A tablet of note

A tablet of note

I have used my new Onyx Boox Note Air for a couple of weeks now and I like it. Having a user manual in English would be very useful but I finally found the setting to enable the auto rotate feature.

Sometime after that, Onyx User Support finally responded with the info that I had to submit issues from the device itself and not use the form on the website for that purpose. I've used the unit for note taking in a work meeting and it works well, particularly in those cases where someone is using a whiteboard as I could quickly replicate what was being drawn or written. It also demonstrated that it is important to use a careful layout if the aim is to convert to text afterwards. The first time I was writing notes sideways with arrows going from place to place. This did not translate well. Battery life has been excellent and with my light use no recharge so far. If you are happy with a greyscale only screen then this is also a decent Android 10 tablet.

- You would have thought that all the variations of the smartphone had been tried. Screen on the back and front. Devices that open up into a small tablet, E Ink screens on one side and the usual brick formats. Enter LG with their new Wing concept. With your thumb you flip the screen into a T-shaped device that can have independent apps on the resulting cross section and on the stem below. In other configurations the area at the bottom controls the top section freeing that up for the full experience. It is a novel concept that as I watched a review video, started to grow on me.

- The concept is clearly aimed at the video blogger and the multi-tasker. The primary screen for the regular block shape being the top of the T in that configuration, is a 6.8-inch OLED 2460x1080 screen with a 60Hz refresh rate. The secondary is a smaller 3.9-inch 1240x1080 screen. The unit comes with Android 10, an octo-core CPU, 8GB of system RAM with 128 and 256GB memory configurations. The cameras are a 64MP main, 13MP ultrawide and a 12MP motion sensor complementary lens. The selfie camera is a motorised pop-up 32MP and you can record both front and back cameras at the same time. This is great for reactions to what you are recording on the main camera. Up to 4K 60fps video is supported. An FM radio is included, as is support for a microSD. The usual features like Bluetooth 5.1 and others are included, but not decent waterproof protection, nor a headphone jack. It does support 5G. It is a little cheaper than the true top-end models. I see this phone appealing to some market segments.

- In the random technology story of the week, just because they could, ornithologists from three Japanese universities attached tiny monitoring devices to black-tailed gulls on Kabushima Island to track their foraging behaviour. Each unit was waterproof and housed a video camera, an accelerometer, GPS unit and an 8-bit microcontroller. At launch it was announced as the first "AI-enabled bio-logger". A rules engine turned the video on and the results were better than randomly turning the cameras off and on.

- In another technology achievement story, Nasa has successfully communicated with the Voyager 2 space probe after an eight-month pause. Voyager is currently 18.7 billion kilometres from Earth and getting further away at a rate of about 60,000kph, but after some transmitter upgrades here on our home planet, they still managed to re-establish communications. This currently is a 34-hour round-trip signal. Compare this achievement to what humanity could do 150 years ago.

- In a nod to my developer days, the latest TIOBE industry survey of the top 100 programming languages by popularity for October 2020 shows two main trends. Java is rapidly declining and Python is growing popularity. Top spot is currently C at 17%, taken as Java declined to 12.5% with Python rose to 11.3%. At this rate it will take second place within two years. I coded in C a long time back and have recently taken up some Python programming.

- If you are a South Park fan, and/or are interested in the subject of deep fakes, then I recommend you check out their new Sassy Justice channel on YouTube. A deep fake is a realistic representation of someone or something that is used to generate a fake video. This could be used to set someone up, have them say something they didn't or for any other purpose. There have been concerns about the development of such technology and if you look at what they are already doing and project that 10 years in the future, there really is some genuine cause for concern.

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

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