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iOS 12 on the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Mini 2: It’s actually faster!

Ars - Mon, 2018-09-17 12:00

Enlarge / iOS 12 is the rare update that actually noticeably improves performance across a range of older devices. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

When we tested iOS 11 on the iPhone 5S, it was clear that it was slower than iOS 10 had been but that the iPhone 5S’ hardware was fast enough to keep everything usable. That’s especially true if you tempered your expectations: the phone was going on four years old at the time.

But at the time, some of you asked us to test a handful of other older iOS devices, particularly the A7-equipped iPad Air and Mini 2 and the A8-equipped iPhone 6 Plus. In the iPads, the same A7 CPU and GPU that powers the iPhone 5S’ screen has to adequately support a tablet with more than three times as many pixels. And the A8 in the 6 Plus draws a 2208×1242 image which is then downscaled to the phone’s 1080p screen; that means using a CPU that was around 25 percent faster than the A7 and a GPU that was only 50 percent faster to support a phone with 277 percent as many pixels.

The upshot is that those devices can often feel sluggish or laggy compared to subsequent models. Later Apple chips—from the A8X in the iPad Air 2 and the A9 in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus onward, approximately—remain more than fast enough to run iOS 11 without any huge degradation of performance. But with iOS 12 this year, we’re testing an iPad Mini 2 and iPhone 6 Plus in addition to the old 5S to get an idea of how well Apple was able to improve the responsiveness of these older devices, many of which are still in use as secondary phones and tablets or hand-me-downs (or by people who just see no particular reason to upgrade).

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iOS 12, thoroughly reviewed

Ars - Mon, 2018-09-17 12:00

Enlarge / iOS 12 on an iPhone X. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple's iOS 12 software update is available today for supported iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices, and on the surface, it looks like one of the smallest new iOS releases Apple has pushed out.

This isn't a surprise; Apple said earlier this year that iOS 12 would be more about performance and stability than adding new features. Some major additions that were originally planned—like an overhauled home screen—were reportedly delayed to a later release.

And it's also not a bad thing. Frankly, iOS 11 had some problems. Apple released several small updates in late 2017 and throughout 2018 to fix those problems, all while battling some frustrated customers' perceptions that the company was deliberately making older devices obsolete to encourage new sales as overall smartphone sales slowed their growth industry-wide.

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Haley accuses Russia of 'cheating' to help North Korea evade sanctions

CNN - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:57
The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slammed Russia Monday, accusing Moscow of "cheating" and acting like a "virus" by helping North Korea evade international sanctions aimed at curbing Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Why did we evolve to feel shame?

Futurity.org - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:47

Evolution built shame into human nature because it served an important function for our foraging ancestors, a new paper argues.

Living in small, highly interdependent bands, the researchers explain, our ancestors faced frequent life-threatening reversals, and counted on fellow band members to value them enough during bad times to pull them through. So having others devalue our ancestors—deeming them unworthy of help—was literally a threat to their survival.

Therefore, when considering how to act, it was critical to weigh the direct payoff of a potential action (e.g., how much will I benefit by stealing this food?) and against its social costs (e.g., how much will others devalue me if I steal the food—and how likely is it that they will find out?).

The researchers hypothesize that the intensity of anticipated shame people feel is an internally generated prediction of just how much others will devalue them if they take a given action. Moreover, if this feature was part of human nature, it should be observed everywhere—in every culture.

To test for universality, they selected a linguistically, ethnically, economically, and ecologically diverse set of cultures scattered around the world. In these 15 traditional, small-scale societies, the researchers found that the intensity of shame people feel when they imagine various actions (stealing, stinginess, laziness, etc.) accurately predicts the degree to which those actions would lead others in their social world to devalue them.

Feelings and what others think of us

“In a world without soup kitchens, police, hospitals, or insurance, our ancestors needed to consider how much future help they would lose if they took various actions that others disapprove of but that would be rewarding in other ways,” says lead author Daniel Sznycer, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Montreal.

“The feeling of shame is an internal signal that pulls us away from acts that would jeopardize how much other people value our welfare,” Sznycer says.

“For this to work well, people can’t just stumble about, discovering after the fact what brings devaluation. That’s too late,” says Leda Cosmides, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, codirector of the university’s Center for Evolutionary Psychology, and a coauthor of the paper, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “In making choices among alternative actions, our motivational system needs to implicitly estimate in advance the amount of disapproval each alternative action would trigger in the minds of others.”

A person who did only what others wanted would be selected against, the authors point out, because they would be completely open to exploitation. On the other hand, a purely selfish individual would be shunned rapidly as unfit to live with in this highly interdependent world—another dead end.

“This leads to a precise quantitative prediction,” says John Tooby, a professor of anthropology, CEP codirector, and a coauthor of the paper. “Lots of research has shown that humans can anticipate personal rewards and costs accurately, like lost time or food. Here we predicted that the specific intensity of the shame a person would anticipate feeling for taking an action would track how much others in their local world would negatively evaluate the person if they took that specific act.

“The theory we’re evaluating,” he continues, “is that the intensity of shame you feel when you consider whether to take a potential action is not just a feeling and a motivator; it also carries vital information that seduces you into making choices that balance not only the personal costs and benefits of an action but also its social costs and benefits.

“Shame takes the hypothetical future disapproval of others, and fashions it into a precisely calibrated personal torment that looms the closer the act gets to commission or discovery,” he says.

A universal warning signal

According to the authors, shame—like pain—evolved as a defense. “The function of pain is to prevent us from damaging our own tissue,” says Sznycer. “The function of shame is to prevent us from damaging our social relationships, or to motivate us to repair them if we do.”

As a neural system, shame inclines you to factor in others’ regard alongside private benefits so the act associated with the highest total payoff is selected, the authors argue. A key part of the argument is that this neurally based motivational system is a part of our species’ biology.

“If that is true, we should be able to find this same shame-devaluation relationship in diverse cultures and ecologies all around the world, including in face-to-face societies whose small scale echoes the more intimate social worlds in which we think shame evolved,” Sznycer notes.

To test this hypothesis, the team collected data from 15 traditional small-scale societies in four continents. The people in these societies speak very different languages (e.g., Shuar, Amazigh, Icé-tód), have diverse religions (e.g., Hinduism, Shamanism), and make a living in different ways (e.g., hunting, fishing, nomadic pastoralism).

“…[Shame] is elegantly engineered to deter harmful choices and make the best of a bad situation.”

If shame is part of universal, evolved human nature, the research should find that the emotion closely tracks the devaluation of others, for each specific act, in each community; but if shame is more akin to a cultural invention like agriculture or the alphabet, present in some places but not others, they should find wide variation from place to place in this relationship. Indeed, anthropologists have long proposed that some cultures are guilt-oriented, some are fear-oriented, and some are shame-honor.

Yet, the authors found the predicted relationships everywhere they tested. “We observed an extraordinarily close match between the community’s negative evaluation of people who display each of the acts or traits they were asked about and the intensities of shame individuals anticipate feeling if they took those acts or displayed those traits,” Sznycer says. “Feelings of shame really move in lockstep with the values held by those around you, as the theory predicts.”

Further studies, he adds, have demonstrated that it is specifically shame—as opposed to other negative emotions—that tracks others’ devaluation.

“Moral wrongdoing is not necessary,” says Sznycer. “In other research we showed that individuals feel shame when others view their actions negatively, even when they know they did nothing wrong.”

In our nature

Of interesting note, anticipated shame mirrored not only the disapproval of fellow community members, but also the disapproval of (foreign) participants in each of the other societies. For example, the shame expressed by the Ik forager-horticulturalists of Ikland, Uganda, mirrored not only the devaluation expressed by their fellow Iks, but also the devaluation of fishermen from the Island of Mauritius; pastoralists from Khövsgöl, Mongolia; and Shuar forager-horticulturalists of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

What’s more, shame mirrored the devaluation of foreigners living nearby in geographic or cultural space just as well as it mirrored the devaluation of foreigners living farther and farther away—another indication of shame’s universality.

These findings suggest that shame is a biological capacity that is part of human nature (such as the ability to speak a language), and not a cultural invention present only in some populations (such as the ability to read or write).

“Shame’s reputation isn’t pretty,” Sznycer concludes, “but a closer look indicates that this emotion is elegantly engineered to deter harmful choices and make the best of a bad situation.”

Additional coauthors of the paper came from the University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of Connecticut; East China Normal University; the Russian Academy of Sciences; the University of Auckland; the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History; Arizona State University; the Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas; Rutgers University; Aoyama Gakuin University; Fukuoka University; University of Nigeria; Universidad San Francisco de Quito; the University of Oregon; and Shiga University.

Source: UC Santa Barbara

The post Why did we evolve to feel shame? appeared first on Futurity.

Profile: Jill Lepore on Writing the Story of America (in 1,000 Pages or Less)

NY Times - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:43
After writing a shelf of books mining forgotten incidents and obscure lives, the Harvard scholar and New Yorker writer offers history on a grand scale.

A Trove of Lincoln Artifacts Heads to Auction

NY Times - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:41
The scholar Harold Holzer has spent his life collecting more than 700 paintings and other material related to the 16th president.

Ajit Pai calls California’s net neutrality rules “illegal”

Ars - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:39

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

California's attempt to enforce net neutrality rules is "illegal" and "poses a risk to the rest of the country," Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said in a speech on Friday.

Pai's remarks drew an immediate rebuke from California Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored the net neutrality bill that passed California's legislature and now awaits the signature of Governor Jerry Brown.

California's net neutrality rules are "necessary and legal because Chairman Pai abdicated his responsibility to ensure an open Internet," Wiener said in a press release.

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Russians tried to hack Swiss lab testing samples from Skripal attack

Ars - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:19

Enlarge / This picture, taken on September 14, 2018, shows the Spiez Laboratory, Swiss Federal Institute for NBC-Protection (nuclear, biological, chemical), in Spiez, 40km from the capital Bern, as Swiss newspapers reported that two Russian agents suspected of trying to spy on the laboratory were arrested in the Netherlands and expelled early this year. At the time, Spiez was analyzing data related to poison gas attacks in Syria, as well as the March 4 attack using the nerve agent Novichok on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, Swiss newspapers reported. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Last Friday, Dutch officials revealed that they had arrested and expelled two alleged Russian intelligence agents who were caught attempting to hack into the Spiez Laboratory, a Swiss national laboratory that is home to the Swiss Federal Institute for NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) Protection.

The Spiez lab was testing two sets of samples that were of interest to the Russian government on behalf of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW): the "Novichok" agent used in an attack in the UK against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia and samples from a poison gas attack in Syria. The OPCW's headquarters is in The Hague in the Netherlands, which may explain why the attack on the Spiez lab was launched from there.

The incident, reported both by Joep Dohmen of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad and by Thomas Knellwolf and Titis Plattner of the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, occurred this spring. The circumstances of the arrests were not shared. An investigation carried out jointly by the two papers found that the pair were arrested as the result of a joint operation by multiple European intelligence services in Europe, including the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD). The Swiss intelligence service, the NDB, issued a statement confirming a "case of Russian spies discovered in The Hague and then expelled."

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Books of The Times: At the Close of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ‘My Struggle,’ a Magician Loses His Touch

NY Times - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:13
Vital writing and interesting ideas are buried in this endurance test of a novel, which includes a 400-page section about Hitler in addition to Knausgaard’s usual autobiographical musings.

Read the letter accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct

CNN - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:08
The following is the text of the letter Christine Blasey Ford wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein detailing an event in which she accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. CNN was not provided a copy of the letter sent to Feinstein, but a source who had the letter read the contents of a redacted version to CNN.

15 countries and one US state team up to fight gambling in video games

Ars - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:07

Enlarge / Buying this innocuous-looking Overwatch loot box could be considered a form of gambling.

Thus far, the fight to regulate video game loot boxes has been a piecemeal effort moving forward in very different ways in different jurisdictions. Today, though, an international group of regulators from 15 European regulation bodies and Washington state in the US signed a declaration stating their increasing concern "with the risks being posed by the blurring of lines between gambling and other forms of digital entertainment such as video gaming."

The declaration identifies four specific areas of concern:

  • Skin betting—Third-party sites that allow users to wager money or in-game items for a chance at earning better items. Valve has already faced pushback from Washington State regulators for Steam's role in "facilitating" such skin-gambling schemes.
  • Loot boxes—In-game purchases that offer randomized rewards. Some loot boxes have already been ruled as illegal in the Netherlands and Belgium, and there have been some attempts to do the same from some US lawmakers.
  • Social casino gambling—Apps like Big Fish Casino in which users can optionally spend money on virtual gambling chips if they don't feel like waiting for the in-game currency to replenish. A US District court ruled Big Fish Casino constituted illegal gambling earlier this year, and there are multiple active lawsuits surrounding other such games.
  • "The use of gambling themed content within video games available to children."—In addition to the above, this would seemingly apply to games with poker or slot-machine-style minigames (or, uh, Casino Kid for the NES).

The declaration says that the types of games and services listed above have "similar characteristics to those that led our respective legal frameworks and authorities to provide for the regulation of online gambling." But the signatories don't commit to any specific actions against such games for now, beyond "working together to thoroughly analyze the characteristics of video games and social gaming." The declaration also notes that there are different frameworks for gambling regulation in different countries.

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Now that his accuser has spoken out, is Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination in danger?

Washington Post - Mon, 2018-09-17 11:00
It's possible, which is a remarkable turn of events from just a few days ago.

Essential New Orleans: 7 can't-miss experiences

CNN - Mon, 2018-09-17 10:58
You'll definitely be called "baby" and "sweetie" in New Orleans. And chances are, you'll love it.

Patriots' NFL dominance may be over

CNN - Mon, 2018-09-17 10:45
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