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People hope that COVID-19 crisis ends when vaccines are developed. However, there are a whole lot of people who hate the very idea of vaccination. Social media sites are filled with negative and oftentimes inaccurate messages about incoming COVID-19 vaccines and a lot of those posts are spread by bots. But how many? A new research led by the University of Sydney showed that bot activity on Twitter in this area might be exaggerated.

Bots are not that significant in vaccine misinformation spreading campaigns

Although there are many posts about vaccines shared on social media, most of them are positive. And almost none of them are created and spread by bots. Image credit: Retha Ferguson via Wikimedia

A lot of people believe that the false information about vaccines is spread using some higher tech approaches, such as automatic posting bots. But it may not be the case at all. Scientists now  looked at over 53,000 randomly selected active Twitter users in the United States and monitored their interaction with more than 20 million vaccine-related tweets. Researchers chose the period between 2017 and 2019, which is before the COVID-19 pandemic, but when discussions about vaccines were already very active.

Although messages about vaccines might have been overwhelming in their number (a typical Twitter user potentially saw 757 vaccine-related posts over the three-year period), most of these posts were positive. Just 27 posts of 757 were critical of vaccinations and none of them were created by bots. In other words, scientists determined that bots play virtually no role in shaping the discourse about vaccines on Twitter.

Associate Professor Adam Dunn, lead author of the study, said: “The reality is that most of what people see about vaccines on social media is neither critical nor misinformation. It is convenient to blame problems in public health and politics on orchestrated and malicious activities, so many investigations focus on simply tallying up what vocal anti-vaccine groups post, without measuring what everyone else actually sees and engages with.”

Scientists say that focusing on bots in this case might do more bad than good. Policy makers should focus on education campaigns instead, because showing people the real information is more important than combating bots that don’t really do that much harm.

Interestingly, scientists also found that people are extremely actively engaged in vaccine debates. For example, 36.7 % of Twitter users involved in this study posted or retweeted vaccine content. Again, most of it was positive – just 4.5 % retweeted vaccine-critical content and 2.1 % retweeted a bot.

Vaccine-critical ideologies help people form communities online, which foster those flawed beliefs. The only appropriate response to that is education. Nothing pushed, nothing forced. Just clear facts that are easy to find and check. An not too much attention to bots, because they are not that significant.


Source: University of Sydney

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Wild West for developers when it comes to writing cloud-native apps

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Commentary: Containers ate your infrastructure, but what comes next at the application layer? A new survey points to big, industry-wide decisions to be made about the tech used to write applications.

Image: vladans, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Twenty years ago it seemed certain that the underpinnings of future data center infrastructure would be Linux clusters running on x86 “commodity” hardware. We just didn’t know what to call it or where exactly it would run.

The big systems vendors like IBM, Sun, HP, and Cisco weren’t calling it “cloud”; instead, the vendors named it utility computing, autonomic computing, grid computing, on-demand, and n- other terms. At Comdex 2003, it was reported on ZDNet that “participants in a panel discussion at Comdex agree that utility computing is more like a river than a rock, but have little luck nailing down a real definition.” (ZDNet is a sister site of TechRepublic.)

Two decades later we know what to call it (“cloud”), and we know it’s built with containers and a whole lot of Linux. As detailed in the new Lightbend survey Cloud Native Adoption Trends 2020-2021, 75.2% of respondents already host the majority of their applications in some sort of cloud infrastructure, and roughly 60% run most of their new applications in Kubernetes/containers.

Now we’re faced with another major rethink that will affect tens of millions of developers operating at the application layer, where there are common threads on crucial concepts, but everyone is bringing different and predictions for the future.

SEE: Top 5 programming languages for systems admins to learn (free PDF) (TechRepublic)  

Higher up the stack

We’ve all felt this happening as containers have eaten into the virtual machine landscape, as web programming languages (JavaScript) surpass JVM/server-side languages (Java) in developer popularity, and as serverless, JAMstack, and other still-being-named phenomena change the “developer experience” in writing cloud-native applications. The diversity of choice in the “right way” to write software for the cloud has become a bit of a Wild West for developers.

As Google developer advocate Kelsey Hightower put it earlier this year, “There’s a ton of effort attempting to ‘modernize’ applications at the infrastructure layer, but without equal investment at the application layer, think frameworks and application servers, we’re only solving half the problem.”

“There’s a huge gap between the infrastructure and building a full application,” said Jonas Bonér, CTO and co-founder at Lightbend, in an interview. “It’s an exercise for the programmer to fill in this huge gap of what it actually means to provide SLAs to the business, all the things that are hard in distributed systems but needed for the application layer to make the most of Kubernetes and its system of tools.”

SEE: Top cloud trends for 2021: Forrester predicts spike in cloud-native tech, public cloud, and more (TechRepublic)

Lightbend’s cloud adoption report highlights some of these major decision points that remain murky for the application layer of the cloud-native stack.

“Building cloud-native applications means creating software that is designed with the advantages—and disadvantages—of the cloud in mind,” said Klint Finley, author of the Lightbend survey. “It means taking advantage of the fact that it’s possible to outsource entire categories of functionality—like databases and authentication—to public cloud services and planning for the fact that communication between those cloud components might be unreliable.”

Some developers still prefer frameworks they personally maintain and scale, while the business side clearly prefers frameworks that are delivered “as a service” via API, the survey says. Namely, 54.7% of managers said it was their highest priority to write business applications that specifically leverage the underlying cloud infrastructure vs. 38.3% of developers. Meanwhile, consuming back-end services by API rather than building and maintaining your own is the defining characteristic of the emergent JAMstack (JavaScript / API / Markup) architecture that has the weight of Facebooks’ React programming language momentum behind it. But it’s a completely different approach than the old-school server-side mindset for Java developers that still rule the roost and command vast legacy systems at most major enterprises.

The survey also suggests that developers think about cloud computing more in terms of specific technologies like Kubernetes and containers, while management thinks of cloud computing more as a new way to build applications. Management tends to prefer outsourcing as much maintenance as possible, while developers’ preference for configurability over automation reveals a desire not to lose too much control over the many layers of an application stack. As one respondent put it: “SaaS comes with ease of adoption and faster time to market, however many do not understand the cost of running them at scale.”

Disclosure: I work for AWS, but the views expressed herein are mine.

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New materials help expand volumetric 3D printing

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have adapted a new class of materials for their groundbreaking volumetric 3D printing method that produces objects nearly instantly, greatly expanding the range of material properties achievable with the technique.

New materials help expand volumetric 3D printing

Using a custom volumetric additive manufacturing 3D printer, Lawrence Livermore researchers were able to build tough and strong, as well as stretchable and flexible, objects nearly instantly from a class of materials known as thiol-ene resins. Photo by Maxim Shusteff/LLNL.

The class of materials adapted for volumetric 3D printing are called thiol-ene resins, and they can be used with LLNL’s volumetric additive manufacturing (VAM) techniques, including Computed Axial Lithography (CAL), which produces objects by projecting beams of 3D-patterned light into a vial of resin. The vial spins as the light cures the liquid resin into a solid at the desired points in the volume, and the uncured resin is drained, leaving the 3D object behind in a matter of seconds.

Previously, researchers worked with acrylate‐based resins that produced brittle and easily breakable objects using the CAL process. However, the new resin chemistry, created through the careful balancing of three different types of molecules, is more versatile and provides researchers with a flexible design space and wider range of mechanical performance. With thiol-ene resins, researchers were able to build tough and strong, as well as stretchable and flexible, objects, using a custom VAM printer at LLNL. The work was recently published in the journal Advanced Materials and highlighted in Nature.

“These results are a key step toward our vision of using the VAM paradigm to significantly expand the types of materials that can be used in light-driven 3D printing,” said LLNL engineer Maxim Shusteff, the work’s principal investigator and head of a Laboratory Directed Research & Development project in advanced photopolymer materials development.

In the paper, researchers also demonstrated the first example of a method for designing the 3D energy dose delivered into the resin to predict and measure it, successfully printing 3D structures in the thiol‐ene resin through tomographic volumetric additive manufacturing. The demonstration creates a common reference for controlled 3D fabrication and for comparing resin systems, researchers said.

The team concluded the work represents a “significant advancement” for volumetric additive manufacturing as they work toward their goal of producing high‐performance printed engineering polymers, with particular emphasis on using thiol‐ene materials in biological scaffolds. Thiol‐ene materials have shown promise for applications including adhesives, electronics and as biomaterials, researchers said.

“By implementing a nonlinear threshold response into a broad range of chemistries, we plan to print with resins such as silicones or other materials that impart functionality,” said LLNL materials engineer Caitlyn Cook.

By studying how the resin behaves at different light dosages, researchers added they aim to improve the agreement between computational models and experiments and apply photochemical behavior to the computed tomography reconstructions that produce the 3D models used to build objects.

Source: LLNL


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Apple Music Version 3.4 Released for Android With Autoplay Feature, Mobile Data Settings, and More

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Apple Music version 3.4 has started rolling out to Android phones with new features that first came with iOS 14. The app gets a redesign and all the features that were being tested in the beta for iOS 14 have made their way to Android as well. It adds an autoplay feature, improved search, new icon, and more. Apple Music version 3.4 is available on the Play Store and while the app is available for free, there is a $9.99 per month subscription allowing them to browse and stream music.

The updated Apple Music app for Android gets a redesign, in line with iOS 14 version of the app. The menu bar now has five options instead of the three that were present in the previous version (3.3) of the app. The ‘For You’ option has been replaced with ‘Listen Now’ and the other options include ‘Browse’, ‘Radio’, ‘Library’, and ‘Search’. The Now Playing section now has a dynamic background that changes according to the album cover.

Another new feature in Apple Music version 3.4 is the autoplay option that is represented with an infinity-shaped icon. This icon can be found in the queue list next to the repeat song option and allows users to enable autoplay and it shows the list of songs that have will be played next.

Song sharing directly to an Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat story can be done by tapping the menu icon and selecting ‘Share song.’ In the Settings menu, the app now allows users to easily manage their mobile data. There are options for allowing streaming, enable high quality streaming, and allowing downloads while on mobile data.

Apple Music version 3.4 was being tested in beta and as per a report by Android Police, after a brief testing period, it has made its way to the Play store.

Are iPhone 12 mini, HomePod mini the Perfect Apple Devices for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.


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