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The Nest Thermostat is only $90 as part of Google's Black Friday deals

Engadget - Tue, 2022-11-22 13:00

Google's Nest Thermostat is on sale for just $90 for Black Friday, with a tidy $40 discount. That's among the lowest prices we've seen, and close to the lowest it has gone for so far. Like most smart home devices, the Nest Thermostat grants control via smartphone, tablet, laptop or even a smart display like Amazon's Echo Show or Google's Nest Hub (both of which are seeing significant Black Friday deals). 

Since it's programmable and capable of knowing when you're home, the thermostat can save energy by not overly heating or cooling an empty house. Google designed it to be easy to install, and most people can do it themselves. Google says 85 percent of systems are compatible, but before you pick one up, you might want to check your HVAC compatibility on Google's site.  

In addition to remote access and programmability, the Next Thermostat has a Savings Finder option within the Nest app that can suggest tweaks to your heating and cooling schedule to save energy. In some cases, owning a Nest can entitle you to rebates from your utility provider.  

The sale extends to some of Google's other smart home devices as well. If you're looking to expand your smart home ecosystem with Nest cameras or doorbells, this might be the time to dive in. The Nest Security Cam Wired is 30 percent off its usual $100 price tag, bringing it down to $70 for Black Friday. 

As the name suggests, this is the wired version of the smart camera, intended for indoor use. Its smart detection features can tell the difference between your pets wandering around and human visitors. It also lets you see, hear and talk to whomever's in the room and sends alerts and 1080p HDR video to your phone or other devices using the Google Home app. You get three hours of video history without a subscription, or with a $6-per-month subscription, the Nest cam offers 60 days of video history.   

Buy Nest Security Cam Wired at Amazon - $70

Bring a video doorbell into the mix to keep track of packages and people showing up at your door with the Nest Doorbell Battery. It's down to an all-time low of $120, with a $60 discount. The doorbell installs using your existing doorbell wiring to continuously power the device, or it can run on the built-in rechargeable battery. Like the Nest camera, the Google Home app sends alerts and video feed from the doorbell to your phone, laptop or smart display. You can see, hear and talk to anyone who shows up, and you can even program the option of using pre-recorded messages to tell visitors you'll be right there or let delivery people know where to leave your package. 

Buy Nest Doorbell Battery at Amazon - $120

Other versions of the cameras and doorbells are also on sale at Amazon right now. If you'd rather shop direct, the Google Store has Black Friday deals on even more Nest smart home devices. 

Shop the Google Nest Black Friday sale at Amazon

Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribing to the Engadget Deals newsletter.

'Avatar 2' Is So Expensive It Must Become the 'Fourth or Fifth Highest-Grossing Film in History' Just To Break Even

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-11-22 13:00
How expensive is "Avatar: The Way of Water"? Early reports have claimed the production budget alone was in the $250 million range, but director James Cameron isn't willing to give a hard number just yet. The only answer Cameron would give about the sequel's budget when asked by GQ magazine was the following: "Very fucking [expensive]." From a report: Cameron apparently told Disney and 20th Century Studios executives that his sequel budget was so high it represented "the worst business case in movie history." According to the director's estimates, "you have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That's your threshold. That's your break even." On the current chart of highest-grossing movies worldwide (unadjusted for inflation), Cameron's original 2009 "Avatar" ranks at the top with $2.9 billion. Disney's "Avengers: Endgame" is in second position with $2.7 million, while Cameron's "Titanic" remains in the third slot with $2.1 billion. That means, according to Cameron, that if "Avatar: The Way of Water" wants to break even, it'll need to overtake either âoeStar Wars: The Force Awakens" ($2.07 billion) or "Avengers: Infinity War" ($2.05 billion) in the fourth or fifth slots, respectively.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

2023 Honda Pilot Starts Around $40,000 - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-11-22 12:58
All-wheel drive is a $2,100 option on every trim where it isn't offered as standard equipment.

2024 Kia Seltos Sharpens Up Its Looks - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-11-22 12:34
The refreshed Seltos offers a new trim, more power for its turbocharged inline-4 and some new cabin tech.

EA's return to college football games will arrive in summer 2024

Engadget - Tue, 2022-11-22 12:25

A year after it was first announced, EA’s return to college football has a release window. In an interview with ESPN, Daryl Holt, the vice president and general manager of the company’s EA Sports division, said the publisher plans to release the game in the summer of 2024. If another year-and-a-half of development sounds like a lot for what will become an annual release for EA, it’s because the company says it wants to create a title fans will want to play.

"That's the best date for us to bring the game that we think is going to meet or exceed our player expectations," Holt told ESPN. "And cover the breadth and scale of what we want in the game. We're trying to build a very immersive college football experience."

Besides announcing a release window, Holt shared some details about what the final game will look like. He said the title would feature at least 120 schools, all 10 FBS conferences and the College Football Playoff. He added that EA was working on finding a way to include real-life student-athletes in the game. “Our intent is to work towards that and find a meaningful way to include them in the game,” he said. An EA source told ESPN athletes would be compensated if they end up in the game. The final product will also feature Dynasty and Road to Glory modes – the latter allowing you to create your own player and take them through the college football process.

2024 is a long time to wait for a new college football entry, but after nearly a decade since the release of NCAA Football 14, most fans are probably happy to wait if it means EA delivers a polished game. Holt promised EA Sports would share more information about the title ahead of release.

France Says No To Office 365 and Google Workspace in School

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-11-22 12:21
The French minister of national education and youth has said that free versions of Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workplace should not be used in schools -- a position that reflects ongoing European concerns about cloud data sovereignty, competition, and privacy rules. From a report: In August, Philippe Latombe, a member of the French National Assembly, advised Pap Ndiaye, the minister of national education, that the free version of Microsoft Office 365, while appealing, amounts to a form of illegal dumping. He asked the education minister what he intends to do, given the data sovereignty issues involved with storing personal data in an American cloud service. Last week, the Ministry of National Education published a written reply to confirm that French public procurement contracts require "consideration" -- payment. "Free service offers are therefore, in principle, excluded from the scope of public procurement," the Ministry statement says, and minister Ndiaye has reportedly confirmed this position. This applies to other free offerings like Google Workspace for Education. Paid versions of these cloud services might be an option if they hadn't already been disallowed based on worries about data safety.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Save Between 25% and 60% During Stanley's Black Friday Sale - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-11-22 12:16
Grab drinkware, food storage and camping essentials and more to put a little adventure under the tree for the travelers in your life.

Logitech mice, keyboards and accessories are up to 67 percent off for Black Friday

Engadget - Tue, 2022-11-22 12:00

If you’re looking for an affordable gift to help your friend or loved one be more productive over the next year, Logitech’s mice and keyboards are never a bad starting point. With Black Friday around the corner, Amazon has discounted a selection of the company’s products. One of the highlights of the sale is the Signature M650. Engadget recommended the M650 in our recent holiday gift guide. After a 25 percent discount, the mouse is $30. The M650’s customization makes it a great stocking stuffer. Logitech offers the mouse in six colors, two different sizes and both right- and left-handed configurations, meaning you should have no problem finding one that will work for a friend or family member.

Buy Logitech Signature M650 at Amazon - $30

Another interesting option is the MX Anywhere 2S. At the moment, it’s $40, down from $60. The seven-button MX Anywhere 2S is notable for featuring support for Logitech’s Flow app. The software makes it possible to use the mouse with up to three computers at the same time. That’s useful if you use PCs with different operating systems installed on them since the Flow app allows you to easily move files, as well as copy and paste text and images. Even if that functionality doesn’t appeal to you, the MX Anywhere 2S has other things going for it, including a comfortable design and battery that can power the mouse for up to 70 hours.

Buy Logitech MX Anywhere 2S at Amazon - $40

The sale also includes Logitech’s multi-device keyboards. With Amazon’s promotion, you can get the K780 for $60 after a modest $5 discount, while the more affordable K480 is $30 after a $20 price cut. Like the MX Anywhere 2S, the K780 and K480 are useful if you want a peripheral that will work with more than one device. You can pair both keyboards with up to three devices and they feature handy slots for holding your phone or a small tablet in place. Of the two keyboards, the K780 is the more premium model and comes with a full set of numeric keys.

Buy Logitech K780 at Amazon - $60Buy Logitech K480 at Amazon - $30

Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribing to the Engadget Deals newsletter.

Victrola's Stream Carbon turntable works seamlessly with Sonos, at a price

Engadget - Tue, 2022-11-22 12:00

I am one of those obnoxious people who loves technology, but also occasionally listens to music on large slabs of vinyl. As such, I’m probably the target audience for Victrola’s Stream Carbon turntable. The $800 record player boasts some lovely industrial design and has the expected RCA jacks for connecting to standard speakers – but it can also wirelessly link up and stream music to any Sonos speakers in your house. It’s an unconventional marriage of analog and digital, but one that had me intrigued. And after spending some quality time with the Stream Carbon, I can say it sounds great and works as advertised, though it does feel a tad extravagant – especially at this price.

Visually, I found the Stream Carbon to be pretty striking, mixing mid-century modern minimalism with more recent flourishes. It’s certainly much lighter and less of an imposing presence than my Audio Technica AT-LP120 turntable (which itself closely resembles the classic Technics SL-1200). There’s a large, tactile knob on the front, which adjusts volume for your entire Sonos system. On the top, there’s not much to see besides the platter, a minimally adjustable tonearm, and a 33/45 RPM selector switch. (78 RPM is not an option.) Around back is a power port, Ethernet jack and RCA plugs for using the turntable with non-Sonos speakers.

Victrola Stream Carbon Sonos-compatible turntable

My only complaint about the Stream Carbon’s design is its somewhat wonky dust cover, an unremarkable piece of plastic that covers the platter and tonearm. It’s not connected to the turntable in any way, and I often found myself wondering what to do with it when I was actually playing records. Not a huge deal, but worth knowing about ahead of time.

Victrola Stream Carbon Sonos-compatible turntableNathan Ingraham / Engadget

Setup was quite simple. The tonearm counterweight has two marks on it, each of which corresponds to the cartridge the Stream Carbon includes; my review unit came with the Ortofon Red 2M. Then it’s just a matter of putting the belt into place and dropping the platter and mat over the top. If I were using standard speakers, I’d just plug them in, but the whole point of testing the Stream Carbon was to get it hooked up to my Sonos network. Fortunately, that too was easy.

After installing the Victrola Stream app on my iPhone, it was just a matter of tapping “add a turntable” and adding it to my WiFi network. You then need to tell the turntable which Sonos speaker or group to use by default; I had set up two Play:1 speakers next to the turntable for this test. At that point, I didn’t need to do anything else in the Victrola app as everything playback related went through my Sonos system.

Victrola Stream Carbon Sonos-compatible turntableNathan Ingraham / Engadget

I kicked things off with my bright pink Carly Rae Jespen EMOTION record; moving the tonearm automatically started the record spinning, and after a short delay the tunes started coming through my Sonos speakers. From there, I could use the Sonos app to bounce that music anywhere I wanted in my house. I have speakers on each floor of my home and could play all of them at once, or just a single set. It felt pretty weird and rather indulgent to put on a record on the first floor and listen to it up in my third-floor office, but it is definitely something I tried. Putting aside that somewhat odd use case, though, the Stream Carbon reliably worked with any and all Sonos products I have in my house – that includes a pair of older Play:1s, some gen-2 One speakers and the first-gen Beam soundbar.

After getting set up, I realized there was no real need to have a pair of speakers located directly next to the Stream Carbon. That should have been immediately obvious when I started setting things up, but it felt a little weird to have music automatically start playing on the Beam below my TV (the only other Sonos speaker in my living room). But there’s definitely something freeing about being able to place the Stream Carbon anywhere you want without having to worry about the physical proximity of the speakers you’re using. It didn’t make sense to put the turntable anywhere else in my living room, but I’d definitely consider a less traditional placement if I was building my setup from scratch.

Victrola Stream Carbon Sonos-compatible turntableNathan Ingraham / Engadget

As for audio quality, that depends on your speakers and the condition of your records. When playing my newer vinyl, though, the Stream Carbon sounded great. I jumped between the sparse acoustic tones of Gustavo Santaolalla’s score for The Last of Us Part II and Howard Shores majestic orchestral compositions for the Lord of the Rings films to pop tunes like the aforementioned Carly Rae Jepsen record and a greatest hits compilation from Canadian electro-rock outfit Metric.

I’m no audiophile, but I was consistently impressed with the detailed soundscapes I heard with the combo of my Sonos speakers and the Stream Carbon. Noise from the records themselves was also minimal – my older albums like an original pressing of Metallica’s Master of Puppets and a late ‘70s copy of Pink Floyd’s Animals didn’t sound nearly as pristine, but the crackles and other sounds you hear from well-kept records were barely noticeable.

Victrola Stream Carbon Sonos-compatible turntableNathan Ingraham / Engadget

One of the more unusual things about sound quality I noticed while using the Stream Carbon was that the Sonos Trueplay speaker tuning applies to record playback. If you haven’t used it before, Trueplay uses the microphone on an iPhone or iPad to listen to how a Sonos speaker sounds and adjust the audio to optimize it for the speaker’s placement in a room. Once you do this, the setting applies to anything being played through the speaker, whether it’s streaming audio through the Sonos app, audio from a connected TV or the Stream Carbon turntable.

While I almost always use Trueplay on my Sonos speakers, having it turned on while using the turntable felt like it further abstracted the concept of “listening to a record.” I was already turning the analog audio into ones and zeros by streaming it to the Sonos, and now I was applying a layer of digital enhancement to that music. At this point, I might as well have just streamed an album directly from Spotify or Apple Music to my speakers.

Victrola Stream Carbon Sonos-compatible turntable

This gets at the heart of the questions I have about the Stream Carbon. Anyone who’s willing to spend $800 on a turntable is probably pretty serious about playing their record collection, and chances are they already have good speakers dedicated to that pursuit. That said, the Stream Carbon’s RCA outputs can easily be connected to traditional speakers, and the Sonos connectivity could just be a nice-to-have feature that you only occasionally use. But the market for people like that seems pretty small.

The Stream Carbon could also make sense for someone who already has Sonos speakers but wants to get into collecting records. But again, $800 for a turntable is a lot of money when you’re just getting started with a hobby. Then there’s someone like me, who has a bunch of Sonos speakers and a decent stack of records. My turntable and speakers are fine, but nothing to write home about; the combo of the Stream Carbon and my Sonos speakers was definitely an upgrade. But, would I spend $800 of my own money on it? Probably not. Instead, I would probably spend half that and pick up some speakers like the Audioengine A5+ or any number of other quality bookshelf speakers out there and get a comparable audio upgrade.

Even so, there’s a lot to like about Victrola’s Stream Carbon. It’s well-built, easy to set up and sounds great. And for Sonos fans, this is probably the easiest way to play records through the company’s speakers. It’s certainly a better option than shelling out $700 for the Sonos Amp, a component that you can attach to passive speakers to essentially turn them into Sonos-compatible speakers. But the Stream Carbon’s high price means that it’ll remain a niche product that could have a hard time attracting much of an audience – even among people like me, who still love playing records even in a world where listening to digital music is far easier.

Golf is coming to 'Nintendo Switch Sports' on November 28th

Engadget - Tue, 2022-11-22 11:50

Nintendo Switch Sports is a fun package that modernizes the world-conquering Wii Sports, but it was missing a few of the 2006 classic's game modes at the jump. One of those will arrive very soon as a November 28th update will add golf to the game.

You'll have access to 21 holes from the Wii Sports series. Along with casual modes that you can enjoy with family and friends, you can check out a survival golf mode. Nintendo hasn't revealed too many details about the latter yet, other than the fact you'll need to "swing to avoid elimination." It may be similar to the 16-player bowling survival mode. 

No matter which modes you try, be sure to strap the Joy-Con to your wrist before you start swinging your hand around. You won't want the controller to fly out of your hand and smash your TV or monitor.

Nintendo previously said golf would be available in Switch Sports this fall, so it's showing up right on schedule. The company hasn't confirmed whether the likes of boxing or baseball are on the way, but fingers crossed that Nintendo will add those as surprise updates at some point down the line.

Get ready to grab that iron & step up to the tee!

The #NintendoSwitchSports Golf update will arrive on 11/28, and will include a total of 21 holes from the Wii Sports series. Swing to avoid elimination in Survival Golf, or enjoy some casual competition with friends and family! pic.twitter.com/yzhn7NQBUv

— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) November 22, 2022

UK Confirms Antitrust Probe Into Android-iOS 'Mobile Duopoly'

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-11-22 11:40
The UK's antitrust watchdog has moved to deepen its scrutiny of the Apple and Google mobile duopoly -- kicking off an in-depth investigation into elements of the pair's mobile ecosystem dominance by probing their approach toward rival mobile browsers and cloud gaming services which it's concerned could be restricting competition and harming consumers. From a report: The move follows a market study conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year that led to a final report this summer which concluded there are substantial competition concerns -- with the regulator finding the tech giants have what it described as "an effective duopoly on mobile ecosystems that allows them to exercise a stranglehold over operating systems, app stores and web browsers on mobile devices." At the same time, the CMA proposed to undertake what's known as a market investigation reference (MIR) with two points of focus: One looking at Apple's and Google's market power in mobile browsers; and another probing Apple's restrictions on cloud gaming through its App Store. That proposal for an MIR kicked off a standard consultation process, with the regulator seeking feedback on the scope of its proposed probe, and today it's confirmed the decision to make a market investigation -- opening what's referred to as a 'Phase 2' (in-depth) investigation which could take up to 18 months to complete. The probe will focus on the supply of mobile browsers and browser engines; and the distribution of cloud gaming services through app stores on mobile devices, the CMA said today.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Watch France vs. Australia at World Cup 2022 From Anywhere - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-11-22 11:30
One of the favorites, France, kicks off their World Cup campaign against Australia. Here's how to watch.

EU confirms multiple ongoing investigations into TikTok data practices

Engadget - Tue, 2022-11-22 11:15

The president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has confirmed there are multiple ongoing investigations into TikTok. The probes concern the transfer of EU citizens' data to China and targeted advertising aimed at minors. Investigators are seeking to ensure that TikTok meets General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.

“The data practices of TikTok, including with respect to international data transfers, are the object of several ongoing proceedings,” Ursula von der Leyden wrote in a letter shared by Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr. “This includes an investigation by the Irish [Data Protection Commission] about TikTok’s compliance with several GDPR requirements, including as regards data transfers to China and the processing of data of minors, and litigation before the Dutch courts (in particular concerning targeted advertising regarding minors and data transfers to China)."

NEW: The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, confirms that #TikTok’s data transfers are under investigation & object of several ongoing proceedings.

This comes after concerns raised by Members of the European Parliament about data access from inside China https://t.co/aWlVl6hnXJpic.twitter.com/dhOCojKKOW

— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) November 22, 2022

Von der Leyden was responding to concerns raised by members of the European Parliament regarding Chinese public authorities potentially gaining access to EU citizens' TikTok data, following a report by BuzzFeed News. The app's data practices have been under the EU's spotlight for a while. Earlier this year, TikTok agreed to enforce certain policies concerning ads and branded content following a complaint that accused the app of breaching EU consumer rules.

Of course, TikTok has been in hot water on the other side of the Atlantic over its privacy and security practices. Last month, TikTok denied reports that China-based workers for its parent company ByteDance planned to track the location of some US citizens through the app.

TikTok has been moving the data it holds on US users to Oracle data centers in the country in an attempt to placate officials who have been concerned about China potentially using the app against American citizens. In August, it emerged that Oracle was reviewing TikTok's content moderation systems and algorithms to make sure they're not subject to Chinese interference.

Carr, the FCC's senior Republican commissioner, said this month that TikTok should be banned in the US. He previously urged Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores.

Ooni's pizza ovens are 20 percent off for Black Friday

Engadget - Tue, 2022-11-22 11:00

Serious home pizza chefs who are looking to up their game may want to consider Ooni's offerings. The pizza oven company is running a sitewide Black Friday sale with 20 percent off all its products. At the lower end, the Ooni Fyra 12 is down to $279, nearly $70 off the regular price. At the other end of the scale is the Ooni Karu 16, which is nearly $160 off at $639.

Shop Ooni Black Friday saleBuy Fyra 12 at Ooni - $279Buy Karu 16 at Ooni - $639

We've frequently recommended Ooni's pizza ovens in our outdoor guides. They're relatively easy to use and deliver fairly consistent results, so if you're eager to make pizza at home and don't mind paying for a dedicated oven, it's worth considering these.

The Fyra 12 seems like a solid option for folks who often host family and friends and are into pizza parties. It bakes 12-inch pies in as little as one minute, and it uses wood pellets to heat up to 950 degrees in just 15 minutes. If you're well-organized, you'll be able to crank out a bunch of pizzas quickly with the right toppings to keep everyone happy. Since it has foldable legs and a detachable chimney (and weighs a relatively slight 22 pounds), the Fyra 12 is reasonably portable too, so it may even be an option for camping trips.

At the upper end, the Karu 16 also has a mounted digital thermometer and a glass door. You can opt to cook pizzas in the Karu 16 using wood, charcoal or gas, though you'll need an attachment for the latter. Speaking of accessories, those are 20 percent off as part of Ooni's sale as well. Depending on where you are, you might want to wait a few months before cooking outside is a more practical option again. But, hey, if you snap up one of Ooni's pizza ovens now, you'll be ready to roll by the time spring comes back around.

Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribing to the Engadget Deals newsletter.

Save Up to 45% Off Sitewide With Black Friday Deals at Solo Stove - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-11-22 11:00
Stay warm through the holidays and get great deals on fire pits and accessories so you can roast chestnuts, make s'mores and cuddle close with your loved ones anywhere.

How to Get More Fit in 15 Minutes a Day - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-11-22 11:00
You don't need a lot of spare time to get started on your fitness journey.

Christie's Cancels T Rex Skeleton Auction After Doubts Raised

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-11-22 11:00
The British auction house Christie's has been forced to call off the $23.75m auction of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton just days before it was due to go under the hammer after a well-known paleontologist raised concerns that parts of it looked similar to another dinosaur. From a report: Christie's said on Monday that the 1,400kg (3,100lb) skeleton -- nicknamed Shen -- had been withdrawn from the auction in Hong Kong on 30 November, when it was set to be the star lot. In a brief statement, a spokesperson for Christie's in London said: "After consultation with the consignor of the Tyrannosaurus rex scheduled for sale on 30 November in Hong Kong, Christie's has decided to withdraw the lot. The consignor has now decided to loan the specimen to a museum for public display." [...] It comes after Pete Larson, a paleontologist and the president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota, raised concerns that some of Shen appeared remarkably similar to Stan, another T rex skeleton auctioned off by Christie's for a record-breaking $31.8m in 2020. Larson said it looked as if the unnamed owner of Shen -- which means Godlike in Chinese -- had supplemented some of the skeleton's missing bones with casts of Stan's skeleton. "They're using Stan to sell a dinosaur that's not Stan," Larson told the New York Times. "It's very misleading."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How to Open a Certificate of Deposit - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-11-22 10:51
Once you decide on the right CD for your savings goal, applying is simple.

Tax prep websites have been sending sensitive financial data to Facebook

Engadget - Tue, 2022-11-22 10:45

Meta's Pixel tracking tool is causing more headaches, this time for people filing their taxes online. The Markup has discovered that large tax prep services like H&R Block, TaxAct and TaxSlayer have been sending users' sensitive contact and financial information to Facebook through the Pixel. This sometimes included income data, filing statuses and even kids' college tuition grants.

Intuit's TurboTax also uses the Pixel to send data, although that's limited to usernames and the last sign-in dates for given devices. The tool isn't used beyond the login page, and a spokesperson told The Markup that the non-tax info goes to marketers to provide a "better customer experience." You don't see ads for TurboTax on Facebook if you already have an account, for instance. TaxAct is also delivering financial data to Google through that company's analytics tool. 

The companies involved are altering or reevaluating their uses of the Meta Pixel. TaxAct has stopped sending financial data through the tracker, although it's still transmitting similar content to Google as of this writing. TaxSlayer has pulled the Pixel to rethink its usage. H&R Block hasn't changed its approach, but a spokesperson told The Markup the tax firm will "review the information."

In a statement to Engadget, a Meta spokesperson pointed barring advertisers from sharing sensitive info, and noted that the system is meant to filter out this content. Google's spokesperson, meanwhile, told The Markup the company had "strict policies" against targeting ads using sensitive content and that it anonymized analytics data to avoid linking it to users.

It's not clear if any of the tax filing sites were misusing the data. Whether or not they were, they could still face penalties for gathering details without permission. Internal Revenue Service regulations require that tax prep firms obtain signed consent for using info for any reason beyond the filing. None of the websites in the report mentioned Meta or Facebook by name, and in some cases had only generic disclosure agreements. The sites gave users the option to decline sharing tax data, but Facebook received it regardless of what users selected.

Meta is already in legal trouble over the Pixel. Two proposed class action lawsuits filed earlier this year accused the social media giant and hospitals of violating privacy laws by scooping up patient data without consent. The plaintiffs also claimed Meta failed to enforce its own policies. In that sense, the tax site revelation just adds to the company's problems.

Meta Quest 2 bundle with 'Resident Evil 4' and 'Beat Saber' is just $350 for Black Friday

Engadget - Tue, 2022-11-22 10:30

This might be your best chance to buy a virtual reality headset as a gift — or, let's be honest, for yourself. Amazon is selling a Meta Quest 2 128GB Black Friday bundle that includes the Resident Evil 4 VR remake and Beat Saberfor $350. That's less than the usual price of the hardware by itself, and makes it an easy choice if you wanted games to play from the very start. A 256GB bundle is also available for $430.

The Quest 2 has been around for over two years, but it's still the go-to headset for standalone VR. While it's not as powerful as tethered hardware like the upcoming PlayStation VR2, the freedom of movement makes it very appealing. You can play games or enter the metaverse without tripping over cords or limiting yourself to one room. The high-res screens, comfortable fit (once you've adjusted the lenses) and excellent controllers make the device pleasant to use for the two-plus hours of gameplay you'll typically get on a charge.

The games will be familiar. Resident Evil 4 in VR is what you'd hope for — it turns the survival horror game into a first-person action game that takes advantage of the immersive technology to keep you on edge. Beat Saber, meanwhile, is an iconic rhythm game that has you slashing notes and dodging obstacles in pursuit of high scores. Both are good showcases for VR, particularly for newcomers who might not know what to expect.

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