October 23, 2018 · Cloud Computing, Hosting News, Web Hosting · Comments Off on Amazon.com, Qualcomm to put Alexa assistant in more headphones

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Microchip firm Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) is joining Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) to spread the use of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in wireless headphones, the companies said on Monday.

Prompts on how to use Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant are seen in an Amazon ‘experience centre’ in Vallejo, California, U.S., May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Under the deal, Qualcomm will release a set of chips that any maker of Bluetooth headphones can use to embed Alexa directly into the device. When the headphones are paired to a phone with the Alexa app on it, users will be able to talk to the voice assistant by tapping a button on the headphones.

The functionality would be similar to Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) AirPods wireless earbuds, which enable users can tap the devices to talk to Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.

Amazon and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google, whose voice assistants have most often been found in their respective smart speakers for the home, are rushing to partner with headphone makers.

Models from Bose Corp and Jabra feature Alexa built in, and Sony Corp (6758.T) said earlier this year that a software update will make some of its headphone models work with Alexa. Google Assistant can be used on headphones from Bose, JBL and Sony, along with Google’s own Pixel Buds.

The Qualcomm partnership could expand that lineup. Qualcomm has developed a pre-made circuit that headphone makers can drop into their device to imbue it with Alexa.

“This radically reduces their [engineering] cost and time to market,” Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager of voice and music for Qualcomm, told Reuters in an interview. “It makes it simple for the industry to adopt this.”

Murray declined to comment on whether Qualcomm would make a similar offering for Google Assistant but said the chip firm plans to support other partners in the future.

The move is part of a broader push by Qualcomm to diversify away from its dependence on processor and modem chips for mobile phones. That business proved lucrative for Qualcomm, but its patent licensing model drew regulatory fines and lawsuits from customers such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

At a conference in Hong Kong slated for early Tuesday local time, Qualcomm also said it is working with action camera maker GoPro Inc (GPRO.O) to put more Qualcomm chips for image processing in the devices. The firm has said it expects about $5 billion in revenue from non-mobile sources this year, or more than 20 percent of the $22.4 billion in sales that analysts expect.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Dan Grebler

October 21, 2018 · Cloud Computing, Hosting News, Web Hosting · Comments Off on According To Decades Of Science These Are The 5 Ways To Fall Asleep And Beat Insomnia

We live in an always-on world; hyperconnected, overloaded with information, and addicted to our screens, especially the smartphone soulmates that are constantly begging for our attention. We can joke about the many aberrant behaviors this causes, such as walking headlong in doors, walls and each other, but where this behavior takes its greatest toll is on our sleep

According to sleep.org, “71 percent of people sleep either holding their smartphone, having it in bed with them, or having it on their nightstand.”

In a study, I and my coauthor, Dan Keldsen, did for The Gen Z Effect, we found that 10% of people, across all age groups, actually sleep with their smartphone in their bed or on the pillow next to them. While we didn’t ask to verify, it’s safe to assume these people are all single–or they soon will be!

But smartphones are just one of the culprits robbing us of a good nights sleep. 

Neuroscientist Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, has been studying sleep for decades. Even going so far as to use sophisticated MRI techniques to peer into our dreams.

According to Walker, “The silent sleep loss epidemic is one of the greatest public health challenges we face in the 21st century,”  

Other research supports Walker’s claims. A well cited 2002 study actually associated poor sleep patterns with increased mortality.  An Inc article I wrote quoted studies that even went so far as to attribute Alzheimer’s and dementia, in part, to poor sleep.

It would seem that however you look at it, sleep is a major factor in determining your health and well being as well as your overall quality of life and longevity.

So, what can you do to ensure that you get the best sleep? According to Walker, there are five basic things to consider:

1) Regularity of Sleep

Set a schedule for your sleep and don’t vary from it. This means going to sleep at the same time but also getting up at the same time. In fact, you should get up at a set time even if you feel that you are not fully rested. In my own experience I’ve found that the biggest changes to my sleep patterns have occurred when I’ve changed a set activity in my life that would otherwise require I get up a the same time every day. So, go to bed at a set time and, whatever your quality of sleep, don’t vary from the wake time.

2) Stay Cool

Keep your bedroom temperature cool. Your body requires at least a 2 degree drop in its core temp in order to signal sleep. 65-68 Fahrenheit or about 18 Celsius is optimal. A great hack to help with this is an intelligent thermostat that allows you to set it so that the temp drop just after you get under the covers and goes back on just before. 

3) Lights Out

Dim the lights in your home at least one hour prior to sleep and keep your bedroom dark. Our bodies are tuned to the day/night cycle as one of the most important factors in producing melatonin, the neurochemical which triggers sleep.

It’s especially important to stay away from LED screens that emit blue light, which puts the brakes on melatonin. Even if you’re not using a computer screen, flat panel LED TVs can be just as bad. The alternative? Read a paper book. You still remember what those are, right?

4) It’s A Bed, Not A Recliner

This means that you shouldn’t use your bed to do things that keep you awake. Ok, well, let’s eliminate the other obvious use case. But with that exception, your bed is just for sleeping, not watching TV, checking email, or catching up on the 247 Facebook posts you missed during the day.  Unfortunately, using a bed to do all of the above have become such a cultural phenomenon that one of the hottest bedroom innovations is adjustable position beds, which are best described as a mashup of a La-Z-boy and hospital bed.

The same applies if you wake up from a sound sleep and can’t go back to sleep–do not stay in bed, says Walker. Get up and go to another room and take that paperback with you. If you don’t want to get out of a cozy warm bed in the middle of the night, Walker suggests trying meditation to calm your brain. I used to do this with my kids when they were little and couldn’t fall asleep. It worked so well that I was usually out before they were.

5) Stay Away From Alcohol And Caffeine 

Yeah, this is the most popular one–“Night cap anyone?” Alcohol may seem to help you get to sleep, but it does not promote deep sleep. It sedates you and blocks REM or dream sleep, the most important part of the sleep cycle. Caffeine, although a stimulant, also inhibits deep sleep. So, even if you’re like me and don’t feel you’re bothered by a coffee after dinner, the sleep you get will leave you feeling groggy in the morning. Spurring a few cups of coffee to get you started, and that only creates a vicious cycle. 

All of this may seem like pretty simple stuff but it takes discipline to be your own enforcer of these habits. My suggestion is to set aside a week during which you make a concerted effort to try these five habits. See how it feels, how you feel. 

The benefits are clear and they are many. As Walker tells it, “There does not seem to be one major organ within the body, or process within the brain, that isn’t optimally enhanced by sleep (and detrimentally impaired when we don’t get enough). That we receive such a bounty of health benefits each night should not be surprising.” 

Oh, and if, after all of this, you still have trouble sleeping, well, maybe you shouldn’t be reading this column on your smartphone while propped up in your well lit bedroom, reclining leisurely in a Tempurpedic adjustable position bed.   

Sleep well.