Facebook, Google join ‘The Trust Project’ to fight fake news

Nov 17, 2017 0

San Francisco– In their bid to fight fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan “The Trust Project”.

“The Trust Project” is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics.

Mark Zuckerberg

Starting from Friday, an icon will appear next to articles in Facebook News Feed.

When you click on the icon, you can read information on the organisations’ ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work.

“Leading media companies representing dozens of news sites have begun to display ‘Trust Indicators’. These indicators, created by leaders from more than 75 news organisations also show what type of information people are reading a” news, opinion, analysis or advertising,” the university said in a statement.

Each indicator is signalled in the article and site code, providing the first standardised technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work.

“Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter have all agreed to use the indicators and are investigating and piloting ideas about how to best to use them to surface and display quality journalism,” the university said.

German press agency DPA, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, the Independent Journal Review, Mic, Italy’s La Republica and La Stampa, Trinity Mirror and The Washington Post are among the companies starting to go live with “Trust Indicators” this month.

The Institute for Non-profit News has developed a WordPress plug-in to facilitate broader implementation by qualified publishers.

“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” Lehrman explained.

The eight core indicators are: Best Practices; Author Expertise; Type of Work; Citations and References; Methods; Locally Sourced; Diverse Voices and Actionable Feedback.

New organisations like the BBC and Hearst Television have collaborated in defining the “Trust Indicator” editorial and technical standards, and in developing the processes for implementing these.

“Quality journalism has never been more important,” said Richard Gingras, vice president of news products at Google.

“We hope to use the Type of Work indicator to improve the accuracy of article labels in Google News, and indicators such as Best Practices and Author Info in our Knowledge Panels.”

“The Trust Indicators will provide a new level of accessibility and insight into the news that people on Facebook see day in and day out,” said Alex Hardiman, Head of News Products at Facebook.

A growing number of news outlets are expected to display the indicators over the next six months, with a second phase of news partners beginning implementation work soon. (IANS)

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Singh seeks Bill Gates’ help in developing model villages

Nov 16, 2017 0

New Delhi– Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday met Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, and requested him to initiate health awareness programmes in India and suggested that his foundation should also concentrate on developing model villages.

Rajnath Singh (Photo: Twitter)

Welcoming Gates, Singh also appreciated the various welfare works being undertaken by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in India, said a Ministry of Home Affairs statement.

Accoring to the statement, Singh requested Gates to initiate health awareness programmes in India and suggested that his foundation should concentrate on developing villages and make them “Model Villages” so that the local people get inspired.

Gates also explained about the various technologies being adopted by them in the field of agriculture and sanitation. He assured the Minister that the Foundation will offer constructive support to India. (IANS)

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Five professors among Infosys Prize winners

Nov 15, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Five eminent professors and a director were selected for the Infosys Prize 2017, said the software major’s Science Foundation on Wednesday.

“A six-member jury of renowned scientists and professors selected the winners from 236 nominations received in six categories,” Foundation’s Board of Trustees President and Infosys co-founder K. Dinesh told reporters here.

The winners are Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, Director, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, in Engineering and Computer Science; Upinder Singh Bhalla, Professor, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, in Life Sciences; Ritabrata Munshi, Professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, in Mathematical Sciences.

In Physical Sciences, the winner is Yamuna Krishnan, Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago; Lawrence Liang, Professor, School of Law, Ambedkar University, New Delhi, won it in Social Sciences; and Ananya Jahanara Kabir, Professor of English Literature, King’s College London, in Humanities.

“The Infosys Prize continues to honour and recognise some of the best researchers and scientists of our time. Among the winners are a neuroscientist using computers to map the human brain, a computer scientist studying biological systems and a chemist trying to make DNA machines to study living cells,” said Dinesh.

The prize for each category consists of a purse of Rs 65 lakh, a 22-karat gold medallion and a citation certificate.

The jury members are Pradeep K. Khosla, University of California, San Diego; Amartya Sen, Harvard University; Inder Verma, Salk Institute of Biological Sciences; Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, New York University; Shrinivas Kulkarni, California Institute of Technology and Kaushik Basu, Cornell University.

“The award aligns with our principle of promoting science and inspiring young researchers across the country. The Infosys Prize is gaining recognition and has become one of the coveted prize awards in science and research in the country,” said Dinesh.

Bandyopadhyay was selected in the Engineering and Computer Science category for her record in algorithmic optimisation and its impact on biological data analysis.

“Her discoveries include a genetic marker for breast cancer, determination of co-occurrence of HIV and cancers and the role of white cells in Alzheimer’s disease,” said the Foundation in a statement later.

Bhalla won it in the Biological Sciences category for pioneering contribution to the understanding of the brain’s computational machinery.

“Bhalla’s investigations has revealed essential neuronal computations that underlie the ability to acquire, integrate and store complex sensory information and to utilise that information for decision and action,” it said.

Munshi was chosen in the Mathematical Sciences category for his outstanding contributions to analytic aspects of number theory.

“Besides ingenious contributions to the Diophantine problem, Munshi has established important estimates known as sub-convexity bounds for a large class of L-functions with methods that are powerful and original.”

Krishnan got it in the Physical Sciences category for her ground-breaking work in the emerging field of DNA architecture.

“By manipulating DNA, the building blocks of life, to create biocompatible nanomachines, Krishnan created novel ways of interrogating living systems, increasing our knowledge of cell function and getting one step closer to answering unresolved biomedical questions,” said the statement.

Liang won it in the Social Sciences category for creative scholarship on law and society.

“His prodigious output in copyright law, digital technologies and media and popular culture raises probing questions about the nature of freedom, rights and social development. His provocative answers link historical context and ethical practice in unexpected and illuminating ways.”

Kabir was selected in the Humanities category for her original explorations of the historical elements – conceptual, social and cultural – in colonial modernity and her subtle and insightful ethnography of cultural and political life in Kashmir.

The awards ceremony will be held on January 10 in Bengaluru. Nobel laureate Kip S. Thorne, Professor Emeritus at California Institute of Technology, will felicitate the winners.

Thorne, a theoretical physicist, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017 for his contribution to the observation of gravitational waves in 2015, posited by Albert Einstein a century ago.

Set up in 2009 as a not-for-profit organisation with a corpus of Rs 130 crore by Infosys co-founders N.R. Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, S. Gopalakrishnan, S.D. Shibulal and Dinesh and the Board of Trustees, the Foundation promotes interest in science and research in the country. (IANS)

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Sell-off in metal stocks, weak trade data drag equities lower

Nov 15, 2017 0

Mumbai– Key Indian equity indices on Wednesday were dragged lower for the third consecutive day as sentiments were hampered by weak global cues, a huge sell-off in metal stocks, as well as disappointing trade deficit data released a day before.

According to market observers, the NSE Nifty50 closed at its lowest level in almost five weeks.

On a closing basis, the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) fell by 68.55 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 10,118.05 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE closed at 32,760.44 points — down 181.43 points or 0.55 per cent — from Tuesday’s close.

The BSE market breadth was bearish — 1,991 declines and 720 advances.

“Markets corrected sharply on Wednesday to close with losses for the third consecutive session. Weak global cues and data showing widening of India’s trade deficit in October dampened investor sentiments,”Deepak Jasani, Head, Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

Official data released on Tuesday showed that India’s trade deficit widened to $14 billion in October as against $11.13 billion during the same period last year.

“Metal shares tumbled as prices of industrial metals declined in global commodities market. The Nifty hit its lowest closing level in five weeks,” Jasani added.

In terms of the broader markets, the BSE mid-cap closed lower by 1.01 per cent and the small-cap index by 1.52 per cent.

On the currency front, the rupee strengthened by 20-21 paise to 65.21-22 against the US dollar from its previous close at 65.42.

Vinod Nair, Head of Research, Geojit Financial Services, said: “Setbacks like widening in trade deficit, slowdown in factory output and hike in crude oil prices impacted the market which was already trading at premium valuation.”

“Additionally, choppy Q2 results during the latest leg of the result season failed to provide a reasonable comfort,” he added.

According to Dhruv Desai, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Tradebulls, the Nifty metal index slipped over three per cent tracking lower global commodity prices.

“Metal stocks like Vedanta and Hindalco Industries fell over four per cent each,” Desai told IANS.

“All the sectoral indices led by metal, power and FMCG closed in the red. Shares of oil refiners such as Hindustan Petroleum and aviation shares, including Indigo Airlines’ parent InterGlobe Aviation, jumped on plunging crude oil prices,” he added.

All the 19 sub-indices of the BSE closed in the red, led by the metal (down 434.40 points), consumer durables (down 280.82 points) and healthcare (down 179.42 points) indices.

Provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign institutional investors sold stocks worth Rs 381.42 crore, while domestic institutional investors purchased scrips worth Rs 869.09 crore.

Major Sensex gainers on Wednesday were: Asian Paints, up 1.96 per cent at Rs 1,176.85; Kotak Bank, up 1.29 per cent at Rs 1,012.20; Hero MotoCorp, up 0.72 per cent at Rs 3,680; ICICI Bank, up 0.54 per cent at Rs 315.55; and Infosys, up 0.26 per cent at Rs 951.95.

Major Sensex losers were: Sun Pharma, down 4.01 per cent at Rs 505.05; ONGC, down 2.55 per cent at Rs 177.35; Bharti Airtel, down 2.15 per cent at Rs 487.35; NTPC, down 1.70 per cent at Rs 173.95; and Lupin, down 1.50 per cent at Rs 822.65. (IANS)

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Mask fools Apple iPhone X’s Face ID

Nov 13, 2017 0

New Delhi– Using a composite 3D-printed mask, a team of Vietnamese researchers claim to have fooled Apple’s Face ID authentication system in “super-premium” iPhone X, stressing that face recognition is “not mature enough” to guarantee security for smartphones.

At iPhone X launch event, Apple’s Senior Vice President Phil Schiller had claimed that Face ID can distinguish human’s real face from masks, thanks to its artificial intelligence (AI).

Using a 3D printer, the team at Vietnamese security firm Bkav created a mask that cost them $150.

(Photo: Apple Twitter)

“Nose was made by a handmade artist. We use 2D printing for other parts (similar to how we tricked Face Recognition nine years ago). The skin was also hand-made to trick Apple’s Artificial Intelligence,” Bkav said in a blog post.

“The mask is crafted by combining 3D printing with makeup and 2D images, besides some special processing on the cheeks and around the face, where there are large skin areas, to fool AI of Face ID,” said Ngo Tuan Anh, Bkav’s Vice President of Cyber Security.

The Bkav security experts who also posted a video on how they did this, said that Face ID can be fooled by mask, which means it is not an effective security measure.

In 2008, Bkav was the first company in the world to show that face recognition was not an effective security measure for laptops when Toshiba, Lenovo and Asus used this technology for their products.

“Many people in the world have tried different kinds of masks but all failed. It is because we understand how AI of Face ID works and how to bypass it,” the firms said on its FAQ page.

“In the future, we might use smartphones with 3D scanning capabilities (like Sony XZ1); or set up a room with a 3D scanner, a few seconds is enough for the scanning (here’s an example of a 3D scanning booth),” it added.

Face ID projects more than 30,000 invisible IR dots and claims to only unlocks iPhone X when customers look at it and is designed to prevent spoofing by photos or masks.

Apple’s Face ID technology uses a TrueDepth camera system made up of a dot projector, infrared camera and flood illuminator, and is powered by A11 Bionic to accurately map and recognise a face.

According to the firm, the recognition mechanism is not as strict as one thinks and Apple seems to rely too much on Face ID’s AI.

“We just need half a face to create the mask. It was even simpler than we ourselves had thought,” Bkav said.

According to the firm, if exploited, Face ID can create problems.

“Potential targets shall not be regular users, but billionaires, leaders of major corporations, nation leaders and agents like FBI need to understand the Face ID’s issue.

“Security units’ competitors, commercial rivals of corporations, and even nations might benefit from our Proof of Concept,” Bkav noted.

As for biometric security, fingerprint is the best, said the firm which discovered the first critical flaw in Google Chrome just days after its launch in 2008. (IANS)

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Modi, Trump have ‘warm, productive meeting’ in Manila

Nov 13, 2017 0

Manila– Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump held a “warm and productive meeting” on the sidelines of the Asean Summit here on Monday and discussed issues of mutual interest.

A day after they held a brief interaction at a dinner hosted by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, the two leaders “discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest in a warm and productive meeting”, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

PM Modi and President Trump (Photo: twitter)

The meeting comes a day after India, US, Japan, and Australia held talks to begin the quadrilateral process for greater cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

Ahead of his meeting with Trump, Modi said: “Relations between India and the US are growing.”

“I also feel that these relations between India and the US are not just for our mutual interests but go much beyond that, and we are working together for the future of Asia and of the humanity as a whole.”

Modi said that in the past few days, wherever President Trump has travelled and whenever an opportunity arose to talk about India, he has expressed very high opinion about India and said things full of hope.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam last week, Trump commended India for achieving “astounding” growth since opening its economy and heaped praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he has been working to bring the country and its people together.

“I would like to assure you that whatever are the expectations of the world, of the United States from India, India has always worked and made efforts to do its bit and fulfil those expectations. We will continue to do so in the future too,” Modi said.

Briefing the media later here, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said the meeting between the two leaders lasted about 45 minutes.

He said the meeting started with Trump saying that there were a lot of good reports coming from India.

“He was talking mainly in economic terms,” Jaishankar said.

“The bilateral was mainly on economic issues. Trade and investment was discussed. Thrust of the discussion was on how to grow trade and investment,” he added.

This was the second Modi-Trump meeting after the Indian leader’s visit to Washington in June.

Modi arrived here on Sunday on a three-day visit to the Philippines during the course of which he will attend the 15th India-Asean Summit and the 12th East Asia Summit on Tuesday. (IANS)

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Vanu Bose, Son of Bose Founder Amar Bose, Software Pioneer and MIT Corporation Member, Dies at 52

Nov 13, 2017 0

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Vanu Bose, a leading software executive and a member of the MIT Corporation with deep ties to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and son of Bose Corporation Founder Late Amar Bose, died on Saturday at age 52. The cause of his death was a sudden pulmonary embolism, MIT announced.

Vanu Bose was the founder and CEO of Vanu, Inc., an innovative firm that provides wireless infrastructure globally and was the first company to receive certification for software-defined radio from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The firm’s technology, emerging from Bose’s graduate research at MIT, increases the role of software in operating the radio-based component of wireless communications networks, including those used for cellphone communications. Among other things, the technology enables multiple networks to operate on the same devices.

Vanu, Inc. has also developed cellular antenna systems that require relatively small amounts of energy and can run on solar power. The reduction in power needed for these networks has allowed the firm to help build out networks in rural areas around the world, from India to Rwanda to Vermont, and to address what Bose called the “great need for communication” in those areas.

Bose also recognized the humanitarian possibilities of the technology, and put the company to work this fall providing urgent help in hurricane-struck Puerto Rico. Vanu, Inc. is providing over 40 cellular base stations in Puerto Rico, some of which have already helped people find their missing families.

Vanu Bose (Photo: MIT)

“That makes it all worthwhile, right there,” Bose told Boston’s WBUR radio in October.

Bose had lifelong ties to MIT, growing up around the Institute in an environment filled with faculty, students, and alumni. His father, the late Amar G. Bose, was a professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) for nearly a half-century. Amar G. Bose also founded the Bose Corporation in 1964 and was one of the most committed benefactors the Institute has seen.

“The ‘Bose’ name has long been synonymous with brilliance, humility, leadership, and integrity,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “Through his work to use cellular technology to connect the unconnected — most recently, in Puerto Rico — Vanu embodied the very best of the MIT community, advancing the Institute’s vision for a better world. He was deeply proud of his father, Amar, and of Amar’s impact as an engineer, entrepreneur, and executive. And he built an extraordinary legacy of his own that I know made Amar proud.”

Reif added: “On behalf of MIT, I send my deepest condolences to Judy, Kamala, Prema, Maya, Ursula, and the entire Bose family.”

Vanu Bose earned three degrees from MIT: his Bachelor of Science in 1988, in both Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Mathematics; his Master of Science in 1994, in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and his PhD in 1999.

Bose’s doctoral thesis, titled “Virtual Radio Architecture,” was supervised by professors John Guttag and David Tennenhouse. Bose’s graduate research came to form the basis of Vanu, Inc., which he founded in 1998, even before Bose had fully completed his PhD work — but after it had become clear that his work had the potential to move the industry forward.

As a life-long participant in the open, collaborative intellectual atmosphere around MIT, Bose came to appreciate the way MIT alumni who founded companies would stay connected to the Institute and pass on their own insights and pieces of wisdom to students and researchers in the community.

“I think it’s a unique part of the MIT experience that there are not only so many great founders around, but that they make themselves accessible,” Bose told the EECS Connector, an alumni publication, in 2015.

As a company founder and alumnus himself, Bose made sure to continue the tradition of working to support new generations of MIT researchers. At the time of his death, he was engaged in fostering and guiding the Bose Fellows Program at MIT, an initiative founded in 2014 that gives grants of up to $500,000 for three years, to let faculty members pursue bold, cutting-edge research programs.

“My father would be very happy with the innovation and freedom of exploration that these grants have made possible, as it was exactly what he was all about,” said Bose in 2016, when announcing the latest group of grant recipients. “The awards acknowledge the spirit of insatiable curiosity that my father embraced.”

Vanu Bose also served on the advisory board of the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program, an initiative that adds leadership education to the engineering skills of MIT undergraduates.

And from 2013 onward, Bose served as a member of the MIT Corporation, the Institute’s board of trustees.

“We are all shocked to lose Vanu Bose, a warm and valuable member of our community,” says Robert B. Millard, chairman of the MIT Corporation. “And our hearts go out to Vanu’s family, which has been such an indelible part of MIT.  We’ve really lost a beautiful human.”

In turn, Bose’s MIT activities were only part of a larger set of civic responsibilities he assumed during his career. Bose was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Boston Museum of Science from 2007 through 2013, helping steer it through a period of growth and development. He also served on the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development, from 2012 through 2015.

In his professional career, Bose also served the Bose Corp. as a member of its Trustee Succession Committee.

Bose won a number of awards and honors in his professional career, including IEEE Spectrum magazine’s “Wireless Winner” in 2007, and the GSM Association Technology Award for Most Innovative Infrastructure Product. He was also named a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.

Vanu Bose is survived by his wife, Judith, his daughter, Kamala, his mother, Prema, his sister, Maya and his father’s wife, Ursula.

(This article is published from MIT News.)

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Apple hiring more diverse workers but women

Nov 10, 2017 0

San Francisco– When it comes to gender equality, Apple has a long way to go. According to the company’s annual diversity report only about a third of its employees are women.

The Cupertino-based iPhone maker’s annual “Inclusion & Diversity Report” said, as of July 2017, only 32 per cent of its workforce were women, which is the same level as it was in 2016.

Tim Cook

The report is the first since Apple hired Denise Young Smith, former head of HR, as new Vice President to oversee the diversity as workplace, a report in CNET on Friday said.

Apple’s top leadership too, showed little improvement in terms of hiring women.

“In the past year, the number of women in leadership roles rose one percentage point to 29 per cent. That was after staying flat at 28 per cent from 2014 to 2016,” the report added.

When it comes to female representation in the company, Apple, however, said “it is steadily increasing”.

“For example, 36 per cent of our employees under 30 are women. That’s an increase of five percentage points since 2014,” the company said.

Apple is still predominantly run by men who make up 71 per cent of the leaders at the company worldwide.

“White people make up 66 per cent of the leaders at Apple in the US. Only three per cent of Apple’s leaders in the US are black, only seven per cent are Hispanic and just one per cent are multi-racial,” TechCrunch reported.

When it came to underrepresented minorities, Apple reported a one percentage point increase to 23 per cent.

“From July 2016 to July 2017, half of our new hires in the US were from historically underrepresented groups in tech — women, Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander,” Apple said.

Apple has 130,000 employees worldwide and 83,000 in the US.

“Diversity is our future. Apple is a multi-generational company with employees from 18 to 85.

“As Apple continues to grow, we’re highly encouraged that our employees under 30 reflect an increasing diversity,” Apple said. (IANS)

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Trump pitches ‘America First’ trade policy at APEC Summit

Nov 10, 2017 0

Da Nang (Vietnam)–  US President Donald Trump on Friday pitched an “America First” trade policy at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) here, warning that he will not allow “the US to be taken advantage of any more.”

Speaking at a gathering of business leaders, Trump demanded trade “on a fair and equal basis” and returned to his campaign rhetoric, promising to place America first in global deals and agreements.

President Donald Trump

“We are not going to let the US be taken advantage of any more,” Trump said, speaking shortly after arriving in Vietnam, his fourth stop on a five-country tour through Asia.

“I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first,” the Washington Post reported.

APEC brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region — the equivalent of about 60 per cent of the world’s GDP.

The US President’s more fiery and protectionist tone offered a stark departure from just a day earlier, when in Beijing, Trump seemed reluctant to press his case as sharply with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Post said.

There, Trump lavished praise on Xi and blamed his predecessors, not China, for the trade imbalance.

He also laid out Washington’s new approach to trade, telling the audience at the summit on Friday that he would no longer pursue multinational trade agreements “that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible”.

“I will make bilateral trade agreements with any Indo-Pacific nation that wants to be our partner and that will abide by the principles of fair and reciprocal trade,” Trump said without directly mentioning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a major trade deal with 12 APEC member countries.

After taking office, Trump pulled the US out of the TPP, arguing that it would hurt US economic interests.

In a tacit knock on Chinese leaders, the US leader said Washington would “no longer tolerate the audacious theft of intellectual property”, CNN reported.

“We will confront the destructive practices of forcing businesses to surrender their technology to the state, and forcing them into joint ventures in exchange for market access,” he said.

Businesses in the US have long complained about China failing to honour intellectual property rights.

Immediately after Trump left the stage, Xi took his place, delivering a starkly contrasting speech that argued for pursuing the kinds of global initiatives that the US President had shunned.

The Chinese leader championed the Paris climate accord, called globalization an “irreversible historical trend” and said China would continued to pursue a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific.

“Against the backdrop of evolving global developments, economic globalization also faces new adjustments both in form and substance,” Xi said.

“In pursuing economic globalization, we should make it more open, more inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all.”

Trump also continued the tough talk on North Korea. He said the region “must not be held hostage to a dictator’s twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail”.

APEC comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, the US, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.

As Trump arrived in Danang, the White House announced that he would not hold formal talks with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin on the sidelines of the APEC summit meeting.

Citing “scheduling conflicts on both sides”, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that no formal meeting will take place.

After Vietnam, Trump will travel to the Philippines for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit. (IANS)

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Google Pixel 2 XL: Promising flagship device with stunning camera

Nov 9, 2017 0

By Krishna SinhaChaudhury

New Delhi– As Google joined race in the premium smartphone segment by launching Pixel last year, Apple and Samsung, the two segment leaders, took immediate note of it.

The fight was no more between the two traditional arch rivals as Google entered the arena after bidding adieu to its Nexus line-up in favour of Pixel smartphones that it designed, developed and marketed on its own.

The first Pixel devices created a ripple in the market. Now, the tech giant has launched the second edition of the Pixel line-up and we got the bigger sibling — the Pixel 2 XL — for review.

At the starting price of Rs 73,000 (64GB variant), the device is set to give some tough competition to iPhone 8 Plus. Let’s see how.

Pixel 2 XL’s build and appearance will impress you the moment you hold it. Google has served up a metal unibody smartphone with a soft matte finish that makes the device extremely ergonomic. This is something all-glass and metal body phones lack these days.

The matte finish also ensures the device remains free of fingerprint smudges. This feature is, however, subjective and some might find it a bit “plasticky”.

Pixel 2 XL joins the bandwagon of bezel-less display smartphones and hence has a taller-than-wider frame to accommodate a 6-inch 18:9 screen in a smaller frame and has almost 76.5 per cent screen-to-body ratio.

However, this is not a flagship with the slimmest bezel as LG has fitted Pixel 2 XL with front-firing stereo speakers which is a refreshing change from usual bottom firing ones.

A major high point as well as the best feature is Pixel 2 XL’s camera. It doesn’t house a dual-sensor like Apple iPhone 8 Plus, but the single camera lens outperforms many flagship devices out there in the market.

There is a 12MP primary sensor and an 8MP fixed-focus selfie camera.

The rear shooter has been upgraded with a brighter f/1.8 aperture and optical stabilisation (OIS), as well as electronic stabilisation, resulting in detailed images with crisp colour reproduction and accurate tones.

Focusing on a subject happened in a snap and there was literally no shutter lag for us.

Low-light photography was pretty impressive albeit with a slight decrease in the focus speed.

It’s also interesting to see how the primary camera’s portrait mode churns out great images with blurred background sans dual sensors.

The front shooter too is capable of producing quality selfies and portrait shots.

We especially liked the hefty 3520mAh battery that enabled us to get a day-and-a-half usage on a single charge. It really took power-intensive tasks for us to drain the battery on this device.

Apart from unlocking the device in a snap, the fingerprint sensor on Pixel 2 XL can also be used to access the notification panel with a swipe down.

“Google Lens” uses machine learning (ML) capabilities to recognise places, objects and streets, etc, from the clicked images to give more information about them.

What does not work?

On the most-talked about “blue tint” issue, we did notice it the moment we tilted the phone at different angles. Also, the colours look a little washed out when compared to flagships like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

However, Google has promised to fix the issue via an update in the coming weeks.

We did not find the screen “burn-in” issue that some early users had reported during a week-long use.

The pressure sensors on the lower edges of the device activate Google Assistant which is similar to what we saw on HTC U11.

It is a bit disappointing to see it fire up only Google Assistant and silence incoming phone calls. However, the user can change the intensity of pressure to avoid activating it while pulling it out of pocket.

Conclusion: A great camera, timely updates and security patches (which other OEMs tend to miss), a plain understated design language, stock Android Oreo Operating System (OS) and top-notch Snapdragon 835 chipset make the device a promising, power-packed flagship over iPhone 8 Plus. (IANS)

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