Wikipedia became unavailable in the Middle Kingdom

China blocks access to all language editions of the Internet Encyclopedia

Reading time 4 minutes

Now China blocks access to Wikipedia, although previously only Chinese-language online encyclopedia publications were censored. The blocking began last month, according to an online monitoring service that runs under the Tor project. Attempting to access any Wikipedia page from a country, regardless of language, produces a connection error.

In April, Wikipedia joined to thousands of websites blocked in China

A separate group on the control of censorship Greatfire.org reported that China has blocked access to Wikipedia since April 22. Local users of Chinese network platforms also confirm limited access to the site.

It is not clear why the Chinese government blocked sites. But observers suggest the restriction may be due to the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre (June 4, 1989). The government has banned all discussions on this event. The block may be temporary. A similar situation: in January, China, without informing, blocked, and then unlocked the Microsoft Bing search engine.

Over the years, the country selectively blocked some Wikipedia pages that criticized its communist government. However, in 2015, China began blocking access to Mandarin-language Wikipedia pages after the encyclopedia website switched to HTTPS encryption to protect users from unauthorized monitoring.

Attempting to access a Wikipedia page from a country, regardless of language, causes a connection error

Last month, the Wikimedia Foundation confirmed the blocking and reported that Wikipedia is not available in China. In addition, Wikimedia added that it did not receive notification of government plans. Previously, only the Chinese version of the site was banned in the country.

In a statement, the foundation said: “In late April, the Wikimedia Foundation determined that Wikipedia was no longer accessible in China. After closely analysing our internal traffic reports, we can confirm that Wikipedia is currently blocked across all language versions.”

“With the expansion of this block, millions of readers and volunteer editors, writers, academics, and researchers within China cannot access this resource or share their knowledge and achievements with the world. When one country, region, or culture cannot join the global conversation on Wikipedia, the entire world is poorer, ” the group added.

Wikipedia has been censored in other countries, including repression in Turkey and Venezuela (Photo: TWITTER / BALKANS123)

The encyclopedia edited by the community is periodically blocked by authorities around the world.

In 2017, the site was blocked in Turkey, and this year it was periodically blocked in Venezuela.

 

Vaccination wrestlers are being driven from social networks

Instagram blocks hashtags against vaccination

Reading time 5 minutes

Instagram struggles with misinformation about vaccinations by blocking hashtags that show false posts on a controversial topic.

Anti-vaccination messages on social media are considered one of the reasons for the decline in vaccination rates in recent years, when an estimated 169 million children worldwide missed the first dose of measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017.

Instagram already bans obvious hashtags, through which antivaccination activists are spreading false information. Labels #vaccinescauseautism (vaccines causes autism), #vaccinescauseaids (vaccines entail AIDS) and #vaccinesarepoison (vaccine is poison) have been got under the block.  Now the policy of the social network is expanding hashtags, which may seem at first glance neutral and harmless.

Misleading reports of vaccination on social media are believed to be one of the reasons why vaccination rates have been declined in recent years

For example, the hashtag #vaccines1234 (vaccines 1234) does not contain anything alarming in its formulation, but if the platform finds that this hashtag is used in a number of messages to promote vaccine misinformation, it will be added to the block list. When a hashtag is blocked, users don’t get results when they search for it on the social network.

Instagram has not specified a limit on the number of times after which the hashtag will be blocked. Instead, the platform said it would ban the hashtag in case the content displayed on its page contained «a certain amount» of fake anti-vaccination information.

False statements, such as #vaccinescauseaids and #vaccinesarepoison has already been banned and do not show the search results in Instagram

Instagram has taken these measures after recent Facebook pleas. The company announced that it «is considering additional measures» to address anti-vaccination messages after concerns about a controversial topic that appears in the groups and on the Facebook pages.

At that time, the company recognized that the challenge was complex as it struggled to strike a balance between freedom of expression and the security of its users. Despite this, the social network said it will continue to fight the problem.

Last month health Minister Matt Hancock said he «can’t rule anything out» when was asked if unvaccinated children should be kept out of school. NHS England Executive Director Simon Stevens also described the vaccine’s abandonment as a «growing public health time bomb».

In addition to banning hashtags, Instagram is considering showing educational pop-up messages to people looking for vaccine-related hoaxes. The platform is already showing similar messages to people who are interested in information about drugs and self-harm.

Instagram plans to show educational pop-up messages to doubting people

In February, YouTube stopped showing ads on many popular channels that promote anti-vaccination conspiracy theories. He made this move after protests from firms who have discovered that their advertising works, along with the controversial video.

The world health organization (WHO) said that in 2019 anti-vaccination became the «top 10 global health threats».

Nazarbayev has left. What will be with the Kazakh Internet?

Kazakhstan was blocking up to nine thousand sites per year

Reading time 4 minutes

The first and the only president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, announced his resignation. Over 28 years of his reign many sites were blocked in the country. Among them are «Medusa», Ozon, «Pikabu», Reddit, Giphy.

Nursultan Nazarbayev in the office of IT-company Chocofamily

Terrorism, extremism, propaganda of suicide and violence – this are reasons why the authorities banned sites. The history of blocking sites began in the mid-2000s. Opposition editions which criticized the government were immediately blocked. However, the problem could easily be solved with a VPN.

In July 2009, the law was passed in Kazakhstan, according to which all Internet resources are equal to the media. After that, courts could prohibit any sites if they contained information inconvenient to the authorities.

In the following years, the largest social networks and instant messengers were disconnected periodically in the country. Among them were YouTube and Facebook. In June 2016, there was a terrorist attack in the city of Aktobe. Then the Internet and mobile communications stopped working at the same time. A panic arose in the city: Aktobe residents could not contact their relatives to find out about their condition.

Information about the permanent blocking of YouTube on the ping-admin site

Popular Russian Internet resources also came under the distribution. The first banned platform in Kazakhstan was LiveJournal. In 2011, the site was accused of propaganda of terrorism and religious extremism. In 2014, due to the material about local separatists, the online edition «Medusa» which was just launched, was also blocked.

2017 was the most memorable year in the history of the kaznet. Then Pikabu, Ozon. Book24 and Labirint were blocked. Resources posted books which were banned in Kazakhstan. Among them are the «Strike of the Russian Gods», «Islamic Akida», «Al-Fawaid».

In the same year about nine thousand sites were banned. Resources, according to the authorities, engaged in the propaganda of terrorism, extremism, violence and suicide. There is no official list of blocked sites in Kazakhstan, but the Kazbt project is existing. On this platform, you can check whether the site is available in the country.

Spotify enters Russian music market

Competitors are tense but feel confident

Reading time 4 minutes

Spotify is an online streaming audio service that allows you to listen to music tracks legally and for free. Now the service successfully operates in 70 countries. Daniel Ek, CEO of the service, said that the company is preparing to start work in Russia in the summer of 2019.

The development team believes that there is a strong potential in the streaming service to conquer the market of music services.

A subscription to a service for USA residents costs $ 10. The cost in Russia is currently unknown.
A subscription to a service for USA residents costs $ 10. The cost in Russia is currently unknown.

“We now have more than 159 million active users in 65 countries, 71 million premium subscribers, more than 3,500 employees worldwide and more than 35 million tracks. But we’re just starting… Spotify has a lot more prospects than you thought.”

The service functions as a cloud base and allows the user to select a composition from an extensive media library. Currently, Spotify provides access to over 30 million tracks. Users can search by artist, album, genre. All users have access to many major independent labels. You can also create your own playlists or listen to the radio. You can use the resource with advertising and some restrictions for free. If you pay a subscription, all restrictions are automatically removed.

In Russia, users have long been waiting for Spotify. The service planned to start work here in 2014 and even registered the legal brand LLC Spotify in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities. However, the introduction of the Register was not a guarantee of launch. According to some sources, there were several obstacles to entering the market: the economic crisis, changes at the legislative level, requirements for the storage of users’ personal data, conflicts and disagreements with certain organizations and individuals.

Sberbank CIB analysts have already warned that Spotify will have a significant impact on the Russian music market. But his direct competitors (Yandex.Music and VKontakte (together with BOOM)) noted that they are not afraid of the appearance of a new player on the market and see their competitive advantages over Spotify.

Not only Yandex.Music and VKontakte become competitors. Do not forget about Apple Music and Google Music.
Not only Yandex.Music and VKontakte become competitors. Do not forget about Apple Music and Google Music.

“The growth of the market of legal audio services will be 20–30% per year, Spotify will make a significant contribution to this growth if it starts working in Russia,” said Alexandra Nosach, head of the licensing department for music and video content at Black Star Inc.

James Gunn returns to the director’s chair for «Guardians of the Galaxy 3»

The director gets rehired after being fired for his scandalous tweets

Reading time 4 minutes

According to the report from Deadline, the company decided to reemploy Gunn several months ago. Alan Horn, the Walt Disney Studios president, was meeting with James and Marvel representatives in order to discuss the project. Gunn publicly apologized for his controversial  statements in Twitter. Consequently, Horn let him to film the third part of «Guardians of the Galaxy».

Съемки фильма должны были начаться в начале 2019 года. Однако из-за увольнения Джеймса Ганна с поста режиссера проект заморозили
Shootings were to start in the beginning of 2019. However, when the director was fired, the project got frozen

It all started in July 2018. At that time James Gunn was accused of his offensive tweets that he had been publishing from 2008 to 2011. The director joked about AIDS, violence and pedophilia. Gunn wrote that he was laughing at sick people, because laugh is the greatest remedy. In addition, he said that he did not mind violence and cannibalism when someone is really hungry. Then, Disney announced that James’s views were contrary to the values of the studio. That is how tha company broke all ties with the director.

Подборка оскорбительных твитов Джеймса Ганна
Some of Gunn’s offensive tweets

But how did it occur that the last tweet of that kind he had written in 2011, and got caught only in 2018? It’s pretty simple: Gunn’s account was full of not only jokes, but also criticism. Through Twitter, he judged Ben Shapiro, an editor of a conservative political website Breitbart. It got noticed by The Daily Caller website, where its representatives did not like Gunn’s comments. They decided to dig deeper and read the director’s old tweets. There the dirt got revealed.

James Gunn accepted his suspension with understanding and admitted his mistakes. First of all, the director had deleted all tweets with offensive jokes. And then, he blocked his account, however, it got reactivated soon. Gunn confessed that he had been trying to maintain the image of provocator through his statements. He also declared that had changed since then.

«Guardians of the Galaxy» decided to support the director as well. Gunn’s fans signed the petition, which called for permission for the director to return to work on the film.

Открытое письмо
Signatures of the cast in the open letter in the director’s defence

It all ended where it had started: the director confirmed the news of his return in Twitter. He will film the third part of the blockbuster after the shooting of «Suicide Squad 2». It was impossible to find a replacement for him, despite all the attempts. The third part of «Guardians of the Galaxy» will be filmed by the same director who had shot the first two — James Gunn.

Джеймс Ганн с кастом «Стражей Галактики»
James Gunn with the cast of «Guardians of the Galaxy»

10 life hacks for working in Google Docs

Useful features of cloud editor that you might not know

Reading time 5 minutes

Google Drive is used not only to store files, but also to create documents online. Editor Google Docs has a number of useful features that you might not know about – the text editor keeps many secrets. We talk about the chips and tricks of Google Docs.

Mentions

Google Docs allows you to work on one document together. In order for a person to quickly respond to your question, just put “+ “and select the desired nickname.

Built-in dictionary

You can open a whole dictionary, using the key combination Ctrl+Shift+Y in the text editor. Here you will find the interpretation of the highlighted word, you can clarify the correct accent and gender, in order to avoid mistakes in the text.

Automatic text recognition

The service can recognize printed text in PDF files and images. Right-click on the Open with Google Docs feature. The editor automatically recognizes the text and immediately creates a copy of the document.

Document converter

Any driver’s document can be saved in different formats: Microsoft Word, PDF, TXT or a web-page with HTML-code. Click the Save As button in the File section and select the desired format.

Offline save

Despite the fact that Google Docs is an online text editor, you can work in offline mode here. Just select the checkbox Save documents to this computer … in the settings in order to work without connecting to the Internet. Before you start editing the file, make sure that there is enough memory on your device to save the document.

Advanced Search

In the Tools is hiding another useful feature — Advanced search. It is very easy to lose important data here. The search takes place in your driver’s documents and on the Internet. The function is especially useful if you are looking for pictures on the network — all in one place, you do not need to constantly switch between tabs.

AutoCorrect

In the settings you can adjust the automatic replacement. Google Docs can replace direct quotes with pairs, automatically detect links, recognize lists and suggest contacts in the comments. You can also add additional options and hotkeys.

Instant translation

There is an automatic translation via Google Translate. Simply select a language, and the text editor will save the translated copy of the document on the driver.

Smart link adding

Even if you do not know the exact address of the link, Google Docs will help you find the right resource. Select the desired phrase or enter it in the search bar, using the Ctrl+K command. The service will offer you options for suitable links.

Voice input

You can enter text, edit it, write comments and tips to the document using voice input. To have Google Docs record your speech, turn on the microphone on your computer or phone. Speak clearly and separately. Do not be surprised if errors are found in the text: the program recognizes Russian speech much worse than English.

Say «No» to dull! slides! Online services will help to make your report more interesting

A selection of free programs for interactive and animated presentations

Reading time 5 minutes

The success of any presentation depends not only on the idea, but also on the visual design of the presentation. Dynamic effects and animation can attract the viewer’s attention. We share a selection of free services with which you can create interactive presentations.

Prezi

This cloud service allows you to create an interface of a non-linear presentation-a kind of interactive map. All the material is placed not on the usual slides, but on the whole canvas, where you can somehow arrange the inscriptions, pictures, stickers and other objects. Due to the non-linear system in Prezi it is much easier to work with the structure than in standard PowerPoint: at any time, you can return to the passed fragment and change the scale of the workspace.

You can create a presentation from scratch or use one of thousands of customizable web templates. Any element can be replaced — you get only the shell, but you decide what to fill it with. To see what the final presentation will look like, click the Present button in the top corner.

The service supports collective work on presentations, posting projects in blogs, social networks and other Internet resources.

The free version has several limitations: all created publications are available only to users of the service, the presentation cannot be downloaded to a computer — only online viewing is available.

You can sign up for Prezi using your email address or Facebook account.

Slides

You can also create non-linear presentations with Slides online. The service workspace is divided into zones, and all interactive transitions and animations occur between layers.

Projects are created with embedded HTML code, so they can be read on any device. In addition, the service allows you to download HTML-file and any content from the Internet to the project. Slides provides all users with free access to the library, where the pictures and fonts are sorted by tags.

Presentations that are created in Slides are stored on cloud servers and are available for online viewing. You can save a project in PDF format only when you connect a subscription. To save your online presentation to storage, you’ll need to sync it to your Dropbox account.

Powtoon

Powtoon is designed to create animated presentations. The main feature of the service is that the project can be saved in the format of a video or individual static slides.

Powtoon has a large library of multi-format templates: infographics, animation and comics, black and white graphics and business office presentations. All ready-made elements can be edited using the service tools. In addition, the program provides many creative possibilities: audio overlay, visual effects, creating stickers, logos, interactive charts and diagrams.

The free version of the program has limitations: a video no longer than 5 minutes, a Powtoon watermark on the presentation, export of 30 projects. The service does not allow you to download presentations directly to your computer, but the video can be placed on an Internet platform, such as Youtube, and download from there. Ready-made presentations are placed on any websites and blogs using HTML-code.

Russians who impressed the Eurovision

The most successful performances from Russian artists at the European song contest

Reading time 7 minutes

Sergey Lazarev will be representing Russia at the Eurovision at Tel Aviv for the second time. This Russian artist won the public vote, but based on the results of overall scoring he took the third place in 2016. The European audience was moved by his song «You Are The Only One» and the breathtaking performance with 3D projection. Now, everyone bode him the the success of another artist, Dima Bilan, who managed to win a Crystal microphone with the second attempt.

Which other artists from Russia achieved success and claimed the first place in the main European song contest?

Сергей Лазарев
Sergey Lazarev will be representing Russia at the Eurovision again
Alsou «Solo» (2000) — 2nd place
Алсу
Alsou became the first Russian representative to take a prize place

The first one to have an impact on Europe was sixteen year old Alsou, the youngest contestant in the history of this show, with the song «Solo». Originally, «Solo» was made for male vocals, but the artist was so imbued with the song, so she choose it. The authors, Andrew Lane and Brandon Barnes, corrected the song for the young singer, and she went to thrill Europe. Alsou won the second place, what became a real triumph for Russia.

Tatu «Don’t believe, don’t be afraid, don’t ask» (2003) — 3rd place
Тату
Tatu believed in their victory until the end, but took only the third place

The third place was accepted with disappointment. In 2003 the duo actively transferred from Russia to Europe and held a leading position in the charts of many countries of the continent. So the girls were one of the favorite contestants on the show. Julia Volkova and Lena Katina wore shirts with number one, because they were sure in their victory. However, Tatu took the third place, lagging behind the leaders only by 1 and 3 points. Many people assume that their Russian song «Don’t believe, don’t be afraid, don’t ask» was not understood by the European audience.

Serebro «Song #1» (2007) — 3rd place
Serebro
Serebro became a real  discovery of Eurovision

The group’s debut with their «Song #1» took place at “Eurovision-2007”. The unknown trio of Maxim Fadeev was the winner of the national contest. People did not pin their hopes on inexperienced girls, but they brilliantly performed at the final and took the honorable third place.

Polina Gagarina «Million voices» (2015) — 2nd place
Полина Гагарина
Polina Gagarina’s performance turned into a magic fairytale

Polina Gagarina was representing Russian at the Eurovision with the composition «Million voices» which was written by five authors from different countries. The song is about intolerance to the division of people, the importance of love and peace between them. The magnificent dress of the artist became a part of the projected starry sky. Her performance is considered one of the most memorable performances in the history of the Eurovision. During the show, Gagarina was a leader, but lost the victory to the Swedish representative in the final.

Dima Bilan «Never let you go» (2006), «Believe» (2008) — 2nd and 1st places
Дима Билан, Евгений Плющенко и Эдвин Мартон
Dima Bilan brought Russia the only one victory at Eurovision

Dima Bilan was able to impress the Eurovision twice. The first time, in 2006, the artist with the song «Never let you go» took the second place, giving up the victory to a Finnish hard rock band «Lordi». Ballerinas took part in the performance, and one of them appeared in rose petals from the piano in the middle of the song. In his performance, Bilan did his signature jump for the first time, which became the singer’s hallmark.

Dima Bilan managed to win a Crystal microphone with the second attempt. He also brought Eurovision to Russia for the first time in the history of the show. Together with the figure skater Evgeni Plushenko and the violinist Edvin Marton, the artist created a performance for his song «Believe». Putting his health in danger, Bilan performed barefoot on ice while the famous skater could hurt the singer in any time. But the performance was impeccable and very sensual, which touched both the jury and the audience.The outcome was the first and so far the only Russian victory at Eurovision.

Balenciaga and Farfetch collaborated to save animals

The brands will donate a part of their profit from a new collection to The International Union for Conservation of Nature

Reading time 4 minutes

Balenciaga fashion house released a new collection for e-tailer Farfetch dedicated to rare animal species. The main goal of this collaboration between the famous French brand and the biggest online platform is to demonstrate endangered species.

New collection from Balenciaga

This exclusive capsule collection consists of clothes, shoes, and accessories for men, women, and children. The clothes are illustrated with Large Pandas, Asian Elephants, North White Rhinoceros and Blue Whales — these species are threatened with extinction right now. While creating this limited edition, the brand did not use leather, fur and down materials. The collection is also complimented by popular models presented in new colors and materials.

A North White Rhinoceros on a shirt from Balenciaga

A presentation of the new clothing line played a big role for Balenciaga fashion house. For the lookbook, two leading luxury companies decided to hold a creative photoshoot. The models were photographed with natural landscapes on the background — this way the designers wanted to stress the acute problem of preserving the environment. To make the album for the collection, the brand blurred the background on all photos in order to emphasise the fragility of nature. While the rare representatives of fauna are depicted clearly.

The lookbook of the exclusive collection from Balenciaga

The fashion house expresses its concern with the current ecological situation. CEO of the label, Cédric Charbit, encourages all fashion connoisseurs to support organizations aiming to save rare animal species. A part of a profit from sales of the limited collection will be donated to The International Union for Conservation of Nature — the Swiss charity organization. Moreover, Cédric Charbit mentioned that Balenciaga shares with the organization the same values.

The lookbook of the exclusive collection from Balenciaga

According to José Neves, the founder of Farfetch, the brand Balenciaga is very popular among users of the online platform. He considers this partnership pretty advantageous, because it will bring new clients. The e-tailer represented exclusive wear which can be purchased only through the company’s web site.

QWERTY – familiar and mysterious

Where the popular keyboard layout came from, and why it doesn’t yield to competitors

Reading time 4 minutes

The name of this keyboard layout came from the first six letters of the top row. QWERTY-keyboard originates in the era of typewriters.

The creation history of the familiar layout is not clear enough
The creation history of the familiar layout is not clear enough

Christopher Sholes, an elaborator of the first typewriters, determined to distribute keys in the simple alphabetical order. However, with an increase of the typematic speed professionals began to encounter a number of problems. For instance, the levers of the letters situated close to each other scraped and sticked with the rapid pushing. By trial and error and constant layout modernization the legendary typewriter «Remington 1» was finally launched. Its keyboard became the prototype of all contemporary ones. The blind method of the typemate, which became popular after typing competitions, helped in promotion of this keyboard layout. Edgar McGurrin, the court secretary, won over another contestant. When the winner was asked about the reasons of his triumph, he said he had typed with ten fingers without looking at the keyboard. His rival typed with only eight fingers staring at the keys, and this method considerably decreased typematic speed. Nowadays, one and a half century later, there are some courses where you can learn the blind way of working on the keyboard.

Why we love QWERTY so much when we are able to switch to other layouts?

Nevertheless, today there are disputes about effectiveness of QWERTY-layout. There were some attempts to supplant familiar layout on more ergonomic one. In 1936 university professor August Dvorak noticed a great number of typos in the work of one of his students. At that time the thought had come to his mind – to invent an absolutely new type of latin keyboard based on more convenient position of vowel and consonant letters. After it in the beginning of the XXI century DVORAK-layout was elaborated by Shay Coleman and obtain the name Colemak. As some studies claimed, these layout types enable to work 2-3 times faster. However, QWERTY doesn’t give in to more contemporary rivals, although every user can switch between layouts with the help of several mouse clicks.