Information, DIY & News for 02/20/2019

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#1 Computers

A new Canadian study has linked increased screen time with delayed development in children, adding new fuel to the debate over how long is too long for kids to spend in front of their electronic devices

A computer virus hit newspaper printing plants in Los Angeles and at Tribune Publishing newspapers across the country.

I’m getting strange email. How can you find out who really sent you email? There has to traces somewhere!

Twitter users curious about CEO Jack Dorsey’s tech habits got some answers this week.

The father of five was summoned to a meeting with leaders of his ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish sect in Kiryas Joel, N.Y., a village of some 22,000 about 50 miles north of New York City.

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#2 Best streaming service, cut cell phone costs and more: Tech Q&A

FILE- This March 19, 2018, file photo shows the Netflix app on an iPad in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Track Emailers

Q: I’m getting strange email. How can you find out who really sent you email? There has to traces somewhere!

A: Remember when we would laugh at “Nigerian Princes” who wanted to give us millions of dollars and shrug off “Rolexx Waches” [sic]. Cyber-criminals have come a long way since then, and hackers have improved their English skills. It helps to know where the emails are coming from to help confirm their authenticity. Tap or click here to get the steps to learn an email’s sender.

Budget Phone Service

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#3 YouTube introduces one-time warning, new strike penalties

KRAKOW, POLAND - 2019/01/24: Youtube logo is seen on an android mobile phone. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

YouTube today announced new penalties for creators who violate its Community Guidelines.

The first time you post something that violates those rules, you'll essentially get a one-time pass: YouTube will remove the offending content and send you a warning, but you'll face no other penalty. That way, you can brush up on the platform's policies, so you hopefully don't violate them again in the future.

From there, you'll get three strikes, which expire after 90 days. On your first strike, YouTube will freeze your ability to upload any new content to the platform for one week. On your second strike within that 90-day period, you won't be able to upload any new content for two weeks. If you get a third strike within any 90-day period, YouTube will terminate your channel.

"Previously, not all strikes had the same penalty on your channel," the YouTube team explained in a Tuesday blog post. "For example, first strikes on videos would trigger a 90-day freeze on live streaming, and second strikes would result in a two-week freeze on new video uploads. We heard from many of you that this was confusing and the penalty didn't match the source of the strike. Now, based on your feedback, all Community Guidelines strikes will have the same penalty."

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#4 Do AirPods make you look rich? These millennials think so

Fueled by internet memes, the explosion of expensive-yet-attainable AirPod headphones as the luxury item of the moment for millennials shows no signs of stopping. (iStock)

Will Kellogg regards his headphones with a degree of shame. In New York City, where people proudly brandish their bright-white wireless AirPods, he listens to music through a “do they even make those anymore?” wirebound set. As the 26-year-old administrator for a Brooklyn theater company confessed: “I still use corded headphones.” In late December, he vented his perceived aural inferiority in a Twitter missive, framing a recent quote by Catherine Zeta-Jones — “I will not apologize for being rich, beautiful and famous” — as something AirPod owners might say to a poor soul like him.

Mr. Kellogg’s riff is just one entry in a large, still growing library of tweets based on the meme that, when it comes to sound, AirPods are the superior tech/fashion status symbol. Most of these viral tweets satirize the idea that AirPod owners flaunt their affluence. “Just bought some AirPods and then I got a call from Bill Gates asking to hang out this weekend, it feels nice being in the top 1%,” reads a 2018 tweet from Miami college student Miguel Amaro that’s amassed over 15,000 likes. Though Apple’s $159 headphones were released in December 2016, this recent wave of internet jokes seemingly has propelled them to a new level of desirability. Amaro, 19, who subscribes to that cause-effect theory, said he’s observed more and more people with AirPods “since it became a meme.”


Apple does not release sales figures for AirPods, but Google Trends, the search engine’s in-house index, charted that interest in AirPods in terms of Google searches was more than nine times higher this past Christmas than it was at the same time in 2016, right after their release.

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#5 DNA reveals early mating between Asian herders and European farmers

FIRST STEPPES  Yamnaya herders from western Asia, four of whom are buried in this grave, started mating with European farmers hundreds of years before launching a major migration into Europe, new DNA evidence indicates.

A. Kalmykov

Hundreds of years before changing the genetic face of Bronze Age Europeans, herders based in western Asia’s steppe grasslands were already mingling and occasionally mating with nearby farmers in southeastern Europe.

That surprising finding, published online February 4 in Nature Communications, raises novel questions about a pivotal time when widespread foraging and farming populations interacted in Eurasia’s Caucasus region. Those exchanges presumably sparked the geographic spread of metalworking, the wheel and wagon, and Indo-European languages still spoken in much of the world.

Archaeologists have often assumed that, as early as around 5,600 years ago, Caucasus farmers known as the Maykop migrated north in big numbers, bringing metalworking and early Indo-European tongues to herders who roamed grasslands on the edge of the region. In that scenario, this cultural exchange led steppe herders to develop a horse-and-wagon lifestyle that the nomads later transported to Europe and Asia, along with Indo-European languages, starting about 5,000 years ago (SN: 11/25/17, p. 16). Researchers call those mobile herders Yamnaya people.

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#6 Artificial intelligence is learning not to be so literal

CATCH MY DRIFT  Artificial intelligence that can pick up on subtext and figures of speech could better understand users than strictly literal-minded AI.


HONOLULU — Artificial intelligence is starting to learn how to read between the lines.

AI systems are generally good at responding to direct statements, like “Siri, tell me the weather” or “Alexa, play ‘Despacito’.” But machines can’t yet make small talk the way humans do, says Yejin Choi, a natural language processing researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle. When it comes to conversational nuances like tone and idioms, AI still struggles to understand humans’ intent.

To help machines participate in more humanlike conversation, researchers are teaching AI to understand the meanings of words beyond their strict dictionary definitions. At the recent AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, one group unveiled a system that gauges what a person really means when speaking, and another presented an AI that distinguishes between literal and figurative phrases in writing.

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#7 A new computer program generates eerily realistic fake videos

PHONY FOOTAGE  A new computer program can manipulate a video so that its subject mirrors the movements of someone else in another video. In this case, images of Russian President Vladimir Putin are altered to match those of former President Barack Obama.

H. Kim et al/ACM Transactions on Graphics 2018

“The camera never lies” is a thing of the past.

A new computer program can manipulate a video such that the person on-screen mirrors the movements and expressions of someone in a different video. Unlike other film-fudging software, this program can tamper with far more than facial expressions. The algorithm, to be presented August 16 at the 2018 SIGGRAPH meeting in Vancouver, also tweaks head and torso poses, eye movements and background details to create more lifelike fakes.

These video forgeries are “astonishingly realistic,” says Adam Finkelstein, a computer scientist at Princeton University not involved in the work. This system could help produce dubbed films where the actors’ lip movements match the voiceover, or even movies that star dead actors reanimated through old footage, he says. But giving internet users the power to create ultrarealistic phony videos of public figures could also take fake news to the next level (SN: 8/4/18, p. 22).

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