June 23, 2019

Meet Scamp the Tramp, the messy-haired toothless canine just named the world’s Ugliest Dog

Last year’s runner up in the annual Ugliest Dog Contest held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, was a messy-haired good boy with no teeth named Scamp the Tramp. No one actually knows what kind of breed he is, and it was clear before he got rescued in Compton -- where he’d been founding wandering around licking fast food wrappers -- that he’d had a hard life up to that point. Over the weekend, though, Scamp went from being a tramp to a champ. More specifically, he was named the winner of this year’s Ugliest Dog contest, netting his owner Yvonne Morones a massive trophy and $1,500. Morones, who named Scamp in honor of a long-ago admonition from her grandmother, said she adopted Scamp from an animal shelter in Los Angeles. She still remembers riding in the car with him the day she brought him home. The first day she brought the scraggly little guy with clumpy hair and short legs into her life, Bob Marley’s song “One Love” was playing on the radio at one point while they drove. Scamp, bless his heart, was “bobbing his head,” Morones told The New York Times. The contest over the years has certainly drawn its share of critics, who argue that such events glamorize poor breeder practices in addition to just being -- well, a mean title. Supporters say none of those things are the case at all -- that, in fact, the event is also a lighthearted way to draw more attention to the need for rescues and the importance of shelters. Not that Scamp himself was hurting for more attention. He certainly deserved recognition of some kind and plenty of belly rubs, because he's a hard-working pup and busy with everything from working as a therapy dog to greeting the throngs of passengers making their way through Sonoma County's airport. He's also a much-loved addition to Morones' family, which also includes four Chihuahuas. Oh, and as for his name. Morones' grandmother had once warned her, back when she was a kid, not to talk to strangers and to be wary of the "tramps" out on the streets. Lucky for one particular scruffy tramp, she didn't always listen.
June 23, 2019

Everything new coming to Netflix this week, and everything leaving (week of June 23)

The single most exciting addition to the Netflix streaming service arrives this Wednesday. It's not a new season of a popular series or an original movie with a stellar cast. I'm talking about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and if you somehow missed it when it was in theaters last year, you should correct that as soon as possible. Spider-Verse is genuinely one of the best comic book movies ever made, animated or otherwise, and its arrival on Netflix is a welcome one. Once you're done watching that a few times, there are several other standouts as well, including Dope season 3, a couple of seasons of Scare Tactics, and an intriguing animes called 7SEEDS. Here is the complete list of the Netflix streaming arrivals and departures for the week of June 23rd, 2019:

Arrivals

Monday, June 24th

Tuesday, June 25th

  • Mike Epps: Only One Mike — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Wednesday, June 26th

  • The Golem
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • The Zookeeper

Thursday, June 27th

  • Answer for Heaven — NETFLIX ORIGINAL

Friday, June 28th

Saturday, June 29th

  • Scare Tactics: Seasons 4 & 5

Departures

Monday, June 24th

  • Disney’s Mulan 2
We’ll be back next week with another full slate of shows, movies, and specials coming and going from the streaming service. In the meantime, check out everything coming and going from Netflix in June.
June 23, 2019

After Math: The price of technological progress

San Francisco is on the cusp of banning e-cigarettes while a Florida town is now half a million dollars poorer following a ransomware attack. Google's building 20,000 new Silicon Valley homes (since California won't) and a new predictive hotel app ca...
June 23, 2019

Dash’s awesome compact air fryer is back down to $39.99 today

If you’ve been wanting an air fryer but you don’t want a big ugly box taking up all that space on your counter, we’ve got the perfect solution. The fan favorite Dash Compact Air Fryer is compact so it doesn’t take up much space, but it also has a sleek retro design that you’ll be happy to show off. It’s a terrific air fryer, and it’s on sale right now on Amazon in several different colors for only $39.99.

Here are the key details from the product page:

  • HEALTHIER FRIED FOOD: Dash Compact Air Fryer uses AirCrisp technology (instead of oil) to help reduce added fat by 70-80%, without sacrificing the flavor of your fried food (No more residual smell hours after you’ve eaten)
  • QUICK + EASY: Short on time? Simply load the 1.6 qt capacity fryer basket, set the temp, and set the timer. Your food comes out crispy, guaranteed, EVERY TIME. And in less time than it takes to pre-heat your oven, making it more energy efficient
  • SAFER: The auto-shut off function prevents overcooking, and the cool touch housing and handle makes it safer to use. It’s so simple, even your kids can use it! (bonus, the nonstick fryer basket is dishwasher safe for even easier cleanup!)
  • VERSATILE: This is the PERFECT appliance for picky eaters, large families, or those who have busy schedules. Appetizers to desserts, 1 dozen chicken wings, 1lb French fries, even baked goods, and all within minutes of setting the timer - it couldn’t be easier!
  • COMPACT + LIGHTWEIGHT: Half the weight of a standard fryer, the Dash Air Fryer is your MUST-HAVE for that first apartment, smaller kitchen, college dorm life, or camper/rv traveling. Plus, its sleek design and trendy color options will accent any kitchen space
  • INCLUDES: Recipe guide companion cookbook with 15+ recipes that go beyond fries. Available in Black, White, Red, and Aqua
June 23, 2019

Samsung’s deepfake technology is getting scary

Deepfake technology has been getting insanely good, with just the last few days and weeks chock-a-block with examples of everything from the Mona Lisa being animated to life and photos of dead celebrities and notables like Albert Einstein seeming to come to life with realistic speech and facial movements. The implications are particularly ominous for currently living celebrities and notable people, such as the deepfake video of Mark Zuckerberg that circulated recently, as well as this one of Kim Kardashian. Samsung researchers have been particularly adept at this, with the latest example being the partnership between Samsung's AI research center in the UK working with Imperial College London to create an AI that animates and syncs up an audio clip with facial movements derived from little more than a photograph of someone. All of the technical work that went into the process is explained here, but for a look at their work in action, behold. This is a clip that uses a grainy black-and-white photo of the dead Russian mystic and self-proclaimed monk Grigori Rasputin to add facial movements that make it look like he's singing Beyonce's song Halo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=19&v=9Ctm4rTdVTU All of that is done via the creation of what's called a generative adversarial network, or GAN for short. "The videos generated using this model do not only produce lip movements that are synchronized with the audio but also exhibit characteristic facial expressions such as blinks, brow raises, etc.," the researchers write in an academic paper about their work, available here. "Our improved model works on 'in-the-wild' unseen faces and is capable of capturing the emotion of the speaker and reflecting it in the facial expression. The Rasputin clip above isn't realistic at all, of course, but it gives you a sense of how developed this technology is becoming. For my money, this next one is among the more fascinating recent examples -- a real audio clip of Albert Einstein speaking, matched with the same kind of AI that produced the Rasputin video. Essentially, making history come to life via nothing more than a photo of the famed scientist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sDjNLvW2aA
June 23, 2019

This week in tech history: Nintendo’s N64 goes on sale in Japan

At Engadget, we spend every day looking at how technology will shape the future. But it's also important to look back at how far we've come. That's what This Week in Tech History does. Join us every weekend for a recap of historical tech news, annive...
July 25, 2018

This kind of brilliant no-contract wireless plan should be the future of prepaid plans

If you’re still on the fence between signing a new contract with your carrier or hopping on a prepaid plan, then you should absolutely check out this brilliant deal that lest you change monthly fees to better fit your usage and, most importantly, your budget. That’s right: you don’t have to agree to a fixed-rate 18-month or 24-month plan. Instead, you can choose your own tariff. Before you get too excited you should know the deal is only going to be valid in one European country. But other mobile operators should copy this approach as well. Many years ago when the UK subsidiaries of Orange and T-Mobile decided to merge, they came up with the most annoying carrier name known to mankind, Everything Everywhere (EE), but that’s not the point of this post. EE is the carrier in question, one of the most important mobile players in the UK. EE’s flexible plan that combines the best of both pay-as-you-go and pay-monthly worlds is called exactly what you expect, the Flex plan. Available right away in the region, the plan costs as little as  £10 per month, which nets you some 2GB of data, 1,000 minutes and unlimited texts for 30 days, and goes all the way up to  £30 per month, which ups the data to 20GB and the voice minutes to 3,000. Each additional gigabyte of data would cost you £7.50. Additional perks include free roaming in the EU, the rollover of unused data to the next month, with data probably being the main reason to switch between different tariffs, as well as 500MB of extra data for every three months that you don’t change your monthly fee. As the Mirror explains, you’ll have to tie a debit card to your plan, so that the carrier draws the monthly fee automatically, but you get to decide how much to pay from the EE mobile app. So what’s the catch? Well, being that humans are lazy, not having to worry about topping up the credit each month is great for consumers who prefer prepaid deals. Furthermore, there’s no contract so you can stop paying at any time. Even better, the Flex plans offer better perks than similar prepaid options, as long as you're willing to spend at least £10 for your mobile needs each month. Pricing for prepaid plans starts at £5. EE, meanwhile, gets a customer who happens to be a better asset than pre-paid clients, though still not as good as a real pay-monthly subscriber; or a guaranteed monthly revenue of at least £10.00.
July 25, 2018

This kind of brilliant no-contract wireless plan should be the future of prepaid plans

If you’re still on the fence between signing a new contract with your carrier or hopping on a prepaid plan, then you should absolutely check out this brilliant deal that lest you change monthly fees to better fit your usage and, most importantly, your budget. That’s right: you don’t have to agree to a fixed-rate 18-month or 24-month plan. Instead, you can choose your own tariff. Before you get too excited you should know the deal is only going to be valid in one European country. But other mobile operators should copy this approach as well. Many years ago when the UK subsidiaries of Orange and T-Mobile decided to merge, they came up with the most annoying carrier name known to mankind, Everything Everywhere (EE), but that’s not the point of this post. EE is the carrier in question, one of the most important mobile players in the UK. EE’s flexible plan that combines the best of both pay-as-you-go and pay-monthly worlds is called exactly what you expect, the Flex plan. Available right away in the region, the plan costs as little as  £10 per month, which nets you some 2GB of data, 1,000 minutes and unlimited texts for 30 days, and goes all the way up to  £30 per month, which ups the data to 20GB and the voice minutes to 3,000. Each additional gigabyte of data would cost you £7.50. Additional perks include free roaming in the EU, the rollover of unused data to the next month, with data probably being the main reason to switch between different tariffs, as well as 500MB of extra data for every three months that you don’t change your monthly fee. As the Mirror explains, you’ll have to tie a debit card to your plan, so that the carrier draws the monthly fee automatically, but you get to decide how much to pay from the EE mobile app. So what’s the catch? Well, being that humans are lazy, not having to worry about topping up the credit each month is great for consumers who prefer prepaid deals. Furthermore, there’s no contract so you can stop paying at any time. Even better, the Flex plans offer better perks than similar prepaid options, as long as you're willing to spend at least £10 for your mobile needs each month. Pricing for prepaid plans starts at £5. EE, meanwhile, gets a customer who happens to be a better asset than pre-paid clients, though still not as good as a real pay-monthly subscriber; or a guaranteed monthly revenue of at least £10.00.
July 25, 2018

Despite scandals, Facebook is still raking in cash and users

It's no secret that 2018 has been quite a rocky year for Facebook, after controversies over the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal and, most recently, its handling of fake news on the platform. But, despite these troubling issues, the company's...
July 25, 2018

Facebook’s Q2 earnings disappoint Wall Street because reality may be catching up with it

Hours after its stock hit a record high during trading, Facebook reported its earnings for the second quarter and came in below analyst estimates on metrics like revenue and daily active users. All of that suggests the flap over fake news and related scandals may finally be taking a toll on the social networking giant. Earnings per share came in at $1.74, almost in line with the Thomson Reuters consensus estimate of $1.72. Revenue fell a little short of the estimate -- $13.23 billion, compared to the Thomson Reuters estimate of $13.36 billion. Likewise, global daily active users during the quarter were 1.47 billion, short of the 1.49 billion estimate from StreetAccount and FactSet. The consensus among analysts polled by FactSet had been for revenue to hit $13.34 billion, which would be a 43 percent gain, and earnings per share of $1.71, up 30 percent. Facebook’s earnings beat in April showed that advertisers - and users, to an extent - weren't yet abandoning the company en masse in the wake of flaps like the Cambridge Analytica and InfoWars scandals. Developing..