Start up: inside Apple’s A9X, Amazon unlimited?, VTech hacked, YouTube v Palestine, and more

This could be the prelude to hypothermia. But what does that feel like? Photo by Nicolas Valentin on Flickr.

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A selection of 10 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

All-in-one PC shipments to drop over 10% in 2015 » Digitimes

Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai:

All-in-one PC shipments may drop a double-digit percentage on-year in 2015 due to weaker-than-expected demand. Shipments in 2016 are unlikely to see any major growth and may stay flat from 2015, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

The largest all-in-one PC vendor, Lenovo, is expected to see flat shipment performance and a worldwide market share of around 30% in 2016. Despite the fact that the China government has recently lifted restrictions on opening internet cafes in the country which has boosted demand for all-in-one PCs, Lenovo will not benefit much from related demand since most Internet cafe players require customization, an area that Lenovo is having difficulties to coordinate, causing the opportunities to be mainly seen by second-tier and China white-box makers, the sources noted.

As for the second-largest, Apple, its iMac shipments are expected to grow 5% on year in 2016. iMac’s main manufacturer, Quanta Computer, reportedly has increased its personnel for the product line for 2016, but the ODM declined to comment on market speculation.

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Inside the Apple A9X chip » The Motley Fool

Ashraf Eassa on the chip powering the iPad Pro:

Following is a die shot of the A9X, courtesy of Chipworks:

Chipworks’ Dick James tells me that he sees a 12-cluster GPU, two CPU cores, and an absence of the level-three cache memory found inside the A9 chip (I’ll explain why I think Apple didn’t include it later in this article). I agree with his assessment. The two CPU cores can be seen in the green box, and I believe that inside of each blue box are two GPU clusters, for a total of 12 clusters…

According to Chipworks, the chip measures in at approximately 147 square millimeters, a whopping 40% larger than the size of the TSMC-built variant of the A9 chip inside of the iPhone 6s/6s Plus. This is an absolutely huge increase in area (and by extension transistor count) from the A9, which no doubt means that this monster of a chip is far more difficult to manufacture, especially on a relatively new manufacturing technology.

Two CPU cores? Bah. Surely it should be at least eight to be worth talking about?
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Is Amazon’s online storage really ‘unlimited’? Read the fine print » ZDNet

Ed Bott:

It’s a trial offer, with the price for the second and subsequent years rising to $60, and renewing automatically unless you say no.

I can tell that some of you are ready to begin migrating the 10 terabytes of data you stored in Microsoft’s OneDrive before they killed that golden goose. May I suggest you first read the Amazon Cloud Drive Terms of Use?

When you do, you will discover that that word, unlimited, does not mean what you think it means.

And you might find that if you really have a lot of data to store that you won’t be able to after all, because they research reserve the right to suspend or terminate “if we determine that your use violates the Agreement, is improper, substantially exceeds or differs from normal use by other users, or otherwise involves fraud or misuse of the Service…” (Emphasis added.)
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Israel to coordinate with Google and YouTube to censor Palestinian videos of conflict » Informed Comment

Saed Bannoura:

The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Member of Knesset Tzipi Hotovely, held meetings this week with representatives of YouTube and Google, to find ways of cooperating to censor Palestinian videos from occupied Palestine, videos she dubbed as “inciting violence and terrorism.”

Israeli daily Maariv said Hotovely will be working with Google and YouTube officials in a joint mechanism that will be in charge of “monitoring and preventing” any publication of materials deemed by Tel Aviv to be “inflammatory.”

Hotovely announced in a Hebrew-only press release that she met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Google’s Director of Public Policy, Jennifer Oztzistzki, at Google’s Silicon Valley Offices.

Hotovely said that she received a comprehensive review mechanism for companies to monitor the films that allegedly incite violence, claiming that the supposed ‘incitement videos’ drive young children to go out and stab: “The attacks daily in Israel are the result of youths and children incited by the education system and the social networks, this is a daily war of incitement.”

You can’t be a video hosting service without getting caught in the politics of an area. And of course “incitement to violence” is over the boundary of free speech pretty much everywhere.
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As freezing persons recollect the snow: first chill, then stupor, then the letting go » Outside Online

Peter Clark with a scary description of what happens as hypothermia sets in:

When your Jeep spins lazily off the mountain road and slams backward into a snowbank, you don’t worry immediately about the cold. Your first thought is that you’ve just dented your bumper. Your second is that you’ve failed to bring a shovel. Your third is that you’ll be late for dinner. Friends are expecting you at their cabin around eight for a moonlight ski, a late dinner, a sauna. Nothing can keep you from that.

Driving out of town, defroster roaring, you barely noted the bank thermometer on the town square: minus 27 degrees at 6:36. The radio weather report warned of a deep mass of arctic air settling over the region. The man who took your money at the Conoco station shook his head at the register and said he wouldn’t be going anywhere tonight if he were you. You smiled. A little chill never hurt anybody with enough fleece and a good four-wheel-drive.

But now you’re stuck.

(Via Eugene Wei.)
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A 59-year-old woman reviews the Apple Watch in real life » Privilege

“Lisa”:

I do think it’s important that we women and we midlifers engage in the tech cycle, if only to ensure that the Brave New World isn’t designed just for 28-year old men.

I first realized I liked the watch as I pushed a cart through Whole Foods. I’d invited my family over for dinner, and was doing the grocery shopping. I’d texted both my sister-in-law and sister to find out if their kids would be OK with the menu. The replies came as I passed the tortilla section. And I did not have to stop, block the aisle, and find my phone in my bag –  just pressed the Message smile emoji. A lightweight interaction.

Besides, the Watch is very good-looking, as Mom might say.

But let us review and deconstruct. Not literally. Taking apart solid state devices is not my idea of fun.

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100 million LTE phones shipped in China in Q3 2015 » Counterpoint Technology Market Research

Neil Shah:

This has been primarily driven by a meteoric rise in consumers adopting LTE technology as the always-on high speed mobile internet becomes the crux of Chinese consumers’ lives aided by competitive pricing by China Mobile. More than 200m 4G LTE subscribers have been added at the end of Q3 2015 compared to exactly a year ago. China’s LTE subscriber base also crossed 300m users during the quarter. It took just 20 months to cross 300m 4G subs, whereas for 3G subs it took more than 50 months.

Mature Chinese smartphone user base are upgrading their digital lives faster than any other mobile user on this planet. The growing traction of mobile-centric commerce, rise of O2O services, content consumption (video, audio and so forth) coupled with deeply integrated social and messaging communication is making  high quality ubiquitous mobile internet a basic need for the Chinese consumers.

Huawei was the no 1 LTE phone supplier with slightly less than one-fifth of the market, followed by Xiaomi, Apple, Oppo and Vivo.

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One of the largest hacks yet exposes data on hundreds of thousands of kids » Motherboard

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai:

The personal information of almost 5 million parents and more than 200,000 kids was exposed earlier this month after a hacker broke into the servers of a Chinese company that sells kids toys and gadgets, Motherboard has learned.

The hacked data includes names, email addresses, passwords, and home addresses of 4,833,678 parents who have bought products sold by VTech, which has almost $2 billion in revenue. The dump also includes the first names, genders and birthdays of more than 200,000 kids.

What’s worse, it’s possible to link the children to their parents, exposing the kids’ full identities and where they live, according to an expert who reviewed the breach for Motherboard.

That expert being Troy Hunt, who has a long writeup on how crap VTech has been. All this harvesting of personal data ahead of inevitable hacks? No way to delete your account (hardly any companies give you that option).
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Report: Apple plans to nix 3.5mm port on iPhone 7, require Lightning for wired headphones » 9to5Mac

Citing a reliable source, a report from Japanese blog Macotakara claims that Apple plans to remove the 3.5mm headphone port from the upcoming iPhone 7, helping to achieve a “more than 1mm” reduction in thickness compared to the iPhone 6s. While the screen shape and radius will remain similar, the device will once again become Apple’s thinnest iPhone ever, albeit with a new restriction: headphones will only be able to connect over Lightning or Bluetooth…

Macotakara says that the 3.5mm port “can hardly be thinner because it is the world standard,” which is accurate, though the current-generation iPod touch is 1mm thinner than the iPhone 6s despite having a 3.5mm port inside. It should be noted that Apple actively contemplated switching to the smaller but less popular 2.5mm headphone port standard many years ago, abandoning the plan after users complained about the original iPhone’s recessed 3.5mm port.

Will be good business for Bluetooth headphone companies. Such as Beats?
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More China firms developing own ARM-based chips » Digitimes

Monica Chen and Jessie Shen:

China-based ZTE has received a cash injection from the government enabling the company to accelerate the development of its own application processors, while Lenovo also intends to develop ARM-based chips in-house, according to industry sources.

ZTE has received CNY2.4bn (US$73.8m) from China’s National IC Industry Investment Fund, which will help it accelerate the mobile chip development, said the sources.

Huawei has its subsidiary HiSilicon provide ARM-architecture SoCs, which are found in many of the smartphone vendor’s models including high-end ones, the sources indicated. Huawei’s increasing use of HiSilicon chips is already unfavorable to the existing suppliers including MediaTek and Qualcomm.

All essentially trying to differentiate themselves from rivals. Didn’t know about Huawei’s subsidiary, but it makes sense for a network infrastructure company to have a chip designer.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified.

2 thoughts on “Start up: inside Apple’s A9X, Amazon unlimited?, VTech hacked, YouTube v Palestine, and more

  1. “And of course “incitement to violence” is over the boundary of free speech pretty much everywhere”

    Yes, but the devil is in the details – like “harassment” or “libel”. Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve studied this issue. In the US, “incitement to violence” is a very high bar, “where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”. A key word there is “imminent”.

    http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/what-constitutes-imminent-lawless-action
    “advocacy of illegal action at some indefinite future time … is not sufficient …”

    I doubt the YouTube videos under discussion here are even close to the line of US law. Other countries may differ, of course. I wouldn’t be surprised if Israeli law is much broader on this topic.

    • Very good point. We don’t know which country’s laws are being applied here (no doubt the Palestinian videos are illegal in Israel; but where are they being taken down? Where posted?). It seems to raise more questions than it answers, really. Perhaps all that really happened was that Google pointed to the “report this video” button, which then leads to it being considered by Google.

      It would, of course, be useful to have more on this from Google.

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