Israel’s effort to get a gadget-obsessed generation to look at old stuff

There is no shortage of ancient artifacts in the Holy Land. Some have already been found, and others are just waiting to be discovered.

But the big question is whether fragments of pottery, fraying textiles and decaying manuscripts can elicit excitement these days when people are glued to technology.

Can archaeology draw big crowds?

The Israel Antiquities Authority thinks so, and it is constructing a multimedia, multi-floored underground complex designed to show off some of the best finds from the past 1.5 million years.

Uzi Dahari, the authority’s deputy director, said that Israel has more than 2 million ancient artifacts in storage that can’t be squeezed into any of Israel’s existing museums. So the authority is building what he calls an “archaeological campus,” an interactive center where items from every prehistoric and historical period in this fraught land will be stored and displayed.

The center, which is due to be completed in 2018, will also house one of the largest archaeological libraries in the Middle East, specialized archaeological laboratories for rescuing and restoring ancient relics, and climate-controlled storage rooms.

“The center will explain the history of this land and will give everyone the chance to connect with history via archaeology,” the authority’s director, Yisrael Hasson, said during a recent tour of the multiplex.

There are, for example, between 15,000 to 16,000 parchments from the Dead Sea Scrolls collection that were discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea about 70 years ago and have been studied intensely by historians ever since.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Preserving the past and teaching future generations about it is certainly a noble feat, but a question remains: Is there interest in one more antiquities museum in Jerusalem?

The city is already packed with historical sites and museums. The new project will be flanked by the Israel Museum, with its own collection of antiquities, and the Bible Lands Museum, which displays mostly antiquities.

“We don’t want to be in competition with these places,” said Dahari, who is heading the project. “We expect the place to draw researchers who want to learn about the archaeology here, it is the only place where one can learn about Israeli archaeology.”

Speaking at an event at the center last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the campus represented a defiant response to those “attempting to deny, ignore or erase our history in our land.” He was referring to a resolution recently passed by UNESCO, the U.N. cultural and heritage agency, that did not mention the Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism and once a site of two Jewish temples. The place is now home to the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

The new archaeology campus, the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, was designed by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie. The building reflects the layering of archaeology, flowing down 10 floors deep into the ground. The upper floors will display a wide variety of mosaics, pottery, manuscripts and other interesting finds, but the 10th floor below ground will hold what Dahari calls the “state treasures.”

Several storerooms with wide portholes line the hallway on that floor. Each room will have a specific type of lighting, temperature gauge and climate control designed to best preserve the historical items. There will be separate rooms for ancient textiles, old coins, bronze, jewelry and manuscripts.

In addition, a dusty, dimly lit hall with a suspended bridge will allow visitors a chance to glimpse thousands of oversize artifacts. It has the aura of a mysterious Indiana Jones adventure.

[Source:-The Washington Post]

Best Wireless Speaker 2016: EE Pocket-lint Gadget Awards nominees

Best Wireless Speaker 2016: EE Pocket-lint Gadget Awards nominees

It’s almost November, which means Christmas is only weeks away and more importantly, so are the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards. The Awards are turning 13 this year and there are 14 categories, ranging from best smartphone and best car, to best wireless speaker and best VR device.

Each category has between five and seven shortlisted nominations, all of which have been reviewed by us in full at some point over the last 12 months. There are some excellent contenders across the board and as you might have discovered, we have been diving a little deeper into each category over the last couple of weeks through a series of features.

Each feature presents the nominations in more detail and explains what we loved about each device when we reviewed it, all of which you can find inour Awards hub. Today, it is time to look at the category for the Best Wireless Speaker 2016. There are some brilliant nominees, as with all the categories, but only one can be king of sound.

Will it be the BeoPlay A1 from B&O, Devialet’s Gold Phantom, Libratone’s Zipp,Naim’s Mu-so Qb, the Zeppelin Wireless from Bowers & Wilkins, or the Boom 2 from Ultimate Ears?

Click here to see the nominees for 2016’s Best Speaker in a little more detail to help you decide who should get your vote.

Voting in the 13th annual EE Pocket-lint Awards is now open so you can let us know which one of these great devices you think should win the Best Wireless Speaker award for this year and give us your verdict on all the other tech across the 13 select categories.

Winners will be announced at the exclusive event in London on 23 November in association with EE. For now, keep an eye on the EE Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2016 hub for all the latest on how the voting works, who the elite judges are and the EE Pocket-lint Gadget Awards shortlist.

[Source:-Pocket lint]

The New York Times acquires gadget recommendation site The Wirecutter

The New York Times just announced that it has acquired The Wirecutter and its sister publication The Sweethome.

The sites were founded by former Gizmodo editor Brian Lam, who The Times says will stay involved in an advisory role. Ben French of The Times’ Beta development team will serve as interim general manager, while Jacqui Cheng and Christopher Mascari will remain on-board as editor in chief and product director, respectively.Most TechCrunch readers are probably familiar with The Wirecutter already (particularly since we syndicate some of their stories), but for those who aren’t: It offers gadget guides that are focused on helping readers find the best product in a given category, whether you’re looking for a laptop or a standing desk. The Sweethome does the same thing, but for products around the home.

“We’re very excited about this acquisition on two fronts, “said Mark Thompson, CEO of The New York Times Company, in the acquisition release. “It’s an impressively run business with a very attractive revenue model and its success is built on the foundation of great, rigorously reported service journalism.”

The Times isn’t saying anything about the price, except that it was an all-cash deal, but Recode’s Peter Kafka (who broke the news about the acquisition) said The Times will pay more than $30 million.


The Latest Battle in Software Is All About Artificial Intelligence

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if Salesforce, Microsoft, Google, and other software vendors could make software smart enough to untangle the torrent of features-and-functions they’ve been selling to us for the last 20 years?

While none of those companies would likely describe what they’re doing in those terms, they are all pushing artificial intelligence (AI) features that they say teach software what to do based on human-computer interactions and the data users produce with every day.

Salesforce CRM 0.07% , for example, says it is enabling all of its sales, marketing, e-commerce, and other “cloud” software with AI. The same goes for Microsoft MSFT 0.01% with its Office productivity applications and Dynamics business software. And then there’s Google Apps for Work, now known as G Suite, which uses AI tosuggest action items based on a user’s documents and contacts.

The end goal is to produce software that can streamline users’ processes and sweat out repetitive tasks, ostensibly freeing up the human to do better, more valuable things.

All of this sounds great—who wants to perform drudgery after all?—but there’s a lot of confusion in the discussion. For one thing, there’s a difference between automation and AI. Alan Lepofsky, a principal analyst with the Constellation Group, says one of the biggest issues he has is the overuse (some might say abuse) of the term “AI.”

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter

“For something to be AI, it has to learn. It has to go beyond its programming and improve itself and personalize itself over time,” he tells Fortune. To be fair, Lepofksy thinks some great strides have been made here by the aforementioned companies. But there is so much more to be done.

Some past attempts to make software smarter have gone over like lead balloons, namely Microsoft Clutter. That particular feature of Outlook is being replaced by the new “Focused Inbox.” And then Google already has “Inbox by Google.”

Properly implemented AI could help eliminate the very complexity that software makers themselves have fostered. Who needs even a fraction of all of the fonts and formatting buttons included in Microsoft Word or Excel?

But perhaps the biggest boost AI can provide is keeping people focused on what’s most important. Most people need AI to deal with “context switching,” argues Guy Creese, research vice president for Gartner.

If you are a reporter on deadline but need to make a phone call, and then have to copy and paste text, you can pretty easily get lost in a hairball of tasks. (Or so I’m told.) What if your software could prompt you about what you should do next?

Software like G Suite, which assigns tasks based on the document at hand and who has access to it, could come in handy, Creese points out.

Anything that can help users tame the firehose of information trained on them—from what news reports they read, which Twitter TWTR -4.22% accounts they follow, and which Facebook FB -0.76% posts catch their eyes—could be helpful provided the technology itself is not intrusive and cumbersome. Not to mention that users could be assured all of the information about their reading preferences is not abused by software company.

“I want my computer to tell me what I should be working on every morning,” Lepofsky says. If you are a reporter using Trello to log and track assignments, and you cover social networks, how handy would it be for Trello to serve up a prioritized card to say “Twitter is down” in order to indicate a story might be important based on your past coverage and what you’ve viewed via social media.

Lepofsky goes even further: “I would love to have a universal ‘Create’ button that will, depending on context, prompt me to create an email, a text or phone call based on what’s important to me.”

That sounds pretty good—provided, of course, that you don’t mind being nudged by software.


The ExoMars spacecraft’s crash landing may have been caused by a computer glitch

Europe and Russia’s ExoMars lander may have suffered a computer glitch during its descent to Mars last week, ultimately causing it to crash-land into the planet’s surface, Nature reports. As the lander fell, the mysterious software bug may have caused the vehicle to think it was closer to the ground than it actually was, a lead researcher with the European Space Agency suggests. That may be why the whole landing sequence was thrown out of whack.


It’s just a hunch, so the true cause of the crash is not yet known. But a software error is ultimately good news for the ExoMars mission — a joint venture between the European Space Agency and Roscosmos to search for signs of life on the Red Planet. The crashed lander, called Schiaparelli, was really just a demonstration spacecraft, meant to show that ESA and Roscosmos have the capability to land heavy objects on Mars. A successful landing would have boosted confidence for the next phase of ExoMars — sending a rover on Mars in 2020. But if a computer problem is to blame for Schiaparelli’s demise, that’s a problem that’s easier to fix before 2020 than a hardware issue.

Fortunately for ESA, it looks like Schiaparelli performed many other aspects of its job beautifully. The lander entered the Mars atmosphere exactly on schedule and deployed its parachute when it was supposed to. But over four and a half minutes into the fall, the lander ejected its heat shield and parachute — over half a minute too early. Then the vehicle’s thrusters, meant to slow down the spacecraft even further, ignited for just three seconds when they were supposed to ignite for 30. Given all these failures — and the new crater that NASA spotted at Schiaparelli’s landing site — it’s pretty likely that the lander slammed into the Martian surface way too fast.

All this seems to suggest a software error, says Andrea Accomazzo, who is in charge of ESA’s solar and planetary missions. Accomazzo thinks maybe Schiaparelli had a problem processing all the information it was getting from its sensors. This led the spacecraft to think it was at a lower altitude than it was during the fall, causing many of its landing operations to cut off early.


The ExoMars rover will be using the same software and sensors as Schiaparelli to land on Mars. So if it does turn out to be a computer glitch, then ESA and Roscosmos can hopefully make the necessary updates before the rover’s launch in four years. “If we have a serious technological issue, then it’s different,” Accomazzo tells Nature. “Then we have to re-evaluate carefully. But I don’t expect it to be the case.”

The ExoMars team hopes to virtually re-create Schiaparelli’s landing soon to see if they can pinpoint the origin of the failure.

[Source:-The Verge]

Software Error Implicated in Crash of Mars Lander

Researchers with the ExoMars mission are pointing to a potential computing glitch as the cause of last week’s crash of the Schiaparelli lander. The challenge now will be to isolate and correct the error in hopes of preventing a repeat in 2020, when mission planners aim to land a much larger rover on the Red Planet.

Late last week, NASA released a grim photograph showing what appears to be the crash site of the doomed Schiaparelli lander and its discarded parachute. The lander, if there was ever any doubt, is completely toast, a splotch of burnt and twisted metal on the Martian surface. So instead of proudly carting out a new rover, ExoMars planners with the ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos are now having to figure out what the hell went wrong.

Image: NASA

Unlike the doomed Beagle 2 mission that was lost in 2003, Schiaparelli transmitted its status data to its mother ship—the Trace Gas Orbiter—during its descent. As reported in Nature News, an early look at the data points to a series of cascading software errors as the reason for the botched landing.

By all accounts the descent started well, with the lander decelerating rapidly as it brushed up against the Martian atmosphere, eventually deploying its parachute as planned. But things began to go squirrely just prior to the five-minute mark of the planned six-minute descent.

For reasons that are still a mystery, the lander ejected both its heat shield and parachute way ahead of schedule. Schiaparelli then engaged its thrusters for a painfully brief three-second burst—a procedure that was supposed to last for 30 seconds once the lander was just a few feet off the ground. The lander’s onboard computer, it would appear, seems to have thought it was close to the surface. Indeed, Schiaparelli even took the time to switch on some of its instruments, including tools to record the planet’s weather and electrical field.

The sad reality is that Schiaparelli was still somewhere between 1.25 to 2.5 miles above the surface when this happened, falling at a rate of about 185 mph (300 km/h). It struck the ground with tremendous force, resulting in an explosion—and a brand new surface feature.

ESA’s head of solar and planetary missions, Andrea Accomazzo, suspects a flaw in Schiaparelli’s software, or a problem in integrating the data coming from different sensors. Some kind of glitch misinformed the lander about its position in time and space, causing it to execute landing procedures as if it were at a much lower altitude.

If confirmed, this would actually be good news, as software issues are much easier to correct than hardware problems. Researchers on the ExoMars team are confident in the integrity of Schiaparelli’s hardware, and they’re now hoping to replicate the software error using a simulation.

If and when the glitch is detected, a fix will have to be designed, implemented, and tested. ExoMars planners don’t have much time, as the second and most prominent part of the mission is scheduled for 2020. This first phase was meant as a kind of test-run in preparation for the landing of the larger Russian ExoMars rover. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself in four years time.


How Safe Are Mobile Operating Systems? Not Very!

Enterprise data hack

Just when one thought that mobile devices were safer than the old-fashioned desktops and laptops, the world is telling us that it is actually as unsafe, if not more. Hackers are constantly trying to find that chink in the security armor through which they can break in and compromise data. And, with the bring-your-own device (BYOD) culture fast catching up at the enterprise levels, data security challenges can only go one way – north of where it is now.

When everyone was taking about security threats to the Android OS, Apple users were feeling relaxed in the belief that their iPhones were safe. Now, it is claimed that this frontier can also be breached. Imagine a software such as iOS, which was created with the expertise of developers within a single enterprise like Apple that has security checks in place.

According to VUSec Lab at Vrije Universitiet Amsterdam, just recently discovered a method by which, millions of Android could again be left vulnerable to cyber attacks, whereby flaw in the mobile memory could be exploited. Needlessly to say, all users, including enterprise users are on the defensive, and need to implement policies to tackle the issue.

The attack in question is the Drammer exploit which is based on Rowhammer class of attacks, and specifically targeted at memory chips like DRAM, and has the ability to reach the ‘Root’ of most Android devices, even ones with ARM chips. This new access attack is based on the memory hardware vulnerability, which gives undesired access to the root system of Android devices, using just a simple app, without having to need special permissions to do the hacking.

In fact the research team in Amsterdam claim to have hacked and rooted completely,some high end brands like Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Moto G (2013 & 2014), Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G4, Galaxy S4, and the Oneplus One as well. Victor van der Veen, one of the researchers at Vrije Universitiet, spoke about the biggest challenge, saying “Until recently, we never even thought about hardware bugs [and] software was never written to deal with them. Now, we are using them to break your phone or tablet in a fully reliable way and without relying on any software vulnerability or esoteric feature. And there is no quick software update to patch the problem and go back to business as usual.”

Windows and iOS vulnerabilities

In a recent case, Trident and Pegasus, were 2 major viruses which the Apple team sealed off.But before it actually happened, it could have left significant number of devices exposed to these attacks, even thought eh OS is considered to be the safest pick of the lot from Android and Windows. Brad Anderson, the Microsoft Vice-President for Enterprise and Client Mobility, said,

“This has been a pretty startling wake-up call and a huge reminder that we are all under constant persistent attack, and that any and all platforms and apps have vulnerabilities,” lending testimony to the fact that nearly all of the OS on mobile platform are actually vulnerable. There was a question if he targeted the other rivals OS, but his words signify that it is something which applies to the other OS as well. He added, “I’m not attempting to throw stones at Android or iOS – but there is a dilemma with this perspective.

To be perfectly clear, the dilemma is this:  I know for a fact that all the providers of mobile operating systems go to superhuman lengths to harden their platforms and do everything they can deliver the most secure operating system possible – but this fact also exists in our modern era of digital threats that produce consistent successful attacks despite the incredible efforts of the organizations building these platforms.”


The situation is such, that enterprises and businesses have to stand up to the challenge, but really how? According to Brad Anderson, he suggested 3 basic steps to be undertaken to decrease the level of vulnerability of devices:

1) Companies ought to assume that they have already been hacked, and work accordingly. With the pace at which attacks are coming through, instead of waiting for an actual attack to take place, the operations and technology departments ought to be pre-emptive in their approach, so that they themselves know the vulnerabilities before the hacker enemy does.

2) Use multi-factor authentication wherever possible. This makes the users go through more than a single level of authentication when collaborating with the enterprise systems, thus making vulnerability lower from external attacks, while assuring legitimate entrants, the security of the data, especially that of the cloud.

3) Keeping devices updated is most essential. Hopefully Android, to the annoyance of some, and even iOS and Windows, have been sending across regular patches of software to counter the possible and the existing hacks and data breaches. Even if the hack hasn’t taken place, updating software will ensure that a future possibility in most probability, will be thwarted.


Report: Apple continues hiring from BlackBerry’s QNX team for Canadian R&D office developing car software

Following an earlier report that Apple hired former BlackBerry employee and founder of the company’s QNX operating system, a new Bloomberg story today details Apple’s expansion of an R&D facility in Canada housing dozens of engineers that appear to be working on car related software.

The report points to many hires coming from BlackBerry’s QNX teams, which it notes is currently used as an underlying operating system in over 60 million cars. The team is located in Kanata, Ontario, Canada, the hometown of Blackberry’s QNX where Apple reportedly leased R&D office space back in January:

Apple Inc. has dozens of software engineers in Canada building a car operating system… Many of the engineers working in Canada were hired over the past year and about two dozen came from BlackBerry Ltd.’s QNX, a leading automotive software provider, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing details of a secret project.

It’s unclear exactly what the team is working on at the Canadian office.

In addition to the R&D facility in Canada, Bloomberg offers more details on a group separate from the Canadian office that reportedly continues work on self-driving technologies:

A separate Apple team is developing software that would guide future self-driving cars and run on the operating system… Apple engineers envisioned a heads-up display showing apps such as maps that could be manipulated by the company’s voice-based digital assistant Siri, according to a person familiar with the matter… a self-driving platform simulation group, according to one of the people familiar with the situation. Apple has developed simulators that use virtual reality to test the self-driving software without taking the system onto public roads

Today’s report follows an earlier Bloomberg story claiming that Apple had halted development of its much rumored electric car efforts known as ‘Project Titan’. At the time, the report said the project would be restructured to focus on an autonomous self-driving platform.

[Source:-9 to 5 mac]

Apple Has Dozens of Engineers Working on Car Operating System in Canada


At an Apple research and development facility in Kanata, Canada, Apple has two dozen former BlackBerry QNX employees helping develop a car operating system, reports Bloomberg.

The operating system is described as the “software core” of a future car platform, similar to iOS ormacOS Sierra. It would be the base used to power other software, such as a self-driving car program that’s being developed by a separate Apple team or a rumored heads-up display feature.

The autonomous software was only one of many features once planned to run on the car operating system. For example, Apple engineers envisioned a heads-up display showing apps such as maps that could be manipulated by the company’s voice-based digital assistant Siri, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The BlackBerry employees, who work with dozens of other software engineers at the Canadian location, formerly developed the BlackBerry QNX platform, which powers many in-car infotainment systems. Among those employees is Dan Dodge, who ran BlackBerry’s automotive software division and developed QNX before he joined Apple in July. Dodge is said to have a key role overseeing the development of the software project.

While the Canadian team is developing Apple’s in-car software platform, several other “Project Titan” teams are working on other features. A self-driving platform simulation group, which includes VR expert Doug Bowman, has created simulators that use virtual reality to test Apple’s self-driving software, for example.

Over the course of the last few months, Apple’s car project has shifted focus from building a vehicle to developing a self-driving car system. Apple is said to have shelved its car plans “for now,” and is instead working on a software platform that could allow it to partner with existing carmakers or return to developing its own car in the future.

Hundreds of employees on the car team have been reassigned, laid off, or have left the company since August, just a few months after longtime Apple executive Bob Mansfieldtook over the project. Apple has continued hiring for new software-related positions, however, and executives have given the automotive team until late 2017 to “prove the feasibility” of a self-driving car platform.

[Source:-Mac Rumars]

Apple Said to Develop Car Operating System in BlackBerry Country

Apple Inc. has dozens of software engineers in Canada building a car operating system, a rare move for a company that often houses research and development projects close to its Cupertino, California headquarters, according to people familiar with the matter.

Many of the engineers working in Canada were hired over the past year and about two dozen came from BlackBerry Ltd.’s QNX, a leading automotive software provider, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing details of a secret project.

The engineers now work at an Apple office in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, about a five-minute walk from QNX, the people said. Apple targeted QNX employees because of their experience developing fundamental components of operating systems and power management, a former QNX executive said. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

The most notable Apple hire from QNX was its chief executive officer, Dan Dodge. Since joining Apple’s Project Titan car initiative early this year, he’s taken on a larger role overseeing the car operating system, splitting his time between Canada and California, the people said. Another notable addition is Derrick Keefe, who left QNX last year after more than a decade as a senior engineer, one of the people said.

The car operating system is the software core of a future Apple car platform, in the same way iOS powers the iPhone. A separate Apple team is developing software that would guide future self-driving cars and run on the operating system, one of the people said.

The autonomous software was only one of many features once planned to run on the car operating system. For example, Apple engineers envisioned a heads-up display showing apps such as maps that could be manipulated by the company’s voice-based digital assistant Siri, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The fate of these features depends on Project Titan’s overall strategic direction. Bob Mansfield, who took over the project in April, has given engineers a deadline of next fall to prove the self-driving technology before deciding on next steps, people familiar with the matter have said.

Other Project Titan teams include a self-driving platform simulation group, according to one of the people familiar with the situation. Apple has developed simulators that use virtual reality to test the self-driving software without taking the system onto public roads. That team now includes VR expert Doug Bowman, another person said. He joined Apple in January, according to the Financial Times.

Apple’s moves are a blow to BlackBerry, which often singles out QNX as a key source of future growth. The QNX unit maintains the operating system used in more than 60 million cars, mostly for “infotainment” systems like Ford Motor Co.’s Sync.

In January, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it was working on building out QNX’s operating system so it could be used to run autonomous driving software. And it has signed deals with self-driving car startups like AdasWorks to integrate their technology into QNX.

“We’re in a global world of big technology companies fighting for talent,” Marty Beard, BlackBerry’s chief operating officer, said, when asked about Apple hiring QNX talent. “It’s not surprising.”

Beard said QNX is still growing and its plans to build autonomous-vehicle software are still on track.