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Fact-Checking Website Snopes Is Locked In a Nasty Legal Dispute

Wed, 2019-06-05 22:40
jader3rd shares a report from The Seattle Times: After more than two decades battling internet hoaxes, retouched photos, and other fake news, David Mikkelson, co-founder of Snopes, faces a much larger and more existential adversary. Since 2017, Mikkelson has been locked in a nasty legal dispute with former business associates over control of Snopes, the pioneering fact-checking website that Mikkelson launched with a former wife in 1994 and which he now runs with his current wife from their house in Tacoma. The dispute, which is playing out in the California courts, has generated claims and counterclaims of financial mismanagement, conspiracy and embezzlement. Mikkelson stands accused of, among other things, using company funds for 'lavish' vacations, while he in turn levels accusations of fraud. It has also been so costly that, by Mikkelson's account, Snopes and its parent company, Bardav, might have gone under without help from GoFundMe campaigns, and Snopes hasn't been able to operate at full capacity, even as demand for internet fact-checking grows by the week.

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Google Launches Android Q Beta 4 With Final APIs and Official SDK

Wed, 2019-06-05 22:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched the fourth Android Q beta with final Android Q APIs and the official SDK. If you're a developer, this is your fourth Android Q preview, and you can start testing your apps against this release by downloading it from developer.android.com/preview. The preview includes system images for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, and the official Android Emulator. If you're already enrolled in the beta program, you'll automatically get the update to Beta 4. Like Beta 3, Google is also bringing Android Q Beta 4 to third-party phones "over the coming weeks." The Beta 4 doesn't bring many new features -- it's more about finalizing what was already added, such as the additional privacy and security features, multitasking bubbles, and system-wide dark mode. Google is however "opening publishing on Google Play to apps that are compiled against, or optionally targeting, API 29," the report adds. "You can thus now push updates to users through Google Play to test your app's compatibility, including on devices running Android Q Beta 4."

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Apple Asks Developers To Place Its Login Button Above Google and Facebook

Wed, 2019-06-05 21:21
Apple will ask developers to position a new "Sign in with Apple" button in iPhone and iPad apps above rival buttons from Alphabet's Google and Facebook, according to design guidelines released this week. From a report: The move to give Apple prime placement is significant because users often select the default or top option on apps. And Apple will require apps to offer its button if they want to offer options to login with Facebook or Google. Apple unveiled its login button on Monday, emphasizing users' privacy and also introducing a feature that randomly generates an email address to avoid revealing the person's true email. Many consumers choose to sign in to independent apps using their accounts from Google or Facebook because it saves the trouble of having to create and remember separate user names and passwords for dozens of different apps. [...] In a press release about updates to its App Store review guidelines, Apple said its login button "will be required as an option for users in apps that support third-party sign-in when it is commercially available later this year."

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Software Vendor May Have Opened a Gap For Hackers in 2016 Swing State

Wed, 2019-06-05 20:41
A Florida election software company targeted by Russians in 2016 inadvertently opened a potential pathway for hackers to tamper with voter records in North Carolina on the eve of the presidential election, POLITICO reported on Wednesday, citing a document and a person with knowledge. From the report: VR Systems, based in Tallahassee but with customers in eight states, used what's known as remote-access software to connect for several hours to a central computer in Durham County, N.C., to troubleshoot problems with the company's voter list management tool, the person said. The software distributes voter lists to so-called electronic poll books, which poll workers use to check in voters and verify their eligibility to cast a ballot. The company did not respond to POLITICO's requests for comment about its practices. But election security experts widely condemn remote connections to election-related computer systems -- not only because they can open a door for intruders but because they can also give attackers access to an entire network, depending on how they're configured. In Durham County's case, the computer in question communicated with North Carolina's State Board of Elections to download the county's voter list before elections, which could have potentially opened a gateway to the state system as well.

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HBO's 'Chernobyl' is Now the Top-Ranked TV Show of All Time

Wed, 2019-06-05 20:01
"Chernobyl," HBO's gritty and horrifying retelling of the worst nuclear disaster in human history, has jumped to the No. 1 spot on IMDb's all-time TV rankings just days after the limited series concluded. From a report: As of Tuesday, "Chernobyl" had a 9.7-star (out of 10) average rating from about 140,000 users on the Amazon-owned IMDb site. The five-episode limited series finished its run on HBO Sunday, June 3. For now, that puts the critically acclaimed "Chernobyl" ahead of AMC's "Breaking Bad" (9.5), BBC's "Planet Earth II" (9.5), HBO's "Band of Brothers" (9.5), the original "Planet Earth" (9.4), HBO's "Game of Thrones" (9.3) and HBO's "The Wire" (9.3), according to IMDb's ranking of TV shows. (Fandango's Rotten Tomatoes currently doesn't provide an Audience Score for "Chernobyl.") Variety TV critic Caroline Framke, in her review of the show, wrote, "Rather than bursting into shocking twists, writer Craig Mazin and director Johan Renck build a steadily creeping unease, allowing the scale of the atrocity to sink in with terrible, fitting gravity." "Chernobyl" dramatizes the story of the April 26, 1986, massive explosion of the nuclear power plant in the Ukraise that released radioactive material across Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and as far as Scandinavia and western Europe.

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BlueStacks Inside Turns Mobile Games Into 'Native PC' Games on Steam

Wed, 2019-06-05 19:20
PC gaming platform BlueStacks has launched BlueStacks Inside that enables mobile game developers to publish their games on Steam with no porting to the PC required. From a report: BlueStacks inside has a one-step software development kit (SDK) that lets developers take existing mobile games to Steam and Discord. The initial launch will include several high-profile developers like KOG, Funplus, Fabled Game Studio, and many others whose games will be available directly on Steam. Mobile developers have started allocating large budgets to game development, and that means mobile games can be competitive on Steam without a ton of modification. With games like Lineage 2: Revolution and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, graphics and gameplay push the limits of what a mobile device can do. On the other hand, gamers are caught in a struggle to maintain devices that can keep up with demanding games. BlueStacks Inside gives developers an opportunity to reach a much wider and valuable PC-based audience without the need to hire a separate PC development team. Players can use their PCs to do the heavy lifting for games their phones would otherwise not be able to run well.

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Amazon Shows Off New All-Electric Prime Air Drone That Will Start Delivering Packages 'Within Months'

Wed, 2019-06-05 18:40
Amazon's drone ambitions took another step forward on Wednesday as the tech giant revealed its latest delivery drone design. From a report: At Amazon's re:MARS Conference, Amazon executive Jeff Wilke showed off a fully-electric drone that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds in less than 30 minutes. The new drone will start making deliveries to customers "within months," Wilke said, but did not provide further details. The new hexagonal design looks quite different than the experimental drones that made Amazon Prime Air's first aerial drop-offs in England in 2016 and in California in 2017. "Our newest drone design includes advances in efficiency, stability and, most importantly, in safety," Wilke wrote in a blog post. "It is also unique, and it advances the state of the art. How so? First, it's a hybrid design. It can do vertical takeoffs and landings -- like a helicopter. And it's efficient and aerodynamic -- like an airplane. It also easily transitions between these two modes -- from vertical-mode to airplane mode, and back to vertical mode." Amazon added that these drones are going to use "stereo vision in parallel with sophisticated AI algorithms" to detect people and animals from above. "A customer's yard may have clotheslines, telephone wires, or electrical wires. Wire detection is one of the hardest challenges for low-altitude flights. Through the use of computer-vision techniques we've invented, our drones can recognize and avoid wires as they descend into, and ascend out of, a customer's yard," the company added in a statement.

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'Pumping Heart Patch' Ready For Human Use

Wed, 2019-06-05 17:22
A "pumping" patch containing millions of living, beating stem cells could help repair the damage caused by a heart attack, according to researchers. Reader dryriver shares a report: Sewn on to the heart, the 3cm (1in) by 2cm patch, grown in a lab from a sample of the patient's own cells, then turns itself into healthy working muscle. It also releases chemicals that repair and regenerate existing heart cells. Tests in rabbits show it appears safe, Imperial College London experts told a leading heart conference in Manchester. Patient trials should start in the next two years, the British Cardiovascular Society meeting heard. A heart attack happens when a clogged artery blocks blood flow to the heart muscle, starving it of oxygen and nutrients. This can damage the heart's pumping power and lead to incurable heart failure. Heart failure affects about 920,000 people in the UK.

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New Report Suggests 'High Likelihood of Human Civilization Coming To an End' Starting in 2050

Wed, 2019-06-05 17:21
A harrowing scenario analysis of how human civilization might collapse in coming decades due to climate change has been endorsed by a former Australian defense chief and senior royal navy commander. From a report: The analysis, published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a think-tank in Melbourne, Australia, describes climate change as "a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization" and sets out a plausible scenario of where business-as-usual could lead over the next 30 years. The paper argues that the potentially "extremely serious outcomes" of climate-related security threats are often far more probable than conventionally assumed, but almost impossible to quantify because they "fall outside the human experience of the last thousand years." On our current trajectory, the report warns, "planetary and human systems [are] reaching a 'point of no return' by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order."

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YouTube To Remove Thousands of Videos Pushing Extreme Views

Wed, 2019-06-05 16:40
YouTube said on Wednesday that it plans to remove thousands of videos and channels that advocate for neo-Nazism, white supremacy and other bigoted ideologies in an attempt to clean up extremism and hate speech on its popular service. From a report: The new policy will ban "videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion," the company said in a blog post. The prohibition will also cover videos denying that violent incidents, like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, took place. YouTube did not name any specific channels or videos that would be banned. "It's our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence," the company said in the blog post. The decision by YouTube, which is owned by Google, is the latest action by a Silicon Valley company to stem the spread of hate speech and disinformation on its site. A month ago, Facebook evicted seven of its most controversial users, including Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and founder of InfoWars. Twitter banned Mr. Jones last year. The companies have come under intense criticism for their delayed reaction to the spread of hateful and false content. At the same time, President Trump and others argue that the giant tech platforms censor right-wing opinions, and the new policies put in place by the companies have inflamed those debates. The tension was evident on Tuesday, when YouTube said that a prominent right-wing creator who used racial language and homophobic slurs to harass a journalist in videos on YouTube did not violate its policies. The decision set off a firestorm online, including accusations that YouTube was giving a free pass to some of its popular creators.

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Up To 25 Cups of Coffee a Day Still Safe For Heart Health, New Study Says

Wed, 2019-06-05 16:03
Coffee lovers might be able to breathe a sigh of relief -- a new study found that drinking even large amounts of the caffeinated beverage won't stiffen arteries and harm your heart. From a report: Aficionados have been getting mixed messages about their favorite drink, with some research suggesting that drinking coffee can improve health while other studies advise people to cut down on their consumption. Previous studies suggested that coffee can cause a stiffening of the arteries, putting pressure on the heart and increasing the likelihood of stroke or heart attack. But a new study, funded in part by the British Heart Foundation, found that drinking five cups of coffee a day was no worse for the arteries than drinking less than one cup. The study of more than 8,000 people across the United Kingdom also found that even those who drank up to 25 cups a day were no more likely to experience stiffening of the arteries than someone drinking less than a cup a day.

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The EU's Embassy In Russia Was Hacked But The EU Kept It A Secret

Wed, 2019-06-05 15:24
The European Union's embassy in Moscow was hacked and had information stolen from its network, according to a leaked internal document seen by BuzzFeed News. From the report: An ongoing "sophisticated cyber espionage event" was discovered in April, just weeks before the European Parliament elections -- but the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU's foreign and security policy agency, did not disclose the incident publicly. Russian entities are believed to be behind the hack, a source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told BuzzFeed News. The EEAS confirmed an incident had taken place and, asked whether the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini knew about the incident, said that EEAS hierarchy had been informed. "We have observed potential signs of compromised systems connected to our unclassified network in our Moscow Delegation. Measures have been taken and the investigation is in progress -- at this stage we cannot comment further," a spokesperson said. According to the leaked document, the initial attack took place in February 2017 but it was only detected in April this year. An analysis of the hack found activity affecting at least two computers and concluded that information had been stolen. However, officials have no idea how much and exactly what kind of information was taken during the attack.

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Google Appeals $1.7B EU AdSense Antitrust Fine

Wed, 2019-06-05 14:41
Google has filed a legal appeal against the $1.7 billion antitrust penalty the European Commission laid against on its search ad brokering business three months ago. Antitrust officials found that, in contracts with major sites between 2006 and 2016, Google included restrictive contracts that could be seen as it trying to muscle rivals out of the market. The clauses reportedly included exclusivity measures, restrictions on how sites displayed ads from Google's rivals and requirements to give its ads better visibility and more prominent placement. From a report: Google is appealing both earlier penalties but has also made changes to how it operates Google Shopping and Android in Europe in the meanwhile, to avoid the risk of further punitive penalties. In the case of AdSense, the Commission found that between 2006 and 2016 Google included restrictive clauses in its contracts with major sites that use its ad platform which Commission's current antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager said could only be seen as intending to keep rivals out of the market. [...] Reached for comment, a Commission spokesperson told us: "The Commission will defend its decision in Court."

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Chrome 75 Released With Web Share API File Support, Numeric Separators and Secret Reader Mode

Wed, 2019-06-05 14:00
An anonymous reader writes: Google this week released Chrome 75 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. The release includes hint for low latency canvas contexts, files supported in the Web Share API, numeric separators, and more developer features. [...] Next, files are now supported by the Web Share API. For years, Google has been working to bring native sharing capabilities to the web. The Web Share API allows web apps to invoke the same share dialog box as a native app. The implementation brings a new method and a new shareData property. Numeric literals now allow underscores (_, U+005F) as separators to make them more readable. Underscores can only appear between digits, and consecutive underscores are not allowed. There is also a reader mode that is not enabled by default. From a report: The big feature included with Chrome 75 is the addition of a hidden Reader Mode, similar to the one included with Firefox. This new Reader Mode is not active by default and must be turned on using one of Google Chrome's experimental flags -- which until recently has only been available in the Chrome Canary distribution. To enable and test Chrome's new Reader Mode, users must visit the chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode section, and enable the Reader Mode option, as in the screenshot below. Chrome for Android includes these two features: 1. Generate strong and unique passwords with Chrome's built-in password manager. 2. Quickly look up your passwords by tapping any password field and using the new keyboard option.

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Retired Georgia Tech Professor Is Suing Uber, Lyft For Patent Infringement

Wed, 2019-06-05 13:00
McGruber shares a report from American City Business Journals: A retired Georgia Tech professor is suing ride-sharing giant Uber, claiming he invented the technology that "is absolutely core to the way in which Uber operates its business." In a complaint filed May 31 in federal court, Stephen Dickerson charges that Uber is infringing on a patent he won in 2004 for a "communications and computing based urban transit system." "The core of Uber's business and technical platforms for its rideshare, bikeshare, and scooter sharing services practice the transportation system of Professor Dickerson's invention; without that system, Uber literally cannot operate. Throughout its existence, Uber has egregiously infringed [Dickerson's] patent without paying any compensation for such use," Dickerson's lawsuit alleges. Last July, Dickerson sued Lyft in federal court in New York, making the same allegations he is making against Uber. In a court filing, Lyft denies it infringed on Dickerson's technology. The lawsuit is continuing. To clarify, Dickerson's company, RideApp, filed the suit because it "developed in 1999 the idea of bringing cell phones, the global positioning system and digital payments together to get people around congested Atlanta," reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The patent was apparently owned by Georgia Tech, but the college failed to act on it and reassigned the patent back to him in 2018.

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Researchers Solve Mystery of the Galaxy With No Dark Matter

Wed, 2019-06-05 10:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A group of researchers from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) has clarified a 2018 mystery in the field of extragalactic astrophysics: The supposed existence of a galaxy without dark matter. Galaxies with no dark matter are impossible to understand in the framework of the current theory of galaxy formation, because the role of dark matter is fundamental in causing the collapse of the gas to form stars. In 2018, a study published in Nature announced the discovery of a galaxy that apparently lacked dark matter. Now, according to an article published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) a group of researchers at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) has solved this mystery via a very complete set of observations of KKS2000]04 (NGC1052-DF2). The researchers, perplexed because all the parameters that depended on the distance of the galaxy were anomalous, revised the available distance indicators. Using five independent methods to estimate the distance of the object, they found that all of them coincided in one conclusion: The galaxy is much nearer than the value presented in the previous research. The original article published in Nature stated that the galaxy is at a distance of some 64 million light years from the Earth. However, this new research has revealed that the real distance is much less, around 42 million light years. Thanks to these new results, the parameters of the galaxy inferred from its distance have become "normal," and fit the observed trends traced by galaxies with similar characteristics.

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Ikea Is Introducing Robotic Furniture For People Who Live In Small Spaces

Wed, 2019-06-05 07:00
Ikea has partnered with American furniture startup Ori Living to develop a new robotic furniture system for people living in small spaces. Called Rognan, the collection includes a large storage unit that can slide across a room via a touchpad to divide a room into two living spaces, a bed, desk, and a couch for people to pull out when needed. It will launch first in Hong Kong and Japan in 2020. The Verge reports: Rognan is built on Ori's robotic platform, and works with Ikea's Platsa line of storage furniture. It's also compatible with Ikea's Tradfri line of cabinet and wardrobe smart lighting. Ikea says the Rognan can save an extra eight square meters (about 86 square feet) of living space. That might not sound like much, but if you live in a tiny home, it could make all the difference. The Verge notes that Ori's line of automated furniture started as a concept from MIT's CityHome concept project in 2014. It launched for real estate developers and Airbnbs for $10,000 as Ori Systems.

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Nation's Most Ambitious Project To Clean Up Nuclear Weapons Waste Has Stalled At Hanford

Wed, 2019-06-05 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Los Angeles Times: The Energy Department's most environmentally important and technically ambitious project to clean up Cold War nuclear weapons waste has stalled, putting at jeopardy an already long-delayed effort to protect the Columbia River in central Washington. In a terse letter last week, state officials said the environmental project is at risk of violating key federal court orders that established deadlines after past ones were repeatedly missed. Two multibillion-dollar industrial facilities intended to turn highly radioactive sludge into solid glass at the Hanford nuclear site have been essentially mothballed. Construction was halted in 2012 because of design flaws and Energy Department managers have foundered in finding alternatives, according to the letter that threatens new litigation. The department has committed to removing and disposing all of the underground tank waste by 2047, though Washington's Department of Ecology director Maia Bellon said the state doesn't think that is possible at current funding levels. The six-page letter was addressed to Anne White, chief of environmental management at the Energy Department. The Times obtained the letter from Hanford Challenge, a watchdog group that has closely monitored the contaminated facility. "This is clearly setting the table for litigation," said Tom Carpenter, executive director of the group. "The Energy Department is going to miss all of these deadlines." Carpenter noted that in February, the Energy Department issued a new cost estimate to remediate the entire Hanford site, taking it from $110 billion to as much as $660 billion, a cost increase that has staggered Congress and has fueled sentiment to cut short the cleanup goals. "They are walking away from important elements of the cleanup," he said. Bellon has a two-part proposal for the Energy Department to consider. "First, there would be a new round of negotiations over the next six to nine months," the report says. "Second, the state wants a low-level treatment system operating by no later than 2023, full production of high-level waste glass by 2036 and renewed commitments to removing all tank waste." If the Energy Department doesn't accept the state's proposal or the negotiation does not result in an acceptable cleanup program, the state "reserves our right" to pursue action in court, Bellon said in the letter.

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The Geometry of An Electron Determined For the First Time

Wed, 2019-06-05 02:10
Physicists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have now developed a method by which they can spatially determine the geometry of electrons in quantum dots. Space Daily reports: A quantum dot is a potential trap which allows to confine free electrons in an area which is about 1000 times larger than a natural atom. Because the trapped electrons behave similar to electrons bound to an atom, quantum dots are also known as "artificial atoms." The electron is held in the quantum dot by electric fields. However, it moves within the space and, with different probabilities corresponding to a wave function, remains in certain locations within its confinement. The scientists use spectroscopic measurements to determine the energy levels in the quantum dot and study the behavior of these levels in magnetic fields of varying strength and orientation. Based on their theoretical model, it is possible to determine the electron's probability density and thus its wave function with a precision on the sub-nanometer scale. "We are able to not only map the shape and orientation of the electron, but also control the wave function according to the configuration of the applied electric fields. This gives us the opportunity to optimize control of the spins in a very targeted manner," says one of the researchers. The spatial orientation of the electrons also plays a role in the entanglement of several spins. Similarly to the binding of two atoms to a molecule, the wave functions of two electrons must lie on one plane for successful entanglement. With the aid of the developed method, numerous earlier studies can be better understood and the performance of spin qubits can be further optimized in the future. The research has been published in two papers in Physical Review Letters and Physical Review B.

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Apple Will Permanently Remove Dashboard In macOS Catalina

Wed, 2019-06-05 01:30
"Apple's Dashboard is getting quietly removed from the company's upcoming macOS Catalina update," reports The Verge, citing Appleosophy and MacRumors. "The Dashboard first launched seven years ago with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger in 2005 and saw its final update in 2011 with the launch of OS X 10.7 Lion." From the report: The app first introduced the concept of widgets to Apple's desktop operating system and became a hallmark of OS X design for more than a decade. In particularly, Dashboard became well known for its desktop Sticky Note feature and its overall skeuomorphic approach best emphasized by the clock, stocks, and calculator widgets, a design philosophy that formed the foundation of the first version of iOS that launched a few years after OS X Tiger. It wasn't until iOS 7 in 2013 that Apple would abandon that aesthetic for a flatter, more modern one that eventual carried back over to its desktop approach. Since 2011, Dashboard has been accessible in various forms, but it's had none of its widget design or UI updated, making it a bit of an anachronism existing behind the scenes on macOS. With OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Apple disabled the application by default, but still allowed users to access it either as a hotkey overlay or its own separate space within Mission Control. Now, in macOS Catalina, it appears Dashboard is going away for good. Appleosophy tried to disable and enable the Dashboard via Terminal only for the system to show it as missing even after a forced reboot. The Launchpad overlay also shows the Dashboard app icon as a question mark, the same as with the broken up and effectively killed off iTunes.

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