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Nintendo Finds Early Success With Switch

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It might be early days for the Switch, but so far the curious hybrid of tablet and console shows success-- so much so the Wall Street Journal reports Nintendo needs to double planned production in order to meet demand.

Nintendo switchThe Japanese company was supposedly going to make 8 million Switch units in fiscal 2017 (starting in April), but higher-than-expected sales have lead to a doubling of the figure to 16 million, unnamed supply chain sources claim. The WSJ adds the widely praised Zelda game sold 1.5m units in its first week, and sales for March 2017 can total up to 2.5m.

Such reports follow tweets by New York Times journalist Nick Wingfield, who says the Switch was the fastest selling Nintendo machine in the Americas, with launch title Zelda: Breath of the Wild as best selling standalone launch title.

Meet Bixby, the Samsung Voice Assistant

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Samsung presents what it claims is a "new way to interact with your phone"-- Bixby, its take on the voice assistant likes of Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant.

Samsung GalaxyThe result of the acquisition of Viv, an AI specialist founded by the creators of Siri, Bixby promises to be superior to the competition through 3 specific properties. These are completeness (it can handle "almost" any task one can do using the touchscreen), context awareness (Bixby-enabled apps can summon Bixby at any time, and the assistant carries out tasks specific to the app) and cognitive tolerance (it understands commands with incomplete information, and prompts users to tell it more if necessary).

Bixby will also find use beyond smartphones, since Samsung plans to put it a wide variety of connected devices, including appliances, TV remotes and wearables. In fact, the company states Bixby can work on just about anything with an internet connection and a microphone. Uniting all Bixby-enabled offerings is a dedicated hardware button, which Samsung claims eliminates the "confusion around activating a voice interface."

A "Flow" Battery Powers and Cools Chips

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Scientists at ETH Zurich and IBM Research Zurich build what they call a tiny "redox flow" battery-- a battery able to simultaneously power and cool chips, especially those stacked on top of each other, pancake-style.

liquid batteryA flow battery creates electricity through the electrochemical reaction of two liquid electrolytes. A closed electrolyte loop pumps the two liquids into the battery cell from outside, and the liquids also serve as a cooling medium, dissipating excess heat from the chip stack via the same circuit.

Kantar Worldpanel: Life in a Two-OS World

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According to Kantar Worldpanel the days of a BlackBerry OS, Symbian or Windows Phone making "significant" impact are over, since the mobile industry is all but dominated by iOS-Android duopoly.

Kantar mobileThe biggest 5 European markets (Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain) are dominated by Android-- the Google OS accounts for 74.3% of smartphone sales in the quarter ending January 2017, a "marginal" increase over the 72.9% of the same period in the previous year. In the meantime iOS holds 22.7%, with the iPhone 7 remaining the top-selling device in Great Britain, France and Germany.

Kantar points out Nokia as a potential success story in the region, as brand owner HMD Global is focusing on quality for cost with well made mid-tier devices. Such smartphones will not rival the iPhone 7 or the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8, but do compete with the likes of the Huawei 8 and P9 Lite, both strong sellers in the price-conscious Italian and Spanish markets.

How to Protect Your USB Ports

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Customers worried about BadUSB, the malware able to maliciously reprogram USB chips? Developer Robert Fisk has a hardware solution with the USG, a "firewall for your USB ports."

USG BadUSB is a sinister piece of malware able to bypass the OS, antivirus software and other security measures. It can attack by hopping into PCs through the USB port, for example via USB sticks supplied by customers or colleagues. This lead to Fisk working on a hardware solution for access to untrusted USB devices, without need for a USB condom or disabling USB ports.

The USG is plug and play, and is compatible with many devices with a USB port, be it modern Windows, Mac OS and Linux machines or legacy and embedded systems. It supports mass storage (flash drives), keyboards and mice, but cannot handle hubs and only uses 12Mbps USB hardware.

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