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Friday, April 06, 2018

Huawei P20 Pro review: a worthy iPhone X and Galaxy S9 rival - The Verge
















"I’ve spent every waking moment of the past 10 days in the company of the Huawei P20 Pro. This phone has surprised and delighted me like few others, and what you are about to read is a collection of happy words about it. I don’t think the P20 Pro is perfect, nor the best phone ever released, but I do believe it’s one of the most important devices we’ve seen in the mobile world for years.
In spite of its massive networking and telecommunications business, and the millions of phones it sells in its native China, Huawei has remained an underdog in other smartphone markets. The P20 Pro changes that. This phone is as powerful, refined, fast, stylish, and desirable as anything we’ve seen from Samsung, LG, and HTC at their best. At a time when US spy agencies are warning Americans off Huawei phones due to (so far unsubstantiated) espionage fears, Huawei is responding in the best possible way: by making amazing phones.
Huawei is releasing the P20 Pro today for a price of €899 in Europe with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. That places it in direct confrontation with Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Apple’s iPhone X. And the remarkable thing is how well Huawei’s phone competes in that rarified class of super flagships.

The P20 Pro is a typical Chinese phone in that it has an overwhelmingly rich spec sheet and an eye-catching design. But it’s different in how effectively it capitalizes on its high specs and in how subtly beautiful it is. Instead of one color, Huawei has given this phone an iridescent gradient paint job that exudes sophistication. The combination of beauty and brawn here is topped off with IP67 certification for water and dust resistance. Every phone company wants to imbue its devices with a premium feel, but few succeed as well as Huawei has done with the P20 Pro.
It starts as soon as you take the phone out of the box, with its perfectly contoured sides resting softly in the palm of your hand. For a phone with glass on both the front and back, the P20 Pro feels surprisingly rigid and durable. With a huge 4,000mAh battery inside, it also conveys a satisfying sense of density that only Apple’s iPhone X can match. There’s a litany of subtle design details and pleasing symmetries in this Huawei design that add up to create a positive first impression. I love the inconsequential but cool accent color on the power button, for instance. It’s fair to say that I liked the P20 Pro before I even turned it on.
Coming from a Google Pixel 2 XL, I find the P20 Pro to be an ergonomic upgrade. Huawei’s phone has a slightly larger screen, at 6.1 inches, but is physically smaller. That’s something that notch detractors will have to consider before they criticize the notch on the P20 Pro: it does provide more screen real estate than an un-notched design. But more to the point, the P20 Pro is easy to pick up and to grip securely. The glass surfaces can feel slippery, however I haven’t come close to dropping the phone even once during all my testing (which is unusual).

My two complaints about the P20 Pro’s industrial design are minor. One is that the rear glass picks up fingerprints with the same ease as the Galaxy S9 and iPhone X that Huawei is competing against. And the other downside is the size of the camera bump, which is roughly the same as Apple’s on the iPhone X and leads to similar issues of the phone being imbalanced when laid on a flat surface.

Huawei’s decision to retain the fingerprint sensor at the front of the phone was peculiar to me, given how everyone else has either removed it (Apple), shifted it to the back (Samsung), or integrated it directly into the display (Vivo). But it took me only moments of using the P20 Pro’s fingerprint reader to realize that keeping it was the right move. It is astonishingly fast and accurate, and the way it feels under my thumb is great. It takes no more than a glancing tap to unlock the phone, and I appreciate still having a home button for exiting full-screen apps with a single tap. In-display fingerprint sensors can’t yet compete with the quickness of a discrete solution like Huawei’s, while rear-mounted ones just aren’t as easy and intuitive to use as those at the front.
As if the fingerprint ID system wasn’t swift enough, Huawei has also added a Face Unlock option to the P20 Pro, which uses the front-facing 24-megapixel camera. I was again skeptical that this would be anything other than an Apple-chasing spec gimmick, but my skepticism was quelled by the experience. Face Unlock on this phone is instant in almost all circumstances. Even when I locked myself in an unlit bathroom, the phone took less than a second to identify me. Is this system as secure as Apple’s more sophisticated Face ID? No. But its speed and accuracy are at least as good, if not better.
Like the majority of its Android rivals this year, Huawei will be criticized for having a notch at the top of its display and a “chin” at the bottom. The P20 Pro can shrug off those complaints on the strength of its awesome fingerprint reader and genuinely useful face-unlocking technology. I even love the circular earpiece and the loud, crisp sound that it produces during calls. Nothing about this design is superfluous or perfunctory. And if you truly hate the notch, Huawei gives you the option to hide it away.
The 6.1-inch, Full HD+ display on the Huawei P20 Pro is excellent. There are a couple of color modes to choose from, and once I switched to the Natural one, I got colors that had just the right amount of saturation and vividness. Not perfectly accurate, perhaps, but perfectly suited to consumer mobile use. The Pixel 2 XL feels drab by comparison, while the recent HTC U11+ appears lurid and oversaturated. Only the two phones that Huawei is trying to overcome, the iPhone X and Galaxy S9, can claim to have displays as good as the P20 Pro. All three are OLED, all three can be used comfortably in bright outdoor conditions, and all three provide plenty of sharpness, contrast, and accuracy. Huawei has its own version of Apple’s True Tone tech, which adjusts color temperature in accordance with ambient light around the phone: it’s subtle and works brilliantly well.

The cameras are intended to be the Huawei P20 Pro’s biggest differentiating feature. The 24-megapixel selfie cam is joined by a 40-megapixel f/1.8 main camera, a 20-megapixel f/1.6 monochrome camera, and an 8-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto camera on the back. If you’re in the mood for math, that’s 92 megapixels of image-processing might.
Huawei makes smart use of all those pixels by combining four of them into one, similarly to what Nokia previously did with its PureView cameras on the 808 and Lumia 1020 (incidentally, Huawei’s head of imaging, Eero Salmelin, is a veteran of Nokia’s PureView team). This approach produces sharper, cleaner images at a lower resolution. You can still shoot 40-megapixel stills if you insist on it, but the default (and the highest quality) setting is a 10-megapixel shot with the combined light information from the whole sensor.

Huawei P20 Pro review: a worthy iPhone X and Galaxy S9 rival - The Verge

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

How Amazon Caused Trump to Lose $400 Million in Value | Fortune - It's all about Trump wanting revenge.


(Via.).How Amazon Caused Trump to Lose $400 Million in Value | Fortune:

MKBHD & Neil Tyson — Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning

Google Pixel 2 Moment Lens Review: Taking Photos On Another Level

Opinion | What ‘2001’ Got Right - The New York Times

"FRANKFURT, Germany — It’s a testament to the lasting influence of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which turns 50 this week, that the disc-shaped card commemorating the German Film Museum’s new exhibition on the film is wordless, but instantly recognizable. Its face features the Cyclopean red eye of the HAL-9000 supercomputer; nothing more needs saying.

Viewers will remember HAL as the overseer of the giant, ill-fated interplanetary spacecraft Discovery. When asked to hide from the crew the goal of its mission to Jupiter — a point made clearer in the novel version of “2001” than in the film — HAL gradually runs amok, eventually killing all the astronauts except for their wily commander, Dave Bowman. In an epic showdown between man and machine, Dave, played by Keir Dullea, methodically lobotomizes HAL even as the computer pleads for its life in a terminally decelerating soliloquy.

Cocooned by their technology, the film’s human characters appear semi-automated — component parts of their gleaming white mother ship. As for HAL — a conflicted artificial intelligence created to provide flawless, objective information but forced to “live a lie,” as Mr. Clarke put it — the computer was quickly identified by the film’s initial viewers as its most human character.

Keir Dullea as Dave Bowman, the mission leader in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”CreditKevin Bray/MGM, via Photofest

This transfer of identity between maker and made is one reason “2001” retains relevance, even as we put incipient artificial intelligence technologies to increasingly problematic uses.

In “2001,” the ghost in Discovery’s machinery is a consciousness engineered by human ingenuity and therefore as prone to mistakes as any human. In the Cartesian sense of thinking, and therefore being, it has achieved equality with its makers and has seen fit to dispose of them. “This mission,” HAL informs Dave, “is too important to allow you to jeopardize it.”

Asked in April 1968 whether humanity risked being “dehumanized” by its technologies, Mr. Clarke replied: “No. We’re being superhumanized by them.” While all interpretations of the film were valid, he said, in his view the human victory over Discovery’s computer might prove pyrrhic.

Indeed, with its prehistoric “Dawn of Man” opening and a grand finale in which Dave is reborn as an eerily weightless Star Child, “2001” overtly references Nietzsche’s concept that we are but an intermediate stage between our apelike ancestors and the Übermensch, or “Beyond Man.” (Decades after Nietzsche’s death, the Nazis deployed a highly selective reading of his ideas, while ignoring Nietzsche’s antipathy to both anti-Semitism and pan-German nationalism.)

In Nietzsche’s concept, the Übermensch is destined to rise like a phoenix from the Western world’s tired Judeo-Christian dogmas to impose new values on warring humanity. Almost a century later, Mr. Clarke implied that human evolution’s next stage could well be machine intelligence itself. “No species exists forever; why should we expect our species to be immortal?” he wrote.

We have yet to engineer a HAL-type A.G.I. (artificial general intelligence) capable of human-style thought. Instead, we’re experiencing the incremental, disruptive arrival of components of such an intelligence. Its semi-sentient algorithms learn from text, image and video without explicit supervision. Its automated discovery of patterns in that data is called “machine learning.”

This kind of A.I. lies behind facial-recognition algorithms now in use by Beijing to control China’s 1.4 billion inhabitants and by Western societies to forestall terrorist attacks.

In Mr. Clarke’s novel, HAL’s aberrant behavior was attributable to contradictory programming. In today’s hyperpartisan context, a mix of machine learning, networks of malicious bots and related A.I. technologies based on simulating human thought processes are being used to manipulate the human mind’s comparatively sluggish “wetware.” Recent revelations about stolen Facebook user data being weaponized by Cambridge Analytica and deployed to exploit voters’ hopes and fears underlines that disinformation has become a critical issue of our time.

We should consider just whose mission it is that’s too important to jeopardize these days. Does anybody doubt that the clumsy language and inept cultural references of the Russian trolls who seeded divisive pro-Trump messages during the 2016 election will improve as A.I. gains sophistication? Of course, algorithm-driven mass manipulation is only one weapon in propagandists’ arsenals, alongside television and ideologically slanted talk radio. But its reach is growing, and it’s a back door by which viral falsehoods infiltrate our increasingly acrimonious collective conversation.

Traditional media — “one transmitter, millions of receivers” — contain an inherently totalitarian structure. Add machine learning, and a feedback loop of toxic audiovisual content can reverberate in the echo chamber of social media as well, linking friends with an ersatz intimacy that leaves them particularly susceptible to manipulation. Further amplified and retransmitted by Fox News and right-wing radio, it’s ready to beam into the mind of the spectator in chief during his “executive time.”

Where does HAL’s red gaze come in? Set aside the troubling prospect of what might unfold when a genuinely intelligent, self-improving A.G.I. is created — presumably the arrival of Nietzsche’s Übermensch. What’s in question even with current incipient A.I. technologies is who gets to control them. Even as some devise new medicines and streamline agriculture with them, others use them as powerful forces in opposition to Enlightenment values — liberty, tolerance and constitutional governance.

Democracy depends on a shared consensual reality — something that’s being willfully undermined. Seemingly just yesterday, peer-to-peer social networks were heralded as a revolutionary liberation from centralized information controls, and thus tools of individual human free will. We still have it in our power to purge malicious abuse of these systems, but Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others would need to plow much more money into policing their networks — perhaps by themselves deploying countermeasures based on A.I. algorithms. Meanwhile, we should demand that a new, tech-savvy generation of leaders recognizes this danger and devises regulatory solutions that don’t hurt our First Amendment rights. A neat trick, of course — but the problem cannot be ignored.

In “2001” ’s cautionary tale, HAL’s directive to deceive Discovery’s crew leads to death and destruction — but also, ultimately, to the computer’s defeat by Dave, the one human survivor on board.

We should be so lucky.

Opinion | What ‘2001’ Got Right - The New York Times

Opinion | What ‘2001’ Got Right - The New York Times

Monday, April 02, 2018

Apple Releases Firmware Update 7.7.9 and 7.6.9 for AirPort Base Stations [Updated] - Mac Rumors

"Apple today released new firmware updates for its Wi-Fi base stations, including the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule. The 7.7.9 update is available for 802.11ac base stations, while the 7.6.9 update is available for 802.11n base stations.

Release notes for the update were not provided by Apple, but it is likely that this firmware update fixes the KRACK Wi-Fi vulnerabilities that affected many modern Wi-Fi networks and devices.

The KRACK vulnerability had the potential to allow attackers to exploit weaknesses in the WPA2 protocol to decrypt network traffic to sniff out credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, photos, and other sensitive information. Apple released KRACK security updates for other devices earlier this year.

The new firmware updates can be installed using the AirPort Utility app for iOS or macOS.

Apple has allegedly stopped development on its AirPort wireless routers in 2016, and to our knowledge, the company does not plan to produce another product in the AirPort family in the near future.

Update: Support documents for the security contents of the 7.7.9 and 7.6.9 updates confirm that the KRACK Wi-Fi vulnerability has been addressed alongside a few other security issues."

Apple Releases Firmware Update 7.7.9 and 7.6.9 for AirPort Base Stations [Updated] - Mac Rumors