Daily Archives: December 29, 2016

Microsoft Patents Tech for Augmented Reality Devices to Track Real-World Objects

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Microsoft Patents Tech for Augmented Reality Devices to Track Real-World Objects



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Microsoft has applied for a patent on technology that would allow potential augmented reality devices to keep track of real-world objects in their vicinity.

Always losing the TV remote? Can’t remember where you put your wallet? In the future, Microsoft may have your back. Patent application 20160373570 would leverage an AR device’s object tracking functionality to make sure your keys don’t become lost between the cushions of your sofa, or even remind you that you’re out of ketchup. As described by Microsoft:

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The tracking of the location or other state of objects may occupy a significant amount of effort in everyday life. Further, much time may be spent in trying to locate misplaced objects. For example, searching for misplaced car keys, wallets, mobile devices, and the like may cause people to lose productive time. Likewise, forgetting that the milk carton in the home refrigerator is almost empty may lead to an extra trip to the store that could have been avoided had the shopper remembered the state of the milk carton. In some instances, such objects may be moved, emptied, etc., by a person other than the owner, thereby complicating the task of tracking.

Furthermore, such object tracking, if shared between devices, could make it much more difficult to lose things at all. If such devices become commonplace, your personal AR network might even be able to tell you when you’ve accidentally dropped your cell phone at the store, or whether you’ve forgotten to pack important items for a trip.

The move falls in line with Microsoft’s focus on “mixed reality,” backboned by their forthcoming Hololens device:

Mixed reality encompasses a wide range of experiences that previously were considered to be only augmented reality or only virtual reality. In mixed reality, people, places, and objects from your physical and virtual worlds merge together in a blended environment that becomes your canvas.

The possibilities of this technology are endless, but for now remain little more than big ideas. Only time will tell whether Microsoft can turn these dreams into (augmented) reality.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.

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December 30, 2016 at 02:03AM

Amazon Patents Giant Flying Warehouses for Drone Deliveries

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Amazon Patents Giant Flying Warehouses for Drone Deliveries



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In the latest example of science fiction turned reality, the online retailer is now seeking to patent giant floating warehouses, from which its army of delivery drones can deliver merchandise for local customers. Smaller airships would restock massive centralized vessels, and recover drones that had completed their assigned tasks.

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The images submitted with the patent show grand blimp-like airships, lumbering with enormous cargo bays through the skies. They would be scattered across countries, likely clustered around urban populations.

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Amazon’s vision certainly doesn’t lack grandeur. In the patent’s vision of the future, Amazon might fly one of these airships above a sporting event, loaded down with souvenirs and refreshments for immediate delivery to the spectators below. The drones would drop from the central ship, allowing gravity to bring them toward their destination before engaging their engines.

Tech analyst Zoe Leavitt was responsible for uncovering the patent, which was granted in April 2016. Since then, Amazon has made its first official drone delivery to a home in Cambridge. And while a patent is far from any sort of guarantee of success — or even viability — it’s clear that Amazon’s ambitions are nothing short of revolutionary.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.

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December 30, 2016 at 02:03AM

Sand trucks to secure Times Square on New Year's Eve

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill say the Big Apple is ready to protect the expected two million New Year’s Eve celebrants. (Dec. 29)
AP

NEW YORK — Dozens of sand trucks and “blocker” vehicles will be positioned around Times Square on New Year’s Eve to prevent terrorist truck attacks like the ones that killed nearly 100 people in Europe this year, New York City officials said Thursday.

Authorities say 65 20-ton Department of Sanitation trucks, weighted with an extra 15 tons of sand and another 100 New York Police Department vehicles will team with 7,000 officers to keep Times Square secure when an estimated 2 million people come to see the ball drop during the city’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration.

“People will be safe this New Year’s Eve because we’re there along with our law enforcement partners,” police Commissioner James O’Neill said at a press conference in Manhattan. “We’re going to have one of the most well-policed, best protected events at one of the safest events in the entire world.”

New York police are not aware of any threats directed at the New Year’s Eve celebration, O’Neill said.

“At this time, we have no direct concerns related to terrorism, to Times Square specifically or New Year’s Eve in general,” the commissioner said.

Eighty-six people were killed in July when a truck plowed its way through Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France. Another 12 were killed this month in a Christmas market truck attack in Berlin.

Those attending Saturday night’s celebration will be directed into 65 pens that hold 3,000 people each and stretch from Times Square to 59th Street.

They will go through a series of metal and radiation detectors. Umbrellas and large bags are banned as well as alcohol.

“I’m not quite sure why a million people want to stand in the freezing cold for long, long periods of time but they do,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “And we’ll be ready for them.”

Metro-North will be running extra Manhattan-bound trains on its lines in the early afternoon and early evening. They will also run extra overnight trains for after the New Year’s Eve celebrations are over.

Helicopters will monitor the scene from overhead. Explosive-detecting dogs will fan out across Times Square and throughout the city’s subways and undercover officers will monitor suspicious activity.

“They’ll be mixing in, blending in with the crowds here in Times Square,” said Chief of Department Carlos Gomez, the New York Police Department’s highest ranking uniformed position.

City officials recently completed a $55 million renovation of Times Square, which includes widened sidewalks and new benches. As in past years, officials have removed trash bins and mailboxes, sealed manhole covers and done sweeps of parking garages and hotels in preparation for the New Year’s Eve festivities.

Police here have used trucks as blocker vehicles before, though never on this scale. The sand-filled trucks were deployed in November at the Thanksgiving Day parade and on Election Day, when they were posted outside Donald Trump’s Trump Tower, at two Manhattan hotels and at a convention center Hillary Clinton’s campaign used.

Investigators also are reviewing the records of truck rental companies, said James Waters, chief of the department’s counterterrorism bureau.

Officers additionally will provide security at a fireworks celebration in Coney Island and a midnight road race in Central Park. O’Neill said NYPD officers trained for large-scale events like New Year’s Eve throughout the year and will be ready.

“This is something that we do every day,” O’Neill said. “This is where everybody has got to be on their toes. I know complacency can set in at times but certainly not at an event like this. Everybody knows how important this is.”

In preventing a terrorist attack, O’Neill had few guarantees..

“Can we ensure that nothing will ever happen?” he said. “It’s an open city. It’s an open society. … If you’re coming down to Times Square, rest assured that it will be a safe venue.”

It is not clear if president-elect Donald Trump will make an appearance, O’Neill said.

“I don’t think he’s coming, but that might change, I guess,” O’Neill said. Trump Tower is less than a mile away from Times Square.

The large trucks aren’t the only offering from the Sanitation Department, said Kathryn Garcia, the sanitation commissioner. About 280 employees will be on hand to clean up 40 to 50 tons of debris after the ball drops following the 60-second countdown to 2017.

Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Thomas C. Zambito on Twitter: @TomZambito

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December 30, 2016 at 02:01AM

OBAMA EXPELS 35 RUSSIANS, SHUTS 2 FACILITIES, VOWS MORE RETALIATION FOR RUSSIAN ‘OPERATIONS AIMED AT U.S. ELECTION’

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[12/29/16]  President Barack Obama announced today that he was expelling from the United States 35 Russian officials (whom he described as “intelligence operatives”), effectively shut two Russian facilities in the United States and vowed that, in addition, he will be taking “a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized.”

“Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election,” Obama said in a written statement.

“In October,” Obama said, “my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.  These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year.  Such activities have consequences.”

“The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring ‘persona non grata’ 35 Russian intelligence operatives,” Obama said.

Obama, who will leave office on January 20, went on to say that he would take additional actions—some of them secret—and described Russia’s actions as an effort to “interfere with democratic governance.”

In November, Republican candidate Donald Trump defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential election. Clinton had previously served as Obama’s secretary of state.

“These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities,” Obama said. “We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized. In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance.”

The State Department also issued a statement describing the administration’s actions against Russia.

“The State Department today declared persona non grata 35 Russian officials operating in the United States who were acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic or consular status,” said the statement by Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner. “The department also informed the Russian Government that it would deny Russian personnel access to two recreational compounds in the United States owned by the Russian Government.”

“The Department took these actions as part of a comprehensive response to Russia’s interference in the U.S. election and to a pattern of harassment of our diplomats overseas that has increased over the last four years, including a significant increase in the last 12 months,” said Toner.

“This harassment has involved arbitrary police stops, physical assault, and the broadcast on State TV of personal details about our personnel that put them at risk,” said Toner.

“In addition,” said Toner, “the Russian Government has impeded our diplomatic operations by, among other actions: forcing the closure of 28 American corners which hosted cultural programs and English-language teaching; blocking our efforts to begin the construction of a new, safer facility for our Consulate General in St. Petersburg; and rejecting requests to improve perimeter security at the current, outdated facility in St. Petersburg.”

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December 30, 2016 at 01:57AM

Obama Administration Issues Sanctions Against Russia, Removes 35 Diplomats

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By Derrick Broze

On Thursday the Obama Administration announced a new executive order involving Russia, including new cyber security measures and the removal of 35 Russian diplomats. 

In the latest drama between the United States and Russia, President Barack Obama has announced an amendment to a previous executive order designed to target foreign entities who attempt to interfere with the U.S. elections. Obama also ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, sanctions against Russian intelligence officials, and the closing of two Russian intelligence facilities in New York and Maryland.

In response to alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Convention, Obama approved an amendment to Executive Order 13964. Originally issued in April 2015, the executive order created a new authority responsible with helping the U.S. deal with significant cyber threats. However, the new changes ordered by Obama authorize the U.S. government to sanction those who attempt to interfere with the U.S. elections.

“Russia’s recent activities has made clear that a tool explicitly targeting attempts to interfere with elections is also warranted,” reads the White House statement.

In the same statement, The White House discusses harassment of U.S. diplomats in Russia. The Obama Administration accuses Russian security and police of significantly increasing the harassment of diplomatic personnel. In response to the apparent abuse, Obama issued an order calling for the expulsion of 35 Russian officials.

Today the State Department declared 35 Russian government officials from the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Russian Consulate in San Francisco “persona non grata.”  They were acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status. Those individuals and their families were given 72 hours to leave the United States.

Russian officials will also be denied access to two compounds in Maryland and New York beginning at noon on Friday, according to Reuters. The Russian foreign ministry told Reuters the sanctions were “counter-productive.”

Although the U.S. claims the removal of 35 Russian diplomats is unrelated to the hacking accusations, the timing seems to indicate that the actions are simply another facet of the U.S. and Russian proxy war. On Thursday Obama also sanctioned two Russian intelligence agencies, the GRU and the FSB, as well as four GRU officers and three companies suspected of providing support the intelligence agencies. A new report released on the same day as Obama’s sanctions accuses the Russian agencies of involvement with the hacking of the DNC.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a Joint Analysis Report (JAR) detailing Russian civilian and military intelligence hacking.  The joint report attempts to strengthen claims against the Russian government regarding the hacking of the DNC, and attempted manipulation of the U.S. election.

“This activity by Russian intelligence services is part of a decade-long campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. Government and its citizens,” a statement reads. “These cyber operations have included spearphishing, campaigns targeting government organizations, critical infrastructure, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations; theft of information from these organizations; and the recent public release of some of this stolen information.”

The 13-page report looks at the tools used by Russian intelligence services for compromising and exploiting the election. According to the report, the Russian hacking campaign is known as “Grizzly Steppe” involving the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the group known as APT29. The GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, and a second group known as APT28 are accused of leaking the now infamous Podesta emails.

The DHS and FBI report falls in line with previous reports from government agencies and private institutions which claim that Russia is behind the cybersecurity breach. One of these reports came on June 14 from cybersecurity company Crowdstrike after they were hired by the DNC to identify the culprits responsible for the hacking. Still, WikiLeaks poked fun at the new report, claiming that it was lacking in evidence.

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Despite apparently strong evidence tying Russia to the hacking of the DNC or directly influencing the election, U.S. agencies and private contractors continue to expect the American public to accept their claims without hard evidence. When the political leaders and media pundits are pushing for conflict with a fearless nuclear-capable State it is wise to proceed with caution until proof of hacking has clearly been established. Until we see the evidence, the American public is being asked to trust the same establishment which lies on a regular basis. Remain skeptical, friends.

Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2

Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact Derrick@activistpost.com

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December 30, 2016 at 01:57AM

Retrial date set in Walter Scott shooting

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Retrial date set in Walter Scott shooting

The jury in the trial of former police officer Michael Slager couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict.
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CHARLESTON, S.C. — A judge has set the retrial date for Michael Slager, the former South Carolina police officer charged with shooting and killing Walter Scott last year.

The new trial date is set for March 1, 2017.

In early December, a judge declared a mistrial when jurors were unable to reach a verdict on Slager’s guilt. Jurors had the option to convict on either murder or voluntary manslaughter charges.

That jury spent nearly 20 hours over four days deliberating. The judge in the case said it was the longest deliberation he’d seen in his career.

Back on April 4, 2015, Slager, then a North Charleston police officer, pulled 50-year-old Walter Scott over for a failed brake light. Minutes later, Slager pulled out his service weapon and shot Scott, who was running away from him at the time, five times.

Slager’s defense team argued during the trial that he feared for his life when he killed Scott.

His trial lasted five weeks and featured testimony by the man who filmed the incident on his cellphone, in addition to DNA experts and the defendant.

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December 30, 2016 at 01:53AM