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4
Dec

How to stream a paid UFC fight: pretend it’s a video game


Here’s a fun one to start your week: On Saturday night, a Twitch streamer broadcasted the entirety of UFC 218 and, to skirt DMCA takedowns, he pantomimed like he was playing the UFC 3 video game. Yup, he streamed the mixed martial arts pay-per-view from Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit across his various social channels. AJ Lester went so far as to green-screen himself into the lower right corner of the broadcast, wear a headset and hold a (powered off) DualShock 4 for the entire fight. You can hear him twiddling the analog sticks and watch him play to the camera in the now-viral clip below.

How has he pretended to play a ufc fight on stream to avoid getting copyrighted LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL pic.twitter.com/I4ykqwqrTA

— Aaron (@TheRealSMA) December 3, 2017

According to Eurogamer, Lester hasn’t had anyone come knocking just yet, and to help protect himself, he deleted the archived stream. Maybe the proper authorities don’t work weekends? Either that, or this isn’t the type of thing that’s going to get anyone in trouble. The UFC 3 open beta runs through 2:59am Eastern, Tuesday and is available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Via: Eurogamer

Source: TheRealSMA (Twitter)

4
Dec

Life may be easier to find on planets outside the ‘habitable zone’


When scientists are looking for worlds that might harbor life on other planets, they tend to look for worlds that have features similar to Earth’s. It makes sense; after all, our dominant theories on how life evolved on the planet center on the presence of oxygen, organic molecules and liquid water. But now, two scientists are positing that we may be severely limiting ourselves by only looking for rocky planets with surface oceans. A study published last week at arXiv.org outlines the possibility that it’s more likely that scientists will find life on icy worlds with subsurface oceans.

The issue here is the definition of the “habitable zone” of a star. Right now, scientists think that they are most likely to find life on other planets within the habitable zone of a star, and that definition is based on the Earth. Scientists are looking primarily at Earth-like planets (rocky, with surface liquid water) to find life. But Manasvi Lingam and Abraham Loeb posit that this is too narrow a search. In their study, they look closely at the concept of habitable zone and how it’s not necessarily a predictor for habitability. For example, Mars and Venus are within the sun’s habitable zone.

However, planets outside this area are capable of supporting liquid oceans underneath a crust of ice. We see this in our own solar system, thanks to worlds such as Europa, Titan and possibly even Pluto. Lingam and Loeb calculate the advantages and disadvantages life would have on these planets, as well as the likelihood life could even exist on them.

They conclude that these types of icy planets with liquid oceans could exist across a wide range of conditions, and that they are much more common (around 1,000 times) than rocky planets within a star’s habitable zone. “As these worlds are likely to be far more abundant than the standard paradigm of rocky planets in the HZ of stars, we suggest that more effort should focus on modeling and understanding the prospects for life in subsurface oceans,” the study says. After all, life may face more challenges on these worlds than on an Earth-like planet, but if it’s just a numbers game, chances are that at least a few of them will support life.

Via: Universe Today

Source: arXiv.org

4
Dec

UK plans crackdown on criminals using Bitcoin to launder money


The UK government wants to increase regulation around Bitcoin by expanding financial regulations imposed by the European Union. It follows growing concerns that the cryptocurrency is being used to facilitate crime, including drug dealers, brothels and gangs. Stephen Barclay, economic secretary for HM Treasury, revealed in a notice that British legislators were negotiating amendments to the EU-wide 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. It would bring Bitcoin exchange and wallet providers under the purview of relevant national authorities, forcing them to carry out due diligence on customers and report suspicious activity. Traders would also be required to disclose their identities, according to The Guardian.

“We are working to address concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies, by negotiating to bring virtual currency exchange platforms and some wallet providers within Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing regulation,” a Treasury spokesperson told Engadget.

All of this would be a huge shake-up in the cryptocurrency community. At the moment, it’s possible to remain anonymous while dealing in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and similar digital money. That freedom is part of the appeal, of course, alongside their distributed ledgers and decentralised structures. The flip-side is that Bitcoin now has a reputation for fuelling all sorts of criminal activity. As Business Insider reports, the Metropolitan Police recently held a crime briefing to discus the problem. It said Bitcoin ATMs are increasingly being used to deposit cash without alerting its officers.

“If you move large quantities of cash around it leaves you vulnerable to other criminals,” detective chief superintendent Michael Gallagher, head of the Met’s Serious and Organised Crime Command added. “It’s in their own interest, in terms of protection, to use this.”

The UK expects its negotiations with the EU to end in the next few months. If they’re successful, the British government will need to create or amend domestic legislation to enforce the new rules. In the meantime, Bitcoin users are free to operate as normal. The currency’s value currently sits at more than $11,200, a record high. It is, therefore, no surprise to see more regulators looking twice at Bitcoin’s impact on the international economy.

John Mann, a member of the Treasury select committee, told the Telegraph that his cross-party group was likely to hold an enquiry next year. “It would be timely to have a proper look at what this means,” he said. “It may be that we want to speed up our use of these kinds of things in this country, but that makes it all the more important that we don’t have a regulatory lag.”

Source: Parliament.UK

4
Dec

SEC Cyber Unit’s first charges target cryptocurrency fraud


The Securities and Exchange Commission’s new Cyber Unit has filed its first charges since being formed in September. The unit’s case is being brought against a company called PlexCorps, its founder Dominic Lacroix and his partner Sabrina Paradis-Royer and the SEC claims that Lacroix and Paradis-Royer were actively defrauding investors. PlexCorps was engaged in an initial coin offering (ICO) — which was selling securities called PlexCoin — that had already raised around $15 million since August and it was fraudulently promising that investors would see a 13-fold profit in just under one month. The SEC obtained an emergency asset freeze to halt the ICO.

The SEC’s charges seek permanent injunctions, a release of all funds collected so far as well as interest and penalties. In a statement, Robert Cohen, head of the Cyber Unit, said, “This first Cyber Unit case hits all of the characteristics of a full-fledged cyber scam and is exactly the kind of misconduct the unit will be pursuing. We acted quickly to protect retail investors from this initial coin offering’s false promises.”

Via: Reuters

Source: SEC

4
Dec

The best VR headsets and games to give as gifts


Virtual reality headsets were once so expensive that they would have only made suitable gifts for early adopters and serious gamers. By now, though, prices have dropped across the board, and there are enough compatible games that we’re willing to recommend these headsets to a broader audience. The VR section of our holiday gift guide includes items at both the budget end of the spectrum (think: Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s refreshed Daydream View) alongside higher-end offerings like the PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift and Touch bundle. Need some games to go with it? We suggest Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Fallout 4 VR, Superhot VR and Rez Infinite. Need some accessories for someone who already owns a headset? Try the PSVR Aim Controller Farpoint bundle or the HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap.

Source: Engadget Holiday Gift Guide 2017

4
Dec

Spacesuit ‘take me home’ feature could save lost astronauts


The greatest fear for many astronauts is to get lost or disoriented during a spacewalk, especially if it’s untethered. How do you get back to safety with no sense of direction, little to no help and a limited supply of oxygen? Researchers at Draper might offer a lifeline. They recently applied for a patent on a self-return feature in spacesuits that would automatically navigate back to the astronaut’s home ship. A spacefarer in a panic could just slap a button and know they would get back to the airlock.

The trick is to equip the suit with sensors that track motion and position relative to that of a relatively stationary object like a spacecraft, with alternative methods if one system or another doesn’t work. Since GPS isn’t exactly viable in space, it could use star tracking or vision-boosted navigation to get bearings. Draper is hoping for an autonomous system that would trigger thrusters all on its own, but it’s open to the possibility of a manual system that uses an in-visor display and sensory cues to guide astronauts homeward.

This is only a patent, and it isn’t guaranteed to go into space any time soon. However, NASA has been backing Draper’s research — it’s interested in advancing spacesuit design. And as Draper notes, the basic ideas behind this could still be helpful for anyone in a suit who needs an urgent trip home, whether it’s a deep sea diver or a firefighter in the middle of a burning building.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Draper, Google Patents

4
Dec

Senators ask the FCC to delay its net neutrality vote


A group of senators has sent a letter to the FCC asking the commission to delay its December 14th vote on proposed net neutrality protection rollbacks, The Hill reports. Led by Senator Maggie Hassan, 28 senators signed the letter, which pointed to evidence that the proposal’s public comments were rife with fraudulent posts. “A free and open internet is vital to ensuring a level playing field online, and we believe that your proposed action may be based on an incomplete understanding of the public record in this proceeding,” they wrote. “In fact, there is good reason to believe that the record may be replete with fake or fraudulent comments, suggesting that your proposal is fundamentally flawed.”

A number of groups have found evidence that many of the 22 million public comments on the FCC proposal might be fake. Data scientist Jeff Kao’s report noted that at least 1.3 million comments were fake and came from a central source while the Pew Research Center found that over half of the comments came from temporary, duplicate or fake email addresses. Further, in light of evidence that some comments used other people’s identities without their consent, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sent a letter to the FCC chastising the commission for not looking into the fraudulent commentary and set up a portal so New Yorkers can see if their identities were falsely used during the public comment period.

The letter, signed by Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, requests that the FCC delay its vote until it can thoroughly review the public record and prove its accuracy. “The FCC must invest its time and resources into obtaining a more accurate picture of the record as understanding of that record is essential to reaching a defensible resolution to this proceeding,” they wrote.

Via: The Hill

Source: Senator Hassan

4
Dec

LiDAR strips landscapes down to their bare glory


LiDAR is having a moment right now helping self-driving cars and robots not hit things, but don’t forget about what else it can do. In a study called The Bare Earth, scientists from the Washington Geological Survey used it to image the ground right down to dirt and rocks. Stripped of trees and other distractions, the images provide not only valuable geological survey data, but stunning, otherworldly views of our planet.

The image above depicts a LiDAR relative elevation model (REM), showing current and previous channels carved out by the Sauk River in Washington State’s Skagit and Snohomish counties. In the regular satellite image below, however, only the active, vegetation-free channels are clearly visible — a striking display of what the technique can reveal.

“REMs are extremely useful in discerning where river channels have migrated in the past by vividly displaying fluvial features such as meander scars, terraces, and oxbow lakes,” explains Washington State geologist Daniel E. Coe in a PDF. “This type of information is very informative in channel migration and flood studies, as well as a host of other engineering and habitat assessments.”

Carried on special aircraft, LiDAR produces visible-light laser beams. While much of it bounces off of trees and vegetation, enough make it through to the ground. By examining the raw data to see which beams travel the farthest, scientists can “edit out” trees, vegetation and man-made structures. That reveals hidden seismic faults, glacial landforms, landslides, lava flows and other features that are invisible on a regular satellite photo.

Used in this way, the images also become a fantastic educational tool. Understanding things like drumlins, moraines and kettles can be pretty tough, but seeing a landform stripped to the bare ground brings the concepts to life. Suddenly, it becomes much easier to visualize how glaciers, lava flow (above), tsunamis and other natural phenomena have scarred (and will scar) our planet’s surface over time.

Considering that they’re made by scientific instruments, the LiDAR images also happen to be beautiful (seriously, check them out). You could even say that like other types of art, they strip away the surface to show things we may not want to see. A great example is the Toe Jam Hill fault scarp (part of the Seattle fault zone), first revealed by a LiDAR scan in the ’90s.

Subsequent trenching showed that it was the site of a single large earthquake 1,100 years ago, part of the great Seattle subduction quake at around 900 AD. That seismic event has become a part of the oral history and legend of Coast Salish Native Americans in the region, and is an ongoing concern to folks in Washington’s Puget Sound area. LiDAR has become an important tool in confirming ancient stories, while helping us learn about future ones — hopefully before they happen.

Via: Kottke

Source: Washington State Geological Survey

4
Dec

‘House of Cards’ returns in 2018 — without Kevin Spacey


Today, Netflix announced that it has reached an agreement to resume production on the sixth season of its tentpole show House of Cards. Variety reports that the final season will consist of eight episodes starring Robin Wright. Kevin Spacey will not appear in the season. Production on the show will resume in early 2018.

In October, Netflix canceled House of Cards following actor Anthony Rapp’s sexual assault allegations against its star, Kevin Spacey. The very next day, the streaming service suspended production on the sixth and final season of the show after members of the House of Cards crew accused Spacey of harassment and assault on set. The service made it clear that those involved would not move forward with the show in any way as long as Kevin Spacey was attached. Now, it looks like the company has solved that problem. Rumors say that the show’s storyline will incorporate the death of Kevin Spacey’s character.

Source: Variety

4
Dec

Apple Will Start Paying Ireland Billions Owed in Back Taxes ‘Early Next Year’


In August 2016 the European Commission ruled that Apple must repay 13 billion euros ($15.46 billion) in back taxes dating between 2003 and 2014. According to the EU, the taxes were avoided with the help of sweetheart tax deals from Ireland, and today The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple will now begin paying these back taxes “as soon as early next year.”

Ireland’s Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe, reports that Apple and Ireland have agreed to terms of an escrow fund for the money, setting a pace for Apple to begin repaying the taxes in Q1 2018. Apple’s payment will sit in the escrow fund while both sides continue to appeal the EU’s decision in court.

In October 2017, the EU announced its intention to take Ireland to court for its failure to recover Apple’s back tax sum, with Ireland citing the escrow account as the reason why negotiations and repayment were being held up. Now, Donohoe said the next steps will be to determine who operates the escrow account and who manages the fund once Apple begins the repayment process. The EU said that it will only close court proceedings against Ireland once Apple’s back taxes are recovered in full.

Ireland will begin collecting €13 billion ($15.46 billion) in back taxes from Apple Inc. as soon as early next year after both sides agreed to the terms of an escrow fund for the money, Ireland’s finance chief said Monday.

In a statement, Apple said, “We have a dedicated team working diligently and expeditiously with Ireland on the process the European Commission has mandated. We remain confident the General Court of the EU will overturn the Commission’s decision once it has reviewed all the evidence.”

The center of the EU’s argument is that Irish revenue commissioners gave Apple unfair advantages between 1991 and 2007 by allowing the company to move income from the European market through two “non-resident” head office subsidiaries based in Ireland.

Ireland’s government has stated it “fundamentally disagrees” with the EU’s analysis of the tax situation, leading to its appeal. For Apple, the company said that the EU made “fundamental errors” in the calculations related to the taxes it owes, arguing that the bulk of the profits during this period are due in the United States. Apple CEO Tim Cook put it more succinctly after the first ruling came out, calling the tax avoidance claims “total political crap.”

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: wsj.com, Ireland
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