Last year Facebook was home to an internal forum spouting sexist and racist comments, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and Business Insider. The forum, called FB Anon, was set up in May 2015 for employees of the company to voice their opinions of the workplace freely and anonymously. But in the month’s leading up to President Trump’s election it was increasingly populated by right-leaning staff and, according to Mark Zuckerberg, used to harass others. The group was abruptly shut down in December 2016.
These reports come during an increasingly challenging time for tech companies. In the wake of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, where violence resulted in the death of one protestor and injuries for many others, companies have taken a zero-tolerance approach to hate speech. GoDaddy and Google have revoked domain registrations for neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, crowdfunding sites have pulled campaigns supporting white supremacists and social media platforms have banned whole groups expressing violent alt-right ideologies.
But at the same time, companies are duty-bound to protect their own employees’ right to free speech, a complicated situation that was well-illustrated earlier this month when Google employee James Damore, who was subsequently fired, circulated a memo criticising the company’s diversity initiatives.
While Facebook hasn’t yet responded directly to the news regarding FB Anon, Zuckerberg yesterday wrote on his personal Facebook page that while the social network welcomed varied opinion, it would draw the line at hate. How deeply his message resonates with his employees, however, remains to be seen. As Business Insider reports, shortly after the forum’s closure posters were seen around Facebook’s campus bearing the beginning and end dates of the group, alongside the ominous message, “Silenced, but not silent.”
Samsung and Shazam have partnered up to put an end to the head-scratching torment of hearing an unidentifiable song on TV. Samsung’s newest update for its 2017 smart TV platform will give viewers access to Shazam at the click of a button, allowing them to identify the title, artist and lyrics of a song playing on screen. This can happen live, or via content delivered through HDMI. Viewers can also speak “what is this song?” into the Samsung One Remote to access information, plus stream the music they identify and create playlists that can be accessed without running an external app.
This is a logical step for Shazam, which has regained relevance in recent times by adding extra content to TV advertising. And of course it’s a win for Samsung TV viewers, who will no longer have to scramble for their phones to launch the app when they hear a tune they like on-screen. And for the relatives of the less technologically-inclined (hi, mom!), who frequently spend months hunting down a particular song based on a single vague lyric playing in the background of a generic soap scene.
“We are excited to integrate Shazam’s functionality with another medium that’s enjoyed by so many people around the world,” said Fabio Santini, Shazam chief product officer. “Smart TVs felt like a natural evolution for the Shazam experience. We can’t wait for viewers and Shazam users alike to try this new feature.”
Samsung, Foxconn and other smartphone industry firms are backing a new standard that would let you wirelessly download large files in seconds. Called “Kiss,” it was developed by a company called Keyssa, which has investors like former Apple and Google exec Tony Fadell, along with Samsung, Dolby, Intel and other companies. By placing two devices equipped with the tech close to each other, you can do “gigabit-sized” transfers in seconds, Keyssa says.
Keyssa and Intel already unveiled chips late in 2016 that could be embedded in laptops and convertibles for fast wireless transfers. The latest alliance with Samsung and Foxconn, by contrast, aims to put such chips in smartphones and other mobile devices. Along with mobile and PC transfers, they could also be installed in TVs, making it possible to play a movie from a smartphone by placing it nearby.
The tech fits in “coffee bean-sized connector” and uses an extremely high frequency (EHF) carrier to transport data over short distances through air or plastic. On laptops, the wireless tech will work at up to 5Gbps, the same speed as first-gen USB Type-C. Keyssa and its partners haven’t specified speeds for mobile devices yet, however.
The tech is still pretty new, so it’s unlikely to be in your next device. However, the Essential Phone, due to arrive on Friday with Sprint, will have a “magnetic connector with wireless data transfer,” the company says. Reuters pointed out that Playground Global, owned by Essential designer and CEO Andy Rubin, is also an investor in Keyssa.
Whether it’s widely adopted or not might depend on the cost. Keyssa says it has filed over 250 patents on the tech, so tech companies thinking of adopting it will obviously be looking at licensing fees. Nevertheless, the fact that both Samsung and Apple supplier Foxconn are both on board is a positive sign.
Fuel cell champion Hyundai is changing direction with its product strategy, announcing that it will now focus on electric vehicles. The shift comes after Tesla and other electric vehicle manufacturers have gained traction in the field, and following Chinese government backing for battery-powered cars. “We’re strengthening our eco-friendly car strategy, centering on electric vehicles,” executive vice president Lee Kwang-guk told a news conference, adding that the technology was “realistic”. Hyundai now plans to have an electric sedan on the road by 2021, with a range of 500km. Also on the cards is an electric version of its 390km-range Kona SUV, due in the first half of 2018.
But it’s not given up on fuel cell altogether. The company has unveiled a near-production version of its new fuel cell SUV, which boasts a driving range of more than 800km per charge — nearly double the 415km range of its current Tucson fuel cell SUV — which is due to hit Korean roads next year. A fuel cell bus and a further fuel cell sedan car are also in the works. The company clearly still has its eyes on fuel cell technology as part of its long game, but until it achieves economies of scale electric battery cars will keep it busy.
Starting today, Essential Phone is available for pre-order from Sprint — the exclusive carrier of the smartphone. While the phone is compatible with all major networks and can be purchased unlocked from Essential, Sprint is offering payment plans and leases for those that don’t want to necessarily commit to the model.
If you preorder through Sprint, you could be eligible (depending on your credit) for half off of a lease, meaning you’ll pay just $15 per month for 18 months. If you want to keep the phone at the end of your lease, you’ll have to pay the remaining balance for the phone’s full price — $700. You can also make monthly installment payments on the $200 4K Essential 360 degree Camera over the course of a year. If you order from Essential, for a limited time you can get both the phone and camera for $749.
Essential Phone is made with titanium and ceramic in order to prevent dings and dents, has an edge-to-edge display and comes with 128GB of memory. There’s no obvious branding on the phone and Essential says it will provide Android updates for two years and security updates for three. The company also plans to release new accessories for the phone regularly.
The Black Moon version of the phone is available for order now through Essential.com, Sprint and Best Buy while the Pure White color will be available sometime in the future.
Source: Essential, Sprint
Not to be outdone by ESPN, Turner Broadcasting has announced a sports streaming service of its own next year. And to start, it’s partnering with UEFA on a three-year deal to stream Champions and Europa League games beginning with the 2018 – 2019 season. That’ll cover some 340 matches, according to a statement from Turner. In addition to streaming, games will be broadcast across the media group’s TV channels including TBS, TNT “and/or” truTV beginning next year. Not a soccer fan? Turner says it’ll offer other sports as well.
There will be four broadcasts per week from September to December and two per week in February. Semifinal matches will air on TBS or TNT, Turner says. The company is also partnering with Bleacher Report for news and analysis and the publication will push that out to its social followings.
So yes, if you want to watch all of the football (soccer to the rest of the world) it could be an expensive venture. Pricing details haven’t been announced yet, and how much money changed hands during this agreement is also unknown. Regardless of how much it ends up costing, the standalone future of streaming sure does look a lot like cable.
We knew a few things PlayStation 4 owners would be getting with the system’s next big software update thanks to a leak last week. But it goes beyond enabling PS4 Plus owners to stream on Twitch in 1080p at 60 frames per second. While only pre-selected users get to enjoy the new additions as the update rolls out in beta today, Sony released a list of features for the console’s greater playerbase to look forward to.
Most of the tweaks are solidly quality-of-life improvements, though some are better late than never: You’ll finally be able to switch off notifications when watching a movie or TV show, for example. And there’s good news for everyone who hates navigating through the menu to see notifications (which is, well, everyone): They’re now visible in the Quick Menu.
Sony’s post confirms what Eurogamer originally leaked: A more robust family management system allowing for multiple adult users and different permissions for child accounts (letting teens play more mature games than younger kids, for example). The friend list is getting updated, too, ditching the Favorite Groups tab to let users create completely custom sets of friends.
Yes, PS4 Pro owners will get too livestream in 1080p60 on Twitch, but Sony has added other streaming functionality. You can bind broadcasts to communities you own, giving spectators a button that links right to your group. Users now get messages while they’re broadcasting in VR mode, too.
Speaking of VR, those watching Blu-Rays or DVDs in cinematic mode get 5.1ch and 7.1ch virtual surround sound when listening on headphones. If you like listening to music on your PS4, you can now share straight to your friends; If they’re also on Sony’s console, they can pop open the song you sent them in the Quick Menu and listen from there. If they open the message on the PlayStation mobile app, clicking on your message opens the track in Spotify.
Finally, the update brings new languages, and the consoles now support Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Romanian, Thai and Vietnamese.
Source: PlayStation Blog
The multi-player competitive game World of Tanks is getting its first single-player campaign mode next week. On August 22nd, Wargaming will release War Stories — episodic gameplay that users can experience both solo or cooperatively. “As the first campaign series in the World of Tanks universe, War Stories allows us to bring a new narrative to the game and expand on our multiplayer experience with engaging single-player and online Co-op content for our new and longtime tankers,” said TJ Wagner, Wargaming creative director, in a statement.
War Stories will have two campaigns and three chapters to start. Brothers in Armor features Red Army soldiers fighting Nazis and serves a training mission to get new players comfortable with all of the game’s features. Flashpoint Berlin centers around the Soviet blockade of Berlin and British soldiers trying to get through it. Two more stories are in the works including an invasion of Great Britain and alternate version of the Cuban Missile Crisis. War Stories will be released episodically with Operation Sealion set to release in September and Kennedy’s War coming in October.
The new campaign will be available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox One S and PlayStation 4.
Source: World of Tanks, Gamasutra
Adobe’s Lightroom can do wondrous things to photos, but fiddling with a mouse can impede your speed and creativity. This is where a product called Loupedeck comes in. It’s a control panel designed especially for Lightroom that lets you adjust white balance, contrast, exposure and many other settings by twiddling dials and pushing buttons instead of a mouse. It easily met its crowdfunding goals and is now a hit in retail, so I decided to try it out and see why it caught on with the photo crowd.
Loupedeck was dreamed up by a company in Finland with help from Nokia designers. First released on Indiegogo for $229, it raised €366,000 out of a €75,000 goal and is now available at B&H Electronics for $299. While a bit late shipping, all 1,436 backers have apparently received one, making it a rare successful crowdfunding campaign. It’s now in retail, and B&H says Loupedeck is its No. 1-selling Lightroom-related product.
There aren’t a lot of external control panels like Loupedeck for Lightroom and other photo-editing products. In the professional world, specialists use tools like the $20,000 Da Vinci Resolve control panel to do “color grading” on feature films, TV shows and commercials. Those are a necessity in that go-go world — rates can go up to $800 an hour, so clients are looking over your shoulder and at the clock. Speed is a must, in other words.
The Pfixer/Behringer Lightroom control panel (Pusher Labs)
For Lightroom, the control options are cheaper, at least. One is quite weird: the Behringer BCF-2000, a motorized $299 audio mixer (above), customized for Lightroom with $99 Pfixer software (PFixer sells the bundle for $359). The advantage is that when you make tweaks in the software, the motorized sliders move to match.
Another option is MIDI2lR, a free, open-source app that converts any MIDI controller into a Lightroom device. There’s also Palette, a button and dial kit that gives you up to 15 control modules for $499, or CTRL+Console, a $30 app that turns your iPad into a touchscreen console for Lightroom. The latter apps also work with other Adobe apps, not just Lightroom.
So what is Loupedeck? It’s a keyboard-size panel with a large rotate/crop dial, 12 smaller dials, eight wheels, 26 function buttons and 10 programmable buttons. They’re grouped into five categories: Selecting (for rating, picking, moving, and copy-pasting), Main (changing contrast, clarity and other image attributes), Color Management, Personalized Functions and Activation (undo/redo, brush, full screen and before/after).
Loupedeck is a nice-looking, low-profile product that will look at home on your desk, unlike the bulky Pfixer solution — even the packaging is smart, matching the color of the device itself. Installation was very straightforward for me on Windows 10 (install the software, connect the device to a USB port), though I did have to update my version of Lightroom.
It also appears relatively professional if you have clients present, albeit a touch cheap. The controls are well-laid-out, with the most important dials at the bottom and secondary controls near the top, much like professional control surfaces.
The dials are relatively precise but require a lot of movement — around seven full rotations — to move across the full range for exposure, highlights and other settings. Luckily, each dial also doubles as a push button, instantly moving the setting to zero. The quality of the dials is about what you’d expect for a $299 product, good but not great — there’s a bit too much play if you push them back and forth. The buttons require a little more force than you’d expect. That said, I didn’t have any problems or mis-clicks during the limited time I had the Loupedeck.
Some of Loupedeck’s default color presets
As someone who likes to tweak images, I find the Loupedeck very useful for letting me keep my eyes on the screen while I make adjustments. I set up the programmable buttons (P1 to P8) for specific looks that I generally use, like contrasty, vignetted or desaturated. That alone can get me 90 percent of the way there, and the final fine-tuning is a cinch thanks to the image- and color-adjustment dials. I didn’t quite master the layout without looking, but after a few more days I’d likely be there.
If you’re more into speed, you can “rate” photos very rapidly using either a star or color system, and do quick setting adjustments, as PetaPixel’s Paul Rogers showed for a wedding shoot. Using that technique, he was able to process images in around 20-40 seconds, about the same amount of time it takes with his Behringer Pfixer panel.
In other words, the Loupedeck works well whether you’re an art photographer who spends hours on a photo or an event photographer who needs to quickly tweak hundreds of images.
That’s not to say that it’s perfect. There aren’t a lot options for programming — the single C1 programmable dial can only be set for de-haze, noise reduction, vignette (the default) or sharpening. Similarly, the C2 and C3 buttons can be programmed with as many as four functions in total, but Loupedeck offers only three, so that’s a bit ridiculous. Hopefully, it will add more over time.
Likewise, you’ll have to switch to the mouse and keyboard for certain Lightroom functions — you can select the Brush, for instance, but can’t manipulate it without the mouse. For others, like lens correction, you’ll have to switch back to the old-fashioned way, too.
It would also be nice if Loupedeck worked with apps other than Lightroom, especially in the Adobe family. The panel would be particularly handy for Premiere Pro CC, with the rotate/crop as a jog/shuttle/stop button, and other dials for trimming and sliding edits, adjusting audio, color correction, etc. That doesn’t seem to be in the cards for now, though.
Despite those little nags, the Loupedeck is surprisingly bug-free for something so new and is a nice-looking, solid-feeling product. But $299 is quite a chunk, so it’s obviously not for casual photo editors. If you’re a pro or serious amateur who processes a lot of photos with Lightroom, however, it could both make you more creative and save you a lot of time.
In case you’ve been holding off on picking up a Nintendo Switch until it had a pack-in game, you’re in luck. Nintendo has announced that it’s releasing a special Splatoon 2 version of the console replete with neon green and pink Joy-Cons, a carrying case and a download code for the seafood-starring shooter. If there’s a downside, it’s that the bundle will only be available from Walmart. Assuming that doesn’t deter you, it’ll cost $379.99 starting September 8th. So, for an extra $80, you’ll get a much-needed carrying case and a solid game — it’s a veritable circus of value.