Researchers at the University of Washington say they’ve gotten computers to make robust 3-D models of celebrities’ faces from only online images. Once built, single images or video can control the model, making the simulated celebrity speak. The model can even be controlled by videos of other people, making a representation of someone like Tom Hanks or Barack Obama say things they have never uttered. 

The team led by computer science and engineering professor Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman have advanced their machine learning algorithms, which track and reconstruct faces, to the extent that they can now map one person’s mannerisms and facial expressions onto another.

The work’s goal is to develop virtual three-dimensional models of people to reconstruct interactive historical figures and to give a new dimension to visual communications tools like Skype, Google Talk or FaceTime.

“You might one day be able to put on a pair of augmented reality glasses and there is a 3-D model of your mother on the couch,” said Kemelmacher-Shlizerman. “Such technology doesn’t exist yet — the display technology is moving forward really fast — but how do you actually re-create your mother in three dimensions?”

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Best Marketing Strategies For Your Internet Services Business

It is so much easier to control a broadband internet services business if you have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish with that business.

When you encounter an obstacle, you are going to need to choose to overcome it in order to satisfy your goal.

Avoiding the obstacle won’t work. Your ISP business will succeed and grow if you pay attention to these techniques.

Internet services business websites are different from personal ones; they must always have a professional appearance. If you cannot pull together an amazing website, you may wish to hire a great website designer to design it for you. Your webpage will become more appealing and successful when you have a series of appealing images and a great template to work with. Do not underestimate the importance of online commerce in today’s economy- you need to make sure that your website is both active and attractive to get success.

You have not reached success just because your goals have been met. If you neglect to establish progressive goals after the first few have been met, your broadband internet services business will experience stalled growth and a likely demise. You need to especially keep up with trends as they come along while keeping a clear mind. Your business will continue to grow and be successful if you carefully evaluate the current trends and tailor your ISP business expansion to those innovative processes.

Managing a broadband internet services business eats up more time than one would think. It’s imperative that you truly have enough waking hours to dedicate to the day to day operations of your business. Most people are surprised by the substantial investment of energy and time required to start and run a profitable internet service provider. It’s difficult to tackle several tasks at the same time and do it well, but new ISP business owners often make this rookie mistake. A smart business owner knows when they’re overwhelmed and will delegate.

Regardless of if you own a broadband internet services business or you’re just a staff, you need to interact with your buyers in a way that establishes a positive feeling within your business. Customers need to feel comfortable with your ISP business. The most crucial aspect of employee training is to ensure they master customer service skills. Customers who enjoy their experiences with your business will probably be more likely to share information on your broadband internet services business.

The most advantageous broadband internet services business plans include goals which are in a position to grow and expand as the internet service provider develops. The profitability of your business increases when your ISP business strategy covers every aspect of your company and includes a set of achievable, detailed goals. The future expansion of your business depends on the quality of the goals you set; be sure they are detailed, clearly defined and attainable. Attempting to reach one large, difficult goal often proves frustrating, so be sure to keep your goals realistic and manageable by breaking them down into smaller attainable signposts.

Hedy Lamarr

(1914-2000) Inventor and actress

To get secret messages past the Nazis, Hedy Lamarr co-invented a frequency-hopping technique that helped paved the way for today’s wireless technologies. For years, her achievement was overshadowed by her other career, as a Hollywood star.

It was 11 August 1942 when her patent was granted.
Fighting stiff roaming fees: Quebec appeal court gives green light to class-action suit
Montrealer who paid $250 in roaming charges is representing other users in court

The Quebec Court of Appeal has given the go-ahead to a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Quebec consumers, challenging the international data roaming fees charged by major Canadian cell phone service providers and their subsidiaries.

In September 2012, Montrealer and Fido customer Inga Sibiga went on vacation in the United States.

She used her mobile phone about six times to access Google Maps and hadn’t added a pre-paid travel package to her plan.

Sibiga used 40.82 megabytes of data at a rate of $6.14 per MB, which resulted $250.81 of extra charges.

Months later, she was contacted by Trudel Johnston & Lespérance, a Montreal legal firm specializing in class-action lawsuits. The firm was looking into international roaming fees charged to Quebec consumers and was seeking customers who had incurred charges they deemed to be excessive.

With the firm’s help, Sibiga filed a motion in January 2013 for authorization of the lawsuit, naming Fido and its owner Rogers, along with Bell Mobility and Telus, as the defendants.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel Yergeau denied the application in 2014. Among his reasons, Yergeau said Sibiga did not prove that the roaming fees she paid were exploitative, and because Sibiga only had a contract with Fido, she couldn’t represent clients of the other companies.

She appealed the decision, and on Wednesday, the Court of Appeal reversed it.

“We don’t know what’s the exact cost of providing a megabyte of data while you’re outside the country, but we know it’s a very small fraction of what they’re charging,” said Bruce Johnston, Sibiga’s lawyer.

Writing for the panel of three appeal court judges, Justice Nicholas Kasirer explains that Sibiga paid $6.14 per MB for roaming, but according to Fido’s website, had she purchased a $30, 31-day plan, the roaming rate would have been $1.50 per MB.

Kasirer said that difference suggests the companies are charging exploitative rates to pay-as-you-go customers.

As for the assertion that Sibiga can’t represent customers of other telecommunications companies, Johnston said that’s not true.

“The requirement to have a contract with each [company] is somewhat artificial, when you think that the same trial can settle the issue against every defendant,” he said.

The class action will cover consumers residing in Quebec who were charged international mobile data roaming fees by the defendants at a rate higher than $5 per megabyte after Jan. 8, 2010.

Sibiga is asking to be refunded any amount over $5 per MB. Johnston says some of the people who have come forward have been charged as much as $30 per MB.
Mass surveillance makes encryption 'essential' for activists in Belarus
Report sheds light on how secretive surveillance stifles activism and dissent in Belarus, and how telecoms are facilitating it.
By Amar Toor

Activists in Belarus are facing increased surveillance from the government, according to a new report from Amnesty International, and telecommunications companies are facilitating it. The report, published today, sheds light on how powerful surveillance has forced many activists underground, while underscoring the importance of encryption as a way to evade censors.

People surf the Internet at a public Wi-Fi hot spot in downtown Havana.

In Cuba, Will the Revolution Be Digitized?

President Obama announced his historic upcoming visit to Cuba—the first in almost 90 years by a US president—on Twitter, meaning that most Cubans would have to learn the news by some other means. Only about 27 percent of Cubans currently have Internet access, and not all of these users can access the full global Internet. Many are limited to a government-controlled intranet through their workplaces. Key industries such as the banking system are only partly computerized, and simple tasks such as bank transfers are difficult.

It is generally agreed that Cuba would benefit from better telecommunications infrastructure, and during his visit, Obama is likely to suggest ways that the United States can help with this. A few days ago, the Obama administration announced that it was lifting limits on the use of American dollars in transactions with the island, as well as permitting educational travel to Cuba for individuals, which should help with expanding digital access. Yet there is no consensus between the two nations over how the improvements to Cuba’s infrastructure should happen.

Last November, The New York Times published an editorial calling on the Cuban government to partner with companies such as Google to update its telecommunications infrastructure and expand access to the Internet. The editorial argues that the only thing standing in the way is the Cuban leadership’s lack of political will. In January, the US Federal Communications Commission removed Cuba from its exclusion list, making it possible for companies to provide telecommunications services to Cuba without prior FCC approval. Shortly afterward, Daniel Sepulveda, the deputy assistant secretary of state and the US coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department, visited Cuba to discuss how US companies could help to connect Cuba to the Internet. He also reiterated that the main obstacle to improving Cuba’s Internet infrastructure was the unwillingness of the Cuban government to move ahead.

These perspectives downplay the role of the embargo in hampering Cuba’s access to Internet technologies. Presenting Cuba as a tabula rasa, stuck in the digital dark ages, fails to engage with the cultures of communication that currently exist on the island. These cultures could provide a strong base for constructing a self-sustaining, open, and accessible digital commons with robust privacy protections—an increasingly remote possibility in the United States, where ubiquitous surveillance is devaluing the Internet as a public resource.

Milena Recio, a Cuban journalism professor and the Havana-based chief Web editor for the American news website OnCuba, has been a strong advocate for expanding telecommunications infrastructure on the island. But she cautions that we need to talk not just about the Internet but about “connectivity” more broadly. This includes the development of network-based services and intranets in administration, education, banking, and other sectors that would benefit from connected software applications. Rather than simply focusing on “going online,” Recio draws our attention to the need for developing broader networks that can facilitate Cuba’s transition into a digital era.

*  *  *

South America was connected to the global Internet through submarine cables from the United States, but Cuba could not access these cables because the US embargo prohibited American telecommunications companies from providing services to the island. Under the 1992 Torricelli Act, which proposed US Internet penetration as a means to undermine the Cuban revolution, these restrictions were loosened, and in 1996 the embargo was amended to allow US companies to provide telecommunications services to Cuba. That same year, Sprint Corporation signed a contract with the Cuban telecom company Etecsa to provide a 64 kbps satellite at a cost of $10,000 per month.

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National Dispatchers’ Week

As National Dispatchers’ Week comes to an end this year, I would like to make this post in dedication to any and all dispatchers out there. Thank you for everything you do, yall are amazing.

People tend to forget about you. Callers see you as the voice on the phone, getting them the help they need. You are the help. Without dispatchers, no one would get the help they need when they need it. 

Last year, for this week, we had a “trade-off” at work. Firefighters would spend time with dispatchers, dispatchers would ride along with us. I cannot imagine doing the job of a dispatcher. I always thought it was a person behind a lone computer, a phone, maybe a headset or something. Try five or six monitors, each with a different program or system running. Multiple phones, and a headset. Watching them work was like watching a dance, as coordinated as it can get. The dispatcher is calm in tone, but their hands were clicking rapidly, eyes darting from screen to screen. Fingers punching out information at light speed. You folks are just as skilled as we are.

I get closure, being on scene answers most of my questions. You do not. You have to hear what is going on, but you never really get to know all the things you may want to. I would rather see gore and suffering than have to hear it without knowing. For this, I applaud you as well.

When shit hits the fan, you drop everything for us. I had a meth head get loose from the straps once, on the gurney. I was new, I was more interested in writing my report quickly than paying attention. He grabbed me and we started tumbling around, throwing the occasional punch. Through my broken radio traffic, my dispatcher knew I needed help. My driver pulled over and within a minute I had six officers opening the back doors and ripping the bastard off me. (Little side thank you to my boys in blue). One of the officers came back to the rig to show me the knife they pulled off the guy. I don’t know if he would have pulled it, but if he would have I would be dead. 

We all have our stories about close calls, usually toasting to our boys in blue or bunker gear for getting there quickly. We tend to forget about the folks on comms, who wrangled up the help and made sure we had what we needed to get home.

So, guardian angels, thank you. For everything you do. You are my brother or my sister, just as much as anyone in the field. 

The towns’ petition asks the BPU to “investigate and rectify” Verizon’s “discontinuance of maintenance of copper landline facilities and infrastructure” in fiber-less areas. Verizon should be required to properly maintain landline infrastructure until it completes a statewide fiber buildout, they said. Cellular service is not an adequate substitute for landline or fiber service, they said.

“The failure of Verizon to comply with its obligations… to provide fiber optic service throughout the State of New Jersey,” combined with poor maintenance of copper landlines, “will effectively cripple the capability of customers in rural areas to maintain adequate telephone, data, and Internet service,” they said.

The towns say that phone, Internet service, and 911 access have been interrupted or lost altogether during bad weather events, including mere fog and drizzle.

“Literally hundreds of such complaints have been received in the Petitioners’ communities,” the petition said. The petition further claims that “Verizon has manipulated its customer complaint records” to make the problems appear less severe than they are in reality.