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Facebook Gearing Up For Live Streaming

June 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc has inked deals worth more than $50 million with media giants and celebrities to create videos for its live-streaming service, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Facebook has signed nearly 140 deals, including with CNN, the New York Times, Vox Media, Tastemade, Mashable and the Huffington Post, the Journal reported on Tuesday, citing a document.

Comedian Kevin Hart, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, wellness guru Deepak Chopra and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson are among the celebrities that Facebook has partnered with.

“We have an early beta program for a relatively small number partners that includes a broad range of content types from regions around the world,” Justin Osofsky, the vice president of global operations and media partnerships at Facebook, said in an email.

“We wanted to invite a broad set of partners so we could get feedback from a variety of different organization about what works and what doesn’t.”

The document shows that Facebook’s deal with online publisher BuzzFeed has the highest value at $3.05 million, the Journal said, followed by the New York Times at $3.03 million and CNN at $2.5 million.


Molecule Essential To Life Found In Deep Space

June 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Molecules with “right-handed” and “left-handed” versions are essential to all life on Earth, and have been found in meteors and comets. Now, for the first time, one has been spotted in interstellar space.

Discovering such molecules in deep space, called chiral molecules, can help researchers understand the development of life on Earth, which is rich in those complex molecules — what presenters at the American Astronomical Society’s summer meeting in San Diego called “life’s first handshake.” The discovery is explained in this new video by Science Magazine.

“This [discovery] is going to provide us with a laboratory to try to test theories about the role that chiral molecules played in the origins of life here on Earth and how that chirality might play a role in the origins of life elsewhere in the galaxy,” Brett McGuire, a researcher at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Virginia and co-first author on the new work, said at the AAS press conference today (June 14). [50 Fabulous Deep-Space Nebula Photos]

The researchers used the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Parkes radio telescope in Australia to pinpoint the intricate molecule propylene oxide near the center of the Milky Way, in the mammoth star-forming cloud of gas called Sagittarius B2.

For the first time, scientists have measured a “handed” molecule in interstellar space. The molecule, propylene oxide, comes in both “left-handed” and “right-handed” varieties. It was found in the huge star-forming cloud of gas Sagittarius B2, pictured here alongside Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s center.

Key biological reactions on Earth rely on molecules with the property called chirality — compounds that can form in two different varieties that are mirror images of each other, sort of like left and right hands. Though the molecules are made of the same components, it’s impossible to flip one around to make it exactly match the other.

On Earth, most chiral molecules exist largely in a single formation, even though when you create them chemically from scratch, both varieties will form. Many chemical reactions only work when molecules of a particular “handedness” interact with each other.

“When you shake somebody’s hand, your right hand shakes another right hand, and it forms that nice, interlocking gesture; if you try to shake a left hand with your right hand it’s a little awkward because the interaction is different,” McGuire said. “Chiral molecules work the same way.”

Processes powered by one particular “handedness” will produce more of that same type of molecule, and molecules with the wrong “handedness” won’t work at all in many biological systems. Because of that, most of the important chiral molecules on Earth, like amino acids, are all the same “handedness” as each other. But scientists don’t know how the Earth came to favor particular varieties to start with.

Researchers have found complex organic molecules on meteorites and comets, including chiral molecules which have shown a slight preference for one handedness over the other. Just a few percent excess “could be the tipping point that pushed life in a single direction, and that gave life the push it needed to, say, use only left-handed amino acids,” Brandon Carroll, the work’s other first author and a chemistry graduate student at California Institute of Technology, said at the conference.

“But if we want to understand where and how this started, we have to go even further back than the meteorites; we have to look at the gas clouds where these molecules formed from,” he added.

In this case, they spotted a hefty dose of propylene oxide in distant interstellar space — about 80 percent Earth’s mass, which at room temperature would take up five and a half earths’ worth of space, Carroll said.

If chiral materials had existed already in the cloud of gas and dust from which the solar system formed, or if they’d fallen to Earth on a meteorite or had been carried on a comet, that could explain Earth’s preference — and also help explain the process of life’s first formation on Earth.

The researchers’ measurements of the propylene oxide don’t reveal which handedness the far-off molecules have; the data from the radio telescopes show only the composition, not how each molecule is put together. However, future work could try to determine that by watching how the molecules interact with polarized light, which corkscrews in a particular direction, the researchers said.

“Now it gives us a testbed, some molecule we can actually go back and perform the far more complicated and challenging observations necessary to detect the handedness,” Carroll said. “That’s what we’re really excited about, because that will let us start to test theories about processes that might actually have chiral preference in the interstellar medium.”



AMD Touts Zen

June 17, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has released a short video where its lead system engineer Louis Castro running Doom on its Summit Ridge, Zen-based processor.

This means that the silicon is in good shape and the processor was taped our probably late last year with no major issues. AMD’s CEO Lisa Su has already said that the desktop version shall arrive first, and this was the CPU demonstrated in the video.

Summit Ridge is not an APU and doesn’t have a GPU core. AMD engineers were using a discreet GPU probably from one they found out the back.

The Summit Ridge is an FM4 socket processor and half dozen of them are shown in the video.




Will EA Screw-Up The Star Wars Game Franchise?

June 17, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

EA has been telling the world how it is going to use the rights it has on Star Wars games – it is going to make a lot of them.

At its E3 2016 press conference today, EA said that DICE and Motive were working on a new version of Star Wars: Battlefront for release in 2017. Visceral Games are creating an action-adventure game with an “original narrative set in the Star Wars universe with all-new characters.”

Respawn Entertainment is developing “a different style of gameplay” which takes place in a different timeline we have yet to explore with our EA Star Wars titles.” In other words, almost every EA studio is flat out making something Star Warish.

And while the company didn’t make any mention of it at the news conference, the preview video it showed fans offered a very brief glimpse of a player wearing a PlayStation VR headset, while an X-Wing’s cockpit was shown on screen. That’s likely to stoke anticipation about a reboot of the classic 1997 title “X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter.”

EA and Lucasfilm signed a multiyear licensing deal in 2013. Due, in large part, to the strength of “Star Wars Battlefront,” EA handily beat its earnings estimate in its most recent quarter. Star Trek Bridge, the simulation of the Bridge inside of an Enterprise, a big VR commitment from EA looks like a fun game too.



Yahoo Hires Advisors To Help Sale Trove Of Patents

June 9, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Inc  has hired boutique investment bank Black Stone IP LLC to aid in the selling of nearly 3,000 of the internet company’s patents, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company has sent letters to a number of potential buyers for the patents, which date back to when the company was founded in 1996 and also include its original search technology, the report said.

The deadline for bids for the patents has been set for mid-June by Yahoo, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In March, Yahoo said it would explore the sale of $1 billion to $3 billion of patents, property and “non-core assets”.

Yahoo and Black Stone IP were not immediately available for comment.


Verizon Reportedly To Submit $3B Bid For Yahoo

June 8, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Verizon Communications Inc is gearing up to submit a second-round bid of around $3 billion for Yahoo Inc’s core internet business, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Private-equity firm TPG was also expected to submit a second round bid for the assets, the newspaper reported.

Reuters reported last month that Verizon had added Bank of America to its roster of investment banks, as it looked to gain an edge over other bidders for Yahoo’s core assets.

Yahoo is expected to hold at least one more round of bidding, and the offers could change by the final round, the paper reported.

Yahoo did not comment on the report, while Verizon declined to comment.


Can MediaTek Win In The Car Space?

June 7, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek’s R&D teams are working with European-based car vendors to develop the company’s automotive electronics and virtual reality (VR) offerings.

Digitimes claims that having developed SoCs for smartphones, mobile devices, and connected home appliances, MediaTek is stepping up development of chips solutions for auto electronics and VR applications.

MediaTek is focused on in-car entertainment systems, and will be using its partnership with China-based NavInfo, a digital mapping service provider to help out.

NavInfo will sell subsidiary AutoChips (Hefei) and will also form a strategic alliance in which MediaTek will make an investment of US$100 million.
MediaTek will be developing VR for handsets and will support Google’s Daydream VR platform.

Meanwhile the team is flat out improving its IC solutions for Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable device applications. It is pretty sure that this will become the third largest segment after mobile devices and connected home appliances such as digital TVs. In fact the only two areas that MediaTek does not appear interested in is server and augmented reality (AR) applications.



Juno Spacecraft Expected To Reach Jupiter on July 4th

June 6, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has entered the home stretch of its five-year journey to Jupiter.

On May 27, Juno crossed a gravitational boundary between Jupiter and the sun, and the gas giant began pulling the spacecraft in ahead of a planned July 4 arrival, NASA officials said.

“As of tomorrow [May 28], and for the rest of the mission, we project Jupiter’s gravity will dominate as the trajectory-perturbing effects by other celestial bodies are reduced to insignificant roles,” Juno project manager Rick Nybakken, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

Juno launched in August 2011. Since then, three gravitational forces have markedly influenced the spacecraft’s trek — those of the sun, the Earth and Jupiter. At the beginning stages of Juno’s trip, Earth was most influential; more recently, the sun has had the biggest impact on the spacecraft’s trajectory, NASA officials said.

On July 4, the basketball-court-size Juno will fire its main engine for 35 minutes, changing the probe’s velocity and allowing it to slide into an elliptical orbit around Jupiter.

Once Juno is in orbit, the spacecraft will fly around Jupiter at least 37 times, coming within just 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) of the planet’s cloud tops during its closest approaches.

Juno will study the gas giant’s auroras and gather a variety of data that should shed light on Jupiter’s formation, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, NASA officials have said. Science operations at Jupiter are scheduled to last for at least one year.

Juno will be the second probe ever to orbit Jupiter, after NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, which studied the gas giant up close from 1995 through 2003.

Unlike the nuclear-powered Galileo, Juno uses solar energy and is equipped with the largest solar arrays ever flown on an interplanetary spacecraft. Each of Juno’s three solar panels is 8.9 feet wide by 29 feet long (2.7 by 8.9 meters).



Can Europa Really Support Alien Life?

June 3, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Jupiter’s moon Europa might be able to support life even if there’s little or no volcanic activity under the satellite’s icy shell, a new study suggests.

A salty ocean of liquid water is believed to lie beneath Europa’s icy exterior. Scientists think this ocean could be habitable, if it harbors the required chemical building blocks and the right proportion of elements to provide energy for biological systems — the right ratio of oxygen to hydrogen, for example.

The new study suggests that there is, indeed, enough of that energy. A research team led by Steve Vance, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, found that, even without taking possible volcanic processes into account, Europa likely produces 10 times more oxygen than hydrogen, just as Earth does.

According to the team’s calculations, Europa’s hydrogen is generated as seawater reacts with rock in the moon’s crust. Europa has cooled slowly over the eons, forming new cracks in the crust that expose more rock to seawater, thus generating more hydrogen, the researchers said.

Meanwhile, the oxygen would come from ice on Europa’s surface. Radiation from Jupiter — which is far more intense than anything experienced on Earth’s surface — breaks water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen then reacts with other compounds in the water as well as the hydrogen. As the oxidants sink, they get recycled into Europa’s interior, and then into the ocean, study team members said.

Until now, many planetary scientists thought that Europa, kneaded by Jupiter’s gravity, would be volcanically active. After all, the neighboring moon Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system; Jupiter’s gravity and tidal forces deform Io’s crust and mantle, generating huge amounts of heat.

Something similar could be happening at Europa, but nobody knows for sure if it is. Much speculation about possible Europan life envisions a biosphere that resembles the clusters of life found near hydrothermal vents on Earth’s ocean floor. But the new research suggests that volcanism isn’t necessary to cycle chemicals through the ocean, and thus is probably not necessary for living things to survive, study team members said.

The study was published online last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.



MediaTek To Spin-Off Virtual Reality Unit

May 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek is so confident about its VR plans it is going to spin off its VR division to form an independent company in June.

A recent Chinese-language Economic Daily News report claims that Mediatek wants the spun off business to drive VR sales. It all sounds pretty good but MediaTek have sort of denied the rerport.

Well we say sort of denied it. What it has told the Taiwan Stock Exchange  that it was not the report’s source, which is not quite the same thing.The spin off could go ahead, but MediaTek is denying that it told the EDN its cunning plans. But then again the EDN did not name its source either. Without a denial from the company we are none the wiser.

MediaTek’s VR unit was set up between end-2015 and early-2016 to focus on the development of the company’s VR solutions for handsets, the EDN thought.



Facebook Implement Changes To ‘Trending Topics’ Amid Criticism

May 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc said that it had made some tweaks to the procedures for its “Trending Topics” section after a news report alleging it suppressed conservative news prompted a U.S. Congressional demand for more transparency.

The company said an internal probe showed no evidence of political bias in the selection of news stories for Trending Topics, a feature that is separate from the main “news feed” where most Facebook users get their news.

But the world’s largest social network said in a blogpost that it was introducing several changes, including elimination of a top-ten list of approved websites, more training and clearer guidelines to help human editors avoid ideological or political bias, and more robust review procedures.

Earlier this month, a former Facebook contractor had accused the company’s editors of deliberately suppressing conservative news. The allegations were reported by technology news website Gizmodo, which did not identify the ex-contractor.

The report led Republican Sen. John Thune to write a letter demanding that the company explain how it selects news articles for its Trending Topics list.

Two days after Thune’s letter, Facebook published a lengthy blogpost detailing how Trending Topics works even though it rarely discloses such practices. Previously, it had never discussed the inner workings of the feature, which displays topics and news articles in the top right hand corner of the desktop homepage for its more than 1.6 billion users.

Facebook said its investigation showed that conservative and liberal topics were approved as trending topics at nearly identical rates. It said it was unable to substantiate any allegations of politically motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources.

But it did not rule out human error in selecting topics.

“Our investigation could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies,” Colin Stretch, Facebook’s General Counsel, wrote in a company blogpost.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg met last week with more than a dozen conservative politicians and media personalities to discuss issues of trust in the social network.



Can eSport Be Used A Promo Tool?

May 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

While some publishers establish their own eSports divisions and appoint chief competition officers, Take-Two is approaching the competitive gaming trend with a bit more caution. Speaking with in advance of the company’s financial earnings report today, CEO and chairman Strauss Zelnick said the field was promising, but still unproven.

“eSports we find very interesting,” Zelnick said. “It is, however, still more a promotional tool than anything else. And most people see eSports as an opportunity to increase consumer engagement in their titles, and depending on the title, to increase consumer spending within the title.”

To date, Take-Two’s biggest eSports endeavor has been an NBA 2K tournament with 92,000 teams competing for a $250,000 prize. The final 16 teams are set to compete in a single-elimination tournament this weekend, with the finals taking place during the NBA Finals next month.

“It’s just the beginning for us,” Zelnick said of the tournament. “It’s very gratifying so far, but we have yet to see it as a stand-alone profitable business. We see it more as an adjunct to consumer engagement in our titles.”

Zelnick also addressed the company’s digital revenues, which for the first time made up more than half of its revenues for the year. While the industry has shifted heavily toward digital in recent years, Zelnick doesn’t see this as some sort of tipping point or a harbinger that physical goods are in for declines from here on out.

“This year was a little different because we had a very significant portion of this year’s revenue through digital distribution,” Zelnick said. “And that’s a reflection of the power of titles like Grand Theft Auto Online as well as PC titles, 90 percent of which are digitally delivered. With frontline console releases, your numbers are more like 20 percent from digital distribution. So physical distribution remains the lion’s share of our revenue.”

While Zelnick acknowledged the growth of digital distribution is a good thing for Take-Two, he specified that it wasn’t a strategy for the company because it’s ultimately out of his hands.

“We want to be where the consumer is, and we’re not really the ones who vote,” Zelnick said.


How Often Does Jupiter Get Whacked?

May 24, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Jupiter doesn’t get whacked by asteroids and comets quite as often as scientists had thought.

Objects big enough to generate a fireball visible from Earth — such as the spectacular one that occurred on March 17 — slam into Jupiter about 6.5 times per year, according to a new study based on the pooled observations of amateur astronomers around the world.

“In three years since our program started, amateur contributors from Europe, the U.S. and Australia have analyzed the equivalent of more than 56 days of videos — around 53,000 videos — without discovering an impact,” Marc Delcroix, who coordinates a group of about 60 skywatchers worldwide, said in a statement. [Jupiter Collision! Impact Captured by Amateur Astronomer (Video)]

“This is a result in itself and, together with the reports of amateur astronomer John McKeon, has helped us come up with our preliminary estimate, which slightly reduces previous estimates of the flux of impacting objects [at] Jupiter,” Delcroix added.

McKeon captured the March 17 Jupiter fireball on video. (Another amateur astronomer, Gerrit Kernbauer, spotted the impact first; McKeon went through his observations from that night after learning of Kernbauer’s find

Researchers think that the March 17 event was caused by an object 33 to 66 feet (10 to 20 meters) wide. Skywatchers have observed three other such Jupiter strikes since June 2010; all of them likely involved impactors in the same general size range, scientists have said.

But bigger objects hammer the gas giant fairly frequently as well. A 1,650-foot-wide (500 m) asteroid barreled into Jupiter in 2009, for example, and the big chunks of broken-apart Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 pummeled the huge planet in July 1994, leaving dark scars that were visible in Jupiter’s cloud tops for months.

Jupiter is much bigger and more massive than Earth, so the giant planet gets hit by cosmic objects thousands of times more often than our planet does. (Asteroids and comets are drawn in more frequently by Jupiter’s powerful gravity.)

Nailing down Jupiter’s precise impact rate is of interest to astronomers and planetary scientists as well as skywatchers.

“Unfortunately, we are still dealing with the statistics of a very few number of impacts detected, but plans to improve our detection methods and perform systematic searches will help us to detect more of these objects,” Ricardo Hueso Alonso, of the University of the Basque Country in Spain, said in the same statement. “That will allow us to know more about the current architecture of the outer solar system and the role of Jupiter in protecting the Earth from comparable impacts.”

The study team presented its results at a workshop on Jupiter for professional and amateur astronomers at the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in Nice, France. The workshop was organized by the Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure, a project designed to support planetary-science activities throughout Europe.


nVidia Outs The Tesla M10

May 24, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Nvidia has been talking about its Tesla M10 GPU designed to run on the latest version of the company’s GRID technology.

For those who came in late, GRID technology is supposed to give servers a kick in the graphics back-end. It powers virtual desktops and support cloud-powered gaming.

Nvidia says the Tesla M10 GPU can support up to 64 desktops per board and 128 per server with two boards. This means shedloads of virtual machines  which are potentially dead and alive.

The new graphics card ccan support Citrix’s XenApp and virtual PCs running Windows, or power virtual workstations that need the performance for professional graphics work.

The M10 is a bit like the M6 and M60 as a GPU accelerator – unlike the M10 motorway which is a disappointingly short road connected the M1 to the A414 just south of St Albans.

Companies making use of virtual machines or looking to substitute hardware for more efficient virtual systems can access the GRID and Tesla tech for less than $2 per month per user for use with virtual apps and remote desktop sessions, and the firm will provide virtual PCs for less than $6 per month per user.



Photos, Links To No Longer Count In Tweet’s 140 Character Limit

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc users will soon have more flexibility in posting tweets because the company plans to discontinue including photos and links as part of its 140-character limit, according to a Bloomberg report.

The social media platform has faced stagnant user growth. Months earlier, Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said the company would simplify its product in an effort to attract new users.

“We think there’s a lot of opportunity in our product to fix some broken windows that we know are inhibiting growth,” Dorsey said during a February earnings call.

Links currently take up to 23 characters of a tweet, limiting the amount of commentary that users can offer when sharing articles or other content.

Twitter has faced stagnant user growth, and shares have fallen more than 70 percent over the past year.

Twitter declined to comment on the report.