Top 9 Free AI Tools That Make Your Life Easier


Photo:- Copy.ai



First one on the list is copy.ai. It is an AI based copy writer tool. Basically  what a copywriter tool does is, it gives you content that you can post on your blog or video  when you give it a few descriptions about the topic you want content on.So copy ai can help you write instagram captions gives you blog idea, product descriptions,  facebook content, startup ideas, viral ideas, a lot of things it can do, you just make an account  in this website, then select a tool and fill in the necessary description and the AI will generate  content on what you ask for.

For tutorials go to their official Youtube  channel .An awesome tool that is going to be really handy in the future.



Hotpot.ai offers a collection of  AI tools for designers, as well as for anyone, it has an “AI picture restorer” which removes  scratches ,and basically restores your old photo into amazing pictures and makes it look brand new. 

 Ai picture colorizer , turns your black and white photo into color. And there is a background  remover tool, picture enlarger and a lot more for designers, check it out,and explore all the tools.



Deep-nostalgia became  very popular on the internet when people started 

making reaction videos of their parents reacting  to animated pictures of their grandparents. So deep – nostalgia is a very cool app, that will  animate any photo of a person.

 So what makes it really cool is that fact that you can upload an  old photo of your family and see them animate and living. Which is pretty cool and creepy at  the same time if they are dead already.. Really amazing service from myheritage, I created a  lot of cool animations with my old photos as well as with the photos of my grandparents.

Having a nice  looking profile picture is really important if you want that professional feel in your socials.  Whether in linkedin or twitter having a 

distinct and catchy profile picture can make  all the difference. So that’s where pfpmaker comes in. it a free online tool to create amazing professional profile pictures that fits you. It generates a lot of profile pictures  and you can also make small changes to already created profile pictures if you want to,as well.



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#ai

Tonga struggles with ash, psychological trauma after eruption and tsunami

A satellite image shows Mango islands
A satellite image shows Mango islands after Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption, in Tonga, January 20, 2022. Satellite Image @2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS
Families have prevented children from playing outside as Tonga struggles to deal with the ash and  psychological effects of last week’s volcanic eruption and tsunami, aid workers and local residents said. Telephone service interrupted. 

The Red Cross said it was providing 173 households on the main island of Tonga not only with tents, food, water and toilets  but also comforts. “Right now everyone is still having issues,” said Drew Havea,  vice president of the Tonga Red Cross. 

Because of the ashes, “families make sure their kids aren’t playing outside, that everyone is inside,” he said. 

Although some residents of the hardest-hit Ha’apai outlying islands  had been evacuated to the main island of Tongatapu, others refused to go, Havea said. The psychological effects of waves breaking through and destroying villages will affect their lives for some time, he said. “All the kids grew up, they were taught in their geography class that this is the ring of fire we  all live in. 

Now I think we’re pretty worried and we’re starting to think, ‘How active are these places?he told Reuters. The eruption of HungaTongaHungaHa’apai volcano, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean and was heard about 2,300 km (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand.

The eruption was so powerful that space satellites captured not only huge clouds of ash but also an atmospheric shockwave that radiated out from the volcano at close to the speed of sound.
“I thought the world was ending,” recalled John Tukuafu, owner of  beach resort Vakaloa, who had to rush to save his wife from the tsunami. 

The resort was in Kanokupolu, one of the worst-hit areas of Tongatapu. and uprooted trees and debris now lie in the area where the complex was located. it has taken a week for many people to recover from the “throbbing and terrifying” sound of the eruption, he said.
 
“It was too loud to hear, but I could feel it. Until the big bang,” She told Reuters by phone on SundayResidents were wishing for tropical rain to wash off the “awful and itchy” volcanic dust, said Fonua. Leaves on trees had turned brown and were falling off.

Fonua said she was in her seafront office talking on the phone to her son in New Zealand when the tsunami struckWhen the line went dead, he feared she had been swept away. 
The anxiety of many Tongan families overseas was prolonged in the days it took for limited international call capacity to be restored.

Cut off from the world, Tongans got on with immediate rescue efforts, Fonua said.
Older Tongans with a tradition of self-reliance remarked that young people had been forced to stop looking at their smart phones and had leapt into action, she said.

With power restored after a week, the Matangi Tonga website posted its first story on Saturday since the eruption and tsunami, describing the “pumice rain”, as volcanic debris fell from the sky, and waves that engulfed cars.

Still, her office cannot send email and Tonga needs more satellite capacity, Fonua said.
The international navy ships and flights arriving had brought much needed supplies and communication equipment, she said.

#international

People with this certain gene version less likely to develop severe COVID-19

omicron


The new results show that people with a specific version of a gene are less likely to develop severe COVID-19. Earlier research had identified a specific group of genes, called the OAS1/2/3 gene cluster, as being involved in the risk for severe COVID-19. 

One version of a gene in that cluster –passed down from Neanderthals, appeared to protect against serious disease, reducing  risk by about 23%. Previous research was mostly done on people of European ancestory. Researchers are now seeing the same association of this genetic variant with less severe COVID-19 in people of African ancestory, according to a report published in Nature Genetics.

 “The fact that people of African descent had the same protection allowed us to identify the only variant in  DNA that actually protects against COVID19 infection. co-author dr. Jennifer Huffman  said in a statement.

 OAS genes are involved in a cascade of effects that help cells fight viruses, the researchers said. Understanding these genes and their impact on COVID19 risks could aid in the development of future drugs, they added.

Fewer Delta breakthroughs with Moderna vs Pfizer/BioNTech

When the delta variant  coronavirus was widespread in the United States, recipients of two doses of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine (MRNA.O) were less likely to have breakthrough infection  and  were slightly less likely to be hospitalized  than recipients of two doses of  mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, found a large study. 

The researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 637,000 vaccine recipients who had not previously been infected with the virus and had not received a booster shot.

 As reported in JAMA on Thursday, advanced infections increased steadily each month from July through November 2021, with higher rates in the Pfizer/BioNTech group. 

In November, there were 2.8 cases per thousand people vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech injections compared to 1.6 cases per thousand recipients of the Moderna vaccines.

#vaccine

Scientists scrutinise characteristics of new Omicron sub-variant

 

Image Credit:CIPhotos via Getty Images


Studies are underway to find out the precise characteristics of the latest Covid-19 variant ‘BA.2’. It already accounts for the majority of most recent cases in a number of countries, including India, Denmark and Sweden. But, for French Health Minister Olivier Véran, this sub-variant’s arrival in France is not “a game changer”.

BA.2, nicknamed “Omicron’s little brother”, made its first appearance in France a few weeks ago. Mentioned for the first time by Véran during a press conference on January 20, this new Covid-19 derivative is being scrutinised by scientists.

  • Where does BA.2 come from?  

BA.2 was first identified in India and South Africa in late December 2021. It is a sub-variant, believed to have emerged from a mutation of Omicron (officially known as BA.1). Omicron itself was born from a mutation of Delta. Other sub-lineages have already been referenced, such as BA.3 or BB.2, but they have attracted less attention from epidemiologists because of the dramatic increase in cases of people who have contracted BA.2.

BA.2 has more than 20 mutations, about half of them in the spike protein. This is the famous protein that interacts with human cells and is the key to the virus entering the body.

  • Is this sub-variant as dangerous as Omicron?  

The World Health Organization (WHO), which had classified Omicron as a “variant of concern”, does not at this stage distinguish between it and its BA.2 sub-lineage. For his part, Véran said that “as far as we know at the moment, it corresponds more or less to the characteristics we know about Omicron”. It is not “a game changer” at this stage, added Véran in an attempt to reassure.

BA.2 is being closely studied by the scientific community, but there is as yet no precise data on its resistance to vaccines or the severity of the cases of Covid-19 it causes. Scientists are beginning to speak out on the subject, while remaining cautious.

Virologist Tom Peacock of Imperial College London tweeted that “very early observations from India and Denmark suggest there is no dramatic difference in severity compared to BA.1. This data should become more solid (one way or another) in the coming weeks.”

Peacock added that “there is likely to be minimal differences in vaccine effectiveness against BA.1 and BA.2. Personally, I’m not sure BA.2 is going to have a substantial impact on the current Omicron wave of the pandemic.

“Several countries are near, or even past the peak of BA.1 waves. I would be very surprised if BA.2 caused a second wave at this point. Even with slightly higher transmissibility this absolutely is not a Delta-Omicron change and instead is likely to be slower and more subtle,” he predicted.

For epidemiologist Antoine Flahault, director of the University of Geneva’s Institute of Global Health, infection monitoring should make it possible to test the resistance of BA.2, in particular if people infected with the classic Omicron are again contaminated with the sub-variant. However, it is necessary to have the means to detect contamination with BA.2 in the population, which seems delicate at this stage and which does not seem to be self-evident.

  • Why is BA.2 so difficult to trace?  

BA.2 poses certain challenges to scientists, as it is not easy to track. A variation in PCR test protocols and the fact that the type of kit varies from one laboratory to another makes it difficult to reliably identify BA.2, according to Florence Débarre, a biologist at the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences in Paris, interviewed by Libération. “In the UK, the way the tests are carried out does not allow us to distinguish between BA.2 and Delta,” explains Débarre.

There is a more accurate but less commonly used tool for tracking variants: genetic sequencing of the virus. This allows the exact presence of this sub-variant to be identified. But in France, for example, only some of the laboratory tests are randomly subjected to this more in-depth and expensive form of analysis. Sequencing also has the drawback of being slow, which means it is not suitable for monitoring a rapidly spreading variant.

  • Where is BA.2 most dominant? 

The sub-variant has been detected in at least 43 countries on all continents. It is believed to have become the most common variant in a number of countries, including India, Denmark and Sweden. In Denmark, the number of daily cases of Covid-19 has started to rise again, just when the Danes thought they had already reached the peak.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) identified more than 400 cases in Britain in the first 10 days of January.

“The Danish authorities have no explanation for this phenomenon, but it is being closely monitored,” said France’s public health agency, which is following the latest developments in Denmark. This “suggests that BA.2 is even more transmissible”, agreed Débarre. In Europe, BA.2 has also been sequenced in the UK, Germany, Belgium, Italy and France, while North America, Asia and Australia have recorded cases, too.

  • Is BA.2 evolving as fast in France?

To date, the sub-variant has been detected “at very low levels” in France, says France’s public health agency. “We have an international situation where the Omicron variant is circulating a lot, so it is normal that we observe sub-variants over time,” the agency said on January 21.

#vaccine

WhatsApp plans transfer of data between Android, iOS devices

whatsapp


 

WhatsApp chat could now be transferred between Android and iOS devices after the Meta-owned messaging app  plans to roll out a new update. 

This was revealed by the found source code  of WhatsApp 22.74 Beta for iOS. However, the migration process would not be easy and would require both devices to have the app installed and would likely involve a wired or  private WiFi connection. In comparison, other messaging apps store and sync user data with Google Drive, iCloud or their own cloud service.

 WhatsApp recently added new features to its desktop and Android apps. The Android app will get new pencil and drawing  tools in a future update, while WhatsApp Desktop will get new chat bubble colors. The desktop app  also gets a new dark blue color that is only visible in dark theme mode.

The instant messaging app is also testing a new emoji message reaction info tab and new  message reaction notification settings. WhatsApp feature tracker WABetaInfo said that WhatsApp is introducing new drawing tools to its Android app. 

You get two pens, including one thinner and one thicker than the existing pen. The app is also working on a blur  tool that may be added  in the future. 

The new features appeared in the WhatsApp Beta for Android 2.22.5 update, but they are disabled by default. 

These features are still under development and may be made available to WhatsApp beta testers soon.

#social

Bitcoin Extends Slide, Has Fallen More Than 50% From Record High


 Bitcoin, the largest digital asset, extended its decline Saturday, and has now shed more than 50% from its record high in November.

Bitcoin’s decline since hitting the record has wiped out more than $600 billion in market value, and over $1 trillion has been lost from the aggregate crypto market. While there have been much larger percentage drawdowns for both Bitcoin and the aggregate market, this marks the second-largest ever decline in dollar terms for both, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

With the Fed’s intentions rocking both cryptocurrencies and stocks, a dominant theme has emerged in the digital-asset space: cryptos have twisted and turned in nearly exactly the same way as equities have.

Bitcoin fell as low as $34,042 Saturday, a drop of 7.2%.

Russian c.bank proposes banning cryptocurrencies, crypto mining

crypto currency
Representations of virtual cryptocurrencies are seen in this illustration taken November 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Russia’s central bank on Thursday proposed banning the use and mining of cryptocurrencies on Russian territory, citing threats to financial stability, citizens’ wellbeing and its monetary policy sovereignty.

The move is the latest in a global cryptocurrency crackdown as governments from Asia to the United States worry that privately operated highly volatile digital currencies could undermine their control of financial and monetary systems.

Russia has argued for years against cryptocurrencies, saying they could be used in money laundering or to finance terrorism. It eventually gave them legal status in 2020 but banned their use as a means of payment.

In December, the price of bitcoin fell after Reuters reported, citing sources, that Russia’s regulator was in favour of a complete ban on cryptocurrencies. read more

In a report published on Thursday, the central bank said speculative demand primarily determined cryptocurrencies’ rapid growth and that they carried characteristics of a financial pyramid, warning that bubbles in the market could form, threatening financial stability and citizens.

The bank proposed preventing financial institutions from carrying out any operations with cryptocurrencies and said mechanisms should be developed to block transactions aimed at buying or selling cryptocurrencies for fiat, or traditional currencies. The proposed ban includes crypto exchanges.

Russians are active cryptocurrency users, the central bank said, with an annual transaction volume of about $5 billion.

CRYPTO MINING

Russia is the world’s third-largest player in bitcoin mining, behind the United States and Kazakhstan, though the latter may see a miner exodus over fears of tightening regulation following unrest earlier this month. read more

The central bank said crypto mining created problems for energy consumption. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “mined” by powerful computers that compete against others hooked up to a global network to solve complex mathematical puzzles. The process guzzles electricity and is often powered by fossil fuels.

“The best solution is to introduce a ban on cryptocurrency mining in Russia,” the bank said.

In August, Russia accounted for 11.2% of the global “hashrate” – crypto jargon for the amount of computing power being used by computers connected to the bitcoin network.

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In its report, the central bank pointed to steps taken in other countries, such as China, to curb cryptocurrency activity. It said it would work with regulators in countries where crypto exchanges are registered to collect information about the operations of Russian clients.

In September, China intensified its crackdown on cryptocurrencies with a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, hitting bitcoin and other major coins and pressuring crypto and blockchain-related stocks.

Russia’s regulator said crypto assets becoming widespread would limit the sovereignty of monetary policy, with higher interest rates needed to contain inflation.

It said the long-term potential of cryptocurrencies being used for settlements was limited.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Russia is planning to issue its own digital rouble, joining the global trend to develop digital currencies to modernise financial systems, speed up payments and counter a potential threat from other cryptocurrencies.

#crypto

EXCLUSIVE TikTok owner ByteDance’s revenue growth slowed to 70% in 2021 – sources

tiktok
Tik Tok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

TikTok owner ByteDance saw its  revenue grow  70% year on year to about $58 billion in 2021,  slower growth than a year earlier as China tightens its regulation of big tech companies.

According to two people familiar with the matter the numbers were revealed to a small group of employees at an internal meeting of the social media giant this week .

In 2020, the Beijing-based company’s total revenue grew by over 100% to $34.3 billion, Reuters has reported. ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chinese tech companies from Tencent to Alibaba have reported slowing growth amid a sweeping crackdown by the country’s regulators, who have rolled out new rules for how they operate and interact with their users. 

According to a recent report by market research firm Interactive Marketing Lab Zhongguancun, 

ByteDance held its second position in China’s online advertising market last year with a 21% market share.

The number one position was still held by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group (9988.HK), and third place went to gaming giant Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), according to the report.


The overall growth of online ad sales in China declined to 9.3% in 2021 from 13.8% a year earlier, the report says.


Tech news website The Information last November reported that ByteDance’s 2021 revenue was on track to rise about 60% to 400 billion yuan ($63.07 billion).


ByteDance is one of the world’s biggest private tech companies with recent trades in the private-equity secondary market valuing it at about $300 billion, Reuters has reported.


Following Beijing’s antitrust efforts, ByteDance has recently been downsizing its powerful investment arm. read more

In November, ByteDance reorganised itself into six business units in its biggest organizational change since ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming said in May he would step down as CEO. 

Besides TikTok, ByteDance’s other apps include its Chinese equivalent Douyin, news aggregator Jinri Toutiao and video-streaming platform Xigua.

In 2021, users spent approximately $2.3 billion in TikTok and the iOS version of Douyin, a 77% jump year-over-year, according to app tracker Sensor Tower.


 

#social

Microsoft-Activision deal gives merger speculators a new darling

microsoft
Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed on displayed Activision Blizzard logo in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Hedge funds, which make profits by speculating on precarious takeovers, got a treat this week when Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) agreed to buy “call of duty” maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) for US$68.7 billion dollars in cash. The transaction requires antitrust laws. 

Approved in the United States and other major jurisdictions, including the European Union and China. It comes at a time when President Joe Biden’s administration is taking a closer look at large mergers, blaming some of them for raising prices to consumers that are fueling inflation.

Activision’s shares ended trading at $82.15 on Wednesday, well below the $95 per share deal price, reflecting concerns that regulators may shoot down a combination that would create the third biggest gaming company, after Tencent and Sony Group Corp (6758.T).

This infers a 57% chance of the deal closing, based on Activision’s closing share price of $65.39 before the deal was announced.

The wide spread gives investors willing to bet on whether the deal will be completed the opportunity to score double-digit returns. At a time when so-called merger arbitrage strategies have trailed the broader stock market’s returns, it is an attractive but also risky proposition.

Last year, merger arbitrage funds returned nearly 10% according to Hedge Fund Research data, beating returns posted in 2020, 2019 and 2018, but trailing the broader S&P 500 stock market’s 27% gain in 2021.

For some investors, Aon’s (AON.N) scuttled $30 billion acquisition of Willis Towers Watson (WTY.F) as the U.S. Justice Department sued to block the deal hurt returns.

Now they are looking to come back, hoping that this deal will also force competitors into making deals of their own.

“The positive outlook for event-driven and merger-arbitrage oriented firms in 2022 has been accelerated with the Microsoft-Activision deal,” said Hedge Fund Research Inc President Ken Heinz.

Microsoft and Activision gave themselves until June 2023 to complete the transaction, giving hedge funds months to handicap how regulators will react to Microsoft bundling its Xbox platform with Activision’s popular games, such as World of Warcraft and Diablo.

Investors may get hints on the Biden administration’s stance soon as the Federal Trade Commission is expected to weigh in on defense contractor Lockheed Martin’s (LMT.N) planned $4.4 billion acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJRD.N) and the Justice Department will decide on healthcare insurer UnitedHealth’s (UNH.N)$13 billion bid for healthcare analytics and technology vendor Change Healthcare (CHNG.O).

Coverage finds such as Millennium, Tiesemann consultant and pentwater capital spend a piece of their fusion bets, and many have occupied Microsoft and Activision for some time.Mutual funds The Merger Fund run by Westchester Capital Management and The Arbitrage Funds run by Water Island Capital offer similar strategies.

#business

AUSTRIA ADDS A LOTTERY TO COVID VACCINE MANDATE

A doctor vaccinates a person with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Vienna, Austria April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Austria’s conservative government said  Thursday it was launching a national lottery to encourage holdouts to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, hours before parliament passed legislation that would introduce a national vaccination mandate. 

About 72% of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. “What’s up for grabs in the Vaccine Fleet?” Vouchers!”

 This is what Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer said at a press conference  of the social democratic opposition leader Pamela Rendi Wagner, with whom the measure was being negotiated.

Nehammer said he wanted there to be a financial reward for getting vaccinated, adding: “We have learned from the past and we have seen that a vaccination lottery is the best possible way to set up such a system.”

Members of the public, whether already vaccinated or not, would be entitled to one ticket for each shot they have had – three in total for those who have had their booster shot.

Every 10th ticket would win a 500 euro ($568) gift voucher, Nehammer said, adding it would cost up to 1 billion euros. He later added on Twitter that the vouchers could be used in “retail, tourism, hospitality, services, culture and sport”.

Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler said the aim was to support Austrian businesses and avoid online retailers as much as possible.

#health, #vaccine

CHEAP VERSION OF MERCK COVID PILL TO BE MADE FOR POORER NATIONS

An experimental COVID-19 treatment pill, called molnupiravir and being developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is seen in this undated handout photo released by Merck & Co Inc and obtained by Reuters May 17, 2021. Merck & Co Inc/Handout via REUTERS
A UN-backed agency has struck a deal with nearly 30 generic drugmakers to make low-cost versions of Merck’s COVID-19 pill molnupiravir for poorer countries, expanding access to a drug seen as a weapon to fight the pandemic. 

The antiviral drug, which  received emergency use approval in the US in December, reduces hospitalizations and deaths  by about 30% in high-risk patients, according to clinical trials. 
The agreement, negotiated by the U.N.-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) with Merck, allows 27 generic drugmakers from India, China and other countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to manufacture ingredients and the finished drug. 

The MPP said on Thursday the agreement would see the pill  distributed to 105 least developed countries.

The developers of molnupiravir, which together with Merck are the US company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Emory University, will not receive royalties from the sale of cheap versions made by generic drug companies as long as COVID-19 is classified as a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) .

 “This is a critical step in ensuring global access to a much-needed COVID-19 treatment, and we are confident that with manufacturers  working closely with regulatory authorities, pre-treatments will be rapidly available,” said MPP CEO Charles Gore .

Bangladesh’s Beximco Pharmaceuticals, India’s Natco Pharma, South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare and China’s Fosun Pharma are among the generic drug companies that will manufacture the final product.

#health, #vaccine

Tesla investors urge judge to order Musk repay $13 bln for SolarCity deal

 

REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo


Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) shareholders on Tuesday asked a judge  to find that Elon Musk forced the company’s board of directors into a  deal for SolarCity in 2016 and wanted the CEO convicted, the electric vehicle maker one of the largest judgments in history paid $13 billion.

“This case was always  about whether the acquisition of SolarCity was a bailout from financial troubles, a bailout orchestrated by Elon Musk,” said Randy Baron, a shareholders’ attorney, at the Zoom hearing.

The closing arguments listed the key findings of a 10-day trial in July when Musk spent two days at the stand defending the deal.Lawsuit from union pension funds and wealth managers alleges  Musk forced Tesla’s board of directors to cut the deal to approve for cash -strapped SolarCity, in which Musk was the largest shareholder.

Musk has countered that the deal was part of a decade-old master plan to create a vertically integrated company that would transform energy generation and consumption with SolarCity’s roof panels and Tesla’s cars and batteries.
Evan Chesler, one of Musk’s attorneys, said at the hearing that the deal was not a bailout and that SolarCity is far from insolvent and that its finances are similar to those of many high-growth companies.

“They were building billions of dollars of long-term value,” Chesler said of SolarCity.


The all-stock deal was valued at $2.6 billion in 2016, but since that time Tesla’s stock has soared.


Shareholder attorney Lee Rudy urged Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights of Delaware’s Court of Chancery to order Musk return the Tesla stock he received, which would be worth around $13 billion at its current price.


Musk said in court papers such an award would be at least five times the largest award ever in a comparable shareholder lawsuit and called it a “windfall” for plaintiffs.


Rudy said Slights should consider Musk’s contempt for the deposition and trial process, in which he repeatedly clashed with and insulted shareholder attorneys.


“It would be a windfall for Elon Musk if he got to keep shares he never should have gotten in the first place,” Rudy said.


Chesler called the request to order Musk to return the stock from the deal “preposterous” and said it ignored five years of unprecedented success at Tesla.


Tesla’s stock was down 1% at around $1,040in afternoon trade.


Tesla acquired SolarCity as the electric vehicle maker was approaching the launch of its Model 3, a mass-market sedan that was critical to its strategy. Shareholders allege the deal was a needless distraction and burdened Tesla with SolarCity’s financial woes and debt.


Shareholders claim that despite owning only 22% of Tesla, Musk was a controlling shareholder due to his ties to board members and domineering style. If plaintiffs can prove this, it increases the likelihood that the court will conclude the deal was unfair to shareholders.


Musk’s lawyers said the celebrity entrepreneur had no authority to fire directors or control their salaries and withdrew from price negotiations in the SolarCity deal.

“Without Elon Musk, Tesla couldn’t exist, let alone be worth $1 trillion,” said Vanessa Lavely, Musk’s attorney. “That doesn’t make him a controller. This makes him a highly effective CEO.
Slights ended the hearing by saying he expects to rule in about three months. He said last week that he intends to retire in the next few months. And a request for related shareholders contesting Musk’s record pay package was transferred from Slights to another judge.

Source: Reuters

#business

Microsoft to gobble up Activision in $69 billion metaverse bet

Activision

 (Mike Blake, Reuters)

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) is buying “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) for $68.7 billion in the biggest gaming industry deal in history as global technology giants stake their claims to a virtual future.


The deal announced by Microsoft on Tuesday, its biggest-ever and set to be the largest all-cash acquisition on record, will bolster its firepower in the booming videogaming market where it takes on leaders Tencent (0700.HK) and Sony (6758.T).

It also represents the American multinational’s bet on the “metaverse,” virtual online worlds where people can work, play and socialize, as many of its biggest competitors are already doing.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said.

Microsoft, one of the biggest companies in the world largely thanks to corporate software such as its Azure cloud computing platform and Outlook franchise, is offering $95 per share – a 45% premium to Activision’s Friday close.

Activision’s shares were last up 26% at $82.10, still a steep discount to the offer price, reflecting concerns the deal could get stuck in regulators’ crosshairs.

Microsoft has so far avoided the type of scrutiny faced by Google and Facebook but this deal, which would make it the world’s third largest gaming company, will put the Xbox maker on lawmakers’ radars, said Andre Barlow of the law firm Doyle, Barlow & Mazard PLLC.

“Microsoft is already big in gaming,” he said.

However, a source familiar with the matter said Microsoft would pay a $3 billion break-fee if the deal falls through, suggesting it is confident of winning antitrust approval.

The tech major’s shares were last down 1.9%.

The deal comes at a time of weakness for Activision, maker of games such as “Overwatch” and “Candy Crush”. Before the deal was announced, its shares had slumped more than 37% since reaching a record high last year, hit by allegations of sexual harassment of employees and misconduct by several top managers.

The company is still addressing those allegations and said on Monday it had fired or pushed out more than three dozen employees and disciplined another 40 since July.

CEO Bobby Kotick, who said Microsoft approached him about a possible buyout, would continue as CEO of Activision following the deal, although he is expected to leave after it closes, a source familiar with the plans said.

In a conference call with analysts, Microsoft boss Nadella did not directly refer to the scandal but talked about the importance of culture in the company.

“It’s critical for Activision Blizzard to drive forward on its renewed cultural commitments,” he said, adding “the success of this acquisition will depend on it.”

‘METAVERSE ARMS RACE’

Data analytics firm Newzoo estimates the global gaming market generated $180.3 billion of revenues in 2021, and expects that to grow to $218.8 billion by 2024.

Microsoft already has a significant beachhead in the sector as one of the big three console makers. It has been making investments including buying “Minecraft” maker Mojang Studios and Zenimax in multibillion-dollar deals in recent years.

It has also launched a popular cloud gaming service, which has more than 25 million subscribers.

According to Newzoo, Microsoft’s gaming market share was 6.5% in 2020 and adding Activision would have taken it to 10.7%.

Executives talked up Activision’s 400 million monthly active users as one major attraction to the deal and how vital these communities could play in Microsoft’s various metaverse plays.

Activision’s library of games could give Microsoft’s Xbox gaming platform an edge over Sony’s Playstation, which has for years enjoyed a more steady stream of exclusive games.

“The likes of Netflix have already said they’d like to foray into gaming themselves, but Microsoft has come out swinging with today’s rather generous offer,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Microsoft’s offer equates to 18 times Activision’s 2021 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). That compares with the 16 times EBITDA valuation of “Grand Theft Auto” maker Take-Two Interactive’s (TTWO.O) cash-and-shares deal for Zynga last week.

According to Refinitiv data, the Microsoft-Activision deal would be the largest all-cash acquisition on record, trumping Bayer’s $63.9 billion offer for Monsanto in 2016 and the $60.4 billion that InBev bid for Anheuser-Busch in 2008.

Tech companies from Microsoft to Nvidia have placed big bets on the so-called metaverse, with the buzz around it intensifying late last year after Facebook renamed itself as Meta Platforms to reflect its focus on its virtual reality business.

“This is a significant deal for the consumer side of the business and more importantly, Microsoft acquiring Activision really starts the metaverse arms race,” David Wagner, equity analyst and portfolio manager at Aptus Capital Advisors said.

“We believe the deal will get done,” he said, but cautioned: “This will get a lot of looks from a regulatory standpoint.”

This article is copy paste from Reuters Check the original article here

Source: Reuters



#business

WHATSAPP FOR ANDROID, DESKTOP TO GET NEW FEATURES

WhatsApp

The Android app will get new pencil and drawing  tools in a future update, while WhatsApp Desktop will get new chat bubble colors. The desktop app  also gets a new dark blue color that is only visible in dark theme mode.

The instant messaging app is also testing a new emoji message reaction info tab and new  message reaction notification settings.

 WhatsApp feature tracker WABetaInfo said that WhatsApp is introducing new drawing tools to its Android app. You get two pens, including one thinner and one thicker than your existing pen. The app is also working on a blur  tool that may be added  in the future. 

The new features appeared in the WhatsApp Beta for Android 2.22.5 update, but they are disabled by default. These features are still under development and may be made available to WhatsApp beta testers soon.

The WABetaInfo report said the app is also introducing new colour to its Windows and macOS apps with WhatsApp beta for Desktop 2.2201.2.0 update. The new colour scheme will be visible in the dark theme and the chat bubbles seem to be greener compared to the existing colour.

Other elements of the app will also see colour changes with chat bar and background colour now reportedly have a blue tinge.

#social

WHO says no evidence healthy children, adolescents need COVID-19 boosters

Photo Credit: Fabrice Coffrini | Reuters

At present, there is no evidence  that healthy children and adolescents need booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine,  World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Tuesday. 

Speaking at a news briefing, she said that while there seems to be some waning of vaccine immunity over time against the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus, more research is needed to determine who needs a booster shot.

“There is currently no evidence  that healthy children or heavy adolescents need boosters. No evidence at all,” he said. 

Israel began offering boosters to children as young as 12, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month authorized the use of a third dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 and 15. 

Last week, Germany became the latest country to recommend that all children between the ages of 12 and 17 receive a COVID-19 booster shot. Hungary did it too.

Swaminathan said the WHO’s top group of experts would meet later this week to consider the specific question of how countries should consider giving boosters to their populations.

“The aim is to protect the most vulnerable, to protect those at highest risk of severe disease and dying. Those are our elderly populations, immuno-compromised people with underlying conditions, but also healthcare workers,” she said.

 

#health, #vaccine

Apple confirms that the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro do not support noise cancellation during phone calls

iphone 13
Photo credit: Gadgets Now

 Apple has confirmed that  iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro do not cancel noise  during phone calls, including  iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Apple included the feature in the iPhone 12 series and earlier models to improve call quality in noise environment. 

No reason was given to remove this feature from the iPhone 13 series noise cancellation during phone calls. By reference, by  iPhone 13 series, we mean  iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and  iPhone 13 Pro Max. On previous iPhones, the feature was available in Settings under  Audio/Visual, which is found in Accessibility.

According to Apple, the setting reduces ambient noise when making calls, but only when you hold the iPhone to your ear. By default, Apple has the feature enabled, although it’s hidden in Accessibility.Theoretically, the feature made it easier for people to be heard when making calls from busy areas, such as in the  near heavy traffic. 

Apple has now confirmed to 9to5Mac that the lack of noise cancellation on the iPhone 13 series is not a bug in iOS 15. Instead, Apple ruled out the feature but didn’t explain why. However, older iPhone models still support “phone noise cancellation” in iOS 15. Currently, the only workaround is to enable the voice isolation feature in Control Center, although this doesn’t work with all apps.

#apple

Samsung unveils Exynos 2200 with Xclipse GPU, based on AMD RDNA2 architecture

exynos 2200

Samsung  today unveiled the Exynos 2200, its latest flagship chipset that will power  Galaxy S22 smartphones in certain regions. The new platform is based on  4nm EUV process technology and comes with a custom GPU called Xclipse.

 It is based on the AMD RDNA2 architecture and as such is a “single hybrid graphics processor” that offers advanced features such as ray tracing and variable rate shading on mobile devices, the first smartphone chip to do so. Ray tracing is a technology that simulates how light behaves in real life, calculating the motion and color of objects as light rays bounce off surfaces.

 The hardware-accelerated feature offers realistic effects and immersive graphics, making playing games that support these features as great as it looks. Variable rate shading is another technology implemented in PC and console games. Developers apply lesser shading to areas where quality is not compromised, improving frame rate and smooth gameplay.

Exynos 2200 is also one of the first chips to integrate ARMv9 CPU cores. The octa-core processor features a single powerful CortexX2 core, three CortexA710 cores that balance performance and efficiency, and four small CortexA510  cores for power efficiency. 

Traditionally, Samsung does not disclose the frequency of its chips are cloaked at. The new GPU and upgraded CPU also have a more powerful NPU to keep them company. Compared to the Exynos 2100, the performance has been doubled and allows more calculations in parallel, improving the overall performance of the AI. 

The chipset is powered by the latest LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage. The 5G modem works on both sub-6GHz and mmWave frequencies, while the global navigation system is compatible with all major standards and satellites. Samsung said the Exynos 2200 is “currently in mass production”. We’ll see the Galaxy S22 lineup with the chip, but rumors point to February 8th as a possible launch date.

#mobile

There Are So Many Details From Marvel’s ‘Eternals’ You Probably Missed

Eternals
Photo credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel’s Eternals is a very different beast to many other MCU movies; directed by autheor Chloe Zhao,  is a slow-paced, meditative story that explores the emotional toll of immortality on a group of extraterrestrials who have lived on the fringes of human society for millennia. This departure from the familiar house style has led many fans to dislike Eternals, but there’s one thing  it does  as well as other Marvel films: hide Easter eggs in plain sight. And now that the film is streaming on Disney+, a new video on the Heavy Spoilers channel just picked up all the niche references and clues.

The first Easter egg appears  seconds into the film: The “six singularities” mentioned in the opening text are a nod to the Infinity Stones, those brightly colored McGuffins who have directed the action for much of the past decade. Following the introductory exhibition montage, as we move to Sersi in present-day London, we see an announcement from the Global Repatriation Council, the organization set up to deal with the aftermath of the Avengers undoing the Snap featured in The Falcon and the Winter  Soldier.

A number of different versions of Captain America’s shield also show up in the movie, first in Kingo’s Bollywood number, and then later on his private plane, where the earliest design is on display. But it’s not just Marvel properties that the movie is alluding to: Eternals includes a couple of nods to DC, with Phastos’ son calling Ikaris “Superman,” and Kingo’s valet Karun being compared to Batman’s butler Alfred.

The Celestial whose “emergence” functions as the movie’s climactic crisis is named Tiamut, which is a reference to an apocalyptic figure from Babylonian mythology. This is especially apt given that ancient Babylon is one of the historical locations where we see the Eternals influencing humanity in the movie.

If You want To download Eternal For Free Then Click Here


#entertainment

Pfizer CEO: Virus will be here for years but this may be last wave with restrictions

Pfizer CEO
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla speaks during a ceremony in Thessaloniki, Greece, on October 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos, File)

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Monday that while the “most likely scenario” is that the coronavirus will circulate for many years, he believes the current wave of infections will be the last to require restrictions.

Bourla gave an interview to the French medium BFM. TV to commemorate the announcement of an investment package by the pharmaceutical company in France. Bourla also touted the vaccines’ effectiveness and safety, saying  he believed people would still need booster shots. “It’s important that people get Pfizer’s three-dose regimen. coronavirus vaccine and will likely  require yearly booster shots, although the immunocompromised may need them every four months,” Bourla said.

“Children need to be vaccinated  to protect them. Its effectiveness in children is very, very, very good. Bourla also said  the company’s anti-COVID pill, Paxlovid, is “changing everything” as a new way to fight serious illnesses. Pfizer said in December that its Paxlovid pill had reduced hospitalizations and deaths by nearly 90 percent in vulnerable people.

In the interview, Bourla said the company was working on a plan that would invest 520 million euros ($593.7 million)  in France over the next five years, including a partnership with French company Novasep to develop an anti-inflammatory treatment -COVID pills.

France, like many other countries, is facing a record number of infections caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant. France’s parliament passed legislation on Sunday barring unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports stadiums and other venues, the centerpiece of the government’s effort to protect hospitals. in the middle of the wave.

The government of French President Emmanuel Macron is hoping the step will be enough to limit the number of patients filling up strained hospitals nationwide without resorting to a new lockdown.

More than 76% of French ICU beds are occupied by virus patients, most of them unvaccinated, and some 200 people with the virus are dying every day. Like many countries, France is in the grip of the Omicron variant, recording more than 2,800 positive cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

#vaccine

Warren Buffett says these are the best businesses to own — 3 examples from Berkshire’s portfolio


Warren Buffett says these are the best businesses to own — 3 examples from Berkshire’s portfolio

While we’re constantly bombarded with confusing investment mumbo jumbo, we must never forget that, for the most part, companies  exist for one primary reason: to take capital from investors and make a return on it. For this reason, it makes sense for investors to look for companies with enduring competitive advantages that are capable of consistently delivering high returns on investments.

As Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, once said, “The best company to own is one that  can deploy large amounts of incremental capital at very high prices at very high rates of return. With that in mind, here are three Berkshire holdings with double-digit returns on invested capital.

Moody’s (MCO)

With returns on invested capital consistently in the mid-20% range, credit rating leader Moody’s leads off our list.

Moody’s shares held up incredibly well during the height of the pandemic and are up nearly 220% over the past five years, suggesting that it’s a recession-resistant business worth betting on.

Specifically, the company’s well-entrenched leadership position in credit ratings, which leads to outsized returns on capital, should continue to limit Moody’s long-term downside

Moreover, Moody’s has generated about $2.4 billion in trailing twelve-month free cash flow. And over the first three quarters of 2021, the company has returned $975 million to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends.

As of Q3 2021, Berkshire holds more than 24.6 million shares of Moody’s worth just under $8.8 billion. Moody’s has a dividend yield of 0.7%.

Apple (AAPL)

Next up, we have consumer technology gorilla Apple, which boasts a five-year return on invested capital of 28%, much higher than that of rivals like Nokia (-3%) and Sony (12%).

Even in the cutthroat world of consumer hardware, the iPhone maker has been able to generate outsized returns due to its loyalty-commanding brand and high switching costs (the iOS experience can only be had through Apple products).

And with the company continuing to penetrate emerging markets like India and Mexico, Apple’s long-term growth trajectory remains healthy.

In the most recent quarter, Apple’s revenue jumped 29% to $83.4 billion. The company also returned over $24 billion to shareholders.

The stock currently sports a dividend yield of just 0.5%, but with a buyback yield of 3%, Apple is doling out more cash to shareholders than you might think.

It’s no wonder that Apple is Berkshire’s largest public holding, owning more than 887 million shares in the tech giant worth roughly $125.5 billion.

Procter & Gamble (PG)

Rounding out the list is consumer staples giant Procter & Gamble, with a solid five-year average return on invested capital of 13.5%.

Berkshire held 315,400 shares at the end of Q3, worth around $44 million at today’s price. While that’s not a big position by Berkshire standards, something does make P&G stand out: the ability to deliver rising cash returns to investors through thick and thin.

The company offers a portfolio of trusted brands like Bounty paper towels, Crest toothpaste, Gillette razor blades and Tide detergent. These are products households buy on a regular basis, regardless of what the economy is doing.

In April, P&G’s board of directors announced a 10% increase to the quarterly payout, marking the company’s 65th consecutive annual dividend hike.

P&G share currently offer a dividend yield of 2.2%.

Source: Yahoo News

Oppo’s next flagship leaks with OnePlus-esque Hasselblad branding

Oppo find x5
Image Credit: Onleaks


 Details about Oppo’s next flagship  are starting to gather. Multiple leaks suggest it will be called the Find X5 Pro, with a similar design to last year’s Find X3 Pro and specs broadly in line with the new OnePlus 10 Pro, now available in China. (OnePlus is now, of course,  treated as an Oppo sub-brand. 


The Find X3 Pro wasn’t sold in the US, but it made its way to Europe and was one of the best phones of 2021. Renderings recently released by OnLeaks show a device with a camera hump that flows into the rest of the rear much like the Find X3 Pro, although the camera setup has changed and doesn’t appear to include the previous phone’s unique ring light accoutrement, which features a ‘microscope’ camera.


Alleged real photos confirming the OnLeaks renders have also now surfaced online, showing a white Hasselblad branded model of the phone, just like recent OnePlus flagships. There’s also a photo of the device’s settings menu, stating that  it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, like the OnePlus 10 Pro, as well as Oppo’s own new chip, the MariSilicon X. This is an NPU used for image processing . It was announced  alongside Oppo’s Air Glass AR device late last year. 

There are other specs  floating around on Chinese social media channels that can’t be verified but don’t sound very surprising, like the OnePlus 10 Pro. Both of Oppo’s previous  Find X flagships were announced in March, for which we should get official details pretty soon.

#mobile

A massive volcanic eruption and tsunami hit Tonga and the Pacific. Here’s what we know


Satellite images from JMA show the volcano eruption in Tonga on January 15.

An undersea volcano near Tonga has erupted for the third time in four days, potentially threatening the ability of surveillance flights to assess  damage to the Pacific island nation following Saturday’s massive eruption and tsunami.

The Australian Meteorological Service said a “major eruption” occurred on the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Monday, but no tsunami warning was issued. Saturday’s eruption was probably the largest recorded  on the planet in more than 30 years, experts said.

Dramatic footage from space captured the eruption in real time, when a huge plume of ash, gas and steam was spewed up to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) into the atmosphere and Tsunami waves were sent to crash into the Pacific.

Footage on social media showed people fleeing as waves flooded Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, and the afternoon sky turned  black from the heavy ash cloud.

Tsunami waves have also been recorded thousands of miles away along the west coast of the United States, in Peru, New Zealand and Japan. In Peru, at least two people have died after being hit by high waves.

No mass casualties have yet been reported, but aid organizations are concerned about  air contamination and access to clean water for residents of Tonga’s outer islands.

With communications down, Australia and New Zealand sent flights to survey the damage.

Where is Tonga’s Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano?

Tonga is a Polynesian country of over 170 islands in the South Pacific  and is home to around 100,000 people. It is a remote archipelago that lies about 800 kilometers (500 miles) east of Fiji and 2,380 kilometers (1,500 miles) from New Zealand.

The HungaTongaHungaHa’apai volcano, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Tonga’s Fonuafo’ou Island, lies underwater between two small islands  about 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) high from the sea floor, with about 100 meters (328 feet) visible above sea level.

Researchers said it has erupted steadily over the past few decades.

In 2009 an eruption sent plumes of steam and ash into the air and formed new land above the water, and an eruption in January 2015 created a new island about 2 kilometers wide , effectively merging with the islands of HungaTonga and HungaHa’apai.

The most recent eruption began in December 2021, with plumes of gas, steam and ash  rising about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) into the air.

The volcano erupted again on January 14, and a massive eruption on January 15 sent shock waves around the world and triggered tsunami waves in the Pacific.

Where did the tsunami hit?

The eruption caused a tsunami on Tonga’s largest island, Tongatapu, with waves recorded at 1.2 meters (about 4 feet) near Nuku’alofa city flowing onto coastal roads and flooding properties on Saturday.


Tsunami warnings went into effect across Pacific Island nations including Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu. Footage from the ground in Fiji shows people fleeing to higher ground in the capital, Suva, as large waves hit the coast.


Tsunami warnings and advisories were also issued from parts of New Zealand, Japan and Peru, to the United States and Canada’s British Columbia.


In Japan, the northeastern prefecture of Iwate saw waves as high as 2.7 meters (9 feet) and multiple smaller tsunamis were reported in numerous other locations, according to public broadcaster NHK. By Sunday afternoon, all tsunami advisories had been lifted in Japan.


The eruption also sent waves to the US West Coast, with some exceeding 3 and 4 feet in height, according to the National Weather Service office in San Diego. Tsunami waves were felt in California, Alaska and Hawaii.


What is happening with the ash cloud?


A giant cloud of volcanic ash  blanketed Tonga over the weekend, obscuring the afternoon sky  and blanketing Nuku’alofa in a thick foam of volcanic dust on Saturday.

Save the Children said drinking water supplies could be contaminated with ash and smoke and the immediate concern in Tonga is  air and water safety. The ash cloud was moving west and was visible over Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia on Sunday.

According to the state weather service, it reached Queensland in Australia on Monday. at dawn sunlight was  scattered by #volcanic ash from the #Tonga eruption,” the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology said on Twitter.

The ash prevented an Australian reconnaissance flight from departing to assess the damage  early on January 17, although the flight took off later that morning.Several flights from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji to Tonga were postponed due to the ash cloud. suggest the volcanic ice eruption was the largest since the 1991 explosion at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, New Zealand volcanologist Shane Cronin told Radio New Zealand.

“This is a better observed eruption  from space,” Cronin said, according to Reuters. The eruption suggests  it was likely the largest since  the Pinatubo eruption in 1991,” Cronin said.

What is the scale of devastation?

So far there have been no reports  of mass casualties in Tonga and the extent of the damage is unknown as communications, particularly on the offshore islands, have  yet to be restored.

Tonga “needs immediate help to provide its citizens with clean water and food”. said the  Speaker of the country’s House of Representatives, Lord Fakafanua, in a statement released on social media.

It said “many areas” had been affected by “significant volcanic ash fall” but “the full extent of the damage to life and property is unknown at this time”. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said  January 16 that tsunami waves had had a “significant impact” on Nuku’alofa as boats and large rocks washed ashore.

“Shops along the coast have been damaged and major cleanup will be required,” he said. The main underwater communications cable is also affected, likely due to a power outage. Australia’s Minister for Pacific and International Development  Zed Seselja said there was “significant  damage” in Tonga, including to roads and homes.

He said there was still “very limited, if any” information  from the outer islands. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said its teams are on the ground and have enough supplies in the country to feed 1,200 homes.

“Based on what little current information we have, the extent of the devastation could be immense, particularly for the outer  islands,”  Katie Greenwood, head of the IFRC’s Pacific delegation, said, according to Reuters.

The New Zealand Defense Force sent an Orion aircraft  on a surveillance mission to Tonga to assess the damage. Ardern said the country initially provided $340,000 for relief supplies, technical assistance and on-site assistance.

Australia said it was preparing for additional support, with a plane loaded with humanitarian supplies including water and hygiene items ready to deliver to Tonga as soon as conditions allow.

China and the autonomous island of Taiwan said in separate statements that they are ready to provide assistance at Tonga’s request.

#international

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro ready to fire on all cylinders as January OTA update brings dozens of vital fixes

Google pixel 6 6 pro
 Image Credit: Eric Zeman/ Android        Authority

The January OTA pack for  Google Pixel 6 (“oropiole”) and Google Pixel 6 Pro (“raven”) has started rolling out. The software update brings fixes from December and January that should help  Pixel 6 series smartphones run at full speed after numerous bugs and problems seemed to affect the functionality.


Google has revealed that the January software update for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro is now available as factory images and full OTA images via the Google Play services website (12.0.0 (SQ1D.220105.007), Jan 2022 – specific device/images links can be found in “sources” below). Those who prefer to wait for the OTA package to arrive with a “check for update” notification may start receiving the update from Monday January 17 onwards according to a report from 9to5Google. The list of fixes for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro in the December and January patches is extensive and an installation should help relieve some of the serious teething issues users have experienced.


We recently reported on Google’s flagship smartphones being criticized for their flaws, including a scathing comment from tech blogger Marques Brownlee who claimed he would return to his Galaxy S21 Ultra for now. However, it looks like it’s ready to give the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro another chance as it’s been busy downloading the software update (215MB of fixes in this particular case, presumably  from November) . Google took a lot of flak when the December update appeared to leave many Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones with critical issues like signal reception issues. Also, many users have complained about the battery drain issue in cellular network standby mode and the slow fingerprint sensor.


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Browsing through the list of fixes (see drop-down element “changelog” below for full list) one can find several for battery and charging and for network and telephony. One of these is “general improvements for network connection stability and performance”, which will hopefully alleviate two of the more serious issues mentioned above. There are fixes for biometrics too, with a “general improvements” update coming for the fingerprint sensor. While it’s unlikely every single problem with the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro can be fixed with this December/January OTA package, it does seem that Google is at least paying attention to the growing din of complaints about the new Pixel phones and doing something proactive about the situation.

Buy The Google Pixel 6 Pro On Amazon

Buy the Google Pixel 6 on Amazon


Source: NoteBook Check

#mobile

Tesla asked law firm to fire attorney who worked on Elon Musk probe at SEC, report says

Patrick Pleul | picture alliance | Getty Images
A Tesla lawyer has asked a law firm to fire one of its lawyers or risk losing his job for the electric carmaker led by Elon Musk, The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday. 

The Tesla lawyer  wanted Cooley LLP to fire previously worked at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The attorney questioned Musk as part of the agency’s investigation into the Tesla CEO’s claim in 2018  that he secured funding to take Tesla private,  the publication said. 

The investigation led to a settlement in which Musk and Tesla agreed to pay a fine of $20 million  each and Musk agreed to step down for three years as Tesla chairman. 

Tesla’s attorney late last year asked Cooley to fire the attorney working on the SEC investigation, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The firm did not fire the partner. 


Tesla has offered to replace Cooley or hire other attorneys in several cases since December, according to the Journal. 

Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, has also stopped working with the law firm on regulatory matters, she also stopped working. with the law firm, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Tesla has its  ties to the SEC. The company hired David Misler, a former defense attorney for the agency, as legal counsel. Musk has faced more regulators than the SEC. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated whether Tesla’s Autopilot  assistance system is at least partially responsible for incidents where Tesla cars crashed into parked first responder vehicles. 

The agency called Missy Cummings, a Duke University professor, automated systems expert, former Navy fighter pilot and Tesla critic, as a consultant on the investigation. 

Musk tweeted in October  that “his resume is extremely biased in favor of Tesla,” prompting outcry among his supporters. 

NHTSA then asked Cummings to recuse himself from Tesla-specific questions, the Journal reported on Saturday.

Source: CNBC

#tesla

Microsoft discloses malware attack on Ukraine govt networks

In this undated handout photo released by Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Press Service, the building of Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is seen during snowfall in Kyiv, Ukraine. Ukrainian officials and media reports say a number of government websites in Ukraine are down after a massive hacking attack. While it is not immediately clear who was behind the attacks, they come amid heightened tensions with Russia and after talks between Moscow and the West failed to yield any significant progress this week. (Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

Microsoft said on Saturday that dozens of computer systems in an unknown number of Ukrainian government agencies were infected with destructive malware disguised as ransomware, a revelation that suggests a defacement attack that draws attention to official websites was a diversion. 

The extent of the damage was not immediately clear. The attack comes as the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine looms and diplomatic talks to resolve the tense standoff appear to have stalled. Microsoft said in a short blog post that this amounted to the sound of an industry alert that it first detected the malware on Thursday.

This would coincide with the attack which temporarily took some 70 government websites offline. The disclosure followed a Reuters report earlier in the day quoting a senior Ukrainian security official as saying the disfigurement was indeed a cover for a malicious attack.

Separately, a senior private sector cybersecurity official in Kyiv told The Associated Press how the attack was successful: intruders entered government networks through a shared software vendor in a self -so-called SolarWinds 2020 Russian cyber-espionage campaign-style supply chain attack against Microsoft said in another technical article that the affected systems “spread across multiple government, non-profit, and  technology and information Technology Organization.

 “The malware is disguised as ransomware but, if activated by the attacker, would render the infected computer system inoperable,” Microsoft said. In short, there is no ransom recovery mechanism. 

Microsoft said the malware “runs when an associated device is turned off,” a typical initial reaction to a ransomware attack. Microsoft said it was not yet able to assess the purpose of the destructive activity or associate the attack with a known threat actor. 

Ukrainian security official Serhiy Demedyuk was quoted by Reuters for claiming that the attackers used malware similar to that used by Russian intelligence services. He is Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council.


 

#hacker

WhatsApp inches forward on bringing Reactions to its app

WhatsApp, owned by Meta, is actively developing its app and working on new features. The app’s latest beta  on iOS reveals that a new feature may be coming soon worked on reactions to iMessage-like messages. 

In their latest findings, they discovered that a relevant setting has appeared in the new beta  on iOS. WABetaInfo shared that WhatsApp version 22.72  on iOS adds a new Reactions Notifications toggle to app settings. 

With this toggle  visible to beta users, the feature may come to the platform fairly quickly. Alternatively, the company may have accidentally revealed this setting and may remove it in future betas if the Reactions feature is not yet ready.

In 2020, Mark Zuckerberg shared that Meta (Facebook at the time) planned to merge the messaging systems of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. He said plans won’t materialize until 2022. With WhatsApp likely to add reactions to messages soon, the gap between it and Facebook/Instagram direct messages (DMs) is narrowing even further. 

The merger between Facebook and Instagram DMs has already happened, as both platforms support the same messaging features (for the most part). WhatsApp is still far from becoming similar to either of these two services. It remains to be seen whether the merger of the three will take place this year. It is also possible that the company is prevented from making this potential move for monopoly reasons.

#social

Take a Look at The Largest And Most Detailed 3D Map of The Universe Ever Made

A ‘CT scan’ of the Universe across more than 5 billion light-years. (D. Schlegel/Berkeley Lab/DESI data

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), currently pointed skyward from its home in the Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, is tasked with tracking the expansion of space, to study dark energy and create the most detailed 3D map. of the Universe that was never assembled.

It’s only been seven months since the DESI mission began, and we already have a record-breaking, stunning three-dimensional image of the galaxy  all around us, demonstrating DESI’s capabilities  and  potential  for mapping space.
DESI has already cataloged and tracked over 7.5 million galaxies, with over a million new additions per month. When the scan is fully completed in 2026, more than 35 million galaxies would have been mapped, giving astronomers  a huge library of data to mine.

“There’s a lot of beauty in there,” says Lawrence astrophysicist Julien guy in California. “In the distribution of  galaxies on the 3D map, there are huge clusters, filaments and voids.These are the largest structures in the Universe.

But within them you will find an imprint of the  early Universe and the story of its expansion since DESI is made up of 5,000 optical fibers, each individually controlled and positioned ionized by its own little robot These fibers must be precisely positioned  within 10 microns,  less than the thickness of a human hair,  then catch glimpses of light as they filter through the Earth of the cosmos.

Through this fiber network, the instrument takes color spectrum images of millions of galaxies, covering more than a third of the entire sky, before calculating how much the light has been redshifted – that is, how much it’s been pushed towards the red end of the spectrum due to the expansion of the Universe.


As this light can take up to several billion years to reach Earth, it’s possible to use redshift data to see depth in the Universe: the greater the redshift, the farther away something is. What’s more, the structures mapped by DESI can be reverse engineered to see the initial formation that they started out in.


The main objective of DESI is to reveal more about the dark energy that is thought to make up 70 percent of the Universe as well as speeding up its expansion. This dark energy could drive galaxies into an infinite expansion, cause them to collapse back on themselves or something in between – and cosmologists are keen to narrow down the options.

[DESI] will help us  search for clues about the nature of dark energy,” Carlos Frenk, a cosmologist at Durham University in the UK, told the BBC. We will also learn more about  dark matter and the role it plays in how it happens, forms galaxies such as the Milky Way, and how the universe evolves.

The 3D map that has already been released shows that scientists don’t have to wait for DESI to finish its work to start benefiting from its deep look into space explores whether or not small galaxies have their own black holes like large galaxies.

The best way to spot a black hole is to identify the gas, dust and other material  dragged into it, but that’s not easy to see in small galaxies – something where high-precision spectral data collected by DESI should help. Then there’s the study of quasars

, particularly bright galaxies powered by supermassive black holes, which serve as clues to billions of years of space history.

DESI  will be used to test a hypothesis around quasars: that they start out surrounded by an envelope of dust that is chased away over time. The amount of dust around a quasar is believed to affect the color of the light it emits, making it a perfect job for DESI.

The tool should be able to collect information on around 2.4 million quasars before its survey is complete.”DESI is really great because it collects much fainter, much redder objects,” says Durham University astronomer Victoria Fawcett.

“We’re finding quite a few exotic systems, including large samples of rare objects that we’ve simply never seen able to study in detail before.

Source: ScienceAlert

#science, #space

Netflix raises monthly subscription prices in U.S., Canada

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Netflix is ​​raising the prices of all  its plans in the United States today. The enterprise standard plan will increase from $14 to $15.50 per month, while the 4K plan will increase from $18 to $20 per month. The basic plan, which does not include HD, goes up to $10 per month from $9 per month. Prices in Canada are also on the rise.

Price increases take effect immediately for new subscribers. For existing subscribers, the changes will be rolled out “gradually”, with Netflix promising to email members 30 days before the price hike takes effect. The prices for a Netflix package have steadily increased over the past few years. 

The standard plan went from $13 to $14 per month at the end of 2020, after dropping from $11 to $13 in 2019. Previously, Netflix raised prices in 2017 and 2015. When Netflix announced its first  price hike in 2014, the company was so worried about losing subscribers with a $1 a month hike that it allowed existing members to hold their price for two years. It hasn’t offered such a generous perk in the years since then.

The price hikes come during a successful but challenging moment for Netflix. The company already has a wealth of subscribers across the US, and adding more is a challenge — making price hikes an obvious answer for how it can make more money. At the same time, Netflix is now competing with several other serious streaming services for attention, including Disney Plus and HBO Max, and it’s been spending big on content to keep up.

“We are updating our pricing so that we can continue to offer a wide variety of quality entertainment options,” a Netflix spokesperson told Reuters.

 “As always, we offer a range of plans so members can choose a price that fits their budget. Netflix isn’t the only service that has increased prices lately. Hulu has increased the price of its funded tiers by advertising and without advertising of $1 per month in October.

North Korean hackers said to have stolen nearly $400 million in cryptocurrency last year


North Korean hackers stole nearly $400 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2021, making it one of the most profitable years yet for cybercriminals in the severely isolated country, according to a new report

Hackers launched at least seven different attacks last year, mostly targeting corporate investments and centralized exchanges with a variety of tactics including phishing, malware and social engineering, according to a report by Chainalysis, a company that tracks cryptocurrencies. 


Cybercriminals attempted to gain access to organizations’ “hot” wallets: Internet-connected digital wallets, and then transfer funds to accounts controlled by the DPRK. The thefts are the latest indication that the heavily sanctioned country continues to rely on a network of hackers to help fund its domestic programs. 


A confidential UN report previously accused North Korean regime leader Kim Jong Un of carrying out “operations against formerly moving financial institutions and virtual currency” to pay for weapons and keep the country afloat North Korean economy. 


Last February, the US Department of Justice  charged three North Koreans with conspiring to steal more than $1.3 billion from banks and businesses around the world and orchestrating crypto thefts. digital currency.


“North Korea is, in most respects, cut off from the global financial system by a long sanctions campaign by the United States and its foreign partners.” said Nick Carlsen, an analyst at blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs. “As a result, they have taken to the digital battlefield to steal cryptocurrencies, essentially [a] high-speed internet bank robbery, to fund weapons programs, nuclear proliferation and other activities. </span

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North Korea’s hacking efforts have benefited from this.The rise in value of Rising prices and the use of cryptocurrencies have generally made digital assets increasingly attractive to malicious actors, which led to more successful cryptocurrency thefts in 2021. 


According to Chainalysis, most of the thefts in the past year were committed by the Lazarus Group, a hacker group with ties to North Korea that was previously  linked to the  Sony Pictures hack, among other incidents. ie North Koreans, in addition to sanctiones cybersecurity defensive measures such as crimes such as criminql have no real chance of being extradited. 


As the cryptocurrency market becomes more popular, “we are likely to see continued interest from North Korea in targeting cryptocurrency companies that are young and that are building  cyber defenses and anti-virus controls. -money laundering,” Carlsen said.

#crypto, #hacker, #international

A healthcare worker administers…

A healthcare worker administers the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to a pregnant woman, amidst the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron, in Johannesburg, South Africa, December 9, 2021. REUTERS/ Sumaya Hisham
A healthcare worker administers the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to a pregnant woman, amidst the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron, in Johannesburg, South Africa, December 9, 2021. REUTERS/ Sumaya Hisham

Unvaccinated people infected with the Omicron variant of coronavirus may be less prone to severe illness and requiring hospital care or dying than was the case with previous variants, a South African study showed on Friday.

The study, by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in the Western Cape region, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, concluded.compared about 11,600 patients from the first three COVID-19 waves with about 5,100 from the Omicron-driven wave that began in November.

Omicron globally has tended to cause less severe disease, and proportionally fewer hospital admissions and deaths, than previous variants.

Scientists are trying to determine the extent to which this is because of higher immunity rates engendered by vaccination or past illness, or Omicron is intrinsically less nasty.

The study concluded that about a quarter of the reduced risk of severe disease with Omicron was attributable to characteristics of the virus itself.

“In the Omicron-driven wave, severe COVID-19 outcomes were reduced mostly due to protection conferred by prior infection and/or vaccination, but intrinsically reduced virulence may account for an approximately 25% reduced risk of severe hospitalisation or death compared to Delta,” the study said.

#vaccine

Musk says Tesla to accept dogecoin for merchandise

 Representation of cryptocurrency Dogecoin is seen in this illustration taken November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) will accept the meme-based cryptocurrency dogecoin as payment for its products such as the “Giga Texas” belt buckle and mini  electric vehicle models, CEO Elon Musk said on Friday in a tweet. 

The move which sent dogecoin prices up 14% higher, comes a month after Musk said Tesla would test  the digital token as a payment option. Musk, a voucal of cryptocurrencies has heavily influenced  dogecoin and bitcoin prices, and at one point  said the company would accept bitcoin for the purchase of its cars before scrapping the plans. 


Tesla’s products, which also include the recently launched “Cyberwhistle” and “Cyberquad for Kids,” are a hit with its fans and typically sell out within  hours of listing.


“Some have noticed that goods for doge are depleting even faster than for dollars. This news is a good example of the continued penetration of cryptocurrencies into corporate culture,” said Alex Kuptsikevich, senior financial analyst at FxPro. 


Musk on dogecoin’s tweets, including  one where he called it the “people’s crypto,” turned the once obscure digital currency that started as a social media joke into a speculator’s dream. The price of the token has increased by around 4,000% in 2021. 

Tesla revealed last year that it purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin, and Musk  also claimed to own bitcoin and dogecoin. 

Tesla faces intense competition as legacy automakers like Ford Motor Co (FN) and startups such as  Rivian Automotive (RIVN.O) are set to launch their electric car this year. Tesla’s long-awaited Cybertruck will begin production in the first quarter of 2023, pushing  its plan to start production to late 2022, Reuters reported.

#crypto

Massive cyberattack hits Ukrainian government websites as West warns on Russia conflict

Image Credit: REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/Illustration

A massive cyber attack warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and expect the worst” hit government websites  on Thursday night, leaving some websites inaccessible on Friday morning and prompting Kyiv to open an investigation.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman told Reuters it was too early to say who could be behind the attack, but said Russia had launched similar attacks in the past.
The cyberattack, which affected the Foreign Ministry, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Security and Defense Council, among others, comes as Kyiv and its allies sound the alarm on a possible new Russian military offensive against Ukraine.
“It’s too early to draw conclusions, but there is a long history of (cyber) Russian attacks on Ukraine in the past,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman told Reuters.
The Russian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Russia has previously denied cyberattacks against Ukraine.

“Ukrainian! All your personal data was uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it,” said a message visible on the hacked government websites, written in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.


“All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future.”


After a wave of inconclusive talks this week on security in Europe, the United States  on Thursday warned that the threat of a Russian military invasion of Ukraine was high.

Russia said the dialogue continued but reached an impasse as it tried to persuade the West to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and roll back decades of alliance expansion in Europe, demand that Washington has called “non-starters”.

Commenting on a cyber attack a senior Ukrainian security official told Reuters: “All cybersecurity subjects  were aware of such possible provocations from the Russian Federation. Therefore, the response to these incidents is being carried out in accordance with the government.

The government later claimed that he had restored most of the affected sites and that no personal data had been stolen. Many other government websites were suspended to prevent the attack from spreading, it said .

Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the outbreak of war between the same year. Kyiv forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The United States said on Thursday that Russia could try to create a pretext to launch a new military assault on Ukraine by comparing the situation with the circumstances of 2014.

Russia warned of possible “catastrophic consequences” if there was no agreement on what the Kremlin called the security red lines, but said Moscow had not abandoned diplomacy and would even speed it up.

The Russian comments reflect a trend in which Moscow claims to want to pursue diplomacy but rejects calls to reverse the training of its troops near Ukraine and warns of unspecified consequences for Western security if its demands are not heard.

Ukraine has suffered a series of cyberattacks since 2014, which have cut power, frozen supermarket checkouts and forced  authorities to back the hryvnia currency after the bank’s computer systems crashed. Ukraine believes the attacks are part of what it calls Russia’s “hybrid war” against Ukraine and its allies.

In 2017, a virus called NotPetya by some experts hit Ukraine and spread around the world, crippling thousands of machines as it spread to dozens of countries.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement, dismissing “general unfounded accusations”.

#international

Tesla delays initial production of Cybertruck to early 2023 – source

Image Credit:Jeenah Moon/Reuters

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) aims to start initial production of its long-awaited Cybertruck by the end of the first quarter of 2023, pushing plans to start production later this year, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

He said the delay comes when Tesla changes the features and functions of the electric pickup to make it a compelling product as competition heats up in the segment.

Tesla is expected to produce a limited production of the Cybertruck in the first quarter of 2023 before ramping up production, the source said.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tesla, the world’s largest electric car maker, produces electric sedans and SUVs, but has lost the pickup truck segment, which is profitable and hugely popular in America.

 Ford Motor Co (FN) and Rivian Automotive (RIVN.O). are ahead of Tesla in launching electric pickups. 

Ford said early this month it will nearly double annual production capacity for its red-hot F-150 Lightning electric pickup to 150,000 vehicles ahead of its arrival this spring at U.S. dealers.

Ford’s market value topped $ 100 billion for the first time on Thursday, when Tesla shares fell 6.7% and Rivian’s shares fell 7.1%.

CEO Elon Musk, who unveiled the futuristic vehicle in 2019, had already delayed  production from late 2021 to late 2022. 

Musk said he would provide an updated product roadmap during the earnings call for the Tesla on January 26.

“Oh man, this year has been such a nightmare for the supply chain  and it’s not over yet!” He tweeted in late November when asked about the Cybertruck. 

Tesla recently removed a reference to its production schedule from its Cybertruck orders website. Last month, the website said, “You will be able to complete your setup as production nears in 2022.” Now “in 2022” has been omitted.

Tesla plans to produce the Cybertruck at its plant in Texas, which is slated to begin production of Model Y cars earlier this year.

#tesla

How to make Windows 11 run better on old, cheap devices

window 11


Microsoft is working on a new update for Windows 11 that will make the new operating system (OS) run better on dated and inexpensive hardware.

Windows 11 Build 22526 has currently been made available to members of the Insider early access programme with multiple enhancements and fixes, Techradar reported. It is yet not clear when the update will be rolled out to the public.


Though most of the new features are minor, the software giant is using this update to try out a new file location indexing system, hoping that the build will enable users to find out important files even faster using File Explorer.

The File Explorer of the recently released Windows 11 works very slow and is still prone to frequent crashes. Users often have to suffer due to the slowness of the Search functionality.

It takes a long time to return relevant searches if users have stored a huge number of files in the built-in hard drive.

The new update could help you cruise through large number of files more quickly.

More importantly, it will be very helpful for users who are running Windows 11 on cheap and dated devices that suffer lengthy load times affecting performance.

Other upgrades that will be released in the upcoming Windows 11 update include wideband speech support which will improve the audio quality of voice calls if you are using products such as Apple Airpods.

There will also be a new “windowed” system to the popular Alt + Tan functionality.

#microsoft

White House will meet execs from Apple, Amazon, IBM to discuss software security

 

A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

The White House will meet with executives from major tech companies, including Alphabet-owned Google (GOOGL.O), Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Amazon.com Inc, , to discuss software security after the United States have suffered several major cyber attacks last year.

 In December, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan sent a letter to CEOs of tech companies after  a security vulnerability was discovered in open source software called Log4j that organizations around the world are using. to save data in their applications. 

In the letter, Sullivan noted that this open source software is widely used and maintained by volunteers and is a “major national security problem.” 

Thursday’s meeting, which will be hosted by the Deputy National Security Advisor for Information Technology and Emerging Technologies. discuss concerns about the security of open source software and how it can be improved, the White House said in a statement.

Other top tech companies in attendance at the meeting will include IBM (IBM.N), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) which owns Facebook and Oracle Corp (ORCL.N). Government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense and the Commerce Department, will also be in attendance.

Cybersecurity has been a top priority for the Biden administration after several major cyberattacks last year, which exposed thousands of records held by companies and government agencies to hackers.

One hack, which the U.S. government has said was likely orchestrated by Russia, breached software made by SolarWinds (SWI.N) and gave hackers access to thousands of companies and government offices that used its products. The hackers got access to emails at the U.S. Treasury, Justice and Commerce departments, and other agencies.

#sciencetechnology

AstraZeneca says third dose helps against Omicron

AstraZeneca vaccine
A test tube labelled with the Vaccine is seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

AstraZeneca said on Thursday that preliminary data from a trial showed that its COVID-19 shot, Vaxzevria, generated an increase in antibodies against the Omicron and other variants when given as a third booster dose.

The increased response, also against the Delta variant, was seen in a blood analysis of people who were previously vaccinated with either Vaxzevria or an mRNA vaccine, the drugmaker said, adding that it would submit this data to regulators worldwide given the urgent need for boosters.

AstraZeneca has developed the vaccine with researchers from the University of Oxford, and lab studies conducted by the university last month already found a three-dose course of Vaxzevria boosted antibody levels in the blood against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

The brief statement on Thursday, which did not include specific data, was the first by AstraZeneca on the protective potential of Vaxzevria as a booster shot following a two shot-course of either an mRNA based vaccine or Vaxzevria. Vaccines base on mRNA technology are made by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna.

The company said the findings “add to the growing body of evidence supporting Vaxzevria as a third dose booster irrespective of the primary vaccination schedules tested”.

The data on Vaxzevria’s potential as a booster came from a comparative analysis in a trial testing a redesigned vaccine which uses the vector technology behind Vaxzevria but targeting the now-superseded Beta variant. AstraZeneca is trying to show the Beta-specific vaccine has potential also against other variants and more trial data is expected during the first half of the year.

Separately, Oxford University and AstraZeneca last month started work on a vaccine specifically targeting Omicron though Astra – as well as other vaccine makers in similar development projects – have said it was not yet clear whether such an upgrade was needed.

A major British trial in December found that AstraZeneca’s shot increased antibodies when given as a booster after initial vaccination with its own shot or Pfizer’s, but that was before the explosive spread of the Omicron variant.

However, the study at the time concluded that mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna gave a biggest boost to antibodies when given as a third dose.

AstraZeneca and its contract manufacturing partners have supplied over 2.5 billion doses globally of its vaccine, even though it is not approved in the United States, while BioNTech-Pfizer have shipped about 2.6 billion doses.

Source: ARY News

#vaccine

Omicron May Infect Half of Europeans Within Weeks, WHO Says

Image Credit:CIPhotos via Getty Images


 More than half of Europe’s population could become infected with omicron within weeks at current transmission speeds, a World Health Organization official said.

The fast-spreading variant represents a “west-to-east tsunami sweeping  the region,” Hans Kluge, WHO regional director  for Europe, said in a briefing Tuesday. 

He cited  the Institute for  Metrics and Health Assessment forecast that most Europeans could take it within the next six to eight weeks.

The latest Covid  surge has  resulted in fewer symptomatic cases and lower death rates than in previous waves, fueling optimism that the pandemic may subside. 

However, the WHO has repeatedly warned against underestimating the Omicron strain as mild. Kluge said hospital admission rates are increasing. In Europe, it puts pressure on health systems. 

On the flip side, another WHO official said it was too early to consider  COVID-19 is entering an endemic phase, an issue the Spanish government has proposed to discuss. An endemic phase would see “stable spread of the virus at a predictable level”, but what we are currently seeing for 2022 is nowhere near that, “said Catherine Smallwood,  WHO Europe Chief Emergency Officer.” We still have great uncertainty. 

We still have a virus that evolves pretty quickly and brings new challenges, “he said.” We are certainly not at the point where we can call it endemic.

#vaccine

Microsoft Discovered New ‘Powerdir’ macOS Vulnerability, Fixed in 12.1 Update

Powerdir-exploit-macOs


This morning, Microsoft’s 365 Defender research team released details of a new macOS “Powerdir”  vulnerability that allows an attacker to bypass transparency, consent, and control technology to gain unauthorized access to protected data. 

Apple has already fixed vulnerability CVE-2021-30970  in the macOS Monterey 12.1 Update released in December, so users who have upgraded to the latest version of Monterey are protected. Those who haven’t should update. Apple in its Security Release Notes for Update 12.1  confirmed the vulnerability of TCC  and attributed its discovery to Microsoft.


According to Microsoft, the “Powerdir” security vulnerability could allow the installation of a fake TCC database. 

TCC is a long-lasting macOS feature that allows users to configure the privacy settings of their apps, and with the fake database, an attacker could hijack an app installed on a Mac or install their own malicious app by gaining access to the microphone and the camera to obtain confidential information. 

Microsoft has a detailed description of how the vulnerability works, and the company says  its security researchers continue to “monitor the threat landscape” for new vulnerabilities and attack techniques affecting macOS and other non-Windows devices.

“Software vendors like Apple, security researchers, and the larger security community, need to continuously work together to identify and fix vulnerabilities before attackers can take advantage of them,” wrote Microsoft’s security team.

#hacker

PSA: Redownload your Harry Potter e-books from Pottermore before they disappear for good

An email sent to customers warning them about the change.
 Image:Pottermore

If you’ve purchased Harry Potter eBooks from Pottermore, you may want to re-download your copies before the option is gone for good at the end of the month. The site sends an email to its customers to inform them that the books will no longer be available for a new download after January 31, since it was withdrawn from sale in September of last year.

When it launched  in 2012, Pottermore was the only official way to download digital copies of the Harry Potter books. Despite department stores like Amazon running promotions for  titles, which are among the best-selling books of all time, stores would route customers to Pottermore to finalize the sale (retailers like Amazon would have gotten a discount anyway. ).

But income of the e-books reportedly declined over the years, and in 2015 they have been made to be had at once from different online shops. Digitally better editions released on Apple’s e-books store in October 2015, and releases on different digital shops like Amazon accompanied later that year. Pottermore subsequently morphed into WizardingWorld.com in 2019.
Although the option to redownload current book purchases from Pottermore will disappear for appropriate on the quit of the month, it shouldn’t be too difficult to maintain on in your current virtual copy.
On Twitter, Ryan C. Gordon notes that current downloads include a DRM-free .epub document, that you must be capable of switch to any new e-readers withinside the future (aleven though you need to convert the .epub document to make it readable on a Kindle).
Just make certain to stash the document someplace secure in case you don’t need to pay once more for books you already very own withinside the future.


#reviews

Shazam launches Chrome Extension to identify what’s playing in any tab, but it’s broken for some [U]


Apple-owned Shazam has just released a Chrome Extension that works to identify what’s playing in your “Netflix or YouTube video, that Soundcloud mix or in a Twitch streamed video game,” but it doesn’t work for all users just yet. 

After installation, Shazam exists in the Chrome Extensions drop-down menu to the right of the address bar and can be pinned like the others to always be handy.
Tap the blue icon to open a rectangular pop-up asking for another “Click Shazam”. While listening, you are told “do not update or close this tab”. Once recognized, there is a shortcut to play the entire song in Apple Music (login required), while you can “get lyrics, music videos and more with just one click”. The plugin’s main page  has a drop-down menu to view your “Shazam Browser Song History”.
It is not possible to log into your Shazam account and sync the songs you previously identified on your phone. It would be very useful. The extension, according to reviews from the Chrome Web Store, was released in late 2021.

Shazam appears to have only announced its existence on the Android app update website and list.One reason why it could be that it does not work anyway for all users.

The Shazam extension, after testing on macOS and Chrome OS today, fails to find a match even after a minute. (No fail state is shown.) The same songs on YouTube and Soundcloud are quickly identified using the mobile application. That said, some users in the reviews say they have gotten it to work.


This extension compliments the Shazam Mac App, which was last updated in February of 2020. The Chrome offering might be the new desktop strategy moving forward as it offers wider reach.


#google

Samsung appears set to launch the Galaxy S22 on February 8

Image Credit:Letsgodigital

Samsung’s launch plans over the past two years have been unusual, but it looks like the company’s next flagship could be a return to normal. According to a new rumor, the Galaxy S22 launch date could be February 8.


Korean media outlet DDaily.co.kr reports that Samsung is planning a launch event for its Galaxy S22 series on February 8. The outlet claims that Samsung has “confirmed” the date with “Galaxy Unpacked 2022” to be held virtually online. 

Invitations would be sent out later this month, but it’s unclear whether there will be an in-person component for the launch, but MWC 2022 could open the door to in-person screenings later this month. 

To this day, MWC 2022 is still  to be held in person in Barcelona from February 28 to March 3. Apparently, pre-orders for the Galaxy S22, S22 +, and S22 Ultra will begin on February 9, with sales starting February 24. 

That’s about a month after the Galaxy S21 series debuted – that series arrived on January 29 for general sale. The Galaxy Tab S8 series is expected to arrive alongside the Galaxy S22, with three variants including a large Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.

#mobile

OnePlus 10 Pro finally launches in China with full specs and details

Renders of the OnePlus 10 Pro phone in Emerald Forest and Volcanic Black colors. The phone was officially revealed on January 11, 2022.(Photo:-OnePlus)

After giving details on its new flagship phone  last week, OnePlus has finally unveiled the OnePlus 10 Pro in China.

Even now, there are still a few things in the mystery, like the introductory price when it goes on sale in China on January 13 or when it is available elsewhere (OnePlus has  said it will only be launched globally. ‘in 2022). But what we do know is that with powerful specs and sharp cameras, the OnePlus 10 Pro could be one of the best phones to release in 2022.

These details OnePlus dropped up until now confirmed that the OnePlus 10 Pro would pack the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and run on the company’s OxygenOS 12 (based on Android 12), which folds in “feature-rich” parts of Oppo’s ColorOS for the first time. 


That’s still true and we now know the phone will pack the Snapdragon X65 modem, which supports more 5G networks, frequencies and bandwidths along with increasing the maximum download speeds to 10Gbps. While you probably won’t hit that cap with today’s carriers, the new X65 should provide faster and more consistent 5G speeds. The OnePlus 10 Pro also will have up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, which are the same specs as last year’s OnePlus 9 Pro.


The 6.7-inch OLED display is the same size as its predecessor’s. It has a maximum 120Hz refresh rate that makes browsing the internet or gaming very smooth, though it adaptively cranks the rate down to even 1Hz (or one frame per second) during low-demand tasks to save battery life. The phone comes in two colors: a seafoam

OnePlus has confirmed that its new phone will inherit last year’s rear camera setup, too: a 48-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel telephoto camera and a 50-megapixel ultrawide camera with a maximum 150-degree field of view. The 10 Pro will get an improved 32-megapixel camera, which should take sharper photos than the 16-megapixel selfie camera on its predecessor.


As the second generation of OnePlus phones to have Hasselblad-tuned-cameras, the OnePlus 10 Pro’s photo capabilities have been refined in a handful of ways. First is an improved Pro Mode that takes photos in 12-bit RAW+, a new format that combines the rich data capture of RAW with on-device image processing to give shots more accurate colors.
When taking more casual photos, all three rear cameras have 10-bit color for over 1 billion possible hues.

Hasselblad’s influence is also visible in Master Mode, which features three filters refined by professional photographers and artists that make shooting fashion, wildlife and urban spaces  more stylized and unique. For videos, the new Movie mode lets you change settings like ISO, shutter speed, and white balance even while recording for precise control over focus and lighting.

The 10 Pro’s 5,000mAh battery is the largest of a OnePlus flagship phone, but it’s the 80-watt wired charging that will set it apart from the competition.


The company claims it will bring the phone from 1% up to full charge in a very  32 specific minutes. The phone also supports wireless charging up to 50 watts, which will charge a  nearly dead phone in 47 minutes, OnePlus estimates.

 
On paper, the OnePlus 10 Pro appears to be a serious contender for the best phones in 2022, although it will have to wait until we can test it at an undetermined later date at a price not yet announced.

 

#mobile

Crypto CEO becomes one of the world’s richest billionaires

Zhao Changpeng has become the world’s biggest cryptocurrency billionaire(Image: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A cryptocurrency CEO has become one of the richest people on the planet.

Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, who manages the Binance cryptocurrency exchange, has joined the ranks of the world’s top billionaires, with an estimated net worth of at least $96 billion, according to new calculations from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index published Monday. 

Zhao’s predicted fortune now rivals that of Oracle founder (ORCL)  Larry Ellison and surpasses that of Mukesh Ambani, the Indian tycoon whose fortune has also skyrocketed in the past two years.

The rise of the Canadian-Chinese entrepreneur is emblematic of the rapid creation of wealth in the rapidly evolving world of digital currencies. 

Last year, other cryptocurrency founders also saw huge gains as the value of virtual coins rallied, with Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin and Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong both becoming billionaires.

Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX, another cryptocurrency exchange  backed by Binance, said on Tuesday  “unprecedented  wealth creation  in the industry in recent years.” 

I think there are a lot of people out there trying to figure out what to do with [that], ”said Friedman, who  is a young billionaire himself, in a live chat on stage at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong. 

On Twitter Monday, Zhao also appeared to acknowledge  the  distinction “Don’t worry about the ranking.

” Focus on how many people you can help, ”he wrote. 

A Binance spokesperson told CNN Business that “CZ intends to give up most of its wealth, even 99% of its wealth, along with other entrepreneurs and founders. 

In recent years, others Famous business leaders, such as Facebook CEO (FB)  Mark Zuckerberg,  signed the Giving Pledge, an initiative started by Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates to encourage the world’s richest to donate the majority of their fortune to charity. 

Zhao launched Binance in 2017, gradually turning it into one of the  largest cryptocurrency exchanges. 

According to a  blog post on the company, the executive grew up in an immigrant family in Canada and previously worked at McDonald’s to  support his family, and Bloomberg.

Zhao continued in another tweet on Tuesday, saying, “Unpopular Opinion: Instead of rankings of wealth, there should be a ranking of charitable and philanthropic efforts.

“He then learned about bitcoin in 2013 during a game of poker, after which he decided to go all-in on crypto by dedicating his life to it,” according to Binance. “He even sold his apartment to buy bitcoin.”

Like other exchanges, Binance has faced significant regulatory hurdles around the world in recent months, including a ban in the United Kingdom and other restrictions in countries including Canada.

Zhao has publicly addressed the setbacks, writing in an open letter last year that “clear regulations are critical for continued growth.”

“More regulations are, in fact, positive signs that an industry is maturing,” he added. “Because this sets the foundation for a broader population to feel safe to participate in crypto.

“He then learned about bitcoin in 2013 during a game of poker, after which he decided to go all-in on crypto by dedicating his life to it,” according to Binance. “He even sold his apartment to buy bitcoin.”

Like other exchanges, Binance has faced significant regulatory hurdles around the world in recent months, including a ban in the United Kingdom and other restrictions in countries including Canada.

Zhao has publicly addressed the setbacks, writing in an open letter last year that “clear regulations are critical for continued growth.”

“More regulations are, in fact, positive signs that an industry is maturing,” he added. “Because this sets the foundation for a broader population to feel safe to participate in crypto.”

#crypto

Apple implies it generated record revenue from the App Store during 2021

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California on Monday, June 4, 2018.
Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Apple said on Monday that it paid developers $60 billion in 2021, a total of $260 billion  since the App Store launched in 2008. This is a figure that suggests App Store sales continue to grow rapidly. 

By comparison, Apple said  it had paid developers a total of $155 billion in 2019 since the App Store launched in 2008.

 

And at the end of 2020, it said it had paid $200 billion, an increase of $ 45billion. Monday’s figures show a jump of $60 billion.


The statistic came as  part of a larger announcement from Apple intended to show momentum for its services business, which is an important signal for investors and analysts, who love to see Apple  making money not just by selling hardware, but also  selling services and applications to its customers, such as application downloads. 

Apple payments to developers accounts for  between 70% and 85% of Apple’s gross total  from its App Store, which absorbs between 15% and 30% of sales from digital purchases made in apps.

In the past, it was possible to roughly estimate total Apple App Store revenue by assuming developer payouts were 30% of  total Apple App Store sales. But, over the past year, the company has changed its pricing structure several times in response to regulators and legal challenges. 

Notably, in 2021, Apple introduced the Small Business program, which reduced commissions to 15% for developers earning less than $1 million per year. It is estimated that up to  98% of App Store developers fall into this category, but this is only a small fraction of total sales. Apple also introduced a  news apps program that would cut rates to 15% if they provided content to Apple News in August. 

For all developers, even Apple is only asking for 15% of the second year  subscription, instead of 30%.

 

#apple