Category Archives: Science, Tech, & Health

Amazon to Introduce Ads in their App

It has become a common occurrence to see ads displayed on whatever website or app that you use. Well, expect to see more of them when you go shopping on Amazon.

Amazon has decided to start displaying video ads to online shoppers as a way to make more money for the company that seems like it doesn’t have enough money in the world.

This has been a part of a several months long beta that Amazon has been testing out on their mobile apps. According to a Bloomberg report, this rollout will be coming to the Android and iOS versions of Amazon’s mobile app in the coming weeks. The video ads that will play to users will be about search items that they have been looking at.

It will also include shoppers’ tips and how to items that Amazon sees as a way to make people stay on their app instead of leaving the app to look at videos of the product on sites like YouTube.

It is reported to be a way for Amazon to break up the monopoly of video advertisement that Google and Facebook have set up for themselves. Amazon will now account for at least 8.8% of the digital advertising market, while Google still claims over 37%, which is a decrease of 1% from last year,

Amazon is also increasing their budget to show ads online by 22%, equaling $16 billion for this year.

Amazon sees the opportunity to increase their value by doing this, and we will see in the end whether or not this will work for them.

 

Photo from Mobile App Daily

Who is Going to Enter the World Gaming Hall of Fame this Year?

Who is going to be the lucky ones to enter the hall of fame that is designed for video games?

Will it be Solitaire that is finally able to play its cards right and enter the hall? Could the popular franchise, Mortal Kombat be able to “Finish it” and claim it’s rightful place in the hall? Or could it be the popular mobile game, Candy Crush that is able to enter the hall at a very young age?

There are 12 different games that are up for nomiation that include Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, and NBA 2K. The expert committee will decide whether or not any of these 12 games will be inducted in the hall on May 2nd. Gamers are also allowed to vote for their favorites into the hall until March 28th in an online ballot.

The World Video Game Hall of Fame is located in Rochester, NY and it recognizes all electronic games in many different platforms from arcade to mobile phones.

It also shows how popular the video game industry is as they are also breaking records in profits again as the industry is projected to make nearly $140 billion from last year compared to the dwarf size amount of $43.4 billion made by the movie industry.

It is very honorable for these games to be considered for the hall of fame and good luck to each and everyone of these games in their races to enter the hall.

 

Photo from Nintendo Reporters

Popular Mobile Game Takes a Shot at Anti-vaxxers

Some of the biggest health news headlines have been about the rise of anti-vaxxers in the United States as more and more parents are not getting their children vaccinated. Now, there’s one game known as a sickness simulator that’s adding in anti-vaxxers as a cause of the end of humanity.

Plague Inc., which was created by Ndemic Creations, will be adding anti-vaxxers into the game by popular demand after a fan petition was started on Change.org and asked Ndemic to consider adding anti-vaxxers into the game if the petition reached 10,000 signatures. As of press time, the petition has reached over 20,000 signatures.

Edward Gabrian was the person behind the creation of the petition and his reason for the petition was: “Anti-vaxxers are stupid.”

Plague Inc. was first released for mobile devices in 2012 as a free game with microtransactions for any special diseases to use in-game and it has been a popular game for all mobile users since. The game is so popular that it has since been ported to PC, and Ndemic Creations released the game as a board game after a successful Kickstarter in 2016.

The game is realistic to the point that in 2013, the Centers for Disease Control invited the developer, James Vaughan, to their headquarters in Atlanta to talk about how the game can be used as an educational tool for people.

There is no information about when the update to the game will happen or any official response from any anti-vaxxers about this news.

 

PETA Faces Backlash for Steve Irwin Comments on Twitter

February 22nd would have been Steve Irwin’s 57th birthday. To us watching Animal Planet at home, we saw Steve as the Crocodile Hunter. But he was no hunter; he was a conservationist who taught us not to approach the animals as he did. He loved what he did and to this day, his family follows in his footsteps.

PETA, however, does not see it like that; they saw Irwin as a terrible example. They believe he was in the wrong for what he did and that when Irwin was killed by a stingray in 2006, he more or less deserved it.

Cue one of the few times that everyone on Twitter can agree with something. That something was attacking PETA for their comments on the tribute that Google did for Steve, their Google Doodle.

Celebrities like Drake Bell and Dan Bilzerian have made comments in the last 24 hours denouncing the statements of PETA while most Twitter users were pointing out how Democrats and Republicans were agreeing about how Irwin was a much better conservationist than PETA.

Users were also able to point out that PETA has a robot system. Whenever someone tweeted #donate in a reply on PETA’s Twitter, PETA left very funny replies like this one from a user: “I just boiled 3 pandas alive, y’all want some?  #donate.” PETA replied with a thank you and link to finish the donation.

Other users also pointed out PETA’s history of killing dogs and cats that were unable to be adopted in time. PETA responded to some of those comments with statistics from the organization themselves.

The lesson to be learned here is it doesn’t matter how big or powerful you are if you make comments against a great human being like Steve Irwin. You better get ready to face a ton of backlash.

 

Photo from Indy100

“It’s Alive!” World’s Largest Bee Rediscovered

For over 38 years, it was thought that Wallace’s giant bee had been extinct. But come to find out, the few that were left were hiding in a termite nest in the Maluku Islands in Indonesia.

Scientists were able to find a female specimen of the world’s largest bee after multiple days of searching termite nests in the heavy heat of tropical forests in Indonesia. They were able to find a hole that was large enough for a bee the size of Wallace’s giant bee.

The bee is named after British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, who first described the bee in 1858. He described them as a large black wasp-like insect with the jaws of a stag beetle.

The female bees are the ones that are the largest as they measure almost 1.5 inches in length while their wingspan is over 2.5 inches. The male bees are not nearly as big as their female counterparts.

Wallace, who had encountered thousands of specimens over his many expeditions, was not very interested in the bee that would be named after him, only writing one sentence in his journal.

While this rediscovery is being celebrated by the scientific community, there is worry about the very vulnerable bee as this could cause poachers to want to find the bee and sell it. A specimen of a dead Wallace’s giant bee was sold for $9,000 in 2018 on eBay.

Other worries also include the deforestation of the area, which is facing many species native to Indonesia.

This is a huge issue that we have to face as we are causing the extinction of thousands of animals and insects due to things like deforestation and global warming. It is up to us to help insects like Wallace’s giant bee survive and live peacefully.

 

Photo from NBC News

Opportunity, NASA’s Mars Rover, Has Died

A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that NASA was running out of options in their efforts to reboot the Mars rover known as Opportunity after a dust storm blocked off the rover’s solar panels. Sadly, on Wednesday, Opportunity died after 14 years of hard work and the mission was declared complete.

The rover, which traveled over 28 miles during its mission, was unable to wake up after being frozen due to the harsh Mars weather. The rover’s last words in June were: “My battery is getting low and it’s getting dark.”

The rover was expected to recover as it has done previously but unfortunately, the rover didn’t wake up. The final resting place of the rover is called Perseverance Valley.

Opportunity’s many accomplishments include outlasting its twin, Spirit, by 8 years, remembering over 800 different commands from scientists, and finding a possible area where water had been on Mars.

Now, Curiosity is the only NASA rover left on the Red Planet until the launch of another rover in 2020 and the future launch of Britain and Russia’s first rover.

It was an opportunity for NASA to learn more when Opportunity was sent to the red planet and oh boy, Oppy did everything imaginable.

RIP to one of the best missions in NASA’s history.

President Trump Has Declared A National Emergency For The Wall

President Donald Trump, since day one of his presidential campaign, has said a wall would be built along the Mexican and U.S. border to stop illegal immigration. Unfortunately, it took declaring a national emergency in front of the Rose Garden.

In front of multiple reporters and press, President Trump declared the national emergency, stating, “the current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency.”

However, President Trump did state in his press conference that even he isn’t sure that this type of national emergency will be allowed in the court of law but this was the only way for him to get funds after the Senate and House passed the spending bill to avoid a government shutdown again. That bill only has $1.5 billion of the $5 billion that the president had originally wanted.

Now, it is expected that Trump will get at least $8 billion in funds if the order stands in the courts. It could also lead to more presidents declaring national emergencies to accomplish their campaign promises, which has both Democrats and Republicans fearful.

The 1,954-mile border which separates Mexico and the United States does have some type of border, but it’s not a wall. Rather, the border is made up of fences with barbed wire and there is even a butterfly sanctuary (featured in another article).

Some people are aware that the wall can present risks to wildlife that are crucial to the areas, but the White House has not presented any evidence that would show otherwise and have not even talked about it.

Even the true cost of an actual wall on the Mexico and U.S. border is estimated to be over $20 billion, but the amount that the president is getting is only worth renovating the areas that have a border.

There’s so much that can be talked about this wall and whether or not it is going to actually happen, but it’s going to be an interesting next few years in the court system.

Butterfly Sanctuary To Be Protected By Spending Bill

There were worries that a butterfly sanctuary in Texas would be destroyed by a proposed border wall that would have cut the sanctuary in half. The good news is that this will not be happening.

The bipartisan spending bill that was passed by both the House and the Senate on Thursday had language in the bill that will be protecting five different landmarks in the Rio Grande area, including the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas.

U.S Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas said he was the one to add in the language in the 1,159-page spending package that President Trump signed on Friday, avoiding another shutdown.

The five sites affected over $600 million of the wall’s proposed cost. There were worries that hundreds of different species of butterflies would be affected after a federal court had ruled that they would not be protecting the building.

Now, the building will be one of five sites unaffected by a proposed wall. The other four include the future home of Space X’s commercial spaceport, a Catholic chapel, a bird watching spot that is internationally recognized, and a wildlife refuge.

While this can be classified as “pork barrel spending” to some people, we need areas like the butterfly sanctuary as they are very critical to our food supply and growth.

It’s sad that it had to come to this point where we needed the intervention of a congressman to save the sanctuary, but at least the sanctuary will be there for many more years to come.

Facebook May Hide Pro-Anti Vaccination News Because of False Info

For years now, a battle has been brewing between anti-vaxxers and everyone else. Whether or not, vaccines cause mental disabilities like autism. Now, with a measles outbreak going on in the United States, Facebook has taken steps to limit the outbreak and the anti-vaxxers opinions from being released.

After a rough year of dealing with tons of fake news and being criticized for not being able to control the news, Facebook has stepped up to the plate and decided to control the spread of false news relating to anti-vexxers.

Back in September, the Pew Research Center reported that at least two thirds of Americans get their news on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Starting this year as well, the World Health Organization has declared people deciding not to vaccinate as a world crisis and the CDC has noted the increasing number of children that are not getting vaccinated.

This has resulted in a measles outbreak in Washington state where over 50 kids, mainly those who have not been vaccinated, have gotten measles. It has gotten to the point where the state may force parents to vaccinate their children.

The paper that was published by the disgraced doctor has been debunked multiple times now. Seriously, there’s no reason for anyone not to have a vaccine. We aren’t in the middle ages now, we have the power to stop diseases like polio and measles, and yet this subject remains a debate.

Mint Condition of Famous Game Sells Big

Have you ever thought, “yeah, I would spend over $100,000 for a video game.” Well, one person thought the money was well spend.

An original mint condition Super Mario Bros was sold at an auction on Thursday for $100,150 to a group of people that plan on sharing the game among each other.

This is the most expensive game to have been sold since the unique Nintendo World Championships cartridge was sold for $100,088 on eBay back in 2014.

This version of Super Mario Bros, is a  version that was used during the early test launch. So most likely, any version that you and I may have of Mario is not going to sell for that much. The same goes for most of our favorites and no, Fortnite isn’t one of them.

The question is now, could a game that is graded as mint, sell for over $1 million. A lot of people in the gaming world believe that we could see that in our lifetimes.

The question is that what would be the game to reach that mark. Could it be an arcade game like PAC-Man or could it be another Mario game or could a game that we don’t expect like the failed E.T. games that were reportedly buried because of how bad they were.

We just have to wait for the moment when one of these games hits the auction block.

One State is Trying to Tax Violent Video Games

For some, video games are the way of life while for others, gaming is just a lazy way to live your life. However, in one state, there are plans to place taxes on your favorite games like GTA, Call of Duty, and God of War.

Yes, the home of most Amish people, Pennsylvania, is trying to add a tax for games that are violent or mature, in efforts to make more money for state-run programs. The plan calls for a 10 percent tax, which would be at a cost of $6 for games that usually cost $60 when the game is initially released. This tax would only happen at retail stores as Pennsylvania would be unable to control the digital sales of the games.

This is the second time that the bill has been presented to the legislative body as the first bill failed to make it out of the committee. Now, the bill, which is called House Bill 109, is picking up steam with two Democrats and a Republican currently sponsoring it.

The tax money made from the games would be used to enhance school safety measures in the state.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is currently challenging the law. The ESA says that the law would violate the U.S. Constitution, citing a previous case that stated video games were protected by the Constitution.

ESA also cited research that says there’s no evidence attributing mass shootings to violent games.

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the case will be, and we will be sure to keep up with any updates as the bill progresses.

 

Photo from Gamezine

Link Between Breast Implants and Cancer According to FDA

For some people in the United States, plastic surgery is a way to make yourself feel “better” or more “perfect” in some ways. However, the risks always come ahead of the rewards. In this case, the risk is not worth it.

At least 457 women have been diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which is a rare type of cancer. The Food and Drug Administration has stated that nine people have died since being diagnosed with this type of cancer that affects the cells of the immune system. They can be found around the breast implant area.

The FDA has issued multiple warnings in letters to those in the medical field explaining the link between the cancer and one of the most popular forms of plastic surgery. The letters state the warning signs of the cancer, which could be new lumps, pain and swelling around the breast area.

FDA has also asked for medical providers to report all cases to them in order to gather numbers, which could result in a halt on certain types of breast implants.

However, most of the cases that have occurred have to do with textured implants rather than smooth implants. The good news is that the cancer is slow growing and easily treatable if caught early.

There’s only a small number of women who have cancer out of the estimated 10 to 11 million women who have breast implants in the world, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Plastic Surgery Foundation.

This isn’t the first time that the FDA has brought this to our attention as in 2011, they presented the possibility of cancer but mentioned that it was a small chance that it could happen.

Now, new information has arisen. While 457 may seem to be a small amount, it’s a big enough number to where patients should be getting themselves checked for cancer, so if it is found, then it can be treated as soon as possible.

 

Photo from NPR

Apple Has Officially Released the Fix for FaceTime Group Bug

A few weeks ago, a 14-year-old kid was able to find a bug that sent Apple into a panic and led to them shutting down an important function for any Apple product.

Just last Thursday, Apple released an update for their iOS software, which patched the FaceTime Group function after a bug was found that allowed people to eavesdrop on any conversation even if the call wasn’t answered.

This came after a 14-year-old, of all people, discovered the bug. Apple did acknowledge the finding and apologized about the issue, which resulted in a temporary shutdown of the function until the release of a patch.

Of course, this isn’t the first or last issue that Apple has dealt with over the years. Remember when all Apple users got a new U2 album for free on their products? Yeah, the backlash was so bad that it lead to Apple releasing a patch that allowed users to delete the unwanted music from their playlists.

How about the worst of the worst when Apple admitted to slowing down older phones so people would have to eventually buy another phone? Apple would have been better off if they just declared it an urban legend. This problem has led to many lawsuits that are still being fought in federal courts to this day.

The good news for Apple here is that no one (well, at least not yet) is planning on launching any lawsuits against the multi-billion dollar company for this bug and hopefully for them, the bug has been squished.

 

 

Systems Outage with Wells Fargo Services

Our money is very important to us in today’s society.  Of course without it, you won’t be able to buy your needs and any wants that you can afford for the week.  However, some people got worried when their hard earned money wasn’t showing up on their accounts.

Customers with Wells Fargo were unable to access their money on their accounts just this past Thursday and even as recent as Friday it was reported that customers were still having troubles and they were unable to access their accounts and direct deposits.

Wells Fargo released a statement that said that the issue was contained by their data center that the ATMs were working and most online and mobile services were back up and operating.

Because of the issue, Wells Fargo extend their hours for most of their branches by one hour for Friday and Saturday.

However, the issues that are still going on are serious ones like mortgage issues which are affecting closing on houses which could affect the futures of many.

Another issue which is the most common one is customers not being able to access their money which worried business owners and others as people’s paychecks could had been delayed due to the issue.

As of press time, some of the issues are lingering as some customers are planning on switching bank providers as soon as they are able to access their accounts, they will be switching to another bank. This won’t affect the fourth largest bank in the world right now but it could affect their future if they are not careful.

It is going to be an interesting few days to see how many customers leave Wells Fargo due to this debacle.

Robocalls At An All Time High In U.S.

Has there ever been a time where you were in class or at work when your phone went off and it was a call from a number that you did not recognize? That may have been a robocall, and you ain’t the only one getting them.

A whopping 26.3 billion robocalls were made just last year, according to a report from Hiya. This number has increased by 47 percent since 2017, when there were 18 billion robocalls. That means that the average person would have gotten at least 10 robocalls.

Hiya also released their first annual State of the Call report. Their mission is to give insight “into how Americans use their phones on a monthly basis given the rise of robocalls.”

They found that there are over 11 billion calls that are made monthly, but only 52 percent of them get answered. The unanswered calls are mainly robocalls, telemarketers, and fraudsters, which Hiya calls “general spam.”

Just remember that when you get a call saying you have won a world-wide trip or a call telling you that you have won a million dollars from a contest that you never entered, it’s a scam and you probably shouldn’t answer calls like that in the future.

 

Photo from KimKommando

Want To Get Rid Of Bugs? Well, Bug Bombs Aren’t The Way To Go

Some of us, as college students, have dealt with bugs occasionally, especially living in Muse Hall, which may have more rodents and bugs than students at any given time. However, a new study suggests that some ways of killing bugs don’t work.

In a study that occurred in Raleigh, North Carolina and will appear in BMC Public Health, researchers found that bug bombs do not help kill off bugs; even when the residue is left behind for months, it will not kill the bugs.

In the study, when researchers set off bombs in 30 infested houses, the cockroach population did not increase but did not decrease either.

However, research did find that with certain types of bait, the population of roaches dropped in these houses, with one bait decreasing the population by over 75 percent over a month period.

While this may not mean a lot to you as of right now, it may mean a lot to your parents who may have dealt with a roach issue or fruit flies.

Also, another thing to consider is the chemicals in the bug bombs don’t disappear for a while, so the chemicals that aren’t killing the bugs are actually killing you. By that time, the chemicals would had spread to where you prepare your dinner for the night and what not.

It would do you better if you created your own bug bomb that’s natural for your household rather than kill yourself and others for bugs that won’t just die.

 

 

Fortnite Reaches New Levels With Gaming’s First Ever Live Concert In Game.

Fortnite has been a revolutionary game for all of gaming. It has also been an example for many gaming companies that you can do microtransactions and not affect the gamers that play the game for fun.

It’s not pay-to-win, and along with Battle Royale, Fortnite and Epic Games have one of the better games in recent memories. Now they can say that they had gaming’s first live concert.

Marshmello, the DJ with hits like “Happier” and “Friends”, and avid Fortnite gamer had his first ever concert in a game that was live and free for all gamers to see.

The concert was a standard concert for Marshmello and had his standard set of songs, but of course, it was also different as he was performing these songs live on a game. The concert also stopped all action in the game as gamers were not allowed to kill each other or the virtual Marshmello until the concert was over.

After the concert ended, gamers were able to return to their games and play as they normally would.

Epic Games also released a Marshmello skin for gamers to use for their Fortnite characters.

This is not the first time that Fortnite has used their famous fans for advertisement. They have used Ninja’s popularity to reach the top of the streaming charts on Twitch and YouTube, and have also taken advantage of Drake’s popularity, who is known to be an avid Fortnite gamer as well.

As of right now, there were no reported issues with connections for the concert as it most likely produced a high amount of traffic in the game at that time.

This concert with Marshmello was a good day for gaming and music, as it could lead to something much bigger like a Drake concert. Then we will see if Epic Games has the best servers in the world.

 

U.S. Withdraws From Nuclear Arms Deal With Russia

President Donald Trump has made questionable decisions throughout his presidency that have had people wondering, “Why would he do that?” Well, this decision may be questioned by many as well.

It was made official on Saturday that the Trump Administration was pulling the United States out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia. This action is only the beginning of a six-month formal withdrawal process that will allow both sides time to change their minds if they want to.

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, made the official announcement for the U.S. yesterday, citing Russia’s numerous violations of the treaty in the 30 years that it has been in effect.

The end of the treaty is most likely going to result in the production of more nuclear weapons from both sides, which has multiple countries around the world worried about another nuclear arms race between the former Cold War rivals. Continue reading U.S. Withdraws From Nuclear Arms Deal With Russia