January 28, 2021

Software

The blame game between the US and China over the coronavirus pandemic is raging online (AFP via Getty Images)

A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry has suggested that the United States may be to blame for the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

The suggestion, posted on the Chinese social media site Weibo, seems to be a response to parting words from the Trump administration’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Before leaving office, Pompeo repeated the conspiracy theory the pandemic had been started through an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan. He urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) to investigate the matter further.

Two days after President Biden’s inauguration, Chinese officials appeared to start pushing a conspiracy theory of their own.

During a press conference on January 18, Chinese official Hua Chunying suggested the US should open Fort Detrick to investigators.

The army installation in Maryland is the focal point … Read the rest

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While Apple’s latest audio product are the AirPods Max, not everyone likes over-ear headphones, even if they do sound great (as I stated in my AirPods Max review). The AirPods Pro are a fantastic option for those who prefer in-ear earbuds (and there are also some AirPods Pro alternatives if it’s still too expensive), and you can even charge them up wirelessly, which is a great convenience. But what are the best AirPods Pro wireless chargers? Here are some of our favorites, and don’t worry — there’s something for everyone and every budget. All of these should also work even if you are using one of the best AirPods Pro cases.

Magical magnets

Apple MagSafe Charger

$39 at Apple

$36 at Amazon

Staff Favorite

Apple’s MagSafe Charger is designed to work with the iPhone 12 series, but it is also perfect for your AirPods Pro. It provides

Read the rest ...

  • A new report says that Huawei has been negotiating for months to sell the P and Mate premium phones to a consortium led by Shanghai government-backed investment firms.
  • Huawei is running out of key components that would allow it to continue making new flagship phones to compete against the latest iPhone and Galaxy S devices under the ongoing US ban.
  • Huawei denied that a sale of the two valuable brands is in the works. But the company sold Honor, its budget phone brand last year, to escape the ban.

In just a few years, Huawei became one of the biggest players in the mobile business. The company wanted to dethrone Samsung and become the world’s largest smartphone vendor and put out increasingly more exciting iPhone rivals. The P and Mate phones grew in popularity, with Huawei borrowing features from the iPhone and Galaxy S while taking bigger risks when … Read the rest

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On Wednesday, the US waited with bated breath as president Trump handed the government reins over to president Biden. The transition of power ended up peaceful, and Biden promptly ushered in his new vision for America with a flurry of executive orders.

At the moment, the most pressing issues on his table are fighting the coronavirus pandemic, providing financial relief for Americans, and reversing a series of Trump-era policies on climate change, international relations, and immigration. Artificial intelligence, as expected, hasn’t yet made it to the top of list. But he has given several signals already about how his administration might think about and treat the technology.

First, Biden elevated the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to a cabinet-level position, and appointed top geneticist Eric Lander, the founding director of the MIT-Harvard Broad Institute, to the role. The OSTP advises the president on … Read the rest

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Twitter suspended the @realdonaldtrump account after the Capitol riot on January 6. | Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

The debate over deplatforming Trump has overshadowed how effective social media bans are at fighting extremism.

Within days of the January 6 Capitol insurrection, outgoing President Donald Trump’s internet presence was in upheaval. Trump’s social media accounts were suspended across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch, and TikTok.

The same was true for many of Trump’s more extremist followers. Twitter suspended more than 70,000 accounts primarily dedicated to spreading the false right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon. Apple, Google, and Amazon Web Services banned the right-wing Twitter alternative Parler, effectively shutting down the site indefinitely (though it’s attempting to return) and relegating many right-wingers to the hinterlands of the internet.

Permanently revoking users’ access to social media platforms and other websites — a practice known as deplatforming — isn’t a new concept; … Read the rest

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Some of the luscious gadgets on this week’s list (Connect)

Squeezing into this week’s Lust List are gadgets to get you fit, improve your smile and also brew the perfect cuppa.

Now, we’re not going to lie: some of the gadgets in this list are a bit on the pricey side. But, it’s not like we’re off on holidays or spending money on seeing our mates, is it?

On the more budgetable side, there’s an excellent new phone from Nokia – yes, Nokia – that gives you all the features you need from an Android device at a decent price.

Read on, for the the top bits of tech that caught our eye this week.

Vaonis Vespera

The Vaonis Vespera
The Vaonis Vespera

Aspiring stargazers will love this smart telescope. It’s been designed to make astronomy easy by hooking up to your smartphone or tablet to guide you to the most fascinating parts … Read the rest

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“The better choice”

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has roasted Apple’s MacBook Pro in a new Surface Pro 7 advert highlighting the tablet’s touch screen, pen, detachable keyboard, and more.

Microsoft has fired several shots at Apple’s MacBook Pro in a new advert for its Surface Pro 7 shared yesterday.

The new advert compares the MacBook Pro with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7, seemingly mocking the MacBook Pro’s lack of support for either a touch screen or a pen. It also highlights the detachable keyboard of the Surface as well as support for various bits of software including games that macOS doesn’t have.

Finally, the 30-second clip highlights the price, at $890 the Surface Pro is certainly a lot cheaper than the MacBook, but are its criticisms fair?

Of course, Apple has a tablet with touch screen support, Apple Pencil, a detachable keyboard, and more in its iPad lineup, and

Read the rest ...

  • Apple’s iconic MacBook Air is expected to get a major upgrade as soon as the second half of 2021.
  • The new Air will be smaller, lighter, and more powerful than the 2020 M1-powered model.
  • The laptop will also come with MagSafe support, just like the new MacBook Pro that Apple will launch later this year.

A few days ago, a report said that Apple plans a major makeover for the MacBook Pro, the top-of-the-line laptop that many professionals use and that other companies try to imitate. The new MacBook Pro will get MagSafe charging back, the feature Apple removed a few years ago, much to the dismay of loyal Mac fans.

The new Pro will also address other criticism, as it’s supposed to feature more ports and do away with the Touch Bar. But it’s actually the MacBook Air, the most iconic, best-sold, and most copied Mac design out … Read the rest

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On January 10, Charlie O’Donnell, a startup investor who runs Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, published a blog post that he hoped would inspire self-reflection among his peers in the industry. Provocatively titled Seed Investments in Insurrection, his argument was that venture capitalists needed to wrestle with their impact on democracy. 

“It’s kind of hard to make money if the long-term consequences of your investments threaten the free and open democracy that underpins our society,” he wrote, “an extreme statement—until this past week,” when “domestic terrorists, at least in part radicalized on one-time venture capital backed platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Twitter stormed the US Capitol building.” 

The events in Washington forced technology companies to face a public reckoning over their role in promoting and amplifying extreme content. For years, critics called for social media platforms to enforce their own policies on hate speech, harassment, and incitement to violence, but … Read the rest

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A US Postal Service worker removes mail from a dropbox in San Francisco on August 17, 2020. | David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Postal Service has to do more than deliver mail if it wants to survive.

In November, on the day that networks called the election for Joe Biden, cheering crowds stopped mail trucks in the streets of New York City to thank postal workers for delivering more than 135 million mail-in ballots on time during a pandemic. Now, in Washington, DC, a coalition of lawmakers and advocates are trying to pull off a different sort of feat: saving the United States Postal Service.

Without help from the federal government, the Postal Service could run out of cash later this year. Such a financial crisis would mean laying off workers, limiting service, and worsening delays — and delays are already so bad that holiday cards mailed … Read the rest

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