23 March  2018

To notch or not to notch? This is the conumdrum that mobile phone manufacturers wrack their brains over as they design their new models. Brought back into mainstream attention by the iPhone X, a lot of manufacturers have followed suit with a dark cutout of their own. Vivo is one of them, and the V9 is quite a bit of an iPhone 10 lookalike. The device is definitely one for the selfie brigade, featuring a 24 megapixel front shooter with AI that can even tell your age.  Apparently, Vivo's software has had to look at some 6 million faces to get it to be that smart, which must make the device feel like a hackneyed politician.  Anyhow, with near a bezelless design,  huge screen acreage, good memory and everything else that makes the mobile phone aficionado's heart flutter, this one is sure to warrant some consideration.

$500 million is rather a lot of dosh in the here and now, but even more so 28 years ago. That was the financial blow suffered by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston back in the day, when some miscreants got away with paintings to that value, including some irreplaceable works by Rembrandt and Degas.  One of the largest unsolved art heists in history has robbed museum goers of the pleasure of experiencing these works, but no longer completely so. Some augmented reality specialists are recreating some of the lost artworks the electronic way, so if you point your properly-apped Apple device at the bare frame, the missing painting will appear on your screen. It's no substitute for the real thing, of course, but at least you get some idea of what the world (except for the private collector) has lost.
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We all know that technology manufacturers  get a kick out of miniaturisation,  and we'd venture to suggest that IBM had just one-upped everybody else with the world's smallest computer. The little wonder measures 1mm x 1mm, yet has the power of  an X86 chip from the 1990's. It  houses several hundred thousand transistors, a photo-voltaic cell for power, and a communications unit. Quite a lot for such a small, thingie, then.  IBM sees its first applications in the field of counterfeit protection, and, seeing as it will cost less than 10c per unit to manufacture, that is an investment well made.  To give you an idea of just how tiny it is, there are 128 of these tiny computers contained in the chip resting  on the finger in the photo.
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If you had half an ear or eye tuned to a news feed during the past week, you will probably have an inkling of an idea that Facebook was in the news for all the wrong reasons. This is because Cambridge Analytica, a  data mining consultancy firm, was found to have exploited the data of up to 50 million Facebook users in an effort to procure a certain outcome in the last US presidential elections. What is scary, is that the company got access to this data through the rippling out of a "legitimate"  survey that a mere 270 000 Facebook users participated in. This demonstrates the power of following online relationship links. Cambridge Analytica has also elevated itself to prime spot for thugs of  the year when video surfaced of its CEO blatantly bragging how they could engineer compromising situations for political candidates outside of their camps, to set them up for bribery, blackmail or any other kind of subterfuge one does not want to be seen associated with free and fair elections. As is often he case, it is the comedians that have had the sharpest swords in piercing the bubble, and present Trevor Noah's take.
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Look, it was bound to happen. Tragic is it is, we simply had to expect that autonomous cars would at some stage be caught out and a fatality would ensue. Uber suspended autonomous vehicle tests for a while whilst it figures out how it came to pass that an elderly pedestrian/cyclist was not detected in time by one of its autonomous test vehicles and sadly got killed. We've seen video footage of the few seconds leading up to the accident, and to be honest, the victim appeared in view so suddenly, that hardly any real life driver would have coped with the situation without some sort of accident. Still, the ESP powers of autonomous vehicles, with radar, sonar, laser and what not was thought to be sufficient to prevent such things. Much as we learn from every aviation accident and aspire to making that industry even safer, we will learn from this incident, and move closer to the ideal of fatality-free driving.
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We present you a fictional Wally of the Week for this edition, but, as you can well imagine, it is not too far removed from the truth that is to be found out there somewhere.  It features two old dearies in a car, leaving a trail of mayhem behind.  It should be good for a Friday chuckle ...
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