Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Google is testing dark mode on its desktop Search results

Google is succumbing to the trend that facebook has done and is testing a dark theme for desktop Search. It’s pretty much what you’d expect: the white background has been replaced with a dark gray hue, while Google’s colorful logo has been replaced by white lettering. The look matches the dark mode version of Google’s search app on mobile, which has been available since May 2020. Notably the dark mode isn’t enabled on the homepage, but would likely change when the feature goes live. Dark mode on Google’s desktop search currently appears to be available to only a small number of users. (9to5Google)


Flamethrower drone incinerates wasp nests in China

A drone has been converted into a flying flamethrower in central China in a fiery campaign to eradicate more than 100 wasp nests. Blue Sky Rescue, a volunteer group that conducts search and rescue and other emergency work, have teamed up with villagers in Zhong county near the city of Chongqing. They raised 80,000 yuan ($12,200) to buy a drone and equip it with a gasoline tank and an arm-length nozzle. Videos show a recent mission by the six-arm drone hovering above a hive as large as a suitcase before swooping down. The drone operator flips the ignition switch, and the drone spits bursts of fire onto the hive. The burning ashes of the wasp’s nest gradually peeled off and fell, and the surrounding residents applauded and praised the rescue team. Blue Sky said it has destroyed 11 hives so far, but there are more than 100 to go. (


An Instagram star who used makeup and editing to make her face look like a “Zombie Angelina Jolie” was sentenced to a decade in an Iranian prison

The 19-year-old young woman, who goes by the stage name Sahar Tabar, gained nearly 500,000 followers after posting images of her eerily gaunt face. Her lawyer confirmed his client was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being charged with corruption of young people and disrespect for the Islamic Republic. She was also charged with blasphemy and inciting violence when she was arrested in October 2019 along with three other Instagram influencers, but she was cleared of those charges. Her attorney tried to get her released in April after she caught COVID-19 in jail. Medical records showed she had a mental illness, with a history of visits to psychiatric hospitals, making her lengthy sentence less understandable. Her legal team even appealed to Jolie, asking the actress and humanitarian activist to help her. (The New York Post)


As long as the pizza shows up, it doesn’t matter who brings it

A police officer in Murrieta, California literally went the extra mile to help his community. After taking a pizza delivery driver into custody, the officer decided that the customers shouldn’t suffer because of someone else’s crime. The Murrieta Police Department posted the story to its Facebook page, revealing that an officer pulled over a driver for a traffic violation, only to discover that the man had an outstanding warrant. The officer also learned that the man was working and on his way to deliver a pizza to a nearby home. While the officer handled the arrest, another law enforcement officer took over the pizza delivery. The whole incident may have worked out better than expected for the people who ordered the pizza. Though delivery drivers traditionally expect to be tipped, the Murrieta Police Department wrote on Facebook, “The smile on the hungry citizen’s face was all the ‘tip’ needed to know we are doing our job.” (Murrieta, California Police Department Facebook)


Scotland gives fleet of snowplows hilarious names

The Scottish Government operates a website that shows the live locations of its road salt trucks, which may not sound particularly exciting, but each has been giving a humorous name. Spready Mercury, Gritney Spears, Gritty Gritty Bang Bang and Han Snow-lo are just a few of the dozens of trucks that will be in operation through the spring. Many of the trucks have their names displayed on the side, like Gritallica, True Gritter, and Sprinklebell. (The Herald)


Amazon-owned Zoox unveiled its secretive self-driving robotaxi, which is geared toward ride-hailing in cities

The electric and fully driver-less vehicle has no driver’s seat or steering wheel and can carry up to four passengers who face each other, similar to a train carriage. The car can operate up to 16 hours on a single charge and travel up to 75 mph, which Zoox claims is the fastest of its kind. The vehicle has bidirectional driving capabilities and four-wheel steering, meaning it can drive both forward and backward without reversing, and side to side. Amazon acquired Zoox back in June. The six-year-old startup, which has remained a standalone business, has been testing prototypes of the self-driving vehicle in Las Vegas, Nevada, San Francisco, and Foster City, California. The first vehicles will be used for an autonomous ride-hailing service, though experts have noted that Amazon could one day use them for automated deliveries. Zoox plans to launch a ride-sharing service app sometime in the future, first targeting San Francisco and Las Vegas. (Forbes)


Over 900 drivers paid for another driver’s meals after joining a “pay it forward” drive-through chain at a Dairy Queen in Brainerd, Minnesota

The chain started on December 3rd and lasted for three days, with each driver buying a meal for the following car. The General Manager said that the event led to $10,000 in sales. That was in large part thanks to her writing about the flurry of cars joining the chain on Facebook. Her posts attracted even more drivers, as well as people who donated money over the phone to help keep the chain going. Those funds were used for gift cards to help some cash-strapped drivers pay for big orders from the car behind them. “There would be times where people ordered a $5 Blizzard and the car behind them would be a full family getting, you know, a $30 or $40 order,” she said. (Today)


Man receives probation for tricking women into changing diapers, New Orleans judge rules

A New Orleans judge sentenced the man who admitted to tricking women into changing his diapers by feigning disabilities to five years of probation, according to court records. The man must also maintain employment, undergo internet addiction counseling, stay off social media, and complete 400 hours of community service after pleading guilty. The guilty plea puts an end to a strange criminal saga that came to light in November 2019, when Louisiana State Police arrested the man for convincing a series of women to change his diapers. He had posed on babysitting apps as the brother of a man with mental and physical disabilities. He convinced the women to treat his brother, in actuality the man himself, as if he were a child. At a court hearing after his arrest, two women spoke of their sense of betrayal when they found out that he did not suffer from the disabilities he claimed. His lawyers said he did suffer from mental health and substance abuse problems while describing his actions as a response to childhood sexual trauma. After a November 2019 hearing where the man was set to plead guilty ended in disarray, he remained locked up until April, when his lawyers successfully argued that his bail should be reduced to an amount he could afford due to the threat posed by COVID-19 to incarcerated people. The man pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamines, possession of drug paraphernalia and four counts of human trafficking. (NOLA)


Amazon debuted Live Translation, an Alexa feature that translates conversations into different languages

Amazon announced that Echo device owners can translate between English and Spanish, French, Portuguese, Hindi, German, or Italian. To enable the feature, owners of Echo devices issue a command such as “Alexa, translate Spanish.” A beep will let users know they can speak in either English or Spanish. Alexa will then detect each language and translate each part of the conversation. To end the translations, users say, “Alexa, stop.” Echo Show device owners can also view the translations on screen. To develop Live Translation, Amazon tapped its own speech recognition and neural machine translation technologies. More people are using their smart speakers for such tasks, according to an NPR/Edison Research study. During 2020, voice assistant owners have requested 10.8 different tasks per week, on average, compared to 9.4 tasks in 2019. (Venture Beat)


Camel spotted shopping at Bath & Body Works with owner in Nevada

A camel was spotted at a Bath & Body Works in Henderson, Nevada, just south of Las Vegas recently with its owner, video footage shows. The video was captured by a woman who was passing by while she was shopping next to the Bath & Body Works, captured the strange sight on video. The owner can be seen leading the animal by a leash into the store. The camel casually strolls in as staff and fellow shoppers appear to clear a path. Others out on the street can be seen with their phones out capturing the unusual spectacle on video. (USA Today Twitter)


Wisconsin Department of Health warns against eating the ‘cannibal sandwich,’ a traditional holiday dish in the state

Wisconsin residents are being urged by health officials to pass on eating a traditional holiday dish this year to avoid getting sick. A “cannibal sandwich,” considered a holiday favorite in the state, consists of raw ground beef on bread with sliced onions, salt and pepper. But, “eating raw meat is NEVER recommended because of the bacteria it can contain,” the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) said in a tweet. The Wisconsin Department of Health, which said it issues this reminder annually, elaborated by saying “Many Wisconsin families consider them to be a holiday tradition, but eating them poses a threat for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter and Listeria bacteria that can make you sick.” (Wisconsin Department of Health Services Facebook)


Man climbs on wing of Alaska Airlines plane departing Las Vegas airport, takes off shoes and socks

Police have arrested a man who managed to climb the wing of a departing Alaska Airlines plane at Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport recently. Passengers watched inside Alaska Airlines flight 1367 from Las Vegas to Portland when they saw the man climbing onboard the wing, sitting down and eventually taking off his shoes and socks during his estimated 45-minute stint. According to a statement from Alaska Airlines, the flight “was preparing for take-off when the pilot noticed an individual advancing towards the aircraft. The pilots notified the tower. Law enforcement was dispatched and [was] able to apprehend the individual.” Police arrested the 41-year old man who moved about the wing for nearly 45 minutes before he fell onto the tarmac. Video shows the man walking to the very edge of the wing, taking off his shoes and socks for traction, sliding off the wing and falling roughly to the tarmac. He was apprehended immediately by police, the video shows. The man was treated for minor injuries at University Medical Center and booked into the Clark County Jail for trespassing and disregard for public safety, police said, adding that “the investigation is ongoing”. (ABC News)


Man arrested after accidentally showing police video of huge cannabis farm

A suspected drug dealer has been arrested after he managed to accidentally show police a video of a huge cannabis farm while trying to access Google Translate on his phone. Officers stopped a suspicious grey Mercedes and noticed a strong smell of cannabis. They did not find anything after searching the vehicle, but the problems did not end there for the two men in the car. One of the suspects opened up his phone to use Google Translate to speak to the officers and instead a video of a cannabis farm flashed up on the screen. The pair were arrested on suspicion of production of a Class B drug. Police later discovered a significant cannabis farm at a property where more than 600 cannabis plants were found covering three floors. The farm was shut down and the drugs seized. (Sky News)


Wednesday Climbs Over With:

  • Barbie and Barney Backlash Day
  • Chocolate-covered Anything Day
  • Zionism Day

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