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The coronavirus pandemic drove life online. It may never return.



For many Americans, a typical day right now might look something like this: Roll out of bed and check the smartphone. Open up a laptop and file for unemployment benefits through a website. Set up an online education portal for children out of school. Check in with a doctor through a telemedicine portal. Read news on Twitter. Buy groceries through Amazon. Watch stories on Instagram. Binge on Netflix. Connect with a group of friends on a Zoom video chat.

What passes for normal life now happens almost entirely online.

The coronavirus pandemic is unlike any other global emergency in recent history. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are confined to their homes with no definite idea of when they will be able to resume life as they knew it. Staying home has taken on the kind of patriotic duty usually reserved for times of war.

The major question will be whether “normal life” ever returns.

“What I’ve found as a historian is that emergencies, for example like World War I, World War II, the Great Depression, they tended to accelerate rather than necessarily innovate new kinds of relationships, new kinds of ways of life,” said Robert Kargon, a professor of the history of science at Johns Hopkins University.

“My argument has been that essentially these kinds of emergencies accelerate trends that already exist in society,” he said. “We’ve already seen how the internet is impinging on all kinds of activities in terms of work, leisure and so forth, and I think this is going to intensify it and it’s going to change certain things.”

The internet has in recent decades become embedded in almost everything (try to find a product for which there’s not an internet-connected version). But it was primarily used to augment daily life for most people. Some younger people referred to themselves as “extremely online,” but for most it wasn’t the center of their lives.

During the great coronavirus lockdown of 2020, millions of Americans are extremely online. Data from internet services show massive increases in daily use. Assurances from internet services and infrastructure companies that they are able to handle so much of life’s moving online have become closely followed.

When Netflix suffered problems Wednesday, some heralded it as another step closer to apocalypse.

“In an emergency, technology can be fast-tracked,” said Amber Case, a researcher at the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit in Palo Alto, California, that does long-term forecasting. She said she expects a boost of research into technologies around online education and distributed computing, and she predicts that the experience of learning more things online will have wide ripple effects offline.

“I’m hoping we’ll see a next generation of teachers who are rock stars” specializing in teaching via video, she said. “A lot of people are going to learn how to cook really, really well.”

These shifts couldn’t have happened during previous national emergencies, like the Sept. 11 attacks nearly two decades ago. Smartphones didn’t exist yet, and neither did social media, streaming services or easily accessible videoconference calling.

In the days of dial-up modems, often only one device within a home could be on the internet at a time, and it might tie up the phone line.

Joe Bak-Coleman, a Ph.D. student at Princeton University who studies collective behavior and how technology influences society, said the ability to move so much of life online is a recent development — and one that has been particularly crucial because of the nature of the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Only in the last five years have we had technology like Skype and Zoom that allow us to do many of our jobs online,” Bak-Coleman said. “Relative to other pandemics, the ability to take our society online, at least portions of it, helps us so much.”

The kind of shift the country has gone through in the past few weeks doesn’t happen without some pain points. People are finding they need to set limits, that their connection to technology can’t be constant all day, every day, or else their brains won’t get a chance to rest.

“We’re stuck kind of in a period of teenage where we’ve all been told to go to our room,” Case said. “We have to rewrite our relationship to technology, and we’re breaking it.”

The online shift may also exacerbate inequality. Millions of Americans don’t have access to fast broadband internet. Some 44 percent of adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year don’t have home broadband services, the Pew Research Center said last year. And in some places, high-speed broadband isn’t available at any price, because providers haven’t built the service.

“Where those networks do not exist — where Americans do not have choices for high-capacity services — social distancing is much harder on people, if not outright impossible,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a statement emphasizing the importance of the internet to the pandemic response.

The internet is so much of life in 2020 that the American Library Association is asking federal regulators for permission to deploy Wi-Fi hot spots using bookmobiles so they can support neighborhoods that have relied on libraries that are now closed.

Data from internet and entertainment services paint a stark picture of a country pushed online.

HBO said Tuesday that time spent on its streaming service HBO Now was up more than 40 percent from its four-week average, and competitors like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix also are seeing big increases in traffic, according to data from the research firm SimilarWeb.

“Escapism and forgetting what’s going on for a second is also what’s keeping some people sane,” said Carolina Milanesi, a tech industry analyst at the research firm Creative Strategies.

Just about every consumer technology company has reported similar upticks. Facebook said that in places hit hardest by the virus, voice and video calling has more than doubled on two apps it owns, Messenger and WhatsApp. “We are experiencing new records in usage almost every day,” executives wrote in a blog post.

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Apple iPhone 12 series design, camera, colour revealed in video, hints at 120Hz ProMotion tech and 10-bit colour depth- Technology News, Firstpost




Apple’s upcoming iPhone 12 will be — like every year — a benchmark event. A video, doing the rounds on YouTube, has given consumers an idea of what the phone might look like.

The video, made by designer Mauro Battino and YouTuber ConceptsiPhone, has been labelled as a “100% Final Design” trailer.

A report by HypeBeast mentions that the renders of the new designs seem to have borrowed heavily from the popular iPhone 4 model, but enhance it with more pronounced edges and angles, as well as a smaller notch which does not intrude upon the screen.

 Apple iPhone 12 series design, camera, colour revealed in video, hints at 120Hz ProMotion tech and 10-bit colour depth

The iPhone 11.

The iPhone 12 Pro is likely to sport an all-new Super Retina XDR display. A host of internal specifications of the smartphone have also been revealed. The device will be powered by the Apple A14 Bionic chip and have 5G support.

The video also confirms the rumoured 120Hz ProMotion technology and 10-bit colour depth.

The iPhone 12 Pro will come with a quad-camera setup at the rear. The fourth module is the LiDAR scanner that will give the smartphone improved AR capabilities and allow real-time 3D environmental mapping. The device will have a zoom lens, wide lens and ultra wide lens.

According to another report by iDropNews, Apple is reportedly replacing the midnight green colour with a navy blue colour option. The report also adds that the 5.4-inch standard iPhone may package a full-size display into a smaller form. The iPhone 12 Pro models, however, will sport either a 6.1-inch screen or a 6.7-inch screen.

A report last week mentioned that Apple may delay the launch of iPhone 12 series by at least two months. The devices in the series are expected to arrive in November instead of the traditional mid-September timeline.

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

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Italy’s ‘Immuni’ COVID-19 contact tracing app uses Google, Apple tech




The exposure notification app uses Bluetooth to swap codes between mobile devices. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 and they mark that status on Immuni, it will alert people who have been in close proximity with that person. They’ll be advised to self-isolate and get tested for the virus themselves to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Concerns have been raised that the app will violate people’s privacy. However, the Italian government says the app doesn’t collect personal or geolocation data. Data stored on smartphones is encrypted, as are connections between the app and the server. All app-related data, whether on people’s own devices or servers, must be deleted when it’s no longer needed, or by the end of the year at the latest. 

Although Immuni isn’t mandatory, the more people who use it, the more effective it will be, the government said. However, a survey conducted late last month suggested that just 44 percent of Italians will or probably will download the app.

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New tech can map cholesterol metabolism in brain – Latest News




A team of researchers led by Swansea University in the UK has developed new technology to monitor cholesterol in brain tissue which could uncover its relation to neurodegenerative disease and pave the way for the development of new treatments.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, in animal models shows the major locations of cholesterol in the brain and what molecules it can be converted to.

“Although our work was with a mouse, the technology can similarly be used in humans in a research lab or a clinical setting, and could have revolutionary value when linked to neurosurgery,” said Professor William Griffiths who co-led the study.

Dysregulated cholesterol metabolism is linked to a number of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease.

It is known that cholesterol is not evenly distributed across different brain regions.

However, there has been no technology available to map cholesterol metabolism in defined locations of the brain at microscopic levels, and to visualise how it changes in pathological niches in the brain.

In the new study, researchers described an advanced mass spectrometry imaging platform to reveal spatial cholesterol metabolism in mouse brain at micrometre resolution from tissue slices.

The researchers mapped not only cholesterol, but also biologically active metabolites arising from cholesterol turnover.

For example, they found that 24S-hydroxycholesterol, the major cholesterol metabolite in the brain, is about 10 times more abundant in striatum than in the cerebellum, two regions involved in different ways in voluntary movement and cognition.

“Tissue excised during surgery could rapidly be profiled by our method in-clinic and used to distinguish healthy from diseased tissue, informing the surgeon on the next step of the operation,” Griffiths said.

According to co-author Professor Yuqin Wang, this technology which precisely locates molecules in the brain will further our understanding of the complexity of brain function and how it changes in neurodegenerative disorders”.

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