Tag Archives: brings

Gmail brings back limit that could force you to use WhatsApp instead

Google has been offering all Gmail users the option to make video calls to friends and family via Google Meet for hours on end without being cut off mid-sentence. This unlimited video calling was originally designed for those who subscribe to Google Workspace which is only available to businesses and schools in the UK. But with millions of us forced into lockdown last year, the US tech giant showed its generosity and opened this video calling tool to anyone with a free Gmail account.

It was a very welcomed change as most video services, such as Zoom, placed limits on the amount of time that users could talk without paying for the privilege. Sadly, Google is now joining these rival platforms with the company bringing back the 60-minute limit.

As the US firm explains, “At 55 minutes, everyone gets a notification that the call is about to end. To extend the call, the host can upgrade their Google account. Otherwise, the call will end at 60 minutes.”

Google has confirmed the change won’t affect those making calls with one other person, but anyone joining a group call, with three more friends, will find the limit is now enforced.

It’s also worth noting that, right now, UK users can’t actually sign up to Google’s Individual Workspace option as this $ 9.99 subscription, which unlocks unlimited calls and a load of other benefits, is only available in the United States, Canada, and a few other nations.

READ MORE: Virgin Media and BT eclipsed by hyperfast broadband at price that’s hard to believe

Apple is also about to bring a swathe of new features to its calling app including Noise Isolation so everyone can hear voices loud and clear along with a Portrait Mode that adds a blur behind your face so you stand out more on calls – it also means friends can’t snoop on every book title on your bookcase.

Also included in this iOS 15 update is the ability to schedule a call for a set time with contacts then reminded so they join at the right time. FaceTime is also coming to Android so you won’t need an iPhone to use it.

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This post originally posted here Daily Express :: Tech

Smite’s Mid-Season Update Brings Stranger Things, Two New Maps, and More

The Smite mid-season update featuring the Stranger Things Battle Pass is available now on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S!

Enter the Upside Down with the all-new Smite x “Stranger Things” crossover which pairs four fan-favorite characters from “Stranger Things” with a powerful Smite god, Eleven Scylla, Hopper Apollo, The Mind Flayer Sylvanus, and The Demogorgon Bakasura.

Instantly unlock Hopper Apollo by purchasing the Battle Pass, or buy the Battle Pass Plus to unlock everything up to The Demogorgon Bakasura. Every Smite player earns rewards just for playing Smite. Begin leveling your Battle Pass on day one and unlock free rewards like the Demogorgon Avatar. That’s not all! After completing the Premium Track, unlock the Prestige Track featuring 60 extra levels of goodies and a special ’80s mall-themed Starcourt Eleven Scylla!

This epic crossover doesn’t stop there! “Stranger Things’” trademark Upside Down has seeped into the classic Arena Map. As you roam around the map, you’ll notice the updated skybox – now a dark, gloomy sky with The Mind Flayer looming over the battleground. You’ll also find fun “Stranger Things” callbacks like Christmas lights on the walls. Be sure to take a closer look to see if you can find any secret messages.

To celebrate this release, all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members will get the Smite x Stranger Things Starter Pass free as an Xbox Game Pass Perk (don’t forget to claim it). You’ll unlock all four gods (Scylla, Bakasura, Apollo, and Sylvanus) featured in the Stranger Things Battle Pass, their voice packs, 3000 Battle Pass Points, and a deal of the day token which unlocks a daily deal bundle of your choice. Purchase the Battle Pass to unlock the Stranger Things Skins for your newly unlocked gods.

The mid-season update also includes the Ocean’s Fury conquest map update, significant balance changes to gods and Items like the removal of boots, and the Court of Midnight event featuring Morgan Le Fay’s first skin, Crimson Magus. I hope you all log in to claim your Smite x Stranger Things Starter Pass, and check out all the incredible content. Our team has worked so hard on the mid-season update and I can’t wait for you to try everything! See you in the battleground.

SMITE x Stranger Things Plus Bundle

Hi-Rez Studios

The heroes and monsters of Netflix’s Stranger Things join the Battleground of the Gods in an all-new Battle Pass.

This crossover features four fan-favorite characters as Skins for community-loved Gods: Eleven Scylla, The Demogorgon Bakasura, Hopper Apollo, and The Mind Flayer Sylvanus.

The Stranger Things Plus Bundle is the best way to get started. Instantly unlock Hopper Apollo, The Demogorgon Bakasura, and all rewards up to level 25. Plus: you’ll get all four Gods featured in the pass, and their Voice Packs!

This bundle includes:
– Stranger Things Battle Pass Plus – instantly unlock Hopper Apollo and The Demogorgon Bakasura
– Scylla, Bakasura, Apollo, Sylvanus and their Voice Packs

STRANGER THINGS /© Netflix. Used with permission.


Hi-Rez Studios

Xbox One X Enhanced
Enter the Battleground of the Gods

Join 35+ million players in SMITE, the world’s most popular action multiplayer online battle arena. Become a legend of myth, enter the Battleground of the Gods, and play FREE now!

100+ Gods
Unleash each deity’s unique strategies, legendary weapons, and earth-shattering powers. Rain lightning down upon your foes as Zeus, assassinate from the shadows as Loki, or transform and trick your foes as the Monkey King, Sun Wukong. Which God will you choose?

Unique Perspective
Unlike other MOBAs, SMITE puts you directly onto the battlefield with a third-person action viewpoint. From blind-side ambushes to aimed shots, a new pantheon of strategic possibilities awaits.

Become Godlike
Never played a battle arena before? Don’t worry. Auto-buy, auto-level, and the deathmatch-like Arena mode let you jump right into divine MOBA action. Aspiring pro? Top the ladders, join a competitive team, and you too could be playing at the SMITE World Championship.

© 2012 – 2021 Hi-Rez Studios, Inc. “SMITE”, “Battleground of the Gods”, “Titan Forge Games”, and “Hi-Rez Studios” are trademarks or registered trademarks of Hi-Rez Studios, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All trademarks and copyright material are property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

STRANGER THINGS /© Netflix. Used with permission.

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This post originally posted here Xbox Wire

WayForward Brings RWBY: Arrowfell To Nintendo Switch In 2022

The new Arc System Works’ published RWBY game (originally announced last September) has been officially revealed as RWBY: Arrowfell. This side-scrolling 2D adventure will be developed by the Shantae, River City Girls and Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp developer WayForward in conjunction with Rooster Teeth.

It’s been confirmed for the Nintendo Switch, can be played alone with friends (local and online), includes all four characters of Team RWBY, broadcast quality cutscenes and is expected to arrive in 2022. In addition to a digital release, there’ll also be a physical release on select platforms. Here’s a bit the backstory the RBWY series, including information about Arrowfell, along with a teaser trailer:

In a world filled with horrific monsters bent on death and destruction, humanity’s hope lies with powerful Huntsmen and Huntresses. Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long are four such Huntresses in training whose journeys will take them far past the grounds of their school, Beacon Academy. Though each may be powerful on their own, these four girls must overcome dark forces and work as a team if they truly hope to become the next generation of Remnant’s protectors.

Occurring during the events of RWBY Volume 7, RWBY: Arrowfell is an original interactive chapter straight from RWBY writers Kerry Shawcross, Miles Luna, and Eddy Rivas. Players will take control of Team RWBY — Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long — and switch between them on the fly in solo or multiplayer action (local or online) as they use their trademark weapons and semblances to stop a mysterious new threat in this side-scrolling, 2D adventure.

As players explore Atlas, Mantle, and numerous surrounding environments, they will face off against the Creatures of Grimm and other enemies straight from the show, as well as never-before-seen threats. The team also crosses paths with familiar faces including General Ironwood and the Ace Operatives, plus a fearless new group of Huntresses known as Team BRIR.

In addition to voiceovers from the original cast (including Lindsay Jones as Ruby, Kara Eberle as Weiss, Arryn Zech as Blake, and Barbara Dunkleman as Yang), RWBY: Arrowfell features an original score by Dale North with vocal contributions by Casey Lee Williams. Furthermore, the game contains seven minutes of exclusively created broadcast-quality animated cutscenes, as well as a dynamic new hand-drawn art style for the in-game visuals that allows fans to experience the world of RWBY like never before.

Earlier this year in May, RWBY: Grimm Eclipse – Definitive Edition was released on the Switch. You can learn more about this game in our previous post.

What do you think of this upcoming RWBY release? Leave a comment down below.

Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline Expansion Brings Two Legends to London

Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline is out now on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, adding a new adventure set before the events of the main game. And where Watch Dogs: Legion lets you recruit anyone you see in its open world, Bloodline zeroes in on two characters with a whole lot of tricks up their sleeves: Aiden Pearce, the first game’s vigilante protagonist; and Wrench, Watch Dogs 2’s masked trickster.

While you’ll play as both Aiden and Wrench over the course of the adventure, they aren’t precisely on friendly terms. When Aiden visits London to steal a robot-controlling device from Broca Tech, Wrench intervenes and makes off with the tech — but not before incapacitating Aiden and leaving him for Broca’s goons. Thomas Rempart, CEO and owner of the aforementioned tech, gives Aiden an ultimatum: If he doesn’t hunt down Wrench and recover the device, bad things are going to happen to his nephew.

In addition to the main storyline, each operative has their own side activities to pursue when you’re in control of them – and with the Season Pass, both can be added to your DedSec roster in the main campaign or Online mode. And since Aiden and Wrench need to rely on their own skills in Bloodline, each comes equipped with a variety of unique new abilities and gear to tackle any situation.

Aiden brings back System Crash, a callback to the first game that lets you temporarily disable all nearby electronics. As Aiden, you can also aim in slow motion after taking down an enemy, or get a damage buff after a well-timed reload from a special prompt. And when you’re playing as Wrench, you can summon his custom drone, Sergei, or stun enemies by tossing out his Ninja Ball mini-flashbangs. Wrench also carries a great big hammer named Lady Smash, and can unleash havoc with his custom-skinned MPX SMG and LTL grenade launcher.

The hunt is on, and two of Watch Dogs’ most seasoned vigilante hackers are ready to match wits across London under the shadow of one of Watch Dogs: Legion’s most sinister corporations. What happened before the struggle for the city’s soul began in earnest? Grab Bloodline and find out.

Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline


Aiden Pearce is back!
Included in the Season Pass, discover Bloodline, the unique story expansion that brings Aiden and Wrench back in Watch Dogs.

Aiden Pearce arrives in London to take over a contract, and this time he’s teaming up with Wrench in a new storyline set before the events of the main game.
He’s caught between a powerful military robotics corporation, and a returning DedSec member with an opposing agenda.
With no real allies, Aiden must rely on his grit and experience to navigate a hostile city, try to outmaneuver his enemies and keep his family intact.

Bloodline available to purchase separately. Requires the Base Game.

Watch Dogs®: Legion


Xbox One X Enhanced
Build a resistance made from anyone in the world to take back a near-future London that is facing its downfall. Recipient of over 65 E3 awards and nominations.

Recruit and play as anyone from London. Everyone you see has a unique backstory, personality, and skill set for unique situations.
Hack armed drones, deploy spider-bots, and take down enemies using an Augmented Reality Cloak.
Explore a massive urban open world featuring London’s many iconic landmarks and fun side activities.
Team up with your friends to complete new four-player co-op missions and PvP matches in the new online mode.
Upgrade to the Gold Edition or Ultimate Edition for access to the season pass and more!

Author: Mikel Reparaz, Editor, Ubisoft
Read more here >>> Xbox Wire

Grounded Brings a Not-So-Itsy Spider and More Shrooms to the Backyard

Today, the Grounded team is happy to bring the biggest update to the game yet with the Shroom and Doom update. For those who didn’t see the reveal trailer during the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, this addition to the backyard brings in brand new features, community requested features, and the game’s first boss.

First up, the Shroom part of the update. While mushrooms have been around the yard since the beginning, players are now able to harvest mushrooms for their mushroom bits and, using the new grinder and oven, turn them into mushroom bricks to allow them to build their own castle-like fortifications.

Of course, to get the recipes for the grinder and oven, the correct BURG.L chip is needed, so players should prepare themselves to enter the newly opened (and still in progress) haze lab. Though adventurers be warned: a new ranged variant of the TAYZ.T, the ARC.R roam the lab ready to attack would be intruders.

That’s not the only enemy waiting to confront players in the backyard. Those who joined the backyard last year when Grounded first went into Game Preview will remember the Broodmother who was waiting for those brave enough to scale the branches in the hedge. That encounter didn’t meet the team’s expectations for what a boss means in Grounded, so the Broodmother went into diapause. But now with a new lair and a terrifying new look inspired by the real-life demon orb weaver spider, the Broodmother has once again returned and is ready for all challengers.

Those brave enough to take on the Broodmother will find a multi-phased boss fight that is not to be taken lightly. She is the most challenging creature in the backyard so far and it is highly recommended that players bring along friends to take her down. Those who do defeat her can get items to craft a special new item, so gear up, make sure mutations are equipped, and good luck!

That’s not all! The Shroom and Doom update is packed with new building items. To name a few, there is the new roof made of crow feathers, curved doors, half walls, half curved walls, and pillars! There is even ability to flip certain structures like the spiral staircase, the acorn railing, and the triangle walls. The base building possibilities are getting even stronger.

The Grounded team isn’t done there, though. Throughout the Game Preview process, the team has been listening to community feedback and working on bringing in some highly requested community features into the game. With this update, the team is proud to announce that three of those features are about to see the light of day!

First up are pets! One of the most requested features in the game, players will now get to try out the first phase of the pet system by taming their own pet aphid or weevil. They can even give it a name of their own and feel all the worse when something bad happens to it in the backyard. Second is the ability to take a breather and sit. No really, people really have wanted to be able to sit and the team is giving it to them. And finally, achievements! Those who want to work on increasing their gamer score (and bragging rights) can now do so with the first pass of achievements.

The Grounded team is always happy to take all the great feedback the community has given to make the game even better as they build out the game more and more prior to the 1.0 release. To learn more details about these features and the many more additions to the backyard with this update, check out the Grounded Developer Vlog on the Obsidian YouTube Channel.

Grounded is available now on Xbox Game Preview and Xbox Game Pass.

Author: Mikey Dowling, Director of Communications, Obsidian Entertainment
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Long-Haul COVID Brings Long Road to Recovery

Thoughts of getting sick were the furthest thing from Paul Garner’s mind when symptoms of COVID-19 upended his life. “It knocked me sideways,” says Garner, a public health doctor specializing in infectious diseases. He says he never dreamed he would become a high-profile COVID-19 case documenting his struggle for a medical journal and talking about it on television.

Garner assumed he would probably feel ill for a few weeks and then recover. But 8 weeks later, he still felt like he’d been hit with a bat, with aches and pains, twitching muscles, a racing heart, and diarrhea. “It was like being in hell,” he says.


He started chronicling his painful illness from COVID in a series of blog posts for the BMJ. In one of his posts, he shared how mortified he was that he might have infected the staff at his workplace of more than 20 years. “I imagined their vulnerable relatives dying and never forgiving myself. My mind was a mess,” he wrote.

Garner couldn’t do most of the things he used to enjoy, and he cut back his work hours at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom. In the first 6 months of his illness, he wrestled with cycles of feeling better, doing too much, and then crashing again. He found the illness difficult to manage. He tried everything: Using his smartwatch to track his activities, measuring the time he slept, checking whether the foods he ate affected the sudden worsening of symptoms, but nothing worked.

The cyclical illness morphed into weeks of exhaustion when Garner couldn’t even read and had a hard time speaking. At 7 months, he wondered if he would ever recover. “I thought the virus had caused a biomedical change in my body and crippled my metabolism somehow,” he says. “I felt insecure and fearful of the future.”

The change came when someone in his professional network who had recovered from chronic fatigue syndrome offered help. “I learned about how the brain and the body’s stress response to infection can sometimes get disordered,” he explains, “and the symptoms I was experiencing were actually false fatigue alarms.

“These explanations that made sense, along with sensitive coaching to change my beliefs about my illness, really helped.”

He realized there was probably no physical damage to his tissues, so he needed to stop constantly monitoring his symptoms, find diversions when he felt unwell, and look forward to his recovery and getting his life back.

COVID took Garner to the brink and dangled him over a precipice of terrifying unknowns, but he’s found his equilibrium again. “There is life post-COVID. People find their own paths, but they get better. There is hope,” he says.

Life After COVID

Garner is not alone in his coronavirus journey. At least 33 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, and some still have symptoms more than 4 weeks later, according to the CDC.

A preprint study of half a million people in the U.K., where Garner lives, reports that 1 in 20 people with COVID-19 are dealing with persistent symptoms. Roughly 6% of the people in the study — which has not yet been peer-reviewed — said their recovery was delayed by at least one symptom that persisted for 12 weeks or more.

Breathlessness and fatigue are among the most common issues reported after COVID-19. Even people who do not have any symptoms when they are first infected can feel unwell after the fact.

Congress is providing $ 1.15 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund research into symptoms that persist after COVID-19.

“Given the number of individuals of all ages who have been or will be infected, the public health impact could be profound,” NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, said in a statement when the funding was announced in February. “Our hearts go out to individuals and families who have not only gone through the difficult experience of acute COVID-19, but now find themselves still struggling with lingering and debilitating symptoms.”

A wide range of physical and mental health consequences are related to long-haul COVID-19, according to the CDC, and people are reporting different combinations of many symptoms.

Possible Symptoms After COVID Infection

• Tiredness or fatigue

• A hard time thinking or concentrating

• Headache

• Loss of smell or taste

• Dizziness on standing

• Fast-beating or pounding heart

• Chest pain

• A hard time breathing or shortness of breath

• Coughing

• Joint or muscle pain

• Depression or anxiety

• Fever

• Worsening of symptoms after physical or mental activities

Although most people infected with COVID-19 are never hospitalized, many have life-threatening symptoms and traumatic events without any health care support.

COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities of color, and it stands to reason that will be the case for post-COVID conditions as well, says Sabrina Assoumou, MD, of the Boston University School of Medicine.

It will be crucial to address health care disparities as post-COVID cases mount. Diversification of the workforce will be vital, she explains, because diagnoses can depend on how well a doctor listens to patients describe their symptoms.

The persistent symptoms can be vague, Assoumou says, and some people who never received a diagnosis, for whatever reason, are now having post-COVID effects.

“Long COVID will force us to go back to the basics, like really listening,” she says. “We’re definitely going to need to be more empathetic.”

Why Is This Happening?

Scientists are studying the many people who continue to have symptoms or develop new ones after infection. They are looking for the cause of prolonged illness, trying to understand why some people are more vulnerable to long COVID than others, and assessing whether COVID-19 triggers changes in the body that increase the risk for other conditions, such as heart or brain disorders.

The best defense is to get vaccinated and not get COVID-19, according to the CDC. But when people report illness that persists, doctors are being asked to consider measures of well-being beyond objective lab findings and to focus treatment on specific symptoms.

COVID rehabilitation clinics are opening at medical centers across the United States. But will efforts to help be obstructed by the lack of a clear explanation for symptoms that won’t go away? And will people feel disbelieved by a health system that’s not ready to address something it cannot really measure?

Early indications suggest this is the case, according to Greg Vanichkachorn, MD, a family doctor and founder of the COVID-19 Activity Rehabilitation Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“If there’s one universal truth amongst all the patients I’ve interviewed, it’s that they’re often brushed aside, pigeonholed, or, frankly, abandoned,” he says.

Some experts believe doctors should screen patients for mental health symptoms after the initial phase of COVID and offer early and ongoing care.

Early mental health help with therapy could play “an important role,” says Mauricio Castaldelli-Maia, MD, of the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

“It’s important we acknowledge the symptoms are real, imagined, or the result of stress,” Garner says. “And too much rumination on the illness and constant searching for a biomedical cause can be detrimental.


“Fear that I would not recover was a huge barrier to dealing with the symptoms. Conversations with others about their symptoms also simply reminds you of them and can reinforce an identity as a sick person. Just let go. Find good things in life — positive thoughts really helped me — but it takes time, there can be setbacks. It is not easy.”

Garner says he found his way forward by listening to others who had recovered.

“I couldn’t do this alone,” he says. “I had lots of friends, people who had recovered from fatigue syndromes and viral infections and help from professional colleagues.”

Garner dusted off his bicycle and started cycling around his favorite parks in Liverpool. And now, he’s running again and is leaving COVID behind.

Author: Allison Shelley
This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News

Prestigious award brings international attention to Crosby High band

CROSBY, Texas (KTRK) — While the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many of us apart, a spirit of togetherness is helping one high school band capture worldwide attention in northeast Harris County.

Just before the world changed, Crosby High School was on a mission to plant their flag into the rich soil of academic concert band history.

“They are so smart, creative and resilient,” said Kevin Knight, Crosby ISD’s director of bands. “I am very proud of these amazing, dedicated, hard-working band students.”

After winning local, state and national championships in recent years, the band set its sights on capturing an international prize, the Sudler Flag of Honor, recognizing outstanding and consistent musical excellence.

In December 2019, the band lovingly known as the Big Red Machine learned it had won the prestigious award. Then the pandemic hit, delaying delivery of their prized banner.

With victory on their side, others might have decided to rest on their laurels, especially as schools were suddenly left to figure out classes in the face of the coronavirus, but the band played on.

“Participation is really important,” said senior clarinet player Karli Sarria. “This year was a real eye-opener to how much participation affects our capability to make music.”

As the pandemic raged last December, the band rallied the community by playing a show outdoors, “Christmas in the Park(ing Lot),” where the National Band Association named Crosby’s band as a program of excellence.

“The band really taught me the importance of things,” flute player and graduate Alyssa Fergerson said. “Everything is not about winning, but it’s more so about having fun and forming a bond with one another.”

In May, the John Philip Sousa Foundation presented the Sudler Flag to Crosby ISD during the band’s Spring Concert.

Finally at home, the flag will be displayed in the band hall starting this school year, a testament to the spirit of the Big Red Machine.

Since its inception 40 years ago, the Sudler Flag has been awarded only 83 times to high schools around the world.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Author: KTRK

This post originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed