Blogs Directory Amazing tech news: May 2019

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Additional funding for NASA's Moon mission reportedly rejected

NASA announced plans to return astronauts to the Moon within five years after Vice President Mike Pence said in March that the nation's 2028 lunar touchdown plan was "just not good enough".
Budget, Moon mission, NASA, NASA's Moon mission, space exploration, Technology, Trump, USA

NASA advanced its target of returning humans to the Moon by four years, but a request for $1.6 billion funding in addition to the proposed $21 billion for the agency over the 2020 fiscal year has been rejected, the media reported.
The White House made the request for additional funding on May 14.

But according to a report on Quartz on Wednesday, the House Committee on Appropriations, which controls the government's purse, left that additional request out of NASA's spending plan.
NASA announced plans to return astronauts to the Moon within five years after Vice President Mike Pence said in March that the nation's 2028 lunar touchdown plan was "just not good enough".

However, the US space agency will need a lot more cash to achieve its new target.
The White House had proposed that the additional funding comes from unused cash from an aid programme, the Pell Grants Programme, designed to help low-income students get to college, but the chair of the committee, Nita Lowey called it an "unconscionable proposal," according to Quartz.
The Committee on Wednesday revealed the funding bill was approved and NASA would be funded to the tune of $22.32 billion, but that additional cash will not be funnelled into lunar lander development and instead go into other NASA programmes unrelated to the Moon mission, CNET reported.

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Friday, 24 May 2019

Submit your name to NASA to fly aboard Mars 2020 rover

Although  it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, NASA is inviting the public to submit their names to fly to the Red Planet aboard the US space agency's Mars 2020 rover.
Mars, NASA, NASA mars mission, planet mars

The names -- stenciled on chips -- will be sent on the rover, which represents the initial leg of humanity's first round trip to another planet, NASA said in a statement.
The rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021, it said.
The rover, a robotic scientist weighing more than 1,000 kilogramme, will search for signs of past microbial life, characterise the planet's climate and geology, collect samples for a future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.
"As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD).
"It's an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighbouring planet, and even the origins of life itself," Zurbuchen said.

The opportunity to send your name to Mars comes with a souvenir boarding pass and "frequent flyer" points, NASA said.
This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA's journey from the Moon to Mars, it said.
Kilometers are awarded for each "flight," with corresponding digital mission patches available for download.
More than two million names flew on NASA's InSight mission to Mars, giving each "flyer" about nearly 500 million frequent flyer kilometers.
The Microdevices Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, will use an electron beam to stencil the submitted names onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair.
At that size, more than a million names can be written on a single dime-size chip. The chips will ride on the rover under a glass cover.

NASA will use Mars 2020 and other missions to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
As another step towards that goal, NASA is returning American astronauts to the Moon in 2024.

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Monday, 20 May 2019

Chinese shout 'Boycott Apple' as US goes after Huawei

As the Washington-Beijing trade war intensifies along with fresh restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei in the US, there has been a significant rise in "Boycott Apple" movement in China.
Apple, Huawei, mobilephone, Smartphone, tariff war, Trump, US-China trade war, Washington-Beijing trade war

According to BuzzFeed News, there has been a flurry of anti-Apple and anti-Trump messages on Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
"I feel guilty watching the trade war. Once I have money I will change my smartphone (iPhone)," one user posted on Weibo.
"I think Huawei's branding is amazing, it chops an apple into eight pieces," read another post.

China has urged the US to stop "harassing overseas companies" and slammed US President Donald Trump's decision to sign a national emergency order that prohibits American firms from using foreign-made equipment, citing espionage fears.

The US move, which effectively takes aim at Chinese telecom giant Huawei, comes as the two economic superpowers are locked in a bitter unending trade war.
Chinese telecom giant Huawei has said that it is still open to addressing US security concerns.
"The functions in Huawei are comparable to Apple iPhones or even better. We have such a good smartphone alternative, why are we still using Apple?" said one user on Weibo.
This isn't the first time that the "Boycott Apple" movement has gained traction in China.
Chinese companies in December last year rallied behind the tech giant, offering hefty discounts to employees to buy Huawei devices and shun iPhones.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, the move came after the detention of Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of American prosecutors.
Over 20 Chinese companies also took to social media to announce that they will increase purchases of other Huawei products.
A Chinese court in December banned the sale and import of most iPhone models after granting Qualcomm an injunction against Apple.
To avoid the ban, Apple released a small update to iOS, saying that iOS version 12.1.2 contains software changes exclusive to China.

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People trust machines more than humans for sharing data

What Amazon Alexa knows about you and what you can do about it

Monday, 13 May 2019

People trust machines more than humans for sharing data

People tend to trust machines more than humans when it comes to sharing private information and access to their financial data, an Indian-origin researcher has stressed.
AI, Artificial Intelligence, data, data sharing, human, machine, Research,

People who trusted machines were significantly more likely to hand over their credit card numbers to a computerised travel agent than a human travel agent, said S Shyam Sundar, Co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory and an affiliate of Penn State's Institute for CyberScience (ICS).

"A bias that those machines are more trustworthy and secure than people -- or the machine heuristic -- may be behind the effect," Sundar added.

The faith in machines may be triggered because people believe that machines do not gossip, or have unlawful designs on their private information.
However, said Sundar, while machines might not have ulterior motives for their information, the people developing and running those computers could prey on this gullibility to extract personal information from unsuspecting users, for example, through phishing scams.

"This study should serve as a warning for people to be aware of how they interact online. People should be aware that they may have a blind belief in machine superiority. They should watch themselves when they engage online with robotic interfaces," Sundar noted.
For the study, the researchers recruited 160 participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online crowdsourcing website frequently used in studies.

The participants were asked to use either a human or a machine chat agent to find and purchase a plane ticket online.
After the agent returned the flight information, it prompted the participants for their credit card information.
The presence of a machine agent on the interface served as a cue for triggering the ingrained belief that machines are superior.

People with a high degree of trust in machines only need subtle design indications that they are interacting with a machine.
"In all of this, one thing I would like to stress is that the designers have to be ethical. They should not unethically try to extract information from unsuspecting consumers," Sundar stressed.

The findings were shared during the "ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems" held in Glasgow from May 4-9.

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Monday, 6 May 2019

No crime in Huawei 5G leak, says British police

The top-secret leak that Britain had conditionally allowed China's Huawei to develop its 5G network, which brought down the defence minister, does not amount to a criminal offence, police concluded Saturday.
Britain, british police, Huawei, Huawei 5G leak, Prime Minister Theresa May, sacking of Gavin Williamson, UK,

Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday sacked Gavin Williamson as defence secretary over the leak last month of the bitterly-disputed decision made at the April 23 meeting of the National Security Council.
NSC discussions are only attended by senior ministers and security officials who first sign the Official Secrets Act that commits them to keep conversations private or risk prosecution.

Some senior opposition figures have called for a police investigation.
But in a statement on Saturday, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of Specialist Operations at London's Metropolitan Police, said a probe would be inappropriate.

"I am satisfied that what was disclosed did not contain information that would breach the Official Secrets Act," said Basu, whose section is responsible for investigating alleged criminal breaches of the act.
"I am satisfied that the disclosure did not amount to a criminal offence, either under the Official Secrets Act or misconduct in a public office. No crime has been committed and this is not a matter for the police.

"The leak did not cause damage to the public interest at a level at which it would be necessary to engage misconduct in a public office.
"It would be inappropriate to carry out a police investigation in these circumstances."

Williamson has strenuously denied he was the source of the leak, which appeared in The Daily Telegraph newspaper and suggested May had cleared Huawei to be involved in "non-core" elements of the 5G network, such as antennae.
Williamson told Saturday's Daily Mail newspaper: "I have been royally screwed over. It is pretty painful. The only thing I want to do now is clear my name."
Newspapers speculated Saturday that Williamson, a sharp operator, was plotting his revenge on May.
The 42-year-old was a trusted ally of the prime minister.
He was May's parliamentary campaign manager when she successfully ran to become Conservative Party leader in 2016.
Williamson was duly rewarded with the job of the chief whip -- tasked with enforcing discipline for the Conservatives in parliament and wielding power over misbehavers.

The Times quoted one ally as saying: "Gavin knows where the bodies are buried -- because he buried them himself." He was replaced as defence secretary by Penny Mordaunt.
The United States is adamantly opposed to Chinese tech giant Huawei's involvement in developing Britain's 5G network due to the firm's obligation under Chinese law to help its home government gather intelligence or provide other security services when required.
David Lidington, May's effective deputy, said Thursday there were no plans to pass information from an internal leak inquiry to the police, saying the prime minister regarded the matter as closed.
Basu said that unless a crime was alleged there was nothing for the police to investigate and his unit had not been provided with any evidence of an alleged crime.

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What Amazon Alexa knows about you and what you can do about it

Google to let you auto-delete location tracking data

Saturday, 4 May 2019

What Amazon Alexa knows about you and what you can do about it

Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant, has been enjoying growth on steroids. The Amazon Echo is expected to capture 63.3 percent of smart speaker users in 2019, according to research firm eMarketer. In India too, the product is hugely popular.
alexa,amazon,amazon echo,unwind

But what are the implications of being an Alexa customer? For starters, Alexa knows a lot about you because of all the things you ask it.

Amazon has long said that Alexa only starts recording when the command 'Alexa' is given. Of course, there have been multiple instances where Alexa gets activated accidentally and collects your audio.

Here is what you can do to ensure that Alexa cannot collect your audio.
You can delete your browsing history and turn off the collection of browsing data.

To do this:
First, go to your browsing history.
Then, click remove next to each item you'd like to remove. To remove all items, click remove all items.
According to Amazon, you can also turn off your browsing history in Your Browsing History. Here, click turn off browsing history. Your browser must be cookie-enabled for this to work properly. Clearing your browser cookies will re-enable your browsing history if you've turned it off.

If you'd like to re-enable your browsing history for your browser, return to this page and click turn on browsing history.

You also have the option of muting Alexa and deleting recordings. The Alexa-powered Echo devices have a microphone-off button that can be pressed to ensure no recording takes place. When the microphones are turned off, your device cannot record and stream audio to the cloud, according to Amazon.


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Google to let you auto-delete location tracking data

Dead to outnumber the living on Facebook in 50 years

Friday, 3 May 2019

Google to let you auto-delete location tracking data

In yet another bid to address privacy concerns, Google is rolling out a key feature that will allow people to automatically delete their Location History, Web and App Activity data.
Google, Google Location History, Google Web, Technology

Last year, Google courted controversy when an Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store users' location data even if the users explicitly used privacy settings to turn it off.
In a blog post, Google said it is introducing auto-delete controls for users' Location History and Web and App Activity data.
"Choose a time limit for how long you want your activity data to be saved a" three or 18 months a" and any data older than that will be automatically deleted from your account on an ongoing basis," announced David Monsees, Product Manager, Google Search.
These controls are coming first to Location History, Web and App Activity and will roll out in the coming weeks.
"You should always be able to manage your data in a way that works best for you," added Marlo McGriff, Product Manager, Google Maps.
The company argued that when users turn on settings like Location History or Web and App Activity, the data can make Google products more useful for them a" like recommending a restaurant or helping pick up where they left off on a previous search.
"We work to keep your data private and secure, and we've heard your feedback that we need to provide simpler ways for you to manage or delete it," said Google.
You can already use your Google Account to access simple on/off controls for Location History and Web and App Activity, and if you choose -- to delete all or part of that data manually.
According to the tech giant, Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete or turn it off at any time.

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Huawei pips Apple to be second largest smartphone seller

Dead to outnumber the living on Facebook in 50 years