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Britain’s film board to enforce online porn age checks

The UK government is inching closer to a new piece of legislation that will require porn sites to introduce age checks. Such an idea has been kicking around for well over two years, but finally the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) seems ready to implement it. An amendment to the Digital Economy Bill will give the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) the power to block sites that fail to abide by the new rule. Should they find a porn provider breaking the law, they’ll be able to contact ISPs, including mobile networks, and request that they restrict access.

The method for assessing somebody’s age is still a mystery, however. Most age-checks are little more than a splash screen that anyone can click past. It’s been suggested that credit card information, or a check against the electoral register, could be used instead. Indeed, the Digital Economy Bill includes the power to “withdraw payment services” by blocking a site’s ability to process credit and debit cards. VISA, Mastercard and other payment providers have already agreed to co-operate with this aspect of the bill, according to DCMS. Such a move would be ineffective against free sites, but the government believes most “are teasers for paid sites” anyway.

“Only adults should be allowed to view such content and we have appointed a regulator, BBFC, to make sure the right age checks are in place to make that happen,” Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said. “If sites refuse to comply, they should be blocked.” BBFC says the scheme should work for sites based both in the UK and abroad, given its reliance on ISP-focused blocking. “Overseas providers will still be incentivised to comply by the elements of the scheme which will disrupt their income streams,” a spokesperson said, “and ISP blocking powers greatly increase the chance of effectiveness of the whole regime.”

Source: GOV.UK (Press Release)


Fender’s guitar apps will sync wirelessly with its new amp

Fender revealed its plans for a suite of guitar apps back in August, but some of the software will also pair with one of the company’s upcoming amps. According to Bloomberg, Fender has a new guitar amplifier in the works for 2017 that will connect to its apps wirelessly via Bluetooth. So far, the company’s digital initiative has only released the Tune iOS app, but there are more options coming soon.

Bloomberg says the Bluetooth-equipped amp will work with software that allows users to change settings and share sounds with their fellow musicians from a mobile device. Another so-called “practice room” app will help novices learn to play any song in their collection. Fender is also developing an app that will emulate the signature tone of popular guitarists. The goal of having a suite of easy to use software it to lower the barrier of entry for new players while giving experienced pickers something to keep them interested. The previously released tuning app lends a hand to all skill levels, and it will be interesting to see how Fender continues to pad its digital arsenal with that being a primary goal.

Source: Bloomberg


Apple’s diversity numbers haven’t moved much in a year

It’s been a year where tech companies have been pledging their fealty to the concept of diversity, but backed that up with very little action. Recode has unearthed a document that Apple sent to America’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that might as well have been an A4 print-out of a “¯_(ツ)_/¯.” For all the talk, the company is still miles away from achieving parity between its white, male executives and everyone else. In fact, only 20 out of Apple’s 107 top executives are women, and only five are defined as coming from an underrepresented minority.

In the firm’s defense, remedying years (or decades) of lax employment practices doesn’t happen overnight. These businesses are more like ocean liners than go-carts, and you can’t simply fire hundreds of employees to make room. But earlier this year, Apple showed that it was hopeful for the future by revealing that the number of women and minorities that it hires as new entrants is increasing year on year. Whether the company has also worked to deal with its apparently toxic corporate culture is another story altogether.

Source: Recode


Rockefellers give Exxon Mobil lashing over the environment

Earlier this year, the Rockefeller Brothers foundation divested its holding in Exxon Mobil, the company created* by John D. Rockefeller. Now, the descendants of the world’s richest oil baron are launching a public broadside against the company that made their fortune. In an editorial for the New York Review of Books, fifth-generation Rockefeller David Kaiser talks about Exxon’s complicity in our looming ecological catastrophe.

Kaiser’s narrative paints a picture similar to that of big tobacco after it had discovered the link between smoking and cancer. He quotes internal Exxon research from as early as 1977 attributing fossil fuel consumption to climate change. By 1980, one company scientist said that by 2030, if left unchecked, CO2 emissions would cause a global catastrophe. By 1988, Exxon had decided to go on the offensive in anticipation of regulation, muddying the waters with paid scientists to dispute the scientific consensus.

The piece, the first of two to be published, also explains how the Rockefeller family has made an enemy of those in government. Texas Republican Lamar Smith has accused the family of launching a “coordinated effort to deprive companies” of their right to conduct “scientific research free from intimidation.” The New York Times quotes Exxon spokesperson Alan Jeffers who believes that the company is the victim of a “conspiracy” led by the Rockefellers. Given how favorably the incoming leadership looks upon oil companies, it’s likely that Smith, Jeffers and others will be able to silence the dissenters.

*Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, of which various components were merged to form Exxon.

Via: New York Times

Source: New York Review of Books


Influential horror series ‘Amnesia’ now available on PS4

It turns out horror games are like buses — you spend ages waiting for one to arrive and then three show up at once. After years of PC exclusivity, the Amnesia Collection finally allows PlayStation gamers to see what all the fuss is about. Costing $29.99, this digital package includes horror classics: Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, Amnesia: Justine and Amnesia: The Dark Descent — for the first time.

Praised for its innovative take on first-person horror, Amnesia: Dark Descent received critical acclaim after its 2010 PC release. This twisted game went on to spawn a new breed of first-person horror games, becoming the stuff of YouTube legend thanks to Let’s Plays from the likes of PewDiePie.

The Amnesia Collection is available now from the PlayStation Store.

Source: Release Trailer


Astronomers have found the roundest object in the universe

The sun may look round from our viewing angle but it — like most stars — aren’t as spherical as they seem. It’s actually 10 kilometers wider at its equator than it is at its poles. This is due to stars’ rate of spin and variances within their magnetic fields. Kepler 11145123, a burning orb just 5,000 light years from Earth, is an extraordinary exception to that rule.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and the University of Göttingen continually measured the routine expansions and contractions of the star for four years (which is done by tracking its relative brightness). They found that 11145123 is a mere 3 kilometers wider at its equator than its poles, making it the roundest natural object observed to date.

This is unexpected because 11145123’s super-slow rotation — once every 100 days or three times slower than our Sun — should make it an oblate spheriod according to Clairaut’s theorem. That is, it should be shaped like an M&M, not a nearly perfect sphere. The team believes that this is caused by an exceptionally weak magnetic field within the star:

Guided by the well-established results of helioseismology, we suggest that a weak surface magnetic field (much weaker than the Sun’s surface magnetic field at solar maximum) is a possible explanation for the reduced oblateness of KIC 11145123: Waves propagate faster in magnetized regions, so surface magnetic fields at low latitudes will make a star appear less oblate to acoustic waves.

The research team hopes to apply this method of measurement to other slowly rotating celestial objects, which have not been studied to nearly the same degree as their faster-spinning cousins.

Via: CNet

Source: Science Advances


BeatsX Release Rumors Point to December Launch Date

Similar to the current confusion regarding the release date of Apple’s AirPods, a couple of differing launch days for the new wireless BeatsX earphones have begun sprouting up online, leading to uncertainty over when exactly Apple will begin selling the new Beats-branded earphones.

In line with some AirPods rumors, most retailers are placing order dates in December for BeatsX. The new rumors would mean BeatsX will miss the retail rush of Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up this week, but would place the earphones as potentially available for last-minute holiday shopping later in December.

Fry’s Electronics has the earphones listed as estimated to ship on December 5, 2016. Users can add the BeatsX to their cart, but pre-orders aren’t available yet as checkout can’t be completed at the time of writing. The date was originally spotted by a user on Reddit.

Photo, video, and audio electronics retailer B&H also has a date listed for BeatsX, with expected availability of the earphones on December 16. Users can pre-order BeatsX at B&H, although detailed shipping estimates for them are not yet available. At both Fry’s and B&H, the BeatsX earphones are listed at the expected price of $149.95.

On Apple’s website, the earphones are still simply “coming this fall.” As was the case with the AirPods, it’s likely that most retailers are using placeholder dates for BeatsX until they receive word on the official launch. Still, since November is nearly over and there’s been no word from Apple yet, there is a growing possibility that both AirPods and BeatsX will launch sometime in December, in time for holiday shopping.

The BeatsX earphones were announced during Apple’s September 7 iPhone event, along with the Beats Solo3 and Powerbeats3 devices. The new line of Beats headphones have Apple’s W1 chip — also found in the AirPods — that lets them pair easily with an iPhone. The Powerbeats3 wireless earphones launched in October.

Tag: Beats
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T-Mobile Offers Free iPhone 7 or 7 Plus With Eligible Device Trade-In for Black Friday

T-Mobile today announced its Black Friday deals, bringing back a popular trade-in offer that will allow customers to get a free or discounted iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus when trading in an older device.

When trading in an iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, or iPhone 7 Plus, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, or Note 5, customers can get a 32GB iPhone 7 for free. With the trade-in of the above listed phones, a 32GB iPhone 7 Plus costs $100, with the exception of a Galaxy S7 Edge or an iPhone 7 Plus trade-in, which drops the price to $0.

With older smartphones, including the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, Note 4, Galaxy S5, LG G4, LG, and V10, customers can get an iPhone 7 for $100 or an iPhone 7 Plus for $200. There’s also an option to trade in the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s, which drops the price on a new iPhone 7 to $350 and a new iPhone 7 Plus to $450. Customers can get more storage space at an additional fee.

“This year, the holidays are on us!” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “2016 has been a looong year. And now it’s time for family and holidays and giving! So we’re going to start giving like only the Un-carrier can. We’re covering the cost of your holiday shopping and giving you the most popular superphones for the holidays. Call me crazy, but it feels good to give!”

T-Mobile is also offering customers $200 for every line that’s switched to T-Mobile with an eligible device payment plan and a T-Mobile ONE service plan. Customers can receive up to $2,400 based on the number of lines switched to T-Mobile from another carrier, with T-Mobile providing the payment in the form of a prepaid MasterCard.

For everyone, including AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint customers, T-Mobile is offering a free hour of Wi-Fi on all Gogo-equipped domestic flights. The free Wi-Fi will be available from Tuesday, November 22 to Saturday, November 26.

Other T-Mobile deals:

  • $70 off UE Boom 2 Wireless Speaker
  • $30 off LG Tone Pro 760 Bluetooth headset
  • $50 off mophie Powerstation Mini

T-Mobile’s Black Friday deals will be available starting on November 24 at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time and will run through Sunday, November 27 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.

For tons more Black Friday deals and discounts, make sure to check out our Black Friday roundup. It lists deals from every store discounting Apple products, plus it has dozens of discounts on Apple-related software and accessories.

Related Roundup: Black Friday
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The 13 best uses of Siri on a Mac – CNET


Snapchat Spectacles review – CNET

The Good Do you use sunglasses? Do you like Snapchat? Then these are made for you. You actually film what you see and the battery lasts a loooong time.

The Bad They only work with Snapchat. You can’t really wear regular glasses with them.

The Bottom Line If you use Snapchat, you’re going to want a pair of these.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

I use Snapchat all the time but I still wasn’t expecting to like Spectacles as much as I did.

They do one thing — record video for Snapchat — but they do that one thing really well.

I took them to the beach, jumped on trampolines, dodged balls, climbed a pyramid play structure, watched the sunset and played tennis with them. A whole lot of fun captured from my point of view.

Regardless of age (or activity), if you use Snapchat a lot, Spectacles opens up the possibility to capture hands-free, phone-free moments.

Before I go any further, here’s a cheat sheet review in case you’re already feeling the need for a TL;DR.

What I like

1. They feel like regular sunglasses and they look pretty good on just about everyone.

2. Video quality is great for Snapchat. If the light is good you’re getting a pretty decent picture.

3. Spectacles record circular video. You can rotate your phone to see more of the image.

spectacles-rotate.gifView full gallery Lexy Savvides/CNET

4. Filters, emojis and text. Once the video’s in Snapchat, it’s just like editing a regular snap.

5. They don’t need to be connected to a phone to work, only when you want to view and post snaps.

6. They won’t fall off your face if you jump around or play sport.

What I don’t like

1. You look like an idiot wearing them indoors, at night or with prescription glasses underneath.

2. Spectacles only work with Snapchat.

3. No face filters (aka lenses) allowed. Sorry, those funny Snapchat face swaps and Bambi ears won’t happen here.

4. The audio is good, but not great. It picks up sound pretty well from the wearer so narrating the action is what you’ll end up doing most of the time.

5. Mirror selfies. Unless you take off the glasses or have a friend wear them to film you, selfies are hard.

6. Spectacles take video only. No still images.

View full gallery
James Martin/CNET

Who would want Spectacles?

  • Athletic types: Unless you’re going bungee-jumping or riding a rollercoaster, they’re probably not going to fall off your face. I wore them playing trampoline dodgeball and they didn’t budge.
  • Parents: Being able to film your kids (or pets!) hands-free is probably worth the price of admission. I played fetch with a dog and captured ten awkward seconds of him not returning the ball, perfect Snapchat footage.
  • Someone who wants to be part of the action: They’re on your face so they don’t get in the way and other people are less likely to be weirded out when being filmed. (Try not to be such a creeper.)
  • Anyone who needs a point-of-view perspective: You can see what I see. Cooking, dancing, singing, hands and all.
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