Archive for May 22, 2018

ASUS announces the ZenFone Live

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 22, 2018 by itnerd

ASUS today announced ZenFone Live (L1), a compact 5.5-inch entertainment-focused smartphone that’s designed to put the fun back into mobile lifestyles.


ZenFone Live features an 5.5-inch Full View 18:9 display in an amazingly compact body that’s as small as many 5-inch phones, offering an immersive cinema-like entertainment experience in a comfortable-to-hold form factor. The high-capacity 3000mAh battery now gives users more mobile freedom than ever, giving them all-day standby with extended talk times and the ability to enjoy their music or videos for longer. It’s also equipped with up to a 13MP rear camera with phase-detection autofocus (PDAF) and a high-quality five-element lens, allowing users to capture amazing and memorable moments.

Offering class-leading convenience, ZenFone Live features face unlocking capabilities for easy hands-free unlocking. It also includes dual SIM slots and a microSD card slot for adding up to 2TB of extra storage.

ZenFone Live is available with Android Oreo enhanced with the brand-new ASUS ZenUI or with Android Oreo (Go Edition).

The pocket-friendly 5.5-inch ZenFone Live is just as small and compact as many standard 5-inch phones, something made possibly by its big and bright ASUS Full View HD+ display. This has ultra slim side bezels and an 18:9 aspect ratio that not only make it bigger, wider, clearer, and brighter (up to 400 nits), but also allow it to fit in a much smaller frame than a standard display. The result is more screen with less bulk, providing users with an immersive cinema-like experience in a lightweight body that’s truly comfortable to hold.

For non-stop entertainment, ZenFone Live is fitted with a powerful 3000mAh battery that just goes on and on, so users can drown out the world with all-day music, watch back-to-back videos or chat from dusk to dawn — if they’ve the stamina, so has ZenFone Live!

The high-capacity battery supports up to 29 hours of 3G talk time, up to 4 days of music playback, video playback of up to 9 movie-length videos, up to 42 days of 4G standby time and up to 18 hours of Wi-Fi web browsing.

ZenFone Live is designed for maximum convenience, with class-leading features including face unlock. This allows easy hands-free unlocking of the, a very useful feature when the user’s hands are occupied, wet or when wearing gloves.

At the rear is up to a super-sharp 13MP main camera with a 0.3-second PDAF focusing system, so ZenFone Live is always on hand to capture life’s magic moments — even the fastest-moving ones. A high-quality five-element lens ensures bright, crisp and clear pictures in any situation.

With ZenFone Live, users don’t need to carry two separate phones: its handy triple-slot tray takes two 4G LTE SIM cards, and there’s also a microSD card slot supporting up to 2TB of extra storage. With this great feature, users can have two different phone numbers, and add as much storage as they need for their music, photos, videos and other personal stuff.

With a choice of four vivid metallic colors — luscious Midnight Black, sophisticated Shimmer Gold, chic Rose Pink and tasteful Space Blue — ZenFone Live lets users make their own bold style statement and let their individuality shine.


The ASUS ZenFone Live L1 is planned for a Canadian release within Q2 2018. MSRP is $149.00 CAD.


Avaya Named a Leader by Gartner in 2018 Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 22, 2018 by itnerd

Avaya today announced the company is positioned as a Leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide, marking the 17th time that Avaya has been in the position. Companies in the Leaders quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant are defined as “companies that execute well against their current vision and are well positioned for tomorrow”.

Companies in over 150 countries around the world choose Avaya contact center solutions to transform their customer service and support operations, including Alorica, Eletropaulo, Exelon, Florius, Liberty Mutual, Yanfeng Automotive Interior Systems and others. Avaya’s comprehensive, end-to-end portfolio helps drive digital transformation by providing the secure, flexible foundation to power seamless self and assisted service over any channel, the ability to create and integrate applications in house, from Avaya or other third parties, and the workforce management tools to ensure continuous improvement. Avaya believes the portfolio addresses the Customer Experience Priorities in 2018 identified in a Gartner report:

Across a range of CX improvement projects, personalization, Voice of the Customer (VoC), metrics and multichannel-related projects will be the highest priority activities in 2018.”

Avaya’s flagship contact center offering, Avaya Oceana™, enables omnichannel capabilities for a personalized, multi-touch customer experience, a context-rich agent environment and seamless interactions and handoffs between mobile, self, and live service. Avaya Analytics delivers powerful, real-time and historical analysis and visualization of the customer journey. In addition, Avaya Breeze enables rapid development and integration of customized or pre-built applications – known as Avaya Snap-Ins – from Avaya and third-party developers. Avaya Workforce Optimization solutions enable companies to record the voice of the customer, analyze, and evaluate employee performance and deliver coaching to improve the customer experience.

Throughout the year, Avaya continued to advance its contact center portfolio with a number of strategic moves and innovative solutions: Offering Avaya Contact Center solutions as cloud, hybrid, or on-premises deployments – including Avaya Oceana; acquiring Spoken Communications for CCaaS for large enterprises; announcing the Avaya Mobile Experience – a unique offering that enables contact centers to identify incoming calls from mobile devices and optimize the customer experience for the device; and a strategic partnership with Afiniti to incorporate behavioral pairing into Avaya contact center routing. In addition, Avaya Ava – the company’s virtual customer assistant — made her debut equipped with natural language processing, machine learning, and innovative analytics to enable effortless customer engagement through social media and messaging platforms.

The 2018 report on the Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide, evaluated 11 different contact center infrastructure vendors on completeness of vision and ability to execute. Gartner then positions companies within one of four quadrants: Visionaries, Niche Players, Challengers, and Leaders. Gartner defines contact center infrastructure (“CCI”) as “the products (equipment, software, and services) needed to operate call centers for telephony support and contact centers for multichannel support. A third deployment option for CCI is as a core component of customer engagement centers, in which functionality is tightly integrated with CRM and social media channels to give a ’single view of the customer’ across all touchpoints”.



Guest Post: NordVPN Highlights That The Securus Data Breach Shows Data Collected by Government Can Be Easily Exposed

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 22, 2018 by itnerd

Securus, a company that buys up smartphone location data of private citizens and sells it to law enforcement, was just hacked. According to Motherboard, the hacker had gained access to the account information of thousands of law enforcement officials who were using the servicer to track phones.

Before the hack, cybersecurity researcher Robert Xiao discovered an exploit where Securus’ free demo could be used to discover a cell phone’s exact location without even logging in. Anyone, anytime, for any reason, could use their platform to track someone’s exact location.

Securus bought the data from LocationSmart, a company that collects location data from telecoms and sells it to third parties – anybody willing to track someone’s location.

In addition to tracking private citizens, Securus was using the data in other questionable ways. For example, a former sheriff of Mississippi County, Missouri, Cory Hutcheson, used the service to track local judges and other law enforcement officials.

“Many companies are not doing enough to secure sensitive user data. The governmental methods of data collection cannot be trusted either,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “As we have seen with Securus, its cybersecurity was so fragile that the company was hacked less than a week after the existence of its legally questionable and unethical service was exposed. When government hires private companies like Securus, millions of private user data can get stolen, hacked or sold. Collecting data and tracking people can always backfire since this data is handled by other people, who can make mistakes.”

In the documents provided to Motherboard, the hacker proved that they had accessed the login information of prison wardens, administrators, correctional officers, and other law enforcement officials. They also indicated that the hack was “relatively simple,” though no further details have been published.


How to protect one’s privacy?

There’s no way to prevent one’s phone from being tracked while also remaining connected to a network capable of receiving and making phone calls. If phone calls are not necessary, a user can turn their phone off or turn an airplane mode on.

Turning off one’s location settings will make it harder to discover one’s location, but not impossible. To maintain a constant connection, modern phones always try to stay connected to at least three cell phone towers, which allows mobile network operators(and, by extension, the government) to triangulate one’s approximate location to varying degrees of accuracy.

Besides protecting one’s location, those who use the Internet should make sure they use an encryption method to protect their online activity. VPNs help encrypt the information between a user’s computer and VPN server and make it invisible to third parties.


Oh Noes! Even More Spectre Like CPU Flaws Found

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 22, 2018 by itnerd

Google and Microsoft are out with details on yet another Spectre like CPU flaw which is documented in CVE-2018-3639. It is similar to the other Spectre flaws as it stems from speculative execution. This is a technique that modern chips use to optimize their performance by making assumptions about upcoming operations. In this case if the CPU begins a process that doesn’t take place, then it should unwind and delete all of the related data. But sometimes it doesn’t do that which means that someone could get access to that data and here we are talking about it.

Intel has said that the fixes it has already deployed for other variants of this flaw should make this more difficult to exploit. And new fixes are on the way. But they may impact performance. Thus they will be off by default because the risk level is low. But the risk exists so you should expect to see some action on this front in the near future.

Review: 2018 Mazda6 Signature – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on May 22, 2018 by itnerd

The Mazda6 in the recent past has only come with a Skyactiv 2.5L normally aspirated four cylinder engine that put out 187 horsepower and 186 pound feet of torque. While those don’t sound like big numbers, none of the Mazda6 models that I’ve driven ever felt lacking in any way when it came to power. And quite frankly I saw no need for them to change anything. Now that engine is still available in the 2018 model year (and as a bonus it comes with Cylinder Deactivation technology). But for the first time, you have a second option if you need more power:


This is the Skyactiv 2.5L turbo engine that puts out 227 horsepower (250 if you use premium gas instead of regular) and 310 pound feet of torque. If this engine and those numbers sound familiar, it’s because a similar engine is in the Mazda CX-9 7 passenger crossover. In this application, this takes a car that is already fun to drive, and amps it up by several orders of magnitude. If you put your foot down, it will leap off the line (in fact, I chirped the tires accelerating off the line from a light). Turbo lag exists if you look hard for it, but it is minimal and you blow by it in a blink of an eye. While it’s not quite “pin your back to the seat” acceleration, its acceleration is very authoritative and you will have lots of power for any situation that you find yourself in. Be it passing trucks or merging onto the highway. Plus it sounds great when you put your foot down.But if you want something closer to that “pin your back to the seat experience”, hit the sport switch and hang on. Though I will note that whether it is in normal mode or sport mode, it’s also one of those cars that has enough power and enough smoothness that it can get you to license suspension country in a hurry if you are not careful. It’s paired to a six speed automatic that in the Signature trim level has paddle shifters for those who like to shift gears themselves. But this is a well sorted transmission that really doesn’t require any human intervention at all. Thus I would leave it alone and let it do its thing. For those of you who want a real manual with a clutch pedal, that option is not available anymore. Likely because like many other car makers have discovered, the take-up on manuals was likely low.


The accelerator is easy to modulate. Ditto for the brakes. Noise, harshness and vibration is approaching luxury car low. The only times I heard anything was when I put my foot down to accelerate was the growl of the engine. Body roll is minimal and the suspension is firm without being so firm that it shakes you to bits unless you are on really rough roads. It’s also extremely agile and moniker of “sports sedan” fits it very well. What helps with that is G-Vectoring Control which responds to driver inputs with fewer steering adjustments, so your vehicle behaves as you intend and you enjoy a more enjoyable drive. It has a great amount of road feel which makes it very easy to figure out what the car is doing beneath you and the steering is well weighted at all speeds. Finally, visibility is excellent in all directions.

In terms of fuel economy, I am currently getting 9L per 100 KMs which is quite good as I am driving in city and highway traffic, and I am making no attempt to drive in any way that saves fuel.

Tomorrow I will discuss the interior which can be described in two words: “Class Above.” Tune in tomorrow to find out why.