Is Nokia Ready to Take India by Storm?

This episode of Orbital focuses on Nokia’s new smartphone launches. Nokia launched three Android phones – Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6. These three Android phones have been hotly anticipated but will they be able to make a mark in a market where there are so many good mid-range Android phones? Games editor Rishi Alwani and “former” host Pranay Parab join host Aditya Shenoy to discuss.

Is Nokia Ready to Take India by Storm?

We start the episode by talking about the three Nokia smartphones and whether the hardware matches up against what the competition has to offer. We look at the specifications of the three Nokia smartphones and wonder whether they can take on excellent mid-range and budget smartphones from rivals.

Nokia’s distribution strategy is also a big point of discussion. We wonder why Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 are offline exclusive and why Nokia 6 is an Amazon exclusive. Rishi and Pranay offer theories about this, before we look at Nokia’s official comments on its strategy.

Then Aditya brings up the topic of after sales service. We talk about how difficult it is to provide good service and whether Nokia can differentiate itself from competition on this front. Finally, we close the episode by talking about Nokia’s naming strategy for its smartphones.

Destiny 2 on PC Is Exclusive to Battle.net and That’s Great. Here’s Why.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Steam may be convenient but the user experience is dated
  • Valve’s new restrictive policies don’t bode well for consumers either
  • The outrage over not using Steam goes against the PC as an open platform

Destiny 2 for PC will be available on Blizzard’s Battle.net instead of Steam. There’s been a tremendous amount of outrage from the community due to this, with many citing the inconvenience of using another client to play Destiny 2. Some people even plan to boycott the game because of it.

There are plenty of reasons for Destiny 2 publisher Activision to keep it exclusive to its own platform – thirty at the very least. That’s the percentage of revenue Activision would have to pay Valve, if Destiny 2 was on Steam. This alone is a massive plus point for Activision. However, having Destiny 2 on Battle.net will be great for gamers too.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYxVRWAJnNg?ecver=2]

For one, Battle.net is a better client. Sure, it might not have the Big Picture Mode of Steam, or the sheer number of games on sale, but the desktop and mobile apps are easier to use, sporting an intuitive design that’s slick and stylish. On the other hand, Steam resembles something that would have been cutting-edge in 1995.

If looks or usability aren’t a problem for you – and they probably aren’t for a majority of the millions of users on Steam – there is also the question of policy. Right now, Valve has been clamping down on some of the core features of Steam, such as gifting games.

Gone are the days when you could buy games and store them in your inventory to gift at a later date, nor can you send gifts via email. Valve’s also done away with cross-region gifting, which means games that weren’t available in India – such as those in the Dragon Ball Z series – for reasons such as licensing restrictions, can’t be obtained anymore either.

On the other hand, Battle.net makes gifting easier, allowing you to do so via email. This is not just just limited to games either. World of Warcraft for instance, allows users to gift pets, mounts, items, or even game time. In fact, you can even buy Destiny 2 using World of Warcraft’s in-game currency. The ease of use where it matters is what makes Battle.net a better choice for gamers.

destiny 2 squad destiny_2

Beyond that, while Steam has made strides in customer support over the years, it still trails behind Battle.net. Blizzard has been the gold standard for years thanks to its thorough approach and speedy responses. We’ve all experienced this time and again, after experiences like being locked out of the Battle.net account due to hackers, or simply forgetting the password and secret question. Regaining access usually happens in under a day and is hassle-free. Steam on the other hand, is still figuring out how to serve its users better in this regard.

Much like GOG Galaxy, Battle.net’s treatment of its users is something Valve should take notes from. Steam has its fair share of fanboys thanks to its regular game discounts, but it lags in other departments that are often glossed over. Steam Greenlight for instance has resulted in a seemingly infinite assembly line of cookie cutter games borne out of stock assets bought from the Unity Store. It’s taken Valve the better part of five years to realise the need to replace Steam Greenlight and even then, it hasn’t decided what should take its place.

With Destiny 2 coming to Battle.net, it opens the doors for other non-Blizzard games to as well, which sounds like a net positive for gamers. Sure, you might just boycott Destiny 2 on the PC anyway, but in doing so, you’re essentially casting your vote for the future of PC gaming to be utterly dominated by Gabe Newell and friends, with Steam’s restrictive practises, and poor policies, instead of the PC being an open platform, unlike consoles.

BSEB Bihar Class 10 Results 2017: How to check

The Bihar School Education Board (BSEB) is all set to declare the matriculate or class 10 board results on Tuesday, June 20.

Once the Bihar Class 10 results will be declared, all the candidates can check the same at biharboard.ac.in

Here’s what BSEB chairman Anand Kishor said:

“We are working out the modalities. Things are in an advanced stage,” BSEB chairman Anand Kishor said in recent HT report.

How to check Bihar Class 10 board results:

  • Go to the official website, biharboard.ac.in
  • Click on relevant link
  • Enter you roll number and other required details in prescribed format
  • Click to submit
  • Results will be displayed on the computer screen
  • Download the Class 10 results and take print out of the same for future reference.

After Ruby Rai, this year also, Bihar board came under the topper scam fiasco.

BSEB Bihar Class 10 Results 2017

Bihar Class 12 toppers scam:

This year, Ganesh Kumar from Ram Nandan Singh Jagdeep Narayan Higher Secondary School in Samastipur secured the first position in Arts stream with 82.60 per cent.

(Read: Bihar Board 41-year-old topper Ganesh arrested for fraud, possessed fake name and has two kids)

The 24-year-old Ganesh Kumar scored 65 out of 70 in music practicals.

While speaking to Rohit Kumar Singh, India Today, Ganesh said, “I don’t know much about music. I just attended a couple of music classes in the last two years that I spent in college before appearing for the intermediate exam.” He further added, “I never thought I would become a topper in Bihar Board. I was a satisfactory student but never thought that I would top the exams.”

Verification of toppers:

Leaving no stone unturned, the board has also planned to conduct verification of top 10 performers to prevent any chance of forgery.

The Bihar board conducted the Class 10 examination in the month of May.

Total number of Bihar Board Class 10 students:

It is said that nearly 17 lakh students from Bihar appeared for matriculate (class 10) board examination this year.

Important note: Unlike Class 12, in matriculation (class 10), there is just one topper.

About BSEB:

The Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) is established for holding and conducting an examination at the end of the Secondary School stage, for prescribing course of studies for such examination and for carrying out such other objects and duties as may be considered necessary for the purpose as stated in the act, rules and regulations of the board.

Summer Workshop Pushes Minority Students to Pursue Computer Science Degrees

Undergraduate tech students from universities around the country convened at Cornell this past week for a week-long computer science workshop, encouraging students to consider graduate degrees in the field.

The workshop, Software Defined Network Interface, aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority Ph.D. students in computer science. The participants come from various universities including North Carolina State University and the University of Puerto Rico.

Prof. Hakim Weatherspoon, computer science, created the workshop because he said the percentage of underrepresented minorities in computer science was “very low.”

In fact, while between 1,500 and 1,600 students earn a Ph.D. in computer science each year, fewer than 3 percent of those students are underrepresented minorities, according to Weatherspoon.

“Each year there’s about 20, 25 that are African-American,” he said. “Around 20, 25 that are Hispanic, and 2 to 5 that are Native American. So about 50 total, which is less than 3 percent.”

“If we have 25 here,” Weatherspoon added about the program, “and then they all went on and pursued a Ph.D. and obtained one, we would have double the number of Ph.D.s that are from underrepresented minorities.”

The program — funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation — was free for participating students.

In the mornings, the students attended lectures from Cornell professors and deans from departments including computer science and engineering. After the morning lecture, students ventured around campus, visiting the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source and attending a campus tour. In the afternoon, students worked coding their research project.

13 students from universities across the country came to Cornell for a week-long computer science workshop.

“The focus of this workshop, research-wise, is computer networks,” Weatherspoon said. “They actually do a project related to computer networks.”

Weatherspoon described how there is a “pipeline” responsible for the low numbers of Ph.D. candidates from underrepresented minorities.

“If you go backwards from top down, one reason is there’s very few underrepresented minority faculty in computer science,” he said. “I’m the only one here at Cornell and across the nation, there’s very, very few. A lot of schools have zero, and some have one, and very few have two.”

In addition to “very few” minority students in Ph.D. programs, some of these Ph.D. graduates choose to enter the computer science industry instead of becoming faculty.

Weatherspoon explained that even before college, there are “not as many” underrepresented minority students choosing to enter STEM.

“What we see is a high interest in computer science, but then to get into a computer science program, especially at a top university, and make it all the way through, and then go onto a Ph.D., you’re just losing people the entire way,” Weatherspoon said.

Ato Watson, a junior at Florida Memorial University, participated in the workshop, describing the experience as an “eye-opener.”

“The workshop has been an eye-opener, being a student from an underrepresented minority institution, coming here, an Ivy League institution, where research is being done at an extensive scale,” Watson said.

“I’m one of those students where opportunities like this doesn’t present themsel[ves],” he added. “I’m an international student from Jamaica. This experience is new for me, so I’m trying my very best to learn as much as possible.”

Jaelin Jordin, a junior at Hampton College, also participated in the program. He described how the participants in the program brought varying skills and backgrounds to the group.

From these different skillsets, Jordin emphasized the value of collaboration in the computer science field because “the key to computer science,” he said, “is that there is never one solution; there’s multiple ways to solve a problem.”

Like Jordin, Maya Mundell ’14, a member of the workshop, praised collaboration among students, particularly in that the workshop’s participants came from around the world, including Egypt, Ethiopia and India.

“We all really enjoyed each other’s company and we all learned a lot from one another,” Mundell said. “I think that type of experience is extremely invaluable because now we all have friends that span the world pretty much. And we all came together with the common interest of tech education and tech career opportunities.”

Western Digital Moves to Court in a Bid to Block Sale of Toshiba Chip Unit

HIGHLIGHTS
WD has sought a court injunction to stop Toshiba’s chip unit sale
The court injunction details that Toshiba needs to take WD’s consent
Toshiba wants to complete the deal as quickly as possible
Western Digital Corp has sought a court injunction to prevent Toshiba Corp from selling its chip business without the US firm’s consent – a move that threatens to throw the fiercely contested auction into disarray.

The escalation in the spat between Western Digital, which jointly operates Toshiba’s main chip plant, and its business partner follows tense last-minute jockeying by suitors for the world’s second-biggest producer of NAND semiconductors.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the California-based firm has been left out of a new Japan government-led group being formed to bid for the unit.

Toshiba’s “attempts to circumvent our contractual rights have left us with no choice but to take this action,” Western Digital’s Chief Executive Steve Milligan said in a statement.

ALSO SEEJapan Urges Toshiba, Western Digital to Get Along as Chip Spat Flares

“Left unchecked, Toshiba would pursue a course that clearly violates these rights,” he added.

Western Digital has filed its suit with the Superior Court of California, seeking an injunction until its arbitration case against Toshiba is heard. It is concerned about how Toshiba, the Japanese government and other stakeholders are handling the auction process, a second source said.

The second source added it had submitted a revised bid on Wednesday that satisfies Toshiba’s requests on deal certainty and price but did not receive a favourable response. Toshiba has demanded at least JPY 2 trillion ($18 billion) for the unit.

Sources declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the negotiations concerning the auction.

Toshiba said in a statement that it was proceeding with selecting a preferred bidder for its memory unit by the second half of June as planned and hoped to reach a definitive agreement on a sale by June 28.

Western Digital Moves to Court in a Bid to Block Sale of Toshiba Chip Unit

Toshiba wants to complete the deal as quickly as possible to help cover billions of dollars in cost overruns at its now-bankrupt Westinghouse nuclear unit and to dig itself out negative shareholders’ equity that could lead to a delisting.

Satoru Oyama, senior principal analyst at research firm IHS, said Western Digital’s argument made sense from a common-sense point of view and that developments were moving towards a worst-case scenario for the Japanese company.

“Toshiba has more to lose in the dispute because it is running out of time,” he said. “Toshiba and Western Digital eventually have to talk. They cannot afford to keep fighting when Samsung is taking advantage of the NAND market boom and investing massively.”

A third source familiar with the matter said Western Digital expects to get a ruling on its injunction request by mid-July and that arbitration cases generally take 16-24 months to resolve.

A state-backed fund, the Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ), has been at the centre of trade ministry efforts to forge a successful bid that will keep the highly prized unit under domestic control. But the nature of its partnerships appears to be going through drastic changes compared to just last week.

It has been in talks with Bain Capital and the group now includes South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc, sources have said.

INCJ was, however, also part of a proposed bid tabled by Western Digital last week that also included US private equity firm KKR & Co LP, other sources familiar with the matter have said.

Other bidders include Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker. Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, is leading a consortium that includes Apple Inc computing giant Dell Inc and Kingston Technology Co.

The highest known bid so far is one from US chipmaker Broadcom and its partner, US private equity firm Silver Lake. They have offered JPY 2.2 trillion, sources have said.

Now, an Algorithm to Teach Robots How to Behave Like a Human in Certain Situations

Scientists have developed a new machine-learning algorithm to help robots display appropriate social behaviour in interactions with humans.

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are making virtual and robotic assistants increasingly capable in performing complex tasks, researchers said.

For these “smart” machines to be considered safe and trustworthy collaborators with human partners, however, robots must be able to quickly assess a given situation and apply human social norms, they said.

Now, researchers at Brown University and Tufts University in the US have created a cognitive-computational model of human norms in a representation that can be coded into machines.

They developed a machine-learning algorithm that allows machines to learn norms in unfamiliar situations drawing on human data.

The project funded by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) represents important progress towards the development of AI systems that can “intuit” how to behave in certain situations in much the way people do.

Now, an Algorithm to Teach Robots How to Behave Like a Human in Certain Situations

“The goal of this research effort was to understand and formalise human normative systems and how they guide human behaviour, so that we can set guidelines for how to design next-generation AI machines that are able to help and interact effectively with humans,” said Reza Ghanadan, DARPA programme manager.
As an example in which humans intuitively apply social norms of behaviour, consider a situation in which a cell phone rings in a quiet library, researchers said.

A person receiving that call would quickly try to silence the distracting phone, and whisper into the phone before going outside to continue the call in a normal voice.

Today, an AI phone-answering system would not automatically respond with that kind of social sensitivity. “We do not currently know how to incorporate meaningful norm processing into effective computational architectures,” Ghanadan said, adding that social and ethical norms have a number of properties that make them uniquely challenging.

Ultimately, for a robot to become social or perhaps even ethical, it will need to have a capacity to learn, represent, activate, and apply a large number of norms that people in a given society expect one another to obey, Ghanadan said.

That task will prove far more complicated than teaching AI systems rules for simpler tasks such as tagging pictures, detecting spam, or guiding people through their tax returns.

However, by providing a framework for developing and testing such complex algorithms, the new

Oppo R11 to be available outside China starting next week

The Oppo R11 – which was made official last week, and is currently only available in China – will soon be available outside of its home country. According to a Weibo post, the device will go on sale in Taiwan next week.

Specifically, the post notes the launch is set for June 21. As for pricing, the phone will carry a tag of NTD 15,990, which translates into around $525. For comparison, the R11’s price in China is CNY2,999, or around $4

Amazon to Buy US Grocer Whole Foods Market for $13.7 Billion

HIGHLIGHTS
Amazon to acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion
Whole Foods Market will continue to operate stores under its brand
The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2017
Online juggernaut Amazon is buying Whole Foods in a deal valued at about $13.7 billion (approximately Rs. 88,300 crore), a strong move to expand its growing reach into groceries.

Amazon.com Inc. will pay $42 (approximately Rs. 2,700) per share for Whole Foods Market Inc., including debt. That marks an 18 percent premium to Whole Foods’ closing price on Thursday.

The deal comes a month after Whole Foods announced a board shake-up and cost-cutting plan amid falling sales. The grocery store operator was also under pressure from activist investor Jana Partners.

The grocery chain, known for its organic options, had been facing increased pressure from rivals, including European grocery chain Lidl, which is planning to enter the East Coast market, along with Aldi and Trader Joe’s.

Amazon to Buy US Grocer Whole Foods Market for $13.7 Billion

Amazon, meanwhile, has been expanding its reach in goods, services, and entertainment.

Whole Foods will keep operating stores under its name and John Mackey will as CEO, with headquarters in Austin, Texas.

The company, founded in 1978, has struggled to differentiate itself as competitors also now offer a plethora of fresh and organic foods, and has said customers may be choosing “good enough” alternatives closer to home. In addition to other natural and organic grocers, it has cited pressure from restaurant chains, meal-delivery companies and traditional supermarkets such as Kroger.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2017.

Amazon to Face Tough Wal-Mart Test This Back-to-School Season: JPD

Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s online sales is likely to grow double than Amazon.com Inc during the back-to-school season, helped by the Jet.com acquisition and competitive price offerings, industry research body NPD said.

An aggressive pricing and marketing strategy, coupled with the fact that Amazon’s business has reached maturity in back-to-school sales, will see Wal-Mart winning the online retail tussle this back-to-school season, NPD Chief Analyst Marshal Cohen told Reuters.

“With Wal-Mart’s new Jet.com investment, I would suspect that Wal-Mart is going to basically be able to increase the growth rate, probably almost double that of Amazon,” Cohen said.

Winning back-to-school, the second-biggest shopping season after the winter holidays, has become extremely important for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers as their store operations continue to lose customers to online shopping.

To close the gap with Amazon, Wal-Mart acquired online wholesale retailer Jet.com for $3 billion in 2016, through which it not only expanded its product assortment and added more than 400,000 customers, but also gained e-commerce know-how.

Cohen said he expects Wal-Mart to grow its online sales between 2 percent and 5 percent.

Jet.com provides Wal-Mart with a broader assortment of products than what a store has, including timely promotions and dynamic pricing, Cohen said.

Amazon to Face Tough Wal-Mart Test This Back-to-School Season: JPD

Wal-Mart’s online offerings have risen from 8 million items, at the start of 2016, to more than 20 million by the end of the year. In comparison, Amazon has more than 300 million products.

The world’s largest retailer has also started offering free two-day shipping on eligible orders, much like Amazon’s Prime subscription program.

Wal-Mart’s aggressive efforts to take on Amazon seem to be gaining momentum even as other retailers and department store chains struggle.

Online sales for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart rose 63 percent in the first quarter of this year, faster than the 29 percent growth during fourth quarter and 20 percent in the third quarter.

Online sales account for about 3 percent of the company’s total sales. Wal-Mart expects online sales growth of 20 percent to 30 percent in the second half of the year, and even faster in the next few years.

On Shania Twain's 'Life's About to Get Good,' We Have No Choice But to Take Her Word for It

There’s something just so inherently delightful about the prospect of a brand-new Shania Twain single, from an upcoming brand-new Shania Twain album, in 2017. The last time Shania released an album, LeBron James had yet to even make his NBA debut, and after endless false-start rumors and reported delays, it was starting to look like she might not release another until well after he retired. It’s not an exaggeration to say there’s been no substitute for her barnstorming country-pop while she’s been gone, either: No star to appear in her wake has matched her effortless charm, her global ambition and her absolute sledgehammer hooks.

This is all to say that “Life’s About to Get Good,” released Thursday (June 15) as the first taste from Now, due in September, didn’t have to actually be all that good to still be a welcome presence in our lives, especially going into the warm-weather months. Luckily, it is anyway; a rollicking anthem of folk-pop perseverance with a gently throbbing pulse, a sing-along-by-song’s-end chorus and an inscrutable, almost quacking hook on the verses that sounds like it should be marking a Naked and Famous song. It’s marvelous, it’s irresistible — it’s Come on Over-worthy, which 20 years later is still pretty much the highest compliment you can give to a song of its ilk.

It is also — rather quietly — completely devastating. If you don’t know about the drama Twain has undergone in her personal life since she’s been gone, a quick summary: She separated from superproducer husband Robert “Mutt” Lange after nearly 15 years of marriage, with Lange alleged to have been having an affair with Twain’s best friend, Marie-Anne Thiébaud. Shania bounced back quickly, however, and within two years she was remarried — to Frédéric Thiébaud, former husband of Marie-Anne. It’s the kind of stuff that would’ve been deemed over-the-top even in a classic country song, and it’s unignorable context when considering the alternately heartbreaking and heart-filling lyrics of of “Life’s About to Get Good.”

Despite the song’s sunny sonic demeanor and Twain’s unwavering delivery throughout, the verses are a pretty big downer from the opening lines: “I wasn’t just broken, I was shattered/ I trusted you so much, you were all that mattered.” The second verse gets even more brutal: “The longer my tears fell, the wider the river/ It killed me that you’d give your life to be with her.” And then the absolute killer at second verse’s end, as the singer resolves to move on despite her wallowing instincts, declaring “It was time to forget you… for-e-ver.” The pause before the final word and way she extends it to emphasize all three syllables sounds like she’s still considering pulling it back at any second, and it’s spine-tingling just to hear her reach the end of it.

Shania Twain performs on the Toyota Mane Stage during day 2 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 29, 2017 in Indio, Calif.

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Shania Twain Announces New Album ‘Now’: Listen to the First Single

But that’s where the chorus comes in, and thank heaven. The refrain is such an instantly familiar affirmation that it threatens to overwhelm the nuance of the preceding verses, as Twain rhapsodizes (with sturdy backing-vocal support), “Life’s about joy/ Life’s about pain/ It’s all about forgiving and the will to walk away.” She soldiers on with newfound determination: “I’m ready to be loved/ And love the way I should/ Life’s about, life’s about to get good.” It keeps the song from ever becoming a drag — Shania would never, not with a lead single — but has just enough lived-and-learned bruising to steer clear of being pat, either.

And when it comes to the chorus… she would know, wouldn’t she? It’s always dangerous to read too much real life directly into pop music, but with a story like Twain’s it’s pretty hard not to, and the music and delivery sells both the hurt and the healing with such crackling alacrity that it almost seems insulting not to assume she knows exactly from what she speaks. It’s exactly what fans would’ve asked for from a Shania comeback single, and it makes its title one of the year’s most gleeful self-fulfilling prophecies.