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Industry & Technology

Whoooaaa duuuuude: Why we stretch words in tweets and texts

Ars Technica - 1 hour 5 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Paul Linse | Getty Images)

On Twitter, when a simple ha won’t do, there’s always hahahaaaa, haaaahaaaa, or even hahahahahahahahahahahahaha, indicating you’ve just read the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. (Or that you’re a sarcastic talking raccoon.) These are known as stretchable or lengthened words, and now researchers from the University of Vermont have figured out just how pervasive they are on Twitter, uncovering fascinating patterns about their use.

Stretchability is a powerful linguistic device that visually punches up a written word, imparting a wide range of emotions. That goes for the gooooooaaaaaaal of a soccer announcer, a teenager’s exasperated finallyyyyy, and a surfer’s aweeeeeesome. And booooyare they popular on Twitter. Writing today in the journal PLOS One, the researchers detail how they combed through 100 billion tweets, mapping how often these words are stretched, and how far they are elongated—haha versus hahahahaaaa, for example.

Consider dude and its many formulations. “That can convey basically anything, like ‘Duuuuude, that's awful,’” says University of Vermont applied mathematician Peter Sheridan Dodds, one of the study’s coauthors. On the other hand, “Dude!” is different. “It could be excitement; it could be joy,” says Dodds.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

'Scorching-hot hacked computer burned my hand'

BBC Technology News - 12 hours 24 min ago
Student's computer overheated after it was hit with a "crypto-jacking" attack.

Twitter hides Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence'

BBC Technology News - 12 hours 55 min ago
For the first time, Twitter has hidden a tweet on the president's profile behind a warning.

CDC says its testing fail didn’t hurt US response. Experts disagree

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 10:45pm

Enlarge / Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), attends an event about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Drew Angerer)

The botched rollout of COVID-19 testing did not cripple the country’s early response to the pandemic, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed Friday.

CDC Director Robert Redfield cited a new analysis published by the agency Friday. The analysis suggests the new coronavirus began spreading in the country in late January or early February—but only at low levels. The study appears in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

With the new data, Redfield argued that the level of spread was so low in those early days that additional testing would not have made a difference in detecting the spread of the pandemic virus. If the CDC had initially produced and scaled up a functional test for COVID-19—which it infamously failed to do—“it really would be like looking for a needle in a haystack," Redfield said, according to NPR.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Western Digital gets sued for sneaking SMR disks into its NAS channel

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 10:40pm

Enlarge / Hattis Law isn't pulling any punches in the allegations made in its class-action lawsuit, specifically calling WD out not only for using SMR technology in less-than-ideal devices, but flatly accusing them of outright deception in the process. (credit: Hattis Law)

All three of the surviving conventional hard drive vendors—Toshiba, Western Digital, and Seagate—have gotten caught sneaking disks featuring Shingled Magnetic Recording technology into unexpected places recently. But Western Digital has been the most brazen of the three, and it's been singled out for a class action lawsuit in response.

Although all three major manufacturers quietly added SMR disks to their desktop hard drive line-up, Western Digital is the only one so far to slip them into its NAS (Network Attached Storage) stack. NAS drives are expected to perform well in RAID and other multiple disk arrays, whether ZFS pools or consumer devices like Synology or Netgear NAS appliances.

In sharp contrast to Western Digital's position on SMR disks as NAS, Seagate executive Greg Belloni told us that there weren't any SMR disks in the Ironwolf (competitor to Western Digital Red) line-up now and that the technology is not appropriate for that purpose.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

US “terminating relationship” with World Health Organization, Trump says

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 9:56pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Westend61)

President Trump today said the US government is "terminating our relationship" with the World Health Organization, alleging that the global health group has not implemented needed reforms and that it is controlled entirely by China.

"China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year, compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year," Trump said during a brief press conference at the White House Rose Garden (see video).

Trump halted funding to WHO in mid-April. On May 18, he sent a letter to WHO, saying that the US will permanently stop funding the group if it "does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days." It's only been 11 days since then, but Trump said today he is moving ahead with his threat.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

135-year-long streak is over: US renewable sources topped coal in 2019

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 9:45pm

Enlarge (credit: Mark Rickaby)

Two weeks ago, we covered a US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projection that renewable wind, solar, and hydroelectric power would top coal for total electricity generation in 2020. That was particularly believable given that renewables had beat coal in daily generation every day going back to March 24. As it happens, that daily streak finally came to an end this week, as coal picked up amid rising demand and a couple low days for wind. Coal likely topped renewables on Tuesday, although it’s possible that rooftop solar generation (not included in EIA’s daily data) extended the run until Wednesday.

But the EIA also released some numbers Thursday that highlight a related and interesting piece of trivia: if you include energy use beyond the electric sector and all types of renewable energy, renewables actually beat out coal last year. And to find the last time that was true, you have to go all the way back to the 1880s.

(credit: US EIA)

This comparison includes biofuels (like ethanol and biodiesel), wood-burning, and waste incineration or landfill gas. And beyond electricity, it adds in energy used by industry, residential and commercial buildings, and transportation—uses where coal plays little or no role.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

SpaceX’s Starship underwent a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly—we do mean rapid

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 9:10pm

Enlarge / Aftermath of SN static fire test on Friday. (credit: Screengrab from NASASpaceflight.com video)

On Friday, SpaceX prepared its latest iteration of the Starship prototype vehicle, known as Serial No. 4, or SN4, for a static fire test in Texas. The Raptor engine appeared to fire nominally for a couple of seconds at 1:47pm local time and then shut down as planned.

However, about one minute after engine shutdown there was some kind of uncontrolled gaseous leak, and one minute later the vehicle exploded almost instantaneously—a truly rapid Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly.

The Starship prototype, fueled with liquid oxygen and methane, appeared to be mostly destroyed when the fire and smoke cleared. The test stand also sustained substantial damage. Some of the surrounding ground support equipment appeared unharmed, but it is possible the shock wave from SN4's demise may have also damaged those structures.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Border Patrol flies anti-terrorism drone over Minneapolis protestors

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 8:42pm

Enlarge (credit: Customs and Border Patrol)

Thousands of people took to the streets of Minneapolis on Friday to protest the death of George Floyd, a local black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest. All the while, a Customs and Border Patrol drone kept a careful eye on the unfolding unrest.

The drone, using the tracking signal CBP104, took off from Grand Forks Airforce Base at 9:08 am Central Daylight Time and shortly afterward headed directly to Minneapolis, this feed from live flight tracking service FlightAware showed. The drone then circled the city six times from about 10:45 until noon. The aircraft maintained an altitude of about 20,000 feet.

Grand Forks AFB is the home of the Air Force's 319th Reconnaissance Wing. It is also a site Customs and Border Patrol personnel use for takeoff and landing of the Predator B unmanned aircraft system. CBP uses the drone in anti-terrorism operations by helping to identify and intercept potential terrorists and illegal cross-border activity.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

FCC Republican excitedly endorses Trump’s crackdown on social media

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 7:40pm

Enlarge / FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Republican Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission is cheering on President Trump's attack on Big Tech this week. The commissioner also accused social media platforms of bias against the president and of trying to swing the 2020 presidential election.

Carr has supported Trump's action in a series of tweets, in an official statement posted on the FCC website, and in interviews including one with Lou Dobbs on the Fox Business channel.

"This is really welcome news," Carr told Dobbs. "Since the 2016 election, the far left has hopped from hoax to hoax to hoax to explain how it lost to President Trump at the ballot box. One thing they've done is look to social media platforms and they've put pressure on them for the crime, in their view, of staying neutral in the 2016 election and they're committed to not letting those platforms stay neutral in the run-up to 2020. So this step by President Trump shines a light on some of that activity and tees up some steps that can be taken."

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Big Tech goes on pandemic M&A spree despite political backlash

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 7:19pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Big technology companies are hunting for deals at their fastest pace in years, racking up acquisitions and strategic investments despite increased regulatory scrutiny during the coronavirus-led market turmoil.

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have announced 19 deals this year, according to Refinitiv data from May 26, representing the fastest pace of acquisitions to this date since 2015.

The Financial Times on Tuesday reported Amazon was also in advanced talks to purchase the self-driving car company Zoox, which was valued at $3.2 billion two years ago. Meanwhile, Facebook in March announced its largest international investment yet, purchasing a $5.7 billion stake in the juggernaut Indian telecoms operator Reliance Jio.

Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

YouTube makes video chapters official

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 6:38pm

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto/Getty Images)

In your travels around YouTube the past few weeks, you might have seen a video or two that features "chapters." Chapters allow creators to timestamp and name sections of their videos for easy navigation. The feature has been in experimental mode for the past few weeks, but now YouTube is making chapters official.

Chapters add a lot of functionality to the YouTube seek bar. The bar is now chopped up into segments instead of being a solid red line. Mouse or drag over the segments and you'll get a thumbnail with the title of the chapter for that section of the seek bar. Below the seek bar, after the time, you'll now get the title of the current chapter, too. (Here's an example video.)

Video chapters result in a segmented seek bar and titles. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

YouTube creators can add chapters to their videos via the description. Just start a list of timestamps with "0:00" followed by chapter titles, with one timestamp on each line. If you don't want chapters, just don't start a timestamp list with "0:00."

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

iPhone privacy prompts discriminate against non-Apple apps, complaint says

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 6:28pm

Enlarge / Tile Mate, one of Tile’s tracking hardware products. (credit: Tile)

Tile, a maker of hardware and software for digitally tracking the location of personal possessions, has written a letter to the European Commission accusing Apple of anti-competitive behavior as rumors abound that Apple plans to launch a competitor to Tile in the near future. This follows similar complaints by Tile in the United States.

The letter claims that Apple favors FindMy, the tech giant’s own device tracking app, over Tile’s in a few specific ways and asks for the European Commission to open a probe into Apple’s business practices. Here’s an excerpt from the letter by Tile general counsel Kirsten Daru, which was acquired by Financial Times:

In the past twelve months, Apple has taken several steps to completely disadvantage Tile, including by making it more difficult for consumers to use our products and services. This is particularly concerning because Apple’s actions come at the same time that Apple both launched a new FindMy app that competes even more directly with Tile and also began preparing for the launch of a competitive hardware product.

One of Tile’s key arguments is that Apple defaults the “Always Allow” flag to "on" for location-based tracking in the FindMy app when users set up their phones, but third-party apps that perform similar functions default to "off." The result is that third-party apps must frequently show dialogues asking the user for permission until the user opts to manually turn on “Always Allow” for the app. This “denigrates the user experience,” according to Tile’s letter.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Ars verdict is in: Space Force is the best new series of 2020 (so far)

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 5:21pm

Earlier this week, Ars Senior Space Editor Eric Berger explored the space-tech accuracy of Netflix's new series Space Force. Now that its first season is in its entirety, the Ars culture section split up the duties of reviewing its fun, humor, and watchability. If you're looking for a TL;DR: We all like it for different reasons, and we think it's a sharp comedy in ways Ars readers will both appreciate and be surprised by. We've managed to leave everything below mostly spoiler-free, with the exception of a couple of jokes and plot points used to clarify our opinions.

Returning to TV comedy for the first time since The Office wrapped seven years ago, Steve Carell plays a general assigned the unenviable task of founding a new military branch in the new Netflix comedy series Space Force. And the Ars staff verdict is in: the series is a winner, eminently bingeable, and our favorite new show of 2020 so far.

Created by Carell and Greg Daniels (who also created Parks and Recreation and the new comedy series Upload), Space Force was inspired in part by the Trump administration's announcement that it would establish a national Space Force. The impressive cast also includes John Malkovich (The New Pope), Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation), Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley, Crazy Rich Asians), Noah Emmerich (The Americans), Lisa Kudrow (Friends), and Jane Lynch (Glee, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), among others.

Read 27 remaining paragraphs | Comments

“The future of gaming”: PlayStation 5 game reveal event dated for June 4

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 4:53pm

Enlarge / See you on Thursday, June 4, at 4pm ET. (credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Sony's painfully slow drip of PlayStation 5 information may finally open wide next week. The game publisher has scheduled a livestreaming event for Thursday, June 4 that will give fans their first peek at PlayStation 5's upcoming game library.

A blog post from Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan confirmed that the event will include "a first look at the games you’ll be playing after PlayStation 5 launches this holiday." Ryan told fans to expect this video presentation to last "a bit more than an hour."

Even before this June 4 presentation begins at 4pm ET, we have a major question: Will we see any first-party games, the ones that will likely be PlayStation 5 exclusives for some time? Ryan's blog post didn't clarify. His description of participating game developers was vague: "The games coming to PS5 represent the best in the industry from innovative studios that span the globe. Studios, both larger and smaller, those newer and those more established, all have been hard at work developing games that will showcase the potential of the hardware." Sony representatives did not immediately answer our questions about first-party software.

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Trump space speech in Florida likely to test apolitical nature of NASA

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 4:04pm

Enlarge / President Trump signs an Orion capsule hatch that will be used for the Artemis II mission as Vice President Mike Pence, First Lady Melania Trump, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (wearing a mask) look on. (credit: NASA)

After President Trump appointed a conservative Republican congressman from Oklahoma named Jim Bridenstine to become NASA's administrator, the legislator faced hard questions. During a Senate confirmation hearing in late 2017, Bridenstine was asked repeatedly whether he would honor NASA's tradition of remaining a bipartisan, apolitical agency.

"I want to make sure that NASA remains, as you said, apolitical, and I will do that to the best of my ability should I be confirmed," he said at the time.

Democratic senators were not convinced, and Bridenstine was ultimately confirmed on a party-line vote in 2018. However, in the two years since then, Bridenstine has remained true to his word. He has transcended politics and sought to reach out to both Republican and Democratic lawmakers during his tenure. He even appointed one of his harshest critics at the Senate confirmation hearing, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, to NASA's Advisory Council after Nelson lost his re-election bid in 2018.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

PlayStation 5: Sony confident coronavirus won't change release plans

BBC Technology News - May 29, 2020 - 4:00pm
The CEO of PlayStation reveals how it's responded to coronavirus as it prepares to release the PS5.

White House, Trump accounts both get Twitter rulebreaker warning

Ars Technica - May 29, 2020 - 3:40pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Twitter is once again facing the ire of its most famous user, President Donald Trump, after putting a warning label on one of Trump's tweets signaling that it breaks the service rules against glorifying violence.

Speaking about the unrest in Minneapolis, Trump tweeted, "These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"

Twitter does not generally delete Tweets posted by newsworthy figures. Instead, it puts a warning on the message indicating that it violates site rules but remains live due to potential public interest. Twitter's communication's team posted a notice that it was placing the public interest exemption label on Trump's tweet, explaining that, "based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today, the message fell afoul of the site's explicit policy prohibiting the glorification of violence.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Glastonbury Council plays down link to 'anti-5G' device

BBC Technology News - May 29, 2020 - 2:32pm
Glastonbury report insists recommendation of 5GBioShield came from committee member - not council.

BBC orders review of social media use by staff

BBC Technology News - May 29, 2020 - 1:02pm
The former director of global news at the BBC will examine online posts from programmes and staff.

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