By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Scientists claim they have found new evidence of a link between infection with the protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, and schizophrenia, in what is described as the largest study of its kind. From a report: T. gondii, a brain-dwelling parasite estimated to be hosted by at least 2 billion people around the world, doesn't create symptoms in most people who become infected -- but acute cases of toxoplasmosis can be dangerous. Healthy adults are generally thought to not be at risk from T. gondii infections, but children or people with suppressed immune systems can develop severe flu-like symptoms, in addition to blurred vision and brain inflammation.
Pregnant women need to be careful too, as the parasite can cause foetal abnormalities or even miscarriage. Aside from the known physiological dangers, however, the stranger and more ambiguous risks associated with the parasite remain largely hypothetical -- although a huge body of research suggests something weird is going on. Causation remains very much disputable, but the brain-dwelling parasite -- commonly carried by cats and present in their faeces -- has been linked to a huge host of behaviour-altering effects.
Virtually all warm-blooded animals are capable of being infected, and when T. gondii gets inside them, unusual things happen. In rodents, animals seemingly lose their inhibitions, becoming more exploratory and losing their aversion to cat odours.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's legendary-internet-users department
Thelasko shares a report from CBS News: Steven Pruitt has made nearly 3 million edits on Wikipedia and written 35,000 original articles. It's earned him not only accolades but almost legendary status on the internet. The online encyclopedia now boasts more than 5.7 million articles in English and millions more translated into other languages -- all written by online volunteers. Pruitt was named one of the most influential people on the internet by Time magazine in part because one-third of all English language articles on Wikipedia have been edited by Steven. An incredible feat, ignited by a fascination with his own history.
How much money does he make from his work? None. "The idea of making it all free fascinates me. My mother grew up in the Soviet Union ... So I'm very conscious of what, what it can mean to make knowledge free, to make information free," he said. Pulling from books, academic journals and other sources, he spends more than three hours a day researching, editing and writing. Even his day job is research, working in records and information at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He joked that his colleagues probably think he's nuts. To put in to perspective what it took for Pruitt to become the top editor, he's been dedicating his free time to the site for 13 years. The second-place editor is roughly 900,000 edits behind him, so his first place status seems safe, for now.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's to-be-determined department
Following a record 35-day government shutdown, thousands of civil servants and contractors are heading back to work this week at NASA's various centers throughout the country. "These first few days back on the job will be consumed with practical matters, such as figuring out employee backpay and how to dive back into projects," reports The Verge. "The shutdown will undoubtedly result in delays for some of NASA's long-term programs, too, but it'll be a while before the space agency can fully assess the extent of the damage." From the report: To explain how NASA is adjusting in the wake of the shutdown, the space agency's administrator Jim Bridenstine addressed employees during a town hall meeting this afternoon at NASA's headquarters in Washington, DC. "Welcome to 2019," he said during the meeting, which was live-streamed on NASATV. "NASA is now open and we're very thankful for that." The comment was met by applause from those in attendance, while Bridenstine went on to acknowledge that it's been a rough start to the year for the agency. "I want to say thank you for your patience and for your commitment to this agency and to the mission we all believe in so dearly."
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
While Gmail on the web was significantly redesigned last year, the app for Android and iOS stayed relatively unchanged, with the exception of an update last year that removed the bold colors in favor of an almost entirely white look. Engadget reports that a redesigned Gmail for mobile is starting to roll out today and it will be available to all Android and iOS users in the coming weeks. Engadget reports: Functionally, the new Gmail mobile app isn't wildly different than what came before. There's a button in the lower-right corner to compose a new email, just like before -- it's just white with a multi-colored "plus" sign, the same glyph that shows up in Gmail and Drive on the web. The iconic top red bar is now white, and the whole top area is a search bar; the old app required tapping a smaller target to get into search. Finally, there's a shortcut right to the account switcher on the main page. Previously, switching accounts required opening the sidebar, but now that option is front and center.
A few features that came to the web version of Gmail make their way to mobile today. Probably most recognizable is that attachment previews will show up below the messages, making it easier to both find messages with attachments and get a sense of the content. For those that prefer to see more messages, Google also has "comfortable" and "compact" density options that remove attachment previews and avatars, respectively. The large red phishing warnings that Gmail on the web shows also now show up in the app. Visually, it looks just like you'd expect if you've tried any of Google's recent mobile apps -- it's basically all white, with the new Google font throughout.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's desperate-for-data department
A new report from TechCrunch details how "desperate" Facebook is for data on its competitors. The social media company "has been secretly paying people to install a 'Facebook Research' VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user's phone and web activity," a TechCrunch investigation confirms. "Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity." From the report: Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android "Facebook Research" app. Facebook even asked users to screenshot their Amazon order history page. The program is administered through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest to cloak Facebook's involvement, and is referred to in some documentation as "Project Atlas" a fitting name for Facebook's effort to map new trends and rivals around the globe.
We asked Guardian Mobile Firewall's security expert Will Strafach to dig into the Facebook Research app, and he told us that "If Facebook makes full use of the level of access they are given by asking users to install the Certificate, they will have the ability to continuously collect the following types of data: private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps -- including photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and even ongoing location information by tapping into the feeds of any location tracking apps you may have installed." It's unclear exactly what data Facebook is concerned with, but it gets nearly limitless access to a user's device once they install the app.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's overall-revenue department
Due to an economic slowdown in China and diminishing demand for new iPhones, Apple's profits in its most recent quarter were flat compared with a year earlier. "The disappointing financial performance had been expected since Jan. 2, when Apple, for the first time in 16 years, revised its forecast for the quarter," reports The New York Times. "But the announcement on Tuesday indicates a difficult road head for Apple, which just five months ago became the first company to be worth more than $1 trillion. The company said it expected between $55 billion and $59 billion in revenue in the current quarter, just below analysts' expectations for $59 billion. Apple's earnings per share were $4.18, beating analysts' expectations by a penny."
In addition to the quarterly earnings, Apple reported revenue of $84.3 billion, a decline of 5 percent from one year ago. "Revenue from iPhone declined 15 percent from the prior year, while total revenue from all other products and services grew 19 percent," Apple said in a press release. Analysts had estimated revenue of $83.97 billion and earnings of $4.17 per share. "While it was disappointing to miss our revenue guidance, we manage Apple for the long term, and this quarter's results demonstrate that the underlying strength of our business runs deep and wide," said Tim Cook. Apple's active install base of 1.4 billion is "a great testament to the satisfaction and loyalty of our customers, and it's driving our services business to new records thanks to our large and fast-growing ecosystem," Cook said. The Verge adds: "iPhones account for 900 million of those devices. iPad revenues were up 17 percent against the year-ago quarter; Mac was up 9 percent; and Wearables/Home/Accessories were up by 33 percent."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Amazon announced today a plan to fund computer science classes in more than 130 New York City area high schools. Specifically, Amazon will fund both introductory and Advanced Placement (AP) classes across all five NYC boroughs, including more than 30 schools in Queens, near its new headquarters. From a report: The courses will be supported by the Amazon Future Engineer program, whose stated goal is to bring more than 10 million kids to computer science per year, and fund computer science courses for over 100,000 underprivileged kids in 2,000 low-income high schools in the U.S. It also awards 100 students per year with four-year $10,000 scholarships and offers internships at Amazon.
The funding for the New York area schools will cover preparatory lessons, tutorials and professional development for teachers, says Amazon, as well as offer sequenced and paced digital curriculum for students, and live online support for both teachers and students. All participating students will also receive a free membership to AWS Educate, which offers free computing power in the AWS Cloud for coding projects.Read Replies (0)