The ‘Apple of China’ just showed us what the iPhone 8 could look like

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xiaomi mi mixXiaomi/YouTube

Chinese tech company Xiaomi just revealed the Mi Mix smartphone on Tuesday, which could hint at what the next iPhone will look like.

The Mi Mix, which will go on sale in China starting next month, has incredibly thin borders around its large 6.4-inch screen, making it look almost as if the front surface is made almost entirely out of display.

Indeed, the Mi Mix’s design closely matches rumors about Apple’s next iPhone, which is also said to have no borders or bezels, making for an “all-display” front surface.

Check out the Xiaomi Mi Mix and how it could show us what the next iPhone will look like:

Apple’s next iPhone is said to have no borders or bezels, like the concept below. It makes for a striking design.

But Xiaomi has beaten Apple to the punch with the Mi Mix, which seemingly has no borders or bezels.

The sides have the thinnest borders we’ve seen on any smartphone, and the bottom of the phone is the only place you’ll find a noticeable border.

Xiaomi figured out how to work around the problems with having an all-screen front surface, like hiding sensors, cameras, and the ear piece.

It removed them entirely.

For the earpiece, Xiaomi uses a vibrating arm inside the phone that resonates through the Mix’s ceramic body.

 

And instead of using infrared sensors to detect proximity and the brightness of your surroundings, Xiaomi uses ultrasonic. Still, it’s unclear from Xiaomi’s marketing materials how ultrasonic sensors could be used to detect brightness.

And what about the front-facing camera? They put it on the bottom of the phone, which is the only place you’ll find a border.

There’s no telling if Apple will use similar technology or methods for its next iPhone, or even if it’ll even have a borderless front surface. We’ll have to wait until next September to find out.

And we have bad news if you love the Mi Mix, as it probably won’t be coming to the US.

Xiaomi has never officially sold any smartphones in the US — one reason is because the phones aren’t built with the US’ 4G LTE networks in mind, as Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra said during Mobile World Congress last year. Xiaomi would have to redesign some of its internal components to support the US market.

But there’s more to it than that. Xiaomi is still a small Chinese company — it’s not even the top phone maker in China anymore. So, without conquering its home market, selling phones in the US would be an uphill battle, especially since Xiaomi doesn’t have any relationships with any of the US carriers, and would have a tough time selling its cheap smartphones in a market that’s largely been saturated by Apple and Samsung devices. Xiaomi will likely keep its focus in China and the general Asia region, including India. There’s a chance Xiaomi could attempt to sell phones in the US at some point in the future, but right now, the company will only sell accessories and smaller-scale electronics, like TV set-top devices, here in the states.

Still, it would be great to see the Mi Mix in the US at some point.

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How to Get Rich Tricking People Into Buying Overpriced Weight Loss Shakes

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Are you ready to make a ton of money and sell a ton of shakes? It won’t be an easy path, but people trying to succeed in this business are everywhere these days. If you haven’t gotten an invite to a health challenge or seen friends posing with shakes on social media…well, congrats! You’ve got a field of unsuspecting marks to harvest.

This post is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Sometimes evil is justified, and other times, knowing evil means knowing how to beat it. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page.

Herbalife, Shakeology, and Advocare are among the brands that promise you can quit your day job or even earn millions as a shake pusher. We’re not saying that these companies are evil, just that if you did want to set up a lucrative and borderline illegal pyramid scheme to get rich at others’ expense, you could learn a few lessons from them.

You’ll have to be careful, of course. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says it’s okay to recruit sellers to help get your product to the customers who use it. So far, so good. But you can make far more money if you think of your sellers as your real customers, and require them to pay fees or buy tons of product. Then your business goal is really just to pull people into the system, shakes be damned. If you’re doing that, you may find yourself in the same boat as Herbalife, who recently had to settle with the FTC to the tune of $200 million and promise to make changes in their business. Ready to navigate those tricky waters? Grab your blender and let’s begin.

Make the Shakes Really Expensive

If you want a lot of money flowing up to you through the pyramid, you’re not going to get it with grocery store-style 50 cent/serving shake powder. Take your cue from Shakeology and price each scoop at a whopping $4.33, or go higher, if you like.

How do you get away with this? Not by comparing your powder to that 50-cent garbage. No, yours is a shake bursting with real foods—superfoods, even!—and vitamins and minerals and fiber and all the buzzwords you can pack in.

“To match the nutrition in one serving of Shakeology…” this video argues, you would need to eat over $40 of fresh fruits and vegetables, including radishes and raw onions. See, doesn’t a delicious shake sound better than that? Just hope your customers don’t get too nosey asking what you mean by “nutrition.” The shake powder only has 130 calories per serving, so it clearly can’t contain everything in that pile of groceries. Really, you’re just selling protein powder with just enough ground-up fancy foods to provide a few vitamins.

Never mind that people can find shake powders with the same ingredients for a lot less at a store like GNC. Or that they could take an ordinary protein powder, skip the useless superfoods, and make a shake to their liking for pennies on the dollar. Instead, hone your sales pitch so people will feel good about themselves for buying your shakes.

Pretend It’s Not a Gimmick

The best way to sell a shake is to make it be whatever the customer wants to be. If they want to lose weight, it’s a tool to do just that. If they’re suspicious of quick fixes for weight loss, well then your shake is just a convenient way to get healthy food on the go. Are they too busy to make breakfast every morning? Who isn’t, right? Your shake product is a perfect solution!

Most people like the idea of losing weight, so that’s a good place to start. If you’ve lost weight drinking these shakes, or can point to somebody who has, you’re golden.

But wait a minute, you might be saying, Does that mean my shakes have to be some kind of effective weight loss tool? Not at all! Be like Herbalife and encourage your sellers to call themselves “coaches” and invite people to join them on weight loss challenges, no shakes required.

These challenges can be informal groups of friends or coworkers posting workout selfies and encouraging each other, or you can open them up to the public and impose a scammy fee structure. Your choice. Make sure to encourage the participants to exercise and to eat healthy, and while you’re at it, casually mention your company’s products whenever you can. If they find the shakes a handy way to abide by your nutrition advice, then so be it.

Almost anybody can lose a few pounds in a short term challenge, so just point to their success as evidence that the shakes must have worked. Before you know it, those overpriced shakes will be flying off the shelves—and your customers will be asking if there’s any way they can get a discount!

Turn Customers Into Sellers

Here’s where we get to the heart of a pyramid scheme. If you set it up very carefully, it can even qualify as a legal “multi-level marketing” business.

The idea is this. You don’t just want to sell product; if that was your goal, you would have made a 50 cent shake and listed it on Amazon, or a $2 shake that you could sell at GNC. You want to recruit sellers. People who have incentives to purchase lots more product—whether they sell it, drink it, or throw it in the trash, we don’t care. So you get them on board by offering discounts, commissions, or both. No matter what they do, you need to make sure they’re sending plenty of business your way.

Take a look at how Advocare does it: people can become “preferred customers” who get a 20 percent discount, but only if they buy a $20 “starter pack” that turns into a $20 annual fee. You can get a still deeper discount—by buying more product.

As long as people get their product at a discount, they might as well sell it to others and pocket the difference, right? Advocare has a special level for these folks, called distributors, and they have to start by buying a $79 kit and paying a $50 fee every year thereafter. If they can sell enough product, including a minimum of $500 out of their own pocket, they can qualify for another level of discounts, commissions, and bonuses.

If this sounds complicated, great. You’re catching on. You don’t really want the average customer to fully understand how the system works. Just tell them you’ll explain it more as they work their way up.

Don’t Tell the Sellers How Little Money They’ll Be Making

It’s not the sellers that will get rich here: it’s you, and a handful of people who got in on the ground floor. You guys are the top of the pyramid. Everybody below you makes next to nothing.

For example, Advocare discloses that 90 percent of their sellers make $250 per year or less, with 72 percent making absolutely nothing. Herbalife says the average seller makes $245 per year, and that’s an optimistic estimate. Beachbody, makers of Shakeology, have obfuscated their disclosure enough that it’s hard to tell how many people are at the very lowest income levels.

The shake companies all have testimonials from people at the top of the pyramid, either talking about their millions of dollars or sometimes (to seem more approachable) about how they simply have a fun and easy job that supports their family. Here’s one testimonial Herbalife is currently running, featuring a woman named Nancy who has a “nutrition club” where she serves shakes:

Unfortunately, most nutrition clubs don’t turn a profit. And they aren’t exactly selling shakes. Instead, they charge a “membership fee” that covers the cost of a shake, herbal tea, and aloe water. Club owners are not permitted to put up a sign saying whether the club is open or closed, and the club’s interior may not be visible to passers-by. The clubs mostly exist to recruit sellers, who may be required to pay for hundreds of shakes to complete their “training.”

The exact way you bilk people out of their money is up to you. If you do it too blatantly, you may end up in trouble, as we saw with Herbalife’s settlement. For some reason, the FTC wants businesses to make their money from sales to customers, rather than from sucking people into into a scam. Are you going to let that stop you? Come on, it’s evil week. Bilk away.

Illustration by Sam Woolley.

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Intense 360° video takes you for a quick jaunt to Mars

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Intense 360° video takes you for a quick jaunt to Mars

Mashable Debuts
exclusively premieres music, videos, artwork, trailers and more. You saw it here first!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to set foot on the red planet? Of course you have. 

Today’s your lucky day: A new 360° video brings viewers along for some high-flying Martian action, giving a bumpy glimpse of what it would look like if one were to land on Mars.

In the video, an astronaut aboard the ship explains the landing as it’s happening, and you get some simulated views of the planet’s mountains and valleys on the way down to the surface. 

If NASA and SpaceX founder Elon Musk have their way, people could be landing on Mars in a matter of decades: Musk has plans to get people to Mars with SpaceX technology, and NASA’s long-term goal has been centered around getting astronauts down to the Martian surface in order to investigate the planet’s geology firsthand. 

For now, however, scientists have a number of unmanned missions on the red planet, gathering data about Mars’ atmosphere, dirt and rocks, and beaming the findings back to Earth. NASA’s Curiosity rover has even taken panorama images of its view from inside Mars’ Gale Crater, its home since landing in 2012. 

The virtual reality-style clip is part of National Geographic’s Experience Mars installation currently showing in New York City. The futuristic installation aims to give visitors a taste of interplanetary living with a treadmill that mimics Martian gravity, or one can use a VR simulator to watch the 360° video. Experience Mars, which is free to the public, will be open October 26 through October 29 and is part of a promotion for National Geographic Channel’s scripted “Mars” series, set to premiere on November 15 at 9 p.m. ET. 

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Las innovaciones de los anuncios de búsqueda viven un momento de auge

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Las expectativas de los consumidores en cuanto a inmediatez y relevancia son más exigentes que nunca, y las marcas exitosas son aquellas que se conectan con los usuarios en esos momentos críticos: los momentos en que los usuarios desean información, desean ir a algún lugar o desean hacer una compra. Gracias a que comprendemos perfectamente la intención y el contexto, creamos productos tales como las listas de remarketing para anuncios de búsqueda (LRAB) y la Segmentación por clientes a fin de ayudarlo a estar presente y ser relevante en esos momentos. La semana pasada, en la conferencia de SMX East en la ciudad de Nueva York, compartí estadísticas nuevas sobre estas innovaciones de los anuncios.
Una versión mejorada de las LRAB
Las LRAB facilitan la tarea de conectarse con los clientes que ya conocen su empresa, porque le permiten ajustar sus anuncios de búsqueda, ofertas y palabras clave según la actividad que esos clientes tuvieron antes en su sitio web. A partir de hoy, introduciremos mejoras a las LRAB para ofrecerle más flexibilidad y ayudarlo a generar un mejor rendimiento:
  • Llegue a sus clientes en todos los dispositivos. Si alguien visita su sitio web en una laptop o tablet, usted ahora puede llegar a esa persona con anuncios más relevantes cuando realiza búsquedas en el teléfono.
  • Conserve a los visitantes del sitio en su lista durante 540 días. Gracias a esta duración más extensa de la membresía, las empresas con estacionalidad o que venden productos que se deben considerar con mayor detenimiento pueden llegar más fácilmente a sus clientes.
  • Agregue sus listas de remarketing a nivel de la campaña más adelante en el año, con lo que le resultará más rápido y sencillo utilizar las LRAB. Este cambio también se aplicará a la Segmentación por clientes.
Desde el lanzamiento inicial de las LRAB, anunciantes tales como Intel, TransUnion y David Jones han obtenido resultados impresionantes.
La Segmentación por clientes genera resultados, en particular cuando se utiliza junto con las LRAB
La Segmentación por clientes lo ayuda a llegar a los clientes de mayor valor en la Búsqueda de Google, YouTube y Gmail. Descubrimos que los anunciantes que utilizan la Segmentación por clientes junto con las LRAB presentan un rendimiento sólido.
En la conferencia de SMX East, compartí estas estadísticas que obtuvimos de muchos anunciantes que están experimentando excelentes resultados. Wine Enthusiast, un minorista que ofrece todo lo relacionado con vinos, combinó las LRAB con la Segmentación por clientes y logró un aumento del 300% en su ROI en comparación con las campañas en la red de búsqueda que utilizan solo la orientación por palabras clave.

Datos demográficos de los anuncios en búsquedas
Los Datos demográficos de los anuncios en búsquedas (DFSA) ya se comenzaron a implementar para todos los anunciantes del mundo. Los DFSA le permiten ajustar las ofertas según la edad y el género, incluso excluir determinados segmentos, para ayudarlo a llegar a grupos específicos de clientes, así como informar el impacto que tienen en sus campañas. Más información
Supongamos que tiene una tienda minorista de ropa y que la mayoría de sus clientes son de la generación del milenio; los DFSA lo pueden ayudar a llegar a este público de manera más eficaz. Por ejemplo, podría aumentar sus ofertas para los usuarios de entre 18 y 34 años a fin de generar más ventas provenientes de este valioso grupo de consumidores.
Si integra estadísticas como estas con su estrategia de búsqueda, puede estar ahí presente para sus clientes con la experiencia publicitaria más relevante posible. A continuación, le presentamos algunos anunciantes que han tenido éxito:


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"Definitivamente, los DFSA eran un producto que queríamos implementar en nuestras campañas principales. Desde que aplicamos las ofertas según la edad, observamos ganancias significativas en la eficacia y el compromiso: los usuarios que realizan búsquedas, identificados por los DFSA como mayores de 45 años, mostraron un aumento del 65% en la CTR y una reducción del 15% en el CPA". — Rene Rios, director de Desarrollo de Membresías en AARP



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“Con los DFSA, podemos destinar nuestra inversión de marketing a los públicos más importantes para nosotros. Gracias a los modificadores de la oferta que utilizamos para las mujeres de entre 25 y 44 años, observamos una reducción del 25% en el CPA de nuestras campañas en comparación con la búsqueda normal”. — Ya-Yung Cheng, directora general de Marketing Digital y CRM en Sylvan Learning


Jerry Dischler, vicepresidente de Administración de Productos de AdWords

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Twitter must be saved

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As Twitter’s problems continue to multiply, I’m faced with the discomforting possibility that the entire enterprise might implode like a gargantuan chewing gum bubble.

It started off satisfying and tasty — to carry the metaphor forward a bit — with enough elasticity to encompass a wide array of content and purpose. It was the announcer and the news sharer. The pot-stirrer and the reconciler. It was our inner thoughts on the outside. Over time, though, Twitter has lost its fruity and slightly tangy taste. The substance is still there. It can be meaty, tough, flexible and interesting, but it has also turned stale. The engine that imbued Twitter with its substance, that made it so satisfying — growth — has stalled.

The engine that imbued Twitter with its substance, that made it so satisfying — growth — has stalled.

Don’t get me wrong. To maintain roughly 310-to-320 million daily active users means that Twitter is constantly adding new ones to replace those who leave. (Maybe. Another school of thought says that no one ever actually deletes their accounts — they just stop using them — so that roughly 300 million number is a true sign of stagnation).

The lack of growth can be felt in small, yet tangible ways. 

I look at my own Twitter account as a microcosm of the whole. I used to add dozens, even hundreds of new followers every month. Now, leaving aside Apple events where my live-tweeting can add 300 new followers in a day, my growth closely matches Twitter’s. It never goes down, but the march is slow and incremental, at best.

More worrisome is the quality of new Twitter followers. Almost every single day I gain a handful of spam, porn-filled accounts. These zombie accounts are run by, I think, porn purveyors, looking to build a network of connections that can help drive more views to their titillating content. They often look like hijacked accounts: Early tweets show a rational person retweeting and tweeting out Pablum content and then, quite suddenly, the content changes. It’s depressing.

It’s also cause for concern because it means that the Twitter underbelly of fake, hijacked and spam accounts is still growing and starting to muscle out fresh, new blood.

Not a happy place

Obviously, Twitter’s problems go beyond growth. CEO Jack Dorsey and company have failed to turn Twitter into a truly safe place for its users. The Twitter pack can still turn on its own and devour them alive (chew them up and spit them out so to speak — I’m falling in love with this gum metaphor).

Twitter, though, often even fails in one of its core strengths: News dissemination. It’s is a system that is almost set-up to be gamed.

To be fair, I’m not sure how Twitter can solve this problem. An open playground that prizes free speech will always struggle to shut down the horrible voices. What they say is mean and has no merit, but people have a right to say what they want to say and, especially when they’re anonymous, will do so with wanton abandon.

Twitter, though, often even fails in one of its core strengths: News dissemination. It’s is a system that is almost set-up to be gamed. How often do you look at trends and see something near the top that is either ridiculous or simply wrong and wonder how it got there? For all the technology behind Twitter, it’s often Gorgon-like, with the all the millions of tiny heads sprouting from it ruling the consciousness of the core body.

Money maker and hidden potential

One area where Twitter is succeeding — contrary to popular belief — is in making money. Last quarter it reported more than half a billion dollars in advertising revenue, and 18% increase year-over year. But as a public company, shareholders only look to the future and a future without growth means that revenue growth probably can’t be accelerated or ever maintained in the long term (Twitter should never have gone public). And as those other problems I discussed above grow, the quality of Twitter’s existing audience will be called into question, which will probably further dampen revenue growth and opportunities.

Even back in Twitter’s early days, the heyday of its impact growth and excitement, people would often ask me, “Can Twitter last?” Usually, I told them that, yes, I believed that Twitter would survive, but I always added the caveat that even if it doesn’t, something would come along to take its place. This form of sharing and communication has woven itself deep into the fabric of our culture and lives.

When talking about Twitter’s fortunes, I think we often underestimate its still formidable impact

When talking about Twitter’s fortunes, I think we often underestimate its still formidable impact. It is the metric most in news, media, content creation and culture use to measure success. Facebook certainly shares some of that, but I still think Twitter maintains the corner of the real-time response market. 

I worry that those buyers who looked over Twitter and walked away are somehow missing this core fact. They’re fixated on the numbers — growth, revenue projections — and not on the intangibles.

If seen as a platform with a solid base of invested users (say 200 million are real and worthwhile) and something that retains enough flexibility to grow and intersect with an untold number of third-party technologies and content platforms, there’s little downside in the investment. 

A buyer or a bitter end

Twitter can, I think, grow and thrive in the right hands.

If Twitter disappears, the gap in the social media universe will be black hole-sized.

As for whose hands. I still think Google with its powerful knowledge graph and impressive AI is the best partner. And while everyone has seemingly walked away, I contend this is just a negotiating ploy. They want, as Twitter is apparently about to do, less fat on the bone and more favorable terms (lower share price and market cap). 

When Twitter is done cutting and the deal looks good enough, someone will swoop in and buy Twitter – and likely before the end of this year. 

I could be wrong. The gum that is Twitter could be truly used up. There is no such thing as “too big to fail” on the internet. 

If that happens though, the gap in the social media universe will be black hole-sized. It will create a gravitational field that will pull in and down personalities, media companies and small voices like mine that found a way to make an impact 140 characters at a time.

It’s not a question of if Twitter can be saved. It’s time to acknowledge that it must be.

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Start music on iOS, finish it on Ableton Live., with new Blocs Wave

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For many of us, finishing something is still a task best left to a laptop. The precision and familiarity of a desktop interface, the favorite suite of plug-ins, a big monitor in the studio, and tools like Ableton Live all add up to something that mobile just can’t beat.

But that’s finishing. Starting and sketching are tasks that are ideal for mobile – for those moments when inspiration strikes.

Everyone knows this, but the workflow between platforms is often limited to bouncing out audio stems and the like. It’s primitive enough that you might simply not try at all.

So that’s why Blocs Wave’s new Ableton Live export is fairly exciting stuff. And it’s dead-simple – watch:

Some detail went into how this would work, keeping in mind that Blocs Wave is a really different animal. While it’s also loop based, it’s built from the ground-up for mobile, not just a Live clone running on your iPad. So, the developer says the “enhanced integration” they’ve built “names your pads, converts them to clips, sets the tempo, clip size, and arranges the sounds neatly onto the powerful Ableton Live Session grid.”

In other words, Blocs Wave just became an Ableton clip generator.

Project Export isn’t limited to Live. If you use it without the Live project option, you still get a folder full of audio clips from your creation, ready to use in other apps on desktop or mobile.

Sharing works with other apps, too, including support for iOS' standard sharing interface.

Sharing works with other apps, too, including support for iOS’ standard sharing interface.

Export in the new Blocs Wave version 9 - just tap the option for Ableton and go.

Export in the new Blocs Wave version 9 – just tap the option for Ableton and go.

Novation’s not alone, either. They’re joining another favorite brand of Ableton users, KORG, who offered Live export in their apps and hardware. That includes:

  • electribe, electribe sampler (the current generation electribe2 series)
  • iKaossilator for iPhone/iPad
  • KORG Gadget for iPad

And while KORG was a test for this sort of interoperability, now there’s an SDK for everyone:

Ableton Live export comes to an SDK, plus Triqtraq, Patterning

I’m very interested to see how these kinds of partnerships evolve. I think the producer-centric, rather than studio-centric, paradigm in music technology is encouraging more collaboration. It’s clearer than ever that music product makers benefit when they work together, rather than cut off their products from one another.

There’s more to be done – I’d love to see this sort of seamless mobile workflow extend across all Novaiton’s apps, for instance. We’ll be watching.

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Will This Manually-Powered Elevator Replace Stairs One Day?

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A team of designers from the Rombaut Frieling Lab in Eindhoven, Netherlands, have created what they believe is the perfect hybrid between stairs and elevators: an unusual contraption called the Vertical Walking that lets people move between floors with minimal manual effort.

Elevators only work as long as there’s electricity to power them, requiring space-wasting stairs to be installed in buildings as an emergency backup. They also contribute to the obesity epidemic. Deep down we all know we should be taking the stairs, but not when you live or work on the 80th floor of a skyscraper.

The awkwardly-named Vertical Walking contraption works like an elevator in that it operates in a vertical motion, but that’s where the similarities end. Instead of just pushing a button and then standing around until it reaches your floor, the Vertical Walking requires riders to manually propel themselves from floor to floor using their arms and legs.

It looks exhausting, however, using a series of cleverly engineered springs, elastic ropes, and a pulley system, the Vertical Walking requires less than ten percent of the energy one would exert while climbing a flight of stairs to move the same distance. The prototype can even accommodate passengers with varying physical capabilities or limitations, although unlike an elevator, it won’t be able to lift those dependent on wheelchairs.

As a result, while the Vertical Walking could theoretically replace stairs in smaller buildings, it’s doubtful employees working on the highest floors of a towering skyscraper are going to want to haul themselves up to work every morning, and back down at the end of the day. So elevators aren’t going anywhere, and if the option to just stand around and ride to your floor is there, who is going to opt for this?

[Rombaut Frieling Lab via New Atlas]

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The 50 best movies of all time, according to critics on Metacritic

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pulp fictionUma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction.”“Pulp Fiction”

Many of the notable lists that rank the greatest movies of all time — like the American Film Insitute’s “100 Years… 100 Movies” from 1998 — have enlisted thousands of movie-industry names to come up with a consensus of the best films. 

When film critics are the only factor taken into account for such a list, however, it’s a given that the results may not reflect what’s most popular.

We turned to review aggregator Metacritic for its list of the all-time greatest movies, which ranks films by their composite critical reception. The list excludes re-releases and films with less than seven total reviews on the site, so a number of classics like “The Godfather” and “Citizen Kane” are absent for lack of data, and the data skew toward contemporary movies. But it’s an odd, fascinating assortment all the same.

Check out the 50 best movies of all time, according to the critics on Metacritic:

50. “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 8.7/10

Plot summary (from IMDB): Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.

49. “35 Shots of Rum” (2009)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 6.1/10

Plot summary: The relationship between a father and daughter is complicated by the arrival of a handsome young man.

48. “Raging Bull” (1980)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 6.4/10

Plot summary: An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.

47. “The Class” (2008)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 7.3/10

Plot summary: Teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau plays a version of himself as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighborhood.

46. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (2007)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 8.3/10

Plot summary: The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn’t paralyzed.

45. “Yi Yi” (2000)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 8.4/10

Plot summary: Each member of a middle class Taipei family seeks to reconcile past and present relationships within their daily lives.

44. “One More Time With Feeling” (2016)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 8.5/10

Plot summary: Explores the creative process of Nick Cave and his band as the singer struggles an unspoken personal tragedy.

43. “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013)

Critic score: 92/100

User score: 7.7/10

Plot summary: A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

42. “Crumb” (1995)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 8.3/10

Plot summary: An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family.

41. “Days of Heaven” (1978)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 8.8/10

Plot summary: A hot-tempered farm laborer convinces the woman he loves to marry their rich but dying boss so that they can have a claim to his fortune.

40. “Sita Sings the Blues” (2009)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 8.8/10

Plot summary: An animated version of the epic Indian tale of Ramayana set to the 1920s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw.

39. “Sherpa” (2015)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 8.8/10

Plot summary: A fight on Everest? It seemed incredible. But in 2013 news channels around the world reported an ugly brawl at 6400 m (21,000 ft) as European climbers fled a mob of angry Sherpas.

38. “Jackie” (2016)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: TBD

Plot summary: Following the assassination of her husband, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.

37. “Schindler’s List” (1993)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 8.6/10

Plot summary: In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.

36. “Spotlight” (2015)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 8.6/10

Plot summary: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

35. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 7.9/10

Plot summary: Two warriors in pursuit of a stolen sword and a notorious fugitive are led to an impetuous, physically skilled, adolescent nobleman’s daughter, who is at a crossroads in her life.

34. “Reversal of Fortune” (1990)

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 7.8/10

Plot summary: Wealthy Sunny von Bülow lies brain-dead, husband Claus guilty of attempted murder; but he says he’s innocent and hires Alan Dershowitz for his appeal.

33. “The Servant” (1964)

Rialto Pictures/Studiocanal

Critic score: 93/100

User score: 8.1/10

Plot summary: Takes a sharp look at British class relations via a dramatic turning of the tables between a dainty Oxbridge twit bachelor and his contemptuous manservant.

32. “Amour” (2012)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 8.0/10

Plot summary: Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple’s bond of love is severely tested.

31. “Maborosi” (1994)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: TBD

Plot summary: A young woman’s husband apparently commits suicide without warning or reason, leaving behind his wife and infant.

30. “Carlos” (2010)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 7.8/10

Plot summary: The story of Venezuelan revolutionary Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, who founded a worldwide terrorist organization and raided the 1975 OPEC meeting.

29. “Inside Out” (2015)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 8.7/10

Plot summary: After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

28. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 8.7/10

Plot summary: Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron’s army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.

27. “We Were Here” (2011)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 7.1/10

Plot summary: A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years of this unimaginable crisis.

26. “Sideways” (2004)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 6.7/10

Plot summary: Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California’s wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.

25. “WALL-E” (2008)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 8.9/10

Plot summary: In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

24. “Toni Erdman” (2016)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: TBD

Plot summary: A father tries to reconnect with his adult daughter.

23. “The Hurt Locker” (2009)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 7.3/10

Plot summary: During the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work.

22. “Mr. Turner” (2014)

Simon Mein/Sony Pictures Classics

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 6.9/10

Plot summary: An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner’s life.

21. “Killer of Sheep” (1978)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 6.9/10

Plot summary: Stan works in drudgery at a slaughterhouse. His personal life is drab. Dissatisfaction and ennui keep him unresponsive to the needs of his adoring wife, and he must struggle against influences which would dishonor and endanger him and his family.

20. “Pulp Fiction” (1994)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 9.0/10

Plot summary: The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

19. “Spirited Away” (2001)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 9.0/10

Plot summary: During her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.

18. “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 8.4/10

Plot summary: A former prisoner of war is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy.

17. “45 Years” (2015)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 7.5/10

Plot summary: A married couple preparing to celebrate their wedding anniversary receives shattering news that promises to forever change the course of their lives.

16. “Before Midnight” (2013)

Critic score: 94/100

User score: 8.3/10

Plot summary: We meet Jesse and Celine nine years on in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on that train bound for Vienna.

15. “A Separation” (2011)

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 8.8/10

Plot summary: A married couple are faced with a difficult decision – to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimer’s disease.

14. “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012)

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 6.8/10

Plot summary: A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.

13. “The Social Network” (2010)

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 8.2/10

Plot summary: Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.

12. “Carol” (2015)

Critic score: 95/100

User score: 7.9/10

Plot summary: An aspiring photographer develops an intimate relationship with an older woman in 1950s New York.

11. “Gravity” (2013)

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 7.8/10

Plot summary: A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.

10. “Ratatouille” (2007)

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.6/10

Plot summary: A rat who can cook makes an unusual alliance with a young kitchen worker at a famous restaurant.

9. “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964)

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.3/10

Plot summary: An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.

8. “Ran” (1985)

Critic score: 96/100

User score: 8.3/10

Plot summary: In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other…and him.

7. “12 Years a Slave” (2013)

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 8.0/10

Plot summary: In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

6. “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” (2008)

Critic score: 97/100

User score: 7.9/10

Plot summary: A woman assists her friend in arranging an illegal abortion in 1980s Romania.

5. “Hoop Dreams” (1994)

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.2/10

Plot summary: A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.

4. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)

Critic score: 98/100

User score: 8.6/10

Plot summary: In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

3. “Moonlight” (2016)

Critic score: 99/100

User score: 7.5/10

Plot summary: A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, “Moonlight” chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

2. “Three Colors: Red” (1994)

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 7.9/10

Plot summary: Final entry in a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society concerns a model who discovers her neighbour is keen on invading people’s privacy.

1. “Boyhood” (2014)

Critic score: 100/100

User score: 7.7/10

Plot summary: The life of Mason, from early childhood to his arrival at college.

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Software Error Implicated in Crash of Mars Lander

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Illustration showing the moment the Schiaparelli lander was to jettison its back shell and parachute and ignite its descent engines. A preliminary analysis suggests this stage happened prematurely, likely the result of a software error. (Image: ESA/ATG Medialab)

Researchers with the ExoMars mission are pointing to a potential computing glitch as the cause of last week’s crash of the Schiaparelli lander. The challenge now will be to isolate and correct the error in hopes of preventing a repeat in 2020, when mission planners aim to land a much larger rover on the Red Planet.

Late last week, NASA released a grim photograph showing what appears to be the crash site of the doomed Schiaparelli lander and its discarded parachute. The lander, if there was ever any doubt, is completely toast, a splotch of burnt and twisted metal on the Martian surface. So instead of proudly carting out a new rover, ExoMars planners with the ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos are now having to figure out what the hell went wrong.

Unlike the doomed Beagle 2 mission that was lost in 2003, Schiaparelli transmitted its status data to its mother ship—the Trace Gas Orbiter—during its descent. As reported in Nature News, an early look at the data points to a series of cascading software errors as the reason for the botched landing.

By all accounts the descent started well, with the lander decelerating rapidly as it brushed up against the Martian atmosphere, eventually deploying its parachute as planned. But things began to go squirrely just prior to the five-minute mark of the planned six-minute descent.

For reasons that are still a mystery, the lander ejected both its heat shield and parachute way ahead of schedule. Schiaparelli then engaged its thrusters for a painfully brief three-second burst—a procedure that was supposed to last for 30 seconds once the lander was just a few feet off the ground. The lander’s onboard computer, it would appear, seems to have thought it was close to the surface. Indeed, Schiaparelli even took the time to switch on some of its instruments, including tools to record the planet’s weather and electrical field.

The sad reality is that Schiaparelli was still somewhere between 1.25 to 2.5 miles above the surface when this happened, falling at a rate of about 185 mph (300 km/h). It struck the ground with tremendous force, resulting in an explosion—and a brand new surface feature.

ESA’s head of solar and planetary missions, Andrea Accomazzo, suspects a flaw in Schiaparelli’s software, or a problem in integrating the data coming from different sensors. Some kind of glitch misinformed the lander about its position in time and space, causing it to execute landing procedures as if it were at a much lower altitude.

If confirmed, this would actually be good news, as software issues are much easier to correct than hardware problems. Researchers on the ExoMars team are confident in the integrity of Schiaparelli’s hardware, and they’re now hoping to replicate the software error using a simulation.

If and when the glitch is detected, a fix will have to be designed, implemented, and tested. ExoMars planners don’t have much time, as the second and most prominent part of the mission is scheduled for 2020. This first phase was meant as a kind of test-run in preparation for the landing of the larger Russian ExoMars rover. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself in four years time.

[Nature News]

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