Tag Archives: tech

The Weather Channels New Green Screen Tech is Impressive

As hurricane season begins, the Weather Channel debuted a new green screen technology that uses Unreal Engine—a video game development tool used to render graphics in real-time.

According to Motherboard:

The presentation was created as a partnership between The Weather Channel and The Future Group, a Norwegian company that struck a deal last year with the makers of Unreal Engine—Epic Games—to use the tech in TV broadcasts. The project is designed to bring mixed reality and augmented reality to live productions.

While the premise for graphics wasn’t terribly groundbreaking (many would say it’s common sense to evacuate areas where the water level is near the height of a basketball net), its potential moving forward is intriguing and certainly makes for more compelling television.

Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/weather-channel-green-screen-hurricane-flooding-demo/

An all-female armed unit is making sure poachers stay away from one of Africas largest elephant populations


Over 200 wildlife species are being illegal sold via Facebook groups in Thailand. The slow loris, pictured above, is among the most commonly advertised for sale.
Image: Getty Images/500px Plus

A wildlife trafficking watchdog is calling out Facebook for hundreds of listings of animals in Thailand.

TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring organization, is releasing a report today detailing a multiyear investigation that monitored Facebook groups that facilitated the sale of wildlife. The listings included live and dead animals, as well as animal body parts according to the BBC.

Of the over 1,500 animal listings discovered by TRAFFIC, more than half of the animals offered up for trade are protected under Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act. Some of the listed animals, such as the Helmeted Hornbill and the Siamese crocodile are a critically endangered species. In the case of a species like the Helmeted Hornbill and the Siamese crocodile, TRAFFIC says its critically endangered status meant that even a single creature removed from the wild would be detrimental for the species’ survival.

In total, the group found listings for 200 species. Listings included animals native to Thailand, like the Asiatic black bear, as well as species not native to the country like the Eurasian otter and the black spotted turtle, all of which are barred from international trade.

The listings were all uncovered by TRAFFIC during a single month in 2016. They were discovered across 12 different animal trade Facebook groups the organization was monitoring. While two Facebook groups have since shut down, TRAFFIC revisited the remaining groups to analyze in 2018. The organization found that total membership across the groups had grown. In 2016, total membership of all the animal trade Facebook groups monitored by TRAFFIC was 106,111. Now, two years later, the groups boast a total of 203,445 members.

Facebook policy prohibits the sale of any animals — domesticated pets, livestock, or otherwise. In a statement to the BBC, a Facebook spokesperson said “Facebook does not allow the sale or trade of endangered species or their parts, and we remove this material as soon as we are aware of it. We are committed to working with Traffic and law enforcement authorities to help tackle the illegal online trade of wildlife in Thailand.”

As Gizmodo points out, Facebook provided a similar statement to the BBC two years ago when TRAFFIC released a report on the same types of illegal wildlife sales Facebook groups operating in Malaysia.

Earlier this year, it was reported that a complaint was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by the National Whistleblower Center on behalf of an informant over advertising that was being displayed on Facebook groups engaging in the illegal wildlife trade. The complaint accused Facebook of monetizing groups selling rhino horn, elephant ivory, and other threatened animal body parts.

Mashable has reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

Read more: https://mashable.com/article/illegal-animal-trade-facebook-thailand/

Russia’s biggest gun maker thinks its electric car is a Tesla killer. HAHAHA!


Can the modern but retro Kalashnikov CV-1 take on Tesla?
Image: Kalashnikov

Russia’s biggest gun manufacturer is looking to take on Tesla with its new electric concept car.

Kalashnikov, maker of the AK-47 assault weapon, has gone retro with its new “supercar,” the CV-1, unveiled at a Russian defense show near Moscow Thursday.

According to media outlets reporting at a press event at the expo, a Kalashnikov media rep said the car will “let us stand in the ranks of global electric car producers such as Tesla.”

It certainly looks retro, with the design and body of an old-school IZh 21252 “Kombi” car — the Kombi came from a Soviet era car maker from the 1970s. It’s a bold design decision, a vintage throwback akin to the Fujifilm Instax camera.

The CV-1 supercar has a rather old-fashioned design.

Image: Kalashnikov

Aside from making guns, Kalashnikov had previously built electric motorcycles and electric “Ovum” vehicles that were used at the World Cup in Russia this summer. The electric motorcycles had been used last year for police patrolling roads. But mostly the company builds weapons. And the occasional salt-and-pepper shaker.

So, will the company’s CV-1 “supercar” stand up to Tesla’s electric empire?

A limited number of Tesla vehicles have been sold in Russia in the past few years.

Kalashnikov didn’t give any pricing details for the potential vehicle, but the specs that the company provided didn’t exactly stack up with Tesla.

Tesla’s electric vehicles boast much more impressive stats. The CV-1 claims to have about a 200-mile range and go from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds. Tesla’s newest affordable sedan, the Model 3, has a 220-mile range and a long-range battery that reaches 310 miles. The Model 3 can reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

If the concept car isn’t that impressive to you, check out the gun maker’s walking robot named Igoryok, also unveiled at the defense show this week. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/08/23/kalashnikov-electric-car-cv1-tesla-russia/

Allegedly adorable surveillance bot Kuri to be discontinued


Always watching.
Image: Howard cao/Mayfield Robotics

Kuri just wanted to watch your children play. 

The roving surveillance bot, unveiled last year at CES, was billed as the first home robot that could actually catch on with consumers around the country. What with its unassuming — even “cute” — design and ability to autonomously decide to film people and pets in your home, Kuri represented a stark departure from the blind robo-murder dogs we have all grown to regard with caution. 

Alas, nothing gold can stay: Mayfield Robotics, Kuri’s manufacturer and part of the Bosch Startup Platform, announced today that things weren’t looking so hot for the 14-pound robot. 

“Sadly, our Kuri manufacturing will cease, and the Kuri robots that have been made will not ship to customers,” the manufacturer said in a company press release. “All pre-order deposits will be refunded to our customers.”

This is a shocking turnabout for Kuri, which was initially hailed by a prominent tech blog as possibly one day “[replacing] your little brother as the cutest member of your family.” 

So what went wrong? Are people just not interested in having a camera equipped, four-microphone stocked, mini robot following them around their homes, recording their every move?

Goodbye.

Image: MAYFIELD ROBOTICS

Definitely not, insists Mayfield Robotics. You see, it’s not that people prefer jogging death-bots, it’s that there was a problem with, uh, “business fit.” Yeah, business fit, that sounds right. 

“From the beginning, we have been constantly looking for the best paths to achieve scale and continue to advance our innovative technology,” the press release continued. “Typically, startups in the Bosch Startup Platform are integrated into existing Bosch business units, but after extensive review, there was not a business fit within Bosch to support and scale our business.” 

So there you have it. In the end, Kuri’s stated cause of death wasn’t a lack of consumer interest or a failure to get the tech right. Instead, the ignoble end of a rather ignoble creature was the inability to figure out how to wrap the product into the larger business conglomerate that is Bosch. 

Maybe Kuri’s designers should have also made it combat-ready? There will alway be a market for that

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/25/kuri-robot-discontinued/

Amazon wants to turn small businesses into delivery companies


Time to learn logistics for your business.
Image: amazon

Are you an entrepreneur who specializes in selling handcrafted soaps and artisanal candles? Are you an entrepreneur who doesn’t specialize in anything at all? Congratulations, you’re pre-qualified to be America’s next shipping magnate. 

At least, that’s what Amazon wants you to believe.

Amid soaring sales, the Seattle-based e-commerce giant launched the Amazon Delivery Service Partner program this week to convince you— yes, you— to get delivering packages.

The new program goes a huge step beyond the gig economy side-hustle that is Amazon Flex. The Amazon Delivery Service Partner program wants entrepreneurs to start your very own package delivery business — even if those entrepreneurs have no prior experience with shipping logistics.. 

A brochure about the new program details everything that interested would-be shipping magnates will need to launch their delivery business, and that means purchasing vans, handheld devices, uniforms, car insurance, fuel cards, and hiring drivers. 

The strategy appears to be Amazon’s latest attempt to solve its so-called “last-mile” problem with ensuring that everything customers order online gets to their front doors. Fast. And because the company takes its two-day delivery promise seriously, it seems willing to enlist just about anyone to help it reach its goal with lures of six-figure bumps to their bottom lines.

Amazon says “successful owners” can earn $300,000 in annual profit running a 40-vehicle delivery fleet. Never run a delivery fleet? Not to worry: Amazon will provide “technology and operational support.” That means that even if you have to build up (and pay for) your own delivery fleet, Amazon assures deals on Amazon-branded vehicles, uniforms, gas, insurance plans, and other things you’ll need to run your own service.

While it’s unclear whether you’ll be able to add a cool 300 grand to your profits, at least you’ll be able to add another line to your extensive resume: expert delivery driver. The hustle is real.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/06/28/amazon-delivery-service-partner/

Facebook uncovers another coordinated plot and proves it will always be a target


Never gonna give you up.
Image: SAUL LOEB/getty

Here we go again.

Facebook on Tuesday announced that it had once again detected and removed a coordinated group of so-called “inauthentic” accounts working to influence the U.S. political landscape. Despite the lessons learned from the disastrous Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, these unnamed actors managed to use the social media platform to organize real-world events and gain hundreds of thousands of followers. 

And while Facebook has kicked the 32 suspicious pages and accounts off both Facebook and Instagram, this isn’t the end. More likely, the problem will never completely fade. Regardless of the effort put forth by Menlo Park engineers and security researchers, Facebook — with its 2 billion monthly users and powerful micro-targeting tools — will forever be too tempting of a target for those looking to, say, sway an election. 

Facebook appears to be one of best tools ever created for influencing people on a mass scale. This fact is lost neither on Madison Avenue nor Savushkina Street.

While the details of this latest influence campaign are still murky, Facebook seems to have learned a few things over the course of the last two years. Perhaps most importantly, it’s learned to take its responsibilities seriously. 

“We face determined, well-funded adversaries who will never give up and are constantly changing tactics,” reads the company’s blog post on the latest findings. “It’s an arms race, and we need to constantly improve, too. It’s why we’re investing heavily in more people and better technology to prevent bad actors misusing Facebook — as well as working much more closely with law enforcement and other tech companies to better understand the threats we face.”

A so-called inauthentic post.

Image: facebook

The company stopped short of saying that the Russian Internet Research Agency was behind this latest campaign. But as Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher explained, it looks like the group is. 

“As we’ve told law enforcement and Congress, we still don’t have firm evidence to say with certainty who’s behind this effort,” wrote Gleicher. “Some of the activity is consistent with what we saw from the IRA before and after the 2016 elections.”

And yes, a sampling of the now-banned Pages reveals a pattern we’re all now very much familiar with: encouraging division and attempting to incite real-world action

A Facebook event co-organized by, Resisters, one of the now-banned Pages.

Image: facebook

The most popular of the now-banned Pages include Aztlan Warriors, Black Elevation, Mindful Being, and Resisters. According to Facebook, “more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these [suspect] Pages.”

From the limited selection of content released by Facebook, these groups worked to generate discussion around hot-button issues such as opposing Donald Trump, colonialism, and black power. The more controversy, and subsequent shares, the better. The Black Lives Matter movement was likewise abused by Russian actors in 2016.   

The investigation — and effort to pinpoint who is behind the removed content — is ongoing. If and when it completes, that investigation will in all likelihood be replaced by another. It’s cheap and relatively easy to reach scores of people on Facebook. That’s the point, after all, and no bad actor is going to suddenly forget it.

The Silicon Valley darling will never stop being a target for those who wish to manipulate people. It’s a reality we’re all just going to have to get used to. Facebook, which takes every opportunity it can to remind you that it’s “investing heavily” in combating this form of abuse, already has.  

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/31/facebook-political-influence-campaign/

Congressman proposes banning bitcoin at House hearing


Burn the coins!
Image: D-Keine/getty

Look, cryptocurrency is complicated. We get it. What with all the different coins, tokens, ICOs, exchanges, scams, protocols, and DApps, it’s borderline impossible for the casual observer to keep it all straight. 

And so, with that in mind, let us now turn to approximately three combined hours of our elected officials rambling on about the blockchain and our decentralized future.

The fun started early Wednesday, when members of the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing to discuss the future of the crypto-verse. 

“We should prohibit US persons from buying or mining cryptocurrencies.”

“This hearing will shed light on the promise of digital assets and the regulatory challenges facing this new asset class,” committee chairman Rep. K. Michael Conaway of Texas (R-Texas) explained. “Our committee has a deep interest in promoting strong markets for commodities of all types, including those emerging through new technology.”

But that wasn’t the only fun to be had today. Later in the afternoon, the House Financial Services Committee met to “examine the extent to which the United States government should consider cryptocurrencies as money and the potential domestic and global uses for cryptocurrencies.”

And what did we learn from this esteemed group? Well, for starters, that bitcoin’s got to go. 

“We should prohibit U.S. persons from buying or mining cryptocurrencies,” Rep. Brad Sherman of (D-Calif.) blasted from the podium. “Mining alone uses electricity which takes away from other needs and-or adds to the carbon footprint. As a store, as a medium of exchange, cryptocurrency accomplishes nothing except facilitating narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and tax evasion.”

Good ol’ Sherman.

Image: screenshot/house financial services committee 

Did you catch that? Mining uses electricity, and therefore should be banned. 

But not everyone agreed with Sherman. Conaway, in his closing statements, seemed to argue in favor of bitcoin — at least as opposed to more privacy-focused cryptocurrency like Monero or Zcash. 

“As long as the stupid criminals keep using bitcoin, we’ll be great,” he observed when commenting on the pseudonymous nature of bitcoin. 

Hear that, stupid criminals? Stick to bitcoin

Other fun gems include Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) admitting that “there’s a lot of things here that don’t make much sense to me.” And yet, Peterson actually seemed to have some relevant statistics at hand, like the fact that “over 80 percent of the initial coin offerings are scams.” 

Good on you, Peterson. 

Over all, the two hearings painted a picture of our elected officials attempting to wrap their heads around this brave new cryptoworld. And hey, that’s a good thing. Everyone has to start somewhere. 

After all, we can’t all be self-assured teen crypto millionaires

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/18/congressional-cryptocurrency-hearing-ban-bitcoin/

Drone Fails Compilation – Video

We’re quite the fan of compilations here at ViralViralVideos (hence our recurring fail, news bloopers or cute pets compilations), but one about drone fails is pretty new to us. These new gadgets are an amazing piece of modern technology, but we just love them for the footage they produce. Even if that footage is… subpar.

Read more: https://www.viralviralvideos.com/2018/06/19/drone-fails-compilation/

Google Assistant is straight up crushing Siri


Leaving Siri in its dust.
Image: Google screenshot

Siri has some catching up to do. 

As the day-one Google I/O keynote came to a close Tuesday in Mountain View, California, it was clear that the tech giant had left the right impression on the developers in attendance: Specifically, one of awe. Of particular note was the wide range of tasks handled by Google Assistant — tasks that, at present, Apple’s Siri could only dream of (could Siri dream). 

Want Google Assistant to make a phone call for you? Perhaps book a haircut appointment by having an actual conversation with a real human? No problem, that feature was demoed today and will be available to users “as an experiment” in the coming weeks. 

And that’s not the only Assistant-related news that Google announced today. 

“Thanks to our progress in language understanding, you’ll soon be able to have a natural back-and-forth conversation with the Google Assistant without repeating ‘Hey Google’ for each follow-up request,” explains a Google press release

And it’s not like this is some Google black magic — Amazon made a similar functionality possible with Alexa. 

Importantly, Apple announced a limited version of this at last year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, but that’s cold comfort when Siri still struggles to understand many requests in the first place. 

Oh yeah, and six new voices are coming. But wait, there’s more. 

Google Assistant will also soon help you navigate within Google Maps “so you can get information while keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road,” and, on mobile, will “give you a quick snapshot of your day with suggestions based on location, time of day, and recent interactions.”

These are all real-world applications that people might actually use, and they put Siri to shame. 

I mean, can you imagine Siri making an entire phone call for you? Like, not just dialing a number, but calling a human and having a full conversation with them? No, of course you can’t, because for the most part Siri is useless junk. 

Sure, Siri is really good at super simple stuff like setting your alarm, or unexpectedly dropping profanity, but a punctual foulmouth isn’t going to revolutionize smart assistants. 

Google Assistant, on the other hand, is on its way to doing just that. Maybe that’s why Apple hired John Giannandrea, Google’s top AI exec, earlier this spring.

Either way, Siri continues to lag behind Google Assistant, and today’s keynote emphasized just how wide the gulf between the two assistants really is. 

The ball is in Siri’s court. Now we just have to wait and see if it can figure out what to do with it. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/05/08/google-io-assistant-siri/

Teacher Using Chalkboard to Teach MS Word Draws Praise and Sparks Ire

A Facebook post showing a teacher in Ghana using a chalkboard to show students how to use MS Word has gone viral.

People have been quick to praise the teacher’s spirit and dedication but the post has also sparked ire and disappointment that a teacher trying to teach computers doesn’t even have access to one in the classroom.

Owura Kwadwo teaches ICT (Information and Communications Technology) in Kumasi, Ghana and studied visual arts in school—which has come handy in his teaching profession.

In an interview with Bored Panda, Kwadwo says the viral post has garnered a number of offers for donations of laptops, projectors etc.

“There are many schools facing this same problem,†he told Bored Panda. “I can also help out and give some of the donations to them, so they can also benefit through teaching ICT.â€

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2018/02/ghana-teacher-using-chalkboard-to-teach-ms-word/