Archive for the Commentary Category

Samsung Announces Galaxy S10 Lineup

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 20, 2019 by itnerd

Because a foldable smartphone isn’t enough, Samsung has announced the Galaxy S10 lineup. There are four phones on offer:

  • There’s the S10E at the low end
  • The Galaxy S10
  • The S10 Plus
  • The Galaxy S10 5G which the brand’s first 5G phone

Key features (depending on the model) include:

  • An edge-to-edge screen with tiny bezels.
  • The ability to wirelessly charge another device.
  • An Infinity-O display that cuts a small circle (or oval) to make room for front-facing cameras.
  • The world’s first ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint reader, which unlocks the Galaxy S10 using sound waves.
  • Up to four rear cameras.
  • Up to 1TB of built-in storage.
  • The all-new One UI. Android Pie.
  • A Snapdragon 855 processor.
  • 5G capabilities

Preorders for all but the 5G phone begin on Feb. 21, for a March 8 release date. Each preorder comes with a free set of Galaxy Buds which is Samsung’s answer to AirPods from Apple as a gift.

UPDATE: Telus sent me this statement after the announcement:

Following Samsung’s unpacked announcement today, we’re happy to confirm that the S10e, S10 and S10+ are now available for pre-order at TELUS at telus.com/galaxys10. The Galaxy S10 will be available for purchase in-store and online at telus.com on March 8.

Customers who purchase the S10 on a Premium Plus rate plan and sign up for the Bring It Back program, can expect to receive the S10 at the absolute best cost. With pricing starting at $150 (S10e), $300 (S10) and $420 (S10+) for the 128 GB models.

TELUS customers who pre-order the new Galaxy S10e, on a two year term, will receive a Samsung Wireless Charger Pad, valued at $79.99 and those who pre-order either the Galaxy S10 or S10+, on a two year term, will receive Samsung Galaxy Buds, valued at $199.99.

 

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Samsung Announces Galaxy Fold Smartphone

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 20, 2019 by itnerd

Samsung today officially unveiled its foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold.

Yes, I said foldable smartphone.

When folded up, the Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch display that’s designed to fit in the palm of a hand, and when opened up, it has a 7.3-inch display that’s tablet sized. There’s a hidden hinge and gears to facilitate that. The Galaxy Fold comes in four colors: black, silver, green, and blue, and with some color options, the outside hinge shade can be customized. Under the hood there is a 7-nanometer processor, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage, and two batteries that add up to 4,380mAh. Oh yeah, there’s a mind blowing six cameras on board. Three on the back, two on the inside, and one on the front.

The Galaxy Fold will come in a LTE version and a 5G version and will start at a mind blowing $1,980 US. You can get your hands on one starting on April 26. and it will come with Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Buds which are Samsung’s answer to AirPods.

As soon as I get product links, I will post them here.

UPDATE: Info on the Galaxy Buds can be found here. And info on the Galaxy Fold can be found here.

Do You Have A Nest Secure? There’s A Hidden Mic That Google Never Told You About

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 20, 2019 by itnerd

From the “so much for do no evil” file comes the disclosure by Google of a microphone on their Nest Secure which was meant to be used with Google Assistant:

Apparently this could be enabled or disabled at any time via the Nest mobile app, and via this blog post it further explained that it was an opt-in feature, and that customers will receive email explaining how to activate it.

One slight problem, this wasn’t disclosed for over 18 months. Thus people who bought the Nest Secure without knowing that there was a microphone present. And during those 18 months or so the potential existed for the bad guys, hackers or whomever to hack in and listen in.

Not cool Google. Not cool.

The fact is that if your IoT device secretly contained a microphone, which was previously undocumented, would you be happy when the device maker announced an over-the-air update that can enable the microphone? Of course not. You should be enraged and call for heads to roll. Now Google does admit that they screwed up, but it wasn’t intended to be a secret. But that will do little to calm people who own one of these devices and discovered this added feature.

By the way, you have to wonder how many other IoT devices have similar “features.”

CRTC Says Canadian Telcos Use “Misleading Or Aggressive Sales Practices”…. Shock, Not

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 20, 2019 by itnerd

Well this is not going to come as a surprise to any Canadian that gets some form of telecommunication services. The CRTC who has spent the last few months investigating aggressive and misleading sales behavior like this example or this example. The result was that the CRTC confirmed what Canadians already know, which is that Canadian telcos engage in this sort of behavior. Here’s what the CRTC said in the press release that they put out regarding this:

The Report on misleading or aggressive communications retail sales practices finds that, even with the existing measures put in place by service providers and governments, misleading or aggressive sales practices occur to an unacceptable degree.

The CRTC is taking action to introduce new measures to ensure Canadians’ interactions with their service providers are carried out in a fair and respectful way, such as considering the creation of a new, mandatory Internet Code of Conduct and the creation of a secret shopper program to monitor sales practices.

The CRTC also found that misleading or aggressive sales practices have a harmful impact on Canadians, particularly on vulnerable Canadians, that the services providers’ internal measures are not always effective and that there are gaps in the awareness and effectiveness of existing consumer protections.

While the CRTC is considering taking additional steps to curb this behavior, they didn’t name and shame the telcos who are responsible for said behavior. That can be taken two ways. Either they didn’t have the guts to name and shame which is disappointing, or most if not all telcos in Canada do some form of this behavior. Perhaps both. In an ideal world, the CRTC drops the hammer on Canadian telcos to make sure this stops right the hell now. But somehow I don’t see that happening. Which means that Canadian consumers will continue to be the victims of this behavior regardless of the steps the CRTC will take.

NordVPN Enters Brazil

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 20, 2019 by itnerd

NordVPN has expanded its payment options to include Boleto Bancário. This marks a strategic decision to strengthen market presence in Brazil.

VPN stands for “virtual private network” – a service that encrypts a user’s internet traffic and redirects it through a remote VPN server. It also replaces their IP address, keeping their location private. VPNs are used worldwide both for security and entertainment reasons. In a study of VPN usage around the world, GlobalWebIndex found that 25% of internet users had used a VPN in the past month, and that 42% of these used a VPN daily.

NordVPN is a trusted online privacy and security solution, used by over 8 million internet users worldwide. It offers military-grade encryption with advanced privacy solutions and is recognized by the most influential tech sites and IT security specialists. NordVPN holds a  significant market share in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and many other European states.

Boleto Bancário, usually referred to as Boleto, is a popular cash-based payment method used in Brazil, with 15% market share. It is also the only payment method available to the 35% of shoppers who do not have a bank account. Boleto is regulated by Brazilian Federation of Banks.

At the moment, NordVPN’s payment options include all major credit card providers (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover), crypto currencies (Ripple, Ethereum, and BitCoin), and many regionally localized payment solutions (AliPay, Yandex, iDeal, Sofort, UnionPay, Boleto, and others).

To find out more about NordVPN, please visit nordvpn.com.

U.K. Parliament Calls Facebook “Digital Gangsters”…. A Big Hint To #DeleteFaceBook

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 19, 2019 by itnerd

This isn’t going to help Facebook’s image. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee released its final report [Warning: PDF] after studying Facebook, disinformation and fake news on February 18th, which called the company and its executives as “digital gangsters.”

Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalized ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day

And:

Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law.

The UK is a country that is serious about making Facebook pay. To that end, here’s what is recommended:

  • The report calls for a code of ethics for tech companies that would be overseen by an independent regulator
  • The regulator would be given powers to launch legal action
  • The government look to reform current electoral laws
  • Social media companies are forced to take down harmful content
  • Tech companies are taxed.

I can pretty much assume that this is not going over well at Facebook HQ. They could really get smacked silly if they’re not careful. Perhaps they should take a more conciliatory approach and be a good corporate citizen.

Nah. That’s too much to hope for from these people. They have proven that time and time again.

The US Cannot Crush Us: Huawei

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 19, 2019 by itnerd

Well, I’ll place bets that this won’t end well. The founder of Huawei has said there is “no way the US can crush” the company, in an interview with the BBC:

Ren Zhengfei, founder and president of Huawei, described the arrest of his daughter Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer, as politically motivated. The US is pursuing criminal charges against Huawei and Ms Meng, including money laundering, bank fraud and stealing trade secrets. Huawei denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Ren spoke to the BBC’s Karishma Vaswani in his first international broadcast interview since Ms Meng was arrested — and dismissed the pressure from the US. “There’s no way the US can crush us,” he said. “The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit.” However, he acknowledged that the potential loss of custom could have a significant impact. […] Mr Ren warned that “the world cannot leave us because we are more advanced”. “If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine. And if the North goes dark, there is still the South. America doesn’t represent the world. America only represents a portion of the world.”

Why would you even say something like this knowing that the US along with a whole lot of other people want to kick your a** all over hell’s half acre at the first chance that you screw up? This seems to be a really dumb move and they may live to regret it.