Posts with «celebrities» label

Netflix fires employee for leaking data about controversial Dave Chappelle special

Netflix has fired an employee, alleging they shared confidential, commercially sensitive information about Dave Chappelle's new standup special, The Closer, with media outlets, Variety reported. 

The employee is accused of leaking data that appeared in Bloomberg about how much Netflix paid for a handful of shows and standup specials, including The Closer and previous Chappelle contracts. According to Bloomberg, Netflix spent $24.1 million on The Closer, compared with $23.6 million for his 2019 show, and just $3.9 million for Bo Burnham's Emmy-winning special Inside. Squid Game, the biggest series debut in Netflix history, cost the company $21.4 million, the report said.

“We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company," the company said in a statement to Variety.

Netflix employees and external equality groups — including GLADD and the National Black Justice Coalition — have called for The Closer to be removed from the streaming service, arguing it contains hateful transphobic and homophobic rhetoric. In the special, Chappelle doubles down on his previous transphobic comments and defends the bigotry of anti-trans feminist JK Rowling. As of now, the special is still available on Netflix.

"With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better," David Johns, executive director of the NBJC, said to CNN. "Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community."

Netflix executives have said little publicly about the controversy, though CEO Ted Sarandos reportedly said in an internal memo that The Closer was too popular to remove.

The fired employee was a leader of the company's internal trans resource group, and was helping to organize a walkout in protest of Netflix's handling of the Chappelle special, The Verge reported. The walkout is planned for October 20th. The former employee is Black and pregnant, and actually spoke out against leaks with colleagues, arguing that they could hurt the walkout, according to The Verge.

Earlier this month, Netflix suspended a trans software engineer who tweeted her disapproval of the Chappelle special. The employee was reinstated a day later and Netflix said the suspension was due to an unrelated matter.

The Morning After: Apple Watch Series 7, reviewed

Apple still dominates the world of wearables. Over the last year, research company Canalys noted that smartwatch sales have actually overtaken basic bands and now account for 62 percent of all wearable shipments. And Apple’s versions lays claim to just under a third of all smartwatches sold.


That’s interesting because you need an iOS device to setup and use an Apple Watch, so the company has discounted all the Android phone users that might be interested in an Apple smartwatch. I’ve played with Fitbits, Samsung Galaxy Watches and the occasional Garmin, even, but nothing quite offers the capabilities and premium build-quality of an Apple Watch. (And this comes from someone who was averse to — and still bought — the first Apple smartwatch.)

So here we are for round 7. Apple’s Watch Series 7 goes on sale this Friday, and there seems to be a lot of interest in the bigger-screened watch, with pre-order screens soon showing early November delivery dates when Apple opened up orders. If you’ve already pre-ordered, well you probably don’t care about reviews! For the rest of us, Reviews Editor Cherlynn Low has put the wearable through its paces for the last week. We’ll take a closer look at her review below.

— Mat Smith

William Shatner becomes the oldest person to reach space

The Star Trek legend's Blue Origin flight went smoothly.

William Shatner has become the oldest person to fly to space. The 90-year-old Star Trek icon was one of four crew members aboard Blue Origin's NS-18 mission as it flew to an altitude of 66 miles. The sci-fi actor and random Engadget nemesis (there was a whole Twitter beef) edged out 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, who set the previous age record just a few months ago.

It's also some good publicity for Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos' private spaceflight outfit is currently grappling with accusations of a toxic work environment, not to mention the fallout of its legal tussle with SpaceX over NASA's Moon mission contract.

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Apple Watch Series 7 review

It’s all about the screen

According to Cherlynn Low, just a little bit more screen makes a huge difference on a device this small. Though it’s otherwise not a huge upgrade over its predecessor, the Apple Watch Series 7’s bigger screen makes it more user-friendly than ever. It’s a solid choice for anyone new to smartwatches or who's upgrading from a much older device. If you’re a Series 6 owner, however, you could probably wait until the next update. And if you’re looking for substantial sleep tracking, the Apple Watch still won’t be the right wearable for you.

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Apple may be exploring ways to use AirPods as health devices

They could potentially take your temperature and even check your posture.

Oh, the other wearable. Wall Street Journal sources claim Apple is exploring multiple ways it can use AirPods as health devices. It might use the buds as hearing aids, but it could also use the motion sensors to correct your posture. A prototype would even include a thermometer to check your core body temperature.

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HTC Vive Flow headset images leak days before reported launch

The device will set you back $499, according to the leaked images.


HTC is expected to launch a new VR headset within the week, but some leaked images have spoiled the party. A collection of Vive Flow images made its way online, courtesy of Evleaks over on Twitter, before the launch event. Looking like a lightweight steampunk VR fantasy, the goggles appear to be more for media viewing and light gaming than more substantial (or business-centric) capabilities. The images suggest the Vive Flow will be available for pre-order starting on October 15th, with shipments going out in early November.

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Facebook’s latest effort to curtail leaks immediately leaked

The social network is trying to lock down access to sensitive info.

Facebook is ramping up its fight against leakers following the disclosures of whistleblower Frances Haugen. According to a report from The New York Times, Facebook is limiting access to some internal groups that deal with “sensitive” issues like safety and elections. The change, which was made to prevent further leaks, immediately leaked. Which is hilarious.

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Bowers & Wilkins' new Zeppelin speaker was built for streaming

It'll come with built-in Alexa and cost $799.

Bowers & Wilkins has launched a new version of its iconic Zeppelin speaker, and the company says it was reimagined for the streaming age. It describes the new Zeppelin as "smarter and more flexible" than its predecessors, with built-in support for Amazon's Alexa.

B&W plans to give it multi-room capability in early 2022 through a software update. Once that arrives, users will be able to link several Zeppelins together or link a Zeppelin with other B&W speakers in a multi-room environment. A chain of Zeppelin speakers isn’t a cheap endeavor, however. Each new speaker will cost $799.

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Fujifilm launches its first wide-format Instax Link smartphone printer

Print Polaroid-like snapshots from your smartphone.


Fujifilm has revealed a new Instax printer that supports its wider, more Polaroid-like film. The Instax Link Wide Smartphone printer connects to your smartphone and prints out camera roll photos twice as wide as the credit-card-sized images from the original Instax mini Link printer. You can also directly transfer and print images from Fujifilm's X-S10 mirrorless camera.

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The biggest news stories you might have missed

Sony's new zoom lens has features designed for video creators

Anker's audio glasses pair swappable frames with 'surround' sound for $200

Bose's new rugged Bluetooth speaker floats in water

Riot Games disables all chat in 'League of Legends'

'Call of Duty: Warzone' and 'Vanguard' anti-cheat updates include a kernel-level driver

Roland SP-404MKII sampler hands-on: Dragging an iconic sampler into the modern age

AMD's Radeon RX 6600 is a $329 GPU for 1080p gaming

Apple TV+ will now have two series about unethical shrinks

On November 12th, The Shrink Next Door will debut on Apple TV+. Oddly enough, the Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd vehicle is one of two upcoming shows centered on unethical psychiatrists coming to the streaming service. This week, Apple announced a 10-episode order for Shrinking, a new series that will star Jason Segel as a therapist who tells his patients exactly what he thinks. Ted Lasso co-creator Bill Lawrence and star Brett Goldstein, who plays Roy Kent in the popular comedy series, will write and produce the new show alongside Segel.

It’s an interesting move for a company that, despite some recent successes, is one of the newer players in the streaming space and still building out its lineup while seeing what works. As ever, the company’s approach seems to be to give established talent the runway to create what they think people will want to watch.

Watch Blue Origin fly William Shatner to space at 8:30AM ET on October 13th

Provided there aren’t any last-minute delays, Star Trek actor William Shatner will fly to the edge of space on October 13th. You can watch the entire flight right here and on Engadget’s YouTube channel. Tune in at around 9:30 to see NS-18 lift off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One facility near Van Horn, Texas. The mission was originally scheduled to blast off on October 12th but was pushed back due to unfavorable weather conditions.

The upcoming launch comes some three months after Blue Origin successfully completed its first crewed flight on July 20th. If this latest flight is successful, Shatner, at 90, will become the oldest person to have made such a journey. The current record is held by aviation legend Wally Funk, who joined Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on the company’s inaugural flight.

Blue Origin delays William Shatner's spaceflight to October 13th

You'll have to wait ever-so-slightly longer to see Star Trek actor William Shatner head to space. Blue Origin has delayed Shatner's launch aboard NS-18 by a day to October 13th at 9:30AM Eastern following predictions of strong winds in West Texas. The rough weather was the "only gating factor," Blue Origin said in a statement, noting that the passengers began their training today (October 10th).

Shatner's flight is a publicity grab on multiple levels. It's no secret that Jeff Bezos' outfit is eager to have Captain Kirk reach space, but Shatner will also be the oldest person to make such a journey at 90 years old. The previous record-setter, aviation legend Wally Funk, traveled aboard a Blue Origin flight at 82 years old. Other passengers include Blue Origin mission VP Audrey Powers and two corporate executives, Planet Labs' Chris Boshuizen and Medidata's Glen de Vries.

The timing isn't great beyond the weather. The liftoff will come just weeks after an essay described a "toxic environment" at Blue Origin, including an alleged reluctance to deal with sexual harassment as well as poor attitudes toward safety, the environment and basic internal criticism. Shatner's flight might create positive buzz, but it might also paper over issues within Blue Origin's ranks.

Due to forecasted winds in West Texas we are pushing #NS18 launch target to Wednesday, October 13. Liftoff is targeted for 8:30 am CDT / 13:30 UTC. Live broadcast begins at T-90 mins on Stay tuned for more details.

— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 10, 2021

In 'No Time to Die,' Bond's gadgets matter less

At one point in No Time to Die, Daniel Craig's final entry as James Bond, you can see a sleek supercar in the background. It's the Aston Martin Valhalla, a 937hp beast of a plug-in hybrid, and it's just sitting there, with nowhere to go. If you've seen a Bond film before, you can imagine it's holding a slew of killer gadgets (though hopefully not invisibility). Surely it would appear later in the film, perhaps just in time to save our hero before he sips a martini from a built-in fridge. But no—nobody drives the car throughout the film's 163-minute runtime. We never even see it in motion. (Though that's not stopping Rocket League from pitching it as a Bond vehicle.)

Nicola Dove/DANJAQ, MGM

That undriven Chekhov's car makes one thing clear: No Time to Die, directed by Cary Joji-Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation), isn't your usual Bond movie. And as I watched the film, a momentous occasion after years of delays, I was struck by how few gadgets there were. Sure, Bond gets a cool watch, a classic bulletproof (and gun-equipped) Aston Martin and he rides in something called a gravity plane, but they come few and far in between. Instead, the film focuses on Bond's human drama: His inability to trust; his persistent death-wish; the danger he brings to others.

Craig's Bond was different from the beginning. In 2006's Casino Royale, he was a fledgling agent he hadn't yet earned his 00 status. He was gruff and dirty, more used to getting into Bourne-esque fights instead of wearing a tux. But the Bond writer's and producers could never quite settle on how they wanted to transform the character. 2008's Quantum of Solace was a disaster mired by the Hollywood writer's strike (not to mentioned completely incomprehensible action). Skyfall was a return to form, elevating the franchise with Roger Deakin's Oscar-nominated cinematography. But the series hit a new low with 2015's Spectre, a boring and regressive film I haven't had the heart to revisit.

Strangely, even though No Time to Die is Craig's final entry, it never tries to one-up the set pieces of its predecessors. There's a thrilling motorcycle chase early on, which features an astounding practical jump up a flight of stairs, a balletic shoot-out in Cuba, and a few smaller sequences later on. But the film cares less about spectacle than it does setting a mood. That may make it a divisive entry for some, but as someone fascinated by emotional action movies, like Michael Mann's much-maligned Miami Vice reboot, I found it endlessly compelling. (It helps that No Time to Die, like Casino Royale before it, actually makes you care about Bond and everyone in his orbit.)

When I chatted with No Time to Die's VFX supervisor, Charlie Noble, he had a hard time pointing to a specific whiz-bang set-piece. Unlike Tom Cruise's latest Mission Impossible movies, this Bond outing isn't built around a specific stunt or gadget. And after the emptiness of Spectre, I'm all for that. Noble says he's more concerned with subtle VFX work, like adding additional cars to the background of a chase, or removing wires from a dangerous stunt. Sometimes the best visual effects are the ones you don't even notice.

There's something genuinely refreshing about No Time to Die's practically lo-fi approach to action, especially after living through more than a decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's often weightless CG. Even something that's genuinely high-tech in the film, like a series of magnets the villains use to jump down an elevator shaft, aren't dwelled upon. Instead, the focus is on what that action means (in this case, it's a group of baddies stealing a potentially world-ending nanovirus from a high-security research facility.)

Nicola Dove/DANJAQ, MGM

Now don't get me wrong, I love a good Bond gadget or two. But for an aging franchise that seriously needs to reckon with its sexist and colonialist origins, I'm glad that No Time to Die decided to focus more on its characters. That includes Lashana Lynch's Nomi, who wastes no time taking up the 007 mantle when Bond disappears, as well as Paloma, a fresh spy recruit who joins for an action romp in Cuba. 

Daniel Craig may no longer be Bond, but this is a fitting end for his tenure. And the toys aren't going anywhere—now anyone can use them.

YouTube removes R. Kelly's official channels

YouTube has taken down R. Kelly's official channels after the singer was convicted of sex trafficking. The RKellyTV and RKellyVevo channels no longer exist and Kelly will not be allowed to create or own any other channel on the platform, YouTube told Reuters. YouTube made the move in line with its creator responsibility guidelines.

However, this isn't a blanket ban. Kelly's music will still be available on YouTube Music. Kelly videos that other users have uploaded will still be available. Engadget has asked YouTube for clarification on why that's the case.

Two women started a campaign in 2017 to have Kelly's music removed from streaming services and radio. Accusations have been made against him for decades. Prosecutors said Kelly used his fame to exploit women and underage girls and a federal jury found him guilty last month of sex trafficking.

Kelly's sentencing hearing will take place in May. The mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years in prison, though he faces up to life behind bars.

The Morning After: Facebook's empire goes offline

I locked myself out of my apartment yesterday. It’s a rare occurrence, but when it does happen, I usually text my building’s WhatsApp group, begging someone to buzz me in. So it was not a great time for Facebook’s entire network, including WhatsApp, Instagram (oh and Oculus), to collapse for six hours.

While it’s unclear exactly what happened, during the downtime, the company’s outgoing Chief Technology Officer, Michael Schroepfer, said it was due to “networking issues.”

Even within Facebook, the issues reportedly led to employees being unable to access emails, Workplace and other tools. The New York Times reported that employees were also physically locked out of offices as workers’ badges stopped working. Poor Facebook.

By 6 PM ET yesterday, most of the services were back, though Facebook for Business Status page still showed "major disruptions" to core services. On Facebook — when it was back online — CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the services going down.

That didn’t help me with my low-priority problem. Fortunately, I gleaned some of my neighbor’s phone numbers from WhatsApp, and sent a few SMS SOSes, ‘00s style. Twenty minutes later, I was finally back in my home.

— Mat Smith

Engadget reviews Windows 11

Microsoft’s most pleasant OS — until it isn't.


Windows 11 is almost here, and it is (generally) a solid step forward aesthetically from Windows 10. According to Devindra Hardawar, some of the changes may annoy long-time users. It’s a more secure OS as well, but that also means it’s more restrictive, hardware-wise, and potentially harder to upgrade. For those considering their options, we have a guide to exactly that.

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Facebook whistleblower reveals their identity

She says company 'chooses profits over safety'.

Internal documents published by The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that Facebook allowed VIPs to break its rules, and it was aware Instagram affected the mental health of teens. Now, the whistleblower who brought that information to light has revealed herself as Frances Haugen in an interview with 60 Minutes.

"I’ve seen a bunch of social networks, and it was substantially worse at Facebook than what I had seen before," Haugen told the show. "Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety."

Haugen joined Facebook in 2019, working on democracy and misinformation issues, while also handling counter-espionage, according to a personal website and Twitter account she and her team set up. She worked as a Facebook product manager and left the company in May.

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Blue Origin will fly William Shatner to the edge of space on October 12th

Going where Bezos has gone before.

After decades of pretending to explore the universe in TV shows and movies, William Shatner is actually going to space. Blue Origin's second tourist spaceflight is scheduled for October 12th. Shatner, 90, is to become the oldest person to fly to space. He'll take the record from 82-year-old aviation pioneer, Wally Funk, who was a passenger on New Shepard's first crewed flight in July.

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Apple Watch Series 7 pre-orders open on October 8th

Ready to wear on October 15th.


Apple has announced when you'll be able to snag an Apple Watch Series 7. Pre-orders start this Friday, October 8th, at 8 AM ET. The device, which starts at $399, will be available one week later on October 15th.

The biggest change this year is a larger, always-on display. Apple has bumped up the case size options to 41mm and 45mm while reducing the bezel to 1.7mm, meaning it should feel pretty similar to last-generation Watches, but with more screen. The user interface takes advantage of the larger screen, with a full, swipe-based QWERTY keyboard and two additional watch faces.

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The biggest news stories you might have missed

Apple makes it easier to report bad apps and scams

Amazon lets Prime members send gifts with only an email address or phone number

Crucial, PNY and Lexar storage is up to 32 percent off on Amazon today only

Sony's latest neckband speaker supports Dolby Atmos

Android 12 has been released to the Android Open Source Project

YouTube makes it easy to resume watching a mobile video on desktop

Facebook asks judge to dismiss FTC antitrust charges... again

Blue Origin will fly William Shatner to the edge of space on October 12th

After decades of pretending to explore the universe in TV shows and movies, William Shatner is actually going to space. Blue Origin's second tourist spaceflight is scheduled for October 12th. The Star Trek actor and apparent Twitter verification gatekeeper will be one of New Shepard's passengers.

Shatner, 90, is set to become the oldest person to fly to space. He'll take the record from 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, who was a passenger on New Shepard's first crewed flight in July.

Two incredible and inspirational people will join the #NS18 crew. Actor @WilliamShatner and Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations Audrey Powers @AudreyKPowers.

— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) October 4, 2021

Joining Shatner on the flight is Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers. The company previously announced Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Medidata co-founder Glen de Vries will be the other passengers. It's the second of three launches Blue Origin has planned for this year.

The next New Shepard flight will take place after the Federal Aviation Administration said it's looking into safety concerns current and former employees flagged in a joint essay last week. Alongside allegations of sexual harassment and attempts to silence internal critics, the group said the company "is not sufficiently attuned to safety concerns." According to CNBC, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith told employees the company "went through a methodical and pain-staking process to certify" New Shepard and that "anyone that claims otherwise is uninformed and simply incorrect."

'Seinfeld' hits Netflix, but some jokes have been cropped out of view

Classic '90s sitcom Seinfeldjust landed on Netflix after a six-year run on Hulu. Given that the show was filmed years before HD was a thing, it was originally displayed in a 4:3 aspect ratio on TV (and the DVD sets that came years later). But on Netflix, the show has been cropped into a 16:9 widescreen format to fit on modern TVs. As noted by Rolling Stone, that means some visual gags have literally been erased. 

to emphasize, the titular pothole from the season 8 episode The Pothole is cropped out on Netflix

— Brandon (spooky version) (@Thatoneguy64) October 1, 2021

Twitter users @boriskarkov and @Thatoneguy64 succinctly pointed out the problem with a specific episode called "The Pothole." In the episode, George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld are trying to find George's lost keys, which were dropped in a pothole that was then paved over. In a crop where George wildly yells at the pothole, the Netflix crop removes the pothole entirely. The 16:9 aspect ratio probably also cuts out some other gags in the series — or at the very least, it might be a jarring experience for people used to how the show originally looked.

Of course, this isn't a new problem. Crops of Seinfeld have been on cable TV for years, and Hulu also showed the series in 16:9, as well. Given Netflix's popularity, Seinfeld is getting lots of extra attention right now, and thus a bunch of new viewers are probably checking it out who might not have seen it on Hulu. A similar controversy happened in late 2019 when the entire run of The Simpsons hit Disney+. After plenty of complaints about missed visual gags, Disney eventually released the seasons that aired in 4:3 in their original aspect ratio. Hopefully Netflix will do the same thing with Seinfeld — but in the meantime, as with many classic shows, the most authentic way to watch them is probably on DVD.