OnePlus Nord to be Revealed in AR on 21st July



After some heavy hints and with limited pre-sales underway, OnePlus has confirmed that the new Nord smartphone will be revealed on 21st July in an AR (augmented reality) extravaganza. GNC readers with long memories will remember that the OnePlus Two was launched in VR – I still have the headset – so with Covid-19 still present in many countries around the world, it made sense to launch the Nord online and in the safety of their own homes.

OnePlus Nord represents a new beginning for OnePlus, giving us an opportunity to share our technology with more people around the world,” said Paul Yu, Head of OnePlus Nord. “For this launch, we want everyone to sit back, relax, and experience our new phone for the first time right in the comfort of their living room. We feel that introducing Nord in a more personal and intimate way perfectly reflects our ambition to make the OnePlus experience more accessible to users.

The OnePlus Nord AR launch can be experienced through the OnePlus Nord AR App available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The launch event will take place at 1600 CEST/ 1500 BST.

Download the OnePlus Nord AR app from your preferred app provider.

Install the app and accept the permissions necessary for the AR experience, then launch and follow instructions to set up your avatar and the app.

On the day, watch the Nord AR event using the AR App. Just open it up at launch time and make sure you’ve got a good fast connection.

For more details on the Nord and the second episode in the “New Beginnings” series, check out OnePlus’ dedicated Nord mini-site.

And while we’re talking OnePlus news, the OnePlus 8 Pro was voted the Best Smartphone 2020 in the European Hardware Awards. Way to go.


Amazon Has An Oversupply Problem



During lockdown, I’ve been doing my very best to support local businesses and shop locally. However, sometimes the thing you want is simply too specialist to be carried by any emporium within a reasonable distance so inevitably I’ve fired up the browser and hopped on over to see what’s available at world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.

And it hasn’t always been a great experience. Too much of the market seems to be given over to sellers with company names full of consonants selling identikit products at similar prices. And there’s no way that the reviews are authentic: some of the products have hundreds of reviews but I very much doubt that they’ve sold that many items.

Take these ring LEDs…there are fifty three pages of sponsored products alone – that’s 367 items. Yes, there are variations based on ring size, accessories and so on but it’s obvious that many of the products are the same unit.

Some product categories are worse than others, but I’m quite sure everyone has seen this problem, whether with electronics, cookware or home furnishings. You can understand why companies are so keen on getting good reviews to bump their rankings to the first few pages.

In contrast, traditional bricks’n’mortar stores have a much more limited product range selected by the owners or a buying team who decide the best fit for the people coming into the shop. In this example, you could imagine a selection based on ring size but you’re probably choosing from three or four products at most. Not 367.

Brands are very relevant in these crowded markets too. I can’t be bothered to root through every single example and often rely on a brand name to help make the selection. Over the years, I’ve gathered my own selection of favourite go-to brands for preferred products and I’ll choose those over no-name clones every time.

Amazon does label goods as “Amazon’s Choice” as if this is the best product, whatever best might might be. My understanding is that these are only curated by algorithm and there’s no one behind the scenes checking, reviewing or testing.

There are consumer organisations like the UK’s Which? which provides advice and guidance on products in different categories. It’s a subscription service at just under GB£10 per month but perhaps worth considering if you are buying big ticket items. As an independent organisation it’s trusted and respected.

A tempting solution would be for Amazon to provide a similar service to Which? for its Prime members where real people test a range of products in a category and recommend the best. But would anyone trust Amazon’s recommendations? I’m not sure I would given some of the recent revelations about Amazon Basics.

There’s no doubt that Amazon has profited during the pandemic, but I’m seriously beginning to wonder if Amazon is allowing too many vendors with too many similar products. I know that I’m increasingly looking to other stores and branded products rather than going straight to Amazon. This week I’ve one delivery from Amazon but two from other online stores.

What about you?


Florida Bans DNA Data from Insurance Companies #1459



Florida residents are protected from insurance companies looking at your DNA test results unless you give them permission as part of a new law that was approved today. This is a win for Florida residents and is something that should be adopted by all states to protect the DNA data of their state citizens. A short update on why the live show was cut short last episode.

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YouTube TV Jacks up Streaming Price #1458



YouTube TV has raised the prices by a whopping 30% taking the price to really insane levels as TV companies work to get their pound of flesh out of all of us. So is it time to cut the digital cord. I start adding up all the services and it will may be time to start reducing my digital subscriptions

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OpenSUSE 15.2 Out Now



For Linux fans, there’s a new version of OpenSUSE Leap out today, bringing the version number to 15.2. OpenSUSE is one of the big Linux distributions so it’ll be a solid release. “Leap” is the distribution’s traditional regular release programme, compared with the rolling release of “Tumbleweed”.

In additional to the 5.3.18 kernel, KDE is bumped to 5.18 and Gnome to 3.34. SUSE has always been a strong proponent of the KDE desktop (my personal favourite) so I’ll be checking that out later. LibreOffice brings word processing and spreadsheets to the party and Gimp is on hand for image editing. As you’d expect in 2020, there are a pile of AI and machine learning tools including Tensorflow, PyTorch and ONNX. A feature list is included here.

Leap 15.2 represents a huge step forward in the Artificial Intelligence space,” said Marco Varlese, a developer and member of the project. “I am super excited that openSUSE end-users can now finally consume Machine Learning and Deep Learning frameworks and applications via our repositories to enjoy a stable and up-to-date ecosystem.”

I run OpenSUSE on my main PC so I’ll be upgrading soon. Based on my experience of previous upgrades, the OpenSUSE team have got the online upgrade process down to a fine art. A few clicks and the upgrade gets under way.

For those who feel more confident with a DVD or USB, a full distro is available for download as well. It’s always good to have a copy to hand in case of hard drive failure too.

The full press release is here.


Go Nord with OnePlus



OnePlus have officially announced the OnePlus Nord product line today but details still remain remarkably thin on the ground. To start with, Nord is the name of a product range and not a specific device, though again OnePlus have confirmed that a new device will be launched shortly in Europe and India. Will this be a OnePlus Nord One?

Pete Lau, Founder and CEO of OnePlus, said, “Launching the OnePlus Nord product line marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for OnePlus. The ‘Never Settle’ spirit is centered around sharing the best technology and products with the world, but it is also about challenging ourselves and going beyond our comfort zone. We are immensely proud of our flagship products and will continue to create more tech-leading flagships for our users. Now we are excited to share the OnePlus experience with even more users around the world through this new product line.

OnePlus have been using Instagram this time round with a series of short documentaries on their journey to the new Nord product line. The first one was released today and pretty much suggests the phone was brought to market in only six months and will be priced below US$500. That’s a good bit cheaper than the recent 8 and 8 Pro models.

And if you simply have to have the OnePlus Nord first, you can (try to) pre-order the phone for a deposit of GB£20 at 1000 CEST on 1st July. For that £20, you’ll get some goodies and a code to pre-order the phone. At this point, no details on price or spec other than sub-$500. Nothing, zero, nada, but you’ll need to get in quick as there’s only 100 of the phones up for pre-sale.

With luck, we’ll find out more about the Nord over the next few days.


Amazon Pays out $500 Million #1457



Amazon is paying out $500 million to those at Amazon most at risk for Covid. This is after they dropped the $2.00 hour extra in wages in June. Second show with the shorter show intro. So far feels pretty good and lets me get into the show faster.

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