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Вторник, 20 февраля 2018 00:17

Nokia 7 Plus Leaks Again!

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The Nokia 7 Plus has been making the rounds for weeks now. Veteran tipster Evan Blass has reported a render of the  Nokia 7 Plus. The leaked render corroborates with the earlier reports and live image of the 7 Plus.


The render confirms the presence of a full screen display, with no physical navigation keys on the front. The fingerprint scanner has also taken a back seat here. The display seems to be slightly curved on the sides. The top bezel houses the front camera and the Nokia logo on the top right corner. The earpiece sits right in the middle of the top bezel.


This render is similar to the live image of the Nokia 7 Plus which was reported just a few days ago. The 7 Plus’ Geekbench listing hints towards the presence of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 chipset coupled with 4GB of RAM. Also known is the fact that it will sport a dual camera setup on the rear by Zeiss Optics. The configuration is speculated to be a 12MP+13 MP. The front is rumoured to have a 16MP snapper.

Another speculation surrounding the 7 Plus is that it will be an Android One phone and will come with Android 8 Oreo. We will to see the 7 Plus at MWC 2018. Stay tuned!


Вторник, 20 февраля 2018 00:10

New Xiaomi Headphones Are Teased To Come Soon

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Xiaomi designs not only smartphones but tons of other products including headphones as well. However, they don’t come in the box with its smartphones. So those who want to own a pair of headphones carrying this brand should look for it separately. The first over-the-ear headphones of the manufacturer were launched back in 2015. They came with a stylish look and great audio performance. Later it came in with various models and many other earbuds. Users are more familiar with them because of their lower price tags. But the real music lovers prefer over-the-ear models. Seems there is a gift for them. An early-morning tweet by company hints at upcoming Xiaomi headphones.


The current Xiaomi headphones come in minimalistic and elegant design. It uses a PU leather and protein headband making it very comfortable and soft-to-use. Thanks to them the headphones weigh 240 grams only. So they won’t cause a headache regardless how low you wear them. As for sound performance, the Xiaomi headphones sport a graphene vibration diaphragm. The latter is made of carbon atoms that feature lightweight, High hardness, superior conductivity, etc. Its selling points are the powerful bass and HiFi music support. Thanks to them the music sounds very clear, even on low and middle frequencies, which is unusual for headphones, because typically bass requires large speaker units.


Moreover, the Xiaomi headphones available on the market now come with a high-sensitive built-in noise reduction microphone. There are also special keys allows to switch between calls and listening to music easily. The enclosed aluminum alloy sound cavity guarantees good separation from ambient noise which helps immerse in music as well.


Unfortunately, we have no information about the upcoming Xiaomi headphones. But the tweet makes us think new and enhanced headphones will be announced in the nearest future.

Вторник, 20 февраля 2018 00:03

The penta-lens Nokia phone, is actually the Nokia 8 pro

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HMD Global in the past few weeks has widely been rumored to be preparing a Penta camera lens phone. The device according to rumors was expected to debut as the Nokia 10, but fresh reports reaching us suggest otherwise.


The latest report on GSMarena via WPU has it that the widely rumored Penta lens Nokia 10 will be unveiled as a follow up to the Nokia 8, and would come as the Nokia 8 pro, a more feasible expectation since the Nokia 9 is yet to see the light of the day.


The overall design of the rumored Nokia 8 pro is quite similar to that of the upcoming Nokia 9 featuring a double-glass (both front and back) design, it is expected to come fitted with the much talked about circular Penta-lens camera module with rotating Zoom camera tech from Zeiss, while a fingerprint sensor sits below the camera module. As you would have noticed from the two renders below, the Nokia 8 pro tends to be taller than the Nokia 9 – suggesting an 18:9 display, and also house a dual rear camera in a vertical arrangement with LED flash by its side.


As for the internals, the Nokia 8 pro is expected to pack near flagship grade specs including the Snapdragon 845 SoC.

Whether or not this report turns out to be true, it would make sense if HMD Global steer clear of the Pro plus naming convention, as it could become very confusing with the increasing Nokia phones been pushed out.

Понедельник, 19 февраля 2018 23:57

Sony confirms MWC 2018 appearance, releases video teaser

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Mobile World Congres 2018 will officially begin in Barcelona, Spain on February 26th. The event is expected to witness products launches from giants like Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, HMD Global and more. Sony will be live at the mobile show, as it has confirmed with the release of a Video teaser hinting at its product lineup for the MWC.

As usual, this teaser reveals nothing at first sight, but it did reveal that Sony will be holding its MWC 2018 Press briefing just a day after Samsung and HMD Global might have unwrapped the Galaxy S9 and Nokia 9.

A couple of days back, it came to public knowledge that Sony wrote a letter to FCC (Federal Communications Commission) requesting the dismissal of one of the approvals given to some of its devices, probably to reflect modern day reality. If the request is given appropriate attention, then there is every tendency that Sony’s phones that will debut at the MWC 2018 might not reflect the design change as the time frame is considered too short to effect such.

Recent reports have it that the company plans to bring the Xperia XZ2, XZ2 pro, as well as the Xperia XZ2 compact, will all be unveiled at the MWC 2018. These devices look set to a 4K edge-to-edge display, dual-lens rear camera, flagship SD 845 SoC and more. 

Понедельник, 19 февраля 2018 23:50

Nokia 9 cases appear once again hinting a curved display

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The Nokia 9 is expected to be one of the main attractions in the booth of Nokia at the upcoming MWC. Unsurprisingly, it is a flagship device which has been the staple of the rumour mill since last year. The most recent sighting of the device was in the hands of an HMD official. That was quite blurry and almost useless. The handset has already passed the FCC way back in December. Here we take a look at newfound cases of the handset.


As has so often been rumoured, the Nokia 9 is supposed to come with a curved display. That is indeed very rare in the flagship segment as Samsung currently rules the roost with the Galaxy S8. The cases clearly emphasize that design aspect of the phone as they have very small corners. The cases also have cutouts for a dual camera on the back of the device and for a fingerprint sensor. The Nokia 9 is also rumoured to come with dual selfie cameras.


As for the rumoured specs, we draw our information from its FCC listing. Nokia 9 sports a 5.5-inch OLED display sourced from LG, as per info. Under the hood, the Nokia 9 houses last year’s Snapdragon 835 chip which might be a letdown. The FCC listing showed Android Oreo on board the device backed by a 3,250mAh battery.

After the FCC listing, the Nokia 9 has been rumoured to launch many times but hasn’t yet gone public. We reckon it will surely break cover at the upcoming Mobile World Congress.

Понедельник, 19 февраля 2018 23:46

Robot assistants and a marijuana incubator

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We’ve had plenty of time to get used to our robot overlords — and Boston Dynamics is helping us get there. This week on CTRL-T we talk about the company’s addition of a door-opening arm to its SpotMini robot. It’s not spooky at all.


We then switch gears and discuss Facebook’s Messenger for Kids. Is it good, bad or the company’s master plan to get every last human being with a smartphone on the platform?


Later in the episode, MRD chats with Lanese Martin, co-founder of the Hood Incubator. The Hood Incubator is an Oakland-based organization that aims to foster equity in the marijuana industry. Through its programming, Hood Incubator supports people of color building businesses in the legal marijuana industry.


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Facebook’s global director of policy programs says it will start sending postcards by snail mail to verify buyers of ads related to United States elections. Katie Harbath, who described the plan at a conference held by the National Association of Secretaries of State this weekend, didn’t reveal when the program will start, but told Reuters it would be before the congressional midterm elections in November.


The cards will be sent to people who want to purchase ads that mention candidates running for federal offices, but not issue-based political ads, Harbath said, and contain a code that buyers need to enter to verify that they are in the U.S. The program is similar to ones used by Google My Business and Nextdoor when they need to verify business owners or users who want to join closed neighborhood groups, respectively.


Harbath told Reuters that the postcards “won’t solve everything,” but were the most effective method the company came up with to prevent people from using false identities to purchase ads. In October, Facebook vice president of ads Rob Goldman published a blog post saying that the platform planned to create more transparency around ads by taking steps that include a searchable archive of federal-election ads and requiring political advertisers to verify their identity.


Facebook, Twitter and Google executives were called to testify in front of Senate last fall about how Russians used their platforms to spread misinformation intended to sway the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign. The companies have been criticized for not doing enough to prevent false advertising. The issue escalated last week when U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller handed down a set of indictments charging 13 Russian citizens and three Russian organizations, including a bot farm, with interfering in the presidential election through operations including fake social media accounts.

Понедельник, 19 февраля 2018 23:23

Facebook’s tracking of non-users ruled illegal again

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Another blow for Facebook in Europe: Judges in Belgium have once again ruled the company broke privacy laws by deploying technology such as cookies and social plug-ins to track internet users across the web.


Facebook uses data it collects in this way to sell targeted advertising.

The social media giant failed to make it sufficiently clear how people’s digital activity was being used, the court ruled.


Facebook faces fines of up to €100 million (~$124 million), at a rate of €250,000 per day, if it fails to comply with the court ruling to stop tracking Belgians’ web browsing habits. It must also destroy any illegally obtained data, the court said.


Facebook expressed disappointment at the judgement and said it will appeal.


“The cookies and pixels we use are industry standard technologies and enable hundreds of thousands of businesses to grow their businesses and reach customers across the EU,” said Facebook’s VP of public policy for EMEA, Richard Allan, in a statement. “We require any business that uses our technologies to provide clear notice to end-users, and we give people the right to opt-out of having data collected on sites and apps off Facebook being used for ads.”


The privacy lawsuit dates back to 2015 when the Belgium privacy watchdog brought a civil suit against Facebook for its near invisible tracking of non-users via social plug-ins and the like. This followed an investigation by the agency that culminated in a highly critical report touching on many areas of Facebook’s data handling practices.


The same year, after failing to obtain adequate responses to its concerns, the Belgian Privacy Commission decided to take Facebook to court over one of them: How it deploys tracking cookies and social plug-ins on third-party websites to track the internet activity of users and non-users.


Following its usual playbook for European privacy challenges, Facebook first tried to argue the Belgian DPA had no jurisdiction over its European business, which is headquartered in Ireland. But local judges disagreed.


Subsequently, Belgian courts have twice ruled that Facebook’s use of cookies violates European privacy laws. If Facebook keeps appealing, the case could end up going all the way to Europe’s supreme court, the CJEU.


The crux of the issue here is the pervasive background surveillance of internet activity for digital ad targeting purposes which is enabled by a vast network of embedded and at times entirely invisible tracking technologies — and, specifically in this lawsuit, whether Facebook and the network of partner companies feeding data into its ad targeting systems have obtained adequate consent from their users to be so surveilled when they’re not actually using Facebook.


“Facebook collects information about us all when we surf the Internet,” explains the Belgian privacy watchdog, referring to findings from its earlier investigation of Facebook’s use of tracking technologies. “To this end, Facebook uses various technologies, such as the famous ‘cookies’ or the ‘social plug-ins’ (for example, the ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ buttons) or the ‘pixels’ that are invisible to the naked eye. It uses them on its website but also and especially on the websites of third parties. Thus, the survey reveals that even if you have never entered the Facebook domain, Facebook is still able to follow your browsing behavior without you knowing it, let alone, without you wanting it, thanks to these invisible pixels that Facebook has placed on more than 10,000 other sites.”


Facebook claims its use of cookie tracking is transparent and argues the technology benefits Facebook users by letting it show them more relevant content. (Presumably, it would argue non-Facebook users “benefit” from being shown ads targeted at their interests.) “Over recent years we have worked hard to help people understand how we use cookies to keep Facebook secure and show them relevant content. We’ve built teams of people who focus on the protection of privacy — from engineers to designers — and tools that give people choice and control,” said Allan in his response statement to the court ruling.


But given that some of these trackers are literally invisible, coupled with the at times dubious quality of “consents” being gathered — say, for example, if there’s only a pre-ticked opt-in at the bottom of a lengthy and opaque set of T&Cs that actively discourage the user from reading and understanding what data of theirs is being gathered and why — there are some serious questions over the sustainability of this type of “pervasive background surveillance” adtech in the face of successful legal challenges and growing consumer dislike of ads that stalk them around the internet (which has in turn fueled growth of ad-blocking technologies).


Facebook will face a similar complaint in a lawsuit in Austria, filed by privacy campaigner and lawyer Max Schrems, for example. In January Schrems prevailed against Facebook’s attempts to stall the lawsuit after Europe’s top court threw out the company’s claim that his campaigning activities cancelled out his individual consumer rights. (Though the CJEU’s decision did not allow Schrems to pursue a class action style lawsuit against Facebook as he had originally hoped.)


Europe also has a major update to its data protection laws coming in May, called the GDPR, which beefs up the enforcement of privacy rights by introducing a new system of penalties for data protection violations that can scale as high as 4 percent of a company’s global turnover.


Essentially, GDPR means that ignoring the European Union’s fundamental right to privacy — by relying on the fact that few consumers have historically bothered to take companies to court over legal violations they may not even realize are happening — is going to get a lot more risky in just a few months’ time. (On that front, Schrems has crowdfunded a not-for-profit to pursue strategic privacy litigation once GDPR is in place — so start stockpiling the popcorn.)


It’s also worth noting that GDPR strengthens the EU’s consent requirements for processing personal data — so it’s certainly not going to be easier for Facebook to obtain consents for this type of background tracking under the new framework. (The still being formulated ePrivacy Regulation is also relevant to cookie consent, and aims to streamline the rules across the EU.)


And indeed, such tracking will necessarily become far more visible to web users, who may then be a lot less inclined to agree to being ad-stalked almost everywhere they go online primarily for Facebook’s financial benefit.


The rise of tools offering tracker blocking offers another route for irate consumers to thwart online mass surveillance by ad targeting giants.


“We are preparing for the new General Data Protection Regulation with our lead regulator the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. We’ll comply with this new law, just as we’ve complied with existing data protection law in Europe,” added Facebook’s Allan.


It’s still not fully clear how Facebook will comply with GDPR — though it’s announced a new global privacy settings hub is coming. It’s also running a series of data protection workshops in Europe this year, aimed at small and medium businesses — presumably to try to ensure its advertisers don’t find themselves shut out of GDPR Compliance City and on the hook for major privacy legal liabilities themselves, come May 25.


Of course Facebook’s ad business not only relies on people’s web browsing habits to fuel its targeting systems, it relies on advertisers liberally pumping dollars in. Which is another reason consumer trust is so vital. Yet Facebook is facing myriad challenges on that front these days.


In a statement on its website, the Belgium Privacy Commission said it was pleased with the ruling.

“We are of course very satisfied that the court has fully followed our position. For the moment, Facebook is conducting a major advertising campaign where it shares its attachment to privacy. We hope he will put this commitment into practice,” it said. 

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Robotic Modeling Assistant (RoMA) is a joint project out of MIT and Cornell that brings together a variety of different emerging technologies in an attempt to build a better prototyping machine.

Using an augmented reality headset and two controllers, the designer builds a 3D model using a CAD (computer-aided design) program. A robotic arm then goes to work constructing a skeletal model using a simple plastic depositing 3D printer mounted on its hand.

“With RoMA, users can integrate real-world constraints into a design rapidly, allowing them to create well-proportioned tangible artifacts,” according to team leader, Huaishu Peng. “Users can even directly design on and around an existing object, and extending the artifact by in-situ fabrication.”

It is, however, a lot faster than most methods that use the familiar FDM method you’ll find in most desktop 3D printers, and as such could eventually be useful to those looking to essentially sketch things out in a three-dimension space with a bit more control than you’ll get on a 3D printing pen like the 3Doodler.

The arm is also programmed to react in real time to the designer’s actions. “At any time, the designer can touch the handle of the platform and rotate it to bring part of the model forward,” writes Peng. “The robotic arm will park away from the user automatically. If the designer steps away from the printing platform, the robotic fabricator can take the full control of the platform and finish the printing job.”

Понедельник, 19 февраля 2018 22:56

Author Brian Dear talks about the amazing PLATO computing system

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Before Xerox Parc there was PLATO. This amazing computing system came to life in 1960 and by the 1970s was running a number of graphical terminals well before the rise of Xerox PARC and the Alto. This wild little system used some unique hardware and software to create true early educational computing projects and author Brian Dear has written an amazing book on the project. Called Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture, it is available now.

In this week’s Technotopia I talked to Dear at length about the project and the future of cyberculutre. It’s a cool discussion with someone who knows his stuff.


Technotopia is a podcast by John Biggs about a better future. You can subscribe in Stitcher, RSS, or iTunes and listen the MP3 here.

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