16-Year-Old Dethrones Tetris World Champion With Difficult Hyper-Tap Technique

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Over the weekend, seven-time winner Jonas Neubauer showed up at the Classic Tetris World Championship in Portland, Oregon like he has every year since it moved there in 2011. Instead of adding another championship to his name, he finished in second place this time, bested by 16-year-old Joseph Saelee who went on an amazing three-game tear. From a report: “The kid played with pure heart, the most clutch Tetris that we’ve seen from anyone,” Neubauer said after the dust had settled. “He just really had the ability, had the natural ability, and let it shine as bright as he could in his first tournament. [It’s] truly an honor to pass the torch to the new generation of Tetris players.” The veteran stood on stage holding a silver trophy, his first since losing to Harry Hong in 2014, and the unlikely Saelee, tears still in his eyes, hoisted the gold to applause from the crowd at Sunday’s Retro Game Expo crowd. Though Tetris came out on the NES in 1989, the Classic World Championship tournament as it exists today didn’t get started until 2010 after the game’s competitive scene spent most of the aughts trading strategies, high scores, and footage evidence throughout a scattered network of forums and websites. Now, top players from around the world compete annually at the Expo using the original game and controllers played on old CRTs to see who can get the highest score in individual head-to-head matchups.

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Steam VR Introduces ‘Motion Smoothing’ So Low-End PCs Can Run Games More Smoothly

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Steam VR is introducing a new feature called “Motion Smoothing” that will give PCs with low-end hardware the power to deliver VR experiences more smoothly. “It functions like Motion Smoothing for TV and Asynchronous Spacewarp for Oculus devices, which are frame-rate smoothing techniques that generate synthetic frames between two real ones in order to avoid a stuttery experience,” notes Engadget. From the report:
When Steam VR determines that an experience is lagging or dropping frames, Motion Smoothing automatically kicks in. It drops an app’s framerate from 90FPS to 45FPS and generates a synthetic frame for every real one to mimic real 90FPS. If things get especially bad, it can generate two to three frames for every real one instead. Steam explains that the feature “dramatically [lowers] the performance requirements,” allowing PCs with lower end hardware to “produce smooth frames.” Take note, however, that the feature will not work with the Oculus Rift or with Windows Mixed Reality headsets. You can only take advantage of it if you have an HTC Vive or a Vive Pro, and if you’re running Windows 10 — all you need to do is right-click on Steam VR and select beta under Tools in Library.

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Samsung Announces Galaxy Book 2, a 2-in-1 Windows 10 S Hybrid With Gigabit LTE and 20-Hour Battery Life

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At an event in New York City today, the Seoul, South Korea electronics giant took the wraps off of the Galaxy Book 2, a Windows ultraportable powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 chip. From a report: The only catch? It runs Windows 10 S, a slimmed-down version of Microsoft’s operating system that can only run applications from the Windows Store — specifically Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Win32 apps that Microsoft has explicitly approved (including, but not limited to, Microsoft Office). You can upgrade to Windows 10 for free, of course, but it’s an emulated experience. But if that doesn’t bother you, you’ll be able to pick up a Book 2 at AT&T, Microsoft, and Samsung stores online for $999.99 starting November 2, 2018. It’ll hit brick and mortar at AT&T, Sprint and Verizon later in the month. The Book2 — which measures 11.32 x 7.89 x 30 inches and weighs in at 1.75 pounds — looks sort of like Microsoft’s Surface. Its gorgeous 12-inch 2,160 by 1,440-pixel AMOLED display (216 pixels per inch) is fully compatible with Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which comes bundled in the box (along with a detachable keyboard that attaches magnetically to the bottom bezel), allowing you to scribble notes and mark up documents easily. The screen’s paired with stereo speakers tuned by Samsung subsidiary AKG Acoustic with support for Dolby Atmos, a premium audio format for multichannel surround sound setups, and there’s two cameras onboard: a front-facing 5-megapixel camera on tap and an 8-megapixel camera on the rear. Under the hood is the aforementioned Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 system-on-chip paired with 4GB of RAM, comprising four high-performance processor cores running at 2.96 GHz and four power-efficient cores clocked at 1.7 GHz.

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Palm Is Back With a Mini Companion Android Phone That’s Exclusive To Verizon

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A couple months ago, it was reported that the dearly departed mobile brand known as Palm would be making a comeback. That day has finally come. Yesterday, Palm announced The Palm, a credit card-sized Android smartphone that’s supposed to act as a second phone. Droid Life reports: The Palm, which is its name, is a mini-phone with a 3.3-inch HD display that’s about the size of a credit card, so it should fit nicely in your palm. It could be put on a chain or tossed in a small pocket or tucked just about anywhere, thanks to that small size. It’s still a mostly fully-featured smartphone, though, with cameras and access to Android apps and your Verizon phone number and texts.

The idea here is that you have a normal phone with powerful processor and big screen that you use most of the time. But when you want to disconnect some, while not being fully disconnected, you could grab Palm instead of your other phone. It uses Verizon’s NumberSync to bring your existing phone number with you, just like you would if you had an LTE smartwatch or other LTE equipped device. Some of the specs of this Verizon-exclusive phone include a Snapdragon 435 processor with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, 12MP rear and 8MP front cameras, 800mAh battery, IP68 water and dust resistance, and Android 8.1. As Kellen notes, “It does cost $350, which is a lot for a faux phone…” We’ve already seen a number of gadget fans perplexed by this device. Digital Trends goes as far as calling it “the stupidest product of the year.”

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Qualcomm’s New Wi-Fi Chips Are Meant To Rival 5G Speeds

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“Qualcomm is launching a family of chips that can add incredibly high-speed Wi-Fi — at speeds up to 10 gigabits per second — to phones, laptops, routers, and so on,” reports The Verge. The Wi-Fi standard used for something like replacing a virtual reality headset’s data cable with a high-speed wireless link is being updated. Qualcomm’s latest chips improve a wireless technology called WiGig, which relies on a connection standard known as 802.11ad, which can hit speeds up to 5 gigabits per second over close to 10 meters. The new generation of that wireless standard, called 802.11ay, can reach speeds twice as fast, and can do so up to 100 meters away, according to Dino Bekis, the head of Qualcomm’s mobile and compute connectivity group. The Wi-Fi Alliance says the new standard “increases the peak data rates of WiGig and improves spectrum efficiency and reduces latency.” From the report: So why not just use this as normal Wi-Fi, given how fast it gets? Because that range is only line-of-sight — when there’s literally nothing in the way between the transmitter and the receiver. This high-speed Wi-Fi is based on millimeter wave radio waves in the 60GHz range. That means it’s really fast, but also that it has a very difficult time penetrating obstacles, like a wall. That’s a problem if you want a general purpose wireless technology. That’s why 802.11ay, like 802.11ad before it, is being used as an optional add-on to existing Wi-Fi technology. If you’re one of the people who has a need for these extreme wireless speeds, then maybe you’ll find a use for it. Just keep in mind, you’ll probably need to keep your router and the device receiving these high speeds in the same room in order for it to work, due to the whole “walls” issue. WiGig will also be competing with 5G, as it offers “similarly fast speeds over similarly limited distances,” reports The Verge. “[T]he two standards may be competing as an option for delivering internet from a tower to a home — that’s what Facebook’s Terragraph is doing with WiGig, and it’s what Verizon is doing with 5G.”

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Slashdot Asks: Can Anything Replace ‘QWERTY’ Keyboards?

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MIT Technology Review recently discussed new attempts to replace the standard ‘QWERY’ keyboard layout, including Tap, “a one-handed gadget that fits over your fingers like rubbery brass knuckles and connects wirelessly to your smartphone.”
It’s supposed to free you from clunky physical keyboards and act as a go-anywhere typing interface. A promotional video shows smiling people wearing Tap and typing with one hand on a leg, on an arm, and even (perhaps jokingly) on some guy’s forehead… But when I tried it, the reality of using Tap was neither fun nor funny. Unlike a conventional QWERTY keyboard, Tap required me to think a lot, because I had to tap my fingers in not-very-intuitive combinations to create letters: an A is your thumb, a B is your index finger and pinky, a C is all your fingers except the index.
The article also acknowledges the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout and other alternatives like the one-handed Twiddler keyboard, but argues that “neither managed to dent QWERTY’s dominance.”
[W]hat if the future is no input interface at all? Neurable is a startup in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that’s working on a way to type simply by thinking. It uses an electrode-dotted headband connected to a VR headset to track brain activity. Machine learning helps figure out what letter you’re trying to select and anticipate which key you’ll want next. After you select several keys, it can fill in the rest of the word, says cofounder and CEO Ramses Alcaide…. Then there’s the device being built over at CTRL-Labs: an armband that detects the activity of muscle fibers in the arm. One use could be to replace gaming controllers. For another feature in the works, algorithms use the data to figure out what it is that your hands are trying to type, even if they’re barely moving. CEO and cofounder Thomas Reardon, who previously created Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, says this too is a neural interface, of a sort. Whether you’re typing or dictating, you’re using your brain to turn muscles on and off, he points out.
While a developer version will be shipped this year, Reardon “admits that it is still not good enough for him to toss his trusty mid-’80s IBM Model M keyboard, which he says still ‘sounds like rolling thunder’ when he types.” But do any Slashdot readers have their own suggestions or experiences to share?

Can anything replace ‘QWERTY’ keyboards?

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RIP Greg Stafford, a Fundamental Personage of the RPG Industry

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“The first published RPG was Dungeons & Dragons, shortly followed by some other imitative games,” Greg Stafford once said. “Chaosium, however, was never content to imitate but published games that were original in style of play, content and design.”
Greg Stafford died Thursday at the age of 71. Long-time Slashdot reader argStyopa shares this memorial from Chaosium’s Michael O’Brien.

As one of the greatest game designers of all time; winner of too many awards to count; and a friend, mentor, guide, and inspiration to generations of gamers, “the Grand Shaman of Gaming” influenced the universe of tabletop gaming beyond measure. Greg founded The Chaosium in 1975… Under his leadership, the company quickly became renowned for its originality and creativity, and was responsible for introducing numerous things to the hobby that are standards today. As John Wick (7th Sea, Legend of the Five Rings) memorably said, “The older I get, the more I hear young RPG designers say ‘Never been done before!’ And then I just point at something Greg Stafford did a few decades ago.”
Greg’s work in roleplaying games, board games, and fiction have been acclaimed as some of the most engaging and innovative of all time. There will doubtless be many valedictory messages over the coming days from the countless people that Greg inspired and enthused across his many interests and passions — Glorantha, Oaxaca, King Arthur, shamanism, mythology and more. For now, we leave you with the words of the Myth maker himself, speaking at the 2018 ENnies Awards ceremony, his last public engagement
“When I started Chaosium in 1975… we never imagined, truly, that it would reach the magnitude that it has today,” Stafford tells the audience. “It went through a long period of being some strange thing that just random geeks did… I figure when role-playing games get on The X-Files and The Simpsons, we’ve made it…”
“”It’s true that it’s not us. We’re a bunch of obsessive-compulsive, detail-minded game designers, people looking desperately for a job that doesn’t make them wear a tie to work, artists who would’ve never had a market without our industry. We all do a lot of work, but in fact we’re just a small handful of people, and truly the phenomenon that we have today is not due to us, but is due to you, the fans and the players. We really appreciate everything that you’ve done… I want to say thank you to all of you fans.”
The forum at Basic Roleplaying Central has started a condolences thread.

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The Long, Long History of Long, Long CVS Receipts

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Why is a receipt for cough drops the height of a small child? Rachel Sugar, writing for Vox: CVS is a drugstore much like other drugstores, with one important difference: The receipts are very long. How long are the receipts? For at least a decade, concerned shoppers have dedicated themselves to this question, producing a robust body of phone-picture literature on the subject. You could not major in CVS receipt studies, probably, but you could minor. Not all CVS receipts are created equal. If you, a non-loyal shopper, mosey into CVS and buy some Tylenol and a package of seasonal candy, you will get a receipt that is unspectacular (read: a normal length). To get one of the iconically long CVS receipts, you need to use your ExtraCare card, which means you need to be an ExtraCare member. (You can join as long as you are willing to turn over your name and phone number in exchange for better deals.) People on the internet have documented this phenomenon with a vigor usually reserved for cats climbing in and out of boxes. On Twitter and on Instagram, shoppers stand next to their CVS receipts, which are often as tall as they are, and sometimes taller.

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Razer Phone 2 Launches With Notch-less Display, Wireless Charging, and RGB Lighting

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Last November, Razer unveiled a smartphone designed for gamers who value performance and power over bells and whistles like waterproofing and wireless charging. At an event Wednesday night, Razer took the wraps off its successor, aptly named Razer Phone 2, which sports a brighter, notch-less, 5.72-inch IGZO LCD display with a 2560×1440 resolution and HDR, wireless charging, IP67 water- and dust-resistance rating, and RGB lighting behind the Razer logo on the rear. Given the addition of waterproofing and wireless charging, the Razer Phone 2 appears to be much more well-rounded than its predecessor, making the decision all the more difficult when shopping for a premium, high-end smartphone. AnandTech reports: This display is rated at 645 nits peak, up to 50% higher than the previous Razer Phone, and also supports HDR. Razer states that the display also has wide color gamut, which turns out to be 98.4% of DCI-P3. Also on the front, it has two front facing speakers in identical positions to the previous generation, and it has a front facing camera and sensor (albeit with swapped positions). That front camera is an 8MP f/2.0 unit, capable of recording at 1080p60, a user-requested feature for streaming and selfie recording. The front of the device is Corning Gorilla Glass 5, an upgrade from GG3 in the last generation.

When we move to the rear, things change much more noticeably. Instead of the aluminum rear, Razer has a full Gorilla Glass 5 back, which helps enable Qi Wireless Charging, a much requested feature. This is alongside QuickCharge 4+ through a Type-C cable. On the rear we have the dual cameras, this time placed in the center just above the logo. This time around Razer has gone with a 20MP Sony IMX363 f/1.75 main camera with OIS, and an 8MP Sony IMX 351 f/2.6 telephoto camera to enable some extra zoom functionality. Below the cameras is the Razer logo, which has a full 16.8million color RGB LED underneath which users can adjust through the onboard Chroma software. The Razer Phone 2 is still very much power-focused, as it features Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 CPU with a “vapor chamber cooling” which can allow the phone to draw 20-30% more power than other flagships. There’s 8GB of LPDDR4X memory, 64GB of UFS storage with support for a microSD card, and a whopping 4,000mAh. Razer says their new smartphone will be priced at $799 and will start shipping in mid-November.

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Google Home Hub Is Nothing Like Other Google Smart Displays

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On Tuesday, Google announced the Google Home Hub, a 7-inch display that gives you visual information, making it easier to control smart home appliances and view photos and the weather. The unusual thing about it is that it doesn’t run the smart display software that it introduced for third-party OEMs. Ars Technica explains: First, let’s talk about what the third-party smart displays run. When Google created its smart display software, it also came up with a turnkey solution for OEMs. So far, we’ve seen Lenovo, LG, and Samsung’s JBL all produce devices on the same basic platform. Just like with smartphones, these devices are all an extension of the Android/Qualcomm partnership — they run Android Things on Qualcomm’s SD624 Home Hub Platform. Android Things is Google’s stripped-down version of Android that is purpose-built for IoT products, and the third-party smart displays are the first commercial devices to run the OS.

Unlike regular phone Android, Android Things is not customizable by third-parties. All Android Things devices use an OS image direct from Google, and Google centrally distributes updates to all Android Things devices for three years. Android Things doesn’t really have an interface. It’s designed to get a device up and running and show a single app, which on the smart displays is the Google Smart Display app. Qualcomm’s “Home Hub” platform was purposely built to run Android Things and this Google Assistant software — the SD624 is for smart displays, while the less powerful SDA212 is for speakers. When it came time to build the Google Home Hub, Google didn’t use any of this. After talking to Google’s VP of product management, Diya Jolly, Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo discovered that the Home Hub is actually built on Google’s Cast platform and uses an Amlogic chip instead of Qualcomm’s SD624 Home Hub Platform.
When asked why Google was using a totally different platform from the third parties, Jolly told Amadeo, “There’s no particular reason. We just felt we could bring the experience to bear with Cast, and the experiences are the same. We would have easily given the third-parties Cast if they wanted it, but I think most developers are comfortable using Android Things.” Amadeo seems to think it has to do with the low price, as it undercuts the cheapest third-party Google smart display (Lenovo’s 8-inch model) by fifty bucks.

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Magic Leap Expands Shipments of Its AR Headset To 48 US States

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At the company’s first developer conference, Magic Leap announced they are opening orders of the Magic Leap One Creator’s Edition headset to the 48 contiguous states of the USA. If you’re in Hawaii or Alaska, no dice. TechCrunch reports: Previously, you had to be in Chicago, LA, Miami, NYC, San Francisco or Seattle in order to get your hands on it. Also, if you had previously ordered the headset in one of those cities, someone would come to you, drop it off and get you set up personally. That service is expanding to 50 cities, but you also don’t need to have someone set it up for you in order to buy one now. It’s worth reiterating that this thing costs $2,295. The company is doing a financing plan with Affirm so that interested buyers can spread the cost of the device over 24 months.

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Google Announces ‘Home Hub’ Smart Display With 7-Inch Screen, No Camera

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At its Pixel 3 launch event, Google announced a smart speaker called the Google Home Hub, featuring a 7-inch display to give you visual information, making it easier to control smart home devices and view photos and the weather. Interestingly, Google decided not to include a camera in this device for privacy reasons, as they want you to feel comfortable placing it in an intimate location, such as a bedroom. PhoneDog reports: Google explains that Home Hub will be able to recognize who is speaking to it using Voice Match to provide info for that specific person, which should help to make the device more useful in homes with multiple people. And when you’re not using Home Hub, a feature called Live Albums will let you select certain people and have Google Photos create albums with images of these people. Another feature of Google’s Home Hub is the Home View. With it, you can easily see and control your smart home devices. And then there’s Ambient EQ, which uses a sensor that’ll adjust the color and brightness of the Home Hub screen based on the ambient lighting. That includes dimming the screen at night when it’s time for bed. Google Home Hub will be available for $149 in four colors — Chalk, Charcoal, Aqua, and Sand. It will launch on October 22nd and each purchase will come with six months of YouTube Premium.

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Commissioning Misleading Core i9-9900K Benchmarks

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On Monday, Intel unveiled the 9th Gen Core i9-9900K, which will rival AMD’s Ryzen 2700X when it goes on sale in two weeks. We will soon be reading reviews of the 9th Gen Core i9-9900K, which Intel claims is the “world’s best gaming processor,” to see how exactly it fares against its AMD counterpart. But as reviewers test the new CPU and comply with an NDA/embargo (non-disclosure agreement) with Intel, which requires them to not share performance data of Intel’s new CPU for another few days, surprisingly, one publication has already made a bold claim. In a story published this week, news outlet PCGamesN said, “Intel’s Core i9 9900K is up to 50% faster than AMD’s Ryzen 7 2700X in games.” The publication cites data from an Intel-commissioned report [PDF] by third-party firm Principle Technologies to make the claim. TechSpot explains the issues with this: So Intel can go and publish their own “testing” done suspiciously through a third party ten days before reviews, while reviewers are prohibited from refuting the claims due to the NDA. First bad sign. Scrolling down PCGamesN says the following when looking over Intel’s commissioned benchmarks. “But the real point of all this is for Intel to be able to hold out the 9900K as hands down the best gaming processor compared with the AMD competition, and in that it seems to have excelled. On some games, such as Civ 6 and PUBG, the performance delta isn’t necessarily that great, but for the most part you’re looking at between 30 and 50% higher frame rates from the 9900K versus the 2700X.” Right away many of the results looked very suspect to me, having spent countless hours benchmarking both the 2700X and 8700K, I have a good idea of how they compare in a wide range of titles and these results looked very off. Having spotted a few dodgy looking results my next thought was, why is PCGamesN publishing this misleading data and why aren’t they not tearing the paid benchmark report apart? Do they simply not know better? Over at the Principled Technologies website you can find the full report which states how they tested and the hardware used. Official memory speeds were used which isn’t a particularly big deal, though they have gone out of their way to handicap Ryzen, or at the very least expose its weaknesses. Ryzen doesn’t perform that well with fully populated memory DIMMs, two modules is optimal. However timings are also important and they used Corsair Vengeance memory without loading the extreme memory profile or XMP setting, instead they just set the memory frequency to 2933 and left the ridiculously loose default memory timings in place. These loose timings ensure compatibility so systems will boot up, but after that point you need to enable the memory profile. It’s misleading to conduct benchmarks without executing this crucial step.

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Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL Announced With Bigger Screens and Best Cameras Yet

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Google on Tuesday unveiled the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, its latest flagship Android smartphones. “For life on the go, we designed the world’s best camera and put it in the world’s most helpful phone,” said Google’s hardware chief Rick Osterloh. From a report: The Pixel 3 starts at $799 for 64GB, with the 3 XL costing $899. Add $100 to either for the 128GB storage option. Core specs for both include a Snapdragon 845, 4GB RAM (there’s no option for more), Bluetooth 5.0, and front-facing stereo speakers. Also inside is a new Titan M security chip, which Google says provides “on-device protection for login credentials, disk encryption, app data, and the integrity of the operating system.” Preorders for both phones begin today, and buyers will get six months of free YouTube Music service. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL both feature larger screens than last year’s models thanks to slimmed down bezels — and the controversial notch in the case of the bigger phone. The 3 XL has a 6.3-inch display (up from six inches on the 2 XL), while the regular 3 has a 5.5-inch screen (up from five inches). Overall, though, the actual phones are very similar in size and handling to their direct predecessors. Google has stuck with a single rear 12.2-megapixel camera on both phones, continuing to resist the dual-camera industry trend. But it’s a different story up front. Both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL have two front-facing cameras; one of them offers a wider field of view for getting more people or a greater sense of your surroundings into a selfie. […] A new Top Shot option will select the best image from a burst series of shots. Like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, it will weed out pictures that are blurry or snaps where someone blinked. Super Res Zoom uses multiple frames and AI to deliver a sharper final photo even without optical zoom. There’s another interesting feature on the new Pixel handsets: To help you avoid calls from scammers, Google is adding Call Screen to the Pixel, a new option that appears when you receive a phone call. Whenever someone calls you, you can tap a “Screen call” button, and a robot voice will pick up. “The person you’re calling is using a screening service, and will get a copy of this conversation. Go ahead and say your name, and why you’re calling,” the Google bot will say. As the caller responds, the digital assistant will transcribe the caller’s message for you. If you need more information, you can use one of the feature’s canned responses, which include, “Tell me more,” and “Who is this?” There is an accept and reject call button that’s on-screen, so you can hang up or take the call at any time.

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Google Unveils Pixel Slate, Its First Laptop-Tablet Hybrid in Three Years

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In addition to announcing new flagship phones today, Google took the wraps off a new premium tablet called the Pixel Slate. It’s a Chrome OS-powered slate with a 12.3-inch display that’s supposed to be the sharpest in its class. Google claims this isn’t just a laptop pretending to be a tablet or a phone pretending to be a computer. From a report: It has a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 — i.e., a pixel density of 293 ppi, which Google says is the highest for a premium 12-inch tablet. For reference, the Surface Pro 6 and iPad Pro (12.9 inch) come in at 267 ppi and 264 ppi, respectively. Google was able to make the screen so sharp because of an energy-efficient LCD technology called Low Temperature PolySilicon (LTPS), which let the company pack in more pixels without sacrificing size or battery. In fact, the Pixel Slate is supposed to last up to 12 hours on a charge, which is impressive for its skinny 7mm profile. […] What stands out about the Pixel Slate is the version of Chrome OS it runs. When docked to a mouse or a keyboard accessory with a trackpad, it runs the regular desktop interface most people are familiar with by now. Disconnect peripherals, though, and it switches automatically to tablet mode, which is optimized for touch. In this profile, the home screen features icons for installed apps, much like the app drawer on Android phones. You can split the screen between up to two apps or drag and drop browser tabs to place them side by side. The Pixel Slate will be available with an Intel Celeron or Core M3, i5 or i7 processor, and 4GB to 16GB of RAM at a starting price of $599. The keyboard will cost an additional $200, should you wish to buy one, and the pen accessory will similarly cost $99.

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How To Disable Gmail’s Annoying New ‘Smart Compose’ Predictive Typing Feature

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“I’ve seen this ‘Smart Compose’ feature described publicly with a range of adjectives,” writes Lauren Weinstein, “including intrusive, wonderful, invasive, creepy, accurate, loony, mistaken, helpful, misguided — well, you get the point, opinions are all over the map….”

My foundational complaint here isn’t that Google deployed Smart Compose, but rather that they enabled it by default without providing users even basic related information, including the all important “How the hell do I turn this damned thing off?” — the very question filling my inbox of late! So here’s how you turn it off. It’s easy, IF you know how.

One anonymous reader has another solution. “I’m just using Gmail in HTML-only mode now. Its actually far more usable than their new crap and I’m quite fond of the older look anyway.” You could also just stop using Gmail — but Weinstein thinks it’s easier to disable the “Smart Compose feature.
“With the understanding that Google has great AI and is itching to use it whenever and wherever possible, I don’t really need it analyzing my email drafts as I type them. At least in my case, its proposed wordings are nearly always — what’s the technical term? — oh yes, WRONG.
“And the predictions intrusively and continuously interrupt my flow of typing as each one needs to be individually bypassed.”

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LG Announces V40 ThinQ With Five Cameras, 6.4-iInch OLED Screen

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While LG technically announced the LG V40 ThinQ last week in Korea, it left many surprises for its October 3rd event in the U.S. We have now learned that the company’s new flagship sports a total of five cameras, a 6.4-inch display, headphone jack with hi-fi Quad DAC, and Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB of RAM. The Verge reports: [T]he V40 has a very premium price and will range between $900 and $980 from US carriers when it’s released on October 18th in black or blue color options. The 6.4-inch, notched OLED panel doesn’t have the same “super bright” mode you can find on the G7, with brightness topping out between 500 and 600 nits. But LG says the phone is noticeably lighter — more than an ounce — than both the Note and XS Max. The new three-camera setup on the back of the V40 offers a lot of versatility. It includes:
– Standard f/1.5 12-megapixel camera with 1.4um pixels that are 40 percent larger than the G7. Remember that bigger pixels are a key reason for the improved camera performance in the iPhone XS, so hopefully LG fans will see a similar uptick in quality over the G7.
– Super-wide-angle f/1.9 16MP camera with 107-degree field of view. Identical to G7.
– 12MP f/2.4 telephoto/portrait camera, which basically amounts to a 2x optical zoom compared to the regular lens. LG has added new lighting effects such as “natural, studio, contour, stage, stage mono.”
With the move to three sensors, LG is also introducing two additional software features that take advantage of this system. A new “triple preview” feature will show you a live preview from all three cameras simultaneously, letting you quickly pick the right one for the shot you’re trying to get without having to switch between them. And “triple shot” captures all three angles with a single press of the shutter button; it saves a GIF of the transition between them and also saves each individual shot. […] If you’re curious about battery life, the V40 has a 3,300mAh battery that LG says delivers longevity that’s only around 10 percent less than the Note 9. Other specifications include an IP68 water and dust resistance, Qi wireless charging, and Android Oreo that’s upgradeable to Android Pie, although there’s no official timeline available yet.

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Microsoft Now Has the Best Device Lineup in the Industry

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An anonymous reader shares commentary on the new devices Microsoft unveiled Tuesday: At a low-key event held in a New York City warehouse, Microsoft unveiled its next iterations in the Surface lineup. Sitting in the audience, I saw the most coherent device strategy in the industry, from a company that’s slowly built a hardware business from the ground up. The company took just an hour to unveil sweeping updates to its existing hardware, and what’s clear after the dust has settled is that Microsoft’s hardware division is a force to be reckoned with. Apple’s dominance on the high-end laptop space looks shakier than ever, because Microsoft’s story is incredibly compelling. Rather than building out a confusing, incompatible array of devices, Microsoft has taken the time to build a consistent, clear portfolio that has something to fit everyone across the board. […] What’s interesting about this is the Surface hardware is now incredibly consistent across the board, making it dead simple for consumers to choose a device they like. Each device offers high quality industrial design, with consistent input methods regardless of form factor, and a tight software story to boot. That matters. Every single one of these machines has a touchscreen, supports a high-quality stylus, and current generation chipsets. The only question is which device fits your lifestyle, and whether or not you want the faster model. The peripherals work across every machine, and Microsoft has clearly gone to lengths with Timeline and Your Phone to make the software as seamless as you’d expect in 2018. Microsoft, it seems, has removed all of the barriers to remaining in your ‘flow.’ Surface is designed to adapt to the mode you want to be in, and just let you do it well. Getting shit done doesn’t require switching device or changing mode, you can just pull off the keyboard, or grab your pen and the very same machine adapts to you. It took years to get here, but Microsoft has nailed it. By comparison, the competition is flailing around arguing about whether or not touchscreens have a place on laptops. The answer? Just let people choose.

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Windows 10 October 2018 Update Is Now Available; Features ‘Your Phone’ Android Messaging App, Dark Theme For File Explorer, and Other Tweaks

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Microsoft today announced that the Windows 10 October 2018 update is now available. While the update is fairly minor, it does offer a number of interesting new features. TechCrunch reports: The most interesting of these is probably the new “Your Phone” app, which allows you to text from your PC using an Android phone that also runs Microsoft’s mobile companion app. In later iterations, that app will also sync notifications to your desktop, but for now, that’s not an option. There also are tools for continuing your workflow as you switch from your phone to PC (or vice versa). These features work for iOS users, too. As far as syncing between devices goes, it’s worth noting that the update also will allow you to share your clipboard between PCs.

Since everybody likes a dark mode these days, the Windows 10 File Explorer now also includes a dark theme. There’s also a revamped search experience, as well as a new screenshot tool. While the release includes plenty of other tweaks, both in terms of functionality and design, the most anticipated feature, Sets, didn’t make it into this release. Sets is probably the biggest change to the overall Windows user experience since the release of Windows 10, so maybe it’s no surprise that Microsoft is trying to perfect this. And perfection takes a while. ZDNet has highlighted many of the “smaller” new features, such as the improved Windows search functionality, battery details for Bluetooth devices, and a built-in Clipboard manager that can sync clips across devices signed into the same Microsoft account.

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Microsoft Unveils Surface Laptop 2 and Surface Pro 6

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Microsoft said Tuesday it was refreshing the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro lineups with new models that offer updated specs and a black color option. The price tags have changed slightly: the Surface Laptop 2 starts at $999 (same as the Surface Laptop) while the Surface Pro 6 starts at $899 (up $100 from its predecessor). From a report: Both devices come with 8th-generation Intel Core processors (upgradeable all the way up to quad-core) and start at 128GB of SSD storage (upgradable to 1TB). The Surface Laptop 2 starts at 8GB of RAM (upgradeable to 16GB) while the Surface Pro 6 still comes with 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB of RAM. Panos Panay, head of engineering for all of Microsoft’s devices, said the Surface Laptop 2 is 85 percent faster than the original Surface Laptop. He also mentioned that the screen features more than 3.4 million pixels, a 1,500:1 contrast ratio, and happens to be the lightest touchscreen panel on the market. Panay said the Surface Pro 6 is 67 percent more powerful than its predecessor (which oddly enough was just called Surface Pro). Surface Pro 6 still gets 13.5 hours of battery life, weighs 1.7 pounds, and has a 267ppi screen with “the highest contrast ratio” Microsoft has ever delivered.

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