Monday, December 18, 2017

Tea benefits that will make you go for your next cup right away

With the onset of winter, the consumption of tea has increased. Not only does tea provide warmth and coziness, it also helps to de-stress the mind and uplift one's mood.

Moreover, this magical drink has umpteen health benefits:

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* Green tea, black tea, and Oolong tea consists of potent antioxidents which help one stay fit and healthy.
* Tea reduces cholesterol and brings down the risk of heart diseases.
* Ginger Tea and Masala Tea can easily cure cough and cold.
* Tea protects one's bones and also soothes the digestive system.

Some of the widely preferred delicious flavors of tea include:

Hibiscus and Honey tea:
This tea is rich in Vitamin C and serves as an antidepressant. It also manages blood pressure and lowers cholesterol.

Green tea:
Green tea boosts the immune system and fights cold. It also helps to build bone density and increases metabolism. It can act as a backup sunscreen too.

White tea:
This is the best tea for a warm citrus feeling. White tea contains zero caffeine and is extremely rich in antioxidants.

Spicy Rooibos tea:
Devoid of caffeine, this tea is quite good for weight reduction. The spices provide numerous health benefits which help one fight infections, stay active, and rejuvenated.

Tulsi, rose, and cardamom tea:
This tea is therapeutic as well as extremely delicious. It is good for the hair and skin and also helps prevent plaque.

Facebook to Tackle “Engagement Baiting” by Demoting Posts and Pages

If you’re a frequent Facebook user like me, you’ve probably come across solicitous posts in your News Feed asking you to “Like” something if you’re “a fan of dogs”, for example, or to comment on a post “letter by letter.” It’s called engagement baiting, and its sole motivation is to get people to interact by liking, reacting, commenting, or sharing low-quality posts  (sort of like clickbait headlines). It’s not new to Facebook by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s gotten worse with the rollout of the social network’s emoji Reactions feature, which affects the visibility of posts on your News Feed. Facebook’s heard complaints about engagement baiting loud and clear, though, and it’s preparing to tackle the issue this week.

“People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions,” Facebook wrote in a blog post. “This tactic […] seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach. So, starting this week, we will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.

Facebook says its teams have reviewed and categorized “hundreds of thousands” of engagement bait posts and taught a machine learning model to detect different types. The results will be used to algorithmically demote posts from engagement-baiting people and pages “in an effort to promote authentic engagement” in posts, Facebook says. In addition, the machine learning system will punish repeat offenders by reducing the overall visibility of their posts.

Not all posts will get the banhammer, though. Facebook says that posts asking for help or advice, such as raising money for a cause or asking for music recommendations, won’t be “adversely impacted” by the update.

Post-level demotion will roll out this week, according to Facebook, and page-level demotion will roll out over the course of the next few weeks. In the interim, you can report engagement bait posts using the Report tool.

Source: Facebook

A New Approach to Better Branch Security

One of the most common network security solutions is the branch firewall. Branch firewall appliances can pack into a single device a wide range of security capabilities including a stateful or next-generation firewall, anti-virus, URL filtering, and IDS/IPS.

But the reality is that most of these edge devices lack the processing power to apply the full scope of capabilities on all of the necessary traffic.

If the firewall deployed in the branch cannot scale to address critical security needs, an alternative strategy must be used. Wholesale appliance upgrades are easy but expensive. Regional security hubs are complex and also costly.

A new approach, called firewall bursting, leverages cloud scalability to offer an easier, more cost-effective alternative to branch office security. (You can find a great table comparing the different Firewall approaches here.)

Costly Appliance Upgrades and Secure Hub Architectures

The existing methods of evolving branch security force IT into a tough trade-off: the cost and complexity of managing appliance sprawl or the complexities of a two-tier network security architecture.

Upgrading all branch firewalls to high-performance, next-generation branch firewalls improve network security, no doubt. Branch offices gain more in-depth packet inspection and more protections to be applied on more traffic. This is a relatively straightforward, but very costly, solution to achieving stronger security.

Aside from the obvious, the firewall upgrade cost, there are also the costs of operating and maintaining the appliance, which includes forced upgrades. Sizing branch firewall appliances correctly can be tricky.

The appliance needs enough power to support the mix of security services across all traffic—encrypted and unencrypted—for the next three to five years.

Alone that would be complex, but the constantly growing traffic volumes only complicate that forecast. And encrypted traffic, which has become the new norm of virtually all Internet traffic, is not only growing but must be first decrypted, exacting a heavy processing toll on the appliance.

All of which means that IT ends up either paying more than necessary to accommodate growth or under provision and risk compromising the company’s security posture.

Regional hubs avoid the problems with upgrading all branch firewalls. Instead, organizations continue with their branch routers and firewalls, but backhaul all traffic to a larger firewall with public Internet access, typically hosted in a regional co-location hub.

The regional hub enables IT to maintain minimal branch security capabilities while benefitting from advanced security.

However, regional hubs bring their own problems. Deployment costs increase as regional hubs must be built out at significant hosting expense and equipment cost. And we’re not just speaking about throwing up an appliance in some low-grade hosting facility.

Hub outages impact not just one small office but the entire region. They need to be highly available, resilient, run the up-to-date software, and maintained by expert staff.

Even then, there are still the same problems of forced upgrades due to increased traffic volume and encrypted traffic share, this time, though, of only the hub firewall appliances.

The network architecture is also made far more complex, particularly for global organizations. Not only must they rollout multiple regional hubs, but multiple hubs must be deployed in geographically dispersed regions or those regions with a high concentration of branches.

In short, while the number of firewall instances can be reduced, regional hubs introduce a level of complexity and cost often too excessive for many organizations.

Firewall Bursting: Stretching your Firewalls to the Cloud

Cloud computing offers a new way to solve the edge firewall dilemma. With “cloud bursting,” enterprises seamlessly extend physical data center capacity to a cloud datacenter when traffic spikes or they exhaust resources of their physical datacenter.

Firewall bursting does something similar to under-capacity, branch firewalls. Edge security processing is minimized where firewall capacity is constrained, and advanced security is applied in the cloud, where resources are scalable and elastic.

The on-premise firewall handles basic packet forwarding, but anything requiring “heavy lifting,” such as decryption, anti-malware or IPS, is sent to the cloud. This avoids forced branch firewall upgrades.

Firewall bursting is similar to the regional hub approach, but with a key difference: the IT team isn’t responsible for building and running the hubs. Hubs are created, scaled, and maintained by the cloud service provider.

Who Delivers Firewall Bursting Capabilities?

Secure web gateways (SWGs) delivered as cloud services, can provide firewall bursting for Internet traffic. However, since firewalls need to apply the same inspection to WAN traffic, SWGs only offer a partial solution.

Purpose-built, global Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) is another option. FWaaS providers, such as Cato Networks, create a global network of Points of Presence (PoPs), providing a full network security stack specifically built for cloud scalability.

While the PoPs are distributed, they act “together” as a single logical firewall instance. The PoPs are highly redundant and resilient, and in case of outages, processing capacity seamlessly shifts inside or across PoPs, so firewall services are always available.

The PoPs are capable of processing very large volumes of WAN and Internet traffic. Because adding processing capacity either within PoPs or by adding new PoPs is transparent to customers, you don’t have to adjust policies or reconfigure your environment to accommodate changes in load or traffic mix.


With firewall bursting customers can keep their current edge firewalls and still improve security. If you are running out of gas on your edge firewalls, you have options.

Beyond the obvious approaches of firewall upgrades and hub-and-branches set up, new innovations like FWaaS are now available.

FWaaS leverages cloud elasticity and scalability to globally extend network security with minimal impact on current network design.

Firewall refresh, capacity upgrades, mergers and acquisition, all represent a great opportunity to look at firewall bursting and FWaaS to evolve your network security beyond the edge.

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Samsung Galaxy S9 Design Shown Off in Samsung’s Soundcamp App

As we inch closer to the Samsung Galaxy S9’s unveiling, we’re starting to see details about the upcoming flagship leak in earnest. We already know that it’ll be an iterative improvement over its predecessor; that it’ll be available in black, gold, blue and purple colors; and that it probably won’t have an in-display fingerprint sensor. And this week, a new slip from Samsung might have revealed the Galaxy S9’s design.

It comes from an unlikely source: The Play Store and Samsung Galaxy App Store listings for Soundcamp, a first-party Samsung application that lets you compose, edit, and share music by playing pre-loaded instruments or downloading third-party music apps. Newly updated Soundcamp screenshots show an unannounced Samsung smartphone that shares characteristics in common with the Galaxy S9’s rumored design, and line up with other published renders of the Galaxy S9.

Galaxy s9

It’s impossible to judge the screenshots’ veracity without a corroborating source, but we might not have to wait much longer. The Galaxy S9 will reportedly be revealed a day before Mobile World Congress on February 27, according to Bloomberg. Initial rumblings suggested it would make an appearance at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but they’ve since been debunked.

It’s important to keep in mind, of course, that leaks and rumors come from third-party sources and should always be taken with a grain of salt. (Even well-sourced leakers have gotten things wrong in the past.) Nothing is for certain until there’s an official announcement.

Thanks to XDA Senior Member ThunderCrackR for the tip!

Amazon’s latest Echos show the smart home space hitting its stride

Amazon’s Echo lineup got a refresh earlier this year that included a brand new version of its basic Echo, well as an Echo Plus with integrated smart home hub, and the stalwart Echo Dot – unchanged, but still a compelling device at its price point.

The new lineup of devices also made its way to more markets this year, including an expansion to Canada just this month, which is why I now have a host of Echo hardware kitting out my apartment. The major accomplishment of this refresh, I think, is that it feels less like a new generation of gadget, and more like a coming of age for a modern-day appliance – a whole new category of must-have home furnishings.

Amazon clearly wants to encourage this impression – the new Amazon Echo comes in a host of fabric-covered finishes, and it’s hard to imagine the upholstery look’s connection to furnishings is unintentional. Part of it is about fitting into the decor so that these smart speakers can stand free and clear and unhidden on shelves, tables and surfaces without offending any sensibilities. But it’s also about turning a gadget into something far more approachable, and far more mainstream.

As far as I’m concerned, Amazon has accomplished its task. The Echo (and Echo Plus, and Echo Dot), have all become as key a home device as a light switch, or a couch, or a microwave. The latest generation just firms up that presence with needed improvements in key areas, including in sound reproduction (the new Echo is better than its predecessor, for sure, and the Echo Plus seems to sound a bit better as well despite having apparently similar hardware).

I now use the Echos around the house to control my Hue lights (I don’t remember the last time I flicked a switch), turn on and control the home theater system, check and change the temperature using my Nest thermostat, check news and weather and set kitchen timers. It’s second-nature at this point, and doing the same things, the old, manual way feels hopelessly backwards – even if the actual convenience difference is arguably trivial.

Aspects of the new Echo lineup are questionable, like the integrated smart home hub in the Echo Plus which only supports one of the two major standards for wireless connected home devices. But they don’t detract from the experience – and the ultimate impression that Echo is a home companion that’s destined to become more and more a default option that people live with as reliably as they do their coffee table, or at least their dishwasher.

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Open Garden wants to give you tokens for sharing your internet connection

Open Garden launched its mesh networking platform at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2012. Since then, the company has gone through a few iterations and found unexpected success in its Firechat offline messaging service. Now, it’s ready for the next step in its evolution. The company now wants to make it easier for anybody with an Android phone to share their Wi-Fi connections with anyone who is nearby. And to incentivize people to do so, the company plans to launch its own Ethereum token (called OG…) in early 2018.

The company bills this as the launch of a “decentralized Internet Service Provider (ISP).” You still need a regular ISP to become an Open Garden ISP, so I admit that the whole concept doesn’t quite seem right to me. Unsurprisingly, Open Garden CEO Paul Hainsworth (who took over from the company’s founded CEO in early 2016) doesn’t see it that way. “The concept of a decentralized ISP is entirely new,” he told me. “The traditional, centralized ISP is a one-to-many relationship between provider and customer. A decentralized ISP is the combination of millions of individual people, companies and products creating a new kind of network. These millions of people sharing their internet are ISPs, tiny or large, and in aggregate they form a decentralized ISP.”

The argument here is that most people only use a small amount of their broadband connection’s bandwidth cap. So why not share this access with others and earn some OG in the process? While Open Garden argues that this is a totally new concept, the likes of Fon and others have long enabled WiFi sharing without the need for Ethereum tokens and mesh networks. Most have done so with mixed success, likely because few people actually want to share their internet access.

A decentralized network like this can also only work if enough people participate. Open Garden is trying to jumpstart this process by using its FireChat app to bootstrap this process. The company says its messaging service has over 5 million registered users and they will form the basis for seeding this network. Over time, Open Garden also plans to add apps for iOS, Mac, Windows and set-top streaming boxes. “Project Open Garden, our open source project, will enable developers to build OG into their own apps and hardware solutions,” the company argues. “OG can be used by existing WiFi infrastructure owners – such as municipal WiFi, shopping malls, stadiums, airports, restaurants, and small businesses – to monetize their existing capital investment.”

And why use tokens (besides, I assume, that this is obviously a hip thing to do right now)? “Our intent is to enable regular consumers to buy internet access without having to understand anything about crypto, blockchains or anything technical,” Hainsworth told me. He also argues that tokens are a good way to incentivize growth. “By issuing our own token, instead of just using Bitcoin or Ethereum, we can give away a very large percentage of the total tokens (or coins) in our economy to participants,” he noted. “We do this to incentivize network growth, user acquisition and retention. Incentives work at an individual level. Early adopters can earn additional bonus OG for being first to market, for example.”

So if all the incentive you ever needed to share your internet connection with random strangers was a bit of Ethereum OG, then your dreams have come true. The Open Garden app is now available for download in the Google Play store.

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Microsoft Launches Skype Insider Program, Tests New UI and “SuperComposer”

It’s been six years since Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion, and some longtime users haven’t been pleased with the platform’s treatment. Its move from a peer-to-peer service model to centralized servers was a major point of controversy, and another was a redesign that introduced a Snapchat Stories-like mode called “Highlights”. But the situation’s improved as Microsoft has turned its attention to fixing bugs and optimizing code. Just recently, it announced the launch of the Skype Insider early access program, and this week saw the release of the first Skype beta for Android.

The Skype Insider program, much like the Windows Insider program on Windows 10, gives Skype enthusiasts an opportunity to try out early versions of Skype mobile and desktop clients. They’re less stable than publically available releases, but that’s somewhat intentional — one of the program’s goals is to generate feedback the dev team can use to squash bugs.

The first Skype beta release for Android features a new user interface a feature called “SuperComposer”.

skype insider skype insider

“In Skype version 8.13 for iPhone, we launched a new design that brings back a bottom bar to streamline navigation and simplify access to Skype’s core features,” the Skype development team wrote in a blog post. “The majority of Android users expressed [a] preference for the version with a bottom bar. Based on this interest, we decided to run with this approach and created an experimental version of Skype for Android.”

Microsoft says it adheres to Google’s Material Design guidelines and brings back a contextual FAB for quick access to key actions. There’s an updated header and search icon, too, and the aforementioned SuperComposer, which appears when you tap the compose button in the main chats list. It invokes a screen that includes your recent contact list and easy access to actions such as New Group, Search Bots, Add Contact, Invite to Skype, and Make a Call.

The new Skype beta is rolling out to all users in the Skype Insider program. You can learn more about it here.

Source: Microsoft


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