Share your voice 30 Photos Google Maps for Android Google Search gets AR, and Google Lens wants to be your… Now playing: Watch this: The coolest things we saw at Google I/O With the Translate filter, Google Lens will detect a language and overlay a translation on top of the words. It works across over 100 languages, according to Google.The Text filter allows users to copy and paste text from objects including Wi-Fi passwords, gift card codes and recipes onto their phone; and Shopping provides similar items when the camera is pointing at clothing, furniture, or home decor, as well as barcode scanning capabilities.Read: Google brings AR and Lens closer to the future of searchAuto provides search results based on whatever object a user is pointing the camera at.”We’re taking Google Lens and taking it from, ‘oh, it’s an identification tool, what’s this, show me things like this,’ to an AR browser, meaning you can actually superimpose information right on the camera,” Aparna Chennapragada, vice president and general manager for camera and AR products at Google, told CNET earlier in May.”One of the questions we had was, if we can teach the camera to read, can we use the camera to help people read?” she added regarding the Lens Translate feature. “This is obviously useful in cases where you’re in a foreign city and you can’t speak the language, but in many parts of the world, people can’t speak or read their own language.” 4:19 Tags Comments Review • The rebuilt Google Maps for Android is better than ever Google Lens is getting five more filters.Google on Tuesday launched five new Lens filters for subjects ranging from food to foreign languages.The new Google Lens features will provide better and faster overlays of information over real-world objects, the company said. Google gave CNET’s Scott Stein an early look at what Lens filters can do just ahead of its I/O developer conference earlier this month. The Dining filter will automatically highlight popular dishes on a menu, tapping into Google Maps to see photos and reviews of specific dishes.”And when you’re done with your meal, just point the camera at your receipt, and Lens can help calculate the tip and split the bill,” Google said. Mobile Tech Industry Mobile Apps Phones Digital Media Online 0 Google
AUTUMN OF THE PATRIARCH: The government should expedite Air India’s sale by increasing the higher FDI component for foreign buyers who can employ the right professional expertise and marketing know-how to turn around the beleaguered airline.Creative CommonsBad mergers create bad blood – in the skies and on the ground. When the government merged India’s two state-owned airlines in 2007, Air India and domestic carrier Indian Airlines, the combined entity would soon grow into a megalith symbolising all the shortcomings of India’s public sector.In just a generation, competition from the private sector, rising fuel costs as a percentage of operational expenditure, strikes by opposing factions of pilots, freebies and upgrades to politicians and bureaucrats, and huge discounting would move the Maharaja from monopolising air travel to being only India’s third largest airline with a 11.8 percent market share.But the literal bottomline here is: Air India has lost money almost every year since its merger despite the UPA II government infusing Rs 30,000 crore into Air India under a financial restructuring plan (FRP). Total equity infused in the airline thus far is Rs 22,280 crore. Banks currently have an exposure of about Rs 53,980 crore.A diverting fact is that state-owned Air India utilised government bailouts while launching price wars with other airlines as part of its survival requirements, leading to the logical conclusion that the government was helping subsidise monopolistic behaviour.Another FRP by the present BJP dispensation to infuse Rs 42,182 crore as additional equity over 22 years has been delayed as the airline grapples with the problem of handling over Rs 50,000 crore in debt, of which an estimated Rs 23,000 crore is by way of aircraft loan advances. It is a no-win situation exacerbated by the airline’s asset deterioration down the years and its inability to even control its operating losses since 2011.Last year, for the first time in about a decade, Air India managed to post Rs 105 crore in operating profit (net loss after tax in 2016 — Rs 3,836.77 crore) on the back of fresh capital infusion from the government and lower ATF prices. But was the intangible benefits of holding on to a 13 percent market share worth splattering more red ink on a battered balance-sheet? The government didn’t think so. Its decision to divest the national carrier spoke of the triumph of experience over, often unrealistic, hope.Dreams Un-linedThe national career was a symbol of public sector ingenuity and operational inventiveness down the decades till its much- ballyhooed merger with Indian Airlines. Then, the losses started piling up with fresh competition from the private sector on key sectors within India. Even Vijay Mallya’s doomed Kingfisher took valuable market share away from Air India. Middle East carriers like Emirates, Gulf Air and Qatar Airways gained top-of-the-mind recall for expatriate travellers to destinations like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah and Muscat.For a government long in denial about the dismal picture which Air India presented, the benefits of disinvesting the airline in a single swoop are far more than taking a piecemeal approach as recommended by critics who suggest that it retain 51 percent in the asset-heavy airline. Air India owns prime land in cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, the sale of which, disinvestment supporters expect will vault the airline out of troubled times. But this asset class, going by the airline’s own assessment, would yield only Rs 10,000 crore which is not a scratch on its huge debt burden. Raghavendra NThe Dreamliner aircraft and its entitled pilot crews have remained a thorn in the airline’s flesh to this day. Pilot strikes and mutinies since 2012 and largescale operational mismanagement took the airlines to a new low. The airline incurred operational losses of Rs 5,537 crore in 2012 (or Rs 15 crore every day). Subsequent years were not too different, though going by the government’s claims, Air India was actually paring down its losses fiscal after fiscal.Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha had exuded confidence about the airline’s performance since last year, and earlier this year, asserted that it would show operating profits of Rs 300 crore in 2016-17, and the government had no plans to privatise the airline – till the latter poured cold water over his enthusiasm by announcing that a disinvestment program to sell the airline and recover its losses would soon be underway.The Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) made things stickier when it said that the airline had actually posted operating losses of Rs 321.40 crore in the April-June period of 2015-16, when the government had claimed a profit.But Air India said that its operational performance targets were in line with the turnaround plan. A spokesperson said that “considerable improvement” in on-time performance at 78.2 percent was achieved in 2015-16 as compared to 68.2 percent in 2011-12. The available evidence didn’t justify the airline’s claims.Taking the debt-free roadThe logical answer to Air India’s problems is privatisation — but politicians and bureaucrats, who misuse India’s flag carrier as much as its employees do –, would baulk at such a move. Air India has been surviving on the Rs 30,000-crore bailout package put together by UPA-II in 2012 to help its turnaround, as well as debt relief provided by public sector banks. It is estimated that even a well executed asset sale may not fully cover the airline’s liabilities, and taxpayers cannot escape footing part of the loss — either directly in case the government pays off the airline’s creditors, or indirectly if the public sector banks write off their loans to the airline.The three options on the table could be a full 100 percent selloff, a 74 percent stake sale or retaining a 49 percent share in the airline, as per a tentative note from the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM). Raghavendra NThe decision to form an Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism to take forward the disinvestment plan is timely. But this Mechanism should first shed clarity on how the eventual sale will be executed — whether the airline will be fully privatised or hived off asset-wise to interested bidders like IndiGo, which has expressed interest in buying out the carrier’s international operations and peak hour landing slots in airports like London and New York. These slots if sold should fetch the government at least Rs 3,000 crore.A sale of market slots in airports like Delhi and Mumbai would be attractive to foreign airlines to invest in India, though the government’s stakeholding and quantum of divestment will come under their scrutiny before entering the bidding fray. Experts have suggested that the value of the heritage Air India brand can’t be overlooked either, when even Kingfisher’s hostile lenders valued that brand at Rs 160 crore.If both foreign and prospective domestic buyers like Indigo, are allowed to bid freely for the airline, more value could be realised from a sale. There have been suggestions to add more value to the airline’s assets by hiving off non-core assets with high profit potential into a shell company and demerger and strategic disinvestment of profit-making subsidiaries. This make sense only if the government considers making key changes in its FDI policy to allow foreign investors to buy a more substantial stake in Air India. If it is possible to invest 74 percent FDI in telecom, then why not in aviation?The highly rated Tata-Air Asia Berhad JV which saw Air Asia grabbing a foothold in the huge Indian market, has still not fulfilled its initial promise. Going by the record, almost all airlines that have lost money have only themselves to blame. Their painpoints include inefficient operations, aggressive expansion without consolidation, balance-sheets which are leveraged unduly high, improper route planning and wrong pricing of tickets. These factors have contributed more to the downfall of many an airline meeting its Waterloo in the Indian aviation market, rather than the market itself — which is growing and has many milestones ahead of it. Carriers like IndiGo have excelled in the same market. Stabilising Air India will be an important step ahead for Indian aviation. For a start, in the event of a successful sale, the government and its ministries must start seeing Air India as a revenue source and not a revenue generator.
In this still from a video provided by Venezolana de Television, presiden Nicolas Maduro, center, delivers his speech as his wife Cilia Flores winces and looks up after being startled by and explosion, in Caracas, Venezuela on 4 August. Photo: APSix “terrorists and hired killers” have been arrested in Venezuela accused of trying to assassinate president Nicolas Maduro in an alleged drone attack, the government said on Sunday.Interior and justice minister Nestor Reverol announced the arrests on state television, saying more could be on the way “in the coming hours.”Three soldiers were in critical condition and four more were injured in the alleged attack that involved two remote-controlled drones, Reverol said.He described it as “a crime of terrorism and assassination” and said that the “material and intellectual authors inside and outside the country” had been identified.Venezuela’s opposition braced itself for “persecution and repression” as the armed forces vowed “unconditional” loyalty to radical socialist leader Maduro, who, standing with his wife on a reviewing stand, was unharmed in the incident.Maduro vowed to inflict “maximum punishment” on those who tried “to assassinate me.” He pointed the finger at outgoing Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and “the ultra-right wing”-a term he uses to describe domestic opposition, even as a mysterious rebel group claimed responsibility.‘Wave of repression’“There will be no forgiveness,” Maduro warned, for what a military statement said was an act of “barbarism in a desperate attempt to destabilize” the government.But Nicmer Evans, a former government loyalist and now leader of the opposition Frente Amplio party, said he feared the government’s measures “open the door to persecution and a wave of repression.”Those worries came as defense minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez voiced the military’s “unconditional and unrestricted loyalty to our commander in chief.”Army general Padrino Lopez described Saturday’s incident as “an aggression against the military” aimed at provoking regime change “through unconstitutional means.”Attorney general Tarek William Saab said the names of those arrested would be published on Monday.The alleged attack involved two drones, each carrying a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of plastic explosive C4, which Reverol said on state television is “capable of causing effective damage over a 50-meter (164 feet) radius.”He said one drone flew over the tribune where Maduro was giving a speech but that it became “disoriented by signal-inhibiting equipment” and was thus “activated outside the assassins’ planned perimeter.”The second drone lost control and crashed into a nearby building, Reverol added.State television images showed Maduro looking up with a start after hearing a bang, as National Guardsmen lined up in the parade scattered in fright.No drones could be seen in the television broadcast, which showed bodyguards jumping in front of Maduro to protect him with flexible ballistic shields. The broadcast was quickly cut.Maduro ‘has to fall’Once back in the presidential palace, Maduro said he had “no doubt” that Colombia’s Santos-a Nobel Peace Prize winner who negotiated a historic peace accord with Marxist guerrillas FARC-was “behind the attack.”Santos, who is due to hand over power to the hardline right-winger and vocal Maduro critic Ivan Duque on Tuesday, had said this week that the Venezuelan “regime has to fall” and that he could “see it happening in the near future.”Colombia’s Foreign Ministry denied involvement, calling the allegations “absurd.”Maduro said investigations pointed to financial backers who “live in the United States, in the state of Florida. I hope that President Donald Trump is ready to fight these terrorist groups.”US national security advisor John Bolton insisted Sunday that there was “no US government involvement” and even suggested on “Fox News Sunday” that the incident could have been “a pretext set up by the regime itself.”Late Saturday, a rebel group calling itself the National Movement of Soldiers in T-Shirts claimed responsibility in a statement passed to US-based opposition journalist Patricia Poleo, who read it on her YouTube channel.“We cannot tolerate that the population is suffering from hunger, that the sick do not have medicine, that the currency has no value, or that the education system neither educates nor teaches, only indoctrinating communism,” said the statement, accusing the regime of having “made public office an obscene way to get rich.”A collapsing economyOn Saturday, a policeman who requested anonymity told AFP that drones may have been released from a nearby apartment that suffered a fire after one exploded. However, other accounts blamed the fire on the accidental explosion of a gas cylinder.Maduro’s allies Cuba and Bolivia condemned the incident, as did Russia.Last year, 125 people were killed over four months of violent clashes between anti-Maduro protesters and armed forces.Maduro, a 55-year-old former bus driver, has remained in power despite a collapsing economy and a long-running political crisis, thanks in large part to unwavering support from the military.Hundreds of thousands have fled the country due to food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund says could reach one million percent this year.Maduro often accuses the opposition and the United States of working together to topple him.
The idea of using flash-based storage in a notebook isn’t new. Nevertheless, the high cost of flash has prevented it from replacing hard-disk drives on mainstream notebook PCs, despite some advantages in power consumption, shock resistance, and speed–until now.Photograph: Robert CardinAs prices continue to drop, flash-based solid-state drives (SSDs) have become viable options for handling your notebook’s primary storage requirements. Moreover, today’s roomiest SSDs have 32GB of memory, enough to do more than satisfy basic storage needs–making them competitive with 1.8-inch hard-disk drives, which range in capacity from 30GB to 80GB. These SSDs, available from companies like Samsung and SanDisk, are lightweight (the SanDisk UATA 5000, for example, weighs 59 grams–just over 2 ounces) and can be found in portables from Dell, Fujitsu, and Toshiba.Are they worth the extra dollars? In spite of price drops, SSDs cost $400 to $500 more than ordinary hard drives of the same capacity. To justify the price difference, SSD notebooks must demonstrate significant performance benefits over notebooks equipped with standard hard drives. To find out whether they do, we tested three pairs of ultraportable notebooks from Fujitsu and Dell.The SSD ChallengePhotograph: Rob CardinThe two test models in each pair of laptops were identically configured, except that one had an SSD, and the other a typical 1.8-inch 4200-rpm hard drive. Two of the notebooks–Dell’s 6.25-pound ATG D620 ($3015 with SSD, $2815 with a 80GB hard-disk drive) and Fujitsu’s 2.5-pound LifeBook P1610 ($2578 with SSD, $2029 with a 30GB hard-disk drive)– ran Windows XP Professional. The third notebook, another LifeBook P1610 ($2548 with SSD, $1999 with a 30GB hard-disk drive) ran Windows Vista Business.No Clear WinnerResults were mixed: In several cases, our tests bore out the advantages of SSD, in other cases, the hard-disk-based models led the way.Photograph: Rob CardinOur benchmark suite for testing system performance, WorldBench 6, Beta 2, showed no definite pattern in overall results between SSD systems and hard-disk-drive systems. For example, the two Dell ATG D620 models, packed with a 2.0-GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU and 1GB of memory, each earned a mark of 76 on WorldBench 6. In contrast, the two Fujitsu LifeBook P1610 units, configured with a 1.2-GHz Core Solo U1400, 1GB of memory, and Windows XP Professional, differed in performance: The SSD version received a score of 42, while the hard-drive version received a 39.Interestingly, the performance difference was even more pronounced in the pair of Fujitsu P1610 models running Windows Vista Business. Here, the SSD version of the notebook finished with a 36 on our WorldBench 6 beta tests, while the hard-drive version posted only a 30. The Vista-based Fujitsu system with the SSD did especially well on our Adobe Photoshop CS2 image manipulation test, besting the hard-drive version by 36 percent, and on our Nero 7 Ultra Edition disk burning test, where it outperformed its counterpart by 76 percent.The SSDs achieved superior performance in all three pairings on only two types of applications: drive-intensive tests like our Nero 7 Ultra Edition disc burning, and WinZip 10.0 file compression tests. The SSD versions of the two Fujitsus also earned higher marks than their hard-disk doppelgangers on our Photoshop CS2 test, but on that test the hard-disk Dell outran the SSD Dell by 10 percent.SSDs Rock on Hard-Drive-Intensive TasksWe did see decisive performance wins by the SSD models on the file read and write tests that we use for our hard-drive testing. (The read and write tests consist of reading and writing folders of files, and searching for files on a drive.) On these tests, the SSD models bested their hard-drive counterparts in 11 out of 12 instances. Occasionally, the scores were close: On our Windows file search of 6.1GB of data, for example, the SDD Fujitsu Vista Business system notebook finished the test in 86 seconds, while its hard-drive-based twin finished the test in 100 seconds. Still, in most cases, the SSD models were dramatically faster. The most extreme example: The XP Pro Fujitsu finished our large-file reading and writing test in 199 seconds, far ahead of the hard drive-equipped model, which finished the test in 533 seconds.SSDs Deliver Only Slight Battery Life EdgeThough industry experts routinely boast that flash memory consumes less power than hard drives do, our battery tests found little real-world difference between the two drive types on this measure.The SSD version of the Dell ATG D620 lasted 5 hours, 40 minutes in our test, just 3 minutes longer than the hard-disk-equipped version lasted. The SSD Fujitsu P1610 with XP held out for 3 hours, 11 minutes–7 minutes longer than its hard-drive counterpart. And the SSD Fujitsu P1610 running Vista Business bested the hard-drive version by 9 minutes (2 hours, 26 minutes versus 2 hours, 17 minutes). The advantage in battery life boost would almost certainly increase for the SSD models if they were matched against hard-drive laptops with drives larger than the 4200-rpm components we used. The faster a disk spins, the more power is required to spin it.SSD’s Other BenefitsNumbers don’t tell the whole story about solid-state drives. SSDs also tend to be more rugged than a standard hard drive because the NAND flash memory they use lacks the moving parts found in a hard drive. Drop your notebook, and the data on your SSD will be safe–even if the notebook’s screen doesn’t survive unscathed. Also, unlike hard-disk drives, SSDs don’t generate heat and don’t produce a lot of electromagnetic interference.ConclusionsManufacturers first incorporated SSDs into ultraportable notebooks designed for people working in healthcare, insurance, and similar fields. But as prices drop and storage capacities increase, you can expect manufacturers to begin promoting SSD notebooks to a broader range of users.Indeed, the movement toward the mainstream has already begun. This summer, Dell introduced SSD into the company’s Latitude D630, D830, and D430 business notebooks, which target power business users and travelers. Choosing the SSD option to replace the standard 80GB 5400-rpm hard drive on any of these units adds $540 to its overall price. Toshiba is expected to begin introducing SSDs into select notebooks later this year, too.The Bottom LineUltimately, with an SSD in your notebook, you’ll see somewhat better system responsiveness, and a positive change in the way the system handles drive-intensive tasks such as reading data from and writing data to the drive, coming out of standby mode, and booting up from scratch. If you’re a mobile worker who tends to bump your laptop around a little and who would benefit from performance boosts in those areas, the extra cost of having “SSD inside” might just be worth it.Test Report: Solid-State Drives vs. Hard-Disk Drives–Which Are Faster?The performance boost from SSD varies from notebook to notebook, but using SSD is clearly beneficial for hard-drive-intensive tasks. Enroll Now for Free This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. 6 min read Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Brought to you by PCWorld July 13, 2007