News

Mobile users in China have to undergo mandatory face scan

Black Mirror no longer feels like fiction

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A new rule requiring face scans of customers signing up for new mobile plans in China came into effect. The guidelines, first issued in September, require telecom companies to deploy “artificial intelligence and other technical methods” to check the identities of people registering SIM cards.

Under existing norms, consumers applying for new phone numbers need to show their national identification card and have their photos taken. The government says it wants to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace”.

China has heavily invested in facial recognition technology and it’s being widely deployed in schools, colleges, airports, and other public places. While it makes life convenient, critics are concerned that the government is further trying to establish a surveillance state.

In mobile phones, Apple introduced the notch in 2017 with the iPhone X. A notch let them install a sophisticated infrared array that scanned users face to unlock the phone. Officially called Face ID, a similar setup has been seen on Android offerings as well.

In addition to mobile users, Chinese social media site Weibo was forced to roll out real-name registration in 2012. There are reports that a wide range of third-party apps are also collecting face scans and the country lacks legislation to ensure top-notch security standards. In fact, a lot of these apps are gathering data without a user agreement.

China already extensively censors and polices the web, removing and blocking content it does not want its citizens to see and talk about.

CES 2021

Kingston launches new NVMe SSDs, Workflow Station and Readers

Featuring blazing fast speeds and large storage capacities

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For CES 2021, Kingston has launched new SSDs designed for content creators and everyday consumers. There are also brand-new Workflow Station and Readers introduced that should simplify data management and storage.

The biggest change to the upcoming SSDs is the switch to the faster NVMe interface. All of Kingston’s recently-launched SSDs will come with faster read and write speeds as a result of this change, greatly benefiting the users.

Headlining the new SSD portfolio is Kingston’s Ghost Tree SSD. It features a claimed read and write speed of 7GBs made possible by switching to the newer PCIe 4.0. It will come in different capacities ranging from 1TB to 4TB. Professional content creators should benefit greatly from the blazing-fast performance that this SSD affords.

Meanwhile, everyday consumers can also reap the benefits of NVMe with the NV series. Kingston touts it as an entry-level series utilizing PCIe 3.0 with storage capacities reaching up to 2TB.

There’s also a new external storage solution from Kingston — the X200 external drive. Like the newer external SSDs in the market, this one comes with USB Type-C that allows for transfer speeds of up to 2GB. It comes in different capacities ranging from 500GB to 2TB.

Finally, there’s an SSD designed for enterprise. The DC1500M is a substantial update to DC1000M, adding support for multi-namespaces. It also connects via U.2 interface, which is a newer interface designed primarily for the enterprise sector. Geared towards data-intensive workloads, Kingston touts its needs primarily in cloud computing, web hosting, and virtual infrastructures.

New Workflow Station and Readers

Rounding up Kingston’s CES 2021 announcements is the Workflow Station and Readers. One of its highlight features is the ability to customize the file offload setup allowing for greater flexibility in transferring files, audio, images, videos, and more from multiple sources. It can also simultaneously connect to USB hubs, SD, and microSD card readers.

Alternatively, users can use it as a standalone reader by connecting it to their laptops via a USB Type-C cable.

Price and availability

Kingston hasn’t announced the prices for the newly launched SSDs. However, all of these should come later in many markets globally. Interested users should follow Kingston for updates on prices and availability o their markets.

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Laptops

Report says MacBook Pro 2021 won’t have the Touch Bar

But MagSafe will make a comeback!

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Apple could be planning a major revamp of the MacBook Pro lineup, and it’s expected to go official in the third quarter of 2021. Interestingly, the redesign will include removing the Touch Bar and the return of the MagSafe charging port.

According to TF International Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo, this will be the first major redesign of the MacBook Pro since 2016. Furthermore, it’ll have square-off sides like the iPhone 12, flatter top and bottom panels, and brighter screens.

It’ll be available in two sizes — 14-inch and 16-inch. And yes, they’ll feature Apple’s in-house processors that leverage Arm architecture. There will not be an Intel option, and Apple’s next-generation chipsets will power it. They’re expected to feature more cores and enhanced graphics.

At the end of November 2020, a MacBook Pro 16-inch with 12-core Apple M1X processor was tipped to be even more powerful than the M1 processor. Earlier that month, a MacBook Pro 14-ich model with Apple’s M1 processor was also tipped.

A report by TechRadar suggested that the 16-inch MacBook Pro model looks a bit slimmer. This could be due to the processor’s efficiency since it doesn’t need aggressive cooling like Intel-powered options.

Most importantly, though, Apple is going old-school and bringing some of the features we’ve always loved. The pill-shaped MagSafe charging connector could make a comeback, and physical function keys could replace the digital Touch Bar. Kuo has also hinted that Apple could provide ports generously to reduce dependence on dongles.

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Gaming

Bravely Default II preorder final demo now available

A must-play!

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Bravely Default II is a Japanese fantasy RPG with lovely art styles reminiscent of a refined version to early Final Fantasy releases. The series gameplay uses the usual turn-based battle system and job system. But, the series is more notable for integrating options to combine and customize job abilities, battle speed, and enemy encounter rates.

Bravely Default II is the newest addition to the Bravely series. So, what’s new? Bravely Default II lets you step into a brand-new world with four new heroes, new stories, and new job roles.

This iteration features a young sailor, Seth, who washes up the shores of one of the five mighty kingdoms of the continent. He encounters an escaped princess, Gloria of Musa, and they both venture out to meet more travellers seeking the truth to their world.

If you’re into RPGs or a fan of the Bravely series, this is the game release to look forward to. The game keeps its charming mechanics while piling on new features so if you want or need a taste of the game, the final demo is out now. Although, you won’t be waiting much longer for the game’s full release because it looking to be released on February 26 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

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