Microsoft seems to have a knack for purchasing apps aiming to increase people’s productivity, as The Wall Street Journal reported that a new acquisition is in the play.
According to the report, Microsoft is set to spend somewhere between $100 million and $200 million on buying a startup called 6Wunderkinder GmbH. The Berlin-based company owns the famous productivity app Wunderlist, and it has become popular enough to draw Microsoft’s attention.
If the deal goes through, the giant tech firm will have put together the complete package of apps focused on calendars, email, and now to-do lists. Acompli, the email app, was last year’s acquisition, a service enabling users to give a much faster email response via template answers.
The app also featured an innovative system for sorting the emails entering the inbox, and it soon became the Outlook app, as Microsoft quickly re-branded it. Early 2015, the company went on and bought Sunrise, the calendar app which is still operating autonomously.
Wunderlist is among the best-rated apps in App Store, gaining four and a half stars. Basically, it does exactly what a physical to-do list would, but it also allows users to share their achievements with co-workers and friends.
It comes with various extra options, such as the ability to create lists which can be edited by multiple users. For this to work, Wunderlist also doubles up as a team-work service that doesn’t necessarily require a smartphone since it runs on both desktop and mobile.
In 2013, Wunderlist was featured as Apple’s Mac App of the Year for its desktop version. The app is integrated with Slack since last month, which means users can see tasks and notifications in the collaboration tool while at the same time being able to chat in real time.
Startup 6Wunderkinder is fairly young, founded only 4 years ago by six friends. It took only four engineers and two designers from Berlin to launch the desktop version of Wunderlist in November 2010, soon followed by an iOS app in December.
Despite its short presence in the market, the company has made $23.9 million in five rounds, $19 million of which came from Sequoia Capital. Both Evernote and Dropbox are proud additions to their portfolio.
Chief Executive Christian Reber said they accomplished quite a lot in such a short time, managing to reach in various departments. Users come to 6Wunderkinder for three things: for files, they download Dropbox, for notes they have Evernote (outstanding app, both on desktop and mobile) and for tasks – there’s Wunderlist.
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Panoramic view over Everest glaciers.
Alarmingly high temperatures registered in the past years have convinced scientists that further efforts need to be made in order to protect the environment and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise, Everest glaciers will disappear by 2100, study reveals on Thursday morning.
Glaciers’ existence is now threatened by the increasingly higher temperatures that are registered each year, according to new weather reports released by the Meteorological Administration. Everest glaciers could be the next to disappear if new efforts are not being carried out to prevent climate changes.
Scientists from Nepal, France and Netherlands have joined forces to analyze the recent percentages of carbon emissions. They have estimated that 77-90 percent of the Himalayan ice could melt by the year 2100.
The data was collected from the image collection made available by satellites. By comparing the present values with previous data, the team of researchers has reached the conclusion that Everest glaciers have already sunk by one quarter and their meltdown still continues.
What frightens scientists the most, however, is the fact that the melting pace has become all the more rapid in the past years as a result of humans’ reckless behavior. The following decades could, therefore, witness the melting of great part of the glaciers if measures are not adopted.
The study has further shown that some Himalayan regions could be seriously affected by the increased levels of water ensuing from glaciers’ meltdown. Nepal and its surrounding areas is the country that will most likely have to put up with the consequences that ensue from the disappearance of the glaciers. The region is already facing major problems due to the scarce groundwater resources and rainfalls, but the situation could become a lot worse if Everest’s glaciers melt.
The study was for that matter conducted in the Dudh Kosi basin in the Nepal Himalayas, as scientists wanted to determine how populated areas will be affected by the upcoming glaciers’ meltdown. The prognosis is all the more worrisome as the biggest mountain peaks are located in the Dudh Kosi basin.
The 8,848-metre high Mt Everest, which represents the ultimate goal for extreme sport lovers taking up daring expeditions, is also located in the aforementioned basin. The Himalayan ice shelf encompasses 400 square kilometers of ice.
The results of the recent meteorological study will be published in the journal The Cryosphere.
Image Source: Cirian Net
Due to unusual methane levels registered on the Martian territory, scientists believe Curiosity Rover is responsible for alarming methane spike. Their hypotheses have to be further sustained by evidence and soil analyses, therefore the scientific community is now divided between those who blame the rover and those who support it.
One of the reasons why aeronautics experts believe Mars could sustain life is the high amount of methane gas retraceable on its surface. However, recent findings suggest that the gas might have been caused by NASA’s Curiosity Rover, as recent studies show.
The first methane gas clouds were identified by NASA’s orbiting spacecraft and telescopes in 2003 and 2004. Results lifted scientists’ hopes as they are well-aware that methane gas stems from living organism. Their conclusion was at that time, that there might have been life on Mars in the past and that the Red Planet is perfectly capable of supporting Earth-like existence.
For that matter, researchers at NASA have created Curiosity Rover in an attempt to better study the surface of the celestial body. The small vehicle landed safely on the planet in 2012 and began sending useful reports on Earth. During the period between October 2012 and June 2013, Rover investigated Mars’ surface on repeated occasions, but detected no trace of gas.
At the beginning of 2014, the Curiosity Rover registered a significant outburst of methane gas during its regular checkups. The presence of the methane gas was more than welcomed by scientists as they have many more reasons to believe now that the planet is alive in some way or another.
Kevin Zahnle, a scientist at NASA’s Ames Researcher Center in Moffett Field, California, on the other hand, was not as pleased as the other researchers by the recent results. He told the press that the outburst might have been caused by a small emission coming from the Rover.
The investigating device was endowed with its own Earth methane reserve, which is 1,000 times denser than the gas found on Mars’ surface. The team of researchers coordinating Curiosity’s missions on Mars claim that there is no way the recent outburst of methane gas could be linked to the Rover.
They have reassured everyone in the scientific community that Curiosity did not suffer any gas leakage. Moreover, they expect methane gas outbursts to have been registered on a regular basis, if the rover was indeed responsible for the methane spike.
None of the two hypotheses has been ruled out for the moment. Experts think there are equal chances that the methane spike could come from Mars’ surface or from Curiosity’s methane chamber.
Image Source: The Mary Sue
Even though it has its fingers in many pies already, the Research and Development Department at Google has yet another idea it wants to try out: designing internet-connected toys with the ability of controlling smart home appliances.
Its patent characterizes the devices as being able to turn their heads in the direction of the user’s voice and listen to their commands; after that, it sends commands to remote computer servers.
SmartUp, a legal technology firm, has recently discovered the patent, which they described as “one of Google’s creepiest patents yet.” They are not the only ones raising questions, as a lot of privacy campaigners are unsure if this would be a good idea.
According to a spokeswoman for Google, it is yet to be established if the product will be eventually developed; she says a lot of creative ideas provided by the company’s employees are patented, but only some of them turn into real products or services.
Patent applications are not necessarily a reason to announce prospective products. Even though Google filed a patent for this device back in February 2012, it has been made public only now. Richard Wayne DeVaul, Google X’s head of rapid evaluation and mad science, as his title goes, is the one to invent these toys.
Description of the device states that it would be equipped with cameras, microphones, and a most-necessary wireless connection to the Internet; it can wake up by voice command, when the user says a predefined trigger word.
The creepy part kicks in when the proposal suggests the toy will not only be able to turn their gaze in the direction of the user addressing them, but it can also identify whether or not they are making eye contact.
Besides taking commands, the toy can also reply with either words or by mimicking expressions of interest, surprise, boredom or curiosity. Mr. DeVaul explained this would be achieved by giving the anthropomorphic device the capacity of opening its eyes, tilting its head or focusing its gaze intently on the user.
According to the drawings attached to the proposal, the toy could take the form of a teddy bear or bunny rabbit, but the text adds further alternatives, such as dragons or little aliens. One of the main traits of the machine would be its cuteness, a characteristic that would encourage even the children to not be afraid of interacting with it.
The options are unlimited when it comes to what will the toy be able to control – from televisions and DVD players to lights, home thermostats, electrical fireplace and motorized window curtains.
However, a lot of people and companies have already expressed their dismay regarding this kind of AI toy. Some believe the idea belongs in a horror movie, and not in the home of a family, where there’s always the possibility of turning it into a Big Brother kind of device.
An online petition launched by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has already attracted more than 42,000 signatures.
Image Source: Lorraine Electronics
As the Swedish car manufacturer announced the release of its latest prototype, we could get our first look at Volvo’s 2016 XC90 model. The hybrid vehicle preserves much of the safety and low fuel consumption features that the company has accustomed us in the past.
XC90 became a success soon after it was launched in 2002 due to its safety options and its luxurious, but not flamboyant design. The new 2016 XC90 model is in keeping with the company’s car manufacturing tradition, but features many modern tech specs for the improvement of the driving experience.
The most noteworthy addition is the T8 Twin Engine that the producer is currently testing. Based on the information provided by Volvo, the smaller engine does pretty much the same job as the previous four-cylinder V6, V8 engines, but it requires less power, hence less fuel consumption.
The Swedish company, Volvo, has always been keen on reducing fuel consumption. Their attempts have now come through thanks to the 2-liter, four cylinder T8 engine. Even though the prototype is currently undergoing tests, the company claims they have successfully managed to create a hybrid car that is both powerful and environmentally friendly.
The new 2016 XC90 model has been endowed with an electric recharger which guarantees to get the car ready for the road again in just 2.5 hours, if plugged in a 240V, 16 amp charger. The hybrid mode proved itself extremely useful during city cruises as the vehicle significantly reduces energy consumption and is capable of lasting through a 25-mile drive.
Drivers, who want to get a real feel of the car may choose between two other driving modes. In addition to Hybrid, there is also the Power Mode, which, as the name says it, boosts power and speed capacities. The Save mode, on the other, reduces battery consumption, when there is only 40% battery left.
Hybrid cars have been described as slow and cumbersome, but the new XC90 will come to prove the opposite. The SUV is incredibly fast, in spite of its non-dynamic shape and heavy weight. It can reach 0 to 62 mph in just 5.9 seconds and can act like a genuine sport car when the Dynamic mode is selected.
For those who prefer to feel comfortable while behind their steering wheels, Volvo has added its well-known and appreciated Comfort mode. One really feels refreshed even after long hours of driving as the seats have been purposefully designed to offer the best driving experience. The seats have been deformed to avoid spine overloading and possible injuries on bumpy roads.
The new XC90 version bears but little resemblance with its 2002 predecessor. The 2016 prototype has a bulkier grille, which some may correctly label as exaggerate. The overall aspect of the SUV may be described using just one word: “Americanized”. Indeed, both the front and the back of the car are now rounder making this new prototype a little less Swedish and perhaps, masculine.
Volvo has actually confirmed during the official announcement of the new XC90 model that the prototype was created for American consumers, as well. The SUV will most likely become very popular among European drivers, but Volvo is keen in getting a share of the U.S. market, as well. The entry-level version will cost approx. $68,100 but prices may vary depending on the geographical regions and the requested options.
Image Source: Motor Trend
Many mysteries are still hidden underneath the soil of our much-beloved Earth. This is the only safe conclusion one can reach in these times of rapid scientific changes. The recent ape-made prehistoric stone tools found in Kenya serve as an unquestionable proof that mankind is still far from thoroughly knowing Earth’s history.
For centuries, it was believed that the first creatures to have invented tools and set up fire camps, were Homo Sapiens. Yet, scientists will now have to reconsider their past enunciations as newly-found prehistoric tools made of stone come to contradict everything that has been said or known so far.
Recent excavation works completed on the Kenyan territory have led to the unearthing of unprecedented stone tools. Experts have estimated that the utensils date back to 3.3 million years, thus being 700,000 years older than the oldest tools discovered, so far.
The maturity of the tools is not the aspect that intrigues scientists the most, but rather the nature of the beings that might have created them. Based on their findings, the stone-made tools could not belong to a Homo Sapiens tribe as there were no such formations on the territory of Kenya.
Additional findings have helped archeology experts narrow down researchers to two types of hominin, namely, Kenyanthropus platyops and Australopithecus afarensis. These groups are tribes belonging to the subfamily Homininae, a combination between the Homo genus and an ancient primate that is very similar to today’s chimpanzees. The members of the hominin tribe are called hominini.
Researchers in Kenya have linked the recently found tools to the aforementioned tribes because they were the closest to have ever lived in the area. In fact, a hominin skull and unidentified tooth were also found several meters away from the site.
The discovery works both as a confirmation of the hypothesis that early species of chimpanzees were capable of thinking and, hence, designing their own tools and as an argument against the thesis claiming that Homo Sapiens were the first to carry out such intelligent activities. Increasingly more discoveries point to the fact that other species might have preceded humans in finding new intelligent means of survival.
Although difficult to identify, the 3.3 million-old stone tools prove that hominini were interested in developing tools that allowed them to carry out day to day activities. Anvils, hammer stones, cobbles and cores for cutting edges are just some of the stone items that archeologists dug out in Kenya.
The ape-made tools also shed light on humans’ cerebral activity. More specifically, scientists think they can now determine the historical period when primates developed thinking processes by linking these utensils to previous data concerning humans’ evolution.
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A new study has shown that gender equality was not a problem of some societies in the early periods of humanity. According to the recent scientific reports, it seems like men were equal to women at some period in time, so it seems that not every era was dominated by one of the two genders. Gender equality existed in the early periods of humanity, says the new study which brings a new perspective on the way our society has changed through the passing of the centuries.
In the more recent history, though, the human race con not be proud of the way it dealt with problems of equality between genders. Women have represented the weaker part of the human race. Some societies, like the Ancient Greeks for example, have gone so far as stating that women are not human in the same sense men were. The emancipation of the women has started at the end of the 19th century, in our Western civilization and great thinkers like Simone de Beauvoir have immensely contributed intellectually to the cause of the women. So, compared to the entire history of the Western civilization, we have not started to think about the problems of women until minutes ago.
Mark Dyble, the anthropologist who has led the new study on gender equality and a scientist affiliated to the University College London has said in a statement that the problem of equality between men and women is not yet fully known, not even from a historical point of view. According to Dyble, there are many misconceptions in connection to this matter that lead to false conclusion upon the gender equality in, for instance, the tribes that had hunting as the main source of living. We are tempted to think that such tribes would be dominated by males, still, according to the recent anthropology study by Dyble and his team of fellow researchers, it looks like we are wrong.
“When only men have influence over who they are living with, the core of any community is a dense network of closely related men with the spouses on the periphery.”
He added that the equality between men and women has not always been a dream, but a reality of some societies. Dyble said that it represented a major tool in the evolution of the human society and also in the survival of some tribes.
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After releasing an official announcement in relation to the new product that the phone manufacturer will be unveiling soon, many analysts have focused on identifying the reasons why customers should try LG’s new windows 8.1-based low-cost smartphone.
LG publicly announced on Friday that they will be producing a new low-cost smartphone featuring Microsoft’s software Windows 8.1. Although within the smaller budget categories, the LG Lancet phone has many reasons to allure customers into testing it and perhaps even buying it.
Lancet has a 4.5-inch LCD display whose features will most likely be tested during the upcoming reviews. The smartphone has a medium size, according to LG developers, who have stated that the measures of the new smartphone will not exceed 129.8 x 64.8 x 10.7mm.
Customers won’t complain about the weight of the new portable device, either. Engineers at LG have further stated that the phone will only weigh 143 grams. It remains to be seen whether the new LG smartphone is heavier or lighter than other similar products available on the market.
In addition to the aforementioned characteristics, LG’s Lancet will also be endowed with 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor. This enables users to load up to 8 GB of stored files, volume, which may be later on extended thanks to the 128 GB MicroSD cards. The phone is very unlikely to feature RAM as developers did not mention anything about it, so far.
The phone is pretty reliable when it comes to battery consumption. LG vows that the low-cost smartphone can resist up to 420 hours in standby and 18.5 hours during regular activity. The rather high levels of battery usage are possible due to the 2,100mAh battery that was added to the Lancet.
The main downfall that analysts could think of is the camera. Developers have stated that the rear camera on the new Windows 8.1 phone will not deliver photo quality bigger than 8 MP. The front-camera is even more basic; it has only 0.3 MP, so users should not expect their pics to be very clear.
The first version of the Lancet phone will only work with one SIM card. Yet, the future versions that LG might release on the market, could work with more than one SIM card, as well.
LG hopes the phone will draw many customers in the near future as the cost levels are not too high. Lancet will be available to interested consumers in exchange of $120. Those who want to buy the smartphone with a 24-month subscription will only pay $5 a month at Verizon.
Image Source: PBS
One of the things Reddit is infamously known for is its laid back attitude about the trolling and harassment of its users. That is about to change, as the entertainment website is finally putting its food down with new anti-bullying rules.
The changes began back in March, when Reddit hopped on the train banning revenge porn, prompted by similar action taken by other social networks. Since then, the website’s owners continued the campaign on being more responsive about the many kinds of abuse that happen on the platform.
Next step was creating a transparency report that shows what had been banned. The new website rules were set in place as administrators started growing unhappy with the sheer amount of harassing behavior. Surveying frequent users about the issues occurring on the platform showed they felt the same.
This month, Reddit took another step in the right direction, establishing new ways in which users can report harassment or bullying, which will then be banned from the website. The problem is, though, that the official policy is still counting on users to report the cases of harassment, instead of implementing a pro-active way that automatically penalizes bullies.
Reddit took initiative in explaining harassment in specific terms, so it could be sanctioned on predefined grounds; according to the new rules, it is a series of actions aiming at tormenting or demeaning another user in a way that would make other people think that Reddit is no longer a safe platform for expressing ideas, or it would cause fear for one’s safety.
Users who feel bullied or harassed via Reddit are encouraged to file a report by either emailing [email protected] about their situation or by using Reddit’s internal messaging service.
According to Reddit, its vague and laid back approach on censoring and banning content was meant to help free speech and expression. Instead, people used the open policies to harass other people in such a way that some avoided participating in the open conversation for fear of personal safety.
Negative responses on the platform are so common, that a recent survey to which 15,000 Redditors responded showed a great majority of them feeling uneasy about contributing. Same respondents said that, in spite of the fact they are still using Reddit, they stopped recommending it to their friends. The main reason given by Redditors was the high percentage of hateful and offensive content.
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Not at all rattled by the vocal opposition to its schemes, the European Union took the next step on Wednesday, pushing forward with the controversial plan of establishing refugee quotas that will take the pressure off some countries currently flooded by the migrant influx.
According to the EU’s executive Commission, the quota plan is the solution to compel more members of the EU to do their part alongside the countries affected the most, such as Malta, Italy, and Greece.
Last year, more than two-thirds of the EU asylum cases were dealt with by only five nations. Following exemption agreements, Denmark, Ireland and Britain are not forced to participate in the immigration plan.
The scheme has already seen strong opposition, as some countries, such as Slovakia, Hungary and Estonia, have already said a definite “no” when asked about their part in the plan. EU designed the scheme based on population, employment opportunities and GDP when they calculated the highest number of refugees that could be assigned to each country.
British interior minister Theresa May refused to participate in the plan because, she explained, a lot of poor people would expose themselves to dangerous sea crossing and risk their lives before finding refuge in Great Britain.
May released a statement in The Times of London saying the British government does not wish to condone perilous journey or encourage gangs responsible for refugees’ misery to cross into Britain, thus refusing to take part in the obligatory system of relocation.
Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, however, insisted that doing nothing is not the solution in this international crisis, adding that he hopes a careful reconsideration on behalf of the British government will help them find a way to tackle the problem of the migration agenda.
Italy is one of the countries where the quota scheme was approved. The interior minister, Angelino Alfano gave a statement on RAI radio saying that mandatory quotas for refugees could take down the Dublin ‘wall’; he was referring to the so-called Dublin system of regulations set by EU that stipulate asylum-seekers are the responsibility of the first country they arrive in.
Malta is another country welcoming the scheme, as the EU is planning on developing a “temporary distribution mechanism” for the countries that deal with the mass influx of refugees, helping people to relocate in emergency situations.
According to Maltese EU legislator Roberta Metsola, member of the European Parliament on migration, it’s not fair that only some countries should handle the pressure of the refugees, so a more systematic distribution among the EU state members is a proper solution.
In the meantime, Germany has been the number one country in Europe accepting refugees from Syria; Berlin officials are completely supportive of the quota scheme and encourage other governments to do the same.
Image Source: International Business Times