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Zuckerberg defends Facebook's approach to free speech, draws line on China
Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday defended the social media company's light regulation of speech and lack of fact checking on political advertising, while citing China's censorship as a roadblock to operating in the country.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 18 Oct 2019 | 8:23 am

Martin Luther King's daughter tells Facebook disinformation helped kill civil rights leader
Disinformation campaigns helped lead to the assassination of Martin Luther King, the daughter of the U.S. civil rights champion said on Thursday after the head of Facebook said social media should not factcheck political advertisements.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 18 Oct 2019 | 8:23 am

'Stablecoins' could hinder efforts to stamp out money laundering: global watchdog
The spread of cryptocurrencies such as Facebook's Libra could have serious repercussions for worldwide efforts to detect and stamp out money laundering and terror financing, a global watchdog on illicit finance said on Friday.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 18 Oct 2019 | 7:22 am

Gun with a chip: U.S. Army contracts may lead to a smarter firearm
A carbine that can call in an airstrike. A computer-aided scope on a machine gun that can turn just about anyone into a marksman.Even firearms that measure and record every movement, from the angle of the barrel to the precise moment of each shot fired, which could provide law enforcement with a digital record of police shootings.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 18 Oct 2019 | 6:43 am

'WhatsApp tax' plan dropped in Lebanon
The government announced, then scrapped, a tax on app-based calls amid angry protests over the economy.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 18 Oct 2019 | 5:34 am

Snakes and ladders: SoftBank Vision Fund's climbing, sliding valuations
The $100 billion Vision Fund of Japan's SoftBank Group Corp has in just over two years burned through much of its capital investing in money-losing, late-stage tech startups in areas as varied as autonomous driving, healthcare and finance.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 18 Oct 2019 | 5:05 am

Robot learns to deliver packages, plus other tech news
BBC Click's Omar Mehtab looks at some of the week's best technology stories.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 18 Oct 2019 | 4:37 am

Indonesia issues rules to block illegally imported mobile phones
Indonesia has issued regulations to allow authorities to block smartphones purchased on the black market, in a bid to encourage investors to produce mobile phones in the country, a minister said on Friday.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 18 Oct 2019 | 4:29 am

Lebanon scraps WhatsApp fee amid violent protests
Demonstrators and police clashed in Lebanon on Thursday as thousands of people rallied against the government's handling of an economic crisis, in one of the biggest protests the country has seen in years.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 18 Oct 2019 | 2:31 am

League of Legends boss: ‘It's not for casual players’
Newsbeat sits down with the boss of Riot Games as they celebrate 10 years of League of Legends.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 18 Oct 2019 | 1:19 am

Apple's Cook meets China regulator after pulling Hong Kong app
Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook met the chief of China's market regulator in Beijing on Thursday, the Chinese agency said, a week after the U.S. firm was thrust into the midst of political tensions between the mainland and protesters in Hong Kong.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 18 Oct 2019 | 1:18 am

Two killed in Lebanon fire near Beirut protests: report
Two foreign workers in Lebanon choked to death from a fire that spread to a building near major protests in the capital, Beirut, state news agency NNA said on Friday.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 18 Oct 2019 | 12:10 am

Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency faces new hurdle from G7 nations
Facebook's plans to launch its Libra cryptocurrency faced a new hurdle on Thursday, when the Group of Seven wealthy nations said such "stablecoins" should not be allowed to launch until the profound international risks they pose are addressed.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 17 Oct 2019 | 8:58 pm

Ghost nets: Tackling a silent killer of the seas
Ghost nets kill huge numbers of marine animals every year, but new tech might help prevent that.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 17 Oct 2019 | 7:10 pm

Banning out-of-hours email 'could harm employee wellbeing'
Stopping staff accessing email outside the office could leave some feeling stressed, research suggests.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 17 Oct 2019 | 7:08 pm

Three phone services restored 'for majority'
Three says it is experiencing "technical difficulties with voice, text and data".

Source: BBC News - Technology | 17 Oct 2019 | 4:01 pm

Facebook chief rules out banning political adverts
Mark Zuckerberg says he does not think it is right for a company to censor politicians or the news.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 17 Oct 2019 | 3:13 pm

Google Pixel 4 Face Unlock works if eyes are shut
Google confirms its new security system may unlock a person's device even if their eyes are shut.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 17 Oct 2019 | 11:35 am

Google and BBC scrap VR projects
Virtual reality may still be a few years from realising its potential, says one expert.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 17 Oct 2019 | 9:37 am

Vatican launches new 'eRosary' bracelet
The gadget aims to help young Catholics pray for world peace and contemplate the gospel.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 17 Oct 2019 | 6:25 am

How Fortnite Turned a Routine Server Outage Into a Minor Media Phenomenon

For around 36 hours, Fortnite — one of the most popular video games in the world — was literally a black hole.

At the end of a long-teased season finale, the mysterious rift opened in the game’s world Sunday night, sucking in players, the map, and even the menu. Gamers who logged in were treated to a view of the celestial phenomenon brimming in the distance. Mysterious numbers appeared. Music played in the background. If players entered a code, they could enjoy a simple mini-game. During the blackout, developer Epic Games’ Twitter account, Twitch stream and public relations team all went dark.

While Fortnite’s 250 million-plus players scrambled to figure out what was going on, studio Epic Games did server maintenance as it prepared to switch everything over to a new map and launch new features. This in itself is unremarkable; online games go down for hours at a time for routine maintenance all the time. What is remarkable is that Epic Games managed to disguise such a commonplace event as a big moment, simultaneously keeping players happy and generating a massive amount of press attention for a game that, while plenty popular, has certainly moved past its “phenomenon” stage.

In fact, Fortnite’s downtime was so successful that it set records as players tuned in to see what was afoot. “On October 13, Fortnite reached 1.61 [million] peak concurrent viewers on Twitch, a new all-time high for the game,” says Mat Piscatella of NPD Group, a research firm. “The previous high was 1.46 million on … the day the Nintendo Switch version of the game was announced and released.”

The game came back early Tuesday morning with a brand new map and extra features, like a fishing mechanic. But the big story, says Piscatella, is how Epic Games managed to create an Internet event that “had far further reach than just for those playing the game.” Even Lady Gaga (a known gamer) was curious what the heck was happening:

Contrast Fortnite’s big event with the recent maintenance Destiny 2 underwent ahead of its Oct. 1 soft reboot. Like Fortnite, Destiny 2 is an online shooter running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sometimes, the servers powering it need to come down for maintenance or big changes. Ahead of the refresh, Destiny 2 creator Bungie told fans the game would be offline for 24 hours while it made the transition. When the servers relaunched, they almost immediately went right back down for emergency maintenance. When players finally found their way back online, many had to wait in a digital line for hours to play. Fans vented their frustrations on Twitter and Reddit, leading to news coverage that focused on the rocky goings.

It was just the opposite for Fortnite. Epic Games leveraged its planned downtime into a successful media event. Its strategy gave players a mystery to ponder, leading to a relaunch boosted by a strong swell of media support. Instead of complaining on social media about server downtime, they watched watching a livestream of a black hole.

The entire affair could not gave gone better for Epic. While still popular, Fortnite has been losing steam over the past few months. Gamers are fickle and their attention wanders. But unlike most high-profile games that cost about $60, Fortnite is free to download; its continued financial success depends on gamers staying active and buying stuff in the in-game store. A PR stunt like the one Epic just pulled might be just the shot in the arm Fortnite needed as competitors like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare prepare to hit store shelves. “The game has slowed a bit,” says Piscatella. “This event certainly helped reinvigorate interest. Combating player fatigue and player count decay is the battle all big service-based games fight.”

Source: Tech – TIME | 16 Oct 2019 | 4:52 pm

Yahoo Could Owe You Up to $358 for Data Breaches. Here’s How to File Your Claim

After multiple data breaches that affected up to 3 billion Yahoo accounts, the company has reached a $117.5 million class-action settlement, offering those affected up to $358 in payouts (though likely much less.)

In 2016 Yahoo confirmed two data breaches—one in August 2013 after an unauthorized third party stole “data associated with more than one billion user accounts,” (which the company later disclosed actually affected all 3 billion Yahoo users) and another in 2014 by an unknown “state-sponsored actor,” that involved at least 500 million usernames and passwords.

The 2013 breach is believed to be the largest-ever known data breach.

Bank account information and payment card data were not believed to have been targeted in the 2013 hack, the company said. Instead, user account information including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and passwords were likely stolen.

The settlement comes months after a $700 million settlement by the credit bureau Equifax following a 2017 hack that exposed the Social Security numbers of nearly 150 million people.

As part of the Equifax settlement, those affected by the breach were eligible for free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for up to 10 years or an up to $125 payment. However, the amount that claimants receive will likely be dramatically reduced because of the overwhelming number of claims filed.

How do you file a claim?

Yahoo users who were affected by the breaches can either fill out a form on the settlement website, yahoodatabreachsettlement.com, email at info@yahoodatabreachsettlement.com or call 1-844-702-2788 to have a form mailed to them.

The settlement administrator has also posted an instructional video to YouTube that offers help filling out claim forms.

Those seeking claims have until July 20, 2020, to file a claim.

Who is eligible for a claim?

According to the settlement, anyone who received a notice about the data breaches, or had a Yahoo account at any time between January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2016 and was a resident of the United States or Israel is eligible to file a claim.

The settlement is offering two years of free credit monitoring services by AllClear ID. Those who already have credit monitoring services can sign up for additional protection.

If Yahoo users can verify that they already have a credit monitoring service that they will keep for at least one year, they can submit a claim for a cash payment of $100 instead.

Depending on how many people sign up for the settlement, the payout could be less than $100, or as high as $358.80.

Additionally, Yahoo users who can provide proof they suffered out-of-pocket losses or loss of time from the data breaches are eligible for up payouts of to $25,000 in reimbursement.

The settlement will not be approved until a final hearing in the California courts in April 2020. Until then, no payments or credit monitoring services will be provided.

Source: Tech – TIME | 15 Oct 2019 | 5:28 pm

Sega’s Throwback Genesis Mini is Packed With Good Vibes

If you’re looking for nostalgia, you’ve got loads of options. From rebooted movies to digitally remastered shows, the childhood you think you remember is always at your fingertips, ready for consumption for a nominal fee.

In the case of video games, Sega’s new Genesis Mini will charge you a cool $79 for the privilege, a fraction of the price it went for back in 1989. If you were a Sega fan as a younger gamer, or want to know what you missed, it’s money well spent. A strong library of titles makes it a great gift or impulse buy, but a few cut corners will irk some more discerning gamers. Either way, you’ll have a great time getting to know Sonic the Hedgehog and all the others here.

Here’s the thing with miniature consoles: they’re pretty hit or miss. Not only are they packed with — let’s face it — old games, many titles are hurt by advancements in game design and development. In a way they’re anthropological as much as they are enjoyable, something to show off to your friends or kids to remind them of what games were like once upon a time.

And the companies making them often cut corners on such an already handicapped gadget. Nintendo’s been in the miniature console game for a few years with its NES Classic and Super NES Classic offerings, and Sony dipped its toe in the waters with its PlayStation Classic. But only Nintendo got it right, with the other panned for its dismal title selection and disappointing controller design.

Sega’s Genesis Mini sticks the landing where it matters most: the games. Of the 42 titles to choose from, the vast majority well and truly slap. From the four included Sonic the Hedgehog games to iconic titles like Golden Axe, Ecco the Dolphin, and the Mega Man: The Wily Wars (a three-game compilation), there’s a high chance Sega fans will find themselves immensely satisfied with the lineup.

The games look great, too. While there aren’t as many customization options in terms of emulating that tried and true tube television look, you can either maintain the 4:3 aspect ratio or stretch it out into 16:9 to ruin your enjoyment.

That doesn’t mean the Genesis Mini couldn’t be better. While one may consider themselves grateful they don’t have to fumble around for component cables to connect this retro console to their 4K TV, a bit of the magic is lost when you upscale a classic. The cool vintage effects present on existing game emulators aren’t there, so you can’t approximate the same distortions or fuzzy graphics like you can on a PC.

Aside from the miniaturized console itself, buyers get a pair of wired controllers, along with the requisite cables required to hook up to your modern-day TV. That pair of controllers is one of the few flawed elements in the package. The replicas of the original Genesis controller connect via USB, with a six-foot cable keeping you in your seat. They work well enough, until you want to get serious in a game like Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition. With only a directional pad and three buttons (along with the “Start” button), it lacks the extra three buttons present on the Genesis controllers released in 1993, immensely helpful when it comes to fighter game combos. Sega says the Genesis Mini is compatible with six-button controllers made by companies like Retro-Bit, however.

Ironically, the Genesis Mini’s competition is Sega itself — there’s no shortage of options when it comes to enjoying Sega titles on other consoles. You can buy Mega Man collections on nearly every platform, and Street Fighter is on every modern console worth its salt. Sonic? They’re making a movie about him, so it’s safe to say you can find somewhere to enjoy the speedy blue mammal.

But your PS4 doesn’t come with a pair of controllers reminiscent of your childhood days spent wasting away in front of a tube television. Your hefty gaming PC or ultralight laptop still doesn’t have the minuscule footprint of a shrunken down facsimile of an iconic piece of gaming history. And that’s why the Genesis Mini is cool. It encapsulates everything enjoyable about the games you enjoyed back then, and puts them in a package that’s both self-aware and endearing. Best of all, there’s no software update to download. Just plug it in and start playing, just like old times.

Source: Tech – TIME | 15 Oct 2019 | 5:27 pm

Google Just Unveiled a New Pixel Smartphone, an AirPod Rival and More. Here’s What to Know

Google on Tuesday announced a new lineup of hardware, along with its annual refresh of its Pixel line of smartphones.

From translation-friendly wireless earbuds to the long-anticipated Google Pixel 4, Google’s entire event made no small mention of how subtly integrated the company is aiming to be in your personal life. The Pixel 4, for instance, might be the first smartphone that, thanks to some interesting new technologies, is actually polite to you when you wake up in the morning.

Here are the biggest announcements Google made:

The Gesture-Friendly Pixel 4

The star of the show was the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, the long-anticipated successor to the Pixel 3, and subject of many leaked images and videos. The Pixel 4 has undergone a slight redesign and comes in white, orange, or black, but the most standout change is the rear camera arrangement.

On the back is a second camera lens, adding a telephoto option to the mix, which benefits from features like Super Zoom Res, which uses a combination of optical technology and the Pixel’s machine learning software to get sharp images even at higher zoom levels. Its live HDR+ photography offers more exposure controls to capture images in any particular style you choose, too.

Google

The most impressive addition is the new astrophotography option, built atop Google’s improved Night Sight low-light photography software. It lets users take photos of stars without having to worry about factors like the Earth’s rotation or your phone’s exposure or shutter settings.

There’s also an interesting Motion Sense feature that detects swipes and gestures above the screen of the Pixel 4, powered by an integrated radar sensor next to its 5.7 or 6.3-inch HDR display. In practice, it means reaching for the Pixel 4 to disable your morning alarm will tone down the volume as your hand approaches your device. From there you can swipe your hand away to dismiss the ringing and get on with your day.

You can pre-order the $799 Pixel 4 and $899 4 XL now, and pick one up in stores October 24.

Out with the Home, in with the Nest

Google is updating the design of its now rebranded Google Nest Mini, part of the transition of Google’s Home products to the Nest platform.

The Nest Mini retains the disc-like shape of its predecessor, but adds some extras to its mostly fabric exterior to better fit in your home — on its bottom is a new wall mount slot for getting it off your table and next to your artwork, for instance. It also has new LED indicators on its sides to show you where you can find playback controls on the device.

The upgraded Nest Mini is $49, and will be available October 22.

Now you can talk to your WiFi

An upgrade to its existing Google Wifi device, the new Google Nest Router and Nest Point are a more design-focused, assistant-friendly network of devices, functioning as base and node wireless routers respectively.

Inside is an upgraded wireless system with more radios for faster throughput, and over double the computing power to keep your network running at a fast clip as you move more and more data. While the Nest Router lacks the integrated Google Assistant functionality, the Nest Point features the same functionality one would find on the new Google Nest Mini, including its downward-firing speakers and voice control.

Google

That said, it’s slightly different from the Nest Mini: it lacks both the wall mount and the fun fabric cover and touch controls. Still, Google’s consolidation of WiFi router and smart home speaker is a smart move, especially as it releases more products designed to be placed within earshot and away from any obstructions.

The Nest Router and Nest Point will be available November as a $269 2-pack or $349 3-pack.

Google’s New Pixel Buds

Google also dropped a new pair of its Pixel Buds, this time without the cable tying the two together. With these truly wireless earbuds, Google joins Apple, Microsoft, and others in the quest to kill headphone cables entirely. Google’s headphones are, of course, Google Assistant-friendly, support real-time translation, and feature a “spatial vent” to provide environmental awareness despite the Pixel Buds’ in-ear design.

The Pixel Buds support a long-range Bluetooth connection, and can stay connected inside up to three rooms away, and the span of a football field when outside, Google says. The shape looks similar to headphones from companies like Jabra or Master & Dynamic, but feature some softer, pastel colors on the outer, rounded shell.

Google

They’re said to last five hours on a single charge, and up to a day when paired with its wireless charging case. Unlike the AirPods which sit in your ears, the Pixel Buds feature an in-ear design. The volume adjusts automatically depending on the noise level.

Google’s Pixel Buds will be available in the spring of next year for $179.

A Refreshed Pixelbook

Google also introduced a refreshed Pixelbook, dubbed the Pixelbook Go. The notebook, running ChromeOS, is lighter than the previous Pixelbook, features quieter keyboards, has a 12-hour battery life, and supports fast charging to get two hours of use out of a 20-minute charge.

The Pixelbook Go will be available in black and pink, and starts at $649.

Source: Tech – TIME | 15 Oct 2019 | 12:22 pm

Facebook Moves Forward With Digital Currency ‘Libra’ Despite High-Profile Defections

NEW YORK — Facebook officially moved forward with its plans Monday to create a new digital currency called Libra, despite several high-profile defections from the project and intense criticism from U.S. regulators and politicians.

The Libra Association, the nonprofit that will govern the currency, officially signed on 21 charter members on Monday at the organization’s inaugural meeting in Geneva. Originally the Libra Association had 27 potential members, but several companies dropped out in recent days, including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal.

Most of the remaining members of the Libra Association consist of venture capital firms, who often have an eye on emerging technologies and align with Facebook’s interests, as well as nonprofits. But some larger companies who are now members of the association include Uber, Lyft, Spotify and European telecommunications company Vodafone. The association said in a statement that an unnamed additional 180 entities have expressed interest and have met the initial requirements to join.

Facebook has faced criticism since the summer when it unveiled plans to create a separate, private currency system to allow users to make cross-border payments more easily. Politicians have said they believe Facebook’s struggles with protecting users’ privacy would spill over into Libra, despite it being a separate organization.

The Menlo Park, California-based company tried to answer those criticisms by creating Libra as a legally separate entity through the Libra Association, and by not owning Libra itself. But Facebook is still involved, even at an arm’s length. The association elected David Marcus, a Facebook executive and co-creator of Libra, as one of the association’s five directors. Katie Haun with Andreessen Horowitz, one of the VC firms that invested in Facebook before it went public, was elected to the board as well.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear in front of the House Financial Services Committee later this month to discuss Libra. That committee is chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has been an ardent critic of Libra from its onset.

Facebook and the Libra Association have said they would not start trading or accepting deposits for Libra until they satisfy U.S. regulators concerns. Dante Disparte, Libra’s head of policy and communications, said that the association is now in active talks with regulators to get approval. Facebook has also hired several Washington lobbyists to help alieve regulator and political concerns over Libra.

The other three directors elected to the association’s board were Matthew Davie of Kiva Microfunds, Patrick Ellis with PayU and Wences Casares of Xapo Holdings Ltd.

Source: Tech – TIME | 14 Oct 2019 | 8:53 pm

The Presidential Candidates Need a Plan for Big Tech That Isn’t “Break Up Big Tech”

On October 15 the Democratic presidential candidates will once again have the opportunity to debate their positions on a range of issues affecting this country. Let’s hope that this go-round we hear their visions for Digital America. Yes, health care, immigration, climate change and other topics that consumed the previous debates are important. Yes, impeachment is on the front page. But what is the agenda that provides hope and opportunity for Americans in a new digital-based economy?

So far, much of the campaign focus on the new economy has been reduced to a misleadingly simple “break ‘em up!” solution for Big Tech. But the practical problems created by the digital economy are more complex and how we evolve from policies designed for an industrial era to policies designed for an information era is a simmering challenge that will come to a boil under the next President.

Digital technology has created a new kind of alchemy where our personal information is converted into a corporate asset. The failure of the federal government to establish a privacy policy has left a void that has been filled by states like California and supra-national groups such as the European Union. Congress says it’s working on something; the companies say they can support something – which means candidates should share their views on what that something should be. What level of access to personal information should digital companies have, and how would candidates balance that access with our right to protect our privacy?

After collecting our personal information, digital companies then hoard it. It is a classic monopoly bottleneck that advantages the dominant companies over anyone else who might have a need for the asset. What do the candidates propose to do when new companies cannot get a market foothold, and old companies can’t evolve, because the data they need to generate revenue is locked up by the big companies?

The purpose of antitrust enforcement is to promote a competitive market. But breaking up Big Tech into Smaller Tech does not solve the root issue of appropriating private information for corporate profit. What do the candidates think about a collection of “Mini-Me” companies driven by the post-breakup competition to discover even more ways to exploit and hoard personal information?

Antitrust cases are also long and drawn out – it was 10 years between the filing of the AT&T antitrust case and the division of the company. Antitrust law is ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, where a majority of the present court appears to favor a more constricted construction of antitrust statutes. What are the candidates’ plans to avoid freezing the status quo for multiple years on the way to a probable Supreme Court defeat?

Beyond corporate size, what are the companies’ duty to care about the effects of their activities on consumers and competition? For hundreds of years common law has established that companies anticipate and attempt to mitigate potential harm from their actions. How do the candidates think that idea transfers to the 21st century?

Anyone watching congressional hearings around these issues has witnessed the imbalance of expertise. This is an opportunity for candidates to explain whether government can get up to speed with technology, and if so, how. Technology has eliminated the time buffer that used to give society, economic activity and regulation the opportunity to catch up. How do the candidates propose to evolve from institutions that were developed at a time when it took 125 years for telephones to connect a billion users to today when Google’s Android mobile operating system sped to that threshold in less than six years?

In an era when computer science is all about machine learning and artificial intelligence, candidates should propose how to deal with the effect on jobs, education and running the government itself. How do candidates plan to give Americans concerned about future employment hope that they will have a role in the digital future?

As we participate in this democratic process, we should also be asking the candidates how they intend to preserve our democracy in the digital era. Yes, Russia and other governments are using the internet to interfere in our elections. But there is an even more pervasive threat: democracy requires the suspension of tribal instincts in favor of the greater good, yet the digital business model relies on tribalizing the population to sell targeted advertising. Do the candidates recognize the correlation between increase in political polarization, the increase in wealth disparity and the introduction of new technology? If so, how would they govern amidst those realities?

If these issues are important – and I believe they are – it is time for the candidates to tell us what they would do. Give us their vision of the blueprint for democracy, opportunity, fairness and competition in the digital economy.

Source: Tech – TIME | 14 Oct 2019 | 8:49 am

How Microsoft’s Newest PC Could Pave the Way for the Future of Computers

The world of computer chips just got a wake-up call.

In a recent jam-packed tech keynote, Microsoft unveiled the next generation of its popular Surface Pro line of PCs. The unusual thing is, it did it twice: first revealing the Surface Pro 7, a capable iteration of its powerful-tablet-computer-with-slap-on-keyboard design, and then almost immediately showing it up with the Surface Pro X, a thinner, sleeker, pricer machine with a larger screen that boasts better battery life and much higher cool factor.

The dual announcement was odd. But even odder is what’s powering the Surface Pro X: the Microsoft SQ1, a central processing unit that’s an entirely different species of computer chip than the typical power-hungry Intel processor found in the vast majority of Windows machines today. This is the first Surface Pro that packs a chip optimized for mobile devices, which Microsoft spent three years designing with smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm.

“We wanted to take Surface Pro and bring the next-generation design to the table,” says Pavan Davuluri, Microsoft’s general manager of Surface development. “And that very much meant that we had to go back to the foundation of building and start with the core silicon chipset.”

While most computer users don’t spend a ton of time thinking about what’s under the hood of their devices, Microsoft’s decision to put a mobile chip in the Surface Pro X is a major development with significant implications for the industry, and for the gadgets you’ll be using in the future.

Generally, mobile chips are great if you want a skinny device and good battery life, but they struggle to keep up with tasks heavy on, well, computing — think video editing and gaming. At least that was the conventional wisdom a couple of years ago. Today, a new class of chips is challenging that notion. Apple was arguably the first to raise the bar in mobile performance with the iPad Pro, ushering in an era where a mobile chip doesn’t have to mean trading performance for portability.

The first real portable computer, the Osborne 1, debuted in 1981. If you slide the Osborne’s 25-pound chassis up next to a MacBook Air, you’ll really appreciate how far miniaturization has progressed. However, we’re starting to reach the limits of that progress: Attempts to go even slimmer, like the discontinued 12-inch MacBook, tend to compromise on performance, since powerful chips typically need cooling systems and struggle to provide anything close to the “all day” battery life of smartphones. For PC processors, you can have ultra-portable or ultra-powerful, but usually not both.

On the mobile side, however, where virtually all chips are based on technology from ARM Holdings, that compromise is being renegotiated. Driven by nonstop demand for bigger and better smartphones with multiple cameras, augmented reality, and always-listening assistants, mobile chips have improved by leaps and bounds. Your Mac today performs better than the one you had 10 years ago, but the iPhone 11 is in a whole other world than its ancestors from the same era.

“ARM architecture over the past four-to-five years has matured to the point where it can handle higher compute loads,” says Ben Bajarin, a technology analyst at Creative Strategies. “It’s not going to do everything, like CAD or GPU work. But we’re at a point where it handles more than 90% of a normal worker’s day and 100% of a mobile worker’s.”

Much of that is due to typical technological progress, but for leading chipmakers like Apple and Qualcomm, it’s not so much the number of transistors they can fit on a chip (which has been multiplying year after year thanks to a little idea called Moore’s Law), but how different parts of the chip interact. Having a workhorse CPU is step one, but pairing it with dedicated silicon for specific tasks (like AI or analyzing motion) and integrating a modem (which otherwise can be a big power hog) on the same “system on a chip,” or SoC, is how you keep that horse lean, and make big gains in power efficiency.

It’s thanks to those efficiencies that the Surface Pro X can do something so seemingly easy as gaze correction — fixing that annoying part of video conferencing where your eyes aren’t looking directly at the camera. It’s a task that would push the limits of a regular processor, but with SQ1’s AI computing engine, the Pro X can adjust in real time without breaking a sweat.

“The amount of computing power [gaze correction] needs is mind-blowing,” says Miguel Nunes, head of Qualcomm’s PC division. “To run this use case on a traditional PC, with an external GPU, would consume about 15 watts of power. Running that same use case on the Qualcomm AI engine on the SQ1 consumes about 300 milliwatts. So it’s 50 times less processing.” Translation: Better battery life in a more capable device.

This inflection point has been in the works for years. Around the same time the first iPad Pro went on sale in 2015, Microsoft and Qualcomm partnered up to create a new class of mobile chips that could run Windows — full Windows, not the baby version (called Windows RT) that crashed and burned because it couldn’t run many apps — making it available to manufacturers like Samsung, Lenovo, and HP.

Laptops and tablets that use those chips have been trickling out over the last year, but Microsoft added rocket fuel to the effort with its turbocharged SQ1, which boasts better on-paper specs than any mobile-powered PC so far. Moreover, by calling it a Surface Pro — the company’s stamp of portability and power — Microsoft isn’t so much unveiling a gadget as making a statement: Mobile chips are ready for serious computing.

Are they really, though? Chip and PC geeks have been cautious in their reviews of PCs with mobile processors so far, and given the false starts of the past, they’re justified in their skepticism. However, benchmarks don’t lie, and machines packing Qualcomm’s latest chip tech are scoring well. Still, we’ll have to wait until November to know whether the Surface Pro X really delivers on its promise of next-level performance in everyday use. On the Apple side, the iPad Pro’s more established processing chops have lent credence to reports that Apple has an ARM-based MacBook on its product roadmap.

If Intel is worried about Qualcomm and Apple encroaching on its territory, it’s not showing it. Part of the reason is its counteroffensive: Project Athena, a multi-year effort to make devices less bulky and more power efficient, while also better addressing those signature mobile competencies of always-on, long battery life, and cellular connectivity. The first devices under the Athena banner began shipping earlier this year.

“Athena is not about delivering one thing,” says Josh Newman, vice president of Intel’s client computing group and general manager of mobile innovation. “[The devices] are all targeting nine or more hours of battery life under real-world stress conditions — having a bunch of background applications open and much brighter screen brightness and typical battery life metrics do. And all of them will also support fast charging.”

For now, the portion of the PC market with mobile chips is so vanishingly small that analyst firms aren’t even tracking it yet. But disruptors have to start somewhere. It’s a given that the “work” computers of the future will be thin, light, and powerful — but what will be powering them is much more of an unknown than it was just a few months ago.

Correction, Oct. 14

The original version of this story misstated what Miguel Nunes said about the SQ1’s efficiency. The given example would involve 50 times less processing, not 15 times less.

Source: Tech – TIME | 14 Oct 2019 | 7:49 am

Police in Japan Arrest Pop Star’s Stalker After He Analyzed Her Selfies, Used Reflections in Her Eyes to Find Her Address

(TOKYO) — A man arrested on suspicion of stalking a female pop idol used the reflections of her pupils in photos she shared on social media and Google Street View to find where she lived.

Tokyo police declined comment on the specifics of the investigation but confirmed Friday that 26-year-old Hibiki Sato was arrested Sept. 17 on suspicion of indecent behavior in connection with stalking and causing injuries to the 20-year-old woman.

The police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as is often policy at Japanese bureaucracies, said the case was related to the reports about a stalker and pupil images. Police described Sato as an “avid fan.”

Public broadcaster NHK and other Japanese media reported this week that details in the woman’s selfies were used to identify the train station she frequented. They said Sato looked at other images she shared, such as her apartment, to figure out where she lived.

Police say he hurt her and committed indecent acts, such as groping her after accosting her from behind and knocking her down.

Japan has many young female performance groups.

Tokyo Shimbun, which reported on the stalking case, warned readers even casual selfies may show surrounding buildings that will allow people to identify the location of the photos. It also said people shouldn’t make the V-sign with their hand, which Japanese often do in photos, because fingerprints could be stolen.

Cyberstalking has been a problem for years, with criminals and perpetrators of domestic violence using hacking, clandestine activation of microphones and cameras and other methods to track their victims.

It’s unclear how prevalent the use of high-resolution photos to locate potential victims might be.

Source: Tech – TIME | 11 Oct 2019 | 7:25 pm

Ghost Recon Breakpoint Is Just Too Frustrating to Love

The island is a paradise and the Skrell Campus sticks out from the green beauty like an ugly obstruction from some other world — which is exactly what it is. It’s the middle of the day, but I’m trying to be sneaky despite the sunlight. I need something from the campus and there are men in my way. A patrol of two breaks away from the others and moves along a dock. I slip my knife into the first and he cries out, alerting the second, who gets off a few shots before I can close the distance and finish him. His gunfire alerts the rest of the guards, who come to kill me. I turn to face my enemies and slide off the dock and into the water. Embarrassed, I reach for the ladder that would take me off the dock. But the ladder won’t work — I can’t grasp the rungs and so I wade, helpless. Five drones descend. Their guns spin up and I die. I’ll have to do it all over again.

This is Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, the worst video game I’ve played in 2019. Developed and published by Ubisoft and out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, Breakpoint is a big open world sandbox in the style of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and The Division 2. But unlike those other Ubisoft games, playing it felt like a chore that only reminded me of how much fun open world sandboxes can be when they don’t feel like work. Every time I’d get into the flow of the game, something — a bug, poor design — would interrupt me and turn fun into frustration.

In Breakpoint, I controlled Nomad, a U.S. special operations soldier who works off-the-book missions. The game kicks off when a U.S. Navy cargo ship disappears off the coast of Auroa, a fictional island in the Pacific, and the brass sends Nomad to investigate. Someone shoots Nomad’s helicopters out of the air, her team crashes on Auroa, and she has hook up with the island’s locals, explore its various locales, and storm enemy strongholds to find out what’s happening. In a lengthy story that feels like a bad Tom Clancy novel filled with buzzwords ripped from the headlines, Nomad must stop a private military corporation from using AI, drone swarms, cryptocurrency, transhumanism, and weapons of mass destruction to create a “better world.”

Breakpoint plays like a third-person stealth action game similar to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain or a slower paced The Division 2. Auroa is a large open world with many points of interests the player can explore in any order they want. I focused on the story, occasionally dipping out to hit side objectives and explore the map. Auroa is huge, and it’s possible to spend hours simply clearing out enemy bases and never touching the story. Breakpoint even allowed me to attack main villain Cole Walker, a former colleague of Nomad played by Jon Berenthal doing the morally compromised soldier bit he perfected in The Punisher, anytime I wanted.

I would fast-travel to the closest location to my objective, scout the area with a drone to mark its guards and enemies, then attempt to sneak my way through those enemies with silenced weapons and knives. When things went hot, I abandoned the pretense of stealth and brought out an SMG. Along the way, I leveled up and earned points that allowed me to customize my operator to my gameplay style. I was going the stealthy route, so I picked abilities that extended the range of my drone, allowed me to drop a smoke bomb to vanish from enemy sight, and increased the power and range of my sniper rifles. I could have just as easily built an operator that healed fellow players or rushed, guns blazing, into trouble.

Breakpoint can be played by yourself or in groups of up to four, and there’s also a competitive multiplayer mode. It’s more fun to play with other people, but adding friends to the firefight doesn’t make it any less of a slog. I love stealth games, but Breakpoint never feels as smooth as Metal Gear Solid 5 and the shooting never feels as tight as The Division 2. The player is allowed to experiment and tackle different objectives with different styles, but none of the styles feel complete. There’s no reward for a stealthy playthrough save the satisfaction of a job well done, and when things went bad, it was easy to put my back against a wall and funnel enemies down a corridor for easy picking.

Worse are all the bugs. In addition to non-working ladders, I encountered hostages I couldn’t free, guns that wouldn’t fire, and several invisible walls. The worst happened during an early mission in which I needed to extract a high value target (HVT) from a heavily guarded enemy base. I escorted the HVT from his confines, put him on a helicopter, and got to the extraction point, but he wouldn’t leave the chopper. This happened twice, and each time I had to destroy the helicopter to kill the HVT and reset the mission. While cathartic, it was not what I’d call “fun.” On the third trip, the HVT decided to leave the helicopter so as not to die a fiery death like his predecessors.

The game’s loot system also puzzled me. Breakpoint has a gear score, determined by the level of the items you pick up. As you progress through the game, you receive weapons and armor that do more damage, give you better protection, and increase your gear score. Areas are soft locked by this gearscore, meaning a player with a score of 50 should avoid an area where the bad guys have scores of 150. Yet, Breakpoint is a game where shooting a bad guy in the face kills them instantly. If they wear a helmet, I had to shoot them twice. There are bullet-sponge enemies — mostly drones — but they’re few and far between. Gearscore never felt like it mattered, and so the loot never felt like it mattered, either.

Breakpoint’s story is a disappointment too. Berenthal is excellent, but it feels as if Ubisoft asked him to play The Punisher again, except evil. The tech bros who built the libertarian paradise are also portrayed as naive good guys who never meant for their technology to be used by evil mercenaries.

Many of Breakpoints elements feel rote, like they were pulled out of the big budget video game grab bag. Why does it have loot? Not because the loot adds to the experience, but because loot keeps us playing and engaged. Why does it have hundreds of hours of pointless, repetitive side content? Because side missions keep us playing and engaged? Why is Berenthal chewing scenery every few hours? Because players have said they wanted high-quality, story-driven experiences.

On paper, Breakpoint is the kind of game we’re supposed to love. But its disparate elements never come together and often feel like a waste of time.

Source: Tech – TIME | 11 Oct 2019 | 1:49 pm

How to Play Your Favorite PlayStation 4 Games On Your Computer, Tablet or Phone

Sony’s latest update to its PlayStation 4 console, version 7.00, brings a host of new conveniences that make it easier for players to add more players to their online party, adds chat transcription support, and improves audio quality thanks to some behind-the-scenes improvements.

But the most appealing feature might be the updated Remote Play service, which now works with both Android and iOS devices, controller support included. That means you’ve now got a way to free up the TV and still enjoy your PlayStation 4 games on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet.

Still, there are a few footnotes to consider before you start gaming on a screen other than your TV. To use the PS4 Remote Play feature, you’ll need to configure a couple of things — besides your PS4, obviously.

What You Need For PlayStation 4 Remote Play

You’ll need a PC or Mac running the free PS4 Remote Play app (you can download it here). If you’re on an Android or iOS device, you’ll need to grab the Remote Play app from Google Play or the App Store.

You’ll also need a broadband internet connection, a DualShock 4 controller, and a PS4 game that doesn’t require a VR headset or a specialized controller. To minimize latency, you should use an Ethernet cable to connect your console to your wireless router or modem (you should do the same on the device you’re streaming to, if possible).

Prep Your PlayStation 4

Once you’ve installed the requisite PS4 Remote Play app from whatever app store you’re using, you’ll need to configure your PS4. First, update your PS4’s software to the most current version, 7.00. To do so, visit Settings > System Software Update, and let your console get to work. Then you’ll need to identify your console as the “primary” console. Visit Settings > Account Management > Activate as Your Primary PS4.

Next, enable Remote Play on the console itself. Visit Settings > Remote Play Connection Settings > Enable Remote Play. If you don’t want to walk over to your console to turn it on every time you want to get away from it, you can visit Settings > Power Save Settings > Set Features Available in Rest Mode, then select “Stay Connected to the Internet” and “Enable Turning On PS4 From Network.”

Next Up, Pairing Your Controller

So you’ve got your PS4 ready to go, and the PS4 Remote Play app installed on your remote device. Now it’s time to pair your DualShock 4 controller, either with a Micro-USB cable on a PC or Mac, or via Bluetooth on any Remote Play compatible device with Bluetooth support (or a Bluetooth adapter).

You can pair the controller to your PC either with a Micro-USB cable or via Bluetooth. First, find your PC’s Bluetooth settings by heading to Start > Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices. Hold both the Share and PS button for four seconds until the controller’s light bar starts to flash. On your PC, select the plus to add a new Bluetooth device.

On your Mac, you can pair via Bluetooth, but you’ll need to be running the latest version of macOS Catalina, released earlier this week (though you might want to hold off on updating until all your apps are compatible). Put your controller in pairing mode, visit the System Preferences app on your Mac, hit the Bluetooth icon, and add your device.

iOS and Android devices can pair to your DualShock 4 the same way they pair with any traditional Bluetooth device. But you’ll need to be running Android 10, iOS 13, or iPadOS 13 to actually use the controller instead of the inferior on-screen controls.

Link Your Devices

After you’ve installed the PS4 Remote Play app and paired your DualShock 4 controller to your remote device, you’ll need to visit the console’s Remote Play Connection Settings page you visited earlier, and select Add Device.

You can fiddle with frame rate and resolution settings by picking Open Preferences in the Remote Play app on your remote device before you begin playing. On your remote device, open the app and select Start to locate and pair your device to your PS4. Then sign in with your PlayStation Network account and enjoy gaming your day away while someone else uses the TV to enjoy their stories.

Get an Accessory or Two

Sure, you’re all set up and ready to play, but if you’ve placed your smartphone in a precarious position while you’re playing, you’d be well-served with a key accessory: a phone mount. A search on Amazon for “PS4 phone mount” will yield a few options from obscure accessory makers, so make sure the mount will fit your phone model and read some customer reviews before you drop $15 on one.

That phone mount will allow you to clip your smartphone to your DualShock 4 controller, and adjust the viewing angle to fit your needs. If you plan on using Remote Play often, a phone mount might be the one missing piece of the puzzle that keeps you away from your TV for good.

Source: Tech – TIME | 11 Oct 2019 | 7:41 am

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