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Desert Island transforms your home screen into a text list of the bare essentials—and helped me kick a Twitter addiction.

Like a lot of people, I’ve developed a bad habit of checking social media during practically every idle moment. It doesn’t matter if I am at home, at lunch, or out with friends or family. I’ll find a way to glance at Twitter, which inevitably leads to me reading some article or tweetstorm when I really ought to be engaged in the real world.

Fortunately, I’ve been getting some help kicking the habit from an experimental Google app. It’s called Desert Island, and it replaces the colorful grid of app icons on your home screen with just their names in black text. Your seven must-use apps appear on the main screen, while the rest hide behind a lengthy alphabetical list. By stripping down the home screen to its essentials, Desert Island asks you to reconsider what you’re really hoping to accomplish when you take out your phone.

Desert Island is hardly the first attempt at a minimalist home screen, but it’s the first one that’s worked for me. During a trip to Ann Arbor last weekend to watch the Michigan Wolverines crush Notre Dame in the rain, I used Desert Island exclusively as the home screen on my Pixel 2 XL. By presenting only the apps I really needed—and hiding Twitter out of sight—Desert Island broke my habit of fiddling with my phone at every spare opportunity.


For all the iPhone users out there, one of Android’s most unique features is its support for custom home screens, or “launchers.” If you don’t like the way your phone arranges its apps—maybe the icons aren’t packed densely enough, or you want a more expansive app dock—you can just install an alternative. 


HANOVER, N.H. - November 1, 2019 - Dartmouth engineering researchers have developed a new approach for detecting a speaker's intent to mislead. The approach's framework, which could be developed to extract opinion from "fake news," among other uses, was recently published as part of a paper in Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence.

Although previous studies have examined deception, this is possibly the first study to look at a speaker's intent. The researchers posit that while a true story can be manipulated into various deceiving forms, the intent, rather than the content of the communication, determines whether the communication is deceptive or not. For example, the speaker could be misinformed or make a wrong assumption, meaning the speaker made an unintentional error but did not attempt to deceive.

"Deceptive intent to mislead listeners on purpose poses a much larger threat than unintentional mistakes," said Eugene Santos Jr., co-author and professor of engineering at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. "To the best of our knowledge, our algorithm is the only method that detects deception and at the same time discriminates malicious acts from benign acts."

The researchers developed a unique approach and resulting algorithm that can tell deception apart from all benign communications by retrieving the universal features of deceptive reasoning. However, the framework is currently limited by the amount of data needed to measure a speaker's deviation from their past arguments; the study used data from a 2009 survey of 100 participants on their opinions on controversial topics, as well as a 2011 dataset of 800 real and 400 fictitious reviews of the same 20 hotels.

Santos believes the framework could be further developed to help readers distinguish and closely examine the intent of "fake news," allowing the reader to determine if a reasonable, logical argument is used or if opinion plays a strong role. In further studies, Santos hopes to examine the ripple effect of misinformation, including its impacts.


Fifty years after the first computer network was connected, most experts say digital life will mostly change humans’ existence for the better over the next 50 years. However, they warn this will happen only if people embrace reforms allowing better cooperation, security, basic rights and economic fairness

The year 1969 was a pivot point in culture, science and technology. On Jan. 30, the Beatles played their last show. On July 20, the world watched in awe as Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the moon. Less than a month later, nearly half a million music fans overran a muddy field near Woodstock, New York, for what Rolling Stone calls the “greatest rock festival ever.”

But the 1969 event that had the greatest global impact on future generations occurred with little fanfare on Oct. 29, when a team of UCLA graduate students led by professor Leonard Kleinrock connected computer-to-computer with a team at the Stanford Research Institute. It was the first host-to-host communication of ARPANET, the early packet-switching network that was the precursor to today’s multibillion-host internet.

Heading into the network’s 50th anniversary, Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked hundreds of technology experts, including Kleinrock and fellow internet pioneers, how individuals’ lives might be affected by the evolution of the internet over the next 50 years. Overall, 530 technology pioneers, innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists in the nonscientific canvassing responded to this query:

The year 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first host-to-host internet connection. Please think about the next 50 years. Where will the internet and digital life be a half century from now? Please tell us how you think connected technology, platforms and applications will be integrated into people’s lives. You can tackle any dimension of this question that matters to you. You might consider focusing on questions like this: What changes do you expect to see in the digital world’s platform companies? What changes do you expect to see in the apps and features that will ride on the internet? How will digital tools be integrated into everyday life? What will be entirely new? What will evolve and be recognizable from today’s internet? What new rules, laws or innovations in its engineering over the intervening years will change the character of today’s internet?

Considering what you just wrote about your expectations for the next 50 years, how will individuals’ lives be affected by the changes you foresee?

Some 72% of these respondents say there would be change for the better, 25% say there would be change for the worse and 3% believe there would be no significant change.


The U.S. military is known for using equipment for decades, which for the most part makes sense as weapons tend to be robustly built, but surprisingly the U.S. Air Force is just pulling from service a 40-year-old computer product.

The Air Force announced earlier this week it would stop using 8-inch floppy disks. These have been used as part of the Air Force’s primary communications system used to send messages to American nuclear forces around the world. The disks were invented in the early 1970s and put into use by the Air Force in the 1980s as part of the Strategic Automated Command and Control System.

The news site C4isrnet quoted an Air Force spokesman that even though the system was horribly out of date from a technical standpoint, it was almost bulletproof from a cybersecurity perspective.

“I joke with people and say it’s the Air Force’s oldest IT system. But it’s the age that provides that security,” Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron told C4isrnet. “You can’t hack something that doesn’t have an IP address. It’s a very unique system — it is old and it is very good.”

The technology’s age finally doomed it as the younger generation of military IT support staffers simply did not have the knowledge to maintain the system. The disks are being replaced by a solid state storage system.

Perhaps airplanes and machine guns are easier to keep functioning.

The B-52 Stratofortress bomber entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1955 with the version still in service first taking flight in 1961 and which is expected to continue to remain operating for several more decades. Even older is the Browning M2 .50 cal. machine gun which entered service in 1923 and is still widely used by all the armed services.