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The biggest IT security breaches of all time

While are there so many companies out there who have sophisticated security methods, it still leaves us concerned as to the security of our own data in the hands of these large companies.

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It seems that you don’t have to look very far these days to see the impact of security breaches on our lives. We all have anxieties about our information being stolen or passed on to other resources. But while are there so many companies out there who have sophisticated security methods, it still leaves us concerned as to the security of our own data in the hands of these large companies. And while it may be an oversight to think that it’s just smaller companies who have limited protection methods, just because their finances are limited. In fact, it’s the big companies that we’ve got to keep an eye on.

There have been so many security breaches in the last few years, and here are some of the biggest.

Yahoo!

This giant of a company announced in September 2016 that a couple of years prior that they were the victim of a data breach. This was the biggest in all of history. Over three billion accounts had been hacked, including the real names, dates of birth, as well as email addresses and telephone numbers of Yahoo! users. In fact, they were subject to breaches in 2013 as well as 2014, where 500 million users were compromised.

eBay

The king of online auction sites reported in May 2014 that 145 million users (all of them) had their names, addresses, and dates of birth, as well as encrypted passwords, hacked. As a result, eBay asked its customers to change their passwords, but luckily the financial details were stored separately and weren’t subject to the hack. The biggest retail business hack of all time did result in a decline in user activity. What can we learn from this? Well, if you are a retail business, having different details stored on different devices is a common sense approach to undertake. While a lot of us feel we are doing enough to protect our data, it clearly shows that sites like eBay aren’t immune to cyberterrorism. Make the most of your resources, and companies like ATB Technologies have a resource library that we can all make use of. The scariest aspect of this hack is that the perpetrators had inside access for 229 days! They did this by using the credentials of 3 employees. If this isn’t the lesson in changing your password regularly, then who knows what it is?

Heartland Payment Systems

In March 2008, 134 million credit cards details were exposed via SQL Injection. It wasn’t discovered until January 2009, when MasterCard and Visa notified the company of questionable transactions through accounts they had processed. The vulnerability many businesses faced with regards to SQL Injection was nothing new, and in fact, security analysts had been warning retailers for many years prior to the attack. SQL injection was the most commonplace form of attack of the time.

FriendFinder

Adult content and casual hookup websites are ground feed for hackers. And the FriendFinder network was subject to a hack in the middle of October 2016, where user details were being leaked out of cybercrime forums. It transpired that the password protection algorithm was a weak one, the SHA-1 hashing algorithm resulted in 99% of the hacked passwords. Overall, 412 million accounts were hacked.

MySpace

Confined to the past now, MySpace was the giant of social media over a decade ago. This hack was partly the result of users being able to find out that they could embed their own content on their page, and instead of fixing the problem, the administrators of MySpace allowed it to happen. Overall, 316 million accounts were compromised. Email addresses, as well as usernames and poor passwords, highlighted that the breach was typical of the mid-2000s, not least because of the references to Blink 182. Those were the days, eh?

Equifax

Consumer credit reporting agency Equifax reported in September 2017 that a security breach took place from May until July! In total, 145 million users were affected by the security breach. While it’s not the largest of data breaches, the sensitive nature of information, from birth dates, social security numbers, and even driver license numbers could have resulted in many perpetrators committing fraud by posing as those users to set up agreements like mortgages, loans, or credit cards.

Target Stores

American retail giant Target had 110 million records hacked. This occurred during the post Thanksgiving shopping surge. In 2013, hackers had infected the payment card readers, resulting in them escaping with 40 million credit and debit card numbers. In addition to this, contact information had been compromised, with over 70 million customers names, addresses and telephone numbers stolen.

National Archive And Records Administration

It’s important to remember that not all data breaches are the result of criminals. In 2008, a hard drive at the NARA, containing the private information of 76 million American military veterans, was sent off to repair after it stopped working. Rather than being destroyed on site, a government contractor sent this drive out to be scrapped. However, it transpired that it was unclear as to whether the drive was destroyed or not. After an investigation, the NARA changed its policies relating to the destruction of storage devices containing sensitive information. While it’s argued that a data breach did not occur, the fact that the company changed its policies speaks volumes.

Home Depot

The result of infection at the point of sale systems in this hardware supply store in April or May of 2014, this resulted in customer credit and debit cards being stolen. The malware in question pretended to be an antivirus package. This was the largest steal of payment cards resulting from a direct attack on a company. Although luckily, this didn’t deter customers.

Anthem

This healthcare company admitted that in February 2015, 80 million records were stolen by hackers. The attack was a result of phishing emails that was sent to five employees. As is the typical setup of phishing scams, these employees downloaded Trojan software, resulting in the attackers obtaining passwords. This company is a parent of healthcare providers like Blue Shield, and the theft of millions of medical records was thought to be worth 10 times the amount of the credit card information.

Uber

In October 2016, the details of 57 million drivers were hacked via Uber engineers’ credentials from a GitHub account. Uber didn’t reveal this information until November 2017. Instead, the company tried to keep it under wraps and paid the hackers $100,000 to stop them releasing the data. This doesn’t seem to have deterred the businesses dominance over the taxi market.

Sony Pictures

One of the more famous in recent years, the staff at Sony Pictures Entertainment had their computer screens hijacked by a grinning skull. This was the result of a group called Guardians of Peace, threatening to release company information if certain demands were not met. Unpublished scripts, internal passwords, as well as emails and passports belonging to actors and internal workers, showed up on file sharing sites. In addition to this, four unreleased Sony movies were released, including the Seth Rogen vehicle The Interview (51% on Rotten Tomatoes!). In total, over $100 million of monetary damages were estimated as a result of this hack.

Pizza Hut

It’s not always the most straightforward of businesses that get hacked. This pizza chain revealed that its website and app were hacked in October 2017, resulting in personal information being compromised. It’s unclear how many customers were affected, but roughly 60,000 US customers have been reported as having had their billing information, including email addresses and delivery addresses, stolen.

Bupa

This British health insurance provider suffered a data breach in July 2017, not as a direct result of an external cyber criminal, but an employee. This Bupa worker copied and removed sensitive information, but no medical information was released. Although, names, dates of birth, and some minimal contact information were removed. In total, 500,000 customers were affected.

Wonga

This payday loan company was affected by 245,000 customers having extremely sensitive information, including bank account numbers, stolen. The company has not divulged where this took place, but this was the result of the company not realizing that data could be accessed externally until April 2017.

Nationwide Building Society

It seems that not even your money is safe. An unencrypted laptop was stolen from a company employee in this UK building society, compromising the personal information of 11 million customers! The Financial Services Authority fined Nationwide Building Society £980,000, which was the record for data loss penalty at the time, but it’s nice to know that your money is being well looked after, isn’t it?

This is a concern for every person in the world, from business owners to customers. While there’s only so much we can do to take our law into our own hands, this reinforces the notion that we’ve got to be on top of our form data, from passwords and email addresses. It’s important to get clued up in what you can do to protect your data, but, unfortunately, we need to trust those that are handling sensitive data. Instead, it’s best to refuse as much personal information as you can when filling out forms online. These are the biggest breaches of all time, and it’s a sign of the modern world.

Technology

Tinder is a waste of time for most people

Female Tinder users are, on average, more interested in finding long-term relationships than men are. This also applies to encounters without using dating apps.

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Photo by Marjan Grabowski from Unsplash.com

“For people who don’t pull off one-night stands without using Tinder, Tinder doesn’t offer much in the way of new opportunities,” says postdoc Trond Viggo Grøntvedt, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Psychology.

He is the first author of a new article – titled “Hook, Line and Sinker: Do Tinder Matches and Meet Ups Lead to One-Night Stands?” – that appeared in Evolutionary Psychological Science to deal with the use of Tinder. If you’re failing outside Tinder, then you don’t have much to gain from using Tinder, either.

Other authors include: Mons Bendixen, Ernst O. Botnen and Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair

“For people who actually have sexual relations outside Tinder, Tinder use only provides a limited increase in the number of one-night stands,” Grøntvedt says.

“Most of the people who succeed on Tinder have casual sex and hook-ups otherwise, too,” says Kennair at the Department of Psychology at NTNU.

The researchers have previously found that Tinder use did not lead to an increase in one-night stands.

“We have found little reason to claim that dating apps lead to more short-term sexual relationships than before,” says Bendixen, also in NTNU’s Department of Psychology.

There is thus no reason for any moral outrage from anyone.

Swiping

Tinder is one of several match-making apps. It uses location services to find other users nearby and then tries to match users with each other.

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Selecting someone is simple and effective: candidates pop up with a picture and some information on the screen. Swiping to the left means you’re not interested in a meet-up. Swiping to the right means you would like to meet the person. If two people swipe right on each other, the app can help them meet.

But sweeping and searching on Tinder has very limited effectiveness for the vast majority of users, who will probably succeed just as well by meeting live people instead.

Lots of hits needed

A lot of hits are needed on Tinder before any lead to a meeting. And even more hits are required before any kind of relationship can happen, whether we’re talking about a one-night stand or a meeting a partner with the aim of having a long-term committed relationship.

Men and women tend to use Tinder and other dating apps differently. Most women take more time to evaluate potential matches and are more often looking for a relationship, whereas most men are quicker in their assessments and swipe to the right far more often in the hope that a high enough number will result in at least one hit.

About 20 per cent of users had one-night stands after using Tinder. The vast majority of them had only experienced this once. Thus, eight of ten users never have sex after using the app.

“Tinder may offer new sexual opportunities, but these appear to be very limited,” says Kennair.

Only a tiny group of seven people, between two and three per cent of the study participants, had one-night stands exclusively after meeting someone through Tinder. The rest achieved this by traditional dating methods as well.

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Participants were asked to evaluate how physically attractive they found themselves to be. How physically attractive users are can predict the extent to which they succeed in having short-term sex when using Tinder.

“But this also applies when you’re not using dating apps. Some people get a lot, and a lot get none,” says Kennair.

“Both age and attitudes towards casual sex affect how often you actually achieve a one-night stand after using Tinder. But these are the same factors that play in elsewhere as well,” Grøntvedt says.

If you are more comfortable with casual sex, you’ll also have it more often.

“But there’s also a connection between a high interest in short-term sex encounters and less chance of meeting someone interested in a long-term relationship through the use of the dating app,” says Bendixen.

Female Tinder users are, on average, more interested in finding long-term relationships than men are. This also applies to encounters without using dating apps.

But according to this and previous studies, Tinder is not a very effective way to meet a long-term partner, either.

Ernst Olav Botnen had the idea for this study. He is currently a clinical psychologist at Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital in Oslo.

“It’s interesting to see how the behaviour we see in other arenas, like bars and nightclubs, is reflected in dating apps,” says Botnen.

Of the 269 study participants who were active or former Tinder users, 62 per cent were women.

“Since the participants in our selection are university students in their early 20s, it will be interesting to see if our findings apply to other groups and age ranges in future research,” Botnen says.

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Technology

4 Best apps and tools that have made our lives easier

If you are here to learn about the best apps and tools that can actually make your daily tasks more manageable, then you have come to the right place.

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Photo by Neil Soni from Unsplash.com

We are always looking for tools and software that will make our daily grind a bit easier. Fortunately, every day, different tools and apps are launched in the market to facilitate our daily tasks. However, with an overwhelming number of applications available out there, sometimes it can become tough to choose a few that are really helpful for you.

But don’t worry, we have got you covered. If you are here to learn about the best apps and tools that can actually make your daily tasks more manageable, then you have come to the right place. Below in this article, we’ve mentioned our tops picks that you need to know about too. So, to learn about these amazing tools and apps, be sure to read this article till the end! 

Grammarly

Whether you are a student, entrepreneur, or a professional writer, you want to make sure that your writing is easy to read and error-free, right? Let’s be real, despite being English our native language sometimes we make silly grammatical and spelling mistakes. An online grammar checker and free Chrome plug-in help you fix punctuation, critical grammar, and spelling errors. With Grammarly’s premium version, you can even check for plagiarism, wordiness, and much more. The premium version costs between $11.66 and $29.95 per month, depending on how you pay. 

Soda PDF

Soda PDF is software that offers users both an online and desktop PDF solution with a range of useful PDF tools. When it comes to the online version of the soda pdf, it enables you to use features on any web browser and device. The desktop version, on the other hand, let you work on your files online by allowing you to download the application. Whether you’re a student or running a business, this application will enable you to convert, create, edit, split, merge, secure, review, and sign your PDFs on any of your devices. 

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Boomerang for Gmail

This email tool was much needed and is very convenient for all who have their Gmail accounts. Before this Gmail update, we always wished to have a tool that allows us to schedule our mails. Well, it seems likes our wish came true. Boomerang for Gmail will enable you to schedule your emails for a future time and date. Plus, it also keeps your inbox more manageable by scheduling an email to disappear and come back later at a scheduled time and date. Amazing! Right? Now you do not have to worry about your email replies anymore because boomerang for Gmail has got you covered. 

Glympse

This fantastic free GPS locator application is helping friends and family all over the world check in with each other. This application goes far beyond static “check-ins” or a simple map showing your location. It allows both Android and iPhone users to update their status quickly so they can let their online friends know about their real-time movements on this dynamic map, but for a set period. Now your spouse can know what time you are expected to get back home from your work. Moreover, you can also request the location of your teenager kid without invading their privacy. 

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Technology

Gay social network Blued highlights U=U in #WAD2019 campaign

Blued has set out to combat stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV by highlighting the advocacy’s most revolutionary message to date: U=U.

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For this year’s World AIDS Day, the world’s leading gay social app Blued has set out to combat stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV by highlighting the advocacy’s most revolutionary message to date: U=U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable).

Presented in 2018 during the 22nd International AIDS Conference, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the PARTNER (Partners of People on ART: a New Evaluation of the Risks) 2 study, which tracked 783 gay male couples for 8 years, discovered that “no HIV-positive partner with an undetectable viral load infected his HIV-negative sex mate through 77,000 episodes of anal sex without condoms”.  

The report further discusses:

“The analysis involved 783 gay couples at 55 clinics in 14 European countries; 89% of initially HIV-negative men were white. When they entered the study, HIV-negative men had a median age of 38 years and had practiced condomless sex for a median of 1 year. During 1.6 years of follow-up, these men had a median of 43 condomless sex acts per year and an estimated total 76,940 sexual encounters without condoms. Initially HIV-positive men had a median baseline age of 40 years, had taken ART for a median of 4 years, and 98% reported at least 90% antiretroviral adherence. Only 2% of HIV-positive men said they missed ART for more than four consecutive days.”

This message continues to be relevant in the Philippines, with new infections exploding by 208% from 2010 to 2018, versus the global decline by 18%. The most vulnerable demographic are men who have sex with men, aged between 15-34. 

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With a lack of access to HIV resources and testing facilities, coupled with miseducation and stigma, the numbers to continue to rise among this segment of the population.

Blued is the world’s largest gay social network with more than 40 million users around the globe and over one million users in the Philippines. Blued positions itself as a social media mobile application that allows the LGBTQI community to discover and share geo-localized content (friends, events, news, talent shows, et cetera). Blued eyes to improve the quality of life of the community around the world through its strength in mobile technologies. 

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NEWSMAKERS

Race-based discrimination, stereotypes still ubiquitous in online communities and mobile apps

The degree to which racial and ethnic minorities perceive race-based partner selection as racist often gets overshadowed by “personal preference” narratives.

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Race-based discrimination and stereotypes are ubiquitous in the online communities and mobile apps that gay and bisexual men use to search for sexual and romantic partners, research indicates.

But because racialized sexual discrimination – also called sexual racism – is a relatively new area of study, researchers currently don’t have a tool for measuring its impact on the well-being of men of color who use these websites, according to University of Illinois social work professor Ryan Wade.

Wade and Gary W. Harper, a professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan, have developed a scale to help researchers better understand how the psychological well-being of ethnic minorities is affected by RSD experiences.

Wade presented their latest research on the topic at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Philadelphia on Nov. 6. He and Harper are the co-authors of a new study, a comprehensive review of prior research on RSD that was published recently in the American Journal of Community Psychology.

Wade and Harper found that RSD emerges in a variety of forms and contexts in these online communities and, less often, when men meet potential partners in person. These include prominent statements in users’ online profiles that express inclusionary or exclusionary racial preferences for potential partners.

The researchers note that these race-based preferences – usually expressed by the white majority seeking to exclude people of color – are a common part of the narrative within these online spaces.

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However, the degree to which racial and ethnic minorities perceive race-based partner selection as racist gets overshadowed by these personal preference narratives, Wade said.

Whiteness is the hallmark of desirability for some participants in these networks, and some researchers have called race-based partner selection “the new face of racism in online sexual and dating networks of gay/bisexual men,” according to Wade and Harper’s study.

RSD also emerges in statements that reject, erotically objectify or denigrate men of color and perpetuate stereotypes about their perceived sexual prowess, sexual roles or physical attributes.

Wade and Harper hypothesize that exposure to these experiences may foment feelings of shame, humiliation and inferiority, negatively impacting the self-esteem and overall psychological health of racial and ethnic minorities.

“We ran a series of focus groups to talk about this phenomenon, to determine the different domains it includes and to identify RSD-related experiences that could be measured,” Wade said.

Using information gathered from focus group participants, Wade and Harper developed a scale of RSD that categorized men’s experiences into four domains – exclusion, rejection, degradation and erotic objectification.

The scale consists of 60 items that assess a broad scope of unique RSD experiences across all four of the hypothesized domains, accounting for the effect and frequency of these experiences and the perpetrator’s race.

“RSD perpetrated by in-group members – people of their same race – came up as a major point in our focus group discussions,” Wade said. “Participants discussed how being discriminated against by people of their own racial or ethnic group hurt in a unique way, so we wanted to account for that too when developing the scale.”

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The overall impact of any given RSD experience is measured by multiplying the frequency and effect scores for each domain, Wade said.

To test the scale, Wade and Harper launched a project called ProfileD, in which they recruited young gay and bisexual black men ages 18-29 through social media to participate in an online survey about their RSD experiences.

Data from more than 2,000 participants who consented to be in that project were used in preliminary analyses of the scale.

Discrimination among apps users is not exactly new.

In October 2019, for instance, a study found that Grindr, the most popular dating app for gay, bisexual, two-spirit and queer men, had a negative effect on men’s body image, especially when it came to weight. The study also found that apart from weight stigma, body dissatisfaction stemmed from sexual objectification and appearance comparison.

Three out of four gay men are reported to have used Grindr.

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Technology

7 Reasons why solar panels are the future of commercial energy production

A number of major corporations have recently begun basing most of their operations on renewable energy, and there’s been a sharp, year-after-year increase in the number of commercial solar installations being commissioned.

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Energy production and expenditure are always important topics for business owners and managers to consider due to the fact that every company requires a certain amount of power or fuel to operate. As a result, entrepreneurs and CEOs are always looking for ways to reduce their companies’ utility bills. Of course, one obvious way to do that is to install a solar panel system that will completely eliminate your company’s monthly electricity expenses in the long-term. 

Despite the fact that installing solar panels makes a lot of common sense and is just the right thing to do overall – both ethically and financially in most cases – the vast majority of the world’s companies still operate using conventionally produced power supplied by their local grid. However, a number of major corporations have recently begun basing most of their operations on renewable energy, and there’s been a sharp, year-after-year increase in the number of commercial solar installations being commissioned. 

With that said, here are seven reasons why solar panels are definitely the future of commercial energy production:

1. General Cost-Effectiveness

Companies can exist for decades or even hundreds of years, continually consuming electricity throughout the length of numerous human generations consecutively. Solar panel systems can be purchased and installed using lines of credit or financing options, which means that the upfront cost for installing solar is becoming cheaper as the market becomes more competitive and more alternative lenders enter the funding space as investors. 

These factors combine to form a scenario in which it makes perfect long-term financial sense for companies to upgrade to solar as soon as possible. In fact, according to Semper Solaris, which is one of California’s leading providers of solar panels, the state has seen a boom in the number of businesses that are ditching the grid and switching to full solar setups. They’ve been able to stand at the forefront of the commercial solar trend in their region by offering a full catalog of solar panel installation configurations that precisely accommodate the energy needs of any business. 

A number of major corporations have recently begun basing most of their operations on renewable energy, and there’s been a sharp, year-after-year increase in the number of commercial solar installations being commissioned.

2. Business Owners are More Progressive Than Typical Consumers

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Since businesses have an undeniable incentive to continually search for refinements that will increase their bottom lines, it stands to reason that entrepreneurs would be more savvy and progressive than the average consumer. 

As such, the rate of technological adoption is much higher among business owners than it is among the general population. After all, the amount that you stand to save as a business is much greater than the small savings that a homeowner would enjoy by making energy-efficient adjustments.

3. Limiting Third-Party Dependence

The concept of corporate self-sufficiency is really taking off because business owners are learning about the dangers of building a home on someone else’s property. Essentially, that means you shouldn’t rely too heavily on any service provider, partner, supplier, or other entity. 

While it’s impossible to stand alone as an island in business, there are certain expenses and risks that you can mitigate or eliminate altogether, and having to pay for electricity for the duration of your company’s existence is one of those unnecessary factors that can be crossed off of the list. 

As entrepreneurs continue to realize the inherent benefits of freeing themselves from grid dependency, it is inevitable that a growing percentage of entrepreneurs will use some of their initial seed funding to pay a solar company for the installation of free and clean energy production systems. 

4. Environmental Responsibilities

Every business has to consider the impact it is having on the environment, not only for moral and ethical reasons, but also for the sake of positive PR. Did you know that Apple is now 100% powered by renewable energy? In fact, many of their customers are attracted not only by the existing popularity of their iPhone and MacBook device lines, but also because they’re one of the only tech manufacturers that can make such a bold claim. 

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Likewise, Google has taken the more indirect approach of buying enough solar energy to offset their annual electricity usage. Since businesses try to emulate the success of their highest-ranking competitors, we’ve seen a wave of other tech companies following suit in switching their manufacturing and distribution practices to rely to fully solar-powered processes. 

5. Solar Radiation is the Most Abundant Form of Available Energy

The sun’s rays are constantly washing over more than 50% of the Earth’s surface at any given time. Mathematicians have calculated the total solar power generating capacity of the entire planet and just a few years of collecting solar energy at a maximum rate would give us enough stored energy to power a civilization the size of our current global society for a span of hundreds or thousands of years. 

As finite natural resources like fossil fuels continue to become increasingly expensive and competitively pollutive relative to the other green products and technologies on the market, it won’t be long before the race to occupy optimal solar-harvesting land begins. When that happens, companies will look for ways to create innovative solar arrays that can gather sunlight from multiple angles within multi-story structures. Companies will also start developing satellite based solar arrays that are able to collect solar energy from more spots in Earth’s orbit because sunlight extends beyond the horizon, which brings us to our next point. 

6. Solar Energy is Available Everywhere, Even in Space

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Most forms of energy production take place under very specific circumstances and in locations that have been specifically designed to carry out complex process. For example, to generate unclear energy, you need a nuclear power plant; to generate hydro-electric energy, you need a dam. Solar panels utilize the sun’s ubiquitous energy without the requirement for any significant building or infrastructure projects beyond the assembly and installation processes. There are very few locational limitations on solar energy, and as it doesn’t require massive investments to establish, utility providers of the future may see the value in establishing regional solar arrays rather than building more power plants. Plus, since many of the world’s richest people are heavily invested in the development of space travel and exploration, eventually we may see the need for space-bound solar power stations or even planetary solar arrays. 

As finite natural resources like fossil fuels continue to become increasingly expensive and competitively pollutive relative to the other green products and technologies on the market, it won’t be long before the race to occupy optimal solar-harvesting land begins.

7. Subsidization Programs and the Collective Effort to Save the Planet

It has been said many times that we are the only species that can destroy the planet, but it’s worth noting that we are also the only species capable of saving it with the power of minds alone. Many politicians and regulators aren’t exactly the most progressive or empathetic people, but they still need to align with public opinion in order to receive votes and support. 

That means that, gradually, as more voters start to hold environmental issues with higher regard, more politicians and regulators will have to appeal to this growing audience to win elections and continue their careers. As a result, we’ve seen many subsidization programs launched to create positive environmental and economic effects, which are goals that every politician wants to deliver on, or at least promise. 

The Bottom Line is: Businesses Want Lower Bottom Lines

In business, the term “bottom line” means the amount of profit you’re making after all expenses, investments and other costs have been taken into account. Energy bills create a huge dent in every company’s bottom line, which can be corrected in the long-term by switching to solar power. 

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Is Lara Croft an LGBTQ+ icon?

Lara Croft paved the way for female representation in action games and movies, and in doing so created an icon and ally for the LGBTQ+ community. While her tomb raiding days are still ongoing, the wealth of other games means that so many more people can find characters that resonate with who they are.

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Screencap from "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" (2001)

Lara Croft is one of the most recognizable and popular characters to ever be created. Whether fans know her from the classic PlayStation games, from the Angelina Jolie films, or even from the remake with Alicia Vikander, Lara Croft is an icon. While female gamers are more aplenty today, back in the early days of gaming, every corner was nearly entirely male-dominated. So Lara Croft was created to appeal to every gamer. As such, she fell between the two demographics and became a broad church to many, but a very niche fandom for some.

While the tomb raiding heroine offers some much-needed female representation in the action genre, is she also an LGBTQ+ icon?

Who becomes and who doesn’t become a queer icon is unpredictable, but since her debut in 1996, Lara Croft has proven she has the mettle to do more than just raid tombs. Action games are coded with high masculinity, so offering a female counterpart helps to take some of the testosterone out of the equation and offer a different kind of character. It has been well documented that LGBTQ+ identifying people are more likely to choose the female character in games – from Princess Peach to Coco Bandicoot and Eevee.

Women in games are often underappreciated, which helps the LGBTQ+ community identify with them. The disregarding of traditional femininity to be an adventurer also bridges the gap towards androgyny. Lara Croft eschews what is expected of her to do what she really wants to do – a trait that is both admirable and holds a deeper meaning for a lot of LGBTQ+ members of society.

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But, while there has been wider representation as of late and a more welcoming eye on all communities since 1996, Lara Croft and the strength she embodies still pervades in all forms of gaming today. As the Lara Croft Tomb Raider slot game at LeoVegas Casino shows, that utilises popular themes, artwork, and motifs from the franchise, the theme is still a popular one, still succeeding in offering something different for players. The fact that so long after her debut, and with so many more options available, Lara Croft is still the go-to franchise for many people, helps to prove her appeal.

While some of the marketing may look at Lara Croft through a male lens and focus on her physicality, for queer people, the adventurous nature that contrasts with this image helped cement her as a heroine. The 2013 reboot, written by Rhianna Pratchett, strands Lara on an island with nobody else except Samantha. Her mission becomes to keep Samantha safe and illustrates the true power in their sisterhood.

Lara Croft paved the way for female representation in action games and movies, and in doing so created an icon and ally for the LGBTQ+ community. While her tomb raiding days are still ongoing, the wealth of other games means that so many more people can find characters that resonate with who they are. There wouldn’t be as much representation across gaming had it not being for Lara Croft and the temples she raided, and the doors she unlocked.

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