Facebook moving non-promoted posts out of news feed in trial

New system could destroy smaller publishers if implemented, after journalists report drop in organic reach but users will still see their friends posts

Facebook is testing a major change that would shift non-promoted posts out of its news feed, a move that could be catastrophic for publishers relying on the social network for their audience.

A new system being trialled in six countries including Slovakia, Serbia and Sri Lanka sees almost all non-promoted posts shifted over to a secondary feed, leaving the main feed focused entirely on original content from friends, and adverts.

The change has seen users engagement with Facebook pages drop precipitously, with publications reporting a 60% to 80% fall. If replicated more broadly, such a change would destroy many smaller publishers, as well as larger ones with an outsized reliance on social media referrals for visitors.

According to Filip Struhrik, a journalist at Slovakian newspaper Dennik N, the change resulted in a drop in interactions across the countrys media landscape. Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach, Struhrik said. The reach of several Facebook pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days.

Overnight, from Wednesday to Thursday, a broad cross-section of the 60 largest Facebook pages in Slovakia saw two-thirds to three-quarters of their Facebook reach disappear, according to stats from Facebook-owned analytics service CrowdTangle. For larger sites, with a number of different ways to communicate with their readers, that hasnt had a huge effect on their bottom line, but its a different story for those with a reliance on social media.

The change does not affect paid promotions, which appear on the news feed as normal. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Smaller sites are reporting a loss of traffic and Facebook engagement, Struhrik told the Guardian. Its hard to say now how big it will be. Problems have also hit Buzzfeed-like sites, which were more dependent on social traffic.

Struhrik noted that the trial has only been in place since Thursday, rendering it too soon to draw strict conclusions. But if reach is radically smaller, interactions decreased and your site doesnt have diversity of traffic sources, it will hurt you.

In a statement, Facebook said: With all of the possible stories in each persons feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages.

Notably, the change does not seem to affect paid promotions: those still appear on the news feed as normal, as do posts from people who have been followed or friended on the site. But the change does affect so called native content, such as Facebook videos, if those are posted by a page and not shared through paid promotion.

Matti Littunen, a senior research analyst at Enders Analysis, said the move was the classic Facebook playbook: first give lots of organic reach to one content type, then they have to pay for reach, then they can only get through to anyone by paying.

Littunen said that many premium publishers had already cottoned on to the trend, and backed off relying too strongly on social media. But new media companies, who rely on social media to bring in traffic and revenue, would be wounded, perhaps fatally, by the switch. The biggest hits will be to the likes of Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Business Insider, who create commoditised content aiming for the biggest reach.

Elsewhere, publishers who dived towards video content as Facebook began promoting that may also get burned, Littunen says. The kind of video that is doing best has been quite commoditised low-value stuff that is often lifted from elsewhere and repackaged for Facebook.

We dont see that bonanza going on forever, and since the content isnt what Facebook has been hoping for, its expendable. Were expecting to see another repeat of this playbook, with organic reach being replaced by paid reach.

For Struhrik, there is one last catch: he doesnt expect the test to be a huge success. Newsfeed without news. Just friends and sponsored content. People will find out how boring their friends are, he said.

In a second statement issued after this article was published, Facebook added: We have no current plans to roll this out globally.

This article was amended on 23 October 2017 with additional comment from Facebook. An editing error was also corrected on 24 October: the change in users engagement with Facebook pages did not drop from 60% to 80% publications reported a 60% to 80% fall in engagement.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/23/facebook-non-promoted-posts-news-feed-new-trial-publishers

Mysterious object from deep space has entered the solar system

It was first seen just a month ago.

A tiny blip of light was seen to be moving through the sky by the PanSTARRS1 telescope in Hawaii.

The number-crunching which followed was automatic.

The results were unusual.

This object is in an odd position. It’s moving very fast.

And it’s in what appears to be a somewhat extreme orbit.

Extreme enough not to actually be an orbit, in fact.

Observations published by the by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center (MPC) suggest it could have come from deep space.

Specifically, it could be a comet that has escaped another star.

“If further observations confirm the unusual nature of this orbit, this object may be the first clear case of an interstellar comet,” the MPC declares.

WHAT IS C/2017 U1?

The PanSTARRS telescope spotted the object only after it was flung back out towards the stars by our Sun.

It’s not likely to ever return.

It flashed past Earth at 24 million kilometres on October 14.

Many eyes watched it closely, keen to determine exactly what it was.

Their curiosity was piqued by where it had come from.

Most objects orbiting our Sun do so along a common plane: the planets, dwarf planets and asteroids mostly swing around in roughly the same way.

This one appears to have come down on the plane from 122 degrees, from the direction of the star Vega, in the constellation Lyra. And its path did not indicate the curved ellipse typical of clockwork-like returning comets.

Best guesstimates make it a comet of about 160m diameter, with a surface reflectivity (albedo) of about 10 per cent.


The object has just been through a close call (in Solar System terms): it came within 38 million km of our star before its momentum and the Sun’s gravity hurled it back outward.

Normally such a close pass would be fatal. But C/2017U1 was travelling too fast for the Sun’s heat to consume it.

It was moving at 26km per second when first observed.

Astronomers are now attempting to refine their observations and data to pinpoint exactly where it came from. If it truly is of interstellar origin, the next task is to find which star it is likely to have come from.

At the moment, it appears to have been somewhere in the direction of the star Vega.

It’s also likely to have been wandering, alone, in deep space for a very, very long time.

Vega is a relatively close neighbour of our Sun at 25 light years distance. At the speed it’s travelling, it would take about 1.7 million years to cross the interstellar divide.

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2017/10/27/mysterious-object-from-deep-space-has-entered-solar-system.html

NASA Breaks Record With Ion Thruster That Could Take Humans To Mars

Scientists have announced a breakthrough with an ion thruster that could one day take humans to Mars.

It’s called the X3 thruster, a type of ion propulsion known as a Hall thruster. This technology is alluring because it can theoretically achieve higher speeds than conventional chemical propulsion.

In a series of tests at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, researchers said they had now achieved a record power output for a Hall thruster, opening up new avenues of research.

“We have shown that X3 can operate at over 100 kW of power,” Alec Gallimore, the project’s lead and the dean of engineering at the University of Michigan, told Space.com. “It generated 5.4 Newtons of thrust, which is the highest level of thrust achieved by any plasma thruster to date.” (The previous record was 3.3 Newtons.)

Ion thrusters are alluring because they promise high thrust with little fuel input. With little propellant needed, they can theoretically operate for much longer than conventional thrusters, achieving much higher speeds.

We’ve tested out quite a few, too. The longest-running is on NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which is currently in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres and launched in 2007. However, that has a thrust of just 90 microNewtons (0.00009 Newtons). Hall thrusters offer a much higher thrust.

Artist’s impression of Dawn. NASA/JPL-Caltech

They involve accelerating plasma at extremely high speeds. Electrons are used to bump into atoms, normally of xenon gas. This knocks off more electrons, producing positive ions and thrust. Slowly, over time, this continually increases the speed of a spacecraft.

In theory, a Hall thruster could get a spacecraft up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) per second, eight times faster than a chemical propulsion spacecraft with a top speed of 5 kilometers (3 miles) per second.

Thus, they are hugely promising for spaceflight. If used on manned missions to Mars, for example, the spacecraft could require less propellant and thus more easily be launched into orbit. However, Gallimore noted such an engine would need a lot of power, which is why the X3 thruster is so promising.

By using a bigger thruster, the team said they use multiple channels of plasma rather than just a single channel – called a nested channel. This could allow for these high speeds to be achieved.

This is not the only ion thruster research being conducted. NASA has several other projects on the go, to try and improve methods of spaceflight. Maybe the first humans that go to Mars will have a revolutionary ion thruster to thank.

(H/T: Space.com)

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/nasa-breaks-record-with-ion-thruster-that-could-take-humans-to-mars/

Prehistoric Hell Ant Has A Metal Horn Used To Attack Prey

Nature has a new contender for the most badass creature: a new species of prehistoric “hell ant” with a metal-infused horn used to puncture and suck the blood of its enemies.

Scientists have recently described this new species (Linguamyrmex vlad) in the journal Systematic Entomology. The “vlad” part of the ant’s name is a nod to the 15th-century prince Vlad III, better known as Vlad Dracula, due to its gory dietary habits.

The genus roamed Earth during the Late Cretaceous around 98.8 million years ago. It measures just a few millimeters long and was most likely a worker ant. Just like most ant species from the Cretaceous, these hell ants belong to an early species that are distinct from the modern lineage of ants.

This ferocious little specimen was found embedded in amber at a mine in Myanmar’s Hukawng Valley, a place famous for its amber deposits. Researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology and the American Museum of Natural History used X-rays, light microscopy, CT scans, and other imaging techniques to inspect the hell ant’s impressive head weaponry.

Its paddle-shaped horn was likely reinforced with metal particles – yes, metal. This, the researchers say, would have helped it cope with the stress and strain it sustained when being used to “pin and potentially puncture soft-bodied prey.”

A lateral view of the holotype of the newly described species Linguamyrmex vladi, trapped in amber from Myanmar. Also visible are the scythe-like mandibles and head paddle. The specimen is housed at the American Museum of Natural History. Credit: P. Barden, H.W. Herhold, D.A. Grimaldi

Although not seen quite like this, other insects are known to sequester metals to reinforce body parts, namely using calcium, manganese, zinc, and iron. It’s most likely “Vlad the hell ant” used these basic metals too. The horn is also lined with trigger hairs, similar to the ones used by trap-jaw ants to shut their jaws closed at lightning speed. However, these ants were very different to the modern-day ants you see in your garden.

The hell ant also had tube-like channels between its jaws, most likely because it was used to suck liquids like hemolymph, a fluid equivalent to blood in most insects. The remains of this ant were found near to a large beetle larva, also trapped in amber, which the researchers believe could have been its dinner (until it was so rudely interrupted).

Vlad the hell ant now lives on in the American Museum of Natural History. The species joins six other species of ancient haidomyrmecine hell ant, four of which were discovered in Myanmar, and the other two being from current-day France and Canada.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/prehistoric-hell-ant-has-a-metal-horn-used-to-attack-prey/

Everyones Making The Same Arya Stark Joke About The iPhone X & Its Hilarious

may be on a long hiatus, but clearly the humor from Westeros is stronger than ever. Fans of HBO’s fantasy epic were all making the same joke while watching Tuesday afternoon’s Apple event announcing the features of its upcoming iPhone X, and Twitter couldn’t get enough of it. After Apple revealed its new Face ID feature, social media exploded in iPhone X Arya Stark jokes about everyone’s favorite face-swapping assassin. Because one person who will definitely be able to hack into any iPhone she wants to with a facial recognition feature is Arya Stark.

Let’s give you guys a bit of background before we get to the  element of it all. Apple revealed that instead of the thumbprint ID system that iPhones use now to easily let user log in, it’s new release will go one step further and actually recognize its owners face, and unlock once it does. So basically, you can just look at the new iPhone X and it will open for you. But as  fans well know, getting someone else’s face isn’t as hard as you may think in Westeros. Last season, Arya Stark trained under Jaqen H’ghar in the House of Black and White to learn how to wear the faces of the men she has killed. The Apple event invited the comparison to Arya’s new skill even more by projecting a background on which masks of human faces hung on a wall, very similar to the wall of faces  showed in the House of Black and White.

Take a look at some of the funniest iPhone X/Arya Stark tweets below:

If only iPhones existed in Westeros — Arya would easily be not only the fiercest assassin in the land, but also the most skilled hacker!

Thankfully, iPhone X owners won’t have to worry about any face-changing assassins hacking into their phones. Although the new Face ID system was met with expected skepticism online, the Apple developers are encouraging users that the facial recognition technology will be incredibly difficult to fool. In fact, Apple’s senior vide president Phil Schiller said the new Face ID system is harder to fool than the current Touch ID system. Apparently, the chances of someone fooling the Face ID in order to access an iPhone X that is not theirs is one in a million, which makes it twenty times as difficult to hack as the Touch ID’s one in fifty thousand chances.

The new smartphones will employ a newly branded TrueDepth camera that can even detect its owner’s face in the dark. That’s right — you don’t have to worry about turning on your lights if you want to quickly open your iPhone X while you’re lying in bed and can’t sleep. And apparently, the new feature is also smart enough to recognize your face even if your look happens to change. You can grow a beard, get a scar, put on a pair of glasses and a hat, and according to Apple’s dev team, your phone’s Face ID will still have no problem recognizing that it’s the same old you with a new look. It can also differentiate pictures of faces from real faces, so no — some rando can’t just hold up a picture of you in front of you iPhone X to gain access to it.

It sounds like Apple really has thought of everything with this new Face ID thing, but of course, skeptical techies aren’t going to believe it until they put their face in front of an iPhone X themselves when the new smartphone comes out on Nov. 3. And of course, they’re definitely not Arya-proof.

Read more: http://elitedaily.com/entertainment/arya-stark-joke-iphone/2068391/

These Look Like 5 Of The Scariest Ghost Sightings, But Do You Believe What You See?

All you need is a quick Google search to turn up countless photos, videos, and audio clips of what some believe is proof of the paranormal.

But considering everything that modern technology allows us to manipulate and alter, it’s hard to tell whether these supposed ghostly figures are real or just the results of good editing. With that in mind, I invite you to check out security footage of 5 alleged ghost sightings and decide for yourself whether you think they’re genuine encounters with something otherworldly.

Those attacks look absolutely terrifying.

What do you think about all of these? Do any of them strike you as authentic, or are they fake? Be sure to let us know below!

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/scariest-ghost-sightings/

North Korea launches missile over Japan

(CNN)In a major show of defiance to the international community, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido Friday.

The launch is the second to fly over Japan in less than a month, and the first since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test and new United Nations sanctions on the country.
North Korean state media has yet to reference the launch, but a commentary published in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper Friday said “no matter how strong the pressure is, it doesn’t work on us.”
    Tokyo and Washington will be seeking to up that pressure at the United Nations Friday, with the two governments calling a snap meeting of the Security Council for Friday afternoon, ahead of the General Assembly next week.

      Sirens sound in Japan after second missile threat

    Speaking after the launch, the first since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the launch was “totally unacceptable” and went against “the international community’s strong, united will for a peaceful solution.”
    Friday’s missile test follows the release of a statement Wednesday, in which the North Korean state news agency KCNA threatened the “four islands of the (Japanese) archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” referring to the ruling ideology of North Korea.
    The launch also seemed to be intended to send a message to the US, flying a distance equivalent to that from North Korea to Guam, the US territory that has come under threat from Pyongyang in recent weeks.

    Furthest intermediate range missile test

    North Korea’s latest missile was fired from the district of Sunan in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, home to the country’s main airport, the South Korean military said.
    Initial US assessments suggested North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile, similar to that fired over Japan last month.
    The missile flew about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached an altitude of 770 kilometers (480 miles) before landing in the Pacific Ocean. Guam is 3,380 kilometers (2,100 miles) from North Korea.
    Friday’s missile flew the furthest of any North Korean intermediate-range missiles, though previous launches have used lofted trajectories, where missiles fly much higher over a shorter distance. By comparison, an intercontinental ballistic missile launched in July flew 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) high and traveled a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).
    In response to North Korea’s launch, South Korea carried out a “live fire drill” that included a missile launch which the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said was capable of striking the Sunan airport launch site near Pyongyang used for today’s launch.

    CNN takes you to parts of North Korea rarely seen. Watch the documentary on CNN and CNN International:

    • 10 p.m. ET, Friday September 15
    • 11 a.m. JST. Saturday, September 16
    • 12 p.m. AEST Saturday, September 16
    The South Korean missile, which was launched from the country’s east coast while the North Korean missile was still in the air, was “a show of force in response to North Korea’s latest provocation,” a South Korean official told CNN.
    A second missile that was fired at the same time failed and “sank into the sea off the east coast,” an official said.
    Park Soo-hyun, spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said the country’s military had been ordered “to prepare a stern measure that can effectively counter North Korea’s increasing nuclear and military threats.”
    “North Korea’s firing of yet another ballistic missile is a clear violation of (UN Security Council) resolutions and a very serious and grave challenge to international peace and security,” the South Korean government said in a statement.
    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the launch was “another reckless breach of UN resolutions” and a “major threat” to international peace and security “which demands a global response.”
    In regularly scheduled press conference Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reemphasized Beijing’s “resolution” on pushing for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
    “China has strictly and comprehensively implemented the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Hua said, adding the country has “paid a great price and made sacrifices.”

      The weapon that makes N. Korea more dangerous

    Japan on high alert

    Friday’s missile test set off sirens as a government warning, known as the J-Alert, went out to citizens across a broad swath of northern Japan.
    “The government is advising people to stay away from anything that could be missile debris,” NHK reported.
    In a statement, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the missile test was the second time the people of Japan “have been directly threatened in recent weeks.”
    “The international community needs to unite and send clear message after North Korea’s dangerous provocation,” Abe told reporters. “We must let North Korea understand there is no bright future for North Korea if it continues in this way.”
    He said the Japanese government tracked the launch of the missile and “took all possible measures.”
    Japan and the US have requested the UN Security Council hold “urgent consultations” at 3 p.m. ET Friday, according to the Ethiopian Mission to the UN. Ethiopian Ambassador Tekeda Alemu is the current UN Security Council president.

    Need for more pressure

    The launch came just hours after North Korea responded to the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous approval of additional sanctions by threatening to “sink” Japan and reduce the US mainland into “ash and darkness.”
    Those sanctions were prompted by North Korea’s sixth nuclear test that occurred on September 3, which Pyongyang said was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb.
    That explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.

    The nuclear test prompted discussions inside South Korea about the the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons in the country, an idea that the majority of the country’s citizens approve of, according to recent polls.
    But on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in dismissed the possibility, warning it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.”
    Both Abe and Tillerson called for an intensifying of pressure on North Korea, including the full implementation of the new UN sanctions.
    “These continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation,” Tillerson said.
    “United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take. We call on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime.”
    He singled out Chinese oil supplies and Russia’s use of North Korean migrant workers as two areas in which the two countries could take “direct action” against North Korea.
    Speaking Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua said it was “irresponsible and unhelpful to blame others,” adding those parties directly involved in the dispute “should shoulder the responsibility” for it.

      Paula Hancocks interviews S. Korean president

    Rapid pace

    2017 has been a year of rapid progress for North Korea’s missile program.
    Less than six years into his reign, Kim Jong Un has tested more missiles than his father and grandfather combined. And this year has been no exception.
    Prior to its most recent launch, the country has fired 21 missiles during 14 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch.
    There’s also a political aspect to the tests, analysts say.

    North Korea has long maintained it wants nuclear weapons and long-range missiles to deter the United States from attempting to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un.

    Pyongyang looks at states such as Iraq — where Saddam Hussein was overthrown by the United States, and Libya — its late leader, Moammar Gadhafi, gave up his nuclear ambitions for sanctions relief and aid, only to be toppled and killed after the United States intervened in his country’s civil unrest — and believes that only being able to threaten the US mainland with a retaliatory nuclear strike can stop American military intervention.

    Many experts say they believe North Korea would not use the weapons first. Kim values his regime’s survival above all else and knows the use of a nuclear weapon would start a war he could not win, analysts say.

    “This new missile test … is both a reaction to the stringent UN sanctions of Monday evening and a wake-up call about the limits of sanctions and military threats as a way to change North Korea’s behavior,” said George A Lopez, a former member of the UN Security Council panel of experts for sanctions on North Korea.
    He said Trump should use his speech to the UN General Assembly next week to “demonstrate US leadership in loyalty to all allies in the region and state our commitment to developing new and vibrant security guarantees for all states, including (North Korea), that are not based on the threat or use of nuclear weapons.”
    The White House has been pursuing a strategy of what it calls “peaceful pressure” in dealing with North Korea — trying to build a global coalition to squeeze North Korea’s revenue and isolate it diplomatically so it will eventually put its missiles on the negotiating table.
    China has been key to that strategy, as Beijing accounts for nearly 90% of all of North Korea’s imports, according to recent data from the United Nations.
    Hours before the launch, Trump touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and their collaboration in addressing North Korea’s rapidly escalating missile and nuclear programs.
    “We have a very good relationship with China and with the President of China. We are working on different things,” Trump said. “I can’t tell you, obviously, what I’m working on. But believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/14/asia/north-korea-missile-launch/index.html

    Halloween Pi Project: Pumpkin Pi Trick-or-Treat Tracker

    Looking for a quick Halloween Pi project that’s useful in more ways than one? Want to put that Pi Zero W to good use? Feel like using data to determine how much candy you need for next year? Get ready to build the Pumpkin Pi Trick-or-Treat Tracker! Doubling as decoration and a people tracker, this Pi-in-a-Pumpkin changes color and streams when motion is detected. Starting from absolute scratch, this project shouldn’t take you more than an afternoon to put together – just in time for Halloween! This tutorial is part of the series, “Learning How to Build Real IoT Applications” >>
    The post Halloween Pi Project: Pumpkin Pi Trick-or-Treat Tracker appeared first on .

    Thanks to Initialstate.com for these Posts and details

    Girls in STEM now have a Lego box of their own: Women of NASA | The Daily Dot

    With last year’s box-office success of Hidden Figures, it’s only fitting that the trend of promoting pioneering women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) trickled it’s way into the toy world—now, as little figures.

    On Tuesday Lego announced the debut of a set unlike any others before it, Women of NASA, highlighting astronomer and educator Nancy Grace Roman; computer scientist and entrepreneur Margaret Hamilton; astronaut, physicist and entrepreneur Sally Ride; and astronaut, physician, and engineer Mae Jemison—each as a mini-figurine.

    Photo via Lego

    The box also includes three builds illustrating the women’s area of expertise: a posable Hubble Space Telescope with a projected image of planetary nebula for Roman, a stack of book elements representing the Apollo Guidance Computer for Hamilton, and a launchpad and Space Shuttle Challenger with three removable rocket stages for Ride and Jemison.

    Photo via Lego

    Each set includes a booklet about the four featured women of NASA, as well as the fan creator and Lego designers behind the idea, who hope their magic inspires even more young girls to get involved with these fields of study.

    In total, the box contains 231 pieces. Women of NASA goes on sale Nov. 1 for $24.99.

    Photo via Lego

    Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/women-of-nasa-lego/

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