Instagram Hides Like Counts In Leaked Design Prototype

50 minutes 5 seconds ago
Instagram's Android code is hiding a design change that hides the number of likes your posts get. "During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets," the company says. TechCrunch reports on the seemingly small design change test and the massive potential impact it'll have on users' well-being: Hiding Like counts could reduce herd mentality, where people just Like what's already got tons of Likes. It could reduce the sense of competition on Instagram, since users won't compare their own counts with those of more popular friends or superstar creators. And it could encourage creators to post what feels most authentic rather than trying to rack up Likes for everyone to see. You can see [in a leaked screenshot] on the left that the Instagram feed post lacks a Like count, but still shows a few faces and a name of other people who've Liked it. Users are alerted that only they will see their post's Like counts, and anyone else won't. Many users delete posts that don't immediately get "enough" Likes or post to their fake "Finstagram" accounts if they don't think they'll be proud of the hearts they collect. Hiding Like counts might get users posting more because they'll be less self-conscious. It appears there's no plan to hide follower counts on user profiles, which are the true measure of popularity, but also serve a purpose of distinguishing great content creators and assessing their worth to marketers. Hiding Likes could just put more of a spotlight on follower and comment counts. And even if users don't see Like counts, they still massively impact the feed's ranking algorithm, so creators will still have to battle for them to be seen.

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Utah Bans Police From Searching Digital Data Without a Warrant

1 hour 30 minutes ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Forbes: In a major win for digital privacy, Utah became the first state in the nation to ban warrantless searches of electronic data. Under the Electronic Information or Data Privacy Act (HB 57), state law enforcement can only access someone's transmitted or stored digital data (including writing, images, and audio) if a court issues a search warrant based on probable cause. Simply put, the act ensures that search engines, email providers, social media, cloud storage, and any other third-party "electronic communications service" or "remote computing service" are fully protected under the Fourth Amendment (and its equivalent in the Utah Constitution). HB 57 also contains provisions that promote government transparency and accountability. In most cases, once agencies execute a warrant, they must then notify owners within 14 days that their data has been searched. Even more critically, HB 57 will prevent the government from using illegally obtained digital data as evidence in court. In a concession to law enforcement, the act will let police obtain location-tracking information or subscriber data without a warrant if there's an "imminent risk" of death, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, livestreamed sexual exploitation, kidnapping, or human trafficking. Backed by the ACLU of Utah and the Libertas Institute, the act went through five different substitute versions before it was finally approved -- without a single vote against it -- last month. HB 57 is slated to take effect in mid-May.

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Google Will Begin To Block Sign-ins From Embedded Browser Frameworks in June

2 hours 8 minutes ago
To fight phishing, Google last year announced it would require users to enable JavaScript during Google Account sign-in so that it could run attack-detecting risk assessments, and this week, the company said it'll begin to block all sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks like Chromium Embedded Framework starting in June. From a report: For the uninitiated, embedded browser frameworks enable developers to add basic web browsing functionality to their apps, and to use web languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create those apps' interface (or portions of it). They're typically cross-platform -- Chromium Embedded Framework runs on Linux, Windows, and macOS -- and they support a range of language bindings. With the change, Google is specifically targeting man in the middle (MITM) attacks, which it says are particularly difficult to spot from automation platforms like embedded browser frameworks.

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Notre Dame Official Says 'Computer Glitch' Could Be Fire Culprit

2 hours 49 minutes ago
A "computer glitch" may have been behind the fast-spreading fire that ravaged Notre Dame, Associated Press reported Friday, citing the cathedral's rector. From the report: Speaking during a meeting of local business owners, rector Patrick Chauvet did not elaborate on the exact nature of the glitch, adding that "we may find out what happened in two or three months." On Thursday, Paris police investigators said they think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused the fire. French newspaper Le Parisien has reported that a fire alarm went off at Notre Dame shortly after 6 p.m. Monday but a computer bug showed the fire's location in the wrong place. The paper reported the flames may have started at the bottom of the cathedral's giant spire and may have been caused by an electrical problem in an elevator. Chauvet said there were fire alarms throughout the building, which he described as "well protected."

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Microsoft Debuts Bosque, a New Programming Language With No Loops, Inspired by TypeScript

3 hours 26 minutes ago
Microsoft has introduced a new open source programming language called Bosque that aspires to be simple and easy to understand by embracing algebraic operations and shunning techniques that create complexity. From a report: Bosque was inspired by the syntax and types of TypeScript and the semantics of ML and Node/JavaScript. It's the brainchild of Microsoft computer scientist Mark Marron, who describes the language as an effort to move beyond the structured programming model that became popular in the 1970s. The structured programming paradigm, in which flow control is managed with loops, conditionals, and subroutines, became popular after a 1968 paper titled "Go To Statement Considered Harmful" by computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra. Marron believes we can do better by getting rid of sources of complexity like loops, mutable state, and reference equality. The result is Bosque, which represents a programming paradigm that Marron, in a paper he wrote, calls "regularized programming."

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Millions of Rehab Records Exposed on Unsecured Database

4 hours 6 minutes ago
Records for potentially tens of thousands of patients seeking treatment at several addiction rehabilitation centers were exposed in an unsecured online database, an independent researcher revealed Friday. From a report: The 4.91 million documents included patients' names, as well as details of the treatments they received, according to Justin Paine, the researcher. Each patient had multiple records in the database, and Paine estimates that the records may cover about 145,000 patients. Paine notified the main treatment center, as well as the website hosting company, when he discovered the database. The data has since been made unavailable to the public. Paine found the data by typing keywords into the Shodan search engine that indexes servers and other devices that connect to the internet. "Given the stigma that surrounds addiction this is almost certainly not information the patients want easily accessible," Paine said in a blog post that he shared with CNET ahead of publication. Paine hunts for unsecured databases in his free time. His day job is head of trust and safety at web security company Cloudflare. The find is the latest example of a widespread problem: Any organization can easily store customer data on cloud-based services now, but few have the expertise to set them up securely. As a result, countless unsecured databases sit online and can be found by anyone with a few search skills. Many of those databases are full of sensitive personal data.

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Windows 8 Will No Longer Get App Updates After This Summer

4 hours 49 minutes ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Last year, Microsoft announced when it would be killing app updates and distribution in the Windows Store for Windows Phone 8.x and Windows 8.x. At the time, the blog post stated that Windows Phone 8.x devices would stop receiving app updates after July 1, 2019, while Windows 8.x devices would get app updates through July 1, 2023. However, it seems as though plans have changed a little bit, as the blog post has quietly been updated earlier this month. Microsoft has changed the wording in the post to state that Windows 8 devices will stop getting updates for their apps at the same time as Windows Phone 8.x, that is, July 1 of this year. Windows 8.1 devices will continue to receive updates through the previously announced date in 2023.

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HDD Shipments Fell Nearly 13% in the First Quarter of 2019, 18% Since Last Year

5 hours 30 minutes ago
Suren Enfiajyan writes: HDD shipments are continuing to decline. This is about all major HDD vendors with WDC with the most decline yearly -- 26.1% against 11.3% (Toshiba) and 14.4% (Seagate). Desktop HDD shipments are said to have fallen to just 24.5 million units, a drop of nearly 4 million units from the previous quarter. Laptop HDD shipments dropped more than 6 million units to hit the 37 million mark. Enterprise HDDs are said to have rebounded by nearly 1 million units, however, to around 11.5 million hard drives purchased in the quarter. Business customers essentially picked up the slack left by consumers. These shipments were likely affected by many factors. But there's also the simple fact that most people want SSDs instead of HDDs for most of their devices. Nobody wants to wait for their system to boot, their files to load, or their apps to finish routine tasks.

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The Quest To Save the Banana From Extinction

6 hours 10 minutes ago
Panama disease, an infection that ravages banana plants, has been sweeping across Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. The impact has been devastating. From a report: In the Philippines alone, losses have totalled US$400m. And the disease threatens not only the livelihoods of everyone in this US$44 billion industry but also the 400m people in developing countries who depend on bananas for a substantial proportion of their calorie intake. However, there may be hope. In an attempt to save the banana and the industry that produces it, scientists are in a race to create a new plant resistant to Panama disease. But perhaps this crisis is a warning that we are growing our food in an unsustainable way and we will need to look to more radical changes for a permanent solution.

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After a $14-Billion Upgrade, New Orleans' Levees Are Sinking

6 hours 50 minutes ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: The $14 billion network of levees and floodwalls that was built to protect greater New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a seemingly invincible bulwark against flooding. But now, 11 months after the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of the largest public works projects in world history, the agency says the system will stop providing adequate protection in as little as four years because of rising sea levels and shrinking levees. The growing vulnerability of the New Orleans area is forcing the Army Corps to begin assessing repair work, including raising hundreds of miles of levees and floodwalls that form a meandering earth and concrete fortress around the city and its adjacent suburbs. "These systems that maybe were protecting us before are no longer going to be able to protect us without adjustments," said Emily Vuxton, policy director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, an environmental group. She said repair costs could be "hundreds of millions" of dollars, with 75% paid by federal taxpayers. "I think this work is necessary. We have to protect the population of New Orleans," Vuxton said. The protection system was built over a decade and finished last May when the Army Corps completed a final component that involves pumps.

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Doctors Used HIV To Develop Cure For 'Bubble Boy' Disease

7 hours 50 minutes ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: U.S. scientists say they used HIV to make a gene therapy that cured eight infants of severe combined immunodeficiency, or "bubble boy" disease. The babies, born with little to no immune protection, now have fully functional immune systems. Untreated babies with this disorder have to live in completely sterile conditions and tend to die as infants. The gene therapy involved collecting the babies' bone marrow and correcting the genetic defect in their DNA soon after their birth. The "correct" gene -- used to fix the defect -- was inserted into an altered version of one of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Researchers said most of the babies were discharged from the hospital within one month. Dr Ewilina Mamcarz of St Jude, an author of the study, said in a statement: "These patients are toddlers now, who are responding to vaccinations and have immune systems to make all immune cells they need for protection from infections as they explore the world and live normal lives. This is a first for patients with SCID-X1 (the most common type of SCID)." The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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BlackBerry Messenger To Shut Down In May

10 hours 50 minutes ago
The consumer version of Blackberry Messenger is shutting down May 31. CNET reports: Emtek, the company BlackBerry partnered with in 2016 to run the consumer version of the messaging app, said in a blog post Thursday that the technology industry is "very fluid" and despite "substantial efforts," users have moved on to other platforms. "We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date," Emtek said. Mark Wilson, BlackBerry's chief marketing officer, said that though the company is disappointed, BBM users won't be without a secure messaging platform. They can now go to the Google Play store to download BBMe, the enterprise version of the app that BlackBerry continues to run. The app will be free the first year. Then a 6-month subscription will cost $2.49. BlackBerry is working on an iOS app.

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TESS Discovers Its First Earth-Sized Planet

13 hours 50 minutes ago
Iwastheone shares a report from MIT News: NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, has discovered its first Earth-sized exoplanet. The planet, named HD 21749c, is the smallest world outside our solar system that TESS has identified yet. In a paper published today in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters, an MIT-led team of astronomers reports that the new planet orbits the star HD 21749 -- a very nearby star, just 52 light years from Earth. The star also hosts a second planet -- HD 21749b -- a warm "sub-Neptune" with a longer, 36-day orbit, which the team reported previously and now details further in the current paper. The new Earth-sized planet is likely a rocky though uninhabitable world, as it circles its star in just 7.8 days -- a relatively tight orbit that would generate surface temperatures on the planet of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The discovery of this Earth-sized world is nevertheless exciting, as it demonstrates TESS' ability to pick out small planets around nearby stars. In the near future, the TESS team expects the probe should reveal even colder planets, with conditions more suitable for hosting life. Slashdot reader RockDoctor shares a link to the paper at Arxiv, adding: The 'b' object in the system (the largest perturbation on the star's light) is estimated at 2.61*Radius_earth, and 22.7*Mass_earth for a surface gravity of 3.332*littleG_Earth. If it has a "surface" in any recognizable sense rather than gradual transitions between gas mixtures, liquid mixtures, and the digested remains of any "metals" (lithium or higher, as the astronomers say). The 'c' object is more poorly constrained. The authors give a radius (0.892*Radius_earth, derived from the depth of the eclipses), but only put an upper limit on the mass at The TESS mission has a Science Requirement "of providing 50 transiting planets smaller than 4*Radius_earth with measured masses," and the 'b' planet fits that criterion, but the 'c' planet does not, yet, have a well-enough constrained mass. Keep on catching planets!

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Source Code of Iranian Cyber-Espionage Tools Leaked on Telegram

15 hours 20 minutes ago
In an incident reminiscent of the Shadow Brokers leak that exposed the NSA's hacking tools, someone has now published similar hacking tools belonging to one of Iran's elite cyber-espionage units, known as APT34, Oilrig, or HelixKitten. From a report: The hacking tools are nowhere near as sophisticated as the NSA tools leaked in 2017, but they are dangerous nevertheless. The tools have been leaked since mid-March on a Telegram channel by an individual using the Lab Dookhtegan pseudonym. Besides hacking tools, Dookhtegan also published what appears to be data from some of APT34's hacked victims, mostly comprising of username and password combos that appear to have been collected through phishing pages. ZDNet was previously aware of some of these tools and victim data after this reporter received a tip in mid-March. In a Twitter DM, a Twitter user shared some of the same files that were discovered today on Telegram, and we believe that this Twitter user is the Telegram Lab Dookhtegan persona.

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Global Attention Span Is Narrowing and Trends Don't Last As Long, Study Reveals

17 hours 20 minutes ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: It's just as you suspected; the information age has changed the general attention span. A recently published study from researchers at the Technical University of Denmark suggests the collective global attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to the public. Released on Monday in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the study shows people now have more things to focus on -- but often focus on things for short periods of time. The researchers studied several modes of media attention, gathered from several different sources, including (but not limited to): the past 40 years in movie ticket sales; Google books for 100 years; and more modernly, 2013 to 2016 Twitter data; 2010 to 2018 Google Trends; 2010 to 2015 Reddit trends; and 2012 to 2017 Wikipedia attention time. The researchers then created a mathematical model to predict three factors: the "hotness" of the topic, its progression throughout time in the public sphere and the desire for a new topic, said Dr Philipp Hovel, an applied mathematics professor of University College Cork in Ireland. The empirical data found periods where topics would sharply capture widespread attention and promptly lose it just as quickly, except in the cases of publications like Wikipedia and scientific journals. For example, a 2013 Twitter global trend would last for an average of 17.5 hours, contrasted with a 2016 Twitter trend, which would last for only 11.9 hours.

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Amazon Will No Longer Sell Chinese Goods In China

20 hours ago
Amazon announced today that it will close its marketplace in China in the coming months, meaning Amazon customers in the country will no longer be able to buy goods from Chinese merchants. "Amazon did not explain why it was withdrawing its marketplace service, saying only it will instead focus on selling goods shipped from other countries into China," reports CNN. From the report: "We are notifying sellers we will no longer operate a marketplace on Amazon.cn, and we will no longer be providing seller services on Amazon.cn effective July 18," the company said in a statement. Amazon's platform competes for Chinese sellers with Tmall, owned by the country's e-commerce leader Alibaba. Users logging onto Amazon's Chinese site after July 18 will see products sold from its global store, the company said. "Over the past few years, we have been evolving our China online retail business to increasingly emphasize cross-border sales, and in return we've seen very strong response from Chinese customers," Amazon said. It will retain its other operations in China, such as cloud computing services. It will also continue to sell its Kindle e-readers and content in the country. "Amazon's commitment to China remains strong. We have built a solid foundation here in a number of successful businesses and we will continue to invest and grow in China," the company added.

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Why Juul and Republican Lawmakers Want To Raise the Minimum Vaping Age To 21

20 hours 40 minutes ago
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a new bill today that would block all tobacco and vape purchases for Americans under 21 years old, citing widespread public health risks. Surprisingly, vaping companies don't appear to be too concerned, as Juul's CEO Kevin Burns issued this statement supporting the measure: "JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world and to accomplish that goal, we must restrict youth usage of vapor products. Tobacco 21 laws fight one of the largest contributors to this problem -- sharing by legal-age peers -- and they have been shown to dramatically reduce youth usage rates." The Verge says it all has to do with Big Vape's image: Over the past year, Juul has come under the FDA's fire for its massive popularity among young people. So supporting a higher minimum age could help its image and take some of the regulatory pressure off. From an industry perspective, the move is fairly low risk since the product is already embedded in the population, and people under age 21 may already be addicted, says Kathleen Hoke, a law professor at the University of Maryland. "We can change this age to 21 but we're going to have to work extraordinarily hard at the state and local level to actually get cigarettes or vape products or chew out of the hands of the 18 to 20 year olds," she says. [T]he bill's success will depend on how it's crafted. Rob Crane, professor of family medicine at The Ohio State University and president of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, is skeptical that it will really hold tobacco retailers responsible for selling to people who are underage. From the more than 450 cities and counties that have passed Tobacco 21 laws, "what we have found that does work is when you make local health departments under civil law do the enforcement," he says. "For a rogue retailer that keeps on selling, there's a risk of license suspension." But if the law winds up penalizing convenience store clerks who sell vapes and tobacco products to kids, the retailer who's profiting gets off scot-free, he says. In the end, Crane is skeptical of the motivations behind the bill, no matter what form it takes. "This is all a PR move to keep Juul out of the hot seat from the FDA."

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The Source Code For All Infocom Text Adventure Classics Has Been Released

21 hours 20 minutes ago
You can now download the source code of every Infocom text adventure game, thanks to archivist Jason Scott who uploaded the code to GitHub. "There are numerous repositories under the name historicalsource, each for a different game," reports Ars Technica. "Titles include, but are not limited to, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, Shogun, and several Zork games -- plus some more unusual inclusions like an incomplete version of Hitchhiker's sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Infocom samplers, and an unreleased adaptation of James Cameron's The Abyss." From the report: The code was uploaded by Jason Scott, an archivist who is the proprietor of textfiles.com. His website describes itself as "a glimpse into the history of writers and artists bound by the 128 characters that the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) allowed them" -- in particular those of the 1980s. He announced the GitHub uploads on Twitter earlier this week. The games were written in the LISP-esque "Zork Implementation Language," or ZIL, which you could be forgiven for not being intimately familiar with already. Fortunately, Scott also tweeted a link to a helpful manual for the language on archive.org. Gamasutra, which first reported the news, notes that Activision still owns the rights to Infocom games and could request a takedown if it wanted.

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First Japan-Built Airliner In 50 Years Takes On Boeing and Airbus

22 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the global air travel network. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington, to satisfy that demand. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s new airliner is testing the skies just as rivals are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats. Boeing is set to buy 80 percent of the Embraer SA's commercial operations in a joint venture, while Bombardier last year sold control of its C Series airliner project to Airbus SE and is exploring "strategic options" for its regional-jet operations. At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is $135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development Corp. With few seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing's 737 or Airbus's A320. The MRJ has a range of about 2,000 miles, while a smaller variant can haul up to 76 people for about the same distance. A longtime supplier of aircraft components to Boeing, Mitsubishi Heavy is developing the MRJ to emerge from its customer's shadow. After spending at least $2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings. Mitsubishi expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft President Hisakazu Mizutani.

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Netflix Will Invest Up To $100 Million In a NYC Production Hub

22 hours 40 minutes ago
Netflix is establishing an NYC production hub that will include six sound stages in Brooklyn and an expanded office in Manhattan's Flatiron District. "It should create 'hundreds of jobs' (including 127 executive, marketing and production development roles) over the next five years, and should foster up to $100 million in investments, according to Governor Cuomo," reports Engadget. From the report: The sound stages will also have the capacity for "thousands" of jobs, Cuomo said, although that's likely to vary widely based on what's in production at any given time. Not surprisingly, there are financial incentives attached to the move. The state is offering up to $4 million in tax credits over 10 years, although those are contingent on Netflix's ability to both create the 127 promised office jobs and keep the 32 existing positions.

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