According to new statistics, WhatsApp has officially reached 800 million active users, a milestone which proves its popularity as in the world of messaging apps.
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum commented on Facebook on Friday to say that the messaging app has passed the 800 million active user mark this month. Facebook had bought WhatsApp in 2014 for a reasonable $22 billion, and given the time of Koum’s statement, this is suggesting the app has added more than 100 million active users every four months since August 2014. WhatsApp had 600 million users at that time, while in January 2015, the messaging app announced its 700 million user.
WhatsApp’s popularity has increased significantly over the past few months, as it is now the most popular enterprise on the messaging apps market, including Facebook’s very own Messenger. As WhatsApp allows users to send text messages trough the app, it has become a cheap and viable alternative to traditional texting. It is also a choice when compared to traditional voice calls, because WhatsApp now allows its users to receive calls on the app itself.
It is possible that WhatsApp may soon hit another milestone: one billion users. The step is not at all inconceivable, and if it will happen, as it is expected, that would turn WhatsApp into a faster-growing application than its own parent company. The messaging app is also more popular than Twitter, which announced 288 million active users per month in February, but also than Instagram, which released a statement in December in which it says it has 300 million active users.
Facebook needed around eight years to reach one billion, WhatsApp will get there more rapidly. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long said that WhatsApp will only turn into a big player in its parent company once that one billion milestone is crossed.
“What I’d say around messaging is we’re pretty early in that cycle. We are about where Facebook was in around 2006 or 2007, where, at that point, Facebook is really just a consumer product. There were no businesses in the ecosystem,” said Mark Zuckerberg recently.
WhatsApp has released an update to its Android app that offers clients the possibility to backup their conversations to Google Drive, a service that had been long demanded by users.
Image Source: I Know Today
The NASA Messenger spacecraft has been orbiting Mercury for four years. After collecting data, the probe is close to running out of fuel. The spacecraft is going to crash on the small planet’s surface at approximately 8,750 miles per hour.
Mission operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, have been performing a number of orbit corrections that will postpone the spacecraft’s inevitable crash.
The final controlled operations will take place next Friday, April 24.
“Following this last maneuver, we will finally declare the spacecraft out of propellant, as this maneuver will deplete nearly all of our remaining helium gas. At that point, the spacecraft will no longer be capable of fighting the downward push of the sun’s gravity,” Daniel O’Shaughnessy, mission systems engineer at APL, said in a press release. “”
The impact is expected to happen on April 30.Scientists are however hoping the new impact crater will offer them new insight into the planet.
“Having an impact crater, even a small one, whose origin date is known, will be an important clue,” said the mission’s principal investigator Sean Solomon, the director of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York.
The Messenger spacecraft was launched eleven years ago and was caught by the planet’s orbit on March 18, 2011.
While the probe’s mission may be ending soon, researchers are gathering up all they’ve learned about Mercury with the help pf the spacecraft. The data may even hold some information on the formation of life on Earth.
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, where temperatures can peak at 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Craters from the tiny planet at the poles and lay permanently in shadow. In 2012, Messenger found evidence of water ice deposits and other chemical material trapped in those polar regions. It also discovered a dark layer on top of the ice, believed to be organic material.
Researchers believe those materials came to the planet much like Messenger will get there: by crashing.
“The water now stored in ice deposits in the permanently shadowed floors of impact craters at Mercury’s poles most likely was delivered to the innermost planet by the impacts of comets and volatile-rich asteroids. “Those same impacts also likely delivered the dark organic material,” Solomon said in a press release.
The evidence discovered by Messenger is supporting the theory that asteroids and comets are delivering ice and organic materials and could have been the source of life on Earth.
Image Source: Huffington Post
Researchers have found an almost complete skeleton of a species of 10-foot-tall carnivorous bird with hooked beak. The so called terror bird used to roam trough South America in search of prey around 3.5 million years ago, but now scientists are discovering surprising things about their anatomy and especially their hearing.
The results of the study were published Thursday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Researchers found the excellently preserved fossil back in 2010 on a beach in Mar del Plata, a city on the Atlantic coast of Argentina. To their surprise, the fossil is the most intact skeleton of a terror bird ever discovered, with approximately 90 percent of its bones preserved.
Federico Degrange, the study’s lead researcher, named the new species Llallawavis scagliai. The assistant researcher of vertebrate paleontology at the Centro de Investigaciones en Ciencias de la Tierra and the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina offered the fossil this interesting name from “Llallawa” a term that means “magnificent” in Quechua, a language used by the people from the central Andes, and “avis,” which is “bird” in Latin. The name also honors the prestigious Argentine naturalist Galileo Juan Scaglia (1915-1989).
The researchers that the bird’s skull was more tough than those of other birds. A skull like that could have aided the terror bird to slam prey with its huge and powerful beak.
The specimen is the first known terror bird with a complete roof of the mouth and complete trachea. The fossil even include the complicate bones of the bird’s ears, brain box and skull, eye sockets, which offers scientists an unparalleled glimpse at the flightless creature sensory capabilities.
An analysis of the bird’s inner ear network aims towards the fact that the terror bird perceived low-frequency sounds,which is a huge advantage for predators. It hunted by listening for the low noises made by their prey’s footsteps as it touched the ground, the scientists added. The new discovery also suggest that the terror bird also used low-frequency noises for communication.
“That actually tells us quite a bit about what the animals do, simply because low-frequency sounds tend to propagate across the environment with little change in volume,” explained Lawrence Witmer, a professor of anatomy at Ohio University.
Among other animals that could hear low-frequency sounds were dinosaurs Tyrannosaurus rex. In present times, crocodiles, rhinos and elephants are also capable of doing this.
Image Source: International Business Times
Hillary Clinton is considering to launch her presidential bid on Sunday through a video message on social media, according to CNN. After this step, she will travel to Iowa and New Hampshire to start presenting her case to voters.
The journey to Iowa, where a third-place score in 2008 led to crumbling of her presidential ambitions, shows that Hillary Clinton is taking a commitment to not leave anything up to chance in her second bid for the White House, even though she is the favorite in the Democratic field in 2016.
Clinton has already shot her campaign video. It outlines the main themes of her bid for the presidency. The message aims at sending a signal to Democrats that she wants to aggressively combat for the party’s presidential nomination.
The focus of Clinton’s second presidential bid will be on reintroducing the former first lady to the American people. Democrats whom are close to Clinton have begun to call her the most unknown famous person in the world. Their argument is that people recognize the name of Clinton, but they are not aware of her story.
Clinton will probably trade large rallies for a series of smaller events with voters, as she aims to reintroduce herself to voters. Her supporters have asked Clinton to take more time to meet people directly and build their trust.
Clinton’s presidential campaign has long been expected. Speculation that she would make another bid for the White House has followed the former first lady since she departed from the State Department in the first months of 2013.
For a large part of the last two years, Hillary Clinton has traveled around the country delivering paid speeches, but also promoting her new memoir.
In the coming months, the Clinton campaign will use themes such as her Midwestern upbringing and her time raising a daughter to cast the presidential candidate in a more favorable light than she was seen back in the 2008 presidential run.
Voters in Iowa were delighted to see they can connect with Clinton in their homes or in coffee shops, but those small events were rare in 2008, compared to speeches and large rallies. For the 2016 elections, Clinton wants to bring out more her empathetic side, which was not seen during her previous bid for the White House.
Image Source: Huffington Post
According to NASA scientists, discovering alien will most likely happen in less than a decade.
Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA, said in a statement that scientists will find evidence of alien life within a decade.
Stofan said that the scientists know where and how to look for life beyond our Planet. The scientists have the necessary technology and are on the right path to implement it. Stofan added that she is positive that this will happen.
Stofan is not the only NASA scientist who is optimistic about finding alien life in the near future.
John Grunsfeld, a former astronaut and an associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said that he agrees with Stofan’s statements and believes that humans will find signs of alien life relatively soon, both in our solar system and beyond it.
Grunsfeld added that:
“I think we’re one generation away in our solar system, whether it’s on an icy moon or on Mars and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star.”
According to Grunsfeld, there are many recent discoveries suggesting that in our solar system and the Milky Way galaxy there are planets that could support forms of life.
One of Grunsfeld’s examples was the recent discovery of Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede that have oceans of liquid water beneath their icy crust.
Also, he talked about Enceladus, which is a satellite of Saturn. Grunsfeld made a reference to Mars, which was covered in oceans a very long time ago and still holds evidence of that.
Recently, NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered organic molecules that contain carbon and “fixed” nitrogen, which are some of the ingredients that are needed for life to exist.
NASA’s Kepler telescope suggests that almost every star in the sky could host a planet, and most of these planets may host forms of life.
Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division, commented that just as the solar system is abundant in water, so is the greater galaxy.
According to Hertz, the Milky Way is very “soggy”. The scientists have seen water in the interstellar clouds that help form stellar and planetary systems.
There is water in the disks of debris that will turn into planetary systems surrounding the stars, Hertz stated.
Stofan said that searching for evidence of extraterrestrial life is more difficult than finding environments that could be habitable but NASA will not give up and will keep up with its expeditions in order to achieve this ambitious goal.
Image Source: youthareawesome
A Chinese Internet regulator declared Google’s decision of ceasing to recognize its trust certificates as unacceptable, as it would discourage Chrome browser users from logging in on sites covered by their authority.
On Wednesday, a post on Google’s official security blog declared that China Internet Network Information Center’s (CNNIC) certificate authorities will no longer be recognized. Their decision followed a thorough investigation into a claim that CNNIC was responsible for a potential security lapse in March.
One of the direct consequences of this resolution is that some users of Google’s Chrome, ranked as world’s number one Internet browser, might be warned if they attempt to access sites covered by CNNIC. So far, it’s not very clear how many websites this situation implies, and how many warning messages will be displayed.
CNNIC is a major player involved in China’s Internet administering, focusing on allocation and certification of web domain names and IP addresses. Following Google’s decision, the company urged them to reconsider in light of user rights and interests. CNNIC also released a statement on its website, calling Google’s ruling “unintelligible”.
Most of CNNIC’s certificates are designed to make sure the connection between Internet users and websites is secure, and their ability to respect that very goal was put under scrutiny last week. Google claimed the Chinese agency had broken their users’ trust by allowing MCS Holdings to release unauthorized certificates for some of Google’s domains.
Google’s policy of making Internet connections secure by avoiding ‘man-in-the-middle’ hacking attacks had been broken; such attacks are very harmful, as they can intercept and modify communications.
It was not only Google Chrome that changed its stance towards CNNIC, but also Microsoft Corp and Mozilla, the top of world’s most-used web browsers; they have also denied trust of those unauthorized certificates, following Google’s official blog post.
There is still some good news for CNNIC, as Google stated that they will consider a reapplication for recognition is the Chinese provider will fix their procedural controls and becomes suitable again from the technical point of view.
MCS Holdings also released a statement on its official website, explaining that the security lapse was a mistake, as they were trying to test the certificates issued to it by CNNIC; instead of making on the public domain, the testing was supposed to be confined in a controlled environment.
Due to censorship concerns, local Google search engine has been shut down ever since 2010, and most of the services and features offered by the company are inaccessible in China.
Image Source: News China
Microsoft have released on Monday the Windows 10 Technical Preview tools, which offers software developers the first go at designing the much discussed universal applications. The tools are available for download for developers signed up for the Windows Insider Program.
Using them necessitates an installation of the latest Windows 10 technical preview release, while also having the community technology preview for Visual Studio 2015, and the previews version of the tools which include the operating system’s software development kit.
The universal apps are the base on which Microsoft are pushing their „One Windows” ideal, meaning that apps will be built cross-platform on the same runtime version and framework, and will be available for sale on a single unified store. Microsoft also state on their Windows blog that their upcoming system’s device platform will offer tools and techniques that will cut the cost of manufacturing Windows 10 devices, while also making it easier.
Besides this, the software giant has also announced that its new OS will incorporate support for 8k displays, which do not exist commercially at the moment but are expected to emerge in the near future. These will show images at a mind blowing 7620×4230 resolution, and support will be limited to PC’s. Considering the fact that 4k displays are still in the process of being adopted, this marks some extensive long-term planning on the part of Microsoft.
These announcements continue the wave of details that are being released at an automatic fire rate about the upcoming operating system, which is to be released worldwide this summer. In the past week, we’ve learned that Microsoft will offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and 8 users. Moreover, this will also apply to those that use non-genuine versions of these operating systems, as they curiously have the option to be upgraded to an unlicensed version of Windows 10.
Concerns were also voiced that hardware manufacturers that strive to obtain the “Designed to Windows 10 logo” are now offered by Microsoft the choice of whether to allow users to turn the mandatory Secure Boot function off; not offering this option restricts the system to functioning only on Microsoft’s upcoming OS.
Taiwanese smartphone giant HTC has announced on Thursday that Cher Wang will be appointed as chairwoman of the company, with former long-time CEO Peter Chou being transferred to a role concerning development of future products.
The appointment of Wang as CEO was voted by HTC’s board of directors and will come into full effect immediately. Wang was one of the company’s co-founders in 1997 – together with Chou – and became chairwoman of the board of directors in 2007. Chou will instead oversee the development and direction of new HTC products – which seems more than a symbolic role, with the company trying to broaden its device and gadget range.
The shift of power seems to have been prepared for some time within the company, as Peter Chou started directing his focus increasingly onto possible new products since a couple of years back, while also repeatedly delegating Mrs. Wang with more CEO-like attributions.
This change in leadership comes after an extended period of financial disappointment for the Taiwanese corporation, which recorded a continuous drop in sales over the past four years. HTC reported only a 500 million Taiwanese dollars (about 15 million in US dollars) profit in its fourth quarter of 2014, with number expected to drop in Q1 2015. This is quite a far cry away from main smartphone competitor Apple – that reported an $8.2 billion dollar profit in 2014’s last fiscal quarter.
To get itself back on track, HTC has unveiled its new projects at the Mobile World Congress held earlier this month in Barcelona, including a new One smartphone – criticized for being too similar to earlier versions -, a curiously designed camera and an electronic bracelet for fitness enthusiasts. The Taiwanese manufacturer also announced a partnership with Valve to produce a new allegedly groundbreaking virtual reality headset, called the HTC Vive.
HTC was founded back in 1997 by a trio consisting of Peter Chou, Cher Wang and H.T. Cho. It quickly rose to prominence at the beginning of the smartphone era, with it leading at one point the US market, over competitors Samsung and Apple. But the Taiwanese company has been dragging more and more behind the two giants in recent years, and changes to their strategy are needed to still maintain a share of relevance on the smartphone market.
Image Source: Bloomberg
In a study whose results were presented at the 64th Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology, researchers compared a new, less invasive heart-valve technique called TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) to traditional heart surgery methods. The study was conducted over two years and it showed that patients with aortic stenosis (a clinical condition manifested in the narrowing of the aortic valve opening) who underwent TAVR had a continued survival advantage over patients who underwent normal surgery.
The TAVR procedure is particularly useful in cases of older or physically weaker patients, whose health profiles would not easily allow a traditional surgical valve replacement. Until now, the standard operation was performed on aortic stenosis patients, because the risks of leaving them with a dysfunctional valve were too great (the smaller blood-flow forces the heart to work harder for the same results, which can lead to heart failure in time).
Within the experiment (called CoreValve US Pivotal High Risk Trial), patients whose heart surgery death risks were high were required to undergo either TAVR or the standard surgical procedure, according to a randomized distribution system. In the first year, death rates were considerably lower for the 390 patients who had TAVR than for the 357 patients who underwent open-heart surgery.
Medical Doctor and Cardiovascular Research Professor at Huston Methodist Hospital Michael J. Reardon, the study’s lead author, concluded that “survival is statistically better with TAVR”, deaths of any cause being 4.8% fewer among the TAVR batch of patients in the first year, and 6.4% fewer than the deaths of standard surgery patients in the second year. Other indicators also proved TAVR to be more efficient than the standard procedure: the rate of strokes was 10.9% (compared to 16.6% for surgery patients), while the rate of major adverse cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events was 29.7% in TAVR patients and 38.6% among surgery patients. Professor Reardon mentioned that another concern for cardiologists is usually the durability of replacement valves, but TAVR also fared better on this test – “effective valve orifice and mean pressure gradients (…) were statistically superior with TAVR”, the researcher said, which means that there are no indications of valve deterioration.
The only test where the standard procedure still surpasses TAVR in results is paravalvular leakage. Although severe paravalvular leakage was only 6% with TAVR in the two-year test, and it did not correlate with increased mortality, the lead-author of the study says that TAVR is recommended especially as an alternative to surgery, in the case of aortic stenosis patients who are at a high risk of not resisting heart surgery. Since the CoreValve High Risk Trial is a five year study, these are only early results and need to be confirmed.
image source: American Heart Association
Yesterday (March 15) marked 4 years since the beginning of violence in Syria. Protests had been going on since January 2011, but larger scale unrest began in mid-March, with demonstrators in Damascus, Aleppo, and Daraa calling for the release of students who had been arrested for drawing anti-government graffiti. On March 18 and March 20, 2011, clashes between the protesters and the government caused several deaths.
The conflict escalated from mass protests to armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad’s government. July 2011 saw the formation of the Free Syrian Army, who vowed to fight state security forces that were attacking civilians. Supported by the Arab League, Assad continued to send troops to break down demonstrations and fight the rebels. Thousands of people of arrested, and the Human Rights Watch reported the existence of 27 torture centers in July 2012. Between then and July 2013, jihadist groups joined some of the rebel groups in northern Syria. In November 2013, the Islamic Front was formed. With both sides receiving military help from foreign powers, violence and chaos spread, to the advantage of terrorist groups. Many of the forces who had rebelled against Assad joined the Islamic State fighters. Currently, the north-eastern part of Syria is controlled by ISIS.
The effects of the ongoing flood of violence on cities, markets, schools, hospitals, life expectancy, employment rates, and energy supplies are devastating. The education system has collapsed (half of the children have stopped going to school), cities are deserted (air footage of Homs, previously Syria’s third largest city, shows empty, half-ruined buildings, and no signs of human life; the city used to be a major industrial center, with over 650,000 inhabitants, most of whom were killed or became refugees), communications (including terrestrial ones like bridges) are suspended or destroyed, unemployment boomed from 15% to 57.7%, and according to Newsweek two-thirds of the population are deprived of basic necessities, including food. The costs of the war for Syrian economy go up to $200 billion so far. The number of refugees exceeds 3.3 million and 1.5 million Syrians have migrated as workers. Injured people are as many as 840,000, while almost 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives since 2011. Life expectancy fell from 80 years to 55. Satellite images of Syria have circled the web, showing how few signs of life there are left in comparison to 2010. Images of Homs, the deserted city where some rebel forces used to camp until the recapturing of the area by government troops one month ago, speak of a tragedy beyond repair.
image source: Daily Mail