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February 27, 2015
Researchers at Google's DeepMind subsidiary in England have developed an artificial agent they call a "deep Q-network" that learned to play 49 classic Atari 2600 arcade games by just diving in. The DQN algorithm performed at more than 75 percent of the level of a professional player in more than half the games, and came up with far-sighted strategies that let it achieve the maximum attainable scores in certain games, such as Breakout. IT outperformed previous machine learning methods in 43 of the games. [More...]

February 26, 2015
Healthcare providers have garnered growing interest from hackers in recent months. More evidence of that trend appeared last week in a report on email trust. An email that appeared to come from a healthcare company was four times more likely to be fraudulent than an email purportedly from a social media company like Facebook, one of the largest creators of email on the Internet, Agari found. [More...]

February 26, 2015
If you favor the OS X environment, Pearl OS might be a Linux distro to feed your fancy. Pearl OS is a revival of the discontinued Pear OS distro. It picks up where Pear left off in early 2014. Pearl OS has two desktop versions: XFCE and MATE. Both are based on Ubuntu Linux distro version 14.04 Mini release. The two flavors of Pearl OS are customized to look and act like the OS X operating system. [More...]

February 25, 2015
volvo-drive-me-autonomous-self-driving-cars-vehicles
Volvo last week revealed the latest developments in its Drive Me project, showing off a complete system that could make it possible to integrate self-driving cars into regular traffic with drivers behind the wheel. Volvo is making progress toward its goal of releasing 100 self-driving vehicles to consumers on selected roads around Gothenburg -- Sweden's second largest city -- by 2017. [More...]

February 25, 2015
Valve on Monday announced that it's getting into the virtual reality hardware business. In a terse tease posted to the Web, the company trumpeted its intentions to reveal its SteamVR hardware system next week at the 2015 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Valve also announced that it is looking for developers and publishers to create content for its new VR hardware system. [More...]

February 25, 2015
Google will place a privacy curtain around sexually explicit images and video on its Blogger platform if users fail to remove the content of their own volition by March 23. The measure falls short of outright censoring the content or terminating users. However, it does restrict access to the owner or admins of the blog and the people with whom the owner has shared it. [More...]

February 25, 2015
A battle is brewing over control of the Internet of Things marketplace. Consumers see only convenience and extensions to their always-on mobile devices. Product makers see a pathway to streaming data that can be monetized from buyers' connections. Will history repeat itself, as open source begins to take on the current, yet unsustainable, walled-garden core of the IoT? [More...]

February 24, 2015
pebble-time-smartwatch-kickstarter
The money is pouring into Pebble's Kickstarter campaign for its new smartwatch, Pebble Time. Within hours, upwards of 26,000 supporters had pledged more than $5.3 million. The project's goal was to raise a mere $500,000. The strength of the response highlights the enthusiastic fan base Pebble has built. "Pebble Time appears to be yet another blockbuster," said tech analyst Ryan Martin. [More...]

February 24, 2015
apple watch
There has been a lot of discussion lately of where and how Apple will sell the Apple Watch -- through high-end luxury department stores in Paris, for example, or through special new displays inside of Apple Stores, guided into existence by fashion genius Angela Ahrendts. Finding new ways to present the watch is important, but how will Apple actually trigger a buy decision? [More...]

February 24, 2015
Citizenfour, a film documenting interviews director Laura Poitras conducted with whistle-blower Edward Snowden, won the Oscar for best documentary Sunday. The talks took place as Snowden blew the lid off the United States National Security Agency's surveillance activities. The award highlights the divisions in the U.S. over Snowden's actions and the question of national security. [More...]

February 23, 2015
The United States' National Security Agency and British spy agency GCHQ have hacked into the internal computer network of Gemalto, the world's largest maker of SIM cards, and stolen the cards' encryption keys, according to information in files leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Gemalto makes about 2 billion SIM cards a year, and sells them to 450 major wireless network carriers worldwide. [More...]

February 23, 2015
We've seen a lot of speculation this week on the Apple car -- everything from Apple building its own car from scratch to its buying or merging with Tesla. Like many, I think the best path would be an Apple/Tesla combination, but since I doubt Tim would want to work for Musk or Musk for Tim, the only real option would be an office of the CEO for both firms. [More...]

February 21, 2015
tago-arc-e-ink-bracelet-l!ber8
L!ber8's Tago Arc is aimed at the fashion conscious or those who like to use their jewelry to tell the world a little more about themselves. It has an e-ink screen, which is controlled using an NFC-enabled smartphone -- sorry, iPhone owners -- to let wearers switch up the design on the fly. Ordinary users can purchase a variety of looks, while budding Stella McCartneys can create their own. [More...]

February 20, 2015
Google is fighting a proposed amendment to Rule 41 of the U.S. Criminal Code that might allow authorities to hack into computers abroad. The amendment seeks to empower a magistrate in a district where activities related to a crime may have occurred to issue a warrant for remote search of computers, as well as seizure or copying of their files, under certain circumstances. [More...]

February 20, 2015
classic-video-games
Unlike movies and music, video games aren't systematically archived and preserved. However, many older games, even from the DOS era, can be played via DOSBox, a free open source software emulator. It makes many older DOS games somewhat accessible to a new generation of gamers. It was even used to update the original Wolfenstein 3D and Commander Keen for release on Steam. [More...]

February 19, 2015
lenovo-superfish-adware
Lenovo has come under fire for preinstalling spyware on some of its laptops. The software, Superfish, uses the same techniques cybercriminals often employ to crack encrypted traffic. "Superfish is purposely designed to bypass the security of HTTPS websites in a manner that would allow malware and attackers to also bypass the security provided by HTTPS," said Bluebox cofounder Adam Ely. [More...]

February 19, 2015
microsoft-azure-machine-learning
Microsoft wants to bring big data to the mainstream, and its new Azure Machine Learning tools will play a major role in that effort. "We've learned how to generate and store data -- but so far, automation hasn't been able to turn that into information, which is data in context," said tech analyst Mike Jude. "That's why you need cognitive computing, machine learning and heuristics." [More...]

February 18, 2015
apple awarded patent
Apple has been awarded a patent for a virtual reality headset that can use an iPhone or iPod as a display. Patent number 8,957,835 was awarded by the USPTO to Apple for a "head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display." The abstract describes a device similar to the Gear VR, which weds a Samsung Note smartphone to a headpiece designed by Oculus. [More...]

February 18, 2015
Korora, a Linux distro based on Fedora, the community version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, just keeps getting better. When I reviewed Korora 19, released in July 2013, I said it had the potential to grow in popularity among users looking for a better, more user-friendly Linux distro that reaches beyond Fedora's enterprise appeal. Korora 21 provides even more assurance of that statement's accuracy. [More...]

February 18, 2015
Welcome to a new edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, your weekly guide to the best and worst of gadgets that have just rolled off the production line for the first time or have the proverbial ink still drying on their press releases. On our conveyor belt this week are a gas-powered portable charger, a clever key fob, a flash drive for secret keepers and a pocket ghost detector. [More...]

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