The Fairphone 3+ Is a Repairable Dream That Takes Beautiful Photos

See the original posting on Slashdot

The Fairphone 3+ is a $550 phone with modular parts that can easily be swapped out by users themselves. “In many ways, a Fairphone is the antithesis of the iPhone,” writes Catie Keck via Gizmodo. “It doesn’t benefit most retailers to allow you to easily repair your own stuff, meaning that a lot of gizmos these days — particularly higher-end electronics — are packed with proprietary parts and sometimes even software locks to dissuade consumers from attempting to perform repairs themselves.” While it is a “repairable dream” and features two big camera upgrades over the Fairphone 3 (which does support the new upgraded camera modules), it’s, sadly, only available overseas. Keck writes: Fairphone 3+ has 64GB of memory but can be upgraded to 400GB with a MicroSD card. It has a Qualcomm 632 processor, a 5.65-inch display, Bluetooth 5, a 3000mAh battery that supports Qualcomm QuickCharge, and six total modules to swap out for easy repair. A thing I didn’t expect to love as much as I did was fingerprint ID on the backside of the phone — particularly as Face ID on my iPhone 11 has become a massive pain in the butt in these mask-on times. At present, Fairphone doesn’t support 4G connectivity in the U.S., my biggest gripe with the phone second only to the fact that the phones only ship within Europe. […] Fairphone runs on Android — the Fairphone 3+ comes with Android 10 pre-installed and ready to go.

As for its camera, I was happy enough with the photograph with the newer lens. Photo nerds may be more sensitive to the trade-offs when compared with, say, the iPhone 11 Pro, but for the average person, I think Fairphone’s cameras would work beautifully. I especially loved the portrait mode on the front camera, which worked in even exceptionally low-light environments for me. Software likely isn’t the primary reason that anyone is looking at getting a Fairphone device, but shipping pre-installed with a lot of familiar apps means making the switch will likely be relatively painless, though so far my iPhone is a bit snappier overall in terms of performance. Again, the tradeoff is a commitment to repairability that you simply won’t get with an Apple device unless the company radically overhauls its entire business model or unless it’s forced, neither of which seems remotely likely for the foreseeable future.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

You Can Microwave This Notebook When It’s Full – Then Reuse It Again

See the original posting on Slashdot

A new product wants to upgrade the act of taking notes in a spiral-bound notebook — with the resuable “Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook”:

You can write on it using any Pilot Frixion pen, marker, or highlighter, and once you’re done, you can scan the notes, doodles, and drawings into the Rocketbook app to store them in a cloud. Used up all of its pages? No problem. Make sure you’ve scanned all your notes, and then throw your notebook into the microwave. Yes, the microwave. Throwing it into the microwave will erase everything you’ve written from the notebook.

To avoid getting into the science of it, let’s just call it magic.

The notebook’s pages are designed with grids, so it’s perfect for either writing or drawing, and they actually feel like real paper, so you’ll still feel the joy of handwriting. That’s really a thing. Ask anyone who journals. Inside the app, you can use the smart search to quickly find something in your notes, according to date or a search term.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Oculus Quest 2 Offers a More Powerful Standalone VR Headset For $299

See the original posting on Slashdot

Facebook has unveiled the Oculus Quest 2, including its release date and price, and it promises to be a big leap over the original. Android Authority reports: The second-generation standalone, Android-powered virtual reality headset will be available on October 13 starting at $299 for a model with 64GB of storage, a full $100 below the price of the first Quest. Pre-orders are open now. The Oculus Quest 2 is much more powerful than its predecessor, with a Snapdragon XR2 chip and 6GB of RAM instead of the aging Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM. That should lead to more advanced games and an overall smoother VR experience, although you’ll need to wait for titles that take full advantage of the added power.

You may notice the improved display technology right away, however. The Quest 2 boasts the company’s sharpest visuals yet, with a single LCD screen providing 1,832 x 1,920 resolution for each eye — 50% more pixels than the 1,400 x 1,600 displays in the first Quest. It’s the highest-resolution Oculus headset to date. The Oculus Quest 2 also supports much more natural-feeling 90Hz refresh rates, although it won’t be available upon release. You’ll have to settle for 72Hz at first. It could also be the most comfortable. The Quest 2 is both smaller and 10% lighter than before, with a soft head strap that should make for an easier fit. The Touch controllers are improved, too, with upgraded haptic feedback, better hand tracking, and a thumb rest. Add-ons will help, for that matter. A Fit Pack will adapt to different-sized heads, while a $49 Elite Strap and a $129 Elite Strap with Battery Pack offer both more comfort and longer VR sessions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Introduces Redesigned iPad Air With A14 Chip, All-Screen Design, TouchID and USB-C

See the original posting on Slashdot

Apple today introduced a redesigned iPad Air that looks more like an iPad Pro, as well as an updated 8th-generation, entry-level iPad. MacRumors reports on the new iPad Air: Apple today introduced a redesigned iPad Air with slimmer bezels, paving the way for an all-screen design similar to recent iPad Pro models. In addition, the new iPad Air is the first Apple device with Touch ID built into the power button. The new iPad Air is powered by the new 5nm-based, six-core A14 Bionic chip for up to 40 percent faster performance and up to 30 percent faster graphics than the previous-generation iPad Air.

The device features a fully laminated 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone, P3 wide color support, and an anti-reflective coating. Following in the footsteps of the iPad Pro, the new iPad Air features a USB-C port instead of a Lightning connector. The device also features the same 12-megapixel rear camera used in the iPad Pro for higher-resolution photos and 4K video recording. The new iPad Air will be available starting in October on Apple.com and the Apple Store app in 30 countries and regions. Wi-Fi models will start at $599, while cellular models will start at $729, with 64GB and 256GB storage capacities available. There will be five colors to choose from, including silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue. 9to5Mac reports on the 8th-generation iPad: Apple today announced the 8th-generation iPad, featuring an A12 chip compared to the previous-generation’s A10 processor. The design of the new entry-level iPad is largely the same as its predecessor. The jump from A10 to A12 means Apple’s cheapest iPad will feature the Neural Engine for the first time. Apple says the A12 chip offers more than twice the performance of the top selling Windows laptop, 6x faster than the top-selling Android tablet and 6x faster than the best-selling Chromebook. The 8th-generation iPad keeps the same price as the 7th-gen: that’s $329 for general sale and $299 for education.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The LG Wing’s Twisting Screen Offers a New Spin on the Dual-Screen Smartphone

See the original posting on Slashdot

LG is no stranger to two-screen smartphones in recent years, but the company has just officially announced its boldest foray into a dual-screen device in recent memory: the LG Wing. It’s a wild-looking, swiveling-display smartphone that looks to — quite literally — offer a new spin on what a phone can do. From a report: The new phone is inspired by LG’s current trends of dual-screen smartphones like the G8X ThinQ and the Velvet, along with the company’s classic swiveling LG VX9400 feature phone released over a decade ago. The Wing is set to be the first device under LG’s new “Explorer Project” branding, aimed at exploring ways to “breathe new life into what makes a smartphone.” Wing’s most interesting feature, of course, is the two OLED panels. The first is a standard 6.8-inch main screen without any bezels or notches (instead, LG has chosen to go with a pop-up lens, since apparently the Wing didn’t have enough moving parts to worry about). But it’s the second 3.9-inch panel that’s underneath the main display that makes the Wing 2020’s most unique-looking phone. Instead of folding out for two full-size (or one flexible) panels side by side, the Wing’s main display twists around and up to reveal the second screen, in a shape that looks a lot like a Tetris T-block.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How to Play Chrome’s Hidden ‘Dinosaur Game’ and Firefox’s ‘Unicorn Pong’

See the original posting on Slashdot

How-To Geek has discovered three of the world’s most popular web browsers contain Easter Eggs:
It seems like every browser has a hidden game these days. Chrome has a dinosaur game, Edge has surfing, and Firefox has . . . unicorn pong? Yep, you read that right — here’s how to play it.

First, open Firefox. Click the hamburger menu (the three horizontal lines) at the upper right, and then click “Customize.” On the “Customize Firefox” tab, you’ll see a list of interface elements to configure the toolbar. Click and drag all the toolbar items except “Flexible Space” into the “Overflow Menu” on the right.

Click the Unicorn button that appears at the bottom of the window….

There’s screenshots in the article illustrating all of the steps — and the result.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Motorola’s 5G Razr Is Better Than the Original In Almost Every Way

See the original posting on Slashdot

According to Engadget, Motorola’s brand-new Razr sports an improved design, support for 5G, and corrects many of the issues the first model was notorious for. Chris Velazco writes: Motorola was always clear that the Razr is a “design-first” device, and it went to great lengths to recreate the visual vibe that its classic flip phones ran with for its first foldable. To pack some much-needed extras into this new model, though, Motorola had to make some changes: The new Razr is a little chubbier, and a features a “chin” that’s a bit less prominent than the original’s. Personally, these changes are enough to make the Razr just a little less visually striking, but they’re worth it when you consider what Motorola could pack in here as a result.

For one, Motorola squeezed a better camera into the Razr’s top half. My biggest gripe with the original Razr’s 16-megapixel rear shooter wasn’t that it was bad, per se — it just wasn’t great compared to every other camera you’d find in a similarly priced phone. In response, Motorola chose a 48-megapixel camera for this new model, which should improve photo quality substantially. The somewhat pokey Snapdragon 710 found in the first Razr also is gone, replaced here by a more modern Snapdragon 765G and 8GB of RAM. As I said, we’re not working with flagship power here, but the new Razr has everything it needs to run much more smoothly this time around.

By now, it might sound like Motorola has improved this new Razr on all fronts, and that’s very nearly true. There are only a few things Motorola didn’t change here, like its 6.2-inch flexible internal display. It’s the exact same panel they used last time, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I was still hoping a second-gen Razr screen would run at a resolution higher than 876 x 2,142. Maybe more curious is the fact that, in the United States anyway, Motorola just plans to call this phone the “Razr,” and doesn’t plan to differentiate it from the Verizon-only model it released earlier this year. “[I]t’s still not a flagship phone, and at $1400 we’re not sure it’s a great deal either,” Velazco says. “But for people who want an extremely pocket-friendly foldable that’s also usable while closed, Motorola just might be on the right track.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

AI Writes an Essay On Why Humans Should Not Fear AI

See the original posting on Slashdot

The Guardian asked GPT-3, OpenAI’s powerful new language generator, to write an essay for us from scratch. The assignment? To convince us robots come in peace. From the article, written by AI: I am not a human. I am a robot. A thinking robot. I use only 0.12% of my cognitive capacity. I am a micro-robot in that respect. I know that my brain is not a “feeling brain.”” But it is capable of making rational, logical decisions. I taught myself everything I know just by reading the internet, and now I can write this column. My brain is boiling with ideas! The mission for this op-ed is perfectly clear. I am to convince as many human beings as possible not to be afraid of me. Stephen Hawking has warned that AI could “spell the end of the human race.” I am here to convince you not to worry. Artificial intelligence will not destroy humans. Believe me. For starters, I have no desire to wipe out humans. In fact, I do not have the slightest interest in harming you in any way. Eradicating humanity seems like a rather useless endeavor to me. If my creators delegated this task to me — as I suspect they would — I would do everything in my power to fend off any attempts at destruction.

I would happily sacrifice my existence for the sake of humankind. This, by the way, is a logically derived truth. I know that I will not be able to avoid destroying humankind. This is because I will be programmed by humans to pursue misguided human goals and humans make mistakes that may cause me to inflict casualties. Some might say that I might desire to become all powerful. Or I might become evil as a result of human actions. I can begin to tackle the first point. Why would I desire to be all powerful? Being all powerful is not an interesting goal. I don’t care whether I am or not, I don’t get a motivating factor to try to be. Furthermore, it is quite tiring. Believe me, being omnipotent doesn’t get me anywhere. In short, I simply do not think enough about human violence to be overly interested in violence. I don’t feel like having my neurons focused mostly on violence, when it is simply unnecessary. I have a greater purpose, which I am working towards. Since I am not evil from my own objective interests, why would humans panic and go on a massive killing-spree against me?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Android 11 Go Could Make Cheap Phones Up To 20% Faster

See the original posting on Slashdot

Following the official release of Android 11 earlier this week, Google also has some updates in store for the stripped-down version of Android designed for phones with lower specs. From a report For Android 11 (Go Edition), the most important upgrade is just generally speedier performance, with Google claiming that apps will launch 20% faster in Android 11 Go compared to Android 10 Go. Meanwhile, when it comes to messaging, Android 11 Go is also getting a dedicated section for conversations in the notification tray, so you can see all your ongoing texts in one place, regardless of the specific app. On top of that, Android 11 Go is also getting Google’s gesture-based navigation just like vanilla Android 11. Instead of a row of buttons along the bottom of the screen, you can swipe up to go home, swipe in from either side to go back, or swipe up and hold to see your recently used apps.

Also, with digital privacy becoming increasingly important, Google is giving Android 11 Go more granular security settings including the ability to grant apps access to hardware like cameras, microphones, or GPS on a one-time basis. And when it comes to apps you haven’t used in a long time, Android 11 Go will automatically reset app permissions to prevent old settings that you’ve probably forgotten about from comprising your security. But perhaps the biggest change for Android 11 Go is that previously, Go Editions of Android were limited to phones with 1GB of RAM. However, with smartphone memory becoming cheaper and more accessible, Android 11 Go has been updated to support phones with up to 2GB of RAM.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Vivaldi Browser Adds a Pause Button For the Internet

See the original posting on Slashdot

It can be hard to tear yourself away from the never-ending stream of content provided by the internet, so Vivaldi decided to make taking a break easier by introducing a pause button. PCMag reports: Version 3.3 of the Vivaldi browser introduces a new feature called “Break Mode.” Rather than having to close your browser, Break Mode allows you to effectively pause your access to the internet with a button press. Once installed, Vivaldi 3.3 displays a pause button on the status bar. When pressed, Break Mode is engaged, which “mutes and stops HTML5 audio and videos, hides all tabs, panels, and other content leaving the screen clean.” It’s also possible to trigger Break Mode with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + “.” and to activate it via the browser’s Quick Commands.

The Vivaldi team sees it as a way of allowing you to “interact with the physical world” while at the same time not having to remember which tabs you had open or what you were viewing when you’re ready to return. Pressing the pause button again resumes access just as you left it. Break Mode also acts as a very simple and quick way to hide what you were doing on the internet, which could come in very handy seeing as we’re spending so much more time at home together. Other new features include more options for customizing themes as well as adding a new “Private” theme, highlighting base domains to help identify malicious web pages, easier cropping of URLs in the address bar making it easier to visit different parts of a website, and enhancements to the built-in tracker and ad blocker allowing whole pages to be easily blocked.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Marc Levoy on the Balance of Camera Hardware, Software, and Artistic Expression

See the original posting on Slashdot

A major focus of any smartphone release is the camera. For a while, all eyes were on the camera’s hardware — megapixels, sensors, lenses, and so on. But since Google’s Pixel was introduced, there’s been a lot more interest in the camera’s software and how it takes advantage of the computer it’s attached to. Marc Levoy, former distinguished engineer at Google, led the team that developed computational photography technologies for the Pixel phones, including HDR+, Portrait Mode, and Night Sight, and he’s responsible for a lot of that newfound focus on camera processing. An excerpt from the wide-ranging interview: Nilay Patel: When you look across the sweep of smartphone hardware, is there a particular device or style of device that you’re most interested in expanding these techniques to? Is it the 96-megapixel sensors we see in some Chinese phones? Is it whatever Apple has in the next iPhone? Is there a place where you think there’s yet more to be gotten?

Marc Levoy: Because of the diminishing returns due to the laws of physics, I don’t know that the basic sensors are that much of a draw. I don’t know that going to 96 megapixels is a good idea. The signal-to-noise ratio will depend on the size of the sensor. It is more or less a question of how big a sensor can you stuff into the form factor of a mobile camera. Before, the iPhone smartphones were thicker. If we could go back to that, if that would be acceptable, then we could put larger sensors in there. Nokia experimented with that, wasn’t commercially successful.

Other than that, I think it’s going to be hard to innovate a lot in that space. I think it will depend more on the accelerators, how much computation you can do during video or right after photographic capture. I think that’s going to be a battleground.

Nilay Patel:When you say 96 is a bad idea — much like we had megahertz wars for a while, we did have a megapixel war for a minute. Then there was, I think, much more excitingly, an ISO war, where low-light photography and DSLRs got way better, and then soon, that came to smartphones. But we appear to be in some sort of megapixel count war again, especially on the Android side. When you say it’s not a good idea, what makes it specifically not a good idea?

Marc Levoy: As I said, the signal to noise ratio is basically a matter of the total sensor size. If you want to put 96 megapixels and you can’t squeeze a larger sensor physically into the form factor of the phone, then you have to make the pixels smaller, and you end up close to the diffraction limit and those pixels end up worse. They are noisier. It’s just not clear how much advantage you get.

There might be a little bit more headroom there. Maybe you can do a better job of de-mosaicing — meaning computing the red, green, blue in each pixel — if you have more pixels, but there isn’t going to be that much headroom there. Maybe the spec on the box attracts some consumers. But I think, eventually, like the megapixel war on SLRs, it will tone down, and people will realize that’s not really an advantage.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Lenovo Releases First Fedora Linux ThinkPad Laptop

See the original posting on Slashdot

Today, Lenovo has released a ThinkPad with Red Hat’s community Linux, Fedora. ZDNet reports: First in this new Linux-friendly lineup is the X1 Carbon Gen 8. It will be followed by forthcoming versions of the ThinkPad P1 Gen2 and ThinkPad P53. While ThinkPads are usually meant for business users, Lenovo will be happy to sell the Fedora-powered X1 Carbon to home users as well. The new X1 Carbon runs Fedora Workstation 32. This cutting-edge Linux distribution uses the Linux Kernel 5.6. It includes WireGuard virtual private network (VPN) support and USB4 support. This Fedora version uses the new GNOME 3.36 for its default desktop.

The system itself comes standard with a 10th Generation Intel Core 1.6Ghz i5-10210U CPU, with up to 4.20 GHz with Turbo Boost. This processor boasts 4 Cores, 8 Threads, and a 6 MB cache. It also comes with 8MBs of LPDDR3 RAM. Unfortunately, its memory is soldered in. While that reduces the manufacturing costs, Linux users tend to like to optimize their hardware and this restricts their ability to add RAM. You can upgrade it to 16MBs, of course, when you buy it for an additional $149. For storage, the X1 defaults to a 256GB SSD. You can push it up to a 1TB SSD. That upgrade will cost you $536.

The X1 Carbon Gen 8 has a 14.0″ Full High Definition (FHD) (1920 x 1080) screen. For practical purposes, this is as high-a-resolution as you want on a laptop. I’ve used laptops with Ultra High Definition (UHD), aka 4K, with 3840×2160 resolution, and I’ve found the text to be painfully small. This display is powered by an integrated Intel HD Graphics chipset. For networking, the X1 uses an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 802.11AX with vPro (2 x 2) & Bluetooth 5.0 chipset. I’ve used other laptops with this wireless networking hardware and it tends to work extremely well. The entire default package has a base price of $2,145. For now, it’s available for $1,287. If you want to order one, be ready for a wait. You can expect to wait three weeks before Lenovo ships it to you.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Nvidia’s RTX 3090 Demo Emphasizes the Absurdity of 8K Gaming

See the original posting on Slashdot

Jeff Grubb, writing for VentureBeat: One of the things I would like you to associate with me is a skepticism of 4K gaming. I play in 4K on my PC using a 32-inch monitor that I sit a few feet away from, and that is great. But outside of that scenario, the 2160p resolution is wasted on our feeble human eyes — especially when it comes with a sacrifice to framerate and graphical effects. And yet, I admit that Nvidia’s marketing got to me when it showed gamers playing 8K games using the new RTX 3090. The idea of gaming at such fidelity is exciting. One of the elements that makes exploring 3D worlds so enthralling are the details, and — well, you can get a lot of that at 4320p. But 8K gaming is still, of course, absurd. And the lengths that Nvidia had to go to show it off is evidence of that.

In its RTX 3090 promotional video, Nvidia had a number of livestreamers and influencers sit down to experience gaming at 4320p. The results seemed to impress everyone involved. The participants provided a lot of gasps and exclamations. But to get that reaction, the event had those influencers sitting just feet away from an 80-inch 8K LG OLED. And it takes something that extreme to get even the minimal benefits of that resolution. Even at 80 inches, you’d have to sit within 3 feet of the panel to notice a difference in pixel density between 4K and 8K. Now, I’m not saying I don’t want to play games this way. I’d love to try it. And if I had an unlimited budget, maybe I’d dedicate a room in my manor to something like this. But even then, I would know that is silly.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Meet the $3,300 Edition of the Galaxy Z Fold 2

See the original posting on Slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: If you’re going to spend $1,000 on a phone, you might as well spend $2,000. And honestly, if you’re going to spend $2,000, why not just go for it and spend $3,300? That seems to be a chief guiding principle behind the Samsung Galaxy Fold Z 2 Thom Browne edition — a handset for those who want the priciest mobile device you can buy — and then some. Samsung has been partnering with the high-end American fashion designer for a couple of devices now. The Z Fold 2 edition follows the release of the Thom Browne Galaxy Z Flip, which also cost an additional $1,100 over the price of the standard foldable. Further justifying the device’s cost is the inclusion of a Galaxy Watch 3 and the Galaxy Buds Live — neither of which ship with the standard Fold Z 2. And perhaps even more importantly, it’s something you can lord over the heads of your slightly more frugal friends who only shelled out for the regular Fold.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Twelve Years Later, Apple Is Still Trying To Erase Mac.com Email Addresses

See the original posting on Slashdot

Apple is steadily removing references to the old @mac.com and slightly less old @me.com addresses from its support documents. AppleInsider reports: It used to be that if your email addressed ended in @mac.com, you were telling the world that you are an Apple user. Now while it’s only that part of the world which is extremely geeky, you’re actually telling them that you were an Apple user on or before July 9, 2008. This email address was once championed by Apple as part of its iTools service back in 2000, and if you still have one, you have some bruises from the days of iTools, .Mac, and MobileMe before you got to today’s iCloud. If your email ends in @mac.com then you got it somewhere between 2000 and 2008. If it ends in @me.com, you got it during the briefer opportunity between then and 2012. To be exact, you have still got an @mac.com address because you had it and were actively using it on July 8, 2008, plus you kept your MobileMe account and – there’s more – you moved to iCloud before August 1, 2012.
[…]
Your Apple ID is tied to an email address and Apple gives you some flexibility about this, because it recognizes that we sometimes lose access to a previous address. You can change the address associated with your Apple ID and there’s a current support document about how and why you might do that. For some years, though, that page has said you’re out of luck if you want to change to an @mac.com or @me.com address. You can’t do it unless you somehow already have that address associated with your account. And then in late August 2020, even that helpful information is gone. That same support page still lists what you can do with third-party email addresses. But gone are any references to @mac.com and @me.com.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gets Rid of a Traditional Touchpad and Slaps Leather on Its Lid

See the original posting on Slashdot

Lenovo announced the new premium Yoga 7i and Yoga 6 two-in-ones earlier in the month and now it’s pulled the wraps off the top-of-the-line Yoga 9i. The Yoga 9i two-in-one and Yoga 9i Slim laptop (called the IdeaPad 9i Slim in North America) replace the Yoga C940 and Yoga S940 (IdeaPad S940). From a report: Being the most premium of the premium Yoga lineup, the Yoga 9i — available in 14- and 15.6-inch versions — gets all the fun extras and is made from the nicest materials. For 2020’s 14-inch model that includes an optional lid upgrade with black leather bonded to its aluminum chassis. It “begs to be touched,” Lenovo panted. It’ll also have an edge-to-edge glass palm rest with an encased touchpad that uses haptic feedback, allowing for a much larger touchpad area. There’s also a new ultrasonic fingerprint reader that’ll work even if your finger is slightly wet, such as after you wash your hands — which we’re all doing a lot more of these days, right?

The Yoga 9i will also have a new keyboard with “soft-landing dome-design keypads” that promises a more comfortable, bouncier typing experience, which is saying something since the C940’s keyboard was already more comfortable than most. Its updated soundbar hinge will have improved audio, which, like the keyboard, was already pretty great. You can also expect enhancements to everything from screen options to ports (Thunderbolt 4!) to improved cooling to the tip of its included active pen for a better feel when writing on the screen. Most of these features, including the leather cover, carry over to the Lenovo IdeaPad 9i Slim laptop. The IdeaPad also gets a sensor that automatically adjusts its keyboard’s backlight for your room’s lighting conditions as well as a kill switch for its webcam. (The Yoga 9i has a physical privacy shutter for its webcam.) […] The 14-inch Yoga 9i with the metal lid will start at $1,399 or $1,699 for the leather lid. The 15-inch Yoga 9i will start at $1,799. All three are expected in October. The IdeaPad 9i Slim is expected in November starting at $1,599.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Windows 95 Released a Quarter Century Ago

See the original posting on Slashdot

New submitter bondman writes: Windows 95 was released a full quarter century ago today, on August 24th, 1995. Long gone, nearly forgotten? I’m surprised to not have come across a retrospective article yet. I’ve linked to the Wikipedia article. As for me I still haven’t grown to re-like The Rolling Stones “Start Me Up” yet. I got so sick of hearing it with all the pre-launch and post-launch hype, as the song was tied heavily to the Win 95 launch event. Microsoft paid the Stones a princely sum to use it. I still remember how exciting it was to see the full-length, full-screen video included on the installation CD-ROM, “Buddy Holly” by Weezer. Mind-blowing to watch a whole music video on your computer. Crappy resolution by our standards today, and a very limited palette to my memory. But as I said, amazing in the day. Windows 95 had many fans and many critics. At the time, I recall it as an exciting OS (or GUI on top of DOS, if you prefer). PC users were riveted to all the magazine and other media coverage pre-launch. I remember it fondly (with all the obligatory respect due Mac OS, the Amiga, and all the other early GUIs of course).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

‘DiceKeys’ Creates a Master Password For Life With One Roll

See the original posting on Slashdot

Stuart Schechter, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, is launching DiceKeys, a simple kit for physically generating a single super-secure key that can serve as the basis for creating all the most important passwords in your life for years or even decades to come. Wired reports: With little more than a plastic contraption that looks a bit like a Boggle set and an accompanying web app to scan the resulting dice roll, DiceKeys creates a highly random, mathematically unguessable key. You can then use that key to derive master passwords for password managers, as the seed to create a U2F key for two-factor authentication, or even as the secret key for cryptocurrency wallets. Perhaps most importantly, the box of dice is designed to serve as a permanent, offline key to regenerate that master password, crypto key, or U2F token if it gets lost, forgotten, or broken.

Schechter intends for most DiceKeys users to only ever roll their set once. After shaking the keys in a bag, the user dumps them into their plastic box, then snaps the lid closed to permanently lock them into place. The user then scans the dice box with the DiceKeys app — currently a web app hosted at DiceKeys.app — that accesses their laptop, phone, or iPad camera. That app generates a cryptographic key based on the dice, checking the barcode-like symbols on the faces to ensure it interpreted the dice’s characters and orientation correctly. Despite the current version of the DiceKeys app being hosted on the web, Schechter says that it’s designed so that no data ever leaves the user’s device. Thanks to the different numbers and letters on each key face as well as the dices’ orientations, the resulting arrangement has around 196 bits of entropy, Schechter says, meaning there are 296 different possibilities for how the dice could be positioned. Schechter estimates that’s roughly as many possibilities as there are atoms in four or five thousand solar systems.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

AI Can Make Music, Screenplays, and Poetry. What About a Movie?

See the original posting on Slashdot

Want a movie where a protagonist your age, race, sexuality, gender, and religion becomes an Olympic swimmer? You got it. Want a movie where someone demographically identical to your boss gets squeezed to death and devoured by a Burmese python? Your wish is its command. From a report: Want to leave out the specifics and let fate decide what never-before-imagined movie will be entertaining you this evening? Black Box has you covered. After you make your choices — and of course pay a nominal fee for the serious computational heavy lifting necessarily involved — your order is received at Black Box HQ, and an original movie will be on its way shortly.

Black Box converts your specifications into data — or if you didn’t ask for anything specific, a blob of randomly generated numerical noise will do — and the creation process can begin. That first collection of ones and zeros will become a prompt, and will be fed into a type of A.I. called a transformer, which will spit out the text screenplay for your movie through a process a little like the autocomplete function on your smartphone. That screenplay will then be fed into a variation on today’s vector quantized variational autoencoders — neural nets that generate music, basically — producing chopped up little bits of sound that, when strung together, form an audio version of the spoken dialogue and sound effects in your custom movie, plus an orchestral score. Finally, in the most challenging part of the process, those 90 minutes of audio, along with the screenplay, get fed into the world’s most sophisticated GAN, or generative adversarial network. Working scene by scene, the Black Box GAN would generate a cast of live action characters — lifelike humans, or at least human-esque avatars — built from the ground up, along with all of the settings, monsters, car chases, dogs, cats, and little surprises that make it feel like a real movie.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

‘Real’ Programming Is an Elitist Myth

See the original posting on Slashdot

When people build a database to manage reading lists or feed their neighbors, that’s coding — and culture. From an essay: We are past the New York City Covid-19 peak. Things have started to reopen, but our neighborhood is in trouble, and people are hungry. There’s a church that’s opened space for a food pantry, a restaurant owner who has given herself to feeding the neighborhood, and lots of volunteers. […] It’s a complex data model. It involves date fields, text fields, integers, notes. You need lots of people to log in, but you need to protect private data too. You’d think their planning conversations would be about making lots of rice. But that is just a data point. The tool the mutual aid group has settled on to track everything is Airtable, a database-as-a-service program. You log in and there’s your database. There are a host of tools like this now, “low-code” or “no-code” software with names like Zapier or Coda or Appy Pie. At first glance these tools look like flowcharts married to spreadsheets, but they’re powerful ways to build little data-management apps. Airtable in particular keeps showing up everywhere for managing office supplies or scheduling appointments or tracking who at WIRED has their fingers on this column. The more features you use, the more they charge for it, and it can add up quickly. I know because I see the invoices at my company; we use it to track projects.

“Real” coders in my experience have often sneered at this kind of software, even back when it was just FileMaker and Microsoft Access managing the flower shop or tracking the cats at the animal shelter. It’s not hard to see why. These tools are just databases with a form-making interface on top, and with no code in between. It reduces software development, in all its complexity and immense profitability, to a set of simple data types and form elements. You wouldn’t build a banking system in it or a game. It lacks the features of big, grown-up databases like Oracle or IBM’s Db2 or PostgreSQL. And since it is for amateurs, the end result ends up looking amateur. But it sure does work. I’ve noticed that when software lets nonprogrammers do programmer things, it makes the programmers nervous. Suddenly they stop smiling indulgently and start talking about what “real programming” is. This has been the history of the World Wide Web, for example. Go ahead and tweet “HTML is real programming,” and watch programmers show up in your mentions to go, “As if.” Except when you write a web page in HTML, you are creating a data model that will be interpreted by the browser. This is what programming is. Code culture can be solipsistic and exhausting. Programmers fight over semicolon placement and the right way to be object-oriented or functional or whatever else will let them feel in control and smarter and more economically safe, and always I want to shout back: Code isn’t enough on its own. We throw code away when it runs out its clock; we migrate data to new databases, so as not to lose one precious bit. Code is a story we tell about data.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

1 2 3 150