Posts with «author_name|mariella moon» label

Pentagon unveils B-21 Raider aircraft with advanced stealth technology

The US military has unveiled the B-21 Raider, its first new stealth bomber in 30 years. Northrop Grumman, which developed the aircraft, first showed us a silhouette of the plane covered by a shroud way back in 2015. Now, the Pentagon has officially presented the B-21 at an event at Northrop Grumman's plant in Palmdale, California, but most of its details still remain a secret. Prior to the event, though, the company called it the "world’s first sixth-generation aircraft," which means it's a lot more technologically advanced than the military jets in service today.

According to ABC News, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during the event that "no other long range bomber can match [the B-21's] efficiency." Austin also said that "fifty years of advances in low observable technology" have gone into the aircraft and that even the most sophisticated air defense systems will have a hard time detecting a B-21 in the sky. 

The aircraft was designed using next-generation stealth technology so that it can remain undetectable even to advanced radars and air defense systems, Northrop Grumman said in a previous announcement. A Northrop Grumman official also said that the B-21 can fly in full stealth mode every day, according to Air and Space Forces Magazine, unlike the current model that needs hundreds of hours of maintenance between missions. The aircraft will use a cloud-based digital infrastructure that's cheaper and easier maintain, and the military can also roll out rapid upgrades for separate components so that it's always protected against evolving threats. 

Northrop Grumman is currently working on six B-21 units, which are in various stages of production, but the Air Force is expected to order at least 100 of them. The military will start testing the stealth bomber in California sometime next year before the first units go into service by mid-2020s.

Take a closer look at the B-21 Raider — the world’s first sixth generation aircraft. This changes everything. #DefiningPossible#RiseoftheRaiderpic.twitter.com/rZIINucOug

— Northrop Grumman (@northropgrumman) December 3, 2022

Meta faces lawsuit for harvesting financial data from tax prep websites

A group of anonymous plaintiffs who filed their taxes online in 2020 using H&R Block has sued Meta, accusing the company of violating users' trust and privacy. If you'll recall, a recent Markup investigation revealed that H&R Block, along with other popular tax-filing websites like TaxAct and TaxSlayer, have been sending users' sensitive financial information to Meta through its Pixel tracking tool. 

Pixel is a piece of code companies can embed on their websites so they can track visitors' activities and identify Facebook and Instagram users to target with ads. Apparently, the aforementioned tax prep websites had been transmitting personal information, such as income data, filing statuses, refund amounts and dependents' tuition grants, to Meta through that code. The tax-filing services had already changed their Pixel settings to stop sending information or had been reevaluating how they used Pixel by the time Markup's report came out. 

In a statement sent to Engadget when the news first came out, Meta said that advertisers are prohibited from sharing personal information and that it uses an automated system that can filter out sensitive content sent through Pixel. The plaintiffs acknowledged in their complaint (PDF, courtesy of The Markup) that Meta does require businesses that use Pixel to "have lawful rights to collect, use and share" user data before providing the company with any information. However, the plaintiffs argue that Meta makes no effort to enforce that rule and instead relies on a "broken honor-system" that has resulted in "repeated, documented violations."

According to The Markup, the lawsuit is seeking class action status for people who used the tax prep services mentioned in the publication's report. The services themselves, however, were not named as defendants in the case. 

Apple's upcoming mixed reality headset will reportedly run 'xrOS'

Apple has internally changed the name of its upcoming mixed reality headset's accompanying software from "realityOS" to "xrOS," according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As the reporter notes, the new name better represents the software's capabilities: "XR," after all, stands for extended reality, and the headset is expected to have both augmented and virtual reality features. 

In addition to the internal name change, Gurman says a shell corporation named Deep Dive LLC has also filed a trademark for the brand "xrOS" in the US and in other countries, including ones in the European Union and in Asia, the UK, Australia, Mexico, Ukraine, Japan and Canada. In its application, Deep Dive wrote that it's applying for a trademark for "head-mounted displays" and devices that provide "virtual reality and augmented reality experiences." Apple hasn't confirmed whether it's behind this filing. 

Earlier this year, though, Vox Media product manager Parker Ortolanifound a patent application for "realityOS" filed by a shell company called Realityo Systems LLC. Bloomberg also reported back in August that yet another shell company with a different name filed applications for "Reality One," "Reality Pro" and "Reality Processor."

This recent name change could indicate that Apple is ironing out the details of the project for its approaching launch. Gurman says Apple plans to debut the headset, its dedicated operating system and its app store sometime next year. According to previous reports, the device will feature virtual versions of the company's apps, including Messages, FaceTime and Maps, and will use iris scanning for app purchases and sign-ins. Apple's recent job listings also indicate that the tech giant is working on its own 3D mixed reality world, which could become a rival to Facebook's vision of the metaverse

Ye's Twitter account suspended again following swastika tweet

Twitter has given Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, a 12-hour suspension after he tweeted a photo of the Star of David merged with the swastika. In a public exchange on Twitter, website owner Elon Musk told the rapper that tweeting a photo of him being hosed down on a yacht is fine, but tweeting the antisemitic image is not. After that, Ye posted a screenshot of his account on Truth Social, the social media platform backed by Donald Trump, showing that his account has been limited for 12 hours for violating Twitter's terms of service. 

Ye also shared a screenshot of his private exchange with Musk, wherein the executive said: "Sorry, but you have gone too far. This is not love." In a couple of follow-up tweets, Musk said he tried his best to communicate with Ye, but the rapper still chose to violate Twitter's rule against inciting violence. Twitter suspended Ye in October for posting antisemitic messages that said he would go "death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE." His account was reinstated in November, along with other controversial personalities', such as former President Donald Trump's and Marjorie Taylor Greene's.

Shortly after he was suspended on both Twitter and Instagram in October, Ye entered a deal to acquire the "free speech" social media app Parler. "In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves," Ye said back then. Yesterday, however, Parlement announced that the acquisition will no longer push through. While Parler said that they had mutually agreed to "terminate the intent of sale" in mid-November, the news came out after Ye's guesting on Alex Jones' podcast InfoWars. During the interview, Ye went on an antisemitic tirade, wherein he denied that the Holocause had happened while praising Nazis and Hitler.

FCC allows SpaceX to deploy 7,500 second-gen Starlink satellites

SpaceX first asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to deploy 29,988 second-generation Starlink satellites back in 2020. Now, the FCC has granted its request — partially, at least. The commission has given the company the go-ahead to build, deploy and operate up to 7,500 satellites for its Gen2 constellation at the altitudes of 525 km, 530 km and 535 km. In its announcement, the FCC said approving 7,500 satellites for the constellation will allow SpaceX to provide broadband internet to users worldwide, even those living in far-flung areas. 

The FCC is limiting the number of satellites SpaceX can deploy for now, though, to address concerns about orbital debris and space safety. It says the limited grant will help maintain a safe space environment and protect other satellite and terrestrial operators from harmful interference. Several companies and even NASA previously raised concerns about SpaceX's plan to deploy an additional 30,000 satellites, considering the FCC already granted it permission to launch 12,000 first-gen Starlink satellites. 

In NASA's letter to the commission, it talked about an expanded constellation's potential impacts to its science and human spaceflight missions. A massive number of Starlink satellites, it said, could cause an increase in collision risks and lead to fewer launch windows. That said, the FCC is only deferring "action on the remainder of SpaceX's application" for now, so it may approve additional deployments. 

SpaceX chief Elon Musk previously revealed that the second-gen Starlink satellites will be much bigger than their predecessor and will need to be launch on the company's Starship launch vehicle. One of the reasons they're bigger is because of their massive antennas that will have the capability to communicate with phones here on Earth, like mobile towers in the sky. Indeed, the the collaboration T-Mobile and SpaceX announced in August will depend on Starlink's second-gen satellites. The companies aim to end mobile deadzones with their partnership and to provide connectivity wherever there's a clear view of the sky, even if it's in the middle of the ocean. 

'The Mandalorian' season 3 arrives on March 1st

Mandalorian fans, you can now fire up your calendars and add a very important reminder for March 1st, 2023. The third season of The Mandalorian will premiere that day and will be available for streaming on Disney+, the show's official Twitter account has revealed. Disney was originally aiming for a February 2023 release date, as Ars Technica notes, but a short delay isn't too bad. 

The company released its first teaser trailer for the show at this year's D23 Expo in September, showing Grogu (formerly known as baby Yoda on the internet) and Mando (or Din Djarin) reunited. If you'll recall, the Grogu left with Luke Skywalker by the end of season 2 to finish his Force training at the latter's Jedi Temple. The trailer also gives us a glimpse of Mando dealing with the consequences of removing his helmet and showing his face to other people, which is a huge no-no for members of his religious sect

The Mandalorian and Grogu return March 1 only on @DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/h0NrVMIT4V

— The Mandalorian (@themandalorian) December 1, 2022

By the time season 3 comes out, it would've been over two years after the release of the show's second season. That said, Mando and Grogu were featured in The Book of Boba Fett, which was a spin-off of The Mandalorian released last year. Grogu also got the Hayao Miyazaki treatment for the Lucasfilm-Studio Ghibli animated short Zen - Grogu and Dust Bunnies that was released for streaming in November. 

Netflix is reportedly expanding its pool of 'preview viewers'

Starting next year, a lot more Netflix viewers will reportedly be able to watch its originals before they become available for streaming. According to The Wall Street Journal, the streaming service is expanding its pool of preview viewers early next year to include as many as tens of thousands of subscribers around the world from its current group of around 2,000 people. 

When Variety reported about the company's focus group earlier this year, the publication said that Netflix has been asking subscribers if they want to join "a community of members to view and give feedback on upcoming movies and series" since at least May 2021. "It's simple, but an incredibly important part of creating best-in-class content for you and Netflix members all around the world," the email reportedly said. Apparently, Netflix asks members of the group to watch several unreleased shows and movies over the course of six months. They then have to fill out a survey form to tell the company what they liked and what they didn't. 

In The Journal's newer report, it said the streaming service calls the group the "Netflix Preview Club" and that the Leonardo DiCaprio/Jennifer Lawrence starrer Don't Look Up was one of the movies that benefited from its feedback. The movie was initially too serious, the preview group's members reportedly told Netflix, and the film's creators chose to listen to them and ratcheted up its comedic elements. 

As The Journal notes, Netflix is known for giving creators a lot of creative freedom — even if it doesn't always lead to great content — so running a preview group has been tricky. The company has apparently been careful when it comes to sharing feedback with creators and has not been forcing changes. It's still the creators' decision whether to incorporate changes based on the previewers' response. 

Apple's 2022 iPad is $30 off right now

If you weren't able to grab Apple's 2022 iPad on Black Friday, don't worry: It's on sale right now for an even cheaper price. You can get the blue and the silver variants of the 64GB WiFi-only iPad right now for only $419 on Amazon, which is $30 less than retail. The yellow version of the tablet isn't quite that cheap, but you can still get it for the device's Black Friday price of $426. Those aren't quite all-time lows for the 10th-gen iPad, but you're not constricted by a time limit or by the need for a Prime subscription this time. 

Buy 2022 Apple 10.9-inch iPad (Wi-Fi, 64GB) at Amazon - $419

Apple gave the 2022 iPad a redesign to set it apart from its previous base tablets and bring its looks closer to the iPad Air and the iPad Pro. The tech giant removed the Home button and moved its Touch ID to the lock button. Its bezels are thinner, its display is bigger and its front-facing camera has been moved to the landscape border. Another big change is that the device now comes with a USB-C charging port instead of a Lightning port like previous models. 

The tablet is powered by an A14 Bionic chip, and while it's a modest upgrade from last year's A13, it does improve the device's performance. When we reviewed the device, we also found that its battery life met or exceeded the 10-hour estimate Apple provides for every iPad: It lasted 11 hours and 45 minutes when we used it to play movies purchased from the iTunes Store. 

It's unclear when the tablet's price will go back to retail, but this is a great chance to purchase one for the coming holiday season either for yourself or as a gift. 

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Valve will give away over a hundred Steam Decks during The Game Awards

You have quite a few streaming choices for this year's upcoming Game Awards, but Valve is making its Steam TV coverage more enticing than most by giving away a ton of Steam Deck consoles. The video game developer and distributor has announced that it's giving away one 512GB Steam Deck every minute during the live airing of the awards show on December 8th. To be eligible, you'll have to be watching the event on Steam TV, which starts at 7:30PM ET, and you'll have to register on the giveaway's official page beforehand to enter the drawing. 

One factor that could potentially prevent you from joining the draw is your location: You can only register and win if you're in the US, Canada, UK or the EU, where the console is currently available for sale. In addition, you must have made a Steam purchase between November 14th, 2021 and November 14th, 2022 to verify your country and prove that your account is not limited and is in good standing. Valve will draw a random name from the pool of registrants every minute during the event and will be announcing winners in chat as each drawing takes place. To note, the show is expected to run for around two-and-a-half hours, so that's over a hundred Steam Decks to be won. 

The 2022 Game Awards will not only stream online but will also offer a live "IMAX Experience" in select cities in the US, Canada and other regions. This year's event also introduces a new category for best adaptation featuring projects that translate games to movies, TV shows, podcasts and books.

Watch #TheGameAwards live on Steam next Thursday and you could win a FREE Steam Deck!

Valve is giving away a free Steam Deck a MINUTE to a viewer watching the show to celebrate!

More details here on the Steam Deck Drop.https://t.co/9uYdcu1GzDpic.twitter.com/aRZTQC8Biq

— The Game Awards (@thegameawards) November 30, 2022

LastPass reveals another security breach

LastPass CEO Karim Toubba has revealed that the password manager has been breached again. Toubba said the company detected an unusual activity within a third-party cloud storage service that it shares with its parent company GoTo, which was formerly known as LogMeIn. To investigate the incident, LastPass has teamed up with security firm Mandiant. Together, they've determined that the unauthorized party got into LastPass' cloud service by using information obtained from the security breach it suffered in August this year. Further, they've discovered that the bad actor was able to access "certain elements" of its customers' information.

If you'll recall, LastPass was hacked back in August, and Toubba admitted after an investigation that the unauthorized party had internal access to its systems for four days. The hacker was able to steal some of the password manager's source code and technical information, but LastPass said customers' data and encrypted password vaults remained untouched. Apparently, the hacker's access was limited to the service's development environment. While the unauthorized party was able to access some user information this time, LastPass said customers' passwords remain safely encrypted. 

In an announcement of its own, remote work and collaboration tools provider GoTo has admitted that bad actors gained entry into its development environment. Like LastPass, the company has assured customers that its products and services are fully functional despite the breach. The password manager and its parent company are still investigating the incident to understand its scope, so we'll likely hear more details in the coming months.