Month: May 2019

Key ‘Game of Thrones’ scriptwriter now working on Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ series

Now begins the creative diaspora of the Game of Thrones cast and crew as they decide on the projects with which they’ll begin the post-Thrones phase of their respective careers. Already, one such forthcoming project is attracting significant buzz among Game of Thrones fans and devotees of material from the writer who inspired Thrones author George R.R. Martin in the first place. We’re talking, of course, about the Lord of the Rings — specifically, about the mysterious big-budget series set in that world and which is currently in development at Amazon.

We say “mysterious,” because not too much is known at the moment about what the series will entail, other than that this is Amazon’s attempt at notching a potential Thrones-style hit that similarly moves the pop culture needle. And it arguably stands a very good chance of doing that, because all indications are that one of the key Game of Thrones scriptwriters — Bryan Cogman, who’s been described as a right-hand man to the Thrones showrunners and who wrote 11 episodes — is now working on Amazon’s LOTR series.

Martin himself confirmed this news in his most recent blog post about the end of Thrones. “Amazon scooped up Bryan Cogman,” Martin writes, “and put him to work on developing shows of his own, as well as helping out on their big Tolkien project.”

Lord of the Rings fan site TheOneRing.Net also reported that this news has been confirmed by other sources, and they’ve provided some context for why it’s such a big “get” for Amazon if Cogman is indeed working on their LOTR project.

For one thing, Cogman was one of the first hires made by Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss once HBO greenlit the show. The site goes on to note that Cogman was regarded as having an “encyclopedic knowledge” of the books, with Thrones writers and directors having to get his sign-off on their material. Martin himself has also publicly remarked on more than one occasion that he thought his books were in good hands with a devotee as passionate as Cogman making key decisions.

However, Cogman is not universally admired among Thrones fans, many of whom were especially turned off by the episode which gave Cogman his first full writer’s credit — the episode titled Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. That’s the one featuring Sansa Stark’s rape by Ramsay Bolton, which became a lightning rod for years after that.

The main job Cogman seems to have been there to do, according to a recent Vanity Fair profile of him, was to help maintain fidelity to Martin’s books, so we’ll have to wait for official word to see if he’s been given similar marching orders for LOTR — which would certainly make him a critical hire, indeed.

Image Source: New Line Cinema

Samsung pushes first software update for the Galaxy A70

The Samsung Galaxy A70 is one of the best all-around devices in the manufacturer’s lineup. It offers a large 6.7-inch Super AMOLED screen with the capable Snapdragon 675 chipset and a large 4,500 mAh battery. The phone is on sale already and now it’s treated to its first official OTA update.

The A705GMDDU1ASE4 update comes in at 376MB and brings camera, fingerprint and stability improvements.

Additionally, the Galaxy A70 is also treated to the May security patch. The camera now features an added Beauty Video mode and overall quality improvements. The fingerprint sensor has been overhauled with better recognition and there is a new accidental touch protection feature. The update is live in India and should arrive in other countries in the coming weeks.

Via

A New Approach To Updates: Windows 10 May 2019 Update Available Today

For those eager to get the latest and greatest production build of Windows 10; good news. For those who would rather watch from the sidelines until the kinks are worked out; good news. Today Microsoft has officially launched the spring 2019 update for Windows 10, affectionately called the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. There’s a few new features under the hood, but the biggest change to Windows 10 this time is not a new feature you may or may not use, but instead a new approach to updates, and after almost four years of users not being in control, Microsoft has put the control back in the hands of the people using their OS. Finally.

I’m not going to pine on about days gone past, but one of the biggest changes to Windows 10 when it launched was that the update system was going to be better. Improved. More reliable. Except it wasn’t. Some changes, such as the cumulative updates, have been a huge relief for people setting up new machines, since they no longer needed to update their computer for several days. An update comes every month which should have everything you need to get you to current in one batch. This was a win for end users. However, Windows 10 also brought about a new idea called feature updates, where occasionally, a new version of Windows would come down the same pipe as a normal update. Assuming everything was well tested, the update should install with little fanfare, but as we know that’s not been the case. Windows is on far too many machines to make any update easy, and Microsoft’s feedback mechanism for update issues was not being monitored as it needed to, which lead to multiple feature updates with enough major problems that even the last update from October is only now being pushed out to some machines.

So today we get Windows 10 1903, or the May 2019 Update, and home users will finally get an option to pause updates even if they are using Windows 10 Home. It’s a small step, but coupled with a very measured rollout, hopefully this will be the smooth update Microsoft has been craving for the last couple of years. For those looking for further transparency, Microsoft has a Windows release health dashboard, which shows the status of current known issues, letting you know ahead of time if you may have an incompatible piece of software or hardware.

There are of course new features as well, since this is in fact a feature update for Windows 10. There’s a new light theme, providing a refreshing look for Windows 10 which pairs nicely with the dark mode that arrived a couple of versions ago. Cortana is no longer part of the search bar, and now lives on its own app icon on the task bar. More default applications can now be removed.

There’s more complex features as well, such as Windows Sandbox, which allows you to run an

Now there’s a nasal spray that rapidly crushes depression

Depression affects the lives of a great many people and, while there are plenty of options on the table as far as treatment, many are slow-acting and take days or even weeks before a person feels the benefits. On top of that, a large percentage of people diagnosed with depression don’t respond to many modern treatments.

Now, a new treatment option is gaining acceptance among researchers, and it could provide rapid symptom relief for individuals who have a history of not responding well to other antidepressant medications. The treatment, a nasal spray called esketamine, is the subject of a new research paper published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The study was large in scope, including over 200 adults at dozens of outpatient health centers over nearly two years. Individuals who participated in the study were split into two groups. All of the individuals had reported a lack of response to previous treatment options, making them the perfect test subjects for the novel medication.

Half of the subjects were given the esketamine nasal spray in one of two strengths, along with a new oral antidepressant that varied from person to person. The other group was given a new oral antidepressant and a placebo nasal spray. At the end of the study, a clear difference was seen between the two groups, with the group who were given the esketamine spray reporting significantly greater symptom improvement after the 28-day trial.

“This trial of esketamine was one of the pivotal trials in the FDA’s review of this treatment for patients with treatment-resistant depression. Not only was adjunctive esketamine therapy effective, the improvement was evident within the first 24 hours,” Michael Thase, M.D., an author who participated in the study, said in a statement. “The novel mechanism of action of esketamine, coupled with the rapidity of benefit, underpin just how important this development is for patients with difficult to treat depression.”

As Thase explains, the new nasal spray just gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration thanks to this and other studies that showed its effectiveness at treating depressive disorders when combined with an oral antidepressant.

Image Source: Simone Brandt/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Google stored some business passwords as plain text

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AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Facebook isn’t the only big tech company found to be storing passwords in plain text. Google has warned G Suite users that an “error” in a password recovery implementation left some of their passwords unhashed on its internal systems since 2005 until that method was discontinued. Other plain passwords had been temporarily stored since January 2019, Google said. All those systems were encrypted, and there was “no evidence” that someone had misused the info, but it still raised the possibility that an intruder could have direct access to logins if they cracked the encryption.

The company isn’t taking any chances despite the lack of known breaches. It’s asking G Suite administrators to change passwords, and it’s automatically resetting passwords for those who do nothing. Consumer Google accounts aren’t affected by the flawed approach.

This, along with incidents at companies like Facebook and Twitter, underscores a mounting problem with internet security: poor security approaches from the past are coming back to

HQ Trivia's fourth season starts at 9 PM ET

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About a year and a half after it first popped up on our mobile screens, HQ Trivia is launching “season four” tonight at 9 PM ET with several gameplay tweaks and a refreshed cast of hosts. The trivia game streams live to player’s phones and offers real cash prizes, however now you don’t have to get all the way to the end to cash in. Instead players can choose to bank a smaller amount like $50 — or keep playing for the big prize.

It’s also adding occasional polls that ask players to collectively decide on topics for the game — good to potentially get the game into your areas of knowledge and for its makers to keep you engaged. Matt Richards is still the regular primetime host, a role he took over after the exit of Scott Rogowsky, with others like Sharon Carpenter, Anna Roisman and Lauren Gambino rotating in for special games or other events.

Last night’s season three finale

Canalys: China dominates smart speaker market in Q1

The smart speaker business is booming in China with a 500% year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2019. During the first four months, 10.6 million units were shipped helping China secure a 51% share of the global market. The US, on the other hand, saw only 5 million smart speaker sales for the same period with a 24% market share.

Baidu captured the top spot in the Chinese market due in large to an exclusive deal with the China Central Television (CCTV) channel. This, in turn, gave the brand exposure to a larger audience during the Chinese New Year holiday season. Alibaba, Xiaomi and Tencent also saw double-digit growth during the period.

The lightning-fast development in China is largely driven by vendors pouring in large amounts of capital to achieve dominant share quickly. This strategy is favored by internet service providers like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. – Nicole Peng (Canalys)

Xiaomi and Alibaba continued their growth from Q4 2018 thanks to similar promotions during the holiday season in China. In general, the Chinese brands are going for a broader reach over immediate profits, which also helped boost their sales.

On the other hand, Amazon and Google focused on improving their ecosystems and added hardware components in their products like screens and cameras.

Source | Via

Lawyers almost made 'click to accept TOS' boxes disappear forever

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dolphfyn via Getty Images

Could simply visiting a website bind you to its terms of service? Luckily, not in the near future. A controversial vote of the American Law Institute on Tuesday on a sweeping change to consumer contract law was postponed after hours of heated debate and not much consensus. If approved, the nearly 134-page Restatement Project would have opened the door for businesses to take data from unknowing consumers. Critics of the project, including consumer rights groups, more than 23 state attorneys general and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had called for it to be voted down.

A group of lawyers, professors & judges are about to vote on whether to subject consumers to abusive contracts they don’t negotiate and can’t opt out of. This dangerous proposal will shape decisions in courts across the country – it should be voted down. https://t.co/V6aVf2QYoz

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 21, 2019

An ALI spokesman told Engadget in an email that the vote

Comcast is working on an Amazon Echo rival that tracks your health

The cable giant everyone loves to hate is reportedly planning to expand into a hardware category dominated by Amazon and Google, with a device along those lines coming as soon as next year.

Comcast has been working for more than a year now on a healthcare-focused device described as similar to the Amazon Echo, which the company hopes to start a pilot test for later this year. That’s according to a Tuesday report from CNBC, which notes that the device as envisioned wouldn’t be used for tasks like turning on lights or surfing the web.

Instead, it would rely on ambient sensors to monitor user health. The idea being that it could see, for example, whether you’re getting up too often at night when you’re supposed to be sleeping to go to the bathroom — or, speaking of the bed, whether you spend too much time there. The device might also be useful in detecting when a user has slipped and fallen.

This project is apparently far enough along that Comcast is not only at work on the hardware but in talks with large hospitals like Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, according to the CNBC report. Reportedly of interest is the possibility of using the device to help cut down on frequent hospital re-entries by patients, which is something the federal government penalizes hospitals for when that happens too often.

This device wouldn’t be the first hardware offering from Comcast outside of the cable and Internet service it’s better known for among the general public. But while it has other products focused on areas like home security, this would be the company’s first direct foray into health care — an area the company has had its sights on for a while now, as its partnership launched last year with insurer Independence Health Group indicates.

One obvious challenge, of course, is that moving into health care pits Comcast against established competitors like Amazon and Google. That’s while Comcast is often mentioned as among the most “hated” companies in America, certainly a potential obstacle in getting users to feel comfortable enough to bring this into their home.

Image Source: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Apple's MacBook Update, a Self-Driving Mail Truck, and More News

Apple finally heard your keyboard complaints, USPS is ditching the drivers, and Google exposed some passwords. Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.

Today’s Headlines

Apple is finally fixing its keyboards

A year and a half after MacBook Pro users complained about their keyboards breaking, Apple is finally doing something about it. The company is making what it says is a material change to the keyboards in their new lineup of computers, and will also extend its keyboard repair program for those already out in the world.

USPS is testing out self-driving trucks

The United States Postal Service is preparing for the future by embarking on a self-driving truck test. Starting Tuesday, autonomous trucks built by startup TuSimple will begin hauling mail between Phoenix and Dallas. Don’t worry, there will still be a certified driver aboard to make sure it all goes smoothly.

Google accidentally exposed passwords for some corporate accounts

We already heard about Facebook leaving user passwords exposed, but now it’s Google’s turn. Today the company revealed it has been storing some passwords in plaintext … since 2005. But before you panic, know that the leak has really only exposed a small number of GSuite users (corporate accounts). Still, it’s probably a good idea to change your password to be safe.

Cocktail Conversation

It’s fairly well known that tech workers make quite a bit of money, but how much money do they make? And which companies pay the most? We took a look at the numbers, but for a little taste: The average Google employee makes $246,804. Amazon? $28,836.

WIRED Recommends: Vizio P-Series Quantum 4K TV

The age of 4K is upon us, and you’re going to need a TV that can handle it. This one has a super sharp display and can turn your home into a theater. You might want to add a soundbar, though.

More News You Can Use

Abortion bans create a public health nightmare.

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Oppo K3 price, hands-on photos and battery capacity leak

Oppo K3 is arriving on May 23, packing the back design of Oppo Reno, but featuring a more traditional pop-up camera, like the Realme X. Hands-on photos of the device leaked on Twitter, while, in the meantime, the company posted some more specs on its official Weibo page. The device will support VOOC 3.0 fast-charging for the 3,765 mAh battery.


Oppo K3 hands-on photos

The images pretty much confirm what we already know – OLED panel with Always-On Display support, Blue-Violet back that can be Gorilla Glass, but is more likely a transparent polycarbonate panel. The main camera is said to have an f/1.7 aperture, but the sensor details are yet to be revealed. We also see the ColorOS 6, but since the phone is initially launching in China, the first units will not have Google services.

Oppo K3 poster, teasing the retail price

Other known specs include a 6.5” screen with UD fingerprint scanner, Snapdragon 710 chipset and a price lower than CNY1899, so CNY1799 at most for the basic version. There is also an 8/256 GB variant on its way, but we doubt it will have such an attractive price tag. The final curtain will fall on Thursday and we’ll know the exact price, along with availability dates.

Source (in Chinese) | Via

Apple offers free repairs for 2016 MacBook Pros with faulty backlights

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Engadget

Apple isn’t just trying to fix the MacBook Pro’s keyboard. The company has launched a repair program that offers free fixes for 2016 13-inch MacBook Pros affected by an issue with flex cable stress (aka “Flexgate”) that produces a stage lighting effect on the display’s backlight before it eventually dies altogether. You won’t have to risk a costly out-of-warranty repair just to keep using your machine.

This might not be the end to the story. While 2018 and newer revisions use longer cables that shouldn’t be at risk, iFixit pointed out that 15-inch MacBook Pros from 2016 also appear to be affected. You aren’t necessarily out of luck, however. Apple is promising reimbursements for people who paid for repairs, so there’s a chance you might be covered if (and only if) it extends the program to more of its laptops.

Via: iFixit.org Source: Apple In this article: apple, computer, flexgate, gear, laptop, mac, macbook pro, personal computing,

This brand new Android flagship phone is even cheaper than the OnePlus 7

OnePlus unveiled the OnePlus 7 series last week, which includes two affordable flagships: The regular OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7 Pro. The latter is more expensive than previous OnePlus phones, but is still a lot cheaper than all the other flagships out there. Fast forward to May 21st, and we’ve got an even cheaper Android phone to show you. But given what just happened in the world of Android, you might want to avoid buying one for now.

That’s because the Honor brand is owned by Huawei — the same company that’s been hit with a massive ban on US tech in the past few days. Huawei has confirmed that it’ll continue to provide updates to all its existing phones, Honor models included, which is excellent news for existing customers

However, until the US and Huawei settle the matter once and for good, you might want to avoid the Honor 20 series, no matter how great these phones might look, and how affordable they might be.

Image Source: Honor

The Honor 20 series includes three separate models, the Honor 20 Lite, the Honor 20 and the Honor 20 Pro, with prices starting at €299 ($334) and €499 ($557) for the Honor 20 Lite and Honor 20, respectively. Strangely enough, the Honor 20 Pro doesn’t have a price for the time being.

The OnePlus 7 starts at €559 ($625) in Europe, while the cheapest OnePlus 7 Pro costs €709 ($792).

The Honor 20 packs a 6.26-inch hole-punch screen with 91.7% screen-to-body ratio, 7nm Kirin 980 processor (the same chip found inside the Huawei P30), 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, rear quad camera (48-megapixel, 16-megapixel super wide angle, 2-megapixel depth, and 2-megapixel macro cameras), 32-megapixel selfie camera, side-mounted fingerprint sensor, and 3,750 mAh battery with 22.5W SuperCharge support.

The quad camera also features an f/1.4 aperture, which is the industry’s largest, according to Honor, and a new AIS Super Night mode. The camera obtained a 111 DxOMark score, which is a camera review process that doesn’t measure camera performance completely objectively. One other notable technology, at least on paper, is the new Graphene cooling sheet technology which is meant to dissipate heat more efficiently.

The Pro model is similar to the regular one, but you’ll get 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, an 8-megapixel camera instead of the 2-megapixel depth lens, and a 4,000 mAh battery.

Image Source: Honor

Like the regular OnePlus, the Honor 20 Lite has a waterdrop notch design, although the Lite is certainly not as powerful as the OnePlus handset. The phone packs a Kirin 710 chip, 4GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, triple-lens camera, rear-facing fingerprint sensor, and 3,400 mAh battery.

When it comes to operating systems, the Lite runs EMUI 9.0 (based on Android 9.0), while the other two handsets pack Magic UI

Windows 10 May update brings light theme and more upgrade controls

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Cherlynn Low/Engadget

Microsoft is rolling out Windows 10’s May 2019 Update, and it should be good news if you’re hoping for a refreshed look — or just don’t care much for passwords. The most conspicuous change is the addition of a long-in-the-making light theme that brightens up the interface if you find it too grim. It also splits Cortana and search on the taskbar, although Windows Central noted that this appears to be more in spirit than in practice — you can still perform Cortana tasks in the search box.

Other additions are harder to see, but could make life considerably easier. You’ll have more control over installing updates, with the option to pause them for up to 35 days in week-long increments. And with Windows Hello now toting FIDO2 certification, you can sign into apps, devices and services using biometrics and PIN codes instead of passwords.

The update is deploying in a staggered fashion as we write this, although there’s an important warning:

Lenovo Z6 Youth Edition launching on May 22, key specs revealed

Lenovo announced the Z6 Pro flagship smartphone last month with Snapdragon 855 SoC and four cameras. And now, the company is all set to launch a toned down variant of this smartphone called the Lenovo Z6 Youth Edition on May 22.

The Lenovo Z6 Youth Edition is already available for pre-order on the company’s official website, and its listing confirms features like triple rear cameras, waterdrop-notch display, and a dual-frequency GPS.

Furthermore, the smartphone will come with a gradient design, a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, as well as HDR10 and Dolby Atmos support. It will ship with a 4,050 mAh battery which we hope will charge through a USB-C port.

Lenovo VP Chang Cheng also shared an image on Chinese social network Weibo which confirms these specifications in addition to confirming Snapdragon 710 SoC and 8x hybrid zoom on this smartphone.

We will hopefully learn more about the pricing, availability, and the rest of the hardware of the Lenovo Z6 Youth Edition tomorrow.

Source 1, 2 (both in Chinese) | Via