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Google Search adds tools that make it easier to find a doctor
by Paul Hill
Google has announced several changes to Search that will make it easier to find doctors who speak your language and who will tend to you based on your insurance plan. The company said 75% of people refer to Google for health information so it hopes these changes will make people’s search results even more relevant.
The first change will benefit older Search users; Google has made it possible now to further filter results to include health providers who accept Medicare. For those outside the United States, Medicare is a plan which is used mainly by those over 65.
In addition to Medicare filtering, Google has made it possible for providers to list the languages that are spoken at their offices. So far, Google supports adding over 12 languages, and among those are Spanish and American Sign Language. While English is the main language in the United States, Spanish holds an important place in many states too, including California and Texas, having more than 25% of their populations able to speak Spanish.
Finally, Google said that it’s conducting checks with local doctors to ensure their information on Google is all up to date. Doctors can claim and update their Google Business Profile with important information such as opening hours, services, and more. Google’s outreach to health professionals will ensure the latter know how important Google is in gaining new customers.
COVID-19 causes further delay for Googlers' return to work
by Paul Hill
CNBC has reported that Google’s employees (Googlers) will not return to offices as planned on January 10. The firm updated its staff in an email on Thursday. Google’s security VP, Chris Rackow, said that the company would now wait until the new year to reassess when it will ask people to start returning to work in the U.S. but, he said, it won’t bring people back until it can offer a “stable, long-term working environment.”
The decision by Google was released following news that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had been detected in several countries around the world, including the United States. Medical professionals are still trying to determine how infectious and how deadly the new variant is. Due to a large number of mutations in this variant, it’s not certain how effective existing vaccines are either so it’s probably a good idea on the part of Google to hold off on bringing employees back to work.
Despite delaying the return to work order, Google is encouraging people to come into the office, where conditions allow, so they can reconnect with their colleagues and regain “the muscle memory of being in the office more regularly”. Rather than taking a centralized approach, the firm is also allowing locations to decide their timelines for coming back to work based on the risk level in different localities.
Rackow told employees in the email that 90% of the company’s U.S. offices have been reopened and that in recent weeks, 40% of employees came in. The firm expects things to start getting back to normal over 2022.
Samsung launches persistent AR with Dreamground at two locations in the U.S.
by Paul Hill
Attempting to unlock possibilities with augmented reality, Samsung has announced the launch of a new app called Dreamground for Android and iOS which can be used at Hollywood Park in Los Angeles or Samsung’s experiential store, Samsung 837, in New York City.
Through the app, users can see a new layer on top of the physical world where they can see creations other people have made, they can also create things for others to see too. The elements in the Dreamground can be viewed by other users for up to 24 hours before disappearing and clearing room for other people to come along and get creating.
As an exclusive for Galaxy 5G device owners on Verizon, there will be Galaxy 5G Portals that stream 4K, 360 video and ultra-high fidelity AR. This exclusive, Samsung says, is to show off the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G. Aside from these portals and other people’s creations, Samsung urges users to look out for Bubbloonland, Fluttering Forest, and Crystal Galaxy.
The launch of Dreamground is quite limited at the moment as it’s just available in two locations but as time passes it’s easy to see how Samsung could expand this AR layer to other venues around the world, especially at concerts and sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics. Time will tell whether the Korean firm decides to expand the use of Dreamground or whether it’ll receive a quiet retirement.
Your HP printer may need a firmware update to save it from a "Critical" buffer overflow bug
by Sayan Sen
A person who we think is a lady with her HP printer in happier times. HP has confirmed that a large number of its printer models are vulnerable to a new "Critical" buffer overflow bug with a CVSS score of 9.3. This vulnerability has been given the ID "CVE-2021-39238", and HP describes it as following:
A buffer overflow or buffer overrun happens when the memory buffer is overwhelmed with more data that it is capable of handling. This can lead to malfunctioning and system crashes. However, it can also lead to attackers and threat actors exploiting the vulnerability to gain access to systems.
Fortunately, though, HP has already issued a firmware update for all potentially vulnerable devices that it discovered. Here's how you can obtain the patched updated firmware for your device:
If you are wondering whether your printer is also vulnerable, head over to this official security bulletin page where HP has provided a helpful table showing all the vulnerable models alongside their patched firmware versions. Click on the "Affected products" dropdown to view this table.
By Karthik Mudaliar
The United States government adds more Chinese firms to its trade blacklist
by Karthik Mudaliar
The United States Government is adding a bunch more Chinese firms to its trade blacklist. The firms have been added to the US Entity List for their alleged assistance in the Chinese military's quantum computing efforts like counter-stealth and counter-submarine applications, and the ability to break encryption or develop unbreakable encryption.
The ban is part of the trade war between the US and China that first started in 2019 when the US Department of Commerce put Huawei and 70 of its affiliates to the Entity List that bars anyone on it from purchasing parts and components from US companies without government approval. The eight tech firms that are now blacklisted have either acquired or attempted to acquire US-origin items to support Chinese military applications.
According to Reuters, the US Commerce Department also added several entities and individual from China and Pakistan for contributing to Pakistan's nuclear activities and ballistic missile program. In addition to China and Pakistan, a total of 27 new entities were added to the blacklist from Japan and Singapore as well.
The Chinese firms that are now blacklisted include Hangzhou Zhongke Microelectronics Co Ltd, Hunan Goke Microelectronics, New H3C Semiconductor Technologies Co Ltd, Xi'an Aerospace Huaxun Technology and Yunchip Microelectronics among others for their support of the military modernization of the People's Liberation Army. The list also includes Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale, QuantumCTek and Shanghai QuantumCTeck Co Ltd.