iOS 11 Will Implement a ‘Cop Button’ to Disable Touch ID

Beta testers evaluating Apple’s upcoming iOS 11 have discovered new emergency SOS functions, as well as what some are calling a “cop button.” Press the power button five times on an iPhone running iOS 11, and the device will do two things. First, it brings up an option to dial emergency contacts if you swipe right. Second, it disables Touch ID until you log in with your passcode again.


This is a significant step for several reasons. First, it’s impossible to see Apple implementing this kind of feature without recalling the knock-down drag-out battle between Apple and the Department of Justice back in early 2016. The FBI’s repeated demands that Apple unlock a smartphone, despite having no reason to believe any data of note was contained on it, was a blatant attempt to establish a precedent that tech companies can be forced to break into their own products when the government would find it convenient.

The case was dismissed before reaching a verdict; the government claimed it found a third-party hacking firm that could deliver the data without requesting it from Apple. General consensus was that the DOJ was banking on a swift affirmative in both court and in the court of public opinion, and was caught off-guard by how much controversy its requests generated.

The other advantage of this kind of capability is that there’s no legal protection for your fingerprint or facial features. When it comes to the Fifth Amendment, the law distinguishes between something you know and something you are. You cannot be forced to incriminate yourself, which means you can’t be required to unlock your phone with its passcode, or to give the government your Apple ID password. Your fingerprints or facial scans–if Apple does what the rumor mill thinks it will, and introduces facial recognition as an unlock technique–are something you are. It is not a violation of your Fifth Amendment rights to take a fingerprint for the purposes of determining if you committed a crime.

Apple currently lets you tap “Emergency” from the lock screen, but this still brings up a dial pad.

There are, to be sure, other reasons why a person might find this capability useful. If you’re in a situation in which you fear for your life, pressing the button five times and swiping right will automatically call 911. That’s an improvement over Apple’s current system, in which hitting the Emergency button will allow you to make an emergency call, but you still have to manually dial it. Even if you aren’t trying to call the cops, there are times when you might want to quickly lock a phone to prevent someone else from seeing what’s on it. Either way, this is plausible deniability at its finest.


At the beginning of his new build’s video, YouTuber Michael Reeves discusses a revelation he had about why some people don’t subscribe to his channel:

The real reason some people don’t subscribe is that when you hit this button, that’s all, that’s it, it’s done. It’s not special, it’s not enjoyable. So how do we make subscribing a fun, enjoyable process? Well, we do it by slowly chipping away at the content creator’s psyche every time someone subscribes.

His fix? The ‘fun’ interactive Subscriber Robot that is the subject of the video.

Be aware that Michael uses a couple of mild swear words in this video, so maybe don’t watch it with a child.


Software developer and student Michael Reeves started his YouTube account a mere four months ago, with the premiere of his robot that shines lasers into your eyes – now he has 110k+ subscribers. At only 19, Michael co-owns and manages a company together with friends, and is set on his career path in software and computing. So when he is not making videos, he works a nine-to-five job “to pay for college and, y’know, live”.


Michael shot to YouTube fame with the aforementioned laser robot built around an Arduino. But by now he has also be released videos for a few Raspberry Pi-based contraptions.

Michael Reeves Raspberry Pi Subscriber Robot

Michael, talking us through the details of one of the worst ideas ever made

His Subscriber Robot uses a series of Python scripts running on a Raspberry Pi to check for new subscribers to Michael’s channel via the YouTube API. When it identifies one, the Pi uses a relay to make the ceiling lights in Michael’s office flash ten times a second while ear-splitting noise is emitted by a 102-decibel-rated buzzer. Needless to say, this buzzer is not recommended for home use, work use, or any use whatsoever! Moreover, the Raspberry Pi also connects to a speaker that announces the name of the new subscriber, so Michael knows who to thank.

Michael Reeves Raspberry Pi Subscriber Robot

Subscriber Robot: EEH! EEH! EEH! MoistPretzels has subscribed.
Michael: Thank you, MoistPretzels…

Given that Michael has gained a whopping 30,000 followers in the ten days since the release of this video, it’s fair to assume he is currently curled up in a ball on the office floor, quietly crying to himself.

If you think Michael only makes videos about ridiculous builds, you’re mistaken. He also uses YouTube to provide educational content, because he believes that “it’s super important for people to teach themselves how to program”. For example, he has just released a new C# beginners tutorialthe third in the series.


If you’d like to help Michael in his mission to fill the world with both tutorials and ridiculous robot builds, make sure to subscribe to his channel. You can also follow him on Twitter and support him on Patreon.

You may also want to check out the Useless Duck Company and Simone Giertz if you’re in the mood for more impractical, yet highly amusing, robot builds.

Good luck with your channel, Michael! We are looking forward to, and slightly dreading, more videos from one of our favourite new YouTubers.

DARPA Disruptioneering mini-programs aims to accelerate breakthroughs

DARPA announced the first programs under its new Disruptioneering effort, which pushes forfaster identification and exploration of bold and risky ideas with the goal of accelerating scientific discovery.

Under the new concept, DSO program managers intend to develop small programs of $5 million or less in total funding on an expedited timeline, with an initial target of less than 90 days for progressing from idea inception to contract award and a downstream target of fewer than 75 days.

Fundamental Design (FUN DESIGN) and Imaging Through Almost Anything, Anywhere (ITA3) are the first programs.

FUN DESIGN aims to investigate new fundamental computational and mathematical building blocks for representing novel and optimized designs of mechanical systems.

ITA3 seeks to determine the 3-D resolution/range trade space based on the use of all-pervasive low-frequency, electromagnetic waves, combined with simple computational methods to consider the challenge of imaging through metal containers, walls, ground, fog, water, and other complex media.

“These Disruptioneering ‘mini-programs’ are designed to quickly explore some of the most radical and potentially highest-payoff ideas to see if there’s something there to be pursued further. The goal is to speed up the tempo of innovation and ultimately to reduce risk by making smaller targeted investments that could lead to quantum leaps forward in technology for national defense.”

Disruptioneering programs will follow a standard format: a three- to six-month first phase to initially assess a novel idea, potentially followed by a second phase of 12 to 15 months, if results from the first phase warrant further exploration and investment.

“For this new Disruptioneering effort, the time from program announcement to when research proposals are due has been shortened to as few as 30 days, and the technical section of proposals can’t exceed eight pages,” said Kristen Fuller, DSO’s assistant director for program management. “To make the process as straightforward as possible, we’ve streamlined contracting and internal processes to meet an aggressive schedule. We’ve also developed standardized Disruptioneering templates for cost analysis and other requirements and included them as an appendix in DSO’s Office-Wide BAA.”

DSO programs can often take six months or longer after receipt of proposal for contracts to be signed and for work to begin. “Since DARPA program managers only have three to five years to pursue their potentially game-changing ideas, we want to do everything possible to cut the time from idea inception to when research can start,” Fuller said. “Disruptioneering programs should serve as a great additional framework to enable program managers to make a quick initial investment to investigate novel scientific ideas. If the idea turns out to be promising, it could become the basis for a larger program.”

GE and Tesla to Outfit 50 Home Depot Stores With Solar Panels

Tesla’s Solar Roof Is Cheaper Than Expected

General Electric Co.’s Current unit and Tesla Inc. will install solar systems on 50 Home Depot Inc. stores and sell the power output to the retailer.

The solar rooftops will generate enough electricity to reduce each store’s demand from local utility grids by about one third, Atlanta-based Home Depot said in a statementThursday. It’s part of a company plan to get 135 megawatts of clean energy at its stores by 2020.

Home Depot will buy the output from each of the systems under power purchase agreements in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Washington, D.C. Six locations will also get battery storage from Tesla. Terms weren’t disclosed.

1 in 4 Canadians has left a job due to stress: Survey

Those earning less than $40,000 most likely to quit
One in four working Canadians has left a job due to stress and 17 per cent have considered it, according to a Monster Canada survey of 1,057 employees. pathdoc/Shutterstock

Many working professionals are likely to experience stress at some point in their career, but for some, there is a breaking point.

One in four working Canadians has left a job due to stress and 17 per cent have considered it, according to a Monster Canada survey of 1,057 employees.

Overall, 58 per cent of working Canadians say that they are overworked.

“Working Canadians are under a lot of pressure on the job,” said Monster Canada general manager Angela Payne. “This, coupled with personal commitments and a desire to advance professionally, may be creating a heightened sense of stress at work.”

“For employers, this can lead to a worrying combination of decreased productivity and reduced staff retention.”

Canadians earning less than $40,000 are the most likely to say they’ve left a job due to stress, at 38 per cent, according to the survey.

Twenty-seven per cent of workers in the next earning bracket ($40,000 to $59,000) have also said goodbye to an employer due to overwhelming job stress.

“For those starting out in their careers, saying yes to opportunities can be second nature. But the work can add up fast, which may impact stress levels,” said Payne. “These findings suggest that employers should consider focusing more retention efforts on employees making under $40,000 since they may be prone to excessive job stress.”

Employees in Quebec are the most likely to say they’re overworked, at 64 per cent, followed by Ontarians at 61 per cent.

West Coasters are the least overworked at 41 per cent.

Despite the many working Canadians who report feeling overworked, nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) agree that their employer supports work-life balance.

Australian researchers report breakthrough in treatment of peanut allergy

Australian researchers have reported a major breakthrough in the relief of deadly peanut allergy with the discovery of a long-lasting treatment they say offers hope that a cure will soon be possible.

In clinical trials conducted by scientists at Melbourne’s Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, children with peanut allergies were given a probiotic along with small doses of a peanut protein over an 18-month period.

When the experiment ended in 2013 some 80 per cent of the kids were able to tolerate peanuts.

The research, published Wednesday in medical journal The Lancet, found that four years on, about 70 per cent could still eat peanuts without an adverse reaction.

“The importance of this finding is that these children were able to eat peanuts like children who don’t have peanut allergy and still maintain their tolerant state, protected against reactions to peanut,” lead researcher Mimi Tang said.

“These findings suggest our treatment is effective at inducing long-term tolerance, up to four years after completing treatment, and is safe.

“It also suggests the exciting possibility that tolerance is a realistic target for treating the food allergy.”

Food allergy affects one in 20 children and about two in 100 adults, with seafood, cow’s milk, eggs and peanuts among the most typical triggers.

Peanuts are one of the most common foods to cause anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction.

The researchers said the Murdoch study provides the “strongest evidence yet that a cure may be possible for peanut allergy”.

“This is a major step forward in identifying an effective treatment to address the food allergy problem in Western societies,” Tang said.

Ten-year-old Olivia May suffered a reaction when she tried to eat a peanut butter sandwich seven years ago.

“We visited the allergist the first time [and] he said ‘sorry, you’re going to have to go home and empty your pantry out, clear it of all nuts, anything with nuts in it’,” Oliver’s mother Tanya told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

But after taking part in the trial, Oliva no longer suffers from her allergy.

“I think perhaps one of the best things has been to be able to just go to parties and I can drop her off or at a sleep over,” Tanya May said.

“I used to hand over a EpiPen (epinephrine injector) to a parent I’d hardly knew and give them a thirty-second explanation how to use it.

“[But] to not have to worry about putting that responsibility in someone else’s hands is a great relief.”

Fifty-six children completed the study, with half receiving a placebo and half receiving the treatment, which encourages the immune system to develop a tolerance to the allergy.

Researchers are now aiming to confirm the results with a larger study of the treatment they say “holds important implications for attacking the modern food allergy epidemic”.