April 27, 2017 brianradio2016

Recently, a co-worker said AI was so extreme that if put in charge of human happiness, it would strap us to a chair on a heroin drip à la “The Matrix.”

He’s watched too many movies. Mostly, AI simply finds “which of these things is not like the other” in a large set—or handles the opposite task of grouping similar objects. It’s not something to be afraid of anytime soon, really. But his fantasy made me wonder what other things people think is or isn’t coming in the next five years or so.

What you’ll see in five years

Searching videos for dialog: This is already available to some degree. Within the next five years, however, it will be commoditized to the point that you’ll be able to find YouTube clips of your favorite movie taglines even if no one added them to the title or description. The main advances are in signal processing and encoding, as well as speech recognition. But it’s close because we’ve been working on it for more than 40 years.

The near ubiquity of Amazon Now: Basically, even if you live in or near a small city like mine (Durham, North Carolina, population 250,000) you’ll soon be able to try on major-brand clothes and get produce delivered within four hours. But it almost definitely won’t be by drone. It will be by poorly paid workers in the gig economy.

April 26, 2017 brianradio2016

Google servers inside Cuba are now live on the internet, marking a major milestone in the country’s communications evolution and promising faster access to Google’s services for Cuban users.

The computers are part of Google’s global network of caching servers, which store frequently requested content locally so it doesn’t have to be accessed over long distances.

That speeds up access in any country but is particularly important in a nation like Cuba, which has relatively low connectivity to the rest of the world.

Cuba is connected to the rest of the internet almost exclusively via the ALBA-1 submarine cable, which runs from the island to Venezuela, said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Dyn Research. Dyn was first to spot the emergence of the Google caching servers on the internet.

April 26, 2017 brianradio2016

Facebook must obtain the permission of German users of WhatsApp before processing their personal data, a German court confirmed on Tuesday.

Last August, Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp changed its privacy policy to allow the transfer of its users’ personal information to Facebook for processing. That angered the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, which in September ordered the companies to stop the transfer until they had obtained users’ consent, and to delete any data they had already transferred.

Facebook challenged the order in Hamburg’s administrative court, and on Tuesday the court handed down its ruling.

The court upheld the Commissioner’s requirement to obtain consent, but threw out the order to delete the data on procedural grounds.

April 26, 2017 brianradio2016

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will vote on May 18 to kick off a proceeding to “reverse the mistake” of the agency’s 2-year-old net neutrality rules, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

The rulemaking proceeding would be the first step toward repealing the regulations and reversing the agency’s 2015 decision to classify broadband as a regulated, telecom-like service.

Pai didn’t provide a lot of detail about his proposal during a speech Wednesday, but during the rulemaking, the FCC will seek public comment on how best to move forward with new net neutrality rules or guidelines, he said. The FCC is scheduled to release the text of Pai’s proposal on Thursday.

The FCC’s tough net neutrality rules, which departed from two decades of light regulations, addressed a problem that didn’t exist because ISPs weren’t blocking web content and services before the FCC passed the rules, Pai said.

April 26, 2017 brianradio2016


(Image: Chuwi)

The Chuwi Hi13 is a beast of a tablet. It has a 13.5-inch Surface Book screen with up to 3000×2000-pixel resolution in 3:2 aspect ratio. It looks lovely.

More Windows 10

It is a sleek, all-metal body with CNC and dimensions of 334mm by 222mm. It is large enough to be a fully-featured laptop — if fitted with the optional keyboard, yet the tablet shouts high-quality mobile device.

The tablet itself is about 8.8mm thick (or 16.5mm when the keyboard is attached). It weighs 1080g, which does seem heavy compared to other tablets.

The Chuwi Hi10 Plus only weighs 686g without the keyboard, and the Hi12 weighs 850g.

The keyboard can be attached with the keys facing the screen like a normal laptop.

It can also be attached with the keys facing the back of the tablet, which means you can use the keyboard as a horizontal stand for the tablet or vertically like a tent.

Top ZDNET Reviews

Under the hood of the device there is an Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3450 quad core processor up to 2.2GHz burst frequency and 14nm process technology squeezed into the form factor.

I expected great performance here with no lag or memory issues. The N3450 processor is also fitted to the Chuwi Lapbook 14.1 and newly released 12.3.

With 4GB DDR3L memory and 64GB eMMC storage, Windows 10 Home should fly. There is also support for an additional TF card of up to 64GB.

The tablet has a 10,000mAh battery that delivers up to eight hours of usage. I found that processor intensive usage reduced this to around five hours, more than other laptops I have tried.

It has a micro USB slot, a micro HDMI slot, a docking port, and 35mm headphone jack down one edge.

The Hi13 has a 2MP front facing camera and a 5MP rear camera. The front-facing camera takes much better pictures than other tablets I have tried, and the auto adjustment lens takes great selfies.

I like typing on a ‘proper’ keyboard, and always use the hardware keyboards when they are available. The additional keyboard for the Chuwi has a better look and feel than the keyboard on my office laptop.

I love the positive click of the keys, and the keyboard more than keeps up with the speed of my typing. A stylus is an optional extra for this tablet. I tend to use the stylus when in keyboard mode instead of my fingers, trackpad, or external mouse.

The stylus for the Hi13 looks almost identical to the stylus for the Surface Pro. The Surface Pro stylus is magnetised, and the HiPen H3 has a switch near the tip. In all other respects, they are the same.

Chuwi Hi 13 review The tablet that thinks its a laptop ZDNet

Chuwi Hi 13 review The tablet that thinks its a laptop ZDNet

The optional stylus works really well with the Hi13. (Image: Chuwi)

The HiPen H3 stylus has a battery instead of a micro USB charger. Although there is a tiny pin hole, I cannot see a light, so I have no idea if the stylus is switched on or off.

There is a switch on the body of the pen that does not seem to do anything. However, every time I touch the stylus to the screen, it works.

One niggle I had is that the tablet was built with Windows 10 languages in Chinese and US English. Non-Unicode characters such as the date on the login screen were displayed in Chinese.

The Vietnamese language was also installed by default. In order to use Cortana with UK English, I had to download the extra language pack and configure speech settings.

The tablet also felt a little ‘clunky’ changing apps and generally navigating round the OS. I had expected a more sleek performance from the device. I went into settings and reset the device, removing all information and letting the tablet reinstall.

This took about three hours, but my goodness, it was so worth it. The rebuilt OS, free from any OEM add-ons, delivers magnificent performance.

I love the way that the interface switches between stylus and touch. If I touch the keyboard icon on the taskbar with the stylus, the handwriting UI appears instantly.

Its handwriting recognition is excellent. It recognised almost all words in my cursive scrawl. If I touch the keyboard icon with either my finger or the mouse, the soft keyboard appears so that I can type directly on the tablet. Its seamless and very fast.

For an extra $50, I would definitely buy the keyboard for the tablet, and I would also spend another $20 on the Chuwi HiPen H3.

All in all, the Hi13 is something I would use to replace my aging Lenovo laptop. It is lighter than my laptop, sleeker, and looks a heck of a lot more stylish.

Chuwi will release its 6GB RAM Lapbook 12.3 at the end of the month. At the moment, I would prefer the larger screen and lighter weight of the Hi13 (the Lapbook weighs 1442g).

But it would be really hard to choose between them.

Can’t bring your laptop on a flight? Here’s how to stay productive

April 26, 2017 brianradio2016

A market for enterprise-use smartwatches is slowly emerging, being led by the Apple Watch, according to market research firm IDC.

“Apple Watch in particular, and to some extent other smartwatches, do have relevance in the enterprise, although to date the usage has been quite low as the market is still nascent,” IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in an email.

The first Apple Watch was released with much fanfare just over two years ago this week — on April 24, 2015.

April 26, 2017 brianradio2016

Microsoft yesterday added another update cycle to Windows 10’s monthly patching, saying that the new collection of non-security-only fixes would give corporate customers the “increased flexibility” they had demanded.

On Monday, Michael Niehaus, director of Windows 10 product marketing, announced the new monthly update, saying that the company would initially issue it only to customers running 1703, the upgrade also known as Creators Update, which launched earlier this month.

“We will routinely offer one (or sometimes more than one) additional update each month,” Niehaus wrote in a post to a company blog. “These additional cumulative updates will contain only new non-security updates” [emphasis added].

Microsoft issued the first such update Tuesday.

April 26, 2017 brianradio2016

MapD, the SQL database and analytics platform that uses GPU acceleration for performance orders of magnitude ahead of CPU-based solutions, has been updated to version 3.0.

The update provides a mix of high-end and mundane additions. The high-end goodies consist of deep architectural changes that enable even greater performance gains in clustered environments. But the mundane items are no less important, as they’re aimed at making life easier for enterprise database developers—those most likely to use MapD.

Previous versions of MapD (not to be confused with Hadoop/Spark vendor MapR) were able to scale vertically but not horizontally. Users could add more GPUs to a box, but they couldn’t scale MapD across multiple GPU-equipped servers. An online demo shows version 3 allowing users to explore in real time an 11-billion-row database of ship movements across the continental United States using MapD’s web-based graphical dashboard app.


A live demo of MapD 3.0 running on multiple nodes. An 11-billion-row database of ship movements throughout the continental United States can be explored and manipulated in real time, with both the graphical explorer and standard SQL commands.

Version 3 adds a native shared-nothing distributed architecture to the database—a natural extension of the existing shared-nothing architecture MapD used to split processing across GPUs. Data is automatically sharded in round-robin fashion between physical nodes. MapD founder Todd Mostak noted in a phone call that it ought to be possible in the future to manually adjust sharding based on a given database key.

April 26, 2017 brianradio2016

Who are you? How much of what makes you “you” is defined by memory? How would you change if you had perfect recall? How might artificial intelligence change the way you relate with yourself, and with the world around you?

Siri’s little secret

Siri co-creator, Apple’s Tom Gruber set a few of these questions and made a few A.I. predictions when he spoke during the Our Robotic Overlords segment at a TED Conference.

We already know that Apple’s vision for A.I. isn’t about machine intelligence for the sake of it, but to augment what we do. We also know it has been using machine intelligence since before it became a popular topic to write about.

Gruber explained Apple’s vision as being one in which access to A.I. means humans become superhuman, boosted by superintelligence and enhanced by technological capacity. We can be more with the help of the machines than we can be alone.