That chip on your battery is not for government surveillance


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No one is using a little sticker hidden on your battery to spy on you, no matter what Facebook tells you.

It’s easy to get confused by the inside of a smartphone, even if you’re reasonably familiar with a lot of the technology that goes in to these devices. NFC chips are particularly curious, as their size makes it easy to sneak them in just about anywhere, and most folks outside of the tech bubble have no idea what NFC is or why we need the tech on our phones. In fact, all it would take to get someone worried about NFC is a reasonable-ish theory about government surveillance and a narrative that suggests the technology is being hidden from you somehow.

That’s exactly what is happening on Facebook right now, thanks to a video making the rounds detailing a “disturbing discovery” under a Samsung battery.

It’s the sort of thing those of us who know better are likely to laugh off and get back to work, but the current conversation surrounding government surveillance makes it easy for something like this to spread like wildfire. NFC chips are regularly sealed in plastic on the backs of phones or, in Samsung’s case, baked right into the battery so you were more likely to buy a Samsung-made battery when the need arose. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that aren’t widely understood — because why would you — and craziness ensues.

So please, don’t try to pull the sticker off of your Samsung battery. Don’t let anyone you know try it either, the risk for accidentally puncturing your battery is just too high. That chip is not harvesting your data in any way, and can actually be used for some really cool things if you know how. It’d be a lot more fun to give some of those things a try.

Rise in Narcissism, Blame Social Media Or Not?


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We are living in an increasingly narcissistic society.

In a world where prime-time television is dominated by a “reality” as false as the Kardashians’ lashes, and people sit across dinner tables checking in on Facebook rather than having face-to-face conversations, this may not come as a surprise.

So who’s to blame for this generational increase in narcissism?

Can we pin the tail on Mark Zuckerberg and the advent of Facebook? Over the last couple years, a plethora of research has been pouring in that makes connections between Facebook and narcissism. Studies are consistently finding that people who score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire tend to have more friends on Facebook, tag themselves more often in photos and update their statuses more frequently.

In general, social media websites encourage self-promotion, as users generate all of the content. People often utilize Facebook “to look important, look special and to gain attention and status and self-esteem. The trouble with this aspect of social networking is that nearly everyone presents an unrealistic portrait of themselves. Just as people select the most attractive photos of themselves to use as profile pictures, they tend to populate their newsfeeds with the most attractive bits of news about themselves. Of course, this is not always the case, but the unrealistically sunny picture that so many social networkers paint can have a negative psychological effect on their friends or followers. Real studies have shown that students who were more involved with Facebook were more likely to think other people’s lives were happier and better. These heavy Facebook users were also more likely to negatively compare themselves to others and feel worse about themselves.

While Facebook is certainly a platform for narcissists, it is a mistake to assume that Facebook alone has caused this spike in narcissism. There is a significant amount of psychological research that shows that one’s personality is fairly well-established by age 7,” given that Facebook’s policy doesn’t allow users to register until age 13, the personality traits of typical users are fairly well-ingrained by the time they get on a social network.

The truth is the rise in narcissism among millennials may have less to do with our social networks online and more to do with our social networks at home. Throughout the last few decades, there has been an increase in parental coddling and the so-called “self-esteem” movement. Parents and teachers trying to instill a healthy sense of self-esteem in children by praising them lavishly often do more harm than good. In fact, studies show that children offered compliments for a skill they have not mastered or talents that they do not have are left feeling emptier and more insecure. Only when children are praised for real accomplishments are they able to build actual self-esteem.

It is important to understand that narcissism stems from underlying feelings of inadequacy. Many children of the millennial generation were given form rather than substance, presents instead of presence, which leaves children feeling insecure. Empty praise causes children to feel entitled while lacking the true confidence necessary to feel good about themselves. Our society’s shift towards instant gratification appears to be having a negative effect on our kids.

In order for children to feel secure and confident in themselves, it is essential for parents to distinguish emotional hunger from real love. Real parental love includes warmth, affection and attunement to a child’s needs, as well as offering the child guidance, direction and control when appropriate. This type of love helps children develop real self-esteem rather than narcissistic personality traits.

While it is certain that online forms of communication and social networks do affect individual’s mental health, the solution to fostering a less narcissistic generation is to instill a healthy sense of true esteem offline before anyone is old enough to post their first status update. Only by being less self-obsessed and placing more value on personal relating can we impart these values to the next generation.

War Kills Children


childen_war3Every day as a result of conflict, thousands of civilians are killed or injured. More than half of these victims are children. The days when the captain of a sinking ship ordered women and children first onto lifeboats are just a fading notion. The Second World War was a watershed when civilian victims were as numerous as combatants. Now, in almost all current conflicts, civilians are the majority of casualties, with children suffering disproportionately. million children have been killed by conflict over the last decade; 6 million children have been made homeless; 12 million have been injured or disabled; and there are at least 300,000 child soldiers operating in 30 different conflicts across the globe.

A child is particularly vulnerable to the ravages of war. The physical, sexual and emotional violence to which they [children] are exposed shatters their world. War undermines the very foundations of children’s lives, destroying their homes, splintering their communities and breaking down their trust in adults. We treat bullet and shrapnel wounds, provide prosthesis for mine victims, house the displaced and refugees of ongoing conflicts, but how do we fare in providing those most vulnerable and least able to cope with the nutritional, environmental, emotional and psychological effects of conflict?

Understanding of Bigotry


Bigotry is the expression of hatred or aggression towards those who are different. Examples of bigotry include racismand religious intolerance.

Bigotry is common among atheistselitistsracistsliberals,Muslimshomosexuals, and religious extremists (i.e.Westboro Baptist ChurchKu Klux KlanAl Qaeda, etc.) towards critics of their ideologies. Some liberals deceitfullyclaim to uphold equality of all viewpoints and free speech, but are in fact routinely prejudiced against opposing viewpoints. They are particularly bigoted against Christians (and indeed faith in general) and Family Values. It is typical to see liberals refer to their opponents as “racists“, “fascists“, “Nazis“, “rednecks“, “gun nuts“, “fanatics“, or any number of more profane slurs. Bigotry can also be evidently seen when people refer to others who disagree with them as “bigots” or “intolerant”, and this is a severe form of hypocrisy because it excuses their accountability by blaming someone else.

Don’t Be Terrorized


The fundamentalist seeks to bring down a great deal more than buildings. Such people are against, to offer just a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women’s rights, pluralism, secularism, short skits, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex. There are tyrants, not Muslims.

The fundamentalist believes that we believe in nothing. In his world-view, he has his absolute certainties, while we are sunk in sybaritic indulgences. To prove him wrong, we must first know that he is wrong. We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love. These will be our weapons. Not by making war but by the unafraid way we choose to live shall we defeat them.

How to defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorized. Don’t let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared..

Evil Islamic Ideology by ISIS


Dilettante:

Evil Islamic Ideology by ISIS

Originally posted on Dilettante:

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The establishment of  al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan was followed by a proliferation of terrorist organizations: al-Qa’ida in the Mesopotamian Valley and al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qa-ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Shabab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria.  Now the global community faces the largest and most dangerous terrorist movement of all, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

The world has not witnessed evil like the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in generations. The leaders of ISIS, their evil ideology, and their inhumane crimes are the antithesis of the fundamental values cherished by all of humanity, values that are affirmed in the teachings of Islam. Throughout history, repressive and nihilistic movements have shrouded their selfish political objectives with noble ideals intended to appeal to impressionable audiences.

To begin to answer this question…

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Evil Islamic Ideology by ISIS


IMG_26-02-2015_16-10-28

The establishment of  al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan was followed by a proliferation of terrorist organizations: al-Qa’ida in the Mesopotamian Valley and al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qa-ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Shabab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria.  Now the global community faces the largest and most dangerous terrorist movement of all, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

The world has not witnessed evil like the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in generations. The leaders of ISIS, their evil ideology, and their inhumane crimes are the antithesis of the fundamental values cherished by all of humanity, values that are affirmed in the teachings of Islam. Throughout history, repressive and nihilistic movements have shrouded their selfish political objectives with noble ideals intended to appeal to impressionable audiences.

To begin to answer this question, we may start by asking:

What is ISIS and what ideology does it espouse?

How does its ideology attract recruits?

Why are so many members ready to give their lives for what many would argue is an ill-defined cause?

Equally importantly, how does it fund itself?

What is the relationships between its ideological and military strategy and its sources of funding?

What is ISIS’ ultimate goals and how can it be stopped?

ISIS’ ideological narrative is not well developed. An offshoot of Wahhabism and Qutbism in its most violent form, its Manichean ideology postulates a world where evil has subordinated the good. As with other extremist movements that claim to be Islamic, it argues that the core problem is that Muslims have been seduced and corrupted by the West and thus deviated from true Islam.

It is unfortunate that ISIS has chosen the beautiful religion of Islam as their public messaging vehicle to promote their apocalyptic approach to grabbing power and territory. Not only will they be met with a formidable international military response to stop them in their tracks and eventually defeat them, they will be completely undermined when people of all faiths and backgrounds collectively act upon their shared values of peace, justice, and compassion.

We should speak out against injustices by criminal and terrorist groups like ISIS…., and to work with community and political leaders to promote peace at home and around the world.

Apple faces a lawsuit


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Apple currently faces a lawsuit over the complaints about the large amount of storage that its new iOS 8 takes up on iPhones and iPads. The users of the devices complain about the misrepresentation of the storage capacity.

The lawsuit claims that the advertising of the tech giant fails to fully represent the total amount of storage available. In addition, it is alleged that iOS 8 made it worse, as the operating system takes up a larger amount of space without informing users before upgrade. Indeed, up to ¼ of the advertised storage capacity of iPhones and iPads will be consumed by iOS 8 and therefore be unavailable for consumers if they buy those with iOS 8 installed.

The case was started by two users, who claim to have bought iPhones and iPads back in 2014 advertised with 16GB of storage, but found out that they have access to much less. The complainants are going to turn the lawsuit into a class action and are seeking $5m in damages.

Apparently, it is normal for consumer electronics makers to advertise the total storage capacity of their devices without mentioning how much of it will be taken up by the pre-loaded software. The problem with Apple is that the company also prevents customers from adding more memory via microSD cards and instead offers a pay-for iCloud storage service when storage on the device is full.

It is known that the company’s latest iOS update, advertised as the “biggest iOS release ever”, was beset with issues that forced Apple to pull its health app and service. Moreover, the iOS 8 update also led to connectivity issues for some mobile devices, and was reissued twice with bug fixes.

The main problem faced by most users was the size of the update – the overwhelming majority of users could not install the new iOS when it was issued, because it required a lot of free space on internal storage capacity. Thus, the users were forced to delete large amounts of information from their devices to try a new iOS. In addition, the total amount of space available to the users compared with iOS 7 reduced significantly, according to the plaintiffs.

The lawyers point out that Apple has faced and defeated similar lawsuits earlier: for example, three years ago in Canada, Apple was accused of misrepresenting the amount of storage available to users on the iPod. Apple was not the only company that faced such claims – Microsoft was also sued over a similar issue with its Surface tablets.

Notes on Site Development by Silk Road Founder


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Ross Ulbricht, the accused operator of the online illegal drug marketplace, appeared to have had a digital journal on his computer describing the development of Silk Road and predicting that it would become a “phenomenon”.

Indeed, the prosecutors showed the court journal entry excerpts from 2010 and 2011. The digital journal was found on Ulbricht’s laptop seized when the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested him and accused of running the Silk Road website, where drugs and other illegal products could be bought in exchange for Bitcoins.

The excerpts from the journal read that Ulbricht believed Silk Road was going to become a “phenomenon” back in 2010. This evidence was presented on the 5th day of the trial as part of the efforts of the American authorities to crack down on the use of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency for drug trafficking and other crimes.

Ross Ulbricht is accused of operating Silk Road under the alias “Dread Pirate Roberts” and profiting about $200 million in drug sales before the FBI shut the service down. He denied all allegations, including conspiracy to commit drugs trafficking, acknowledging that he did create Silk Road but then passed it to other operators.

In response, the prosecutors showed the journal entries, which revealed that the website was supposed to be launched under the name “Underground Brokers”, with the idea being to create a service where Internet users could purchase anything anonymously, and no trail whatsoever could lead back to them. Then the journal described the launch of the service in 2011, noting a “huge spike in signups” after getting attention in the media and calls by a couple of American senators to shutdown the online blackmarket. This is when Ulbricht wrote that he was “mentally taxed”, and felt very “vulnerable and scared” at the time. He expressed fears in the journal that the government of the United States, his “main enemy”, was aware of him and some of its members were calling for his destruction.

Finally, a journal entry dated as 29 December 2011 described Ross going out with a woman who knew he worked with cryptocurrency and telling her about having “secrets”. At that moment, Ulbricht recognized that he felt wrong to lie completely so he just tried to tell only a part of the truth “without revealing the bad part”.