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The statistics are bleak, but far from surprising. According to a new report, American businesses spend a whopping $712 per worker, per year, in the battle against spam.

“This isn’t just a technology problem,” says Rebecca Wettemann, vice president at Massachusetts-based Nucleus Research, the firm that authored the report. Email has become such an integral part of how businesses operate that spam “is now a business problem.”

And the good guys aren’t winning. “The best VC money that has been thrown at developing filtering technology has not met the mark yet,” she tells Datamation.

The Nucleus report, based on a survey of 849 users, found the following:

• Users are spending more than 1 percent of their time tackling spam in their inboxes.

enterprise-wide spam filters, two out of three email messages are spam.

• American companies are losing more than $70 billion a year in lost worker productivity.

• Spam has risen sharply since Nucleus’s survey in 2004.

• Nine out of 10 users are frustrated by spam, with one in 100 appearing to be “at the breaking point.”

At the end of the survey, Nucleus asked users what punishment would be appropriate for spammers.

Eighteen percent said that spammers should see jail time, with more than fifty percent believing that junk mailers should be fined at least $1 for every spam.

The survey also provided an “Other” option for how junk mailers should be punished. The responses were – apparently in jest – quite macabre. They included “the death penalty, slow hanging, public flogging, psychological assessment, and other suggestions that are inappropriate to print.”

Concluded the report: “Spammers, watch your backs.”

Three (Flawed) Solutions

On average, people spend 16 seconds per message in deleting spam, according to the survey.

While this figure may sound high, Wettemann notes that it’s an average; though many workers delete spam instantly, some – shockingly – actually read them fully before realizing they’re from a Nigerian spam artist. (When Nucleus Research asked the same question in 2004, the average time was a 30 seconds. Fortunately, “People are getting more sophisticated,” she said.)

Although the report’s tally of the per employee cost of spam, $712 per year, also seems high, it’s down from a jaw-dropping $1,934 a year in 2004. (The dollar amount is calculated by figuring productivity loss as a percentage of a 2080-hour work year, at $30 an hour).

Many firms are becoming ever more proactive in their battle against spam. However, this more aggressive filtering has a downside: “a growing number of legitimate messages are blocked as spam or deleted,” the report found.

The survey found three spam filtering methods that are common among enterprises:

• A confirmation process which delays the message until the sender confirms that it is a legitimate message.

• A quarantine strategy in which spam is placed in a directory to be reviewed by recipients.

• A delete strategy that automatically removes messages that the filter judges to be spam, without user review.

Each of these approaches has its pitfalls. The confirmation strategy slows down communication, at least initially (once correspondents become trusted, they aren’t subject to this step).

In the quarantine strategy, Nucleus found that users spend an average of 4.5 minutes a week reviewing messages – a minor expense that adds up over hundreds of workers. The costliest strategy, based on survey findings, is to delete apparent spam; staffers spend an average of 7.3 minutes per week searching for valid emails that have been lost.

In short, an ideal solution that bears no cost doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.

In lieu of finding the prefect spam filter, business can demand greater accountability from related parties. Notes Wettemann: “Businesses need to go to their ISPs and the carriers of the spam, and have them take a closer look at ‘What are they doing at the overall infrastructure level?’ And maybe the FCC needs to be taking a closer look at how those public resources are being regulated and managed.”

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Simultaneous Capture Should Be 2023’S Must

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Today’s flagship smartphones are absolutely jam-packed with camera features. From staples like HDR, night mode, and portrait mode to astrophotography, Single Take, Magic Eraser, and Clone mode, there really are no shortage of modes to choose from if you want to get creative (or just want a better shot).

In saying so, there’s one feature I’d really like Android manufacturers to embrace in 2023, and that’s simultaneous photo capture.

When we’re talking about simultaneous capture, we mean taking two or more photos at once. And no, we’re not talking about the Dual Sight or “Bothie” feature popularized by HMD’s Nokia phones, letting you take a photo via the rear camera and front shooter. We mean photos simultaneously shot via different rear cameras or several separate photos concurrently shot via the same camera. This isn’t a new feature but it’s one that, I feel, should be far more widespread.

More photography coverage: The best camera phones worth buying

A brief history of simultaneous capture

One of the earliest examples of this tech came with Nokia’s Lumia Windows Phone handsets. Devices like the Lumia 1020 and 1520 offered the ability to simultaneously capture full-resolution (38MP and 19MP respectively) and oversampled images (5MP) back in 2013. This means you got one image for editing and another image that’s smaller, cleaner, and more suitable for sharing.

The fun didn’t stop there with these phones, as they also offered simultaneous JPEG and RAW capture. Yes, you could capture a full-resolution RAW shot and a 5MP oversampled JPEG. This was another example of how simultaneous image capture can be convenient, giving you a file for non-destructive editing and a smaller file for sharing again. This is actually one of the most common examples of this feature on the market today, with the likes of Google, Sony, OnePlus, and vivo all offering simultaneous RAW+JPEG capture on some devices.

Assorted resolution, color profile, and AI-enhanced images would let us pick the best-looking shot without having to reshoot.

How about this tech being deployed to Pixels, taking one image with the shadow slider all the way up and another with the shadow slider reduced? Or somewhere in between. What about one shutter press giving you a shot with a smartphone’s AI mode on and one with the mode disabled? There’s a huge range of possibilities.

Why stop at images?

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Simultaneous capture smarts aren’t limited to photos either. Flagship phones from HUAWEI and Samsung, as well as the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra seen above, offer a dual recording mode. This records video via two cameras, be it a front and rear camera or two rear cameras. In Xiaomi’s case, you can choose to combine the two video streams into one video using a side-by-side format, or it can spit out two separate 1080p video files in a more traditional aspect ratio.

It’s a really cool feature, and we’d love to see more manufacturers hop on this bandwagon, particularly when it comes to offering separate 16:9 video files. Nevertheless, today’s silicon offers support for features like triple 4K video, showing that concurrent recording via up to three rear cameras is within reach too.

There are a few challenges with simultaneous capture via two or more cameras though, with the first hurdle being thermal-related. We’ve already seen brands shy away from “unlimited” 960fps recording introduced by the Snapdragon 888 series, ostensibly due to thermal reasons. And we haven’t seen many companies offer concurrent video capture either, presumably for the same reasons.

Concurrent image capture is clearly less ambitious than concurrent video capture, so we’d love to see this tech come to more phones in 2023 and beyond. After all, if the Galaxy Note 8, Lumia 1520, and LG V40 all offered differing takes on the technology years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t see more of it today. When combined with today’s better cameras, multiple lenses, and AI smarts, simultaneous capture should be a stand-out feature.

Xbox One Unveiled: Apple Should Be Worried

Today’s the new Xbox day. After Sony on February 20 revealed its PlayStation 4 without actually showing anything in way of the hardware, the Windows giant during a special event at its Redmond headquarters announced a next-generation Xbox console dubbed the Xbox One. The system is billed as an “all-in-one entertainment system” which promises to “put you at the center of a new generation of the living room.”

Digging deeper, the One wants to replace your Apple TV, Roku, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation and any similar box by becoming the only box your TV set really needs. And yes, it indeed has what it takes to become the center of your living room. Go past the fold for the full breakdown…

On the hardware front, the One is a powerhouse: it runs an eight-core x86 processor with 8GB RAM, has USB 3.0 and 500GB of storage space and HDMI in and out. Microsoft also touted over five billion transistors driving the One.

The system relies on the enhanced Kinect for pretty much everything you do. That’s why the Windows maker has decided to ship a Kinect sensor with every Kinect One sold. That’s right, the Kinect is no longer an optional accessory and now comes standard with every Xbox One unit sold.

The new Kinect is responsible for voice-activated features used throughout the system. In addition to powering the system up and down with your voice, you can pause a movie by saying ‘Xbox, pause’, resume playing (‘Xbox, resume’) and so forth.

And the instant you power up the system, the One recognizes who you are, what movies and television shows you like and tailors the revamped Home screen to your liking.

And here’s the redesigned controller.

The unsightly battery bump on the back is finally gone for good, enabling Microsoft’s industrial designers to create a sleeker unit. Not only does the redesigned controller feels more natural in your hands, it’s control buttons are more accessible now.

Another cool feature: the One’s built-in Kinect microphone is so sensitive to your presence that it can pick up your heartbeat while you’re exercising and process audio personalized to specific individuals. In fact, the One’s always-on listening mode means the system is “ready when you are.”

Specifically, the new Kinect listens to you at all times, allowing you to power up the One simply by saying ‘Xbox On’, even when the console is turned off. The always-on listening relies on the One running in an extremely low-power state which keeps only the basic features active.

Another killer feature: the One integrates with your existing cable set-top box, a feature we’ve long held Apple should add to its Apple TV hockey-puck. This means you can navigate and watch live TV from your cable, telco or satellite set-top box through your One.

And with the ability to switch to, say, ESPN straight from a video game just by saying ‘Xbox, ESPN’, the new Xbox has a lot to offer as a home theater entertainment device.

But wait, there’s more.

With the new Snap multitasking feature, you can play a game while watching your favorite movie, or chat with friends on Skype (group Skype calls are supported) while watching live TV or track your fantasy team on TV as you watch the big game.

They also have a tailored program guide called OneGuide which lets you search content by network, name or time, just by asking.

Topping it all off, your One features NFL Fantasy Football integration, has Skype and Smart Glass (basically Microsoft’s AirPlay) and will install games on built-in storage.

Here’s more on that multi-year NFL partnership.

With features like these, the One admittedly stands a chance of becoming an all-encompassing home entertainment system.

Here’s your Xbox One unveil video.

Another one with Xbox executives Yusuf Mehdi, Phil Spencer and Marc Whitten discussing how the One brings your games, TV, movies, music, sports and Skype together.

Microsoft as of today has 76 million Xbox 360 units worldwide and 46 million users connected via the Xbox Live service. Xbox Live itself is powered by a network of an astounding 300,000 servers – that’s more server computing power than was available in all of the Internet in 1999, according to Major Nelson.

And right below is the behind-the-scenes video with Lisa Gurry and Major Nelson explaining how the Xbox One was created on Microsoft’s Xbox campus in Redmond, Washington, where the magic happens.

For those wondering, Microsoft has over 3,200 employees working on the Xbox project.

Summing up, all this whiz-bang technology comes at a price: the One won’t play your existing Xbox 360 games – but who the heck cares about legacy games, anyway?

Speaking of games, here’s Quantum Break, a new title from the creators of Alan Wake and Max Payne that promises to blur the line between gameplay and television.

Forza Motorsport 5 from Turn 10 Studios, an Xbox One launch exclusive.

Call of Duty: Ghosts Reveal also looks promising.

And here are EA Sports upcoming One titles powered by the new Ignite engine that incorporates human intelligence algorithms, true player motion and living worlds.

Microsoft will have more Xbox One news, including pricing and availability, coming up at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which takes place June 11-13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In the meantime, read Microsoft’s press release, check out the official Xbox web site or browse Xbox on Instagram.

An avid gamer like myself would praise Microsoft’s execution of today’s unveiling. I’ll just go ahead and admit that I’m pretty stoked about the One.

With that off of my back, it’s worth pointing out that not only is Microsoft pushing aggressively into the home entertainment space with the new Xbox, it’s also keen on not repeating the mistake of Google (Nexus Q Orb), Apple (Apple TV) and others.

At a time when people are growing increasingly wary of unsightly boxes, methinks Microsoft has created an unsuspecting, stealthy gadget that just unassumingly sits right under your telly, “ready when you are.”

And make no mistake about it, Microsoft’s One sure as hell means trouble for the Apple TV (not everyone agrees, of course).

So, what do you make of all of this?

Why Google Should Be Nervous About Android’s Future

Google’s Android operating system has certainly rocked the mobile industry over the last three years. With multiple manufacturers offering hundreds of feature-packed handsets around the world, the little green robot certainly has a lot going for it.

However, stiff competition from Apple and Microsoft, along with dozens of lawsuits coming from seemingly every direction, look to stop Android’s explosive growth dead in it’s tracks. How long can the mobile OS survive in this hostile industry?

Here’s a snippet from a recent report on the topic by FOSSPatent‘s expert analyst, Florian Mueller:

“Google’s cavalier attitude toward other companies’ intellectual property is starting to backfire in seriously harmful ways. Samsung is only the first Android OEM to suffer economic damage by not being able to launch products in certain markets. It won’t be the last. Motorola Mobility and HTC are also under pressure.”

Mueller is referring to an ongoing injunction in Australia that is barring Samsung from launching its Galaxy 10.1 tablet in the country. Apple won a major court battle last week, extending the slate’s temporary ban for several more months. By the time Samsung is elegible to sell its tablet in Australia, the device will be nearly a year old.

The final decision will be the one to watch though, says Mueller.

“If Apple wins the Australian case at the end of the main proceeding, all Android-based products will effectively be shut out of the Australian market forever, unless Google or its device maker partners settle with Apple.”

We all know that Apple won’t settle. It’s not in the business of licensing its IP (Intellectual Property), and it certainly doesn’t need the money. It seems as if the company won’t stop until Android partners quit using Android all together.

But it’s not just Apple. Microsoft has also been using its extensive IP portfolio against Android handset-makers. HTC pays the Redmond-based company a $5 licensing fee for every Android handset it sells, and Samsung just hatched out a similar deal.

$5 per phone is a fairly large amount when you consider how small the typical handset-maker’s profit margins are. Not everyone has a Tim Cook. Why do you think Samsung and HTC were both in the conversation as possible webOS buyers? Between lawsuits and licensing fees, Android (the “free software”) is getting too expensive.

And it gets worse. Android’s biggest threat to its existence isn’t even a competitor, it’s Oracle. The company owns thousands of Java-related patents, and is taking Google and its mobile OS to court over several of them. Here’s an excerpt from a recent court brief:

“Oracle will prove at trial that Google deliberately chose to base its Android software platform on Java tecnology, seeking to develop and deploy Android rapidly and to capitalize on the large community of Java software developers… Google chose to take its chances and push forward with Java, helping itself to Oracle’s intellectual property without a license.”

So because of Android, not only are all of its major manufacturing partners involved in litigation, but now Google is too. To me, it looks like the company cut a lot of corners in a rush to get its mobile OS to market, and now it’s paying for it.

What’s your take on Google’s long list of patent woes?

5 Reasons You Should Be Playing World Of Warships

If you’ve yet to sample the open-water warfare delights of World of Warships, you’re missing out.

For the uninitiated, World of Warships is a naval-warfare themed MMO released back in late 2024, but don’t let the comparatively old age of this game fool you – it’s a doozy.

Players duke it out in sea-faring war vessels, plotting tactical courses to destroying their enemies with all the strategic brilliance of an admiral.

Should you require a little more convincing, here are five reasons you should be playing World of Warships.

1. Warships Galore

Channeling the heyday of naval warfare of the First and Second World Wars, World of Warships offers no less than 200 ships for players to commandeer and set upon the seven seas.

We have destroyers for those favoring speed, stealth, and attacking their enemies under cover of the waves with destructive torpedoes.

There are fast-firing cruisers designed to both versatile against other ships and airborne aircraft in equal measure, whether it be defending a fleet or spearheading an attack.

Then, there are the massive battleships capable of devastating attacks, but equally able to sustain damage while watching valiantly over the rest of your fleet. 

And, finally, aircraft carriers that bridge the gap with the skies by offering a launching pad for aerial attacks, scouting, and coordinating versatile grand battle strategies.

2. Play As One of The 20th Century’s Most Powerful Naval Powers

The ships are impressive, but we’d be nowhere without the grandest naval powers of yesteryear.

In World of Warships, you can play as the USSR, USA, UK, Japan, Nazi Germany, France, and Italy.

Alongside you can play as regional cohorts. There’s Pan-Asia bringing together vessels from China, Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia. The Commonwealth allying nations from the former British Empire. Finally, we have a Pan-America faction and a European contingent.

The beauty of offering such a generous spread of nations is that each of them has strengths and weaknesses, adding the strategic depth of the game. One may be better suited to a particular task while failing miserably at another.

3. Intense Naval Battle Locations

We’ve got the ships and the naval powers, but where World of Warships truly comes into its element is the diverse real-world naval battle scenarios, each with dynamic weather ranging from obscuring mist to storm ridden choppy seas.

These sandbox maps are located all over the globe from the polar ice caps to the idyllic turquoise water tropics, by way of narrow straits and the islands of the Aegean Sea, and everything in between. There’s even a map set in space with asteroids and a vacuum in place of the seas.

4. Gripping PvP Skirmishes

You’ve chosen your ship, assigned a naval power to your fleet, and chosen a map; now, it’s time to jump into battle. In what is among the most thrilling, not to say, intense player versus player combat of any game we’ve come across in recent years, World of Warships’ online multiplayer component is nothing short of exhilarating.

If it sounds a bit too much, you can also team up with friends and play against bots for a slightly more forgiving experience while you ply your trade as a commander.

5. It’s Free To Play

While all the above are reason enough to try out World of Warships, the best part is that it is entirely free-to-play. The gameplay also unlocks access to new ships and goodies, rather than having to fork out cash through micro-transactions. It’s a grind, but an all too pleasant one.

You can, however, opt for a paid premium account for extra XP boosts or unlock new ships and tech with real-world currency if you are so inclined.

Digital Minimalism – Should It Be On Your Lockdown Agenda?

In 2023, it would be hard to refute the claim that we are living in a digital world. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic and the following lockdown, our lives are becoming more and more entrenched in technology.

Statstia found that almost 4.57 billion people were active internet users as of April 2023, accounting for 59 percent of the global population, with China, India and the USA ranking in the top three countries. This is up nine percent from 2023. It’s not just that a lot of people use the internet, either, these people use it a lot: the average user spends just shy of seven hours a day on the internet. 

In this huge shift towards digital life, it’s important to recognise that the way we use technology, the internet, emails and social media, can be just as bad for our brains as it is good. One way to combat this is with digital minimalism.

Digital minimalism stems from the practice of minimalism: living with only the things you truly need and minimizing excess. The concept was first coined by Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Newport developed the idea when he noticed how hard it was to strike a balance when it came to technology. As a computer scientist, he is hopeful about what technology can offer for our future, but he also has some criticisms of the Internet Era: “For example,” Newport writes in a 2024 blog post, “[I am critical] of our culture’s increasingly Orwellian allegiance to social media and am indifferent to my smartphone”.

Inspired by the works of minimalist bloggers (aptly named The Minimalists), Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, Newport came up with a definition for digital minimalism:

“Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life”.

Poppy Duffree echoes this sentiment. As a professional organizer, Poppy noticed the disconnect between how people treat their physical space compared to their digital space: “We often have our physical surroundings organized and which supports us in feeling calm and in control. 

“But what happens when we then open our laptops and phones and are met with a barrage of unorganized files, unnecessary content, emails we’ve left unread for months and notifications everywhere?

“All of a sudden, our environment is actually our digital space, as that is where our focus is,” she told PC Guide in an email. 

She warns that clutter and an unorganized space intensifies feelings of stress, having negative impacts on our mental health. In order to help combat this, Poppy created a PDF workbook called The Ultimate Digital Declutter and Organisation Workbook. The book features four categories (desktop, emails, ,and social media) and includes tasks to keep readers on track with their digital declutter. 

According to Poppy, “once you’ve done a thorough digital declutter, you’ll find that you’ll be less distracted, more productive,and have freed up extra storage on your devices”.

Lee, an environmental psychologist and wellbeing consultant and founder of Essentialise, has been mindful of his technology consumption since he became addicted to playing video games when he was younger. Lee found digital minimalism through his own psychological research into burnout. Naturally, he found himself embracing the practice with the purpose of optimizing his health and honoring his biorhythms, which are related to emotional stability, feeling, intuition, mood, susceptibility, creativity. 

“[I do this by] training my attention by removing distraction, embracing boredom so I have space to be creative and reflect, and being present with my children and everyone I connect within my daily life,” Lee tells me. 

Clearly, digital minimalism does wonders for mental clarity and minimizing stress, but there’s another surprising benefit of keeping your online life a little more limited – protecting your data.

“Choosing to consciously withhold personal data, by not signing up for apps you will never use, or newsletters you will never read means you can minimize the amount of information about yourself that circulates online,” explains digital privacy expert, Jo O’Reilly of ProPrivacy.

“Once your data is online it can be very hard to claw it back and regain control over your privacy. 

“This can protect you against both cybercrimes such as identity theft and pervasive surveillance capitalism”.

If you’ve read this far, it’s safe to say you’re probably looking at giving digital minimalism a try – here are some of Poppy’s best tips for getting started:

Delete phone apps you no longer use – This reduces notifications and means fewer apps to have to update. 

Declutter your social media feeds – Be in control of the content you are seeing and unfriend/unfollow those accounts that do not provide you with content that is useful or positive. 

Clear your desktop of all documents and folders – Opening up your computer to be met with clutter can be an instant stressor before you’ve even begun working on anything. 

Reduce unnecessary newsletters – Search for the word ‘unsubscribe’ in your inbox and it will bring up any newsletters you’ve subscribed to. This allows you to start going through those that you no longer want and unsubscribing to them, meaning less emails coming in in the first place. 

There you have it – your first steps to creating a relaxing digital environment. Thank us later.

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