Samsung May Cancel Galaxy Fold Pre-Orders; World’s Fastest Supercomputer- Cray & AMD; Instagram To Let Users Appeal Take Downs; Dropbox Adding Cold Storage

If Samsung can’t ship the Galaxy Fold by March 31st, pre-orders will automatically be cancelled. Businessinsider.com reports that an email notice also says “If we do not hear from you,” so buyers are getting a chance to reaffirm their pre-orders. Samsung says the auto cancellation is due to US regulations. A new release date has yet to be announced. The nearly $2000 folding smartphone/phablet had problems with a crease at the hinge and screen failures in the hands of reviewers…some within just 2 days.

There has been something of a back and forth race to have the fastest supercomputer between the US and China the last couple years. Now, according to theverge.com, AMD will partner with Cray to build “Frontier,” a supercomputer pitched as able to produce more than 1.5 exaflops per second of processing power. It will be built for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The brute will be used in nuclear and climate research. How much is 1.5 exaflops? They say it is the power of the next 160 supercomputers combined! It will take up almost two basketball courts worth of floor space and need 90 miles of cabling. China says they will have their new supercomputer running by next year, a year ahead of the US.

Instagram is planning to roll out a new appeals procedure for posts that have been taken down. It should be out within a couple months. engadget.com says users will get a response in ‘a timely manner.’ The platform said the takedown feature had been added to combat bullying and misinformation, but up to now, hasn’t had a way to appeal the take downs.

A few years ago, Dropbox started moving to its own data centers and away from AWS in order to control how files were stored and accessed. Since then, they have found that a lot of people upload files, then rarely access them again. Techcrunch.com says that now they will add a Cold Storage feature to the service. The trick is making it so users can access both the ‘warm’ files and cold storage ones without a lot of delay in the files opening. Box claims that the cold storage will save them 25% on disk space, and 10-15% in costs over time, while still offering quick access to files by users.


Apple-WWDC & iPhone News; Amazon One Day Shipping & Shrinkage; Google Pixel Price Screw Up; USAF Gets Lasers Dr. Evil Would Love

New rumors for what we might see at Apple’s WWDC have landed. According to 9to5mac.com, the Apple Watch may get its own App Store ON the Watch! This would launch with WatchOS 6. ‘Dose’ and ‘Cycles’ apps for pill reminders and menstrual cycle tracking respectively. A couple watch faces with ‘X-Large’ fonts. iOS 13 will get Dark Mode toggling right in the Control Center, and a new, systemwide Sleep Mode is coming that also works in Control Center. It turns on Do Not Disturb, darkens the Lock Screen, and mutes all notifications. An improved Maps app, including easier setting of frequent locations.

On the iPhone front, well-reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the 2019 iPhones will get a new antenna design…a modified-PI structure. It should help coverage with high-frequency cellular transmissions. It should bring better performance to LTE, and obviously looks ahead to 5G tech. A down side…the new tech is 10-20% more expensive…but don’t expect that kind of a bump in prices…that’s just for the antenna part, which isn’t a huge factor in iPhone materials costs.

It’s been reported that Amazon is gearing up for 1 day shipping for Prime members as standard. Now, CNBC has crunched the numbers, and determined that Amazon can ALREADY ship one-day to 72% of the US population. The have made significant progress in building their delivery network in the past 4 years, via acquiring planes for Prime Air and adding more delivery partners. According to RBC Capital Markets, Amazon has double the distribution space as Home Depot! If you need something immediately, a brick and mortar store is still your best bet in most cases, but one-day delivery cuts in to that advantage significantly.

With all the security Amazon has around their distribution centers, and horror stories about employees tracked so closely that can barely take a bathroom break, you’d think shrinkage…or employee theft…would be almost impossible. Apparently not! Geek.com reports that 4 Amazon warehouse workers have been busted in Delaware for making off with $100,000 worth of Apple Watches and other merchandise. In a police photo after the bust, you can make out some 9 Apple watches, an iPad, and a laptop. Trial dates have been set for 3 of them, with a warrant out for the 4th, who flew the coop.

We reported last week on how soft sales had seen Google offer 50% off on Pixel phones if bought through GoogleFi. Now, 9to5google.com says there was a screw up. People who chose to but the phone with a payment plan were accidentally charged full price for the phones…not even the $200 discount Google is still offering on them! Google has acknowledged the goof, and is making the discount price good to all who bought phones through this channel.

Dr Evil’s greatest thrill in Mike Myers’ Austin Powers movies was ‘Sharks with fricking laser beams!’ He would probably get a pretty good rise out of what theverge.com is reporting now. Apparently, the US Air Force has successfully tested a jet mounted laser system that can shoot down multiple targets…whether they are surface to air launched missiles or air to air from enemy planes. The laser system can reportedly recharge nearly instantly, so it is a formidable defensive weapon. Of course, it comes with the usual military naming convention…SHiELD….for Self-Protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator. The one down side is true of all lasers…weather. It will be of limited or zero usefulness in heavy fog, etc. The Army is also testing such a system for Apache attack choppers, and the Navy is working on one for warships. Pew, pew, pew!


Facebook Bans Alex Jones & Others; Facebook Under FTC Scrutiny; Google Pixel 3a Price Leak; Samsung Galaxy Tab Drops WiFi; Apple Watch Dominates Wearables

Facebook has banned several (mainly) far right people and groups for violating their rules. Alex Jones & Infowars, Louis Farrakhan, Laura Loomer, Paul Nehlen, Paul Joseph Watson, and Milo Yiannopoulos and groups that follow them were cut. Engadget.com quoted Facebook’s statement: “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology.” They claimed it took so long to deliver these bans due to the “extensive” process of evaluating potential offenders.

Probably helping to move them along in this and other actions to clean up their act is the FTC. In addition to some $3 billion in fines that have already been disclosed, the FTC is apparently demanding creation of an ‘independent’ privacy oversight committee, so it is safe to say that the FTC is probably also dangling requirements concerning those who have stirred up hate and spread blatant lies.

We’ve reported on Google’s practically official budget Pixel line, thought to be coming out to pick up the slack in sagging hero Pixel sales. Now, a leak may indicate the pricing. According to theverge.com, YouTube channel This Is Tech Today claims they will be $399 for the Pixel 3a and $479 for the 3a XL. That’s for the base model with 64 Gigs. The channel showed off what looks like official packaging with a bar code, which indicates a Walmart listing for an unlocked Pixel 3a. The packaging indicates a 5.6 inch screen size.

Only Samsung could have two disasters on equipment at the same time, and be likely to actually survive and move on. After the fiery Galaxy Note a couple years ago, they now have the Galaxy Fold screen issues that have delayed release, and NOW the new Galaxy Tab has an unfixable problem. In shades of an iPhone that could have its antenna blocked by your hand, bgr.com says the Galaxy Tab S5e has a similar problem. If you hold the tab horizontally, with your hand on the lower left corner, the WiFi will drop…or drop off badly. No software fix will really help this, so if you buy this tablet, just keep in mind not to hold it horizontally with your left hand on the lower left corner.

Apple Watch retains its crown as the world’s most popular smartwatch by a wide margin. According to macrumors.com, the Watch was snagging 35.8% of the market January through March of this year. Samsung is a distant 2nd, with 11.1%, with Fitbit getting 5.5%. A survey found that the ECG function on the new Series 4 that came out last fall is the most desired feature.


Facebook F8; Google Tool Limits Data Retention Time; Fitbit Bests Q1 Predictions; Netflix Is Rolling Out Better Audio

Facebook kicked off its F8 developer conference yesterday with Mark Zuckerberg repeating again the ‘future is private.’ Although he tried to joke that they hadn’t been so great with peoples’ data in the past (and got an awkward silence from the audience), he went on to show off changes coming. 9to5mac.com reports that the primary Facebook app will lose the blue bar at the top, and will sport a redesigned top bar that should make it easier to navigate. There will be a greater focus on Groups…with a featured tab at the top bar. The build is out to day for mobile-at least for developers- and coming soon to desktops. Messenger gets end to end encryption, and they are building in interoperability between Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Preorders opened for the wireless Oculus Quest VR headset. It doesn’t require a PC or Mac with the VR option, and starts at $399.

Google says in the next few weeks, they will roll out a setting for their apps that will let users delete location data automatically. According to venturebeat.com, you will be able to choose a 3 month window or an 18 month window. The deletion choice will also extend to web and app activity like things searched or browsed for in Discover on Android, Maps, Search, and Google Play. Google also says older data will be deleted on a regular basis.

Fitbit announced that he beat Q1 expectations as their smartwatch business grew 117% year over year. Techcrunch.com says Wall Street looked for $259.7 million in revenue, and Fitbit brought home $271.9 million. The tracker part of their business grew more modestly….17% year over year.

Netflix has been working of making the audio better, both for its original content and licensed content. Bgr.com reports that they are bumping the bit rate up form 192Kbps to 640Kbps, and using a machine learning algorithm that analyzes your connection in real time and adjusts the audio. You will need an extra 10Mbps to handle the higher quality audio in the stream. If you are just listening over the little, crappy speakers in your TV, none of this will make much difference. If you have good speakers or a sound bar that supports Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Atmos, you’re in luck.