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13
Jan

Major League Soccer is creating its own FIFA eSports league


There’s a new eSports organization in town. In partnership with EA Sports, Major League Soccer is launching eMLS — an eSports league in which 19 of the 23 MLS clubs will select a competitor to represent them. Those gamers will compete in the eMLS Cup, which will take place during PAX East in April, and the winner will then go on to the FIFA 18 Global Series and have a chance to play in the FIFA eWorld Cup.

Introducing #eMLS. See #FIFA18 competitors representing @MLS clubs compete to win the #eMLSCup 🏆 on the road to the #FIFAeWorldCup. Learn more ➡️ https://t.co/akT972Fhwf pic.twitter.com/wIWo17WXne

— EA SPORTS FIFA (@EASPORTSFIFA) January 12, 2018

MLS clubs will only be able to send one gamer to represent them in eMLS events and, as Polygon reports, it’s not yet clear if they will receive the same benefits and salaries that NBA 2K League or Overwatch League players do. The future of eMLS is also not set in stone just yet as eMLS is currently only set up for FIFA 18.

Having professional gamers represent their teams is becoming more and more popular for soccer clubs. Clubs like VFL Wolfsburg, Manchester City and West Ham United have signed professional gamers in the past as did New York City FC last year.

Gary Stevenson, president of MLS Business Ventures, said in a statement, “This step forward into competitive gaming is a key component in our partnership with EA Sports to promote deeper engagement and connections between MLS supporters and the millions of FIFA players around the world.”

Source: eMLS

13
Jan

63 games and apps on Google Play served porn ads


If you still haven’t made it a habit to inspect Google Play applications before installing them, then maybe this will make you rethink your ways. Security firm Check Point has discovered a new malicious code hiding inside 63 games and apps on Google Play — a malicious code the company dubbed “AdultSwine” that served porn ads, to be exact. Check Point said the rogue applications were targeted towards kids, but a Google spokesperson told Engadget that they were more for the general audience. Google also clarified that they weren’t part of its vetted list under the Designed for Families Program, but it’s not that hard to imagine children downloading random games they find on the Play store.

Based on a user’s review on one of the apps, AdultSwine has been around since November, and a closer look revealed that it can do more than show inappropriate advertisements. When you launch one of its host apps — you can see the full list here — the code sends info back to its server, which chooses between three actions to take. In addition to serving porn ads, it could also display fake malware notifications designed to fool you into installing a security app that’s loaded with actual malware. Or, to trick you into registering for premium services charged to your account.

Thankfully, Google has quickly collaborated with Check Point to pull the host apps off the Play store. The big G also disabled the developers’ accounts and will issue what it says are “strong warnings” to users who installed the 63 apps. And there are lots of them, since the applications were downloaded between 3 million and 7 million times.

Google has systems in place meant to prevent apps with shady programs like these from making it to the Play Store and into people’s phones. This isn’t the first time those systems didn’t work, but the fact that the host apps were something kids would download makes this scheme extra egregious.

Via: The Financial Times

Source: Check Point (1), (2)

13
Jan

Bezos family donates $33 million to Dreamers scholarship program


A number of tech companies and executives have voiced support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie have just given $33 million in support to DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers. The two just donated the money to TheDream.US, which provides scholarships to Dreamers, and their donation will give 1,000 DACA recipients money to attend college. It’s the largest donation in history of TheDream.US. “My dad came to the US when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan,” Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English. With a lot of grit and determination — and the help of some remarkable organizations in Delaware — my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways. MacKenzie and I are honored to be able to help today’s Dreamers by funding these scholarships.”

Prior to President Trump’s decision to remove DACA protections in September, hundreds of CEOs, including Bezos, signed a letter asking him to keep the program intact and many voiced their disappointment when the president decided to end protections. In October, companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon said they would lobby Congress to pass DACA protection legislation and in November, over 100 companies filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs aiming to reinstate DACA protections.

Dreamers receiving aid from TheDream.US get $33,000 in scholarships spread out over four years. “Our students are highly motivated and determined to succeed in college and in life. We’re a three-and-a-half-year-old program, so we don’t yet have graduation rates,” said the organization’s president, Candy Marshall, in a statement. “But our scholars are thriving academically. 94% return to their college after the first year; the national average is 72%. We expect a 75% graduation rate.”

Source: TheDream.US

13
Jan

Toyota insists its e-Palette is more than a concept car


There’s one thing that keeps Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda up at night. It’s not a traditional car company like Honda, Ford or Nissan. Or what he’s going to have for breakfast the next day. It’s technology juggernauts like Facebook, Google and Apple and what might happen when they decide to enter the automotive industry proper. Will the company be ready? Is it doing enough to stay ahead of a potential broadside from Silicon Valley? The answer, Toyoda believes, is to morph Toyota into a data and smart mobility company. One that’s less about selling cars and trucks and more about moving people, products and services in the most efficient way possible.

At the forefront of this change is the e-Palette, a fully autonomous electric vehicle with a deceptively simple design. It is, at its core, a box with eight wheels. The interior can be empty or filled with seats, screens or shelves. Toyota thinks it could be used for mass transit, parcel deliveries and temporary accommodation — maybe all three on the same day, provided the furniture is easy enough to swap out. And there’s no steering wheel, pedals or gearshift to worry about: The vehicle will be completely driverless. It is, in short, a blank slate for urban transportation.

At the heart of the e-Palette is the Mobility Services Platform (MSPF), a software layer that Toyota is developing for a seemingly inevitable future in which nobody owns a car. With MSPF, drivers can request and unlock a vehicle with their smartphone. On the back end, Toyota has fleet-management tools, so any company — it could be Toyota itself or a company that owns a bunch of its vehicles — can keep tabs on its driverless army remotely. Bryce Merckling, who works on mobility services at Toyota Connected, calls the e-Palette the “physical manifestation” of MSPF.

“It’s the platform for the platform, essentially,” he said.

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To build e-Palette, though, Toyota needs some help. Amazon, Uber, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Chinese Uber rival Didi Chuxing have all agreed to form an “alliance” that will help Toyota take the project from ambitious concept to real-world vehicle. These partners are the sort of companies that might ultimately buy or lease the e-Palette on city streets. Pizza Hut could use a few to ferry deep pans around Chicago. Amazon might want a hundred to carry parcels between its enormous warehouses. They each have needs, questions and ideas that Toyota wants to hear to ensure the vehicle is a hit.

“Instead of trying to force something on them,” Merckling explained, “we wanted to work with them from the get-go.”

Each partner has an area of expertise to bring to the project. Uber, for instance, is the king of ride-sharing at the moment and has its own self-driving pilots under way. Amazon is an e-commerce titan that delivers a small country’s worth of parcels every day. And Pizza Hut? Well, Pizza Hut delivers pizza — and people like pizza. “We just wanted to be involved with partners that we thought were really important,” Merckling explained.

Amazon and Uber, surprisingly, are happy to be working with each other. Normally they’re competitors (both have food-delivery services, for instance), but here their needs are aligned: Both want an autonomous, electric vehicle to move things around. Toyota has also promised to keep the e-Palette “open.” That means Uber should, in theory, be able to plug its own autonomous-driving software into the MSPF and keep a crucial edge over its ride-hailing rivals. “That was a big deal for them,” Merckling said.

At the moment, Toyota is planning to build the e-Palette in three sizes: small, medium and large. They’re all the same width and height — only the length varies between vehicles. Merckling stressed, though, that this could change in the future. In fact, almost everything about the project could change as Toyota consults further with the e-Palette alliance. The company isn’t sure, for instance, what its final business model will be. It could sell the pods to companies or have a fleet that businesses are able to dynamically hire, customize and then return throughout the day. “Right now we’re open to everything,” Merckling said.

There are challenges ahead. EV batteries, for instance, need to improve or the fleet will struggle to keep up with demand. Citizens and companies will request them — but all the pods will be stuck at chargers or unable to reach their final destination. To solve the problem, Toyota is working on flatter, higher-density “prismatic” batteries with Panasonic. “Further evolution, in terms of performance, price and safety, and the securing of stable supply capacity, are pressing issues,” Toyoda said when the pair announced their partnership last month.

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Toyota also needs to think about public safety and how the e-Palette fits into public policy around the world. Legislators are slowly preparing for a future with autonomous cars. However, with its multipurpose design, the e-Palette is quite different from the average Tesla. Toyota has, however, already won the support of one city. It plans to run the e-Palette alongside other mobility solutions during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. “Toyada-san is very ambitious,” Merckling said. “He always has been. So when he gives a deadline like that, he really wants to meet it. He’s not just throwing something out there for fun.”

Toyota hopes to have trials in North America and Europe shortly after the games. A full commercial launch is, of course, a long way off. But the company is hell-bent on bringing the e-Palette concept to life. “It’s going to be a fun challenge,” Merckling added. “We don’t want this to be a concept vehicle that’s shown off one time and then it’s gone. We actually want to develop this and have it on the road.” If Toyota can do that while keeping its original vision intact, it will be the CEOs of Facebook and Apple, rather than Toyoda, who are kept up at night.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

13
Jan

The best mice of CES 2018


If you’re in the market for a new mouse to dominate opponents or simply wow your co-workers, the Consumer Electronics Show is a great place to see what is coming soon.

Here we list the best mice at CES 2018, all of which target the PC gamer. Manufacturers range from Cooler Master to Mad Catz to Razer, some of which provide their own take on Logitech’s wireless charging solution that hit the market in early 2017. 

Cooler Master MM830 

Highlights


Hidden D-pad buttons 


RGB illumination 


Built-in OLED screen 


Sensitivity up to 24,000DPI 


Pixart 3360 optical sensor 


Release date: Q2 or Q3 2018 


Price: TBD 

 

Cooler Master’s upcoming mouse is unique because it includes a “hidden” D-pad under the thumb consisting of four, low-profile buttons. Perfect for MMOs and MOBA games, your thumb will never need to leave the surface as it maneuvers to all four buttons: Just “rock” your thumb up, down, left, or right for actuation. These buttons are configurable through the company’s desktop utility. 

In addition to assigning D-pad commands, the software can be used to assign functions to the wheel, customize the RGB illumination, and set the DPI levels ranging up to 24,000 dots per inch. The “durable” PBT chassis also plays host to a built-in OLED screen with a 96 x 94 resolution so you can add a team logo or unique design directly to the mouse itself. This screen is presumably programmable through Cooler Master’s desktop software. 

13
Jan

HP’s Mike Nash on why new Spectre x360 15 is thicker, much more powerful


HP’s CES 2018 and late 2017 announcements include a couple of firsts that show off the company’s willingness to take chances on brand new technology. Its Envy x2 was the first detachable tablet announced that will leverage Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 ARM processors for long-lasting, always-connected computing, and it’s recently added an Intel version. And, its updated Spectre x360 15 beat packs in Intel new 8th-gen Core with Radeon RX Vega M graphics.

Mike Nash, HP’s Chief Technologist and VP of Customer Experience, Personal Systems, is high on HP’s ability to respond to customer requirements with modern computing solutions. And he had plenty to say as he stopped by Digital Trends’ booth at CES 2018, and discussed HP’s notebook and more.

First up was a discussion of HP’s first Always Connect PC based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 ARM processor, the Envy x2 detachable tablet, with Nash specifically touting the machine’s ability to remain connected to the internet and receive data while lasting for 16 hours or more on a charge. He also touched on the Intel version of the Envy x2 that brings greater performance, while maintaining around 12 hours of battery life.

Nash went on to discuss some of the differences between the ARM and Intel versions, including HP’s decision to offer both in response to customer requests. He provided an overview of each, discussing relative strengths, and touching on what a buyer needs to consider in making a good choice between the two.

Next, Nash discussed one of the first convertible 2-in-1s to pack in Intel’s new Kaby Lake-G chips, which mate an eighth-generation Intel Core i7 CPU with AMD’s Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU. The 15.6-inch 2-in-1 promises gaming performance falling somewhere between the Nvidia GTX 1050 and GTX 1060 GPUs, with all the abilities of a pen-enabled notebook that converts to a (large) tablet for handwriting and drawing.

If you’re wondering how HP makes its decisions on how to design its notebooks to meet customer needs, then this is the video for you. You’ll learn more about how HP listens to its customers, while picking up additional details about each of HP’s newest notebooks.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • HP’s Mike Nash Discusses HP Envy x2, Spectre x360 15
  • HP’s Mike Nash Discusses HP Envy x2, Spectre x360 15
  • Lenovo Miix 630 vs HP Envy x2: Qualcomm-powered Windows tablets face off
  • HP supercharges Spectre x360 15-inch with Intel 8th-Gen Core and AMD Vega graphics
  • Super-efficient Windows laptops powered by Qualcomm phone chips are here




13
Jan

From smartphone to notebook: Razer’s Kevin Sather gives scoop on Project Linda


Razer is best known for its iconic black gaming PCs and accessories. The company has recently branched out into smartphones, releasing a device that’s unsurprisingly optimized for gaming with a fast 120MHz display to ensure a smooth gameplay experience. Now, Razer has unveiled Project Linda, a concept dock that allows the Razer smartphone to morph into a notebook.

Kevin Sather, director of product marketing systems for Razer, stopped by our booth to talk about Project Linda and give some insight into how and why the product developed. Regarding the how, Sather focused on the wealth of design experience that Razer had accumulated in building its premium gaming notebooks, along with its experience in creating the Razer smartphone itself.

The why? It just made sense to put those two together and make a product that the market might appreciate. It didn’t hurt that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 CPU provides some serious power that could be put to better use than simply powering a smartphone. In terms of creating a solid Android-based notebook experience, Sather spoke to the company’s decision to use the Centio desktop environment, and he provided an overview of how that experience made sense for Project Linda.

In our initial assessment, we found Project Linda compelling as a notebook, with a pleasant keyboard and a solid design. We were less certain about the usefulness of using the Razer smartphone as an LCD-based touchpad, at least in terms of how the concept has so far been designed and programmed. Sather spoke to that question a bit, touting Razer’s past experience with utilizing dual displays on a notebook and promising more functionality to come.

Sather also talked about the Razer smartphone, highlighting the company’s desire to create something special for gamers and also for media consumers. The 12MHz display is one aspect, an immersive audio experience is another, and Razer rounded things out with support for both HDR10 and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. That combination of features would make for a solid notebook experience.

There’s no word yet if or when Project Linda will become a product you can actually purchase. It’s possible that Razer will utilize Project Linda to test new features and functionality for the company’s notebooks and accessories. But if it does make its way to the market, it could be one of the more interesting solutions for converting a smartphone into a notebook.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Razer Project Linda Preview
  • Razer Phone vs. iPhone X: Android newcomer takes on Apple’s finest
  • Razer Phone review
  • Android flagship throwdown: Razer Phone vs. Google Pixel 2 XL
  • Razer Phone vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 8: A new challenger approaches




13
Jan

Nvidia’s latest software update helps protect your system from ‘Spectre’


Nvidia is coming to the rescue, to help protect your system against the Spectre exploit. Or more specifically, to make sure its drivers can’t be used against you.

Here’s the thing about Spectre, it’s a hardware-level exploit, so rolling out a security patch isn’t as easy as it would be if they were just regular security vulnerabilities living somewhere on your computer. Patching this thing involves patching all the pathways someone could potentially take into your system.

Spectre and Meltdown take advantage of “speculative execution” to gain access to the beating heart of your operating system, its kernel. Because of that, manufacturers have had to roll out some tricky firmware updates, which insulate your system against the Spectre and Meltdown exploits.

The new Nvidia drivers make sure your GPU and its software are protected against “speculative side-channel vulnerabilities.” Nvidia accomplished this by effectively making sure your GPU can’t be used as a pathway into your operating system’s kernel.

Nvidia identified three main components of the Spectre exploit, and this patch — which you can and should go get now if you have an Nvidia graphics card — addresses two of them. The third version of the exploit shouldn’t be an issue, Nvidia says.

“At this time, Nvidia has no reason to believe that Nvidia software is vulnerable to this variant when running on affected CPUs,” the patch notes read.

To be clear, Nvidia’s hardware isn’t vulnerable to these exploits. Meltdown and Spectre are CPU exploits, not GPU exploits. This patch effectively shuts the door on Spectre by making sure it can’t be used to take advantage of the close relationship between your GPU, its drivers, and your operating system’s secure kernel.

The Meltdown and Spectre exploits were revealed by Google’s Project Zero security team. The exploits were actually uncovered in 2017 and Google’s team notified vendors who might be in the business of selling potentially vulnerable products.

“As soon as we learned of this new class of attack, our security and product development teams mobilized to defend Google’s systems and our users’ data. We have updated our systems and affected products to protect against this new type of attack,” Google’s Project Zero team reported. “We also collaborated with hardware and software manufacturers across the industry to help protect their users and the broader web.”

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Qualcomm is working on patches to address Meltdown and Spectre flaws
  • Acer’s new laptops include a liquid-cooled 2-in-1, $250 fanless Chromebook
  • Volkswagen enlists Nvidia’s powerful Xavier chip for autonomous cars
  • Nvidia will no longer publish new drivers for 32-bit systems
  • Nvidia’s updates EULA to ban the use of gamer-oriented GPUs in data centers




13
Jan

Get the support you deserve at work in one of the best office chairs


Anyone who works a typical 9-to-5 job knows that sitting is the bane of their existence. Our spines aren’t made to withstand hours sitting at a desk, but labor in the age of computers often demands just that. Opting for the proper office chair, one designed to cradle you as you work and provide you with the ample comfort and good posture, is a practical and well-advised solution.

The best chairs go beyond what you’d expect. Many offer resounding ergonomic benefits, breathable mesh backing, and excellent lumbar support, while simultaneously granting you a swath of customization options spanning everything from colors to contours. None of them are going to be a cure-all for your workday woes — at least, not in the way a standing desk might be — but customized suspension and the appropriate aesthetics go far in the long haul. We’ve rounded up the best office chairs that will have you feeling supported during the workday.

The best

Herman Miller Embody

So, what is it about the Embody we so revere? It’s a fair question, sure, especially considering the Embody’s lofty price tag and accompanying shipping costs. Well, for starters, the chair offers a dynamic matrix of “pixels” that allow the seat and back to automatically conform to your body’s every movement, while the chair’s central spine and flexible ribs work to maintain proper posture, regardless if you’re leaning forward or reclining. Said movement capabilities help promote better blood and oxygen flow, and if that wasn’t enough, the advanced tilt mechanism helps combat unwanted hip, neck, and lumbar strain. The chair even sizes to fit your body perfectly, comes in a range of colors, and features a skin-like covering for increased airflow.

Price: $1,160+

Buy one now from:

Amazon Office Designs

Allsteel Acuity

While many office chairs use a series of buttons and levers for greater comfort control, the Acuity intuitively adjusts to your body and shifting posture. The chair automatically modifies lumbar support, as well as angular recline, by adapting to pressure and weight distribution. The large mesh openings also create optimal breathability for better ventilation. For greater flexibility around the office, owners have the option of outfitting the back of the chair with a slip-on leather jacket. This gives the Acuity a more sophisticated look, one better suited for conference rooms and private offices.

Price: $371

Buy one now from:

Madison Seating

Steelcase Gesture

The Steelcase Gesture remains one of the sleeker office chairs on the market. A deep, flexible contour in the back of the chair supports the natural shape of the spine and helps minimize tension in the lower back. The arms also pivot to host a range of body types and better ergonomic positioning while typing. A semi-matte finish along the back and a polished-metal wheelbase complement the chair’s modern design. Steelcase tested the Gesture for a maximum of 400 pounds, too, which means weight shouldn’t be an issue.

Price: $998+

Buy one now from:

Steelcase

Steelcase Leap

The Steelcase Leap has long stood as the company’s flagship — and for good reason. It’s one of the more popular office chairs in existence, one which owes much of its merit to years of painstaking research and subsequent development. The result is a chair that caters to the individual and remains reliant on the company’s LiveBack system, which lets you conveniently and independently adjust the seat and back of the chair for enhanced support. The back mimics the natural shape of your spine throughout the day, helping to encourage better posture, while the chair’s innovative glide system allows you to recline without having to orient yourself away from your workload (heaven forbid).

Price: $770+

Buy one now from:

Amazon Office Designs

DXRacer Formula Series DOH/FH08/NW

While the DXRacer Formula Series is actually a gaming chair, it has a lot of great ergonomic features that help prop you up while sending a report instead of shooting zombies. With both an adjustable lumbar pillow and head pillow, you get some plushness you don’t normally find in an office chair. You also have the ability to set the seat back and armrests to suit your posture, but its straight backrest helps keep your spine aligned. Its unique looks might make it seem like you’re piloting a spacecraft instead of answering emails, but honestly, that’s a bonus in our book.

Price: $349

Buy one now from:

Amazon

13
Jan

Join us as we kick off Day 2 of CES 2018 with details of our live coverage


It’s Day Two of CES 2018 and we have another full day of live video coverage ahead. A number of guests will be swinging by the Digital Trends CES booth, including a few of the biggest companies out there.

One industry that we don’t often see at CES is the weed industry. Sure, Marijuana is only recreationally legal in some U.S. states, and still illegal in many, but the weed industry is rapidly growing and one ripe for innovative technology. We will be speaking with one company, Cloudious 9, which is reinventing vaporizer and liquid filtration tech.

Anker, best known for creating handy mobile accessories like phone cases and USB power packs, will also be stopping by. Word is the company is planning on restructuring and promises to have big announcements for 2018.

We also have interviews lined up with two of the biggest tech companies there are, Google and Comcast. Those are sure to be interesting chats and we look forward to getting their thoughts on CES 2018 and the current state of tech.

You may not know, but CES is a lot bigger than just the main convention. While the main hall is huge — spanning 54 football field-lengths of space to fill — there are also smaller, satellite events taking place around Las Vegas throughout the week. We talk a bit about one such event, ShowStoppers, which is a smaller, more intimate event that is focused on the inventors and creators themselves. Not only does that give attendees immediate access to the creators themselves, it also gives the creators the ability to get their products and ideas out in the open. We will be airing some videos about what we saw there, and what got us excited, later in the day.

All of this and more can be found at our CES coverage page, or live on our on Facebook and YouTube pages.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Affordable new products and the future of tech highlight day 3 of CES 2018
  • CES Day 2: 5D Printing and the race for smart home supremacy
  • The first day of CES 2018 saw racing mechs, futuristic skateboards, more
  • Catch up on Day 2 of CES 2018 with our quick wrap-up video
  • Digital Trends’ CES 2018 live-stream provides up-to-the-minute coverage




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