How coffee helps protect the heart

Coffee’s health benefits are nothing new (a topic I cover occasionally at Coffeeopolis.com).  There’s a steady stream of scientific studies that generally support that conclusion…which I guess is not surprising, I mean, considering coffee’s popularity, I imagine there’s no shortage of scientists eager to study the topic more!  But I digress.  A team in Germany has made progress in understanding exactly how coffee helps your heart.  More specifically, it’s the caffeine that in this case is responsible…it triggers the action of a protein called p27, which basically helps cell repair processes in the heart.  However, the data comes from studies done with mice…whether it works the same in humans is less certain.  Read more at this link if you’re curious (or the published paper in the journal PLOS)

Do you want to know the best news?  The optimal caffeine intake to achieve these benefits is about for or five cups of coffee a day!  So, drink up!

Siri gets smarter

Apple unveiled its upcoming iOS 12, the update for iPads and iPhones coming this fall, and what I found most interesting was some long overdue upgrades in Siri’s capabilities. You’ve probably noticed how when you get in your car, a message is often displayed on the lock screen anticipating where you’re going and telling you how long it’ll take to get there. Apple is now adding the ability for Siri to learn how you’re using apps, and to use that information to make suggestions. As Apple put it:

Siri can now intelligently pair your daily routines with third-party apps to suggest convenient shortcuts right when you need them.

You can also set up shortcuts, teaching Siri to perform a number of actions when a simple command is provided. When you’re heading home from work, a single command can adjust your home thermostat, tell you how long it’ll take to drive there, text your significant other that you’re on the way, and start playing your favorite podcast. There are other interesting examples in this article at TechCrunch, check it out if you’re curious.

iOS 12 should be available this fall, and will work on most devices (going all the way back to the iPhone 5S!)

Apple on 100% renewable energy

Apple achieved a milestone recently, powering 100% of its operations via renewable energy! That includes all offices, data centers, and stores…and they’ve accomplished this without having to pay more for electricity, either. Next up, they’re putting pressure on their suppliers to follow suit…and with a customer as large as Apple asking, I doubt much pressure at all will be needed! It’s cool to see tech companies like Apple and Alphabet leading the charge here. Read more here.

Is coffee a cancer risk?

First off – don’t panic. 🙂 Keep drinking your coffee while you read this.

A judge in California has ruled that coffee companies have to display a warning that coffee poses a cancer risk, due to the presence of acrylamide, a chemical produced in the roasting process.  It’s true, too…this is nasty stuff, discovered in 2002.  Lab studies have shown an increased risk of cancer, though the levels used around 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than what people would be exposed to in food.  It’s not just in coffee though…it’s found in potato chips, bread, cereals, french fries, cigarettes, even canned black olives.  California has a law, though (Proposition 65) requiring consumers to be informed if the product they’re buying contains dangerous chemicals…hence this court ruling.  So…sure, acrylamide can cause cancer at high levels…but so can a lot of other things we are exposed to.

On the flip side, coffee has been shown to have positive health benefits too, being linked to a reduced risk of death from heat disease, stroke, diabetes, neurological disease, etc.  So…no need to panic, if you ask me.  Just enjoy everything in moderation. 🙂

Read more about acrylamide at the American Cancer Society if you’re interested.

How to regain a bit of privacy on Facebook

Facebook has been in the news a lot lately, not for what they did directly, but for what they allowed Cambridge Analytica to do…namely, harvest private information of the Facebook friends of people who had opted to take a quiz (and opted to share their info by doing so).  Around fifty million users were affected…and the fine per violation is up to $40,000!  So yeah, it’s kinda a big deal, especially as this data was used for political gain by the Trump campaign, and a good reason why the stock has plummeted (potential trillion dollar fine, not to mention loss of users and trust).

Many people are quitting Facebook as a result, as they’ve realized what a massive amount of data has been compiled on them.  Their likes, travel, interests, their whole life is sometimes documented on Facebook for companies to profit from.  There’s another option though…delete your history.  Facebook is a fun way to keep in touch with friends, but do you really need an archive of what you posted several years ago?

To delete old posts, likes, and other activity, go to the ‘activity log’ of your profile page, then you delete items one by one.  LOL.  I mean yeah, you CAN do it, but if you’re a heavy user, that’s crazy!  Naturally, technology provides us with a better option. 🙂 Install Google Chrome, then install the ‘Social Book Post Manager’ extension.  This will allow you to perform actions on a bulk level…either delete, or hide, based on year/month or even keywords (painful relationship history?  Erase all mention of your ex from your life! 🙂 ).  You can choose how far back to maintain your data…and use FB as a ‘current events’ record instead!

I’ll admit it though…deleting old posts was scary!  The extension does give you a preview of what it’s going to delete, but you’re looking for tiny checkmarks, it’s not a great user interface as the extension has to work with with Facebook provides for this.  Then when you do have a chance to confirm, there was a ‘select all’ option (avoid that and choose ‘confirm’ instead!), and the Facebook UI threw up various confirmation windows that you need to ignore until the extension is done, then hit cancel on those windows that won’t go away.  So, clunky approach…but it DOES give you a tool to regain a bit of privacy on Facebook without abandoning it entirely.

Uber self-driving car kills pedestrian

It was inevitable that eventually, someone’s self-driving car would be in an accident involving a pedestrian…and a 49 year old woman in Tempe, AZ, pushing her bike across the street, was the first victim. While the car was one of Uber’s, it really could have happened to any of the tech companies. Details are still scarce as the investigation continues, but it’s safe to say that the car stored massive amounts of data that will make for a quick conclusion.

Cora – commercial drone taxi service, from Kitty Hawk

Startup Kitty Hawk unveiled their autonomous flying taxi, called Cora.  Designed to be a self-piloted, electric-powered, passenger-carrying drone service, the business model is hardly new, but their approach to the technology is. They’re combining a traditional aircraft with pusher prop and wings, with a multi-rotor (12, to be precise) drone-like configuration for vertical thrust, allowing true vertical takeoffs and landings.  No word on when you’ll be able to get a ride in one, but considering they have a flying prototype and financial backing from Larry Page, it’s a matter of getting the software right, and finding a way to certify this for use in the various countries (they’re starting out in New Zealand for precisely that reason, the country is more business-friendly for technologies like this).

As a quick side note…if you check out their website, note they did something clever with the scrolling..you scroll UP, not down like every other page on the internet.  Nice tie-in with their technology and slogan (“things are looking up”).

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