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Top 9 Free AI Tools That Make Your Life Easier


Photo:- Copy.ai


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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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



Speaking of brands, getting a  good logo for your brand is the most frustrating 

thing ever, so brandmark.io makes it super easy.  It will create a logo for your brand within 2 clicks. So you goto this website. Type in your brand name and slogan if you have any, and give BRAND KEYWORDS that relate to your brand,  then pick a color style and done, the ai will generate amazing logos for you. 

You can also make  minor edits to the suggested logos to better fit your needs as well. But to get that png you need  to pay a hefty price, but if you are looking for some logo ideas, this is a great place to start.



Even in the previous websites, some  had picture enlarger tools. This deep-image.ai is a dedicated image enlarger, which supports upto 3x  enlargement for free. The UI is pretty good and the tool is pretty fast with amazing results.


Bigjpg does the same as  deep-image.ai , but this service offers a little bit more options like if your photo is an artwork  it scales image differently than normal photos and it supports upto 4x enlargement for free  and you can also set noise reduction options. Very good tool,


Lumen5 is an  online marketing video maker that makes it really easy to create branding or informational videos  within a couple of clicks. They have really great templates and various aspect ratios for various  social media platforms. 
You can also edit each element of the video if you don't like the preset,  and the best part is, they have a ton of , I mean a ton of free stock photos and videos.You can also  upload your own videos or any type of media. Definitely a good tool if you don't know how  to work with complex tools like after effects, but want to create a sick video for your brand.




If you are struggling to find  good names for your brand or youtube channel, give 

namelix a try. It's an ai based name generator  that will suggest good names for your brand depending on the keyword that you give..  Also logo for your brand. Pretty cool and an amazing piece of tool. So that's been it , those are my favourite free AI based tools that you can use right now,

Which one You like the most Let me know in the Comments below.  


Posted on 24 January 2022 | 12:07 pm

Tonga struggles with ash, psychological trauma after eruption and tsunami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 23 January 2022 | 12:25 pm

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

omicron

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

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

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

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

Fewer Delta breakthroughs with Moderna vs Pfizer/BioNTech

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

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

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

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

Posted on 23 January 2022 | 12:09 pm

Scientists scrutinise characteristics of new Omicron sub-variant

 

Image Credit:CIPhotos via Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted on 23 January 2022 | 11:57 am

WhatsApp plans transfer of data between Android, iOS devices

whatsapp

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 23 January 2022 | 11:52 am

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


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

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

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

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

Posted on 22 January 2022 | 1:35 pm

Russian c.bank proposes banning cryptocurrencies, crypto mining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CRYPTO MINING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 20 January 2022 | 1:15 pm

EXCLUSIVE TikTok owner ByteDance's revenue growth slowed to 70% in 2021 - sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


 

Posted on 20 January 2022 | 12:46 pm

Microsoft-Activision deal gives merger speculators a new darling

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

Posted on 20 January 2022 | 12:33 pm

AUSTRIA ADDS A LOTTERY TO COVID VACCINE MANDATE


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

Posted on 20 January 2022 | 12:17 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 20 January 2022 | 12:10 pm

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

 

REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

Source: Reuters

Posted on 19 January 2022 | 12:20 pm

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

Photo Credit: Fabrice Coffrini | Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



 

Posted on 19 January 2022 | 11:55 am

WHATSAPP FOR ANDROID, DESKTOP TO GET NEW FEATURES

WhatsApp

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted on 19 January 2022 | 11:54 am

Microsoft to gobble up Activision in $69 billion metaverse bet

Activision

 (Mike Blake, Reuters)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

"Microsoft is already big in gaming," he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'METAVERSE ARMS RACE'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Reuters




Posted on 19 January 2022 | 11:53 am

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

iphone 13
Photo credit: Gadgets Now

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

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

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

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

Posted on 18 January 2022 | 2:27 pm

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

exynos 2200


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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 18 January 2022 | 2:07 pm

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

Eternals
Photo credit: Marvel Studios

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

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

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

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

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Posted on 18 January 2022 | 1:46 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Posted on 17 January 2022 | 12:33 pm

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


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

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

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

Moody's (MCO)

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

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

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

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

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

Apple (AAPL)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Procter & Gamble (PG)

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Yahoo News


Posted on 17 January 2022 | 12:20 pm

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

Oppo find x5
Image Credit: Onleaks

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


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


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

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

Posted on 17 January 2022 | 11:54 am

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where did the tsunami hit?

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


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


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


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


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


What is happening with the ash cloud?


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

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

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

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

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

What is the scale of devastation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted on 17 January 2022 | 11:37 am

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

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


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


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


>

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

Buy The Google Pixel 6 Pro On Amazon

Buy the Google Pixel 6 on Amazon


Source: NoteBook Check


Posted on 16 January 2022 | 5:01 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: CNBC


Posted on 16 January 2022 | 4:07 pm

Microsoft discloses malware attack on Ukraine govt networks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Posted on 16 January 2022 | 10:57 am