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ASUS ScreenPad transforms the touchpad

Major laptop maker ASUS has debuted a new range of consumer laptops, including one that replaces the touchpad with a touchscreen, writes BRYAN TURNER.

ASUS South Africa has unveiled its new premium ZenBook series – the ZenBook 13, ZenBook 14 and ZenBook 15, and most importantly, ZenBook Pro 14 – just weeks after its debut at CES in Las Vegas earlier this month.

The ZenBook Pro 14 features an innovative trackpad called ScreenPad, which is a matte touchscreen in place of the touchpad, and is designed for artists, designers, or any creator who’s on-the-go. It can also serve as an additional productivity tool for business users.

The ScreenPad combines a touchpad with a high-resolution, full-colour touchscreen to offer new ways of interacting with both Windows apps and dedicated programs called “ScreenPad Apps”. Adaptive functions with context-sensitive tools can simplify workflow, and it is customisable to allow users to personalise their experience.


“Since 1992, there hasn’t been much innovation on the touchpad,” said Jasmine Lin, product manager and marketing head at ASUS South Africa, at the local launch event on Tuesday. “That’s why we researched what consumers need from their computers – working with the consumer to create the ScreenPad.”

Lin added that the new laptops demonstrated significant development in a field that had not seen a lot of innovation in the past few years.

“Our new models all feature four-sided frameless ultra-slim bezels, which mean that screen size has increased significantly while the actual devices themselves haven’t. And they feature ASUS’ numeric keypads, which are built into the touchpads and allow for easier data entry. We also have fingerprint and face recognition options to make logging in easier and more secure.”

Click here to see the rest of the ZenBook range and the features of the devices.

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Eugene Kaspersky posts from 2050

In his imagined blog entry from the year 2050, the Kaspersky Lab founder imagines an era of digital immunity

In recent years, digital systems have moved up to a whole new level. No longer assistants making life easier for us mere mortals, they’ve become the basis of civilisation — the very framework keeping the world functioning properly in 2050.

This quantum leap forward has generated new requirements for the reliability and stability of artificial intelligence. Although some cyberthreats still haven’t become extinct since the romantic era around the turn of the century, they’re now dangerous only to outliers who for some reason reject modern standards of digital immunity.

The situation in many ways resembles the fight against human diseases. Thanks to the success of vaccines, the terrible epidemics that once devastated entire cities in the twentieth century are a thing of the past.

However, that’s where the resemblance ends. For humans, diseases like the plague or smallpox have been replaced by new, highly resistant “post-vaccination” diseases; but for the machines, things have turned out much better. This is largely because the initial designers of digital immunity made all the right preparations for it in advance. In doing so, what helped them in particular was borrowing the systemic approaches of living systems and humans.

One of the pillars of cyber-immunity today is digital intuition, the ability of AI systems to make the right decisions in conditions where the source data are clearly insufficient to make a rational choice.

But there’s no mysticism here: Digital intuition is merely the logical continuation of the idea of machine learning. When the number and complexity of related self-learning systems exceeds a certain threshold, the quality of decision-making rises to a whole new level — a level that’s completely elusive to rational understanding. An “intuitive solution” results fromthe superimposition of the experience of a huge number of machine-learning models, much like the result of the calculations of a quantum computer.

So, as you can see, it has been digital intuition, with its ability to instantly, correctly respond to unknown challenges that has helped build the digital security standards of this new era.  

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M-Net to film Deon Meyer novel

A television adaptation of Deon Meyer’s crime novel Trackers is to be co-produced by M-Net, Germany’s public broadcaster ZDF, and HBO subsidiary Cinemax, which will also distribute the drama series worldwide. 

Trackers is an unprecedented scripted television venture and MultiChoice and M-Net are proud to chart out new territory … allowing local and international talent to combine their world-class story-telling and production skills,” says MultiChoice CEO of General Entertainment, Yolisa Phahle.

HBO, Cinemax, and M-Net also launched a Producers Apprenticeship programme last year when the Cinemax series Warrior, coming to M-Net in July, was filmed in South Africa. Some other Cinemax originals screened on M-Net include Banshee, The Knick and Strike Back. 

“Cinemax is delighted to partner with M-Net and ZDF in bringing Deon Meyer’s unforgettable characters and storytelling—all so richly rooted in the people and spectacular geography of South Africa—to screens around the world,” says Len Amato, President, HBO Films, Miniseries, and Cinemax.    

Filming for Trackers has already started in  locations across South Africa and the co-production partners have been working together on all aspects of production 

Deon Meyer, whose award-winning crime novels have been translated into more than 20 languages, with millions of copies sold worldwide, serves as a supervising screenwriter and co-producer; British writer Robert Thorogood (Death in Paradise) is the showrunner. The team of South African writers on the project includes the Mitchell’s Plain playwright, screenwriter and director Amy Jephta (Die Ellen Pakkies Story) and local writer/directors Kelsey Egen and Jozua Malherbe. 

The cast for the six-part miniseries includes Ed Stoppard, Rolanda Marais, James Alexander and Thapelo Mokoena. 

Trackers will make its debut on M-Net 101 in October 2019 and will also be available on MultiChoice’s on-demand service, Showmax. The six-part drama series is produced by UK production company Three River Studios as well as South Africa’s Scene 23. 

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