Damian Lillard ends vegan diet because he lost ‘a little bit too much weight’

Lillard lost over 17 pounds while vegan.
Damian Lillard was one of the first players to publicly disclose his choice to go vegan during the offseason. But in an appearance on a recent podcast, the Trail Blazers guard said he called it quits after five months because he got much lighter than he intended.
“I did it to lose some weight, be easier on my feet and my knees and ankles and stuff. I had a few injuries,” Lillard said on ESPN’s The Hoop Collective Podcast with Chris Haynes and Marc Spears. “And also just get healthier, put better stuff in my body and it helped a lot as far as my energy and how I felt. But I started to lose a little bit too much weight with all the games and practices and all that.
“I had to balance it out, so now I’ve been mixing it up a little bit more, having vegan meals, still mixing it up with other stuff.”

Lillard announced he went vegan on Instagram on Sept. 5 with the goal of getting back to his rookie weight of 190 pounds. He also said in an interview with OregonLive that he wanted to eat cleaner and be lighter on his joints.
“Getting older and you don’t want to let that age sneak up on you where you just get in the habit of eating whatever you want to eat because I know I’m gonna burn it off when it’s time to play,” he said on Sept. 25. “So just creating better habits.”
In Lillard’s five months as a vegan, though, he lost 17 pounds, far more than he anticipated. Now, he has incorporated beef and chicken back into his diet, according to The Undefeated, though he still eats vegan meals regularly.
Lillard was one of several higher-profile NBA players to adopt a vegan lifestyle, including Kyrie Irving, Jahlil Okafor, JaVale McGee and Wilson Chandler. Al Jefferson is a vegetarian, and Michael Porter Jr., a projected top-five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, is also vegetarian.
Lillard, though, appears to be the first of those players to abandon ship.

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Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro Review


The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro is the first dedicated 1:1 macro prime lens in Fujifilm’s XF line-up, and it also has built-in OIS, offering 5-stops of image stabilization. The weather-proof Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens offers an angle-of-view similar to that of a 122mm lens in a 35mm system, ideal for portrait and macro photography, and a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture for low-light shooting and throwing the background completely out-of-focus. Other highlights include an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, an aperture ring on the metal lens barrel, Super EBC coating for improved optical performance, minimum working distance of 25cm/9.8″, and an optical formula that comprises 16 elements in 12 groups, including one aspherical, one Super ED and four extra low dispersion elements. The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens is available now for £1249.99 / $119.99 in the UK and the US, respectively. The lens is also compatible with the XF 1.4x TC WR and XF 2x TC WR teleconverters which extend the effective focal length to 171mm and 244mm.

Ease of Use
The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro is one of the biggest prime lenses in the X-system line-up, weighing 750g and measuring 13cm in length, understandable given the amount of glass used in its construction. As you can see in the pictures below, it complements the top-of-the-range Fujifilm X-T2 camera  very well, not feeling at all front-heavy and more than matching the body in terms of its build quality.

The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens boasts a metal mount, high-grade metal barrel and non-rotating 62mm filter thread. The focus ring is generously wide, smooth and beautifully well-damped in action without being loose, and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. There are no “hard stops” at either end of the 25cm-infinity focus range though.
The lens has a dedicated focus range limiter switch with three settings – Full, 0.5m-infinity and 0.25-0.5m – allowing you to quickly set the focus range for more responsive focusing depending on the distance to your subject.

The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro is the latest weatherproof XF lens to be released, featuring a dust-proof and waterproof structure with weather resistant sealing applied via 11 special seals on the lens barrel, making it a perfect partner for the weatherproof X-T2 camera.

The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens has a traditional aperture ring on the lens barrel, which allows you to set the aperture in 1/3 steps, complete with full aperture markings on the lens barrel. The aperture is also shown in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen. The aperture ring is nicely damped and makes a distinctive click as you change the setting. The aperture ring toggles between auto aperture control (the ring is set to A) or manual aperture control (the switch is set to one of the aperture values).

The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens is driven by a Linear AF Motor. In practice, we found the auto-focusing system to be fairly quick, silent and reliable – it’s not up there with the fastest X-series lenses in terms of AF speed, but it is respectably quick for a dedicated macro lens.

The front of the lens does not rotate on focus, which is good news for anyone looking to use the lens in conjunction with a polariser or neutral density filter.
In terms of accessories, the lens ships with a very large plastic round-shaped lens hood and a lens wrapping cloth, rather than a case.
Focal Range
The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro lens has an angle of view of 20.1°.

The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro doesn’t exhibit any distortion, as you can see in the photo below, and vignetting is very well-controlled too even wide-open at f/2.8.

Chromatic Aberrations
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple, blue or green fringes along contrasty edges, were only noticeable by their complete absence from our sample images.
The Fujifilm XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro has a close-focus point at 25cm from the sensor plane and a maximum magnification of 1x. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. Fujifilm have paid attention to this aspect of lens use, employing a 9-segment diaphragm with rounded blades for pleasing bokeh. In our view, their efforts have been pretty successful – see the examples below.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

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Sharpness: 1 »

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European Champions Cup: pool-by-pool guide to the final round | Gerard Meagher | Sport

European Rugby Champions Cup

• Saracens need bonus-point win to stand chance of qualification
• Scarlets and Toulon face straight shootout for top spot in Pool Five

Manu Tuilagi has been recalled by Leicester, who would do other English sides a favour by beating Racing.
Photograph: Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Pool One
Wasps, who welcome back Juan de Jongh, have a very slim chance of topping the pool. Dai Young’s side would need a bonus-point win over Ulster, denying their rivals any game points, as well as La Rochelle failing to collect any points at home to Harlequins, who are without Mike Brown and Chris Robshaw. A bonus point win for Ulster sees them winners but anything else would allow La Rochelle to go through top with a bonus point win.
Fixtures: Wasps v Ulster, La Rochelle v Quins, Sunday 3.15pm
Pool Two
Saracens, the two-times defending champions, cannot top the pool but a bonus-point win over Northampton and an Ospreys defeat at Clermont would give them 18 points and a chance of going through as one of the three best runners-up. Clermont, for whom Greig Laidlaw is on the bench after a long absence, will top the pool and go through with victory but a win for the Ospreys, denying the French side a losing bonus point in the process, would see the Welsh side advance.
Fixtures: Saracens v Northampton, Clermont v Ospreys, Saturday 3.15pm
Pool Three
Exeter will be hoping a bonus-point win in Glasgow is enough to send them through as runners-up on 19 points but the Warriors recall Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Alex Dunbar. Leinster are the only team already assured of qualification, having secured 23 points from a possible 25. Victory over Montpellier will send them through as the top seeds but the French side can still squeeze through themselves with a bonus-point victory.
Fixtures: Glasgow v Exeter, Montpellier v Leinster, Saturday 1pm
Pool Four
Munster are in pole position to top the pool and would do so with a bonus-point win at home to Castres. The French side can still finish first as well but would need to win and Racing to lose without a bonus point at Leicester. The Tigers, who recall Matt Toomua and Manu Tuilagi, could do the Premiership sides chasing qualification a considerable favour by beating Racing.
Fixtures: Leicester v Racing, Munster v Castres, Sunday 1pm
Pool Five
Scarlets host Toulon in what is effectively a straight shootout to top the pool – the Welsh side trail the three-times champions by a point. Bath cannot top the pool but a bonus-point victory away to Benetton would give them 18 and second place provided the loser of Scarlets v Toulon fail to collect any bonus points. Freddie Burns gets a rare start for Bath at fly-half while Sam Underhill makes his second appearance since mid-November.
Fixtures: Scarlets v Toulon, Treviso v Bath, Saturday 5.30pm

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The new Asus Zenbook 13 (2018) is super light and powerful

If there’s one laptop that’s been announced at CES 2018 (so far) that’s got us excited, it’s Asus’ Zenbook 13. Asus describes it as “ultralight, ultrathin and ultrapowerful”, so it looks well placed to replace last year’s Zenbook 3 as a lightweight powerhouse capable of challenging Apple’s MacBook.
READ NEXT: All the trends and products released at CES 2018
Asus Zenbook 13 UK price: How much does it cost?
Unfortunately, there’s no news on how much the Zenbook 13 will cost in the UK. However, if pushed to make an educated guess, I’d expect it to be around the £1200 mark like the Zenbook 3, if not more.
Asus Zenbook 13 UK release date: When’s it coming out?
Again, there’s no news yet on a release date for the Zenbook 13 in the UK – or indeed the rest of the world – but we’ll be sure to update this page as soon as we receive official details.
Asus Zenbook 13 specs: What’s inside it?
Despite being so thin and lightweight, the Zenbook 13 features an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a superfast 1TB of SSD storage. It’s a mighty impressive spec for a laptop that’s so portable, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a very strong all-rounder, perfectly adept at multitasking as well as raw processing performance. Asus also claims that it delivers an impressive 15 hours of battery life, so it’ll be interesting to see how it fares in our own tests.
The lightweight laptop comes with Windows 10 pre-installed, so you can take advantage of features like Windows Hello – which speeds up the log-in process using facial recognition – and of course Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana. Thanks to a Harman Kardon “audio system”, the laptop should also be able to punch out powerful sound with decent clarity.
Asus Zenbook 13 design: What does it look like?
Weighing only 985g, the Asus Zenbook 13 is lightweight and ultra thin (unfortunately we don’t have any official dimensions yet) and aimed squarely at giving users the ultimate in portability. Beyond knowing that it has an all-metal chassis, it’s impossible to say much about its build quality, but I’d expect it to have the kind of lavish design that wouldn’t look out of place alongside Apple’s Macbook.
Asus Zenbook 13: Early verdict
It’s impossible to come to any real conclusions about how good the Zenbook 13 is without getting our hands on it, especially without knowing how much it’ll cost. However, on paper, the specs look very impressive. A quad-core i7 processor backed up by 16GB RAM should be more than enough power for most users, and weighing less than 1KG, it won’t be weighing you down when you take it everywhere with you.Stay tuned for my full Asus Zenbook 13 review in the very near future.

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If making the College Football Playoff is all about who you play, how can we create better schedules?

If this is the system, how can we make sure the next UCF has a shot at actually entering the conversation? Let’s brainstorm.
In 2016, Tom Herman’s Houston Cougars gave Playoff exec Bill Hancock a trump card to use a year later.

Had Houston gone undefeated that year, it could have been at least considered for a top-five finish, but the Cougars stumbled, losing to Navy, SMU and Memphis. Hancock said he hears people say the system is unfair to the Group of 5 teams, “but I don’t buy it.”
”I don’t believe it,” he said. “Look no further than Houston. Everything was teed up for them, a good schedule, a good conference schedule, and I just disagree with those people.”

All the Cougars had to do was create a track record in the previous season, return most of their difference-makers, and luck their way into a perfectly timed non-conference slate! Then they had to go unbeaten, and they could have finished in the top five.
But the committee only chooses four teams, and I guess one-loss Pac-12 champ Washington would have still gotten that nod. In another recent interview, Hancock gave away the game.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and CFP executive director Bill Hancock both said the Knights should not have been considered for the top four.
”It all comes down to who you play,” Hancock told reporters.

After years of pretending they’re choosing the best teams, pretending they care about how you play, the committee’s spelled out its opinion of teams outside the Power 5 conferences.
To reach the Playoff, Group of 5 teams have to master four steps.
1. Go unbeaten, blowing away almost everybody.
It’s yet to get any G5 teams all that close to the committee’s top 10, but it’s all you can do on the field.
2. Do it two years in a row.
Houston’s 2016 street cred was burnished by its 2015 wins over powers. The same often went for TCU and Boise State a few years back. If the Coogs began 2016 as afterthoughts, would even wins over Oklahoma and Louisville have allowed them to make up enough ground to make the Playoff?
In theory, having the committee begin ranking teams only midseason (instead of using preseason polls as a guideline) should decrease the two-year issue. But Houston was a topic throughout the 2016 offseason because of 2015.
Memphis, which established the committee’s previous highest G5 ranking, 13th, did so only after winning 10 games and remaining unranked throughout 2014.
The Knights were foolish enough to think they could get involved in the conversation in just one year. Sure, Auburn went from 3-9 to the national title game in 2013, but that’s a power-conference team. According to this theory, UCF’s rise from 6-7 to 13-0 was too quick.
3. Luck into an impressive non-conference slate.
Not only must you get a couple of power conference foes, you must hope they’re pretty good once you play them, which might be three years after you signed the schedule agreement.
UCF scheduled an FCS opponent and a team ranked in the S&P+ triple digits. You can’t do that!

But the FCS game (Austin Peay) came about because a game against the ACC’s Georgia Tech (scheduled in April 2015, three months after the Yellow Jackets won the Orange Bowl) was canceled due to hurricane.
And the triple-digit opponent was the Big Ten’s Maryland, which won at Texas and then cratered throughout the season after losing to UCF, mostly due to injury.

So how much more ambitious could they have been when they were drawing up their 2017 schedules back in 2014-16 (while they were going 0-12 in 2015)?
4. Hope for a weak field.
If you’ve done all that, you have to hope the power conferences don’t produce four Playoff locks. And since No. 4 seed Alabama won the Playoff, it’s safe to say the four choices were untouchable.
Of course … Alabama didn’t even win its own SEC division. And the Tide had only two wins against teams in the final CFP rankings, same as UCF. They had one of the weakest résumés of any team selected thus far.
Still, UCF’s timing was obviously bad. I’m sure it will be better in the future.
So for the Knights to get involved in the title race, they must go unbeaten again next year, without head coach Scott Frost, all-world linebackers Shaquem Griffin and Chequan Burkett, or top receiver Tre’Quan Smith. They must hope North Carolina (scheduled in August 2016) and Pittsburgh (scheduled in January 2017) play at a top-25 level. They must also hope for total chaos in the Power 5.
The Playoff’s been even more tilted toward the Power 5 than I expected.
When the system was announced, I simulated how a CFP would have played out in each year of the BCS era (1998-2013), and I only had three mid-majors reaching the semifinals. But now that we’ve seen how the committee treats these teams every year, I would reduce this number, possibly all the way to zero.

In 2004, I now bet either one-loss Cal or one-loss Texas gets in over unbeaten Utah.
In 2009, I think one-loss Florida has a very good chance of getting the bid over unbeaten TCU or unbeaten Boise State.
In 2010, the odds of both one-loss Stanford and one-loss Wisconsin getting in over unbeaten TCU are decent.

The field broke the 2010 Horned Frogs’ way a little, and they had a track record — they were unbeaten in the 2009 regular season, too. That might have been enough to keep them above Andrew Luck’s Stanford and Russell Wilson’s Wisconsin, but it would’ve been really close.
How might we actually fix this?
The short answer is that we won’t. This sport’s decision-makers clearly don’t see a problem.
Even though the Group of 5 is basically the only group in the entire sport that doesn’t have a path toward a potential title (along with some lower-level conferences that elect to pass on tournaments), Hancock said the system is working as planned. Given a chance to add more diversity to the committee and give every FBS conference representation, they elected to do the bare minimum.
Such is life in a sport that created an unfair definition of “student athlete” six decades ago and still defends it.
But if we were to attempt to make this sport fair, I have four proposals. I addressed a lot of this in my 2017 commissioner platform.
A. Expand the CFP to eight teams
The most direct way is to expand the playoff and give the Group of 5 guaranteed representation. Don’t tell me that, with the way that each team played in their postseasons, an eighth-seeded UCF wouldn’t have had a chance against a top-seeded Clemson.
There is a moral argument against an FBS team playing a 16-game season. With the extra money and physical punishment, we should make progress on players profiting off of their likenesses and a student-athletes’ bill of rights first. The former would help assure money from a third playoff round doesn’t just go into coaches’ increasingly ridiculous salaries or more waterfalls in football offices. The latter would address the health risks of playing more.
Otherwise, an eight-teamer crosses every box. Knowing this sport, however, we’ll expand to an eight-teamer but refrain from a G5 provision.
B. Time for a scheduling czar?
For every other league with a huge-money regular season, schedules are made for the teams, not by the teams.
In college football, there is often a two- or three- (or more) year delay between when teams schedule non-conference games and when they play them. It is both ridiculous and inconvenient. Schools do it because it’s how things are done.
So maybe we take that power away? Maybe we legislate that everyone leave a non-conference slot open until the offseason prior? Perhaps that might lead to more relevant matchups? Should teams get to pick annual rivalries and otherwise take what they’re given? Or perhaps a scheduling czar just takes over everything?
C. BracketBuster Saturday
A central authority could take partial control with a BracketBuster Saturday idea.

Imagine this:
* Before the season, 64 of 128 teams are designated as Bracket Buster home teams, the other 64 as road teams. Home-road status will flip the next year.
* As part of your team’s schedule, there’s a national Bracket Buster Saturday event in November, just after the first Playoff rankings.
* Two weeks before Bracket Buster Saturday, computer rankings split the country into 16-team groups. The first group includes the top eight home teams and the top eight road teams. The second group follows.
* The draw is made: the top-ranked home team plays the eighth-ranked road team, Home No. 2 plays Home No. 7, etc.
* Of that Tier 1 group, one game’s on Bracket Buster weekend’s Thursday night, one on Friday, two during the Saturday early session, two on Saturday afternoon, and two on Saturday night.

What might this have done for 2017? If we imagine home-road designations are based on the alphabet — the first 65 teams play on the road, the bottom at home —then creating these pods with Week 9 S&P+ rankings would have resulted in matchups like the following (for context, Week 9 poll rankings are listed below):

No. 1 Alabama at No. 9 Notre Dame
No. 7 Clemson at No. 4 TCU
No. 3 Georgia at No. 18 UCF
No. 8 Miami at No. 11 Oklahoma State
No. 19 Auburn at No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 16 Michigan State at No. 12 Washington
No. 25 Iowa State at No. 21 USC
No. 23 LSU at No. 13 Virginia Tech
FAU at No. 20 Stanford

You think that might have added clarity to a four-team race?
If we don’t have the stomach for scheduling games midseason, we could use one year’s rankings to produce pairings for the next year. That wouldn’t help UCF, but it would add some recency to non-conference pairings.
D. Make FCS matchups a preseason thing.
FBS vs. FCS games are part of the circle of life. Since these games are one of the only ways for money to actually flow downward, I maintain that they are necessary. But they don’t have to be part of the regular season. What if everybody scheduled what amounts to a Week 0 preseason game?
This would be a way to maintain the circle of life, but also open up more FBS non-conference scheduling opportunities. And since some conferences have moved to nine-game conference slates, we could use some more such slots.
There’s no guarantee that a top P5 team would use that opening to schedule a G5 team, but it would make it more likely.

Any other ideas?
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Google is Calling Android 9.0 Update “Android Pi”

Richard Goodwin

18/01/2018 – 10:24am

2018’s big Android update will be Android 9, which will take over from Android Oreo. And Google’s already calling it Android Pi

Around this time of year, we start to look forward to the next big Android update. Normally, there is tons of speculation over what type of dessert the update will be called. But this year it appears as if a name has already been coined by Google.
Google is already referring to the update as Android Pi internally. Whether or not this sticks for when it is officially launched remains to be seen, as there are plenty of dessert-based options at its disposal – parfait, pumpkin, pistachio, peanut, pecan.
The name Android Pi was discovered in some recent notes found inside Google documents. The name Android Pi, at least for now, is what the next update will be called. Though it could well change, as we have seen in the past – Key Lime Pie turned out to be KitKat in the end.
Personally, I believe Google will change the name at launch. Something like Pop Tart makes sense. Or maybe Pecan or Peanut, if Google decides to go the healthier route. Both have more of a ring to it than Android Pi. Plus, it’d get rid of any confusion with the microPC brand, Raspberry Pi.
Android 9 Features
What can we expect from Android Pi (AKA Android 9)? Quite a bit as it goes. Expect to see it installed on plenty more Android phones than Oreo, thanks to the momentum of Google’s Project Treble.
There is also said to be more customisation options, improved widgets, full picture-in-picture support for every app, more feature parity, a renewed focus on tablets, and, if that wasn’t enough, the Pixel Launcher will be made available to all Android phones.
Android Pi will get a release during August 2018, with a launch happening at Google I/O 2018 a month or two before.
We’ll bring you more news as soon as we get it.

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Apple will let you disable battery slowdowns in iOS update… but it doesn’t recommend it

At the start of the year, Apple found itself in an unexpected media storm after reports emerged showing that performance on its iPhones was being capped as battery life reduced over time. Apple confirmed this, providing an explanation as to why, and offering low-cost battery replacement to its customers.
READ NEXT: How to get a £25 iPhone battery replacement in the UK
Apple has now pledged to go a step further still. If you don’t like the way your iPhone battery is slowing your phone down, you’ll soon be able to disable the feature altogether. But it’s not recommended – the feature is there for a reason, and that reason is to prevent you having a battery that constantly down tools for a breather. Still, if that’s the life you choose for your phone, then more power to you – literally.
The move was announced by CEO Tim Cook in an interview with ABC News. Cook told the news network that the update will roll out in a developer release next month before extending to the public at large. “We’re going to give people the visibility of the health of their battery so it’s very, very transparent,” he said. “This hasn’t been done before.”

The update promises to be more clear with users as to when their pocket pride and joy isn’t firing on all cylinders to prevent random shutdowns. And if you think you know better than Apple, then you can indeed step in with an ‘owner knows best’ strategy. “If you don’t want it, you can turn it off,” Cook said.
Again, this isn’t recommended. As Apple wrote in its clear the air letter: “It should go without saying that we think sudden, unexpected shutdowns are unacceptable. We don’t want any of our users to lose a call, miss taking a picture or have any other part of their iPhone experience interrupted if we can avoid it.” But if you find that preferable to throttled performance, then over to you, sport.
Given Apple is currently replacing batteries of affected devices at a discount, it might be a while before people actually start seeing battery warnings and using the feature. The company’s calculation is clearly that the impression of keeping the throttling secret was worse than the throttling itself – and it’s hard to argue with their working. When people see how annoying it is to have an unreliable device, they’ll likely re-enable the feature – but at least they’ll have been consulted this time around.

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Samsung: Galaxy Note 9 could get machine learning chip

Nice displays and quality cameras come standard in high-end smartphones, and now AI chips do, too. The latest rumors from South Korea indicate that Samsung will give the Galaxy Note 9 a specialized AI chip, a Neural Processing Unit (NPU). Is there truth any behind this rumor?

The Investor reports that Samsung is working on an AI chip for machine learning applications. According to the report, it will be teased at MWC during the presentation of the Galaxy S9, and Samsung will install the chip exclusively in the Galaxy Note 9, which is expected this fall.
Unfortunately, the report is full of peculiarities. A source with AI expertise talks about a Samsung insider saying that Samsung has almost finished developing an AI chip for servers. If this information is correct, then Samsung would compete directly with, Nvidia, for example, which builds chips for servers. We’re unaware of Samsung having any server products. For mobile though, Samsung has just now reached the point where Huawei and Apple stand, and that’s supposedly after about half a year of development. In terms of performance, the Samsung chip is already ahead of the competition.
The performance information in the Investor article is also problematic. The A11 chip found in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X can indeed perform around 600 billion operations per second, which is impressive. On the other hand, the Huawei AI chip, the Kirin 970, is known to perform 1.92 Teraflops when using 16-bit floating point numbers, but this isn’t directly comparable. Google’s AI chip, the Pixel Visual Core, isn’t mentioned in the report. It is known to perform 3 trillion operations per second, though it is not known which type is meant. A complete unknown is Qualcomm, because the chip developer relies on heterogeneous computing, which can distribute AI operations across the graphics chip and the signal processor.

Samsung Exynos 9810: Without an NPU? / © Samsung

Samsung officially announced the Exynos 9810 at CES but barely mentioned the Neural Processing Unit as a topic. It is conceivable that the S9 might appear without an NPU, while a new version of the SoC with the AI chip will be integrated in the Note 9.
Samsung is working with Korean engineers to push its AI ​​ambitions into chip form. In addition, the Investor reports that Samsung in promoting research projects in the field of AI.
Do you still have a smartphone without an AI chip built-in? Are you excited by AI? Discuss with us in the comments!

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The BecDot is a toy that helps teach vision-impaired kids to read braille

Learning braille is a skill that, like most, is best learned at an early age by those who need it. But toddlers with vision impairment often have few or no options to do so, leaving them behind their peers academically and socially. The BecDot is a toy created by parents facing that challenge that teaches kids braille in a fun, simple way, and is both robust and affordable.
Beth and Jake Lacourse’s daughter Rebecca (that’s her up top playing with the prototype) was born with Usher Syndrome, a common cause of blindness and deafness. After finding existing braille toys and teaching tools either too basic, too complex or too expensive, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Jake happens to have a background in product design, having worked for years at a company that creates simple, durable environmental sensors. But this was a unique challenge — how to make a toy that doubles as a braille teaching aid? Months later, however, he had created a prototype of a production device, albeit with a one-off 3D-printed case.
You can see it in action at the TechCrunch booth at CES here:

The BecDot has a colorfully lit surface on which toys equipped with NFC tags (programmed through an app) can be placed. Once the tag is detected, for instance on a toy cow, up to four braille letters appear, formed by lifted pegs: C-O-W. The device also can emit a sound uploaded by the parent or teacher.
It’s simple, yes — as toys should be for kids this age. Yet it affords blind and partially sighted kids the opportunity to learn the alphabet and identify short words at the same time and in much the same way as sighted children. And with the sounds, lights and the possibility of integration with books and lessons, kids will likely find it plenty of fun.
Here it’s worth noting that kids with disabilities often suffer doubly, first from simply not having the same senses or mobility as other kids, but secondly from the social isolation that results from not being able to interact with those kids as naturally as they interact with one another. This in turn causes them to fall further behind, isolating them further, and so on in a self-perpetuating cycle. This effect snowballs as time goes on, shrinking kids’ prospects of higher education and employment. We’re talking 70 percent unemployed here.
The BecDot and devices like it could help short-circuit that cycle, both allowing kids to connect with others and learn on their own through play.
One of the things holding back devices like this is the complexity and cost of braille displays. If you think what’s behind an LCD is complicated, imagine if every pixel needed to actually move up and down independently and withstand frequent handling. The braille equivalents of e-readers can cost thousands to display a sentence or two at a time — but of course kids don’t need that.
Unsatisfied with the available options, Jake decided to engineer his own. He created a simple Scotch yoke mechanism that can control up to three dots at a time, meaning two of them can create a braille letter. It’s all controlled by an Arduino Uno. Simple means cheap, and the other parts are far from expensive; he told me that his bill of materials right now is around $50, and he could probably get it below $30.
Such a low cost would make the BecDot highly attractive, I should think, for any school with vision-impaired students. And of course there’s nothing stopping sighted kids from playing with the gadget either, as I’m sure they will.
Right now the BecDot is only in prototype phase, but the Lacourses sounded optimistic during CES, when I met with them. They’d been selected for a reward and exhibition by Not Impossible, an organization that creates and advocates for tech in the humanitarian space. Jake tells me their time at the show exceeded his expectations, and that they got a chance to speak with people who can help both move the device toward market and advance the message he and Beth are trying to get out.
Toys like this (follow-up devices could have more letters or spaces for input) could help close the literacy and socialization gap that leads to many deaf and blind people being unemployed and dependent on others later in life. And having educational toys aimed at underserved, marginalized and at-risk populations seems obvious in retrospect. It’s a simple idea in some ways, but only made possible by a creative and innovative application of technology and, of course, love.

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The content sourced from: https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/18/the-becdot-is-a-toy-that-helps-teach-vision-impaired-kids-to-read-braille/?ncid=rss

Korg’s long-awaited new synth lets you program your own effects

Korg has announced the prologue, its new flagship analog synthesizer that comes with a full-sized keyboard and will be available in two models: the 16-voice 61-key prologue-16, and the eight-voice 49-key prologue-8.
There have been whispers about Korg’s forthcoming synth ever since the company’s VP said on a podcast last October that a new product was coming that “starts with P and contains eight letters.” The prologue is sort of a follow-up to Korg’s Minilogue and Monologue synths that were released in 2015 and 2016, respectively. And although it carries over the clean and accessible interface from this line, it’s entirely more powerful in what it can produce.
The prologue is powered by three different sound engines, which Korg says “expand prologue’s sonic potential far beyond that of a traditional analog synthesizer.” It gives incredible flexibility with audio creation via a VPM / FM oscillator for complex “metallic and sharp sounds,” a noise generator for percussion or sound effects, and a user oscillator section that is programmable, but comes with one morphing wavetable oscillator as a preset.
The prologue is polyphonic and has four different voice modes: mono (produces only one note at a time), unison (creates a thick sound by layering multiple notes and playing them as a single note), poly (play multiple notes at once), or chord (play chords with one finger). It is also a two-timbre synth, so users can layer and play two patches (sounds) at the same time, crossfade between the two, or split them entirely.

Image: Korg

Additionally, it comes with a powerful arpeggiator that has a range of four octaves, two digital effect units (modulation and delay / reverb), two envelope generators for adjusting the dynamics of the sound, one filter, and one LFO (used to modulate a sound for creating a rhythmic pulse or sweep). There are multiple ways to navigate through and organize the synth’s hundreds of patches, including the ability to mark your favorites, or see the ones you tend to use the most.
One of the things that’s most exciting about the Korg prologue is that it has a total of 32 free slots that allow for users to load in their own oscillators and effects. Korg says there is an upcoming software toolkit to be released in spring that will allow developers to “program, customize and extend the capabilities of the multi-engine and digital effects.”
You can preorder the Korg prologue-8 today for $1,499.99 and the prologue-16 for $1,999.99. Check out a number of sound demos from the prologue below, and for more information about the prologue’s specs, visit Korg’s website.

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Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/18/16905538/korg-prologue-polyphonic-synth-program-effects-namm