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That TikTok hearing was pretty messed up, right?

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That TikTok hearing was pretty messed up, right?

Yesterday continued Congress’s current historical past of calling tech executives right into a listening to to berate them about their extreme assortment of customers’ non-public knowledge for monetary means. However the place Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai suffered via the hearings solely to face little to no repercussions for his or her probably egregious assortment of information and anti-competitive practices, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was met with one thing way more outlined — and the customers of his platform instantly picked up on it.

“Your platform needs to be banned,” was one of many first issues Chew heard when the listening to began. That was from Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) in her opening assertion. Her thoughts appeared made up, as did most of the members of Congress on the Home Vitality and Commerce Committee, and for the subsequent few hours, Chew was berated by the committee members for every thing from TikTok challenges to NyQuil hen.

The members appeared notably curious about TikTok’s relationship with China. And that is smart. China is an authoritarian capitalist state the place the federal government will fortunately exert affect to construct revenue however the place it additionally has undue affect over the businesses that base their operations there. As a result of TikTok’s father or mother firm, ByteDance, relies in China, there’s potential for China to realize entry to knowledge managed by TikTok that it may not have the ability to for firms based mostly in different nations, resembling Meta and Google.

China’s attain on this regard is broad, and its skill to exert affect is highly effective. When Canada arrested the CFO and daughter of Huawei’s founder in 2018, China retaliated by arresting two Canadians and retrying and sentencing a 3rd to loss of life. “Due to the character of the political system in China, you’re naturally related to the federal government, and the federal government might put numerous stress on any agency in China to show in knowledge and to spy on different nations,” Lynette Ong, an affiliate professor of political science on the College of Toronto, advised me on the time.

China’s additionally retaliated towards its personal residents. When Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, spoke out towards deliberate tech regulation, he appeared to vanish in a similar way to the well-known actress Fan Bingbing (her crime was failing to pay sufficient taxes).

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And customers on TikTok took discover

However China’s skill to exert horrible affect on its firms and residents and the way that may make TikTok vulnerable to undue affect wasn’t the road of questioning Congress appeared curious about pursuing. The few occasions it did come up, the questioning Congress member would typically proceed their rant, by no means giving Chew time to reply. Congress spent numerous time asking him about affiliations with the Chinese language Communist Occasion — China’s sole ruling political celebration. Incessantly, they might seek advice from the celebration, usually known as the CCP, as “communists,” calling again to the times of McCarthyism.

Between their obsession with communism, their typically obnoxious and condescending tone, and the occasional assumption that Chew was Chinese language, regardless of his repeated reminders that he’s Singaporean, the listening to was a bizarre, brutal, xenophobic mess. And customers on TikTok took discover.

They weren’t followers. The app has been flooded with movies (which TikTok itself might very effectively be boosting) of customers mocking Congress, supporting Chew and TikTok, and mentioning the flagrant hypocrisy of Congress’s determination to focus on TikTok whereas ignoring the equally egregious abuse of information and algorithms by its American opponents. TikTok may drive harmful challenges embraced by teenagers, however I don’t assume it’s incited a genocide as Meta has.

That is type of the issue with partaking in a xenophobic and deeply hypocritical marketing campaign towards a single, wildly standard app. Its very engaged customers will discover you’re being an asshole! And whereas Chew actually didn’t do himself or TikTok numerous favors yesterday or within the years since Trump first known as for a ban, Congress was in uncommon kind.

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The thought of a Congressional listening to is you get folks mad and in your facet so you could have the political capital to push via no matter payments you’ve written on the matter. However typically you simply appear like a dumbass, and Congress appeared thunderingly out of contact yesterday. No matter political capital they’d hoped to realize was misplaced on the customers of TikTok. Representatives lectured Chew and TikTok customers over the hazard of the app, however wrapping it up in bizarre xenophobic rhetoric and tech illiteracy simply made them look pathetic to the viewers they had been making an attempt to achieve.

If the plan was to get folks to rethink utilizing TikTok as the USA jockeys for a worldwide management with China, I don’t assume it succeeded. Not if all our FYP feeds are something to go by.

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Samsung has big ambitions for the Galaxy Ring

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Samsung has big ambitions for the Galaxy Ring

At Galaxy Unpacked last month, Samsung teased a brand new wearable in a new product category with not much more than a splashy video and a name: Galaxy Ring. Now, we have a little more to go on, including the fact that it’s expected to arrive this year.

I got some hands-on time with a prototype ring ahead of Mobile World Congress — it’s very light and comes in three colors, though Samsung emphasizes that the final product is subject to change. But I also got a sense of Samsung’s bigger goals for this new product line, which it sees as not just another wearable — but part of the company’s vision for a future of ambient sensing (more on that in a minute).

The Galaxy Ring prototypes I was able to try out were presented in three colors: platinum silver, ceramic black, and gold. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos during that session, but gold looked right at home next to my wedding ring. The Galaxy Ring is lighter than it looks and doesn’t feel as dense as I thought it would. It has a slightly concave shape, and each color was offered in sizes from 5 to 13, which is a slightly wider range of options than usual, with sizes marked as S through XL on the inside of the band.

The Galaxy Ring supplies data that informs a new kind of readiness score in the Samsung Health app.
Image: Samsung

Samsung’s VP of Digital Health Dr. Hon Pak didn’t specifically say what sensors are in the ring, but mentioned sleep insights based on heart rate, movement, and respiratory indicators. Dr. Pak says that Samsung’s partnership with Natural Cycles (which already brings period and fertility tracking to its Galaxy Watch series) will extend to the Ring, too — putting it in direct competition with the Oura ring. On the Galaxy Ring, battery size increases slightly in the larger band sizes, though Dr. Pak couldn’t share any exact battery life estimates.

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The Galaxy Ring will help inform a new metric Samsung is introducing to the Health app in the near future called My Vitality Score. It’s based on a model from the University of Georgia that incorporates four factors: sleep, activity, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability.

Wearing a watch all night isn’t for everyone.
Image: Samsung

The Vitality Score will be a feature of Samsung’s Galaxy Watches too, coming first to the Watch 6 later this year — but will require a Galaxy S24-series phone to work. Ring owners will also be able to specify certain health goals and receive related updates and tips in the form of something called Booster Cards, which are also coming to the Galaxy Health app later this year.

Throughout a session detailing Samsung’s vision for its new wearable, Dr. Pak referred to it as a step forward in building out a larger ecosystem of ambient sensing — providing “connected care centered around the home.” Rather than relying on a single device you have to wear comfortably and remember to charge, the notion behind ambient sensing is gathering data from multiple places to remove friction. Your ring, your watch, who knows, your refrigerator — all working in harmony to remind you the last time you ate a vegetable was four days ago and maybe that’s why you feel disgusting.

Dr. Pak describes it a little more eloquently than that, but basically envisions a holistic system that supports individual health goals rather than a single gadget bombarding users with contextless data. It sounds entirely reasonable — lovely, even. But first? Samsung needs to get this ring right.

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Lenovo worked with iFixit to make some ThinkPads easier to repair

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Lenovo worked with iFixit to make some ThinkPads easier to repair

While the ThinkBook Transparent Display laptop Lenovo showed off at MWC 2024 is just a proof of concept, the company also announced refreshed versions of several ThinkPads and ThinkBooks, as well as a few accessories.

That includes three refreshed ThinkPad T-series laptops: the ThinkPad T14 Gen 5, ThinkPad T14s Gen 5, and ThinkPad T16 Gen 3, all with Intel Core Ultra processors (or an AMD Ryzen 8040 option for the T14 Gen 5). All three get Lenovo’s Communication Bar, which extends a portion of the top bezel to house the camera and microphones, giving those laptops slimmer top bezels and taller display ratios. Lenovo previously added this feature to other ThinkPad laptops, like the X1 Carbon and X1 Nano.

The keyboard on the ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 includes more homing bars, swapped Ctrl and Fn keys, and the new Copilot key between right Alt and Ctrl.
Image: Lenovo

The T-series keyboards also now have the same tactile markings, (homing bars) on the Fn, Insert, Enter, and volume keys as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 12 and ThinkPad X1 2-in-1 Gen 9 laptops to make typing more accessible to those who are visually impaired. Lenovo also broke with its long-standing tradition of putting the Fn key on the outer-most edge and swapped it with Ctrl, where the majority of laptop and keyboard manufactures put them. There’s a physical Microsoft Copilot key between right Alt and Ctrl, too, but Lenovo left the Windows Key alone. (Phew!)

Lenovo also collaborated with iFixit to make it easier to replace certain hardware components on the ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 and T16 Gen 3. This includes a move back to fully-socketed DIMM slots instead of soldered RAM, user-replaceable cable-free batteries (with fewer screws to remove them), and accessible SSD and wireless adapter slots.

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For users who are super new to laptop repairs, the SSD and RAM slots are clearly marked, and Lenovo now includes QR codes inside the laptop body near each repairable component with instructional videos about the process. There are also indicators that point to the specific screws to remove if you’re looking to just replace the keyboard and trackpad.

The ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2
Lenovo

There is one more ThinkPad laptop up Lenovo’s sleeve: the ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2. We liked the first-gen a lot when it was released in April 2021; this upcoming version will have an Intel Core Ultra U processor, 32GB LPDDR5x soldered RAM, a 5MP front-facing webcam that supports Windows Hello, an 8MP outward-facing cam, and support for a 4G LTE wireless adapter.

Lenovo has made some adjustments to its ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 laptop, too, by shortening the key travel to 1.5mm and enlarging the touchpad. It also has new peripherals and accessories, including the ThinkVision M14t Gen 2 Mobile touch monitor and a USB-C Slim travel dock.

All Intel-configured ThinkPads hit stores starting April 2024, with pricing expected to start at $1,199. (The ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 AMD configuration will be available in May 2024, starting at $949.) The ThinkBook and USB-C dock arrive in March 2024, starting at $1,169 and $89.99, respectively. The portable monitor ($399) arrives in July 2024.

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Uncomfortable reality leads to Vision Pro returns

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Uncomfortable reality leads to Vision Pro returns

Recent reports indicate a wave of returns for Apple’s Vision Pro headsets with users citing discomfort, headaches and eye strain as primary concerns. 

This uptick in returns aligns with the closing of Apple’s 14-day return window, suggesting initial excitement for the $3,500 device may be waning.

The clunky design of the headset has been a critical factor for users. The front-heavy weight distribution has been linked to physical discomfort, with some users experiencing headaches and motion sickness.  

While dry eyes and redness have been associated with VR headsets for years, the severity of these symptoms with the Vision Pro seems noteworthy.

CLICK TO GET KURT’S FREE CYBERGUY NEWSLETTER WITH SECURITY ALERTS, QUICK VIDEO TIPS, TECH REVIEWS AND EASY HOW-TO’S TO MAKE YOU SMARTER 

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Woman wearing a Vision Pro headset  (Apple)

Headaches, eye irritation and discomfort

Customers returning the Vision Pro headset to Apple stores are sharing their grievances with the employees. They report that while the device initially promises a magical experience, its cumbersome and unwieldy design overshadows this aspect. 

As a result, many find it uncomfortable to wear even for short periods. That discomfort eventually led to others posting about their experience online in their decision to return it. Additionally, several others share the sentiment of finding the headset too expensive to justify the persistent headaches and eye strain.

AI CAN DETERMINE PERSONAL INFORMATION THROUGH AR, VR USERS’ MOTION DATA, STUDIES SAY

vision pro 2

MORE: APPLE’S VISION PRO BRINGS A BURST OF BIZARRE TO ZOOM CALLS  

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An elusive perfect fit

The ergonomic challenges posed by wearable technologies are not new. With smartwatches, it’s often a matter of case size relative to the wrist; with smart rings, the issue may be finger size or swelling. Smart glasses and headsets, like the Vision Pro, confront similar problems with fit and comfort, particularly for individuals with low nose bridges or those who need a device that adequately blocks out light.

Vision pro 3

MORE: APPLE VISION PROS SKI-GOOGLE-LOOKING HEADSET GETS A BLACK EYE FROM YOUTUBE, NETFLIX AND SPOTIFY  

After the wow factor wears off

Beyond the physical issues, the Vision Pro’s utility has come under scrutiny. Users have reported productivity challenges, stating that the headset does not offer enough functionality to warrant its price. 

Complaints range from difficulties in viewing Figma screens to the inadequacy of the headset for work-related tasks. Programmers have noted the unsatisfactory experience with coding and focus issues leading to headaches. For some, the lack of games and entertainment options further diminishes the device’s value.

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Vision pro 4

A woman relaxes with a Vision Pro headset  (Apple)

MORE: TIPS TO FOLLOW FROM ONE INCREDIBLY COSTLY CONVERSATION WITH CYBERCROOKS

Dissatisfied now, but willing to buy a second version later

While a vocal group of early adopters is expressing dissatisfaction and intent to return the device, many are still open to the idea of a second-generation Vision Pro. They suggest the technology itself isn’t at fault; rather, it’s the absence of a compelling application and the need for improved comfort.

vision pro 5

MORE: THE BEST TRAVEL GEAR FOR 2024  

Kurt’s key takeaways 

The extent of the return phenomenon remains unclear, as does Apple’s internal expectations for the headset’s performance. However, the feedback from this outspoken minority could influence the future development and refinement of the Vision Pro headset.

How do you think Apple should address the ergonomic issues of the Vision Pro headset? What are some features or improvements that you would like to see in the second-generation Vision Pro headset? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact

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