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Wikipedia Edits Have Massive Impact on Tourism, Say Economists

Forget glossy travel brochures and whizzy online sites; one of the most cost-effective ways tourism chiefs can drive business to their towns or cities is by updating their Wikipedia page. From a report: An experiment by economists at the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin, Italy, and ZEW in Mannheim, Germany, found that a few simple edits to a Wikipedia page could lead to an extra $130,000 a year in tourism revenue for a small city, underscoring the power of the free online encyclopaedia. The researchers randomly selected cities across Spain to receive targeted improvements to their Wikipedia pages, adding a few paragraphs of information on their history and local attractions, as well as high-quality photos of the local area. It didn't take an expert, either. Most of the content added was simply translated over from the Spanish Wikipedia into either French, German, Italian or Dutch. Doing so had an immediate and remarkable effect: adding just two paragraphs of text and a single photo to the article increased the number of nights spent in the city by about 9% during the tourist season. In some instances, the increase was even larger. For cities with barely anything on their Wikipedia pages, a minor edit could raise visits by a third.

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Computing Pioneers Endorse Biden, Citing Trump Immigration Crackdown

Two dozen award-winning computer scientists, in a rebuke of President Trump's immigration policies, said on Friday that they were endorsing Joseph R. Biden Jr. in November's presidential election. From a report: The scientists, including John Hennessy, the executive chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet, are all winners of the Turing Award, which is often called the Nobel Prize of computing. In a group interview, four of the scientists said the Trump administration's restrictive immigration rules were a threat to computer research in the United States and could do long-term damage to the tech industry, which for decades has been one of the country's economic engines. "The most brilliant people in the world want to come here and be grad students, but now they are being discouraged from coming here, and many are going elsewhere," said one of the scientists who organized the endorsement, David Patterson, a Google distinguished engineer and former professor at the University of California, Berkeley. The Turing winners are the latest members of the scientific community to find their political voice as the election nears. The research journal Scientific American also endorsed Mr. Biden this week, citing, among other criticisms, Mr. Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic and his skepticism of climate change. It was the first time in its 175 years that the publication endorsed a presidential candidate. The Turing winners' endorsement -- also a first for them -- was made against the backdrop of the Trump administration's increasingly antagonistic relationship with the tech industry. Several federal agencies are investigating the business practices of tech's biggest companies, and the Justice Department could bring an antitrust case against Google as soon as this month.

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NBC Threatens To Black Out Apps on Roku in Dispute Over Peacock

NBCUniversal plans to black out more than 11 channels on Roku's streaming platform Saturday morning, escalating a standoff with the company over its refusal to carry a new video app, Peacock. From a report: NBC's Peacock and AT&T's HBO Max have been unable to secure spots on Roku and Amazon.com's Fire TV since launching their streaming services earlier this year. Roku is demanding, among other things, a cut of the advertising inventory on those apps to sell on its own. Comcast's NBC and WarnerMedia, the AT&T division that runs HBO Max, are rejecting that push because they want to make money from ads on their streaming services. In a statement Friday, NBC said Roku's "unreasonable demands ultimately hurt both their consumers and their consumer equipment partners to whom they've promised access to all apps in the marketplace." Roku used similar wording in a statement. "Comcast is removingāthe channels in order to try to force Roku to distribute its new Peacock service on unreasonable terms,," a spokesperson said.

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AT&T Considers Cellphone Plans Subsidized by Ads

AT&T is considering offering wireless phone plans partially subsidized by advertising as soon as a year from now, Chief Executive John Stankey said in an interview on Tuesday. From a report: The consideration, which has not been previously disclosed, underscores AT&T's commitment to the advertising business as the U.S. phone carrier reviews its portfolio to identify assets to sell in order to reduce its debt load. AT&T is considering selling its advertising-technology unit Xandr, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters. "I believe there's a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill," Stankey said. Various companies including Amazon.com, Virgin Mobile USA and Sprint's Boost Mobile have tested advertising supported phone services since the early 2000s but they have not caught on. AT&T is hoping that better advertising targeting could revive the idea.

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Bill To Tear Down Federal Courts' Paywall Gains Momentum in Congress

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the Open Courts Act -- legislation to overhaul PACER, the federal courts' system for accessing public documents. The proposal would guarantee free public access to judicial documents, ending the current practice of charging 10 cents per page for many documents -- as well as search results. From a report: The bill must still be passed by the full House and the Senate and signed by the president. With Election Day just seven weeks away, the act is unlikely to become law during this session of Congress. Still, the vote is significant because it indicates the breadth of congressional support for tearing down the PACER paywall. The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), whose bill we covered in 2018, and a fellow Georgian, Democrat Hank Johnson. Prior to Tuesday's vote of the House Judiciary Committee, the bill received a strong endorsement from Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). "It is indefensible that the public must pay fees, and unjustifiably high fees at that, to know what is happening in their own courts," Nadler said.

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Trump To Ban US TikTok and WeChat App Store Downloads on September 20

The US Commerce Department has issued a new order to block people in the US from downloading the popular video-sharing app TikTok as of September 20th, Reuters first reported Friday. From a report: The full order was published by the Department of Commerce on Friday morning. "Any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd," the order reads, "shall be prohibited to the extent permitted under applicable law." It is set to take effect on September 20th. Over the last few weeks, TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, has been engaged in talks with US companies like Microsoft and Oracle to create a new company, TikTok Global, that would meet the Trump administration's concerns over user data security.

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Facebook Issues New Rules On Internal Employee Communication

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday outlined to employees a new set of principles to guide debates and conversations within Workplace, the company's internal social network. Zuckerberg outlined the changes to address "a lot of very tense conversations happening out in the world," according to company spokesman Joe Osborne. The new principles follow a set of similar changes at Google, which is increasing the moderation of its internal message boards, CNBC reported earlier this week. "We deeply value expression and open discussion. What we've heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed," Osborne said in a statement. "We're updating our employee policies and work tools to ensure our culture remains respectful and inclusive." Under the new set of principles, Zuckerberg said, Facebook will ensure all employees feel supported at work, especially the company's Black community, by strengthening the company's harassment policy with more protections for underrepresented employees. The company will also be more specific about which parts of Workplace can be used to discuss social and political issues. This change will be so that employees do not have to confront social issues during their day-to-day work. Facebook's new principles also ask that employees communicate with professionalism and continue to debate about the company's work but do so in a respectful manner.

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Sony Makes It Official: PlayStation 5 Won't Natively Support PS1, PS2, PS3

In a Wednesday interview, Sony Interactive Entertainment chief Jim Ryan confirmed that the upcoming PlayStation 5 console won't natively support PS1, PS2, or PS3 games. Ars Technica reports: Ryan explained that "PS5-specific engineering" meant the design team was mostly focused on "the simultaneous use of high-speed SSDs and the new DualSense controller." This prevented Sony from delivering compatibility with older consoles, Ryan told Famitsu, even though he made clear that Sony wanted to support PlayStation 4's "100 million players" by developing compatibility with "99%" of PS4 games, since "we thought that they would like to play PS4 titles on the PS5, as well." This announcement doesn't clarify whether PS1 games purchased for use on PS4 will transfer to PS5. It also doesn't mention the existing ability for players to stream older-generation games to PS4 from the PlayStation Now cloud-subscription service or whether we should expect that functionality to seamlessly transfer to PS5 in November. [...] Wednesday's dump of PlayStation 5 news did not go into further detail about additional boosts to PS4 games as played on the upcoming console. Instead, we learned that some major PlayStation 5 games, particularly Horizon: Forbidden West and Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, will launch simultaneously on PS5 and PS4. This appears to run somewhat counter to Sony's recent comments about maintaining "generations" instead of supporting an Xbox-style "forward-compatible" plan for its biggest games.

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Hubble Captures Crisp New Image of Jupiter and Europa

A unique and exciting detail of Hubble's new snapshot appears at mid-northern latitudes as a bright, white, stretched-out storm moving at 560 kilometres per hour. This single plume erupted on 18 August 2020 and another has since appeared. From a report: While it's common for storms to pop up in this region, often several at once, this particular disturbance appears to have more structure behind it than observed in previous storms. Trailing behind the plume are small, counterclockwise dark clumps also not witnessed in the past. Researchers speculate this may be the beginning of a longer-lasting northern hemisphere spot, perhaps to rival the legendary Great Red Spot that dominates the southern hemisphere. Hubble shows that the Great Red Spot, rolling counterclockwise in the planet's southern hemisphere, is ploughing into the clouds ahead of it, forming a cascade of white and beige ribbons. The Great Red Spot is currently an exceptionally rich red colour, with its core and outermost band appearing deeper red. Researchers say the Great Red Spot now measures about 15 800 kilometres across, big enough to swallow the Earth. The super-storm is still shrinking, as noted in telescopic observations dating back to 1930, but its rate of shrinkage appears to have slowed. The reason for its dwindling size is a complete mystery.

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Encrochat Investigation Finds Corrupt Cops Leaking Information To Criminals

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: After searching through some of the tens of millions of encrypted messages pulled from Encrochat devices, Dutch police have launched a new investigation team that will look specifically into corruption, the police force announced on Wednesday. In some cases authorities are looking to identify police who leaked information to organized criminals. The news broadens the scope of the Encrochat investigations, which have focused heavily on drug trafficking and organized crime more generally. Earlier this year, French authorities hacked into Encrochat phones en masse to retrieve message content, and then shared those communications with various other law enforcement agencies. "Criminal investigations into possible corruption are currently underway and there are likely to be more in the near future. In addition to investigations into drug trafficking and money laundering, investigations into corruption are also given top priority," Chief of Police Henk van Essen said in a Politie press release. Encrochat was an encrypted phone company that took base Android units, made physical alterations to them, and added its own software. Encrochat devices sent messages with end-to-end encryption, meaning only the intended recipient was supposed to be able to read them. The phones also had a remote wipe feature, letting users destroy communications if they lost physical control of the device, as well as a dual-boot system that let users open an innocuous looking operating system, or the second one containing their more sensitive information. The phones were particularly popular with criminals, including drug traffickers and hitmen. There are indications Encrochat may have had legitimate users too, however. Other Encrochat customers are allegedly those involved in corruption, including police themselves, the press release suggests.

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Facebook Will Stop Recommending Health Groups

The Verge reports on the new rules Facebook is adding to slow the spread of misinformation and other harmful content on its Groups feature. From the report: Some of the new policies encourage more active administration of groups. If administrators step down, they can invite members to take their place; if nobody does, Facebook will apparently "suggest" admin roles to members, then archive the group if that fails. Also, if group members accrue a community standards violation, moderators will have to approve all their posts for 30 days. If the moderators repeatedly approve posts that violate Facebook's guidelines, the group could be removed. The health guidelines take a broader approach by focusing on an entire category of content, not specific rule-breaking behavior. Facebook says that although groups can "be a positive space for giving and receiving support during difficult life circumstances ... it's crucial that people get their health information from authoritative sources." Facebook also says it's continuing to limit content from militia groups and other organizations linked to violence. Groups that discuss potential violence will be removed, and it will soon down-rank even non-violating content in the News Feed.

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Nintendo 3DS Discontinued After Almost a Decade

Nintendo has discontinued its 3DS handheld after about 76 million sales over a nine-and-a-half year period. The BBC reports: A notice on the Japanese firm's site says "manufacturing of the Nintendo 3DS family of systems has ended." The device had the ability to trick the human eye into seeing 3D images like those in some cinema screenings -- but without special glasses. However, its launch received a lukewarm reception and it only gained popularity later. The console's demise has long been expected. Last year, the company said it no longer planned to make any new first-party games for the system. It means the original Nintendo DS retains the title of being the bestselling mobile console. And the Nintendo Switch -- a hybrid handheld-and-home machine -- is the current focus of Nintendo's efforts.

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US Charges Chinese and Malaysian Hackers In Global Hacking Campaign

schwit1 shares a report from NewsNation Now: The Justice Department has charged five Chinese citizens with hacks targeting more than 100 companies and institutions in the United States and elsewhere, including social media and video game companies as well as universities and telecommunications providers, officials said Wednesday. The five defendants remain fugitives, but prosecutors say two Malaysian businessmen accused of conspiring with the alleged hackers to profit off the attacks on video game companies were arrested in that country this week and face extradition proceedings. The indictments announced Wednesday are part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to call out cybercrimes by China.

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DuckDuckGo Is Growing Fast

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine, announced that August 2020 ended in over 2 billion total searches via its search platform. While Google remains the most popular search engine, DuckDuckGo has gained a great deal of traction in recent months as more and more users have begun to value their privacy on the internet. DuckDuckGo saw over 2 billion searches and 4 million app/extension installations, and the company also said that they have over 65 million active users. DuckDuckGo could shatter its old traffic record if the same growth trend continues. Even though DuckDuckGo is growing rapidly, it still controls less than 2 percent of all search volume in the United States. However, DuckDuckGo's growth trend has continued throughout the year, mainly due to Google and other companies' privacy scandal.

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Why Passenger Jets Could Soon Be Flying In Formation

New submitter ragnar_ianal writes: Looking at the V-shaped formations of migrating ducks, scientists have long surmised that there are aeronautical efficiencies at play. Airbus is examining this in a practical manner to see if fuel efficiency can be enhanced. "Building on test flights in 2016 with an Airbus A380 megajet and A350-900 wide-body jetliner, [the Airbus fello'fly] hopes to demonstrate and quantify the aerodynamic efficiencies while developing in-flight operational procedures," reports CNN. "Initial flight testing with two A350s began in March 2020. The program will be expanded next year to include the involvement of Frenchbee and SAS airlines, along with air traffic control and air navigation service providers from France, the UK, and Europe." "It's very, very different from what the military would call formation flight. It's really nothing to do with close formation," explained Dr. Sandra Bour Schaeffer, CEO of Airbus UpNext, in an interview with CNN Travel.

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