I finished The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild

Of course you can’t actually finish an open world game. Even if you used the game’s internal 100% completion counter, that still doesn’t cover all the content there is. So when I say I “finished” the game, I’m using the goals that I set for myself: Do all 120 shrines and kill the end boss to get to the closing credits. I did a lot of other content, but for example not all Korok seeds, of which there are far more than you actually need.

I still think Zelda – Breath of the Wild is one of the greatest games ever. I really liked all the discoveries, the open world without invisible walls made possible by the ability to climb vertical surfaces, and the numerous puzzles everywhere. I would have preferred a less action-centric combat system, but I appreciated that it wasn’t so hard that I would have needed more skills than I have in button-mashing. My biggest gripe with the game is that the sensor you get at some point to find shrines or resources you have previously photographed is terribly imprecise and unclear. Some of the shrines I could only find by looking them up on the internet, for example because they were in a cave half way up on a cliff face hidden behind a breakable wall, with no quest giving you any hint that they were there. But then you don’t actually need all 120 shrines to finish the game, so that is hardly a big problem.

My biggest mistake in this playthrough was keeping all my gems. Yes, there is a quest rather late in the game where you can sell gems for more money than usual. And yes, you can use some gems to upgrade some armor. But the gem-selling quest pays only like 10% extra, and you don’t really need to upgrade all your armor to maximum. I only upgraded the ancient armor to maximum, which both gives very good defense and even adds to offense when using ancient or guardian weapons. Most other armor sets need only to be upgraded twice to get the added set bonus. The armor class is mostly irrelevant for armor that you wear for other bonuses, e.g. for faster climbing or swimming. If I had sold all gems found earlier, I would have spent less hours farming materials which I only used to make elixirs which I then sold.

Ending the game produces an automatically saved game marked with a star, which has some added features like the completion counter I mentioned. Besides that some DLC content unlocks only after having done the four divine beasts, so I haven’t done that yet. However I’m not yet convinced that this DLC content is worth doing, as a lot of it appears to be somewhat grindy in nature, like the gauntlet of 45 levels of the Trial of the Sword. I think I will at least try some of that stuff before stopping to play. And I do consider that I might want to play the game again from the start after a while. However I won’t play in Master Mode, because I tried that and it just made combat incredibly hard, which isn’t what I am looking for.

I don’t regret having bought a Switch to play Zelda, but now it might be time to give some other Switch games a chance.

USDA Gives in to Big ‘Organic’ Poultry, Moves to Withdraw New Animal Welfare Rules

The Obama-era rules were meant to establish stronger, more enforceable animal welfare requirements for certified organic producers.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formally proposed withdrawing a set of rules finalized at the end of the Obama administration that establish stronger, more enforceable animal welfare requirements for certified organic producers.

The rules, titled the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, are the product of more than a decade of collaboration and coordination among the organic community, including consumers, farmers, veterinarians, environmentalists and animal welfare groups. Unfortunately, a few large-scale egg producers fear the new rules will expose their less-than-organic practices and put pressure on USDA and Congress to stop the rule.

“The new rules are vital for protecting animal welfare, organic consumers, and the thousands of farmers that opt-in to organic certification,” said Cameron Harsh, senior manager for Organic & Animal Policy at the Center for Food Safety.

The rules, which have been delayed from implementation three separate times since being finalized in January 2017, provide needed clarity on organic animal care, including prohibiting several painful alterations. In particular, the rules require all animals to have real access to the outdoors, which must include contact with soil and vegetation, and outline minimum spacing requirements for poultry. This is, in fact, what consumers already expect from the organic poultry and eggs they buy in stores. But the largest poultry producers have so far been able to consider small, cement, fenced-in areas as outdoor access and have not been required to abide by specific spacing limitations.

“The rules would hold all certified producers to the high standard of animal care that consumers expect and that the drafters of the organic law intended. If they are withdrawn, the steadily growing organic market and consumer trust in the organic seal will be at risk,” added Harsh.

Center for Food Safety has submitted extensive comments in support of the rules. While the rules are not perfect, they are a substantial step toward ensuring all organic animals are provided a consistent level of care. The small but vocal opposition against the rules have misrepresented the realities of the rules in order to continue business-as-usual.

The proposal to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule is open for public comment until Jan. 17, 2018.

 

 

Related Stories

  • Trump’s USDA Just Made School Meals Less Nutritious
  • Here Are the Top 5 Foods Killing the Planet
  • Dairy Is Bad for Humans, Cows and the Planet: So Why Are Public Schools Required to Offer Milk With Every Meal?

Irk a Politician This Holiday Season by Giving to These Progressive Causes

Republican leaders won’t thank you, but others in need will.

For some progressives looking for holiday gifts, there are guides to ethical and feminist products. Others prefer to donate to an organization or cause. This holiday season, let your gift-giving be inspired by celebrities and their charitable donations. Celebrities like Mila Kunis have been donating to Planned Parenthood in Vice President Mike Pence’s name—and others have followed suit.

Instead of donating to a charitable organization in the name of a loved one or friend, try gifting in the name of a politician who stoked the dumpster-fire of 2017 politics. Support the work of these important organizations and give a reminder that the resistance is stronger than ever.

1. If the Alabama special election had you on the edge of your seat and the thought of child-molester Roy Moore (who has still not accepted the election results) makes you want to punch a wall while throwing up…

Photo Credit: Emily C. Bell / YouTube

…then donate to organizations and campaigns working to support voting rights and black candidates. When pollsters examined the special election voter demographics, Doug Jones was victorious because of black voters, specifically black women (96 and 98 percent voted for Jones, respectively). In response, The Cut released a list of organizations and campaigns working toward voting access and political empowerment of black women. Check out Woke Vote and Higher Heights, and give Roy Moore a reminder of the power of local organizing.

2. If you despite head of the EPA Scott Pruitt for refusing to recognize human contributions to climate change and for subsequently leading the government in throwing the planet under the bus in 2017, and you’re appalled by the plethora of climate change deniers, not just in the White House but also in Congress…

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/WikiCommons

…then support those who are standing up to them, like the youth activists who protested at the UN climate summit. You can also donate to organizations educating and raising awareness about climate change, including Earthjustice and 350.org.

3. If you oppose politicians like Representative Steve King for his support of the DACA repeal and for saying Dreamers can “live in the shadows”… 

Photo Credit: WikiCommons

…donate to organizations like United We Dream, which is calling for a clean #DreamActNow and organized a national call day on Thursday.

You can also support organizations like Movimiento Cosecha and the Immigrant Defense Project that are fighting back on Trump-administration policies, protesting the actions of ICE and advocating for the rights of immigrants.

4. If you’re outraged over Donald Trump ignoring the crisis in Puerto Rico…

Photo Credit: Shealah Craighead/ WikiCommons

…and his childish behavior when he visited:

…donate to organizations that are providing services on the ground in Puerto Rico and working on rebuilding efforts due to the destruction of Hurricane Maria. A list of reputable organizations includes Friends of Puerto Rico and Light and Hope for Puerto Rico: A Citizen Campaign, which is raising money to purchase and deliver specific supplies: solar lights, phone chargers and washing machines that don’t require electricity.

5. If you hate that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and GOP lawmakers are reducing access to birth control, something Price clearly has no knowledge of…

…and the GOP tax bill, which is an overall travesty for poor people, because of health care provisions that will remove the individual mandate and hurt access to birth control…

Donate to organizations concerned with access to birth control and reproductive healthcare, like the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood, and feel inspired by their recent activism to stand up to the Trump administration for the birth control rollback:

 

 

 

 

Related Stories

  • In Alabama, Black Women Saved America From Itself—as They’ve Always Tried to Do
  • The Alt-Right Is Melting Down in the Wake of Roy Moore’s Stunning Defeat
  • Whitefish Energy Fleeced Puerto Rico During Recovery Efforts: Report

Uber Stole Trade Secrets, Bribed Foreign Officials and Spied on Rivals, Filing Says

Documents by former Uber security manager details company’s alleged ‘unethical, unlawful’ practices amid legal battle with self-driving car company Waymo.

Uber allegedly engaged in a range of “unethical and unlawful intelligence collections”, including the theft of competitive trade secrets, bribery of foreign officials and spying on competitors and politicians, according to an explosive legal document published on Friday.

It’s the latest chapter in the discovery process for the company’s messy legal squabble with Waymo, Google’s driverless car spin-off, which has accused Uber of stealing trade secrets.

The details were outlined in a 37-page demand letter filed by the ex-Uber security manager Richard Jacobs, who left the company earlier this year. The document paints a picture of a team of employees dedicated to spying on rivals and “impeding” legal investigations into the company.

Jacobs alleges that when he raised concerns over the techniques being used, he was given a poor performance review and demoted as “pure retaliation” for refusing to buy into the culture of “achieving business goals through illegal conduct even though equally aggressive legal means were available”.

He had sent the letter to Uber’s in-house counsel with his allegations about possible criminal activity carried out by the special group in May this year, threatening to sue the company. Uber did not provide the letter to Waymo as part of legal discovery before the trial started.

An Uber spokeswoman said in a statement: “While we haven’t substantiated all the claims in this letter – and, importantly, any related to Waymo – our new leadership has made clear that going forward we will compete honestly and fairly, on the strength of our ideas and technology.”

Jacobs worked at the ride-hailing company from March 2016 until April 2017. After his attorney sent the demand letter to Uber outlining potentially criminal activities within Uber’s “strategic services group” and “marketplace analytics” teams, he and Uber reached a $4.5m settlement. This included a non-disparagement clause and a one-year consulting contract to help Uber “root out bad behaviour”, Jacobs said when he testified in federal court last month.

The letter alleges, among other things, that Uber planned to use certain hardware devices and software to conceal the creation and destruction of corporate records so they “would never be subject to legal discovery”. Such records would, the letter states, “implicate ongoing discovery disputes such as those in Uber’s litigation with Waymo”.

The letter also outlines a range of intrusive techniques that Uber allegedly used to extract intelligence from politicians, regulators, competitors, taxi organisations and activists.

Uber’s intelligence team allegedly infiltrated private event spaces at hotel and conference facilities that a group of competing executives used during their stay. Jacobs claimed that Uber recorded and observed private conversations among the executives including their real-time reactions to the news that Uber would receive $3.4bn from the Saudi government.

Live updates, photos and videos were then allegedly transmitted back to the “War Room” at Uber’s headquarters, where the company’s former CEO, Travis Kalanick, along with other members of Uber’s executive team, could observe.

Uber operatives also impersonated taxi drivers, Jacobs said, to infiltrate private Facebook groups and WhatsApp groups of opponents.

Matthew Umhofer, an attorney representing four members of Uber’s security team mentioned in the letter, added: “The competitive information gathering that was done at the explicit request of management was unremarkable and no different than what’s done by law-abiding companies across the country and Uber’s own competitors.”

Umhofer also described the letter as “character assassination for cash” and said that Jacobs “is nothing more than a failed Uber employee who underperformed and got demoted, and then retaliated against his supervisors”.

During his testimony last month, Jacobs repudiated some of the allegations made in his demand letter, saying that he had only reviewed it for 20 minutes before his lawyer had sent it. Among those was the allegation that “Uber used the marketplace analytics team to steal trade secrets at least from Waymo in the United States”. Jacobs said that the team primarily worked overseas, but in the US had researched “protest and threat groups targeting Uber”.

Waymo sued Uber in February, alleging that the ride-hail company’s acquisition of the self-driving startup Otto, founded by the former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski, was actually a scheme to acquire secrets stolen from Waymo.

The federal judge William Alsup, who is overseeing the trade secrets case, was only alerted to the existence of the explosive demand letter by federal prosecutors on 22 November in a separate letter in which they confirmed that there was an open criminal investigation into Uber. “You should have come clean with this long ago,” he subsequently told Uber’s lawyers in court.

Because such a key piece of evidence had been withheld, Alsup delayed the start of the trial.

“If even half of what’s in that letter is true, it would be a huge injustice to force Waymo to go to trial” as scheduled, he said.

At the time, a spokeswoman for Waymo called the new evidence “significant and troubling” and welcomed the trial delay as an “opportunity to fully investigate this new, highly relevant information”.

But an Uber spokeswoman, Chelsea Kohler, said in a statement then: “None of the testimony today changes the merits of the case. Jacobs himself said on the stand today that he was not aware of any Waymo trade secrets being stolen.”

Uber maintained that it did not withhold information because the letter was outside of Waymo’s discovery demands. The special master, a court official helping out with the trial, did not agree, concluding in a report filed on Friday that “Uber should have produced” the Jacobs demand letter in response to Waymo’s discovery requests.

 

 

Related Stories

  • Dustin Hoffman Faces Disturbing New Allegations of Sexual Misconduct
  • Trump Is a Master Game-Changer, but Not the Kind You May Think
  • Sexual Harassment Trainings Aren’t Protecting Women at Work the Way They Should

Trump Reportedly Considered Rescinding Neil Gorsuch Nomination Because He Wasn’t ‘Loyal’

The president was allegedly placated by a complimentary note from the judge.

President Donald Trump privately discussed his frustrations with Neil Gorsuch, his Supreme Court nominee, earlier this year amid worries that he wasn’t “loyal” enough to the president.

As The Washington Post reported Monday night, Trump “was upset that [then-nominee] Gorsuch had pointedly distanced himself from the president in a private February meeting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT),” claiming he was “worried that Gorsuch would not be ‘loyal.’”

In the private meeting with the Connecticut Democrat, Gorsuch called Trump’s first travel ban “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

According to several Post sources familiar with the conversations, Trump floated the idea of rescinding Gorsuch’s nomination over the slight, though it’s unclear his “explosion” was mere venting or was discussed as a genuine prospect.

Nevertheless, “at the time, some in the White House and on Capitol Hill feared that Gorsuch’s confirmation — which had been shaping up to be one of the clearest triumph’s of Trump’s tumultuous young presidency — was on the verge of going awry,” the report continued.

Gorsuch’s confirmation and short tenure in the Supreme Court has been touted by the president as one of his greatest achievements since taking office in January.

According to 11 sources within the White House or familiar with the discussion, “Trump was especially upset by what he viewed as Gorsuch’s insufficient gratitude for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.” Shortly after his interview with Blumenthal, Gorsuch sent the president a handwritten note thanking him.

“Your address to Congress was magnificent,” Gorsuch wrote to the president in a note obtained by the Post. “And you were so kind to recognize Mrs. [Maureen] Scalia [widow of the late Justice Antonin Scalia], remember the justice, and mention me. My teenage daughters were cheering the TV!”

Upon receiving the note, the president was placated, the report continued.

“As head of legislative affairs, our team was in charge of his nomination, and never did I view his nomination in jeopardy, nor did the president ever suggest to me that he wanted to pull him,” Marc Short, the White House’s director of legislative affairs and assistant to the president, told the Post. “The process obviously caused frustration, but that frustration was compounded by the fact that Gorsuch had sent him a personal letter that he never received.”

As Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis noted on Twitter after the Post published their story, Trump’s concerns that Gorsuch would not be “loyal” to him are misplaced given that judges and other federal law enforcement officials take oaths to uphold the constitution rather than the presidency. The story, Dennis continued, is reminiscent of Trump’s request that former FBI Director James Comey swear loyalty to him — the denial of which led to his firing.

 

Related Stories

  • Former CIA Official Suggests Trump Campaign Team May Have ‘Welcomed’ Russian Election Interference
  • Trump Judicial Nominee Withdraws After GOP Senator Publicly Embarrasses Him
  • If Trump Fires Mueller, Is a Watergate Rerun Coming?

Charles Sykes, Anti-Trump Conservative, Looks for Common Ground with the Left

Some conservatives are just as horrified as progressives.

Charles J. Sykes is among the more reasonable conservative voices in America now. Formerly a popular conservative talk radio host in Wisconsin, he once specialized in the sort of invective that drives ratings and barroom rants: The Census Bureau was a “bully”; Bill Clinton’s Justice Department was not unlike the Nazis; and so on. In the words of Milwaukee Magazine, he lived in “a Chicken Little reality where the sky is always falling and every public figure is forever running for cover.”

Then came Trump. During the 2016 campaign, Sykes broke ranks with Republicans over the candidacy of the oft-bankrupted real estate mogul. Sykes wrote a book titled How the Right Lost Its Mind. He became a regular contributor to the New York Times and a cogent critic of Trumpism. 

When I spotted Sykes at the Miami Book Fair, I had to ask him a question many people are asking: Can the left and right unite to get rid of Trump?

Here’s our conversation, edited for length.

Jefferson Morley: The country is in an emergency situation with Trump, and I think every possible solution should be considered, even things that haven’t been tried before, like the left working with the right. What could the left learn from the right at this moment when we have an incompetent, ignorant, impulsive, deceptive president?

Charles J. Sykes: First of all, I agree with every way you just described him, so let’s start with that. We have some commonality. If there is a Venn diagram between left and right, there’s not a lot of overlap these days, but there is some overlap, and that overlap is crucial on things like the truth ought to matter. Facts ought to matter. Rule of law ought to matter. Let’s find that common ground.

I find it interesting that people on the left are now suddenly very interested in the whole idea of checks and balances, and that’s OK because this is now an emergency, so let’s talk about it.

People on the right have to come to grips with, have we become a post-intellectual, post-knowledge movement? I think that’s important.

The one suggestion I would make [to the left], no political conversation can begin by people saying, “Will you confess now that you are a bigot and you’ve always been a bigot?”

Also recognize that there are conservatives who are as horrified, if not more horrified than you are, by what’s happened.

JM: What was the moment for you in the last few years when you realized what was coming? Was there an ‘aha’ moment?

CJS: No, there wasn’t one moment. It was this long, soul-crushing slog where I kept thinking, “This can’t happen. This won’t happen,” and then the growing recognition that the conservative movement was much more broken than I had thought. I thought I understood what [the movement] was about. I thought I understood who we were. And then I started to realize, this can’t be happening, if I was right.

There were two phases of this, both of which had their own soul-crushing qualities. The first was Trump’s rise to the nomination over other much more acceptable candidates, and the way the Republican electorate was voting for this man who was so manifestly unfit, so obviously a con man.

It wasn’t that the information was not available. And this was helped by the capitulation of much of the conservative media. To watch Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and others play this disingenuous, sick game of enabling him, I don’t know what game they were playing, but it had disastrous consequences.

The second phase, which was just as disillusioning, was watching all the people who… understood who Trump was—and in Wisconsin we voted against him overwhelmingly—fall in line behind him, one by one, because it was a binary choice, tribal politics. No matter how awful or terrible he was, no matter how many women he sexually assaulted, no matter how many disabled reporters he mocked, at least he wasn’t as hateful as Hillary Clinton.

I don’t think I was naïve about how partisan we’ve become, but the power of that tribalism was really on display there.

JM: You talk about being surprised. I think people on the left would say there’s a straight line from George W. Bush to Donald Trump, and that’s what set the stage for this. So you can’t exempt yourself from blame.

CJS: I don’t. I went back and I said, OK, I had been wrong about some things that I obviously did not fully understand, and I may have participated in myself. As you go back, you start to realize, wow, here are some warning signs I should have seen…

But there is a discontinuity between the party that used to listen to William F. Buckley and now listens to Sean Hannity; that used to read Edmund Burke and now reads Ann Coulter. So some things are not a straight line.

JM: Did you have a favorite among the Republican candidates?

CJS: I expected all along I was going to support Marco Rubio or someone like Marco Rubio. But he didn’t even last long enough to get to Wisconsin.

JM: Now we live in a social media world. We have the Facebook behemoth. Can we ever get back to having credible sources of information that are not immediately impugned and sidelined because of people’s preconceived notions?

CJS: That is an urgent question. That may be the most urgent question. You ask, was there an ‘aha’ moment for me? I think it was sometime in the middle of 2016 when I realized that I was no longer able to push back against fake news. So with people I had known for 20 years, I could not penetrate this alternative reality silo. They were immune. Nothing outside that bubble was credible to them. That was the ‘oh shit’ moment: where they had succeeded in delegitimizing everything on the outside. I don’t know how we put that back together.

JM: Is Robert Mueller our savior? How do you think about the Russia investigation?

CJS: It is immensely important. This is one of the most disillusioning parts of what’s happening: the failure on the part of conservatives to recognize that this is a fundamental issue of our democracy, if we had the Russians trying to undermine our democracy, this is very big and deep.

Having grown up in the era of Ronald Reagan to hear Republicans say, “It’s not that bad.”… I had a caller on the CSPAN show I just did who was defending Vladimir Putin, saying, “Putin stands up for his people just like Donald Trump.”

Obviously, this is a serious investigation. Don’t expect the Trump base to be moved because the battlefield has been prepped already: “this is biased, this is a witch hunt.” I actually believe if we had this media environment in the 1970s, Richard Nixon would have survived Watergate. I’m not kidding. Imagine if he had a Hannity and a Breitbart News and a Fox News.

On the other hand, I think that this is like turning over a rock. You are going to find so many things besides just the Russian collusion. We say that Donald Trump is a con man and a fraud, but that’s the way he’s done business for years. Now suddenly you have a guy [Mueller] who is going to get everything.

… I think if Trump tries to fire Mueller, I think you will have a full-fledged constitutional crisis.

JM: I feel like that’s inevitable: He will fire Mueller.

CJS: I think that anything that is conceivable, is perhaps likely. So, going back to your original question, that’s when you have to have Democrats and principled Republicans voting together. That’s when you are going to need conservative Republicans to say we’re going to draw the line.

It has already begun to a certain extent. Don’t underestimate the significance of John McCain, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, and to a lesser extent Ben Sasse. They’re not running for reelection, so that’s a downside. The upside is that they speak for a lot of Republicans who are not willing to speak out. So there’s a residual potential there—unless you scare them off.

JM: So if you’re a congressman from Wisconsin and somebody says here’s an article of impeachment, are you ready to vote for that?

CJS: Now? No, it’s premature. This is one of the rare moments where I think Nancy Pelosi is the real voice of political savvy. She understands: Keep your powder dry. Don’t burn it all until the real stuff comes down. To talk about impeachment at this point, all it does is reinforce the instinct to circle the wagons.

You know more stuff is coming. Wait until you get it. Don’t cry wolf.

JM: Do you think Trump will survive his term?

CJS: I assume he will, yes. But the issue of the women [he groped or assaulted] is going to come back…. You have this massive cultural shift and it’s inevitable that his accusers are going to get their moment. You have this contrast between all of these other men whose careers have been annihilated. And here you have the president of the United States who has never apologized, who has paid no price for this whatsoever. Republicans are going to have to answer: Do you believe these women or do you not believe these women? That is coming.

 

 

Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus announced: Sleek, selfie-focused mid-rangers

Samsung just announced its new mid-range phones, the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018).

Replacing the 2017 Galaxy A lineup, the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8 Plus feature attractive specs and a design that is inspired by the Galaxy S series. The coolest feature is the dual front cameras, which feature f 1.9 lenses and portrait mode.

A simpler naming scheme

In recent years, Samsung has released several popular phones in the mid range as part of the A series. The naming convention for these devices – Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7 – conflicted with the way Samsung names its most important devices, the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series.

With the 2018 generation, Samsung has renamed the Galaxy A5 to Galaxy A8 (2018) and the Galaxy A7 to Galaxy A8 Plus (2018).

We don’t know for now what happened to the Galaxy A3. Did Samsung kill it? Will it be folded in the Galaxy J series?

Front-facing dual cameras

The Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus are the first Samsung phones with dual front cameras. These mid-rangers beat out the flagships to the punch, though dual front cameras have been a fixture on mid-range phones from other manufacturers.

The cameras feature f 1.9 lenses – basically, the lower the number the better – so they should give your selfie nice background blurs.

One of the cameras is 16MP, and the other one 8MP. Samsung says you can switch between them to get the type of shot you like, which makes it sound like they have different widths of angle.

Portrait modes are all the rage, and the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8 Plus are jumping on the bandwagon. You can take selfies and adjust the amount of blur in the background, before and after taking the image – this feature is called Live Focus and we’ve seen it before on the rear dual camera of the Galaxy Note 8.

You also get stickers and a beauty mode to spice up your self-portraits.

Familiar design, competent specs

The new Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) look a lot like Samsung’s 2017 devices, mixing a smooth glass back with a metallic chassis and the 18.5:9 display form factor.

They are available in black, orchid grey, gold and blue.

The Galaxy A8 features a 5.6-inch Full HD+ (“+” denoting it’s an 18.5:9 panel), while the A8 Plus goes up to 6 inches, but keeps the same resolution.

The two phones share most of the key specs, including the cameras (16 MP PDAF f 1.7 on the back), an octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32/64GB of storage.

The smaller A8 features a 3,000 mAh battery. The A8 Plus gets an excellent 3,500 mAh – that’s the same as the much pricier Galaxy S8 Plus.

Both phones feature fingerprint sensors (placed below the rear camera), USB Type-C, Samsung Pay (with MST, so you can use them on older points of sale), and IP68 water and dust resistance.

Comparing the Galaxy A8 to the current generation

Compared to the 2017 Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7, the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) offer updated designs that follow the Galaxy S series (much smaller bezels, fingerprint sensor is now on the back), as well as improvements to the processor, RAM and memory.

The biggest new feature is the dual front camera. The screens are also larger, though the actual size of the phone is almost unchanged. That’s probably why the battery capacity remained roughly the same.

Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8 Plus price and availability

You will be able to buy the Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) starting from January. That’s the only detail that Samsung has revealed so far, but we expect to learn more at CES Las Vegas, when we’ll also go our hands on these two phones.

If the price of previous phones in the A series is any indication, the new A8 and A8 Plus will cost in the $350-$450 range, depending on the market.

Thoughts on the new Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8 Plus (2018)?

O’Reilly Accuser: Time Bomb of Info on Sex Harasser Executives in ‘Highest Positions’ at Fox News Is Counting Down

Fox News has paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements related to O’Reilly alone.

“Tick tock, tick tock,” wrote conservative commentator and Bill O’Reilly sexual harassment accuser Juliet Huddy on Saturday. “Executives who not only covered up for sexual harassers/predators (statements by 21st Century Fox co-chairman Rupert Murdoch, who said on Friday that the sexual harassment and abuse scandal at his network is merely “nonsense,” and that it’s a “political” attack on the network “because we’re conservative.”

LawAndCrime.com said that in a post that she deleted from Facebook, but then posted on Twitter, Huddy wrote, “Rupert Murdoch is not just a media mogul. He’s a perpetrator, complicit in wrecking careers of hardworking, talented people while protecting their tormentors.”

She continued, “The more we shame disgraceful executives like Murdoch, the faster we send the message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.”

In a statement to Law and Crime, Huddy said, “It’s ironic that O’Reilly, Murdoch and others have suggested that I, along with the other accusers, are part of some left wing conspiracy. [One], I’m fiscally conservative and socially liberal so let’s just get that out of the way. [And two], based on everything I have seen and has been reported, the participants in this, The Grand Conspiracy, are the executives at Fox.”

She said that Murdoch himself is not accused of harassing women, but that he was instrumental in covering up and burying stories about O’Reilly, former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and others.

Huddy is one of multiple women to whom Fox News has paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements related to O’Reilly alone. A parade of other women have come forward with accusations of harassment, sexualized bullying and a “locker room” culture at the network.

 

Related Stories

  • Is This a ‘Sex Panic’ or a National Moment of Reckoning? Can’t It Be Both?
  • Why Some of Us Hesitated to Say #MeToo
  • How One American Journalist Took Down Militiamen Who Raped 50 Young Girls

Chrome will begin to block bad ads on February 15

best android browsers featured image

  • Chrome will begin blocking offending ads on February 15.
  • The offending ads include those that flash, play audio unexpectedly, and take up an entire page.
  • Sites will be given 30 days to get in compliances before ads are blocked on Chrome.

Advertisements are everywhere. Every time you leave the house, ads bombard you on the radio and the side of the road, If you stay in, you’re similarly assaulted when you’re watching TV, playing a game, or surfing the web. Ads are so pervasive that it’s the goal of some people to get rid of as many of them as possible. There are web browsers out there that block ads natively, but you might not expect Chrome to be one of them.

Google announced in June that Chrome would begin to block ads early in 2018. It’s not blocking every ad, though. Google joined the Coalition for Better Ads earlier this year and will use its standards for how the industry should improve ads for consumers. If a website doesn’t abide by those rules, Chrome will block ads on the site. This extends to ads from Google’s own advertising network.

See also

So, what kind of ads will be banned? As it turns out, they’re the ones people hate the most. Among them are full-page ad interstitials, ads that play sounds unexpectedly, and ads that flash quickly. While those might be obvious choices, not every ad will be. For that reason, the Coalition for Better Ads launched the Better Ads Experience Program. The program lays out guidelines for sites to display ads in a way that works for both the consumer and the site showing them.

Google will begin to block the offending ads on February 15. After 30 days of failure to adhere to the new standards, ads are removed. If Google does block ads on a site, the offender can submit their site for re-review after it fixes the issues.

What do you think of Google’s new ad blocking policy? Does it go too far? Not far enough? Let us know down in the comments.

Do You Do These 5 Things With Your Cellphone That Health Officials Say You Shouldn’t?

You don’t sleep with your phone—do you?

Radiation from your cellphone could be bad for more than just your mental health, California state health officials warn.

The California Department of Public Health has just released the first-ever guidelines on avoiding too much exposure to the radiation cellphones emit. State officials said one of the reasons for releasing the guidelines is that statistics show cellphone use is at an all-time high, with 95 percent of Americans using cellphones each day, Pew Research Center notes.

Perhaps another reason the guidelines are coming out now is due to pressure from researchers and others. Karen Smith, of the state health department, said there is widespread public concern over cellphone safety, according to a San Francisco CBS station.

Psychologist and UC Berkeley professor Joel Moskowitz sued the health department in 2009 for its refusal to release information on the risks of cellphone use to the public. He won the lawsuit this spring. “People are being injured and harmed by the delay in having this information accessible to them,” Moskowitz told San Francisco’s CBS News affiliate.

Potential Risks

Cellphone use may increase the risk of cancer, but the scientific evidence so far is inconclusive, mainly due to the relatively short period of time cellphones have been around.

Cellphone radiation could be harmful due to the type of radio waves the devices emit: non-ionizing radiation. Tissues close to phone antennas—which exist inside of every smartphone—can be heated by the radiation, as the FDA, American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute all recognize. When you hold your phone up to your head, those nearby tissues include your ears and brain.

Some studies have linked cellphone radiation exposure with brain tumors and other brain cancers, as the American Cancer Society acknowledges, but most studies have not shown conclusive evidence one way or another. Because cellphone use has only been widespread for a few years, as ACA notes, it is impossible for any study to conclude what the long-term health effects of exposure could be.

Higher levels of exposure to non-ionizing radiation are known to impact the health of human cells and DNA, but whether cellphones can expose us to those higher levels is a question researchers are still working to answer.

AlterNet ran an article by Christopher Ketcham in 2011 exploring the widespread reports of cellphones and WiFi making people and animals sick. For the first time in human history, Ketcham noted, people are being exposed to electromagnetic frequencies from cellphones, WiFi and digital meters 24 hours a day. He quotes David O. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the State University of New York, who said, “Radiofrequency radiation has a number of biological effects which can be reproducibly found in animals and cellular systems. We really cannot say for certain what the adverse effects are in humans. But the indications are that there may be—and I use the words ‘may be’—very serious effects in humans.”

While the National Cancer Institute’s official stance is that cellphones likely do not emit high enough levels of radiation to affect human health, at least in the short term, its fact sheet on cellphone safety states: “Radiofrequency exposure from cellphone use does cause heating to the area of the body where a cellphone or other device is held (ear, head, etc.). However, it is not sufficient to measurably increase body temperature, and there are no other clearly established effects on the body from radiofrequency energy.”

Other research shows that cellular phones could potentially lower sperm count, cause headaches, and intefere with sleep, hearing and memory retention.

CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta warned in 2012 that the risks of cellphone radiation are largely unknown. See the video, below:

An Atlantic article from earlier this year notes that a study published in PLUS ONE concluded there is a “‘significant’ association between long-term mobile phone use and the risk of glioma,” a type of brain tumor.
“But the actual significance of the link is questionable,” the Atlantic piece states. “The data they used spanned 11 studies between 1980 and 2016, but the researchers themselves acknowledged the evidence is limited and much of the data is ‘poor quality.’ The biggest takeaway, then, may be their conclusion that more study is needed.”
 
As in the U.S., European health experts continue to argue over the potential risks of cellphone radiation amid lack of long-term studies. A large-scale cellphone health study, the COSMOS project, is currently working to track the phone usage and health of more than half a million people across Europe. The study began in 2007 and will continue for the next two to three decades.

The New Guidelines

Since the long-term risk of cellphone use is unknown, why not take some simple, commonsense steps to reduce radiation exposure just in case? This was the apparent thought process behind California’s new guidelines.

The risk of cellphone radiation exposure can increase or decrease exponentially based on some simple do’s and don’ts. It’s a matter of tweaking a few basic habits.

Here are five things not to do, according to the California guidelines for cellphone health, “How to Reduce Exposure to Radiofrequency Energy from Cellphones.”

1. Don’t hold your phone up to your ear.“Use the speakerphone or a headset instead,” because “wireless (Bluetooth) and wired headsets emit much less RF energy than cellphones.” The guidelines also suggest sending text messages rather than talking on the phone whenever possible.

2. Try not to use your phone if you’re in a fast-moving vehicle.“Your phone puts out more RF energy to maintain connections to avoid dropping calls as it switches connections from one cell tower to the next unless it is in airplane mode,” the guidelines state.

3. Avoid using your phone when you have one or two service bars showing.“Cellphones put out more RF energy to connect with cell towers when the signal is weak,” the guide notes.

4. Don’t carry your phone in your pocket, bra or holster close to your body.The guidelines suggest you carry it in a backpack, briefcase, purse or elsewhere, so that the device is kept several inches away from your body. A few inches can make a difference, it notes. Also, put phones on airplane mode when carrying them close as the devices don’t emit RF energy when in airplane mode.

5. Never sleep with your phone under your pillow or near your head. Karen Smith from the state health department suggests keeping your phone at least an arm’s length away from your body when sleeping. You should also turn your phone off or on airplane mode while you sleep, the guidelines note.

 

Related Stories

  • Pharmaceutical Company Billionaire and Wife Found Dead in ‘Suspicious’ Circumstances
  • How Healthy Is Your State? The Disparities Are Stark
  • Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth