Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

Marvel's VFX Artists Are Suffering -- and Starting to Speak Out - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-08-05 08:00
A real secret war is taking place behind the scenes with overworked, underpaid and underappreciated visual effects artists.

NASA reportedly had contingency plans for Russia's ISS exit last year

Engadget - Fri, 2022-08-05 07:22

Yuri Borisov, the newly appointed chief of Roscosmos, recently announced that Russia is pulling out of the International Space Station after 2024. NASA and Russia's space agency work in tandem to keep the station running, and the latter's exit would change ISS operations tremendously. According to Reuters, though, NASA has actually been preparing for such a possibility way before Borisov made his announcement — and even before the invasion of Ukraine began — in light of the increasing tensions between Russia and the US.

Reuters' sources said NASA and the White House drew up contingency plans for the ISS late last year. Those plans include ways to pull astronauts out of the station if Russia leaves abruptly and ways to keep the ISS running without Russian hardware. While the US module keeps the station balanced and provides the electricity it needs to run using its solar arrays, Roscosmos' module has the thrusters needed to keep the flying lab in orbit. And that is why NASA's contingency plans also reportedly include examining ways to dispose of the station years earlier than planned. 

Apparently, NASA was working on creating a formal request for contractors to conjure up ways to deorbit the space station over the past few weeks. That said, the agency roped in private space companies into its contingency planning in hopes of keeping the ISS in orbit even without Russia. The sources said Boeing already formed a team of engineers to figure out how to control the ISS without Russia's thrusters. SpaceX chief Elon Musk also previously expressed interest in helping out when former Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin slammed Western sanctions against his country, asking who would "save the ISS from uncontrolled deorbiting" if the West blocks cooperation with Russia.

Back in June, Northrop Grumman was successfully able to adjust the station's orbit for future operations using its Cygnus capsule, which was then docked to the ISS. Reuters' sources said SpaceX is also looking into the possibility of using its spacecraft to boost the station's orbit. 

Borisov said Russia hasn't set a date for its exit yet, but that it would honor its obligations and will give partners a one-year notice before it leaves. Roscosmos and NASA will most likely continue working closely until Russia pulls out of the program — they even recently agreed to swap seats on Crew Dragon and Soyuz flights to the ISS.

The Morning After: What to expect from Samsung’s Unpacked event

Engadget - Fri, 2022-08-05 07:15

Are you ready for Samsung’s summer salvo of foldables, wearables and peripherals? Yes, it’s that time again, and the company’s Unpacked event is likely to share two foldable smartphones, a new Pro wearable and probably some new software tricks.

Judging by the leaks, it won’t be a major shakeup, but the new Galaxy Z Fold may borrow design cues from the S22 Ultra, ensuring a more contemporary look. The next-gen Galaxy Z Flip, the clamshell one, looks even more like its predecessor, so we’re waiting on confirmation on exactly what has changed. This is the series helping Samsung sell its foldable family to the world — hopefully, the company has ways to capitalize on this enthusiasm. And throw in a bigger battery.

Samsung looks set to reveal its Galaxy Watch 5 Pro next week, too. You might not get the knurled bezel of previous Samsung smartwatches, but the Pro would upgrade from a steel case to light-but-strong titanium. Samsung inadvertently hinted at the Pro name in its Health app, although it didn’t provide further clues.

Samsung Unpacked will stream on Wednesday, August 10th at 9 AM ET, and we’re reporting live on all the big reveals. We’ll probably have some minty fresh opinions on foldable phones, too.

— Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missedThe best Nintendo Switch games for 2022A guide for beginners, from A to Z trigger.

The Switch continues to approach the status of Nintendo’s best-selling “home console” ever — and seven Switch games have already outsold the Wii U console. It’s thanks to the Switch’s unique hybrid format and an ever-growing game library with uncharacteristically strong third-party support. However, the Switch's online store isn't the easiest to navigate, so this guide helps the uninitiated start their journey on the right foot, once again updated for 2022.

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Paramount+ hits 43 million subscribersIt's not just leaning on Star Trek. Well, not completely.

ViacomCBS has revealed that Paramount+ added 3.7 million subscribers in the second quarter, with more than 43 million total users. And that's after withdrawing from Russia. The company partly credited the surge of expansions to more countries, including the UK, Ireland and South Korea. These gains are good, but the overall Paramount+ subscriber count is still tiny compared to Netflix (220.7 million) and Amazon Prime Video (over 200 million).

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Something is making the Earth spin faster and days shorterA negative leap second may be needed to correct clocks.TMABuena Vista Images via Getty Images

Sure, it sounds like some bleak sci-fi premise, but it’s happening. According to scientists, midnight on June 29th arrived 1.59 milliseconds sooner than expected. It was the shortest day in over half a century. Scientists believe earthquakes, stronger winds in El Niño years, ice caps melting and refreezing, the Moon and the climate could all affect rotation speed. Some have suggested the Chandler wobble — a small deviation in the Earth’s point of rotation — may be having an effect, too.

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Microsoft is testing an Xbox Game Pass family planFolks in Ireland and Colombia can try it out now.

After months of rumors, Microsoft is starting to test an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate family plan in the wild. Xbox Insiders in Colombia and Ireland can try out the new offering that allows them to add up to four other people to their plan, as long as they're in the same country. Those folks will get access to all the benefits of Game Pass Ultimate, including a library of hundreds of titles for console, PC and cloud gaming. If you're in either country, you can buy the Xbox Game Pass — Insider Preview plan from the Microsoft Store, though enrolment is limited.

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Instagram is expanding NFT features to more than 100 countriesThe app started a public test of NFTs in feed posts, messages and Stories in May.

Once we’ve all collectively sighed, Instagram is doubling down on digital collectibles. After a test launch in May, the app is expanding its NFT features to more than 100 countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and the Americas. Instagram users can include NFTs in their feed and messages, as well as in augmented reality stickers in Stories. NFT creators and collectors are automatically tagged for attribution. You can't buy or sell NFTs on Instagram just yet, but the company has strongly hinted it's working on a marketplace. Perfect timing, Meta: The non-fungible token (NFT) market just fell off a cliff.

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Best SUVs Cheaper Than $35,000 for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-08-05 07:00
You can buy a great SUV for less than $35,000, and these are our favorites.

Best SUVs for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-08-05 07:00
Trust us: There's an SUV for everyone. These are our top picks.

NASA develops ingenious solution to fix its troubled ‘Lucy’ asteroid explorer

Engadget - Fri, 2022-08-05 06:03

Last year, NASA launched the Lucy spacecraft designed to explore the Trojan asteroids trapped near Jupiter's Lagrange points. However, a problem arose just 12 hours after launch — one of the large solar arrays designed to generate power from an increasingly distant Sun had failed to fully deploy and latch. Now, NASA has announced that a team was able to troubleshoot the problem sufficiently for the mission to continue — thanks to several clever tricks. 

Hours after the problem was first discovered, NASA pulled together an anomaly response team with members from the science mission lead Southwest Research Institute, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the spacecraft's builder, Northrop Grumman. 

Since there's no camera aimed at the solar arrays, the team had to figure out another way to find the problem. To that end, they fired the spacecraft's thrusters to measure any anomalous vibrations, and created a detailed model of the array's motor assembly to determine the array's rigidness. They finally figured out that a lanyard designed to pull the array open was probably snagged on its spool. 

The team quickly honed in on two potential solutions. One was simply to use the array as it was, because it was still generating 90 percent of expected power. The other was to attempt to pull the lanyard harder by using the back-up deployment motor as well as the primary motor, hopefully allowing it to wind further and engage the latching mechanism. 

Both motors were never designed to work at the same time, so the team modeled it to test out possible outcomes and potential ripple effects. After months of simulations, they decided to proceed with the two-motor option. They ran both the primary and backup solar deployment motors simultaneously seven times, and succeeded in further opening and tensioning the array. 

Unfortunately, it didn't close enough to latch, but it's now "under substantially more tension, making it stable enough for the spacecraft to operate as needed for mission operations," NASA said. It's now "ready and able" to complete its next deadline, getting a boost from Earth's gravity in October 2022. It's scheduled to arrive at its first asteroid target in 2025. 

Virgin Galactic postpones space tourism flights again

Engadget - Fri, 2022-08-05 04:45

Virgin Galactic has announced that its commercial space tourism service has been delayed yet again, from the end of this year until Q2 2023. During its earnings report, the company said that the delay is "due to the extended completion dates [i.e., delays] within the mothership enhancement program."

The mothership VMS Eve is a crucial part of its launch system, carrying the VSS Unity spacecraft to 50,000 feet before it launches to the edge of space. The enhancement program launched July 7th with the aim of improving flight frequency, along with "reliability, predictability and durability." 

At the same time it revealed the updates, Virgin Galactic announced that Boeing's Aurora Flight Sciences will design and manufacture its next-gen motherships, expected to enter service in 2025. The company is also working on a new spaceship, the VSS Imagine, set to make a debut test flight in Q1 2023. 

Virgin Galactic had already delayed its first paid flights from Q3 to Q4 2022 out of an "abundance of caution" due to a possible flight control system issue. The next flight was supposed to launch three Italian Air Force members to the edge of space, to study the effects of transitioning from regular Earth gravity to microgravity on both humans and the environment. Yesterday, the company reported a $111 million quarterly loss and plans a $300 million stock offering.

Elon Musk accuses Twitter of fraud for hiding real number of fake accounts

Engadget - Fri, 2022-08-05 03:32

Elon Musk is accusing Twitter of fraud for hiding the real number of bots on its platform, according to The New York Times. In the latest installment of the Twitter-vs-Musk saga, the Tesla chief's team claimed in a legal filing that 10 percent of the social network's daily active users who see ads are inauthentic accounts. If you'll recall, Twitter has long maintained that bots represent less than five percent of its userbase, and Musk put his planned acquisition of the social network on hold in mid-July to confirm if that's accurate. 

The Tesla and SpaceX chief, who's also a prolific Twitter user, launched an aggressive takeover of the social network in April after it became the company's largest shareholder. While Twitter quickly accepted his offer, they butted heads over the number of fake accounts on the platform shortly after that — he also accused the company of not giving him access to enough information to verify the number of bots on the website. Twitter gave him full access to its internal data in response, but in the end, Musk told the Securities and Exchange Commission that he wanted to terminate the acquisition over "false and misleading representations" made by the social network. 

Twitter sued its largest shareholder for trying to back out of its $44 billion buyout deal, telling the court that Musk is wrongfully breaking their agreement by doing so. The website accused him of backing out because Tesla's and Twitter's shares went down due to the economic downturn and the "deal he signed no longer serves his personal interests."

In this new filing, Musk's camp said its analysts found a much higher number of inauthentic accounts than Twitter claimed using Botometer. That's a machine learning algorithm designed by Indiana University that "checks the activity of Twitter accounts and gives them a score based on how likely they are to be bots." Musk's lawyers said the social network concealed its bot problem to get Musk to agree to buy the company "at an inflated price." They also said:

"Twitter was miscounting the number of false and spam accounts on its platform, as part of its scheme to mislead investors about the company’s prospects. Twitter’s disclosures have slowly unraveled, with Twitter frantically closing the gates on information in a desperate bid to prevent the Musk parties from uncovering its fraud."

Twitter fired back with its own legal filing, calling his claims "factually inaccurate, legally insufficient and commercially irrelevant." The company said the Botometer is unreliable and had once given Musk's own Twitter account a score indicating that it's "highly likely to be a bot." Twitter's lawsuit against Musk is heading to court in October.

'The Sandman' Review: Netflix's Dark Fantasy Is a Dream Come True - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-08-05 03:03
This long-awaited TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's iconic comic is a worthy translation.

Verizon Joins T-Mobile in Layoffs As Wireless Players Feel the Pressure - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-08-05 00:03
America's two largest wireless providers are the latest companies that have reduced staff.

Even Beyond the Disease, COVID Has Impacted Our Heart Health - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-04 23:00
Many Americans have experienced a heart-related issue since the pandemic started.

HBO Max and Discovery+ to combine into one streaming platform in 2023

Engadget - Thu, 2022-08-04 21:04

HBO Max as we know it will soon be no more. At its first earnings call since the two media properties merged earlier this year, Warner Bros. Discovery announced it is planning on combining HBOMax and Discovery+ into a single streaming service — set to debut in the summer of 2023. It's unclear whether the new streamer will reference HBO at all — the company’s head of global streaming JB Perrette said the company is still doing research on how consumers perceive the brand name.

The news arrives on the heels of the newly-merged company’s $3.42 billion net loss during the second quarter. “At the end of the day, putting all the content together was the only way we saw to make this a viable business,” Perrette told analysts.

Warner Bros. leadership is planning a significant shakeup of its streaming offerings and also needs to cut $3 billion in costs, which spawned rumors that a gutting of HBO Max is underway. Executives didn’t reveal the name of the new platform or any pricing details, but did disclose that it will include an ad-free and less costly ad-supported plan. It may also add a free, ad-supported tier to further expand its audience. 

No mention was made of layoffs at HBO Max at today’s earnings call — which The Wrap reported were imminent as the two streaming platforms are restructured. Engadget has reached out to HBO Max for comment, and will update if we hear back.

It’s unclear exactly how the merger will impact future content offerings at the newly unified streamer. The company abruptly announced this week that it was canceling two movies in development for HBO Max — Batgirl and Scoob!. Around the same time, the streamer announced it was canceling the show The Gordita Chronicles and putting an end to live-action kids and family programming altogether. A number of shows and movies have disappeared from HBO Max in recent weeks, including Moonshot, The Witches and An American Pickle, and more are reportedly to follow.

One thing is certain: We’ll see far fewer blockbuster films premiere on the new streamer, as was customary during the pandemic. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said releasing films in movie theaters simply generated higher profits. “That’s why most people got in this business — to be on the big screen when the lights went out,” Mr. Zaslav said. “That is the magic, and the economic model is much stronger.”

Google Adds Bolded Results to Quoted Searches - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-04 19:47
Putting search terms in double quotes will be more visible in Search.

Over 700 UK Amazon workers walk out over pay issues

Engadget - Thu, 2022-08-04 19:02

More than 700 warehouse workers at an Amazon warehouse in England walked out this week in a dispute over a pay increase, reportedReuters. Amazon did not agree to the hourly rate increase of £2 (or $2.44) requested by the trade union representing the employees, instead offering a raise of 34 pence. GMB, the trade union representing the employees at the Tillbury facility (a suburb of Essex in Eastern England), said workers walked out on both Wednesday and Thursday.

“Amazon is one of the most profitable companies on the planet," Steve Garelick, a regional organizer for GMB, toldABC. “With household costs spiraling, the least they can do is offer decent pay.”

Garelick posted video footage of the protesting Tillbury workers, who began their walkout shortly after Amazon delivered the news that it would not meet the union’s demands. Management reportedly "withdrew catering" at the facility, and told workers that they would be terminated if they left the premises.

16.00 at Amazon Tilbury Essex today pic.twitter.com/bKWnv7BUow

— Steve Garelick (@steve_garelick) August 4, 2022

GMB began campaigning for higher pay and better health standards for Amazon warehouse workers in the UK in 2013, even calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the company’s labor practices. Amazon doesn’t recognize the GMB union at Tillbury or any of its other warehouses across the UK.

Dozens of Amazon workers at another UK warehouse — in Rugeley — also walked out yesterday due to a payment dispute. “Amazon Rugeley announced a 50p wage increase citing the local/Rugeley pay rate average. The news didn’t sit well with the associates and more than 100 people walked out in the canteen as a protest, which affected a lot of customer shipments,” an anonymous worker toldThe Birmingham Mail.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 DLC Guide: Expansion Pass Price, New Content and More - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-04 19:00
Here's everything you need to know about Xenoblade Chronicles 3's DLC pass.

Twitter says Elon Musk's claims are 'factually inaccurate' - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-04 18:20
The social media company shares its response to allegations Musk made in a countersuit.

Clubhouse Will Let You Create Your Own Curated House - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-04 18:18
The beta is available, but you'll need to fill out the sign-up form to get access to it and have your "house" approved.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4: Apparent Leak Suggests Price Hike - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-04 18:00
Widespread foldable adoption will be difficult at high prices.

AT&T Set to Bring HBO Max Back to Wireless Plans - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-04 17:57
When, however, is still not clear.

The 'Barbie' Movie Starring Margot Robbie: What to Know - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2022-08-04 17:48
Lace up your skates and let's get into it.

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