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Hubble captures stunning image of squabbling galaxies via CNN

WhatsApp to let users message without their phones

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WhatsApp logo in close-up from a phone screen

WhatsApp is testing a new feature that will let people message without using their phone for the first time.

At present, WhatsApp is linked to a user’s phone. Its desktop and web apps need that device to be connected and receiving messages.

But the new feature will let users send and receive messages “even if your phone battery is dead”.

To begin with, the new feature will be rolled out as a beta test for a “small group of users”, and the team plans to improve performance and add features before enabling it for everyone.

End-to-end encryption – a key selling point for WhatsApp – will still work under this new system, it said.

Several other messaging apps already have such a feature, including rival encrypted app Signal, which requires a phone for sign-up, but not to exchange messages.

But the feature has long been requested by WhatsApp users – of which there are a reported two billion.

‘A rethink’

In a blog post announcing the move, Facebook engineers said the change needed a “rethink” of WhatsApp’s software design.

That is because the current version “uses a smartphone app as the primary device, making the phone the source of truth for all user data and the only device capable of end-to-end encrypting messages for another user [or] initiating calls”, the company said.

WhatsApp Web and other non-smartphone apps are essentially a “mirror” of what happens on the phone.

But that system has significant drawbacks familiar to many regular users, as the web app is known to frequently disconnect.

It also means that only one so-called “companion app” can be active at a time – so loading WhatsApp on another device will disconnect a WhatsApp web window.

“The new WhatsApp multi-device architecture removes these hurdles, no longer requiring a smartphone to be the source of truth, while still keeping user data seamlessly and securely synchronised and private,” the company said.

On a technical level, the solution was giving every device its own “identity key”, and WhatsApp keeps a record of which keys belong to the same user account. That means it does not need to store messages on its own server, which could lead to privacy concerns.

But Jake Moore, a security specialist at anti-virus-company Eset, said that no matter how robust the security is, having messages on more devices could still be a concern.

“There will always be a malicious actor looking to create a workaround,” he said.

“Domestic abusers and stalkers could now have the potential of using this new feature to their advantage, by creating additional endpoints in order to capture any synchronised private communications.”

He also said that social engineering is an “ever-increasing” threat, and the responsibility lies with the user to keep an eye out for potential misuse.

“It is therefore vital that people are aware of all the devices that are connected to their account,” he warned.

Google Workspace and Google Chat are officially available to everybody – The Verge


That’s over three billion potential usersBy Dieter Bohn  Jun 14, 2021, 6:00am EDT

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Google Spaces

Google is announcing some changes to its Workspace suite of apps and services today, including availability for anybody who has a Google account. Google says that there are over three billion users of its Workspace apps — though it’s probably a safe bet that Gmail accounts for a healthy chunk of that userbase.null

A lot of people will soon have the option to switch over to Google’s more modern system for Gmail, Docs, and Chat. All of them can be integrated in a single tab more easily, for example with chats sliding over to the left to reveal a shared spreadsheet. It’s also related to the company’s new “smart canvas” push, which is also designed to interlink its various apps via “smart chips.”

To get started, Google is now officially offering the setting to turn on Google Chat to all users. It’s a new setting within Gmail.

With the switch, Google Chat messaging should be an option for all now, which can include direct messages and chat Rooms. But Google is also introducing a new terminology to go along with the announcement. It is announcing the “evolution of Rooms in Google Chat to Spaces.”

A Space is essentially the same thing as a chat Room, but Google wants to separate them out into their own top-level form of communication next to Gmail, Chat, and Meet. Google is layering on a few new features like improved message threading, more emoji reactions, user roles, moderation tools, and “discoverable” spaces. In that sense, it seems that Spaces wants to serve both as a Slack competitor and as a competitor for public Discord groups and, well, maybe as an optional replacement for email groups.

It’s a little confusing — but that’s par for the course for Google’s messaging strategy.Google Spaces Google

The key idea, according to Sanaz Ahari, senior director of product, is that users can more easily switch between “modalities” of communication. The intent is to “keep the context,” Ahari says. “If you start something with an email and then you want to upgrade it into more real-time interaction between a group — or even for a project — you’re able to do that and you can keep the context. Then you can all seamlessly upgrade into a meeting at the same time.”null

Google is promising it will “launch a streamlined and flexible user interface” for Spaces this summer.

Those aren’t the only announcements getting bundled into today’s Workspace news. The company is launching a new tier called “Google Workspace Individual” at $9.99 per month, which gives users more Workspace tools without requiring them to set up their own domain or custom email address.

When Workspace users say yes to a meeting, they will be able to indicate whether they’ll be attending remotely or in the reserved meeting room. Google also provided a date for the Companion Mode feature, which encourages people in the meeting room to also turn on their cameras so that remote workers don’t feel quite as left out — it should be coming in September to desktop and “soon” to mobile.

Google also snuck in an announcement that it will finally offer a progressive web app for Google Workspace in September. In theory, it could make it much easier for Gmail users to have their email and other Google apps feel more like actual desktop apps and not just tabs in the browser. That’s possible now via various Electron apps and Single Site Browser windows, but it requires more work than it should.null

Finally, Google is adding enterprise options that are going to be necessary if it really wants to have a shot at going after larger companies. Corporations will be able to use their own client-side encryption for data, add more “trust rules” for various Drive files to simplify access and permissions, and label files based on their sensitivity.

Google Workspace has been rapidly updating and iterating over the past few months, a sign perhaps that the company really does intend to seriously compete with Microsoft. Google’s strategy goes beyond just improving its products — it’s more tightly integrating them together. Gmail users will soon find more prompts than ever to bring them into Google’s other Workspace products — and some no doubt will be looking for ways to avoid all that. Putting buttons for Chat, Meet, and Rooms (soon to be Spaces) at the bottom of the most popular email app in the world is sure to raise usage — and potentially some antitrust eyebrows.

The biggest question mark is whether Google can coherently explain the switchover to Chat, why it’s worth it, and what this new Spaces thing really is. Now that Workspace is going to be available to over three billion regular people, the company is going to need to work hard to clearly communicate with all of them.

Documenting Life series (no. 2):

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TechDocs provides writing services for manufacturing plants

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Words of the Day


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Pesach Edition: No Pain No Gain

What are your documentation pain-points?

How do you deliver an intermittent staging environment of your product through documentation?

And to what effect?

You, your subsidiary companies, their startups and your VC all want comparative documentation reflective of the current product version.

So, say your last documented version is lagging by a year but your funding round is now… do you have the skills, know-how and penetration power to cut through the chase and deliver documentation that sells the current (or future) cycle your company is in?

I often wonder how companies that try to ‘catch-up’ in 5 days succeed. Yes, it is likely that if you patch up various external processes for fast delivery you’ll get away with it – however, for far reaching drill-down and process management you need a documentarian with fire power to coordinate your company’s skill-sets and professionals to go for the gold.

In previous articles I touched upon some of the evaluation processes involved. I believe that what delivery is definitely a part of the overall pain-points of companies and especially when they want turn-around on their ROI.

To deliver a documentation set successfully, you need more than data analytics, you need the impactful insight of at least a generations worth of punch, in the form of issue tracking software (suggestion), such as Atlassian (Jira), Capterra, Monday, Trello, Asana, Pivotal Tracker, Basecamp, Bugzilla, Azure DevOps, GitHub Issues, and others, to oversee and implement procedures that are meaningful and make your product investment worthy – also relevant for OEM and Manufacturing Continuity.

How-To Geek: How to Propose a New Time for a Google Calendar Event

MAR 14, 2021, 10:24 AM EDT | 2 MIN READ

Google Calendar logo

Save yourself a phone call or email when you want to reschedule a meeting. With Google Calendar, you can propose a new time or date right from the event invitation using the built-in “Propose a New Time” feature.

Propose a New Time in Google Calendar Online

If your preferred method for using the Google Calendar website is on your Windows 10 PC, Mac, or Linux computer, it’s easy to use the feature to suggest a different time or date.

Open the event on your calendar. In the bottom-right corner, click the down arrow and select “Propose a New Time.”

Click Propose a New Time

A new page will open that shows the calendar event’s current date and time along with your agenda for that date and time. On the left, under “Your Proposal,” click the start or end date or time that you want to change. If you want to pick a new date, a small calendar will pop up. For the time, you have a scrollable list of times.

After you pick the proposed new time, you can add an optional message in the box. When you finish, click “Send Proposal.”

Click Send Proposal with the New Time

When the organizer views the event, they’ll see any message you’ve sent (along with the suggested change) and can click “Review Proposed Time” in the event window.

Click Review Proposed Time

If they accept the change, they’ll simply click “Save” at the top of the event details screen with the new time and/or date. This will reschedule the event for all participants, and they can optionally send a message.

Propose a New Time in Google Calendar on Android, iPhone, or iPad

Using Google Calendar on your mobile device is a great way to keep up with your schedule on the go. The feature for proposing a new time is available in the Google Calendar smartphone and tablet app and works the same on AndroidiPhone, and iPad.

Open the event in your Google Calendar app and tap the arrow found in the bottom-right corner. Tap “Propose a New Time.”

Tap Propose a New Time on Mobile

Use the date and time section at the bottom to pick your suggestion. You can optionally include a message, just like you can online. Tap the blue send icon that looks like an arrow when you finish.

Select the New Date or Time and Tap Send

When the organizer sees the event, they’ll also see any message you’ve sent with the suggested change and can tap “Review Proposed Time.”

If they want to accept your suggestion, they’ll tap the checkmark icon in blue and select “Save” on the next screen, which saves the event with the new date and/or time.

Tap the checkmark and Save to Accept the New Time

Many times, we’re forced to reschedule a meeting or event. Thankfully, Google Calendar makes suggesting a new date or time easy. And remember to include everything your participants need by attaching files to your Google Calendar events.

RELATED: How to Attach Files to Google Calendar EventsREAD NEXT

Sandy Writtenhouse

With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage. READ FULL BIO »

Daily Crunch: Dropbox acquires DocSend for $165M — TechCrunch

Dropbox acquires a secure document-sharing startup, Sonos announces a new speaker and Google makes hotel listings free. This is your Daily Crunch for March 9, 2021. 453 more words

Daily Crunch: Dropbox acquires DocSend for $165M — TechCrunch

IEEE 2675-2021 – IEEE Approved Draft Standard for DevOps: Building Reliable and Secure Systems Including Application Build, Package and Deployment

DroneDJ: Is senseFly teasing a new drone release?

Scott Simmie   –   Jan. 25th 2021 3:47 pm

senseFly has hinted that it will be releasing a new product, presumably a drone, on February 1. A new video teases just enough to grab our attention. Let’s take a look.

senseFly, if you weren’t aware, is the commercial wing of Parrot. The subsidiary was founded in 2009, and has had tremendous success with its eBee drone. The delta-wing aircraft is a favorite of many for surveying and photogrammetry, and has built a reputation as a reliable workhorse. The company also makes an RTK version for super-high spatial accuracy. It produces drones for surveying, precision agriculture, thermal scanning, and more.

And now? It looks like something else is in the pipeline.

What will senseFly release?

Well, based on the 22-second teaser, we’re guessing a new drone. The familiar eBee lines are in this video:“A new solution for drone mapping…”

The new release is on February 1

There’s not really any other info to go on, except for that little tease. But it is worth pointing out that senseFly has really been a serious player in the drone game for quite some time. While writing this up, I remembered a video that was pretty amazing when it first came out: senseFly used its drone(s) to map the Matterhorn, the mighty mountain that straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy.

Memory’s a funny thing: I guessed this was from about four years ago. But senseFly carried out this accomplishment seven years ago. Clearly, they were ahead of the game at that time. If you’re pressed for time, you could start at about the 2:34 mark: was quite an accomplishment…seven years ago!

DroneDJ will be watching…

We love product releases. And we know senseFly has a lot of devotees.

We’ll be sure to let you know what the company releases next Monday!



About the Author

Scott Simmie

Scott Simmie is a career multi-platform journalist now specializing in drones and other technology content creation

DroneDJ: Is senseFly teasing a new drone release?.

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