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Boeing Unveils New NASA Spacesuits For Starliner Austronaut Taxi
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-out-of-style department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Space.com: The NASA astronauts who fly aboard Boeing's new spaceship will wear sleek, blue suits that are lighter, simpler and more comfortable than the bulky orange gear of the space shuttle era, company representatives said. Unveiled today (Jan. 25), the new "Boeing Blue" spacesuits for the Starliner capsule weigh about 20 lbs. (9 kilograms) each with all of their accessories, compared to 30 lbs. (13.6 kg) for the old space shuttle suits, NASA officials said. Other advances include touch-screen-sensitive gloves, more-flexible material and soft helmets that are incorporated into the suit (rather than the hard, detachable helmets of the shuttle era). The Boeing Blue suit, and the one that SpaceX develops, will help keep astronauts safe in the event of an emergency during trips to and from orbit. The suits are not designed for spacewalks; the large, bulky "extravehicular mobility units" that astronauts use for this latter purpose are already aboard the ISS. "The spacesuit acts as the emergency backup to the spacecraft's redundant life-support systems," Richard Watson, subsystem manager for spacesuits in NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said in the same statement. "If everything goes perfectly on a mission, then you don't need a spacesuit. It's like having a fire extinguisher close by in the cockpit. You need it to be effective if it is needed." You can view pictures of the spacesuits here.

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Nicotine Shown To Reduce Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's voices-in-my-head department:
New submitter future guy quotes a report from New Atlas: A meta-analysis of worldwide studies conducted in 2005 definitively showed what many doctors had been anecdotally noting for decades. Schizophrenia patients were much more likely to become heavy smokers than than those in the general population. In fact some studies found over 80 percent of those diagnosed with schizophrenia were smokers. There were many social and psychological hypotheses proposed to explain this strange anomaly, but none were ever sufficient. A new study published in Nature Medicine has not only revealed how smoking can normalize the impairments in brain activity associated with schizophrenia, but unlocks an entirely new field of drug research to combat the disease. The study expanded on the recent discovery of a genetic mutation, labelled CHRNA5, that was identified as being associated with the cognitive impairments seen in schizophrenic patients. The scientists took mice with the CHRNA5 gene variant and discovered they displayed similar characteristics to those suffering from schizophrenia, such as an inability to suppress a startle response and an aversion to social interaction. Using brain imaging technologies the research team discovered the mice with the CHRNA5 gene variant displayed symptoms of hypofrontality, a state of decreased blood flow in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Hypofrontality is commonly thought to be a prominent cause of many symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as being associated with other psychiatric conditions including Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. As well as identifying the role this gene variant plays in causing hypofrontality, the study examined how nicotine acted to restore normal activity to the prefrontal cortex. The researchers found that within one week of daily nicotine dosing the impaired brain activity in mice with schizophrenic characteristics had normalized.

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Scientists Cure Mice of Diabetes Using Cells Grown Inside Rats
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's medical-breakthrough department:
In a process that could transform organ transplantation, scientists in Japan and the U.S. have reportedly cured mice of diabetes by transplanting mouse cells grown in rats. The study has been published in the journal Nature. Quartz reports: To achieve this feat, researchers injected mouse pluripotent stem cells into a rat embryo. As the name suggests, these pluripotent stem cells are able to transform themselves into all types of cells. The mouse cells intermingled with rat cells, and created a chimera whose organs and tissues were almost all created from a mix of mouse and rat cells. Crucially, however, they had modified the rat to not produce pancreatic cells. They achieved this by knocking out a gene called Pdx1. The upshot was that the pancreas in the chimera was almost completely made of mouse cells. When the rat-mouse chimeras became adults, the researchers removed the animals' pancreases and from them, isolated endocrine islets, which contain B-cells that produce insulin. The B-cells were then transplanted to diabetic mice that had lost all their native B-cells. The mice that received the transplant were put on mild immunosuppressant drugs. However, the scientists found they only needed to administer the drugs for five days after transplantation. Surprisingly, the few rat cells that came along during the transplant (mostly in the blood vessels in the islets) had been destroyed and replaced by the mouse's own cells. The B-cells in mice that got the transplants functioned just as they would in a healthy mouse for more than a year, which was the complete observation period. These lab mice only live for two to three years, which makes a one-year observation fairly long. The research opens up the door for growing human organs inside, say, a pig, using the patient's own stem cells and then transplanting the organ when it's mature and ready.

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Samsung's Galaxy S8 Will Feature a Headphone Jack, Desktop Dock, 'Infinity Display' and More, Says In-Depth Report
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-in-one department:
The Guardian has published a considerable amount of information on Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone. The phone will reportedly launch in March with a headphone jack and a desktop dock, among other features. From the report: Samsung's Galaxy S8 will come in two sizes, have an almost bezel-less, edge-to-edge "infinity" display and an iris scanner, the Guardian has learned. The two variants will have screens in the 5in to 6in region, with the devices having the same or smaller proportions of previous versions of Samsung's flagship smartphone but with larger displays, according to several well placed sources talking to the Guardian. The S7 was available with either a 5.1in and 5.5in screen. The two smartphones are codenamed Dream and Dream 2, representing the smaller and larger Galaxy S8 respectively, according to two sources. Both versions will have screens that curve down at the left and right sides of the device similar to the Galaxy S7 Edge, two sources have said. The so-called "infinity display" will cover the majority of the front of the device, with very little body on the top and bottom of the screen not dedicated to the display. Two sources said there wasn't even room to put a logo or brand name on the front of the device. Samsung has moved the fingerprint scanner to the back of the device, multiple sources said. The Galaxy S8 will have a traditional 3.5mm headphone socket, according to several sources. Samsung also plans a range of new accessories for the Galaxy S8. Two sources said a new dock and service that turns the Galaxy S8 into an Android desktop computer, connecting to a monitor, keyboard and other peripherals called DeX (desktop extension) will be available. DeX has been likened to Microsoft's Continuum, which connects Windows smartphones to a desktop extension to allow them to be used as Windows PCs, but only with Windows Store applications.

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Russia Arrests Top Kaspersky Lab Security Researcher On Charges of Treason
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tried-for-treason department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Russian authorities arrested Ruslan Stoyanov, one of Kaspersky Lab's top-ranked security researchers, under article 275 of the Russian criminal code, which refers to treason. According to Russian newspaper Kommersant, who broke the story today, Stoyanov was arrested in December, together with the head of the Russian Secret Service (FSB) information security department Sergei Mikhailov. In a statement released today by Kaspersky Lab, the company says that Stoyanov was arrested based on activities he partook in before joining the company. Details regarding the investigation are murky, but according to the Russian newspaper who quotes anonymous sources, Stoyanov was involved in facilitating the transfer of funds from foreign companies to Mikhailov's accounts. According to Stoyanov's LinkedIn account, before serving as Head of the Computer Incidents Investigation Team at Kaspersky, he worked as Deputy Director for a company called Indrik, but also as a Major in the Ministry of Interior's Cyber Crime Unit.

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Google Bans 200 Publishers From Its Ad Network
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's search-and-destroy department:
Since it passed a new policy against fake news, Google has banned 200 publishers from its AdSense network, an ad placement service that automatically serves text and display ads on participating sites based on its audience. "The ban was part of an update to an existing policy that prohibits sites that mislead users with their content," reports Recode. From the report: Not all 200 publishers were swept up as part of the effort to root out fake news sites. Publishers were banned in November and December and included sites that impersonate real news organizations through shortened top-level domains, according to Google's 2016 "bad ads" report, normally released at the beginning of each year. So-called fake news publishers will sometimes take advantage of ".co" domains by appearing similar to legitimate news sites that would normally end in ".com." Google declined to provide a listing of the banned sites. Separately, the annual report on violations of advertising policy also included data on ads removed by Google. The company reported that in 2016 it took down 1.7 billion ads for violations, compared to 780 million in 2015. Google attributes the increase in ad removals to a combination of advertiser behavior and improvements in technology to detect offending ads. Also among those the removed ads were what Google calls "tabloid cloakers." These advertisers run what look like links to news headlines, but when the user clicks, an ad for a product such as a weight loss supplement pops up. Google suspended 1,300 accounts engaged in tabloid cloaking in 2016.

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Deep Learning Algorithm Diagnoses Skin Cancer As Well As Seasoned Dermatologists
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rise-of-the-machines department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ExtremeTech: Remember how that Google neural net learned to tell the difference between dogs and cats? It's helping catch skin cancer now, thanks to some scientists at Stanford who trained it up and then loosed it on a huge set of high-quality diagnostic images. During recent tests, the algorithm performed just as well as almost two dozen veteran dermatologists in deciding whether a lesion needed further medical attention. The algorithm is called a deep convolutional neural net. It started out in development as Google Brain, using their prodigious computing capacity to power the algorithm's decision-making capabilities. When the Stanford collaboration began, the neural net was already able to identify 1.28 million images of things from about a thousand different categories. But the researchers needed it to know a malignant carcinoma from a benign seborrheic keratosis. Dermatologists often use an instrument called a dermoscope to closely examine a patient's skin. This provides a roughly consistent level of magnification and a pretty uniform perspective in images taken by medical professionals. Many of the images the researchers gathered from the Internet weren't taken in such a controlled setting, so they varied in terms of angle, zoom, and lighting. But in the end, the researchers amassed about 130,000 images of skin lesions representing over 2,000 different diseases. They used that dataset to create a library of images, which they fed to the algorithm as raw pixels, each pixel labeled with additional data about the disease depicted. Then they asked the algorithm to suss out the patterns: to find the rules that define the appearance of the disease as it spreads through tissue. The researchers tested the algorithm's performance against the diagnoses of 21 dermatologists from the Stanford medical school, on three critical diagnostic tasks: keratinocyte carcinoma classification, melanoma classification, and melanoma classification when viewed using dermoscopy. In their final tests, the team used only high-quality, biopsy-confirmed images of malignant melanomas and malignant carcinomas. When presented with the same image of a lesion and asked whether they would "proceed with biopsy or treatment, or reassure the patient," the algorithm scored 91% as well as the doctors, in terms of sensitivity (catching all the cancerous lesions) and sensitivity (not getting false positives).

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Gmail Will Soon Block JavaScript File Attachments
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's for-your-own-safety department:
Starting February 13, 2017, Google will not allow JavaScript files to be sent as an attachment via Gmail in an effort to reduce malicious attacks. Android Police reports: Malicious emails often attach various forms of executable programs and trick users into running them. These include standard Windows executables (.exe), batch files (.bat), and even JavaScript files (.js). If you're not familiar with web development, JavaScript is a common language used when developing web applications, and JS files are often loaded as part of web pages. However, opening an unknown JS file on Windows can be dangerous, as it runs inside Windows Script Host by default. From there, the script can easily run Windows executables. While blocking .js attachments is a step in the right direction, it is unclear if any warnings will be shown when receiving emails with JS files attached. Source: G Suite Updates

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Dropbox Kept Files Around For Years Due To 'Delete' Bug
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's empty-trash department:
Dropbox has fixed a bug that caused old, deleted data to reappear on the site. The bug was reported by multiple support threads in the last three weeks and merged into one issue here. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: In some of the complaints users reported seeing folders they deleted in 2009 reappear on their devices overnight. After seeing mysterious folders appear in their profile, some users thought they were hacked. Last week, a Dropbox employee provided an explanation to what happened, blaming the issue on an old bug that affected the metadata of soon-to-be-deleted folders. Instead of deleting the files, as users wanted and regardless of metadata issues, Dropbox choose to keep those files around for years, and eventually restored them due to a blunder. In its File retention Policy, Dropbox says it will keep files around a maximum 60 days after users deleted them.

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Trump's FCC Chairman Pick Ajit Pai Vows To Close Broadband 'Digital Divide'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's basic-necessities department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On his first full day as Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Republican Ajit Pai yesterday spoke to FCC staff and said one of his top priorities will be bringing broadband to all Americans. "One of the most significant things that I've seen during my time here is that there is a digital divide in this country -- between those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not," Pai said (transcript). "I believe one of our core priorities going forward should be to close that divide -- to do what's necessary to help the private sector build networks, send signals, and distribute information to American consumers, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else. We must work to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans." Pai promised to "hear all points of view -- to approach every issue with a literal open door and a figurative open mind," as the FCC "confronts this and many other challenges." Pai didn't offer any specific initiatives for closing the digital divide yesterday, but in September 2016 he outlined a "digital empowerment agenda." The plan included "remov[ing] regulatory barriers to broadband deployment," changes to pole attachment rules, and "dig once" policies that install broadband conduit when roads are dug up during any road and highway construction project. He also proposed setting aside 10 percent of spectrum auction proceeds for deployment of mobile broadband in rural areas. Pai suggested requiring mobile carriers to build out service to 95 percent of the population in areas where they have spectrum licenses; he noted that some licenses only required service for 66 percent or 75 percent of residents, a problem in sparsely populated rural areas. At the same time, he proposed extending initial spectrum license terms from 10 years to 15 years to give the carriers more time to complete the construction. Pai also proposed creating "gigabit opportunity zones" in areas where average household income is below 75 percent of the national median. In these areas, state and local lawmakers would have to "adopt streamlined, broadband deployment-friendly policies," and there would be tax incentives and tax credits for companies building high-speed networks.

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UK 'Pirates' Get 20-Day Grace Period After Each Warning
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 01:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's life-after-restriction department:
UK Internet providers will soon begin sending piracy warnings to subscribers whose accounts are used to share copyright-infringing material. The associated "Get It Right" campaign has now published a detailed website, answering the most asked questions, while adding some new information as well. From a report: "After an Educational Email has been sent, there is a 20 day grace period during which time you will not receive any further emails. However, if further copyright infringement activity occurs and is detected after the 20 day grace period, you may receive another email from your ISP," the FAQ reads. Almost three weeks is significantly longer than the 7-days the U.S. equivalent has. Also good to know is that if no other piracy incidents are recorded in the future, all data is scrapped from the database after 12 months.

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Apple Expands Qualcomm Legal Spat To China
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 01:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's no-mercy department:
Apple's legal battle with Qualcomm has gone international. From a report: The iPhone maker on Wednesday filed two lawsuits against Qualcomm in China, according to Reuters, which cited a press release from Beijing's Intellectual Property Court. The first alleges that Qualcomm "abused its clout in the chip industry," a violation of China's anti-monopoly law. Apple seeks 1 billion yuan ($145.32 million) in damages, Reuters said. The second accuses Qualcomm of not making its cellular standard essential patents available broadly and cheaply. It asks the court to determine the terms of a patent license between Qualcomm and Apple.

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More Than 8M People Own an Amazon Echo As Customer Awareness Increases 'Dramatically'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's gaining-traction department:
Amazon continues to see more and more traction with its voice-enabled speaker. An anonymous reader writes: A new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) estimates that there are now 8.2 million customers who own an Amazon Echo device, which first went on sale in late 2014 to Prime members and became generally available in June 2015. That's up 60 percent from the 5.1 million Echo users that CIRP cited in November 2016; the big increase likely resulted from a busy holiday season that saw Echo sales spike 9X from the year prior, according to Amazon. The 8.2 million number is also up nearly 3X from this time last year, CIRP said.

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Mark Zuckerberg 'Reconsidering' Lawsuits To Force Property Sales in Hawaii
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's change-of-heart department:
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is "reconsidering" a set of lawsuits that he recently filed to compel hundreds of Hawaiians to sell him small plots of land they own that lie within the boundaries of 700-acre beachfront property on the island of Kauai. From a report on CNBC: The billionaire's potential about-face came after widespread publicity last week about the suits, which target a dozen plots comprising slightly more than eight acres of land strewn throughout the acreage that Zuckerberg bought for $100 million two years ago. Currently, owners of the lots, which have been in their families for generations, have the rights to travel across Zuckerberg's property. But many of the owners likely are unaware of their ownership interest in the plots. Last week, Zuckerberg said, "For most of these folks, they will now receive money for something they never even knew they had. No one will be forced off the land."

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Mac Sales Declined Nearly 10 Percent Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-things-are-shaping department:
It's not surprising that Mac sales dropped for Apple in 2016 as they experienced their first year over year sales decline since 2001. What is interesting, however, is that as Mac sales dropped roughly 10% and personal computers overall dropped 5.7% for the year, the top four leaders in the market all saw growth as Apple was pushed to number five. From a report: Although Mac sales were up in Q4 2016 compared to Q4 2015, an analyst note today from Bloomberg's Anand Srinivasan and Wei Mok has revealed Apple has dropped to the fifth largest PC vendor, with ASUS overtaking fourth place. The top four vendors are now Lenovo, HP, Dell, and ASUS. The report adds, "Those four companies represent 65.2% of the overall market and each grew year -- over-year, while Apple ceded ground, declining 30 bps to 7.1%. The other 27.7% of the market is comprised of more than 200 vendors. In a market expected to consolidate, Samsung and Fujitsu are reported to be in discussions to sell their PC businesses to Lenovo."

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Apple Seemingly Censors UltraFine 5K Monitor Reviews After Poor Feedback
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's my-way-or-high-way department:
It appears Apple is filtering and censoring bad reviews of the LG's UltraFine 5K display. From a report on The Next Web: The deletion was first spotted by a Reddit user four days ago. Though it's possible the reviews were removed for some other reason, at first glance, it looks like censorship. It's not a good look for the company. Apple said it was getting out of the monitor business, and instead chose to work more closely with third-party partners, heavily featuring LG's 5K and 4K UltraFine displays at its recent MacBook Pro unveiling. But then the monitor received multiple negative reviews from users who were experiencing issues such as the screen failing to wake up from sleep. The Reddit post also points out that: "In many cases, attempts to fix the problem through physical reconnection[sic] of the monitor, or manual restarts, have caused the attached Mac to crash, become otherwise unresponsive, or develop problems with the touch bar (where equipped)."

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Chrome To Introduce Timer To Throttle Background Pages
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 09:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Google plans to roll out a change in Chrome Stable soon that will have the browser throttle timers in background tabs to improve battery life and browsing performance. From a report: The motivation behind the chance is that some pages consume a lot of CPU when they are in the background. Google mentions JavaScript advertisements and analytics scripts explicitly but it is not limited to that. The core idea is to limit the processing power that background tabs get in Chrome once the feature lands. (1) Each WebView has a budget (in seconds) for running timers in background. (2) A timer task is only allowed to run when the budget is non-negative. (3) After a timer has executed, its run time is subtracted from the budget. (4) The budget regenerates with time (at rate of 0.01 seconds per second). (5) The only pages that appear to be exempt from the throttling are those that play audio.

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Elon Musk Says He'll Start Digging a Tunnel From SpaceX HQ Next Month
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 09:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's boring-company department:
It appears Elon Musk is really serious about digging a tunnel to fix the traffic jams on roads. Last month, the SpaceX CEO sent out a string of tweets complaining about traffic. He suggested that a possible solution might be to start a tunnel-digging firm called -- wait for it -- The Boring Company, following it up by saying "I am actually going to do this," and updating his bio to read: "Tesla, SpaceX, Tunnels & OpenAI." This morning, he repeated the claim, and even assured a questioner that he was, in fact, serious. From a report on TechCrunch: Musk's tunnel plans, then, seem possibly aimed at reducing his travel time between SpaceX and LAX, at least initially. LAX is an airport he likely frequents with dizzying regularity, given his commitments at SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity. [...] It's hard to gauge Musk's seriousness on Twitter, given his ability to come with fairly dry and playful responses. But he has insisted the tunnel plans were serious previously, and so far, nothing to indicate he's just joking has emerged. Here, too, he responded to a query from a fan wondering if he was serious with a simple "Yup," and he does include "Tunnels" as a list item of his concerns in his Twitter biography.

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Viruses, Spyware Found in 'Alarming' Number of Android VPN Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 08:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department:
When the Federal Court blocked access to file-sharing websites like The Pirate Bay last December, VPN (Virtual Private Network) providers reported a surge in subscription rates. Australian company Vanished VPN said its subscription rates had doubled in the past six months and VPN Unlimited said it had seen a 12.5 percent monthly jump since the court's decision. People were using VPN services to access the blocked sites because they masked their location -- allowing users to get around any website blocks or restrictions. But if you're one of those people, you might want to take a closer look at the service you're using -- especially if you've got an Android device. From a report: A team from CSIRO's Data 61, University of NSW and UC Berkley in the US found a whole bunch of Android VPN apps contain viruses, spyware and other adware. Researchers analyzed the apps available for Android to look for nasties like trojans, spyware and adware -- giving each an "anti-virus rank (AV)" based on what they found. The lower the rank, the better. They found of the 283 apps they analyzed, 38 percent contained malware or malvertising (malicious advertising containing viruses).

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Apple is Bringing Night Shift Mode To Its Desktop OS
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '17 at 08:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's upcoming-features department:
Apple is bringing Night Shift, a feature aimed at changing the tone of the display to better suit the eyes at different time of the day, to its desktop operating system. From a report: macOS Sierra 10.12.4, seeded to developers this morning, introduces a major new feature: Night Shift for the Mac. Night Shift can be toggled on and off using the new Night Shift switch located in the Today section of the Notification Center.

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