A depressing failed experiment convinced Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor that fans wouldn’t ‘do the right thing’ and pay artists for music

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Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor, the genius behind Nine Inch Nails, once hoped that people would choose to pay for music if they knew the money was going directly to the artist.

That notion was shattered by an experience he had when he put his own money on the line on a record he made with New York rapper Saul Williams in 2007.

“I wanted to test out a simple scenario,” Reznor explained in an interview with Vulture. “It went something like this: To my database of people, we sent out a message saying, ‘Here’s a collaborative album I’ve worked on for X amount of time with Saul. Click on this box if you want the full album, not copy-protected, free. I know you can steal it anywhere you want anyway. All I want in return is your email address. Or, click on the box next to it: five dollars; it goes directly to Saul. You can have it for free or you can pay. I’m calling your bluff. Are you going to do the right thing?’”

Out of around 30,000 downloads, less than 20% did the “right thing.” Reznor thought that number would be higher, and said it “took the wind out of my sails as far as thinking of direct-to-customer as a sustainable business for a musician.” He covered the losses. 

It wasn’t all bad, however. It gave Reznor insight into how the music industry, and the way people consume, was changing. Reznor, who was heavily involved in Beats Music, and then Apple Music after the $3 billion acquisition, is convinced that the all-you-can-eat streaming model is the the way to go.

“You’re not making money from albums," he said. "Instead they’re a vessel for making people aware of you. That’s what led me to thinking that a singular subscription service clearly is the only way this problem is going to be solved. If we can convert as many music fans as possible to the value of that, in a post-ownership world, it would be the best way to go.”

And in that world, Reznor said he favors EPs of full-length albums.

“From my impression of how people listen to music now, being a bit more bite-sized fits into people’s lifestyles better. You put an album out now and it’s reviewed, judged, and forgotten in a weekend. If you’re lucky,” he said.

It’s well worth reading the rest of Reznor’s wide-ranging interview over at Vulture.

SEE ALSO: There’s one hauntingly beautiful song from ‘Game of Thrones’ that people love more than the main theme

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Bitcoin grows up and gets its first federally regulated exchange

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Bitcoin is set to be given the same financial safeguards as traditional assets. The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission has granted LedgerX, a cryptocurrency trading platform operator, approval to become the first federally regulated digital currency options exchange and clearinghouse in the US.

Despite reaching dizzying new highs this year — and overtaking the value of gold — Bitcoin has so far gone unregulated. LedgerX’s new role will allow investors to hedge against price swings in digital currencies in the same way that traditional assets are protected.

The move supports the Bitcoin community’s efforts to attract a broader user base while cementing its position in the financial markets — something a number of investment companies and prominent traders are keen to see. LedgerX plans to offer one- to six-month bitcoin-to-dollar options contracts from late September to early October, with plans to add other digital currencies soon after.

Via: Bloomberg

Source: US Commodity Futures Trading Commission

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Syntronik is the new monster softsynth from IK; hear from its creator

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IK Multimedia’s all-new Syntronik isn’t just one vintage synth – it’s up to 38 of those, plus loads of filters and effects, in one plug-in package.

This isn’t the first time IK has offered this sort of “models of everything” approach. But this time, there’s a ground-up approach to modeling original analog circuits, combined with sampling – new engine, new presets. And since there’s a free version, you don’t have to be afraid of commitment before you test drive.

That technological explanation alone doesn’t say that much, though. Part of what makes any synth playable – whether that instrument is analog or digital, hardware or software – is the humans who worked on it.

Erik Norlander, one of the lead sound designers of Syntronik project, makes a particularly special sound programmer. Norlander was the lead on the legendary, multitimbral Alesis Andromeda. When it was released in 2000, analog had largely been abandoned by the mass market – this is two years before even the Minimoog Voyager. In fact, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say the Andromeda was the instrument that changed the course of the industry (well, changed it back again, that is). Unique analog sounds and hands-on controls (rather than digital sound and menu diving) were finally back in the game, paired with a more modern architecture and pitch correction.

That is, even if the Andromeda doesn’t trigger warm, fuzzy feelings, you can thank it at least in part for a lot of the character of synths today.

I’ll even forgive Erik some bias and sales jargon here, because he’s got some points about the IK offering. To find out what he has to say, we’re going to try something different. Norlander and IK talked first to Japan’s IKON Magazine. Here, we have an edited, English-language edition of that interview.

This is an experiment for us, but hopefully allows us to share more content with our friends in Japan at ICON. (The original is at bottom, if you do speak Japanese.)

Erik Norlander. (Photo: Erik Nielsen.)

Full list of synths:

Modular Moog, Minimoog Model D, Moog Voyager, Moog Taurus I, Moog Taurus II, Moog Taurus 3, Polymoog, Moog Opus 3, Moog Rogue, Realistic Concertmate MG-1, Multimoog, Micromoog, Moog Prodigy, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Sequential Circuits Prophet-10, ARP 2600, Oberheim SEM, Oberheim OB-X, Oberheim OB-Xa, Yamaha CS-80, Yamaha GX-1, Yamaha CS-01II, Yamaha SY99, Roland Juno-60, Roland Jupiter-8, Roland Jupiter-6, Roland Jupiter-4, Roland JX-10, Roland JX-8P, Roland JX-3P, Roland TB-303 Bassline, Alesis Andromeda, PPG Wave 2.3, ARP String Ensemble, Elka Rhapsody 490, Hohner String Performer, Roland RS-505 Paraphonic & Roland RS-09 Organ/Strings

CDM English-language ICON.jp article

ICON: Why did you choose to release a vintage synthesizer and string machine instrument as the first virtual instrument after MODO BASS?

Erik Norlander (EN): We want to be the total solution for virtual instruments. To reach this goal, IK has created major updates to our instrument product line, starting with SampleTank 3 in 2014. We released several SampleTank Custom Shop Instrument Collections after this, including the spectacular Cinematic Percussion and Brandenburg Piano. Then we released Miroslav Philharmonik 2, our orchestral / symphonic virtual instrument recording in Prague, along with the follow-on Orchestral Percussion Instrument Collection, recorded in Hollywood, California. MODO Bass is a brilliant product that had been in the works for many years, while developing this amazing new modeling technology.

So, we have covered most acoustic instruments with SampleTank 3, Miroslav Philharmonik and the Custom Shop Instrument Collections, and electric bass with MODO Bass. The next logical step was a synthesizer product to provide our users with the best electronic sounds available. Rather than simply update SampleMoog or Sonik Synth, we took a different approach and made a completely new and far more extensive instrument called Syntronik. Syntronik combines the best of sampling and modeling to recreate our favorite classic synthesizers and take them even farther.

ICON: IK Multimedia has been selling vintage synthesizer instruments like SampleMoog. What are the main differences between Syntronik and those vintage synthesizer instruments released in the past?

EN: First, we should establish that Syntronik is not just a vintage synthesizer instrument. Of course you can get all of the vintage sounds, but Syntronik is a modern instrument intended for creating all kinds of music, including the latest cutting-edge pop and electronica. We have sampled 38 timeless, classic instruments that form the foundation of Syntronik, and then those get processed by our amazing IK modeling technology which includes both classic filter emulations and modern digital filters. Our new DRIFT algorithm adds life to our samples in a truly animated and compelling approach.

We add to this an engineer’s dream collection of effects, including models of the famous Pultec, Urei, Teletronix, Fairchild EQs and limiters, guitar amps and modulation effects including our new Ensemble effect modeled especially for Syntronik. This one recreates the beautiful analog chorus-ensemble effects of the famous ARP String Ensemble, Roland Juno-60 and Roland string machines such as the RS-505 Paraphonic Ensemble. All of this puts Syntronik light years ahead of our past synthesizer products.

IKON: Syntronik is using sampling technology, apart from the modeling of filters and effects. Why didn’t you make it by 100% modeling like MODO BASS?

EN: IK is a leader in both sampling and modeling, and we chose to use the best of both worlds for Syntronik. We have found that the best way to truly capture and recreate the sound of classic analog hardware is to sample it using our finely-tuned recording techniques and editing workflow that has been developed over decades. Modeling can give you more flexibility in some cases, but there is nothing like hearing an audiophile sample of the actual instrument. When you hear our samples of the Oberheim OB-X, it really sounds just like an Oberheim OB-X. Because it is an OB-X. The tone is undeniable. Our DRIFT algorithm removes many of the limitations of sample playback, and the modeled filters and effects add a further dimension.

IKON: How did you choose 38 instruments? Do we have a plan to expand it with more instruments?

EN: We started with the ten most famous classic synthesizers, the Minimoog, the Prophet-5, the CS-80, the SEM, etc. and then we expanded on that base to add related instruments like the Multimoog, Micromoog, Prodigy, Rogue and similar synths that are less known but still sound amazing. In the case of our String Box synth, we started with the most famous string machine, the ARP String Ensemble. Then we expanded that synth with other great string machines, like the Roland RS-505 and RS-09, the Elka Rhapsody, Hohner String Performer, and Univox Multiman, which is a variant of the famous Crumar Orchestrator. We started out with a smaller set, but we just kept adding synths because they sounded so great, and it made sense in the context of the product.

IKON: How did you have those 38 instruments themselves? Were they owned by IK? Or are some of them rented from someone?

EN: I own most of the hardware instruments as you can see in the photo on our Syntronik product page on the IK web site. I sampled a few rarities like the Yamaha GX-1 and then the tiny CS-01 (incidentally, the biggest and smallest synths in the collection!) during other sessions over the years when I could find the opportunity.

IKON: Are all samples included in Syntronik new? Or are you using some samples from previous products like SampleMoog?

EN: 98% of the samples are new. We included some legacy sounds from SampleMoog that I recorded several years ago that we felt were good enough to include in Syntronik. And in some cases, we even went back to the original recording sessions of the SampleMoog material and made larger versions of the keymaps.

IKON: What is the bit depth / sample resolution, — bits/–kHz? Are you using Pro Tools | HDX to record those samples? Could you also tell us which A/D converter are you using?

EN: All of the samples were recorded into MOTU Digital Performer, and the original sessions were done at the highest resolution available. Some downsampling was done in some cases to create more manageable file sizes, where there was no perceivable audio quality loss. In the case of bit depth, in general, the looped, sustaining samples are at 16-bit, since they do not have more amplitude resolution than that and it would be a waste of disk space and memory to keep all 24 bits of data. Our Syntronik internal audio path is 32-bit, so our envelopes have more dynamic range than any DAC can even reproduce! So when our envelopes decay a looped sample to silence, it is with extreme dynamic resolution. Then for the samples that decay to silence, we kept them at 24-bit to preserve the full dynamic range of the sampled analog decays.

IKON: Please explain what is the Drift technology.

EN: DRIFT is a very sophisticated algorithm that the IK team developed after over a year of transcontinental discussions. We debated what it should do, what it should not do, how to do it, and how not to do it. DRIFT modulates multiple aspects of the sound to authentically recreate the behavior of free running oscillators.

On an analog synth, the oscillators are running all the time. It is the envelope that gates them on and off. So unlike a digital sample, the waveform does not always start at a zero crossing. The synth envelope will often catch the wave in the middle or somewhere else in its cycle. Simple sample start point modulation doesn’t quite work for this, because you get clicks when a sample starts far away from its zero crossing, so some kind of smoothing is necessary to recreate the rise time of an analog VCA. Then there’s the famous pitch drifting of analog oscillators that cannot be duplicated by a simple LFO. So using everything we know about sampling and modeling, we came up with an algorithm that combines multiple treatments to a sample to give it the organic life and animation of an analog oscillator. It’s proprietary technology, so I can’t go into more detail than that. But suffice it to say, it sounds amazing.

IKON: When did you start developing Syntronik? What are the biggest challenges to finish making it?

EN: It took less than a year from the time we conceived the product to the time it was released. But we’re building on 20 years of IK Multimedia technology, so we had some pretty amazing resources at our disposal. In this sense, it was not like starting from zero. And many of the samples come from a private, unreleased library that I have been crafting over many years. I was looking for the best time and platform to release the the library, and Syntronik is it.

IKON: There are many virtual instruments of vintage synthesizers in the market. What are the main advantage of Syntronik over those products?

EN: There are so many excellent virtual synthesizers. We love the Spectrasonics, Arturia and UVI products, and so many others. But comparing Syntronik to these is like comparing a Ferrari to a Porsche, or comparing a California Cabernet to an Italian Barbera. They are different approaches borne from different visions and different inspirations. We set out to capture the feel, the style, the essence of our favorite classic synthesizers with a specific sonic intention and present them in a powerful, easy-to-use virtual instrument that would put the real sound of 38 amazing instruments at your fingertips. I really think we achieved that.

IKON: Propellerhead announced to stop selling ReBirth-338 due to some intellectual property issues. We see the names of synthesizers in Syntronik pages. Aren’t you worried about the intellectual property issues?

EN: We are tremendously respectful of the original hardware manufacturers. Moog Music has of course been a partner with us in the past, and we have the highest regard for them as well as Roland, Yamaha, Dave Smith and Sequential, Tom Oberheim and his companies, Wolfgang Palm and PPG, and all the rest. I was the original product manager for the Alesis Andromeda hardware synth, so naturally I have tremendous respect for that brand and product. Our GUIs are all homages to these great hardware synths. They provide visual elements that harken back to the originals and give you the feeling of those great hardware instruments, but they are most definitely not copies of the original designs. And you will never see us using the term “Jupiter” or “Juno” in the product. We have also been very thorough with our legal disclaimers to state who owns which trademark and to clarify non-affiliation when appropriate.

IKON: What’s behind the name Syntronik?

EN: It is the logical next step from our “Philharmonik” product. Both of these instruments end in “ik” which of course is a reference to IK Multimedia. So Philharmonik is the orchestral instrument, and Syntronik is the electronic instrument. Who knows, there may be more of this theme to explore. And in the case of the “Syn” part, this very much follows Bob Moog’s excellent definition of synthesis meaning simply “many parts.” In our case, the “many parts” are the samples, the modeling, the effects and the super-user-friendly graphical experience. “Syn” here does NOT imply “synthetic” — the opposite of organic — or “artificial” in any way. Syntronik is very much a living, breathing musical instrument full of expression and animation.

IKON: Syntronik can be used as SampleTank 3 expansion instruments. Do you have a plan to publish an open SDK so that third party developers can make SampleTank 3 instruments, Native Instruments KONTAKT and UVI Engine?

EN: We are discussing this, and there is a good possibility that we will open up the platform at some point.

IKON: Can you tell us a bit of the update roadmap of Syntronik?

EN: You can of course purchase the full version, which I recommend. The 17 synths in the product were all chosen to be complementary, and we don’t expect any one synth to provide every synth sound you would want.

But you can start with Syntronik Free which includes 50 instruments and 1GB of samples. It is truly free, and it is fully functional — there are no limitations in the functionality, it is only the samples and instrument count that is reduced. And the free version is pretty spectacular, I have to say! If anyone has any doubts about the product, please try the free version, which will give you a very good feeling of the full product. With the free version, you can purchase individual synths, any of the 17, and custom-build your own library. So, if you only are interested in Roland® TB-303-style synth bass sounds or Moog Taurus® pedal-like timbres, you can buy just the T-03 or Bully synths.

IKON: Lastly, please give us a message for IK Multimedia fans in Japan.

EN: Syntronik was a lot of work to create, and it required some very heavy lifting on every side, from the recording to the editing to the modeling to GUI developing to the coding. But it was an exciting and rewarding project, truly a labor of love for all involved. We have a really inspired vision for this product, and we can’t wait for our musicians friends in Japan to play our beautiful instrument. We look forward to hearing the wonderful music you will make with our instrument, and we hope that it inspires you as much as it has inspired us.

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Photos: Erik Nielsen.

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The bestselling author of ‘Getting Things Done’ says he ‘agonized for at least 30 years’ over what to do with his life until a friend’s question changed his thinking

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thinking watching texting resting

David Allen is a 71-year-old productivity consultant and the author of the 2001 book "Getting Things Done." Until his 30s he dreamt about becoming the president of the United States.

That’s what Allen shared in an interview with Caitlin Schiller on Blinkist’s Simplify podcast. Allen told Schiller he’d "agonized for at least 30 years" over what to do with his life — and this paralysis might have continued had he not gotten a wake-up call from a conversation with a close friend.

The friend asked Allen what experience becoming the US president would give him; Allen said he would get the "opportunity to have people’s attention so that I could communicate what I thought was valuable."

The friend asked: "What do you think could you do right now that would start to give you more of that?"

Everyone should be asking themselves a version of this question, Allen told Schiller: "Have as big a fantasy as you can. Say, ‘If I were going to start to move on that right now, what would that look like?’ And then get going."

As for Allen, when his friend asked him what he could do right now to make progress toward his goals, "a lightbulb went off. As opposed to trying to agonize about the perfect thing to do, I thought about what was the essence of what I wanted to experience and what could I do right now to start to move forward on it. And I’ve never looked back."

Somewhat strangely, Allen told Schiller he doesn’t remember the first thing he did to make progress on his goals. What he does remember is the relief he felt when he finally stopped analyzing and waiting for the perfect moment to act.

"Half my life was trying to avoid engaging in anything until it was right," Allen said.

Today, he said, he lives his life like a Silicon-Valley startup. "Get frigging going and then course correct," he said. It’s not always easy, but you "make the best judgment call you can."

Allen’s philosophy sounds a lot like "design thinking," a process developed by Stanford engineers that prizes doing over thinking. A key part of design thinking is prototyping — building your project or developing a plan, even if it’s not perfect right away.

Ultimately, Allen said, it’s about streamlining your life — minimizing anxiety and uncertainty. "Sometimes," he said, "I think people need to get their life much more to that simplicity."

SEE ALSO: Productivity guru David Allen shares his 3 best tricks for saving time

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A Russian billionaire has launched the smallest-ever spacecraft into orbit — a key step to reaching a nearby star system

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breakthrough starshot starchip satellite unlabeled edited photo

  • Breakthrough Starshot, an ambitious project to explore a nearby star system, has launched its first prototypes into orbit.
  • Each "sprite" spacecraft is about the size of a cracker and is equipped with a radio, computer, and other instruments.
  • The feat is a step towards developing even smaller and more capable "starchip" robots.
  • Starchips may be propelled by lasers to the nearby Alpha Centauri star system within two to three decades.

Breakthrough Starshot, a Russian billionaire’s $100-million effort to explore the closest star system to our own, has launched the smallest-ever spacecraft into orbit around Earth.

The six cracker-size robots, called "sprites," are printed circuit boards designed to survive in space. Each one comes equipped with tiny solar panels and two antennas, plus a tiny radio, computer, gyroscope (to move and stabilize the craft), and magnetometer (to orient to Earth’s magnetic field).

Each sprite is wafer-thin, measures about 12 square centimeters (1.9 square inches) in area, and weighs the same amount as four US dollar bills.

As reported by Scientific American, Starshot launched six of the sprites on June 23 aboard two European satellites on an Indian-built rocket.

"This is a very early version of what we would send to interstellar distances," Pete Worden, a former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center and Starshot’s executive director, told SciAm.

pslv 38 india rocket satellite launch isro

Two of Starshot’s sprites are attached to  small educational nanosatellites: the Venta (operated by Latvia) and the Max Valier (operated by Italy). Four more await deployment inside the Max Valier, according to SciAm.

"The spacecraft are in radio communication with ground stations in California and New York, as well as with amateur radio enthusiasts around the world," a Starshot press release said. "This mission is designed to test how well the Sprites’ electronics perform in orbit, and demonstrates their novel radio communication architecture."

The fact that they seem to work in space is a big advance for Breakthrough Starshot — an ambitious, decades-long project announced in April 2016 by Stephen Hawking and Russian physicist and venture capitalist Yuri Milner.

The ultimate goal, perhaps within the next 20 to 30 years, is to propel even smaller spaceships, called "starchips," to 20% the speed of light with powerful, Earth-based lasers.

"Life in the universe does not only mean extraterrestrial life … it means us," Milner said at the time. "Can we reach the stars? Can we do it in our lifetimes?"

Sailing to the stars

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Breakthrough Starshot’s general target is Alpha Centauri, the closest system of stars to Earth, which is located about 4.37 light-years (25.7 trillion miles) away.

Within that system, researchers are eyeing Proxima Centauri: a red dwarf star that’s about 1 trillion miles closer than two other stars in the system.

Proxima Centauri is thought to harbor an Earth-size planet, called Proxima b, in its Goldilocks-like habitable zone.

"A spacecraft equipped with a camera and various filters could take color images of the planet and infer whether it is green (harboring life as we know it), blue (with water oceans on its surface) or just brown (dry rock)," Avi Loeb, a physicist at Harvard University and a Starshot mission advisory committee chair, told Business Insider in 2016.

Alpha Centauri.The photos of Proxima b would take at least 4.24 years — the distance in light-years from here to the star — to get back to Earth.

Milner said in April 2016 that Starshot will start out as a $100 million engineering proof-of-concept to design, build, launch, and propel a small fleet of starchips to Alpha Centauri in about 25 years’ time.

Each starchip will contain a laser-light sail for propulsion. "This is the Silicon valley approach to spaceflight," Milner said at the time.

The starchips will be built out of a "gram-scale" silicon wafer that’s "carrying cameras, photon thrusters, power supply, navigation and communication equipment, and constituting a fully functional space probe," Milner added.

starshot laser array breakthrough prize

Moving each starchip along will be a "Lightsail" propulsion unit. An array of powerful lasers called a "beamer" will take aim at the Lightsails, accelerating each tiny spacecraft to more than 134 million mph.

Loeb previously said that the next five to 10 years of the project — and most of the $100 million — will be focused on proving that the laser propulsion idea actually works. They’ll need it to function as way to "potentially launch hundreds of cheap, gram-scale spacecrafts per year."

Starshot wants to launch hundreds of starchips because there’s safety in numbers: At 20% the speed of light, hitting even the tiniest speck of space dust could obliterate a robot.

proxima"This will allow us to send a fleet of probes towards Proxima that could relay the images taken back to Earth more easily (from one spacecraft to the next along the line of sight to Proxima)," he said.

Even if the mission is a smashing success, Starshot may discover that Proxima b doesn’t support life. Loeb said it’s important to explore the not-so-distant world regardless.

"The lifetime of Proxima is several trillion years, almost a thousand times longer than the remaining lifetime of the Sun," he said. "Hence, a habitable rocky planet around Proxima would be the most natural location to where our civilization could aspire to move after the Sun will die, five billions years from now." (At least one sci-fi author thinks this is a horrible idea.)

A wealthy fan of space exploration

yuri milner starshot nanocraft associated pressMilner’s fascination with space and science runs deep.

The first man in space was cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin — who Milner has said he was named after.

Milner has also spent big money on science initiatives before, saying he wants to celebrate "intellectual achievement" in the same way we celebrate artistic and athletic prowess.

The Russian billionaire philanthropist has collaborated with Hawking in the past — in July 2015, the two announced a $100 million plan, called "Breakthrough Listen," to search the stars for intelligent extraterrestrial life.

Milner was working on a PhD in physics before he became a Silicon Valley investor. He earned his fortune investing in companies like Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and Groupon.

Today he funds some of the biggest science prizes out there, including the Breakthrough Prize, which Mark Zuckerberg also supports.

Kevin Loria and Lauren Friedman contributed to this post.

SEE ALSO: Why dim red stars may be our best hope of finding aliens

NEXT: A Russian billionaire has a crazy plan to reach a nearby planet that might harbor life

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NOW WATCH: How these laser-propelled robots could bring us to a star 25 trillion miles away

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Amid Chaos, We’re About to Get a Whole New Kind of Bitcoin

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Less than a week ago, headlines declared that a market-shaking fork in Bitcoin had been averted. But the people backing a new cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Cash have now announced that the expected compromise between warring factions is dead. Next week, the huge Bitcoin fork will begin and here’s what it’s all about.

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Unknown hackers made off with an estimated $32 million in hot cryptocurrency Ether, one of the most …

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The debate over a so called “hard fork” in Bitcoin has been going on for two years. The world’s most valuable cryptocurrency is getting older and it’s reached highs of more than $2,600 in recent months. From the beginning, it has had defined limits on how much data the Bitcoin network can process every 10 minutes. This was, in part, to keep a check on the speed of its growth and to serve as a security measure against cyber attacks. But some Bitcoin miners have become frustrated with the sluggish pace of the cryptocurrency. Blocks of transactions are required to be less than one megabyte and around five transactions are processed each second. In recent weeks, traders have faced up to seven hours in wait times for a single transaction according to activity tracker blockchain.info’s data.

Supporters of the new Bitcoin Cash (BCC) want a larger data cap on blocks. This would mean more coins being mined and more transactions being processed in a short amount of time. According to the New York Times, the BCC team is made up of mining investors and entrepreneurs that are largely based in Asia.

On the old school Bitcoin team, you have a group of people known as the core developers. This decentralized set of programmers maintain the software behind bitcoin and they’ve opposed increasing the data cap per block. The biggest argument against the increase is that it would put smaller miners at a disadvantage against the well-funded mega-miners.

Anyone can use a server to process and verify Bitcoin transactions. These miners are rewarded with Bitcoin based on how many transactions they process. It’s an expensive and time-consuming game. Hobbyists will be lucky to crank out a single bitcoin in a month but major mining operations like ViaBTC run huge server farms that can exponentially outpace the small fries.

The compromise that was so recently considered to be a done deal involved the core developers agreeing to implement a system called Segregated Witness or SegWit. This software update to standard Bitcoin is set to be implemented in August and will gradually increase the maximum block size. While the New York Times claims that the core developers do not intend to make any size increases in the “coming months,” the original compromise was to up the data cap to two megabytes by November. SegWit maxes out at 4MB blocks and its implementation is still planned to move forward. One thing that will stall SegWit’s deployment is that 95 percent of the network has to signal its support first. This is to prevent a different fork that would naturally occur if some people switch to a new client and leave others behind.

Yes, the details of this stuff are complicated. But the fundamentals really aren’t. Bitcoin supporters want to keep the scaling modest and cautious. BCC supporters want to go go go. There are also political and philosophical differences surrounding what Bitcoin is supposed to mean for the everyman.

Bitcoin Cash is promising an immediate increase on the block size limit to 8MB and it will leave room for future increases. This should speed up transaction times and hopefully take care of a couple other issues that have raised complaints in the community. BCC organizers have also assured everyone that they will immediately be able to convert their Bitcoins into the equivalent BCC, but there’s a catch. If your Bitcoins are stored with a third-party exchange, you’ll have to talk to them about the implementation. They could decide to not deal with BCC at all. The short term solution is for Bitcoin holders to take control of their private keys before the August 1st launch.

To be clear, those who want to make the exchange, in the beginning, should be able to trade one Bitcoin for one Bitcoin Cash. As time goes on, the exchange rate will change.

What does all this mean for the future? No one can really say for sure. It’s likely that there will be a large-scale flight from Bitcoin to BCC and major investors like Roger Ver have said that they’ll be throwing their full weight behind the new cryptocurrency. BCC is already trading future contracts at a cost of about $400. That’s significantly cheaper than Bitcoin and the original’s price will have to be reevaluated.

Keep in mind that physical currencies have weathered forks, and Bitcoin’s closest competitor, Ether, forked last month. Both Ether and Ether Classic have gone higher than the pre-fork price. Some fan sites like Should I Sell My Bitcoin just automatically return an answer of “No” at all times. We’ll see if this fork changes those enthusiasts’ minds.

[New York Times]

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Astronomers Capture Wild Intergalactic Gamma Ray Burst As it Happens

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Snapshot of burst via S.Karpov, G.Beskin (SAO RAS and Kazan Federal University, Russia), S.Bondar, E.Ivanov, E.Katkova, N.Orekhova, A.Perkov (OJS RPC PSI, Russia), A.Biryukov (SAI MSU and Kazan Federal University, Russia), V.Sasyuk (Kazan Federal University, Russia)

On June 25, 2016 at 6pm ET, a flash of visible light appeared in the sky that, depending on your location, could have been visible with binoculars. It wasn’t a plane or a star: it was a gamma ray burst, one of the most violent kinds of explosions in the universe, from a source 9 billion light years away, possibly a black hole. And you’re afraid of explosions here on Earth? That’s cute.

This gamma ray burst, named GRB 160625B, was special. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope gamma ray burst monitor picked it up, and just three minutes later its Large Area Telescope started monitoring the location. The telescope watched the light show happen live and evolve over time. That was a new type of observation that could help scientists understand exactly what causes these massive bursts.

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“It’s the first measurement of this type,” study author Eleonora Troja, scientist from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, told Gizmodo. “We managed to achieve very good results because the explosion was really bright.”

Just four minutes after the initial detection, the MASTER-IAC telescope in Tenerife, Spain picked up one of the explosion’s most exciting features: the optical light (the stuff our eyes can see) seemed to be polarized. Unpolarized light vibrates in random directions perpendicular to the direction it moves. Polarized light waves vibrate only in one direction, like up and down or left and right. Think about a polarized lens: It only lets light vibrating in one direction through, so if you stack lenses up and they aren’t aligned properly, no light gets through and they turn black.

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But this is more than just an interesting observation. This light most likely originated from collimated jets of particles spewing from a young black hole. The polarized nature of the light means that the area around the black hole could have had a strong magnetic field, which would be an important piece of information missing from observations but present in theories, said Troja. “That’s the only thing that can explain the polarization and all the data we collected.” The researchers published their results today in the journal Nature.

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Others were excited about the results. Astronomer Nissim Fraija from the National Autonomous University of Mexico told Gizmodo “it’s exciting to learn about the structure of magnetic field at an early stage of the jet” coming from the black hole.

“The detection of polarization in a prompt emission of a gamma ray burst is a big deal,” astrophysicist Alexander Tchekhovskoy from the University of California told Gizmodo. “We actually don’t understand what causes the optical emissions of gamma ray bursts,” or whether the visible light and gamma rays originate from the same place.

Tchekhovskoy reminded me that GRBs are complex—the jet of energy still must pass through the medium around its source, which creates shock waves traveling forward and backwards. Those shock waves could be where the visible light comes from. He pointed out that this is beautiful data that presents a compelling argument, but it was also a difficult observation with lots of moving pieces.

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“It’s an exciting possibility that the optical emission actually comes from the same places as the gamma rays,” he said, “If we detect more of these we’ll be able to say for certain if this is a rule rather than the exception.”

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Troja herself said that there are other theories to what causes the GRBs, like maybe neutron stars instead, but thought that explanations have been converging on the idea that they come from black hole-based processes. She also pointed out that the observation is limited by the strength of the telescopes and amount of data collection time.

But regardless, there’s no doubt that GRB160625B is special.

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“Any amateur astronomer with just binoculars looking in the right part of the sky could have recorded the explosion,” said Troja. “It was really really bright, and it also lasted for a very long time… it was such a unique event.”

[Nature]

from Gizmodo http://bit.ly/2w0DtYl
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AMD: Cryptocurrency mining won’t be a ‘long-term growth driver’ (AMD)

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AMDAMD released its quarterly earnings after the bell Tuesday and the stock took off.

A beat on earnings and revenue, coupled with a higher than expected forecast for the rest of the year, sent AMD’s stock up about 8%.

In the earnings call following the company’s release, Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, said something surprising.

"Relative to cryptocurrency, we have seen some elevated demand," Su said. "But it’s important to say we didn’t have cryptocurrency in our forecast, and we’re not looking at it as a long-term growth driver. But we’ll certainly continue to watch the developments around the blockchain technologies as they go forward."

Su said that despite a boost in graphics processing unit sales due to increased demand from cryptocurrency miners, the company wouldn’t focus on the exploding market.

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum have grown by headline-setting margins this year. Miners are those who lend their often specially-built computers to the cryptocurrency networks to help with complex computing required to verify payments on the platforms. Miners have been buying up lots of GPUs recently in an attempt to make their computers faster and grab a larger portion of the growing cryptocurrencies.

"If you look at GPUs across the world, the inventory in the channel is actually quite lean. And so we’re working on replenishing that inventory," Su said. "Our priority, though, really is on our core market, which is the gaming market."

Nvidia, AMD’s biggest competitor, is taking the opposite approach. The company is developing a mining specific chip that directly addresses the growing market. A product page for an unreleased Nvidia-based card says a mining-specific chip can increase the hash rate by 36% compared to other general purpose cards.

Cryptocurrencies are notoriously volatile, with hundred dollar moves in the price of Bitcoin the norm, rather than the exception. The currencies have generally been increasing in value but the volatility could greatly affect demand for GPUs as interest wanes with declines prices.

Su addressed this concern, saying that AMD is "doing quite a bit to make sure that [it] protects against any downside as it relates to cryptocurrency," which could also be a reason AMD isn’t developing a mining specific card. "We’re ensuring that we’re not over-calling the demand," Su added.

AMD is up 34.66% this year.

Click here to watch AMD’s stock price in real time…

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SEE ALSO: AMD spikes after earnings beat

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Don’t Let People Kiss Your Newborn   

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Photo: makelessnoise/Flickr

After noticing that their newborn daughter was so lethargic that she couldn’t eat, her parents, Nicole and Shane Sifrit, rushed her to the hospital. There, less than two weeks later, baby Mariana died. Her funeral took place on Monday.

Doctors told the Sifrits that Mariana had contracted herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which led to the complication of meningitis. It is believed she acquired the illness from a kiss from someone who had the cold sore virus, and may or may not have known it.

Nicole, who has been chronicling the tragic ordeal on Facebook, had this advice for other parents: Don’t let anyone kiss your newborn baby.

The warning may sound harsh—babies are highly smoochable creatures—but is echoed by medical professionals. Newborns have immature immune systems, so viruses and bacteria that cause mild illnesses in children and adults can cause severe illnesses in their tiny, vulnerable bodies. About 70 percent of all American adults are infected with HSV-1 and may carry the virus in their saliva at any time during their lifetime, even if they don’t have symptoms. While meningitis caused by bacteria or herpes is rare, occurring in less than 1 out of 1,000 live births, a kiss on a baby’s mouth, or possibly anywhere on the skin, can be extremely dangerous.

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Here are some guidelines for parents with a newborn:

  • Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching the baby.
  • Don’t let anyone kiss the baby until he or she is six weeks old—by that point, a baby’s immune system should be strong enough that the risk of a life-threatening infection from a virus like herpes is nearly negligible.
  • Only let those who feel 100 percent healthy visit your baby (anyone with “a little sore throat” should come back at another time).
  • Watch for any signs of HSV infections in newborns, including sores on the mouth, tongue, gums, lips, or throat, along with aches, fever, trouble breathing, swollen lymph nodes, or lethargy. If you notice symptoms, contact your medical provider immediately.

from Lifehacker http://bit.ly/2uCdoiT
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