Facebook needs to kill the News Feed

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What is the Facebook News Feed for? 

In 2018, the answer is less certain than ever. Mark Zuckerberg now says it should be „good for people,“ like kale, polio vaccines, or any number of things that aren’t data-harvesting, Russian propaganda-boosting social networks.

And so, Facebook will alter your feed to favor content posted by friends and family — particularly if it’s generating a lot of comments — while minimizing stuff from brands. Everyone’s spent a lot of time parsing what this algorithm shift means, but here’s an educated guess: Not much!  Read more…

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The original ‚Age of Empires‘ is coming back in February with new ‚Definitive Edition‘

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The wait for Age of Empires: Definitive Edition — the remastered and improved version of 1997’s Age of Empires — is almost over. 

Mircrosoft announced on Thursday that Age of Empires: Definitive Edition will be released for PC on Feb. 20 for $19.99. 

Definitive Edition takes everything that made Age of Empires one of the best real-time strategy games of its time, but gives it a fresh coat of paint and some much-needed system-level improvements.

For years, the original Age of Empires has been unplayable for most people, given the 20-year-old game’s outdated computer requirements. Now, with Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, longtime fans of the original can enjoy the game once again and new players to the franchise can experience what the series was like at its roots. Read more…

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Larry Nassar In Letter To Judge: Listening To Victims‘ Statements In Court Is Too Mentally Taxing 

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty

Larry Nassar, who admitted to decades of sexual abuse of girls and young women, often under the guise of medical treatment, wrote a letter to the judge in charge of his sentencing hearing in which he accused her of using the hearing to get media attention for herself and expressed concern about his mental capacity to listen to his victims read their statements in court.

“She wants me to sit in the witness box next to her for all four days so the media cameras will be directed toward her,” Nassar wrote in the letter. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina read excerpts of the six-page letter in court today.

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“I’m very concerned about my ability to be able to face witnesses this next four days mentally,” he wrote.

Aquilina dismissed the letter whole cloth, calling it “mumbo jumbo.” She said:

“You may find it harsh that you are here listening, but nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands. Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense and ruining their lives.”

Nassar tried to defend the letter, which he wrote before the first day of the four-day hearing, as a cry for community mental health. Per CNN:

“When I wrote that, it was before I came here, OK. It was a stress—as it says at the end, it was like a cathartic, you know what I mean, it was just a—it was meant for a cry for community mental health.”

Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison following a federal child pornography case. Aquilina is expected to sentence him to life in prison.

Austin Rivers Knows Everyone Thinks He’s An Annoying Scrub Getting By Because Of His Dad

Photo: Phelan Ebenhack/AP

Even though Austin Rivers didn’t play against the Rockets earlier this week, his very presence helped spark the Rockets’ furtive voyage to the Clippers locker room to cause a commotion and not actually fight. This is because, as Bill Simmons said on Zach Lowe’s podcast, Rivers would not stop talking shit to the Rockets, and also because Rivers is generally despised and viewed as an undeserving brat who gets play because of his father. He’s been made fun of since he was in college by former teammates, current teammates, and basically everyone else.

Rivers finally spoke about his rep with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne today in the wake of the non-fight, and he admits to being exactly the shit-talking brat he’s perceived as:

“People are like, ‘Well, his dad gave him his chance.’ Is that true or not? I don’t know. It might be,” Rivers said. “[But] could it be that my pops knew how good I could be because he’s my pops?

[…]

“I know what the narrative is on me,” Rivers said. “It’s because I come from money and I have a swagger and confidence about me.

“[But] if I didn’t have this confidence or swagger in myself, I wouldn’t be built to handle the negativity that I’ve gotten.”

Rivers said he’s been getting shit for epitomizing the coach’s son archetype since he was in high school, and while he doesn’t try to hide the fact that he had an advantage in the basketball world, he insisted that his critics acknowledge his newfound success. The Clippers are currently tied for sixth in the West and Rivers is playing very well, averaging 15.8 points per game on 40 percent three-point shooting. He insisted that he doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him, just to judge him on his play rather than his last name. That’s a fair ask, and it’s impressive that Rivers has maintained utter confidence in himself while everyone makes fun of him.

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That said, he should still be prepared to deal with it because he’s a huge pest and his dad is annoying too.

[ESPN]

The First US Human CRISPR Trials Could Start Any Day Now

Image: Penn Medicine

The first U.S. human trial using CRISPR to treat disease could kick off any day now. The trial, led by the University of Pennsylvania, will use the gene-editing tool to modify immune cells, prompting them to attack three different types of cancer.

The MIT Tech Review spotted that the University of Pennsylvania this week posted its trial to a directory of ongoing clinical trials, a signal that the study is gearing up to begin. A spokesperson from Penn Medicine confirmed to Gizmodo that trial preparations are in the final stages, though did not specify when exactly it will start.

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The study will enroll as many as 18 patients with myeloma, sarcoma, and melanoma cancers. Researchers will remove blood cells from the patients’ bodies, then use CRISPR to delete two genes in T cells, which are the soldiers of the immune system that seek and destroy threats inside the body. The deleted genes should reprogram the T cells to better find and attack cancer. The blood cells will then be infused back into the patient.

It will be a small but significant experiment—the first time a medical trial using CRISPR in humans has taken place in the U.S. Chinese scientists, meanwhile, used CRISPR for the first time on a human in 2016, and conducted a second human trial last year. The Penn trial was originally slated to begin last summer, after it received a regulatory stamp of approval to proceed in 2016. It is being funded by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, a cancer charity founded by billionaire Napster founder Sean Parker.

A second CRISPR trial, by biotech firm CRISPR Therapeutics, is set to begin later this year in Europe for a therapy that combines CRISPR gene editing and stem cell therapy to treat the blood disorder beta thalassemia.

[MIT Tech Review]

What is Ripple?

Although there are many hundreds of cryptocurrencies out there, no two are exactly alike. That goes doubly so for Ripple, which is famously centralized when compared to the likes of bitcoin or Ethereum.

The post What is Ripple? appeared first on Digital Trends.

Bitcoin Cash Added to Keepkey Wallet, Exchanges in India and Hong Kong

Bitcoin Cash Added to Keepkey Wallet, Exchanges in India and Hong Kong

Bitcoin cash (BCH) adoption by cryptocurrency companies is continuing, offering new options for users. It has now been added by a hardware wallet to its software client as well as by two more exchanges in Asia for trading. Furthermore, over 4,500 merchants in India may soon be able to accept payments in BCH.  

Also Read: GDAX Will Open the Bitcoin Cash/BTC Order Book on Wednesday

Bitcoin Cash on Keepkey

Bitcoin Cash Added to Keepkey Wallet, Exchanges in India and Hong KongKeepkey, the cryptocurrency hardware wallet manufacturer which was acquired by the Shapeshift exchange in August 2017, has announced that bitcoin cash (BCH) is now officially supported by its client. The developer explained that: “Our recent beta client (4.5.11) for BCH was tested thoroughly and is now very mature.”

All of the wallet’s users that were holding BTC at the time of the fork on August 1, 2017 and have not yet claimed their BCH, will see that bitcoin cash is listed at the bottom when they open their bitcoin account in the Keepkey software. They can also now add a bitcoin cash account to send, receive, and exchange BCH with Shapeshift. For complete instructions see here.

Big Community Support in Asia

Bitcoin Cash Added to Keepkey Wallet, Exchanges in India and Hong KongAnyone that will claim their bitcoin cash with Keepkey will also be able to trade it on two more exchanges in Asia now. Zebpay, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges in India in terms of the number of clients, has added support for bitcoin cash as part of its 2.0 release today. Launched in July 2015, Zebpay is an Indian app-based exchange, available for Android and iOS. It allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, recharge their phone prepaid packages, and buy vouchers.

Hong Kong-based exchange Kucoin has announced that a bitcoin cash market has been added to the platform, enabling its users to start trading six new pairs using BCH on Wednesday. Explaining the move, the company wrote that: “The community has expressed the desire to be able to trade with more flexibility. Kucoin’s primary objective is to provide a diverse trading platform to all users.”

In addition to trading, bitcoin cash holders may soon be able to use BCH to pay in thousands of stores and restaurants across India. Mohit Lalvani, the CEO of Quikwallet, a payment processor that serves over 4,500 merchants in India, told news.bitcoin.com today that bitcoin cash support be added to the service in about a month. “The obvious reason was high fees and confirmation times, which is why we decided to add BCH support since BTC became unusable.”

How is the Indian market going to react once BCH is available for payments in 4500 more stores? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Zebpay and Keepkey.


Want to create your own secure cold storage paper wallet? Check our tools section.

The post Bitcoin Cash Added to Keepkey Wallet, Exchanges in India and Hong Kong appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Invasive Warrantless Surveillance Bill Heads to White House for Trump’s Signature

Aerial photograph of the National Security Agency by Trevor Paglen.

In a 65-34 vote on Thursday, the US Senate voted to reauthorize a controversial warrantless surveillance program intended to grant American spy agencies the authority to collect emails and phone records of foreigners abroad. As critics of the program point out, however, it also frequently results in the collection of domestic communications belonging to US citizens.

A reauthorization bill was passed by the House last week in a 256-164 vote. It now goes to the White House for a signature from President Trump, who is expected to sign the bill.

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The battle over the surveillance program, known as Section 702, was a contentious one, particularly in the Senate where yesterday three Democrats and two Republicans attempted a filibuster.

The effort, which failed, was led by Senators Ron Wyden (D) and Rand Paul (R), both cosponsors of the USA Rights Act, which had offered amendments to the surveillance bill furnishing new privacy protections for Americans, which were opposed by the White House.

While proponents of Section 702 argue that the program is an absolute necessity for national defense, many critics—who do not entirely disagree—say the bill in its current form is a threat to Americans’ privacy.

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In support of Section 702's passage, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement, “Let’s be very clear about what Section 702 does: It enables our intelligence community to collect communications from foreign terrorists, on foreign soil, who threaten America and our allies.” However, McConnell and other Section 702 proponents obscure the warrantless surveillance of Americans that the program enables.

National security reporter and leading Section 702 expert Marcy Wheeler tweeted on Thursday, for instance, that the National Security Agency (NSA) uses the program to collect “data it knows to include domestic [communications].”

Wheeler previously warned that the bill codifies under law exceptions offered in 2014 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that threaten Americans who use Tor, the anonymity software popular among journalists, whistleblowers, and political dissidents the world over.

With regard to the collection of Tor-related traffic, Wheeler wrote Thursday:

NSA has to sort through what they collect on the back end, but along the way, they get to decide to keep any entirely domestic traffic they find has significant foreign intelligence purpose or is evidence of a crime, among other reasons. The bill even codifies 8 enumerated crimes under which they can keep such data. Some of those crimes — child porn and murder — make sense, but others — like transnational crime (including local drug dealers selling imported drugs) and CFAA (with its well-known propensity for abuse) pose more potential for abuse.

Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democratic member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, described passage of the Section 702 reauthorization bill as a “dereliction of duty by Congress.”

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“It is worse than business-as-usual: It explicitly authorizes warrantless searches of law-abiding Americans, allows for the collection of communications entirely among innocent Americans who reference the wrong foreigner, and gives the attorney general unchecked power to decide when the government can use what it finds against us, to pick just three of its many troubling provisions,” he said in a statement.

FreedomWorks, the influential Tea Party political action committee, echoed Wyden’s concerns for privacy and urged President Trump to veto the bill, saying in a statement: “We’re disappointed with the passage of the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act and the misleading statements supporters of the bill made about the collection of communications, the process by which these records are obtained by the FBI, and the alternatives offered by privacy-minded members of the House and Senate like Justin Amash, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and others.”

These visualizations make disturbing 2017 temperature milestone look like modern art

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The news that 2017 was either the second or third-warmest year on record, depending on the agency doing the official tallying, is not shocking. The past three years were each among the top three warmest on record, with 2016 coming out as the clear winner.

To climate scientists, individual years and where they rank are not particularly significant. Instead, it is the long-term trend that matters, and that’s what has climate scientists so concerned about our future. 

But how do you bring those long-term trends down to Earth for the average person? It’s one thing to say that our world is warming, but it’s another to truly drive that home for people who may not have a master’s degree in climate science, or be obsessively following this field online. Read more…

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Andrew McCutchen Meant Everything To Pittsburgh

Watch that clip up there. It says all there is to say about what Andrew McCutchen meant to Pittsburgh in general, and to Pirates fans in particular. For a long time, it was damn near impossible to imagine a Pirates player who possessed enough star power to affect young fans like that. Now that McCutchen is gone, it’s fair to wonder if it can ever happen again.

McCutchen arrived in Pittsburgh in June 2009, five years after he was taken 11th overall in the draft. The Steelers had just won the Super Bowl, and the Penguins were about to win the Stanley Cup. The Pirates, by contrast, were the neighbors who never mowed the lawn and who always left bags of trash to rot on the front porch. They were closing in on a record of their own: a 17th consecutive losing season, the longest in the history of North American sports—a mark that would eventually reach 20 before it finally, mercifully came to an end. In large part thanks to Andrew McCutchen.

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McCutchen came to Pittsburgh offering the rarest sort of promise. The Pirates of the 1990s and 2000s certainly had their share of talented players—Jason Kendall, Brian Giles, Jason Bay, Aramis Ramirez—but here was an honest-to-goodness prospect whose ascent through the minors merited attention. For all the solid players the team had developed and invariably lost, McCutchen was something different—a talent who inspired questions like Could Andrew McCutchen be The One who would Change Everything? in absolute earnest, from fans who had learned to take no for an answer.

It might have been possible to think happy thoughts like that, but it was impossible to say such a thing out loud. Two decades of cartoonish organizational ineptitude had robbed even the most romantic optimists of any illusions. An entire generation of young people had come of age thinking Pirates games were a dull opening act for the ballpark fireworks display that followed. That’s what’s so revealing about the pure elation in the faces of those young fans in that clip up there. They didn’t exist until Andrew McCutchen came along. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jerome Bettis, Troy Polamalu—they’re all contemporaries of McCutchen, and they’re all civic treasures in Pittsburgh, largely because they all delivered championships. McCutchen didn’t do that, but he made baseball relevant in that town again. It might be the more extraordinary feat.

McCutchen went 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored in his big-league debut. Two months later, he hit a walkoff homer to beat Brad Lidge and the Phillies, the defending World Series champions. He punctuated the moment with an iconic leap into the crowd of teammates gathered at home plate.

That joie de vivre was an enormous part of the appeal. McCutchen played with an uncommon flair that turned routine moments into entertaining bursts of happiness. That kind of joy, that fun, was infectious and inviting. Especially when it was an appetizer to actual winning. As McCutchen’s star steadily rose, it did the added work of dragging the Pirates right out of the gutter. There were cruel teases in 2011 and 2012, but by 2013, he was the National League MVP, the losing streak stopped, and the Pirates even hosted a wild-card game. The guttural roar that famously filled the ballpark that night had been pent up for 20 years. I just watched that clip of Johnny Cueto dropping the ball again. I still can’t believe anything about that night ever happened.

Management never built on the Pirates’ narrow, three-year window of winning—a run that of course coincided with the success of in-division rivals like the Cubs and Cardinals. McCutchen regressed badly in 2016 and was the constant subject of trade rumors last offseason; his departure was only a matter of time. He bounced back somewhat last year, but the ball was juiced and the team stunk anyway. The tear-down began with Saturday’s Gerrit Cole trade. Two days later, McCutchen would be gone, too.

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Now what? The Pirates are a middling, boring-ass team again. They have some promising prospects, but no Andrew McCutchen of the future, let alone the present. There isn’t much to look forward to, and as long as owner Bob Nutting is around, things will likely stay that way for a long time. Again, watch that clip up there of those children. It sure was fun while it lasted.

How to Check for Net Neutrality Violations on Your Network

Credo Action/Flickr

Net neutrality may be making a comeback in the Senate, but in the meantime you’re probably a little worried that your internet provider will take advantage of the FCC’s lax new rules. If only there were some sort of service that could test your network for throttling and censorship.

It turns out there are a couple of different apps designed to do just that. The latest, called Wehe, can help show which streaming services are being slowed down by your internet provider.

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You won’t find Wehe in the App Store. It was recently rejected by Apple, but you still have some options.

How Wehe Works (and Why Apple Blocked It)

The premise behind Wehe is simple. It can test the streaming speeds of seven popular apps (YouTube, Amazon, NBCSports, Netflix, Skype, Spotify, and Vimeo) and then tell you which of them are being artificially slowed down by your internet provider. Using that information, you can complain to your internet provider or file an official report with the Federal Trade Commission.

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Wehe is available now for Android, but it’s unclear when (if at all) you’ll be able to download an iOS version. Apple didn’t offer much of an explanation for its decision, simply telling the developer that it had “no direct benefits to the user,” according to Motherboard. The company didn’t go into much more detail beyond calling it “Objectionable Content,” which is really just blanket term for anything that gets rejected.

So if you don’t have an Android device you’re out of luck for now, but thankfully Wehe isn’t the only app in this category. There’s another service that’s been around even longer, and it’s already available for iOS.

How Ooniprobe Works

OONI, which stands for Open Observatory of Network Interference, is part of the Tor Project. Its ooniprobe app originally launched in early 2017 with the goal of mapping online censorship around the world. Then, in August, the app added a new test designed to seek out net neutrality violations.

The DASH Streaming Test checks the quality of your network by pretending to stream a 30 second video. This measures the strength of your internet and how it treats an unrecognized video service. Ooniprobe displays that information in the app, but it also compiles it with other results from all over the world and publishes its findings online.

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Ooniprobe can also show you which sites are censored and how. That’s useful information if you’re trying to get around a block on your office internet or you live in a country where the government is cutting off access to important websites.

You can download ooniprobe now for iOS and Android.

Possible Risks

On the topic of government censorship, OONI notes that there could be some risks in using the app depending on where you are. Anyone monitoring your internet activity (as in your internet provider, your government, and your boss if you’re at work) will know you’re using the app. If your company catches you trying to get access blocked websites when you should be working, there could be hell to pay, and doing the same thing in countries with tight internet restrictions like China could get you fined or even land you in jail.

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On the plus side, OONI says no one has actually faced any consequences from using the app for now. As for Wehe, it’s not as much of a risk since you’re really just checking streaming speeds—it doesn’t look for more censorship like ooniprobe does. Still, it’s probably not a great idea not to use either app at work or while you’re traveling in certain countries if you don’t want to attract any negative attention.

You Can Fry Onions (and Garlic and Shallots) in the Microwave

Photo by Claire Lower

A fried allium is the perfect finishing touch. Whether on top of a medium-rare steak, and creamy potato soup, or a gooey bowl of macaroni and cheese (or like, a salad or something), fried onions, leeks, garlic, and the like provide crispy texture and salty, umami-rich, slightly pungent flavor. In short, they are desirable. They also just got a bit more convenient, thanks to this microwave method from Cook’s Illustrated.

Not only is cooking them in the microwave a lot more hands-off (no-continuous stirring needed), it frees up stove top space and contains oil splatters. The details are slightly different for each allium—click the link below to read up—but the basic method is the same: Add your sliced allium to a half cup of oil in a microwave safe bowl, and cook in two-minute increments on full power until they begin to brown, stirring in between. Once they get a little color on them, decrease the cooking time to 30 seconds, and continue to cook and stir until they’re a “deep golden.” Transfer your savory treasures to a paper towel to drain and crisp up, and season with salt.

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Though Cook’s Illustrated only mentions leeks, shallots, and garlic, I tried this micro-method with a plain ol’ onion and fared quite well. I did however, find they weren’t quite as crisp as I liked at first, but that was easily fixed by popping them back in the microwave on a fresh paper towel for about 10 seconds. This also worked well for re-crisping after they were stored in the fridge, which means you can pre-batch a bunch of fried alliums, then re-crisp them at you leisure, and I love a leisurely onion.

How to Make Microwave-Fried Shallots, Garlic, and Leeks | Cook’s Illustrated

Take professional-quality iPhone pictures with one of these clip-on lens adaptors

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You’ve memorized your favorite Instagram filter (thank you, Perpetua) and found the best spot in your apartment for selfie lighting. Sure, the iPhone X camera is incredible, but if you’re rocking an older model or want to take some specialty shots, a smartphone camera is limited in what it can do.

If you’re tired of taking blurry vacation landscape photos or need a better zoom for your tiny foods Instagram account, you’re in luck. The internet has tons of smartphone camera attachments that let you get those perfect shots every time. Most of them clip right onto the outside of your phone, so you can easily snap it on or off. One downside to this is that the lens may cover up the flash. You can pick up an external light if you’re worried about it.  Read more…

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Labo is Nintendo’s next big risk that looks poised to pay off


Nintendo’s rather perplexing new announcement this week is Labo, a set of peripherals for the Switch made from cardboard. While they may seem like an odd addition after the company’s renewed focus on more mature titles and nostalgia, it’s part of Nintendo’s pattern of embracing the bizarre and making it work. What at first glance looks a little baffling about Labo — its use of cardboard rather than plastic, and DIY focus — is what makes it look so alien compared to just about everything else currently in the gaming market. It’s clearly aimed at children, and, though I question…

This story continues at The Next Web

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