Monday, March 31, 2014

Finland Not Psyched About Russia Conducting Military Drills on Its Border

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The Finnish army has started a "24-7 live-monitoring" operation following a Russian military air-force drill that is occurring just 150 miles from the border between the two countries.

It has people asking: Is Finland the next Crimea?

After #Crimea, do we need to talk about #Finland and #Belarus? #Putin's former advisor Andrei Illarionov thinks so: http://t.co/hPnAJRBIKy

— The Moscow Times (@MoscowTimes) March 31, 2014

The Finnish army's alertness comes after a former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin said the ex-KGB agent might also want Finland.

“Putin’s view is that he protects what belongs to him and his predecessors,” Putin’s former chief economic adviser Andrei Illarionov told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. "Parts of Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states and Finland are states where Putin claims to have ownership." Read more...

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Microsoft Office 365's New 'Clutter' Tool Streamlines Your Inbox

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Microsoft unveiled a series of new features for Office 365's Outlook users, including an Android web app, and tools for decluttering your inbox and collaborating on documents.

Jeff Teper, the Redmond, Wash. company's corporate vice-president, revealed the changes on Monday at the Microsoft Exchange Conference in Austin.

Codenamed "Clutter," the feature aims to make it easier for people to go through their inboxes by automatically separating email based on importance.

"At its heart, it intends to remove as much unimportant mail, or clutter, from a user’s inbox as possible so that a user’s inbox can, well, become their inbox again," Steve Chew, a senior product-marketing manager in the Exchange group, said in a blog post. "Leveraging the intelligence of the Office Graph, clutter looks for how 'importantly' or 'unimportantly' you treat emails, and looks for patterns behind those behaviors." Read more...

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Jawbone Snaps Up Playground.fm

Looks like instead of being acquired, wrist and speaker hardware company Jawbone is doing some acquiring, scooping up social and personalized music playlist app Playground.fm, according to a well-placed source. Last time we heard something about Jawbone, it had closed a new financing round of about $250 million at around a $3 billion valuation. Kara Swisher and Re/code had reported a similar… Read More


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Airbnb Says It Will Start Collecting Hotel Taxes In San Francisco

Airbnb said it will start collecting San Francisco’s 14 percent hotel tax on behalf of hosts today. The move counters critics who’ve claimed that the company has willfully dodged taxes to get ahead of traditional competitors in the hotel industry. But as Airbnb has grown up and is now poised to command a possible $10 billion valuation from private investors, they’ve said they… Read More


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Arizona Police Investigating Video of Officer Attacking Woman

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An online video of a police officer knocking a woman over, apparently without provocation during the calm aftermath of a NCAA riot in Tucson, has Arizona University students furious and the police department investigating the matter.

A crowd had assembled on University Boulevard in Tucson Saturday, following the school's loss to Wisconsin University in the National College Athletic Association men's basketball tournament. Beer bottles were thrown at police, who responded with pepper spray and rubber bullets.

But the riot had calmed down when the incident, below, was captured on video. Read more...

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Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel Suit Up for 'Les Mis' Duet

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Jason Segel might want to look into joining co-star Neil Patrick Harris on Broadway now that How I Met Your Mother has ended.

When fielding questions from students during a recent visit to Inside the Actor's Studio, the pair were asked to step into the tense "Confrontation" scene from Les Miserables.

A far cry from their goofier HIMYM counterparts, Harris and Segel slip into the formidable roles of Inspector Javert and Jean Val Jean as if they played the dramatic characters for years. Fellow cast members Alyson Hannigan, Cobie Smulders and Josh Radnor joined the duo onstage and, likely from past experiences, knew to steer clear when the song reaches its chaotic peak Read more...

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Seeker Spotlight: EuRoC

EuRoC_Logo (2)On April 1st, the European Robotics Challenges (EuRoC) was launched by a consortium of the leading robotics companies and research institutions in Europe. EuRoC aims at bringing competitive solutions to the European manufacturing industry to keep global leadership in products and services. Three industry-related Challenges within the scenarios of 1) Re-configurable Interactive Manufacturing Cell, 2) Shop Floor Logistics and Manipulation and 3) Plant Servicing and Inspection have been identified and designed to address this need.  With a cumulative sum of €7 million grant money, access to some of the leading robotics platforms in Europe and excellent networking opportunities, the consortium is confident that EuRoC is able to attract a large number of qualified teams that want to be part of the Challenge Programme. Over the next 4 years, EuRoC will take solutions from simulation contests to real field tests in order to find the most sustainable and industrially applicable robotics innovations within the three scenarios of interest. We had a chat with Bruno Siciliano, the Project Coordinator of EuRoC about this large and exciting robotics Challenge Programme.

Hello Bruno – thanks for speaking with us. Could you start by telling us a bit about the motivation behind EuRoC?

The idea of launching a programme like EuRoC was motivated by the specific need to exploit synergies across the whole value chain of stakeholders, i.e. application experts, technology suppliers, system integrators and service providers, with the goal to speed up the process of bringing innovative technologies from research labs to industrial end users. As an enabler in this context, the EuRoC Challenges aims at facilitating this cross‐fertilization by endowing world‐class robots with basic robot skills and “forcing” challengers to use these robot systems for the respective challenge scenarios. With this unique strategy, the innovation potential and the later market uptake are much higher than with from scratch developments (even when based on standard robot equipment).

Why did you decide that a Challenge was the right way to go?

I strongly believe that the definition of competitions and making them visible as “Grand Challenges” will create the required awareness in the European community. Furthermore, we all know from past experience that competitive solutions are in the longer term created only in close collaboration of industry and academia. Resorting to experimentation on shared research infrastructures, while referring to jointly developed benchmarks, will boost the development of new solutions.

What do you hope will be the outcome of EuRoC if we look 4 years into the future?

The EuRoC Challenge Programme will foster the development of 6 novel commercial robot solutions and 9 novel pre-commercial robot solutions for manufacturing applications. These solutions are of particular interest to SMEs, as teams are required to address technical and economic issues derived from the needs of SMEs. Providing solutions to these challenges will almost automatically strengthen the competitive position of the European robotics industry in production, logistics and servicing, as well as through the application of the solutions to the manufacturing industry in general.

Can you elaborate a bit on the different stages of EuRoC that successful Challengers will go through?

Each challenge is launched via an open call and is structured in 3 stages. 45 contestants are selected using a challenge in a simulation environment: the low barrier of entry allows new players to compete with established robotics teams. Matching up the best contestants with industrial end users, 15 Challenger teams are admitted to the second stage, where the typical team is formed by research experts, technology suppliers, system integrators, plus end users. Teams are required to benchmark use cases on standard robotic platforms empowered by the EuRoC consortium. After a mid-term evaluation with public competition, the teams advance to showcasing the use case in a realistic environment. After an open judging process, 6 Challenge Finalists are admitted to run pilot experiments in a real environment at end-user sites to determine the final EuRoC Winner.

How do you see EuRoC can benefit participating end users?

This challenge-based approach with multiple stages of increasing complexity and financial support for competing teams will level the playing field for new contestants, attract new developers and new end users toward customisable robot applications. End users will have the opportunity to team up with candidate Challengers during a brokerage workshop and receive each team up to € 585K funding to develop the selected use cases from a realistic lab environment to a real field test environment.

Do you have any final advice for potential Challengers and end users who find this Challenge interesting?

On one hand, potential end users willing to participate to EuRoC should propose representative use cases within the three challenge scenarios. On the other, candidate Challengers qualified after the first stage should team up with those end users which have proposed the most innovative, yet solvable use cases. This competitive match-making process will culminate into the brokerage workshop after which the teams are formed and the proposals for the application experiments are submitted for evaluation. My final advice to Challengers and End users: if you have innovative and creative solutions, and if you are willing to benchmark them against competitive use cases, go EuRoC, do not miss this unique opportunity!

Thank you very much for speaking with us. We truly hope the solutions of this Challenge Programme will advance the goals of the European manufacturing industry.

Apply to the EuRoC Challenge Programme now by clicking here

The post Seeker Spotlight: EuRoC appeared first on InnoCentive Blog.



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iOS App Store Prices To Increase In Australia, India, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa

Apple has sent out an email notifying customers of App Store price changes in certain countries within the next 24 hours. The company said that it will raise retail rates for the following currencies because of foreign exchange rate changes: Australian dollar, Indian rupee, Indonesian rupiah, Turkish lira, and South African rand. On the other hand, retail prices for Israeli New Shekels and some… Read More


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Mobile survey app Loop is now on Android to let companies create in-person polls on the go

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Survey-making app Loop, previously available only for iOS devices, has now landed on Android in 135 countries and 34 languages. Loop lets companies create surveys entirely on a mobile device... Keep reading →

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32 Songs to Celebrate MLB Opening Day

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With the Super Bowl long behind us and March Madness winding down, Major League Baseball's opening day offers a fresh start for sports fans around the nation. The first day of MLB play signals the arrival of spring, a new hope for each city's fan base, and for many, a great excuse to call in sick from work.

But if you can't make it to your favorite team's stadium to ring in the 2014 MLB season today, we've done our best to recreate the stadium atmosphere for you, right here

We rounded up popular stadium anthems from all 32 MLB ballparks in this Music Monday playlist. So whether you're watching your team on TV, or sneakily checking the score at the office, our playlist will help you feel like you're singing along with the crowd during the seventh-inning stretch. Read more...

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Caught Insulting Allies, U.S. Diplomat Calls Taped F-Bomb 'Tactical'

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Some call the leak a "new low in Russian tradecraft." Others "a wake up call about the way you do business."

But the State Department official caught saying "fuck the EU" in a bugged phone conversation about the future of Ukraine — which was promptly leaked to YouTube — has a new way of referring to the incident.

Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, who leads the State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and had yet to comment on the diplomatic diss (aside to say she won't be commenting) before now, calls it "a tactical moment in time."

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'The Pink Panther' Returns With 'The Simpsons Movie' Director Helming

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The Pink Panther has been rebooted more times than your aunt’s 1998 iMac — and yet, he returns again.

Franchise owner MGM is putting a modern, live-action/CGI-hybrid twist on The Pink Panther, making it into a family film that centers on the big pink cat, the studio announced Monday. To ensure a modern comic sensibility, they’ve enlisted The Simpsons Movie and Monsters, Inc. director David Silverman to take the helm.

SEE ALSO: 11 Times 'The Simpsons' Predicted the Future of Technology

Walter Mirisch — the now 92-year-old executive producer of the original 1963 live-action series starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau — is back on board after taking a break from the Steve Martin reboot that spawned The Pink Panther's 2006 and 2009 versions. Instead of Clouseau, however, this version will reportedly center on the cartoon feline. Read more...

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