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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is Stellar but Pricey

Stellar-but-Pricey

Samsung’s latest large-screened phone, the Note 7, is the latest addition to the stylus-toting premium phone line. Samsung provided The Washington Post with a review device. Overall, this phone is gorgeous and a productivity machine. But its high price tag may put some people off.

In terms of features, the Note 7 offers smartphone users the full package. Samsung’s screens are known to be stunning and this phone is no exception, with deep blacks and bright colors that give a vivid — if not always natural — picture.

Its 5.7-inch screen is noticeably big, making video viewing a pleasure. Even with a big screen, the phone doesn’t feel too bulky in-hand. I’m a rather small person, and while I definitely can’t tap the top of the screen while holding the phone one-handed, it didn’t feel too heavy to use. The phone’s call quality was good, as was the overall audio performance.

The Note 7 boasts a battery life similar to the Galaxy S7. I didn't get as much time with this device before writing as I have with others, so it's hard to make a final determination on the accuracy of that claim. But I feel safe saying that the Note 7 will get you through a normal day of use. But if you're doing something battery intensive — say, Pokémon Go? — you may still want to take an extra charger.

Like its older siblings, the Note 7 can be charged wirelessly using Samsung’s charging pad. It also has a “fast charging” mode that gives you a lot of juice in a short period of time. One key difference, however, is that the Note 7 has a USB-C charger. The upside of this is that you can plug the cord in either way — the cord will never be upside-down for the port. The downside is that you can’t use the old cords from your other Samsung devices to power it up directly.

The Note 7 also boasts a waterproof design. I dunked my review unit in the sink, and also used it (with the stylus, even) under running water with no ill effects. I wouldn’t recommend making a habit of using it underwater — the phone does pop up a little warning if the power port gets wet — but you don’t have to freak out if you drop your phone in a puddle.

The retina scanner

One of the big new features on the Note 7 is a retina scanner. To activate, you have to swipe up from the lock screen. When you scan your eyes, an LED light blinks — but don't worry, it doesn’t blind you at all. The phone still scanned fine with my contacts and my glasses, though the glasses did take a little longer. Still, it was faster than typing in a password — which the phone does still ask you to set up as a backup security method.

Is the retina scanner any better than the fingerprint scanner? Honestly, not really. The retina scanner works well, but so does the fingerprint scanner. This is a big phone, so the retina scanner does make unlocking it feel a little more stable, but if you're happy with your fingerprint you probably won’t see a compelling reason to switch.

The pen

The standout feature of the Note line in general is the S Pen, or stylus, that tucks neatly into the bottom of the smartphone. Samsung has made the pen more and more useful over the years, and Note 7 users can easily take handwritten notes, or annotate images on their phone.

The pen is fast and fluid, and almost as good as taking notes by hand in terms of responsiveness. I’m still faster with pen and paper myself, but it’s hard to deny the convenience advantage of being able to jot down a note on your phone. The Note 7 (like its predecessor) also lets you take notes directly on the lock screen, in case you have to write something down very quickly. If you like having a pen on hand, this may be the greatest selling point of the Note 7.

As compared to ...

Many reviews have hailed this as Samsung’s most beautiful phone yet, and that’s a fair assessment. I’d agree that the Note 7 is, all-around, better than the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, just in terms of features it offers.

In terms of performance, the Note 7 is on par with the top smartphones out there. There is a video going around showing the iPhone 6s beating the Note 7 in a speed test. My own benchmarking gave the out-of-the-box Note 7 a slight edge over my year-old iPhone overall. In practical terms, I noticed that the Note 7 opens and (in particular) switches between programs with a less snap than the iPhone or the Galaxy S7 — but not enough to call it “lag.”

Not to mention, a phone’s worth isn’t solely in its numbers. It’s hardly enough to discount what is an otherwise gorgeous phone. Its only real drawback? The price. The Note 7 is up to $900 unlocked though carriers are offering deals of their own. At that price, you may reasonably expect it to blow past all other competitors. And while it edges out other phones on the market, that price tag may give you pause.

Read Article (Hayley Tsukayama | washingtonpost.com | 08/23/2016)

I agree with Hayley, though this is an absolutely awesome machine it has a draw-back, the price. And not being one who’s life revolves around a smartphone, there’s no way I would pay this price.

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The Most Technologically Advanced County in the World

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Have you ever been to Estonia? It’s tiny. Could you find it on a map?

The Baltic nation of only 1.3 million citizens stands out from its Eastern European neighbors in that it has an advanced economy and a high standard of living. And it’s also a technology paradise. You may know it as the home of Skype. But there’s a lot more to the tiny country than that.

In Estonia, voting, signing documents and filling out tax returns is done online, thanks to X-Road, an online tool that coordinates multiple online data repositories and document registries. X-Road provides all Estonians — ordinary citizens, enterprises and government officials — with unparalleled access to the data they need to do business, get licenses, permits and other documents that would take days, weeks or even months in other countries.

X-Road is built with scalability in mind, so that the growing number of services and repositories can easily be attached to the system. Although this digital backbone alone is rather impressive, it’s just one of many products in tech-forward Estonia.

Instead of being held back by its past and falling victim to ailments that plague many post-communist countries, such as corruption, a bloated government and an obsolete education system, Estonia has decided to start with a clean slate and invest in its future. To transform its society into a community of tech-savvy individuals, children as young as 7 are taught the principles and basics of coding. (In comparison, only one in four schools in the U.S. teaches computer programming.)

Such strong foundations have yielded impressive results: Estonians are driven, forward-thinking and entrepreneurial, and the same goes for the government. It takes only five minutes to register a company there and, according to The Economist, the country in 2013 held the world record for the number of startups per person. And it’s not quantity over quality: Many Estonian startups are now successful companies that you may recognize, such as Skype, Transferwise, Pipedrive, Cloutex, Click & Grow, GrabCAD, Erply, Fortumo, Lingvist and others. By the way, Estonia uses the euro.

If all this sounds enticing and you wish to become an entrepreneur there, you’re in luck; starting a business in Estonia is easy, and you can do it without packing your bags, thanks to its e-residency service, a transnational digital identity available to anyone. An e-resident can not only establish a company in Estonia through the Internet, but they can also have access to other online services that have been available to Estonians for over a decade. This includes e-banking and remote money transfers, declaring Estonian taxes online, digitally signing and verifying contracts and documents, and much more.

E-residents are issued a smart ID card, a legal equivalent to handwritten signatures and face-to-face identification in Estonia and worldwide. The cards themselves are protected by 2048-bit encryption, and the signature/ID functionality is provided by two security certificates stored on the card’s microchip.

But great innovations don’t stop there. Blockchain, the principle behind bitcoin that also secures the integrity of e-residency data, will be used to provide unparalleled safety to 1 million Estonian health records. The blockchain will be used to register any and all changes, illicit or otherwise, done to the health records, protecting their authenticity and effectively eliminating any abuse of the data therein.

While there are many lessons that the U.S. and the rest of the world can learn from Estonia, these are especially important: A country must be willing to adapt and change the infrastructure of both the government and the economy if needed, and to continually optimize them. A nation needs to understand that a change of mindset should be thorough and start with the young. An education system should be designed in a way that doesn’t cripple young minds, or overburden them with too much irrelevant information. And, finally, if you want entrepreneurship to thrive, it is necessary to remove bureaucratic and technical obstacles at all levels.

Read Article (Jurica Dujmovic | msn.com | 07/10/2016)

Not to rain on anyone’s parade but there is no information about how (or if) senior citizens in Estonia became tech savvy. Focus seems to be totally on the young members of society and none on their elderly. Other than that, the relationship between government and the public is very impressive and should be viewed as an example of how the digital era can provide benefits to all.

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Paris Victim’s Family Sues Facebook, Google & Twitter

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SAN FRANCISCO — The family of a California college student killed in November's terrorist attacks in Paris is suing Facebook, Google and Twitter, alleging the companies provided "material support" to the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, uses popular Internet services such as Facebook and Twitter to spread propaganda, to attract and train new recruits, to celebrate terrorist attacks and publicize executions.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal court is the latest to target social media services for making it too easy for the ISIL to spread its message. Cal State Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzalez was among 130 people killed in the Paris attacks.

Facebook said the lawsuit is without merit.

“There is no place for terrorists or content that promotes or supports terrorism on Facebook, and we work aggressively to remove such content as soon as we become aware of it," Facebook said in an emailed statement. "Anyone can report terrorist accounts or content to us, and our global team responds to these reports quickly around the clock. If we see evidence of a threat of imminent harm or a terror attack, we reach out to law enforcement."

Twitter said it "strongly condemns the ongoing acts of violence for which ISIS claims credit."

"Our sympathies go out to those impacted by these acts of terror," the company said in an emailed statement. "We have partnered with others in industry, NGOs and governments to find better ways to combat the online manifestations of the larger societal problem at the core of violent extremism. As we stated earlier this year, violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear."

Google could not be reached for comment.

  • In January, Twitter was sued by the widow of an American killed in an attack on a Jordanian police training center. Tamara Fields, a Florida woman whose husband Lloyd Carl Fields Jr., a government contractor, died in the Nov. 9 attack, accused Twitter of knowingly allowing the terror group to use its platform.
  • In February, Twitter said it had suspended 125,000 accounts connected to the Islamic State over the previous six months.
  • In what may be the first act of terrorism broadcast on Facebook Live, the suspected killer of a French police commander and his wife this week streamed a 13-minute video threatening attacks on European soccer competition Euro 2016 and contemplating the fate of the dead couple's child.

Read Article (Jessica Guynn | usatoday.com | 06/15/2016)

Bless all the victims.

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US Nuclear Arsenal Controlled by 1970s Computers

1970s-Computers

Government Accountability Office report details ‘museum-ready’ machines which are still controlling nuclear force messaging system that is ‘obsolete’. The US military’s nuclear arsenal is controlled by computers built in the 1970s that still use 8in floppy disks.

A report into the state of the US government, released by congressional investigators, has revealed that the country is spending around $60bn (£40.8bn) to maintain museum-ready computers, which many technical staff members do not even know how to operate, as their creators retire and no updates put in place.

The Defense Department’s Strategic Automated Command and Control System (DDSACCS), which is used to send and receive emergency action messages to US nuclear forces, runs on a 1970s IBM computing platform. It still uses 8in floppy disks to store data.

We’re not even talking the more modern 3.5in floppy disk that millennials might only know as the save icon. We’re talking the OG 8in floppy, which was a large floppy square with a magnetic disk inside it. They became commercially available in 1971, but were replaced by the 5¼in floppy in 1976, and by the more familiar hard plastic 3.5in floppy in 1982.

Shockingly, the US Government Accountability Office said: “Replacement parts for the system are difficult to find because they are now so obsolete.”

The Pentagon said it was instigating a full replacement of the ancient machines and while the entire upgrade will take longer, the crucial floppy disks should be gone by the end of next year.

Given that magnetic media has a finite shelf life, and that disks and the drives needed to read and write to them are older than some of the operators of the machinery, the floppy revelation makes you wonder whether the US could even launch a nuclear attack if required. An “error, data corrupted” message could literally mean ‘life or death’.

Read Article (Hal90210 | theguardian.com | 05/26/2016)

OMG, this is the most embarrassing post I’ve ever made. To think, in this 2016 Digital Era any portion of our Nuclear capability being managed like this is unthinkable.

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Posting Photo’s Online is Producing Your Own Epitaph

Your-Own-Epitaph

Posting photos online is not living. You are actually producing your own obituary. Summer begins again. Millions of people are packing their bags to get away from it all. Their eyes are ready for fresh sights: sun-drenched beaches, famous museums, parasolled cafes.

More eyes than ever before will, however, see nothing fresher than the screens of their own smartphones. They will not need to look at sunsets and palm trees, for they will have flawless copies on their devices (click!). The great scale of the Notre Dame cathedral, in Paris, or the Coliseum, in Rome, will bring no risk of eyestrain: they will be able to see the grandeur of these sites in harmless digital miniature (click!). Screens will give them their own versions of the Mona Lisa or Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, versions that have this significant advantage over the originals: they can be owned, stored and used as material for a personal online story.

As we see more and more parents who seem to watch their children grow up entirely on a screen, it becomes obvious that storing our sensory stimuli in digital form has become the main event. No one really believes that they will sit down in the future and play back everything they have recorded. That is clearly not the objective. No, the point is that ordinary memory has come to seem inadequate as a register of “life” – whatever that is. Human experience needs to be converted into the inhuman in order for it to be real. If it has not been made digital, it did not happen.

How did we get here? Ours is a materialistic era, so we are inclined to believe in materialistic explanations. Digital technology, we tell ourselves, has caused this devaluation of experience. But the opposite explanation, though more mysterious, is equally true: it is the devaluation of experience that has caused digital technology.

It is not that digital prostheses exist, and so, with remarkable coincidence, our inner life suddenly “needs” them. No, for more than a century we have been caught up in electronic processes that have caused us to stop believing in our own experience, and – like a colonized people asserting themselves in the oppressor’s language – we feel a surge of dignity with each new word we learn of the machine’s own tongue.

Of course, when machines can laugh, and they will, like other oppressors before them, ROFL at these efforts of us to “speak machine”. They will see our obsessive self-documentation for what it is: a futile attempt to assert what we do not ourselves believe – that we actually live. I am visiting New York. I am eating chocolate cake. I have a flower in my hair.

When people were really alive, they did not need to protest so much. They did not imagine that strangers might be interested in the fact that they had chocolate cake at lunch. Not, at least, during their lifetime. They were aware that such trivia becomes significant only at the moment of death – at which point, yes, it is suddenly overwhelmingly poignant to remember that someone had those clothes and food and rhythms.

In an era when people still believed in their own lives, they wrote autobiographies. We, by contrast, have become auto-obituarists. Despite all the work that social media users do to document themselves from one day to the next, what is recorded is not life. Rather it is death-in-life: it is “existence” from which life has already fled, leaving behind a digital husk.

Our social media footprint is an obituary we write ourselves – a set of remembrances we leave for future generations to give strength to this simple, spurious claim: that we lived. Only at the moment of our death does our Facebook or Instagram account acquire its true and always intended significance, and finally the chocolate cake that we had for lunch once is meaningful.

That consummation lies in the future. A day will come when this summer’s screen obsession finally makes sense. It’s just that we will never live to see it.

Read Article (Rana Dasgupta | theguardian.com | 05/29/2016)

Scream at the Digital Demon, for he hears but sees not. Maybe through volume your true intent may be understood.

Internet availability and access is important without a doubt, but knowing how to fully utilize the constantly evolving devices that connect to it and the Internet itself, is an issue just as important if not more.  Our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing device usage, and we need your support.

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