Google's virtual museum tours tell you more about the art

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Google has built tools to explore art since 2011, when it began uploading gigapixel images of classic pieces. The tech titan introduced museum floor plans and walking tour info to Google Maps as well as its Art and Culture app, released last July, to dive deep into collections. Now the search giant is combining all those efforts, adding annotations to famous works seen in Street View to give users on digital tours of museums all the artistic context shown to folks walking around the actual institution.

As the video demonstrates, just pop open Google Maps and navigate to an institution with walking tours to find clearly-marked pieces with uploaded context, along with hyperlinks out for further information. Google used its machine learning systems to visually recognize annotations, but only pieces from participating museums are included, amounting to 15,000 works worldwide. Still, it’s bringing remote users that much closer to art they might never witness with their own eyes.



The 'Wipeout' sequel you've wanted isn't coming from Sony

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It’s not a great time to be a Wipeout fan. Unless you’re eager to re-play Wipeout HD through the Omega Collection, you don’t exactly have many choices when it comes to hyper-stylized sci-fi racing. Take heart, however — R8 Studios has released the finished version of Formula Fusion, a spiritual sequel to Wipeout in everything but its name. It even has a strong pedigree from the classic franchise. Former Wipeout 3 developer Andrew Walker is in charge of the project, and the company even tapped The Designers Republic (known for the iconic look of the first few Wipeout games) for both visuals and backstory.

The core mechanics will seem very familiar: you’re zipping around tracks (either solo or multiplayer) while picking up weapons and countermeasures. However, this isn’t just the classic game with a fresh coat of paint. There’s a garage for fine-tuning your anti-gravity vehicle, a weapon slot crafting option and “dynamic” track surfaces. Also, Formula Fusion is clearly built for the eSports and YouTube crowds: there’s a spectator mode that lets people watch and comment on races, and the replay system goes so far as to include a Matrix-like “bullet time” view to capture special moments.

The title is available now on Windows PCs for $20. However, the future of the game could be just as important as its present. R8 is planning “substantial” free add-ons to supplement the 8 tracks and 5 vessels you get on launch. You shouldn’t be faced with a Wipeout HD Fury-like scenario where you may have to buy an expansion just to keep things fresh.

The tricky part may be getting your friends to check this out. While the right ingredients are in place to draw in Wipeout fans, there’s no question that Sony has the more recognizable name and a ton of marketing clout. R8 does have an ace up its sleeve, though: this is likely the closest you’ll get to Wipeout on modern PCs. It might be the only game in town if you don’t own a PS4.



Sling TV doesn't want you to waste time looking for shows

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Corbis via Getty Images

Sling TV, the live streaming service that lets you start with a core channel package and add on whatever other bundles you might be interested in, is revamping its Android user interface. The changes, which begin rolling out today, will be expanded to other devices in the coming weeks.

Some of the changes users will see over the next few days include a grid guide option for viewing channel scheduling that looks just like any other TV guide. This version also lets you filter channels by genre, but you can stick with the old guide if that’s what you prefer. Sling TV will also highlight featured movies and shows that you can watch on-demand in the MyTV section.

Live shows are being reworked as well with the help of new algorithms that will bring what they deem to be important and trending content up front. Finally, a new menu tab is being introduced. The “Shows” screen will make it easier to sort through all of the TV shows available through Sling.

These user interface changes are the latest in a series of updates from Sling. The company has expanded its Cloud DVR option to additional devices and introduced its AirTV set-top box for those that still want some hardware lying around.

Android users should see these updates over the next few days, but it’s unclear when they’ll launch for other devices. Everyone else will just have to keep trudging through content to find their next binge.



Google's latest addition to Allo is custom GIFs of your face

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It seems like Google hopes tickling your funnybone will keep its Allo chat app installed on your phone. The latest update adds selfie clips so you can add a personalized touch to your responses. Essentially, they’re just looped GIFs made from a video of whatever’s in front of your phone’s camera. Allo’s head of product Amit Fulay tweeted the info out earlier today, including the GIF below. In the thread, Fulay says that the update is available to all users. Now, it’s worth noting that this sort of thing has been available via Giphy Cam before, but it being built directly into Allo (among the recent slew of updates) suggests that Google isn’t giving up on its latest chat app just yet.



The world’s largest aircraft prepares for testing

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Vulcan Inc.

We last heard about the Stratolaunch in August 2015, when Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s company Stratolaunch Systems announced plans for test flights with the massive airplane meant to help launch satellite-bearing rockets more efficiently. Those test flights apparently didn’t happen, but Allen did tweet a picture of the huge aircraft coming out of its equally gigantic hangar today for “fuel testing.”

The Stratolaunch is the largest all-composite plane ever built, with six Boeing 747 engines, a payload capacity of over 500,000 pounds and a functional range of around 2,000 nautical miles. The idea is to attach rockets to the center of the craft and then let them perform an airborne launch, which minimizes the amount of fuel they need and will help rockets take off in inclement weather. The plane itself is being made by famed aerospace engineer Burt Rutan’s company, Scaled Composites, at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert with plans to be fully operational “by the end of this decade.”



Google beefs up Gmail security to fight phishing attempts

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Google has just added a bunch of new security features in order to protect Gmail users from spam and phishing messages.

Though they didn’t say as much, the bumped-up protection is likely in response to the phishing scam that went around earlier this month. The attack peddled a bogus Google Docs file in attempts to gain access to users’ Gmail accounts. Google took measures to boost its security shortly after the incident, but the features announced today go even further.

First, Google has implemented a machine learning model to keep spam out of your inbox and to better detect phishing messages. The company estimates that between 50 and 70 percent of Gmail messages are spam and the new system blocks them with 99.9 percent accuracy. The machine learning system works with Google Safe Browsing to selectively delay emails (less than 0.05 percent of them) for added phishing analyses. It then generates URL click-time warnings for suspicious links.

Additionally, G Suite users trying to reply to someone outside of their company will get a warning asking if they really want to send the message. But users’ existing and regular contacts will be picked up by Gmail so you’re not bugged with excessive warnings.

Finally, Google also announced improved detection of malicious attachments in order to keep out sneaky ransomware and malware pushes, saying, maybe a little dramatically, “While the bad guys never rest, neither do we.”



Amazon's drone deliveries could include shipping label parachutes

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It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three years since Amazon announced its plan to deliver packages via drone. The first air delivery occurred last December in the UK and the retailer continues to refine the concept with futuristic ideas to perch the flying couriers on streetlights and deploy them from flying warehouses. In a new patent discovered by GeekWire, Amazon’s next step is an “Aerial Package Delivery System,” a delivery label that includes one of those parachutes that could make shipping via an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that much easier.

The patent documents describe a simple workflow for delivery via drone parachute. The images show the steps, which include “Pack item, attach parachute shipping label,” “Attach to UAV” and then “Drop at delivery location.” The patent’s abstract says that the system can include a self-adhesive backing, a “plurality of parachute cords” and a breakaway cover to land a package at a delivery spot without damaging it. The label may also include graphics and text to include an address, velocity and spin information on the package. The system may also include a harness to prevent cord tangling from any spinning during an item’s descent.

Whether the parachute shipping label will ever grace a box full of gear from Amazon is anyone’s guess, but this is certainly an interesting way to slow packages before they hit the ground. The company wants to keep its current delivery workflow process in place, writing in the patent that it wants any new aerial delivery system to be “preferably compact, self-contained and relatively inexpensive.” That bodes well for those of us who can’t wait to get their sundries from the sky.



Manisha Koirala takes Dear Maya to the capital

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Manisha Koirala with Dear Maya on her board has no boundaries. The diva was snapped in Delhi along with director Sunaina Bhatnagar and Shreya Chaudhary to promote her upcoming film. 

Manisha also smiled and posed for the shutterbugs. The beauty talked about life and how Dear Maya revolves around it. Donning a formal suit, this Bollywood beauty sure turned heads. Dear Maya is to hit the theaters on June 2. 
Manisha Koirala

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Manisha Koirala

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Manisha Koirala

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Manisha Koirala

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Manisha Koirala

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Manisha Koirala

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Amazon refunds $70 million your kids accidentally spent in apps

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Last year, a federal judge ruled Amazon was on the hook for tens of millions of dollars worth of unauthorized in-app purchases made by kids in free-to-play apps. This week, the online retail giant officially started issuing over $70 million in refunds to eligible customers as part of its settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

If your kids (or you, yourself) were among the thousands that were hit with unauthorized charges, you should have already received an email from Amazon telling you how much you’re owed. If not, users can also check the Message Center in their Amazon account or the specific refund page to check their eligibility.

The refunds will resolve a case that started three years ago when the FTC sued Amazon for launching the Kindle Fire OS with the parental settings turned off. According to the FTC’s suit, kids were able to charge in-app purchases up to $99 without needing to enter a password, resulting in the millions of unwanted charges. Apple and Google both ran into similar issues with the consumer watchdog agency when launching their respective app stores, but those two companies acted quickly to reach a settlement with the FTC. Amazon’s case was drawn out because the company unsuccessfully tried to argue that it had adequately handled billing complaints and issued refunds where appropriate. Apple eventually agreed to pay a minimum of $32.5 million in refunds, while Google refunded $19 million in kids’ purchases.



Apple reportedly begins production of its Siri speaker

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Wachiwit via Getty Images

Those rumors of Apple unveiling a Siri-enabled speaker just got a little more tangible. Bloomberg sources claim that Apple has started manufacturing the voice-controlled device. It might be announced at WWDC on June 5th, the insiders say. Just don’t expect to buy one right away, though. If the rumor is accurate, the speaker “will not be ready” to ship until later in the year. Your patience may pay off, though, as there are reportedly a few features that will help it stand out next to the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The speaker would not only be louder and crisper-sounding than its rivals, according to the rumor, but would produce virtual surround sound. It’s not clear how this would work (most music is stereo, after all), but the description sounds like Apple wants a room-filling effect. The company has supposedly considered including sensors that automatically adjust sound levels based on room noise (that is, it may lower music if you’re talking), but it’s not certain if that feature made the cut.

And of course, the device would lean heavily on integration with Apple’s ecosystem. You could use it to control HomeKit-capable smart home devices, and it’s “likely” that third-party services will support the speaker. A WWDC introduction would be very fitting in that case. Even if the speaker doesn’t ship for months, it’d give developers time to offer support.

If the speaker does launch at WWDC, the show could be very hardware-centric. There are already reports of possible Mac updates and iPad launches at the event — throw a speaker into the mix and software revisions might be the least interesting parts of the keynote. There’s no guarantees you’ll see any of these products when Tim Cook and crew take the stage, but the sheer amount of buzz suggests that something unusual is afoot.



Facebook clarifies its security settings to curb confusion

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Photothek via Getty Images

Facebook has picked up on the fact that everyone thinks its security settings are confusing. So, it has rolled out a redesign based on user research to bring some much-needed clarity to its security page.

Some of the changes include bringing important tools, like trusted contacts and two-factor authentication, to the top of the security and login page in a new “recommended” section that’s customized for you based on your current settings. And about that two-factor authentication option — it’s no longer called “login approvals,” because it took research for Facebook to realize it should just call it what it is. They’ve also grouped similar tools together under single headings and simplified the “Where you’re logged in” section, making it much easier to see where, when and on what devices you were last on Facebook.

Overall, the changes make it easier to navigate through all of Facebook’s security options no matter your level of tech savviness. And this follows an update of the website’s Privacy Basics section in January, which added more interactive guides to help you tailor your settings. To get to the revamped security section, click the little arrow at the top right of your screen, select Settings, and then Security + Login from the menu on the left.



Android Pay hits Canada without the support of some major banks

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You have to sympathize with Android-loving Canadians. While Apple Pay has been available in the country since 2015, Android Pay has been a no-show — you’ve had to pay for your Tim Hortons donuts the old-fashioned way. At last, though, it’s here. In the wake of some not-so-subtle clues to the launch (logos have been visible for weeks in some places), Google has started rolling out Android Pay in Canada. It should work anywhere that already offers tap-to-pay shopping, and it’ll accept MasterCard, Visa and debit cards from major banks including BMO, CIBC, Desjardins and Scotiabank. Many mobile and web apps will take Android Pay, too. With that said, there are some glaring omissions in support to watch out for.

To start, American Express card compatibility is only “coming soon.” That’s not such a big deal in Canada, for obvious reasons, but it’s notable. Bank support, however, is another matter. At present, there’s no mention of Royal Bank or TD cards — for Americans, that would be like going without Chase or Wells Fargo. Both of those missing banks support Apple Pay, so it’s more a matter of missing agreements than any kind of technical limitation.

The addition of Canadian access comes hot on the heels of Russia (which went online May 23rd), and brings Android Pay up to 12 countries. The service is still trailing behind Apple Pay and Samsung Pay in terms of coverage, but Google is clearly making up for lost time when half of its supported countries came aboard in the past 6 months. Although it’ll be a long, long time before contactless mobile payments are ubiquitous, the availability gap between services is already small enough that you don’t have to be very picky about your choice of devices.



Amazon Echo supports iCloud calendars ahead of rumored Siri speaker

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Amazon’s Echo speakers give you voice control over calendars from Google and Microsoft, but there’s long been a notable exception to that rule: Apple. Thankfully, Amazon just filled that gap. The internet giant has quietly added support for linking Alexa to your iCloud calendar, letting you add events or check appointments that should promptly show up on your iOS devices and Macs. You’ll need to switch on Apple’s two-factor authentication, but you’re otherwise off to the races. It’s a big deal if you’re heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, although the timing is definitely… convenient.

Right now, rumors are swirling of Apple developing a Siri-based smart speaker that could launch as soon as June 5th, at WWDC. Whether or not that happens, it’s easy to see this as a preemptive strike on Amazon’s part. Why wait for a Siri speaker when Amazon’s hardware will support your calendars right now? It’s doubtful that Alexa will ever support everything a diehard Apple fan would want (we’re definitely not counting on Apple Music or HomeKit integration), but this might cover the bases if you just need to know when your next meeting is coming up.



How to install Nextcloud 12 on Ubuntu Server

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Image: Jack Wallen

The latest release of the Nextcloud cloud server has been unleashed and it offers quite a lot in the way of improvements and new features (including some major improvements to the user interface). Some of the updates include:

  • Easier sharing of the current folder
  • Ability to move files through the menu rather than drag and drop
  • Secure Drop: Unique public link shares to multiple users (each with their own settings, such as permissions, password protection, and expiration date
  • Real time communication and collaboration
  • Global Shares for users
  • Guest app (a perfect way to give a temporary and restricted access to a customer or a partner to shared data)
  • Excludedirs app (enables a specific folder pattern to be excluded from being indexed)
  • Quota Warning app
  • JSloader app (allows the administrator to include JavaScript into all Nextcloud pages)
  • Impersonate app (allows administrators to impersonate another user)

I want to walk you through the process of installing Nextcloud 12 on the Ubuntu Server 16.04 platform. I’ll assume this is a fresh install of both the operating system and the cloud server. With that said, let’s begin.

Installing the dependencies

Before we get to the process of installing Nextcloud we must install all of the necessary dependencies. To do this, open up a terminal window, and issue the following commands:

sudo apt-get install apache2 mariadb-server libapache2-mod-php7.0
​sudo apt-get install php7.0-gd php7.0-json php7.0-mysql php7.0-curl php7.0-mbstring
​sudo apt-get install php7.0-intl php7.0-mcrypt php-imagick php7.0-xml php7.0-zip
​sudo apt-get install unzip

If you didn’t already have MySQL (or MariaDB) installed on the server, you will be prompted to add a root user password for the database server.

Create the database

Next we’re going to create the necessary database to create the database (and give it the correct permissions), do the following:

  1. Open up a terminal window
  2. Connect to the database with the command mysql -u -root -p
  3. When prompted, enter the MySQL root user password
  4. Create the database with the command CREATE DATABASE nextcloud;
  5. Give the root user permissions with the command GRANT ALL ON nextcloud.* to ‘root’@’localhost’ IDENTIFIED BY ‘PASSWORD’; Where PASSWORD is the MySQL root user password
  6. Flush the database privileges with the command FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
  7. Exit the database with the command exit;

Configure Apache

Now we must configure the Apache server. This is actually quite simple. Create the file /etc/apache2/sites-available/nextcloud.conf with the following contents:

Alias /nextcloud "/var/www/nextcloud/"

<Directory /var/www/nextcloud/>
  Options +FollowSymlinks
  AllowOverride All

 <IfModule mod_dav.c>
  Dav off

 SetEnv HOME /var/www/nextcloud
 SetEnv HTTP_HOME /var/www/nextcloud


Save and close that file. Now we need to link the /etc/apache2/sites-available/nextcloud.conf to /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/nextcloud.conf with the command:

sudo ln -s /etc/apache2/sites-available/nextcloud.conf /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/nextcloud.conf

The next stage of the Apache configuration is to enable a few modules. To do this, go back to your terminal window and issue the following commands:

a2enmod rewrite
​a2enmod headersa
​2enmod env
​a2enmod dir
​a2enmod mime

NOTE: Depending upon your setup, some of the above modules will already be loaded.

Finally, let’s enable SSL with the commands:

a2enmod ssl
​a2ensite default-ssl

Reload Apache with the command:

service apache2 reload

Download and extract the Nextcloud file

Now it’s time to download the Nextcloud file and extract it into the proper directory. Download the Nextcloud 12.0.0 file and save it in the /var/www directory. Extract the file with the command sudo unzip

The last step here is to give the newly-created directory the proper permissions. To do this, issue the following command:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/nextcloud/

Fire up the installer

Now it’s time to point your browser to http://SERVER_IP/nextcloud (Where SERVER_IP is the actual IP address of your Nextcloud server). You will be greeted by a window where you create an admin account and enter the necessary details for the database (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Figure A

The final step of the installation.


  • The database information was created earlier
  • The user will be root
  • The database name will be nextcloud
  • The password was chosen during the installation of the MySQL (or MariaDB) database

Other than that, leave the information as is. Click Install and the process will complete, landing you on your new Nextcloud instance.

Get to know the new Nextcloud

If you’ve used Nextcloud in the past, you’ll want to take the time to familiarize yourself with the new interface (there have been a number of changes). Other than gaining a modicum of familiarity, your Nextcloud cloud server is ready to go.

Also see

New York Times picks an AI moderator over a Public Editor

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Mario Tama via Getty Images

In a surprising move, the New York Times announced to its staff on Wednesday that it will immediately eliminate the position of Public Editor at its publication. The role will instead be filled by an expanded comments section — one that is moderated by artificial intelligence.

The position of Public Editor is a relatively new one at the venerable news publication. It was created in 2003 in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal as a means of facilitating greater transparency and accountability with the paper’s subscribers. There have been six such editors in the 14 years since the position’s creation, though Liz Spayd, the current (and rather unpopular) editor will be its last. “Our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog,” publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. wrote in a staff memo distributed on Wednesday, “more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be.”

In its place, the NYT will install a “Reader Center” helmed by editor Hanna Ingber where the staff will be able to “respond directly to tips feedback, questions, concerns, complaints and other queries from the public,” per the memo.

The NYT’s commenting system is powered by Google Jigsaw’s Conversation AI, a neural network that has been trained to find and flag trolling, hate speech and gratuitous shitposts in the paper’s online comments sections. However, the system is currently only working on around ten percent of the sites articles. With Wednesday’s announcement, the program will be expanded to nearly all of the publication’s articles. “This expansion,” Sulzberger Jr. wrote, “marks a sea change in our ability to serve our readers.”

Engadget reached out to Jigsaw for comment, which referred us to the New York Times. The NYT has not responded to comment as of the time of this article’s publication.

You can read Sulzberger’s full letter below:

Dear Colleagues,

Every one of us at The Times wakes up every day determined to help our audience better understand the world. In return, our subscribers provide much of the funding we need to support our deeply reported, on-the-ground journalism.

There is nothing more important to our mission, or our business, than strengthening our connection with our readers. A relationship that fundamental cannot be outsourced to a single intermediary.

The responsibility of the public editor – to serve as the reader’s representative – has outgrown that one office. Our business requires that we must all seek to hold ourselves accountable to our readers. When our audience has questions or concerns, whether about current events or our coverage decisions, we must answer them ourselves.

To that end, we have decided to eliminate the position of the public editor, while introducing several new reader-focused efforts. We are grateful to Liz Spayd, who has served in the role since last summer, for her tough, passionate work and for raising issues of critical importance to our newsroom. Liz will leave The Times on Friday as our last public editor.

The public editor position, created in the aftermath of a grave journalistic scandal, played a crucial part in rebuilding our readers’ trusts by acting as our in-house watchdog. We welcomed that criticism, even when it stung. But today, our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be. Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office.

We are dramatically expanding our commenting platform. Currently, we open only 10 percent of our articles to reader comments. Soon, we will open up most of our articles to reader comments. This expansion, made possible by a collaboration with Google, marks a sea change in our ability to serve our readers, to hear from them, and to respond to them.

We will work hard to curate and respond to the thousands of daily comments, but comments will form just one bridge between The Times and our audience. We also, of course, engage with readers around the globe on social media, where we have tens of millions of followers. We publish behind-the-scenes dispatches describing the reporting process and demystifying why we made certain journalistic decisions. We hold our journalism to the highest standards, and we have dedicated significant resources to ensure that remains the case.

Phil Corbett, a masthead editor, is responsible for making sure that our report lives up to our standards of fairness, accuracy and journalistic excellence. His team listens and responds to reader concerns and investigates requests for corrections. Phil anchors a reader-focused operation intent on providing accountability that is already larger than any of our peers. And we are expanding this investment still further.

As the newsroom announced yesterday, we have created a Reader Center led by Hanna Ingber, a senior editor, who will work with Phil and many others to make our report ever more transparent and our journalists more responsive. The Reader Center is the central hub from which we engage readers about our journalism, but the work will be shared by all of us.

It’s also worth noting that we welcome thoughtful criticism from our peers at other news outlets. Fortunately, there is no shortage of those independent critiques.

We are profoundly grateful to our six public editors ― Daniel Okrent, Byron Calame, Clark Hoyt, Arthur Brisbane, Margaret Sullivan and Liz Spayd. These remarkable advocates tirelessly fielded questions from readers all over the world and have held The Times to the highest standards of journalism.

Changes like these offer the strongest paths towards meaningfully engaging with our growing audience of loyal readers, which rightfully demands more of us than ever before. We are up to the challenge.