Texting Tax in California #1334



A Texting Tax in California will most likely be showing up on your mobile bill. The state has decided that residents of California should be taxed for texting as a way to squeeze more cash out of its citizens. Call me not surprised in the least as this action is exactly the kind of thing that the state would do. Very late start to the show tonight had to celebrate a birthday.

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Replacing the Strap on a Fitbit ChargeHR



Heart rate monitoring is a standard feature for wrist-worn devices today, but this first came to Fitbit’s product line with the ChargeHR in 2016. I’ve had mine for over two years now, and time hasn’t been kind to it. The strap’s bubbled up and the plastic’s degraded and cracked. The electronics still work fine but the ChargeHR was designed as an integrated unit and there isn’t an easy way of replacing the strap….at least not officially. Fortunately, third parties offer replacements for not very much money. I purchased a metal one with a Milanese bracelet for GB£10 via a seller on Amazon and I’m really pleased with the outcome. Here’s how to replace the strap on a Fitbit ChargeHR. Warning – this procedure is carried at your own risk.

Having learned from my experience, my first suggestion would be cut away the strap about an inch above and below the central electronics. It’s much easier to do the repair without the broken strap flapping around. Get the replacement kit out – there should be the case+strap, a tiny screwdriver, replacement screws and a spudger.

Next, turn the ChargeHR so that the display is downwards and you are looking at the back with the charge port and the pulse sensor. Look for four small screws in the corners of the unit. Use the supplier screwdriver to carefully undo all four screws and remove them from the ChargeHR. Put the screws to one side but you’re probably not going to be using them again.

The electronics unit is held in the case by a couple of plastic clips on each side. Use the spudger to push down the left and right sides between the unit and the case. It’s quite fiddly just to get the spudger in the slot.

At this point the electronics unit will come free and can be taken out of the old case. Left behind is a small NFC-style sticker which needs to be peeled off and stuck inside the new case. You’ll need fingernails to do this, but once you’ve unpeeled, it simply stick it into the new case in the same position and orientation. Here you can see the sticker in the new case. Try and line it up just below the screen.

Once the stickers in place, give the inside of the new case a quick clean, getting dust and smudges off the inside of the display window. Now just push the ChargeHR electronics into the case. It should clip-in positively.

Finally, put the screws back in and use the screwdriver to tighten them up. Use the new screws that came with the replacement kit.

And that’s it. Press the side button and toggle through the display elements, checking that everything still works. I replaced mine about two weeks ago now and I’ve had no issues. Syncing still works fine, though the vibrating alarms are a bit more rattly. I suspect that’s more to do with the metal case than anything else.

If you want to see more, then I’ve a complementary video on YouTube.

 

 


Let Your Fingers Do The Walking



A Yellow Pages came through my letterbox the other day along with other festive promotions. That was the first clue – a Yellow Pages didn’t used to fit through the letterbox, being usually left on the doorstep for the homeowner to trip over. The next clue was the blue flash in the top right hand corner “Final Edition”. That’s right, the paper copy of the Yellow Pages is shortly to be no more.

It’s not exactly surprising. This copy was a svelte 200+ pages of sub-A4, not the 1,000 page brick of a book that defied judo champions. First published in 1966, the last of 104 final editions will drop onto doormats in January 2019. Along with everything else, finding businesses has gone on-line and there’s now yell.com for all your local business needs.

Yellow Pages was responsible for some iconic catchphrases and adverts. “Let your fingers do the walking” and Fly Fishing by JR Hartley entered the zeitgeist in 1983, decades before the web and memes. I’m sure there will be fond memories of Bike, French Polishers and Cleaners too.

Truly an end of an era.

(This article is about the British Yellow Pages)


Huawei CFO under Arrest #1333



Huawei CFO has been locked up in Canada appears to be awaiting extradition to the United States for Iran Sanction violations and the Chinese are very pissed off. Lot’s of diplomatic activity going on. One wonders if this is just a little bit of gamesmanship for the trade deal. But one thing for sure is that this is a pretty big deal and will be something the team here at GNC will be watching. Lot’s of updates as we head into the holiday period.

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Google Expedites Closure of Google+ After Bug Investigation



Google announced that it will expedite the closure of Google+ for consumers. In October of this year, Google said it would shut down Google+ for consumers “over a ten month period”.

That timeframe has been shortened to “within the next 90 days”. This decision comes after the discovery of a new bug that impacted approximately 52.5 million users in connection with a Google+ app.

We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API. We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced. No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.

As a result of discovering this bug, Google has decided to shut-down all Google+ APIs within the next 90 days. Google is also going to accelerate the sunset of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019.

Google says it wants to give users ample opportunity to transition off consumer Google+. It will also provide users with ways they can safely and securely download and migrate their data.

In addition, Google is in the process of notifying any enterprise customers that were impacted by the bug. That notification will come by email to those affected.

In my opinion, Google enterprise customers should take a minute and consider how much they trust Google to keep Google+ secure. This isn’t the first time this year that Google+ has had a data breach.


Pantone Color of the Year 2019



Last year, Pantone’s Color of 2018 took us to outer space with Ultra Violet. This year’s takes us to Earth’s inner space with Living Coral announced as Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019. Officially known as Pantone 16-1546, the colour is “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.

Pantone goes on to say, “In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says, “Color is an equalizing lens through which we experience our natural and digital realities and this is particularly true for Living Coral. With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord.

The full press release is here and discusses Living Coral in the context of everything from tech innovation to food and drink. For social media, it suggests that, “An organic shade, Living Coral is striking in digital mediums, evoking the same inspirational feeling ignited by our natural surroundings. Living Coral’s vibrancy and buoyancy captivates our attention in social media and digital design.

If you are a designer, all the colour standards are on Pantone’s site, including some downloads for Adobe products. The codes for Living Coral 16-1546 TCX are

  • RGB: 255 111 97
  • CMYK: 0 65 54 0
  • HTML: FF6F61

Look for more coral in 2019! Once you start looking, you’ll be surprised how much you see.

Picture courtesy of Pantone.


DeepMind’s AlphaZero Beats State-of-the Art AI in Chess



DeepMind introduced AlphaZero in 2017. It is a single system that taught itself how to master chess, shogi, and Go, beating state-of-the-art programs in each case. AlphaZero has developed a ground-breaking, highly dynamic, and unconventional style of play.

A report titled: “A general reinforcement learning algorightm that masters chess, shogi an Go through self-play” was published by Science Magazine. Part of the report said: “The ability of AlphaZero to adapt to various game rules is a notable step toward achieving a general game-playing system.”

AlphaZero replaces the handcrafted knowledge and domain-specific augmentations used in traditional game-playing programs with deep neural networks, a general-purpose reinforcement learning algorithm, and a general-purpose tree search algorithm.

In chess, AlphaZero first outperformed Stockfish after just 4 hours. AlphaZero defeated the 2016 TCEC (Season 9) world champion Stockfish, winning 155 games and losing just six games out of 1,000.

In shogi, AlphaZero first outperformed Elmo after 2 hours. AlphaZero defeated the 2017 CSA world champion version of Elmo, winning 91.2% of games.

In Go, AlphaZero defeated AlphaGo Zero, winning 61% of games.

I wonder if, in the future, eSports will include competitions between AlphaZero and various other AI algorithms. It seems to me that people who love to play chess are very interested in AlphaZero and what it can do. I can see potential for chess players to learn some of AlphaZero’s strategies in an effort to improve their game.