Lenovo releases three new phones in China after more than a year of silence

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After over a year of not releasing any new phones, Lenovo has launched three phones in China today. There’s the main flagship S5 model, and two lower-end budget phones: the K5 and the K5 Play, presumably meant for children.

From a glance, the new phones resemble so many other Android phones, and have more than a slight likeness to the iPhone 6.

The Lenovo S5 has a 5.7-inch screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a 2160 x 1080 resolution. The back is made of metal. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 625 chip and a 3,000mAh battery. You can choose between 3GB or 4GB of RAM, and 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage.

The S5 has dual 13-megapixel rear cameras and a 16-megapixel front-facing selfie cam. The device runs Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box with…

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After a brief silence, the satellite hosting NASA’s new space weather mission responds

A brief tracking failure led to fears that the satellite meant to host NASA’s new mission to better understand space weather had been lost, according to SpaceFlightNow. Though the European Ariane 5 rocket lifted off uneventfully, none of the customers with satellites on the rocket could reach their probes for some time.

The satellites are in orbit and have communicated with their control centers, Arianespace announced. But it’s not clear yet what orbits they’re in. If they’re in the wrong spots, these satellites may not be able to do their jobs — though it’s possible they could course-correct.

There was an “anomaly” on the launch, said Arianespace chief executive Stephane Israel, according to SpaceFlightNow. Everything was normal until a…

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Governments in 30 countries manipulated media online to silence critics, sow unrest or influence elections

The latest report on internet freedom by Freedom House finds online discourse in the United States is suffering.

It isn’t just Russia that’s spreading disinformation on Facebook, Google and Twitter in a bid to stir political unrest and silence critics around the globe.

A new report from Freedom House released Tuesday found that governments in 30 countries — not just the Kremlin, but also the regimes in Turkey, Venezuela and the Philippines — are now “mass producing their own content to distort the digital landscape in their favor.”

In Sudan, for example, the government maintains a virtual cyber army that has infiltrated Facebook, WhatsApp and other services in order to spread its leaders’ messages. In Venezuela, government forces “regularly used manipulated footage to disseminate lies about opposition protesters or the media, creating confusion” ahead of its last election.

The watchdog found that these efforts to manipulate information online — by governments or other forces — may have affected 18 countries’ elections, “damaging citizens’ ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate.” That included the U.S., where Russian-sponsored trolls fueled conflict around controversial debates like immigration, gun control and gay rights.

“The use of paid commentators and political bots to spread government propaganda was pioneered by China and Russia but has now gone global,” said Freedom House president Michael Abramowitz in a statement. “The effects of these rapidly spreading techniques on democracy and civic activism are potentially devastating.”

The conclusions came as part of Freedom House’s annual evaluation of global internet freedom, which found — once again — that government restrictions on their citizens’ internet use generally is on the rise.

Their report focused its efforts on 65 countries, studying their approach to online discussion and regulation between June 2016 and May 2017, and Freedom House awarded each government an internet-freedom score.

The lowest rating still belongs to China. Freedom House once again lamented the country’s historic, unrivaled limits on online speech, its penchant for hacking opponents and media organizations alike, and its willingness to imprison critics of Beijing’s leaders. Elsewhere, governments pursued their own new restrictions on online activity. For example, nine countries over the past year sought to block live video streaming for the first time, often to “halt real-time coverage of antigovernment demonstrations.”

In the U.S., Freedom House also sounded a note of alarm: It concluded that internet freedom in the U.S. had declined since the previous year, due in no small part to Russia’s election meddling.

Before and after Election Day, Kremlin-tied trolls had purchased ads and created profiles on Facebook, Google and Twitter, seeking to create chaos, rile up protesters and shift media coverage away from then-candidate Donald Trump. Those efforts are now the subject of scrutiny on Capitol Hill — and soul-searching in Silicon Valley — as lawmakers look to prevent Russia or another foreign power from meddling in U.S. politics ahead of the next election in 2018.

“While the online environment in the United States remained vibrant and diverse, the prevalence of disinformation and hyperpartisan content had a significant impact,” Freedom House found.

The watchdog also attributed its new skepticism about U.S. internet freedom to heightened harassment of American journalists online, not to mention efforts by the Trump administration, including a controversial — and quickly abandoned — attempt to unmask some of its prominent critics on Twitter.

Freedom House said internet freedom in the U.S. could be threatened even further as a result of the government’s ongoing attempt to undo its existing net neutrality rules. The regulations require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally.

At the same time, Freedom House also offered a subtle warning to regulators — in the U.S. and elsewhere — who are considering new laws in an attempt to thwart misinformation or other online ills.

By the watchdog’s estimate, 14 countries seeking to stop malicious bots and other nefarious activities on the web introduced rules over the past year that “actually restricted internet freedom,” perhaps unwittingly. That includes Germany, which instituted a new law in June 2017 that requires the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter to take down content flagged as offensive in a way that “lacks judicial oversight.”

“When trying to combat online manipulation from abroad, it is important for countries not to overreach,” said Sanja Kelly, who oversees the production of the Freedom of the Net report, in a statement.

“The solution to manipulation and disinformation lies not in censoring websites but in teaching citizens how to detect fake news and commentary,” Kelly continued. “Democracies should ensure that the source of political advertising online is at least as transparent online as it is offline.”


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Twitter boycott splits protesters over voluntary silence


Users across Twitter are absenting themselves from Twitter today following the social media site’s banning of actress/director Rose McGowan. McGowan has been vocal on Twitter during the Harvey Weinstein rape scandal currently rocking the entertainment industry. She’s tweeted the names of several people who knew — or should have known — about Weinstein’s alleged attacks on women, as revealed by a recent New Yorker exposé. Hey @mattdamon what’s it like to be a spineless profiteer who stays silent? pic.twitter.com/rp0OrRrpqJ — rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) October 9, 2017 Earlier this week, McGowan posted on Instagram a message from Twitter informing her that her account…

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Crowdfunded HomeKit smoke detector Birdi marred by late and low-quantity deliveries, silence from company

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Birdi had a promising start with a successful crowd funding campaign for a HomeKit smoke detector. But, the tale of the company after taking customer’s money for a product that appears to have not delivered in any real quantity is clouded in secrecy.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

The Implications of Cosmic Silence

The Fermi Paradox

The universe is incomprehensibly vast, with billions of other planets circling billions of other stars. The potential for intelligent life to exist somewhere out there should be enormous.

Image Source: Merrillie Redden/ Flickr Commons

So, where is everybody?

That’s the Fermi paradox in a nutshell. Daniel Whitmire, a retired astrophysicist who teaches mathematics at the University of Arkansas, once thought the cosmic silence indicated we as a  lagged far behind.

“I taught astronomy for 37 years,” said Whitmire. “I used to tell my students that by statistics, we have to be the dumbest guys in the galaxy. After all we have only been technological for about 100 years while other civilizations could be more technologically advanced than us by millions or billions of years.”

Principle of Mediocrity

Recently, however, he’s changed his mind. By applying a statistical concept called the principle of mediocrity – the idea that in the absence of any evidence to the contrary we should consider ourselves typical, rather than atypical – Whitmire has concluded that instead of lagging behind, our species may be average. That’s not good news.

In a paper published Aug. 3 in the International Journal of Astrobiology, Whitmire argues that if we are typical, it follows that species such as ours go extinct soon after attaining technological knowledge. (The paper is also available on Whitmire’s website.)

The argument is based on two observations: We are the first technological species to evolve on Earth, and we are early in our technological development. (He defines “technological” as a biological species that has developed electronic devices and can significantly alter the planet.)

The first observation seems obvious, but as Whitmire notes in his paper, researchers believe the Earth should be habitable for animal life at least a billion years into the future. Based on how long it took proto-primates to evolve into a technological species, that leaves enough time for it to happen again up to 23 times. On that time scale, there could have been others before us, but there’s nothing in the geologic record to indicate we weren’t the first. “We’d leave a heck of a fingerprint if we disappeared overnight,” Whitmire noted.

By Whitmire’s definition we became “technological” after the industrial revolution and the invention of radio, or roughly 100 years ago. According to the principle of mediocrity, a bell curve of the ages of all extant technological civilizations in the universe would put us in the middle 95 percent. In other words, technological civilizations that last millions of years, or longer, would be highly atypical. Since we are first, other typical technological civilizations should also be first. The principle of mediocrity allows no second acts. The implication is that once species become technological, they flame out and take the biosphere with them.

Whitmire argues that the principle holds for two standard deviations, or in this case about 200 years. But because the distribution of ages on a bell curve skews older (there is no absolute upper limit, but the age can’t be less than zero), he doubles that figure and comes up with 500 years, give or take. The assumption of a bell-shaped curve is not absolutely necessary. Other assumptions give roughly similar results.

There’s always the possibility that we are atypical and our species’ lifespan will fall somewhere in the outlying 5 percent of the bell curve. If that’s the case, we’re back to the nugget of wisdom Whitmire taught his astronomy students for more than three decades.

“If we’re not typical then my initial observation would be correct,” he said. “We would be the dumbest guys in the galaxy by the numbers.”

This article was provided by University of Arkansas. Materials may have been edited for clarity and brevity.

The post The Implications of Cosmic Silence appeared first on Futurism.

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Apple’s ‘iPhone 8’ may silence notification sounds when users are paying attention

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The latest code discovery to emerge from Apple’s HomePod firmware may hint that the "iPhone 8" will silence notification sounds when a person is looking at their device — possibly taking advantage of the phone’s 3D facial recognition technology.
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[It lives!!!] Google Glass emerges from 2-year silence with new Enterprise Edition and wider availability to partners

What’s that strange feeling? Almost like I’ve seen a ghost. Oh, Google Glass isn’t dead after all? That’ll be it. There have been recent signs that the seemingly abandoned experimental wearable might be making a return, more than 2 years after the Glass Explorer Program officially ended. The first was an update to the MyGlass app last month, after lying dormant for nearly 3 years. This was followed the next day by a mysterious firmware update making its way to any Glass units still in use.

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Scott Forstall breaks silence to talk about the iPhone’s creation

Former Apple SVP Scott Forstall has just given a rare interview in which he discussed the birth of the iPhone. Forstall is the man credited with leading Apple’s efforts to create iOS, and was talking to journalist John Markoff tonight at an event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Forstall’s appearance tonight marks the first time he’s spoken publicly about the iPhone’s creation since he left Apple in acrimonious circumstances nearly five years ago. Since then, he’s occupied his time co-producing Broadway musicals and reportedly investing in and advising startups like Snapchat.

The conversation isn’t too big on major revelations — Forstall discusses well-worn topics like the original multitouch prototype, and…

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MyGlass app receives update after almost three years of silence, includes proper power management and notification syncing without disrupting Wear [APK Download]

myglass

Nobody could be faulted for assuming Google Glass had been thoroughly abandoned; there were even a few public statements to that effect. That’s why it came as such a surprise when a “minor” update to the MyGlass companion app began rolling out today to a limited number of users. The previous release came out almost three years ago, at the end of 2014, likely making this the longest gap between app updates in Google’s history with Android.

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MyGlass app receives update after almost three years of silence, includes proper power management and notification syncing without disrupting Wear [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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