Daily Report: A Net Neutrality Setback for Facebook in India
In the United States, the social media giant has been an advocate of equal treatment of all Internet content. In India, regulators who share that belief have effectively blocked a free Facebook service.
When I was a lot younger I got to experience virtual reality for the first time. This was back in the early 90s and the technology was pretty fantastic for the time, but it was also pretty rough. So it’s still not surprising at all that VR didn’t really take off back then. And yet, not at all surprising that we’ve seen a resurgence of the technology in the last several years.
VR became such a big deal that a lot of different companies out there, like Google, Samsung, HTC, and Facebook, were jumping on the bandwagon to some degree or another. It has worked out for some companies better than others, but it feels safe to say that the dream of the “phone-based VR” experience is basically dead.
Especially since Google is saying goodbye to its own effort, Daydream.
Google first announced the Daydream VR platform, along with the Daydream headset, back in October of 2016. At the time it was seen as a pretty exciting element, but perhaps not necessarily big enough of a deal to get people to actually buy a Pixel phone. Since then, Daydream saw at least one more update, but it never felt like it was really taking off.
And the company confirmed as much in its announcement that Daydream is winding down, saying that neither developers nor customers were showing the engagement numbers they were hoping for. Phone-based VR was something that always felt a little strange to me, especially in ads (from Google) that showed people putting the headset on in public places (like on a train!) and actually using it.
That’s not something I’d ever do, and even using the Daydream headset in my own home to look at distant locations on the globe, or watch a movie, always felt a little bit more than what I wanted. It was cool to visit landmarks in Japan or China or India, but it’s not something I’d do more than once. Indeed, after using the Daydream headset a handful of times I never went back to mine.
Phone-based VR is something that Apple never event wanted to jump on board with, which probably went a long way to securing the feature’s future. Let’s face it: if Apple would have come up with something of its own, it’s at least a little possible that other platforms would have seen a boost in attention, too. Just how it works for some things. Or maybe phone-based VR experiences just aren’t worth it, and this was always going to be the outcome, whether Apple jumped in or not.
We’ll never know in that regard, because Apple has its sights firmly set on augmented reality (AR). We’ll get to see how all of that shakes out probably sometime in 2020 — and whether or not other companies jump on board, too.
With Daydream on the way out, it’s time to say goodbye. So I want to know if you have any fun stories with Daydream, and if you’re actually sad to see it go. Are you still using your Daydream headset to this day on a regular, or even semi-regular basis? Or was Daydream something you tried once and then never went back to? Let me know!
Are you pre-ordering the Google Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL?
Early this morning (on the West coast at least), Google took the stage to unveil its newest smartphones: the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Unfortunately for Google it's safe to say that most people keeping tabs on the event (and maybe even most not watching the showcase) already knew what to expect, because both smartphones were leaked on a regular basis. Before Google unveiled the handsets we basically knew everything there was to know, so Google was just confirming the rumors at a major event.
But that shouldn't take anything away from the Pixel 4 or the Pixel 4 XL.
Not too long ago I asked if, based on just the rumors alone, you were interested in the Pixel 4 smartphones. Would one of these handsets be your next daily driver? For me it always comes down to the final announcements from a company, because things can change -- even at the last minute. So while rumors are a great way to build up hype, I always wait to make a decision about a potential purchase until the company has made everything officially official.
That was my takeaway with the Pixel 4, too. The rumors weren't necessarily painting a disruptive device by any means, even with the new rear camera design, but I don't think that's a bad thing. The Pixel 4 does have a new design compared to past models, so that's nice. However, whether or not that design is actually something you want will come down to personal tastes.
For folks who prefer minimized bezels, it doesn't look like the Pixel 4 lineup is going to be your cup of tea.
Of course, with that big top bezel Google shoved in a lot of sensors and technology so it could boast an advanced face unlock feature. And, by all accounts from early hands-on previews, it sounds like the biometric security measure is a slam dunk.
And the change to a second rear camera is certainly noteworthy, considering Google seemed happy to be leading the camera charge with just a single camera while every other smartphone manufacturer was trying to beat them with multiple. But Google did only go with two, rather than three, or four, or more, so that's something.
On a less fun note, though, it sounds like Google is no longer including unlimited cloud storage for full resolution photos. This was a huge perk for folks who bought a Pixel smartphone, with the exception of the Google Pixel 3a, and it turns out that Google is not including the feature with the Pixel 4, either. Now you'll just get unlimited backups at "high quality" -- which is certainly better than nothing, but not as good as what Google was offering before.
I've already seen some people call off the Pixel 4 as their next daily driver for that missing aspect alone. Which is why it's always good to hear from the company and the official announcements before coming to a final decision. The Pixel 4 lineup doesn't even included headphones in the box, which seems kind of crazy (especially considering the new truly wireless Pixel Buds don't launch until early next year).
But, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are now official. So has your mind changed on the handsets in either direction? Are you now going to make one of them your new daily driver? Or has the official unveiling made you decide to go with a different handset? Let me know!
Notebooks with 16-inch ultra-thin bezel displays are expected to become a new trend among vendors in the next few years, following the upcoming release of Apple's new notebook, according to sources from the supply chain.
Taiwan science parks record revenues of NT$1.666 trillion for January-August
Government-run Hsinchu Science Park (HSP), Southern Taiwan Science Park (STSP) and Central Taiwan Science Park (CTSP) generated combined revenues of NT$1.666 trillion (US$53.54 billion) in January-August 2019, growing 0.29% on year, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).
Foxconn Interconnect Technology adds investment in Kantatsu
Foxconn Interconnect Technology (FIT), A Foxconn Group company that makes electronic connectors and precision components, has disclosed it will subscribe to shares issued by Japan-based optical lens module maker Kantatsu at JPY5.905 billion (US$54.4 million).
Yangtze Memory Technology (YMTC) started producing 256Gb TLC chips using its in-house developed 64-layer 3D NAND technology in the first quarter of 2019, with monthly output reaching 5,000 wafers initially. The China-based memory startup has since then ramping up the chip output without disclosing numbers.
Highlights of the day: Quanta upbeat about server shipments on 5G demand
The commercialization of 5G is injecting momentum into the serve industry. Taiwan-based ODM Quanta Computer expects impressive results for its server lines next year, with shipments to telecom carriers in Europe and the US to start in second-half 2020. The ODM also has ambitious plans for he self-driving car market. It has already developed its own self-driving car and tested it in the US. For TSMC, 5G is definitely its growth driver. Now the foundry's CEO has disclosed that it has raised the forecast for 5G smatphone penetration in 2020.
TSMC raises forecast for 5G phone penetration for 2020
TSMC CEO CC Wei has disclosed the foundry's more optimism about chip demand for 5G smartphones in 2020, and its forecast of the 5G smartphone penetration rate next year has already been revised upward to 15% from its previous single-digit estimate made six months ago.
Quanta expects 5G deployments to bear fruit in 2020
Quanta Computer has started shipping 5G x86 servers to Japan's Rakuten, and is in talks with a number of Europe- and US-based telecom carriers for shipments slated to kick off in the second half of 2020, according to company senior vice president Mike Yang.
Taiwan-based Holtek Semiconductor has developed its first AI chip solution to tap smart living application opportunities and has also launched a spate of new MCU products for automotive, security, and sensor applications, according to industry sources.
Run a full Bitcoin node on your smartphone with the HTC Exodus 1s
HTC may not be playing in the high-end smartphone space anymore, ut the company is currently leading the way in the cryptocurrency hardware space. Today, the company has introduced the HTC Exodus 1s which allows users to run a full Bitcoin node directly on the device while also allowing it to store an entire Bitcoin ...
The Pixel 4 is finally here and man am I ever underwhelmed. I suppose that I shouldn’t be because the phone has been leaked in its entirety for months now with full reviews going up before the phone was even launched. For those who watch these types of things, it shouldn’t come as any surprise ...
At its usual price, the OnePlys 7 offer incredible value for what you pay, but thanks to a new discount and exclusive promo code, the phone is now $280 cheaper! The device in question is the 8GB OnePlus 7 which includes 256GB of storage. When using promo code GBOP7GSBW at checkout, the OnePlus 7 will ...
Teenagers Are Easily Bypassing Apple's Parental Controls
"Kids are outsmarting an army of engineers from Cupertino, California," reports the Washington Post:
And Apple, which introduced "Screen Time" a year ago in response to pressure to address phone overuse by kids, has been slow to make fixes to its software that would close these loopholes. It's causing some parents to raise questions about Apple's commitment to safeguarding children from harmful content and smartphone addiction.
When Screen Time blocks an app from working, it becomes grayed out, and clicking on it does nothing unless parents approve a request for more time. Or, at least, it's supposed to work that way. On Reddit and YouTube, kids are sharing tips and tricks that allow them to circumvent Screen Time. They download special software that can exploit Apple security flaws, disabling Screen Time or cracking their parents' passwords. They search for bugs that make it easy to keep using their phones, unbeknown to parents, such as changing the time to trick the system or using iMessage to watch YouTube videos.
"These are not rocket science, backdoor, dark Web sort of hacks," said Chris McKenna, founder of the Internet safety group Protect Young Eyes. "It blows me away that Apple hasn't thought through the fact that a persistent middle school boy or girl can bang around and find them."
40% Of America's Schools Have Now Dropped Their SAT/ACT Testing Requirement
"A record number" of U.S. schools are now accepting nearly all of their students without requiring an SAT or ACT test score, reports the Washington Post:
Robert A. Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, which opposes the misuse of standardized tests, said the past year has seen the "fastest growth spurt ever" of schools ending the SAT/ACT test score as an admission requirement. Over the summer, more than one school a week announced the change. Nearly 50 accredited colleges and universities that award bachelor's degrees announced from September 2018 to September 2019 that they were dropping the admissions requirement for an SAT or ACT score, FairTest said. That brings the number of accredited schools to have done so to 1,050 -- about 40 percent of the total, the nonprofit said.
While the test-optional list has some schools with specific missions -- there are religious colleges, music and art conservatories, nursing schools -- it also includes more than half of the top 100 liberal arts colleges on the U.S. News & World Report list, FairTest said. Also on the list are the majority of colleges and universities in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District of Columbia and the six New England states...
Research has consistently shown that ACT and SAT scores are strongly linked to family income, mother's education level and race... The University of Chicago, which abandoned the requirement last year, reported in July that its decision, along with an increase in financial aid and outreach, led to a 20 percent increase in first-generation, low-income and rural students and veterans to commit to the school.
Though people can still leave voicemail messages, "Some AT&T customers say they have not had access to their voicemail since the beginning of October," one local news site reported this week:
An AT&T spokesperson sent the following statement to ABC11 about the issue: "We're aware that some customers may be having difficulty retrieving their voicemail due to a vendor server problem. We're in contact with the vendor as they work to fix it and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."
ABC11 received several messages from frustrated AT&T customers.
"I have been told multiple times that it would be fixed the same day. Today I was told there is no estimated repair date. I don't know what to do. I am a psychologist and people who have mental health issues call me," one said. "They get my message and leave me a voicemail. There is no indication that I won't be able to access it."
"Voicemail is a crucial function on most people's devices. Having it down for weeks is unacceptable," another said. "If they don't fix this issue they will be losing lot of customers. I am been calling daily, but no result."
Slashdot reader amxcoder writes today that AT&T eventually cited their vendor's server issue back on October 9th in their help forum, and that in the 11 days since, "the problem appear to be spreading."
After contacting Tech Support on October 20th, it appears that Level One tech support is not aware of the problem, and Level Two reports the problem is affecting Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Maryland, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee. However California and possibly other states seem to be affected as well.
Because AT&T is being tight-lipped about this outage, even to it's own customers that it is affecting, it's difficult to know how many customers this is impacting. No official statement is being sent to customers, nor are customers being updated on progress or given an ETA on resolving the problem. Some online chatter is wondering if AT&T is trying to keep this "under the radar" as long as they can because of something more nefarious, such as a data breach, hacked servers, or even ransomware. Anyone's guess is a good as another without official public statement from AT&T.
Counterfeits aren't the only problem when shopping on Amazon, reports CNBC. The grocery section is "littered" with expired foods.
From baby formula and coffee creamer to beef jerky and granola bars, items are arriving spoiled and well past their sell-by date, Amazon customers say. Interviews with brands, consumers, third-party sellers and consultants all point to loopholes in Amazon's technology and logistics system that allow for expired items to proliferate with little to no accountability.
Consumer safety advocates worry that as the marketplace grows, the problem will only get worse...
CNBC scanned the site's Grocery & Gourmet category, finding customer complaints about expired hot sauce, beef jerky, granola bars, baby formula and baby food, as well as six-month-old Goldfish crackers and a 360-pack of coffee creamer that arrived with a "rancid smell." A data analytics firm that specializes in the Amazon Marketplace recently analyzed the site's 100 best-selling food products for CNBC and found that at least 40% of sellers had more than five customer complaints about expired goods....
Amazon's spokesperson said the company uses a combination of humans and artificial intelligence to monitor the 22 million-plus pieces of customer feedback received weekly for product quality and safety concerns... Sarah Sorscher of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says Amazon's technology is clearly coming up short. "Expiration dates are a red flag for what else is harder to see," she said. "If you can't do something as basic as check an expiration date, then what else are you missing...? They've chosen to set up a business model where they don't take responsibility for the food that they sell," said Sorscher. "Traditional grocery stores have a lot of products, but they don't put it on the shelf if it's not safe."
Nissan's Next Electric Car Could Also Provide Power To Your Home
From a report:
The owner of an electric car will be able to meet household power needs from the vehicle itself based on a technology developed by Nissan, the Japanese auto giant.
It plans to introduce the new 'Leaf' electric cars in the Indian market next year and is on the look-out for local partners for collaboration on the application of its latest 'Vehicle-to-Home' technology (V2H) in the state. The technology allows electric vehicles to not only receive power but also store it and send it back to the source. The 'Leaf' could be an alternative to a home battery system like inverter.
Household power can be supplied from the 'Leaf' lithium-ion battery (40 kWh) of the car by installing a power control system connected to the household's distribution board. The vehicles can also be charged from the household power supply at night (lean usage period).
Is Andrew Yang Wrong About Robots Taking Our Jobs?
U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang "is full of it," argues Slate's senior business and economics correspondent, challenging Yang's contention (in a debate Tuesday) that American jobs were being lost to automation:
Following the debate, a "fact check" by the AP claimed that Yang was right and Warren wrong. "Economists mostly blame [manufacturing] job losses on automation and robots, not trade deals," it stated. But this was incorrect. No such consensus exists, and if anything, the evidence heavily suggests that trade has been the bigger culprit in recent decades. All of which points to a broader issue: Yang's schtick about techno doom may be well-intentioned, but it is largely premised on BS, and is adding to the widespread confusion about the impact of automation on the economy.
Yang is not pulling his ideas out of thin air. Economists have been debating whether automation or trade is more responsible for the long-term decline of U.S. factory work for a while, and it's possible to find experts on both sides of the issue. After remaining steady for years, the total number of U.S. manufacturing jobs suddenly plummeted in the early 2000s -- from more than 17 million in 2000 to under 14 million in 2007... [But] America hasn't just lost manufacturing workers; as Susan Houseman of the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research notes, the number of factories also declined by around 22 percent between 2000 and 2014, which isn't what you'd expect if assembly workers were just being replaced by machines. In a 2017 paper, meanwhile, economists Daron Acemoglu of MIT and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University concluded that the growth of industrial robots in the U.S. since 1990 could only explain between between 360,000 and 670,000 job losses. By comparison, the proof placing blame on trade and China is much stronger. Justin Pierce of the Federal Reserve Board and Peter Schott of Yale have found evidence that the U.S.'s decision to grant the People's Republic permanent normal trade relations in 2000 led to declines in American jobs...
New technology will change the economy and the way people work. It already is. But those shifts will be more complex than Yang admits and probably won't look like the wave of mass unemployment that he and his like-minded supporters tend to envision... It's not just unrealistic. It's lazy. When you buy the sci-fi notion that technology is simply a disembodied force making humanity obsolete and that there's little that can be done about it, you stop thinking about ideas that will actually prevent workers from being screwed over by the forces of globalization or new tech. By prophesying imaginary problems, you ignore the real ones.
For the "Privacy Project" newsletter of the New York Times, opinion writer Charlie Warzel interviewed U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Their far-ranging conversation covered everything from whether Facebook should be able to run political ads to his proposed Department of the Attention Economy:
Andrew Yang: I was talking to a researcher recently and she described a concept called data dignity, which I thought really says it all. Right now we're being systematically deprived of our dignity and we think it is fine because we're getting these incredible services. Perhaps that worked in the early stages of the internet. But now we're waking up to the fact that the trade is much more serious and profound than we originally realized... I think we should be getting paid in a data dividend. Every time we post a photo or interact with a social media company we're putting information out there and that information should still be ours...
We've become like rats in a maze where we're constantly hit by messages from these companies know everything about us. They know more about us than our families do. We're responding to stimuli and we think we're making choices. But it's because we've shared so much over time that they have a keen sense of what we want. There's something fundamental at stake here, which is: What does human agency look like? What are our rights as citizens?
Yang also points out that when it comes to making things better, "it's not like individual consumers can band together to make this happen. Government needs to be a counterweight to the massive power and information inequities between us and the technology companies."
Yang also says people would be less desperate to sell their data if they were receiving his proposed Universal Basic Income -- but "if individuals want to share their data or information or even their private lives with other people, then that's their prerogative."
Is America's Federal Banking System Considering Its Own Digital Cryptocurrency?
America's lawmakers and Federal Reserve officials "are so concerned about Facebook's plans to launch a new digital currency," reports Politico's financial services reporter, "that they're contemplating a novel response -- having the central bank create a competitor."
Momentum is building for an idea that was once considered outlandish -- a U.S. government-run virtual currency that would replace physical cash, a dramatic move that could discourage major companies like Facebook from creating their own digital coins. Facebook's proposed currency, Libra, has forced the Fed to consider the issue because of a fear that private companies could establish their own currencies and take control over the global payments system. Some Fed officials share the concern about a new balkanized currency system outside government control that Facebook has threatened to unleash. "Libra bust this way out into the open," said Karen Petrou, a managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics who advises executives on coming policy shifts.
But it's not just Facebook. The matter is also taking on urgency as other countries consider creating their own digital currencies -- another potential challenge to the primacy of the U.S. dollar. The head of the Bank of England has floated the idea that central banks could create a network of digital currencies to replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency... The Bank for International Settlements, which represents the world's central banks, said early this year that most were conducting research into central bank digital currencies and many were progressing from conceptual work into experimentation and proofs-of-concept...
The details of a possible [U.S.] Fed-developed digital currency are still vague. But advocates and experts say such an instrument could give consumers a new way to make payments without having to rely on banks and without incurring fees when they transfer money. The digital currency would likely take some inspiration from the technology that underpins other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The discussions are informal at this point. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have written to the central bank asking officials to consider how they might approach a digital currency, and some Fed officials have begun to acknowledge the government might someday play a role. "It is inevitable," Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said at a recent conference, according to Reuters. "I think it is better for us to start getting our hands around it."
The article argues that America's central bankers "worry that another major company could enter the space. If the Fed doesn't establish a digital currency, who will...?
"The growing pressure on the Fed is evidence of how rapid developments in technology are beginning to shake the foundations of the financial system, raising questions about whether policymakers are prepared."
Sprint: LG G Flex Will Launch Online on January 31 for $299 on Contract
Starting today, Sprint customers can pre-order the unique LG G Flex smartphone for $299 online with a two year contract. By pre-ordering between now and January 31st, customers will receive a complimentary Quickwindow Folio Case, which is valued at $60. Sprint…
Motorola Announces Moto X Launch in UK, France, and Germany on February 1
Certain European consumers interested in the Moto X smartphone from Motorola will soon have their chance to purchase the excellent handset. Expected to launch on February 1st, Motorola will sell its iconic Moto X device in Black or White in…
Guess what's on the receiving end of more NASA dollars for SLS?
Hint: It rhymes with 'throwing' as lawmakers baulk at lobbing an unknown amount of cash into the 2024 lunar bonfire
NASA brought a smile to faces of Boeing shareholders this week with the announcement that it would be ordering 10 Space Launch System (SLS) core stages from the US aviation giant for Artemis rocket launches to the Moon. Although paying for the things could be tricky.…