posted 5 days ago on slashdot
Ryan Shrout, reporting for MarketWatch: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich disclosed during an analyst event last week that it will have its first discrete graphics chips available in 2020. This will mark the beginning of the chip giant's journey toward a portfolio of high-performance graphics products for various markets including gaming, data center and artificial intelligence (AI). Some previous rumors suggested a launch at CES 2019 this coming January might be where Intel makes its graphics reveal, but that timeline was never adopted by the company. It would have been overly aggressive and in no way reasonable with the development process of a new silicon design. In November 2017 Intel brought on board Raja Koduri to lead the graphics and compute initiatives inside the company. Koduri was previously in charge of the graphics division at AMD helping to develop and grow the Radeon brand, and his departure to Intel was thought to have significant impact on the industry.

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Brad Sams, writing for Thurrott blog: This past week, I was tipped off that the next generation Xbox was codenamed Scarlett and in an effort to track down if this information was accurate, I was able to view content that highlighted several unannounced Microsoft products that are coming in the next two years. Microsoft is planning for the next Xbox console release to arrive in 2020. But what is more interesting, is that Microsoft describes 'Scarlett' as a family of devices; meaning we may see multiple pieces of hardware released that year.

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Brad Sams, writing for Thurrott blog: To help grow to the footprint of the brand, Microsoft is working on updates to its existing products as well as a couple new offerings. I was able to view a few pieces of internal documents that outlined some of the future plans of the Surface brand that identify previously unknown codenames for upcoming products. The Surface Pro 6 is internally known as Carmel, the upcoming low-cost Surface Tablet is going by the name of Libra, and then, of course, there is the Andromeda device that we have been talking about for many months. The Libra tablet is likely the device that Bloomberg reported about earlier this year; a low-cost Surface tablet slated for 2018. The Surface Pro 6 (Carmel) does not list a shipping date and considering that Microsoft only recently released the LTE variant of the Surface Pro 5, this product may not arrive as soon as many have hoped. That being said, a refresh of the product is in the pipeline and actively being developed. And then there is Andromeda; here is where this gets a bit more interesting. According to the documentation, the device is scheduled to be released in 2018. Microsoft thinks of this hardware as a pocketable device to create a truly personal and versatile computing experience.

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Akshat Rathi, writing for Quartz: The world needs radical new energy technologies to fight climate change. In 2016, Quartz reported that a group of billionaires -- including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Mukesh Ambani, and Richard Branson -- launched Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) to invest at least $1 billion in creating those technologies. Now, 18 months later, Quartz can reveal the first two startups that BEV will be investing in: Form Energy and Quidnet Energy. Both companies are developing new technologies to store energy, but taking completely different approaches to achieve that goal. The way to reach the world's climate goals is straightforward: reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions to zero within the next few decades. But the energy technologies that can help us get there tend to need lots of money and long lead times to develop. That's why many conventional investors, who are looking for quicker returns, have burned their fingers investing in clean tech. The wealthy investors of BEV want to remedy that. Their $1 billion fund is "patient capital," to be invested in only companies working on technologies capable of cutting global carbon emissions by at least 500 million metric tons annually, even if they may not provide returns on investment for up to 20 years.

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posted 5 days ago on slashdot
Vietnamese legislators approved a cybersecurity law on Tuesday that tightens control of the internet and global tech companies operating in the Communist-led country, raising fears of economic harm and a further crackdown on dissent. From a report: The cyber law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019, requires Facebook, Google and other global technology firms to store locally "important" personal data on users in Vietnam and open offices there. The vote in the National Assembly came a day after lawmakers delayed a decision on another controversial bill that had sparked violent protests in parts of the country on the weekend. Thousands of demonstrators in cities and provinces had denounced a plan to create new economic zones for foreign investment that has fueled anti-Chinese sentiment. Some protesters had also derided the cybersecurity bill, which experts and activists say could cause economic harm and stifle online dissent.

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posted 5 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: For years, hackers could hide malware alongside legitimate Apple code and sneak it past several popular third-party security products for Mac computers, according to new research. This is not a flaw in MacOS but an issue in how third-party security tools implemented Apple's APIs. A researcher from security firm Okta found that several security products for Mac -- including Little Snitch, xFence, and Facebook's OSquery -- could be tricked into believing malware was Apple code, and let it past their defenses. "I can take malicious code and make it look like it's signed by Apple," Josh Pitts, the security researcher at Okta who discovered these bugs, told Motherboard. In a blog post published Tuesday, Pitts explained that the issue lies with how the third-party security tools implemented Apple's code-signing APIs when dealing with Mac's executable files known as Universal or Fat files.

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: Facebook pledged to continue refining its privacy practices and investigating its entanglement with Cambridge Analytica in nearly 500 pages of new information supplied to Congress and published Monday (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) -- though the social giant sidestepped some of lawmakers' most critical queries. Much as it did during the hearing, Facebook told lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee that it is reviewing all apps available on its platform that had access to large queries of data, a process that already has resulted in 200 suspensions. Facebook did acknowledge that its consultants embedded in 2016 presidential campaigns, including President Trump's team, "did not identify any issues involving the improper use of Facebook data in the course of their interactions with Cambridge Analytica." In another exchange, Facebook said it had provided "technical support and best practices guidance to advertisers, including Cambridge Analytica, on using Facebook's advertising tools." Facebook also pointed to new tools meant to address its privacy practices, including a feature called Clear History, which "will enable people to see the websites and apps that send us information when they use them, delete this information from their accounts, and turn off our ability to store it associated with their accounts going forward," the company said. The social network did continue to sidestep many of the lawmakers' questions and concerns. The Washington Post provides a couple examples: "Delaware Sen. Christopher A. Coons (Del.), for example, probed whether Facebook had ever learned of any application developer 'transferring or selling user data without user consent' and in violation of Facebook's policies. In response, Facebook only committed in writing that it would 'investigate all apps that it had access to large amounts of data.'" Facebook also didn't address Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy's concerns. He asked Facebook to detail if the Obama campaign in 2012 had violated "any of Facebook's policies, and thereby get banned from the platform." Facebook said: "Both the Obama and Romney campaigns had access to the same tools, and no campaign received any special treatment from Facebook." You can view the nearly 500 pages of new information here.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
A new study published in the journal Science finds honeybees are able to understand the concept of zero numerosity, joining the ranks of dolphins, parrots, and primates. Sci-News.com reports: The study authors set out to test the honeybee on its understanding, marking individual honeybees for easy identification and luring them to a specially-designed testing apparatus. The bees were trained to choose an image with the lowest number of elements in order to receive a reward of sugar solution. For example, the bees learned to choose three elements when presented with three vs. four; or two elements when presented with two vs. three. When the scientists periodically tested the bees with an image that contained no elements versus an image that had one or more, the bees understood that the set of zero was the lower number -- despite never having been exposed to an "empty set."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
According to NASA, the Mars Opportunity rover is currently trying to survive an intensifying dust storm on the red planet. "The storm's atmospheric opacity -- the veil of dust blowing around, which can blot out sunlight -- is now much worse than a 2007 storm that Opportunity weathered," reports NASA. "The previous storm had an opacity level, or tau, somewhere above 5.5; this new storm had an estimated tau of 10.8 as of Sunday morning." Engadget reports: The storm was first detected on Friday June 1st by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, at which point the rover's team was notified because of the weather event's proximity to Opportunity. The rover uses solar panels, so a dust storm could have an extremely negative impact on Opportunity's power levels and its batteries. By Wednesday June 6th, Opportunity was in minimal operations mode because of sharply decreasing power levels. The brave little rover is continuing to weather the storm; it sent a transmission back to Earth Sunday morning, which is a good sign. It means there's still enough charge left in the batteries to communicate with home, despite the fact that the storm is continuing to worsen.

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A test developed by scientists in the U.K. and U.S. might someday be able to pinpoint the men most likely to get prostate cancer. A new study published Monday in Nature Genetics suggests the test can detect the one percent of men who are genetically most vulnerable to developing prostate cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths among American men. The international research team used a new DNA analysis technique to peer into the genes of more than 70,000 people enrolled in previous studies. Some 45,000 of the subjects had already developed prostate cancer, while 25,000 hadn't. So the researchers compared the two groups, singling out any inherited genetic variations that might have contributed to their cancer risk. According to the authors, they managed to find 63 new variants never before associated with prostate cancer. These results were then integrated with nearly a hundred genetic variants linked to prostate cancer previously found among 60,000 people to create a total genetic risk score. And finally, the researchers devised a test that uses a person's saliva to detect these more than 150 variants. In the U.S., people over the age of 50 are generally screened for prostate cancer via the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Those with a certain high level of PSA should be screened annually, while everyone else is advised to be screened every two years. But the saliva test could reveal especially high-risk people who need annual screening regardless of their PSA level, while ruling out low-risk people who don't need annual screening based on their genetic risk and PSA scores. Those people would only need screenings every two, five, and maybe even 10 years.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Rob Riggs writes: Jarek Duda, the inventor of a compression technique called asymmetric numeral systems (ANS), dedicated the invention to the public domain. Since 2014, Facebook, Apple, and Google have all created software based on his breakthrough. Google is now trying to patent a video encoding scheme using the compression technique. The inventor is fighting Google in the European courts and has won a preliminary ruling. The fight's not over and Google is also seeking a patent with the USPTO. A Google spokesperson says Duda came up with a theoretical concept that isn't directly patentable, "while Google's lawyers are seeking to patent a specific application of that theory that reflects additional work by Google's engineers," reports Ars Technica. "But Duda says he suggested the exact technique Google is trying to patent in a 2014 email exchange with Google engineers."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Earlier today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that its Autopilot driver assistance system will get full self-driving features following a software upgrade in August. Reuters reports: Autopilot, a form of advanced cruise control, handles some driving tasks and warns those behind the wheel they are always responsible for the vehicle's safe operation. But a spate of recent crashes has brought the system under regulatory scrutiny. "To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features," Musk tweeted here on Sunday, replying to a Twitter user. Musk said the autopilot issue during lane-merging is better in the current software and will be fully fixed in the August update. However, it was not clear what self-driving features would be included in the August update. Tesla's documentation on its website about the "full self-driving capabilities" package says that it is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: A key committee of Swedish lawmakers wants to force the country's biggest banks to handle cash in an effort to halt the nation's march toward complete cashlessness. Parliament's Riksbank committee, which is in the process of reviewing the central bank law, proposed making it mandatory for banks to offer cash withdrawals and handle daily receipts. The requirement would apply to banks that provide checking accounts and have more than 70 billion kronor ($8 billion) in deposits from the Swedish public, according to a report. The lawmakers said there needs to be "reasonable access to those services in all of Sweden," and that 99 percent of Swedes should have a maximum distance of 25 kilometers (16 miles) to the nearest cash withdrawal. The requirement doesn't state how banks should offer those services, and lenders can choose whether to use a third party, machines or over-the-counter services. The move is a response to Sweden's rapid transformation as it becomes one of the most cashless societies in the world. That's led to concerns that some people are finding it increasingly difficult to cope without access to mobile phones or bank cards. There are also fears around what would happen if the digital payments systems suddenly crashed.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Apple has updated the App Store's Review Guidelines to explicitly ban on-device mining across any type of app, and all of Apple's platforms. The new section 3.1.5 (b), titled Cryptocurrencies, provides five clear rules for what will and won't be allowed in macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps going forward. VentureBeat reports: The upshot of the new rules is that while Apple will permit cryptocurrencies to exist on its platforms, it's adding requirements to stop scammers and individuals from exploiting App Store customers, while making explicit that it's blocking developers from eating Apple device processing power for mining activities. As AppleInsider notes, the Review Guidelines were previously less concerned with cryptocurrencies, allowing an app to facilitate crypto and ICO transactions if it complied with the laws in the app's distributed territories. Since the App Store is virtually the only place to acquire software for iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Apple TVs, and Apple Watches, Apple's decision will effectively end crypto mining on those devices. On macOS, however, users will continue to be able to acquire apps outside of the Mac App Store, enabling mining and other activities to continue without Apple's seal of approval.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
A CNET report provides some insight on an elite K-9 search class that trains dogs to sniff out electronics, including phones, hard drives and microSD cards smaller than your thumb. From the report: Only one out of every 50 dogs tested qualifies to become an electronic storage detection, or ESD, dog, says Kerry Halligan, a K-9 instructor with the Connecticut State Police. That's because it's a lot harder to detect the telltale chemical in electronics than it is to sniff out narcotics, bombs, fire accelerants or people, she says. But Labrador retrievers like Harley, with their long snouts and big muzzles, can pick up even the faintest olfactory clues. These tech-seeking dogs are helping law enforcement find child pornography stashed in hidden hard drives, uncover concealed phones, nab white-collar evidence kept on hard drives and track calls stored on SIM cards. The most famous case occurred in 2015, when a Labrador retriever named Bear found a hidden flash drive containing child pornography in the home of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle. The district attorney called the discovery vital to Fogle's conviction.

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Federal authorities announced Monday that they had "disrupted" what they call "Business Email Compromise" schemes, which involve a malicious actor sending a phishing email and somehow convincing employees with access to a company's financial credentials to transfer money fraudulently. From a report: The FBI added that $2.4 million dollars was seized, while $14 million in "fraudulent wire transfers" was recovered. Seventy-four people were arrested worldwide, including 42 in the United States, 29 in Nigeria, and three others in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. "Fraudsters can rob people of their life's savings in a matter of minutes," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "These are malicious and morally repugnant crimes. The Department of Justice has taken aggressive action against fraudsters in recent months, conducting the largest sweep of fraud against American seniors in history back in February." The Department of Justice did not immediately provide a full list of those arrested, or the criminal complaints, but it said that, "since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began formally keeping track of BEC and its variant, email account compromise (EAC), there has been a loss of over $3.7 billion reported to the IC3."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
The state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) ordered all unregistered bloggers and online forums on Monday to suspend their websites immediately or face criminal prosecution. Several sites, including popular online discussion platform Jamiiforums, have reportedly shut down to avoid prosecution. Reuters reports: Regulations passed in March made it compulsory for bloggers and owners of other online forums such as YouTube channels to register with the government and pay up to $900 for a license. Per capita income in Tanzania is slightly below $900 a year. Digital activists say the law is part of a crackdown on dissent and free speech by the government of President John Magufuli, who was elected in 2015. Government officials argue the new rules are aimed at tackling hate speech and other online crimes, including cyberbullying and pornography. "All unregistered online content providers must be licensed before June 15. Starting from today June 11 until June 15, they are prohibited from posting any new content on their blogs, forums or online radios and televisions," the regulator said in a statement on Monday. The statement said legal action would be taken against any unregistered websites posting new content. Anyone convicted of defying the new regulations faces a fine of at least 5 million shillings ($2,200), imprisonment for a minimum 12 months, or both.

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Wells Fargo customers hoping to use their credit cards to buy Bitcoin will have to look elsewhere. While putting a prohibition on such cryptocurrency purchases for now, Wells Fargo "will continue to evaluate the issue as the market evolves," Shelley Miller, a spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. Wells Fargo joins Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, which limited cryptocurrency purchases on their credit cards in February, citing market volatility and credit risks. Lenders have said they're worried they'd be left on the hook if a borrower lost money on a digital currency bet and couldn't repay. A study conducted by LendEDU last year found that roughly 18 percent of Bitcoin investors used a credit card to fund the purchases. Of those, 22 percent couldn't pay off their balance after buying the digital coin.

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Editing cell genomes with CRISPR-Cas9 might increase the risk of developing cancer, two studies published Monday warn. From a report: Editing cells' genomes with CRISPR-Cas9 might increase the risk that the altered cells, intended to treat disease, will trigger cancer, two studies published on Monday warn -- a potential game-changer for the companies developing CRISPR-based therapies. In the studies, published in Nature Medicine, scientists found that cells whose genomes are successfully edited by CRISPR-Cas9 have the potential to seed tumors inside a patient. That could make some CRISPR'd cells ticking time bombs, according to researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute and, separately, Novartis. CRISPR has already dodged two potentially fatal bullets -- a 2017 claim that it causes sky-high numbers of off-target effects was retracted in March, and a report of human immunity to Cas9 was largely shrugged off as solvable. But experts are taking the cancer-risk finding seriously.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Last year, Canada introduced a new lottery system used to extend permanent-resident status to the parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens. The process was designed to randomly select applicants in order to make the process fairer than the old first-come, first-served system. There's just one problem: the software used to run the lottery isn't actually random. The Globe and Mail reported the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses Microsoft Excel to run the immigration lottery to select 10,000 people for permanent resident status from a field of about 100,000 applications received each year. Experts warned that the random number generating function in Excel isn't actually random and may put some applicants at a disadvantage. First, it's best to understand just how the lottery system works. An Access to Information request filed by The Globe and Mail shows that IRCC inputs the application number for every person entering the lottery into Excel, then assigns them a random number to each using a variation of the program's RAND command. They then sort the list from smallest to largest based on the random number assigned and take the first 10,000 applications with the lowest numbers. The system puts a lot of faith in Excel's random function, which it might not deserve. According to Universite de Montreal computer science professor Pierre L'Ecuyer, Excel is "very bad" at generating random numbers because it relies on an old generator that is out of date. He also warned that Excel doesn't pass statistical tests and is less random than it appears, which means some people in the lottery may actually have a lower chance of being selected than others.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
McGruber writes: Jamie Dupree had been a radio reporter from 1983 until the Spring of 2016, when he lost his voice. His official diagnosis is a rare neurological condition known as "Tongue Protrusion Dystonia" -- for some unknown reason when he tries to talk, his tongue pushes forward out of his mouth, and his throat clenches, leading to a voice that is strangled and strained, as it is a struggle to string together more than a few words at a time. Dupree's plight attracted the attention of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who went to the floor of the House and delivered a speech that publicized Dupree's voice troubles and the lack of answers. Other reporters wrote stories about Dupree and people inside his company, Cox Media Group, tried to find a high tech solution to get him back on the air. They eventually found a Scottish company named CereProc which agreed to sift through years of Dupree's archived audio to build a voice -- which, when paired with a text-to-speech application -- would sound like Dupree and get him back on the radio. Dupree writes that the app works and will allow him to "talk" on the radio again. Starting next week, he will again provide stories to news-talk radio stations and be back on the air in hourly newscasts.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on three Russian individuals and five companies on Monday, saying they had worked with Moscow's military and intelligence services on ways to conduct cyber attacks against the United States and its allies. From a report: "The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russiaâ(TM)s offensive cyber capabilities," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia's cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies," Mnuchin said, using an acronym for Russia's Federal Security Service.

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An anonymous reader shares a column: USB Type-C was billed as the solution for all our future cable needs, unifying power and data delivery with display and audio connectivity, and ushering in an age of the one-size-fits-all cable. Unfortunately for those already invested in the USB Type-C ecosystem, which is anyone who has bought a flagship phone in the past couple of years, the standard has probably failed to live up to the promises. Even the seemingly most basic function of USB Type-C -- powering devices -- has become a mess of compatibility issues, conflicting proprietary standards, and a general lack of consumer information to guide purchasing decisions. The problem is that the features supported by different devices aren't clear, yet the defining principle of the USB Type-C standard makes consumers think everything should just work. The charging example clearly demonstrates a very common frustration with the standard as it currently stands. Moving phones between different chargers, even of the same current and voltage ratings, often won't produce the same charging speeds. Furthermore, picking a third party USB Type-C cable to replace the typically too short included cable can result in losing fast charging capabilities.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Amazon is destroying "massive amounts" of as-new and returned items, raising the ire of the German government and environmental campaigners, local media reported. Fortune: The types of items being destroyed here go way beyond the "health and personal care" products that Amazon has long been destroying when people return them, for sanitary reasons. We're talking things like washing machines, smartphones and furniture. The revelation drew an angry response from the German government and environmental campaigners. "This is a huge scandal," Jochen Flasbarth from the German environment ministry told WirtschaftsWoche. "We are consuming these resources despite all the problems in the world. This approach is not in step with our times." Greenpeace's Kirsten Brodde said there was a need for a new "law on banning the waste and destruction of first-hand and usable goods."

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Rani Molla, writing for Recode: It's finally happening: Next year, people around the world will spend more time online than they do watching TV, according to new data from measurement company Zenith. In 2019, people are expected to spend an average of 170.6 minutes each day on online activities like watching videos on YouTube, sharing photos on Facebook and shopping on Amazon. They'll spend slightly less time -- 170.3 minutes -- watching TV. The global transition from TV to internet as the main entertainment medium was a long time coming, but it also happened faster than expected. Last year, Zenith predicted that TV would still be more popular in 2019 but has since revised its estimates.

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