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Google Maps just got a feature every navigation app should steal

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Google Maps Accessibility

  • A new Google Maps accessibility feature called Accessible Places will be available to users in Australia, Japan, UK, and the US.
  • The feature will display a wheelchair icon on the map to indicate that a place supports wheelchair access.
  • Google Maps listings will also offer information about accessible seating, restrooms, and parking, with users and business owners encouraged to update information for the places they visit or own.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

To celebrate the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Google announced new accessibility features for its products, including a new Google Maps feature that all navigation maps out there should copy. That’s support for wheelchair accessible places that will help people better plan trips to new places by knowing in advance whether the location supports wheelchair access.

If you require support for anything that has wheels to access a building, not just wheelchairs, you can access the new feature inside the app by looking for Accessible Places under the Accessibility menu in the app’s Settings tab, as seen in the animation below. Once enabled, the information will be displayed more prominently in Google Maps via a wheelchair icon.

Google Maps Accessible Places feature: How to enable it.

The feature will indicate accessible entrances, seating, restrooms, and parking, crucial information that wheelchair users need before planning a trip to a new location. Google Maps will also indicate if it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance. Such information is even more critical during the current health crisis when people are advised to go outside only when absolutely necessary. Wheelchair users, as well as parents pushing strollers or pulling heavy equipment, should know whether they’re able to access a place before arriving at their destination.

Google Maps will initially support more than 15 million places around the world, a figure that doubled since 2017 thanks to 120 million Local Guides and other people who shared this sort of information. In total, more than 500 million wheelchair accessibility updates were made to Google Maps.

But for the feature to get even better, it’s up to business owners to update their listings with accessibility information about wheelchair access, something that Google encourages store owners to do. Google says that it’s rolling out an update to allow iPhone users to more easily contribute accessibility information to Maps. Google has a guide on how to update locations with accessibility data at this link. The following animation shows how Google Maps users can add accessibility info about places on an Android phone:

Google Maps Accessible Places feature: How to update information.

The Accessible Places will roll out for Google Maps users in Australia, Japan, UK, and the US initially, with other markets to follow in the future. The following video gives us a short demo of the accessibility feature in action:





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Biden steps up his clean-energy plan, in a nod to climate activists

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Joe Biden has raised the ambitions of his climate plan, in a clear sign his campaign is responding to demands for greater action among the progressive flank of his party.

In a speech on Tuesday, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president announced proposals to spend $2 trillion on clean-energy projects and eliminate carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035, stepping up his primary targets in an effort to revive the economy and combat climate change.

Biden also trumpeted plans to retrofit millions of homes and buildings to make them more energy efficient; create a Civilian Climate Corps that would put people to work on environmental restoration projects; install 500,000 charging outlets for electric vehicles; establish a cash-for-clunkers program to replace gas-guzzling cars and trucks with hybrids and EVs; and spark a “second great railroad revolution.”

The plan on Biden’s campaign page specifies that it would implement an “energy efficiency and clean electricity standard” to achieve the 2035 power sector goal, a policy instrument that requires utilities and grid operators to gradually reduce the share of electricity coming from carbon-emitting sources. It’s a technology-neutral standard, meaning it could allow for generation from solar, wind, geothermal, or nuclear sources, or even fossil-fuel plants with effective carbon capture systems.

Tuesday’s news comes on the heels of Biden’s “Build Back Better” announcement last week, in which he committed to spend $400 billion to boost US manufacturing and $300 billion in research and development funds for electric vehicles, artificial intelligence, and other areas.

The new plan is far more aggressive than Biden’s earlier campaign proposal. It called for  investing $1.7 trillion into clean energy and achieving “net zero” emissions across the economy by 2050. The earlier plan had no specific timeline for cleaning up the electricity sector, beyond a mention of unspecified 2025 “milestone targets.”

The raised ambitions follow a set of climate policy recommendations issued earlier this month by a “unity task force,” created this spring with Biden’s primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. It had recommended the 2035 power sector target, among other goals.

But even Biden’s new targets still fall short of the demands of many climate activists as well as the goals of Sanders’s original plans, which included $16 trillion in clean-energy spending, all-renewable electricity generation by 2030, and an immediate ban on fracking, a drilling method used for natural-gas and oil extraction.

Biden’s sprawling climate plan had already called for new fuel economy standards, support for advanced biofuels, climate adaptation projects, and a restored commitment to the Paris climate agreement. He also pledged early on to spend $400 billion on clean-energy research over the next 10 years and set up a new agency, ARPA-C, to accelerate research on small modular nuclear reactors, carbon capture, grid-scale energy storage, carbon-free hydrogen, and lower-emissions methods for producing steel, cement, hydrogen, and food.

The campaign said at the time the plan would be paid for by reversing the Trump tax cuts for corporations, ending subsidies for fossil fuels, and introducing additional tax reforms.

Biden’s campaign also previously told the Washington Post he supports setting a price on carbon, either through a tax or a cap-and-trade program, though there’s no specific mention of it in his previous or newest climate plan.

Biden is trying to walk a delicate line, appealing to the progressive voters demanding sweeping climate polices without turning off more conservative working-class voters in key swing states where coal and natural gas are still large contributors to the economy.  He stressed near the start of his speech that the plan will create “good-paying union jobs that will put America to work.”

Laying out an ambitious climate plan is the easy part, however. For any of this to matter, Biden first needs to clinch the election. And then he’d have to win over the next Congress, where Democrats may or may not seize control of the Senate, but where there’s been little appetite historically for such aggressive climate and spending proposals.

Finally, the funding and policies would actually have to achieve their stated goals, and begin rapidly driving down the nation’s emissions.

The trillions in spending coupled with a federal clean-energy standard would certainly help to spur the development of renewables and other clean-energy and climate projects. But the campaign has provided fewer details on the sorts of planning reforms that would be necessary to build a huge number of projects in the next 15 years, given the dragged-out approval process for any major developments in the US. And those hefty R&D investments will need to deliver some real breakthroughs to begin affordably cleaning up the trickier parts of the economy, like agriculture, aviation, steel, and cement.



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Jerry Lawson And The Fairchild Channel F; Father of the Video Game Cartridge

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The video game console is now a home entertainment hub that pulls in all forms of entertainment via an internet connection, but probably for most readers it was first experienced as an offline device that hooked up to the TV and for which new game software had to be bought as cartridges or for later models, discs. Stepping back through the history of gaming is an unbroken line to the 1970s, but which manufacturer had the first machine whose games could be purchased separately from the console? The answer is not that which first comes to mind, and the story behind its creation doesn’t contain the names you are familiar with today.

The Fairchild Channel F never managed to beat its rival, the Atari 2600, in the hearts of American youngsters so its creator Jerry Lawson isn’t a well-known figure mentioned in the same breath as Atari’s Nolan Bushnell or Apple’s two Steves, but without this now-forgotten console the history of gaming would have been considerably different.

The Coin-Op Project That Kicked It Off

The primordial Pong machine. Frmorrison / CC BY-SA 4.0

Jerry Lawson was an engineer from New York who had arrived at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1970 after having worked at various companies in the defense electronics industry. Working as part of their customer engagement effort, he achieved prominence in the company by revolutionising the point of contact with the customer using an RV (yes, a camping vehicle) converted as a demonstration lab for Fairchild products. He was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to be a member of the famous Homebrew Computer Club, cradle of so much of the later microcomputer industry, which put him at the center of a web of contacts covering the games business as it was in the early 1970s.

Though his employer was not involved in gaming, Jerry got his start in that field as a side project. When his friend Allan Alcorn installed the first Pong machine in Andy Capp’s Tavern it suffered from customers interfering with its coin mechanism to score free plays, so Jerry produced a game cabinet of his own called Demolition Derby that had a more robust system. This led to Fairchild Semiconductor International offering him the chance to start their new video game division, and the road to the Channel F was laid.

For the First Time, Removable Software

The first home video consoles were one-trick devices that presented either a single game such as Pong or a set of variant games enabled through circuitry. As Al Williams wrote in his article on the 1972 Magnavox Oddyssey, that console had something resembling a game cartridge, but instead of containing software it rewired the machine’s configuration. Lawson’s innovation was to incorporate the game software and even deliver extra functionality such as RAM into the cartridge, allowing a near-infinite variety of games to be programmed. With this he created what would lead to the entire business model of console gaming, as well as sowing the seeds of the computer games development and publishing industry.

The Fairchild Channel F console
The Fairchild Channel F console. Evan-Amos (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Channel F was launched in November 1976, nearly a year before Atari’s VCS console. Its Fairchild F8 microprocessor, low resolution color graphics, and 2K RAM were outclassed by its rival despite its far superior joysticks, and its lack of the Atari’s much larger software catalog saw it steadily lose ground into the 1980s despite a hardware revamp. Surprisingly it continued production until 1983, by which time it must have appeared an anachronism when compared to the crop of 8-bit microcomputers.

Lawson had by 1980 left Fairchild to found Videosoft, a company producing Atari software, and the chipmaker would not release any follow-up to the console. After Videosoft he became a consulting engineer and moved away from the limelight. Having suffered ill-health due to diabetes, Jerry passed away in April 2011.

There are many names from the annals of computing history who roll off the tongue. People such as Jobs and Wozniak, Bushnell, Dabney, Sinclair, Miyamoto, or Miner. We should also add Jerry Lawson to that list, as his vision to make one console and sell multiple games, done inexpensively with the use of the PCB edge connector, set the standard for decades to come.



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Why You Should Remove Xiaomi’s Default MIUI Cleaner App?

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Two weeks ago, India banned 59 Chinese apps, citing that they “pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country.” The list includes some of the most downloaded Android and iOS apps such as TikTok, UC Browser, ShareIT, and the app that concerns Xiaomi users — Clean Master by Cheetah Mobile.

The Indian government said Clean Master and other Chinese apps have been “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”

Clean Master, as the name suggests, is a cleaner app that promises to clear the junk files on the device and boost performance. Although Android cleaners ironically work against the device (more on this below), the bigger problem with Clean Master is that it is owned by Cheetah Mobile. Cheetah Mobile has been under the radar of privacy experts long before India noticed suspicious activity around its apps. The Chinese company has previously been caught in ad fraud and user data theft.

While CleanMaster has been removed from the Google Play Store and App Store in India, it is still being pushed as a default cleaner app in Xiaomi, one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in India.

How to remove Xiaomi’s MIUI Cleaner app?

All Xiaomi and Redmi devices come with a cleaner app pre-installed known as MIUI Cleaner app. If you go into the app settings, you will notice that the app uses the Clean Master definition. Apart from that, the app brings up “Cheetah Mobile” a number of times in its privacy policy.

Unfortunately, Xiaomi doesn’t allow users to uninstall or even disable several default apps (also known as Bloatware), and one of them is MIUI Cleaner app. But here is a workaround to remove MIUI Cleaner app —

Prerequisite:
A Windows PC
USB cable to connect the device to the PC
USB debugging turned on the Xiaomi device

  • Connect your Xiaomi device to PC using the USB cable
  • Allow the USB debugging prompt on your device
    USB debugging Android Prompt
  • Download and extract ADB tools
  • Go to the extracted folder. Right-Click and choose “Open PowerShell Window here”
    How to use ADB tools
  • Type in the command “adb devices” and hit Enter
    ADB tools for deleting android apps
  • You will now see a number and “device” under the list of devices attached
  • Type in the command “adb shell,” press enter, then type, “pm uninstall –k —user 0 com.miui.cleanmaster” and hit Enter.
  • Remove the USB cable and restart your Xiaomi device

And that’s it, this process will remove MIUI Cleaner app. It is a universal process to remove pre-installed apps on any Android device. In other words, you can follow the same method if you have a Realme, Oppo, or any other Chinese smartphone.

Previously, Mi browser was accused of collecting data from users. You can use this method to remove the Mi browser or any default apps. What you need is the app’s package name and insert it in the “pm uninstall –k —user 0 <app package>” command. Use App Inspector to find out the exact name of the app.

Alternatives to Xiaomi MIUI Clearer

Over the years, Android has become extremely efficient in handling apps and background services. It intelligently allocates resources to apps and pauses apps that are not being used frequently. Most cleaner apps offer a performance boost which is simply force-quitting all background apps. While it may give a performance jump, it can create problems with Android’s way of doing things.

The only useful feature of a cleaner app is allowing users to delete unwanted apps and data under one roof. However, in return, it may collect user data. That being said, if you still want a cleaner app, you can start with SDMaid which does a pretty good job and keeps your data secure. Alternatively, you can also choose from our best cleaner apps list.

The post Why You Should Remove Xiaomi’s Default MIUI Cleaner App? appeared first on Fossbytes.



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