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Feds shut down self-driving school bus pilot in Florida

Feds shut down self-driving school bus pilot in Florida

Enlarge (credit: Transdev)

The Trump administration has taken a hands-off approach to regulating self-driving cars, but on Friday federal regulators decided that one self-driving car project had gone too far. In a sharply-worded statement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has ordered the French transportation company Transdev to stop transporting schoolchildren in a self-driving vehicle in Florida.

Transdev’s pilot project in Babcock Ranch, a planned community, was quite modest. On Fridays, Transdev’s electric shuttle would take a group of elementary-aged children to school, then take them home later in the day. The vehicle had a safety driver on board. The route was short enough that kids walked or rode their bikes to school the other four days of the week, according to a spokeswoman for Babcock Ranch.

“The shuttle travels at a top speed of 8mph, with the potential to reach speeds of 30mph once the necessary infrastructure is complete,” an August press release stated.

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Misfit Still Hasn’t Announced the Vapor 2, but You Can Buy It at Best Buy Right Now

Buy Misfit Vapor 2

The Misfit Vapor 2 showed up at an overseas retailer last week, revealing many of the new watch’s details before Fossil and Misfit had a chance to announce it. Today, even though it still hasn’t been officially revealed, can be purchased from Best Buy. OK, then!

Best Buy has listings for two different sizes of Misfit Vapor 2 watches in a number of colors. The Vapor 2 will arrive in 46mm or 41mm sizes and come in black, stainless steel, or a rose tone. Each will also feature a round AMOLED display, 20mm straps, heart rate tracking, standalone GPS, NFC for Google Pay, water resistance, and 512MB RAM. At least one of them will feature a 1.39″, with resolutions on each at 454×454 (46mm) and 390×390 (41mm).

Best Buy listings suggest a $249.99 price for all models, with no price difference between sizes. Neither listing calls out the processor, so once again, we’re assuming this watch is not running the new Snapdragon Wear 3100.

I’m not sure why this watch has been outed without mention from its makers, but that’s where we are.

Best Buy Link

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Technology

How to Boss Your Small Business Venture

If you’re one of the industrious and entrepreneurial people who like to start out in business on your own, then this is the article for you. It’s an exciting way to conduct life independent of an office 9 to 5, but as anyone who’s run their own business for a while will tell you – it’s hard work. To make this work easier though, and to take some of the stresses and pressures off your shoulders, there are a number of steps and measures you can take when bossing your small business venture.

Planning

 Planning is an absolute must when you’re starting out on your small business venture. You should have a good idea of where you want to go, and the ethos behind your brand. You should also have planned for some worst-case scenarios, and for the possibility that your sales go through the roof and your supply cannot meet your demand. Even pricing options need planning, and all of this takes a good deal of time. Dedicate some of your week to reflecting on your plans and ambitions, updating them as you go.

small business

Protecting

 When your small business grows beyond a certain size, it’s a wise idea to protect it as much as you can from the ravages of the business wilderness. We’re talking measures like general liability insurance and getting a reliable lawyer on board to advise you on your business development. If you’re looking for affordable liability insurance, turn to the web for easy, tailor-made policies that will protect exactly what you’re liable for with no extra fluff added in the contract. The same can be said for legal advice – the web is awash with such information, and all you need to do is search for it.

Onboarding

 You may have started your business as a one-person enterprise – from your laptop, maybe even from your bed – but when it grows you may need some help. Think about the areas of your business that will soon be expanding, and what you can do to maintain the smooth maintenance of all the moving parts your company operates with. Perhaps you’ll be able to hire a web designer to create a stunning new website. Maybe you’ll want to take onboard some outsourced software solutions, or you might want a dedicated marketer on your team to spread your brand across the internet. Small but growing businesses rely on these extra people joining the fold.

Patience

 The final tip is a simple one, but it’s something that’ll save you a lot of stress when thing aren’t going so well. It’s to be patient, to relax and to understand that there are some things beyond your control. Remember that you’re in the small business game to have a different experience of your working life than someone working for a business does. This includes the ability to give yourself time off and to set your own working hours and conditions. Be relaxed, and await your future success.

These four tips should help all small business ventures in their development towards unbeatable success.

Technology

YouTube CEO says EU’s new copyright legislation threatens jobs, smaller creators

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki published her quarterly letter to creators today, which included very strong language regarding the EU’s controversial copyright reform directive. Specifically, her letter focused on Article 13, the so-called “meme ban” that states that any site with a large amount of user-generated content – like Facebook or YouTube, for example – will be responsible for taking down content that infringes on copyright. Wojcicki says the way this legislation is written could “shut down the ability” of millions of people to upload to YouTube.

The legislation she’s referring to is Article 13 of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which the EU Parliament just recently voted to back. The Directive contains several parts, including another concerning “link tax,” which gives publishers the right to ask for paid licenses when online platforms share their articles and stories.

But YouTube is most concerned with Article 13, which impacts sites with user-generated content. In order to comply with the law, sites like YouTube would have to automatically scan and filter user uploads to ensure they aren’t in violation of copyright.

But today, users often express themselves by sampling, remixing, and creating content using music, pictures and videos that would otherwise be considered copyrighted material. However, even though memes and parodies are protected by previous laws (in some countries), these upload filters wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a copyright violation and a meme – and they’d block content that should be allowed. This is how Article 13 became to be known as the “meme ban.”

However, the language in legislation isn’t clear on how enforcement should take place – it doesn’t say, for example, that sites have to use upload filters. Others believe that YouTube’s existing Content ID system, which scans videos after upload, would be sufficient.

YouTube, for its part, seems to be believe that Article 13 will require more than the existing Content ID system to be compliant.

Writes Wojcicki, “Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people — from creators like you to everyday users — to upload content to platforms like YouTube. It threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere. This includes YouTube’s incredible video library of educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to’s,” she says.

The CEO also says Article 13 will threaten “thousands of jobs” – meaning those of EU-based content creators, businesses, and artists.

And she warns that YouTube may have to take down content from smaller, original video creators, as it would be liable for that content, saying:

The proposal could force platforms, like YouTube, to allow only content from a small number of large companies. It would be too risky for platforms to host content from smaller original content creators, because the platforms would now be directly liable for that content. We realize the importance of all rights holders being fairly compensated, which is why we built Content ID, and a platform to pay out all types of content owners. But the unintended consequences of article 13 will put this ecosystem at risk.

The company wants to weigh in on how the legislation is worded to protect its interests, and those of the larger creator community. Wojcicki said YouTube is committed to working with the industry to find a better way respect the rights of copyright holders, before the language in the EU legislation is finalized by year-end.

 

Other changes include expansion of memberships, premieres

While YouTube’s comments on Article 13 were the key part of today’s letter, Wojcicki also updated the community on its priorities for 2018.

This included an update on its plans to better communicate with creators, which it says it accomplished by increasing the number of product updates and “heads up” messages regarding changes to YouTube, including smaller tests or experiments, on its @TeamYouTube handle and the Creator Insider channel, in addition to its launch of YouTube Studio, where creators can read all the news and product updates.

The company also said that its new “self certification” video upload flow, where creators self-describe the content in their videos for advertisers, will roll out more broadly in 2019.

Newly launched channel memberships are also expanding their rollout, with the threshold now being lowered from 100,000 to 50,000 subscribers. Meanwhile, the new Premieres feature is now publicly available to all creators.

Other updates focused on what YouTube is doing across education, news and journalism, YouTube Giving charity work, gaming, and more. The full letter is on YouTube’s blog here.

Technology

Grand Theft Auto V hack exposed single-player games to malicious trolls

Hackers could briefly create a scene like this at will even in targets' single-player games of <em>Grand Theft Auto V</em>.

Hackers could briefly create a scene like this at will even in targets’ single-player games of Grand Theft Auto V.

Over the years, we’ve written a lot about the apparently easy-to-hack Grand Theft Auto Online and Rockstar’s many, many, many attempts to prevent cheaters from ruining the online experience for legitimate players. Last week, though, players reported that trolls were briefly able to mess with the single-player portion of Grand Theft Auto V through an exploit targeting players’ Rockstar Social Club accounts.

You can see an example of the single-player hacking in action in this Twitch clip, where a troll follows user SnowieLive after kicking him from an online session and continually kills his avatar in the single-player mode. “You’re not safe in single player,” the hacker says in a somewhat on-the-nose message in the clip. Similar clips from GTA speedrunner FriendlyBaron show hackers loading jets into his path and simply killing his character in mid-drive during a run.

Players that track the state of cheating tools in the Grand Theft Auto universe noted last week that one popular “mod menu” was advertising the newfound ability to discover an online player’s Rockstar ID, a hidden string of numbers associated with their Rockstar Social Club account. With that number, hackers using that tool could take control of an online user’s single-player games, with new abilities including “Rockstar admin kick, Network kick, Ragdoll, Fake money correction, Kill, Spawn vehicle, and send crew message.”

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Technology

Latest adaptation of Haunting of Hill House will haunt your dreams

Literature's most famous haunted house is back for the best adaptation yet.

Enlarge / Literature’s most famous haunted house is back for the best adaptation yet. (credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix)

The quintessential ghost story is back to haunt your dreams with the recent debut of The Haunting of Hill House, Netflix’s new miniseries adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic 1959 gothic horror novel. Frankly, it’s less an adaptation than a bold reimagining that still remains true to the rich metaphorical depths of the titular source material.

No less an authority than Stephen King cited the original Haunting of Hill House as one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century in his nonfiction overview of the genre, Danse Macabre. His 2002 miniseries Rose Red was an homage of sorts. Jackson’s novel has already been adapted twice for the big screen: once in 1963 and again in 1999. The former film is considered a classic. The less said about the overwrought 1999 adaptation, the better, despite a stellar cast that included Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor.

This latest version is the best by far. Even though it veers sharply from the original storyline, there are sufficient nods to the novel throughout to keep the staunchest fan happy. The Haunting of Hill House offers up plenty of bone-chilling horror, but like all the best ghost stories, that horror is rooted in the complexities of the human psyche. At its heart, this is a story of family trauma and dysfunction, turning Jackson’s psychological subtext into text.

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Technology

Here’s How to Get a Free Week of Service to YouTube TV After Last Week’s Outage

YouTube TV

YouTube and YouTube TV had a rough October 16, where services were down for hours before being fully restored. The timing was extra awful for sports fans, as the 16th marked the beginning of the NBA season and also featured MLB league championship games. Because Google feels bad about that, they are giving YouTube TV subscribers a “week of free service.”

This isn’t the first time that Google has felt the need to handout free service following an outage. They did the same back in July when YouTube TV went down during the World Cup.

To get the free week, you’ll need to fill out a form that simply asks for the email address you use to subscribe to YouTube TV. You’ll need to do this by October 24, though, so please hurry.

Here is the form.

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Technology

Sons born to US Civil War POWs were more likely to die young

Crowded conditions at the Andersonville POW camp.

Enlarge / Crowded conditions at the Andersonville POW camp. (credit: US National Archives)

“It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles.” – General Ulysses S. Grant, August 18, 1864.

General Grant did not halt the exchange of Union and Confederate soldiers between the summers of 1863 and 1864, although this quotation—chiseled into a monument on the site of Camp Sumter military prison in Andersonville, Georgia—is often cited as evidence that he did. The exchange halted as a consequence of the Emancipation Proclamation. Black Union soldiers started enlisting in increasing numbers and the Confederates refused to trade them along with their white officers.

Once the exchange stopped, prisons got more and more crowded and more and more squalid. Malnutrition and disease were rampant. And, according to a new study, the consequences lasted for generations.

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Technology

The Best Sit/Stand Desk Converters And Risers For Your Traditional Desk

Wish your current desk was a standing desk but you don’t want to (or can’t) replace it? While adjustable desks are great, you don’t need to buy one to get the benefits. There are plenty of desk converters out there, and we’ve looked at the best ones.

What’s a desk converter? While some companies call their products “risers” and some “converters”, the basic premise is the same. They sit atop your desk and when you wish to stand you lift up the work surface, typically on a scissor-lift style mechanism, to standing height.

Each of these desk converters does something useful to enhance your current working space. Whether that’s by expanding the room for your keyboard or simply by providing a little extra space for your arms to rest, there’s a desk riser for you. Typically, desk converters are a great way of giving you extra flexibility on your desk without feeling obligated to buy a whole new piece of furniture. Because, after all, new office desks aren’t cheap and who wants the hassle of buying a whole new sturdy table? Even better yet, if you’re trying to get your boss to sign off on an office purchase, it’s much easier to pitch a $100 desk riser than a $500+ standing desk.

Here’s our pick of the best desk converters currently out there.

Best Premium Adjustable Pick: FlexiSpot Stand Up Desk Converter ($250)

The FlexiSpot Stand Up Desk Converter isn’t cheap by any means but it is exceptionally good for flexibility. The 35″ standing desk riser is designed with standing in mind, but it also has a deep keyboard tray too. It’s so deep you could even place a laptop in there, nice and snug below your monitor set up. If you need to have a lot of paperwork spread out, as well as your monitors, full sized keyboard, mouse and mouse pad, all right in front of you—this is the solution for you.

A quick release removable keyboard tray further improves things, adding some flexibility to the experience. As with other desk converters, a gas spring mechanism means you can easily manipulate things without needing to be strong yourself. It only takes a few minutes to set up too. If you’re looking for a full-size adjustable standing desk, we’d encourage you to check out our review of one of Flexispot’s standing desk models—it’s a great desk and worth every penny.

Best Budget Model: VIVO Black Height Adjustable Standing 32″ Desk Sit Stand Converter ($100)

As substantial as its name, the VIVO Black Height Adjustable Standing 32″ Desk Sit Stand Converter does everything pretty well. It adds an adjustable workstation to your desk so that through an easy to use height locking mechanism, you can adjust the height between 1″ and 15″. A built-in gas spring means it lifts up easily enough without you needing to brute force it too.

It’s solidly built and holds up to 22lb so it’s good to go with a dual monitor set up if you want it to. There’s plenty of room here for a full sized keyboard, monitor, laptop and a few other bits and pieces too. Finally, it’s pre-assembled too so minimal hassle for you straight out of the box.

Best For Expanded Workspace: Slendor Standing Desk Converter ($126)

Many of the desk converters here are good for turning your conventional desk into a standing desk, but the Slendor Standing Desk Converter has the edge with that particular scenario. That’s because it’s so straightforward. It effectively adds some height to your desk without any need for separate components or lifts. It’s all simply a flat surface, only higher.

Where things get even more useful is with your choice of height range. There are more than 200 height adjustable positions so there’s a level for everyone. The maximum height is 17″ with the different positions meaning it’s good for people between 5′ and 6’3″. It’s another desk riser that’s easy to install too, so expect to be ready to go within a few minutes.

Best For Laptops: FlexiSpot Laptop Desk Riser ($100)

Designed with laptops in mind, the FlexiSpot Laptop Desk Riser has the perfect footprint for laptop use. It holds up to 17lb with the 26″ work surface spacious enough for any laptop, mouse, and a few other bits and pieces.

There are 5 different height adjustment settings which accommodate most users, as well as offers some functionality for those experimenting with a standing desk setup. It might not be as feature rich as some more expensive solutions, but it’s great if you simply want to get your working height just right. It has an easy set of levers to adjust height too, plus you can easily move it around thanks to a built-in handle.

Best For Portability: Executive Office Solutions Adjustable Laptop Desk/Stand ($40)

Sometimes, you need to step away from your work desk and head to a different kind of desk — like one at a coffee shop or library. The Executive Office Solutions Adjustable Laptop Desk/Stand means you can still take a crucial part of your setup with you, wherever you go. It’s a lightweight and highly portable desk tray that rotates 360 degrees and locks in place at various angles, so you can easily get the right perspective while you work.

It isn’t particularly stylish, admittedly, but it does the job well. Non-slip feet mean it adapts to any situation you throw at it, and it’s far better than risking back or neck ache because you got your posture all wrong. It’s cheap too, so could potentially be a good way of trying out a new angle in the office.

Technology

After ‘Days Gone,’ What’s The Next Early 2019 Gaming Casualty?