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Twitter has removed over 1.2 million accounts for promoting terrorism

Twitter released its biannual Transparency Report today and it shared stats on how it continues to handle terrorist content. Overall, since August of 2015, the company has removed over 1.2 million accounts that promoted terrorism. During the second half of last year, it permanently suspended 274,460 accounts for this reason, which is slightly less than what was removed during the first half of 2017. Twitter notes that it has now seen a decline in these sorts of removals across three reporting periods and it attributes that pattern to “years of hard work making our site an undesirable place for those seeking to promote terrorism.”

Of those accounts that were removed between July 1st and December 31st last year, 93 percent were flagged by Twitter’s internal tools and algorithms. Around 74 percent were suspended before ever tweeting — stats that are in line with Twitter’s report from the first half of 2017 as well. Government reports of violations are still on the decline. Last September, Twitter reported that government-originating reports accounted for less than one percent of removals. Now, they account for less than 0.2 percent.

In addition to the terrorist content updates, Twitter also shared information on some changes it has made to how it notes when content is being withheld. It’s now differentiating when content is being blocked due to a court order or because of local laws. The Transparency Report also notes that there was a 38 percent increase between the first and second half of 2017 regarding copyright violation takedown notices for both Twitter and Periscope. There was an 18 percent decrease in trademark violation notices.

Twitter makes a point to note the efforts of governments to limit online speech. “With the passage of new legislation and ongoing regulatory discussions taking place around the world about the future of public discourse online, we are seeing a potential chilling effect with regards to freedom of expression,” Twitter said in a blog post. To address that, Twitter says it uploads request for content withholding to the Lumen database, which collects and analyzes these sorts of requests. “Lumen serves as a critical transparency resource as more freedom of expression comes under fire, by making such requests available for public review,” said Twitter.

Lastly, Twitter reiterated its effort to “increase the collective health, openness and civility of public conversation around the world, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable toward progress.” In regards to that, Twitter also recently hosted a Periscope livestream, taking questions from the public about its policies, and launched a request for public proposals on how to promote healthy, open and civil conversations on its platform.

Images: Twitter

Source: Twitter (1), (2)


The Lunar Xprize will continue, but without the $20 million reward

Earlier this year, the Lunar Xprize competition ended in an anticlimactic way, as Google opted not to extend the competition for a $20 million prize beyond the March 31st deadline. This meant that the contest ended without a winner. But now, Xprize has announced that the organization plans to continue the competition — just without a cash reward. Xprize is hoping to find a new sponsor to reinstitute the monetary prize.

According to the release, the teams that were competing for the Xprize (Moon Express, SpaceIL, Synergy Moon and TeamIndus) are pleased with this change in fortune. Some of these companies faced uncertain futures without the Xprize. Additionally, “[it] served as an excellent early catalyst to get new people, partners and money involved,” according to CEO and founder of TeamIndus, Rahul Narayan. That being said, many received funding through the incremental prizes of the competition, and the cash incentive for actually reaching the moon was a big one. We’ll see what happens with this competition, and if Xprize is able to find a new sponsor to replace Google.

Source: Xprize


‘Firewatch’ is the latest indie game headed to Nintendo Switch

The folks at Campo Santo are bringing Firewatch to the Nintendo Switch. The developers have been busy stripping the game “down to the studs” to improve performance. Specifically, optimizing load times for textures and geometry. “We know what a good Switch game feels like, and want to make sure Firewatch feels like that too,” Campo Santo writes. What’s more, those updates will eventually make their way to the Mac, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions.

“We’re lucky to be able to keep investing in and supporting a single-player game that came out over two years ago, and we’re more proud of Firewatch than most things we’ve made in life,” the blog reads. “We want it to be found and enjoyed by as many people as possible.” There isn’t a firm release date, but Campo Santo promises that the portable version will be out “soon!” Meaning, not long from now you’ll be able to take a walk in the (virtual) woods when you’re out in the real woods. How’s that for meta?

Source: Campo Santo


NASA may use swarms of robotic bees to study Mars

It’s hard to exaggerate just how successful NASA’s Mars Rover program has been. These little vehicles have crawled over different parts of the Martian landscape, sending back invaluable data. But these rovers have some limitations: They move incredibly slowly. In over 2,000 days on Mars, the rover Curiosity has traveled about 11 and a half miles. That’s why NASA has approved exploratory funding for an entirely new type of explorer: a swarm of robotic bees controlled by AI.

Researchers in Alabama are working with a team in Japan to develop “Marsbees.” Each Marsbee would be about the size of a bumblebee, but with bigger wings, which are necessary because of the thinner Martian atmosphere. They would travel in swarms, enabling these robotic creatures to fly into Mars’s atmosphere, survey the planet and take a wide range of readings, thanks to their mobility.

The Marsbees would have a home base: in this case, likely some sort of large mobile rover where the Marsbees could recharge. They wouldn’t need to land to transmit data, though; all of that would happen wirelessly.

This project is incredibly preliminary, but it certainly has interesting prospects. Not only will it prompt everyone reading this article to say “Bees?!” like G.O.B. Bluth, but it’s potentially an entirely new way to explore Mars. It’s one of 25 research project that NASA is funding in anticipation of eventually sending humans to Mars.

Source: NASA


Dropbox Smart Sync is finally available to all business users

It’s been a few years since Dropbox first started talking about Smart Sync, a feature that lets users see everything stored in their Dropbox in the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer, regardless of whether that file is available locally or stored in the cloud. Everything stored in Dropbox shows up in your native file browser, but does so without eating up hundreds of gigabytes of storage — a feature particularly useful for large teams or businesses with massive file systems. After a few years of development and an early access program, Dropbox is releasing Smart Sync for all its business customers.

Previously, some businesses could get request early access, but now anyone administering a Dropbox Business account will be able to enable the feature for their users. Somewhat ironically, Smart Sync has also been available to anyone paying for the $20 / month Dropbox Professional plan — an option for individuals that pairs 1TB of storage with extra features like this one.

Dropbox is also releasing a new selective sync feature for Business customers that’ll let account administrators pick a selected set of folders that’ll be automatically synced with new users by default. It’s meant to make it easier to get the essential documents that new employees need out with minimal friction (without eating up all the hard drive space on a new user’s computer). Both features are available today — and if you don’t have a Dropbox Business account but still want to try out Smart Sync, the company is offering free two-week trials of Dropbox Professional.


Amazon offers remote access to FreeTime parental controls

Last year, Amazon launched a Parent Dashboard to go along with its FreeTime subscription service for kids. The dashboard allows parents to see how much time their kids spend on the service and what they’ve read, watched or played. It also gives parents summaries of whatever their child has engaged with as well as prompts to foster conversation about it. Now, Amazon is giving parents remote access to controls.

Previously, parents had to set bedtimes, daily goals, time limits and filters through their child’s device. Now they can do so remotely through the Parent Dashboard from any web browser on their computer or mobile device. Be aware that when you choose to opt in to the remote parental controls through the dashboard, all previous FreeTime settings will be erased. So just take note of your current settings if you want to keep them as they are after opting in.

The remote feature is available now.


Virgin Galactic completes first powered test flight since 2014 crash

Today, SpaceShipTwo completed its first powered test since the horrific crash in 2014 that killed one of its pilots. The craft, VSS Unity, took off from Mojave Air and Space Port aboard a plane called CMS Eve, and was piloted by two people. According to Richard Branson, the vehicle went supersonic, up to Mach 1.6. He proclaimed Virgin Galactic “back on track.”

.@virgingalactic back on track. Successful powered flight, Mach 1.6. Data review to come, then on to the next flight. Space feels tantalisingly close now.

— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) April 5, 2018

It’s a great accomplishment for a company that has been taking it slow since the 2014 accident. Virgin Galactic performed numerous glide tests of SpaceShipTwo in order to ensure it was once again ready for a powered test, its fifth overall (but first since the fatal crash).

Following the investigation into what happened, The Spaceship Company (a Virgin Galactic subsidiary) made some changes to the design of SpaceShipTwo, according to CNBC. If all goes well with future powered tests, then Virgin Galactic could become one of the premier names in space tourism and launch providers.


Olympus’ chic 4K mirrorless E-PL9 arrives in the US for $600

With 4K and three-axis in-body stabilization, the Olympus E-PL9 is a good example of how mirrorless cameras are winning consumers by offering pro features for not much cash. The retro-styled model aimed at the tourist market has now arrived in the US in three colors (Pearl White, Onyx Black and Honey Brown), and will run you $600 without a lens.

Other features include the same TruePic VIII process and 121-point contrast-detect autofocus that’s on the larger OM-D E-M10 Mark III. That allows for shooting bursts up to 9 fps and quick autofocus speeds. Other features include a silent mode, tilting monitor and built-in flash. Should you prefer your cameras in kit form, you can get the E-PL9 with a 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ lens, camera bag, strap and 16GB SD card for $699.


Apple will ship its redesigned Mac Pro in 2019

If you were budgeting for the redesigned Mac Pro this year, you’ll want to earmark that money for something else. Apple has revealed to TechCrunch that the modular workstation is now slated to ship in 2019, rather than sometime in 2018 as many expected (though it was never set in stone). The company is providing the heads-up now so that customers who need a system soon can buy an iMac Pro without worrying that the Mac Pro might be right around the corner, according to Hardware Engineering VP Tom Boger. It might be worth the wait, however — as Apple explained, it’s shaping the system based on its potential customers.

Apple has created a Pro Workflow Team that helps it optimize its hardware and software based on real production chains, not just abstract goals. The company has hired creatives in 3D animation, music, video editing and visual effects to have them produce real projects and pinpoint the “bottlenecks,” whether it’s the computer design or an app feature. This team already helped improve performance on the iMac Pro, but it’s also “informing the work” on the Mac Pro, Boger said. The company is also listening to outside pros (including companies like Adobe), to be clear — the Pro Workflow Team just gives it direct, constant interaction.

The push to 2019 isn’t going to please creatives who want a headless machine and will have gone six years without a significant hardware revision. And there are still questions as to whether or not Apple will truly address what pros want. Does modularity mean a tower with room for internal expansion (such as audio interfaces, drive bays and multiple graphics cards), or will Apple expect pros to attach external GPU enclosures and other outside peripherals? While it’s good to know that Apple is genuinely investing in and responsive to the pro crowd, there’s no certainty that the 2019 system will satisfy those who’ve considered switching to Windows- or Linux-based rigs to get the features they want.

Source: TechCrunch


Final Cut Pro X 10.4.1 Available Next Week With ProRes RAW and Advanced Closed Captioning

Apple today previewed Final Cut Pro X version 10.4.1, an upcoming update to its professional video editing software.

The headline feature is a new ProRes RAW format, which combines the visual and workflow benefits of RAW video with the performance of ProRes, a lossy video compression format developed by Apple for use in post-production.

With ProRes RAW, editors can import, edit and grade pristine footage with RAW data from the camera sensor, providing ultimate flexibility when adjusting highlights and shadows — ideal for HDR workflows. And with performance optimized for macOS, editors can play full-quality 4K ProRes RAW files on MacBook Pro and iMac systems in real time without rendering. ProRes RAW files are even smaller than ProRes 4444 files, allowing editors to make better use of storage while providing an excellent format for archiving.

The update also adds advanced closed captioning tools that allow video editors to view, edit, and deliver captions from right within the app.

Apple says Final Cut Pro users can import closed caption files directly into their project or create them from scratch. Captions appear in the viewer during playback and can be attached to video or audio clips in the timeline, so they automatically move with the clips to which they’re connected.

Apple is also updating Final Cut Pro’s companion apps Motion and Compressor with ProRes RAW and closed captioning features respectively.

Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 will be available April 9 as a free update for existing users, and the app remains $299.99 for new users on the Mac App Store in the United States. Motion 5.4.1 and Compressor 4.4.1 will also be available on April 9 as free updates, or $49.99 each for new users from the Mac App Store.

Apple has updated its Final Cut Pro X, Motion, and Compressor pages on its website with more detailed information.

Tag: Final Cut Pro X
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