Cool: An All Black And White (And Grey) Official Steamboat Willie LEGO Set

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Coming April 1st (and not as an April Fools’ joke), this is the Steamboat Willie set being released by LEGO ($90). The 791-piece set is entirely black and white and grey and includes “hidden wheels, moving steam pipes, rotating paddle wheels, adjustable crane and assorted elements including the ‘S.S. Willie’ boat name sign, ‘1928’ year sign and a ‘potato bin’. The boat’s bridge has space for a minifigure, a brick-built bell and assorted elements including the ship’s wheel and life buoy. The 2 steam pipes move up and down and the 2 paddle wheels rotate when the boat is pushed along.” That’s cool, I’m cool with all that. What I’m a little less cool with is the price tag. And what I’m not cool at all with? “All your coworkers and every roommate you’ve ever had, ever.” FACT. I’ve burned a lot of bridge in my life, and *sighing deeply* if I could go back and do it all over again, I never would have built those bridges in the first place, just catapulted flaming garbage across the river. “Wow — strong opinions, GW.” Thanks I’ve been working out.

Keep going for a bunch more shots.

Source: Geekologie – Cool: An All Black And White (And Grey) Official Steamboat Willie LEGO Set

Valve Software dreams of analyzing your brainwaves to tailor in-game rewards

Valve Software's Mike Ambinder offers a joking photo of what people think his job as Principal Experimental Psychologist looks like. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell was not on hand to confirm or deny Valve's use of power tools on his head.

Enlarge / Valve Software’s Mike Ambinder offers a joking photo of what people think his job as Principal Experimental Psychologist looks like. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell was not on hand to confirm or deny Valve’s use of power tools on his head. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

SAN FRANCISCO—Valve Software’s famously “flat” structure means most of its game-making staffers have vague titles. One of the few exceptions is its Principal Experimental Psychologist, who presented a futuristic gaming vision at this year’s Game Developers Conference—in particular, he made a few peculiar admissions about how Valve might one day study your brain activity in the middle of a game and what the company might do with it.

Before speaking, Valve Software’s Mike Ambinder laid out a very loud disclaimer about GDC’s “vision” track of panels: “This is supposed to be speculative,” he said. “This is one possible direction things could go.” Even with that caveat in mind, Ambinder’s choice of details is interesting to sink our teeth into, especially coming from a company that seems to offer more speculation about the future of gaming than it does actual applications of it (i.e. new games).

The slot machine of your mind?

The above and below images of Ambinder goofing off with Valve co-founder Gabe Newell weren’t just for yuks: “Every talk I’ve given, this reliably gets a laugh. Think about that. What if we could elicit reliable reactions [from video games] and determine we were doing so?”

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Source: Ars Technica – Valve Software dreams of analyzing your brainwaves to tailor in-game rewards

Dashcam Video Shows Tesla Steering Toward Lane Divider – Again

AmiMoJo shares a report from Ars Technica: The afternoon commute of Reddit user Beastpilot takes him past a stretch of Seattle-area freeway with a carpool lane exit on the left. Last year, in early April, the Tesla driver noticed that Autopilot on his Model X would sometimes pull to the left as the car approached the lane divider — seemingly treating the space between the diverging lanes as a lane of its own. This was particularly alarming, because just days earlier, Tesla owner Walter Huang had died in a fiery crash after Autopilot steered his Model X into a concrete lane divider in a very similar junction in Mountain View, California. Beastpilot made several attempts to notify Tesla of the problem but says he never got a response. Weeks later, Tesla pushed out an update that seemed to fix the problem. Then in October, it happened again. Weeks later, the problem resolved itself. This week, he posted dashcam footage showing the same thing happening a third time — this time with a recently acquired Model 3. “The behavior of the system changes dramatically between software updates,” Beastpilot told Ars. “Human nature is, ‘if something’s worked 100 times before, it’s gonna work the 101st time.'” That can lull people into a false sense of security, with potentially deadly consequences.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – Dashcam Video Shows Tesla Steering Toward Lane Divider – Again

Facebook: Cambridge Analytica? Oh, You Mean That Cambridge Analytica

The attorney general for the District of Columbia may have obtained internal company emails showing that Facebook had knowledge of Cambridge Analytica’s data-harvesting efforts months sooner than CEO Mark Zuckerberg let on last year. But the company is now in court arguing to keep the emails under seal, saying the…

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Source: Gizmodo – Facebook: Cambridge Analytica? Oh, You Mean That Cambridge Analytica

Valve's Rocky Road To Better Communication About Steam

Credit to Valve: Over the past 15 years, it’s turned Steam into a megalith and kept it relevant with a steady, if slow, stream of new features. But in continually reacting to problems instead of anticipating them, and by keeping communication to a minimum, Valve has left a swath of damage in its wake, from review…

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Source: Kotaku – Valve’s Rocky Road To Better Communication About Steam

Micron Cuts DRAM and NAND Flash Output as ASP Falters

Micron has revealed plans to cut production of its DRAM and NAND flash products by 5% to combat its average selling price (ASP) falling by 20% in the quarter ended February 28, 2019. Oversupply in both sectors led to the sharp fall in pricing and was “worse-than-expected DRAM and NAND pricing.” Micron DRAM revenues experienced a “decrease 30% sequentially and 28% from a year earlier to account for 64% of its total revenues in the second quarter of its fiscal 2019.” Micron’s NAND revenue slid “18% sequentially and 2% on year to account for 30% of company revenues in the fiscal second-quarter 2019. ASPs went down about 25% from the first quarter.” Micron expects revenues to drop another 17% in fiscal Q3 2019. Micron bought back 21 million shares of its common stock. Thanks @workshop35 !



Looking into the fiscal third-quarter 2019, Micron expects revenues to register another sequential drop of about 17% to US$4.6-5 billion, with gross margin sliding to 37-40% from 50% in the prior quarter. “Micron continues to execute well across a range of product, operational and financial initiatives against the backdrop of a challenging market environment,” said Micron president and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra. “These initiatives and our focus on high-value solutions, cost competitiveness and innovation will enable us to emerge even stronger as the market environment improves.”

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Micron Cuts DRAM and NAND Flash Output as ASP Falters

Splinter IT’S MUELLER TIME | Deadspin Stop Excusing Tom Izzo’s Assholery | TV Club Mötley Crüe biopi

Splinter IT’S MUELLER TIME | Deadspin Stop Excusing Tom Izzo’s Assholery | TV Club Mötley Crüe biopic The Dirt makes even the viewer feel the need to shower afterward | The Slot Robert Mueller Went Ahead and Filed His Report | The Root Va. Police Pull Guns, Handcuff College Students Over Broken Tail Light. Cop Claims…

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Source: LifeHacker – Splinter IT’S MUELLER TIME | Deadspin Stop Excusing Tom Izzo’s Assholery | TV Club Mötley Crüe biopi

Two serious WordPress plugin vulnerabilities are being exploited in the wild

Close-up photo of police-style caution tape stretched across an out-of-focus background.

Enlarge (credit: Michael Theis / Flickr)

Attackers have been actively exploiting serious vulnerabilities in two widely used WordPress plugins to compromise websites that run the extensions on top of the content management system.

The two affected plugins are Easy WP SMTP with 300,000 active installations and Social Warfare, which has about 70,000 active installations. While developers have released patches for both exploited flaws, download figures indicate many vulnerable websites have yet to install the fixes. Figures for Easy WP SMTP, which was fixed five days ago, show the plugin has just short of 135,000 downloads in the past seven days. Figures for Social Warfare show it has been downloaded fewer than 20,000 times since a patch was published on WordPress on Friday. Sites that use either plugin should disable them immediately and then ensure they have been updated to version 1.3.9.1 of Easy WP SMTP and 3.5.3 of Social Warfare.

Attacks exploiting Easy WP SMTP were first reported by security firm NinTechNet on Sunday, the same day a patch became available. On Wednesday, a different security firm, Defiant, also reported the vulnerability was under active exploit despite the availability of the patch. The exploits allow attackers to create rogue administrative accounts on vulnerable websites.

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Source: Ars Technica – Two serious WordPress plugin vulnerabilities are being exploited in the wild

Well I'm Impressed: Woman Performs Brief Routine With Light-Up Nunchucks

This is a video of a female nunchucker giving us a brief taste of her skill with a short routine using light-up nunchucks, or lightchucks as they’re probably called but I was too lazy to Google and verify. Admittedly, I do kinda want some. And a disco ball in my living room. Of course I’ll need to have a living room again first, but these things come with time. “No, these things come with paying your rent so I wouldn’t have had to evict you.” Whatever, Mr. Landlord, why should I pay rent when you never even fixed the broken toilet? “The one you jump-kicked the tank off of and flooded the apartment because it ‘couldn’t handle a real turd’?” Yes, that’s the one.

Keep going for the video.

Source: Geekologie – Well I’m Impressed: Woman Performs Brief Routine With Light-Up Nunchucks

The Heroes of This Week's Best New Comics Are Powered by Belief

Special powers or prophesied destinies aside, having conviction and powerful faith in something is often what makes comic book heroes special. Usually, that faith is in something larger and more grandiose like a deity or mystical being, but the heroes of this week’s best new comics draw strength from the faith they’ve…

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Source: io9 – The Heroes of This Week’s Best New Comics Are Powered by Belief

The US Desperately Needs a 'Fiber For All' Plan

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a new report calling for a “fiber for all” plan to combat the broadband access crisis in the United States. Government data and independent analysis show we are falling behind the rest of the developed world in this area, and “the U.S. is the only country that believes having no plan will solve this issue,” writes Ernesto Falcon from the EFF. “We are the only country to completely abandon federal oversight of an uncompetitive, highly concentrated market that sells critical services to all people, yet we expect widely available, affordable, ultra-fast services. But if you live in a low-income neighborhood or in a rural market today, you know very well this is not working and the status quo is going to cement in your local broadband options to either one choice or no choice.” From the report: Very small ISPs and local governments with limited budgets are at the frontline of deploying fiber to the home to fix these problems, but policymakers from the federal, state, and local level need to step up and lead. At least 19 states still have laws that prohibit local governments from deploying community broadband projects. Worst yet, both AT&T and Verizon are actively asking the FCC to make it even harder for small private ISPs to deploy fiber, so that the big incumbents can raise prices and suppress competition, a proposal EFF has urged the FCC to reject.

This is why we need to push our elected officials and regulators for a fiber-for-all-people plan to ensure everyone can obtain the next generation of broadband access. Otherwise, the next generation of applications and services won’t be usable in most of the United States. They will be built instead for markets with better, faster, cheaper, and more accessible broadband. This dire outcome was the central thesis to a recently published book by Professor Susan Crawford (appropriately named Fiber) and EFF agrees with its findings. If American policymakers do not remedy the failings in the US market and actively pursue ways to drive fiber deployment with the goal of universal coverage, then a staggering number of Americans will miss out on the latest innovations that will occur on the Internet because it will be inaccessible or too expensive. As a result, we will see a worsening of the digital divide as advances in virtual reality, cloud computing, gaming, education, and things we have not invented yet are going to carry a monopoly price tag for a majority of us — or just not be accessible here. This does not have to be so, but it requires federal, state, and local governments to get to work on policies that promote fiber infrastructure to all people. Most of the talk lately has been about 5G networks, but the less-spoken truth about these networks is that they need dense fiber networks to make them work. “One estimate on the amount of fiber investment that needs to occur is as much as $150 billion — including fiber to the home deployments — in the near future, and we are far below that level of commitment to fiber,” the report says.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – The US Desperately Needs a ‘Fiber For All’ Plan

Sikorsky-Boeing joint effort for Army’s assault aircraft program makes first flight

Defiant helicopter

Enlarge / The Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant. (credit: Sikorsky/Boeing)

The Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant, one of two aircraft competing for the US Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program, has finally made its first flight—a short bit of hovering around an airfield at a Sikorsky facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. The flight comes over 15 months after the Bell V-280 Valor (the other competitor for the program to replace the Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk) took flight. But the reasons for the delay are pretty straightforward: the SB-1 prototype is only the fourth actual aircraft ever built using Sikorsky’s Advancing Blade Concept rotor design, while the V-280 is based on the (relatively) mature technology behind the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor.

The Defiant helicopter uses two stacked, contra-rotating rigid composite rotors for its lift and a pusher propeller for thrust at high speeds. Since it is a true helicopter, it has a much smaller footprint than the V-280, which has two tiltrotors positioned at its wingtips. At least in theory, the Defiant will handle more like a traditional helicopter when maneuvering in tight quarters, such as the urban environments that the Army has placed particular emphasis on in its future war planning. Manipulation of the pitch of the rotors could make for more agile maneuvering.

That, however, remains theory.

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Source: Ars Technica – Sikorsky-Boeing joint effort for Army’s assault aircraft program makes first flight

The FuckJerry Meme Theft Lawsuit Somehow Got Even More Ridiculous

In a strange twist of events, the lawsuit against FuckJerry alleging that the Instagram account stole a meme to promote JAJA tequila has been dismissed. Mainly, because the guy they allegedly stole the meme from actually stole it from someone else.

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Source: Gizmodo – The FuckJerry Meme Theft Lawsuit Somehow Got Even More Ridiculous

Supernatural Isn't Immortal After All, and Will End With Season 15

Seems like just yesterday that we were cracking wise about the inevitable renewal of CW mainstay Supernatural, but lo, the show that aired its first episode in September 2005—the long-ago era of President George W. Bush, Batman Begins, and “Hollaback Girl”—will be ending its run after its 15th season.

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Source: io9 – Supernatural Isn’t Immortal After All, and Will End With Season 15

VRoamer Generates On-The-Fly VR Experiences While Walking Through Buildings

VRoamer is a new Microsoft Research project that generates VR worlds on-the-fly while users walk through unknown building environments. Players can wear their HMD and no longer have to rely on artificial locomotion techniques such as teleportation. They simply walk through their environment and the game is built around them. This is possible through the use of a wearable tech camera that scans the environment in front of the user and visualizes a playable virtual world. The system paints its virtual environment over real world objects such as doors. The system keeps the user safe from objects in the real world, even though those objects are hidden to the user. Transitions are done through corridors that are constructed to the available space in the user’s environment. Players can open real doors to progress the game and the corridors may contain weapons, enemies, keys, etc. Objects that suddenly appear in a user’s environment such as other people may become skeletons or traps.



In this paper, we present VRoamer, which enables users to walk unseen physical spaces for which VRoamer procedurally generates a virtual scene on-the-fly. Scaling to the size of office buildings, VRoamer extracts walkable areas and detects physical obstacles in real time using inside-out tracking, instantiates pre-authored virtual rooms if their sizes fit physically walkable areas or otherwise generates virtual corridors and doors that lead to undiscovered physical areas.

The use of these virtual structures that connect pre-authored scenes on-the-fly allow VRoamer to (1) temporarily block users’ passage, thus slowing them down while increasing VRoamer’s insight into newly discovered physical areas, (2) prevent users from seeing changes beyond the current virtual scene, and (3) obfuscate the appearance of physical environments. VRoamer animates virtual objects to reflect dynamically discovered changes of the physical environment, such as people walking by or obstacles that become apparent only with closer proximity.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – VRoamer Generates On-The-Fly VR Experiences While Walking Through Buildings

The DHS Issues Medical Advisory for Medtronic Cardiac Devices

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a cybersecurity warning that documents vulnerabilities in the Medtronic Conexus Radio Frequency Telemetry Protocol. Medtronic makes cardio-defibrillators that are planted into a patient’s chest and can be read and programmed by trained medical personnel. This allows the devices to communicate with home monitoring devices and Carelink programmers found at doctor’s offices. These vulnerabilities require a low level of skill to exploit as the proprietary Conexus telemetry protocol utilized within this ecosystem does not implement authentication or authorization. An attacker can inject, replay, modify, and/or intercept data within the telemetry communication. This communication protocol provides the ability to read and write memory values to affected implanted cardiac devices; therefore, an attacker could exploit this communication protocol to change memory in the implanted cardiac device. Because the devices also lack encryption, attackers can listen to communications, including the transmission of sensitive data. Medtronics is working on developing updates to fix the vulnerabilities.



“It is possible with this attack to cause harm to a patient, either by erasing the firmware that is giving necessary therapy to the patient’s heart, or by directly invoking shock related commands on the defibrillator,” he said. “Since this protocol is unauthenticated, the ICD cannot discern if communications its receiving are coming from a trusted Medtronic device, or an attacker.” A successful attacker could erase or reprogram the defibrillator’s firmware, and run any command on the device.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – The DHS Issues Medical Advisory for Medtronic Cardiac Devices

IT'S MUELLER TIME

After two years of feverish speculation, anticipation, and hype, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s near-mythological report into Russian interference in the 2016 election—and President Donald Trump’s possible involvement in it—has finally landed, freeing us from one long national nightmare and possibly plunging us into…

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Source: LifeHacker – IT’S MUELLER TIME