A little more than a year ago, a website was launched that is designed to self-destruct if it doesn’t get at least one message in a 24-hour period. Anyone can leave a message on the website, which has spent its entire life operating during a very unique moment in time: the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. As the world slowly returns to normal, the website has become something like a time capsule of what the public was thinking during their months in isolation.
The website, which is appropriately called ‘This Website Will Self-Destruct,’ launched in April 2020 only weeks after the pandemic was announced. Many places were experiencing full lockdowns, the public was under the stress of uncertainty about how long the situation would last, and reports of depression and loneliness were rapidly climbing.
The website allows anyone to leave a short message, which will randomly be found and read by other people who click the ‘Read’ button. The website will live on for however long it continues to receive messages. Once attention dwindles and the messages finally dry up, the website will shut down.
The site’s launch date and simple design made it a perfect way to record snapshots of what people around the world were thinking during the pandemic. A journey through random messages left over the past year reveals concerns about how the virus may impact key aspects of life: health, job security, finances, and relationships. Snippets of loneliness are interspersed with messages of hope and encouragement.
There are no signs of interest in the website slowing down, so it’s likely to remain live for the remainder of the pandemic. Experts expect that the pandemic will come to an end in stages, with developed nations returning to ‘normal’ before poorer countries. Assuming everything goes as planned, the pandemic may be fully over worldwide by the end of next year.
Privacy-focused nonprofit Fight for the Future has launched a new website that tracks whether certain colleges and universities plan to use virtual proctoring software during the fall semester.
The platforms — like ProctorU and Proctorio — often make use of students’ webcams to watch and record them as they work, using automated systems or live monitors to flag possible signs of cheating. The practice has sparked controversy in the US, with critics in both academia and government citing privacy concerns and the potential for such software to discriminate against marginalized students. Still, some colleges began using eproctoring last year to watch for dishonesty on take-home exams, after moving testing online due to COVID-19.
Many schools will resume in-person examinations this fall due to the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccines, but it seems that some plan to continue using eproctoring software in some capacity. Fight for the Future says it has asked a number of colleges about their plans and has stamped each one with labels for “Won’t Use,” “Might Use,” and “Are Using.” (Colleges that haven’t responded to Fight for the Future’s inquiries got a “Might Use.”) Viewers are prompted to tweet at and email each university to denounce the software’s use.
Also on the front page is a “webcam image test” meant to determine whether eproctoring algorithms could accurately identify a viewer’s face (following reports that such algorithms disproportionately fail to identify faces with darker skin tones). Fight for the Future says the test uses the same computer vision software used by prominent eproctoring platform Proctorio, but insists that it doesn’t collect any data from the widget.
The website also urges followers to sign a petition addressed to school administrators and to submit “eproctoring horror stories” to the organization.
Shin Megami Tensei V looks like it’s coming to the Nintendo Switch on November 11. The release date appears to have accidentally leaked on the official Japanese website for Shin Megami Tensei V.
Shin Megami Tensei is a long-running Japanese roleplaying game series by Atlus that is actually the predecessor to its hit series, Persona. Many of the games in the series are considered cult classics, including the recently remastered, Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne.
The game’s website was mistakenly updated with information containing the release date, gameplay, and story details. Persona Central, which originally caught the leak, notes that the November 11 launch is expected to be a worldwide date, despite only appearing on the game’s Japanese website.
The leaked details state that the main character of the game will be a high school student that wanders into a demon-filled desert world called “Da’ath.” They fuse with a mysterious man and become the forbidden being called a “Nabino.” This leads the hero into the middle of a battle between gods and demons … a standard affair for the world of Shin Megami Tensei.
The game will reportedly feature over 200 demons, including returning favorites and new creations drawn by Masayuki Doi, a longtime character designer for the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series.
Like SMT titles before it, the gameplay involves the hero advancing through this new world by using their new demonic powers and gathering a party of demons to assist them. The leaked details note that the game will have multiple endings like previous games in the series.
A limited edition was also confirmed by the leak, but it isn’t known if it will be released outside of Japan.
When access to a popular resource suddenly disappears, people are likely to search for an alternative source, no matter where it comes from. That’s true for websites but even more so for software and apps which can carry some unfortunate consequences. That might be the case with MSI’s popular Afterburner tool that suddenly became unavailable without much warning and was, at least briefly, imitated by an almost convincing fraudulent website that could have caused unwitting users to download some malware instead.
MSI’s Afterburner tool is quite popular among PC and gaming enthusiasts who want to squeeze out the most from their rigs. It offers both system monitoring as well as GPU overclocking tools that don’t discriminate between rivals NVIDIA and AMD. Given its popularity, it’s really no surprise that people went off looking for an alternative download source when MSI’s official server suddenly stopped working.
Unfortunately, one such source not only tried to offer a copy of MSI Afterburner, it also tried to masquerade as MSI itself. As with efforts designed to hide the owner’s true identity, any download coming from this fake MSI website should be held suspect. That’s exactly what MSI’s warning is all about but, it might have come too little too late to undo some damage.
The real problem is that MSI itself only used one such announcement to warn users about this situation. In the meantime, its official page for Afterburner has no warning whatsoever and still has a non-working download button. Without any explanation or clear alternative, users will naturally try to look for other sources.
Fortunately, it seems that the fraudulent website has been taken out of commission. MSI also says that Afterburner would be downloadable again after routine maintenance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t also offer an alternative download link which could have saved people time and trouble right from the start.
India opened up its vaccine registration program for hundreds of millions of people aged 18-45 on April 28. However, most people in this age bracket could not find any slots for their vaccinations on the official CoWin website, as most states and private hospitals haven’t obtained the required doses.
To easily search for vaccination slots, Programmer Berty Thomas came up with a simple but effective website called under45.in. The site lets folks in search for places that are open for vaccination of the 18-45 age group.
That solves a major point that visitors face on the CoWIN website: it’s meant to be used by people of all age groups eligible for the vaccine, but it doesn’t have a filter to display vaccination centers that will serve people between ages 18-45. Plus, a lot of centers that support vaccination for anyone over 18 years are still marked with a 45-years-and-over label, making the booking process confusing.
You can head to the site and select your state and district to look for available slots. If there are any, you’ll see a list of places with pincode, the earliest date when you can get a vaccine, and area name, so that you can book an appointment on the official CoWIN portal.
At the moment, a handful of states such as Tamil Nadu have opened up vaccination for the 18-45 age group in a limited capacity, while other states have said that it might take at least a few weeks for them to get the required vaccine doses and open up the program more broadly.
TLDR: This subscription to AfterClick Heatmap Analytics offers website heatmapping to track every user’s action on your website in stunningly clear visuals.
This is the age of Big Data. There isn’t an industry on the planet that can’t immediately immerse itself in reams and reams of information about every aspect of that business. But sometimes, all that data isn’t necessarily a good thing.
If you’re a website owner, a quick look at Google Analytics makes the point. Unless you’re a data scientist, there’s a good chance the page after page of breakdowns and statistics attempting to document and explain every visitor to your site and their actions will turn into a numbers equivalent of white noise. It’s just row upon row of figures — and for most, it’s too much.
AfterClick Heatmap Analytics gets that frustration and answered by creating an analysis interface that non tech-heads could understand quickly and easily. Right now, it’s just $42.50 with the special limited time Valentine’s Day extra discount offer.
A picture really is worth a thousand words. That’s why AfterClick turns all the analytics data about a website’s users into highly visual representations, allowing site owners to understand at a glance what’s happening on their pages.
AfterClick tracks the cursor movements of each website visitor and chronicles their actions. That allows AfterClick users to see each page of their site with an overlay heatmap, showing the areas where the most people are interacting with that page. Whether your user is on your site from a desktop, a smartphone, or a tablet, you’ll know why they’re there — because you can see it in an ultra-clear visual way.
Using AfterClick data, sites can improve their conversion rates by moving call to action items into high traffic areas and know immediately what’s drawing attention and what isn’t on the site. AfterClick also lets you track each user through your site with the Replay feature, which highlights their entire path from page to page through their visit. There’s also Live Users functionality so you can always know exactly how many users are on your site in real-time.
AfterClick is compatible with any content management system or site builder, including WordPress, Shopify, Wix, Weebly, and more.
Right now, a lifetime subscription to AfterClick Heatmap Analytics’ Premium Pro service covering up to 50 websites for tracking up to 250,000 visitors each is over 90 percent off its nearly $3,000 price. On top of that discount, you can also save an additional 15 percent off as part of the limited-time Valentine’s Day sale. Just enter the coupon code VDAY2021 during checkout to drop your final price down to only $42.50.
Prices are subject to change.
This new book explores the difficulty of aligning AI with our values
It’s happened to all of us at one time or another — you’ve got your caffeine ready, you’re settled into your couch or office chair, and when you go to pull up your favorite website, all you see is Google’s apologetic robot informing you that an error has occurred. Rather than getting frustrated at your electronic devices, it might be worth seeing if the URL you’re trying to reach is functioning as normal or if something has gone awry.
Here’s how to check if a website is down so you can stop worrying that you have a problem with your setup.
Step 1: Open Down Detector
One of the easiest ways to check if a website is down is to use a service like Down Detector. It’s a free website that provides information on outages for online services, gaming networks, ISPs, financial organizations, and websites in real-time. Down Detector accomplishes this through a combination of error reports submitted to their app and website and monitoring Twitter and other social media for the latest info.
Open Down Detector on your preferred browser and enter the URL of the website you’re having trouble reaching, or if it’s a big site, just the name will do.
Step 2: Select the website from the list of options
From the search result page, select the most relevant result to view detailed data on its uptime and current status. Bear in mind, if your website has multiple similar services (in our case, YouTube is made up of the main website, the TV-style service, and YouTube Music) you will need to be specific about the service you want to check the status of.
Step 3: Check over the status information
Review your chosen site’s page to see if there have been any reported issues in the last 24 hours (both nationally and internationally). You’ll also have free access to live outage maps, a list of dates when issues were resolved. If the site is down, it will be obvious and you can rest assured that there isn’t a problem at your end.
If, however, the website is running as intended and you still can’t access it, you may need to adjust your settings, reset your router, and make sure all your cables are connected problem. If you’re sure you aren’t experiencing local problems, it might be worth reporting the error to Down Detector. It could be you’re just the first to spot the outage.
Alternative website outage detection service
There are several other no-cost services that you can use to check if a website is suffering an outage. One popular option is the aptly named Is It Down Right Now?, which also provides live updates on website outages and issues. If you’re just looking for a quick glance that doesn’t involve a detailed search, Is It Down Right Now? provides a running update of the most popular websites and when their info was last updated, as well as an extension that lets you check a website’s status directly via your bookmark menu.
President Trump’s campaign website was hacked Tuesday afternoon in an apparent cryptocurrency scam, the New York Times reports. “This site was seized,” the fake FBI notice read, before claiming without proof to have gained access to Trump’s private communications containing evidence of wrongdoing. Two cryptocurrency wallet addresses were then listed, asking visitors to send funds and effectively vote on whether these documents should be released.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Trump campaign’s communications director Tim Murtaugh confirmed the defacement. He said “there was no exposure to sensitive data because none of it is actually stored on the site” and that the organization was “working with law enforcement authorities to investigate the source of the attack.” TechCrunch reports that the website’s original content was restored, “within a few minutes.”
According to The New York Times, journalist Gabriel Lorenzo Greschler was among the first to spot the hack and post screenshots of it to Twitter.
The notice posted on the site in broken English claimed to have proof that the Trump government was involved in the origins of the coronavirus, and that the president has been involved with “foreign actors manipulating the 2020 elections.”
It provided two Monero wallet addresses for visitors to send money to, allowing them to effectively vote on whether the hackers should release the incriminating evidence. One wallet was labeled with “Yes, share the data” and the other “No, do not share the data.” Monero cryptocurrency is particularly difficult track, according to both the NYT and TechCrunch.
The notice referred to a “deadline” after which the amount of funds in the two addresses would be compared, but provides no information on when the deadline is. It also showed a PGP encryption key which TechCrunch notes corresponds to an email address at planet.gov, a website that doesn’t exist.
This is not the only cryptocurrency scam to have affected one of contenders in this year’s election. Back in July, Joe Biden’s Twitter account was among the victims of a bitcoin scam in which numerous high-profile accounts were hacked.
There’s no evidence that anything other than the website itself was affected by the hack, and it’s unclear who was behind it. However, it’s notable that it occurred just a week before an election in which foreign interference has been such a concern.
Whether you’re looking to protect your kids from sketchy websites or protect yourself from distracting sites while working, sometimes we all need to block a website for our best interests. Balancing privacy, freedom, and controls can be tricky to navigate.
While many laptops come with some parental controls already installed, some are more user-friendly than others. We’ll walk you through exactly how to use the settings and how to use host files and routers to do this.
Method No. 1: Using parental controls
Both Windows and MacOS have built-in parental controls that you can use, making it easy to block what you don’t want to be accessible on your system. If you find that you want more features, we’ve outlined the best free parental control software here.
Parental Controls in Windows 10
Step 1: You must first set up a child account. To do so, go to the Windows 10 settings menu by searching for it or clicking the cog icon in the Start menu.
Step 2: Click Accounts.
Step 3: Click on the Family & Other People tab and click the Add A Family Member button.
Step 4: Click Add A Child and enter the required information to set up your child’s profile.
Step 5: Go to your Microsoft account page. Select the Web browsing tab and check the box labeled Only See Websites On The Allowed List.
Step 6: Here, you will see sections for Always Allow These and Always Block These. Enter URLs for any sites you want to block in the appropriate section, and click the Block button to the right.
Using parental controls in MacOS
Windows isn’t the only operating system that allows you to monitor your child’s activities online. You can use the Parental Controls feature in MacOS to block websites, which is particularly helpful if you want to keep your kids off certain websites without restricting other users’ access.
Step 1: Open System Preferences and click the button labeled Parental Controls.
Step 2: Your Mac will ask if you want to create a new profile with parental controls or add them to your current profile. Assuming you want to block websites for when your kids use the computer — while keeping them open for you — select Create A New User Account With Parental Controls.
Step 3: If your current profile is password-protected, you will need to enter your password. Once you’ve created the profile, select it in Parental Controls and click the Web tab.
Step 4: If you’re feeling particularly draconian, you can also allow access to only specific websites. If not, click the Customize button.
In the resulting pop-up window, a section to add websites that are always allowed and never allowed will appear.
Step 5: To add a website that you want to block, click the addition sign under the Never allow heading and enter the address of the site you want to block. Now, enter as many websites as you want to block, one per line.
Step 6: When you’re finished, click OK in the bottom-right corner.
Method No. 2: Altering host files
Block using Windows hosts file
Blocking specific websites in Windows is child’s play — and usually child-proof. It’s completely free, doesn’t require any additional software, and takes a few quick alterations to the Windows hosts file on your computer. The hosts file, a plain text file your operating system utilizes for mapping IP addresses and hostnames, can be used to redirect a domain name back to the local computer, essentially blocking the desired website. It’s a great way to restrict users from seeing content you don’t want them to see, regardless of the browser and the time of day.
However, keep in mind that you must have administrator privileges to change the file, and it can be a little technical. You can always undo the change if need be, but the process is a little more hands-on than the Windows/MacOS parental controls.
Step 1: Using Windows Explorer,navigate through to the hosts file by going through C: > Windows > System32 > Drivers >, Etc.
Step 2: Double-click Hosts and select Notepad when prompted to choose a program to open the file with. Alternatively, you can launch Notepad and navigate to the host file by choosing File > Open and locating the file through that window.
Step 3: In Notepad, you will see several lines of text used for mapping purposes. Underneath the last line of text — it should say something regarding a local host — enter 127.0.0.1 and press the spacebar. Next, type the IP address of the website you want to block on the same line. For example, type 127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com to block all traffic from the popular video-sharing site.
Step 4: Continue to add websites you wish to block in this manner, each beginning with 127.0.0.1. followed by a space and the appropriate website. Make sure only to use www and avoid adding http unless you want to render the entry invalid. Do not alter any other text in the hosts file.
Step 5: Once you’ve added the sites you want to block, click the File option in the upper-left corner, choose Save — do not change the name or save location — and ignore any warnings regarding editing the hosts file. Then, close Notepad when finished.
Step 6: Open your favorite browser and test the results! You should automatically get a blank page whenever you attempt to access any of the sites on your blocked list. You may have to restart your browser and wait several minutes for the changes to take effect.
Using MacOS hosts file
Blocking websites using MacOS works similarly to blocking them using Windows. The process is free, relatively quick, and requires altering your Mac’s hosts file to redirect a specified domain name. It’s a simple process that will prevent users from seeing content you deem block-worthy across browsers, but one that can be reversed if you want to grant access to the sites in the future.
Step 1: Launch Terminal by accessing the main applications folder, clicking Utilities, and selecting the program from the resulting list. You can also do so by searching for the program in Spotlight.
Step 2: Now it’s time to make a copy of the hosts file just in case something goes awry. Type sudo /bin/cp /etc/hosts /etc/hosts-original on the Terminal command line to make a backup of the file in question. Hit Enter and type in your administrative password when prompted. It may appear as though the keystrokes aren’t being registered properly — i.e., your cursor won’t move — but rest assured that they are.
Step 3: Type sudo nano /etc/hosts and hit Enter on the Terminal command line to open up your hosts file in a nano box. Then, enter your administrative password when prompted.
Step 4: Once the hosts file is opened, you will see several lines of text used for mapping purposes. Underneath the last line of text — it should say something regarding a local host — enter 127.0.0.1 and press the spacebar. Next, type the IP address of the website you want to block on the same line. For example, type 127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com to block all traffic from the popular video-sharing site.
Step 5: Continue to add websites you wish to block in this manner, each beginning with 127.0.0.1. followed by a space and the appropriate website. Ensure that you only use www and avoid adding http, unless you want to render the entry invalid, and do not alter any other text in the hosts file.
Step 6: When finished, hold down the Control key and press O to save the changes. Then, hold down the Control key and press X to exit the hosts file.
Step 7: Next, type sudo dscacheutil -flushcache and press Enter again to flush your existing cache and put the changes into effect. Alternatively, you can restart your computer.
Once you’re back up and running, open your favorite browser and test the results! You should automatically get a blank page whenever you attempt to access any of the sites on your blocked list.
Method No. 3: Using your router settings
Blocking all users, at all times, on all browsers can take some time using the above methods. Fortunately, your router doesn’t require any external software and is another fantastic tool that will grant you network-wide control over the blocking process. Although we cannot guarantee your router can block specified websites, most routers are equipped with some parental controls for restricting website access completely, during certain days of the week, or even during defined hours.
Step 1: Open the web interface on your router. As a general rule, you can gain access to your router if you input 192.168.1.1 in your browser’s address bar. Next, you’ll need to enter a username and a password, but the defaults can vary based on the router.
If in doubt, you can check your router’s instruction manual, which should include the username, password, and default IP address. If the information is unavailable, try looking up the router’s defaults at routerpasswords.com or cirt.net.
Step 2: Navigate to the router security panel or tab that features the blocking controls. You’ll have to do some snooping around to figure out the appropriate settings, but many manufacturers label security menu items as Access Restrictions or Content Filtering.
Step 3: Once you have your location, input the websites you need to block. You might be presented with extra options to restrict the website further through other means. Make sure to click save and apply before closing out the tab.
Whatever the reason may be, there’ll come a time when you will have to put some restrictions barring access to an inappropriate website. You can unite a triad of your router, host file alterations, and parental controls to effectively block hazardous websites or inappropriate content.