SpaceX Starship 15 Lands



SpaceX has had some big wins Crew 1 home from ISS safely. Another launch of Starlink satellites and most impressively the landing of starship 15 without exploding. This is a major win for SpaceX and if they can rinse and repeat this feat over the coming months they will become a much more impressive force in the space industry beyond what they are already. Space is unforgiving so let’s hope that SpaceX can keep this pace up and do so without incident.

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Google Wants Users to Enable Two-Step Verification



Google is encouraging users to enroll in two-step verification (2SV) in order to ensure that the person who attempts to sign in on your account is really you. A post on The Keyword states that the best way to protect your account from a breached or bad password is by having a second form of verification in place.

The 2SV option isn’t new for Google. I opted-in to it a while ago because I believe that 2SV is a good way to protect my gmail from people who aren’t me. I say this as a Mac users who got a gmail account back when it was new and shiny. Those of you who connected your gmail account to a variety of websites might want to consider 2SV protection. That, or see if you can remove your gmail from those websites.

Google announced that users will soon lose the ability to choose for themselves whether or not they want to enroll in Google’s 2SV.

Today, we ask people who have enrolled in two-step verification (2SV) to confirm it’s really them with a simple tap via a Google prompt on their phone whenever they sign in. Soon, we’ll start automatically enrolling users in 2SV if their accounts are appropriately configured… Using their mobile device to sign in gives people safer and more secure authentication experience than passwords alone.

I don’t think Google should require their users to enroll in 2SV if they don’t want to. Having that automatically happen could make some people angry, especially if Google doesn’t give people a way to opt-out.

Google also mentioned their Password Import feature. According to Google, it “allows people to easily upload up to 1,000 passwords at a time from various third party sites into our Password Manager (for free).” Personally, I’m not comfortable handing over all of my passwords to Google. I suspect that other people won’t want to do that, either. To me, it feels like collecting passwords is just one more way for a big company to gather data on people


FCC Net Neutrality Rollback Filled with Fake Comments



New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a report based on an investigation into the 2017 net neutrality rollback. It revealed that 18 million fake comments were filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The full report included the following information:

…In the course of the investigation, the OAG obtained and analyzed tens of thousands of internal emails, planning documents, bank records, invoices, and data comprising of hundreds of millions of records. Our investigation confirmed that many contemporaneous reports of fraud that dogged that rulemaking process. The OAG found that millions of fake comments were submitted through a secret campaign, funded by the country’s broadband companies, to manufacture support for the repeal of existing net neutrality rules using leads generators….

The report found millions more fake comments were submitted by a 19-year-old college student who used automated software to create fake identities. Those fake identities were in favor of net neutrality.

The broadband companies used commercial lead generators that used prizes – like gift cards and sweepstakes entries – to lure consumers to their websites and to join the campaign. Nearly every lead generator that was hired for the campaign “fabricated consumers’ responses.” Those fake responses were against the Obama-era net neutrality rules.

At the time the FCC was seeking comments about the rollback of Obama-era net neutrality rules, reporters noticed that hundreds of thousands of the comments shared identical language. When contacted by reporters, individuals said they never signed it, or never heard of net neutrality. Some who supposedly signed it had died before the comment was signed.

Personally, I think the broadband companies who hired the lead generators should be held accountable for the fraud they helped perpetrate. It is absolutely disgusting to see the lengths they went to in order to thwart the will of the people.


Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Trump’s Suspension



Facebook created an Oversight Board to make the decision on whether or not overturn Trump’s indefinite suspension. Later on, the Oversight Board chose to delay its decision and extended the public comments deadline for this case.

Today, Facebook posted information in their Newsroom titled: “Oversight Board Upholds Facebook’s Decision to Suspend Donald Trump’s Accounts”. It was written by Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communications.

Today, the Oversight Board upheld Facebook’s suspension of former US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. As we stated in January, we believe our decision was necessary and right, and we’re pleased the board has recognized that the unprecedented circumstances justified the exceptional measure we took.

In the post, Nick Clegg stated that the Oversight Board has not required Facebook to immediately restore Mr. Trump’s accounts. It also has not specified the appropriate duration of the penalty. The Oversight Board called the open-ended nature of the suspension an “indeterminate and standardless penalty”. As a result, Facebook will now consider the Oversight Board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate.

In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended.

It is worth pointing out that the Oversight Board’s determination is not binding, which leaves room for Facebook to either chose to follow it – or to ignore it completely. The Oversight Board included a list of recommendations for Facebook to consider, but the company doesn’t have to adhere to any of them.

One of the recommendations stated that Facebook should “provide users with accessible information on how many violations, strikes, and penalties have been assessed against them, and the consequences that will follow future violations.” Personally, I think that would be a good thing for Facebook to implement. It could make people think twice before posting something that breaks Facebook’s terms of service.


SpaceX Approved for 3 Test Flights #1525



SpaceX has been approved for an additional 3 test flights by the FAA for its Boca Chica flight facility. This is a big deal in that they got all three approved at once. We will see if SpaceX can land one upright.

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Samsung unpacks the Galaxy Book range



At today’s Samsung Unpacked event, the South Korean firm unveiled its vision for the future of PCs. A range of high spec ultrabooks with the characteristics of smartphones – mobility, connectivity and continuity. Not once was the word laptop mentioned in the whole presentation, but instead they’re portable PCs. Look like laptops to me…

Regardless, Samsung announced two new high-end Galaxy Books with the thickness of a smartphone and the power of a PC – the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360. The laptops are amazingly thin: the Book Pro is 11.2 mm and the Pro 360 is 11.5 mm. Available in two screen sizes – 13.3″ and 15.6″ – and three colours, the Galaxy Books have the thinnest hinges ever. The screens themselves are just crazy thin – check out the promo pic on the left.

While the Book Pro is a standard clamshell laptop, the Book Pro 360 is a convertible with the screen folding all the way back into a tablet. Talking about the display, it’s a touchscreen AMOLED display with S-Pen support (included in the box). Given the video conferencing world we’re in at the moment, the Galaxy Books come with dual array mics and intelligent noise cancelling. Disappointingly, the camera is only 720p. 5G’s built-in too, just as you’d expect with a mobile phone, though it seems to be only available on the smaller 13″ models.

Partnering with both Intel and Microsoft, the Galaxy Book Pros are the first in a portfolio of collaboratively-produced devices where Samsung has attempted to create deep integration between the hardware and the Windows software. It’s definitely the way to go.

Inside the Galaxy Book is an 11th Gen Intel Core processor (i3, i5, i7) with an Iris X GPU on the higher-end CPUs. It’s powered by a slim custom battery giving 20 hours of video playback or around 16 hours of standard use. The 65W charger (made from recycled materials) will give 8 hours of power in 30 minutes. Where have we heard charging stats like that? Mobile phones, of course. Port-wise, the Book is up-to-date with USB C and Thunderbolt 4.

Samsung is working hard to bring multiple products into a “Galaxy Ecosystem”. For example, the Galaxy Book series brings Samsung SmartThings Dashboard to the PC for the first time. There’s connectivity with the Galaxy smartphones too with apps you’d see on the phone also available on the Book and seamless syncing between the two devices. Android phone apps can be controlled from the Book so there’s no need to switch between laptop and smartphone. And for a second screen, the Galaxy Book can use a Galaxy S7 tablet. It’s all getting very integrated around here.

Of course, the Galaxy Book Pro isn’t going to be cheap. Prices appear to start at US$999/GB£1099 for the Pro and US$1199/GB£1199 for the Pro 360. Preorders are open now with delivery in mid-May.

For those with less deep pockets, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Book, a 15″ laptop that will fold flat. It starts at a much more reasonable price of US$549/GB£699 though it looks like folk in the UK are getting ripped off unless there’s a spec difference. And in news for gamers, Samsung announced the Galaxy Book Odyssey. It comes with a Tiger Lake H CPU and an Nvidia RTX 3050Ti GPU for all those high-performance games. Priced at US$1399.

If you want to review the launch event yourself, it’s here but skip through to about an hour in for the start of the presentation.

 

 


CES Announces Return to Las Vegas for CES 2022



The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced CES 2022, the world’s most influential technology event, will return to Las Vegas next year. Following a successful all-digital CES 2021, CTA will convene the tech industry in-person and digitally, giving a global audience access to major brands and startups, as well as the world’s most-influential leaders and industry advocates. CES heads back to Las Vegas Jan. 5-8, 2022, with Media Days taking place Jan. 3-4, 2022.

Some 1000 companies have committed to showcasing their most innovative technologies in Las Vegas and companies are continuing sign up. Attendees can expect to see global brands including Amazon, AMD, AT&T, Daimler AG, Dell, Google, Hyundai, IBM, Intel, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, and Sony. Companies including Caterpillar, Indy Autonomous Challenge, and Sierra Space are planning to make a Las Vegas debut in 2022. Eureka Park will return with startups representing countries around the world, including large delegations from France, Italy, the Netherlands, and South Korea.

“We’re thrilled to return to Las Vegas – home to CES for more than 40 years – and look forward to seeing many new and returning faces,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “Hundreds of executives have told us how much they need CES to meet new and existing customers, find partners, reach media and discover innovation.”

Digital audiences will also experience the spirit of the live event in Las Vegas. The CES anchor desk, which debuted at CES 2021, will travel to Las Vegas and connect the digital audience with exhibitors, conference sessions, keynotes, and product announcements from the live event. New content will also be added once CES departs Las Vegas, enabling attendees and exhibitors to continue connecting and exploring.

“Our customers are enthusiastic about returning to a live event in Las Vegas,” said Karen Chupka, EVP, CES, CTA. “Global brands and startups have shared that plans are already underway and are committed to sharing the magic of an in-person CES with even more people from around the world.”

CTA will be reviewing guidelines for coronavirus safety measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to state and local guidelines. CTA will be following applicable federal, state, and local laws, adapting CES plans accordingly and sharing updates with its audiences.