What’s So Special About Human Screams? Ask a Screamologist

I scream, you scream, we all scream. For ice cream, sure, but also for fear, excitement, sexual pleasure, pain, anger, and—if online commenters are to be believed—memes 😱. Screaming is exhibited by many animals, but no species uses this extreme vocalization in as many different contexts as humans. Though we’re pretty good at recognizing a …

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Tesla issues battery software update after Hong Kong vehicle fire

Tesla has started pushing out a software update that will change battery charge and thermal management settings in Model S sedans and Model X SUVs following a fire in a parked vehicle in Hong Kong earlier this week.

The software update, which Tesla says is being done out of “an abundance of caution,” is supposed to “protect the battery and improve its longevity.” The over-the-air software update will not be made to Model 3 vehicles.

Tesla has not yet identified the cause of the fire or found any issues with the battery pack. But the company said it will act if it discovers a problem.

“The safety of our customers is our top priority, and if we do identify an issue, we will do whatever is necessary to address it,” Tesla said in a statement.

Here is the company’s statement in its entirety on the software update:

We currently have well over half a million vehicles on the road, which is more than double the number that we had at the beginning of last year, and Tesla’s team of [...]  read more

Finanziamento illecito ai partiti, indagati la forzista Lara Comi e il presidente di Confindustria Lombardia Bonometti

Indagati per finanziamento illecito ai partiti. Il presidente di Confindustria Lombardia, Marco Bonometti, per averlo elargito, la candidata di Forza Italia alle elezioni Europee, Lara Comi, per averlo ricevuto. Martedì il numero uno degli industriali lombardi era stato ascoltato dai pm che indagano nell’inchiesta della Dda sulle tangenti a Milano e Varese. Bonometti avrebbe effettuato un finanziamento illecito per 31 mila euro, con un meccanismo particolare: la cifra sarebbe stata riconosciuta in cambio di un testo di poche pagine che però risulta scaricabile anche sui siti di tesi di laurea online. La procura contesta una fattura da 31 mila euro, appunto, emessa nel gennaio 2019 da Omr holding alla società Premium consulting srl, tra i cui soci figura Lara Comi. Bonometti avrebbe finanziato due studi per l’espansione [...]  read more

China Telecom outage takes down Apple, Microsoft and AWS for 7 hours

China Telecom recently experienced a significant outage that lasted nearly eight hours and affected many Western sites and services such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Slack, SAP and others.

The network monitoring company ThousandEyes first discovered the outage when its global vantage points began to detect substantial packet loss across China Telecom’s backbone for internet traffic both entering and exiting China.

The packet loss continued sporadically over several hours and primarily impacted network infrastructure in mainland china but China Telecom’s network in Singapore and in multiple points in the US including Los Angeles.

At its peak, ThousandEyes detected over 100 services that were disrupted as a result of network conditions in China Telecom’s global backbone.

The outage has now been resolved but it serves as an example of how well connected China is to external sites and services when it comes to serving commercial interests.

China’s internet service providers [...]  read more

Google Will Replace Titan Security Key Over a Bluetooth Flaw

As part of its expanded anti-phishing and account security measures, Google offers extensive support for physical authentication tokens. In a surprising setback, though, the company announced today that it has discovered a vulnerability in the Bluetooth version of its own Titan Security Key—which pairs to devices through the wireless Bluetooth Low Energy protocol, rather than through NFC or physical insertion into a port.

Google began selling the Titan-branded keys last August, outsourcing the hardware from Chinese manufacturer Feitian while managing the cryptographic keys itself. Anyone can use the dongles with their Google accounts for an extra layer of protection, but they’re especially favored by users at particular risk of having their accounts targeted by attackers, like public figures, human rights activists, and political dissidents. Google specifically recommends the BLE [...]  read more

Google’s Translatotron converts one spoken language to another, no text involved

Every day we creep a little closer to Douglas Adams’ famous and prescient babel fish. A new research project from Google takes spoken sentences in one language and outputs spoken words in another — but unlike most translation techniques, it uses no intermediate text, working solely with the audio. This makes it quick, but more importantly lets it more easily reflect the cadence and tone of the speaker’s voice.

Translatotron, as the project is called, is the culmination of several years of related work, though it’s still very much an experiment. Google’s researchers, and others, have been looking into the possibility of direct speech-to-speech translation for years, but only recently have those efforts borne fruit worth harvesting.

Translating speech is usually done by breaking down the problem into smaller sequential ones: turning the source speech into text (speech-to-text, or STT), turning text in one language into text in another (machine translation), and then turning the [...]  read more