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Screen Time Changes Structure of Kids' Brains, NIH Study Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '18 at 09:33 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's indoor-activities department:
schwit1 shared this article from Bloomberg:
Brain scans of adolescents who are heavy users of smartphones, tablets and video games look different from those of less active screen users, preliminary results from an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes of Health show, according to a report on Sunday by "60 Minutes." That's the finding of the first batch of scans of 4,500 nine- to 10-year-olds. Scientists will follow those children and thousands more for a decade to see how childhood experiences, including the use of digital devices, affect their brains, emotional development and mental health.
In the first round of testing, the scans of children who reported daily screen usage of more than seven hours showed premature thinning of the brain cortex, the outermost layer that processes information from the physical world.... Early results from the $300 million study, called Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD), have determined that children who spend more than two hours of daily screen time score lower on thinking and language tests. A major data release is scheduled for early 2019.
The study's director cautions that "It won't be until we follow them over time that we will see if there are outcomes that are associated with the differences that we're seeing in this single snapshot."

The study will ultimately follow over 11,000 nine- to 10-year-olds for a decade.

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OpenJDK Bug Report Complains Source Code 'Has Too Many Swear Words'
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '18 at 08:10 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's professionalism department:
Thursday a bug report complained that the source code for OpenJDK, the free and open-source implementation of Java, "has too many swear words." An anonymous reader writes:

"There are many instances of swear words inside OpenJDK jdk/jdk source, scattered all over the place," reads the bug report. "As OpenJDK is used in a professional context, it seems inappropriate to leave these 12 instances in there, so here's a changeset to remove them."

IBM software developer (and OpenJDK team member and contributor) Adam Farley responded that "after discussion with the community, three determinations were reached":
"Damn" and "Crap" are not swear words. Three of the four f-bombs are located in jszip.js, which should be corrected upstream (will follow up). The f-bomb in BitArray.java, as well as the rude typo in SoftChannel.java, *are* swear words and should be removed to resolve this work item.
He promised a new webrev would be uploaded to reflect these determinations, and the bug has been marked as "resolved."

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Could You Live Without a Smartphone For a Year?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '18 at 05:32 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-ideal-for-millennials department:
shanen writes about Vitaminwater's latest "publicity stunt," where they will pay $100,000 to one select contestant who can live without their smartphone for a year: All you have to do is come up with the most amusing entry [about how you will spend 365 days without the device] and have sufficient willpower to give up your smartphone for a year. They obviously have to pick a power user to make it interesting, but that's not the reason I'm disqualified. I would just read more books, which is boring from their perspective. So maybe you want to share your idea here? If it's really good, you don't have to worry about someone stealing it. After all, you'd have the evidence that it was your idea first, but you might be able to refine your entry while amusing the mob. The company will reportedly give you a 1996 cellphone to use in times of emergencies. Also, they will reward you with $10,000 if you are able to get through 6 months. According to Tech Times, contestants can use computers or desktops, "but not smartphones or tablets, even those owned by other people, or anything which the candidate can scroll or swipe on." Always-listening smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, are permitted. To make sure the candidate doesn't cheat, Vitaminwater will subject them to a lie-detector test at the end of the year.

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Tesla Model 3 Modded To Run Ubuntu
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '18 at 02:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's if-there's-a-will-there's-a-way department:
140Mandak262Jamuna writes: CleanTechnica is reporting that someone hacked the infotainment system of a Tesla Model 3 and got root access and installed Linux distribution Ubuntu. Redditor trsohmers is able to show an Ubuntu command shell running alongside the Tesla OS. Since Tesla supports a browser that allows you to visit any site, could this be leveraged into remote hacks? It could also mean that if Tesla sells a long-range version of the Model 3, but limits it via software, people might try to remove the block. One could potentially get a 15-day trial of full self-driving for free and extend that 15-day window forever. At least he had some guts messing with $50,000 hardware that phones home all the time. Will Tesla brick his car to attempt to disprove the security issue?

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NASA's Hubble Telescope Discovers An 'Evaporating' Planet
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '18 at 12:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's quick-before-it's-too-late department:
Researchers at the University of Geneva Switzerland have used NASA's Hubble telescope to find an exoplanet that's evaporating. The exoplanet, GJ 3470b, shows signs of losing hydrogen in its atmosphere, causing it to shrink. USA Today reports: The study is part of exploration into "hot Neptunes," planets that are the size of Neptune, sit very close to their star, and have atmospheres as hot at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, says NASA. Finding a "hot Neptune" is rare because they sit so close to their star and tend to evaporate more quickly. In the case of GJ 3470b, scientists classify it as a "warmer" Neptune because it sits farther away from its star. The exoplanet discovered by astronauts is losing its atmosphere at a rate 100 times faster than a previous "warmer" Neptune planet discovered a few years before, according to a study published Thursday in the journal "Astronomy & Astrophysics." The planet sits 3.7 million miles from its star. For comparison, Earth is 92.9 million miles from the sun. Researchers say these "hot Neptune" planets shrink in size and morph into "Super Earths," versions of our planet that are massive and more rocky.

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Experts Urge US To Continue Support For Nuclear Fusion Research
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 08:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-forward department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: A panel of 19 scientists drawn from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended yesterday that the Department of Energy should continue an international experiment on nuclear fusion energy and then develop its own plan for a "compact power plant." A panel of 19 scientists drawn from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended yesterday that the Department of Energy should continue an international experiment on nuclear fusion energy and then develop its own plan for a "compact power plant."

But as the National Academies' report noted, major challenges must be overcome to reach these goals, beginning with how to contain and control a burning "plasma" of extremely hot gas, ranging from 100 million to 200 million degrees Celsius, that can produce more heat than it consumes. The report calls the resulting plasma "a miniature sun confined inside a vessel." The world's biggest experiment intended to create and draw energy from burning plasma is under construction at Cadarache, France. It's called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, and its centerpiece is a large, doughnut-shaped, Russian-inspired reactor called a tokamak. Several member nations have already developed their own national programs, and the assembled National Academies experts concluded that the United States should eventually follow, once the ITER experiment shows there are ways to contain and manipulate a sustained fusion reaction. "It is the next critical step in the development of fusion energy," says the report.

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Number of Streaming Shows Overtakes Basic Cable, Broadcast For First Time
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 06:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's up-up-and-away department:
schwit1 shares a report from Variety: Streaming services snatched their biggest piece of the TV pie ever in 2018. According to FX's annual report on the number of scripted originals on TV, the number of streaming shows has surpassed the number of basic cable and broadcast shows for the first time ever. Out of 495 scripted originals that aired in 2018, 160 of them did so on a streaming platform. That is compared to 146 on broadcast and 144 on basic cable. Pay cable accounted for the remaining 45 shows. Streaming shows also saw the biggest increase year-to-year, growing from 117 last year. Broadcast dipped slightly, dropping from 153 in 2017. Basic cable saw a more sharp decline, compared to the 175 shows that aired on basic cable the previous year. Pay cable was up slightly from 42. On a percentage basis, streaming shows now account for approximately one third of all scripted originals, with approximately 32%. Broadcast made up 30% and basic cable 29%, with pay cable making up 9%. The total number of shows across all of TV was up again as well, rising from 487 in 2017. The year-to-year growth was less than that of previous years, however. For example, the number of shows grew from 455 to 487 between 2016 and 2017. The 495 scripted originals this year was also off from FX Networks CEO John Landgraf's prediction that 520 such shows would air this year.

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Cloudflare Under Fire For Allegedly Providing DDoS Protection For Terrorist Websites
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 06:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's legal-jeopardy department:
Cloudflare is facing accusations that it's providing cybersecurity protection for at least seven terrorist organizations. "On Friday, HuffPost reported that it has reviewed numerous websites run by terrorist organizations and confirmed with four national security and counter-extremism experts that the sites are under the protection of Cloudflare's cybersecurity services," reports Gizmodo.

"Among Cloudflare's millions of customers are several groups that are on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Shabab, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, al-Quds Brigades, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas -- as well as the Taliban, which, like the other groups, is sanctioned by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)," reports HuffPost.

< article continued at Slashdot's legal-jeopardy department >

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Porn Sites Collect More User Data Than Netflix Or Hulu
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's intimate-intel department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: The biggest and perhaps best source of data about what people like to watch on the internet and what they would pay for doesn't come from streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu. It comes from porn. While consuming porn is typically a private and personal affair, porn sites still track your every move: What content you choose, which moments you pause, which parts you repeat. By mining this data to a deeper degree than other streaming services, many porn sites are able to give internet users exactly what they want -- and they want a lot of it. [...] MindGeek is the world's biggest porn company -- more specifically, it's a holding company that owns numerous adult entertainment sites and production companies, including the Pornhub Network. Like other streaming giants, MindGeek's sites analyze user data, but the company has an edge when it comes to producing tailor-made content in-house. With at least 125 million daily visits, MindGeek has a massive range of users to draw data from and create content for.

The average user can watch as much porn as they'd like without so much as making an account, let alone paying, but in exchange for meeting desires that can't always be met elsewhere, companies like MindGeek access user data because the user more willingly lets them. And it eventually pays off, when users decide to pay for premium content and the habits of paying subscribers become even clearer. What's more, Pornhub, in particular, operates one of the most sophisticated digital data analysis operations that caters primarily to users and not advertisers. Pornhub Insights provides transparency into its data collection -- on the most intimate of subjects -- by making research and analysis from billions of data points about viewership patterns, often tied to events from politics to pop culture, available to the public. It offers more than many other tech giants do.

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T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Will Reportedly Be Cleared By US National Security Panel
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-pressure department:
According to CNBC, T-Mobile and Sprint are expecting their merger to be approved by a U.S. national security panel as early as next week, after their respective parent companies said they would consider dropping Huawei. From the report: U.S. government officials have been pressuring T-Mobile's German majority owner, Deutsche Telekom, to stop using Huawei equipment, the sources said, over concerns that Huawei is effectively controlled by the Chinese state and its network equipment may contain "back doors" that could enable cyber espionage, something which Huawei denies. That pressure is part of the national security review of T-Mobile's $26 billion deal to buy U.S. rival Sprint, the sources said.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has been conducting a national security review of the Sprint deal, which was announced in April. Negotiations between the two companies and the U.S. government have not been finalized and any deal could still fall through, the sources cautioned. Sprint's parent, SoftBank Group, plans to replace 4G network equipment from Huawei with hardware from Nokia and Ericsson, Nikkei reported on Thursday, without citing sources.

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Apple Will Update iPhones In China To Avoid a Ban On Sales
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rendered-useless department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Apple said it would update the software of iPhones in China (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source) to try to resolve a legal dispute that threatens to stop the company from selling older iPhones in the country. Apple and its longtime chip supplier, Qualcomm, have been fighting in court over Apple's use of Qualcomm's technology. On Nov. 30, a Chinese court ruled Apple must immediately stop selling seven older iPhone models in China because it infringed on two Qualcomm patents. But Apple has not stopped selling those iPhones there. The company has argued the phones are not subject to the ruling because they are running new software that was not discussed at trial. On Friday, Apple said in a statement that it would update its iPhones in China early next week "to address any possible concern about our compliance with the order." Apple said its update would change the iPhones' software so it did not infringe on Qualcomm patents, which relate to switching between apps and changing the size and appearance of photographs.

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Nintendo Warns It Won't Make More Retro NES and SNES Consoles
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-road department:
Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime warned that the NES Classic and SNES Classic will sell in the Americas through the holidays, but will be "gone" once they sell out. Engadget reports: If you want to walk down memory lane after that, you'll have to take advantage of the games that come with Switch Online. You might also want to tamp down your hopes for a Nintendo 64 Classic. Fils-Aime added that the existing systems are the "extent of our classic program." That wouldn't be completely surprising given that the N64 was considerably more complex than its predecessor. The executive likewise ruled out additional games for the mini NES and SNES models.

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Discord Store To Offer Developers 90 Percent of Game Revenues
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 02:56 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shared-revenue department:
DarkRookie2 shares a report from Ars Technica: Discord has announced that it will start taking a reduced, 10-percent cut from game revenues generated on its online store starting next year, one-upping the Epic Games Store and its recently announced 12-percent cut on the Epic Games Store. The move comes alongside a coming expansion of the Discord Games Store, which launched earlier this year with a tightly curated selection of games that now includes roughly 100 titles. The coming "self-serve publishing platform" will allow developers "no matter what size, from AAA to single-person teams" to access the Discord Store and the new 90-percent revenue share. "We talked to a lot of developers, and many of them feel that current stores are not earning their 30% of the usual 70/30 revenue share," Discord writes in the announcement. "Because of this, we now see developers creating their own stores and launchers to distribute their games instead of focusing on what's really important --making great games and cultivating amazing communities." "Turns out, it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018," the announcement continues. "After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share."

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What Are Silicon Valley's Highest-Paying Tech Jobs?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 01:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-demand department:
An anonymous reader writes: Job-search site Indeed crunched its Silicon Valley hiring numbers for 2018, looking at tech job searches, salaries, and employers, and found that engineers who combine tech skills with business skills as directors of product management earn the most, with an average salary of US $186,766. Last year, the gig came in as number two, at $173,556. Also climbing up the ranks, and now in the number two spot with an average annual salary of $181,100, is senior reliability engineer. Application security engineer is third at $173,903. Neither made the top 20 in 2017. And while it seems that machine learning engineers have been getting all the love in 2018, those jobs came in eighth place, at $159,230. That's still a bit of a leap from last year, when the job made its first appearance on Indeed's top 20 highest-paying jobs in the 13th spot at $149,519. This year's top 20 is below; last year's numbers are here.

Further reading: 'Blockchain Developer' is the Fastest-Growing US Job (LinkedIn study).

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Regular Windows 10 Users Who Manually Look For Updates May End Up Downloading Beta Code, Microsoft Says
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 01:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
In addition to relying on Windows Insiders, employees, and willing participants for testing updates, Microsoft is pushing patches before they are known to be stable to regular users too if they opt to click the "check for updates" button on their own, the company said. From a report: In a blog post by Michael Fortin, Corporate Vice President for Windows, it is made clear that home users are intentionally being given updates that are not necessarily ready for deployment. Many power users are familiar with Patch Tuesday. On the second Tuesday of each month, Microsoft pushes out a batch of updates at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time on this day containing security fixes, bug patches, and other non-security fixes. Updates pushed out as part of Patch Tuesday are known as "B" release since it happens during the second week of the month.

During the third and fourth weeks of the month are where things begin to get murky. Microsoft's "C" and "D" releases are considered previews for commercial customers and power users. No security fixes are a part of these updates, but for good reasoning. Microsoft has come out to directly say that some users are the guinea pigs for everyone else. In some fairness to Microsoft, C and D updates are typically only applied when a user manually checks for updates by clicking the button buried within Settings. However, if end users really wanted to be a part of testing the latest features, the Windows Insider Program is designed exactly for that purpose.

Further reading: Windows 10's 'Check for updates' button may download beta code.

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Boeing 737 Passenger Jet Damaged in Possible Midair Drone Hit
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 12:12 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-concern department:
Grupo Aeromexico SAB is investigating whether a drone slammed into a Boeing Co. 737 jetliner as the aircraft approached its destination in Tijuana, Mexico, on the U.S. border. From a report: Images on local media showed considerable damage to the nose of the 737-800, which was operating Wednesday as Flight 773 from Guadalajara. In a cabin recording, crew members can be heard saying they heard a "pretty loud bang" and asking the control tower to check if the nose was damaged. The collision happened shortly before landing. "The exact cause is still being investigated," Aeromexico said in a statement. "The aircraft landed normally and the passengers' safety was never compromised."

The potential drone strike stoked fears that the rising use of uncrewed aircraft will endanger planes filled with passengers. While most nations prohibit drones from flying in pathways reserved for airliners, the millions of small consumer devices that have been purchased around the world can't be tracked on radar, making it difficult for authorities to enforce the rules. In addition, many users don't know the rules or don't follow them.

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In Booming Job Market, Workers Are 'Ghosting' Their Employers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 12:12 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
A notorious millennial dating practice is starting to creep into the workplace: ghosting. Employers are noticing with increasing frequency that workers are leaving their jobs by simply not showing up and cutting off contact with their companies [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; syndicated source]. From a report: "A number of contacts said that they had been 'ghosted,' a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact," the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago noted in December's Beige Book, which tracks employment trends. National data on economic "ghosting" is lacking. The term, which usually applies to dating, first surfaced in 2016 on Dictionary.com. But companies across the country say silent exits are on the rise. Analysts blame America's increasingly tight labor market. Job openings have surpassed the number of seekers for eight straight months, and the unemployment rate has clung to a 49-year low of 3.7 percent since September. Janitors, baristas, welders, accountants, engineers -- they're all in demand, said Michael Hicks, a labor economist at Ball State University in Indiana. More people may opt to skip tough conversations and slide right into the next thing.

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A New Engine Could Bring Back Supersonic Air-Travel
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 10:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department:
An anonymous reader shares a report (may be paywalled): Every morning, time once was, a giant roar from Heathrow Airport would announce the departure of flight BA001 to New York. The roar was caused by the injection into the aircraft's four afterburners of the fuel which provided the extra thrust that it needed to take off. Soon afterwards, the pilot lit the afterburners again -- this time to accelerate his charge beyond the speed of sound for the three-and-a-half hour trip to JFK. The plane was Concorde.

Supersonic passenger travel came to an end in 2003. The crash three years earlier of a French Concorde had not helped, but the main reasons were wider. One was the aircraft's Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus engines, afterburners and all, which gobbled up too much fuel for its flights to be paying propositions. The second was the boom-causing shock wave it generated when travelling supersonically. That meant the overland sections of its route had to be flown below Mach 1. For the Olympus, an engine optimised for travel far beyond the sound barrier, this was commercial death.

That, however, was then. And this is now. Materials are lighter and stronger. Aerodynamics and the physics of sonic booms are better understood. There is also a more realistic appreciation of the market. As a result, several groups of aircraft engineers are dipping their toes back into the supersonic pool. Some see potential for planes with about half Concorde's 100-seat capacity. Others plan to start even smaller, with business jets that carry around a dozen passengers. The chances of such aircraft getting airborne have recently increased substantially.

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Facebook Says A Bug May Have Exposed The Unposted Photos Of Millions Of Users
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 10:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's weekly-Friday-security-disclosures department:
A day after hosting a pop-up store in New York City's Bryant Park to explain how privacy is the "foundation of the company," Facebook disclosed that a security flaw potentially exposed the public and private photos of as many as 6.8 million users to developers. From a report: On Friday, the Menlo Park, California-based company said in a blog post that it discovered a bug in late September that gave third-party developers the ability to access users' photos, including those that had been uploaded to Facebook's servers but not publicly shared on any of its services. The security flaw, which exposed photos for 12 days between Sept. 13 and Sept. 25, affected up to 1,500 apps from 876 developers, according to Facebook.

"We're sorry this happened," Facebook said in the post. "Early next week we will be rolling out tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug. We will be working with those developers to delete the photos from impacted users." Facebook has not yet responded to questions about whether company representatives staffing its privacy pop-ups yesterday were aware of this security flaw as they were meeting with reporters and customers to discuss privacy.

Further reading: Facebook's lead EU regulator opens probe into data breach.

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Hiding in Plain Sight: The YouTubers' Crowdfunding Piracy
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '18 at 09:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Some YouTube channels are publishing full-length episodes of TV shows, rights of which they obviously do not own, and on top of this, they are trying to crowdfund their piracy efforts by asking viewers to donate some cash. From a report: YouTube creators asking for money is nothing new, be it through the site's built-in membership features or third-party services such as Patreon. But trying to profit off someone else's intellectual property isn't the same as asking for support on an original video they've created. The person who runs the Kitchen Nightmares Hotel Hell and Hell's Kitchen channel did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Engadget, but their Patreon page (named YoIUploadShows) isn't coy.

"Hey! It's not as easy as you might think to make my content, I have to look for the best quality episodes I can find, download them, convert them, edit them, render them and upload them," YoIUploadShows' Patreon page reads. "This can sometimes take at least a few hours. Especially because the downloads are usually slow and the rendering itself can take a couple hours, because I started making all my uploads in HD instead of 480p to give them a little extra clarity." It's not easy, folks, so for that he or she "would really appreciate the extra support if you have any money to spare :)"

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