Samsung's Foldable Phone Won't Be Cheap

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Bill Gates really identifies with this 'Silicon Valley' character, but he has one complaint

Like 'Silicon Valley's' Richard Hendricks, Bill Gates still sees himself as a technological whipper snapper.
Like ‘Silicon Valley’s’ Richard Hendricks, Bill Gates still sees himself as a technological whipper snapper.
Image: Robert Burroughs/Liaison

Apropos of nothing, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has decided to share his thoughts on the HBO comedy Silicon Valley.

On Monday, Gates published a new post on his blog — known as GatesNotes (seriously) — about the tech industry satire, which is currently in between seasons. Gates sees Silicon Valley as a rare example of pop culture getting life in the tech world “right.” 

“If you really want to understand how Silicon Valley works today, you should watch the HBO series Silicon Valley,” Gates wrote.

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Bill Gates: apparently not opposed to dick jokes!

The dad-jeans loving billionaire also apparently identifies with one character: the scrappy, anxious, but sometimes endearing protagonist, Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch). 

“Personally, I identify most with Richard, the founder of Pied Piper, who is a great programmer but has to learn some hard lessons about managing people,” Gates wrote.

That’s right: despite the fact that Gates is one of the world’s most successful people, he apparently still sees himself as an awkward, earnest do-gooder.

He even tweeted a photo that appears to be an edited picture of himself as a young upstart … except with Richard’s face, and the Pied Piper logo instead of the old logo for Microsoft. 

Gates, have you been playing around in MS Paint?

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Just a wee babe.

Image: Deborah Feingold/Getty Images

Gates also thinks the personality archetypes are spot on. The infighting and competition, the snarky but socially clueless programmers, the entrepreneurial largess and sometimes arbitrary nature of success and failure, all reflect the Valley that he knows deeply, he said. 

And he thinks his peers who are opposed to the show need to lighten up: “they don’t make any more fun of us than we deserve.”

Gates does have one note. He thinks that Silicon Valley mayyy be a bit harsh on big companies (you know, like Microsoft):

I do have one minor complaint. Silicon Valley gives you the impression that small companies like Pied Piper are mostly capable while big companies like Hooli are mostly inept. Although I’m obviously biased, my experience is that small companies can be just as inept, and the big ones have the resources to invest in deep research and take a long-term point of view that smaller ones can’t afford. But I also understand why the show focuses so much on Pied Piper and makes Hooli look so goofy. It’s more fun to root for the underdog.

It’s pretty fun to imagine Bill Gates watching the antics of the Pied Piper crew and LOLing, maybe even thinking back on his time in the garage with Paul Allen. 

Gates said he is currently making his way through Season 5, which ended in May. He’s holding out hope that it returns for a sixth season, though production on new episodes is reportedly delayed and may not air until 2020.

We’re just going to have to keep our eyes peeled for more GatesNotes fandom until then.

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Our galaxy’s supermassive black hole looks amazing in virtual reality

If you’re anything like us, you’re awaiting the first-ever direct-observation photographs of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of The Milky Way, with bated breath. But, you might want to go ahead and exhale, because it could be awhile.

In the meantime, we suggest enjoying a virtual tour created by an advanced physics simulator.

The simulator, developed by a team of scientists from the Netherlands and Germany, relies upon the most up-to-date data astrophysicists have gleaned on Sagittarius A*. It’s purpose is to produce a visually and astro-physically accurate portrayal of the black hole at the center of our galaxy.

And, while we have no way of confirming they’ve succeeded, we sure do hope this is what a black hole really looks like, because it’s gorgeous:

[embedded content]

The above 360 VR experience can be enjoyed on a regular screen, but it’s absolutely mesmerizing in 3D-space with a headset.

Jordy Davelaar, first author on the project’s research paper, told EurekAlert:

Our virtual reality simulation creates one of the most realistic views of the direct surroundings of the black hole and will help us to learn more about how black holes behave. Traveling to a black hole in our lifetime is impossible, so immersive visualizations like this can help us understand more about these systems from where we are.

Asked why he thinks the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy looks like this, Davelaar explained it wasn’t his vision, but the science that dictated the appearance. He told a reporter with the Radboud University news site:

In our coding for the simulation, we used Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. This enabled us to visualize all the effects you would experience when you move around a black hole, such as light deflection, the distortion of your field of view due to your speed. This provides the most realistic possible experience of what we think this environment is like. The simulation is unique and is even more realistic than the visualizations in the film “Interstellar.”

And, until the images gathered by the recent Event Horizon Telescope project – which you should totally read about – are actually developed, this is the closest we’ll come to seeing the majestic supermassive black hole at the center of The Milky Way for ourselves.

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Submit your product for Mashable's 'Top Picks of CES 2019'

Heading into the future like...
Heading into the future like…
Image: bridget bennett/mashable

A new year of exciting new consumer tech is on the horizon, and CES 2019 will be the first stop to see what’s in store for our increasingly connected lives.

CES 2019 officially kicks off in Las Vegas on Jan. 8 and runs through Jan. 11. As always, Mashable will be on the ground bringing you the latest gadgets and blossoming tech trends before they become game-changers.

Do you have an innovative product that’s emblematic of one of those trends, or might even create one? We want to hear about it and why it should be recognized as a standout product at CES.

To be considered for the Mashable‘s Top Picks of CES 2019, the product must be:

  1. Aimed at the consumer market.

  2. Making its debut at CES 2019.

  3. Knock-your-socks-off amazing.

If your company has a product that qualifies, please submit it for consideration via the Google form below, and someone from our editorial staff will be in touch. If you have multiple products, please submit each one separately, although we encourage you to submit only the products you feel are true outliers (remember No. 3 above).

The deadline for entries is Dec. 26, but the sooner you submit, the better your chances of qualifying. Good luck!

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Instagram cracks down on apps that give fake follows and likes

Instagram will crack down on shady third-party apps.
Instagram will crack down on shady third-party apps.
Image: LightRocket via Getty Images

Instagram is finally doing something to crack down on fake likes and followers. 

The app will begin to remove follows, likes, and comments that are the result of shady third-party apps. Instagram will also prompt password resets in an effort to prevent continued use of the apps. And, if Instagrammers keep using these services, the app will punish users by limiting their use of certain features.

The apps in question are third-party services that use your Instagram credentials to help boost your account by rewarding you with likes, comments, and followers. If you’re active on Instagram, you’ve probably encountered activity from some of these services, even if you don’t directly use them yourself. (Telltale signs include when random accounts like several of your old photos all at once, often with generic comments like “nice.”)

The problem with these apps, according to Instagram, is not just that they game the system to create fake engagement, but that they’re often shady and exploit the log-in information provided by users. 

“Every day people come to Instagram to have real experiences, including genuine interactions,” Instagram writes in a blog post. “This type of behavior is bad for the community, and third-party apps that generate inauthentic likes, follows, and comments violate our Community Guidelines and Terms of Use.”

Instagram will prompt password resets for people who have used apps to get followers and likes.

Instagram will prompt password resets for people who have used apps to get followers and likes.

Image: instagram

In order to root these apps out of Instagram, the company will begin to prompt password resets for people who have used these services in the past. And it will start to remove followers, likes, and comments that were generated as the result of these services. (Importantly, Instagram says the change will kick in beginning Monday, so previous likes and follows will not be impacted, even if they were the result of one of the apps in question.) 

What’s more, if people continue to use these services, they may see more serious account repercussions. According to a spokesperson, Instagram “may limit access to certain features,” if they identify repeat offenders. The spokesperson didn’t elaborate on what specific features could be  impacted.

But given how serious a problem Instagram hackings have been in the past, the ramp-up in enforcement should be welcome news to those concerned about account security.

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Breakthrough neural network paves the way for quantum AI

Italian researchers recently developed the first functioning quantum neural network by running a special algorithm on an actual quantum computer.

The team, lead by Francesco Tacchino of the University of Pavia in Italy, pre-published their research on ArXiv earlier this month in a research paper titled “An Artificial Neuron Implemented on an Actual Quantum Processor.”

Basically, they developed a single-layer artificial neural network (ANN) that runs on a quantum computer. This kind of rudimentary ANN is called a perceptron, and it’s the basic building block of more robust neural networks.

Previous attempts at building a perceptron on a quantum system have involved treating individual qubits as neurons in a network. This is a cumbersome and insanely complex method that’s failed to produce much in the way of actionable results.

Tacchino and company decided to try a different approach:

Here we introduce an alternative design that closely mimics a Rosenblatt perceptron on a quantum computer …We experimentally show the effectiveness of such an approach by practically implementing a 2 qubits version of the algorithm on the IBM quantum processor available for cloud quantum computing.

IBM’s Q Experience computer, a five-qubit cloud-access quantum system, has long been billed as a way to interact with quantum computing for those of us who don’t have millions to spend on laboratories and access to world-class physicists and engineers. But, typically, it’s thought of as an educational tool.

One of the big problems with quantum computers is that there isn’t any software, programs, or codes for them. It’s hard to write code for a machine that defies the laws of physics. But it’s not impossible.

The Italian team proved that by successfully running their perceptron algorithm on the IBM Q system and using the resultant neural network to conduct image classification tasks. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time this has been done.

Right now all it can do is tell which of three basic patterns a given image has. And, while that doesn’t sound very impressive, it’s worth putting it in context with the idea of quantum advantage.

According to the researchers:

Our algorithm presents an exponential advantage over classical perceptron models, as we have explicitly shown by representing and classifying 4 bits strings using 2 qubits, and 16 bits strings using only 4 qubits.

This simply means that neural networks running on quantum systems could, potentially, be exponentially more robust than those running on classical systems. The implications for this amalgam of AI and quantum computing are, well, beyond imagination.

What happens when we develop machines capable of acting as translators between the raw underlying language of the universe and humankind?

That’s a question best left for philosophers. But in the world of physics, as researchers learn more about ANNs, and engineers develop more advanced quantum computing systems, it’s possible a new class of machine learning will arrive to replace the old classical deep learning networks.

Tomorrow’s intelligent machines won’t be either AI-powered or quantum — they’ll be both.

H/t: MIT Technology Review

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Deep dive into Latin America’s last-mile delivery startups

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Uh oh, Apple has reportedly cut production on all new iPhones

C'mon, no love for the XR?
C’mon, no love for the XR?
Image: lili sams/mashable

As the holidays approach, Apple’s suppliers are not happy. 

The company slashed production of all three of its new iPhone models — the XR, XS, and XS Max — according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The XR has reportedly taken the biggest hit: Apple reduced production orders for the XR twice over the past two months.

This has reportedly caused frustration and an understandable amount of stress along Apple’s China-based supply chain. Foxconn has cut the customary pre-holiday season overtime hours, leaving workers without an expected pay boost. Three of Apple’s largest suppliers reduced quarterly profit estimates, which they attributed to a “large client” cutting orders.

The new iPhones are Apple’s most expensive yet, with its “affordable” XR still coming in at at least $749, and its most premium XS Max reaching up to $1,449. That makes a new iPhone quite an expensive stocking stuffer.

The Journal also reports that sales of the XR may not be taking off because the device does not appeal to early adopters (even if Mashable’s Ray Wong loves it). But that doesn’t mean that more customers won’t order the XR down the line — it may just not be part of the Q4 bubble.

Besides, have you seen its fun colors?

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Fitbit Charge 3 review: A better fitness tracker everywhere it counts


Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

The Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition.
The Fitbit Charge 3 Special Edition.
Image: karissa bell/mashable
Fitbit Charge 3

Slimmer • more comfortable design • New touch screen is much easier to use • Superb battery life

Smartwatch features still feel half-baked • Fitbit app is confusing

The Bottom Line

The Fitbit Charge 3 is more comfortable to wear than its predecessors, and the touchscreen is much improved. If you don’t care about true smartwatch features, this is the fitness wearable for you.

Mashable Score4.0
Cool Factor4.0
Learning Curve3.0
Bang for the Buck4.0

Smartwatches may still be getting a lot of hype, but there’s still plenty to be said for a dedicated fitness tracker. 

While smartwatches may have health and fitness features of their own, a big part of their appeal is that they can also act as an extension of your smartphone. Fitness trackers on the other hand, like Fitbit’s new Charge 3, put fitness first even though many models include some basic smartwatch features.

If that sounds appealing, then there’s a lot to like about the Charge 3, which improves on the company’s Charge 2 tracker in nearly every way.

The Charge 3 comes in two variations, the $149.95 Charge 3 and the $169.95 Charge 3 Special Edition. I reviewed the latter, but the only difference between the two are the bands that come in the box and the ability to make mobile payments.

But if you’re trying to decide between the two, the bands alone might be enough to help you make up your mind. In addition to the standard black rubber sport band, the Special Edition comes with either a lavender woven band or a white sport band that resembles the Nike Sport bands for the Apple Watch. You don’t need the Special Edition model in order to get additional bands — Fitbit sells them à la carte as well — but you’ll save money by buying them bundled together.

The black sport band that comes with the Charge 3 is thicker than the more premium bands.

The black sport band that comes with the Charge 3 is thicker than the more premium bands.

Image: karissa bell/mashable

The lavendar woven band, the black sport band, and the leather band.

The lavendar woven band, the black sport band, and the leather band.

Image: karissa bell/mashable

That alone makes it worth the extra twenty bucks for the Special Edition, in my opinion. If you’re going to wear this every day, you’re going to want to mix up your bands a bit, and the upgraded bands go a long way toward making the Charge 3 look and feel a little more elegant than the standard rubber band. (Fitbit also offers leather bands, which look and feel fantastic, but at $49.95 each, they’re definitely on the pricey side.)

Better in the details

New band styles aside, Fitbit has improved the design of its newest tracker in subtle, but significant ways. The Charge 3 is even smaller and slimmer than 2016’s Charge 2. The bands are much easier to swap out than the previous design, which, again, is an added bonus if you end up getting the Special Edition model 

It’s also much more comfortable: the bands aren’t as chunky, and the aluminum tracker has rounded edges on the back and sides so it hugs your wrist a bit better. Along with the new bands, this helps make the Charge 3 look and feel a bit less like a boxy fitness tracker.

The Fitbit Charge 3 is slimmer than the Charge 2 and has rounded edges to make it more comfortable.

The Fitbit Charge 3 is slimmer than the Charge 2 and has rounded edges to make it more comfortable.

Image: karissa bel/mashable

The back of the Charge 3.

The back of the Charge 3.

Image: karissa bell/mashable

The side button is no longer an actual button that protrudes from the side of the tracker. Instead, it’s a small haptic “button” (similar to the home “button” on the iPhone 7) that sits flush against the side and vibrates a bit each time you touch it. The sensors on the back also sit flatter against the actual tracker compared with the Charge 2. 

On the front, the display is improved: It’s now a full touchscreen, and it’s more scratch resistant (the Charge 2 had screen you could tap on to navigate, but it couldn’t recognize swipes and other gestures). The display is also noticeably brighter, which makes it easier to view in sunlight. 

Most importantly, though: the Charge 3 has far better battery life. It’s rated up to a week, according to Fitbit, but I found I was sometimes able to squeeze even a bit more out of it. Either way, though, it’s hard to overstate just how much of a difference this makes. One of the reasons I prefer fitness trackers over full-on smartwatches is precisely because having to remember to charge on a daily basis is a huge pain — particularly if you like to use your device to track your sleep at night. 

Fitness and health still come first

The Charge 3 may look a bit less like a traditional fitness tracker, but Fitbit hasn’t skimped on the exercise-tracking or health features. You track more than a dozen different exercise types, many of which will kick in automatically when you start your workout.

You can also choose presets for your favorite exercises to make them more easily accessible from your wrist. These presets aren’t new, but they’ve been upgraded; on the Charge 3, you can set specific goals for these exercises, like running a certain distance or lifting weights for a specific amount of time. When you reach the goal, the Fitbit vibrates and displays a little animation to “celebrate” you reaching your goal.

The Fitbit Charge 3 has a new swipeable touchscreen.

The Fitbit Charge 3 has a new swipeable touchscreen.

Image: karissa bell/mashable

Fitbit's new goal-setting exercise mode.

Fitbit’s new goal-setting exercise mode.

Image: karissa bell/mashable

The Charge 3 is also waterproof, so you can use it to record your swims or take it along for a run or bike ride in the rain. 

On the health side, the Charge 3 comes with newly improved sleep tracking features. The tracker approximates your bedtime, wake-up time, and the various stages of your sleep cycle based on your heart rate and movement throughout the night. All this is broken down into a graph in the Fitbit app where you can see your sleep cycle over the course of each night.

The Fitbit app shows you how much time you spend in each stage of sleep, as well as what’s considered “normal.”

One of my issues with these kinds of tracking features is that, while they’re neat to look at, it’s difficult to know what you should actually do with this information. Which is why I appreciate the “insights” Fitbit provides about your sleep. It’s still a little rudimentary — some of the messages, like one below, are a little obvious. But even so, it’s nice to have something to help you make sense of all the data it’s collecting. 

The Fitbit app’s sleep insights.

You may already know that you don’t sleep enough during the week, for example, but reminders like this can be nonetheless helpful if you want to make some actual changes. In the future, Fitbit says its sleep-tracking abilities will be able to go much further, with something it’s calling Sleep Score.

The feature is currently in a closed beta, so I haven’t been able to try it out, but the goal is to provide a more substantive look at how well your sleeping. The feature will provide a score based on a number of factors that will let you know how well you’re sleeping. And, according to the company, it could help detect warning signs of more serious conditions that can interfere with sleep, like sleep apnea or allergies.

Some smartwatch features

Like other recent Fitbits, the Charge 3 also tries to incorporate some smartwatch-like features. You’ll get calls, text messages, and some other notifications pushed to your wrist. It’s a convenient way to check your messages at a glance, or quickly accept or reject a call, but most of the notifications aren’t terribly useful because you can’t actually do anything once you receive them, especially if you have an iPhone.

If you have an Android phone, the picture is a little better: You can use quick replies to send brief, preset responses. 

A few of the available watch faces for the Charge 3.

You can also change up the watch face in the Fitbit app, which is a nice option but still a bit clunky. You have to tap into several menus in order to find the options, and actually changing them out takes much longer than it should. The options are also much more limited than with the Fitbit Versa, which is a full-featured smartwatch with a color display. 

These issues, though, are relatively minor if you think of the Charge 3 as a health- and fitness-focused device. If what you want is a smartwatch, there are plenty of better options out there that are much more capable.

At the end of the day, Fitbit’s biggest strength is fitness tracking. And if a dedicated fitness tracker is what you’re after, the Fitbit Charge 3 has just about every feature you could want and then some.

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Mark Zuckerberg believes Facebook is at 'war,' report says

Mark Zuckerberg believes Facebook is currently at 'war.'
Mark Zuckerberg believes Facebook is currently at ‘war.’
Image: Christophe Morin/getty

Mark Zuckerberg is feeling the heat.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Facebook’s founder and CEO believes his company is currently at “war.” The comment came from Mark Zuckerberg this past June in a meeting with a few dozen of Facebook’s top executives amid the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In this same June meeting, Zuckerberg told executives that he was going to be taking a more active role in Facebook’s day-to-day operations. With the social media platform fighting on multiple fronts — between Congress, the press, and even his own executives — Zuckerberg clearly felt he needed to take a more active role.

Zuckerberg’s key issue with his company was the speed at which it was dealing with the major conflicts afflicting it. According to the report, the Facebook founder was pushing for senior executives to “make progress faster” and was frustrated with how the company was handling its crises.

Some of Facebook’s top executives were so rattled by Zuckerberg’s response to the issues facing the company that they feared for their jobs. According to the report, even Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg worried about her job security after much of the blame for the Cambridge Analytica fallout on her and her team.

The report claims Zuckerberg’s new, more hands-on role has led to conflicts with the heads of Facebook’s other units. The report alleges that this played a part in the recent departures of Instagram’s and WhatsApp’s founders.

The June meeting came in the midst of public outcry against Facebook over fake news, Russian influence, and leaks involving users’ private data. 

This past week, the New York Times released a bombshell report detailing how Facebook mishandled those issues, as well as its attempts to get ahead of critics. In the wake of that report, Zuckerberg allegedly blasted the media coverage as “bullshit” at a company Q&A on Friday.

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Mods don't add much to the Moto Z3— Power Up

Motorola’s Moto Z3 has plenty of mods to adapt your phone into your ideal device. With a super AMOLED screen and a sleek glass and metal build, this phone sure is easy on the eyes. One of the biggest draw backs of this phone is the button placement, which is all over the place. Seriously, who needs a fingerprint reader on the side of a phone? If you can get past the average functional features, this phone might be your perfect match. Alix Aspe has all of the details on mods, battery life, and other capabilities on this week’s episode of Power Up.

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