Amazon owns my Echo, I’m just feeding it

It’s no secret that voice assistants are a Trojan Horse. You “buy” a voice assistant like an Echo Dot or a Google Home, and you plug it in and give it your Wi-Fi password. But you don’t “own” it like you own a computer. The software is controlled entirely by Amazon or Google or some other company.

So, I bought a Trojan Horse in December as a little self-gift for Christmas: an Echo Dot.

Amazon’s audiobooks

On the evening I set up my Echo Dot, the first thing I wanted to do was listen to an audiobook. Being an Audible junkie makes the Echo an easy fit into my life. Saying, “Alexa, play an audiobook” will simply resume whatever book I was last listening to on my phone.

I have a lot of books in my library that have only a chapter or two…

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Grab this Amazon Web Services Certification Training bundle for just $41.40!

When it comes to cloud computing, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is near the top of the pile. It can be found in countless places around the web, and it’s comprised of multiple services from computing and storage to analytics. As AWS continues to grow, there is understandably an urgent need for trained professionals in the field.

Because AWS is comprised of so many different services, becoming proficient in the entire system can be pricey and time-consuming. Instead of finding the appropriate courses on your own, why not grab a bundle?

Learn how to use Amazon Web Services!! Learn more

Right now, iMore Central Digital Offers has a deal on an Amazon Web Services Certification Training mega bundle that included eight certification courses with more than 50 hours of training. Instead of paying $ 1,299, you’ll instead pay just $ 69. That’s 94 percent off the regular price! But wait… In honor of Presidents’ Day, you can take an additional 40% off with coupon code USA40 at checkout! That brings the price down to just $ 41.40

The eight courses in this bundle include:

  • AWS Technical Essentials Certification Training
  • Introduction to Amazon S3 Training Course
  • Introduction to Amazon Route 53 Training
  • Introduction to Amazon EC2 Training Course
  • AWS Solution Architect Certification Training Course
  • Amazon VPC Training Course
  • AWS Lambda Training Course
  • AWS Database Migration Service Course

Save an additional 40% this Presidents’ Day weekend with coupon code USA40 at checkout! Learn more

If you’re looking to prepare yourself for the AWS certification exams, this bundle of courses is what you need. At just $ 41.40, the price won’t get much better.

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How Will Humans React If We Discover Alien Life? This New Study Just Found Out (and Surprised Us)

If science fiction’s to be believed, humans are going to absolutely freak out when we first encounter extraterrestrials — we’re talking pandemonium, nothing short of out-and-out hysteria. From Independence Day to Alien, your average human in a movie doesn’t take well to meeting our newly-discovered alien neighbors, who, to be fair, are usually threatening the widespread elimination of humans in some way.

But if you talk to the average person, you might get a different picture of what a reaction to first contact might look like. Most people aren’t so alarmed. In fact, they’re pretty optimistic about what meeting aliens might mean. Most of us are like the kids in E.T., rather than the terrified adults: A reaction that’s less reflexive hostility, more peaceful curiosity.

A new study suggests that, in the event of an extraterrestrial encounter, the rioting and looting would be kept to a minimum — humans would actually react pretty positively to the news.

Michael Varnum, assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University, took several different approaches in his study, which he presented during a press briefing at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Austin, Texas.

For the first part, he and his team used a computer program to analyze the language used in news articles about discoveries that indicated the possibility of alien life. The program focused on the emotional timbre of the articles and found that the media coverage was generally positive. The researchers also made a (hypothetical) announcement that humans had detected extraterrestrial microbial life, and asked more than 500 people to offer their written responses. Again, the language the authors used was largely positive.

As for something that feels a bit more real? In the final part of the study, the researchers asked 500 people to respond to one of two articles in the New York Times about real scientific discoveries: evidence of microbial life on a Martian meteorite and the creation of synthetic life in a lab. Interestingly, participants reacted more positively to the possibility of alien life than the human capacity to create life.

“[T]aken together, this suggests if we find out we’re not alone, we’ll take the news rather well,” said Varnum in a press release.

Varnum’s studies, it should be noted, only took American perspectives into account. First contact would affect the entire human population (and probably some other types of organisms, too), and different cultures might respond to the news very differently.

Plus, it’s easy to be optimistic about something that you know hasn’t happened. Many of us are simply rosy about going to the gym, but hate it once we’re actually there (or, conversely, we hate the idea of going to the gym, but love it once we’re actually exercising). After all, we are humans, and we do tend to do a great job of tricking ourselves into looking forward to things.

If scientists have their way, the question of whether extraterrestrials exist won’t be hypothetical for long — increasingly sophisticated technology will help us detect aliens, if in fact they’re out there. Playing out possible scenarios and getting a sense for how humanity would react to such a discovery could help governments come up with better-informed policies for how to handle first contact, when and if it arises.

Ultimately, we can at least hope that humans would have an upbeat reaction to the discovery of alien life. We can test the waters, make policies, or play out different scenarios in the fictional space all we like.

But the best way to figure out how humans will react to extraterrestrials? Find the aliens. Then we’ll really get to see if humans are as upbeat as researchers predict.

The post How Will Humans React If We Discover Alien Life? This New Study Just Found Out (and Surprised Us) appeared first on Futurism.

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Zelle users are getting scammed just like on Venmo

Zelle, the standalone Venmo-like payments app founded by major banks, is still relatively new to the game, and its users — much like Venmo users before them — are unfortunately learning now that it’s easy to get scammed through the app, according to a report from TechCrunch.

Unlike a notorious Venmo scam, which involves stealing physical goods by using Venmo to pay for them with stolen credit cards or hacked accounts (which the payments company would then reverse, leaving sellers with neither goods nor money), Zelle users are being preyed upon the other way around.

Scammers will offer to sell things like phones or concert tickets, and ask that the buyer use…

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Did Apple Just Confirm Its Secret iPhone Design Plans for 2018?

While mid-February is not a particularly exciting time to be in the market for a new iPhone, the current slate of rumors swirling around the 2018 iPhone season suggests it’s poised to represent one of Apple’s most impressive lineups ever.

It’s expected to include at least three all-new iPhones which will look very similar to the current iPhone X — a revamped 5.8-inch OLED model, a larger 6.5-inch OLED model currently known as iPhone X Plus, and a middle-of-the-road, 6.1-inch iPhone model boasting an LCD display and Face ID tech.

We also learned courtesy of famed KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, that Apple plans to discontinue its iPhone X as we know it, though the model is expected to be replaced with a similarly-styled 5.8-inch iPhone featuring next-generation components.

Apple’s Admission?

Another fresh bit of Apple news which broke earlier this week, courtesy of 9to5mac, is that Cupertino plans to instate a new requirement — effective April, 2018 — that all new apps submitted to the App Store include native support for the iPhone X’s 5.8-inch Super Retina display.

“Starting April 2018, all new iOS apps submitted to the App Store must be built with the iOS 11 SDK included in Xcode 9 or later,” the company said in an email to developers this week, adding that, “All new apps for iPhone, including universal apps, must support the Super Retina display of iPhone X.”

Decree or Confirmation

Considering the current slate of iPhone rumors, it’s not illogical to reason that Apple’s new app submission requirements are its way of ‘setting the stage’ for a new generation of iPhone models built around thin-bezeled displays, lacking Touch ID, and incorporating advanced Face ID in its place.

While it’s purely speculation at this point, Apple’s decision to mandate that all apps be compatible with iPhone X could be conveyed as an indicator that its upcoming iPhone models will in fact be styled like the iPhone X — complete with the notch and all.

To that end, BGR noted: “By requiring developers to support the 5.8-inch iPhone X Super Retina display, Apple is practically making sure that all apps going forward will look good on all-screen iPhones that are notched.”

As we encourage you, time and time again, consider this rumor with a grain of salt until further notice, too — though it’s already looking like 2018 will feature lots of Face ID, doesn’t it?

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