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08 Jun 2017
by Admin
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So THAT’S What Those ‘Ding’ Sounds During Flights Are All About

If you fly, you’re likely familiar with the ding sound made when the “fasten seat belt” sign turns off, signaling you’re free to move about the cabin. But discerning ears may have noticed the ding, or chime, occurs at other times during the flight, too: Sometimes it’s a single chime long before the seat belt sign turns off, and sometimes it’s a two-toned rhythm, with a high-pitched chime followed by a low one. Other times, the sound is more like a “boing.” 

Of course, these noises aren’t random. Turns out they’re all part of a carrier’s secret code for its cabin crew. Take Qantas Airways, for example. 

“On our Airbus aircraft you’ll hear the ‘boing’ sound shortly after take-off ― this sound lets crew know that the landing gear is being retracted. The second boing is usually when the seat belt sign is switched off,” the airline explained in a blog post last year. 

Qantas uses a single chime to alert crew when a passenger is asking for assistance at their seat. A high-low chime combination is the sound of the crew calling each other on their in-flight phone system. Three low chimes in a row signals an urgent warning from the captain, like heavy turbulence ahead. 

However, that’s just Qantas. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for these sounds because each airline customizes its sound system differently, Airbus spokeswoman Kara Evanko told HuffPost. 

United Airlines, for example, sounds a single chime when a passenger calls for assistance and when the fasten seat belt sign turns on. A ding-dong sound means pilots and flight attendants are calling each other on the inflight call system, spokesman Jonathan Guerin told HuffPost.

On other airlines, a chime might indicate the plane has reached 10,000 feet and it’s safe to use electronic devices, commercial pilot Patrick Smith told HuffPost. It could also mean the plane is landing soon and crew should start cleaning up the cabin. Other sounds usually come from the intercom system that cabin crew share with the cockpit.

“Think of it as a language between the pilots and flight attendants,” Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Cindy Hermosillo told HuffPost. On Southwest planes, a single chime means the seat belt sign has been turned off. The airline also uses high chimes, low chimes and a high-low chime combination for communication in the cabin, but declined to specify what each sound means, citing security. 

Likewise, an American Airlines spokesman said he couldn’t share information about the airline’s “internal mechanisms for communication between our flight attendants and pilots.”

While the true meaning of these sounds may remain secret on some carriers, it’s always helpful to learn about life in the sky if you’re a nervous flier. Next time you hear a chime on a flight, you can rest assured it’s typical crew talk.

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07 Jun 2017
by Admin
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The U.S. Is Already Falling Behind On Future Energy Technology, Generals Warn

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The United States has already fallen behind its rivals in developing new, clean energy technology, posing a major risk to long-term security, a group of retired military officers warned on Tuesday.

Energy demand is expected to soar by at least 30 percent over the next three decades as China’s middle class grows and countries across Africa and South Asia emerge from poverty. And, thanks to aggressive investments in nuclear, hydro and renewable energy, China and the European Union are far better-positioned to dominate those new markets, according to a new 66-page report from the CNA Military Advisory Board.

“American resolve at this point has not been sufficient to put us into the lead,” Lee Gunn, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral, told HuffPost by phone. “We fear the instability around the world in everything from trade to political influence that will result from the reduction in American views, values and economic and political power.”

Losing control over emerging energy industries could damage national security, said retired Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer of the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Leader of the free world post-World War II is something we very comfortably fell into,” Zilmer told HuffPost by phone on Tuesday. “If you agree that energy drives an economy and the economy drives the ability of a nation to have a strong diplomatic arm and a strong military arm and a strong national security posture, with this change in energy, sourcing and distribution, we run the risk of becoming junior partners in the relationship.”

In January, China set aside $360 billion to spend on green energy by 2020. In May, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged in a sweeping foreign policy speech to spend $900 billion on infrastructure and clean energy abroad. The European Union is investing aggressively in zero-emissions energy, particularly offshore wind turbines, and has established a consortium in Africa to develop renewables in countries there. Russia, whose geopolitical power is largely tethered to its oil and gas reserves, has ramped up its plans to build up nuclear power stations in energy-thirsty India.

We think this really transcends Paris.
Leo Goff, lead author on the report

“We are behind even Russia in deploying advanced energy to India,” Leo Goff, the research lead and chief author of the study, told HuffPost.

The research team and 15 former military officials began putting together the report last year, well before President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. But the researchers said the report is making projections for the next 30 years, and warned against reading too much into its near-term political implications.

“What’s happening in China right now with their development of alternative energy and, more importantly, their move to put alternative energy in Africa and India, that has little to do with Paris,” Goff said. “That has to do with China cleaning up its own air, and we believe their moves in Africa and India and other parts of the globe are about influence and securing future energy needs.”

“We think this really transcends Paris,” he added. “It’s for the long haul.”

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06 Jun 2017
by Admin
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Your iPhone Could Stop You From Texting And Driving Soon

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Apple unveiled a new iPhone feature this week that aims to cut down on the number of distracted drivers.

The “Do Not Disturb While Driving” setting will automatically silence incoming texts and notifications while an iPhone is connected to a car via Bluetooth or cable, the tech giant announced Monday.

DNDWD, which will be available in fall 2017 with the release of Apple’s mobile operating system iOS 11, will allow users to send autotomatic replies to contacts attempting to reach them while they are behind the wheel.

The auto-reply messages will consist of two responses, according to New York Magazine. The first will read: “I’m driving with Do Not Disturb turned on. I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going,” followed by: “If this is urgent, reply ‘urgent’ to send a notification through with your original message.”

Drivers can still use Apple Maps, the company’s navigation app, though they will be unable to input destinations while driving, reported CNN. Car passengers not behind the wheel can opt of DNDWD mode by selecting “I’m not driving.”

At least eight people are killed and 1,161 others injured in crashes related to distracted driving every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016, the number of traffic deaths increased 6 percent from the year before, with transportation safety experts pointing to distracted driving as a major factor.

Many took to Twitter to praise Apple for its latest safety feature.

But Joel Feldman, founder of the advocacy group End Distracted Driving, said Apple “missed an opportunity to be a leader in saving lives” by failing to take action earlier.

“While Apple could be applauded for taking this first step we should not lose sight of the fact that drivers using the iPhone are involved in thousands of crashes,” Feldman told HuffPost. “And, despite the DNDWD feature, crashes involving iPhones will continue.”

He added that he hopes other smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and Nokia “will do even more to protect us.”

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05 Jun 2017
by Admin
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Supreme Court To Review Whether Cops Need A Warrant To Obtain Your Phone’s Location

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review a case examining whether the Constitution requires law enforcement to get a warrant before obtaining cellphone location data for particular users.

The case, Carpenter v. United States, is the most significant legal dispute at the intersection between technology and the Fourth Amendment since the high court unanimously ruled in 2014 that the law forbids authorities from conducting warrantless searches of the contents of smartphones and similar devices. The Fourth Amendment protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The extent to which prosecutors and other law enforcement officials can request cell-phone location data has long vexed lower courts — in part because the data is “third-party” information that’s in possession of telecommunication companies, not the targeted users themselves.

Relying on a 1979 case known as Smith v. Maryland, courts across the country have ruled that law enforcement officials don’t need a court-approved warrant to access this information. The courts reason that individuals lose a “legitimate expectation of privacy” when they voluntarily hand information about the numbers they dial to telecoms.

For example, in the case of Timothy Carpenter ― the petitioner at the center of this Supreme Court case ― federal prosecutors investigating a series of robberies sought and obtained 127 days’ worth of cell-site information about him and his movements.

With this information, “the government could identify the area in which Carpenter’s phone was located and could thereby deduce Carpenter’s location and movements at multiple points each day,” said lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union in a petition urging the Supreme Court to hear the case.

According to the ACLU, Carpenter’s call record painted “a very detailed accounting of everywhere he went.”

“The time has come for the Supreme Court to make clear that the longstanding protections of the Fourth Amendment apply with undiminished force to these kinds of sensitive digital records,” Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said in a statement.

The federal government has resisted efforts to get the Fourth Amendment to apply to these location records. Instead, government lawyers point to a broad provision of federal law that gives them grounds to obtain them if they can show the records “are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

Based on that provision, law enforcement officials obtain tens of thousands of such records from the likes of AT&T and Verizon every year.

In a 2012 ruling on the constitutional limitations of GPS surveillance, Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned about the potential pitfalls of not curbing the authority of law enforcement to get access to a person’s every move based on “information voluntarily disclosed to third parties.”

“This approach is ill suited to the digital age,” Sotomayor wrote, “in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.”

Now that the Supreme Court has added the case to its next term, which begins in October, Sotomayor and her colleagues are poised to offer clarity in this contested area of law.

This article has been updated with more background and arguments on the case.

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© 2017