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Do you have a Microsoft video gaming console Xbox at home? It is possible that third-party contractors working for the tech giant are listening to your living room talks.
After revealing that contractors listened to sensitive and personal conversations of users via Skype and virtual assistant Cortana — which Microsoft has admitted — Motherboard now claims the third-party vendors working for the company also “listened to the audio of Xbox users speaking in their homes in order to improve the console’s voice command features”.
The audio — mostly of children as they played video games — was captured by Xbox consoles “by mistake”, the contractors were quoted as saying.
“Xbox commands came up first as a bit of an outlier and then became about half of what we did before becoming most of what we did,” one former contractor was quoted as saying.
The contractors worked on Xbox audio data from 2014 to 2015 before Cortana was implemented into the console in 2016.
“Listening continued as the Xbox moved from using Kinect for voice commands over to Cortana,” the report said on Wednesday.
Microsoft last month announced it plans to remove Cortana from the Xbox but the gaming console can still be controlled through voice commands with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant on external smart speakers.
The company said in a statement: “We’ve long been clear that we collect voice data to improve voice-enabled services and that this data is sometimes reviewed by vendors”.
Last week, Microsoft admitted that third-party contractors were listening to voice conversations on Skype and virtual assistant Cortana.
“We’ve updated our privacy statement and product FAQs to add greater clarity and will continue to examine further opportunities to improve,” the company said.
The updated privacy statement said that human review is used to help build, train and improve the accuracy of its Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems.
Microsoft has joined the likes of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook who are in the dock for letting third-party contractors listen to users’ talks.
Apple, Google and Amazon recently suspended human review of user audio recordings after reports said the companies used third-party contractors to listen to users’ voice recordings.
While Apple suspended the programme that let its virtual assistant ‘Siri’ listen to users’ recordings for “quality control”, Google stopped listening and transcribing Google Assistant recordings in Europe. (IANS)
As millions of students and professionals globally, including India, go back to learning and work from home amid the Covid wave triggered by the Omicron variant, the focus is back on devices that can boost their productivity and creativity at home and help them sail through the period. The all-new iPadOS 15 has brought in some fresh features to help kids navigate the crisis.
Take advantage of Quick Note, a fast and easy way to take notes anywhere outside the app, and you can even add links from apps and websites to provide context. You can simply start one by swiping up from the bottom right corner of the display. In iPadOS 15.2, you can also access Quick Note with a swipe from the lower left or lower right corner of the screen.
If you make a Quick Note on your iPad, it will be on your iPhone and Mac, too. The iPad user can also see what others have added to his or her shared note with Activity View, and notify them with mentions. With Scribble, you can handwrite in any text field and have the writing converted into typed text in real time.
If you make a Quick Note on your iPad, it will be on your iPhone and Mac, too. | Unsplash
If you are writing in a darkened field, Scribble will automatically appear in light text so you can always view your writing clearly. According to Apple, transcription happens on device so all your writing stays private. The Shape recognition feature will allow you to draw geometrically perfect lines, arcs, and shapes, including hearts, stars, and arrows.
With iPadOS 15, multitasking is easier to use and even more powerful. You can work on multiple apps at the same time with Split View. With ‘Center Window' feature, you can work with email, notes, or message in the centre of the screen without leaving your current view. "Touch and hold a note, email or massage and select open in new window in the center of the screen".
With iPadOS 15, multitasking is easier to use and even more powerful. | Unsplash
The iPad users can now utilise Microsoft's updated Office app that is optimised for iPadOS and now houses Word, Excel and Powerpoint in a single application. "Take advantage of the useful tools designed for mobile tasks, like creating PDFs, signing documents, converting images to text and tables and other quick actions".
You can also use the iWork suite of apps, including Pages, Numbers and Keynote. With iPadOS 15, iPad supports global keyboard shortcuts, which allow you to quickly perform many common actions. You can also interact with iPad in new ways with basic gestures like tapping, swiping, scrolling and zooming. More advanced gestures can even enable you to switch between recent apps, access controls and more. The Shortcuts app lets you automate tasks you do often with just a tap or by asking Siri.
Another ‘Translate app' is now available on iPadOS. The system-wide translation lets you translate text that you select, even in many third-party apps. In the app, Auto Translate and face-to-face view improve conversation flow and make it easier to follow along. The ‘Focus' feature in iPadOS 15 can temporarily silence all notifications, or allow only notifications from specific people and apps. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: notes, scribble, ipad os, multi task, powerful, help, children, covid, professionals)
By Maria Wirth
Things are finally changing for the better for Hindu Dharma. For too long, many educated Indians, including the first Prime Minister Jawahar Nehru, had accepted the biased view of the British that Hinduism is inferior to the Abrahamic religions, without realizing, that this was a clever strategy to hide the fact that Christianity and Islam are based on a ‘must-belief’ story and Hinduism in contrast, is based on verifiable insights of the Vedas and a genuine enquiry into the truth.
For the first time in independent India, now a postgraduate course in Hindu Dharma is included at the Benares Hindu University. It reminded me that already almost one year ago, a centre to study the practice and philosophy of Nath Panth was established at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gorakhpur University by Yogi Adityanath, who himself is a Nath Yogi and the Mahant of Gorakhpur Mutt, apart from being the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. A conference was held in March 2021, to which I contributed the following thoughts:
Western theories dominate in Indian universities
Indians generally are highly intelligent. But unfortunately, the education system does not bring out the full potential of students and is very tough on them.
Firstly, due to teaching in English medium, in which the majority of students are not fluent.
Secondly, mainly Western theories are taught. This may have advantages in science departments but not in humanities. Western academics may have good intentions to create an equal and just society, but wisdom is lacking and the outcome is a rather unhappy and divided society, which does not see any meaning in life. Young Indians, who study humanities through a Western lens, are in danger to become self-righteous atheists who look down on their Dharma, without knowing anything about it. They are made to believe that they are ‘modern’ and not ‘superstitious like the masses’. And they can easily be used by forces who want to harm India.
It is incredible that the profound wisdom, which Indians have inherited, was so far not taught to students.
But why Hindu Dharma was not taught?
The British realized that there was valuable knowledge in Indian heritage; otherwise, they would not have shipped thousands of manuscripts to Britain. In fact, ancient Indian texts are all over the world, in Germany, in the Vatican, in Russia, USA, China… Many of those texts were taken to the West by missionaries.
It is incredible that the profound wisdom, which Indians have inherited, was so far not taught to students. |Unsplash
The British did not want to let Indians know that they had far greater scientific knowledge, and also tools for inner empowerment and self-realization. They introduced English education and labeled Sanskrit texts as “religious”, and “primitive”. Incidentally, several education ministers after Independence were Muslims who, too, dismissed the Indian tradition as worthless.
This was unfortunate, because several generations of students went through higher education without getting connected to their roots. However, outside of the English education, these roots were still strong in the society and the trust in a Supreme Being was still deep. Wandering Sadhus and villagers generally know more about the meaning of life and how to be happy and compassionate, than many Oxford, Harvard or JNU professors.
The crucial role of Nath Yogis
The Yogis and Siddhas of Nath Sampradaya played a crucial role in keeping Indians connected to their roots and were a great solace for the masses during the difficult times when Hindus were under oppressive Muslim and British rule. Their intense tapas and the resultant supernatural powers inspired faith and devotion in common people. The incredible miracles which Nath yogis like Mast Nath, performed, gave confidence to people that they were not forsaken, that great saints were among them, that Mahayogi Gorakhnath was again among them. The tradition of Nath Panth is vibrant and alive. Its influence spreads over the whole of India, Nepal, Tibet. I feel a great affinity with Nath/ Kanphata yogis, as I had a guru from the Nath Sampradaya. I met Nath Yogis from Mangalore till Kedarnath. These Yogis contribute much more to the well-being, prosperity and uplifting of Indian society, than western academia.
The wisdom of Nath Panth
The wisdom of Nath Panth, is about the ultimate truth. It is about cosmology, metaphysics, philosophy, psychology, physiology and also about religion, provided religion is defined as the acknowledgement, worship and devotion for the Highest, from whom all emanates.
Mahayogi Goraknath explains in great detail in the Siddha Siddhanti Paddhati, how the universe came into being, or rather APPEARS to have come into being, and what our place in it is. It explains that we are not a small person in a big world, but one with Shiva, who is ultimately unmanifest, but has, due to the stirring of his innate Shakti, manifested as all these separate forms, who have forgotten their true nature, their Shiva nature.
From this follows that the goal of life is to re-discover that we are one with Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahma, with blissful awareness. If we get even a little in touch with this Divine Essence, it improves greatly the quality of our life. And if we could do the intense tapas and full control of senses of dedicated yogis, I can only guess how amazing life would be.
To get in touch with our essence, sadhana and a guru are necessary. It is not only a mental or intellectual exercise. It involves one’s full being – body, prana, mind, intellect and Atma, all the five koshas. It is not about ‘knowing’ something separate from us, but it is about becoming what we always already are.
Our essence is hidden under thoughts. Thoughts are the content of our awareness or consciousness. Pure awareness is always present underneath and we need to give it space to shine through. We need to focus and explore the inner realm. It is worth it. In contrast, the West focuses exclusively outside. Even ‘consciousness’ is something for them ‘outside’.
Forces which try to eliminate Hindu Dharma
Hindus need to be aware that their mere existence is a problem for those who have already destroyed all other ancient civilizations, like Inkas, Mayas, Mesopotamia, Egypt, or Greece. In fact, all these ancient cultures may have been connected in earlier times. The Puranas speak of kings who ruled over the whole earth. Yet today, only the Indian civilization is still standing. It has lost a lot of knowledge and a lot of influence over the last 1000 years, but it is still here and those who have successfully destroyed all other cultures, work hard to destroy the Indian culture, too.
Which are those destructive forces?
Christianity and Islam say it openly that the world needs to get rid of Hinduism. The far Left is supporting them. Many communists in Western and Indian universities work towards the destruction of Hinduism by giving their bias against Hinduism an academic cover. It is an agenda which has many players, and a lot of money is involved. Not only media, but also social media is part of it. The attacks on Hinduism, Hindus and especially Brahmins are unrelenting. Even ISIS gets better media coverage than Hindu groups like RSS.
Why this opposition and even extreme hatred for Hinduism?
The reason may be that India’s wisdom endangers those three ideologies, because it is empowering the individual and makes sense.
Three important points in favour of Hindu Dharma
If people of other religions come to know about the Hindu concept of One Consciousness as the essence of all, they might realize that the concept of a separate and vengeful God in Christianity and Islam is a distortion and cannot be true.
If they hear of karma and rebirth, it probably would make more sense to them, than the claim by Christianity and Islam that we all have only one life, which decides if we go to heaven or hell.
If they hear that the one consciousness permeates also animals and nature, they might stop this massive daily bloodbath of slaughtering our younger brothers, the animals and respect nature.
True and not so true revelations
However, Christianity and Islam don’t allow any debate about their doctrine. They insist that only their religion is the direct, divine revelation, and they declare Hinduism and Hindus as wrong and their gods as devils.
Strangely, Hindus don’t question this claim about their ‘revelation’. They don’t question that the so-called revelation of those two religions includes the claim that unbelievers, like Hindus, will suffer for all eternity in hellfire. Imagine, for all eternity. Can this be true? Can the Almighty be so cruel to his creation?
But when I once wrote on Twitter that the Vedas are the original, divine revelation, several Hindus objected. They felt, we expose ourselves to ridicule by claiming that the Vedas are apaurusheya. They prefer to say that the Vedas have been “composed” and not revealed long, long ago.
But why this diffidence? Have the ancient Rishis ever been proven wrong?
Let us reflect: is it possible for human beings to come to the conclusion that the separate persons and objects in this world are Maya and only APPEAR as real but ultimately are in essence one with pure Consciousness? Or does this knowledge need a revelation from a higher Intelligence?
Modern physics has meanwhile come to the conclusion that all is one energy. Several physicists, like Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Einstein acknowledged that they were inspired by Indian knowledge. Yet even today’s scientists still don’t know how to deal with consciousness, because they tend to see it as an object, which it is not. It is the one and only subject.
Not only scientists, Western philosophers also built their theories on India’s wisdom and came up with the theory of “idealism”, which considers only ideas in the mind as real and not the objects. But their understanding of Consciousness is Kindergarten level, because sadhana is lacking and therefore a deeper understanding through the experience of pure consciousness.
To be scientific does NOT mean that human intelligence must be seen as the ultimate Intelligence in the universe. | Unsplash
Indians have a better understanding because they do not see the origin from where all emanates as an abstract, theoretical concept like the Big Bang, but as a living Presence, as the great Brahman or Shiva. In India there are still yogis who are connected to this wisdom. They can guide how to realize that ‘Yatha Pinde, tatha Brahmande’ (as the microcosm, so the macrocosm) and that indeed ‘Jiva is Shiva’ (Atman is Brahman).
Scientists need to be Yogis.
Now a question: does it disqualify a scientist when he or she is devoted to that Great Intelligence from whom all, including the many Devas emanate? The fact that Hindus worship many divine powers in this universe certainly does NOT disqualify them from being scientific. To be scientific does NOT mean that human intelligence must be seen as the ultimate Intelligence in the universe. Human intelligence is NOT the Ultimate intelligence. Yes, the Ultimate Intelligence is hidden within the human being. Sparks of genius can get through to the human mind. For example, the mathematical insights of Srinivasa Ramanujan were such sparks of genius.
Will ‘modern’ Hindus and mainstream media stand by this insight that devotion for that Supreme Brahman or Shiva is not unscientific but rather helps to have clearer scientific understanding? Or do they believe they need to be irreverent atheists, if they want to be modern?
Albert Einstein once said that the scientist of the future needs to be a man of enhanced awareness. In other words: scientists need to be Yogis. If Hindu society stands by its ancient wisdom which is the foundation of modern science, India will again shine bright in the world.
(Keywords: Hindus, Education, Gorakhpur University, Devas, Science, Scientists, Christianity, Islam, Muslim, Britishers, Vedas, Yogi)
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He was 18 years old when he went missing from his home in the Mahmadpur village in Farrukhabad district. Brajpal returned to his house on Friday after more than ten years and his overjoyed parents could not believe their eyes. But a rival family informed the police as Brajpal's family had filed a kidnapping case against them. The police soon came and took away Brajpal for questioning.
According to the family, the boy went missing in 2012. His parents looked for him for nearly two years, and later approached the local police. It was when the local police allegedly refused to register their FIR, they went to the court and got an FIR registered at the Merapur police station against their neighbours, accusing them of kidnapping their son, following a land dispute.
Brajpal returned to his house on Friday after more than ten years | Unsplash
Anil Pal, the main accused in the kidnapping of the youth, died of illness last month, while his father had also spent one year in jail. Police are interrogating the man, who has not yet revealed anything before the investigators. According to police, Ganga Sahai Baheliya, the father of the missing youth, on the order of the court, had filed a case of kidnapping of his son Brajpal against his neighbour Anil Pal and his father Veere Pal and other aides, Rajkumar, Jaiveer, Shishram and Nanhe Lal, all natives of the village itself.
In his complaint, Baheliya alleged that the said people were having enmity with him over a piece of lease land. "Anil Pal, in connivance with other accused, took his 18-year-old son Brajpal on the pretext of getting a job on March 15, 2012. After that Brajpal could not be traced. When the then circle officer Kayamganj Ashok Kumar Rawat started the investigation, except Anil Pal and his father Veere Pal, the names of other accused were removed from the FIR.
Baheliya alleged that the said people were having enmity with him over a piece of lease land. | Wikimedia Commons
When the main accused Anil was found to be absconding, the police had sent his father, Veere Pal, to jail. After nearly a year in prison, Veere Pal was released on bail," said a police official. Later, the main accused Anil Pal died of illness. The case is pending in the court. Circle officer Kayamganj, Sohrab Alam, who is questioning Brajpal, said that the latter will be presented in the court with all possible details. Further action will be taken by the court. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: missing youth, brajpal, court, rival family, kidnapping, home, lease land, father, return home)