Thomas Nye

Thomas Nye

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Anyone in the United States who held a Google Plus account between January 1, 2015 and April 2, 2019, and believes they were impacted by a security flaw that Google disclosed in 2018 can now register for a payout from a class action settlement. The lawsuit has settled for a total of $7.5 million. Each class action member is eligible for a payout of up to $12 after attorney fees and other costs are accounted for, although this could vary depending on the number of people who submit a claim. You have until October 8 to register. Although Google said at the time that there was no evidence the exposed data was ever accessed, the company wasted no time in announcing that it would shut down its social network after publicly admitting the... Continue reading…
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Bognor Regis man still faces 20 years in clink, though The British teenager accused of being part of the gang that hacked Twitter and posted a cryptocurrency scam from various US celebrities' accounts has not yet been arrested.…
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It seems Google is already laying the groundwork for a jam-packed gadget season.
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We’re here to guide you through the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up to the Life newsletter for daily tips, advice, how-tos and escapism.As fellow Brits pile on planes headed for tropical destinations, many of you will be wondering whether you, too, should book a last-minute summer getaway. One of the things that might be holding you back – in addition to the prospect of quarantine on return – is getting on a plane. Being contained on an airtight vessel with strangers (and their germs) for hours doesn’t sound like the most ‘Covid secure’ environment. Historically, studies have found planes can be breeding grounds for infectious diseases – add into the mix the prospect of a potentially airborne illness and it doesn’t fill a person with hope. So, is the air safe on a plane?Professor Qingyan Chen, an expert in mechanical engineering at Purdue University, tells HuffPost UK while coronavirus could be airborne – and therefore may spread through air conditioning systems – “the virus concentration in air is very low”. But if you’re exposed to a low virus concentration in the air for a long time, there’s a higher risk of becoming infected. Related... 6 Things To Consider Before Booking A Holiday In 2020 Generally it’s believed the filters used on aircrafts, called high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, do a good job of filtering out particles the size of Covid-19.“The interesting thing is there haven’t been documented cases of transmission on airlines,” says Professor David Hunter, an expert in epidemiology in the Nuffield Department of Population Health at University of Oxford. “My guess is that’s probably because most of the airlines... have been flying mostly empty.”While flying isn’t without its risks, Prof Hunter says right now, the destination is likely to be more risky anyway. “If someone’s travelling, depending on where they’re travelling to, they’re probably at greater risk of picking up the virus when they spend a couple of weeks in the other destination, than they are to get it on the plane.”The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises Brits against all but essential international travel – but travel to some countries is exempt from this advice, including France, Croatia and Italy. When travelling on a plane during the pandemic, people are advised to: remain seated as much as possible; follow instructions and guidance from crew; use contactless payment where possible; be aware there’s likely to be a reduced food and drink service; and make the cabin crew aware if you become ill. Related... The 10 Trending Staycation Destinations For UK Holidays There are other things you can do to reduce your risk of catching the virus on a flight. Opt for a shorter flightProfessor Hunter says one of the key factors to consider is how long you’re flying for. Shorter flights – for example, a one-hour flight – pose less of a risk than, say, a four-hour flight.Fly at quieter times, if you canIf there are hardly any people on your flight, the risk is automatically lowered as there are fewer people to catch the virus from. You might want to discuss quieter times with the airline before booking – although nothing can be guaranteed.“I wouldn’t want to be on a plane that’s choc-a-block,” says Prof Hunter. “I’d feel relatively safe on a plane where they’re flying three quarters empty and they’ve spaced people out.” Sit at a distance from othersWhere you’re seated – and how far away you’re sat from others – is important. If people are spread out, it would be safer than if you have to sit right next to, or directly in front of, someone.A FlyHealthy study conducted by researchers from Emory University in 2018 found an infectious passenger with influenza was unlikely to transmit infection to passengers seated further away than two seats laterally and one row in front or behind. If you’re seated close to someone, ask if you can move.A preprint study about Covid-19 transmission on planes suggested when all seats are full on a US jet aircraft, the risk of contracting Covid-19 from a nearby passenger is about 1 in 7,000. But if the middle seat is left empty, that risk falls to about 1 in 14,000. Related... 'Eat Out To Help Out' – How To Get 50% Off Food In August Keep your hands clean and don’t touch your faceThe same study about Covid-19 transmission discovered another key mode of transmission was touching infected surfaces such as tray tables, seat belts and lavatory handles. This is one of the primary ways to catch Covid-19.“Passengers and flight crews can eliminate this risk of indirect transmission by exercising hand hygiene and keeping their hands away from their nose and eyes,” the researchers suggested. The same rules apply now, keep those mitts clean (hand sanitiser is your friend on flights) and do not touch your face.It might be worth taking some cleaning wipes with you to wipe down the seatbelt, armrests and tray tables.Wear a face cover“To protect from infection, it’s important that everyone wears masks,” says Prof Chen. Different airlines have different measures in place surrounding mandatory face coverings, although most will require you to wear one. If everyone wore a mask, theoretically, that means fewer droplets will escape from people’s noses and mouths into the environment – and there will be less of a temptation to touch your face.Government advice states you can remove your face covering to: communicate with someone who relies on lip reading; avoid harm or injury; take medication and eat or drink (if reasonably necessary).Related... ‘No Hajj And No Hugs’: UK Muslims On Missing Their 'Pilgrimage Of A Lifetime' How Likely Is A Second Wave – And Can It Be Prevented? 'Sense Of Panic' As 1.8m Holidaymakers Faced With Spain Quarantine Rules
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GM’s big electric vehicle push is coming, and the automaker is cutting a deal with EVgo to install over 2,700 new fast chargers so that drivers will have somewhere to top up their batteries. The agreement will see the two companies build out DC fast charger availability in cities and suburbs primarily, focusing on potential EV drivers who might lack … Continue reading
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This week was Upvote Everything Day on Imgur (the procrastination black hole I spend way too much time on). So instead of the usual feel good fluff and pandering cute pet pics, the front page was crowded with GIFs of women giving birth to candy abominations and video clips of lederhosen-clad German pop-folk music weirdos. Just like god intended. However, it also usually brings to the fore one of my all time favorite types of content (or at least the one I mildly obsess over), cursed images. I have a horrid fascination with cursed images. What interests me is why… This story continues at The Next Web
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Chocolate Factory's as-a-service stuff grows as advertising, profit takes a tumble Google-parent Alphabet saw its bottom line take a tumble this past quarter as the coronavirus pandemic cut into its lucrative advertising business.…
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Amazon posted CEO Jeff Bezos' prepared testimony Tuesday on its blog ahead of his appearance at the historic Congressional tech antitrust hearing on Wednesday. Bezos plans to argue that Amazon's size benefits consumers, sellers, and the economy, and that it faces plenty of competition from rivals including Walmart, Instacart, and Shopify. "Just like the world needs small companies, it also needs large ones," Bezos is expected to say. Bezos along with the top executives of Apple, Facebook, and Google parent Alphabet are set to face questions from Congress on Wednesday, where they'll have to defend their companies' growing power. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos plans to tell members of Congress that the company's size is actually a good thing, and that it still faces plenty of competition, according to prepared remarks posted to an official Amazon blog on Tuesday. "Just like the world needs small companies, it also needs large ones," Bezos plans to say. "There are things small companies simply can't do. I don't care how good an entrepreneur you are, you're not going to build an all-fiber Boeing 787 in your garage." Bezos is also expected to argue that Amazon competes in a global retail industry that is "strikingly large and extraordinarily competitive," and that the company captures only captures single-digit market share in the sector. He plans to name several firms as competitors, including traditional retailers like Walmart, Target, Costco, and Kroger, as well as e-commerce companies like Shopify and Instacart. Bezos, along with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet, are set to appear before the House Antitrust Subcommittee on Wednesday, where they'll face questions over their companies' growing power. Amazon has come under increasing scrutiny from lawmakers who say its size and market dominance allow it to unfairly prevent competition, particularly surrounding its treatment of third-party companies that sell products through its website.  Bezos plans to say that by opening its marketplace, Amazon instead enabled sellers to better than they could have hoped to otherwise. He says that opening up the marketplace was a bet that third-party sellers would help both buyers and sellers, and that "we were right — the whole pie did grow, third-party sellers did very well and are growing fast, and that has been great for customers and for Amazon." He also plans to argue that Amazon's size has other benefits, such as allowing it to create jobs in the US that pay better than competitors and to use its scale to combat climate change – but that lawmakers should still look into its business practices. "I believe Amazon should be scrutinized. We should scrutinize all large institutions, whether they're companies, government agencies, or non-profits," Bezos plans to say. "Our responsibility is to make sure we pass such scrutiny with flying colors."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The rise and fall of Donald Trump's $365 million airline
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Sony may have a short-term advantage, but Microsoft could win the long game
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Message from the management“In case the prime minister has not noticed, the Labour party is under new management.” With that one sentence in PMQs, Keir Starmer ensured his MPs headed out for their summer break with a real spring in their step for the first time in years.The fact is that Boris Johnson has indeed noticed Starmer is not Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader’s personal poll ratings are as impressive as Corbyn’s were dire. On the key issue of who would make a better PM, the coronavirus chaos of recent weeks has meant Starmer has a lead. It’s precisely because Starmer is a threat that Johnson now repeatedly loses his cool in PMQs.It’s also why the Tory leader tried to resurrect the spectre of Corbyn, suggesting Starmer was complicit in his predecessor’s siding with Vladimir Putin over the Salisbury poisonings. Johnson’s attack line backfired as it allowed the former DPP to ram home his own credentials on counter-terrorism and in representing the widow of murdered Alexander Litvinenko against the might of the Kremlin.But worse than that, the PM’s approach gave Starmer the chance to pull off a political judo throw, using his opponent’s weight against him. Security is one area where the new leader can show he is very much not a Corbynite. Even the most loyal Labour backbencher couldn’t have teed up the ‘under new management’ line better than the PM did.Starmer knew too that in going in on the Intelligence and Security Committee report on Russia he was taking a risk that he’d be taunted over Brexit. Johnson’s jibe that this was really all about “Islingtonian Remainers” was widened into an attack that Starmer still hadn’t accepted his side had lost the EU referendum. His Remainer credentials are undeniably seen by Tories (and their focus groups) as Starmer’s biggest weakness in the Red Wall seats.The Labour leader knows he has to convince those former Labour voters he wants a “better Brexit” rather than “no Brexit”. That’s why he’s avoided the whole issue of extending the transition period, and why he’s even stayed away from the prospect of ‘no deal’ at the end of this year - many Leave voters will blame Brussels not Johnson if we can’t get a good outcome.Come the 2024 election, the Brexit vote will be so much history. In fact, Starmer may want to echo the PM’s own words from this February when he explained why he wasn’t using the B-word at all: “It’s not banned, it’s just over. It has happened..it is receding behind us in history.” Johnson’s real worry must be that the UK’s post-corona recovery lags behind the EU’s and exposes that his own brand of Brexit had piled economic misery on top of Covid.That’s why Johnson is more likely to broaden out Brexit into a wider culture war against Starmer, shoring up the Tory Leave coalition by saying Starmer is just as out of touch on immigration, overseas aid and ‘metropolitan’ political correctness (aka ‘wokeness’). In fact, it’s perfectly possible to envisage the Johnson v Starmer battle over the next few years as ‘culture v competence’.Yet on culture, Starmer made another big break with the Corbyn era today. The apology and settlement to Panorama’s whistleblowers on anti-Semitism was designed to draw a line under the past. The ECHR report will give him a further chance to do that and Corbyn’s own response (a bit like Johnson’s in PMQs) made his task even easier.In PMQs, the only weapon an Opposition leader has is words (and by extension his judgement calls). However within his own party, a Labour leader has the weapon of action and few can deny his action has been swift and decisive on this issue.Words still count, as evidenced by the backlash he felt over the use of “moment” to describe Black Lives Matter. He also learned a lesson on “defund the police” calls, and is now more likely to be less dismissive of Black community concerns while also making crystal clear Labour under him would increase not cut police funding.‌His critics on the right and the left are still trying to work out how to attack Starmer. Back in 1997, Tony Blair was targeted by the Tories as both ‘Bambi’ (worryingly weak) and ‘Demon Eyes’ (scarily strong) and neither worked. But Blair won on both culture (showing the public he shared their values) and competence (exposing a clapped out Tory administration). The former is Starmer’s big task ahead.‌The scale of the task is underlined by recent opinion polls showing the Tories still have a healthy lead over Labour (ComRes tonight put the gap at 43% to 37%) despite all the corona chaos. That may change if the Tory decision to withdraw furlough this autumn proves a huge error. It could change further if the other word Johnson doesn’t like using - austerity - returns to government spending and public sector pay rises in coming years.‌To have a hope of getting into No.10, Starmer has to convince the public he could manage a crisis better than Johnson, manage his party better than Corbyn and manage the country better than Blair. Can he manage it? Maybe not. But judging by his first few short months in the job, he’s made a real start.Quote Of The Day“We unreservedly withdraw all allegations of bad faith, malice and lying.”The Labour party apologises in the High Court to the Panorama whistleblowersWednesday Cheat SheetBoris Johnson warned lockdown-sceptic Tory MPs at the 1922 Committee that a second coronavirus spike could happen this winter, saying “don’t think it couldn’t happen here”.Families and friends of some care home residents will be able to resume visiting their loved ones months after they were stopped due to the coronavirus crisis, Matt Hancock said.Home Office minister James Brokenshire moved to quell fears that Boris Johnson’s top adviser Dominic Cummings could interfere with the work of the independent intelligence and security committee (ISC).Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK and the US had agreed to close a loophole which allowed the suspect in the death of Harry Dunn to flee the UK.Department for Work and Pensions permanent secretary Peter Schofield said it would change its safeguarding of vulnerable claimants to avoid cutting off their benefits.What I’m ReadingHow Trump Is Splitting The US In Two - AtlanticGot A Tip?Send tips, stories, quotes, pics, plugs or gossip to [email protected] Subscribe To Commons PeopleEach week, the HuffPost UK Politics team unpack the biggest stories from Westminster and beyond. Search for Commons People wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe.Related... BBC Panorama Reporter John Ware To Sue Jeremy Corbyn Labour Pays 'Substantial Damages' To Anti-Semitism Whistleblowers Keir Starmer Declares Labour 'Under New Management' As He Further Distances Himself From Jeremy Corbyn
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A touchscreen on a drill may sound like complete overkill, but the xDrill's tech is genuinely useful.
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  The OnePlus Buds are $79 wireless earbuds that are comparatively inexpensive, but offer similar sound quality and features as more expensive models, like Google's Pixel Buds. You get good sound, water/sweat resistance, and great battery life. On the downside, you don't get a wireless charging case, nor do you get any semblance of ambient noise reduction, whether active or passive.  Fit might also be an issue for certain people. The OnePlus do not fit or stay in my ears at all, much like Apple's EarPods and AirPods never did.  The OnePlus Buds will be available to buy for $79 on Monday, July 27, from the OnePlus website.  Table of Contents The OnePlus Buds have been an eagerly awaited addition to the wireless earbud roster for Android users, and for good reason, too. OnePlus has made a name for itself in making premium devices with value price tags, and it's been extremely successful in doing so. So, in the face of pricey wireless earbuds, we were all curious to see what OnePlus would come up with.  In true OnePlus fashion, you get a great pair of wireless earbuds at a totally reasonable sub-$100 price. With that said, I faced some serious issues with the way the OnePlus Buds fit in my ears, which made them totally unusable. If  you've had issues with these types of earbuds before, the OnePlus Buds may not be for you.  Design and fit The OnePlus Buds immediately reminded me of Apple's AirPods with a similar stem, overall design, and size. They're not overly large or small, they don't stick out very far, and they look pretty much identical to AirPods when in your ears. As far as wireless earbuds go, the OnePlus Buds are as inoffensive and standard as it gets, and few should have any complaints against the design. Fit is another matter. The OnePlus Buds do not fit or stay in my ears, and there's little I can do about it. The OnePlus Buds are likely to fit a good chunk of people, just like Apple's EarPods and AirPods do. But if EarPods and AirPods never fit or stayed in your ears, you're unlikely to get a good experience with the OnePlus Buds.  There may be third-party accessories to help get a better fit with the OnePlus Buds, but having tried a bunch for EarPods and AirPods, none worked well enough for my ears.  Sound quality  If I simulate a good fit by pressing the OnePlus Buds into my ears (and manually keep them pressed in), I can get pretty good sound out of them. You get surprisingly rich sound and clarity with a generous dose of bass and treble. Mids are lacking a little, making for a confined soundstage, but for $79 wireless earbuds with a good set of features (mentioned below), it's a small nitpick. If the OnePlus don't fit you, you'll get an awful tinny and hollow sound experience, and it's truly not worth using them. If they don't fit, they ain't it.  The songs I listened to include "Pneuma" by Tool, "Your House" by Steel Pulse, "Drip" by CloZee, "Nevermind" by Dennis Lloyd, "Catching Plays" by Destructo, among several other tracks spanning a variety of genres.  Battery life and features OnePlus makes some big claims that the buds themselves last for seven hours compared to the five hours offered by Apple's AirPods and Google's Pixel Buds. OnePlus also claims the total battery life of the buds is 30 hours, so that means the charging case holds about 23 hours of charge. In real life, however, it's hard to tell much difference in battery life between the wireless earbuds I've tried, and they all last about as long as each other. OnePlus does have a leg-up when it comes to getting a quick battery boost — a 10-minute charge will get you 10 hours of battery life, the company claims, whereas most companies claim a similar charge will net you five hours.  As for features, you're getting IPX4 water and sweat resistance, which is nice to see on a $79 pair of wireless earbuds and makes the OnePlus Buds a viable option for workouts. It's also nice to see that the OnePlus Buds will automatically pause music when it detects that an earbud has been removed from your ears. Music resumes when you place the earbuds back in your ears.  There's no ambient noise cancellation or reduction here, whether active or passive. In fact, OnePlus said it specifically designed the Buds to fit in a way that lets ambient noise in, which is something I'll never understand. There must be some kind of data showing that people want ambient noise, so ambient noise is what people get. I am shaking my head in confusion and disbelief.  Drawbacks There is ambient noise reduction for the microphone for voice calls and recordings, but I found that this doesn't work at all. During a voice recording while using the OnePlus Buds, I could still clearly hear a noisy air conditioner nearby. In fact, I made a similar voice recording with a Pixel 4 XL smartphone, and found that the phone did a much better job at reducing the air conditioner's sound in the recording. This isn't something I expected to work on a $79 pair or wireless earbuds. In my experience, the only pair of headphones that successfully reduce ambient noise for phone calls and voice recordings are the $379 Bose 700 headphones. The charging case doesn't support wireless charging, but that shouldn't be expected on a $79 pair of earbuds.  Also, you won't be getting the best out of the OnePlus Buds unless you own a OnePlus 6-, 7-, or 8-series smartphone. If you do, you'll get Dolby Atmos support for supposedly better sound quality. You'll also gain the ability to customize the touch sensor control on the exterior of the Buds, as well as receiving firmware updates. It's a shame that these things are reserved for OnePlus users. OnePlus said it couldn't add those features to work with other Android smartphones due to hardware constraints. The bottom line For the $79 price tag, they're not the cheapest wireless earbuds around, and they're certainly not the most expensive. The OnePlus Buds are a great option for Android users, at least for those with ears that will fit the Buds, and for those who like ambient noise (shakes head).   Indeed, the OnePlus Buds have great battery life, water/sweat resistance, and good sound (if they fit properly). And, honestly, never mind about the lackluster microphone ambient noise reduction — it's truly not something you should expect on a $79 pair of wireless earbuds, anyway. It is a shame, however, that Dolby Atmos support is limited to OnePlus phone owners, but it's not the end of the world. What are your alternatives? If you don't think the Buds will fit your ears and/or you'd prefer some kind of ambient noise reduction, I'd check out the $179 Google Pixel Buds. They're $100 more, but you get better sound and a snug in-ear design that blocks out some noise, as well as a wireless charging case.  If you're looking for an earbuds alternative that stays in the sub-$100 price range, I'd also consider the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1, which are our top overall pick for wireless earbuds.  Pros: Inexpensive, water and sweat resistance, good sound, great battery life, compact Cons: Some features are reserved for OnePlus phones, they're completely useless if they don't fit your ears, they let in quite a lot of ambient noiseJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What it's like inside North Korea's controversial restaurant chain
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It’s going to be a busy week for Uber‘s legal department. The ride-hailing app business is to appear in the UK‘s Supreme Court later today to defend its business model that classifies its drivers as independent contractors, not as employees, Reuters reports. [Read: Germany developing legislation to be first to commercialize Level 4 autonomous vehicles] The ride-hailing company’s hearing has been bumped up to the Supreme Court after two failed appeals over a case that started in 2016. Back in 2016, two Uber drivers lobbied for gig-workers to receive basic employment benefits like minimum wage, paid holidays, and sanctioned rest… This story continues at The Next WebOr just read more coverage about: Uber
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Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase July 2020 offers a look at a handful of third-party games that are coming to Switch.
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NBC's Peacock app streams free movies and TV shows, or you can unlock originals and more content if you pay. But you still can't watch with a Roku or Amazon Fire TV.
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Things have generally been quiet on the Windows 10X front in recent months, but today, a handful of new rumors are spilling a lot of details on the upcoming operating system. Not only do these new rumors tell us when Microsoft may launch Windows 10X, but they also explain what the Windows landscape will look like once Windows 10X launches … Continue reading
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The early results of Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine trial are expected imminently, according to media reports. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
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At least it’s a better excuse than Switchzilla’s ‘cosmic radiation errors’ Cisco watchers may recall that the company is infamous for two particularly odd bug reports.…
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Today, as it happens, is World Emoji Day. While that probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to most people out there, it means something to Google, which is revealing a number of new emoji that will go live with Android 11 later this year. As you might expect, the inbound emoji include a healthy mix of people, food, animals, and … Continue reading
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Recently, a new Xiaomi power adapter with the model number, MDY-12-ED, obtained 3C certification. The output power of this charger reaches a maximum of 120W ... The post Xiaomi 100W fast charge is an appetizer – its super large battery is coming appeared first on Gizchina.com.
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The US Army has its own esports team comprised of active-duty soldiers. | Image: U.S. Army Esports / Facebook Twitch has intervened to stop the US Army using fake prize giveaways on its esports channel to redirect viewers to army recruitment pages. The practice was brought to light by a report from The Nation on the use of esports as a recruitment tool by the American military. The US Army, Navy, and Air Force all field esports teams comprised of active and reserve personnel who stream on Twitch and chat with young viewers about life, video games, and the opportunities afforded by military service. “Esports is just an avenue to start a conversation,” Major-General Frank Muth, head of the army’s recruiting command, told ThinkTech Hawaii recently. “We go out there and we have a shared passion for esports ... and it naturally devolves into a... Continue reading…
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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reported year-on-year revenue growth of 28% while also confirming it will no longer supply chips to Huawei after September 14.
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EU antitrust folks give themselves two weeks to think about it Google has pinky-promised not to pull user health data from Fitbit devices into its monster ad empire if the European Union approves its planned $2.1bn acquisition.…
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The U.K. recently banned Huawei from participating in its 5G construction. After December 31st, 2020, British carriers can no longer purchase Huawei’s equipment. Furthermore, by ... The post The U.K may need up to £1 billion to completely eliminate Huawei appeared first on Gizchina.com.
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OnePlus Nord will be presented on July 21, but yesterday in an interview with the famous Youtuber Marques Brownlee, the company’s founder Carl Pei did ... The post OnePlus Nord: the brand unveils its complete design before the time appeared first on Gizchina.com.
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How this 4K laptop vendor managed to deliver such an affordable product remains a mystery.
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Intel inside?Today’s UK government U-turn on Huawei was well trailed, but is nonetheless hugely significant. Just six months after Boris Johnson defied American pressure - and trusted his intelligence officials - to grant a limited role for the Chinese company in our 5G network, Donald Trump has got what he wanted. No wonder US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised “our British friends” in a statement this evening.But the key factor was not really American friendliness, it was the raw power and reach of US sanctions. When the Trump administration tweaked their ‘Foreign-Produced Direct Product Rule’ on May 15, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (an offshoot of GCHQ) instantly spotted the implications and ordered the review that drove today’s decision.‌The US change was sweeping, banning Huawei from using any American technology, design or manufacture processes, and at a stroke throwing into doubt the company’s future microchips and kit. Our spooks, who have spent years closely monitoring Huawei’s US-reliant tech, decided today they could no longer view its activities as a manageable risk.Although the NCSC report was driven by a hard-headed assessment of the facts, it still got the PM out of a political hole with both Trump and his own backbenches. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the shift to stripping Huawei out of UK networks entirely by 2027 would be written into law in the new Telecoms Security Bill.‌The very fact that the bill was coming (it goes way beyond Huawei to protect the UK against state cyber actors like Russia, China and Iran) gave Tory rebels a chance to flex their muscles. With Keir Starmer’s Labour newly hawkish on China, and the SNP already so, the government majority of 80 was looking ropey. Even today, Dowden refused to say when the bill - due before summer recess - would be published, beyond “autumn”. He would only say that “autumn falls in the months of September, October and November”.‌The independence and rigour of NCSC’s advice has never been questioned. The latest blog by its technical director Ian Levy sets out the Huawei ban’s long-term benefit to UK security but also the downsides in terms of “significant risks” in relying on a small number of other companies, even friendly Western ones like Nokia. The cost to telecoms firms will be hundreds of millions of pounds too.‌So, it is perhaps bitterly ironic that the independence of those who watch over our intelligence agencies - the Intelligence and Security Committee - is being called into question on the same day as the Huawei decision. With the House of Lords confirming its final member - Labour peer Lord West of Spithead - this afternoon, the ISC is now formally constituted and ready to go.But West is one of just four Opposition members on the committee (along with MPs Kevan Jones, Diana Johnson and Stewart Hosie), compared to five Tory MPs (Chris Grayling, John Hayes, Julian Lewis, Theresa Villiers and Mark Pritchard). For the first time in years, there will be a government majority on the committee. Part of the reason for that is the little-noticed move by the PM to remove a crossbencher from its membership.Former cabinet secretary Lord Butler served on the ISC from 2010 to 2015, and was replaced by the equally independent minded Lord Janvrin - the Queen’s former private secretary - from 2015. Until today, that is. Janvrin’s departure from the committee is much lamented by some in parliament.Janvrin today gave me his reaction to his removal. “I would only make the obvious point that the inclusion of a crossbencher in recent years has reinforced the non-partisan, cross-party nature of the Committee and this has in my view added to its authority in holding the intelligence community to account – a crucial constitutional role in a democracy,” he said. Diplomatically put, but the message was pretty clear.The fact is that while Boris Johnson can be constrained by backbench rebellions, he also knows the power of patronage. Several MPs (Tories among them) felt that the whipping through of Bernard Jenkin as chairman of the Liaison Committee was proof that the PM doesn’t care for meaningful checks and balances in our constitution. The impending vote for Grayling as chair of the ISC, thanks to its new Tory majority, is another example.Even when he won a landslide in 1997, Tony Blair kept on Tory Tom King as chair of the ISC to maintain its non-partisan nature. From 2005 to 2010 under Blair then Brown, there were five Labour members and five Opposition members. Yet in 2020, it seems that the PM has decided (rather than the Committee itself) that Grayling should be its chair, despite his only passing acquaintance with security experience. “Intelligence is not the word you think of when you think of Grayling,” says one MP with an arched eyebrow.‌Some MPs remain baffled why Grayling is the PM’s pick, other than the fact that he is a committed Brexiteer (Grayling don’t forget was the first cabinet minister under Cameron to publicly back Brexit). They are particularly baffled as to why Johnson appeared to be ready to support Sir Mike Penning - a former serviceman and armed forces minister - for the committee, only to see that prospect disappear.Penning’s independence of mind is said by some to be the real stumbling block to his appointment. Which if true would only serve to underline how fleeting Johnson’s personal relations can be in his party. Penning helped the Johnson leadership campaign hugely last year by giving up his perfectly-sited Portcullis House office to allow the PM-to-be to schmooze backbenchers in person.‌Grayling will want to prove his own credentials as soon as the committee meets, possibly as early as Wednesday. The publication of the long-awaited ‘Russia report’ could take place before summer recess, as could the delayed ‘annual report’ on the intelligence services. The Russia report may not contain the mythical political dynamite some have assumed, though any sniff of Kremlin links to Tory donors would be sure to be pounced on. The Huawei decision today underlines the growing importance of intelligence, and independent oversight of that intelligence, more than ever.‌But some Conservative MPs are more uneasy about the way Johnson disregards norms of the UK’s unwritten constitution. The prorogation of parliament and ruthless expulsion of figures like David Gauke last year may not have been momentary lapses, but proof of the naked opportunism, raw power and patronage that many suspect drives the PM’s politics. If so, maybe he’s more like Trump than he likes to admit.Quote Of The Day“Britain’s decision to protect its national security by banning Huawei from its 5G network is also a win for fair trade and human rights.”Woody Johnson, US ambassador to the UK, lets slip this is as much about trade wars as security fearsTuesday Cheat SheetHealth secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that face coverings are to be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England from 24 July.The Leicester lockdown will be reviewed this week, Hancock said. Another hotspot for the virus, Blackburn with Darwen, has introduced stricter measures to try to avoid following Leicester.Postcode-level coronavirus testing data is being withheld from publication due to councils’ fears it could lead to certain communities being stigmatised and a breakdown of community cohesion, HuffPost revealed.‌There was a double helping of bad news on the economy. The Office for National Statistics said the UK grew by just 1.8 per cent in May, after the collapse of more than 25 per cent over March and April.The Office for Budget Responsibility had a central forecast that growth would not return to trend until the middle of 2022, with more than a million extra unemployed.What I’m ReadingCould Trump Now Target TikTok? - Wired Got A Tip?Send tips, stories, quotes, pics, plugs or gossip to [email protected] Subscribe To Commons PeopleEach week, the HuffPost UK Politics team unpack the biggest stories from Westminster and beyond. Search for Commons People wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe.Related... The Government Doesn't Know How Many People Are Breaking Test And Trace Self-Isolation Rules Exclusive: Covid Test Data Held Back From Publication Over Community Cohesion Concerns 5 Times The Government Snoozed On Fighting Coronavirus
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Image: Lego Lego and Nintendo are teaming up for a new Lego set that assembles into a blocky model of Nintendo’s 8-bit gaming console, the Nintendo Entertainment System, along with an interactive TV displaying Super Mario Bros. The two companies collaborated earlier this year to create interactive Super Mario-themed sets. Designed for adult builders, this new set contains 2,646 pieces that combine to create Nintendo’s first home console as well as an NES controller, a game cartridge that can fit into the console, and a miniature retro TV. The TV displays Mario traversing through a stage from the 1985 classic, and a crank located on the left side of the TV lets you move the mustached plumber up and down between platforms. Image:... Continue reading…
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