iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Twitter's 140-character limit, which has long been the foundation of the site, is being relaxed in a move the social network hopes will make it easier for users to tweet more media-rich content without worrying about running out of characters.
The new changes, which have long been rumored, were announced Tuesday morning in a blog post and are expected to be rolled out to users in the coming months. Twitter plans to "simplify" tweets by no longer counting usernames in replies and media attachments, including polls, photos, videos and GIFs, as part of a user's 140-character expenditure.
The retweet button will also be enabled for users to click on their own tweets, allowing them to retweet themselves or share an additional note alongside a previous tweet.
Another change sure to shake up the service for long-time Twitter users is the death of the .@ convention, which is used when someone wants to reply to another user but wants to make sure all of their followers see the tweet.
Previously, beginning a tweet with just a person's username would mean the message would only surface in the streams of mutual followers a user has with the person they're replying to. When the new changes are implemented, users will be able to broadcast a reply more widely with the retweet button.
Todd Sherman, a senior product manager at Twitter, said in a blog post that the social network was announcing the changes today to ensure developer partners have time to make updates to products built on Twitter's application program interface.
"We're notifying you and our developers, so that everything works as it should when we roll these changes out," he wrote. "The updates have a significant impact on Tweets."
It's been a year of metamorphosis for Twitter. Among the changes were a new "home timeline" feature debuted in February, shaking up the traditional reverse chronological timeline by first showing the top tweets a user is most likely to care about since they were last on the site.
Twitter dropped its longtime star icon that signified a favorite tweet last November and replaced it with a heart, which is meant to signify a like.
Acura(NEW YORK) — Jon Akeda is the man at Acura most responsible for making the latest incarnation of the NSX "supercar" a reality, and the fact that he likes the word "fun" should be a big tip-off about how this iconic sports car handles.
Akeda, Acura’s vice president and general manager, and I are eating dinner together at Bagatelle, a trendy French bistro in New York City’s Meatpacking District. Akeda, a veteran designer with Honda, Acura’s parent company, used the word "fun" at least a dozen times during that dinner conversation to describe his pet project.
“Did you have fun? We want you to have fun," he asked enthusiastically as he debriefed me on my test drive.
Acura handpicked a small group of journalists to get behind the wheel of the Japanese automaker’s latest generation of the NSX -- a sports car that became a benchmark for the brand and developed a rabid fan base when it was released in 1991. Its popularity and stamp of approval by auto editors quickly propelled it to the higher echelons of the automotive world, earning it a spot next to the European exotics that oozed power, luxury and exclusivity. Acura has certainly amped up its efforts to make sure the 2017 all-wheel drive, nine-speed automatic hybrid NSX rejoins the supercar conversation and attracts the attention of those was can actually afford the $156,000 sports car (with options the car tops out at $206,000).
A racing neophyte, I wanted to prepare myself mentally for the test-driving experience by speaking to someone who is one of the most passionate and widely known car collectors in the world. I called up Jay Leno (yes, that Jay Leno) at his office in California. Leno took the NSX for a spin earlier this year on his show “Jay Leno’s Garage.”
Leno told me that the NSX was not an “aggressive” drive yet he was quite “pleased” with it. He prefers a real-wheel drive to an all-wheel drive and missed the manual gear option. He reminded me that when the NSX was first introduced to American drivers a quarter of a century ago, it was a reasonable success, though widely considered “a very expensive Honda.” It was a beautifully engineered piece of machinery, he noted, but would a car enthusiast be willing to pay Ferrari’s price tag for a Honda? That said, Leno credits Acura for designing a “good-looking car” in the latest iteration of the NSX and deems it a “value for the money” when sized next to the competition.
“I liked what I saw,” Leno affirmed. “The NSX is a fascinating story.”
I wholeheartedly agree that the NSX is fun to drive. I may have been the slowest and most conservative driver at the historic Lime Rock Park racetrack in Connecticut compared to the other journalists zooming past my vehicle (the smell of burnt tires was overpowering at times), yet it became immediately obvious the NSX was designed for performance. Its 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of torque will impress those who are accustomed to driving an Audi R8 or Porsche 911 Turbo -- maybe even a Ferrari 458.
When I stomped on the gas, the NSX proved its racing car specs, thrusting me back into the seat at an intense acceleration.
What I liked most about the NSX was its proficiency and dexterity off the track. For over an hour, the NSX and I traversed the bucolic Connecticut countryside, whipping past horses, sheep, cows and locals in their pickup trucks. I even caught one fellow driver braking to get a better look at my red NSX (his tongue hanging out of his mouth like a thirsty dog) as my driving partner, Roman Mica, and I pulled over to review the assigned driving route. Did I mention that Acura neglected, for some reason, to install GPS navigation as part of the base model?
Roman and I were able to navigate northwest Connecticut’s hilly and curvy roads with little trouble, searching for checkpoints based on miles driven, but how could such an expensive sports car not come equipped with such a basic amenity?
“More and more consumers are using their phones for navigation,” Akeda told me later when I brought up my GPS concern, and the technology in the NSX can be found in supercars double the price, he assured me. “It’s all relative,” he said.
True, an NSX driver can plug in his (or her) iPhone as part of the Apple CarPlay function, allowing access to the driver’s iPhone screen and apps, but I was still caught off guard by the response. (For $2,800 a driver can purchase GPS as part of the ELS Studio Audio Tech Package, the upgrade from the standard premium audio system).
GPS was not the only workaday amenity that was notably missing from the vehicle: Acura omitted a vanity mirror on both the driver and passenger visor (you can’t always depend on your smartphone as a mirror). For the 99 percent of drivers who are accustomed to changing gears by physically moving a gearshift, that task has been simplified to pressing a button (how quotidian).
Moreover, what I craved most in the NSX was greater visibility and natural light. I could see the rolling hills and church steeples clearly when staring forward on the road but I found operating in daily traffic challenging. I either had to swivel my neck a good 90 degrees to see oncoming cars at an intersection or depend on my driving partner to give me the green light to make a turn (visibility and perception are vital roles in keeping a driver safe on the race track, too). For this reason I would think twice before heading out to my nearby Whole Foods or maneuvering past speeding cars on the New Jersey Parkway in the NSX without a second pair of eyes to guide me. The NSX may be built for speed and power but Acura also wants it to be a part of one’s everyday routine, as its predecessor was.
“There’s nothing about this car that’s intimidating,” Akeda declared. “It’s flexible. It’s more than just for show. It adapts to what your needs are.”
The NSX may not necessarily meet my day-to-day driving demands but then again, I am not the target audience. With a price tag that exceeds an Aston Martin V8 Vantage and a Maserati Quattroporte, only a sliver of the driving population will be able to own this car.
And that’s completely true for the foreseeable future: Acura plans to produce just 800 NSX cars per year in North America. The automaker began taking deposits at the end of February and the company has received enough orders to keep its staff in Marysville, Ohio, busy for the next two years, an Acura spokesman told me. Deliveries start this week and spotting one on the road may be a rarity.
“It is an expensive purchase, but it’s unique. It will stick out among the Ferraris,” Akeda told me. “It’s for a different type of person.”
He hopes to ramp up production of the NSX soon -- once the company figures out how many it can make per day.
“We want to do more and 800 is conservative,” Akeda acknowledged. “The goal is to produce eight to 10 a day.”
The NSX will be entirely assembled by hand at its Ohio manufacturing facility and Acura has proudly crowed that it’s “the only supercar designed, developed and manufactured in the U.S.”
Akeda said Acura’s commitment to the success of this vehicle was unequivocal; the automaker built its Performance Manufacturing Center and engine plant especially for the NSX because “there was no factory in Japan or North America that could do this.” (Acura declined to reveal how much it cost to build the plant).
“We want to raise the bar with this car," he explained. "NSX was known for its innovation and it’s still innovative."
Interested buyers will have to depend on reviews and word-of-mouth to get a better handle on the car’s capabilities. There are no plans to keep an NSX in Acura dealerships. As of now, potential customers are directed to customize their NSX on the Acura website.
An Acura spokesman, however, told me he believes some of the orders the company received for the sports car may actually be from dealers who want a model on their showroom floor. Acura understands that its customer base cannot afford an NSX so the carmaker is also depending on the NSX to be a “halo” -- a driver comes into a dealership to learn more about it and end ups signing paperwork for an Acura MDX crossover or RLX sedan.
The NSX will surely draw stares and second looks at the racetrack and around town. It's stunning, sexy and confident -- the same qualities an NSX driver will feel when driving the supercar.
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After backlash over a report that said its Trending Topics section was biased, Facebook has made some new changes.
In a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R., S.D.), Facebook said it found no evidence of systematic bias, but it could not rule out isolated incidents.
“Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature… as you would expect with an inquiry of this nature, our investigation could not exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies,” the letter said.
Facebook said it would be instituting several reforms, including discontinuing the use of external websites and a “top ten” list of outlets to help pick trending topics. The letter also said the social media site would institute “additional controls and oversight” around the human review team, without going into detail.
A report from Gizmodo earlier this month said that Facebook "news curators" were instructed to artificially "inject" selected stories into Facebook's "Trending Topics" list and exclude some conservative news sites. That list appears in the top right corner of each user's Facebook homepage.
In the letter, Facebook said it would be discontinuing the process of using 10 media outlets to help "boost" stories. The review team had "historically" referred to a list of ten outlets to "boost" topics to better reflect the prominence of widely-reported topics. The list included BBC News, CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, NBC News, The New York Times, USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and BuzzFeed News.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street closed slightly lower on Monday as investors waited for more indications from the Federal Reserve about a possible June rate hike.
The Dow dropped 8.01 (-0.05 percent) to close at 17,492.93.
The Nasdaq fell 3.78 (-0.08 percent) to finish at 4,765.78, while the S&P lost 4.28 (-0.21 percent) to close at 2,048.04.
Crude oil notched down about 1 percent, with prices still hovering around $48 a barrel.
Federal Reserve: Wall Street was volatile last week after comments from Fed officials about possibly raising interest rates in June, when analysts had previously predicted that the U.S. central bank would hold off for a few more months. On Monday, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard reiterated points of his colleagues and said more factors favored a gradual rate increase, according to the Wall Street Journal. John Williams, president of the Fed bank in San Francisco, also said Monday that rates could be increased more than once in 2016.
Investors will now wait for a speech from Fed chair Janet Yellen on Friday that could give a trajectory for interest rate hikes.
Monsanto: Monsanto Company's stock soared over 4 percent Monday after Bayer offered to buy the agrochemical company for $62 billion. The proposal would create a giant in the businesses of crop seeds and pesticides and Monsanto, known for its genetically modified agricultural seed products, said its board of directors was reviewing the deal.
Tribune Publishing: After rejecting Gannett's latest takeover offer, Tribune Publishing's stock tanked nearly 15 percent. Instead of the deal, Tribune has added its second-biggest shareholder, Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Nant Capital, who bought in at $15 share-- the same price Gannett had recently offered to the publishing company.
OLIVER LANG/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- LEGO, the popular Danish maker of children's construction toys, has steadily included more weapons and violent imagery in their products over the past 30 years, according to a new study.
But the inclusion of violent symbols in LEGO toys have become more commonplace since then, with weapons now included in 30 percent of LEGO kits, according to an analysis of LEGO catalogs from 1973 to 2015.
Roughly 40 percent of all catalog pages included some type of violence, such as shooting or threatening behavior, the study found.
The changes in LEGO toys likely points to a broader trend in children's entertainment, researchers noted, where children's entertainment corporations escalate violent imagery to keep pace with the demands of the marketplace.
"Creators and producers of games and movies strive to push the limits of what violent media is allowed to be released to prevent their audience from getting bored of similar content," the study states. "This creates content that is increasingly creative and violent."
A representative from LEGO's U.S. operations noted that there's a difference between conflict vs. violence in children's entertainment, and disputed any link to violence in LEGO's toys.
"Conflict play is a natural part of how children play, and it helps them learn how to deal with conflicts in their own lives," the representative told ABC News in response to the study. "We see a clear distinction between conflict and violence."
A quick perusal of the current homepage of the LEGO's U.S. website depicts four advertisements with weapons, including a picture of a LEGO-ized Han Solo who is armed, and a knight with a sword from the franchise Minecraft. A page for parents hosted on the company's site echoes the spokesperson's message about "conflict play." (Editor’s note: Han Solo is a character from “Star Wars.” Disney, the parent company of ABC News, produced the most recent film in the series.)
"When members of the baby boomer generation became parents, some had understandably strong feelings about their children’s exposure to violence. During the Vietnam War, the prevalence of the relatively new medium of television brought the dread of armed aggression into people’s homes," the post begins.
The post attempts to explain the relationship between "good and evil" in children's play, and why children like to act out stories where opposing ends of the moral spectrum clash.
"By age 10 or 11, children will make fairly complex judgments about characters’ motivations and they regularly distinguish between justified and unjustified violence," the post notes.
LEGO has transformed into an economic powerhouse in recent years, expanding into games, television programs and films. "The Lego Movie," rich with political satire and adult-oriented jokes, was a critical and commercial success, pulling in over $469 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film was rated PG, but featured weapons, violent conflict, and notably a scene in which the character Bad Cop was forced by the antagonist, Lord Business, to crazy glue his parents into a frozen state.
Dr. Leon Hoffman, director of Pacella Parent Child Center in New York, a group that focuses on promoting emotional growth and development in children, generally agreed with LEGO's statement about "conflict play."
"If you give a boy a stick, he often turns it into a gun," Hoffman said. "Kids are always playing good and evil."
The new concern is when violent imagery is combined with what Hoffman referred to as a "culture-wide problem with over-stimulation," where, because of advances in technology, stimulation becomes too intense too quickly for many children to handle, creating an effect that can be likened to post-traumatic stress disorder.
"What happens to kids is that they get exposed to so much excitement at one time that their mind can't completely handle it," Hoffman said. "And then they fall in danger of losing cognitive control."
Chelsea Herline(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- For one California woman, a trip to Walt Disney World last month proved that dreams really do come true.
On April 23, Chelsea Herline, 27, of San Francisco, decided to try her luck with a 22-year-old, unused day pass at the gates to Disney's Magic Kingdom.
The park employees were so astounded by the 1994 ticket that they allowed her to redeem it, she said.
"[The employee] was so nice about it," Herline recalled. "She said, 'Wow, this is a really old ticket.' She had to call her manager to help convert it to an electronic ticket, and from a child ticket to an adult ticket."
Herline added: "I just went around to all of the big rides -- Splash Mountain, It's a Small World. We have a family joke that when I was little, I fell asleep on the ride. So this time, I took a picture of myself, sent it to my parents, said I had two cups of coffee and was ready to go."
Herline was 4 years old when her parents brought her and her two older sisters to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Each family member received a "4-Day Park Hopper" pass, but on the last day, Herline got sick and never used the last day on her pass.
Then, this year, Chelsea said her father stumbled upon her pass.
"My dad had it in our safe in our basement, for some reasons, after all these years," Herline said. "We happened to have a trip planned and he surprised me with the ticket. He didn't think that I would actually try and use it. It was kind of a joke."
While vacationing in Orlando with her family, Herline successfully redeemed the pass and toured the Magic Kingdom as she did over two decades ago.
"I think a lot of people can relate...everybody loves Disney World and it makes everyone feel nostalgic," Chelsea said. "It's kind of a happy story."
The Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of ABC News.
US Patent Office (NEW YORK) -- Airbus has filed a patent for what could be a super speedy helicopter that employs a unique design that includes some elements found of fixed-wing airplanes.
"The invention relates to a compound helicopter comprising a fuselage, at least one engine and a main rotor driven by at least one engine," the French company said in a filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The design calls for at least one pair of fixed wings. Each fixed wing has a lower main wing and upper secondary wing that are connected, with propellers located where the wings connect on each side. Locating the propellers behind the wings improves lift and reduces noise and vibrations, according to the patent filing.
The idea is for the aircraft to fly like a helicopter but also have the ability to transform into an airplane during flight yet still descend vertically like a helicopter when it comes time to land.
"Said fixed wing structure provides additional lift during horizontal cruise flight," the patent filing says.
It's unclear when or if the design in the patent will ever one day take to the skies. However, Airbus has a history of innovating when it comes to helicopters. The Eurocopter X3 hybrid hit 293 mph during a test flight in 2013.
iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A change of leadership is underway at the busiest airport in the U.S.
Miguel Southwell was dismissed as the general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport last Friday. While he didn't say exactly why Southwell was terminated, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Monday commented on the airport's struggle with long security lines.
"Hartsfield-Jackson needs to be treated like the busiest airport on Earth, because it is," Reed noted.
The airport is now undergoing a major construction process to improve runways and update concourses.
"Construct a sixth runway and invest more than $900 million in a new concourse," Reed said of the improvement plans. "We have a great deal to do."
Along with Southwell, the city's watershed commissioner, Jo Ann Macrina, was also let go.
"In the coming days, I'm confident that folks will make the judgment that we made the right call," Reed explained.
Google(MOUNTAINVIEW, Calif.) — Google's new Science Journal app is turning Android smartphones into pocket-sized scientific powerhouses, allowing users to conduct a variety of experiments using tools already built into the device.
Geared toward parents and children, the free app guides users through the scientific process, from brainstorming and designing a project to gathering data and displaying it visually in a way young scientists can understand.
Aside from being an organizational tool for ideas, the app is able to gather data using the various features, such as a microphone and an accelerometer, which can measure the speed of a movement and is already built into smartphones.
"You can use the sensors in your phone or connect to external sensors to conduct experiments on the world around you," the app description says. "Organize your ideas into projects, make predictions, take notes and collect data in multiple trials, then annotate and explore your results. It's the lab notebook you always have with you."
The app works on Android devices running KitKat or newer versions of the operating system. While the app is packed with basic scientific utility, Google is also working with San Francisco's Exploratorium to create external science kits with additional materials, such as inexpensive sensors and craft supplies, that can be used in tandem with the app to measure motion, speed, magnetism, temperature, altitude and more.
ABC News(NEW YORK) — Body activist and model Ashley Graham Monday announced a new swimwear line for curvy women.
Graham, who was the first so-called curvy model to have an ad in the iconic Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, appeared live on ABC’s Good Morning America to discuss her new swimsuit line, which is offered in partnership with the plus-size swimwear company swimsuitsforall.
The 28-year-old also answered questions from fans about which style of swimsuit would work best for people with either flat or large busts, as well as questions from a woman who has a tummy after having two kids and another who is short and wants to have the appearance of longer legs.
Graham, who wears a size 14, said she wanted her line to make women feel confident and sexy at the beach. The line features 11 styles of swimsuits — some of which incorporate metal detailing or Swarovski crystals.
ASHLEY’S ADVICE Flatter busts: Find a suit with a halter, Graham said. One such suit — her Espionage-style bikini, with double-cross top — would help to give the wearer great shape and lift, she said. The braided straps draw attention to the chest, and can be tied even tighter in the back to create more cleavage.
Post-baby tummy: Choose a suit with tummy control and ruching. Ruched fabric is great for smoothing and creating definition at the waist, Graham said. Her Trimshaper suit has a tummy control panel, which gives added support through the midsection. Another suit features a sweetheart neckline along with a halter, which draws the focus up higher on the body. Ashley's pick to feel confident about your midsection: Solid Control One-Piece Tank Swimsuit by Trimshaper — JCPenney, $54.99
Short people who want the appearance of longer legs: Choose a bikini. Showing a little bit of skin will help make the wearer's legs look longer by focusing people's attention to the exposed skin, Graham said. Ashley's pick for the illusion of longer legs: Women's Crochet Suit by Xhilaration. Bralette bikini top — Target, $14.00; Bottom — Target, $14.00
Fred Duval/FilmMagic via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Chewbacca mask is now sold out online after a video of a mother wearing the mask went viral.
People could not stop watching Candace Payne laugh hysterically while trying on her newly purchased mask. The "Star Wars" fan's video went viral after she posted it to Facebook on May 19. As of Sunday, the mother's video had been viewed more than 130 million times.
Now many have followed suit and purchased the Hasbro-designed mask, which retails for $44.99. Apparently, it's sold out in every online retailer, including Kohls, the store from which Payne originally purchased hers for her son.
According to its website, the product is "out of stock."
The mask is also not available any longer at Target, Walmart and Toys R Us.
Amazon does have some masks in stock thanks to private sellers. Still, the price tag for those masks range from $159.99 to $255.
In the video, Payne explains why her son won't be able to enjoy this mask, which has adjustable straps and makes a roaring noise.
"At the end of the day, this is mine that I bought and I'm going to keep it for my own," Payne says of the mask before gleefully trying it on.
She later adds in between laughs, "I'll let you play with it. I'm not a bad mom."
Macduff Everton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Summer's almost here and parents everywhere are in the midst of planning the "perfect" summer vacation. The hotel is a crucial part of any trip, and perhaps the most important part of a family vacation. Will there be enough activities for the kids? What's the pool like? What kind of food is served in the hotel restaurants?
Family Vacation Critic has just released its annual Best Hotels for Families list which incorporates not only the opinions of their members but has also been visited by an employee of the site.
The entire list includes 600 properties, so we asked Family Vacation Critic to narrow it down to the top-rated property in each of 10 popular vacation spots. Here are the results:
Florida: LEGOLAND Florida, Winter Haven, FL
Hawaii: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Wailea, HI
Mexico: St. Regis Punta Minta, Nayarit
Mid-Atlantic: Casablanca Hotel, New York, NY
Midwest: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Chicago, IL
New England: The Beachmere Inn, Ogunquit, ME
Pacific Northwest: Fairhaven Village Inn, Bellingham, WA
Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With Memorial Day weekend coming up in less than a week, long lines at airports are showing no signs of shortening.
Travelers are bracing for endless lines at airport security this week by giving themselves plenty of time before their flight arrives, or by signing up for the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck program.
Paying at least $85 a year for the PreCheck program, however, may not even be enough anymore to get ahead in line.
Officials say enrollment for the program doubled in April, with about 16,000 people signing up on average every day. But now there are reports of some of those preferred security lines getting backed up.
The TSA, which has added over 760 agents to help tackle the long lines, estimates that about 2.5 million people will fly every day this summer. TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said Friday that problems may still persist.
"The summer is going to continue to be a challenge," he said.
iStock/Thinkstock(VANCLEEK HILL, Ontario) -- The employees of a family-run craft brewery in Vankleek Hill, Ontario can soon call themselves owners.
The father and son team of Beau's All Natural Brewing Company announced this week that they would be selling the company to its 150 workers. Steve Beauchesne and his father Tim will roll out an Employee Share Ownership Plan in July, for the brewery's 10th birthday, to anyone who wants to participate.
Although the process will take a few years, interesed employees can purchase shares for at least 2 percent of their yearly salary.
According to Beauchesne, he and his dad are selling because craft beer "is not an industry," and it should stay small.
"It's an important way to protect the legacy of our brewery and protect our independence," he said.