Congress

Unknown Language Discovered in Malaysia

Researchers have cataloged close to 7, 000 distinct human languages on Earth, per Linguistic Society of America's latest count. That may seem like a pretty exhaustive list, but it hasn't stopped anthropologists and linguists from continuing to encounter new languages, like one recently discovered in a village in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula. From a report: According to a press release, researchers from Lund University in Sweden discovered the language during a project called Tongues of the Semang. The documentation effort in villages of the ethnic Semang people was intended to collect data on their languages, which belong to an Austoasiatic language family called Aslian. While researchers were studying a language called Jahai in one village, they came to understand that not everyone there was speaking it. "We realized that a large part of the village spoke a different language. They used words, phonemes and grammatical structures that are not used in Jahai, " says Joanne Yager, lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Linguist Typology. "Some of these words suggested a link with other Aslian languages spoken far away in other parts of the Malay Peninsula." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple signs ‘Battlestar Galactica’ developer for new space drama

Apple has ordered yet another TV series to add to its growing list of star-backed original productions. The company signed network sci-fi luminary Ronald D. Moore, veteran of several Star Trek series and developer of the Battlestar Galactica reboot, to create a completely new space drama. The show will explore what would have happened if the space race between the United States, Soviet Russia and the rest of the world hadn't ended. Fargo co-executive producers Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi will join Moore on the project, which does not yet have a title. It's the third series ordered by Apple's worldwide video programming division, which is headed by former Sony execs Jamie Erlicht & Zack Van Amburg. The tech giant had previously hired Steven Spielberg to produce a new version of the old Amazing Stories anthology series, as well as buying a TV drama created by and starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. There's no news on when Moore's show will be released, but his experience is reason enough to get excited. He started as a writer and eventual producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation before moving on to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and a stint on Star Trek: Voyager . He became a showrunner on HBO's Carnivale before developing the rebooted Battlestar Galactica and later Starz's Outlander series adapting the books of the same name. Moore also co-developed Amazon's upcoming sci-fi anthology series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams. Source: Deadline

65% of Washington DC’s Outdoor Surveillance Cameras Infiltrated by Romanian Hackers

An anonymous reader quotes The Hill: Two Romanian hackers stand accused of hacking more than 100 outdoor police security cameras in the D.C. area during the days leading up to President Trump's inauguration, according to a court document obtained by CNN. According to an affidavit from Secret Service agent James Graham, Mihai Alexandru Isvanca and Eveline Cismaru are accused of hacking and disabling 123 out of 187 of the city's cameras between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15... Isvanca and Cismaru are also accused in the affidavit of spreading ransomware. In a possibly-related story, the Washington Post reports: Five Romanian hackers were arrested over the past week as part of an international investigation into computer ransomware, officials in the United States and Europe said Wednesday. In six houses across Romania, law enforcement operatives from Romania, Britain, the United States and the Netherlands seized hard drives, laptops, external storage devices and documents related to malicious software called CTB-Locker or Critroini. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Why Paper Jams Persist

A trivial problem reveals the limits of technology. Fascinating story from The New Yorker: Unsurprisingly, the engineers who specialize in paper jams see them differently. Engineers tend to work in narrow subspecialties, but solving a jam requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, computer programming, and interface design. "It's the ultimate challenge, " Ruiz said. "I wouldn't characterize it as annoying, " Vicki Warner, who leads a team of printer engineers at Xerox, said of discovering a new kind of paper jam. "I would characterize it as almost exciting." When she graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology, in 2006, her friends took jobs in trendy fields, such as automotive design. During her interview at Xerox, however, another engineer showed her the inside of a printing press. All Xerox printers look basically the same: a million-dollar printing press is like an office copier, but twenty-four feet long and eight feet high. Warner watched as the heavy, pale-gray double doors swung open to reveal a steampunk wonderland of gears, wheels, conveyor belts, and circuit boards. As in an office copier, green plastic handles offer access to the "paper path" -- the winding route, from "feeder" to "stacker, " along which sheets of paper are shocked and soaked, curled and decurled, vacuumed and superheated. "Printers are essentially paper torture chambers, " Warner said, smiling behind her glasses. "I thought, This is the coolest thing I've ever seen." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple’s iOS 12 strategy: Take more time to squash the bugs

Enlarge / The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro. (credit: Andrew Cunningham) Apple has new features planned for its big, new iOS update—but not as many as you may expect. According to a Bloomberg report , the next sweeping iOS update, codenamed "Peace" and likely to be called iOS 12, will include a number of app redesigns, the expansion of Animoji into Facetime, and other changes but not some of the biggest rumored changes such as redesigned home screens for iPhone and iPad. Instead of filling iOS 12 with a bevy of new features, Apple is reportedly changing strategies to allow developers more time to perfect the new features to ensure reliability. The biggest change planned for iOS 12, slated for release this fall, is a universal app system that would allow one app to work across iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. Currently, users have to download separate iOS and macOS apps to use the same programs across their mobile devices and desktops or laptops. Along with this change, Apple could bring some mobile-specific apps to macOS, like the Home app that controls HomeKit-enabled smart home devices. Animojis will find another home in Facetime when iOS 12 is released. Apple is reportedly working on increasing the number of AR characters available and allowing users to don them during live Facetime video chats. A new iPad is reportedly in the works that has Apple's FaceID camera, which would allow it to support Animojis as well (Animojis are only currently available on the iPhone X , which has the new FaceID camera). Also planned for the new software update are a revamped stock-trading app and Do Not Disturb feature, an updated search view that leans more heavily on Siri, a new interface for importing photos onto an iPad, and multiplayer augmented reality gameplay. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

MoviePass adds 500,000 subscribers within a month

MoviePass' $10-per-month subscription service was a hit from the start, enough to crash the company's website when it was first announced. It looks like demand isn't slowing down anytime soon either: it has gained 500, 000 more subscribers merely a month after it reached 1.5 million users. The fact that MoviePass cut off members' access to some popular AMC theaters had little effect, if any. It's easy to see why 2 million would sign up: for 10 bucks a month -- an ongoing promo even cuts the price down to $7.95 -- they're entitled to see one 2D film a day, every day, without paying extra. In 2017, members bought $110 million worth of tickets and generated an additional $146 million in ticket sales by bringing non-members to showings. MoviePass chief Mitch Lowe said in a statement: "We're giving people a reason to go back to the movie theaters, and they're going in droves. With awards season here, we hope we can make Hollywood and exhibitors very happy by filling seats with eager audiences." As Bloomberg said, though, all these new users are both a blessing and a curse to the company. Every time a member watches a movie, the service pays for that subscriber's ticket at full price. It loses money for every member that watches two movies a month, and its accountants apparently already warned the company that its system might not be viable in the long run. AMC shares the same sentiment and once called the business model unsustainable. It's like turning "lead into gold, " the theater chain said in a statement last year. So, how does MoviePass plan to make money if subscribers aren't bringing in the cash? It's hoping to sell ads, merchandise and data on moviegoers' habits, as well as to get a cut of theaters' refreshment sales as they go up from all the viewers it brings to cinemas. The company is also hoping to convince theater chains to sell it tickets for its members at a discounted rate. It's unclear if MoviePass is already making headway with those plans, but when it dropped several AMC locations from its list, it said that the theaters it works with is subject to change as it "continue[s] to strive for mutually-beneficial relationships with" them. AMC chief Adam Aron has been quite a vocal critic of the service and already proclaimed that the chain has no intention of sharing its admissions or concessions revenue. Source: Bloomberg , Variety

‘Sinking’ Pacific Nation Tuvalu Is Actually Getting Bigger

mi shares a report from Phys.Org: The Pacific nation of Tuvalu -- long seen as a prime candidate to disappear as climate change forces up sea levels -- is actually growing in size, new research shows. A University of Auckland study examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu's nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery. It found eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, lifting Tuvalu's total land area by 2.9 percent, even though sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average. Co-author Paul Kench said the research, published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, challenged the assumption that low-lying island nations would be swamped as the sea rose. It found factors such as wave patterns and sediment dumped by storms could offset the erosion caused by rising water levels. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackers Manage To Run Linux On a Nintendo Switch

Romain Dillet reports via TechCrunch: Hacker group fail0verflow shared a photo of a Nintendo Switch running Debian, a distribution of Linux. The group claims that Nintendo can't fix the vulnerability with future firmware patches. According to fail0verflow, there's a flaw in the boot ROM in Nvidia's Tegra X1 system-on-a-chip. When your console starts, it reads and executes a piece of code stored in a read-only memory (hence the name ROM). This code contains instructions about the booting process. It means that the boot ROM is stored on the chip when Nvidia manufactures it and it can't be altered in any way after that. Even if Nintendo issues a software update, this software update won't affect the boot ROM. And as the console loads the boot ROM immediately after pressing the power button, there's no way to bypass it. The only way to fix it would be to manufacture new Nvidia Tegra X1 chips. So it's possible that Nintendo asks Nvidia to fix the issue so that new consoles don't have this vulnerability. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Scientists identify hundreds of atomically-thin materials

Enlarge / Molybdenum disulfide, one of the 2D materials we knew about. (credit: NC State ) Graphene may seem like a modern wonder-material, but it's been with us for ages in the form of graphite. Graphene is a sheet of carbon atoms bonded to each other, just one atom thick; graphite is just an agglomeration of these sheets layered on top of each other. To study graphene, however, it took someone clever to devise a way of peeling single layers off from this agglomeration (the secret turned out to be a piece of tape). Since then, we've identified a handful of additional chemicals that form sheets that are a few atoms thick. These have a variety of properties—some are semiconductors and have been combined with graphene to make electronic devices . To expand the range of device we can craft that build on the advantages of these atomically thin materials, a larger catalog of chemicals like this would be handy. Now, a Lithuanian-Swiss team says it's done just that. The team has found materials just like graphite: a bulk material with atomically thin layers hidden inside. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments