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South-east Asia’s Internet economy to hit US$50b in 2017, exceed US$200b by 2025: study

SOUTH-EAST Asia’s Internet economy will hit US$50 billion in 2017 and will potentially exceed US$200 billion by 2025, according to new research by Google and Temasek.

The Google-Temasek e-Conomy SEA Spotlight 2017, a report released on Tuesday, has found that the region’s Internet economy is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent, outpacing the 20 per cent 10-year CAGR projected in Google-Temasek e-Conomy SEA, which was released in May last year.

This puts South-east Asia’s Internet economy on “a solid trajectory to exceed US$200 billion by 2025”, said Google and Temasek. Last year, both parties predicted that the region’s Internet economy will grow to US$200 billion by 2025.

All sectors of the Internet economy have experienced “solid growth” in 2017, with e-commerce and ridehailing booming the fastest at a CAGR of over 40 per cent, according to the latest Google-Temasek report.

E-commerce sales will reach US$10.9 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) in 2017, up from US$5.5 billion in 2015, and growing at a CAGR of 41 per cent. The acceleration in sales has been driven by a surge of marketplaces, where small and medium enterprises sell to consumers on mobile-first platforms. Leading players include Lazada, Shopee and Tokopedia, going by the 2017 report.

Ridehailing services will reach US$5.1 billion GMV in 2017, more than double that of the US$2.5 billion in GMV recorded in 2015. Over six million rides per day were booked on the top ridehailing apps (namely Go-Jek, Grab and Uber) in the third quarter of 2017 alone, a more than four-fold increase since 2015.

The Google-Temasek report noted that ridehailing players are expanding to food delivery, courier services and digital payments.

“With the large and growing base of users and drivers on their platforms, ridehailing players are well positioned to become South-east Asia’s horizontal personal services leaders.”

Between 2016 and third-quarter 2017, South-east Asia Internet companies were able to raise more than US$12 billion in capital, up from just US$1 billion in 2015, setting the region well on track to meet the estimated 10-year requirements. In the 2016 Google-Temasek report, it was predicted that US$40-50 billion in investments will be required over a decade for the South-east Asian Internet economy to reach US$200 billion by 2015.

The shortage of homegrown tech talent remains the most pressing challenge for growth, said Google and Temasek in their 2017 report. “There remain areas where continual focus and investments are needed for the region to realise its full potential. In particular, the talent challenge remains largely unsolved.”

South-east Asia’s Internet economy to hit US$50b in 2017, exceed US$200b by 2025: study

SOUTH-EAST Asia’s Internet economy will hit US$50 billion in 2017 and will potentially exceed US$200 billion by 2025, according to new research by Google and Temasek.

The Google-Temasek e-Conomy SEA Spotlight 2017, a report released on Tuesday, has found that the region’s Internet economy is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent, outpacing the 20 per cent 10-year CAGR projected in Google-Temasek e-Conomy SEA, which was released in May last year.

This puts South-east Asia’s Internet economy on “a solid trajectory to exceed US$200 billion by 2025”, said Google and Temasek. Last year, both parties predicted that the region’s Internet economy will grow to US$200 billion by 2025.

All sectors of the Internet economy have experienced “solid growth” in 2017, with e-commerce and ridehailing booming the fastest at a CAGR of over 40 per cent, according to the latest Google-Temasek report.

E-commerce sales will reach US$10.9 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) in 2017, up from US$5.5 billion in 2015, and growing at a CAGR of 41 per cent. The acceleration in sales has been driven by a surge of marketplaces, where small and medium enterprises sell to consumers on mobile-first platforms. Leading players include Lazada, Shopee and Tokopedia, going by the 2017 report.

Ridehailing services will reach US$5.1 billion GMV in 2017, more than double that of the US$2.5 billion in GMV recorded in 2015. Over six million rides per day were booked on the top ridehailing apps (namely Go-Jek, Grab and Uber) in the third quarter of 2017 alone, a more than four-fold increase since 2015.

The Google-Temasek report noted that ridehailing players are expanding to food delivery, courier services and digital payments.

“With the large and growing base of users and drivers on their platforms, ridehailing players are well positioned to become South-east Asia’s horizontal personal services leaders.”

Between 2016 and third-quarter 2017, South-east Asia Internet companies were able to raise more than US$12 billion in capital, up from just US$1 billion in 2015, setting the region well on track to meet the estimated 10-year requirements. In the 2016 Google-Temasek report, it was predicted that US$40-50 billion in investments will be required over a decade for the South-east Asian Internet economy to reach US$200 billion by 2015.

The shortage of homegrown tech talent remains the most pressing challenge for growth, said Google and Temasek in their 2017 report. “There remain areas where continual focus and investments are needed for the region to realise its full potential. In particular, the talent challenge remains largely unsolved.”

LG V30 Signature Edition launches in South Korea with Android 8.0 Oreo, ceramic body, 6 GB RAM

31d23_lg-v30-signature-edition-840x543 LG V30 Signature Edition launches in South Korea with Android 8.0 Oreo, ceramic body, 6 GB RAM


It feels like flagship phones have gotten progressively more expensive recently, perhaps more so than we’ve grown used to. Yet while the likes of Samsung and Apple have pushed the boundaries on pricing, particularly over the past few months, there has always been a higher tier reserved for elite, special edition devices that offer a luxury experience for those with money to burn.

The latest addition to this upper echelon is the LG V30 “Signature Edition”, which goes on sale today exclusively in South Korea. LG has confirmed that it is only producing 300 units of this limited edition version of its flagship phablet, making it quite a collector’s piece for Android aficionados.

As you might expect, the extra-special model won’t be cheap. The folks at ZDNet report that buyers will be expected to pay 2 million won (roughly $1,800) for the privilege of owning the rare hardware. By comparison, that’s more than the iPhone X (1.63 million won, $1,450), the base model Note 8 (1.09 million won, $965), and the vanilla LG V30, which sells for 949,300 KRW ($842).

LG V30 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 8

So, if you can by some incredible miracle get hold of one, is the Signature version worth the extra cash? Personally, I’d lean towards no, as the upgrades on offer, while quite enticing on the surface, don’t exactly make up for the $1,000 price jump over the regular V30.

The biggest change is the phone’s new zirconium ceramic plate build which replaces the standard V30’s glass body. LG says this will make the phone – which is available in Black or White finishes – even more resistant to scratches and marks over time. The Signature Edition’s only other design flourish is the option of having LG laser engrave your name on the phone’s rear. Fancy!

On the hardware front, the ultra-premium phone receives a slight RAM bump from 4 GB to 6 GB and offers 256 GB expandable storage as standard. Otherwise, though, you’re looking at the same specs and features found on the regular V30, including a 6-inch P-OLED FullVision display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC, and a wide-angle dual-camera (16 MP and 13 MP sensors).

The Signature Edition phone – a moniker LG uses for its marquee home entertainment products – also runs Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. While it won’t be too long now until Oreo rolls out to all V30 devices, it’s nevertheless a nice bonus for those shelling out the extra cash. The same could also be said of the Bang Olufsen wired earphones and H5 Bluetooth earphones that come bundled with every purchase.

What do you make of the LG V30 Signature Edition? Is it worth the lavish asking price? Let us know in the comments.

Reopening medical building could transform South Dallas’ health care desert

But Morgan’s hospital project may have the most potential to transform South Dallas. Getting better access to health care is a matter of life and death. 

All of Dallas should be pulling for her success.

What they said

“I wouldn’t call it neglect, but there’s a lot to be said and done about the area’s overall health.” – Dr. Michelle Morgan.

“She’s going to be participating, not only as the investor and developer, but also as one of the operators in the facility. I feel optimistic. With our help, they can get it done.” – Investor Frank Mihalopoulos, Corinth Properties.

What’s your view?

Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.

Reopening medical building could transform South Dallas’ health care desert

But Morgan’s hospital project may have the most potential to transform South Dallas. Getting better access to health care is a matter of life and death. 

All of Dallas should be pulling for her success.

What they said

“I wouldn’t call it neglect, but there’s a lot to be said and done about the area’s overall health.” – Dr. Michelle Morgan.

“She’s going to be participating, not only as the investor and developer, but also as one of the operators in the facility. I feel optimistic. With our help, they can get it done.” – Investor Frank Mihalopoulos, Corinth Properties.

What’s your view?

Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.

South Sudan implements a road map to introduce and institutionalize National Health Accounts

Juba, 1 December 2017 – The Ministry of Health (MoH) with support from the World Health organization (WHO) and partners has commenced the implementation of a road map to introduce and institutionalize National Health Accounts(NHA) in South Sudan. The NHA is a framework for measuring total national health expenditures including public, private, and donors. It provides key indicators that are used to diagnose the ‘financial health’ of the health system. NHAs are the main source of data on money flows in healthcare and are used both for national and international purposes.

NHA in the South Sudan context

In South Sudan, information and evidence on performance of health systems to help managers and policy makers make an informed decision, is very limited or non-existent. As part of the efforts to build the foundations of its health system, the MoH with support from WHO and partners has developed a road map to introduce and institutionalize NHA. The NHA will provide a platform to monitor and evaluate health care interventions, policy design and implementation, and dialogue. This is a key milestone for the health sector and the first of its kind to be conducted in South Sudan.

Dr Samson Baba, Advisor to the Minister on Special Programs, underscored the importance of conducting NHA in South Sudan and noted that the MoH will use the information from the NHA for evidence based decision making and policy formulation, planning and monitoring and evaluation as the MoH and partners move towards Universal Health Coverage. He added that the NHA findings will further be used for advocacy and resource mobilization with health parliamentary committee to increase government allocation to health towards Abuja target.

WHO actions

WHO is committed to supporting the Ministry of Health of South Sudan to fully institutionalize the NHA. Currently WHO is supporting a 5-day training of 15 participants from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and National Bureau of Statistics and partners to equip them with hands on knowledge and skills on NHA production tool and system of health accounts (SHA). WHO will provide technical support to the MoH in data collection and entry, cleaning, analysis, report writing and dissemination.

According to Mr Evans Liyosi, Country Representation a.i. for South Sudan highlighted the contribution of the National Health Accounts to achieving the common health care system goals of equity, efficiency and effectiveness of care.

The NHA will help South Sudan to track the resources as required by some of the global initiatives. These global initiatives include Universal health coverage, the Abuja Declaration 2001 on increasing government financing for health in WHO African region, the Counterpart financing for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), the Decade of Vaccines, and Family Planning 20/20.

Half of South Carolina’s rural ‘Promise Zone’ doesn’t have Internet access. It has a plan to get it.

BARNWELL — She passed it long after the industrial fringe of Columbia, driving on a route that slices through cotton fields and timber stands on its way toward the Savannah River.

She was in one of the poorest corners of the state, and as she zipped through one of the only towns on Highway 3, she found a massive challenge that’s weighing on this region’s efforts to lift itself up: A dead zone.

Her email went dark, and for just a moment, one of the most powerful decisionmakers in the telecommunications industry was face-to-face with a reality that marks daily life in the southern tip of South Carolina.

The dead zone encountered by Mignon Clyburn — one of five Federal Communications Commission members — isn’t all that unusual in rural counties like Barnwell. But spotty cellphone coverage is only the beginning of the telecom problems in the Lowcountry Promise Zone, a six-county region that reaches from Barnwell to Walterboro.

Two in five residents can’t buy broadband Internet because the infrastructure doesn’t exist. Even more say they can’t afford the service available to them because it costs too much, in a region with higher-than-average poverty and unemployment.

That adds up to a stark picture of Internet access in rural South Carolina, according to a report released Monday: A majority of homes don’t have broadband connections. Tens of thousands of people are cut off from the infrastructure of the modern economy.

Leaders fear the disconnect will have lasting effects that could leave the region behind. They see a problem with implications for their residents’ health, education and economic opportunity. Their concerns echo through rural corners of the country from coast to coast.

But unlike most places, they have a plan. Clyburn was on her way to hear about it.

It was Cyber Monday, a day that represents how deep the Internet has burrowed its way into American life. Yet all around the room, documentation highlighted just how deep the digital divide had grown.

Maps showing where broadband providers face no competition. Maps showing where Internet access is slow or nonexistent. Maps showing where the federal government is shoveling money to provide it.

They pointed out large swaths of the region with limited access, population centers that were cut off and huge areas governed by virtual monopolies. To Jim Stritzinger, the man who drew up the maps, they showed something else.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in South Carolina,” Stritzinger told a room of a few dozen politicians, telecom executives and community activists. “We’re here to get after it.”


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Jim Stritzinger, director of Connect South Carolina, stands beside maps outlining where broadband is available in rural Colleton and Bamberg counties. Service is generally spotty outside main towns. Thad Moore/Staff 


By Thad Moore
tmoore@postandcourier.com

Stritzinger is the director of Connect South Carolina, an organization that documents Internet gaps and comes up with ideas to patch them. He was speaking to a room with interests far bigger than broadband access.

The group meets each month in Barnwell to talk through the big-picture problems facing the region — poor health, high poverty, struggling schools. They were assembled three years ago when the Obama administration designated this corner of South Carolina as a “promise zone,” with an offer of extra federal assistance.

Their goals are far-reaching: They want more emergency rooms, more teachers and more affordable housing. They want better infrastructure to increase their chances at luring big employers. They want to reduce poverty and lift the region’s economy.

In broadband access, they see an opportunity to catch up — a chance to “leapfrog” years of limited investment, says Clyburn, who grew up in Charleston. It could connect patients with specialists across the state, give students another way to learn after school and help residents find new jobs. It would be one less stumbling block when a company looks at moving in.

But it’s an opportunity that won’t come easy. It’s hard to make the economics of broadband expansion work when miles of fiber only connect a few customers.

“We knew at this juncture it would be most difficult,” Clyburn said in an interview with The Post and Courier. “The business case is more difficult to be made in areas where there are more cotton plants or corn stalks than people. The investment’s not going to organically flow.”

The FCC is spending tens of millions of dollars to subsidize Internet access in rural parts of the Palmetto State, but federal money alone won’t close the gaps, says Clyburn, a Democratic appointee who’s now the agency’s longest-serving commissioner.

Telecom companies like ATT and CenturyLink are getting $16 million a year to connect South Carolina’s countryside. They have another three years to reach nearly 50,000 homes and businesses here.

“What we are enabling is a very necessary epicenter of opportunities,” Clyburn said. “It is very much that seed that must be in place for the rest of these opportunities to grow.”

But, she warns, it isn’t everything.


+3 

Mignon Clyburn of South Carolina is the longest-serving member of the Federal Communications Commission. Thad Moore/Staff

And anyway, Stritzinger says, the region doesn’t have time to wait for slow work of infrastructure development — for towers to rise and cables to be buried.

Not with children coming home from school without Internet access. Not with patients who already need better access to medical care.

That’s why Stritzinger says he’s focused on short-term fixes — building a “bridge to the future,” he calls it.

He wants to use existing afterschool programs to set up “homework hotspots” for students to study with Internet access. He wants to focus hard on connecting doctors’ offices and setting up telehealth centers. He wants to promote underused programs that subsidize broadband connections for poor families.

They also strike at a key goal of his broadband plan — to demonstrate the value of a good Internet connection and drum up more interest in buying one. Without community buy-in, he says, it won’t do any good to advocate for more infrastructure.

“Beating the drum on that and getting people to sign up — I mean, the best way to encourage the installation of more stuff is to get the stuff that has been installed used,” Stritzinger says. “That’s the thing that’s most likely to inspire the providers to build more.”

And local governments want providers to build more. They can’t do it on their own — state law blocks towns from developing their own broadband networks — but they can dangle a low-cost incentive in front of telecom companies: Water towers.

Stritzinger’s idea is to map every tall structure in the Promise Zone — water tanks, radio transmitters, phone towers. He thinks they hold the key to connecting rural South Carolina.

From the right vantage point, telecom companies could beam Internet service to homes miles away, rather than lay fiber. The idea is to take a page from satellite Internet, but with broadband beamed from water towers instead of space.


+3 

Barnwell County is one of six counties along the Savannah River designated as a federal “promise zone” that receives special status for grants. The region hopes to use water towers to expand its broadband infrastructure. File/Wade Spees/Staff


Wade Spees

The technology, known as fixed wireless, is becoming increasingly common in South Carolina. Dallas-based ATT is using FCC subsidies to install new transmitters on its towers. It fired up Internet service last week in parts of Bamberg and Barnwell counties.

The possibility has picked up momentum in towns like Estill, where about 2,000 residents have no access to high-speed Internet. It’s one of the largest communities in the Promise Zone that lacks broadband.

Mayor Corrin Bowers says the slow service in his town means he spends extra time waiting to download data from his farm equipment. It means his wife, a teacher, sometimes stays up late because it takes so long to research her lesson plans. It means her students have to give up play time to finish their homework.

So Estill officials have started thinking about leasing space atop their water towers to Internet providers, hoping they might unlock better service. Bowers says he wants to get a project in motion next year.

He’s not alone. Half an hour away, the lack of a broadband connection at Hampton County’s industrial park has made it awkward to pitch businesses on moving in, county administrator Rose Dobson-Elliott says. The “absolutely horrible” cell service gives it away every time, she says.

Dobson-Elliott was sitting in Barnwell when the Promise Zone’s Internet plan was laid out — water towers and all. She had a similar project in mind: The county is looking at building an above-ground tank for its industrial park, and she says she’d like to fit it with transmitters.

“That would help that area — not just for the businesses, but for our citizens out there as well,” Dobson-Elliott says. “That’s an area of our county where we definitely need it.”

And if they get it, one more dead zone would be wiped from the map.

South Korea’s loudspeakers blast North Korea with word of defecting soldier’s ill health

South Korea’s high-decibel loudspeakers on the border with longtime foe North Korea have at times blasted messages intended to inform, agitate, or taunt people on the other side.

The nation’s latest blaring border announcement says that one of communist North Korea’s soldiers defected two weeks ago in a daring afternoon escape at the most sensitive and closely monitored section of the 150-mile border separating the two countries.

The messages proclaim that the soldier — who was shot at least four times as he dashed over a military demarcation line and has been treated at a hospital near Seoul — is expected to recover from his injuries, according to South Korean military officials. The sound clips also say the soldier suffered from life-threatening malnutrition.

Officials said that while treating his gunshot wounds, doctors discovered that the soldier, 24, suffered from tuberculosis, hepatitis B and parasitic worms. After days in intensive care, the soldier — whose family name is Oh — was to be moved to a general recovery room.

Seven-time South Bay Tetris world champion builds Internet stardom brick by brick

A 1980s-era video game has propelled seven-time Classic Tetris world champion Jonas Neubauer into a burgeoning Internet star whose blindingly fast contests are watched on his own channel by paying subscribers from around the world on the gaming app and website Twitch.tv.

The 30-something tasting room manager for Torrance’s Strand Brewing claimed his third consecutive world championship — and seventh overall — last month in Portland, Oregon.

Indeed, during the last seven years competitive video gaming has grown from niche geek hobby into cool mainstream spectator sport — yes, sport, insist devotees — with retro Tetris leading the way.

The deceptively simple, yet addictive video game involves stacking block-shaped tiles as they randomly fall at ever-greater speeds against an opponent, tapping into the human desire to create order from chaos.

If you were unaware of Tetris until now, you probably are virtually alone; Tetris is the world’s top-selling  downloaded video game, its place in history cemented by the ubiquitous Nintendo Gameboy that has sold more than 100 million units since its 1989 introduction.

Its modern-day allure — there are newer versions of Tetris, but it’s the classic version that holds the most appeal — involves an element of childhood nostalgia, much like watching a brand-new “Star Wars” movie, but recalling the beloved original at the same time, said Highland Park resident BJ Handelman, a subscriber to Neubauer’s Twitch channel.

“If you grew up playing Tetris, then that’s the Tetris you identify with,” he said. “When I was a kid, everyone knew Tetris, everyone played Tetris. I played Tetris, my parents played Tetris, my grandparents played Tetris.

“(Tetris has) the same allure to watching basketball,” Handelman added. “Everyone knows how to play basketball, but you can’t play basketball like LeBron James. I could never play Tetris like Jonas, but it’s fun watching him do it.”

Indeed, elite Tetris players almost literally pick up where mere enthusiasts leave off.

Handelman said he’s able to progress from level nine to 19; that’s when the likes of Neubauer are just getting warmed up and move from there to level 29 at ever-dizzying speeds that require intense concentration.

Neubauer, for example, overcame his blink reflex during competition, which leaves him in a state of what he describes as “decision-making exhaustion” afterward.

An eye doctor and Tetris fan even warned him about the possible physical dangers of that so Neubauer now incorporates the regular use of eye drops into his training regimen.

Online,Tetris streaming has exploded in popularity in the last couple of years.

Much like poker, simple improvements like putting a camera on each competitor’s face and video game screen at the same time has heightened the drama, while expert commentary helps newbies clue in.

Last year, YouTube gave the world championships a boost with a recommendation, which resulted in millions in views.

Incidentally, this year’s final, which involved an unprecedented Neubauer come back will go up online Nov. 29.

“It would be like the Dodgers coming back from their five-run deficit in the World Series in the ninth inning,” he said. “I was down by 160,000-something points in the first game of the final and charged back to win it.

“It was an an emotional, very tense, win,” Neubauer added.

Strand Brewing will host at 1 p.m. Dec. 2 an informal gathering of gamers that will play Tetris games streamed on Neubauer’s NubbinsGoody channel. Spectators are welcome. And, for a modest fee, the world champ will evaluate your Tetris game online, offering tips and insights on ways to improve.

“I will evaluate Tetris games that you upload to YouTube or Twitch and give you play by play analysis,” Neubauer said. “I never thought I’d have have subscribers, so on the fly I had to come up with a benefit to somebody paying me $5 a month to watch me.

“It’s just a really tight-knit community; its a bunch of like-minded individuals,” he added. “I’ve noticed that a lot of my viewers are Rubik’s Cube experts so there’s just something about puzzles that resonates with my fan base. It’s international — there’s a strong amount of people from Turkey, Belgium, Australia, Indonesia, England and a Scandinavian contingent.”

One donated $1,500 to Neubauer via Twitch, so while he’s not quitting his day job to turn pro full time, it’s handy pocket money.

Not surprisingly, Neubauer has no immediate plans to quit playing competitively, although it’s getting more difficult by the year to continue his string of world titles that began in 2010 and were only interrupted once — in the year he got married.

“Because of the exposure of the tournament the pressure has just been increasing,” Neubauer said. “It was inevitable it would draw in an audience because the drama is right there in front of you. Each match is not too long and you get involved, you get invested in the players.

“My goals have changed over the years,” he added. “I used to want to win every time, but now I really just want to show what I can do what’s possible in Tetris and have fun. I don’t need to win, but winning is usually a byproduct of those two things.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google faces inquiry in South Korea over gathering location data from Android phones

After Google reportedly confirmed the practice of gathering location data from Android devices even when the service was disabled by users, regulators in South Korea summoned representatives of the tech giant this week for questioning.

27d66_google-reuters-380p Google faces inquiry in South Korea over gathering location data from Android phones

Google. Reuters.

Data protection officials in Britain are also looking into the matter, CNNMoney reported on 24 November. The probe in South Korea follows a report by Quartz which found that Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby mobile towers — even when location services are disabled — and sending that data back to Google.

This makes search engine giant and the unit of Alphabet behind Android to have access to huge amount of data that invades their privacy. Users cannot opt out of this even when their devices are factory reset, the report said.

Google reportedly confirmed the move which was undertaken “to improve the speed and performance of message delivery”. The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) “is carrying out an inquiry into the claims that Google collected users’ Cell ID data without consent even when their smartphone’s location service was inactive,” Chun Ji-hyun, head of KCC’s privacy infringement division, told CNNMoney on 24 November.

Google said Android phones are no longer requesting Cell ID codes, and collection should be phased out this month.

Seven-time South Bay Tetris world champion builds Internet stardom brick by brick

A 1980s-era video game has propelled seven-time Classic Tetris world champion Jonas Neubauer into a burgeoning Internet star whose blindingly fast contests are watched on his own channel by paying subscribers from around the world on the gaming app and website Twitch.tv.

The 30-something tasting room manager for Torrance’s Strand Brewing claimed his third consecutive world championship — and seventh overall — last month in Portland, Oregon.

Indeed, during the last seven years competitive video gaming has grown from niche geek hobby into cool mainstream spectator sport — yes, sport, insist devotees — with retro Tetris leading the way.

The deceptively simple, yet addictive video game involves stacking block-shaped tiles as they randomly fall at ever-greater speeds against an opponent, tapping into the human desire to create order from chaos.

If you were unaware of Tetris until now, you probably are virtually alone; Tetris is the world’s top-selling  downloaded video game, its place in history cemented by the ubiquitous Nintendo Gameboy that has sold more than 100 million units since its 1989 introduction.

Its modern-day allure — there are newer versions of Tetris, but it’s the classic version that holds the most appeal — involves an element of childhood nostalgia, much like watching a brand-new “Star Wars” movie, but recalling the beloved original at the same time, said Highland Park resident BJ Handelman, a subscriber to Neubauer’s Twitch channel.

“If you grew up playing Tetris, then that’s the Tetris you identify with,” he said. “When I was a kid, everyone knew Tetris, everyone played Tetris. I played Tetris, my parents played Tetris, my grandparents played Tetris.

“(Tetris has) the same allure to watching basketball,” Handelman added. “Everyone knows how to play basketball, but you can’t play basketball like LeBron James. I could never play Tetris like Jonas, but it’s fun watching him do it.”

Indeed, elite Tetris players almost literally pick up where mere enthusiasts leave off.

Handelman said he’s able to progress from level nine to 19; that’s when the likes of Neubauer are just getting warmed up and move from there to level 29 at ever-dizzying speeds that require intense concentration.

Neubauer, for example, overcame his blink reflex during competition, which leaves him in a state of what he describes as “decision-making exhaustion” afterward.

An eye doctor and Tetris fan even warned him about the possible physical dangers of that so Neubauer now incorporates the regular use of eye drops into his training regimen.

Online,Tetris streaming has exploded in popularity in the last couple of years.

Much like poker, simple improvements like putting a camera on each competitor’s face and video game screen at the same time has heightened the drama, while expert commentary helps newbies clue in.

Last year, YouTube gave the world championships a boost with a recommendation, which resulted in millions in views.

Incidentally, this year’s final, which involved an unprecedented Neubauer come back will go up online Nov. 29.

“It would be like the Dodgers coming back from their five-run deficit in the World Series in the ninth inning,” he said. “I was down by 160,000-something points in the first game of the final and charged back to win it.

“It was an an emotional, very tense, win,” Neubauer added.

Strand Brewing will host at 1 p.m. Dec. 2 an informal gathering of gamers that will play Tetris games streamed on Neubauer’s NubbinsGoody channel. Spectators are welcome. And, for a modest fee, the world champ will evaluate your Tetris game online, offering tips and insights on ways to improve.

“I will evaluate Tetris games that you upload to YouTube or Twitch and give you play by play analysis,” Neubauer said. “I never thought I’d have have subscribers, so on the fly I had to come up with a benefit to somebody paying me $5 a month to watch me.

“It’s just a really tight-knit community; its a bunch of like-minded individuals,” he added. “I’ve noticed that a lot of my viewers are Rubik’s Cube experts so there’s just something about puzzles that resonates with my fan base. It’s international — there’s a strong amount of people from Turkey, Belgium, Australia, Indonesia, England and a Scandinavian contingent.”

One donated $1,500 to Neubauer via Twitch, so while he’s not quitting his day job to turn pro full time, it’s handy pocket money.

Not surprisingly, Neubauer has no immediate plans to quit playing competitively, although it’s getting more difficult by the year to continue his string of world titles that began in 2010 and were only interrupted once — in the year he got married.

“Because of the exposure of the tournament the pressure has just been increasing,” Neubauer said. “It was inevitable it would draw in an audience because the drama is right there in front of you. Each match is not too long and you get involved, you get invested in the players.

“My goals have changed over the years,” he added. “I used to want to win every time, but now I really just want to show what I can do what’s possible in Tetris and have fun. I don’t need to win, but winning is usually a byproduct of those two things.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iPhone X Will Cost Over $2100 in Brazil When Released in South America Next Month

Apple has updated its website to indicate that the iPhone X launches in three additional Latin American countries in early December.


Namely, the iPhone X will be released in Colombia starting December 1, Chile on December 7, and Brazil on December 8. The device will be available from select carriers and authorized resellers in each country.

In Brazil, the iPhone X will also be on display and available to purchase from the country’s two Apple Stores at VillageMall in Rio de Janeiro and the Morumbi shopping center in São Paulo. Inventory will likely be extremely limited.

iPhone X will start at 6,999 Brazilian reals in Brazil, the equivalent of slightly more than $2,150 USD based on current exchange rates. That’s more than double the iPhone X’s starting price of $999 in the United States.

Apple’s prices in Brazil being significantly higher than in the United States is partly the result of the country’s 60 percent duty on imported products valued up to $3,000, and likely other factors such as stricter labor laws.

Apple hasn’t provided iPhone X pricing information for Chile or Colombia, or release dates for other countries in South America.

iPhone X first launched November 3 in the United States and over 50 other countries. The device was also released in Israel today and arrives in 13 additional countries, including Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, and Turkey, tomorrow.

iPhone X orders on Apple’s website now ship in an estimated 1-2 weeks around the world, down from 5-6 weeks after the device first launched.

Two big South Carolina health care systems finalize a deal to combine operations

Two of South Carolina’s largest hospital systems said Tuesday that their previously announced business partnership has been finalized ahead of schedule.

The yet-to-be-named nonprofit company is now operating as the parent organization of Palmetto Health of Columbia and Greenville Health System, making it the largest private employer in the state.

The two providers initially said their partnership would take effect in 2018. Tammie Epps, a spokeswoman for Palmetto Health, said the necessary approvals were completed sooner than expected.

“We thought that was going to happen at the beginning of the year,” Epps said Tuesday. “But we’re finished.”

The Upstate and Midlands health care systems were waiting on approval from the Federal Trade Commission. The finalized deal is said to be the biggest hospital merger in South Carolina history. Yet officials have said the new arrangement is not technically a “merger,” because one organization is not absorbing the other.

The CEOs of Palmetto Health and Greenville Health — Charles D. Beaman Jr. and Michael C. Riordan, respectively — will be co-chief executives of the new nonprofit and will share leadership roles. Patients will not be immediately affected, according to a written statement.

“Patients will continue to be patients of Greenville Health System or Palmetto Health,” according to a statement.

The deal comes at a difficult time for the industry, as a Republican-held Congress remains committed to overhauling the U.S. health care system. Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed this year, but GOP leaders have said they will try again in 2018.

The South Carolina partnership was formed partly in response to “a challenging health care environment,” according to the written statement. 

The combined company said its goals include addressing the rising costs of medical care, the poor availability of care in rural areas and South Carolina’s poor health outcomes overall. It has also named a board of directors.

Epps said a brand for the new 2,800-bed hospital system is still being developed. The combined providers are expected to generate about $4 billion in annual revenue, employ about 28,000 workers and provide care to about 1.2 million patients a year.

Weapons, computer, TV taken from South Peoria home

PEORIA — A rifle, shotgun, gun safe and computers were taken from a South Peoria house late Saturday night, according to a report filed at the Peoria Police Department.

The burglary was noticed at 11:30 p.m. by the resident who was renting the home, in the 1900 block of West Griswold Street. The resident said she had left home about 10 p.m. When she returned about 11:30 p.m., the back door was open. Inside, she found a mattress overturned, couches knocked over and the entire house ransacked, the report said.

A 42-inch TV was taken, as was a PlayStation and a DVD player. Clothing including several suits also were taken, the resident said. A computer and monitor were missing from a rear bedroom. Located in the kitchen were two rifles which the resident’s brother, from whom she was renting, said should have been in the gun safe on the second floor.

Missing were another rifle and the shotgun. The homeowner and the resident believed the two rifles were left in the kitchen by the burglar who had dropped them on the way out, the report said.

Police made no arrests Tuesday.

 

 

 

How M-Net wants internet pirates to be dealt with in South Africa

M-Net, Safact and film producers want ISPs to actively issue warnings to file sharers and copyright infringers in the country – while also blocking access to infringing sites.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has been presenting its responses to submissions received on the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, and dozens of parties across a number of industries gave their thoughts on the bill, including Cell C, MTN, Vodacom, Telkom, R2K, Liquid Telecom and Deloitte.

While the majority of comments focused on concerns surrounding cyber-security, the bill itself, and how it will affect South Africa’s internet, one of the more interesting comments focused on piracy in South Africa.

A comment submitted by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations, Safact and M-Net highlighted concerns that government was not doing enough to combat piracy.

“A balanced approach to address the massive copyright infringement on the Internet is necessary,” the parties said in a comment.

“It is proposed that measures should be introduced to enable local internet service providers to act against copyright infringements.

“It is suggested that South Africa should consider adopting technology-neutral ‘no fault’ enforcement legislation that would enable intermediaries to take action against online infringements, in line with Article 8.3 of the EU Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC), which addresses copyright infringement through site blocking.”

The parties further said that new legislation was needed to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to cooperate with rights-holders. They also requested that the take down process under section 77 of the ECTA be made less time consuming and less intrusive.

“Obligations should be imposed on ISPs to co-operate with rights-holders and Government to police illegal filesharing or streaming websites and to issue warnings to end-users identified as engaging in illegal file-sharing and to block infringing content,” they said.

“This should be remedied in the Bill or the ECTA should be amended in the Schedule to the Bill,” it said.

The department responded to the comment by stating that the Cybersecurity Bill does not deal with copyright infringements, and that they were better suited for the Copyright Amendment Bill which is also currently before parliament.

f2654_CyberSecurity How M-Net wants internet pirates to be dealt with in South Africa


Read: Multichoice and M-Net warn that piracy is going up, and local content is going down

How M-Net wants internet pirates to be dealt with in South Africa

M-Net, Safact and film producers want ISPs to actively issue warnings to file sharers and copyright infringers in the country – while also blocking access to infringing sites.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has been presenting its responses to submissions received on the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, and dozens of parties across a number of industries gave their thoughts on the bill, including Cell C, MTN, Vodacom, Telkom, R2K, Liquid Telecom and Deloitte.

While the majority of comments focused on concerns surrounding cyber-security, the bill itself, and how it will affect South Africa’s internet, one of the more interesting comments focused on piracy in South Africa.

A comment submitted by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations, Safact and M-Net highlighted concerns that government was not doing enough to combat piracy.

“A balanced approach to address the massive copyright infringement on the Internet is necessary,” the parties said in a comment.

“It is proposed that measures should be introduced to enable local internet service providers to act against copyright infringements.

“It is suggested that South Africa should consider adopting technology-neutral ‘no fault’ enforcement legislation that would enable intermediaries to take action against online infringements, in line with Article 8.3 of the EU Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC), which addresses copyright infringement through site blocking.”

The parties further said that new legislation was needed to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to cooperate with rights-holders. They also requested that the take down process under section 77 of the ECTA be made less time consuming and less intrusive.

“Obligations should be imposed on ISPs to co-operate with rights-holders and Government to police illegal filesharing or streaming websites and to issue warnings to end-users identified as engaging in illegal file-sharing and to block infringing content,” they said.

“This should be remedied in the Bill or the ECTA should be amended in the Schedule to the Bill,” it said.

The department responded to the comment by stating that the Cybersecurity Bill does not deal with copyright infringements, and that they were better suited for the Copyright Amendment Bill which is also currently before parliament.

75478_CyberSecurity How M-Net wants internet pirates to be dealt with in South Africa


Read: Multichoice and M-Net warn that piracy is going up, and local content is going down

Almost two out of every three South Africans now connected to internet

South African internet users are split in the middle between men and women.

The research found six out of every 10 South Africans used smartphones compared to 47% in 2014. Just under one out of four (24%) South Africans used computers. Tablet usage was just more than one out of 10 (12%).

Just more than four out of 10 South Africans use only a smartphone‚ computer or tablet while 16% used two of these devices and 7% used all three.

Almost four out of five South Africans (79%) access the internet on their smartphone as often as on their computer.

About 2.5 million South Africans shop online which Google said is “only set to continue to grow”.

“In the future we can expect more connected devices‚ continued adoption of new technologies and the digital assistant becoming part of everyday life‚” Google said.

 

South Africa’s Internet penetration at 65% – Google

Google has announced the results of its Connected Consumer Study.

It found that 65% of South Africans over the age of 16 are now online.

The study defines Internet penetration as the local population over 16 who use the Internet at home for private purposes.

South Africa’s Internet penetration is higher than Kenya (53%) and Nigeria (63%).

The demographic of people aged 25–34 makes up 33% of South Africa’s online population.

People between the ages of 16-34 make up 60% of connected South Africans, which is higher than the global average – 34%.

South Africa’s online population is split 50/50 between men and women, which fits in with global trends.

Around 65% of South Africans access the Internet on a daily basis, while globally the statistic is 87%.

“Even the 55+ use the Internet frequently, with 85% reporting that they access the Internet daily,” said Google.

Now read: Higher Internet penetration means better GDP growth

Apple iPhone X sells out in minutes in South Korea

Apple has sold out the iPhone X in South Korea – LG and Samsung’s home market.

South Korea’s biggest carrier – SK Telecom – has confirmed that it has exhausted all of its iPhone X pre-order stock in 3 minutes – in contrast, the initial iPhone 7 stock took 20 minutes a year ago.

e4f86_gsmarena_001 Apple iPhone X sells out in minutes in South Korea

SK Telecom has said to Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that it had less than half as many iPhone X units as it had iPhone 8 ones and that the silver iPhone X took about 1 minute to sell out in pre-orders.

Industry analysts estimate that around 150,000 iPhone X units were allocated to South Korea.

According to analysts the iPhone 8 series had around 60-70% of the interest of the iPhone 7 series – probably due to the iPhone X’s arrival to market.

It seems interest in the iPhone X is strong in South Korea, despite the smartphone carrying a big price premium compared to its Stateside price – Korean buyers are charged around $1,237 for the base 64GB model, compared to the $999 US price.

Source

South Park: Phone Destroyer comes to iOS and Android

5b489_south-park-phone-destroyer South Park: Phone Destroyer comes to iOS and Android

South Park: Phone Destroyer


Ubisoft

South Park: Phone Destroyer is now available for Android and iOS devices.

The free-to-play role-playing card game lets you play as some of the most well known characters from the animated series, including Kenny, Eric, Kyle and Stan.

5b489_south-park-phone-destroyer South Park: Phone Destroyer comes to iOS and Android

The game offers real-time PvP battles as well as a single player story, which has been created in collaboration with South Park Digital Studios.

Players can collect and upgrade over 80 cards with optional in-app purchases for greater rewards.

Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here’s your place for the lighter side of tech.

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