Chrome Browser Kicks Flash To the Curb

The latest version of the Google Chrome web browser (version 55) has finally kicked Adobe Flash to the curb, by giving preference to HTML5 on most websites. There are a small number of exceptions to this, at least for a time, with YouTube and Facebook being notable ones.

Flash and HTML5 are different methods websites can use to allow you to view multimedia content - audio, video, animations - and Adobe Flash has been subject to a lot of security vulnerabilities over the years, hence the push to move to HTML5.

The Chrome browser should update itself and in day to day use, you really won't notice much difference - although if a site only supports Flash, you will likely get a prompt before Chrome will play that content, which is another nod to security.

With Chrome being the most popular browser out there, the choice to eschew Flash should help with the adoption rate of HTML5 going forward.


Phantom Pain Of Amputees Treated By Augmented Reality

Our human minds are a fantastically complex system of inputs and processing, and while it works well a lot of the time, it can be tricked into misinterpreting data - for example with an optical illusion.

Another more troublesome result of the way our brains work is the problem of amputees experiencing "phantom pain" in a limb that is no longer physically present. Can you imagine having an itch that you literally cannot scratch, or a non-existent limb or joint feeling as if it is stuck in an awkward or painful position?

While the mechanism is not fully understood, one approach seems to work for some patients is the use of augmented reality to trick the mind (again) into seeing a representation of the missing limb, and allowing software to arrange the limb in a less painful position (for example). This seems to let the brain think all is well, and relieves the phantom pain condition.
If the idea that moving a virtual limb around in AR could relieve pain strikes you as strange, don’t worry — it is. But phantom pain is a poorly understood phenomenon and sometimes the effectiveness of treatments is matched only by their strangeness.

Apple Steps Up To Address iPhone 6s Battery Shutdowns

Some iPhone 6s owners (a small number, Apple insists) have run into a problem where the phone will shut down if the battery capacity falls to around 30%. While Apple says this is in fact the way the phone should act under the circumstances (i.e. the battery is not working as expected), it's still frustrating for the phone to shut off when there is still some battery capacity available.

To their credit, Apple says they have tracked down a specific manufacturing issue with their batteries and are replacing the affected hardware accordingly. 

Unfortunately, we seem to be going through a bad patch with mobile device batteries of late, as slimmer batteries mean closer tolerances during manufacture and more potential for possible trouble later.
Apple did provide a few new details: "We found that a small number of iPhone 6s devices made in September and October 2015 contained a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been before being assembled into battery packs. As a result, these batteries degrade faster than a normal battery and cause unexpected shutdowns to occur. It's important to note, this is not a safety issue."

image courtesy

When Facebook Autoplays Videos, Here Is How To Stop It

Web sites and apps seem to have a tendency to change features as they go along, such as Facebook now "auto playing" videos on your timeline when you pause for more than a microsecond (it seems). 

These changes are of course generally designed to "engage" you, or otherwise get you to click on things, and so on - all part of keeping eyeballs engaged and making ad revenue. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but sometimes the methods get in the way of your enjoyment.

The Facebook video thing can be annoying if you are just trying to quietly check your feed, and suddenly a video of a dog barking or a marching band playing (or whatever) shatters the silence. Also, you may not want videos playing on your mobile device, using up some of your data allowance for the month.

HowToGeek has simple fixes for both PC and mobile users who don't want Facebook to play timeline videos unless you actually click on them. Get the skinny here.