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3Aug/200

Classic ‘Halo’ games will get crossplay and custom game browsing in 2020

The Halo games in the Master Chief Collection should soon get many of the features you’re used to with modern shooters. The 343 Industries team has provided (via Eurogamer) an MCC “snapshot” indicating that several welcome additions are coming to the classic titles in 2020, most notably crossplay. Ideally, Xbox and Windows players won’t be fenced off for much longer. Developers are appropriately planning mouse and keyboard support for Xbox players to help them stay competitive.

Crossplay should launch alongside input-based matchmaking and server region options. Another update will bring a custom game browser, per-game graphics options and the previously mentioned Xbox mouse and keyboard support. Per-game audio settings, PC file sharing and Steam account linking are also in the works for this year.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/halo-master-chief-collection-crossplay-2020-212636400.html

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3Aug/200

A $13,000 electric car will go on sale in the US by late 2020

You’ll soon have the opportunity to buy a brand new electric car under $15,000 in the US — if you’re willing to make a few sacrifices. TechCrunch reports that Chinese automaker Kandi plans to launch two low-priced EVs in the US by the end of 2020, headlined by the tiny K27 (shown above). The subcompact will sell for $20,499, or $12,999 after the $7,500 federal tax credit. That should make it the most affordable electric car in the US, not to mention make it alluring compared to entry-level gas cars.

It’ll launch alongside the K23, a slightly larger vehicle that should cost $29,999 before credit, and $22,499 after.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/kandi-13000-electric-car-in-us-231508129.html

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3Aug/200

Microsoft says it’s aiming to close TikTok deal by September 15th

If Microsoft can successfully negotiate a deal with ByteDance, the company says it will add “world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections” to the TikTok experience. And to be absolutely clear, there’s a chance these discussions may fall apart. That’s true for any high-profile acquisition, but this deal is particularly strange since it seems to be coming at the behest of a President who has talked of banning TikTok.

Still, Microsoft could add some stability to the mobile app in the US, where ByteDance has been criticized for having nebulous ties to the Chinese government. TikTok has vigorously pushed back against implications that it was under the thumb of China, and said that it would refuse any user data requests from the country. The acquisition could also be good news for Facebook, which is planning to release its own TikTok competitor soon.

Microsoft also says it’s aiming to “ensure transparency” with TikTok users while also maintaining “appropriate security oversight” by the governments where it’s operating the service. It’s unclear what the latter could amount to. Microsoft also claims it’ll keep private data from American TikTok users within the country, as well as make sure that their existing data outside of the US is deleted.

The company doesn’t plan to issue any additional updates until the TikTok deal is settled (or falls apart).

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-tiktok-acquisition-september-trump-001655945.html

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3Aug/200

Computer mouse co-inventor William English dies at 91

One of the pioneers of the modern computer interface has passed away: the New York Times reports that William “Bill” English died on July 26th from respiratory failure at the age of 91. Alongside Douglas Englebart at the Stanford Research Institute, English helped develop the first computer mouse and put together a 1968 “Mother of All Demos” that outlined many concepts that would come to PCs over the decades, such as graphical user interfaces, online text editing, video calls and hypertext links.

While Englebart was considered the visionary, English was one of the only people who truly grasped the ideas and had the talent to bring them to fruition. He built the mouse after Englebart drew a sketch of it, for example. While Englebart was demonstrating the concepts at that 1968 event, English was orchestrating things behind the scenes.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/william-english-mouse-co-inventor-dies-015803792.html

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3Aug/200

Apple TV’s Ted Lasso turns a viral video into a pretty good sitcom

The clip was popular on YouTube, racking up 14 million views, and NBC Sports brought back Lasso, played by Jason Sudekis, for a follow-up a year later. Then, half a decade later, Apple paid for a 10-episode first series created by Sudekis, Brendan Hunt, writer Joe Kelly and sitcom super-producer Bill Lawrence — the figure behind Scrubs, Spin City and Cougar Town

The series keeps the basic premise, but builds out a lot of the details, with Lasso now a college football coach parachuted in to revive the struggling Richmond FC. The club’s new owner is the former owner’s ex-wife (played by Hannah Waddingham, best known as Game of Thrones’ shame nun), who won the business in the divorce settlement. And her decision to recruit a know-nothing coach from the US is more deliberate than it seems. 

In the first three episodes, which Apple made available for preview, Lasso finds himself thrust in front of the press and then into the league season proper. The club is struggling in the middle of the table with a demoralized, fractious team that does not respect Lasso’s lack of knowledge. Add in a hostile press and behind-the-scenes drama and there’s a lot for Lasso to sort out. 

Thankfully the show is funny, with plenty of zingy, laugh-out-loud one-liners that increase as the show picks up momentum. Many of the best lines from the pilot are cribbed straight from the first NBC trailer, and I did wonder if the gags would stop soon after. Thankfully, as soon as the show broadens its focus out to the wider world, and onto the club’s roster of oddballs, it gets funnier.

At the start of 2019, there was a rumor claiming that Apple’s leadership was dissatisfied by the content of the shows it was buying. Anonymous insiders claimed that CEO Tim Cook kept saying that shows couldn’t be “so mean” as part of a push for family-friendly fare. Certainly, Ted Lasso exists as a very loud repudiation of any suggestion that Apple was playing it safe.

The majority of the cast are English and display the sort of profanity-laden dialogue that is taken for granted over here. It’s also pretty mean, with much of the crew openly hostile toward Lasso and toward each other. Richmond’s a leafy London suburb full of one-percenters, but even its children aren’t averse to calling Lasso a wanker whenever they see him, at least at first.

That is, perhaps, the one issue I can see with Lasso: The tone is all over the place, with Sudekis playing Lasso as a magical savant and coasting off the full force of his midwestern charm. Everyone else, meanwhile, is uttering oaths and backstabbing each other as they vie for domination in the cutthroat world of football. Imagine if you dumped JD from Scrubs, complete with his “I learned something today” commentary into Seinfeld or Always Sunny, you know?

The list of commercials and viral videos that enjoyed a successful second life isn’t a long one, especially if you discount the Ernest franchise. In the internet-viral era, there’s been, uh Cavemen (pulled mid-season) and Baby Bob (its second season burned off by CBS in the summer). In fact, Apple TV+’s commission of Ted Lasso makes is the most successful ad-to-sitcom translation almost by default. And if it gets a second season, then you can pretty much say that it’s the standard bearer for all other shows in its genre.

There is one other issue that probably needs calling out, and it’s Apple’s policy toward product placement. Now, when Apple announced it would start making TV shows, I did wonder if every show would exist in a magical world where Samsung had stuck to selling fish. That would have strained credibility in the (co-produced by Ubisoft) Mythic Quest, since game developers are far more wedded to PCs. And, thankfully, the show did actually use (PC rival) Razer machines instead of MacBook Pros.

Ted Lasso did not dodge this bullet, and everyone in the show’s fictional world has an affinity for brand new iMacs. Everyone’s toting around a new, pristine iPhone 11 and every pair of headphones has Beats’ signature “b” on the side. Oh, and someone uses Siri to dial a call, because that’s a thing we all do, right? I get it, but also much like how Sony got too hot-and-heavy with the placement in Casino Royale, you really notice how Apple everything is.

Beyond that, however, I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the series when it debuts on August 13th. If you’re worried that it’s going to be too soccerball-focused, you needn’t, it’s fairly light on any barriers to viewing, and when they talk, they mostly use US-friendly terms anyway. 

Random Observations:

  • When a journalist in the press conference announced they worked for The Sun, the rest of the room quietly boo-ed. The Rupert Murdoch-owned paper slandered the victims of the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989 in which 96 people lost their lives. To this day, the paper is treated with wariness in some football circles and the city of Liverpool has maintained a 30-year boycott of the paper. It’s certainly not the sort of thing you’d expect a hat-tip to by a primarily-American TV show, but it’s welcome. 

  • The show has tried hard to hide which real Premier League stadium plays host to Richmond FC. Most football fans will be able to spot that it’s Selhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace, the team Richmond plays in the second episode. 

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/ted-lasso-preview-apple-tv-070012533.html

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3Aug/200

Google’s latest Chrome extension shows detailed ad-tracking data

Google notes that this early version only shows information about Google-served ads that have implemented Google’s “Ad Disclosure Schema,” and not other third-party ads. That schema is desiggned to help all of its advertisers disclose how they’re using your personal information, according to Google’s Github page. ”Over time, we hope the [rest of] the industry will incorporate the Ad Disclosure Schema into their ads,” Google said.

On top of showing ad information, the extension shows “all companies and services with a presence on the page,” including content delivery networks or analytics providers. It provides a link to each company’s privacy policy, showing how each collects and stores user data. Note that the extension may work differently in regions outside the US — several of us in Europe could see the advertisers and number of ads, but not any personal tracking info.

The extension is part of a push by Google to increase ad transparency and perhaps stave off further privacy-oriented legislation like the EU’s GDPR laws. At the same time, Google is trying to replace the current wild west ad system by gradually phasing out third-party cookies and introducing new ad-blocking tech that filters misbehaving ads while letting good ones through. At the same time, it introduced a suite changes to Chrome that would stop ad-blockers from working effectively, in order to help sites that rely on advertising.

The new extension is helpful, but others like Ghostery offer more detailed information about trackers, ads and other info, while giving you the ability to block them as well. Another option is the Brave browser, which also displays and blocks tracker information, while giving you access to more private browsing options.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/googles-latest-chrome-extension-shows-detailed-adtracking-data-083048961.html

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2Aug/200

Chrome test could discourage websites from abusing push notifications

Google is continuing its war against annoying website notifications. TheWindowsClub has discovered that Google will test a feature that sets an expiration time for notification subscriptions. You’d have to enable the test, but it would let you decide just when those alerts stop. A site couldn’t annoy you indefinitely, or misuse notifications to push ads and other content long after you thought notifications were finished.

The default is currently set to 90 days, but it won’t necessarily stay that way.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/chrome-test-limits-notifications-130343498.html

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2Aug/200

Facebook blocks Brazil president’s allies after court order

Facebook has been eager to fight misinformation on its platform, but it’s concerned Brazil might have taken things a step too far. BBC News reports that Facebook has blocked the accounts of a dozen allies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro after the country’s Supreme Court ordered them blocked worldwide in May. The group, which includes business mogul Luciano Hang and political party leader Roberto Jefferson, was accused of spreading fake news about judges.

The social network also paid a fine of 1.92 million reais (about $368,000) for initially refusing to obey the order, and faced additional penalties of 100,000 reais (slightly over $19,000) per day. In a statement, it said it objected as the order hurt free expression and conflicted with “laws and jurisdictions worldwide.” Facebook only gave in after an employee in Brazil faced the “threat of criminal liability,” according to the statement.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/facebook-blocks-brazil-president-bolsonaro-allies-155603895.html

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2Aug/200

Tesla is reportedly close to making a more affordable Model Y

Musk axed the Standard Range RWD version of the Model Y earlier in July after claiming its range would be too low. This could be the lowest-priced variant you can buy, then.

It’s not certain how much this model could cost. Musk alluded to a $45,000 price when he revealed the new version, but the company’s loan calculator recently suggested it could cost $48,000. There’s also Tesla’s relatively frequent price changes to consider.

If the company does roll out the new version soon, though, it could significantly lift the company’s fortunes. The Model 3 remains Tesla’s main attraction in no small part due to its more accessible pricing. An RWD model could put the Model Y within reach of entry-luxury buyers who can’t justify the current versions but still want an EV more spacious than the Model 3.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/tesla-model-y-rwd-long-range-trial-production-171230906.html

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2Aug/200

After math: Big Tech gets bigger while AMC’s release window gets shorter

Trolls: World Tour isn’t the sort of film that one would expect to cause controversy but at the start of the COVID pandemic, AMC and Universal got themselves into a knock down drag out fight over the family film — specifically whether or not it could be released on VOD before its window of theatrical exclusivity closed. Fast forward to last week and the two companies have finally settled their differences. From here on out films will only have to stay in theaters for three consecutive weekends (aka 17 days) before being released on VOD, down from the full 90 days demanded pre-pandemic.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has kneecapped the global economy, it has proven exceptionally lucrative for Amazon. Last week, the e-commerce giant announced that it had doubled its quarterly profits over last year, jumping from $2.6 billion in sales to a whopping $5.2 billion. Apple did pretty well for themselves too.

A whole bunch of EVgo chargers are coming to a parking lot near you in the next five years. The company announced this week that it is partnering with GM to effectively triple the number of charging stations it offers — jumping from a mere 800 locations today up to 3,500 by 2025.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/after-math-big-tech-gets-bigger-while-amcs-release-window-gets-shorter-183025850.html

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