Why Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program Is a Bad Deal For Most

Mark Wilson writes: You may have heard that Apple had a little get together today. There were lots of big launches — the iPhone 6S, the iPhone 6S Plus, and the iPad Pro. Those waiting for an iPhone fix were given quite a lot of get excited about, but like your friendly local drug dealer, Apple has a ‘sweetener’ to help ensure its customers just keep on coming back for more: the iPhone Upgrade Program which lets you upgrade to a new iPhone every year as long as you keep paying each month. On the face of it, it might seem like a good deal — particularly as the price includes Apple Care — but is that really the case? What Apple’s actually doing is feeding the habit of iPhone junkies, keeping their addiction going a little bit longer, and a little bit longer, and a little bit longer. In reality, Apple would like you to perma-rent your iPhone and keep paying through the nose for it. Ideally forever.

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Software Takes On School Science Tests In Search For Common Sense

holy_calamity writes: Making software take school tests designed for human kids can help the quest for machines with common sense, says researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. They’ve made software called Aristo that scores 75 percent on the multiple choice questions that make up most of New York State’s 4th grade science exam. The researchers are urging other researchers to pit their best software against school tests, too, to provide a way to benchmark progress and spur competition.

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Close-Up Images Show Ceres’ Bright Spots In Great Detail

New submitter Actual_Alien writes: Since the Dawn probe arrived at Ceres, everybody has been wondering about the mysterious bright spots on an otherwise dark dwarf planet. New images sent back recently show the spots in better detail than ever — 140 meters per pixel. NASA used composite imagery to get high-quality exposures of both the bright areas and the surrounding dark areas. We can now clearly see a wide, flat crater with a rim that’s almost vertical in spots. The brightest area is right at the center, with other markings to the upper right in the image. Dawn’s orbit around Ceres also allows scientists to look at the crater from other perspectives, and they’ve generated a pair of animations to illustrate better what it looks like. One of them highlights the bright spots, while the other shows color-coded topography.

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UK Researchers Developing Influenza-Resistant Birds

New submitter ravensmith0821 writes: UK researchers are working on disease-resistant chickens, adding a gene to eggs before they hatch that renders the bird less susceptible to avian influenza. Reuters reports: “Their research, which has been backed by the UK government and top chicken companies, could potentially prevent repeats of this year’s wipeout: 48 million chickens and turkeys killed because of the disease since December in the United States alone. But these promising chickens – injected with a fluorescent protein to distinguish them from normal birds in experiments – won’t likely gatecrash their way into poultry production any time soon. Health regulators around the world have yet to approve any animals bred as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for use in food because of long-standing safety and environmental concerns.”

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Alienware’s X51 R3, Revamped With Skylake and Maxwell, Tested and Torn Down

MojoKid writes: Alienware has been relatively quiet for the past 18 months or so with respect to their X51 small form factor gaming systems. However, Intel’s recent Skylake processor launch and NVIDIA’s further optimizations in their Maxwell GPU architecture have given the company a fresh suite of technology to work with to enhance performance and reduce power consumption. As such, the Alienware X51 was given a complete overhaul of the lastest technologies, all of which play very well with the tighter power budgets and thermal constraints of this class of machine. Alienware calls their new machine simply the X51 R3, as it’s the third revision of the product. One of the more unique design changes that Alienware made was to the graphics riser card which plugs into a X20 PCI Express slot on the motherboard. This is a rather unique approach to design efficiency which allows the Samsung NVMe M.2 gumstick Solid State Drive in this machine to ride along shotgun with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960, on the side of a custom riser card. Performance-wise the machine is capable of strong standard compute performance on the desktop and in the latest game titles it’s able to offer up playable frame rates up through 1440p resolution with high image quality settings. Not bad for a console-sized small form factor PC, actually.

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US-Appointed Egg Lobby Paid Food Blogs and Targeted Chef To Crush Vegan Startup

An anonymous reader writes: The American Egg Board targeted publications, popular food bloggers, and a celebrity chef as part of an effort to combat a perceived threat from Hampton Creek, an egg-replacement startup backed by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, according to internal emails. The Gaurdian reports: A detailed review of emails, sent from inside the AEB and obtained by the Guardian, shows that the lobbyist’s anti-Hampton Creek campaign sought to:

Pay food bloggers as much as $ 2,500 a post to write online recipes and stories about the virtue of eggs that repeated the egg lobby group’s “key messages.” Confront Andrew Zimmern, who had featured Hampton Creek on his popular Travel Channel show Bizarre Foods and praised the company in a blog post characterized by top egg board executives as a “love letter.”Target publications including Forbes and Buzzfeed that had written broadly positive articles about a Silicon Valley darling.Unsuccessfully tried to recruit both the animal rights and autism activist Temple Grandin and the bestselling author and blogger Ree Drummond to publicly support the egg industry.Buy Google advertisements to show AEB-sponsored content when people searched for Hampton Creek or its founder Josh Tetrick.

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Researcher: The US Owes the World $4 Trillion For Trashing the Climate

merbs writes: Climate change wasn’t created equal. Rich, industrialized nations have contributed most of the pollution and gone way over their carbon budgets—while smaller, poorer, and more agrarian countries are little to blame. The subsequent warming will, naturally, impact everyone, often hitting the poorer countries harder. So should rich countries pay up? Researcher Damon Matthews has quantified how much historically polluting nations owe their global neighbors—and it’s a lot.

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Plug In an Ethernet Cable, Take Your Datacenter Offline

New submitter jddj writes: The Next Web reports on a hilarious design failure built into Cisco’s 3650 and 3850 Series switches, which TNW terms “A Network Engineer’s Worst Nightmare”. By plugging in a hooded Ethernet cable, you…well, you’ll just have to see the picture and laugh. They write: “The cables, which are sometimes accidentally used in datacenters, feature a protective boot that sticks out over the top to ensure the release tab isn’t accidentally pressed or broken off, rendering the cable useless. That boot would hit the reset button which happened to be positioned directly above port one of the Cisco switch, which causes the device to quietly reset to factory settings.”

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Seeing 2.4 GHz Radio Waves

szczys writes: There was this art piece that circled the internet a few weeks ago which used a tablet to visualize WiFi and other signals and it was complete fake. It was cool, and it approximated where radio waves emanated from, but it wasn’t actually measuring them for display. Greg Charvat has built his career on Radar and other RF design. Seeing that demo he realized he could show you what actual microwaves look like. He used a radar that he built himself from coffee cans. By altering the circuit just a bit he is able to move the receiver around the room and illuminate different LEDs based on the signal traits. A long exposure photograph captures this and lets you see the radio waves. It’s like a charcoal rubbing but for electromagnetic waves.

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Cryptographers Brace For Quantum Revolution

Tokolosh writes: An article in Scientific American discusses the actions needed to address the looming advent of quantum computing and its ability to crack current encryption schemes. Interesting tidbits from the article: “‘I’m genuinely worried we’re not going to be ready in time,’ says Michele Mosca, co-founder of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo…” and “Intelligence agencies have also taken notice. On August 11, the US National Security Agency (NSA) revealed its intention to transition to quantum-resistant protocols when it released security recommendations to its vendors and clients.” Another concern is “intercept now, decrypt later”, which presumably refers to the giant facility in Utah.In related news, an anonymous reader points out that the NSA has updated a page on its website, announcing plans to shift the encryption of government and military data from current cryptographic schemes to new ones that can resist an attack by quantum computers.

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