European travelers can now watch Netflix like they’re at home

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If you live in the European Union, your holidays just became a little more enjoyable. The EU's long-promised digital media portability rules have taken effect as of April 1st, letting residents access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other paid digit…
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[Update: Available] Che grande! Italian Google Store shows the Google Home and Home Mini, but they’re still on a waitlist

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

The signs have been accumulating over the past few weeks: Italian showed up among the languages supported on the Google Home, then it also was listed on third-party Assistant speakers, and just this morning plenty of Google Home support pages (like this) started saying the Home was available in Italy and speaking Italian.

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[Update: Available] Che grande! Italian Google Store shows the Google Home and Home Mini, but they’re still on a waitlist was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Stop Whining That Your Plastic Straws Are Disappearing. Be Glad They’re Not Ending Up In Oceans.

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The war on plastic waste is in full swing, and plastic straws appear to be the first to fall.

You’d think these ubiquitous tubes of plastic would be easily vanquished: they’re one of the top items found strewn on beaches and in the stomachs of marine animals. And they seem like they would be easy enough to phase out without anybody minding. Right?

Not so. Some people are already protesting the disappearance of straws from bars, restaurants, and even events hosted by major beverage companies. The complaints run from the legitimate to the ridiculous, but overall, they don’t make a strong enough case to let the straw stick around.

The pro-straw arguments, distilled:

  • Straws are just “more fun to drink out of.”
  • You’re grossed out by putting your mouth on the edge of a restaurant’s cup. (What about their cutlery and plates?)
  • You use straws to keep painfully cold or tooth-staining liquids away from your sensitive pearly whites. (We’ll give you that one.)

What these complaints have in common is that they’re solved by the same easy solution: reusable straws. Reusable straws are available in a variety of materials, from easy-to-clean stainless steel to soft silicone for those with cold-sensitive teeth, and usually for $ 1 or less per straw. Most come with a brush that make them easily washed out, and you can throw them in your car, or one in each of your favorite bags, and forget about it until you find yourself strawless in Seattle.

There is only one argument in favor of plastic straws that we can’t shoot down, and that’s one made by disability advocate Pam Duncan-Glancy, a resident of Scotland, which may soon be the first straw-free country in Europe. Duncan-Glancy points out that straws are essential to many people with disabilities, making drinking in public easier and more dignified. An inflexible metal or silicone reusable straw might not be a good fit for individuals with difficulty controlling their bite, she points out, and suggesting people buy their own straws in bulk passes on yet another cost to a community that already faces a largely inaccessible world.

In this case, we’re with Duncan-Glancy in saying that restaurants should keep a few plastic straws around for clients that absolutely need them. Meanwhile, we should continue to push for manufacturers to create better biodegradable materials, ones that are flexible and sturdy enough to drink from, but green enough to be easily composted. (Corn-oil products are showing early promise, but they need to be composted in a special facility, not in your backyard pile.)

If you’re still holding onto your plastic straws with a death grip, it may change things if you know that when their plastic break down, their pieces impact every part of the oceanic food chain — from small fish, to coral reefs, to giant whales. Maybe the fact that the chemicals from plastic could make men infertile (yikes) will get you to loosen your grip. Or does the fact that plastic could end up in the water we drink, bottled or not, and the seafood you’re eating, bring it a little closer to home?

If not, we’re not afraid to say: that really sucks. For you, and for everyone else.

The post Stop Whining That Your Plastic Straws Are Disappearing. Be Glad They’re Not Ending Up In Oceans. appeared first on Futurism.

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[Che grande!] Italian Google Store shows the Google Home and Home Mini, but they’re still on a waitlist

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

The signs have been accumulating over the past few weeks: Italian showed up among the languages supported on the Google Home, then it also was listed on third-party Assistant speakers, and just this morning plenty of Google Home support pages (like this) started saying the Home was available in Italy and speaking Italian. Now it’s official: the Google Home and Home Mini are up on the Italian Google Store, but you can only sign up for the waiting list.

Read More

[Che grande!] Italian Google Store shows the Google Home and Home Mini, but they’re still on a waitlist was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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iOS bug lets Siri read your notifications aloud when they’re hidden

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iPhone X hands-on video

Apple tried to beef up iOS security in iOS 11 by letting you hide the content of notifications until you unlock your iPhone, but it looks like a bug has caused that feature to become useless.

A new iOS bug has been discovered that will reveal the contents of your hidden notifications. Just ask Siri to read your notifications and it will do just that, even if you’ve gone into Settings > Notifications > Show Previews and set it to “When Unlocked”. This setting is supposed to force notifications to just appear as “Notification” until you’ve unlocked your device, but this bug circumvents that.

The bug has been confirmed to exist on iOS 11.2.6, the latest public version of iOS, and Mac Magazine says that it exists in the iOS 11.3 beta as well. The only app that seems to be unaffected by the bug is Apple’s own Messages app, which Siri is unable to read texts from until you unlock your phone.

This is a pretty serious security issue, as it means that anyone has access to the contents of your incoming messages even if you haven’t unlocked your device. Apple has yet to comment on the bug, but with iOS 11.3 still in testing, perhaps Apple can slip in a fix for this issue before it releases iOS 11.3 to the public.

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Local Newspapers Are Essential for Saving Us Through Science (Which, Of Course, Means They’re Dying Right Now)

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Your local rag has far more value to your community than reporting on the best pancake joint or the complaints of that guy who had his yard TP’d. True story, read all about it: Local newspapers are actually valuable tools for science.

A recent STAT article highlighted one surprising use of local newspapers: tracking the outbreak of infectious disease. Epidemiologists use local papers to identify outbreaks in their infant stages — way before they’re big enough to make national papers — and forecasting how they might evolve.

For example, computational epidemiologist Maia Majumder told STAT local newspapers were essential when she and her colleagues at the HealthMap disease projection project tried figuring out the source of a 2016-2017 outbreaks of mumps in northwestern Arkansas. While it was difficult to get data from the Arkansas Department of Public Health, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette freely provided Majumder with the context she needed: the region had the highest rate of vaccine refusal in the state, and that the disease was spreading within a community of Marshall Islands immigrants even though they’d been vaccinated.

Yet local newspapers are also vanishing in many places, thanks to falling readership. A recent data project by the Columbia Journalism Review shows that many parts of the United States, particularly in the Midwest, Southeast, and Alaska, have zero local newspapers to rely on. Epidemiologists are worried that this data gap could lead to researchers missing outbreaks, or create gaps in their patterns of how diseases spread, which can make it difficult to control.

But disease outbreaks aren’t the only data point that scientific research can target using local newspapers. Local papers have also been essential in tracking the impacts and unspoken threats from broader changes, like climate change.

In Houston, The Texas Tribune became famous for a seemingly “psychic” article that predicted the city’s unchecked growth and proximity to a warming Gulf of Mexico would soon leave it vulnerable to a hurricane. A little more than a year later, Hurricane Harvey hit, devastating Houston. But, it was pointed out, the Tribune‘s writers weren’t consulting a crystal ball when they wrote their piece; “It was the natural outgrowth of great journalism by reporters who know their subjects and communities well and have covered these issues extensively.”

Reporters that know and can follow up on changes and rumors only told around town as local reporters can are able to see trends too minimal for major papers to pick up on. They also track shifts based on local interest, providing record of change as a process (rather than one only characterized by disaster). For example, research found that local newspapers have increased their sea level rise coverage at a higher rate than that of larger papers since 2012, with The Miami Herald’s coverage of the topic passing up that of The New York Times.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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The context that local news provides is especially important given the “shifting baselines” that come with climate change. This term refers to our tendency to adjust our expectations based on what we see as our current reality. As eloquently described by fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly, who coined the term in 1995: “We transform the world, but we don’t remember it. We adjust our baseline to the new level, and we don’t recall what was there … Every generation will use the images that they got at the beginning of their conscious lives as a standard and will extrapolate forward.”

A recent survey by the Society of Environmental Journalists found that nearly 7 of 10 respondents were “very interested” in covering the local angle of climate change, but nearly 6 of 10 said downsizing in their organization makes it more difficult to do so. Making that possible is up to readers everywhere. Journalism is part of our collective memory, but without support of local news, we risk having some serious gaps in recall.

The post Local Newspapers Are Essential for Saving Us Through Science (Which, Of Course, Means They’re Dying Right Now) appeared first on Futurism.

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Report: Apple plans three new iPhones for 2018—and they’re all like the iPhone X

Enlarge (credit: Samuel Axon)

According to a new report, three new iPhones will launch in 2018, all derived from the design and features of the iPhone X. One would be a direct successor to the iPhone X, another would be a significantly larger cousin with the biggest smartphone screen Apple has yet produced, and the third would be a cheaper version that makes some concessions for cost.

The source, Bloomberg, cites “people familiar with the products.” This report follows several rumors from various points in Apple’s supply chain that have described a similar lineup. The launches are still months away (they will likely come during September, October, or November, given Apple’s past releases), so plans are still subject to change.

According to the report, every model will come with a TrueDepth sensor array for Face ID instead of the Touch ID fingerprint reader. Each would also have an edge-to-edge screen. In other words, the iPhone X is the model for the next wave of Apple smartphones, not the iPhone 8 design whose basic elements can be traced back to 2014’s iPhone 6.

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Chinese discount phone makers were supposed to rival Apple’s iPhone globally. Instead, they’re dying off within China

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Ever since iPhones officially went on sale in China back in 2009, pundits have claimed that local production of cheaper smartphones would not only block Apple’s growth prospects in China but also invade smartphone markets globally. They were wrong, here’s why.
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A New Test Can Read Your Future Child’s Genome While They’re Still in the Womb

Prenatal testing is hardly a new concept — in fact, for parents-to-be, it’s standard practice throughout the course of a normal pregnancy. The gamut of tests available range from routine screenings to highly specific panels that can determine the overall health of the developing fetus, as well as assess its risk for a growing number of genetic conditions. In fact, by using the parents’ genomes, researchers have been able to construct a complete genetic portrait of a developing fetus for nearly a decade. Since the process is invasive, complicated, and costly, it hasn’t yet become commonplace for expectant parents to have their future child’s genome sequenced and analyzed as part of routine prenatal care. But that could be changing.

A new blood-based fetal genetic test, developed by a team at the Beijing Genomics Institute in China, is much simpler than existing methods and can be performed as early as the first trimester of pregnancy. When a person is pregnant, fetal cells can be detected in their blood. The new method scours a sample of the pregnant person’s blood for the most intact-appearing fetal cells, then sequences the DNA.

The team published their research in the journal Prenatal Diagnosis earlier this week. Using the new technique, they successfully sequenced the genomes of two fetuses in the womb. One was found to have gene variants that have been linked to cancer of the bowel, intestinal disorders, and liver disease. The other had a gene variant that’s been linked to a salt imbalance disorder.

A graphic of a strand of DNA colored turquoise blue, on a blue and black background. A new fetal genetic test could bring an unborn fetus' DNA into such close focus.
Image Credit: Creative Commons

While the technique certainly improves upon the previous one, there is concern that the technology may be advancing more rapidly than the general public’s understanding of genetic risk. The impact a gene variant has on an individual’s risk for developing a condition in their lifetime varies depending on other factors — like environment and lifestyle. Discovering the presence of some genetic variants in a fetus who has not yet been exposed to the world, or developed any kind of lifestyle may ultimately carry a very small risk. But in other cases the presence of some variants, like those tied to childhood cancers, could be significant enough that parents-to-be decide to terminate the pregnancy.

Developmental disorders, which are not necessarily life-threatening, would be found somewhere between these two extremes on the spectrum of risk; such knowledge could influence a couple’s decision over whether to continue a pregnancy. These less-well-defined places on the spectrum have been central to the debate over prenatal testing since its inception. Even if this new technique succeeds in making whole-genome testing of fetuses more widely accessible, it likely won’t do much to quell that debate.

For many, the true test of a prenatal screening’s value is its ability to detect a condition that can be remedied or mitigated before birth or very soon after. Experimental in-utero treatments have been progressing parallel to prenatal testing for years, and CRISPR continues to expand our options for treating diseases long believed to be untreatable. While there are still many aspects that remain murky, one thing is abundantly clear: a new era of prenatal testing has been born.

The post A New Test Can Read Your Future Child’s Genome While They’re Still in the Womb appeared first on Futurism.

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Apple iPhone X Users Report They’re Unable to Take Calls

Owners of the pricey iPhone X have been making their way to online forums to complain about being unable to take calls on their handsets.

According to multiple reports, hundreds of users have been affected by a new software flaw that results in their phone’s display freezing.

They’ve taken to Apple’s official support forum to warn others about the latest iPhone X bug. Apparently, they’re receiving calls but cannot answer them because the “slide to answer” function is nowhere to be found.

One user said: “Sometimes the screen does not turn on and this problem can last for a few seconds or remains permanent until I do a forced reboot. They have already sent my phone to service.”

Another explained: “I have the same issue. I have updated to the last OS and still am having the same issues.

The user also said they are “having issues with CarPlay not being recognized sometimes or freezing or the (non-jailbroken) iOS Springboard rebooting while using the phone and specially while CarPlay is active.”

Apple hasn’t commented on the situation, but it’s thought that the company has learnt about the issue and is telling customers to restart their iPhone X. However, according to users, this fix is only temporary. A forum poster claims that it lasts for “15 more calls”, but the problem soon comes back.

While the forum post focuses on the iPhone X, a user quickly points out that this issue extends to some of Apple’s other smartphones. “This happening to literally all iPhones from iPhone SE , 6, 6s, 7 n [and]  X models,” they said.

But after completing a back-up and resetting their handset through the computer, the user suggested that they were able to eradicate the bug. Someone else said they’re having this issue with WhatsApp, too.

A commenter explained that most iPhone X users they know “are facing these issues including my friends and colleagues.”

They said: “There is also another issue i found with proximity sensor while in call. The display doesn’t come back on even when i take away the phone from my ears while on call.”

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