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Items filtered by date: Thursday, 10 August 2017

Samsung's on a streak of not copying the iPhone, with original features like curved edges and iris scanners actually outpacing innovation at Apple. But that could end with its upcoming Galaxy Note 8.

A new report from The Investor claims the Korean electronic giant's follow-up to last year's disastrous Note 7 will come with a pressure-sensitive screen. The screen technology is said to be similar to the iPhone's display, which has supported 3D Touch since the iPhone 6S launched in 2015.

The new display, which is able to detect how hard you press it, will be used to "replace all the functionality of a home button and open a hidden menu with shortcuts to different features."

It's unclear if the new screen will replace the thin pressure-sensitive area that only covers the bottom portion of the Galaxy S8's display. But it's better late than never since Android Nougat already supports the special displays.

Copying the iPhone's pressure-sensitive screen isn't even the worst part. The report also says Samsung's going to call it ... 3D touch. Oh boy, do you hear that? That's Apple's big scary lawyers getting ready to leap out from behind their desks and run straight to Samsung HQ.

Samsung will have to face the laughs of a billion Apple fanboys for being so unoriginal, but there might not even be a courtroom battle between the two tech titans.

Eagle-eyed readers will recall that Huawei's Mate S, the world's first Android phone to copy the iPhone and sport a pressure-sensitive display, also called its technology 3D touch (with a lowercase "t"). If Huawei can get away with the name, perhaps Samsung could, too.

Despite initial excitement, 3D Touch hasn't exactly become a must-use feature on iPhone. Apple has yet to announce a compelling feature that makes use of it. A long-press works just the same on iOS and Android devices that don't have pressure-sensitive screens.

There's not much else we don't already know about the Note 8. We know that it'll be announced on Aug. 23 and The Investor claims it'll launch on Sept. 15, which matches reports that the phone would launch in mid-September to beat the Apple's iPhone 8.

Several comprehensive leaks suggest the Note 8 will be a pricey beast of a phone. It'll reportedly come with a 6.3-inch display, Snapdragon 835 chip, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, dual cameras that might offer even better optical zoom than the iPhone 7 Plus, and an S Pen with enhanced stylus features.

The one thing that won't get a significant improvement is battery life. Samsung's reportedly going with a 3,300 mAh battery, which is smaller than the S8+'s 3,500 mAh battery. It'd also be smaller than the Note 7's battery, which has the same capacity as the S8+.

The smaller battery might turn some Samsung fans off, but there probably isn't much to worry about. Battery capacity and longevity aren't always directly related. Software optimizations and power efficiencies from the chipset can make up for a smaller battery. Just look at the iPhone; iOS and Apple's custom A-series chips allow it to last just as long or longer than Android phones with bigger batteries.

Whatever Samsung announces later this month, it's sure to attract the world's attention. The company will no doubt boast about the phone's myriad new features, but all it really needs to do is make sure there aren't any explosions again. If the safe S8's anything to go by, then Samsung should be in good shape with the Note 8.


Credit: mashable.com

Published in Telecoms

There is a rush by President Robert Mugabe’s lieutenants to salvage his legacy, and the latest ploy in that race – a university named after him – may cost the taxpayer at least $1 billion.

Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo announced on Wednesday that the Robert Gabriel Mugabe University is to be built in Mazowe, where Mugabe and his wife, Grace, already run an exclusive private school, an orphanage, a large estate and a dairy.

Education has always been seen as one of the early successes of the Mugabe administration. However, over the last 20 years, he has rolled back what success he had achieved in education, as school dropout numbers soared and the quality of education collapsed.

Now, amid a scramble by his officials for a place at Mugabe’s feet, Government has promised $1 billion in taxpayer funds to please Mugabe and cheer the First Lady in her dream to build an empire in the Mazowe valley.

While few will argue against a new university, it is the cost of the proposed university, and how it will be funded, that is raising controversy. “Cabinet has approved a grant of $800m towards the construction of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe University, and a grant of $200m towards the establishment of the University’s Endowment Fund for Research and Innovation,” Moyo announced in a statement.

There is no detail as to how this money will be raised. To put the size of the grant in context; at $1 billion, the grant would take up a quarter of the nation’s entire annual budget. The Government would be spending more on a single university than the $800 million that it allocated for primary and secondary education this year.

The $1billion grant would leave the heads of other state universities scratching their heads. The figure is about a thousand times more than what Lupane University gets in fees. “My enrolment is only 2 500 students and with payments of $500 per student per semester, it is almost impossible to operate a university with a gross figure of

$1,2 million that we get per year,” Lupane University chancellor Pardon Kuipa told MPs earlier this year.

Government is already struggling to fund construction of planned new universities. This year, Treasury disbursed $45 000 for Gwanda State University, $45 000 for Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences, and just $25 000 for Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology.

These are funds enough to build a basic rural classroom block, but nowhere enough for a modern university. The $200m grant pledged towards the Robert Gabriel Mugabe University’s “Endowment Fund for Research and Innovation” matches the entire $200m budget allocation for the Ministry of Higher Education. There is not much research the Ministry will support with that allocation, as $172.5 million of it will go to salaries.

What makes the grant even more surprising is that Government has been sweeping corners and lifting sofa cushions searching for coins to refurbish decaying colleges. The Government has leaned on banks such as CBZ and IDBZ to float bonds and help source cash to build student hostels and other infrastructure.

An 18-page, 3000-word “incubation plan” for the new university lays out grand plans but provides no concrete strategies on funding, beyond the grant. What it does, however, is reveal how Government is prepared to spend a billion of tax dollars to fund what is really a private university.

“In order to ensure that President R.G. Mugabe’s legacy is preserved and passed on to future generations, the international R.G. Mugabe University will have a Responsible Authority under the auspices of the Robert Mugabe Foundation whose Founding Trustees are His Excellency President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the First Lady, Amai Dr Grace Mugabe,” the document says.

In real terms, the President is paying himself a billion from state coffers to run a private university. The college will lead in the “industrialisation and modernisation of the country”, the document says. “RGMU” will have a capacity of at least 15 000 students. A Finance and Revenue Working Group will be set up to “explore potential for the state to provide funding for construction costs”. The group will also “determine financial resources that might be sourced from potential friends of the R.G. Mugabe University”.

The working group has until the end of the year to come up with “fundraising strategies required for start-up and (the) first 10 years of operation of the new University”. The college will “create comfortable, attractive, and stimulating environments that support collaboration and diverse learning styles and opportunities”. According to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in this budget, poor funding of the education operations and capital budgets, “meant that challenges remain outstanding with regards to improving access and quality of education on account of inadequate infrastructure, shortage of teaching and learning materials”.

Government cannot pay salaries, is begging for an arrears clearance plan on the $1.4 billion it owes to the World Bank and AfDB, has a $1.4 billion deficit, can’t support the 24 000 graduates that leave college each year, and cannot provide basic healthcare.

Yet, somehow, it has found a spare billion dollars to try salvage Mugabe’s legacy, and to bring the First Lady’s grand schemes in Mazowe to life. This is the sort of economic management that they don’t teach at conventional universities.


This article was originally published on The Source



Published in Opinion & Analysis

Oil futures rose on Thursday after official figures showing U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected, but the market is clearly settling into a range amid quiet trading, analysts said.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $52.88 at around 0617 GMT, after falling slightly earlier. It closed up 1.1 percent on Wednesday, snapping two days of declines.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 16 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $49.72, after declining earlier. The contract gained 0.8 percent in the previous session. "Broadly I think the market is trading sideways at the moment," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

U.S. crude stockpiles fell last week as refineries boosted output to the highest percentage of capacity in 12 years, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. U.S. oil inventories dropped by 6.5 million barrels last week, the government data showed, steeper than the expected decrease of 2.7 million barrels.

"It does create the hope that we are going to end the summer driving season with inventories below the year before, which would be a positive development," Spooner said. Refiners processed nearly 17.6 million barrels of crude, surpassing a record set in May and the most for any week since the U.S. Department of Energy started keeping data in 1982.

But a surprise increase in gasoline stocks is capping gains in oil prices and tempering attempts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Russia and other producers to boost prices that are about half of levels three years ago. "All the crude that was drawn was basically run through the refineries and this resulted in a gasoline build of 3.4 million barrels," said Matt Stanley, a commodities broker at Freight Investor Services in Dubai.

"The minute OPEC try and raise prices by cutting production the U.S. producers will react accordingly to fill the void. This results in a tug of war that we have witnessed all year and the final outcome is a rangebound market," he added.

They are cutting output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) under an agreement set to run until March 2018. The deal has supported prices but a recovery in output in Libya and Nigeria, OPEC members exempt from the cut, has also complicated the initiative.


Published in World

South Africa's Jacob Zuma, will preside over the launch of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) on 17 August 2017. The President will be joined by the President of the NDB, Mr Kundapur Vaman Kamath, cabinet ministers, NDB executives and other dignitaries.

BRICS countries signed the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank at the Sixth BRICS Summit in July 2014 in Brazil, and the Seventh BRICS Summit marked the entry into force of the Agreement on the New Development Bank. The NDB headquarters were officially opened in Shanghai, China in February 2016.

Another key resolution taken at the Summit was to establish regional offices that would perform the important function of identifying and preparing proposals for viable projects that the Bank could fund in the respective regions.

The first of its kind would be set up in Johannesburg, South Africa. The launch of the African Regional Centre will showcase the NDB's service offering, highlighting the Bank's potential role in the area of infrastructure and sustainable development in emerging and developing countries.

Published in Bank & Finance

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