Got those work from home blues

Got those work from home blues

Working from home is fine if everything is working. I use a two-monitor set-up with one for work and the other for home use. The work monitor reverts back to home use when the end of the day comes. Both monitors run off a Display Port connection from each of the graphics cards. Last week, one of the monitors decided to stop working. At first, I was thinking of a quick way to get a new monitor but after a bit of reflection, I plugged the non-working one into an HDMI port on my home computer and it worked just fine. Thinking it was the cable, I ordered a new one but when it arrived, the monitor still didn't work with the Display Port so it was obvious that port had stopped working.

- There are few lessons here. The obvious one is to check the connections first. Make sure the cables and ports are clean. That will usually fix a lot of the problems without having to do much else and this works with lots of different cables, including the one you charge your phone with. The next step is to try a spare cable -- if you have one -- since when a wire breaks, it is usually the end of that cable's usefulness. In the case of monitors, make sure your graphics card and your displays can handle different connection types. HDMI still gives me the maximum resolution from my displays. Most monitors these days come with Display Port and HDMI and some also come with the older DVI port. If your graphics card also has all three, then you have potentially two backups. The last choice will be to replace the monitor if the other troubleshooting options don't work.

- As Covid-19 winds down, I expect to see a lot of deals appear from manufacturers trying to restart their business and manufacturing supply chains. If you need something and can wait, then plan ahead now for the sales. I also expect those on a free trial to be pressured into converting to the paid versions, so be ready for high sales pressure to also be ramped up.

- Even though delivery can be a challenge, companies are still releasing new devices. The new Poco F2 Pro smartphone from Xiaomi is one example. Starting at €500 (17,300 baht), it comes with the Snapdragon 865 platform and a 64MP quad-camera set-up. Similar to the Redmi K30 Pro handset, it has some nice features for the price. 5G support is included but not for the latest mmWave. The top model has 8GB of high-speed RAM and 256GB of storage but you also get microSD card support for extra memory. There's a 6.67-inch AMOLED screen, under-screen fingerprint reader and a 4700mAh battery with 30W fast charging. This places it in good territory. The 8K video recording at 30fps and 4K at 60fps is nice as is the 64MP Sony sensor and there is a 5MP macro lens and 13MP ultrawide lens arrangement. The fourth camera is a 2MP depth sensor. Bluetooth 5.1, a 3.5mm headphone jack and Wi-Fi 6 take care of your other connectivity needs. The big question is how many can they get to people?

- In not really news anymore, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others continue to ban, block, drop and throttle those they don't particularly like. Eventually, they will run out of people as they force them to move to other platforms. All pretence as open and equal platforms for all has been dropped in recent months.

- If you were wondering just how robust those contact-tracking apps are, then India is not a good example. After five weeks and 100 million downloads at the time of writing, they have only just released the data-use protocols stating that they will "collect only such data as is necessary and proportionate to formulate or implement appropriate health responses". This includes the user's name, mobile number, age, gender and profession, as well as which users they have been in contact with, for how long, and where they were. It is also a mandatory installation for employees returning to offices and maybe for all airline passengers. You may want to check the rules in your country for similar applications.

- Artificial Intelligence is very popular these days but it is not always a good thing. An example is medical scans enhanced by AI algorithms. Yes, it would save time if algorithms could enhance such scans with 100% accuracy. According to a recent study published in the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings, the problem with current versions is tiny corrections like the process removing a small blurred tumour or the addition of noise flecks are causing concern. The study checked six convolutional neural networks that enhance MRI, CT and NMR scans and found that "small changes in the input may result in big changes in the output". I agree that there is a great future in AI, apart from those annoying Skynet scenarios, but we need to be very sure that the results are better than those currently provided by human eyeballs.

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


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