Samsung Galaxy S9+ gets torn down by iFixit, found hard to repair

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It’s the Samsung Galaxy S9+’s time to get the iFixit disassembly treatment and for us to have a good look inside its beautiful glass and metal hull. The teardown starts off like you’d expect for a waterproof glass and metal phone – with a heatgun, opening pick and a lot of nervous prying. The battery is glued in place and required Adhesive Remover and a lot of know-how to remove. The camera is the more interesting component. Being the Galaxy S9+ it’s the dual camera with the main variable aperture sensor and the second, tele sensor. The main camera’s aperture is made up of two… – Latest articles

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It’s Really Hard to Give AI “Common Sense”

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In humans, common sense is relatively easy to identify, albeit a bit difficult to define. Get in line at the end of it? That’s common sense. Grab the red-hot end of a metal poker that was in the fire moments before? Not so much.

How do we teach something as nebulous as common sense to artificial intelligence (AI)? Many researchers have tried to do so and failed.

But that might soon change. Now, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is joining their ranks.

Allen is investing an additional $ 125 million into his nonprofit computer lab, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), doubling its budget for the next three years, according to The New York Times. This influx of money will go toward existing projects as well as Project Alexandria, a new initiative focused on teaching “common sense” to robots.

“When I founded AI2, I wanted to expand the capabilities of artificial intelligence through high-impact research,” said Allen in a press release. “Early in AI research, there was a great deal of focus on common sense, but that work stalled. AI still lacks what most 10-year-olds possess: ordinary common sense. We want to jump-start that research to achieve major breakthroughs in the field.”

Machines can mimic human tasks if they’re specific enough. They can locate and identify objects, climb, sell housesprovide disaster relief, and so much more.

However, even these advanced machines can’t handle more than simple questions and commands. How might one them approach an unfamiliar situation and use “common sense” to calibrate the appropriate action and response? Right now, it can’t.

“Despite the recent AI successes, common sense — which is trivially easy for people  is remarkably difficult for AI,” Oren Etzioni, the CEO of AI2, said in the press release. “No AI system currently deployed can reliably answer a broad range of simple questions, such as, ‘If I put my socks in a drawer, will they still be in there tomorrow?’ or ‘How can you tell if a milk carton is full?’”

“For example, when AlphaGo beat the number one Go player in the world in 2016, the program did not know that Go is a board game,” Etzioni added.

There’s a simple reason we’ve failed to teach AI common sense up to this point: it’s really, really hard.

Gary Marcus, the founder of the Geometric Intelligence Company, drew inspiration from the ways in which children develop common sense and a sense of abstract thinking. Imperial College London researchers focused on symbolic AI, a technique in which a human labels everything for an AI.

Neither strategy has so far resulted in what we could define as “common sense” for robots.

Project Alexandria will take a far more robust approach to the problem. According to the press release, it will integrate research machine reasoning and computer vision, and figure out a way to measure common sense. The researchers also plan to crowdsource common sense from humans.

“I am hugely excited about Project Alexandria,” Gary Marcus, founder of AI lab Geometric Intelligence, said in the press release. “The time is right for a fresh approach to the problem.”

The task is daunting. But if AI is going to reach the next level of utility and integration into even more facets of human lives, we’ll have to overcome it. Project Alexandria might be the best shot at doing so.

The post It’s Really Hard to Give AI “Common Sense” appeared first on Futurism.


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‘Part Time UFO’ Review – It Works Hard for Its Money

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For many years, mobile gamers dreamed the impossible dream of having Nintendo games on their platform of choice. When that dream finally, improbably, came true, it didn’t come in the form that many of those players had hoped for. There are a lot of factors to consider when thinking about why Nintendo’s mobile efforts are what they are, but regardless of the why, the fact remains that they’re not quite the same as what the company puts out on its own hardware. Well, HAL Laboratory isn’t Nintendo, but they’re quite close in a lot of ways. If you were one of those people looking for a Nintendo-like experience on your mobile device, you may find that HAL’s latest release, Part Time UFO [$ 3.99], scratches the itch nicely.

HAL Laboratory did have a life before Nintendo, primarily making games for computers such as the Commodore VIC-20 and the MSX. But it’s best known for its work that came out of its partnership with the console giant. Games like Kirby’s Dream Land, EarthBound, Super Smash Bros., and Pokemon Snap were all developed hand-in-hand with Nintendo, and wunderkind programmer and once-head of HAL Laboratory, Satoru Iwata, eventually became Nintendo’s president. It’s a little strange to see HAL doing work on non-Nintendo platforms again, but I suppose if even Nintendo itself is doing it, it’s not that strange.

Most of HAL’s games since Kirby have involved the little pink puffball, but the developer has made the occasional original title here and there. On the Nintendo 3DS, they created a trilogy of great puzzle-platformers called BoxBoy!. It’s those games that come to mind when playing Part Time UFO, and not just because their star Qbby makes a little cameo. Both BoxBoy! and Part Time UFO involve taking a relatively simple, familiar gameplay mechanic and exploring it fully. In BoxBoy!, that was the old video game staple of box puzzles. In Part Time UFO, it’s about taking the idea of a crane catcher in as many interesting directions as possible. You play as a little UFO who has come to Earth and already fallen to the scourge of accumulating wealth.

In order to make ends meet, our little UFO has to take on a variety of part-time jobs. Like any of us, the UFO has to try to make do with his current skill set. Fortunately for our hero, it has something a little more useful than an undergraduate degree in the arts. Not only can it fly up, down, and all around, it also has a pretty handy claw that it can use to pick things up and drop them. But how many different kinds of jobs can you do with that? Well, as it turns out, there’s fishing, loading trucks, helping cheerleaders with their pyramids, assisting with circus performances, being a sous-chef, and many others. What can’t this UFO do? Besides picking its nose, anyway.

Each stage presents a certain scenario similar to the ones I’ve outlined above. The game will give you a primary goal, which typically (but not always) involves picking up a few things and putting them in a designated place. There are also three hidden goals, and you don’t get much more than a simple picture to clue you into their requirements. But clue in you must, because the only way to unlock new stages is to check off these hidden goals. Some of them are practically gimmes, like finishing the stage in a set amount of time. Others involve careful observation of the stage elements or a genuine show of skill. Between the varying main goals and the numerous hidden goals, Part Time UFO stays fresh a lot longer than you might expect.

Whether you find the hidden goals or not, you’ll still get paid for your work at the end of each stage. Your hard-earned wages can be used to buy new costumes for the UFO, and they’re more than mere cosmetics. Well, some of them are, anyway. New costumes will often grant some sort of advantage to the UFO, allowing it to move faster, pick up heavy objects more easily, and so on. There are quite a few costumes available, so you’ll probably be unlocking them for a while. The nice thing is that you never really need any of these costumes to succeed. They’re useful, but not required. Oh, and if you should see a certain little fellow from one of HAL’s 3DS games show up in the UFO’s apartment, make sure you tap on him.

All of this would be for naught if the core gameplay didn’t work, mind you. Luckily, HAL has done a great job of making these crane controls feel good. There are two different control layouts available. The default set uses a virtual stick to move the UFO and a button to engage or disengage the claw. The other, designed for one-handed play, has you swiping to move the UFO and tapping to drop and raise its claw. Both work well, though I’ve tended to stick to the first set-up for its more precise nature. This UFO catcher is thankfully kinder than the real things. The weight and balance of the objects you pick up is of course taken into account, but the grip of your claw is better than you would expect rather than worse. Most of the nuance comes from how you pick things up, in what order you grab them, and how you drop them. If you aren’t careful stacking monkeys, for example, the whole lot may come tumbling down.

Surprisingly, Part Time UFO is a paid up-front app with no IAPs at all. The irony of HAL taking inspiration from an exploitative style of game to make a satisfying game with no extra money required on a platform where the reverse is all to often true is not lost on me. You don’t have to side-eye any of the shop prices or goal requirements because you know that there is no other way to proceed than simply playing and improving. I doubt HAL is going to be rewarded for this somewhat bold move, but it’s still nice to see in a time where original mobile experiences without a coin slot attached are getting rarer and rarer.

Naturally, the presentation is dynamite. It’s adorable, packed with little details and animations, and maintains a consistent look across all of its elements. There are quite a few different areas spread across the game’s 25+ stages, and even when those broad themes get re-used, there will always be a few new details to show that the stage had some loving care put into it. The game’s main musical theme is catchy and is remixed in various ways to suit the different levels, too. The developers have also included Game Center support for achievements and included a nice little list of things to shoot for, some of which involve wearing appropriate costumes to certain stages. From top to bottom, this feels like the same kind of effort HAL would put into one of their games for Nintendo’s platforms.

The only remotely negative thing I can say about Part Time UFO is that it does end eventually. You’ll probably need to replay many of the stages to finish all of the hidden goals, but sooner or later those 25+ stages will be exhausted and all of the costumes will be unlocked. I think the enjoyable mechanics make it fun to go back to levels and see what kind of different results you can get, but some might be turned off by a paid game that you can play through in just a few hours of dedicated play. If that’s you, well, with all due respect, you can go kick rocks. Part Time UFO is great, and I hope this isn’t just a one-shot effort from HAL.


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Why does my phone make it so hard to turn off Bluetooth?

Lately, my phone really wants me to turn on Bluetooth. I only own one Bluetooth gadget (a UE Boom 2 I keep around my apartment) and I typically turn the antenna off when I’m not actively using it, but lately it’s been popping back on when I’m not looking. It’s a deliberate move by Apple: under iOS 11, turning Bluetooth off from the control center simply puts Bluetooth on time out until the next morning instead of disabling it permanently. Even when it’s off, the antenna stays on, looking for new devices. You can turn it all the way off by digging into the settings menu, but as soon as you turn it on for any reason, the cycle starts again. The assumption is that, between Apple’s EarPods, the Pencil, and the HomePod, the average user has…

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Daily Deals via Dodocool: $39 Xbox wireless controller, $79 4TB external hard drive, and more

iDB’s Daily Deals post is a roundup of our favorite deals on tech and tech-related products from around the web. This includes everything from smartphones, tablets and accessories, to connected devices and even video games.

Every deal you see below has been hand-picked based on a variety of factors including personal experience, online reviews from customers and experts, and discount percentage. So what are you waiting for? Get shopping!… Read the rest of this post here

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Daily Deals: $400 Dell 4K monitor, $50 1TB portable hard drive, and more

iDB’s Daily Deals post is a roundup of our favorite deals on tech and tech-related products from around the web. This includes everything from smartphones, tablets and accessories, to connected devices and even video games.

Every deal you see below has been hand-picked based on a variety of factors including personal experience, online reviews from customers and experts, and discount percentage. So what are you waiting for? Get shopping!… Read the rest of this post here

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Industrial Design Experts Say HomePod’s White Ring Issue ‘Shouldn’t Be Too Hard to Fix’ for Apple

Last week, Apple confirmed that the HomePod can potentially leave white rings on the surface of wooden furniture with oil or wax finishes. In an effort to help users prevent seeing these rings appear on their own furniture, Apple shared a support document on “Where to place HomePod,” detailing how the interaction between the HomePod’s vibration-dampening silicone base and a wooden surface has the chance to result in a white ring.

Business Insider recently spoke with a few industrial design experts who believe that the problem “shouldn’t be too hard to fix” for Apple.” Gregor Berkowitz, a product development consultant for numerous consumer electronics brands, expects Apple to “re-tool” its HomePod manufacturing process to address the issue with the silicone base, which could take between two to six weeks. Although the fix could take several weeks, the experts said it’s “likely not very costly” for Apple.

Image via Wirecutter

Senior industrial designer at Y Studios, Cesar Viramontes, referred to the white rings issue as something customers will “probably forget about” in the next few months.

Apple may need to “re-tool” the manufacturing process since silicone is manufactured using a different process than the other kinds of elastomer,” said Berkowitz. If that’s necessary, the process could take anywhere from two weeks to six weeks, he noted.

“It’s an issue, but I think it’s probably going to be one that’ll be corrected in the next round of manufacturing,” said Y Studios’ Viramontes. “I think it will be a minor issue, and people will probably forget about it in the next couple of months when it goes away.”

While the experts see a quick fix for the issue coming from Apple, all were surprised it happened in the first place. Product design expert Ignazio Moresco explained that more is expected from Apple’s well-known attention to detail, and the company “should have caught the issue if they followed a rigorous QA process.” The white marks aren’t an Apple-specific problem, but have appeared with other speakers — like Sonos One — that have similar silicone bases.

Berkowitz believes the white rings could be a result of Apple’s “inexperience” with making stationary speakers, in contrast to the company’s familiarity with making mobile products like the iPhone and MacBook.

“This is sitting on a bookshelf. Is it going to work? Or are there going to be problems? A traditional consumer product company or a speaker company or a traditional Hi-Fi company is going to worry about that and think about those problems and have experience with it,” Berkowitz said. “This shouldn’t be new for Apple but it is.”

“They didn’t test the product enough and in the right variety of circumstances, especially considering that a wood surface is a very likely support for the product,” said Ignazio Moresco, a product design expert who has worked at frog design, Microsoft and Ericsson.

For those who have discovered rings on their furniture, Apple said that these marks “will often go away after several days” once HomePod is removed from the wooden surface. Users can hasten this process by wiping the surface gently with a damp or dry cloth. Still, the company explained that if anyone is concerned about these marks, it recommends “placing your HomePod on a different surface.”

Accessory makers are already creating products to act as a fix for the situation, including new leather coasters for HomePod from Pad & Quill. The $19.95 coasters are advertised as letting users place their HomePod on the wooden surfaces that have the potential to be marked by HomePod, without having to worry about the appearance of such marks.

Related Roundup: HomePod
Buyer’s Guide: HomePod (Buy Now)

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Distracted Apple employees are finding out how hard the glass walls of the new campus are

A (somewhat comical) report out of Time today is shedding light on an issue at Apple’s new HQ; employees keep walking into the glass walls.

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Litecoin surges ahead of upcoming hard fork

Litecoin (LTC) has had a rough few months. From its all-time high of $ 375 in December, the Bitcoin fork dropped to a mere $ 105 just nine days ago. Along the way it seemingly lost support from its creator, Charlie Lee, who sold all of his holdings late last year. But things are looking up again. From its recent low of $ 105, LTC has spiked over 100 percent to hit prices of $ 212 as of this writing. In the last 24 hours alone, the volatile cryptocurrency is up more than 30 percent. But why? LTC seems to be soaring on news…

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