Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for February 16th, 2017

This 3,000-Year-Old Bronze Age Sword Is Absolutely Incredible

Posted by kenmay on February - 16 - 2017

In what archaeologists are calling the “find of a lifetime, ” a horde of Late Bronze Age weapons has been discovered at a Scottish construction site. Among the items found is a gold-decorated spearhead, and a 3, 000-year-old bronze sword in remarkably good condition. Read more…

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YouTube now has over one billion auto-captioned videos

Posted by kenmay on February - 16 - 2017

Over a billion videos on YouTube are accessible to viewers who are hard of hearing or completely deaf, thanks to the video platform’s automated captions . YouTube product manager Liat Kaver has announced the milestone number in a blog post, where he also talked about how hard it was growing up as a kid who’s hard of hearing and having very little access to closed captions. After his team launched automated captions in 2009, they started concentrating on making it more available and improving its accuracy. Kaver said they made automated captions more available to YouTubers by combining Google’s automatic speech recognition technology with the YouTube caption system. They then achieved a 50 percent leap in accuracy — for English captions, at least — by improving the service’s machine learning algorithms and expanding its training data. We all know how funny caption fails can be, but people who have no other way of knowing what was actually said would end up missing bits of information. In the image above, you’ll see an example comparing the service’s old (left) and current (right) models. Going forward, the company aims to improve the accuracy of the 10 other languages its caption tech supports. Kaver is encouraging YouTube creators to chip in and review the accuracy of machine-generated captions for their videos, as well. After all, the more data they have on their hands, the easier it’ll be to improve the technology. Source: YouTube

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Imagine a near future when detectives looking for evidence in a murder investigation could slap on a pair of rubber gloves that would light up when the cop touched a certain chemicals. MIT scientists just created an early version of this technology , and it looks super cool. Read more…

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The GPD Pocket is a wee laptop with a 7″ high-dpi touchscreen display and an enticing $399 price tag. It’ll be light on power, with an Intel Atom CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, but promises about 12 hours on a charge and two USB ports, one of them type C. There’s a ThinkBook-style tracknipple in lieu of a trackpad. It’ll run Ubuntu or Windows 10 and, somehow, they managed to sneak a headphone jack on there. (more…)

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Enlarge (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images) Remember those crazy days in 2011 and 12 when we thought that the mobile market might become a three-horse race between Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile, with Blackberry bringing up the rear? Well, I have bad if unsurprising news: by the end of last year, 99.6 percent of all new smartphones ran either Android or iOS—a return to the status quo that Ars first wrote about way back in 2009 . According to the latest figures from Gartner , both Android and iOS expanded their share of the market in 2016, while sales of Windows and Blackberry continued their free fall to the base of the cliff. Gartner, a research company that derives its figures from a range of sources, says that just 1.1 million Windows smartphones were sold in Q4 2016, down from 4.4 million in Q4 2015. Similarly, Blackberry device sales fell from 906,000 to 208,000. The action at the top of the sales table, between Apple and Samsung, was a little more exciting. For the first time since Q4 2014 Apple has apparently retaken pole position from Samsung, with 77 million iPhones shifted last quarter versus 76.8 million units for the Korean chaebol. Samsung still shipped the most smartphones over the course of 2016, but its share of the market decreased from 22.5 percent to 20.5. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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According to a ruling by judges at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the disputed patents on the gene-editing tool CRISPR belong to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. “The ruling comes a little over two months after a high-profile court hearing, during which MIT and University of California, Berkeley heatedly argued about who should own CRISPR, ” The Verge reports. From their report: STAT News reported that the decision was one sentence long. The three judges decided that the Broad patents are different enough from the ones the University of California applied for that the Broad patents stand. The patent ruling suggests that the work done by Jennifer Doudna of the University of California and her colleagues on CRISPR wasn’t so groundbreaking as to make any other advance obvious. But that legal opinion isn’t how the science world views her work, STAT points out: “Doudna and her chief collaborator, Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in the life sciences in 2015, the $500, 000 Gruber Genetics Prize in 2015, and the $450, 000 Japan Prize in 2017, ” the outlet notes. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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