Samsung accidentally leaks the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3

Galaxy Z Fold and Flip 3

Samsung is hosting its annual Galaxy Unpacked event on August 11. In the weeks leading up to the event, the company already confirmed what was coming: a new slate of foldables and no Galaxy Note. Amid the company’s confirmations, a slew of leaks has revealed a lot of details already. And, less than two days before the event itself, Samsung has accidentally leaked ads for the upcoming Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Samsung Malaysia accidentally posted a 30-second ad on YouTube for the foldable, presenting them in detail with their touted features. The YouTube account has since deleted the ad but not before Reddit captured the video.

The video starts by displaying the Galaxy Z Flip 3’s bigger cover screen, allowing users to see much more of their notifications even without flipping the device on. It then moves on to the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s S Pen experience, confirming that the series will get a much more optimized S Pen. Finally, the video touts the series’ increased durability, a persistent problem since the form factor’s introduction.

Of course, these are all details that were hinted at in the past. The leaked video hasn’t really revealed anything new about the series. However, it does show the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 in all their glory. Plus, it confirms formerly rumored details.

Scientist Invents Toilet That Turns Human Feces Into Cryptocurrency

“IF WE THINK OUT OF THE BOX, FECES HAS PRECIOUS VALUE TO MAKE ENERGY AND MANURE.”

Toilet Generator

A researcher at a university in South Korea has devised a toilet that turns human waste into power, Reuters reports. As a bonus incentive, each use rewards, uh, poopers with a small amount of digital currency that they can trade in for a coffee or a cup of noodles on campus.

The toilet first pumps your excrement into an underground tank, which means it uses less water right off the bat when compared to a traditional toilet. Microorganisms then break down the waste into methane, a usable source of energy.

In short, it’s a delightful new method of turning sewage into power.

Making Manure

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” inventor Cho Jae-weon, an urban and environmental engineering professor at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), told Reuters. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet could turn roughly a pound of solid human waste, the average amount a human poops in a day, into an impressive 50 liters of methane gas, according to Cho. That means it can generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to drive an electric car for three quarters of a mile.

And because its 2021 — a day and age in which nothing is safe from the world of cryptocurrencies — Cho came up with a virtual currency called Ggool, or “honey” in Korean. Every use of the toilet scores you 10 Ggool per day, which can be used to buy stuff on the university’s campus.

“I had only ever thought that feces are dirty, but now it is a treasure of great value to me,” a postgraduate student Heo Hui-jin who’s both earned and spent Ggool, told Reuters. “I even talk about feces during mealtimes to think about buying any book I want.”

Nokia is reviving the Nokia 3650

Another year, another classic Nokia phone resurrected from the grave. Since its revival, Nokia, helmed by HMD Global, has slowly revived its lineup of classic phones. The new lineup is a perfect match for the nostalgia and the budget-conscious market. According to a new report, Nokia is reviving another classic, the Nokia 3650.

Classic Nokia 3650

According to a Russian source, the company will modernize the brick phone for the new generation. Given how it looked, this comes as no surprise.

Back in its day, the classic brick phone presented a controversial form factor for the industry. Instead of the iconic numpad, it had a circular keyboard reminiscent of the old rotary phones. If you had a brick phone, you should have muscle memory of texting with a numpad without looking. Because of its weirder format, the Nokia 3650 is harder to memorize.

In 2003, the Nokia 3650 had a rare rear-mounted camera, albeit a VGA one. With a redesign on the horizon, Nokia can definitely make the brick phone more adaptable to the modern market.

However, since it’s only a rumor, we don’t know when the modern Nokia 3650 is coming out. If anything, a new classic Nokia phone is something to look out for this year.

Announcing the GitHub integration with Microsoft Teams

Developers use GitHub together with a number of other platforms, to communicate with each other on issues, pull requests, deployment statuses, and other updates. We want to integrate GitHub with other platforms to make it easier for developers and teams to collaborate around their projects from whatever context they work in. We’ve had a GitHub + Slack integration for years, and today we are excited to announce that we’re expanding our portfolio, with a new GitHub + Microsoft Teams integration, now available in public beta.

To get access to this new integration, head over to the Microsoft Teams app store and install GitHub (Preview), or directly install from here.

Getting started

There’s a lot to be excited about with this integration, including the ability to close/reopen issues and comment on issues/pull requests right in Teams. But, first things first, you’ll want to link your GitHub and Teams accounts. To link your accounts, authenticate to GitHub using a @github signin command.

Let’s see what else you can do with this integration!

Customizing your experience

Get notifications for only the organizations and repositories you care about. You can subscribe to get notifications for an organization or repository’s activity using the @github subscribe [organization]/[repository] command. To unsubscribe to notifications from a repository, use  @github unsubscribe [organization]/[repository]

Viewing current details

Your team can see all the essentials details on a GitHub activity posted in a Microsoft Teams channel. The notification card you see for any pull request or issue always reflects the current state from GitHub along with other metadata like checks, descriptions, labels, assignees, and reviewers.

Turning conversations into actions

Any new event that happens on a pull request or issue (like comment/review/close/merge etc.) is added as a reply to the parent card. This helps in retaining the context and promotes collaboration. And you can turn discussions into actions on GitHub, directly from Teams. You can perform actions like:

  • Open a new issue
  • Close and reopen existing issues
  • Comment on issues and pull requests

When you share links to GitHub activities in the channel, more details are automatically extracted and shown as a preview in your Teams channel. Check it out:

Staying in touch

We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback on the new integration. Please share any feedback you might have here. For more information, visit teams.github.com and/or our product documentation page today.

Happy collaborating!

Microsoft’s Visual Studio Online code editor is now Visual Studio Codespaces and gets a price drop

Image Credits: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

About a year ago, Microsoft  launched Visual Studio Online, its online code editor based on the popular Visual Studio Code project. It’s basically a full code editor and hosted environment that lives in your browser.

Today, the company announced that it is changing the name of this service to Visual Studio Codespaces. It’s also dropping the price of the service by more than 50% and it’s giving developers the option to run it on relatively low-performance virtual machines that will start at $0.08 per hour.

In today’s announcement, Microsoft’s Scott Hanselman points out that the company learned that most developers who used Visual Studio Online thought of it as being much more than simply an editor in the browser.

“To better align with that sentiment, and the true value of the service, we’re renaming Visual Studio Online to Visual Studio Codespaces. (It’s true what they say, naming is hard!) Do you want a great experience working on your long-term project? Do it in a Codespace. Need to quickly prototype a new feature or perform some short-term tasks (like reviewing pull requests)? Create a Codespace! Your Codespaces are simply the most productive place to code.”

The new pricing will go into effect on May 19, the first day of Microsoft’s (virtual) Build developer conference. These are pretty significant price drops, down from $0.45 per hour to $0.17 for a machine with 4 cores and 8 GB of memory, for example (you also incur some relatively minor storage costs of $0.0088 for using a 64 GB SDD, too).

Hanselman also points out that a lot of developers don’t need quite that much power, so the company is now introducing a Basic plan with a 2-core machine and 4 GB of RAM for $0.08 per hour. Best I can tell, these will go live for around $0.24 per hour today and then see a price cut on May 19, too. Why not launch it at the reduced price? Only Microsoft knows, so we asked and will update this post once they tell us.

Typically, this is the kind of announcement Microsoft would make at its annual Build developer conference. And while some other companies have decided to fully scrap their events and aren’t even hosting a virtual conference, Microsoft is moving full steam ahead with its Build conference in the middle of May. I expect we’ll hear more about how that event will play out in the near future.

New Release

Facebook launches drop-in video chat Rooms to rival Houseparty

MessengerRooms_50PeopleView

Facebook  is co-opting some of the top video chat innovations like Zoom’s gallery view for large groups and Houseparty’s spontaneous hangouts for a new feature called Rooms. It could usher in a new era of unplanned togetherness via video.

Launching today on mobile and desktop in English speaking countries, you can start a video chat Room that friends can discover via a new section above the News Feed or notifications Facebook will automatically send to your closest pals. You can also just invite specific friends, or share a link anyone can use to join your Room.

For now, up to 8 people can join, but that limit will rise to 50 within weeks, making it a more legitimate alternative to Zoom for big happy hours and such. And more importantly, users will soon be able to create and discover Rooms through Instagram,  WhatsApp, and Portal, plus join them from the web without an account, making this Facebook’s first truly interoperable product.

“People just want to spend more time together” Facebook’s head of Messenger Stan Chudnovsky tells me. One-on-one and group video calling was already growing, but “Now in the time of COVID, the whole thing is exploding. We already had a plan to do a bunch of stuff here [so people could] hang out on video any time they want, but we accelerated our plans.” There’s no plans for ads or other direct monetization of Rooms, but the feature could keep Facebook’s products central to people’s lives.

Choosing to create a separate and extremely prominent space for discovering Room above the News Feed reveals how seriously Facebook is taking this product. It could have marooned Rooms in a standalone app or made them just another News Feed post that’s timeliness would get lost in the algorithm. Instead, it was willing to push the feed almost entirely off the start screen beneath the composer, Rooms, and Stories. Clearly Facebook sees sharing, ephemeral content, and synchronous connection as more key to its future than static status updates.

Facebook Goes All-In On Video

The launch of Rooms comes alongside a slew other video-related updates designed to shore up Facebook’s deficiency in many-to-many communication. Messenger and WhatsApp now see 700 million people using audio and video calls each day, while Facebook and Instagram Live videos now reach 800 million people per day. Facebook already owns the many-to-one feeds and has emerged as a leader in one-to-many livestreaming, but “the middle piece needed way more investment” Chudnovsky says.

Here’s a rundown of the other announcements and what they mean:

  • Virtual And 360 Backgrounds with mood lighting – Facebook will soon launch the ability to choose a virtual background to cover up what’s behind you on a video call, including 360 backgrounds that look different as you move around, plus mood lighting to make you look better on camera
  • WhatsApp expands group calls from four to eight max participants – Encompassing larger families and friend groups makes WhatsApp a more viable competitor to Zoom
  • Facebook Live With returns – It’s tough to be the center of attention for long periods, so being able to bring a guest on screen during Live calls keeps them interesting and low pressure
  • Donate button on live videos – This makes it much easier for musicians, activists, and normal people to raise money for causes during the coronavirus crisis
  • Live via audio only – With more musicians bringing their tours to Facebook Live, now you can listen while still going about your day when you can’t watch too or want to conserve data, and you can use a toll-free number to dial in to some Pages’ videos
  • Instagram Live on web – You can now watch Live videos and comment from desktop so you can multi-task during longer streams
  • Live on IGTV – Long live videos won’t have to disappear since they can now be saved to IGTV, encouraging higher quality Instagram Lives meant to last
  • Portal Live – You’ll now be able to go Live to Pages and Groups from Portal devices so you can move around while streaming
  • Facebook Dating Video Chat – Rather than going on a date where you have no chemistry, you’ll be able to video chat with matches on Facebook Dating to get a feel for someone first.

How To Use Facebook Rooms

Facebook strived to make Rooms launchable and discoverable across all its apps in hopes of blitzing into the space. You can launch a Room from the News Feed composer, Groups, Events, the Messenger inbox, and soon Instagram Direct’s video chat button, WhatsApp,  and Portal. You’ll be able to choose a start time, add a description, and choose who can join in three ways.

You can restrict your Room just to people you invite, such as for a family catch-up. You can make it open to all your friends, who’ll be able to see it in the new Rooms discovery tray above the News Feed or inbox and eventually similar surfaces in the other apps. In this case, Facebook may notify some close friends to make sure they’ll see it. Or you can share a link to your Room wherever you want, effectively making it public.

Facebook apparently watched the PR disaster that emerged from Zoombombing, and purposefully built security into Rooms. The host can lock the room to block people from joining via URL, and if they boot someone from a Room, it automatically locks until they unlock it. That ensures that if trolls find your link, they can’t just keep joining from the web.

Naturally, Chudnovsky tried to downplay the influence of Zoom and Houseparty on Rooms. “We’re glad there are many other apps people can use when they want to see each other and stay close to each other. I don’t think we necessarily learned anything that actually became part of this product” he insisted. It’s also convenient that Rooms is essentially a non-exclusive video version of Clubhouse, the voice chat app that’s the talk of Silicon Valley right now

The Uncopyable Copier

Facebook has been quietly working on Rooms since at least 2017, exploring how to make group chats discoverable. It tried a standalone app for group video chat discovery called Bonfire that year. In fact, Facebook launched a standalone app called Rooms back in 2014 for anonymous forums.

The genius of this launch is how it combines three of Facebook’s biggest strengths to build a product that copies others but is hard to copy itself.

  • The ubiquity of its messaging apps and web compatibility make Rooms highly accessible, without the friction of having to download a new app.
  • The frequency of visits to its feeds and inboxes where Rooms can be found by the family of apps’ 2.5 billion users plus Facebook’s willingness to bet big by sticking Rooms atop our screen like it did with Stories could unlock a new era of spontaneous, serendipitous socializing.
  • The social graph we’ve developed with great breadth across Facebook’s apps plus the depth of its understanding about who we care about most allow it to reach enough concurrent users to make Rooms fun by intelligently ranking which we see and who gets notifications to join rather than spamming your whole phone book.

No other app has all of these qualities. Zoom doesn’t know who you care about. Houseparty is growing but is far from ubiquitous. Messaging competitors don’t have the same discovery surfaces.

Facebook knows the real engagement on mobile comes from messaging. It just needed a way to make us message more than our one-on-one threads and asynchronous group chats demanded. Rooms makes video calls something you can passively discover and join rather having to actively initiate or be explicitly pulled into by a friend. That could significantly increase how often and long we use Facebook without the deleterious impacts of zombie-like asocial feed scrolling.

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How to transfer all your Facebook photos and videos to Google Photos

You have probably uploaded tons of photos and videos on Facebook, and you probably have forgotten most of them until they show up as Memories. But what if you want to download all those content and store them on a free cloud storage platform like Google Photos for safekeeping? Let us show you how.

The method can be done via the web browser or from the app. But for this guide, we’re going to use the former.

Step 1: Log in to your Facebook account and go to Settings.

Step 2: Click on the ‘Your Facebook Information’ tab on the left.

Step 3: Look for ‘Transfer a Copy of Your Photos or Videos’ then click on ‘View.’

Step 4: Enter your password to continue.

Step 5: Choose a destination where a copy of your photos or videos will be transferred to. In this case, click on Google Photos.

Step 6: Choose to transfer a copy of either your photos or videos you’ve uploaded to Facebook. After selecting, click on ‘Next.’

Step 7: Log in to your Google account and give Facebook access.

Step 8: Confirm transfer.

At this point, Facebook will proceed with uploading a copy of your photos or videos to your Google Photos. The photos are organized based on the name of the albums you have on Facebook. The transfer time might take a while depending on how much photos or videos are being transferred, so check back on this later.

You can also choose to stop the transfer. Take note that it will not pause the transfer so if ever you want to resume, you’ll have to start all over again.

And that’s it. We hope that you find this guide helpful. If you have tips or recommendations, let us know in the comments below.

How to grab a web page’s data with Google Sheets

Holy sheet: Here’s how to grab a web page’s data with Google Sheets

Scraping data is all the rage nowadays. But what many don’t know is that you don’t need to be a fancy hacker to be able to collect data from websites. In fact, you don’t even need any coding skills.

A multitude of tools such as browser extensions exist to alleviate the required technical knowledge. But even if that’s one hurdle too far for you, do not worry. Google will come to the rescue. Google Sheets to be precise.

It has a nifty little formula which allows you to grab a web page’s list or table of data into your sheet of choice. It’s called importhtml, and it works as follows:

Find a website you want to pull data from

As an example, let’s go for the List of largest technology companies by revenue Wikipedia page.

Identify a table or list you want to grab

In this case, let’s go for the second table on the page, in the ‘2019 list’ section.

Now, type the following into a cell of choice, let’s say A1

=IMPORTHTML(“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_technology_companies_by_revenue”, “table”, 2)

As you can see, you’ll have to declare three things in the formula: The url you want to grab data from, the type of data (either table or list), and the position (in this case the second table, so 2).

Hit enter, and voilà, the table appears in your sheet:

To go next level, and actually transform or clean that data, make sure that it becomes static instead of linked data first. To do so, select the table, right mouse click on cell A1, ‘Paste special’ > ‘Paste values only’.

So there you go, have fun playing with data in Google Sheets!

Spotify adds fundraising features and a COVID-19 news hub to address the health crisis

S4A_BLOGSPOT_HEADER

Spotify this morning announced a series of new initiatives to address the COVID-19 health crisis across its platform. The company is launching a financial relief effort for those in the creative community who have been heavily impacted by the virus, which includes the addition of a public donations feature on its website. The company is also working to add a new feature that will allow artists to fundraise directly from their fans via their Spotify artist profile pages. Meanwhile, for listeners, Spotify is adding a COVID-19 news and information hub in its app to help keep users informed.

The new Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief Project will recommend verified organizations that are offering financial relief to those in the music community who are in need, worldwide. At launch, Spotify is partnering with MusiCares, PRS Foundation, and Help Musicians, and says it’s planning to add more partners in time.

The company says it will also match dollar-for-dollar the public donations made through the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief page up to a total contribution of $10 million. Industry professionals in need of financial assistance will go to the partners’ sites for information to apply for relief funds.

“While streaming still gives artists a way to connect with their fans, so many other sources of revenue have been put on hold by this crisis,” notes the company on the Relief project’s page. “To play our part, we’re working with a growing list of organizations offering financial relief to creators around the world to find ways to support our community,” it says.

And though not yet launched, Spotify says it’s working to add a new fundraising feature for artists that will allow them to drive their fans to a fundraising destination of their own choice. This would allow artists to directly fundraise for other artists in need or another separate initiative of their own choosing. This feature will be optional for the artists to use and no changes to their profile pages will occur unless the artist wants to participate. And unlike the fundraising efforts on other sites, Spotify says it won’t take a cut of the funds.

Of course, offering personal fundraisers in a time of crisis can also be problematic, as there are a number of scammers now trying to capitalize on crisis with fake fundraisers. Artists, like anyone else, could fall for these scams and then rally their fans towards the cause — potentially redirecting money away from true relief organizations at a time when it’s critical.

This is worsened by the fact that personal fundraisers generally need vetting to ensure they in and of themselves aren’t scams or engaging in some kind of fraud. Even Facebook, operating at the scale it does, is warning users that it currently has fewer people on staff to review personal fundraisers due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It says fundraisers may not even be able to be reviewed at all and if they are, they’ll take longer than usual. And yet Spotify is readily the rollout of fundraisers at this time when staffing reductions and disruptions to schedules are in place. The staff works from home. But COVID-19 has disrupted every business and no entity is immune from that.)

In addition, Spotify is adding a new feature to connect listeners with news and information about COVID-19. Through a new in-app hub, the company is pointing users to news and podcasts from the media, including ABC News, BBC World Service, CNN, Foreign Policy, and NPR.

And, like most companies, Spotify is also offering advertising space to governments and nonprofits for health information and PSAs.

The new COVID-19 Music Relief Project and COVID-19 hub are live today. Artists fundraisers are in the works.

IBM and The Weather Channel launch detailed local COVID-19 maps and data tracking

IBM+Cognos+Analytics+Dashboard_County+Level_2

There are already a number of resources available for mapping the spread of confirmed COVID-19 cases both in the U.S. and globally, but IBM  and its subsidiary The Weather Company  have launched new tools that bring COVID-19 mapping and analysis to more people via their Weather Channel mobile app and weather.com.

Existing tools are useful, but come from fairly specialized sources including the World Health Organization (WHO) and Johns Hopkins University. This new initiative combines data fro these same sources, including global confirmed reported COVID-19 cases, as well as reported data from sources at both the state and county level. This is collected on a so-called “incident map” that displays color-coded reported case data for states and counties, as well as on state-wide trend graphs and through reporting of stats including relative percentage increase of cases week-over-week.

On top of these sections built into the core, consumer-facing Weather.com products, IBM has also launched a more in-depth analytics reporting dashboard, providing views of global reported COVID-19 cases, as well as rate of spread based on available data, county-by-county stats and more.

This information from IBM, which runs on its Watson  and Cognos Analytics tools, are intended for use by both researchers and public officials – but they’re also meant for general public consumption. IBM is also providing resources including fact-checking resources and practical guidance for both COVID-19 patients and the general public, to help not only inform people about the spread of the virus, but also the steps they can take to protect themselves and others.

One of the key elements of COVID-19 mitigation is making sure that the average American has access to reliable and accurate information, including the most up-to-date guidelines about social distancing and isolation from trusted experts, including the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC). That makes this a key resource in the ongoing efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, since it resides in an app that is among the most popular pieces of software available for smartphones. There are around 45 million or so monthly active users of the Weather Channel app, which means that this information will now be readily accessible by a large percentage of the U.S. population.