AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by James Delahunty

AfterDawn: News

Matrix 4 is coming with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss

Written by James Delahunty @ 20 Aug 2019 10:18

Matrix 4 is coming with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss A decade and a half after the third installment of the Matrix trilogy, a fourth in the series has been announced.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss - Neo and Trinity - will return for The Matrix 4 which is to begin production in early 2020. Lana Wachowski is set to direct the fourth film, written by Wachowski, Aleksandar Hemon, and David Mitchell.

"We could not be more excited to be re-entering 'The Matrix' with Lana," Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich said, reports Variety.

"Lana is a true visionary -- a singular and original creative filmmaker -- and we are thrilled that she is writing, directing and producing this new chapter in 'The Matrix' universe."

Wachowski noted that many of the ideas she explored with her sister Lilly when they wrote and directed the Matrix trilogy movies a couple of decades ago are more relevant now than they were then. This is undoubtedly true with artificial intelligence and even theories of simulated realities being in the mainstream.

AfterDawn: News

Facebook digital currency faces antitrust probe in EU

Written by James Delahunty @ 20 Aug 2019 10:13

Facebook digital currency faces antitrust probe in EU European Union regulators are to investigate Facebook and its upcoming 'Libra' digital currency for potential anticompetitive behavior.

Bloomberg reported the story on Tuesday after seeing an official document that detailed a European Commission investigation into potential anti-competitive behavior related to Facebook's proposed Libra digital currency.

The concerns surround the exchange of information and the use of consumer data and who it is limited to, with an eye on the integration of Libra-based applications into WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Libra is supported to launch globally in 2020.

This is only the latest in a slew of probes into Libra from authorities around the world, whose concerns range from the amassing and use of consumer data to the threat to the financial system that digital currencies pose.

AfterDawn: News

OnePlus reveals logo for 'OnePlus TV' smart television

Written by James Delahunty @ 14 Aug 2019 4:17

OnePlus reveals logo for 'OnePlus TV' smart television Ahead of its foray into the smart television space, OnePlus has revealed a predictable name for its upcoming product and revealed the logo.

Having asked users on its forums for name suggestions for a smart television over a year ago, the folks at OnePlus have decided to keep it simple and go with OnePlus TV. The first lucky person to suggest the name in the contest held by OnePlus will still receive a big prize, of course.

"Honestly, it was harder than you could imagine during the naming process as we have seen so many creative names which made it a difficult decision. Eventually, we chose to be true to our core values, but we are thankful for all the suggestions from you," wrote dsmonteiro on the OnePlus forums.

Unfortunately, there are no tech specs or any indication of when we will see a OnePlus TV product, but we are told to 'stay tuned' as there is more exciting news coming soon.

For now, though, the firm has unveiled the logo for its OnePlus TV products.


AfterDawn: News

Facebook employees listened to Messenger conversations, transcribed them

Written by James Delahunty @ 14 Aug 2019 4:03

Facebook employees listened to Messenger conversations, transcribed them Facebook has confirmed that some of its workers were tasked with listening to audio snippets from Messenger conversations.

Just as had been revealed at Google and Apple, employees at Facebook reportedly listened to snippets of audio and were tasked with transcribing them. According to a report from Bloomberg, the Facebook employees were not told where the audio they were transcribing was coming from.

The purpose of such transcribing is to aid artificial intelligence systems to improve automatic voice to text transcription for users as a service if they required it.

Facebook insists that the recordings of the audio were only made when users had opted into transcription service and given permission for microphone access. However, the social network giant followed Apple and Google and paused human review of audio more than a week ago.

Regulators around the world will now probe the practice at Facebook and others. In the European Union, the Irish regulator has already confirmed that it is seeking information from Facebook.

"Further to our ongoing engagement with Google, Apple and Microsoft in relation to the processing of personal data in the context of the manual transcription of audio recordings, we are now seeking detailed information from Facebook on the processing in question and how Facebook believes that such processing of data is compliant with their GDPR obligations," the commission said in a statement sent to Reuters.

AfterDawn: News

New Xbox promises fast frame rates, cross-gen gaming, controller compatibility and more

Written by James Delahunty @ 13 Aug 2019 8:34

New Xbox promises fast frame rates, cross-gen gaming, controller compatibility and more In an interview with GameSpot, Xbox boss Phil Spencer shared some extra details about Microsoft's goals for the next Xbox generation.

Project Scarlett was detailed in some ways at E3 this year when Microsoft said that it would be approximately four times as powerful as the Xbox One X. Besides providing for better graphics, Spencer said they are focused on how smoothly games run on the new system, with a view toward ensuring the maximum frame rate at 4K.

"People love 60 frames-per-second games, so getting games to run at 4K 60 [FPS] I think will be a real design goal for us.," Spencer said, while also emphasizing the desire to have games load incredibly fast.

Beyond that, there is also good news for those who care about backward compatibility.

"Making sure that all four generations of content--so the original Xbox games that run on your Xbox One today, the OG Xbox; the 360 games that run on your Xbox One; your Xbox One games; and the new generation games--all run on the next platform is important to us," Spencer said.

He also confirmed that cross-generational play will be supported, so you can continue to play against others on older hardware. Additionally, Spencer said Microsoft is aiming to make sure that controllers bought for the Xbox One X will be compatible with newer hardware.


AfterDawn: News

Tech firms face large fines over harmful videos

Written by James Delahunty @ 12 Aug 2019 6:35

Tech firms face large fines over harmful videos Video sharing apps and platforms may soon face very large fines if it is determined they fail to prevent vulnerable people from accessing harmful content.

Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, may soon have the power to fine tech companies millions of pounds if it determines the firms are failing to tackle harmful videos. Such videos could include adult-oriented content that is unsuitable for younger people, or videos depicting serious violence.

Such new fines are under consideration as part of the UK's adoption of the European Union's Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), but the UK may not have to comply with the directive at all as it is set to exit the EU on October 31.

"If the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, we will not be bound to transpose the AVMSD into UK law," a spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, confirmed to the BBC.

Regardless, it was reportedly agreed before the summer break that Ofcom should be able to find firms up to 5 percent of its revenues or even outright block them in the country if they don't comply with certain rulings. Ofcom is keen on getting such strong regulatory powers.


AfterDawn: News

Russia warns Google over YouTube videos and notifications

Written by James Delahunty @ 12 Aug 2019 6:24

Russia warns Google over YouTube videos and notifications Roscomnadzor has warned Google to stop promoting 'illegal mass events' through YouTube as protesters target the government.

Russia has seen some of its largest protests in years ahead of elections in Moscow. Some opposition political candidates have been blocked from taking part in the elections, sparking demonstrations which have since widened to protests against the Russian government.

The communications regulator in Russia, Roscomnadzor, sent a letter to Google complaining about the use of its platform to organize and raise awareness about 'illegal mass events'. It says that some YouTube users have been buying advertisements on YouTube and using push notifications to spread information about the protests.

If Google fails to respond and address the issue, Roscomnadzor warned that it will be seen as interfering in the country's sovereign affairs.

Russia has introduced tough laws in recent years that can force search providers to remove results, messaging services to share encryption keys, and social networks to retain users' personal data on servers within the country.

Source: Reuters

AfterDawn: News

Android comes to Switch with unofficial ROM

Written by James Delahunty @ 29 Jul 2019 6:29

Android comes to Switch with unofficial ROM The first publicly available Android ROM for Nintendo Switch has been released by developers at XDA.

The unofficial firmware is based on LineageOS 15.1 (Android 8.1 Oreo) and works with compatible Switch models only. For this to work, you would need to be able to boot into hekate, which newer Switch models probably won't be. Since the firmware is based Nvidia Shield TV trees, Tegra-exclusives like Borderlands and Half Life 2 should run.

Given it is the first release, there are some known and significant bugs of course. Battery life is not great due to a deep sleep issue. Auto-rotation isn't working since the developers haven't figured out how to "talk" to the sensor yet. The console charges but the charging itself isn't detected. Some apps cannot take input from the Joy-cons yet and so on.

There is a full list of features and bugs on the dedicated thread at XDA-Developers. It also walks you through the process of installing the custom ROM on your SD card and running it on the Switch. Additionally, there is a helpful Q&A and a changelog that you should keep an eye on.


AfterDawn: News

Online requirement for 'Doom' ports on PS4, Xbox One, Switch to be removed

Written by James Delahunty @ 29 Jul 2019 6:27

Online requirement for 'Doom' ports on PS4, Xbox One, Switch to be removed Last week, Bethesda dropped the three original Doom titles on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Android and iOS but faced backlash over a login requirement.

Doom, Doom II, and Doom III ports arrived for the PS4, Xbox One and Switch last week. The first two titles are also available for iOS and Android, but not Doom III for now. The arrival of the classics was a welcome announcement, though it had been leaked beforehand accidentally by Nintendo's eShop.

However, the released faced some backlash from gamers almost immediately when he became clear you needed a BethesdaNet account to login in order to get started. Effectively, this meant that to play the old classic games which emerged when Internet access was far less prevalent, you needed to be online.

Bethesda responded quickly to the complaints and explained that the login requirement was included for the Slayers Club, to reward members for playing the classic DOOM games.

"The login should be optional, and we are working on changing the requirement to optional now," Bethesda announced on social media. "We will update everyone when a fix is ready."

There was also a few complaints related to some graphical changes made to the ports and problems with the music tempo on Switch.


AfterDawn: News

Researcher who fought WannaCry avoids prison for banking malware offenses

Written by James Delahunty @ 29 Jul 2019 6:21

Researcher who fought WannaCry avoids prison for banking malware offenses A researcher who is credited with impeding the spread of WannaCry ransomware in 2017 has been spared imprisonment for involvement in banking malware.

WannaCry was used in a worldwide cyberattack in May 2017. It has been blamed on the North Korean regime and relied on an NSA-developed exploit called EternalBlue. The exploit had been leaked online by a group called the Shadow Brokers in the months before WannaCry emerged. It targeted a vulnerability present in older and unpatched versions of Microsoft Windows.

As a result of its spread, governmental organizations and private institutions were hit with damages estimated in the hundreds of millions, to billions of dollars. In the UK for example, the National Health Service (NHS) was hit with outages that caused the cancellation of appointments and procedures for patients.

In response to WannaCry, Microsoft issued emergency patches for end-of-life products like Windows XP to stop the spread of the infection. However, a Kill Switch was also discovered that would prevent newly-infected computers from spreading WannaCry any further. Researcher Marcus Hutchins discovered the kill switch in WannaCry, finding that it only encrypted files on an infected system and propagated further if it was unable to connect to a specific domain.


AfterDawn: News

Amazon drops Jack Ryan season 2 teaser

Written by James Delahunty @ 29 Jul 2019 6:17

Amazon drops Jack Ryan season 2 teaser A teaser trailer has dropped for the hotly anticipated Amazon Prime Video exclusive Jack Ryan's second season, hinting at more action for the protagonist.

The Amazon Prime Video exclusive follows titular protagonist Jack Ryan, a CIA agent created by Tom Clancy and depicted by John Krasinski, along with other characters from Clancy's Ryanverse. In Season 1, Ryan is elevated from his cozy desk job into the field when he sees banking activity related to an extremist called Suleiman, kicking off a series of events in the middle east and in the United States.

In the second season of the well-received TV adaption, Jack Ryan finds himself up against forces in power in a dangerous, declining region of South America. The first teaser for Jack Ryan season 2 was released by Amazon this weekend and it promises more action to test our protagonist.

The teaser is short, but still manages to show us an airborne insertion and Ryan having to grapple with the aftermath of an improvided explosive device (IED). There is also a clearly political element to the second season in the teaser.

There is no release date or time frame attached to the teaser right now, but it's still worth a watch to see what we can look forward to.


AfterDawn: News

YouTube, Netflix coming to Tesla vehicles

Written by James Delahunty @ 27 Jul 2019 5:17

YouTube, Netflix coming to Tesla vehicles All-electric car maker will bring Netflix and YouTube video streaming to its vehicles soon, Elon Musk confirms.

Tesla's cars have large screens on the dash that you can use to control pretty much everything about the vehicle. The screens can also be used to access easter eggs and extra features, and even to play video games that have been ported to the OS.

This is particularly useful when a driver is sat at a charging station waiting for their EV to get its juice.

Soon Tesla will also add YouTube and Netflix functionality to its vehicles, providing more content for when a car is charging up. When it first arrives, the streaming will only be available when a vehicle is completely stopped.

However, Tesla chief Elon Musk said that eventually the car will support streaming content when regulators approve self-driving capabilities, turning a Tesla vehicle into a moving entertainment center that ferries you around.

AfterDawn: News

Samsung's Galaxy Fold set for launch after screen issues

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Jul 2019 7:37

Samsung's Galaxy Fold set for launch after screen issues Samsung has revealed that it is preparing to launch the Galaxy Fold, its first foldable smartphone, in the coming months.

The launch of the almost $2,000 foldable smartphone was delayed after reviewers experience serious problems with the device. Some experienced screen damage after moderate use while others said the hinges that enabled the folding of the device failed.

Samsung has strengthened the hinges and worked on the screen issues and is currently conducting final tests ahead of a planned launch in September. In the first year, it intends to make around 1 million units of the high-end smartphone.

The South Korean giant hopes that the foldable device and future derivatives of it may revive slowing smartphone sales across the world. It had hoped that the Fold would provide an early boost in revenue during the summer season, but April's problems forced the company to hold back.

Given the early issues with the device, the launch may struggle to convince prospective buyers to be early adopters, rather than waiting to see if the issues have been really fixed.

AfterDawn: News

Report: Huawei secretly worked on North Korean wireless network

Written by James Delahunty @ 23 Jul 2019 5:54

Report: Huawei secretly worked on North Korean wireless network The Washington Post reports that under-fire Chinese electronics firm Huawei had secretly worked with the North Korean regime to build the country's wireless network.

It has received documents from a former Huawei employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, that shows a secret partnership between Huawei and Panda International Information Technology Co. Ltd., which is NK's state-owned firm. They show that Huawei aided in building the country's commercial wireless network.

The Washington Post also received materials from other sources related to the activity.

Already subject to a blacklist due to its links to the Chinese communist government and potentially being excluded from 5G rollouts in Western countries, Huawei will now be under-fire for potentially violating U.S. export controls. The firm uses American technology in its components and North Korea is subject to U.S. sanctions due to its nuclear program.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Huawei denied it has any business presence in North Korea and said it was "fully committed to complying with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including all export control and sanction laws and regulations", of the UN, US and EU.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft pumps $1 billion into OpenAI

Written by James Delahunty @ 23 Jul 2019 5:50

Microsoft pumps $1 billion into OpenAI OpenAI and Microsoft will work together to develop new Azure AI supercomputing technologies in pursuit of artificial general intelligence.

OpenAI was originally co-founded by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in late 2015, but he later departed the group to work with NeuraLink. Its goal was to create safe, ethical general-purpose AI that can serve the needs of the general public, and alleviate concerns about existential risks associated with super-intelligent machines.

In the meantime, OpenAI has made some news headlines for developing artificial intelligence that can best human gamers in certain games.

With Microsoft's investment, the two companies will focus on building a computational platform in Azure of unprecedented scale, which will train and run increasingly advanced AI models, include hardware technologies that build on Microsoft's supercomputing technology.

Microsoft will become OpenAI's preferred partner for commercializing new AI technologies.

"AI is one of the most transformative technologies of our time and has the potential to help solve many of our world's most pressing challenges," said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

"By bringing together OpenAI's breakthrough technology with new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, our ambition is to democratize AI -- while always keeping AI safety front and center -- so everyone can benefit."

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