Posts with «author_name|igor bonifacic» label

Fox News host Dan Bongino earned himself a Google Ads ban too

Days after he was permanently banned from YouTube, Dan Bongino has also lost his ability to earn revenue from Google ads. On Friday, the Bongino Report Twitter account sent out a tweet suggesting Google had revoked the pundit’s AdSense account. Later that same day, Tech Policy Press confirmed the suspension with Google. The company told the outlet Bongino’s website had violated its AdSense publisher policies.

“We have strict publisher policies in place that explicitly prohibit misleading and harmful content around the COVID-19 pandemic and demonstrably false claims about our elections,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget. “When publishers persistently breach our policies we stop serving Google ads on their sites. Publishers can always appeal a decision once they have addressed any violating content.”

Bogino’s YouTube ban came down from Google after the Fox News host attempted to evade a prior suspension related to the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy. He posted a video to one of his accounts questioning the effectiveness of masks against the coronavirus. At that point, YouTube temporarily suspended Bogino. It then permanently banned him after he attempted to post that same video to another channel, thereby violating the platform’s terms of service.

On an episode of his podcast titled “I’m Daring YouTube to Do This,” Bogino said before the initial suspension he would continue to post videos about his claims on masks until the company took action. And while it appears he actively courted Google to ban him in both instances, the loss of AdSense revenue has the potential to hurt Bongino more than losing access to YouTube. On Twitter, Claire Atkin, the co-founder of Check My Ads, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting disinformation in the digital advertising industry, said the Gateway Pundit, a website that spread COVID-19 and election misinformation, lost $1.1 million in annual revenue after Google revoked its AdSense account.

Over 80 percent of NFTs minted for free on OpenSea are fake or plagiarized

One of the largest online marketplaces for non-fungible tokens is once again the center of controversy. Mere months after one of its employees resigned for using insider information to profit on NFT drops, OpenSea caused a stir among its users this week when it abruptly announced it was putting a restriction on its free minting tool. The feature allows individuals to create and list an NFT without first paying a “gas price,” the fee that crypto miners charge to write new data to a blockchain.

To all the creators in our community impacted by the 50 item limit we added to our free minting tool, we hear you and we're sorry.

We have reversed the decision.
But we also want to offer an explanation ↯

— OpenSea (@opensea) January 27, 2022

On Thursday, OpenSea said it would add a 50 item limit to the tool. Predictably, the announcement wasn’t popular among OpenSea users, and the company quickly reversed course. But in doing so, it provided some context about the feature. In a Twitter thread spotted by Vice News, the company said more than 80 percent of the NFTs recently created through its free minting tool involved either plagiarized work or spam.

It’s a staggering number, but one that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Artists and photographers have complained for months that the company hasn’t done enough to prevent scammers and bots from profiting from their work. In fact, there’s an entire Twitter account dedicated to documenting NFT thefts.

"Every decision we make, we make with our creators in mind. We originally built our shared storefront contract to make it easy for creators to onboard into the space," OpenSea said on Twitter. “We didn't make this decision lightly. We made the change to address feedback we were receiving from our entire community.”

OpenSea added it was working on several “solutions” it hoped would appease users while deterring bad actors. Moving forward, the company promised it would preview those changes before rolling them out broadly.

Waymo sues to keep autonomous vehicle emergency protocols secret

Waymo has sued the California Department of Motor Vehicles. In a case first reported by The Los Angeles Times, the Alphabet subsidiary filed a complaint with the Sacramento County Superior Court on January 21st to prevent the agency from disclosing what it believes to be trade secrets.

At the center of the lawsuit is a public records request an unidentified party made to obtain Waymo’s driverless deployment application. Before sharing the requested documents, the DMV allowed the company to redact any sections it believed would reveal its trade secrets, including questions that were asked by the agency. When the DMV eventually forwarded the package to the requester, that individual or group challenged the redactions. The agency then contacted Waymo and invited the company to sue it to resolve the matter.

Some of the information Waymo wants to prevent from entering the public domain include details on how it plans to handle emergencies involving its autonomous vehicles. Another redacted section details the abilities of its Driver software to handle San Francisco’s tricky one-way streets and hills. The company began offering taxi service to a limited number of customers in San Francisco in August. Those vehicles operate with a backup human driver.

The company contends it has publicly shared almost all of the information contained in its application with the DMV. According to Waymo, the redactions involve technical details that touch on how it achieves the safety performance it has detailed in other public venues. Waymo claims that information could give a competitor an edge on it. The suit's purpose here is to either forestall or completely prevent the disclosure of the requested information. As TheLos Angeles Times notes, resolution for these types of cases can take years.

“Every autonomous vehicle company has an obligation to demonstrate the safety of its technology, which is why we’ve transparently and consistently shared data on our safety readiness with the public,” a spokesperson for Waymo told Engadget. “We will continue to work with the DMV to determine what is appropriate for us to share publicly and hope to find a resolution soon.”

The DMV declined to comment on the case, but said it's currently reviewing the complaint. 

New York's Obie Awards will consider streaming theater for the first time

For the first time in its storied history, New York City’s annual Obie Awards will consider virtual, digital and audio productions, the event’s organizer, the American Theater Wing, announced on Friday. The move comes in response to the challenges Off- and Off-Off-Broadway artists and groups have had to face through the coronavirus pandemic. Due to some of the strictest lockdown restrictions in the country, many New York theater companies turned to online streaming to survive.

“We wanted to make sure that the work that did happen was eligible,” Heather Hitchens, the CEO and president of the American Theater Wing, told The New York Times. “The Obies respond to the season, and to the evolving nature and rhythms of theater.”

The American Theater Wing hasn’t decided on an exact date for this year’s show, but Hitchens told The Times she expects it will take place sometime in November and involve an in-person presentation. In addition to expanding the mandate of the Obies to honor online productions, judges will consider projects staged between July 1st, 2020 and August 31st, 2022. That's because the most recent Obie Awards took place in 2020. The American Theater Wing is also responsible for the Tony Awards, and 2022 will mark the first year that the organization will have staged the Obies on its own.  

It’s hard to say what the future will bring, particularly in the middle of a constantly changing pandemic, but the American Theater Wing’s decision to consider online productions could open the door for the Obies to consider shows staged outside of New York City.

Moderna begins early-stage trials of mRNA-based HIV vaccine

Moderna has begun early-stage clinical trials of an HIV mRNA vaccine, the company announced this week. On Thursday, it administered the first doses of a shot it co-developed with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative to volunteers at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Like the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, the new treatment uses messenger RNA to “trick” the human body into producing proteins that will trigger an immune response. Moderna hopes the shot will induce a specific class of white blood cells known as B-cells, which can then turn into broadly neutralizing antibodies. Those proteins are “widely considered to be the goal of HIV vaccination, and this is the first step in that process,” according to the company.

As part of the trial, Moderna plans to test both a primary vaccine and a booster shot. The Phase 1 trial will involve 56 healthy, HIV-negative adult participants. The company will give 48 of those individuals the mRNA vaccine. Thirty-two of that group will also receive the booster shot. To the final eight involved in the first trial, the company will only administer the booster shot. Moderna says it will then monitor the entire group for six months to gauge the safety of the vaccine. It also plans to examine the immune response the vaccine triggers at the molecular level to determine if it’s effective.

Messenger RNA technology could lead to treatments for a host of deadly diseases, including malaria, but a breakthrough against HIV would be particularly noteworthy. According to statistics from the US government, approximately 1.2 million Americans have the virus, which can lead to the deadly AIDS disease. While outcomes for HIV patients have improved significantly since the ‘90s thanks to the development of new treatments and medication, no HIV vaccine has successfully passed early clinical trials.

Democratic lawmakers press crypto mining companies over energy consumption concerns

A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachuttes has asked six crypto mining companies, including Riot Blockchain, to answer questions about the impact of their operations on the environment and cost of electricity in the US. In separate letters to the chief executives of each firm, the group asks the companies to detail how much electricity they consume, their scaling plans and any agreements they have in place with local utility companies. They have until February 10th to reply.

Lawmakers say they’re concerned about what a dramatic increase in domestic cryptocurrency mining has meant for the environment and consumers. Specifically, they cite a 2021 study from the University of California, Berkeley that estimated crypto mining in upstate New York raised annual electricity bills by approximately $165 million for small businesses and $79 million for consumers, “with little or no local economic benefit.” They also point to the fact that energy consumption related to Bitcoin mining tripled between 2019 and 2021.

“The extraordinarily high energy usage and carbon emissions associated with Bitcoin mining could undermine our hard work to tackle the climate crisis – not to mention the harmful impacts crypto mining has on local environments and electricity prices,” Senator Warren said. “We need more information on the operations of these crypto mining companies to understand the full scope of the consequences for our environment and local communities.”

The group stops short of suggesting regulatory action could be on the horizon for the industry, but clearly the effect of cryptocurrency on other parts of the economy is something lawmakers are thinking about. On January 20th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing titled “Cleaning up Cryptocurrency: The Energy Impacts of Blockchains.” What’s more, US lawmakers have taken a more board interest in cryptocurrencies in recent months. That was on display in December when the Senate held a hearing on Stablecoins.

Ubisoft will shut down 'Hyper Scape' on April 28th

Ubisoft is discontinuing development on Hyper Scape. On Thursday, the company announced it will shut down the game on April 28th. “We set out to create a vertical, close-quarters and fast-paced shooter experience and we are extremely grateful to our community for joining us on our journey,” Ubisoft said. “We will be taking key learnings from this game into future products.”

Well I think the name kind of gave away what would happen.

The hype escaped

— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) January 27, 2022

Ubisoft launched Hyper Scape in the summer of 2020, claiming at the time the title would bring fresh ideas to the crowded battle royal market. However, it struggled almost immediately to capture the attention of people who were already content playing games like Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends. Following a subsequent console release, Ubisoft admitted Hyper Scape “didn’t fully meet the high expectations of our players.” To its credit, the company didn’t give up on the game immediately, and it tried to salvage it with additional content. Clearly, however, those efforts weren’t enough.

It also doesn’t seem like Hyper Scape’s struggles have fazed Ubisoft's desire to create a successful battle royale title. In the upcoming Ghost Recon Frontline, the company is working on at least one new game in the genre. There are also rumors the recently announced The Division Heartland is a battle royale. As they say, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.

The Organelle S is a more affordable take on Critter & Guitari's distinctive music computer

Since 2016, Critter and Guitari's Organelle line has been one of the most unique ways to create music. What looks like a simple keyboard is actually a computer powered by a Raspberry Pi module and Pure Data, a visual programming language primarily intended for creating and manipulating audio. It’s a setup that gives the Organelle – and its 2019 successor, the Organelle M – the ability to function as synth, drum machine, effects unit and more. However, all of that versatility comes at a cost; buying the Organelle M new from Critter and Guitari will set you back $595 before tax.

Enter the Organelle S. At $495, it’s $100 less expensive than the Organelle M. It doesn’t include the built-in speaker or battery compartment found on its sibling. Outside of those two features, however, the Organelle S includes the same processor as the Organelle M. Despite its smaller size, it also comes with distinctive maple-wood keys of its predecessors. In a way, it’s a more powerful version of the original Organelle that comes with a faster processor, more RAM, MIDI connectivity and a microphone for recording.

You can buy the Organelle S starting today from Critter and Guitari’s website.

Peacock has 9 million subscribers

NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service ended last year with 9 million paid subscribers. Comcast, the streamer’s parent company, shared the milestone during its Q4 2021 earnings call. The announcement marks the first time either company has disclosed just how many people pay for Peacock.

In a call with analysts, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the streaming service has approximately 24.5 million monthly active users, reports Variety. Of those who pay for Peacock, the majority opt for the platform’s $5 ad-supported tier. When you include ads, Roberts said the company generates close to $10 in average revenue per user who subscribes to the service.

In 2022, Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh said the company plans to spend $3 billion on content for Peacock, doubling its current investment. Moving forward, Comcast could spend as much as $5 billion annually building out Peacock’s media library “over the next couple of years.” Some of that money will come from the company’s linear TV platforms, with Roberts telling analysts Comcast is “committed to reallocating resources and increasing investment” in Peacock due to the platform’s growth.

In practice, Comcast and NBCUniversal are likely to spend at least some of that money on reclaiming content that has ended up on other streaming platforms, including Disney’s Hulu. “Much of our strong NBC content premieres on Hulu, over time we’d like to bring that back to Peacock,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said. The company previously paid $500 million to get The Office back from Netflix.

NASA hopes to speed up mission scheduling with help from Microsoft's Quantum division

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is partnering with Microsoft’s Azure Quantum team to explore how it can communicate more efficiently with spacecraft. Compared to some of the hurdles the agency has overcome to put missions like Perseverance on Mars, staying in touch with those spacecraft might not seem so difficult. However, sending instructions to every mission the agency has on the go is its own logistical challenge.

NASA depends on the Deep Space Network, a series of radio antennae located across the US, Spain and Australia. It allows the agency to stay in constant contact with its spacecraft, even as the Earth rotates. Scheduling the use of that system is something NASA notes involves a lot of constraints. For example, not every dish in the network is equally capable of communicating with spacecraft that are on the edge of the solar system. What’s more, missions like the James Webb Space Telescope and Perseverance Rover put an increased load on the system due to the amount of high-fidelity data they need to transmit back to Earth.

As such, NASA has to devote considerable computing resources to prioritize and schedule the hundreds of communication requests its teams put in each week. And that’s where Microsoft thought it could help. The company applied some of the things it learned optimizing quantum algorithms to tackle NASA’s scheduling headache using classical computers. At the start of the project, it took two hours for the company to compile a DSN schedule. Using its Azure network, Microsoft created a schedule in 16 minutes. A further “custom solution” allowed it to make one in two minutes. 

The ability to make schedules in minutes, as opposed to hours, is something Microsoft says will give NASA flexibility and allow it to be more agile as an organization. Microsoft says there's further work it needs to do before the system has all the features that JPL needs, but it could one day help the team as it prepares to launch more complex missions that involve journeys to the Moon and beyond the solar system.