Author: Nick Farrell

Boffins come up with self-repairing smartphone screens

A team of researchers has come up with a new material that could pave the way for self-repairing smartphones, robots and other electronic devices.

The boffins from the American Chemical Society claim that the material, which can stretch up to 50 times its usual size, is able to heal itself “like nothing has happened” even when cut in two.

The material is flexible, transparent and is similar to human skin. When exposed to electrical signals, a current is generated that creates a chemical bonding reaction between molecules.

The most obvious applications for electronics devices seem to be self-healing displays, although lead researcher Dr Chao Wang is also exploring the possibility of a self-healing lithium-ion battery.

The technology is similar to the hydrogen-infused rear cover found on the LG G Flex, which allows for small scratches to be healed. However this material can “automatically stitch itself back together” within one day of being sliced into pieces. The team will present its research at a Tuesday meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Trump wants visiting Brits to hand over all their data

The US government wants visitors from Britain to hand over all their electronic details at the border.

The UK is not the only country being targeted by the new rules, but it does show how stupid the new law is going to be.

Trump is considering whether or not to deploy “extreme vetting” practices at airports around the world, which could force tourists from Britain and other countries visiting the US  to reveal their mobile phone contacts, social media passwords and financial data.

Travelers who want to enter the US could also face questioning over their ideology. Which means that if you make one joke about the country having an orange president, you could be on the next plane home.

Trump made the “extreme vetting” of foreign nationals to combat terrorism a major theme of his presidential election campaign. But his executive order imposing a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries has twice been blocked in court.

His antics have already gutted the tourism industry with most people thinking twice before going to the US.

Already tourists from the UK, France, Australia and Japan participate in the visa waiver program, which requires adherence to strict US standards in data sharing, passport control and other factors.

This could require people to hand over their phones so officials can study their stored contacts and possibly other information.

The aim is to “figure out who you are communicating with,” a senior Department of Homeland Security official was quoted as saying.  “What you can get on the average person’s phone can be invaluable.”

Applicants will be asked to hand over their social media handles and passwords, so that officials could see information posted privately in addition to public posts, the Wall Street Journal said. Which basically means all those TechEye stories mocking the US will keep me from going to US tech conferences.

The Journal report said the DHS official working on the review indicated that questions under consideration included whether visa applicants believe in so-called honour killings, how they view the treatment of women in society, whether they value the “sanctity of human life” and who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation.

Which is a bit unfair. If they asked me who I would see as a legitimate target, I would be thinking in terms of strategy and see it as an intellectual question and say “Apple headquarters”.

 

 

 

Intel finally gets rid of McAfee

After seven years and a lawsuit from its founder, Intel is finally getting rid of McAfee.

The chip maker has divested its majority holdings in McAfee to investment firm TPG for US$3.1 billion.

McAfee will become a standalone security company, but Intel will retain a minority 49 percent stake. Chipzilla is apparently only interested in internal operations on hardware-level security.

The selloff is a loss for Chipzilla, which spent $7.68 billion to acquire McAfee in 2010. Some analysts think it was the worst thing that Intel ever bought.

Although the idea was good. Intel wanted to add layers of security to hardware and components. It McAfee technology in firmware at the PC and server chip level, and developed security management tools. McAfee technology was used in hardware using real-time operating systems. But most of McAfee was software based and had little ties to Intel’s core hardware strategy.

To fix the problem, Intel ran a parallel hardware security strategy that had little to no ties to McAfee.

Apple orders 70 million bent OLED screens from Samsung


Apple has ordered
more than 70 million OLED screens from Samsung and it is believed that the curved screens will go into its coming iPhone 8

Nikkei Asian Review cited sources close to Apple’s supply chain, has no other details about the order, but says the screens will be used in a phone.

Apple will launch three new iPhones this autumn: Two with a regular, LCD screen, and a “premium” variant that will have a curved OLED screen.

Previous reliable rumours had claimed that Samsung Display will manufacture a total of 160 million OLED panels for Apple which suggests that Apple might not be expecting to sell so many of the pricy phones as it thought.

According to the outlet, all three new iPhones will come with wireless charging, and all three will be waterproof. Furthermore, at least one model will have 3D sensors with built-in facial recognition.

This is all a bit of a snooze really, as it is the sort of tech which adds little to the phone.

Nikkei claims the two LCD-screened iPhones will be 4.7- and 5.5-inches big – just like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, while the premium variant will have a 5.2-inch OLED screen.

US FCC limits broadband competition

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is reversing a requirement imposed that Charter Communications extend broadband service to a million households already served by a competitor.

The requirement was made under the Obama administration to make sure that the telcos competed with each other rather than setting up local monopolies.

It was part of a condition of approval for its acquisition of two cable companies, Charter had agreed in May 2016 to extend high-speed internet access to 2 million customers within five years, with 1 million served by a broadband competitor.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai in a statement said the move was like telling two people you will buy them lunch, ordering two entrees, and then sending both to just one of your companions.

“It runs directly against the goal of promoting greater internet access for all Americans.”

The American Cable Association petitioned the FCC to reverse the requirement in 2016.

The group warned it would have “devastating effects on the smaller broadband providers Charter will overbuild” because they would face competition from an “uneconomic, government mandated entry” that could put some companies out of business.

But equally it could create a situation where cable companies divide up regions to get local monopolies.

Google X worked older staff member to collapse

Google X worked an older staff member so hard he finally collapsed and it laid him off.

According to Business Insider the employee was assigned to fieldwork for Project Wing, which is X’s program to create delivery drones for transporting consumer goods and emergency medicine.

While out in private ranch lands in the Central Valley in California one day, the employee succumbed to either a heart attack or a grand mal seizure because of the hot temperatures in the Central Valley, coupled with a gruelling work schedule of 10-12 hours a day and stress may have brought it on.

The Project Wing drone tester, who returned to work after two months’ leave, found himself demoted and sent back into a field gig before eventually being pushed out of the company.

According to Business Insider, some members of the Project Wing field team painted an alarming picture of hostile work conditions driven by engineers and managers back at headquarters who scheduled the group to conduct loads of tests, thereby producing loads of data, despite the long hours outdoors that such a schedule required.

To make matters worse all their demanding work and data was being ignored because their backgrounds in the military were allegedly viewed disdainfully by Google X.

US state wants to give its drones guns

 The US state which was at the forefront of the French-backed terrorist revolution against its lawful British king thinks that its freedom can be defended by drones with guns.

While thinking that the British government was a tyranny for putting a penny tax on tea, the citizens of Connecticut think they will be somehow freer if police can robotically kill someone by pressing a button on a robot.

Legislation, approved overwhelmingly by the state legislature’s judiciary committee, would ban weaponised drones in the state but an addition to the law exempts agencies involved in law enforcement. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Civil libertarians and civil rights activists are lobbying to restore the bill to its original language before the full House vote.

David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Connecticut said according to statistics, coppers tend to shoot minorities. The fear is that armed drones would be used in urban centres and on minority communities.

In 2015, North Dakota became the first state to permit law enforcement agencies to use armed drones but limited them to “less than lethal” weapons such as tear gas and pepper spray.

US to train kids to handle fake news


A pilot education
programme in the US is training kids to spot the difference between fake and real news.

12-year-old students at Clemente Middle School in Germantown, Maryland is one of several schools worldwide which wants to train kids for the reality of living in an online world of fake news.  It is not the only one. In the Czech Republic, high schools teach teens to identify propaganda from Russia and in Sweden, students as young as 10, are trained to spot the difference between news and Fox, er fake news.

In Pennsylvania, a state lawmaker wants mandatory media literacy classes in all public schools.

“The sophistication in how this false information is disguised and spread can make it very difficult for someone, particularly young people, to determine fact from fiction,” says Rep. Tim Briggs.

A survey by Common Sense Media said that while kids are good at consuming news they are rubbish when it comes to spotting what is real and what isn’t.

More than 44 percent of tweens and teens said they can tell the difference between fake news stories and real ones. But more than 30 percent admitted they shared a news story online — only to find out later that it was wrong or inaccurate.

The problem is that anyone can publish anything on the web and drilling the kids with a list of questions about a story could be the key.

One course created by the nonprofit, the News Literacy Project that teachers from California to Virginia are adding to their classrooms. It includes a 10-question checklist for identifying fake news.

  • Who made this?
  • Who is making money off it?
  • Who might help or be harmed by this message?
  • What is left out of this message that might be important?
  • Is this credible (and what makes you think that)?

Other red flags include the lack of a by-line. A headline which is ALL CAPS or has shedloads of exclamation marks.

A story which promising you something “the media” does not want you to know is almost certainly fake.

Teachers say it’s working. Part of the reason: Kids, particularly middle schoolers, are inherently cynical and once they know the rules they are not sucked in.

Trump did not change H-1B visa numbers after all

This year’s round of H-1B visa programme applications will be the same as last year, despite comedy president President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump’s policy changes which were supposed to keep the foreigners out.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services last updated its online page dedicated to the programme, which granted visas to skilled foreign workers, Wednesday with the rules mostly similar to those of last year and quotas remaining the same.

For those who came in late, Trump promised to save American jobs and reform the programme on the grounds that companies exploited it to fill jobs once held by US citizens who earned higher wages. An alleged draft of an executive order was leaked last month and widely circulated, raising fears that the administration was preparing to gut the program. These measures were dropped.

This has led analysts to suggest that that the window in which the White House could have made serious reforms is now closed and it is business as usual.

Earlier this month, the USCIS announced it would neither lower nor raise the quota of H-1B visas, but did reveal a new restriction. For a fee of $1,225, applicants were once able to expedite their processing to just 15 days. From March 3, premium processing was indefinitely suspended for at least six months in a decision the USCIS said was aimed at reducing long processing times.

Apple has Brexit on Imagination tech

Fruity tax-dodging cargo cult Apple has told British graphics maker Imagination it will stop using its graphics technology in the iPhone and other products with two years’ time.

Imagination had been leaning heavily on Apple lately and depends on it as its biggest customer. It is also unclear what Apple is going to do about its graphics technology.

It looks like Apple is trying to slash costs by bleeding its suppliers. It is widely expected to see interest in its iPhone declining and has been putting the thumbscrews on its suppliers to keep its margins and profits up.

Apple paid Imagination license fees and royalties totalling £60.7 million for the year to the end ofApril 2016, half of its total revenue, and is expected to pay about £65 million pounds for this year, Imagination said.

Imagination said Apple had not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer need Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information.

Apple’s notification had triggered talks on alternative commercial arrangements for the current licence and royalty agreement.