Court Risk Assessment Algorithm

Courts use a ‘Minority Report’ crime prediction algorithm, and it’s incredibly racist

By on May 23, 2016 at 4:55 PM.

Courts use a ‘Minority Report’ crime prediction algorithm, and it’s incredibly racist

I was somewhat surprised to learn that courts use software to predict the likelihood of criminals reoffending. But I was far less surprised to learn that the computer, much like the system it serves, seems to hate black people.

ProPublica has a new report that shines a light on the system used by Broward County, Florida. Those courts use a system made by Northpointe, a for-profit company. Various factors are inputted into an algorithm, which spits out a score that reflects an offender’s chance of re-offending within two years.

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Sospendo Smartphone Holder

This is the worst smartphone gadget to ever grace the internet

By on May 18, 2016 at 7:00 PM.

This is the worst smartphone gadget to ever grace the internet

In a world of Bluetooth-connected fart trackers and hipster-friendly tinfoil hats, I am aware that describing a Kickstarter as “the worst” is a bold claim. But hear me out: from idea to execution to the innumerable GIFs littering the crowdfunding campaign, this particular wearable smartphone accessory ticks all of the boxes.

At heart, the SOSPENDO combines two of the very worst things: selfie sticks and wearable smartphone holders. The SOSPENDO is, according to the press release, an “innovative, ergonomic hands-free device that will hold smartphones, tablets and GoPro cameras.”

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G.Fast Google Fiber

Super fast internet speeds are coming this year… through your regular phone lines

By on May 17, 2016 at 11:15 PM.

Super fast internet speeds are coming this year… through your regular phone lines

The internet is a necessity nowadays, not a luxury, yet there are still plenty of logistical wrinkles to iron out. We’re not happy with overall internet speeds or slow uploads, and no one can stand data caps. We also hate problematic Wi-Fi and poor LTE coverage. At the same time, internet consumption is at an all-time high and it’s only increasing.

Thankfully, it looks like one company has figured out how to deliver internet speeds as fast as fiber to your home without actually needing fiber optic cables to do it. And it’s not just an experiment that works in a lab — it’s a product that’ll soon be deployed, with AT&T being one of the first companies to use it. More →

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Buzzfeed Interview President Obama

Facebook Live’s first big interview with President Obama crashed and burned

By on May 16, 2016 at 5:16 PM.

Facebook Live’s first big interview with President Obama crashed and burned

Facebook is pushing its livestreaming video project pretty hard — so hard that it’s paying media companies cold hard cash to use Facebook Live. So when Buzzfeed set up an interview with President Obama using Facebook Live, it should have been a major coup for the platform. Instead, Facebook crashed, and YouTube had to save the day.

Buzzfeed’s legal editor was supposed to sit down with the President to discuss his Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland at 2.50PM ET this afternoon. Unfortunately, Facebook’s video tool had some technical problems, and users were stuck with one short loading video.

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Train Crash Video

Watch this train driver save his passengers from a certain crash

By on May 13, 2016 at 6:00 PM.

Watch this train driver save his passengers from a certain crash

Trains take a long time to stop, so if a driver sees an obstacle — say, the back of a truck — in the tracks, there’s not much they can do about it. Unless you’re this quick-thinking Polish train driver, whose timely warning saved his passengers from near-certain injury.

As the BBC reports, the train was traveling at 68 mph when the driver saw a lorry stuck in a crossing. With the three seconds he had available, there was no way he was going to stop. Top Gear has previously demonstrated in graphic detail how far it takes a passenger train to perform an emergency stop, so it’s fair to say this lorry had no chance.

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AT&T Internet Caps

ISPs’ latest dirty trick is removing data caps if you pay for TV

By on May 13, 2016 at 8:43 AM.

ISPs’ latest dirty trick is removing data caps if you pay for TV

Cable companies that have long milked cable subscriptions for profit are worried about how they’re going to replace that cash among new generations of cable-cutters. But maybe, just maybe, they won’t have to.

DSL Reports has spotted a trend among ISPs that at first glance, looks pretty good: AT&T and Bend will both remove their broadband caps if users also bundle TV and home phone. It looks like a deal for customers — no fee to remove data caps! — but really, it’s an out-and-out money grab.

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Listening Skills Test Online

Test how your listening skills compare to a music producer

By on May 12, 2016 at 10:53 PM.

Test how your listening skills compare to a music producer

Just like a wine taster’s palate or an art student’s sense of bullshit, your listening skills are something that can be trained and honed. Music software company iZotope has a fun challenge to see how well your ears stack up against the competition.

As spotted by CDM, iZotope has an entire guide out that will help teach you about equalization, compression and digital audio. The equalization section has a bunch of interesting videos to explain the basics of EQs (balancing different frequencies), so that you’ll get a better understanding of what your car stereo does when you flip it between Rock and Pop. There’s also an explainer on the more complicated side, breaking down terms like “Peak Level” and “RMS.”

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Facebook Trending News Topics

Here’s the list of 1,000 websites that Facebook thinks are most important

By on May 12, 2016 at 5:13 PM.

Here’s the list of 1,000 websites that Facebook thinks are most important

To address allegations of anti-conservative bias in its trending news topics, Facebook has published more transparent details about how and where it sources news. Included is a list of 1,000 websites and publications that Facebook thinks are worth checking.

On first inspection, the list looks exactly like a vanilla cross-section of the biggest news publications, organized by category. Facebook is publishing the list in an effort to do away with allegations of bias, specifically that some sources were “blacklisted,” while other stories were “artificially injected” into the Trending News section.

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The Pirate Bay Web Address

The Pirate Bay will be losing its iconic web address

By on May 12, 2016 at 1:05 PM.

The Pirate Bay will be losing its iconic web address

For as long as I can remember, thepiratebay.se has been the place to go for illegal torrents. But a ruling handed down by Sweden’s court of appeal says that those domain names are going to be handed over to the Swedish government, and you can bet that they’re not fans of illicit Game of Thrones.

The ruling from Sweden’s Court of Appeals upholds a ruling from the Stockholm District Court from last year. The case was actually against Punkt SE (IIS), Sweden’s domain-name authority, which has ultimate control over all .se addresses. The prosecution charged that because thepiratebay.se and piratebay.se were being used for illegal content, the domains should be suspended, and IIS held responsible for damages.

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Google Fiber Wireless Expansion Plans

Google Fiber is just getting warmed up

By on May 11, 2016 at 7:45 PM.

Google Fiber is just getting warmed up

Google Fiber is set to have a big expansion year in 2016 but it looks like the game-changing internet service is already thinking of new ways to expand faster to new markets. A massive report about Google Fiber over at Re/code reveals more about Google’s ambitious plans to connect people to its service by placing antennas on top of light poles that will beam internet services right to their houses. Google Fiber will start testing out this technology in Kansas City in November, with the goal of having a network up and running by the end of next year. More →

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