Google Announces the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL Smartphones

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At an event in New York today, Google unveiled Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, its latest flagship smartphones. The Pixel smartphones have over the years set a new benchmark for photography prowess. So you can imagine that a lot is riding on what Google, which has in curtailed several of its hardware ambitions in recent quarters, does with the new Pixel smartphones. From a report: Google makes it a point that the majority of the primary features are the same between the Pixel smartphones, with the primary exception being the display and screen technology. That is the case this year as well, with the Pixel 4 featuring a 5.7-inch Full HD+ P-OLED display, while the Pixel 4 XL boasts a 6.3-inch Quad HD OLED screen. Both panels support a 90Hz refresh rate, though. Inside both handsets is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, and both smartphones boast 6GB of RAM. The handsets come in either 64GB or 128GB of built-in storage options, but there is no microSD card slot for expandable storage. There is a USB-C port for charging, and both handsets feature stereo speakers as well. The battery in the Pixel 4 measures in at 2800mAh, while the Pixel 4 XL has a 3700mAh battery tucked inside.

Meanwhile, around back, the real star of the show: the cameras. That’s right, Google is bumping up the rear camera count to two. It starts with the standard 12-megapixel “Dual Pixel” camera, which is accompanied by a 16-megapixel telephoto lens. The rounded square camera housing also hosts a microphone and a flash. […] And finally, the front-facing camera is equipped with a radar sensor that gives the handsets much more utility than previous models. It starts with true depth detection while using the front-facing camera to unlock the phone with a face unlock biometric feature. Google is also including a new “Motion Sense” technology, letting the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL support gestures for controlling media playback and more. The pricing for Pixel 4 starts at $799, while its bigger sibling begins at $899. Unlike previous Pixel smartphone models, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL won’t offer their users the ability to upload unlimited photos in their original resolution and qualirty to Google Photos at no charge. Both the handsets, though, come bundled with a new voice recorder app that transcribes voice recording in real time for free, Google said.

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You Can Now Overclock a Raspberry Pi 4 For Some Nice Performance Gains

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MojoKid writes: The Raspberry Pi 4 is one of the cheapest single-board computers around. The new 4th generation is a solid performance lift over its predecessor and good bang for the buck if you’re interested in learning Linux, working with embedded computing, or just want to kick back and play some retro games on an emulator. In addition, the latest version of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Linux distribution, Raspbian Buster, comes with a new firmware revision for the tiny DIY PC that removes its 2GHz clock speed limit and allows voltage adjustments to wring out additional performance, with proper cooling of course. In testing, while there are no guarantees in overclocking, HotHardware was able to realize more than a 40% lift in their Raspberry Pi 4’s processor clock speed, and a 50% boost to the GPU with an air-cooled mini case kit. Combined, they’re not enough to turn the Pi 4 into your every day PC, but the performance gains are measurable and valuable. All it takes is a quick firmware update and a couple of Linux commands to dial things in.

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macOS Catalina is Available To Download Today

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It’s happening a little later in the season than usual, but Apple’s latest version of macOS is available to download today. From a report: Catalina arrives on the heels of iOS 13, which saw several back-to-back updates after an initially rough launch. For what it’s worth, I’ve been using successive versions of the Catalina beta as my daily driver for months now and can assure you that the latest build is stable enough to safely install. […] Speaking of games, today also marks the first time that Catalina beta users will have been able to play Apple Arcade games. If you’re wondering how the heck you’ll play those titles from your Mac, it’s worth a reminder that many Arcade games support Xbox and PlayStation controllers.

Also new in this release: As you browse episodes in the podcast app, you’ll see avatars for guests and hosts. Apple also says it’s made some small usability tweaks to Sidecar, the feature that allows you to use an iPad as a secondary Mac display. You’ll also notice more promotional Apple TV+ material in the new TV app, which makes sense — the streaming service launches November 1st. It’ll cost $4.99 a month, but Apple is offering a free year with the purchase of a new Mac, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. Further reading: Apple’s MacOS Catalina Opens Up To iPad Apps; Apple Will Permanently Remove Dashboard In macOS Catalina; Apple Replaces Bash With Zsh as the Default Shell in macOS Catalina; and Apple Finally Kills iTunes.

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Microsoft’s New Surface Earbuds Work With Any Virtual Assistant, Not Just Cortana

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At Microsoft’s annual Surface press event today, the company announced the Surface Earbuds to rival Apple’s AirPods and Amazon’s newly announced Echo Buds. What’s unique about the Surface Earbuds is that, unlike the other two wireless earphones, they can be used with Alexa, Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri, or any other competitor — not just with Cortana. VentureBeat reports: Like the Surface Headphones, the Surface Earbuds don’t do anything until you pair them. Surface Earbuds communicate over Bluetooth 5.0 with an Android, iOS, or Windows 10 device. Once paired, you can tap and hold either of the buds to trigger the default assistant on your device. To use a different virtual assistant with the Surface Earbuds, just change the default assistant on the paired device.

“Out of the box, it just works,” said Surface Earbuds product lead Mohammed Samji. “On PC, it launches Cortana. On iOS, it will launch Siri, unless you’ve changed it. And I think it might vary depending on the distribution of Android, but all the ones I’ve tested, the first time I do it, Android asks me what I want as my default.” Surface Earbuds still offer a better experience with Cortana (although without the “Hey Cortana” wakeword), Samji made sure to emphasize. Surface Earbuds can do everything with Cortana that the Surface Headphones can do, like chit-chat, interact with your email, check your calendar, get your daily update, and create to-dos. Samji said his team created a more streamlined flow for all this Cortana functionality. It’s called Surface Audio. One of the biggest new abilities with the Surface Earbuds is gestures. “Surface Earbuds’ gestures include double tap (go in and out of the call, or play/pause), swipe up and down (control volume), or even swipe forward and back (switch tracks in music, switch slides in PowerPoint),” reports VentureBeat. “Specifically on Android, there’s also a triple tap to launch Spotify under your phone’s lockscreen — you can triple-tap again to have Spotify to choose another song using its ML.”

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Microsoft Unveils Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro X

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At an event today, where Microsoft announced the Surface Laptop 3, Windows 10X, and an Android smartphone, the company also unveiled refreshed editions of its laptop-tablet hybrids: the Surface Pro 7, and the Surface Pro X. About the Surface Pro 7, which features a USB-C port: The price tag has also changed slightly: The Surface Pro 7 starts at $749 ($150 less than its predecessor). It’s available for preorder today and ships on October 22. Microsoft has simply replaced the Mini DisplayPort with USB-C. There is still a USB-A port for all your existing accessories. Adding a USB-C port finally puts the Surface Pro on par with the Surface Book 2 of two years ago and last year’s Surface Go. Surface fans have long asked for USB-C ports and Microsoft has been very slowly delivering. Surface Pro 7 comes with 10th-generation Intel Core processors (upgradeable all the way up to quad-core) and starts at 128GB of SSD storage (upgradable to 1TB). Like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 7 still comes with 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB of RAM. Otherwise, the design is largely unchanged. The Surface Pro 7 still has a 12.3-inch display, 2736 x1824 resolution, and 267ppi. The Surface Pro 6 was available in black and silver, and so is the Surface Pro 7. About the Surface Pro X: Seattle tech giant unveiled the Surface Pro X, the spiritual successor to the Surface, the Surface 2, the Surface 3, and the Surface Go. It’s ultra-slim and lightweight, with a bezel-to-bezel 13-inch display and an adjustable kickstand. And it’s the first machine to ship with a custom-designed, ARM-based Microsoft SQ1 system-on-chip co-engineered with Qualcomm. The Surface Pro X will be available on November 5, starting at $999, and Microsoft will begin taking preorders today.

On the display front, you’re looking at a PixelSense panel with 2880 x 1920 resolution with a 267-pixel-per-inch screen density and a 1400:1 contrast ratio. Microsoft says it has the thinnest bezels of any 2-in-1. Under the hood, the Surface Pro X sports the aforementioned 7-nanometer SQ1, which Microsoft says delivers more performance per watt than the chip in the Surface Pro 6. It’s an octa-core processor Qualcomm-designed Kryo cores clocked at 3GHz and running at 7 watts maximum, sitting alongside a redesigned GPU and integrated AI accelerator. Altogether, it delivers 9 teraflops of computational power, with the graphics chip alone pushing 2.1 teraflops.

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Purism’s Librem 5 Phone Starts Shipping. It Can Run Linux Desktop Apps

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On Tuesday Purism announced their first Librem 5 smartphones were rolling off the assembly line and heading to customers. “Seeing the amazing effort of the Purism team, and holding the first fully functioning Librem 5, has been the most inspirational moment of Purism’s five year history,” said their founder and CEO Todd Weaver.

On Wednesday they posted a video announcing that the phones were now shipping, and Friday they posted a short walk-through video. “The crowdsourced $700 Linux phone is actually becoming a real product,” reports Ars Technica:

Purism’s demand that everything be open means most of the major component manufacturers were out of the question. Perhaps because of the limited hardware options, the internal construction of the Librem 5 is absolutely wild. While smartphones today are mostly a single mainboard with every component integrated into it, the Librem 5 actually has a pair of M.2 slots that house full-size, off-the-shelf LTE and Wi-Fi cards for connectivity, just like what you would find in an old laptop. The M.2 sockets look massive on top of the tiny phone motherboard, but you could probably replace or upgrade the cards if you wanted…
[Y]ou’re not going to get cutting-edge hardware at a great price with the Librem 5. That’s not the point, though. The point is that you are buying a Linux phone, with privacy and open source at the forefront of the design. There are hardware kill switches for the camera, microphone, WiFi/Bluetooth, and baseband on the side of the phone, ensuring none of the I/O turns on unless you want it to. The OS is the Free Software Foundation-endorsed PureOS, a Linux distribution that, in this case, has been reworked with a mobile UI. Purism says it will provide updates for the “lifetime” of the device, which would be a stark contrast to the two years of updates you get with an Android phone.
PureOS is a Debian-based Linux distro, and on the Librem 5, you’ll get to switch between mobile versions of the Gnome and KDE environments. If you’re at all interested in PureOS, Purism’s YouTube page is worth picking through. Dozens of short videos show that, yes, this phone really runs full desktop-class Linux. Those same videos show the dev kit running things like the APT package manager through a terminal, a desktop version of Solitaire, Emacs, the Gnome disk utility, DOSBox, Apache Web Server, and more. If it runs on your desktop Linux computer, it will probably run on the Librem 5, albeit with a possibly not-touch-friendly UI. The Librem 5 can even be hooked up to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and you can run all these Linux apps with the normal input tools…
Selling a smartphone is a cutthroat business, and we’ve seen dozens of companies try and fail over the years. Purism didn’t just survive long enough to ship a product — it survived in what is probably the hardest way possible, by building a non-Android phone with demands that all the hardware components use open code. Making it this far is an amazing accomplishment.

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OnePlus 7T Brings Snapdragon 855+, More Cameras For $599

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The new OnePlus 7T was officially announced earlier today, bringing a speedier Snapdragon 855+ processor, 90Hz display, and more camera sensors for $599 — nearly $100 less than the base model OnePlus 7 Pro. From a report: There are more upgrades found in the OnePlus 7T’s display. The OP7T’s 6.55-inch 2400×1080 AMOLED screen includes a 90Hz refresh rate, helping to make the screen feel smoother, and OnePlus has also upgraded the in-display fingerprint sensor on its new device. OnePlus claims that the OP7T has the “fastest, smoothest fingerprint unlock anywhere.” Another major upgrade of the OnePlus 7T is on its backside. OnePlus has given the 7T a triple rear camera setup, up from the dual cameras found on the OnePlus 7. The triple rear cam system on the OnePlus 7T includes a 48MP main sensor with f/1.6 aperture and OIS, a 16MP ultra-wide camera with a 117-degree field of view, and a 12MP telephoto camera with a 2x optical zoom.

OnePlus has included ultra-wide Nightscape support for low-light shooting and Super Stable Video to better stabilize your video captures, and 4K video capture at 60fps. Slow-mo video recording is available at 1080p at 240fps or 720p at 480fps, and soon OnePlus will be slowing things down even more, adding 720p video recording at 960fps through a future software update. Around front there’s a 16MP selfie camera in a waterdrop notch that OnePlus says is smaller than the notch found on last year’s OnePlus 6T. OnePlus has packed the OP7T with 128GB of built-in UFS 3.0 storage, 8GB of RAM, USB-C, stereo speakers, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and Android 10 running out of the box. The OnePlus 7T launches on October 18 at a price of $599. The device will be sold exclusively by T-Mobile, though Verizon and AT&T users can buy an unlocked version from OnePlus’ website.

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How the Microsoft Store Urges Customers To Trade In Their iPhones

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“Have you ever wondered how — or even why — Microsoft is offering $650 to switch from iPhone to Samsung’s latest phones?” asks tech columnist Chris Matyszczyk.

“A Microsoft store salesman enlightened me. It was spiritual, as much as factual.”

“This is a Microsoft store,” I said. “Why are you pushing these?”

“Because three weeks ago, you couldn’t do what you can do now,” he said.

This was quite some drama. I hadn’t heard that my life had changed just 21 days prior, but Oscar was ready to explain. “Now you can have a terabyte, which means this phone improves your mobility and can now replace your laptop. You can now run your business straight from this phone,” he said… With a fervent — and, I have to say, elegant — enthusiasm, he talked me through my new possibilities. The ability to have everything from Outlook to Word to Excel to One Drive existing simultaneously on every gadget was, apparently, my new Nirvana. He took me over to a desktop and showed me how to dock my new Samsung phone and work simultaneously on the phone and the desktop.

He then led me to the Surface Pro 6. “This is the one I’ve got. And, look, you don’t need a keyboard,” he said, as he brought up the on-screen keyboard that really isn’t very easy to type on. Oscar’s congenital positivity was so alluring that I had to insert a pause and ask him what phone he had. He pulled out the same iPhone XR as mine, but sadly in a case. “I’ve been with Apple for a long time,” he explained. “But I just need to pay my iPhone down a bit more and I’m going to switch to this Note…”

“Switching from iPhone to Samsung isn’t easy, is it?” I muttered.

“It’s all in your mind,” he replied. “You need to have a growth mindset. That’s what leaving your iPhone behind represents. Growth.” I had to laugh. Not out of insult, but out of sheer admiration for his TED Talk attempt to inspire. He was appealing to my spirit, not my rational mind. He was right, of course. I have a growth bodyset, not a growth mindset….

[A]s I walked out many minutes later, I remembered there was a new iPhone coming out. Three new iPhones. Would any of them represent personal growth?

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ASUS ROG Phone II Proves To Be the Fastest Android Phone On the Market Currently

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MojoKid writes: Gamer-targeted smartphones are beginning to pop up more often now, with devices like the Razer Phone 2, Xiaomi Black Shark, and the ASUS ROG Phone making waves in the market with performance enthusiasts. The latest release from ASUS, the ROG Phone II sports a specially binned chip from Qualcomm called the Snapdragon 855+. The higher performance SoC sports an octa-core CPU clocked at 2.96GHz, paired with an overclocked Adreno 640 GPU that can boost its performance up to 15 percent above spec. A generous 12GB of RAM, 1TB of storage and a 120Hz 6.59 FHD display trim out the rest of the ASUS ROG Phone II’s specs. In addition, an enhanced on-board cooling system features a 3D vapor chamber, heat spreaders, and cooling pads that efficiently dissipate heat from inside the phone to the outside. It is designed to be above spec for the Snapdragon 855 chipset and necessary to keep 855+ stable during long gaming sessions. In benchmark testing, there’s no question these system upgrades put up significantly better numbers than the average high-end Android phone on the market these days, such that the phone is about 10% faster than devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 or the OnePlus 7 Pro. The ASUS ROG Phone II will be available later this month but pricing is still being determined.

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Apple Unveils Its 7th-Gen iPad With a 10.2-Inch Display

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In addition to launching new iPhones today, Apple unexpectedly announced a new 7th-generation iPad, featuring a larger display and support for Apple’s forthcoming iPadOS update. Ars Technica reports: This new model comes with a 10.2-inch 2160×1620 “Retina” display, up from the older model’s 9.7-inch panel, and an A10 Fusion chip. The latter is the same chip used for the existing 6th-gen iPad, and that chip was first introduced with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus — so don’t expect a significant performance upgrade. Still, it should provide enough power for the entertainment, Web browsing, and casual work needs this iPad is primarily aimed at. The design is otherwise very similar to before — thicker bezels, home button, roughly one-pound weight, and all — and Apple still claims the tablet will get up to 10 hours of battery life. The device still comes with either 32GB or 128GB of storage.

Naturally, the new iPad will come with Apple’s forthcoming iPadOS update, which will give the device a more robust multitasking system. It’ll be able to connect to thumb drives and SD cards, too, and it’ll work with Apple’s Smart Keyboard attachment and the first-gen model of the Apple Pencil stylus. Apple did not switch to a USB-C port here as it’s done with its higher-end iPad Pros, though that’s not surprising with a cheaper tablet like this. The device will retain the $329 starting price of the previous 9.7-inch iPad and will begin shipping on September 30, with pre-orders available on Tuesday. Education customers will be able to get it at a slight discount of $299.

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Apple Watch Series 5 Has An Always-On Display, Comes In Titanium or Ceramic Finishes

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Before launching the new iPhones today, Apple announced the next-gen Apple Watch Series 5, featuring an always-on display, compass, emergency calling for international countries, and recycled aluminum or titanium finishes. It starts at $399 for the GPS model and $499 for the cellular connected version. The Verge reports: Apple says the Series 5 watch maintains the prior model’s 18-hour battery life, even with the new always-on screen, thanks to a new low-temperature polysilicone and oxide display and low-power display driver. Watchfaces and workouts have been redesigned to take advantage of the new display option. The screen will be in a low-brightness mode until you move your wrist, where it will switch to full brightness in a similar fashion to how the current model turns on when your wrist is moved. In addition to the new always-on display feature, the Apple Watch Series 5 is now available in a recycled aluminum or titanium finishes. The stainless steel and ceramic options from prior models are also available. Apple says this is the widest number of finishes ever for the Apple Watch. You can order one starting today and they will be in stores starting on September 20th.

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Apple Launches iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max

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Apple today unveiled the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, its new smartphone lineup. While the 11 is the cheaper alternative following the iPhone XR — there are a few design changes, like a “surgical-grade stainless steel” case and matte finish, but the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are more focused on cramming in as much power as possible. About the iPhone 11: Like last year’s model, the iPhone 11 includes a 6.1-inch display, and the design is almost identical to last year, too, with the notch at the front for the Face ID camera. Apple is adding new color options, with purple, white, green, yellow, black, and red all available. Apple’s biggest design changes are in the camera at the rear of the device. Last year’s iPhone XR had a single 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, but the iPhone 11 now includes a dual-camera system with an additional 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera that supports 2x optical zoom. There’s even a new immersive camera interface that lets you see outside the frame, so you can see the details of the photos you’re taking with the ultra-wide camera. […] Inside the iPhone 11 is Apple’s latest A13 Bionic processor, and naturally it’s the “fastest CPU in a smartphone” and also the “fastest GPU in a smartphone.” Apple demonstrated the performance on stage with a game called Pascal’s Wager, which is launching on the App Store next month with some pretty impressive looking mobile graphics. Other than the gaming demo, Apple didn’t reveal any additional performance improvements with the A13. It starts at $699.

The 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro and 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max: Despite the number change, the two phones look pretty similar to last year’s iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, but with one major change: a third rear camera. Apple’s also upgraded the display to a new OLED panel, which goes up to an even brighter 1,200 nits, a 2 million to 1 contrast ratio, and is 15 percent more energy efficient. Apple calls it a Super Retina XDR display (similar branding to the Pro Display XDR that the company announced earlier this year). Apple also claims that the glass here is the “toughest glass in a smartphone.” Just like the standard iPhone 11, the new iPhone 11 Pro models will feature Apple’s A13 Bionic chip which Apple says has both the fastest CPU and GPU ever in a smartphone. Apple also touted improved machine learning performance (“the best machine learning platform in a smartphone,” it says).

Apple says that with all the improvements to efficiency, the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro should get up to four hours better battery life than last year’s XS, and the larger iPhone 11 Pro Max will get up to five hours better battery than the XS Max. The new camera system is one of the standout upgrades (quite literally, as it dominates the back of the phone in a gigantic square camera module). The new lens is a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens with a 120-degree field of view, joining the wide-angle and telephoto cameras Apple has offered in the past. The telephoto camera also is getting an upgrade with a larger Æ’/2.0 aperture, which Apple says will capture up to 40 percent more light compared to the XS camera. And like the iPhone 11, the front-facing camera is now a 12 megapixel sensor, and can shoot both 4K and slow-motion videos. The iPhone 11 Pro will start at $999, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max will start at $1199.

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Ask Slashdot: How Can You Limit the Charging Range of Your Batteries?

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“If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a slew of devices with lithium-based batteries in them,” write long-time Slashdot reader weilawei:

The conventional wisdom is to cycle them between 20 and 80% for a good compromise between usability and battery life. How then, do you automate the process to avoid over- or undercharging…? Do you remove and store your laptop battery at a medium charge when you run the laptop off an AC adapter?

You can keep checking your battery icon until it hits 80% — but it seems like there should be an automated solution. The original submission notes TLP Linux Advance Power Management project — but what solutions are Slashdot’s readers using? Leave your best thoughts in the comments.

How can you limit the charging range of your batteries?

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Sony Releases a Walkman For Its 40th Anniversary

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The Sony Walkman is back. The electronics maker will release a new version of its revolutionary portable music player, it announced Friday at IFA 2019, a leading annual consumer electronics trade show in Berlin. From a report: First released in 1979, the Sony TPS-L2 Walkman was the first truly portable personal cassette player and changed the way we listen to music. Sony has since released various iterations of its Walkman, but it’s gone the extra mile with this special 40th anniversary edition. The Sony NW-A100TPS Walkman has a 40th anniversary logo printed on the back, and it comes with a specially designed case and package that pay homage to the original TPS-L2 Walkman. It also has a unique cassette tape interface for those who want to take a trip down memory lane. It runs Android and offers battery life of up to 26 hours. It is built for the future, with a USB-C port for connections. Its cost and release date haven’t officially been announced.

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How Samsung Fixed the Galaxy Fold

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Samsung’s $2,000 foldable smartphone was scheduled to launch earlier this year, but was delayed after several major U.S. tech journalists experienced device-breaking display failures with their review units. This caused Samsung to push back the launch date and go back to the drawing board to try and fix these issues.

At IFA in Berlin this week, Samsung brought an updated version of the Galaxy Fold that supposedly fixes many of the issues that plagued the original model. The Verge reports: You need to look closely at the updated Galaxy Fold to spot what’s new, but there are some key changes in a variety of areas. The biggest update is that Samsung has now extended the protective film to under the bezels of the device so you can no longer peel it off. I tried to peel it off multiple times and failed, as it’s beyond the bezel and impossible to get your fingernails close to. We’ll need to test this fully, but I’m confident that Samsung has addressed this particular problem.

Most of the other changes are related to the hinge. It feels a little sturdier than before, and the gaps where the hinge meets the display have been trimmed down. Even the gap when the device is closed has been shrunk slightly, which should add up to less debris getting close to the hinge or displays. Visually, the other big change is that the display now has plastic protection caps at the bottom and top that further block debris from getting underneath it. These are noticeable when you unfold the device, but they should hopefully help stop dirt from getting in the hinge and causing issues. I didn’t have enough time to throw a bunch of dirt and dust at the device, so it’s hard to say whether Samsung has fixed this particular issue, but it’s clear that a lot of work has been done here. Furthermore, Samsung has also “added layers of metal underneath the display to make it feel sturdier, particularly when you touch and interact with the display,” reports The Verge. “This is less noticeable by itself, but when you combine it with the hinge changes, it certainly comes off like a more polished device overall.”

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‘Why the Amazon Basics Keyboard Is My Favorite Keyboard’

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Full stack developer and teacher, Nick Janetakis, says the Amazon Basics keyboard is one of his favorite general purpose/programming keyboards. “It hits all the major points that make a keyboard good and it also happens to be only $14,” he writes. From his blog post: Quiet as Possible: I have one freelance client (ahem Ryan!) who has really loud mechanical key switches. Every time we hop on a screen sharing session that involves typing I can’t tell if he’s lighting off fireworks in his office or writing code. […] I tried a bunch of keyboards and [the Amazon Basics keyboard] is really very quiet while having tactile feeling keys. (You can listen to this YouTube video to hear what the keyboard sounds like.)

Tactile Feeling Keys: The Amazon Basics keyboard fits in between with mid-height keys. They have a decent amount of resistance to them so you can definitely feel each key press, but it’s not so much that it hurts your forearms after long hours of coding.

Easy to Clean / Avoids Stuck Keys: After a quick wipe down it looks pretty much as good as new — even years later. The mid-height keys are excellent for avoiding dirt and stuck keys because it’s almost impossible to get anything stuck under a key. Only dust particles get caught under there.

Scratch Resistant Key Cap Labels: After ~5 years of extensive use and abuse only 3 keys had minor chips in their label. I lost the upper part of the L’s label, a third of the O’s label and half of the ,’s label. Not too bad IMO. I’ve seen a lot worse with less usage. The labels look like very tightly pressed stickers that are flat to the touch. They almost look like maybe they were heat sealed onto the surface of the key. It’s hard to say. Even if I take my nail and try to scrape off a label, it doesn’t budge.

Useful Media / Extra Keys: Speaking of keys, it’s a nice perk to have a keyboard that has extra keys that you can configure without bloating the size of the keyboard. Amazon has done a fantastic job here at maximizing the usable space of their keyboard. That’s 9 distinct keys or 13 if you count the media combo keys. That’s really useful. You can always remap any of them to other actions if you prefer. It’s a dream come true if you plan to use something like i3wm on Linux which is heavily keyboard shortcut driven.
Compact Size but Sticks To Standards For Key Placement: Everything is where you expect it with this Amazon Basics keyboard and you get the full size backspace / backslash keys.

Caps Lock / Num Lock / Scroll Lock Have Lights on Their Key Switch: With this keyboard, each lock key has its own light which I animated below.

Robust Wire / USB Cable: I have to say the Amazon Basics keyboard is solid in this area. Even on my old keyboard from years ago, the wire has zero signs of wear and tear.

Solid Rubber Feet to Avoid Slipping: There’s 4 pretty large rubber grips on the edges of each corner so there’s really no reasonable chance of it ever slipping from pressure or normal usage.

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Apple Patents Watch Band That Could ID You From Your Wrist Skin

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PatentlyApple has spotted several patents that suggest Apple is playing with the idea of making the Apple Watch’s band identify users via their wrist’s skin texture and arm hair. TechCrunch reports: The first patent describes a sensor built into the Watch or the watch’s band that could use infrared to build a thermal image of your wrist and its identifying traits (like skin texture/arm hair) to identify who is wearing it — sort of like a fingerprint, but from your wrist. Unlike most of Apple’s other devices, the Apple Watch doesn’t currently have any sort of built-in biometrics for unlocking — there’s no thumbprint sensor for Touch ID, or camera for Face ID. Unlocking your Apple Watch means poking at the screen to punch in a PIN (or, if you’ve configured it to unlock when you unlock your phone, doing that). A sensor setup like this could make the unlocking process automatic without the need to unlock your phone.

The second granted patent describes a Watch band that can adjust itself on the fly — think Nike’s self-tightening shoes, but on your wrist. If the Watch detects that it’s sliding while you’re running (or if the aforementioned thermal sensors need a closer look at your wrist skin) tensioners in the device could tighten or loosen the band on command. Finally, a third granted patent tinkers with the idea of a Watch band with built-in light-up indicators — like, say, a notification light for incoming texts, or a meter that fills up to tell you at-a-glance how much distance you’ve got left on your run, or a stripe that glows yellow when you’ve got something on your calendar in the next hour. All of this can already be done on the Watch’s screen, of course — this would just allow for it without having to power up the entire display.

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‘The 2018 MacBook Pro Keyboard Drives Me Crazy’

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Ryan Bigg: I recently upgraded from a 2015 MacBook Pro to a 2018 MacBook Pro. So I’ve been using this computer as a work computer for almost 3 months now and, my god, the keyboard drives me mental. Even writing this blog post now on the train and there’s: duplicated “o’s” that I’ve had to go back and fix, or missing ones — guess how fun it is to write a book about a Toy Robot with this particular problem
double spaces — or no spaces
a Command key that registers 9 out of every 10 times
words like “times” that inexplicably get spelled like “timies”, or “about” that gets spelled like “abouot”

Apple is all about the thinness of their laptops. I do not particularly care about the thinness of this device. For the most part, it sits on one of two desks that I use or it sits on my lap on the train. Maybe I use it on the couch from time-to-time. I do not care about the thinness of this device while I am using it. I only care about it when I store it away, in my backpack. This keyboard has a key travel distance that, I am sure, is measured in microns or perhaps nanometers. It feels like I am typing on a concrete slab. Key presses inexplicably duplicate. Or don’t register at all. All for thinness. This keyboard is a catastrophic engineering failure, designed by a company that should know better. A company with more money in the bank than several countries combined. This keyboard would be, by far, the part of the MacBook Pro that is used the most by everybody who owns one, and it is so poorly engineered for the pursuit of thinness. The author is a junior engineering program lead at Culture Amp, an analytics platform that specializes in staff surveying and analytics.

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Greg Kroah-Hartman Reveals His New Favorite Linux Distro

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Top Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman gave a new 30-minute interview with TFIR during the Open Source Summit, 2019. He discusses security in the post-Spectre world, remembers when Microsoft joined the Linux distros mailing list, and acknowledges good-naturedly that he and Richard Stallman “approach things from a different standpoint”.

An anonymous reader writes:

In the interview Kroah-Hartman talks about downsides of living in the Hague. “My son’s school actually mandates that they all have MacBooks. So he has a MacBook, my wife has a MacBook, and that’s about it.” But of course, Kroah-Hartman himself is always using Linux.

So what distro does he use? “I don’t use openSUSE any more, I use Arch. And my build system I think is actually running Fedora. I have a number of virtual machines still running Gentoo, Dubya, and Fedora to do some testing on some userspace tools. But yeah, all my laptops and everything is switched over to Arch these days… I have a Chromebook that I play around with, and you can run Linux applications, and you can of course SSH into anything…”
Why Arch? “At the moment it had something that I needed. I don’t remember what it was, the latest development version, what not — and I’ve known a number of the Arch developers over the years. Their idea of a constantly rolling, forward-moving system is the way to go… It’s neutral, it’s community-based, it has everything I need. It works really really well. I’ve actually converted my cloud instances that I have all to Arch… It’s nice.” And in addition, “Their Wiki is amazing. The documentation — it’s like one of the best resources out there these days… If you look up any userspace program and how to configure it and use it. Actually, the systemd Arch Wiki pages are one of the most amazing resources out there…

“One of the main policies of Arch, or philosophies, is you stay as close to the upstream as possible. And as a developer, I want that… They’re really good in feedback to the community. Because I want that testing — I want to make sure that things are fixed. And if it is broken, I learn about it quickly and I fix it and push the stuff out. So that’s actually a really good feedback loop. And that’s some of the reasons I need it.”

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‘Why PHP Still Beats Your Next Favourite Alternative’

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Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino writes: On PHPday in Verona (Italy) Rasmus Lerdorf, creator of PHP, gave an enlightening talk on PHP and its history. 25 years of PHP (video of the talk) is ripe with details on PHP, the design choices behind the web’s favorite server-side templating language and with explanations on why what you may think of as an inconsistent mess actually makes perfect sense just the way it is. Very insightful, fun, interesting and a must-watch for PHP lovers and haters alike.

Introducing one slide, Lerdorf remembers that in the 1990s, “the web looked like this — CGI bins written in C.”

But he also shows his first computers from the 1980s at the beginning of the talk, before moving on to screenshots of Gopher, and then of the Mosaic browser. “This changed everything. And not just for me, for everybody…

“Everybody around at the time, playing with this stuff, and having had UUCP addresses and playing with Usenet and bulletin boards — it was very easy to see that this was going to change the world.”

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