Of course, I knew what the results would be. I’d heard them myself
in the Apple demo; I’d read the other reviews; and I’d done the
dress rehearsal the night before. Every time, the HomePod won the
At the end of my own listening test, then, I handed out signs that
said “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D,” and asked the panelists to hold up
their winners’ signs on the count of three. I knew what they would
say: “B,” “B,” “B,” “B,” and “B” (that was the HomePod’s letter).
That’s not what happened.
Interesting results. I wonder about Pogue’s claim that the curtain he hid the speakers behind didn’t affect the sound, though.
The single biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using. The idea is that apps in the background are locking up unnecessary RAM and consuming unnecessary CPU cycles, thus hurting performance and wasting battery life.
That’s not how iOS works. The iOS system is designed so that none of the above justifications for force quitting are true. Apps in the background are effectively “frozen”, severely limiting what they can do in the background and freeing up the RAM they were using. iOS is really, really good at this. It is so good at this that unfreezing a frozen app takes up way less CPU (and energy) than relaunching an app that had been force quit. Not only does force quitting your apps not help, it actually hurts. Your battery life will be worse and it will take much longer to switch apps if you force quit apps in the background.
It occurs to me that one of the best examples proving that this notion is wrong (at least in terms of performance) are YouTube “speed test” benchmarks. There’s an entire genre of YouTube videos devoted to benchmarking new phones by running them through a series of apps and CPU-intensive tasks repeatedly, going through the loop twice. Once from a cold boot and the second time immediately after the first first loop. Here’s a perfect example, pitting a Samsung Galaxy S8 against an iPhone 7 Plus. Note that no apps are manually force quit on either device. The iPhone easily wins on the first loop, but where the iPhone really shines is on the second loop. The S8 has to relaunch all (or at least almost all) of the apps, because Android has forced them to quit while in the background to reclaim the RAM they were using. On the iPhone, all (or nearly all) of the apps re-animate almost instantly.
In fact, apps frozen in the background on iOS unfreeze so quickly that I think it actually helps perpetuate the myth that you should force quit them: if you’re worried that background apps are draining your battery and you see how quickly they load from the background, it’s a reasonable assumption to believe that they never stopped running. But they do. They really do get frozen, the RAM they were using really does get reclaimed by the system, and they really do unfreeze and come back to life that quickly.
An awful lot of very hard work went into making iOS work like this. It’s a huge technical advantage that iOS holds over Android. And every iPhone user in the world who habitually force quits background apps manually is wasting all of the effort that went into this while simultaneously wasting their own device’s battery life and making everything slower for themselves.
Like with any voodoo, there are die-hard believers. I’m quite
certain that I am going to receive email from people who will
swear up-and-down that emptying this list of used applications
every hour or so keeps their iPhone running better than it would
As Fraser mentions, yes, there are exceptional situations where an
app with background privileges can get stuck, and you need to kill
that app. The argument here is not that you should never have to
kill any app using the multitasking switcher — the argument is
that you don’t need to do it on a regular basis, and you’re not
making anything “better” by clearing the list. Shame on the
“geniuses” who are peddling this advice.
And don’t even get me started on people who completely power down their iPhones while putting them back into their pockets or purses.
The problem with that is, when I'm actually navigating, I may be using other apps (to play music, for example). If I have Waze only use location services when the app is in the foreground, it isn't going to work well. Like tdnox, I force-quit Waze when I'm done with it.
Well, most of us come from a background of operating systems where *we* the users are expected to think about how the *software* should operate and handle memory. That's backwards, and yet we take a long time to be comfortable with the idea that an operating system should be mature and sophisticated enough to handle the "background" logistics. :-)
While it might be correct that you don't need to force quit apps or power down your phone or whatever. The bigger problem here, to me, is the people who feel the need to tell other people that they're using the device wrong. It's my device, I'll use it how I want, no matter what you say.
Quit wasting time writing the you're using your device wrong stories.
There's two sides to this, isn't it. There's one group of people who do things thinking "this helps me with whatever". With this, you can demonstrate that their actions don't achieve their goals, and then they change their actions. The other group of people are different. For example, they might choose to open Safari, type "google" into the search bar, click the first link to "google.com", type into the search bar in google, and *then* see their actual search results. You might show them there's a better way, and they might say, "well this is my phone, and I'll use it how I want, no matter what you say". Well, they're right, and in that case, you just walk away knowing they're idiots. But it doesn't mean you stop showing other people that there is indeed a better way. :-)
I have no problem being told I'm doing something wrong and could be doing it in a way that's better and easier, but I guess you do? That's unfortunate, but don't worry: Nobody will ever force you to be rational. You can use the device however you like. Just don't be surprised when there's people pointing out it's not only unhelpful but actually counter productive. And try not to get angry; they have every right to talk about such things.
Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (Sept. 20, 2016) we chat about competitive balance in the NFL and wonder what’s gone wrong with the Seattle Seahawks. Then, we preview the WNBA playoffs and ask how a new playoff structure may shape Nneka Ogwumike’s attempt to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to their first championship since 2002. Finally, we welcome ESPN’s Mike Goodman to talk about the rivalry between Manchester United manager José Mourinho and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Plus, a significant digit on the age restrictions at the World Cup of Hockey.
But Apple’s move to allow ad blockers has changed all that. In the
days since iOS 9’s release, ad blockers quickly became the best
selling software in the App Store. That means, ironically enough,
that iPhone users want an ad-free mobile experience so badly
they’re willing to pay directly for it.
That’s not irony. There is nothing ironic about people being willing to pay for something of value that removes something of negative value. What he’s trying to say here is that he had assumed that people are unwilling to pay for things and would put up with anything so long as it was free — and so he’s surprised to be proven wrong. But rather than face his wrong assumptions that led to his surprise, he’s chalking it up to iOS users doing something “ironic”.
What would be ironic would be if iOS users were buying ad blockers that were advertised via web banner ads that the blockers themselves block.
I don't block ads because "ads". I block ads because they try to track me and it's none of their business what web sites I visit. And a lot of the ads are getting extremely obnoxious. I don't mind a small, unobtrusive ad that doesn't try to follow my every move around the Internet, but sadly I don't think those exist any more.
But there comes a time at which point rational people have to put adorable hijinks aside and recognize otters for what they are: disease-ridden, murderous, necrophilic aqua-weasels whose treachery knows few bounds. Here's what you need to know about these terrible animals, and why you should fear and hate them.
1. What is an otter?
A river otter at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kan. gets some snow on his face. Photo by Jaime Green/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images
Otters are mammals of the subfamily Lutrinae, one of two subfamilies contained within the family Mustelidae. The other, Mustelinae, includes badgers, weasels, and ferrets, among other similar mammals. Lutrinaecontains seven genuses and twelve different species, spanning every continent save Australia and Antarctica; a thirteenth species, the Japanese river otter, was declaredextinct in 2012, like many otter species before it. Fourdifferentspeciesof otterlive in Central or South America, anotherthreeinSouth and Southeast Asia, twoinsub-Saharan Africa, and onein Europe.
The two species found in North America are river otters and sea otters, the latter of which are also found in Japan and the Pacific coast of Russia. River otters are not currently threatened, and are pervasive in Canada and the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas in the US.
Sea otters, by contrast, nearly went extinct due to aggressive pelt hunting in the early part of the 20th century. While the governments of the US, Canada, Japan, and Russia signed a treaty banning the hunting of sea otters in took the Endangered Species Act — under which sea otters gained protection in 1977 — for a recovery to begin in earnest. "The saving of the sea otter," writes Glenn Vanblaricom of the University of Washington in his book on the animal, "is indeed one of the great success stories in marine conservation."
But the last forty years haven't consisted of unerring progress for the sea otter. The species' recovery has been considerably slower in California relative to other areas. In Alaska's Aleutian Islands, the species has seen a marked decline since the 1980s. Here's what the drop looked like in the Near Islands, the westernmost group in the Aleutian Islands:
Source: US Fish and Wildlife Service recovery plan.
Theories for what's behind the drop range widely, but the US Fish and Wildlife Survey's recovery plan for the species highlights predation, in particular from killer whales, as the most important factor behind the decline.
2. Do otters attack people?
You bet they do! A 2011 study found 39 anecdotal reports of river otter attacks in North America, 35 of which occurred after 1980. Either due to better reporting or to increased otter savagery, the numbers grew over the decades, from 3 in the 1980s to 13 in the 1990s to 17 in the 2000s. A decent share of the attacking otters have been rabid; in the '90s, 46 percent of otter attacks involved rabies, and in the '00s, 24 percent did. The researchers found four prior scientific publications documenting attacks, including one which reported a deadly otter attack in India.
To be fair, the vast majority — 77 percent — of the attacks the researchers analyzed involved North American river otters, and none appear to have involved sea otters.
3. So sea otters treat humans well?
You keep hoping that. I couldn't find any reports of attacks on humans from sea otters, but that may just be a function of sea otters being much rarer than river otters, and spending less time on or near dry land than river otters do. Moreover, sea otters have in at least some cases shown a willingness to attack primates, as in the case of the above sea otters in the Bronx Zoo, who killed a monkey with whom they shared an exhibit. One sea otter off the coast of British Columbia apparently raped and murdered a dog.
4. Well, sea otters are nice to animals besides monkeys and dogs, right?
An otter attacking an alligator. Photo by Geoff Walsh/Facebook, via the Independent.
Nope, they are horrific menaces to other species. And I don't just mean in the way that carnivorous species always are to their prey. Sea otters murder even when it doesn't provide them with food or offspring, like straight-up sociopathic spree killers. In 2010, veterinarian Heather Harris and her coauthors Stori Oates, Michelle Staedler, Tim Tinker, David Jessup, James Harvey, and Melissa Miller published an article in Aquatic Mammals documenting about 19 cases of sea otters attacking baby seals. Here's just one:
A weaned harbor seal pup was resting onshore when an untagged male sea otter approached it, grasped it with its teeth and forepaws, bit it on the nose, and flipped it over. The harbor seal moved toward the water with the sea otter following closely. Once in the water, the sea otter gripped the harbor seal’s head with its forepaws and repeatedly bit it on the nose, causing a deep laceration. The sea otter and pup rolled violently in the water for approximately 15 min, while the pup struggled to free itself from the sea otter’s grasp. Finally, the sea otter positioned itself dorsal to the pup’s smaller body while grasping it by the head and holding it underwater in a position typical of mating sea otters. As the sea otter thrust his pelvis, his penis was extruded and intromission was observed. At 105 min into the encounter, the sea otter released the pup, now dead, and began grooming.
You read that correctly. After raping a baby seal to death, this psycho licked his paws, like Hannibal Lecter or something.
5. Oh…oh no. But if that's what male sea otters are like with baby seals they mistakenly think to be female sea otters, what are they like with real sea otters?
Approximately that brutal. Harris cites another study which finds that about 11 percent of sea otters found dead on the California coast from 1998 to 2001 were killed, at least in part, by trauma associated with mating. Indeed, trauma is the norm from sea otter mating, not the exception. Here's Harris again:
Copulation normally occurs in the water where the male sea otter will approach the female from behind, grip her around the chest with his forepaws, and grasp her nose or the side of her face with his teeth. Copulation normally occurs in the water where the male sea otter will approach the female from behind, grip her around the chest with his forepaws, and grasp her nose or the side of her face with his teeth…Facial biting by the male commonly results in the development of skin and soft tissue lacerations of the female's nose and face that can occasionally be fatal.
The problem is worse for females, of course, but younger males often mimic mating behavior with each other, which can cause similar injuries.
6. This is just horrible. Other species don't do this, do they?
So that aspect of otter sexuality isn't too unusual. What's weirder are (a) otters's tendencies to menace baby seals (b) the fact that male otters kill an awful lot of the female otters with whom they copulate and (c) the necrophilia.
7. Necrophilia? Seriously?
This visual is meant to represent death. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.
Otters, man. From Harris again:
In one prior report on breeding-associated mortality, a tagged territorial male sea otter held a struggling female underwater until her body became limp and then copulated repeatedly with her carcass. Ten months later, this same male was observed with the carcass of another female sea otter. In both cases, the male was swimming, diving, guarding, and copulating with the carcass.
8. Stop, I don't want to hear any more terrible things about otters.
Too bad! Here are two more.
First, male otters sometimes hold pups ransom to force their mothers to give up some of their food. Here's how biologists Heidi Pearson and Randall Davis describe it:
A male approached a pup floating on the surface while its mother was diving for food. The male forced the pup under water as if trying to drown it. When the female surfaced, the male stole her food (a clam), after which the female and pup quickly departed.
The human equivalent of this is probably going to a grocery store parking lot, finding a woman coming out with a small child, and holding a gun to the kid's head until the mom gives you some of her food.
Second, otters can give you H1N1, better known as "swine flu," as our friends at The Verge have reported. Sampling along the coast of Washington State found over 70 percent of otters there tested positive for H1N1.
9. C'mon, there's got to be something otters are good for.
Okay, so they're cute sometimes.
Fine, fine, I'll give them this much: they appear to be helpful in the fight against catastrophic climate change. As explained by the National Wildlife Foundation's Robyn Carmichael, sea otters frequently eat sea urchins, which in turn are known for eating massive amounts of kelp, which is very good at taking in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. More otters -> fewer sea urchins -> more kelp -> less global warming. One study found that kelp beds where sea otters are present soak up 12 times as much carbon dioxide as beds where they're not. The overall effect isn't that large, but every bit helps, and otters deserve some credit for chipping in.
For the record, I'm not actually against attempts to save sea otters as a species. Those efforts are admirable and valuable to the ecosystems of which otters are a part. I just think otters are jerks.