AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by James Delahunty

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This Instagram tool blocks offensive, abusive DM requests

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Apr 2021 11:03

This Instagram tool blocks offensive, abusive DM requests Instagram has provided users with a way to block out abusive messages that are sent as DM requests on its platform.

While people can avoid abusive or offensive messages in DMs on Instagram by limiting who can contact them, many users report getting abusive messages via the DM request inbox on Instagram.

A new tool can now be used that will automatically filter DM requests containing offensive words, phrases, and emojis, so you never have to see them. It will work in a similar way to the comment filters that are already available on Instagram.

Instagram worked with anti-discrimination and anti-bullying organizations to develop a predefined list of offensive terms that will be filtered from DM requests when the feature is turned on. There is also the option to create your own custom list of words, phrases, or emojis that you don't want to see in your DM requests.

All DM requests that contain these offensive words, phrases, or emojis - whether from your custom list or the predefined list - will be automatically filtered into a separate hidden requests folder. If you choose to open the folder, the message text will be covered so you're not confronted with offensive language, unless you tap to uncover it.


AfterDawn: News

Resident Evil 4 VR coming to Oculus Quest 2 this year

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Apr 2021 10:59

Resident Evil 4 VR coming to Oculus Quest 2 this year Sixteen-year-old classic RE4 has been demonstrated ahead of its release for the Oculus Quest 2.

Originally released for the GameCube, Resident Evil 4 is a beloved classic of the horror series and has been ported several times already. This year it is getting the Oculus VR makeover, and we now have a glimpse of what that will look and feel like.

Weapons, ammo, and items are physical objects in the game you can reach out to manipulate or pick up. Drawing a weapon can be done with your hand rather than a menu, along with the act of reloading.

You can move Leon from your first-person perspective using the controllers or you can use a new teleportation feature that makes it easy to skip Leon's movement forward.

The game can be run at a higher framerate than the original 30FPS also, and all original characters and textures have been ported to Unreal Engine 4. More details will be available soon ahead of its launch later this year.

Take a look at the demo:

AfterDawn: News

WATCH: Enhanced video of Mars helipcopter flight

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Apr 2021 10:54

WATCH: Enhanced video of Mars helipcopter flight There is now an enhanced version of Monday's historic first powered flight from the Martian surface.

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter made history this week when it powered up and lifted off on the surface of Mars. The brief excursion into Mars' thin atmosphere is the first time a human-made device has taken powered flight from the surface of another planet, even if it was just a short hop into the air. It is important to state it is the first powered flight, as the Soviet Union achieved the first balloon flight in the atmosphere of Venus in 1985.

The first images of Ingenuity were grainy and choppy and were followed by a better video. However, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory channel on YouTube has uploaded an enhanced video with more detail.

It actually contains two separate recordings of the event, presented side by side. The view on the left uses motion filtering to show where dust was detected during liftoff and landing and the view on the right is enhanced with the motion filtering.

Here is the video:


AfterDawn: News

Free-to-play games on Xbox no longer require Gold subscription

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Apr 2021 10:53

Free-to-play games on Xbox no longer require Gold subscription Several dozen popular free-to-play games can now be enjoyed on Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X without an Xbox Live Gold subscription.

Popular titles including Call of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends, Fortnite, Rocket League, Roblox, and many more were limited to paying Xbox Live Gold subscribers up until now. Microsoft is known to have been testing the change for weeks.

Additionally, Xbox party chat and the Looking For Groups (LFG) have been similarly liberated from the premium tier.

The move comes after Microsoft irked gamers with a planned doubling of the yearly cost of an Xbox Live subscription earlier this year. It also happens as Microsoft is phasing out the branding of Xbox Live, to be replaced by Xbox network.

AfterDawn: News

SpaceX: Starlink satellite didn't almost collide with rival sat

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Apr 2021 10:48

SpaceX: Starlink satellite didn't almost collide with rival sat SpaceX has denied recent reports of a near-miss incident involving one of its Internet-beaming Starlink satellites, and one belonging to rival OneWeb.

The news has reignited concerns about the ambitious plans of SpaceX and others to launch arrays of satellites into low-Earth orbit in order to provide low-latency, high-speech broadband services. Critics warn that launching too many satellites into low Earth orbit increases the risk of collisions that could produce large amounts of dangerous space junk, inhibiting future space operations.

There are also concerns about the presence of satellite constellations in orbit and the effect it will have on ground-based astronomy.

In recent days news spread about a close call between a Starlink satellite, operated by SpaceX, and a OneWeb satellite. In a filing, SpaceX essentially accuses OneWeb of spreading false information about what actually occurred.

The initial reports stated that SpaceX has turned off its collision avoidance system when its satellite came within 190 feet of the OneWeb satellite on April 2. OneWeb had performed a maneuver and avoided a collision. Representatives of SpaceX and OneWeb met with FCC staff since the incident.


AfterDawn: News

Spotify to continue deleting Joe Rogan podcast episodes, according to report

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Apr 2021 12:44

Spotify to continue deleting Joe Rogan podcast episodes, according to report According to a report from Digital Music News last week, Spotify will resume removing Joe Rogan Experience podcasts from its inventory.

The popular podcast made the jump to Spotify at the end of 2020, with the Swedish streaming platform securing exclusivity over the existing catalog and new episodes. Some older episodes still remain on YouTube, while Spotify decided against bringing over several dozen podcast episodes. Additionally, clips from new podcast episodes are still uploaded to YouTube.

Spotify has reportedly removed 42 episodes of the podcast which features guests including provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, comedian Chris D'Elia, and more. While Spotify did not bring over old episodes featuring Alex Jones, it still has a more recent episode online with Mr. Jones and comedian Tim Dillan, which Rogan himself described as a "big test."

The popular podcaster, comedian, and UFC commentator clashed with Spotify employees shortly after the transition to the service. Reports circulated that Spotify employees were demanding editing oversight be given to Spotify staffers, that trigger warnings be displayed for some episodes, as well as clarifications by "fact-checkers."


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft 'Cloud PC' could be coming this summer

Written by James Delahunty @ 21 Apr 2021 12:40

Microsoft 'Cloud PC' could be coming this summer According to a report, Microsoft may be preparing to launch its Cloud PC service as soon as this summer.

Codenamed 'Project Deschutes', Microsoft sees potential in offering the familiar Windows Desktop environment as a service to subscribers. With this Cloud PC service, customers could use their devices to access a remote Desktop running atop Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform.

Of course, familiar Microsoft products such as Office 365 would likely be accessible through the service. Believed to be in testing now, the Cloud PC service may roll out as soon as June or July, reports ZDNet.

Leaks have revealed that Microsoft is planning multiple options for potential subscribers designated Medium, Heavy, and Advanced. The three separate options would vary based on the allocated CPU capacity, RAM capacity, and storage space.

Another potential use for the Cloud PC service is to allow customers running Windows 10X devices to run Win32 applications. Windows 10x is an upcoming operating system that will target the Chrome OS market, and it will not run standard Win32 applications.


AfterDawn: News

Musk: Autopilot was off before fatal Tesla crash in Texas

Written by James Delahunty @ 20 Apr 2021 11:45

Musk: Autopilot was off before fatal Tesla crash in Texas Tesla chief Elon Musk revealed that the data from a fatal car accident involving a Tesla Model S showed the car was not on autopilot at the time.

Police responded to reports of a serious car accident near The Woodlands, about 30 miles north of Houston, on Saturday night. The vehicle, a Tesla Model S, veered off the road and hit a tree at high speed before igniting, killing two occupants.

According to deputies, there was nobody in the driving seat at the time that the vehicle veered into the tree. Emergency services fought the fire using more than 30,000 gallons of water, as the damaged battery kept reigniting. At some point during the four-hour effort to put out the fire, Tesla has to be contacted for instruction on how to quench the flames.

Predictably, the details of the incident prompted questions about the safety of vehicle automation, and Texas authorities revealed they will secure data from the vehicle from Tesla with a warrant.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has responded to the incident and subsequent reports publicly, however. He did so using the platform he usually uses to respond to media reports, Twitter!

In a response Tweet, Musk revealed that the data from the accident shows that Autopilot was not engaged at the time of the accident. Furthermore, the vehicle did not have the full self-drive capabilities, which can be purchased as an add-on for a $10,000 fee. FSD enables compatible Tesla's to automatically change lanes and self-park.


AfterDawn: News

Netflix blames COVID-19 impact for subscriber growth lag

Written by James Delahunty @ 20 Apr 2021 11:20

Netflix blames COVID-19 impact for subscriber growth lag The COVID-19 pandemic can be blamed for both good news and bad news at Netflix!

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it confined most of us to our homes and dramatically increased our demand for online and streaming media. Netflix rode a wave of soaring subscriptions as a bored public sought an escape from the constant reminder of our predicament.

In 2020, Netflix added a whopping 36.5 million new subscribers globally which easily its best year for subscriber growth. By contrast, 2019 had seen a decline in growth from 28.6 million to 27.8 million the previous year.

While more users were signing on to the service, Netflix was hit by the same production problems as others in the industry. Filming of its popular TV shows and much of its new movies and other content ground to a halt as COVID-19 restrictions also kept directors, producers, actors, studio engineers, writers, and everyone else required for production at home.

In the first quarter of 2021, Netflix recorded just shy of 4 million new subscribers, down dramatically from over 15 million for the same period a year earlier. Worse, it warned shareholders that it only expects to add just 1 million new subscribers in Q2.

The streaming giant attributes the dramatically cut in subscriber growth to the delay of new content going to the service - a delay caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft's billions fail to sway Discord

Written by James Delahunty @ 20 Apr 2021 11:15

Microsoft's billions fail to sway Discord Social and messaging platform Discord is walking away from talks over a multi-billion dollar deal with Redmond-giant Microsoft.

Discord witnessed rapid growth last year as more people were staying at home as part of COVID-19 restrictions. The service enables users to gather in public or private channels to chat, post images and other media, and also to Direct Message each other.

Voice chat is also supported, as is the ability to share screens or camera feeds. Discord servers dedicated to a single topic (tv shows, sports teams, musical artists, video games, etc.) are very popular, and the company earns revenue by selling premium Nitro subscriptions at $9.99 per month, or $99.99 for the year.

Nitro members can "boost" servers to unlock extra features, and also have access to exclusive emojis and other benefits. In 2020, Discord reported revenue of over $130 million driven by Nitro subscriptions.

Microsoft has been looking to expand its web services in recent years. It scooped up video games outfit ZeniMax Media in a $7.5 billion deal last month. Additionally, it acquired Nuance Communications and its AI and speech recognition technology, for $16 billion this month.

However, these acquisitions came on the back of its public failure to buy TikTok almost a year ago.


AfterDawn: News

Apple opens all US stores for the first time since COVID-19 pandemic began

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Mar 2021 11:47

Apple opens all US stores for the first time since COVID-19 pandemic began Apple Inc has opened all of its 270 US-based stores for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Over the past year, Apple has been cautious and reactive in the operation of its stores in the United States. In order to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the iPhone maker has not had all of its U.S. stores open at any time.

Instead, Apple has relied on local information and public health policies. In some cases, Apple has decided to shut stores even when it is technically permitted to keep them operating under local health policies.

It also took other measures such as its Express format, which allowed it to sell some items outside the store at sales counters protected by plexiglass.

With the recent opening of several stores in Texas, Apple now has all of its stores opened although some may still have limitations, such as a requirement to make appointments for in-store shopping.

AfterDawn: News

COVID-19: Twitter will punish users for vaccine misinformation

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Mar 2021 11:37

COVID-19: Twitter will punish users for vaccine misinformation Twitter has detailed how it will target users for misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out around the world and central to most government's plans to curb their viral epidemics. With such large numbers of inoculations required to make an impact, it is not surprising there is a lot of confusion and questions about the new vaccines on offer.

Nowadays social media platforms will fill a void with information of varying quality and accuracy. The question of how to balance the rights of users to share information freely and protect against the spread of misinformation has been around long before the COVID-19, but the pandemic has focused attention on the problem.

Social media firms have already punished users for what they deemed to be misinformation regarding the pandemic itself. Since introducing its COVID-19 guidance, Twitter has removed around 8,400 tweets and challenged 11.5 million accounts.

Following Facebook and others, Twitter is now taking aim at COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on its platform. It will target infringing content with labels, strikes, suspensions, and permanent bans.

A tweet that is deemed to be spreading misinformation will be labeled in much the same way Twitter labeled tweets in the aftermath of the 2020 US President Elections. Tweets subjected to the label cannot be re-tweeted by others (but can be quote-tweeted) and will contain a link to authoritative information on vaccines.


AfterDawn: News

Amazon Music available for Android TV, Google TV

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Feb 2021 1:48

Amazon Music available for Android TV, Google TV Users of Android TV and Google TV set-top devices can use Amazon Music properly from today.

Amazon Music is now available for set-top boxes and other devices running Android TV or Google TV from today with the release of an updated app. Until now, Amazon Music on Android TV has been restricted to the Nvidia Shield TV, while more limited casting could be performed from Android mobile devices.

For now, the rollout of the app is limited to the U.S., U.K., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, India, Japan, and Australia. It is available for both premium and free users. Premium users have full ad-free access to their library, similar to rivals like Spotify.

Users with no premium account can access ad-supported playlists and radio stations.

You can get the Amazon Music app for Android TV and Google TV from the Play Store.

AfterDawn: News

Pokemon Go cheaters get warnings, permanent bans

Written by James Delahunty @ 25 Feb 2021 1:35

Pokemon Go cheaters get warnings, permanent bans Niantic has targeted more than five million players identified by its anti-cheat system, some of whom have received permanent bans.

The developer has provided details on actions it has taken against players of Pokemon Go, Ingress, and Harry Potter Wizards Unite. In total, more than five million have been targeted since last year, and of them, around 20 percent have been banned permanently for persistent offenses.

"More than 90% of users who received their first warning, stopped cheating afterward. This is quite encouraging for us, as we continue to find the right balance between punishing casual cheaters versus the more egregious ones," the developer wrote on a blog.

"We are committed to ensuring fair gameplay across our game portfolio. Every day newer forms of cheating or spoofing tools are made available on the internet, and we are continuously working to combat these cheaters and focus on improving our detection and enforcement; as they have no place in our games."

Niantic has also reminded players only to download the official versions of its games from Google Play, the Apple App Store, and Samsung Galaxy Store. Furthermore, it stresses that jailbroken and rooted devices are unsupported.


AfterDawn: News

Signal offers free encrypted video calls

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Dec 2020 2:41

Signal offers free encrypted video calls Signal has expanded its end-to-end encrypted communications to include video group calls.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to embrace video conferencing software for everything from school classrooms to corporate meetings.

Earlier in the year, Zoom came under fire after it was found its video was not subject to end-to-end encryption as had been claimed. There were also other security concerns that hit the service, which grew significantly during the pandemic.

Now, encrypted messaging app Signal has added group video chats to its line-up and like everything else it offers, it benefits from end-to-end encryption.

"Today, we're launching group calls in Signal with the latest versions of our apps. Group calls are free, private, and end-to-end encrypted," Signal's announcement reads.

A video call button will now be added to the top of group chats. When you start or join a group call, Signal will display the participants in a grid view. You can also swipe up to switch to a view that automatically focuses the screen on who is speaking, and it will update in real-time as the active speaker changes.

Free group calls are available starting today as long as the Signal app has been updated to the latest version. You won't see the call button in your legacy groups, but your legacy Signal groups will start automatically updating to New Groups in the coming weeks.


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