5 ways this UK uni in Johor gives students real-world training to prepare for their future careers

[This is a sponsored article with the University of Southampton Malaysia.]

You’ve just graduated from high school, and it’s normal to feel a little lost and unsure about what to study next.

Ideally, your chosen course and university should help prepare you for the real working world.

That said, many employers in Malaysia feel that graduates often lack essential professional skills for the workplace, suggesting that universities might not be offering enough chances for students to develop these critical abilities, reported NST.

It’s a valid concern, because excelling in academics and having the skills to thrive in a job are two different things.

The University of Southampton Malaysia (UoSM) understands this challenge. 

Did you know: University of Southampton is a UK university that expanded to Malaysia in 2012. It was part of the government’s initiatives to provide local students access to pursue their tertiary education in world-class universities.

To date, UoSM holds the title of being the top UK campus in Malaysia, and is ranked 81st in the world by QS World University Rankings 2023.

Located in Johor, here are five ways this top UK university can give you practical training to prepare for your future career.

1. Your classes will be taught through research-led teaching and hands-on projects

Classes taught in the Aerospace Laboratory and Bloomberg Suite / Image Credit: University of Southampton Malaysia

For most of our schooling lives, we’ve followed an exam-based system that requires us to memorise and revise chapter after chapter of our textbooks. 

And you may have wondered to yourself, how is this information going to be useful in the real world?

This is where hands-on projects come in. By actually using what you’ve learnt in class, you’ll get a feel for how it applies in real-world scenarios, which can prepare you for your future job.

At UoSM, you’ll get to work in the campus’s state-of-the-art facilities, such as a wind tunnel for engineering students, or a Bloomberg terminal for business programmes.

Hands-on in the Aerospace Lab and a close-up of the wind tunnel / Image Credit: University of Southampton Malaysia

Classes are also taught by academics who are not just experts in their fields, but also active researchers. In fact, 100% of UoSM’s academics in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are PhD holders. 

This means you’ll get up-to-date lessons and hear about the latest discoveries and research straight from your professors.

2. You’ll be learning alongside the best and brightest students in Malaysia and around the world

It’s natural to wonder about the people you’ll be surrounded by in any new environment. 

If you’re someone who takes your studies seriously, you’d likely prefer to be in a setting with other students who are just as passionate and eager to learn as you.

In that case, you might be pleased to know that UoSM is considered to have one of the highest entry requirements, out of all the foreign universities in Malaysia. The same goes for their UK campus as well.

Image Credit: University of Southampton Malaysia

This means getting into UoSM isn’t a walk in the park. But if you do, you’ll find yourself among some of the brightest minds in Malaysia and around the world. Since UoSM is a UK university with a presence in Malaysia, you’ll even graduate with the same degree as students from the UK campus.

By studying alongside these exceptional peers, you’ll be better prepared for the competitive job market ahead. 

3. You’ll get the chance to go on a transfer programme to study in the UK

While attending a local university might initially seem like the best option to stay close to family and friends, you might find yourself considering studying abroad later on.

If that’s the case, it’s worth checking out the short-term study-abroad opportunities your university offers.

At the University of Southampton’s UK campus / Image Credit: University of Southampton Malaysia

Being a branch of the UK’s main campus, UoSM offers several study-abroad options, especially for the university’s engineering students who have the 2+2 course structure. This means spending the first two years in Malaysia and then continuing the third and fourth years in the UK.

For Business and Computer Science students, you have the choice of either completing your entire programme (three years) in Malaysia, or transferring to the UK during your programme if you meet the criteria.

Studying abroad can also prepare you for the global job market. Being exposed to different cultures in uni can equip you with the soft skills to adapt to new and different situations, giving you a headstart in the working world.

4. You can get career readiness training including resume and interview workshops

One of the main reasons fresh graduates struggle to enter the workforce is due to low proficiency in English and a lack of soft skills like creativity, communication, and critical thinking. That’s according to the same NST article highlighted earlier.

Among the challenges graduates commonly encounter, communication stands out, especially during job interviews and in the workplace.

Image Credit: University of Southampton Malaysia

Hence, it’s essential for graduates to communicate effectively, which is a fundamental requirement for job interviews and success in the workforce.

To ensure you’re well-prepared for the real world, you can get UoSM’s career readiness training. These include workshops on resume writing and interview skills, helping you to feel confident and ready for future employment opportunities.

5. You’ll be studying at a globally recognised university

If your parents are anything like mine, they’d probably want to make sure you’re attending a university with a great reputation in the job market. After all, it’s something future employers will take into account when considering your education’s credibility.

UoSM is considered a world-class research university under the Russell Group, which puts it in the same league as Cambridge and Oxford.

Being the leading UK university in Malaysia, UoSM also has some impressive industry partnerships, so you don’t have to stress too hard about landing that internship or kick-starting your career. 

Some of UoSM’s notable partners include Petronas, Dyson, Frost & Sullivan, TalentCorp, and Western Digital.

Image Credit: University of Southampton Malaysia


All in all, choosing a university where you’ll spend the next few years can seem like an overwhelming decision, as it is the first major step into your future career.

If you’re seeking a place that can boost your career prospects after graduation, UoSM’s approach can guide you in developing your professional skills and knowledge within a supportive and holistic setting.

UoSM is currently open for its July and September intakes, and you can check out the university’s course offerings on its website.

  • Learn more about the University of Southampton Malaysia here.
  • Read about other education-related articles we’ve written here.

Featured Image Credit: University of Southampton Malaysia

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Charting the ‘flight path’ for Copilot for Microsoft 365

“Copilot is so much more than a new feature within Microsoft 365. It’s about transforming the way people work.”

Whether it’s drafting a job description, sorting help desk tickets or visualizing complex data in seconds, Copilot is already creating huge value in the hands of millions of workers. 

A study from the Boston Consulting Group found AI-assisted workers were 25% faster. They produced 40% better quality work. And they took on 12% more tasks than a comparable group without AI assistance.

Notably, this study used open generative AI platforms, suggesting the real impact of AI tools fully integrated with proprietary data and applications could be much higher.

It’s hard to ignore the implications for competitiveness, both on the organizational and in one’s personal career. The age of AI is here, like it or not.

Charting your “flight path” to Copilot adoption

To tap into all this potential, we recently expanded our 30-year partnership with Microsoft to better help our customers get the best value from this investment.

Taking your most important asset – proprietary data on your customers, products and markets – and having that generate truly game-changing outputs for your business takes a lot of planning and data integration capability. This needs to happen without losing sight of security and governance.

To get it right “customers should not be looking at AI or Copilot for Microsoft 365 as a simple transaction or a services project,” says Chris Woodin, Sr. Vice President – Solutions and Alliances at Softchoice.

Instead, they need to see Copilot adoption in terms of a long-term journey. That journey has multiple stages that form what we call the “flight path” for Copilot adoption. Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Plan your business case for Copilot

The first stage of the flight path is to define the vision, goals, and success criteria for using Copilot for Microsoft 365 in your organization.

We call this the “Plan” phase. Here, we look at the universe of potential use cases that might create meaningful change in value for the business and justify the case for change.

For example, you may want to use Copilot to improve the productivity and quality of your content creation, marketing, sales, or customer service teams. You might consider deploying it to IT to improve service desk ticketing, security alerts or any number of other applications. How Copilot shows up will depend on the context in which you operate today and where AI can make a difference in real productivity terms.

To help, we can support as you plan, build and win support for your business case, create a roadmap and align those with a stake in decision-making on the scope and timeline of the project.

Getting Clear on Copilot Adoption – The Business Case

Step 2: Assess your technical and organizational readiness

The next stage is to evaluate the current state of your IT environment, licensing, security posture, and organizational readiness for Copilot for Microsoft 365.

This is the “Assess” phase. In this phase, you need to make sure that existing applications, business processes, and data can be integrated effectively into Copilot. This involves a gap analysis to identify any risks, issues, or dependencies that are going to need remediation before you deploy.

For example, you may need to upgrade your Microsoft 365 subscription, update your applications, or resolve any compatibility or performance issues.

To help you gauge your readiness for Copilot, we offer a Copilot Readiness Assessment, that provides a comprehensive review of your IT environment, security posture, and Copilot requirements. This yields a detailed report with recommendations and best practices to prepare for deployment and minimize errors during the process.

The Catalyst Gets Clear on Copilot Adoption – Getting ready 

Step 3: Run a pilot with select users, configure and implement

The third stage of the flight path is to configure and deploy Copilot for Microsoft 365 according to best practices and your specific requirements. This is when you integrate your custom data sources, including enterprise data, industry-specific terminology, and so on.

Then, you test and validate the functionality, performance, permissions, and security of Copilot within your IT environment with a focus on integration with enterprise data.

Note that we strongly recommend deploying Copilot as a pilot project to a select group of users first. This gives you the chance to collect valuable user feedback and course correct where needed before going organization wide.

To help you implement and pilot Copilot, we have a Copilot Implementation Service, including expert guidance and support to set up and deploy Copilot. This includes a Copilot Pilot Program with a custom plan and toolkit for deploying to an initial group of select users.  

The Catalyst Gets Clear on Copilot Adoption – Implementation

Copilot for Microsoft 365 won’t have any impact if people don’t know it’s there or why they should use it.

This means a continuous management approach to end user adoption focused on realizing the actual benefits, whether that’s increasing employee productivity or transforming the way they work with their customers.

The next phase is built to heighten awareness, engagement, and adoption of Copilot among your end users at every level. The importance of training, communication, and support to help people understand and use Copilot can’t be overstated.

You‘ll also need a clear process to monitor and collect feedback from the users on their experience and satisfaction with Copilot and apply their feedback as you go.

This is where our Copilot Adoption and Enablement Services come in. It’s meant to give you a detailed strategy and plan to drive user adoption of Copilot in your organization.

It includes a Copilot Adoption Toolkit for educating, training and supporting users on integrating Copilot into daily work as well as in cultivating an “AI-first mentality.”

No genuine transformation is going to be a one-and-done effort.

The final stage of the flight path involves proactive steps to keep the early momentum going. The aim is to avoid a drop-off in usage and ensure people truly integrate the tool into their work. This is more an ongoing journey than a destination.

It involves reviewing and updating the vision, goals, and success criteria as your needs and priorities evolve and as Microsoft adds new features and capabilities. You’ll want to monitor and analyze the metrics against outcomes. It may be necessary to throw in additional training, guidance, and support to the users. Remember that new hires will also need to learn the specific ways your organization uses the technology.

To help you sustain and optimize Copilot, Softchoice offers a Copilot Sustainment Service, where you can get ongoing support and guidance to maintain and enhance the performance and value of Copilot in your organization. This comes with a Copilot Sustainment Toolkit, where you’ll find the latest resources and tools to keep your users informed, engaged, and satisfied with Copilot for Microsoft 365.

The Catalyst Gets Clear on Copilot Adoption – Sustain 

You plan to adopt Copilot for Microsoft 365. Why should you trust us to help?

We know people and technology. To succeed with Copilot deployment, you’ll need to account for both and have them work in harmony.

We bring over 30 years’ experience as a Microsoft partner. This comes with a deep bench of Microsoft certified specialists who deliver thousands of Microsoft assessments and implementation projects every year.

We were our own first Copilot customer. As a member of Microsoft’s Early Access Program, we were among the first companies to use Copilot in a real-world environment.

Every Copilot needs a navigator

Explore Copilot for Microsoft 365 services

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Why your next laptop should be a gaming PC

When you think of a PC gaming laptop, you probably think of a big, blocky device with flashing lights that runs out of battery in under an hour. And while that may still be true for some, today’s best PC gaming laptops are built differently and designed to create as well as game.

We’re now at a point where PC gaming laptops are nearly indistinguishable from other laptops in terms of form factor. But where they separate themselves is with their performance and ability to be multi-purpose and multi-function to fit your needs – whether personal or professional.

The new OMEN Transcend 14 is a PC gaming laptop that is worth consideration if you’re looking to level up your laptop game without sacrificing productivity or performance. It has a thin frame, a beautiful display, and a clean matte black design that’s easily portable. It’s designed to handle a multitude of tasks whether you’re creating or viewing content, editing videos, crunching numbers, or playing the latest AAA games.

What to look for in a laptop

When you’re looking to buy a new laptop, there are a few things to consider. You’ll want something that’s good for productivity, customizable, can easily be slipped into a bag, and has solid performance. And of course, gaming is a large part of the consideration as well.

Research has shown that more and more people identify as gamers than ever before. In fact, 90% of Gen Z say that video games are a regular part of their lives. And that extends beyond just playing them. Many of us, whether Gen Z or not, engage with gaming on a number of levels. We create podcasts, edit videos, join Discord communities, and so much more. If any of this sounds familiar, you’ll want a PC gaming laptop that can keep up with your daily needs.

If you’re interested in editing photos or videos, being able to run editing programs is a must. Anyone who has attempted to edit high-definition footage and photos on a laptop has probably experienced the frustration of pausing your work while the program catches up to what you’re doing. With an upgraded CPU to push all of those pixels through the pipe though, that’s no longer a problem.

You’ll also want to have a device that allows you to show off your personality. If you’re going to be creating content, having something that matches your personal brand and looks great in footage is all part of the product. With customizable RGB lighting, your laptop should fit your gaming, content creation and everyday life activities.

And of course, if you plan to play games or work with 3D graphics in any way, you’ll want a GPU that’s up to the task. These days, you’ll want to look at the RTX 30 and 40 series from NVIDIA to play the latest games.

The beauty of the OMEN Transcend 14 is that all of these features are just part of the package. You’ll be able to run games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Overwatch 2. With the OMEN Transcend 14, you’re getting top of the line performance with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 graphics card, Intel Core Ultra 9 185H chip, and 32GB of RAM. And you’re getting great performance, aesthetics, and battery life on top of that.

How does it feel to use?

The external components in a PC gaming laptop are just as important as what’s under the hood. With the OMEN Transcend 14, there are three main pieces you’ll want to consider: the display, keyboard and chassis.

When it comes to a laptop display, there are two main factors you’re going to want to consider. First, the resolution. Most users won’t need a 4K display on a 14-inch laptop, but making the jump to 2.8K from 1080p will make your games look crisper without sacrificing much in the way of performance.

You’ll also want to consider the refresh rate. The OMEN Transcend 14 supports a 120Hz refresh rate, allowing you to play games at 120 frames per second, taking full advantage of the laptop’s powerful GPU.

It needs to travel with you

Selecting a keyboard that feels good without adding a ton of bulk to the size of the laptop can be tough. The feel of a keyboard largely comes down to personal preference, but using a keyboard that doesn’t instantly bottom out will reduce the number of misclicks.

Not only does the OMEN Transcend 14 come with pleasantly clicky keys and a good key travel distance, its RGB backlighting allows for plenty of personalization. You can customize the lighting to your heart’s content with plenty of colours and patterns to choose from — or you can set it to white for a super clean look. And it comes with software that makes changing the lighting on the fly a breeze, as you can see here with the Light Studio.

Of course, you can’t ignore the laptop’s chassis either. The build of a laptop isn’t just a matter of aesthetics, it’s core to how the laptop performs and feels. Loose molding, cheap plastics, and a bulky design not only make the laptop feel cheap, but they can cause airflow problems. Proper airflow keeps your laptop quiet, so even if you’re playing Vampire Survivors in a meeting, no one’s going to notice the fans revving up. A proper cooling system can make a world of difference — something I’ll get to below.

A compact design is crucial for travel as well. Ergonomic backpacks have become cool again, but if you’re carrying around a six-pound laptop, the best straps in the world won’t save you. Look for a slim design like the OMEN Transcend 14’s that manages to pack performance into a lightweight design that won’t kill your shoulders.

Still a dedicated gaming machine

Make no mistake though; just because PC gaming laptops offer tons of features for non-gamers, doesn’t mean they aren’t absolute monsters when it comes to gaming performance. PC gaming is about maximizing both performance and graphics. We now have portable gaming PCs that will keep you competitive in online lobbies without needing to drop your settings.

Gaming accessories are also an important piece of the puzzle, offering excellent performance on the go. Take the HyperX Pulsefire Haste 2 wireless mouse. Instead of carrying a tiny mouse that loses connection and feels like a brick, picking up the Pulsefire Haste 2 ensures a lag-free connection, a 61g lightweight feel, and a comfortable design for both claw and palm grip users.

And if you’re someone who plays games online, the HyperX Cloud III gaming headset is a great choice. Cushy padding for long play sessions, DTS spatial audio for immersive sound, and a dedicated mic that won’t pick up your family in the background — it’s a no-brainer.

It’s never going to be the full desktop PC experience, but for those of us who need — or prefer — a portable device, a PC gaming laptop is a great choice for getting your gaming sessions in wherever you are.

What’s the right laptop?

So I’ve made my case for why PC gaming laptops are a great choice for gamers and non-gamers alike who want great performance in their everyday lives. At this point, they’re as much about productivity as they are about gaming. But you may still be wondering how to put all of these pieces together.

The OMEN Transcend 14 is an easy pick because it plays all of the games mentioned in this article with ease. It packs the latest GPU, CPU, and memory, along with a display built for competitive gaming.

You’re also getting a 120Hz 2.8K display with 0.2ms response time and a low-profile tactile keyboard — delivering a great competitive experience. It also has all of the everyday features you’d expect from a laptop, such as a great webcam for video calls, multiple USB-A and USB-C ports, and really solid speakers.

But the thing that separates the OMEN Transcend 14 from other PC gaming laptops is the customizable onboard performance thanks to its Tempest Go cooling tech. The laptop uses Intel’s hyperbaric cooling technology to create a pressurized zone that exchanges heat efficiently, keeping your lap cool even when your GPU is pushed to its limit. You can easily tweak the settings depending on your preferences and requirements.

Oh, and that’s not to mention the battery life. The OMEN Transcend 14 boasts eight hours of gaming time and a whopping 13 hours of video playback. And if you do run low on battery, it charges to 50% capacity in just half an hour.

All of this performance comes in a compact form factor that won’t look out of place in the office or classroom. Easily slip it into a bag, work on the train, or set up with some friends for some late-night Apex.

If you’re ready to upgrade your PC gaming experience from a mobile device to a gaming PC, there’s never been a better time. Experience the difference firsthand.

You can check out the OMEN Transcend 14 on HP’s official website to learn more.

This story is sponsored by HP.

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Visiting the Kraken at Home | Hakai Magazine

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Just after 10:00 a.m. on January 6, 2023, in the Southern Ocean some 1,100 kilometers south of Argentina, Matthew Mulrennan’s underwater camera captured a one-of-a-kind sighting: there, 176 meters beneath his vessel, a lone squid was propelling itself through the frigid water. With its outstretched vermillion tentacles, see-through body, and faint blue bioluminescent glow, this 12-centimeter-long squid is, potentially, the first colossal squid ever filmed in its natural environment.

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Video captured off Antarctica nearly 200 meters deep below the surface shows what might be a juvenile colossal squid living freely in its natural environment. It’s possible this is not a colossal squid but instead another kind of closely related glass squid. Video courtesy of Matthew Mulrennan/Kolossal

Mulrennan, a marine scientist and founder of the California-based nonprofit Kolossal, has been working since 2017 to record footage of wild colossal squid. Cephalopod experts are convinced Mulrennan filmed some sort of glass squid, the scientific family to which colossal squid belong. But they remain unsure whether it was a young colossal, an adult Galiteuthis glacialis, or a previously unknown species in the closely related genus Taonius.

The Antarctic water where Mulrennan’s team spotted the squid was full of marine snow, giving the video a grainy quality reminiscent of the first photos of another little-known cephalopod: the giant squid.

Although both cephalopods are so elusive they’re practically legendary—and often compared to the mythical kraken—colossal squid have bigger, heavier bodies and slightly shorter tentacles than their giant brethren. While giant squid were first photographed and filmed in their natural habitat in 2004 and 2012, respectively, the only sightings of colossal squid have come from corpses or animals dragged up to the surface.

Until, perhaps, now.

Colossal squid were first scientifically described by zoologist Guy Robson in 1925 after a sperm whale washed up in the Falkland Islands with two colossal squid tentacles in its stomach. Since then, the massive animals have rarely been caught, photographed, or even seen. That’s a striking feat for a creature longer than a cargo container with eyes the size of volleyballs. As adults, colossal squid are Earth’s largest invertebrates. They eat Patagonian toothfish (also known as Chilean sea bass) and are hunted by sperm whales. When they’re young, colossal squid seem to venture closer to the ocean’s surface, where they’re picked off by penguins, albatrosses, seals, and Patagonian toothfish. Little else is known about their behavior; most clues are derived from fishing line nibbles, examinations of predators’ stomachs, and the occasional squid corpse that washes up on a beach.

William Reid, a marine biologist at Newcastle University in England, was lucky enough to get up-close with a colossal squid after fishers unexpectedly pulled one up in 2005 near South Georgia Island, located between Antarctica and South America. Although its several-meter-long mantle was too heavy to salvage, Reid’s incomplete 200-kilogram specimen revealed how the hooks and suckers that line the squid’s arms can pop off, giving the animal an impressive grip but also offering easy detachment from prey and predators.

In the depths of the ocean where little light penetrates, Reid suspects colossal squid are ambush hunters that wait patiently for prey to wander within reach, then use their long arms to stuff their catches into their beaks. He says the squid’s giant eyes may be adept at seeing bioluminescence, which could alert them to hungry sperm whales coming their way.

Colossal squid have been documented a few other times, too. Soviet fishers caught and photographed the first whole colossal squid in 1981 off eastern Antarctica. In 2003, fishers from New Zealand snared a dead 300-kilogram juvenile colossal squid in Antarctica’s Ross Sea, and then, in 2007, they pulled up a live 500-kilogram adult from a depth of 1,500 meters. And in 2008, Russian scientists caught one farther west in the Dumont d’Urville Sea.

But no one has ever seen a colossal squid living, undisturbed, hundreds of meters below the surface where it naturally dwells. And, as Reid emphasizes, because colossal squid tend to collapse under their own weight when dragged from the highly pressurized deep sea, studying them in their natural environment is the only way to see both their behavior and fully intact anatomy.

That’s why, from December 2022 to April 2023, Mulrennan and his crew set off on four multiweek trips from Ushuaia, Argentina, aboard the Ocean Endeavour, a tourist-packed expedition vessel operated by Intrepid Travel. Sailing alongside roughly 200 curious tourists, Mulrennan and the Kolossal team traveled to the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia, the Antarctic Peninsula, and other areas below the Antarctic Circle in search of the oversized squid.

While passengers slept and disembarked on day trips to see penguins, whales, and Antarctica’s icy terrain, the researchers—including Jennifer Herbig, a doctoral candidate at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador—took turns dropping a tethered underwater camera from one of the ship’s gangways into the freezing water below.

“We’d put the camera in the water at midnight or 1:00 a.m., be up until 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., and then have to get up at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m.,” Herbig says. With the camera dangling as far as 400 meters underwater, it became a near-constant effort to keep it from getting hooked on sea ice and disappearing into the deep.

In total, the team captured 62 hours of high-definition footage. Along with their prospective colossal squid, the scientists spotted a giant volcano sponge—animals thought to live up to 15,000 years—and dozens of other deep-sea Antarctic species.

It was challenging work made easier by the ship’s other passengers, who brought the scientists cookies and hot chocolate during long nighttime deployments. Herbig, for her part, cherished the tourists’ interest. “They could just peek over our shoulders and see what we were doing, so we got to explain some of the science,” she says.

“Every day on the ship, I was asked, ‘Did you find the squid?’” Mulrennan recounts. “People really want to know more about these large kraken-like species”—especially the ship’s chef, who kept joking about cooking the squid if they found it.

Whether the video Mulrennan’s team captured turns out to be a juvenile colossal squid or not—that final determination depends on continued examinations by squid experts at New Zealand’s Auckland University of Technology—the Kolossal researchers aren’t finished with their quest just yet.

While last year’s expedition relied largely on using an underwater camera to film close to the noisy vessel, the team hopes to revisit Antarctica as soon as November 2024, armed with a much broader suite of tools.

Mulrennan is looking to upgrade from one underwater camera to as many as a dozen, which he can deploy simultaneously, and he wants to add remotely operated cameras that would enable filming farther from the boat. Another option for improving their technique, says Herbig, would be to get longer camera cables so they can peer even deeper into the colossal squid’s frigid domain. Herbig adds that they could also bring equipment to analyze environmental DNA and measure biomass, helping the team study the abundance of creatures that share this deepwater habitat.

With a tattoo on his left arm commemorating zoologist Guy Robson’s 1925 sighting of a colossal squid, Mulrennan hopes to lead or inspire a verified underwater filming of a live, wild colossal squid by 2025.

“If finding the giant squid was like landing on the moon, then finding the colossal squid’s going to be like landing on Mars,” he says.

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‘It has an ‘Aliens’-like vibe:’ ‘Atlas’ director Brad Peyton on channeling James Cameron (exclusive)

Adding more combustible material to the inferno of AI unease sweeping the globe, director Brad Peyton “(Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” “San Andreas,” “Rampage”) is experiencing a healthy surge of adrenalin to his Hollywood filmmaking career that seems to have no ceiling as evidenced by his latest entertaining project.

His new Netflix sci-fi thriller, “Atlas,” combines an explosive assault of “Titanfall”-like mech action paired with timely themes surrounding our inherent apprehension about the encroachment of artificial intelligence into every aspect of our daily lives.  

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How the Guinness Brewery Invented the Most Important Statistical Method in Science

“One Guinness, please!” says a customer to a barkeep, who flips a branded pint glass and catches it under the tap. The barkeep begins a multistep pour process lasting precisely 119.5 seconds, which, whether it’s a marketing gimmick or a marvel of alcoholic engineering, has become a beloved ritual in Irish pubs worldwide. The result: a rich stout with a perfect froth layer like an earthy milkshake.

The Guinness brewery has been known for innovative methods ever since founder Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease in Dublin for £45 a year. For example, a mathematician-turned-brewer invented a chemical technique there after four years of tinkering that gives the brewery’s namesake stout its velvety head. The method, which involves adding nitrogen gas to kegs and to little balls inside cans of Guinness, led to today’s hugely popular “nitro” brews for beer and coffee.

But the most influential innovation to come out of the brewery by far has nothing to do with beer. It was the birthplace of the t-test, one of the most important statistical techniques in all of science. When scientists declare their findings “statistically significant,” they very often use a t-test to make that determination. How does this work, and why did it originate in beer brewing, of all places?

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Near the start of the 20th century, Guinness had been in operation for almost 150 years and towered over its competitors as the world’s largest brewery. Until then, quality control on its products consisted of rough eyeballing and smell tests. But the demands of global expansion motivated Guinness leaders to revamp their approach to target consistency and industrial-grade rigor. The company hired a team of brainiacs and gave them latitude to pursue research questions in service of the perfect brew. The brewery became a hub of experimentation to answer an array of questions: Where do the best barley varieties grow? What is the ideal saccharine level in malt extract? How much did the latest ad campaign increase sales?

Amid the flurry of scientific energy, the team faced a persistent problem: interpreting its data in the face of small sample sizes. One challenge the brewers confronted involves hop flowers, essential ingredients in Guinness that impart a bitter flavor and act as a natural preservative. To assess the quality of hops, brewers measured the soft resin content in the plants. Let’s say they deemed 8 percent a good and typical value. Testing every flower in the crop wasn’t economically viable, however. So they did what any good scientist would do and tested random samples of flowers.

Let’s inspect a made-up example. Suppose we measure soft resin content in nine samples and, because samples vary, observe a range of values from 4 percent to 10 percent, with an average of 6 percent—too low. Does that mean we should dump the crop? Uncertainty creeps in from two possible explanations for the low measurements. Either the crop really does contain unusually low soft resin content, or though the samples contain low levels, the full crop is actually fine. The whole point of taking random samples is to rely on them as faithful representatives of the full crop, but perhaps we were unlucky by choosing samples with uncharacteristically low levels. (We only tested nine, after all.) In other words, should we consider the low levels in our samples significantly different from 8 percent or mere natural variation?

This quandary is not unique to brewing. Rather, it pervades all scientific inquiry. Suppose that in a medical trial, both the treatment group and placebo group improve, but the treatment group fares a little better. Does that provide sufficient grounds to recommend the medication? What if I told you that both groups actually received two different placebos? Would you be tempted to conclude that the placebo in the group with better outcomes must have medicinal properties? Or could it be that when you track a group of people, some of them will just naturally improve, sometimes by a little and sometimes by a lot? Again, this boils down to a question of statistical significance.

The theory underlying these perennial questions in the domain of small sample sizes hadn’t been developed until Guinness came on the scene—specifically, not until William Sealy Gosset, head experimental brewer at Guinness in the early 20th century, invented the t-test. The concept of statistical significance predated Gosset, but prior statisticians worked in the regime of large sample sizes. To appreciate why this distinction matters, we need to understand how one would determine statistical significance.

Chart shows that the flatter curve of the t distribution compared with the normal distribution indicates that the t distribution has a larger significant signal-to-noise ratio.

Remember, the hops samples in our scenario have an average soft resin content of 6 percent, and we want to know whether the average in the full crop actually differs from the desired 8 percent or if we just got unlucky with our sample. So we’ll ask the question: What is the probability that we would observe such an extreme value (6 percent) if the full crop was in fact typical (with an average of 8 percent)?Traditionally, if this probability, called a P value, lies below 0.05, then we deem the deviation statistically significant, although different applications call for different thresholds.

Often two separate factors affect the P value: how far a sample deviates from what is expected in a population and how common big deviations are. Think of this as a tug-of-war between signal and noise. The difference between our observed mean (6 percent) and our desired one (8 percent) provides the signal—the larger this difference, the more likely the crop really does have low soft resin content. The standard deviation among flowers brings the noise. Standard deviation measures how spread out the data are around the mean; small values indicate that the data hover near the mean, and larger values imply wider variation. If the soft resin content typically fluctuates widely across buds (in other words, has a high standard deviation), then maybe the 6 percent average in our sample shouldn’t concern us. But if flowers tend to exhibit consistency (or a low standard deviation), then 6 percent may indicate a true deviation from the desired 8 percent.

To determine a P value in an ideal world, we’d start by calculating the signal-to-noise ratio. The higher this ratio, the more confidence we have in the significance of our findings because a high ratio indicates that we’ve found a true deviation. But what counts as high signal-to-noise? To deem 6 percent significantly different from 8 percent, we specifically want to know when the signal-to-noise ratio is so high that it only has a 5 percent chance of occurring in a world where an 8 percent resin content is the norm. Statisticians in Gosset’s time knew that if you were to run an experiment many times, calculate the signal-to-noise ratio in each of those experiments and graph the results, that plot would resemble a “standard normal distribution”—the familiar bell curve. Because the normal distribution is well understood and documented, you can look up in a table how large the ratio must be to reach the 5 percent threshold (or any other threshold).

Gosset recognized that this approach only worked with large sample sizes, whereas small samples of hops wouldn’t guarantee that normal distribution. So he meticulously tabulated new distributions for smaller sample sizes. Now known as t-distributions, these plots resemble the normal distribution in that they’re bell-shaped, but the curves of the bell don’t drop off as sharply. That translates to needing an even larger signal-to-noise ratio to conclude significance. His t-test allows us to make inferences in settings where we couldn’t before.

Mathematical consultant John D. Cook mused on his blog in 2008 that perhaps it should not surprise us that the t-test originated at a brewery as opposed to, say, a winery. Brewers demand consistency in their product, whereas vintners revel in variety. Wines have “good years,” and each bottle tells a story, but you want every pour of Guinness to deliver the same trademark taste. In this case, uniformity inspired innovation.

Gosset solved many problems at the brewery with his new technique. The self-taught statistician published his t-test under the pseudonym “Student” because Guinness didn’t want to tip off competitors to its research. Although Gosset pioneered industrial quality control and contributed loads of other ideas to quantitative research, most textbooks still call his great achievement the “Student’s t-test.” History may have neglected his name, but he could be proud that the t-test is one of the most widely used statistical tools in science to this day. Perhaps his accomplishment belongs in Guinness World Records (the idea for which was dreamed up by Guinness’s managing director in the 1950s). Cheers to that.

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How can cyberattacks affect critical infrastructure organisations?

We spoke to Red Hat’s Christopher Jenkins about the importance of cybersecurity in critical national infrastructure organisations.

When it comes to the cyberthreat landscape, some considerable trends can be seen gaining traction. Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly prevalent across every sector and are continuously growing in sophistication, sometimes aided by contemporary disruptive tech such as generative AI and quantum computing.

While everyone should be somewhat cybersecurity conscious nowadays regardless of whether your online activity is professional or personal, these considerations are ever vital for organisations in the critical national infrastructure (CNI) space.

CNI refers to systems and facilities that are considered important or necessary for the functioning of a society, such as water, energy and gas suppliers. According to Christopher Jenkins, principal chief architect at Red Hat, cyberattacks can inflict considerable damage on these organisations.

“In today’s interconnected and digital world, attacks on a single CNI organisation have the potential to affect their partners and potentially end users,” says Jenkins. He provides the example of how a vulnerability in a widely used software supply chain could increase the attack surface of possible exploitability through “compounded use of the same software”.

“Some CNI organisations such as gas and electricity providers provide their customers with IoT or small-form devices, which they can use to monitor their energy consumption,” he explains. “Introducing a vulnerable component into one of these devices could open up access to the devices to malicious actors.

“As well as the potential technical damage to these devices, the organisation could suffer damage to their brand and regulatory fines where these apply.”

Malicious tactics

According to Jenkins, a number of factors can affect the security posture of CNI organisations, such as a lack of awareness of the potential security risks they might face, or an underestimation of the importance of maintaining a strong security mindset. “As technology evolves, so do security threats,” he says.

“Keeping up with the latest security trends and implementing appropriate measures can be challenging, especially for CNI organisations with complex technology infrastructure.”

He says there are a number of tactics used by cybercriminals when targeting CNI organisations, such as the acquisition of sensitive CNI data, which could be used to disrupt services. Threat actors may use attack methods like malware, phishing or social media exploits to access such data.

“Once they have exfiltrated the data, they could then run a ransomware operation to extort money from the CNI organisation to return the data and/or sell it on to another third party for malicious purposes.”

When it comes to rising threat trends, he says that the increasing interconnectivity of operational technology (OT) and IoT devices, as well as the introduction of AI, machine learning and 5G tech, can increase the threat landscape for CNI organisations, leading to more avenues for service disruption.

“A lot of CNI organisations are starting to adopt AI in some way or another,” he says. “At the same time, bad actors are also starting to use AI techniques and are looking for technological vulnerabilities and the potential for AI to be hacked or manipulated.”

According to Jenkins, some of the fronts from which bad actors can attack AI systems include searching public sources, including cloud storage, public-facing services and software or data repositories, to identify “machine learning artefacts”.

“Once they have access to this data, they can start to run attacks such as data poisoning, prompt injection and taking advantage of AI hallucinations.”

These CNI cyberthreats are not exclusive to independent cybercriminals either, as Jenkins notes a rise in nation-state cyberwarfare tactics that target critical infrastructure.

CNI defences

Pitfalls and threats aside, how can a CNI organisation improve its security posture? Jenkins says that along with establishing good “cyber hygiene” in the workforce, some effective strategies include internal security awareness training, the implementation of threat detection and proactive risk management, as well as taking security considerations into account when integrating new technologies.

“At the onset of any new technological journey, organisations should engage with their vendors and partners to ensure that security is at the forefront of any potential solution,” he says. “Providing vendors with documentation and clarification around security controls and requirements should help ensure a solid and secure architectural design on which to build, run and monitor their environments.”

Referring specifically to AI and machine learning integration, he says that CNI organisations should “take into account controls such as secure API access, authentication and authorisation, secure data management and network segmentation”.

A common practice of CNI organisations is the use of hardware on customer premises, such as smart metering for energy companies. Jenkins says these devices could potentially be used to create a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on the provider, which could result in incorrect billing data, system delays or, “at the severest level”, the potential for large-scale power outages.

“To ensure that the devices are as secure as possible, companies should have additional physical controls in place to ensure that the device can’t be used for nefarious or malicious purposes,” he advises. “Using tamper evident seals and removing any external connectors (USB etc) is a good start to ensure that people are not able to access the physical device but additional software controls can also be used.

“All communications should be encrypted in transit using modern encryption techniques and also any data at rest within the device should also be encrypted.”

Future challenges and opportunities

As for the future, Jenkins has some predictions for the CNI threat landscape, including AI’s impact as a potential security challenge, but also its potential benefit.

“For CNI organisations in the transportation industry, AI could enhance public transportation operations by dynamically adjusting service frequencies based on demand and to rapidly identify any accidents or incidents,” says Jenkins.

“For nuclear communications and other sectors which can operate in a hostile environment, having AI at the edge could benefit operations through the use of localised compute and storage without the need for expensive communications backhaul of large amounts of data.”

Something to watch out for, says Jenkins, is the increasing complexity of global supply chains, which can open up vulnerabilities and flaws in software.

“Disruptions in the supply chain can have cascading effects on critical infrastructure, so management of the software development life cycle is imperative to ensure the secure running of CNI OT and IT.”

Find out how emerging tech trends are transforming tomorrow with our new podcast, Future Human: The Series. Listen now on Spotify, on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 Review: Midrange Performance

Samsung’s Galaxy A series brings some of the company’s premium software features to the midrange segment at a slightly higher cost compared with the Galaxy M and Galaxy F series. Earlier this year, the company launched the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 smartphones in India, which are priced under Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 30,000, respectively. These devices are equipped with the company’s Exynos chips and will receive four years of OS updates — up to Android 18. But how do they fare against similarly priced phones? I’ve spent some time with both handsets, and here are my thoughts.

Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 price in India

The Samsung Galaxy A55 is priced at Rs. 39,999 for the 8GB+128GB RAM and storage model. The phone is also available in 8GB+256GB and 12GB+256GB memory variants, which will set you back Rs. 42,999 and Rs. 45,999, respectively.

Meanwhile, the price of the Samsung Galaxy A35 starts at Rs. 30,999 for the base model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while the phone is also sold in an 8GB+256GB storage variant that costs Rs. 33,999.

Samsung Galaxy A55 has a flat display, flat edges, and a flat rear panel


The Galaxy A55 is available in Ice Blue and Navy, while the Galaxy A35 is available in Ice Blue, Lilac, and Navy. Samsung sent over the Ice Blue (Galaxy A55) and Lilac (Galaxy A35) handsets for review.

Both handsets are sold in a slim box that includes a charging cable, a SIM ejector tool, and some documentation. However, there is no transparent TPU cover or charging brick, so you’ll have to buy those separately.

Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 Review: Design

The Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 are very similar in appearance, including the location of the SIM tray, the USB Type-C port, the triple rear camera layout, and the bottom-firing speaker grille. Booth handsets also have the new Key Island for the volume and power buttons, which are also in the same spot. If you look at both handsets together, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.

Among Samsung’s midrange phones, the Galaxy A series is known to offer the most premium-looking phones, and the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 are no exception. The rear panel bears a strong resemblance to this year’s Galaxy S24 (Review) handset, which is a premium smartphone. In my experience, both the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 have glossy rear panels that don’t easily attract fingerprints.

samung galaxy a55 a35 review ndtv design Samsung Galaxy A55  Samsung Galaxy A35

Samsung Galaxy A55 (left) and Galaxy A35


On the front, these handsets are equipped with Super AMOLED screens with up to 120Hz refresh rate and Gorilla Glass Victus+ protection. The display has considerably thick bezels, and the selfie camera is located in a centre-aligned hole punch cutout.

The Galaxy A55 has flat, brushed aluminium edges, while the Galaxy A35 also has flat aluminium edges with a matte finish. Both phones don’t ship with a TPU case, so I used them without a cover throughout the review.

Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 Review: Specifications and software

Both the Samsung Galaxy A55 and the Galaxy A35 sport a 6.6-inch full-HD+ (1,080×2,408 pixels) Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 1,000 nits peak brightness. These Gorilla Glass Victus+-protected screens are flat and have slightly thick bezels compared with other handsets in the same price brackets.

Samsung has promised four OS upgrades on the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35, along with a fifth year of security updates. This means these handsets—running on Android 14-based One UI 6—will be supported until 2028. Even by today’s standards, this is far better than any other midrange phone.

The handsets have a couple of preinstalled applications, including Spotify. I could uninstall them, though. The Galaxy A35 also downloaded Candy Crush Saga, via the pre-installed AppCloud service, which doesn’t seem to have an opt-out option. Both phones also regularly prompt you to enable built-in Glance lock screen features after every software update, and it takes a few taps to skip this menu.

Samsung’s One UI 6.1 interface (tap to expand)


However, the software experience is largely clean, which is par for the course with Samsung’s One UI interface, which has matured over the years since it was introduced in 2018. Both these Galaxy A series smartphones also come with features like Samsung Wallet, which lets you make contactless payments and store documents securely, advanced Link to Windows integration, or Good Lock for further customisation and theming options.

These handsets also include Samsung’s Object Eraser feature that uses machine learning to remove unwanted objects in photos. In terms of connectivity, both handsets offer 5G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, GPS, and a USB Type-C port for charging, data transfers, and audio output — there’s no 3.5mm audio jack.

Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 Review: Performance

While the Galaxy is powered by a 4nm Exynos 1480 chip paired with up to 12GB of RAM, the Galaxy A35 5G runs on a 5nm Exynos 1380 processor with 8GB of RAM. On paper, these handsets should offer enough performance overhead to allow them to remain fast for a few years. They can also handle day to day tasks well, including browsing the web, social media apps, non-intensive games, and capturing photos and videos.

You can play most games on the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35, and titles such as Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) and Asphalt 9 ran well without throttling after about 30 minutes of gameplay. However, you can’t run slightly heavier titles like Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile without notable lag, and even the Galaxy A55 struggled with MiHoYo’s graphics-intensive Genshin Impact.

One UI 6 based on Android 14 offers a refined software experience on the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35, with a couple of exceptions. RAM management is excellent, with apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Gmail, Outlook, X (formerly Twitter), and Threads — my primarily used apps — remaining in memory while switching across apps.

Samsung could definitely take a leaf out of Motorola or Nothing’s book and ensure that its Galaxy A series phones don’t bug users with prompts to enable features like Glance after each software update — especially after they’ve explicitly opted out once. Both handsets had an update available after the initial setup process — and Samsung has finally added support for system A/B updates (only on the Galaxy A55), allowing you to get back to your phone much faster after an update.

samung galaxy a55 a35 review ndtv Samsung Galaxy A55  Samsung Galaxy A35

Samsung Galaxy A55 (left) and Galaxy A35 displays offer decent visibility while outdoors


I also ran synthetic benchmark tests, and this is where both the Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 fall behind some of their competitors. The Galaxy A55 scored 1,132 and 3,346 points, respectively, in the single-core and multi-core CPU tests on Geekbench 6. On the other hand, the Galaxy A35 scored 1,013 points in the single-core test and 2,805 points in the multi-core test.

On the AnTuTu v10 benchmark test, the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 scored 678,167 and 606,767 points, respectively. Interestingly, the Galaxy A55 has a PCMark Work 3.0 score of 13,315 which is only slightly higher than the Galaxy A35, which scored 13,176 points.

For context, the iQoo Z9 that I recently reviewed has a single-core score of 1,151 points, while its multi-core score was 2,669. It also scored 687,545 points on AnTuTu v10. The Dimensity 7200 chip on the iQoo handset offers better raw performance than the Exynos chips on these handsets—the AnTuTu score and Geekbench single-core score of the iQoo Z9 are higher than both the Galaxy A55 and the Galaxy A35, and pricing for that phone starts at Rs. 19,999.

Here’s how the Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 performed on popular graphics benchmark tests:

Graphics benchmark Galaxy A55 Galaxy A35
3DMark Wild Life 3,814 2,816
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited 3,811 2,800
3DMark Sling Shot 7,467 5,481
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 5,525 4,655
GFXBench Car Chase 32 25
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 56 46
GFXBench T-Rex 59 94

Both the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 are equipped with a 6.6-inch Super AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 1,000 nits of peak brightness. These screens are bright enough to be used outdoors during the daytime as long as you have auto-brightness enabled. One UI also offers an Extra Dim mode that can be enabled via a quick settings toggle. This mode lets the screen get even dimmer to reduce eye strain.

Equipped with 5,000mAh batteries, these handsets are highly optimised — the Galaxy A55 went on for 28 hours and 14 minutes, while the Galaxy A35 lasted for 26 hours and 34 minutes — on a single charge — in our HD video loop battery playback test. In terms of real-world usage, I didn’t have to charge them more than once every 30-35 hours, with moderate usage.

Samsung doesn’t include a 25W charging brick with the Galaxy A55 or the Galaxy A35, so you’ll have to purchase one separately. My Belkin USB PD 3.0 charging brick charged both handsets up to 50 percent in around 45 minutes, while charging the phones from zero to 100 percent took 1 hour and 25 minutes on average. Both phones have an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, which means they should survive accidental drops in water, which is good to see on midrange phones.

Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 Review: Cameras

Both the Samsung Galaxy A55 and the Galaxy A35 have a 50-megapixel primary camera with an f/1.8 aperture and a 5-megapixel macro camera with an f/2.4 aperture. They also have 12-megapixel and 8-megapixel ultra-wide angle cameras, respectively, with an f/2.2 aperture. The Galaxy A55 has a 32-megapixel front-facing camera, while the Galaxy A35 has a 13-megapixel camera on the front for selfies and video calls.

Samsung Galaxy A55 auto (left) and portrait modes deliver images with vibrant, punchy colours


The Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 have the same camera interface as the more expensive Galaxy S series of smartphones. This includes a Pro mode that allows you to fine-tune various settings, including white balance, focus, exposure, etc. You can also access these settings when shooting video via a Pro Video mode, which is excellent. Both handsets also support Samsung’s Super Steady (stabilisation), Slow Mo, and Super Slow Mo modes for video recording.

You can capture detailed images with the primary cameras on the Galaxy A55 and the Galaxy A35, and both handsets support 2x in-sensor zoom that lets you take better images of subjects that are slightly further away. These cameras work very well when you’re outdoors, have enough natural light, and tend to deliver slightly punchy colours in images. You can also take high-quality portrait shots on these handsets — these work best in natural light.

Samsung Galaxy A35 images appear sharp, but zooming in reveals smoothening (tap to expand)


The ultra-wide angle camera on the Galaxy A55 is slightly better than the one on the Galaxy A35, but both are considerably weaker than the primary camera — especially in low-light scenarios. You can use them to click photos of buildings or other subjects that are close by, but images captured with these cameras have a bit of warping around the edges, and the colour accuracy isn’t as reliable as the more advanced 50-megapixel primary camera.

Samsung’s camera app takes long exposure shots by default (Night Shot) in low light conditions, although you can manually disable this with a tap to take darker but non-blurry images of moving subjects. For extra dark scenarios, the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 come with a dedicated Night Mode that delivers very bright images with some smoothening to reduce noise.

The primary camera on the Galaxy A35 (right) delivers better low-light photos (tap to expand)


The 5-megapixel macro camera on the Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 captured decent images of subjects, but only if there was enough natural light. I also had to tap on the subject in the viewfinder and capture more than one image of a subject in order to ensure that the images were in focus. Selfies captured using the front-facing cameras on both phones are clear, although there’s more detail on the ones captured with the Galaxy A55, which has a higher-resolution 32-megapixel camera.

Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 capture nearly identical macro photos


Both the Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 support video recording at 4K/ 30fps or 1080p at 30fps and 60fps. The gyroscope-enabled Super Steady mode on the rear camera offers excellent stabilisation in most lighting conditions. The selfie camera on both phones offers 4K/ 30fps and 1080p/ 30fps, but the Galaxy A55 also offers 1080p/ 60fps video recording from the selfie camera.

Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 Review: Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A55 and Galaxy A35 are equipped with decent cameras and processors, but are these the best midrange smartphones you can buy today? The answer depends on what you need from your smartphone. Subjectively speaking, these are good-looking smartphones that are promised to receive Android OS updates for four years and an additional year of security updates. 

It’s also good to see an IP67 rating on these phones, and battery performance is excellent, even though Samsung has stuck with support for 25W charging and doesn’t include an adapter in the box. 

On the other hand, if you want a smartphone with raw performance, you’re better off looking at the Nothing Phone 2 (Review), OnePlus 12R (Review), or the iQoo Neo 9 Pro (Review) instead of the Galaxy A55. Similarly, the OnePlus Nord CE 4 5G (Review), Redmi Note 13 Pro, Infinix GT 20 Pro, or the iQoo Neo 7 Pro (Review) offer better CPU performance at a similar price point.

If you’re looking for a smartphone that offers great camera performance under Rs. 40,000, Samsung’s own Galaxy S23 FE (Review) offers more versatile cameras — including a capable telephoto camera — as well as a more powerful Exynos chip. You can also consider the Google Pixel 7a (Review) instead of the Galaxy A55. Alternatives to the Galaxy A35 include the Galaxy M55 (Review), Vivo V30e, and Oppo Reno 11 5G.

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Read an extract from All Systems Red by Martha Wells

“I was looking at the sky and mentally poking at the feed when the bottom of the crater exploded.”

RCH Photographic

I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.

I was also still doing my job, on a new contract, and hoping Dr. Volescu and Dr. Bharadwaj finished their survey soon so we could get back to the habitat and I could watch episode 397 of Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon.

I admit I was distracted. It was a boring contract so far and I was thinking about backburnering the status alert channel and trying to access music on the entertainment feed without HubSystem logging the extra activity. It was trickier to do it in the field than it was in the habitat.

This assessment zone was a barren stretch of coastal island, with low, flat hills rising and falling and thick greenish-black grass up to my ankles, not much in the way of flora or fauna, except a bunch of different-sized birdlike things and some puffy floaty things that were harmless as far as we knew. The coast was dotted with big bare craters, one of which Bharadwaj and Volescu were taking samples in. The planet had a ring, which from our current position dominated the horizon when you looked out to sea. I was looking at the sky and mentally poking at the feed when the bottom of the crater exploded.

I didn’t bother to make a verbal emergency call. I sent the visual feed from my field camera to Dr. Mensah’s, and jumped down into the crater. As I scrambled down the sandy slope, I could already hear Mensah over the emergency comm channel, yelling at someone to get the hopper in the air now. They were about ten kilos away, working on another part of the island, so there was no way they were going to get here in time to help.

Conflicting commands filled my feed but I didn’t pay attention. Even if I hadn’t borked my own governor module, the emergency feed took priority, and it was chaotic, too, with the automated HubSystem wanting data and trying to send me data I didn’t need yet and Mensah sending me telemetry from the hopper. Which I also didn’t need, but it was easier to ignore than HubSystem simultaneously demanding answers and trying to supply them.

In the middle of all that, I hit the bottom of the crater. I have small energy weapons built into both arms, but the one I went for was the big projectile weapon clamped to my back. The hostile that had just exploded up out of the ground had a really big mouth, so I felt I needed a really big gun.

I dragged Bharadwaj out of its mouth and shoved myself in there instead, and discharged my weapon down its throat and then up toward where I hoped the brain would be. I’m not sure if that all happened in that order; I’d have to replay my own field camera feed. All I knew was that I had Bharadwaj, and it didn’t, and it had disappeared back down the tunnel.

She was unconscious and bleeding through her suit from massive wounds in her right leg and side. I clamped the weapon back into its harness so I could lift her with both arms. I had lost the armor on my left arm and a lot of the flesh underneath, but my nonorganic parts were still working. Another burst of commands from the governor module came through and I backburnered it without bothering to decode them. Bharadwaj, not having nonorganic parts and not as easily repaired as me, was definitely a priority here and I was mainly interested in what the MedSystem was trying to tell me on the emergency feed. But first I needed to get her out of the crater.

During all this, Volescu was huddled on the churned up rock, losing his shit, not that I was unsympathetic. I was far less vulnerable in this situation than he was and I wasn’t exactly having a great time either. I said, “Dr. Volescu, you need to come with me now.”

He didn’t respond. MedSystem was advising a tranq shot and blah blah blah, but I was clamping one arm on Dr. Bharadwaj’s suit to keep her from bleeding out and supporting her head with the other, and despite everything I only have two hands. I told my helmet to retract so he could see my human face. If the hostile came back and bit me again, this would be a bad mistake, because I did need the organic parts of my head. I made my voice firm and warm and gentle, and said, “Dr. Volescu, it’s gonna be fine, okay? But you need to get up and come help me get her out of here.”

That did it. He shoved to his feet and staggered over to me, still shaking. I turned my good side toward him and said, “Grab my arm, okay? Hold on.”

He managed to loop his arm around the crook of my elbow and I started up the crater towing him, holding Bharadwaj against my chest. Her breathing was rough and desperate and I couldn’t get any info from her suit. Mine was torn across my chest so I upped the warmth on my body, hoping it would help. The feed was quiet now, Mensah having managed to use her leadership priority to mute everything but MedSystem and the hopper, and all I could hear on the hopper feed was the others frantically shushing each other.

The footing on the side of the crater was lousy, soft sand and loose pebbles, but my legs weren’t damaged and I got up to the top with both humans still alive. Volescu tried to collapse and I coaxed him away from the edge a few meters, just in case whatever was down there had a longer reach than it looked.

I didn’t want to put Bharadwaj down because something in my abdomen was severely damaged and I wasn’t sure I could pick her up again. I ran my field camera back a little and saw I had gotten stabbed with a tooth, or maybe a cilia. Did I mean a cilia or was that something else? They don’t give murderbots decent education modules on anything except murdering, and even those are the cheap versions. I was looking it up in HubSystem’s language center when the little hopper landed nearby. I let my helmet seal and go opaque as it settled on the grass.

We had two standard hoppers: a big one for emergencies and this little one for getting to the assessment locations. It had three compartments: one big one in the middle for the human crew and two smaller ones to each side for cargo, supplies, and me. Mensah was at the controls. I started walking, slower than I normally would have because I didn’t want to lose Volescu. As the ramp started to drop, Pin-Lee and Arada jumped out and I switched to voice comm to say, “Dr. Mensah, I can’t let go of her suit.”

It took her a second to realize what I meant. She said hurriedly, “That’s all right, bring her up into the crew cabin.”

Murderbots aren’t allowed to ride with the humans and I had to have verbal permission to enter. With my cracked governor there was nothing to stop me, but not letting anybody, especially the people who held my contract, know that I was a free agent was kind of important. Like, not having my organic components destroyed and the rest of me cut up for parts important.

I carried Bharadwaj up the ramp into the cabin, where Overse and Ratthi were frantically unclipping seats to make room. They had their helmets off and their suit hoods pulled back, so I got to see their horrified expressions when they took in what was left of my upper body through my torn suit. I was glad I had sealed my helmet.

This is why I actually like riding with the cargo. Humans and augmented humans in close quarters with murderbots is too awkward. At least, it’s awkward for this murderbot. I sat down on the deck with Bharadwaj in my lap while Pin-Lee and Arada dragged Volescu inside.

We left two pacs of field equipment and a couple of instruments behind, still sitting on the grass where Bharadwaj and Volescu had been working before they went down to the crater for samples. Normally I’d help carry them, but MedSystem, which was monitoring Bharadwaj through what was left of her suit, was pretty clear that letting go of her would be a bad idea. But no one mentioned the equipment. Leaving easily replaceable items behind may seem obvious in an emergency, but I had been on contracts where the clients would have told me to put the bleeding human down to go get the stuff.

On this contract, Dr. Ratthi jumped up and said, “I’ll get the cases!”

I yelled, “No!” which I’m not supposed to do; I’m always supposed to speak respectfully to the clients, even when they’re about to accidentally commit suicide. Hub-System could log it and it could trigger punishment through the governor module. If it wasn’t hacked.

Fortunately, the rest of the humans yelled “No!” at the same time, and Pin-Lee added, “For fuck’s sake, Ratthi!”

Ratthi said, “Oh, no time, of course. I’m sorry!” and hit the quick-close sequence on the hatch.

So we didn’t lose our ramp when the hostile came up under it, big mouth full of teeth or cilia or whatever chewing right through the ground. There was a great view of it on the hopper’s cameras, which its system helpfully sent straight to everybody’s feed. The humans screamed.

Mensah pushed us up into the air so fast and hard I nearly leaned over, and everybody who wasn’t on the floor ended up there.

In the quiet afterward, as they gasped with relief, Pin-Lee said, “Ratthi, if you get yourself killed—”

“You’ll be very cross with me, I know.” Ratthi slid down the wall a little more and waved weakly at her.

“That’s an order, Ratthi, don’t get yourself killed,” Mensah said from the pilot’s seat. She sounded calm, but I have security priority, and I could see her racing heartbeat through MedSystem.

Arada pulled out the emergency medical kit so they could stop the bleeding and try to stabilize Bharadwaj. I tried to be as much like an appliance as possible, clamping the wounds where they told me to, using my failing body temperature to try to keep her warm, and keeping my head down so I couldn’t see them staring at me.

Copyright 2017 Martha Wells

This is an extract from All Systems Red, published by Tor.com, the latest pick for the New Scientist Book Club: sign up here to read along with our members.


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Bringing exhibitions to everyone: The ‘Exhibition-in-a-Box’ project

Science Gallery Bengaluru (SGB) introduces the innovative Exhibition in a Box’ concept, extending the reach of their exhibitions beyond physical confines. Packed with multimedia experiences, these portable boxes bring engaging learning opportunities to diverse audiences, transcending geographical limitations and fostering inclusivity.

Science Gallery Bengaluru (SGB) is shaking things up with their innovative Exhibition in a Box’ concept. This program flips the script on traditional exhibitions by bringing knowledge directly to people who might not be able to visit the gallery itself. The inspiration for this project sparked during the tail-end of SGB’s thought-provoking PSYCHE exhibition, which delved into fascinating themes like mental health, brain science, and ethical considerations in research. 

The team at SGB realised that dismantling the exhibition meant shutting away a wealth of valuable resources that they had meticulously curated. They reflected on a way to keep these materials accessible for students, educators, and lifelong learners of all ages. The Exhibition-in-a-Box initiative was born from a former design intern’s graduate program project.

What is in the box?

In the Exhibition-in-a-Box, key parts of the exhibition are literally packed into a portable format that can travel anywhere! Each box contains multimedia components like films, discussions, games, and even augmented reality experiences related to the original exhibition themes. Using a variety of multimedia formats allows people to explore the topics in an engaging and interactive manner that goes beyond mere reading or watching. Sherlyn James, a learning associate at SGB, says, we asked the question,

How would you take the exhibition to people who are not based in Bangalore?

The concept of an Exhibition-in-a-Box allows the exhibition to live on beyond its end date and extend its reach to people who cannot travel to the city of the exhibit. In doing so, it transcends the limitations of physical space, travel distances, and logistics.

The first Exhibition-in-a-Box included key exhibits, programmes, and activities from the 2022 online exhibition of SGB-PSYCHE. These boxes have already visited many formal and informal spaces — such as schools, colleges, learning centres, non-profit organisations working with underprivileged groups — along with the India Science Festival 2024.The first iteration of the Exhibition-in-a-Box covered five exhibitions by the online PSYCHE’ exhibition of SGB. The exhibits that were boxed in the previous iteration were The Asylum’, Change my mind, Hamlet’s Live’, McGill Pain Questionnaire’, and Schizophrenia and the brain’.

Who is it for?

The Exhibition-in-a-Box is designed for young learners aged between 15 and 28, though individuals from other age groups can also engage with it. Many enthusiastic educators have reached out to the SGB team to integrate these innovative resources into their classrooms. While there are general guidelines for using the box, it offers flexibility, allowing educators to tailor its use to best suit their learners’ needs. The team acknowledges that people of different ages, educational backgrounds, and cultural contexts may respond to and interact with the box differently. To make it more inclusive, they have created versions of the boxes in English, Hindi and the local Kannada language. 

While the previous iteration of the box was designed by the design intern, this year, the boxes will be designed by mediators of the Carbon exhibition at the end of the exhibition season. These mediators are trained by the artists themselves and are responsible for initiating conversations with the public about the exhibits. They have extensively interacted with the public during the exhibition. Carbon marks the first exhibition of SGB with full-time mediators. Presently, there are nine full-time mediators who have engaged in multiple conversations with the public on the 37 exhibits of Carbon. Ahalya Acharya, Communications Manager at SGB, says,

Our mediators will gain a comprehensive understanding of the Carbon exhibition by conversing with the public. This hands-on experience will inform how they design and create the box activities and resources to communicate those concepts effectively.

Each box corresponding to each exhibit will be unique, featuring different activities and cards tailored to best align with the specific exhibit. There will be no two similar boxes. 

A participant from the 16th Young Investigators’ Meeting (YIM 2024) interacting with the box on the exhibit Foresta Inclusive’ from the Carbon exhibition. Photo credits: IndiaBioscience

The upcoming box in the making

As the Carbon exhibition by SGB continues to enthral visitors, the team is buzzing with excitement as they design the next iteration of the box. This upcoming Carbon exhibition-in-a-box will consist of three key elements: exhibit cards, experiment cards, and explore cards. Out of the 37 exhibits in the physical exhibition, five of them will be featured in the Exhibition-in-a-Box: In the making of self’, Foresta inclusive’, Digital consumption’, Carbon takes flight’, and The coarse fabric of being human’.

The Foresta inclusive exhibition by Jane Tingley explores what trees can sense, revealing that trees are far more aware of their environment than we might think. Scientists have developed special sensor pods equipped with eight or nine sensors capable of detecting wind speed, carbon dioxide levels, particulate matter, and light intensity. These sensors are attached to trees, effectively turning them into environmental data hubs. To make this data accessible to the public, artists are collaborating with scientists and data analysts to create visualisations that bring the information to life. This exhibit is included in the Exhibition-in-a-Box, featuring an explainer card, a QR code directing the users to a real-time tree data visualisations, and an experiment card prompts for conducting experiments with trees in their surroundings. 

The SGB team is currently developing boxes for the other Carbon exhibits. They are also planning to expand their reach by making the boxes available in other local languages. The team is also collecting feedback from educators and young adults who have interacted with the Psyche boxes to improve the design of future iterations. Despite the Carbon exhibition concluding in June 2024, the exhibition will continue to live in the Exhibition-in-a-Box format. 

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