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Hiding Your Battery Percentage Could Make You More Zen

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In the age of the smartphone, with those big flashy screens and attention-grabbing apps, battery life is always at a premium. For most of us, it’s not a matter of if our phones will go dead at some point during the day, but when. Closing apps won’t help, and you may not be ready to give up your battery-draining Facebook habit. So maybe you should try a new tactic: Just relax and stop looking at your battery’s percentage status.

On iPhones, the battery percentage display is a default option, not a mandatory feature, and The Next Web editor Juan Buis suggests you simply disable it, putting yourself on the road to self-phone actualization. “It’s a very simple trick that helps with reducing stress and keeps your focus on more important things,” he writes. (Android users might already be less stressed, since they have to manually enable the percentage status.)

To test that theory, I went into my iPhone’s settings and made the battery percentage status disappear. That tiny number at the top right of my screen went away, allowing me to notice—for seriously the first time since buying an iPhone in 2013—that there’s an icon near the Bluetooth and battery symbols that tells you if your alarm is set. Already, my smartphone life was benefiting from that lack of numeric distraction.

Over the course of a phone-heavy three-day weekend (so many plans to make, adjust, and cancel in favor of Netflix), I found that just getting rid of the clutter caused by that extra numeric figure made me feel more relaxed—even though it was the most minor of digital spring cleanings. And by the end of the weekend, I had stopped looking at my battery status so often; I couldn't decode with any accuracy how much time I had left on my battery until the symbol turned red at 20 percent, so why bother looking?

The one inconvenience (if you can call it that) this change caused was that, without the visible battery percentage, I made a point to charge my phone proactively, plugging it in at least once during the day instead of just at night. And since the whole point of this experiment was to worry less about the battery, this may have been a little counterproductive.

Not knowing is an exercise in letting go. A rapidly depleting battery on my smartphone is rarely a life-or-death issue in my world, and there are always the “low battery” pop-up notifications at 20 percent and 10 percent to alert you to impending shutdown. Yes, it’s harder to tiptoe that line between continuing to text at 7 percent and getting to a charger by the time it falls to 3 percent, as I am wont to do while sitting at home, but at most it'll just delay my text-flirting game by a few minutes while I deal with my dead phone. I am still in the stage where I miss the comfort of knowing that I have 88 percent battery left, but in time, I think that will fade, leaving me feeling more calm about my lock screen.

The lack of percentage display is certainly no substitute for that ultimate phone-battery hack, which is, just stop looking at your phone so often. But it certainly adds a little bit of mystery to life.

[h/t The Next Web]

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Big Questions
What Could the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean for Internet Users?
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What could the repeal of net neutrality mean for the average American internet user?

Zouhair Belkoura:

The imminent repeal of net neutrality could have implications for Americans beyond the Internet’s stratification, increased costs to consumers, and hindered access to content for all. Net neutrality’s repeal is a threat to the Internet’s democracy—the greatest information equalizer of our time.

With net neutrality’s repeal, ISPs could be selective about the content and pricing packages they make available. Portugal is a good example of what a country looks like without net neutrality

What people may not realize is that a repeal of net neutrality would also give ISPs the ability to throttle people’s Internet traffic. Customers won’t likely have visibility into what traffic is being throttled, and it could substantially slow down people’s Internet connections.

What happens when this type of friction is introduced to the system? The Internet—the greatest collective trove of information in the world—could gradually be starved. People who experience slower Internet speeds may get frustrated and stop seeking out their favorite sites. People may also lose the ability to make choices about the content they want to see and the knowledge they seek.

Inflated pricing, less access to knowledge, and slower connections aren’t the only impact a net neutrality repeal might have. People’s personal privacy and corporations’ security may suffer, too. Many people use virtual private networks to protect their privacy. VPNs keep people’s Internet browsing activities invisible to their ISPs and others who may track them. They also help them obscure their location and encrypt online transactions to keep personal data secure. When people have the privacy that VPNs afford, they can access information freely without worrying about being watched, judged, or having their browsing activity bought and sold by third-party advertisers.

Virtual private networks are also a vital tool for businesses that want to keep their company data private and secure. Employees are often required by their employers to connect to a VPN whenever they are offsite and working remotely.

Even the best VPNs can slow down individuals' Internet connections, because they create an encrypted tunnel to protect and secure personal data. If people want to protect their personal privacy or company’s security with a VPN [they] also must contend with ISP throttling; it’s conceivable that net neutrality’s repeal could undermine people’s freedom to protect their online safety. It could also render the protection a VPN offers to individuals and companies obsolete.

Speed has always been a defining characteristic of the Internet’s accessibility and its power. Net neutrality’s repeal promises to subvert this trait. It would compromise both people's and companies’ ability to secure their personal data and keep their browsing and purchasing activities private. When people don’t have privacy, they can’t feel safe. When they don’t feel safe, they can’t live freely. That’s not a world anyone, let alone Americans, want to live in.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Pop Culture
An AI Program Wrote Harry Potter Fan Fiction—and the Results Are Hilarious
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Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

“The castle ground snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.”

So begins the 13th chapter of the latest Harry Potter installment, a text called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. OK, so it’s not a J.K. Rowling original—it was written by artificial intelligence. As The Verge explains, the computer-science whizzes at Botnik Studios created this three-page work of fan fiction after training an algorithm on the text of all seven Harry Potter books.

The short chapter was made with the help of a predictive text algorithm designed to churn out phrases similar in style and content to what you’d find in one of the Harry Potter novels it "read." The story isn’t totally nonsensical, though. Twenty human editors chose which AI-generated suggestions to put into the chapter, wrangling the predictive text into a linear(ish) tale.

While magnified wind doesn’t seem so crazy for the Harry Potter universe, the text immediately takes a turn for the absurd after that first sentence. Ron starts doing a “frenzied tap dance,” and then he eats Hermione’s family. And that’s just on the first page. Harry and his friends spy on Death Eaters and tussle with Voldemort—all very spot-on Rowling plot points—but then Harry dips Hermione in hot sauce, and “several long pumpkins” fall out of Professor McGonagall.

Some parts are far more simplistic than Rowling would write them, but aren’t exactly wrong with regards to the Harry Potter universe. Like: “Magic: it was something Harry Potter thought was very good.” Indeed he does!

It ends with another bit of prose that’s not exactly Rowling’s style, but it’s certainly an accurate analysis of the main current that runs throughout all the Harry Potter books. It reads: “‘I’m Harry Potter,’ Harry began yelling. ‘The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!’”

Harry Potter isn’t the only work of fiction that Jamie Brew—a former head writer for ClickHole and the creator of Botnik’s predictive keyboard—and other Botnik writers have turned their attention to. Botnik has previously created AI-generated scripts for TV shows like The X-Files and Scrubs, among other ridiculous machine-written parodies.

To delve into all the magical fiction that Botnik users have dreamed up, follow the studio on Twitter.

[h/t The Verge]

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