NASA designs ape-like robot for disasters
When we imagine the robots of the future, they often look and move like humans, standing up on two legs and using a pair of arms to grab and move objects. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is working on a different kind of robot for disaster response that’s designed to move like an ape.
Headless but covered with seven cameras that act as “eyes,” the RobotSimian has four identical limbs that do double duty as arms and legs. Together, they ably move the robot across rough terrain and rubble but can also pick up and manipulate objects. It has wheels it can coast on if the surface is smooth enough.
The RoboSimian is JPL’s final entry into the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a 27-month-long competition among some of the world’s top robotic talent to create an emergency response robot.
If you think Microsoft should just kill off Internet Explorer already, you might just get your wish.
The browser has become synonymous with bugs, security problems and outdated technology. Even as Internet Explorer has improved dramatically in recent years, it continues to lose serious ground to rival browsers.
Once the most-used Web browser, Internet Explorer had been on a steady downward trajectory for years. Its share of the browser market fell below the 50% threshold in 2010 and sank below 20% in October, according to browser usage tracker StatCounter. Google’s ( , Tech30) Chrome is currently the browser leader, commanding a 48% share of the market.
This summer, Microsoft (Tech30) promised big, upcoming changes for Internet Explorer. Now, it appears those changes could include the once-unthinkable: Replacing IE with a new browser.,
Gmail activity has flat-lined in China, raising suspicions about further government censorship of the Internet.
Gmail traffic in China tumbled to near zero on Dec. 26 and hasn’t budged since, according to Google’s transparency report.
Dyn Research, a group of scientists that reports on Internet issues, tweeted that the Chinese government had deliberately blocked Gmail in China, according to its analysis. The research group also said that “blocks” of Google served from Hong Kong have shut down throughout the country.
Google (GOOGL, Tech30) and China have had a testy relationship since 2010, when Google pulled its business out of the country. Google’s websites are no longer served in China; instead, its servers reside in Hong Kong, which is not subject to the same censorship laws that the rest of China is.
Google Unveils ‘Complete’ Driverless Car
Google has built its first fully functioning self-driving vehicle and it will be driving the streets of California in the New Year.
The search engine giant posted a picture of the bubble-shaped car on its website with the message: “The vehicle we unveiled in May was an early mockup – it didn’t even have real headlights!
“Since then, we’ve been working on different prototypes-of-prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car – for example, the typical “car” parts like steering and braking, as well as the “self-driving” parts like the computer and sensors.
“We’ve now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle – our first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving.”
The company added that the car will be driven over the Christmas period on a test track before heading out onto the roads of northern California.
A safety driver will be onboard to “oversee the vehicle for a while longer,
So, North Korea’s Internet went down. What is it like anyway?
For most North Koreans, it’s nonexistent. There are only 1,024 known IP addresses in the entire country. The Internet is typically reserved for government officials, a few foreign ambassadors and outside assistance groups, according to a North Korean defector-turned-journalist.
By comparison, the United States has 1.5 billion IP addresses.
It’s important to note that it’s not one IP address per device, so there could be thousands of devices hooked up to the Internet in North Korea. Still, it has one of the smallest Internet presences in the world.
All sorts of devices are hooked up to the Internet there, however. There are a few Sony PlayStations and XBoxes, and some of those ubiquitous voice-over-IP office phones, too. Researchers have even spotted a MacBook — one single Macbook — connected to the world-facing Internet.
Companies like Apple (AAPL,
Google is starting to show the full text of song lyrics in search results.
It’s a clean and quick solution to the current messy method of looking up lyrics. Song lyric sites are notoriously slow, and they inundate you with pop-up ads.
The feature, which rolled out last week, seems to be in testing mode. Google doesn’t display text for most songs. For instance, it only works with 4 of the top 10 classic rock songs considered the best of all time: “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II),” “Freebird,” “Layla” and “Stairway to Heaven.”
Google’s song results also link back to Google Play, where you can buy and download the song.
A Google (GOOG) spokesman provided an enigmatic comment about its new feature — a reference to Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
Mark Zuckerberg Says They Are Thinking About A Dislike Function
Facebook is thinking about adding a way to “dislike” posts on its site, founder Mark Zuckerberg has said.
Speaking at a Q&A session in California, he said it was one of the most requested features the social network receives from its users.
He said the site would need to find a way to make sure it did not become a way to demean people’s posts.
According to Facebook’s own figures, 4.5 billion “likes” are generated every day.
“A lot of times people share things on Facebook that are sad moments in their lives. Often people tell us that they don’t feel comfortable pressing ‘like’ because ‘like’ isn’t the appropriate sentiment.
Facebook Wants to Save You From Yourself and Your Drunk Selfies
Facebook is investing in artificial intelligence research to a potentially creepy end: The social network’s top minds want to build software that can do anything from read your status updates to warn you when you’re about to upload an embarrassing picture. Put another way, Facebook wants to stop you from uploading drunk selfies.
Let me just say that some of us like uploading drunk selfies. But a lot of users probably won’t like the slightly dystopian future when Facebook’s robots try to censor their content. The particular branch of AI research that would enable these kinds of features is known as “deep learning.” It’s an exciting field! However, Facebook’s ideas for how it would use deep learning technology just sound a little off.
Instagram hits 300m monthly users to take it ahead of Twitter
Instagram has told Newsbeat it has the potential to “change the world” as it announced it has overtaken Twitter with 300 million users.
The company’s CEO Kevin Systrom described the milestone as “exciting” and said the company would “continue to grow”.
Twitter claims to have 284 million users accessing the network each month.
Facebook, which boasts 1.35 billion monthly active users, bought Instagram in 2012.
Speaking to Newsbeat ahead of the announcement, Kevin Systrom said: “Instagram is about seeing a live pulse of the world right now, it’s not just about taking a photo of a cute baby or a cute dog.”
Instagram is also introducing verified accounts similar to the blue tick symbols used by Facebook and Twitter.
‘Inception’ Virus Hits European Governments
Experts have said the spying bug was made by people with a “great deal to lose if their identities were made public”.
An “extremely sophisticated” piece of malicious software has targeted embassies, financial institutions, oil companies and military bases across the globe.
Security Company Blue Coat says the virus, which the researchers have dubbed “Inception”, began by targeting Russian organizations, but spread to nearby countries including Ukraine and Uzbekistan, before hitting Europe.
Companies and institutions in Germany, France, Italy and Belgium have been affected.
The software, which spans 60 mobile networks, is delivered by highly targeted phishing emails, contained in Trojan documents.
Experts named the virus after the 2010 movie with the same name – because of the many layers used in the software design.
Snorre Fagerland, senior principal security researcher at Blue Coat,
YouTube’s most popular video of 2014 was Mutant Giant Spider Dog
In it, Wardega films people in everyday situations into which he unleashes his otherwise cute dog, Chica, wearing a costume that gives the pooch eight giant, creepy spider legs.
It wasn’t without a dose of controversy.
“Someone reported a SpiderDog video to the prosecution claiming that threatening (sic) endangered the life of the people who were there,” Wardega, whose first name is Sylwester, wrote in September on his Facebook page. “I wonder who will go to jail? Me or Chica? Or maybe a spider costume?”
New, kid-friendly versions of Google search and YouTube could be in the works for the tech giant.
A Google search for “train” brings up a link to the closest Amtrak station, but chances are that’s not what an eight-year-old is searching for. Kids are probably more interested in Thomas the Tank Engine than the most up-to-date commuting schedule.
That may be why Google is working on new, kid-friendly versions of some of its services.
They could be new versions of search, Chrome and YouTube, according to a report by USA Today, but the company would not say definitively what products it is working on or when they would launch.
Google will make them safe for children 12 years old and younger and give parents tools to oversee their kids’ actions, Google’s Pavni Diwanj told USA Today.
She said the company expects some controversy over the change,
5 ways to make your Wi-Fi faster
Tired of slow Wi-Fi? Fear not: Faster Wi-Fi speeds are possible
Wi-Fi is a temperamental technology, and a simple oversight can negatively impact browsing speeds.
Unfortunately, changing your router’s settings is rarely fun. But many routers come with apps that take much of the head-scratching out of the process.
If you’re brave and determined enough, here are five tips to make your Wi-Fi faster.
1) Choose the right channel and frequency. Did you know that your Wi-Fi router has channels? Sometimes, just changing the channel on your router can make a world of difference, particularly if you live in an apartment building with lots of interference from other Wi-Fi signals. Other technologies like cordless phones and microwaves can interfere with Wi-Fi as well.
Try channels 1, 6 or 11. If those don’t work, go to 2 or 10 next.
Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind
Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence.
He said:”The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI.
But others are less gloomy about AI’s prospects.
The theoretical physicist, who has the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is using a new system developed by Intel to speak.
Machine learning experts from the British company Swiftkey were also involved in its creation. Their technology, already employed as a smartphone keyboard app, learns how the professor thinks and suggests the words he might want to use next.
FBI warns of hacking threat after Sony attack
The five-page confidential warning was issued to US businesses on Monday, according to Reuters news agency.
The warning follows a confirmation from the FBI that it is investigating last week’s hack into Sony Pictures Entertainment’s network.
The FBI report did not name any victims in its latest warning, Reuters said.
The software would make it impossible to recover any lost data, the FBI warned.
Someone Made a Keyboard That Is Nothing but a #Hashtag
No matter how insulting the hashtag is to the world’s language purists and social media skeptics, the little symbol is here to stay. And now it’s moving on up in the world, with its own Kickstarter project for a dedicated keyboard.
The London-based project was started by former community manager Ben Gomori, who — as his bio puts it — knows “how annoying it can be not having a hashtag key.”
The gadget, called HashKey, is simple. One end is a USB cable that plugs into the port of your laptop, and the other end is a single, suspiciously-Apple-inspired key with a hashtag on it. That’s it.
Five-year-old passes Microsoft exam
A boy from Coventry has become the youngest computer specialist in the world.
Ayan Qureshi is now a Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the tech giant’s exam when he was just five years old.
Ayan, now six, whose father is an IT consultant, has set up his own computer network at home.
He said he found the exam difficult but enjoyable, and hopes to set up a UK-based tech hub one day.
“The hardest challenge was explaining the language of the test to a five-year-old. But he seemed to pick it up and has a very good memory,” explained Ayan’s father Asim.
Mr Qureshi introduced his son to computers when he was three years old. He let him play with his old computers,
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