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Google Chrome is finally turning to the dark side on Mac and Windows

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: Google is preparing to launch a dark mode for the macOS and Windows 10 versions of its Chrome web browser.

According to a 9to5Google report, the dark mode is currently in testing within the Canary developer builds of the browser. The report says the dark mode, currently being tracked within the dev builds, now respects the system-wide dark modes on both platforms.

So, if you enable the dark mode as a preference on operating system level, you won’t be blinded every time you open the Google Chrome browser. The new feature has been spied by Reddit and Twitter users who’re rocking the Chrome v.74 browser within the Canary channel.

Videos posted online show that, if the setting is changed at system level while Chrome is open, the open web window will switch to dark mode automatically. Pretty cool, huh?

This doesn’t mean that all websites will start appearing in dark mode, but the omnibox and the rest of the settings within Chrome will showcase the darker appearance. The dark mode will rollout to the stable channel in April, according to the report.

Google has gradually been working on updating its apps to support the retina-friendly dark modes, with the forthcoming Android Q operating system believed to be offering it across the platform.

Courtesy: (trustedreviews.com)

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Italy to ban Huawei from its 5G plans: Paper

MILAN (REUTERS): Italy will ban China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp from playing a role in the roll-out of the country’s 5G infrastructure, Italy’s La Stampa newspaper said on Thursday (Feb 7) citing sources.

In order to do so, the Italian government is ready to use so-called golden powers that allow it to pull out of contracts already signed without having to pay penalties, the paper said, citing the senior sources.

The paper cited sources as saying “strong pressure” had come from the United States.

Huawei faces international scrutiny over its ties with the Chinese government and suspicion Beijing could use its technology for spying, which the company denies.

The prime minister’s office was not immediately available for comment.

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Melting ice sheets may cause ‘climate chaos’: study

PARIS (AFP): Billions of tonnes of meltwater flowing into the world’s oceans from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could boost extreme weather and destabilise regional climate within a matter of decades, researchers said on Wednesday.

These melting giants, especially the one atop Greenland, are poised to further weaken the ocean currents that move cold water south along the Atlantic Ocean floor while pushing tropical waters northward closer to the surface, they reported in the journal Nature.

Known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), this liquid conveyor belt plays a crucial role in Earth’s climate system and helps ensures the relative warmth of the Northern Hemisphere.

“According to our models, this meltwater will cause significant disruptions to ocean currents and change levels of warming around the world,” said lead author Nicholas Golledge, an associate professor at the Antarctic Research Centre of New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington.

The Antarctic ice sheet’s loss of mass, meanwhile, traps warmer water below the surface, eroding glaciers from underneath in a vicious circle of accelerated melting that contributes to sea level rise.

Most studies on ice sheets have focused on how quickly they might shrink due to global warming, and how much global temperatures can rise before their disintegration — whether over centuries or millenia — becomes inevitable, a threshold known as a ‘tipping point.’

But far less research has been done on how the meltwater might affect the climate system itself.

“The large-scale changes we see in our simulations are conducive to a more chaotic climate with more extreme weather events and more intense and frequent heatwaves,” co-author Natalya Gomez, a researcher in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at McGill University in Canada, told AFP.

“By mid-century,” the researchers concluded, “meltwater from the Greenland ice sheet noticeably disrupts the AMOC,” which has already shown signs of slowing down.

This is a “much shorter timescale than expected,” commented Helene Seroussi, a researcher in the Sea Level and Ice Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, who was not involved in the study.

The findings were based on highly detailed simulations combined with satellite observations of changes to the ice sheets since 2010.

One likely result of weakened current in the Atlantic will be warmer air temperatures in the high Arctic, eastern Canada and central America, and cooler temperatures over northwestern Europe and the North American eastern seaboard.

The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, up to three kilometres thick, contain more than two-thirds of the planet’s fresh water, enough to raise global oceans 58 and seven metres, respectively, were they to melt completely.

Climate change ‘increased frequency of disasters’

Besides Greenland, the regions most vulnerable to global warming are West Antarctica and several huge glaciers in East Antarctica, which is far larger and more stable.

In a second study published on Wednesday in Nature, some of the same scientists offered new projections of how much Antarctica will contribute to sea level rise by 2100 — a hotly debated topic.

A controversial 2016 study suggested the continent’s ice cliffs — exposed by the disintegration of ice shelves that jut out from glaciers over ocean water — were highly vulnerable to collapse, and could lead to sea level rise of a metre by century’s end.

That would be enough to displace up to 187 million people around the world, especially in populous low-lying river deltas in Asia and Africa, research has shown.

But the new study challenges those findings.

“Unstable ice-cliffs were proposed as a cause of unstoppable collapse of large parts of the ice sheet,” said lead author Tamsin Edwards, a lecturer in geography at King’s College London.

“But we’ve re-analysed the data and found this isn’t the case.”

Both of the news studies, Edwards told AFP, “predict a most likely Antarctic contribution of 15 centimetres” by 2100, with an upward limit of about 40 cm.

A special report on oceans by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due out in September, will offer a much anticipated estimate of sea level rise.

The IPCC’s last major assessment in 2013 did not take ice sheets — today seen as the major contributor, ahead of thermal expansion and glaciers — into account for lack of data.

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Russia to fly US Astronauts to ISS ahead of schedule

MOSCOW: Russia will fulfill a contract on flying the US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and bringing them back on the Russian Soyuz manned spacecraft in December of 2019, a month and a half ahead of schedule, a source in the Russian space industry told Sputnik.

“The previous version of the ISS flight program provided for the return of foreign astronauts, under a contract with the US side, from the station to Earth on the Soyuz spacecraft on February 6, 2020.

Now, this deadline has shifted to December 18, 2019 in connection with the refinement of the ISS flight program,” the source said.

Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said that Russia’s contractual obligations to the United States to transport US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) will expire in April 2019.

Courtesy: (Sputnik)

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Facebook Messenger gives users option to delete sent messages

CALIFORNIA (AFP): Facebook on Tuesday added a Messenger feature for anyone who has fired off a comment they regretted – a way to take it back.

Messenger users will now have a 10-minute window after sending a message to undo it, leaving behind a note telling everyone in a conversation that the remark was removed, according to the leading online social network.

“Have you ever accidentally sent a message to the wrong group of friends, mistyped something, or simply wanted to remove a message in a chat?” Facebook asked rhetorically.

“You’re not the only one! Starting today, we are launching a feature where you can easily remove your message on Messenger.”

Facebook owns the mobile messaging application used by more than a billion people.

Early last year it was revealed that Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was apparently able to remove his sent messages, which caused pressure to make the feature available to all.

The freshly added feature will let people tap on a message shown in a Messenger conversation then select a “Remove for Everyone” option, which will only be available for 10 minutes from when it was sent.

The remove feature will be available on mobile devices powered by the latest versions of Apple or Android software, according to Facebook.

WhatsApp, another mobile messaging app owned by Facebook already has the feature available.

The ‘Delete for Everyone’ option gives the users same functionality, however, the time window to do so in WhatsApp -at one hour – is way more than Messenger.

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Winter is wreaking havoc on electric vehicles

Tyler Durden

If there’s one thing electric vehicle owners are learning, it is that extremely cold temperatures are likely going to lead to frustration if they don’t take extra special care of their battery powered vehicles. Look at it as just another added benefit to “saving the world”.

As we push through the cold that automakers are using as an excuse for poor sales this winter, customers of some companies – notably Tesla – are starting to realize that things are a little bit different with electric vehicles in the winter. Disgruntled owners of Model 3s have been widespread on social media and online forums, talking about numerous issues they’ve had with cold weather on their vehicles. People have complained about battery range draining and Model 3 door handles freezing up.

A new report by Fortune highlights several Tesla owners pointing out their issues: “My biggest concern is the cold weather drained my battery 20 to 25 miles overnight and an extra five to ten miles on my drive to work. I paid $60,000 to not drain my battery so quickly,” said New Jersey based Model 3 owner Ronak Patel.

The pro-EV lot over at InsideEVs stated frankly back in December, “Cold weather demands a long range battery” before also encouraging people to shell out more money: “…if you reside in a colder region and can afford to spring for the long-range Model 3, then come winter, you’ll be glad you made that choice.”

Salim Morsy, an analyst with Bloomberg, stated: “It’s Panasonic that manufactures Tesla batteries. It’s not something specific to Tesla. It happens to Chevy with the Bolt and Nissan with the Leaf.”

Additionally, the door design that Tesla used for the Model 3 as part of its appeal to be “different” continues to come back and bite owners during the winter. As we previously had noted during a cold spell in Quebec late last year, owners were having difficulty getting their handles out from their recessed spots in order to open the doors to their car. This has left some owners complaining and others writing to Tesla (or even Elon Musk on Twitter) looking for a fix.

Pro-Tesla blogger Frederic Lambert was himself unable to get into his vehicle back in November when he documented his own issues in this hilarious video in which he couldn’t get into his own car:

“Jesus Christ!” Lambert exclaimed about 53 seconds into the video, hands shaking from the cold, upon finally getting his door handle to pop out.

“What’s specific to Tesla,” Morsy continued, “is the quality of manufacturing.”

Meanwhile, Andrea Falcone from Boston, who bought a Model 3 about two months ago, stated on Twitter: “I can’t wait all day for this silly car.”

As with everything, Elon Musk tweeted that there would be an over the air software update that would address how cars are holding up in cold weather. Given that the company can’t physically readjust door handles over the air, we’re guessing the fix will wind up being something that puts further pressure on an already drained battery. And recall, back in November, we had already reported that Tesla was going to “fix” these issues with a vague software update.

In terms of that “fix”, it looks as though the only thing that was addressed was the window not always coming down after the door opened. Since there are no door frames on the Model 3 doors, the window rolling down is semi-necessary to help open the door once the handle has popped out.

In the release notes of its new software improvement in late 2018, Tesla said very little:

“Window position and charge connector locking behaviors have been optimized for cold weather.”

As we stated back in November, we’re still waiting for Elon Musk’s software update that’ll stop cold weather altogether.

Courtesy: (zerohedge.com)

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Huawei to unveil its foldable phone this month

Monitoring Desk

ISLAMBAD: While some other smartphone giants are still giving hints about their next-generation foldable phones, Huawei has already sent out invites for its event to be held later this month where it will finally launch the phone, which might also happen to be a 5G device.

The Chinese smartphone behemoth recently posted a teaser picture on Twitter of ‘the unprecedented’ confirming that it will show off its much awaited foldable phone at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) to be held on February 24.

It was long rumored that Huawei has been working on the phone. Though Huawei didn’t directly mention that it’s a foldable phone, but the teaser image labeled ‘Connecting the Future’, shows the outline of a foldable phone with a mention of date and time for the unpacking. Moreover, tweets following the post also suggest that this might also be a 5G device, making it the ‘world’s first 5G foldable phone’.

Samsung too is expected to reveal its foldable device in the first half of 2019, but the firm still hasn’t confirmed a date. Rumor has it that the device will be unveiled on February 20, 2019 along with its Galaxy S10 series.

Courtesy: (brecorder.com)

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WhatsApp to add a couple of great new features soon

Monitoring Desk

WhatsApp stickers were a huge deal when they launched, but they’re getting a couple of new features to make them even better

When WhatsApp launched stickers there was a load of interest in these cute new additions to the popular Facebook-owned chat app. They gave users a new way to communicate and are slightly more flexible than Emoji.

However there was one slight problem – you had to download a whole pack, perhaps filled with irrelevant stickers that you didn’t want. But the company is changing that, allowing users to pick a single sticker, or a couple of favourites, do download instead.

To use the feature you’ll currently need the beta of WhatsApp. Don’t worry though, it should roll-out to everyone very soon.

When you are going through the stickers in WhatsApp you’ll be able to press and hold that sticker and add it into your favourites – with that done, you can then use the sticker in chats without getting the whole pack.

All we need now is a slightly more expanded sticker selection to keep people interested.

That’s not all for Stickers either. Before there was a need to use the standard Android keyboard to use the feature. However Whatsapp is also adding in support for third-party keyboards.

Previously only the standard Android keyboard would give you easy access to stickers on an easy-to-find button. On devices like Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro, which uses Swiftkey, the sticker button uses non-standard pictures instead of the official stickers.

It’s not clear which third-parties will adopt this though, with some perhaps prefering to stick to their own systems.

At the moment the only keyboard getting support for stickers is Gboard, which is admittedly a Google-owned keyboard. But there’s no reason that stickers won’t be added to other keyboards as well.

On iOS things work differently with keyboards and the sticker button is located in the text box. That means that you can use any third-party keyboard and still be able to add stickers to the chat.

Courtesy: (mirror.co.uk)

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The ‘stuff’ of the universe keeps changing

Monitoring Desk

OHIO: The composition of the universe—the elements that are the building blocks for every bit of matter—is ever-changing and ever-evolving, thanks to the lives and deaths of stars.

An outline of how those elements form as stars grow and explode and fade and merge is detailed in a review article published Jan. 31 is the journal Science.

“The universe went through some very interesting changes, where all of a sudden the periodic table—the total number of elements in the universe—changed a lot,” said Jennifer Johnson, a professor of astronomy at The Ohio State University and the article’s author.

“For 100 million years after the Big Bang, there was nothing but hydrogen, helium and lithium. And then we started to get carbon and oxygen and really important things. And now, we’re kind of in the glory days of populating the periodic table.”

The periodic table has helped humans understand the elements of the universe since the 1860s, when a Russian chemist, Dmitri Mendeleev, recognized that certain elements behaved the same way chemically, and organized them into a chart—the periodic table.

It is chemistry’s way of organizing elements, helping scientists from elementary school to the world’s best laboratories understand how materials around the universe come together.

But, as scientists have long known, the periodic table is just made of stardust: Most elements on the periodic table, from the lightest hydrogen to heavier elements like lawrencium, started in stars.

The table has grown as new elements have been discovered—or in cases of synthetic elements, have been created in laboratories around the world—but the basics of Mendeleev’s understanding of atomic weight and the building blocks of the universe have held true.

Nucleosynthesis—the process of creating a new element—began with the Big Bang, about 13.7 billion years ago. The lightest elements in the universe, hydrogen and helium, were also the first, results of the Big Bang. But heavier elements—just about every other element on the periodic table—are largely the products of the lives and deaths of stars.

Johnson said that high-mass stars, including some in the constellation Orion, about 1,300 light years from Earth, fuse elements much faster than low-mass stars. These grandiose stars fuse hydrogen and helium into carbon, and turn carbon into magnesium, sodium and neon. High-mass stars die by exploding into supernovae, releasing elements—from oxygen to silicon to selenium—into space around them.

Smaller, low-mass stars—stars about the size of our own Sun—fuse hydrogen and helium together in their cores. That helium then fuses into carbon. When the small star dies, it leaves behind a white dwarf star. White dwarfs synthesize other elements when they merge and explode. An exploding white dwarf might send calcium or iron into the abyss surrounding it. Merging neutron stars might create rhodium or xenon. And because, like humans, stars live and die on different time scales—and because different elements are produced as a star goes through its life and death—the composition of elements in the universe also changes over time.

“One of the things I like most about this is how it takes several different processes for stars to make elements and these processes are interestingly distributed across the periodic table,” Johnson said. “When we think of all the elements in the universe, it is interesting to think about how many stars gave their lives—and not just high-mass stars blowing up into supernovae. It’s also some stars like our Sun, and older stars. It takes a nice little range of stars to give us elements.”

Courtesy: (phys.org)

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Apple Music takes flight on American Airlines

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: On American Airlines, Apple Music subscribers can listen to curated playlists, such as The New Chicago, with no Wi-Fi purchase required.

Starting Friday, Apple Music subscribers can enjoy their access to over 50 million songs, playlists and music videos on any domestic American Airlines flight equipped with Viasat satellite Wi-Fi with no Wi-Fi purchase required. American Airlines is the first commercial airline to provide exclusive access to Apple Music through complimentary inflight Wi-Fi.

“For most travelers, having music to listen to on the plane is just as important as anything they pack in their suitcases,” said Oliver Schusser, vice president of Apple Music. “With the addition of Apple Music on American flights, we are excited that customers can now enjoy their music in even more places. Subscribers can stream all their favorite songs and artists in the air, and continue to listen to their personal library offline, giving them everything they need to truly sit back, relax and enjoy their flight.”

1. On any domestic American Airlines flight, connect to the complimentary inflight Wi-Fi and open Apple Music.

2. Listen to your library, the Beats 1 Global Livestream or curated playlists.

3. Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.

“Our guests want to make the most of their time when flying us. That’s why we’re investing in faster Wi-Fi, a variety of entertainment options, and why we’re so excited to introduce Apple Music to more of our customers,” said Janelle Anderson, vice president of Global Marketing at American. “Providing customers with more ways to stay connected throughout each flight is one way to show we value their business and the time they spend with us.”

Apple Music subscribers on American Airlines flights can enjoy the world’s most exciting new music and unique city-themed playlists for their journey, in addition to exclusive content such as in-depth artist interviews and today’s hottest sounds on the Beats 1 global livestream. To enjoy Apple Music during flight, customers on Viasat-equipped aircraft can connect to Wi-Fi at no cost and log in with their Apple Music subscription. Customers who don’t already have an Apple Music subscription can get Apple Music, sign up onboard and receive free access for three months. Apple Music is available on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, Apple TV, PC, Android, CarPlay, HomePod, Sonos and Amazon Echo. 

Apple loves music. With iPod and iTunes, Apple revolutionized the music experience by putting a thousand songs in your pocket. Today, Apple Music takes this to the ultimate with over 50 million songs, thousands of playlists and daily selections from the world’s best music experts including Beats 1 Radio, a global live stream. Since 2015, Apple Music has welcomed tens of millions of subscribers in 115 countries. Streaming seamlessly to iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, HomePod and CarPlay, Apple Music is the most complete music experience on the planet.

Courtesy: (apple.com)