'GTA Online' update brings new multiplayer mode and patriotic swag

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Rockstar’s new update for Grand Theft Auto Online is (mostly) all about Independence Day, a holiday Americans will be celebrating through the weekend and, some, until Tuesday. The goods, which are now live, include an adversary mode dubbed “Dawn Raid,” where two teams of up to six people can parachute into a combat zone and battle it out to find hidden packages. And, since this is a 4th of July-themed update after all, you’ll also get a bunch of patriotic Stars and Stripes swag, including weapons and apparel for your avatar.

In addition to that, Rockstar is bringing a new Supercar into the mix, the “Dewbauchee Vagner.” It’s gorgeous and probably crazy fast, but that means you’re going to have to spend a good amount of virtual cash if you’d like it in your garage.

 

 

Twitter to stream live coverage of Wimbledon and Comic-Con

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Clive Brunskill via Getty Images

Twitter’s livestreaming efforts have been well documented, and today we have news that the microblogging service is expanding it further. Variety writes that next month Twitter will broadcast the opening preview night from San Diego Comic-Con as part of a deal with entertainment publication IGN — much like what the pair did with E3 earlier this month.

Beyond geek coverage, Twitter will also stream Wimbledon coverage again. This time it’s a partnership with The All England Club rather than ESPN, as TechCrunch reports. Except instead of live matches, it sounds like you’ll see highlight reels and interviews instead. So much for not needing access to ESPN to watch top-level tennis. The tournament started June 25th and runs to July 16th.

 

 

AT&T's DirecTV Now expands its local channel lineup

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AOL

As pay TV subscriber growth declines, regional content affiliates are looking for more ways to bring in customers (and their money) via digital platforms like Sling TV, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now. One way to stem the tide of vanishing local cord-cutters is to offer more local programming, which could entice customers to bundled internet TV packages. AT&T’s Direct TV now service just announced that it has more than doubled its own live local channel line up, adding local NBC, ABC and FOX affiliates around the US. The company claims that the expansion gives DirecTV Now local coverage for almost 70 percent of US households.

It’s notable that CBS is not available through the service, as the broadcaster has typically gone its own way and offered it’s own CBS All Access package and is available on Hulu and PlayStation Vue (in select markets). CBS is also unavailable on Sling TV.

AT&T plans to add even more local ABC, NBC and FOX affiliates to its lineup by the end of August. “We are pleased to add additional content to the DirecTV Now offering by more than doubling our live local channels lineup today,” said AT&T’s Daniel York in a statement. “We will keep the momentum going, and have plans to keep the number of local channels growing on DirecTV Now.”

 

 

Facebook's WiFi locator is available to users worldwide

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Facebook

Last year, Facebook began testing its “Find WiFi” feature on its app, which lets you locate businesses nearby that have free, public WiFi. Find WiFi was launched in a few countries in 2016 and today Facebook announced it would be expanding the feature globally.

When activated, Find WiFi will show which locations near you offer free WiFi along with those locations’ business hours, what kind of places they are and their network names. However, businesses have to opt in to this service by claiming their network on their Facebook Page. So, not every available hotspot is going to show up.

In the announcement, Facebook said it found the feature to be useful in areas where cellular data was lacking or for people who were traveling. And this is just the latest project meant to boost internet connectivity and, therefore, Facebook use. The company is also working on an undersea cable connection between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, internet-providing drones and laser-based internet access.

To get to the feature, click the “More” tab in the Facebook app and then “Find WiFi.” The roll out begins today and is available for both iOS and Android.

 

 

The Moto X4 may be the first non-Google phone to get Project Fi

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AOL

There’s only been one problem with Project Fi’s well-received phone carrier network: too few phones. Until now, the only devices that work with it have been Google’s own Nexus and Pixel handsets. It looks like that’s about to change, though. Project Fi teased a release on Twitter, announcing “a new Fi-compatible device at a mid-tier price from one of our partners later this year.” VentureBeat reports this device will be Lenovo’s Moto X4, which will likely become the very first non-Google phone on the Google Fi system.

We know relatively little about the X4, other than a leaked marketing photo that surfaced this past May. According to a video leaked on Reddit, it’s possible that the device will be an higher-end mid-range phone with a Snapdragon 660 processor, a 3,800mAh battery, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a fingerprint reader.

Google Fi impressed us with its low cost, ease of use and the disruptive ability to use Wi-Fi and multiple cellular networks. It’s also begun testing LTE service for voice calls and a family plan, two features missing from the start. If you’re excited about having a new iteration in the Moto X line, you shouldn’t have too long to wait. VentureBeat’s sources claim the new X4 handset should launch in the fourth quarter of this year. We’ve reached out to Google for confirmation on this matter and will update this post when we hear back.

 

 

Afghanistan’s all-girl teen robotics team denied entry to US

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a_Taiga via Getty Images

Next month, the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition will bring together high school teams from around the world. Taking place in Washington, DC, over 150 teams are set to participate. However, while the team from Afghanistan’s robot will be there, the team itself won’t because the US has denied their visa applications.

The team is made up of six teenage girls who traveled over 500 miles to the US embassy in Kabul for their visa interviews. They actually made the trip twice in hopes that another round of interviews would help their case. And the visa denial isn’t the first obstacle the team has been faced with — their robotics kit, put together and delivered by the competition, was held at customs for months. The holdup was apparently due to fears surrounding ISIS‘ use of robots. The supplies cleared customs only three weeks ago.

The team, brought together by Afghanistan’s first woman tech CEO, Roya Mahboob, has designed a ball-sorting robot that will be shipped to the US for the competition and they’ll be able to video conference into the event when their robot is evaluated. A team from Gambia has also been denied visas and the State Department can’t comment on why because the records are confidential.

Mahboob said that participating in the competition was very important for the country. “Robotics is very, very new in Afghanistan,” she told Forbes. One of the team members, a 14-year-old girl named Fatemah said, “We want to show the world we can do it, we just need a chance.”

 

 

Palmer Luckey donates to software that breaks Oculus exclusivity

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Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey has always railed against the idea of locking VR games to a single platform. Now, several months after leaving Facebook following controversy about his political donations to a pro-Trump group, Luckey is stepping back into the VR world in a surprising way. Waypoint reports that he’s contributing $2,000 a month to the Patreon campaign for Revive, a tool that lets HTC Vive owners play games that are only available on the Oculus Rift.

“As some of you suspected the sudden extreme jump in the pledge amount is indeed by Palmer Luckey,” Revive developer Jules Blok said in the campaign’s blog. “I’d like to thank him for his pledge and everything he has done for the VR community as a whole.”

Revive was a response to Facebook’s exclusive Oculus titles, which only worked with the Rift headset and were available through the Oculus Store. Before that, the VR community had hoped that games would work across the Rift and Vive, so as not to stifle innovation in the VR arena. While it makes sense for gamers to be upset, it’s also worth considering that Oculus funded plenty of titles that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. So it’s not surprising that Facebook would want to keep those games to itself.

Facebook initially pushed back against Revive by implementing a headset check, but it didn’t take too long for the app’s developers to crack Oculus’ DRM. The social network later relented and removed its headset check, which led Revive’s developers to remove its DRM cracking.

Now, Vive owners can easily play Oculus titles using Revive. It makes sense for Facebook to avoid causing too much of a fuss, since they still have to buy the games from its storefront. While Luckey’s support is a bit surprising, given that he was the public face of Oculus for years, it’s in line with his personal philosophy of keeping the VR ecosystem open. And, if anything, it’ll certainly be more well received than his plans for a “virtual” border wall.

 

 

The Met's latest exhibit puts oversharing on a pedestal

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The rules were simple: For five months, 12 pairs of artists participating in the Metropolitan Museum’s Talking Pictures: Camera-Phone Conversations Between Artists exhibit had to use their phones to take and share photos or videos with each other. Texts or captions were not allowed.

Gallery: Talking Pictures at The Met | 16 Photos

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A dozen artists were picked to participate; they were then tasked with inviting one fellow artist to be their conversation partners. The project was designed to explore what would happen when, thanks to the instant nature of smartphone photography, artists can create and share their works with “unprecedented intimacy.” The exhibit, made possible by Adobe, is open until December 17, 2018, and features multiformat presentations of the dozen resulting conversations.

The participating artists had to upload their media to an iCloud account shared between them and the museum. They weren’t allowed to post any of the material to social media. The exhibit’s curator and organizer, Mia Fineman, told Engadget they didn’t use a messaging app because those tend to compress files. And that’s a compromise the Met didn’t want to make because some of the prints in this gallery are 19 inches by 19 inches. Although they wanted to create an app to let the artists send each other full-res files, they weren’t able to finish one in time for the project.

Because uploading to iCloud isn’t the way we typically send each other pictures, the resulting exchanges for Talking Pictures aren’t a perfect mimicry of real-world interaction. But they most likely wouldn’t have been even if the participants had used iMessage anyway. The artists were all aware from the beginning that their work would eventually be displayed for the world to see, so there was always going to be a limit on how personal they got.

That’s not to say the photos at Talking Pictures aren’t intimate. Manjari Sharma and Irina Rozovsky started out as acquaintances but grew close over the course of the project after they discovered they were both pregnant and due in April. Their exchange, which is presented as two rows of prints spanning an entire wall in the museum, gets uncomfortably familiar. In addition to stunning nightscapes and snapshots of family members, Sharma and Rozovsky also uploaded pictures of their pregnant, fuzzy bellies, moments during delivery and even their placentas afterward.

Few other conversations got that intimate — not even between one pair of artists that were actually married to each other. Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz had a pretty typical dialogue that mostly consisted of pictures of funny signs, political observations and beautiful landscapes. And because this was presented on an iPad that you swipe through, browsing their conversation felt more like scrolling through their Instagram feeds without witty captions, hashtags or likes.

Most of the other interactions feel similarly mundane. Whether they are played on a TV screen or printed out and bound in a voluminous book, the projects feel like a collection of Instagram accounts. In other words, each conversation typically contains pictures that are good on their own, some more impressive than others, but rarely tell a cohesive story or offer meaningful commentary.

Two sets of work stand out, though. Cynthia Daignault and Daniel Heidkamp shared photos of their paintings done specifically for Talking Pictures, usually within days of each other. Their work includes 60 prints (measuring 19×19 inches) of paintings that are 18×18 inches in real life. Each image was shot with an iPhone and is clear enough that clumps of paint looked as if they were actually there. Laid out chronologically in a 12×5 grid, it again reminded me of an Instagram page, albeit one that stuck to the older square-only format.

Each print depicts something you’d typically share on social media — like serene countrysides or a hand holding up a newspaper. Some of the paintings were even colored to look like they had filters applied, although whether that was deliberate isn’t clear. And yet, because the amount of thought and preparation that went into it is abundantly obvious, Daignault and Heidkamp’s piece bowls over its audience with skilled, careful execution.

The pair whose pictures delivered the most effective interpretation of the exhibit’s message, however, is Christoph Niemann and Nicholas Blechman. Both are talented illustrators (Blechman is the art director at The New Yorker), and their collaboration is presented in a thin, nondescript hardcover book. Flip it open, and you’ll see a picture of a hand-drawn black circle with a dotted line that goes over to the next page. Turn over, and that dot has made its way across the next two pages and has become a chicken’s egg. On the page after that, a photo shows the next stage in the dot’s evolution — as the back of a real man’s head.

The rest of the book plays out the same way — sketches blending with the real world in a cute, often comical way. Again, it sometimes reminds me of Instagram accounts where people take photos of themselves holding up cutouts of pictures against real-world scenes. But what Niemann and Blechman’s work highlights is their ability to use instant sharing to inspire thoughtful, creative responses. For example, in reaction to a photo that Blechman shared of a bush growing through a crack in the pavement, Niemann sketched a smooth-surfaced globe with similar globs peeking out through crevices all over. Even on its own, this back-and-forth stands as a powerful criticism of man’s impact on Earth.

When sharing photos is so easy and efficient, the result should be mutual inspiration and growth, not an endless stream of images screaming “look-at-me!” But this is sadly lost on the Instagram and Snapchat generation (which I am, admittedly, a part of). Blechman and Niemann’s book (which you can buy from their website) isn’t all serious thought-provoking criticism, though: In fact, it offered mostly cheeky, clever perspectives on everyday situations that will make you marvel at the artists’ genius.

Like the book, the exhibit ultimately never gets too dark or critical. It could ask questions, like whether smartphone cameras have cheapened modern photography or if our generation is too obsessed with itself. But it doesn’t. Instead, it simply celebrates the ways artists were able to wield phones as paintbrushes.

Talking Pictures is a diverse collection of pictorial conversations that showcases the different ways we use our phones. But we already knew that the camera has morphed from a tool to preserve special moments to a window for instant sharing. The exhibit also proves, albeit unintentionally, that it takes careful thought to differentiate the mundane from the meaningful. While you’ll enjoy getting an inside look at these artists’ lives and points of view, you probably won’t leave feeling like you’ve learned a lesson. And so, Talking Pictures, unfortunately, remains in forgettable, mediocre territory instead of leaving a lasting impact.

 

 

The hot new cyberattack that's sweeping the nation

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On Tuesday, a powerful and terrifying new cyberattackworm emerged in Ukraine, quickly spreading to the Russian Federation and other countries no one cared enough to report on because they weren’t the US.

It was hard to tell which infection was worse: The cyberattack itself or the race to write and publish something (anything!) about it, framing it just like the last “massive” cyberattack explosion to hit the whole world.

The cyber-news virus hit American media quickly, locking up common sense like an unpatched Windows machine with a “hack me” sign on it. It got root on domestic infosec Twitter and quickly spread into the headlines of The New York Times, who rushed out a piece incorrectly naming the (actual) cyberattack as ransomware.

Once the Times wrote about it, the cyber-news infection exploded to lock up headlines through the week — affecting more people through hysteria than the actual cyberattack was affecting organizations and people in the real world. Airports, shipping companies, banks, FedEx and even Cadbury Chocolate were affected, but infosec Twitter was the hardest hit.

The virus is real, but the reporting has been so competitive and the limelight-chasing so fast and furious that the end result is disorganized, hysterical, and overwhelming.

In reality, it looks like there was a cyberattack on a country by another country, which of course couldn’t be contained, so now it’s in every country. This week’s cyber flavor of the month was deployed to harm Ukraine on the same day a Ukrainian military officer was assassinated by a car bomb. He just happened to be the man who was investigating and gathering evidence for The Hague of Russia’s military aggression for Ukraine’s case against Russia in the International Court of Justice.

And harm Ukraine it did. In just a few hours, key parts of the country’s government, infrastructure, top energy companies, private and state banks, main airport, Kyiv’s metro system and even companies that do business with these entities were affected. If anyone was trying to imagine a way to “cyber bomb” a country, then the effect of this wiper would be as close as it gets.

The attack was made to look like ransomware, probably because that word is like Patient Zero for headline panics right now. In reality, it was created to be a wiper — something that just locks up files forever and ever. This means it reveals itself after locking up all your files and demands a ransom to de-encrypt them — except that part’s a lie. The creators had no intention of getting any money; its intent was to destroy.

I’m guessing that real ransomware criminals, who care about customer service, are gonna be pissed about the reputational harm to their pay-and-get-your-files-back scheme.

Relevant bits of the wiper were also seen in the ransomware that was so last month: WannaCry. That’s because the code to create this monster of the week was rehashed from an exploit released into the wild by Shadow Brokers, widely believed to be a Russian state entity, in one of its dumps of NSA tools.

Couldn’t decrypt their common sense

The cyberattack is still spreading and wreaking real havoc just as fast as its headlines are. (Engadget’s editors are patched and up to date, I swear!) The wiper’s effect on infosec companies seems to be a viral desperation to be part of the story — so acute that the damn thing has several names, because squatter’s rights rule in the race for attention, I guess. You may have heard of it as Petya, or Not Petya, ExPetyr or GoldenEye, or even Nyetya.

But if you’re like most people, you’re just wondering if it is going to affect you, and if you need to do anything.

Petya/Not Petya (or whatever) will affect you if it starts hitting services you use or need, and even then, there’s not much you can do about it. In any case, the usual virus advice applies: Patch and update (Windows especially, as usual), and otherwise make some backups that you store offline.

After that, it’s just a matter of getting your sanity back after drowning in a week of crazed and confused headlines about a new hacking danger, after several years of breach overwhelm and a hack attack every damn week of the year.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun to watch cybersecurity journalists freak out about something new they don’t understand or wait to get facts on. I have special popcorn for infosec Twitter’s predictable race to scratch and bite its way into those fleeting headlines. But it’s a crap situation for trying to figure out what the hell is really going on, not to mention that it adds a heavy load of bad news to our already-overwhelming bad-news-saturation levels.

Mature adult businessman smashing laptop on fire with hammer

This week’s hot new cyberattack is definitely doing its share of damage, but that damage shouldn’t be to our sanity. We have to stay informed, yet the level of hysteria and craziness from this week of cyber-confusion alone is enough to make anyone want to check out. And this is already after a lot of people spent the first few months after America’s 2016 election feeling scared and depressed, frantically checking their phones every five minutes for the next batch of I-can’t-believe-it’s-happening news.

Take my advice and make a plan to cut through the noise. Look at your news sources and trim them down; with cybersecurity, pick a few sources (or better, individual journalists) you can trust, and cull the rest from the herd. This is often the hardest part; The New York Times reported it as ransomware, making that source one you should definitely question.

It helps to take a little time to look at what people are saying about sources and journalists when it comes to hacking and infosec, and to be especially critical of people’s motivations behind their soundbites and headlines. Everyone in infosec (and cybersecurity journalism) wants to be famous, but few are willing to take the time to be correct. When you find ones you can trust, they’ll usually be solutions-oriented — and not trying to get your clicks, seek validation or sell you anything.

Next, decide which kind of hacking news is going to be your priority — the Russian hacking scandal, ransomware, breaches, encryption — and deprioritize anything else. Then establish a baseline of hours each day for you to spend on news reading and social media, like one hour in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. In researching news-overwhelm for my book, one psychologist I interviewed told me, “I know that I, personally, was spending nearly four hours a day on news, and finally had to decide an hour was enough.” Once you make a determined plan on how many hours are reasonable, this is your target.

So, at the very least, we’re now ready for next week’s panic.

Image: Getty (Laptop fire)

 

 

Facebook says high-frequency posters often share fake news

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Facebook has taken another small step in its very mild battle with fake news. The website will now begin to deprioritize the links posted by users who share large amounts of posts each day.

In an announcement, Adam Mosseri, the Facebook VP in charge of News Feed, said that the company’s research shows that people who post more than 50 times per day are often sharing low quality content. Their posts frequently include clickbait, sensationalism and misinformation. The connection between fake news and high-frequency posters is strong enough that Facebook has just tweaked its algorithm to make those posts show up less often in others’ feeds. The change should curtail the reach such links have throughout Facebook.

Facebook’s fake news problem became an issue during the presidential election and fake news activity spiked around election day. Other attempts at reigning in false content include other algorithm tweaks and fact-checkers as well as rather empty additions like an educational tool and fake news flags.

The new change is limited to individuals, not Pages and will only focus on links to articles.

 

 

Facebook needs to be more open about its hate-speech policy

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On Wednesday, ProPublica published a report that outlines some pretty bizarre reasoning behind Facebook’s approach to hate speech and censorship. Evidence shows that Facebook has a moderation policy that could favor “white men” over “black children,” based on a guideline that protects broad categories of people but not subsets.

Obviously, it can be quite difficult for Facebook to oversee the content of more than 2 billion users, and it’s bound to make mistakes doing so. But with so much reach and influence, this kind of incredible tone-deafness is upsetting. And what’s even more upsetting is that the policy is secret at all.

According to internal training documents that ProPublica obtained, Facebook defines hate speech as an attack against a protected category. Examples of protected categories include race, sex, gender identity, religious affiliation, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation and serious disability or disease.

That all sounds well and good, except that “subsets” of these categories are considered fair game. So when US Rep. Clay Higgins called for the murder of “radicalized Muslims,” that was OK (since “radicalized” is a modifier) but when activist Didi Delgado said “All white people are racist,” that was not, since it’s a statement that targeted an entire race.

This ignores the fact that calling for the deaths of people is quite a bit more violent than declaring a group of people is racist. It is, however, in line with an earlier report from The Guardian that claims Facebook’s policies allow certain violent speech if it doesn’t pose a “credible threat.”

And if that seems unfair to you, ProPublica uncovered an internal presentation slide that made the distinction all the more disturbing. In it was a quiz with a question: “Which of the below subsets do we protect?” The provided options were “female drivers,” “black children” and “white men.” The correct answer, according to Facebook, is “white men” because race and gender are protected categories, but “drivers” and “children” are not.

It’s a bizarre answer, not only because it doesn’t make sense, but because it is so very culturally tone-deaf. As ProPublica points out, this logic assumes all races and genders are equal and ignores the reason hate-speech laws exist: to protect those who are marginalized in society.

At the same time, Facebook is, of course, not a country; it’s a private company. It doesn’t create laws, and it can’t throw people in actual jail for shouting slurs. It’s a corporation with a global platform, and it needs to apply its rules universally, which is difficult when different countries have different customs. Germany, for example, has recently instituted a law whereby it can sue Facebook for up to $57 million for hate speech, whereas countries like the US have no such law.

It can’t be denied that moderating speech for so many people is a hard and complicated task, which is why Facebook has hired more than 3,000 extra moderators to help police its site. Richard Allan, Facebook’s VP of public policy in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, does acknowledge, however, that it can still make mistakes: “We’re not perfect when it comes to enforcing our policy. Often, there are close calls — and too often we get it wrong.”

Which is why the recent ProPublica report is so alarming. While it’s encouraging to hear that Facebook is taking hate speech seriously, the way it’s going about it seems pretty terrible. It’s not enough to know that it’s going to ban hate speech. We need to know the exact guidelines for how it defines it, too.

 

 

Fitbit is reportedly still struggling to make a smartwatch

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AOL

When Fitbit launched the Blaze fitness watch in 2016, it made sense that the company might also be working on a more full-featured smartwatch, too. When Fitbit bought Pebble, Fitbit’s CEO confirmed that fact. Unfortunately, the product was reported by Yahoo! to have a ton of issues that pushed the planned launch from this past spring to the fall. Bloomberg is now reporting that the project has lost several people who were working on the smartwatch. The sources also say that Fitbit was unable to close a deal with Spotify and that technical challenges have delayed the completion of an app store, an essential component of any smartwatch ecosystem.

Fitbit denies any problems. “We can confirm that development of our smartwatch and our 3rd party apps are on track,” said a spokesperson in an emailed statement to Engadget. “Any claims that the developer program is struggling are false. We look forward to working with the developer community to offer users the opportunity to curate their own Fitbit experience and, with our broad cross-platform compatibility and expertise in health and fitness, are well positioned to succeed. “

We know what the new smartwatch could look like, thanks to some leaked photos obtained by Yahoo Finance last May. With a traditional square watch face and a unibody case, “Project Higgs” looks a little like the Blaze. Yahoo sources noted that the smartwatch will have built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring and a set of wireless headphones code-named “Parkside.”

As Bloomberg notes, it’s going to be tough to compete with the two big smartwatch brands out there from Apple and Android. Developers aren’t going to go all in on a product that’s been delayed and may not come with a complete app store on launch. While Fitbit may be looking to the smartwatch category to boost its own flagging wearables sales, the choice to make a completely independent watch, operating system and app store may have been a bit too optimistic.

 

 

âœSalman Khan is a force of natureâ says Editor Jitesh Pillaai

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“Salman Khan is a force of nature,” says Editor Jitesh Pillaai

Salman Khan is a force of Nature. Who would have thought that the lanky youngster, who made his debut in Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988), would one day be regarded as the gold standard of box-office collections? He’s been destiny’s child in more ways than one, surviving court cases pertaining to black bucks and one involving a road accident… his popularity remaining albeit intact. The reality was that with every hearing, his fan following actually swelled.

He has worked hard to shed his bad boy image, of course. He started the Being Human charity and used his star clout to promote several causes. He also turned painter, showcasing his artistic side and donating the money he earned from the sale of his paintings to good use.

He’s the most eligible bachelor even at 50 plus, enjoying a bevy of girlfriends but never committing to anyone of them. And of late, he has told the press to stop speculating on his marriage. Likewise, he joked with film critics saying that they could give minus stars as ratings to his films – but his films and he have become critic proof. Ironically, despite him saying this, the content of his films is getting better than what was served to us a decade ago. They are no longer just masala flicks filling us with a staple dose of a popcorn entertainment. Rather they cater to a cause. If Bajrangi Bhaijaan spoke about bettering Indo-Pak relations, his latest Tubelight espouses better Indo-China relations and the needlessness of war. Even Sultan was a critique on the grassroots athletes, who want their 15 seconds of fame in our cricket-obsessed nation.

One thing he hasn’t lost even after all these years is his boyish charm and his enthusiasm for movies. He still is wide-eyed about cinema and his one ambition is to provide his audience with a paisa vasool experience. And he doesn’t want to change the dynamics of who he is while achieving that. You won’t ever see him playing a villain or a character with a negative shade. He’ll always be the traditional hero, relying on evergreen tropes to get his point across. At a time when contemporaries and younger stars are struggling to retain a brand identity, Bhai knows that he only has to stand in a frame for the film to be a hit…

India wants a discount on Windows to reduce its cyberattack risk

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Donat Sorokin via Getty Images

In light of the recent WannaCry and “NotPetya” global ransomware attacks, India is looking to strike a deal with Microsoft that would reduce the cost of its Windows 10 operating system by more than 75 percent. The country’s cyber security coordinator, Gulshan Rai, told Reuters that the company has “in principle agreed.”

Around 96 percent of the computers used in India run on Windows, but because of the costs of software upgrades, many users stick with older versions or use pirated software that doesn’t receive security patches. This opens the country up to widespread damage with ransomware like WannaCry that take advantage of security weaknesses in older and non-updated Windows systems.

Rai began pushing for the discount after the WannaCry attack in May. His team also worked with banks to make sure that ATMs running on Windows software were upgraded with Microsoft’s security patch. That along with concerted efforts to switch to newer Microsoft software reduced NotPetya’s impact in the country this week.

With 57 million computers in India, the country could save billions of dollars in costs if Microsoft agrees to the steep discount. But the deal could also open Microsoft up to similar requests from other countries.

Rai says they’re expecting details from Microsoft about the price cut in a couple of days.

 

 

Toyota’s cute support robot completes its first US in-home test

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Toyota

Toyota’s been working on a few great projects aimed at helping people with limited mobility, and they’ve made a big announcement today. They have completed their first North American in-home trial of HSR, the Human Support Robot.

The company worked with Romulo Camargo, a veteran who sustained serious injuries in Afghanistan. He’s now paralyzed from the waist down. HSR’s mission was to make Camargo’s life easier and improve his quality of life; it helped him open doors and brought him water and snacks.

The HSR is lightweight and is equipped with a telescoping, articulated arm with a soft, flexible hand. It can receive inputs and commands through a GUI on your smartphone or tablet, as well as interpret voice commands. Its three basic modes can pick up (using a gripper for larger objects or an onboard vacuum for smaller, more difficult ones), fetch (utilizing its object recognition features), and hand over manual control (which allows the user to take control of the robot). Caregivers can also use the HSR for monitoring while on the same network. Toyota plans to expand this to offsite locations in the future.

When Camargo first opened the box containing his HSR, he said, “When they opened the box, and I saw the robot, I figured we would unfold the next chapter in human support robots helping people with disabilities – like this research is going to change the world.” It’s encouraging how far robotic technology has come in just a few years; putting HSRs in the homes of people with mobility issues will do a lot to improving their quality of life.