Arp 299, located some 140 million light years from Earth, contains two galaxies that are merging. © Chandra X-ray Observatory Center Arp 299, located some 140 million light years from Earth, contains two galaxies that are merging. Ever wondered what happens when galaxies "collide?"

Now we know, thanks to a cool image from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The image of "Arp 299," which was released Monday, is a composite of visible light and X-ray light.

In the image, X-rays are represented with pink and blue colors, while visible light is red, green, and blue.

Arp 299 is located about 140 million light years from Earth and contains two galaxies that have been merging for millions of years, creating a blended mix of stars from each galaxy in the process.

It's also one of the most powerful star-forming galaxies in the nearby universe, NASA said. This is due in part to the merger of the two galaxies, which has triggered waves of star formation.

Chandra Observatory has detected over a dozen objects in Arp 299 that give off large amounts of x-rays, which NASA believes are either neutron stars or black holes. 

Launched in 1999 and now in orbit around the Earth, the Chandra Observatory is s a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emissions from very hot regions of the universe.

Experts say the most immediate changes would likely be in warehouses that customers never see. © Reuters Experts say the most immediate changes would likely be in warehouses that customers never see. (Bloomberg) -- When Amazon.com Inc.'s $13.7 billion bid to buy Whole Foods was announced, John Mackey, the grocer's chief executive officer, addressed employees, gushing about Amazon's technological innovation. 

"We will be joining a company that’s visionary," Mackey said, according to a transcript of the meeting. "I think we’re gonna get a lot of those innovations in our stores. I think we’re gonna see a lot of technology. I think you’re gonna see Whole Foods Market evolve in leaps and bounds."

A major question about the acquisition is what Amazon's technology will mean for those Whole Foods' workers. Will it make their jobs obsolete?

In negotiations, Amazon spent a lot of time analyzing Whole Foods' distribution technology, pointing to a possible way in which the company sees the most immediate opportunities to reduce costs, said a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the issue was private. Amazon, through a spokesman, declined to comment, as did Whole Foods. 

Experts say the most immediate changes would likely be in warehouses that customers never see. That suggests the jobs that could be affected the earliest would be in the warehouses, where products from suppliers await transport to store shelves, said Gary Hawkins, CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail and Technology, a Los Angeles nonprofit that helps retailers and brands innovate.  As Amazon looks to automate distribution, cashiers will be safe-- for now.

"The easiest place for Amazon to bring its expertise to bear is in the warehouses, because that's where Amazon really excels," Hawkins said. "If they can reduce costs, they can show that on the store shelves and move Whole Foods away from the Whole Paycheck image."

Amazon sees automation as a key strategic advantage in its overall grocery strategy, according to company documents reviewed by Bloomberg before the Whole Foods acquisition was announced.

Whole Foods has 11 distribution centers specializing in perishable foods that serve its stores. It also has seafood processing plants, kitchens and bakeries that supply prepared food to each location. Those are the places where Amazon could initially focus, according to experts.

Amazon has its own network of warehouses around the country with an abundant assortment of goods, and there are thousands of robots in those facilities. As Amazon's business has grown, its warehouses have become more specialized. Most inventory is in its largest warehouses within driving distance of big cities, but as it tries to deliver products faster, the company is utilizing smaller delivery hubs in cities packed with the kind of products people want quickly, like a phone charger or a toothbrush you forgot to pack on a trip.

Adding robots to warehouses hasn't dented Amazon's hiring spree. The company had 351,000 employees at the end of March, up 43 percent from a year earlier. CEO Jeff Bezos in January pledged to hire 100,000 new workers over the next 18 months, coinciding with pressure from President Donald Trump on U.S. companies to create jobs.

Amazon has not had the fresh food sales volume to justify big investment in refrigerated warehouses. Whole Foods gives them an incentive to reinvent how groceries get to your store and doorstep.

Brittain Ladd, a supply chain consultant who spent two years working on Amazon's grocery push, said Amazon may be considering building a network of automated warehouses designed for the grocery business. These would likely be 1 million square feet -- large enough to serve Whole Foods and Amazon's various other grocery initiatives like Amazon Fresh and Prime Pantry -- and would utilize robots and automation to reduce labor costs, he said.

"The goal will be to create as advanced a distribution capability as possible to provide customers with exceptional service and the freshest of fresh produce, vegetables, and meat," Ladd said. "Amazon will win the battle against Wal-Mart by winning with fresh food.

A big challenge for Amazon will be applying its logistics know-how regarding durable, long-lasting products like books, toys and tablets to delicate perishables like strawberries and steaks that have to be handled gingerly, stored at different temperatures and inspected frequently for signs of spoiling.

After automating warehouses, Amazon may bring the robots to the stores. But don't expect them to replace cashiers immediately. The first ones will likely navigate aisles to check inventory and alert employees when items run low, said Austin Bohlig, an advisor at Loup Ventures, which invests in robotics startups.

"These robots can operate alongside people inside a store, but Amazon will want to make absolutely sure they are safe," he said.

Amazon is experimenting with a smaller urban convenience store concept in Seattle called AmazonGo that lets shoppers check in with smartphones, grab what they want and leave without going to a cash register. They are billed automatically based on what they pluck from shelves.

Amazon said it has no plans to introduce that technology to Whole Foods, though a person familiar with the matter said the company is considering eliminating cashiers as part of its long-term grocery strategy. The person asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak on private matters.

Amazon has good reason to move slowly with automating tasks now done by people. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, whose 1.3 million members mostly work in supermarkets, has had its eye on Whole Foods for years, said David Pryzbylski, an employment lawyer with Barnes & Thornburg, LLP who has represented supermarkets in union-related cases. Whole Foods has kept unions at bay by paying good wages and avoiding mass layoffs, he said.

"If there's an environment of uncertainty, like layoffs due to automation, unions can play on that fear," Pryzbylski said, and make inroads in unionizing the workforce.

FILE PHOTO: Google search page in photo illustration © REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski/File Photo FILE PHOTO: Google search page in photo illustration Google’s self-professed mission is to organize the world’s information. But a company known for engineering excellence is still trying to solve the very human problem of how to organize itself.

Nearly two years ago, Google co-founder Larry Page announced the tech giant would be remade as Alphabet, a holding company whose units would include Google and an array of unrelated pursuits in areas such as healthcare, self-driving cars and urban planning.

Wall Street cheered. Previously those riskier ventures had been lumped into Google's overall financial results. Investors would now see Google’s performance independent of its so-called “Other Bets,” an eclectic collection of 11 ventures. They include Nest, a maker of Wi-Fi enabled thermostats; Calico, which seeks to prolong the human lifespan; and X, the company's secretive research lab.

Alphabet's top management also aimed to boost accountability by appointing chief executives to head each of the Other Bets. Few people in Google's constellation of ventures had ever held the title prior to that.

But so far Alphabet has failed to show it can convert its Other Bets from experiments to businesses with the reach, impact and money-making potential of Google’s core search and advertising operations. Interviews with two dozen former Alphabet executives and employees reveal an organization grappling with how much time and resources Other Bets deserve in the pursuit of profitability.

In the first quarter, which ended March 31, the ventures lost a combined $855 million; that's on top of a collective $3.6 billion loss for 2016. As a whole, Alphabet generated $90.3 billion in revenue in 2016. Google's share of that revenue was $89.5 billion, while its 2016 operating income was $27.9 billion.

Alphabet's early days have seen more pruning than expansion of its holdings.

The company has skinned back plans for Google Fiber, which delivers rapid Internet service in 10 metro areas. This month, Alphabet agreed to sell robotics company Boston Dynamics to Japanese multinational SoftBank Group Corp. It unloaded its Terra Bella satellite imaging business in February.

At one point last year, it was even looking to sell Nest, the largest of the Other Bets, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Google paid an eye-popping $3.2 billion for the start-up in 2014.

(For a graphic showing Alphabet's holdings, see: http://tmsnrt.rs/2rNgdKN)

Meanwhile, a series of executives have departed since the reorganization, including the heads of Nest, an Internet operation called Access and a venture capital firm known as GV.

An Alphabet spokeswoman declined repeated requests for comment or to make executives available for interviews. Supporters of the restructuring frame the early struggles as typical growing pains.

For now, Wall Street isn't worried: Alphabet's stock is near an all-time high, having reached $1,000 per share in June. Ruth Porat, the no-nonsense chief financial officer who has steered the restructuring, has won rave reviews from investors for enforcing financial accountability across Alphabet.

Some Other Bets have made notable strides. Life sciences initiative Verily recently attracted $800 million in outside investment. Self-driving car project Waymo is considered among the leaders in the burgeoning industry.

Still, it's not yet clear the structure will enable Alphabet to do what most companies cannot: conceive the next wave of innovation in-house or through the development of key acquisitions. That goal is central to both the company's mission and investor expectations, analysts say.

“The reason Google gets to trade at a decent multiple… is because there's a growth story beyond advertising,” said analyst James Wang of ARK Investment Management.

CEO or COO?

The Alphabet structure is Google’s stab at an age-old corporate conundrum: sustaining innovation within a giant enterprise.

Alphabet's strategy is to give entrepreneurs the autonomy of a startup, coupled with the discipline of a traditional corporate structure.

Roughly once a quarter, Other Bets leaders meet with the Alphabet board – comprised of Porat, Page, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and David Drummond, Alphabet's senior vice president of corporate development – to discuss funding and performance, according to two former employees.

At the same time, Alphabet is establishing separate compensation plans for the Other Bets to reward employees if their ventures succeed, mirroring startup incentives.

The formula has primed Alphabet's emerging businesses for "global impact," Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said this month at the annual stockholders meeting at the Mountain View headquarters.

"There is one solution that we know works well in capitalism, which is boards, shareholders, CEOs," Schmidt said. "My bet is that the traditional lessons of business organization will in fact result in success at Alphabet."

Still, Alphabet top brass continue to hold sway over key strategy and financing decisions, a dynamic that has chafed Other Bets chief executives who've complained they are treated more like chief operating officers than shot callers, according to people familiar with the situation.

In addition, scrutiny from Wall Street limits how generous Alphabet can be in extending Google's resources to Other Bets, said Brian McClendon, a former vice president of engineering at Google.

"As of yet, the restructuring hasn’t provided what I think is one of the immediate benefits, which is risk-taking investment," he said.

NICKELED AND DIMED

Some companies acquired by Google found that being part of Alphabet wasn't what they'd bargained for.

Two former Nest employees said they were promised generous funding and time to achieve profitability following the company's acquisition by Google in 2014. But after the restructuring, Alphabet executives were keenly focused on revenue, one former employee said.

Pricey overhead has made the path to profitability tougher. After the restructuring, Alphabet began charging Other Bets for their portion of shared services such as security and facilities, ending what had previously amounted to a subsidy, people familiar with the situation said. The units also felt pressure to maintain Google perks such as free employee meals.

“One of the pitfalls (of Alphabet) is that those companies are asked to stand on their own two feet, but they may inherit the cost structure of Google," said Nest investor Peter Nieh, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners.

In early 2016, Alphabet explored selling Nest in an effort code-named Project Amalfi, according to three people familiar with the matter. No deal materialized, and Nest co-founder Tony Fadell departed last year. Fadell declined to comment.

Boston Dynamics, acquired in 2013 during a robotics shopping spree led by Android creator Andy Rubin, enjoyed generous funding at first. But it was adrift after Rubin's departure, two former employees said. Rubin did not respond to requests for comment.

GRUMPY GOOGLERS

The creation of the Other Bets has also changed what it means to work for Google.

Some grumble that their role now is to subsidize innovation at their sister companies, rather than to innovate themselves.

“It did sort of send the message to people who stayed back at Google, whether in search or in ads: Your job isn’t to push the envelope,” one former Googler said.

Employee transfers to X, the illustrious “moonshot factory,” are more complicated now that it's a separate entity, former employees say.

That’s a striking shift, especially for high-performing employees accustomed to moving about the company almost at will, said Punit Soni, a former Google employee who is now chief executive of Learning Motors, an artificial intelligence startup.

“A basic premise of Google was people could do whatever they wanted,” Soni said. “I can see why people will feel like it’s no longer the old Google."

In the meantime, co-founder Page is pursuing yet another "moonshot": flying cars.

He is the primary investor in Kitty Hawk, a startup in the field that is entirely outside the Alphabet umbrella.

BC-OIL-INDUSTRY-HACKED © Giacomo Tognini BC-OIL-INDUSTRY-HACKED (Bloomberg) -- Three out of four oil and natural gas companies fell victim to at least one cyber attack last year as hacking efforts against the industry become more frequent and sophisticated.

That’s the finding from a report released Monday by industry consultant Deloitte LLP. Technology advances, such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s recent control of operations in Argentina from an operating center in Canada, offer new openings for hackers, the authors wrote.

At the same time, older equipment that must be retrofitted for cybersecurity, including the pumps known as nodding donkeys, make it tougher to defend against sophisticated attacks. Less than half of drillers use any monitoring tools on their upstream operations networks, the report found. Of those, only 14 percent have fully operational security monitoring centers.

When the authors visited the oil fields it “was like walking into the 1980s, with shared passwords and passwords written down on paper,” said Paul Zonneveld, a senior partner at Deloitte in Calgary, by phone.

A 2011 cyber attack dubbed "Night Dragon" stole exploration and bidding data from oil majors including Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP Plc. Past assaults in 2012 and 2014 crippled companies throughout the Middle East and Europe with disk-wiping malware and advanced Trojan Horse attacks.

The report suggested that industry concern over cyberattacks may be low because of a feeling it would be an unlikely target. But with the motives of hackers fast evolving — from cyberterrorism to industry espionage to disrupting operations to stealing field data — risks are rising fast, along with the stakes, the report found.

Complex System

Companies have to defend a complex system comprising assets decades old as well as state-of-the-art digitized technology. To make matters more difficult, these assets are overseen by a wide array of companies and partners and spread across different fields and regions. Protecting the entire system just isn’t feasible, Zonneveld said.

While the cost of cyber crime is estimated to average about $15 million in the industry right now, major assaults can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and risk deaths and environmental damage.

Company executives are waking up to the threat posed by cybercrime. "The culture needs to change, and that’s happening but it takes time," said Andrew Slaughter, executive director at the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions in Houston, in a telephone interview. "This report serves as a call to arms."

European research presented at the 3rd Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in Amsterdam over the weekend has found that Parkinson's patients with high blood pressure suffer from a more serious form of the disease.

Previous research has already suggested a link between hypertension and Parkinson's disease, with a team from the University of Basel publishing a paper back in 2008 suggesting that some medications for high blood pressure -- known as hypertension -- also reduce the risk of contracting Parkinson's disease.

However, the exact connection between the two conditions has been unknown.

A collaboration between British and Italian scientists, the study analyzed data from the worldwide Parkinson's Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) database sponsored by US actor and Parkinson's patient Michael J. Fox.

The team set out to look at whether certain markers of Parkinson's disease were different in early untreated Parkinson's patients with and without hypertension, and if so, to what extent.

Some of the markers included in the study were neurological parameters, various biomarkers -- medical signs which help inentify a disease -- and levels of dopamine, as low levels are known to contribute to movement problems in Parkinson's patients.

The team also looked at motor and non-motor symptoms.

From the data the team found evidence that those with hypertension suffered from a more serious form of Parkinson's disease than patients with normal blood pressure.

"It became clear that patients with hypertension exhibit motor symptoms of a greater severity such as muscular rigidity or a slowing of voluntary motor functions as well as a reduced capacity in the affected basal ganglia," said one of the study's authors Dr Beniamino Giordano.

"However, these data are only preliminary and further analyses are needed to shed light on the link between hypertension and Parkinson's," he added.

The findings still led the team to conclude however that, "The results suggest that optimum management of high blood pressure can also improve PD symptoms," and they now hope that managing blood pressure could be an effective way of reducing the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

  According to new research, managing blood pressure could be one way of helping reduce the severity of Parkinson's disease. © Provided by AFPRelaxNews According to new research, managing blood pressure could be one way of helping reduce the severity of Parkinson's disease.

© Nathan Ingraham / Engadget Siri may have ushered in the era of the digital assistant, but Amazon's Echo (with Alexa) really took that concept and put it in our homes. The Echo wasn't an immediate, breakout hit -- but having Alexa around to ask questions, manage smart-home devices, play music and much more has turned out to be a pretty great thing. It's a concept Google and Apple are now chasing (to varying degrees), but Amazon isn't staying still.

The $230 Echo Show is the first Echo with a touchscreen, and since it was announced, we've been wondering how much a display will really add to the Alexa experience. It depends on what you want to do with it and where you put the Echo Show in your home. But after a week with Amazon's latest, I'm convinced that yet another touchscreen in your life actually makes the Alexa experience better in a lot of ways -- and that's not to mention the new things the Echo Show can do.

Hardware

© Provided by Engadget UK Images of the Echo Show appeared online a few days before it was formally announced, and the immediate reaction was one of disdain. Seeing it in person makes it a little bit better, but there's no way around it: The Echo Show is an oddly angular and blocky device. It's also strangely large, almost bulbous at the base. It's definitely not the sleek cylinder that we've come to associate with the Echo. The matte-black plastic (it's also available in white) picks up fingerprints quite easily -- but this isn't a device that you'll be moving and handling a ton, so it's not too much of a problem.

It turns out, that wide base houses the Echo Show's two speakers, which perform much better than I expected (more on that later). They make up the bottom half of the device, while the top is dominated by the 7-inch, 1024 x 600 touchscreen. That's the same resolution as Amazon's Kindle Fire 7 tablet, and while it's certainly nothing to write home about, it fits the Echo Show's purpose.

It's not something you'll be staring at for hours on end; instead, you're more likely to be giving it quick glances throughout the day. To that end, I found it performed well -- it's bright and clear enough, and viewing angles are fine. Given that the Echo Show can play back video from YouTube and Amazon, a panel that hits 720p would have been nice, but I didn't spend any time really thinking that the screen wasn't up to par for what I was looking for.

Up top is a 5-megapixel video camera, which is used for video calls and, potentially, third-party skills down the line. The top features three buttons: two for volume control and one to mute the Echo Show's eight-microphone array. The mics are set in an oval around the buttons up top, but there's no light ring like you'll find on the original Echo. Instead, the bottom of the screen lights up blue when you talk to the Echo Show. That works fine, it's just not quite as elegant as the light ring.

Overall, the Echo Show hardware is solid and functional, but it doesn't go far beyond that. I will say, that once I placed it on my shelf, I thought about its strange form factor a lot less. It does a good enough job of blending into the background, which is really what you want out of a device like this. It's not something that'll draw attention, and that works for me.

In use

© Provided by Engadget UK Setting up the Echo Show is a very simple affair and the first time that the touchscreen shows its usefulness. It's pretty easy to go through the setup process right on the device, although the Alexa app for iOS, Android and Amazon's own Fire devices will also do the job. Once you get the Show connected to WiFi and sign in with your Amazon account, you're basically off and running.

If you've used an Echo before, everything you can do with that one is an option here, as well. I set up my location (for weather alerts), Google Calendar, my Todoist account and a few music services (including Spotify and Amazon Music) in the Alexa app and then I could easily access my personal info.

The default view on the Echo Show is a rotating view of your calendar appointments, to-do items, weather and a bunch of trending news stories. In all cases, the screen prompts you to ask Alexa for more details on whatever particular item is on display. Talking to Alexa works just as well on the Show as the standard Echo -- I had very few instances where it didn't pick up my voice right away, though there were definitely occasional moments of confusion as it tried to understand what I wanted.

The default view on the Echo Show is a rotating view of your calendar appointments, to-do items, weather and a bunch of trending news stories. In all cases, the screen prompts you to ask Alexa for more details on whichever particular item is on display. Talking to Alexa works just as well on the Show as the standard Echo -- I had very few instances where it didn't pick up my voice right away, though there were definitely occasional moments of confusion as it tried to understand what I wanted.

© Provided by Engadget UK A big part of the value I found in the Echo Show was how useful it was to ... well, have the device show me information. When I asked about the weather, Alexa would respond and show me the forecast for the next few days. When I asked about my to-do list, I could see it and hear it as well. Having some time to sit there and digest the info in a visual way was immediately useful. It's not necessary, but it is nice. And if you're not right in view of the screen, you can still talk to the Echo Show and get the info you're looking for.

The screen augments most of Alexa's usual features, but it also enables a number of things that you couldn't do before. Chief among those is video calling. Amazon added voice calls and messaging to the Echo family recent, but the Echo Show is the only one with a screen and camera. You can make video calls with anyone who has the Alexa app set up on their phone -- whether or not they actually have an Echo Show yet.

Unfortunately, the feature isn't fully live yet, but I was able to do a test call with an Amazon representative, and it worked just as smoothly as you'd hope. The incoming call lit up my screen with the name of the caller, and the speaker started playing an alert to get my attention. I could pick up the call with either my voice or by tapping the button that appeared on the screen, and then the call just went on without any issues. Naturally, you can ask Alexa to place voice and video calls as well as send messages.

I don't do video calling much, but this could be a killer feature for a lot of families. Being able to do a video call hands-free was definitely better than holding my phone the whole time. But just about everyone has a phone that can make video calls, and that's probably enough for most people. I could imagine this being useful for families with older relatives, though — the Echo Show is probably a bit easier to use. Of course, that means setting up yet another calling service, because the Show doesn't support apps like Skype or Hangouts.

Another new feature that takes advantage of the screen is integration with smart-home cameras. The Echo Show will work with cameras from Amcrest, Arlo, August, EZViz, IC Realtime, Ring, Nest and Vivint. By saying a phrase like "Alexa, show the front door" you'll be able to pull up the feed from that camera right on your Show. That's another feature I wasn't able to test -- but given that the Echo is quickly becoming an essential hub for smart devices, households already with smart-home cameras might find the Echo Show worth shelling out for.

What's most intriguing about the Echo Show is how third-party developers will use the new hardware. Alexa is getting more skills all the time, and seeing what makes its way to this new screen will certainly be worth keeping an eye on. Unfortunately, there's nothing out there yet that I can try, but the smart way Amazon has used the screen to enhance existing Echo features makes me excited to see what developers do here.

Music and entertainment

© Provided by Engadget UK One of the best things about the original Echo was just telling it to play whatever music popped into your head, and the Echo Show is even better in that regard. That's primarily because the Echo Show's speaker represents a solid upgrade over the original model. It's still not in the same realm as dedicated audio speakers that Sonos is making, but it's a lot better than the Google Home.

The screen also makes searching for music a lot easier. You can ask Alexa to show you top playlists on Spotify or the top songs on Amazon Music and a grid pops up on the display. You can then tell Alexa to scroll to the right to see more, but it's easier to just swipe through the selections. Each item on the list has a number, and you can then just tell Alexa to "play No. 3."

If that's too much work, you can still just tell Alexa to play specific albums, songs or playlists, or just tell it to play music from a certain genre. Once the music is playing, the Echo Show displays lyrics from the song, though you can turn that off easily enough if you find it distracting.

Depending on where the Echo Show sits in your home, you might even want to watch video on it (despite that low-resolution screen). As you'd expect, you can just say "show me videos on Amazon Prime" or "play clips from YouTube" and things just start right up. Browsing Amazon Prime videos is similar to browsing songs or playlists -- there's a list that scrolls to the right and you can then tap or ask Alexa to play your selection.

© Provided by Engadget UK That's fine for casual browsing, but if you want to find a specific movie or video, you'll need to ask Alexa to pull it up. Fortunately, the search is fairly contextual, so you don't have to say the exact title word for word to find the YouTube clip you might be looking for. Alexa also responds to hands-free commands like skipping forward or back, adjusting volume and pausing your content. I don't think I'd watch an entire film on the Echo Show, but if you spend a lot of time cooking and want to watch a few sitcoms while you're at it, it'll do the job nicely.

It's worth noting that the Echo Show can also output audio to a Bluetooth speaker, just like the original Echo. So if you have a better speaker lying around and want to upgrade your audio setup, it's a fairly trivial matter.

The competition

© Provided by Engadget UK The Echo Show exists without any direct competition. If you're considering a voice-activated speaker, your choices are basically the Echo or Google Home. While Google has added plenty of features to Home since it launched last fall, Amazon still has the more-complete ecosystem here. If you're deeply entrenched in Google's world, Home is a good choice, but Amazon works pretty well with most Google services at this point.

If you're trying to choose between the standard Echo and the Echo Show, you'll want to consider where it'll go in your home and what you want to do with it. My Google Home typically sits in my living room next to the TV, and I wouldn't want another device with a screen there. But in a kitchen, office or bedroom, this little display could come in handy.

Another consideration is how interested you are in video calling and other future features that will rely on the screen. If you buy one without a screen, you're locking yourself out of any potentially interesting use cases that could come down the line. For an extra $50, there's a good chance you'll get a lot of extra functionality out of the Echo Show, and the screen enhances plenty of the day-to-day info you'll want to check on the device.

Wrap up

© Provided by Engadget UK Amazon essentially created a category with the Echo, and the Echo Show marks the first significant re-thinking of what a voice-activated home-hub can be. Ultimately, the screen isn't essential, but it proved to be very useful. And the improved speaker quality is almost worth the $50 upgrade over the standard Echo by itself.

Aside from costing more money, the only downside to the Echo Show is that it's more obtrusive than the slim, cylindrical Echo. But if one more screen won't disturb your room too much, the Echo Show should be a strong contender for people looking for a virtual home assistant.

The asteroid Apophis was discovered in 2004 and will pass very close to Earth in a few years. © Provided by IBT US The asteroid Apophis was discovered in 2004 and will pass very close to Earth in a few years. The asteroid Apophis seems like a friendly rock speeding through the space near Earth for now, but later on in its relationship with our planet, it might strike down to the surface with devastating results.

It may never happen, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, according to a report on Astrowatch.net. After all, scientists were briefly worried in 2004 about that asteroid striking Earth, before further calculations showed there was nothing to be alarmed about. It has passed through our space neighborhood since then without incident, but Apophis has future flybys scheduled and while the next couple are going to go pretty smoothly, others may not be as pleasant.

NASA projects that Apophis will come by in 2029 and will return again in 2036. In the former journey, the closest the asteroid may get to Earth a little less than 20,000 miles, which is closer than some of our satellites. That’s a pretty close pass to the planet, and will put it into the record books as the closest one of its size. It will appear “to the naked eye as a moderately bright point of light moving rapidly across the sky” over the mid-Atlantic area.

The latter flyby, in 2036, will be from much farther out, several million miles away. NASA scientists finalized calculations a few years ago that showed there was no danger during that pass.

“The impact odds as they stand now are less than one in a million, which makes us comfortable saying we can effectively rule out an Earth impact in 2036,” Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at the time. “Our interest in asteroid Apophis will essentially be for its scientific interest for the foreseeable future.”

But the future beyond that is wide open.

“We can rule out a collision at the next closest approach with the Earth, but then the orbit will change in a way that is not fully predictable just now, so we cannot predict the behavior on a longer timescale,” Alberto Cellino, of the Observatory of Turin in Italy, told Astrowatch.net.

Apophis is between 700 and 1,100 feet long, more than large enough to do substantial damage if it were to crash down onto the Earth. But even without Apophis, our planet is still vulnerable to a deadly asteroid. They pass by Earth all the time, sometimes more than one in a day. Usually they are relatively small and far out, but there are exceptions. For example, NASA is predicting an asteroid between 800 and 1,800 feet across flying by on June 27, from a distance that is equivalent to about a tenth of the distance between the Earth and the sun. On July 23, an asteroid between 130 and 300 feet long will pass by at about three lunar distances — in other words, three times the distance between Earth and the moon. NASA’s publicly accessible and searchable database of near-Earth objects’ close approaches is a treasure trove for doomsayers.

And objects do land on Earth from time to time, even though they are small. Just earlier this year, a meteorite the size of a fist and weighing about a pound crashed down to the surface, punching a hole through a shed roof in the Netherlands right before it hit the ground. If anyone had been standing in its path, that person would have been killed.

A geologist at Holland’s Naturalis Biodiversity Center hypothesized that the rock that formed the meteorite shook loose from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Still, experts are not sweating it.

“There are no known asteroids on a certain collision course,” former JPL researcher Alan Harris told Astrowatch.net. “Because of imperfectly known orbits, there are some that have a low probability of impact in the distant future, but at present none of the known asteroids has a probability of impact that exceeds the random chance of an undiscovered asteroid of the same size hitting the Earth sometime between now and the possible impact date of the imperfectly known object.”

Markets in Asia were mixed on Monday as traders watched for signals from central bankers' speeches.

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The Nikkei 225 (.N225) rose 0.41 percent, while South Korea's benchmark Kospi (.KS100) index reversed earlier losses to trade 0.08 percent higher.

The S&P/ASX 200 (.AXJO) declined 0.4 percent.

Greater China markets were mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (.HSI) edged higher by 0.08 percent. The Shanghai Composite (.SSEC) traded lower by 0.07 percent and the Shenzhen Composite added 0.073 percent.

Markets in Indonesia were closed for a public holiday.

© Provided by CNBC

The markets were keeping an eye on potential developments in central bank rhetoric, with the European Central Bank Forum currently taking place in Portugal and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen due to speak in London on Tuesday.

"Despite the plethora of central bankers on tap, it's unlikely there will be any revelations on monetary policy forthcoming. And given the proximity to the recent Federal Open Market Committee (meeting), there will certainly be no back pedaling from Dr. Yellen," OANDA Senior trader Stephen Innes said in a Tuesday note.

Investors were also digesting the outcome of the first meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump, which took place on Monday U.S. time. The two leaders discussed issues relating to trade and defense.

Japan's Toshiba (6502.T-JP) could sign an agreement for the sale of its memory chip unit to a government-led consortium as soon as Tuesday, the Nikkei reported. Western Digital (WDC), which jointly runs Toshiba's main semiconductor plant, remains opposed to the sale. Toshiba shares fell 2.28 percent.

Australian natural healthcare company Blackmores (BKL-AU) announced that Christine Holgate, the company's chief executive officer, would be leaving to head Australia Post. The company has asked Marcus Blackmore, its director, to take on the interim CEO position, while candidates are considered for the role of CEO. Shares of the company tumbled by 3.79 percent.

In energy news, increasing crude production and oversupply worries continued to weigh on the market. Brent crude futures inched higher by 0.09 percent to trade at $45.87 a barrel and U.S. crude futures traded 0.02 percent higher at $43.39.

In currency news, the dollar index (=USD), which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, was mostly flat at 97.413 at 9:35 a.m. HK/SIN. Against the yen, the dollar (JPY=) strengthened to trade around a five-week high at 111.99.

Gold prices tumbled by almost $20 an ounce during London trading hours, with spot gold trading as low as $1.236.46 an ounce. More than 1.8 million ounces of the yellow metal were traded within one minute, which was more than volumes traded during recent risk events, said ANZ Senior Economist Cherelle Murphy in a Tuesday morning note.

The move was possibly due to a mistake or human error, Reuters reported. Spot gold last traded at $1,242.40.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed after big name technology stocks traded lower. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 0.07 percent, or 14.79 points, at 21,409.55, the S&P 500 edged higher by 0.03 percent, or 0.77 point, to end at 2,439.07 and the Nasdaq declined 0.29 percent, or 18.1 points, to close at 6,247.15.

PAF airstrike Marawi © Provided by GMA News Online PAF airstrike Marawi

A cloud of smoke was seen billowing from an area in Marawi City during a military air strike on Tuesday morning as government forces continue to flush out holed up Maute group members.

The video above was taken a few kilometers away from the conflict zone.

Reporting from Marawi City, radio dzBB's Allan Gatus said that at past 8 a.m. at least eight bombs have been dropped by Philippine Air Force (PAF) planes over an area where Maute group members are believed to be holed up.

Gatus also shared on Twitter a footage of four PAF planes flying over the city.

The military said between 100 and 120 members of the Maute group are still in four villages in the besieged city.

The military said that as of June 25, a total of 290 terrorists have been killed in the ongoing conflict in the city.

A total of 70 soldiers and policemen and 27 civilians have also been killed.

The conflict entered its sixth week on Monday. It started on May 23 with the Maute group's attack, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao. —ALG, GMA News

MANILA, Philippines — Internet connects every single continent and island in the world. But how can everyone connect through the Internet without electricity?

Alicia Dumaran, a 47-year-old housewife living in Pamilacan Island, Bohol, now has the opportunity to enjoy and experience electrical appliances the whole day.

Through WeGen Distributed Energy Philippines, Pamilacan now has electricity to use.

"Napakalaking tulong para sa aming mga mamamayan ng isla na magkaroon ng kuryente dito. Maraming oportunidad ang magbubukas para sa amin," Dumaran told Philstar.com.

Back then, the island only experienced electricity from 6 p.m. to midnight because of generators, but they all know that it was not enough. It prevented them from having a decent way of life.

In a turnover ceremony held at the Pamilacan National High School, WeGen, a new company that began operating last 2016, unveiled a 39kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage system that would provide energy to at least 300 households in the island.

"This solar energy project shows how renewable energy combined with innovative technology can spur sustainable socio-economic development in a marginalized community," said WeGen chief executive officer and legal counsel Julito Sarmiento. The company, he said, "is proud of the role it played in fulfilling a dream for the Pamilacan community and we look forward to seeing better days on this island."

Maria Victoria Gursuta, the lone senior high school teacher in Pamilacan, said she can now supplement their classes with video presentations and now, the students can use computers. "Ngayon, wala nang 'for example, for example' makikita na ngayon ng estudyante mga gusto kong ipakita sa kanila."

The 10-million-peso solar energy project named "Kahayag sa Pamilacan" comprises 135 monocrystalline solar panels connected to deep-cycle silicon power maintenance-free and eco-friendly batteries with a capacity of 200 ampere hours. These solar panels are mounted on the rooftop of the Pamilacan National High School building, which was chosen for its ideal location and has been retrofitted to support the solar panels with a lifespan of at least 25 years.

The solar energy system shows how off-grid communities like Pamilacan can access clean energy through Stand-alone Island Solar Solutions in Distributed Energy Resources (DER), which generates resilient and renewable energy from decentralized sites such as rooftops combined with battery storage and software solutions.

The solar power system also serves as a shared investment with the island community because residents can earn extra income by selling excess energy to the grid, electric cooperatives, or the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

The Pamilacan residents will contribute to a solar trust fund that will be collected by the island's Electric Consumers Association for the repair, maintenance, and future expansion of the solar energy system with the goal of one day providing electricity to the island 24/7 as well as a seed capital for community livelihood, education, and health initiatives.

© Provided by The Philippines Star[Philstar Daily Inc.]
In a turnover ceremony held at the Pamilacan National High School, WeGen, a new company that began operating last 2016, unveiled a 39kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage system that would provide energy to at least 300 households in the island. Philstar.com/Jan Milo Severo
© Provided by The Philippines Star[Philstar Daily Inc.]
The solar energy system shows how off-grid communities like Pamilacan can access clean energy. Philstar.com/Jan Milo Severo
Thanks to electricity brought by solar panels, Maria Victoria Gursuta, the lone senior high school teacher in Pamilacan, said she can now supplement their classes with video presentations and now, the students can use computers. Philstar.com/Jan Milo Severo © Philstar.com Thanks to electricity brought by solar panels, Maria Victoria Gursuta, the lone senior high school teacher in Pamilacan, said she can now supplement their classes with video presentations and now, the students can use computers. Philstar.com/Jan Milo Severo
Cop mauls drunk man for peeing on his motorcycle (CCTV grab) © Provided by GMA News Online Cop mauls drunk man for peeing on his motorcycle (CCTV grab)

A man mauled by a policeman for peeing on the latter's motorcycle filed charges of physical injuries against the cop on Monday night.

According to a report on Unang Balita on Tuesday by Tricia Zafra, Ernesto Alimangohan was still in pain when he went to the Manila Police District (MPD) headquarters to file the charges.

Alimangohan was caught on closed-circuit television being led away by P02 Hernani delos Santos after the latter caught him peeing on the cop's motorcycle.

According to the victim, Delos Santos brought him to the back of a house where there was no CCTV then mauled him, and afterwards, threatened to kill him.

Alimangohan, who said he was drunk when he peed, said he approached the cop after the mauling to apologize.

However, Delos Santos threw ice on him and punched him again.

The MPD called for Delos Santos, who was assigned to Navotas Police, and gave him until 10 p.m. Monday to face the investigator. However, he did not show up.

Navotas Police chief Sr. Supt. Allen Ocden said Delos Santos has been removed from his post and is at the Northern Police District headquarters. —KG, GMA News

Graphics by Jannielyn Ann Bigtas © Provided by GMA News Online Graphics by Jannielyn Ann Bigtas

Motorcycle-riding gunmen fired at a detention facility in Talisay City, Cebu province early Tuesday.

A radio dzBB report said two gunmen riding a motorcycle fired at the Talisay City Jail at past 12 a.m.

Authorities recovered 14 empty shells of .45 pistols outside the detention facility.

No one was reported hurt in the attack.

Superintendent Gil Inopia, who had just assumed as jail warden, said the attack could have been prompted by the stricture rules and regulations that implemented when he assued the post.

Inopia said they have also been conducting stricter screening of items being sent to the inmates. He has also banned visitors who are not members of the inmates' immediate families.

The Talisay City police said they have obtained a CCTV camera footage of the shooting, which may lead to the identities of the shooters. —ALG, GMA News