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Humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor, but 4 to 6 million years ago they split off on different evolutionary paths. Chimps continued to walk on all fours and live in trees, while we lost our fur and grew past the need for a tail. But it was our large brains that set us the most apart from our closest relatives. The human brain (about the size of 10 tennis balls) is three times bigger than a chimp’s.

There are multiple theories for why we evolved large and complex brains. Some evolutionary biologists think humans developed bigger bodies as a response to environmental pressures such as living in open, unforested habitats that required more cooperation and thinking to catch prey. Others speculate our brains needed to grow to handle the information needed to manage social relationships. And in a new study published in Science today, geneticists offer a third explanation: We just got lucky.

These random mutations could have contributed to the 49 short DNA sequences in our genome called human accelerated regions (HARs). Pollard and her team were the first to find these segments back in 2006 when comparing the genomes of humans to chimpanzees. HARs work as gene enhancers, controlling which genes are turned up or down during embryonic development, especially for brain formation. 

[Related: Eating meat may not have been as crucial to human evolution as we thought]

HARs in humans are very similar in each individual but vary when compared to accelerated regions in other vertebrates like chimps, frogs, and chickens. Since the initial discovery, research has found a connection between HARs and multiple traits that make our species distinct. And while Pollard has spent a lot of time understanding how HARs helped humans evolve, the current study focuses on why HARs emerged in the first place. 

The team collected data from 241 mammalian genomes (in concert with the larger Zoonomia project) and identified 312 accelerated regions across all of them. Most of the accelerated regions identified acted as neurodevelopmental enhancers, indicating a connection to brain development. But when comparing human and chimp DNA sequences, 30 percent of HARs were in areas of the genome where the DNA was folded differently. This suggests the structural variations in the human genome likely came from a random mutation during reproduction. “Mutations happen all the time and everytime sperm and eggs get made, there are some mistakes that cause cuts, deletions, and other edits to the DNA,” explains Pollard. “Many of the mutations don’t make any difference, but now and then some have a positive effect and that’s actually very rare.” 

In this case, scrunching and folding up DNA in different ways seemed to help with fitting a copy of the genome in every cell of the body. “It’s a big surprise that genome folding is involved since it hadn’t been on anyone’s radar when studying human accelerated regions,” says Pollard. “We had been thinking of DNA as a text file in a big folder full of A, C, T, and G’s, and looking for patterns as you move linearly through the sequence.”

The folding change would have affected how enhancers regulated gene activity in early humans. Depending on how the DNA was folded, enhancers could have been situated near new sequences, giving them different genes to target and boost. In humans, it just so happened that most of the adjacent genes were involved in brain development. In other words, we won the mutation lottery.

“The main achievement of this study is the discovery that the evolutionary history of HARs is connected in some way with the complex dynamics of structural configurations of the human genome,” says Anastasia Levchenko, a genetic researcher for the Institute of Translational Biomedicine at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia who has previously studied HARs’s role in brain development. However, she would like to see more research on the sequence of events in the evolution of the human genome. For example, it’s possible that HARs appeared way earlier than the changes in our DNA folds, or that DNA folding is only one factor contributing to the creation of HARs.

[Related: This is the most complete map we have of the human genome]

What’s more, humans might have used other genetic pathways to develop different features from other animals. Pollard’s study is one of 11 papers published in Science today as part of the Zoonomia Project, an international collaboration that aims to understand the codes behind shared and specialized traits across hundreds of mammalian species. For example, Zoonomia researchers identified the distinct parts of Balto’s genome that helped the sled dog deliver a serum to a remote Alaskan village, as well as genetic variants in early humans that could play a role in modern-day diseases. Another paper focuses on using information from DNA to predict which species are more likely to face extinction. All together, identifying the different genomes will open the door to understanding mammalian evolution and what exactly makes us uniquely human. 

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Fix: Oops, We Have Detected An Issue On Skype

FIX: Oops, we have detected an issue on Skype




Skype is one of the best instant messaging apps on the market.

Many Skype users reported Oops, we have detected an issue error while using Skype.

To fix this problem, reset Skype settings or reinstall Skype.

Read on for other tricks including changing up access settings for the camera and microphone and temporarily disabling your antivirus.



To fix Windows PC system issues, you will need a dedicated tool

Fortect is a tool that does not simply cleans up your PC, but has a repository with several millions of Windows System files stored in their initial version. When your PC encounters a problem, Fortect will fix it for you, by replacing bad files with fresh versions. To fix your current PC issue, here are the steps you need to take:

Download Fortect and install it on your PC.

Start the tool’s scanning process to look for corrupt files that are the source of your problem

Fortect has been downloaded by


readers this month.

Skype for Windows 10 is far from a good app. Lots of users were glad that the old win32 Skype version was getting a modern look. However, it seems that the app trades the functionality and stability for the contemporary instant messenger looks.

One of the common errors is as follows: Oops, we have detected an issue. Please exit and restart Skype. Of course, after the restart, the affected users weren’t able to resolve the issues.

Hopefully, one of these steps will. Check our troubleshooting list and we just might get in the clear with Skype for Windows 10.

How can I fix Oops, we have detected an issue error in Skype? 1. Run app troubleshooter 2. Update display and camera drivers

Now, once we confirm that the software is up to the task, let’s confirm that the hardware is closely following. Lots of users reported black screen flashing which led to the error at hand.

Thus, it will keep your system safe from permanent damage by downloading the wrong driver version.

More so, with an online database that contains over 18 million drivers, the program will manage obsolete drivers efficiently and optimize your devices.

Finally, you can definitely improve your driver devices and the overall system by choosing this driver automated support.

⇒ Get Outbyte Driver Updater

3. Reset Skype and Photos settings 4. Reinstall the app

If the previous step fell short, let’s give reinstallation a try. Even though this is a far-fetched solution (reset is basically a reinstall), we should give it a try. At least, until we deplete our options.

5. Grant Skype access to camera and microphone

Open Settings.

Choose Apps.

Under the Apps & features, search for Skype, expand it and open Advanced options.

Under Permissions, toggle on Camera and Microphone.

Expert tip:

That’s why it’s important to confirm all the required permissions are granted to two associated devices: camera and microphone.

Even though those should be granted by default, some third-party software (or Windows Security) might have revoked them.

6. Disable antivirus temporarily

There’s no third-party tool that has a larger impact on the system than an antivirus. Some antivirus solutions come with privacy protection tools that will completely block access to a camera.

We’re aware that disabling these isn’t exactly preferable. However, for the time being, try disabling your antivirus temporarily and look for changes.

Also, disable all background apps which might take control of the camera. This might cause Skype crashes, as well.

If even this won’t help and you’re still unable to use Skype without being interfered by the “Oops, we have detected an issue. Please exit and restart Skype” error, the final step is the only viable solution we know of.

7. Try Skype Classic

Finally, the solution which should deal with all your issues. If you’re not particularly fond of the new design and looking for a reliable option, the classic version of Skype for desktop is still available.

We’re not exactly attached to enforced novelties that fail to work and the Skype classic is just fitting right. Skype never was an instant messenger but rather a VoIP service and that’s what users mostly need.

Are you having additional problems with Skype? If so, be sure to check our Skype hub for more in-depth guides.

Still experiencing issues?

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Teacher Appreciation: Why We Teach

All good teaching originates from the motive of generosity. To help others understand history, literature, mathematics or science is the ground upon which all learning stands. Fundamentally, education is the transmission of wisdom from one scholar to another.

Indeed, this is what great teachers do every day. They open their classrooms and provide guidance, knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm. Such lifelong service requires great fortitude. Many in the general public believe that teachers have an easy career that finishes every weekday at 3 PM, freeing them from responsibility for the remainder of the day. But for those who teach, the unstinting physicality of standing and circulating all day in the classroom, the ongoing preparation of lessons, and the relentless redesign and sequencing of instruction are exhausting. With the immeasurable number of emotional interactions between ourselves and our students, our benevolence is bound to flag. Fortunately, this is normal and cured with some self-care.

Years ago, a dear friend and Latin teacher was walking past my classroom as I was ushering my students in before the bell.

“Servus Suvorum Dei,” he said.

“What, Mike?”

“The servant of the servants of God,” he translated. This was his definition of why we teach: to become the leader who serves.

I reflected on that medieval vow as I saw the faces before me — trusting or skeptical, smiling or nervous. They really did motivate me to serve them. It was an unflinching commitment.


Similarly, in her book What Keeps Teachers Going, Sonia Nieto states that a successful teacher is one who places a high value on students’ culture, race, language, gender, experiences, families and sense of self. These teachers sustain high expectations of all students, especially for those whom others may have given up on. They stay committed in spite of predictable obstacles and create a safe classroom haven for their students. By being resilient, by challenging the status quo of educational bureaucracy, and by viewing themselves as life-long learners, they come to care about, respect and love their students. To understand your own motivation to teach, you explore your own history of learning. Nieto says it is the “experiences, identities, values, beliefs, attitudes, hangups, biases, wishes, dreams and hopes” that make teachers successful. She has her teachers write about those experiences that influenced them to become teachers. It is only by mining their own influences they can begin to understand what motivated them to become a teacher in the first place. So teaching becomes a career-long process of uncovering both your own and others’ stories.

Consider Malcolm Gladwell’s examination of what makes successful teachers. He identifies one quality as the most significant: “withitness” or regard for student perspective. This means that in the classroom, there is a high-quality feedback loop between teacher and student. Teachers communicate both verbally and nonverbally to their students in a back-and-forth exchange to get a deeper understanding.

Of course, optimism also helps. If every year, you received the same students you left off with the year before, teaching would be much easier. But new students, new sections and new school years require a new approach. What startles one class into discussion may leave the next group cold.

Ambition and Passion

Ironically, not all of us set out to be teachers. Many of us to come to teaching from other paths. One middle school teacher who struggled with math and self-confidence was told by her fourth grade teacher that she would never amount to anything. Then in fifth grade, she met Mr. Murphy, who told her she would be getting A’s in math from that point forward. In fact, she became a math teacher and did her student teaching alongside her mentor. Now she works in a large urban area with kids who also seem to get A’s in math.

Still, others of us were teaching our stuffed bears and younger siblings in our bedrooms when we were ten years old, and knew we were born to teach. But it was the influence of a great teacher who sparked our ambition into a passion. One ESL teacher says, “Although I started school barely speaking English, my teachers loved me. So I loved them back. Because of their influence, I am now one of their colleagues in the same school. They support me now just as much as they did when I was their student.”

Likewise, teaching becomes the embodiment of our vocation. “I teach because I love to learn,” says a special education teacher. “I am doing what I want to do. I am becoming the very teacher I always wanted to be.”

In brief, this is why we teach: to improve the transmission of learning, to honor the scholarship we have so dearly won, and to inspire our students’ compassion and ideas. In these challenging times for teaching and learning, we must persist to persevere.

Why Do We Need Git?

Git Tutorial

Developed in 2005, Git is an open-source distributed version control system (VCS) that tracks various changes during a development process. Git is designed for collaboration with aspects like security, data integrity, flexibility, and performance. It helps create safe points at each stage and lets you create new features or restore a previous stage during development.

To store the data, Git makes use of two repositories. One is the local repository, where 90% of the work like staging, committing, viewing the status or the log/history, etc. happens, and the second is the remote repository which is a server that is centralized to all users of a project to push and pull the necessary version changes.

Why do we need Git?

Imagine you have a brand-new idea for a game, and you are a lone wolf working alone; in this case, you are the sole manager of how things go and will have a tab on all the stages you took to reach the finale. But, instead of being a lone wolf, you decide to go with the packs, and each one of you writes different aspects of the game. In such scenarios, as the development progress, maintaining the changes by ea will become chaotic. You and you might be left wondering only if there was a more systematic way, luckily for you. A Version Control System (VCS)exists, such as Git, to make life easier.

Having a distributed VCS like Git will enable one to keep track of how many times the code has been split, rearranged, or renamed within the development, doing networking and sharing easy and efficient.

Interaction with Git will start with you creating a clean workspace(directory), making branches, making necessary, and committing Git and committing the same. This repeats until you are ready to share your code with others. At this point, you can connect to another repository to send or push your changes and receive or pull changes to ensure you are in sync with the changes others make. A version change is determined by “Commit,” which records ‘who,’ ‘what’ and, ‘when’ regarding the change.

Img: Interaction of various developers with Git

Application of Git

Git can provide organizational benefits by providing an agile environment for the development process. Each work created, small or big, is treated as a new branch that can be merged with the main branch when ready.

Git facilitates shorter development cycles, where a big task can be chopped into multiple, enabling the business to create a market according to their users’ needs.


A short example of the Git config and commit

Git config: This sets the name and e-mail address for the commits.

Git inits: This is used to create a new repository.

Git adds: This is used to create a staging area that holds the changes that would be committed.

Git Commit: This command records or snapshots the changes made in the staging area and maintains the version history so we can look back to what all changes have been made over time.


Git uses command-line interfaces in both Linux and Windows. Git is not a programming language but a logical model to avoid disorder. Exposure to Linux commands, Software development process, its lifecycle, and applications are required to get started with Git.

Target Audience

Git is free and open-source and thus can be used by individuals, collaborators, or organizations for handling everything from small to big projects with speed and efficiency.

How Can We Change The Traffic

Encouraging focus on conversion optimisation has to be the way forward

For many companies, driving traffic to their websites is still the ultimate goal.It’s the way they measure the strength of their brand, and the the effectiveness of their campaigns.

There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as we understand that traffic is not the holy grail and certainly not the only purpose of interactive marketing. All kinds of marketing can be used for all business goals, depending on context, and sheer visitor numbers really don’t mean anything by themselves. For transactional sites in retail, travel and financial service the conversion points are obvious and there is much more focus on conversion optimisation. But many, many businesses don’t fall into this category and they’re not tracking the many forms of conversion. All types of sites have many micro-conversions that could be measured, but often aren’t.

Four critical questions about online traffic

Traffic is good. It’s even crucial. Without visitors to your website, you’ll never sell anything through online channels. That much is self-evident.

However, so many companies invest tons for measures to generate traffic, that they lose sight of the essentials:

What percentage of my visitors is relevant for my business?

How valuable are my website and online communication for the people I’m trying to reach or attract?

What cross-channel mix is best for creating the most cost-efficient traffic?

And most importantly: what do we do with visitors once they’ve landed on our website, blog, etc.?

Conversion is a mentality

And ultimately, there is one important parameter for seeing and improving results: conversion. Everyone knows it, but businesses do not turn that knowledge into action by building a systematic conversion optimisation process.

It is obvious that optimisation of conversion is still being treated as something superfluous by many businesses, when in fact, it’s a veritable Cinderella. The daily and incremental improvement of all cross-channel marketing activities, landing pages, etc. is a question of processes and most importantly of mentality.

By excessively focusing on traffic and the short-term, people all too often forget this.

Incremental growth by continuous cross-channel and multi-dimensional optimisation

In 2010, ZenithOptimedia said that of all the money that would be spent on traffic generation, only 2 to 3% would lead to effective conversion. Imagine what it would mean for your business if it grew by just one percent month after month. The incremental impact on the bottom line after a relatively short period of time would be huge.

It is therefore, time that more thought and resources be put into increasing results through continuous analytics and conversion improvement. And there is no business that cannot improve its conversion score because it’s a comprehensive and cross-channel never ending exercise encompassing content, media mix, landing pages, call-to-actions, etc.

Measure and improve each element, always a little more: use all conversion techniques, from A/B tests and usability improvements to content customisation and the interaction channels the customer or prospect can choose from.

This is much more important and profitable than forever chasing after more traffic. Again: it may be obvious, but it’s definitely not being done enough. Want proof? I recently found some data via Bryan Eisenberg that for every 95USD businesses spend on generating traffic, they only spend…one on conversion optimisation.

Knowing that we live in an online world where online penetration is high and people are overwhelmed by information and communication, that is a shocking low number.

In the end, optimising conversion is a matter of customer-centricity. People will only take action if something is perceived valuable by them. Not working on conversion means not improving the customer experience.

So I think building on marketers understanding of the importance of knowing the customer and delivering relevant engagement devices is one approach to make the case for more focus on conversion optimisation. What do you think? How do you make the case for conversion optimisation in your company or clients?

Here’s What We Should Do About Isil

Here’s What We Should Do About ISIL Tough choices, but they don’t include war

Photo by AP Photo/Thibault Camus

The French strikes on Islamic State positions following the November 13, 2023, Paris attacks point up the peculiar dual nature of this protean Salafi jihadist organization, whose ruthlessness, ability to capture and hold territory, significant financial resources, and strategic acumen make it a threat unlike any other the West has faced in the contemporary era.

The problem is, as the Paris killings and the French counterattack indicate, the Islamic State is partly a totalitarian state and partly a transnational terrorist organization. As a state it can be attacked and defeated, at least temporarily. And yet the more we in the West attack the state, the more its appeal as a terrorist organization will grow among those who see the West as an enemy.

The ISIL proto-state represents a marriage of Salafi jihadists and highly trained Baathist military and intelligence personnel, the very same Baathist personnel that the United States fired from their posts in 2003. The proto-state capitalizes on Sunni Arab disenfranchisement in Syria and Iraq, and thrives in the chaos caused by civil war in Syria. The state earns revenues not only by selling oil, but also by “taxing” people who are trapped in the territory it controls. It also taxes the export of antiquities, and most important, refugee flows. Although ISIL has denounced the refugees leaving Iraq and Syria as traitors, it is also making money from their duress.

At the same time, ISIL is also a millenarian cult with global terrorist ambitions. A number of existing terrorist organizations have pledged allegiance and become “wilayat,” or provinces, among them the Sinai Province in Egypt; Barqa, Tripoli, and Fezzan Provinces in Libya; Khorasan Province in Afghanistan and Pakistan; and Boko Haram’s West Africa Province in Nigeria. We can expect provinces to continue to spread into lawless or poorly governed areas. Volunteers are coming to the Islamic State by the tens of thousands, enticed by the chance to live in the only “place on the face of the Earth where the Shari’ah of Allah is implemented and the rule is entirely for Allah,” in the words of the Islamic State’s online magazine, as well as the promise of sex, violence, and money. Many of them will end up serving as cannon fodder. While many experts focus on ISIL’s narrative of victory, I see a narrative of overcoming humiliation and a chance to recover lost dignity. This narrative is meant to appeal to all the world’s oppressed.

A principal source of the threat to the West is that ISIL and its Salafi jihadi ideology have metastasized into the banlieues of Europe. It appeals, in ISIL’s words, to the people “drowning in oceans of disgrace, being nursed on the milk of humiliation, and being ruled by the vilest of all people.” To those oppressed, ISIL promises the chance “to remove the garments of dishonor, and shake off the dust of humiliation and disgrace, for the era of lamenting and moaning has gone and the dawn of honor has emerged anew. The sun of jihad has risen.”

With the Paris attacks, ISIL has taken this challenge to a whole new level. Until now, we have mostly seen relatively unsophisticated self-starters, inspired by ISIL’s ideology, but not directed by its leadership. But it was only a matter of time before ISIL would be able to coordinate attacks outside its territory. To do so requires not only trained labor and weaponry, but most important, intelligence and counterintelligence, the latter greatly enhanced by a Snowden-inspired antisurveillance mood. We are likely to see ISIL-trained operatives working together with local personnel who know the targeted city or facility.

Over time, we will likely see more use of insiders, as we may have seen in the explosion of the Russian airliner over Egypt on October 31.

Carrying out such attacks invites a devastating counterattack on the Islamic State. These attacks do not further the interests of the totalitarian state. But again, they do further the interests of the millenarian cult, the goal of which is to goad the West into a final battle in Syria.

With enough will, and enough ground forces, we can defeat the Islamic State on the territory it controls. It would require a massive infusion of military might, but the West certainly has the means. Many of the millions of people living under ISIL’s totalitarian rule do not wish to be there, and we’d have to be willing to live with their blood on our hands. Still, many would argue that the stakes are so high that the “merciless” war that French President François Hollande has called for is the right approach.

For example, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen has argued quite persuasively that the attacks in Paris prove that the only objective commensurate with the threat is the elimination of ISIL’s stronghold in Syria and Iraq. “A certain quality of evil cannot be allowed physical terrain on which to breed,” he says, and he is right. Unlike previous totalitarian regimes, the Islamic State flaunts its evil with grisly images calculated to terrorize. It seduces vulnerable youth with a wide array of promises, catering to eclectic fantasies and needs—the opportunity to recover lost honor, to help those in need, to rape and kill with impunity, to purify the world and reinvent themselves. Crushing the Islamic State would surely serve the interests of justice.

A downside to this approach is that it would be a temporary fix. Defeating ISIL in Syria would require ending the civil war there; a tall order indeed. The 2007 “surge” in Iraq resulted in a temporary rout of the predecessor organization to ISIL. A number of generals warned before the surge that we would need to occupy Iraq for three decades to create a viable state. Even if we were prepared to occupy Iraq and Syria for the next 30 years, there is no guarantee of success. And if there is anything we ought to have learned from our mistakes in both Iraq and Libya, it is that a failed state riven by sectarian tensions may well be the worst of all possible outcomes.

Moreover, it is not enough to defeat the Islamic State in its stronghold in Syria and Iraq. Its provinces must be defeated, its ideology crushed, and its seductive appeal undermined. Western recruits are the principal threat to the West, at least for now. A massive attack, which would inevitably involve civilian casualties, could well increase their number.

What options are left to us? The unsatisfying answer is that we need to continue what we’re doing, but do a lot more of it and do it better. That includes working with our allies to cut off the flows of foreign fighters and funding, continuing airstrikes, and deploying special forces against high-value targets. Our Arab allies, who are far more threatened by the Islamic State, need to step up to the plate militarily. We need to rethink our opposition to surveillance, a critically important counterterrorism tool. We also need to get a lot better at undermining ISIS’s claim that it is offering a “five-star jihad,” and that the West is at war with Islam. Many former members have come back horrified by the brutality and corruption that they witnessed. We need to find a way for them to tell their stories to vulnerable youth.

The bottom line is this: terrorism is psychological warfare. It has been used by the weak against the strong for millennia. Among its multiple objectives is to make its victims overreact. We want to wage war to banish the feeling of being unjustly attacked or unable to protect the blameless. We want to wage war on evil. But sometimes the effect of our reaction is precisely that which we aimed to thwart—more terrorists and more attacks, spread more broadly around the world. This is the paradox of counterterrorism—the military strategies required to defeat the threat today often bring more terrorism tomorrow.

A version of this piece was published in Politico on November 17, 2023. 

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