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Another day, another Adobe Acrobat vulnerability. I don’t know about you, but Adobe’s Update tool is a cheery presence on my computer, and I welcome its seemingly daily intrusion into my life to update software that I only use now and again.

But this is actually a serious issue. McAfee reckons that, by the end of 2010, Adobe Acrobat will represent the number one target for hackers who want to compromise your system. We might joke about it but these vulnerabilities are very serious for individuals and businesses.

Just what is the problem with Adobe Acrobat? Is it really pushed out of Adobe’s door full of more holes than Swiss cheese? Or does Adobe merely have bad luck?

The answer boils down to differing perceptions.

To you and me, PDF files are a quite useful way of distributing documents in read-only format. End of story.

To you and me, the Acrobat Reader software is a handy app that gets fired up every now and again to view PDF files.

Can you see the problem? The security issues have their origins in the fact that Acrobat and the PDF format are just so darned complicated (and, for what it’s worth, the bolted-on extras are why it takes Acrobat so long to start-up).

It’s tempting to accuse Adobe of adding in bloat, but that would be unfair. PDF is a useful business document format that offers a number of functions that are vital to some corporate workflows, such as digital signing. The trouble is that a comparative minority of users need such high-level functionality, but to make a valid business case for using PDF, Adobe must ensure all versions of its PDF software are entirely compatible with every bell and whistle.

That’s why we end-up with massively overengineered and buggy software that almost everybody uses merely to view simple PDFs (and, occasionally, fill in forms).

One solution is to use other freely available PDF readers, such as FoxIT or Sumatra. But don’t think these are perfect; FoxIt was recently updated to fix a number of vulnerabilities.

The all-new Acrobat X

But there is a way for Adobe to have its cake and eat it. All it needs do is release a “light” version of Acrobat that’s missing all the bolt-ons that cause the majority of security issues. In other words, it would be a version of Acrobat Reader that does nothing other than display the majority of PDF files out there right now. People have been hacking their own versions of Acrobat for years to do something similar by removing various plugins.

Yes, this might cause problems for certain users, but if anybody should happen to open a PDF that has sophisticated functionality then a dialog box could pop up, asking if the user wants to perform an automated upgrade to the full version of Reader.

Having distributed my own PDF files, I’ve learned there are a great many people who cling to old versions of Acrobat Reader–versions that are five or even 10 years old. They do so simply because Adobe Acrobat has turned into a beast they no longer want on their system. Producing a lighter version of Acrobat Reader could help claw back such users, along with those who have switched to rival products such as FoxIT and Sumatra.

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How To Fix A Blank “Save As” Screen In Adobe Acrobat Reader

Do you see a blank “Save As” screen in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC or Pro DC? We’ll explain why that happens and how you can fix the problem on both the PC and Mac.

A blank “Save As” screen in Adobe Acrobat Reader shows up when the application has trouble connecting to Adobe’s cloud storage service—a.k.a. the Adobe Document Cloud. The same issue can occur in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Table of Contents

Work through the solutions below, and you should be able to fix the blank “Save As” screen in Adobe Acrobat on your PC or Mac.

Disable Adobe Acrobat’s Online Storage Options

The easiest way to fix the blank “Save As” screen in Adobe Acrobat involves configuring the application to stop loading Adobe cloud services. To do that:

Select

General

on the left pane of the Preferences dialog box.

Uncheck the box next to

Show

online storage

when saving files

. Also, disable the

Show

online storage

when saving files

checkbox if you run into the problem while opening files.

Select

OK

to save your changes.

If you don’t use Adobe’s cloud storage service, stopping it from loading should not interfere with your workflow. However, if you do, try re-enabling the Show online storage when saving files option after a few minutes. Move on with the rest of the fixes if you run into the problem again.

Force-Quit and Relaunch Adobe Acrobat

In most cases, force-quitting and relaunching Adobe Acrobat fixes unexpected problems that crop up in the application. You can do that using the Windows Task Manager or the macOS Activity Monitor.

Windows

Select

More details

to expand the default Task Manager view.

Locate

Adobe Acrobat DC

under the

Processes

tab.

Select

End Task

.

Repeat for other Adobe-related background processes—e.g.,

Adobe Acrobat

Update Service

,

Adobe AcroCEF

,

Adobe Collaboration Synchronizer

, etc.

Exit the Task Manager.

Mac

Select

Acrobat Reader

/

Pro

under the

CPU

tab.

Repeat for any other Adobe-related processes—e.g.,

AdobeCRDaemon

.

Exit the Activity Monitor.

After force-quitting Adobe Acrobat, relaunch the program, open a PDF file, and test if the blank save pop-up issue is gone.

Check the Adobe System Status

If the blank “Save As” screen issue in Adobe Reader DC or Pro DC persists, it’s a good idea to confirm that there’s nothing wrong with the Adobe servers.

Sign Out & Back Into Adobe Acrobat

The following fix involves signing out and back into Adobe Acrobat. That could help the application re-establish a proper connection to Adobe’s cloud storage services.

Open Adobe Acrobat on your PC or Mac.

Select your profile portrait on the top-right of the window.

Select

Sign out

.

Quit and re-open Adobe Acrobat.

Sign back in with your Adobe account credentials.

Restart Your PC or Mac

Restarting your PC or Mac is another solution to persistent cloud storage issues with Adobe Acrobat. Do that if you haven’t already and check if the problem recurs.

Note: While restarting a Mac, deselect the Reopen windows when logging back in option to stop macOS from saving and relaunching a malfunctioning Adobe Acrobat application state.

Update Adobe Acrobat to Its Latest Version

Adobe frequently releases updates that resolve persistent issues in Adobe Acrobat Reader and Pro DC. To check for and install pending updates, open the Help menu and select Check for updates. If there’s a pending update, select Yes to install it.

Add Adobe Acrobat As Firewall Exception

Next, ensure that Adobe Acrobat is not barred from connecting online. Here’s what you must do to allow the application unrestricted internet access with the built-in firewalls on Windows and macOS.

Note: If you use a third-party security solution, refer to its online FAQ or documentation for firewall-related instructions.

Windows

Open the

Start menu

and select

Windows Security

on your programs list.

Select

Browse

.

Visit the following directory and select

Acrobat.exe

:

Select

Add

.

Locate Adobe Check DC among the programs list and check the boxes next to

Private

and

Public

.

Select

OK

.

Mac

Open the

Apple menu

and select

System Settings

.

Select

Options

.

Select the

Add

icon.

Pick

Adobe Acrobat Reader

/

Pro DC

from the Applications folder and select

Open

.

Open the pull-down menu next to

Adobe Acrobat Reader

/

Pro DC

and select

Allow incoming connections

.

Select

OK

.

Uninstall and Reinstall Adobe Acrobat

The following fix involves uninstalling and reinstalling Adobe Acrobat on your Mac. That should eliminate connectivity issues with Adobe Document Cloud that stem from a corrupt program installation.

Windows

Select

Adobe Acrobat

and choose

Uninstall

.

Select

Uninstall

to confirm.

Mac

Open a Finder window and select

Applications

on the sidebar.

Enter your Mac’s user account password to authenticate the action.

If the error persists, use an app removal tool like Revo Uninstaller (Windows) or AppCleaner (Mac) to delete Adobe Acrobat before reinstalling it.

Contact Adobe Support

Stopping Adobe Acrobat Reader or Pro from loading Adobe cloud services usually fixes the “Save As” blank window issue. However, if that’s not an ideal solution and none of the fixes above help, it’s time to contact Adobe Support. They should be able to provide additional troubleshooting suggestions based on your PC or Mac setup. Try out an alternative PDF reader and editor like Foxit in the meantime.

5 Myths About Android You Shouldn’t Believe

Since Android is an open-source operating system, it’s open to a lot of misconceptions. It may seem like a lie, but despite the things that the operating system has accomplished, there are still some that don’t trust it because of those false myths.

Myth 1: Switch to 2G to Save Battery Life

It’s true that 2G does use less power than 3G, but constantly changing between the two will consume a lot of your device’s battery. The best thing you can do is stick with one and take the necessary precautions to save battery.

Myth 2: Android Is Too Complicated for Beginners

Many users think that Android is just too complicated and that they will have a hard time getting the hang of things. Steve Ballmer’s 2011 words didn’t help when he said that you have to be a computer scientist to use an Android device. Time has proven that Ballmer was wrong because Android would not be as popular as it is today if you had to be a computer scientist to use it. The key is to start with simple tasks first, and once you have mastered that move onto more complicated things, but never try to do something you are simply not ready for. If you do run into something you can’t figure out, I’m sure it’s not anything a simple Google search or a tutorial or two can’t fix.

Myth 3: Task Killers Are Extremely  Necessary for Android

We have all come across arguments about whether task killers are needed or not, but the truth is that they may actually be hurting your device. Task killers only tell you how much memory they are freeing up and don’t tell you the number of CPU cycles the app uses. What’s important here is the CPU and not the memory since it’s the CPU that makes your device slow as s snail. You will actually be slowing down your Android device with these task killers since some of the apps you kill will start back up again, using your device’s CPU.

Myth 4: Android Is Malware City

Myth 5: Android Crashes or Lags More Than iOS

You may have also heard that Android crashes and lags more than the competition. In the beginning, Android did lag, but which system didn’t, right? When using Android you are more likely to encounter crashes and lags right after downloading a new build of an app or after getting a new version of Android. Android 6.0 is still in its early stages, and a lot of users have reported issues, but you can bet that it’s not going to stay like that forever. The updates will come, and the lags and crashes will disappear.

The main factors as to why your Android device has these problems is because of excessive manufacturer customizations to the software, not enough hardware power, and poorly optimized third-party apps. But, if you are using a device with enough power and apps from the right sources, you should be fine.

Conclusion

Judy Sanhz

Judy Sanhz is a tech addict that always needs to have a device in her hands. She loves reading about Android, Softwares, Web Apps and anything tech chúng tôi hopes to take over the world one day by simply using her Android smartphone!

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Shark Attacks Are So Unlikely, But So Fascinating

– An undated photo – of a Great White shark which can now be repelled by a electronic shark shield…

Chomp.

Sharks are incredibly unlikely to bite you. They’re even less likely to kill you. However, we remain fascinated with their ability–and occasional proclivity–to do just that. With so many things more likely to harm us, why do we pay such rapt attention when sharks make headlines?

As a shark researcher and curator of the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), it’s a question I think about each spring when I prepare my annual report of shark-attack statistics. This year we had some good news: In 2014 fatalities were down worldwide, as were attacks. In the US, attacks were up only slightly from 47 last year to 52, with most of those being minor incidents that are more like dog bites than something out of Jaws.

There wasn’t a single fatality in the entire country last year and only three worldwide. In the past decade, the US has averaged less than one per year. To put that into perspective, more people die from drowning every day in this country than were killed by sharks in ten years. In 2013, more people in the U.S. died from encounters with nonvenomous insects, and a lot more–62–were killed by hornets, wasps and bees, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Underlying Cause of Death database.

When you enter the ocean, you’re on their turf. Alex Proimos, CC BY-NC

We’re in their aquatic territory more now

When you think of how much time we spend in the water, it’s amazing how innocuous shark and human interaction is. When the ISAF began in the 1950s, scientists were concerned primarily with shark attacks after ships and aircraft went down at sea.

A lot has changed since then. There are a lot more of us on earth today than there were back then and there will be even more tomorrow. Aquatic recreation has never been more popular. More people are kayaking, surfing, diving and paddleboarding.

More time in the water means more time to interface with sharks. Stefan Schmitz, CC BY-ND

Numbers may go up, but we’re learning

That’s why, even though fatalities are rare, we can expect to see an increase in the number–but not rate–of attacks. There aren’t a lot of things in science that I am willing to predict with certainty, but I am confident that in the second decade of this century we will see more attacks than in the first. That said, attacks are not rising as fast as we might suppose they would because we’re doing a better job of heeding beach safety and people are more shark-savvy than they were a decade ago. We’re starting to understand how to avoid sharks.

At the ISAF, we investigate every reported shark attack. Some are reported by hospitals, some by volunteers and scientists around the world. Others we find out about through traditional or social media.

In each case, through investigation we confirm that the guilty party was actually a shark. (You’d be surprised how many people who say they were bitten by a shark were bitten by something else, or not bitten at all.) We analyze the bite, which tells us the size of the shark, and sometimes the species. The ecological and behavioral circumstances surrounding the incident–from both the human and shark perspectives–give clues as to why the interaction occurred.

A little knowledge goes a long way. Andreas, CC BY-NC-ND

Tracking helps with prevention

A great white shark leaps from South African waters

Despite its fearsome reputation and sharp teeth, the Great White is not usually one to attack humans.

People need to understand more fully that when we enter the sea, it’s a wilderness experience. We’re eco-tourists and are not owed the right to be 100% safe. That’s what fascinates us about sharks: There’s an innate concern in our psyches about not wanting to get eaten. Almost every other animal on earth has to worry about getting eaten night and day. As humans, we rarely have that concern. People hold sharks in awe as one of the rare species that reminds us we’re still potentially part of a food chain.

You’re much more likely to be injured or die during your evening run than in a shark attack, but don’t expect to turn on the Discovery Channel and see Sneaker Week. For better or worse, we’re hard-wired to pay attention to creatures that can eat us–even if they rarely do.

George Burgess is the director of the University of Florida Program for Shark Research and curator of the International Shark Attack File.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Review: Better, But Still Buggy

Pros

Dual-screen experience is exemplary

Surprisingly good daytime shots

Very good battery life

Great performance

Cons

Incredibly expensive

Thick when folded back, surprisingly heavy when opened

Dual-screen design makes it awkward to shoot photos

Camera suffers in low light, portrait shots

Still buggy

Our Verdict

Microsoft still believes in its dual-screen phone/tablet hybrid. Its vision is coming closer, but isn’t quite there. Hold out for the Surface Duo 3.

Best Prices Today: Microsoft Surface Duo 2

Retailer

Price

$1499.99

View Deal

Microsoft’s new Surface Duo 2 smartphone poses a problem.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that skepticism, and apply it with a fresh eye towards some key questions: Does the Surface Duo 2 succeed as part of the Windows ecosystem? How does it compare to other Android phones? Does it solve the issues that plagued the first Surface Duo? And can it work as both a traditional phone, as well as some new breed of productivity device? Customers certainly never saw the original Surface Duo as anything special, and it tanked. Microsoft saw dual screens and the way it integrated into the app ecosystem as the selling points. Customers expected a quality camera, NFC, 5G, and wireless recharging.

The Surface Duo 2 represents Microsoft’s attempt to reach a middle ground. Yes, it checks some of the boxes people asked for, but little more. The camera is just okay, there are still bugs, and the price tag is outrageous. But under certain conditions, it shines.

Camera bumps aren’t that unusual with modern smartphones, and Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 joins the club.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Surface Duo 2 configurations and pricing

The Surface Duo 2 costs an astounding $1,499.99, minimum, for the base model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Two other versions are available: a 256GB SSD model ($1,599.99) and the top-of-the-line Surface Duo 2 with 512GB of storage, for $1,799.99. If you buy into the Microsoft ecosystem, you’ll be saving most storage-chewing photos and videos to the OneDrive cloud anyway, which means that anything above the base model is superfluous.

Microsoft also sells a Surface Do 2 bumper ($39.99), which we didn’t test, which surrounds the Duo 2’s edge and provides some basic protection. It appears that most third-party cases are going the same route, with the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Riveter case ($89.95) from Otterbox adopting the same approach. If you’d like to ink on the Surface Duo 2, you can buy the Surface Slim Pen 2 ($129.99) and the Surface Duo 2 Pen Cover (price not disclosed yet) which will grip and charge the Slim Pen 2. The real thumb in your eye is the $40 Surface Duo 2 charger. No, Microsoft does not ship a charger alongside the Surface Duo 2 (thanks, Apple) and you’ll pay extra for the plug. There is no wireless charging. A USB-C cable is thankfully included, though, and for free.

The Surface Duo 2 is a dual-SIM phone, but with one eSIM and one physical SIM slot.

Surface Duo 2 basic features

Display: 5.8-inch AMOLED (1344×1892, 401 PPI, HDR, 90Hz, 800 nits max) (single screen); 8.3-inch AMOLED equivalent (2688×1892) (dual-screen equivalent); Corning Gorilla Glass Victus

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G

Memory: 8GB LPDDR5 DRAM

Storage: 128/256/512GB (256GB as tested)

Camera, rear-facing: Wide: 12MPixel, f/1.7 aperture, 27 mm, 1.4µm, dual pixel phase-detection autofocus (PDAF) and optical image stabilization (OIS); Telephoto: 12MP, f/2.4 aperture, 51 mm, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2X optical zoom/10X digital zoom; Ultra-Wide: 16MP, f/2.2 aperture, 13 mm, 1.0µm, 110o diagonal field of view with distortion correction

Camera, user-facing: 12MP, f/2.0, 24 mm,1.0µm

Network: WiFi 6 (802.ax), Bluetooth 5.1

Wireless: 5G (mmWave, sub-6); LTE Bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 46, 48, 66, 71

Battery: 4449mAh (rated)

Dimensions: 5.72 x 7.26 x 0.21in. (5.5mm) (open); 5.72 x 3.63 x 0.43 in. (11.0mm) (closed)

Weight: 284g / 0.63lb

Operating system: Android 11

Optional accessories: Surface Duo 2 Bumper ($39.99); Surface Duo 23W USB-C Charger ($39.99); Surface Slim Pen 2 ($129.99); Surface Duo 2 Pen Cover

The Surface Duo 2’s book-like pair of screens is the phone’s selling point, and it’s the obvious place to begin. Unlike, say, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold devices, there’s a distinct gap between the two displays — these are two separate screens, which can fold closed like a book or else fold back along itself. With the original Duo, this was the only way to take a photo, as there was just a single camera. With the Surface Duo 2, Microsoft invested in a rear-facing three camera array. Unfortunately, that creates a fairly thick camera bump that prevents the Duo 2 from flattening out when folded back on itself. It doesn’t seem to have any negative effect on either the camera or phone, however.

Microsoft loves to tout the engineering behind its Surface hinges, and yes, the Surface Duo 2 lives up to its reputation. The Duo 2 can sit, cocked at a 90 degree angle, so that one screen can display an email app (Outlook appends a “Sent on Surface Duo” signature by default) and the other can project Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard. (SwiftKey seems to be the only keyboard option instead of Gboard.) This is a fantastic orientation for content consumption, as I found while streaming the MLB playoffs while cooking dinner. The 5.8-inch AMOLED screen is also excellent for playing streamed cloud games from Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass.

This landscape orientation is quite useful for streaming video and games, but a persistent gyroscope glitch means that the screens often get stuck in a portrait orientation in multiple scenarios. It also can be a bit top-heavy, too, with the camera bump.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Quite a bit of the Surface Duo 2’s utility boils down to one contradiction: The Surface Duo 2 is most effective when used with two screens. Ergonomically, however, it’s most comfortable when only using one. It simply isn’t that comfortable to hold the Duo 2 in the “book” orientation for a prolonged period, while navigating and interacting with content. Part of that is due to the edge. While the Surface Duo 2 isn’t that thin, there’s a sort of “palmability” aspect to it where the Duo 2 leans into your hands like the Surface Pro 8’s kickstand digs into your thighs. (The bumper may solve this.) You’ll notice the size and weight almost immediately. The camera bump tends to overbalance it in some scenarios, too. This is a relatively massive phone.

Physically, I suspect most people prefer to use a phone either one-handed (nearly impossible across both screens) or two-handed, with one hand holding the phone and the other swiping and touching. You can certainly fold the phone back along itself, though you’ll only be able to use the right-hand screen, as the left shuts off.

Of course, that also means that the only way to take a photo is with the Surface Duo 2 unfolded, making you look like one of those weirdos who take photos with their iPad. Yes, you can kind of cheat by holding the phone in landscape mode, so that it looks (well, sort of) that you’re taking a photo with an ordinary phone. There’s really no cool way to take a portrait photo with the Surface Duo 2.

While it’s awkward to shoot photos with the Surface Duo 2, the ability to review your recent shots is undoubtedly useful.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The 90Hz displays on the Surface Duo 2 feel like a nice compromise between battery-sucking high-refresh-rate displays and slower, laggier screens. Scrolling was generally smooth and lag-free.

Is the Surface Duo 2 a successful productivity phone? Largely, yes

Those are the negatives. If the Surface Duo 2 does one thing right, it’s that working on dual screens — with certain apps, under certain conditions — is revelatory. The Duo 2 allows you to drag one app over another, “grouping” them. When the group is launched — say, an email app alongside your calendar — the arrangement makes perfect sense. Chatting with a friend on one screen while a playoff game streams on another? Fantastic…until you get carried away and rotate the phone into landscape mode. Then the Surface Duo 2 will put your chat app on the top screen and the keyboard on the other, hiding your stream until you compete your message.

Microsoft probably expects reviewers to gush a bit here about how well it all works. Let’s put it this way: If you can grok why a second monitor adds to your productivity, you intrinsically understand the Surface Duo 2’s core appeal. The Duo 2 is less effective when an app spans both screens: held like a book, the small gap between the displays is still a bit distracting. One app that Microsoft specifically included as a dual-screen demo — Asphalt 9: Legends — was supposed to span both screens, Nintendo DS-style, with controls on the lower screen and the main action taking place on the top screen while in landscape mode. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the app to span both screens. Otherwise, there was nothing that forced me to use spanned apps, so I didn’t.

The keyboard seems a little awkwardly crammed near the top for my tastes, and I prefer to still use my thumbs to type. Still, this is a PC-like phone.

Mark Hachman / IDG

I’m torn on the new Glance Bar, an edge-mounted notification bar vaguely like the 2014 Galaxy Note Edge. When closed, a sliver of the curved glass peeks out. Tap the power button (or just wait for a call) and a little icon will light up, showing you have a missed call. There’s really no discreet way to see who called or left a message, though, so you’ll still be forced to open your Duo 2 regardless.

The Surface Duo 2 glance bar offers minimal information.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Inking is surprisingly good. While the only ink-centric preloaded app on the Surface Duo 2 is OneNote, pairing with a Surface Slim Pen 2 was simple, palm rejection just worked without the need for any setup, and the ink jitter was minimal.

There’s also one other thing I really like about the Surface Duo 2: its surprisingly amazing fingerprint reader. The reader is built right into the tiny sliver that is the power button, and it consistently recognized me right away. Opening the Duo 2, brushing my finger across the power button and unlocking the phone/hiding notifications felt unexpectedly powerful for someone used to the “will it or won’t it” fingerprint reader on a Galaxy S20+.

Deadlines meant that I didn’t have too much time to play games on the Surface Duo 2, but the big screens certainly appeal to game players to that regard. Unfortunately, Microsoft claimed that games like Asphalt 9: Legends could be spanned across both screens; I simply couldn’t get that function to work, and Microsoft couldn’t offer any help.

Mark Hachman / IDG

There’s just one thing I’d like to see, and that’s for something to happen when I plugged the Surface Duo 2 into a Thunderbolt dock. For a company that tried and failed with Windows Phone’s Continuum five years ago, that’s a little disappointing. It leaves Samsung’s Dex as arguably the king of “your phone as your PC” implementations.

Is the Surface Duo 2 the next Windows phone?

No, not really. Besides the multitude of preloaded Microsoft-authored Android apps — from Bing to OneNote to Outlook to To-Do to “Start” news, all of which can be downloaded on other Android phones — there’s little that explicitly screams “Windows.” Some apps (like the Surface app and Surface Audio, which connects to the Surface Headphones) are specific to the Surface Duo 2, however.

Supposedly Your Phone Companion works with the Surface Duo 2, but apparently not. What it should be showing here is the Duo 2’s screen, allowing remote access from a PC.

Mark Hachman / IDG

Honestly, you’d expect more from Microsoft in this regard.

Does the Surface Duo 2 solve the problems of the first Surface Duo?

One of the problems reviewers and customers had with the first-generation Surface Duo was with the numerous bugs that cropped up. And yes, they’re still here. I experienced more than a few instances where the phone refused to switch from portrait to landscape mode. A camera app shot an image upside down because it refused to reorient itself. The SwiftKey keyboard lagged, and didn’t fill the screen in landscape mode. (The latter was probably a design choice.) The Surface Duo 2 kept popping up a message that I could switch an app from one screen to another by double-tapping, and then didn’t switch when I double-tapped. In the ESPN app, the app’s navigation buttons (“Scores,” “Watch,”, etc.) overlapped with the Duo 2’s navigation buttons, preventing me from interacting with the app’s navigation. (Locking and unlocking the Duo 2 solved that issue.) We mentioned the Your Phone Companion bug above.

To be fair, some of the phone’s problems can be fixed by simply understanding it better. The Surface Duo 2 runs Android 11, and I found gesture navigation — swiping up in various places to access either the app drawer or the running apps — to be astonishingly difficult. Switching the phone to use Android’s “soft buttons” at the bottom of the screen made a world of difference. You know how Android 11’s button navigation includes a “switch apps” button? Each screen has its own list of apps to switch between, which feels a bit odd.

A surprisingly useful tip is that swiping toward the center of the screen from the left or right edge is the equivalent of the “back” button, and allows you to navigate without readjusting your hands. It’s also fair to say that the dual screen can be also be understood as a “modality,” or simply another way to interact with data. It’s perfectly okay to use the Surface Duo 2 folded backwards on itself, then open it when necessary.

Yes, the Surface Duo now includes NFC, which worked with the Google GPay app. Weirdly, the Surface Duo seems to “lean” toward the right-hand screen, which houses the camera and tends to open apps by default. When using NFC, though, you tap the left-hand screen to the reader.

How does the Surface Pro Duo 2 compare?

The lack of a decent camera probably sounded the death knell for the original Surface Duo. Without a decent camera, consumers simply won’t bother buying a new phone. With the first Surface Duo, there was just one camera, and the device had to be oriented appropriately to take selfies as well as normal photos. With the Duo 2, there’s finally a proper rear-facing camera.

Is it up to snuff? Yes and no. In daylight, the Surface Duo 2 surprised me with the quality of its pictures. Color balance tended towards cool (or blue), but the main camera and the wide-angle lens delivered results that satisfied me. Selfies looked fine, too. Portrait mode seemed really iffy, though, with the camera struggling to lock on to the subject with the camera oriented vertically. A 2X optical-zoom telephoto also doesn’t quite measure up to the 3X optical zoom on an iPhone 13 Pro (which also costs $500 less than the Surface Duo 2, by the way).

At night, though, the Surface Duo 2 falls way behind the competition — by years, probably. Microsoft told us that they had largely designed the image sensor itself, tapping its Finnish engineering corps that had helped design the Lumia line. It doesn’t really measure up.

In the photos below, you’ll see that the Surface Duo 2 takes perfectly fine photos outside, in broad daylight, as nearly all cameras do. It’s when you start asking more of it — in portrait mode and in low-light situations — where it simply falls short. In most cases, we shot the same scene as closely as we could with a Samsung Galaxy S20+, Samsung’s 2023 flagship (either $1,200 or $1,350, depending on the storage options) for the people who couldn’t afford a $1,400 S20 Ultra.

A daylight photo from the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and the Surface Duo 2 (right) with no zoom. The Duo 2 tends to run a little cooler (bluer) in terms of its images.

The Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) compared to the Surface Duo 2 (right), cropped in at 259 percent zoom. The Duo 2 looks a little grainier, but otherwise both images look quite good.

Mark Hachman / IDG

The Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) compared to the Surface Duo 2 (right). Image edited to obscure the car’s license plate.

Using the image above as a reference, this is the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and its 30X “space” (digital) zoom (left) compared to the Surface Duo 2 (right) and its own 10X digital zoom. The Surface Duo 2’s zoom is a mishmash at extremes, losing a ton of detail.

Closeup (not macro) photo from the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and the Surface Duo 2 (right). The Surface Duo 2’s photo is dimmer, but it’s sharper.

Portrait mode on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and on the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 (right). Infuriatingly, the Surface Duo 2 decides to invoke portrait mode about a third partway up the image. There are some weird, jaggy artifacts near the top of the pelican’s beak, too. Interestingly, these problems largely went away if portrait mode was used with the phone held horizontally in its landscape orientation.

Night mode on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and on the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 (right). The Galaxy clearly lets in more light, while the Surface Duo 2 blows out its light sources to try and compensate.

Night mode with flash on the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (left) and on the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 (right). What you don’t see here is that the Surface Duo 2 requires several seconds to take the photo, too.

Performance is superb

With a phone that’s probably being used for productivity, web surfing, and streaming video first and foremost, it’s hard to argue that performance benchmarks will matter. Inside the Surface Duo 2 is a Snapdragon 888 5G, a processor that’s used in the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, among others. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy S20+, my daily driver with a Snapdragon 865 processor inside, the Duo 2 still felt a bit laggier when navigating through the interface.

Battery life seems more than sufficient as well. I charged the Surface Duo 2 up the night before, let it idle all night, then used it for a day of photos and working out and about and in the office. It had about 20 percent left at the end of the day. Using the PCMark battery rundown test that constantly asks a phone to perform various tasks with the screen on, it lasted 9 hours 59 minutes before giving up the ghost. That’s very good. Quick charging, is only officially supported via the Surface Charger, sold separately.

Conclusion: Cynicism is still justified

The old chestnut is that Microsoft is governed by the “rule of threes.” Like Windows 3.0, the third time’s the charm. We’d say the second time certainly isn’t, at least in the case of the Surface Duo 2.

Let’s face it: Some really, really big companies (Apple, Huawei, Samsung, Xiaomi) have spent very large amounts of money designing top-of-the-line cameras for their smartphones. Microsoft might hope that the Surface Duo 2’s camera is good enough, but it falls short in my book. In other areas — NFC and 5G — they’ve checked the boxes customers demanded.

Some of Microsoft’s old Lumia Windows Phones were good, and even great, but those were phones that few bought as Android and iOS took hold. The Surface Duo 2 accomplishes what Microsoft set out to achieve: Develop a productive dual-screen phablet-y device that absolutely works unlike anything else under certain scenarios. But it’s somewhat awkward, nerdy, and hugely expensive. And the bugs, still! I just can’t see Microsoft convincing smartphone buyers the way it can convince someone buying, say, a Surface Laptop Studio. On balance, the Surface Duo 2 still falls short.

Updated at 9:51 AM to clarify some details on how the Surface Duo 2 spans apps. Updated on Oct. 22 to note additional details about Your Phone and the “Phone Screen” feature.

Three Body Hacks You Shouldn’t Try At Home

Scientists and amateurs alike have been testing the effects of sending electrical currents across the scalp. Illustration by Chris Philpot

To improve themselves, a growing number of people are going beyond meditation or exercise. These brave pioneers are trying to hack their bodies with bacteria, special diets, and even electrical zaps.

1. Smell Better

Probiotic Perfume

Scientists are developing probiotics that are modified to produce more pleasant smells than the current bacteria living in your gut.

Humans don’t stink—it’s the bacteria eating our sweat and stomach contents that cause body odor. Avoiding meat and staying hydrated can tamp down some malodorous strains. But a more drastic measure is in the works. Personalized Probiotics is working with Cambrian Genomics to develop genetically modified bacteria that colonize the gut. Following the orders of specialized genes, the bacteria would produce pleasant-smelling compounds to mask the reek of their brethren. “All life is code,” says Austen Heinz, CEO of Cambrian Genomics. “Everything is editable.”

2. See Better

Food For Sight

A group of citizen scientists experimented with a diet to improve their eyes.

Jeffrey Tibbetts and a group of citizen scientists designed a diet to augment human sight. The all-liquid regimen cuts out vitamin A1, supposedly forcing the eyes’ light-sensitive proteins to incorporate vitamin A2 and shifting the visible spectrum. After several weeks, dieters claimed to see near-infrared light, and Tibbetts described perceiving enhanced colors that produced “the most fantastic sunsets in the world.” Actual scientists offer a darker view: The diet is more likely to cause deadly vitamin A deficiency than to work.

3. Think Better

Jump-start The Brain

Scientists and amateurs alike have been testing the effects of sending electrical currents across the scalp.

Studies suggest a little electricity across the scalp can relieve pain, increase focus, even tame bipolar disorder. Scientists are still testing the potential of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in trials where trained professionals use expensive medical grade devices. Meanwhile, intrepid amateurs are trying to develop their own tDCS tools from nine-volt batteries. These rigs are nothing like those in hospitals and labs, cautions biomedical engineer Marom Bikson: At least one DIYer claimed he went temporarily blind.

WARNING: Extreme body mods can have serious side effects. Until we engineer new bodies, take care of the one you’ve got.

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Three Body Hacks You Shouldn’t Try At Home”.

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