Silicon Valley is not an arbiter of free expression

Silicon Valley is not an arbiter of free expression

It is somewhat disconcerting that Silicon Valley -- which occupies about 300 square miles, and where most think the same and have the same politics -- can determine allowable content for the rest of the planet. Some of us remember that many of the major platforms were developed using government grants and public funding. With this base they should represent all views, of all types, and not just the ones they happen to like. This was the initial declaration at least, but in the modern world, that seems to have changed. I am certainly no great fan of Alex Jones, but that a cabal of providers can effectively execute social termination is very worrying for the future of open platforms and freedom of expression.

I have been using YouTube more and more for my news sources as the live media trends to a single side and viewpoint for all news stories of particular types. I'm liking the new long form interviews, where people can layout and present their arguments and ideas in a logical fashion and then take questions. I've also discovered that for every decent presentation there are a plethora of cut down and cobbled together versions of the same things that are used for click-bait with tags like "xxx wipes the floor with", "xxx DESTROYS yyy", "xxx OWNS yyyy", "xxx leaves yyy speechless", and so on. I've learned to avoid these, as they are atypical of the person or group they are supposed to be representing and are only there to get someone some click revenue. YouTube has been showing the same bias that others do, however, so I am not sure how much longer I'll be able to watch content I like on that platform.

Samsung has put another nail in the regular hard drive coffin, with a new QLC four bits per cell flash technology, up from TLC or three bits per cell. They now join Intel/Micron, WD/Toshiba and SK Hynix. Samsung has already started mass producing a 4TB model with 540Mbps sequential reads and 520Mbps sequential writes. Micron's 7.68TB own model comes in at 549Mbps sequential reads but provides only up to 340Mbps sequential writes. Samsung is yet to provide the random speeds, so they may be so-so, or they are still tuning the controllers. No pricing as yet, so it will be interesting to see what their final cost per terabyte figure is.

Has Microsoft made another Zune with the budget Surface Go? Only time will tell. It is essentially a budget Surface Pro, but unlike Apple it still has an audio port and a microSD slot. The target is schools and students and perhaps some others at the lower end of the marketplace. You can get a Surface dock for it, but that will add another 50% to the price. At 26Wh, the battery is below average and is hard wired in, so calculate in a potential future replacement cost on that. With a 1.6GHz Pentium Gold and 4GB standard RAM, performance is also underwhelming. I'm going to predict it does not do well at all.

Nokia has a new phone out. Actually Microsoft bought them out, then the Finnish company HMD Global bought a part of Microsoft's feature phone business and has a licensing agreement that allows it to make smartphones under the Nokia brand. The new phone is the 6.1 Plus, yes this is after the earlier 7 Plus model, but numbering systems stopped making any sense after the later Intel CPU system first appeared. The new model has a 5.8-inch screen, down from the 7's 6-inch version but at a higher 1080 by 2280 resolution. The octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor and 4GB of RAM is average and it comes in a moderate 64GB memory configuration. The 16MP primary and selfie cameras are nice, and it has a medium range 3,060mAh battery. Dual SIM supporting both Nano and Micro is a nice touch. Not convinced it is going anywhere, but it is interesting to see the Nokia name trying to make a comeback.

Android 9 is coming out already. Wait, what happened to Android 8? If like me you have yet to become fully familiar with 8, or for others that have never seen it, the early announcement of 9 will come as a bit of a surprise. Code named Android Pie I guess you can have it but not eat it, too. As usual.

The first to get it are Pixel owners with other providers to release their updates throughout the year. I expect Samsung will be last, as usual. For those already familiar with the expected features of version 9, they won't all be in the first release. The Slices features for Pie, no I'm not making that up, will not be fully provided until a later update. There have been improvements around battery usage and screen brightness. Those who have already been able to test the new Android version report that it is faster and more stable than earlier versions but with a new interface that will take time to get used to.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at

James Hein

IT professional

An IT professional of over 30 years’ standing. He has a column in Bangkok Post tech pages and has been writing without skipping a beat every week all these years.

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