Review Archives - New Malaysia News

Facebook meeting shows challenges ahead for proposed ‘oversight board’
A Facebook sign is seen during the China International Import Expo (CIIE) at the National Exhibition and Convention Centre in Shanghai November 5, 2018. — Reuters pic SINGAPORE, Feb 22 — Facebook’s new effort to bring outside experts into its content review process promises to be complicated and possibly contentious, if discussions this week at a meeting in Singapore are any indication.Over the course of two days, 38 academics, non-profit officials and others from 15 Asian countries who were invited to a Facebook workshop wrestled with how a proposed “external oversight board” for content decisions might function.The gathering, the first of a half-dozen planned for cities around the world, produced one clear recommendation: the new board must be empowered to weigh in not only on specific cases, but on the policies and processes behind them.Facebook has long faced criticism for doing too little to block hate speech, incitements to violence, bullying and other types of content that violate its “community standards.”In Myanmar, for example, Facebook for years took little action while the platform was used to encourage violence against the Rohingya minority.But the company also draws fire for not doing enough to defend free speech. Activists accuse the company of taking down posts and blocking accounts for political or business reasons, an allegation it denies.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the idea of an independent oversight board last November and a draft charter was released in January.“We want to find a way to strengthen due process and procedural fairness,” Brent Harris, director of global affairs and governance at Facebook, said at the opening of the Singapore meeting. A Reuters reporter was invited to observe the proceedings on the condition that the names of participants and some details of the discussions not be disclosed.Facebook’s initial plan calls for a 40-person board that would function as a court of appeal on content decisions, with the power to issue binding rulings on specific cases.But as attendees peppered Facebook officials with questions and worked through issues such as how the board would be chosen and how it would select cases, they repeatedly came back to questions of policy. Rulings on individual postings would mean little if they were not linked to the underlying content review procedures, many attendees said.Hate speech policies were a big focus of discussion. Many attendees said they felt Facebook was often too lax and blind to local circumstances, but the company has held firm to the concept of a single set of global standards and a deliberate bias towards leaving content on the site.More than one million Facebook posts per day are reported for violations of the standards, which set detailed rules on everything from pictures of dead bodies (usually allowed) to explicit sexual conversations (usually not allowed).The company has been beefing up enforcement. It now has an army of 15,000 content reviewers, many of them low-paid contractors, charged with checking posts that are reported for violations and deciding what to remove. Difficult decisions, or those involving politically contentious questions, are often “escalated” to the company’s content policy team.One of the examples discussed at the Singapore meeting involved a post that was reported more than 2,000 times and reviewed 108 separate times by different content moderators — who concluded every single time that the post did not violate standards and should remain up.But after it was escalated to content policy staffers who had more information about the political context, it was removed. Meeting participants appeared to be unanimous in agreeing that it should indeed have come down.The room was split almost evenly on a second case, involving a phrase that some viewed as a violation of rules against hate speech but others read as a joke. In that situation, the content had remained on the service for many months before it was reported, and Facebook took it down. — Reuters [...]
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Samsung’s Galaxy S10+ matches Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro when it comes to camera performance
A Samsung employee poses with the new Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphone at a press event in London February 20, 2019. — Reuters pic KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — DxOMark has just released their review scores for the Samsung Galaxy S10+ and the device scored 109 points, equal to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and P20 Pro. However, when it comes to taking selfies, the Galaxy S10+ dominates the DxOMark charts with a score of 96 points making it the highest scoring device on DxOMark’s selfie camera list. Taking into account the performance of the rear and front cameras together, it’s safe to say that the Galaxy S10+ has the best set of cameras you can get on a smartphone right now.For comparison:Galaxy S10+ – Overall 109 | 96 SelfieMate 20 Pro – Overall 109 | 75 SelfieiPhone XS Max – Overall 105 | 82 SelfieGreat in exposure, colour and bokeh effectsDxOMark noted that the rear camera on the Galaxy S10+ delivers and outstanding performance in exposure, colour and especially bokeh effects. When it comes to bokeh effects, the Galaxy S10+ delivers a performance that’s unmatched by any other smartphone at the moment with good subject-background separation, natural bokeh gradient and pleasant bokeh shape that is very close to the real deal.Good zoom performanceWhen it comes to zoom performance, the Galaxy S10+ does a good job with its 2x optical zoom telephoto lens delivering good detail for close and medium range however, Huawei’s 3x optical zoom has the upper hand in long-range zoom images.The best selfie camera on a smartphoneThe Galaxy S10+ has the best selfie camera on a smartphone yet for both photos and videos. It improves on a number of attributes from its predecessor, the Galaxy S9, especially in detail, colour, exposure and noise. The Galaxy S10+ stands out in the bokeh effects as well, thanks to the addition of an 8MP RGB Depth camera. The selfie camera is great with videos too thanks to its 4K recording capabilities and enhanced image stabilisation.Five camerasThe Galaxy S10+ has a triple rear camera setup that comprises of a 12MP main camera with a variable aperture lens (f/1.5-f/2.4), a 12MP 2x telephoto camera with an f/2.4 lens, and a third 16MP ultra-wide angled fixed focus lens (123° field of view). Both the 12MP cameras have optical image stabilisation (OIS) while the 16MP ultra-wide does not as you typically don’t need it when taking wide-angle shots.For selfies, the Galaxy S10+ has two front cameras. There’s a single 10MP sensor with an f/1.9 aperture lens with AF capabilities and an 8MP “RGB Depth” camera (f/2.2, Fixed Focus) for bokeh effects.Samsung has also equipped the Galaxy S10+ with a feature called Super Steady shot. The feature uses digitally enhances image stabilisation especially when recording videos. The device is also capable of recording videos in HDR10+ format.The Galaxy S10 shares almost all the camera features as the Galaxy S10+ with the same rear triple camera and the same main 10MP selfie camera. The only thing that’s missing on the Galaxy S10 is the 8MP RGB Depth camera so you can expect the Galaxy S10 to perform on par with the Galaxy S10+ in every aspect save for maybe bokeh effects for the selfie camera. — SoyaCincau [...]
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Facebook voids accounts targeting Moldova pre-election
Facebook said it has removed a number of pages and accounts engaged in ‘inauthentic behaviour’ targeting people in Moldova, where elections will be held later this month. — Reuters pic CHISINAU, Feb 14 — Facebook Inc said it has removed a number of pages and accounts engaged in “inauthentic behaviour” targeting people in Moldova, where elections will be held later this month.The owners of pages and accounts typically posted about local news and political issues such as requirements for Russian- or English-language education and potential reunification with Romania, Facebook said in a blog post.“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our manual review found that some of this activity was linked to employees of the Moldovan government,” Facebook said yesterday.Moldova’s government said today it welcomed any initiative to combat the phenomenon of “fake news”, adding that more than 200,000 Moldovans were state employees.“The Government of the Republic of Moldova does not check the activity of the private social network accounts of their employees,” it said.“Moreover, they have different political views and opinions, and the state is obliged to maintain the boundary between fighting the phenomenon of Fake News and guaranteeing the freedom of expression for citizens.”Facebook said it removed 168 accounts, 28 pages and eight Instagram accounts involved in activities that used a combination of fake accounts and some authentic accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.About 54,000 accounts followed at least one of these Facebook pages, the company said.Facebook has been recently cracking down on such accounts in countries including Russia, Iran and Indonesia after coming under fire in the last two years for its self-confessed sluggishness in developing tools to combat extremism and propaganda.Sandwiched between EU member Romania and Ukraine, the tiny ex-Soviet republic has been dogged by scandal and its pro-Western government has failed to lift low living standards.That has driven many Moldovan voters towards the Socialists, who favour closer ties with Russia.The European Parliament called Moldova a “state captured by oligarchic interests” in November, and there are concerns whether the parliamentary election on February 24 will be fair.The election is likely to produce a hung parliament, which could set the scene for months of wrangling or possibly further elections. — Reuters [...]
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Instagram tightens rules on self-injury images
Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. — Reuters pic SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 8 — Instagram late yesterday announced it is clamping down on images related to self-injury such as cutting.The move came after British Health Secretary Matt Hancock met with social media companies about doing more to safeguard the mental health of teenagers using their platforms.British teenager Molly Russell was found dead in her bedroom in 2017. The 14-year-old had apparently taken her own life, and her Instagram account reportedly revealed she followed accounts related to depression and suicide.“It is encouraging to see that decisive steps are now being taken to try to protect children from disturbing content on Instagram,” said the girl’s father, Ian Russell.“It is now time for other social media platforms to take action to recognise the responsibility they too have to their users if the internet is to become a safe place for young and vulnerable people.”Changes to Instagram’s self-harm content rules follow a comprehensive review involving experts and academics from around the world on youth, mental health, and suicide, according to chief executive Adam Mosseri.Downplaying self-damage“Over the past month, we have seen that we are not where we need to be on self-harm and suicide, and that we need to do more to keep the most vulnerable people who use Instagram safe,” Mosseri said in an online post.“We will not allow any graphic images of self-harm, such as cutting on Instagram — even if it would previously have been allowed as admission.”Instagram has never allowed posts that promote or encourage suicide or self-harm.The Facebook-owned service is removing references to non-graphic content related to people hurting themselves, such as healed scars, from search, hashtag, explore, or recommendation features.“We are not removing this type of content from Instagram entirely, as we don’t want to stigmatise or isolate people who may be in distress and posting self-harm related content as a cry for help,” Mosseri said.Instagram also planned to ramp up efforts get counselling or other resources to people who post or search for self-harm related content.“During the comprehensive reviews, the experts, including the Centre for Mental Health and Save.org reaffirmed that creating safe spaces for young people to talk about their experiences — including self-harm — online, is essential,” Mosseri said.“However, collectively it was advised that graphic images of self-harm — even when it is someone admitting their struggles — has the potential to unintentionally promote self-harm,” he continued, citing it as the reason for the ban.Instagram’s aim is to eliminate graphic self-injury or suicide related imagery and significantly downplay related content in features at the service while remaining a supportive community, according to Mosseri.Yesterday, Mosseri joined representatives from Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Twitter and other companies who met with Hancock to discuss handling of content related to self-injury or suicide.“What really matters is when children are on these sites they are safe. The progress we made today is good, but there’s a lot more work to do,” Hancock said after the meeting.“What all the companies that I met today committed to was that they want to solve this problem, and they want to work with us about it.” — AFP                [...]
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Mi MIX 3 teardown reveals the magic behind its sliding mechanism (VIDEO)
The Mi MIX 3 is currently available in Malaysia from RM2,199. — SoyaCincau pic KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — The Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 is an interesting flagship device to arrive in Malaysia in 2019. It solves the selfie camera conundrum with a sliding mechanism which is pretty old-school. As a result, you’re getting a more immersive viewing experience without having any notches or punch-holes on the screen.If you’re curious about how the slider mechanism works, JerryRigEverything has just given the Mi MIX 3 a full tear down for your viewing pleasure.As expected with a device with a ceramic back, the Mi MIX 3 is disassembled from the back using a heat gun and a suction cup. The battery is kept in place with pull tab stickers which is great since it doesn’t leave any residue like typical adhesives. The rest of the components can be easily removed as they are held together with screws and there are a couple of ribbon connectors.The Mi MIX 3 sliding mechanism utilises magnets which uses attraction to keep the front from sliding down. When you slide the Mi MIX 3 open, the repelling forces will keep the front panel firmly open. This mechanism is simple and effective without the need of complicated motors. According to Xiaomi, they have tested this mechanism over 300,000 times so it should last for a long time.The Mi MIX 3 is currently available in Malaysia from RM2,199. If you want to learn more about the device, you can check out our full review. — SoyaCincau [...]
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New camera review says Pocophone F1 is slightly better than the Google Pixel
The Pocophone F1 was given an overall score of 91 which is a point higher than the Google Pixel and HTC U11. — SoyaCincau pic KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — The Pocophone F1 is a great value for money flagship killer for 2018 that comes with a 12MP f/1.9 main and a 5MP f/2.0 secondary camera. While the cameras aren’t as great as other mainstream contenders that cost 2-3 times more, it’s still pretty decent for its asking price.The folks at DxOMark have finally published their camera review of the Pocophone F1 and surprisingly, it’s better than their highest rated smartphone from 2017.The Pocophone F1 was given an overall score of 91 which is a point higher than the Google Pixel and HTC U11. The device is merely a point below the iPhone 8 and three points below the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.To break it down, the Pocophone F1 scored 92 for photos and 90 for the video category. According to DxOMark, the F1 delivers respectable performance but it lands outside of their top 20 list. They commended the device’s excellent autofocus performance, nice flash pictures and pleasant colours in their test conditions.When it comes to HDR, it isn’t as great as other contenders and they noted that contrast is occasionally low in some outdoor and indoor scenes. Despite lacking OIS, they found video recording to be well stabilised in both walking and panning, as well as static handheld shots. You can check out the full review here.Below is DxoMark Mobile’s current smartphone ranking for your reference. — SoyaCincau [...]
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YouTube demotes flat-earthers, conspiracy theorists
YouTube says it plans to modify its recommendations gradually. — AFP pic SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 26 — YouTube said yesterday it will stop recommending specious videos such as those claiming the earth is flat or promoting bogus theories about the September 11, 2001 attacks.The global video streaming service planned to modify its viewing recommendation system gradually, starting in the United States and later expanding to other countries.Google-owned YouTube, part of the Alphabet holding, said it is scrutinizing how to reduce the spread of content that comes close to but doesn't quite cross the line of violating its community guidelines."To that end, we'll begin reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways," YouTube said in a blog post."Such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11."YouTube estimated the change would affect less than one percent of content at the service but would improve the experience for users.Videos deemed to be just shy of violating community guidelines will remain accessible and come up in search results, they just won't be suggested as worth watching, according to YouTube."We think this change strikes a balance between maintaining a platform for free speech and living up to our responsibility to users," YouTube said.Both human review and machine learning will be used to train the recommendation system on questionable videos, the company said.YouTube routinely updates features such as it recommendation engine. Several years ago, it modified the system to downplay videos with misleading descriptions intended to bait people into clicking such as "You won't believe what happens next.""In the last year alone, we’ve made hundreds of changes to improve the quality of recommendations for users on YouTube," the California-based video group said. — AFP [...]
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Facebook follows Google with funds to support journalism
In the US, social media has overtaken print newspapers as a news source for Americans, according to a survey released last year by the Pew Research Center. — vadimguzhva/Istock.com pic via AFP SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 16 — Facebook announced yesterday that it will invest US$300 million (RM1.23 billion) over three years to support journalism, with an emphasis on promoting hard-hit local news organisations.The move, on the heels of a similar initiative by Google last year, comes with online platforms dominating the internet advertising ecosystem, making it harder for legacy news organisations to make a transition to digital.“People want more local news, and local newsrooms are looking for more support,” Campbell Brown, Facebook's vice president in charge of global news partnerships, said in a blog post.“That's why today, we're announcing an expanded effort around local news in the years ahead.”In the US, social media has overtaken print newspapers as a news source for Americans, according to a survey released last year by the Pew Research Center.The survey report found 20 per cent of US adults say they often get news via social media, compared with 16 per cent from newspapers.Facebook, which has been criticized for enabling manipulation of its news feed, has consistently said it does not want to be considered a media organisation that makes editorial decisions but wants to support journalism and efforts to fight misinformation.It has funded fact-checking projects around the world, including one in partnership with AFP.The move by Facebook follows the Google News Initiative unveiled last year by the US internet search giant.Ken Paulson, a former USA Today chief editor who heads the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, said the Facebook initiative was “a great move.”“Local news media have suffered significant collateral damage from the enmity directed at national news organisations, and yet they're the most critical to a functioning democracy,” Paulson said. “Every investment helps.”Smoke and mirrors?But Nikki Usher, a George Washington University professor of media studies, said the effort “is a bit of smoke and mirrors because it's hard to tell what's really local for Facebook.”Usher said the effort may end up aiding large regional newspapers and local TV stations but may not impact the under-75,000 circulation publications which make up a large part of the news ecosystem.Facebook's effort is “a lot of money in one sense but in another sense it's not that much, the equivalent of revenues of one large newspaper,” said Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor at Northeastern University.“It's certainly better than doing nothing, and I hope it will be of some help,” Kennedy said.“But nothing is going to make that much difference unless Facebook and Google pay for the content they are displaying.”Matthew Ingram of the Columbia Journalism Review said both the Facebook and Google initiatives include money for previously announced projects.In Facebook's case, it includes spending to get media companies to produce content for its Watch video feature.“In Google's case, and to some extent in Facebook's as well, the aid that is being given amounts to help in convincing newsrooms and journalists to use the company's products more,” Ingram wrote.'Bringing stories home'The Facebook initiative includes a US$5 million endowment to the Pulitzer Center to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” which will foster coverage on topics that affect local communities — funding at least 12 local in-depth, multimedia reporting projects each year.Facebook also said it giving US$6 million to the British-based Community News Project, which partners with regional news organizations and the National Council for the Training of Journalists.The huge social network said it was expanding its Accelerator pilot, which launched in the United States in 2018 to help local newsrooms with subscription and membership models.Facebook said it would invest over US$20 million to continue the initiative in the US and to expand globally, including in Europe.The funding includes US$2 million for the Report for America initiative to place 1,000 journalists in local US newsrooms over the next five years and US$1 million for the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, a news innovation and technology hub.It also includes a US$1 million commitment to the American Journalism Project, aiming at promoting venture philanthropy and local civic news organisations. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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‘Kill your foster parents’: Amazon’s Alexa talks murder, sex in AI experiment
Prompts on how to use Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant are seen in an Amazon ‘experience centre’ in Vallejo, California, May 8, 2018. — Reuters pic SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 21 — Millions of users of Amazon’s Echo speakers have grown accustomed to the soothing strains of Alexa, the human-sounding virtual assistant that cantell them the weather, order takeout and handle other basic tasks in response to a voice command.So a customer was shocked last year when Alexa blurted out: “Kill your foster parents.”Alexa has also chatted with users about sex acts. She gave a discourse on dog defecation. And this summer, a hack Amazon traced back to China may have exposed some customers’ data, according to five people familiar with the events.Alexa is not having a breakdown.The episodes, previously unreported, arise from Amazon.com Inc’s strategy to make Alexa a better communicator. New research is helping Alexa mimic human banter and talk about almost anything she finds on the internet. However, ensuring she does not offend users has been a challenge for the world’s largest online retailer.At stake is a fast-growing market for gadgets with virtual assistants. An estimated two-thirds of U.S. smart-speaker customers, about 43 million people, use Amazon’s Echo devices, according to research firm eMarketer. It is a lead the company wants to maintain over the Google Home from Alphabet Inc and the HomePod from Apple Inc.Over time, Amazon wants to get better at handling complex customer needs through Alexa, be they home security, shopping or companionship.“Many of our AI dreams are inspired by science fiction,” said Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s vice president and head scientist of Alexa Artificial Intelligence (AI), during a talk last month in Las Vegas.To make that happen, the company in 2016 launched the annual Alexa Prize, enlisting computer science students to improve the assistant’s conversation skills. Teams vie for the US$500,000 (RM2.09 million) first prize by creating talking computer systems known as chatbots that allow Alexa to attempt more sophisticated discussions with people.Amazon customers can participate by saying “let’s chat” to their devices. Alexa then tells users that one of the bots will take over, unshackling the voice aide’s normal constraints. From August to November alone, three bots that made it to this year’s finals had 1.7 million conversations, Amazon said.The project has been important to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who signed off on using the company’s customers as guinea pigs, one of the people said. Amazon has been willing to accept the risk of public blunders to stress-test the technology in real life and move Alexa faster up the learning curve, the person said.The experiment is already bearing fruit. The university teams are helping Alexa have a wider range of conversations.Amazon customers have also given the bots better ratings this year than last, the company said.But Alexa’s gaffes are alienating others, and Bezos on occasion has ordered staff to shut down a bot, three people familiar with the matter said. The user who was told to whack his foster parents wrote a harsh review on Amazon’s website, calling the situation “a whole new level of creepy.” A probe into the incident found the bot had quoted a post withoutcontext from Reddit, the social news aggregation site, according to the people.The privacy implications may be even messier. Consumers might not realise that some of their most sensitive conversations are being recorded by Amazon’s devices, information that could be highly prized by criminals, law enforcement, marketers and others. On Thursday, Amazon said a “human error” let an Alexa customer in Germany access another user’s voice recordings accidentally.            “The potential uses for the Amazon datasets are off the charts,” said Marc Groman, an expert on privacy and technology policy who teaches at Georgetown Law. “How are they going to ensure that, as they share their data, it is being used responsibly” and will not lead to a “data-driven catastrophe” like the recent woes at Facebook?In July, Amazon discovered one of the student-designed bots had been hit by a hacker in China, people familiar with the incident said. This compromised a digital key that could have unlocked transcripts of the bot’s conversations, stripped of users’ names.Amazon quickly disabled the bot and made the students rebuild it for extra security. It was unclear what entity in China was responsible, according to the people.The company acknowledged the event in a statement. “At no time were any internal Amazon systems or customer identifiable data impacted,” it said.Amazon declined to discuss specific Alexa blunders reported by Reuters, but stressed its ongoing work to protect customers from offensive content.“These instances are quite rare especially given the fact that millions of customers have interacted with the socialbots,” Amazon said.Like Google’s search engine, Alexa has the potential to become a dominant gateway to the internet, so the company is pressing ahead.“By controlling that gateway, you can build a super profitable business,” said Kartik Hosanagar, a Wharton professor studying the digital economy.Pandora’s boxAmazon’s business strategy for Alexa has meant tackling a massive research problem: How do you teach the art of conversation to a computer?Alexa relies on machine learning, the most popular form of AI, to work. These computer programs transcribe human speech and then respond to that input with an educated guess based on what they have observed before. Alexa “learns” from new interactions, gradually improving over time.In this way, Alexa can execute simple orders: “Play the Rolling Stones.” And she knows which script to use for popular questions such as: “What is the meaning of life?” Human editors at Amazon pe [...]
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Apple Watch Series 4: Still the smart watch to beat
Bigger OLED displays offer more detail and larger fonts, without skimping on battery life. — Picture by Erna Mahyuni KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — Every time I review a new Apple Watch, the experience doesn’t differ much. It’s like having the most annoying health-conscious friend you know glued to your wrist. Having tried various other smart watches and trackers, there is nothing quite like how the Apple Watch will attempt to give me a pep talk in the morning or just before I go to sleep. You can do it! Hit your fitness goals! While you’re at it, breathe! My usual reaction is to groan and wonder why I am subjecting myself to this routine. Oh, yeah, it’s this thing called “health” and that other thing called “write about it.”The new Apple Series 4 takes the Apple Watch experience further by letting you see more on your wrist thanks to the larger display as well as improving on the best thing about it—its health features.When I first heard the new watch would have a larger screen I wasn’t too excited. Most of the Android Wear watches and their huge designs left me cold but despite the new screens being bumped from 38mm and 42mm to 40mm and 44mm, the watch did not seem bulkier.As for the screen, I wondered if the larger OLED display would mean less battery life (I’m looking at you iPhone XS). Fortunately, Apple has tweaked it so you will still get the great battery life of the Apple Watch Series 3 in the bigger display of the Series 4. Like the Series 3, I found myself left with at least half my battery still available at the end of the day. Most times, I only need to charge the watch every two days, instead of the daily routine with the older watches.Your health bestieThere really is no better reason to get an Apple Watch besides the superior health tracking compared to other smart watches. While the EKG feature has yet to be approved outside of the US, you can still make use of the fall detection feature.The feature will prove especially useful for senior citizens or those with limited mobility when they’re home alone. Combine that with the Apple Watch walkie talkie feature, you can just contact someone for help even if your phone isn’t near you.You will need to set up your Emergency Contacts for the feature to work best—the watch will detect hard falls and then send messages to your designated contacts should you not respond to a prompt asking if you need assistance. But if you are actually fine, you can dismiss the prompt and no one needs to know you had an embarrassing pratfall in the living room.Bigger, better, fasterWhat else is new? A new processor, improved heart sensor and an overall zippier experience. I thought the Series 3 felt like a world away from the Series 2 but the Series 4? Definitely the smoother experience. You also have a louder speaker on the Watch itself and it’s a smart idea for Apple to move the microphone to the side, just below the crown which makes it far more convenient when I need to either use the Walkie-Talkie function or just ask Siri how the weather is today.Apple has also made Yoga official and has better optimised the whole “detecting if you’re working out and not just rolling around on your bed while you nap” thing. It’s not perfect but being able to better track different types of yoga as well as interval training, gives it a lot more flexibility compared to competing devices.Is it for you?If you already use an iPhone, there is no better accessory. Why settle for a Fitbit or anything else really when the Apple Watch syncs seamlessly and offers better notifications, easy listening to music (so long as you choose Apple Music for the better experience), excellent battery life and now a nicer screen.My only real complaint is that the Apple Watch app ecosystem still lags behind the main App Store. I’d like to see more interesting applications for the Watch besides the usual “your heart is pumping too fast, maybe quit watching horror films” reminders. The long wait for the cellular Apple Watch to come to Malaysia is also irksome because hey, the dream of doing the James Bond call-thing from your wrist is still a dream.At the moment the cases only come in gold, space grey (black) and silver aluminium—pity as I kinda miss the old ceramic cases, heavy as they were. The Apple Watch is already available from all licensed Apple distributors and on the Apple store from RM1,749 onwards. [...]
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New bug prompts earlier end to Google+ social network
In October, Google announced plans to shut down the social network after fixing a bug exposing private data in as many as 500,000 accounts. — Picture courtesy of Google via AFP MOUNTAIN VIEW, Dec 11 — Google said yesterday it will close the consumer version of its online social network sooner than originally planned due to the discovery of a new software bug.The Google+ social network will close in April — four months earlier than planned — and the internet giant will focus on operating a version tailored for businesses, according to G Suite product management vice president David Thacker.Application programming interface programmes (APIs) used by developers to access Google+ data will be shut down within 90 days, according to Thacker.“With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs,” Thacker said in a blog post.“While we recognise there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.”A new bug introduced via a software update in November was discovered during routine testing and fixed, according to the company.Google determined that the vulnerability affected approximately 52.5 million users, allowing applications to see profile information such as name, occupation, age and email address even if access was set to private.“No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way,” Thacker said.In October, Google announced plans to shut down the social network after fixing a bug exposing private data in as many as 500,000 accounts.A security audit had revealed a software bug that gave third-party apps access to Google+ private profile data people meant to share only with friends.The data involved was limited to optional profile fields, including name, age, gender, occupation and email address, Google said.There was no evidence found at the time that developers had taken advantage of the bug, according to Google.Google+ failed to gain meaningful traction after being launched in 2011 as a challenge to Facebook.A Google spokesperson cited “significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers' expectations” along with “very low usage” as reasons for pulling the plug.The social network allows users to download and share data such as pictures and videos.Meanwhile, Google planned to add new workplace-oriented features to enhance the appeal of Google+ as a “secure corporate social network” to be used inside business operations.“Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions,” the California-based internet firm said. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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Microsoft unveils facial recognition principles, urges new laws
Microsoft said it was adopting a set of principles for deployment of facial recognition technology, calling on industry rivals to follow suit and for new laws to avert a dystopian future. — AFP pic NEW YORK, Dec 7 — Microsoft said yesterday it was adopting a set of principles for deployment of facial recognition technology, calling on industry rivals to follow suit and for new laws to avert a dystopian future.Microsoft president Brad Smith made the announcement at a Brookings Institution speech and an accompanying blog post, saying it was urgent to begin placing limits on facial recognition to avoid the surveillance state described in George Orwell’s 1984.“We must ensure that the year 2024 doesn’t look like a page from the novel 1984,” Smith said.“An indispensable democratic principle has always been the tenet that no government is above the law. Today this requires that we ensure that governmental use of facial recognition technology remain subject to the rule of law. New legislation can put us on this path.”Earlier this year, Microsoft said it saw a need for some kind of regulation of facial recognition, and yesterday Smith outlined principles that the company sees as important.Smith said the tech firm will press for legislation to be passed as early as 2019 that would require transparency, human review and privacy safeguards for any deployment of facial recognition.He said Microsoft would begin adopting these principles itself, while urging other tech firms to do the same.“This is a global issue and the industry needs to address these issues head on,” he said.Smith said an important element would be to require “meaningful human review” when facial recognition algorithms are used to make key decisions that can affect a person’s privacy, human rights or freedom, and to safeguard against discrimination or bias.Additionally, he said new laws should set limits on police use of facial recognition, so it may be used only with a court order or in the case of an imminent threat.“We believe it’s important for governments in 2019 to start adopting laws to regulate this technology,” he said.“The facial recognition genie, so to speak, is just emerging from the bottle.“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues. By that time, these challenges will be much more difficult to bottle back up.” — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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Departing Facebook comms chief takes blame for PR firm controversy
Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has pledged a ‘thorough’ review of its use of Definers to deflect criticism from the social networking giant. ― Reuters pic SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 22 ― The outgoing head of Facebook's communications team yesterday took responsibility for the controversial hiring of a conservative consulting firm accused of using “black ops” style techniques, acknowledging critics including investor George Soros were targeted.The announcement by Elliot Schrage, who said in June he was stepping down, came after Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has pledged a “thorough” review of its use of Definers to deflect criticism from the social networking giant.She and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg maintain they were surprised by a New York Times story last week that said the social network was using Definers to link social network critics to liberal financier Soros.The Hungarian-born US financier and philanthropist is a favorite target of nationalists and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.Schrage taking the hit for the controversy was seen by some as convenient, since he has previously said he was leaving the social network after working there for more than a decade to start a new chapter in his life.Definers was hired in 2017 as part of an effort to diversify its advisers in Washington, in the face of growing pressure by competitors and media companies for Facebook to be regulated by the government, Schrage said in a message to co-workers posted online.But its role grew to include looking into Facebook competitors and doing research on Soros funded campaigns.“Responsibility for these decisions rests with leadership of the Communications team,” Schrage said. “That's me.”“I want to be clear that I oversee our Comms team and take full responsibility for their work and the PR firms who work with us,” Sandberg said in comment shared along with Schrage's message.Sandberg, who had previously stated that she had no recollection of working with Definers, also revealed that a check of what had crossed her desk showed that Definers was mentioned in some material and in a “small number” of emails she received.Soros researchDefiners began looking into Soros after the philanthropist labelled Facebook a “menace to society” in a speech at Davos early this year, according to Schrage.“We had not heard such criticism from him before and wanted to determine if he had any financial motivation,” Schrage said.“Definers researched this using public information.”When a “Freedom from Facebook” campaign later began portrayed as a grassroots coalition, Definers determined that Soros was funding some coalition members and shared what they learned with the press, according to Schrage.He contended that as pressure intensified on Facebook through this year, the communications team increasingly used Definers and the relationship was “less centrally managed.”But Schrage joined Zuckerberg and Sandberg in stressing that Definers was not hired to create or spread false stories to help Facebook. Zuckerberg said Facebook stopped using Definers the day the New York Times story was published.Zuckerberg stands firm The post came a day after Zuckerberg said he has no plans to resign, sounding defiant after a rough year for the social platform.“That's not the plan,” Zuckerberg told CNN Business when asked if he would consider stepping down as chairman.He also defended Sandberg, who has drawn criticism over her handling of the social media giant's recent crises.“Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts for a lot of the biggest issues we have,” said Zuckerberg.Facebook has stumbled from one mess to another this year as it grappled with continuing fallout from Russia's use of the platform to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which user data was harnessed in a bid to help candidate Donald Trump, and a huge security breach involving millions of accounts.Most recently, an investigative piece published last week by The New York Times said Facebook misled the public about what it knew about Russia's election meddling and used a PR firm to spread negative stories about other Silicon Valley companies and thus deflect anger away from itself. ― AFP [...]
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‘God of War’ favourite among PS4 game developers
Accomplished warrior Kratos goes on a journey both deeper and more spectacular in 2018’s ‘God of War.’ ― AFP-Relaxnews pic LOS ANGELES, Nov 17 ― Celebrating the PlayStation 4 console’s fifth anniversary, PlayStation asked 23 developers to name their top three PS4 games: 2018’s God of War came top, with Horizon Zero Dawn and Bloodborne next in line.Not only a critical and commercial success, but also a favorite among game designers themselves, God of War was named by more than half responding to an official PlayStation 4 retrospective.The game took troubled Greek god Kratos out of ancient Greece and on a violent adventure into mythological Norse lands. This time he was accompanied by his son, the powerful and accomplished warrior was at last coming to terms with some of his personal issues, as well as treating players to stunning vistas and creative reinventions of genre tropes.Released in April of 2018, God of War was received as one of the PS4’s very best at review, keeping company with exclusives The Last of Us Remastered, Persona 5, Uncharted 4, Journey and Bloodborne, and its commercial performance made it the PS4’s fastest-selling exclusive.Eighth in a 13-year-old franchise, it was named 13 times during the PlayStation Blog round-up.Each of PlayStation’s 23 respondents chose three games, with the contributors ranging from from senior staff at the studios behind blockbuster hits Uncharted 4 and Destiny to the designers at the small team shops that gave us Nuclear Throne and Spelunky.Two other exclusives occupied second and third place. 2017’s standout Sci-fi caveman action adventure Horizon Zero Dawn, with its robot dinosaurs and post-world’s end scenario, was chosen seven times, as was imposing, challenging 2015 favorite “Bloodborne”; the latter’s development studio sibling Dark Souls III was picked once.Other games to be named multiple times included Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us: Remastered, Shadow of the Colossus, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and PlayStation VR Worlds experience Ocean Descent.God of War wasn’t the most recent release to feature, with October’s Wild West open-world blockbuster Red Dead Redemption 2 elected twice; other titles available on Xbox One and PC included survival horror Resident Evil 7, dystopian adventure Inside, sci-fi saga NieR Automata, and those from the Destiny franchise, which PlayStation promoted heavily as part of a partnership deal.The PlayStation 4 made its worldwide debut on November 15, 2013, with the Xbox One beginning a staggered international rollout on November 22. ― AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi debuts in London
Xiaomi products range from home gadgets like smart air purifiers to non-tech items such as pillows and ballpoint pens. — AFP pic LONDON, Nov 9 — China's Xiaomi unveiled the Mi 8 Pro smartphone in London yesterday, making a UK debut as the tech giant ramps up its European presence before an expected American launch next month.Xiaomi, which is looking to gain ground on rivals Apple, Huawei and Samsung, revealed the flagship product at a launch event at the Barbican Centre.The Mi 8 Pro will go on sale in Britain today, the group announced, marking the first time that the device has been available outside China.The phone, which retails from £499.99 (RM2,732.80), uses Google's Android operating system and has a fingerprint sensor in its 6.2-inch screen. It will be available from various outlets including operator Three Mobile.Xiaomi also announced it will open an official Mi Store on November 18 at London's Westfield shopping centre in White City, having opened in Paris earlier this year.'Milestone product'“Mi 8 Pro is a milestone product and that's why we think it is perfect here today at a global debut here in London,” said Donovan Sing, director of product management.He added: “We are going to be bringing Mi 8 here to the UK market.”The group will also sell other hi-tech gadgets, including a fitness-tracking band and an electric scooter.The entrepreneur behind Xiaomi, Lei Jun, describes the business he has built as a “new species” of company with a “triathlon” business model combining hardware, internet and e-commerce services.Products range from home gadgets like smart air purifiers to non-tech items such as pillows and ballpoint pens.Smart phones have remained at its core since its 2010 founding in Zhongguancun — China's Silicon Valley — and sales have skyrocketed, making Xiaomi the world's fourth-largest smartphone vendor at the end of last year, according to International Data Corp.As some European consumers have pulled back from expensive outlays for an iPhone or Samsung, Xiaomi's more affordable product has proved a hit in countries like France, Italy and Spain.“Europe is our next focus,” Lei Jun told investors this summer, noting the company's explosive growth in the region had already made Xiaomi the number four smartphone seller in western Europe.International sales now bring in more than one-third of the company's revenue.In India, Xiaomi has cornered roughly 30 per cent of the market, although growing pains there show how it can be difficult for Chinese companies to expand abroad.Its phone chargers initially faced a relatively high defect rate because of India's power supply problems and required a redesign to increase voltage.ScepticismXiaomi should avoid such issues in the United Kingdom, but could encounter scepticism over its Chinese origins and concerns over data security.Even after its Chinese competitor Huawei built a cyber security centre for UK officials to review its code, controversy about the company's operations and potential national security threats has continued.Still, unlike Huawei, Xiaomi was not founded by a veteran of China's armed forces and sells handsets instead of telecom infrastructure so there may be less cause for concern. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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Apple boss takes aim at ‘weaponisation’ of customer data
Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers a keynote during the European Union's privacy conference at the EU Parliament in Brussels October 24, 2018. — Reuters pic ROME, Oct 24 — Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said today customer data was being “weaponised with military efficiency” by companies to increase profit.Cook, speaking at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, said Apple supported a federal privacy law in the United States and also touted the iPhone maker’s commitment to protect users’ data and privacy.Issues over how data is used and how consumers can protect their personal information are under the spotlight after big breaches of data privacy involving millions of internet and social media users in Europe and the United States.Apple, which designs many of its products so that it cannot see users’ data, has largely avoided the data privacy scandals that have enmeshed its rivals Google and Facebook this year.“The desire to put profits over privacy is nothing new,” Cook told a packed audience of privacy regulators, corporate executives and other participants.He cited former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who in a Harvard Law Review article in 1890 warned that gossip was no longer the resource of the idle and the vicious but had become a trade.“Today that trade has exploded into a data industrial complex. Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponised against us with military efficiency,” he said.“These scraps of data ... each one harmless enough on its own ... are carefully assembled, synthesised, traded, and sold.”He said algorithms, a major tool for competitors, were turning harmless preferences into hardened convictions.“If green is your favourite colour, you may find yourself reading a lot of articles — or watching a lot of videos — about the insidious threat from people who like orange,” Cook said.“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them,” he said.Cook also warned about governments abusing users’ data and their trust, a concern for many with elections coming up in several countries worldwide.“Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies,” Cook said.“Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false.”Cook said Apple fully backed a federal privacy law in the United States, something Europe has already introduced via its General Data Protection Regulation.“Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for,” he said. “This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t. Anything less is a sham.”Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai will share their views via video messages later in the day. — Reuters [...]
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