s.s. nautilus
slashdot le : 15/10/2021 02:00:36
Pine64 today announced its latest Linux-powered device, the PinePhone Pro, an update to the original PinePhone which sees a more powerful device running mainline Linux (Manjaro in this case) on a mobile device that works as a cellphone and a desktop computer. Tom's Hardware reports: This combination of hardware and software makes the still slightly futuristic idea of confluence between mobile and desktop devices seem a step closer. Carry it around with you, and it's a phone. Plug it into a monitor, and it's a desktop PC. The KDE Plasma Mobile front-end adapts to the circumstances. Inside, it's much like any other phone, with a Rockchip RK3399S six-core SoC operating at 1.5GHz, 4GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM, and 128GB of internal eMMC flash storage. It features a 13MP main camera sensor and a 5MP front-facing camera. There's a Micro-SD slot for expanded storage, and a six-inch 1440 x 720 IPS touchscreen. The PinePhone Pro is not a typical cell phone, rather the concept of convergence, the ability to use your phone as a computer is intriguing. Plug your PinePhone Pro into an external display and use it as a low-power desktop computer is something that has been attempted by a number of companies, including Canonical's attempt with Ubuntu Edge.

PinePhone Pro offers something that is missing from the majority of phones, privacy. A series of hardware DIP-switches, hidden under a rear cover, cut off access to the cameras, microphone, Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1 chips, headphone jack, and LTE modem (including GPS) should you ever need to. The layout and Pogo Pins of the new phone are identical to the original PinePhone, so all existing accessories should work. Retailing at $399, the PinePhone Pro's makers are realistic about the challenges of putting desktop Linux on a mobile device, especially in an ecosystem dominated by iOS and Android.

slashdot le : 15/10/2021 01:00:26
Games that use blockchain technology or let users exchange NFTs or cryptocurrencies won't be allowed on Steam, according to a rule added to Valve's "What you shouldn't publish on Steam" list. The Verge reports: The change was pointed out by SpacePirate, a developer working on an NFT-based game, who said that the change was because the company doesn't allow game items that could have real-world value. But Steam could also be avoiding controversy with the move. Steam has a history of making controversial moderation decisions, especially when it comes to games with sexual content. In this case, though, it doesn't seem like people are pressing F to pay respects to NFT games -- a majority of the replies and quote tweets to SpacePirate's tweets are praising Valve for the move (or mocking those that are upset about it).

It's perhaps understandable why Steam would want to avoid having NFTs on its platform. Besides the justification cited by SpacePirate that they could have real-world value (which seems a bit weak, given the massive commercial communities around things like CS:GO skins and Team Fortress 2 hats), NFT and crypto-based games don't have the best reputations. There's the infamous Evolved Apes saga where a developer sold NFTs with the promise that they'd be included in a fighting game but then seemingly took the money and ran. There are some potentially interesting game concepts that use NFTs, but it's hard to say how many of them would've been a good fit for Steam even if they were allowed.

slashdot le : 10/10/2021 21:00:38
"California will soon ban the sale of new gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers," reports the Associated Press, calling it "a move aimed at curbing emissions from a category of small engines on pace to produce more pollution each year than passenger vehicles." California is the only state with the authority to regulate air quality this way, part of an exception carved out in federal law in the 1970s. While other states can't enact their own regulations, they can choose to follow California's lead. Last year, California regulators approved a first-of-its-kind rule to force automakers to sell more electric work trucks and delivery vans. Also last year, Newsom ordered regulators to ban the sale of all new gas-powered cars and trucks in California by 2035 — a date that has since been embraced by some of the world's largest automakers.

California has more than 16.7 million of these small engines in the state, about 3 million more than the number of passenger cars on the road. California was the first government in the world to adopt emission standards for these small engines in 1990. But since then, emissions in cars have vastly improved compared with smaller engines.

Now, state officials say running a gas-powered leaf blower for one hour emits the same amount of pollution as driving a 2017 Toyota Camry from Los Angeles to Denver, a distance of about 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers). The law Newsom signed also orders regulators to offer rebates for people to change out their equipment, a move aimed at landscaping businesses that use these machines more often. The state budget, approved earlier this year, includes $30 million to pay for this effort.

slashdot le : 07/10/2021 10:00:35
In late September, Carbios, a French startup, opened a demonstration plant in central France to test the use of enzymes to recycle PET, one of the most common single-use plastics and the material used to make most beverage bottles. MIT Technology Review reports: While we've had mechanical methods for recycling some plastics, like PET, for decades, chemical and enzyme-based processes could produce purer products or allow us to recycle items like clothes that conventional techniques can't process. [...] Carbios's new reactor measures 20 cubic meters -- around the size of a cargo van. It can hold two metric tons of plastic, or the equivalent of about 100,000 ground-up bottles at a time, and break it down into the building blocks of PET -- ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid -- in 10 to 16 hours. The company plans to use what it learns from the demonstration facility to build its first industrial plant, which will house a reactor about 20 times larger than the demonstration reactor. That full-scale plant will be built near a plastic manufacturer somewhere in Europe or the US, and should be operational by 2025, says Alain Marty, Carbios's chief science officer.

Carbios has been developing enzymatic recycling since the company was founded in 2011. Its process relies on enzymes to chop up the long chains of polymers that make up plastic. The resulting monomers can then be purified and strung together to make new plastics. Researchers at Carbios started with a natural enzyme used by bacteria to break down leaves, then tweaked it to make it more efficient at breaking down PET. Carbios estimates that its enzymatic recycling process reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 30% compared to virgin PET. Marty says he expects that number to increase as they work out the kinks. In a recent report, researchers estimated that manufacturing PET from enzymatic recycling could reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 17% and 43% compared to making virgin PET. The report wasn't specifically about Carbios, but it's probably a good estimate for its process, according to Gregg Beckham, a researcher at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a co-author of the report.

Carbios's product is about twice as expensive as virgin PET, Marty says. By comparison, mechanically recycled PET is only about 50% more expensive than virgin. Marty points out that Carbios's PET would still only cost about two cents for a small, clear plastic bottle, which he argues is a relatively small expense for manufacturers. Companies may be willing to pay. In a press release earlier this year, Carbios revealed demonstration bottles from partner brands that included PepsiCo and Nestle. Carbios recycled discarded plastic and handed it off to the companies, which used it to make new bottles. Eventually, enzymatic recycling may be able do things that mechanical recycling can't, like recycle clothes or mixed streams of plastics.

slashdot le : 29/09/2021 04:00:34
Ahmed Elgammal, Professor and Director of the Art & AI Lab at Rutgers University, writes via The Conversation: When Ludwig von Beethoven died in 1827, he was three years removed from the completion of his Ninth Symphony, a work heralded by many as his magnum opus. He had started work on his Tenth Symphony but, due to deteriorating health, wasn't able to make much headway: All he left behind were some musical sketches. Ever since then, Beethoven fans and musicologists have puzzled and lamented over what could have been. His notes teased at some magnificent reward, albeit one that seemed forever out of reach. Now, thanks to the work of a team of music historians, musicologists, composers and computer scientists, Beethoven's vision will come to life. I presided over the artificial intelligence side of the project, leading a group of scientists at the creative AI startup Playform AI that taught a machine both Beethoven's entire body of work and his creative process. A full recording of Beethoven's 10th Symphony is set to be released on Oct. 9, 2021, the same day as the world premiere performance scheduled to take place in Bonn, Germany -- the culmination of a two-year-plus effort.
The AI side of the project -- my side -- found itself grappling with a range of challenging tasks. First, and most fundamentally, we needed to figure out how to take a short phrase, or even just a motif, and use it to develop a longer, more complicated musical structure, just as Beethoven would have done. For example, the machine had to learn how Beethoven constructed the Fifth Symphony out of a basic four-note motif. Four notes famously serve as the basis for Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Next, because the continuation of a phrase also needs to follow a certain musical form, whether it's a scherzo, trio or fugue, the AI needed to learn Beethoven's process for developing these forms. The to-do list grew: We had to teach the AI how to take a melodic line and harmonize it. The AI needed to learn how to bridge two sections of music together. And we realized the AI had to be able to compose a coda, which is a segment that brings a section of a piece of music to its conclusion. Finally, once we had a full composition, the AI was going to have to figure out how to orchestrate it, which involves assigning different instruments for different parts. And it had to pull off these tasks in the way Beethoven might do so.

In November 2019, the team met in person again -- this time, in Bonn, at the Beethoven House Museum, where the composer was born and raised. This meeting was the litmus test for determining whether AI could complete this project. We printed musical scores that had been developed by AI and built off the sketches from Beethoven's 10th. A pianist performed in a small concert hall in the museum before a group of journalists, music scholars and Beethoven experts. We challenged the audience to determine where Beethoven's phrases ended and where the AI extrapolation began. They couldn't. The success of these tests told us we were on the right track. But these were just a couple of minutes of music. There was still much more work to do. At every point, Beethoven's genius loomed, challenging us to do better. As the project evolved, the AI did as well. Over the ensuing 18 months, we constructed and orchestrated two entire movements of more than 20 minutes apiece.