Ionut Budisteanu, 19, of Romania was awarded first place for using artificial intelligence to create a viable model for a low-cost, self-driving car at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. His whole system should work for no more $4,000.
Ionut created a feasible design for an autonomously controlled car that could detect traffic lanes and curbs, along with the real-time position of the car.
“The most expensive thing from the Google self-driving car is the high resolution 3-D radar, so I was thinking how I could remove it,” he told NBC News.
His solution relies on processing webcam imagery with artificial intelligence technology to pick out the curbs, lane markers, and even soccer balls that roll onto the road. This is coupled with data from a low-resolution 3-D radar that recognizes “big” objects such as other cars, houses, and trees.
All of this information is collected and processed real time by a suite of computers that, in turn, feed into a “supervisor” computer program that calculates the car’s path and drives it down the road.
Budisteanu ran 50 simulations with his system and in 47 of them it performed flawlessly. In three, however, it failed to recognize some people who were 65 to 100 feet (20 to 30 meters) away. He said slightly higher-resolution 3-D radar should do the trick and still keep costs at a fraction of Google’s.
The advantages of self-driving cars are many, noted Budisteanu. More than 2 million people die each year in car wrecks. An additional 50 million people are injured in traffic accidents. 87 percent of the car accidents are only because of human mistakes.
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Arxiv – Indication of anomalous heat energy production in a reactor device containing hydrogen loaded nickel powder
Giuseppe Levi, Bologna University, Bologna, Italy
Evelyn Foschi, Bologna, Italy
Torbjörn Hartman, Bo Höistad, Roland Pettersson and Lars Tegnér Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Hanno Essén, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
An experimental investigation of possible anomalous heat production in a special type of reactor tube named E-Cat HT is carried out. The reactor tube is charged with a small amount of hydrogen loaded nickel powder plus some additives. The reaction is primarily initiated by heat from resistor coils inside the reactor tube. Measurement of the produced heat was performed with high-resolution thermal imaging cameras, recording data every second from the hot reactor tube. The measurements of electrical power input were performed with a large bandwidth threephase power analyzer. Data were collected in two experimental runs lasting 96 and 116 hours, respectively. An anomalous heat production was indicated in both experiments. The 116-hour experiment also included a calibration of the experimental set-up without the active charge present in the E-Cat HT. In this case, no extra heat was generated beyond the expected heat from the electric input.
Computed volumetric and gravimetric energy densities were found to be far above those of any known chemical source. Even by the most conservative assumptions as to the errors in the measurements, the result is still one order of magnitude greater than conventional energy sources.
The device subject to testing was powered by 360 W for a total of 96 hours, and produced in all 2034 Watts thermal. This value was reached by calculating the power transferred by the E-Cat HT to the environment by convection and power irradiated by the device. The resultant values of generated power density (7093 W/kg) and thermal energy density (6,81 · 10^5 Watt hours per kg) place the E-Cat HT above conventional power sources.
The two test measurements described in this text were conducted with the same methodology on two different devices: a first prototype , termed E-Cat HT, and a second one, resulting from technological improvements on the first, termed E-Cat HT2 . Both have indicated heat production from an unknown reaction primed by heat from resistor coils.
The results obtained indicate that energy was produced in decidedly higher quantities than what may be gained from any conventional source. In the March test, about 62 net kWh were produced, with a consumption of about 33 kWh, a power density of about 5.3 · 10^5 , and a density of thermal energy of about 6.1 · 10^7 Wh/kg. In the December test, about 160 net kWh were produced, with a consumption of 35 kWh, a power density of about 7 · 10^3 W/kg and a thermal energy density of about 6.8 · 10^5 Wh/kg.
The difference in results between the two tests may be seen in the overestimation of the weight of
the charge in the first test (which was comprehensive of the weight of the two metal caps sealing the cylinder), and in the manufacturer’s choice of keeping temperatures under control in the second experiment to enhance the stability of the operating cycle.
In any event, the results obtained place both devices several orders of magnitude outside the bounds of the Ragone plot region for chemical sources.
Even from the standpoint of a “blind” evaluation of volumetric energy density, if we consider the whole volume of the reactor core and the most conservative figures on energy production , we still get a value of (7.93 ± 0.8) 10^2 MJ/ Liter that is one order of magnitude higher than any conventional source.
Lastly, it must be remarked that both tests were terminated by a deliberate shut down of the reactor, not by fuel exhaustion; thus, the energy densities that were measured should be considered as lower limits of real values.
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Setting up her own Tumblr, dropping Google+ from her Twitter profile, rolling with the zeitgeist – the chief executive of Yahoo has got internet style to burn
Marissa Mayer: she’s got style. First she buys Tumblr – which, OK, is one of those Big Corporate Acquisitions that gets everyone het up (if they’re on Tumblr) or analysing the cash flow (if they’re on Wall Street).
But Mayer? She took to Twitter, and to Tumblr, and – as was observed – may have become the first person to announce an acquisition with an animated GIF.
We also liked the fact that she took to Twitter (where she has a mere 330,000 followers – come on, Marissa, try harder) in order to announce the acquisition of Tumblr on her own Tumblr (natch), the faintly puzzlingly titled marissamayr.tumblr.com.
The obvious question: what happened to the “e” in her surname? “Hmm – marissamayer is also me but because of Tumblr/Flickr I thought I should be marissamayr.tumblr.com”, she explained. (It’s true that there’s a http://marissamayer.tumblr.com/, but it’s empty so far.)
Oh, and the other thing? Mayer deleted the Google+ link in her Twitter bio and replaced it with a Tumblr one (natch). Oh my, it’s an exodus.
And then it gets even better: she put up a second post on her Tumblr titled “great workplace dilemmas of our time” – referring neatly both to her own reputation for having instituted a “no more working from home” rule, and Tumblr’s for its “the internet is for porn” approach.
Let’s hope she doesn’t get too distracted posting to remember to actually run the company.
- Marissa Mayer
Tumblr’s acquisition by Yahoo looks like an investment not in search advertising but in content
In its latest attempt to inject some energy through acquisition, Yahoo is buying content creation platform Tumblr for $1.1bn. But what does Marissa Mayer see in Tumblr’s 26-year-old founder David Karp, and what does the deal mean for the rest of us?
This is a rational deal at a good time for both parties. Clocking 17.5bn monthly page views, Tumblr brings struggling Yahoo the large audience it needs to be a content power player. Meanwhile, five years after being founded, Tumblr’s reported $13m in annual revenue remained small for its scale and for the purported opportunity.
This tie-up is all about leveraging the huge audience Tumblr has amassed – through advertising. Despite having been overtaken by Google, Yahoo remains a top-tier ad sales house, with significant clout to place ads targeted at Tumblr’s youthful readers.
But don’t expect this to play out in such obvious fashion because Tumblr’s Karp in fact hates the kinds of advertising on which Yahoo and the internet have come to depend.
Speaking at Monaco Media Forum in November, Karp agreed that internet ads “suck”: “One of the things I’ve found most disheartening on the internet today is it’s all been defined and relegated to these little blue links. The advertising industry as a whole is an incredibly creative and capable industry… They’ve got these Mad Men aspirations and right now they’re all being squeezed in to these hyper-optimised, hyper-targeted models where you’re basically trying to deliver the little blue link at the exact right moment rather than trying to tell stories that make people want to become customers.”
To that end, Tumblr has introduced its own tools to let brands tell and promote their stories in a different way – Radar and Spotlight are how marketers can buy links to their blogs in curated sections, while Highlighted Posts and Pinned Posts let small-scale creators pay just a few dollars to gain more prominence in readers’ dashboards.
These tools ride the native advertising wave (“content marketing”, “branded content” or “sponsored content”, depending on who you speak to) on which publishers and platforms are now helping marketers to communicate using language that is indistinct from core content, overcoming readers’ increasing aversion to invasive banners and paid links. Thanks to them, Tumblr’s revenue has grown fast from a low base, but the effort can now be taken to the next level.
So Tumblr’s acquisition by Yahoo, whose own ad sales are declining, looks like an investment not in search advertising, not in display advertising, but in a third, new marketing category – content. In announcing the deal, Yahoo says: “The two companies will work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance the user experience.”
That seamlessness could solve another looming problem: while Yahoo has blamed its sales dip on audiences’ migration to harder-to-monetise mobile platforms, content retains its shape and essence no matter the device on which it is consumed.
Today’s highly technology-driven advertising economy has been created in the image of Silicon Valley engineers at the likes of Yahoo; all data science and super-efficiency. But Tumblr – which distinguishes its New York stomping ground as a thriving mecca for creatives instead – could represent an energetic east-coast outpost that will help Yahoo sell to a Madison Avenue that is primed to enter the ascendancy once more.
The well-stocked Rolodex in Yahoo’s ad sales office can help introduce Tumblr to tier-A brands that are crying out for new ways to reach consumers using stories. And those stories could benefit from wider delivery across Yahoo’s huge existing audience network.
The idea is a fine one, but is not without its challenges. For one, content marketing is unproven at large scale, which conventional internet advertising is. That scale will have to grow significantly to make good on the $1.1bn acquisition price. And return on investment is harder to prove from this model than from the dominant cost-per-click model.
If the next couple of years’ marketing accounts don’t show real returns from the format, advertisers could easily pull spending back. Even with the model proved, content marketing alone won’t necessarily keep the lights on at Tumblr. If Yahoo foists on it the old-style ads that Karp has opposed, users (and Karp) may feel betrayed.
Critical to the prospect’s chances is the extent of Tumblr’s integration in to the Yahoo mothership. Among 76 acquisitions since 1997, Yahoo is criticised for having let Flickr, Delicious, Broadcast.com and Upcoming.org wither on its vine – innovative services all apparently starved of resources to innovate at Yahoo’s Sunnyvale HQ.
Users previously became agitated when Yahoo began tinkering with GeoCities and Flickr, and recently when Facebook updated Instagram’s terms and conditions. So Yahoo must give Tumblr the room it needs to go on supporting creative content on its own terms, while nevertheless leveraging enough behind-the-scenes commercial support that Tumblr can make back the money Yahoo is putting up.
Much of Tumblr’s popularity rests on its indie credentials and Karp speaks passionately with a mission to serve artists such as Michael Stipe, who are using the service as a blog, scrapbook and portfolio. Tumblr must be allowed to retain this identity, and not adopt Yahoo’s diminishing profile, if the deal is to work. Yahoo has promised it will be “independently operated as a separate business”.
Being on the opposite coast may help Tumblr remain sufficiently distant from its new owner and close enough to its creative local kin to do exactly that.
Robert Andrews is a technology and media journalist – follow him on Twitter @RobertAndrews.
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By John P. Mello Jr.
05/20/13 6:00 AM PT
Security professionals were blindsided by this development — a new domain that’s become a haven for spammers. PW used to belong to Palau, a tiny island country in the Pacific Ocean. Now it’s owned by someone else who’s been selling it at discount prices. Antispam vendors are now working to update their filters, and the original registrar is assisting in their efforts.
Chances are you’ve never heard of the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau, but you may be familiar with its former Internet domain: PW.
That’s because the domain, now owned by Directi, has become a favorite of spammers.
According to Fort Systems, Directi — which christened PW “Professional Web” — began offering the top-level domain to all comers at rock-bottom prices, which attracted spammers.
Symantec spotted a big spike in spam URLs containing the PW domain at the end of April, when almost 50 percent of all spam URLs contained the domain.
“This came out of nowhere,” Eric Park, a senior antispam analyst with Symantec told TechNewsWorld.
“If you look at our TLD distribution, .com, .ru, .info — those are usually at the top of our list,” he said.
“But PW was by far the runaway number — even more than .com,” Park added.
Not only is Symantec bolstering its filters to block the spam, but it’s also working with the owner of the domain to help curb abuse of it.
“The registrar, from what I can tell, is interested in action to take the spammers down,” he said. “Not all registrars care, but these guys seem interested in working with us to shut them out because it’s damaging the brand they’re trying to push.”
An underground infrastructure is being built by cybercriminals to exploit the world’s love affair with mobile devices, according to a report issued last week by the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
“The sprawling mobile devices marketplace has spawned an industrialized mobile financial fraud plexus that today drives increasingly sophisticated criminal technical innovation to exploit the mobile devices explosion,” the APWG said in a statement.
“And it is funded by increasing revenues derived from potent new developments in mobile malware,” the statement said.
As any cybercrime fighter will tell you, information highwaymen go where the money is. Now and in the future, that means mobile.
In the coming years, global mobile payments are predicted to exceed US$1.3 trillion, the APWG noted. That’s going to present a motherlode of opportunity for connected criminal gangs.
That opportunity is enhanced by the mobile devices themselves. “These mobile platforms have more of an attack surface, they’re vulnerable to more types of attacks, and they have less robust security technology created for them,” Tom Kellermann, vice president of Trend Micro, told TechNewsWorld.
“People aren’t taking security seriously,” he added.
Balking at 2FA
Since adopting two-factor authentication to secure the accounts of users seems like a no brainer, why do some large Internet services, such as Twitter, continue to drag their heels on the practice?
“The bottom line is, do you want to invest in security or not?” Thorsten Trapp, co-founder and CTO of Tyntec, told TechNewsWorld.
In general, two-factor authentication involves something you have and something you know. As implemented by Google and others, it involves sending an SMS message with a code to your cellphone when the service detects any changes in your typical computing habits — logging in from a new location, for example, or a new device.
At this point, because the technology has proven effective, said Trapp, it’s just a matter of internal will more than anything else.
“Even the smallest companies can do it,” he said. “It’s just how high on the agenda it is.”
Two-factor authentication is the way the market is going because it can foil many of the hackers attacking services like Twitter, Facebook and Google, Trapp said.
“I wouldn’t say an SMS transmission isn’t breakable, but it’s 1000 times harder than tapping into an IP connection.”
- May 13. Payment card transaction processor EnStage reported as second Indian company breached by criminal ring that pilfered $45 million for ATMs around the world last year. The ring breached EnStage and another Indian firm, ElectraCard, and raised the minimum limits on the payment cards used to withdraw cash from the ATMs.
- May 13. Gartner analyst Jack Santos reports decline in people affected by healthcare data breaches to 2.5 million in 2012 from 11 million in 2011.
- May 13. Presbyterian Anesthesia Associates discloses that data breach compromised personal data, including credit card information, of 9,988 people. No medical information was compromised, according to the healthcare provider.
- May 13. TerraCom and YourTel America revealed that journalists from Scripps Howard News Service, through a third-party vendor, accessed the personal information of some 150,000 prospective clients, that personal information of 200 people was available from Google search and that files of 343 applicants had been accessed from unidentifiable IP addresses. The companies provide government-subsidized phone service to low-income customers.
- May 14. Bloomberg appoints Steve Ross to head company’s client data compliance office in wake of discovery that reporters for the company’s news arm were spying on users of its financial information terminals.
- May 16. Four former members LulzSec hacker collective received prison sentences in the United Kingdom for cyberattacks launched by the group against government and corporate websites in 2011.
- May 17. Syrian Electronic Army breaches computer of the Financial Times, stealing usernames and passwords of the newspaper’s staff with access to its social media accounts and posted unauthorized entries to the sites.
Upcoming Security Events
- May 19-22. 13th annual Computer and Enterprise Investigations Conference (CEIC). Orlando, Fla. Registration: $1,095.
- June 10-13. Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit. National Harbor, Md. Registration: $2,375.
- June 11. Cyber Security Brainstorm. 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. ET. Newseum, Washington, D.C. Registration for Non-government attendees: Mar. 3-Jun. 10, $495; Onsite, $595.
- June 14-22. SANSfire 2013. Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. Course tracks range from $1,800-$4,845.
- June 15-16. Suits and Spooks Conference. La Jolla, Calif. Registration: Securing Our eCity Foundation members, $345; government/military $295; general registration, $595.
- July 24. Cyber Security Brainstorm. 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Newseum, Washington, D.C. Registration: government, free; non-government, $395, through July 23; $595 July 24.
- July 27-Aug. 1. Black Hat USA 2013. Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Registration: through May 31, $1,795; June 1-July 24, $2,195; July 25-Aug. 1, $2,595.
John Mello is a freelance technology writer and former special correspondent for Government Security News.
There are enough deadlines in our world, yet we somehow find ways to get distracted. (Look — a squirrel!) 30/30 makes the clock work for you by lining up your tasks for the day, and then setting timers for their completion. Simple, elegant and effective, 30/30 helps you focus in ways you wouldn’t have expected in a free iPhone or iPad app.
30/30 is available in the iTunes App Store for free. In-app purchases are available.
I’m a sucker for productivity management — too much to do, never enough time, and there is always, it seems, some sort of flashing distraction. There’s plenty of people out there with similar problems: Even if they survived a round of layoffs, there’s usually a business need to get more done with fewer resources and people.
If the ability to avoid distraction and meter out your energy in timed sprints sounds good, you’ll want to check out 30/30 by Binary Hammer, a (mostly) free app in the iTunes App Store. I spotted it after Apple made it a New and Noteworthy pick in the Productivity category. Not only does it come with a good task management metaphor — a timer to help you focus — it boasts a 4.5 user review rating via more than 2,500 reviews. Definitely worth a closer look, I thought.
I was right.
There’s lots of problems when it comes to getting things done, particularly for so-called “knowledge” workers, and I’m certainly not an expert. But this I know: Instant messaging interrupts quality work. Email interrupts quality work. Phone calls interrupt quality work. Low blood sugar and spots floating inside your eyeballs interrupt quality work.
If you can plan for a certain amount of time each day to spend on just email, I can almost guarantee you a productivity boost.
So that’s how I started. Setting a timer for 30 minutes in which I would — heads down — start plowing through the never ending storm of email. After 30 minutes, I’d take 8 minutes for coffee, then work 30 more minutes on a specific project. Then I added 6 minutes for a bathroom break, since I was pretty sure I’d need it after the coffee.
The nice thing about a timer is that if you mentally agree to use it, you can ignore other things while you work on what you told yourself to work on. So I plowed through email with vim and vigor, knowing that in 30 minutes I would have to move on — and that I could move on — to more productive projects.
However, I also knew there were some important emails that required some sort of response. The phone rang. I ignored it.
I received a text message. I summoned intense willpower and simply pushed my iPhone out of reach. I deleted email, answered questions with bright and sometimes pithy responses, made decisions, and asked for help. And then boom, 30 minutes was gone, and I felt like I had actually accomplished a few things.
Returning to the Timer
The basic premise of 30/30 is that you create a running list of tasks. You assign a certain amount of time to each task — not necessarily a time of day, but a certain amount of time. Instead of building a calendar with a series of alarms, you build a task list.
The great thing about this is that if your day gets derailed — say your boss gets all up in your face but doesn’t stroke out — you can return to your timer list and keep working through it.
The effectiveness in 30/30 is that it empowers you to follow your intent, to work on the things that matter to you, to stop working when it makes sense — to just stay on track. For instance, it’s easy to get lost in email. And it’s easy to work on a particular project far too long by getting immersed in it, which brings up another point: If you’ve got some sort of mental quirk (don’t we all?) 30/30 can help keep you from overfocusing.
Easy to Learn
30/30 is a flat but graphically rich app. To learn it, you start with a button-like task list of items that are named as actual instructions, things like, “Slide right to delete,” “Shake to undo,” “Tap the dial to start & pause,” or “2-finger tap to move to top.” With a few taps and gestures, you can learn to quickly manage and edit your task list.
What if you need more or less time? There’s a round dial graphic that shows you how much time you have left. You can tap to add an additional increment of time, or reduce it if you’re running fast and efficient.
To help you see what’s coming up next and to recognize what you ought to be doing, 30/30 includes 24 icons that you can assign to tasks (or events, really, if you want to set aside time to watch TV). There is a TV icon, actually, as well as a keyboard, guitar, paper airplane, basketball, Twittery bird, bed, and steaming coffee cup — stuff like that.
For US$.99 there’s an in-app purchase option for another 24 icons. I wish there were more, but really, the 48 icons cover a lot of possibilities.
What if you leave the app? 30/30 will remind you with notifications. Handy, of course, for those times you get off track or are doing something that requires you to use or close your iPhone.
All in all, 30/30 is a well-executed handy timer-based productivity tool, well worth a look if you’ve got too many things to do.
Just one: The colors. Not exactly manly colors, and if I’m going to live in an app, I want strong, bold colors — gray, black, graphite, or deep dark richness of color, not soft light greens or sickly yellows.
There’s a small color palette to work with, and several primary colors that are good to use. The only trouble is that when, say, a red item enters the timer and starts counting down, the background color turns to a lighter shade of red. This is a visual cue handy for at-a-glance understanding of your particularly timer, but it’s always too soft for my tastes. In the case of red, the background is almost pink.
Picky? Definitely. If I’m going to live with something day in and day out, I need to come to grips with the freaking colors. And no, I don’t have any mental quirks. None whatsoever.
MacNewsWorld columnist Chris Maxcer has been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and he still remembers the clacking Mac keyboards from high school — Apple’s seed-planting strategy at work. While he enjoys elegant gear and sublime tech, there’s something to be said for turning it all off — or most of it — to go outside. To catch him, take a “firstnamelastname” guess at WickedCoolBite.com.