Samsung's A series phone is a big fat L

Samsung's A series phone is a big fat L

Nothing at all back from Samsung corporate on the A53-5G, if that changes I'll let you know. The new phone is a brick and after some research it turns out that more often than not Samsung only has a local warranty. I've since spoken to a number of people who've had issues with charging.

With this in mind I recommend no one buy a Samsung phone, in particular the A series, if you are planning to travel with it. If something goes wrong you will be paying to get it fixed and this can cost more than half what you paid for the phone in the first place. The S series is more robust but you can still face the issue of service outside of your host country.

- In other news I just bought the new Pixel 7 Plus phone. The top-of-the-line units are a few hundred dollars less that the equivalent Samsung model, have a two-year international warranty and you are guaranteed five years of OS updates. The Pixel comes with the latest Android, without the bloatware of other providers and without the reported slowdown that Apple was fined for. Samsung is also reported to play that same game. Transfer from an old phone is seamless but with the same issues you'll face with other brands, ie not everything is moved, so make sure you have your account passwords. The Line app in particular is difficult to move and all but impossible if you don't have the original phone. The new Pixel is clean, nice and thin and has a decent battery life without all that extra stuff running. Of course, it is still linked to Google but readers will be aware of what that entails.

- Has anyone else noticed how it is becoming more and more difficult to contact a company, organisation or government office to make an enquiry or track something down? Finding an email for a major phone manufacturer, trying to track a package in the post, trying to have something in your account changed and an increasing number of cases where getting to talk to a human is difficult. Organisations are moving to rules engines and other devices to put a barrier between you and some answers. I expect this to get worse and worse over time.

- Another trend I'm starting to see is the social media platform push from friends and contacts. How many of you have been asked: "Why aren't you on ?" Everyone has their favourite. The implied expectation is that you should have accounts with Messenger, Facebook, Line, WhatsApp, TikTok, Instagram and if you're really desperate Twitter.

- If you have some programming skills and an interest in AI speech recognition then head on over to and check out the newest open-source neural network called Whisper. From the website: "Whisper is an automatic speech recognition (ASR) system trained on 680,000 hours of multilingual and multitask supervised data collected from the web." That is a lot of training. I watched a demo where it did an excellent job even with varying degrees of quality and background noise.

- You may remember a while back I recommended BitDefender for your malware security. It is still a good product in many ways but it has one big flaw, it decides what it thinks is a dangerous file based purely on the file name, not the contents, and will block you from accessing it or unzipping it from an archive. Trying to stop that happening is a long and involved process when it should be as simple as "do you want to proceed?". I contacted them about it and their response was not encouraging. If you are more of a power user this will rapidly become more than annoying.

- This week's malware is brought to you by the advanced persistent threat group (APT) Budworm, which using a suite of penetration tools has shifted their target from the Middle East, Europe and Asia to the US and a state legislature there. Budworm has been linked to China, potentially state sponsored, no great surprise if true. Their main tool is HyperBro but for those with a cyber penetration interest they also use common tools including CyberArk, Cobalt Strike, LaZagne, IOX, Fast Reverse Proxy and Fscan.

- Sometimes open-source isn't as open as you'd like. I wrote about Docker, a container-based system for running software on platforms, some time back. Last year the company introduced a paid subscription for the Docker Desktop. They've just increased their prices by around 28% for Team users and 14% for Business users, along with restricting the size of Team accounts to 100 users, effectively forcing some organisations into the Business subscription. The only reason given for this at the time of writing was "continue to invest in Docker". The Docker Engine, Docker CLI and Docker Compose all use the Apache 2.0 license and are free to use. I expect this will change the market in the same way MySQL users moved to PostGreSQL when it was taken over.

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

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