Ben Lovejoy


Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer who started his career on PC World and has written for dozens of computer and technology magazines, as well as numerous national newspapers, business and in-flight magazines. He has also written two novels.

He thinks wires are evil and had a custom desk made to hide them, known as the OC Desk for obvious reasons.

He considers 1000 miles a good distance for a cycle ride, and Chernobyl a suitable tourist destination. What can we say, he’s that kind of chap.

He speaks fluent English but only broken American, so please forgive any Anglicised spelling in his posts.


GOOG: 813.11

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Many of us were assuming that after the Note 7 disaster, Samsung would be retiring the Note brand at least, and there have even been reports that the company planned to abandon the product line altogether. A post on the company’s Korean website, however, suggests that neither is the case.

Reuters noted that the company was not only referencing a Note 8, but also offering a special deal for Note 7 customers who remained loyal to the company by exchanging it for an S7.

Samsung said customers who trade in their Note 7 phone for either a flat-screen or curved-screen version of the Galaxy S7 can trade up for a Galaxy S8 or Note 8 smartphone launching next year through an upgrade program […]

Users in the upgrade program will need to pay only half the price of a Galaxy S7 device, rather than the full amount, before exchanging to the S8 or the Note 8, Samsung said …

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October 20

GOOG: 796.97

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The Guardian reports multiple cases of Samsung refusing to meet the full costs of damage caused by Note 7 fires. It recounts the stories of three owners whose homes suffered severe damage after their Note 7 devices caught fire.

John Barwick from Marion, Illinois, was in bed on 8 September when his wife Joni’s device exploded on the nightstand […] 

“They told me they weren’t going to pay replacement costs of any damaged items. We were asking to have our carpet replaced, and to have the goods that were sprayed on replaced. We sent them photos,” he said. Instead, Samsung offer to pay a depreciated value of the items.

While some low-end insurance policies do only pay out for the used value of damaged goods, you’d expect a company of Samsung’s size to have better insurance in place. Samsung is also refusing to pay for hotel costs for someone forced to move out of their home due to the severity of the damage …

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October 19

GOOG: 801.56

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If you’ve ever asked your Facebook friends to recommend a restaurant, a new feature rolling out should make it much easier to check out the responses.

Facebook is using a combination of AI and simple keyword recognition to identify posts asking for recommendations, and will then prompt you to turn on the Recommendations feature. When you do, it will automatically add the restaurants’ Facebook pages to the thread, as well as populating a map with their locations.

Engadget reports that the new feature is intended for use not just with restaurants, but with a range of businesses …

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October 18

GOOG: 795.26

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With Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 now officially classified as ‘forbidden hazardous material‘ and too dangerous to be taken on board aircraft, the company has begun rolling out an international airport exchange program. CNET reports that the company plans to offer the trade-in standards at major airports around the world.

After setting up exchange booths in South Korea’s Incheon airport, Samsung is now spreading the initiative across the world, announcing trade-in booths in airports across Australia. The customer service booths will allow passengers to switch out their recalled Galaxy Note 7 (along with the data on it) to another Samsung device […] The company also says it’s working to set up trade-in stands at other airports around the world.

ABC7News notes that one of the booths has been spotted in the USA, ahead of the security checkpoints at San Francisco airport …

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October 17

GOOG: 779.96

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If you’ve been trying to choose between a cheap Chromebook and one with a larger screen, Acer may have solved your dilemma. The new Acer Chromebook 15 CB3-532-C47C provides a 15.6-inch display for just $199.

The catch is that the resolution is just 1366×768 (you get what you pay for), so don’t expect to have too many windows on-screen at any one time. But if you just want a larger screen to better see what you’re doing, view movies and create room for a larger keyboard, it may well be all you need …

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As the FAA banned Note 7 devices from all U.S. flights – whether or not powered-on – it has emerged that Samsung used its own lab to test the Note 7 batteries prior to launch. The wireless industry trade group CTIA told the WSJ that Samsung was the only manufacturer to rely on in-house certification rather than using an independent lab.

Although Samsung’s own lab was CTIA certified, questions have been raised about the potential for conflicts of interest when a lab is signing-off the safety of its own products …

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October 14

GOOG: 778.53

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Google has for some time prioritized mobile-friendly sites in search results, but it will soon be taking an even bigger step. Search Engine Land reports a keynote address by a Google exec advising that the company will be creating a completely separate mobile index, which will take priority over the original desktop one.

Google is going to create a separate mobile index within months, one that will be the main or “primary” index that the search engine uses to respond to queries. A separate desktop index will be maintained, one that will not be as up-to-date as the mobile index.

The plan reflects the fact that the majority of search traffic now comes from mobile devices, but the presentation raised as many questions as it answered, notes the site …

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October 13

GOOG: 778.19

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The latest update to the Google Photos app is a big one: it uses AI technology to add four new features, from resurfacing old memories to fixing sideways photos. The new features are available in the Android app, iOS app and on the web.

While your phone should recognize whether you’re holding the camera vertically or horizontally, there are times when this doesn’t work reliably. The app will now automatically detect photos which appear to be sideways and offer to fix them for you with one tap.

The three remaining new features all focus on ways to highlight memories and share moments with others …

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The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has once again made Samsung’s recall of the Note 7 official, extending its formal recall notice to replacement devices as well as original ones. Samsung had already instructed owners to cease using the devices and to return them for refund or replacement with alternative devices.

In an attempt to persuade former Note 7 owners to remain loyal to the brand, Samsung is now offering $100 credit to anyone exchanging their device for another Samsung phone …

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October 12

GOOG: 786.14

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Samsung has slashed $2.3B from its Q3 profit projections to allow for Note 7 recall costs, effectively wiping out the entire profits of its mobile business for the quarter, reports the WSJ.

Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at IBK Securities in Seoul, said he was now expecting the company to report a small operating loss in the third quarter for Samsung’s mobile division. If so, that would mark that business unit’s first quarterly loss stretching back to before its first Note series phone was released in 2011.

Samsung last week said that it expected profits to rise despite the first Note 7 recall, but it was at that time expecting most owners to swap the original for a replacement device. Its new numbers are claimed to reflect the complete loss of those sales, but that claim seems optimistic at best …

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October 11

GOOG: 783.07

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Just hours after ceasing sales and asking owners to power-down devices, Samsung has officially ceased worldwide production of its Galaxy Note 7 after multiple reports of replacement models, like the original ones, catching fire.

I argued yesterday that the company ‘might as well write-off this year’s flagship phone as a lost cause,’ and there are today multiple reports (The Verge, Bloomberg and the BBC) that it has now done so …

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October 7

GOOG: 775.08

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Following a ‘safe’ Note 7 fire on board an airliner, Sprint has told Re/code that it will allow any owner to return replacement models outside of the standard return window. Owners will be able to swap them out for a different device.

If a Sprint customer with a replacement Note 7 has any concerns regarding their device, we will exchange it for any other device at any Sprint retail store during the investigation window

The terms are more generous than those currently offered by other carriers …

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Samsung Library at Sungkyunkwan University
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Samsung may be looking at a billion-dollar hit for the cost of recalling and replacing almost 2.5M faulty Note 7 devices, but it still expects to report increased year-on-year profits in Q3, up 5.5% on last year. The company has today issued earnings guidance of profits of around 7.8 trillion Korean won ($7B). It does, though, expect sales to fall around 5% to approximately 49 trillion won ($44B).

The company hasn’t yet provided any information on the financial impact of the Note 7 recall, but analysts cited by the WSJ say that component sales to other manufacturers are likely responsible for the boost in profits …

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October 6

GOOG: 776.86

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When a series of fires and explosions forced Samsung to recall almost 2.5 million units of its Galaxy Note 7 models at an estimated cost of a billion dollars, the last thing in the world it wanted was to have one of its new ‘safe’ replacement handsets catch fire. But that’s exactly what happened yesterday, and in the worst possible circumstances: on board an airliner.

The only saving grace for Samsung was that the aircraft was still at the gate. Had it been in flight at the time, things could obviously have been very much worse.

However, while the news is grim, we do need to be a little careful about jumping to conclusions …

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October 5

GOOG: 776.47

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While some have questioned the need for strong encryption to protect simple chats between friends, the continuing revelations of mass surveillance by governments does make the issue a matter of principle for some. Just yesterday it was revealed that Yahoo may have allowed the government to scan all of its users’ emails. And, as I’ve argued before, we all have perfectly innocent things to hide.

Facebook began testing Secret Conversations – Facebook Messenger chats protected by end-to-end encryption – back in July, promising a wider rollout later in the year. The company has now told Wired that the rollout is complete, and that the feature is now available to all Facebook users …

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October 3

GOOG: 772.56

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Facebook has long been a convenient place to sell unwanted items, but the audience for your sales has so far been limited to your friends and followers. With the addition of a Marketplace feature on mobile, Facebook allows you to expand your audience to everyone in your local community.

Facebook is where people connect, and in recent years more people have been using Facebook to connect in another way: buying and selling with each other. This activity started in Facebook Groups and has grown substantially. More than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups each month — from families in a local neighborhood to collectors around the world.

To help people make more of these connections, today we’re introducing Marketplace, a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.

Interestingly, Facebook isn’t getting involved in the transactions themselves …

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Kids electronics kit makers LittleBits have long used an Android app to help kids build their own gadgets, but the addition of a Bluetooth LE module means that their creations can now be directly controlled by a smartphone or tablet.

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September 29

GOOG: 775.01

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There seems no end in sight to Samsung’s troubles with the Galaxy Note 7. Just days after reports that replacement devices were experiencing high battery drain and slow charging, the WSJ says the company is investigating complaints that some replacement units are overheating.

In several cases reported in the U.S. and in South Korea, consumers who received a replacement smartphone said that the new device was too hot to place next to the ear during a phone call.

Samsung claims that the issue ‘does not pose a safety concern,’ but news that exploding phones have now been followed by exploding Samsung washing-machines certainly won’t be helping consumer confidence in the brand …

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September 28

GOOG: 781.56

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BlackBerry’s move from its own smartphone platform to Android doesn’t seem to have done it much good. A few months after the Android-powered Priv suffered from both slow sales and high return rates, the company has announced that it is quitting the hardware business altogether.

Re/code reports that the company made the announcement as it recorded a net loss of $372M …

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