Why AI Processor is Worth The Hype

AI Processor is a mobile chipset specifically designed to better tackle machine learning tasks. Also known as heterogeneous computing, this AI technology uses multiple types of processors, each with specialized function to enhance performance and save energy. This idea is not something entirely new. Many phones already use the same technology within their existing CPU to gain performance. For example Samsung Galaxy S4, Huawei Mate 8 and Honor 6, these mobile phones don�t have a dedicated AI processor yet they use the same kind of technology. Is having a dedicated AI in your mobile really worth the hype? Is it truly beneficial for the consumer? Should you care about an AI chip while buying a new phone? If you are a power-user and you do care about advanced features of computer hardware, the answer is yes, because the existing CPU in a mobile is incapable to meet the demands of machine learning. When manufacturers try to make the existing CPU handle machine learning tasks often it results into slow service and a fast draining battery. The value of having a dedicated AI chipset in your mobile is going to be more in the future with more apps take advantage of this machine learning feature. But if today you are buying a mobile phone with a dedicated AI chipset then following advantages will be quite noticeable:

  • Your phone will be able to perform more tasks simultaneously.
  • You will experience way less lagging issues.
  • It will increase your phone battery life. According to Huawei, its artificial intelligence based chipset – the Kirin 970 can preserve battery up to 50 percent.
  • The overall function of your phone will be better.
  • Many machine learning services send your data to the cloud to perform the actual analysis. With a dedicated AI processor your phone will be more secure as many functions in your phone will be performed in your phone processor instead of sending those to the cloud.
  • Functions like image recognition and language translation will be smoother.

Although you don�t need an exclusive AI Processor at present unless you are a power-user, it is good to have it because it gives you a smooth experience.

What is a Malvertising Attack?

What is a malvertising attack?

The word �Malvertising� means malicious advertising. In this malicious practice hackers target the visitors of genuine and reputed websites. And for that they either sneak into a reputed advertising networks like Adsense or Infolinks, or well known popular websites like Yahoo, New York Times, The Onion etc. When you as a user visit a website infected with malvertising malware, your system get infected with advertising malware. The most worrying fact of this malware is that it does not require any kind of user interaction (like clicking on a ad or a link).

How dangerous is a malvertising attack?

It depends the kind of malicious malware a hacker is trying to install in your system. It can be extremely annoying (constant redirection to other malicious websites), or it can steal your sensitive, personal, and financial information or in worst cases it can take over your system and demand for money, like a typical ransomware.

How to stay safe from malvertising attacks?

  1. Update your software (system and application softwares) on time.
  2. Install ad-blocking and anti-virus software (prefer the paid versions from reputed brands)
  3. Keep your antivirus subscriptions active and up-to-date

Two Basic Settings Changes To Make Your Android Lag Free

There are tricks and tips to deal with android app lagging problem. Some even recommend �to install 3rd party apps to make android apps function smooth. Third party apps kill background apps, put battery hungry apps into sleep, and sometimes even fill your memory with .blank files to keep the storage clean. Do these apps really do good to your android device? It is highly doubtful. Probably they do more harm than good to your device. In the beginning these apps make user feel as if they are doing their job properly and making the android device lag free, but later on these apps start making your device slow. Because most of these apps constantly run in the background. It is like coming out from one trouble but gets caught into another. Animation is cool, but at certain point we get bored of it and look for snappiness. Animation makes your device slower and it also keeps your processor busy and as a consequence it drains your battery. Minimizing the animation (if not turning it off) can make a big difference. Here are two basic methods to make your android device snappy, without rooting or without installing any third party app. But first you will have to enable the developer option of your android device.

Setting Inside Developer Options:

First you will have to enable developer option:

  1. Go into your settings
  2. Scroll down to �About device� and tap on it
  3. In the list you will notice something called �Software Info�. Tap on it.
  4. From the new list tap 7 to 8 times on �Build number�.
  5. This will enable the developer mode

Now go back to setting, and you will notice �Developer options� right above the �About device�.�Tap on �Developer options�, and scroll down to find the 3 animation scale settings. 1) Window animation scale, 2) Transition animation scale, and 3) Animator duration scale.

Change Animation Speed:

These animation scale settings define the way your device�s screen changes from one scene to another (or switches between applications). By default the animation of all these settings is 1x. If you tap on each of these, you will see see an animation scale, and from that list you can either select �Animation off� or �Animation scale 0.5x�. If you completely turn off animation, it may looks a bit out of date, but it will definitely make your android faster. The more balanced option is selecting animation scale to 0.5x. This will double the snappiness of your android device, and will look fine with least amount of animation. Set �Window animation scale�, �Transition animation scale�, and �Animator duration scale� to 0.5x.

Limit Background Activities:

Scroll down from the developer option and from the apps section you will find something called �Do not keep activities�. You can select this option to completely deny any application from running in the background. This can make the current application you are running faster, and there will be no apps running in the background as well. But the problem is that it may create delay in a different way. If you try to open a new app, your current app will be closed. Multitasking on is a common thing, and without it it may looks very odd and uncomfortable. But thankfully there is another option available on android devices to limit background activities, which is more practical and useful.

Limit background processes:

This setting limits the number of apps running in the background. By default it is set to �Standard limit�, which allows unlimited numbers of apps to run in the background. Normally we do not use more than 3 to 4 apps at a time. Select �At most 3 processes� or �At most 4 processes�. This setting will ensure that not more than 3 or 4 apps runs in the background.

Unresponsive Touch Screen – Tricks and Preventive Measures

Modern smartphones, tablets and PCs with touch screen use indium tin oxide (ITO) glasses, and these glasses are highly durable. So the chances of natural degradation in responsiveness of the touch screen over time is not very likely, unless you use it very rough. If your touch screen is unresponsive, there can be a hardware fault or software issue. Hardware issues are sorted at service centers (they replace your screen if your warrantee period is not over and it is not your fault behind your screen�s unresponsiveness/ damage). If your warranty period is not over, visiting service center for a screen replacment is the most recommended thing to do. It takes time for the replacement, but it is worth it. In case of hardware issue you can not do much by yourself, but luckily most of the times touch screen sensitivity issues are software related or result of some bad handling, which are fixable using easy tricks and tweaks.

Preventive Measures:

Before we go to the tricks and tweaks section, let�s get aware of some of the preventive measures to keep the device�s touch screen last long and work smooth.

Do Not Keep Your Phone in Your Pocket

Do not place your phone in the rear pocket of your tight jeans. Also make sure you do not have coins, keys or any other pointed type of object in the same pocket with your phone. Too much pressure (when you attempt to sit), and scratches can negatively affect the sensitivity of your device�s touch screen.

Too Hot and Humid Condition

Hot and humid condition can make your hands sweaty and sweaty fingertips keep you from experiencing smooth swiping or sliding on your device. Sweaty tips make it hard for the touch screen to distinguishing what is a finger, and what is sweat. That confusion makes the screen go unresponsive. Although it does not cause any lasting damage, it temporarily spoils your experience with your smart device, and it can make you think that your touchscreen has got some issues.

Use Screen Protector

Every smart device owner should consider purchasing a screen protector. Screen protectors are made to repels skin oils, sweat, and dirt. An uncleaned screen can give you rough and unresponsive experience. And last but not the least, screen protectors keep your screen from getting scratched. Select the right kind of screen protector that not only keep your screen safe from scratches, but also not affect the sensitivity of the touch screen. Too thick touch screen protectors can cause insensitiveness.

Use Microfibre Cloths

Make it a habit of cleaning the screen using a microfibre cloth. It will keep your screen from dirt built-ups. Microfibre cloths are soft and made of very small and microscopic thin fibres that suck up dirt and oil without causing any kind of scratch or harm to the screen.

Touch Screen Troubleshoot (Software Related)

Most of the touch screen unresponsive issues are software related and can be fixed with ease.

Reboot

Reboot refreshes everything in a device. From operating system to apps, to Wifi and other connectivities, everything. And in many case only a reboot can clear up many issues.

Eject SD Card, SIM and Battery

If reboot did not work, try this method which is a little bit maximum. Turn off your device, eject your SD card, SIM (or SIMs), and battery. Keep it like that for 1 minute. And then Insert SD card, SIM and the battery, and turn your device on. This method can fix a whole lot of software related issues.

Touchscreen Unresponsiveness Due To Bad Apps

Do you remember when did you first experience touch screen unresponsiveness? Did you install any app before that? Maybe that app is the culprit. Delete all data of that app and uninstall it, and see if that fixes your problem. Some app installation (or even updates) can invite malware into your phone or tablet. Malwares are capable of corrupting phone�s device drivers which can results into touch screen problems. Malware can cause unresponsive, exaggerated or in some cases complete loss of sensitivity. Normally, uninstalling such malicious apps from your device can fix your problem. If not, try the next method, which is kind of extreme.

Fix The Problem Using Touchscreen Calibration

Calibration tool is useful when your touch screen responds slowly or detect your touches inaccurately. There are some good calibration apps available in the Google Play store for free. You can try any of those based on ratings and reviews. Success using this method is totally depends on the app, so this is not a recommended option to get rid of the unresponsive touch screen issue.

Factory Reset To Get Back Touch Screen Sensitivity

Factory reset or master reset is all about going back to the original manufacturer settings. In this process all the data, information and settings are erased (including malwares, viruses and malfunctioning apps) from the phone or tablet. When no other method works, this is the ultimate weapon to fix any kind of software related issue.

Factory Reset From Hardware:

If your touchscreen sensitivity is completely gone and you can not operate it, there is an option for Android users to factory reset the device from hardware. But before follow the method, make sure your phone or tablet has at least 50% battery left. If not, first charge your battery and then act according to the following method to factory reset.  The method may vary with devices but in general try the following instruction:

  1. Power off your android device.
  2. From power off state, hold the VOLUME DOWN key, then press and hold the POWER button until the boot menu appears.
  3. Use VOLUME DOWN to scroll to FACTORY RESET and press the POWER button to select.
  4. And the FACTORY RESET process will start after rebooting automatically.

Conclusion

There are few other grounds that may cause your device screen go unresponsive, like if you drop your phone on a hard surface, or in water (or any liquid), etc. So careful while handling your phone or tablet, and take some precautionary measures to make your device last longer. There are some myths related to touch screen unresponsiveness. For example keeping your device close to magnetic materials can cause temporary or permanent damage to the touch screen. That is not true. At least not yet proved. And finally use of stylus does not cause unresponsiveness of your touch screen.

Autonomous Vehicles On Indian Roads Is Impossible

A month back union transport minister Nitin Gadkari announced that India is not going to allow autonomous vehicles on its roads, because it will only increase the number of unemployed people. Undoubtedly this announcement from union transport minister�s mouth must be a relief for many drivers, those who earn their living from this profession. But is it even possible for an autonomous vehicle to run on Indian roads? It is going to be a massive challenge for an autonomous vehicle to be practicable on Indian roads. The first obstacle on the way of an autonomous vehicle is to deal with the unexpected and dangerous events (that don’t happen very often) on road. And on Indian roads you are going to find loads of it. From deep potholes to rowdy fellow drivers, from roadside hawkers to unpredictable pedestrians, and from beggars to unearthly motorists, each of them are potent enough to pose humongous challenges for an autonomous vehicle�s poor little artificial brain. On Indian roads, how many sensors, and how much data and what kind of super-advanced algorithm will make the AI software inside an autonomous vehicle to get even a slightest idea about what is going on? While autonomous vehicles still trying to understand bicycles in San Francisco and moose in Sweden, kangaroos are giving it a hard time in australia. In Australia a special kind of AI algorithm is required to deal with kangaroos on the road. Kangaroos unlike other quadrupeds, do not look like one. Kangaroos look different depending on what they’re up to. They look different when they are grazing, or hopping or standing. If the AI of an autonomous vehicle find that this tough, imagine how it is going to deal with the messy things on Indian roads. Rest assured driver brothers in India, no body is going to take your jobs, at least not this stupid AI of an autonomous vehicle.

How an AI system can write stories of Game of Thrones?

The final, six-episode season of �GoT� (Game of Thrones)on HBO will be written by an AI (Artificial Intelligence) system.

How does this AI system work?

Developed by Zack Thoutt, a Got fan and a software engineer, this AI system is actually a �Recurrent Neural Network� that is capable of predicting stories based on previously written materials. Thoutt fed the AI system with all the 5 GoT books (total 5,376 pages) and also some popular GoT fan theories. Based on those data, the AI system can generate predictions on what will happen next. This recurrent neural network based AI system is not perfect. It makes many grammatical mistakes, and it also do not comprehend when one character in the story dies, it continues on with the dead character�s storyline. But this AI system is a great help for writers, if they want to finish their work ASAP.

Should Delhi Follow Londons Footsteps To Fight Air Pollution?

In average, one person eats 1 kg food and drinks 2 kg (2 liter) water every day, compared to breathing about 13 kg of air per day, which is 4x more than he/she eats and drinks. The air we breathe is a mix of pollutants that come from various sources or are created from different chemical reactions in the atmosphere. Air pollution is a big issue, yet sometimes we ignore it. Because we all do not face air pollution equally. Even within a city there are places with more polluted air than other corners of the same city. But we have to realize that air pollution is a global issue. Air pollution can cause short term and long term health problems, mainly in elderly and young kids. We need to take some sincere steps to make the air around us less toxic.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Introduction of electric vehicles on roads can be a great step towards achieving this goal. The internal combustion engine (in gasoline/ petrol or diesel vehicles) is one the major cause of air pollution.

UK�s first step towards its 2040 goal

Couple of months back Britain had announced that it would ban on the sale of new diesel and gas vehicles by year 2040, to improve its poor air quality. Following that announcement, the 500 years old postal service company �Royal Mail� introduced its 9 new electric delivery trucks/ vans, that would hopefully reduce the amount of air and noise pollution in London. These trucks come in 3.5, 6 and 7.5 tonnes models, and they are capable of traveling 100 miles on a single change. In UK, especially in London, the worst offenders of air and noise pollution are delivery vans/ trucks. These delivery vehicles emit 23 times the level of toxins legal in the UK. The most amazing thing about these trucks is that it has same price as diesel delivery trucks. Nine electric delivery vans certainly won�t make any significant difference in terms of lowering the air (and noise) pollution in London, but this is a great start! It shows how serious Londoners are about the air pollution issue. The launch of these electric delivery trucks will create the infrastructure for future EVs (electric vehicles). According to Nissan, within next 3 years electric charging stations will outnumber gas stations.

Should Delhi Be More Concerned?

Is air pollution a that big issue in London? Actually,Yes! Just like any other big city, the danger of air pollution in the UK is very real. If London (UK) is that much serious, should we Indians (especially Delhiites) be worried? Definitely! We are in much worse condition when in comes to air and noise pollution. We all realize this fact, yet the problem is that we ignore it, for some reason. Perhaps, we are hesitant to take any action, because we know we have to take some real drastic and may be uncomfortable actions to fight air pollution. And the action Delhi government is taking to fight air pollution is far from being enough. If you compare Delhi�s air pollution with London, you will be shocked. It�s 2x higher than London. Despite the presence of moderate numbers of quality of green and parks in Delhi, Delhiites are getting exposed to dangerous amount of air pollution during outdoor activities, every day.

India will go EVs by 2030

Here is a good news for you! India is one of those few countries that has announced it would go electric-vehicles by 2030. It�s definitely a bold statement for a highly populated country like India, but for the successful implementation we have to take actions from now. Trying to lowering the number of vehicles (for example by allowing private vehicles with odd and even registration numbers to alternate days on the Delhi’s roads.) may not be a practical solution in the long run. We need to follow what London is trying to achieve. We need to introduce electric vehicles for public service purposes. Slowly, we could increase the number of electric-vehicles in the city. Create more and more charging points, which will encourage even the general public to purchase electric-vehicles (cars).

What else we could do?

  1. Walk or cycle to work or school and encouraging people to do the same.
  2. We need more plants and trees around us. These plants and trees can take carbon monoxide from the air and can keep the air clean.

Why completely banning gasoline vehicles is not practical?

The fight between battery vehicles (plug-in electric vehicles or EVs) and vehicles with internal combustion engine is going to get savage in the coming decade. While countries like Germany and UK are planning to ban internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030 and 2040, US and China are looking for increasing the sales of gasoline (petrol) and diesel powered vehicles, by making them more efficient. Mazda Motor Corporation and Nissan are developing new technology that will make internal combustion engine vehicles more efficient and systematic. The new technology will increase the fuel economy and will sharply lower emission. This news might upset battery vehicle admirers out there, who think gasoline (or diesel) vehicles should not be on the roads in future. We all want to see battery vehicles on the road, but is it sensible to ban internal combustion engine vehicles completely? The zero-emission battery vehicles are more environmental friendly compared to contemporary vehicles on the road, but this is not true everywhere. It can cause identical amount of pollution if the local grid depends on thermal power plants for electric generation.

Ban on Internal Combustion Engine is not Possible Everywhere!

Thermal power plants (coal) help meet almost half of the world�s power demand. Thermal Power Plants affect environment very badly. The presence of large amount of electric vehicles on the road will make thermal power plants to produce more electricity and that will result into more air pollution. That means not every country or place will benefit from battery vehicles equally (from environmental reasons). Even countries like the US where about 65% of the electricity comes from thermal plants. In India 59% electricity is generated by thermal plants. If the US and India ban on internal combustion engine vehicles completely, that would not help the environment in any manner. On the other hand, Germany mainly depends on nuclear power, biomass, wind, hydro and solar for electric generation. That makes Germany more suitable for battery vehicles. Even in the US where thermal power is the biggest source of electric generation, the state California depends on renewable energy sources, including geothermal power, wind power, and solar power. That makes California one of the best place to run an electric vehicle. So, it depends on the local grid how it generates electricity.

Battery Vehicles Are Not Perfect

There are some issues to resolve when it comes to EV batteries.

  1. Inconvenience of charging time
  2. Having an EV battery that lasts for at least 10 years without losing its efficiency (battery degradation) is still a challenge.
  3. Limited amount of energy we can store in a battery.
  4. It takes at least one hour to charge a EV battery even with a fast charger. That is a bit too much, in case you are away from home and in a hurry.

May be it is a bit inaccurate to say that battery vehicles is a replacement of gasoline (or diesel) vehicles. Battery vehicles will evolve in the coming decade for sure, but it is not likely to replace gas vehicles. Battery vehicle’s� performance is greatly depends on its battery. Unfortunately, battery technology is one of the most slowly developing technology to date. Unless there happens a big breakthrough in the battery technology in the next 5 years, it does not look like gasoline vehicles will be banned from the road by 2030.

Basic Password Safety Measures

Many people choose not to care too much about their password security until it�s too late. An easy to remember password or one password for many online accounts, makes life easy for sure, but at the same time it makes you ill-protected against cybercriminals. There are a whole bunch of great advices on the internet on how to choose a strong password and how to keep yourself from being hacked, but they are of no use until we implement them in practical.   So, here are the basics:

  1. Keep your password length at least 8 character long. Anything less than 8 character long makes your password dangerously vulnerable.
  2. Use all types of characters, like letters, numbers and special characters.
  3. Use both uppercase and lowercase letters. But try not to be predictable. For example don�t always use the first letter in uppercase, because that�s so easy to guess.
  4. Avoid predictable words like dictionary words, names or people or places or anything.
  5. Strictly avoid patterns, like 123456, or abcdef, or qwerty etc.
  6. If you follow above 5 rules, you can actually protect your password for the next 200 years, but wait, that doesn�t mean you keep the same password your whole life. It is strongly advisable to change your password at least once every 90 days.

If you want to make your password even more secure, you can actually do that. All you need is to add more characters to your password. A 9 character long password is more secure than a 8 character password, because it would take more guesses for the hacker to get it.

Apps Sell User Data To Advertisers

In the previous post, we discussed how Disney apps leak children (user) information without the consent of parents. But the fact is that, it is not just Disney apps, but most of the popular free apps( both on Apple store and Google Play Store) sell sensitive user information to the advertisers unlawfully. In a recent research, researchers have found that almost 47% of the apple apps, and 73% of the android apps, sell some kind of user information to advertisers. Medical apps are more notorious in this department, because medical app users share more sensitive data than others.

What kind of data app creators sell to advertisers?

Basically there are two kind of data, that app creators share with advertisers.

  1. Personally identifiable data
  2. Behavioral data

Personally identifiable data can be in the form of user�s name, email or location. These information can be sensitive because hackers can get other information once they target one available data, especially the email of the user.   Behavioral data is the kind of data that is generated when a user use his/ her device. It can be browsing data, search keyword data, or other personal information like what kind of pages you like on social networking sites etc.

Why advertisers buy user data?

Advertisers prefer to publish their ads to target audiences. And to find target audience they need to study user�s activities. And for that user data is necessary.