Appiness.io blog

16 Feb 2018
by Admin
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Google Made A Small Change To Image Search, But It’s A Big Deal

R.I.P. “View Image” button. 

On Thursday, Google announced that it plans to remove the “View Image” button from its image search results interface. The feature made it easy for users to find the original image, which is usually a higher resolution than the thumbnail displayed in the search results. 

Now users are encouraged to visit the website where the image is hosted, which in theory should drive traffic to the image’s owner or copyright holder.

Photo agency Getty Images filed a complaint with the European Commission in 2016 arguing that the function promoted piracy, making it easier for people to acquire high resolution, copyrighted images they were not authorized to use.

Google admitted those concerns did play a role in its decision to remove the feature.

“These changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week,” Google said Thursday via their Search Liason Twitter account.

But fear not, JPEG and GIF junkies. You can still find and save the original image by clicking on the thumbnail in the search results, then right-clicking the image and selecting “Open Image in New Tab.” There you’ll find the original you would have found using the recently deceased “View Image” button.

Not everyone will take the little bit of extra time to do this, and that’s what Google and Getty are counting on.

13 Feb 2018
by Admin
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A Boston Dynamic Robot Has Figured Out Door Levers. Sleep Tight!

In what could easily be a clip from an upcoming “Terminator” movie, a video released this week shows a four-legged robot opening a closed door and allowing its less abled companion to march in.

Engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics captioned its short YouTube video “Hey Buddy, Can You Give Me a Hand?” And its left plenty of people on social media picking their jaws up off the floor.

It takes about 18 seconds for the robot to extend its claw, turn the handle, hold the door for its compatriot and secure their entry to another room ― all the while displaying remarkable grace, precision and strength.

Though the door-opening feat may seem minuscule to some, it comes just three months after a Wall Street Journal article depicted robots ― at least ones in a government-sponsored contest ― as lacking the hand-eye coordination to master such a feat.

That article’s headline: “How to Survive a Robot Apocalypse: Just Close the Door.”

The Boston Dynamics robot’s demonstrated ability to breeze through such obstacles has left plenty of people concerned about mankind’s future ― or lack thereof.

Videos have previously shown that the Massachusetts-based company’s growing fleet of robots can walk and jump on two legs like humans, leap onto and off of buildings, run a little more than 28 mph ― faster than world champion sprinter Usain Bolt ― lift and move heavy objects and do backflips.

Since Boston Dynamics’ founding in 1992, the company has worked to build machines “that both break boundaries and work in the real world,” according to its website.

The company has received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, specifically its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as well as the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force. Such funds went toward the creation of the RHex ― a small, six-legged robot that can maneuver across rough terrain ― and the SandFlea ― a four-wheeled robot that can jump 33 feet into the air and land unscathed.

The company was acquired by Google X, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., in 2013. Though Google X reportedly said it would honor Boston Dynamics’ existing military contracts, it planned on phasing out the reliance on such funding and instead focus on manufacturing and industry automation, according to a New York Times article that same year.

In 2016, however, Boston Dynamics was up for sale again. One reason given was that Google X decided that humanoid robotics didn’t fit with its goals and public image.

“There’s excitement from the tech press, but we’re also starting to see some negative threads about [Boston Dynamics’ work on robots] being terrifying, ready to take humans’ jobs,” Courtney Hohne, a Google X spokeswoman, said at the time.

In mid-2017, Japanese tech giant SoftBank announced an agreement to purchase Boston Dynamics. But, as The Financial Times reported last fall, the deal has been stalled by national security regulators.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said at the time of the agreed-upon purchase that “there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities.”

“Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution,” he said in a statement in which he praised Boston Dynamics and its staff as “the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots.”

He said SoftBank looked forward “to supporting them as they continue to advance the field of robotics and explore applications that can help make life easier, safer and more fulfilling.”

Earlier in 2017, Son made it known that he believes machine intelligence will surpass that of humans by 2047.

“It will be so much more capable than us — what will be our job? What will be our life? We have to ask philosophical questions. Is it good or bad?” he said at a conference in Barcelona. “I think this superintelligence is going to be our partner. If we misuse it, it’s a risk. If we use it in good spirits it will be our partner for a better life. So the future can be better predicted, people will live healthier, and so on.”

Meanwhile, exactly what Boston Dynamics thinks about the public’s concern over a robot uprising isn’t clear. The company didn’t immediately return a request for comment from HuffPost on the subject on Tuesday.

One thing’s for sure, there are plenty of worried people out there. 

12 Feb 2018
by Admin
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Instagram May Start Ratting On You If You Screenshot Someone’s Story

Finally, proof that no one is looking at your Instagram anyway.

Similar to Snapchat snaps, Instagram stories have always had a shelf life ― if you miss them, you’re out of luck. But unlike Snapchat, which notifies people when followers take screenshots, Instagram has allowed you to freely screenshot stories without any notifications. Until now.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Instagram confirmed it’s testing a feature that notifies users when a follower screenshots their story.

Instagram already notifies people if someone screenshots a DM conversation they’re involved in; but let’s be honest, screenshotting a DM seems shady.

But if we’re not screenshotting Instagram stories as often, how will we show our kids the early days of skulking about social media, or gather blackmail evidence of our friends’ bad behavior?

All right, maybe it’s not a terrible idea.

10 Feb 2018
by Admin
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Winter Olympics Organizers Probe Possible Cyberattack On Opening Ceremony Day

PYEONGCHANG (Reuters) – Pyeongchang Olympics organizers were looking into a disruption of non-critical systems on the day of the opening ceremony but could not yet confirm if it was a cyberattack, Games spokesman Sung Baik-you said on Saturday.

The Winter Olympics opened with a spectacular ceremony on Friday, attended by several heads of state who witnessed the joint march of North and South Korean athletes, as Games systems played up.

The ceremony was also attended by North Korean ceremonial leader Kim Yong Nam and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, as well as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Some local media reported system problems, including the Games website and some television sets, were due to a cyberattack but Sung said it was still too early to determine whether hackers had attempted to damage them.

“There were some issues that affected some of our non-critical systems last night for a few hours,” Sung told reporters, without detailing what the issues specifically were.

“We apologize for the inconvenience caused. It has not disrupted any event or had any effect on safety and security for athletes or spectators.”

Sung said security experts were currently investigating the incident.

“Experts are watching to ensure and maintain any systems at expected service levels. We are currently investigating the cause of the issue. At this time we cannot confirm (a cyberattack),” he added.

“We are investigating the cause and we will share more information. All competitions are running as planned.”

It was also not clear whether failure to deploy drones as part of the programme during the two-hour opening ceremony was in any way related to the system problems.

The International Olympic Committee said pre-recorded footage of the drones was used instead. “Due to impromptu logistical changes it (drone deployment) did not proceed,” the IOC spokesman said with elaborating further.

The Winter Games, staged only 80km (50 miles) from the North Korean border, saw the two Koreas, who are technically still at war since a 1953 armistice, march together at the opening ceremony for the first time since 2006.

South Korea has been using the Pyeongchang Games to break the ice with the reclusive North, which has been trading nuclear threats with the United States recently.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

09 Feb 2018
by Admin
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Google Kicks Off Winter Olympics With Vibrant ‘Snow Games’ Doodle

The internet giant unveiled the first animation from its new “Snow Games” series on Friday, hours before the Pyeongchang 2018 opening ceremony.

It will release a different Winter Olympic-themed doodle each day, until the games end on Feb. 25.

Friday’s debut doodle begins with a magpie, which is a good luck symbol in Korea, landing on Google’s logo. A penguin later zooms down a snowy mountain, dogs ski-jump, and a snake indulges in some figure skating.

It ends with other animals applauding from the sidelines.

09 Feb 2018
by Admin
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Facebook Reportedly Beta-Testing ‘Downvote’ Button

Last month, Facebook admitted that its platform is bad for democracy.

Now comes word of a project that may push people into more of an information cocoon.

Facebook is testing a button with selected users that allows them to “downvote” posts they consider inappropriate, uncivil or misleading, the company said.

Facebook insisted in a statement to HuffPost that it is not “testing a dislike button.”

“We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts. This is running for a small set of people in the U.S. only.”

Sources familiar with the program said the “downvote” button is only a short-term test and will not affect how a comment, post or page is ranked.

The info gleaned is not about giving a commenter feedback but giving feedback to Facebook. 

Tech reporter Taylor Lorenz said the “downvote” option first appeared Thursday in the comments sections of certain Facebook groups as well as on old Facebook memories content.

She shared screenshots on Twitter ― but not on Facebook, for some reason.

Lorenz said this newer button might allow content that’s offensive or inflammatory to be pushed to the bottom of a comment feed.

Facebook appears to be trying to invent Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, that website’s founder and CEO, noted on Twitter:

So far, only 5 percent of Android users in the U.S. are getting the downvote option, Facebook said. 

This article has been updated to include Facebook’s statement.

30 Jan 2018
by Admin
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Elon Musk Says He’s Sold 10,000 Flamethrowers Through His Boring Co. Website

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has captured the world’s imagination with his electric cars, space rockets and renewable energy systems, and now the billionaire is looking to corner the market in a slightly less benevolent area: flamethrowers.

Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has recently made headlines with the launch of his company’s Falcon 9 rocket late last year and the impending launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket in February. But besides sending spacecraft into the sky, preparing for the release of the Tesla Semi electric truck and all the other things a genius billionaire businessman does in his day-to-day life, Musk has also launched an actual functional flamethrower for consumers, and he claims he has already sold 10,000 of the $500 weapons.

One of Musk’s newest endeavor is The Boring Co., which aims to quickly dig tunnels while “dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more,” according to its website. Tunnels might sound, well, boring, but the company is linked to Musk’s vision for a rapid-transit Hyperloop system that would use tunnels.

So far, however, The Boring Co. hasn’t been digging as much as it’s been joking. In late 2017, Musk started selling branded caps through the company’s website, raising $1 million from the sale of 50,000 hats. At the time, he made what was thought to be a joke; now it appears to be very real.

And so it has come to pass. Over the weekend, Musk tweeted about the flamethrower several times, including posting an Instagram video of himself using the gun to produce a flame about 2 feet long. The short flame length keeps it from meeting the federal definition of an illegal flamethrower, Musk claimed.

“ATF [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] says any flamethrower with a flame shorter than 10 ft is A-ok. Our design is max fun for least danger. I’d be way more scared of a steak knife,” he tweeted.

In response to a question posed to them online, the Australian Federal Police advised potential buyers to “check with your local police for local laws.” 

But it’s nothing but enthusiasm on the Boring Co. site: “World’s safest flamethrower!” the product description reads.

“Before shipping, aspiring flamethrower aficionados will be sent a terms and conditions rhyme for review and acceptance. Starts shipping in spring.”

In more tongue-in-cheek descriptions, the company advises the flamethrower “may not be used on Boring Company decorative lacquered hay bales or Boring Company dockside munitions warehouses” and “fire extinguisher sold separately (for exorbitant amounts of money).”

A $30 “overpriced” fire extinguisher is also available on the website. After tweeting about hitting the 10,000 flamethrower sales mark, Musk added that only 3,000 of its fire extinguishers had been ordered.

“You can definitely buy one for less elsewhere, but this one comes with a cool sticker,” the website said.

A Californian lawmaker isn’t amused, though. He’s criticized Musk’s incendiary new product and has vowed to push for it to be made illegal in the state. 

California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) cited law enforcement and public safety issues.

“We don’t allow people to walk in off the street and purchase military-grade tanks or armor-piercing ammunition. I cannot even begin to image the problems a flamethrower would cause firefighters and police officers alike,” he said in a statement tweeted by a Los Angeles Times reporter Monday.

30 Jan 2018
by Admin
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Facebook Pledges To Add More Local News To Newsfeeds

The company whose goal was once “to make the world more open and connected” is doubling down on local matters.

Facebook announced Monday it will begin showing more news from local outlets in the Newsfeed. The strategy shift is part of a broader push at the site to elevate content from trusted sources, given the site’s role in the 2016 election as a massive conduit of disinformation from Russian agents to the American public.

In a blog post discussing the changes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he hopes an emphasis on what’s happening locally might draw people’s attention away from the more divisive topics that have come to dominate national conversations.

“When I traveled around the country last year, one theme people kept telling me is how much we all have in common if we can get past some of the most divisive national issues,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Many people told me they thought that if we could turn down the temperature on the more divisive issues and instead focus on concrete local issues, then we’d all make more progress together.”

He also indicated he hoped Facebook users would become more civically engaged and involved on a local level after learning of their communities’ issues.

“People who know what’s happening around them are more likely to get involved and help make a difference,” he explained.

Local news, sports and even neighborhood blogs are likely to have a higher profile in the future, the company said. Those sources won’t just pop up at random, however: You’ll only see their posts if you follow their page, or if your friends share their stories.

29 Jan 2018
by Admin
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ATM Makers Issue Warning About Cyber Criminals Targeting Cash Machines

(Reuters) – Diebold Nixdorf Inc and NCR Corp, two of the world’s largest ATM makers, have warned that cybercriminals are targeting U.S. cash machines with tools that force them to spit out cash in hacking schemes known as “jackpotting.”

The two ATM makers did not identify any victims or say how much money had been lost. Jackpotting has been rising worldwide in recent years, though it is unclear how much cash has been stolen because victims and police often do not disclose details.

The attacks were reported earlier on Saturday by the security news website Krebs on Security, which said they had begun last year in Mexico.

The companies confirmed to Reuters on Saturday they had sent out the alerts to clients.

NCR said in a Friday alert that the cases were the first confirmed “jackpotting” losses in the United States. It said its equipment had not been targeted in the recent attacks, but that it was still a concern for the entire ATM industry.

“This should be treated by all ATM deployers as a call to action to take appropriate steps to protect their ATMs against these forms of attack,” the alert said.

25 Jan 2018
by Admin
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‘Trap Adventure 2’ Might Be The Most Infuriatingly Difficult Game Ever

As “difficult” as some video games may be, there’s still at least some sense that eventually good (i.e., you) will prevail.

The free iOS app “Trap Adventure 2,” on the other hand, is not about happy endings. It is a cold reflection of the real world. Not only is death inevitable, but it feels at times like the world is actively trying to kill you. Because it really is.

As a player, the structures around you take on a life of their own as they antagonize, and ultimately play accomplices to, your demise. Over and over and over again.

“Trap Adventure 2” is the follow up to 2013′s “Trap Adventure,” which was also touted as the “hardest retro game.” These “Super Mario” clones were not by some lord of the underworld, as you’d assume, but by developer Hiroyoshi Oshiba. 

In fact, Oshiba warns App Store visitors that this game will test every last bit of one’s mettle. 

Caution!! This may be the most hardest, irritating, frustrating game EVER. If you tend to exasperate often, I recommend you not play this game. It will literally drive you insane. I PROMISE. As written above, this game is VERY STRESSFUL. You may get so irritated and frustrated that you throw your phone out the window. I can’t take any responsibilities for the displeasure this game may cause. Even after reading this you are still eager to play the game, then go ahead.

All that being said, watching players’ deaths unfold is actually entertaining, specifically when you’re watching someone else play.

Here’s a video of someone getting through the whole game (though dying many times in the process). It’s worth checking out since many of us won’t have the skill or patience to make it to those later stages.

© 2018