Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Amazon Eyes Set to Launch Its Computer Science Education Program in India

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 Amazon is preparing to expand its Future Engineer computer science program to India, demonstrating its increasing interest in the educational space in the world's second-largest internet market.

In a job recruitment message, the company said that the initial research for Amazon Future Engineer, which aims to introduce computer science education to underserved and under-represented children and young adults, is "currently underway" in India and the chosen candidate will be tasked with collaborating with local non-profits and government officials.

 The company in the post said that it plans to launch the program in India in 2021. Childhood-to-care services are currently in service in the United States, where the organization supports more than 5,000 schools and 550,000 students with computer science classes, according to a press release earlier this week.

"Amazon India has a specific focus on equipping children and young adults from underserved and underprivileged communities to build better futures for themselves," said the company in the introduction. The organization did not respond immediately to a request for comments.

The US e-commerce giant, which has invested more than $6.5 billion in India so far, has been exploring the country's educational space for a few years. Last year, JEE Ready was introduced, an app designed to support students who are preparing to join prestigious technology institutes in India. JEE Ready, which has since been renamed the Amazon Academy, provides free online classes and analyzes student success in mock-tests.

Amazon is not the only American company that pays attention to India's rising education sector, where more than 260 million children go to school and a large part of the population sees education as a gateway to economic growth and a better life.

Earlier this year, Facebook collaborated with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), a government agency that regulates education in private and public schools in India, to launch a certified curriculum on digital security and online well-being, and to increase reality for students and educators.

Facebook has also invested this year in Unacademy, a Bangalore-based startup offering online learning courses. Google, which has invested in Indian edtech startup Cuemath this year, has also partnered with CBSE to train more than 1 million teachers in India and offer a variety of free resources, such as G Suite for Education, Google Classroom and YouTube, to help digitize educational experience across the world.

Microsoft has also partnered with a number of Indian government and industry bodies, including the National Skill Development Organization and Nasscom, to help more than 1 million people improve their skills.

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Tuesday, 29 December 2020

100+ Happy New Year Wishes and Messages 2021

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 Out with the old and the new! Starting the new year with more inspiration, positivity and some resolutions will ensure that 2021 is your year! To give you a head start and a sprinkle of inspiration, we have rounded up some of the best Happy New Year quotes to shout after the ball drops.

This year has been a stressful and eventful one, what with the COVID-19 pandemic and all,—so whether you're ringing with the other half of the year or with close friends, we've got all the best greetings, blessings, and quotes to kiss 2020 goodbye and say "hello" to 2021! 

If you are not going to be with a loved one this holiday season,  write some of these Happy New Year quotes on a greeting card to remind them that you're thinking about them this new year! Are you wondering what to write on a Happy New Year card? Using any of the following Happy New Year's quotes, greetings, and warm wishes to inspire you!

  1. A fresh start this new year will bring. An opportunity to do the things. Perhaps you have put off your dreams. But now is a time for them to be realized. Happy New Year to You.
  2. Happy New Year! Let’s toast to yesterday’s achievements and tomorrow’s bright future.
  3. Wishing you health, wealth, and happiness in the New Year ahead.
  4. Wishing a very Happy New Year to the one who adds sunshine to our family.
  5. May 2021 be an extraordinary one!
  6. May every day of the new year inspire you to grow!
  7. Wave goodbye to the old and embrace the new with hope, dreams, and ambition. Wishing you a Happy New Year full of happiness!
  8. Happy New Year! I hope all your dreams come true in 2021 — onwards and upwards!
  9. May the new year bring all the good things in life you truly deserve. You had an amazing year already and you’re going to have another more amazing one!
  10. May the coming year be the most fruitful year of our lives. Happy New Year to all!
  11. May the New Year start with fresh joys and a life filled with peace. May you experience warmth and togetherness and prosperity too. Happy New Year!
  12. Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a Happy New Year. May peace, love, and prosperity follow you always.
  13. May the 12 months of the New Year be full of new achievements for you. May the days be filled with eternal happiness for you and your family!
  14. Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman
  15. “We all get the exact same 365 days. The only difference is what we do with them.” – Hillary DePiano
  16. “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  17. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
  18. “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” – Dr. Seuss
  19. “Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” – Oscar Wilde
  20. “Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas.” – Charles Kettering
  21. “Each year’s regrets are envelopes in which messages of hope are found for the new year.” – John R. Dallas Jr.
  22. “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals; adjust the action steps.” – Confucius
  23. “There is no failure except no longer trying.” – Elbert Hubbard
  24. “You will never win if you never begin.” – Helen Rowland
  25. “I do not believe a man can ever leave his business. He ought to think of it by day and dream of it by night.” – Henry Ford
  26. “New beginnings are in order, and you are bound to feel some level of excitement as new chances come your way.” – Auliq Ice
  27. “Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” – Helen Keller
  28. “The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.” – Melody Beattie
  29. “New year—a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.” – Alex Morritt
  30. “You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” – The Wizard of Oz
  31. “This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” – Taylor Swift

  32. Here’s to a new year doing the same old habits.
  33. A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.
  34. Last year’s resolution was to lose 20 pounds by Christmas. Only 30 pounds to go.
  35. Remember when we were young and wanted to stay up for New Year’s? Now we’re old and all we want to do is sleep.
  36. Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.
  37. May the New Year bring you significantly more joy than the holidays did.
  38. Happy New Year! Let’s eat, drink, and be merry — for tomorrow we diet!
  39. All I wish this new eve comes with a lot of joys for you since you look ugly while crying. Happy New Year!
  40. May this New Year bring actual change in you, nor recurrence of old habits in a new package.
  41. I think I made too many New Year’s resolutions this year. It took me almost a full day to break them all.
  42. “An optimist stays up till midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” – Bill Vaughn
  43. “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.” – Joey Adams
  44. “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  45. “Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average…which means, you have met your New Year’s resolution.” – Jay Leno
  46. “Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” – Oscar Wilde
  47. “What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.” – Vern McLellan
  48. Becoming your friend was the best thing I’ve done in the last year. I’d love to keep this friendship alive for the rest of my life!
  49. 365 new days. 365 new chances!
  50. I wish you pure joy, laughter and peace of mind in this New Year. Happy New Year!
  51. Since we’re going into a new year, I’d like to tell you all that it’s only because of you that I’m living my life to its fullest. I wish you all a Happy New Year.
  52. Happy New Year, dear friend. Don’t forget the past, learn from it and go out strong for your dreams and future. My best wishes are with you.
  53. Friends bring happiness throughout the year. Especially a friend like you! Happy New Year!
  54. A New Year has tiptoed in. Let’s go forward and meet it together!
  55. “Stir the eggnog, lift the toddy, Happy New Year everybody! “ – Phyllis McGinley
  56. “Tonight’s another chance to start again. It’s just another New Year’s Eve. Another night like the rest. It’s just another New Year’s Eve. Let’s make it the best!” – Barry Manilow
  57. “A new year. A fresh, clean start! It’s like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on! A day full of possibilities!” – Bill Watterson
  58. “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  59. “I don’t care if we have our house, or a cliff ledge, or a cardboard box. Home is wherever we all are, together.” – James Patterson
  60. “Home is where you are loved the most and act the worst.” – Marjorie Pay Hinckley
  61. “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: Someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” – Tom Bodett
  62. “Let us be grateful for the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
  63. “Every day I feel it is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Everything is beautiful.” – Prince
  64. You made last year so special for me. It is my greatest wish that this coming year is special for you.
  65. This New Year I cannot promise to ward off all the woes that life may send your way. But I promise to be by your side always and share them all with you.
  66. Wishing for a better year with new opportunities and beautiful moments. Happy New Year, my love. Let’s have a great year ahead.
  67. Let us take a vow to never let each other go no matter where life takes us. May our love triumph over all odds in life. Happy New Year!
  68. Years will come and go, but my love for you will always be the same. It will never stop to grow as long as there is a tomorrow. Happy New Year!
  69. When I think of you, my heart overflows with joy and pleasure. I have fallen more in love with you every year. This new year will not be an exception. Happy New Year, my love!
  70. I realized that each year our love becomes bigger. I wish that we could have a happy year to live our love.
  71. May all failures, sorrow, and troubles stay behind in the passing year. And may they leave a lot of room in your life for laughter and happiness. Happy New Year, my love!
  72. Your love is the light that will illuminate all my days with happiness this New Year.
  73. You have given me nothing but love and support and I wish I will be able to give you that, too. That is my New Year’s resolution. Happy New Year!
  74. It’s amazing to be part of a family that has so many beautiful people in it. I love you all. Happy New Year!
  75. I am so proud of you my little ones, here’s to another year of precious moments.
  76. Seasons change; years come and go but our family grows stronger.
  77. Our family has made my life bright and I love to celebrate the New Year with all of you by my side.
  78. Friends come and go but family is forever. Happy New Year to you all!
  79. Although we may have our ups and downs, I know we will always support each other. Here’s to another year and our wonderful family!
  80. We are blessed to have each other, I could not be any more thankful. May this year bring us success and good health.
  81. In this loveliest of seasons may you find many reasons for happiness. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, and sending lots of love!
  82. Here’s to another year of laughs, memories and good food!
  83. Wishing you peace, love and laughter in the New Year.
  84. This new year's greeting is sent with love in hopes that God blesses you from above. May the year be filled with health and happiness. May your days be ones of bliss.
  85. The coming year is filled with opportunity; our hopes are that you are successful in all you do over the coming year.
  86. Christmas is over and a new year begins this greeting is sent to say I am grateful we're friends.
  87. We look back over last year and find people who have impacted our lives in a positive way, you, my dear, are one of those people.
  88. May you have good health, lots of happiness, and a great New Year.
  89. Happy New Year to a person I appreciate in my life - thats YOU!
  90. Wishing you a year full of blessing and filled with a new adventure. Happy new year 2021!
  91. I hope this year turns out to be the best year of your life and your family too. Happy new year!
  92. May this new year bring you much joy and fun. May you find peace, love, and success. Sending my heartiest new year wish for you!
  93. I hope that the new year will be the best year of your life. May all your dreams come true and all your hopes be fulfilled!
  94. Happy new year to all! May every wish of yours get fulfilled in the upcoming year.
  95. Praying that you have a truly remarkable and blissful year ahead! Happy new year to you and your family!
  96. Happy New Year to you! May the upcoming year bring you holy blessings and peace!
  97. Happy new year, my love. I hope that each of my remaining years starts and ends with you.
  98. I wish you and your beautiful family a very happy and prosperous new year. Stay safe and beat the Pandemic with new energy.
  99. May all your goals be achieved, and all your plans be fulfilled. Have a blessed year ahead!
  100. I hope your life will be full of surprise and joy in the new year that’s about to begin. May you be blessed with everything you want in life.
  101. May this year bring new happiness, new goals, new achievements, and many new inspirations to your life. Wishing you a year fully loaded with happiness.
  102. Wave goodbye to the old and embrace the new full of hope, dream, and ambition. Wishing you a happy new year full of happiness!
  103. Wishing for a year filled with laughter, success, and peace my dear colleagues. May God bless each and every one of us and our families. Happy New Year.
  104. Hope this new year will bring all the great things in life that you truly deserve. Happy new year to you and your family!
  105. May the 12 months of the new year be full of new achievements for you. May the days be filled with eternal happiness for you and your family!
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Monday, 28 December 2020

Telegram To Soon Monetize its App

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 Instant Messaging app Telegram is "approaching" 500 million users and aims to generate revenue beginning next year to keep the company afloat, said its founder Pavel Durov on Wednesday.

Durov said he's personally bankrolled the seven-year-old company so far, but as the startup grows he's searching for ways to monetize the instant messaging service. "A project of our size needs at least a few hundred million dollars a year to keep going," he said.

The service, which surpassed 400 million active users in April of this year, will launch its own ad network for public one-to-many channels—"one that is user-friendly, respects privacy and allows us to cover server and traffic costs," he wrote on his Telegram channel.

"If we monetize large public one-to-many channels through the Ad Platform, the owners of these channels will receive free traffic in proportion to their size," he wrote. Another way that Telegram could monetize its service is via premium stickers with "additional expressive features," he wrote. "The artists who make stickers of this new sort will also make a part of the benefit. We want millions of Telegram-based developers and small businesses to flourish, enriching the experience of all of our users."

Some observers hoped that Telegram would be able to monetize the network through its blockchain token project. But after many delays and regulatory problems, Telegram said in May that it had decided to abandon the project.

Telegram, headquartered in Dubai, raised $1.7 billion from investors in 2018. After creating the blockchain program, it had intended to distribute its token, called grams. Telegram promised to repay $1.2 billion to investors earlier this year.

"Telegram has the dimension of social networking. Our huge public one-to-many channels can have millions of subscribers each, and they're more like Twitter feeds. In certain markets, the owners of such networks advertise advertisements to make money, often using third-party ad platforms. The advertisements they post look like daily texts, and they're always intrusive. We will address this by launching our own public one-to-many-channel Ad Network," Durov wrote today.

All existing features will remain free, said Durov, who is one of the biggest critics of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, adding that Telegram is committed to not placing advertisements on private one-to-one chats or group chats because they are a "bad idea."

"We're not going to sell a company like the creators of WhatsApp. The world requires Telegram to remain independent as a place where users are valued and high-quality service is delivered," he wrote. "Telegram will begin to produce revenue from next year. We will do this in line with our principles and the commitments we have made over the last 7 years. Thanks to our current size, we're going to be able to do so in a non-intrusive way. The majority of users will hardly note any improvement."

A few days ago, Telegram also launched a new Voice Chats community feature. The new functionality, which is identical to Discord's always-on-room, supports a few thousand participants.

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Google Intensifies Control on Research into Sensitive Topics

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 Google is currently under fire for apparently forcing out a researcher whose work warned of bias in AI, and now the Reuters report says that those doing such work at the company have been asked to "strike a positive tone" and undergo additional research reviews on "sensitive issues."

Reuters, citing analysts at the company and internal records, notes that Google has introduced new controls over the last year, including an extra round of inspection for papers on certain topics and, apparently, a rise in executive involvement at later stages of the study.

That definitely seems to have been the case with Dr. Timnit Gebru, an AI researcher at Google, whose resignation seems to have been forced under confusing circumstances after the tension between her and the management over the work that her team was doing.

Among the "sensitive" issues, according to an internal web page viewed by Reuters, are: "oil industry, China, Iran, Israel, COVID-19, home security, insurance, location data, religion, self-driving vehicles, telecommunications and systems that recommend or personalize web content."

It is clear that many of these concerns are still sensitive, but urging researchers to take care of them seems excessive given the presence of ethics committees, peer reviews and other standard restrictions on science. One researcher who spoke to Reuters cautioned that this kind of top-down intervention from Google might soon "get into a serious censorship issue."

This is in addition to the fundamental issue of vital research being performed under the auspices of a corporation of which it might or may not be in their interest to report. Large private research institutions have, of course, existed for almost as long as organized science efforts, but corporations like Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft and others have an immense impact on fields like AI and good reason to avoid questioning lucrative innovations while screaming about their value from every rooftop.

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Alibaba Currently Facing Anti-Trust Probe

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China's top consumer watchdog has begun an Alibaba survey of possible anti-competition activities at the e-commerce company, the latest in Beijing's attempts to curb the country's ever-expanding internet titans.

The State Administration for Market Regulation said Thursday in a brief statement that it is investigating Alibaba's "choosing one out of two" scheme, in which traders are required to sell exclusively on Alibaba and skip competing sites, JD.com and Pinduoduo.

"Today, the Alibaba Group has received notice from the State Market Administration Regulation that an investigation has been launched into the Company pursuant to the Anti-Monopoly Rule. Alibaba will fully cooperate with the regulators in the investigation," Alibaba said in a statement.

"Company business operations are still normal."

Alibaba's shares fell more than 8 percent on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Thursday.

On the same day, state-sponsored Xinhua announced that Ant Group, Alibaba's affiliate, had been invited by a group of finance authorities to discuss its "compliance" work. Ant, which runs the famous Alipay e-wallet and operates as an intermediary for financial services and consumers, has vowed to take steps to minimize debt risk after the Chinese authorities unexpectedly canceled their gigantic initial public offering last month.

"Today, the Ant Group has received a meeting notice from the regulators. We will seriously study and strictly comply with all regulatory requirements and make every effort to carry out all related work," the company said in a statement.

Some claim that the clampdown is a long time coming for China's Internet giants, which have been able to flourish in a relatively loose regulatory climate. The case of Alibaba is a "significant step" in China's anti-monopoly regulation of the Internet industry, according to an opinion published in the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party of China. Concerned that tighter regulations could be a blow to the industry, Alibaba said, "It is beneficial to restore orders and to promote the long-term, healthy development of the platform economy."

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Thursday, 17 December 2020

Twitter Would Compel Users to Remove COVID-19 Vaccine Conspiracy Theories

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 With COVID-19 vaccines just starting, Twitter will step up its efforts to tame conspiracy theories that could discourage people from getting the vaccine.

The newly extended rules refer to debunked reports on the adverse effects of being vaccinated, deceptive tweets alleging that the vaccination is not required and conspirators claiming that COVID-19 vaccinations are being used to "intendedly harm or control populations." Twitter's revised policy will come into force on December 21.

Twitter will ask users who tweet something that falls into one of those categories to remove the content until they can tweet it again. Addressing misconceptions regarding vaccines that do not reach the elimination threshold, Twitter says it will begin to position warning labels on "unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines" starting in early 2021. These tweets may also be concealed, their presence restricted and they may be accompanied by public health information labels.

The company said it would give priority to removing misinformation with the greatest potential for harm, and we asked Twitter whether that decision was taken on the basis of the degree to which the tweet was revealed or the quality of its contents. New policies will be applied through a hybrid approach to automation and human moderation.

Early in the pandemic, Twitter developed a series of new content policies specific to COVID-19 disinformation, which was just starting to take off. Although inaccurate and potentially dangerous misinformation about how the virus was transmitted was a major concern, the company's latest policy update would resolve concerns that online misinformation could lead a large portion of the population to decline to be vaccinated.

Getting granular misinformation policies on books is helpful for potential compliance, but new laws are worth little if they are not implemented. We'll be monitoring disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes more widely accessible and keeping an eye out how Twitter is introducing its new initiative to give conspirators less oxygen on the site.

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Gmail To Stop Working For Some Of The Users Next Year

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 Gmail users could unexpectedly find themselves barred from this popular email service next year after Google revealed that they had been forced to make a big change. The US technology company has reported that some apps, including Gmail and Google Meet, will no longer be supported by those using Internet Explorer 11.

Now you might be wondering why this is such a big deal as who uses IE 11 on Earth? Ok, really a lot of people. Despite not being Microsoft's new and greatest browser, it still has a large user base.

According to NetMarketShare statistics, Internet Explorer is the fourth most popular desktop browser in the world – ahead of Safari but behind Chrome, Edge and Firefox. That means it's likely millions are still using it, and next year they're in for a bit of shock.

If you're still using Internet Explorer 11 and you still have access to Google services via Workspace, you don't have much time to move.

Google says that its Workspace suite of applications like Gmail, Meet, Calendar and Drive will formally stop supporting IE 11 on March 15, 2021.

The reason why Google is putting an end to support is that Microsoft has recently announced that it will stop supporting Internet Explorer 11.

In a blog post, Google said: "We suggest that our own users move to a new browser as soon as possible to prevent possible disruptions to services such as impaired performance or security vulnerabilities. Google Workspace will officially stop supporting IE 11 on 15 March 2021.

Unsurprisingly, Google is recommending its own Chrome browser for the best company experience by stating that its browser supports many of the features and functionality of Google Workspace.

Google Workspace is not the only program that no longer operates on IE 11.

"Over the next few weeks, we’ll start showing a banner to all Google Workspace users still using IE 11 that informs them of the need to upgrade their browser by March 15, 2021."

Microsoft recently reported that its Teams platform is now being blocked from accessing this web browser with this move coming into effect earlier this month.

In a statement, Microsoft said: "While we know this change will be difficult for some customers, we believe that customers will get the most out of Microsoft 365 when using the new Microsoft Edge. We are committed to helping make this transition as smooth as possible."
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Google Set to Discontinue Link Ads From 2021

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 Ads on the web are available in all shapes and sizes. Google launched appropriately called "link ads" back around 2007, but the preferences have changed over time. Now Google is changing in favor of something newer, so let's say goodbye—link ads are soon to be a thing of the past.

Starting next year on March 10, publishers will no longer be able to build connection ad units to be used on their web pages. Existing connection ad blocks will start serving more regular ads instead.

They may have loaded faster and needed less resources than ads with photos or animations, but there's no denying that the way ads connect function is quite confused. If you click on the ad, you will be taken to another page that acts as a portal, showing advertising based on the search term you clicked on.

Google claims that the decision to eliminate link advertising has been taken to "modernize" the available ad formats, but like any decisions that have the potential to have an effect on website sales, some users won't be pleased with the news.

The web would definitely look a little less classical without them but you know what they say about the change: it's unavoidable. So if you're browsing SMHC next year and you're fondly reminiscent of your favorite little link ads—don't blame us.

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Gmail Now Allows you Edit Your Office documents Straight From Your Email Attachments.

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 Google makes it much easier to work with Microsoft Office files, with the company now allowing users to directly edit Office files in Gmail, just as Google Docs or Sheets already do.

Google Workspace (recently renamed G Suite, which includes Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and Calendar) has been providing compatibility with Word, PowerPoint, and Excel Office files for some time. But previously, emails had to be downloaded into Google Drive to be updated or modified—while email attachments could only be accessed.

However, this process is considerably simplified by the current workflow. Now you can directly open and edit an Office file using the Google Docs editor just by clicking on it—just like a native Google Doc. But the latest editing functionality does not migrate Office files to Google Docs, instead of keeping the original file format.

Gmail would allow users to respond to the original email and include the modified file (still in the Office file format) without first forcing them to download and then re-attach the updated file.

Google is also working to ensure that Office files function more efficiently in Google Docs, with the company releasing a new Google Workspace Macro Converter add-on designed to support users and companies import their macros from Excel to Sheets more easily.

Similarly, Google is working on bringing improved document orientation and image support to Google Docs, allowing documents with both horizontally and vertically oriented pages, along with images put behind text and watermarks (though the new image features will not be available until next year).

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Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Google and Apple Bans Technology for Sharing Data Of Users’ Location

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 You may never have heard of the company X-Mode Social, but its code may be in some of the applications on your computer, monitoring and selling your location data. Now, Google and Apple are trying to stop this. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, tech companies have instructed developers to delete X-code Mode's from their applications or risk extracting it from their respective app stores.

X-Mode operates by giving developers the code to put in their applications, known as SDK, which monitors the position of users and then sends the data to X-Mode, which sells it. In return, X-Mode pays a certain amount to the developer depending on how many users the app has. According to the company, its technology is available in more than 400 apps, including several applications tailored for Muslim users, such as a prayer reminder and a Muslim-focused dating app.

Apple is giving developers two weeks to delete SDK, and Google is giving Devs one week with the option to apply for an extension of 30 days. But the model of monitoring user positions and selling data is nothing new: what should have been banned from X-Mode was that according to Motherboard's study, it was also sold to the US Army. When you realize that many of the largest X-Mode apps have been built for Muslim communities, it is understandable that this would be an issue.

Of course, government services buying citizen location data is nothing new, but most of the time they purchase it from data brokers, who actually gather information from multiple outlets, not from companies who collect it directly. For its part, X-Mode argues that it is being singled out, claiming that it "collects similar mobile app data to most advertising SDKs."

To tie this up with a PSA: X-Mode, and other companies like it, can only get your location data with your permission. Many apps don't make it clear that your location data is going to X-Mode (either hidden in the EULA, or not there at all), so any app on iOS and Android will have to ask for permission to see your location. If your level app (as in the tool you're using to make sure a photo isn't crooked) asks for permission for your venue, it's probably worth worrying about whether or not it really needs it.

Of course, it won't cover you in situations where the app has a legitimate reason to use your location (such as a dating app), which is why it's nice that both Apple and Google, as well as some politicians, are beginning to take a closer look at how businesses sell user data.

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Sunday, 13 December 2020

Facebook Set to Launch Libra in 2021

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 Facebook, Inc. (FB) plans to introduce the cryptocurrency next year. David Marcus, head of Facebook Financial, or F2, told audiences at the Singapore FinTech Festival that he hoped that the company would be able to participate in the transformation of the financial services industry by launching Diem, Facebook's proposed digital currency for use on its social network, and Novi, the accompanying wallet for its Libra blockchain, on its website.

The launch of the platform depends on Facebook securing the requisite regulatory approvals to operate in multiple jurisdictions. The Libra Association is currently awaiting approval from Swiss regulators to launch a dollar-backed stablecoin.

"I don't think what we are asking for is just immediate trust. I think … what we're asking for is at least to have the benefit of doubt," Marcus said. The Financial Times had earlier reported that Facebook planned to launch its cryptocurrencies in January 2021. The company had originally planned to launch the proposed currency and wallet over the summer this year.''

Essential Keypoints

  • David Marcus, head of Facebook Financial, said he hoped that the company would be able to launch its digital currency and wallet next year, pending regulatory approval.
  • Marcus said he hoped that the regulators would give Facebook's project "the benefit of the doubt" when considering the case.
  • The project has been mired in controversy since it was unveiled in 2019 and has undergone major changes in size and structure.

Since June 2019, when Facebook revealed plans to introduce a digital currency, the company has faced a big blow from regulators around the world. The ambitious project has experienced a range of iterations and adjustments, including the departure of high-profile partners such as Mastercard Incorporated (MA) and PayPal Holdings, Inc. (PYPL) to a new rebranding campaign to distinguish the project from the behemoth of social media and its notoriety for violating privacy rights.

Perhaps the most significant transformation was the company's vision for Libra. When it was revealed, Libra was envisaged as an open-source platform and a centrally controlled stablecoin, or a currency that does not fluctuate in price, for use on the social network. The proposal raised the hackles of both the crypto community and the regulators.

The former argued that Facebook's proposal was not a true cryptocurrency project because it was not decentralized, whereas politicians and economists raised the cryptocurrency specter of the social network undermining national currencies, especially in less developed countries. Marcus' reluctance to agree to sufficient regulatory supervision or a pilot project supervised by regulators only contributed to the hostile reception of the project from all quarters.

Since then there have been major improvements. Libra will now have a set of stablecoins backed by the fiat currencies of their respective countries. Exiting high-profile collaborators from the project also means that they would have much less utility and cachet than originally intended. The project would also have to comply with the laws in the jurisdictions in which it operates.

At the conference on Monday, Marcus referred to Facebook's collaboration with other companies as evidence that the project was a decentralized initiative. "I think you'd be hard-pressed to find another business that has done this in recent times, actually creating something, investing a tremendous amount of money in it and then saying well we're going to give up our control here and we're going to try to make it as open an environment as it can be and essentially tie one or both hands in our backs when it comes to making competition possible.

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Google Messages Rolls Out End-to-End Encryption For RCS On It Beta Version

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 Google revealed that its RCS messaging system was coming with an end-to-end encryption last month. At the time, all we knew was that the roll-out would soon begin with the beta of the Google Messages app. Based on our reader's reports, the end-to-end encryption roll-out has now begun.

Security-minded people should search Google's whitepaper for the Messages app's encryption approach. The roll-out reports are common through Twitter and the Universal Profile subreddit. While it might not be live for all just yet, some others say to have been featured in at least some conversations in the last week or so.

For those that have it the function is clearly identified with a new lock icon that appears under the most recent message in a supported conversation. A larger tip-like prompt may also appear to indicate the function when it is activated. Google's whitepaper shows that the lock icon will also appear on the Send button.

Based on the reports (and as expected), the features are currently limited to those in the Beta Messages, and all parties need to be enrolled in approved RCS-based conversations. While it hasn't been tested that we've seen the function isn't supposed to work for group chats.

If you're interested in entering the encrypted end-to-end team, you can do that. you can opt-in to the Messages beta here and pull down the latest version in short order via the Play Store

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Saturday, 12 December 2020

Here's How You Can Use New Wallpapers For WhatsApp on Android, iPhone

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Popular messaging app WhatsApp rolled out new wallpapers for its users on Wednesday.

The latest update allows users to create "beautiful new wallpapers" and can also use custom chat wallpapers as well as classic doodles in more colours.


1. Go on more options -> select "settings"

2. Go to "Chats" and open the "wallpaper" options

3. Alternatively, Android users can: Open a chat -> select "more options" and opt for the  "wallpaper" option.

4. If you’re using dark mode, you can use the slider to dim your current wallpaper.

5. After selecting the wallpaper section, tap the change option.

6. Select a wallpaper category, then select the image you want to set as your wallpaper. You can also tap Default Wallpaper to restore WhatsApp’s default wallpaper.

7. Tap on set wallpaper and see your background change.


1. Go on "settings", then "chats" and then select "chat wallpaper".

2. Tap "choose light mode wallpaper or choose dark mode wallpaper".

3. Select a wallpaper category, then select the image you want to set as your wallpaper.

4. Tap on set.

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Friday, 11 December 2020

How To Delete Conversations On Whatsapp Automatically

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 Although most of our WhatsApp conversations are with friends and relatives, we also use it to speak to people we don't know about local stores. Because we don't need such non-personal chats forever, it's best to send them missing messages for a clean inbox.

WhatsApp offers a mode of self-destruction for chats. When you enable this for a specific group or private conversation, the messages will be automatically erased from your phone and the recipient's phone after a week. Here's how to get to it.

First, make sure you have the latest version of WhatsApp on your phone from the Play Store on your Android device and the App Store on your iPhone.

After updating or downloading the latest version, follow the steps below:

1. Now, open the "WhatsApp" app on your iPhone or Android device and enter the group or private chat you want to set to self-destruct on the "Chats" tab.

2. Visit the WhatsApp chat tab.

3. Tap the name of the recipient or group at the top of the conversation to visit their profile page.

4. Open the WhatsApp contact profile

5. Choose "Disappearing Messages."

6. Toggle the On" option to enable missing messages for this chat.

7. Enable messages to disappear in WhatsApp chats

Now any text or media sent by you or the other person in this conversation will be deleted after a week. There is no way to customize the time period at the time of writing.

Messages exchanged prior to this move, however, will not be affected. You can switch off the missing message function by returning to the same option.

Disappearing messages in WhatsApp Chat

When activated, WhatsApp will alert the recipient and add a tiny clock icon to the chat image thumbnail.

WhatsApp Vanishing Message Icon

Bear in mind, however, that this does not preclude chat participants from accessing messages or from backing up media elsewhere. Plus, the possibility to export the chat will still be open.

Therefore the WhatsApp Self-Destruction mode is strictly limited to regularly clearing the inbox of unwanted messages, not private and sensitive conversations.

For confidential conversations that you want to wipe off your phone right away, you can try privacy-focused messaging services like Signal.

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Thursday, 10 December 2020

Antitrust Lawsuit Filed Against Google By The Justice Department

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 After more than a year of scrutiny by Google, the Department of Justice eventually released its antitrust lawsuit against the search engine, arguing that the corporation "unlawfully maintains monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising and general search text advertising in the United States."

The full suit cites Section 2 of the Sherman Act—which deals directly with monopolies—and attempts both to "restrict" Google and to seek redress for the consequences of its actions thus far. Remedies can come in the form of fines, or the enforcement of disbursements, or the enforcement of or both, changes in business practices.

The 64-page suit alongside the DoJ is signed by 11 states, all with Republican attorneys general: Texas, Arkansas; Florida; Georgia; Indiana; Kentucky; Louisiana; Mississippi*; Missouri; Montana; and South Carolina.

The case is the most aggressive action the U.S. government has taken in decades against any technology business that now drives a significant portion of the U.S. economy. The last corporation to receive this level of scrutiny was Microsoft, which launched an investigation in 1992, filed a suit in 1997 and eventually entered into force (as a settlement) in 2001. Some claim that regulatory action against the software giant of Bill Gates has reshaped the technology industry and set the stage for Google and its peers to prosper.

Now, ironically, it's Google's turn to the monopoly hot seat:

"Google is a gateway to the Internet and a behemoth advertising search," said Jeffrey A. Rosen, Deputy Attorney General in his speech. "Google has made some popularity in his early years, and no one is appreciative of that. However, as the antitrust lawsuit filed today explains, it has retained its monopoly position by means of exclusionary policies that are detrimental to competition. The Department of Justice has therefore concluded that an antitrust response is appropriate to help consumers. If the government does not implement anti-trust laws to allow competition, we could miss the next wave of innovation. If that happens, Americans will never see the next Google," he said The DoJ aims to continue evaluating anti-competitive practices across market-leading online platforms.

Google's dominant role in search and search ads is at the core of the company's vast advertising, data processing, video sharing and information services conglomerate.

This will be the first big legal challenge that Google has faced from U.S. authorities in spite of years of scrutiny into the company's practices.

At the end of the day the 2012 effort to put the corporation before the courts to respond for anti-competitive practices was scuttled because authorities at the time were not confident they could make the case stand. Since then the value of Alphabet has risen to over $1 trillion (as of today's share price).

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, retains the lead in search and video. The company dominates the search market—around 90% of the world's online searches on its platform—and about three quarters of American adults turn to YouTube for content, as The Wall Street Journal noted.

Google then released a brief statement in response to the DoJ suit:

"Today's prosecution by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed," the company said. "People use Google because they choose to do so—not because they're forced to do so or because they can't find alternatives."

Yelp!, a corporation whose vigorous lobbying on Capitol Hill has possibly done more than any other business to draw attention to the ways in which Google's goods operate inside a walled, self-promoting garden, which is also in the DOJ's suit.

"By systematically reducing the quality of its search results in order to entrench and extend its advertising monopoly search and search, Google is directly detrimental to consumers," Yelp said in a statement. "Yelp applauds the work of the DOJ and encourages prompt action by State Attorneys General who are conducting parallel investigations into other aspects of Google's business."

The antitrust suit falls in the footsteps of a number of other regulatory actions involving Google, which is not only a dominant internet search provider but also a pioneer in online ads and mobile technology through Android, as well as a strong player in the network of other integrated services such as mapping, online productivity apps, cloud computing and more.

Although a number of tech giants are facing growing criticism from Washington, with the U.S. just two weeks away from Election Day it is doubtful that we will see several changes in this and other cases before then. And in the case of this particular Google suit, in the event that Trump is not re-elected, there will also be a broader staff shift at the DoJ that may also alter the profile and timing of the case.

In any event, the battle against these regulatory cases is always a long-drawn-out process. In Europe, Google has faced a series of penalties for antitrust infringements going back a number of years, including $2.7 billion in fine over Google shopping; $5 billion in fine over Android dominance; and $1.7 billion in fine over search ad brokering. Although Google is moving slowly through appeals, there are also more lawsuits against the company in Europe and elsewhere.

Google isn't the only one to attract Washington's attention. Earlier in October, the House Judiciary Committee published a study of more than 400 pages detailing how tech giants Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google's parent company) and Facebook abused their influence, covering everything from the areas they controlled to recommendations about how to address the problem (including curtailing their acquisitions strategy).

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Messenger is Down as Facebook Get's Hit by Outage

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 Facebook Messenger fans face a really disappointing day with the chat app currently down and not running. Tech gremlins seem to have begun about 10 a.m. this morning, with thousands left unable to use this service hours later. Most users simply state that they can't send or receive messages, with some even reporting that chats are being uploaded, but only after a very long wait.

Data from DownDetector's stand-alone website, which monitors the status of online services on the basis of references through social media, has shown that thousands of Facebook Messenger users are unable to send messages in the morning. At its height, some 3,500 Facebook Messenger users complained every minute that they were unable to send text via the popular messaging app.

Most of the issues tend to be focused around the United Kingdom and Europe, with countries such as France and Belgium also affected by the problem. Poland seems to have been affected by one of the largest outages, with large areas displaying issues with Messenger.

Speaking on Down Detector's forum sites, a lot of people suggest that messages just don't give one person to confirm that the issue has been going on for some time. "I couldn't send or receive messages more than an hour now What's wrong with your app..?," said the frustrated Messenger fan.

Adding to the concerns, another Facebook user added, "Can't send or receive messages on Facebook Messenger, it says connecting and then comes up as no internet connection and there's nothing wrong with my internet connection?"

There's actually no news on what triggers the problems or when they're going to be resolved, however as usual, fans have now taken to other social media sites to vent their frustrations.

Twitter is now full of complaints with one user saying, "Right now messenger is down. Please fix this. I need messenger now.........."


It's very rare for Facebook to suffer from such a long disruption that Messenger has been offline for more than two hours.

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Facebook Messenger Down, Facebook Hit by Outage

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 Facebook Messenger fans face a really disappointing day with the chat app currently down and not running. Tech gremlins seem to have begun about 10 a.m. this morning, with thousands left unable to use this service hours later. Most users simply state that they can't send or receive messages, with some even reporting that chats are being uploaded, but only after a very long wait.

Data from DownDetector's stand-alone website, which monitors the status of online services on the basis of references through social media, has shown that thousands of Facebook Messenger users are unable to send messages in the morning. At its height, some 3,500 Facebook Messenger users complained every minute that they were unable to send text via the popular messaging app.

Most of the issues tend to be focused around the United Kingdom and Europe, with countries such as France and Belgium also affected by the problem. Poland seems to have been affected by one of the largest outages, with large areas displaying issues with Messenger.

Speaking on Down Detector's forum sites, a lot of people suggest that messages just don't give one person to confirm that the issue has been going on for some time. "I couldn't send or receive messages more than an hour now What's wrong with your app..?," said the frustrated Messenger fan.

Adding to the concerns, another Facebook user added, "Can't send or receive messages on Facebook Messenger, it says connecting and then comes up as no internet connection and there's nothing wrong with my internet connection?"

There's actually no news on what triggers the problems or when they're going to be resolved, however as usual, fans have now taken to other social media sites to vent their frustrations.

Twitter is now full of complaints with one user saying, "Right now messenger is down. Please fix this. I need messenger now.........."


It's very rare for Facebook to suffer from such a long disruption that Messenger has been offline for more than two hours.

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Ex Chief Scientist at Salesforce Reveals New Search Engine to Compete with Google

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 Richard Socher, former Chief Scientist at Salesforce, who helped create the Einstein Artificial Intelligence Platform, is facing a new challenge—and it's a doozy one. Socher wants to fix the consumer quest, and today he revealed you.com, a new search engine for powerful Google.

"We are going to build you.com. You should go to it today. And this is a trusted search engine. We want to focus on getting more click confidence and less click-bait on the internet," he said. He added that in addition to faith, he needed it to be based on kindness and truth, three worthy yet challenging goals to achieve.

He said there were a number of big issues that led him and his co-founders to create a new search tool. For instance, he claims there's so much knowledge and nobody can process it all. What's more, when you find this knowledge, it's difficult to know what you can trust to be as reliable, and he believes that the problem has a big effect on society at large. Finally, as we explore the internet in 2020, the privacy problem is as big as how you manage the convenience-privacy trade-off.

He claims that his experience in AI can help with a consumer-focused search tool. For instance, the search engine, though of a general nature, would focus on complex consumer transactions where you need to open a few tabs to compare details.

"The biggest impact we can have in our lives right now is to build a trusted AI search engine and natural language processing powerhouses to help everyone with the various complex decisions of their lives, starting with complex product purchases, but also being a general get-go," he said.

Although Socher was light on specifics, choosing to wait for GA to share some more in a few months, he said he wanted to distinguish himself from Google by not relying on ads and what you know about the user. He said he learned from working with Marc Benioff at Salesforce that you can make money and create confidence with people who purchase your product.

He definitely acknowledges that it's hard to take on an entrenched incumbent, but he and his team assume that by building something they believe is radically different, they can disrupt the incumbent with a classic "Innovator's dilemma" game where they're doing something that's hard for Google to replicate without disrupting their primary business model.

He also sees Google going ahead on antitrust issues, which may help create an opportunity for a startup like this. "I think a lot of things that Google [has been doing with the looming antitrust will be a little harder for them to get away with on a continuous basis," he said.

He admits that the elements of confidence and accuracy may be tricky as social networks have found out. Socher hinted at some of the social networking elements that they intend to incorporate into the search tool, including allowing you to have your own custom URL with your name to promote the sharing.

Socher said he had support and a team working actively on the product together but he wouldn't disclose how many or how many employees at this stage. He said Benioff and venture capitalist Jim Breyer were the primary supporters, and he would have more detail to share in the coming months.

For now, if you are interested, you can go to the website and sign up for early access.

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Whatsapp: The New Future Of Facebook

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 On the final day of November, Facebook Inc. announced that it had acquired a customer service software startup that most people had never heard of in a transaction worth more than $1 billion. While it was the third-largest purchase in Facebook's history, marginally more than it offered for Instagram in 2012, the transaction made relatively little notice. In Washington, where authorities are aggressively pursuing anti-trust litigation against Facebook and lawmakers are criticizing almost every move the company makes, the purchase of Kustomer Inc. was met with crickets.

But if the meaning of the agreement isn't obvious right now it might be eventually. Acquiring Kustomer is the latest in a series of costly bets linked to Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014. Earlier this year it invested in Jio Platforms, an Indian Internet giant that WhatsApp is planning to collaborate with on trade. Though not an acquisition, Jio's $5.7 billion investment was Facebook's second-largest financial transaction ever. Taken together these moves add up to an investment of around $26 billion in private messaging.

Facebook was under the microscope because of its effect on U.S. politics and its significant position in the economy. On Dec. 9, state and federal authorities filed sweeping anti-trust litigation against Facebook, alleging that they had bought smaller companies to respond to competitive threats and tried to unwind some of those acquisitions. One of the transactions listed was Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp—the world's largest messaging service with more than 2 billion monthly users. Although the app is making relatively little money now, Facebook sees private messaging as the base for its next major business, providing it with one of its toughest challenges, even if anti-trust monitoring does not complicate matters.

WhatsApp doesn't look particularly big on Facebook's home market, but it's massive almost everywhere else—especially in India, where it claims it has more than 400 million unique users a month. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg sees the opportunity to turn the user base into a profit center by enabling merchants to sell products and services within WhatsApp, or by using the app to deal with customer service problems that would otherwise entail an email or phone call.

For Facebook, an organization that accounts for 99 percent of its advertising sales, WhatsApp provides an opportunity to diversify its market and shield itself from loss of enthusiasm for its main social networking applications. Eventually, Facebook claims that it can monitor the entire exchange between a company and its customer, beginning with an ad on Facebook or Instagram and leading to an interaction or product sale on WhatsApp or Messenger. "Instagram and Facebook are the store front," said Matt Idema, Chief Operating Officer of WhatsApp. "The WhatsApp is a cash register."

Early in 2019, Zuckerberg published a 3,200-word blog post detailing a plan to make all other Facebook items look more like WhatsApp. "I believe that the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services," he wrote at the time. "This is the future that I hope we can help to bring about."

The two firms were an odd pair from the beginning. The founders of WhatsApp, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, released it in 2009 as a free alternative to SMS text messages. Koum, who had grown up in Soviet-controlled Ukraine before attending San Jose State University, was especially sensitive to privacy concerns. "The walls had ears," he said of his youth. At the time of Facebook's takeover, WhatsApp was working on end-to-end encryption, a system that makes it difficult for a company to read consumer messages even though a judge orders it to do so.

WhatsApp's slogan was No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks" before the acquisition. "Facebook has created an advertisement empire focused on persuading people to make as much of their lives public as possible. Not only did the company have access to their posts and conversations, but it also relied on the data to train its algorithms and decide what users should see—and to enable marketers to target their ads to particular audiences, a business model at the core of much of the political controversy surrounding Facebook.

Koum was concerned with reliability and would later state that he had purposefully sought to slow down the development of WhatsApp in order to escape technological challenges. The strategy was the exact opposite of the one preferred by his new boss, who gave Facebook the unofficial slogan "Move Fast and Break Things."

When Koum sold the company to Facebook, WhatsApp had 450 million users and 55 employees. Its primary source of income was a $1 annual subscription fee. As part of the agreement, Koum had a seat on Facebook's board and Zuckerberg's guarantee that the company will continue to run independently, free of advertising.

Zuckerberg's promise has stalled, at least for the first few years. As employees of WhatsApp relocated to the main Facebook campus, a few years after the deal was closed, they were able to retain the larger desks they coveted when they were independent. The parent company also installed larger doors on the toilet stalls in the WhatsApp area, giving them a little more privacy. It became a sign of competing cultures: some Facebook workers joked that even the bathrooms of WhatsApp had to be end-to-end encrypted.

But by mid-2016, Zuckerberg wanted the app to make some profits. Koum and Acton proposed charging companies a small fee to send messages to their customers on the app, but top Facebook executives said that the business wouldn't be large enough and pushed WhatsApp to sell ads instead, according to people familiar with the company. Facebook also ordered WhatsApp to amend its terms of service to allow Facebook to use people's phone numbers to connect their accounts to the two services. The stated goal was to provide Facebook users with better friend recommendations, but the move also opened up the possibility of using a person's Facebook information to send them targeted advertising on WhatsApp.

Koum and Acton were fighting back. At one point, when Zuckerberg asked them to duplicate the Snapchat Stories feature inside WhatsApp, they used the task as an excuse to avoid working on other revenue-generating ideas, former employees claim. Not long after that, they resigned. Acton, who left in 2017, spent $50 million to help launch the Signal Foundation, a non-profit organization operating a rival encrypted messaging app. He also posted a Twitter message that left no doubt as to his thoughts. "It's time," he wrote, and then added the hashtag, "#deleteFacebook."

Ironically, Facebook finally came up with a proposal resembling Koum and Acton's. WhatsApp is now managed by Will Cathcart, Sugarberg's top product lieutenant, who claims it focuses on business and business services rather than advertising. Facebook's other messaging app, Messenger, has sold ads since 2017, but it has never developed into a major business. Facebook has said that it will potentially sell ads on WhatsApp as well. But the only way that WhatsApp makes money today is to charge companies to deliver messages to consumers instead of emails or phone calls. "You have to pick and choose things that feel like they're working as well as they can within the product and build on them," says Cathcart.

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Joby Aviation Aquires Uber's ''Elevate''

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 Uber has offloaded its air taxi subsidiary Elevate to Joby Aviation, the last of a few moonshots to be sold by the ride-hailing company in search of sticking to its core business and achieving profitability.

The agreement revealed on Tuesday is part of a complicated deal that involves Uber investing $75 million in Joby and an improved relationship between the two companies. Last year, Uber and Joby, who are designing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing passenger aircraft, signed up as a vehicle partner for the Uber Elevate project. Joby was the first partner to commit to the deployment of air taxi services by 2023.

Under the arrangement, which is scheduled to close at the beginning of 2021, the two parent companies agreed to incorporate their respective services into each other's applications.

"Advanced air mobility has the potential to be exponentially positive for the environment and future generations," said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a statement. "This agreement allows us to deepen our partnership with Joby, a clear leader in this field, in order to accelerate the market path of these technologies."

Though Joby is considered to be one of the pioneers, Elevate has played a role in shaping the nascent industry, including the creation of some of the benchmarks used by competitors.

"The Uber Elevate team has not only played an important role in our industry but has also developed a remarkable set of software tools that build on more than a decade of experience enabling on-demand mobility," said JoeBen Bevirt, CEO of Joby Aviation. "These tools and new team members will be invaluable to us as we accelerate our commercial launch plans."

One year ago, Uber's business model could be categorized as an "all of the above" approach, a strategy to generate revenue from all modes of transport, including haulage, micromobility, logistics, and package and food distribution. The COVID-19 pandemic and Khosrowshahi's emphasis on profitability prompted the business to dump its moonshots and double down on distribution with the acquisition of Postmates.

Today, Uber is a company focused on ride-hailing and distribution while retaining its grasp on micromobility, logistics, and autonomous vehicles through a series of agreements signed in 2020.

Joby-Elevate terms are close to those of the other Uber offers this year. In the spring, Uber led a $170 million funding round for the Lime micromobility startup. As part of the transaction, Lime acquired the micromobility subsidiary of Uber, Hop. The bulk of Jump's 400 staff have been laid off. Earlier this week the Aurora Innovation Autonomous Vehicle Startup signed an agreement with Uber to purchase the ride-hailing company's self-driving unit in a complicated transaction that will value the merged company at $10 billion.

The $75 million investment comes in addition to the previously undisclosed $50 million investment made as part of the Joby Series C funding round in January 2020, Uber said. Joby Aviation has raised $820 million to date. Uber has invested a total of $125 million in the startup.

Much like Uber's Lime deal and now Joby, Aurora doesn't pay cash for Uber ATG, the business that was last valued at $7.25 billion. Instead, Uber is handing over its equity to ATG and investing $400 million in Aurora, which according to a filing with the U.S., will give it a 26 percent interest in the merged firm. Securities and Exchange Commission, please.

Uber said in October that it sold a $500 million stake in its Uber Freight company to an investor group led by New York-based investment firm Greenbriar Equity Group. The agreement priced the unit at $3.3 billion on a post-money basis. Uber has retained its majority stake in Uber Freight, unlike Leap, Elevate, and ATG.

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Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Jeff Bezos Makes an Investment in African Fintech Firm Chipper Cash

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 With the involvement of Bezos Expeditions, the personal VC fund of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, African cross-border Fintech company Chipper Cash has raised a $30 million Series B funding round led by Ribbit Capital.

Ugandan Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled created Chipper Cash in San Francisco in 2018. In seven nations, the company provides mobile, no-fee, P2P payment services: Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya.

The start-up also operates Chipper Checkout, a merchant-focused, fee-based payment product that generates revenue to support the free mobile money business of Chipper Cash, alongside its P2P app. The business has expanded to 3 million users and processes an average of 80,000 transactions daily on its website. According to CEO Ham Serunjogi, Chipper Cash hit a monthly payment volume of $100 million in June 2020.

The start-up plans to broaden its products and geographic reach as part of the Series B increase. That involves providing more business payment solutions, cryptocurrency trading options, and investment services on the product side.

"At our heart, we will always be a P2P financial transfer network. But, Serunjogi told TechCrunch on a call, we had demanded from our users to provide other value services... such as buying cryptocurrency assets and making stock investments.

On its website and app, Chipper Cash has introduced beta dropdowns to buy and sell Bitcoin and invest in U.S. stocks from Africa, the latter via a collaboration with DriveWealth, the U.S. financial services business.

We will first launch [the stock product] in Nigeria, so that Nigerians can purchase fractional stocks via our apps, such as Tesla shares, Apple shares or Amazon shares, and others. We will extend into other nations afterward,' Serunjogi said.

The start-up plans to deliver more API payment solutions on the company's financial services side. "We have received a lot of requests to be able to obtain payments for the selling of products from people on our P2P website, who also have business enterprises," Serunjogi explained.

Chipper Cash is also planning to use its Series B funding to further expand its country, which the company will announce by the end of 2021.

The sponsorship of Chipper Cash by Jeff Bezos follows a recent series of events that have increased the profile of the start-up scene in Africa. The continent's tech ecosystem has been one of the world's fastest-growing in venture capital and start-up growth over the last decade, concentrated in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.

Bringing online the huge unbanked population of Africa and underbanked consumers and SMEs has been a major factor. According to World Bank numbers, about 66 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa's 1 billion people don't have a bank account.

As such, fintech has become the top-funded tech industry in Africa, receiving the bulk of an estimated $2 billion in VC that went to startups in 2019. Even with the rapid growth of venture financing over the last decade, the African tech scene was performance light, with only one recognized unicorn (Jumia e-commerce venture) a handful of exits, and no big offerings of public share. Last year that changed.

Jumia, backed by investors including Goldman Sachs and Mastercard, went public in an NYSE IPO in April 2019. Later in the year after a $200 million investment by Visa, Nigerian fintech firm Interswitch achieved unicorn status.

Network International acquired East African payments DPO for $288 million this year and WorldRemit acquired Sendwave for $500 million in August.

Last month, when Stripe acquired Nigerian payment gateway start-up Paystack for a record $200 million, one of the most important liquidity events in African tech happened.

A spokesperson for Bezos Expeditions confirmed the investment of the fund in Chipper Cash in an email to TechCrunch, but refused to comment on further plans to back African startups. The investment will be the first in Africa for the fund, according to Crunchbase data. It's worth noting that Bezos Expeditions is not related to Amazon, the hallmark business venture of Jeff Bezos.

For Chipper Cash, for the San Francisco-based payments firm and founders Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled, the $30 million Series B raise caps an event-filled two years. The two came to America for studies, met in Iowa while studying at Grinnell College, and went to Silicon Valley for major tech stints: Serunjogi's Facebook and Moujaled's Flickr and Yahoo!.

The startup call beckoned and the duo persuaded 500 Entrepreneurs and Liquid 2 Ventures, co-founded by American football legend Joe Montana, to assist their business with seed funds after launching Chipper Cash in 2018. In 2019, the start-up expanded to Nigeria and Southern Africa entered into a payment agreement with Visa in April, and raised Series A $13.8 million in June.

Ham Serunjogi, the founder of Chipper Cash, claims that the backing of his business by a prominent tech figure, such as Jeff Bezos (the richest individual in the world), has benefits beyond his company.

When a world-class investor like Bezos or Ribbit ventures out of their sweet spot to a new field where they have not previously made investments," he said, "it's a big deal. "Ultimately, the African tech ecosystem overall is the winner of those stuff happening, as it would attract more money to African startups from companies of that caliber."

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Messaging App Go SMS Pro Exposed User's Data

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 One of Android's most common messaging apps, Go SMS Pro, reveals images, videos and other files privately sent by its users. Worse, nothing has been done by the software creator to correct the bug.

Cybersecurity firm Trustwave made the discovery and shared the information with TechCrunch.

In August, security researchers at Trustwave noticed the bug and approached the app maker with a 90-day deadline to address the issue, as is common practice in the disclosure of vulnerabilities to allow enough time for a fix. But the researchers went public after the deadline expired without hearing back.

The app uploads the file to its servers when a Go SMS Pro user sends a photo, video, or other files to someone who does not have the app installed and requires the user to share a web address via text message so that the recipient can see the file without downloading the app. But these web addresses were sequential, the researchers discovered. In reality, a web address would be created irrespective of the time a file was shared, even between app users. This meant that anyone who knew about the predictable web address could have accessed the files of users via millions of different web addresses.

According to its listing in Google Play, Go SMS Pro has over 100 million installations.

The researcher's results were confirmed by TechCrunch. They found a person's phone number, a screenshot of a bank transfer, an order confirmation with someone's home address, an arrest record, and much more explicit images than we expected to be reasonably truthful while viewing just a few dozen links.

Although it was not possible to target any individual person, Karl Sigler, senior security research manager at Trustwave, said that any file sent using the app was open to public access. "He said An intruder can build scripts that can throw a broad net over all the media files stored in the cloud case.

As the researchers, there was little luck getting a response from the app creator. Two email addresses associated with the app were emailed by TechCrunch. One email bounced back immediately, stating that because of a full inbox, the email could not be sent. According to TechCrunch's email open tracker, the other email was opened, but a follow-up email did not.

If you are looking for a messaging app that protects your privacy, you may want to try WhatsApp, Wire, Telegram, Signal because they are end-to-end encrypted

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Microsoft Introduces New Shopping Tools On the Edge Browser

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 Today, Microsoft revealed a few Edge browser updates that are all about shopping. Edge will now also automatically locate coupons for you in addition to expanding the price comparison feature the team revealed last month. The business is also launching a new shopping hub in its search engine for Bing. Undoubtedly, the timing here is influenced by the holiday shopping season, although it seems like Black Friday-style sales already began weeks earlier this year.

The possible utility of the tools for price comparison is very apparent. In Edge Collections, this mostly works fairly well, but sometimes it could also be a frustrating experience because it just wouldn't pull any data from certain places for things you saved. Now you'll see a new badge pop up in the URL bar with this price comparison running in the background all the time, which helps you to open the price comparison. And if you've already found the best deal, that will tell you right away, too.

At least in the Edge Canary, where this was already available for a little bit, it was hit and missed as well. When you shop on Amazon, for example, it seems to work just fine, as long as there's just one SKU of an object. It doesn't really seem to kick in if there are different colors, sizes, or other choices available, which is a little frustrating.

The coupon feature, too, is a little bit of a disappointment. It operates more reliably and tends to extract information from most of the regular coupon sites (think RetailMeNot and Slickdeals), but all it does is display coupons around the web. As most coupons only apply to a small number of products, it easily seems like a waste of time to click on the coupon badge. To be fair, the team has added a nifty feature where Bing will try to apply all the coupons it has found at checkout. That could be a time and money-saver opportunity. This feels like an area of development, however, given the close collaboration with the Bing team in other fields. I shut it off.

The announcement is also being used by Microsoft to introduce a new Edge URL shortener. Now when you paste the connection you copied from the address bar, it automatically transforms the website title from a long, nonsensical URL address to a short hyperlink. If you prefer the full URL, you can use the context menu to convert it to plain text, Microsoft explains. In certain cases, I think that makes sense. However, most of the time, I just want the connection (and no third-party in-between so I hope it can be switched off easily, too.

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Change Pinterest Username this year

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Change Pinterest Username this year: Your Pinterest username is used to create your profile's web address. For example, Pinterest has the username 'Pinterest' and can be found at pinterest.com/Pinterest. Your username can be 3-30 characters, and can't have spaces, symbols, or punctuation.

So, if you intend to change your Pinterest username to something new, follow the steps below;
  • Click at the top of Pinterest to open your menu
  • Click Edit settings
  • Click or scroll down to the "Profile" section
  • Edit your username in "Username"
  • Click Save settings
If you see the message "Oops! Username already taken," try out another username or try adding numbers until it is accepted.
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