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  • Google Is Developing Native Hearing Aid Support For Android
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Google announced today that it's working with Danish hearing aid manufacturer GN Hearing to create a new hearing aid spec for Android smartphones called ASHA, or Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids. It's designed to be battery-efficient, while providing high quality audio with low latency. Hearing aids utilizing this spec will be able to connect to and stream from Android devices without having to use another intermediate device. ASHA will enable Bluetooth hearing aids to be utilized the same way as headphones, used to call friends or listen to music. Google has published the new protocol specifications online for any hearing aid manufacturer to build native hearing aid support for Android. GN Hearing has announced that the ReSound LiNX Quattro and Beltone Amaze will be the first hearing aids to receive direct streaming support in a future update.

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  • The Ampex Sign Is Coming Down
    harrymcc writes: If you ever watched anything on videotape, you have Silicon Valley pioneer Ampex -- which invented the technology -- to thank. And for years, the company's vintage sign has stood alongside Highway 101 as a tribute to its historical significance. But Stanford University, which owns the land the sign sits on, is in the process of dismantling it -- an act which Redwood City could have prevented but didn't. I wrote about this dismaying example of cultural shortsightedness at Fast Company.

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  • The Psychedelic Drug DMT Can Simulate a Near-Death Experience, Study Suggests
    dmoberhaus writes: In the first study of its kind, [published this week in the journal Frontiers in Psychology,] researchers dosed 13 people with the potent psychedelic dimethyltryptamine (DMT) to investigate its similarity to near-death experiences. As the researchers found, DMT does in fact induce experiences that are qualitatively similar to NDEs, [but the intensity of these NDEs largely depend on context]. Motherboard spoke with an independent researcher who pioneered DMT research in the 90s to discuss the possible implications of this research. While tricky to define due to their subjective nature, "NDEs tend to share many common elements, such as feelings of inner peace, the experience of traveling through a tunnel, out of body experiences, and encounters with sentient beings," reports Motherboard. A psychiatrist not involved with the study "suggested that the overlap between DMT and NDEs could possibly be explained on a biological level since DMT is naturally produced in small quantities by the human body and has been shown to minimize neuronal damage due to hypoxia (insufficient oxygen) in test tubes," reports Motherboard. "Thus, [the psychiatrist said] 'one could construct a coherent scenario where endogenous DMT rises in response to cardiac arrest/hypoxia in order to protect the brain as long as possible.'"

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  • US Bosses Now Earn 312 Times the Average Worker's Wage, Figures Show
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The chief executives of America's top 350 companies earned 312 times more than their workers on average last year, according to a new report published Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute. The rise came after the bosses of America's largest companies got an average pay rise of 17.6% in 2017, taking home an average of $18.9m in compensation while their employees' wages stalled, rising just 0.3% over the year. The pay gap has risen dramatically, with some fluctuations, since the 1990s. In 1965 the ratio of CEO to worker pay was 20 to one; that figure had risen to 58 to one by in 1989 and peaked in 2000 when CEOs earned 344 times the wage of their average worker. CEO pay dipped in the early 2000s and during the last recession, but has been rising rapidly since 2009. Chief executives are even leaving the 0.1% in the dust. The bosses of large firms now earn 5.5 times as much as the average earner in the top 0.1%.

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  • Amazon In Running To Acquire Landmark Movie Chain
    According to Bloomberg, Amazon is in the running to acquire Landmark Theaters, a chain focused on independent and foreign films with more than 50 theaters in 27 markets, including high-profile locations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. From the report: Landmark's theaters are known for art-house fare, and some high-end locations include coffee bars or lounges, setting them apart from the typical movie experience. "This is probably a move to get broader distribution of film content," said Leo Kulp, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets LLC. "Netflix had been discussed as a potential buyer of Landmark for a similar reason." The possible move was viewed positively by investors, who saw it as a sign that Amazon wasn't looking to disrupt moviegoing and was supportive of the theatrical experience, Kulp said.

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  • The Man Who Jailbreaks Teslas
    harrymcc writes: Normally, a totaled Tesla is worth so little that they sell for peanuts at salvage auctions. But Berkeley, California engineer Phil Sadow buys trashed Tesla cars and gets them up and running again -- a feat which has required him to figure out how to root their software so he can run diagnostics normally unavailable to a tinkerer such as himself. Over at Fast Company, Daniel Terdiman tells the story of Sadow's work, which Tesla is apparently nonplussed about but has not tried to prevent. Slashdot reader Ingineerix also submitted the story, sharing an excerpt from the report: In a cramped warehouse in an industrial neighborhood in Berkeley, California, a Tesla Model 3 is ready to go. It's powered up, its display screen is on, and it's pumping out data. But there are some strange error messages. For one, the passenger door window is uncalibrated. For another, the autopilot electronic control unit is missing. These would be troubling signals for most Tesla owners. For Phil Sadow, though, they make perfect sense. After all, his Model 3 is lacking some very important components: its windows, its wheels, and the entire body frame. For the last three years, Sadow, a 49-year-old electrical engineer who also goes by the moniker Ingineer, has been rebuilding and selling salvaged Teslas. He's also taught a global community of fellow enthusiasts to do the same, charging an hourly rate as a consultant on other tinkerers' repair projects. All told, he says, he's rebuilt -- or helped other people rebuild -- almost 400 vehicles over the last three years.

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  • Nintendo's Switch Has Been Hiding a Buried 'VR Mode' For Over a Year
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Hackers have uncovered and tested a screen-splitting "VR Mode" that has been buried in the Switch's system-level firmware for over a year. The discovery suggests that Nintendo at least toyed with the idea that the tablet system could serve as a stereoscopic display for a virtual reality headset. Switch hackers first discovered and documented references to a "VrMode" in the Switch OS' Applet Manager services back in December when analyzing the June 2017 release of version 3.0.0 of the system's firmware. But the community doesn't seem to have done much testing of the internal functions "IsVrModeEnabled" and "SetVrModeEnabled" at the time. That changed shortly after Switch modder OatmealDome publicly noted one of the VR functions earlier this month, rhetorically asking, "has anyone actually tried calling it?" Fellow hacker random0666 responded with a short Twitter video (and an even shorter followup) showing the results of an extremely simple homebrew testing app that activates the system's VrMode functions. As you can see in those video links, using those functions to enable the Switch's VR mode splits the screen vertically into two identical half-sized images, in much the way other VR displays split an LCD screen to create a stereoscopic 3D effect. System-level UI elements appear on both sides of the screen when the mode is enabled, and the French text shown in the test can be roughly translated to "Please move the console away from your face and click the close button." The location of the functions in the Switch firmware suggest they're part of Nintendo's own Switch code and not generic functions included in other Nvidia Tegra-based hardware.

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  • MoviePass Is Limiting Selection To 'Up To Six Films' a Day
    MoviePass is changing things up once again. In an email, CEO Mitch Lowe outlined the latest updates to the once-unlimited subscription plan. Most notable among the changes is the limiting of selection to "up to six films to choose from daily, including a selection of major studio first-run films and independent releases." TechCrunch reports: On top of that, there may be further limitations on showtime availability for the selected titles, based on "the popularity of those films on the app that particular day." The company has already begun limiting access to specific films, starting with a barring of major blockbusters and moving toward limiting selection generally. Now users can go to the "This Week's Movies" page to see what's available. Right now, there's a semi-consistent, rotating selection. Which movies are chosen and when will likely be at least partially dependent on deals struck between MoviePass and studios/distributors.

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  • Kroger Launches Autonomous Grocery Delivery Service In Arizona
    Residents of Scottsdale, Arizona will be able to receive autonomous grocery deliveries from Kroger-owned Fry's Food Stores. The technology required to make this all possible is supplied by Nuro, a self-driving vehicle startup founded by two veterans of Google's self-driving car project. Ars Technica reports: Kroger says that deliveries will have a flat $5.95 delivery fee, and customers can schedule same-day or next-day deliveries. Initially, the deliveries will be made by Nuro's fleet of modified Toyota Priuses with a safety driver behind the wheel. But Kroger expects to start using Nuro's production model -- which doesn't even have space for a driver -- this fall. That vehicle, known as the R1, is significantly smaller and lighter than a conventional passenger car. When we talked to Nuro cofounder Dave Ferguson back in May, he argued that the R1's design had significant safety benefits. A smaller, lighter vehicle would do less damage if it ever ran into something. The vehicle's maximum speed of 25 miles per hour also makes serious injuries less likely. And the fact that the car is dramatically narrower than a traditional car gives it significant safety benefits, Ferguson argued.

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  • Google Employees Protest Secret Work On Censored Search Engine For China
    According to The New York Times, "Hundreds of Google employees, upset at the company's decision to secretly build a censored version of its search engine for China, have signed a letter demanding more transparency to understand the ethical consequences of their work (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source)." In the letter, the employees wrote that the project and Google's apparent willingness to abide by China's censorship requirements "raise urgent moral and ethical issues." They added, "Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment." From the report: The letter is circulating on Google's internal communication systems and is signed by about 1,000 employees, according to two people familiar with the document, who were not authorized to speak publicly. The letter also called on Google to allow employees to participate in ethical reviews of the company's products, to appoint external representatives to ensure transparency and to publish an ethical assessment of controversial projects. The document referred to the situation as a "code yellow," a process used in engineering to address critical problems that impact several teams.

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  • FDA Approves First Generic Version of EpiPen
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr auto injector for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions. The approval is part of the FDA's "longstanding commitment" to providing access to low-cost generic alternatives, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. It is unclear how much the generic product -- manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals -- will cost. In August 2016, Mylan Pharmaceuticals was criticized for raising the price of a two-pack of EpiPens to $600. The price of two EpiPens was about $100 in 2009. The brand name version is by far the most popular epinephrine auto-injector on the market. "This approval means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to life-saving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential drug shortages," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement.

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  • Twitter's Relationship With Third-Party Apps is Messy -- But It's Not Over
    It's a day that developers of some of the most high-profile Twitter third-party apps have dreaded, though it's one they've long-known was coming: Twitter is finally shutting off some of the developer tools that popular apps like Tweetbot and Twitterific have heavily relied on. From a report: With the change, many third-party Twitter apps will lose some functionality, like the ability to instantly refresh users' Twitter feeds and send push notifications. It won't make these apps unusable -- in some cases the apps' users may not even immediately notice the changes -- but it's a drastic enough change that developers have mounted a public campaign against the decision. Now, Twitter is finally weighing in on the changes, after months of publicly declining to comment on the state of third-party Twitter clients. The verdict, unsurprisingly, is complicated. The company is adamant that its goal isn't to single out these developers. The company is retiring these APIs out of necessity, it says, as it's no longer feasible to support them."We are sunsetting very old, legacy software that we don't have an ability to keep supporting for practical reasons," says Ian Caims, group product manager at Twitter. At the same time, though, the company has also made a conscious decision not to create new APIs with the same functionality. Here's how Twitter's senior director of product management Rob Johnson explains the move: "It is now time to make the hard decision to end support for these legacy APIs -- acknowledging that some aspects of these apps would be degraded as a result. Today, we are facing technical and business constraints we can't ignore. The User Streams and Site Streams APIs that serve core functions of many of these clients have been in a 'beta' state for more than 9 years, and are built on a technology stack we no longer support.

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  • A Paper Posted Last Month Claims To Have Achieved Superconductivity at Room Temperature, But Other Physicists Say the Data May Be Incorrect
    dmoberhaus writes: Last month, two Indian physicists posted a paper to arxiv claiming to have demonstrated superconductivity at room temperature. If this paper is legitimate, it would represent a breakthrough in a problem that has existed for superconductivity for 100 years. Understandably, the paper shook the physics world, but when researchers started digging into the data they noticed something wasn't quite right -- the noise patterns in two independent measurements exactly correlated, which is basically impossible in a random system. The Indian researchers have doubled down on their data, and things only got weirder from there. This is a look inside what could be the biggest drama to happen in physics in nearly a decade.

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  • Return of the Bubble Car?
    mikeebbbd writes: Back in the 1950s, many European carmakers (some of which are still in operation such as BMW) made tiny cars for one or 2 people that ran on tiny amount of gas. The remaining examples of bubble cars have become sort of a fetish. Now two Swiss brothers, according to Reuters, are trying to resurrect one of the more iconic designs -- the BMW Isetta. One wonders how it could meet any kind of safety standards, but a prototype is shown in the article. Perhaps it might be registered as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, which gets it by a few standards? Oliver and Merlin Ouboter have more than 7,200 orders for their Microlino, a modern version of the Isetta which swaps the old single-cylinder petrol engine for a 20 horsepower electric motor but keeps the famous front-opening door. The brothers, whose father Wim made millions from modernized kick-scooters, plan to launch the car in December. "The average modern car is way too big for normal use," said Oliver, the project's 24-year-old operations chief.

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  • ARM Makes Its CPU Roadmap Public, Challenges Intel in PCs With Deimos and Hercules Chips
    With PC makers like Asus and HP beginning to design laptops and tablets around ARM chips, ARM itself has decided to emerge from the shadows and unroll its roadmap to challenge Intel through at least 2020, PCWorld writes. From a report, which details ARM's announcement Thursday: ARM's now-public roadmap represents its first processors that are designed for the PC space. ARM, taking aim at the dominant player, claims its chips will equal and potentially even surpass Intel's in single-threaded performance. ARM is unveiling two new chip architectures: Deimos, a 7nm architecture to debut in 2019, and Hercules, a 5nm design for 2020. There's a catch, of course: Many Windows apps aren't natively written for the ARM instruction set, forcing them to pay a performance penalty via emulation. Comparing itself to Intel is a brightly-colored signpost that ARM remains committed to the PC market, however. ARM-powered PCs like the Asus NovaGo offer game-changing battery life -- but the performance suffers, for two reasons: One, because the computing power of ARM's cores has lagged behind those of the Intel Core family; and two, because any apps that the ARM chip can't process natively have to be emulated. ARM can't do much about Microsoft's development path, but it can increase its own performance. Finally, if you were concerned that ARM PCs will be a flash in the pan, the answer is no, apparently not. Further reading: ARM Reveals First Public CPU Roadmap - Targeting Intel Performance (PC Perspective); and ARM Unveils Client CPU Performance Roadmap Through 2020 - Taking Intel Head On (AnandTech).

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