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Apple reveals new iPad Air as alternative to the iPad Pro

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Apple has announced an updated version of the iPad Air that borrows heavily from the excellent iPad Pro – without being quite as expensive.

The revamped iPad Air (the company’s mid-range tablet between the regular iPad and the Pro) now has slimmer bezels and a more squared-off design. Despite having the same footprint as the original iPad Air, the new design crams in a larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with a 2,360 x 1,640 pixel resolution.

The new design is only 6.1mm thin and, as Apple points out, is made completely from 100% recycled aluminium.

Apple has kept the TouchID fingerprint scanner rather than shifting to the FaceID unlock method of the iPad Pro. But in order to keep the design as svelte as possible, the new TouchID sensor is located in the power button.

The new iPad Air will also support the second generation Apple Pencil (the same as the Pro) and Apple has also made the switch from the custom Lightning port to a standard USB-C port on the base of the tablet. This allows for up to 5Gbps data transfer, which Apple says is 10 times faster for connecting to cameras, hard drives, and external monitors up to 4K.

Apple’s vice president of Hardware Engineering Laura Legros unveils the all-new iPad Air during a special event at the company’s headquarters of Apple Park (Reuters)

A big part of the upgrade for the new iPad Air comes in the form of the A14 Bionic processor which, Apple says, delivers a 40% performance increase over the last iPad Air. The A14 Bionic includes a new 16-core Neural Engine that is twice as fast, and capable of performing up to 11 trillion operations per second.

‘Today we’re excited to introduce a completely redesigned and far more powerful iPad Air, debuting Apple’s most powerful chip ever made, the A14 Bionic,’ said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

‘With its gorgeous new all-screen design, larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display, next-generation Touch ID, and a massive boost in performance with A14 Bionic, the new iPad Air brings customers powerful pro features at an even more affordable price.’

epa08671412 A handout video still image made available by Apple Inc. showing introducing the all-new iPad Air, Apple's most powerful, versatile, and colorful iPad Air during an Apple Event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, USA, 15 September 2020. EPA/APPLE / HANDOUT HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

There’s a choice of five different colours (Credits: EPA)

The new iPad Air comes in a choice of five different colours: silver, space grey, rose gold, green, and sky blue.

There are two different choices of iPad Air – either just the WiFi model or the WiFi and cellular version, the latter of which allows you to throw in a SIM card and use it out and about. Prices start at £579 for the WiFi version and £709 for the cellular model. That grants you 64GB of storage in both cases although a more expensive version with 256GB of storage will also be available.

Alongside the iPad Air, Apple also refreshed its regular 10.2-inch iPad with a new A12 Bionic processor that first appeared with the iPhone XS a couple of years ago. The refreshed iPad – known as iPad 8th generation – can now use Apple’s ‘Neural Engine’ which should bring twice the graphical performance for things like gaming.

epa08671435 A handout video still image made available by Apple Inc. introducing the eighth-generation iPad features the powerful A12 Bionic with the Neural Engine, a 10.2-inch Retina display, in space gray, silver, and gold finishes during an Apple Event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, USA, 15 September 2020. EPA/APPLE / HANDOUT HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

The entry-level iPad has also been updated with a new processor but keeps the same price (Credits: EPA)

The eight-generation iPad comes in either space gray, silver or gold and with a choice of either 32GB or 128GB of storage. The rest of the stuff is the same here – it still uses the first generation Apple Pencil and sticks with the Lightning connector.

‘With its beautiful 10.2-inch Retina display, the performance boost from the A12 Bionic, great cameras, and so much more, the new iPad is an incredible value at a time when, more than ever, our customers need powerful and versatile ways to work, play, learn, and connect with loved ones,’ said Joswiak.

This iPad keeps the starting price of £329 for the WiFi model and £459 for the Wi-Fi + cellular model.

Both the iPad eighth generation is available to pre-order now and will be in stores on Friday, while the iPad Air will arrive at some point next month.



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Community Testing Suggests Bias in Twitter’s Cropping Algorithm

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With social media and online services are now huge parts of daily life to the point that our entire world is being shaped by algorithms. Arcane in their workings, they are responsible for the content we see and the adverts we’re shown. Just as importantly, they decide what is hidden from view as well.

Important: Much of this post discusses the performance of a live website algorithm. Some of the links in this post may not perform as reported if viewed at a later date. 

The initial Zoom problem that brought Twitter’s issues to light.

Recently, [Colin Madland] posted some screenshots of a Zoom meeting to Twitter, pointing out how Zoom’s background detection algorithm had improperly erased the head of a colleague with darker skin. In doing so, [Colin] noticed a strange effect — although the screenshot he submitted shows both of their faces, Twitter would always crop the image to show just his light-skinned face, no matter the image orientation. The Twitter community raced to explore the problem, and the fallout was swift.

Intentions != Results

An example pair of source images posted to Twitter, featuring two faces in alternate orientations.

Twitter users began to iterate on the problem, testing over and over again with different images. Stock photo models were used, as well as newsreaders, and images of Lenny and Carl from the Simpsons,  In the majority of cases, Twitter’s algorithm cropped images to focus on the lighter-skinned face in a photo. In perhaps the most ridiculous example, the algorithm cropped to a black comedian pretending to be white over a normal image of the same comedian.

The result – Twitter’s algorithm crops on the white face, regardless of orientation.

Many experiments were undertaken, controlling for factors such as differing backgrounds, clothing, or image sharpness. Regardless, the effect persisted, leading Twitter to speak officially on the issue. A spokesperson for the company stated “Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. But it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. We’ll continue to share what we learn, what actions we take, and will open source our analysis so others can review and replicate.”

There’s little evidence to suggest that such a bias was purposely coded into the cropping algorithm; certainly, Twitter doesn’t publically mention any such intent in their blog post on the technology back in 2018. Regardless of this fact, the problem does exist, with negative consequences for those impacted. While a simple image crop may not sound like much, it has the effect of reducing the visibility of affected people and excluding them from online spaces. The problem has been highlighted before, too. In this set of images of a group of AI commentators from January of 2019, the Twitter image crop focused on men’s faces, and women’s chests. The dual standard is particularly damaging in professional contexts, where women and people of color may find themselves seemingly objectified, or cut out entirely, thanks to the machinations of a mysterious algorithm.

The problem remained consistent in many community tests, involving newsreaders, cartoons, and even golden and black labradors.

Former employees, like [Ferenc Huszár], have also spoken on the issue — particularly about the testing process the product went through prior to launch. It suggests that testing was done to explore this issue, with regards to bias on race and gender. Similarly, [Zehan Wang], currently an engineering lead for Twitter, has stated that these issues were investigated as far back as 2017 without any major bias found.

It’s a difficult problem to parse, as the algorithm is, for all intents and purposes, a black box. Twitter users are obviously unable to observe the source code that governs the algorithm’s behaviour, and thus testing on the live site is the only viable way for anyone outside of the company to research the issue. Much of this has been done ad-hoc, with selection bias likely playing a role. Those looking for a problem will be sure to find one, and more likely to ignore evidence that counters this assumption.

Efforts are being made to investigate the issue more scientifically, using many studio-shot sample images to attempt to find a bias. However, even these efforts have come under criticism – namely, that using an source image set designed for machine learning and shot in perfect studio lighting against a white background is not realistically representative of real images that users post to Twitter.

Some users attempted to put the cause down to issues of contrast, saturation, or similar reasons. Whether or not this is a potential cause is inconclusive. Regardless, if your algorithm will only recognise people of color if they’re digitally retouched, you have a problem.

Twitter’s algorithm isn’t the first technology to be accused of racial bias; from soap dispensers to healthcare, these problems have been seen before. Fundamentally though, if Twitter is to solve the problem to anyone’s satisfaction, more work is needed. A much wider battery of tests, featuring a broad sampling of real-world images, needs to be undertaken, and the methodology and results shared with the public. Anything less than this, and it’s unlikely that Twitter will be able to convince the wider userbase that its software isn’t failing minorities. Given that there are gains to be made in understanding machine learning systems, we expect research will continue at a rapid pace to solve the issue.



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Anti-Piracy Group Seeks Owners Of YTS, Pirate Bay And Others

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The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is attempting to uncover the owners of pirate sites like YTS, Pirate Bay, Tamilrockers, and several others.

For that purpose, ACE previously filed a DMCA subpoena that requires Cloudflare to unveil operators of several pirate sites. According to the latest report from Torrent Freak, a total of 46 high profile pirate websites have been named by the anti-piracy coalition.

ACE is an anti-piracy organization that crackdowns on the operators of pirate websites. Some of its members include Amazon, Netflix, Disney, and Paramount Pictures. The latest targets of this crackdown are pirate sites using Cloudflare. For the uninitiated, Cloudflare is a content delivery network (CDN) service provider used by millions of websites globally.

In the first half of 2020, Cloudflare received 31 such requests, concerning 83 accounts, most of which were related to adult sites.

The current subpoena targets 46 pirate websites, including some big fish like Pirate Bay, YTS, 1337x, 123Movies, and more. Once in action, it’ll force Cloudflare to reveal the IP addresses, emails, names, physical addresses, phone numbers, and payment methods of the people operating these websites.

Here is the list of domains that ACE wants to gather information on —

  • yts.mx
  • pelisplus.me
  • 1337x.to F
  • seasonvar.ru
  • cuevana3.io
  • kinogo.by
  • thepiratebay.org
  • lordfilm.cx
  • swatchseries.to
  • eztv.io
  • 123movies.la
  • megadede.com
  • sorozatbarat.online
  • cinecalidad.is
  • limetorrents.info
  • cinecalidad.to
  • kimcartoon.to F
  • tamilrockers.ws
  • cima4u.io
  • fullhdfilmizlesene.co
  • yggtorrent.si
  • time2watch.io
  • online-filmek.me
  • lordfilms-s.pw
  • extremedown.video
  • streamkiste.tv
  • dontorrent.org
  • kinozal.tv
  • fanserial.net
  • 5movies.to
  • altadefinizione.group
  • cpasmieux.org
  • primewire.li
  • primewire.ag
  • primewire.vc
  • series9.to
  • europixhd.io
  • oxtorrent.pw
  • pirateproxy.voto
  • rarbgmirror.org
  • rlsbb.ru
  • gnula.se
  • rarbgproxied.org
  • seriespapaya.nu
  • tirexo.com
  • cb01.events
  • kinox.to
  • filmstoon.pro
  • descargasdd.net

Earlier in August, it was reported that torrent giant YTS had revealed user data with a law firm. This led to the users receiving letters from the law firm, asking them to pay around $1,000 for using the pirate site or be named in a lawsuit for piracy.

Recently, ACE has set out on a crusade to banish pirate websites. While there has been no significant action from the group in the past few years, 2020 is seeing increasing activity in reporting and controlling piracy.

The post Anti-Piracy Group Seeks Owners Of YTS, Pirate Bay And Others appeared first on Fossbytes.



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Google is making a major change to one of the best Chrome features

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  • Google announced that the Chrome browser will shut down support for paid extensions, advising developers to make appropriate changes as the feature is deprecated.
  • Google explained that the web has evolved dramatically since the introduction of the Chrome Web Store, and developers have other tools at their disposal to monetize content.
  • The deprecation of the extension payments feature should also bolster the security of Chrome, preventing spammy extensions and scams from harming users.

Google’s Chrome internet browser may be a resource hog that kills laptop batteries, but it’s still the most popular browser in the world. One of the things that make it so popular is the support for extensions that can significantly improve one’s browsing experience. That’s an area where Apple’s Safari lags behind, and one reason I’ve stayed with Chrome on the MacBook for years.

But Google plans a significant change for Chrome shortly — well, another major change — that will impact Chrome extension developers directly. Google is now shutting down paid Chrome extensions, telling developers that they will have to find a new way to charge their customers.

Google put up a support page that addresses the change and the timeline for the update. The Chrome Web Store Payments deprecation will not happen instantly, so developers have time to make the appropriate changes. But all payments will be disabled by February 1st, 2021. Here’s what will happen once we reach that deadline:

Your existing items and in-app purchases can no longer charge money with Chrome Web Store payments. You can still query license information for previously paid purchases and subscriptions. (The licensing API will accurately reflect the status of active subscriptions, but these subscriptions won’t auto-renew.)

Developers who want to charge money for new extensions will not be able to do so and will have to find other ways of monetizing their Chrome apps.

Google isn’t shutting the door to monetization completely, it’s just the Chrome Web Store Payments system that’s shutting down, and Google. Developers will have to migrate to a different payment processor, and they’ll have to migrate license tracking as well. This may sound like a task for developers only, but Google does not that users might need to “help:”

There is no way to bulk export your existing user licenses, so you need to have your users help with this part of the migration.

In other words, if you’re paying for any Chrome extension, you should make sure you have your license ready when the time comes to transition to something else, especially if you’re on some subscription plan.

Google explains that the web “has come a long way” since the Chrome Web Store was launched, and that’s why things are changing. “In the years since, the ecosystem has grown, and developers now have many payment-handling options available to them,” Google says.

One other reason to remove Chrome Web Store payment support concerns user security. Google confirmed earlier this year an uptick in the number of fraudulent transactions that involved Chrome extensions, having temporarily disabled publishing paid items in late January.



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