Galaxy 8 out today and the Tame Apple Press is terrified

The Tame Apple Press is doing its best to rain on Samsung’s Galaxy 8 parade as early indications suggest that it is going to be far better than what Apple is going to release in October.

Apple’s favourite news agency Reuters  took time out of its busy day to warn users of the dire “fire-prone Note 7” smartphone and demanded to know why the company was not focusing the launch on battery safety rather than concentrating on things like functionality and what the phone does.

It quoted a Los Angeles-based Eric Schiffer, a brand strategy expert and chairman of Reputation Management Consultants saying that highlighting the safety issue at this point will cause the other narrative to be recycled, “so they have elected to suppress and hope”.

To be fair to Samsung, only the Tame Apple Press thinks that the Samsung Galaxy 8 will catch fire. Reuters was finding it hard to dredge up a tame expert who would say that the batteries were a problem. Lewis Larsen, president of Chicago-based battery technology consultancy Lattice Energy said that Samsung had taken measures that should certainly improve battery safety and durability. “These are most definitely not just cosmetic steps ‘for show.'”

But that did not stop Reuters hacks interviewing their word processors to talk about how the new quality measures “can’t guarantee there will be no future problems”.

They even hinted that it did not matter if the failure rate was low at first, in the long term they would catch fire. Of course, they have no way of knowing that and if we were Samsung we would have sued them.

At the heart of the story is that analysts are going on record to say that the S8 will outsell the Galaxy S7, which was Samsung’s best seller in its first year from launch.

Reuters is recommending people not to buy it and to wait a few months to see if it does not catch fire. If people were stupid enough to listen to that advice then it would mean that it would give Apple a chance to release new iPhone as competition.

To put this into perspective, when Reuters covers iPhone launches it bangs on about how anticipated the phone is and focuses on its “game changing” technology, even when the iPhone’s tech has been unchanged for years with incremental changes to the chips, thinning down slightly, and the inconvenient loss of the headphone jack.

Republicans vote to end US internet privacy

US Republicans cheerfully voted to allow the big telcos and ISPs to spy on consumers and flog their personal details to the highest bidder.

The US House voted on Tuesday 215-205 to repeal regulations needing internet service providers to do more to protect customers’ privacy.

The White House said President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump strongly supports the repeal of the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October under then-President Barack Obama.

The rules forced internet providers to ask consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and marketing.

Last week, the Senate voted 50-48 to reverse the rules in a win for AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications who paid a lot of money to get their Tame Republican candidate’s elected.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai in a statement praised the decision of Congress to overturn “privacy regulations designed to benefit one group of favoured companies over another group of disfavoured companies”.

Last week, Pai said consumers would have privacy protections even without the Obama internet provider rules, but most sane people think that you must be smoking something to believe that is true.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it is not rocket science to work out that companies “should not be able to use and sell the sensitive data they collect from you without your permission”.

One critic of the repeal, Craig Aaron, president of Free Press advocacy group, said major Silicon Valley companies shied away from the fight over the rules because they make so much dosh from flogging consumer data.

“There are a lot of companies that are very concerned about drawing attention to themselves and being regulated on privacy issues, and are sitting this out in a way that they haven’t sat out earlier privacy issues,” Aaron said.

One amusing side effect of the story is that interest in VPNs in the US is suddenly booming.

SK Hynix in talks to buy Tosh’s memory chip business

South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix is in talks with Japanese financial investors about forming a consortium and jointly bidding for Toshiba’s memory chip business.

According to the Korea Economic Daily which found it difficult to get anyone to talk on the record, SK Hynix, the world’s No. 2 memory chip maker behind Samsung plans to give a preliminary bid for the Toshiba chip business today.

The Japanese firm put up the business for sale because it needs the cash to deal with its $6.3 billion writedown caused by the fact that invested in a bankrupt nuclear unit Westinghouse. Tosh has applied to bankrupt Westinghouse and write off its assets.

Tosh’s memory business has been doing well and would make a good partner for SK Hynix if it can gather together enough readies to buy it.

Scientists discover that “brainstorming” does not work

The idea that a group of people can come up with a cure for cancer by sitting around a white board and coming up with ideas has been rubbished by science.

Brainstorming, which is the tool of managers throughout the world, is believed to come up with solutions to tough business problems.

However now a batch of studies have revealed that people aren’t necessarily more creative in groups than alone, or vice versa, according to numerous studies.

According to a report published in Fast Company, creativity needs people to come together to share ideas and then going off and having a think.

Apparently, our brains’ creative engines are fuelled both by quiet mind-wandering, allowing novel and unexpected connections to form, and by encountering new information, which often comes from other people.

So while shouting around a white board is good for working with others, it misses the point when it comes to quiet thinking. This means that for lots of people, brainstorming is an utter nightmare.

Introverts just feel alienated, and extroverts are not pushed to reflect more deeply on the ideas they’ve batted around amongst themselves.

So when the office manager suggests brainstorming you just know it is not going to come up with anything useful.

Swedish Ericsson works its way out of borkage

Ericsson will refocus its business for managed services, explore options for its loss-making media arm and take several writedowns.

The move is the first from its new CEO which is supposed to lead the Swedish telecoms equipment maker out of its worst crisis in a decade

Board member Borje Ekholm took over as CEO in January and the markets had been awaiting for his cunning plan to get out of the mess the company is in.

The firm is grappling with shrinking markets and fierce competition from China’s Huawei, Finland’s Nokia and the rise of the Ice Giants trying to cross the Bridge of Bifrost (we made the last one up).

The Swedish company said it would take $797 million-$1.02 billion in the first quarter related to recent negative developments in certain large customer projects.  This has worried some analysts who fear that taking that much cash out of the bank might indicate the company is a bit borked.

The company will also write down assets in the first quarter, with an estimated impact on operating income of $342-$456 million, it said in a statement.

Ekholm said he expected his bottom line to be well and truly massaged and for significant improvements to be seen in 2018.

“Beyond that I am convinced that Ericsson, on a sustainable basis, can at least double the 2016 Group operating margin, excluding restructuring charges,” he said.

Romans declare piracy sites legal

After years of backing the sinking of pirate content websites, the Roman Court of Appeal has overturned a 600,000 euro ruling against four unlicensed sites that offered streaming movies to the public.

For those who came in late, the ruling is unexpected.  Italian courts have passed down many decisions against unlicensed sites which have seen hundreds blocked by ISPs.

But now the Court of Appeal has defined a pirate site in a way which makes it difficult for shedloads of them to be shut down on the basis of a stiff letter coming from Big Content..

In 2015 when the operator of four sites that linked to pirated movies was found guilty of copyright infringement by a local court and ordered to pay more almost 600,000 in fines and costs. As a result, filmakers.biz, filmaker.me, filmakerz.org, and cineteka.org all shutdown.

However, an appeal was filed and heard by the Rome Court of Appeal in February. The site’s lawyer Fulvio Sarzana said that the Court ruled that the links do not qualify as distributing files protected by copyright law.

This means that sites can list links and not be prosecuted.

“The Judge has recognized as lawful the portals’ activities, and this is despite the presence of advertising banners,” Sarzana says.

It is no longer enough to simply show that the ‘pirate’ site generates income. The prosecution must show that profit activity is connected to an individual.

If it fails, the sharing aspect could be considered as merely avoiding an expense rather than a for-profit activity designed to generate “significant gain”.

The judge ruled that file sharing is an  expensive saving move and a not a for-profit business and in such cases you cannot apply the penal provisions of copyright law and the resulting administrative sanctions.

 

Samsung will sell refurbished Note 7s

Samsung plans to sell refurbished versions of the incredible flaming Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.

Samsung’s Note 7s were permanently scrapped in October following a global recall, roughly two months from the launch of the near-$900 devices, after some phones caught fire. A subsequent probe found manufacturing problems in batteries supplied by two different companies – Samsung SDI and Amperex Technology.

Analysis from Samsung and independent researchers found no other problems in the Note 7 devices except the batteries, raising speculation that Samsung will recoup some of its losses by selling refurbished Note 7s.

Samsung’s announcement that revamped Note 7s will go back on sale, however, surprised some with the timing – just days before it launches its new S8 smartphone in the United States, its first new premium phone since the debacle last year.

Samsung, under huge pressure to turn its image around after the burning battery scandal, had previously not commented on its plans for recovered phones.

“Regarding the Galaxy Note 7 devices as refurbished phones or rental phones, applicability is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers as well as due consideration of local demand,” Samsung said in a statement, adding the firm will pick the markets and release dates for refurbished Note 7s accordingly.

The company estimated it took a $5.5 billion profit hit over three quarters from the Note 7’s troubles. It had sold more than 3 million Note 7s before taking the phones off the market.

 

Drupal community in bondage

The Drupal community has been whipped into a fury after a prominent contributor was asked to leave the project by its leader, Dries Buytaert because he was into BDSM.

Larry Garfield, a prominent Drupal contributor and long-time member of the Drupal and PHP communities was forced out over his unconventional sex life. Garfield is into BDSM, and is a member of the Gorean community, “a community who are interested in, and/or participate in, elaborate sexual subjugation fantasies, in which men are inherently superior to women”.

While that might not float anyone else’s boat, apparently it harms Garfield’s ability to code and he must be cast out of the open saucy world.

There are some who feel that the ability to code is not really dependent on how you have sex and it is Buytaert being far too much like a dominant control freak.

Buytaert said there were no 50 shades of grey in his project and the removal was black and white, It was “because it came to my attention that [Garfield] holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal project,” he hissed.

Buytaert said that when a highly-visible community member’s private views become public, controversial, and disruptive for the project, he must consider the impact. Of course that applies to Garfield and not his views, which strike us as a little puritanical.

“I cannot in good faith support someone who actively promotes a philosophy that is contrary to this …any association with Larry’s belief system is inconsistent with our project’s goals,” he said. The project’s goal is about writing a bit of code to get content up on a website it does not appear to mention anything about sexual preferences at all.

Over at the site the following statement has been printed:

“We want to be clear that the decision to remove Larry’s DrupalCon session and track chair role was not because of his private life or personal beliefs. The Drupal Association stands by our values of inclusivity. Our decision was based on confidential information conveyed in private by many sources. Due to the confidential nature of the situation we cannot and will not disclose any information that may harm any members of our community, including Larry.”

But what is alarming here is that somewhere there is apparently a moral code of sexuality which developers are not supposed to cross – Open Source is not open after all but subject to the moral code of the person who runs the project who apparently does not want to use a safe word.

Trump makes more bizarre tech claims

Desperate to appear in control again after losing a crucial anti-Obama care vote, Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump has claimed that he was personally involved in a move by Charter Communications’ decision to invest $25 billion in the United States and hire 20,000 workers over four years.

At a White House event with the second largest US cable company’s Chief Executive Thomas Rutledge and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Trump praised Charter for planning to close its offshore call centres and move them to the United States.

Trump said: “We’re embracing a new economic model – the American Model. We’re going to massively eliminate job-killing regulations – that has started already, big league – reduce government burdens, and lower taxes that are crushing American businesses and American workers.”

But the decision is not new. Charter said last May that it planned to add 20,000 jobs as part of its merger with Time Warner Cable and acquisition of Bright House Networks. As early as June 2015, Rutledge said Charter would need an additional 20,000 employees after those deals.

The company said more than a year ago in February 2016 that it planned to close foreign Time Warner Cable call centres and move the jobs to the United States.

This is not the first time that Trump has touted job announcements at the White House that had been previously planned or announced.

“You’re going to see thousands and thousands and thousands of jobs, of companies, and everything coming back into our country.”

Anti-science republican will make US grate by gutting science

The chairman of the science committee in the US House of Representatives told a cheering crowd of climate change doubters and skeptics that his committees’ job is to school boffins until they understand that science is whatever politicians say it is.

Lamar Smith basically admitted that his committee is now a tool to advance his own political agenda rather than a forum to examine important issues facing the US research community.

“Next week we’re going to have a hearing on our favourite subject of climate change and also on the scientific method, which has been repeatedly ignored by the so-called self-professed climate scientists,” Smith told the Heartland Institute’s 12th annual conference on climate change in Washington, D.C.

The audience cheered loudly as Smith named the boffins who he was summoning to reinforce his view that climate change is a politically driven fabrication which is designed to stop America being great again.

He is also calling out Michael Mann, a climate researcher at Pennsylvania State University in State College and a frequent target of climate change doubters. “That’s why this hearing is going to be so much fun,” Smith said with a huge grin on his normally impassive face.

Since President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump was elected, Smith is a lot more public about dismissing those who disagree with his flat earth view of the world. One of his efforts involves changing the vocabulary of the debate so that instead of talking about climate science, people about “climate studies”.

He also wants the word progressive to be replaced by the much tainted word “liberal”. Liberal should also be used to replace the word ‘mainstream’ when used with media.

Smith also signalled that he wants an end to federally funded research that doesn’t fit his definition of “sound science”. He expressed support for writing legislation that would punish scientific journals that publish research that does not fit standards of peer review designed by Smith and his committee.