Tiny FPGA Board Fits in Your Laptop

See the original posting on Hackaday

There are a bunch of FPGA development boards to choose from, but how many will fit inside your laptop? The PicoEVB is a tiny board that connects to a M.2 slot and provides an evaluation platform for the Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA family.

This minimalist board sports a few LEDs, a PCIe interface, an integrated debugger, on-board EEPROM, and some external connectors for hooking up other bits and pieces. The M.2 connector provides the board with power, USB for debugging, and PCIe for user applications.

A major selling point of this board is the PCIe interface. Most FPGA boards with PCIe …read more

Distorted Text Says A Lot

See the original posting on Hackaday

Getting bounced to a website by scanning a QR code is no longer an exciting feat of technology, but what if you scanned the ingredient list on your granola bar and it went to the company’s page for that specific flavor, sans the matrix code?

Bright minds at the Columbia University in the City of New York have “perturbed” ordinary font characters so the average human eye won’t pick up the changes. Even ordinary OCR won’t miss a beat when it looks at a passage with a hidden message. After all, these “perturbed” glyphs are like a perfectly legible character …read more

DeepMind Used YouTube Videos To Train Game-Beating Atari Bot

See the original posting on Slashdot

Artem Tashkinov shares a report from The Register: DeepMind has taught artificially intelligent programs to play classic Atari computer games by making them watch YouTube videos. Exploration games like 1984’s Montezuma’s Revenge are particularly difficult for AI to crack, because it’s not obvious where you should go, which items you need and in which order, and where you should use them. That makes defining rewards difficult without spelling out exactly how to play the thing, and thus defeating the point of the exercise. For example, Montezuma’s Revenge requires the agent to direct a cowboy-hat-wearing character, known as Panama Joe, through a series of rooms and scenarios to reach a treasure chamber in a temple, where all the goodies are hidden. Pocketing a golden key, your first crucial item, takes about 100 steps, and is equivalent to 100^18 possible action sequences.

To educate their code, the researchers chose three YouTube gameplay videos for each of the three titles: Montezuma’s Revenge, Pitfall, and Private Eye. Each game had its own agent, which had to map the actions and features of the title into a form it could understand. The team used two methods: temporal distance classification (TDC), and cross-modal temporal distance classification (CDC). The DeepMind code still relies on lots of small rewards, of a kind, although they are referred to as checkpoints. While playing the game, every sixteenth video frame of the agent’s session is taken as a snapshot and compared to a frame in a fourth video of a human playing the same game. If the agent’s game frame is close or matches the one in the human’s video, it is rewarded. Over time, it imitates the way the game is played in the videos by carrying out a similar sequence of moves to match the checkpoint frame. In the end, the agent was able to exceed average human players and other RL algorithms: Rainbow, ApeX, and DQfD. The researchers documented their method in a paper this week. You can view the agent in action here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey teased ahead of E3

See the original posting on The Verge

Ubisoft has confirmed rumors that its next installment in the action stealth series Assassin’s Creed is called Odyssey and is very likely set in ancient Greece. The developer’s official Assassin’s Creed Twitter account put out a short, six-second teaser video this afternoon featuring what looks like a Spartan soldier kicking an enemy off a cliff.

That’s a clear tip of the hat to the most famous scene in Zack Snyder’s film adaptation of Frank Miller’s Spartan-themed graphic novel 300, suggesting the game will likely take place during that period of Greek history. The logo for the game also features what looks like a Corinthian helmet, a primary piece of protective headgear worn by Greek soldiers during that era.

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Blowing Arcylic Canopies Using Stuff From Around The Shop

See the original posting on Hackaday

Blowing an acrylic sheet after heating it is an easy way to make a smooth and transparent canopy or bubble for anything from clams to light fixtures. [Michael Barton-Sweeney] does it using plastic blow ovens he made cheaply, mainly from stuff which most of us already have in our workshops.

All you need is a way to heat the plastic, to then clamp it down around the edges, and finally to blow air into it as you would when blowing up a balloon. Of course, there are things to watch out for such as making sure the plastic is heated …read more

Arm’s Cortex-A76 CPU Unveiled: Taking Aim at the Top for 7nm

See the original posting on Anandtech

Another year, another TechDay from Arm. Over the last several years Arm’s event has come as clockwork in the May timeframe and has every time unveiled the newest flagship CPU and GPU IPs. This year is no exception as the event is back on the American side of the Atlantic in Austin Texas where Arm has one of its major design centres.

Today we can finally unveil what the Austin team has been working on – and it’s a big one. The new Cortex A76 is a brand new microarchitecture which has been built from scratch and lays the foundation for at least two more generations for what I’ll call “the second generation of Austin family” of CPUs.

 

The new Google Lens has come to the Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact

See the original posting on The Verge

Google Lens is expanding to more devices’ native camera apps, including the Sony Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact, as spotted by AndroidPolice. To activate the integration, users will only need to update their Google app in the Play Store.

The upgraded Google Lens, which is the company’s artificial intelligence platform for parsing the real world, was first announced back in 2017. Google then announced at its annual I/O developer conference earlier this month that Lens would be integrated directly into the smartphone camera on Google-made devices and top-tier Android handsets, instead of just living inside Google Photos. The company said at the time that the platform was coming to 10 different Android devices initially, but did not specify…

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DIY Scrap Guitar Really Shreds

See the original posting on Hackaday

[Keith Decent] recently got himself involved in a plywood challenge, and decided to make a single-pickup electric guitar. Since he is a prolific hoarder of scrap wood, the result is a lovely stack of laminates from many sources, including reclaimed cabinet doors. Really though, the wood is just the beginning—nearly every piece of this texture-rich axe started life as something else.

He’s made a cigar box guitar before, but never a bona fide solid-body electric. As you might guess, he learned quite a bit in the process. [Keith] opted for a neck-through design instead of bolting one on and using …read more

Google’s in-house incubator made a Waze-like app for the New York City subway

See the original posting on The Verge

Have you ever used New York City’s decrepit subway system and marveled that its speeds that are slower now than they were in the 1950s? Or how a commute of a few miles can easily stretch into hours, making a trip between Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan turn into a nightmare? It’s gotten so bad and outdated compared to other modern cities that Google’s in-house startup incubator Area 120 is proposing to intervene with a new app.

The app, called Pigeon, is live on Apple’s App Store, but access is still limited to those with an invitation code. Its developers say the app can help commuters choose routes that avoid delays and crowds other users report. Google Maps and the MTA’s own website already provide information on what trains aren’t…

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Arm Announces Cortex-A76 Next-Gen CPU

See the original posting on Anandtech

Another year, another TechDay from Arm. Over the last several years Arm’s event has come as clockwork in the May timeframe and has every time unveiled the newest flagship CPU and GPU IPs. This year is no exception as the event is back on the American side of the Atlantic in Austin Texas where Arm has one of its major design centres.

Today we can finally unveil what the Austin team has been working on – and it’s a big one. The new Cortex A76 is a brand new microarchitecture which has been built from scratch and lays the foundation for at least two more generations for what I’ll call “the second generation of Austin family” of CPUs.

 

Fake reviews now generally necessary to do business online

See the original posting on Boing Boing

“The temptation to pose as an impartial reviewer of one’s own work will be familiar to many authors across history, writes Simon Parkin. “But the Internet has, as with all vices, smoothed the transition from temptation to action.”

Such self-fluffing is at least supposed to be secret. But the review systems are so crude and easily-gamed that it enables nakedly public manipulation. When The Gamers want to waltz around Amazon’s useless “verified purchase” wall to punish a developer for offending them, it’s easy…

“People would buy our game, not play it, leave the terrible review, and instantly request a refund,” Sean Vanaman, Campo Santo’s co-founder, told me. “It’s a well-worn tactic.” In his estimation, user-review systems such as those used by Valve, Steam’s developer, are so vulnerable to exploitation that they require as much moderation as social-media platforms.

Worse, without fake positive reviews, your thing — your book, your restaurant, your startup — is at a disadvantage in the apps and platforms that potential customers use to scan for new stuff. Once the medium is corrupt, everyone has to follow suit to survive. Get a load of this wonderful nonsense at TripAdvisor:

For the recent test, he created his own fake business, which he called the Shed at Dulwich. (It was named for his garden shed, in Dulwich, London.) He photographed plates of carefully arranged food (created using household products such as shaving cream and dishwasher tablets), bought a burner phone, and added the Shed to the site. Within four weeks, he had posted enough fake reviews to move the spectral establishment into the top two thousand restaurants in London. Eventually, it became the highest-rated restaurant in the city, and Butler was fielding scores of calls from people hoping to book a table. Such was the nonexistent restaurant’s success that it even attracted a one-star review, from what Butler assumes was a rival. “TripAdvisor removed the review on the grounds that it was fake,” he said.

L.A. stories: New podcast looks at the real Los Angeles

See the original posting on Boing Boing

Often when people think of Hollywood and Los Angeles, they perceive it to be glitzy and glamorous. The bubble is thick, but what is L.A. life really like?

In KCRW’s new podcast Welcome to L.A., host David Weinberg bursts that bubble to examine what’s really going on in (native-or-not) Angeleno culture.

He writes:

Since the first boosters marketed Los Angeles as a Paradise by the Sea people have been rolling into town with big dreams. And the city has crushed a lot of those dreams. In this series I explore a few of the many L.A.s that exist between the Pacific and the Mojave. And you’ll meet a lot of fascinating characters along the way.

A judge who throughout her career had been told to just keep her mouth shut. But she refused. And because of that she became a star.

The former voice of Ronald McDonald. He considers himself a sexual healer now. He convinces straight men in the military to have sex with him on camera and then sells those videos online.

A musician who spent his inheritance to put up a giant billboard of his face on Sunset Boulevard which was all part of a long game strategy to completely redesign the city of Los Angeles.

I’m your host David Weinberg and in Welcome to L.A. I take you into the corners of the city that L.A. noir fiction writers know. The seedy motels, the yachts, the broken down RVs and the mansions of the successful.

It’s an L.A. populated by grifters and artists, working girls and musicians who might jam at any moment.

It’s good stuff. Listen in.

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