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TECH TECH_Social TECH_Technology

Google launches Cameos, celebrity Q&A video app

Google Inc. premieres a new app on iOS termed Cameos that will allow users to tune in to video responses from their favorite celebrities, sports figures, politicians, and local businesses.

Users can record video answers to their most asked questions on Google. Whenever an individual searches for them on Google, the video will pop up to offer a personalized experience. Cameos on Google is currently available via invite only, which can be requested by installing the app from the Apple App Store on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running iOS 9.0 or above. File size is about 33.4MB.

With the iOS app, registered users will also get new questions about them regularly in order to help make their content more relevant and timely.

Viewers can watch the videos right in their Google feed, once they search for the same questions that have been answered. As per the official app landing page, celebrities such as basketball player Kevin Durant and model Karlie Kloss are some of the initial testers for Cameos on Google.

“Cameos seems to be an extension of a Search feature for celebrities to post selfie-style answers, which Google first launched in December last year. With testing in the US initially, this feature allowed popular celebrities to upload selfie-style videos of themselves answering the most popular questions about them on Google Search”, reports Gadgets 360.

The feature is slightly reminiscent of Instagram’s Questions sticker that was released back in July. However, Cameos will be much more publicly visible and have the potential to expand Google’s prowess as a social networking tool.

Categories
BRIGHT TECH WOW

Countries Around the World Where Gambling is Huge

Thanks to the Hollywood film industry, whenever someone thinks about gambling or casinos there’s this instant image of Las Vegas that comes to mind. It’s fair then to assume that the United States are the nation that gambles the most worldwide, right? Wrong, even though it’s a huge country and there are quite a few casinos here, the US is not the leader of the list you are going to access down below. It doesn’t even get into Top 10. So, without further ado, let’s find out what are the countries that gamble the most. The classification was made by dividing the total losses on gambling for a period of 1 year to the entire adult population of a country. The losses include any form of gambling from slot machines, poker, sports betting, roulette any other gambling activity you may think of.

 The Big Surprise: Australia

Those of you that have know a thing or two about the gambling industry might not be as shocked about who takes first place in the list but we guarantee that this is a surprise for almost all of our readers. This comes from the fact that Australia doesn’t really strike you as a nation where gambling is so popular. Joking a bit, you might say that whenever you think of Australia you think kangaroos, koalas, rugby, the Sydney Opera and the great Outback. So, no matter if you’re looking for a land-based casino or an online casino, Australia has them all.

But the most interesting part is that most of the gambling isn’t done in casinos. Slot machines, or pokies as they call them, are so popular that every bar and even some restaurants has at least one. Studies show that an average of $1,128 per adult person were lost in Australia in 2016. The total gambling expenditure in this country is situated around the $23 billion. At a recent estimation, there were over 196000 slot games in Australia.

 Singapore

Singapore has witnessed one of the most-rapid growth in terms of gambling and losses on gambling in the world. After opening the first casino back in 2010, Singapore quickly became one of the largest gambling countries on the globe. Compared to this, Australia that has gambling around for over a century, are small-time players. In just 8 years, Singapore has managed to come second in the list with the world’s biggest gambling countries. Despite the measures taken by the government and even families through the ‘Family Exclusion Orders’ and many other mechanisms designed to keep people in Singapore away from casinos, the total losses per adult still stands at over $1,000.

Ireland

We register a huge drop moving on to the third position of our top, where we find Ireland. Ok, perhaps this isn’t such a big surprise since it’s known that Irish people as well as the entire United Kingdom are predisposed go gambling and it’s kind of part of their culture. The cost per adult stands at over $590 which is half from what Australia registers year after year, but still a worrying amount. The Irish are known to be big fans of horse and greyhound races as well as the classic table games and, more recently, online slots. The Gambling Commission does everything in its power to prevent problem gaming through programs such as GameCare or GAMStop, however, the number of Irish people that are still drawn to the online and traditional casinos is still high with huge amounts being spent year after year.
So, if you’re planning on going on a gambling trip and you’re already tired of Las Vegas, or you just consider that destination to mainstream, you can just pick any of these countries and you’ll have plenty gambling products to choose from.

 Greece

As surprising as it may sound, Greeks is another country that is greatly affected by gambling. An adult in this country loses $ 420 to bet on average. When it comes to gambling, the nations have something to boast about. The legendary gamble of all time, Nicholas, also known as Nick the Greek was from this country. The gambler died almost penniless at 83 in the year 1966 after losing all the winnings. If inflation rates are used to adjust his winnings, then it would worth approximately $500 million by the year 2009.

The Greeks’ most favorite way of gambling is lotteries, and in the year 2010, the joker lottery managed to collect a record jackpot of nineteen million Euros. It is no surprise that this nation also hosts the largest gambling company, OPAP, which boasts of a market cap of approximately 4.1 billion Euros. The privatization of the company was in its final stages by the year 2012. The sale of the company could help the government offset some of its debts.

Norway

Norway is not any different when it comes to gambling. It is approximated that an adult in this nation loses about $ 448 to gambling. The most popular modes of gambling in Norway include football bets, slot machines, scratch cards and also lotto. A survey that was conducted by the government in the year 2008 found out that 88% of Norway citizens are lifetime gamblers. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that young men who had previously played on gaming machines had a frequent occurrence of betting addiction.

The government has made attempts to limit access to gambling, a move that has seen the number of slot machines reduce from 22,700 in the year 2007 to 10,000. This is not a success in any way as the gambling was only transferred to online operations. The gamblers switched to playing poker online, and the government is now threatening to filter all the online gambling operations.

Surprisingly, even though the government is making efforts to reduce the number of gambling population, there exists a state-owned gambling company, Norsk that is under the control of the Ministry of Culture and church affairs. This makes me wonder if gambling is part of the culture or is it part of church affairs. All said and done; the company still posted revenue of $2.1 billion last year.

 Hong Kong

$503 is lost to gambling by every adult citizen of Hong Kong on average. If you sum up this figure with the total population of the country you can imagine what that amount of money can do when it comes to national development. Even though casinos are illegal in Hong Kong, the law does not apply to Macau which is just one-hour boat ride from Hong Kong. It, therefore, should not surprise you that in the year 2011, more than 500,000 citizens of Hong Kong paid a visit to Macau.  You must not know that not all forms of betting are illegal in the country as the government still recognizes some gambling forms that include soccer betting, lotteries, and horse racing.

Medical research has revealed something that I least expected. Can you believe that one out of every 20 citizens of Hong Kong have a gambling disorder? I did not know that gambling can become a disorder.  Within the country, there is a Jockey Club that organizes the major draws and also does cultural fixation. The club hosts 700 races in a single year. In the year 2010, it managed to earn $2.7 billion in betting and lottery revenue. Another study that was conducted by a Gamblers Counseling center found out that out of 1040 students, more than half of them were introduced to gambling by their parents and 41% of them stated betting at a tender age of six.

Italy

Gambling in Italy is not something that has a brief history. It is in this nation that the game of Baccarat was invented. That is not all as in the year 1638, Italy becomes the first country to have a government-sanctioned casino in the whole of Europe. The casino was named Ridotto. However, the casino was closed by the Venetian government in the year 1774 in attempt to preserve the city’s discipline and regulate behavior. Given the rich history of the country when it comes to gambling, it should not surprise you that on average, an adult loses $517 to betting in Italy.

Their favorite form of gambling is the use of electronic gaming machines which include slots. Just to emphasize how serious gambling is considered in Italy, electronic gemming generated 50% of the total gaming revenues within the first six months of the year 2010.within that period, gaming revenues totaled to $22 billion.

 Finland

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland reports that more than 41% of the adult population of the country takes part in gambling activities every week. Gambling is deeply rooted in the country such that even children took part in the menace before the government raises the minimum age for gambling from 15 years old to 18 years old in the year 2011. The change of age limit was done in effort to discourage gambling among children. Even though the government tries to discourage gambling in Finland, there still exists a government-run gambling company which is under the control of the Ministry of Education.

The revenue collected from the gambling company is channeled to arts, education and culture. At least there is a gambling company in Finland that care about the addiction that comes with gambling. The Paf group that runs online gambling company rewards its loyal customers who spend more than $171.40 on the gambling site and are proved to have gambling addiction. On a second thought, I don’t really believe that the company cares much about the addiction so long as they can continue making money. The reward may just encourage the gamblers to gamble more. on average, an adult in Finland loses $553 to gambling and that is money that you cannot possibly earn within a short period of time.

Categories
LOL OMG TECH

Dance Cam Follows Enthusiastic Fan’s Hilarious Dance-Off With Security

You know how they say ‘dance like no one is watching?’ Well, sometimes it’s better to dance like everyone is watching!

During a break in the action at a Detroit Pistons game, the Dance Cam was making the rounds capturing fans busting their best moves for the Jumbotron. Everyone was laughing and having a good time, but one kid, in particular, was showing off a serious repertoire of dance skills that got everyone’s attention.

The Dance Cam started off by capturing its usual cast of characters from parents and their babies to other excited fans.

But when this young kid caught the camera’s attention, everyone went wild with laughter.

One person who especially noticed the boy’s killer boogie was a nearby security guard… and when he found himself in the spotlight, he quickly started giving the crowd a show, showing the kid who’s boss when it comes to busting a move.

A friendly competition unfolded, much to the delight of the surrounding crowd.

As Derek Zoolander would say, “It’s a dance-off!”

Not to be outdone, the kid then broke out some fresh moves and encouraged the crowd to cheer him on. Watch the whole interaction below — who do you think took first place?

Categories
HEALTH NWT_Biology TECH

Drinking alcohol may foster bad mouth bacteria

Researchers from New York University found that heavy drinking may fill a person’s mouth with harmful bacteria, according to a new study published in the journal Microbiome.

In the study, scientists analyzed spit samples from more than 1,000 healthy volunteers between the ages of 55 and 84. Beyond that, they also asked the participants about their regular eating habits, including how much alcohol they consumed.

The team  then used a form of RNA sequencing to analyze the microbiome in each volunteer’s mouth. They found a strong link between drinking alcohol and a higher abundance of bacteria that often leads to gum disease. They also found drinking is correlated with lower amounts of Lactobacillales, which generate good oral health.

Regular drinkers also had higher levels of bacteria from the genus Neisseria, some of which can produce the carcinogen acetaldehyde. While no study has linked the organisms to cancer, it is another concern.

“Such changes potentially contribute to alcohol-related diseases, including periodontal disease, head and neck cancer, and digestive tract cancers, but further research is needed to relate alcohol-related composition changes to disease phenotypes,” wrote the team in their research, according to Gizmodo.

Researchers believe there is a chance alcohol could alter the mouth biome by killing off key immune cells, damaging teeth, or significantly altering the composition of saliva. However, nobody knows to what degree these microbial changes are the result of drinking alone. 

Even so, this is the largest study to look at the way alcohol affects the human mouth microbiome. Such research could give insight into how alcohol increases the risk of certain mouth diseases and expand general knowledge of human health.

“We know that alcohol is a risk factor for many other diseases,” said study co-author Jiyoung Ahn, an epidemiologist at the New York University School of Medicine, according to TIME. “This is another scientific rationale, or justification, that heavy drinking is not recommended. We should avoid heavy drinking in terms of maintaining a healthy microbiome.”

Categories
Business Mobile TECH

HTC layoff eliminates 1,500 employees

Smartphone maker HTC has announced a job reduction strategy scheduled for October, in which 1,500 employee layoffs will occur within the Taiwanese manufacturing division.

As the company eliminates roughly a quarter of its 6,450 global staff, HTC projects a bid to restore its profitability, as reported by Reuters.

In a statement, the company plans to reorganize and take advantage of efficiency savings as well as help cushion its non-existent bottom line.

Officials have pledged to work with the Bureau of Labor, supporting all of those affected.

“This plan will allow more effective and flexible resource management going forward,” the company told Reuters.

Reorganizations have become conventional within HTC, as the manufacturer attempts to leverage profits and stability from a previous shuffle earlier this year.

Shortly after the president of HTC’s mobile division resigned, the company decided to combine its VR and mobile divisions into one, resulting in minimal benefits.

Declining profits have continued to plague the company, which was once seen as a leader in the smartphone space. Since 2014, the company’s annual profits have trended downwards, with an unknown recovery projectors. HTC has affirmed its commitment to remaining in the mobile space amid strategy concerns.

The employee layoffs will officially occur in October 2018, as reported by Reuters.

Categories
Business TECH TECH_Social

Facebook acquires AI firm for human speech enhancements

Facebook has acquired Bloomsbury AI, a London-based artificial intelligence firm which specializes in natural language processing.

The company says Bloomsbury’s “expertise will strengthen Facebook’s efforts in natural language processing research, and help us further understand natural language and its applications”, according to a post from the official Academics page.

Facebook projects AI goals that align with the understanding of images, videos, and text to moderate the entire social network’s platform, including Facebook and Instagram.

Meantime, human contractors and teams inspect flagged and reported material. As Facebook enhances AI capabilities, the human analysis will be performed by algorithms. As a result, the company requires software to better understand language, the intent beyond that language, and other very tricky problems still out of reach for most modern AI.

The announcement post says that Bloomsbury’s work has focused on “machine reading and understanding unstructured documents in natural language in order to answer any question.” This may indicate Bloomsbury’s advantage towards Facebook AI tasks of filtering the massive amount of user-uploaded content on the social network every day.

Additionally, Facebook is also working on an AI-assisted home speaker with a display, with the possibility that Bloomsbury’s team may innovate the product to improve its ability to understand spoken commands and return answers with natural-sounding speech.

Categories
TECH TECH_Social TECH_Technology

Facebook bug reverses blocked accounts

Facebook announced on Monday an initiative to notify 800,000 individuals concerning a bug that unblocked accounts those users had previously blocked.

Facebook said the bug was active between May 29th and June 5th.

In a blog post, Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, explained how numerous blocked users may have viewed shared posts, providing them with access to the user who performed the block.

“We know that the ability to block someone is important — and we’d like to apologize and explain what happened,” Egan said in the post.

Typically, when a user is blocked on Facebook, the particular person cannot view posts on a specific profile, chat through Messenger, or add the blocker as a friend. The user is also automatically unfriended.

According to Facebook reports, 83% of users impacted by the bug had one person temporarily unblocked. A user who was unblocked during that time may have been able to talk to the person who blocked them on Messenger.

Facebook has been managing diverse privacy issues surrounding its platform, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a bug that changed 14 million users’ privacy setting defaults to public.

The social media company recognizes the inadvertent action of unblocking blocked accounts without a users’ consent is a major oversight. Facebook says the issue has been resolved, and all previous settings have been reinstated.

Categories
HEALTH Science TECH

Induction of labor at 39 weeks reduces risk

Induction of labor at 39 weeks can help with risks associated with c-sections, according to NBC News. Inducing healthy first-time mothers at 39 weeks of pregnancy instead of waiting for them to go into labor on their own, does not raise any risks associated with C-sections, it actually lowers it.

The new findings go contrary to a long-held belief, based on prior studies, that induction can increase the likelihood of a C-section surgery that carries a higher risk of infection or postpartum hemorrhaging than natural births.

For this trial, that is planned to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, researchers tracked more than 6,100 women in 41 sites across the country. Half of them were given elective, non-medically necessary inductions in the week before their due dates, while the others waited for labor to start without any intervention.

Women that were induced at 39 weeks had lower rates of maternal and fetal complications, including fewer C-sections (19 percent vs. 22 percent); lower frequent preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous pregnancy condition, and hypertension (9 percent vs. 14 percent); and fewer newborns who needed respiratory support (3 percent vs. 4 percent).

The belief that inductions can lead to C-sections was based on past data comparing a woman who goes into labor spontaneously with a woman who is induced at the same point in her pregnancy. The problem is that this could be before the 39th week, when complications had developed, or when the woman had been overdue and had gone past 40 weeks, said the study’s principal investigator, Dr. William Grobman, a professor of OB-GYN at Northwestern Medicine.

Categories
NWT_Biology Science TECH

Plants evolve away from useless defenses, study reports

A group of scientists at the Drexel University have found that plants will stop using defense methods that do not work, instead evolving new traits as a way to better protect themselves in the future.

In the study, the team found this by analyzing different types of flowering plants known as dogbanes and milkweeds. Both species are connected in that they each use a highly toxic chemical substance — known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids — as a defensive measure against would-be predators.

The team traced the plants back to when they first began to produce the chemical and found that they stopped creating it at four different periods throughout their existence. The reason? Danainae butterflies.

Unlike mammals, the insects are not harmed by toxic alkaloids. As a result, the plants stopped producing the chemicals as soon as they became ineffective. In fact, certain milkweeds made the change as soon as the butterflies began to actively seek out the plants.

“Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are likely an ineffective defense against Danainae,” explained study leader Tatyana Livshultz, a researcher at Drexel University, according to International Business Times UK. “Furthermore, they are actually beneficial to them since they take in these chemicals for their own defense against their predators.”

This study is important because it actively supports the “defense de-escalation” hypothesis, which states that organisms will stop using defenses that no longer work. This is a prime example, and it could help scientists get a better idea of the basics behind co-evolution.

“Apocynaceae (milkweed) species of this lineage produce a number of different classes of defensive chemicals, including cardenolides and other types of alkaloids,” added Livshultz. “It has been shown that cardenolides are at least partially effective defenses against adapted herbivores, such as the monarch butterfly, the most familiar species of Danainae to Americans.”

Though researchers are not sure why some milkweeds still produce the deadly chemicals, they postulate that it could be because they want to deter other insect types that are still deterred by the toxins.

New Phytologist.

Categories
HEALTH HND_Disease NWT_Biology TECH

Omega-3 supplements do not prevent heart disease

Omega 3 supplements do not lower a person’s risk for heart disease, stroke, or death, according to a new study in the Cochrane systematic review.

Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of fat that, in small doses, are essential for proper health. They exist in many common foods through substances like alphalinolenic acid (ALA)  eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

While humans eat the acids naturally, people around the world promote the increased consumption of omega 3 fatty acids because of the common belief that they protect people from heart disease.

However, researchers from Cochrane found that is not true.

The team reached that conclusion by analyzing the results of 79 randomized trials involving 112,059 people that assessed how much consuming extra omega 3 fats affected both heart disease and circulation.

All of the studies analyzed men and women — some healthy and some not — from North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. During the trial, the subjects were randomly assigned omega 3 fats to maintain their usual intake for at least a year.

That revealed increasing long-chain omega 3 intake provides little or no health benefits. The team also found that the death risk in people who increased their omega 3 intake was 8.8 percent, barely lower than the 9 percent death risk for people in the control group.

In addition, taking long-chain omega 3 fat supplements did not change the risk for stroke, heart irregularities, cardiovascular events, coronary heart deaths, or coronary heart disease events.

That is a strong link that shows the supplements are not as helpful as many believe.

“We can be confident in the findings of this review which go against the popular belief that long-chain omega-3 supplements protect the heart,” said study co-author Lee Hooper, a researcher from the University of East Anglia, according to Science Daily.“This large systematic review included information from many thousands of people over long periods. Despite all this information, we don’t see protective effects.”

The team hopes that the new findings will make people think twice before taking supplements. While certain ones can be beneficial, the team states that healthy foods are a much better option for those looking to increase their heart health.

“Such supplements come with a significant cost, so my advice to anyone buying them in the hope that they reduce the risk of heart disease, I’d advise them to spend their money on vegetables instead,” said Tim Chico, a cardiologist from Sheffield University who was not involved in the study, according to BBC News.