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  1. Last week
  2. Commercial supersonic flight has left the drawing board with Lockheed Martin announcing fabrication of the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft has begun. Milling the first part of the test aircraft has commenced at the company's famous Skunk Works, setting the project on course for its maiden flight scheduled for 2021. Being developed in partnership with NASA, the purpose of the QueSST X-plane is to test technologies to make commercial supersonic aircraft quiet enough to fly over populated areas. So far, all of the work has been dedicated to computer modeling, design, and wind tunnel testing, but now the project is moving to the manufacture of an actual aircraft. Once the QueSST takes to the air, NASA plans to use it to collect data on both the engineering level and from the general public to eventually produce a supersonic airliner that can fly over land while quiet enough to be acceptable to the public. In addition, the information will be used for the revision of current environmental regulations that were drafted in the late 1960s and were often deliberately prejudiced against supersonic flight. When completed, the X-59 QueSST will be able to cruise at an altitude of 55,000 ft (17,000 m) at a speed of Mach 1.27 (940 mph, 1,512 km/h), yet produce a sonic boom of only 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB) – about as loud as a car door closing. "The start of manufacturing on the project marks a great leap forward for the X-59 and the future of quiet supersonic commercial travel," says Peter Iosifidis, Low Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. "The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom. As we enter into the manufacturing phase, the aircraft structure begins to take shape, bringing us one step closer to enabling supersonic travel for passengers around the world." Source: Lockheed Martin
  3. It's not quite a plane. The Odysseus is a high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS), according to its creator, Aurora Flight Sciences. Aurora, a Boeing subsidiary, has developed a solar-powered, autonomous high-altitude aircraft that its claims "can effectively fly indefinitely." The Odysseus has a wingspan of 243 feet, a payload capacity of 55 pounds, and can offer 250 watts of continuous power to a payload it might be carrying, such as a satellite. Flying in the stratosphere, the Odysseus can go year-round and "maintain its position in any stratospheric conditions," according to the company's website. For Aurora's CEO John Langford, the completion of Odysseus represents a personal journey. In the 1980s, Langford was a student at MIT whose interest in rocketry expanded to the concept of human-powered flight. Working with an eclectic group that included other engineers and Greek Olympic cyclist Kanellos Kanellopoulos, their group known as Dadelus '88 set the world record for human-powered flight distance that still stands. “Aurora was founded by the idea that technology and innovation can provide powerful solutions to tough problems that affect all of humankind. Odysseus was an idea born out of Daedalus that is now a real solution to advancing the important research around climate change and other atmospheric chemistry problems. Odysseus offers persistence like no other solar aircraft of its kind, which is why it is such a capable and necessary platform for researchers. Odysseus will indeed change the world.” It's a bold claim for the Virginia-based company, which is advertising Odysseus with qualities like the ability to "measure vegetation, ice coverage and flow rates, and even ground moisture." The company also mentions intelligence as a possible use of Odysseus, noting that it doesn't need an operator on the ground to collect information. The company says the Odysseus will be ready for its first flight in 2019—and hopes that its travels won't be as troublesome as those of its namesake Greek hero. Source: Aviation Week https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eErLcDqINyE
  4. "We are trying to make a building that is able to 'listen' to the humans inside,"... What might the future of smart home technology look like? Two scientists at Case Western Reserve University believe it could well include sensors that monitor movement, vibrations and sounds of people or even pets – something they are calling (wait for it…) the "internet of ears." Ming-Chun Huang and Soumyajit Mandal have been experimenting with sensors that monitor movement and subtle changes in the existing ambient electrical field. These walls have ears "We are trying to make a building that is able to 'listen' to the humans inside," says Huang, who is leading the research related to human gait and motion tracking. "We are using principles similar to those of the human ear, where vibrations are picked up and our algorithms decipher them to determine your specific movements. That's why we call it the 'internet of ears.'" Mandal is concentrating on vibration sensing and changes in the existing electrical field caused by presence. "There is actually a constant 60 Hz electrical field all around us, and because people are somewhat conductive, they short out the field just a little," Mandal said. "So, by measuring the disturbance in that field, we are able to determine their presence, or even their breathing, even when there are no vibrations associated with sound." Humans' effect on electricomagnetic fields is something we've seen previously in research from the University of California into surveillance using Wi-Fi signals. As with the California research, an obvious application of this technology is in monitoring energy consumption related to how many people are in a building but also where they are located at any given time. "The first advantage will be energy efficiency for buildings, especially in lighting and heating, as the systems adjust to how humans are moving from one room to another, allocating energy more efficiently," Huang said. And again, there could be scope to apply this technology to building safety, particularly in earthquake or hurricane regions. The sensors could track human occupancy and movement in a building and use that data to measure a building's structural integrity and safety. "This hasn't really been explored as far as we've seen, but we know that humans create a dynamic load on buildings, especially in older buildings," Huang said. "In collaboration with our colleague YeongAe Heo in Civil Engineering, we are trying to predict if there is going to be structural damage because of the increased weight or load based on the number of people on the floor or how they are distributed on that floor." State of surveillance Smart devices in the home often raise privacy concerns. The proposal here uses hidden sensors in walls and floors instead of cameras, with the device listening instead of watching, making it potentially less invasive but, at the same time, perhaps easier to hide. Another upside is that, compared to cameras, it is less easy to identify individuals, though it may be possible to train the system to recognize the gait of specific people which could have interesting security applications like identifying potential home intruders. We're seeing a growing body of research into non-optical means of observation and surveillance that can still, in some senses, see people through walls. And while there are clearly both innocent and useful applications for such technology, one can't help feeling we're tiptoeing towards a world of omnipresent surveillance – even in our own homes. Source: Case Western Reserve University
  5. The simplified web pages load a whopping 20 to 27 times faster, the startup says. The AI-based tool protects privacy better, too. With a new mode called SpeedReader, the Brave browser will use AI technology to strip clutter out of websites so they load more than 20 times faster and trample your privacy a lot less, the startup said. Apple's Safari, Mozilla's Firefox, Vivaldi Technologies' Vivaldi, Microsoft's Edge and other browsers have reader modes designed to show simplified versions of many websites, stripping away ads, sidebars, videos and other elements. SpeedReader takes that approach, but instead of first rendering the website and then boiling it down into a reader view, it strips out content it judges to be undesirable before it's even downloaded, much less displayed, Brave said in a blog post Thursday. The result, according to a Brave research paper on SpeedReader: pages load a whopping 20 to 27 times faster, use 2.4 times less memory, and use 84 percent less network data. That could profoundly transform the web -- especially on smartphones that often have more limited computing power, battery life and network speed. "The drastic improvements in performance, reduction in bandwidth use and elimination of trackers in reader mode make the approach practical for continuous use," Brave said in the research paper. In other words, you'll leave it running instead of actively enabling it every now and again. Brave, co-founded and led by former Firefox leader Brendan Eich, is already shaking up the browser market by blocking ads and ad tracking technology by default. It's attracted more than 5 million people who use it monthly. If SpeedReader works as planned, it could accelerate that adoption -- and the disruption to advertising-supported websites. Facebook, Google, and countless other websites are funded chiefly by ads, although paywalls and free story limits are increasingly common at news sites. Ad blocking, which hundreds of millions of people already enable, threatens that advertising approach. Brave, while blocking ads and ad trackers by default, isn't opposed to online ads, though. It offers instead a payment system based on a crypto-token called the basic attention token (BAT). Brave is in the process of building a targeted advertising system into the browser that uses data the software itself gathers and keeps to itself. If you opt into the system, Brave will get a cut of the ad revenue -- and so will you -- in the form of BAT payments. Brave also can redirect payments you've received to websites and YouTube Twitch, Reddit and Twitter users you see online. Brave expects to build SpeedReader into Brave sometime in 2019, the company said. SpeedReader on by default SpeedReader doesn't work on all pages. Its AI system -- trained on a selection of 2,833 websites -- worked on 22 percent of nearly 20,000 pages tested, including 31 percent of those linked from Twitter and 42 percent of those linked from Reddit. Where it did work, it blocked 100 percent of the ads and ad trackers that were flagged by the EasyList and EasyPrivacy lists that track advertisers and ad trackers, Brave said. "SpeedReader is able to achieve privacy improvements at least as good [as], and almost certainly exceeding, existing ad and tracking blockers, on readable pages," Brave said. SpeedReader is "designed to be 'always on,' attempting to provide a readable presentation of every paged fetched," Brave said in its research paper. One drawback to that approach, though, is its extra processing doesn't deliver any benefits on web apps that aren't suited to reader modes. Another drawback is that it blocks interactivity that you may well want. "Making sure that the user has the ability to disable SpeedReader would be important in such cases," the Brave paper said. The approach reflects the increasing willingness of browser makers to override what web developers try to get a browser to show. Chrome blocks ads on websites it deems too cluttered, Safari blocks some trackers, and Firefox is moving toward tracker blocking by default, too. Reader modes also significantly modify pages, as do screen readers and other assistive technologies to help people with disabilities.
  6. Facebook filed a patent for technology that could target entire families with ads. The tech uses photos and various other data collected by the social network. In a patent filed last May and made public Thursday, the company describes a system enabled by "deep learning techniques" meant to identify groups of people living under the same roof and their relationships to each other. It uses image captions, hashtags, as well as ISP and search data to build a cache of information that's stored and later fed to its network of advertisers. The technology would ostensibly apply to at least some of Facebook's proprietary apps, such as Instagram. As the filing states: Examples of image data of a user include profile photos of the user, e.g., profile photos of the same user on different online systems, e.g., FACEBOOK.TM. and INSTAGRAM.TM The technology builds on Facebook's "household audience" ad tech unveiled in June, which allows brands the option of targeting specific people in a household. The patent makes clear Facebook's intent to target entire families with more clickable ads than it currently serves, stating: “Existing solutions of content delivery to a target household are not effective ... Without such knowledge of a user’s household features, most of the content items that are sent to the user are poorly tailored to the user and are likely ignored by the user.” Contained in the patent is an example of how the technology would work: In one figure, Facebook predicts the number of people in a household after analyzing a male user's photos. Since the user regularly posts photos with the same two women—and gets tagged in other users' photos with the same two women—Facebook deduces the three people are a family. The software cites the trio's shared devices and a caption with the words "my angel" to extrapolate their family ties. The patent also explains how the process caters to Facebook's advertising platform, by keeping "the predictions with a user profile within the online system," then displaying "content items targeting the user based on the predictions." Facebook's decision to make its patent filing public is suspect, given the continuing string of high-profile crises rocking the company over the past calendar year. The company's invasive data-collecting practices have been central to the fallout: The Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal prompted Senate oversight earlier this year, while it drew further scorn from its decision to release a video-chatting device without the assurance of privacy immediately following a massive security breach. Though it's unclear if Facebook will ever employ the technology, the social network's advertising machine maintains an overarching influence on our daily lives, and it doesn't appear to be changing soon.
  7. A location-tracking smartwatch worn by thousands of children has proven relatively easy to hack. A security researcher found the devices neither encrypted the data they used nor secured each child's account. As a result, he said, he could track children's movements, surreptitiously listen in to their activities and make spoof calls to the watches that appeared to be from parents. Experts say the issues are so severe that the product should be discarded. A researcher involved tried to contact the makers of the MiSafes Kid's Watcher Plus to alert them to the problem but received no reply. Likewise, a China-based company listed as the product's supplier did not respond to requests. 'Simple hack' The MiSafes watch was first released in 2015. It uses a global positioning system (GPS) sensor and a 2G mobile data connection to let parents see where their child is, via a smartphone app. MiSafes targeted the watch at children as young as three In addition, parents can create a "safe zone" and receive an alert if the child leaves the area. The adult can also listen in to what their offspring is doing at any time and trigger two-way calls. Pen Test Partner's Ken Munro and Alan Monie learned of the product's existence when a friend bought one for his son earlier this year. Out of curiosity, they probed its security measures and found that easy-to-find PC software could be used to mimic the app's communications. This software could be used to change the assigned ID number, which was all it took to get access to others' accounts. This made it possible to see personal information used to register the product, including: a photo of the child their name, gender and date of birth their height and weight the parents' phone numbers the phone number assigned to the watch's Sim card "It's probably the simplest hack we have ever seen," he told the BBC. "I wish it was more complicated. It isn't." Rather than compromise other people's watches, the researchers bought several more units to test. The security researchers were able to fool the watch into showing a call was from a parent With these, they found it was possible to: trigger the remote listening facility of someone else's watch, with the only warning being that a brief "busy" message appeared before its screen returned to blank track the wearer's current and past locations alter the safe zone facility so that alerts were triggered by a child's approach rather than their departure Pen Test Partners also learned it was possible to bypass a feature supposed to limit the watch to accepting calls from only authorised parties. The researchers did this by using a online "prank call" service that fools receiving devices into showing another person's caller ID number. The watches allow parents to listen to their children "any time" as well as to make phone calls to the device "Once a hacker has the parent's number, they could spoof a call to appear to come from it and the child would now think it's their mum or dad dialling," said Mr Munro. "So they could leave a voice message or speak to the child to convince them to leave their house and go to a convenient location." Using a different tool, Mr Munro said his team were able to see that about 14,000 MiSafes were still in active use. Sales ban The Norwegian Consumer Council highlighted other cases of child-targeted smartwatches with security flaws last year. It said the MiSafes products appeared to be "even more problematic" than the examples it had flagged. "This is another example of unsecure products that should never have reached the market," said Gro Mette Moen, the watchdog's acting director of digital services. "Our advice is to refrain from buying these smartwatches until the sellers can prove that their features and security standards are satisfactory." In the UK, Amazon used to sell the watches but has not had stock for some time. Three listings were found for the watches on eBay earlier this week but the online marketplace said it had since removed them on the grounds of an existing ban on equipment that could be used to spy on people's activities without their knowledge. "We don't allow the sale of these products on our marketplace," said a spokeswoman. MiSafes previously made headlines in February when an Australian cyber-security company discovered several flaws with its Mi-Cam baby monitors. Security concerns were previously raised about the firm's baby-monitoring cameras SEC Consult said these meant hackers could spy on footage from owners' homes and hijack accounts. It too was unable to get a response from the manufacturer.
  8. If you're in a dangerous-enough situation to fire a stun gun, you probably want help as soon as possible. Axon certainly thinks so, at least -- it's launching an upgraded version of the Taser Pulse, the Pulse+, that contacts police when you fire the weapon. Load an app from Noonlight on your phone and the new Taser can dispatch authorities to your location and give you the opportunity to speak to 911 if it's safe. Axon is betting the time savings will be vital in moments when you're either still in danger or are too shaken to make a call. The feature works anywhere in the US, and it's strictly optional if you're worried about having to explain an accidental trigger pull or test shot to confused officers. The weapon maintains the original Pulse's 15-foot effective range. WYou can pre-order the Pulse+ now for $449. Axon is also maintaining the Pulse's "Safe Escape" guarantee, which will replace your weapon for free if you have to use your weapon and leave it at the scene of the incident. Suffice it to say this is one of the few app-connected devices you hope you'll never have to use. Source: Axon
  9. Aston Martin is well into the fun stages of testing with its upcoming DBX SUV, and has released photos and video of the heavily disguised prototype getting nicely sideways on a Welsh rally stage with Chief Engineer Matt Becker behind the wheel. We've known for some time that Aston's had a luxury SUV in development to go alongside its all-electric Lagonda brand SUV, but now we know the first SUV to carry the Aston Martin badge will be called the DBX, and we get our first glimpses of it on the go. Seriously on the go, too. In a previous life at Lotus, Becker headed up the dynamic development of the series 2 Elise and Evora, and from the look of the video, he's got some decent chops behind the wheel to back up his engineering nous. The ruts, rocks and mud of high-speed off-roading are new to Aston Martin, so the team will be taking this car to the ends of the Earth to define and tailor its performance characteristics. As well as this Welsh rally stage, they'll be taking it to the Arctic for snow and ice testing, the Middle East for desert testing, and the Nurburgring to make sure it's a hoot on tarmac, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe4xxgVifiM Source: Aston Martin
  10. At last, Microsoft has resumed delivering its Windows 10 October update after pulling it over a data loss bug. The company is confident it has fixed the flaw and has seen "no further evidence" of data loss. With that said, it's being particularly cautious this time around. It's "slowing" the deployment to watch device data and will only give you the device update when it thinks there won't be a problem, such as an incompatible app. The company also used the re-release as an opportunity to defend its software testing methods. It introduced new uses of "data and feedback" to improve its software quality, and uses extensive automated testing, external labs, partner vendors and 'self-hosting' (where development teams run their own software builds) as part of the testing process. It also tracked evidence to suggest quality was improving. Customer support chats and calls have been declining for much of Windows 10's lifetime, Microsoft said. The problem, of course, is that this process still let a data loss bug slip through. Many of these testing methodsare also familiar on some level -- self-hosting is usually called "dogfooding" and represents a common industry practice. These kind of serious update bugs tend to be rare, but it's not clear if there are any testing changes in place to reduce the chances of such a significant flaw popping up in the future.
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  12. The miracle of human flight is starting to look a lot like Iron Man. Swiss military pilot Yves "Jetman" Rossy is a jetpack stunt pioneer, having flown in formation with an Emirates A380 airliner over Dubai and plied the air above Rio de Janeiro. In a new teaser-trailer for the documentary LOFT: The Jetman Story, Rossy and his accomplices Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet perform the death-defying feat of launching the first jetpack flight from a ground-based platform. Their launchpad is perched on the side of a mountain, which makes it more perilous than lifting off from the actual ground. In the clip, the trio basically dives off the edge of a cliff before weaving through some Norwegian Fjords at a lightning quick pace. What the group manages to achieve is something closer to a BASE jump than what's been performed in the past. Per the teaser, the film looks to gauge the psychology behind strapping on a jetpack and letting gravity and engine thrust do the rest. "Here I have nothing else than air," Rossy says in the trailer. "There is no before, no after. You are totally in the present." Rossy's mission is to basically help the human species achieve personal autonomous flight, and it looks like LOFT will provide an intriguing lens into his world when it releases. The documentary currently doesn't have a release date, so you'll have to salivate over the stunning visuals in the trailer until it debuts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZjDmgYp8ug
  13. Amazon employees have expressed concerns to management about the company's facial recognition software "Rekognition," which has been licensed to police departments and marketed to the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In a closed-door Q&A on Thursday, Amazon management defended its decision to continue the relationship. It's part of a broader trend. In October, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) unveiled plans to incorporate facial scans nationwide and the FBI unlocked a suspect's iPhone using FaceID for the first time. Both are results of facial scanning's increased prevalence and technological ease. For Amazon's part, the development and subsequent licensing of Rekognition, the company's powerful API similar to Apple's FaceID, has garnered controversy in recent months, notably when the app misidentified 28 members of congress with arrest mugshots during an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) study in July. The technology has also drawn scrutiny from Amazon's own shareholders and the Congressional Black Caucus alike, each of whom wrote letters to CEO Jeff Bezos earlier this year warning of the program's susceptibility for abuse and racial bias. The controversy seems to be roiling behind closed company doors, too. Amazon employees expressed concerns about law-enforcement agencies potentially abusing the software, which has previously demonstrated racial bias, in an all-hands meeting with Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Andrew Jassy. According to the transcript , Jassy answered a question about potential surveillance and civil rights abuses posed by Rekognition: "I think we’re going to have people who have opinions that are very wide-ranging, which is great. But we feel really great and really strongly about the value that Amazon Rekognition is providing our customers of all sizes and all types of industries in law enforcement and out of law enforcement." Jassy noted any law-enforcement agency that violates AWS' terms of service or is found guilty of a constitutional rights violation would have to curtail using the product, but stressed the regulatory imperative is mainly on governments. The bulwark against this technology may in fact lay in the courts. A Georgetown Law School study claimed the TSA's face-scanning plans "[stand] on shaky legal ground." Meanwhile, the legal implications of the FBI's face-scanning antics are also under consideration. Rekognition, though not widely employed by authorities across the U.S., has drawn scrutiny for being ill-conceived and poorly executed. Only time will tell if it will also be short-lived.
  14. Prosecutors in New Hampshire believe an Amazon Echo smart speaker may have recorded audio evidence of a homicide. Once again, Amazon appears to be in a potential privacy fight over the Echo recordings of someone accused of murder. Timothy Verrill of Dover, New Hampshire, stands accused of two counts of first-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors in the case reportedly believe that an Amazon Echo smart speaker in the kitchen of the Farmington home where the crime occurred may have captured audio of the alleged stabbing of one of the victims. According to court documents cited by CBS Boston affiliate WBZ 4, investigators think the victim was attacked in the kitchen, "and prosecutors believe there is probable cause to believe there is evidence on the Echo, such as audio recordings of the attack and events that followed it." Now, a judge has reportedly granted the state's request to hear that audio -- but Amazon says not yet. "Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us," an Amazon spokesperson told CNET. "Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course." The potential legal dispute feels like a flashback to last year, when prosecutors in Benton County, Arkansas, issued a warrant seeking the Echo recordings of James Bates, who stood accused of murdering Victor Collins at his home in Bentonville. Amazon initially fought the warrant, and made the case that its users' conversations with Alexa are protected by the First Amendment. "Such interactions may constitute expressive content that implicates privacy concerns and First Amendment protections," the company's lawyers wrote in a court filing at the time. Amazon ultimately dropped its challenge and handed over the recordings once Bates himself consented to the disclosure. The murder charge against Bates was eventually dropped.
  15. There is a small, simple step you can take right now that promises to make your online browsing faster and more private. It’s a choice you can make that doesn’t require any advanced skill. It’s quick. It pertains to an aspect of the internet called the Domain Name System, or DNS, and a new service called In fact, there's now even a mobile app you can install on your iOS or Android phone to make using the system on your handset really easy. The DNS is frequently compared to a phone book—it translates the words of a domain name into an IP address, which are the numbers that represent that name. For example, takes you to Google.com. In part because it is easier for people to remember words than strings of numbers like that, the DNS is what figures out what those numbers should be when you type an address into your browser. But you can choose what DNS service your computer uses. If you don’t, the company that provides your internet—like Verizon or Charter—handles it. Comcast, for example, uses an in-house system. But instead of going with the default setting, you can consider switching to a new DNS service—the aforementioned—which is from a network company called Cloudflare. Switching to it holds two benefits. For one, it’s faster—although speed boosts are measured in milliseconds per load. Two, it focuses on privacy, with a pledge to wipe their DNS request records every 24 hours. They also say that they will participate in an annual audit by a third party. The new service “sends a message that privacy doesn’t have to slow things down,” says Frank Wang, a computer science doctoral candidate at MIT who focuses on security and recently switched to With both speed and privacy, “it’s giving you a very compelling reason to use this.” And in terms of privacy, Shuman Ghosemajumder, the CTO of Shape Security, points out: “Cloudflare has built up a good reputation.” This isn’t the first offering of its kind: Google also operates a service called the Google Public DNS; one of the IP addresses for that is Like, it is free. Choosing a service like means that the DNS lookups—the websites you visit that the DNS server has to translate into numbers—are handled by Cloudflare, and not your internet service provider, and the logs from that process will be regularly purged. (And data that doesn’t exist for too long is hard to hack—or subpoena). And while your internet company will still know the IP addresses of the websites you peruse, switching to is a symbolic step that puts a key part of the browsing process into the hands of a company that won’t hang onto your information. Everyday internet users have incentive to keep their browsing as private as possible. “In the broad sense, what we do online reveals a whole lot about us,” says Mitch Stoltz, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Whether those things are good or bad, right or wrong, they are things that we don’t reveal to the world.” Our browsing can reveal religious or political preferences, for example, or information about our health. “We don’t want our employers knowing every website that we visit when we’re home,” he adds. “We certainly don’t want advertisers or insurance companies or credit bureaus knowing every website that we visit.” Cloudflare’s new service may not be “a complete solution,” to the privacy issue, but it is a “good step in the right direction,” Stoltz says. “Certainly, it’s a signal that you care about that privacy, and the market is more and more responding to those signals.” If you’re interested in actively choosing a DNS service, head over to or to Google’s offering to learn how to change the settings on your computer or phone. To use the service on your computer, follow the instructions on their website. To use it on your phone, download either the iOS or Android app.
  16. Unsend Sadly, this approach will not help you unsend a message from your various messenger apps. Pixabay There are lots of reasons someone might want to un-send a message on one of the many messaging apps that currently populate your smartphone and computer. Maybe there’s a typo in the message you just sent to a potential employer or you wanted to complain about a co-worker putting fish in the office microwave— and sent it to the wrong person. Just this week, Facebook recently introduced an upcoming feature that allows users a short window of time in which they can recall messages sent through Messenger. It’s not the magical tool that lets you go in and nuke old messages from past conversations like Mark Zuckerberg reportedly enjoys, but it’s a start. Here’s a quick guide to recalling messages on some of the most popular communication apps. Some are easier than others, and some are downright impossible. Facebook Messenger With the 191.0 release of Facebook Messenger in the Apple App Store, users will have a 10 minute window to recall what they sent. The feature comes just a few months after some controversy about whether Facebook was deleting messages from CEO Mark Zuckerberg from other people’s inboxes. Until the update, you can delete a message you send on your own device, but the recipient’s version of your conversation remains untouched. If you unsend a message with the new feature, however, it will disappear from the recipient’s feed, as long as you do it within that 10 minute window just after sending. WhatsApp Facebook’s other messaging service, Whatsapp was its first to allow unsending, but until recently, you had to blow-up your message within seven minutes of sending. The current rules, however, give users “about an hour” to delete their messages from everyone’s feeds. The feature is called Delete for everyone and, while it will get rid of the original message that you want gone, it leaves a placeholder to indicate that a message was deleted. So, it’s not a perfectly clean way of scraping away your ill-advised or accidental communications. Instagram Pulling back an Instagram message might be the easiest out of the bunch. Select the conversation and go to the message, then tap and hold until a menu pops up and you can push “unsend.” It disappears from both users’ histories. Gmail Google’s ubiquitous email service offers you a chance to grab that flawed message you just sent with a feature called Undo Send. Your send confirmation comes with a “message sent” confirmation as well as an option to “undo,” which will attempt to recall the mail. You only get roughly 10 seconds to regret and recall your bad decision, so move quickly Earlier this year, Google made this recall feature available through the Android version of the Gmail app as well. It will show up in a black bar at the bottom of the screen just after you push send. Google Hangouts Unlike the other services we’ve discussed so far, Hangouts is a stickler for getting your messages right on the first try because it doesn’t have a real unsend feature. You can turn off your own history so Hangouts won’t keep track of the conversation on your end, but it won’t hide it from the other person. Also, deleting a message or even an entire conversation from a group won’t scrape your contributions out. Snapchat The fleeting nature of Snapchat is a large part of its appeal—the app started the trend of self-expiring “stories” that currently dominates the social media landscape on Instagram and Facebook. Some content on Snapchat does last forever, however. Earlier this year, Snap gave users the chance to use a features called Clear Chat, which lets you delete stickers, audio, text, or pictures and videos that you sent from Memories. It won’t, however, let you unsend pictures or videos you send to groups or individuals. It basically only allows you to delete messages sent using archived content. Twitter DM Pulling back a Twitter direct message is a fairly straightforward process. On the web, there’s a little garbage can next to the message that makes it easy to trash. On the app, you have to select and hold the message you want gone, but it’s still relatively simple. It automatically removes it from the other person’s inbox as well. However, people often check Twitter notifications immediately so there’s a chance they might see it before you can tug your message back out of their box. Apple Messages Apple’s default texting service doesn’t have a recall function, and deleting a message in your feed will only remove it on your end. Now that 10-minutesages live in the cloud, however, thi10-minuteally an upgrade over how it was before where deleting a message on your own phone didn’t necessarily mean it would get deleted on your laptop or iPad. So at least there’s that. Android There’s no official way to unsend a text from Android, but there are some workarounds. An app called “On Second Thought” gives you a sixty second window to call back a message sent in error. You can also always try the old last-second trick of quickly turning your phone onto airplane mode to try and cut off the connection before it can send. Fast connections and quick phones have made that one hard to pull off, however.
  17. One of the things I've always enjoyed most about nakedbikes is their ability to make slow feel fast, and fast feel faster. The lack of a fairing makes it a genuine feat of strength to hold on and keep attacking if you spend any amount of time over 120 mph (~200km/h), where such speeds are a bit of a doddle on a sportsbike. By 160 mph (~260 km/h), the wind is battering you relentlessly. Your head is helplessly bobbing from side to side in the furiously fluctuating pressure zones around your helmet, which is pushing back so hard that your neck is straining and your nose is pressing up against your visor. This is with your whole body crouched down over the tank, too. The very thought of popping your chest up into the windstream is an invitation for the bike to go on without you. It's a glorious and wild and elemental and testing experience, and it's around about as fast as I've been without the cheat code of sporty fairings. Not because I didn't want to go faster, mind you, but because most nakedbikes simply can't go any faster with me on them. It's linear horsepower against exponential drag. The poor, shrieking motor is faithfully giving all it's got as you fly into the future, willing the number on your speedo to creep up just one or two more with your pupils the size of smarties and your fingers straining to keep their grip on the bars. I don't blame the bikes – this isn't what they're built for. With the prodigious power of the modern engine, they're already quite literally going faster than they would if you dropped them out of an aeroplane. And that would be fast enough for most people. Like everything MV makes (well, everything this side of the Turismo Veloce, perhaps), it's a glass-case beauty to behold. Like none of MV's other current Brutale naked models, it uses the 998cc inline 4-cylinder motor from the outgoing F4, which, you'll remember, has just been eulogized as one of the great bike designs of all time with the F4 Claudio final edition. Horsepower from this screaming work of art: 208 at 13,450rpm, or 212 if you pop the right exhaust on. Not just a little more than the rampant KTM 1290 Super Duke and aggressive Aprilia Tuono 1100, around 30 horses more. Torque peaks at 9,300 rpm with 115 Nm, or 85 pound-feet. In terms of equipment, it's all there: electronic semi-active Ohlins bouncy bits to stick you to the road, Brembo's fancy Stylema brakes to pull you up, bidirectional quickshifter, traction control, wheelie control, torque control, ride-by-wire and a flashy 5-inch color dash. The ABS system isn't lean angle-sensitive, but it is clever enough to keep the rear wheel down if you mash the front lever and pray. Dry weight is a decent 186 kg, or 410 pounds. MV claims it's created a 302 km/h (187 mph) nakedbike here. That is a prodigious and laudable claim, and despite the two small wings either side of the radiator, it's much nakeder than you might expect for a bike designed to achieve such goals. What does it cost? What does it matter? MV will only make 300 of them, and they're likely already sold. It's more important to know this beast is out there, and hope that somebody among us gets to test themselves against the fury of the wind. Hopefully whichever maniac manages to top this thing out returns from the top of the mountain with a tale to tell, because I'd love to know what it's like at the next level. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAVHYMMk30o Source: MV Agusta
  18. It's looking more and more like Harley's only hope is to branch out into new segments in search of a replacement for its withering customer base, and the 2020 Livewire represents the storied company's first big punch as it tries to fight its way into millennial relevancy. There are a few of key things we still don't know about this bike – namely power, torque, range, voltage and price. H-D's EICMA reveal stayed silent on these very important points, but it did give us our first glimpse of what it'll look like – and it's not bad at all. The design isn't as clean as what we first saw in the Project Livewire prototype fleet that made its way around the world starting back in 2014. In particular, the area around the footpegs is a lot busier to look at, but the overall lines are nice, paying homage to Harley's flat tracking heritage and doing a decent job of working around the big, unattractive battery box that necessarily sits as a giant design black hole just where the beautiful Harley V-twin would ordinarily take pride of place. All we know about the electric motor is that it's a permanent magnet design, it's painted bright silver to make it a visual feature, and it's located under the battery box to keep the weight of the bike low and central for sprightly handling. This should certainly out-handle most of Harley's current portfolio, particularly given the "premium high-performance, fully adjustable Showa suspension" it'll run at both ends. The shock will be a balance-free rear cushion-lite monoshock, the forks will be big piston, separate function, and the setup will be tuned for "composed control in typical urban riding conditions." The Brembo monoblock brakes and dual 300mm front discs might give Harley riders their first good reason to reach for the front brake lever in many moons. They're ABS units, as well, and traction control will also be standard when the Livewire debuts. There will be seven selectable riding modes – four pre-programmed and three available custom slots for riders to set up themselves – and the main interface will be a full color, tilt-adjustable TFT touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, as is the style of these times. Like all electrics, it'll happily slow-charge in the garage at home or work when plugged into a standard wall outlet. It'll also support DC fast charging using the J1772 or CCS2 - IEC Type 2 connectors if you need to juice up faster. To assuage any fears riders might have about gliding around on a silent motorcycle that can't annoy passers-by, Harley has designed the Livewire motor "to produce a tone that increases in pitch and volume at speed." This idea excited me a little, because Harley has always paid attention to the sound of its bikes, going so far as to trademark the iconic "potato-potato-potato" sound of its engines at idle back in 1994. Electrics are much quieter than thumping v-twins, but there's an opportunity for somebody to come out and start making electrics with an iconic sound that's a bit more compelling than the turbine-like whine coming out of most I've ridden to date. Unfortunately, there's a video to put an end to this train of thought. You'll find it at the bottom of the page. The Livewire sounds more or less exactly like an electric motorcycle. Which is fine. That's all we know at this stage, but pre-orders will open up with the release of more information in early 2019, and Harley says it expects to have a "full portfolio" of electrics on offer by 2022. Will it get millennial buttocks onto Harleys as effectively as the skull-face bandannas and sly outlaw connotations did for baby boomers' buns? Time will tell. But Harley's going wide open throttle to take the lead on mass-market premium electric motorcycling. And that's got to be good for progress. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU1Hv8uuDY4 Source: Harley-Davidson
  19. Scientists just activated the world's biggest "brain": a supercomputer with a million processing cores and 1,200 interconnected circuit boards that together operate like a human brain. Ten years in the making, it is the world's largest neuromorphic computer — a type of computer that mimics the firing of neurons — scientists announced on Nov. 2. Dubbed Spiking Neural Network Architecture, or SpiNNaker, the computer powerhouse is located at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and it "rethinks the way conventional computers work," project member Steve Furber, a professor of computer engineering at the University of Manchester, said in a statement. But SpiNNaker doesn't just "think" like a brain. It creates models of the neurons in human brains, and it simulates more neurons in real time than any other computer on Earth, according to the statement. "Its primary task is to support partial brain models: ­for example, models of cortex, of basal ganglia, or multiple regions ­expressed typically as networks of spiking [or firing] neurons," Furber told Live Science in an email. Double the processors Since April 2016, SpiNNaker has been simulating neuron activity using 500,000 core processors, but the upgraded machine has twice that capacity, Furber explained. With the support of the European Union's Human Brain Project — an effort to construct a virtual human brain — SpiNNaker will continue to enable scientists to create detailed brain models. But now it has the capacity to perform 200 quadrillion actions simultaneously, university representatives reported in the statement. While some other computers may rival SpiNNaker in the number of processors they contain, what sets this platform apart is the infrastructure connecting those processors. In the human brain, 100 billion neurons simultaneously fire and transmit signals to thousands of destinations. SpiNNaker's architecture supports an exceptional level of communication among its processors, behaving much like a brain's neural network does, Furber explained. "Conventional supercomputers have connectivity mechanisms that are much less well­suited to real­time brain modeling," he said. "SpiNNaker is, I believe, capable of modeling larger spiking neural networks in biological real time than any other machine." Mind over matter Previously, when SpiNNaker was operating with only 500,000 processors, it modeled 80,000 neurons in the cortex, the brain region that moderates data from the senses. Another SpiNNaker simulation of the basal ganglia, a brain area affected by Parkinson's disease, hints at the computer's potential as a tool for studying brain disorders, according to the statement. SpiNNaker can also control a mobile robot called SpOmnibot, which uses the computer to interpret data from the robot's vision sensors and make navigation choices in real time, university representatives said. With all its computing power and brain-like capabilities, how close is SpiNNaker to behaving like a real human brain? For now, exactly simulating a human brain is simply not possible, Furber said. An advanced machine such as SpiNNaker can still manage only a fraction of the communication performed by a human brain, and supercomputers have a long way to go before they can think for themselves, Furber wrote in the email. "Even with a million processors, we can only approach 1 percent of the scale of the human brain, and that's with a lot of simplifying assumptions," he said. However, SpiNNaker could mimic the function of a mouse brain, which is 1,000 times smaller than a human brain, Furber added. "If a mouse thinks mouse-­sized thoughts and all that is required is enough neurons wired together in the right structure (which is itself a debatable point), then maybe we can now reach that level of thinking in a model running on SpiNNaker," he said.
  20. The digital avatar can work 24 hours a day, instantly reciting whatever script it is fed China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, has revealed it will deploy a new digitally generated newsreader to report the news in both Chinese and English languages. The artificial anchor has been designed to reduce news production costs and increase efficiency, however, the use of the technology by a propagandic state-run news agency brings a new definition to the term "fake news." The voice and appearance of the digital anchor is based on Chinese newsreader Zhang Zhao and Xinhua News Agency claims "he" can instantly report news as it happens 24 hours a day. The digital anchor is already available on several internet and mobile platforms in the country. The system, as revealed in several videos recently released, is not exactly the most sophisticated digital character we have seen. Its voice has the undeniable artificial quality of a simplistic computer-generated text-to-speech engine, while the facial expressions and lip movements are unimpressively animated. However, several other recent digital innovations have clearly demonstrated the massive potential for this kind of technology. From next-generation deepfake video techniques, to realistic voice-imitation systems, the ability to create digital avatars that perfectly resemble real humans is pretty much already here. Perhaps the most concerning implication of this Chinese experiment is the entirely transparent move towards completely eliminating human personalities from the world of journalism. Media censorship in China is not a new news story, and the country is well-known for suppressing information that is counter to the state's interests. In many ways there isn't a particular difference in having a digital avatar spout the same propagandic scripts that a human anchor would read. The most chilling thing is that this technology allows the government to openly create artificial human puppets that can parrot whatever they want without even offering the pretense of human journalistic credibility. Any semblance of trust that develops between a human newsreader and the general public is not only eliminated, but rendered fundamentally unnecessary. With this development, China is essentially saying it doesn't even need a human face to recite its state-sanctioned messages. The big question that must now be asked is not how can we distinguish between what is real and what is fake, but whether we even care about the difference? With the rise of CGI Instagram influencers and digital reincarnations of long-dead actors, we are rapidly becoming accustomed to engaging with entirely artificial creations. Is this simply the next logical step in that process? The complete realization of the concept of "fake news." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_OetRQl2s0 Source: Xinhua News Agency
  21. The Marine Corps wants small business owners' help in developing a new non-lethal laser system capable of transmitting orders to someone more than a half-mile away, burning through their clothing, or sending disorienting flash bangs that can temporarily blind them. The Scalable Compact Ultra-Short Pulse Laser Systems would ideally fit on a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Humvee or even an unmanned system. That's according to a solicitation on the Small Business Innovation Research website, which encourages companies to compete for federal research and development programs. The Marine Corps' deadline for applications on this laser system closed Wednesday. It's not immediately clear whether any small businesses sent in their ideas. The ideal weapon system the Marine Corps wants should: produce flash-blind effects from a minimum distance of 100 meters; burn through common clothing, such as fabric, denim or leather; and deliver voice commands to those as far as 10 football fields away. The weapon system should ... secure two-way communications and delivery of intelligible voice commands such as 'get out' to warn individuals at minimum distance of 100 meters and up to 1000 meters," the solicitation states. The laser system should also be rugged enough to meet military environmental design and test processes, the message says. But it also needs thermal-cooling abilities that allow it to be attached to small vehicles. Past iterations of these types of laser-weapon systems have shown promise, the announcement states, but they were too cumbersome to be attached to vehicles. While they were able to achieve extended-duration flash-bang effects and produce a "sufficient level of thermal discomfort on human skin," the final prototype wasn't able to deliver intelligible voice commands at 100 meters. Once developed, this new non-lethal weapon could have additional applications outside the Marine Corps, according to the solicitation. Civilian law enforcement departments, the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Control or the Secret Service might also find it useful. "The ability to non-lethally interdict a threatening person or persons has utility in many security and crowd control applications to include several municipal applications," the message states. This isn't the first time the Marine Corps has looked at updating some of its non-lethal capabilities. Last month, a solicitation on the same website issued a callout for munitions that could stun people from more than 100 yards away.
  22. The Federal Aviation Administration is warning amateur drone pilots that flying their aircraft near highly secure Navy submarine bases -- or the vessels operating near them -- is a no-go. The FAA issued new guidance Oct. 26 "to address concerns about potentially malicious drone operations over certain high-priority maritime operations." In cooperation with the Defense Department and U.S. Coast Guard, the agency is restricting drone flights near military vessels moving toward or away from Naval Base Kitsap in Washington and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, according to an FAA news release. For Kitsap, the portion of the Hood Canal and Strait of Juan de Fuca extending from the base to the Pacific is included in the restricted zone. And for Kings Bay, the portion of the Cumberland Sound from the base to the Atlantic is off-limits. Effective as of Friday, Navy and Coast Guard vessels moving in those areas are considered protected. "Drone operations are required to maintain a distance of at least 3,000 feet laterally and 1,000 feet vertically from these vessels," the guidance states. Violators could face criminal charges or civil penalties. Defense Department and Coast Guard personnel are also authorized to "take security action that results in the interference, disruption, seizure, damaging or destruction of unmanned aircraft considered to pose a safety or security threat," according to the FAA. Both bases house the Navy's Ohio-class submarines, which can be armed with ballistic missiles. Scott Bassett, a spokesman at Kings Bay, told Military.com that base personnel have not seen an uptick in drone activities in the region. "Above Kings Bay, we've got what we call prohibited airspace, so for the longest time, nothing has been allowed to fly over," he said. Kitsap officials did not immediately respond to questions about any increases in drone sightings in and around their base. But in July, the Kitsap Sun reported that there had already been 16 drones spotted above Naval Base Kitsap in 2018. There were another 68 of those incidents reported in 2016 and 2017, according to the paper. Navy officials were, according to the Sun, concerned drone pilots might be trying to illicitly shoot photos or video of sensitive military assets.
  23. A U.S.-Japanese interceptor successfully shot down a test ballistic missile over Hawaii. It was the second-ever success for the joint missile defense program, and a stunning technological accomplishment. Also, the whole thing was captured on video. The interceptor, called the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA, destroys targets with sheer force, rather than an explosive warhead, and according to its manufacturer Raytheon, the interceptor's "kill vehicle" (a projectile) rams into a ballistic missile with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling 600 mph (965 km/h). But does any of this make the U.S. (or Japan) any safer? Are American cities less likely to be struck by nuclear missiles now? [The 22 Weirdest Military Weapons] That's a much tougher question to answer. This second-ever success for the SM-3 missile interceptor follows two public (and embarrassing) failures for the program, during which the interceptors failed to hit their targets. As Defense News reported, the first test in February 2017 was successful, but a second test in June 2017 failed after a sailor "accidentally triggered the missile’s self-destruct feature." A third test, in January, failed to hit the target. As Jefferey Lewis, a nuclear expert and Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, has noted several times on his podcast, this track record isn't particularly inspiring for a program tasked with protecting cities from nuclear fireballs. The task of hitting a nuclear missile that's shooting through space with an interceptor is incredibly difficult. The missile itself moves at blistering speeds and is relatively tiny in the vastness of space. The SM-3 must move even faster, and travel at a near-perfect trajectory, to smash into its target. It's often compared to shooting a bullet with a bullet. The interceptor, theoretically capable of being launched from sea or land, uses radar data transmitted to it from land to home in on its target. Lewis has noted previously that even the low success rate of defense systems like the SM-3 makes them look more capable than they may really be. In the real world, a nuclear attack probably wouldn't involve just one missile. It probably wouldn't occur in the ideal weather conditions during which these tests are scheduled. And it might come from an unexpected location or travel along an unexpected trajectory. It's unclear how an interceptor that has a 50-percent or so success rate during tests would perform in that sort of real-world scenario. Folks involved with the SM-3 program have a more optimistic take on the tests. Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves told reporters in March that even failures represent learning opportunities for the program, and that it will ultimately make the U.S. safer. The goal is to eventually station SM-3s in Poland, Romania and Japan. A May 2018 report from the Government Accountability Office put the interceptor's price tag at $39 million. Meanwhile, as Live Science has reported previously, some experts believe that efforts to expand U.S. missile defenses have triggered Russian investment into bizarre new forms of nuclear weapons designed to avoid such defenses. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbmjfiSq5Zs
  24. The next time a military helicopter pilot tells the co-pilot “take the controls," there may not need to be anyone in the next seat over. Military researchers are developing a new system that lets a pilot completely hand off flying the aircraft to an autonomous system. The ALIAS system, or Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System, was developed by DARPA to provide an invisible backup pilot, allowing the pilot to do other things such as coordinate friendly forces, adjust a plan of action, or anything else that requires full attention. Pilots can then dip back into ALIAS to re-suggest, re-route, or re-plan the ongoing flight as needed. The ALIAS System was incorporated into a commercial Sikorsky S-76B helicopter nicknamed SARA (Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft) and demonstrated at Fort Eustis, Virginia, in October. According to DARPA, the helicopter was able to conduct a number of missions, including low-level terrain flight, confined-area takeoffs and landings, landing-zone selection, trajectory planning, and wire-obstacle avoidance. The helicopter uses built-in LIDAR sensors to determine distance from obstacles, particularly in choosing a safe landing zone. Along with freeing pilots to do other necessary jobs, automation could be useful if one or both pilots are wounded. Autonomous-capable helicopters can fly low-risk, monotonous missions, such as supply runs, while the pilots sleep. It could also allow helicopter units to keep flying simple missions during a pilot shortage. Sikorsky, a division of Lockheed Martin, is working on extending ALIAS into both crewed and uncrewed aircraft, including helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The next phase in the project involves installing ALIAS in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to give it full functionality over the aircraft’s controls. Blackhawk tests are set to begin in 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J06OmgIOdJ4 Source: DARPA
  25. The Sub of the Future Is a Drone Mothership Inspired by a Sperm Whale A French defense contractor is showing off a submarine design unlike any other. Inspired by the sperm whale, the SMX-31, also known as the “Electric,” is heavily armed and supports a wide range of unmanned vehicles, and can even function as a mothership to naval special forces. The submarine is also heavily automated, with a crew of just 15. Unveiled at the Euronaval exhibition in Paris, SMX-31 breaks almost every convention of submarine design. The vessel lacks a conventional sail, giving it an organic, whale-like appearance—indeed, its design was influenced by the deep-diving sperm whale. It has retractable hydroplanes that fold into the hull, a hexagonal-patterned skin with built-in sensor antennas, and a pair of rim drive propulsors (pump jets) housed in the stern of the craft. Internally, the sub is a two-hulled design, with a lighter outer and heavier inner hull. The ship is electrically powered, with lithium ion batteries providing a power source instead of diesel engines or a nuclear reactor. Maximum diving depth is unknown but at least 800 feet. Electric can also act as a mothership for unmanned vehicles. It can launch unmanned aerial vehicles from a tethered launcher that floats to the surface while the submarine itself remains submerged. It will disgorge unmanned undersea vehicles from a rear hangar. SMX-31 will also accommodate underwater delivery vehicles such as the six-man Propulsor Sous-Marins 3rd Generation used by naval special forces to infiltrate coastal areas. SMX-1 carries a whopping 46 heavy torpedoes and missiles, including the F21 Artemis heavyweight torpedo and SCALP land attack cruise missile recently used in NATO air strikes against Syria. The submarine has vertical launch silos in the bow and horizontally mounted stern-mounted launch tubes. All of this capability is packed into a very small ship: “Electric” is just 229 feet long and displaces 3,400 tons. The submarine will be able to operate at sea for 30-45 days, depending on battery capacity, with a maximum underwater speed of 20 knots. One reason such a small submarine can do so much is that it has a crew of just 15. Submarines smaller than SMX-13 typically have crews of 60 or more.
  26. At SEMA last year, Mopar announced it would offer the 707-hp supercharged V8 from the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcat in crate form, creatively called the Hellcrate. This year, Mopar is upping the ante to the tune of 1000 horsepower and 950 lb-ft of torque. Meet the "Hellephant." It's the modern 426 Hemi of your dreams. The Hellephant is loosely based on a standard Hellcat engine, but a bigger bore and stroke bring displacement up from 6.2 to 7.0 liters. The Hellcat's iron block is ditched in favor of the all-aluminum block used in the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak race car, helping save significant weight. A new supercharger makes an appearance here, as does a set of custom forged pistons and a high-lift cam. The valvetrain is borrowed from the 840-hp V8 used in the Dodge Challenger Demon. Mopar claims the Hellephant is the first 1000-hp crate engine offered by an OEM, and amazingly, it plans on selling it as part of a plug-and-play kit for pre-1976 vehicles. On top of that, Mopar will offer a "Front End Accessory Drive" kit, which includes an alternator, power-steering pump and all the belts and pulleys you may need. 1968 Dodge Super Charger To show off the Hellephant, Mopar installed one in a 1968 Dodge Charger it's cleverly calling the "Super Charger." In the Super Charger, the Hellephant is paired with the stock six-speed manual from a Challenger Hellcat, and there are other modern parts found throughout to give it a modern look. It's about as ideal a home as you could find for this wild new engine, though we hope someone finds a way to stick this in a modern Hellcat. The Hellephant will be available starting next year, though pricing hasn't been announced yet. Expect it to cost a good bit more than the $20,000 of the Hellcrate. Source: Road & Track
  27. Yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a speech outlining the need for digital privacy reform, especially here in the United States where we don’t enjoy legal protection as citizens of the EU do under the General Data Protection Regulation. One of the key rights Cook championed was the ability for people to access, download, correct, or even delete this personal information that many companies—from social networks to data brokers—use to profile us. Many sites, in fact, already allow users to view and download their personal information, but trying to track it all down requires a lot of patience, as well as a fast internet connection and gigabytes of free hard drive space. Here are links for downloading your info from some of the biggest collectors. You might be surprised by just how much they know. Facebook When it comes to compiling data about users, there are few who do it more comprehensively than Facebook. In fact, there’s so much data about each user that the company splits up the downloads into sections and logs to make viewing it more manageable. If you follow this link, you’ll find links to activity logs that collect various types of Facebook activities into a single stream. So, if you want to see every status update you’ve ever made, you can do that here. If you want to download an archive of everything you’ve ever done on Facebook, you can do that here. The file will be big—like, multiple gigabytes big. Once you dig into the Facebook settings on this page, you can scroll down to the bottom and see things that may surprise you. For instance, Facebook thinks I’m in the “established adult life” stage of my life, whatever that means. Not to be outdone by Apple, this week Google also revamped the way in which users can interact with and download their personal data. If you go to the My Activity page, you will see a running tally of everything you have done using Google products. The sheer volume of entries on that page might be impressive. It likely includes every search you’ve requested, every time you’ve used Google Maps, all of the YouTube videos you’ve watched, and smart home functions you’ve done via app or a Google Assistant speaker. You can even listen to your Google Assistant voice requests. If you want to delete this activity, you can do so by going to this page and selecting the dates you want to delete or choose by service. So, if you want to nuke your YouTube history after some questionable binge watching, you can do so. Before you consider your Google account nice and tidy, you might consider doing one of the Privacy Checkups, which will run you through your settings and show you what the services are collecting. Amazon It’s easy enough to see most of the information about your Amazon account through the regular menus on the site or through the app, but you may not know that Amazon keeps audio from your Alexa requests and links them to your account. You can find them by going to the devices page and clicking the box under where it says “Actions.” Snapchat If you’re still using Snapchat (or you stopped, but want to know what information the company has about you), you can visit this page and submit a request. It will take a while for the company to “prepare” your data into a zip file (usually a couple hours) and then you get a link from which you can download it. Some personal data like your device history is located at this page if you want to see it without the download. Twitter To grab your Twitter archive, head into the account settings page and navigate to the “Download your data” section. Like with Snapchat, Twitter will gather up your info into a zip file and send you a link for downloading. You’ll need to have a confirmed email address if you want to go through with the process. Microsoft Even if you mostly use Macs, Microsoft may still have some information about you if you use any of its services like Xbox, Skype, or that old Hotmail account you forgot about. You can head to Microsoft’s privacy hub, where you can sign in and download a compilation of all your personal data. If you use a Windows computer, expect to find a bunch of information in there. The hub also directs you to the various privacy settings pages across the Microsoft stable of apps. Data brokers While tracking down your info on specific tech and social media sites is relatively straightforward at this point, finding the shadowy information that’s tracked, scraped, and extrapolated by data collection companies is much harder to pin down. Acxiom, for example, is a large “marketing data” company that takes information about people on the web and forms profiles that marketers can use for targeted advertising. If you want to see the data it collects about you, you can create an account at its AboutTheData website. Yes, you have to give them your personal information if you want to see what personal information they have about you. You can also opt out of Acxiom’s data collection practices, which will stop them from tracking you further, but won’t erase the information that’s already there. Acxiom is just one company of many, though. Motherboard has a massive list of data brokers and links to help you opt out of their tracking. It’s a great resource, but it will likely take you a few hours to hit all the links. Some larger agencies will even make you send them a copy of your photo ID to prove your identity due to the sensitive nature of the data. The big takeaway from all of this data is to keep an eye on your privacy settings when you use apps and sites. It’s still a maze of permissions and privacy agreements, but it’s actually easier now than it ever has been thanks to reforms like GDPR. Be vigilant.
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