Google Maps now highlights busy neighborhoods

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Google Maps shows you the hot spots.

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Google Maps now highlights busy neighborhoods originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Jul 2016 10:17:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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NTSB preliminary report: Tesla was speeding, Autopilot engaged

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Model S was going 74 mph in a 65 mph zone.

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NTSB preliminary report: Tesla was speeding, Autopilot engaged originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 26 Jul 2016 15:12:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hyundai analyzes 12 trends that will shape the world of 2030

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The world will change, and mobility will evolve right along with it.

Continue reading Hyundai analyzes 12 trends that will shape the world of 2030

Hyundai analyzes 12 trends that will shape the world of 2030 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 23 Jul 2016 13:45:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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TBS is giving ‘Overwatch’ its own $300,000 tournament

Esports are taking over mainstream broadcast networks as an Overwatch tournament is coming to TBS.

Turner Broadcasting System’s Eleague organization, in conjunction with FaceIt, announced today the two are partnering for a special Overwatch tournament, offering a $300,00 prize pool for winners. Currently it’s set to begin on July 23rd with online rounds for both North American and European teams alike.

The Grand Finals are set to be broadcast via TBS and Twitch on September 30th, with the winning team taking home $100,000 as the grand prize.

This isn’t the first time Eleague has set up a special tournament for a popular online game, with May’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive bringing in viewers and showing off yet another way that esports are infiltrating our everyday media. With Overwatch’s overwhelming popularity across the gaming sphere, it seems like a no-brainer to invite viewers and participants.

Via: VentureBeat

from Engadget

Google’s New App Brings Hundreds of Museums to Your Phone

Not everyone can visit Sicily’s Valley of the Temples, home to some of the world’s oldest examples of classic Greek architecture. Nor can they view the soft colors of Claude Monet’s “Tiger Lilies” in person at Tokyo’s National Museum of Western Art. Despite being made for the masses, art and culture are often inaccessible. Google’s Cultural Institute wants to change that. In the past five years, the initiative has teamed up with more than 1,100 institutions to bring artwork, artifacts, and 360-degree museum tours online. This week, in an update to its Arts & Culture app, the company turns your phone into a powerful portal for accessing and experiencing that art.

The app (for Android and iOS) officially launched last year, but the newest iteration comes with two key additions: Google Cardboard tours for 2o locations (including the Valley of the Temples), and a new tool called Art Recognizer that turns your museum visit into a multimedia experience.


The VR tours let you explore locations by clicking forward and backwards along a predetermined route, while an audio track narrates what you’re looking at. It’s more engaging than the 360-degree browser tours Google has created in the past, but the Cardboard experience still leaves you yearning to visit the location in real life.“There’s no such thing as a replacement of an in-person visit,” says Luisella Mazza, head of operations at the Cultural Institute.

For those IRL visits, you’ll want to use Art Recognizer, an experimental new feature that helps visitors learn more about the art they’re looking at while wandering through a museum. Recognizer—which is currently in beta at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC—works by pointing your phone’s camera at a piece of art. Google’s software recognizes the work and surfaces related information—audio, video, background on the artist, etc—on your phone.

Its intelligent, on-demand functionality makes Art Recognizer the latest entrant in a new crop of low-friction museum apps designed to do away with keypads—an interface that has dominated audio tours for more than half a century. Mazza says the major distinction between Art Recognizer and other audio tours is that it doesn’t require visitors to follow a prescribed path through the museum. “It’s hopefully less linear, and more instant,” she says.


Google hopes these new features will help all museumgoers (virtual or otherwise) draw connections between the vast repository of artistic, cultural, and historic artifacts dispersed throughout the world’s museums. Mazza points to Van Gogh’s masterpiece “The Bedroom,” an early draft of which the artist once included in a letter to his brother. Why would you separate this letter from the final painting? You wouldn’t, Mazza says. “One is history, and one is art. But really it’s part of the same cultural experience.” Google already highlights these connections to an extent. For example, clicking on Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” will hyperlink you to the letter, which is handy enough. But just imagine, at some point in the future, if alongside the text and pictures of the artwork, you could use cardboard to explore Arles, France, the city in Provence where Van Gogh’s yellow house once stood. You might not be standing in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, but we have to admit, this doesn’t sound like terrible alternative.


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from Wired Top Stories

Tail Docking and Ear Cropping Affect Dogs, and Not Just Physically

Just when you think you know a thing or two about dogs, there I was in Italy a few weeks ago after the Canine Science Forum, looking at a dog on the street and exclaiming, “Who the heck is that!” 

“A Doberman!” offered my good friend and Do You Believe in Dog? colleague, Mia Cobb.

“Really?” I said in disbelief. Because it was true. I’d never seen a dog that looked like that. Every Doberman I’ve seen has looked like this:

Dog with docked tail and cropped ears. Credit: Figure 2. Mills et al (2016)

Not like this:

Same dog, but natural. Credit: Figure 2. Mills et al (2016)

The bottom image, of course, is the Doberman in her natural form. A dog born from two Dobermans will grow up to look like the bottom image. But the Dobermans I’ve seen have had two post-birth surgeries; their tails are shortened or docked, and the floppy part of each ear is cut, followed by the ears being taped to a hard surface forcing them to stand upright in a way they normally would not.

These cosmetic surgeries (also referred to by veterinarians as elective surgeries) are built into breed standards — see an example from the American Kennel Club. Which is to say that a Doberman puppy born from two Doberman parents does not meet his or her own breed standard.

In some countries, dog surgical procedures for cosmetic purposes are restricted or banned, but in others, the practices are rampant. For example, cosmetic tail-docking is banned throughout Australia and in numerous parts of Europe, which is why I saw my first natural Doberman in Italy. In North America, things look a bit different. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) oppose these procedures, with the AVMA stating that these procedures “are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient,” and “these procedures cause pain and distress, and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection.” Even so, restrictions are rare. As of 2014, only two states, Maryland and Pennsylvania, have any restrictions on tail-docking, focusing on the dog’s age at the time of surgery and the use of anesthesia. Only nine states regulate ear cropping. 

In addition to welfare concerns associated with docking and cropping, the surgeries could affect dog social communication. Numerous studies find that tails are (gasp) useful and meaningful in dog-dog communication (more formally known as intraspecific communication, or communication between members of the same species). Even Charles Darwin recognized that tail up has a different meaning than tail down, and dogs attend to long tails better than short ones. The side of the body that a tail wags can even be informative to another dog: a dog seen wagging more to his right-side would be perceived more positively than a dog wagging more to his left. A stump is less informative. 

The communicative function of dog tails has received oodles of attention (see additional readings at the end of the post), and I’m going to focus on a new issue raised last month by Marina von Keyserlingk and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Their open access article in PLoS One finds that these appearance-altering procedures are not meaningless; they affect how dogs are perceived, independent of the dog’s actual behavior or personality. 

Study participants, United States residents participating via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk), saw images of four dog breeds that commonly have their tails docked and ears cropped: the Doberman Pincher, Miniature Schnauzer, Boxer, and Brussels Griffon. The first three are in the top 20 of registered breeds, and the Brussels Griffon, while not as popular, was selected to include a small breed in the study.

Participants saw two different images of the same dog breed, one in the natural state (long tail and unaltered ears) and one modified (docked tail and cropped ears). They were told that the dogs were siblings and asked to explain why the ears and tails looked different. 

Dog surgery?

Fifty-eight percent of participants correctly identified that “some dog breeds have part of their ears and tails surgically removed after they are born.” Dog owners were more likely to answer correctly than non-owners.

On the other hand, 40% did not know that these dogs are not born with their ears cropped and tails docked. Instead, these participants thought these traits resulted from genetic variation, agreeing with the statement, “individual dogs of the same breed vary in appearance, meaning some will have tails and ears of different shapes and sizes.” Sorry y’all. Not so for the dogs in this study! The tails and ears on the ‘modified’ dog are all us.

Au naturel?

But what’s the effect? Another experiment in the study found that these cosmetic surgeries are not meaningless to dogs or people; in fact, these procedures affect how participants perceived dog personality traits. Generally speaking, surgically altered dogs were seen as more aggressive toward people and dogs than natural dogs, and natural dogs were seen as more playful and attractive than their altered counterparts.

But when looking at the four breeds individually, something odd popped out about attractiveness. For the Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, and Miniature Schnauzer, neither the natural or surgically altered dog was considered more attractive. Take the tail off, leave it on, crop those ears, whatever. For those breeds, people were indifferent — one appearance was not viewed as more attractive than the other. Only for the Brussels Griffon was the natural dog considered more attractive than its surgically altered counterpart.

If not all people know that the cropped/docked look is surgically created and don’t find these dogs less attractive than their natural counterparts, what incentive is there to reduce these cosmetic surgeries in the companion dog population? Since 2008, the American Veterinary Medical Association has encouraged “the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking from breed standards.” Who is going to stand with them?

Dog Tails and Social Interactions

Anthes, E. 2013. Dog Tails and Social Signaling: The Long and the Short of It. Wonderland PLoS blogs

Hecht, J. 2012. Skin Deep: Looks aren’t everything, but they do play a role in communication. The Bark

Morell, V. 2013. Video: What Tail Wagging Means to Other Dogs. Science

Shermer, M. 2008. Wag the Dog. Scientific American

Docking and Cropping

American Veterinary Medical Association, Ear Cropping and Tail Docking of Dogs

American Veterinary Medical Association, State Laws Governing Elective Surgical Procedures

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, Cosmetic Alteration — Position Statement

Coren, S. 2016. How People Perceive Dogs With Docked Tails and Cropped Ears. Canine Corner blog 

Orritt, R. 2016. Cut It Out! Cropping and Docking. Dogs and Society blog


Mills KE, Robbins J, von Keyserlingk MAG (2016) Tail Docking and Ear Cropping Dogs: Public Awareness and Perceptions. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0158131. OPEN ACCESS

from Scientific American