Big brains come with big social groups in whales and dolphins

Science - Posted On:2017-10-20 13:30:00 Source: arstechnica

Why are humans so smart? We must have evolved in an environment that made more intelligent individuals likely to survive. But this just raises new questions: what factors in the environment could have created an evolutionary pressure for intelligence? And how have other species that faced similar pressures ended up evolving?

One prominent hypothesis about our brains is that the human lineage became especially social, which required a suite of advanced cognitive skills to manage the relationships that were intertwined with survival. There’s evidence that social behavior is associated with bigger brains across the primate family, and the same correlation has been found in birds.

There's now evidence that whale and dolphin brains show the same relationship. The finding offers new support for the “social brain hypothesis," and it's an exciting discovery. But not all researchers agree on how this evidence should be interpreted.

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Japan's SoftBank Says It Could Invest as Much As $880 Billion in Tech

news - Posted On:2017-10-20 13:30:00 Source: slashdot

SoftBank could commit as much as $880 billion to tech investments in the coming years, a gargantuan, unprecedented amount of cash that would amount to a seismic shift in tech-sector finance. From a report: "The Vision Fund was just the first step, 10 trillion yen ($88 billion) is simply not enough," CEO Masayoshi Son said in an interview with The Nikkei Asian Review that was published late Thursday. "We will briskly expand the scale. Vision Funds 2, 3 and 4 will be established every two to three years." Son's comment confirms a Recode report that his Vision Fund -- which is sinking $100 billion into the technology sector worldwide -- was only the first in a series of investments that he plans to make in young companies. "We are creating a mechanism to increase our funding ability from 10 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen to 100 trillion yen," Son told the outlet. That comes out to about $880 billion. Companies that SoftBank either completely owns or has major or minor stakes in include Vodafone Japan, Yahoo! Japan, India's Snapdeal, India's Ola, Sprint Corporation, and India's Flipkart. The company is expected to become a major stake holder in Uber as soon as next week. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google compensates Pixel 2 buyers who overpaid at pop-up stores

android - Posted On:2017-10-20 13:15:03 Source: engadget

If you rushed out to buy a Pixel 2 at one of Google's pop-up stores on October 19th, you probably got a rude surprise: the Verizon reseller handling your purchase, Victra, was charging customers an extra $30 on top of the normal price. Unless you knew enough to haggle it back down, you paid a premium to walk out of the shop with a phone in hand. However, Google isn't having any of it. The company informed The Verge that it's reimbursing the difference for customers who overpaid for the device, and it'll contact you if you haven't already heard back. \

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Jaybird’s Run totally wireless earbuds are wire-free wonders for everyone

Gadgets - Posted On:2017-10-20 13:00:01 Source: techcrunch

 The market for totally wireless earbuds is really maturing fast, with many entries from both new and established companies. Jaybird recently joined the crowd, with its own Run earbuds. The Logitech-owned company has long been a really solid competitor when it comes to Bluetooth headphones, and its Freedom and X-line, and in fact made some of the very first wireless sport earbuds that proved…

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NASA chooses not to tell Congress how much deep space missions cost

Science - Posted On:2017-10-20 13:00:00 Source: arstechnica

This week, the US Government Accountability Office reported on progress the space agency is making to prepare the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and launch systems at Kennedy Space Center for future missions. NASA is making progress on these complex integration activities, the report finds, but the space agency has a long ways to go to make a test flight in late 2019 or early 2020.

One surprise in the report is that NASA still has not provided Congress (or anyone else) with cost estimates for the first crewed mission of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, which could occur in 2023 or later. This "Exploration Mission 2," which would entail flying a crew of four into deep space and possibly delivering the first component of a space station into lunar orbit, would mark the first human mission after 12 years of development of the rocket and nearly two decades of work on Orion.

"Establishing a cost and schedule baseline for NASA’s second mission is an important initial step in understanding and gaining support," the report states of NASA's exploration plans, which include building the deep space station and then going to the lunar surface or on to Mars. "NASA’s ongoing refusal to establish this baseline is short-sighted, because EM-2 is part of a larger conversation about the affordability of a crewed mission to Mars."

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The best plug-in smart outlet

belkin - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:45:04 Source: engadget

By Rachel Cericola \n\nThis post was done in partnership with Wirecutter, reviews for the real world. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.\n\nAfter spending over 22 hours plugging in and unplugging lights and other small appliances and turning them on and off using various apps (and by barking orders at Siri and Alexa when we could), we found that the Belkin WeMo Mini is the best smart-switch outlet adapter for people who want to add smart control to their existing outlets. It packs most of the same features as our previous pick, the WeMo Insight, into a smaller size, and it's less expensive. It also plays nicely with both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets and integrates easily with popular smart-home protocols and devices. All you need to do is plug the Belkin WeMo Mini into an existing outlet and install the app to get started with home automation. Who should get this\n\nIf you're the type of person who is constantly paranoid about if you left the iron on, smart plugs can ease your anxiety. These are small devices that plug into any outlet and allow you to control the connected appliance wirelessly via a smartphone app. Putting even just one smart switch into your home can ensure that you'll never enter a dark house; add a few and you can control items such as household fans, speakers, slow cookers, air conditioners, and more.\n\nHow we picked and tested\n\n\n\nSmart switches are an easy way to add remote control to any electronic device. Photo: Rachel Cericola\n\nWe started compiling a list of smart switches by searching for reviews on sites like CNET, Pocket-lint, and MakeUseOf. We then cross-checked our list with customer reviewers from Amazon, and decided not to consider any models with bad reviews.\n\nAfter that, we started considering criteria and features. First and foremost, a smart switch should be easy to operate and reliable. You should be able to plug it in, download the app, and start controlling the switch in minutes. We also favored apps that provide extras beyond the ability to turn the switch's power on and off, such as dimming, scheduling, and the ability to group multiple switches.\n\nTo test each switch, I downloaded apps to an iPhone 5, an iPad, and a Samsung Galaxy S6. Most of the switches connected to Wi-Fi easily and were simple to operate. I kept all of the plugs confined to the lower level of my house, but operated controls from across the house, out in the driveway, and across the street (up to 150 feet away). To keep things interesting, I plugged a variety of items into our test switches.\n\nOur pick\n\n\n\nBelkin's WeMo Mini Switch turns any outlet into a smart outlet you can control with your iOS or Android device. Photo: Rachel Cericola\n\nBelkin recently slimmed down its smart-plug offering with the WeMo Mini. The company's newest smart plug is just as reliable as our previous top pick, the WeMo Insight, but is more compact and $15 cheaper. It connects to the same WeMo app, which can control several devices remotely, includes options for scheduling and rules, connects with both iOS and Android devices, and can be integrated with other smart-home devices. The WeMo Mini is small enough to fit into either socket in a duplex outlet without blocking the second one.\n\nThe switch easily connects to your Wi-Fi without needing a hub. It performed as advertised throughout our testing period, providing on-off control from inside and outside of the house whenever called upon. The WeMo Android and iOS apps are almost identical, offering on-off controls, rules, and timers. Unfortunately, the WeMo Mini does not offer energy-usage information; the only WeMo device with that feature is the Insight Switch.\n\nLike its predecessor, the WeMo Mini stands out because of its compatibility. In addition to integrating with other WeMo devices, the switch also works with the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and IFTTT. However, the WeMo Mini does not support integration with Apple's HomeKit.\n\nRunner-up\n\n\n\nPhoto: Rachel Cericola\n\nThe iHome iSP8 is a solid runner-up. It performs all of the standard smart-switch features very well, but adds additional smart-home integration and energy monitoring so you can see how much energy your lava lamp is wasting via the companion app. It also comes with a separate remote control for controlling it without a smartphone (from up to 35 feet away). The drawback of these extra features is that they cost more than our top pick. If you don't need it to work with HomeKit or a smart-home hub, you don't need to spend the extra money.\n\nThe iSP8 has a few additional smart-home perks over our main pick. Besides Alexa and Nest integration, it offers support for SmartThings and Wink smart-home systems, so you can connect it to a hub and make it a part of a larger, whole-house system. It also features Apple HomeKit integration, so you can control the iSP8 or groups of HomeKit-enabled devices using iOS devices and the sound of your voice. It does not work with Google Home.\n\nBudget pick\n\n\n\nPhoto: Rachel Cericola\n\nThe Geeni Energi is a reliable performer and the least expensive Wi-Fi smart plug currently available. It provides all of the standard smart-switch features, allowing users to control devices both in and outside their home. It also includes scheduling and timers and can be controlled via Amazon Alexa devices. Geeni's Android and iOS apps are identical, offering on-off controls, scheduling, timers, rules, the ability to group devices, and energy-usage information. However, It's a bit bulkier than our other two picks, which will banish it to the bottom receptacle of your outlet.\n\nThis guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.\n\nNote from Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

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Spotify’s RISE program will try to find future music superstars

av - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:45:03 Source: engadget

It's hard to deny Spotify's influence on the current music landscape. After all, the streaming service has over 50 million paid subscribers. Now, they're using that influence to help up and coming artists. Today, Spotify introduced RISE, which it bills as \

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In its new timeline, Twitter will end revenge porn next week, hate speech in two

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:45:00 Source: arstechnica

In the beginning of 2017, Twitter said it would take on harassment and hate speech. CEO Jack Dorsey said the company would embrace a "completely new approach to abuse on Twitter" with open dialogue along the way.

For months, though, the company has offered few details about what it would do, or when. That changed late yesterday, when Twitter posted a timeline with specific promises on actions it will take.

The changes begin next week. On October 27, Twitter will expand what types of "non-consensual nudity" (aka "revenge porn") that it takes action against. The company will already act when a victim complains, but Twitter will soon act even in cases where the victims may not be aware images were taken, instance like upskirt photos and hidden webcams. "Anyone we identify as the original poster of non-consensual nudity will be suspended immediately," the October entry reads.

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NASA chooses to not tell Congress how much deep space missions cost

Science - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:45:00 Source: arstechnica

This week, the US Government Accountability Office reported on progress the space agency is making to prepare the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and launch systems at Kennedy Space Center for future missions. NASA is making progress on these complex integration activities, the report finds, but the space agency has a long ways to go to make a test flight in late 2019 or early 2020.

One surprise in the report is that NASA still has not provided Congress (or anyone else) with cost estimates for the first crewed mission of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, which could occur in 2023 or later. This "Exploration Mission 2," which would entail flying a crew of four into deep space and possibly delivering the first component of a space station into lunar orbit, would mark the first human mission after 12 years of development of the rocket and nearly two decades of work on Orion.

"Establishing a cost and schedule baseline for NASA’s second mission is an important initial step in understanding and gaining support," the report states of NASA's exploration plans, which include building the deep space station and then going to the lunar surface, or onto Mars. "NASA’s ongoing refusal to establish this baseline is short-sighted, because EM-2 is part of a larger conversation about the affordability of a crewed mission to Mars."

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MasterCard Has Finally Realized That Signatures Are Obsolete and Stupid

it - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:45:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: For years, credit card companies have relied on an illegible squiggly line as the frontline of defense against credit card fraud. Customers are forced to use a pen (how retro!) to scrawl their signature on bills at restaurants and sign digitally at cash registers -- as if somehow in the age of chips, PINs, biometrics, and online fraud alerts, a line on a page is still a great tool against fraud prevention. Personally, I have been known to sign on the dotted line with a doodle of a piece of tofu and no one has ever stopped me, because signatures mean very little in this digital age. Companies are finally seeing the light. Starting in April 2018, MasterCard cardholders will no longer be required to sign their name when they purchase something using their debit or credit cards. The company has been moving away from requiring signatures for a few years now, with only about 80% of purchases (typically over a certain dollar amount) requiring a signature these days. MasterCard did some digging, though, and per its press release, realized that most of their customers "believe it would be easier to pay and that checkout lines would move faster if they didn't need to sign when making a purchase." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Does social media threaten the illusion of news neutrality?

business - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:15:02 Source: engadget

For journalists, social media can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share their opinion on a wide range of matters, from sports to politics. But, at the same time, they have to remember to exercise caution, because whatever they say can be taken out of context and have major implications on the publications they work for. If a reader follows your tweets or Facebook posts doesn't agree with you, that can motivate them to claim your entire newsroom is biased. That's why we're now seeing publications having to change their digital strategy. Last week, The New York Times published an \

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Nike is using its new digital studio to build a community of sneakerheads

Advertising Tech - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:15:01 Source: techcrunch

 A year after acquiring Virgin Mega, Nike is revealing some of the early results of its experiments with augmented reality and community-building. Virgin Mega was a startup backed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group that focused on fan communities and shopping. Ron Faris, who led the startup, told me that Nike acquired Virgin Mega in order to explore those same ideas. Since then, the team…

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Vodafone’s introducing a zero-rating scheme too

gear - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:00:02 Source: engadget

Just as several of its carrier peers have done recently, Vodafone will soon be jumping on the zero-rating bandwagon. Vodafone Passes, as they're called, are a selection of paid bolt-ons that'll offer unlimited data towards several music and video streaming services, as well as some social media and messaging apps. When these bolts-on launch in early November, the Video Pass will be available for £7 per month before increasing to £9 after an unspecified introductory period. Pick one of those up, and any data you use to stream Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, Vevo, My5 and TVPlayer won't eat into your usual monthly allowance. The £5 per month Music Pass does the same for Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer, Amazon Music, Soundcloud and Napster.\n\nThe £5 Social Pass zero-rates data for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, while the £3 Chat Pass ensures WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber don't pilfer your monthly allowance. You'll also be able to pick up the £15 per month Combi Pass, which includes all of the above and saves you a bit of money in the process.\n\nDepending on your usage, it might end up being more sensible (if not a little more complicated) to pick up a basic plan to cover general browsing and snag a Combi Pass for everything else. The only catch is you need to be on a pay-monthly tariff -- handset or SIM-only is fine, but pay-as-you-go customers are out of luck.\n\nZero-rating became the cool thing to be doing this summer, among mobile providers at least. Three was first with its special \

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Windows now includes gaming cheat detection at the system level

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:00:00 Source: arstechnica

Developers that want to stop cheaters in their Windows games are getting a little additional system-level help from Microsoft via TruePlay, a new API being rolled out through Windows 10's Fall Creators Update.

The feature, which is now documented on the Windows Dev Center lets developers easily prioritize a game as a protected process, cutting off some of the most common cheating methods by essentially preventing outside programs from looking at or altering the game's memory. TruePlay also "monitor[s] gaming sessions for behaviors and manipulations that are common in cheating scenarios," looking at usage patterns on a system level to find likely cheaters.

TruePlay is only available to developers using the somewhat controversial Universal Windows Platform, which Microsoft has been encouraging developers to embrace for a while now. The anti-cheat system can be applied across an entire game or only certain portions, so developers can monitor cheating only in multiplayer matches, for example.

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Bitcoin Nears $6,000 For the First Time

news - Posted On:2017-10-20 12:00:00 Source: slashdot

Bitcoin closed in on another milestone Friday, as the digital currency approached $6,000 for the first time to put its gain in 2017 to above 500 percent. From a report: The push higher comes just three days after bitcoin suffered its biggest one-day drop in a month on rising concern that regulators are increasingly targeting digital currencies. It's added almost $500 in value in the past two days alone. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Billboard’s charts will give more weight to paid music streams in 2018

apple - Posted On:2017-10-20 11:45:03 Source: engadget

Starting in 2018, Billboard will change the way it counts streaming music for its charts. Right now, the way it works for the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart is that there are two tiers for streaming music: on demand (where you can select what you listen to) and programmed (think Pandora). On demand listening is given a greater weight than programmed. But next year, the company will add another tier. Paid subscription services (such as Apple Music and the paid tiers of services like Spotify) will have more weight than purely ad-supported listening and unpaid tiers of subscription streaming services. Billboard says of the switch, \

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Nightmare fuel: Trapped in airplane seat crawling with bedbugs

Science - Posted On:2017-10-20 11:45:00 Source: arstechnica

British Airways has apologized to a Canadian family who reported being feasted upon by a pack of bedbugs during an overnight flight from Vancouver to London earlier this month, CTV Vancouver reported.

“She was like, 'Oh ok, sorry about that. We're sold out. We don't have anywhere to move you',” Szilagyi told CTV.

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Microsoft rolls out system-level anti-cheating tech for Windows devs

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2017-10-20 11:45:00 Source: arstechnica

Developers that want to stop cheaters in their Windows games are getting a little additional system-level help from Microsoft via TruePlay, a new API being rolled out through Windows 10's Fall Creators Update.

The feature, which is now documented on the Windows Dev Center lets developers easily prioritize a game as a protected process, cutting off some of the most common cheating methods by essentially preventing outside programs from looking at or altering the game's memory. TruePlay also "monitor[s] gaming sessions for behaviors and manipulations that are common in cheating scenarios," looking at usage patterns on a system level to find likely cheaters.

TruePlay is only available to developers using the somewhat controversial Universal Windows Platform, which Microsoft has been encouraging developers to embrace for a while now. The anti-cheat system can be applied across an entire game or only certain portions, so developers can monitor cheating only in multiplayer matches, for example.

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NYPD can’t get story straight on evidence system backups

Biz & IT - Posted On:2017-10-20 11:30:01 Source: arstechnica

In response to an Ars report on a court hearing in New York on October 17, New York City and New York City Police Department officials attempted to clarify the nature of the issues surrounding a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit legal defense organization Bronx Defenders. In response to reporting that the Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) did not have database backups, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said via email, "Contrary to some published reports suggesting that NYPD does not electronically back up the data in its Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS), all such data is backed up continuously in multiple data centers."

That statement would appear to be in direct conflict with an affidavit filed by city attorneys (PDF) in the case, in which NYPD Director of Strategic Technology Programs Christian Schnedler stated, "Currently, there is no secondary or back-up system, and no repository of the data in PETS outside of PETS itself."

Schindler's affadavit, which is part of the NYPD's effort to block an external audit of cash-seizure data recorded in PETS, claims that the system is so fragile that even just using a "web scraping" tool to retrieve cash-seizure data could collapse the whole system. "The risk of introducing and running a generic web scraping tool into a complex, functioning law enforcement database, which has no backup system, is to risk disrupting NYPD operations, corrupting and/or losing some or all of the data, without a way to retrieve it," Schnedler testified under oath.

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Vodafone's new PAYG plan will cap your bill at £1 each day

gear - Posted On:2017-10-20 11:15:03 Source: engadget

Pay-as-you-go smartphone plans haven't changed much in the last few years. Calls, texts and megabytes are priced individually, putting the emphasis on you to manage your monthly spend. Some networks, such as O2, offer discounted \

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