Facebook teams up with state health departments to share more vaccine information – CNET

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Shelby Brown/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Facebook is working with state health departments to connect people with vaccination and eligibility information. In a blog post Monday, the social media site said that between January and March, over 3 million people in the US clicked through COVID-19related promotions and the information center, which redirects them to state health websites and local providers.

Once a state opens COVID-19 vaccines to the general public, Facebook says it will show a notification for state residents that connects them with their state health department or Facebook's Vaccine Finder. So far, these notifications are showing up in Alaska, Mississippi, Texas and Utah. 

"Our strategy to work closely with state governments is critical in order to ensure that our features are directing people to local resources as they are available and not drive demand too soon that would overwhelm systems," Facebook said in the post. 

The social media site previously used this notification tool during the US 2020 presidential election to help people find accurate voter information.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Put a collectors’-edition Ant-Man helmet on your head for $35 (save $65) – CNET

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Look like Paul Rudd (after a fashion) with this official Marvel helmet.

Hasbro, Inc.

Are you into cosplay? Here's a major score for your collection: For a limited time, and while supplies last, GameStop has the Marvel Legends Series Ant-Man Roleplay Premium Collector Movie Electronic Helmet for $35. That's $65 off the regular price and by far the best deal I've seen anywhere. (It's $90 at Amazon.) Shipping is free; it literally hits the threshold to the exact penny.

Aside from looking super-cool, there's nothing particularly special about the helmet except that it's an official Marvel replica -- and has LEDs you can toggle between red and blue.

I really liked the two Ant-Man movies, to say nothing of the superhero's appearance in Captain America: Civil War. That said, I never felt a strong desire to wear an Ant-Man costume -- until now.

I'm thinking I could pair this with a decent suit found on eBay and have myself a pretty solid Halloween costume.

Your thoughts?


CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow him on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for deal texts delivered right to your phone. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest Walmart discount codeseBay couponsSamsung promo codes and even more from hundreds of other online stores. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Answers live on our FAQ page.

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Mars has the blues in stunning NASA image of sand dunes on the red planet – CNET

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This false-color Mars Odyssey image shows cooler temperatures in blue.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Mars is known as the red planet due to its distinctive rusty color. But the red planet is looking very blue in a Mars Odyssey spacecraft image released by NASA last week that shows a scenic landscape of sand dunes. 

The dunes are at the northern polar cap of Mars and the image spans an area 19 miles (30 kilometers) wide. The azure and yellow colors pop out of the image, which NASA titled "Blue Dunes on the Red Planet."

It's not that Mars has been holding its breath. The image is blue so scientists can visualize conditions on the Martian surface. "In this false-color image, areas with cooler temperatures are recorded in bluer tints, while warmer features are depicted in yellows and oranges," NASA said in a statement. The golden-colored dunes had been absorbing heat from the sun.

The image is a combination of views Mars Odyssey snapped from 2002 to 2004. NASA released it recently in honor of the spacecraft's 20th anniversary. NASA calls it "the longest-working Mars spacecraft in history."

Mars rovers like Perseverance and Curiosity are certainly glamorous, but orbiting spacecraft like Mars Odyssey have been doing the hard work of imaging, mapping and studying the red planet for years. The orbiter has helped scientists locate water ice on the red planet and recently has been taking a closer look at Mars' moons.

Odyssey got its name from Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's an fittingly epic name for a long-lived spacecraft.

Follow CNET's 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.      

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Nvidia’s Grace AI chip leaves Intel processors behind – CNET

Nvidia's Grace processor

Nvidia's Grace processor for AI and high-performance computing

Nvidia

Nvidia has a new chip in the works for boosting artificial intelligence and other high-performance computing work: Grace, a design slated to arrive in mammoth supercomputers in 2023. Instead of accelerating conventional Intel-powered servers, though, the design includes its own built-in Arm processors.

Nvidia's current brainiest chip, the A100, is typically yoked to Intel Xeon processors. Nvidia chips do the grunt work, but Intel chips oversee it. With Grace, named after pioneering programmer Grace Hopper, the company opted to embed several Arm Neoverse processor cores within the chip to speed up processing, said Paresh Kharya, an Nvidia senior director. The chip news arrived at Nvidia's GTC 2021 conference this week.

The design illustrates Nvidia's dramatic ascent -- and Intel's struggles. Even decades of dominance in technology don't guarantee success when the rules of computing are constantly being rewritten. Your laptop likely comes with an Intel chip, but an Nvidia chip was more likely responsible for important AI work like filtering spam, improving image quality or recognizing your voice when you call your bank.

Not so many years ago, Nvidia was just a component supplier, a designer of graphics chips called GPUs to boost PC performance. Intel's family of processors, or perhaps compatible rival AMD chips, shouldered most of the computing work. Intel, though, has struggled in recent years to keep pace with chip miniaturization and to capitalize on the exploding use of AI.

The result: Nvidia's market capitalization vaulted over Intel's, reaching $357 billion compared with Intel's $278 billion. Much of the growth has been propelled by the fact that GPUs also turned out to be pretty good at AI work, specifically the computationally intense training process that builds the models that later run in data centers, PCs and phones.

Also in the ascendant is Arm, which licenses the chip designs and technology that power every smartphone, new M1-based Apple Macs and the world's fastest supercomputer. Nvidia is seeking to acquire Arm for $40 billion, a move some rivals like Qualcomm object to. Grace's integrated Arm chips let Nvidia read data from memory many times faster than with current designs, the company said.

Under new Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger, Intel is working to reclaim its manufacturing lead, planning to tap into others' manufacturing abilities while it works on miniaturizing its circuitry inscribing technology.

Nvidia's Selene machine, currently the world's fifth-fastest supercomputer, pairs A100 chips with AMD Epyc CPUs. A 2023 Grace-based machine called Alps at Switzerland's National Supercomputing Center should be seven times faster, Kharya said. The Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US also will buy a Grace-powered supercomputer.

Atlan, Nvida's new automotive chip

One hot area for AI chips is autonomous vehicles, whose self-driving algorithms rely on processing in camera imagery and other sensor data. It's a core focus for Nvidia AI chip work, for example with its Orin chip scheduled to debut in 2022 vehicles.

At GTC, Nvidia announced a new chip called Atlan with quadruple the performance. It should arrive in 2025 vehicles, said Danny Shapiro, Nvidia's senior director of automotive work. Like Orin and Grace, Atlan relies on Arm cores, too.

Nvidia also announced a grander autonomous vehicle technology package called Hyperion 8. It combines two Orin processors with a host of sensors: eight exterior cameras, four exterior wider-angle fisheye cameras, three interior cameras, nine radar scanners and one lidar 3D scanner. The technology should arrive later in 2021.

Nvidia extended a partnership with Volvo, the companies said. Volvo plans to use Orin chips in its next-generation vehicles.

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Airbnb doesn’t want you having July 4th parties – CNET

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Airbnb
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Airbnb on Monday unveiled a new initiative to prevent unauthorized Fourth of July parties and enforce last year's ban on groups of 16 or more people amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

The company's "Summer of Responsible Travel" will bar guests who don't have a history of positive reviews from making one-night reservations during the Fourth of July weekend for entire home listings in the US. The company said people who have already booked their one-night reservation won't be subject to this restriction, but noted that its ban on parties is still in effect.

"We've learned that July 4 is being pegged as the 'reopening' date in the US, which is great for the country as well as for the Airbnb community," the company wrote in a blog post. "We also know that public health and safety experts are still saying mass gatherings should not happen." 

The eight-point plan includes host discounts for noise-detection devices from Minut, as well as enhanced neighborhood and community support. The plan also focuses on pool and fire safety, with a spotlight on west coast residents and travelers and seasonal fire dangers.

Despite the rapid rollout of vaccines, the coronavirus continues to be an issue in the US. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that people still need to avoid large groups, social distance and wear masks. Last month, the agency said vaccinated people can gather in small groups

Read more: Is it safe to travel yet? Current travel guidelines for COVID-19

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Uber reports record gross bookings in March across ride hailing and food delivery – CNET

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Uber is seeing a boom.

Filip Radwanski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

How the month of March for you? Ride-hailing company Uber had a great one. The company announced Monday that it saw record gross bookings last month, which reached the highest monthly level in its nearly 12-year history.

After being hit hard by the pandemic last year and staying afloat largely thanks to its food delivery service Uber Eats, Uber saw an increase in demand for its ride-hailing service as restrictions begin to lift and vaccination rollout picks up. Combined with sustained demand for takeout, the company had very positive news to report in its SEC filing, which comes ahead of its first quarter results announcement next month.

"As vaccination rates increase in the United States, we are observing that consumer demand for Mobility is recovering faster than driver availability, and consumer demand for Delivery continues to exceed courier availability," said the company in the filing.

The 9% month-on-month increase in ride-hailing requests is likely a relief for Uber, which lost billions last year due a shop drop-off in demand in the height of the pandemic. It was the best month the company's ride-hailing segment has experienced since March 2020 when the US and much of the rest of the world first entered lockdown.

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Google Drive, Docs down for some amid partial outage – CNET

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Google Drive was down for some users on Monday.

Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Image

A handful of Google services appeared to experience widespread issues on Monday. Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides were all facing partial service disruptions, according to Google's status dashboard

Issues start to crop up around 5:30 a.m. PT, according to reports on outage monitoring site Down Detector

"We're investigating reports of an issue with Google Drive," Google wrote on its status dashboard at 6:36 a.m. PT. "The affected users are able to access Google Drive, but are seeing error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behavior. Affected user are unable to create new documents."

The phrase "Google Docs" was trending on Twitter on Monday as people turned to the site to report issues and vent about the service being down. 

A spokesperson for Google said the company is continuing to investigate the issue and will provide more information when available. 

See also: The best home office essentials for 2021

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Uber lets customers donate money for rides to COVID-19 vaccination sites – CNET

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Uber is opening the door for customers to help others get rides to vaccine sites.

Angela Lang/CNET

You can now pitch in to help people in underserved communities get rides to COVID-19 vaccination sites. Uber, PayPal and Walgreens launched a Vaccine Access Fund on Monday that lets customers donate money to help people without transportation get to their vaccine appointments. You can donate directly through the Uber or Uber Eats app using a new feature supported by PayPal Giving Fund. 

The companies also say they're donating $11 million to the Vaccine Access Fund and are now "calling on customers to help too." Nearly half of Americans don't have access to public transportation, according to the American Public Transportation Association, making it difficult for them to get to vaccination centers. 

Donations made to the Vaccine Access Fund will be given to and manage by Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a national community development organization. LISC will then work with local nonprofits and partners to arrange free rides for people in the community. 

In December, Uber said it would give 10 million free or discounted rides to people looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

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Apple reportedly facing display supply shortage for upcoming iPad Pro – CNET

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Apple might be facing display supply shortages.

Apple

Apple's much anticipated refresh of its iPad lineup looks like it might be in for a bumpy ride. Production issues affecting the new display technologies designed for the tablet could lead to shortages of the devices as they hit the market, according to Bloomberg.

The company is expected to launch its new iPad Pros any day now, but it might prove tricky to get hold of one of the new devices -- something to keep in mind if you've been waiting to buy an iPad or upgrade when this latest batch of Apple tablets becomes available.

In the larger, 12.9-inch version of its new iPad Pro, Apple is expected to showcase its MiniLED display technology, but has been dealing with poor manufacturing yields, said Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the issue. One MiniLED maker has reportedly been forced to pause production altogether. Apple didn't immediately respond to request for comment.

The MiniLED technology will supposedly improve brightness and contrast ratios, and will be exclusive to 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The smaller, 11-inch model won't feature the new tech, and therefore may be available in greater quantities at first, or even ship sooner than its larger counterpart.

Other improvements we expect to see as part of Apple's first major hardware launch of the year include the addition of the company's M1 chips and Thunderbolt ports, along with improved cameras. There could also be a new iPad Mini with a bigger screen.

See also: iPhone and iPad: 5 ways to declutter, reorganize and refresh your device right now

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My week with Sleep Sensing on Google’s new Nest Hub – CNET

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Chris Monroe/CNET

Google is replacing the original Nest Hub with a newer, more affordable model. It comes with a handful of nice upgrades and one eyebrow-raising feature: Sleep Sensing. (You can read about everything else it can do in our second-gen Nest Hub review.)

No, there's no camera on the new $100 Nest Hub. Google stuck with a camera-free approach to its most affordable smart display. Sleep Sensing is powered by what Google calls Motion Sense, and Motion Sense is powered by Soli, a miniature radar that can detect submillimeter movements. 

Sleep Sensing uses this mini radar along with microphones, temperature sensors and light sensors to analyze your sleeping habits and offer suggestions on how to improve your shut-eye. What's it really like to use every night? Here's how it went for me.

Setup and how it senses

Setting up the Nest Hub's Sleep Sensing feature is quick and intuitive. An on-screen guide shows you where to place the display and includes several short video clips explaining how the sensing works, what it tracks and what sort of sleep recommendations you'll receive from Google Assistant. The complete setup of my smart display took less than 10 minutes, Sleep Sensing calibration included. If you've ever set up a Nest smart home device before, the experience is very much the same. 

In addition to the Soli motion sensor, the new Nest Hub also has light sensors, temperature sensors and three microphones. Those are all put to use while you're asleep to monitor for environmental factors that could be working against you. 

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A banner notification appears to indicate Sleep Sensing is active.

Molly Price/CNET

Once you've completed your first night of sleep, you'll be graded in three categories: duration, schedule and quality. Quality includes not only how much you moved around but also things like respiratory wellness. Motion Sensing can detect your breaths per minute, while microphones pickup coughs and snoring that could point to larger issues. 

Each of these three categories is represented on your display in your morning sleep summary. If you did well in each category, you'll see a three-layered purple circle, indicating that each of the categories came together to provide a good night's sleep. If there was an area that needs improvement, you'll see it as an offset orange circle, indicating that you're not quite in the target zone for something like getting to bed on time or staying asleep long enough. Your goals for schedule and duration are set during that first setup, but can be adjusted at any time.

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What the Nest Hub told me

The Nest Hub can sense when you're in bed. It can also sense whether or not you're actually sleeping. I did a fair amount of reading in bed and even worked from bed on my laptop (shocking, I know) without tricking the Nest Hub into thinking I was napping. 

My husband works a shift that has him falling into bed at 2 a.m. in the middle of my sleep cycle, and we're often joined by a clingy, 60-pound pup. Google notes that people and pets can lead to poor data, but that wasn't my experience, save for a few coughs Google detected that were really my husband's allergy-induced sneezes. 

I never experienced the offset circles that indicate poor sleep. I'm proud to say I stayed within the "good" range of quality, duration and schedule. I was able to see data in that form on the smart display itself, but you can also access it in different charts from the Google Fit app. Here's a screenshot of a few of my results: 

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Screenshots by Molly Price/CNET

While Google partnered with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to build a catalog of tips and recommendations, the Nest Hub doesn't claim to diagnose or pinpoint any specific health conditions, and it isn't certified in any way as a health or medical device. Google's disclaimer on the product site and app reads: 

"Sleep Sensing is not intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, prevent or treat any disease or condition. Consult your healthcare professional for questions about your health."

What my smartwatch told me

I compared my data from the Nest Hub with my Galaxy Watch Active's onboard sleep tracking. I don't mind wearing a watch to sleep, but it's easy to see how someone might prefer the Nest Hub as a totally wearable-free option. 

While my watch can't track light and sound environmental factors or look at my respiratory wellness, it does offer more detail when it comes to how long I was in different types of slumber. Here's a look at my Samsung Health app's sleep tracking data: 

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Sleep tracking in the Samsung Health app offers a dive into the different types of sleep. 

Screenshots by Molly Price/CNET

Both apps were able to tell me when I got in bed and how long I was actually asleep. Across my nights of testing, the biggest discrepancy between my two devices was when the Nest Hub thought I was asleep nine minutes before my watch did. Every other night results were on average two minutes apart. That's pretty good, in my opinion, for a device that sits arm's length away and doesn't require a wearable. 

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My verdict

There are advantages to wearables, that's for certain. I can take my smart watch anywhere. I can track sleep on any surface be it living room couch or beachside hammock. But sleeping with a wearable isn't comfortable for everyone. It's also inconvenient for anyone who wears their watch during the day and wants to charge it overnight. The Nest Hub solves both of those issues. 

Neither watch nor smart display offer exceptionally detailed scientific analysis of your sleep. If you don't want to wear something on your wrist at night, and you don't mind adding a smart display to your nightstand, the Nest Hub does provide a really easy, almost automatic way to get some insight into your sleep habits. 

The bummer here is that Google made it clear Sleep Sensing is only a free preview for now. Sometime next year it will be a paid feature, likely through Google's Fitbit Premium service, but there aren't yet any details available. If you fall in love with Sleep Sensing sans wearable, be prepared to shell out money for it sometime in 2022. 

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