Here is a roundup of the tech news that you may have missed this week.
More calls for TikTok bans as platform rolls out time limits for teens
Canada is reportedly joining the growing list of western nations that have implemented a ban on the Chinese social media app from government devices, amid concerns of cybersecurity risks.
This comes the same week as the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to advance a bill that would give US President Joe Biden the power to ban TikTok and other apps in the US owned by Chinese companies. The bill was passed along party lines, and will still need to go through the Senate as well as Biden's signature before becoming law.
Meanwhile, TikTok introduced an update that would automatically set the default screen time of teens under 18 to 60 minutes a day. Teens will still be able "make an active decision" to bypass this daily limit with a passcode, though an additional prompt will happen after 100 minutes if they turn off the limit altogether.
The screen limits aren't just for teens, though, with all users being able to customise them as wanted.
Samsung's green line problem resurfaces
Recently, a Facebook post on Complaint Singapore's Facebook page went viral, with poster Sewingwith Kayzel highlighting Samsung's S$398 charge to repair her now defective Samsung Note 20 Ultra, in what seemed like a phone defect rather than the fault of user error.
Basically, after a software update, a green line appeared on the poster's phone. The poster's request to get it fixed at Samsung's Care Centre at Plaza Singapura was met with the hefty repair fee, although to note, the phone was already beyond its warranty period.
This is a seemingly-widespread issue with Samsung's 20 series of phones that has surfaced a number of times online already.
Be it a Note 20 Ultra or the regular Samsung Galaxy S20, the appearance of the dreaded green line seems to have a consistent trigger — it always happens after a software update.
The picture you see above is a recent picture of a friend's Samsung Galaxy S20+ that had the same problem after a software update.
At the moment, there are still no specifics on the cause, even though the problem of these lines appearing has been reported as early as 2021.
If you are looking for a fix, you are out of luck as the only way to get it repaired is to visit a Samsung Care Centre. And even then, a lot of affected users have noted that that Samsung does not acknowledge this to be a product defect.
Even the later iterations of their phones seem to exhibit this issue, such as this post in December 2022 on Samsung's community website from a user who experienced this with an S22 Ultra.
Fortunately, there have been no reports of this with the latest S23... yet.
Another rough week for Twitter
Twitter has had another rough week, which seems like a regular thing after the company was bought over by Elon Musk.
The platform faced another outage on Wednesday, with thousands of users unable to load their feeds and some seeing a message usually reserved for first-time users. This comes a few days after the company laid off dozens of staff over the weekend.
While the platform did also roll out a new policy around "Violent Speech" this week, Twitter competitors have been making strides of their own.
News-reading app Flipboard announced it was integrating the decentralised social platform Mastodon into its main app, as well as starting its own Mastodon instance.
Meanwhile, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s new Twitter alternative, Bluesky, is now on the App Store. It's still in closed beta and invite only, but interested users can join the waitlist. Bluesky is said to borrow heavily from Twitter, and joins the growing field of alternatives looking to displace the once dominant microblogging platform.
The march of AI
There seems to be no slowing of the AI revolution. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT and DALL-E 2, recently announced that other developers will now be able to build ChatGPT into their apps. This means we're likely going to see more app developers having their own versions of AI chatbots.
And we won't have to wait long to see them. Based on an advanced model of what powers ChatGPT, Snapchat (remember them) is releasing its own experimental AI feature, initially only for subscribers of its Snapchat+ service. Yet, even before this rolls out, developer Snap has already pre-emptively apologised for what the bot, named My AI, might say.
“As with all AI-powered chatbots, My AI is prone to hallucination and can be tricked into saying just about anything. Please be aware of its many deficiencies and sorry in advance!” the company said in its announcement.
Not to be left out, Meta also announced that it would be working on 'AI personas' for its Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp platforms. Founder Mark Zuckerberg said that while Meta would focus "on building creative and expressive tools" in the short term, the long term focus would be to "developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways".
AMD launches the gaming-focused Ryzen 9 7950X3D and 7900X3D
In the fight to claim the 'bEsT cPu FoR gAmInG', AMD has launched a refresh of their recently launched 16-core and 12-core CPU, the Ryzen 9 7950X and 7900X, with added 3D V-cache, hence the '3D' extension behind the name.
Intel and AMD have always tried to outdo each other in 'gAmInG' performance for their CPU line. What's absurd about this is that anything high-end that is offered by both these companies is likely not needed by the average consumer.
The product stack at the mid-to-bottom tier of the chain is usually more than enough if you are looking to just game on your PC.
Anyway, these refreshed CPUs with the added cache can enhance a game's performance if it is memory hungry. The added cache will usually store extra data needed to be processed by the CPU, in turn, makes the processing faster (and churn out more game frames as a result).
Not all games use this process, though, so it really depends on the game you are playing. The refreshed versions are also priced similarly to their non-3D versions, so expect the 'older' CPUs to get discounted.
IT Show 2023 (9 - 12 March)
If you are looking to shop for new computer parts, new electronics or to just waste your weekend aimlessly walking around salesmen trying to outdo each other, the IT Show is returning to Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre on the second weekend of March 2023.
Taking up two floors (Level 3 and 4), the IT Show is one of the annual tech expos in Singapore that feature the biggest players in the tech industry and their (mostly) great deals, if you visit them in person.
Homegrown companies like Challenger, Dreamcore and Creative are already confirmed to be making an appearance, while companies like Secretlab and the numerous computer parts shops from Sim Lim Square have always had a booth in previous tech expos.
If you are lucky enough, entering the IT Show's lucky draw can also potentially net you a massage chair, a smart lock or a robot vacuum.
Keep vigilant on scams
The fight against scams continues in Singapore, with several initiatives revealed during the ongoing Committee of Supply debates.
Soon, people in Singapore may be able to block international numbers from contacting them if they do not wish to receive calls from such numbers. This is one of the few ways that the country is exploring in the fight against the rising prevalence of scams.
Meanwhile, an Online Criminal Harms Act will also be introduced to combat criminal activities online, safeguarding Singaporeans from fraudulent and violent online activities.
No matter how vigilant we all are, we can also sometimes fall prey just by being slightly off-guard. A young Malaysian couple was recently scammed out of RM1 million (~S$300,000) in just 14 seconds because of a misstep, but thankfully the Malaysian bank and authorities were quick to act to reimburse the couple with the missing money.
Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy watercooling his computer parts, he does some pro wrestling.
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