Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for August, 2017

Prisma hopes to market its AI photo filtering tech

Posted by kenmay on August - 21 - 2017

Prisma’s machine learning photography app may not be as hot as it was in 2016 , but that doesn’t mean it’s going away. If the developer has its way, you’ll see its technology in many places before long. The company tells The Verge that it’s shifting its focus from just its in-house app to marketing numerous computer vision tools based on its AI technology, ranging from object recognition to face mapping and detecting the foreground in an image. In theory, you’d see Prisma’s clever processing find its way into your next phone or a favorite social photography app. The Prisma app is staying put, to be clear — it has 5 million to 10 million monthly users, which is no mean feat for a small startup. It just won’t be the sole focus. There’s no mention of initial customers, but Facebook likely isn’t in the running given that it already riffed on the photo filtering concept soon after Prisma became popular. Not that Prisma is averse to dealing with its erstwhile rival. Co-founder Alexey Moiseenkov visited Facebook in 2016, and other founder Aram Airapetyan said it “doesn’t matter” who Prisma works with, so long as it can pursue its technology. Don’t be surprised if its technology is interesting enough that a larger company eventually decides that it eventually needs to snap up all of Prisma, rather than paying for a toolkit. Source: Prisma Labs

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Steve Price and Lily Hevesh set up a massive domino course that includes homages to classic board and video games, and some sections even use game pieces as part of the action. (more…)

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New surface is so slippery, shellfish can’t get a grip

Posted by kenmay on August - 20 - 2017

Enlarge / A sticky situation. (credit: University of Washington ) When engineers look at mussels, they’re typically looking in awe at how they anchor themselves to nearly every surface imaginable, all while under water. The fibers they use to attach themselves are incredibly strong, and the adhesive works wet or dry on all sorts of materials. For the most part, engineers are looking to create a substance with similar properties. This week, however, brings an exception: engineers who want to try to keep mussels from sticking to everything. Zebra mussels, a species that has invaded the Great Lakes, is estimated to cost utilities hundreds of millions of dollars each year due to clogged pipes and intakes. Ships, buoys, and pretty much anything else we put in the water also ends up needing to have mussels cleared off. The international team behind the new work has designed a material that mussels can’t seem to get a grip on. It’s not because the mussel’s adhesive fail; instead, the mussel itself doesn’t seem to know what it’s touching when it’s set down on the material. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Wisconsin Assembly voted 59-30 on Thursday to approve a bill to give incentives worth $3 billion to Taiwan-based Foxconn so that the company would open its first U.S. plant in the state. Foxconn, best known for supplying parts of Apple’s iPhones, will open the $10 billion liquid-crystal display plant in 2020, according to Reuters. The bill still has to be approved by a joint finance committee and the state Senate. Both houses of Wisconsin’s legislature are controlled by Republicans, and the deal is supported by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican who negotiated the deal. The vote was largely, but not entirely, along party lines. Three Democrats joined 56 Republicans in supporting the deal. Two Republicans and 28 Democrats voted against it. Opponents said the deal wasn’t a good use of taxpayer funds. The $3 billion incentives package includes about $2.85 billion in cash payments from taxpayers and tax breaks valued at about $150 million. The state is also waiving certain environmental rules. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Pakistan’s traditional third gender isn’t happy…

Posted by kenmay on August - 19 - 2017

Pakistan’s traditional third gender isn’t happy about the trans movement For centuries, South Asia has had its own Khawaja Sira, or third gender culture. The community, identifying as neither male nor female, are believed by many to be “God’s chosen people, ” with special powers to bless and curse anyone they choose. The acceptance of Khawaja Sira people in Pakistan has been held up internationally as a symbol of tolerance, established long before Europe and America had even the slightest semblance of a transgender rights movement. But the acceptance of people defining their own gender in Pakistan is much more complicated. Read more from our friends at PRI’s The World .

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Porn site offers to revive ‘Sense 8’ for a third season

Posted by kenmay on August - 18 - 2017

Sense8 is one of the more creatively interesting shows available on just about any streaming service. The Wachowski-made Netflix show, now in its second and final season, tells the story of eight people with special powers using very human themes: love, belonging, gender, and (of course) sex. It’s that last bit there that interests internet porn site xHamster. The company sent an open letter to Lilly and Lana Wachowski offering to pick up the tab for an “actual revival of the series.” xHamster vice president Alex Hawkins writes that his company gets “more visitors daily than the New York Times , ESPN or the Daily Mail .” Hawkins also notes that xHamster has “the eyeballs, and the revenue” to produce the series, promising that xHamster would allow the team a full production budget free of competition from other shows. Further, he says, “we know that a series about polymorphous perversity is a hard sell for a mainstream network like Netflix.” Now there’s an understatement. While Sense8 isn’t only about non-normative, multi-partnered sexuality, the series does spend an equal amount of time on human beings who have sexual desires, something many other televisions shows that purport to tell our stories could learn from. Even xHamster knows it is “an unlikely home, ” but Hawkins is undeterred. “…five years ago, people laughed at the idea of Netflix producing original series, ” he writes. “We think that our time, like yours, has come.” Via: TV Guide Source: xHamster

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Bing is bigger than you think! #SEM #PPC #bingadswebcast pic.twitter.com/fFtEDvM634 — Bing Ads (@BingAds) August 17, 2017 We’ve known from Microsoft’s financial reports that Bing has been growing. The search engine became profitable in the third calendar quarter of 2015, and Microsoft says it has continued to grow both the market share and revenue-per-search since then. But how big is Bing? Via OnMSFT , Microsoft tweeted yesterday that it’s “bigger than you think” and provided some numbers that will probably be a surprise to many. The company claims that fully one-third of searches in the US are powered by Bing, either directly or through Yahoo or AOL (both of which provide results generated by Microsoft). Other strong markets include Taiwan, at 24 or 26 percent, and the UK, at either 23 or 25 percent (depending on which tweet you read). Globally, the company is claiming a 9-percent market share. Google is still the runaway winner, of course, but Microsoft’s numbers (using data from comScore) suggest that in at least some parts of the world, Bing is big enough to take note of. The real target for this kind of data is, of course, advertisers; by showing that Bing is actually being used by large numbers of people, Microsoft hopes that it will become more appealing to those wanting to advertise alongside search results. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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I learned to drive on a five-speed Datsun 280ZX that had 195/70 R14 tires. (If you don’t understand what those numbers mean, read this breakdown of tire codes .) Yes, 14-inch wheels sporting tires with high sidewalls. This was normal in the ’80s, but nowadays the rage is to have beefier rims with low-profile tires, a trend that I suspect was advanced by car renderings. Every automotive renderer seems to draw rims that threaten to bottom out inside the wheel wells, with only the faintest sliver of black to indicate there’s any rubber on them. Nowadays you’d be hard-pressed to find 14″ wheels on any car claiming to offer sporty performance. Volkswagen’s GTI, as one example, comes standard with 15″ wheels, but I’m guessing most buyers ponying up for a GTI over the Golf upgrade to the 16″, 17″ or 18″ wheel options. Which wheel size is faster? Which size is preferred if you live in rainy Oregon versus dry Arizona? Which size offers more comfort, makes more noise, or handles better? To find out, Tyre Reviews tried out three different rim and tire sizes—225/45 R17, 225/40 R18, and 225/35 R19—on Goodyear’s test track in the south of France. Some of the results are surprising. By the bye, how brilliant are Goodyear’s executives for decreeing that their test track be located in the south of France?

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Daniela Forti’s stunning glass jellyfish tables

Posted by kenmay on August - 18 - 2017

Italian sculptor Daniela Forti makes gorgeous jellyfish tables from colored glass. Here’s a photo of how she creates the dramatic pieces, drawing out individual globs of glass into long tendrils: (more…)

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Crowdfunded reMarkable e-paper tablet ships on August 29

Posted by kenmay on August - 18 - 2017

 The idea of using technology to replicate the simplicity and versatility of paper is an enduring one, but no device has nailed it just yet. That may change with the reMarkable, a unique and ambitious tablet that aims to do what paper does, but better. And four years after the concept was first proposed, the team is finally shipping its first devices on August 29. Read More

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