How 1 app helped me tackle my iPhone addiction once and for all

Image: vicky leta / mashable

“Get your face out of your phone, Rachel. Your brother’s here to spend time with you.” These were the words—uttered to me by my mother during a family visit—that yanked me out of the iPhone-addicted vortex I’d fallen head over heels into.

Life was passing me by as I hunched over a tiny screen for six or seven hours a day. A screen that I seemed to deem more deserving of my time and attention than my nearest and dearest family members. I needed an iPhone detox. But, first, I needed to look up from my screen.

A few weeks later, I was still staring aimlessly at my phone while waiting to board a flight for a holiday in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Right there and then, I made a promise to myself to confront my phone addiction once and for all. 

The rules for the detox were straightforward and simple (in theory): 

  • Spend fewer than two hours per day on my iPhone. 

  • Upload my Instagram story and then exit the app within 10 minutes. 

  • Delete Slack.

  • Scroll through Twitter once a day. 

  • Send Snapchats to streaks only. 

  • Desist from using games and dating apps. 

Once I’d made a mental note of these rules, I began to take steps to create physical distance between me and my phone. I’d known for a while which apps were the biggest offenders for draining my time—based on my Battery Usage data in my Settings—so imposing nominal limits on those apps seemed like a logical step. 

At night, I put my phone to charge on the other side of the room from my bed. I took a book, rather than my phone, to breakfast and lunch. I switched off mobile data. I connected to WiFi once or twice a day. I deleted Slack and I didn’t miss it. I scarcely looked at Twitter and on the few occasions I did, it bored me. I sent snaps to keep my streaks in order and I didn’t hang around. I tried (and struggled) to keep my Instagram time to a minimum. I estimated that I spent around roughly one hour per day on my phone, usually half an hour in the afternoon and half an hour during the evening.

Not an iPhone in sight.

Image: rachel thompson

But, though I might have won the battle during my vacation, I knew I’d have a full-scale war on my hands the moment I returned home. 

Just as predicted, during my first weekend back in the UK, I was spending anything between four and six hours on my iPhone a day, which I would calculate by looking at Settings > Battery > Battery Usage. My self-control, it seems, had been left behind in Zanzibar. 

My boss came to my rescue, thankfully, and suggested that I download an app called Mute, a screen time tracker that sends push notifications when your phone usage becomes too much. Reluctantly, I downloaded this app, which would shame me out of my desire to secretly revert back to my old iPhone-addicted ways. 

My first day using Mute was a very shameful day. I spent five hours and 48 minutes on my phone and I was checking it every 8 minutes. I’d love to say that these six hours on my phone enriched my personal or professional life in some way, but in truth, I gained nothing from scrolling aimlessly through Instagram and Twitter, and fiddling around on Bumble and Pocket Camp.

A recent study found the average millennial spends 3.2 hours a day on their smartphones. The study—conducted by market researcher Kantar TNS— of over 60,000 internet users from 50 countries found that people aged between 16 and 30 spend around 22 hours a week, and 49 days a year on their smartphones.

Based on my own calculations, I was hurtling towards double the average screen time of my peers—a staggering two days each week, and almost 100 days a year. Shocking, I know.

It was as if I’d never even detoxed. Something needed to change. 

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

Mute sent me push notifications after each hour spent on my phone, which kept me up to speed on how much of my day I was wasting on my phone. These notifications were mostly helpful, but some arrived at times when I couldn’t actually avoid using my phone, like during FaceTime sessions with family, or while setting my alarm for the next day. 

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

But, on a grander scale, this made me realise just how much I rely on my phone for practical life admin things. My phone gets me out of bed in the morning, it tells me which train I need to get, it helps me find dates. 

Determined not to be shown up by an app, I attempted to create some space between me and my phone throughout the day. At work, I kept my phone on Do Not Disturb mode, and made sure it was turned screen-down. At home, I’d leave my phone in another room so I wouldn’t be tempted to fiddle on my phone as I watched TV or chatted to my flatmate.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

Still, there were moments during my working day where I found myself clutching my phone in my hand without remembering why I’d picked it up. And, even when I cut down my total time spent on my phone, I was still flipping my phone over and lighting it up to see if I had any notifications. This is something I need to work on, because it could affect my health.

Studies have looked extensively at the impact of smartphone overuse on mental health, finding links to depression, anxiety, and increased suicide rates. 

One recent report published by the Association for Psychological Science looked at the recent rise in depression and suicide in adolescents, and found that teens who spent more time on smartphones were “more likely to report mental health issues” than those who spent more time on “non-screen activities” like sport, and socialising. Another study found that excessive nighttime smartphone use in young people was causing chronic sleep deprivation, which was negatively affecting their academic success. 

But, once I began to reclaim that distance between me and my phone, the push notifications changed. 

When I took a long break from my phone, Mute would let send me a little notification once I resumed phone use to let me know how long I’d been off my phone. 

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

It also sent me notifications comparing my usage, letting me know if I’d shown an improvement the previous day. 

Image: Rachel Thompson / mashable

With a little help from this app, I’ve managed to keep my holiday iPhone detox going for two weeks. And, I plan to keep it that way. My screen time is currently skirting around the two hour mark, but I’d like to try to reduce that. 

Overall, I’ve noticed that I feel significantly less anxious. I have less trouble getting to sleep at night, and I feel better rested every morning. During a trip to visit my parents, my mother spotted a marked difference in my wellbeing, and told me I seemed significantly happier and more relaxed. 

While my screen time isn’t too bad during the week, it appears that my usage creeps up a little on weekends and edges a little bit too close to the three-hour part. This is something I’ll need to keep a watchful eye on, too. 

Mute has drawn my attention to a few other iPhone-related habits, too. Like, picking up my phone more than 100 times a day. Checking it every few minutes. And, based on my location data, the majority of my screen-time happens at home, meaning evenings are my iPhone downfall. 

There’s a long road ahead of me, but my holiday detox combined with Mute have shown me that I’m capable of reclaiming my screen time. My face is finally out of the screen, and I plan to keep it out. 

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With Gowdy retirement, the Benghazi Boys are officially leaving Congress

Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) announced that he would not seek reelection this year. Gowdy is far from the first House Republican to say he wouldn’t run in 2018, but he is one of the most prominent. And alongside Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who announced his retirement last month, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who hightailed out of Washington this spring, it marks the end of an era of Congress.

Congress’ Benghazi Boys are all going home.

Issa, Gowdy, and Chaffetz all entered Congress at different times, but they coalesced around a singular idea: Hillary Clinton’s guilt in the Benghazi attack.

For those who have forgotten the attack in Libya and the ensuing five years of drama, on Sept. 11, 2o12, a U.S. diplomatic mission and CIA compound were overrun by insurgents in the seaside town of Benghazi. Four Americans died, including ambassador Chris Stevens. Republicans in Congress settled instantly on who was responsible: Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who was already the presumptive 2016 Democratic nominee.

At the time, Issa was chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and he almost immediately threw his committee into investigating the matter, holding a hearing less than a month later titled “The Security Failure of Benghazi,” where State Department officials were called to testify.

In that hearing, both Chaffetz and Gowdy took the opportunity to raise their profile. Issa began the hearing by thanking Chaffetz for being the one who “first began this investigation,” and Chaffetz opened up questioning by calling the investigation into Benghazi a “moral imperative.”

“I believe we have a moral imperative to pursue this. We have four dead Americans. We have others that are critically injured. This is a very serious situation. We have to understand how we got her.”

Gowdy, in particular, led a fiery charge against the State Department about the deteriorating security situation leading up to the attacks. But for all their grandstanding, it was revealed that security lapses around the embassy were due in part to budget cuts at the State Department, which Chaffetz and Issa supported, as noted in a New York Times editorial at the time:

But as part of the Republican majority that has controlled the House the last two years, Mr. Issa joined in cutting nearly a half-billion dollars from the State Department’s two main security accounts. One covers things like security staffing, including local guards, armored vehicles and security technology; the other, embassy construction and upgrades.

Chaffetz even went on TV right before the hearing and said he was fine with cutting the budget for the State Department.

Getting egg on their faces was a frequent occurrence for Issa, Gowdy, and Chaffetz in their investigation into Benghazi, which ended in bumbling embarrassment. At one point, Issa went on national TV and accused Clinton of lying about signing off on a diplomatic cable about security at Benghazi. She hadn’t.

But the failure at Oversight Committee wasn’t enough. After Issa’s investigation ended, House Republicans pushed for a special committee to investigate Benghazi, which Gowdy was put in charge of. In the run-up to the committee being formed, Chaffetz and Gowdy started explicitly placing the blame on Clinton.

On Fox News, in January 2014, after a New York Times article on what happened at Benghazi, Gowdy accused the paper of minimizing Clinton’s role to pave the way for an election win in 2016.

“I have read this New York Times article six times. I want you to read it six times and tell me if you can tell who the secretary of state was when Benghazi happened. Because her name wasn’t mentioned a single solitary time in this exhaustive New York Times piece. Not once.”

Chaffetz blamed Clinton for keeping security at a minimum to give off the appearance of success in the U.S. mission in Libya.

“The bottom line is Hillary Clinton wanted the appearance of normalization ,” Chaffetz said. “Security was not driving these decisions. Politics was.”

Gowdy’s investigation culminated in a widely televised 11-hour grilling of Clinton, but it was another action months earlier that would be the anchor that tied them to Clinton’s 2016 candidacy. In February of 2015, while investigating Clinton, the committee discovered her private email server, a story that subsequently made its way into the New York Times.

When the committee finally issued its findings in June, in the middle of the 2016 election, it found the State Department did not adequately protect its diplomats in Libya and said Clinton should have been aware of the security lapses and taken measures to improve the situation.

But the real goal it accomplished was in damaging Clinton. Issa even said so. “You know, people often ask Trey Gowdy and myself, what did our investigations do? Well, what they did is that they opened up an opportunity for the American people to sort of smell what’s in the garbage can,” Issa told Boston Herald Radio in January 2016. And I think that’s the reason that a devout socialist who wants to nationalize almost everything in America is close to and probably will beat Hillary .”

Gowdy continued a campaign against Clinton after his report was issued, going on Fox to call her a “habitual, serial liar.”

Chaffetz, for his part, had said he was looking forward to investigating Clinton from “Day One” and that he had two years’ worth of investigations lined up should she win the presidency.

But she lost. And with their biggest cause in Congress gone and, with it, the only foil they have really ever known, the Benghazi Boys are all heading home.

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Did you see the amazing drone show at the opening ceremony? Heres how Intel pulled it off

One of the most mesmerizing moments of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Friday was the image of more than 1,200 drones working in unison to make the image of a snowboarder that then transformed into the Olympic rings.

It was a site that showed just how gorgeous technology can be.

According to AdWeek, Intel broke its own world record for the number of drones used with 1,218, and the idea of the performance was to enthrall.

“Since fireworks in the seventh or eighth century, there has been no alternative option,” Anil Nanduri, the vice president and general manager of Intel’s drone division, told AdWeek. “With drones, you have the ability to fly programmable lights in the city with precision.”

Though the show presented during the opening ceremony wasn’t actually live—it was reportedly filmed in December—the spectacle was impressive.

More from AdWeek:

To pull off the performance, Intel shipped all of the equipment to South Korea in late October and early November for a December flight.

Using Intel’s 3-D animator tools and simulation software, the company choreographed the flight patterns and coded the drones to display a fraction of their possible 4 billion color combinations. As the artists programmed different patterns and lights, the software showed exactly how that would look in the sky without a single drone taking off. For example, the system doesn’t let any two drones exist in the same location.

Depending on the complexity of a given pattern, the process can take between a few minutes and several weeks. In this case, Intel spent several months. After all the planning, the actual programming of the drones is fairly fast, taking just 10 or 15 minutes before they’re ready to fly.

Intel also created the drone show Lady Gaga used during her Super Bowl performance last year.

According to Wired, Intel wanted to produce a live version of the stunt for those in attendance at the opening ceremony, but at the last minute, that had to be canceled for what the company called “impromptu logistical changes.”

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The Rite Press takes low-tech coffee making to high-tech highs

If coffee be the food of innovation, pour on. Give me excess of it that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die. And if you wish to pour me coffee, do so from the Rite Press, a clever hack on the traditional French press that adds a few features that even high-end models don’t have.

The press – which costs $35 for a half-liter model and $40 for the liter model – has hit its goal on Kickstarter and I’ve been able to play with it over the past few weeks. The press features two special features. One is a small, readable thermometer on the plunger that ensures your water temperature is well within the proper range for a good brew. Second, the system includes a magnetic timer that looks like something Hal Solo would use to time his Italian roast.

It also has a very clever removable bottom that lets you clean out the grounds with ease. The Kickstarter ends in thirteen days and they are already well over their goal.

Again, this is some low-tech stuff. You could buy a very basic French press for much less. I particularly like the design here and I suspect we should support the creation of new and unique kitchen gear or else be buried in an avalanche of status quo devices. As a fan of coffee and a fan of good design the RitePress is something I’m happy to get behind.

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Ledger is working on new native apps for its cryptocurrency hardware wallet

French startup Ledger is making some of the most secure cryptocurrency hardware wallets out there. But the company’s apps aren’t that great. That’s why the company announced that Ledger has been working on brand new native apps for all desktop and mobile platforms.

Right now, Ledger relies on Google Chrome for its desktop apps. At some point, Google wanted to promote web apps and give them access to special APIs with Google Chrome Apps. The company has been phasing out those apps for a year or so.

And it’s great news for Ledger users as those apps weren’t that great. You had to install multiple apps to manage multiple cryptocurrencies.

If you wanted to check your Ethereum balance after your Bitcoin balance, you had to quit the Chrome app and launch another one. Those apps also don’t feel native. They get the job done, but the rise of altcoins have been problematic for those apps.

Ledger shared parts of its roadmap on the software front. First, there will be a new desktop app for macOS, Windows and Linux. It’s going to be native and independent from Chrome, and it’s going to work with 23 cryptocurrencies from day one.

Many intense cryptocurrency users have multiple Ledger wallets. That’s why you’ll be able to manage multiple wallets at once in the app.

If you’re not using a portfolio tracker, you’ll be able to use the Ledger app as a dashboard to view the value of your portfolio even when you don’t plug your wallets. All of this is coming out at some point during the second quarter of 2018.

After that, the company is going to focus on other features, such as Android and iOS apps, an automated way to install and uninstall apps on your Ledger Nano S so that you’re not limited to five cryptocurrencies, third-party integrations so that you can buy and sell cryptocurrencies on exchanges from the Ledger app and support for over a hundred cryptocurrencies.

It seems like Ledger spent most of 2017 focusing on scaling production. But 2018 is all about new features.

Disclosure: I own small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

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The city divided by a slave trader’s legacy

Image copyright Dave Betts
Image caption The statue of Edward Colston in Bristol “is a constant reminder of his inhumanity”, says poet Miles Chambers

Bristol’s fame and wealth was built on the slave trade and few slave traders were more infamous or wealthy than Edward Colston. Almost 300 years since his death, his past is set to be formally acknowledged by the city for the first time. But does this go far enough?

Colston made his fortune through human suffering. Between 1672 and 1689, his 40 slave ships transported about 100,000 men, women and children from Africa to the Americas.

However, in the city he called home, his memory has been honoured for centuries. On his death in 1721, he bequeathed his wealth to charities and his legacy can still be seen on Bristol’s streets, memorials and buildings.

His statue, which stands on Colston Avenue in the city centre, makes no mention of his notorious past. But this could be about to change.

The city council is proposing to put a plaque on the statue which will recognise and acknowledge the people Colston and others in the city enslaved.

It’s a move that has been a long time coming, says Ros Martin, one of the driving forces behind the Countering Colston campaign group.

“The plaque is good but we need it to be part of an ongoing examination of historical narrative and a change of attitudes and culture.

“What we want goes beyond tokenism – we want institutions and organisations in the city to examine their history and acknowledge their individual roles in the slave trade and beyond.”

Image copyright Dave Betts
Image caption The statue of the slave trader and philanthropist was erected in 1895

The drive to reconsider Bristol’s attitude to Colston has long-been gathering momentum.

For years Massive Attack refused to play at hometown venue Colston Hall, which last year agreed to drop the slave trader’s name.

Not before time, says Miles Chambers, the city’s poet laureate.

“Some people don’t get that black people still feel the full impact of slavery today.

“We can look at the descendants of the slaves and economically they are still worse off; psychologically they are still worse off; mentally they still feel collectively as inferior; more African-Caribbean males are disproportionately in prison and in the judicial system; they do worse at schools; economically are paid less and are working less.

“The pattern continues and even though many people say slavery is over, because of those legacies we still feel enslaved.

“A name change or statue move is not going to rectify racism or eradicate the slave mentality that still exists, but it will help to say to black people: ‘You are equal to us, you are British, you are valuable and you mean as much to us as any other citizen’.”

Image copyright Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives
Image caption Captains were instructed to buy as many slaves as the ship could “conveniently carry”

In 1680 Colston became a member of the Royal African Company which at the time had a monopoly on the slave trade. By 1689 he had risen to become its deputy governor.

Slaves bought in West Africa were branded with the company initials RAC, then herded on to ships and plunged into a nightmarish voyage.

Closely shackled together, hundreds of enslaved people lay in their own filth; disease, suicide and murder claimed between 10 and 20 per cent of them during the six to eight week voyage to the Americas.

Human suffering on this scale made Colston rich and a grateful Bristol honoured his benevolence; naming dozens of buildings, institutions, charities, schools, sports clubs, pubs, societies and roads after him.

His charity is commemorated and celebrated during processions and church services. School children have paid homage to him at services. His statue stands in the city centre, inscribed as a “memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of the city”.

For hundreds of years, he has been unquestionably venerated.

“Colston may have helped more people than he abused but the people he abused and their descendants say this is unacceptable and although they are a minority, something needs to be done about it,” says Mr Chambers.

“We are still seeing the effects of slavery in this city, there is still money from slavery in this city and so we can’t ignore it.”

Image copyright Dave Betts
Image caption Ros Martin says tourists wonder why so many buildings and roads are named after Colston

There have been questions about Colston and his profile in Bristol since the 1920s but they remained largely ignored until 1999 when Prof Madge Dresser, at the University of West England, spoke about Colston and his involvement in the slave trade.

The next morning, “Slave Trader” was scrawled across his statue.

The graffiti was scrubbed off and the city went back to turning a blind eye until two years ago, when Countering Colston ignited the debate once again.

It has staged protests outside many events linked to Colston and called for the city to remember, among other things, the “full, true history of transatlantic slavery, colonialism and exploitation”.

“When you come to Bristol you go around the streets and, for anyone outside coming in, they must think ‘Who is this man?’ and ‘Why are so many buildings, roads and schools named after him?’,” says Ms Martin.

“I think it’s very disingenuous, very disrespecting of the memory of African ancestors who contributed to the wealth of the city through enslaved labour. They suffered and there is not enough recognition in any way.

“[Countering Colston] would like to see permanent public art works as a memorial to the victims of the city’s human trafficking into enslavement.

“I would like all those institutions that played a role in this business of transatlantic inhumanity to provide public exhibitions of their involvement and a monument to those who suffered in their institution.”

Image copyright Dave Betts
Image caption As head girl, Jane Ghosh was responsible for laying a wreath on Colston’s tomb on Commemoration Day

Countering Colston’s work is beginning to make its mark.

After Colston Hall announced it was severing any connection with the slave trader, others swiftly followed.

For the first time in centuries, a controversial church service in his name was dropped last year; the custodians of St Stephen’s citing a “growing concern” about a man who made his money from buying and selling people.

However, for some the campaign is simply going too far.

“We all knew what he’d done but it wasn’t spoken about,” says Jane Ghosh, a former head girl of Colston Girls school. Founded in 1891 with an endowment left in his will, the school has steadfastly refused to drop his name.

During her school days, Ms Ghosh took part in many Charter Day ceremonies to commemorate the school’s founder. As head girl, she joined the procession through the city to St Stephen’s church where she placed a wreath on his tomb, while Colston buns – created by and named after the merchant – were handed out during the service.

“I’m not an apologist [for slavery] but I am a realist,” she continues.

“So many families, so many buildings in Bristol are connected to the slave trade and one of the reasons I get a bit cross is because I think, ‘Why are we picking on Colston?’

“So many people were a mixture of good and bad – as we all are – and he seems to be singled out and I don’t know why.”

Image copyright Dave Betts
Image caption Francis Greenacre standing outside Colston Almshouses – built in 1796 with Colston’s money to provide homes for the poor

Between 1698 and 1807 an average of 20 slaving voyages set sail from Bristol each day, with many of the earliest voyages funded by ordinary people who provided cash or goods to be bartered for captured slaves.

That Colston’s name has not disappeared with time is testament to his membership of an influential and selective group of Bristol businessmen.

The Society of Merchant Venturers helped set up and run many of the institutions and charities that still bear his name.

Former museum curator and society member Francis Greenacre says the achievements of a man who did so much for charity have now been overshadowed by the debate about his name.

“His status was extraordinary… the extent of his charity was vast in Bristol and enormous in London, as it was throughout the country.”

Colston was one of many merchants who used profits from the slave trade to build luxurious mansions in Bristol.

His wealth also founded schools and almshouses for the poor and he entrusted the society to carry on his work.

Today, the Merchant Venturers run nine schools in Bristol, are involved in social enterprise, charities looking after the elderly, scholarships and trusts.

However, the society is also behind many of the most controversial ceremonies, including a Silent Toast to Colston during its annual dinner.

Image copyright Dave Betts
Image caption Standing outside Colston Tower, Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley says she is “uncomfortable” that a slave trader’s name is “celebrated”

Campaigners accuse the society of continuing to “celebrate a slave trader”. Mr Greenacre says the society is commemorating Colston’s charity work, rather than his slaving past.

“That word [celebrate] comes from Countering Colston – it is in no sense what is being done,” he says.

“We are not celebrating the slave trade; that is a perception which is in effect deeply offensive.”

However, he acknowledges that times have changed and society must change as well, referring to the council’s decision to acknowledge Colston’s past.

“Someone walking past his statue, which makes no reference to the slave trade; if they are a descendant of enslaved Africans they may feel genuinely offended; indeed some feel not just hurt but real anguish and that ought to be addressed.”

Image copyright Dave Betts
Image caption Colston’s statue is a “memorial [to] one of the most virtuous and wise sons of the city”

For some, the amendment to Colston’s statue is not enough.

“I would really like it if the statue was put in the museum,” says Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley, a presenter for community station Ujima Radio, which focuses on Bristol’s African-Caribbean population.

“People can still see that this is man who did a lot for Bristol, but we should put [a statue] in the city centre of a black Bristolian who has changed Bristol and done something good for Bristol.”

Others think saving Colston’s legacy is not even as simple as moving a statue or changing the name of buildings, roads and schools.

When he heard the concert venue would be dropping the name, history graduate Max Barton set up a petition against the move which attracted 5,000 signatures.

He said it was “time to educate and not eliminate” people about the slave trader and his history.

Image caption Max Barton says some people in Bristol see Colston as a figurehead of the city

“White, working-class Bristolians have grown up with Colston as a kind of father of Bristol,” he says.

“They see him as a figurehead, they see him as this person who was a great charitable philanthropist – wiping out that history would alienate this group.

“Countering Colston has a list of places associated with Colston on their website – a hit list as far as I’m concerned… they want to eliminate him from history and that will alienate people.”

Bristol is not alone in trying to come to terms with its past. From Oxford to Charlottesville, from Sydney to Cape Town, cities are facing the same question – how do you remember history without celebrating brutality?

Historian Dr Edson Burton is reluctant to see Colston’s name disappear but believes Bristol is similar to many cities in being “built on a romanticised myth”.

He says now we are in a position to question “the great figures that we have venerated in the past”, we should not be surprised to “find that they are not up to the mark for our modern standards”.

Image copyright Dave Betts
Image caption Dr Edson Burton standing outside Bristol Cathedral, which has a huge stained glass window dedicated to Colston

“I see that there are a number of institutions willing to look their history in the eye and acknowledge that there is a question about the legacy and foundation on which they were built.

“I think that is a monumental step – my concern is that it not sufficient enough.”

He is one of many in the city searching for a solution.

At the vanguard of change, in more ways than one, is Colston Primary School, which announced last year it would be changing its name.

Image copyright Dave Betts
Image caption Kate Swainson Price said the decision to change the school’s name is not about eradicating history

Chair of governors Kate Swainson Price said the decision was not about pandering to political correctness.

“For me, the decision to change our school name is about a recontextualisation of history rather than eradication, obliteration or whitewashing.

“It’s making history, not erasing history. Facts don’t change but attitudes and values do, as do societies.”

The school is now at the centre of plans to design the new plaque on Colston’s statue, which will recognise and acknowledge the people he and others in the city enslaved.

The children will be joining Countering Colston members, Prof Dresser and the city council to help put Colston’s legacy into context.

Ms Swainson Price said it was “amazing and appropriate” for the children to “to help review and redress the balance about how we remember and acknowledge Bristol’s historical figures” and “importantly, the slaves themselves”.

Image caption The current plaque makes no mention of the thousands of people he enslaved

The man in charge of the project, the council’s historic environment officer Pete Insole, said the people who were exploited by Colston are “invisible” in Bristol.

He is helping to co-ordinate events during the summer about the city’s links to the slave trade, which will culminate in the unveiling of the plaque.

“Slave traders are the most commemorated people in the city; we can’t change the past but we can change the present and the future,” he added.

But for Ms Martin this is only the beginning: “We have created debate… It’s not just Bristol, it’s a global narrative, it’s about colonisation and decolonisation.

“Across Europe and across America the debate is very alive. We are questioning people and we are challenging society.

“You are only here for a short time on Earth and I like to think we are bequeathing something better than we have inherited.”

Image copyright Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives
Image caption In 1750 Bristol ships transported 8,000 of the 20,000 slaves sent to the Americas

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Jaw-Dropping Fossils Discovered In Bears Ears Where Trump Just Gutted Protections

A cache of what is believed to be one of the world’s richest collections of Triassic-era fossils has been discovered on national land in Utah where Donald Trump recently eliminated protections to open up the wilderness area to mining.

Researchers, led by paleontologist Rob Gay of the Colorado Canyons Association, unearthed intact remains of phytosaurs — ancient crocodile-like animals — in federal land in what was formerly part of the Bears Ears National Monument.

The discovery, announced Thursday, was revealed at the Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists annual conference in St. George, Utah, where researchers also sounded the alarm about the protections gutted by the Trump administration.

Trump reduced the 1.35 million-acre national monument by 85 percent in December. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, also in Utah, was cut by some 800,000 acres. This month, the president opened up the land to new drilling and mining claims.

Based on a small initial excavation, the 69-yard site may be the “densest area of Triassic-period fossils in the nation, maybe the world,” Gay said in a statement. “It is extremely rare to find intact fossil skulls of specimens from this period.”

Courtesy Wilderness society
Paleontologist Rob Gay checks out a fossil site at Bears Ears.

Three intact long-snouted phytosaur skulls were found. The phytosaur, a late-Triassic reptile that resembled crocodiles in appearance, developed after the first mass extinction that killed 95 percent of the species on Earth. The creatures existed from 251 million to 199 million years ago.

Despite the excitement about the find, there is still an “incredible amount of work yet to be done,” conference coordinator and paleontologist Tracy Thomson, said. “We hope that paleontological sites like this one will get the protection they need before more of our prehistoric past is forever lost to looting or irreplaceably damaged by mining in the region.” 

Scott Miller of the Wilderness Society said in a statement that protecting such resources was the “very purpose of the Bears Ears National Monument. That president Trump acted to revoke protections for these lands is outrageous, and that he did so despite the Department of the Interior knowing of this amazing discovery is even more shocking. I hope the courts will act quickly to restore protections for Bears Ears before any more fossils are looted from the area and lost to science.”

Lifted protections for the Utah land are being challenged in court by five Native American tribes as well as environmental and scientific organizations.

The fossil bed of the specimens is part of the Chinle Formation. It runs through the center of the monument that former President Barack Obama designated in 2016. But that sedimentary rock also contains uranium appealing to mining companies.

In December 2017, The Washington Post uncovered a campaign by Energy Fuels Resources, a U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian firm, that urged the Trump administration to dramatically reduce Bears Ears.

Looting of fossil sites could also become a renewed issue. A portion of skull from the Bears Ears site had been removed by an unlicensed collector, who eventually turned in his find to an office of the Bureau of Land Management, before the national monument was created.

“Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” Trump said when announcing the elimination of protections for the area at Utah’s state Capitol. “And guess what. They’re wrong. Together we will usher in a bright new future of wonder and wealth.”

Gay wrote in a blog post after Trump’s announcement: “We all knew something like this was coming. We hoped for an asteroid or an outbreak of common sense, but neither happened.” 

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The punk rock internet how DIY rebels are working to replace the tech giants

Around the world, a handful of visionaries are plotting an alternative online future. Is it really possible to remake the internet in a way thats egalitarian, decentralised and free of snooping?

The punk rock internet how DIY rebels are working to replace the tech giants

The punk rock internet how DIY rebels are working to replace the tech giants

Around the world, a handful of visionaries are plotting an alternative online future. Is it really possible to remake the internet in a way thats egalitarian, decentralised and free of snooping?

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Elon Musk is adding two safety features to Teslas after driver’s crash

A quick bit of customer service, if Elon Musk pulls through.
Image: alwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Tesla isn’t like other car makers, and you can say the same about its CEO, Elon Musk. 

Namely because Musk seems rather proactive when it comes to customer suggestions, responding to a owner’s Model 3 crash experience on Twitter. 

Musk said he’d look to add a software feature allowing a Tesla’s glovebox to open automatically in the case of a crash, and affix a plastic sheet to the car’s central touch screen display. 

The promise comes in response to an unnamed driver who spoke on the r/teslamotors subreddit of his experience crashing a Model 3 at 60 mph (96 km/h) into a stopped car, a collision which would’ve killed him had he been in a less safe car.

“Everyone from the paramedics to the tow truck driver said that people don’t usually walk away from this. Had this been a regular ICE vehicle, I would be dead or in a lot worse condition,” he wrote.

While the Model 3 was successful at protecting the driver and his passenger, he did note that the screen’s glass shattered and cut the passenger, while the glovebox wasn’t accessible as the controls are on the touchscreen — the driver needed to access his title and insurance from here.

If Musk actually lives up to his word about the new safety features, it’s certainly an impressive bit of customer service.

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Sylabs launches Singularity Pro, a container platform for high-performance computing

Sylabs, the commercial company behind the open source Singularity container engine, announced its first commercial product today, Singularity Pro.

Sylabs was launched in 2015 to create a container platform specifically designed for scientific and high performance computing use cases, two areas that founder and CEO Gregory Kurtzer, says were left behind in the containerization movement over the last several years. (For an explanation of containers, see this article.)

Docker emerged as the container of engine of choice for developers, but Kurtzer says the container solutions developed early on focused on microservices. He says there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it left out some types of computing that relied on processing jobs instead of services, specifically high performance computing.

Kurtzer, who didn’t exactly just fall off the open source turnip truck, had more than 20 years of experience as a high performance computing architect working at the US Department of Energy Lab, where he founded CentOS, an open source enterprise Linux project and Warewulf, which he says has become the most utilized stateless HPC cluster provisioner.

He decided to shift his attention to containers when founded Sylabs and launched the first open source version of Singularity in April, 2016. Even then, he had a vision of creating a commercial version of the product. He saw Singularity as a Docker for HPC environments, and would run his company in a similar fashion to Docker, leading with the open source project, then building a commercial business on top of it — just as Docker had done.

Kurtzer now wants to bring Singularity to the enterprise with a focus not just on the HPC commercial market, but other high performance computing workloads such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and advanced analytics.

“These applications carry data-intensive workloads that demand HPC-like resources, and as more companies leverage data to support their businesses, the need to properly containerize and support those workflows has grown substantially,” Kurtzer wrote in a blog post announcing the enterprise product.

Even though Singularity is designed to handle different kinds of workloads, it still works with container orchestration tools, specifically Kubernetes and Mesos, and it is also compatible with Microsoft’s Azure Batch tool and other cloud tools.

Kurtzer indicated Sylabs currently has 12 employees, and is operating on an undisclosed amount of seed money. It was funded by RStor, a startup itself currently operating in stealth mode.

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