with excellent eyesight, pigeons might make a workable guidance system for ordnance.

Source: https://hackaday.com/2018/04/11/hacking-when-it-counts-pigeon-guided-missiles/

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

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Automobile Dashboard Technology is Simply Awful

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 10:55 PM PDT

When I went car shopping recently, I was amazed by the autonomous technologies in most new models: automatic lane-keeping, braking to avoid collisions and parallel parking, for example.

But I was appalled by the state of dashboard technology. Technology sells, so car companies are all about touch screens and apps these days. Unfortunately, they're truly terrible at designing user interfaces (UIs)—the ways that you, the human, are supposed to interact with it, the car. A good user interface (a) is easy to navigate, (b) puts frequently used controls front and center, (c) gives clear feedback as you make a change and (d) is apparently beyond the capabilities of today's car companies. I asked my Twitter followers to help me nominate the World's Worst Car UI Designs—and I was flooded with responses.


Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

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Paralyzed Patient Feels Sensation Again

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 08:40 PM PDT

For the first time, scientists at Caltech have induced natural sensations in the arm of a paralyzed man by stimulating a certain region of the brain with a tiny array of electrodes. The patient has a high-level spinal cord lesion and, besides not being able to move his limbs, also cannot feel them. The work could one day allow paralyzed people using prosthetic limbs to feel physical feedback from sensors placed on these devices.

The research was done in the laboratory of Richard Andersen, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, T&C Chen Brain-Machine Interface Center Leadership Chair, and director of the T&C Chen Brain-Machine Interface Center. A paper describing the work appears in the April 10 issue of the journal eLife.

The somatosensory cortex is a strip of brain that governs bodily sensations, both proprioceptive sensations (sensations of movement or the body's position in space) and cutaneous sensations (those of pressure, vibration, touch, and the like). Previous to the new work, neural implants targeting similar brain areas predominantly produced sensations such as tingling or buzzing in the hand. The Andersen lab's implant is able to produce much more natural sensation via intracortical stimulation, akin to sensations experienced by the patient prior to his injury.

The patient had become paralyzed from the shoulders down three years ago after a spinal cord injury. Two arrays of tiny electrodes were surgically inserted into his somatosensory cortex. Using the arrays, the researchers stimulated neurons in the region with very small pulses of electricity. The participant reported feeling different natural sensations -- such as squeezing, tapping, a sense of upward motion, and several others -- that would vary in type, intensity, and location depending on the frequency, amplitude, and location of stimulation from the arrays. It is the first time such natural sensations have been induced by intracortical neural stimulation.

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European Copyright Law Isn't Great. It Could Soon Get a Lot Worse.

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 07:08 PM PDT

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a detailed explanation of the proposed changes to EU copyright law, specifically the current version of the European Digital Single Market directive, and why it is a big deal.

EFF has been writing about the upcoming European Digital Single Market directive on copyright for a long time now. But it's time to put away the keyboard, and pick up the phone, because the proposal just got worse—and it's headed for a crucial vote on June 20-21.

For those who need no further introduction to the directive, which would impose an upload filtering mandate on Internet platforms (Article 13) and a link tax in favor of news publishers (Article 11), you can skip to the bottom of this post, where we link to an action that European readers can take to make their voice heard. But if you're new to this, here's a short version of how we got here and why we're worried.

From the EFF's web site: European Copyright Law Isn't Great. It Could Soon Get a Lot Worse.

Earlier on SN:
Censorship Machines Are Coming: It's Time for the Free Software Community to Use its Political Clout
Compromises on Copyright Maximalism are Clearly No Longer on the EU Agenda
Mulled EU Copyright Shakeup Will Turn Us Into Robo-Censors

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EU Court Rules that Taxi Company is Transport, and not Digital

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 05:34 PM PDT

The ruling (PDF), issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union this morning, will increase pressure on the not-a-taxi biz, and follows a decision that saw its services classed as transport, not digital.

The case relates to charges French authorities want to bring against UberPop - a ride-sharing service that links non-professional, unlicensed drivers with people in need of a lift - and whether it is an information society service. Uber France is trying to slip out of the regulatory net by arguing it is an information society service, which would mean it fell under rules set out in an EU directive on technical standards and regulations. This directive (PDF) stated that member states have to tell the European Commission about any draft rules or legislation that set out technical regulations of information services or products - the idea being to allow Brussels to ensure national laws comply with digital single market rules.

The French authorities didn’t do this for the criminal legislation they are trying to use to charge Uber, and so, as the ECJ noted in its judgement “Uber France infers from this that it cannot therefore be prosecuted on the charges”.

However, the ECJ was not persuaded. It reminded Uber it had last year ruled that the UberPop service offered in Spain was a transport service - not a digital one. The two countries’ services, in the court's view, are “essentially identical”.

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Dr. John Plunkett RIP - He Told the Truth

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 04:04 PM PDT

Dr. John Plunkett died this week. He spent nearly 20 years arguing in court against bad forensic science, for which he was maliciously prosecuted and received false ethics complaints. Through his efforts, 300 innocent people were exonerated. (This sentence from fark.com)

Like a lot of other doctors, child welfare advocates and forensic specialists, John Plunkett at first bought into the theory of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). It's a convenient diagnosis for prosecutors, in that it provides a cause of death (violent shaking), a culprit (whoever was last with the child before death) and even intent (prosecutors often argue that the violent, extended shaking establishes mens rea.) But in the late 1990s, Plunkett — a forensic pathologist in Minnesota — began to have doubts about the diagnosis. The same year his study was published, Plunkett testified in the trial of Lisa Stickney, a licensed day care worker in Oregon. Thanks in large part to Plunkett's testimony, Stickney was acquitted. District Attorney Michael Dugan responded with something unprecedented — it criminally charged an expert witness over testimony he had given in court. Today, the scientific consensus on SBS has since shifted significantly in Plunkett's direction.

[...] According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 16 SBS convictions have been overturned. Plunkett's obituary puts the figure at 300, and claims that he participated in 50 of those cases. I'm not sure of the source for that figure, and it's the first I've seen of it. But whatever the number, Plunkett deserves credit for being among the first to sound the alarm about wrongful SBS convictions. His study was the first step toward those exonerations.

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Senator to Zuckerberg: 'Your User Agreement Sucks'

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 02:38 PM PDT

Submitted via IRC for fyngyrz

Senator Kennedy of Louisiana confronted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the transparency of the social media company's policies on Tuesday.


"I'm going to suggest you go home and rewrite it, and tell your $1,200 dollar and[sic] hour lawyer...you want it written in English not Swahili, so the average American user can understand," Kennedy said.


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The Closest Exoplanet to Earth Just Got Doused With Deadly Flares

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 12:29 PM PDT

Amid much excitement in 2016, astronomers revealed the discovery of an Earth-sized planet around the star closest to our Sun, Proxima Centauri. This exoplanet, just 4.2 light years from Earth, was close enough to its red dwarf star that water might well exist on its surface.

Alas, now we know that life probably does not live on the planet, at least not on the surface. In March 2016, astronomers using an array of telescopes known as Evryscope observed a "superflare" 10 times larger than any previous one detected from the red dwarf star.

The arXiv. Abstract number: 1804.02001 (About the arXiv). Submitted to AAS Journals.

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14 Years of Mark Zuckerberg Saying Sorry, Not Sorry

Posted: 11 Apr 2018 11:06 AM PDT

The Washington Post has a retrospective on 14 years of Mark Zuckerberg saying sorry, not sorry:

From the moment the Facebook founder entered the public eye in 2003 for creating a Harvard student hot-or-not rating site, he's been apologizing. So we collected this abbreviated history of his public mea culpas.

See also:
Why Zuckerberg's 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn't Fixed Facebook.

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