Facebook’s well-oiled machine has a reason for being able to constantly offer users a better experience, and the reason is called “Hackamonth.”

Ever member of the immense engineer team at Facebook is allowed to take 30 days off from their regular jobs and try a different department or project within the company part of the program that started in 2011.

Google has a similar initiative running inside its company, and it seems to be working for both of the tech rivals. According to James Pearce, a Facebook developer advocate, Facebook’s Hackamonth has taken Google’s program and put it on steroids.

It is public knowledge that plenty of Facebook’s features – yes, even the one encoded in its primary structure – are Hackamonth babies. From the Like button to the concept of Timeline itself, plenty of tools have seen their starts after all-nighters during the famous hackathons.

Pearce said it was interesting how Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, is sometimes the last to know about the new features, as many cool products and new ideas take some time to reach the leadership levels. Most of the neat stuff comes from these engineers doing their thing when they take their Hackamonths.

One all-nighter might not be enough if an engineer wants to fix or upgrade a more architectural problem. This is the main reason why the Hackamonth program was established. If an engineer has an idea about a potential hackamonth project, Facebook’s internal network helps them find other engineers to team up with.

Good news is that you don’t have to leave the new team if you realize at the end of the month that you clicked; according to Pearce, there’s no tension or hard feelings about these kinds of transfers from one team to another. The most important thing among colleagues is to become an asset to your team and bring your best – whichever team that might be.

The company definitely appreciates generous engineers who don’t mind lending out their expertise to other projects or departments. Pearce said that a large amount of the features coming out of the Hackamonth program is behind-the-scenes stuff that improves the app and the site’s performance.

Hackamonth’s overall impact is immense, and it’s so successful because engineers are allowed to develop what they are interested in and would like to do. And the most important benefit is that it prevents some of the bored out routine that can come with working too long in a fixed job.

Hackamonth’s ultimate purpose is to either offer developers a new energy when they go back to their desk, or help them find a better match in a new team.
Image Source: Facebook

New frightening species of fish were found in the waters of Australia.

After making the discovery of four active volcanoes in the vicinity of Australia, CSIRO revealed the first photos of Australia’s terrifying fish species. Based on the information that has been withdrawn from the collected images, it appears that this newly found fish can be quite dangerous.

Australia’s wild fauna and flora has been many times the subject of special documentaries due to the unusual behavior and characteristics of these exemplars. CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization might have just contributed to Australia’s rich environment by publishing the first photos of terrifying species of fish.

The newly discovered exemplars were first spotted on the eastern side of the coast as researchers were scanning the depths of the ocean with the help of their explorer. They were, thus, able to see the small, yet very dangerous exemplars swimming along the investigating device.

According to the images they have provided, the small exemplars have two long fans coming out of their large mouths and a possibly poisonous sting at the bottom of their tails. We can’t yet make suppositions in relation to the characteristics of these fish exemplars, but it appears that they are not too friendly.

Fortunately, the identified species were not very large in size; otherwise, they could have posed many threats to the Australian population. Their body has a gelatinous consistency, which works as a reminder of the water mollusks. The colors are also resembling; some of the photographed species were transparent, while others were black, depending most likely on the water they lived in.

The Australian community of scientists praised the works of their water explorer as it has enabled them to make significant discoveries in the past weeks. In addition to these intriguing species of fish, CSIRO has also acknowledged the presence of four active volcanoes on the Sydney Coast.

These 50-million-year-old underwater mountains went unnoticed during past researches, but marine experts have finally managed to get a glimpse of them. Based on their calculations, the string of four volcanoes is 20 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide. The highest mountain reaches an altitude of 700 meters, scientists have concluded.

Further studies will be carried out in the region to establish whether these peaks represent a threat for the Australian population or not. The recent data indicates only that there is volcanic activity in the region and future episodes of tectonic movements are likely to happen.

Image source: www.blogcdn.com

Hacking Team, the Italian cyber-security firm that has been recently in the news for a massive data breach, is now putting the blame on the shoulders on governmental forces and warns that criminals might now find it extremely easily to use its software codes in other attacks.

Hackers who are yet to be identified have leaked in a torrent file approximately 400GB of data from the company’s servers, revealing the controversial connections it has with several governments. Hacking Team sells surveillance software that many intelligence and law enforcement agencies use to keep tabs on the phones and computers of suspects.

Many documents have since been uploaded on Wikileaks, as the public could skim through several thousands of private corporate emails. During the same data breach, the company’s source codes for many of its top secret programs have also been made public online.

Even though he offered no further details, David Vincenzetti, Hacking Team’s CEO, gave a statement on Sunday saying that the attack must have been carried out at a government level, considering the complexity and the resources it needed.

Clients of the company have been advised not to use its software until the compromised programs can be updated and made secure again. Although only some of the services have been targeted, Hacking Team representatives warn that all computer systems might have been messed with.

A company’s statement posted on its official website revealed that Hacking Team is conducting an investigation on the attack, which so far proves that hackers have leaked enough code as to allow anyone to use the software as a weapon against any chosen target.

Having a bit of know-how in technical ability might enable extortionists, terrorists, and other ill-willed people to use this technology for their own purposes. The irony is that the company’s website still promotes its products as being able to offer complete control for target surveilling.

Leaked emails revealed that Hacking Team has worked with many governmental institutions in various countries, such as Australia, Italy, and – of course – the United States. The company has been called out before for its dealings with countries who abuse the human rights of its population, including Libya, Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

After keeping silent for almost a week after the attack was made public, Vincenzetti went on record defending his choice of clients; he said his connections are legal, as no international trade laws were ever broken in the partnerships he’s been involved.
Image Source: Motherboard

Apple’s iPod range gets revamped with new lively shades of pink, blue, fuchsia, grey and gold.

Rumor has it on the Internet that Apple is launching a new colorful iPod on July 14 in response to users’ repeated suggestions indicating that the music player should be revamped. There are many upgrades that users would like to see featured on the revamped model of the mp3 player. So far, analysts were only able to find out that the new version will be colorful, with many more shades than the ones of the previous models.

The last time iPods have been in the spotlight was in 2012, before smartphones stole all the attention. That was also the year when Apple last operated a system upgrade for the said music players. However, the company is now determined to make their media gadgets popular again.

Based on a recent report, Apple could be launching a new colorful iPod on July 14, even though the company did not confirm these rumors. The company that first put forth this hypothesis justified their belief by saying that the new iPod touch model will bear the reference number n102, as opposed to the n78 model available until now.

The entire iPod range is expected to receive upgrades. Thus, the new number of iPod nano is n31a, whereas the previous version has been labeled as n31. iPod shuffle, too, has been modified, if we were to judge from the n12d number that the revamped model received.

Customers will have many more colors to choose from as the smartphone producer is putting the all too dull Apple white aside to make room for lively shades of electric blue, fuchsia, gold, pink, gray sidereal and black.

While the new models may appear to target a feminine audience, the technical specifications of the new iPod Touch suggest male customers will also be satisfied with the new prototype. The music player will be now a lot faster thanks to its new 64-bit processor which comes to replace the usual 32-bit unit.

Tech savvies have also hinted to a possible camera upgrade for iPod Touch, although they did not venture into making too many suppositions in relation to its technical specifications.

Apple does not usually launch new products during the summer months. iPod and iPhone launches are usually organized in September, but, this time, Apple, like other developing customers, has decided to take customers by surprise with an unexpected July launch.

Image source: cdn.macrumors.com

The new dinosaur seems quite menacing, yet only eats plants.

There’s exciting news from the world of paleontology as something completely unique has been literally – unearthed. Fossil hunters have uncovered a new dinosaur in Canada named Wendiceratops, after Wendy Sloboda, the paleontologist and hunter who discovered it.

It really seems that the creators of “Jurassic World” really have nothing on Mother Nature and the diligent bunch of scientist, or paleontologists, who always working to dig up whatever hidden mysteries she’s left for us.

It appears that this dinosaur is much, much cooler than the Indominus Rex that they genetically engineered on the big screen. After all, what could be more amazing than a dinosaur with a crown of horns, and three other, bigger horns on its forehead and nose?

A piece of the skull of the newly discovered dinosaur was spotted in a picture by already renowned fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda. She quickly tracked the GPS coordinates, retrieved the fragment, and then showed to two other scientists, Michael Ryan and David Evans, her colleagues at the Southern Alberta Dinosaur Research Project.

When the two saw the bone fragment, they just jumped into a car and drove directly to the place where the skull had been found. All this happened in 2010.

Five long years after the discovery and the two above researchers have just recently published what they have learned in this period of studying the 200 pieces of bone. That’s four whole individual dinosaurs that were uncovered by a team of just five people jack-hammering a rock until they reached the bones.

The dinosaur is believed to be a more distant relative of the Triceratops, having lived approximately 79 million years ago. Measuring about 20 feet and weighing in at about a ton, the dinosaur is quite unlike most others, even different from its cousin mentioned above. Its crown of horns is extremely intricate, and Evans said it is a “most striking” since it’s the earliest example of all the horned dinosaurs. Despite these horns, the dinosaur was definitely an herbivore, Evans and Ryan say, and used the horns in battles over mating, or in defense against predators.

The most interesting of its horns is its protruding nasal horn, as no other example of an earlier form of nasal horn had been uncovered. Palenontologists are now looking at how the horn evolved from the Wendiceratops to the Triceratops.

Wendy Sloboda, one of few women fossil hunters in the world, chose to celebrate having a dinosaur with her name by tattooing his face on a very special region of her body she had reserved especially for this occasion.

Image source: turner.com

Rapidly decreasing population of wild bees is yet another disastrous side-effect of our planet’s changing climate, leaving us without one of the most important pollinators of crops and wildflowers.

Reports covering the bee populations across North America and Europe have been going on for the past century. Jeremy Kerr, a biologist from the University of Ottawa, decided to narrow his bee observations to bumblebees, which are easily identified by their big, fuzzy shape.

Unlike the honeybees managed by beekeepers, bumblebees roam freely across North America in dozens of different species. In total, bee observations have exceeded 422,000, and Kerr explained that each one of them is carefully registered so researchers know what type of bumblebee was observed and the time and location of the bee colony.

Kerr’s focus was a cross-reference between where each species was found several years back and where they are now. His collaborators helped him identify potential effects of a warming climate, as it was shown when some species of these wild bees were nowhere to be found in the warmest places where they used to buzz.

Published in the journal Science, Kerr’s report clearly reveals that the decrease in bumblebee population is not the results of pesticide use or land clearing. Ecologist Lawrence Harder of the University of Calgary has been studying and observing bumblebees for the past 35 years.

Even though she was not involved in this particular study, she complete agrees with its conclusions, explaining that the shape of a furry bumblebee allows it to keep its warmth in colder environments. However, the same characteristic makes it difficult for them to survive in heat.

One of the most surprising things that Kerr and his colleagues noticed is that bumblebees are rather different from other insects in the aspect of expanding their range at the cooler edge. Butterflies and insects in general move along to cooler regions when heat comes, but not bumblebees.

Kerr explained their observations showed they seemed kind of stuck, and Harder thinks he might know why. Unlike other insects, many bumblebee species are restricted by boundaries of vegetation, and not by cold temperatures criteria. Even if it gets really warm, bumblebees will stick to their favored open grassland instead of moving northward into Canada’s forests.

Honeybees get all the attention nowadays, as their numbers are threatened as well. But bumblebees play a crucial role in various ecosystems, as agricultural crops and wildflowers depend on them for the complex task of pollination.
Image Source: Beneficial Bugs

If you’ve been complaining about the 640x640px resolution that Instagram was offering its users, the popular photo-sharing app has finally heard you. After years of stubbornly sticking to the small resolution, Instagram has introduced the option of taking and posting crisper 1080x1080px pictures.

Users have started noticing the change early in the week, and Instagram has confirmed to have started “gradually rolling out 1080 across iOS and Android.” That means most of the amateur and professional photographers using Instagram have already enjoyed clearer photos.

Following the upgrade of Instagram’s self-description as a reliable source of real time news, it was about time that Instagrammers were enabled to post pictures that are closer to the quality of the original photograph (wasn’t it frustrating that the perfect sunset looked so blurry after having the Instagram experience?).

According to a statement from last month, the Facebook-owned company will use the platform as a medium for real time news. With more than 300 million users active all around the globe, Instagram decided to also improve its Explore option; searching a simple hashtag, key word or place would reveal if there are any pictures for real time events.

Pictures related to significant topics and popular hashtags will also be featured as trending photos, allowing users to spot much easier the images taken at a specific place or event. In a recent interview, Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom said that the 70 million photos that are uploaded on the platform daily will be sorted as to offer people information on the main events happening all over the world.

Company reports show an improved location-search function that can now tap into more picture information than just the location your smartphone automatically attaches to the image.

The new algorithm is able to sort images based on two criteria: popularity – influenced by factors such as likes, comments and time people spend looking at photos – and it features the pictures uploaded most recently in detriment to the older ones.

Hashtags and tags will also influence how Instagram groups pictures, in addition to searches based on places cross-referenced with most-recent photos posted on the app.
Image Source: Blog GSM Arena

Theranos blood tests favor direct to consumers medical services.

Theranos, an Arizona-based company has been struggling for a long time to make its blood tests commercial. The first step in this direction was made on Friday, when the U.S. FDA approved the Theranos blood test for herpes.

The medical method went through a series of tests and experiments until the Food and Drug Administration has finally acknowledged its accuracy. The medical authority stated on Friday afternoon that the blood tests that Theranos has designed are in accordance with the national regulations and they can identify traces of the herpes simplex 1 virus IgG.

The Theranos System, the pack that the company is selling for blood tests, is not only cost-effective ($9.07), but it is also incredibly easy to use. According to Theranos’ CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, customers only have to sting their fingers and the device will use those few drops of blood to diagnose the patient.

Based on the description that the producing company has made, the system contains the device that provides support during the withdrawal of the blood samples, the Nanotainer Tubes and the analytical software.

The FDA closely analyzed the 818 blood samples that Theranos has performed on their subjects before they concluded that the system is reliable. The investigation has proven that tests are just as accurate, no matter the age and the ethnicity of the respondents.

The decision of the administration was positively influenced by the recent law that the Arizona state has passed enabling direct to consumers blood tests. Holmes believes this is an important step that the company has made because it will render doctors’ job a lot easier.

The founder of Theranos told the press that the new system is not meant to steal doctors’ authority on the matter; on the contrary, it will simply render blood test interpretations a lot easier and faster.

The Theranos System is expected to bring many advantages to consumers with smaller budgets. Most of these patients have poor health insurances; therefore, these new tests could help reduce great part of the costs. Patients will no longer have to drive long distances in order to get their health condition checked as Theranos’ blood analyses can be carried out anywhere, anytime.

Even though FDA’s approval clearly indicates that the Theranos System is valid, some biotech analysts are still skeptical in relation to their accuracy. The majority of them question the ability of the system to correctly interpret the results of the blood tests.

Image source: foodworldnews.com

Birds speak like humans, new study reveals.

A recent study indicates that babbler birds speak like humans, scientists have revealed after carefully studying the behavior of Australian birds. The latter are known to emit special sound strings that can take different meanings depending on their voice modulations.

Birds are very popular for the numerous sounds they make and yet very few scientists have actually taken the time to study whether their sounds contain coded messages or not. A group of researchers from the University of Exter and the University of Zurich were the first to publish a similar study saying that babbler birds speak like humans.

For the current experiment, they have observed the activity of a small group of Australian birds. They have chosen this particular type of winged beings because unlike other birds, they do not sing, but rather make special sounds.

The first days of observation led scientists to conclude that there are certain sounds that the chestnut-colored birds repeat on given time intervals. Analyses have shown that these sounds become more intense when another feathered creature flies nearby or during feeding time.

To better pinpoint the link between these vibrations and the aforementioned activities, investigators have assigned sounds to two different categories, A and B. By studying their repeated strings, analysts have concluded that AB is usually emitted during flights, whereas the BAB model is used during feeding.

The conclusion of the study was reached after scientists have noticed that Australian birds raise their heads and look towards the nest every time the BAB pattern is expressed. The AB string, on the other hand, made birds look towards the sky every time they heard it.

The voice modulations of the birds further indicates that the chicks can also understand different meanings. The same patterns might take different meanings, depending on the manner in which they utter sounds.

Investigators pertaining to this group study have been particularly pleased with the results they have obtained during the recent experiment. They were glad to have finally proved that birds use a system of communication that is very similar to the ones of humans.

Animals’ capacity of generating and understanding messages through sounds has long been discussed, especially in relation to dogs and dolphins. The new findings about birds’ communication system, which were published in the journal PLOS Biology, contribute to the widening of scientific horizons.

Image source: india.com

New guidelines have been released just before marathon and sport camps training is set to begin in the US; they represent an upgraded version that makes sure athletes keep their hydration levels under control.

Doctors warn about the health issues resulting from drinking excessive amounts of water – mainly reducing the sodium in the blood to the level that sportspersons can develop a condition called hyponatremia.

Just last year, exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) has killed two high school football players. If you want to make sure you still keep yourself hydrated, but you want to remain on the safe side, doctors recommend you drink water only when thirsty.

Drinking in advance – for whatever the reason, such as marathons – water drinking should still be kept at sensible levels. Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler from Oakland University is the senior author of the updated recommendations of the International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference report.

She explained that drinking water based on the needs prompted by the innate thirst mechanism is the best strategy, which helps athletes (and other people as well) thoroughly hydrated and limits excess drinking that can lead to hyponatremia.

Dr. Hew-Butler added that one of the most difficult things is re-educating the general public in light of the hazards presented by excessive drinking during exercise, especially because we have been taught for so long only about the dangers of dehydration.

Hyponatremia – the loss of blood sodium – affects plenty of body functions, such as normal function of the nervous system, healthy blood pressure and maintaining fluid balance in the organism. Even though it’s not always caused by drinking too much water, hyponatremia is sometimes referred to as “water intoxication.”

Symptoms of the disease include confusion, sezuires, severe headaches and convulsive vomiting. As most of the EAH fatalities have taken place in the US, Dr. Hew-Butler thinks the updated recommendations are especially welcomed, as the marathons and sports training camps will soon begin in the United States.

Since hydration is one of the most important factors contributing to an athlete’s performance, couches have often encouraged them to drink even if they haven’t gotten thirsty. What they don’t seem to take under consideration is that such a practice is dangerous, and has the potential of worsening performance.

And it’s not just athletes that need to be extremely careful of the dangers – heat waves are usually accompanied by people who give into excessive drinking; some of them, who don’t give it a second thought, can even die.

Most people think that the only effect would be getting bloated, but several incidents across the years have shown that excessive water drinking can be lethal. Re-educating the population is essential, because EAH deaths can be prevented, if only we would listen to our bodies’ needs.
Image Source: Dunk Elite