Posts Tagged ‘Berlin’

China’s rulers will ultimately take it upon themselves to dismantle the “great firewall” that limits its people’s access to the Internet because doing so will boost China’s economy, the inventor of the World Wide Web said.

In an interview about his World Wide Web Foundation’s rankings of the way 81 countries manage the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, a London-born computer scientist who invented the Web in 1989, also scolded the United States for undermining the Internet’s foundations with its surveillance programmes.

Revelations about the scale of that surveillance and poor rural penetration rates pushed the United States from second place into fourth in the survey, which examined Internet access, freedom and content. Sweden came out on top for the second year.

But it was China, which the survey ranked at 57 out of 81, down from a ranking of 29 out of 61 last year, where Berners-Lee saw the greatest potential for improvement.

“The Berlin Wall tumbled down, the great firewall of China – I don’t think it will tumble down, I think it will be released,” he told Reuters by telephone.

“My hope is that bit-by-bit, quietly, website-by-website, it will start to be relaxed,” he said. “The agility of a country which allows full access to the web is just greater; it will be a stronger country economically as well.”

China’s state Web-censorship system blocks Facebook, Twitter and some foreign news sites as well as content that the Communist leadership considers damaging to stability and cohesion.

“The citizens are not really in a position to smash the great firewall because the government controls the Internet, the Internet companies,” said Berners-Lee, 58.

“All that can happen is that the government realises it is not in their interests, that it is holding up the economy, holding up the development of the country.”

Berners-Lee said he was encouraged that the increased use of social media had stoked political mobilisation across the planet, but cautioned that growing surveillance and censorship threatened the future of democracy.

SPYING VS FREEDOM

Berners-Lee took particular aim at eavesdropping conducted by the United States and Britain, saying the extent of the spying laid bare by US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden showed that rights had been set back.

“The rights of the individual have been severely eroded and eroded in secret,” he said of the US and British surveillance programmes. “It is a very serious threat to the Internet.”

While he admitted the state needed the power to tackle criminals using the Internet, he called for greater oversight over spy agencies such Britain’s GCHQ and the NSA, and over any organisations collecting information about private individuals.

“It is clear in the case of the US and the UK that there just has not been that oversight and accountability to the public,” he said.

“Whatever oversight you have has to be very strong, have the ability to find things out and strong rights to be told things … It has got to be very seriously independent and accountable directly to the public rather than accountable through some secret route to part of government.”

Britain’s spy chiefs have argued that media reports about Snowden’s revelations have weakened the ability of the security services to stop those plotting deadly attacks against the West.

Britain came third in the rankings, the same as in 2012 but below Norway in second place. Russia, the world’s biggest energy producer, was at 41 in the ranking.

A map of the world produced by Berners-Lee’s foundation showed Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as countries which extensively censored political content.

So was it really worth inventing the World Wide Web, and has it been a force for good or for evil?

“Overall, it has been a staggering force for good because it has been so empowering for humanity,” he said. “Humanity is basically good, creative and collaborative.”

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The Philips 9000 Series is Philips’ first foray into Ultra High Definition television, unveiled at technology show IFA 2013 in Berlin.

There are two UHD TVs in the 9000 range: a 65-inch model and 84-inch model, both displaying 3,840 x 2,160 pixels of eye-popping detail.

Both TVs are LED-backlit and have three-sided Ambilight, which projects light from three sides of the TV to complement the colours on the screen. The 65-inch model boasts a 15W speaker and two 6W speakers, while the 84-inch version pumps out sound from two 25W speakers and two 20W speakers.

4K is still very much in its infancy, so there’s very little actual 4K stuff to watch in eye-frazzling detail. So the 9000 TVs attempt to improve on the detail of high definition films and TV by upscaling Blu-ray, DVD or HD TV channels.

One way you can see the eye-popping detail of which the TV is capable is with photographs. Photographs taken by even today’s average compact cameras and camera phones pack in way more detail than HD video, so you can view photos of 8-megapixels or more in stunningly crisp detail.

Which means you’ve just paid five grand for a photo frame.

You can also connect to the Web and access apps and online services such as Netflix, YouTube and Skype alongside Philips’ usual smart TV features, as well as Miracast and SimplyShare to connect to your phone and tablet.

And the 4K TVs also do 3D, because nobody demanded it. Like most high-end TVs today, the Philips 4K models can convert regular two-dimensional films and TV to 3D.And the price? The new Philips models are more expensive than Sony and Samsung models already on the market: the 65-inch 65PFL9708 costs 4,999 euros, and the 84-inch 84PFL9708 will set you back 14,999 euros.

The Z1 handset with the QX100 lens attached weighs 349g (12.3oz)

Sony has confirmed plans to sell two stand-alone lenses that connect to smartphones by wi-fi, allowing them to take higher-quality photos.

The devices are compatible with Android and iOS handsets and mark the creation of a new product category.

The Japanese company announced the products alongside a new smartphone which features a 20.7 megapixel camera and a larger-than-normal image sensor.

The launches should help the firm challenge Nokia’s top-end handset.

The Finnish company – which is in the process of being taken over by Microsoft – unveiled the Lumia 1020 in July. Reviews have suggested that it has the best smartphone camera on the market, but were critical of its price,

Sony told the BBC it would target its Z1 handset at a wider audience than what it called the Lumia 1020’s “super-premium category”.

It confirmed details of the devices at the Ifa consumer tech show in Berlin – much of the information had already leaked via tech news sites.

One analyst suggested the lenses in particular would struggle to find buyers.

“The concept is interesting, but when you think about using it, will users want to carry them around?” asked Francisco Jeronimo, mobile devices research manager at tech consultancy IDC.

“The problem is that for those wanting top-quality photographs, the experience of having a DSLR [digital single lens reflex] offers a better experience than a phone with an add-on camera.

“Meanwhile having the lens attached to a phone makes it feel quite bulky compared to a compact camera or stand-alone handset.

“If the lenses were priced under £100, then I could see photography geeks buying it, or operators bundling it with the phone, but these lenses will be quite expensive.”

Sony itself acknowledged that it did not know how strong demand would be.

“Always we’re discussing: ‘How many pieces should we prepare,'” Yosuke Aoki, a digital imaging spokesman for the firm, told the BBC.

“We’re waiting for after the Ifa announcement to see what the feedback will be to the models.”

Making a statement

Sony is bundling movies and games with the Z1 to help it compete

The QX10 lens offers a 10x optical zoom and 18.2MP resolution which Sony says makes it ideal for taking shots of distant landmarks or close-ups of people. It will cost about £170,

The QX100 features a smaller 3.6x zoom but a bigger sensor with a resolution of 20.2MP. Its aperture goes as wide as f1.8 – allowing more light in – meaning it should be more adept at taking photos in low light or with a very shallow focus. It also offers manual focus as an option which is not possible on the other lens. It will cost about £380.

Once fitted with a battery and memory stick, the QX10 weighs 105g (3.7oz) and the QX100 179g (6.3oz).

Both devices:

  • include technology that compensates for shaky hands
  • activate a link-up to a phone or tablet if it has an NFC (near field communication) chip
  • can attach to different-sized handsets via an extendable clip, or – in the case of the Z1 – using a special case
  • can be operated while a short distance away from the smart device

Neither:

  • has a built-in screen.

Sony Mobile’s head of sales and marketing said they were intended to send a message to consumers, including those who would never buy them.

“It’s a statement as one piece of many things that are starting to come together under the umbrella of Sony,” said Dennis van Schie.

“The PlayStation 4 is coming out. In 4K [ultra-high resolution] TVs, we’re the leader – from the formats to the cameras to recording capabilities [that will appear] quite soon in mobile.

“Now we’re the first ones to dare to create a lens-type camera with a new kind of user interface. It contributes to what Sony is standing for.”

Sony posted a 3.5bn yen ($35m, £23m) profit in the April-to-June quarter, reversing a 24.6bn yen loss the previous year.

Stronger sales of smartphones helped achieve the turnaround.

However, IDC says the firm still only had a 4.1% share of global smartphone shipments over the three months, putting it behind Samsung, Apple, LG, Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE.

Additional value

Nokia has boasted that its Lumia 1020 with a 41MP sensor is the best smartphone camera on the market

Sony is hoping the new water-resistant Z1 handset will help it boost that figure.

It says the device features an exclusive sensor which is the same size as that found in its Cybershot cameras.

It also features new software including the ability to provide live video streams to Facebook, and Info-eye – an app that provides information about books, wine and landmarks among other objects the phone is pointed at.

The company is also taking advantage of its other assets to help the device stand out from the Android crowd. UK shoppers are promised five Sony movie downloads and a selection of free PlayStation mobile games.

“They’ve done quite a good job of differentiating the phone,” said Mr Jeronimo.

“That’s what operators want – to be able to provide additional value from what Sony offers.”That’s why they are looking at Sony as a better prospect for the future than other vendors like Blackberry and HTC.”