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How the Microsoft Store Urges Customers To Trade In Their iPhones
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

"Have you ever wondered how -- or even why -- Microsoft is offering $650 to switch from iPhone to Samsung's latest phones?" asks tech columnist Chris Matyszczyk. "A Microsoft store salesman enlightened me. It was spiritual, as much as factual." "This is a Microsoft store," I said. "Why are you pushing these?" "Because three weeks ago, you couldn't do what you can do now," he said. This was quite some drama. I hadn't heard that my life had changed just 21 days prior, but Oscar was ready to explain. "Now you can have a terabyte, which means this phone improves your mobility and can now replace your laptop. You can now run your business straight from this phone," he said... With a fervent -- and, I have to say, elegant -- enthusiasm, he talked me through my new possibilities. The ability to have everything from Outlook to Word to Excel to One Drive existing simultaneously on every gadget was, apparently, my new Nirvana. He took me over to a desktop and showed me how to dock my new Samsung phone and work simultaneously on the phone and the desktop. He then led me to the Surface Pro 6. "This is the one I've got. And, look, you don't need a keyboard," he said, as he brought up the on-screen keyboard that really isn't very easy to type on. Oscar's congenital positivity was so alluring that I had to insert a pause and ask him what phone he had. He pulled out the same iPhone XR as mine, but sadly in a case. "I've been with Apple for a long time," he explained. "But I just need to pay my iPhone down a bit more and I'm going to switch to this Note..." "Switching from iPhone to Samsung isn't easy, is it?" I muttered. "It's all in your mind," he replied. "You need to have a growth mindset. That's what leaving your iPhone behind represents. Growth." I had to laugh. Not out of insult, but out of sheer admiration for his TED Talk attempt to inspire. He was appealing to my spirit, not my rational mind. He was right, of course. I have a growth bodyset, not a growth mindset.... [A]s I walked out many minutes later, I remembered there was a new iPhone coming out. Three new iPhones. Would any of them represent personal growth?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Is 'The Far Side' Comic Strip Coming Back?
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian: Fans of the surreal, the bizarre and sardonic anthropomorphic cows are in a fervour after The Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson's website was updated last weekend with promises of "a new online era", 24 years after the reclusive creator retired at the age of 44. Larson's iconic Far Side cartoons were syndicated in more than 1,900 daily newspapers from 1980 to 1995, treating readers to daily offerings from his offbeat visions of the world... His image of a caveman pointing to the tail of a stegosaurus and letting his audience know that it is called "the thagomizer, after the late Thag Simmonds", led paleontologists to adopt the invented term. Larson retired The Far Side in 1995 , citing "simple fatigue and a fear that if I continue for many more years my work will begin to suffer or at the very least ease into the Graveyard of Mediocre Cartoons". Hugely publicity-shy -- he has long refused to have his picture taken -- he has since then released a compilation of Far Side cartoons, but worked to keep his pictures from being reproduced digitally, explaining in a letter the "emotional cost" of having his work "offered up in cyberspace beyond my control... These cartoons are my 'children' of sorts, and like a parent, I'm concerned about where they go at night without telling me," wrote Larson. "And, seeing them at someone's website is like getting the call at 2am that goes, 'Uh, Dad, you're not going to like this much, but guess where I am.'" But the updating over the weekend of thefarside.com, which had previously remained virtually unchanged for more than a decade, has left many fans hoping for Larson's return. A new image, in which some of Larson's most iconic characters -- the cow on two legs, the bee-hived woman, the nerd -- are being defrosted from an iceberg, has appeared on the site, along with the promise: "Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming!"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Military Apologizes For Joking about Bombing 'Millennials' Who Might Storm Area 51
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

"The US military has been forced to apologise for tweeting that it would use stealth-bombers on 'millenials' who try to storm Area 51," reports Yahoo News UK: More than two million people signed up to a Facebook event recently which encouraged atendees to visit the top secret base in Nevada. But only a few thousand UFO enthusiasts turned up on Friday to the facility, which is rumoured to contain secrets about aliens. As hordes of enthusiasts turned up the PR arm of the US military, called the Defence Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), tweeted: "The last thing #Millennials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today" with a picture of military officers in front of a stealth bomber. Shortly afterwards the tweet was deleted and the unit apologised saying it "in no way" reflects their stance... "It was inappropriate and we apologize for this mistake." Around 1,000 people visited the facility's gates on Friday and at least six were arrested by police. The Storm Area 51 invitation spawned festivals in the tiny nearby towns of Rachel and Hiko, more than two hours' drive from Las Vegas. Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee estimated late on Thursday that about 1,500 people had gathered at the festival sites, and more than 150 made the trip several additional miles on bone-rattling dirt roads to get within selfie distance of the gates.... "It's public land," the sheriff said. "They're allowed to go to the gate as long as they don't cross the boundary." Most of the arrests were for "misdemeanor trespassing on base property," which carries a $1,000 fine, according to the article. "In the end, no one actually 'stormed' Area 51, although deputies in rural Nye County resorted to 'heated warnings' to disperse as many as 200 people," reports the Associated Press. In another article the news service also quotes Lincoln County emergency services chief Eric Holt as saying resources had been mustered to handle up to 30,000 people and calling the low turnout a "best-case" scenario... Although there were two car crashes involving cows. "The cows died, but motorists weren't hurt." The main festival apparently drew 3,000 attendees, while the rival "Area 51 Basecamp" festival sold just 500 tickets for their Friday concert, prompting them to cancel their Saturday concert altogether. Its promoter told the Associated Press, "It was a gamble financially. We lost."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Watch May Have Saved A Biker's Life
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

"A Spokane man is saying that an Apple Watch helped save his dad's life following a bicycle crash at Doomsday Hill," reports a local TV station: According to a Facebook post, Gabe Burdett was on his way to meet up with his father Bob last weekend at Riverside State Park, but Bob wasn't at their meet up spot. Burdett received a text from his father's Apple Watch, which read, "Emergency SOS Bob Burdett called emergency services from this approximate location after Apple Watch detected a hard fall." Not only had the watch texted Burdett, it also called 911 with his father's location, he said. Bob had flipped his bike at the bottom of Doomsday Hill and hit his head, knocking him unconscious, Burdett said. Thanks to the watch, Bob was able to be picked up by emergency services and transported to the hospital within 30 minutes of the fall occurring. Gabe's Facebook post includes a picture of the now-damaged Apple Watch on his father's wrist in the hospital. The Apple Watch even texted a map showing the son his father's new location at the hospital. And now "Dad is doing great, clear X-Rays and CT scan, but a little sore for sure!"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Is Air Travel Really Bad For the Climate?
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

"The best way to get oneself somewhere with the least impact on the climate is a lot more complex than it may seem at first glance," writes Slashdot reader Dan Drollette (who is also the deputy editor of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists). Slashdot reader Lasrick also submitted their report. A few excerpts: - For a short distance taking a train may be better than flying, but there is some ambiguity for long-distance travel. But no matter what mode of travel we choose, the distance traveled strongly determines emissions. - Trends suggest that ground transportation is increasingly being electrified (with the potential for using renewable sources). However, there is likely no such technological breakthrough on the horizon for planes. Thus, flying less is an important long-term commitment because it helps to make sure there are more alternative transportation options, and shows where we want government and industry to prioritize efforts toward efficiency and transit... [I]f you choose to drive because it is more climate-friendly than flying short-haul, you are adding an extra car on the road while the plane would have flown anyway. However, in the long run, if many people choose to drive (hopefully in a full car), it is likely there will be fewer short-haul flights. Obviously, fewer passengers per vehicle will also increase the per-passenger carbon count, and right now short economy flights "generally have higher occupancy and lighter fuel loads," placing them just below a U.S. grid-powered electric car. And mode of transportation is still less important than distance traveled, though very short flights less than 1000 kilometres (621 miles) are more carbon intensive than longer flights "as they spend little time cruising, and are often not very direct." Energy sources also matter, since trains in Europe are largely electrified, while North America's trains burn fossil fuels. "In Europe, trains are by far the best choice in terms of climate benefits, even if that's not as true elsewhere." Thus the three worst choices right now are a large car (getting 15 miles per gallon), followed by a long (non-economy) business flight, and a "medium" car (getting 25 miles per gallon), while the three best choices are a solar-powered electric car (#3), a crowded U.S. school bus, and Eurostar rail. But it's important to remember that the majority of people don't fly, Dan Drollette reminds us, "And we should not be so focused on the carbon contributions of air travel (which only account for 2 percent of all carbon emissions) that we take our eyes off the causes of the other 98 percent of carbon emissions."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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