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  • TECH

    The borders of security

    Life, James Hein, Published on 22/05/2019

    » It's becoming more common for agents at some borders to demand your device passwords so they can check what you have on them. Given the power of the modern smartphone, partially indicated by the cost of the top-end models, this makes sense, as they are basically mini notebook computers. If you really want to protect your data, keep it elsewhere.

  • TECH

    The internet grows darker

    Life, James Hein, Published on 08/05/2019

    » Social media has reached danger levels of influence and like anything powerful it can be used for positive or negative purposes. In countries like China you can say as many good things about the government on social media as you like but anything negative typically triggers a rapid response. The US and UK has its own sets of problems, with a tug-of-war between liberals and conservatives over the truth, with each side seeking to banish the other from social media. Self-defined open, inclusive and balanced social media platforms like Twitter are removing accounts on one side of politics in countries before elections, effectively meddling in elections.

  • TECH

    Universal sounds, universal sights, universal rights

    Life, James Hein, Published on 24/04/2019

    » Those reading my columns for long enough will know that I play the guitar. I'll never be Eric Clapton but I'm OK. Among the sources I use to improve my technique or break down a difficult lick are the helpful people that post guitar tutorials on YouTube. That could be about to change.

  • TECH

    Human override here to stay

    Life, James Hein, Published on 10/04/2019

    » Computers are useful tools and they will emotionlessly churn through thousands of operations in the blink of an eye to produce whatever results they were programmed to do. Most of the time the results are welcomed. When it comes to malware the results generate a different reaction, and then there are those spaces in the middle. The situation surrounding the Boeing 737 Max MCAS aircraft and the recent crash is an excellent example. The latest analysis would seem to indicate that the computer engineers made some choices that have had unintended consequences. In this case overriding the wishes of the pilots by assuming the plane was crashing, when it wasn't, and not allowing the human pilots to correct the computer's decisions.

  • TECH

    The problem with censoring social media

    Life, James Hein, Published on 27/03/2019

    » In the aftermath of a recent violent event, there are calls to apply greater censorship to commentary on all social-media platforms. Those living in some Asian nations and elsewhere will already be used to the concept of censorship. That does not mean that others should follow this trend but instead should actively resist, as the ability to freely debate and exchange ideas was the original reason the internet was brought into being. The biggest problem with censorship is perspective. Consider two nation states with completely different cultures and perspectives. Which one and who gets to decide what is a valid opinion when the two are so different? This is the danger that now faces a number of Western nations, and apart from the US, where rights are enshrined in the Constitution, there is little protection. If you live in such a nation, let others know that freedom of speech and debate is a much better option than the alternatives.

  • TECH

    Facebook guilty, Huawei continues to claim innocence

    Life, James Hein, Published on 13/03/2019

    » I've been thinking about the new foldable phones. For many years, I have been hoping for a foldable e-book that has, to date, not materialised in a form I'd want to buy. There is something about the traditional book format that is familiar and comfortable. The first releases of foldable phones are aimed at those with lots of spare cash and who want to dip their fingers into the technology. These buyers form a baseline for the manufacturers to build on. I see this as testing the waters and I expect to see Apple jump into the market in the near future, as they have a bucket load of patents for similar technologies.

  • TECH

    Will fold-out phones start a new revolution?

    Life, James Hein, Published on 27/02/2019

    » Lower cost Google phones will be arriving this year. There will be mid-range offerings somewhere in the 4,700-22,000 baht range and another below that as a low-range product. The target is emerging markets that are fairly well saturated with other brands, both Korean and Chinese. The Google Pixel is the high-end product and is supposed to have the best camera, for now, but they are not cheap. The new range will round out the lower end of the market.

  • TECH

    AI-aided hope on the horizon

    Life, James Hein, Published on 13/02/2019

    » Despite some of my criticisms in the past there are some excellent examples of emerging artificial intelligence technologies. I've mentioned some of these from the medical world in earlier articles but a new one caught my eye this week, figuring out in which hotel a picture was taken. No, not to help people remember where holiday snaps were taken but to track down human trafficking where pics of women are taken to sell them for sex. The three groups behind this identification technology are from George Washington University, Temple University and Adobe, all in the US. Like many AI systems a large amount of source data is used and to help with this more than a million images have been collected from 50,000 hotels worldwide. Using all the room elements in backgrounds a neural network is being trained to identify a hotel chain and then a location.

  • TECH

    An English-always app workaround

    Life, James Hein, Published on 30/01/2019

    » On a recent overseas trip I noticed that some of my Android phone Google-related apps would change language settings and feeds based on the country I was in. Unless you can read in multiple languages this is really annoying. Even more so is that this behaviour is the default one and apparently unchangeable. If you are using Google as a browser you can at least stop this when browsing by using the URL google.com/ncr where the "ncr" stands for No Country Redirect. The result is an English always result regardless of where you may be in the world at the time.

  • OPINION

    The world knows where you've been

    Life, James Hein, Published on 16/01/2019

    » A reminder for those operating in the digital world. This includes the internet, your phone, social media and basically anything in the public sphere. You can all but guarantee that everything you post online is eventually available to everyone. It doesn't matter what promises your provider might offer -- and maybe they're even being as honest as they can be -- eventually your data will turn up on a public server somewhere. The golden rule is simple: if you don't want everyone to see something, then don't post it anywhere on public networks.

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