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The Fat Bear Week contenders are here, and they're all impressively fat

Welcome to Fat Bear Week 2021! Katmai National Park and Preserve’s brown bears spent the summer gorging on 4,500-calorie salmon, and they've transformed into rotund giants, some over 1,000 pounds. The Alaskan park is holding its annual playoff-like competition for the fattest of the fat bears (you can vote online between Sept. 29 through Oct. 5). Mashable will be following all the ursine activity.

In a glorious celebration of wilderness, conservation, and animal success, Fat Bear Week has arrived in 2021.

Katmai National Park and Preserve announced on Monday the 12 filled-out brown bears participating in the online, playoff-style tournament this year. While all these fattened bears are true champions in their harsh natural realm, the contest has proven a brilliant way for people globally to appreciate the wonders of the wild — and the myriad benefits of conservation.

Katmai's bears, livestreamed on the webcams, exploited rich runs of sockeye salmon swimming up the park's Brooks River in 2021. The proof is in the pudding.

"They are pretty massive," Naomi Boak, the media ranger at Katmai National Park and Preserve who spent the summer observing the bears, told Mashable. "They are looking heavy."

"They are pretty massive."

The Fat Bear Week contest is particularly intriguing because many of the bears, having found repeated success in Katmai's salmon-rich rivers, return each summer. Park biologists and park bear experts learn the unique life stories of these bears. We know which fat bears are the most dominant, which mothers successfully raised many cubs, and which bears overcame life-threatening challenges to succeed.

For example, one of the veteran fat bear contenders, bear 480 "Otis," is a strong contender this year. At around a quarter-century in age and missing many teeth, he's perhaps the oldest bear of the river (and might be the most well-known bear on Earth for his steadfast salmon fishing on the cameras). Yet Otis made an unusually late July appearance at the river this year, leading some to worry if the old bear might not return at all.

He eventually did, looking gaunt. But he rapidly packed on the pounds.

"He's certainly made up for lost time," Mike Fitz, a former Katmai park ranger and currently a resident naturalist for, told Mashable. "He's gained an incredible amount of body mass in about seven weeks."

Below are the fat Katmai bears that will compete with Otis this year. Voting starts on Sept 29. on the website, and lasts through Oct. 5 (You can vote 12 p.m. to 9  p.m. ET / 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. PT). Also included are some images of these fattened-up bears. You can see and read about each contender on, too.

The 2021 Fat Bear Week bracket.
The 2021 Fat Bear Week bracket. Credit:
Bear 480 "Otis" fattened up impressively since late July.
Bear 480 "Otis" fattened up impressively since late July. Credit: N. Boak / C. Spencer / Nps
Bear 128 "Grazer" is a prime contender in the 2021 Fat Bear Week contest.
Bear 128 "Grazer" is a prime contender in the 2021 Fat Bear Week contest. Credit: L. Law / N. Boak / NPS

These aren't just really fat bears. They're almost certainly some of the largest, fattest, most successful brown bears on Earth. For much of their lives, and particularly in the last half-decade, these bears have continually feasted on bountiful salmon runs. Many of these bears hibernate with sufficient stores of fat, and then reemerge in good shape — and again begin feasting on salmon.

"I think we're seeing large healthy bears as a product of a healthy river for the last five years or so," explained Boak. "They were born into a river of plenty and they've benefited from that."

SEE ALSO: There's a new giant king of the fat bears

In this year's competition, all the fat bears will again have to reckon with last year's Fat Bear Week champ, bear 747. A past ranger described him as "more hippopotamus than bear." "He's the fattest and largest bear I've ever seen," the naturalist Fitz told Mashable last year. "I feel a special bit of privilege to witness a bear as big as he."

This year, it appears he's just as fat.

"747 looked like he was ready to hibernate in July," noted Boak.

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 8:49 pm

How to use Bumble, and is it better than Tinder?

Despite many new additions to the dating app landscape, Bumble continues to be one of the most popular apps with 40 million users as of February 2021. The app, known for its unique feature of only allowing women to message first, remains in close competition with Tinder as a "top" dating app. But how does Bumble work — and is it better than Tinder?

How does Bumble work

To create an account on Bumble, sign up with either your Facebook account or your phone number. From there, you create your profile: add photos, write a bio, share traits like astrology sign and exercise level, and answer prompts like "I'm a great +1 because."

Before using Bumble, you'll also want to set your match preferences. You can set "Date Filters" to determine age and location ranges, as well as whether you want to see men, women, or everyone (there's no specific option for non-binary or trans users).

With a free Bumble account, you can set two out of 11 "Advanced Filters" and sift out users based on other factors like lifestyle (such as drinking or smoking) or what they're looking for (like something casual or a relationship). You can set as many Advanced Filters as you want with a Premium account.

Here are the in-app prices listed for Bumble Premium subscriptions:

  • 1 week at $19.99

  • 1 month at $39.99

  • 3 months at $76.99

  • Lifetime for $229.99

Alternatively, there's Bumble Boost, which is a bit cheaper. In-app prices are:

  • 1 week at $8.99

  • 1 month at $16.99

  • 3 months at 33.99

  • 6 months at $54.99

With Bumble Boost, users can backtrack (reverse a left swipe); extend time on matches for an additional 24 hours; receive unlimited swipes, one Spotlight per week (putting your profile at the top of the swiping "stack"), and five SuperSwipes a week (letting a potential match know beforehand that you want to match).

Premium members receive all those perks, plus unlimited Advanced Filters; the ability to rematch with expired matches; Travel Mode (swipe anywhere you want to); and seeing everyone who's already liked you (aka your Beeline).

Possible traits to include in a Bumble profile.
Credit: screenshot: bumble
Gender, age, and location preferences on Bumble.
Credit: screenshot: bumble

After completing your profile and preferences, it's time to swipe. Bumble is similar to Tinder: swipe left to dislike, right to like. Scroll down to view more of a viewer's profile. Bumble doesn't give a specific number of swipes free accounts have per day, but if the app notices you're on a frenzy, they'll limit your swipes for 24 hours.

As noted earlier, Bumble has a unique feature that only allows women to message first (unless you're a man messaging another man). If you're wondering, "How does Bumble work for women?" it's simple.

If you're a woman, you have 24 hours to respond to a match, or else it disappears — barring your one extension per day on a free account. Once you message, it's in your match's hands. If they don't message back within 24 hours, the match expires too. Should both of you message, the match won't go away unless you manually report or unmatch the other person.

You don't have to use Bumble to date ("Bumble Date"), however. There's Bumble BFF, for those looking for platonic relationships, and Bumble Bizz, a networking offshoot. The UX is similar, where you swipe to match with users. Users can only choose one setting at a time, though.

Is Bumble better than Tinder?

Given Tinder's less than stellar reputation, one may ask whether Bumble is the better option. Their interface is similar, so if you don't like swiping, neither Tinder nor Bumble is the dating app for you.

If you don't mind swiping but you do mind men sending appalling first messages, though, give Bumble a shot. Still, Bumble's 24 hour rule on both sides can be daunting. Sometimes you may not be in the mood to chat right away, or you may be swiping during a work break and forget to check back in. Tinder doesn't have time restraints.

Tinder also doesn't have alternative services like Bumble BFF or Bizz. If you're already in a relationship but looking for a different kind of connection, Bumble is your best bet.

There's also chatter about the "types" of people you'd find Tinder versus Bumble, like that users on the latter are more serious than those on the former. Given that Tinder has resulted in long-term relationships and marriages — and so has Bumble — I don't take stock in those assumptions. In 2021, people are on all types of dating apps for all different reasons; the specific app may not matter.

Users on Bumble may be looking for marriage — or something less serious.
Users on Bumble may be looking for marriage — or something less serious. Credit: vicky leta / mashable

What are the pros and cons to Bumble?


  • Bumble is free to use (but some features — like seeing who already liked you — are only available for Premium users)

  • Women message first — this can be a pro or con, depending on how you look at it

  • Matches must match each other within 24 hours — a pro if you want to avoid flakes

  • Bumble has a lot of filter options about lifestyle and interests (though you can only set two unless you're a Premium user)

  • Bumble has fun prompts to answer to get to know your match better

  • Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz make it possible to either make friends or add to your professional network on the app


  • One month of Bumble Boost runs you $16.99 according to in-app price numbers, whereas Tinder has several subscription tiers beginning at $4.99 a month

  • Men can't message first, unless they're matching with other men

  • Matches disappear if both people don't message within 24 hours, unless free members use their one extension/day or members have Boost or Premium accounts

  • Bumble has many gender options in profiles, but only allows search for men, women, or both

  • You can only use one mode of Bumble (Date, BFF, or Bizz) at a time

SEE ALSO: 5 things you can't do on Bumble

How does Bumble work for men and women? What about queer folks?

For straight people, women must message their matches first.

If you're not straight, Bumble works a little differently. If you're a woman looking for another woman, for example, either of you can message first (though the 24 hour limit for both people still applies). The same goes for men looking for other men. If you're a man looking for both men and women, you're able to message a man first but not a woman.

If you're non-binary, Bumble will prompt you to select whether you want to be shown to people looking for women or men. This isn't the most inclusive, and a downside of the app (though, in fairness, Tinder also only allows search for men and women).

Bumble is a popular dating app that, like any, has its advantages and disadvantages. The only way to see if the "buzz" is worth it is to try it out for yourself.

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 6:00 pm

iOS 15 elevates Apple Maps with 3D graphics

London, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco are practically glowing in the updated Apple Maps app.

With iOS 15 released earlier this month, those cities got a 3D update with major landmarks digitally reconstructed in vivid, eye-popping detail. Coit Tower, Dodger Stadium, the Statue of Liberty, and Royal Albert Hall are some of the stand-out sites that almost jump out of the screen as you look through each cityscape.

At night those structures (and others) glow on the iPhone screen once it's dusk IRL. Below, the Statue of Liberty is lit-up against the dark nighttime background.

The Statue of Liberty glows at night on the maps app.
The Statue of Liberty glows at night on the maps app. Credit: APPLE

It's not just famous views with the 3D treatment. Other parts of the cities are shown with similar realistic detail such as city centers, marinas, waterfronts, and everyday office buildings.

Later this year, the 3D views will expand to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and San Diego. Next year Canada will have its moment with the more detailed map coming to Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

SEE ALSO: 11 best apps for going on a road trip

The new look in Maps is available with the iOS 15 update. When using the app for driving directions, road details with the new 3D look are also live.

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 5:53 pm

The Galaxy Watch 4 is really nice. I'm not sure I need it.

To properly review the Galaxy Watch 4, first I have to tell you about my ice maker.

Bear with me.

As a New Yorker for the better part of a decade, I've never had a fridge with an ice machine, even though I love ice. My two hands have been my ice machine all this time. But filling ice trays sucks, and I've done it more than most because I drink an inhuman amount of homemade iced coffee and I love a good cocktail.

A few weeks back, I finally put in an hour of research and spent around $200 on a top-loading ice maker. There were cheaper options but, crucially, this model churned out the Good Ice — you know, the square, crunchable variety you'd find in Starbucks or restaurants. Now as I type, I'm sipping on a tall iced coffee, crunching cubes as I go. The ice maker whirls on.

What I'm saying is: I spent $200 to make my life appreciably better. I see obvious value added.

I just didn't have any concrete value added from inserting the Galaxy Watch 4 into my life. That's not to say it isn't a good product. It is. And I could see others loving it, but that doesn't mean I'd make it a permanent fixture in my life. To stick with the Good Ice metaphor, some people might really love the biometric fitness data from the Galaxy Watch 4. They might enjoy having their full body composition tracked in all its minutiae and their blood oxygen levels up to the instant. They might need to have every text jump onto their wrist. That could be Good Ice, it just isn't for me.

Let me break it down.

The basics

Before we get into everything else, here are the bare minimum details about the Galaxy Watch 4.

  • Costs $249. For comparison's sake, Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399.

  • Battery life of 40 hours, which I found to hold true.

  • Runs Wear OS

  • Comes in black, silver, pink gold, and green with multiple different band options.

Fitness and health

I do a fair bit of fitness coverage here at Mashable, so I was interested in test driving the Galaxy Watch's fitness features. It has the bells and whistles you'd expect. It tracks steps, active minutes, and calorie output. If you've long wanted the experience of "closing your rings" — the daily badge of honor you earn by completing the basic Apple Watch fitness goals — but wanted an Android option, then you've got what you need.

Like any good smart tracker, it registers workouts automatically, which is ideal for someone like me. I run every day and I can hardly remember to fire up the Nike Run Club app, let alone start a workout on my watch. After going for a bit, it would give me the option to track the workout manually but, typically speaking, I think the watch did well at keeping tabs on my workouts without my input. It even did a nice job auto-registering particularly brisk, long walks or cycling trips.

You can use the watch for a whole host of other health-related initiatives, including sleep tracking, body composition, and stress levels, which, sorry, feels kind of stressful. Looking down at my wrist to see how stressed I was felt kind of dystopian, but if you want to track all your vitals, all the time, well, you're able to do that. You're also able to measure your body composition, track your heart rate, and, outside the U.S., measure your blood pressure.

I did not sleep with the watch on, mostly because I struggle mightily with sleeping already and a wholeass watch isn't exactly comfy. The watch is pretty slick and not super cumbersome to wear, but it feels like...a relatively heavy watch. There's a reason watches aren't traditionally sleepwear. Until recently, watches have never been pitched as 24-hour wearables. They serve a purpose, but aren't a constant companion.

The watch does a good job of auto-detecting workouts.
The watch does a good job of auto-detecting workouts. Credit: samsung

In truth, that fact hints at why I prefer my super basic Fitbit Inspire 2. It gives me only what I need. While workout trackers, and smartwatches, are getting more and more accurate, they're far from gospel. So I prefer to use any fitness tracker, or smartwatch, data as a baseline. I compare that data only to itself, instead of thinking it's 100 percent accurate. I think it's nice to have a logbook of your workouts, but I find it detrimental to have a minute-by-minute digital tome to obsess over. I don't want, or frankly need, a constant read on everything my body is doing. I don't want to see my heart rate elevate then stress about an elevated heart rate then see my stress levels boost on the watch and then...

Samsung's watch can give you a ton of data and that's really cool. It might make someone super happy, but similar to why I didn't love the Whoop Fitness Tracker, the Watch 4 can feel like too much. And I don't think I'd want to pay the extra cash for a top of the line product in order to feel inundated.

Everyday use

One of the obvious selling points of any smartwatch is having an extension of your phone and computer on your wrist.

In that sense, the Galaxy Watch 4 succeeds. It's effectively the first watch that merges Samsung and Google after the two company's merged their respective smartwatch operating systems. I paired the watch with an Android phone and, frankly could use it for most tasks. I sent texts, checked work messages, peeked at emails. The whole deal.

A test text conversation from my watch.
A test text conversation from my watch. Credit: mashable / tim Marcin

I appreciated the Galaxy Watch 4 has a full keyboard to tap out easy texts and a relatively effective dictation option for longer messages. However, if you're an iPhone user who wants a Galaxy Watch 4, then you're out of luck. The device will not pair with an iPhone.

The apps on the Galaxy Watch are relatively easy to use and navigate to. Just swipe up and you're taken to a page of apps that you can rearrange however you prefer. If you use your watch often for directions, you'll want to put Google Maps in an easy-to-find spot. If you love working out, place your running app prominently. Working the watch is a simple process that'll feel familiar for Android users and wasn't too tough to navigate for a longtime iPhone user like your's truly.

The app page on my watch.
The app page on my watch. Credit: mashable / tim marcin

If you're an Android diehard who's long wanted a smartwatch but has held off, this makes the Galaxy Watch4 a good purchase. It works well and does pretty much everything most people actually use the Apple Watch for.

In short: It's a good smartwatch. There's nothing I found to be downright bad.

I think I would've liked the watch more in like 2019, when the world was more normal. But I work from home now, I am no longer commuting via the subway, I don't go out much, my life isn't all that busy. I do not have much of a need to quickly check texts or emails on my wrist. I have all the time in the world, let alone enough time to glance at my phone.

The tool I used the most? Samsung Pay, which is not new but still, it works great. It really was incredibly simple. Just hold down a button on the side of the watch and, bang, you're paying. I found myself using it at most of my usual haunts instead of laboring into my pocket for a debit card or a phone checkout.

Looks and feel

The Watch 4 is sharp. Note: I tested the Watch 4, not the Watch 4 Classic, which has nearly identical features but is made of stainless steel and not aluminum. The Watch 4 has a relatively thin, round face with just two physical buttons. I tested an all black model, but it comes in black, silver, pink gold, and green. The Apple Watch might be a tiny bit cleaner looking — and it has some interesting colors — but that's splitting hairs about matters of taste. At a glance, the Watch 4 looks like a normal watch, and the Apple Watch looks like, well, an Apple Watch.

The watch, actually on my wrist.
The watch, actually on my wrist. Credit: mashable / tim marcin

The Watch 4 strap is comfortable enough — the standard strap offering from Samsung was fine. It's not too heavy to wear and the watch fit alright on my wrist. At times it felt a tad loose and clunky but I've never been a regular watch wearer — so I'd chalk it up to dealing with a new sensation.

You can choose any number of displays on the watch face. I opted for one that focused on fitness stats, since I have a long-running appreciation for my Fitbit.

Different color straps and watches.
Different color straps and watches. Credit: Samsung

Still, if I were choosing something solely for looks and telling time, I'd have a hard time saying it looks better than old fashioned watches.


The Galaxy Watch4 is a good smartwatch. I can't think of anything that, during my weeks-long test period, made me think it was a bad product. It delivered on most of what it promised.

But I was left wondering what it added to my life. A great piece of tech — or any great purchase like, say, an ice maker — should markedly improve your daily existence. The fitness tracking was good, but I prefer my Fitbit. It made my messages accessible on my wrist, but I don't need that. It looks fine, but I could find a better looking regular watch. I liked Samsung Pay on my wrist, but not enough to cough up a few hundred bucks. When I make an iced coffee, I look down at my drink and feel so happy I have limitless Good Ice. When I checked a text on the Galaxy Watch 4, I'd think it was neat, then probably pull out my phone anyway.

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 5:45 pm

HP ZBook Studio G8 Review: Rock Solid Performance, Painful Price Tag

HP’s ZBook lineup — which encompasses the lightweight ZBook Firefly, the affordable ZBook Power, the powerful ZBook Fury, and the best-of-all-worlds ZBook Studio brands — doesn’t attract a lot of attention. As a mobile workstation-class device, the ZBook Studio is not as flashy as most gaming laptops or as affordable as most “creator” laptops, but in many ways, it’s better than both.

In the parlance of the tech nerd, the HP ZBook Studio G8 is a “mobile workstation.” On the hardware side, that typically means that you’re getting a Xeon processor, error-correcting (ECC) RAM, and an A-series or Quadro graphics card, paired with some sort of reliability testing (MIL-SPEC or MIL-STD), software certifications from major developers like Adobe, and an extended warranty. All of this usually comes attached to a price so high you’ll get altitude sickness if you stare at it for too long.

We don’t normally review mobile workstations on PetaPixel because the price increase associated with things like ECC memory and an enterprise GPU doesn’t translate into a measurable performance gain for photo and video editing, but HP did something interesting with the ZBook Studio G8: the company sort of split the difference.

The Studio G8 doesn’t use ECC memory or an Intel Xeon CPU, and it can be configured with a normal GeForce RTX 30-series GPU, but it still comes with all the other workstation perks. In other words: it offers the same performance as a high-end gaming laptop and the same sleek, professional design as a high-end consumer laptop, with better build quality, guaranteed reliability, and a longer warranty than either of the other categories. As a result, it comes in a little cheaper than similar options from, say, the Dell Precision lineup.

That’s not to say it’s cheap. The model HP sent us for review still costs an eye-watering $4,400:

Even if you downgrade some of the components, you’re still going to spend a lot of money. We actually asked the folks at HP to send us “Good, Better, Best” configuration options that they would recommend, and the most affordable of the bunch will still run you almost $2,800:

But that’s not to say that the price isn’t justified, or at least justifiable. From design to usability to raw performance, this laptop is fantastic. It’s just important to set expectations from the get-go: We’re not talking about a budget laptop today. We’re not even talking about a semi-affordable laptop. We’re talking about a mobile workstation that charges a substantial premium in exchange for professional-grade reliability and guaranteed performance.

If paying a $1,000 premium for MIL-STD reliability testing, software certifications, and an extended warranty sounds crazy to you, then a mobile workstation is the wrong choice and there’s no reason to read on. However, if that sounds like a reasonable investment and you like the fact that HP isn’t forcing you to throw additional money away on certain enterprise-grade specs you don’t want or need, then read on, because the HP ZBook Studio G8 turns out to be an excellent laptop for creative professionals.

Design and Build

There are only a few laptops that can compete with the likes of Apple and Razer when it comes to chassis design, but the HP ZBook Studio G8 is right up there with the best. The magnesium-and-aluminum alloy chassis is as rigid as a tank, extremely thin, and carved into a sharp design language that I loved from the moment I set eyes on this laptop.

Build quality really is top-notch. HP’s workstation-grade “Z” devices all undergo MIL-STD-810 testing, ensuring a level of reliability that surpasses anything you can expect from a standard consumer laptop. The MIL-STD-810 standard includes a suite of tests that check for resistance against vibration, dust, sand, humidity, altitude, drops, temperature shock, and even a “Freeze/Thaw” test.

Adding to the laptop’s reliability quotient is a three-year warranty direct from the manufacturer, a perk that usually costs extra (if it’s available at all) when you buy a consumer laptop.

Crack the ZBook Studio G8 open, and you’ll reveal an excellent keyboard that combines a satisfying click with a good amount of travel, zero mush, and per-key RGB lighting that gives the laptop just a little bit of gaming flare. The lighting is controlled by HP’s “OMEN” dashboard, and it’s a fun touch on an otherwise very professional-looking laptop.

This is accompanied by a slick, glass-topped trackpad that provides a precise and extremely well-optimized experience that can compete with the best-of-the-best. Because the speaker grill is positioned above the keyboard, the trackpad isn’t quite as big as the ones you’ll find on the latest Apple and Dell computers, but it was plenty big enough for me.

Port selection is solid, with only a little room for improvement. On the left side of the machine is an audio-combo jack, a USB Type-A port, and a Kensington lock; on the right side, you’ll find a sealable SD card slot, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4 port that’s connected directly to the GPU, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports that can carry 40Gbps of data, power, and a display signal.

My gripes are minimal. Mainly, I was annoyed that the Thunderbolt 4 ports are connected directly to the iGPU with no way to re-route that signal in the BIOS (this is according to HP). As a result, anyone using a high-end 4K external display will want to use the Mini DisplayPort for true 10-bit color or high refresh-rate gaming.

For that reason alone, I really wish that HP had included an HDMI 2.1 port in this configuration instead of the MiniDP port. None of the monitors I’ve ever reviewed came with a MiniDP to DP 1.4 cable in the box, wihch forces me to buy a new cable in order to get full performance out of the ASUS ProArt PA32UCG I was using when I reviewed this laptop and eliminates the option of using this as a “single-cable” setup with Thunderbolt providing data, display, and power.

Fortunately, the included display is more than good enough to do professional creative work. The model we’re testing includes a touch-enabled 4K AMOLED screen that was able to hit well over 100% sRGB, 99.9% DCI-P3, and 91.6% Adobe RGB with an excellent Delta E of less than 2 and a maximum brightness of ~400 nits.

If OLED isn’t your thing, the ZBook Studio G8 is also available with a 4K 120Hz “HP DreamColor” LCD display with an advertised peak brightness of 600 nits and 100% coverage of DCI-P3, or an even more affordable Full HD model that promises 100% coverage of sRGB.

It’s nice to see a manufacturer offer both a 4K LCD and a 4K OLED option with identical gamut coverage, as well as a more affordable (but still acceptable) Full HD option. If you’re sold on the peace of mind of a mobile workstation but hate the price tag it carries, the lower-end screen option opens the door to get creative with your configuration, especially if you plan to use an external display much of the time.

As for our 4K OLED unit, you can see the results from our DisplayCAL tests below:

The HP ZBook G8 covers 99.9% of DCI-P3 (left) and well over 100% of sRGB (right).

If there’s a big downside to the high-res screen on our model it’s probably battery performance, which is decidedly middle of the road.

As with other high-performance notebooks, the ZBook Studio’s 83WHr battery can’t support the computer’s full 110W TDP (30W to the CPU, 80W to the GPU), and when you’re pushing the computer to its battery-powered performance limit, you can expect no more than about two hours of intense photo editing. In a more reasonable, battery saver or balanced mode, I was able to get about six hours of use for writing, occasional content consumption, and light photo editing, but don’t expect this laptop to compete with something that’s powered by AMD.

Overall, I found a lot to love and very little to complain about when it comes to the design and build quality of the ZBook Studio G8. It’s an excellent laptop that felt like a little piece of military equipment with just enough design flare. The excellent keyboard and trackpad, the professional-grade display, and the dual Thunderbolt 4 ports all make it a solid contender for serious creative work.

Photo Editing Performance

Given the extremely thin design, I was skeptical that the HP would be able to squeeze every ounce of performance out of its Core i9-11950H and NVIDIA RTX 3070. I was only kind of right. In most of our benchmarks, the ZBook couldn’t quite out-perform the latest Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which technically uses an ever-so-slightly slower Core i9-11900H, but the thinner ZBook Studio was still able to churn out top-shelf performance numbers.

Whether you’re running Photoshop, Lightroom, or Capture One, you can expect the Studio G8 to fly through most photo and video editing tasks with ease, all while staying remarkably quiet compared to some of the gaming laptops I’ve tested.

For our comparisons today, we’re showing the results from the HP side-by-side with the same tests run on an M1 iMac, an AMD-powered ASUS Zephyrus G14, and the aforementioned Blade 15 Advanced. Full specs below:

Lightroom Classic

In our standard import and export tests, the ZBook clocked in a tiny bit slower than the Razer Blade, but faster than our other test machines. As a reminder, these tests consist of importing 110 61-megapixel Sony a7R IV and 150 100-megapixel PhaseOne XF RAW files, generating 1:1 (Lightroom Classic) or 2560px (Capture One Pro) previews, applying a custom-made preset with heavy global edits, and then exporting those same files as 100% JPEGs and 16-bit TIFFs.

You can see the results for Lightroom Classic below:

Capture One Pro

The story is even better in Capture One, where the computer’s RTX 3070 finally gets to flex its muscle.

As we’ve mentioned in several of our past reviews, Lightroom does not use any sort of GPU acceleration during import or export, relying exclusively on the performance of your CPU and RAM to generate the numbers you see above. However, Capture One does take advantage of the GPU, so when it comes time to export the heavily-edited Sony a7R IV and Phase One XF variants in C1, the HP ZBook Studio G8 was able to close the gap with the Blade and trade blows at the top of the pack.

The results are essentially a wash between the three PCs, all of which benefit from NVIDIA RTX 30 series GPUs, with the M1 iMac falling way behind:


Finally, we ran our usual Photoshop test: Puget Systems‘ industry-standard PugetBench benchmark.

PugetBench assigns an Overall and four Category scores after timing a wide variety of tasks including basic stuff like loading, saving, and resizing a large .psd, GPU-accelerated filters like Smart Sharpen and Field Blur, and heavily RAM-dependent tasks like Photo Merge. As we have in the past, we ran version 0.8 of this particular benchmark, because it was the last version to include a Photo Merge test.

As you can see, the powerful GPU, 32GB of 3200MHz RAM, and the NVIDIA RTX 3070 GPU come together to put up impressive numbers in every category tested:

Performance Takeaways

There’s no questioning the HP ZBook Studio G8’s performance chops. Is it the most powerful laptop money can buy? Definitely not. HP’s own ZBook Fury lineup, the Alienware x17, and the Lenovo Legion 7i (to name a few) can all be configured with more powerful (and power-hungry) CPU/GPU combinations that would no-doubt outperform the ZBook Studio. However, it’s awesome to see this kind of performance across the board from such a thin device.

This is seriously impressive photo editing performance packed inside of a chassis that’s thinner than we previously thought possible for an Intel-based workstation.

Excellent Design, Great Performance, Painful Price Tag

If you can stomach the price, the HP ZBook Studio G8 is a phenomenal laptop for photo and video editors who want great performance paired with guaranteed reliability. That latter point really matters to working pros, who often opt for high-end gaming laptops with less-than-ideal build quality and lower-quality displays in order to achieve this kind of performance.

However, even when you understand the benefits, the Studio G8’s price is really hard to swallow. The variant I tested here costs about $1,000 more than you would spend on an (already expensive) Razer Blade 15 Advanced with basically the same core specs, a more powerful GPU, faster PCIe Gen 4 storage, and a next-gen OLED display that covers 100% of both DCI-P3 and AdobeRGB.

You really have to value those un-sexy mobile workstation perks if you’re going to justify that kind of price hike.


  • Excellent performance
  • Thin, light, rugged design
  • Fantastic trackpad and keyboard
  • Multiple color-accurate display options
  • Solid port selection with two Thunderbolt 4 ports and an SD card slot
  • MIL-STD-810 tested
  • 3-year warranty included


  • No HDMI port
  • SSD is PCIe 3.0, not 4.0
  • RAM is not upgradable
  • Sky high price

I hate to spend so much time addressing a computer’s price since a lot more goes into judging the real-world value of a computer than the cost of its components, so in most cases, I’ll focus on performance and usability and leave the economic calculus to individual readers who have individual budgets and don’t give an individual damn whether I think a laptop is “reasonably priced.”

However, “mobile workstations” like the ZBook Studio G8 exist in a different economic reality, and it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of that reality before you either a) spend way too much on a laptop you don’t need, or b) ignore features and benefits that could make the laptop worth every last penny.

For me, a well-built consumer laptop is reliable enough. I simply don’t use my computers hard enough to justify the price jump and there are some really fantastic options out there. But if you’re a professional photographer or video editor who needs a well-rounded, rock-solid machine that will go with you everywhere for the next three to five years, the HP ZBook Studio G8 is worth a very close look. It’s cheaper than many of its direct competitors in the workstation-class, gives you a wider variety of configurations to choose from, and it churns out better performance than we expected from something so sleek.

Are There Alternatives?

Several major laptop makers have a workstation brand that offers similar benefits to the ZBook Studio. The most popular are probably Lenovo’s ThinkPads and Dell’s Precision lineup. As I mentioned earlier, these laptops usually swap NVIDIA’s GeForce graphics for a mobile Quadro or A-series GPU, sometimes they use error-correcting “ECC” RAM, and often they include longer warranties, the aforementioned military-grade certifications, and displays that put an emphasis on color and/or battery life over speed and/or gaming performance.

For photographers, we’d recommend avoiding anything with ECC memory, an Intel Xeon processor, or an A-series/Quadro card, simply because these upgrades tend to increase the price significantly without adding much to real-world photo and even video editing performance. An 11th-gen Core i7 or Core i9 CPU, DDR4 RAM and a GeForce RTX 30 series GPU is just fine. Instead, if you’re interested in a mobile workstation, focus more on features like a solid manufacturer warranty, standardized reliability testing, and a killer LCD or OLED display with close-to-100% coverage of either AdobeRGB or DCI-P3.

Many of HP’s ZBook-branded laptops, Dell’s Precision laptops, and several of Lenovo’s ThinkPad models trade blows here in a variety of price brackets and configurations, depending on the kind of CPU, GPU, and display performance you need.

If you’re not interested in a mobile workstation, you can find similar performance and solid build quality for a lot less money by purchasing a high-quality consumer or gaming laptop like the Dell XPS 15/17, the Razer Blade 15 Advanced and Razer Blade 17, or the ASUS Zephyrus G14/G15 (just to name a few). You’ll get a lot more performance-bang-for-your-buck by going with a “consumer” or “creator” laptop vs a proper “mobile workstation,” just be aware of what you’re giving up.

Should You Buy It


The caveats above apply, but other than a few minor gripes that I mention above, I cannot fault this laptop. For creatives, it’s a workhorse. The ZBook Studio G8 delivered a lot more “umph” than I expected from such a thin and light chassis while staying relatively quiet, it looks and feels great, and it offers a good variety of configuration options that help you dial in a ratio of price-to-performance that works for you.

It’s ultimately up to you to decide if the un-glamorous benefits of a mobile workstation are worth the inflated price tag. But if they are, then I have no qualms recommending this laptop.

from Reviews – PetaPixel

Source: TechCrunch | 27 Sep 2021 | 5:40 pm

Facebook announces $50 million distraction as it plots its metaverse

Because Facebook can't earn the public's trust, it's trying to buy it.

The company that earlier this month compared its effect on the world to deadly car crashes announced Monday that its next big venture, building the metaverse, will be done "responsibly." And, in case anyone has any doubts that the juggernaut that automated discrimination could accomplish such a feat, Facebook promised to throw $50 million at the endeavor.

"The metaverse won't be built overnight by a single company," reads a Facebook press release from Andrew Bosworth, the vice president of Facebook Reality Labs, and Nick Clegg, the vice president of Facebook Global Affairs. "We're announcing a $50 million investment in global research and program partners to ensure these products are developed responsibly."

Those partners, according to the press release, include the Organization of American States, and Women In Immersive Tech, among others.

The metaverse, a proposed virtual space where people can interact in various ill-defined ways, is more dystopian dream than reality at present. Even so, Facebook sees it as the next big thing and wants to get in on the ground floor.

"Just like the internet, the metaverse exists whether Facebook is there or not," continues the press release. "Through this fund, we'll collaborate with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, nonprofits and academic institutions to determine how to build these technologies responsibly."

This is not the first time Facebook has promised to be more responsible. Perhaps top of mind, in 2020 the company announced what it dubbed an Oversight Board. The follow-through, however, hasn't exactly inspired confidence.

In 2018, amid numerous privacy-related scandals, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg insisted that while the company "didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility," it still had "a responsibility to keep moving forward."

And just like in 2018, when Facebook leaked private photos and changed the privacy settings on users' posts, the company's latest promise to develop the metaverse responsibly rings a tad hollow.

SEE ALSO: Instagram boss says social media is like cars: People are going to die

No amount on money — certainly not $50 million from a $1 trillion company — is going to change that.

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 5:09 pm

Get a leg up on holiday travel with this to-go tech

You Got This is a series that spotlights the gear you need to improve one area of your life. If you buy something from this post, we may earn an affiliate commission. 

Cooler days and chilly nights are on the way — yes, fall is finally coming. So, let’s talk about holiday travel. Everyone who couldn’t make it home last year is going to want to go home this year, and things might get hectic. It’s a really good idea to get your ticket now — it’ll be way cheaper — and to load up on these Lenovo tech essentials for more mellow holiday travels.

Forget the key under the doormat

If someone will be feeding your fish while you’re away, this WiFi smart lock is a cinch to mount and lets you unlock and re-lock your door from anywhere using your phone. Give friends a virtual guest key, and they can let themselves in with the app, too.

August Wi-Fi Smart Lock (4th Gen) - Matte Black ($199.99)
Credit: Lenovo

Pack smart and carry on

Who wants to pay checked-baggage fees? Nobody. This can-do carry-on fits two days of clothing and three pairs of sneakers, with a padded compartment for your 13-inch laptop. It also sails through the airport with its nimble four-wheel setup.

Sandy Lisa Malibu - spinner ($81.99, normally $169.99)
Credit: Lenovo

Keep track of your stuff

You’re dashing through the station and it hits you — you left your tablet somewhere. Quell your panic by putting a Bluetooth sticker on all your devices. Use the Tile app to locate them lickety-split and still make your train.

Tile Sticker (2020) - 2 Pack, Bluetooth Tracker ($39.99)
Credit: Lenovo

Upgrade to a first-class screen

Crammed into coach? Your entertainment setup can still be VIP. This slick tablet delivers stunning 2K resolution on an 11-inch TDDI IPS display and gets up to 15 hours of play. Use the stand and kick back, or use the keyboard to get some work done.

Tab P11 ($279.99)
Credit: Lenovo

Tune out the kids in front of you

Sometimes earbuds don’t cut it. These over-the-ear headphones with active noise canceling (ANC) technology are exactly what you need to block out the world and focus on your in-flight movie. Plush silicone leather is super comfy for the long haul.

Lenovo Yoga ANC Headphones ($79.99, normally $149.99)
Credit: Lenovo

Binge-watch until touchdown

Running low on juice with no AC outlet in sight? This potent power bank will recharge your phone, so you can keep streaming until the wheels touch the tarmac. The USB-C charges lightning-fast and the built-in stand is a nice perk.

Pack lightly with a powerful laptop

A lightweight laptop can be a lifesaver when you're schlepping your stuff from terminal to terminal to make that connecting flight. Save yourself (and your back) some pain: the ThinkPad X1 Nano is the lightest ThinkPad ever, but it doesn't skimp on power.

Take your dual-monitor setup with you

Fret not if you need two screens while on-the-go. This portable monitor is light, adjustable, and travel-friendly. Just plug it into your laptop, and you have an instant second monitor for work — or a 14-inch upgrade for streaming at grandma’s house.

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 5:08 pm

Researchers broke the Guinness World Record for the whitest paint ever — Future Blink

Purdue University researchers made the whitest paint on record, with the aim of best reflecting sunlight.

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 3:43 pm

Ford to replace windshield, re-glue glass roof on Mustang Mach-E

Ford Mustang Mach-E owners should take in their cars to fix a dangerous issue with the windshields and panoramic glass roofs in the new electric vehicles.

There are two new recalls for the EV from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because of issues with how the windshield and glass roof are attached. There is a detachment risk for both parts, especially during a crash. You might notice wind noises and water leaks on faulty windshields and roofs.

According to letters from NHTSA to Ford about the recalls, the windshields in as many as 17,692 Mach-E vehicles that were made between Feb. 24, 2020 and June 18, 2021 have been recalled. Ford first flagged the defects on Sept. 14.

Vehicles from that same time period in as many as 13,544 cars also may have a badly attached, or bonded, glass roof. The roof could separate from the car while driving.

Cars sold in both Europe and North America are recalled, according to the Detroit Free Press.

That panoramic roof on the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E doesn't look quite so inviting now.
That panoramic roof on the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E doesn't look quite so inviting now. Credit: FORD / James Lipman

Ford will notify owners at the end of October about the recall and provide more info on a fix for nearly all Mach-Es sold since the vehicle's late 2020 arrival. Ford will advise owners to take their car to a Ford or Lincoln dealer to have the windshield removed and reinstalled at no cost. For the roof, Ford will add more urethane adhesive to make sure the glass is bonded to the car properly.

SEE ALSO: Take a sneak peek at Ford F-150 Lightning’s flashy dashboard screen

The official recall notices are on the NHTSA website with more information for owners. So far, there haven't been any injuries or deaths. We reached out to Ford for more details about the recalls, but haven't heard back yet.

Unlike the Chevy Bolt recall, Ford's glass bonding issues have nothing to do the with the electric drivetrain or battery on its first major EV.

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 3:04 pm

Bermuda Triangle mystery resolved?

bermuda traingle

A Science channel has reported that the mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle may have been solved.

The region is located near North America and has seen the disappearance of countless aeroplanes and ships.

According to a report, a group of scientists from the University of Colorado in the United States observed and studied the weather images, taken via satellite, where they saw unusual clouds over the region.

They claimed that the clouds are acting as “air bombs.”

It has been further mentioned that the wind speed can go above the 170 miles-per-hour mark and the waves can go over 45 ft. The report added that no ships or planes will be able to survive the wind force.

The Bermuda Triangle is unique as the clouds have straight edges.

The recent theory has laid the foundation for further investigation and research for solving the abnormalities surrounding the area.

Earlier, the wreckage of a coal ship that vanished in the Bermuda Triangle with 32 passengers onboard has been found by underwater explorers after nearly 100 years of its disappearance.

The steam-powered bulk carrier, SS Cotopaxi, set off for a journey from Charleston, South Carolina to Havana, Cuba and disappeared near Bermuda in 1925.

As usual, no one knew what happened to the ship or its crew as they were never found.

Source: TechCrunch | 27 Sep 2021 | 3:02 pm

Instagram hits pause on kids version of app


Instagram is pausing work on a version for children younger than 13, called “Instagram Kids”, the Facebook-owned photo sharing app said on Monday.

Instagram Kids was touted to require parental permission to join, and provide ad-free, age-appropriate content, but US lawmakers and advocacy groups alike have urged the social media giant to drop its launch plans, citing safety concerns.

“We won’t stop pressuring Facebook until they permanently pull the plug,” said Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay, an advocacy group focused on kids.

Instagram said in a blog post that building Instagram Kids was the right thing to do, but it was pausing the work and would continue building on its parental supervision tools.

“The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today,” it said.

The Wall Street Journal published a report earlier this month, focusing on data suggesting Instagram had a harmful effect on teenagers, particularly teen girls and that Facebook had made minimal efforts to address the issue. However, Facebook has said the report is inaccurate.

Source: TechCrunch | 27 Sep 2021 | 2:58 pm

All the best pet deals as of Sept. 27: DNA kits, dog food, and more

UPDATE: Sept. 27, 2021, 1:40 p.m. EDT This story has been updated to include the latest deals.

Here are all the best pet deals as of Sept. 20 to help you spoil your furry family member for cheap:

Got a pandemic puppy or a quarantine cat? You're not alone. Tons of people are adopting new pets — and figuring out that the cost of buying toys, beds, treats, and pet tech adds up quickly. To keep you from spending your entire paycheck on your four-legged friend, we'll be compiling a list of the best pet deals weekly so you can be the best pet parent ever — even if you're on a budget.

OUR TOP PICK: Basepaws Cat DNA Test — $89

Dog owners shouldn't have all the fun — cat parents want to learn more about their four-legged friends too. The Basepaws kit tests your cat for genetic similarities to over 21 different breeds and four different breed regions. You'll also get crucial info on your kitten's health, with genetic health marker assessments that let you know if your cat is a carrier of certain mutations or if they're predisposed to any of 16 diseases.

Save $40 with code CATDAY
Credit: Basepaws

BEST FOR PUP PARENTS: Embark dog DNA test — $99

Does your dog howl a lot? Are they a total sniff-a-holic? You might think these funny behaviors are just normal dog habits, but they might actually be specific to your dog's breed. Unlocking your pup's breed makeup gives you a ton of info on their personality, health predispositions, and more. This Embark kit tests for over 350 different breeds, and will even tell you if your pup is part coyote or wolf.

Save $30 at Amazon
Credit: Embark

BEST PET TECH DEAL: Whistle Go Explore Pet GPS — $103.96

If you ever wanted to put a FitBit on your dog, the Whistle Go Explore is the way to go. (There's a reason why it topped our list of the best GPS collars.) It can track your pup's activity, steps, calories burned, and sleep, and even takes note of habits like licking and scratching. It also comes with handy GPS functions that give you the peace of mind you need to know that your pup is safe and sound.

Save $25.99 at Amazon
Credit: Whistle Go

BEST TIKTOK TRENDING TOY: Multipet Lamb Chop Squeaky Plush Dog Toy — $5.10

If you follow #dogtok on TikTok, you've probably seen Poppy, an adorable golden retriever who's obsessed with these Lamb Chop toys. While you might not get the cute awoos that Poppy gives when she sees her favorite Lamb Chop, your dog is sure to have a blast fetching, snuggling, and squeaking this plush toy.

Save $6.79 at Chewy
Credit: Multipet

More great pet deals

Wag dog food and treats — Save up to 30%

Amazon dipped a toe into the pet market with Wag branded dog food and treats, and for a limited time, you can score up to 30% off a whole slew of products. Choose from training treats, puppy food, large breed food, and more, starting at $4.19.

Save up to 30% at Amazon
Credit: Amazon

Double Stack Cat Window Perch — $36.01

We all know that cats are the true royalty of the house, so give them a good vantage point to look over their kingdom with this cat perch. It sticks to the window with suction cups and is secure enough for your cat to lay on it all day long. The two shelves also fold up, so it can be used even if you have curtains or blinds on your window.

Save $24.98 at Chewy
Credit: K&H Pet Products

Chewy Halloween Goody Box for dogs or cats — Save up to $8.83

If you're a fall fanatic who went to get a pumpkin spice latte the first day they were available, bring the autumnal cheer to your pets, too. These spooky tails boxes are perfect for the Halloween loving pet parent, and come in options for both dogs and cats.

The dog box comes with two themed toys, seasonal treats, a spooky bandana, and a recipe card for homemade goodies. The cat box features most of the same goodies (just cat-specific), but has a candy-corn pop-up tent instead of a bandana, so your kitty can get into the Halloween spirit even if they're anti-social.

Save up to $8.83 at Chewy
Credit: Chewy

Wisdom Panel Premium — $129.99

If you're tired of just saying that your dog is a mutt, the Wisdom Panel Premium will give you the exact breakdown of your pooch's breed — down to 1%. Wisdom Panel tests across a huge variety of dog breeds, so even if your dog is a super rare international breed, you'll still be able to find out their lineage. (It's also one of our top picks for the best doggie DNA tests on the market.)

The Wisdom Panel Premium kit comes with handy health testing too, and will check your dog's vision, weight, mobility, any potential drug sensitivities, and more. It's basically the protective pet parent's dream.

Save $30 at Amazon
Credit: Wisdom Panel

ChuckIt! — $4.71

If your dog loves to play fetch, a slobbery ball is pretty much inevitable. But with a ChuckIt!, you'll never have to touch a gross ball with your hands again. It also helps you throw the ball faster and further, so your pooch can run at top speed and wear themselves out. Like they say, a tired dog is a well-behaved dog.

Save $8.28 at Amazon
Credit: Chuckit!

PetSafe Drinkwell Pagoda Cat Fountain — $69.95

Encourage your cat to drink more water with this two-tiered cat fountain. It includes a carbon filter that makes water taste better (ideal for picky cats), and holds up to 70 ounces of water at a time. It's also top-rack dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.

Save $10 at Amazon
Credit: Petsafe

Get a free Blink camera with a six or 12 month subscription to BarkBox or Super Chewer

If you're a pet parent who hasn't yet jumped on the BarkBox bandwagon, now is the perfect time to sign up. When you subscribe for six or 12 months, you'll get a free Blink video camera — perfect for pet parents who are headed back to in-person work soon.

During sign up, you'll be able to select your dog's size and note any food allergies they might have. If your pooch is a toy-destroyer, opt for a SuperChewer subscription full of extra-tough toys.

PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Programmable Dog and Cat Feeder — $89.95

If your pet is known for horking down their food, this PetSafe pet feeder can help. With a slow feed option that dispenses food over 15 minutes, which will help digestion. It's great for cats and dogs, can schedule up to 12 meals per day, and can dispense up to four cups of food at a time — so you can schedule feedings for big dogs, too.

Save $40.04 at Amazon
Credit: PetSafe

Petcube Play 2 Wi-Fi Pet Camera with Laser Toy — $179

Another way to monitor your pet while you're away from home, this Petcube camera comes with built-in Alexa and a fun laser toy (cat owners, rejoice). Control the laser toy remotely with your phone, or set it to auto-play mode to give your pet some activity while you're busy at work. You'll also be able to chat with your dog or cat thanks to two-way audio, and get sound and motion alerts so you'll know immediately if something is amiss.

Save $20 at Amazon
Credit: Petcube

WOpet Smart Pet Camera — $99.99

With return to office looming for many workers, keeping an eye on your pet while you're not home is more of a concern than ever. This WOpet smart camera allows you to see your pet while you're away from home, talk to them, and even toss them treats to keep them entertained. It's basically the best tool for combatting separation anxiety.

Save $60 at Amazon
Credit: WoPet

Explore related content:

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 2:24 pm

Spoil your pet with this great gear

You Got This is a series that spotlights the gear you need to improve one area of your life. If you buy something from this post, we may earn an affiliate commission. 

You’re lucky to have the best pet on the planet. Maybe your pal gets you up and out for walks when you’ve been sitting at your computer for way too long, or cuddles up with you on the couch for a break — they’re always there for you after a “ruff” day.

They do so much and ask for so little. You can literally throw them a bone, and they’ll go bananas. So, doesn’t your four-legged pal deserve more than scraps and beat-up tennis balls?

Here are ways to spoil and pamper your loyal companion with cozy fall apparel, fun toys, and Halloween costumes, all from the pet-lovers at Walmart.

Level up your game of fetch

Add some serious power to your throw with a tennis ball blaster designed to shoot balls up to 50 feet. As much fun for humans as it is for pets, it’s an easy way to make sure your furry friend is getting the exercise they crave.

Throw around some new wheels

Get your pup an interactive tire toy made of durable rubber for tossing or having a tug of war. It comes in a few sizes for big or small dogs, and the rope fibers floss their teeth while they chew and play.

Mammoth TireBiter Rubber Tire Dog Toy with Rope, Small, 6'' ($8.47)
Credit: Mammoth

Let them monkey around

This adorable chimp is the perfect toy for your little buddy to pal around with when you’re busy working or out of the house. It’s super soft and cuddly, it squeaks, and it’s durable enough to be chewed and tossed around.

Vibrant Life Cozy Buddy Sock Monkey Dog Toys ($2.97)
Credit: Vibrant Life

Get them anything bacon-flavored

Turn tooth care into a game with a chew toy filled with a bacon-flavored treat. It satisfies their need to chew (and makes your running shoes a lot less tempting to gnaw on), reduces tartar on their teeth, and massages their gums.

Hartz Chew 'n Clean Dental Duo Dog Toy, Medium ($3.36)
Credit: Hartz

Answer the call of the wild

Hitting the trails with your curious canine, or just hiking it over the farmer’s market? Get your pooch outfitted for outdoorsy fall activities with a pet-size hoodie featuring a reinforced leash opening.

Vibrant Life Mommy’s Wild One Hoodie ($8.97)
Credit: Vibrant Life

Involve them in your favorite fall sports

How excited is your dog every time you walk into a room? Get your tail-wagging spirit squad dressed for tailgating (or just streaming the game on the couch) in a cheer-ready sweater with varsity letters spelling WOOF. Finally, we know who let the dogs out.

Get them a warm jacket

Unless you’ve got an arctic breed, your little fur baby gets cold, too — especially if they’ve got short hair or sit low to the ground (meaning they’re closer to an icy sidewalk). Keep them toasty in plaid jacket with a simple, hook-and-loop closure.

Vibrant Life Red Plaid Back Tab Jacket ($11.97)
Credit: Vibrant Life

Coordinate costumes

You could get a lot of mileage out of this cute-as-heck, iridescent dragon costume: we’re thinking dog cosplay at a comic-themed convention, pet-friendly renaissance festival, or Burning Man (if dogs were actually allowed on the playa).

Way To Celebrate Halloween Pet Costume: Dragon ($9.97)
Credit: Way To Celebrate

Dress for best in show

Even if your mutt isn’t trained and groomed for a dog show, a Halloween costume parade at the local park is their time to shine and strut their stuff. This one-piece hot dog costume is easy to get them into and just right amount of silly.

Source: Mashable | 27 Sep 2021 | 1:54 pm

Here’s how you can upgrade to Windows 11 early

Microsoft will begin rolling out Windows 11 on October 5.  However, the company has finalised the new version and released it to its Release Preview channel.

You can switch to the Release Preview in Windows 10 and get the free Windows 11 upgrade early.

Here’s how you can get the free Windows 11 upgrade:

  • First you need to see if your PC is compatible with Windows 11 using Microsoft’s PC Health App (download here).
  • If your PC is compatible, you will have to register as a Windows Insider at Microsoft’s site to get the upgrade early.
  • On the existing 10 PC, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program

  • Click the “Get Started” button and link the Microsoft account you used to sign up to be a Windows Insider
  • Select the Release Preview ring when asked to pick your Insider settings
  • Agree to Microsoft terms and then reboot your computer
  • Go to Settings > Update & Security, and you will see a new banner with the option update to Windows 11
  • Download and install option and follow the prompts to get the new operating system early

Microsoft Window 11

After upgrading to Windows 11, you can then go to Settings > Windows Update and select “Stop getting preview builds” to unenroll from the preview updates for Windows 11 and remain on the final version.

Source: TechCrunch | 27 Sep 2021 | 9:33 am

Study shows antibody growth from AstraZeneca, Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine mix

A small-scale clinical study of the combined use of the AstraZeneca and Sputnik Light vaccines against COVID-19 has shown strong antibody growth in a majority of the study’s participants, the Russian Direct Investment Fund said on Monday.

The data was collected from 20 people who took part in a 100-person study in Azerbaijan that began in February. They first received the AstraZeneca shot followed by the one-dose Russian-made Sputnik Light shot 29 days later, RDIF said.

“According to the results of the interim analysis, a fourfold or higher increase in neutralising antibodies to the spike protein (S-protein) of the SARS-CoV-2 was found in 85% of the volunteers on the 57th day of the study,” RDIF said.

Source: TechCrunch | 27 Sep 2021 | 9:28 am

The social life of a vampire bat

When one thinks of vampire bats, friendship and cooperation may not be among the qualities that come to mind for these blood-feasting creatures of the night. But maybe they should.

Scientists have provided a deeper understanding of social relationships among vampire bats, showing how those that have forged bonds akin to “friendships” with others will rendezvous with these buddies while foraging for a meal.

Researchers attached small devices to 50 vampire bats to track nighttime foraging in Panama, when these flying mammals drink blood from wounds they inflict upon cattle in pastures. The study involved female bats, known to have stronger social relationships than males.

Among the bats were 23 wild-born individuals that had been kept in captivity for about two years during related research into bat social behavior. Social bonds already had been observed among some of them. After being released back into the wild, the bats were found to often join a “friend” during foraging, possibly coordinating the hunt.

“Each bat maintains its own network of close cooperative social bonds,” said behavioral ecologist Gerald Carter of the Ohio State University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, who led the research published in the journal PLoS Biology.

Social bonds among vampire bats as they roost in trees include grooming one another and regurgitating blood meals for hungry pals. The study showed that the social bonds formed in roosts extended into the hunt.

“This study opens up an exciting new window into the social lives of these animals,” Carter said.

The researchers suspect that the bats, while almost never departing on foraging forays with their “friends,” link up with them during the hunt – perhaps even recognizing one another’s vocalizations – for mutual benefit. They hypothesize the bats might exchange information about prey location or access to an open wound for feeding.

Vampire bats, which inhabit warmer regions of Latin America and boast wingspans of about 7 inches (18 cm), are the only mammals with a blood-only diet. They reside in colonies ranging from tens to thousands of individuals.

“People’s first reaction to vampire bats is usually, ‘Uh, scary.’ But once you tell them about their complex social lives, they are quite surprised that we can find such behavior that is somewhat similar to what humans do – and which one would maybe expect in primates – in bats,” said study co-author Simon Ripperger, a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute post-doctoral researcher.

Ripperger called them “amazing creatures” for several reasons.

“Even besides their social lives, vampire bats are quite special: specializing in a diet of 100% blood is already quite rare among vertebrates,” Ripperger said. “They are amazing runners, which you wouldn’t expect in a bat. They have heat sensors in their snouts that help them find a spot to make a bite. They have a protein in their saliva that prevents blood from coagulation, which is actually being used in medical trials to help prevent blood clots in patients who suffered a stroke.”

The bats attack prey from the ground, using their sharp teeth to open a wound, lapping up blood with their tongues.

Carter said there is reason to fear vampire bats because they can transmit rabies to livestock and people.

“But I do think they are beautiful and interesting animals in their own right,” Carter added. “In this way they are a bit like grizzly bears, sharks, rats and venomous snakes: animals that might not help people in any way and might even endanger them, but should still be appreciated for their own sake.”

Source: TechCrunch | 27 Sep 2021 | 9:27 am

Windows 11 gets an update for the better experience of Android users

Microsoft window 11

Your Phone software by Microsoft, which serves as a bridge between Android devices and Windows 10, is all set to get a makeover for Windows 11.

While things do not seem to have changed dramatically like new functionality is on the cards in the short term, we know a bit into the app at Microsoft’s recent Surface event as it still reminds us of its existence.

Your Phone app, too, gets a new look as do the other apps updated for Windows 11, with softer set of colors and rounded corners. However, it’s in the interface where the real improvement lies.

If you go into the app right now, you’ll see separate sections for Notifications, Messages, Calls. Also, Apps if you own a supported Samsung device or a Surface Duo. With the new version, XDA Developers spotted that notifications now feature along the left-hand side of the app, with can respond directly from your desktop or laptop.

Other items to have been relocated are Messages, Photos, Apps and Calls that now appear at the top of the screen. The now little less cluttered look should make the app a bit more accessible to newcomers. Although, it can be a bit confusing to those who have got used to the current layout.

From this brief glimpse it’s encouraging to see that the app hasn’t been forgotten about even if it doesn’t get so many changes, and while it’s understandably not as impressive as the synergy between iPhones and Macs (where things like iMessage and Photos are always in perfect sync), it’s still useful for those that spread their working life across form factors.

And with Microsoft fully on board with Android, having waved the white flag on Windows Phone some time ago, a lot more people can benefit.

Is it necessary?

Many have reportedly said they installed the Your Phone software for Windows 10 upon release, but haven’t booted it up again since. Why? Because the stuff they thought they needed it for already has perfectly good systems in place.

But for some it will prove invaluable, and that — combined with the upcoming Android app support for Windows 11 — makes Microsoft’s OS a natural home for Android users.

Microsoft Windows 11 will be released on October 5 as a free upgrade to Windows 10, but the rollout is going to be staggered, so don’t expect to see it on your screen immediately unless you buy a new device — such as Microsoft’s own Surface Pro 8, Surface Pro X, Surface Go 3 or the innovative new Surface Laptop Studio.

Source: TechCrunch | 27 Sep 2021 | 2:50 am

WhatsApp will stop working on some Android phones

Another year is about to end in the next three months, which means there is another cycle of WhatsApp’s end of support for some Android smartphones and iPhones. After November 1, 2021, the messaging app will not work on some of the Android versions. 

WhatsApp is used to removing the support for specific Android versions. This is a common technique because developers always prefer to support the newest OS updates, and it’s hard to always support old versions. It’s the case of Android OS 4.0.4 and older versions: WhatsApp has announced that they will no longer support Android phones running those versions after a new WhatsApp beta for Android update.

What can you do to continue using WhatsApp on those versions? Unfortunately, you won’t be able to update WhatsApp after November 1, 2021, and your current WhatsApp update is going to expire after a certain date.

You need to switch to a new Android device on a supported Android version if your device is old, so be sure to back up your chat history. Note that WhatsApp is also going to support chat history migration from Android to iOS in a future update if you’re interested to switch to iPhone.

Source: TechCrunch | 27 Sep 2021 | 2:44 am

How a plant virus could help stop cancers from reaching the lungs

plant'virus, cancer, corona, Covid

Using a virus that grows in black-eyed pea plants, nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego developed a new treatment that could keep metastatic cancers at bay from the lungs.

The treatment not only slowed tumor growth in the lungs of mice with either metastatic breast cancer or melanoma, it also prevented or drastically minimized the spread of these cancers to the lungs of healthy mice that were challenged with the disease.

The research was published Sept. 14 in the journal Advanced Science.

Cancer spread to the lungs is one of the most common forms of metastasis in various cancers. Once there, it is extremely deadly and difficult to treat.

Researchers at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering developed an experimental treatment that combats this spread. It involves a bodily injection of a plant virus called the cowpea mosaic virus. The virus is harmless to animals and humans, but it still registers as a foreign invader, thus triggering an immune response that could make the body more effective at fighting cancer.

The idea is to use the plant virus to help the body’s immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells in the lungs. The virus itself is not infectious in our bodies, but it has all these danger signals that alarm immune cells to go into attack mode and search for a pathogen, said Nicole Steinmetz, professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego and director of the university’s Center for Nano-ImmunoEngineering.

To draw this immune response to lung tumors, Steinmetz’s lab engineered nanoparticles made from the cowpea mosaic virus to target a protein in the lungs. The protein, called S100A9, is expressed and secreted by immune cells that help fight infection in the lungs. And there is another reason that motivated Steinmetz’s team to target this protein: overexpression of S100A9 has been observed to play a role in tumor growth and spread.

“For our immunotherapy to work in the setting of lung metastasis, we need to target our nanoparticles to the lung,” said Steinmetz. “Therefore, we created these plant virus nanoparticles to home in on the lungs by making use of S100A9 as the target protein. Within the lung, the nanoparticles recruit immune cells so that the tumors don’t take.”

“Because these nanoparticles tend to localize in the lungs, they can change the tumor microenvironment there to become more adept at fighting off cancer — not just established tumors, but future tumors as well,” said Eric Chung, a bioengineering Ph.D. student in Steinmetz’s lab who is one of the co-first authors on the paper.

To make the nanoparticles, the researchers grew black-eyed pea plants in the lab, infected them with cowpea mosaic virus, and harvested the virus in the form of ball-shaped nanoparticles. They then attached S100A9-targeting molecules to the surfaces of the particles.

The researchers performed both prevention and treatment studies. In the prevention studies, they first injected the plant virus nanoparticles into the bloodstreams of healthy mice, and then later injected either triple negative breast cancer or melanoma cells in these mice. Treated mice showed a dramatic reduction in the cancers spreading to their lungs compared to untreated mice.

In the treatment studies, the researchers administered the nanoparticles to mice with metastatic tumor in their lungs. These mice exhibited smaller lung tumors and survived longer than untreated mice.

What’s remarkable about these results, the researchers point out, is that they show efficacy against extremely aggressive cancer cell lines. “So any change in survival or lung metastasis is pretty striking,” said Chung. “And the fact that we get the level of prevention that we do is really, really amazing.”

Steinmetz envisions that such a treatment could be especially helpful to patients after they have had a cancerous tumor removed. “It wouldn’t be meant as an injection that’s given to everyone to prevent lung tumors. Rather, it would be given to patients who are at high risk of their tumors growing back as a metastatic disease, which often manifests in the lung. This would offer their lungs protection against cancer metastasis,” she said.

Before the new treatment can reach that stage, the researchers need to do more detailed immunotoxicity and pharmacology studies. Future studies will also explore combining this with other treatments such as chemotherapy, checkpoint drugs or radiation.

Paper: “S100A9-Targeted Cowpea Mosaic Virus as a Prophylactic and Therapeutic Immunotherapy Against Metastatic Breast Cancer and Melanoma.” In addition to Young Hun (Eric) Chung, co-first authors of the study include Jooneon Park and Hui Cai. Nicole Steinmetz serves as the corresponding author of this work.

Source: TechCrunch | 26 Sep 2021 | 4:22 am

New tech to prevent Li-ion battery fires

Materials scientists from Nanyang Technological University Singapore have found a way to prevent internal short-circuits, the main cause of fires in Li-ion batteries.

Billions of Li-ion batteries are produced annually for use in mobile phones, laptops, personal mobile devices, and the huge battery packs of electric vehicles and aircraft.

This global battery demand is set to grow, with electric vehicles alone requiring up to 2,700 GWh worth of Li-ion batteries a year by 2030, equivalent to some 225 billion mobile phone batteries.

Even with an estimated failure rate of less than one-in-a-million, in 2020 there were 26 power-assisted bicycle (PAB) fires and 42 cases of personal mobility device fires in Singapore.

In most Li-ion battery fires, the cause is due to a build-up of lithium deposits known as dendrites (tiny wire-like tendrils) that cross the separator between the positive (cathode) and negative (anode) electrodes of the battery when it is being charged, causing a short-circuit leading to an uncontrolled chemical fire.

To prevent such battery fires, NTU scientists invented a patent-pending “anti-short layer” that can be easily added inside a Li-ion battery, preventing any future short-circuits from occurring during the charging process.

This concept is akin to adding a slice of cheese to a hamburger’s meat patty in between the buns, thus the new “anti-short layer” can be rapidly adopted in current battery manufacturing.

The post New tech to prevent Li-ion battery fires appeared first on ARY NEWS.

from ScienceTechnology – ARY NEWS

Source: TechCrunch | 25 Sep 2021 | 12:14 pm

The Automation Boom is Coming. Will the Internet Be Ready?

We live in an increasingly connected world. It’s estimated that there will be about 260 million internet-connected devices in the U.S. by 2020, and the next wave of these devices will push our data demand even further. New Bluetooth advancements, for instance, enable devices to perform within a range that’s four times greater, twice the speed, and eight times the bandwidth of traditional Bluetooth devices.

Besides this, connected and automated devices in the home are already ubiquitous given the popularity of smart home installations: Vacuums, thermostats, lights, and pretty much anything else with a plug can now be controlled using phone apps and voice commands. But this increasing connection isn’t limited to the home; the workplace is automating as well. A majority of businesses are exploring automation for its potential to drive efficiency, productivity, and innovation, and this will only increase as the Internet of Things continues to expand.

Advancements like these will lead to a world that’s connected everywhere you go — meaning society’s data demand is growing. What’s more, streaming subscriptions have already surpassed cable. Many streaming services are already available on mobile devices as well, which increases connectivity and data demand even further.

As a society, our demand for data is increasing at a rapid pace — but the internet in the U.S. isn’t poised to keep up with demand. 

As it stands now, the U.S. ranks 10th in the world for its fixed broadband speeds, falling behind the fastest global speed by more than 64 megabits per second. High connectivity and automation rely on rapid and consistent data transfers, but the U.S. internet in its current state isn’t likely to support this.

One Problem: Not Enough Competition Among Internet Service Providers

U.S. internet speeds pale so much in comparison to other countries’ in part because the internet is currently offered in highly oligopolized or monopolized markets. Most online traffic travels through coaxial cables maintained by regional ISPs with few competitors. Some traffic still travels through even slower copper phone lines of the DSL days.

Only so much data can be crammed through coaxial cables and copper wires, and ISPs know that. The problem is that our data-processing infrastructure hasn’t improved alongside our technologies. But given the lack of competitive pressure, companies have no incentive to make improvements — and so they rarely do.

In a more open market, heightened competition might push ISPs to offer the latest innovations in data transmissions (fiber-optic networks, for example) to maintain a healthy market share.

This would push companies to upgrade and innovate, and it’s likely that new technologies would emerge at a faster rate than they would in closed markets. A natural solution to this problem might seem to be opening the market to more providers and putting more competitors in the space in order to motivate ISPs to innovate. But this solution comes with challenges of its own.

Competitors struggle to enter the space at all, largely because of a lengthy and costly right-of-way approval process that creates barriers to entry.

ISPs have to work with local governments to gain access to public rights of way that allow them to place broadband wires. Placing these wires is expensive because ISPs must pay exorbitant fees to rent space for them — whether the wires are on utility poles or in underground conduits. These fees alone can double the cost of network construction. This, along with antiquated laws that aided in creating regional monopolies, means that competition is pushed out and that only a few big players remain. To change that, local governments would need to change their approval processes and allow easier entry into the market for new ISPs.

As an alternative, ISPs and governments could form public-private partnerships to create a new entry into the market. Essentially, a publicly funded, privately run organization would enter the ISP arena to boost competition — and therefore, innovation — while driving down prices. The private sector can bring new opportunities to cities that don’t have the resources to develop solutions on their own.

Should the Internet Become a Public Utility?

Another option on the table for advancing the internet enough to take on the next wave of automation is classifying internet service as a public utility. Utilities can be strictly regulated for quality and cost controls because these services are considered too important to leave entirely up to market forces.

Consider what internet service would look like if it were a public utility similar to electricity or gas.

ISPs would still be private companies, but governments could mandate specific internet speeds to reach and put a ceiling on costs. The idea is that the private sector is likely better at service delivery, but the existence of strict government controls would prevent ISPs from exploiting their near-monopoly status.

Additionally, because internet access is now widely considered necessary for people functioning in the modern world, it would make sense for the government to set up a baseline of internet service for low-income or underserved communities. This could push ISPs to offer better service because people would default to the public service if they saw no greater benefit from using other ISPs instead.

Ditching Land-Based Infrastructure

Another option is eschewing land-based internet infrastructure altogether and moving to space instead. In fact, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is already constructing a constellation of satellites — Starlink — to provide space-based internet access. SpaceX has launched 60 satellites into space so far, and its internet service is already available in several places on the planet (this includes Musk’s home, where he was able to send a tweet through space). The U.S. Air Force is also testing this technology.

This option is still in the early stages, but SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said Starlink’s broadband service could be available in the U.S. as early as the middle of next year. If all goes well with its current testing and future launches, Starlink could offer high-speed internet access to consumers and avoid countless infrastructure challenges in the process.

IoT is expanding, and the world is becoming more connected at home, at work, and on the go than ever before. With the growth of modern technology and connectivity, it makes sense that the internet should evolve alongside it. If its growth stays stagnant, however, we won’t see new tech advancements reach their full potential. It’s time to reevaluate the U.S. internet service infrastructure before innovation is truly stifled.

The post The Automation Boom is Coming. Will the Internet Be Ready? appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 7 Jan 2020 | 6:00 pm

These Teen AI Entrepreneurs Will Amaze You
teen entrepreneurs

Starting a business is not an easy decision to make. Building a company requires work and money as well, and time. The resources of time, work, and money mean you will have to make sacrifices to start your business. It takes someone who has a lot of passion and confidence to establish a startup. These young people have proved that anyone can create a business at any age. However, some fantastic young entrepreneurs had the fortitude and strength in them to build their businesses in their teenage years. Here are five teen AI entrepreneurs that will amaze you.

1. Sofi Overton

It is disappointing that when you are wearing leggings or socks, there are no pockets. When you are wearing leggings, you need a place you can put your phone and keys because you don’t have a pants pocket. Sofi Overton was able to solve that problem when she established Wise Pocket when she was 13 years old. Sofi products were making leggings and socks with pockets in them.

Sofi wanted to establish this business when she was out and about one day with her cousin. Sofi noticed the problem with not having pockets while wearing her leggings. Her cousin ended up putting her phone inside of her boot — a lousy place for a phone. Once Sofi identified a need, she immediately set about working to establish Wise Pocket.

2. Richard Black

There are plenty of people who are hearing as well as vision-impaired. These individuals face many challenges because of their disabilities. More than anything, all people need, want, and deserve the chance to be independent. Richard Black, 17 years of age, made this possible.

By utilizing the latest AI technology, Richard established Halfcode that sells gadgets for people with vision and hearing impairments become independent and navigate the world much easier.

3. Asia Newson

Asia Newson loved candles when she was very young. And she had ideas on how to create unique and fun homemade candles, and that is how she became passionate enough to establish her own handmade candle business, Super Business Girl, at the age of 14.

People all over the world were inspired by Asia, and she was featured on America’s Got Talent as well as on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Asia also was a keynote speaker for TEDxDetroit. Asia’s parents have begun to work in the business as well. They have become the director of sales, and one parent has taken the role of president.

4. Miracle Olatunji

During her mid-teens, while she was in high school, Miracle Olatunji wanted to help her high school peers get connected to opportunities that would help them find interest in a career. That is why she established OpportuniMe, which is a platform to help high school students find opportunities to help them get into the jobs they want or to help them know that there are well-suited careers for them.

The idea of this platform is also to help high school students find their desires and passions for what they want to do in life before they go to college. Not only is Miracle at the age of 19 still involved, but she is now the director of innovation at Thrive and wrote the book, Purpose: How to Live and Lead with Impact.

5. Maddie Rae

Maddie Rae found slime to be funny and had a passion for doing something with it.  Maddie felt that to make slime, useful — she would have to turn the slime into glue. At age 12, Maddie was able to established Maddie Rae’s Slime Glue. Her company takes slime and glue mixed together — the results have been a substantial hit among all age groups. She was able to expand her online store, quickly becoming successful.

Maddie Rae’s Slime Glue Company sells slime glue, slime, as well as many progressive accessories having to do with everything slime.

After reading about these amazing teenagers that had the passion and dedication to start their own businesses, you can do something about your own passion and turn it into something amazing.

The post These Teen AI Entrepreneurs Will Amaze You appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 7 Jan 2020 | 5:00 pm

What You Need to Know to Use Drones for Your Wedding
drone at wedding

The popularity of wedding drone photography is constantly rising. It’s not surprising because these flying machines can take really amazing photos and videos. But many people still aren’t sure about the necessity of aerial photography at weddings or different events. We’ve gathered for you the most important information you need to know about drones if you want to use them for a wedding.

When using drones, safety comes first.

It may not be the information you wanted to read first. But safety is a necessary measure and you should always keep it in mind if you have decided to get some pictures from a drone. The drone itself is a little helicopter that has a camera. When the drone operator has no required skills, the risk to have some unpleasant accidents rises.

Professionalism and planning are necessary.

The drone pilot should have insurance, extended knowledge on how to operate the vehicle, an established safety plan, and excellent coordination with facility managers, wedding photographers, and the couple. Otherwise, the whole wedding party may be in danger. It is also important to be sure that your photographer and videographer cooperates with the drone pilot. You need to discuss all the plans and details with them because everyone should be aware of the other professional’s actions.

Check all the needed paperwork.

Personal property and liability insurance for commercial unmanned aerial vehicles are required for every drone pilot. In case something goes wrong, the damaged object will be restored and the operator can feel safe. This aspect shouldn’t be neglected. You need to be sure that your drone operator has taken all possible safety precautions.

Drones show a whole new perspective.

It is quite easy to find a professional drone pilot in order to shoot your wedding. But professional pictures made from the drone are quite different from the usual photos. You’ll want to be sure that all photos will be amazing because your wedding is a very special day. Drones provide an entirely new style of capturing your wedding. They bring you a unique opportunity to memorize that will never be forgotten in a completely fascinated way.

Take advantage of your location.

The drone camera can capture dynamic photos and videos that demonstrate the scale and style of your event. Drones offer unusual and great prospects for stunning places where people choose to get married. If you decided to tie the knot on an exotic beach, in a flower valley or in another amazing place, imagine that you are viewing your wedding album on your 25th anniversary and get a stunning aerial shot of your wedding venue. This is a wonderful way to take complete advantage of the magnificent location that you have chosen.

You can make your dreams real.

Drones can be very versatile and can add some creativity to plain wedding photos. A good idea is to gather all your guests to spell out words or you may organize a group photo in another way. You can also get a magnificent photo of a just the married couple surrounded by a sprawling cityscape or landscape. The contrast between the closeness of this moment and the epic splendor of the perspective makes these shots very impressive.

A drone can operate in the cold.

Drones are quite sturdy, but you should remember that they are still electronic devices. That means that you shouldn’t use them in nasty humid weather. But cold weather will not stop them. As soon as the drone starts to discharge, it will produce its own warmth.

Cold air is denser, so the drone can get even more lift. You can get some extra minutes of flight in winter but it is a controversial advantage. If your marriage takes place in a cold climate, you still will not be able to take many pictures of your guests on the street.

Drones need a lot of space.

It is better to use drones outside, but sometimes it is possible to fly them inside if the drone pilot has good skills. It is also important that the ceiling is high enough to guarantee that the drone and people are not in danger. But even if you have a lot of space, it is still better not to use a drone in a ceremony indoors because it is quite noisy. Open space remains a better option for drones.

When you decided to have an outdoor wedding, we recommend you to think about drone photography. This will be especially appropriate for family property. You will be able to look from above at the place where you spent your childhood. Or if you have a wedding on a ship, a drone is the one and only who is able to take pictures of your party.

Close-ups are not available with your drone.

Drones should never get in the way, so it is better to avoid close-ups. It would be not only very dangerous but also unpleasant, distractive and loud. Drones don’t record sound, so you will not be able to take your wedding vows on video. But they can capture the whole view. You can film a walk, the moment when the couple meets the officiant near the church and many other fascinating details. So you’ll get the whole picture of the wedding without spoiling the most intimate moments.

Take a review of Instagram marketing so that you can provide your wedding couple with ideas to share their special day on this social media.

The post What You Need to Know to Use Drones for Your Wedding appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 7 Jan 2020 | 4:00 pm

Trade Secrets Claimed by Prolacta to Steal Founders’ Company – Again
trade secrets
Elana Medo has dedicated many decades of her life to making mother’s milk available to premature babies. Now a questionable trade secret lawsuit threatens to destroy her life’s work and leave preterm infants without access to life-saving milk.

The cost of a Corporation Stealing from an Individual has been the loss of human lives — the very lives the individual is trying to save.

The Medo case highlights a growing problem in America: Corporate efforts to suppress competition by claiming they are protecting their “supposed” trade secrets have reached alarming heights.
Medo has been working with newborns and human milk since the mid-1980s. In 1999, Medo founded a company called Prolacta. Prolacta was the first company to develop a 100% human milk-based fortifier.
Per physician’s recommendation, a fortifier is added to a mother’s breast milk to increase the nutrition content. When Medo founded Prolacta, hospitals were using fortifiers made from cow’s milk. But many infants are allergic to cow’s milk, leaving hospitals and parents with dangerous and even fatal consequences.

For instance, preterm babies given fortifiers made from cow’s milk have a much higher risk of developing a fatal condition called necrotizing enterocolitis.

The cruel disease attacks a baby’s intestine, eating away at this organ with devasting results.
According to Amy Gates, a neonatal dietitian and board-certified pediatric nutrition specialist, “Human breast milk is a
“critical” and “life-saving intervention for premature infants.” Prolacta was a game-changer. By 2006, Medo had raised $23 million in venture capital. But Medo and her corporate backers had different visions for the company’s future.

Medo wanted to save babies’ lives. Her investors only wanted to make money. As a businesswoman, Medo knew they could do both. The corporation wanted more money — faster.

In 2007, venture capitalists took control of Prolacata’s board of directors and ousted Medo as CEO. In 2008, Medo resigned from her employment and transitioned to a new role as an independent consultant to the company. In February 2009, she formally ended any relationship with Prolacta.

Since 1999, Prolacta has had a monopoly or near-monopoly in the market of human milk fortifier.

The company’s prices and profits reflect a lack of any meaningful competition. At $175 an ounce or more, the cost to feed a single preterm infant Prolacta fortifier can easily top $15,000 a day.
Many hospitals cannot afford Prolacta, while others strictly ration the supply, limiting its use only to the smallest, sickest babies. The stingy insurance-rationing then puts other preterm babies at significant risk.

In 2009, after separating from Prolacta, Medo launched Medolac, a public benefit corporation.

Medo does not mince words about her motivations. “Hundreds of babies die each year from not having the ability to receive human milk. Profit must be secondary to the social impact of a company’s decisions.”
Between 2009 and 2015, Medo developed a new model for donor milk. Prolacta’s fortifiers are frozen and have a shelf life of two years frozen and 48 hours thawed. Medolac’s milk product is shelf-stable at room temperature for three years. That distinction alone can give Medolac a competitive advantage in the market through dramatically reduced shipping and storage costs.

The development of shelf-stable mother’s milk would also allow Medolac to pass along much of those savings to consumers and help stabilize more sick babies, and ultimately saves lives.

When Prolacta learned of Medolac’s competitive threat, they filed suit against Medo and her daughter Adrianne Weir in Orange County, California. Prolacta alleged that they had built Medolac using stolen trade secrets.

The Medo-case has been in litigation for the past five years. As with all corporate suits, they use the tactic of prolonged litigation to break down the efforts of smaller companies and individuals.

Prolacta’s central allegations are that Medo stole their customer data, research and development documents, and used Prolacta’s standard operating procedures. Medo denies stealing anything and contends that the information at issue is public or commonly known within the industry. Medo, herself, built Prolacta as a company and was taken over by her own board. She had the initial product, information, and know-how. It could be alleged that Prolacta stole her information in the first place.

What do the lawyers say? It depends on which side you are on. A lawyer makes more money with a corporation than they do with an individual. But, founders need to protect themselves right in the beginning.

Jonathan Pollard, a competition lawyer with extensive experience litigating trade secret cases, says this is part of America’s current “epidemic of frivolous trade secret litigation.” According to Pollard, “The new corporate America playbook involves squashing ordinary competition at any cost.
If a rival poses a competitive threat to your market share, you sue them for theft of trade secrets — no matter how weak the case.” Pollard explains that big companies with deep pockets use litigation as a weapon. Protracted litigation can cost millions.

Beyond the financial cost, there is also the intrusive discovery process through which the parties in a case obtain information and evidence form the other side. And corporations have more money to throw at the issue.

As is the case in many suits, in the Medo case — her company has been sued for theft of trade secrets. In an ironic twist, this ended up making her the victim of trade secret theft. As is often the case, the plaintiff used the discovery process to obtain exclusive intelligence on its rival. Pollard calls this the “chilling effect” in the market.
Clients, lenders, and other market actors are hesitant to do business with
someone who is being sued for theft of trade secrets.
Many of Pollard’s concerns seem to be playing out in the Prolacta litigation. After five years, four amended complaints, more than twenty depositions, many thousands of documents, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, Medo and her company are fighting just to survive. Corporate America stealing an edge over a founder of a small company — for gain.

Medolac has developed a 48,000 square foot processing facility that claims it can provide for 100% of the domestic market— at a fraction of Prolacta’s cost.

The dream for these desperately sick infants can only happen if Medolac can ever make it through the current litigation.

As for the merits of the case, Pollard is not impressed by Prolacta’s allegations against Medo.
“Take customer information. This is one of the most commonly asserted trade secrets. But in the year 2020, it’s also one of the most absurd. In this case, it seems obvious that any hospital in the United States serving newborn babies is a potential customer. All you have to do is call the neonatal
Courts have to catch up with reality and recognize that the emergence of resources like Google has fundamentally changed the landscape of competition. Just because something was a trade secret in 1995 doesn’t mean it’s a trade secret today.”
For now, all that Elana Medo and her daughter can do is plead their case to a jury. The case goes to trial this month.

The post Trade Secrets Claimed by Prolacta to Steal Founders’ Company – Again appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 7 Jan 2020 | 3:00 pm

Achieving Paperless Operations and Document Automation with AI and ML
paperless operations

Paper is an essential commodity for office operations. Most conventional offices rely on paper for completing the simplest tasks. Even after digitization, the dream of a completely paperless office is far from reality. Humans are used to a standard form of note-taking and documentation. Here is how to achieve paperless operations and document automation with AI and ML.

Progressive technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning help enterprises achieve their goal of paperless offices. Using these technologies, the issues associated with managing large volumes of data documented on paper can be efficiently solved.

Concept of Paperless Enterprises

Paperless enterprises run on digital devices with minimum paper consumption. In a digitally connected world, this gives businesses an unprecedented edge. All data is stored digitally, on the cloud or on-premise, which can be used in real-time to derive valuable insights about operational efficiency, marketing campaigns, employee engagement and a lot more.

Machine Learning (ML) is making it possible to achieve next-gen digital transformation by automating several business operations, that requires filling up loads of paper documents. Already, businesses are making an effort to integrate machine learning and artificial intelligence to go digital and achieve higher efficiency.

Growing Penetration of Machine Learning in Modern Enterprises

paperless operations
Growing Penetration of Machine Learning in Modern Enterprises


Benefits of Paperless Operations

Automation can offer several benefits to modern enterprises. Not only the tedious task of filing and storing a large number of documents can be minimized, but organizations can improve their data discovery and utilization capabilities. Here are some of the benefits of adopting paperless processes:

  • Efficient Document Organization

Digitization through artificial intelligence and machine learning allows companies to organize all information in easily accessible formats. This saves time as employees don’t have to waste hours searching for a document. Also, this promotes remote working culture and bring next-level authentication as the origin of digital information can be identified.

  • Enhanced Security 

One of the biggest drawbacks of paper-based data storage is associated with the security and safety of data. Conventionally, office cultures were not serious about data protection and stored critical information either in filing cabinets or any similar method.

All these methods are prone to data theft or damage due to unavoidable circumstances. Paperless office enhances the security measures as companies can take a backup of data, secure data through passwords and take steps to enforce security measures.

  • Reduced Overheads

Storing data using paper-based techniques is a cumbersome and costly affair. Companies can save millions of dollars annually by eliminating the need for paper, copier equipment, and maintenance. Also, companies don’t have to waste valuable real estate for storage of files and other documents.

Paperless digitization promotes easy accessibility from anywhere, which means less money is spent on the physical transmission of data using conventional methods.

  • Real-time Insights

Digitally stored data serves as a massive data pool to derive real-time insights from available data. This means that the information available to an enterprise can be put to better use for boosting efficiency. Marketing managers can utilize real-time data gathered from various campaigns; production teams can understand customer preferences.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence can enhance data analysis capabilities and make organizational processes closer to the customer’s needs and preferences.

Industry Use Cases: Who will Benefit the Most?

1. Legal firms

AI/ML-based paperless workflows will significantly improve the productivity of law firms. Traditionally, the legal profession is seen as a labor-intensive task- browsing through thousands of legal case files, reviewing past case studies, examining legal contracts and more.

AI can reduce manual intervention for data analysis and processing, leaving more time with advocates, lawyers and legal firms to advise their clients and appeal in courts. Artificial intelligence (AI) can be leveraged to keep a record of legal contracts and provide real-time alerts on renewals, proofreading legal documents and locate valuable information in seconds. For the legal system, artificial intelligence is the key to paper-free litigation and trials in the future.

2. Automobile industries

The automobile industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the AI/ML innovation. Machine learning has allowed automobile factories to create autonomous systems for managing large volumes of data generated during the manufacturing process.

Moreover, AI is reducing the effort required for filing claims in case of shop-floor accidents as data is digitized and form filing can be automated. Also, ML algorithms allow customers to get real-time diagnostic support without needing to file paper-based forms as a vehicle can be directly connected to the manufacturer via cloud infrastructure. This means that repairs, service and general performance issues can be reported in real-time without the need for paper.

3. Insurance

The insurance sector can use machine learning to automate claims will prove delightful for customer service processes. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can be leveraged to create sophisticated rating systems for evaluating risks and predicting an efficient pricing structure for each policy. All this can be automated, which reduces the need for manual intervention from human agents for classifying risks.

Also, artificial intelligence can streamline workflow by managing a large volume of claims data, policy benefits, medical/personal records, digitally. The data stored on the cloud can be used by an AI algorithm to derive real-time insights about policyholders and bring efficiency to the fraud detection process.

Wrapping Up

Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize workspaces like never before. With the help of an AI development company, small, medium and large-scale enterprises can make a substantial move towards a paperless future. Not only will it reduce the cost of operations but it will boost the overall efficiency of the existing business processes. The industry use cases suggested above is just the tip of a massive iceberg.

The possibilities are limitless. An AI-driven product development company can understand your existing business processes and suggest custom solutions that can be a suitable fit for your business operations.

The post Achieving Paperless Operations and Document Automation with AI and ML appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 7 Jan 2020 | 2:00 pm

Secret to Getting Leads with Digital Marketing Technology

Nowadays most companies are doing SEO, PPC, and Content Marketing. Yet sometimes the company’s are not getting the leads they need. Some businesses get leads — but not quality leads, or they don’t get the leads that fit their expectations.

The main reason a company doesn’t get the leads they need is that they are not completing the actual process of generating leads correctly. If the process is done correctly, the combination of SEO, PPC and content marketing will bring you the leads that you need.

SEO is the process of improving the ranking of your website, and getting traffic on your site. SEO is not just about ranking and not just about traffic. But it’s all about conversions.

If thousands of visitors come to your website — and not a single visitor becomes a lead — then it’s not a great deal.

The secrets you’ll want to have for your website.

What you want for your website is:

Ranking + Clicks + Conversions

You will want to move toward the best formula for generating leads is as easy as ABC:

A= Attract the Customers
B= Build the Audience
C= Conversions

A= Attract customers.

1) Write a blog.
2.) Target traffic to that blog.

  • First, you’ll want to write three articles of at least 2000 words. Make sure that the article is in your niche and that the writing has to do with your business. Make sure you write well, research your content, and put proper keywords in the article. Have the piece edited.
  • Make sure to have the proper keyword and topic selection for your blog,

Tools for keyword research.
Google Keyword Planner
Answer the Public

  • Second is getting the targeted traffic to your blog. You will want to pull quality traffic to your site.

1.) Social Media Promotion.

Share your blog on targeted social media groups like LinkedIn groups, particular niche facebook groups,
Twitter also helps you to generate instant and quality traffic,
Also Read:

2.) Paid Promotion.

Start PPC campaign for your blog,
By setting the proper research campaign, you gain traffic as we wanted,
And the main thing is that our blog is already well keyword research, so we have also more chances to gain free organic traffic
Here our first task is completed,

B = Build The Audience

Now, after getting traffic to our site our second goal is build the audience who visited our blog, either it is paid audience, either it is free organic audience or either it is the audience that is generated by social promotion,
If you don’t know how to store the data that who visited your blog then you have to refer this official blog

C = Conversations

Now, this is the final task that is getting leads,
After building the audience, it’s time to Provide lead magnet to those who visited your site,

Lead Magnet :

A lead magnet is generally offered free content like ebook, Checklist, Whitepaper, Video, and brochure in exchange for getting users email id’s name and number,

Or We can say that anything that provides the customer to free with the purpose of fill the form and get their details,
Believe me guys the most number of successful company use lead magnet for getting leads,

For providing a lead magnet to your visitors, you perform two activities.

1.) Whenever customer arrived at your blog either your customer come via PPC, wither it comes via Social Media or either they come via organic results. You must show them a popup and show the lead magnets after 40 seconds.

2.) You have to do remarketing (Remarketing is a very very effective technique).
Please refer to this blog written by @Neil Patel for fantastic techniques about how to set a remarketing campaign.

Remarketing helps you to converts your visitors into purchase free lead magnets, It continuously follows your customers until they didn’t purchase your lead magnet. Once your audience starts purchasing, your database is filling up with the quality names, numbers, and emails.

The conversion ratio of this data is too high, because we know this is the audience that comes via an article. They are purchasing our lead magnet means that the audience is interested in our services.

Now you start email marketing.

Now it’s time to sending your business proposals to those people — data (the name, number, and email id) whom you getting by lead magnets. The data generated by the lead magnet is very powerful. The more information you get with the name and number by a lead magnet the more you convert a lead.

If you are CEO, you can share data with your BDE, Lead Generator, or marketing department, and they can easily convert leads by this data. I often call this the 100% genuine technique.

Nowadays most people know how to SEO, PPC, and remarketing. But, try these mixtures and a technique for generating leads.

The post Secret to Getting Leads with Digital Marketing Technology appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 7 Jan 2020 | 11:00 am

Successful Scaling: How to Grow Without Tumbling Back Down

“Breathing would be delightful,” the director of products told me in our kickoff. His startup was growing fast. It had a bunch of new funding, the pressure was on to ship, and the team was underwater. I was there to help and take the pressure off so they could breathe. “Let’s begin to think strategically about the future,” I told them. Here is successful scaling and how to grow without tumbling back down.

Scale is the problem you want — and one many companies never get to experience. It’s a sign of a good team and a good product when you can scale and scale quickly. Ironically, growing can be what destroys you. Your team can lose sight of the goal and group dynamics can get thrown off.

Systems can crack under pressure that they were never designed to support. Leadership will often become frustrated with their teams, wondering why they can’t keep up with the onslaught of new ideas and tasks. Worst of all, confusion can infiltrate your product, impacting the customer experience and even your reputation.

Product Management and UX are more difficult to scale than engineering. Engineering has commonly accepted and uses ratios and patterns for scaling. Product Management and UX trends to add people when it becomes painfully clear the current team is overwhelmed. Then the team hire and onboard new people while doing everything else.

How to Avoid Problems and Implement Successful Scaling

The reality is that scaling looks different for every company and team. Here are some constants that have guided us over the years as we’ve helped grow teams from small strike forces to significant success stories:

Direct the train

Product and UX need to direct a train that is already running. There is little to no appetite at most companies for engineering to slow down so product and UX can figure things out. As simply and often as you can, tell everyone where we’re going, why it matters and what it will look when they are there so they can make decisions without needing detailed documentation. We teach everyone at 3Pillar about the Product Mindset and how we need to build for outcomes like revenue and engagement.

Contain the whack-a-mole effect

Success breeds success – and ideas generate ideas. If things are going well with your company, it’s likely that you’ve had at least a few brainstorming questions, looking to generate new strategies and concepts.

“Hiten Bombs” is what they called at KISSmetrics when founder Hiten Shah dropped new ideas on the team and in a very brave post he wrote about how his ideas blew up progress on the team.

One of the core principles of our Product Mindset is to excel at change. It’s tempting to try and make all these exciting new ideas a reality, but the fact of the matter is that if you listen to everything, you’ll never get anything done. Systematically collect ideas, review them, select the most promising ones – and move on.

Fix your movement patterns

I’ve taught skiers with a chapter of Disabled Sports USA for many years. A skier needs to get down the hill without hurting themselves or others, and they adopt a movement pattern that will get that job done. But it doesn’t mean that it’s efficient or effective as they want to get on harder terrain. My job as an instructor is to understand their goals and how they move and start to replace their old movements with new ones that will help them progress.

The same principle is true of businesses: The patterns that served a small business won’t necessarily serve it well as it scales.  Figure out what habits are holding your team back and forge new ones. It might be awkward at first, but it can save you time, money and talent in the long run.

Create simple rules

There’s a place for the comprehensive, big, bound employee handbook – and, more often than not, it’s in a wiki no one reads. What we need are ways to help our teams use their judgment to make better decisions. Researchers from Stanford found that simple rules help employees make decisions in a world of complexity and change. 

Nine times out of ten, if someone struggles with effective decision-making – whether it’s on dress, hours, remote work or benefits – they need coaching, not a detailed policy. Keeping things simple will keep you nimble as you expand.

Listen carefully to your new hires

It’s hardly conventional wisdom; if anything, new hires are the ones who need to do the listening. But hearing their expectations will give you greater insight into interpersonal dynamics, and listening to their past experiences of what worked and what didn’t could supply you with new approaches and tactics.

Own your day

In the flurry and flutter of change, it’s easy to spend all your energy putting out fires and ensuring that everyone gets through the day intact. Take time – each quarter, each month, each week, each day – to consciously and concretely advance your long-term goals, even if it’s just by a fraction. If our experience shows anything, you won’t be able to do this every day. But on the days you can do it, you’ll feel all the more accomplished and centered on what it is you do and who it is you are.

At the end of the day, if you keep your eye on the big picture, a bigger team can be a stronger team. If you set clear roles and clear expectations for your employees, foster an environment of trust and collaboration through strong leadership and tackle growth step-by-step, you can successfully scale without losing sight of how you got there.

The post Successful Scaling: How to Grow Without Tumbling Back Down appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 6 Jan 2020 | 6:00 pm

WIB Vulnerability: Sim-Card that Allows Hackers to Takeover Phones
sim take over phone

In the past, we’ve all witnessed sim-jacking attacks that allow a hacker to impersonate the targeted victim to steal the phone number. Hackers can gain access to unauthorized information related to the victim using the vulnerability, ‘SimJacker’ was that vulnerability.

Recently there’s a similar vulnerability that has popped up, which uses the same SMS-technology to track users’ devices by exploiting little-known apps that are running on a sim-card.

The new attack namely, WIBattack is similar to Simjacker. Folks at mobile security firm AdaptiveMobile disclosed that attack vector.

Both attacks are similar in the way they work, they even grant access to the same commands. The main difference between the two attacks is the fact that they target different applications running on the sim-card.

Mainly, Simjacker executes commands using the S@T Browser app. Whereas WIBattack sends commands to the Wireless Internet Browser (WIB) application.

Telecommunication companies have both java-applets pre-installed on sims to provide management to customer devices and their mobile subscriptions. Cybersecurity is evolving at a fast pace and AI is being considered to be implemented in it to tackle exploits that humans will have difficulties preventing.

Remote access being insecure is the cause behind the WIB vulnerability, in my opinion. Here are 3 important strategies to protect yourself from cyber threats.

The History Of WIB Attack

AdaptiveMobile, a mobile security firm released a report that disclosed details about a company involved in sending rogue commands to the S@T Browser application running on sim-cards. The company had ties with the government and was executing those commands to track individuals.

Recently a report was published by GinnosLab, that disclosed information about the WIB app being vulnerable to similar attacks. Attackers start by sending a specially formatted binary SMS also known as an OTA SMS to target WIB and S@T applets. The SMS executes sim-toolkit instructions on the device, which grants hackers the ultimate access.

The sim-cards that do not have special security features pre-enabled by the telecommunication companies are vulnerable to those malicious instructions.

The applets installed on the sim-card supports the execution of the following commands:

  • Get location data
  • Start call
  • Send SMS
  • Transmit SS requests
  • Send USSD requests
  • Launch an internet browser with a specific URL
  • Display text on the device
  • Play a tone

According to GinnosLabs, Since the attack is fairly similar to Simjacker, it can be abused to track victims. One of the possibilities of this attack method is that a skilled hacker can start a call and listen to nearby conversations which can get quite scary if you think about it.

Exploitation After Gaining Persistence

If the hacker establishes persistence and exploits the vulnerability, then things go downhill faster. The hacker can execute social engineering attacks using the victim’s vulnerable sim-card. For instance, phishing links can be forwarded to the victim’s contact list causing small-scale personal data breaches unless the victim is an important personality, the effects can be major.

It is essential for anyone working towards data security and privacy to be aware of the different types of data breaches. Knowing the enemy is the first step in retaliating. The fact that technology has progressed so far also means the attack vectors are also adapting and evolving.

Phishing is one of the attacks, hackers can execute overtime after they establish persistence. Human-generated phishing links are the past now. AI-generated phishing techniques are the future and are more dangerous. Not only that there are many cyber threats emerging rapidly that can completely change your perspective on what’s secure and what’s not.

What Is Over The Air (OTA) Technology?

Since this vulnerability utilizes “Over The Air” technology, it is essential for us to know what it is and how it works. Telecommunication companies use OTA technology to download, manage and modify the data on sim-cards without being physically connected to it. In other words, remotely.

It enables a network operator to introduce new services or modify existing ones in a cost-effective manner. It uses the client-server architecture where your sim-card serves as the client and the operator’s back-end system serves as the server which might include:

  • Customer care services
  • Billing system
  • Application system

How Does OTA Work?

The operator’s back-end system is responsible to send service requests through an OTA gateway. The OTA gateway converts the requests into Short Messages that are transmitted through a Short Message Service Center (SMSC). It is responsible to circulate the messages to one or more sim-cards in the field.

Proving the point that OTA doesn’t require you to commute to a retail outlet to modify something on your sim-card.

The components required to implement OTA technology are listed below:

  • A backend system to process and send requests.
  • An OTA gateway that converts the requests in a suitable format for the sim-card to understand.
  • An SMSC to send requests through a wireless network.
  • A bearer to transport the request, in this case, it’s the SMS-technology.
  • Mobile equipment to receive the request and pass it on to the sim-card.
  • A sim-card to receive and execute the current request.

OTA SMS can be transmitted from peer-to-peer. In simple words, from one mobile subscriber to another.

What Would Be A Typical Attack Scenario?

Knowing how a hacker would attack your system is essential to counter it. Here’s how a typical hacker would execute this attack to exploit vulnerabilities on your sim-card.

The “Wireless Internet Browser” (WIB) is the leading sim-based browser that provides a menu that can be managed or updated using OTA technology.

The attack starts with an SMS sent from the attacker’s device to the victim’s mobile phone. The message is a malicious OTA SMS that contains WIB commands.

Once the victim receives the OTA SMS with the WIB commands. The WIB browser receives the transmitted commands on the victim’s phone. WIB responds to the requests made in that malicious SMS and sends back a proactive command such as initiating a call, sending SMS, etc.

Attackers can execute other commands that can track your location geographically.

How Many Devices Were Caught In This Vulnerability? 

SRLabs the veterans in mobile and telecom security developed two applications, one for desktop and the other for mobile to tackle this situation.

The apps being SimTester and SnoopSnitch. The first one being the desktop application and the other one being the Android application. To test if you are vulnerable, you need to have a rooted phone.

Researchers used telemetry from both applications to analyze the extent of SimJacker and WIBattack vulnerabilities. They managed to gain data from 800 sim-cards globally. The results are fairly good because telecommunications companies are now shipping sim-cards that do not have the vulnerable applets running on them.

The statistics provided by SRlabs are as follows:

  • 4% of the tested sim-cards had the S@T applet installed.
  • 5.6% of total sim-cards were vulnerable to SimJacker. The cause being security levels set to 0.
  • 7% had the WIB applet installed.
  • 3.5% of sim-cards were vulnerable to the WIB Attack.
  • 9.1% of the total sim-cards tested were either vulnerable to S@T Attack or WIB Attack.

Data of 500,000 users that installed SnoopSnitch revealed that only a few number of people received those malicious OTA SMS’es.

Important Countermeasures to Be Aware Of

It is important to have information about the attack vectors but the process doesn’t end there. If only knowing about the attack protected you from the negative effects, you wouldn’t need cybersecurity experts.

Knowing the problem is one half of the picture. The other half is knowing how to counter it or mitigate its effects properly. Here’s what you can do if you’re dealing with an insecure sim-card.

There are two ways to look at this problem, one is from the perspective of the network operator. The other is the perspective of the end-user.

For network operators, it is essential to deploy relevant solutions to tackle this problem. Some of the solutions may include, replacing the vulnerable sim-cards to give the end-user 100% security. Another solution that might be worth looking into is filtering OTA SMS’s.

As far as the subscriber is concerned, if the sim-card that the subscriber is using is vulnerable. The best thing to do is to replace the sim-card and invest in a few bucks to ensure 100% security, it’s because if you go roaming to other networks, your network provider won’t be able to ensure your security.

How Does The Vulnerability Affect You?

The question that comes up to the surface is how does it affect an average consumer? Well, It can be labelled as the invasion of privacy, data breach, and spying.

WIB browser executes commands that can easily provide enough information about the target’s surroundings, its location and even about the device he’s using.

The WIB browser vulnerability is as scary as it seems. Imagine talking to your friend but someone’s eavesdropping on your conversation. The exploit can be used to gain intel and possibly be used to harm people if not completely taken care of.

It seems like the movies, where the hacker can practically track everything that you do. It is true, nobody leaves their home without their phone. People are too dependent on gadgets and that dependency is capable of harming them.

Final Thoughts

The WIB attack is fairly similar to SimJacker. Both of these attacks are capable of executing the same kind of commands, the only major difference is the apps that they exploit. GinnosLab reported the vulnerability to the GSM association.

No need to be concerned about being vulnerable. The sim-cards in the market do not have the vulnerable applets anymore. If you want to test your sim-card you can utilize any of the listed applications above.

Not to mention, that data security is important in any aspect of technology. The details of the vulnerability were declared this year. It is essential to take the proper countermeasures so that you are not the victim of such attacks.

The post WIB Vulnerability: Sim-Card that Allows Hackers to Takeover Phones appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 6 Jan 2020 | 5:00 pm

6 Industries Blockchain Technology Will Revolutionize

In line with new evolving computer technologies, a lot of issues previously found complicated are now seen as an easygoing task, for example, e-commerce, contactless payment, secured online transactions, and ride-hailing. All thanks to blockchain, a new technology that massively revitalized all-around sectors, equipping the financial industry with enhanced solutions with less or no additional fees.

Kicking off as the underlying technology of digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), blockchain technology has interestingly gone far beyond the concept of serving as a public transaction ledger, to affecting the way we pay, play and work.

Blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that efficiently keeps records of transactions permanently.

“BlockChain,” as it was initially called, constitutes a growing list of records known as blocks, which are linked using cryptography. In a simpler term, Each block holds data either about financial transactions, voting results, contracts, medical reports, trades, and so on, within blockchain network in cryptographic form. The blocks are usually interconnected and lined up in a chain to create a new block.

The idea allows for the distribution of digital information that cannot be copied, thereby creating a foundation for a new type of internet.

While the technical communities around the world are seeking other potential applications of this technology, blockchain has already ignited changes.

While there are nonobvious industries that blockchain will likely affect, we will highlight in this article, how blockchain-based technical solutions can enhance operational systems in sectors such as:

  • eCommerce
  • Finance
  • Government Administration
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Agriculture

1. Blockchain in eCommerce

With blockchain being heralded as the foundation of Web 3.0, it would not be wrong to expect that the innovative technology has as much impact on the multi-trillion eCommerce industry as the internet had on commerce in general.

Among other possible applications, blockchain technology could revolutionize eCommerce by:

  • Simplifying payments
  • Monitoring the supply chain
  • Introducing decentralized marketplaces.

Payments and Loyalty Rewards

Adopting cryptocurrencies (an offshoot of blockchain technology) can allow a merchant to receive payments in real-time. There is no need for a middleman such as banks or expensive payment processors, while also serving an international audience.

Crypto payment processors like BitPay or BTCPay typically charge a 1% fee for helping merchants collect cryptocurrencies with the option to receive the fiat equivalent in their bank accounts or crypto in their wallets.

Although cryptocurrencies fluctuate in value and as such could decline massively in the space of a few minutes, other variants such as Tether (USDT) and Circle (USDC) are stablecoins and could help merchants accept payments seamlessly.

Meanwhile, the use of tokens issued on a blockchain can revolutionize the idea of reward loyal customers more transparently. For instance, customers who purchase a specific number of items monthly could receive tokens that can be redeemed for other products or invitations to local events.

Supply Chain Monitoring

Many of the largest retailers and commercial banks, including the U.K based Lloyds Bank has adopted blockchain-based solutions to monitor supply chain in trade finance.

The use of blockchain helps merchants eliminate paper and manual work while also keeping an eye on their shipments as they travel across the world, to the doorstop or port of the recipient.

Decentralized Marketplaces

A blockchain-powered decentralized marketplace is the modernized version of P2P eCommerce sites, with the primary difference being that a single cryptocurrency could serve as the unit of payment.

In other cases, members of the network could stake cryptocurrencies to receive rewards or serve as judges on rare occasions where two transacting parties cannot reach consensus regarding a sale.

2. Blockchain in Finance

Recent advances in blockchain opened up several arrays of decentralized and distributed systems, notably revolutionizing fintech and the capital market.

For instance, several processes involved in the financial institutions have dramatically improved by DLT, resulting in security, speed of transactions, and simplicity. Famous U.S bank JP Morgan Chase recently created a cryptocurrency to enhance its internal operations.

On another hand, it is fair to note that the current capital markets infrastructure is relatively expensive, slow and often requires more intermediaries. Although the bureaucratic nature complicates the performance and receiving of financial services, the concept of DLT holds solutions to this problem.

Following the advent of crypto tokens as a tool for raising capital in 2017, the market has mostly evolved to allow businesses to raise money by distributing blockchain-based tokens (security tokens) representing the investor’s ownership in the company.

According to a report from industry researcher, BlockState, 64 companies that used this method raised nearly $1 billion between the start of the year and July, meaning that there is potential for more adoption of this funding mechanism.

3. Blockchain in Government Administration

Looking at the cross-cutting potential of blockchain — the technology has moved from relative obscurity to mainstream adoption in the governmental sector, from the improvement of public services to the resolving of political issues like the storage of voting records.

One good thing about this technology is that the public sector organizations and governments all over the world now acknowledge the transformative advantage of blockchain to do away with antiquated processes and legacy systems and instead achieve responsive structures.

While we continue to note a growing number of potential public sector blockchain applications, a few hundreds of leaders in government are reportedly joining several blockchain groups. These groups include the General Services Administration’s (GSA) blockchain working group, to share use cases and best practices.

Governments are incorporating blockchain to build trust with her citizens, following an attribute of blockchain-based solutions, accounting for transparency through decentralization. The idea enables participating parties to see and verify data too.

Launching a blockchain solution for the citizen services will trigger independent verification of legal claims.

The governments of Estonia, Sweden, and Georgia are conducting a test on blockchain-based land registries, allowing different parties to hold copies of the record securely.

This model of sharing access to records helps in addressing property disputes and potentially decrease distrust while promoting the trust between the citizens of a country and the government.

Deploying this technology helps to protect sensitive data in governmental departments. The fact that governments exist as a default record keeper for the country makes them a prime target for hackers.

In 2017 alone, Bloom reported that 143 million different personal data such as full names, birthdays, driver’s license numbers were exposed aside from other significant major data breaches through the years.

data breaches
Major data breaches throughout the years.

Instead of accepting such breach from hackers, the issue can rightly be resolved through the responsible integration of blockchain data structures. Blockchain supports data structures that harden network security, reduce single-point-of-failure risk, and renders any attempts to have the info prohibitively challenging.

According to a statement from Doughlas Maughan, an official of the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “blockchain technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way we manage online identity and access the internet; this R&D project will help bring this potential closer to reality.”

4. Blockchain in Healthcare

The fact that blockchain much works as a tool in securing and saving patients’ confidential data, cannot be overemphasized. The possibilities for the application of the technology in different hospitals, clinics, the laboratory has begun to be tested across various pilot projects around the world.

In 2018, Booz Allen Hamilton Consulting, based in the United States, implemented a blockchain-supported pilot platform, which aims at assisting the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Translational Sciences to learn possible ways blockchain can be applied in the healthcare data management.

The pilot project uses Ethereum to manage data access through VPNs, and it is currently being operated at four major hospitals. The plan reduces data duplication from off-chain cloud components by using a cryptographic algorithm to enable user sharing.

This finding indicates that the latest digital platforms supported by blockchains are rapidly emerging, not just for the government and financial institutions only, but for healthcare as well, as it enables a fast and seamless interaction amongst data providers, including the patients.

Decentralized applications (DApps), as well as distributed apps built on the blockchain platforms, allows patients and physicians to easily participate in telemedicine without paying for a middleman costs except for the minimal charges of the Ethereum network. This idea allows for the empowerment of patients.

The fact that maintaining a typical healthcare Information system comprises several advanced operations such as performing backup storage services, ensuring up-to-date fields, and having recovery mechanisms in place, is the fundamental reason for the application of blockchain in the healthcare sector.

In a blockchain, there is no point of failure that can lead to an inherent backup mechanism, giving that data are distributed across the network. Also, each version of data is usually copied on every node of the blockchain.

This effort mitigates the burden on the healthcare ecosystems by reducing the volume of transactions that occur between any information system.

Thus, with the progress of healthcare institutions in the cloud healthcare data storage, patient data privacy protection regulations. Electronic health-related data gathering, opportunities are automatically popping up for daily health data management, allowing for easy access and sharing of patients’ health data.

5. Blockchain in Education

Education is another sector that is just as important as finance and healthcare, although there are lots of areas in this sector that could be enhanced using the technology.

Having a closer look at other industries that currently use blockchain technology, one can give a distinct prediction on how these networks could be used in the educational sector. However, it is also worthy to note that blockchain use in the education setting is still very new and unexplored.

Nonetheless, tremendous progress has already been made from little participation in this technology. Nowadays, blockchain solutions are deployed in simplifying the process of document verification in schools, e.g., Californian Holberton School and other institutions are considering the implementation of the network too.

The Russian platform Disciplina is arguably the first institution to harness the power of blockchain technology on the purpose of education and recruiting. One of the Disciplina applications dubbed TeachMePlease is considered a higher education marketplace that unites teachers and students.

Further, since technology makes it easier to keep track of and store information, schools can test the possibility of deploying blockchain to enhance Information services and libraries in schools.

Blockchain-based ride-sharing applications can also be utilized to arrange carpools for any students with special needs. This takes off the burden of parents or guardians, ensuring that their children get safe transportation since roadways are getting more congested.

Moving away from providing more security for humans, the verification of student records is becoming a significant problem on college campuses, even after students leave the school for work, due to existing vulnerabilities.

Data breaches on schools are mostly directed on student records, wherein the stolen pieces of information are used in creating fake identities by hackers.

To solve this problem, employing blockchain security protocols in the protection of school records renders such attacks on credentials near impossible. As a lot of schools are currently going digital, from kindergarten to university, harnessing blockchain is an unarguably essential tool in ensuring the student’s privacy.

With blockchain, verification of students’ credentials is made easy. As blockchain stores that information in a secure ledger, employers can detect whether the potential candidates have the qualifications stated on their resume before the students can enter the workforce.

6. Blockchain in Agriculture

Farming consists of complicated ecosystems, with a lot of moving parts, seasonal financing structures, as well as careful timing. Once a product leaves the farm to the market, it automatically becomes a part of the vast supply chain that involves a lot of intermediaries.

It becomes so much easier for people to know where the food has been produced through the concept of Blockchain Agriculture. The application of blockchain calls for transparent execution and tracking of pieces of information while making the process of growing and supplying food simpler.

The idea for the blockchain agriculture supply chain feeds all the parties involved with a single source of truth.

A blockchain pilot project financed by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality called “Blockchain for Agrifood,” indicates that the technology allowed for the tracking of farm produces, right from the farm to grocery stores in a moment.

Another compelling use case of the technology is to help keep tabs on abundant commodities on the farm and mitigate the case of shipping fraud and illegal harvesting.

According to data released by the United Nations, food frauds cost the world economy a whopping amount of $40 billion yearly due to illicit trades that the use of blockchain could have significantly reduced.

On a final note, while it is true that most of the blockchain use cases that we’ve mentioned so far only exist theoretically, the level of industry growth that we’ve seen in the last decade raises confidence that the technology will outlive the hype and truly become the foundation for Web 3.0

Yes, with global blockchain revenue expected to hit a conservative $23.3 billion by 2023, one can only help but envisage how widespread the technology will become in the next few years.

The post 6 Industries Blockchain Technology Will Revolutionize appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 6 Jan 2020 | 4:00 pm

4 Unique Growth Tactics for 2020
growth tactics

Marketing tactics change constantly. Each year new tactics become more impactful, and old ones fade into obscurity. Sticking to the same tactics is stale for your current customers and potential customers, too. Instead of just running the same growth tactics for years on end, it’s time to make a switch in 2020. Here are four unique growth tactics you can implement in 2020 to help you make the switch to growth.

1. Optimize Your Sales Pipeline For Engagement

Having a sales pipeline is nothing new. And you probably have a great one in place already. But there is always room for improvement. A significant issue I see in many sales pipelines is a failure to communicate effectively with prospects.

If you have great leads, you need to engage with them to build a relationship consistently.

As Gaetano Dinardi from Nextiva says:

“Engagement is the number one spot that most fall short in closing sales. Whether it’s poor timing on the engagement or simply not enough, engagement literally will make or break your sales. Within your CRM, ensure you are setting up reminders and checking outreach logs to engage often and with better accuracy.” 

Gaetano hits the nail on the head here. Engaging at the right time is just as critical as the amount you engage.

Many fail to engage in fear of “annoying” their prospects or being too intrusive. But engaging doesn’t have to be a sales pitch every single time. It can be as much as asking how you can help, noticing new solutions to their problems, or checking in.

A great way to increase engagement is to vary your engagement style. If customers aren’t receptive to email messages, try engaging them on a new platform, like social media, or SMS.

SMS has become one of my favorite ways to engage prospects throughout the sales funnel. It taps into the idea of conversational marketing, which has proven to be high-converting.

Here are some amazing example texts you can use to engage prospects in your funnel:

  • Hey __, I think this article on social amplification would be a great fit for your (insert pain point).
  • Hey __, I hope the holidays are going well. Did you find a fix for (insert problem they were facing)? If not, I think I have a few solutions.

Once you have scheduled SMS texts in your pipeline, you can start developing other ways to engage prospects for unrivaled growth.

Speaking of more engagement tactics, let’s jump into personalized landing page campaigns.

2. Run Personalized Landing Page Campaigns

Personalization is and will always be a stellar growth tactic. The more you can personalize (to an extent), the better. Your personalized campaigns, web pages, ad copy, are all fantastic ways to speak directly to your target market.

Rather than spinning up generic campaigns, personalized ones convert at higher rates. Why? The answer is because personalized campaigns help you speak directly to pain points, rather than using generalizations.

For example, which one of these value propositions sounds more impactful when speaking to students?

  • Using our calendar scheduling tool, you will never miss an appointment
  • Using our calendar scheduling tool, you can ensure that you find the time to meet with your professors that fits both of your busy schedules.

The answer is number two. Personalization is currently critical and will continue to be in 2020. But, how can you take it to the next level and create unique experiences for your potential clients to help you grow? By building personalized landing page campaigns.

What’s is a personal landing page?

Essentially, personalized landing page campaigns are used to sell to more premium and high-value target accounts in addition to specific niche segments. For example, if you wanted to land Microsoft as a client, you’d spin up a dedicated, personalized page for them on your site. Conversely, for less distinct target segments, you can still personalize landing pages.

Let me show you what a personal landing page looks like in action.

Take a look at this landing page from MailChimp: 

What do you notice? 

It’s not their standard homepage. Instead, it’s a near replica of its website homepage, just targeted via copywriting and images to focus on startups. Instead of generic copywriting and headlines, they focus the value proposition to startups. A value proposition is how you can convert at higher rates.

Compare the landing page to their homepage: 

Not much changed besides the copywriting and images. 

So, how is Mailchimp doing this at scale?

One of the best options (and my personal favorite) is to use website builders.

Why? Simply put — they are cheap, easy to use, and help you scale this for multiple targets or segments.

The folks over at Website Setup published a study where they mentioned some average costs:

“Building a good custom website could easily cost $2000 (on the low end). Making changes to the website can still require a freelance designer and a webmaster to help you continually update your site (read: you need to spend additional $$$).” 

Case and point: website builders are faster, much cheaper, and perfectly suited for this type of growth tactic.

The only problem is: which website builder do you choose?

There are currently dozens and dozens of website building platforms with different costs, tools, usability, skill level, and ratings. There’s a great breakdown of the best ones on Website Setup:

Pick one website builder that matches your price range and usability. Remember: you want to scale these pages fast and with templates / drag-and-drop. Look through the top building tools and pick one that allows you to do what you want to within your price range and usability.

You don’t need custom development to get the job done. When trying to close deals with major client accounts, you need to be able to run personalized pages fast. Going back and forth with a developer is usually far from fast.

Instead, implement a website builder and get the job done fast.

3. Build Authority Faster By Being a Journalist Source

Building brand authority is a growth tactic in and of itself. Without a brand name and social proof, growth can be extremely slow. When you think of inbound marketing, what comes to mind? HubSpot? That’s branding.

Branding helps you attract new customers by setting yourself apart from the competition, showcasing that your brand is the right choice.

One of the fastest ways to do your branding is by becoming a source for journalists. What does that mean? Essentially, you provide tidbits of information to help improve articles for journalists.

It often comes in the form of quotes and advice. For instance, take a look at this post from Incredo on SaaS Christmas marketing:

Many experts contribute their opinions and information to the article, helping both the journalist and their own brands. 

Thankfully, doing this is extremely easy, and it’s one of my favorite PR hacks.

Create a free account with HARO (Help a Reporter Out). HARO is a service that journalists use to list their article topics and what they need from experts, whether that be quotes, advice, or more. Once you sign up with HARO and create your account, you can decide which niches to get notified about.

If you want to contribute to general business, marketing, finance, health, etc. You can select specific segments. 

Each day you will receive emails listing out journalists who are looking for quotes:

Many of the journalists using HARO are writing for significant publications, too. For example, take a look at this query from a journalist at FastCompany:

Typically, cold emails to journalists at huge publications like FastCompany would result in deleted or ignored emails. But utilizing HARO, you can share your expertise and showcase your brand to potentially millions of monthly readers. With most contributions, you will also earn a link back to your website, driving direct referral traffic that converts.

In 2020, start focusing heavily on building more brand awareness. It’s one of the driving forces of purchase decisions.

4. Diversify Your Content Marketing Formats

Content is king. We all know this and experience it daily when searching for solutions on Google. Content is both useful and enjoyable to consume for business and pleasure. Everyone seems to be blogging and writing new content to drive organic traffic that converts. The problem is: blog content is often not unique for the majority of people producing it.

Millions of blog posts are published every single day, making them a common growth tactic. But in 2020, content is shifting from just written content to two more unique formats:

Podcasts and videos.

While blog posts garner just 15 seconds of attention on average, people are watching hours of video content and listening to hours more of podcast content daily. Now is the time to branch out into more than just keyword-driven blog content. Platforms like Spotify and Apple Music are goldmines for organic traffic and brand awareness.

Currently, there are nearly 100 categories on Apple for podcasts, let alone Spotify, SoundCloud, and other services.

(Image Source)

Any and every business can develop interesting podcast content that is easily digestible, driving more organic visits, brand awareness, and more. Don’t know what to talk about on a podcast? Or how to market your podcast?
Start by looking at your blog and analyzing the latest posts you have written:

For example, looking at the ReadWrite blog, I already notice multiple blog topics that can be repurposed into topics for a podcast.

  • Why Productivity and Customer Experience go Hand in Hand
  • Digital marketing in the government sector

If there is a category for your niche on Apple podcasts, there are eager listeners waiting for you to deliver stellar content.


If you want to grow your business in 2020, repeating the same overused tactics isn’t your best bet. While you can still hammer home the fundamentals — there are plenty of unique growth tactics at your disposal.

Implement these four unique growth tactics in the coming year for improved growth and success.

What are some of your favorite unique growth tactics? Which have had the biggest impacts?

The post 4 Unique Growth Tactics for 2020 appeared first on ReadWrite.

Source: ReadWrite | 6 Jan 2020 | 2:00 pm

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