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What We Know

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States demonstrates that up to a quarter of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have some form of hearing loss due to consistent noise levels. The American Osteopathic Association takes this one step further, saying that headphones may be responsible for one in five teens suffering from some minor or major form of hearing loss.

The data shows that a significant majority of people who listen to headphones at high volume or use certain kinds of headphones may put themselves at risk for permanent damage. When you look into a light or work out too much your body begins to “tolerate” the excessive stimuli and numbs itself. This also happens to your ears when you have consistent noise. It’s why tractor drivers and crane operators often wear safety earmuffs. The constant noise of the engine can make you deaf!

What Makes Hearing Loss Worse?

Loudness isn’t the only factor that promotes hearing loss. Consistency of noise and its duration can also numb your ears to the point that they’re ringing. Once you reach that point, you’ve experienced a moderate amount of damage. If you have ever listened to an MP3 player using powerful headphones at 85% of the maximum volume for more than an hour, you might have noticed that after removing them you have to acclimate to your environment again. In other words, your ears got so numb that every bit of speech around you sounds muffled for at least a few seconds or even a minute. Don’t ever do that again!

Prevention Methods

Unfortunately there is no perfect cure to going deaf. Your only hope here is to actively prevent it from happening in the first place. Even if you’re not under 30, now is a good time to take every measure you can to preserve every bit of precious hearing you have. Here are a few ways to do that at least as far as headphones are concerned:

Avoid using earbuds. They shoot noise directly into your ear canal without allowing some of it to escape. Headphones that surround your ear provide a milder listening experience, although they are a little more expensive. If you plan to use them, do so sparingly and with a moderately low volume.

Can you have a conversation with someone next to you? If you have a very hard time hearing anything anyone says around you, the volume is probably louder than it should be. I say probably because noise-cancelling headphones can block sounds from your environment without needing to blast music into your ears at volumes that will rip them to shreds. Speaking of which, you should get some noise-cancelling headphones if you want to block the outside world. Don’t raise your volume on normal headphones to do that.

Ask a person to stand one meter from you, then listen to something through your headphones normally. Ask that person if they can hear what you hear perfectly. If they say yes, lower the volume. It’s too loud!

The Takeaway

Everything I said above might make you hesitant to ever pick up your MP3 player again, but you really shouldn’t worry too much. Just make sure you’re listening to things at a reasonable volume and make sure you’re not spending way too much time with your headphones on (especially if you are using earbuds).

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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Sata: What It Is And What You Need To Know

SATA is two different things: a physical connector standard and a logical communication bus. When SATA was first designed, the two were linked. In fact, the physical SATA connector can only use the logical SATA bus. However, the SATA bus can be accessed over newer physical connectors. In this article, we’ll cover both.

The SATA Bus

In computing, a logical bus is a communication protocol to transfer data. SATA stands for Serial AT Attachment. The AT isn’t technically an acronym to avoid patent infringements. It is based on IBM’s predecessing Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) standard, which was later renamed PATA. The P standing for Parallel to differentiate it from the Serial bus. The SATA protocol was first standardized in 2003.

The SATA Connector

The SATA protocol came with a new connector, a pair of connectors: one for data and one for power. Both connectors are long and thin with a small L shape at the end to ensure they’re connected the right way up. The power connector is wider than the data connector, making it easy to distinguish. The power cable plugs into the drive directly from the PSU. In contrast, the data cable will connect the drive to the motherboard.

Other Connectors

There are a small variety of secondary connectors included in the SATA standard. However, most were short-lived and can’t be found in modern devices. Outside of the SATA standard, the physical M.2 connector supports transferring data over the SATA bus. When purchasing M.2 SSDs, it’s important to double-check if the SSD is a SATA or NVMe drive.

SATA M.2 drives will use a B key, though most M.2 SATA drives also have an M key cut out. The M key has a cut-out after five pins from the right. The B key has the cut-out after 6 pins from the left. Most M.2 SATA drives have both keys cut out, making them easy to identify.

When looking over an M.2 connector, the key is a visual indicator of what bus the slot is connected to. Typically, it is connected to the NVMe bus for high-speed connectivity. But with the B key, data instead runs over the SATA bus. This has the same limitations as the standard SATA connectivity and does not support any extra bandwidth.

Any M.2 slot will only have a single key cut-out, depending on which bus it connects. This makes it impossible to accidentally connect an NVMe M.2 SSD to a SATA M.2 port. While a dual-keyed SATA SSD can physically plug into an NVMe M.2 slot, it is still limited to the SATA transfer speeds. Additionally, this would be non-standard and may not be supported by the BIOS.

What is SATA Good for in a Modern Computer?

SATA is primarily useful for storing data where the writing and reading of said data are not time-sensitive. This can work well for images, relatively low-resolution video, or standard documents where the read/write time is in a relatively short burst. Or the required transmission speed for real-time use is below the bandwidth restrictions of the drive over the SATA connection.

For example, suppose you want to save a word document. In that case, the amount of data to be read or written is so tiny that the relatively slow speed of SATA isn’t an issue. Similarly, the bitrate needed to watch or save 720p 30fps video is lower than the maximum data rate of the SATA connection.

SATA isn’t ideal when speed is an essential factor, or substantial transfers are likely to happen. For example, suppose you want to edit 4K 60fps video footage. In that case, the bandwidth SATA offers simply isn’t enough to do this in real-time. Loading times in video games are also slower on SATA drives as the data simply can’t get loaded into the RAM and VRAM fast enough. Similarly, these will take longer over a slow SATA connection if you want to perform large system backups. Critically it will also take longer to restore from a backup over SATA.


Due to speed limitations, SATA is a legacy connector and logical standard primarily useful for HDDs. Early SSDs used the connector because it was already standard, making market adoption easier. Additionally, early SSDs were much slower than modern drives due to low levels of technological maturity.

Quality Score Update: What You Need To Know

AdWords Quality Score Changes Sept. 12, 2024

The change from Google is that keywords with insufficient data, either new keywords or keywords with sparse recent history will now get a null QS. I think this is a useful change because it gives us cleaner data to monitor what Google really thinks about our accounts’ QS.

What Changes From the 2024 QS Update

The problem with the 2024 update was that it created two possible reasons why a keyword might have a QS of 6:

The keyword earned a QS of 6 based on its history

The keyword had too little data and was defaulted to QS 6

You can see why that can create some confusion: it’s very hard to determine if a keyword with a QS of 6 is worth optimizing or if it might improve on its own given a bit more time. In our research at Optmyzr we concluded that after approximately 100 impressions, an ad with a QS of 6 was probably really a QS 6 keyword and not merely waiting for more data.

For people who were monitoring account-level QS through scripts like the one I published or tools like the Quality Score Tracker from Optmyzr (my company), the 2024 change resulted in all accounts moving closer to an account-level QS of 6. In the example shown here, an account with great QS dropped a bit because a lot of keywords with sparse data got defaulted to QS 6.

What is Not Changing

If the ad is eligible to appear for the query

In what position the ad will appear (rank and top-of-page promotion)

The actual CPC needed to beat the next competitor

What extensions and other features like dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) the ad is eligible to use

Free AdWords Script to Calculate Account Quality Score

If you’re interested to track how the Sept 2024 change impacts your account QS, be sure to start calculating it before the change with a script like this one. By calculating the score before and after the change using the same methodology, you can get a good understanding of how the change impacts you directionally.

I first published a version of this script in 2013 and have now updated it in a few important ways:

It only uses QS data when the QS is a number from 1 to 10. Keywords with no QS, i.e. ‘–’ are excluded from the calculation.

The script still calculates the score using only data from Google Search. This is because different ad layouts on search partners could impact the score, so Google removes this variation by excluding data from search partners.

Image Credits

What You Need To Know About Unc0Ver And The Fugu14 Untether

If you haven’t heard about the Fugu14 untether and how the unc0ver jailbreak now supports it, then you’d be inviting the age-old question of whether you live under a rock or not. And now that the latest version of AltStore (v1.4.8) can bundle the Fugu14 untether with the latest version of the semi-untethered unc0ver jailbreak tool, lots of people with compatible devices are jumping onboard.

But does Fugu14 really transform the semi-untethered unc0ver jailbreak into a fully-untethered jailbreak for the limited subset of devices that Fugu14 supports in its current form? The answer to that question appears to be more complicated than it should be at face value, but that’s something we intend to clear up in this piece.


Firstly, we should mention right off the bat that Fugu14 in and of itself is an untethered jailbreak, albeit an incomplete one. It was developed by security researcher Linus Henze and later released in its incomplete form as a proof of concept so that jailbreak developers such as those in the checkra1n Team, Odyssey Team, and unc0ver Team could examine and attempt to make use of its inner workings for their own jailbreaks.

In its current form, the Fugu14 untether supports arm64e devices running iOS or iPadOS versions 14.4-14.5.1, and arm64e is a fancy way of saying iPhone XS or newer. Linus Henze has openly stated that Fugu14 could be updated to support older arm64 devices (iPhone X and older), however this would necessitate additional work.

A few minutes after Linus Henze released the Fugu14 untether and proof of concept for developers, Pwn20wnd updated the unc0ver jailbreak to v7.0.0 with preliminary support for it, which meant that users could install the Fugu14 untether manually. Several days later, Pwn20wnd updated the unc0ver jailbreak to v7.0.1. AltStore v1.4.8 was released around the same time with support for bundling the Fugu14 untether and the unc0ver jailbreak together.

Full stop right there. This is about where the confusion began, and at iDownloadBlog, we intend to clear up much of the confusion that this release and some of the verbiage used has kicked up.

Does Fugu14 truly untether the unc0ver jailbreak?

The unc0ver jailbreak is a semi-untethered jailbreak that gets installed by way of a side-loadable app, and always has been. Fugu14 is an untethered jailbreak in and of itself that makes use of a powerful untethered exploit. The two can be combined as of unc0ver v7.0.1 and AltStore v1.4.8 to create something interesting, but alas, it’s still technically a semi-untethered jailbreak as of now.

In its current form, the Fugu14 untether is being cleverly used as a mechanism to keep the unc0ver jailbreak app signed indefinitely. This means that you won’t be reliant on your computer’s AltServer installation and Mail app add-on to keep the unc0ver jailbreak app signed, and consequently, you can operate your jailbreak computer-free after you’ve jailbroken at least once.

A similar experience can be had with online signing services, as they can far surpass AltStore’s 7-day limit. But even signing services don’t last indefinitely, while the Fugu14 untether does.

Where things get confusing for some people is here: immediately following a reboot on the latest version of unc0ver with the Fugu14 untether, users will find themselves in a jailed state and will need to launch the unc0ver jailbreak app and re-jailbreak with it to return to a jailbroken state. A truly untethered jailbreak wouldn’t require this additional step by the end user, as the device would still be in a jailbroken state even after rebooting; A.K.A. persistence.

Okay, so now what?

When we said that unc0ver added “preliminary” support for Fugu14 in the original unc0ver v7.0.0 headline, that’s exactly how we meant it. Fugu14 doesn’t magically transform the unc0ver jailbreak into a full-fledged untethered jailbreak; at least not yet. But that could change in the future…

When Pwn20wnd added preliminary support for Fugu14 into the unc0ver jailbreak, it was more or less to offer enhanced functionality over the previous version in a shorter release window, which it did thanks to the indefinite app resigning. Pwn20wnd, along with other jailbreak developers in the checkra1n and Odyssey Teams have the opportunity to integrate the untether directly into their jailbreaks, which would make them fully untethered jailbreaks.

What we’re seeing right now is that the Fugu14 untether only supports a small subset of devices in its current form — that is, arm64e devices running iOS or iPadOS 14.4-14.5.1. Jailbreak developers likely want to expand support to more devices and more firmware versions, such as the iPhone X and older and all previous iOS & iPadOS 14 releases, and this will take a lot more time as it requires modifying the untether and performing lots of testing.

Once someone from one of the jailbreak teams gets the Fugu14 untether operating on more than just a small subset of devices, they’re likely to take the additional steps necessary to integrate the untether into their jailbreak tool. Why? Because it makes more sense to tackle it that way from a user experience perspective. Pre-releasing only partially-supported software convolutes everything and makes things less approachable by end users — especially new ones.

Should you install the untether?

While the Fugu14 untether isn’t yet offering a fully-untethered jailbreak by way of unc0ver, it still enhances unc0ver’ s capabilities by indefinitely re-signing the unc0ver jailbreak app, so it will do nothing but offer an additional lump of convenience for you.

Having said that, balance the risks with the benefits and make an informed choice.


So long story short, the Fugu14 jailbreak is a truly untethered jailbreak for arm64e devices running iOS or iPadOS 14.4-14.5.1, but unc0ver is still a semi-untethered jailbreak. Combining the two via AltStore as Pwn20wnd has merely enhances the unc0ver jailbreak’s semi-untetheredness into something that keeps you away from the computer and AltServer longer, which is still an impressive feat to have pulled off.

It’s likely that existing jailbreaks could become fully untethered (staying jailbroken after a reboot) with the Fugu14 untether in the future. It’s also likely that those jailbreaks could support the untether on more devices than just the arm64e variety. Currently, the untether is still very new, so it will require additional work for that to happen, which also translates to more time. Patience is key.

Is Lastpass Safe? Here’S What You Need To Know

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Password managers like LastPass offer to maximize your online security while also making logging into your accounts more convenient. The idea is simple — secure your vault with a single master password and generate complex random passwords for all of your other accounts. As one of the most popular password managers out there, however, is LastPass safe from attacks and should you use it?

In this article, let’s explore how password managers like LastPass work, whether they’re secure, and what it might take for an attacker to get their hands on your online credentials.

Zero knowledge encryption means that LastPass can never access your saved passwords.

That said, LastPass has recently found itself embroiled in controversy over multiple confirmed hacks and breaches. Very few password managers have reported as many successful attacks to date. Luckily, the aforementioned zero-knowledge security model has prevented attackers from accessing passwords.

Related: What is two-factor authentication and why should you use it?

How does LastPass store your passwords?

LastPass saves your usernames and passwords in an encrypted database, which is also commonly referred to as a vault. According to the company’s security disclosure, vaults are secured using 256-bit AES encryption. The key used to decrypt a vault is based on the account’s master password.

See also: What is encryption?

Even with an extremely powerful computer, a hacker would need several years, bordering on centuries, to crack a single AES-256 key. While that could change in the future, AES encryption is used to secure everything from military secrets to bank accounts.

Needless to say, it’s extremely unlikely that an attacker will brute force their way into your LastPass vault.

Does LastPass have access to your master password?

No, LastPass does not have access to your master password. And since the company doesn’t store your master password, no employee or malicious actor can decrypt the contents of your vault either.

When you sign up for an account, the app generates an encrypted vault locally on your device. The vault is then uploaded to LastPass’ servers in this encrypted state, where it’s stored as a backup. Each time you log into your account on a new device, the app fetches this backup and asks you to input your master password to unlock it.

LastPass does not store a copy of your master password.

It’s extremely important that you use a secure master password. Moreover, you should never use your LastPass master password anywhere else. Doing so dramatically increases the chances of an attacker gaining access to your password from elsewhere. From there, they can simply use it to unlock your LastPass vault.

Can LastPass be hacked?

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

LastPass is a frequent target of hackers and malicious attackers. Moreover, the company has a poor track record of warding off such attacks. While user passwords haven’t been compromised to date, the frequency of successful breaches is not a good sign for a security-focused company.

LastPass’ encryption keeps passwords safe, but you should still consider alternative password managers.

In conclusion, LastPass has never been compromised in the traditional sense — user passwords remain encrypted and safe on the platform. However, if you care about all-round security, you should definitely look for an alternative. And regardless of which password manager you choose, always enable two-factor authentication for an additional layer of security.

See also: 5 best free LastPass alternatives and how to transfer

What Is A Cryptocurrency Wallet? Everything You Need To Know

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Cryptocurrencies are entirely digital, which means you can send or receive them with a corresponding digital wallet on a computer or smartphone. Still, you might be surprised to know that cryptocurrencies are not actually “stored” in a cryptocurrency wallet, or really anywhere.

Instead, your ownership is tied to a unique key. A cryptocurrency wallet offers a friendly interface to interact with this key, either to prove ownership or spend your balance. Wallet form factors are incredibly varied these days, ranging from mobile apps to USB stick-like devices.

Intrigued? Let’s decode how cryptocurrency wallets work, and what you should look for before picking one up for yourself.

What is a cryptocurrency wallet?

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

For decades, banks and other institutions were the only entities that could deliver financial inclusion to the masses. Now, cryptocurrency threatens to take over this role. What’s more, its proponents claim the technology can reach more people than traditional banking services. To understand how wallets fit into all of this, we must first distill how a cryptocurrency works under the hood.

Digital currencies are often understood to be a virtual equivalent to physical coins that can be pocketed or stored in a wallet. However, this is not exactly the case. Instead, a cryptocurrency is better described as a network of digital records, or a ledger of transactions.

In other words, you don’t own coins as much as you have a balance on the global cryptocurrency ledger. Your digital wallet then simply acts as a key to this balance — similar to how a password accesses your bank account. However, wallets are for more than just authentication.

As mentioned previously, the information about your balance is stored on the network. New changes, such as incoming or outgoing transactions, are also added to this ever-growing record and then propagated to others participating in the network. This is why cryptocurrencies are often credited with pioneering decentralized ledger technology, or more commonly, blockchain technology.

Read more: What is blockchain technology?

While a wallet’s primary utility is indeed to send and receive transactions, most modern options include quality-of-life features such as backup functionality as well. We’ll take a closer look at the various types of wallets later in this article.

To quickly summarize, wallets perform the following basic functions:

Display your cryptocurrency balance on the network.

Offer an interface to send and receive transactions.

Maintain a log of past transactions.

How do cryptocurrency wallets work?

Now that we know what a cryptocurrency wallet is and isn’t, let’s dig a little deeper and understand how it functions.

Cryptocurrency wallets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A wallet may be a desktop program, mobile app, web-based app, or a dedicated hardware device.

Read more: What is cryptocurrency mining?

Private keys: Your gateway to owning cryptocurrency

Types of cryptocurrency wallets Software wallets

Software-based wallets represent the most widely-used kind of personal crypto wallets in recent years. These typically come in the form of a smartphone application or computer program. Getting started requires virtually no time. Download and install the wallet software on your device — that’s it!

The downside to using a software-based wallet is that your cryptocurrency holdings are only as secure as the underlying device. Sophisticated malware, for example, can scan for wallet-related files on your computer and drain your wallets in the background. And by the time you detect the intrusion, it may be too late.

Most wallets offer to encrypt your private keys to mitigate this risk, but in many cases, don’t do it by default. The Electrum Bitcoin wallet, for example, offers the ability to enable password-based encryption during initial setup.

Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

Hardware wallets

Hardware wallets are purposely basic and minimal ,so as to eliminate any potential security flaws or attack vectors.

Hardware wallets also do not directly connect to the internet to minimize the chances of hacks or vulnerabilities. The companies that sell them also have a reputation at stake so they tend to fix bugs faster than software wallet developers.

Still, with modern devices such as the Ledger Nano X boasting Bluetooth connectivity, hardware wallets these days are only slightly less convenient than software-only alternatives.

Online wallets

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

If you have ever purchased or traded cryptocurrency, chances are you’ve used an exchange such as Coinbase or Binance.

These platforms offer online crypto wallets with one key distinction — they don’t give you full control. Any cryptocurrency balance you hold on an exchange is just a number associated with your account. This is because exchanges consolidate their users’ funds in a handful of wallets, much like a bank. Binance, for example, holds over $10 billion worth of Bitcoin in a single wallet.

Unfortunately, exchanges don’t have the best track record when it comes to safe cryptocurrency storage in the long-term. While the big names such as Coinbase and Gemini are less likely to lose funds these days, there’s still a non-zero probability of it happening. And you can’t expect governments to bail out cryptocurrency exchanges. Unlike banks, most exchanges aren’t insured.

Consequently, online wallets are the least secure option because they require you to trust a third-party’s security practices. If you can accept the responsibility of using a software or hardware wallet, you should aim to offload your holdings from exchanges as soon as possible.

Read more: 10 best crypto wallets for Android

Which wallet should you use? Back up your wallet!

If you ever lose access to the device containing your wallet, the seed phrase is all you need.

On the subject of good practices, make sure that you keep your wallet, seed phrase, and/or private keys in different places. Finally, create multiple copies and store them away from prying eyes. Many in the Bitcoin community swear by paper-based backups for their simplicity and resistance to cyber-attacks. Having said that, keep in mind that paper is also vulnerable to loss or destruction — so weigh these tradeoffs carefully.

Selecting the right cryptocurrency wallet for your needs may very well be the most important decision you make while starting out. Hopefully, this article has provided some insight into the inner workings of crypto wallets to help you make that decision. Either way, don’t be afraid to look around — software wallets are free to download, after all.

For further reading, check out our guide to buying cryptocurrency for information about exchanges, investing strategies, and taxation.

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