This image of gridlock traffic in LA makes Uber’s plans for flying cars seem like a great idea

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CNN LA thanksgiving traffic

  • CNN posted an aerial video of gridlock traffic in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening.
  • AAA predicts that 89% of all Thanksgiving travelers will use their cars this year.
  • Uber’s plan to introduce flying cars to Los Angeles in 2020 could help relieve highway congestion.

Los Angeles is known for having bad traffic, but nothing compares to the days before Thanksgiving. After being named the most congested city in the world in October, L.A.’s highways are being put to the test as families try to get a head start on their Thanksgiving travel. On Wednesday, CNN posted an aerial video of the near-standstill traffic drivers are facing as they try to leave the city on Tuesday evening:

While Los Angeles residents will have a difficult time traveling this Thanksgiving, they won’t be alone. AAA predicts this year will see 50.9 million Americans traveling at least 50 miles away from their homes, the largest number since 2005. And 89% of all Thanksgiving travelers—45.5 million—will travel by car.

All of this might make Uber’s recently announced plans to introduce a fleet of flying cars appealing to Los Angeles commuters. While there are plenty of technological and regulatory hurdles the company will have to overcome, Uber hopes to begin testing its flying cars by 2020

SEE ALSO: The best and worst times to travel this Thanksgiving, according to Google data

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NOW WATCH: Uber created a fake ‘city’ to test out its self-driving cars

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This Bitcoin Developer Is About to Take on the Mining Hardware Industry

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BtcDrak, the most active pseudonymous Bitcoin Core contributor to date, is making a move into the mining hardware industry. The developer, who besides having contributed to the Bitcoin Core repository also maintains the bitcoincore.org website and the Bitcoin Core Community Slack channel, has helped set up ASIC chip manufacturing company Halong Mining over the past year. The startup has now produced an initial batch of mining hardware and plans to ship to consumers in early 2018.

“We started a mining project with the aim to bring much needed competition to the market,” BtcDrak told Bitcoin Magazine. “We want to ‘make SHA256 great again.’”

The Miners

Halong Mining is launching a production line that consists of one machine for now: the DragonMint 16T. The miner — its name references the Dragon’s Den, an (in)famous private chat channel on the Bitcoin Core Community Slack — is equipped with newly designed chips and can produce a total of 16 terahashes per second. Importantly, BtcDrak claims that the machines are about 30 percent more energy efficient than the most efficient ASIC miner on the market right now, Bitmain’s AntMiner S9.

“The DragonMint will be the most advanced miner to date,” he said.

The main bottleneck to entering the ASIC market is typically capital: developing specialized chips from scratch is expensive. While BtcDrak preferred not to disclose much information about Halong Mining for now, he did note that the machines have been produced by a team with “serious expertise.”

According to the developer, Halong Mining has invested $30 million in research and development so far, with over 100 people involved, including chip designers, electronics hardware specialists and software designers.

“Research and development is not cheap, and we need a lot of diverse skills,” BtcDrak explained.

Halong Mining has now produced an initial batch of DragonMint machines, though these are still just prototypes for testing and fine-tuning. They will not be sold to the public due to risk of reverse engineering, BtcDrak said, though he emphasized that the machines are working.

“Other companies that want to enter the ASIC mining industry develop everything in simulations, and then the first presale batch tries to pay for small production. But the NRE [non-recurring engineering] and making wafers is fraught with difficulty; the first run is not easy to do well.”

Halong Mining published a video of a DragonMint on YouTube today. BtcDrak thinks the first mass-produced run of DragonMint miners will happen within about four months and begin to ship in March of 2018.

Apart from the DragonMint machines, Halong Mining will also be selling mining chips separately, in bulk.

The Competition

With the introduction of DragonMint miners, Halong Mining will offer an alternative for Bitmain’s mining hardware, which has dominated the market for the past few years. An estimated 70 percent or more of the hash power on the network today is produced by Bitmain machines, and around half of all hash power is pointed to mining pools that are either owned by or closely affiliated with Bitmain, such as AntPool, BTC.com, ConnectBTC and ViaBTC.

“One manufacturer as a monopoly is not good for Bitcoin,” BtcDrak said. “Centralization in mining is a problem regardless of how benevolent you are. If there is a center, then governments and criminals can attack it. Decentralization protects the entire system and all its participants. So I wanted to bring competition.”

Bitmain in particular has also not made itself popular within segments of the Bitcoin community over the past years. The Chinese ASIC manufacturer was at the center of the AsicBoost and Antbleed controversies, and perhaps more importantly, some speculate that the company exerted its influence over the mining ecosystem by allowing or limiting hardware sales based on how hash power from the machines was used. Bitmain has always denied this is the case, however.

Halong Mining wants to distribute ASIC miners “far and wide to help decentralize mining,” BtcDrak said, adding that the company is considering open sourcing its board designs and software. This would help new manufacturers get a foothold in the industry, building on the research already done by Halong Mining over the past year.

BtcDrak concluded:

“There is a lot at stake here. A lot of time and money has been invested … and we have a huge opportunity to bring more diversity to Bitcoin mining, and in turn help secure the network more.”

from Bitcoin Magazine http://bit.ly/2jf5zu5
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How to Cultivate Everyday Gratitude in Kids

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Photo by SNAPAVELLI from nappy.co 

By now, we know how important it is to instill a sense of gratitude in our children—according to the book Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character, those who practice thankfulness get better grades, have a lower risk of depression, and are more engaged in their hobbies and communities. And we’re trying. Around the parenting sphere, there are countless posts about teaching kids to write thank-you letters, start gratitude journals, toss their daily joys into the gratitude jar, and list their blessings at the dinner table. All are completely worthwhile rituals. It seems like parents are becoming really intentional about cultivating gratitude in their homes—or at least about writing about it on the internet. As a mom, I sure would like to become more disciplined in this area. Who wouldn’t?

But teaching kids about gratitude isn’t just sitting down for these heartwarming gestures. It’s more. There are opportunities to teach the skill in all sorts of everyday interactions. Here’s how to help your children harness more gratitude in ways beyond the literal counting of blessings:

Start modeling gratitude early. Really early.

“Thank you for letting me change your diaper. Would you please put your arms down so I can put on your bib? Thank you.” It may sound a little silly, but writer Emily Plank gives these examples to show how moms and dads can model gratitude to even the littlest beings. At this age, it may be more about shaping your own mindset and helping you understand that from the very beginning, you are connecting with a person who is paying close attention to what you say and how you say it. Show them respect and gratitude, as they grow up, they will do the same for you.

Have them chop the veggies.

Susan Roberts, author of My Kid Eats Everything, told The Atlantic that kids today have horrible diets because they are just being “fed.” In the past, as the article describes, “kids joined families in the kitchen, helping to prepare food, setting the table, clearing the table, and washing the dishes.” Before that, they even helped catch the family’s meals. Modern passivity has dissolved kids’ awareness of what goes into the food on their plate, so how can they be grateful for it? Involve kids in the whole process. Bring them with you to the grocery store. Show them your budget. Have them chop all the veggies. Let them know that food doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, and there is a finite amount of it.

If they lose or break their favorite toy, don’t replace it.

In this just-buy-a-new-one culture, it’s easy for kids to lose their sense of value for the things they have. I know that to quell my daughter’s sobbing, I’ve said, “It’s okay, we can get another one,” to I don’t even remember what. A dropped cookie? An Elmo? If she knew that were the only one she were getting, she might have been more grateful—and careful. Here’s a good reminder from Becoming Minimalist: “Kids who get everything they want believe they can have everything they want.”

Role-play potentially complicated social situations

Getting kids to say “thank you” shouldn’t become a power struggle (more on that in the next section), but it’s important to teach them basic manners. That includes prepping them for situations where they might receive a gift (or food or something else) that they don’t like. As Plank explains, “it’s unfair to expect a child to say ‘thank you’ for a gift she doesn’t want if we haven’t prepared her for that possibility. We are raising children to be truthful.”

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She gives examples of how to practice saying no to kind gestures with gratitude:

Unwanted Food: Pretend you’re at a birthday party and Stephen offers you something you don’t like. If you say, “Yuck! I don’t like that!” it might hurt his feelings, or it might hurt the feelings of the other people at the table who do like it. Whenever you don’t want to eat what is offered to you, saying, “I don’t care for that. Thank you,” is a way you can communicate what you want and not hurt the cook’s feelings.

Don’t let “Say thank you” become a power struggle.

It’s a tough balance, because as much as you want to hear your kid to say thank you to the waiter who served her dinner, or the neighbor who picked up her ball, prompts like “What do you say?” can lead to annoyance and resentment. This issue is a big one for me because my four-year-old always shies away when any adult she doesn’t know tries to talk to her, even when they’re doing something nice. And when she doesn’t say thank you, I fume inside. But the best thing to do is keep practicing and modeling gratitude, and not force it upon kids. I liked the philosophy of Larissa Kosmos, who wrote the Washington Post piece, “I stopped forcing my kids to say thank you, and they learned true gratitude.”

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“I launched a new habit in situations when someone deserves thanks: I illuminate for my children what has just transpired,” Kosmos writs. “For example, I’ll say, ‘Dad spent time fixing your toy instead of relaxing’ or ‘The librarian left the work at her desk to help you find that book.’ Instead of cuing words to be spoken, I’m aiming to trigger something deeper and more meaningful—awareness.”

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Snips lets you build your own voice assistant to embed into your devices

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French startup Snips is now helping you build a custom voice assistant for your device. Snips doesn’t use Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service or Google Assistant SDK — the company is building its own voice assistant so that you can embed it on your devices. And the best part is that it doesn’t send anything to the cloud as it works offline.

If you want to understand how a voice assistant works, you can split it into multiple parts. First, it starts with a wakeword. Snips has a handful of wakewords by default, such as “Hey Snips,” but you can also pay the company to create your own wakeword.

For instance, if you’re building a multimedia robot called Keecker, you can create a custom “Hey Keecker” hot word. Snips then uses deep learning to accurately detect when someone is trying to talk to your voice assistant.

The second part is automatic speech recognition. A voice assistant transcribes your voice into a text query. Popular home assistants usually send a small audio file with your voice and use servers to transcribe your query.

Snips can transcribe your voice into text on the device itself. It works on anything that is more powerful than a Raspberry Pi. For now, Snips is limited to English and French. You’ll have to use a third-party automatic speech recognition API for other languages.

Then, Snips needs to understand your query. The company has developed natural language capabilities. But there are hundreds, or even thousands of different ways to ask a simple question about the weather for instance.

That’s why Snips is launching a data generation service today. I saw a demo yesterday, and the interface looks like Automator on macOS or Workflow on iOS. You define some variables, such as “date” and “location”, you define if they are mandatory for the query and you enter a few examples.

But instead of manually entering hundreds of variations of the same query, you can pay $100 to $800 to let Snips do the work for you. The startup manually checks your request then posts it on Amazon Mechanical Turk and other crowdsourcing marketplaces. Finally, Snips cleans up your data set and sends it back to you.

You can either download it and reuse it in another chatbot or voice assistant, or you can use it with Snips’ own voice assistant. You can also make your capability public. Other Snips users can add this capability to their own assistant by browsing a repository of pre-trained capabilities.



A Snips voice assistant typically requires hundreds of megabytes but is quite easy to update. After installing the Snips app on your device, you just need to replace a zip library file to add new capabilities.

You also need to implement the actual actions. Snips only translates what someone is saying into a parsable query. For instance, Snips can understand that “could you please turn on the bedroom light?” means “light + bedroom + on.” A developer still needs to implement the action based on those three parameters.

Developers are already playing with Snips to test its capabilities. But the company hopes that big device manufacturers are going to embed Snips into their future products. Eventually, you could think about a coffee maker with a Snips voice assistant.

Compared to Amazon’s or Google’s wide-ranging assistants, Snips thinks that you don’t need to embed a complete voice assistant into all your devices. You only want to tell your Roomba to start vacuuming — no need to let you start a Spotify playlist from your vacuum cleaner.

This approach presents a few advantages when it comes to privacy and network effects. Big tech companies are creating ecosystem of internet-of-things devices. People are buying lightbulbs, security cameras and door locks that work with the Amazon Echo for instance.

But if you can talk to the devices themselves, you don’t need to hook up your devices with a central home speaker — the central hub disappears. If voice assistants are more than a fad, Snips is building some promising technology. And Snips could get some licensing revenue for each device that comes with its voice assistant.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

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Maroon 5 and Jimmy Fallon gave subway commuters the best surprise

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Even when Adam Levine is wearing an unrecognisable disguise, he can still draw a crowd.

For a segment on The Tonight Show, Maroon 5 and Jimmy Fallon took to the NYC subway for a spot of busking. They kicked things off with an incognito rendition of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", before abruptly whipping off their disguises and launching straight into "Sugar".

We imagine the only people who wouldn’t have enjoyed the surprise were the subway security team who had to deal with that massive crowd. Read more…

More about The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Fallon, Surprise, Adam Levine, and Maroon 5

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