Weekly poll results: it’s a tie! Huawei P20 Pro and Xiaomi Mi 2s loved equally

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Well, we did not expect that – when we asked if you’re more interested in the Huawei P20 Pro or the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2s, we thought that surely one of the two will prevail. Sure, we asked a couple of days before the phones went official, but there we extensive leaks. Plus, the phones were unveiled this Tuesday, so you had plenty of time to change your mind. However, the phones remained of absolute even popularity – when we stopped the poll, the difference in votes was less than 10. That’s good news, we think. The Huawei P20 Pro is a camera monster with a notched screen and a hefty price…

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Home Genetic Tests Could Be Giving You False Results

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Home genetic tests like 23andMe have grown more popular, and so too have stories of people surprised by their results. Sometimes they’re whimsical, like the German family that discovered they’re actually Scottish; other times they call whole identities into question, like the man who discovered his father had another son he didn’t know about, which led his parents to divorce.

But a new study suggests that some of those “surprises” might just be mistakes.

Ambry Genetics, a company that interprets data from consumer DNA tests, examined the raw data from 49 patients that had already received results from at-home tests. Its re-analysis, recently published in the journal Naturefound that 40 percent of the variants reported to patients were not actually present at all.

Particularly cringe-worthy, MIT Technology Review reports that many of the false-positive calls were related to genes that are related to an increased cancer risk — meaning that tests could have given families a big scare for no reason. And this high error rate is particularly concerning given that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just approved 23andMe to sell genetic tests for cancer risk.

Sophisticated technology has made genetic testing more accessible than ever, giving us another way to sate our desire to know more about ourselves. Whether it’s our risk of developing Alzheimer’s or confirming a family legend about Native American relatives — or even our supposed “genetic compatibility” with a potential date — we’ve come to believe that genetics will tell us everything we might want to know.

Yet these mistakes highlight what scientists and genetic counselors have warned the public about for years: that home genetic tests should be interpreted with the help of an expert, particularly when it comes to disease risk. Because of the complex interplay that happens between genetics, environment lifestyle, and health, genetic risk is not a definite.

The same is true of consumer genetic tests that interpret ancestry — they’re not as straightforward as companies assert. As NPR’s Gisele Grayson recently discovered of her own genes, the process of genetic recombination (when your embryo is formed from sperm and egg) means that you might have a genomic makeup that’s quite different from your parents or siblings.

At-home genetic testing companies also base their information on that of all of the people they’ve already tested, meaning that their data on under-tested populations (that’s generally people of color) could be flawed; “the smaller the percentage of a population within a continent that is in the database, the less certain [genetic analyses] are,” Grayson wrote.

If all of this really squashes your hope of using genetics to find out “who you are,” it might be useful to remember that human beings are a closely related species as it is. Mathematics and genetic research alike has found that every human currently alive shares a common ancestor as recently as 3,400 years ago.

Yes, genetic tests are, disappointingly, imperfect. But don’t worry, in the long-run of human history, your genetic “ancestry” doesn’t mean all that much anyway.

The post Home Genetic Tests Could Be Giving You False Results appeared first on Futurism.

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Check out our first Huawei P20 Pro benchmark results

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The Huawei P20 and P20 Pro debuted yesterday and their Leica cameras were understandably met with a lot of excitement. Performance wasn’t so much in focus as the Kirin 970 that powers them was introduced back in October with the Mate 10 series. Huawei P20 Pro Still, we though to give the SoC a test to see how it fares on the new taller screens of slightly higher resolution. The Kirin 970 premiered at IFA last fall. It is built on the 10 nm process by HiSilicion, native Huawei division. The chip is housing an octa-core CPU – four Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 2.4 GHz for performance…

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F-Droid v1.1 update brings full-screen app screenshots, search results sorting, privacy preferences, and more

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F-Droid, the most popular open-source app store, got a rather significant facelift last May and was further refined with the release of v1.0 in October. Now it’s been updated to v1.1, which brings privacy preferences, search enhancements, UI improvements, bug fixes, and more.

The latest F-Droid client looks nearly identical to v1.0, but there are a few changes to note. For one, app screenshots now expand to fill the width of your screen when you tap them, and you can swipe to progress through the full-screen slideshow.

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F-Droid v1.1 update brings full-screen app screenshots, search results sorting, privacy preferences, and more was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Weekly poll results: Xperia XZ2 compact just edges its larger brother

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It was a close race and the outcome was slightly unexpected – the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact beat out its larger sibling by a narrow margin. Some think it wears the Ambient Flow design better. Others acknowledge that there’s not much choice in the petite flagship market, which makes the Compact special. People voting for both sides agree that dropping the 3.5mm headphone jack wasn’t the best move by Sony. And not everyone loved the new design. Price was a surprisingly touchy issue, given that the XZ2 Compact is one of the most affordable Snapdragon 845 phones at the moment. Sony…

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Stormy Daniels Took a Polygraph. What Do We Do With the Results?

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A porn star has an affair with a man who would later become the president. She gets paid to keep quiet, but still takes a polygraph test in an effort to prove the affair was real, knowing that someday her story would come out.

No, it’s not the plot of some political novel, or even that of some X-rated film. It’s our current political climate, thanks to a flurry of claims form adult film star Stephanie Clifford, AKA Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with President Donald Trump.

In 2011, five years after their alleged affair, Daniels took a polygraph test that indicated that the “probability of deception was measured to be less than 1 percent,” according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Let’s not get into whether this revelation has any bearing on our democracy. Instead, let’s ask another question: does a polygraph test prove anything at all?

In short: not really.

A black-and-white photo of a polygraph test being administered by an older man to a young woman in a checkered dress in an office, circa 1945.
A polygraph test being administered for a security screening at the Clinton Engineer Works, 1945. (Image credit: Ed Westcott/Wikimedia Commons)

A polygraph test measures a person’s heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and skin conductivity (whether they’re sweating). The test administrator watches to see if any of these factors change compared to a control when a person answers a question. If the metrics are way off, the logic goes, the test-taker is lying.

The problem with all this, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), is that the polygraph hinges on several (dubious) assumptions: that there is any sort of physiological response when a person lies, and secondly, that all people share that same response. In reality, a guilty person may be able to keep themselves calm, while an innocent person might be more anxious. A person can also use countermeasures, such as sedatives or psychological manipulation, to keep their response neutral.

In a scientific sense, we also can’t say whether the results of a polygraph are because of the placebo effect. A person who believes a polygraph works, and that they will be caught, may naturally feel more anxious when lying, or feel pressured to tell the truth. If this is the case, we risk that a polygraph will only work for people who believe in them  as the APA points out, this would actually make this test a “fear detector” rather than a lie detector, leading to false positives from terrified witnesses.

There’s so much mushiness about what a polygraph shows, so it’s not surprising lie detector results aren’t usually admissible in court — in fact, several states prohibit them. Even if a judge allows polygraph results as evidence, a prosecutor can still force its exclusion. Yet as recent headlines show, polygraphs are still used elsewhere to intimidate witnesses, monitor criminal suspects, even screen job candidates — and, in this most recent case, to back up a juicy scoop on a celebrity.

So if we’re going to keep using lie detectors, can we at least come up with a more accurate replacement? Some scientists have tried to use brain waves to detect deception, focusing on the parts of the brain that help people make conscious decisions about their responses. While some research has shown brain scans to be a bit more accurate than polygraphs, they’re still not accurate enough to be admitted in court, as a 2012 murder trial showed. There’s some promise that artificial intelligence could spot lying better than humans can, but there are also risks that either of these high-tech options could be fooled by some of the same countermeasures used against polygraphs.

No matter whether Daniels is telling the truth, media reports don’t exactly explain much of the test’s nuance. Daniels’ polygraph doesn’t actually mean anything, scientifically, but we crave hard evidence for these sorts of allegations that we are willing to believe it.

That proof doesn’t make them anything more than what they really are: a side show, and a distraction from the real issues.

The post Stormy Daniels Took a Polygraph. What Do We Do With the Results? appeared first on Futurism.

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Weekly poll results: Galaxy S9+ beats its smaller sibling 3:1

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When asked to pick between the two new Samsung flagships – the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ – you, our readers, didn’t hesitate to go with the Plus model. Interestingly, the larger size of the handset was not quoted as a positive, quite the opposite in fact. People want the S9+ for its telephoto camera, larger battery and 2GB extra of RAM. Now, if Samsung could fit that in Galaxy S9’s body, we have a suspicion that the voting will quickly swing in favor of the smaller handset. Transferring all those features to the S9 would, naturally, bump its price up closer to the S9+. And a few were…

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Stitch Fix made a big addition to its business that won’t show up in its Q2 financial results

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The new feature — called Extras — signals where the company is headed.

Stitch Fix posted another profitable quarter with revenue of $ 296 million that beat analyst expectations, but the most interesting company development received just a passing mention in the earnings announcement for the second quarter of its 2018 fiscal year.

That’s because the new Stitch Fix feature, called Extras, just launched three weeks ago so it hasn’t yet impacted the company’s financial performance. But its existence points toward the ambition the personal styling company has to grab more of the money its customers spend on clothing outside of their relationship with Stitch Fix.

Let’s back up for a second. Stitch Fix’s core offering uses a mix of personal stylists and algorithms to select five clothing and accessory items to ship to a customer at a time. Customers pay for and keep what they want, send back what they don’t. But they aren’t selecting what goes in their own box from the start.

The new Extras feature, however, allows customers to choose from an assortment of undergarments like bras and underwear to add to each box of five items their stylist has chosen for them. This might seem like a subtle addition, but it signals a big move by the company to supplement its main business built around discovery and serendipity with a more traditional retail shopping experience.

“By forcing them to go to another retailer to buy socks, there’s a chance they can be lured to buy other things at that retailer,” Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake said by way of explaining part of the rationale of the offering to Recode on Monday.

Lake didn’t specifically call out Amazon as “another retailer,” but that e-commerce giant happens to be one of the online companies that has gotten very, very good at selling apparel basics like socks and underwear. And Amazon also has been showing off its ambition in fashion beyond basics by unveiling a wide variety of in-house brands hawking everything from denim to women’s workwear. They are a threat.

Lake cautioned that the “personalization and … the surprise” at the core of Stitch Fix’s offering won’t be going anywhere. But it’s clear the company is thinking hard about the right way to balance the model on which it built its success with the model that will allow it to grab as much market share as possible.

And for good reason. A study from the research firm SecondMeasure found that Stitch Fix customers actually spend more at other top fashion retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom in the 12 months after they become a Stitch Fix customer than they did in the 12 months prior.

For the second quarter of its fiscal year, Stitch Fix net revenue grew 24 percent to $ 296 million, beating out analyst average estimates of $ 291 million. The company also beat estimates on adjusted Ebitda, but its net income came in below expectations thanks to a one-time tax hit related to the Trump tax plan as well as the re-measurement of preferred stock.

Stitch Fix also issued sales guidance for its full fiscal year of $ 1.19 billion to $ 1.22 billion in net revenue; analysts were expecting around $ 1.2 billion. It also said its full-year Ebitda would come in at $ 45 million to $ 55 million; analysts were estimating $ 51 million for the full year.

Stitch Fix went public at $ 15 a share in November; as of Monday morning, its stock price had risen 52 percent since its IPO.


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Google Search shows Stack Overflow answers in search results for some users

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Stack Overflow is an immensely popular website for asking programming-related questions. If you’re ever stuck on a coding problem, typing it into Google and clicking the first Stack Overflow result usually does the trick. Now it appears the last step might not be necessary for much longer, as Google is working to display answers directly in search results.

This feature still seems to be in testing; it only appeared for me once, and it has been showing up as early as November of last year.

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Google Search shows Stack Overflow answers in search results for some users was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Weekly poll results: Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ grab the MWC flagship crown

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Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ were unchallenged in last week’s poll – the duo is the fan favorite of the MWC. With over 40% of the votes, the S9 siblings got more votes than the next two combined. Surprisingly, Asus clinched second place with the Zenfone 5z – the most affordable Snapdragon 845-powered phone at a price of €480. The 21% result isn’t enough to challenge the Samsungs, but the number of positive comments is more than encouraging. Then there’s a tie – Sony’s and HMD’s competitors both got 17%. The Nokia 8 Sirocco rode a wave of nostalgia (not to mention the well-executed…

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