What we’re listening to in February

What we’re listening to in February

Senior News Editor Billy Steele confesses his love for the Album of the Year while Managing Editor Terrence O’Brien explains why Punch Up the Jam should be in your podcast rotation. Community Content Editor Amber Bouman also breaks down the thrilling fictional true crime podcast Limetown.

Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour

Billy Steele

Billy Steele
Senior News Editor

Most country music these days is terrible. I make this statement as someone who grew up on a steady diet of country and bluegrass. I have autographed pictures of Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus from when I was a kid. “Dust on the Bottle” is still a great song. However, I can easily avoid country radio these days because it’s just… not good.

Kacey Musgraves is one of the few exceptions. My introduction to her soothing voice was 2015’s Pageant Material (which is also a great album) so when singles for Golden Hour started to debut, I was already hooked.

Golden Hour is definitely a country album, but you won’t hear a lot of driving banjo, fiddle or pedal steel. Instead, you get what Musgraves calls “galactic country.” There’s texture and airy openness to these songs that obviously know their roots, but also bring in elements of pop, jazz and more. Spin described Golden Hour this way:At times it recalls the aquatic haze of Madonna’s Ray of Light, and at others the open-highway rumbling of the War on Drugs,” Jordan Sargent wrote back in March 2018.

I call it a breath of fresh air at a time when country music badly needs one.

Standout tracks for me include “Slow Burn,” “Oh, What a World” and “Space Cowboy,” but Golden Hour is truly a complete record. It’s an enjoyable listen from start to finish. The album ends with “Rainbow,” the song Musgraves performed at the Grammys. It’s an uplifting ballad of hope, and a song that resonates with me in the uncertainty of 2019. Some may think it’s odd to end a record with such a slow, low-key song, but I disagree. After a dozen songs about love, break-ups and self-doubt, “Rainbow” is like a parting wish — right down to the last line: “It will all be alright.” There’s a soothing optimism there I think we can all use a little of these days.

Punch Up the Jam

Terrence O'Brien

Terrence O’Brien
Managing Editor

Frankly, there was nothing about Punch Up the Jam to suggest I’d love it as much as I do.

Sure I like comedy and over analyzing pop songs (who doesn’t?), but each episode culminates in a musical parody. And, let’s be honest with ourselves, spoof songs are hard to pull off — there can only be one Weird Al. It’s not like I was super familiar with the hosts either. Demi Adejuyigbe is a comedy writer best known as one of the hosts of The Gilmore Guys podcast (and I loathe the Gilmore Girls with every fiber of my being) and Miel Bredouw made a name for herself as a comedian on Vine before transitioning to YouTube.

But, I’ve been on a bit of a music analysis kick recently and decided to give it a shot, hoping that it would be satisfy a similar itch as Dissect and Switched On Pop, but maybe make me laugh along the way. The first few episodes were a little rough, but I’m glad I stuck it out, because it’s currently one of my favorite podcasts. The episode about “Jesse’s Girl” is an early highlight, but the show really hits its stride with Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy.”

In each episode the duo, and more often than not a guest, break down a popular song, pointing out its most ridiculous elements and shortcomings. (Trust me, you’ll never heard “Friday I’m in Love” the same way after you’ve heard the isolated vocal.) They spend about an hour pouring over every tiny detail from the lyrics and melody to the production choices until there’s nothing left to dissect. Then they debut a punch of the song which is ostensibly an improved version, but is really just a gag. For example, after realizing that “What’s Your Fantasy” is really just a list of places Luda would like have sex, the song becomes an ode to exhibitionism. And “Jesse’s Girl” is all about what a weird obsessive creep Rick Springfield is.

Demi and Miel have incredible chemistry, which is one of the most important requirements for a successful podcast. But they’re also incredibly funny and have already developed a community rife with in-jokes and references. And most impressively they’ve done it all in under a year. And as the show has steadily gained traction the guests have gotten bigger (Eliot Glazer, Jon Gabrus and Paul F. Tompkins have all be on the show) and the production value of the “punch ups” has improved.

But more importantly, the punch ups just keep getting funnier and funnier as both Demi and Miel have found their voices. They’re easily the closest thing we have to a new Weird Al.

Limetown

Amber Bouman

Amber Bouman
Community Content Editor

A company town in rural Tennessee. A vague biomedical goal to “gain a full understanding of the human brain.” And a catastrophic event that resulted in the disappearance of 327 men, women and children. This is the mystery at the center of Limetown, a fictional podcast that follows APR investigative journalist Lia Haddock as she attempts to uncover the facts about what happened during “the Panic” ten years before.

Limetown uses many of the same techniques employed by non-fiction podcasts to provide the listener with background information: fuzzy 911 calls, clips of international newscasters reporting on the event, recorded phone calls and interviews with locals and law enforcement. But this also lends an air of credibility to the story that makes it feel a bit more real than say, the ghost stories of the Moonlit Road Podcast. As Haddock gives descriptions of her surroundings and environment, and the characters she interviews, she sounds much like the narrators of non-fiction podcasts like S-Town or Serial.

However, Limetown also excels in using background noises and scores to keep the listener in a heightened feeling of suspense. Eerie music you’d expect to hear on a Halloween CD lurks in the background, causing even typical folly sounds like footsteps or doors shutting to make you feel vaguely uneasy. Many of the episodes end with cliffhangers, which helps keep a steady amount of anticipation in the listener.

I, admittedly, consume a pretty steady diet of creepy media from true crime podcasts and horror movies to dark graphic novels and conspiracy websites but Limetown was one of the first podcasts to make me reconsider listening to it in the dark. On my walk home. Alone. Some of the events that Haddock experiences in the course of investigating Limetown put chills down my spine and had me jumping at small noises. But I’m also really impressed by the way the podcast pulls me into the story, teasing out details in each episode and giving just enough information to keep me (rather desperately) wondering what in the hell actually happened. What can I say, a mystery wrapped up in a conspiracy that involves creepy experiments? That is all kinds of in my wheelhouse.

I’m not alone in this either — two months after its July 2015 release, season one of Limetown was the number one US podcast on iTunes. Season two was released in late 2018, around the same time that Facebook announced a 10-episode series starring Jessica Biel and roughly the same time that Simon & Schuster released a prequel book. There’s also a Reddit fan page that I’m currently avoiding to prevent spoilers for season two, but it apparently contains some theories that are just as spooky as the podcast itself. With only 11 full episodes (and 8 teaser episodes of roughly 1-9 minutes), it’s easy to tear through both seasons. Just maybe leave a light on.

Engadget is the original home for technology news and reviews. Since our founding in 2004, we’ve grown from an exhaustive source for consumer tech news to a global multimedia organization covering the intersection of technology, gaming and entertainment. Today, Engadget hosts the archives and expertise of early digital publishing players like Joystiq, TUAW and gdgt, and produces the Internet’s most compelling videos, reviews, features and breaking news about the people, products and ideas shaping our world. After 14 years in the game, we’re leveraging our history to bring the future into focus.

0
Shares

Share

Tweet

Share


Save




Comments

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Advertisements

Bitcoin Basher Jamie Dimon Launches First Bank Backed Cryptocurrency – Crypto.IQ | Bitcoin and Investment News from Inside Experts You Can Trust

Bitcoin Basher Jamie Dimon Launches First Bank Backed Cryptocurrency – Crypto.IQ | Bitcoin and Investment News from Inside Experts You Can Trust

JP Morgan, the investment bank giant led by Jamie Dimon, has recently announced that it will launch its own cryptocurrency. The coin is known as JPM Coin and will be used to settle payments in the bank’s wholesale payments business. Wholesale payments move more than $6 trillion each day. The coin will in use within months, according to the bank.

JP Morgan sees a regulated cryptocurrency as a method to reduce risk and enable faster transfers for clients, although it has frequently criticized public cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

The token could potentially replace wire transfers and reduce settlement times to mere moments instead of days. Proponents of Bitcoin recognize that the flagship cryptocurrency offers the same benefits to its users. However, JPM Coin could offer an added benefit of speeding up the settlement for securities issuance.

The bank posted a Q&A on its website in response to the announcement.

“We have always believed in the potential of blockchain technology, and we are supportive of cryptocurrencies as long as they are properly controlled and regulated,” the bank said in a statement. “As a globally regulated bank, we believe we have a unique opportunity to develop the capability in a responsible way with the oversight of our regulators. Ultimately, we believe that JPM Coin can yield significant benefits for blockchain applications by reducing clients’ counterparty and settlement risk, decreasing capital requirements and enabling instant value transfer.”

The answer appears to acknowledge the benefits that cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based money offer but suggests these benefits are only tangible when the cryptocurrency is properly controlled and regulated. This is in direct opposition to the stance taken by many cryptocurrency experts, who would suggest that cryptocurrencies only have meaningful benefits if they lack a central authority. However, it represents another step closer to actual cryptocurrencies by the bank, which has historically only acknowledged blockchain technology and not cryptocurrencies.

JPM Coin will be issued on top of Quorum, the JP Morgan developed version of Ethereum. Quorum is a permissioned blockchain, unlike Ethereum which is a public blockchain. This means that all of the nodes in the network are run by the bank or other trusted parties. The company said that the coin will eventually be extended to other platforms but did not state which platforms or how this would take place. It also stated that while JPM Coin is currently a token which is redeemable 1:1 with the US dollar, like many stablecoins (Tether, TUSD, etc.), it will not be the only fiat currency JP Morgan tackles in this way.

Don’t expect to start using JPM Coin though, the bank said that the coin will only be available for institutional clients not for individuals. If you are a large enterprise client, you will soon be able to directly transact using JPM Coins, but if you are an individual your only benefit will come from the cost savings these businesses will receive.

Ultimately, the coin represents another step in the gradual embrace of all things blockchain and cryptocurrency by large financial institutions. While JP Morgan’s official stance is still one that rejects public cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, we have watched these institutions inch closer and closer to all of the innovations that have emerged from the cryptocurrency sector. While we still don’t know whether they will ever embrace the larger cryptocurrency world, it is certainly apparent they are moving closer to it.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://news.google.com/news/rss/headlines/section/q/cryptocurrency/cryptocurrency?ned=us&hl=en&gl=US

“cryptocurrency” – Google News
Google News

Harman’s Esquire Mini 2 Bluetooth speaker is almost as slim as your phone

Harman’s Esquire Mini 2 Bluetooth speaker is almost as slim as your phone

Let’s start with the good news about Harman Kardon’s Esquire Mini 2 micro Bluetooth speaker: Its design has been upgraded along with its sound and battery life. 

It also charges via USB-C now instead of micro USB. And its list price ($130, £130) is lower than what the original Esquire Mini cost when it first came out a few years back, though that discontinued model is now half the price of this one.

See it at B&H

Note that CNET may get get a share of revenue from the sales linked above.

So, what’s the bad news? Well, the fact is you can only get so much bass out of speaker that’s not much bigger or thicker than today’s phones — perhaps appropriately since, like the original, this doubles as an external battery charger with a USB out port. So while its performance is impressive for its small size, don’t expect to rock the house with this little guy.

What you get in the box.


Sarah Tew/CNET

It really is a nice-looking device, available in three equally appealing color options (black, copper and silver). Weighing in at 8.8 ounces or 250 grams, it’s 12 grams heavier than the original Esquire Mini and virtually the same size as an iPhone ($1,000 at Amazon) but thicker, with a depth of a little over an inch or 26mm. The metallic border and tiny raised buttons are also in keeping with what you’d expect from a phone design. A faux leather case is included (it looks a fatter eyeglass case) along with a USB-C charging cable.

The back is finished in faux leather and the built-in kick is wider and better designed than the kickstand on the original Esquire Mini. It props the speaker up at a 45-degree angle.

There are volume controls on top of the speaker along with a pause-play button that doubles as an answer-end button for speakerphone calls. Double tap that button to skip a track froward and triple tap to skip back.

It’s about the size of a iPhone X/XS only thicker.


Sarah Tew/CNET

View the Original Article . . .

David Carnoy {authorlink}
https://www.cnet.com/g00/3_c-6bbb.hsjy.htr_/c-6RTWJUMJZX77x24myyux78x3ax2fx2fbbb.hsjy.htrx2fwx78x78x2fwjanjbx78x2f_$/$/$/$?i10c.ua=1&i10c.dv=14 CNET Reviews – Most Recent Reviews

CNET brings you the top unbiased editorial reviews and ratings for tech products, along with specs, user reviews, prices and more.

http://i.i.cbsi.com/cnwk.1d/i/ne/gr/prtnr/CNET_Logo_150.gif

Netflix’s LA office reportedly under lockdown due to active shooter

Netflix’s LA office reportedly under lockdown due to active shooter


Netflix

According to tweets from people in the area and reports by local news station KTLA, the Los Angeles offices of Netflix have been locked down due to reports of a person with a deadly weapon in the area. KTLA is also on lockdown as its offices are nearby, and has reported on Twitter that police have a suspect in custody.

Developing…

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

AI can write disturbingly believable fake news

AI can write disturbingly believable fake news


Patrick Daxenbichler via Getty Images

AI is getting better and better at writing convincing material, and that’s leading its creators to wonder whether they should release the technology in the first place. Elon Musk’s OpenAI has developed an algorithm that can generate plausible-looking fake news stories on any topic using just a handful of words as a starting point. It was originally designed as a generalized language AI that could answer questions, summarizing stories and translating text, but researchers soon realized that it could be used for far more sinister purposes, like pumping out disinformation in large volumes. As a result, the team only plans to make a “simplified version” of its AI available to the public, according to MIT Technology Review.

The technology thankfully has some rough edges at the moment. It frequently writes stories that are either plagiarized or are only cohesive on the surface, and only occasionally hits the jackpot. However, OpenAI’s Jack Clark warned that it might take just “one or two years” before there’s a system capable of reliably producing fake news that needs a thorough fact check to disprove.

And that’s the core problem. While OpenAI is focused on ethical implementations and won’t knowingly enable fake news, it’s just one organization. There’s a larger concern that an unscrupulous (or unwitting) company or a hostile government might develop a powerful AI that disseminates falsehoods on a large scale. Social networks have enjoyed some success in fighting fake news, but they might struggle if there’s a flood of machine-generated misinformation.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Cryptocurrency Latest Update: Cryptocurrencies Are Useless According To Harvard Cryptographer Bruce Schneider – Cryptocurrency News Today 

Cryptocurrency Latest Update: Cryptocurrencies Are Useless According To Harvard Cryptographer Bruce Schneider – Cryptocurrency News Today 

Cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology have faced a lot of criticism over the years. This isn’t a surprise as every technology must find some form of resistance before it is massively embraced. The most recent attack on the cryptocurrency industry was from Bruce Schneier, a Harvard cryptographer who bashed Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in an op-ed interview.

Cryptocurrency Is Only Useful To Nefarious Groups And Individuals

According to Schneier, only nefarious individuals and groups have a use for cryptocurrencies. To the average individual leading an honest life, cryptocurrencies are useless. Only shady businesses and groups would be interested in moving money without alarming the government and other centralized authorities. Schneier made reference to many debunked and discredited points stating that the original purpose of Bitcoin was defeated by the reality of its development. What this means is that Bitcoin isn’t just risky and difficult but it has been unable to deliver on its promise as stated in the whitepaper and so it is useless.

Bitcoin (BTC) Price Today – BTC / USD

During the interview, Schneier talked about the issue of trust. According to him, this is the biggest failure of Bitcoin. He said that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were created to enable trustless electronic transactions. However, looking at the infrastructure critically, you’ll see that it is almost impossible for it to function without trust defeating the purpose of a decentralized system.

Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, users of cryptocurrencies have to trust miners to follow the ideal sequences during the Bitcoin mining process to prevent monetary loss due to system crash according to Schneier. Schneier believes that Bitcoin has taken away trust from humans and handed it to technology that doesn’t have guaranteed security. In his words:

“If a Bitcoin exchange is hacked, you will lose all your money. If a BTC wallet is hacked, you will lose all your money. Maybe you forget to log out after visiting an exchange, you can lose all your money. If the smart contract gets infected with a bug, you’re still going to lose all your money. If the blockchain is hacked, you’ll lose all your money. So, in more than one way, it’s easier to trust people than to trust this technology. It is better to trust a human system that is legally regulated than to trust a computer code that you cannot audit.”

Bitcoins Has Hidden Charges And Constitutes Environmental Hazards

After attacking the technical accuracy of cryptocurrencies, Schneier moved ahead to the environmental impact. In his opinion, the massive energy requirements of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies make them environmental hazards. He doesn’t believe the energy consumption is worth the reward and this is another reason why cryptocurrencies are pointless according to him.

He also made mention of the fact that Bitcoin transaction fees are difficult to determine compared to centralized institutions that have charges that are easy to calculate. He believes Bitcoin transaction fees are hidden although it’s not clear how he came to this conclusion.

Finally, Schneier said that the immutable nature of blockchain technology is a problem as it makes it impossible to correct a mistake. In his words: “You can lose all your savings by making one small mistake”. This was his concluding point for defending his opinion that cryptocurrencies are useless.

What do you think about Schneier’s comments? Are cryptocurrencies truly useless to the regular person? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://news.google.com/news/rss/headlines/section/q/cryptocurrency/cryptocurrency?ned=us&hl=en&gl=US

“cryptocurrency” – Google News
Google News

Facebook: No, we don’t limit your News Feed to 26 people

Facebook: No, we don’t limit your News Feed to 26 people


Urupong via Getty Images

There’s no shortage of weird copypaste memes and fake news circulating on Facebook, but it seems to be sick and tired of one in particular. In a blog post, the social network has clarified that a meme claiming its News Feed only shows posts from 26 of your closest friends is categorically false. It’s an old copypasta that’s been circulating on the website since 2017 and has been debunked again and again. However, the company has taken the time to address it now, because it apparently still keeps on popping up. Facebook-owned Instagram recently issued a similar statement to put an end to a nearly identical meme going around on the platform.

Ramya Sethuraman, Facebook’s product manager for ranking, said:

“The idea that News Feed only shows you posts from a set number of friends is a myth. The goal of News Feed is to show you the posts that matter to you so that you have an enjoyable experience. If we somehow blocked you from seeing content from everyone but a small set of your friends, odds are you wouldn’t return.”

That said, Facebook admits that there’s a grain of truth in that old copypasta (see below), which includes a plea to leave a comment on the post. Its algorithm determines the content you’d like to see on your News Feed based on nature and level of interaction, after all.

Live videos are more likely to show up at the top of your feed than recorded ones, for instance, and you’re more likely to come across status updates from people you regularly Like or engage with on the comments section. Meanwhile, you’d usually have to scroll down quite a bit to see posts from friends you don’t usually talk to.

In other words, you might see the same people again and again — to someone who doesn’t know how the algorithm works, that 26-friend limit could seem plausible. If you’d like to know if you missed anything from your other friends, you can always switch up your News Feed order. Simply click the three dots beside News Feed on Facebook’s left-hand desktop menu and choose “Most Recent.”

Here’s a copy one of the meme’s permutations:

“How to avoid hearing from the same 26 FB friends and nobody else:

Here is a post explaining why we don’t see all posts from our friends….

News feed recently shows only posts from the same few people, about 25, repeatedly the same, because facebook has a new algorithm.

Their system chooses the people to read Your post. However, I would like to choose for myself, Therefore, I ask you a favor: if you read this message leave me a quick comment, a “hello”, a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my news feed.

Don’t just “Like”, Facebook requires a “Comment”. Even one word! Thanks!!!

Otherwise Facebook chooses who to show me and instead I don’t need facebook to choose my friends!

Do not hesitate to copy and paste on your wall so you can have more interaction with all your contacts and bypass the system. That’s why we don’t see all posts from our friends!”

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

A very small number of crops are dominating globally: That’s bad news for sustainable agriculture

A very small number of crops are dominating globally: That’s bad news for sustainable agriculture

A new U of T study suggests that globally we’re growing more of the same kinds of crops, and this presents major challenges for agricultural sustainability on a global scale.

The study, done by an international team of researchers led by U of T assistant professor Adam Martin, used data from the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to look at which crops were grown where on large-scale industrial farmlands from 1961 to 2014.

They found that within regions crop diversity has actually increased — in North America for example, 93 different crops are now grown compared to 80 back in the 1960s. The problem, Martin says, is that on a global scale we’re now seeing more of the same kinds of crops being grown on much larger scales.

In other words, large industrial-sized farms in Asia, Europe, North and South America are beginning to look the same.

“What we’re seeing is large monocultures of crops that are commercially valuable being grown in greater numbers around the world,” says Martin, who is an ecologist in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at U of T Scarborough.

“So large industrial farms are often growing one crop species, which are usually just a single genotype, across thousands of hectares of land.”

Soybeans, wheat, rice and corn are prime examples. These four crops alone occupy just shy of 50 per cent of the world’s entire agricultural lands, while the remaining 152 crops cover the rest.

It’s widely assumed that the biggest change in global agricultural diversity took part during the so-called Columbia exchange of the 15th and 16th centuries where commercially important plant species were being transported to different parts of the world.

But the authors found that in the 1980s there was a massive increase in global crop diversity as different types of crops were being grown in new places on an industrial scale for the first time. By the 1990s that diversity flattened out, and what’s happened since is that diversity across regions began to decline.

The lack of genetic diversity within individual crops is pretty obvious, says Martin. For example, in North America, six individual genotypes comprise about 50 per cent of all maize (corn) crops.

This decline in global crop diversity is an issue for a number of reasons. For one, it affects regional food sovereignty. “If regional crop diversity is threatened, it really cuts into people’s ability to eat or afford food that is culturally significant to them,” says Martin.

There is also an ecological issue; think potato famine, but on a global scale. Martin says if there’s increasing dominance by a few genetic lineages of crops, then the global agricultural system becomes increasingly susceptible to pests or diseases. He points to a deadly fungus that continues to devastate banana plantations around the world as an example.

He hopes to apply the same global-scale analysis to look at national patterns of crop diversity as a next step for the research. Martin adds that there’s a policy angle to consider, since government decisions that favour growing certain kinds of crops may contribute to a lack of diversity.

“It will be important to look at what governments are doing to promote more different types of crops being grown, or at a policy-level, are they favouring farms to grow certain types of cash crops,” he says.

The study, which is published in the journal PLOS ONE, received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Toronto. Original written by Don Campbell. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.sciencedaily.com/rss/top/environment.xml Top Environment News — ScienceDaily

Top stories featured on ScienceDaily’s Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, and Fossils & Ruins sections.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/scidaily-logo-rss.png

Facebook’s head of PR leaves amid ongoing crises

Facebook’s head of PR leaves amid ongoing crises


Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group via Getty Images

Facebook is seemingly bouncing from crisis to crisis. It might not be happy, then, that the company’s leading communications exec is heading for the exit. Recode has learned that Technology Communications VP Caryn Marooney (pictured at right) is leaving Facebook after eight years at the company. There’s no mention of why Marooney is leaving, although she painted it as an amicable departure. “I have more faith in Facebook than ever,” she said.

She’ll stay on at the company until a replacement is available.

This isn’t the first big upheaval in Facebook’s public relations universe. Among other departures, its policy and comms lead Elliot Schrage left in 2018 with UK politician Nick Clegg eventually filling his shoes. However, Marooney’s decision doesn’t really help matters. She oversees communications for many key products, including Instagram and WhatsApp — Facebook may soon have to navigate privacy debacles, election integrity efforts and other challenges with a fresh face at the helm.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

WhatsApp deletes 2 million accounts per month to curb fake news

WhatsApp deletes 2 million accounts per month to curb fake news


Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WhatsApp is trying a number of measures to fight its fake news problem, including study grants, a grievance officer and labels on forwarded messages. However, it’s also relying on a comparatively old-fashioned approach: outright deleting accounts. The messaging service has revealed in a white paper that it’s deleting 2 million accounts per month. And in many cases, users don’t need to complain.

About 95 percent of the offenders are deleted after WhatsApp spots “abnormal” activity, the company’s Matt Jones told The Guardian. They might immediately send out messages without a “typing” dialog,” or start sending a flurry of messages soon after signing up. The firm’s Carl Woog added that i would ban accounts involved in “automated or bulk” behavior.

Whether or not that’s enough to help is another story. India’s elections are coming up in April, and it’s no secret that political campaigns have tried to circumvent forwarding limits and other obstacles to spread their messages. It could only take a handful of accounts to spread a bogus rumor, and there’s no guarantee WhatsApp will catch perpetrators in a timely fashion.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

ISS toilet leak dumps two gallons of ‘water’ on crew

ISS toilet leak dumps two gallons of ‘water’ on crew


ALJ1 via Getty Images

If you think a burst toilet is bad news on Earth, spare a thought for the astronauts who have to deal with it in zero gravity. That’s what the poor American souls on the ISS were left grappling with last week when their $19 million commode leaked, according to a NASA status report. Around 9.5 litres of water spilled out as a result of the, um, accident. The crew had to clean it up using towels while working to fix the leak, claimed the space agency.

The current toilet was delivered to the craft aboard space shuttle Endeavour in 2008, after the previous one malfunctioned. At that price, you’d expect something fancy but astronaut Peggy Whitson previously described it as a “camping trip.” It basically involves sitting on a small plate-sized hole on top of a silver can or peeing into a yellow cone. The accumulated waste is then sealed and blasted back to Earth on a cargo ship that burns up before impact. Around 80 to 85 percent of urine, meanwhile, is turned into drinking water.

Fortunately for the ISS’ inhabitants, the experience will be a tad more pleasant from now on. The crew have installed a new double stall enclosure into Node 3: a module of the ISS that also contains exercise equipment. It will afford them some much-needed “privacy for both the Toilet System and the Hygiene Compartment,” according to NASA. They also have a brand-spanking new can to look forward to in 2020.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

‘Apex Legends’ isn’t ‘Titanfall 3’, and that’s okay

‘Apex Legends’ isn’t ‘Titanfall 3’, and that’s okay

There is no Titanfall 3.

Respawn Entertainment producer Drew McCoy broke the news in a Eurogamer interview yesterday, extinguishing any hope that the futuristic mech-shooter could return to PCs and modern consoles. Instead, the EA-owned developer is offering a free-to-play game called Apex Legends. Is it worth your time? Yes, though for reasons you might not expect.

First, the basics. Apex is a 60-player deathmatch comprised of three-person teams. Before the game, you’re required to choose one of eight heroes that have unique abilities. You can’t have any doubles on your team — so mastering multiple characters is a must — but you will inevitably find clones of each hero out on the desert and jungle-themed battlefield.

Like Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and every other battle royale game, you can choose where to start on the map. One of your teammates is assigned ‘Jumpmaster’, but the other two can make suggestions by tapping R1, RB, or an equivalent keyboard command on PC.

Respawn calls this quick-chat system ‘Smart Comms’ and is, to put it mildly, freaking brilliant.

Want your team to go somewhere? Hit the button and everyone will see a waypoint both in the world and on their mini-map. Your hero will also say something explanatory, like “we should go here,” so everybody else knows which of their partners made the recommendation. You can use the same button prompt to highlight equipment caches and specific items, including weapons, armour, ammunition and health packs, scattered throughout the world. The system makes it simple to keep a squad together and ensure that everyone is able to find the loot they want and need to survive.

Double-tapping the button, meanwhile, will tell your friends when and roughly where you’ve spotted an enemy. You can, of course, talk the old-fashioned way with a headset. But for those who like to stay mute — which is a lot of people — this is a godsend, and ensures that everyone can communicate quickly and effectively throughout each match.

Apex Legends

Apex Legends is set in the Titanfall universe, so many of the weapons and gear will be familiar to franchise fans. Some, but not all of the basic Titanfall abilities have carried over too. The quippy robot ‘Pathfinder’, for instance, can use a grapple to quickly scale cliffs and buildings. The mysterious ‘Wraith’, meanwhile, can enter the reality-breaking void to avoid damage and create safe tunnels with two connected portals.

The abilities can be combined in some truly fascinating ways. In one match, for instance, I grappled to the top of a rickety tower and quickly dispatched some unsuspecting foes. I held that position with my teammate, a Wraith, until the ring of death started to close in behind us. Instead of taking the stairs, which led straight to an enemy ambush, my partner set up a portal to a safe spot nearby. We were able to keep our spot until the last possible second and then flank our opponents below.

The character-specific powers are similar to Overwatch. Blizzard’s co-operative shooter, however, has markedly stronger hero designs. Apex isn’t an ugly game but the “legends” sit in a tonal no man’s land between the zany antics of Overwatch and gritty, mud-covered soldiers of Call of Duty.

Some Titanfall abilities are absent, too. You can’t wall-run, double-jump or summon a robot with an absurdly large sword. (I miss you, Ronin.)

Apex Legends

Still, I’m impressed with Respawn’s imagination. The game has a two-stage death system, for instance, that rewards players who work together. If your health drops to zero, the rest of your squad still has some time to run over and revive you. Wait too long and you’ll turn into a crate with a customizable banner on top. A second timer will then start — and if this one runs dry, you’re out of the game for good. If your teammates are fast, however, they can grab this emblem and revive you at a respawn point.

You’re stronger, of course, as a three-man team. The respawn points are an obvious place for opposing squads to hide and launch skirmishes, however. The closest one could also be outside the ring, or inside a zone that will soon be consumed. Revivals are tricky, therefore, and have the potential to wipe out your entire squad. Do you gamble and go for it anyway? With two people, you can easily set up a lookout near the respawn point. Or do you abandon your friend and try to finish the game as a duo?

These choices are littered throughout every match. Do you start in a quiet corner of the map, or make for a hovering dropship that’s brimming with loot and, no doubt, enemy squads? Should you focus on shotguns or sniper rifles? Which type of grenade will give you the most strategic advantage?

Apex Legends

I’m upset, of course, that Titanfall 3 isn’t happening.

Apex Legends is a polished game, however, with varied heroes and a few subtle nods to Titanfall lore. Respawn is also promising plenty of updates, broken down into Fortnite-style seasons, that will add new heroes, weapons and cosmetic items. You can pick up a Battle Pass from March, which gives you more loot to unlock, or play the game free of charge.

Compared to Blackout, the battle royale in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and the soon to be released Firestorm mode in Battlefield V — each of which require the base game to play — Apex Legends is an enticing free-to-play package. The shooter will have a hard time, however, competing with the cultural phenomenon that is Fortnite and the wealth of free-to-play rivals including PUBG and H1Z1. But if the game is successful, who knows, maybe Respawn can find a way to include its much-loved robots.

Apex Legends is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true

Properties Are Still Being Sold for Cryptocurrency Despite the Bear Market – Bitcoin News

Properties Are Still Being Sold for Cryptocurrency Despite the Bear Market – Bitcoin News

Bitcoin and many other digital assets have lost more than 80 percent of their fiat value since 2017. Despite this, the trend for people selling homes for cryptocurrency continues to thrive amidst one of the longest bear markets in crypto history.

Also read: Canadian Exchange Insolvent After CEO Dies With Keys to $145M of Cryptocurrency

The Real Estate and Crypto Asset Trend Continues in 2019

It’s been one of the longest bear markets ever in bitcoin land, but digital asset proponents are trucking along with relentless faith hoping that the lows will eventually come to an end. Because of the price drop, the entire cryptocurrency economy has been affected as blockchain companies have suffered layoffs and cryptocurrency-related internet searches have dropped significantly. Not all crypto trends have been downwards however: people are still interested in crypto-focused conferences and over-the-counter (OTC) bitcoin volumes have been climbing. Another trend that’s managed to survive is the real estate market and its newfound relationship with cryptocurrencies. Back in late 2017, when crypto assets were extremely valuable, people were selling real estate for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. And now, even after the 80+ percent drop in value, individuals and real estate firms are still putting homes on the market for digital currencies.

Properties Are Still Being Sold for Cryptocurrency Despite the Bear Market
A Saddlebunch Key estate located in Key West, Florida can be exchanged for digital currencies.

Home Owners in Australia Are Still Selling for Cryptocurrencies

On Jan. 30, a regional news outlet reported how property in Australia is still being sold for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For instance, Real Estate agency Ray White is selling a luxurious three-bathroom home in Surfers Paradise for $580,000 and the owner is willing to accept payment in BTC. In a suburb of Darwin, an apartment is selling for roughly 126 BTC or $600,000. The private listing says “We are happy to accept Bitcoin or any other major cryptocurrency instead of Australian dollars for this property.” Not only are homes selling for cryptocurrencies in Australia but people can purchase parcels of land with digital assets as well. Another listing located in the town of Helidon, Queensland has the homeowner seeking the equivalent of $86,000 paid in BTC. “You can purchase this property entirely using bitcoins,” the listing details.

Properties Are Still Being Sold for Cryptocurrency Despite the Bear Market
Ray White Real Estate is selling a Surfers Paradise home for $580,000 which can be purchased with BTC.

There Are People Listing Luxury Apartments, Estates and More for Digital Assets in 2019

Australia isn’t the only region seeing this trend, as real estate listings being sold for cryptocurrencies has become a mainstay over the last two years. For instance, in San Fransisco, according to a Craigslist ad, a mid-century hillside estate can be purchased for $3.3 million. “The seller may consider offers including consideration paid in bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency,” explains the advertisement.

Properties Are Still Being Sold for Cryptocurrency Despite the Bear Market
This Playa Colorado beach home is for sale and the owner is happy to accept cryptocurrencies.

In Hughson California, you can buy a $2.3 million 5,138 sq ft luxury cherry estate with four bedrooms. The property also includes 14 acres of land and was designed by Conrad Sanchez. For 70 BTC, a property in the beautiful region of Playa Colorado can be purchased that includes its own private beach club and restaurant membership. For $900,000 in digital currencies, there’s a 3-bedroom, 1,800 sq ft Key West estate for sale located on Saddlebunch Key.

Properties Are Still Being Sold for Cryptocurrency Despite the Bear Market
A $2.3 million 5138 sq ft luxury cherry estate in California with four bedrooms is being sold for digital currencies.

Lots of Parcels and Acreage for Sale

Homes and apartments are not the only types of properties being listed for cryptocurrencies as there are lots of plots of land for sale too. You can use BTC, ETH, or LTC to purchase 41 hectares of land by the Baltic Sea which consists of eight interconnected parcels.

Properties Are Still Being Sold for Cryptocurrency Despite the Bear Market
The owner of over 300 acres of land located in Bouse, Arizona will sell the large parcel for digital assets.

In Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, someone could snatch up a vacant Poconos lot and acquire a ½ acre of this popular vacation land for digital currencies. There are almost 12 acres of land for sale that borders Boise in the region of Sweet, Idaho and the owner is interested in a digital currency trade. Or if you want a whole bunch of acreage, for $475,000 in cryptos you can purchase a 300-acre farm with water in Bouse, Arizona.

It seems that people are still finding value in listing luxury homes, apartments and lots of acreage in exchange for cryptocurrencies. The lower cryptocurrency values may entice owners selling properties because essentially they can gather a lot more coins. So far, in 2019, there are still plenty of sellers who are attracted to this form of payment and are happy to accept cryptocurrencies instead of fiat in exchange for property.

What do you think about the continued trend of people listing homes and land in exchange for cryptocurrencies? Why do you think this trend has been persistent? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: Bitcoin.com does not endorse these real estate products/services. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned listings, advertisements, companies or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com and the author are not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. This editorial is for informational purposes only. 


Image credits: Shutterstock, Ray White Real Estate, and Craigslist. 


Express yourself freely at Bitcoin.com’s user forums. We don’t censor on political grounds. Check forum.Bitcoin.com

Tags in this story
Acres, Apartments, Australia, BCH, Bitcoin, bitcoin cash, Blockchain, BTC, Buyers, Condos, Cryptocurrencies, Digital Assets, Global, Home Owners, Land, Luxury Homes, N-Featured, Plots, Ray White Real Estate, Real estate, Real Estate Listings, Sellers

Jamie Redman

Jamie Redman is a financial tech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He has a passion for Bitcoin, open source code, and decentralized applications. Redman has written thousands of articles for news.Bitcoin.com about the disruptive protocols emerging today.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://news.google.com/news/rss/headlines/section/q/cryptocurrency/cryptocurrency?ned=us&hl=en&gl=US

“cryptocurrency” – Google News
Google News

A warming world increases air pollution: Climate change is warming the ocean, but it’s warming land faster and that’s really bad news for air quality

A warming world increases air pollution: Climate change is warming the ocean, but it’s warming land faster and that’s really bad news for air quality

Climate change is warming the ocean, but it’s warming land faster and that’s really bad news for air quality all over the world, says a new University of California, Riverside study.

The study, published February 4 in Nature Climate Change, shows that the contrast in warming between the continents and sea, called the land-sea warming contrast, drives an increased concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere that cause air pollution.

Aerosols are tiny solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in the atmosphere. They can come from natural sources, like dust or wildfires, or human-made sources such as vehicle and industrial emissions. Aerosols affect the climate system, including disturbances to the water cycle, as well as human health. They also cause smog and other kinds of air pollution that can lead to health problems for people, animals, and plants.

“A robust response to an increase in greenhouse gases is that the land is going to warm faster than the ocean. This enhanced land warming is also associated with increased continental aridity,” explained first author Robert Allen, an associate professor of earth sciences at UC Riverside.

The increase in aridity leads to decreased low cloud cover and less rain, which is the main way that aerosols are removed from the atmosphere.

To determine this, the researchers ran simulations of climate change under two scenarios. The first assumed a business-as-usual warming model, in which warming proceeds at a constant, upward rate. The second model probed a scenario in which the land warmed less than expected.

In the business-as-usual scenario, enhanced land warming increased continental aridity and, subsequently, the concentration of aerosols that leads to more air pollution. However, the second model — which is identical to the business-as-usual model except the land warming is weakened — leads to a muted increase in continental aridity and air pollution. Thus, the increase in air pollution is a direct consequence of enhanced land warming and continental drying.

The results show that the hotter Earth gets, the harder it’s going to be to keep air pollution down to a certain level without strict control over the sources of aerosols.

Because the researchers wanted to understand how greenhouse gas warming affects air pollution, they assumed no change to human-made, or anthropogenic, aerosol emissions.

“That’s probably not going to be true because there’s a strong desire to reduce air pollution, which involves reducing anthropogenic aerosol emissions,” cautioned Allen. “So this result represents an upper bound.”

But it also suggests that if the planet keeps warming, larger reductions in anthropogenic aerosol emissions will be required to improve air quality.

“The question is what level of air quality are we going to accept,” said Allen. “Even though California has some of the strictest environmental laws in the country we still have relatively poor air quality, and it’s much worse in many countries.”

Unless anthropogenic emission reductions occur, a warmer world will be associated with more aerosol pollution.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.sciencedaily.com/rss/top/environment.xml Top Environment News — ScienceDaily

Top stories featured on ScienceDaily’s Plants & Animals, Earth & Climate, and Fossils & Ruins sections.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/scidaily-logo-rss.png

Don’t trust all of those health articles you see in your Facebook feed

Don’t trust all of those health articles you see in your Facebook feed


NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook’s battle with fake news stories goes beyond the world of politics. According to fact-checking site Health Feedback, seven of the 10 most shared health stories on Facebook in 2018 contained false or misleading information. The top 100 stories fared slightly better, but stories with misinformation were shared 12.3 million times. Well-sourced and accurate stories were shared 11 million times.

Health Feedback’s research looked health-related articles from a number of well-known publications, as well as obscure sites that managed to spread stories with attention-grabbing headlines and misleading information. The most common topics to be subjects for these highly-shared storied were disease and disease treatment, food and nutrition and vaccinations. Surprisingly, most of the vaccine stories were accurate — though Health Feedback notes most of the stories were covering an uptick in vaccine-preventable diseases caused by anti-vaccination movements. Food and nutrition suffered from the most instances of false or misleading information.

If there’s a glimmer of hope in the study, it’s that on the whole, there were actually more articles in the top 100 with valid information than not, with 45 percent receiving a “high” or “very high” reliability rating compared to just 35 percent receiving a “low” or “very low.” Facebook has launched several initiatives with the goal to weed out fake news, though most are focused on political stories. It might be time for the social network to turn its attention to health news seeing as the stories don’t just hurt political discourse, it can actually hurt people.

View the Original Article . . .

{authorlink}
https://www.engadget.com/rss.xml Engadget RSS Feed

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

https://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.engadget.com/media/feedlogo.gif?cachebust=true