Category: Sci-Tech

YouTube launches subscription fees

10 May, Cape Town: YouTube has launched a trial scheme for paid channels on its website. The BBC reported that under the pilot programme, a small number of content makers will offer the channels for subscriptions starting at $0.99 a month. Each channel will offer a free 14-day trial and many will have discounted annual rates. Although the initial 53-channel line-up is fairly niche, one expert suggested the move might ultimately squeeze some smaller rivals out of the market. YouTube, which is owned by Google, said the launch was part of an effort to enable “content creators to earn...

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Electronic nose can detect fruit odours better then human

9 May, Washington: Swedish and Spanish engineers have created a system of sensors that detects fruit odours more effectively than the human sense of smell. For now, the device can distinguish between the odorous compounds emitted by pears and apples. Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV, Spain) and the University of Gavle (Sweden) have created an electronic nose with 32 sensors that can identify the odours given off by chopped pears and apples. “The fruit samples are placed in a pre-chamber into which an air flow is injected which reaches the tower with the sensors which are...

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SA companies ‘slow’ on IT security

9 May, Cape Town: South African companies are not on the same par as their European counterparts when it comes to the security of their computer systems, an expert has revealed. “It’s actually scary how quickly I can get the main administrator rights. For example, if you’ve got a five day engagement – 40 hours – if you have the main admin by Monday at 12:00, that’s quite scary, I think,” Philip Pieterse head of the ethical hacking division in South Africa for Spiderlabs, told News24. Spiderlabs is a division of Trustwave and the company conducts penetration testing of...

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3D-printed handgun ‘fires successfully’

7 May, A 3D-PRINTED handgun that is said to be a world first, which anyone can make, has reportedly been fired successfully. The 3D “Liberator” handgun, made up almost entirely of 3D-printed components, is a small pistol-like weapon that can shoot various types of handgun bullets through several interchangeable plastic barrels. Defense Distributed now claims to have successfully fired it. Forbes documented firing tests in Texas. Defense Distributed’s founder, Cody R. Wilson, fired the Liberator by hand himself. There was reportedly no damage to either Wilson or the gun itself, aside from a crack in a pin used to...

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YouTube set to launch pay channels: report

7 May, Los Angeles : YouTube is set to announce within a few weeks a series of channels that will require payment, a person familiar with the matter said Monday. The content on the new pay channels will be in addition to the millions of videos viewers watch for free on YouTube. It’s not clear whether the paid videos will come with advertising. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The Financial Times reported earlier that viewers would be charged as little as $1.99 a month for subscriptions. In a statement, YouTube said it is looking into creating a “subscription platform” that provides its partners with a way to generate revenue beyond video rentals and placing ads in and around content. It said, however, that it had “nothing to announce at this time.” Executives hinted at the coming pay channels at a preview event in March ahead of a meeting in New York with advertisers. Such a model could help video producers make money from niche audiences. That’s different from how YouTube works now, where the most popular videos, like PSY’s “Gangnam Style” music video, make the most money from advertising. One example given by executives was of video lessons by a computer science teacher. “For people who create great value but for only a narrow interest group, I think that the...

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Facebook to charge Aussies for messages?

FACEBOOK has extended an experiment with paid-for messaging in the UK, raising the possibility that Australian users could face similar charges to contact celebrities or strangers in the future. Facebook quietly began charging some UK users in late March, with fees of up to STG10 ($14.89) to send a private, high-priority message to popular celebrities like Olympic diver Tom Daley or rapper Snoop Lion. It’s part of a trial, first launched in the US in late 2012, which Facebook says should reduce spam. The prices have reportedly been set on a sliding scale, with lesser fees to send messages to minor celebrities and a flat rate of 71 pence ($1.05) to send messages to ordinary people who aren’t friends. At the moment, private messages sent between strangers on Facebook generally land in the recipients’ ‘other’ inbox – a folder some users are either unaware of or rarely check. But in the trial, a limited number of paid-for messages are being channelled directly to the recipient’s main inbox, making them more likely to be read. Contact between friends and close associates on the site remains free under the UK and US trials. A Facebook spokesman did not say if the fees will be trialled in Australia, where according to a November report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) there are 11.36 million users. “We are testing an option...

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Computers can ‘see’ people’s dreams

A computer can predict what you’re dreaming about based on brain wave activity, new research suggests. By measuring people’s brain activity during waking moments, researchers were able to pick out the signatures of specific dream imagery — such as keys or a bed — while the dreamer was asleep. “We know almost nothing about the function of dreaming,” said study co-author Masako Tamaki, a neuroscientist at Brown University. “Using this method, we might be able to know more about the function of dreaming.” The findings, which were published Thursday in the journal Science, could also help scientists understand what goes on in the brain when people have nightmares. Sleepy mystery Exactly why people dream is a mystery. Whereas the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud may have thought dreams were about wish fulfillment, others believe dreams are irrelevant byproducts of the sleep cycle. And yet another theory holds that dreams allow the mind to continue working on puzzles faced during the day. In general, most people believe their dreams have meaning. Scientists have dreamt of being able to look inside the brain’s sleepy wonderland. Past studies had suggested that people’s brain activity can be decoded to reveal what they are thinking about: For instance, scientists have decoded movie clips from brain waves. Dream reading So why not try to read dreams? Tamaki and her colleagues tracked brain activity using functional...

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2 in 10 children affected by hypertension: Study

Chennai: Hypertension isn’t an adult disease anymore. An increasing number of school students are being diagnosed with high blood pressure. A Chennai-based hospital found 17.4% of CBSE school students between eight and 17 years have high blood pressure. Doctors at the MV Hospital for Diabetes have been working on a ‘Slim and Fit’ programme to help students maintain good health and dietary practices. On the eve of the World Health Day, as doctors across the globe are focusing on the theme ‘high blood pressure,’ a survey of 1,898 students showed that incidence of hypertension was high among boys (18.7%) compared to girls (15.7%). “The study shows abnormal blood sugar levels among children mostly due to obesity. We had not seen such a trend earlier,” said diabetologist Dr Vijay Vishwanathan, who heads MV Hospital for Diabetes. Unlike tests done for adults, for children, blood pressure was not measured with BP apparatus. Children have hypertension if their blood pressure is above the normal average of children who are of the same sex, age and height. In the MV hospital study done in 10 CBSE schools, doctors found 10% of children with pre-hypertension and 17.4% with hypertension. During the study the children were divided into three groups based on their age — 8 to 10 years, 11 to 13 years and 14 to 17 years. “We saw an increase in prevalence of...

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Facebook launches new ‘Home’ for Android users

Washington: Social networking giant Facebook has unveiled a new software on Android gadgets with the aim of making its site the hub of people’s mobile experiences. Facebook introduced ‘Home’ that makes the social network the hub of any smartphone running Google’s Android operating system. The idea behind the software is to bring Facebook content right to the home screen, rather than requiring users to check apps. According to Fox News, “Home” comes amid rapid growth in the number of people who access Facebook from phones and tablet computers. The software will be available for download form April 12, the report said. It is the part of Facebook’s move to shift its users’ focus from “apps and tasks” to people, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg during Home’s unveiling on Thursday. After downloading the software, instead of seeing a set of apps for email, maps and other services on the screen, users will be greeted with photos and updates from their Facebook feeds....

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Mobile phone turns 40

Washington: The mobile phone turned 40 on Wednesday, with no fanfare to mark the occasion in a market which seemed focused on new smartphones like the iPhone and a possible Facebook-themed device. The first mobile call was placed in April 3, 1973 by Motorola engineer Martin Cooper, head of a team working on mobile communication technologies. Cooper made the call on Sixth Avenue in New York, before going into a press conference using a Motorola DynaTAC – a device that weighed one kilogram, (2.2 pounds) and had a battery life of 20 minutes, according to Motorola. Cooper told the technology website The Verge last year that he placed the first call to a rival, Joel Engler of Bell Labs. “To this day, he resents what Motorola did in those days,” Cooper said. “They thought that we were a gnat, an obstacle… we believed in competition and lots of players. And we also believed – our religion was portables, because people are mobile. And here they were trying to make a car telephone and a monopoly on top of that. So that battle was the reason that we built that phone.” Cooper and his team were honored earlier this year with the Draper Prize by the National Academy of Engineering for their work. In 40 years, the industry has come a long way. Research firm IDC predicts 900 million smartphones...

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