Shocker: Efforts to Make Oceans Cleaner Are Working (When You Aren’t Sabotaging Them)

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When it comes to the marine environment, it often seems like we hear nothing but an ocean (sorry) of bad news. One recent report, however, provided a rare bright spot: the number of plastic bags on the seafloor around the U.K. has declined dramatically over the last two decades, according to The Independent. This comes on the tails of worldwide efforts to phase them out in favor of reusable options.

Scientists are the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) spotted this trend in data on the types of junk pulled from the UK seafloor over the last 25 years.

“It is encouraging to see that efforts by all of society, whether the public, industry, NGOs or government to reduce plastic bags are having an effect,” lead author Thomas Maes, a Cefas marine litter scientist, told The Independent.

That doesn’t mean the fight against plastic is won, though.

The researchers found the overall amount of marine litter remained roughly constant over the 2.5 decades, as other types of marine debris – such as plastic bottles and lost fishing gear – have increased to fill plastic bags’ gap. Meanwhile, recent research has suggested that the amount of plastic in the ocean is set to triple in the next decade. Those aren’t exactly encouraging statistics.

We have more work to do if we’re going to save our oceans from becoming plastic junkyards (which will, in turn, impact the food chain, and our water supplies). But what’s left of this good fight shouldn’t discourage you.

In fact, the tangible, data-proven decrease in plastic bags should be incredibly encouraging. Every time you actually remembered to bring your canvas bag to the grocery store? That made a difference. But we’ll have to keep at it to ensure that this trend continues.

It’s easy to feel like human impacts on the planet have gotten so bad that there’s nothing we can do to reverse them. Science clearly says that’s not true. With organizations, cities, and even entire countries banning everything from plastic straws to plastic cutlery, we could soon be seeing the tides turn.

The post Shocker: Efforts to Make Oceans Cleaner Are Working (When You Aren’t Sabotaging Them) appeared first on Futurism.

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One show to rule them all: everything we know about Amazon’s Middle-earth series

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Amazon acquired the rights to the franchise for $ 250 million

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Apple’s Overly Persistent Apple Pay Push May Come Back to Bite Them

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Since launching its mobile payments platform, Apple Pay, back in October of 2014, Apple has worked tirelessly ramping up its efforts to attract and encourage users to adopt and utilize the service. And while the latest mobile wallet adoption data (provided courtesy of PYMNTS) suggests that at least 12.8 percent of iOS users have setup […]
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Instagram is Trying to Make Users Feel Better Without Scaring Them Off

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A perfectly styled plate of food, overflowing and untouched. A shot from behind a young woman, naked in the back of a van, looking out at a stunning landscape (#vanlife). Thin, attractive people in expensive workout clothes without a drop of sweat. Endless selfies that purport to be #nofilter and makeup-free while still somehow looking flawless.

Ho, hum, another day of scrolling through Instagram, and all the feelings of inadequacy it brings up. Over time, those feelings could wear on users’ mental health.

Instagram has negative effects on wellbeing, especially among young women, according to several recent studies. Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) ranked Instagram as the worst social network for mental health among young people. Now, Quartz reports that Instagram has decided to address these problems by creating a “Wellbeing Team.”

So far, it’s unclear what exactly that team will be doing, or who will be on it. That may be because Instagram is struggling to walk a fine line between helping its users and alienating them.

A hand holding a mobile phone taking a photo of a sunset over the ocean. Apps like Instagram encourage obsession with sharing content like this to the point that it may damage mental health.
If the sun sets and you didn’t ‘gram it, did it even happen? Image Credit: Free-Photos / Pixabay

The app has recently implemented a few notable changes intended to keep users psychologically healthy, like a filter for offensive comments and connections to mental health resources for those who seem to need it.

Yet what Instagram hasn’t done is introduce some of the RSPH’s suggestions, detailed in its study. The research suggested interventions like a pop-up that warns users they’ve been using social media too long, or a watermark that indicates if an image has been digitally altered.

That’s not all that surprising; telling users that they’ve been on an app too long would make being on the app feel like being nagged by a parent, and run counter to the addictive quality that social media companies have worked hard to build into their products. Additionally, if Instagram started calling out users for retouching their photos, they’d likely find their most prolific users ditching the app in a hurry.

Ultimately, the problem here is a paradox: many aspects of Instagram that make people feel terrible are the very things people come to the app to find. Users want to see images of beautiful places and people; they’re coaxed, compelled to compare their lives to others in the hope of reassuring themselves they’re doing alright. Unlike other apps that have faced these issues, such as Facebook, Instagram posts aren’t diluted by status updates, random shared articles, and other types of content; Instagram is built for voyeurism.

We won’t pretend that there are any easy answers to this issue. As Quartz and others have pointed out, this problem stems from a larger, systemic cultural issue — where depression and other mental health issues remain under-addressed, and in which how you look, and how well you fit into cultural expectations of “success,” are given more credence than actual happiness.

Maybe Instagram’s new “Wellbeing Team” will find some innovative ways to chip away at that.

The post Instagram is Trying to Make Users Feel Better Without Scaring Them Off appeared first on Futurism.

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Mark Zuckerberg Says Just Because Apple Charges Its Customers More, It Does Not Mean They Care More About Them

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Apple’s CEO Tim Cook had openly criticised Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the data breach that occurred due to the Cambridge Analytica incident. He called the situation dire and said that this could only be prevented if there is a well-crafted regulation in place. Continue reading
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The 9 Most Common iCloud Problems and How to Fix Them

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If you use Apple devices, such as an iPhone or iPad, and perhaps a Mac, then you’re probably using iCloud services as well. For those unaware, iCloud is Apple’s own cloud storage service, keeping your data safe in the cloud and easily accessible across multiple devices.

With iCloud, you can safely and securely store photos, videos, documents, mail, music, apps, and more, all right in the cloud. Data syncs quickly so everything stays up-to-date on your Apple devices.

For the most part, iCloud works fine, but you might encounter issues on occasion. We’re going to cover the most common iCloud problems and provide the solutions.

1. Cannot Connect to iCloud

iCloud Connection Error

The biggest step with iCloud is usually signing in. But sometimes that may fail, and you get the Cannot Connect to Server error message.

The first solution is to check the status of Apple’s servers, which you can do on the Apple status page. If it’s green, you’re good. A yellow or red light signifies issues or maintenance in progress, so you’ll have to wait it out.

Sometimes you may need to verify your iCloud account with updated terms and conditions to get it up and running again. This is an easy fix:

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] (at the top).
  2. If there’s any change in the Terms & Conditions, then it’ll pop up and prompt you to agree or disagree. Simply agree to verify your account.
  3. If you’ve changed your password for security reasons, then you may need to sign in with the new password to verify your account.

Another simple, but straightforward solution is to log out and log back in. This can work for your iCloud account, as well as your Apple ID for iTunes or the App Store.

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > Sign Out. For iTunes and App Store, go to Settings > [Your Name] > iTunes & App Store.
  2. Select your account.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and click Sign Out for iCloud. For the Store, tap on your account and then Sign Out in the menu prompt.

If all else fails, you may need to use Recovery Mode on your iOS device.

2. iCloud Data Is Not Syncing

Apple ID Settings

While iCloud should sync automatically and changes appear instantly, sometimes that isn’t the case. If that happens, try these fixes in turn:

  1. Restart your device and wait. Sometimes all you need is patience.
  2. Make sure you’re logged in to the right account on all your devices. To check this, just go to Settings > [Your Name] on each iPhone or iPad.
  3. Again, make sure that Apple’s servers are working by checking the status page.

3. App Is Not Saving in iCloud

iCloud Data Sync

Usually apps that use iCloud Drive to store their data do so by default. However, sometimes you must manually toggle them to save to iCloud, either in the app settings or through a permission prompt. It’s easy to check and make sure this is on for the app you want:

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud.
  2. Scroll through the list of apps and make sure that the toggle is green for the apps you want to save in iCloud.

4. Stuck on iCloud Signin or Updating iCloud Settings

Update iCloud Settings Stuck

If you’re trying to sign into iCloud on one device and it gets stuck, but Apple’s servers are functional and your credentials work on another device, then try a basic reboot:

  1. Turn off your phone by holding down the power button.
  2. Press the power button again until the Apple logo shows up.
  3. Re-enter your iCloud account information again in Settings.

If this happens when you’re in the Setup Assistant after updating or setting up a new device, and it asks to set up iCloud, then the restart should work too, or a hard restart. When you try it again, you can opt to skip setting up iCloud during the setup and do it later instead.

5. “Authentication Error” When Signing Into iCloud

Reset iCloud Password

Sometimes you think you have the right login credentials, but may have made a mistake somewhere along the way. If you get an “authentication failed” message when trying to sign in, try this:

  1. Go to appleid.apple.com.
  2. Log in with your Apple ID/iCloud credentials.
  3. If you still can’t log in, then try resetting your account password by clicking the Forgot Apple ID or password? link on the page.

6. “Unsupported Apple ID” When Signing Into iCloud

Apple ID Login

Creating your Apple ID is pretty straightforward. However, you may have created an Apple ID under non-standard circumstances, which can cause issues later.

Typically, if an Apple ID works with the iTunes Store, App Store, Game Center, FaceTime, and other Apple services, then it should work with iCloud. But if it doesn’t work with those services, there may be issues with using it for iCloud.

For this, Apple recommends to contact iCloud support to resolve the issue.

7. Reached or Exceeded iCloud Storage Limit

iCloud Delete Files

When you start using iCloud for everything, it can fill up pretty fast. After all, it can have backups of your iPhone and iPad, along with high-quality photos and videos, documents, and other data in iCloud Drive.

Apple gives everyone 5GB of iCloud storage for free. But that’s usually not enough, and a lot of users end up getting a message saying that they’ve reached or exceeded their iCloud storage limit. When this happens, you won’t be able to do daily backups or save more files in iCloud until you fix it. You have two options for this: make some space or buy more storage.

The first option involves checking your iCloud storage and getting rid of unnecessary data. To do this:

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud. Tap on Manage Storage.
  2. You’ll see all apps and services storing in iCloud in descending order, sorted by largest amount of data.
  3. Tap on an item to view its contents and size.
  4. To get rid of something, just tap on the Delete Documents & Data (or something similar, depending on item) option.
  5. Wait a few moments while iCloud purges the selected data from your storage. Then you can celebrate, because you’ve regained space.

Purchase iCloud Storage

If you prefer not getting rid of anything, then consider buying more storage. It’s easy to do right from your iOS device:

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Manage Storage.
  2. Select Change Storage Plan.
  3. You’ll see your current plan, along with available upgrades below.
  4. Apple’s iCloud plans start at $ 1 a month for 50GB, and go up to 2TB for $ 10 a month.
  5. Select the one you want, and then tap Buy. You’ll get charged immediately and the storage is available right away. The monthly payment date reflects your original purchase date.
  6. Apple charges your card charged every month until you cancel. If you had a paid plan before and needed an upgrade, Apple cancels the existing plan and charges the prorated cost for the new one.

8. Can’t Log In or Out of iCloud: “Verification Failed”

iCloud Verification Failed

If you’re trying to log in or out of your iCloud account in your iPhone or iPad’s Settings, but get a “Verification Failed” error message, there are a few ways to fix this:

  1. Do a hard reboot of your phone. See the link in the “Cannot Connect to iCloud” section above for detailed instructions.
  2. Make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi. This is a common issue after updating your device’s software.
  3. Oddly enough, your device’s date and time may be incorrect, thus causing verification issues. Fix this by going to Settings > General > Date & Time. Make sure the Set Automatically option is on, and it should fix itself.
  4. Use another device that has the same Apple ID. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > Password & Security > Get Verification Code. This generates a six-digit code that you input on the other device (where you get verification error) if you have Two-Factor Authentication on.

9. iPhone Keeps Asking for iCloud Password

iCloud Password Error

This is an old bug, but one that pops back up at times. You’re in the middle of using your iPhone, when a prompt pops up asking you to enter your iCloud credentials. You do that, but then a few moments later, it pops up again, and again… What do you do?

  1. Rebooting your phone is the first step. Do it the traditional way with the power button, or use the hard restart method mentioned earlier.
  2. Sign out and back in to your iCloud account. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > Sign Out. When the prompt comes up, tap Delete from Phone. Then sign in again.
  3. Make sure Apple’s servers are working by checking the status page.
  4. If none of these steps work, try resetting your Apple account password at appleid.apple.com. Enter the new password in the prompt when it appears, and it should fix the problem.
  5. The last resort option is to back up and restore your device. Since this process can be time-consuming, make sure none of the other solutions worked for you.

iCloud Is Simple and Invisible… When It Works Right

Many Apple users rely on iCloud for at least something, if not everything. The service is seamless and invisible, but only when it works. When iCloud problems do come up, they make themselves quite apparent, leading to a frustrating experience.

We’ve covered some of the most common issues with iCloud here, but there are plenty of other annoying problems that can arise. However, when in doubt, it’s always good to try restarting your device to fix any strange problems you’re having before troubleshooting with Google.

Now that you know how to troubleshoot iCloud, check out our guide to fixing crashing iPhone apps.

Image Credit: SIphotography/Depositphotos

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About half of Americans don’t think climate change will affect them — here’s why

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More than half of Americans seem to think that climate change won’t affect them personally, a new poll shows. Only 45 percent think that global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, and just 43 percent say they worry a great deal about climate change. But climate change is already affecting us — so why don’t people realize that? The reason has to do with a mixture of politics and psychology.

The poll, conducted by Gallup, shows that many Americans “perceive climate change as a distant problem,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. A lot of people think that we won’t bear the brunt of climate change until 2050 or 2100, and that other parts of the world will be affected,…

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Facebook overhauls its privacy tools and makes them easier to find

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Facebook has redesigned its privacy tools to put you more in control of your data…. Read the rest of this post here


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Electric Cars May Be Cheaper Than Gas Guzzlers in 7 Years — If People Actually Buy Them

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We may soon be in the era of the electric car.

Today, they’re around of course, but they’re not yet ubiquitous. That may soon change, Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts — by 2025, some EV models could cost less than their gas-guzzling competitors.

The biggest reason? Lithium-ion batteries, a key component of tomorrow’s electric cars, are getting cheaper. Analysts suspect that is enough to make the price of electric cars go way, way down.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — the global electric car revolution is coming, but its timeline may not be speeding up so much. And there are a bunch of practical reasons why.

First, the researchers caution that for the price of electric cars to dip lower than that of petroleum cars, the cost of the battery pack needs to keep going down, even though the price of lithium and other components may increase in the future. Granted, a price drop may still be possible if they’re mass produced. China, for example, is racing to become a leader in EV manufacturing

China’s pushing EV adoption, too, going as far as suggesting a ban on oil-guzzling cars “in the near future,” according to CityLab. France and the United Kingdom also announced they will ban gasoline cars by 2040, a sign of their commitment to alternative forms of transportation.

But ultimately, if electric cars are to really take off, countries will need a charging network big and efficient enough to actually work. When cars first became popular, gas stations started popped up, first in cities, then in smaller towns, eventually reaching even the most remote rural settlements. This spread was haphazard and over a long period of time, but today’s drivers know that wherever they go, they are almost certainly not going to run out of fuel.

The same can’t be said for electric cars. At least, not yet.

Numbers-wise, China is way ahead, with around 150,000 public charging points already; the U.S. has around 16,000. While China’s numbers may seem impressive, “I don’t think there are more than a couple dozen publicly available charging stations in any city,” Sabrina Howell, a New York University finance expert, told CityLab.

Beijing plans to boost its network of charging stations to meet the demands of 5 million electric cars by 2020, but experts say that simply upping the numbers is not enough. For example, charging several EVs at the same time may cause brownouts if there’s not enough voltage in supply. Souping up the existing electric networks to make room for charging points would likely cost a fortune, studies found.

“I don’t get a sense that China has thought through the charging issue, and the economics of it,” said Henry Lee, the director of the Environment and Natural Resources Program at Harvard University, speaking with City Lab, “Nor do I think that they have a business plan for it.”

When you think about it, putting charging points where drivers will need them most really doesn’t seem all that hard. After all, we equipped the world with gas stations without a business plan or a strategy at all.

But  but  it took a very long time to get there. As climate change threatens the way of life of billions of people around the globe, we don’t have that same luxury.

Even the coolest, cheapest electric model won’t win people over if they don’t know where to charge it.

The post Electric Cars May Be Cheaper Than Gas Guzzlers in 7 Years — If People Actually Buy Them appeared first on Futurism.

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Hands on: If you have multiple iPhones, the Udoq system will charge them all

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Udoq is a unique modular docking system that can fit more than one of almost any device, regardless of brand or connector type, and AppleInsider has one on our test bench.
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