OnePlus introduced the new 8 and 8 Pro this week and now that the dust has settled here are a few thoughts on the new additions. These are mostly about where they fit in the global scheme of things and what they represent for their maker – if you want to learn more about the phones themselves we have hands-on articles for both OnePlus 8 and the 8 Pro.
The flagship killer is no more
Let’s kick-off with the elephant in the room and the thing that definitely has the greatest number of fans riled-up. Starting at USD 699/EUR 699 and USD 899/EUR 899, respectively the vanilla OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro are significantly more expensive than their predecessors, despite the latter coming wiht half the base storage.
At this point the transformation of a company that was initially trying to position itself as the underdog “flagship-killer” is complete. Looking back at the 7T, ant the 7T Pro, those launched at €600 and €760, respectively. And just over 12 months ago the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro commanded €559 and €700 starting prices.
Now OnePlus finally feels confident it can compete without having to undercut its rivals. The fact that the 8 Pro costs more than a Galaxy S20+ is a strong statement and if OnePlus retains its competitiveness at these newfound heights it might become BBK’s new golden goose. We are yet to see how that big if pans out however.
The new goalposts
With the move to higher tiers the concept of value for money changes. While being able to perform the largest variety of tasks is king in the mid-range, in the premium segments its also about being the best at at least some of them. You don’t spend this kind of cash without getting at least some bragging rights.
On paper the OnePlus 8 Pro doesn’t have the best camera setup nor the largest battery and while the 30W of wired and wireless charging are decent they are hardly chart-topping.
It seems then that OxygenOS will be crucial to the success of the 8 Pro. If it gets the resource management right and delievers great battery life and if the camera processing makes the most out of the available sensors the new flagship might go places.
The OnePlus 8 in no man’s land
The vanilla OnePlus 8 seemingly finds itslelf in a tough place. Not only does its new price tag bring fiercer competition from outside, but it also has the OnePlus 7T to consider. Last year’s non-Pro phone delivered most of the features of its Pro sibling, while maintaining a more reasonable price. In contrast the OnePlus 8 sits further below the 8 Pro – settling for a 90Hz display, instead of the new 120Hz model, having inferior main and ultrawide cameras and lacking the wireless charging and IP rating.
The OnePlus 8 also entirely misses on the standard telephoto camera and swaps it for a macro unit. The latter substitution stings that little bit more when we consider the OnePlus 7T had a 2x telephoto snapper. How that will compare to a crop from the main 48MP camera on the OnePlus 8 is a valid question and one that we’ll be able to answer once the review is complete.
What could have been
Thanks to being part of BBK Electronics, OnePlus has access to R&D and manufacturing resources far beyond what its revenue streams would otherwise enable. The downside is it has to play the team game and not get too close to its siblings. So while we would have loved to get the camera setup from the Oppo Find X2 Pro on the OnePlus 8 Pro we get how that would have put the two even closer in price and created unwanted in-house competition.
But if the 13MP periscope telephoto unit is too much, why couldn’t we at least get the brighter f/1.7 aperture for the main camera, also found on the regular Find X2?
It somewhat similar with charging – sure 30W sounds great, even better when it is wireless, but the Oppo Ace2 already does 65W SuperVOOC and 40W wireless top-ups.
OxygenOS is the name of the game
We definitely don’t want this to be a rant. The OnePlus new flagship has a lot to offer and we already hinted what their main weapon will be – the refined OxygenOS software.
Standing out as one of the better custom Android launchers out there it has a loyal following that few of the makers partnering with Google can enjoy.
Again, we are yet to examine it in detail, but early signs are that the 2020 OxygenOS experience is going to be snappy and fluid with stock looks and thoughtful and well implemented tweaks and feature additions. And if camera processing takes another step over what the OnePlus 7T Pro had thing might start to look up.
A couple of questions remain
The official premiere and the first hands-ons gave a lot of answers, but many questions remain. The much requested official IP68 rating is here on the Pro, as well as vanilla OnePlus 8 carrier units, sold by Verizon and T-Mobile. What gives? Well, frankly, it’s a mess that is yet to be unraveled, as people start actually taking apart unlocked and carrier units to see what, if anything, is different in their internal design.
And what about 8K video capture. You get none if that out of the box and while we doubt there are many 8K screens out it appears the outrage is significant. So can OnePlus enable it with a firmware upgrade or was it left out due to hardware limitations?
These are just some initial thoughts and potential talking points. We are already hard at work on in-depth reviews for both the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro, so we should be able to tell you more about those next week.
These are the 10 best 'Seinfeld' episodes centered on cars – Driving
Jerry Seinfeld recently made headlines after declaring he was probably finished with his hit internet show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
But CCC isn’t the only car-centric show Seinfeld’s worked on — in fact, his 1990s hit sitcom featured some pretty interesting vehicles as well.
That’s right. While you might not think of Seinfeld as a show for car nerds, more than a dozen episodes build their plots around vehicles.
Jerry Seinfeld himself is a massive car enthusiast, with a particular penchant for Porsche products. Seinfeld has owned some important race cars and street cars from the brand’s history, and continues to collect them to this day.
There are a slew of cool cars in the show: Newman’s NSX; the Maestro’s Ferrari; Kramer’s various rides; Frank Costanza’s GTO; yadda yadda yadda.
Like four clueless New Yorkers hunting for their vehicle in a parking garage, we looked for the best car-related Seinfeld episodes. Luckily we didn’t get arrested for public urination.
“The Parking Space”
After scoring a new hat at the flea market, George is feeling good, and starts bragging to Elaine about his parking prowess. He shows off by attempting to parallel park in front of Jerry’s apartment, only to have his spot taken away from him by somebody in a ’69 Buick trying to nose it in headfirst. George and Elaine were headed to Jerry’s apartment to watch a boxing match, but now George must instead duke it out with “Mike” (who also wants to watch the fight at Jerry’s) over the spot.
Eventually, the entire neighbourhood gets involved in the debate between George and Mike. In the end, they both miss the fight on TV.
George’s declaration “I wish you could make a living parallel parking” is ironic, considering he did as much a few episodes earlier. “The Parking Space” was actually shot outdoors; bleachers were brought in for the studio audience to watch, although they couldn’t hear the dialogue very well. The incident was inspired by a story by writer Greg Daniels’ father.
Jerry is looking to buy a new Saab 900 NG Convertible from Elaine’s boyfriend Puddy, who has been promoted to salesman. George goes with Jerry to make sure he doesn’t get the bad end of a deal, as he’s skeptical of car dealers and their wicked ways.
While Jerry deals with Puddy, Kramer and a salesperson test a demo model to see how far they can go before running out of gas, since he hates filling up the tank when he borrows Jerry’s car. Jerry’s sweet deal on his new car is soured when Elaine and Puddy break up over his obsession with giving high fives. A long list of extra charges are tacked onto Jerry’s bill, including changing the Saab’s colour from black to yellow.
The overcharging proves George was right about dealerships, but George only cares about getting a Twix bar after a mechanic got the last two from the machine. The episode references Thelma and Louise when the car salesman and Kramer hold hands at the end.
“The Bottle Deposit”
Jerry has some problems with his Saab after Kramer and Newman borrow it and use the engine bay as grocery storage. Jerry takes the car to Tony, a car-care-obsessed mechanic who thinks Jerry has been slacking off on maintenance. When Tony becomes infatuated about the vehicle, Jerry decides to take it to somebody else to have it repaired, but Tony runs away with the vehicle instead.
Kramer and Newman devise a scheme to drive a mail truck full of empty bottles to Michigan when Newman discovers they can be refunded for 10 cents per bottle instead of five. The bottle return plot is foiled when Kramer spots Jerry’s stolen Saab on the highway and intercepts Tony after dumping the weight of the bottles (and Newman) off the truck.
“The Wig Master”
Kramer parks his 1973 Chevrolet Impala in a cheap lot George recommended, but when the lot loses his keys, he’s forced to borrow a fancy pink Cadillac. George becomes upset when he finds a used condom in his vehicle after parking it in the same lot, accusing the lot attendant of loaning the vehicles out for prostitution.
The wig-master staying with George lends Kramer the coat from the production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat he’s working on, which, with the pink Cadillac, gives Kramer a pimpin’ new look.
Like many other episodes, this one is inspired by true events that happened to writers for the show. Spike Feresten’s girlfriend at the time had a wig-master friend stay with them; he also had a parking lot attendant lose his car’s keys, and found discarded condoms in the vehicle when he finally got it open.
“The Little Kicks”
Elaine tells a co-worker named Anna to stay away from George, leading Anna to wonder whether George is some kind of “bad boy.” George, obviously intrigued by this thought, proves he’s a tough guy by borrowing his father’s 1967 Pontiac GTO. George’s mystique is only heightened when Elaine shows up in a cab to take Anna away from him and the car.
It’s not possible to have a more badass a car than the 1967 Pontiac GTO. The stacked headlights and Torq Thrust wheels on Frank Constanza’s example make for a perfect “bad boy” muscle car.
Elaine’s bad dancing in the episode was inspired by Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, who has been seen dancing “as if he’d never seen another human being dance before,” according to writer Spike Feresten, who used to be a receptionist for SNL‘s afterparties.
“The Smelly Car”
In season four, Jerry drove a BMW instead of a Saab — but only until it turned sour. When Seinfeld has his car returned from the valet, he and Elaine notice it stinks of body odour, which rubs off on anybody that comes in contact with it. Elaine’s boyfriend tells her to go home after smelling her hair, and Kramer gets the smell on him after borrowing Jerry’s jacket. Jerry brings the car back to the valet to make him smell the car and pay for a cleaning. It doesn’t work out.
Eventually, Jerry calls the vehicle a total loss, dropping the keys in front of a street hoodlum in hopes they will take it. They get overwhelmed by the same smell that has plagued the car the whole episode.
The idea for the episode came from a friend of writer Peter Mehlman, who had been complaining about the smell of his own vehicle. Mehlman’s friend would continually pitch terrible ideas for the show only to have them rejected, but his own complaining turned out to be good enough for a plot.
“The Parking Garage”
Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George are lost in the parking garage of a shopping mall in New Jersey trying to find their space after Kramer purchases an air conditioner. Kramer sets the unit down and forgets about it; Elaine begs people to help them find their car; Jerry gets in trouble for public urination; and George is pressed to meet his parents for anniversary dinner.
This episode posed significant challenges for the crew, as renting an entire parking garage for a few days was too expensive. They were forced to take down the apartment sets and build their own parking garage from scratch, using mirrors to make the garage look massive. Shooting the episode was physically exhausting for the crew and actors, especially for Michael Richards as Kramer, who requested he be given a real air conditioner to lug around because it would look more realistic.
They eventually do find the car. The gang was supposed to drive away and the end of the episode, but an unscripted moment of the car failing to start proved to be a much better ending.
Jerry is making a pretty good living as a comedian, and decides to buy his father a brand-new Cadillac Fleetwood. His father rejects it for being too extravagant a gift. The Cadillac proves problematic when Morty Seinfeld runs for re-election as president of his condominium board, and Jack Klompus accuses Morty of embezzling condo fees to buy the car.
Nothing says “I love you” like a Cadillac, unless you’re Jerry’s dad, in which case it says the complete opposite. A Cadillac to an old man is like something shiny to a magpie — they won’t be able to keep away from it.
The plot for this episode came from a true story that happened to Larry David, who bought a Lexus for his father, who was the president of his condominium in Florida.
“The Fusilli Jerry”
Kramer goes to the DMV to renew the licence plates for his vehicle, but is instead given plates that read “ASSMAN”. Although initially upset, Kramer eventually realizes he can use them to park in a space marked “doctors only” and try to pass himself off as a proctologist. The plate also scores Kramer a date with a big-bottomed woman named Sally, plus catcalls when driving down the street.
Kramer’s car is a 1973 Chevrolet Impala, and perfectly fits with his “hipster doofus” vibe. In the 1990s, a ’73 Impala wasn’t really considered a classic vehicle, and would have been a cheap option for somebody like Kramer — who doesn’t have a steady job.
Although it wasn’t that special at the time, Kramer’s Impala was actually an extremely rare experimental vehicle from GM, one of only 1,000 fitted with airbags as standard from the factory. The tech is visible in the center of the steering wheel when he “stops short” with George’s mother.
“The Mom & Pop Store”
George is conflicted about which used car to buy: a reliable 1989 Volvo, or a Chrysler LeBaron. His decision is swayed toward the LeBaron when the salesman tell him it may have been formerly owned by actor Jon Voight. Jerry is skeptical when he uncovers ownership papers listing a John-with-an-h Voight having had the car, not Jon the actor.
When Kramer spots Jon Voight on the streets of New York, he approaches him, only to have Voight bite his arm and run away. George attempts to find a dentist who can match the bite marks on Kramer’s arm to ones on a pencil he found in the glovebox of his new car, to see if it was really owned by Voight. (Spoiler: it was not.)
The episode was once again inspired by the writers. Tom Gammill bragged to Seinfeld his car had been owned by Jon Voight, and Jerry insisted he turn it into an episode. The conversation between Jerry and George matches the conversation Gammill had with fellow writer Max Pross almost verbatim, including the owner’s manual reading “John.”
The actual Chrysler LeBaron that Gammill had bought was used in the episode, and when Jon Voight showed up on set to film his scene, he confirmed he had never owned the car.
Microsoft reportedly turns to A.I. to optimize MSN news, replacing human workers – Digital Trends
Microsoft will reportedly turn to artificial intelligence for optimizing news on MSN, replacing dozens of human workers in the process.
Microsoft will not renew the contracts for about 50 news production contractors, who were told that they would no longer be needed beyond June 30, multiple sources told the Seattle Times. The workers are tasked with identifying trending news stories from publishing partners, and optimizing content by rewriting headlines or improving accompanying images. The manual curation of articles allowed for clear and appropriate headlines, while avoiding unreliable sources and highlighting content from smaller outlets.
Full-time news producers who are performing the same functions will be retained, but all contracted news producer jobs were eliminated. Some of the contractors, who wish to remain anonymous, told the Seattle Times that A.I. will take over their responsibilities at MSN.
Several of the terminated employees, however, were skeptical that with fewer humans on board, MSN’s model of curating stories from partner websites and redistributing them will not work as well.
“It’s been semi-automated for a few months but now it’s full speed ahead,” said one of the contractors. “It’s demoralizing to think machines can replace us but there you go.’”
“I spend all my time reading about how automation and A.I. is going to take all our jobs, and here I am – A.I. has taken my job,” another contractor told The Guardian. He added that replacing humans with A.I. may be a “risky” move, as workers had to follow “very strict editorial guidelines” that made sure readers, especially younger ones, were not exposed to violent or inappropriate content.
The rise of A.I.
The artificial intelligence revolution has raised concerns that machines will displace humans from their jobs. In addition to journalists, other jobs that are at risk of losing out to A.I. include lawyers, drivers, customer service assistants, and musicians. However, there are ways for people in these professions to take advantage of A.I. instead of fearing it, including journalists using A.I. as their researchers, lawyers investing time to study computer science, and musicians harnessing A.I.-powered tools.
Meanwhile, the development of A.I. has also contributed to making life easier for humans, with functions ranging from finding brain tumors to filing for unemployment benefits, and even generating memes.
Microsoft will replace journalists with robots – 112 International
Microsoft is planning to replace contracted journalists with robots. This was reported to Seattle Times by sources in the company.
“Like all companies, we regularly evaluate our business. This can lead to increased investments in some places and, from time to time, to redistribution in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic,” the company said.
Automated systems for selecting news will carry out the tasks of selecting headlines and photos for the MSN website, which are now handled by journalists from various organizations.
Microsoft, like some other technology companies, pays news organizations to use their content on their website.
But journalists decide which news to publish and how they will be presented.
In connection with the reorganization, about 50 news producers will lose their jobs at the end of June. However, a team of full-time journalists will remain.
Some journalists warn that artificial intelligence may not be fully familiar with strict editorial rules and may ultimately select inappropriate material.
As we reported, Berkshire Hathaway holding sold all its shares in the four largest US airlines. The head of the holding, Warren Buffett, said this at the annual meeting of shareholders
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