Twitter launches prototype app, ‘twttr,’ to improve conversations


  Twitter on Monday launched its prototype app, ‘twttr,’ which lets testers try out new features and provide feedback. Twttr is the social network’s original name. The Twitter Prototype Program will try to make conversations easier to find and follow. Users can apply to join the program on Twitter’s site. They’ll get an email within a few weeks about their application status.  Those who are chosen for the program are asked to use twttr as their primary Twitter app, according to a series of screenshots posted by social media consultant…

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QAnon: The conspiracy theory that’s sparked Reddit bans, explained


The theorizing and fanfare around the QAnon theory has been taking place across the internet since before the 2016 presidential election went in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump. But it wasn’t until President Trump held a rally in Tampa Bay, Florida, in early August that the obscure theory came into the mainstream. The attention paid to the theory, and those spreading it earnestly or ironically, has since resulted in a series of bans across the web. This week, Reddit banned both r/greatawakening, fallback community r/The_GreatAwakening and several other related subreddits…

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Consumers no longer think voice assistants are mediocre


  It’s been a rough start for voice assistants. Not too long ago, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa were buggy and didn’t know the answer to plenty of obvious questions. While those problems still exist, consumers have found these digital helpers work much better than they did before. Now, 54 percent of US consumers say voice assistants work well. Forty-one percent said they work OK and just 5 percent said they work poorly. The results come from a late January survey of over 1,000 US adults by Adobe. The results,…

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New Firefox suggests ways to get more out of the web

If you visit YouTube with Firefox, you may see this prompt to try the Enhancer for YouTube extension.

Starting Tuesday, Firefox will nudge you to try out options designed to make the web more interesting, more useful or more productive. Mozilla’s new Firefox 64 keeps an eye on what you’re up to and prompts you to try extensions and features that could help you with that activity, the browser maker said. For example, if you open the same tab lots of times, it could suggest you pin it to your tab strip for easier future access. Other suggestions include installing the Facebook Container extension to curtail the social…

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YouTube reportedly making future exclusive content free with ads from 2020

New Turkish Law Allows Government Control Of Media Outlets And Internet Content

YouTube will reportedly make all its upcoming original programming free and ad-supported from 2020. That’ll mean you won’t need a YouTube Premium subscription to watch the Google-owned video sharing site’s original shows and movies, but you’ll have to sit through ads, Reuters reported Tuesday. YouTube said it’s making all Originals free with ads, and it’ll provide free ‘windows’ to watch previously released shows like Origin and Cobra Kai (which currently require a subscription).  Typically, ‘windows’ means content is released behind a paywall and moves outside it after a period of time.…

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Chinese company charged with stealing trade secrets from US chipmaker

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced charges Thursday against Chinese and Taiwan companies for alleged theft of business secrets from US chip giant Micron.

The US Justice Department on Thursday swung hard at China with a one-two punch intended to counter industrial espionage. First, the agency unveiled charges against Chinese and Taiwanese companies and individuals for allegedly stealing trade secrets related to semiconductor technology. That case involves Idaho-based Micron Technology. Second, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an initiative to address Chinese cyberattacks and corporate spying on US companies.  ‘Chinese economic espionage against the United States has been increasing — and it has been increasing rapidly,’ Sessions said in a statement. ‘We are here today…

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An extreme close-up on heat transfer

How much heat can two bodies exchange without touching? For over a century, scientists have been able to answer this question for virtually any pair of objects in the macroscopic world, from the rate at which a campfire can warm you up, to how much heat the Earth absorbs from the sun. But predicting such radiative heat transfer between extremely close objects has proven elusive for the past 50 years. Now, MIT mathematicians have derived a formula for determining the maximum amount of heat exchanged between two objects separated by…

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Facebook keeps fumbling political ads


Dana Hopkins felt like she was in an ‘endless loop’ with Facebook. The frustration began in September when she purchased an ad on the social network to promote an open mic night she was co-hosting in San Francisco. What happened next was a head-scratcher. Facebook blocked the ad at least six times because the social network said it was political. ‘This is the least political thing I do, and it’s pretty innocuous,’ said Hopkins. The problem, it turned out, wasn’t that the event was called Smack Dab Open Mic, or…

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Alexa update lets you watch Ring, Arlo, security camera alerts on your Echo Show


Amazon on Thursday announced in a blog post that Alexa-enabled security cameras from Ring, Arlo and August, along with Amazon’s own Cloud Cam indoor security camera, now work with the Cameras Recap API.  This new API should make it possible for you to view a recorded video clip with the phrase, ‘Alexa, show the event that just happened at the back door/front door/whatever you named your camera.’ The Alexa skill works on the Amazon Echo Show, the Echo Spot, the Fire TV and Fire tablets.  You can’t currently ask Alexa to show…

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Black hole meal sets record for length and size

A giant black hole ripped apart a star and then gorged on its remains for about a decade, according to astronomers. This is more than ten times longer than any observed episode of a star’s death by black hole. Researchers made this discovery using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Swift satellite as well as ESA’s XMM-Newton. They published their findings February 6 in Nature Astronomy. The trio of orbiting X-ray telescopes found evidence for a “tidal disruption event” (TDE), wherein the tidal forces due to the intense gravity…

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