Author Archives: Matvei Mankevich

VAIO Z — a new attempt to revive VAIO

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VAIO, once a Sony brand, unveiled the new Vaio Z laptop. According to the manufacturer, it is the world’s first mobile PC to receive a three-dimensional carbon fiber chassis.

A super lightweight Japanese laptop with a carbon fiber chassis for the price of a few MacBook Air. New VAIO Z unveiled
In this case, it is meant that the carbon fiber is not made of individual panels, but of the entire body. Thanks to this approach were possible to get rid of plastic and metal parts, due to which the laptop became stronger and lighter.

More precisely, in the presence of a 14-inch screen and the ability of the design to withstand a fall from a height of up to 127 cm, the device weighs only 1.04 kg.

The configuration of the laptop assumes a Core i7-11375H processor, 16 or 32 GB of RAM, SSD capacity from 512 GB to 2 TB, 4K UHD display and a battery big enough for 10 hours of work. The Japanese specs, where the approach to testing is different, indicate even 17 hours.

The super lightweight Japanese laptop with a carbon fiber chassis for the price of several MacBook Air. The new VAIO Z is unveiled.
Of the rest we can note a physical curtain for the camera and a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports. Unfortunately, the price of the laptop is even more striking than its weight. The base version costs $3,580, while the top version will cost $4,180.

But the main disadvantage of VAIO Z is its price, because even MacBook Air, which the majority considered as an overpriced laptop is 2 times cheaper, comparing to the base version of the new Japanese laptop, let alone the top one.

Elon Musk announced the successful chipping of a monkey

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In 2016, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the opening of Neuralink. It creates technology to connect the human brain to a computer, and it seems to be doing quite well. At the end of 2020, the company “chipped” a pig and was able to monitor its brain activity using a computer. In this case, the animal felt well, which means that at least this technology does not harm pigs. Recently it turned out that the company Neuralink went further and was able to install the chip in the brain of a monkey.

According to Elon Musk, the animal feels great and thanks to the technology can play video games with its mind and even turn on the TV. In the future, the company wants to insert the chip into the head of another individual and make it possible for monkeys to compete with each other in virtual tennis. About the chipped monkey told Bloomberg edition, citing the words of Elon Musk. The entrepreneur shared the news about Neuralink during a conversation inside the social network Clubhouse. During the conference, Elon Musk was asked about the latest developments at Neuralink. The entrepreneur replied that they have a monkey with a wireless implant in its skull that can play video games with its mind. According to him, the chip is virtually invisible.

At the moment, there are no pictures or videos of the Neuralink monkey, but they should appear in the coming months. It is unlikely that the company has been able to improve the technology much in such a short time. The company wants to implant the chip into the brain using a laser. But at the moment, this requires surgery. But human involvement, in this case, is no longer necessary because all the necessary actions can be performed by a robotic surgeon. It was also shown at last year’s presentation, but not as much time was dedicated to its introduction as we would have liked.

For now, we can say that it is human-sized and quite accurate – otherwise, how would it be able to successfully perform brain surgery?

Clubhouse — the future of communication?

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Clubhouse is a new social network based on voice communication. The form of this communication is something like a webinar. Several people are talking, the rest are listening but nobody sees anything. The difference from a regular podcast is that the listener can raise his hand and, if someone knows him by name, then he will be invited to speak and he will also talk on an equal basis with everyone. And then he can invite someone.

Nothing is recorded. This encourages candor. And many cool people pay attention to this. Musk, for example, was at the Clubhouse. It also attracts audiences to the new social network. He definitely sees potential in Clubhouse, 2 days ago he officially invited Vladimir Putin to join the conversation with him on Clubhouse via Musk’s Twitter. He even tweeted in Russian to increase the likelihood. So far, the official Kremlin hasn’t responded. This shows the interest and gives prospects for the development of Clubhouse.

The network is just being formed. No opinion leaders have appeared yet. And it’s funny to see how people are in it around the clock. You cannot do something else and at the same time talk in the Clubhouse.

The network is growing in popularity but is still quite small. In the States, it is already measured in millions of people, which is still not very much. Moreover, this is by and large a narrow audience, mostly geeks and people connected to IT.

Clubhouse reminds me of the Periscope app, which went viral in late 2015. It is the application of a live stream that lost its market dominance when Facebook integrated live streams into Instagram. In my opinion, Clubhouse has the same fate.

The final outcome is unpredictable. Maybe this is a new social network that will take its place there alongside Instagram, Facebook, TikTok. Facebook has already started making a clone. It was difficult to invent the format, but not to repeat it. It also possible that Clubhouse will become a niche application, for example, for education on discussion seminars because of its convenient interface. 

But it is not known who will win. So far, the original Clubhouse has attracted around $ 1 billion in rounds of investments. Moreover, its revenue is strictly zero.

Noise-cancellation inside of an ear

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A group of researchers from the Center for Audio, Acoustics, and Vibration at the University of Technology in Sydney has developed a new type of virtual noise cancellation system. The active noise cancellation components in it are not located in the headphones, but the headrest of the chair.

 Similar systems have been developed in the past, but their effectiveness was lower than the usual noise-canceling headphones. Current systems use microphones mounted in a specific position around the user’s head to pick up sounds. These settings are best suited for low-frequency noise down to 1 kHz. However, there is no passive control for high-frequency noise. And these frequencies include human speech, the range of which is from 4 to 6 kHz.

The Sydney team has developed a system that works with both high and low frequencies. The researchers used a remote acoustic sensing system based on a laser Doppler vibrometer (LDV) that measures non-contact vibrations over a wide range. They placed a tiny jewelry-sized reflective membrane in the ear of a human model as a sensor for the LDV.

The vibration amplitude and frequency are derived from the Doppler frequency shift of the reflected laser beam due to surface vibration.

The system has demonstrated noise reduction of several sources at once in the range up to 6 kHz with attenuation from 10 to 20 dB.

The researchers tested their system on three typical types of noise: inside an aircraft, the noise of the aircraft itself, and human speech.

The only limitation for mass production is the high cost as the system uses LDVs. However, the researchers hope that developments soon will help make the system more cost-effective.

Scientists will also have to work on the accuracy of the head tracking system, the material of the membrane placed in the ear, as well as on the safety of the invisible lasers used.

Cyberpunk 2077 is out now

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It’s been two days since the official release of Cyberpunk 2077 — the most expected game of the year, or maybe even decade. As many of you have heard the release date was postponed several times. Initially announced in 2012 and shown during E3 in 2019, developers planned to release the game this year, on April 16. The developer of the project is CD Projekt Red — a famous Polish game design company, which is also known for their beloved Witcher series and particularly for the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Cyberpunk 2077 caused quite a commotion on the Internet and social media, many people not interested in gaming started to follow the news and couldn’t really understand what was going on.

The stats are really satisfying. The approximate number of preorders is 8 million, which is unbelievable 41% of this number is PS/Xbox version. 59% is PC version making up more than 4.7 million preorders, which is the absolute record of all times. Steam made up more than 50 million dollars just in the first two weeks since the start of preorders.

Another thing to mention is the performance of Cyberpunk 2077. The game is available for PC, Playstation, and XBOX. Unfortunately, to play this game on PC you need an extremely powerful GPU and CPU. Users with RTX 3090 (the most powerful GPU so far) complained about low frame rate in some cut scenes and locations. Gamers with the brand new PS5 and XBOX Series X will also be disappointed because the patch for the next generation of consoles will be available only in 2021. That means that by now PS5 has the same graphics as PS4 Pro and therefore there is no sense in having PS5 in this particular case.

Fortunately, I had a chance to play Cyberpunk 2077. I have a subscription to Geforce Now, which is Nvidia’s own cloud gaming service. And with a premium account, I had to wait more than two hours in a queue. Even Steam’s servers didn’t survive on Thursday, users reported about unavailability to connect to Steam.

I’ve played about 7 hours in total and completed 10% of the game so far. I’m ready to share my experience. Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action-adventure story set in Night City, a city obsessed with power, glamour, and body modification. You play as V, a mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality, a killer which destiny changes after one mission. Keanu Reeves showed in the E3 trailed appears in the game as one of the main characters. This game has a gigantic and scrupulous open world, a world with many charismatic characters with their own stories and history, a world with a captivating grinding system, and an impressive variety of weapons. The genre of Cyberpunk 2077 has a very interesting system resembling Detroit: Become Human when throughout the game you are given choices that influence the story and thereby the ending. But the main feature of this game is the very mature and raw plot. It’s definitely not a family game. CD Projekt Red, unlike modern gaming trends, made the game full of explicit content. And this brave step deserves respect. Cyberpunk 2077 is not a game for a general audience. As for disadvantages, I found only two. I didn’t like the car physics, it’s really awful like in the Watch Dogs series and the interface. It’s really complicated and not intuitive.

Cyberpunk 2077 is a really worth waiting and iconic game, I’m sure CD Projekt Red made themselves remarkable. The plot, the characters the open world is amazing. Despite the disadvantages, I’ve found and minor bugs which I’m sure are going to be fixed, this is the game you have to play. It’s silly to avoid such a masterpiece and if you hesitate spare no expenses on Cyberpunk 2077.

Preorders info:

Chinese AI that detects sarcasm

Reading Time: 2 minutesThis month interesting research appeared on the website of the scientific journal ACL Web. The paper describes a new AI capable of detecting sarcasm on Twitter and Reddit. AI compares a picture and its description, first tests showed 86% accuracy. It аlsо соmраrеs hаshtаgs tо twееt tехt tо hеlр assess thе sentiment а usеr is trying tо cоnvеy.

In modern society, sarcasm became a conventional form of humor, especially among youth. It’s commonly used in memes and sometimes we don’t really understand sarcastic subtext at all. Maybe 5 individuals that created this AI had the same problems and decided to become Kings of the Hill. However, their AI has the potential to become a really promising business idea. An application, based on it, could be, for example, used to analyze comments on the Internet and sort out only serious ones.

As inventors say: “Sarcasm is a pervasive phenomenon in today’s social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit. These platforms allow users to create multi-modal messages, including texts, images, and videos. Existing multi-modal sarcasm detection methods either simply concatenate the features from multi modalities or fuse the multi modalities information in a designed manner. However, they ignore the incongruity character in sarcastic utterance, which is often manifested between modalities or within modalities. Inspired by this, we propose a BERT architecture-based model, which concentrates on both intra and inter-modality incongruity for multi-modal sarcasm detection.”

It is also crucial to mention that the accuracy of this AI increased compared to a similar one created last year is higher on 2.74%. But the main question is “Why is it useful?”. Well, in my opinion, it’s a little step forward, and using this technology further researches can be conducted. Needless to say that AI usage could be expanded to minimize human work. Like Facebook did the previous year. They used AI to detect inappropriate comments and posts to delete them. I’m sure the same way is possible to get rid out of spam and fishing websites or at least reduce their number. Or instead of sarcasm developers will learn AI to detect inappropriate subtext. Humor and sarcasm are just a part of human psychology and AI keeps exploring us more and more…



How to build a house on Mars

Reading Time: 3 minutesNeedless to say that modern technologies keep developing so fast and rapidly that colonization of Mars is around the corner. The main trailblazer in discovering this mysterious planet is Elon Musk with his SpaceX, he claims that humans will travel there in 10 years. SpaceX is already developing a spaceship named Starship and training future astronauts, but it hasn’t been decided yet where and how first Mars discoverers are going to live. It’s an extremely significant decision to make because astronauts will have to stay on Mars for quite a long time to finally figure one of humanity’s main mysteries. In this article, I would like to present a vision of possible accommodation on Mars.

Unlike the Earth, the red planet has no bricks and the materials used have to be durable. In 2018 NASA conducted a contest where participants had to present their prototypes of a house that can be built on Mars. There were many wonderful and unconventional projects, but the most capturing among others tends to be the Marsha prototype. The house shape reminds of a cylinder and was developed considering Mars’s features. But the main question is what materials to use in the construction of it? As I have mentioned, it’s unable to produce ordinary materials like bricks on Mars. Possible you thought that materials carried on the spaceship are the solution, but I’d say it’s almost impossible. The way to Mars is not days or months, it’s years long. That is why food and other life resources are more preferable. Although it could be some space left for constructing materials, it’s far less than required. That is why scientists started to look for natural materials of the red planet to produce durable material for accommodation.

They concluded that it’s easier as it may seem. 

What materials can be used to build houses on Mars was discussed in the scientific journal Public Library of Science One. The surface of Mars is covered with soil weathered over millions of years, so-called regolith. To create at least some semblance of bricks out of it, water is needed, and scientists haven’t yet been able to find its obvious sources. Besides, now people can form materials suitable for building houses only under terrestrial conditions. And on Mars, it is necessary to come up with a way to create artificial stones and their analogs.

Recently, an interesting solution to this problem was proposed by scientists from Singapore. They suggested that the regolith could be made more flexible by mixing it with chitosan. This is the name of the substance that can be obtained from the material, which is the main component of the shells of shrimp, crabs, and some insects. The final material was named biolite. From it, scientists tried to create a smaller version of the Marsha house that I’ve mentioned before, but it was not created from scratch. Three components were 3D printed and then glued together using biolite. It turned out quite well, so we can assume that the houses of the future colonists of Mars will look like this.

Back in 2018, NASA researchers realized that some structures could be built from mushrooms. First, people build a primitive frame and then grow a special type of mushrooms under it, which wraps around the structure and takes its shape. When the structure takes its final form, the mushrooms can be heat treated and made clean and dry. In the picture, you can see that things made of mushrooms look disgusting and scary. Scientists want to make “mushroom houses” out of 3 layers. The first is mushrooms, the second is out of bacteria and the last one is ice. But they didn’t mention where to take so much water on Mars and how to prevent ice from melting.


As you can see, humanity is preparing to move to Mars. But before that, the planet must be carefully studied. In my opinion, every effort is valuable and I would never criticize a single try to invent or discover something new, especially connected to space because that moves the progress.


NASA-awarded ‘marsha’, a 3D-printed vertical martian habitat by AI spaceFactory

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Factory 56 — the future of cars manufacturing

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Even in a difficult economic situation Mercedes-Benz continues to improve its manufacturing process and tries to set a higher bar in the car industry. Another proof of that is the opening of a new Mercedes-Benz’s factory named Factory 56 in the German city Sindelfingen. The company itself calls this factory “Flexible, digital, efficient and sustainable.” Factory 56 was opened at the beginning of September on a ground area corresponding to 30 soccer pitches. It took 2.5 years to finish the project. According to the company’s web-site, Mercedes-Benz is planning to invest about 2.1 billion euros at Factory 56.

But what makes this plant the future of car manufacturing?

Flexibility. At one factory’s assembly line is possible to assemble cars with different body types. The production can adapt to current demand on the market and allows to easily restructure process of assembling to switch from sedan to SUV, for instance.
Digitalization. The plant has no conventional assembly line. A car is manufactured on a remote platform, which allows a car to stay in one place most of the time when all required parts are being transported by remote carts connected to one intellectual network. The digital ecosystem is built on a powerful WLAN and 5G network, which allows workers to supervise all systems automatically. From the monitoring of parts in stock to the system of electronic workflow, which would save 10 tons of paper every year.
Environmental friendliness. Factory 56 became fully carbon-neutral with zero CO2 emissions and significantly low energy consumption. The plant was built using recycled concrete. 40% of the factory’s roof is covered with plants and trees, the roof is also filled with solar panels, which is a sign that Mercedes-Benz does care about the environment. 
Working conditions. More than 1500 employees are working at the factory in two shifts. While organizing the working space, Mercedes-Benz took into account employees’ preferences. For example, via an online survey, they were asked about personal opinions, preferable shifts to work, suggestions, and even people they want to work together with. More than 85% of the suggestions were successfully granted.

At Factory 56 Mercedes-Benz is manufacturing the new S-class W223 and EQS as start models to launch the site. It’s extremely crucial that the company approached this project with responsibility, taking care of the environment.

I would say it should be an example for major companies that it’s possible to remain eco-friendly and efficient at the same time. And, of course, technologies. This is really astonishing to see real technological development, not the one Apple calls “revolution” each year. This is a huge step towards efficiency. For me, it’s really boldly for a company with a reputation and history to do this. It’s clear to see their struggles on this occasion, let alone the new S-class. Mercedes-Benz proved that even investing an enormous amount of money to implement modern technologies is worth it when it comes to technologies.



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