Friday, August 25, 2017

Samsung's Note8 Is Its Biggest Galaxy Phone Yet

Samsung on Wednesday unveiled its Galaxy Note8 smartphone, positioning the oversized handset as the ideal choice for those who want to do bigger things. The new Android-powered device's larger Infinity Display features nearly bezel-less full-frontal glass and an edge-to-edge screen.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Merged VR: Augmented Reality Cubed

There is considerable development activity at the high end of hardware and content creation for virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as such AR aliases as mixed reality, extended reality and others.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Facebook Takes Another Stab at Neutralizing Fake News

Stung by charges that it allowed fake news stories to proliferate during the 2016 election cycle, Facebook on Thursday began rolling out broadly a feature meant to regain the trust of its members. The tool effectively will surround questionable stories with related news stories offering different perspectives -- a strategy intended to help readers discern where the truth lies.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Amazon's Secret 1492 Health Team Sets Sail

A secret Amazon team, dubbed "1492," has been working on a skunkworks project devoted entirely to healthcare, CNBC reported Thursday. The unit has been developing hardware devices and software applications related to electronic medical records, telemedicine and other health-related issues.
The "1492" moniker refers to the year that Christopher Columbus made his voyage to the Americas, but perhaps the Amazon team missed the irony that Columbus actually did not realize he had "discovered" a new continent and thought he was somewhere else.

Friday, July 28, 2017

SparkyLinux 5: Great All-Purpose Distro for Confident Linux Users

When I first reviewed the Game Over edition ofSparkyLinux several years ago, I called it one of the best full-service Linux distros catering to game players you could find. That assessment extends to last month's release of the non-gaming edition of this distro.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cortana Makes Smart Thermostat a Glas Act

Microsoft and Johnson Controls this week unveiled Glas, a smart thermostat that runs on Microsoft's Windows 10 IoT Core, a special operating system designed specifically for smaller devices. Glas also utilizes Microsoft's smart voice assistant Cortana and its Azure Cloud to help users save energy while monitoring air quality in the home.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Is WhatsApp being censored in China?

Users of the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp have reported disruptions in China, prompting censorship claims.
Many reported that voice messaging and pictures wouldn't send without a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent China's censorship filters.
The seemed to be working normally on Wednesday morning, but there have been more interruptions since then.
The disruptions come as China clamps down on online platforms.

What was the disruption?

Users began noticing over the weekend that WhatsApp wouldn't send pictures, voice messages and video, although text messages continued to work normally.
The Chinese government hasn't said if it's blocking WhatsApp.
The messaging service hasn't commented either, nor has it told its users there's a technical fault.
The BBC's Beijing bureau has been testing the app every few hours, and while all functions were working normally without a VPN on Wednesday morning, there have seemingly been more interruptions since then.
In its most recent internet censorship report, the free speech advocacy group Freedom House said WhatsApp was blocked in 12 countries, which is more than any other messaging app.

Why would China block WhatsApp?

China is increasing its censorship of online commentary it perceives as politically sensitive, and it's using increasingly sophisticated methods to achieve that goal.
The government is expected to tighten restrictions ahead of the next communist party congress, where President Xi Jinping is tipped to cement his leadership position.
Recently, it blocked social media posts and even private messages and group chats about the death of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

How extensive is online censorship in China?

The government already blocks social media sites and apps, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Search engines like Google are blocked, and access to many foreign media outlets, including the BBC, is restricted.
Other encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram, are also blocked in China.
The government has also pledged to clamp down on users who try to get around the restrictions, by tightening regulations on VPNs.

How popular is WhatsApp in China?

WhatsApp has more than a billion monthly active users globally, as does Facebook's native messenger.
In China, though, WhatsApp is far less popular than local competitors like WeChat, which has over half a billion monthly active users.
The Chinese apps are unencrypted and subject to censorship.
The censorship of search engines, social media and other online services has worked to the benefit Chinese businesses like Tencent, Alibaba and WeChat , who have created their own successful brands with limited foreign competition.