Saturday, 19 November 2016

Intel is reportedly backing away from wearables

When Intel bought Basis back in 2014, there were hopes the acquisition would push the wearables firm to the next level. Sadly, things didn't go that way -- the company's first Intel-backed product had a tendency to catch fire, and was subsequently pulled from the market earlier this year. Now, any hope for a bounce back has been all but extinguished: according to a report from TechCrunch, Intel's wearable division is facing massive layoffs. According to TechCrunch, sources close to the company say that Intel is planning to back away from the wearable space -- and will soon lay off staff in its New Devices Group.

 In addition to the layoff report, TechCrunch also managed to get a few pictures of the Basis Ruby, an unannounced fitness wearable that will now never see the light of day. The Ruby's product box shows a compact watch with sleep tracking and heart rate monitor features with some basic smartwatch functionality -- a Basis Peak in a smaller form. The Ruby was also set to usher in a new version of the Basis software. There's no word if that update is still coming for users of older products, but we'll let you know if we find out.

Mark Zuckerberg explains how Facebook is fighting fake news

Ever since the end of the presidential election, the spread of rumors, misinformation and outright fake news on social media has been in the spotlight. With even President Obama speaking out about social media's role in pushing propaganda, and some coders taking matters into their own hands with browser extensions, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted tonight about what his company is doing. According to Zuckerberg, "We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties." Last week, Zuck's line was that over 99 percent of content on Facebook is authentic. Now, he still maintains that there is only a "small" amount of misinformation, but outlines seven points describing programs the company is implementing in response. That includes plans we'd previously heard about to cut off income for fake news sites from its advertising program, and making it easier to report fake news stories when they pop up. Another point that seems easy to implement is raising the bar for posts that pop up in "related stories." The last point listed says Zuckerberg will be listening to journalists about best practices for fact checking, which is good, because we have ideas.

24 hours with Sony's A99 II full-frame DSLR

With high-end mirrorless cameras such as the A7S II and A7R II, it's easy to forget that Sony also makes full-frame DSLRs. Its latest one, the A99 II, is set to arrive later this month for $3,200 body-only. That gets you a massive 42.2-megapixel sensor, max ISO of 102,400, 12-fps continuous shooting and, for the first time, in-camera image stabilization. While I've only been using it for a day or so, I can tell you the camera shows a lot of promise -- which isn't surprising given its sensor type and how much it costs.
As you'd imagine, it helps to have it paired with expensive lenses, like Sony's 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G2 ($2,200) and 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II ($3,000), among others. What impressed me the most about the A99 II is its autofocusing speed, which makes use of a hybrid 4D Focus with a wide area of coverage (79 phase detection points and 399 focal-plane). In theory, that technology is also supposed to make the camera's AF more accurate, especially when you're trying to capture moving subjects. So far, that's been working out well for me. I'll have more on the A99 II soon. In the meantime, check out my sample images from Sony's new flagship DSLR.