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Facebook tries slipping more local politics into your News Feed

Facebook isn’t shy about wanting to increase your involvement in politics, and that might soon include seeing posts from the politicians you don’t follow. A spokesperson has confirmed to Recode that the social network is testing a feature that slips the “top posts” from local politicians into your News Feed, even when you don’t follow them. You’ll only see it once a week at the most, and only if you already follow at least one of your area’s representatives (at any level), but it will lead to seeing political messages that you might have otherwise missed. And yes, that includes from other parties — you may see what’s popular on the other side of the fence.

There’s no certainty that this feature will become widely available, but it’s easy to see Facebook rolling this out quickly. The company is determined to not only boost involvement in politics, but to prevent a repeat of the 2016 US presidential election. Critics accused Facebook of skewing the election results by letting social media bubbles (and the fake news that circulates among them) persist. If it can regularly show what your local politicians are up to, it might pop those bubbles and encourage you to vote when issues you care about are at stake.

Source: Recode


Breathe easy: How to clean a humidifier in 4 easy steps

For people who live in dry climates or have sinus problems, humidifiers are a godsend. But to get the best out of your appliance, you’re going to have to clean it often, even if it’s a top-tier humidifier. Learning how to clean a humidifier can seem intimidating, but after you learn how to clean it from us, the only thing that’ll be dry at your house is your dad’s sense of humor.

Note: This is a general outline on how to clean your humidifier. If you have your humidifier’s manual, refer to it before you attempt to clean it.

How to clean your humidifier, step by step

Before you get started, get the supplies you’ll need to clean your humidifier. You won’t need any heavy duty tools, just some vinegar, water and a soft-bristle toothbrush.

Step 1: Unplug your humidifier. Sounds obvious, but if you don’t want to damage it (or yourself) then you’ll want to make sure it’s unplugged. After you do that, go ahead and take out the humidifier’s air filter. If your filter looks dirty, clean it with cool water. After you take off the filter, remove the water tank.

Some of the best humidifiers available don’t allow you to take apart the water tank and the base. Only take apart whatever your humidifier allows you to.

Step 2: Once everything is disassembled, fill the base and/or tank with white vinegar. After it’s filled, let it sit for 30-45 minutes.

Step 3: After 45 minutes, pour out the vinegar and use a toothbrush to brush away any grime that’s still stuck on your humidifier. If it doesn’t seem to be coming off, then pour some vinegar directly onto your brush and scrub the grime spot.

Step 4: Once all the grime is brushed away, you’ll notice that your humidifier still smells of that horrible vinegar. To get rid of the smell, thoroughly rinse your base and tank with warm water and then let it air dry.

How often should I clean my humidifier?

It depends on how often you use it. If you need to use your humidifier all day every day, then you should deep clean it once a week. If it’s just used at night or sporadically during dry seasons, then clean it at least once a month. Be sure to also fill your humidifier with distilled water. Distilled water has fewer minerals, which means there’s less grime in your humidifier (it also produces fewer bacteria in the air).


For a limited time, take $76 off the beefy Netgear Nighthawk X4 router

A solid Wi-Fi router is necessary to ensure stable wireless connections as well as to guarantee that you are getting the data speeds you are paying for. If you are using the router supplied by your ISP, then not only are you likely paying monthly rental equipment fees, but your internet might be suffering from a speed bottleneck. A powerful router like the Netgear Nighthawk X4, currently on sale from Amazon, can greatly improve your home Wi-Fi and save you from paying additional monthly fees.

The dual-band Netgear Nighthawk X4 utilizes AC2350 Wi-Fi, meaning that it delivers a combined throughput of 2,350 Mbps across two bands: 600 Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band for light tasks like web browsing and 1,750 Mbps on the 5.0GHz band for data-heavy jobs like streaming and online gaming. For a comparison, most ISP-supplied Wi-Fi routers only offer between 150 and 600 Mbps of total throughput, which can bottleneck your internet and prevent you from enjoying the speeds that you should be getting. Even worse is that rental fees for this equipment generally come in at $10 per month, while these basic routers themselves normally only cost $20 to $40.

Along with a beefy throughput, the Nighthawk X4 features other modern wireless technologies such as MU-MIMO (multi-user multiple input/multiple output). This breaks up your bandwidth into multiple dedicated streams so that your network is not getting bogged down when multiple clients are connected and using the internet at the same time.

Further enhancing the router’s speed is its dedicated 1.4GHz dual-core CPU. This, combined with the aforementioned features, provide smooth performance during gaming and 4K video streaming where lag and stuttering can ruin your online experience.

The Netgear Nighthawk X4 is a high-end router with a price tag to match: This unit normally comes in at $220 but is currently on sale on Amazon for $180. For a limited time, however, you can take another 20 percent off with a redeemable coupon, knocking the price down to a low $144 and saving you a total of $76. Simply redeem the offer on the Amazon product page or enter the code “SIGGRAPH20” at checkout to receive this special discounted price.


Looking for more great deals on networking tools and other electronics? Check out our deals page to score some extra savings on our favorite tech.


Comcast’s new X1 tools give parents more control over the home network

After debuting an all-in-one streaming app for its cable TV service and a new IoT-commanding home gateway earlier this year, Comcast announced on Friday that it is adding a trio of new parental control features to its X1 internet system: Timed Pause, Safer Search and a Notification Center.

Timed pause expands on the existing ability to temporarily suspend WiFi service throughout the home. This new twist allows parents to instantly freeze the local network for short periods or in 30 minute blocks up to two hours. X1’s parental control panel is also sporting a new look and giving the ‘rents extra peace of mind with safe search restrictions on Google, Bing and YouTube for users under the age of 18. Finally, the notification center will now display real-time usage stats of everything currently happening on the home network. That way if your kid’s bratty friend wants to be slick and try to change the network name or password, the revision will immediately be logged and reported to an adult. The X1 system updates through the cloud so it should rollout to its full subscriber base all at the same time and very soon.

Source: Comcast


US Army reportedly ceasing use of all DJI drone products

According to a memo obtained by sUAS News, the US Army will stop using DJI drones, effective immediately. “Due to increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products, it is directed that the US Army halt use of all DJI products,” said the memo, which listed flight computers, cameras, radios, batteries, speed controllers, GPS units, handheld control stations and any device with DJI software applications installed on it as products that must cease being used. According to the document, the Army Aviation Engineering Directorate has issued over 300 Airworthiness Releases for DJI products. “Cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction,” the memo continued.

The memo cites a report from the Army Research Laboratory and a memo from the US Navy, both compiled in May, that reference operational risks and vulnerabilities with DJI products. Security concerns with DJI drones were the topic of an article published by sUAS News in May, which pointed out that with DJI UAVs, the default settings of the DJI GO 4 app are to upload details of flight records — including telemetry, video and audio — to servers located in the US, China and Hong Kong. While it’s extremely unlikely that the Army is unwittingly uploading its flight details to DJI servers, recently exploited security shortcomings may have been enough to make the military rethink its use of DJI’s technology. For example, hackers have recently shown how it easy is to get around DJI’s geofenced no fly zones and height restrictions.

A spokesperson for DJI told Engadget, “We are surprised and disappointed to read reports of the U.S. Army’s unprompted restriction on DJI drones as we were not consulted during their decision. We are happy to work directly with any organization, including the US Army, that has concerns about our management of cyber issues. We’ll be reaching out to the US Army to confirm the memo and to understand what is specifically meant by ‘cyber vulnerabilities.’”

We also reached out to the US Army and a spokesperson told us they could confirm the memo was issued but because the Army is currently reviewing the guidance, they couldn’t comment further.

Via: The Verge

Source: sUAS News


Prosecutors claim Marcus Hutchins admitted writing malware code

Just a couple of days after the FBI arrested Marcus Hutchins (aka MalwareTech) he made an appearance in a Las Vegas federal courthouse, pleading not guilty to charges accusing him of creating the Kronos banking malware. KSNV News 3 Las Vegas reporter Christy Wilcox reported from the scene, tweeting that prosecutors claim Hutchins admitted to writing malware code (presumably for the Kronos banking malware) as well as playing a role in its sale and distribution.

An update on @MalwareTechBlog and some clarification on misreported facts.

— Andrew Mabbitt (@MabbsSec) August 5, 2017

Fidus Information Security co-founder Andrew Mabbitt has spoken out in his defense and tried to clear up some apparent misinformation about the 23-year-old hacker’s stay in Las Vegas during Def Con. While some reports have focused on the pricey Airbnb mansion where Hutchins stayed and the rented supercars he was driving, Mabbitt says that the stay in the villa was free, and someone else paid to rent the Corvette and Lamborghini he tweeted about.

The prosecutors apparently also cited tweets from the past week where Hutchins fired guns (legally) at a local range as a reason why he should not be granted bail. His lawyer Adrian Lobo called that claim “garbage” while telling reporters outside the courthouse that the judge determined he is not a flight risk said he would be released once certain conditions are met. Those include raising $30,000 for bail, and reportedly he will be banned from internet access or contact with his unnamed co-defendant. Unfortunately, because the clerk’s office closed at 4 PM that has not happened yet. The attorney expects he will be released on Monday, but he will need to appear in Wisconsin to face the grand jury indictment there.

Marcus Hutchins has been regarded worldwide as a hero due to his actions during the recent WannaCry outbreak, and Andrew Mabbitt says that as soon as tomorrow there will be a crowdfunding campaign starting to help raise funds for his legal defense.

Source: Andrew Mabbitt (Twitter), Christy Wilcox (Twitter)


YouTube Music adds song and album downloads almost two years later

It’s pretty surprising that Google is updating the YouTube Music app instead of scrapping it wholesale. Before the most recent update it mainly served as a way to cast tunes that don’t exist on the Google Play Music app to a Chromecast Audio. With the new patch, though, it’s getting a little more useful. Now you can download albums, playlists and individual songs to your mobile device instead of a random mixtape based on your listening history. Pretty cool, right? Time to stock up on some obscure remixes for this weekend’s camping trip before you leave WiFi behind.

Via: The Verge

Source: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes


Remoldable plastic will let doctors reshape casts while they are on patients

Why it matters to you

3D-printable thermoplastic could be used by healthcare professionals to remold casts while they’re still on patients.

Thanks to its speed and the extreme levels of customization that it allows, 3D printing has been a boon for medical applications, with physicians and other healthcare professionals able to use it for everything from making models to explain procedures to patients to custom prostheses.

A new material developed by U.K.-based company Torc2 opens up a host of new potential applications, however — predominantly related to manufacturing tailor-made casts or splints for patients. “What we’ve developed is a blend of polymers with a low melting point,” CEO Gary Blundell told Digital Trends. “What we’re hoping to do is to replace Plaster of Paris casts with a material that can be remolded at a temperature that’s comfortable for human contact. This means that any adjustments which need to be made can be done so while the patient is wearing it.”

In short, the thermoplastics compound shifts states between a moldable, putty-like consistency at 131 degrees Fahrenheit, and a rigid, rubberized plastic state at normal body temperature. “You can move between these two states repeatedly,” Blundell said. “We’ve done tests where we heat and reheat it to make sure it’s durable.”

One advantage of being able to do this is that it cuts down on waste since it means that a 3D-printed cast could be modified as a patient’s needs change — where previously it could be necessary to remove the original cast and manufacture a whole new one.

Blundell said the company is currently preparing to carry out clinical trials, which will demonstrate to the medical field how the material could be used to the betterment of patients. He additionally notes that Torc2 is exploring other avenues, where its innovative thermoplastics compound might also be used.

“Medical applications are fairly slow-burn,” he explained. “For good reason, there are various hurdles that have to be crossed, which makes it a long process. In the meantime, we’re looking at alternative methods for bringing in earlier stage revenue. We’re not sharing any details yet, because there are non-disclosure agreements, but we’re actively looking at a variety of industrial applications.”

Even just from a “maker” perspective, a remoldable material like this could be invaluable.


New ‘Hearthstone’ expansion ‘Knights of the Frozen Throne’ arrives Thursday

Why it matters to you

Hearthstone players can expect the meta to change significantly when Knights of the Frozen Throne adds more than 100 new cards to the game.

Blizzard confirmed that the next major expansion for Hearthstone is set to become available in less than a week. Knights of the Frozen Throne will take players to Northrend, the seat of the Lich King, when it drops on Thursday.

The developer gave fans the good news in a tweet on Friday. Knights of the Frozen Throne was announced in July as the Hearthstone Championship Tour made a stop in Shanghai. It is the second of three expansions expected to drop in 2017, following Journey to Un’Goro, which was unleashed in April.

This content drop marks a major change in the way that Hearthstone approaches single-player content. Starting with Curse of Naxxramas in July 2014, Blizzard previously released Adventures, which consisted of themed matches that would reward players with new cards that tied into their individual setting.

However, Adventures are being phased out in favor of Missions, which will accompany forthcoming expansions from Knights of the Frozen Throne onward. The focus is still on battles with computer-controlled opponents but now instead of specific cards, card packs will be offered as a reward.

The Missions are free to play but will be rolled out over several weeks; the prologue and the first wing will launch alongside the expansion, the second wing will drop a week later, and a week after that, players will be able to engage in the final showdown with the Lich King. The mode’s narrative revolves around the player proving they are worthy to stand among the titular Knights.

Completing the entire quest offers three free card packs, which will help players flesh out their collection of cards from the Knights of the Frozen Throne set. The expansion introduces 135 new cards to the game, alongside the new Hero Card mechanic, according to Polygon.

It has been more than three years since Hearthstone graduated from its lengthy beta but the game shows no signs of slowing down. Blizzard continues to keep World of Warcraft alive for well over a decade and, at this point, it would not be surprising to see its card game enjoy a similar lifespan.


Using AI, the next iPhone camera could automatically choose a scene mode for you

Why it matters to you

Using the same AI that organizes the Camera Roll in real time could help the next iPhone snap better photos automatically.

Scene modes that help users capture better shots without the technical know-how have long been part of the consumer camera. Now, new details suggest a form of automatic scene detection could be coming to the next iPhone. Digging into a HomePod firmware leak, one developer suggests the same artificial intelligence technology that organizes the Camera Roll is stepping up to real-time performance to help the camera choose the best settings. The iOS automatic scene mode or SmartCam was uncovered earlier this week.

According to Apple Insider, the code includes data for recognizing several specific scenes, including babies and pets, as well as sports, fireworks, and specific landscapes such as snow or a sunset. The same report suggests that the new Smart Cam automatic scene modes will recognize the same things that existing iPhones already tag to sort existing photos — the difference being that with real-time identification, the camera could use that data to take better photos in the first place.

Since the feature was uncovered through a firmware leak and not confirmed by Apple, it’s unclear just when — or even if — the feature will arrive. With Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference not offering a single mention of such a feature, speculation is that the feature will be exclusive to the next iPhone and not one that is available with an update to iOS 11.

The idea of allowing the camera to choose the scene mode isn’t completely new. Several dedicated cameras have similar features — Sony calls it Intelligent Auto Mode, Canon has Scene Intelligent Auto Mode, and Nikon dubs it Easy Auto or Auto Scene Selector. For Panasonic, its Intelligent Auto, Fujifilm calls it Scene Recognition Auto and Olympus has iAuto. Using different sensors, the camera determines factors like whether or not a face is in the scene or if there is motion, then chooses the scene mode automatically. Instead of flipping through the scene modes, the camera chooses the option. One startup even aims to use AI to bring smarter auto settings to DSLRs.

If the feature does in fact come with the next iPhone, the option would make the native camera app better at adjusting the settings to accommodate for different scenes, since the iPhone, unlike a dedicated camera, doesn’t include scene modes (at least not without a third party app). As just a bit of code, users will have to consider the iOS automatic scene mode SmartCam, along with the growing list of iPhone 8 rumors for now.

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