Facebook at War with EU! #1476



Facebook is at war with the EU and says the may cease operations in Europe over a data storage ruling that happened in Ireland. Facebook appears to me to be upset and acting like a child bully. It’s highly doubtful that Facebook will cut off collecting data on the 410 million europeans that use Facebook.

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Continue reading Facebook at War with EU! #1476


OnePlus 8T Unveiled on 14 October



OnePlus have announced the launch event for the OnePlus 8T: 1500 BST / 1000 EST on 14 October. This isn’t entirely unexpected as OnePlus have long operated a biannual release strategy but with Covid-19 and the separate release of the Nord model, anything was possible in 2020. Fortunately, there is some stability in the world.

OnePlus is always looking for opportunities to bring the latest technology to our tech-savvy users as soon as we feel it meets our high standards,” said Pete Lau, Founder and CEO of OnePlus. “With the upcoming OnePlus 8T, we are once again raising the bar for ourselves in terms of the overall user experience, thanks to some new features that we are excited to introduce for the first time in a OnePlus device. I am confident that the OnePlus 8T will once again exceed expectations and deliver an unparalleled flagship experience.

Still, not all our questions have been answered. The OnePlus website refers to a special edition of the Nord, which could be for the USA. Who knows? The press release refers to the 8T as the newest flagship device. Are we to take from this that there will be no 8T Pro? Sounds like it. There have also been persistent rumours of a OnePlus smartwatch. Perhaps it’ll be “one more thing…” But whatever happens we can expect a couple of weeks of drip-fed details and titbits in advance of the big day. The event will be live streamed at https://www.oneplus.com/launch.

As with previous OnePlus launches, community members can enter a competition to get their hands-on an 8T in advance for a phone review. Details here. Good luck.


GitHub’s Newly-Created Repositories Default to ‘Main’ on October 1



GitHub announced that on October 1, 2020, any new repositories you create will use “main” as the default branch, instead of “master”. The change does not impact any of your existing repositories: existing repositories will continue to have the same default branch they have now.

In June of 2020, GitHub decided to replace the term “master” on its service with a neutral word like “main”. That change will be taking place as of October 1, 2020. GitHub explains the reason they selected the word “main” to replace “master” this way:

main is the most popular replacement for master that we’re seeing across GitHub. We like it because it’s short, it keeps your muscle memory intact, and it translates well across most languages. We’re using main for our newly-created repositories and for the repositories we’re moving now, like depandabot-core.

Later this year, GitHub has plans for seamless moves for existing repositories. They point out that renaming the default branch today causes a set of challenges. GitHub states that by the end of the year they will make it seamless for existing repositories to rename their default branch. When you rename the branch, GitHub will retarget your open PRs and draft releases, move your branch protection policies, and more – all automatically.

ZDNet reported that GitHub’s move to replace “master” with “main” is part of a bigger trend in the tech community. Companies and major open source projects like Microsoft, IBM, Twitter, Red Hat, MySQL, the Linux kernel, and OpenBSD have also agreed to make changes to their technical jargon.


Trump “Approved the Deal in Concept” Between TikTok and Oracle



One day after the U.S. Department of Treasury stated that WeChat and TikTok would be prohibited in the United States, President Donald Trump has “approved the deal in concept”. The more I read about This situation, the murkier it gets.

The U.S. Department of Treasury posted a new statement:

The President has reviewed a deal among Oracle, Walmart, and TikTok Global to address the national security threat posed by TikTok’s operations. Oracle will be responsible for key technology and security responsibilities to protect all U.S. user data. Approval of the transaction is subject to a closing with Oracle and Walmart and necessary documentation and conditions to be approved by CFIUS.

Bloomberg has reported the following: “I approved the deal in concept,” Trump told reporters Saturday as he left the White House for a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. “If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s OK too.” I have no idea what President Trump means by that.

According to Bloomberg, the new company will be called TikTok Global. It has agreed to funnel $5 billion new tax dollars to the U.S. and set up an education fund, which Trump said would satisfy his demand that the U.S. government receive a payment from the deal.

However, Reuters has reported that ByteDance was not aware that this deal involved a $5 billion education fund. On a social media post, ByteDance said it was the first time it had heard that news.

It gets even stranger. The Wall Street Journal reported that ByteDance would retain roughly 80% ownership of TikTok Global “according to people familiar with the situation”. Because ByteDance is about 40% owned by U.S. investors, the new company can be described has having majority American ownership. To me, it sounds like TikTok Global might remain connected to ByteDance despite this deal.

Bloomberg also reported that TikTok promised to hire an additional 15,000 jobs, more than the 10,000 positions the company already pledged to fill earlier this year. It appears that TikTok Global will be an independent company. And that TikTok Global “will likely” be headquartered in Texas.

TikTok stated that the proposal between TikTok, Oracle, and Walmart “will resolve the security concerns of the US Administration and settle questions around TikTok’s future in the US”.

How is Walmart connected to this deal? CNBC reported that Walmart said it has tentatively agreed to purchase a 7.5% stake, and CEO Doug McMillon would serve as one fo the five board members of the newly created TikTok Global company.

In a press release, Oracle announced that it was chosen to become TikTok’s secure cloud technology provider. Oracle said this decision by TikTok was heavily influenced by Zoom’s recent success in moving a large portion of its video conferencing capacity to the Oracle Public Cloud.


U.S. Department of Commerce Prohibits WeChat and TikTok



The United States Department of Commerce announced a prohibition on transactions relating to mobile apps WeChat and TikTok. This is being done in response to President Trump’s Executive Orders that were signed on August 6, 2020. The action by the Department of Commerce describes the decision as one made “to safeguard the national security of the United States.”

Here is a small portion of the Department of Commerce’s announcement:

…While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar. Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories. Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP. This combination results in the use of WeChat and TikTok creating unacceptable risks to our national security.

Has the U.S. government ever banned an app before? If so, I don’t remember that happening. The thing that bothers me is that there are several social media platforms that collect the same kinds of data from American users, (but are not involved with China). My concern is that the prohibition on WeChat and TikTok could be used as precedent for the Trump Administration to ban Twitter and/or Facebook.

As of September 20, 2020, the following transactions are prohibited:

  • Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S.;
  • Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S.

As of September 20, 2020, WeChat, and as of November 12, 2020, for TikTok, the following transactions are prohibited:

  • Any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
  • Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.
  • Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.;
  • Any utilization of the mobile application’s constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed and/or accessible within the U.S.;

CNBC reported that WeChat is owned by the Chinese company Tencent. TikTok’s parent company is Beijing-based Byte Dance. CNBC points out that the prohibition means Apple and Google will have to pull those apps from their libraries.


DOOGEE Adds S58 Pro To Rugged Line-Up



Hardly a day goes by at the moment without a new smartphone being announced and here we have DOOGEE, adding the S58 Pro to their rugged line-up. Unlike the average smartphone, the S58 would be entirely at home in a futuristic sci-fi thriller with its radical design, but closer to earth the S58 Pro is perfect for the great outdoors with advanced shock protection and IP68 water resistance.

For those unfamiliar with DOOGEE, the company is a Spanish-Chinese enterprise founded in 2013. The company claims to be the “world leading rugged phone brand” and their flagship tough phone carries IP68, IP69K and MIL-STD-810G certification. Sitting towards the lower end of the DOOGEE range, the new S58 Pro continues the tough tradition with IP68 certification and shock protection.

Let’s take a look at some of the specs. The S58 Pro is powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 octacore CPU with 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. For additional space, the Pro will take a microSD card up to 256 GB. The screen is a 5.71″ display with 1520 x 720 pixels giving 295 ppi. There’s a small pinhole in the top centre for the selfie camera.

Powering the S58 Pro is a 5180mAh high-capacity battery which supports 12V/2A fast charging, giving over 2 days of average use. In more detail, the phone will play video for 16 hours, games for 12 hours and music for 42 hours. That’s fairly impressive.

Returning the cameras, the S58 Pro a triple camera array on the rear, with a 16 MP main shooter using the Sony IMX298 sensor, a 2 MP ultrawide and a 2 MP macro camera. The selfie cam on the front uses a 16 MP Samsung unit. There’s nothing to write home about here, but it’s all perfectly acceptable for the price point. Also round the back is the S58’s fingerprint sensor which is easy to use while staying secure.

With the technical specs out the way, let’s look at what makes the S58 Pro a little bit special. On the outside, the S58 looks rugged right from the start. It’s protected by a high strength rubber more usually found in off-road tyres which helps provide 1.5 m drop-protection. The phone is certified to IP68 which means it can be used underwater or in humid environments and can be submerged up to 1m deep underwater for up to 24 hours or 1.5m depth for 2 hours. For the adventurous traveller, the phone copes with extremes of temperatures from 70°C to -55°C. That’s quite chilly. The S58 is available in Army Green, Fire Orange and Mineral Black.

Interestingly, the S58 Pro has an extra button on the side which can be customised to access seven shortcuts for apps. This can be changed by the user and includes turning on the torch, opening an SOS app, starting game mode, recording a voice memo, taking screenshots and turning on the underwater camera. I haven’t actually seen this feature in action but it sounds like it could be very useful if you’re trying to use the phone while wearing gloves or if you need to get at an app quickly.

In terms of pricing, the DOOGEE S58 Pro sneaks in under the US$200 and GB£200 mark, making it good value for an outdoor-oriented phone. The S58 Pro is available now from Gearbest and AliExpress for US$199.99 and from Amazon UK for GB£189.99.


Facebook Introduced Oculus Quest 2



Facebook introduced Oculus Quest 2, the next generation of all-in-one VR. Facebook says Oculus Quest 2 has a new all-in-one form factor, new Touch controllers and their highest-resolution display ever.

Quest 2 starts at $299 USD – $100 USD less than the original Quest. Pre-orders are open now, and Quest 2 ships on October 13.

With Quest 2, we’re taking things even further, starting with a multi-generational leap in processing power with the state-of-the-art Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform offering higher AI capability, and 6GB of RAM. The new display features 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye – our highest resolution display yet. With 50% more pixels than the original Quest, everything from multiplayer games and productivity apps to 360° videos look better than ever.

Quest 2 comes with new Touch controllers built to offer better ergonomics – inspired by their original Touch design – with the same intuitive controls that translate gestures directly into VR for unparalleled hand presence in virtual environments. They also optimized tracking to make it more efficient, delivering battery life that’s up to four times longer than Quest’s Touch controllers.

The Oculus website posted more information about some of the games that will be available on Quest 2. Here are a few of them:

Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge will allow players to explore the wilds of Batuu and the outskirts of Black Spire Outpost, the famed setting of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (at Disneyland and Disney World). This game will launch “this holiday season” on the Quest Platform.

Medal of Honor: Above And Beyond will have players storm the beaches of Normandy, aid the French Resistance, and liberate Europe. This game will be released on December 11, 2020, on both the Rift Platform and on Quest via Occulus Link (comparable PC also required). It also will be released on Steam.

MYST (from 1993) will be coming to the Quest Platform “later this year”. Built from the ground up for VR, this reimagined version of the classic puzzle game features updated art and interactions – and even an optional puzzle randomizer, for those who long ago memorized the island’s secrets and are looking for a fresh take on their Myst experience from 1993.

Overall, it sounds like people who love to play video games will have plenty of options this holiday season. It remains to be seen what gets the most sales – Quest 2, PlayStation PS5, or Microsoft’s Xbox Series S. I suspect that most people will not have the money to buy all of them at once.