While Huawei Technologies remains firmly on a United States cyber-security black list, its long-time ally Thailand is opening wide to the Chinese tech giant. On December 19, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha presided over an inauguration event for the “Siriraj World Class 5G Smart Hospital”, which was likewise attended by Huawei Thailand chief executive officer Abel Deng, among others. The event also marked the launch of a Joint Innovation Lab between Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital and Huawei to incubate innovative 5G medical applications. 5G, or fifth generation, refers to the latest telecommunications technology standard that began rolling out in 2019 and of which Huawei is a pioneer and market leader. 5G not only means faster communications and connections to electronic devices but also enables businesses to collect vast amounts of data for further use in digital platforms and application development as well as startup businesses, all key aspects of the modernized, digital economy Thailand is striving to create. Siriraj Hospital happens to be the hospital in which the much-revered late Thai monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) spent his twilight years and was founded by his father, the Harvard-educated Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, remembered as the “father of modern medicine” in the kingdom. Huawei’s establishment of close collaboration with such a royally connected institution represents a public relations coup and underscores the Chinese tech giant’s growing clout in Thailand’s economy, observers note. “It sends a very strong signal that Thailand is opening the door to Huawei, especially during a public health crisis,” said Benjamin Zawacki, senior program specialist for Southeast Asian Regional Security at The Asia Foundation in Thailand and author of the book “Thailand: Shifting Ground between the US and Rising China.” China has arguably scored more points from the Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand than the United States, which was perceived as slow to provide access to US-made vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – while China was quick to deliver Sinovac and Sinopharm alternatives. While both Chinese-made shots have been deemed less effective against the virus, especially the now fast-spreading Omicron variant, they were ostensibly on hand during the early days of the pandemic when the Thai government was under heavy criticism for botching the vaccine rollout. Huawei has been similarly astute in leveraging the pandemic to its advantage. As early as June 2020, Siriraj and Huawei had developed 5G technology applications to launch self-driving vehicles for “contactless” delivery of medical supplies to Covid cases in the hospital. Since the Covid outbreak, Siriraj Hospital, and Huawei have also piloted 5G portable medical boxes, 5G medical carts and 5G smart hospital beds and the two partners expect that 30 5G medical applications will be incubated and promoted nationwide in 2022. Given its greater speed and enhanced data storage capacity, 5G is deemed particularly well suited to medical applications which require stable, uninterrupted telecommunication connections. It is one of several huge potential markets for Huawei in Thailand, which is promoting itself as a regional medical and wellness hub for global travelers and patients. “We will introduce 5G hospitals, 5G ambulances, and AI-assisted solutions in 10 hospitals,” said Huawei management in written responses to Asia Times questions. That is the tip of the 5G iceberg. “We will also build over three 5G city benchmarks to support the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit to be hosted in Thailand (in November) and in line with the EEC’s digital vision we will deploy ten 5G factories in the EEC, including a 5G automobile manufacturing factory,” said Huawei. The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), comprising three provinces on Thailand’s eastern coastline adjacent to Bangkok, is a pivotal program for uplifting the economy and escaping the so-called middle-income trap by stimulating future growth through the promotion of high-tech industries, many of which will rely on 5G technology in such areas as automation, robotics, and logistics. To learn more please visit OUR FORUM.
TRUTH Social is America’s “Big Tent” social media platform that encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology. Former US President Donald Trump is all set to unveil his own social media platform which is called Truth Social on February 21. Trump was banned from all social media platforms after he was found guilty of inciting violence against the Capitol Hill building. After being away from social media, Trump will reconnect with his fans through his own social media platform. The Truth Social app is already listed on Apple App Store. Truth Social, the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) is similar to Twitter. The app allows people to follow other people and shows the latest trends, the demo photos of the app revealed. However, instead of the tweet, the posts will be called “truth” because it is apparently a Truth social media app and nothing other than the truth shall be written on the platform. The app is available for pre-orders before going live on US President's Day. It will be available on the App Store but both Apple and Trump’s management has refused to comment on the launch of the social media app. However, a source close to Trump informed Reuters that the app will be available on February 21. Trump not only will launch a platform similar to Twitter, but he also has another platform in the pipeline which will be similar to YouTube. If that’s not all, a Podcast network will also be launched by TMTG. The Reuters report reveals that the TMTG is valued at $5.3 billion (roughly Rs. 39,430 crore), the shares of the app reportedly shot up by 20 per cent after Reuters reported the app’s listing on App Store. Trump was banned from all the social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for encouraging his supporters to ransack the Capitol Hill building on January 6. After getting banned from social media, Donald Trump had filed a lawsuit against big tech companies. In his lawsuit, Trump has targeted Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai for removing him from the social media apps. Trump had said that he wants the court "to order an immediate halt to social media companies” for censoring the American people. “We are demanding an end to the shadow-banning, a stop to the silencing, and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing and cancelling that you know so well,” Trump said during a press conference. He further added that if they could ban a president, they could ban anybody.
There’s considerable chatter sprinkled with a generous dose of skepticism that Windows 11 may not run on all desktops and laptops that already have Windows 10 installed. It stems from the minimum requirements that Microsoft shared for systems that can run Windows 11, and the specific focus on something called TPM 2.0, or Trusted Platform Module, which we have tried to explain here in detail. Simultaneously, the PC Health Check app has also indicated false negatives on many PCs, suggesting incompatibility with Windows 11. Microsoft has acknowledged issues, is pulling the under-prepared PC Health Check app, and has promised to reconsider the minimum system requirements needed for PCs, to be able to run Windows 11 when it rolls out later this year. Windows 11 is the biggest update the OS has received, in years, and the first test build has now rolled out for developers. There is confirmation that the PC Health Check app is indeed being taken off for the time being, and the tech giant says some work needs to be done before it can reach the intended level of detail or accuracy that users would expect. “Based on the feedback so far, we acknowledge that it was not fully prepared to share the level of detail or accuracy you expected from us on why a Windows 10 PC doesn’t meet upgrade requirements,” says Microsoft, in an official post. They confirm that this is a temporary removal of this app and it’ll be available again before Windows 11 releases later this year. “We are temporarily removing the app so that our teams can address the feedback. We will get it back online in preparation for general availability this fall,” they say. The requirement for a security hardware chip on PCs for Windows 11 to install and run successfully, has meant that PCs that still run the 7th generation Intel Core processors or indeed the AMD Zen 1 chips may be kept out. That is because they do not have TPM 2.0 enabled. This means that assuming Windows 11 will run on all PCs that already have Windows 10 installed and running successfully, would be fallacious. A reconsideration may very well be underway. “As we release to Windows Insiders and partner with our OEMs, we will test to identify devices running on Intel 7th generation and AMD Zen 1 that may meet our principles,” says Microsoft. The minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11 PCs to be able to run the new OS, albeit after sacrificing some functionality in case you’re just meeting the baseline, including a 1GHz processor, at least 4GB RAM, and at least 64GB storage. The system firmware needs to be UEFI and Secure Boot capable, while the graphics card, whether integrated or discreet, needs to be compatible with DirectX 12 or later. Computing devices with screen sizes smaller than 9-inches and resolutions less than 720p will not be compatible with Windows 11. These are the larger system requirements that need to be ticked off. There are further feature-specific requirements, that will dictate whether you can run certain Windows 11 functionality or not. For instance, 5G connectivity will require a built-in 5G modem, something we have seen off late with laptops that have built-in SIM slots for LTE connectivity. For Auto HDR for videos and gaming, the display will need to be HDR capable. The Snap three-column layouts for multi-tasking require a display with at least 1920 pixels in width. The Presence functionality will ask for a sensor that can detect human distance from the device or intent to interact with the device while Microsoft Teams calls will need a video camera, microphone, and speaker for audio output. Stay on top of this reconsideration by visiting OUR FORUM often.
The HDMI standards are a mess. HDMI 2.1, in particular, is a uniquely frustrating mess, with haphazard support among TV manufacturers, cable makers, and devices that make setting up, say 120Hz gaming on a PS5 or Xbox Series X a uniquely harrowing experience. Fortunately, the HDMI Forum is swooping in ahead of CES with its latest revision to the HDMI specification stack, HDMI 2.1a, which is here to make everything better and simpler.... I’m kidding, of course. It’s gonna make things more complicated. It’s a new HDMI standard, what on earth did you expect? Let’s start with the good: HDMI 2.1a is an upcoming revision to the HDMI 2.1 stack and adds a major new feature, Source-Based Tone Mapping, or SBTM. SBTM is a new HDR feature that offloads some of the HDR tone mappings to the content source (like your computer or set-top box) alongside the tone mapping that your TV or monitor is doing. SBTM isn’t a new HDR standard — it’s not here to replace HDR10 or Dolby Vision. Instead, it’s intended to help existing HDR setups work better by letting the content source better optimize the content it passes to the display or by removing the need to have the user manually calibrate their screens for HDR by having the source device configure content for the specific display. Other use cases could be for when there’s a mix of content types, like for streamers (who could have an HDR game playing alongside a window of black and white text), displaying each area of content. The HDMI Forum does note that it’ll be possible for set-top boxes, gaming companies, and TV manufacturers to add support through firmware updates for HDMI 2.1a and its source-based tone mapping “depending upon their design.” Given the usual trajectory of TV spec updates, though, it seems virtually guaranteed that in the majority of cases, users won’t be getting the new features until they buy a new TV that supports HDMI 2.1a right out of the box (which, as of now, is precisely zero of them, given that the spec has yet to be fully released). Now here’s the bad: like every other unique HDMI 2.1 feature, including variable refresh rates, automatic low latency connections, and the bandwidth necessary to offer things like 10K resolution or 120Hz refresh rates, SBTM will be an optional feature that manufacturers can support — but not something that they’re required to support. That’s because the HDMI Forum and HDMI Licensing Administrator (the two organizations that define and license out HDMI standards, respectively) run the standards as a set that contains all the previous standards. As TFTCentral explains, according to the HDMI Licensing Administrator, now that HDMI 2.1 exists, there is no HDMI 2.0 standard anymore: all new HDMI 2.0 ports should be lumped into the HDMI 2.1 branding, despite not using any of the new features included in the “new” 2.1 standards. Follow all CES 2022 threads on OUR FORUM.
Suspicions about the integrity of Huawei products among US government officials can be attributed in part to a 2012 incident involving a Huawei software update that compromised the network of a major Australian telecom company with malicious code, according to a report published by Bloomberg. The report, based on interviews with seven former officials, some identified and some not, says that Optus, a division of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., had its systems compromised through a malicious update in 2012 – a claim the company disputes. "The update appeared legitimate, but it contained malicious code that worked much like a digital wiretap, reprogramming the infected equipment to record all the communications passing through it before sending the data to China, [the sources] said," Bloomberg's report explains. After several days, the snooping code reportedly deleted itself, but Australia's intelligence services decided China's intelligence services were responsible, "having infiltrated the ranks of Huawei technicians who helped maintain the equipment and pushed the update to the telecom’s systems." Australian intelligence is said to have shared details about the incident with American intelligence agencies, which subsequently identified a similar attack from China using Huawei hardware in the US. The report seeks to provide an evidentiary basis for efforts by the US and other governments to shun Huawei hardware amid global 5G network upgrades and to give that business to non-Chinese firms. Notably absent is any claim that Huawei leadership knew of this supposed effort to subvert Optus' network. "Bloomberg didn’t find evidence that Huawei’s senior leadership was involved with or aware of the attack," the report says. In short, the claim is that China's intelligence agencies compromised an Australian network by placing agents within Huawei, ongoing risk for any number of prominent global technology firms. China has denied "Australia's slander." It's perhaps worth noting that The Register is unaware of any nation owning up to recent intelligence activities. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin, faced with compelling evidence unearthed by investigative news service Bellingcat of the FSB's attempt to poison political opposition leader Alexey Navalny, denied that Russian agents had anything to do with Navalny's near-fatal poisoning. But the statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is unusual in that it suggests mutual guilt more than wounded innocence: "Australia’s slander on China carrying out cyberattacks and espionage penetration is purely a move like a thief crying to catch a thief." Even so, Huawei's guilt or innocence as it applies to helping China spy is largely irrelevant. As far as the US is concerned, Huawei can't be trusted because the Chinese government could, in theory, make demands the company could not refuse. The feds are worried about precrime, to use the terminology of Philip K. Dick's Minority Report, a story about a police unit that apprehends people predicted to commit crimes. The US Federal Communications Commission recently used future concerns, alongside past behavior and secret accusations, to ban another Chinese firm from operating in the US. In October, the FCC announced that China Telecom Americas could no longer do business in America. The agency said it based its decision [PDF] partly on classified evidence provided by national security agencies. But it also said "the totality of the extensive unclassified record alone" was sufficient to justify its decision. The agency concluded that China Telecom Americas could potentially be forced to comply with Chinese government requests and company officials have demonstrated a lack of candor and trustworthiness to US officials. And trust is key. The changeable nature of software and the possibility of concealed hardware functions make it inherently risky to accept IT systems from untrusted sources. The risk can be mitigated through source code inspection, auditing, and other precautions, but not completely. Go in-depth by visiting OUR FORUM.