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How to Check If Your Boss Is Creeping on Your Slack DMs

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iStock

Perhaps you’re one of the rare employees who uses Slack exclusively to discuss work-related matters. But if you're like plenty of people on the professional messaging service, you're not above sending the occasional cat GIF, personality quiz, and yes, juicy piece of office gossip. Depending on how comfortable you are sharing sensitive information with the same tool you use to chat with your boss, you might not be thrilled about your DMs being seen by the wrong eyes. Luckily, there’s a quick way to check if your private Slack messages are actually private, as reported by Mashable.

While spreading office gossip on a public Slack channel, even if the person you’re talking about is not a member, is never a smart move, you may think you’re safer within the confines of a locked channel or a direct message. It’s true that so-called private channels aren't visible or searchable to outside users, but if someone ever demands to be granted access, suddenly that after-work happy hour you didn't invite them to is public knowledge. Direct messages are a little less conspicuous, but if your boss ever felt the need to, he or she could easily sift through them behind your back.

If your company is on Slack's Plus plan, Team Owners (usually your boss) have the ability to enable compliance exports. This means that all of your office’s Slack data, including locked channel messages and direct messages, is exported as a document that’s easy for him or her to search through or read in full. Slack users have no way of knowing if this feature is activated unless they check their office's account settings.

After visiting https://[your team name].slack.com/account/team, check the bottom of the page for the heading that says Compliance Exports. This section will tell you whether this function is enabled for your workplace. If it’s not, don’t be too quick to breathe a sigh of relief. There’s also a possibility that your company has integrated a third-party software into Slack’s API and is capable of archiving and reading private messages this way.

To see if that's the case, go to https://[insert your team name here].slack.com/apps/manage, where you’ll find the list of apps connected to your Slack team. Click the "access type" drop-down menu and select "can access messages." By looking at each app's App Info and Settings sections, you’ll see if any team members have given the apps permission to "access content in users' direct messages."

Even if everything checks out in your in favor, it only means all of your DMs up until this moment are safe. Your Team Owner could enable compliance exports whenever he or she feels like it and read all private messages sent from that point forward. So if you really can’t resist complaining about your boss’s choice to reheat tuna in the office microwave, maybe move that conversation to a different forum.

[h/t Mashable]

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Animals
Watch an Antarctic Minke Whale Feed in a First-of-Its-Kind Video
WWF
WWF

New research from the World Wildlife Fund is giving us a rare glimpse into the world of the mysterious minke whale. The WWF worked with Australian Antarctic researchers to tag minke whales with cameras for the first time, watching where and how the animals feed.

The camera attaches to the whale's body with suction cups. In the case of the video below, the camera accidentally slid down the side of the minke whale's body, providing an unexpected look at the way its throat moves as it feeds.

Minke whales are one of the smallest baleen whales, but they're still pretty substantial animals, growing 30 to 35 feet long and weighing up to 20,000 pounds. Unlike other baleen whales, though, they're small enough to maneuver in tight spaces like within sea ice, a helpful adaptation for living in Antarctic waters. They feed by lunging through the sea, gulping huge amounts of water along with krill and small fish, and then filtering the mix through their baleen.

The WWF video shows just how quickly the minke can process this treat-laden water. The whale could lunge, process, and lunge again every 10 seconds. "He was like a Pac-Man continuously feeding," Ari Friedlaender, the lead scientist on the project, described in a press statement.

The video research, conducted under the International Whaling Commission's Southern Ocean Research Partnership, is part of WWF's efforts to protect critical feeding areas for whales in the region.

If that's not enough whale for you, you can also watch the full 13-minute research video below:

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technology
AI Could Help Scientists Detect Earthquakes More Effectively
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iStock

Thanks in part to the rise of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, earthquakes are becoming more frequent in the U.S. Even though it doesn't fall on a fault line, Oklahoma, where gas and oil drilling activity doubled between 2010 and 2013, is now a major earthquake hot spot. As our landscape shifts (literally), our earthquake-detecting technology must evolve to keep up with it. Now, a team of researchers is changing the game with a new system that uses AI to identify seismic activity, Futurism reports.

The team, led by deep learning researcher Thibaut Perol, published the study detailing their new neural network in the journal Science Advances. Dubbed ConvNetQuake, it uses an algorithm to analyze the measurements of ground movements, a.k.a. seismograms, and determines which are small earthquakes and which are just noise. Seismic noise describes the vibrations that are almost constantly running through the ground, either due to wind, traffic, or other activity at surface level. It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between noise and legitimate quakes, which is why most detection methods focus on medium and large earthquakes instead of smaller ones.

But better understanding natural and manmade earthquakes means studying them at every level. With ConvNetQuake, that could soon become a reality. After testing the system in Oklahoma, the team reports it detected 17 times more earthquakes than what was recorded by the Oklahoma Geological Survey earthquake catalog.

That level of performance is more than just good news for seismologists studying quakes caused by humans. The technology could be built into current earthquake detection methods set up to alert the public to dangerous disasters. California alone is home to 400 seismic stations waiting for "The Big One." On a smaller scale, there's an app that uses a smartphone's accelerometers to detect tremors and alert the user directly. If earthquake detection methods could sense big earthquakes right as they were beginning using AI, that could afford people more potentially life-saving moments to prepare.

[h/t Futurism]

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