13 August  2018

With a release as notable (ahem) as Samsung's Galaxy Note 9, it is natural that the industry media has  indulged in what might seem a proliferation of speculations,  previews,  reviews and comparison tests. With the device now int he sweaty palms of vloggers and reviewers across the world, the first full reviews have started to march in, and Android Authority naturally had a few words to say about the device. We're sure there will be a number of showdown reviews to come yet.
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The trend in mobile telephony nowadays leans toward phones with rather ample screens, which naturally means that the devices themselves aren't exactly minuscule. There was a time in the history of cellular telephony, though, where compact was the name of the game. Our undefragged thoughts wander back to devices like Haier's pen phone, for instance. For those users that like to visit Miniland and drive around in the legacy Fiat 500, Zanco might have the phone that fits, called the tiny t1 (lowercasing as per the company's own practice) . Destruction tester JerryRigEverything (uppercasing as per his practice) got hold of one of the devices which is literally about the length of a dual camera unit on the back of a Huawei, say, and took it apart, as is his wont.
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It is no longer a source of jaw-agape wonder that kids in their mid-teens and younger possess hacking skills that would have top developers in tech firms nod in grudging admiration. There has been ample evidence of this in news stories, novels and Hollywood productions. When a teenager manages to one-up an iconic malware industry leader such as John McAfee, though, it is time to look at this phenomenon anew. In the face of countless hacks on cryptocurrency repositories which have lifted many millions of dollars of loot, MaAfee introduced the "unbreakable" Bitfi wallet. Now this is just the kind of challenge to make a fifteen year old salivate, and indeed Saleem Rashid managed to get root access to McAfee's wallet , and even played Doom on it, just to prove a point. Just to be fair to McAfee's system, the teenager did not manage to extract any coins from the wallet, which is the prerequisite action to earn he $250 000 bounty that the industry leader had promised to anyone who could demonstrate a vulnerability to his system.
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There is the tale of a certain Noclue Ned haranguing NASA officials online,  asking why, if we'd set foot on the moon and have landed vehicles on Mars,  we do not venture to visit the sun. Upon being made aware of the  rather obvious problems associated with frying everything in sight, he glibly replied that it should be no problem if we plan properly and land the spacecraft at night.

Such silliness aside, NASA has now in fact taken concrete steps to get a fleet vehicle a lot closer to the sun, hopefully in so doing aiding in our understanding of our star. In the early morning hours of Sunday (US time), the Delta  IV Heavy rocket fired up,  shifted through the  gears, and launched the Parker Solar Probe on its journey to the sun. Naturally, the craft won't land as Ned had proposed, but it will get closer to the sun than any man-made spacecraft before. It will travel all the way to the sun's corona, or atmosphere if you will.  Opting for a spot of sightseeing before, the craft will first pass Venus, the gravity of which will slingshot it to its intended destination.  Even though it will be a rather toasty 1 400 degrees Celsius in the intended orbit path, the craft's carbon shield will keep its inside temperature to a much more pleasant 29 degrees Celsius.
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We keep our eyes skyward for our next story, one that ends tragically, but still has a remarkable component to it. A 29 year old member of the ground staff at Seattle Tacoma airport moved in behind the controls of a Bombardier 400 passenger plane and took off without permission.  He managed the takeoff and a near hour-long flight in a proficient manner, conversing with air traffic controllers all the time. He described himself as having a few screws loose, but sounded lucid, friendly and considerate (in the sense that he did not want to harm innocent bystanders) throughout.  Officials said that he was suicidal, and indeed he indicated that he wants his exit move to be a barrel roll with the plane. Amazingly, he successfully completed the maneuver in a stylish manner, pulling up just short of the surface of a lake. Now bear in mind that this is a barrel roll in an 80 seater passenger plane, a move that most test pilots would baulk at. One can just imagine what a talented pilot he might have been.
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Let's face it - there are people that are quite simply miles better at what they do than most people are at anything they do. This little snippet is a case in point and earns our Winner of the Week award. The unnamed truck driver had to dump a load of gravel, and rather than plonking it down in a huge pile and leaving the owner or his contractors with the back-breaking job of  spreading it all out, he drove down the long driveway, depositing the load in a nice even layer. With all that already done, everyone could repair to the lounge for a nice cup of  coffee.
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“I'm quite certain that if the rest of the world vanished overnight and the development of cricket were left in Australian hands, within a generation, the players would be wearing shorts and using the bats to hit each other, and the thing is, it'd be a much better game for it.”
Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country




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