Waymo To Customers: 'Completely Driverless Waymo Cars Are On the Way'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch:
Waymo, the autonomous vehicle business under Alphabet, sent an email to customers of its ride-hailing app that their next trip might not have a human safety driver behind the wheel, according to a copy of the email that was posted on Reddit. The email entitled "Completely driverless Waymo cars are on the way" was sent to customers that use its ride-hailing app in the suburbs of Phoenix.
Both the early rider program and Waymo One service use self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans to shuttle Phoenix residents in a geofenced area that covers several suburbs including Chandler and Tempe. All of these "self-driving rides" have a human safety driver behind the wheel. A driverless ride is what it sounds like. No safety driver behind the wheel, although a Waymo employee would likely be present in the vehicle initially.
Researchers Created Lenses a Thousand Times Thinner To Hopefully Eliminate Ugly Smartphone Camera Bumps
Camera bumps on smartphones may soon go away thanks to a team of researchers at the University of Utah who've
developed a radically thin camera lens. Gizmodo reports:
For comparison, the lens elements used in today's smartphone cameras, which gather and focus light onto a tiny sensor, are a few millimeters thick. It might not sound like much, but the best smartphone cameras use multiple elements, which quickly add up, resulting in a thin phone simply not having enough room to house all of them: hence the camera bump trend. But a team of electrical and computer engineering researchers at the University of Utah have succeeded in creating a new type of optical lens that measures just a few microns thick, or about a thousand times thinner and one hundred times lighter than what you'll find in smartphones today.
The lens the researchers created is actually made up of innumerable tiny microstructures, imperceptible to the human eye, and strategically positioned so that each one bends and redirects light towards a camera's sensor. When they're all working together, they produce the same results as a single curved element does. Manufacturing the lenses also required the team to develop a new fabrication process, a new polymer, and custom algorithms to calculate the shape and position of each microstructure. But the resulting lens can be completely flat, and made of lightweight plastic. If you've ever spent a day carrying around a camera with a big lens hanging off the front, you'll appreciate that benefit alone. The study has been
published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Opera's Desktop Browser Gets Built-In Tracking Protection
announced the launch of version 68 of its flagship desktop browser, bringing a tracker blocker that
will make it harder for advertisers and others to track you while you browse the web. The company says it also has the additional benefit of speeding up page loads by up to 23%. TechCrunch reports:
The new tracking protection feature is off by default (as is the existing ad blocker). The tracking feature uses the EasyPrivacy Tracking Protection List, which has been around for quite a few years now. In addition to the new tracking protection, which is increasingly becoming standard among browser vendors (and which is surely putting some additional pressure on Google and its Chrome browser), Opera is also introducing a new screenshotting feature with this update. That's not an unusual feature, but it's a pretty full-featured implementation, with the ability to blur parts of a page and draw on the screenshots.
AT&T To Sell Puerto Rico Business As It Looks To Pay Down Debt
According to The Wall Street Journal, AT&T has
agreed to sell its Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Islands businesses to Liberty Latin America for $1.95 billion in cash
(Warning: source paywalled, alternative source), "allowing the telecommunications giant to shave its debt load and move closer to repurchasing shares." From the report:
AT&T's operation in Puerto Rico provides cellular, landline and internet connections. It had 1.1 million wireless subscribers. As part of the deal, about 1,300 AT&T employees will be transferred to Liberty Latin America. The two companies said they expect the deal to close within six to nine months. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands account for a small sliver of AT&T's domestic operations, but shedding the unit will help it work down a large debt load accumulated through its $80 billion-plus acquisition of Time Warner last year. The deal signals progress on AT&T's goal of selling noncore assets, something activist investor Elliott Management Corp., which recently disclosed a stake in the company, is also pushing. AT&T has also sold its stake in streaming service Hulu.
Comcast Incorrectly Charged 2,000 Customers For Exceeding Data Cap
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
Comcast's data-usage meter gave thousands of customers inaccurate readings for two months because of a software bug, causing the broadband provider to incorrectly charge about 2,000 users for exceeding their monthly data caps. Comcast has admitted the error and told Ars it is giving refunds and additional credits of $50 each to customers who paid data overage fees that shouldn't have been assessed.
Comcast engineers found that the problem began after the company started rolling out a new billing system in early August. The data meter was apparently still collecting accurate data, but the numbers were being reported in the new billing system incorrectly. Comcast said it's still trying to figure out if the bug is in the meter software, the billing software, or in the interaction between the two. What Comcast knows for certain, the spokesperson said, is that the problem was fixed when it rolled back to the previous version of its billing software on October 2. Comcast's statement to Ars said: "While updating our data usage meter to a new system, a software error occurred resulting in a small number of our customers being billed incorrectly. We're very sorry for inconveniencing our customers and here's what we're doing to address it: We fixed the technical issue, we're proactively crediting the accounts affected, and we're giving those customers an additional $50 credit to make it right."
Blizzard In Hot Water With Lawmakers For Hearthstone Player's Ban
Due to the ban placed on a Hearthstone player for supporting Hong Kong protestors, Blizzard is now receiving criticism from U.S. senators. "Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party," Sen. Ron Wyden said, according to The Verge. "No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck." "Recognize what's happening here. People who don't live in China must either self censor or face dismissal & suspensions," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said in a tweet on Tuesday. "China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in U.S. politics today is gone."
Critical Remote Code Execution Flaw Fixed In Popular Terminal App For MacOS
itwbennett shares a report from CSO:
iTerm2 users: It's time to upgrade. A security audit sponsored by the Mozilla Open Source Support Program uncovered a critical remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability in the popular open-source terminal app for macOS. ITerm2 is an open-source alternative to the built-in macOS Terminal app, which allows users to interact with the command-line shell. Terminal apps are commonly used by system administrators, developers and IT staff in general, including security teams, for a variety of tasks and day-to-day operations.
The iTerm2 app is a popular choice on macOS because it has features and allows customizations that the built-in Terminal doesn't, which is why the Mozilla Open Source Support Program (MOSS) decided to sponsor a code audit for it. The MOSS was created in the wake of the critical and wide-impact Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL with the goal of sponsoring security audits for widely used open-source technologies. The flaw, which is now tracked as CVE-2019-9535, has existed in iTerm2 for the past seven years and is located in the tmux integration. Tmux is a terminal multiplexer that allows running multiple sessions in the same terminal window by splitting the terminal screen. The flaw was fixed in iTerm2 version 3.3.6, which was released today.
China Attacks Apple For Allowing Hong Kong Crowdsourced Police Activity App
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch:
Apple's decision to greenlight an app called HKmaps, which is being used by pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong to crowdsource information about street closures and police presence, is attracting the ire of the Chinese government. An article in Chinese state mouthpiece, China Daily, attacks the iPhone maker for reversing an earlier decision not to allow the app to be listed on the iOS App Store -- claiming the app is "allowing the rioters in Hong Kong to go on violent acts." HKmaps uses emoji to denote live police and protest activity around Hong Kong, as reported by users.
The app's developer denies the map enables illegal activity, saying its function is "for info" purposes only -- to allow residents to move freely around the city by being able to avoid protest flash-points. But the Chinese government is branding it "toxic." "Business is business, and politics is politics. Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision," the China Daily writer warns in a not-so-veiled threat about continued access to the Chinese market. "Providing a gateway for 'toxic apps' is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, twisting the facts of Hong Kong affairs, and against the views and principles of the Chinese people," it goes on. "Apple and other corporations should be able to discern right from wrong. They also need to know that only the prosperity of China and China's Hong Kong will bring them a broader and more sustainable market."
The article also claims Apple reinstated a song which advocates for independence for Hong Kong and had
previously been removed from its music store.
Tor Project Removes 13.5% of Current Servers For Running EOL Versions
An anonymous reader writes:
The Tor Project has removed from its network this week more than 800 servers that were running outdated and end-of-life (EOL) versions of the Tor software. The removed servers represent roughly 13.5% of the 6,000+ servers that currently comprise the Tor network and help anonymize traffic for users across the world. Roughly 750 of the removed servers represent Tor middle relays, and 62 are exit relays -- where users exit the Tor network onto the world wide web after having their true location hidden through the Tor network. The organization said it plans to release a Tor software update in November that will natively reject connections with EOL Tor server versions by default, without any intervention from the Tor Project staff. "Until then, we will reject around 800 obsolete relays using their fingerprints," the Tor Project said in a statement this week.
Worker Pay is Stagnant -- Economists Blame Robots
American workers are more productive than ever, but their paychecks haven't kept pace. Researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco have identified a culprit: robots. Economists Sylvain Leduc and Zheng Liu theorize that automation is sapping employees' bargaining power, making it harder for them to demand higher wages. Companies across a range of industries increasingly have the option of using technology to handle work formerly done by people, giving employers the upper hand in setting pay. The result -- a widening gulf between wages and productivity. The research may bolster proposals for universal basic income, which is a government cash stipend that typically doesn't come with requirements. Andrew Yang, a Democratic presidential candidate who's running on a platform of giving every American adult $1,000 per month in basic income, tweeted about the economic findings, writing that automation is "making it hard for workers to ask for more."
"We should just give Americans a raise," he wrote. To be sure, automation is leading to massive changes in work that are hitting some industries and workers especially hard, such as lower and middle-skilled workers. For instance, the ranks of office assistants and clerical workers is expected to shrink by 5% through 2026 as offices shift tasks to artificial intelligence and other software, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This could result in a loss of 200,000 jobs.
Schneier Slams Australia's Encryption Laws and CyberCon Speaker Bans
Governments breaking encryption is bad, and "will get worse once breaking encryption means people can die," says one of the world's leading security experts. From a report:
"Australia has some pretty draconian laws about forcing tech companies to break security," says cryptographer and computer security professional Bruce Schneier. He's referring to the controversial Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018, which came into force in December. "I actually don't like that, because stuff that you do flows downhill to the US. So stop doing that," he told the Australian Cybersecurity Conference, or CyberCon, in Melbourne on Wednesday. Schneier's argument against breaking encrypted communications is simple. "You have to make a choice. Either everyone gets to spy, or no one gets to spy. You can't have 'We get to spy, you don't.' That's not the way the tech works," he said. "As this tech becomes more critical to life, we simply have to believe, accept, that securing it is more important than leaving it insecure so you can eavesdrop on the bad guys."
Unlike Blizzard, Epic Games Says It Won't Ban Players For Political Speech
Fortnite developer Epic Games said in a statement that it will
not ban players or content creators for political speech. From a report:
The message comes after Blizzard caught fire this week for banning a professional Hearthstone player for shouting a statement associated with Hong Kong protesters. "Epic supports everyone's right to express their views on politics and human rights. We wouldn't ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics," an Epic Games spokesperson told The Verge. Over the weekend, Blizzard banned Hearthstone player Ng "Blitzchung" Wai Chung from participating in tournaments after he voiced support for the protesters in Hong Kong. In a post-game interview on Sunday, Blitzchung said, "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!" Now, he cannot participate in any tournaments for an entire year (effective October 5th), and Blizzard is withholding any prize money he would have received in the Grandmasters tournament over the weekend. Those forfeited winnings have been reported to total around $10,000. Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games, added, "Epic is a US company and I'm the controlling shareholder. Tencent is an approximately 40% shareholder, and there are many other shareholders including employees and investors. [Bowing to China] will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder."
To Live or Die by Google Search Brings an Escalating Cost
"Where's the best place to hide a body? The second page of a Google search." The gallows humor shows that people rarely look beyond the first few results of a search, but Lee Griffin isn't laughing. From a report:
In the 13 years since he co-founded British price comparison website GoCompare, the 41-year-old has tried to keep his company at the top of search results, doing everything from using a "For Dummies" guide in the early days to later hiring a team of engineers, marketers and mathematicians. That's put him on the front lines of a battle challenging the dominance of Alphabet's Google in the search market -- with regulators in the U.S. and across Europe taking a closer look. Most of the sales at GoCompare, which helps customers find deals on everything from car and travel insurance to energy plans, come from Google searches, making its appearance at the top critical. With Google -- whose search market share is more than 80% -- frequently changing its algorithms, buying ads has become the only way to ensure a top spot on a page. Companies like GoCompare have to outbid competitors for paid spots even when customers search for their brand name.
"Google's brought on as this thing that wanted to serve information to the world," Griffin said in an interview from the company's offices in Newport, Wales. "But actually what it's doing is to show you information that people have paid it to show you." GoCompare is far from the only one to suffer from Google's search dominance. John Lewis, a high-end British retailer, last month alluded to the rising cost of climbing up in Google search results. In the U.S., IAC/InterActive, which owns internet services like Tinder, and ride-hailing company Lyft have signaled Google's stranglehold on the market.
Today's Politics May Be Bad for Your Health
An anonymous reader shares a report:
An Iowa man is so bothered by the political climate that his psychologist says he asked for a higher dosage of his anxiety medication. A Chicago woman is so uneasy about politics that she has needed two dental implants to deal with her teeth-grinding habit. And a New York woman says she suffered her first flare-up of multiple sclerosis in 10 years due to political angst. Americans are stressed and politics is a major cause, according to psychologists, psychiatrists and recent surveys.
A study published in September in the journal PLOS One found that politics is a source of stress for 38% of Americans. "The major takeaway from this is that if our numbers are really anywhere in the ballpark, there are tens of millions of Americans who see politics as exacting a toll on their social, psychological, emotional and even physical health," says Kevin Smith, lead author of the study and chair of the political science department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
A Growing Number of Astrophysicists Are Leaving Academia To Work For Tech Startups
Space scientists are abandoning the heavens to help you decide what to wear and watch and listen to. Whether it's stars or Stitch Fix,
it's all about machine learning.
Chris Moody knows a thing or two about the universe. As an astrophysicist, he built galaxy simulations, using supercomputers to model the way the universe expands and how galaxies crash into one another. One night, not long after he'd finished his PhD at UC Santa Cruz, he met up with a few other astrophysicists for beers. But that night, no one was talking about galaxies. Instead, they were talking about fashion. A couple of Moody's astrophysicist pals had recently left academia to work for Stitch Fix, the online personal styling company now valued at $2 billion. Moody gawked at them. "They were like, 'You don't think this is an interesting problem?'" he says. Indeed, he did not. But when his friends described the work they were doing -- sprinkling in phrases like "Bayesian models" and "Poincare space" -- predicting what clothes someone might like started to sound eerily like the work he'd done during his PhD. Quantifying style, he discovered, "turns out to have really close analogues to how general relativity works."
Four years later, Moody works for Stitch Fix too. He belongs to a growing group of astrophysicist deserters, who have stopped researching the cosmos to start building recommendation algorithms and data models for the tech industry. They make up the data science teams at companies like Netflix and Spotify and Google. And even at elite universities, fewer astrophysics PhDs go on to take postdoctoral fellowships or pursue competitive professorships. Now, more of them go straight to work in Silicon Valley. To understand what's driving astrophysicists into consumer product startups, consider the recent explosion of machine learning. Astrophysicists, who wrangle massive amounts of data collected from high-powered telescopes that survey the sky, have long used machine learning models, which "train" computers to perform tasks based on examples. Tell a computer what to recognize in one intergalactic snapshot and it can do the same for 30 million more and start to make predictions. But machine learning can also be used to make predictions about customers, and around 2012, corporations started to staff up with people who knew how to deploy it.
Facebook Rejects Biden Campaign's Request To Remove Trump Ads Containing False Information
In a letter to Joe Biden's presidential campaign, Facebook doubled down on its policy to allow speech from politicians to
go unchecked regardless of the truthfulness of their claims. From a report:
The letter was a response to the Biden campaign's request for Facebook to reject or demote ads from President Donald Trump's re-election campaign that contain false claims. The Biden campaign's original request to Facebook, addressed to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg and global elections policy chief Katie Harbath, pointed to an ad by the Trump campaign that contains a statement that has not been proven by evidence that the former vice president "offered Ukraine $1 billion to fire the prosecutor investigating a company affiliated with his son." The Biden campaign wrote: "The allegation of corrupt motive has been demonstrated to be completely false." The campaign said the claim should be covered by Facebook's pledge to reject political ads with "previously debunked content."
Utility Giant PG&E Voluntarily Shuts Off Power, Could Impact 800,000 Californians
Pacific Gas & Electric began cutting off power to nearly 800,000 customers across large swaths of Northern and Central California Wednesday morning, in a
planned outage that it says is necessary to avoid the risk of fire. From a report:
PG&E gave residents in more than 30 counties advance warnings about the power cut, which it says would "proactively" reduce the dangerous effects of a potential "widespread, severe wind event" forecast for Wednesday. The utility giant's transmission lines have been linked to wildfires that have devastated communities in California. It filed for bankruptcy protection in January, and it's been roundly criticized for mismanagement and safety failures. As of Wednesday morning, people in Humboldt, Marin, Napa, Sonoma and other counties are currently without power in the initial phase of PG&E's Public Safety Power Shutoff. "The decision to turn off power was based on forecasts of dry, hot and windy weather including potential fire risk," PG&E said in a statement about the outage.
Internal Email Shows GitHub Plans To Renew ICE Contract
GitHub CEO Nat Friedman explained why the company plans to
renew a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), even though he and others at GitHub oppose ICE's policy of separating children from parents at the border,
Motherboard reported on Wednesday, citing an internal GitHub email. From a report:
The email shows the continuing debate within the tech industry about whether companies should work specifically with ICE, and comes as a host of other companies have dealt with employee protests over corporate involvement with ICE. "In August, the GitHub leadership team learned about a pending renewal of our product by the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Since then, we have been talking with people throughout the company, based on our own personal concerns and those raised by Hubbers," Friedman's email reads, referring to GitHub employees. Evan Greer, deputy director at activism group Fight for the Future tweeted a copy of the email on Tuesday. Motherboard also separately obtained a copy of the email from a source inside GitHub. The product up for renewal is a license of GitHub Enterprise Server, an on-premises deployment of GitHub that customers can run on their own server, according to the email. ICE originally bought a license in April, 2016.
Fedora Drops 32-Bit Linux
Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews:
Beginning with the upcoming version 31 of the operating system, i686 32-bit processor support is being dropped by the Fedora Project. "The i686 architecture essentially entered community support with the Fedora 27 release. Unfortunately, there are not enough members of the community willing to do the work to maintain the architecture. Don't worry, though -- Fedora is not dropping all 32-bit packages. Many i686 packages are still being built to ensure things like multilib, wine, and Steam will continue to work," says Justin Forbes of Fedora Project. Forbes further explains, "While the repositories are no longer being composed and mirrored out, there is a koji i686 repository which works with mock for building 32-bit packages, and in a pinch to install 32-bit versions which are not part of the x86_64 multilib repository. Of course, maintainers expect this will see limited use. Users who simply need to run a 32-bit application should be able to do so with multilib on a 64-bit system."
Lithium-Ion Batteries Win Nobel Prize for Chemistry
"This is a highly charged story," began Olof Ramstrom, a member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, announcing that a trio of chemists who spent decades
developing the lithium ion battery were today awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work. From a report:
These batteries, small and powerful compared to older battery technology, made possible pocket-sized mobile phones, laptop computers, electric cars, and renewable energy devices such as solar panels that can help address the problems of climate change, Ramstrom says. The prize will be shared by John B. Goodenough from the University of Texas at Austin, M. Stanley Whittingham from Binghamton University in New York, and Akira Yoshino, who works at Asahi Kasei Corporation and Meijo University in Japan. They will split the roughly $1 million award. Lithium batteries have been touted as Nobel-worthy for years, says Bonnie Charpentier, president of the American Chemical Society. "I think that it's magnificent that Goodenough won this year," she says, noting that at age 97 he is the oldest Nobel laureate. Yoshino is 71, showing that the research stretched across generations.
Indeed, it was in the 1970s that Whittingham began investigating the use of lithium, the smallest and lightest metal in the periodic table of the elements. That size and weight made it possible to pack a lot of lithium into a small space, unlike the large and heavy lead-acid batteries that dominated at the time. Lithium had another advantage: it easily gave up its electrons, and batteries produce electricity when electrons flow from one end, called the anode, to the other end, called the cathode. Whittingham put metallic lithium in one end and a layered material called titanitum disulphide at the other; the titanium had spaces that could capture the flowing electrons. However, this combination of materials also had the unfortunate potential to explode. Slashdot interviewed Goodenough two years ago. You can
read the interview here.
Intel Kills Kaby Lake G, Vows To Offer Drivers For Five Years
When Kaby Lake G debuted at CES 2018, it made a big bang. No one expected sworn rivals Intel and AMD to collaborate on a CPU package, marrying a 7th-gen Kaby Lake CPU with a unique AMD Radeon RX Vega GPU. But
what began with a bang ended Monday with an unceremonious memo. From a report:
The Product Change Notification published by Intel on Monday confirmed that pretty much every single Kaby Lake G, including the Core i7-8706G, the Core i7-8705G, and the Core i5-8305G, would be discontinued. Last call for orders will be on January 17, 2020, and the final shipments are scheduled for July 31, 2020. While the end of life of a processor isn't typically a big deal to consumers who own them, one sticking point could have been driver support. Specifically, Kaby Lake G drivers for the custom AMD Radeon RX Vega M graphics come only from Intel. With a normal discrete GPU, the consumer would download drivers from the original company, such as Nvidia or AMD. With Kaby Lake G kaput, where does that leave Kaby Lake G-owners? Intel said the company will follow its standard policy and provide driver support for Kaby Lake G for five years from the launch of the product. All told, that probably means another 3.5 years of driver updates.
Essential Reveals Project Gem Smartphone With Very Long, Unusual Design
Andy Rubin, the controversial mobile industry executive who co-founded Android, left Google amid
allegations of sexual misconduct while
retaining a huge severance package, and went on to create the
Essential Phone, has
teasing an upcoming device with an elongated design and very tall UI composed of card-like apps. The Verge reports:
It look extremely small in his hands, too. The device has a large button and volume rocker on the right edge and a fingerprint divot around back, below what appears to be a single main camera. And as you can see, these devices have some decidedly flashy finishes that change color when you view them at different angles -- a sea green that shifts to yellow and blue, for example.
An Essential spokesperson confirmed to the The Verge that this is the company's new phone, adding: "We've been working on a new device that's now in early testing with our team outside the lab. We look forward to sharing more in the near future." A couple hours later, Essential tweeted some slightly more official images of the new phone, which it's calling Project Gem. XDA-Developers
also spotted some leaked code that mentions the divot on the rear of the device may activate its voice assistant when you tap your finger to it. They also suggest it runs Android and packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 processor.
'Call of Duty: Mobile' Smashes Records With 100 Million Downloads in First Week
The mobile version of video game franchise "Call of Duty"
racked up 100 million downloads in its first week, industry site Sensor Tower said on Tuesday, dwarfing the debuts of previous smashes including "Fortnite" and "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" (PUBG). From a report:
PUBG, Fortnite and Electronic Arts' "Apex Legends" scored 26.3 million, 22.5 million and 25 million respectively in their first week of release. "This is by far the largest mobile game launch in history in terms of the player base that's been built in the first week," said Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at Sensor Tower. "Call of Duty: Mobile" was launched by its publisher Activision Blizzard Inc on Oct. 1 and Sensor Tower said the numbers reflected worldwide unique downloads across Apple's App Store and Google Play in the period since.
Google Makes It Easier To Move Music and Video Streams Between Devices
Google is finally introducing a way for users of its smart speakers and streaming adapters to move media between those devices. From a report:
The company introduced a new feature called Stream Transfer Tuesday that makes it possible to move an ongoing music stream, podcast or YouTube video from one compatible device to the next. At launch, these devices include Google Home and Nest smart speakers as well as Google Nest smart displays and Chromecast-equipped TVs. The transfer of a stream can be initiated either with voice commands like "Hey Google, move the music to the living room speaker," via the Google Home app on a mobile device, or through a new media interface on Nest smart displays. Users can also start watching a YouTube video on their Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max smart display, and then press the cast button to move it to their Chromecast-equipped TV. Alternatively, they can move videos with a voice command.
Saturn Overtakes Jupiter As Host To Most Moons In Solar System
Astronomers have spotted 20 more moons orbiting Saturn, bringing the total number of Saturnian moons to 82,
surpassing the 79 that are known to orbit Jupiter. The Guardian reports:
The scientists discovered the moons when they set algorithms to work on decade-old images captured from the powerful Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. By comparing images taken over hours and days, the algorithms distinguished between stationary stars and galaxies and moons that hurtled around the planet. Depending on the angle of approach, comets and asteroids straying too close to Saturn in the early solar system would have become locked into radically different orbits around the planet. Only three of the new moons have so-called prograde orbits, meaning they circle Saturn in the same direction that it rotates. The other 17 are in retrograde orbits, meaning they orbit the planet backwards. One is the most distant moon ever spotted from the planet.
The outer moons of Saturn fall into three broad families according to how they orbit the gas giant. Two of the new prograde moons appear to belong to a group that swings around Saturn at an angle of about 46 degrees. The moons, named after Inuit mythology, may once have belonged to one far larger moon that broke apart in the distant past. The new retrograde moons appear to belong to another group named after Norse mythology and are also thought to be fragments of a much bigger parent moon that was smashed to pieces in the solar system's violent past.
Cows Painted Like Zebras Attract Fewer Flies
An article on CNN reports results from a team of Japanese researchers who discovered that painting cows to look like zebras makes them less attractive to biting flies. I think they're a shoo-in for a 2020 Ig Nobel Prize. From the article: "A team of Japanese researchers recruited six cows and gave them each black-and-white stripes, black stripes and no stripes. They took photos of the cow's painted right side, counting the number of bites as they happened and watching how the cows reacted. While unpainted cows and cows with black stripes endured upward of 110 bites in 30 minutes, the black-and-white cows suffered fewer than 60 in the same period, researchers found. Zebras' stripes have more than aesthetic value; they help fend off bloodsuckers. Past studies have proven flies are less likely to land on black-and-white surfaces -- the polarization of light impairs their perception, so they can't properly decelerate, researchers wrote." The downside is that ranchers would need to spray down their cows multiple times a week for best results. "But fewer bites would improve the health of the cows, which would benefit the economy," reports CNN. "Plus, subbing in paint for pesticides would benefit the environment and human health, too, researchers said."
The study has been
published in the journal PLOS ONE.