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Submission + - Secure Skype alternatives 1

An anonymous reader writes: I have a Windows 8.1 phone and mostly use it for Skype calls and chats. A bit of browsing every now and then, and checking public transportation schedules. Nothing fancy in other words.

What can I do to be able to securely chat and place audio/video calls? What do you think is the best device to buy and what apps to use on it?

Submission + - Is Cortana spying on us? 2

siamesevodka writes: I just got the anniversary update installed [windows 10] and noticed cortana is installed again.I seen it was active again and wondered why. So I remembered it was hard for me uninstall or shut off the last time. So I asked cortana how to uninstall it. It replied that the anniversary update made sure it was permanently installed. So does this thing spy on us now even if we don't use it? Is it a back door for the NSA to keep tabs on me? Is microsoft whoring me out with their "free" software ? Is there a way to still shut it completely off or is George Orwell right?

Submission + - Windows 10 Anniversary Update To Take Hassle Out Of Reactivating After Upgrades (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: Microsoft is cooking up some nifty feature enhancements to Windows 10 that will roll out with the much anticipated Anniversary Update later this summer. One of the newest tweaks will make it easier to perform hardware upgrades, such as a motherboard or hard drive, as you won't have to dial up a support representative and explain why your license should still be valid. The activation tweak is also being rolled out preview build 14371 to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring. It's part of what Microsoft is calling the "Activation Troubleshooter," which is intended to address user feedback from Windows Insiders who've run into activation issues on Genuine Windows devices after making certain hardware changes. You can launch the tool by going to Settings > Update & security > Activation and select Troubleshoot.

Submission + - Why Drones Could Save Door-To-Door Mail Delivery (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Online shopping aside, people don't have as many physical items to mail as they used to, which is largely the reason why Canada Post announced it would be phasing out door-to-door mail delivery. Motherboard reports: "The corporation is exploring future use of drone technology to make deliveries, according to a report from the Canadian Press. At this point, Canada Post is engaging in a 'proper exercise,' a spokesperson told the Canadian Press, adding that the project is in its earliest, experimental stages. According to Graham Scott, the deputy editor of Canadian Business, even if mail-delivering drones remain a theoretical concept for now, it's inevitable they'll be considered as a way to drive costs down. There are many good reasons why mail delivery drones may never get off the ground. For one thing, current technology limits them to delivering one item of post at a time, which is tremendously impractical. But, as we've seen with the rolling out of community mailboxes — a program that was put on hold earlier this year when the review was launched — the invisible hand of the market is always looking to drive costs down. So don't count out flying robot deliveries for good. From a manager's perspective at least, drones have their advantages. They don't suffer from dog bites, and they (ideally) don't deviate from their routes. 'Drones don't twist their ankle, they don't get tired, and they don't form a union.' said Scott."

Submission + - Pay cash for healthcare and save a fortune (latimes.com)

schwit1 writes: Because of the skyrocketing costs for healthcare, it is now far cheaper to simply pay cash for many medical procedures, bypassing health insurance completely.

“This is one of the dirty little secrets of healthcare,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “If your insurance has a high deductible, you should always ask the cash price.”

Cash prices are intended for uninsured patients — and are frequently still much higher than insured rates. But cash prices for many common procedures have come down thanks to changing regulations and consumers increasingly being able to shop around for cheaper providers. Blood tests can be performed at CVS MinuteClinics and other pharmacies, for instance. Or as I reported a few years ago, MRIs are available from independent providers for as little as $300, whereas many hospitals will charge thousands of dollars.

The article’s main example is the case where the cost for blood tests, through insurance, was more than $80, while the cash price was only $15, and was still sufficient for the lab to make a profit.

Submission + - Increased marrying, and mating, by education level not affecting genetic make-up (phys.org)

chasm22 writes: While the latter half of the 20th century showed a widening gap between the more and less educated with respect to marriage and fertility, this trend has not significantly altered the genetic makeup of subsequent generations, a team of researchers has found.

"Undoubtedly, spouses are increasingly sorting themselves with an eye toward the education they've received—among other traits," observes Conley. "But while the existence of education-association genes has been well-documented, choosing partners with education levels similar to our own has not resulted in children who have meaningfully altered the genetic makeup of the U.S. population."

Submission + - Bill Gates: AI Is The Holy Grail (mashable.com)

An anonymous reader writes: At the Code Conference on Wednesday, Bill Gates balanced his fears of artificial intelligence with praise. He talked about two of the challenges AI will pose: a loss of existing jobs, and making sure humans remain in control of super-intelligent machines. Gates, and many other experts in the field, predict there will be an excess of labor resources as robots and AI take over. He plans to talk with others about ideas to combat the threat of AI controlling humans, noting specifically work being done at Stanford. Even with such threats, Gates called AI the "holy grail" as he envisions a future "with machines that are capable and more capable than human intelligence." Gates said, "The dream is finally arriving. This is what it was all leading up to. [...] We've made more progress in the last five years than at any time in history."

Submission + - 54 is the New 42, Aging Slower With Technology (newshop.com)

newshop.com writes: Remember the time when it was said that technology was the worst thing that happened to human beings. Well scientists from the journal PLOS ONE have concluded that technology is making people age slower, after discovering that the brains of middle-aged people are getting sharper and younger to keep up with the demands of modern technology.

Submission + - Microsoft Auto-Scheduling Windows 10 Updates (tomshardware.com)

Pikoro writes: Windows 10 has been with us for a little over eight months now, which means there are only about four months remaining to get a free upgrade from an older Windows operating system. As the clock counts down, Microsoft has begun to auto-schedule PCs to upgrade to Windows 10 with or without consent from end users.

Now, as we near the end of the free upgrade period, Microsoft’s malware-like upgrade system is becoming even more intrusive by autoscheduling upgrades to Windows 10. I noticed that the Windows 10 upgrade reminder pop-up on a Windows 7 PC was no longer asking me to upgrade; instead, it’s now informing me that it has already scheduled an update for May 17.

Submission + - Neandertals may have used chemistry to start fires (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Scientists know a lot about Neandertals these days, from their hair color to their mating habits. Still, a basic mystery remains: Did they know how to start a fire? Archaeologists have long known that Neandertals used fire, but they could have merely taken advantage of naturally occurring lightning strikes and forest fires to supply the flames. Now, a new hypothesis about some odd Neandertal artifacts suggests that our distant cousins could indeed spark a fire from scratch.

Submission + - Pro-Encryption Lawmakers See 'Apple vs. FBI' Fight As Chance To Educate Congress 1

erier2003 writes: Two of Congress's staunchest supporters of digital security and privacy want to use the brewing fight between Apple and the FBI to educate their colleagues about encryption.

The broader debate about whether tech companies should design their encryption to guarantee investigators access to data has galvanized Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who told the Daily Dot on Monday that they were going to hammer the issue home with colleagues now that Congress was back in session.

Submission + - Wind power now cheapest energy in UK and Germany, no subsidies needed. (bloomberg.com)

Socguy writes: Bloomburg reports wind has now crossed the threshold to become the cheapest source of energy in both the UK and Germany. Notable because this is the first time it has occurred in a G7 country. In the US, wind and Solar have started biting into the capacity factor of fossil fuel driven plants as generators opt to idle plants more often in favor of nearly free renewable energy. This is leading to changes in the lifetime profitability of those plants.

Submission + - Steve Wozniak Projects AI Will Become Smarter Than Humans, Keep Us As Pets (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: No matter what your opinion is of Steve Wozniak, there is little doubt he's one of the most influential people in the history of Personal Computing. Often times noted for making bold enthusiastic claims, especially when it comes to the advancement of technology in every day life, Woz may have stepped slightly off the deep end in a recent interview where he projected the advancement of AI (Artificial Intelligence) so capable that it would be smarter than humans and eventually turn us into pets of the Internet of Things. Woz also joked, "I got this idea a few years ago and so I started feeding my dog filet steak and chicken every night because, do unto others." The projection was made for hundreds of years in the future and Woz doesn't necessarily view it as a bad thing because he feels AI would want to take care of us and "make things nice for humans."

Submission + - 'Armored lizard' was ancestor of today's turtles (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: It’s a primitive turtle, but it looks nothing like today’s dome-shelled reptiles. Resembling a broad-bodied, short-snouted lizard, the 240-million-year-old creature—dubbed Pappochelys rosinae—appears to be a missing link between prototurtles and their modern relatives, according to a new study. If so, the find could fill in a number of pieces about turtle evolution.

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