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Most of us have become used to sitting for extended periods of time suspended in 60-ton metal machines. Aside from hearing the compulsory airplane safety warnings at takeoff, most people don’t think much about how flying impacts our bodies and minds. But some pretty weird stuff happens when we’re seven miles above sea level: Air pressure drops, our taste buds go partially numb, our skin dries out, and some of us cry. Actually, many of us do. Virgin Atlantic conducted a Facebook survey in 2011 that found 55 percent of respondents said their emotions were heightened on flights. In response, the airline introduced “weepy warnings” before particularly sad movies in-flight. But why do we weep once in the air?

While peer-reviewed studies on the science behind the “Mile Cry Club” are few and far between, scientists across fields from film to psychology to medicine have taken interest in the topic. And while they haven’t identified a definitive cause, researchers think it’s likely a combination of oxygen deprivation, dehydration, and stress.

As planes ascend to their cruising altitudes, air pressure drops–that’s why our ears pop–to levels equivalent to the outside air pressure you’d experience while hiking through the mountains in the Swiss Alps (6,000-8,000 feet above sea level). This resulting low cabin air pressure causes a reduction in the amount of oxygen carried in our blood, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia has a slew of potential symptoms, including fatigue, confusion, impaired decision-making, and notably, it wreaks with our ability to handle emotion.

On top of this, the air conditioning systems on airplanes dries the air until there’s 25 to 30 percent less humidity, causing dehydration (which explains why we get drunk more quickly inflight).

While mild hypoxia won’t impair a healthy person very much (a good thing, considering pilots operate under these conditions routinely), Jochen Hinkelbein, a Berlin-based medical researcher and president of the Society for Aerospace Medicine, says that hypoxia makes us more vulnerable to psychological and physical changes. He added that though he’s perfectly healthy, he often falls asleep during takeoff because of these dramatic pressure and humidity changes, which both can make you feel dizzy and tired.

These physiological changes may then lay the groundwork for our brains to start considering our uncomfortable surroundings. Though passengers may not be conscious of their emotional vulnerability, our brains are working overtime on airplanes due to claustrophobia, travel stress, and fatigue, according to clinical psychologist Jodi De Luca of Erie Colorado Counseling.

“We have little control over our environment while we are traveling by plane,” says De Luca, who studies the impact living in a high-altitude mountainous region has on mental health. All of these stressors trigger some people’s fight-or-flight response, she says.

This causes the body to produce more stress hormones called cortisol which influence our emotions by increasing our blood pressure and heart rate, making us less able to cope with them. Couple that with some oxygen deprivation, dehydration, and a corny movie, and it’s no wonder Virgin Atlantic reported that “41 percent of men surveyed said they hid under blankets to hide their tears.” It might also explain why toddlers, who are prone to temper tantrums anyway, are even more likely to fall into a deconstructive crying fit while on board a flight. Though, no studies have explicitly studied this connection.

Stephen Groening, a professor of Comparative Literature, Cinema, and Media at the University of Washington, has been studying this phenomenon in the context of in-flight entertainment for years. He says the content of films people report crying during doesn’t matter. Most recently, his friend told him that he wept watching Thor on a flight to Australia. He thinks another contributing factor is the environment travelers find themselves in. When we watch movies on the plane, we’re much closer to screens—and people—than we’re used to.

“It’s not so much about the content, it’s about being in a situation where you’re isolated, but at the same time you’re surrounded by strangers,” Groening says. “You have this physical closeness for an extended period of time that you don’t have in any other situation.”

While there’s no definitive mechanism scientists can point to just yet, most researchers surmise that it might just be a combination of all these factors that give us the weeps. This subconscious discomfort, combined with the physical changes Hinkelbein describes, likely explains why we cry on planes, explains Groening.

De Luca concurs: “Emotions govern our lives more than we know, and our environment influences our emotions more than we realize.”

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Why We Need To Focus More On Customer Engagement

It”€™s perhaps hard to imagine now, but even just four years ago, talk of customer engagement was a bit of a rarity. It is only a couple of years ago  I did an interview with Dave where we discussed definitions and the scope of customer engagement.

There are many excellent reasons why businesses now focus on engagement. This year”€™s Annual Customer Engagement Report reveals some of the most important, for example “€˜increasing customer value”€™, “€˜gaining customer insights”€™, “€˜increasing value delivered to the customer”€™ etc as shown in the chart below:

However while any or all of these are excellent outcomes from engagement they are rarely the best place to start when developing a robust customer engagement strategy. For that we need to understand the four main challenges to engagement that have come to define customer relationships this millennium.

1. Our customers are increasingly distracted

We are currently living in the most information rich, attention demanding, message laden, multi-channel time that has ever existed. One recent study even indicated that the average length of uninterrupted time for a desk-based worker was just 2.7 minutes.

So the first major challenge any customer engagement strategy must take is cutting through this distraction to convey the value of our business “€“ not just once but again and again, because engagement is built on repeated interactions. [The definition of Customer Engagement we use is: “€˜Repeated interactions that strengthen the emotional, psychological and physical investment a customer has in a brand (product or company)”€™.]

Solution: The primary tactics to embrace to meet the challenge of customer distraction are simplicity and persuasion.

Simplicity is achieved by focusing our efforts on our customers”€™ scarcest resource. For one customer segment that might be time, for another it might be mental effort. People tend to find things simple that they do over and over again, if you can piggyback an already existing customer routine the chances are you more likely to engage them.

Based on an understanding of customer psychology, persuasion recognises that our customers navigate all the distractions they face by looking for short cuts to establish if something is valuable “€“ for example: If other customers are using using/buying a product it must be useful. Highlighting things that help our customers take these short cuts means a customer is less likely to pass over us and our product.

2. Our customers have increased expectations

Solution: Expectations can be met by increasing the relevance of our product, service and communications. While time spent on gaining a deeper understanding of you audience doesn”€™t always pay dividends, using that understanding to develop a framework for personalisation does. Focus on establishing what the right-channel is, the right-timing and right-messaging for each customer segment as a first step.

3. Our customers are listening to new models of authority

Trust in old forms of authority: politicians, businesses, academics, scientists etc have continued to decline and in their place new models of authority have arisen. Encyclopaedias are replaced by Wikipedia, Bank Managers are replaced by MoneySavingExperts and Travel Agents are replaced by Trip Advisors. The common element in many of these new authorities is people supporting and trusting each other.

Any Customer Engagement strategy needs to understand and address this shift in trust relations if it is to have long-term value.

4. Our customers are establishing new communities

With the new sources of authority come new ways of connecting. The challenge for those interested in Customer Engagement is how do we join the discussions within these communities without coming across as outsiders wishing to disrupt the conversation. The language of customer-to-customer exchange is often difficult to learn and even harder to articulate business needs through.

Solution: Again the key to participating in the new communities is to add value. While supporting or hosting a customer community can be an excellent way of establishing a community the best way to engage community participants is usually to open channels back into your business. Providing access to the product developers or the company decision-makers that can offer insights into how and why things work the way they do and is often deeply engaging for customers.

While the tactics used for engagement will vary over time and audience these four challenges are universal and any customer engagement strategy that starts from the perspective of addressing them will have an excellent chance of long-term success.

Far Cry 5 Error Granite On Windows 10/11

Far Cry 5 Error Granite on Windows 10/11 [Successful Fix]






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readers this month.

Lately, it seems hard to put ‘Ubisoft‘ and ‘well-optimized error-free game‘ in the same sentence. The latest AAA title, Far Cry 5 has its share of issues, and one of the gravest and most persistent errors bears the codename Granite.

This error completely disrupts game saves, and users are constantly forced to start from scratch. Luckily, some solutions emerged and we enlisted them below.

If you’re affected by this error, just give them a try.

How to fix Granite error (Granite:2000000) on Far Cry 5? 1: Verify the game’s integrity

Since it seems that this error mostly plagues uPlay users (Ubisoft Launcher) and not Steam users, that’s where our focus goes.

The first obvious thing you should try is checking the game installation for corruption.

This can be done within the uPlay desktop client. Once you run the tool, it’ll check for possible corruption and replace the broken files.

Here’s how to run it:

2: Delete saved games and change Save location

As the affected users probably are well aware, the Granite error breaks save game progress and users get back to the start every time. Only to get kicked off the new session and get back to start again.

For some reason, this occurs due to the game’s inability to access the Save Games folder. It looks like some limitations are imposed on it, even if that’s not the case for any other game.

READ ALSO: 12 best Windows 10 RPG games to play in 2023

In order to avoid this, you can backup your saved games and delete the save games folder.

Now, you can create it on any other location and use a configuration file to point the game in that alternative direction.

Expert tip:

3: Start uPlay client in offline mode and run uPlay as admin

Starting the uPlay client in the Offline mode is another thing you could try. This seemingly helped more than a few users and the Granite error was addressed.

You can do so by giving the uPlay launcher administrative permission.

Here’s how to start uPlay in the Offline mode:

And this is how to grant it the administrative permission:

4: Reinstall the uPlay

Finally, if none of the previous steps got you out of the slump, we recommend reinstalling the uPlay client.

Furthermore, in order to avoid possible issues, it’s suggested to clear all remaining associated files and start from a scratch.

Of course, avoid deleting other games or at least move their installations to an alternative partition.

Once you’ve reinstalled the game and uPlay, sign in, point out to Far Cry 5 directory (you won’t need to download the game anew), and start the game.


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Why Internet Explorer Is Getting More Dangerous

While the majority of moderately Internet-savvy people use other browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Maxthon, and (occasionally) Opera, it’s easy to forget that a significant amount of people (roughly a quarter) use Internet Explorer as of December 2024.

Even though there is technically nothing wrong with using Internet Explorer as one’s browser – particularly because Microsoft recently started to catch up with the innovations of other browsers – it’s still notorious for being one of the most buggy and unsafe browsers on the web. Because of its insistence on keeping older and rarely-used application features, IE isn’t necessarily the best browser to use in the most dubious neighborhoods of the Internet. To top it all off, an announcement by Microsoft in 2014 made everything even more unsafe.

Who’s in Danger?

First of all, I would like to clarify things and say that not all versions of IE are unsafe. The people in danger are the 55 percent who are using versions 8, 9, and 10 of Microsoft’s browser. This is because of an announcement made by the company on August 2014, setting the end of support date for these versions at 12 January 2024. Aside from the fact that Internet Explorer continues to retain a considerable market share of the Internet browsing experience around the world (particularly, and oddly enough, in Japan), it’s important to note that 55 percent is a sufficiently high proportion of people using older versions to start an epidemic of attacks.

If you happen to be using one of these versions of IE, you should know that you are much more likely at this point to leave your system vulnerable by not upgrading. As time passes, the situation will only worsen.

What This All Means

Typically, when support ends for a particular version of software, hackers begin to investigate all the vulnerabilities that were not patched up until the date in which the developers flipped the “off” switch. Having this kind of information comes with the inevitable temptation to put it into action.

Experts predict that those continuing to use older versions of IE will experience more hijacking attempts due to the lack of support combined with the rate at which it is still being used. Most likely, enterprising hackers will start making (or stealing) a list of all the vulnerabilities that versions 8, 9, and 10 of Internet Explorer have. Once they’ve conjured up all the possible angles of attack, the attacks will commence, starting with attempts to inject code and gain access to the system through the browser. Everything and anything is possible. This is IE we’re talking about, and predecessors to version 11 have been known to contain features and frameworks that gain fundamental access to Windows, making it possible for hackers to tunnel their attacks through your entire system.

In short, running the versions of Internet Explorer that have given it its reputation as the most vulnerable browser in the world isn’t the brightest idea.

What You Can Do

The first suggestion that comes to mind is to upgrade your browser to version 11 if you do not want to download an alternative. As for people running Windows versions older than Windows 7 (meaning you won’t be able to run IE 11), you will have to start looking at the alternatives mentioned at the beginning of this article. If you’re not using IE, you can still do your bit and send a link to this article to every person you know that might be using it.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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How To Check If You’re Running 64

Google has announced that it’ll be auto-migrating 64-bit Windows users to the 64-bit version of Google Chrome. If you’re moderately clued up about computers, you’ll probably know whether or not your CPU and OS are 64-bit.

If in doubt, to check how many bits your CPU is, go to “System Information” in Windows, take a look at “System Type” and see if it says “x64-based PC” or “x86” – the latter means you have a 32-bit PC and can’t use 64-bit apps. To check the bits of your OS, go to “System” and see what it says next to “System type.” If you’re 64-bit on both counts, you’re good to go.

But there’s a little bit more to getting your hands on 64-bit apps, as they’re rarely the default option when you download them. Here we’ll show you how to find out what bit version of Chrome you have, check if you’ve received the automatic update, and manually install the 64-bit version of Chrome if you don’t have it yet (and have a 64-bit PC capable of running it).

Why Use 64-bit Chrome and 64-bit Apps in General?

Before doing this you probably want to know what the actual point of it all is. First, it’s more secure, just as with any 64-bit programs, because 64-bit software is better at sandboxing, i.e. running processes in isolated environments where they can’t affect the rest of your PC. So in Chrome’s case websites and so on are safer to browse. It’s also faster, with tests from the Chromium devs showing 15% improvements in HD video decoding on YouTube among other things.

Check Chrome Version and Update It

Here you’ll see quite clearly whether or not you have 64-bit Chrome because it’ll say it next to the version number. From Chrome 58 onward anyone with a 64-bit PC will have the 64-bit version of Chrome, though there’s a chance you got the 64-bit version before you got Chrome 58. In which case, congratulations! You’ve been a 64-bit Chrome user all this time without even realising it.

Install Chrome 64-bit Manually

But if you don’t have the 64-bit version of Chrome, then you’ll want to get your hands on it. To do this, go to the Chrome download page, and if your PC is 64-bit, the default option should be “for Windows 10/8.1/7 64-bit.” (Google only made the 64-bit version the default version recently, so if you downloaded it a while back, you probably received the 64-bit version.)

Download the 64-bit version of Chrome, install it, and you’re away!


In truth, you shouldn’t expect switching to a 64-bit version of Chrome to feel like some kind of life-changing, eye-opening upgrade that leaves you wondering how you ever lived without it in the first place. Seeing as many of the perks come on the security front, most of the improvements will be invisible. Each 64-bit app varies, however, and some have greater benefits than others, so if you do have a 64-bit PC, you should approach downloading 64-bit apps with a ‘Why Not’ attitude. They won’t do any harm and just might do you some good.

Robert Zak

Content Manager at Make Tech Easier. Enjoys Android, Windows, and tinkering with retro console emulation to breaking point.

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Why Darpa Wants An Experimental Spaceplane

So DARPA wants a reusable spaceplane. I mean, who doesn’t? For decades, space experts have tried to design quick-turnover, reusable launch systems. So far, however, no one has made one that works. “There really isn’t any kind of vehicle today that does exactly what they’re asking people to do,” Micah Walter-Range, director of research and analysis at the Space Foundation, tells Popular Science. “You can certainly compare it to existing vehicles, but it seems to be a new class.”

Here’s how the dream goes: Our fictional rocket would blast off at hypersonic speeds. Once it reached the right altitude, it would release any upper stages (and payload) it might have. Then it would turn back toward the Earth and land gently someplace where engineers would be able to fetch it, polish it up, and stick it back on the launch pad. Theoretically, reusable rockets should cut the costs of launches enough to open up space to more groups, such as students and startups, and ease NASA’s financial burdens.

It’d be like having a jumbo jet for getting to space. Just load, unload, and repeat.

“There really isn’t any kind of vehicle today that does exactly what they’re asking people to do.”

For one thing, humans have never made launch vehicles with reusable rockets. Reusable passenger spaceships, like the vehicles Virgin Galactic is developing, are supposed to reach suborbital altitudes, not low-Earth orbit. NASA’s Space Shuttles were reusable, but required days of refurbishing in between flights. Even among the one-time-use satellite launchers available today, none have quite the carrying capacity or price of Experimental Spaceplane 1. For example, Orbital Sciences’ Pegasus XL carries just 1,000 pounds and costs an estimated $30 million to $40 million for a low-Earth-orbit flight. SpaceX’s (current, non-reusable) Falcon 9 carries about 20,000 pounds, at a cost of $54 million per flight.

Cheaper launches would mean more people could send more stuff to space. DARPA hopes the XS-1, once launched, will serve the students and startups that build small, affordable cubesats, says Alan Wilhite, an aerospace engineering professor at Georgia Tech who previously worked on reusable shuttles at NASA.

“This is a DARPA-hard kind of problem.”

In addition, a vehicle that could launch quickly could be helpful for military objectives. “Let’s say you’re planning a raid to find the next Osama bin Laden, something like that, and due to the timing of it, you don’t have a satellite in the right place,” Walter-Range says. “You have a small satellite on the ground and you just need to get it up tomorrow.”

So why has nobody been able to make an XS-1 before? Different experts cited different reasons. Wilhite, who headed the Vehicle Analysis Branch at NASA Langley in the 1980s, points to technologies, such as hypersonic vehicles, that didn’t previously exist. Getting an aircraft that’s just rocketed up to the edge of space to come back down again—Gently! No crashes that would render the rocket unusable—is another tough problem.

Mitchell Walker, also an aerospace engineer at Georgia Tech, thinks XS-1’s toughest hurdles would happen between its back-to-back flights. Once its reusable first stage reaches the ground, engineers would have make sure it’s good to go again within 24 hours. “Anybody can get the engine back,” Walker says. “The question is, can you convince yourself that it’s okay to put your next multi-million-dollar asset on top of it?”

Extensive between-flights safety testing and refurbishing is why the Space Shuttle wouldn’t fulfill DARPA’s 10-flights-in-10-days requirement. Testing also added significantly to the Space Shuttle’s costs.

Of course, the Space Shuttles carried astronauts, a load more precious than any multi-million-dollar NASA project. XS-1 would not only carry unmanned satellites, its 5,000-pound limit means those satellites would be small and likely not too expensive. No James Webb Space Telescopes here. So XS-1’s customers might be satisfied with fewer, shorter safety checks, if that meant cheaper, more frequent flights.

Engineering-wise, there are a lot of variables to balance in the XS-1. “It’s a really neat problem because it’s got a lot of dynamics. Where are you hauling? What are you hauling?” Walker says. “This is a DARPA-hard kind of problem.”

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