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08-23-2016 Science&Technology
Apple Acquires Personal Health Data Startup Gliimpse

Apple's ambitions in the health sector continue to expand, with its digital health team making its first known acquisition—personal health data startup Gliimpse, Fast Company has learned.

Silicon Valley-based Gliimpse has built a personal health data platform that enables any American to collect, personalize, and share a picture of their health data. The company was started in 2013, and funded by serial entrepreneur Anil Sethi, who has spent the past decade working with health startups, after taking his company Sequoia Software public in 2000. He got his start as a systems engineer at Apple in the late 1980s.

The acquisition happened earlier this year, but Apple has been characteristically quiet about it. The company has now confirmed the purchase, saying: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

According to Sethi's LinkedIn page, Gliimpse—like many startups—was born of a personal need. Sethi says that he's followed his sister through her battle with breast cancer and discovered firsthand how challenging it is to acquire and manage your personal health data. Sethi writes:

As a consumer of healthcare, I leave behind a bread-crumb-trail of medical info wherever I’ve been seen. But, I'm unable to easily access or share my own data. Obamacare is one of several forcing functions federally mandating physicians and hospitals give us our data: meds, labs, allergies . . .you get the idea. However, there’s no single Electronic Health Record that all physicians use, sigh. Worse, there isn't even a common file format across a 1000+ systems. The acquisition will bolster Apple’s efforts in digital health. In recent years, Apple has delved into the sector with a range of services (HealthKit, CareKit, and ResearchKit) that allow patients, clinicians, and researchers to access important health and wellness data via a range of mobile devices. That's in line with Gliimpse's mission of uniting disparate streams of health information.

What stands out about the deal is that Gliimpse is intended for patients with diseases like cancer and diabetes. Apple recently hired a top pediatric endocrinologist who developed a HealthKit app for teens with Type 1 diabetes, signaling an increased interest in applications for chronically ill users.

It's unlikely that this acquisition will bring Apple's health technologies under the purview of federal regulators. CEO Tim Cook recently told Fast Company in an interview that he sees a major business opportunity for the company in the non-regulated side of health care: "So if you don’t care about reimbursement, which we have the privilege of doing, that may even make the smartphone market look small."



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Source: Fast Company

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08-23-2016 Politics
Donald Trump: 'I'm not flip-flopping' on immigration

Washington (CNN)It's still undecided whether Donald Trump will continue to support forced deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants living in the US, his campaign manager said Sunday. But Trump himself insisted Monday, "I'm not flip-flopping."

"I'm not flip flopping," the Republican presidential nominee told Fox News on the issue Monday. "We want to come up with a fair but firm process. Fair but firm." He did not, however, provide any specifics or elaborate on his position further. When asked by repeated questioning by CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" on Sunday whether Trump stood behind the idea of a deportation task force, Kellyanne Conway, Trump's new campaign manager, responded, "to be determined." Conway was responding to reports about what was said in a meeting Trump held on Saturday with a Hispanic advisory council. Sources in the room told BuzzFeed that Trump spoke about a "humane and efficient" way to work with undocumented immigrants in the country currently, which was characterized by BuzzFeed as a way to legalize some and let them stay.

That would stand in sharp contrast with a central theme of the Trump campaign since the beginning, a hardline position on immigration focused on removing people in the country illegally. Conway disputed that Trump presented a reversal of his position in the meeting. "So what Donald Trump said yesterday in that meeting ... varied little from what he has said publicly," Conway said. "What he supports is to make sure we enforce the law, that we are respectful of those Americans who are looking for jobs, and that we are fair and humane to those who live among us." Bash played a clip of Trump speaking about a deportation force last fall, saying it would be done "humanely," repeatedly asking if that was still the position of the campaign or whether Trump was backing off. That was when Conway responded: "To be determined." Early Sunday evening the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton released a statement scoffing and Trump's potential change of heart on deportation. "Donald Trump's immigration plan remains the same as it's always been: tear apart families and deport 16 million people from the United States," said campaign chair John Podesta. Jose Fuentes, a Trump supporter and the former attorney general of Puerto Rico, was at the roundtable with Trump on Saturday, and said he did not walk away with the interpretation that Trump was open to legalization for some undocumented immigrants.

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Source: CNN

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08-23-2016 Politics
Judge in Texas temporarily blocks Obama’s transgender rules

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge in Texas is blocking for now the Obama administration’s directive to U.S. public schools that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity.

Hundreds of school districts Monday woke up to news of the order by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor on the first day of class in Texas and elsewhere.

The decision dated Sunday comes after Texas and 12 other states challenged the Obama directive as unconstitutional during a hearing in Fort Worth last week. It applies to schools nationwide, as many districts reopen this week after the summer vacation.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, immediately cheered the decision.

“This president is attempting to rewrite the laws enacted by the elected representatives of the people, and is threating to take away federal funding from schools to force them to conform,” Paxton said. “That cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we took action to protect states and school districts.”

The federal government told U.S. public schools in May that transgender students must be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity. That announcement came days after the Justice Department sued North Carolina over a state law that requires people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificate, which Attorney General Loretta Lynch had likened to policies of racial segregation. Republicans have argued such laws are commonsense privacy safeguards.

Schools were not explicitly told to comply or lose federal funds. But the Obama administration also didn’t rule out that possibility in court documents filed in July, saying recipients of federal education dollars “are clearly on notice” that antidiscrimination polices must be followed. Texas alone gets roughly $10 billion in federal education funds.

The lawsuit was filed in May by Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia, and the Republican governors of Maine, Mississippi and Kentucky. Two small school districts in Arizona and Texas, which have fewer than 600 students combined and no transgender persons on their campuses, also joined the effort to prevent the directive from being enforced.

Source: Usa Today

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08-23-2016 Science&Technology
PS4 Slim leaks online, looks legit

Sony will have not one, but two consoles on show at its upcoming PlayStation Meeting event on September 7—and the first appears to have leaked online. A thinner, rounder PlayStation 4 Slim was spotted for sale on classified listings site Gumtree (now removed) via local retailer, which claimed it was due for release in three weeks. Twitter user shortman82 has since purchased the unit, unboxed it, and slapped a load of photos online.

The purported PS4 Slim looks considerably thinner than the original PS4, which was already a small console. The same cleaved-parallelepiped aesthetic remains, but the corners have been rounded off, while the glossy plastic section that covered the hard drive on the original PS4 has been removed entirely. While that's good for fans of fingerprint-free gadgets, it does raise questions as to whether the hard drive will be replaceable in the PS4 Slim, particularly as the listed model (CUH-2016A) only sports 500GB of storage.

Sony has typically removed features from its consoles to make them cheaper to manufacture and thus cheaper to sell to consumers (remember all the media card slots on the original PlayStation 3?), so such a move wouldn't be unprecedented.

Elsewhere, it appears the capacitive power and eject buttons have been replaced with physical ones, while Sony has also removed the dedicated optical audio output on the rear. Ethernet and HDMI remain, along with the lesser-used camera port from the original PS4.

Source: Ars Technica

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08-23-2016 Environment
This tree in Greece is Europe's oldest known living tree

European history has had one continuous observer for more than a thousand years: a pine tree in Greece.

Dendrochronologists have calculated the tree’s age to be at least 1,075 years old, making it the oldest tree in Europe. This little pine, nicknamed “Adonis,” has seen world wars, a century of revolutions, the Protestant Reformation, the Crusades, and a good chunk of the Dark Ages.

"The tree we have stumbled across is a unique individual," said Stockholm University graduate student Paul J. Krusic, according to the Washington Post. "It cannot rely on a mother plant, or the ability to split or clone itself, to survive."

Recommended: Climate change: Is your opinion informed by science? Take our quiz! He's referring to trees that repeatedly clone themselves, so a tree living now is genetically identical to one living more than 10,000 years ago. Tree systems like those have been called the oldest trees in the world, but the individual trees live only a few hundred years before asexually spawning a replacement clone.

This tree has, itself, lived through more than a thousand years of history.

"Cloning is a very effective evolutionary survival strategy," said Mr. Krusic. "It's cool, but it's not the same. It's not the same as you or I being left alone to our own devices and living for 1,000 years, like this tree."

Some other trees have been estimated to be a lot older than Adonis, but therein lies the rub. Estimation does not make an ancient tree, at least in the eyes of scientists. This tiny tree creates one new trunk ring each year, making it comparatively easy for scientists to determine its age.

According to Mr. Krusic, who was part of the team that counted tree rings for the study, Adonis is actually more than 1,075 years old. The scientists who took the pencil-sized core samples from Adonis’ tree trunk didn't reach the center of the tree, so it has more rings that they couldn't count.

"I am impressed, in the context of western civilization, all the human history that has surrounded this tree; all the empires, the Byzantine, the Ottoman, all the people living in this region,” Krusic said, according to Phys.org. “So many things could have led to its demise. Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years."

Elderly trees are rare in Europe, although they are relatively common in other parts of the world, including the United States. The reason has a lot to do with humans – the more human traffic there is in a region, the more likely a tree is to be chopped down for a human purpose, whether firewood or construction or to make room for development.



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Source: The Christian Science Monitor

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08-23-2016 Sports
Team USA Concludes Record-Breaking Rio 2016 Olympic Games With 121 Medals, 46 Golds

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Rio 2016 Olympic Games drew to a close Sunday following 17 days of competition between more than 10,900 athletes representing 206 nations. The Rio Games, which marked the first Olympics to be held in South America – saw Team USA top the medal chart in every category for only the seventh time in Olympic history and the first since 1948, leading all nations with 121 medals, including 46 golds, 37 silvers and 38 bronzes. The U.S. is one of only five nations to have accomplished the feat at the Olympic Games in summer competition and the first to do in 40 years.

Team USA’s 121 medals are the most ever for a U.S. team in a non-boycotted Games, topping the previous high of 110 from Beijing in 2008.

“The Rio Games were very special and we’re incredibly happy to be where we are from a results standpoint and celebrating the success of our athletes,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “These Games will be defined by the inspiring performances of our athletes, the images of them on the podium and the success of the Organizing Committee."

The winning campaign extended Team USA’s reign atop the overall medal chart to six straight Games, dating back to 1996. Overall, 213 American athletes contributed to the medal count, including 32 multiple medalists and 13 who won multiple gold medals. Of the 27 sports in which U.S. athletes competed, the U.S. brought home hardware in 20.

“I don’t think there’s anything better than having the opportunity to hang gold medals on American athletes and listen to the Star-Spangled Banner,” said USOC Chairman Larry Probst. “Overall, these have been a terrific Games – the venues have been spectacular and the volunteers were very friendly and did a fantastic job."

For the second straight Olympics, China finished second with 70 medals (26 golds), ahead of Great Britain, which completed the Games with 67 medals (27 golds) to rank third among all nations. Team USA’s 51-medal margin of victory is the second largest at a non-boycotted Olympics, ranking second behind its previous high of 61 in 1924.

“This has been an incredible Games for Team USA by any measure, and I’m so proud and amazed by the spectacular performances of our athletes, the quality our coaching and the way our organization came together to support them,” said Alan Ashley, USOC chief of sport performance and Team USA chef de mission.

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Source: Team Usa

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08-23-2016 Science&Technology
Your Instagram feed can tell us if you’re depressed, study suggests

If you've ever paused to reflect on the moody, filtered shots of a friend's Instagram feed and wondered whether you should reach out, a new study may confirm your worries.

Researchers Andrew Reece of Harvard University and Chris Danforth of the University of Vermont collected survey information and 43,950 Instagram photos from 166 volunteers recruited through Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which pays people small amounts to perform tasks.

Each participant was asked to complete a standardized clinical depression survey to assess depression level, answer demographic questions and share information about their use of social media, including their Instagram usernames. The researchers then analyzed the photos for quantitative measures of colors, brightness and faces, as well more subjective assessments of happiness, sadness, likeability and "interestingness."

The study is the latest in a body of research that looks at how changes in your psychology are reflected in social media. A team from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine examined how three aspects of movement in time and space which they dubbed "circadian movement," "normalized entropy," and "location variance" appear to correlate with symptoms of depression. Another study, out of Sweden, found that frequent cellphone use was associated with stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among both young adult men and women.

[How your cellphone knows if you’re depressed. It has to do with how you move through time and space.]

The key finding in the new study has to do with the curious relationship between mood and color. It turned out increased hue, with decreased brightness and saturation, appeared to predict depression. Hue refers to the place on a 360-degree color wheel, brightness from black to white, and saturation to what photographers call "colorfulness" or the intensity of a color. In other words, people who are depressed had pictures that were "bluer, grayer and darker."



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Source: Washington Post

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08-23-2016 Science&Technology
How to track poverty from space

You can get a pretty good idea of a country’s wealth by seeing how much it shines at night – just compare the intense brightness of China and South Korea to the dark mass of North Korea that’s sandwiched between them.

But nighttime lights don’t tell you which neighborhoods or villages within a large region are merely poor and which are home to people living in abject poverty. That’s the level of detail policymakers need when they decide where to deploy their economic development programs.

You could get that detail by sending legions of survey-takers into crowded slums and sparsely populated rural areas. But that would be hugely time-consuming and cost tens of millions of dollars or more.

So researchers at Stanford came up with a way to get computers and satellites to do the work for them.

Their computer model, described in the journal Science, isn’t perfect. But its predictive power is at least as good as – or better than – methods that rely on data from old and out-of-date surveys.

The Stanford approach requires a few key ingredients.

First, you need to have some kind of data that covers every single place where people live. You get bonus points if that data is in the public domain.

You also need a smaller amount of data that you know is pretty accurate.

Finally, you need a powerful computer that can calibrate the trove of “noisy” data to the smaller amount of reliable data.

The Stanford researchers tested their system with five African countries: Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda. They started with nighttime images captured as part of the U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Places that were brighter at night were presumed to be more economically developed than places that were dim.

Then they had their computer program compare the nighttime images to higher-resolution daytime images available via Google Static Maps. The program was able to recognize certain shapes in the daytime pictures that were correlated with economic development.

“Without being told what to look for, our machine learning algorithm learned to pick out of the imagery many things that are easily recognizable to humans – things like roads, urban areas and farmland,” study lead author Neal Jean, a computer science graduate student at Stanford’s School of Engineering, said in a statement.

Other recognizable features included waterways and buildings. The computer even learned to distinguish metal rooftops from those made of grass, thatch or mud, according to the study.



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Source: Miami Herald

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08-22-2016 Science&Technology
Apple Leak Reveals Massive iPhone 7 Cancellation

We know a lot about the iPhone 7. But just weeks from its release date, it appears Apple AAPL +0.25% has decided to cancel the most powerful, potentially largest and (inevitably) most expensive iPhone the company has ever created…

How so? Because according to the usually reliable Mac Otakara: the ‘iPhone 7 Pro’ is no more.

In a new report the Japanese site explains that Apple decided there is no need to add a new top of the range model above the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. While it will use the ‘iPhone 7’ moniker for the range to avoid customer confusion, after toying with new branding given the range still uses the core iPhone 6 design launched in 2014.

So why is there no flagship iPhone 7 Pro model?

MacRumors fills in the details explaining that the iPhone 7 Pro was a backup model when Apple was unsure it would be able to produce its new dual lens camera in sufficient quantities for the iPhone 7 Plus. This would have seen the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus share the same single lens camera while the iPhone 7 Pro sat above them in limited quantities with the upgraded optics.

Now Apple believes manufacturing constraints around the dual lens camera have been resolved so it can be fitted into every iPhone 7 Plus and there is no need to expand the range. Such a scenario would also explain why we have repeatedly seen photos of three iPhone 7 models.

Interestingly it also demonstrates how keen Apple is to get its dual lens camera onto the market in 2016. This is understandable given rivals including LG and Huawei have already released smartphones with this technology, while it is widely accepted Samsung has stolen the coveted best smartphone camera status away from Apple in recent years with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7.

So is one less iPhone 7 model a good thing? I’d argue both yes and no.

On the positive side, having just two iPhone models does keep the range simple and using the ‘iPhone 7’ brand rather than a new iPhone 6 derivative (iPhone 6SE was rumoured) is likely to sound more exciting to potential buyers.

But there are negatives too. For starters the iPhone 7 Pro appeared to be a true no compromise model which also packed a Smart Connector (something seemingly missing from the iPhone 7 Plus) and leaks had suggested a huge 5.8-inch display and OLED panel. All significant differentiators.

So ultimately Apple’s move seems both logical yet a little disappointing to anyone hoping the company would shake things up a bit more. As it stands, the real iPhone revolution starts in 2017.

Source: Forbes

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08-22-2016 Environment
Biggest US total solar eclipse in decades happens next year

Lunar eclipses are pretty amazing, but statistically speaking, they aren't really all that rare. Catching a full solar eclipse, on the other hand? That's hard. The moon blocks our planet's view of the sun about ever year and a half -- but these eclipses can typically only be seen from extremely remote locations. Next year, things will be different. On August 21st 2017, a total solar eclipse will be viewable from 14 US States in North America -- marking the first time Americans have been able to see the phenomenon since 1979. If you're reading this from the USA, that means you're only one year and a short road trip from seeing an exclusive celestial ballet.

As the first eclipse to pass over the lower 48 US states since 1918, the event is being billed as the "Great American Total Solar Eclipse." It won't technically be be visible from every US state, but the eclipse will follow a diagonal path from northern Oregon, over Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee in the nation's center and head back out to sea through South Carolina. According to Space.com, that puts over 220 million people within a one-day drive of the totality zone -- directly passing over 12 states and catching the edge of an additional two.

Even if you do make the trek out, the phenomenon won't last long -- at best, the full eclipse will only last two minutes and forty seconds. Still, if you're looking for an excuse to plan a road trip next year, a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse is a pretty good one.

Source: Engadget

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08-22-2016 Cars
VW says talks to end supplier dispute will resume on Monday

Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) is seeking a negotiated settlement with suppliers in a dispute over contracts that is halting production at some of its plants and talks will resume on Monday, the German carmaker said.

"Naturally, we remain in talks with the suppliers," a VW spokesman said, adding that the negotiations had run late into the night on Friday and that the parties had agreed to resume discussions on Monday.

He said the company was keeping its legal options open, without giving further details.

Two Volkswagen suppliers accused the carmaker on Friday of cancelling contracts without explanation or offering compensation, prompting them to stop deliveries.

CarTrim, which makes seats, and ES Automobilguss, which makes cast iron parts needed to make gearboxes, are seeking compensation after saying they faced lost revenues running into tens of millions of euros.

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the suppliers were seeking 58 million euros ($66 million) from VW, without citing a source for the information.

A source close to Volkswagen told Reuters on Thursday the company would cut working hours for more than 10,000 staff at its Wolfsburg headquarters and reduce output at two more German sites.

Separately, the carmaker confirmed a report in Bild newspaper on Saturday that the Wolfsburg plant would halt production of the Golf model from Oct. 4-7 and from Dec. 19-22.

VW said the stoppages were part of regular production adjustments planned for the following quarter and were due to output being higher than expected thanks to workers keeping up production during the summer shutdown in July.

It denied, however, that the company expected to produce 15,000 fewer Golfs this year than planned at the beginning of the year.

($1 = 0.8829 euros)

(Reporting by Jonathan Gould and Andreas Cremer; Editing by Helen Popper)



Source: Reuters

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08-22-2016 Sports
Neymar fires Brazil to first Olympic Games football gold medal in penalty shoot-out victory against

Brazil beat Germany in a penalty shoot-out to end their long wait for an Olympic Games football gold medal in the most dramatic of circumstances at an emotionally charged Maracanã on Saturday (20 August).

The hosts' talisman Neymar stepped up to score the winning spot-kick and seal a 5-4 shoot-out win after goalkeeper Weverton had saved Germany's fifth penalty, taken by Nils Petersen. Neymar, who fell to his knees and broke down in tears after sinking the decisive penalty, had initially put Brazil ahead in the 26th minute with a spectacular free-kick, which was cancelled out by Max Meyer's second-half equaliser for Germany.

s well as ending a quest for football gold that had become a Brazilian national obsession, the hosts' victory also went some way to healing the deep wounds inflicted by the last meeting between these two sides - a 7-1 victory for Germany in the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final. Although Brazil coach Rogerio Micale played down pre-match talk of targeting "revenge" for that defeat, the whistles that greeted the Germans in their pre-match warm-up indicated that memories of that harrowing night in Belo Horizonte were still raw for many fans. Yet despite the inevitable parallels drawn between the two games, on the field they had little in common. There was not a single player on either side who took part in the match two years ago. Cacophonous noise Still, any doubts about the importance of this gold medal to Brazil were answered by the cacophonous noise created by the 78,000 fans packed inside the Maracana. Their desperation for victory contributed to a Brazil performance that was high on energy and passion, if not always composure. The home side enjoyed plenty of possession with little end product until Neymar was sent tumbling - the Brazil captain picking himself up to bend a majestic free-kick in off the bar.

Brazil continued to push forward at every opportunity - driven on by their exciting attacking quartet of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Barbosa and Luan - but their slick opponents fashioned the clearest chances.

Julian Brandt's curling 25-metre drive hit the crossbar before Sven Bender's header bounced off the bar and a Brazilian defensive clearance also hit the woodwork. The Germans' pressure paid off when Jeremy Toljan crossed for the unmarked Max Meyer to sweep home clinically on 59 minutes.



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Source: Rio2016

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08-18-2016 Politics
The Daily 202: What Trump’s latest shakeup says about his flailing campaign

THE BIG IDEA: Shaking up his campaign once again, Donald Trump has decided to let Trump be Trump.

The Republican nominee knows he’s losing. Congenitally unable to take personal responsibility, he blames his slide in the polls on the people who have prodded him to act “presidential” and wage a more traditional campaign.

In a 5:38 a.m. press release, Trump announced that Stephen Bannon, who got rich on Wall Street but has never worked on a race before, will take a leave of absence from running Breitbart.com to become the campaign’s “chief executive.” Pollster Kellyanne Conway, who worked for Ted Cruz’s super PAC during the primaries but has been friendly with Trump for years, will become campaign manager.

Paul Manafort will retain his titles as campaign chairman and chief strategist, but Trump advisers told Robert Costa overnight that his status has diminished internally due to the candidate’s unhappiness and restlessness in recent weeks. The aides told Costa that Trump has grown to feel “boxed in” and "controlled" by people who barely know him.

Trump plans to re-double his focus on holding big rallies and doing lots of TV hits. He’ll also more aggressively attack Hillary Clinton, to the extent that’s possible, and he’ll re-embrace his role as an outsider, making less of an effort to be nice to GOP greybeards.

During the primaries, when Trump was winning, then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski always said "let Trump be Trump." He now wants to get back to that type of campaign culture. The moves send “a signal, perhaps more clear than ever, that the real-estate mogul intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side,” Costa writes.

-- This is another proof point that Trump is not trying to run the kind of serious campaign that can actually win the presidency. That’s why it will frighten the GOP establishment, scare off some mainstream donors who have been playing footsie with the billionaire and push congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell a little closer to cutting Trump loose – maybe even before Labor Day. (Bannon’s site single-mindedly went after Paul Ryan in the run-up to his primary.)

-- Both of the newly-elevated advisers are conservative populists who will never discourage Trump from following his id. It’s hard for a 70-year-old man to change his ways, especially this one. Donald’s id demands instant gratification more than most people’s, and he’s long struggled to control his impulsiveness.



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Source: Washington Post

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08-17-2016 Science&Technology
Google's Hangouts still has a future: as an enterprise communication app

Share on Facebook (31) Tweet Share (7) Pin (1) Today, Google launched Duo, its new mobile-only video chat app. But that's only half of Google’s new messaging equation. The other half is Allo, its AI-enhanced texting app. Allo isn't available yet, even though Duo is a "companion app" to it. Google's VP for communications Nick Fox says that the two apps are being developed on different timelines and that it will be released in time.

Thing is, Google already has a messaging solution that handles both text and video chat — it's called Hangouts, and it's become the butt of many a joke about how moribund it has become. After launching with a lot of high-minded promises and ideas about the future of mobile communication, meaningful product development seems to have stalled out. Even so, Allo and Duo are not replacing Hangouts, which makes you wonder: what's next for Hangouts?

The answer is simple: business.

That's what Fox told me before diving into the product briefing for Duo. Google, he says, places its messaging goals into three buckets. And understanding them goes a long ways towards making sense of Google's "try everything" messaging strategy.

THREE BUCKETS: CONSUMER, CARRIER, AND ENTERPRISE

The first bucket is the one we're most familiar with: consumer services. This is squarely where Allo and Duo will sit. They're focused on end users, designed with simplicity in mind, and there's an attempt to add some "humanness" to them, in Fox's terms.

The second bucket: carrier services. This is where Google does a few different things. It makes the messaging app for SMS and RCS (Rich Text Services, the next-gen SMS), provides RCS services to carriers with its recently-acquired Jive software, and finally makes the phone app. "We don't think of the Phone app as a Google product as much as we think of it as a manifestation — hopefully a great manifestation — of the carrier's phone [...] calling service," says Fox. "Same thing with the SMS/RCS app," he adds.

That leaves the third bucket, the enterprise. And Fox says that's "where Hangouts will increasingly focus over time." Though he insists that Google "won't abandon consumer users in Hangouts, obviously," he does feel that apps do better with focus. That's a big reason why Duo is so heavily focused on phones, and a parallel focus on big business will apparently apply to Hangouts.



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Source: The Verge

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08-15-2016 Science&Technology
Microsoft Research working on the ultimate wearable: a tattoo to control devices remotely

Technology is evolving day by day; researchers are working to make your phone's battery last forever, developing chip architectures to allow multi-core phones and PCs to run up to 18 times faster, and are even promising a future where Pokémon GO is much more believable.

Now, PhD students from the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with Microsoft Research, are working to develop a temporary skin tattoo that can allow users to interact with connected interfaces, remotely control a smartphone, act as a touchpad, and even share data via NFC.

The technology has been dubbed as "DuoSkin", and is described as follows:

DuoSkin is a fabrication process that enables anyone to create customized functional devices that can be attached directly on their skin. Using gold metal leaf, a material that is cheap, skin-friendly, and robust for everyday wear, we demonstrate three types of on-skin interfaces: sensing touch input, displaying output, and wireless communication.

DuoSkin draws from the aesthetics found in metallic jewelry-like temporary tattoos to create on-skin devices which resemble jewelry. DuoSkin devices enable users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on their skin while serving as a statement of personal style.

We believe that in the future, on-skin electronics will no longer be black-boxed and mystified; instead, they will converge towards the user friendliness, extensibility, and aesthetics of body decorations, forming a DuoSkin integrated to the extent that it has seemingly disappeared. The researchers involved are endeavoring to have at least three classes of on-skin interfaces, namely input, output and communication. Their work, if successful, will allow users to interact with DuoSkin using buttons, sliders and 2D trackpads. The technology, in return, also has the ability to output soft colored displays on the skin. In addition, MIT has also noted that DuoSkin can make devices interact using NFC, in order to share data between connected gadgets.

It is important to remember that back in 2010, a Carnegie Mellon student also designed a similar gesture-based interface that could be utilized on the wrist or the back of the hand. The project named as "Skinput" was aided by Microsoft Research as well, but it turned out to be economically infeasible.

Source and image: MIT via The Verge

Source: Neowin

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08-15-2016 Science&Technology
Hacker posts personal info of House Democrats and staff

WASHINGTON — After receiving a deluge of obscene voicemails and text messages, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi informed her fellow Democrats on Saturday of “an electronic Watergate break-in” and warned them not to allow family members to answer their phones or read incoming texts.

The breach targeted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democratic Party entities, Pelosi said in a statement. As a result, a mix of personal and official information of Democratic members and hundreds of congressional staff, purportedly from a hack of the DCCC, was posted online, she said.

Pelosi said she is changing her phone number and advised her colleagues to do the same.

A hacker who calls himself Guccifer 2.0 took credit for posting the information Friday night. He had claimed responsibility for the recent hack of Democratic National Committee emails, which roiled the Democratic National Convention last month. While Guccifer 2.0 has described himself as a Romanian hacker and denies working for Russia, online investigators assert that he is linked to Russia.

President Barack Obama said in late July that Russia may have been behind the leak of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails. Obama, who noted that outside experts have blamed Russia for the leak, suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin may have reason to facilitate the attack.

“Anything’s possible,” Obama told NBC News when asked whether Moscow was trying to influence the presidential election.

The FBI, which is investigating, hasn’t publicly attributed the attack to Russia. But Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign has, implying that the goal was to benefit Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump has rejected the allegation, insisting Democrats were trying to “deflect the horror and stupidity” of the leak.

Two U.S. cybersecurity firms have said their analysis of computer breaches at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, showed detailed evidence that the intrusions were likely linked to Russian hackers. The internet domains and registrants used in the breach of computers used by the committee tied back to a Russian hacking group linked to that nation’s intelligence services. That same hacking group, known as “Fancy Bear,” was previously connected to the cyber breach at the Democratic National Committee.

Both firms, Fidelis Cybersecurity and ThreatConnect, said the hackers created a fake internet DCCC donation site. The registrant for the fake DCCC site was linked back to other web domains used by “Fancy Bear.



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Source: Washington Post

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