Month: December 2023

GitHub’s AI chatbot is now available to all users globally

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AI-powered developer platform GitHub has made its Copilot Chat feature available for all users globally. Copilot Chat is now available as part of paid tiers and free for verified teachers, students and maintainers of certain open source projects, reports TechCrunch.

GitHub Copilot Chat can suggest best practices, tips, and solutions tailored to specific coding challenges in real time. Pic: Reuters

Year-end Travel: Have ₹1 lakh? Go to Qatar | Travel

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Qatar, the host country of FIFA World Cup 2022, is a peninsular Arab country comprising arid desert and a long Persian Gulf shoreline of beaches and dunes. It’s not just about modern structures and high-rise buildings; about museums and beaches; not only about man-made islands or purpose-built hills. There’s a lot more to this small country where tradition meets innovation and the classical melds beautifully with the contemporary. With a rich history and a futuristic skyline, Qatar has it all – dilapidated and abandoned villages, archaeological sites that give a little peak into the area’s history; inlets; islands; natural mangroves; golden sands; blue-green waters; and a lot more. (Also read | Year-end travel: Have 1 lakh? Head to Mauritius)

With a rich history and a futuristic skyline, Qatar has it all – dilapidated and abandoned villages, archaeological sites that give a little peak into the area’s history; inlets; islands; natural mangroves; golden sands; blue-green waters; and a lot more.(Freepik)

Here is a quick guide to must-see/eat/do in Qatar.

Important Cities: Doha, Al Rayyan, Al Wakrah, Al Khor, Dukhan.

Wrap up the year gone by & gear up for 2024 with HT! Click here

Must-See/Do:

• Souq Waqif

• The Pearl-Qatar

• National Museum of Qatar

• Museum of Islamic Art

• Katara Cultural Village

• Al Zubarah Fort

• Inland Sea (Khor Al Adaid)

• Al Thakhira Mangroves

• Desert Safari

• Dhow Cruise in Doha Bay

• Lusail Winter Wonderland

• Spend an evening at The Corniche

• Go to the Fire Station, a former fire station that is now an art gallery

• Go to Quest, Doha’s first theme park

• Panda House at Al Khor

• Angry Birds World in Doha.

Must-Eat:

• Machboos: Spiced rice with meat

• Harees: Wheat and meat porridge

• Umm Ali: Bread pudding

• Karak: Strong and spiced tea, usually made with black tea, aromatic spices like cardamom

• Saloona: Spicy stew prepared with either meat or vegetables or both

• Qatari Breakfast: Try a traditional Qatari breakfast with items like chebab (pancakes), balaleet (sweet vermicelli with eggs), and hares (savoury porridge)

• Luqaimat: Bite-sized dessert shaped like a ball

• Regag: Arabic version of a crepe

• Balaleet: A sweet and savoury breakfast dish

What to Buy:

Traditional Qatari spices and perfumes, Qatari coffee pots (dallah), traditional clothing (thobe and abaya), souvenirs from Souq Waqif, dates which are a staple in Qatari culture, handcrafted models of traditional Qatari dhows, Oud and Bakhoor, falconry-themed souvenirs

Where to Buy:

Villaggio Mall, Souq Waqif, The Mall Doha, City Center Mall, Katara Cultural Village shops.

All major credit cards are accepted at retail outlets, including museum gift shops, shopping malls and restaurants. Keep cash handy for shopping at Souq Waqif and the traditional markets.

Packages:

2-night Doha package (including flight): Cost: 53,000+. Book on makemytrip.com

4-nights/5 days Doha package (including flight): Cost: 64,000+. Book on makemytrip.com

5-night Desert Safari and West Coast Special (including flight). Cost: 60,000+. Book on makemytrip.com

3-night Doha package (excluding flight). Cost: 20,000+. Book on makemytrip.com

You can also find interesting itineraries on visitqatar.com, the official website of Visit Qatar.

Return Flight (Economy): Mumbai-Doha-Mumbai return flight starts at INR 25,000+ (Vistara)

Visa: Indian passport holders can obtain a visa on arrival.

Good to Know:

Currency: 1 Qatari Riyal = INR 20.00

Language: The official language in Qatar is Arabic, but English is commonly spoken throughout all public places.

Local Transport: Doha has an efficient bus and metro system. There are range of transport options from Hamad International Airport to the city: shuttle buses, the Doha Metro, taxis and ride-hail services, like Uber and Careem.

Taxis in Qatar can be booked in advance for pickups at hotels, restaurants and malls. You can also hail a taxi from across the street. Remember, the fares in the mornings and nights are different.

Wi-Fi: Hotels, restaurants, and cafes offer free Wi-Fi.

Services: Banks and other services remain closed on Friday. Some shops also close for a couple of hours before midday prayers and reopen afterwards, so check opening hours before you head out.

Weekdays/weekend: The first day of the week is Sunday and the weekend is Friday and Saturday.

Security & Safety Tips:

• You’ll need permits for use of drones. Apply at least three to four weeks in advance of your trip. The use of a drone requires not only permits, but a local operator license.

• Ask permission before photographing/filming members of the public.

• Public displays of affection (PDA) are not part of local culture, hence avoid all PDA.

• Some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines may be controlled substances in Qatar. If you need to bring in controlled/prescription medication into Qatar, ensure you carry your official doctor’s prescription, hospital note or a letter from your GP, detailing the drug, the quantity prescribed and dosage.

• There is zero tolerance for drugs-related offences in Qatar. The penalties for the use of, trafficking, smuggling and possession of drugs (even residual amounts) can include lengthy custodial sentences, heavy fines and deportation.

• Qatar law also prohibits the importation, sale and purchase of electronic cigarettes, liquids and other similar products (e.g. electronic shisha pipes).

• Bringing alcohol into Qatar is strictly prohibited. However, alcohol is served in licensed restaurants and in many hotels across the country but drinking alcohol outside of designated areas is prohibited.

Paul McCartney shares his favourite Beatles song to perform live on tour | Music | Entertainment

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After a busy year, Sir Paul McCartney sat down to answer 23 fan questions on his official website.

Asked what his highlight of 2023 was, the 81-year-old didn’t hesitate to say: “The GOT BACK tour!”

As for what is his favourite song to play live on his solo tour, which has been to Oceania, Mexico and South America this year, he chose a Beatles classic.

He replied: “Probably Hey Jude, just to see all those thousands of people singing in harmony with each other.”

Admitting that his favourite does “vary” from time to time, he’s certainly not short of choices.

Another fan asked: “Would you ever release a soundcheck album featuring some of the covers you do before the live show?”

McCartney replied: “It’s a thought! We have the ‘jams’ – we always start the soundcheck with a made-up piece, and there’s a lot of them. So, we might go through those and do something someday.”

Check out the full list of questions here.

The cars discontinued in 2023 that we’ll miss the most

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This year, a number of compelling vehicles exited the Australian market.

You can read a full list of every vehicle discontinued during 2023 here, but there’s really not a dud among them.

From affordable hatchbacks and family crossovers through to sports sedans and even a Ferrari, a number of compelling vehicles faced the chopping block this year.

Some discontinuations were more poignant than others. These are the vehicles we’re saddest to see go.

Anthony Crawford: Audi TT

When Alborz and I made up the entire staff at CarAdvice in 2006 (the year we kicked off), before Paul Maric joined as another stakeholder and partner, Audi was one of the first manufacturers to offer us cars to review.

I thought it was truly Christmas when the PR team handed me the keys to an orange TT 3.2L V6 Coupe. To me, at the time, it was just as good as a base model 911. And let’s not forget the design of the TT by Peter Schreyer is an auto icon.

It was also my wife’s favourite car.

Paul Maric: Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger. Since it was first launched, it has always been my go to SS Commodore replacement. Rear-wheel drive, turbo V6. It had the right formula for being a hoot to drive and a stack of fun.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a hit with consumers, but it’ll be missed!

Scott Collie: Audi TT

The Audi TT has been criticised since its conception for being a hairdresser’s car, but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss it.

It’s a style icon that still looks great today, and a lot of the things we take for granted in modern interiors can be traced back to the current TT’s debut in 2013.

High-resolution digital instruments? The TT introduced the Virtual Cockpit we take for granted in 2023. It was also early to the minimalist trend spreading across new cars in 2023, but managed to cut visual clutter without sacrificing usability thanks to some very clever engineering. Look no further than the air vents, which managed to integrate a temperature display and climate control dials into one unit.

The death of the TT comes as Audi ramps up its spending on electric cars, making it even sadder that we won’t get to hear the five-cylinder TT RS sing any longer.

Jade Credentino: Volkswagen Arteon

Unpopular opinion but I’ll miss the Volkswagen Arteon the most. This was one of the first cars I test drove and it just ticked so many boxes for me.

I understand why it left and sales were a large reason why but it’s so sad to see Volkswagen discontinue a car which was so niche and unique.

VW Australia also removed the wagon versions of the Golf and Passat which means VW’s customers need to move to Skoda or Audi if they want a Volkswagen Group wagon.

Jack Quick: Mercedes-Benz CLS

I’ve been enamoured with the Mercedes-Benz CLS ever since the first-generation model launched in 2004. I know it’s a glorified E-Class but I’ve always thought it was super cool.

I also never got to drive a brand-new one, which I’m very disappointed at. I suppose I could drive a secondhand one but it doesn’t quite have the same ring to me.

If I had to pick a CLS that I would really like to experience in particular, I’d have to go for the late model AMG CLS 53 with the 3.0-litre inline-six mild-hybrid petrol engine.

Hit me up if you’ve got one that you’d let me have a poke around in!

William Stopford: Kia Stinger

I love rear-wheel drive passenger cars that are practical and offer excellent performance. I’m also not a badge snob, and I love a good bargain.

The Kia Stinger, therefore, ticked so many boxes for me. It seemed like Kia had designed a vehicle just for me. And that’s why it’s so sad to see it go.

The Stinger seemed to be a vehicle aimed right at Australia, and while it never sold as well as the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore for which it was a spiritual successor of sorts, its sales continued to grow over its run here. Alas, while the US appeared to be another market that would have been receptive to it, it was never a hit there, while a vehicle like this was never going to earn anything more than niche status in markets like China, Korea and Europe.

Skip the 2.0-litre turbo – most people did. The 2.5-litre turbo that replaced it elsewhere would have been good, but it still wouldn’t have deterred most Australian Stinger buyers from ponying up for that gutsy twin-turbo 3.3-litre V6.

This car was a performance car bargain, yet it was practical too with that big hatchback body. The interior naturally wasn’t as luxurious as its Genesis G70 cousin, but it was more spacious and still attractively presented, and in GT-Line and GT guise the Stinger had an exceptionally long features list.

When I was buying my used 2015 Hyundai Genesis, what I really wanted was a Kia Stinger GT but my budget couldn’t extend that far. Now I’m dating someone who wants one, so hopefully I’ll get some regular seat time in a Stinger soon… but it’ll have to be a used one.

James Wong: Volkswagen’s wagons

Why VolksWAGEN?! Why would you kill the wagons?!

The Golf and Passat Wagons were some of the last remaining affordable estates in the Australian market, offering a load-lugging alternative to the SUV pandemic but also some niche enthusiast cool factor.

As 2023 draws to a close, the wagon-bodied versions of VW’s iconic nameplates will be done, also spelling the end of the Passat in the Australian market. A crying shame.

VW Group Australia is compromising somewhat by offering the Octavia Wagon and Superb moving forward, which are great options in themselves, but they can’t fully replace the Golf and the Passat.

Riyadh Air is betting on a tourist surge to Saudi Arabia

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THE DUBAI air show ended on November 17th with bumper orders for a total of 399 airliners. Emirates, the local giant, is buying 95 long-haul jets from Boeing with a list price in excess of $52bn. Yet the deal which made the biggest waves was one that did not materialise. Riyadh Air, a carrier with a single borrowed aircraft but lofty ambitions, had been expected to place a big order at the jamboree. Riyadh Air says that it will now order narrow-body jets in the coming weeks, to add to 39 wide-bodies which it agreed in March to purchase from Boeing, with an option to buy 33 more.

The airline will not take passengers until 2025 but its boss, Tony Douglas, formerly in charge of Etihad, Abu Dhabi’s flag carrier, has teased at what is to come from an airline that promises a new standard for “reliability, comfort and hospitality”. Aviation is a pillar of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030”, a mammoth scheme to diversify its economy away from oil.

Many of the trappings of a new airline are in place. In Dubai, against a backdrop of the 787 Dreamliner on loan from Boeing, painted in a striking purple livery, Mr Douglas showed off a picture of a second, more sober, mostly white paint job, the better to reflect the baking desert sun. A partnership announced in Dubai with Lucid, a Saudi-backed electric-vehicle startup, was meant to symbolise the promise of world-beating sustainability practices. A shirt-sponsorship deal with Atlético Madrid, one of Spain’s leading football clubs, ensures that Riyadh Air is in the public eye.

There is one niggle. Saudi Arabia already has a national airline, Saudia. So why would the country’s deep pocketed sovereign-wealth fund back another? And why would the kingdom spend huge sums on a new airport in Riyadh, its capital, that will accommodate 120m passengers by 2030?

Mr Douglas denies suggestions that his airline has its eye on competing with Emirates and the other Gulf carriers, also usefully based midway between Europe and Asia, for connecting passengers. Instead it is intended to serve customers with the desert kingdom as their destination. Saudia will not be relegated, as some suggest, to serving religious tourists from its base in Jeddah. It, too, is being spruced up and has new planes on the way. The hope is that two airlines will be required to serve a tourist industry that hopes to welcome 75m international visitors a year by 2030, up from 17m in 2022. Besides diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy, this hoped-for bonanza is meant to burnish the country’s image abroad.

Mr Douglas enthuses about Al Ula, a unesco world heritage site that he says rivals Petra in Jordan, and about planned eco-resorts on the Red Sea that will make the Caribbean “look a bit shoddy”. But these delights, and even a rumoured partial relaxation of the country’s strict ban on selling alcohol, may not be enough to lure visitors. Mr Douglas does not discount the idea of serving significant numbers of transfer passengers, but calls it a “high-class problem for the future”. If visitors fail to come in the anticipated droves, that future may come sooner than he thinks.

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Salesforce collaborates with ICT and AICTE to introduce the Educator’s Empowerment Program

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Salesforce has joined hands with the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Academy and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to introduce the Educator’s Empowerment Program (EEP) on Salesforce Technologies. 

This collaboration is driven by the shared vision to empower educators with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of technical education, thereby ensuring quality education for the learners. 

The program will support virtual internships, leveraging Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform as part of instructional practice. Three specific tracks have been identified, which include Salesforce Platform Developer Track intended for individuals with experience in building custom applications on the Lightning Platform. 

  • Also read: Indian students to the US increase 35% in 2022-23

The Salesforce Administrator Track is a guide to customise the platform while connecting business and technology and lastly, MuleSoft training on interconnection of data, applications and devices across on-premises and cloud computing environment. 

Sanket Atal – Managing Director – India Site, Operations and Technology & Product, Salesforce India, said, “Through this program, we aim to equip educators with the skills and expertise required to stay ahead in their field, foster innovation, and prepare students for the challenges of the future. We believe this initiative will not only benefit educators but also lead to an enriched and dynamic learning experience for students across the country and thereby empower the education landscape.”

The EEP will include 40 hours of training spread over five days, providing an on-campus learning experience. Faculty will obtain a certificate of participation as per the requirements from Academia (EEP from ICT Academy is supported by AICTE). Additional certification will be provided through NASSCOM Future Skill Prime on Salesforce Developer Catalyst, Salesforce Administrator, and MuleSoft.

  • Also read: IIT Madras researchers develop intelligence platform on government funding schemes for start-ups

How will America’s economy fare in 2024? Don’t ask a forecaster

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November brings with it the beginning of the end of the year. The first frost signals winter has arrived. Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season. And from the hallowed halls of every large investment bank come pages and pages of “outlook” research. Their arrival means this year’s economic story is mostly written. Next year is what matters now.

image: The Economist

Often an investor thumbing through all these will experience a sense of déjà vu. With all the vanity of small differences, researchers will elaborate on why their forecast for growth or inflation deviates by perhaps 30 or 40 hundredths of a percentage point from the “consensus” of their peers. (Your correspondent once penned such outlooks herself.)

Yet this year’s crop did not deliver soporific sameness. Goldman Sachs expects growth in America to be robust, at 2.1%, around double the level that economists at ubs foresee. Some banks see inflation falling by half in 2024. Others think it will remain sticky, only dropping to around 3%, still well above the Federal Reserve’s target. Expectations for what the Fed will end up doing with interest rates range, accordingly, from basically nothing to 2.75 percentage points of rate cuts.

The differences between these scenarios come down to more than simple disagreement over growth prospects. Economists at Goldman might think growth and inflation will stay hot whereas those at ubs think both will slow down sharply. But Bank of America expects comparative stagflation, combining only a modest reduction in inflation with a pretty sharp drop in growth (and therefore little movement in the Fed’s policy rates). Morgan Stanley expects the opposite: a version of the “immaculate disinflation” world in which inflation can come back to target without growth dropping below trend much at all.

That each of the outcomes bank economists describe feels eminently plausible is a testament to the sheer level of uncertainty out there. Almost everyone has been surprised in turn by how hot inflation was, the speed of rate rises required to quell it and then the resilience of the economy. It is as if being repeatedly wrongfooted has given economic soothsayers more freedom: if nobody knows what will happen, you might as well say what you really think.

The result is a bewildering array of analogies. Economists at Deutsche Bank think the economy is heading back to the 1970s, with central bankers playing whack-a-mole with inflation. Those at ubs expect a “’90s redux”—a slowdown in growth as rates bite, followed by a boom as new technology drives productivity gains. Jan Hatzius of Goldman thinks comparisons with decades past are “too simple” and may lead investors astray.

There is one similarity in the stories economists are telling, however. Many seem to think the worst is over. “The last mile” was the title of Morgan Stanley’s outlook document; “The hard part is over,” echoed Goldman. They might hope that this applies to both the economy and the difficulty of forecasting. In 2024 the contradictions in America’s economy should resolve themselves. Perhaps in 2025 there will be consensus once more.

For more expert analysis of the biggest stories in economics, finance and markets, sign up to Money Talks, our weekly subscriber-only newsletter.

Video Games Are Finally Waking Up to Climate Change

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With a secondhand solar panel, a battery and a Raspberry Pi minicomputer, game developer Kara Stone got the server powering her games running for just a few hundred dollars. When people point out that cloudy days could leave the server unpowered and her games inaccessible, Stone says that’s part of the point.

“We can’t expect everything to be constantly available to us 24-7, and it’s OK that things are temporarily up and then down,” Stone said. 

To further reduce its carbon impact, her next game, Known Mysteries, uses highly compressed video footage to shrink its data footprint. In stark contrast to the ultra-high-definition images found in today’s top-tier games, the visuals are as fuzzy as videos from old Encarta CD encyclopedias. Unlike modern big-budget titles, which often top 100GB, an early version of her game was just 200MB in size — intentionally constrained game design, resulting in lower impact on the climate.

Stone is one of a growing number of game developers taking climate responsibility into their own hands. The gaming industry has been slow to recognize that creating and playing video games consumes a lot of energy and produces emissions — which contributes to climate change. Advocates for more sustainable game development argue video games must reduce their impact on the planet.

And while the video game industry is paying more attention to sustainability, only a portion of gaming companies release climate impact data. Even fewer account for how much energy is used by gamers around the world.

Read more: After Climate Change, What Does a ‘Livable Future’ Look Like?

A woman stands in front of a games console aligned in a row of other consoles on a trade show floor.

Adam Berry/Getty Images

A cruise liner sinking itself

By conservative estimates, the $184 billion video game industry consumes a similar amount of energy and produces a comparable amount of emissions as the global film industry — or that of the European country of Slovenia, says Australian academic-turned-consultant Ben Abraham. Abraham’s 2020 book, Digital Games After Climate Change, is one of the handful of thorough investigations of how the video game industry’s emissions impact the planet. 

Abraham broadly estimates the gaming industry produced between 3 million and 15 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 to create video games. That includes energy bought from local grids and used to keep the lights on and computers powered as developers make games. 

Abraham’s estimate doesn’t account for a wide range of other activities, from making consoles and computer hardware to shipping games to players (or powering servers for them to download digitally) to flying developers and executives out for business meetings and conferences. 

We can get one window into the sheer scale of these emissions from one of the world’s largest game studios, Ubisoft. Of the company’s annual carbon footprint (which was 148 kilotons of carbon dioxide in 2021), only 5% to 10% is from the company’s direct operations. The remaining emissions break down to around 10% to 15% to distribute games over networks and into retail stores, 40% for producing gaming devices and 40% for player use, including the energy used to power PCs and consoles 

Microsoft estimates that the average gamer with a high-performance gaming device consumes 72 kilograms of carbon dioxide annually. In the US alone, gamers generate 24 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, according to a Project Drawdown report.

Game makers aren’t ignorant of what’s happening. Some of the biggest companies have set sustainability targets. Late last year, Abraham released a report focusing on the 33 largest publishers and studios in the industry that have set net-zero emissions goals. He found that 10 have ambitious plans to reach the milestone before 2030, including tech giants like Microsoft, Apple and Google, but also Ubisoft, Tencent and Riot Games. Sony has set a net-zero goal of 2040, while Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Konami and Sega have set theirs for 2050 — the bare minimum, Abraham said.

“Anything less than that, you are basically committing to destroying the planet,” Abraham said.

Each of these companies has a different strategy for getting to net-zero emissions, including offsetting, or buying green energy credits to “cancel out” what’s consumed in fossil fuel energy, a tactic seen by critics as a form of greenwashing. 

Read more: The Green Revolution Is Being Held Back by Red Tape

A man plays the game Halo at a public games show while a booth attendant walks him through the game.

Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Righting the ship

Every year, tens of thousands of game developers converge on San Francisco to meet at the Game Developers Conference. They swap business cards and meet over potential partnerships in between panel presentations where peers share contacts and lessons learned in the brutal, competitive world of game development. At GDC in late March 2023, hidden in the packed schedule of hundreds of events were a handful dedicated to climate change. 

The most high-profile event was Microsoft’s showcase for a new software toolkit. Named the Xbox Developer Sustainability Toolkit, it guided developers to clean up their games’ performance, which can result in more effective energy consumption. Microsoft has also implemented a number of updates allowing players more control over the energy consumption of their home consoles.

Given how performance and visuals tend to be fetishized by players (and games media), the competitive logic is to maximize at all costs. But shifting player attitudes in favor of climate-saving efforts has opened a door for Microsoft to find a way to reduce player-side emissions by empowering developers to improve efficiency in their games.

“It’s the first time that game developers have ever had real-time energy and emissions measurement tools in their hands,” Trista Patterson, Microsoft’s director of sustainability, told CNET. Patterson assumed the role after co-founding Playing for the Planet, an alliance of games companies that have made sustainability pledges.

The testing kit works like this: Devs can run through a game in progress, play a segment while watching the energy use and dive straight into the code from there. 

Microsoft had Halo Infinite developers use the Sustainability Dev Kit to look for energy savings, and they discovered that lowering resolution and frames-per-second in areas players would least notice, like pause screens and menus, could save up to 55% of power without players noticing. 

Microsoft is making the kit available to developers working on games outside PC and Xbox. When Xbox met with producers at Ubisoft to talk about the Sustainability Dev Kit, ideas were kicked around about future eco-modes in games to help lower consumers’ monthly energy bills and spotlight games’ low emissions to appeal to conservation-minded gamers, Patterson said.

Given Patterson’s experience at Playing for the Planet, it’s no surprise that she sees the possibility for the industry to unite and save itself. Gaming “is a wonderful artistic medium able to create alternative ways of looking at a problem,” Patterson said. Preserving games keeps alive a creative and joyful outlet for many, which is crucial in dark times, Patterson said.

“Play is the antidote of doom,” Patterson said.

Of the console makers, Microsoft is most focused on climate-related energy — or at least has made the most headlines doing so. As CNET Science Editor Jackson Ryan noted, giving players an optional software toggle probably won’t save much energy and seems like more of a PR stunt. Yet the company has given players options to reduce their own footprint, like with its new Xbox controllers made of recycled materials.

That’s still more deliberate action than platform holders like Sony and Nintendo. Both companies release corporate social responsibility reports that outline their respective actions toward sustainability. Nintendo, for instance, has a list of conservation regulations in countries where it operates that it complies with, but no clear overall strategy to reduce emissions. 

“Reducing our environmental impact is one of our four global CSR priority areas and will continue as we work to advance these initiatives,” read an official statement provided to CNET by Nintendo.

Sony, on the other hand, has pledged to use 100% renewable energy in its internal operations by 2030. The company also aims to reach carbon neutrality across its entire operation by 2040, which includes making products and shipping them through supply chains, but it’s unclear if Sony also includes player emissions in this calculus. 

Read more: How These 24-Ton Bricks Could Fix a Huge Renewable Energy Problem

People in masks walk in front of a convention center with a sign saying Games Developers Conference.

Bloomberg/Getty Images

At the Games Developers Conference, conversations and community

At GDC 2023, Sam Barrett, chief of Youth and Advocacy for the UN Environment Programme, explained to a couple dozen attendees how the gaming industry crowd could be taking additional steps at their companies to combat climate change. Barrett spoke for the Playing for the Planet Alliance, a collection of 40 game studios and publishers that pledge to reduce emissions.

Barrett led the crowd, most of whom were game developers, in an exercise tracking how sustainable their workplace is via a 10-step survey (available online here). But he was careful not to shame those in the audience whose workplaces haven’t yet taken any steps. 

“If we set the bar so high that people don’t feel it’s for them, it becomes an elite community,” Barrett said. “We want to create a general community where nobody feels judged for where they’re at on this journey, and people are supportive and collaborative to help them go further, faster.”

The Alliance’s impact is slow but growing. Per its 2022 annual report, 64% of its members are seeking net-zero carbon or carbon neutrality, and its sustainability-themes-in-games Green Game Jam celebrated 2.5 million trees being planted in the real world thanks to member games, as well as a climate march in Ubisoft’s Riders Republic game.

That’s too slow for some in the audience, like Patrick Prax, associate professor at Uppsala University in Sweden. 

“I think the games industry maybe hasn’t understood yet how serious the situation is or how much needs to be done,” Prax said during an interview with CNET at the GDC. 

The gaming industry is still ahead of others that haven’t even started to look at their contributions to climate change, Prax said, but if the United Nations’ guidance is to fundamentally rewrite how our society works to combat climate change, we won’t get there quickly enough by fixing frame rates.  

Prax has a definitive list of problems that need solving.

There’s emissions, but there’s also the components required to make consoles and PCs themselves. Coltan, an ore found in smartphones and games consoles, is widely reported to be mined by child slaves in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Pushing the full responsibility on players to lower emissions won’t work — it has to come from systemic change at the source of emissions. Like every industry feeling public pressure, gaming has two options, Prax posits: come up with solutions internally or face legislated regulations. 

Legislation isn’t the best solution, as it can take years to pass or be stonewalled, but there also hasn’t been much of a push for video game companies to agree on industrywide emissions rules, either voluntary or mandated. 

If the gaming industry needs to shift, so too does gaming and media culture. That includes softening player standards for bleeding-edge graphics. If studios and publishers are stepping up, games journalism can too, Prax said — perhaps by mentioning the energy cost to run games in their reviews. 

Players shouldn’t be left out of the equation entirely, Prax said, and it could help to make it clear how much energy they’re using in real time. Some of his students at Uppsala University pitched interface icons telling players how efficient their console or PC was while playing. 

Developers shifting the industry from within

Arnaud Fayolle was a Ubisoft developer who riled up his coworkers into forming pro-climate internal company interest groups until his employer created a climate-focused advocacy job for him. At the GDC, Fayolle gave a presentation explaining how attendees can use stories or mechanics that highlight climate issues. If players grapple with dwindling resources and fossil fuel energy sources with polluting consequences in games, maybe that’ll sink into their reality too.

The video game industry can take the lead by making content that educates players; content that motivates them to take action and adopt pro-environmental behaviors, Fayolle said. “In game design terms, we call this a positive reinforcement loop.”

Despite differing opinions, Prax, Fayolle and many others attended a pair of roundtables held by the International Game Developers Association Climate Special Interest Group, a community of gaming industry professionals, academics and researchers that Fayolle helped found (Prax and Abraham are also members). 

Nominally existing in an online Discord with around 800 members, the IGDA Climate SIG strategizes about how to rally the gaming industry from within and without. Gathered in person at the GDC, leaders of the SIG lined the chairs of the roundtable discussions to listen to how climate change is affecting gaming studios worldwide.

“In order for us to continue making and playing the games we love, our business operations have to evolve, the way we think about our content and our players needs to evolve and meet the needs that we need to be prepared for,” said Paula Angela Escuadra, cofounder of the IGDA Climate SIG alongside Fayolle who is also a senior user experience strategist for cloud gaming at Xbox Game Studios. 

In the absence of industrywide standards and resources regarding climate change in the workplace, the members of the Climate SIG have made their own Environmental Game Design Playbook to walk developers through greening their industry. From research, they identified four ways to predict how favorable someone is to combating climate change: knowledge of climate issues, pro-environmental attitude, confidence to make change and hope. By and large, developers who join the SIG probably have the first two, but are stuck on the third, Escuadra said. 

Baking climate concerns into games seems like a bummer in a hobby players turn to for escapism, but it isn’t new — games have had climate-related plots and settings since the 1980s, because games are a reflection of what we see in the world. Modern indie games like I Was A Teenage Exocolonist engage with explicit themes of capitalism-induced climate destruction, but even mainstream blockbusters like Horizon Zero Dawn and Gears of War integrate climate change-related civilization collapse in their narratives.

“The long-term vision is that sustainability becomes integrated in every aspect of game development,” Escuadra said. “How every game developer wants to define that is up to them, and we’re here just to make it a little bit easier and measurable.”

Reflecting on climate realities also keys in on something unique to games — the inspiring power of making change while we play. This is the power that game developers have, Escuadra said: to create new worlds with major existential threats and put players in positions where they can build the tools to tackle them — and then try again if they fail.

“That safety is so important, and it’s safety that we don’t have in the real world,” Escuadra said. “If we’re able to just bring a little bit of that into the real world, the amount of things that we can do without people being so afraid of failing is incredible.”

It’s no surprise that Kara Stone is a member of the IGDA Climate SIG, and her solar server project embodies its ideals. She’s one of many game developers finding her own way to lower her game’s carbon footprint and even move away from reliance on fossil fuels.

“There’s different possibilities for the aesthetics of [your game], the actual design, the production, how it’s distributed,” Stone said. “There’s so many different ways that can be done, which I think is amazing.”

When sleep tracking goes too far, you might suffer from this condition, expert says

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The duration and quality of sleep are both essential to overall health, experts agree — but when does a focus on getting a good night’s sleep turn into a harmful fixation?

For some people, checking the data on their wearable sleep trackers can lead to a condition called “orthosomnia,” a name the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine coined to describe patients who are “preoccupied or concerned with improving or perfecting their wearable sleep data.”

Fox News Digital spoke with sleep neurologist and Ozlo Sleep medical advisory board member Meredith Broderick, M.D., about how to recognize the warning signs and ways to remedy the disorder.

FOR QUALITY SLEEP, TIMING IS EVERYTHING, EXPERTS SAY: HERE’S THE SECRET OF SUCCESSFUL SLUMBER

Sleep tracking can provide some important wellness benefits when used in a healthy way, noted Seattle-based Broderick.

“With sleep tracking, people are incentivized to improve their sleep routine and get more sleep because they’re paying attention to those metrics,” she said. 

For some people, checking the data on their wearable sleep trackers can lead to a condition called orthosomnia, a name the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine coined to describe patients who are “preoccupied or concerned with improving or perfecting their wearable sleep data.” (iStock)

“For some people, tracking to understand and learn positive sleep habits can be helpful to achieve quality sleep.”

Those who are tracking their sleep in a healthy way may use the data to create a better sleep routine and may end up getting more sleep.

SURPRISING SLEEP TRENDS REVEALED IN NEW SURVEY, INCLUDING THE RISE OF ‘SCANDINAVIAN SLEEPING’

Healthy sleep tracking does not trigger anxiety or stress, Broderick pointed out.

“Ultimately, what makes the most meaningful difference is not the tracking itself, but actually adopting healthier routines and ensuring consistency long term,” she said.

Warning signs of orthosomnia

The condition of orthosomnia is characterized by an “obsessive pursuit of optimal sleep driven by sleep tracker data,” said Broderick. 

Some indicators of the condition include frequently checking sleep tracking data, concern or anxiety around sleep data or “scores,” and an obsessive desire to optimize sleep data.

Man smartwatch sleep tracker

Those who are tracking their sleep in a healthy way may use the data to create a better sleep routine and may end up getting more sleep. (iStock)

People with orthosomnia may find themselves obsessing over achieving a certain goal or constantly checking their sleep data, even throughout the night.

They may also think about their sleep data throughout the day, often feeling anxiety or stress about it.

DO WEIGHTED BLANKETS REALLY DELIVER A SLEEP FIX? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW 

“They may also feel anxious or unable to sleep if separated from sleep data,” Broderick said. 

“Low scores can lead to stress, which can adversely affect sleep, while insufficient sleep can increase stress levels — creating a vicious cycle.”

“Some sleep trackers and wearables can contribute to orthosomnia by sending push notifications to phones that enable this anxiety.”

Ironically, the behaviors associated with orthosomnia can end up negatively affecting sleep. 

“Low scores can lead to stress, which can adversely affect sleep, while insufficient sleep can increase stress levels — creating a vicious cycle,” Broderick warned.

Remedies for orthosomnia

For those who notice the warning signs of orthosomnia, Broderick recommends taking a short break from sleep tracking and trying to set healthy boundaries that are aligned with their health goals. 

“If that doesn’t help, it’s time to bring it up with your doctor,” she said. 

SLEEPING LONGER OVER THE WEEKEND COULD HELP PREVENT HEART ATTACKS, SAYS STUDY

“Sleep experts think there might be an underlying root cause, like anxiety or even certain perfectionistic tendencies, which leads some people to develop this unhealthy pattern,” said Broderick.

“Sometimes, there is a sleep disorder that needs to be evaluated and treated by a specialist, like chronic insomnia or sleep-disordered breathing.”

Sleep tracking data

While technology can be an “incredible tool” for better sleep, it must be based on science and each individual’s needs, said one expert.   (iStock)

While technology can be an “incredible tool” for better sleep, Broderick emphasized that it must be based on science and each individual’s needs. 

“If your sleep aid is causing you stress, it’s time to look for a new alternative,” she said.

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Orthosomnia is closely related to another condition called nomophobia, in which people have a fear of being away from their smartphones, Broderick noted. 

In a 2019 article in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, nomophobia is described as “a psychological condition when people have a fear of being detached from mobile phone connectivity.”

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“Remember that technology should make your life easier, not add anxiety or stress,” said Broderick. 

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

Pasta + Veggies = A Perfect Salad For A Light, Wholesome And Delicious Meal

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All set for New Year’s Eve party? Planning to stay up the whole night? Then surely you will be lazy and hungover the next morning. Don’t worry, we get you. Planning a wholesome meal in such a situation seems dreadful. But nothing doing, you need to eat something healthy to refuel yourself with energy to celebrate the first day of the year. We also believe, the food should be delicious as well. It is a New Year after all! If you are in one such situation, then dear reader, stay back and read through the article for the perfect recipe to enjoy on the first day of 2024. It’s a healthy and tasty bowl of pasta salad. 

Also Read: Taco Salad Recipe: The New Way To Enjoy Mexican Flavours

What Is Pasta Salad? Does Pasta Salad Have Italian Origin? History Of Pasta Salad:

To begin with, we all know pasta is associated with Italian cuisine. It is, in fact, the second most popular Italian dish across the globe – the first one being pizza. According to academic-accelerator.com, although there is no definite origin of the salad, there are various theories link it to the Italian Jews of the Roman Empire. Some theorists trace it further to the Phoenecians. “A modern version of pasta salad with macaroni noodles dates back to an American recipe in 1914,” reads the article. A Washington Post recipe, published in 1930, also referred to it as ‘mock potato salad’.

Over time, pasta salad underwent various modifications and today, you will get a long list of recipes, each with its unique taste and flavour profile.

Also Read: Is Fruit Salad Healthy? What Is The Right Way To Mix Fruits?

Winter-Special Vegetable Pasta Salad: How To Make Winter Vegetable Pasta Salad:

In this article, we will introduce you to a seasonal pasta salad recipe that includes the goodness of fresh and crunchy broccoli and baby corn in it. We used penne pasta for the recipe.

To start with, blanch broccoli in a pan and boil penne until an dante. Next, heat oil, and saute garlic and babycorn until they turn slightly brown. Next, add broccoli and toss well. To it, add seasonings, pasta, and parmesan shavings and you are good to go!

Sounds super easy, right? Trust us, it won’t take you more than half an hour to put together this wholesome meal. 

So without further ado, let’s give the delicious vegetable pasta salad a try. Click here for the detailed recipe.