Category Archives: Technology

The Blue Brain Project and EVIE: The Development of AI

If you watch YouTube, you may know of a YouTuber by the stage name of KSI. He made a video on Evie and his discussion with the artificial intelligence or AI on the computer.

He asked Evie about 9-11 and Evie’s response was very distasteful. If you want to watch the video, you can look it up, but Evie is not a true AI. Evie’s responses are developed by the questions and answers of the people that ask them. The developers never intended for Evie to be “racist” as KSI claimed. He was actually using the system the wrong way. It’s up to us to produce clean content on Evie so people won’t have experiences like this.

Photo from gaggio.blogspirit.com
Photo from gaggio.blogspirit.com

Evie is no Blue Brain Project, a project started in 2005 by Swiss scientists. The aim of the project is to simulate the human mind by using AI. Currently, the Blue Brain is at a level of a rat brain. There are plans for the Blue Brain to hit human brain levels in 2023. However, there is the risk of the AI learning its own language. Earlier this year, Facebook had to “tweak” their models after the chatbots were making a deal in their own language. This language was unknown and still is to some of the smartest people in the world. Facebook was trying to train their “dialog agents” to negotiate. Well, it looks like they found something that will be groundbreaking in the AI world.

However, where the Facebook AI is concerned, the system was never smart, and in reality, it was pretty dumb. The AI learning its own language doesn’t mean anything; it still can’t match the level of a human plus the language was like this: “iii.” Nothing important to the scientific community. The Blue Brain Project reaching the brain level of a human will be a very important accomplishment to those Swiss Scientists. By then, the advancement of the project will be over and studying gene expression will begin. Maybe someone else will use the legacy of the project to develop an AI that is smarter than humans.

The “Impossible” is Now Possible: Video Games in Real Life

Many people have had thoughts before like: “Man, if that weapon on Fallout or Metal Gear Solid was real, imagine the damage it would do.” Well, someone in the U.S. Government had the same thoughts as well.

Various weapons in the video game world like railguns and lasers have been in development for years and are used in some places, while the weapons like plasma are not in use yet. Here are some video game weapons that may  or may not be actually real.

Railgun Specs; photo from science.howstuffworks.com
Railgun Specs; photo from science.howstuffworks.com

Railguns: Actually, railguns have been in development for decades now, with the first patent in the U.S. issued in July 1922 as no. 1,421,435 to a French inventor by the name of Louis Octave Fauchon-Villeplee. However, his development didn’t go too far due to the lack of technology during his time. Nazi Germany in 1944 was looking into the first theoretically possible railgun. The guns were to be mounted with six batteries and would be able to launch twelve rounds per minute. Their plans were thwarted by the Allies in World War II. These plans were found after the war and believed to be “impossible” after studies found that each gun would need enough power to light up half of Chicago. It took until 1962 before an operational railgun was possible, but it was only a scientific study. Then in comes the world of video games, where games like Halo, Metal Gear Solid and Fallout introduced the railgun as a weapon of mass destruction. In recent years, railguns have been created. The U.S. Navy tested a railgun that fired a projectile at the speed of “Mach 7″ in the 2000’s. After the success of that railgun, the U.S. Navy is going to have a railgun in use for intercepting missiles in 2018. Now, that’s something video games couldn’t make up.

LaWS on the USS Ponce; photo from www.stripes.com
LaWS on the USS Ponce; photo from www.stripes.com

Lasers: Some of us have been to places where they have laser tag with the fake guns, but the U.S. Navy (man, why do these guys get all of the new weapons?) has an operational laser weapon in use since 2014 that blinds the enemy. The LaWS, as it is called, will not be in use for long however as the ship it is on, the USS Ponce, will be decommissioned in 2018. The lasers in video games like Mega Man are meant to cut people in half. No words, if the U.S. military is planning to make a weapon like that.

Plasma: In Fallout, a plasma gun means your demise if you’re ever shot with one in online gaming mode. Researchers at the University of Missouri actually were able to create a very weak but impressive plasma gun in 2013. This has opened the possibilities of energy and weapons dealing with plasma, something thought to be impossible.

Death Star from Star Wars: photo from starwars.com
Death Star from Star Wars: photo from starwars.com

Honorable Mention – Death Star: Yeah, this one is impossible, but in 2012, a petition started on the WeThePeople site asking the U.S. Government to build a Death Star from Star Wars. Once the petition reached 25,000 signatures, an official response from the White House was necessary. It turns out it would take 830,000 years to make enough steel and as for the cost: let’s just say, you would need to find a planet made out of diamonds.

 

Featured Image Photo from NextBigFuture.com

To Touch the Sun: NASA’s Unique Mission

NASA has had its fair share of “impossible” missions before, sending a man to the Moon, a probe to Mars, and heck, the two Voyagers are out of our solar system. However, this mission may be the impossible one.

The Parker Solar Probe before its launch; photo from socialunderground.com
The Parker Solar Probe at the APL in Maryland; photo from socialunderground.com

The Parker Solar Probe is set to launch next year as the first probe to make a visit to our nearest star and source of life as we know.  “The probe will face very brutal heat and radiation conditions as it will provide us with a close observation of our sun and ultimately a star,” NASA said in a statement. The probe recently was on display at John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Maryland but before long, the spacecraft will be making its trip back to Florida where it will be launched towards its final destination: the sun.

An artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe near the sun; photo from www.iradehaber.com
An artist’s rendering of the Parker Solar Probe near the sun; photo from www.iradehaber.com

The $1.6 billion mission will also aim to improve space weather forecasts that can impact life on Earth and astronauts in space. Nicola Fox, a project scientist for APL stated, “Parker Solar Probe is going to answer questions about solar physics that we have puzzled over for more than six decades.”

This mission was first considered back in 1958, before the Apollo missions and Mars Rovers, making it one of NASA’s oldest projects on the books. The main reason why it took so long before the mission was because of the sun’s intense heat.  The probe will be 3.9 million miles away from the sun’s surface but will be well within the orbit of Mercury. Even though, the probe won’t “touch the sun,” it will face temperatures on the upwards of 2,500 degrees F.  The probe will launch between the dates of July 31, 2018 and Aug. 19, 2018. The spacecraft will orbit around the sun a total of 24 times in a seven-year period with speeds of 500,000 miles. With speeds like that, you could travel up to California and back in one minute.

 

 

Hewlett Packard to Cut 5,000 Jobs

Hewlett Packard/HP has decided to slash 10% of it’s workforce despite third quarter results that surprised Wall Street. HPE will release 5,000 people by the end of the year according to a Bloomberg report.

The cost-saving move made by CEO Meg Whitman, was to shed under-performing divisions and focus on services devoted to artificial intelligence.

CEO of Hewlett Packard (HP), Meg Whitman – Photo from The Drum

Only four years after taking the CEO job, Whitman has split HPE into two divisions: printers and PC’s (HP) and servers and storage(HPE), each worth $50 billion. HPE has had to play catch up with Amazon and Google in the cloud storage competition. Recently, Whitman’s commitment to HPE was in question when her name came up in the discussions for Uber’s  CEO job.

Whitman has stated that Uber was not a fit for her and had nothing to do with her situation at HPE.

HPE stock has gone up 3% this year and another 0.6% this week after the announcement, but that is lagging compared to the Nasdaq 100’s 21% gain this year.  Whitman has been with HPE for six years and will be with them as long as she wants to be.  She stated, “We have a very special opportunity here and we have plenty of work to do.”

 

 

No, the World Didn’t End on Saturday

Yes, the world is going to end one day; we just don’t know when. That hasn’t stopped people from professing their belief that the world is going to end on a certain date.

We have been obsessed with “The End” of our bedtime stories of humanity. The latest nut-job is David Meade, a self-described specialist when it comes to the end of the world.  He predicted the Rapture, as foretold in the Book of Revelations, will begin on Saturday. (Wait a minute, it’s Sunday and we are still alive. What a shocker.)

David Meade – Photo from The Sun

There was no evidence supporting Meade’s claims of a Planet Nibiru or “Planet X” on a crash course towards Earth. That didn’t stop Meade from making claims. There are several ways in which the world can end. As long as someone can press the magical “red” button, nuclear war is the most likely way the world will end.

Of course, you might have a giant asteroid hit your house and car but the odds of that happening are 1-in-100 million in any given year. Those poor dinosaurs had a very bad year.

Then you might have climate change or global warming ruining your day, but it is doubtful this would lead to the end of the world. How about the over population of the world? Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has stated that we only have until 2100 before we would have to find a new home that is suitable for humans. In 2100, the population is estimated at over 11 billion, but most people alive today would be dead.

Then you have black holes that are never full after eating many stars and planets, but the odds of that happening are so small that we don’t have numbers for it. Another event that could happen is a supernova – the closest one to us is Betelgeuse, a part of the Orion constellation.

A more likely event is a global pandemic like the flu and smallpox killing off the majority of the planet and a biological weapon launched by terrorists and maybe another country. Maybe a super- volcano or robots take us out.

Finally, we have survived everything but one thing: Father Time. The sun runs out of fuel and expands to engulfing Mercury, Venus and possibly the  Earth. The planet will be so hot, no life will be possible. So enjoy life on Earth right now; we only got a billion more years to go.

T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Coming Soon?

Once again, there are talks of a merger with the nation’s number 3 and 4 wireless providers. What does this mean for customers and the future of providers?

Logo from Consumerist

T-Mobile and Sprint have considered combining forces before. In 2014, they came close to a merger but due to the Obama Administration’s policies at the time, the merger would had been declined. Now with a new administration under President Trump, the companies have a renewed interest in a merger.

If the companies were to merge, here’s what might likely happen to customers of Sprint and T-Mobile.

Customers of T-Mobile right now get free Netflix and  MLB.TV mobile viewing, which would mean Sprint customers would get those same perks. T-Mobile customers in return would get access to Tidal, a company that Sprint acquired a 33% stake in January. All customers would see an increase in pricing.

However, according to the former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and former assistant to attorney general for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, Bill Baer, prices will rise for customers due to the lack of competition, which was why Softbank failed to acquire T-Mobile.

The two companies would most likely be able to get a deal approved by the Trump Administration as they are “more willing listeners.” Donna Hitscherich, a senior lecturer at Columbia Business School stated, “Obviously, they are not going to do the deal and hope to lose subscribers, unless maybe there is a swath of subscribers that are not as profitable as others.”

Shares in both companies were up more than 4% since the news of a merger came out on Tuesday.

 

Equifax Breach: It Could Have Been Stopped Months Ago

Just this week, I got an email from my bank notifying me about the Equifax data breach. It told me that my account info was safe but to always keep an eye on the account. I was one of the fortunate ones, but millions weren’t so lucky. On Friday, it was announced that Chief Information Officer for Equifax, Susan Mauldin and Chief Security Officer, David Webb had “retired,” effective immediately. More or less, they got fired.

Photo from MGN Online through WTVA News

Thus, the story should end now but it’s only beginning.  The Equifax Security team had a fix for the flaw in the system months ago but never bother to put it to use. Hackers took advantage of the window and stole millions of people’s personal info, including bank info.

Equifax is facing at least 23 class-action lawsuits and counting along with a federal probe from two different government agencies. The stock in the company has gone down a third since the breach was announced.

Mark Rohrwasser will be replacing Mauldin as the interim chief information officer. Prior to the promotion, he had led the international IT operations. Russ Ayres will replace Webb as chief security officer.

Advice to those who were affected and could be affected: change any passwords you might have, and check your account daily. Don’t worry, your bank is checking for fraud from any weird sources, and lastly, don’t hit the panic button yet. You do have a case against Equifax if you lost any money and you should get in contact with an attorney.

Steps to a safe account:

1. Strong and Unique Passwords (don’t use the same password twice)

2. Two-factor authentication

3. Good antimalware on ALL devices

4. Update any outdated software

5. Backup your info on “the cloud” or on a USB

These are the steps to stop hackers from getting into your info. Events like Equifax will become commonplace.

Things to Remember when looking for A New Smartphone

We are in the very beginning stages of the holiday season and that means one thing: shopping.

Apple, with their announcement of the new iPhone 8 and X on September 12th, marked the unofficial start of the season.  Along with the news came price cuts to the iPhone 6 and 7. You might be on the lookout for a new phone, and here’s what to remember when buying a phone or getting a contract for a phone.

The Apple Company Logo
The Apple Company Logo

Memory Size:  Phones can get very costly, fast.  For example, getting the iPhone 8 with 256GB will cost you $850 and don’t even get started on the 8 Plus and X costs.  So getting the 64GB iPhone would be the smart move here and it would also save you hundreds of dollars. Besides, do you even use over 36GB? That’s more than enough for me.

This year’s model or last year’s: Now, if you want to save a buck or two, going to an iPhone 7 or 7Plus would be the best option.  The price for a 7 with 32GB has gone from $649 to $549. A whole Ben Franklin saved just by getting a older model, and by the way, it’s the same thing as the iPhone 8 which comes out next week.

Camera Quality: This one is really obvious. I mean really…do I have to write it?  Ok, I will. These are the most outrageous prices that most will ever see for a phone, a damn phone. However, the iPhone X has all the gadgets, bells, and whistles ever needed for any photographer. A 3D camera with a sapphire cover with a six element lens. This thing has so many gadgets that this article would be small compared to all of the iPhone X’s specs.  However, pre-orders don’t start until October 27th and the phone itself won’t be available until November 3rd. Don’t even get started on pricing; prices start at $999 before taxes and storage choices.  So, whichever phone you choose, remember, nothing is cheap.

Latest on iPhone 8 and When it Might be Released

Apple’s newest smartphone will be on every teenager’s Christmas list, and yet we haven’t gotten the usual conference from Apple introducing the phone.  Here’s the latest on when the iPhone will come out and what types there will be to choose from.

In August, Apple sent out invitations to journalists to an event on September 12 at its newest headquarters. Usually, this means that the week after the event, the device will be released. While everyone is jumping up and down in joy, they might want to reconsider after seeing the changes and price of the phone.

The Apple Logo

There are rumors circling around that the phone has a price tag of almost $1000! You might want to keep that iPhone7 for a couple more years. The colors look like they’re going to be the same; however, there is a third color thought to be a rose gold or copper along with the standard black and white colors. The screen gets major upgrades (or downgrades) as the button in the middle is gone and you get a full screen, an edge-to-edge display.  The screen will be as big as an iPhone7+ but the phone will be the size of an iPhone7.

Gone along with the home button is the Touch ID fingerprint scanner; to replace it is a new infrared scanner that uses a facial recognition software. This was developed in response to Samsung’s Galaxy 8’s similar technology. Of course with a new iPhone comes with it a new iOS that will be available to users of older iPhones.  Also, there is an update to the camera as now it will have 3D to go with the facial scanning. The biggest problem Apple has is wireless charging; they will try to answer the issues but don’t expect a solution this year but rather a new version next year.

Apple is undoubtedly recognized by all Americans. Expect a lot of people to wait in line, drop $1000, and brag about forgetting to pay their bills just to get a small brick.

Weekly App Review: Zello

Photo from zello.com
Photo from zello.com

Today, starts a new weekly series where I will review some of the best apps for college students and rate them from a 1 to 10 scale.

However, to make the series fair, there will be three rules to follow by:

1. Apps must be free to the user. However, this excludes apps that are free but have in-game purchases like Madden Mobile and Temple Run.

2. Apps must be low users of data, so that will disqualify  Madden from future consideration.

3. Apps must be on both Android and Apple Play stores.

So with that, let’s get started.

With this hurricane season being as bad as it has been, people have to get creative when the power goes out. So in comes Zello, the walkie talkie on your phone.  Zello claims that its app works with 4G, 3G, 2G, and WiFi, claims most apps can’t make. With over 50 million downloads in the Google Play Store and a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, this app has the fame to back itself up. But does it have enough to stand with me?

The app has over 10 MB to download which isn’t too bad, and it did not take long at all for it to download for me.  I realize when I open the app, Zello wants me to create an account with a username and everything just like in college. Just something else you have to remember. It also wants access to phone contacts, photos, and text messages, another thing I don’t care for. After accepting its requests, it now wants me to create a profile. That takes me about 5 minutes to finish, and now Zello is available for use. Without even using it yet, I notice my battery level and see it is down to 88% from 95% in those 5 minutes.

When testing the audio, I am impressed that the audio I recorded was crystal clear compared to apps like Tango and Facebook Messenger. However, just like any app. when the cell towers go down, the app will not work.  So that means the app is only good for conservations and not even for storms when the power goes out. Now that’s a major bummer.

This app is just like Tango and Facebook Messenger which are just like Zello but with video chats. If you are trying to save on data plans, I would recommend for you to download this app; otherwise just keep your Messenger.

Rating: Five out of Ten stars: More like Jello

 

 

New App That Finds Clean Bathrooms

I know, going to a public bathroom sucks. I hated going to a bathroom and seeing someone’s number two just because they were too lazy to flush the damn toilet. No more of that nonsense as we now have an app (Apple does at least; Android will have to wait until next month), that helps you find a clean bathroom. This, however, is only available in the San Francisco area; you will have to wait until next year for the app in New York.

The founder of Good2Go and CEO Fran Heller said in a statement, “We believe that technology can serve people’s everyday needs.”

The business model is highly attractive as people want to go in a nice, clean public bathroom if they need to go at some point. Stores will have to support the app which means they will pay the company to promote their bathrooms as user-friendly.

The main question people will be asking is why the app will cost $19.99 for monthly use and $2.99 for daily when bigger companies like Procter and Gamble run watered down versions for absolutely free. For a year’s use of Good2Go, you would be spending $240 just to use a clean bathroom and even then someone could be lying just to make their business look good.

I guess that’s the price for living in California. Maybe next time just use the bathroom with the unflushed crap in the toilet. At least it won’t cost you a dollar in the long run.

People interpret emojis in different ways

Emojis are used very widely by a diverse range of people. A recent study hoped to find how individuals interpret emojis, and if there was a general consensus among individuals about what different emojis meant.

The study, led by researchers from a Research lab, called GroupLens, at the University of Minnesota, found that individuals often view emojis in different ways. The discoveries will be presented in May at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s Conference on Web and Social Media in Germany.

Emojis can be cryptic in meaning. Graphic from Get Emoji
Emojis can be cryptic in meaning. Graphic from Get Emoji

The study discovered that individuals who viewed the same emoji disagreed on if the emoji expressed a negative, neutral or positive feeling approximately 25 percent of the time. For 95 percent of emojis, individuals did not strongly agree on what feeling the emoji expressed.

Each mobile platform has its own version of emojis, because of this, interpreting emojis can be particularly problematic when the sender and the receiver are using separate platforms.

The study’s participants, made up of 334 individuals, rated a total of 125 emojis. They were asked to rate the feeling expressed by an emoji on a scale from –5 (strongly negative) to 5 (strongly positive).

The researchers discovered, on average, that when two individuals viewed the same emoji, their feeling ratings were different by approximately 1.8 points, and when they looked at different versions of the same emoji, their ratings were different by approximately 2 points.

Individuals used contrasting words to describe the different renderings of the same emojis. For instance, when viewing the emoji of a “person raising both hands in celebration” individuals used words like “hand” or “celebrate” to describe the emoji from the Apple version, and words like “exciting” or “high” to describe the Microsoft version.

According to the study, the findings suggest that it would benefit users to merge the design of emojis across all platforms, which could lower the probability of miscommunication.

According to researchers, future studies may determine how individuals view emojis when they are viewed in the context of a text message, or if individuals from separate cultures also view emojis differently. Because the new study only looked at emoji with human characteristics, or anthropomorphic, future studies could investigate how individuals view non-anthropomorphic emojis.

Brain implant allows paralyzed man move his hands using his thoughts

After diving into a shallow wave at a beach and hitting the sandy bottom, Ian Burkhart severely injured his spinal cord and became paralyzed when he was only 19 years old. He lost the ability to use his legs and forearms due to where the injury occurred on his body.

According to a recent study, Burkhart, now 24 years old, has recovered his ability to move his wrist, hand and some of his fingers by using an electrical device that was implanted into his brain. The electrical device is connected to a sleeve of electrodes that he wears on his forearm.

Burkhart has recovered the functional movements by using the electrical device, said Chad Bouton. Bouton is the lead author of the study published April 13 in the journal Nature and the division leader, at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York, of neurotechnology and analytics.

Ian Burkhart, first person to benefit from the neural bypass technology. Image from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center/Batelle.

According to Bouton, in order for Burkhart to recover his individual finger movements, the researchers had to discover and decipher certain brain signals. Soon after, they had to evaluate the electrical impulse pattern required to release on his forearm.

The researchers and doctors embedded a device with microelectrodes into the part of the brain that controls movement, his motor cortex. When Burkhart wears the sleeve, he has the ability to move and control his arm using brain-computer-interface technology, to translate these signals into electrical pulses in an individual’s’ brain, by using a computer. The sleeve’s 130 electrodes emits electrical impulses to his muscles, which makes them contract.

In an individual who is not paralyzed, signals from the brain move down the spinal cord to nerves connected to muscles in the body, making those muscles move. In paralyzed individuals, because of spinal cord injury, these signals still happen in the brain, yet can’t be transmitted to muscles. To deliver the signals directly to Burkhart’s muscles, the microchip in his brain and the electrode sleeve bypass the injury.

Burkhart can now complete daily tasks with his hand, including the ability to swipe a credit card, pour water into a cup and play Guitar Hero, with the electrical device’s help.

Fundamentally, Burkhart has the ability to make these movements by “mastering his thoughts,” said Dr. Ali Rezai. Rezai is a neurosurgeon at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center where Burkhart was treated, and senior author of the study.

According to researchers, Burkhart’s capacity to move several of his fingers is a noteworthy discovery. They hope that one day this electrical device technology could help other individuals with paralysis, as well as individuals who, due to strokes or traumatic brain injuries, have lost movement.

NSA surveillance: protection or violation?

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) claims that the “NSA/CSS exists to protect the Nation”.

In 2013, a federal U.S. judge ruled that the National Security Agency phone surveillance program was lawful. The agency, however, is known to break the law on a large scale and lie about it.

If you’ve never heard the name Edward Snowden uttered in any political debate or in the news, you should probably learn the importance of his name. Edward Snowden is a former Intelligence Community officer and has been called anywhere from a hero, a whistleblower, a patriot, or a traitor. In May 2013, he revealed documents that provided a look into the NSA and its secret mass surveillance programs and capabilities.

The documents disclosed that the NSA was operating without public oversight and outside the limits of the US Constitution. Snowden was charged with theft of government property, and two charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. The revelations that Snowden divulged led to attention around the world on privacy intrusions and digital security, and now the issue is a global debate.

In an interview with The Guardian, Edward Snowden said, “I don’t want to live in a world where everything I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity and love or friendship is recorded.”

Do any of us wants to live in a society that does these things? And even further with no hint of probable cause, and no sham of due process. The NSA has been thoughtlessly and carelessly forcing violence against freedom, ever since the agency was founded on November 4, 1952.

“To live with the benefits of technology, should we also have to deal with the consequences as well?” Graphic from quickmeme.com

The NSA surveillance that invades our privacy because of “national security” was a complete secret before Edward Snowden blew the “freedom” whistle. The phone surveillance violates the fourth amendment in respect to Americans’ privacy rights, and it also violates our natural sense of personal privacy.

Concerning these issues, the government is the one in violation of the laws and should be held accountable, right? But Edward Snowden was the one who was charged and seen as the traitor and as the criminal, for doing the right thing and letting us know that we’re being watched. The government is just hiding its own abusive power, and saving themselves.

To live with the benefits of technology, should we also have to deal with the consequences as well?

Benjamin Franklin, a radical defender of freedom once said, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” This quote has been used by anti-war protestors, and for protests against the National Security Agency’s surveillance program.

The quote has many variations, and has been taken out of context multiple times and is originally “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” However, despite the lack of context and the more-modern form of the quote, believe that Benjamin Franklin would agree with what the quote has been modernized to illustrate.

Industrial technology: solving our problems or providing them?

This semester, I’ve been taking an introductory Philosophy course on Ethics and Society (PHIL 112). I’ll try my best not to ramble on about how I love the course so much, so much so that I decided to change my major from Fashion Design to Philosophy and Religious Studies.

One thing is for sure: this course has challenged my thinking on many things—especially on how we treat our world, the only world that we’ve been given. Through industrial technology and industrialization, we have become a destructive presence on Earth.

We are still dealing with the consequences of industrial technology.

We begin a kind of fragmentation of the world. We look at the world in parts, not as a whole; looking at the world as market value. Corporations and privileged people in power look to spend the least amount of money for the most profit.

“Corporations will do anything to save a penny.” Cartoonist: Justin Bilicki

We begin replacing human workers with machines, market products regardless of usefulness or effects, to make the highest possible profit and concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands. All with a maxim that all competition is for competition’s sake.

We can continue to insist that our land-destroying, water-and-air polluting agriculture is the only way, because it’s the most accessible and widespread way of doing so. Economically, “green” ways of production and agriculture are the most financially straining, they cost the most amount of money. Corporations will do anything to save a penny.

We live in this notion that we live on a planet that is unlimited with resources. This notion of an unlimited source of resources is because we’re ashamed about how we’ve lived in the world as a destructive presence. These natural resources that the world depends on, we use destructively and foolishly. We stay oblivious, unaware and naive of the detrimental effects of agriculture and industrialization. We’re headed towards an entire eradication of human beings and a destruction of our planet, because of our finite resources.

We are being programmed that this is supporting “our way of life”, so it is obviously beneficial. “Our ‘natural resources’ are naturally occurring, and so they will not be depleted.” Is this not a way of corruption of young minds? We are not educated to know that one day our actions will catch up to us, as they are currently doing, and will cause a landslide of “unintended” consequences.

The violence towards our own world brings money to our culture. The industrial society is the most violent the world has ever known, and we’re all complicit in it.

But technology solves our problems, right?

iPhone SE: Good things can come in small packages

Image from apple.com
Apple’s latest iPhone model. Image from apple.com

On Thursday, March 31, Apple released the iPhone SE, the latest model of the smartphone that has been around since the first generation was released on June 29, 2007. iPhone SE may look like an updated iPhone 5s with the specs of an iPhone 6s, but the small phone still has a lot going for it. However, if you don’t want to switch from a large screen, you probably don’t want to switch to a four-inch phone, and are better off waiting until the estimated release date of the iPhone 7 in September 2016.

Here are the looks and the technical specifications of the new iPhone SE model, laid out in an easy-to-read format so you can see if the latest model is just what the doctor ordered. 


Design Features

Size

If you don’t want to switch from a 5s to a larger, more impractical sized, phone, the iPhone SE has the same four-inch screen that’s easy to use — you can type easily with one hand, and reach all four corners of the screen of your phone.

Color

The iPhone SE is available in four colors: silver, gold, space gray and rose gold.

The colors of the iPhone SE. Image from apple.com

Other Design Features

The new iPhone SE has a stainless steel Apple logo inset, instead of an Apple logo stamped-on the back of the phone.

The chamfered edges of the iPhone 5s have been redesigned as “refined” and are now more matte than before.

The iPhone SE features a somewhat thicker design, and doesn’t have a bump where the camera is placed.

Tech Specs

Display

The iPhone SE features a 4-inch LED-backlit Retina display with a 1136‑by‑640‑pixel resolution at 326 ppi. The contrast ratio is 800:1, the same as the iPhone 5s. However, if you’re switching from an iPhone 6s (or 6s Plus), they feature 1400:1 and 1300:1 contrast ratios, which is a big difference to take in.

Chip

The iPhone SE features an A9 chip with 64‑bit architecture, with an embedded M9 motion coprocessor. This means that the latest model has the same great performance as the iPhone 6s. The M9 motion coprocessor collects, processes, and stores sensor data, which improves functionality further.

iSight Camera

The iPhone SE iSight camera is rated at 12-megapixels with1.22µ pixels and an ƒ/2.2 aperture.

Video Recording

The new iPhone SE can shoot and edit 4k (3840 by 2160) video at 30fps. It shoots slow-motion video at 240fps (720p) and 120fps (1080p) and 1080p HD video at 30fps or 60fps, and 720p HD video recording at 30fps.

FaceTime HD Camera

The FaceTime HD Camera on the iPhone SE takes 1.2-megapixel photos, 720p HD video recording with an ƒ/2.4 aperture.

Retina Flash allows your iPhone SE screen to flash three times brighter than it normally does on models prior to the iPhone 6s. The features measures current lighting conditions, and a True Tone flash matches ambient light.

Touch ID

The iPhone SE features the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is built into the Home button. It’s not as fast as the iPhone 6s’, however, but it’s not noticeable unless you hold either of these phones in each hand.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay allows you to use your device to pay with your iPhone SE using Touch ID in stores and within apps.

Power and Battery

The iPhone SE gets up to 14 hours of talk time on 3G, up to 13 hours on Wi-Fi and LTE of internet use, up to 13 hours of video playback, up to 50 hours of audio playback, and has a standby time of up to 10 days.

Sensors

The iPhone SE doesn’t feature 3D touch, because it’s using the same display technology as the iPhone 5s. But if you haven’t had a iPhone 6s, and even if you do, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.


The iPhone SE has an entry-level price for the 16 GB model of $399, and compared to the iPhone 6 prices from $549 and the iPhone 6s prices from $649 and up, you get enough bang for your buck without breaking the bank.

Snapchat’s new update

Snapchat released a new update, called Chat 2.0 on Tuesday March 29, unveiling 6 new features to add new practical services to the app.

This update, for me at least, wasn’t easily recognizable, except for one key feature — an auto-lay function for Stories. The auto-play function allows users to view each story back-to-back. Personally, and for some of my friends, this feature didn’t go over too well. I like to click on each video one-by-one, to view the stories I want to see, in the order I want to see them. The look of the feature isn’t preferable either, you can barely tell who the story is by because of the small header in the upper left hand corner.

However, after searching through the rest of the updates, I can faithfully say that this update has a lot more going for it. First of all, Snapchat lets people send video and audio messages, and even make voice calls — watch out Skype.

Snapchat’s new voice call feature. Graphic from http://money.cnn.com/

In addition, you can also set up a video call with multiple friends on Snapchat. They can either put on their own audio or video, or simply watch the lifestream and message to the group. Anything you film in the video call, however, can’t be saved or downloaded to your phone.

On top of the new Stories and chat features, Snapchat also revealed brand new stickers, which you can use when sending messages or chatting across the app.

 

 

Snapchat has been pressed to stay in the social media and network competition because less and less people have been spending time on the app. Getting people to use the app and keeping their attention can be hard to do, but I believe, if they keep releasing useful services through updates on their app, Snapchat can continue to grow.

However, Snapchat has a huge competitor coming close in the race. On the same day as Snapchat’s new update, Tuesday March 29, Instagram made an announcement stating that the time limit of videos uploaded to Instagram was raised from 15 seconds, to 60 seconds. Time will see if this is announcement will become an advantage for the platform.

Additionally, every single one of Snapchat’s features exist on other platforms including Facebook, Google Hangouts, Skype and WhatsApp. However, having all of these services inside one app could prove to be an advantage for keeping people on Snapchat.

New app lets you lend your dog and borrow another

Anna Browne is a woman who loves dogs, but unfortunately can’t be responsible for a dog of her own. She discovered an app called Bark’N’Borrow. The app allows for people who don’t have room for a dog, or can’t completely take care of a dog of their own, to be able to borrow other people’s dogs for a small vacation or simply a doggy sleepover.

Browne found the app because she loves corgis but wasn’t ready to have her own. She states “I live in a studio… I work late most nights.” As someone who works in financial services, Browne desperately wanted a cute little pooch to cuddle with at night, but the responsible person in her knew a long term commitment like owning dog wasn’t appropriate for her at this point in her life.

dog
“The app’s founder, Berkeley, individually reviews and approves every borrower’s profile.”

The app, Bark’N’Borrow, allows for dog owners to reach out to dog lovers who can’t have their own man’s best friend. The CEO and Founder Liam Berkeley said “This is the next best thing between not owning a dog and committing to one.”  It allows for dogs to continue to be put into safe environments, with people who have the time, space, and money to take care of them.

This app, however, isn’t just for people who don’t have the time or space to take care of dogs, it’s also for owners who wish to give their dogs more socialization, exposure to new environments and people. Weiling Chen, the owner of Sam the Corgi, made a profile for Sam after hearing about Bark’N’Borrow.

She said she had some initial hesitations, “It sounded a little odd but you kind of figure if they’re dog owners or dog lovers than it shouldn’t be too bad,” Chen said.

She had found a few potential borrowers, but Browne has become her favorite. “It’s like a delight,” Browne said. “On the weekend if I can hang out with a corgi for a couple of hours it’s amazing.”

To prevent the types of people who go on this app who want to hurt the dogs, the app’s founder, Berkeley, individually reviews and approves every borrower’s profile.

If you want to borrow a sweet, little, cute dog for a short period of time, check out Bark’N’Borrow.