Good things come in small packages

Good things come in small packages

- I received a tiny Windows 10 based computer I had supported a while back on the Indiegogo site called the GMK NucBox 4K. Not having looked too closely at the specs apart from the ports and memory, the first thing I noticed about it was the tiny size about 2 inches by 2 inches and 1-and-a-bit inches tall. Literally pocket sized.

It has a headphone jack, HDMI out and two USB 3 ports. The model I ordered has 8GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, a 4-core CPU and 4K HDMI output. It comes with a real Windows 10 version that you have to set up the same as you do on larger machines. My aim for this device is a media player that will talk to my main PC and devices in a way my older Dune unit never managed to do. I'll also use it as a document reader for my TV. Set-up was seamless, even with the Win 10 Pepper Jobs remote I was using.

- At the time of writing Parler was the No.1 trending App. An alternative to Twitter, this is one of a number of alternatives to the increasingly one-sided mega-platforms that include Facebook, Alphabet, Google, Amazon, Twitter and YouTube. If you are looking to round out the suite then check out Rumble, Newsmax, Bonginoreport, Minds, MeWe, Gab and BitChute as starting places. No matter the perspective, in the end it comes down to the customers and if they're satisfied with your service. Alienating more than half of your customer base might be ideologically sound but not very good business as the replacement alternatives start to appear and become popular. The initial list above has become more and more censorious while the latter set are, at this point at least, open platforms of expression. What the balance will be in a year or so remains to be seen.

- Based on my recent viewing patterns the number of YouTube ads just keeps on growing. I recently had seven of them in a seven-minute video and none of them were for anything I was interested in. For those that have watched The Social Dilemma my current AI-based image must be a very blurry one. Worse, in other targeted advertising I kept getting ads for something I had researched online and already purchased, so they missed badly with those as well. I guess the AI systems are not that intelligent after all.

- According to Tesla, worn-out NAND memory chips can potentially cause a number of problems in older cars, specifically those built between 2012 and 2018, in both the model S and X variants. Problems include the rear-view camera failing and no turn signal indication along with other audio alerts. The core of the issue is the infotainment system running on Nvidia's Tegra 3 system-on-chips that include 8GB of eMMC NAND storage. These chips are also found in phones and inexpensive laptop devices. Memory chips in general have a program-erase cycle limit, so storage eventually becomes unreliable and then fails. This is why your older devices slowed down and are now probably in a box or drawer somewhere because you decided to upgrade.

- Another area that never seems to live up to the marketing is the Internet of Things, or IoT, and more specifically in this instance smart homes. Google Nest, one popular system in the US and Europe, recently went down again. Users were locked out of their accounts and unable to access their Nest products with their smartphones. It took Google some time to identify and eventually get a patch out. The lesson here is that such systems are entirely relying on, in this case Google, servers to be working correctly. Your smart home can't rely wholly on an external agency to remain smart.

- The fortunes of Huawei continue to fall as it was forced to sell its lower end Honor handset business, mostly due to the US export restrictions they have been facing primarily in the US and other Western nations. Huawei has not mentioned the price the unit fetched but has said the transaction will leave it without any shares in the new entity. Rumours put the sale price close to US$15 billion (454 billion baht). This is all despite the latest Huawei sponsored "independent" study from, in this case, the think tank Oxford Economics, that claims Huawei has been good for the UK economy.

- Do you remember the Apple slowdown issue a while back that generated a lawsuit? The latest news is that Apple has agreed to pay $113 million to settle a lawsuit with multiple US states that said the tech giant unfairly hobbled the performance of millions of iPhones. There was a consumer payout back in March of $500 million to clear that side. This is for the States themselves and since it has all been out of court, Apple does not have to declare any fault.

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

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