watchOS 5.1.2 adds Control Center toggle for Walkie-Talkie availability

These ‘bug fix’ versioned Apple software betas keep delivering with all sorts of little additions. New in watchOS 5.1.2 is a Control Center toggle for Walkie-Talkie …

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A 70-year-old Taiwanese man known as 'Uncle Pokémon' uses an outrageous setup to play 'Pokémon Go' on 11 different phones at once

Pokemon Go GrandpaChen San-yuan plays “Pokémon Go” using 11 different phone at the same time.Twitter/@muumi5x15

  • A 70-year-old Taiwanese man has gone viral for his dedication to the mobile video game “Pokémon Go.”
  • Photos from Twitter show Chen San-yuan playing the game on 11 different phones at the same time using a special rig tied around his waist. 
  • San-yuan, who has been given the nickname “Uncle Pokémon” has slowly upgraded his setup over the last few months and reportedly spends more than $1,200 a month on the free-to-play game.

A Taiwanese man has earned the nickname Uncle Pokémon after gaining international attention for his outrageous dedication to “Pokémon Go.” Recent photos show Chen San-yuan, 70, using a waist-mounted rig to play the mobile video game on 11 different phones at the same time.

San-yuan first garnered virual attention in May, when photos of the elderly man playing “Pokémon Go” on a bike-mounted setup with six phones surfaced on Reddit. By the time video game news outlet EXP.GG tracked him down on camera in June, San-yuan had upgraded his setup to use nine phones at once from his bike.

Now it seems that San-yuan has built a new rig to use even more phones without a bike. In August, BBC reported that San-yuan spends more than $1,290 a month on “Pokémon Go.” While the game is free-to-play, the money is spent on new phones and in-game items — the kind of dedication that may have helped Pokémon Go ring up $73 million in revenue in October. 

San-yuan uses multiple portable battery packs to power the devices and he can play for up to 20 hours at once. He told the BBC that he plans to add four more phones to his setup, bringing the total to 15. 

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A cryptocurrency millionaire is buying up land in Nevada’s desert to build a utopian village run on Ethereum — here are the design plans

Nevada DesertWilliam Ducklow/Shutterstock

A cryptocurrency millionaire has revealed his designs for an utopian community in the Nevada desert run completely on blockchain.

The New York Times reports that the man behind the project, Jeffrey Berns, is planning a city that would run entirely on blockchain, a decentralized infrastructure which could theoretically provide the foundation for a community that’s independent from the capitalistic world we live in. Instead of government and big corporations in control, the blockchain-based city would put power in the hands of the people and use cryptocurrency as the coin of the realm.

The city aims to showcase how business development, residential living and commerce can flourish alongside world changing technologies,” reads a description on the website of Tom Wiscombe Architecture, one of the designers of the community. “Multiple innovative technologies will change the way its residents interact on a daily basis and blockchain technology will be at the center of it all – keeping systems honest, fair and democratic. “

The area Berns has planned for his city comprises 67,000 acres of land in the Nevada desert that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has dubbed “Innovation Park.” It surrounds an industrial park where Tesla’s Gigafactory is located, as well as buildings that major tech giants like Google and Apple own. 

The company that Berns founded, Blockchains LLC, bought the property earlier this year for a reported $170 million, according to the NYT. Berns is able to fund the entire project — including the additional $300 million he’s already put into the land — with money he acquired from an investment in the cryptocurrency Ethereum back in 2015.

“Something inside me tells me this is the answer,” Berns told the NYT. “That if we can get enough people to trust the blockchain, we can begin to change all the systems we operate by.”

Berns says Blockchains plans to begin construction of the city in late 2019 at the earliest, but the company still needs to develop a master plan and get county approval.

Check out some of the designs for this blockchain-based utopia in the Nevada desert:

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Samsung’s dual-screen folding phone is very strange and probably doomed

Let me just say that I love the idea of a folding phone/tablet device. I was a Courier fanboy when Microsoft floated that intriguing but abortive concept device, and I’m all for unique form factors and things that bend. But Samsung’s first real shot at a folding device is inexplicable and probably dead on arrival. I’d like to congratulate the company for trying something new, but this one needed a little more time in the oven.

I haven’t used it, of course, so this is just my uninformed opinion (provided for your edification). But this device is really weird, and not in a good way. It’s a really thick phone with big bezels around a small screen that opens up into a small tablet. No one wants that!

Think about it. Why do you want a big screen?

If it’s for media, like most people, consider that nearly all that media is widescreen now, either horizontal (YouTube and Netflix) or vertical (Instagram and Facebook). You can switch between these views at will extremely easily. Now consider that because of basic geometry, the “big” screen inside this device will likely not be able to show that media much, if any, larger than the screen on the front!

(Well, in this device’s case, maybe a little, but only because that front display’s bezel really is huge. Why do you think they turned the lights off? Look where the notification bar is!)

It’s like putting two of the tall screens next to each other. You end up with one twice as wide, but that’s pretty much what you get if you put the phone on its side. All you gain with the big screen is a whole lot of letterboxing or windowboxing. Oh, and probably about three quarters of an inch of thickness and half a pound of weight. This thing is going to be a beast.

Power users may also want a big screen for productivity: email and document handling and such is great on a big device like a Galaxy Note. Here then is opportunity for a folding tablet to excel (so to speak). You can just plain fit more words and charts and controls on there. Great! But if the phone is geared toward power users, why even have the small screen on the front anyway if any time that user wants to engage with the phone they will “open” it up? For quick responses or dismissing notifications, maybe, but who would really want that? That experience will always be inferior to the one the entire device is designed around.

I would welcome a phone that was only a book-style big internal screen, and I don’t think it would be a bother to flip it open when you want to use it. Lots of people with giant phones keep book-like covers on their devices anyway! It would be great to be able to use those square inches for the display rather than credit card slots or something.

The Courier had tons of great ideas on how to use two screens.

There are also creative ways to use the screen: left and right halves are different apps; top half is compose and bottom is keyboard; left half is inbox and right half is content; top half is media and bottom is controls and comments. Those sprang to mind faster than I could type them.

On the other hand, I can’t think of any way that a “front” display could meaningfully interact with or enhance a secondary (or is it primary?) display that will never be simultaneously visible. Presumably you’ll use one or the other at any given time, meaning you literally can’t engage the entire capability of the device.

You know what would be cool? A device like this that also used the bezel display we’ve seen on existing Galaxy devices. How cool would it be to have your phone closed like a book, but with an always-on notification strip (or two!) on the lip, telling you battery, messages and so on? And maybe if you tapped once the device would automatically pop open physically! That would be amazing! And Samsung is absolutely the company that I’d say would make it.

Instead, they made this thing.

It’s disappointing to me not just because I don’t like the device as they’ve designed it, but because I think the inevitable failure of the phone will cool industry ambition regarding unique devices like it. That’s wrong, though! People want cool new things. But they also want them to make sense.

I’m looking forward to how this technology plays out, and I fully expect to own a folding phone some time in the next few years. But this first device seems to me like a major misstep, and one that will set back that flexible future rather than advance it.

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Georgia’s secretary of state Brian Kemp doxes thousands of absentee voters

Georgia’s secretary of state and candidate for state governor in the midterm election, Brian Kemp, has taken the unusual, if not unprecedented step of posting the personal details of 291,164 absentee voters online for anyone to download.

Kemp’s office posted an Excel file on its website within hours of the results of the general election, exposing the names and addresses of state residents who mailed in an absentee ballot — including their reason why, such as if a person is “disabled” or “elderly.”

People on Twitter quickly noticed, expressing anger.

The file, according to the web page, allows Georgia residents to “check the status of your mail-in absentee ballot.” Millions of Americans across the country mail in their completed ballots ahead of election day, particularly if getting to a polling place is difficult — such as if a person is disabled, elderly or traveling.

When reached, Georgia secretary of state’s press secretary Candice Broce told TechCrunch that all of the data “is clearly designated as public information under state law,” and denied that the data was “confidential or sensitive.”

“State law requires the public availability of voter lists, including names and address of registered voters,” she said in an email.

That might be technically true. Voter and electoral roll data is public and available, usually for a fee, though rules vary state by state. Names and addresses of voters can be requested from each state’s electoral commission or secretary of state’s office. Political analytics firms often taken this data and supplement it with their own polling data to try to determine potential swing voters.

State laws put heavy restrictions on what can be done with voter data; rules that may not apply to the general public who can now just readily download hundreds of thousands of voter records.

It’s little surprise that the way Kemp’s office approached confirming absentee ballots was met with anger.

“While the data may already be public, it is not publicly available in aggregate like this,” said security expert Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec, who lives in Georgia. Williams took issue with the reasons that the state gave for each absentee ballot, saying it “could be used by criminals to target currently unoccupied properties.”

“Releasing this data in aggregate could be seen as suppressing future absentee voters in Georgia who do not want their information released in this manner,” he said.

Not long after TechCrunch’s inquiry, the link to the downloadable file had been removed from the website.

Republican candidate for governor Kemp — at the time of writing — received 50.3 percent of the vote on Tuesday, ahead of Democratic rival Stacey Abrams, who currently serves as the minority leader in the state’s House of Representatives.

Kemp, who as secretary of state effectively runs the state’s elections despite running in one, has been accused of voter suppression in recent weeks, including accusing the Democrats of hacking his office’s election systems, citing no evidence. It’s not the first time he’s pulled the hacking card — Kemp tried a similar move two years ago.

Kemp was also responsible for purging the voter records of more than 50,000 minority voters ahead of this week’s elections.

Abrams has refused to concede in the race for governor, amid hopes of a runoff.

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