Tag Archives: more

The Apocalypticon ~ Flights of disfancy, loneliness bots, bad oil, machines, algorithms, IBM surveillance, cats and more


Scary flights — A flight that had left Dubai in the United Arab Emirates landed at JFK International Airport in New York on September 5th with 549 passengers and crew on board. It was promptly quarantined due to a mysterious ailment spreading throughout the cabin. In the neighbourhood of 100 people on board showed symptoms including coughing, fever and vomiting, though only 11 ended up being taken to hospitals for evaluation. And one of those passengers was Vanilla Ice! [Actually, his real name is ‘Robert Matthew Van Winkle’ – why did he even want a stage name?] But we still don’t really know what that illness was …
Talking about ice — Since it snapped off the Larsen C ice shelf in July 2017, the trillion-tonne iceberg known as A68 has spent most of its time stuck in the mud. Now, new satellite data reveals that the ‘berg made its biggest move yet over the austral winter — a dramatic counterclockwise rotation that shows no signs of stopping.
Flights of fancy — President Trump, who was bombarded with negative news cycles last month, naturally turned to Twitter, venting frustrations and dismissing an increasingly wide variety of things he doesn’t like as “fake” or “phony.” [I hereby coin Megamaniacal’. Thank you.]
And, this time from Huawei — UL, the company behind the tablet and phone performance benchmark app 3DMark, has delisted new Huawei phones from its Best Smartphone leaderboard after AnandTech discovered the phone maker was boosting its performance to ace the app’s test

Australia does not actually have Free Speech — That’s right. Many Australians don’t appear to realise free speech is not a legal right they hold. [Although the right, apparently, to be terrified of a few desperate refugees remains unassailable.]
Oh, you think I hold a grudge? We humans are masters of resentment. This characteristic can be traced back the beginnings of recorded history. Feuds seem to be an indelible aspect of the human condition, but why should this be? Gizmodo spoke to the experts to find out why we love to hold a grudge, and the importance of letting go.
But there are loneliness bots — Internet-connected robots that can stream audio and video are increasingly helping housebound sick children and elderly people keep in touch with teachers, family and friends, combating the scourge of isolation and loneliness. [Soon we’ll be saying ‘there’s a bot for that’ …]

Speaking of machines … At its 60th anniversary conference on Friday, DARPA announced a $2 billion investment to push the frontier of AI forward. DARPA’s investment will focus on creating systems with common sense, contextual awareness and better energy efficiency. Advances could help the government automate security clearances, accredit software systems and make AI systems that explain themselves. [All the better to kill us with.]
And most of us don’t understand algorithms — just to make it worse, algorithms beget ever more algorithms, just to make it that much harder.
Trust them? Sure … Nearly three-quarters of American Facebook users have changed how they use the social media app in the past year, following a barrage of scandals involving the abuse of personal data, foreign interference in US elections and the spread of hateful or harassing content on the platform. One in four Americans have deleted it altogether.
IBM surveillance targets skin colour — Just when you were thinking things couldn’t get worse [I know, no one ever thinks that], three months after the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that Amazon provided facial recognition technology to local law enforcement, a new report by The Intercept says IBM has collaborated with the New York City Police Department to develop a system that allowed officials to search for people by skin colour, hair colour, gender, age, and various facial features. [In other words, a system to do cop discrimination for the cops.]

The bad oil — Roughly 45% of an average American’s calories come from refined oils. Consuming too much plant-based oil can result in fatty liver disease, insulin resistance and migraines. Here’s what’s best and worst.
And your cat may hate you — or at least be, pretty justifiably, just be really scared of you.
But can we solve the refugee crisis? Der Spiegel thinks so … maybe

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Five Tip Friday ~ New gestures, modes, Apple Watch and more


1/ Use one-handed zoom in iOS 11’s Maps — As you may know, we’ve long had the ability to double-tap on the Maps screen (and elsewhere around iOS) to zoom in. Each double tap brings you closer to the point on the map you’re focused on until you can zoom in no more.
You can also use the pinch-to-zoom method, but iOS 11’s got a great new zooming feature for one-handed iPhone users; this lets you zoom in easily without juggling the device or endlessly double-tapping the screen. What you’ll do is double-tap but hold on the second tap, then when you drag that finger up and down on the screen, you zoom in and out. Drag up to get closer and down to pull farther out.
This works on any iDevice running iOS 11, and it’s worth practising and getting used to, as it’s really useful, but, for big spenders, there’s a similar gesture …

2/ Use fast app switching on the iPhone X — The iPhone X doesn’t have a Home button, so there’s a new way to use fast app switching.  To see the App Switcher on the next gen iPhone, you swipe up from the bottom of its screen and pause while still touching the display. When the App Switcher appears, you can lift your finger. Now you can swipe right or left to switch back and forth between apps.

(Image from this tip’s source at the Mac Observer)

3/ Create an Ultra Low Power Mode on iPhone X — Now that there’s an iPhone with an OLED screen, battery juice can be saved by even using black wallpapers. But you can go further. Even though iOS already has a Low Power Mode, there are additional settings to tweak for create an Ultra Low Power Mode.
Apple has provided a pure black wallpaper as a default: Settings>Wallpaper>Choose a New Wallpaper>Stills. Set it as the wallpaper for the home screen and lock screen.
To go even further, turn on greyscale. Find this in Settings>General>Accessibility>Display Accommodations>Color Filters. Turn the switch on and select ‘Grayscale’ at the top.
While in Accessibility, scroll down until you see Accessibility Shortcut. Set the shortcut to ‘Smart Invert Colors’. You can turn it on and off by triple-clicking the home button but since the iPhone X doesn’t have a home button, you can assign it to the sleep/wake button.
Finally, turn on iOS’s built-in Low Power Mode. On the iPhone X, swipe down from the right ear at the top to find Control Center. Tap on the battery icon.
No one has quantified exactly how much this will stretch out your battery life, but the next time you’re in a situation where you need ultra low power mode, try this to extend your iPhone X’s life.

4/ Select and move several apps at once — Speaking of gestures, iOS 11 has a cool feature that lets you select and move multiple apps at the same time. It makes organizing your apps a little easier, which is great since that’s not available in iTunes 12.7. However, I think tis only works on iPhone 6s and later, since I can’t do it on my 6. Watch TMO’s video tip at this link to see how it works.

5/ Share Apple Watch Activity progress with friends & family — Launch the Activity iPhone app, then tap the Sharing tab in the lower right. After then hitting Get Started you’ll see a plus symbol in the upper-right, used to add contacts.
The app will then prompt you to type in a person’s contact information, and/or pick from a list of suggested people. You can share with as many individuals as you like, but there is a catch: everyone has to have an Apple Watch, since the Activity app is built around it anyway. People on the opposite end will receive an invite, which they can accept through the Sharing tab.
Returning there, you’ll now see daily summaries for each person including their Move, Exercise, and Stand rings, as well as Move progress broken out into percentages and calories. Select the “Name” button in the upper-left and you can sort by different break-out data.
Similar information is available on your Watch. From the watchOS 4 Activity app, swipe left to get to the Sharing screen, then tap on any person’s name. Initially you’ll just see their Activity rings, but using the digital crown you can scroll down to see more. You’ll note that when scrolling down to the bottom of a summary or the Sharing screen, there’s a shortcut to send an iMessage.
By default, your Watch will automatically notify you whenever someone finishes a workout, wins an achievement, or closes all three rings. These notifications include an option to send a preset reply, whether for boasting or cheering someone on.
If this all gets bothersome, there are a few options. From any daily summary in the iPhone app, you can choose to mute notifications from that person, or remove them as a friend entirely. (Should you decide you need some privacy, there’s also a Hide My Activity option.)

Extra — Freeing up space. This tip is so long, I have just linked it.

[At this point I have published over 585 tips on Mac NZ!]