Uber Reaches Out To Help Its Drivers Make EPF Contributions

Uber is reaching out to its drivers with a reminder that they too can make contributions to the Employees Provident Fund and save for retirement. The ride sharing company is also making things easier by offering to help full time drivers apply for the 1Malaysia Retirement Savings Scheme (SP1M).
SP1M is a programme that allows self employed individuals to contribute towards their own EPF savings. The amount contributed is whatever the individual feels like saving, and the government will also throw in an additional 15% of the contributed value (up to a limit of RM250 per year).
It’s not really much, but it’s something that at least helps full time Uber drivers save for an eventual retirement. That said, SP1M doesn’t apply to those who already have full time jobs elsewhere and are driving for Uber in their spare time.

Applicants can visit the EPF site for more information about SP1M. Particularly how it doesn’t only apply to Uber, as the scheme is open to all self employed Malaysians.
On that note, it may raise the question of whether Uber drivers really are self employed. The ride sharing company has long maintained that its Uber X drivers are self employed contractors, but is facing resistance from some countries that see the arrangement as being full time staff. The question has not reached Malaysia, as it would seem that locals really would rather be seen as independent.
[Source: Uber]
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Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) Series Launched in Malaysia, Retails From RM1799

Samsung has officially announced the arrival of the new Galaxy A8 (2018) in Malaysia. The Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) are the company’s new mid-range offerings, featuring IP68-rated bodies and a new dual front camera setup, and will retail from RM1799.
While they may be positioned as mid-range devices, Samsung has actually trickled down quite a number of flagship features to the new Galaxy A8 (2018) devices. In fact, the two phones even feature a dual-camera setup at the front, allowing for Live Focus for selfies – something the flagship Galaxy S8 and Note 8 devices do not offer.

The Galaxy A8 also feature the Infinity Display with slim bezels: the A8 sports a 5.6-inch 18.5:9 Super AMOLED display, while the A8+ features a larger 6-inch panel; both phones boast Full HD+ 2220 x 1080 resolutions.
The dual front camera, on the other hand, are made up of 16MP + 8MP sensors. The front cameras feature Live Focus, which simulates a shallow depth of field in your selfie shots. The rear camera, on the other hand, is a 16MP f/1.7 shooter with phase detection autofocus.
Rounding out the specifications of the Galaxy A8 and A8+ are an unspecified Exynos octa-core processor paired with 4GB (A8) or 6GB (A8+) of RAM, 32GB (A8) or 64GB (A8+) of expandable storage, IP68 water and dust resistance, a 3,000mAh battery (3,500mAh on the Galaxy A8+), and Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box.

The two phones run Android 7.1.1 out of the box, and feature a fingerprint scanner USB Type C fast charging, Bixby, and the Dual Messenger feature.
The Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and Galaxy A8+ (2018) will be available in three colours (Black, Gold, and Orchid Grey) and will retail for RM1799 and RM2499 respectively. They will go on sale nationwide from 19 January onwards, and there will also be an early bird promo from 19-21 January, where those who buy the Galaxy A8 phones will receive a free 64GB Samsung Evo Plus microSD card and a 10000mAh power bank with Type C connector.
For more information, check out our review of the Galaxy A8 (2018) here.
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Researchers Find Evidence Of Bitcoin Price Manipulation Back In 2013

Researchers looking into the Mt Gox Bitcoin exchange hack in 2013 have claimed that someone was manipulating cryptocurrency prices at the time. This is due to sudden increases in Bitcoin value that coincided with specific times at which suspicious activity took place within the exchange.
Researchers Neil Gandal, JT Hamrick, Tyler Moore, and Tali Oberman have written a paper titled “Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem”; which describes how a small number of bad actors are capable of impacting the price of cryptocurrencies. In the event studied, the price of Bitcoin jumped from $150 to $1000 over the course of two months.
According to the researchers, the Bitcoin exchange rate rose by four percent on days when suspicious trading activity was conducted. This stood in contrast with the days when nothing suspicious happened and the exchange rate actually declined.

This manipulation was supposedly done by a pair of bots – Markus and Willy. Both of which are said to conducted Bitcoin trades using currency neither actually owned. It is also suspected that this price manipulation happened after 650,000 BTC was stolen from Mt Gox; and took advantage of owner Mark Karpeles’ attempts to cover the situation up.
The researchers are not exactly saying that the use of cryptocurrency is a bad thing. Instead, they are advocating that people understand how price manipulation could happen in a decentralised system with no regulation. This is especially since the explosion of different currencies makes for markets with very few buyers and sellers; which results more vulnerability to price manipulation.
[Source: Techcrunch]
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2018 Will Be A Great Year To Buy A New Laptop

The annual CES trade show is usually filled with countless huge TV announcements, and while this year is more of the same, CES 2018 was a little busier than usual. Thanks mainly to companies like Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm, mobile computing is about to become very, very exciting.
Just as Nvidia and AMD did in 2017 in the desktop PC market, a similar scene is being acted out in the world of laptops. Barely a year after Nvidia’s 10-series of notebook GPUs (as well as its Max-Q design GPUs) are making powerful laptops slimmer, this renaissance is being accelerated with the introduction of some new innovations by hardware companies.
Mainstream gaming – without the heft

The holy grail of a gaming laptop has always been to maximise performance without making it too bulky. An Ultrabook with basic gaming capabilities are usually a compromise for most users, usually equipped with an entry level Nvidia card like the GeForce MX150 or even relying on Intel’s UHD Graphics integrated GPU. But thanks to an unprecedented partnership between longtime rivals Intel and AMD, a proper gaming Ultrabook will be a reality in 2018.
The partnership sees Intel integrating AMD’s new Vega-based chips into its processors. The Intel 8th Generation Core with Radeon RX Vega M Graphics, as they are officially called, sees Intel’s mainstream Core i processors paired with AMD’s new Vega chips with HBM2 and connected via Intel’s new EMIB technology. The results are stunning, to say the least.
Intel’s official brief shows that this new chip offers graphics performance along the same level as a laptop with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 to a Max Q GTX 1060. If real-life performance turns out to be similar to what Intel claims, this is astonishing, and great news not just for mobile gamers, but for creative professionals who need the extra power when on the move.

The new Intel Core with Radeon Vega chips integrate both CPU and GPU in one package. This means there is more space for larger batteries in a smaller chassis, and therefore the promise of better battery life. The end result naturally depends on the OEMs like Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, who now have an thrilling prospect in their hands: can they create a proper, no compromises laptop that has the perfect mix of gaming performance, battery life, weight, thermal control, and price?
MacBook Pro Killers

At CES 2018, Dell and HP both released their first laptops with this chip. The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 has a slim 16mm body, and yet packs everything you’d expect from a modern productivity laptop. There’s Dell’s sexy InfinityEdge 15.6-inch 4K touch display with 100% Adobe RGB coverage, up to 1TB SSD, and up to 32GB of RAM. Its large 75Wh battery is also rated for up to 15 hours of use. Unfortunately it only sports three USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports (one for charging), an audio jack, and a microSD card slot.
Meanwhile, the HP Spectre x360 15 is HP’s take on a slim and powerful laptop. It is also a 2-in-1 convertible, and has a 15.6-inch 4K touch display. There is a superior range of ports compared to the XPS, thanks to two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, and a full sized SD card slot. There’s even space for a side-mounted fingerprint reader, IR webcam, and a 84Wh battery that promises 13.5 hours of use.

Both the Dell and HP laptop run on the new Intel Core i processor with Radeon RX Vega M, and both – on paper – outperform the 2017 MacBook Pro in a variety of ways. The custom Radeon Pro 560 on the MacBook Pro is slower than the performance stated by Intel for the RX Vega M GL. There is a healthier selection of ports, especially on the HP Spectre x360 15. Finally, the prices (from $1299 for the XPS and $1370 for the Spectre) are nowhere near what Apple sells the MacBook Pro for (from $2399).
Make no mistake, these laptops aren’t just “gaming-ready” laptops, they’re great for creative professionals too. Photographers and even video editors may find these laptops worth investing in as a mobile editing machine.
The AMD factor

It is tough to understate AMD’s role in all of this. The company basically rose from the dead with the launch of its Ryzen desktop processors last year, and now the company’s attention shifts to doing the same on laptops. Ryzen Mobile, announced late last year, promises greater CPU and GPU performance, as well as better battery life thanks to its lower power draw compared to Intel chips.
The Ryzen Mobile chips, according to AMD, performed even better than the company’s original targets: instead of having 50% more CPU performance as well as 40% higher GPU performance than its own 7th generation APU chips while using 50% less power, Ryzen Mobile offers up to 200% and 128% more performance in CPU and GPU respectively, and at 58% less power consumption.

The first Ryzen Mobile laptops are now appearing, such as the HP Envy x360 in December and the Acer Nitro 5 with Ryzen Mobile which was announced at CES. More will surely follow, but one thing does appear to be clear: AMD’s resurgence will eventually bring about more affordable laptops as it chips away at Intel’s dominance. After all, if a laptop performs similarly (or even potentially better), and has greater battery life, who wouldn’t give AMD a shot?
Nvidia’s retaliation

Intel definitely won’t be the only ones feeling the heat from AMD. With laptops fitted with Intel Core with Radeon Vega chips likely to be favoured ahead of those with an MX150 or GTX 1050, Nvidia will definitely not take this standing down.
At CES 2018, Nvidia focused on its automotive chips, which it hopes to be an important area of its business in the near future. It did not, however, reveal anything for its PC hardware department (besides the BFG monitor standard).

With the announcement of Core i with Vega and Vega Mobile at CES 2018, you can be sure that Nvidia will be ready to retaliate in kind. Its position as the leading GPU chipmaker won’t be so easily threatened, and we can expect Nvidia to release new products to address this. And at the end of that tunnel, there is only one winner: the consumer.
And then there’s Qualcomm…

While there is naturally plenty of excitement surrounding the Core i with Vega M chips, Qualcomm appears to also be ready to step up into the world of Windows machines. Its Snapdragon 835 chip, which is running on most of 2017’s flagship Android smartphones, are now tuned to run Windows 10 (and Windows 10 S).
Two devices (the Asus NovaGo and the HP Envy X2) have already been announced, and at CES 2018, Lenovo unveiled the Miix 630. All three run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset with X16 LTE modem, which allows for an always-connected device – just like a smartphone. Qualcomm also touts that another strong benefit for these Snapdragon-powered devices are exceptional battery life in a smaller form factor: Qualcomm says that they will last up to 25 hours on a single charge (depending on device).

With a starting price of $799 (about RM3170), the Miix 630 – and other Snapdragon Windows machines – will likely appeal to students and those who aren’t looking for anything more than a laptop for web browsing, some minor productivity work, and long battery life.
Farewell to a legacy, hello to an exciting future

In fact, the timing of this mobile revolution is rather quaint. Ten years ago (almost to the day), Apple released the MacBook Air, changing the landscape of mobile computing forever. It took closer to half a decade before Windows OEMs even managed to achieve a similar level of performance in such a compact laptop.
A decade since the MacBook Air, it certainly looks like we’ll be spoilt for choice like never before, should we be in the market for a new laptop. What we saw at CES 2018 was a tantalising taste of what’s to come this year. Whether it is a thin and light gaming laptop, compact productivity machines with all-day battery life, or even something totally new altogether, 2018 is going to be a great year to buy a new laptop.
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Biostar Unveils The B250MDC Entry-level Motherboard

Biostar has unveiled its latest product in the form of a motherboard. Dubbed the B250MDC, Biostar’s latest mainboard is made to cater for casual PC users who mostly use their computers for lightweight tasks. The company has stated that this motherboard is targeted towards budget-oriented consumers as well.
When it comes to design, the Biostar B250MDC features an all black PCB along with handful of yellow-coloured components. It’s worth noting that this motherboard comes in the micro-ATX form factor, which means it can easily be fitted into most PC cases. For those who may not be aware, this mainboard is equipped with Intel’s B250 chipset. This means that it’s compatible with Kaby Lake processors.
The Biostar B250MDC motherboard also features two DDR4 DIMM RAM slots (supports up to 32GB of 2400MHz memory); one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot; four USB 3.1 ports; two USB 3.1 ports; and four SATA3 connectors. Video output options include: one DVI connector and one VGA port.
Those aside, local pricing and date of release for this mainboard was not mentioned by Biostar at the time of writing. Despite this, the B250MDC has already been made available for sale in selected regions with a price tag of US$59.99 (about RM237).
(Source: TechPowerUp)
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CES 2018: Cooler Master New MasterWatt Maker PSUs Are Able To Provide Live Updates

Not enough with CPU coolers and PC cases, Cooler Master has also brought along several new power supply units (PSUs) to CES 2018. Among them are two PSU families called the MasterWatt V, and the MasterWatt Maker.
MasterWatt V Series

The MasterWatt V Series of PSUs will essentially come in variants of 550W, 650W, and 750W. All of them will be fully modular and also come with an 80PLUS Gold ratings, so you’re pretty much guaranteed about 92% percent power efficiency from the PSU.
Additionally, Cooler Master has also increased the maximum operating temperatures of these PSUs to 50 degrees Celsius, allowing for longer sustainability in situations where heat is an issue for the PC it is powering (e.g. a cyber cafe, or a room with poor ventilation). Not to forget, these PSUs are also covered by a 10-year warranty.

MasterWatt Maker

Available in either 1,200W and 1,500W iterations, the MasterWatt Maker can be deemed as the latest flagship PSU series from Cooler Master. They are apparently the company’s most extreme and powerful PSUs to-date and come with 80PLUS Platinum rating, which means that they are able to deliver 94% power efficiency.
But what really make these PSUs stand out from the rest are the two features that Cooler Master has implemented with it: Cooler Master Connect v2.0, and Overlay.live.
A brief look at how the new Overlay.live feature works.
In general, Overlay.live is a cloud-based monitoring software that essentially allows users to broadcast real-time data in livestreams. In both theory and practice, this extra data would give streamers and their respective viewers more accurate statistics of their system, especially if they happen to be overclocking enthusiasts.
In the case of Cooler Master Connect v.20, the feature gives the MasterWatt Maker PSUs a suite of new tools that can be used in line with Overlay.live. Cooler Master has also pushes things further by implementing Bluetooth connectivity into both MasterWatt Maker PSUs which allows users to sync their mobile devices to these PSUs in order to gain near real-time information via MasterPlus+ program.
Just like the rest of Cooler Master’s other products, the company has yet to announce local pricings and availability for these PSUs.
(Source: AnandTech, Overlay.live)
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CES 2018: Cooler Master New CPU Coolers Are Quite Hard To Ignore

Besides the PC cases, Cooler Master has also announced some new CPU coolers at CES 2018. As always, the company provides consumers with two type of coolers – air-cooled and water-cooled – in order to suit their needs.
MasterAir G100M

Starting off the list is an UFO-shaped air-based cooler which you might seen before from our coverage of Computex 2017. However, the cooler now has officially been named as the MasterAir G100M.
Thanks to the RGB LEDs that are built into the ring and fan of cooler, it would be really hard not to notice the G100M. The cooler also features a new custom heat column technology, which Cooler Master says is designed to provide a wider and more direct contact surface area, all in the name of better heat dissipation and cooling performance.
It’s also a relatively low-profile cooler, with a maximum column height of only 46.3mm, and a maximum power draw of just 130W. This makes it perfect for compact builds, and for those looking to build low-profile systems.

MasterLiquid ML240

Another CPU cooler that Cooler Master has brought to CES 2018 is the MasterLiquid ML240 SMART. For those that are familiar with Cooler Master’s liquid cooler line-up would immediately able to notice that this model comes with a 240mm radiator as indicated by its name.
What sets this AiO cooler apart from its predecessor is that it is equipped with Cooler Master’s new RGB LED lighting that also has a temperature detection function aptly named SMART. These sensors can be synched up to compatible RGB controllers of Cooler Master’s other components partners, such as ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI, and ASRock.
Simply put, users who decidedly get this particular cooler (when it becomes available) can set it so that all 16.7million colors of the RGB change at different CPU temperature levels.
The SMART temperature detection isn’t limited to just the ML240 SMART though. The feature will be made available to many of Cooler Master’s other models, such as the ML240R, ML120R, and the MasterAir MA410M, to name a few.
At the time of writing, Cooler Master had yet to announce the local pricings and availability for these coolers. We’ll keep you posted once we receive further updates from Cooler Master Malaysia.
(Source: AnandTech, Cooler Master (1))
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TM and TNB To Collaborate Together For Nationwide Fiberisation Plan

Telekom Malaysia and Tenaga Nasional have announced that they will be partnering together to deliver Nationwide Fiberization Plan (NFP) which was announced by the government early last year. Both companies have formalized their intention to work together through a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed earlier today.
Already on-going since last year, NFP will involved six million premises with around two million of them are located in rural areas. TNB will be involved heavily in the project as government is planning to utilize the power company’s extensive fiber network as the foundation.
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The Tag Heuer Connected Full Diamond Is a RM780,000 Smartwatch

Tag Heuer’s range of Connected smartwatches are pretty sleek – albeit very costly – devices, but the watchmaker’s new Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 Full Diamond takes it to a whole new level. See, this is a RM780,000 smartwatch, and as its name suggests, it is adorned in diamonds.
For that kind of money, the Full Diamond Android Wear smartwatch features a case made out of 18K PD125 polished white gold. On top of that, 589 VVS baguette size diamonds are fitted on the bezel, lugs, and bracelet. Collectively, the smartwatch has a total of 23.35 carats of diamonds – very luxurious.
Beyond the sheer amount of diamonds, the Connected Modular 45 Full Diamond is identical in terms of hardware to the regular Connected Modular 45 smartwatch. These include a 1.39-inch 400 x 400 AMOLED display, an Intel Atom Z34XX processor paired with 512MB of RAM, as well as 4GB of internal storage.

What makes Tag Heuer’s range of Connected smartwatches interesting is the fact that the electronics can be swapped out for an Haute Horlogerie mechanical module – the same applies to the Full Diamond smartwatch. This, in turn, can really extend the lifespan of the very, very costly device, especially once the hardware inside the smartwatch are obsolete.
The Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 Full Diamond retails at 190,000 Swiss Francs, which comes up to about RM780,000. It’s a costly smartwatch, that’s for sure, but if you absolutely must own a diamond-studded wearable, Tag Heuer has just the product for you.
(Source: Tag Heuer via The Verge)
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CES 2018: Cooler Master Launches New Masterbox Q-Series, Stryker SE and Trooper SE Cases

Back at CES 2018, Cooler Master quietly announced a plethora of new products during the event. From new PSUs and CPU coolers, to new PSUs, the list looks seemingly endless. Let’s start off with some of the new PC cases that were introduced at the event.
Masterbox MB500

First on the list of Cooler Master’s new cases at CES 2018 is its Masterbox MB500. Like the majority of readily available PC cases on the market, the MB500 is a fully modular mid-tower casing, and it comes with a tempered glass side panel. Specs-wise, the casing is able to support for three 120mm or two 140mm fans at the front, two 120mm fans at the top, and a single 120mm at the rear of the casing.
This allotment also means that the casing is also capable of supporting a 360mm radiator at the front, plus enough space to house a graphics cards that is 400mm long. At the base of the casing, the MB500 can support PSUs with a length of up to 180mm.

Furthermore, the casing still has enough room to house a maximum of four 2.5-inch SSDs, and up to two 3.5-inch HDDs. At the front, the MB500 only houses two USB 3.0 ports and the usual audio in and out ports.

The Stryker SE and Trooper SE, Refreshed
The Cooler Master Stryker SE.
For those of us who remember the (now defunct) CM Storm brand that Cooler Master used to market its more aggressive looking and semi-experimental casings, you may be happy to know that the company is bringing back two designs from that era: the Stryker SE and Trooper SE.
On the outside, the casings still retain their respective designs from when they were made nearly seven years ago. The side panels and innards, however, are a different story altogether; the refreshed iterations feature a new edge-to-edge tempered glass side panel, and inside, both models come with fittings that allow vertical installation of SSDs as well as graphics cards.
The Cooler Master Trooper SE.
A returning feature to the refreshed Stryker SE and Trooper SE is the X-Dock, a hot swappable external 2.5-inch storage bay that gamers can use to swap out storage drives on the fly. Of course, one more obvious difference between the current models and their predecessors is the absence of the CM Storm logo.
In terms of cooling support, both the Stryker SE and Trooper SE are capable housing a 360mm radiator at the front, as well as a 240mm radiator at the top of the casings.

Masterbox Q-Series
The Masterbox Q300L.
The Masterbox Q-Series is actually a new lineup that Cooler Master is adding to its already growing list of casings. Designed for mATX builds, the series comprises of two models, the Masterbox Q300L and the Masterbox Q300P.

For the Masterbox Q300L, one of its most noticeable feature is its polygonal-designed dust filter at the front, which latches itself to the front of the casing via the use of magnets built into its lining.
On the Masterbox Q300P, Cooler Master foregoes this dust filter and has instead opted to keep the design for this model clean and simple. It also features diagonally installed handles that allows for easy transportation of the rig.
The Masterbox Q300P.
Both the Q300L and Q300P also come with a unique I/O design by having their ports on the side of the casings. On that note, both models come with cooling support for a 240mm radiator at the top and front, one 120mm fan at the rear of the casing, and a slot for one 120mm fan at the base of the casing.
For those that love to have some bling on their case, both of these Masterbox models come with support for RGB lights through the RGB controller that comes together with these cases.
At the time of writing, Cooler Master had not announced local pricing or availability for these casings, but word is that the company is looking to make these cases available throughout the world within the first half of 2018.
(Source: Cooler Master (1), (2), AnandTech)
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