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Genesee County Health Department starts hotline as Hepatitis A cases rise

GENESEE COUNTY, MI – The Genesee County Health Department has established a hotline as the number of recent Hepatitis A cases associated with an outbreak in southeast Michigan continue to grow.

A Tuesday, Dec. 12, statement from the health department notes eight cases of Hepatitis A have been confirmed in Genesee County since the beginning of 2017, with seven of those having occurred since Oct. 1.

Dating back to Aug. 1, 2016, more than 580 cases have been associated with the outbreak in 17 counties and one in the Jackson Department of Corrections. The outbreak has included 20 deaths.

Hepatitis A case in Genesee County linked to Michigan outbreak

Danielle Steplowski, an epidemiologist with the Genesee County Health Department, said there has been no common source found between the cases in the county thus far.

“We have had some cases spread between person to person,” she commented.

Genesee County typically experiences zero to six Hepatitis A cases a year, with Steplowski calling the recent figures “unusual.”

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus and most commonly spread person to person.

The disease is often passed along by the fecal to oral route, meaning someone ingesting something – such as food or water – contaminated with the feces of an infected person, as well as during sex or living with an infected person.

Symptoms including dark urine, abdominal pain, diarrhea, yellowing of the skin or eyes, fever, nausea, headache, loss of appetite and typically appear one month after exposure. 

Those most at risk of contracting the infection include those living with, having sex with, or sharing illegal drugs with someone who has Hepatitis A.

Of the 583 cases reported statewide by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, including four in Lapeer County, 482 cases have resulted in hospitalization.

Steplowski noted the disease has a 15- to 50-day incubation period which can make it difficult to track.

“That’s why it’s so important people get vaccinated,” she said

The vaccination is 95 percent effective if given before or within two weeks of exposure, according to the health department.

Other preventative measures include washing hands before preparing or eating meals, after using the bathroom or changing diapers; using your own towels, utensils, toothbrush and not sharing food, drinks, cigarettes; and, not having sex with someone who has contracted the virus.

Residents are urged to contact their personal care physician or the county health department’s immunization center if they believe they may have contracted the disease.

The state set up an emergency center in November to coordinate services and track the disease.

A Hepatitis A hotline has been set up at 810-257-3048 to provide information on the outbreak and immunizations. Suspected and confirmed Hepatitis A cases should be reported to the Genesee Health Department at 810-257-1017. 

Additional information on Hepatitis A is available on the county health department’s website here. Weekly updates on the outbreak are available on the MDHHS website here

Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches

Some users have been seeing these green suggestions when performing a search on the Play Store app for almost a year, but the feature began rolling out more widely in June (I still don’t have it). However, it only seemed to provide keywords to further specify your search, not proper filters to separate the results according to price. Now it looks like Google is testing the latter kind.

Reader teh Jax is seeing “free” and “premium” filters among the options when he performs a search on the Play Store. Sometimes, they show up from the first go, like here:

d00a6_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches d00a6_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches

Other times it takes a first step of narrowing down to get them to show up, like when looking for an MP3 player:

d00a6_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches d00a6_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches

The behavior isn’t super consistent though. As teh Jax pointed out, some searches don’t show the “free” and “premium” filters at all, like in the cases below:

d00a6_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches d00a6_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches d00a6_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches d00a6_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches

I’m also a little intrigued by the “top rated” and “no ads” filters that are showing up in some of these searches as well. As far as I recall, those weren’t there previously either, but I could be mistaken.

These filters are so useful that it baffles me that Google has taken this long to add them, and they’re still server-side enabled for only some users. Ugh. Goodness now Google, for a search company that knows exactly which results to surface, the Play Store searches are absolute garbage. Filters for free, premium, IAPs or not, ratings, download numbers, ads or not, and category should be mandatory to make the gazillion titles easy to parse through.

Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches

Some users have been seeing these green suggestions when performing a search on the Play Store app for almost a year, but the feature began rolling out more widely in June (I still don’t have it). However, it only seemed to provide keywords to further specify your search, not proper filters to separate the results according to price. Now it looks like Google is testing the latter kind.

Reader teh Jax is seeing “free” and “premium” filters among the options when he performs a search on the Play Store. Sometimes, they show up from the first go, like here:

c9c07_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches c9c07_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches

Other times it takes a first step of narrowing down to get them to show up, like when looking for an MP3 player:

c9c07_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches c9c07_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches

The behavior isn’t super consistent though. As teh Jax pointed out, some searches don’t show the “free” and “premium” filters at all, like in the cases below:

c9c07_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches c9c07_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches c9c07_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches c9c07_nexus2cee_play-store-free-paid-2-329x658 Google Play Store starts showing free and premium filters for searches

I’m also a little intrigued by the “top rated” and “no ads” filters that are showing up in some of these searches as well. As far as I recall, those weren’t there previously either, but I could be mistaken.

These filters are so useful that it baffles me that Google has taken this long to add them, and they’re still server-side enabled for only some users. Ugh. Goodness now Google, for a search company that knows exactly which results to surface, the Play Store searches are absolute garbage. Filters for free, premium, IAPs or not, ratings, download numbers, ads or not, and category should be mandatory to make the gazillion titles easy to parse through.

Android Today: Huawei Starts Rolling Out Oreo Update For Honor 9 and Honor V9, Asus ZenFone 4 To Get In December

After rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo update for the Mate 9, Mate 9 Pro and Porsche Design Mate 9, Huawei has now added two more smartphones to the list.

Today, the Honor 9 and Honor V9 are getting the Oreo treat in China. Huawei confirmed that the Honor 9 and Honor V9 users who were enrolled in the beta program will be getting the update first and it will then be coming to other users. However, it all is starting today therefore Android 8.0 Oreo will debut on every unit of Honor 9 and Honor V9 within this week in China.

7e278_IMG_0735-2-86x60 Android Today: Huawei Starts Rolling Out Oreo Update For Honor 9 and Honor V9, Asus ZenFone 4 To Get In DecemberRelated Honor 7X Hands-On: Almost Bezel-less Premium Handset At Budget Pricing

For now, the update is limited to China, but a global push is expected to kick off by the end of this month. It’s worth noting that Honor 8 Pro users will also get the update as it is the global version of the Honor V9. Besides, Huawei’s Oreo update brings the software version to EMUI 8.0 from its Nougat-based EMUI 5.1 version. With Oreo update, the Honor 9 and Honor V9 (Honor 8 Pro) will get much-talked-about Oreo features like Autofill, picture-in-picture, redesigned Settings app, notification options, and more.

Asus ZenFone 4 to get Android 8.0 Oreo update in December

Following other OEMs, Asus is also gearing up to offer Oreo treat to its smartphones. Today, the company announced that it will be rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo update to its mid-range smartphone, the ZenFone 4. Eventually, all ZenFone 3 and ZenFone 4 will be receiving the update.

Earlier this week, Asus pushed ZenUI 4.0 to the ZenFone 4 Max. The company today announced that it will be rolling Android 8.0 update to its standard ZenFone 4 (ZE554KL) model in December. We don’t know the exact release date yet, but it will arrive sometime this month. For the rest of the ZenFone series phones (there are just so many!) we can assume that the update should arrive sometime next year.

Asus has been pretty discreet about the update timeline for the smartphones in the ZenFone lineup. The company has not made it clear how it is going to go ahead with the update cycle for the rest of the phones. As for the ZenFone 4, the update will first reach the unlocked version and will then move on to the carrier units.

Android 8.1 starts rolling out to Nexus and Pixel devices

If you have one of Google’s latest handsets, 8.1 unlocks the Pixel Visual Core chip so that third-party apps can take advantage of the Pixel 2’s AI-powered photography. In theory, any app that uses the standard Android camera platform can take richer photos and spare you from having to switch apps.

You don’t need one of the newer phones to see the other benefits. Android 8.1 includes a neural network toolkit that lets apps run TensorFlow Lite and other AI frameworks on-device, instead of leaning on a distant server. Apps can make better use of autofill forms, and there’s an obligatory round of bug fixes.

When other devices get Android 8.1 is up in the air. Many major Android phone makers are only just testing 8.0 updates, and they might not want to delay things further by evaluating 8.1. In some cases, you may stand a better chance of getting 8.1 through a brand new device.

Apple Pay Cash starts rolling out to iPhone users in the US


18a51_apple-pay-cash Apple Pay Cash starts rolling out to iPhone users in the US

Apple Pay Cash is finally starting to roll out to users in the States, bringing the ability to send other iOS users payments directly through iMessage. The update is arriving piece by piece to those who’ve downloaded iOS 11.2, which launched two days back with a not-yet-live version of the feature.

Apple Pay Cash was announced back in June at WWDC. However, the company added ahead of iOS 11’s September launch that the feature would be “coming this fall with an update to iOS 11 and watchOS 4,” and while it was intended to launch alongside 11.2, this weekend’s early arrival of the operating system left it behind, as the company worked to push the software live, seemingly in order to address an issue that was causing some iPhones to randomly reboot.

The new feature is a proprietary take on mobile payment apps like Venmo, PayPal and Square Cash, allowing money to be transferred to friends and family in a message or using Siri. Money sent is drawn from the credit or debit card tied to a user’s Apple Wallet. When it’s received on the other side, it shows up as an Apple Pay Cash card — sort of a virtual gift card, also stored in the Apple Wallet.

That money can then be transferred to the bank or kept on the device as a gift card, where it can be spent anywhere that accepts Apple Pay. It’s an added convenience, bringing all of that functionality directly to iMessage, rather than having to mess about with a third-party app. But for Apple, it’s also a way to rope in users who have been reluctant to install Apple Pay, and keep people in the iMessage ecosystem.

The feature appears to still be rolling out in pieces here in the States. No word yet on a time frame for international expansion.

HTC U11 Life Starts Receiving Android 8.0 Oreo Update

Days after a similar update debuted for the U11, HTC U11 Life has now started receiving an Android Oreo update. HTC launched the U11 Life as its new affordable smartphone earlier this year with Android Nougat operating system.

HTC Vice President for Product Management Mo Versi on Thursday announced the release of the Android Oreo update for its U11 Life. Versi in a tweet confirmed that the update is initially rolling out for the unlocked version of the U11 Life smartphone. “HTC U11 Life unlocked customers! You’re next with Oreo! It’s available to download starting today![sic]” the executive tweeted.

If you own an unlocked HTC U11 Life, you can check the arrival of the latest Android Oreo update by going to Settings About phone System updates. The update is also expected to be available on carrier-locked U11 Life in the coming weeks. However, HTC hasn’t provided any concrete details.

Last month, the flagship HTC U11 received its Android 8.0 Oreo update. The update was initially rolled out in Taiwan with core Oreo features such as faster boot times, notification dots, auto fill and smart text selections, redesigned settings, and picture-in-picture (PiP) mode among others. All these features are likely to be available on U11 Life through the new Android version.

The HTC U11 Life comes in two variants – while its US version has HTC Sense on top of Android Nougat, the company also has an Android One model for global markets that runs stock Android Oreo out of the box. Both variants have same hardware specifications, including a 5.2-inch full-HD Super LCD panel and Snapdragon 630 SoC. The handset has a 16-megapixel PDAF camera with BSI sensor and f/2.0 aperture on the back, whereas a 16-megapixel camera sensor is available on the front. Also, it has up to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage and packs a 2600mAh battery with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 support. The smartphone comes to the US market with a price tag of $349 (approximately Rs. 22,500).

New group pregnancy care program starts at health department.

Women receiving prenatal care at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department will now do so together, in supportive pregnancy groups meant to increase participation and decrease preterm birth and infant mortality. 

The program was announced Thursday during a community baby shower where expecting mothers enjoyed lunch, played games, and won prizes. 

The supportive group pregnancy care model allows pregnant women in similar pregnancy states to connect and attend appointments together. 

It will begin in January with groups of eight to 12 women, and is funded by a $48,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare, which also finances a program in Akron, in partnership with March of Dimes.

“The benefits of it are the sessions are typically longer, where you’d normally have 10 minutes with your provider, now the session is 90 minutes and you get the benefit of everyone sharing in the conversation,” said Lisa Amlung Holloway, state director of program services and public affairs for the March of Dimes Ohio chapter. 

“We know support structures are created, and women really like it.”

Group pregnancy care is one of eight interventions championed by March of Dimes to reduce preterm births. Preterm births for participants decrease by about a third, Ms. Amlung Holloway said. 

Celeste Smith, minority health coordinator for the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, said she’s “ecstatic” to partner with the two entities to bring such groups to the department.

“This will be the standard of care here,” she said. “There is a lot of evidence of better outcomes, particularly in the African-American community, when women are coming together and doing group prenatal care … We’re really excited to have the support to pilot this project.”

Preterm birth before 37 weeks’ gestation is the leading cause of infant mortality in Ohio. In the United States, 9.8 percent of births were preterm in 2016; in Lucas County it was 11.2 percent. 

In Ohio and in Lucas County, black babies are far likelier to die before their first birthday than their white counterparts. In 2016, the Lucas County black infant mortality rate was 14.2 per 1,000 live births compared with 5.0 for white infants.

Health officials hope efforts like the one announced Thursday, sometimes called “centering” programs, will lead to decreased infant mortality.

“Centering pregnancy has been around for a long, long time, but it’s expensive, so for a department like ours to come up with those dollars, this is a great opportunity,” Ms. Smith said.

A similar supportive group pregnancy program runs through Neighborhood Health Association and the Ohio Department of Health. Those interested in the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department program can call the department at 419-213-4100.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.


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Tips To Be Fit: Healthy baby starts with a healthy pregnancy

Being pregnant should be a very special time in your life. It’s a time for you to concentrate on being healthy because your health and your child’s health depend on it. Exercise used to be a discouraged during pregnancy.

Now, new studies show that women who continue an exercise program during pregnancy gain a psychological lift, achieve optimal weight gain, maintain aerobic fitness, endure fewer complications, experience shorter labors and have easier deliveries.

If you’re not in shape, now is not the time to start a strenuous program. If your doctor approves, you can start walking and do low impact aerobics three to four times a week. If you’re already in shape you may have to modify your workout.

During pregnancy the body undergoes hormonal changes which increases the laxity of the ligaments, making it easy to over-stretch them. This means tennis, heavy lifting, high-speed movements, kicking and strenuous aerobics should be avoided.

Whatever you include in your workout make sure you always warm-up, cool down slowly. Warming up and cooling down are extremely important to keep blood flow to the uterus from decreasing below safe levels. You should also keep your heartbeat under 150 beats per minute.

One of the first tips I gave out for pregnancy was information about folic acid. Folic acid is a naturally occurring B vitamin that helps a baby’s neural tube, which is the part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spinal cord to develop properly. It must be taken before and during early pregnancy when the neural tube is developing. If you can have a baby and you are sexually active you should be taking in at least 400 micrograms of folic acid everyday.

One of the best ways to get enough folic acid is to take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid. You should check the label to be sure of the amount of folic acid it contains. You also can get folic acid in your diet.

Fortified breakfast cereals

Lentils

Asparagus

Spinach

Black beans

Peanuts (only if you do not have a peanut allergy)

Orange juice (fresh or from concentrate is best)

Enriched breads and pasta

Romaine lettuce

Broccoli

According to the March of Dimes, “If all women took adequate folic acid before conception and during pregnancy, the number of babies born with a neural tube defect could drop by as much as 70 percent.”

Some studies also suggest that folic acid can protect women and men from heart disease, cervical and colon cancer and possibly breast cancer.

Can birth defects be prevented? The causes of most birth defects are not known, but there are a few things a family can take to reduce their risk of having a baby with birth defects. Big on the list is a pre-pregnancy visit with your family doctor. You should have a check up once a year anyway. During your visit, your doctor can obtain valuable information about you and your family history. This can help identify risk factors for birth defects or inherited genetic conditions.

Your doctor can then do the appropriate testing and screening prior to or during pregnancy. During a pre-pregnancy visit or yearly health exam, your doctor can take a good look at not only your health and lifestyle, but your family’s also. This will guide you in any changes that could improve your chances of having a healthy baby and a healthy family.

During your first visit, your doctor will check your blood and urine for conditions that could harm you and your baby. These can include hepatitis B, syphilis and possibly other sexually transmitted infections. You can also be tested for the HIV virus that causes AIDS and hepatitis C. This visit should also determine if you have any antibodies, which will show whether or not you are immune to rubella (German measles) and chickenpox. Both of which can cause birth defects if the mother is infected for the first time during pregnancy.

Your blood count is checked for low red blood cell count, a condition called anemia, which could cause you to feel especially tired and possibly increase your risk of preterm delivery. Next your blood type is checked. This test also determines whether you carry a protein called the Rh factor on your red blood cells. If you lack the Rh factor, you are Rh negative and usually need treatment to protect your baby from any potentially dangerous blood problem.

As many as 10 percent of pregnant women have bacteria in their urine, which may indicates a urinary tract infection. Most women have no symptoms of a urinary tract infection. This infection can to the kidneys, where it can pose a big risk to you and your baby.

These infections can be treated with antibiotics that are safe for you and your baby. Sugar and protein in your urine can be signs of serious problems. Sugar in your urine can indicate diabetes. Protein in your urine can indicate high blood pressure.

These tests may be called routine, but they play an important role in protecting your health and the health of your baby. Your doctor should repeat the urine test at each prenatal visit and your blood test for anemia at least once more during your pregnancy.

A few other factors that a woman who are pregnant or planning pregnancy should consider is to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, avoid people who smoke and street drugs. All of these factors can cause birth defects and other pregnancy complications. You should also not take any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications or any herbals without first checking with your doctor.

Exercise can help ease muscular aches, pains and other discomforts women sometime experience during pregnancy. Check with your doctor to make sure you can exercise while you’re pregnant.

Always be sure to warm-up slowly before you exercise and cool down slowly at the end of your workout. A warm up and cool down are extremely important. Each helps keep blood flow to the uterus from decreasing below safe levels. To warm up do a slow pace exercise at the beginning of your workout such as slow walking. To cool down you can do the same thing.

Drink one or two eight-ounce glasses of water before you exercise and wait one or two hours after eating a meal before you exercise.

Always use your best judgment. If you feel like you’re overdoing it, you probably are. Make your doctor aware of any uncomfortable feelings you have when you workout. Not everyone can workout during pregnancy.

Along with folic acid (a B vitamin), you need iron, zinc, iodine, vitamin A, vitamin D and calcium. Eating a well-balanced healthy diet is essential during pregnancy. What you eat affects you and your baby. If you eat a healthy well balanced diet before pregnancy you’ll only need to add about 400 calories daily. This most likely can be increased by one glass of milk and 30 grams of protein (approximately 3- to 6-ounce serving of chicken or fish) a day. You should choose a diet that includes a variety of healthy, low-fat, nutritious foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, whole grain pastas, low-fat milk products, and low-fat protein should be eaten daily.

If you don’t eat meat or take in enough calcium your doctor may recommend a supplement to help provide you with the nutrients you need. Iron is important because it can be stored by your unborn baby to help supply the iron needed through those first six months after birth. Calcium is extremely important in building strong bones and teeth while your baby is developing.

Practicing relaxation and stress reduction techniques is also recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Researchers have found evidence that emotional stress may constrict the blood supply to the uterus and placenta, the baby’s sole source of oxygen and nutrients.

For those of you who own a cat, arrange for someone else to empty the litter box. Cat excrement can transmit a disease called toxoplasmosis. If you’re infected while pregnant, your baby may be stillborn, born prematurely, or suffer serious damage to the brain, eyes or other parts of the body.

Read up on pregnancy and please take it seriously. Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs or medications, unless they are prescribed by your doctor and they’re absolutely necessary. Invest in your child’s health by eating the right foods and exercising for both of you before it’s born.

Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.

Nokia 8 Android 8.0 Oreo Update Starts Rolling Out

Nokia 8 Android 8.0 Oreo update is now rolling out, bringing the latest version of Google’s mobile OS to HMD Global’s flagship-class smartphone. Released in India on Friday night, the release of the Android Oreo update for Nokia 8 was announced by Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer at HMD Global, in a tweet on Friday. Of course, the Android 8.0 Oreo beta build for Nokia 8 was released last month, but users needed to sign up to become a beta tester for that.  The update wighs 1518.1MB in size and includes the November Android security update as well.

All other Nokia Android smartphones from HMD Global will also receive their Android 8.0 Oreo updates in the near future, namely, the Nokia 2, Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6. In fact, they should all also get their Android P update, as promised by HMD Global last month.

The Nokia 2 is the latest smartphone from HMD Global, and it went on sale in India on Friday. It is also the cheapest smartphone from the company, sporting a price tag of Rs. 6,999 (recommended best buy price).

As for the Nokia 8, the smartphone was unveiled globally back in August, and then launched in India in September, before going on sale in October. The dual-SIM (Nano) Nokia 8 bears a 5.3-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) IPS display with 2.5D curved Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The smartphone is IP54 rated, which makes it splash proof. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC (4 Kryo cores clocked at 2.5GHz and 4 Kryo cores clocked at 1.8GHz) coupled with 4GB of LPDDR4X RAM.

The dual rear camera setup on the Nokia 8 includes two 13-megapixel sensors – one is an RGB sensor and features optical image stabilisation (OIS), while the other is a monochrome sensor. Both have an aperture of f/2.0, 1.12-micron pixel elements, phase detection autofocus, a 76.9-degree wide-angle lens, phase detection autofocus (PDAF), dual-tone LED flash, and an IR range finder.

On the front, the Nokia 8 bears another 13-megapixel sensor with PDAF, 1.12-micron pixels, an f/2.0 aperture, and an 78.4-degree wide-angle lens. All three cameras come with Carl Zeiss optics. The company is touting the ‘bothies’ feature with the smartphone, allowing users to take photos or videos using the front and rear cameras simultaneously. The Nokia 8 is also optimised for one-touch live-streaming via Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Also on board is OZO Audio tech for spatial 360-degree audio recording (using 3 microphones), including an Audio Focus mode.

The Nokia 8 comes with 64GB of inbuilt UFS2.1 storage, expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB) in a hybrid dual-SIM configuration. Connectivity options include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS/ A-GPS, USB Type-C (v3.1), and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Sensors on board include an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, barometer, digital compass, gyroscope, and a proximity sensor. Bearing a 3090mAh non-removable battery, the Nokia 8 measures 151.5×73.7×7.9mm.

Korean Report Headline Reads: “iPhone X Starts Sales in Korea and Aficionados go Berserk”

 

First thing this morning Patently Apple posted a report titled “Apple Fans in South Korea Jam SK Telecom Store to the get their hands on the new iPhone X.” The report focused on the action of the three wireless carriers. This afternoon a new report has surfaced covering the action at Frisbee, the largest Apple premium reseller Korea, where Apple fans stood out in the sleet to get their hands on the new iPhone X at Midnight Friday in Gangnam. 

 

The report noted that “Apple vendor Frisbee started sales of the model at midnight Friday at its branch in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, and about 200 people lined up despite snowy weather.

 

The first customer was a high school senior who took the College Scholastic Aptitude Test earlier in the day, according to industry sources. Sales at the shop continued until past 2 a.m.

 

Another Frisbee store in Myeongdong, central Seoul, which opened at 8 a.m., had tens of people lining up.”

 

The Headline from the a Korean daily say it all: “iPhone X starts sales in Korea and aficionados go berserk.” It’s a very telling headline. Meaning, Samsung fans never go Berserk to get their hands on the new Galaxy phones. That must drive Samsung crazy. How can they not ‘copy’ Apple’s magic!

 

The report further noted that “Sohn Hyun-gi, a 26-year-old owner of an iPhone 6S, waited for a week in front of KT Square in Jung District, central Seoul to become the first person in Korea to get Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone X smartphone from KT on Friday.

 

The last such dedicated Apple aficionado, eager to get an iPhone 8 when it was released on Nov. 3, waited outside the same KT branch – but only for 66 hours.

 

Sohn, who is working on his own start-up after quitting a job, has been an avid fan of Apple’s iPhone since it first arrived in Seoul in 2009.

 

The telecommunication company KT offered Sohn free use of its unlimited data streaming, which usually costs 76,890 won ($70.83) per month.

 

Despite being the most expensive iPhone ever – and its price tag in Korea is particularly steep – the release of the iPhone X Friday created significant buzz.”

 

Patently Apple reported on Wednesday that Apple’s first Flagship Store will be opening in Seoul some time after December 24, 2017. The exact date of the opening of their two-story town hall (or store) has yet to be determined.

 


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Xiaomi Mi A1 Android One Smartphone Starts Receiving November Security Update

Xiaomi’s first Android One smartphone, the Mi A1, is receiving an update that bumps the Android monthly security patch level to November. According to several reports, the update has started rolling out for Xiaomi Mi A1 users across different markets.

Some Mi A1 users have shared screenshots on XDA-Developers forum showing the new update notification. The update pop-up confirms that it brings November 2017 security update from Google which improves security and fixes bugs.

The update is also said to improve the stability of the Mi A1 as well as optimise performance. The forum has two different notification screenshots from users where some Mi A1 users are receiving the update with a size of 467MB while some are getting over 1GB size. Unfortunately, the update doesn’t include Oreo update as of now. The Mi A1 is heavily promoted as “created by Xiaomi and powered by Google” and the new update seemingly keeps the device up to the hype.

The Chinese company on Monday unveiled a brand new Rose Gold colour variant of the Mi A1. The new Rose Gold Mi A1 went on sale from Tuesday and was available via Mi.com and Flipkart. It was also made available via Mi Home stores, Mi Preferred Partner stores, and retail partner stores. As before, the Xiaomi Mi A1 has been priced in India at Rs. 14,999. The smartphone was so far available in Black and Gold colours.

Twitter’s tweetstorm feature starts showing up in the Android app

When 280 characters aren’t enough…

Back in September, a developer discovered a hidden feature in Android’s Twitter app that would allow you to type out several tweets and queue them to send one by one, making it easier for anyone to launch a “tweetstorm” without having to type and send each tweet individually. Back then, the feature wasn’t activated yet, but it now appears to be going live for some users.

Without the change, the compose screen shows your avatar on the top right and a blue Tweet button on the right side of the attachment bar, next to the character counter/circle. With the change, a new Tweet all button replaces your avatar, and a + icon is found next to the character counter. Tap this and you can link multiple tweets together. The interface also shows you the different tweets, so you can still edit and change each one before you send them. Once you’re done writing your tweetstorm, you tap Tweet all and the tweets will be queued up in the correct order.

ae1a9_nexus2cee_twitter-tweetstorm-2-329x585 Twitter's tweetstorm feature starts showing up in the Android app ae1a9_nexus2cee_twitter-tweetstorm-2-329x585 Twitter's tweetstorm feature starts showing up in the Android app

No tweetsorm feature (left), tweetstorm feature (right)

I’m not sure if this is a server-side switch or if it requires the alpha version of Twitter: I can see it on v7.24.0 alpha (APK Mirror link), but Scott doesn’t have it on 7.22.0 stable (APK Mirror link). Your mileage may vary, but your best bet is to grab the alpha version and see if you have it.

ae1a9_nexus2cee_twitter-tweetstorm-2-329x585 Twitter's tweetstorm feature starts showing up in the Android app

  • Thanks:
  • Zachary Kew-Denniss

IRS Starts to Enforce Health Law’s Rule That Employers Offer Insurance

“Treasury lawyers see no ground for the secretary to direct the I.R.S. to not collect the tax,” the agency said in a written statement. “The A.C.A.’s employer mandate unfortunately remains the law of the land.”

Senate Republicans plan to include a repeal of the law’s individual mandate in their tax cut bill. Eliminating that mandate, which requires people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, would free up hundreds of billions of dollars that could be redirected to tax cuts. The I.R.S. recently indicated that it would tighten enforcement of that provision as well.

The employer mandate, which would be unaffected by that proposed change, is lucrative for the government. It is expected to bring in penalty payments of $207 billion over the next decade, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office.

When the health law was passed, lawmakers feared that without an employer mandate, companies would cancel their insurance benefits and send large numbers of employees to the health care law’s insurance exchanges, where many people qualify for government subsidies. Employees who are offered health insurance through their jobs are ineligible for the subsidies.

The law’s exact rules are complex, but businesses will generally incur fines of around $2,000 per employee (excluding the first 30) if they do not offer qualifying coverage to nearly all of those who work an average of 30 or more hours a week. The penalty is activated if at least one employee then buys insurance on the health law’s marketplace and receives a subsidy for it.

The per-employee fine increases each year, and can add up quickly: A company with 100 workers that ignored the law this year would owe a penalty of more than $158,000.

To prove their compliance, businesses are required to send the I.R.S. a report on their employee head count and the health care coverage that they offered. The tax agency began requiring those forms two years ago, but it repeatedly ran into problems processing them.

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0edd5_merlin_118938575_8cbde3f8-ab6b-4e7c-b720-aea475563de4-master675 IRS Starts to Enforce Health Law's Rule That Employers Offer Insurance

John Koskinen, then the Internal Revenue Service’s commissioner, testifying last year to Congress. His term ended earlier this month.

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Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

That delayed efforts to identify, and fine, companies that did not offer their workers adequate insurance. The bottleneck largely came down to money, according to the agency.

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“For the past four years, the I.R.S. has received almost no funding for implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” John A. Koskinen, then the agency’s commissioner, told Congress last year. (Mr. Koskinen’s tenure at the agency ended this month, but no change in the enforcement of the mandate is expected.)

A recent audit by the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration found that the I.R.S. had “delayed, not initiated, or cancelled” crucial systems needed to enforce the employer mandate. Other systems “did not function as intended,” causing confusion both for the agency and for companies trying to comply with its reporting requirements.

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Accountants and others familiar with the process say they are bracing for more problems.

“Our belief is that very few of these are going to be accurate,” Roger Prince, a tax lawyer with the consulting firm BerryDunn in Portland, Me., said of the penalty notification letters being sent out.

Those letters are based on the reporting forms companies submitted for 2015 — the first year that they had to complete the new, and complex, disclosures.

“Every single one we looked at for our clients was wrong,” Mr. Prince said. “We always had to send them back corrections.”

Large companies are generally taking the process in stride, trade group representatives said. They are accustomed to back-and-forth discussions with the I.R.S. over their tax bills and have teams of experts to handle complicated compliance issues.

But for smaller companies, the ones most likely to owe penalties, the mandate’s slow and messy enforcement has raised concerns. Nearly all large employers offer their employees insurance, but among companies with 50 to 199 workers, around 8 percent do not, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual employer survey.

“It’s been very obscure and confusing,” Kevin Kuhlman, the director of government relations for the National Federation of Independent Business. “The lag time is worrisome. We’re talking about penalties for 2015, and here we are almost in 2018.”

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R. Pepper Crutcher Jr., a lawyer in Jackson, Miss., who works with midsize employers, said he thought many companies would be “blindsided” by the notification letters.

Even companies that fully comply with the mandate have struggled to master its complicated reporting rules, Mr. Crutcher said. And the I.R.S. has also struggled to correctly analyze the returns, the inspector general’s audit found.

The agency said companies that disagree with its penalty notifications must contact it within 30 days to document their dispute.

But simply pleading confusion or financial hardship will not work, the agency has indicated.

Representative Bill Huizenga, a Michigan Republican, contacted the agency recently on behalf of an employer in his district that expected to owe a penalty payment. It had not complied “for both financial and religious reasons,” the employer said.

The I.R.S. said it would still have to pay.

“The legislative provisions of the A.C.A. are still in force until changed by the Congress,” the agency said in its reply to Mr. Huizenga. “Taxpayers remain required to follow the law and pay what they may owe.”

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HTC U11 Starts Receiving Android 8.0 Oreo Update, Beginning With Taiwan

Taiwanese handset maker HTC had promised Android Oreo update for its flagship, the U11, earlier this year. The company has started rolling out the update to HTC U11 units though it seems to be limited to Taiwan units. The update has started rolling out to users in Taiwanese over-the-air.

Some of the users shared screenshot on Twitter showing the update notification on their HTC U11 units. The update notification confirms Android 8.0 Oreo update with software patch 2.31.709.1 and is over 1GB in size. The update notification on HTC U11 also confirms addition of VoWifi service though it is currently limited to Chunghwa Telecom subscribers in Taiwan. Android Central in a series of screenshots has shown that the new Oreo update for the HTC U11 doesn’t change a lot of elements drastically. The new update also bumps the security patch to November month. The HTC U11 was launched running Android 7.1 Nougat with the company’s HTC Sense skin on top.

We can expect HTC to start rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo to U11’s global units soon. For the uninitiated, Google’s latest mobile operating system Android 8.0 Oreo brings faster boot times, notification dots, auto fill and smart text selection, settings redesigned, revamped Google Now, picture in picture mode, and Google Play music notifications.

HTC launched its U11 smartphone in India at a price of Rs. 51,990 (MOP). The highlight feature of the U11 is the Edge Sense feature that allows users to perform various functions with the handset by simply squeezing it from the sides.

Coming to specifications, it sports a 5.5-inch Quad HD Super LCD display and is powered by a 2.45GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC coupled with 6GB of RAM. It packs 128GB of built-in storage, which is expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB). It sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with f/1.7 aperture, dual-LED flash, slow-motion, and 4K video recording. At the front, there’s a 16-megapixel camera. It packs a 3000mAh battery.

The OpenStack Foundation starts to look at projects beyond OpenStack


e66d5_mvimg_20171107_162623 The OpenStack Foundation starts to look at projects beyond OpenStack

Over the last few years, we’ve seen the launch of a number of open source foundations like the Cloud Native Compute Foundation, the Cloud Foundry Foundation and others. Most of these run under the Linux Foundation, but one of the largest open source foundation outside of that group’s orbit is the OpenStack Foundation, which — at least until now — has solely focused on the development of the OpenStack cloud computing platform.

Times are changing, though. After spending the last few days at the bi-annual OpenStack Summit, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the OpenStack Foundation is starting to look beyond the OpenStack platform and that the future of the organization may just look a bit more like the Linux Foundation, though with a more streamlined vision that will have the group focus on open infrastructure projects that align with its current interests but that don’t necessarily need to be part of the OpenStack platform or follow the current guidelines for these projects.

This move could send ripple through the open source ecosystem because if it’s successful, it’ll create another organization that will sit next to the Linux Foundation, the Apache Foundation and others, yet with the community support and experience that the OpenStack team has built. It may also set up the OpenStack Foundation to compete for hosting projects that would otherwise have looked at moving to the Linux Foundation, which will could set up an interesting rivalry between the two.

e66d5_mvimg_20171107_162623 The OpenStack Foundation starts to look at projects beyond OpenStack

Boris Renski, the co-founder and CMO of Mirantis, who made an early bet on OpenStack a few years ago, told me that if there’s a team that can pull this off, OpenStack CTO Mark Collier, executive director Jonathan Bryce and VP or marketing and community services Lauren Sell are the best people to do it. In his view, opening up the Foundation to more projects is exactly the right move, especially now that the project is stable and has the resources and community to tackle new challenges.

What would this new Foundation focus on? As Bryce told us, the Foundation plans to look at a couple of focus areas: data center cloud infrastructure, container infrastructure, edge computing (and Collier, too, seems to be especially interested in this), continuous integration/continuous delivery and — potentially — machine learning and AI.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions, of course. What kind of license would these new projects follow under, for example? Bryce and Collier hinted at the Apache license, which the OpenStack project has long used, too, but there seems to be some flexibility. And what’s going to be the first project the foundation will bring in? Or will it be incubated within the Foundation?

So far, the reaction of the community has mostly echoed that of Renski, though I’ve also heard some skepticism as people worry that this new approach will take some focus away from the current OpenStack project. Bryce, Collier and Sell don’t think so, but all three noted that they would listen to the community. Chances are, though, this new approach will re-invigorate the existing community and infuse some new purpose into the Foundation and the events it organizes.

One thing the Foundation did categorically count out, though, is changing its name. Bryce noted that “OpenStack” is a broad enough term to accommodate new projects — and the Linux Foundation is still the Linux Foundation, too, after all, even though Linux is just one of the many projects it now hosts.

Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro Starts Receiving Android 7.1.1 Nougat Update in India

Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro, the company’s first smartphone with 6GB RAM, is being upgraded to Nougat. The smartphone has reportedly started receiving Android 7.1.1 Nougat with the company’s brand new UI version.

Sammobile reports that Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro users in India have started receiving the update over-the-air. Those users who haven’t received the OTA can check Settings About Device Software Update. Considering that the company has started the roll out the update from Wednesday, we can expect it to reach all C9 Pro users in a few days. According to the report, the latest C9 Pro update bumps the Android security patch of the handset to August, which still looks kind of dated considering the November patch is out now. The report also adds that the Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro receive a few software features that were first seen on the Galaxy S8.

In India, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy C9 Pro back in January at Rs. 36,900. It ran Android 6.0 Marshmallow out-of-the-box with the company’s UI on top. The smartphone received its second successive price cut last month, and is currently available at Rs. 29,900.

To run through the specifications, the dual-SIM 4G-enabled Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro (Review) sports a 6-inch full-HD (1080×1920) AMOLED display, and is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 653 SoC, with four cores clocked at 1.95GHz and the rest at 1.4GHz. In terms of optics, the Galaxy C9 Pro packs a 16-megapixel camera on both front and rear ends. The rear 16-megapixel camera comes with an aperture of f/1.9 and a dual-LED flash. The smartphone’s selfie camera too has the same aperture sans the flash module.

The Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro comes with inbuilt storage of 64GB, which is expandable via a microSD card (up to 256GB). The smartphone has a fingerprint scanner mounted on its physical home button. The Galaxy C9 Pro packs a 4000mAh battery with fast charging support.

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition Android pre-registration starts

The epic boy band road trip is about to hit your smartphone. Square Enix has just announced that Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition, the cutesy version of the latest major installment to the beloved JRPG franchise, is just around the corner. But to keep you from fretting over missing the exact launch, the game developer is kicking off pre-registration for the mobile game. That is, presuming you’re on Android. iOS users will just have to keep their ears perked for the news.

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Google’s Fast Pair feature starts arriving on non-Pixel Android phones


d6f64_4s6a1602 Google's Fast Pair feature starts arriving on non-Pixel Android phones

In the avalanche of news that was Google’s Pixel 2 event last month, the company kind of glossed over the Fast Pair feature. Understandably so — it had a lot to get through at the event. And besides, it was far from the coolest thing about the company’s new Pixel Buds headphones (that title goes to the Babelfish-esque real-time translation feature).

The feature is similar to what Apple offers up with its W2 chip, offering instant, hassle-free Bluetooth pairing with a couple of taps. Of course, Fast Pair has one key advantage: much greater compatibility. Launched as a Google Pixel exclusive, the feature is starting to roll out to all Android devices running Google Play services 11.7 and greater (requiring Android 6.0 and up, mind).

d6f64_4s6a1602 Google's Fast Pair feature starts arriving on non-Pixel Android phones

Apple’s version was a centerpiece of Apple’s AirPods (along with subsequent Beats releases), and Google’s take will certainly benefit from wider availability. In addition to working across Android manufacturers, Fast Pair is also compatible with bluetooth headphones from a variety of different companies. Pixel Buds and Libratone’s solid Q Adapt were the first to be announced, and Google is adding the Plantronics Voyager 8200 headset to the list soon.

The selection is still pretty limited, with Google working with specific early partners to help develop Fast Pair . Though, along with opening it up to a lot more handsets, the company is putting out the call to “Bluetooth accessory” makers in its public forum — a move that indicates the company’s plans to bring Fast Pair to a lot more than just headphones and headsets.

The Pixel Buds were created internally to brace the consumer base for the company’s decision to drop the headphone jack from its new handsets. Opening Fast Pairing up to a much larger ecosystem of compatible devices should cushion the blow even more — and could open more handset manufacturers up to the possibility of dropping the jack themselves.




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