Kauai Plays A Growing Role Testing Technology For Tomorrow’s Nuclear Weapons

On an island better known for waterfalls than warheads, Kauai has earned a reputation in defense circles for its outsized role in supporting the military, including America’s evolving nuclear arsenal.

But unlike in the contentious public hearings and periodic protests outside the entry gate at the U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii Island, Kauai’s own role in supporting America’s nuclear weapons stockpile evokes little scrutiny or debate and is all but unknown by most island residents and visitors.

Central to those efforts that benefit the entire stockpile is the Kauai Test Facility, operated by Sandia National Laboratories for the Department of Energy. It’s located inside the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands.

In April, between 30 to 40 scientists, engineers and technicians traveled from Sandia Labs to Kauai for the first two of four experimental High Operational Tempo Sounding Rocket, known as the HOT SHOT, launches scheduled for 2019. Two more are slated for August.

Sandia executed the launches in collaboration with the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, conducting experiments on behalf of other DOE national laboratories and the Atomic Weapons Establishment which manufacturers nuclear warheads for the United Kingdom’s Trident missiles.

Sandia National Laboratories launched two experimental rockets at the Kauai Test Facility in April to study new technologies for use in extending the life of nuclear weapons. Two more tests are scheduled for August.

Mike Bejarano and Mark Olona/Sandia National Laboratories

According to an NNSA spokesperson, the HOT SHOT program provides scientists and engineers responsible for America’s nuclear weapons “the opportunity to demonstrate new technologies and concepts prior to use in the stockpile.”

Data from the tests “will benefit a broad range of weapons systems across all modernization programs,” the spokesperson said by email, allowing the NNSA to more closely align with the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review goal of a “modern, robust, flexible, ready, responsive, and tailored nuclear deterrent.”

Scott Holswade, director of advanced systems and transformation at Sandia, said sounding rockets are a relatively old technology but provide a reliable, simple, inexpensive way to conduct multiple often unrelated experiments in a single launch.  

April’s sixteen HOT SHOT experiments tested technologies for the ability to withstand heat, turbulence, high acceleration, and intense vibration associated with rocket launches. Other tests included zero gravity and conditions that occur upon atmospheric reentry.

HOT SHOT engines burn out within 30 seconds. But the rockets coast approximately 200 miles high and some 220 miles down range before falling back to earth and sinking to the sea floor at a depth of two to three miles.

From launch to splashdown takes 9-10 minutes with much of the data is transmitted by radio telemetry in the first 30 seconds.

Holswade explained that ideally the test facility would launch two rockets back to back in a single day in order to minimize the effort needed to “stand up the range for the day.” That isn’t always possible as weather conditions or other factors interfere.

The majority of HOT SHOT experiments test technologies being considered for future weapons programs, Holswade said. A key aim of the program is to gain competence and confidence in the technology before committing to specific programs. Another goal is to trim the time needed to test and verify new systems, reducing a decade-long development process down to three years.

“What we’re really looking at is future life extension programs that haven’t started in earnest yet,” Holswade said, describing how HOT SHOT is intended to achieve new technologies that may be a decade away from use so that it’s proven and ready for NNSA programs if and when approved by Congress.

“We need to be faster and more agile at what we do,” Holswade said, explaining how Sandia wants to be ready with new technologies to get out “into a deterrence asset (nuclear weapon) if asked for by the nation.”

“I think the range is definitely an asset that’s really working to improve our national security posture and try to do things where we can reduce the time, increase our agility as a nation, be more responsive to what other actors (international adversaries) are doing.”

Why On Kauai?

Sandia has operated the 130-acre test facility as a tenant inside PMRF since it was established in 1962 to support the Atomic Energy Commission’s Operation Dominic, which included high-altitude nuclear tests over the Pacific. Since then facility has supported some 460 launches.

Holswade said the location on Kauai’s west side allows it to avoid flying over heavily populated areas. “Where we launch is a fairly quiet patch of water. There’s not a lot of shipping traffic.”

With a 57-year history on Kauai, the site has all the launch rails, buildings, and other infrastructure in place, reducing potential challenges or variables that could impede experimental launches.

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, points out that the HOT SHOT program is explicitly described with the same language used in the 2018 revie which focuses on “Great Power competition” against Russia and China, emphasizing “enhanced flexibility and diversity of U.S. nuclear capabilities,” and the development of new low-yield nuclear weapons. 

As the U.S. pursues nuclear modernization programs consistent with the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, “those programs are part of a long-term and increasingly dynamic nuclear competition with other nuclear-armed states,” Kristensen said in an email.

“There is every reason to believe the facilities in Hawaii are already in the crosshairs of Russian, and perhaps Chinese nuclear missiles, just like U.S. forces are directed against their facilities.”

In April, the NNSA submitted an Environmental Assessment and a finding of “no significant impact for the continued operation of the Kauai Test Facility,” with proposed activities to include “ongoing operations, upgrades to existing facilities and an increase in the size of the launch vehicles to be launched from the site.” The DOE reported receiving no comments on the draft assessment.

NNSA added it will continue to conduct launch activities at the facility and “expand its vertical launch capabilities” in pursuit of its own mission and in support of U.S. missile defense and hypersonic weapons systems.

 And while Hawaii’s role in supporting the life span of America’s nuclear weapons stockpile is rarely discussed by the public, Kristensen notes, “It is certainly important that people in Hawaii are informed about the work that goes on [in] their islands.”

The post Kauai Plays A Growing Role Testing Technology For Tomorrow’s Nuclear Weapons appeared first on Honolulu Civil Beat.

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Naked protesters condemn nipple censorship at Facebook headquarters | Technology | The Guardian

Some were hairy. Some were pointy. Some were dark brown, some a pale pink. But the hundreds of nipples on display in front of Facebook’s New York City headquarters on Sunday were technically “male”, despite some being on female protesters.

More than 100 people lay nude on the sidewalk to call for a change to the company’s censorship policies. The action, called #wethenipple, was organized by the artist Spencer Tunick and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

The demonstrators covered their bodies with stickers of male nipples to protest against Facebook and Instagram’s ban on “some photos of female nipples” on the platforms. The activists say the ban harms artists and users exploring gender and identity.

Tunick, known for his nude photography, has been battling these policies for years, after Facebook disabled his page in 2014. He has organized similar interventions in the past, including an action in 2007 in which a collection of volunteers stood nude on a glacier in the Alps as part of a campaign on global warming.

“The work I’m allowed to post is fundamentally different from the work I make,” he said. “To me, every pixelated nipple only succeeds in sexualizing the censored work. As a 21st-century artist, I rely on Instagram. It’s the world’s magazine and to be censored on it breaks my spirit.”

The nipple images held by protesters were taken from “donated” photographs of male celebrities and artists including Bravo’s Andy Cohen, the artist Andres Serrano, the actor-photographer Adam Goldberg, the Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and Tunick himself.

The National Coalition Against Censorship sent Facebook a letter outlining its demands, signed by more than 250 activist groups and museums including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. They are calling on Facebook and Instagram to enact a policy similar to that of YouTube, which changed its rules over a decade ago to allow some artistic nudity.

“The nudity ban prevents many artists from sharing their work online,” the NCAC said. “It particularly harms artists whose work focuses on their own bodies, including queer and gender-nonconforming artists, and the bodies of those in their communities. Museums and galleries are constrained when even promoting exhibitions featuring nudes.”

Users have challenged Facebook and Instagram policies in the past, questioning how the company defines a “female nipple” and photoshopping male nipples on to their nude photos. Facebook did not respond to request for comment. The company has modified its policies in recent years to allow some images, “including those depicting acts of protest, women actively engaged in breastfeeding, and photos of post-mastectomy scarring”. As of the time of publishing, photos and videos of Sunday’s action remain on Instagram.

“There is no reason for Facebook or Instagram to censor this video or block from hashtags,” Tunick said in an Instagram caption.

This content was originally published here.

PUBG Mobile Addiction: Teen Dies After Allegedly Playing PUBG for 6 Hours | Technology News

A 16-year-old boy died of cardiac arrest allegedly while playing PUBG battle game on his mobile phone for six hours at a stretch here in Madhya Pradesh, his father said Friday. The deceased was identified as Furkan Qureshi, a Class 12 student. The incident took place on May 28 when Furkan Qureshi and his family, settled at Nasirabad in Rajasthan, had come to Neemuch to attend a marriage, the teenager’s father, Haroon Rasheed Qureshi, said. Police said they have not been informed about the boy’s death by his family and hence not launching a probe as of now.

Before Furkan Qureshi became unresponsive Monday while playing the online game, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), on his smartphone, he ‘shouted blast it, blast it’, his father told PTI.

“He was a very active lad. My son was so engrossed in PUBG game that he played it from Sunday evening to early hours of Monday.

“He slept for a few hours and after getting up had his breakfast and then played the game for six hours at a stretch,” Haroon Qureshi said.

“Furkan shouted ‘blast it, blast it’ after his character in the game lost a battle,” he said.

The teenager was rushed to a hospital after he became unresponsive while playing the game, but could not be resuscitated.

“I examined him at my nursing home. He was unresponsive. His heartbeat had stopped. I tried my best but he was brought dead,” cardiologist Ashok Jain said.

Another city-based cardiologist Vipul Garg said children nowadays get so much mentally involved in playing battle games on mobile phones that their emotions run high due to thrill and excitement, and they often fall prey to heart failure.

Children should be kept away from such mobile games, Garg said.

Kotwali police station inspector Ajay Sarwan said they had not been informed that the boy’s death has taken place due to a mobile phone game.

“So we are not probing it,” he added.

The popular smartphone game has been blamed for adversely affecting studies, overall behaviour, conduct and language of children.

The game has been banned by the police in some cities of Gujarat on ground that it leads to violent behaviour among children and youth. 

PUBG Mobile also recently started rolling out a new feature that aims to help promote a healthy gaming behaviour to ensure young players do not spend too much time on the game.  

This content was originally published here.

OnePlus 7 Pro review: an absolute beast in every way | Technology | The Guardian

The OnePlus 7 Pro is the firm’s largest, most expensive and most premium phone yet. While not that cheap, it still undercuts the competition by some margin, while offering sheer speed and a stunning notchless display that even its most expensive rivals can’t touch.

Starting at £649, the OnePlus 7 Pro is £150 more expensive than last year’s 6T or its 2019 refresh the 7 (non-Pro). It’s also significantly bigger.

The 6.67in QHD+ AMOLED screen is absolutely massive and runs at a refresh rate of 90Hz, meaning the screen updates 90 times per second – which is 50% faster than most phones and a first for an OLED screen. The difference is immediately noticeable, even simply scrolling in apps, web pages and between home screens. You quickly get used to it, of course, until you try to go back to a 60Hz phone.




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The screen is also a seamless slate, with no cut-outs for sensors and selfie cameras. Instead the selfie camera is mounted in a motorised module that pops up from the top of the phone. With curved edges and tiny bezels all round, the OnePlus 7 Pro feels like the end of the road for traditional smartphone design. There’s nothing left on the front but screen.

The rest of the phone is fairly par for the course. There’s a USB-C port in the bottom, a triple camera lump on the back and no headphone socket. The curved glass front meets metal and more curved glass on the back. It’s a simple, attractive look, very reminiscent of Samsung’s phones for the last few years.

Despite the minimal bezels, there’s no getting over how big the OnePlus 7 Pro is: 206g in weight, 162.6mm tall, 75.9mm wide and 8.8mm thick. Huawei’s 6.47in P30 Pro is noticeably narrower at 73.4mm, while the 6.4in Samsung Galaxy S10+ is 74.1mm wide. Both phones are significantly lighter, too, weighing 192g and 175g respectively.

Only Apple’s iPhone XS Max, which is one of the hardest big phones to wield, is wider at 77.4mm and heavier at 208g.

All of that is to say the OnePlus 7 Pro is a stretch to use, right on the limit of what I can hold in one hand and not drop while clinging on to public transport, aided by the curved back and hard metal edge.

RAM: 6, 8 or 12GB of RAM

Storage: 128 or 256GB (UFS 3.0)

Operating system: Oxygen OS 9.5 based on Android 9 Pie

Camera: triple rear camera 48MP, 16MP ultra-wide angle, 8MP telephoto, 16MP front-facing camera

Connectivity: LTE, dual sim, wifiac, NFC, Bluetooth 5 and GPS

Dimensions: 162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8mm




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The OnePlus 7 Pro is the ultimate enthusiast-pleaser on paper, with its specifications reading like a fanboy wish list. It has Qualcomm’s latest top Snapdragon 855 processor with your choice of 6GB, 8GB or 12GB of RAM; 6GB is good, 8GB is ideal for 2019, and 12GB is total overkill.

But the OnePlus 7 Pro is also the first to use the new, significantly faster UFS 3.0 standard for its 128GB or 256GB of storage instead of the common UFS2.1. The only other phone to use UFS 3.0 is the £1,800 Samsung Galaxy Fold, which isn’t quite ready for prime time. Then there’s the new 90Hz screen and the 135Hz touch sensing rate, which detects your finger input faster.

All combined the OnePlus 7 Pro is, without doubt, the fastest-feeling Android smartphone by some margin. Everything is an instantaneous, buttery-smooth affair. Apps fly along with no hint of lag or stutter anywhere, as do games and everything else.

That’s not to say that other top-end phones are slow, but the OnePlus is faster, smoother and more fluid. It’s a joy to use even for mundane things and very difficult to go back once you have experienced it.

All that speed is backed up by solid but not exceptional battery life of about 28 hours between charges – enough to get you home after a night out or into work the next day without topping up.

That was as my primary device with the usual deluge of email, messages and push notifications, lots of browsing, five hours of Spotify via Bluetooth headphones, watching 60 minutes of offline movies and shooting about 20 photos a day.

Setting the display to 60Hz added about an hour to the battery life. Gaming unsurprisingly had a fairly large effect on battery life.

There’s no wireless charging, but OnePlus’s new Warp 30 cable charging is very fast. A full charge took 75 minutes from dead, but it would hit 80% in about 45 minutes regardless of whether you were using the phone or not. Only Huawei’s 40W fast charging is quicker.

Oxygen OS 9.5




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Oxygen OS 9.5 is OnePlus’s latest version of its customised Android software based on Android 9 Pie, and only features a few small changes since the version 9 on the OnePlus 6T.

Overall Oxygen OS is a refined version of standard Android, with polished elements and a little more customisation, making it one of the best versions of Android currently available. You also get three years of software updates from release.

There’s a choice standard Android navigation keys, Google’s “pill” navigation button or gestures, which are some of the smoothest and best implemented on Android to date – swipe up from the centre to go home, up and hold for recently used apps, or up and over to the right for the previously-used app. The back gesture, up from the left or right bottom edge, is easy to activate by accident – a swipe in from the left or right side of the screen is better.

Oxygen OS also comes with Zen Mode, which locks your phone for 20 minutes of time out, allowing only calls and photos, a gaming mode and a system called RAM boost, which learns which apps you use frequently and pre-caches them into RAM.

The only thing I don’t like about Oxygen OS is the “shelf”, which replaces Google’s Discover feed on the left-most homescreen pane. I don’t find it useful and turn it off. There’s also no real one-handed mode as others such as Huawei include, which for a phone this size would have been helpful.

Fingerprint scanner




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The OnePlus 7 Pro has the firm’s second-generation in-display optical fingerprint reader, and it is significantly faster and more accurate than that used in last year’s OnePlus 6T.

While previous versions have been a convenience trade-off versus traditional capacitive sensors, the new in-screen sensor matches them for speed and accuracy. OnePlus has set the new standard; everything else feels slow compared with it.




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Cameras have traditionally been a weak point for OnePlus phones. The OnePlus 7 Pro’s triple camera system combining a 48-megapixel main, a 16-megapixel ultra-wide angle and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera is a significant step up.

The primary camera is capable of capturing some really detailed and well-exposed shots. Occasionally it was a little too bright, requiring a bit of adjustment, but even low-light performance was good. The 3x telephoto camera is also good, but produces noticeably more noise in dull lighting than the main camera. The up to 10x digital zoom rivals some of the best, but isn’t in the same league as Huawei’s 50x zoom. The ultra-wide angle camera is great, too, capturing some really interesting shots.

Video quality was generally very good too, but could be a little yellow in indoor lighting. The selfie camera was also capable of capturing some impressive amount of detail that some might find a little too rich.

Overall, the OnePlus 7 Pro has a camera that can keep up with the best from Samsung and Apple, but isn’t quite as good as Huawei’s game-changing P30 Pro in zoom, flexibility or low-light performance.




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It looks really good in blue, but even better in the limited edition almond

There’s a sharp edge in the bottom corners of the phone where the glass meets the metal

Auto-brightness often went too dim in normal indoor lighting requiring manual correction

It was too easy to invoke the pin code entry screen when shooting photos while the phone was locked

The new motion wallpapers are gorgeous

OnePlus’s alert slider, toggling between silent, vibrate and ring, continues to be excellent

The stereo speakers are some of the best

There’s a 5G version available too

The OnePlus 7 Pro costs £649 in black with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The version with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs £699 in black or blue, with almond available at a later date. The blue version with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs £799.

There will also be a 5G version available from EE in the UK on plans starting at £59 a month, and other operators globally.

For comparison, the 128GB OnePlus 7 will cost £499, the 128GB Huawei P30 Pro costs £899, the 128GB Huawei Mate 20 Pro costs £599, the 128GB Samsung Galaxy S10+ costs £899, the 64GB Google Pixel 3 XL costs £869, and the 64GB iPhone XS Max costs £1,099.

The OnePlus 7 Pro is a beast of a phone in every way. It has a genuinely huge screen, making it a really big device. If you don’t like large phones, this is most definitely not for you.

But that huge screen is arguably the best in the industry. It’s so smooth, beautiful and sucks you in like no other. Part of that is the sheer speed and smoothness of the phone, matching the level of polish only Apple and Google have managed, but made faster. Even the optical in-screen fingerprint sensor is super-fast, making everything else feel slow. This is the fastest-feeling smartphone available by some margin.

The camera is really good, too, which is a first for a OnePlus phone. It’s not the best in the business, but it’s no longer left in the dust by top-spec rivals.

It’s not perfect, of course. Battery life is good but not class-leading. There’s no wireless charging, which is pretty disappointing given the price, despite the fast wired charging. There’s no formal water resistance rating, no expandable storage and no headphone socket. And did I mention just how massive this phone is?

But what you get with the OnePlus 7 Pro is a phone that undercuts rivals on price and offers a better experience in almost every meaningful way. The OnePlus 7 Pro is a massive phone worth stretching for.

Pros: stunning screen, super-fast performance, fast in-screen fingerprint reader, good battery life, dual-sim, really good camera, great software, alert slider

Cons: glass back but no wireless charging, no IP water resistance rating, no expandable storage, no headphone socket, too big




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Uber IPO: the rich people who will get even richer when the company goes public | Technology | The Guardian

They are the spoons full of sugar that make the bitter taste of capitalism go down. When billion-dollar technology startups go public, the media tends to dig up a feel good story about some unlikely figure who stands to strike it rich. For Facebook, it was the graffiti artist who took his fee for decorating the company’s headquarters in stock options and ended up with shares worth $200m. For Google, it was the part-time masseuse who joined the company when it had just a few dozen employees and retired with stock options worth millions.

When the ride-hailing app Uber has one of the largest initial public offerings in history on 10 May, however, it will not be easy to identify a Horatio Alger-esque hero. Yes, the company is offering some of its most loyal drivers cash bonuses with which to purchase shares, but the rewards cap out at $10,000 for those who have completed at least 20,000 rides – the equivalent of a $0.50 tip per ride.

For the most part, the soon-to-be Uber rich were already, well, uber rich. Here’s a rundown of some of the fortunate few who are about to increase their already considerable fortunes:

Travis Kalanick

The former CEO of Uber may be persona non grata on the balcony of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday when company executives are expected to celebrate by ringing the opening bell, but as the largest individual shareholder, with 8.6% of shares, he will still be the undisputed winner of the day.

Though most of Kalanick’s billions were speculative before Uber’s IPO, the bad boy of tech has long been rich. After escaping a $250bn lawsuit against his first startup, Kalanick allegedly got away with some legally questionable tax shenanigans with his second startup, Red Swoosh, before selling it, in 2007, for about $19m. In 2018, he sold about 29% of his original stake in Uber to SoftBank, reaping about $1.4bn in cash. He has since launched an investment fund.

Garret Camp

Like Kalanick, Uber’s other founder had already successfully exited a startup before he launched the ride-hail app. The Canadian entrepreneur Garret Camp sold his first company, StumbleUpon, to eBay for $75m in 2007. Camp’s 6% stake in Uber makes him the second largest individual shareholder.

Jeff Bezos

The Amazon chief and world’s richest man made an early investment of about $3m in Uber that is now worth about $400m, according to tech news website The Information. The windfall is about one quarter of 1% of Bezos’s current net worth ($160bn, per Forbes), so we imagine Bezos is about as excited about this bet working out as the rest of us are when we discover a $10 bill we left in our pockets made it through the wash.

Chris Sacca

Chris Sacca is best known to the general public as the cowboy-shirt-clad “guest shark” on Shark Tank. But the longtime angel investor and VC built a reputation in Silicon Valley for his early investments in successful startups including Twitter, Photobucket, Instagram, Twilio and Uber, back when it was still going by UberCab.

Sacca retired from startup investing in early 2017, but he made headlines again that summer when, in advance of the publication of a New York Times expose on a culture of sexual harassment among venture capitalists, he published a lengthy Medium post in which he apologized for the ways he had “personally contributed to the problem”. Following publication of the article, however, Sacca disputed the specific allegation against him, but said he was “still grateful” to his accuser.

Cyan and Scott Banister

A married couple with deep ties to the Peter Thiel-wing of the tech industry (Cyan is a partner at Thiel’s Founders Fund while Scott was an early investor and board member of PayPal), the Banisters both made individual seed-round investments in Uber. The Banisters are known to be mainstays of Silicon Valley’s libertarian and rightwing political community.

Major Funds

While individual investors were able to get in on Uber’s earliest fundraising rounds, most of the investments came from venture capital funds. Early institutional investors include some of the biggest players in Silicon Valley, including First Round Capital, Sequoia Capital, Benchmark, Goldman Sachs, Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins.

Two of the largest stakeholders – SoftBank and the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia – invested late in the game when the company’s valuation was already high enough that it’s not clear if they will win or lose on their bets.

Other individuals

Uber’s regulatory filings also reveal the size of the stakes held by some of the company’s top executives and other board members. Dara Khosrowhahi, the CEO who took over from Kalanick, will hold 196,000 shares, while the chief operating officer, Barney Harford, will have 105,000. (Harford has faced criticism for an alleged pattern of insensitive remarks about women and racial minorities.) Thuan Pham, the longtime chief technology officer who was singled out for criticism in a viral blog post for allegedly failing to address sexual harassment and gender discrimination, will have 5,379,000 shares. Arianna Huffington, the board member who famously attempted to counsel Kalanick through this many, many PR trials, will hold 22,000.

This content was originally published here.

Google Play Store Down: Android Users Getting ‘Server Error’ While Accessing the Store | Technology News

Google Play Store seems to be down for many users. The affected users are apparently getting a server error while accessing Google Play Store from their Android devices. A large number of users who encountered the error raised complaints on Twitter and other social media channels. However, Google is yet to confirm the outage. The issues are majorly reported by mobile users, while the Web version of Google Play is working fine. The outage is also not limited to one market and appears to impact a large number of users across a number of regions.

“The Google Play Store seems to be down completely. Can’t update or download new apps,” one user tweeted from the Unites States.

Apart from the US, the issue has seemingly affected a large number of users in many European markets as well as in Asian countries, including India. One of Gadgets 360 team members is also facing the issue while accessing Google Play on his Samsung Galaxy Note 9. However, the issue is not occurring for all Android users.

Google play store server error?

— bakol pisau (@rasndeso)

@GooglePlay has stopped working on @HuaweiMobile or its only internal error of play store pic.twitter.com/l7tod8ipGx

— Tahir naqash (@Naqashfeed)

Majorly, Google Play Store is giving a server error and is not allowing users to download or update an existing app. Some of the affected users confirmed that clearing the cache and data stored by the Google Play Store app doesn’t help and the error persists.

Don’t worry tweeters… you’re not the only one…
Playstore down#GooglePlaydown#PlayStore pic.twitter.com/Vi6qwnxQ9b

— Vaishnav Jois (@Vaishnav_Jois)

@GooglePlay Hi! I’m having problems with accessing google play store. I keep getting a server error and a button to try connecting again. It shows “server error, retry”. I did all troubleshooting and additional steps. Even installed an older version from an apk. Nothing works. pic.twitter.com/fAFyqiPYXu

— (@ghefelyn)

As per the information available through online outage monitoring website DownDetector, Google Play is having connectivity issues since 7:29am EDT (4:59pm IST). The website received nearly 1,500 reports of the service failure for users worldwide.

We’ve reached out to Google for a comment on the outage and will update this space as and when we hear from them.

This content was originally published here.

Edward Snowden: With Technology, Institutions Have Made ‘Most Effective Means of Social Control in the History of Our Species’ | Common Dreams News

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said Thursday that people in systems of power have exploited the human desire to connect in order to create systems of mass surveillance.

Snowden appeared at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia via livestream from Moscow to give a keynote address for the Canadian university’s Open Dialogue Series.

Right now, he said, humanity is in a sort of “atomic moment” in the field of computer science.

“We’re in the midst of the greatest redistribution of power since the Industrial Revolution, and this is happening because technology has provided a new capability,” Snowden said.

“It’s related to influence that reaches everyone in every place,” he said. “It has no regard for borders. Its reach is unlimited, if you will, but its safeguards are not.”

Without such defenses, technology is able to affect human behavior.

I didn’t set out to change the world. The only thing that elected me was circumstance and a belief that this was important for the world to know – Edward @Snowden

— Dalhousie University (@DalhousieU) May 30, 2019

Institutions can “monitor and record private activities of people on a scale that’s broad enough that we can say it’s close to all-powerful,” said Snowden. They do this through “new platforms and algorithms,” through which “they’re able to shift our behavior. In some cases they’re able to predict our decisions—and also nudge them—to different outcomes. And they do this by exploiting the human need for belonging.”

“We don’t sign up for this,” he added, dismissing the notion that people know exactly what they are getting into with social media platforms like Facebook.

“How many of you who have a Facebook account actually read the terms of service?” Snowden asked. “Everything has hundreds and hundreds of pages of legal jargon that we’re not qualified to read and assess—and yet they’re considered to be binding upon us.”

“It is through this sort of unholy connection of technology and sort of an unusual interpretation of contract law,” he continued, “that these institutions have been able to transform this greatest virtue of humanity—which is this desire to interact and to connect and to cooperate and to share—to transform all of that into a weakness.”

“And now,” he added, “these institutions, which are both commercial and governmental, have built upon that and… have structuralized that and entrenched it to where it has become now the most effective means of social control in the history of our species.”

“Maybe you’ve heard about it,” Snowden said. “This is mass surveillance.”

Listen to Snowden’s full remarks below. (He begins speaking around the 25-minute mark.)

Proceeds from the event went to the Montreal-based organization For the Refugees, which is working to obtain refugee status in Canada for the three families who sheltered Snowden in Hong Kong when he fled the U.S. to avoid being charged with violations under the Espionage Act.

Two of Snowden’s “guardian angels” arrived in Canada in March. The other five are still stuck in Hong Kong, the organization says, where they face the threat of deportation to their home countries of Sri Lanka and the Philippines, where they could face continued threats of persecution, torture, and possible death.

Snowden, in his remarks Thursday, said, “I owe them a debt that I’ll never be able to repay.”

Every month it costs over $7,500 to support the seven Snowden refugees in Hong Kong and Canada. All of those funds come from small-dollar online donations. Want to help? https://t.co/bnkgzEnI6X

— For the Refugees (@4TheRefugees) May 30, 2019

This content was originally published here.

Army’s Next Infantry Weapon Could Have Facial-Recognition Technology | Military.com

U.S. Army weapons officials recently invited defense firms to design and build prototypes of an advanced fire control system that could equip the service’s Next-Generation Squad Weapon with wind-sensing as well as facial-recognition technology.

The Prototype Opportunity Notice for the NGSW-Fire Control is intended to develop a system that “increases the soldier’s ability to rapidly engage man sized targets out to 600 [meters] or greater while maintaining the ability to conduct Close Quarters Battle,” according to the solicitation posted May 30 on FedBizOpps.gov.

The Army plans to award up to two five-year prototyping agreements, which will include 115 NGSW-FC systems, spare parts and other necessary items for initial prototype testing that’s scheduled to take 14 months, according to the solicitation.

Up to two follow-on production awards worth up $250 million are planned for fiscal 2021, the solicitation states. Initial production quantities of 200 or more total fire control systems per month are expected to be delivered within six months of award, with plans to ramp up to up to 3,350 or more total systems per month within three years.

The Army’s Next-Generation Squad Weapon program involves two weapons systems under development, chambered for a special 6.8mm round, that will replace the M249 squad automatic weapon and the M4/M4A1 carbine.

Both the rifle and automatic rifle versions of the weapon would be equipped with a sophisticated fire control designed with the following characteristics:

Interested firms have until Nov. 4 to respond to the solicitation.

The Army may request iterative prototyping efforts to achieve higher-level performance capabilities such as:

Each prototype will undergo a 14-month evaluation period that includes technical testing and user evaluations known as soldier touch points, the solicitation states.

The NGSW’s fire control will be designed to work with the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, a program Microsoft is developing for the Army under a $480 million contract the service awarded in late November.

IVAS is intended to replace the service’s Heads-Up Display 3.0 effort, featuring an advanced digital system that allows soldiers to view their weapon sight reticle and other key tactical information through an advanced goggle or eyepiece.

The Army began working with gunmakers last year to develop prototypes for the NGSW program. Last July, the service awarded contracts to AAI Corporation/Textron Systems, General Dynamics-OTS Inc., PCP Tactical LLC and Sig Sauer Inc. and FN America LLC to develop prototypes of the automatic rifle version.

In January, the Army also released a separate prototyping opportunity notice inviting gun makers to develop prototypes of both the rifle and auto rifle versions of the NGSW to ensure both work the common, government-produced 6.8mm projectile.

— Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

This content was originally published here.

Uber to ban riders with low ratings: will you pass the test? | Technology | The Guardian

Will your Uber rating be docked if youdon’t tip? What side of the car should you sit on? Small talk or silence?

Since Uber first began to allow users to check their ratings on the app in 2017, riders have harbored growing anxiety about how many stars their behavior in the back seat will earn them.

Now those are being magnified by another new policy: Uber announced on Wednesday it would begin to ban passengers with consistently low ratings.

Uber did not say how low a passenger’s rating will have to be for them to be removed from the platform. Drivers on the platform, for example, are required to maintain at least a 4.6 star rating on their most recent 100 trips to stay on the app.

In the blogpost Uber announced that those with a “significantly below average rating” will be warned and given “several opportunities” to improve before losing access to Uber apps. The company encouraged riders to avoid “impolite” behavior like leaving trash in the vehicle or asking a driver to go above the speed limit.

Some users say they have been docked for obvious reasons: taking Uber when they are drunk, or with a rowdy group of friends, showing up late for the car, or asking for an inconvenient drop-off location.

Others say they have found ratings docked for seemingly discriminatory reasons: Hilary Weaver, a journalist based in New York City, said they noticed their rating was docked by a few points after taking a car home with a same-sex partner after a date. One rider said she felt the ratings system was weaponized against her: Hannah Simkins, a musician in London, said her rating was docked after she rebuffed sexual advances from her driver.

But many people who have low ratings say they have no idea why.

Nick De Tullio, a tech worker in New York, noticed a few years ago his rating was hovering around 4 stars. He could not figure out why: he always tips drivers and tries to be polite, but suspects that his desire to avoid conversation with drivers may affect his rating.

“I’ve made it a policy to continue a conversation when the driver initiates it and my score since then has gone up considerably,” he said. “Still, I wish my preference for a silent ride didn’t have such an initial impact on my score.”

De Tullio is not alone; Uber recently implemented a “silent” setting for its higher-end Uber X option. After years of a concerted effort to make conversation and be on his best behavior in the car, his rating has gone up to 4.74.

Uber drivers, for the most part, are happy about the change. Many said obvious bad behavior like recklessness, drunkenness and rudeness can lead them to dole out a 1-star rating, but some admit their ratings of passengers can be more arbitrary at times.

Andrew S, a driver for Lyft and Uber said he is “excessively liberal” with low ratings. He says the most common behaviors to earn a passenger a low rating includes slamming the door on the way out, rudeness, hostility, “excessive personal questions”, leaving a mess in the car or taking a very short trip. He said he has on at least one occasion given a rider one star for sitting directly behind the driver seat rather than on the passenger side of the car.

“Passengers sitting directly behind you when there’s no one else in the car is so unsettling for some reason,” he said.

Uber said it does not expect many accounts to be affected by the change and that the new policy is a continuation of its rules banning threatening and rude behavior, unwanted physical contact, and discrimination.

“Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability,” the blogpost said. “Drivers have long been expected to meet a minimum rating threshold which can vary city to city. While we expect only a small number of riders to ultimately be impacted by ratings-based deactivations, it’s the right thing to do.”

This content was originally published here.

Satirical Tweet Causes Epic #SAchat Reaction | Student Affairs and Technology

“Getting to know the true people of Higher Education and their stories. Satirically.” – Humans of Higher Ed

This is definitely not the blog post I thought I would be writing this week. However, when I checked Twitter on Wednesday morning I noticed that the #SAchat hashtag was trending. Curious, I clicked in to what was a multi-threaded debate (storm?) about satirical memes, perceived shaming, bullying, self-care, nuance and an 80-hour work week.

Things started off with a tweet from Humans of Higher Ed (a mostly anonymous satirical social media account):

When you realize that when you get to work tomorrow no students will be there pic.twitter.com/4dWc1qI2nF

— HumansofHigherEd (@HumanOfHigherEd)

Initially, at least from what I was able to dig up after what felt like miles of scrolling through a cascade of Twitter activity, the ‘celebratory’ tweet was criticized by two prominent leaders in education who took umbrage with the framing of happiness by way of student absence:

<— that feeling when folks who work in higher ed don’t realize many institutions continue to educate and engage students all 12 months. It might be a bit quieter, but I am so glad that our students still show up, get involved, and make progress toward their goals! https://t.co/OaqECF9f8p

— Will Simpkins, Ed.D. (@willsimpkins)

This original tweet by @HumanOfHigherEd is pretty gross.
I don’t know what kinds of humans they claim to speak for, but the humans I meet in this sector truly care about students and don’t see them as a nuisance.

— Bridget Burns (@BBurnsEDU)

The original tweet from HoHE was obviously not meant to serve as an all-encompassing view on the student experience (especially for year-round students) nor was it meant to showcase that students are a “nuisance.” If anything, it was an inside joke about the change of pace when campuses get just a bit quieter.

Oftentimes, that change of pace comes as a relief to student affairs practitioners who need that time to regroup, rebuild, and recharge as stated in this tweet from Kimberly Newton:

We can miss our students but still appreciate and welcome a change of pace. I was pumped for my students to leave for the summer and that doesn’t make me care about them less. They are amazing! I encourage you to not shame people for needing a break.

— Kimberly Newton (@knewt14)

Then things escalated when Sara Goldrick-Rab, a Temple University professor and scholar-activist, joined the digital debate.

Goldrick-Rab is well known for her academic research and public policy work fighting against college student food insecurity, homelessness, and precarity. With a verified Twitter account and more than 32,000 followers, Goldrick-Rab is an influential voice in higher education. She posted several responses to Newton, a self-described new professional:

Celebrating the departure of students in summer is a trope. The idea that staff wellbeing requires distance from students, dependent on “summer break,” is privilege itself and ignores the hard work of staff and faculty educating year round. #RealCollege https://t.co/IphxV4jHai

— Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab)

Virtually all of us do all the things. I pull 80 hours a week every week and you’d never catch me saying I’m glad the students are gone. I’m an educator because the students are everything.

— Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab)

What followed after that was a fast-paced flurry of tweets from a variety of higher education professionals and Goldrick-Rab:

I am not looking to compete with a “I work more hours” and “I like students around all the time” narrative. It doesn’t make you better than me. It just means we value different things and that’s cool. Have a great night. @HumanOfHigherEd really stirred some things up.

— Kimberly Newton (@knewt14)

Also, how is “work” being defined here? The idea of “working” 80 hrs as a self-righteous badge of honor is capitalist elitism born out of White Savior complex, doused in an Ideal Worker norm…misogynistic and oppressive display of White privilege &classism shrouded in “care”.

— Rachel Edens (@RachelSEdens)

I think we just found a big chunk of the college retention problem. Goodness.

— Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab)

this is a really gross assessment on the tweets based on a meme. as multiple people have said already, entry level professionals are overworked and underpaid, so yes a break from the massive amounts of students on campus is nice. @HumanOfHigherEd is not defunding higher ed

— Francis Buggey (@FrancisBuggey)

When faculty (tt or contingent) celebrate being finished with grading for the semester, it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate students. I don’t see faculty shaming faculty for being done with the term. This whole mess-unequal structural power/position, gaslighting. Wow. #SAChat

— OiYan Poon (@spamfriedrice)

Hot take on this #sachat drama: a meme is a meme but an internationally recognized scholar (on freaking equity) shaming an entire field for breathing a sigh of relief when we switch from constant vigilance tonfrantic planning…well that’s a special brand of condescension.

— Erin Simpson (@ErinSimp)

This whole thing is such an important reminder that folks can devote their entire career to understanding and attempting to ameliorate injustice as an academic endeavor while still holding really excruciatingly unjust personal politics and lack of self-awareness. #SAchat

— cj venable, ma (@chrisjvenable)

A person with all your power and privilege in the Academy does not get to pit ppl against each other – esp when there are so many SApros who are on low fixed incomes and who come from poverty. Did you even grow up poor? There’s no sense of community uplift in this tweet #Sachat https://t.co/DRGXBFAcco

— Niki Messmore (@NikiMessmore)

Sara, I would just like to say that I did feel shamed by your statement. Whether that was your intention or not, you accused me of being ineffective in my job because I feel burn out even though you have no idea what my job or day-to-day looks like. #sachat https://t.co/4nwgOVO3mF

— Kimberly Newton (@knewt14)

Hey Sachet (I hope that’s your name!) thanks for reaching out directly. I absolutely support breaks, & celebrating when they come. We all need them. My point, which seems to have been lost in the fray, is that not all get them, especially at IHEs that essentially run year-round.

— Will Simpkins, Ed.D. (@willsimpkins)

Woke up & caught up on the #SAChat thread. I wholeheartedly support & encourage my @StuAffUC #SAPro colleagues to enjoy breaks. I need my folks to be well rested, personally & professionally, physically & mentally in order to give our students their best selves.

— Juan R Guardia, PhD (@JRGuardiaUCDOS)

I feel there’s important considerations being unraveled in this #sachat conversation. #HoHEchat

1. You can value your students/work
2. You can value a calmer workload whenever that is for your role
3. You can celebrate students leaving (re: graduation, ofc and breaks)

— Ali Raza, M.S. (@aliraza312)

There really is an entire thread to be written about how different elements of the university see and interact with one another and with students differently, and how that separation came to be.

— Doing all the things (@DrDLStewart)

I love my kids with all my being. Do I do a little two step when they go with their grandparents, or on an unexpected play date which means I get a breather. Absolutely. Does that mean I love them less, I or don’t value them? Absolutely not. #sachat #HoHE #HoHEchat

— Marcus Langford (@MarcusRLangford)

Ok, may as well chime in now that all of #highered Twitter is involved. I enjoy @HumanOfHigherEd. It’s a funny account. It makes me laugh. It says a lot of things we say to ourselves or our colleagues, but won’t really say out loud or publically. #sachat 1/

— Seann Kalagher (@SeannSA)

Please google me. Then come back and tell me how I spend my time. In other words: do your homework.

— Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab)

If all #SAPro feels better from subjecting me to abusive smears and false claims, have at it and pls, feel better. I’ll be over here taking to policymakers about the great work you do and why you deserve more funding. And yes, I spend 80 hours a week on that bc you deserve it.

— Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab)

I think it’s a classic move when someone doubles down and then makes themselves both victim and savior in a situation where an apology or retraction would have likely sufficed.

— Eric Stoller (@EricStoller)

Getting notes from colleagues from all over the country who are saying “well, now we know who NOT to hire.” Which makes me so sad, because people just tanked themselves by spreading lies about a literal tweet. That’s all it took. All that patting on the back, undoing hard work.

— Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab)

I acknowledge that I’m coming from a place of privilege to be able to say this, but if anybody is not going to hire me because I tried to engage you in a conversation regarding the way you treat me and other entry level colleagues, I’m good. #sachat #hohechat @HumanOfHigherEd https://t.co/sTKug3r4NS

— Zachary Michael (@zach_m_s)

Had I attacked anyone, I would have immediately apologized. Did so just last week on twitter. If you look at what happened today, it’s quite clear that a few people literally misread me, told others, and then have decided to gang up, surround, and beat me down.

— Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab)

Perhaps consider intent vs impact – I’m sure you know the concept. Your intention wasn’t to hurt anyone but obviously the impact of your comments was a bit different. #SAchat

— Erin Hensley (@ErinEHensley)

Who says the rest of us are not “proven student advocates” that stand up for students? This just seems like you feeling your opinion is only right, and the rest of the student affairs community that enjoys a breather without students is wrong.

— Brett (@wellmabk)

No she did not. No where in their tweet did they use the term snow flake. You have spent all day, telling folks they misinterpreted your point. Yet, here you are doing the exact same thing. Why?

— (((Annie Greaney))) (@AnnieGreaney)

There are literally hundreds of tweets that make up this exchange. In many ways, Humans of Higher Ed has unlocked an important debate that doesn’t necessarily have a sense of closure at the moment. However, it’s vital that conversations keep happening. But in the meantime:

Friends, leave it be. Save your energy. Love on each other. Look out for each other. Know your own and each other’s value and worth. It’s not worth it.

— Doing all the things (@DrDLStewart)

This content was originally published here.