Telenor Is Google’s Latest RCS Messaging Partner

telenor rcs messaging building

Google has big plans for RCS Messaging as it is trying to spread the system throughout the world.

Google has big plans for RCS Messaging. As it is trying to spread the system throughout the world, it recently gained a new partner. The Telenor Group is joining its mission.

Rich Communication Services or RCS is a communication protocol between mobile phones and the carriers. Its aim? To replace the standard SMS messages. A new text-message system could come in their place, a richer variant. One capable of transmitting in-call multimedia. And of providing phonebook polling. This latter enables service discovery.

RCS messaging started being used in 2012. And is already being offered by a number of service carriers. Google has been trying to increase the RCS network. And just recently, it managed to add a new carrier to its list.

The Telenor Group will now start providing RCS messaging. It will do so with help from Google, but only in a number of countries. This will mostly target European states.

For example, the Nordic countries, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Montenegro. But it will also be released in India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Telenor will be helping roll out the feature for Android users. The two will do so as RCS messaging is considered a marked improvement. Especially when compared to MMS and also SMS messages.

The RCS messaging comes with the same ubiquity potential as the common SMS. But it also offers features currently available only on specialized messaging apps. For example, it sports some of the Facebook Messenger and Hangouts properties. As such, it is capable of ensuring group chats and also high-resolution images transmissions.

RCS messaging is already compatible with the Universal Profile, a globally accepted GSMA variant. This means that both supporting devices and carriers will benefit from a guide. This should help them clarify some aspects. For example, how to support RCS customers. And also how to maintain a constant service.

Google’s RCS messaging option is easy to come by. Interested users will only have to download an app from the Play Store. More exactly, the Google Messenger one. There are several other available RCS messaging apps. In some cases, even the default messaging app could support it.

But the Google Messenger currently offers the highest accessibility. It can be downloaded on most phones. And it offers both RCS, SMS, and MMS messaging and support, all in one place.

Following the Telenor partnership, some of their phones will come with the Google Messenger pre-installed. The company subscribers from the aforementioned countries should soon be able to access the service. This will be backed and supported by a Google platform, Jibe.

The RCS messaging system offers more advanced features as it relies more heavily on data networks. Instead of using the traditional 2G network, it will mostly use the data ones.

RCS offers a quite universal compatibility and ease of access. It also supports a wide, varied range of data features, which are not usual on standard messaging. Nonetheless, it does have some minuses.

One would be the fact desktop clients that support RCS messaging won’t be able to sync user messages. And they will also be unable to receive or send messages in sync with the phone.

Image Source: Wikimedia

New Dads Can Also Become Depressed After Pregnancy

man with a baby

Study finds that new dads can also suffer from depression.

Post-partum depression can be a common condition in many mothers, which they rely on the support from their partner to overcome it. However, a new study has found that new dads can also be affected by depression, before or during the pregnancy of their partner.

Previous studies have been mostly focused on studying maternal depression, in order to better recognize it and treat it before it has any major impact on the life of the family. The research has been very valuable as it had various positive health effects for both the mother and the baby.

However, researchers believe that discovering the symptoms of depression in new dads can also have health benefits for their family, overall.  The new study, one of the largest one yet involving both prenatal and postnatal depression in fathers, included over 3,500 men. The study was part of the Growing Up in New Zealand project, and its results were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

According to the researchers, other previous studies found that around 20 percent of mothers experience either postnatal or prenatal depression. They believe that the condition is caused by different hormonal changes or external factors in cases where the pregnancy was not planned, domestic violence, or when the mother does not have social or relationship support.

The study involving depression in new dads revealed that only 2.3 percent of all participants suffered from prenatal depression, while 4.3 percent became depressed after the birth of their child. This is a significantly lower rate than that of women, but it can still have major public health consequences, according to Lisa Underwood, a research fellow at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Researchers found that depression in new dads could strain the overall family relationship in various ways, either emotional or financial hardships, as well as caused cognitive development issues in the child such as behavior or emotional problems.

In the United States, more than 4 million babies are born each year. Therefore, even the small percentage of new dads who are or will become depressed will lead to a significant number of affected individuals and babies, as a consequence.

What do you think about the study’s findings?

Image sourceMax Pixel

NASA Wants to Drill into Europa’s Crust

Euroa surface

NASA reveals plans to drill into Europa’s crust.

One of the many goals of NASA is to determine whether or not there are any other life forms in our solar system or outside of it. For this purpose, the agency’s latest ambition is to look for various signs of life on Europa, Jupiter’s moon, by drilling underneath its ice shell.

Programmer Invents ACLU Dash Button

ACLU dash button

Nathan Pryor invents an ACLU Dash Button.

When Amazon’s Dash Buttons were first revealed not many people saw them as a must-have item despite facilitating your life by ordering your most-used household items. However, their basic function can be reprogrammed to complete various tasks with just the press of a button. For example, thanks to the new ACLU dash button, you can easily donate $5 to the organization.

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has polarized the world and the US, with many people from the opposite political spectrum are becoming more active in politics by taking a stance against the controversial policies of the current administration.

One way to do so is to donate to organizations that represent your values like the ACLU, which has seen record-breaking donations in the last few weeks. Now, a programmer, Nathan Pryor, has facilitated the task of donating with the ACLU Dash button, by clicking every time Donald Trump makes you frustrated.

Pryor described how he came up with the idea and how the button was actually developed in a Medium post. He revealed that the idea initially came from a friend of his, who wished to have an ACLU Dash button, as a way to combat the policies of the current administration by funding organizations who are going to fight against his agenda.

Once he settled on the idea, he had to create his own Python script to set up an automatic donation, as ACLU does not offer any API or programming tool to facilitate donations.  He installed the script to the AWS Lamda, Amazon’s cloud platform, which he connected to the programmable $20 Dash button.  The donation was confirmed through a text message.

Through a process of trial and error, Pryor had successfully received that message confirming his donation. All he had to do is decorate the button with an ACLU graphic, in a similar fashion to other Dash buttons.

While this is a somewhat roundabout way to donate to ACLU, which support recurrent donations each month, the ACLU Dash button does provide more gratification to people. There’s nothing like reading the latest move by the administration and then pressing the button in retaliation.

What do you think about the ACLU Dash button?

Image credit: Nathan Pryor

Brain Synapses Shrink During Sleep

brain synapses

Brain synapses shrink during sleep.

Sleep plays an important role in our wellbeing. Researchers have discovered that during this important activity, brain synapses, which are the connection between neurons, are able to shrink by 20 percent of normal in order to reset and prepare for the full day ahead.

The researchers discovered that after sleep, the brain synapses begin to grow stronger again as they constantly receive new input throughout the day. This type of reset consisting in the shrinking of brain synapses is called synaptic homeostasis. It allows us to rest and forget non-essential information, which otherwise could lead the connections to become overloaded and eventually burn out. Thus, the process in important for self-preservation.

Dr. Chiara Cirelli, the co-author of the study and a researcher at the Wisconsin-Madison center for Sleep and Consciousness, stated that sleep is the optimal time where the brain synapses can reset because during the day humans tend to be active, always receiving some form of input, being stimulated and learning something new. However, during sleep our brains are not focused on the outside world as much, allowing the synapses to reset.

Cirelli initially proposed the hypothesis of synaptic homeostasis in collaboration with her colleague, Dr. Giulio Tononi, back in the year 2003. However, only now were they able to have direct visual evidence of the phenomenon, which manifests itself through the shrinking of the synapses.

For their study, they analyzed the activity of brain synapses in mice when they were asleep. The study, published in the journal Science, consisted in an intricate experiment over a period of four years. Their findings confirm the fact that sleep helps humans consolidate their memories and allows us to continue to learn.

The analysis of the mice’s brain synapses was conducted using a new type of electron microscopy. This technology is able to identify small changes in the brain’s synapses as they shrink and expand, even at the nanometer level. They found that the synapses were 18 percent smaller only after a few hours of sleep. This phenomenon occurred in around 80 percent of synapses, with the largest ones did not experience any changes.

What do you think about the changes in the brain synapses? How often and how much do you sleep during a normal day?

Image sourceWikimedia

FDA Finds Belladonna in Teething Products

baby sleeping

FDA finds belladonna in homeopathic teething products for babies.

The United States’ Food and Drug Administration has released a warning for any parents that have purchased homeopathic teething products, as they have found an inconsistent amount of poisonous belladonna. The FDA simply recommends that all the products must be discarded to avoid any further possible exposure.

Homeopathic teething products which contain small amounts of belladonna are widely used by parents who want to provide temporary pain relief to their babies just as their first teeth being to show. This type of products have been popular in the US ever since the 1900s.

However, a new report from the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, led by the Dr. Janet Woodcock, has revealed that the belladonna can cause an unpredictable response in the bodies of babies which are younger than two years. This puts the toddlers at unnecessary risk and the homeopathic teething products should be carefully avoided.

As an alternative, the FDA recommends that parents should consult their health care professionals to safer options and ways to provide the same relief to babies, but without any dangers. Furthermore, in cases where the babies start to experience seizures, lethargy, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, constipation, or agitation after using teething products, parents should immediately seek medical care.

The FDA previously warned parents about the danger of teething products in 2016, after it received a few dozen reports about babies experiencing adverse effects like seizures or even in extreme cases, infant deaths.

Furthermore, the homeopathic teething products have not been approved nor properly evaluated by the FDA for their proposed effectiveness to provide relief for babies or their overall safety standards.  Thus, the agency has not confirmed the supposed health benefits of such products.

The homeopathic teething products targeted by the warning of the FDA are mainly produced by a company based in Los Angeles known as Hyland, which outsource the actual manufacturing to the Standard Homeopathic Company. At this point, the company did not issue a recall of their products despite the FDA’s suggestion. However, in the past, companies like Raritan Pharmaceuticals have recalled several of their teething products due to the levels of belladonna.

What do you think about the FDA’s warning regarding the homeopathic products?

Image source: Pixabay

Australian Megafauna Driven Extinct by Humans

a representation of megafauna

Australian megafauna was driven to extinction by humans.

The wildlife regions of Australia tend to be portrayed as places where anything can kill you. However, a new study has discovered that among all animals, humans are still the most dangerous as they have driven the Australian megafauna to extinction.

Environments can look radically different without the intervention of humans. This was the case of Australia which has large areas covered in dense forests populated with bigger animals than we see today. Scientists know that the Australian megafauna died out 45,000 years ago, but the cause of its phenomenon remains of the point of contention among researchers.

A new study hopes to resolve the disputes between scientists by revealing the definitive cause of the extinction of the megafauna. Therefore, the study argues that as is the case with other species driven to extinction, human activity and not other factors like climate change led to the gradual extinction of the large species of animals.

More specifically, when humans first arrived in Australia, it is very likely that they began hunting the large animals for food. The researchers believe that even limited hunting has had a large impact on the populations of the Australian megafauna over thousands of years.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, reveals that Australia experienced a much quicker extinction phenomenon compared to other regions like Africa, where the largest animals gradually disappeared over 130,000 years due to a combination of factors like changes in climate, human hunting and the disappearance of their habitat. In Australia, 85 percent of large animals weighing more than 97 pounds started to dwindle more than 50,000 years ago.

According to Dr. Sander van der Kaars, the lead author of the study and a palaeoecologist from the Monash School of Earth, Atmosphere, and Environment, the researchers discovered that the extinction of the Australian megafauna took place precisely between 45,000 and 43,100 years ago. They also did not find an association of the phenomenon with climate fluctuations or changes in vegetation and biomass. The disappearance of the large animals is mostly consistent with the excessive hunting of humans.

What do you think about the study’s results? Do you believe the Australian megafauna was driven extinct by humans or did the changing climate of the region played an important role?

Image sourceMonash University

Prostate Cancer Biopsies Avoidable With MRI Scans

prostate cancer representation

Study finds that prostate cancer biopsies can be avoided thanks to MRI scans.

Prostate cancer has been usually diagnosed after a doctor performs a biopsy on the patient. However, this procedure is invasive and poses several potential dangers. A new study has found that using MRI scan enables doctors to detect the prostate cancer without the need for a biopsy.

The study has found that 27 percent of with potential prostate cancer can avoid a dangerous biopsy by first having an MRI scan, which leads to improved diagnosis and spares men from undergoing the painful process if they do not have an aggressive type of cancer. Furthermore, the study also found that performing an MRI scan also reduces the number of men who are diagnosed with a benign type of cancer by 5 percent.

Doctors usually perform a biopsy on patients who experience either the symptoms of prostate cancer or if they have the prostate specific antigen (PSA) revealed during a blood test. However, the PSA test isn’t always accurate, and in many cases, the patients are required to undergo the painful procedure. Furthermore, not even the biopsy is definitive due to the fact that prostate cancer can have either aggressive or harmless forms, and the procedure takes tissue samples at random.

This leads to patients with benign cancer to be treated for the disease, which adds nothing to their survival rate. However, the findings of the study promise to change the way the disease is commonly diagnosed by using MRI scans.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet on Friday, reveals that doctors who performed an MRI scan managed to diagnose 93 percent of all aggressive cancer cases, while the biopsy which consists in a probe guided by ultrasound being inserted into the rectum only correctly diagnosed 48 percent. However, an MRI scans can be more expensive as it costs $400 for a scan and can only be performed by a radiologist, not to mention that MRI machines are not readily available in all hospitals.

For their study, the researchers gathered 576 participants suspected of having prostate cancer. They were required to undergo both an MRI scan as well as two type of biopsies.

What do you think about the findings of the study? Did you ever receive a biopsy for this type of cancer?

Image sourceWikimedia

Android One Platform Coming to the US

Google designed the Android One Platform as a way to provide low-cost Android smartphones to developing markets. The main benefit of using the platform is that users can avoid the usual issues that come with cheap smartphones such as competing services, bloatware, as well as a lack of security and software updates.

A new report issued by The Information has revealed that Google wants to bring the Android One platform to the United States in order to solve those types of issues which are still common for cheap smartphones even in the US as they are not restricted only developing regions.

For its Android One platform, Google has historically partnered with low key manufacturers of smartphones such as QMobile, Micromax, and Cherry.  This allowed Google to dictate the specific parts and components that would go into the phone that those companies were making. However, after some time since the program initially launched in India, Google became more flexible and even decided to expand its platform in several parts of Africa, in Portugal and Spain.

Unfortunately, despite the many benefits of the Android One platform for low-end consumers, the program did not the reach the success Google was hoping it would. Nonetheless, it remains an important initiative for the company, one which is keen on expanding even in the US it seems.

Google has an important stake in making sure that as many Android smartphones as possible receive security updates besides other new features on a regular basis. However, the company has yet to put some real effort into the platform, with the launch of the platform in the US might be an indication of this. Therefore, some of the company’s plans for the future of Android could become clearer, especially since the launch of Pixel.

At the moment, Google seems to want to develop their own high-end hardware while still allowing their core services into low-end devices. One thing is clear, Google will not be making the Android One platform devices for the US, but it hasn’t revealed which companies will make them instead. The report reveals that the low-end devices are expected to launch before the middle of 2017.

Image source: Android

Microsoft StaffHub Office 365 App Improves Shift Scheduling

Microsoft StaffHub app on tablet

Microsoft StaffHub facilitates the scheduling options for managers and shift workers.

Microsoft’s Office suite is probably the popular series of tools for any Windows-enabled office worker. As such, the company is always adding new features and functions which attempt to facilitate the work of users. The latest addition is the Microsoft StaffHub which is aimed at the management of deskless workers who work in shifts and have varying schedules.

The Microsoft StaffHub was initially unveiled as a preview during the fall of last year with the purpose of collecting various user feedback in order to tweak the software before its official launch today. Microsoft’s trial initiative was a success as more than 1,000 business signed up for StaffHub, from a hospitality company to a large winery from California.

According to Bryan Goode, the General Manager for Office 365, there is a large number of shift workers in the US as well as over the entire world who require a better management tool for their schedules and shifts. While most companies still operate with physical or dated apps, business is starting to see the benefit of having these operations in the digital space by making changes online.

However, the new Microsoft StaffHub is more than any just calendar app with a few scheduling options. Managers who are in charge of establishing the schedule and shifts of employees can do so in the desktop app while employees only ever need to access the app on their mobile phones. As such, this provides a lot of relief to deskless workers who can’t keep track of their overall schedule.

Furthermore, the new Microsoft StaffHub allows managers to make use of various features as a way to differentiate between different types of shifts by using custom labels like night, day, or opening or even implement a color coding system. Additionally, the managers can write a few notes regarding a specific work that the employee must do during his shift.

StaffHub doesn’t require that you constantly create new schedules and shifts despite being the same as a previous period. You can use any previously created schedule and copy them to a new period. Managers can, of course, make any changes to the copied schedule as they see fit. The app even supports the sharing of files even to employees who only use the mobile app.

Image credit: Microsoft StaffHub