Study showing home-learning cuts maths ability by 50% rings alarm bells in Thailand #SootinClaimon.Com

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Study showing home-learning cuts maths ability by 50% rings alarm bells in Thailand

Jan 19. 2021

By The Nation

The government’s Equitable Education Fund (EEF) has presented research showing students lose 50 per cent of their maths knowledge and 30 per cent of their reading literacy after prolonged home-learning away from school. Thousands of Thai students are learning from home after all schools in 28 provinces under maximum Covid-19 controls were closed earlier this month. As a result, learning conditions have deteriorated, said EEF education economist Pumsaran Tongliemnak on Monday.

He cited a study by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) which found that spending a long time at home cut students’ maths knowledge by half and their reading literacy by almost a third. Learning via screens affects mental health as well as social and emotional development, Pumsaran commented.

The NWEA study’s results are consistent with research from Massachusetts’ Institute of Technology (MIT) which shows learning through educational technology alone does not compensate for non-school effects such as declining knowledge, lack of social experience, poor access to proper nutrition and also age-appropriate study.

Pumsaran said that although Thailand has yet to study the affect of Covid-19 on education, there was enough available evidence to predict inequality impacts on Thai education in two key areas.

These were students falling out of the education system, and a decline in learning and health development among vulnerable groups – especially disadvantaged children, those in remote areas, children with disabilities, and those who need special education.

Pumsaran predicted that prolonged home-schooling would widen the education inequality gap between rural and city children by two school years. In the long-term, it may affect economic inequality by causing the cycle of poverty across generations to continue, he added.

Kraiyos Patrawart, deputy managing director at EEF, said Thailand’s educational inequality in the three years before Covid-19 had improved among the poorest households in terms of class absence rate.

However, the fresh Covid-19 outbreak had meant that 143,507 extremely poor children in the 28 “maximum control” provinces could have no school for two semesters or 40 per cent of the academic year.

“The biggest concern is children’s learning development and growth. We should make the most of the remaining three months [of the academic year] if schools can open as normal, with teachers checking students’ health and learning, running after-school programmes, and monitoring the gap of classes for children in remote areas,” said Kraiyos.

Arab Israeli entrepreneurs aim to join tech boom with Emirati backing #SootinClaimon.Com

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Arab Israeli entrepreneurs aim to join tech boom with Emirati backing

Jan 18. 2021

By The Washington Post · Shira Rubin · BUSINESS, WORLD, TECHNOLOGY, MIDDLE-EAST 

TEL AVIV – Amir Ounallah is an Arab entrepreneur from northern Israel looking to integrate artificial intelligence-based robotics into the e-commerce site he runs at an organic farm outside of Nazareth. But he needs an investor. 

Now, after the agreement last summer between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations, Ounallah is angling for some of the big Emirati money that is already starting to flow into Israel.

For some of the 2 million Arab citizens of Israel, mainly Palestinians who remained inside Israel’s borders after its 1948 war of independence, the newfound access to the UAE is a chance to form economic and cultural ties that had long been officially off limits. 

The prospect of connecting with the UAE and other wealthy Arab states is especially intriguing for the Arab Israeli tech community. Over the past two decades, Arab Israelis have watched from the sidelines as their Jewish neighbors translated military experience into multibillion-dollar start-ups, especially in areas like cybersecurity, and Israel became home to the highest per capita concentration of start-ups in the world, according to Startup Genome, a San Francisco-based research group. Arab Israelis hope Emirati finance can get them in the game. 

The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, has blasted the agreement between Israel and the UAE for undermining Palestinian efforts to end Israel’s occupation and establish an independent state. But some Arab citizens inside Israel itself hold a more nuanced view.

Ounallah said he wants the “injustices” suffered by Palestinians to be addressed and believes that business ties might help along the way. “I don’t think anybody, on either side, has the magic answer,” he said. “But building community around entrepreneurship – that makes me proud as a Palestinian.”

In the months after the Israeli-UAE deal, many Arab Israelis joined thousands of their Jewish counterparts who flocked to the UAE’s largest cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, seeking to cash in on the multibillion-dollar Emirati market. New government-approved trade deals and direct flights between Tel Aviv and the UAE eliminated significant logistical hassle for business leaders like Ounallah, who had used a second passport, circuitous flight paths, and third-party affiliates when trying to collaborate with Emirati partners on a previous joint venture. 

Ounallah is now planning to apply to the “Tawasul” venture capital fund, backed by Emirati investors to finance early-stage Arab Israeli start-ups. 

He said he is looking to enhance the e-commerce site based at his Bustana organic farm, where he grows crops like almonds and green leafy vegetables, to increase communication between farmers and customers, eliminate food waste and minimize backbreaking manual work. Ounallah said he would eventually like to export his organic farming system to the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries that are now largely dependent on food imports. 

Mahmoud Kayal, an Arab Israeli physician and tech investor, is working with Emirati financiers to launch the $30-million “Tawasul” fund, or “Connection” fund in Arabic. “This is a pure business opportunity,” he said.

Along with a booming cadre of Jewish entrepreneurs, Kayal sees a chance to join Israeli tech know-how with Emirati investors. Looking beyond business, he hopes the venture will bring Palestinians closer to neighbors from whom they have been largely isolated for decades. 

“It’s also a social, patriotic opportunity to reconnect with the Arab world. 48-ers have this feeling that they are the forgotten son, but it’s important to add to their mind-set that they belong to a very big nation that can support them,” said Kayal, using a nickname for Arab Israelis.

Thani Al-Shirawi, an Emirati businessman who is considering investing in Israeli water technology companies, said that he is looking to soon add Arab Israeli businesses to his investment portfolio. He says that addition would be a selling point for socially conscious Emirati and Arab customers.

He brushed aside the concerns over the normalization deal coming from Palestinians, inside both Israel and the occupied territories, saying he was “very optimistic, because it cannot get worse for them. Anything will be better than what they have now.” 

For more than 70 years, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a precondition for normalization between most Arab countries and Israel. But in recent months, there have been a flurry of deals formalizing Israel’s ties first with the UAE and then Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. 

While many Arab Israelis have been disappointed that the agreements bypassed Palestinian national aspirations, there is some optimism that the standing of Israel’s Arab citizens could benefit. Arabs represent about 20 percent of Israel’s population, and over the past decade, efforts to promote the civil rights of this minority have emerged as its top priority.

When an Emirati investor last month bought half of Beitar Jerusalem, the country’s infamously anti-Arab soccer club, its Jewish owner said the move paved the way to “new days of coexistence, achievement and brotherhood.”

Emirati investments are now coveted in a growing number of Arab Israeli tech hubs in cities like Nazareth, Haifa and Kfar Kassem. The founders and employees of about 300 Arab Israeli start-ups include Israeli citizens who have studied at Haifa’s vaunted Technion Institute – Israel’s version of MIT where Arabs make up more than 20 percent of the students – and who have worked at the Israeli offices of companies like Google, Apple and Intel.

This start-up scene contrasts with those in other Arab cities like Cairo, and Amman, Jordan, or among the few dozen start-ups in Ramallah in the West Bank, which tend to be ventures that primarily provide Arab translation for companies like Uber, Amazon and Booking.com. 

Ehab Jabareen, an Arab Israeli businessman who moonlighted as a brand consultant for Israelis quietly seeking to break into the Dubai market before the normalization agreement, said that Palestinians inside Israel are warming up to the UAE in ways reminiscent of 1979, following the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

Immediately after that deal was signed, Arab Israelis vowed to boycott Egypt out of solidarity with the Palestinian cause but within a few months began to open textile, cotton and olive oil factories that benefited from Egypt’s cheap labor supply.

“Palestinians in Israel see themselves as part of the Arab identity, and we are thirsty for these kinds of relationships,” said Jabareen. “There may have been shock in the beginning, but we’ve moved on.”

Dating apps are using Capitol images to ban rioters’ accounts #SootinClaimon.Com

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Dating apps are using Capitol images to ban rioters’ accounts

Jan 17. 2021

By The Washington Post · Drew Harwell, Lisa Bonos, Craig Timberg

WASHINGTON – Tinder, Bumble and other dating apps are using images captured from inside the Capitol siege and other evidence to identify and ban rioters’ accounts, causing immediate consequences for those who participated as police move toward making hundreds of arrests.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/ed2abf27-38f2-4f79-919e-e65682e37661?ptvads=block&playthrough=false

Women and men have in some cases also turned the dating apps into hunting grounds, striking up conversations with rioters, gathering potentially incriminating photos or confessions, then relaying them to the FBI. Using the dating apps to pursue members of the mob has become a viral pursuit, with tips shared on Twitter and some women changing their location on the dating apps to Washington, D.C. in hopes of snaring a potential suspect.

The moves cast a spotlight on how some unlikely sources have helped expand a digital dragnet for participants in a siege with deeply online roots, fueled by viral conspiracy theories, organized on social media and live-streamed in real-time.

They also show how people are attempting to use the same tools to fight back, including by contributing to a wide-scale manhunt for dating-app users who played a part in the violent attack.

Amanda Spataro, a 25-year-old logistics coordinator in Tampa, called it her “civic duty” to swipe through dating apps for men who’d posted incriminating pictures of themselves. On Bumble, she found one man with a picture that seemed likely to have come from the insurrection; his response to a prompt about his “perfect first date” was: “Storming the Capitol.”

“Most people, you think if you’re going to commit a crime, you’re not going to brag about it,” Spataro said in an interview.

After swiping right in hopes she could get more information out of him, she said he responded that he did visit the Capitol and sent more pictures as proof. She later contacted the FBI tip line.

Some onlookers have celebrated the viral hunt as a creative form of digital comeuppance. But some privacy advocates said the episode reveals a worrying truth about pervasive public surveillance and the opaque connections between private companies and law enforcement. Some also worry about people being misidentified by amateur investigators and other risks that can arise when vigilantes try to take crime-fighting into their own hands.

“These people deserve the right to seek a partner in one of the few ways we have to socialize during the pandemic, and seek love,” said Liz O’Sullivan, technology director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a New York-based nonprofit group fighting discriminatory surveillance.

“It’s one more example of how these tech companies can impact our lives without our feedback,” she added. “What if this was happening to Black Lives Matters protesters? . . . At the end of the day, it’s just so much power.”

Both Bumble and Match Group – which also owns Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, PlentyofFish and Match – said they were working to remove users known to be involved in the Capitol siege from their platforms.

“We always encourage our community to block and report anyone who is acting against our guidelines, and we have already banned users who have used our platform to spread insurrectionist content or who have attempted to organize and incite terrorism,” Bumble said in an unsigned statement. “As always, if someone has or is in the process of committing a potentially criminal act on our platform, we will take the appropriate steps with law enforcement.”

A Bumble official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because company officials have received violent threats following past policy changes, said app employees have reviewed images taken inside and around the Capitol during the siege and banned accounts that “spread insurrectionist content or who have attempted to organize and incite terrorism.”

Bumble uses software to scan users’ dating profiles and biographies for “text content that promotes the insurrection or related activities,” the official said. Accounts can be banned for promoting racism, encouraging violence or spreading falsehoods about Trump’s election loss.

Dating apps have also worked to ban anyone who has been arrested or publicly identified by law enforcement as having taken part in the attack.

Match Group said it has banned rioters’ accounts based on long-established rules against promoting or inciting violence. Match spokeswoman Vidhya Murugesan declined to say how many had been punished in this way.

“We have, and will continue, to ban any users wanted by the FBI in connection with domestic terrorism from all of our brands, and we always cooperate with law enforcement in their investigations,” Murugesan said.

Many women in Washington over the past two weeks had taken notice of a surge in conservative men on dating apps, many wearing “Make America Great Again” hats or other markers of support for President Donald Trump rarely seen in an overwhelmingly Democratic city.

The FBI has set up an anonymous tip line for reports on people who might have breached the Capitol. In a statement last week, the bureau said they’d received more than 100,000 “digital media tips” from a wide range of sources.

Federal investigators have used airline passenger manifests, video live streams, social media posts, news reports, cellphone location data and other evidence to support their charges and find suspects.

Law enforcement officials would not say how many tips came from dating apps but have said they are reviewing all evidence. More than 100 people have been charged in connection to the riots, and hundreds of other cases are still under investigation.

“Even your friends and family are tipping us off,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono said at a recent press briefing. “So you might want to consider turning yourself in instead of wondering when we’re going to come knocking on your door. Because we will.”

The overlapping issues of law enforcement, privacy and user safety are complicated for dating apps. Police or prosecutors seeking data – especially if they have search warrants – give companies little room to object unless they are already encrypting data in ways that can’t be readily retrieved, as Apple and some other companies have done with some kinds of user communications.

Using publicly available data to purge users who may have been involved in a crime – especially one as visible and troubling as the Capitol attack – requires tougher trade-offs.

Some would argue it’s unfair to delete the account of someone merely on the grounds of the Capitol that day, as opposed to someone known to have entered the building or committed other crimes, such as vandalism and theft. But a dating app’s users may reasonably expect to not get connected to somebody known to participate in what many regard as an illegal insurrection designed to disrupt a democratic process.

At the same time, the available identification technologies are imperfect. Privacy experts question whether any company should be taking action against users merely because they are believed to have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 – before formal adjudication or even arrests by authorities.

“There’s a likely challenge of both false positives and false negatives,” said Ashkan Soltani, distinguished fellow at Georgetown Law Center’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy. “I’m not sure a dating app should be in the business of trying to make these determinations.”

Soltani said that the issues facing the dating apps are difficult ones, with a range of possible solutions. The apps could alert individual users that a person they have expressed interest in may have participated in the Capitol takeover, or they could allow individual users to identify themselves as participants by hitting a built-in button, similar to the “I Voted” tag some social media companies offer on election days. Blocking users outright based on analysis of images, especially before arrest or adjudication, struck him as “over-moderation” by the apps.

Dating apps have a history of using human moderators and automated software to scan for problematic content, thanks in large part to male users with a habit of sending unwanted photos of their genitals. (Such accounts are immediately banned.)

A Bumble spokesman said the dating app also scans users’ profile photos and biographies for weapons, hate symbols or offensive language. Conversations between matched users are not moderated unless one of the users reports the chat for abuse.

Major social media sites, messaging services and discussion forums routinely use automated software to scan for images, video or discussion of sexual abuse, terrorism and other crimes.

Algorithms scan images and video to see whether they match any clips in databases of problematic content, such as child sexual abuse material or child pornography; they also look through user profiles or posts to analyze whether they include hate speech, threatening language or racial slurs.

As the digital hunt for Capitol siege suspects was underway, Bumble on Wednesday removed a feature in the U.S. that allowedpeople to filter prospective matches by their political leanings, saying in a statement that the filter had been used “in a manner contrary to our terms and conditions.”

Some amateur insurrectionist-hunters criticized the company for instituting a change they said only protected rioters. But Bumble said the filter could have been misused to target people, including those who self-identified as “conservative” but did not participate in the siege. Bumble has since restored the politics filter after implementing what it called new “moderation tools and protocols.”

The move could dim the romantic opportunities for people like Brandon Fellows, who posted Snapchat videos of himself as he wandered the Capitol and smoked a joint in a senator’s office.

He later told Bloomberg that his Bumble profile was “blowing up” after he posted his Capitol photos, but did not provide evidence. The company said his account was immediately banned.

Lidar tech on the rise at CES to power future smart cities, autonomous cars #SootinClaimon.Com

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Lidar tech on the rise at CES to power future smart cities, autonomous cars

Jan 17. 2021Seoul Robotics launched a new product to equip urban cities with 3-D vision. MUST CREDIT: Seoul Robotics.Seoul Robotics launched a new product to equip urban cities with 3-D vision. MUST CREDIT: Seoul Robotics.

By The Washington Post · Dalvin Brown

Mobility analysts, urban planners and AI companies bill widespread lidar as a building block for future urban societies, where autonomous vehicles, smart homes and infrastructure work together to create “smart” cities.

Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, is a sensing method that enables devices to glean what an object is based on its shape. In theory, when deployed on traffic lights, in parking lots and on enough vehicles, the technology could help contextualize what’s happening outside so cities can better manage energy and security. It could also manage traffic congestion.

The tech has been around since at least the 1970s. However, it was considered too expensive and complicated for companies in a broad range of industries to utilize. That is until now, according to HanBin Lee, founder of South Korea-based Seoul Robotics, a computer vision company.

Prices have come down so much that the tech is found in the latest model iPhones. It’s how robot vacuums see what’s around your home. It’s at the center of several thought-provoking product announcements to come out of this year’s CES, a large, global tech conference that took place this week.

Seoul Robotics launched Discovery, a software and hardware service to interpret light and radar data for factories, retailers, automakers and more. Other companies announced lidar applications for autonomous consumer cars and robotaxis, with Intel’s Mobileye that passenger vehicles will be self-driving by 2025.

The technology has its limitations, particularly on cars. It produces lower resolution images than cameras and tends to cost more. However, lidar represents a growing market and is projected to triple to almost $3 billion by 2025. Forward-thinking tech companies at CES say they’re hoping to take advantage of it. Here are some of the most innovative lidar products and ideas.

Seoul Robotics says it wanted to take the siloed industry of lidar software and expand it to the masses. Essentially, the software company developed what it calls an easy-to-use “plug-and-play” lidar system that allows a wide range of organizations to benefit from 3-D sensors.

For instance, retail stores could use it to understand where people are moving and whether patrons are social distancing. Cities could use it on highway offramps to detect vehicles going the wrong way.

Its offering is meant to analyze and interpret 3-D data from most available lidar products. It was built to unlock “autonomy through infrastructure,” Lee said.

Seoul Robotics already has a few big-name partnerships under its belt, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It also partnered with the lidar company Velodyne on office monitoring tech for Qualcomm. Seoul Robotic’s software has been installed in parking lots to help automate cars. BMW used it to move driverless vehicles via wireless Internet connections.

“So basically, this infrastructure takes over the vehicle. And thousands of vehicles can be automated with just a few sensors,” Lee said.

Intel’s MobilEye said at the trade show that it developed a strategy for making highly automated cars safe enough to use on roads across the globe by 2025.

The company, a leading player in automotive technology, plans to leverage crowdsourced mapping, a camera-based computer vision system and a lidar suite to achieve its goal.

MobileEye, which Intel snapped up in 2017, has been testing its mapping technology in Munich and plans to use cameras built into production vehicles to map the world. The company claims to have already mapped nearly 621 million miles, setting a foundation for autonomous cars to follow.

Pending regulatory approval, Mobileye will expand its fleet of autonomous test vehicles to New York City by the end of the year, the company says.

Its project relies on two independent computer vision systems to ensure that vehicles are safer in self-driving mode than if a human were controlling the car. One is a camera-based system that is advanced enough to power the car autonomously, and the other is a lidar and radar-based system that’s strong enough to do the same thing.

The two approaches are fused along with the 3-D maps allowing “safety-critical performance that is at least three orders of magnitude safer than humans,” according to Mobileye. Pending regulatory approval, Mobileye will expand its fleet of autonomous test vehicles to New York City by the end of the year.

The Munich-based start-up Blickfeld showed two new lidar sensors for cars meant to hit the market in three to four years. The 3-D sensors, dubbed Vision Mini and Vision Plus, are designed to produce a surround-view “that is crucial for automated urban traffic as well as robotic vehicles,” according to the company.

The Mini is small, roughly five centimeters long and is meant to detect closer range objects around a vehicle. It’s customizable to fit within a vehicle’s design scheme, according to the company. The larger Vision Plus can pick up things 650 feet in front of and behind cars with self-driving features. Together, they’re designed to enable cars to handle more than one automated task at a time.

A combination of six sensors are needed for 360-degree views, unlocking level four autonomous capabilities, says Florian Petit, founder of Blickfeld. The company is working with production partners to meet what it sees as a rapidly increasing demand.

“We saw that there’s a huge gap between the cars produced to be autonomous eventually and the number of lidars produced,” Petit said.

Innovative armoury for battle against Covid-19 #SootinClaimon.Com

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Innovative armoury for battle against Covid-19

Jan 15. 2021

By The Nation
Photos by Supakit Khumkun

The King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang unveiled an innovation on Friday that can be used to help fight the new wave of Covid-19 infections.

The innovative machine includes an emergency breathing device, a closed disinfection system, an AI-based individual screening system, a negative pressure cabinet, mobile positive pressure testing unit and a powered air-purifying respirator suit.

The institute also unveiled RAIBO-X, a robot that can kill different kinds of viruses using UV-C light.

On Friday, Thailand ranked 128th on the global list of most cases, while the US tops the list with 23.85 million, followed by India 10.53 million, Brazil 8.32 million, Russia 3.49 million and the United Kingdom 3.26 million.

Galaxy S21 comes with striking design change, most powerful processor #SootinClaimon.Com

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Galaxy S21 comes with striking design change, most powerful processor

Jan 15. 2021Samsung President Roh Tae-moon showcases Galaxy S21 lineup during a virtual Unpacked show Thursday at midnight. (Samsung Electronics)Samsung President Roh Tae-moon showcases Galaxy S21 lineup during a virtual Unpacked show Thursday at midnight. (Samsung Electronics)

By Song Su-hyun
The Korea Herald/ANN

Samsung Galaxy S21, unveiled Thursday at midnight, boasts a new, striking design and is equipped with the most powerful processor yet. Plus, it comes with a lowered price tag.

Samsung streamed the Galaxy S21 Unpacked show through various online channels to introduce its flagship smartphones for 2021 — Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra — one month earlier than previous years. The Ultra model supports the S Pen stylus for the first time. Samsung also introduced Galaxy Buds Pro with noise cancelling and wind shield capabilities for the first time.

The biggest change made for the S21 series is elevated, new design.

Samsung has introduced what is called “Contour Cut Camera” referring to the rear camera module that seamlessly blends into the device’s metal frame for a sleeker aesthetic.

In addition to the design change, S21 and S21+ will be available in a new range of colors including the signature Phantom Violet color for the new series. And each device is coated with a luxurious haze finish on the back for a more sophisticated look.

Galaxy S21 is designed for those who want a light design with a compact 6.2-inch display, while S21+ sports an expanded 6.7-inch display and a larger battery, which would be perfect for marathon gamers and binge-watchers, Samsung described.

“We are living in a mobile-first world, and with so many of us working remotely and spending more time at home, we wanted to deliver a smartphone experience that meets the rigorous multimedia demands of our continuously changing routines,” said Roh Tae-moon, president of IT and mobile communications business at Samsung. “We also recognize the importance of choice, especially now, and that’s why the Galaxy S21 series gives you the freedom to choose the best device for your style and needs.”

The S21 and S21+ models feature the FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O display with an adaptive refresh rate of 120-hertz for smoother scrolling and viewing.

The 6.8-inch Galaxy S21 Ultra sports the QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O display, which Samsung calls “the most intelligence screen yet.” 

(Samsung Electronics)(Samsung Electronics)
 

Compared with the Galaxy S20, S21 Ultra offers a 25 percent brighter picture at a 1,500 nits of peak brightness, the brightest on a Galaxy smartphone. And with a 50 percent improved contrast ratio, it delivers crystal-clear, immersive images, even when outside.

To help reduce eye fatigue on all three devices, Samsung has newly adopted what they call the Eye Comfort Shield that automatically adjusts the blue light based on the time of day, the type of content users view, and at bedtime.

The Galaxy S21 series camera boasts pro-grade enhancements with increased artificial intelligence capabilities, Samsung said.

Samsung newly introduced a Director’s View that allows users to capture video by using both front and rear cameras simultaneously for real-time reactions, allowing users to preview or change the angle, zoom or go wide without losing any action. Paired with the newly unveiled Galaxy Buds Pro, users can capture both ambient sounds and voice at the same time using multiple mic recording. 

(Samsung Electronics)(Samsung Electronics)
 

Galaxy S21 and S21+ feature an AI-powered triple-lens pro-grade camera system that helps users capture better shots that automatically adjusts in accordance with its surroundings. For example, in Portrait Mode, the AI-powered camera leverages an improved 3D analysis that more accurately separates the subject from the background. It also brings in options for virtual studio lighting and AI background effects to make sure the subject pops from the frame.

With Ultra, Samsung continues to pivot on offering the best-in-class camera experience, it said.

Samsung describes the Ultra camera system as the most advanced pro-grade ever yet.

It has a quad rear camera, consisting of ultra-wide, wide and dual tele-lenses, which features an upgraded 108-megapixel pro sensor, from which users can capture 12-bit HDR photos with 64 times richer color data and more than three times wider dynamic range.

For the first time on a Galaxy smartphone, users can shoot in 4K at 60fps across all lenses including front and rear four lenses.

When zooming in on S21 Ultra, users do not have to worry about sacrificing clarity. The Galaxy S21 Ultra features 100x Space Zoom which is powered by Samsung’s first-ever Dual-tele lens system – one optical 3x and one optical 10x both equipped Dual Pixel autofocus.

Ultra also features an improved Bright Night sensor, the biggest leap yet in low-light photography along with noise reduction and 12MP Nona-binning technology, Samsung said.

Such improved AI capabilities have been possible with the backing of the latest smartphone chipsets, according to the smartphone maker.

The Galaxy S21 features the latest and most advanced smartphone chipset Exynos 2100 built on cutting-edge 5-nanometer process technology for greater speed and energy efficiency.

In Korea, Samsung will start taking preorders on Friday through Jan. 21.

The official launch date is set for Jan. 29 globally.

The 256-gigabyte Galaxy S21 and S21+ models will retail for 999,900 won ($911) and 1.19 million won each. The Galaxy S21 Ultra will be 1.45 million won for 256GB, and 1.59 million won for 512GB.

Samsung Launches Galaxy S21 Phones With Lower Prices, AirPods Rival in Tow #SootinClaimon.Com

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Samsung Launches Galaxy S21 Phones With Lower Prices, AirPods Rival in Tow

Jan 15. 2021The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone at the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in New York Jan. 13, 2021. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Nina Westervelt.The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone at the Samsung Unpacked product launch event in New York Jan. 13, 2021. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Nina Westervelt.

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Mark Gurman, Sohee Kim

Samsung Electronics Co. on Thursday debuted three Galaxy S21 smartphones, upgraded earbuds and a gadget to track physical items, setting out its stall to compete with Apple Inc.’s existing and future device range.

The South Korean company’s new flagship handsets are $200 cheaper than last year’s lineup across the board: the Galaxy S21 starts at $799.99, matching the iPhone 12, while the larger S21+ is $999.99 and the upgraded S21 Ultra costs $1,199.99. The price drops are an acknowledgement of the current pandemic-riddled economy where consumers are holding off on non-essential purchases as well as a move to ward off rising competition from the likes of Xiaomi Corp.

Samsung said it sees a “bifurcation” in the smartphone market, between consumers wanting the very latest tech and more cost-sensitive shoppers, which has motivated its new strategy. It’s a similar approach to Apple’s split of the iPhone line into standard, Pro and Pro Max models that differ in cost, materials, size and camera specs.

The Galaxy S21 series come in roughly the same dimensions as last year – going from the 6.2-inch S21 to the 6.8-inch Ultra – though Samsung has reduced the resolution and memory of the two smaller phones, moves likely made to accommodate the lower prices. In the U.S., Samsung will be relying on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor while other markets will get its latest in-house Exynos 2100 system-on-chip. Both mark a move to more advanced 5nm manufacturing, catching up with the silicon already inside Apple and Huawei Technologies Co.’s latest devices.

This year, Samsung is emphasizing its cameras both in the design and function of its new devices. The rear camera module dominates one corner of each handset and adds enhancements like steadier video recording, better depth measurement for portrait shots and a smattering of artificial intelligence enhancements to make functions like digital zoom more effective.

Google’s Android 11 serves as the default operating system and Samsung offers 5G wireless connectivity and IP68 water resistance across its trio of new devices.

The pricier S21 Ultra adds support for Samsung’s S Pen digital stylus, the first time Samsung is offering that compatibility for its non-Note phones. The model also differentiates itself with more of everything: it has the biggest screen and battery, highest-resolution display and cameras and more memory and storage options.

“We expect the shipment of S21 series will be around 28 million units by the end of this year,” surpassing the incumbent S20 series’ performance, said Counterpoint Research analyst Sujeong Lim ahead of the announcement. “The biggest factor to impact the shipment will be pricing.”

Agreeing that price will play a pivotal role, IDC analyst Bryan Ma said “Samsung faces pressure from Chinese players like Xiaomi in particular, which has also been picking up share from Huawei and is a rapidly rising threat to Samsung in regions like Western Europe.”

The new $199.99 Galaxy Buds Pro expand Samsung’s lineup of true wireless earbuds, marking an upgrade from the Galaxy Buds of 2019 and Buds+ from last year. The new earphones are more discreet, add improved water resistance and step up the audio quality, according to Samsung. The company also said the Buds Pro can automatically switch between noise-cancelling mode and letting exterior sound in based on whether their user is speaking.

Though the AirPods are the best known example of this category, it has been growing faster – largely on the strength of smaller Chinese upstarts – than even Apple’s successful lineup. The Cupertino, California-based company is planning to release updates to both its AirPods and AirPods Pro variants, Bloomberg News has reported.

Samsung’s $29.99 Galaxy SmartTag Bluetooth dongle attaches to valuables such as keys, bags or pet collars and makes those items trackable via a mobile app. This device anticipates Apple’s long-in-the-works AirTags accessory, which is expected to add similar locator functionality for iPhone users.

The new phones go on sale Jan. 29 and U.S. pre-orders will be incentivized with free SmartTags and up to $200 of Samsung Credit to spend on extra gear and accessories. The Galaxy Buds Pro will be available from Jan. 15.

Why WhatsApp’s new privacy rules are sparking alarm #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Why WhatsApp’s new privacy rules are sparking alarm

Jan 14. 2021The Facebook WhatsApp logo in an arranged photograph on April 29, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer.The Facebook WhatsApp logo in an arranged photograph on April 29, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer.

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Nate Lanxon

Facebook’s WhatsApp has begun alerting its 2 billion users to an update of its privacy policy — and if they want to keep using the popular messaging app, they have to accept it. The new terms, delivered in early 2021, have caused an outcry among technology experts, privacy advocates, billionaire entrepreneurs and government organizations and triggered a wave of defections to rival services. WhatsApp says the change is necessary to help it integrate better with other Facebook products.

1. What does the policy say?

WhatsApp is now reserving the right to share data it collects about you with the broader Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of whether you have accounts or profiles there. Much of the policy, which is about monetizing WhatsApp, is broadly in line with what came before, and states that “WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the other Facebook Companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate” and market services. For long-time users, the option to share data with Facebook was made available in 2016, but it was just that: optional and temporary. From Feb. 8 it’s mandatory for everybody.

2. Can Facebook read my WhatsApp now?

No. Conversations with your friends are encrypted end-to-end, meaning not even WhatsApp itself can access them. However, by using WhatsApp you may be sharing with it your usage data, as well as your phone’s unique identifier, among other types of so-called metadata. These may be linked to your identity, according to WhatsApp on its listing in Apple’s App Store, and it’s this data the privacy policy stipulates must now be agreed can be shared with Facebook.

3. Why does Facebook want the data?

It says it needs it to help operate and improve its offerings. More broadly, almost all of the $21.5 billion in revenue Facebook generated in the third quarter of 2020 came from ads, and there are none in WhatsApp. The company wants to be able to serve more targeted ads to people on Facebook and Instagram by also knowing their usage habits on WhatsApp, and let businesses take payments in WhatsApp for items that, for instance, were clicked on in Instagram ads.

4. What’s the fallout?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s media office and his country’s defense ministry said they’re dropping WhatsApp. Technology billionaire Elon Musk endorsed rival app Signal to his 42 million Twitter followers. The registration service for Signal crashed after an influx of new users overwhelmed its servers. On Jan 10., it tweeted: “We continue to shatter traffic records and add capacity as more and more people come to terms with how much they dislike Facebook’s new terms.”

5. Is the policy the same globally?

No. There’s a difference in the text for Europe compared with the rest of the world. In the U.S., for instance, WhatsApp explicitly says it wants to be able to let users start connecting their Facebook Pay account “to pay for things on WhatsApp,” and let them chat with friends on other Facebook products, such as Portal, “by connecting your WhatsApp account.” This text does not appear in the version applicable to Europe.

6. Why is Europe being treated differently?

European data protection authorities, which under the European Union’s strict privacy laws are empowered to fine companies as much as 4% of global annual revenue if they breach the bloc’s rules, in 2016 had expressed “serious concerns” about the sharing of WhatsApp user data. EU antitrust authorities in 2017 fined Facebook 110 million euros ($134 million) for misleading regulators during a 2014 review of its takeover of WhatsApp but stopped short of overturning the merger approval. Facebook had told EU regulators during the review it technically wasn’t possible to combine WhatsApp data with its other services.

7. Who benefits from the privacy policy changes?

Businesses, mainly. WhatsApp says companies will be able to use new tools to communicate with, and sell to, customers on Facebook’s platform. It also said that specifically for the messages exchanged between a user and a company, that business “can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.” But other beneficiaries include rival services such as Signal, the messaging app run by a foundation created by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton after he sold that company to Facebook. Signal, which relies on donations rather than advertisers for money, said it’s seen a surge in downloads following WhatsApp’s privacy policy update.

When the going gets tough, ‘cartoonify’ yourself #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

When the going gets tough, ‘cartoonify’ yourself

Jan 12. 2021

By The Nation

Thai netizens have found the perfect way to take the hard edge off Covid-19 reality – by using an app that turns them into cartoons.

The Toonme website and smartphone app allows people to convert photos of themselves into cartoons in different styles, and is proving popular among Thai youngsters.

People can upload their pictures at https://toonme.com/ or on the smartphone app downloaded from Google Play Store or Apple Store. Super-smart AI then converts the pics into cartoon characters within minutes.

The smartphone app version is free for the first three days, after which it costs US$4.99 (Bt150) monthly or Bt300 annually.

Bans on Parler and Trump show Big Tech’s power over web conversation #SootinClaimon.Com

#SootinClaimon.Com : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation.

Bans on Parler and Trump show Big Tech’s power over web conversation

Jan 12. 2021The Parler logo on a laptop computer arranged in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Dec. 18, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Gabby JonesThe Parler logo on a laptop computer arranged in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Dec. 18, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Gabby Jones

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Sarah Frier

As Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. banished users and groups supporting the violent mobs at the U.S. Capitol last week — including President Donald Trump himself — downloads surged for a less restrictive social media app called Parler. But in an effort to prevent further riot organizing, Google Inc. and Apple Inc. booted Parler from their app stores, and Amazon.com Inc. shut off its web services.

“We will not cave to pressure from anti-competitive actors!” John Matze, Parler Inc.’s chief executive officer, said on his site Friday. “We WON’T cave to politically motivated companies and those authoritarians who hate free speech!”

In reality, Matze doesn’t have much choice. His free-speech-centric network, where some extremists turned to rally insurgents and organize future uprisings, was deemed an “ongoing and urgent public safety threat” by Google. Apple quickly rejected as insufficient a Parler plan to moderate its content. Amazon employees asked that the web giant “deny Parler services until it removes posts inciting violence, including at the Presidential inauguration.”

Access to the website appeared to be cut off after midnight Sunday in California when Amazon shut down access to its servers. With an internet ecosystem dominated by a few big players, the app has little chance of survival without access to these mainstream channels.

The Parler restrictions underscore how technology companies have increasingly been held accountable for the potential consequences of what happens on their services, where they have greater visibility than governments do — and the ability to take quicker action. For years, large tech companies avoided such debates by claiming to be content-neutral. Meddling and misinformation campaigns in the 2016 presidential election made it clear that these companies, and their software algorithms and content moderation, had real-world impact.

Now, pressured by lawmakers, civil rights advocates and even their own workers, the big tech companies are realizing just how much power and responsibility they have over public conversation — including over apps they didn’t create.

Such monopoly-like powers are already under scrutiny by U.S. regulators, with Google and Facebook battling government antitrust lawsuits. At the same time, the companies have come under fire for their lackadaisical practices on content moderation, when being too permissive on incendiary speech can lead to real-world violence or illegal activity.

The tech companies’ moves were mostly applauded by government officials and critics, and many openly asked why it took so long to crack down. But their subjective nature worried some advocates.

“It should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier,” Kate Ruane, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement after Trump was banned on the platforms. “It is our hope that these companies will apply their rules transparently to everyone.”

Parler already faced major hurdles. The company is seeking to take on much larger services with established user bases, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The Henderson, Nevada-based upstart network gained some traction in 2020 as it capitalized on fears of anti-conservative bias by the main platforms, and it worked. Backed by Trump supporter Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge fund investor Robert Mercer, Parler was the top program on Apple’s App store Saturday before it was banned, with millions of total downloads. The app functions similarly to Twitter, where users post short messages in a feed where others can follow and interact.

As Twitter and Facebook became increasingly willing to label or fact-check Trump’s content in recent months, some Republican lawmakers and media figures, like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, R, and conservative radio personality Mark Levin, encouraged supporters to follow them on Parler. Yet because of its narrower focus on right-wing users seeking more freedom from the big tech company’s rules, some Parler users complained that it felt like an echo chamber of like-minded people rather than a place to engage in the debate — or conflict — that has become a hallmark of Twitter’s service. Trump himself doesn’t have a Parler account.

While Facebook and Twitter have stricter content policies, those networks were also found to have hosted users planning the mob violence at the Capitol, including those who directed large followings to shift over to Parler. When it permanently axed Trump’s account, Twitter said it saw evidence of new riots planned for Jan. 17, while Facebook said it has taken down 600 militarized social groups so far and was banning posts from those saying they planned to take weapons to government buildings.

The platforms’ artificial intelligence has been improving at catching offending posts, in some cases before they are seen by a significant number of users. Even if the mainstream apps didn’t aggressively take down such content, the overwhelming volume of posts and users also probably means they’d be unlikely to face Parler-level scrutiny from app stores.

“Perfect moderation is impossible but there’s a difference between trying and not trying,” wrote Benedict Evans, an independent technology analyst and former partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, on Twitter. “And these problems are independent of business model — they apply to every network and model.”

Parler CEO Matze encouraged users to find workarounds, like using the website on a browser or installing the app on Android phones through online stores besides Google Play. He also told them to cancel their Amazon subscriptions, dump Apple, and to “call, write and email your congressman and senators and expose this anti-competitive behavior.”

On Sunday, after the crackdown on his app, Matze issued a statement to clarify his earlier comments.

“In an interview this week, some believe I gave the impression that I somehow did not care whether Parler is used to incite violence. I want to set the record straight: That interpretation could not be further from the truth,” he said. “We do not condone or accept violence on our platform and we never will.”

He said Parler’s community guidelines expressly prohibit threats of violence or incitement, and the company has been working to enforce the rules.

Even as its technological backbone is disabled by the tech giants, Parler may continue to exist on a smaller scale. Google restricted Gab, another “free speech”-branded site popular with right-wing extremists, in 2017 for violating its hate speech policy. In 2018, Gab was banned by domain provider GoDaddy.com and PayPal after an anti-Semitic user shot 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Since the Capitol insurrection, Gab has been tweeting about such bans as a badge of honor, and noting that it’s seen a surge in users and job applications, necessitating new servers to keep the site running. “The paradigm shift to new platforms that support free speech will happen overnight,” Gab’s account tweeted. To Parler’s Matze, Gab said, “Best of luck, sincerely.”