Tech Gift Ideas to Help Tackle Your Holiday Shopping List | Tech Buzz

Today is Cyber Monday, which doesn’t mean as much this year because the related sales have been going on for much of November as retailers try to milk every available dollar they can. However, like you, I’m doing a lot of shopping, both for others (yes, I’m going to cheat and mostly give Amazon gift cards but some gifts) and myself.

Since this entire column is about products, I’ll skip the product of the week and focus on what I think are some of the best deals or products that stand out as game changers in their segment — and aren’t too expensive.

I was tempted to have a car section focused on electrics. Still, after watching this Audi E-Tron review, I’m reminded that all but the Tesla are Generation 1 cars, and the Tesla’s fit and finish are so bad I suggest waiting until the Gen-2 cars come out,

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UK urges tech companies to help tackle excessive e-waste in damning report

Much of that waste is incinerated or goes to landfill, while around 40 percent is sent to other countries, often illegally. “In the countries that receive our electronic waste, it is often dumped, with toxic chemicals leaching into the environment and harming people,” the EAC wrote.

The report notes online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay aren’t always considered retailers or producers. Many products are sold by third-party retailers — around 50 percent of goods in Amazon’s case. As such, those platforms aren’t obligated to contribute to the collection and recycling of e-waste. The committee urged them to “collect products and pay for their recycling to create a level playing field with physical retailers and producers that are not selling on their platforms.”

The EAC slammed the notion of intentionally shortened device lifespans, too. While that practice might encourage consumers to buy newer products, it has a negative impact on sustainability. 

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New modified wheat could help tackle global food shortage — ScienceDaily

Researchers at the University of York have created a new modified wheat variety that increases grain production by up to 12%.

Wheat is one of the most important food crops in the world, providing 20% of human calories; with ever increasing global food demand, increasing crop yield is critically important.

Wheat breeders work hard to increase yield to meet global demand, but since the ‘green revolution’ of the 1960s, the rate of yield increase has been slowing and is currently less than 1% per year.

Most improvements have been made by breeding varieties that produce higher numbers of grain, but it should also be possible to increase yield by producing plants with bigger grains. When this has been achieved, however, it is accompanied by a decrease in grain numbers.

Researchers at the University of York have now resolved this issue by directly modifying the growth of the young developing grain

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Decoding gigantic insect genome could help tackle devastating locust crises — ScienceDaily

A ‘game changing’ study deciphering the genetic material of the desert locust by researchers at the University of Leicester, could help combat the crop-ravaging behaviour of the notorious insect pest which currently exacerbates a hunger crisis across many developing countries.

It is hoped that the study will provide the basis for developing ‘intelligent pesticides’, that act with surgical precision by tapping into locust-specific signals in the nervous system, to either kill or disable their swarming behaviour, without harming other organisms.

The full set of genetic information for the desert locust could have major international implications for countries such as East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and South-West Asia, which this year have been suffering the most devastating desert locust crises in decades despite wide-spread control operations that are still ongoing.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), a swarm of locusts can contain around 40 million insects per square kilometre,

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Tech start-ups tackle mountain of food waste

The waste of a third of the world’s food, as the world’s population pushes towards 10bn by 2050, is spurring a search for solutions. While the ultimate answers may lie with business leaders and politicians, a growing number of start-ups think that technology can help too.

Among them is British company RoboScientific, which last year won an annual agricultural technology competition run by Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket chain.

Despite this up-to-the-minute accolade, RoboScientific’s sensor technology has ancient roots. “Back in the middle ages, doctors used to smell disease on people by smelling their breath and poo,” says lead scientist Stan Curtis. “Believe it or not, it basically works.”

The start-up has developed a device that functions like a robotic nose, sniffing out changes in the volatile organic compounds — essentially scent molecules — emitted by crops and livestock, and sending alerts when these indicate spoilage or disease. Equipped with

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Earmarks Grants Worth Nearly $800M To Tackle Climate Change


  • The list of grantees is a mix of labs, NGOs, climate activist groups
  • Amazon employees have called on the company to tackle climate change
  • Amazon’s Climate Pledge is to be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2025

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has committed to giving grants worth $791 million to 16 organizations that work towards protecting the environment, as part of his Bezos Earth Fund.

In an Instagram post on Monday, Bezos said he is inspired by these organizations’ efforts to save the environment and wants to help them scale. This is part of the Amazon founder’s $10 billion pledge to promote scientists, NGOs and organizations invested in climate change.

“I have spent the past several months learning from a group of incredibly smart people who have made it their life’s work to fight climate change and its impact on communities around the world,” Bezos’ Instagram post read.

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Tiny golden bullets could help tackle asbestos-related cancers — ScienceDaily

Gold nanotubes — tiny hollow cylinders one thousandth the width of a human hair — could be used to treat mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, according to a team of researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Leeds.

In a study published today in journal Small, the researchers demonstrate that once inside the cancer cells, the nanotubes absorb light, causing them to heat up, thereby killing the cells.

More than 2,600 people are diagnosed in the UK each year with mesothelioma, a malignant form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Although the use of asbestos is outlawed in the UK now, the country has the world’s highest levels of mesothelioma because it imported vast amounts of asbestos in the post-war years. The global usage of asbestos remains high, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, which means mesothelioma will become a global problem.


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Hong Kong needs tougher laws to tackle wildlife crime say researchers

With its busy port and transport links, Hong Kong is a major transit point for illegal parts of endangered animals like elephant
With its busy port and transport links, Hong Kong is a major transit point for illegal parts of endangered animals like elephants

Hong Kong is thriving as a transnational wildlife smuggling hub because its laws are not strong enough to tackle organised crime running the lucrative trade, researchers said Friday.

With its busy port and transport links, the semi-autonomous territory is a major transit point for illegal parts of endangered animals like elephants, rhinos and pangolins—most of it headed for consumers in mainland China.

Record seizures have been made in recent years.

But Hong Kong University researchers said the confiscations mask the lack of progress, noting: “No wildlife traffickers have ever been prosecuted for money laundering related offences and no syndicates indicted for wildlife smuggling.”

The two year study, authored by Amanda Whitfort, a professor at the law faculty, and Fiona Woodhouse, from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty

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