This week, life’s not so good for Samsung, but Gears of War 4, developed in Vancouver, is fantastic. Plus, you can now purchase Sonos speakers at Apple Retail Stores, and all about the new Roku media streaming devices. But first, the New York Times is automating comment moderation. In a way.
How good of an online comment moderator are you?
A few weeks ago I wrote about how National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States had opted to dump the ability of audience members to leave comments on articles at npr.org.
The New York Times is going the opposite direction.
“Times readers have spoken, and we’ve been listening: You want the chance to comment on more stories, and you want your comments approved more quickly,” writes Bassey Etim.
One of the ways that the Times aims to approve more comments more quickly is using new technology from Google. Jigsaw is a team of people at Google parent company Alphabet who “view the world through the lens of technology”.
Jigsaw is helping the Times build a new system that will allow for “robot helpers” in comment moderation.
It’s a big job, moderating comments for the Times. A team of 14 people routinely handle 11,000 comments every day. And to show how difficult it can be to do that job, the Times has created a quiz so you can see how well – and how fast – you can moderate five comments.
Samsung stops production of Galaxy Note7 handsets, recalls every one they shipped
Well, after praising Samsung for being quick to own the poor quality control for the Note7 handset, I’m eating those words. Samsung has cancelled production of the devices and is recalling them all, worldwide.
This due to new reports of replacement Note7s catching fire, even when not plugged in.
Which makes me think that the problem with the handset wasn’t the battery after all, but something else. Because putting new, improved batteries into the devices hasn’t seem to have helped.
If you’ve got a Note7, call 1-800-SAM-SUNG to arrange for your refund.
There is no confirmed evidence that any other Samsung device is a problem, so anyone using a Galaxy S7 should be fine.
Which is one good reason that these products should have better naming conventions, because the general public is sure having a hard time telling the difference between the Note7 and the S7.
Meanwhile, Apple is quietly selling it’s iPhone 7 to everyone who’s returned a Note7.
Sonos wireless speakers now sold at your friendly, neighbourhood Apple Store
Just in time for the holiday buying season, it’s become easier to kit out your home with wireless Sonos speakers.
Two of the company’s speakers, the PLAY:1 and larger PLAY:5 are now being sold in Apple Stores. Starting on November 2, they will also be available at Apple’s online store.
Apple’s sweetening the deal, with a three-month suscription to Apple Music with every Sonos speaker sold until the end of the year.
Apple Music became available on Sonos speakers earlier this year.
New media streaming devices from Roku get you ready for 4k and more
If you’re moving into streaming video, there are options beyond AppleTV and Google’s Chromecast.
And Roku has just released four new models of gadgets that are sure to suit every possible context.
The Roku Express ($40) is, the company asserts, the smallest player they’ve developed. Despite the size, the Express delivers high-definition (HD) video through an HDMI cable. The Roku Express+ ($50) sends the signal using a composite cable which are still found in some older televisions.
The step up is the Roku Premiere ($90), which is for those who have made the move to 4K HD video. It also upscales HD video to 4K.
The Roku Premiere+ ($110) adds support for high dynamic range (HDR) and includes a remote control with a headphone jack.
The top line Roku player is the Ultra ($140), which builds on the impressive features of the Roku Premier+ and adds an optical digital audio port and Dolby Digital surround sound.
One of the things that sets Roku streaming devices apart from the competition is that they are agnostic as to where the movies and TV that you want to watch are located.
The Roku operating system will show you where content is available, and will rank your options in order of price, starting with what’s free, and going up from there.
Roku streaming video devices are as plug and play as you can get.
Gears of War 4 releases this week
I’m so happy to get back to Gears of War. Vancouver studio the Coalition, led by Rod Fergusson, has delivered a game that honours the series that came before, but stretches just enough to carve a new path for a new trilogy.
(Read my profile of Rod Fergusson in the Straight’s Best of Vancouver.)
The story campaign is better written than some of those earlier games, and the voice talent – Liam McIntyre as J.D. Fenix, Eugene Byrd as Del Walker, Laura Bailey as Kait Diaz, and John DiMaggio as Marcus Fenix – bring their characters to life with dialogue that is delivered with a natural cadence.
Gears 4 also gives you co-op play through the campaign, as well as standard player-versus-player and the breathless Horde 3.0, which pits groups of five players against waves of enemies. New to Gears is the ability to build defenses to help keep the creepies at bay.
Releasing tomorrow (Tuesday, October 11) for Windows and Xbox One/S, Gears 4 is a “play anywhere” game, so picking it up for one platform also gives you the game on the other.
And if you’ve got an HDR-compatible television, you’re going to want to have an Xbox One S, because the new console is able to deliver a nuanced picture unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Gotta go. Gears 4 is waiting.