Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for April 26th, 2017

Reddit plans to make big changes to how the site looks

Posted by kenmay on April - 26 - 2017

Reddit’s default design is a throwback to simpler times on the internet. However, moderators on the site’s numerous subreddits put a bunch of work into making sure their communities stand out from each other by employing CSS (cascading style sheets) to change everything from banner images, fonts, icons and other aspects of the user interface. Reddit’s CEO Steve Huffman said that’s going to change, as the massive discussion board is undergoing an overhaul. Among his reasons — CSS being difficult to learn, and it not translating to mobile where Reddit apparently gets over half its traffic — Huffman also says that the site using the coding language has impeded growth and change. “CSS causes us to move slow, ” he said. “We’d like to make changes more quickly. You’ve asked us to improve things, and one of the things that slows us down is the risk of breaking subreddit CSS (and third-party mod tools).” In the next few months, the site will begin transitioning away from CSS. From the sounds of it, though, a lot of the CSS-powered customization features are going to be built into the site proper. Community calendars and “a lot of the functionality” from sidebars will be available via widgets. The redesigned site will run in parallel with the current version as the changes are implemented. Huffman said the ultimate goal is to replicate what’s already available, and that the dev team will make it easier to use and viewable on the go. Speaking directly to the last point, Huffman said that header images and flair colors will render on both desktop and mobile after the changes. As for mod tools, Huffman said that Reddit is in talks with the developers of third-party mod-tool provider Toolbox to port its functionality into the redesign. Perhaps unexpectedly, Reddit’s users aren’t too excited about the new direction. The big worry is that the changes will strip Reddit’s mods of some of their creative control for their respective communities and that everything is going to look a bit more boring as a result. That might be taking the announcement a little too far. For all we know, there’s a chance that the changeover won’t affect much. Or there’s the other possibility: Reddit will realize how big of an undertaking this is and abandon the refresh — something Huffman hinted at in the comments of his post. Replying to a mod who asked what incentive there was to keep working while the changes were coming, Huffman had this to say: “I would advice [sic] to continue developing until the new stuff is real. Who knows, maybe we’ll screw it up and never release it..” So long as r/CrappyDesign (above) can keep its intentionally awful Comic Sans UI and layout, we’ll be happy. Via: The Verge Source: Reddit

Categories: reader

This worm eats plastic bags

Posted by kenmay on April - 26 - 2017

Humans discard a trillion single-use plastic bags every year. If you were a wax worm, this statistic would make you drool. The caterpillar loves to eat them. From Atlas Obscura : Frederica Bertocchini, a biologist at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology in Spain, noticed some wax worms had managed to eat their way through the plastic bags they were being kept in. While other organisms can take weeks or months to break down even the smallest amount of plastic, the wax worm can get through more—in a far shorter period of time. The researchers let 100 wax worms chow down on a plastic grocery bag, and after just 12 hours they’d eaten about 4 percent of the bag, according to findings published Monday in the journal Current Biology. That may not sound like much, but that’s a vast improvement over fungi, which weren’t able to break down a noticeable amount of polyethylene after six months. Image of wax worm: skeeze/Pixabay

Categories: reader

Enlarge (credit: Countercept ) After Microsoft officials dismissed evidence that more than 10,000 Windows machines on the Internet were  infected by a highly advanced National Security Agency backdoor , private researchers are stepping in to fill the void. The latest example of this open source self-help came on Tuesday with the release of a tool that can remotely uninstall the DoublePulsar implant. On late Friday afternoon, Microsoft officials issued a one-sentence statement saying that they doubted the accuracy of multiple Internet-wide scans that found anywhere from 30,000 to slightly more than 100,000 infected machines. The statement didn’t provide any factual basis for the doubt, and officials have yet to respond on the record to requests on Tuesday for an update. Over the weekend, Below0day released the results of a scan that detected 56,586 infected Windows boxes, an 85-percent jump in the 30,626 infections the security firm found three days earlier. Both numbers are in the conservative end of widely ranging results from scans independently carried out by other researchers over the past week. On Monday, Rendition Infosec published a blog post saying DoublePulsar infections were on the rise and that company researchers are confident the scan results accurately reflect real-world conditions. Rendition founder Jake Williams told Ars that the number of infected machines is “well over 120k, but that number is a floor.” Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: reader

AT&T’s faux 5G network launches in Austin

Posted by kenmay on April - 26 - 2017

At last, 5G wireless is here… sort of. As promised , AT&T has launched its pre-standard 5G network, starting with certain parts of Austin. So long as you have a Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus , you can get speeds that should leave LTE in the dust. Expect downloads about twice as fast on average, the carrier says. Indianapolis is due for the next rollout in the summer, and there will be 20 total areas covered (including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville and San Francisco) by the end of 2017. And if you’re not inclined to Samsung hardware, you should see “numerous other devices” this year that take advantage of the new network. The launch will certainly give you some bragging rights if you’re an early smartphone adopter, but we wouldn’t quite call it the dawn of the 5G era. As we hinted earlier, the wireless industry is still hashing out the details of 5G . You won’t get “real” 5G until there’s a standard, and that could change both the performance you expect as well as compatibility with early pseudo-5G devices. This doesn’t mean your S8 will lose 5G-like speeds the moment there is a standard, but we wouldn’t count on full support. Arguably, AT&T is launching its 5G network to shout “first!” — it wants to one-up Verizon’s 5G plans and show that it’s ahead of the game, even if it’s only by a matter of a few months at most. Source: AT&T

Categories: reader

Campy, live-action horror game ‘Night Trap’ heads to PS4

Posted by kenmay on April - 26 - 2017

After 25 years, a browser port and a failed Kickstarter , cult classic FMV (full-motion video) game Night Trap is finally getting making its way back to living rooms. Thanks to the folks at developer Screaming Villains and publisher Limited Run Games, the interactive tale of teenage girls stuck in a house under attack by vampires will be released on disc sometime this spring for PlayStation 4 . Based on the trailer below, the video footage isn’t pristine, but it looks about as clean as it probably ever will. Considering that watching video makes up a bulk of the gameplay, that’s pretty important. It isn’t up to the level of the Alien or Jaws remasters on Blu-ray, of course, but the source material wasn’t aiming for high art or box office glory. The “control room” UI (you’re a security guard monitoring the house remotely via closed circuit cameras) you play from looks super slick, too. Our Night Trap release will be available with three different covers, each based on one of the three US Sega CD releases. pic.twitter.com/4fascjPaBq — Limited Run Games (@LimitedRunGames) April 25, 2017 On Twitte r, Limited Run said that its version will be available with three different cover styles based on the trio of US Sega CD releases — replete with the diagonal stripes and off-center art placement. More than that, the cover art is missing one key thing: An ESRB rating. Along with Doom and the original Mortal Kombat , Night Trap and its “violent” content was partly responsible for Entertainment Software Ratings Board and its age-ratings for games. Currently, the remaster is rated T for Teen for violence, blood and suggestive themes. Pricing and an exact release date aren’t known, but based on Limited Run’s previous releases the disc shouldn’t cost more than $25. If you’re itching for something similar, maybe give Until Dawn a shot if you haven’t yet. It’s a slightly different take on teenage horror than Night Trap , but the PS4-exclusive dishes out scares and laughs while serving as a loving homage to the genre. Via: Limited Run Games (Twitter) Source: PlayStation (YouTube)

Categories: reader

Quelli che il Calcio (That which is Football) is one of Italy’s top sports broadcasts and it is played in the country’s prisons; it has a ticker that you can send SMSes to that then show up on screen. (more…)

Categories: reader