NASA’s InSight records sound waves from Mars

NASA releases the latest image of InSight capturing a solar panel. (Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s InSight, a new Mars lander, captured the first sounds of the Martian winds on Dec. 1. However, it was released by NASA on December 07, 2018.
Listen to the wind waves of Mars.

InSight sensors captured a haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind, estimated to be blowing between 10 to 15 mph (5 to 7 meters a second) from northwest to southeast. The winds were consistent with the direction of dust devil streaks in the landing area, which were observed from orbit.


Verizon gives discounts to emergency first responders with unlimited plans

Verizon introduces new discounts for those heroes of our local communities. State and city police, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers, and Fire department as well will all be eligible for Verizon discounts on their personal service accounts. Volunteers, current employees, and retirees will all be eligible.

Those who qualify will get $15 off a single line of service per month, $35 for two lines, and $40 for three or more lines will be discounted per month. If you’d like to request the discount, you can log into your My Verizon account and submit the necessary documents to prove eligibility, or you can bring those documents to a Verizon store.

It’s worth noting that Verizon already has the same discount structure for veterans and active military.

Just a few months earlier, Verizon was criticized during some California wildfires by cutting off service to fire emergency responders whose account was over its data limit and was throttled. Communication during emergencies like this is crucial and when data is throttled, it could cost lives.

When the fire department requested that Verizon remove the throttle during the time of emergency, the customer representative said the account needed to paid up front before they could remove the cap. Of course, Verizon did eventually apologize for that episode. This discount is a nice gesture to thank first responders who risk their lives to save others.


Qualcomm announces Snapdragon 8cx chipset for Windows 10

At the Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, Qualcomm has taken the wraps off its latest chipset intended for Windows 10 computers – the Snapdragon 8cx. This is the successor to the Snapdragon 850, but it’s a different beast altogether.

Whereas the 850 was just a modified Snapdragon 845, which is intended for mobile devices, the 8cx is the company’s first of a kind SoC built specifically for Windows 10 PCs from the ground up. It’s made on a 7nm process and should be in shipping products around the third quarter of next year.

The company says it will pack twice the performance of the Snapdragon 850, which, to quote Reddit parlance, is big if true. That is because Qualcomm says the 8cx’s performance when running native Windows ARM apps should rival that of an Intel Core i5 U-series CPU. The SD850 beat a Core i5-6300U in multi-core benchmark scores and only slightly lagged in single-core scores, so that’s certainly believable – obviously the 8cx will need to be compared to a current generation Core i5 8th gen part.

The Snapdragon 8cx’s Adreno 680 GPU will handle dual 4K HDR displays, and will have hardware acceleration for 4K HDR video playback at 120fps. The chipset’s CPU cores will be Kryo 495, and it’s also got an integrated X24 Cat.20 LTE modem with a top theoretical download speed of 2Gbps and 316Mbps uploads.

Third-gen PCI-E and second-gen USB 3.1 will be supported for “limitless peripherals”, and for storage there’s support for NVMe SSDs. The built-in Hexagon 685 DSP will enable enhanced voice assistant experiences for Cortana and Alexa, and Qualcomm’s fourth-gen AI engine is on board too.

Bluetooth 5.0 is supported too, as well as Quick Charge 4+. The 8cx is without a doubt the fastest Snapdragon ever, a feat that is made possible in the laptop/2-in-1 category by the better heat dissipation than what you’d find in any phone. Qualcomm also promises multi-day battery life for the devices that will have the 8cx at the core.

Additionally, this is going to be the first Snapdragon to receive a certification for Windows 10 Enterprise, which is critical for adoption by businesses who might be interested in an always-connected PC platform.

Finally, let’s address the odd name: the “cx” letters apparently stand for “compute” and “extreme”, to further drive home the point about this being the most radical iteration of any SoC ever made by Qualcomm.


Sony Xperia XZ4 Compact CAD-based renders leak, video too

Over the past few weeks Sony’s upcoming Xperia XZ4 has started leaking – we’ve seen it in CAD-based renders, and a couple of days ago a purported spec list was outed too. Now it’s time for the phone’s smaller sibling to take the stage.

So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes upon the Sony Xperia XZ4 Compact. What you see here are CAD-based renders, which have proven accurate in the past. There’s also a video showcasing all the angles of the phone, embedded below.

Sony Xperia XZ4 Compact CAD-based renders Sony Xperia XZ4 Compact CAD-based renders Sony Xperia XZ4 Compact CAD-based renders
Sony Xperia XZ4 Compact CAD-based renders

The phone keeps the blocky looks of Sony’s previous Compact flagships, and its screen’s top and bottom bezels seem to be almost as big as the XZ2 Compact’s, so it’s a pretty retro look that the XZ4 Compact dons here.

The new device still has a single rear camera, and also one snapper up front for selfies. Dual front-facing speakers are in, and there’s a 3.5mm jack on the top side. The XZ4 Compact will have a 5-inch display and its dimensions are 139.9 x 66.5 x 9.3 mm. That means it’s taller and wider than its predecessor, but thinner – and that’s probably because it lacks a bulge on the back.


Polaris Blue Galaxy S9+ and Alpine White Galaxy Note9 hit India

Samsung is now selling a Polaris Blue Galaxy S9+ and an Alpine White Galaxy Note9 in India through its online store with availability in select brick and mortar stores coming from December 10.

Both devices are offered with a special up to INR 9,000 exchange bonus if you give Samsung your old phone and both come with the base storage of each model – 64GB for the Galxy S9+ and 128GB for the Galaxy Note9. Fans of the smaller Galaxy S9 will be disappointed to learn there’s no Polaris Blue option of that phone.

Samsung also offers an INR 6,000 cashback if you buy with an HDFC credit card…


vivo NEX 2 to have 10GB of RAM, in-screen speaker, f/1.3 camera

The vivo NEX 2 will likely have 10GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 845 chipset. The information is confirmed by a Geekbench listing of a vivo V1821A device with the aforementioned credentials. Interestingly the vivo in question is also running Android 9 Pie, which would make it the first vivo smartphone on Android’s latest software.

According to a related leak, the main camera on the back of the vivo NEX 2 (one of three) will have an ultra fast f/1.3 aperture – claiming the spot of the smartphone with the widest aperture around.

As for the screens, rumor has it the main screen will be a 6.59-inch panel with screen sound casting tech (meaning you’ll hear calls through the screen itself, like on the first-gen vivo NEX) while the second display will be a 5.5-incher that will work independently. We know how vivo intends to switch between screens – with a three-finger gesture.

Finally the vivo NEX 2 will apparently come with a smaller battery compared to its rival. This could be due to the space required for the second screen. Of course the information could also be false.

vivo will likely announce the NEX 2 on December 11.


Nokia 8.1 goes on pre-order in Taiwan, comes with a free case

The Nokia 8.1, the global version of the Nokia X7 is now available to order in Taiwan after going official yesterday.

The phone is priced at NT$ 9,990 (€285), which is a significant step down from its projected €400 ($454) price in Europe. Nokia Taiwan even bundles a clear case with the phone and also offer the official flip case at a discounted price of NT$ 22 ($0.71). So far it looks like the only available color is Steel. Pre-orders are live now and shipments are expected to start on December 12.

The United Arab Emirates are expected to start Nokia 8.1 pre-orders later today at a price of AED 1,500 ($410).

The Nokia 8.1 packs a 6.18-inch IPS LCD of 1080x2280px resolution, a Snapdragon 710 chipset with 6GB of RAM, a 3,500mAh battery and a dual 12MP + 13MP main camera at the back.


Gardening: 10 ways to become a great gardener

Image result for Gardening: 10 ways to become a great gardener

If you want to become a great gardener, you can. It’s really not that hard. Here are 10 things you can do that will help you achieve that goal.

If you want to become a great gardener, you can. It’s really not that hard. Here are 10 things you can do that will help you achieve that goal.

1. Take classes

The flower shows are starting up, and they all have classes with speakers who have been selected for their knowledge and life experiences. Yes, it’s great fun to wander up and down the aisles buying things and ogling flowers. But take a break: get off your feet, sit down and attend a nice talk. Bring a notebook and take notes.

2. Read good gardening books

Yes, the internet has millions of people who want to tell you things. But real books that are published by reputable publishers are dependable in ways the internet may not be. Go to a bookstore on a cold February day and spend an hour or two in the gardening section. Buy a book, and bring it home.

3. Improve your soil

Okay, you can’t work on this one now. But, come spring, think about what you can do to improve your soil. Adding compost or aged manure is a great way to improve your soil. Chemical fertilizers are, at best, a quick fix.

Decades ago I turned a field of brambles and alders by my brook into a vegetable garden. I cut down the brush by hand, mowed it, and dug out roots. But most importantly, I had a farmer bring in truckloads of aged manure. I worked it into the soil, and then did it again the next year. And the next. And so on. Now my soil is rich and black, and my potatoes voted me their favorite gardener many years running!

4. Pay attention

Being a great gardener means that, in part, that you spend lots of time in the garden, and that you really look at what is happening. Are there insects laying eggs on the underneath side of leaves? If so, are they good bugs or bad bugs? Are new tomato transplants showing signs of dehydration on Day 2 in the garden? Of course you may not know the signs of dehydration. But gardening is not rocket science. You can figure it out.

5. Go on garden tours

Most garden clubs sponsor a tour of their best members’ gardens in the summer. Join a garden club — you can do this now and attend lectures and slide shows. Then, come summer, go to as many “Open Garden” events as you possibly can. See what a mature specimen of a tree looks like. Ask questions. Find out who did their stonework, or what local nursery has the best perennials. Need someone to help you in the garden? Ask your host if she can make a recommendation.

6. Learn to plant seeds

Start seedlings indoors in flats and nurture them until you can plant them outdoors in late spring. Starting from seeds does a couple of things: First, success at this gives one great confidence. See that tomato? I grew it from a seed. You really feel like a serious gardener, which is important.

Second, starting plants from seeds allows you to have many more plants. Starting an English cottage garden from scratch can be expensive if you buy every plant as a mature perennial at $10 each. Last year I planted a packet of hollyhock seeds and got 100 percent germination. I then had 32 hollyhocks to fit in my flower beds for about $3. They bloom in their second year, and I can’t wait to see them this year.

7. Learn how to divide perennials

This is a way to create more plants for free. But you must do your homework and know which ones can be divided, and when. Go back to number 2 and read up. A book like Tracy DiSabato-Aust’s “The Well-Tended Perennial Garden” will give you that information.

8. Learn to prune trees and shrubs

This is a skill you must have if you want to be a great gardener. Trees and shrubs are the bones of a garden. But an un-pruned tree is as messy as an unmade bed.

Think of pruning as sculpting. There are some very basic rules that you can learn from a book, or you can take a class. Trees and shrubs are healthier and more beautiful if you prune them. And anyone who tours your garden will compliment you if you’ve done a good job pruning. Pruning season will soon be upon us.

9. Take chances

Not every plant I buy will survive in my climate, or with the soil that I have. But if I love a plant, I will buy it, and see if I can make it flourish. I use the baseball guide: if I kill a perennial three times, it’s out! Trees and shrubs, I often give just two tries. I have had two peach trees die in cold winters, and I have given up on the idea of growing my own peaches. One lived 5 years before a bad winter killed it.

10. Give away plants and vegetables

I think of my grandfather as a great gardener. He had a regular vegetable route — as a widower he visited the widows in town each week in the summer, sharing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and flowers. They all loved him. Give plants to friends and acquaintances and they will sing your praises every time those flowers bloom! And you really will be a great gardener.


Costa Rican harvests global recognition for gardening success

Image result for Gardening: 10 ways to become a great gardener

In 1964, Evangelista Blanco began sculpting the gardens at the foot of the St Raphael church in Zarcero, Costa Rica. More than 50 years later, the gardens and their topiaries have become a symbol of the city and an international tourist attraction. The gardens have grown larger with cypress trees shaped like elephants, birds and beasts, over 100 figures in all.

Blanco was given a national cultural prize for his work and, at the age of 79, still isn’t ready to hang up his shearers.

Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher reports from Zarcero.


Jimmy Mistry engineers sophisticated interiors for Rustomjee Elements, Mumbai

Della Group Chairman and Managing Director Jimmy Mistry has designed one of the show flats for Rustomjee Elements, Mumbai

Design Diva Meet Engineering Maverick

If Sussanne Khan blended her innate sense of the classics with her contemporary design sensibility to execute her larger-than-life interpretation of Rustomjee Elements’ 4BHK apartment, then design maverick Jimmy Mistry zoomed in at the macro level and focused on precision and engineering for the very same project. But glamour, elegance and sophistication has been the mainstay of both these design mavens, and so, we step into Rustomjee Elements, a luxury gated community development at DN Nagar, Mumbai with a level of expectation that is reserved for only the most discerning creatives.

For their latest 5-tower residential project, Rustomjee Elements has brought on board four talented interior designers to showcase their unique interior design aesthetics across four different show flats — beginning with Patty Mak and interior designer Simone Arora, and then Sussanne Khan’s ultra-cozy yet glamorous show flat, to the high-functioning, tech-enabled, sophisticated apartment “engineered” (not just designed) by Della Group Chairman and Managing Director, Jimmy Mistry — it’s a smorgasbord of design sensibilities and a treat for home buyers.

The Rustomjee Elements show flat designed and configured by Jimmy Mistry

The Rustomjee Elements show flat designed and configured by Jimmy Mistry

Not Just Interior Design, it’s Interior Engineering

The Rustomjee Elements show flat designed and configured by Jimmy Mistry is a reflection of his two-decades of experience keenly observing Indian consumers. Home owners to be precise. Right from how we look to maximise limited spaces to our need for storage, “think of all the things we stuff into our bedside cabinets,” shares Jimmy Mistry, with equal parts humour and exasperation. This experiential paradigm is what forms the basis of Jimmy’s vision and approach toward all his design-led luxury residential projects. Functionality doesn’t preclude sophistication, in the same way that expanse (having more space) needn’t lead to opulence.

Speaking about his approach to the show flat of Rustomjee Elements, Jimmy Mistry says, “I was given a free hand to deliver a distinctly elegant opulence, styled to every single inch of it with my own designs as well as the best from the other leading thinkers of the design industry. A home by Della by Jimmy Mistry is designed for the modern family to accommodate their dynamic needs. The elements of luxury, technology, and comfort are collaborated in a perfect mix to lend a sense of pride and satisfaction to each resident.”

The Rustomjee Elements apartment designed by Jimmy Mistry achieves an inspired fusion of unobtrusive interiors and state-of-the-art amenities, all in an ambience that is soaked in luxury
The Rustomjee Elements apartment designed by Jimmy Mistry achieves an inspired fusion of unobtrusive interiors and state-of-the-art amenities, all in an ambience that is soaked in luxury

Step into the world of miro customization

Rustomjee Elements, an uber luxury project by Rustomjee, just off Juhu Circle, is the home of choice for some of the who’s who of Mumbai’s celebrity and social circuit and Jimmy kept that as a reference point when it came to designing the interiors. This apartment achieves an inspired fusion of unobtrusive interiors, state-of-the-art amenities, all in an ambience that is soaked in luxury. The show flat is a debut project for the soon to be launched Della Store and aims to present the fullest expression of the Della philosophy. All the products featured in this flat have been manufactured by Della, at Della facilities. “The entire home, every single room, is remarkable for the sheer technological prowess installed in it, which is at par with the best homes in the world,” exults Jimmy, adding, “My products must surprise as much as they delight, not just in the way they look, not just in the way they function, but how well they elevate the way my customer lives their life.”

Rustomjee Elements is spread across 3 acres and comprises apartments that are available in 3, 4, and 5 bed variants. Its amenities include a landscaped podium garden, sky lounge, business centre, infinity pool, preview theatre, spa, concierge, fully-equipped gymnasium, multi-purpose court, and a library. Home buyers have the choice of customising their Rustomjee apartment by seeking the consultancy by either Sussanne, Simone or Jimmy Mistry.

Take a look at the Jimmy Mistry-designed interiors:

Rustomjee Elements, Mumbai, show flat designed by Jimmy Mistry with interior products curated by Della

Bar adjacent to the kitchen. Rustomjee Elements, Mumbai, show flat designed by Jimmy Mistry with interior products curated by Della Group