Archive for the Commentary Category

Toronto Cops Admit To Using Controversial Clearview AI Software… Why Everyone Needs To Care About This

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 14, 2020 by itnerd

Global News is reporting that the Toronto Police Service was using Clearview AI. This is  is a controversial facial recognition tool. It uses images scraped from social media and other websites to cross-reference uploaded images of people. The system reportedly has three billion photos on its database. This apparently had been going on for months before being ordered to stop by the chief of police in Toronto. Which of course implies that this was some sort of “black ops” effort done behind the chief’s back. Which in itself is a problem. On top of that, the cops have requested the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review Clearview AI. Finally, this report contradicts what the police force has said in the past. Which is that it does use facial recognition software. But not software from Clearview AI.

Now the fact that the Toronto Police Service was using this tool isn’t a surprise. But it is a huge problem. The New York Times has pointed out the dangers of software like this:

Facial recognition technology has always been controversial. It makes people nervous about Big Brother. It has a tendency to deliver false matches for certain groups, like people of color. And some facial recognition products used by the police — including Clearview’s — haven’t been vetted by independent experts.

Now that’s a huge problem. But the other problem with Clearview AI is that it basically scrapes its database of photos from social media. Often violating the terms of service of the social media platforms that it takes its photos from. Think about that for a second. Your photos have possibly been uploaded to this system without your permission. Regardless of the fact that your social media profile has been set up to be private or otherwise. That’s a huge problem that you should be a wee bit ticked off about. Which is why social media companies have gone after Clearview AI. In fact, here’s a list of what the company has been caught doing:

  • The company reportedly lifted pictures from Twitter, Facebook, Venmo and millions of other websites over the past few years. Twitter recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to Clearview AI after the company got caught claiming that the company’s actions violated Twitter’s policies and demanding that Clearview AI stop lifting images from its platform immediately.
  • Google and YouTube made similar claims in a cease-and-desist letter that they served up to Clearview AI.

But based on this, I don’t think that the company cares about what social media companies think of them scraping their platforms for photos. This is a CBS News interview with Clearview CEO, Hoan Ton-That who clearly thinks, or wants you to think that he is doing nothing wrong:

Clearly, he has a Travis Kalanic attitude to life. Which is “I’m going to do what I want so screw you and the horse you rode in on if you have a problem with that.” But creating a massive database of pictures so that law enforcement can use it anyway the wish is problematic. And what happens if someone is misidentified by this system? It may take years, if it is even possible to clear that person’s name from any association with a crime. And just think what would happen if a law enforcement agency, or worse yet a government wanted to go after a person or a group via this piece of software. Just thinking about it sends chills down my spine as it sounds like something out of 1984.

That’s why we all should have a problem with what the Toronto Police Service was doing with this tool. It sends society down a very dangerous path that there may be no way back from. Thus they need to be held to account for using this tool. But we should also be bothered by Clearview AI who has the vibe of Uber. But with something that is far more dangerous. People need to make sure that politicians and those in positions to potentially use a piece of software like this know that this is unacceptable. I am all for any tool, software or otherwise that can help to catch the bad guys and put them in jail. But violating people’s privacy on a massive scale to do it isn’t something that should exist in a free and democratic society. At least I think so. And if you value being in a free and democratic society, so should you.

 

 

 

Why Is TELUS Announcing A 5G Partnership With Huawei?

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 14, 2020 by itnerd

Yesterday, the news dropped that TELUS was announcing that they were going to build their 5G network in partnership with Huawei. The same Huawei that the US hates and wants everyone else to dump. It’s also the same Huawei that the Canadian government is doing a security review of. Here’s the key point from yesterday’s news:

[Doug] French [CFO – TELUS] said that the plan right now is to use Huawei gear in the radio access network (RAN) — basically, the antennas that send wireless signals to the phones — but it will not be the backbone of the Telus 5G network for now.

“In the RAN network, we will be launching a 5G network with Huawei,” French said.

Telus wouldn’t give an exact date on when they will roll out their 5G, but French said it will be coming “shortly.”

This is kind of similar to what the English are doing. Much to the ire of the US. But the real question is, why would TELUS poke the stick in the metaphorical cage by making this announcement? Well, I have some thoughts on that:

  1. This basically forces the Canadian government to make a call on Huawei. Something that they have been reluctant to do because they are working to extradite Meng Wanzhou who is the CFO of Huawei to the US to stand trial over Iran sanctions violations among other things. And in retaliation the Chinese government is holding two Canadians to force the Canadian government to release her. Now with the announcement made by TELUS, the option of waiting for that situation to be resolved is off the table. And the Canadian government has to make a call sooner rather than later.
  2. TELUS couldn’t afford to wait for a decision to be made as Rogers has already announced their 5G plans with Ericsson being their supplier. And Bell has made their announcement with Nokia being their supplier. Thus TELUS might have felt that they had no choice to make an announcement and see what happened next.
  3. TELUS is already a big Huawei customer as their 4G network has a lot of their gear in it. So they might have felt that they had no choice to use their 5G gear so that interoperability between 5G and 4G networks was seamless. Plus going with another vendor at this point would likely cause TELUS a lot of headaches and cost TELUS a lot of cash.

Here’s the risk for TELUS. Besides the fact that the Canadian government decideing to ban Huawei from selling anyone 5G gear, which would pretty much screw over TELUS. There’s the consumer backlash:

For clarity, the two Michael’s that are referred to in this tweet are Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor who are being held by the Chinese government in retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou who is the CFO of Huawei.

The fact is that TELUS has done a lot over the last few years to differentiate themselves from Rogers and Bell in very positive ways. And their network is insanely fast relative to the other two members of the big three. But they risk burning all of that to the ground via this decision. But, if you look at it another way, they are third place and they must figure that they have nothing to lose by going down this road.

So what do I think?

I think it would be wise for TELUS to rethink this. According to a recent Angus Reid Institute study. 56 percent of Canadians believe that Huawei should be banned from participating in the deployment of 5G. That’s not trivial. Neither is the fact that about 34 percent would support a limited arrangement similar to the one the U.K. What that says to me is that most Canadians have some sort of problem with Huawei. Thus alienating most of your potential customer base because you want to do business with Huawei isn’t a good idea. Which means that they need in my opinion to take a step back and consider the implications of doing business with Huawei. To me, it doesn’t really seem to be a good idea as the risk level on multiple fronts is way too high.

BT Expands Its Dynamic Network Services with Dell Technologies’ Onsite Platforms

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 13, 2020 by itnerd

Dell Technologies has been selected to offer its portfolio of customer-location IT solutions to BT. This allows the global communications services provider to offer a broad range of new managed services to help its multinational enterprise customers deploy applications and services in an agile and flexible way.

BT will offer the Dell EMC Virtual Edge Platform (VEP), a family of networking-specific universal Customer Premises Equipment (uCPE), as a converged networking, IoT and IT application platform. With the Dell EMC VEP, BT can help customers automate, simplify and accelerate the flow of data for their critical on-premises workloads.

As an uCPE edge device available in different form factors and performance levels, the Dell EMC VEP helps service providers offer both consolidation of hardware and choice of applications at distributed customer locations. It reduces the need for dedicated appliances or servers at every location, offering a common platform to host services such as SD-WAN, security functions, IoT gateways and distributed applications, making the deployment of key applications quicker and easier.

By combining the Dell Technologies industry-leading on-premises platforms with BT’s networking and security expertise, BT customers can benefit from a robust and secure end-to-end digital infrastructure. This will enable integration of WAN, W-LAN, SD-WAN, and Cloud under a single operational and security framework, greatly simplifying deployment and management of IT infrastructure while allowing customers to maintain control and agility.

In addition, BT will support extended Edge use cases through Dell Technologies industry-leading server, storage and hyperconverged infrastructure.

BT is already working with several customers to onboard their business-critical applications on to the new platform.

Many enterprises are investing in hybrid compute and distributed IoT models to ensure performance, security and availability of their digital infrastructure. Using software-defined architectures, virtualization, open standards and APIs, they can respond to new market opportunities more quickly and efficiently while hardening their critical data and applications against disaster, disruption and digital threats.

Dell EMC Virtual Edge Platform

Built with advanced intelligence for network virtualization and software-defined architecture, the Dell EMC VEP family helps both service providers and enterprises modernize and future-proof WAN operations. The VEP features Intel processors specifically designed to improve network performance including Intel® QuickAssist Technology to accelerate encryption and Intel Data Plane Development Kit to accelerate packet processing. These features help enhance compute resources and provide efficiency for growing security workloads.

The VEP is available in two model series, each with a range of configurations to help customers in both large and small locations:

  • VEP4600 series – a higher-performance, modular version that can handle the virtualization of several network functions — ideal for central locations
  • VEP1405 series – a compact, low-cost, low power consumption fixed-form factor option ideal for remote locations

For large operators and enterprises with multiple locations, Dell EMC can help smooth procurement, deployment and support through its global supply chain, manufacturing scale, logistics and support services with a single point of contact and accountability.

Additional resources

  • The disruptive nature of the Edge, a blog from Andy Rowland, head of digital manufacturing, Global, BT.
  • To find out more on how Dell Technologies and BT are further collaborating to help customers implement winning IoT strategies for Industry 4.0, click here to register for the upcoming webinar.

 

Nikon Canada Announces The Nikon D6

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 12, 2020 by itnerd

Today, Nikon Canada Inc. has unveiled the D6, a new professional-grade DSLR built for those in need of extreme reliability and ultimate performance. The D6 addresses the needs of professionals and press agencies, and is faster and more powerful than ever before. Offering the most powerful AF system in Nikon’s history, this flagship DSLR camera delivers crucial improvements to modern workflow while also accelerating file transfer capabilities. Promising unparalleled low-light performance, powerful agility, advanced 4K UHD multimedia capabilities and a mechanical shutter frame rate boosted to a staggering 14fps, the D6 will redefine the way pros work.

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The Most Powerful AF in Nikon’s History: The D6 leaves nothing to chance. To maximize hit rate, it is equipped with a newly developed, densely packed 105-point AF system in which all the focus points utilize cross-type sensors and all points are selectable. Through the new focus point layout and the use of a triple-sensor arrangement for each focus point, the D6 achieves AF coverage that is approximately 1.6x denser than that of the D5. The D6 also sports an expanded focus detection range which increases the detection area for single point AF and dynamic area AF, making it easier to achieve focus on a subject even when slightly outside the focus point.

Improving upon Nikon’s popular Group AF mode, this function has evolved with support for 17 custom arrangements from which users can choose according to the scene or subject movement. The D6 also demonstrates superior low-light AF performance. The center focus point works down to -4.5 EV and the others to -4 EV, making autofocus possible even in dark situations or with low-contrast subjects.

Unparalleled Performance: The new EXPEED 6 engine’s superior image-processing capabilities combined with the vast amount of information provided by the new dedicated AF engine drives high-level performance in any situation. To help capture the decisive moment consistently, the D6 boasts a 14fps mechanical shutter with full AF and AE. The D6 can also shoot completely silent for sensitive situations capturing full resolution at 10.5 fps. For faster frame rates, the Nikon D6 is able to take 2-megapixel images at approx. 60 fps and 8-megapixel images at 30 fps in Live View mode.

The D6 leverages a 20.8-megapixel FX-Format CMOS sensor, creating images that pop with stunning detail, true colours and exhibiting incredible dynamic range. The ISO ranges from 100 to 102,400, which helps to preserve sharpness and subtle details in even the most challenging light. Additionally, ISO is expandable up to 3.2 million, giving photographers the ability to truly conquer the dark.

Concentration on Workflow: Building on Nikon’s history of serving professionals, the D6 is the most customizable Nikon DSLR yet, designed to speed up the workflow of any user during and after capture.

Recall shooting functions create combinations of settings that can be assigned to a specific button to get the perfect shot in a pinch.

The D6 excels in connectivity and supports the same 1000BASE-T Ethernet standard as the D5, with an approximate 15% increase in transmission speed. The camera also supports a number of options for wireless networking, offering built-in 2.4- and 5-GHz Wi-Fi or traditional wireless transfer using the WT-6 Wireless Transmitter (optional)

Includes 14 customizable buttons, assignable to any of 46 unique function choices and a new intuitive menu system.

Priority Image Transfer gives the ability to move an important image to the front of the queue when speed is of paramount priority, which can easily be done by swiping the touch LCD during playback.

Security Lock compatibility supports connection of anti-theft cables to provide maximum security for remote applications or when the camera is unattended.

Built in GPS gives accurate time, date and location information for just about anywhere on the planet.

Dual CFexpress slots offer blazing fast read/write times and have the ability to overflow, copy or separate file types.

JPEG functions allow for the simultaneous recording of two JPEG images with different image size and quality settings, which is convenient for separating images that will be transmitted from those that will be edited.

Creativity options for multimedia creators including a new interval timer mode to retain the best resolution and enable in-camera time-lapse movie file recording providing professionals the ability to create exceptionally sharp 16:9 4K Ultra HD video.

Absolute Reliability: Nikon’s flagship cameras remain trusted in the industry and have been proven on the sidelines, in the studio and even in outer space. With a magnesium alloy camera body and extensively weather-sealed design, the D6 is as tough as the professionals who use it, ready to take on the harshest shooting conditions. The camera offers long-lasting battery life, delivering the safety net and energy-saving performance that pros need on daylong outings. The D6 also employs a USB-Type C connector for faster direct-to-PC file transfer rates than previously possible with the D5.

Endless Lens Choices: By pairing the D6 with Nikon’s extremely diverse selection of F-Mount NIKKOR telephoto lenses, professionals have the most advanced imaging solution in Nikon’s history. No matter the job, the client or the location, there’s a NIKKOR lens, from the ultra-wide to the super-telephoto. The D6 is also compatible with Nikon’s line of creative Speedlights, offering extra creative freedom to enhance natural light and add artistry and drama to any scene.

Pricing and Availability

The new Nikon D6 will be available in Spring 2020 for a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $8,999.95. For more information on the latest Nikon products, please visit www.nikon.ca.

 

#PSA: Not All Samsung Galaxy S20’s Support Ultra Fast 5G

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 12, 2020 by itnerd

You might have read or heard about the fact that the new Samsung Galaxy S20 phones support for 5G wireless. Now that’s kind of a big deal. But the devil as they say is in the detail. And the detail says that only the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra will be compatible with ultra-fast millimeter wave networks. That’s the version of 5G that promises gigabit speeds…. If you’re standing in the right place. The S20 only supports “sub-6” 5G which offers better coverage and range than millimeter wave, But doesn’t offer anywhere near the speed. What’s weird about this is that Samsung seems to gloss over this. Their global specs page seems not to make this clear for consumers. Instead, sites like Android Central are pointing out this fact.

So, why should you care? Well, say you’re on Verizon. They have decided not to sell the base S20 at launch and they will only offer the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra when preorders open up this month. But eventually, Samsung will make an S20 that’s fully optimized for Verizon’s 5G network. The carrier says that model will arrive sometime in the second quarter of this year. Thus you might want to check with your carrier to see what flavor of 5G they have so you can make an informed buying decision.

It also highlights that these are the early days of 5G, and as phone manufacturers come out with 5G capable phones, you’re going to need to read the fine print if you’re truly interested in making the jump to 5G. Which means that this will be painful for all in the short term. And as a result it may be worth sitting out 5G until it becomes more mature.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G Is Now Available For Pre-Order At TELUS

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 11, 2020 by itnerd

TELUS is excited to confirm that the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G devices are now available for pre-order at Telus.com/S20ultra. The latest Samsung devices will be available for purchase in-store and online at telus.com on March 6, 2020.

Customers can get the Samsung S20 Ultra 5G today with the TELUS Easy Payment device financing, starting at $0 upfront, with financing options over 24 months. Plus, when customers sign up for the Bring It Back program, they can expect to receive the Samsung S20 Ultra 5G at our absolute best cost, all on TELUS’ amazing network with award winning coverage, speed and reliability.

Moreover, TELUS customers who pre-order one of the new Samsung Galaxy S20 devices on a minimum two year term, will receive the Galaxy Buds+ as a gift with purchase, valued at $219.99.

Defense Launches Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 11, 2020 by itnerd

This morning Defense launched a case collection built to protect the new Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra;  Defense Shield.

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Defense Shield cases are tested to meet and exceed military drop test standards (MIL-STD-810G) of up to 10 feet (3M) onto concrete and feature a raised front lip (1mm) to help avoid the screen from being damaged or scratched.

Defense Shield ($29.99) for Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra

  • Machined aluminum exterior frame coupled with a soft rubber bumper for ultimate protection
  • Clear polycarbonate phone backing shows off the Galaxy’s sleek design and color
  • Anodized aluminum frame, available in Red, Black or Iridescent, and user-friendly one-piece construction compliments the premium quality of the Galaxy while making it even easier to put on/take off
  • Cases work with Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, or S20 Ultra