Tech News Feed

Disneyland Unveils New 'Magic Key' Annual Passes at Higher Prices - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 17:54
Renewals -- but no new sales -- of the passes have begun, with a few changes and price increases.

PlayStation PC launcher references found in 'Marvel's Spider-Man: Remastered' code

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-16 17:47

Like Blizzard, Rockstar and Ubisoft, Sony may soon require you to download a launcher before you can play its games on PC. Digging through the Windows version of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered, VGC verified code referencing a PlayStation PC launcher. The discovery follows the recent revelation that Sony likely plans to add PlayStation Network integration to its PC titles.

If Sony moves forward with the launcher, it’s unclear if the company also plans to make its games exclusive to the software. At the moment, you can buy all of Sony’s PC titles through both Steam and the Epic Games Store. Different publishers employ different strategies. For instance, Blizzard games are only available to download through the Battle.Net app. Other companies such as EA and Rockstar allow you to buy and download their games through Steam and the Epic Games Store, but you must also install their software for verification purposes. Even if Sony were to go the latter route, it’s almost certain its launcher would include a storefront. In that way, the company could avoid giving Valve and Epic a cut of some of its PC sales.

Amazon is Raising Seller Fees For the Holidays To Manage Through Surging Inflation

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-16 17:22
In its latest effort to contend with soaring inflation, Amazon is planning to raise fulfillment fees during the holiday season, passing off some of its increased costs to the millions of merchants who rely on the site to sell their products. From a report: Starting Oct. 15, and running through Jan. 14, third-party sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA, will have to pay 35 cents per item sold in the U.S. or Canada, the company said Tuesday in an email to sellers. For merchants using FBA, Amazon handles the process of picking, packing and shipping items. The holiday fee comes on top of existing charges that sellers pay for using FBA services. Those costs vary depending on an item's size, category and weight. Amazon said it's implementing an added holiday surcharge for the first time as "expenses are reaching new heights," making it harder for the company to absorb costs tied to the peak shopping season. "Our selling partners are incredibly important to us, and this is not a decision we made lightly," Amazon said in the email. Amazon's third-party marketplace has become the centerpiece of its dominant e-commerce business, as it now accounts for more than half of online retail sales. Because of Amazon's global reach and massive customer base, many retailers count on the company for the majority, and in some cases the entirety, of their business.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Best Car Air Fresheners for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 17:00
Whether you simply want a nice clean scent, or you want to keep the car fresh for ride-sharing purposes, these are our top picks.

Activision Blizzard accused of spying on protesting workers

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:45

Activision Blizzard is still receiving complaints over alleged labor violations. The Communications Workers of America union (CWA) has filed an unfair labor practice charge accusing the game developer of illegally surveilling workers during a July walkout protest over gender inequity. The company also denied access to a chat channel discussing working conditions and otherwise cut off internal avenues for discussing labor, the CWA said.

In statements to Engadget, Activision Blizzard generally dismissed the assertions. It said the chat accusations were false, and that the CWA's long-running characterization "willfully ignores the facts" while preventing the company from protecting workers against abuse. The company also argued that its only overseers for walkouts were public relations staffers standing at a "respectful distance" to answer questions from the press.

The company previously said it was cooperating with investigations into its workplace practices and has argued that employees could speak freely about their workplace situations. However, the CWA maintained that the Call of Duty publisher has made "continued efforts" to stifle labor organizers, such as refusing to recognize a quality assurance union and hiring the union-busting law firm Reed Smith.

The charge is the latest in a string of labor-related accusations beyond the sexual harassment scandal that began much of the current uproar. The CWA filed a charge in June claiming Activision Blizzard broke labor law by firing QA contractors. In May, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined there was merit behind allegations the company was threatening labor organizers. Multiple reports have also circulated claims that the gaming giant has been pushing anti-union messages.

The new complaint doesn't necessarily change Activision Blizzard's predicament. The company risks penalties and mandatory policy changes if it's found to be violating labor law. The charge adds further pressure, however, and could shape potential punishment.

Alibaba, ByteDance Share Details of Prized Algorithms With Beijing for First Time

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:45
China's internet giants from Tencent to ByteDance have shared details of their prized algorithms with Beijing for the first time, an unprecedented move aimed at curbing data abuse that may end up compromising closely guarded corporate secrets. From a report: The internet watchdog on Friday published a list describing 30 algorithms that firms including Alibaba Group Holding and Meituan employ to gather data on users, tailor personal recommendations and serve up content. While the public list stopped short of revealing the actual code, it wasn't clear the extent to which internet firms may have revealed their underlying software to regulators in private. The algorithms that decide which TikTok videos, WeChat posts and Instagram photos users see are considered the secret sauce of many online services, critical in capturing user attention and driving growth. China in March adopted regulations that require internet firms to disclose such tools, an effort to address complaints about data abuse that also helps regulators keep internet firms on a tighter leash. Tech industry algorithms are jealously guarded and have been at the heart of political controversies around the world. That disclosure requirement sets China apart from countries like the US, where Meta Platforms and Alphabet have argued successfully that algorithms are business secrets, even as lawmakers and activists seek to better understand how they curate content and manage data.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'Rogue One' Is Coming Back to Imax With 'Andor' Sneak Peek - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:40
Andor, a prequel to Star Wars prequel Rogue One, hits Disney Plus next month.

Jumanji Theme Park Land Opening in 2023 - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:36
A resort in the UK is adding the $20 million World of Jumanji.

Beats' Kim Kardashian Collaboration Fit Pro Earbuds Are Selling Fast - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:29
The special-edition Beats x Kim Fit Pro earbuds, which come in three neutral, skin-toned colors, have sold out at Apple but are still available at Amazon.

American Airlines to Purchase 20 Supersonic Aircraft - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:28
The world's largest airline is set to become one of the world's fastest.

Oracle Starts Auditing TikTok's Algorithms Amid Security Concerns - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:15
TikTok parent company's ties to China have sparked concerns about whether the Chinese government accesses US user data.

President Biden signs Inflation Reduction Act to limit climate change

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:07

President Joe Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The sweeping $750 billion legislation includes $369 billion in investments toward climate and clean energy programs. Following months of infighting, House and Senate Democrats passed the bill along party lines last week after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia struck a compromise deal on Biden's Build Better Back framework. According to one estimate by Princeton University’s Zero Lab, the bill could reduce US greenhouse emissions by about 6.3 billion tons through 2032. The $369 billion set aside by the bill represents the most significant investment to combat climate change in US history. 

"This bill is the biggest step forward on climate ever, and it's going to allow us to boldly take additional steps toward meeting all of the climate goals we set out when we ran," Biden said before signing the bill. "It includes ensuring that we create clean energy opportunities in frontline and fenceline communities that have been smothered by the legacy of population and fight environmental injustice that has been going on for so long." 

With the law now in place, US consumers can look forward to up to $7,500 in subsidies for electric SUVs, trucks and vans that cost less than $80,000 and cars under $55,000. The act is also set to provide up to $4,000 for buying a used EV. Both subsidies include an income ceiling that would prevent those who make more than the average American from taking advantage. The law also calls for the creation of a $1.5 billion program to incentivize companies to reduce their methane emissions.   

US Approves Nearly All Tech Exports To China, Data Shows

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:05
The U.S. has identified intensifying technological competition with China as a top national-security threat. But a Commerce Department-led process that reviews U.S. tech exports to the country approves almost all requests and has overseen an increase in sales of some particularly important technologies, according to an analysis of trade data. From a report: Of the U.S.'s total $125 billion in exports to China in 2020, officials required a license for less than half a percent, Commerce Department data shows. Of that fraction, the agency approved 94%, or 2,652, applications for technology exports to China. The figures omit applications "returned without action," meaning their outcomes were uncertain. The result: The U.S. continues to send to China an array of semiconductors, aerospace components, artificial-intelligence technology and other items that could be used to advance Beijing's military interests. The Commerce Department says it is focused on long-term, strategic competition with China and that it makes export-control decisions with its interagency partners in the Defense, State and Energy Departments. Critics say Commerce officials are improperly giving priority to U.S. commercial interests over national security and that an urgent regulatory revamp is necessary to respond to the threat from Beijing. For Steve Coonen, the Pentagon's former top China export-controls analyst, the high rate of approvals for licenses to sell tech with potential military use is evidence of significant policy failure.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How the New Inflation Reduction Act Could Save You Thousands on Home Energy - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:03
The bill unlocks thousands of rebates and tax credits for homeowners.

Best Shower Filter for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 16:00
Use these filters to wash away all the chemicals hiding in your shower water.

Meta's anti-misinformation strategy for the 2022 midterms is mostly a repeat of 2020

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-16 15:32

Meta has outlined its strategy for combatting misinformation during the 2022 US midterm elections, and they'll mostly sound familiar if you remember the company's 2020 approach. The Facebook and Instagram owner said it will maintain policies and protections "consistent" with the presidential election, including policies barring vote misinformation and linking people to trustworthy information. It will once again ban political ads during the last week of the election campaign. This isn't quite a carbon copy, however, as Meta is fine-tuning its methods in response to lessons learned two years ago.

To start, Meta is "elevating" post comments from local elections officials to make sure reliable polling information surfaces in conversations. The company is also acknowledging concerns that it used info labels too often in 2020 — for the 2022 midterms, it's planning to show labels in a "targeted and strategic way."

Meta's update comes just days after Twitter detailed its midterm strategy, and echoes the philosophy of its social media rival. Both are betting that their 2020 measures were largely adequate, and that it's just a question of refining those systems for 2022.

Whether or not that's true is another matter. In a March 2021 study, advocacy group Avaaz said Meta didn't do enough to stem the flow of misinformation and allowed billions of views for known false content. Whistleblower Frances Haugen also maintains that Meta has generally struggled to fight bogus claims, and it's no secret that Meta had to extend its ban on political ads after the 2020 vote. Facebook didn't catch some false Brazilian election ads, according to Global Witness. Meta won't necessarily deal with serious problems during the midterms, but it's not guaranteed a smooth ride.

New Movies Coming Out in 2022: Biggest New Films Including Marvel, DC, Netflix - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 15:31
Knives Out 2, Nope, Black Panther 2 and Avatar 2: It's a big year for blockbusters, even though Madame Web, Mario, Black Adam and The Flash are delayed again.

Google Demos Soda-Fetching Robots

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-16 15:25
Alphabet's Google is combining the eyes and arms of physical robots with the knowledge and conversation skills of virtual chatbots to help its employees fetch soda and chips from breakrooms with ease. From a report: The mechanical waiters, shown in action to reporters last week, embody an artificial intelligence breakthrough that paves the way for multipurpose robots as easy to control as ones that perform single, structured tasks such as vacuuming or standing guard. Google robots are not ready for sale. They perform only a few dozen simple actions, and the company has not yet embedded them with the "OK, Google" summoning feature familiar to consumers. While Google says it is pursuing development responsibly, adoption could ultimately stall over concerns such as robots becoming surveillance machines, or being equipped with chat technology that can give offensive responses, as Meta Platforms and others have experienced in recent years. Microsoft and Amazon are pursuing comparable research on robots. "It's going to take a while before we can really have a firm grasp on the direct commercial impact," said Vincent Vanhoucke, senior director for Google's robotics research. When asked to help clean a spill, Google's robot recognizes that grabbing a sponge is a doable and more sensible response than apologizing for creating the mess.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Lyft and Motional's New Electric Robotaxis Now Offering Rides in Las Vegas - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-16 15:24
Interested riders can download the Lyft app to request a ride.