Mars orbiter spots silent, dust-covered Opportunity rover as dust storm clears

Mars rover Opportunity has been operating on the surface of the Red Planet since 2004, but a dust storm this summer may prove to be the mission’s toughest challenges. The enormous storm caked Opportunity in dust and blocked out the sun, its source of energy — and there’s no guarantee the batteries aren’t dead for good. But now that the skies have cleared, we at least have our first look at the workhorse rover from orbit.

Mars rover Opportunity has been operating on the surface of the Red Planet since 2004, but a dust storm this summer may prove to be the mission’s toughest challenge. The enormous storm caked Opportunity in dust and blocked out the sun, its source of energy — and there’s no guarantee the batteries aren’t dead for good. But now that the skies have cleared, we at least have our first look at the workhorse rover from orbit since it went radio silent.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures fabulous imagery of the planet at a regular rate, but it happened that it passed over Perseverance Valley last week, where Opportunity is currently stationary. In the image you can just make it out as a few pixels raised above the surface.

That valley isn’t the only place that was hit by the storm — this was no flurry but a full-blown planet-spanning tempest that lasted for months. It isn’t the first dust storm Opportunity has weathered by a long shot, but it was probably the worst.

The last we heard from the rover was on June 10, at which point the storm was getting so intense that Opportunity couldn’t charge its batteries any more and lowered itself into a hibernation state, warmed only by its plutonium-powered heaters — if they’re even working.

Once a day, Opportunity’s deeply embedded safety circuit checks if there’s any power in its battery or coming in via solar.

“Now that the sun is shining through the dust, it will start to charge its batteries,” explained Jim Watzin, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA. And so some time in the coming weeks it will have sufficient power to wake up and place a call back to Earth. But we don’t know when that call will come.”

An Opportunity shadow-selfie from 2004, when Opportunity was comparatively young (and had “only” doubled its mission length).

That’s the hope, anyway. There is of course the possibility that the dust has obscured the solar cells too thickly, or some power fault during the storm led to the safety circuit not working… there’s no shortage of what-if scenarios. But space exploration is a unique combination of the deeply realistic with the deeply optimistic, and there’s no way Opportunity’s handlers aren’t going to give the little rover all the time it needs, within reason, to get back in touch.

The team has been sending extra signals out to spur a response from Opportunity and will continue to do so for the next few weeks, but even that won’t be the end of the line.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, assured the many Opportunity superfans out there that they plan to keep listening at least through January. And you can bet a few sentimental types will find a way to check now and then after that as well.

Should the worst happen and the dust storm appear to have disabled the rover for good, that would still be a hell of a run — Opportunity was intended to last for 90 days and has instead gone for 14 years. Nothing sad about that. But here’s hoping we hear from this long-lived explorer soon.

Tinder’s ‘Swipe the Vote’ campaign aims to educate young voters and get them to polls

Tinder has partnered with nonprofit Rock the Vote for a second time, in the hopes of driving young people to the polls through in-app messaging. The company claims a young adult user base where more than half are in the 18 to 24 demographic, and believes it’s well-positioned to mobilize younger voters during the 2018 […]

Tinder has partnered with nonprofit Rock the Vote for a second time, in the hopes of driving young people to the polls through in-app messaging. The company claims a young adult user base where more than half are in the 18 to 24 demographic, and believes it’s well-positioned to mobilize younger voters during the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.

It’s critical to get these voters to the polls, as only 46.1 percent of the 18 to 29-year olds turned out to vote during the 2016 election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the company notes.

Tinder says it will begin to share “fun facts” with its users during election season right in the app — like the volumes of voter registrations and other anecdotes related to past and upcoming elections. These facts will have a particular focus on those that are of most interest to Tinder’s younger users.

For example, some that will be shared include: “Did you know that only about 40% of eligible voters turn up for the midterm elections?,” and “Even though millennials make up 25% of the population, they make up less than 5% of state legislatures,” plus, “The average American is twenty years younger than their congressional representative.”

The facts will pop up in the app as often as two to three times a week in the U.S. as a “Swipe the Vote” native display card.

These cards will also include a way to tap to navigate in-app to the Rock the Vote website, where users can enter their ZIP code and details in order to register to vote.

Additionally, the two organizations also produced a Schoolhouse Rock!-inspired video encouraging young Americans to vote. (Though the Schoolhouse Rock reference may fly over the 18-year-olds’ heads.)

Tinder isn’t the only large platform participating in National Voter Registration Day today (September 25).

Others, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Snapchat, Lyft, HBO and many more have also rolled out their own campaigns in an effort to mobilize and register voters.

But because of Tinder’s access to a very young group of potential voters, it’s one of the more interesting efforts to watch, along with Snapchat.

DoorDash customers say their accounts have been hacked

Food delivery startup DoorDash has received dozens of complaints from customers who say their accounts have been hacked. Dozens of people have tweeted at @DoorDash with complaints that their accounts had been improperly accessed and had fraudulent food deliveries charged to their account. In many cases, the hackers changed their email addresses so that the […]

Food delivery startup DoorDash has received dozens of complaints from customers who say their accounts have been hacked.

Dozens of people have tweeted at @DoorDash with complaints that their accounts had been improperly accessed and had fraudulent food deliveries charged to their account. In many cases, the hackers changed their email addresses so that the user could not regain access to their account until they contacted customer services. Yet, many said that they never got a response from DoorDash, or if they did, there was no resolution.

Several Reddit threads also point to similar complaints.

DoorDash is now a $4 billion company after raising $250 million last month, and serves more 1,000 cities across the U.S. and Canada.

After receiving a tip, TechCrunch contacted some of the affected customers.

Four people we spoke to who had tweeted or commented that their accounts had been hacked said that they had used their DoorDash password on other sites. Three people said they weren’t sure if they used their DoorDash password elsewhere.

But six people we spoke to said that their password was unique to DoorDash, and three confirmed they used a complicated password generated by a password manager.

DoorDash said that there has been no data breach and that the likely culprit was credential stuffing, in which hackers take lists of stolen usernames and passwords and try them on other sites that may use the same credentials.

Yet, when asked, DoorDash could not explain how six accounts with unique passwords were breached.

“We do not have any information to suggest that DoorDash has suffered a data breach,” said spokesperson Becky Sosnov in an email to TechCrunch. “To the contrary, based on the information available to us, including internal investigations, we have determined that the fraudulent activity reported by consumers resulted from credential stuffing.”

The victims that we spoke to said they used either the app or the website, or in some cases both. Some were only alerted when their credit cards contacted them about possible fraud.

“Simply makes no sense that so many people randomly had their accounts infiltrated for so much money at the same time,” said one victim.

If, as DoorDash claims, credential stuffing is the culprit, we asked if the company would improve its password policy, which currently only requires a minimum of eight characters. We found in our testing that a new user could enter “password” or “12345678” as their password — which have for years ranked in the top five worst passwords.

The company also would not say if it plans to roll out countermeasures to prevent credential stuffing, like two-factor authentication.

Professor Layton Arrives on Android and iOS

Professor Layton and the Curious Village is now available to play on Android and iOS. The puzzle game, the first in the Professor Layton series, features a fun storyline, an interesting cast of characters, and well over 100 fiendish puzzles. Puzzle Your Way to the Golden Apple In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, you control the titular professor Layton and his young sidekick Luke as they try to locate the “Golden Apple” that is central to the plot. But to do so, they, or rather you, need to solve lots of puzzles. The puzzles cover the full gamut, from…

Read the full article: Professor Layton Arrives on Android and iOS

Professor Layton and the Curious Village is now available to play on Android and iOS. The puzzle game, the first in the Professor Layton series, features a fun storyline, an interesting cast of characters, and well over 100 fiendish puzzles.

Puzzle Your Way to the Golden Apple

In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, you control the titular professor Layton and his young sidekick Luke as they try to locate the “Golden Apple” that is central to the plot. But to do so, they, or rather you, need to solve lots of puzzles.

The puzzles cover the full gamut, from brainteasers to mazes, from word games to sliding tiles. They range in difficulty from childishly easy to devilishly difficult. And while you have unlimited time to solve them, helpful hints come at a premium.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village was first released on the Nintendo DS in 2007. Its developer, Level-5, then released the game on Android and iOS in Japan earlier this year. And now, finally, the Curious Village is available worldwide.

For its mobile release the game has been given an HD makeover, and optimized for smartphones. The graphics have never looked better, there are some new animations to watch, and the DS experience is replicated perfectly on your humble smartphone.

Download: Layton: Curious Village in HD for Android | iOS ($9.99)

Own a Piece of Puzzle Gaming History

Unfortunately, Professor Layton and the Curious Village is not free. Instead, it’s priced at $9.99 in the U.S., and the equivalent elsewhere. Still, there is a lot of game here, and as the first Professor Layton title ever released this is a piece of gaming history.

If Professor Layton isn’t your thing, don’t worry, as there are other options available. Why not try one of these free puzzle games you can play in your browser? Or perhaps these brain exercise games for Android and iOS are more up your street.

Read the full article: Professor Layton Arrives on Android and iOS

7 Google Translate Mobile Features You Must Know

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It’s fine to use websites for language translations, but chances are you mostly need to translate while on the go. The best way to do that is with Google Translate, so we’re going to show you everything the mobile app can do. We’ll focus on Android, but all of these features (aside from Tap to Translate) work on iOS too. Whether it’s downloading languages for offline use, translating live using your camera, or having a vocal conversation, you’ll be a translating pro in no time. 1. Store Languages Offline One of the first ways you should improve Google maps is to…

Read the full article: 7 Google Translate Mobile Features You Must Know

It’s fine to use websites for language translations, but chances are you mostly need to translate while on the go. The best way to do that is with Google Translate, so we’re going to show you everything the mobile app can do. We’ll focus on Android, but all of these features (aside from Tap to Translate) work on iOS too.

Whether it’s downloading languages for offline use, translating live using your camera, or having a vocal conversation, you’ll be a translating pro in no time.

1. Store Languages Offline

One of the first ways you should improve Google maps is to download all the languages you need to your phone. If you’re going to use Google Translate while traveling, you won’t always have a stable internet connection. Downloading languages ensures you can translate wherever you are.

To do so, tap the menu icon and choose Offline translation. This brings up a list of all available languages. Note that not every language that Google Translate supports is available for download.

To download a language, tap it on the list. You’ll see how much space it will take up on your phone, along with how much storage you have available. Languages tend to take up around 40 to 50MB each.

The top of the Offline translation screen lists your downloaded languages. Tap the trash can to remove one from your phone.

Language packs occasionally need updating. If so, you’ll see a notification on the main screen of Google Translate, from which you can update with a tap.

2. Type to Translate

The original feature of Google Translate is the ability to type something and have it translated to another language of your choosing. Do this from the main screen of Google Translate.

To the left is the language you type in. If you need to change this, tap it to select an alternative language from the list. Choose Detect Language to have Translate decide automatically.

To the right is the language you want your text to translate to. Again, tap this to select a language from the list. Use the arrows in the middle to flip the languages.

When you’re ready, tap into the text field and begin typing.

3. Write to Translate

You can also write on the screen, let Google Translate detect what you’ve written, and then translate it into another language.

Tap Handwriting to use this feature. Simply start writing in the Write here box.

It’s pretty good at detecting even the worst of handwriting. As you write, the sentence translate above. If it detects the wrong word, select the right one from above the writing box.

4. Speak to Translate

Written translation is great, but what happens when you actually need to talk to someone? Don’t worry: Google Translate has you covered there too.

A neat feature lets you chat back and forth with someone. Translate will detect the speech through your phone’s microphone, and then display the translation on the screen.

To begin, tap Conversation. If you want, you can tap the wave icon to bring up a card that explains what you’re doing to the other person. Otherwise, in the bottom corners of the screen, set the language that you and the other person speak.

Each person can tap the microphone icon for their respective language when they want to talk. The translation will appear in real-time above. Alternatively, cut out the back and forth by using the Auto function—though ensure you don’t talk over each other else the system might get confused.

Tap the speaker icon to hear a translation spoken aloud.

5. Instant Camera Translation

Another really cool feature is translation of real-world text using your camera. To begin, set the two languages at the top and tap Camera.

Point your camera at the text you want to translate and it’ll do it within the picture. Bear in mind the system isn’t perfect. It works best when detecting simple fonts, like those you might find on a sign or menu.

Tap the flash icon if you need more light, or the pause icon to freeze the image. Hit the camera icon to save the image to your phone, or the gallery icon to choose an existing photo you want to translate.

6. Save Common Phrases

If there are phrases you need to translate often, save yourself time by storing them in the Phrasebook.

Whenever you translate something, it’s recorded in a list on the main screen of Google Translate. Tap the star icon to save it to your Phrasebook.

To access your saved translations, tap the menu icon and then tap Phrasebook. Here you can use the search icon to find a specific translation and tap the star icon to remove something from the list.

7. Tap to Translate

You may also need to translate text that you come across on your phone. Don’t worry—you’re covered for that too.

In Google Translate, tap the menu icon > Settings > Tap to Translate. Slide Enable on. Now when you copy text from any app, a Google Translate icon will float on the screen. Tap this to get an instant translation.

You can also translate within Chrome. Highlight some text and tap Translate from the context menu.

Finally, if you receive text messages in foreign language, you can translate these all from Google Translate itself. Tap the menu icon and then tap SMS translation. This will bring up a list of all your SMS messages. Tap one to have it translated.

Plan Your Foreign Travel Trips Like a Pro

Now you’re a master at using Google Translate. With it, you can translate text easily and even have a conversation with someone in a different tongue thanks to the wonder of technology.

If you’re translating for the purpose of travel, don’t forget that your phone can also help plan your trip. Check out our list of essential planning apps for easier itineraries, along with discovering how Google Trips can help you have an amazing vacation.

Read the full article: 7 Google Translate Mobile Features You Must Know