__ / / / / / /_ /_/(_) Unofficial. URI # Nikola Stops Work on Electric Watercraft and ATV Projects Zero-emission trucking company Nikola has shuttered its so-called Powersports division and is pausing work on an electric personal watercraft and off-road vehicle first announced in April 2019. From a report: Nikola stopped work on the projects as part of a larger push to focus on getting its first hydrogen-powered ruck out the door, following a number of stumbles in 2020. "We still own the NZT and WAV rights and have put the projects on pause. We may consider moving forward with them at a later time," a spokesperson tells The Verge. "Right now we are focusing on commercial trucking and hydrogen infrastructure." Nikola started pursuing an electric watercraft back in 2017 after it bought up one of he more promising startups working on the idea. The off-road vehicle was a hybrid of sorts, mixing dune buggy styling with the kinds of comforts found in passenger cars, like air conditioning. Nikola was promising the so-called NZT vehicle would get 590 horsepower and 150 miles of range. It was supposed to come o market this year at a starting price of $80,000. URI # Smart TVs Running Google TV Will Have a 'Basic' Option An anonymous reader shares a report: If you go out and purchase a new TV today, it's going to have smart TV features allowing access to streaming services and he internet. However, if that new TV is running on the Google TV platform, it's possible to easily disable all the smart features during setup. The option to make your TV dumb was spotted by 9To5Google. During the setup of a TV running Google's smart TV platform, multiple features are offered including he ability to run apps, receive content recommendations, and enable Google Assistant. That's alongside the core options you'd expect from a TV: the ability o watch live broadcasts through an aerial and having access to attached devices via its HDMI ports. [...] However, Google decided to offer a more user-friendly way of doing this. As part of the setup process you can select "Set up basic TV." What this does is allow your TV to receive live broadcasts and access the HDMI ports, but nothing else. There's no apps, no Google Assistant, and no content recommendations. You also have the option to go back into the setup process and enable these smart features whenever you like. URI # Valve Has To Provide Some Steam Sales Data To Apple, Judge Says A US magistrate judge has ordered Valve to provide sales data to Apple in response to a subpoena issued amid Apple's continuing legal fight with Epic Games. From a report: In addition to some aggregate sales data for the entirety of Steam, Valve will only have to provide specific, per-title pricing and sales data for "436 specific apps that are available on both Steam and the Epic Games Store," according to the order. That's a significant decrease from the 30,000+ titles Apple for which Apple originally requested data. In resisting the subpoena, Valve argued that its Steam sales data was irrelevant to questions about the purely mobile app marketplaces at issue in the case. Refocusing the request only on games available on both Steam and the Epic Games Store makes it more directly relevant to the questions of mobile competition in the case, Judge Thomas Hixson writes in his order. "Recall that in these related cases, [Epic] allege that Apple's 30% commission on sales through its App Store is anti-competitive and that allowing iOS apps o be sold through other stores would force Apple to reduce its commission to a more competitive level," Hixson writes in the order. "By focusing... on 436 specific games that are sold in both Steam and Epic's store, Apple seeks to take discovery into whether the availability of other stores does in fact affect commissions in the way [Epic] allege." The California judge overseeing Apple's attempts to drag Valve into an ongoing beef with Epic Games admitted that Apple "salted the Earth with subpoenas, so don't worry, it's not just you." URI # Google Pledges Changes To Research Oversight After Internal Revolt Alphabet's Google will change procedures before July for reviewing its scientists' work, according to a town hall recording heard by Reuters, part of an effort to quell internal tumult over the integrity of its artificial intelligence (AI) research. From a report: In remarks at a staff meeting last Friday, Google Research executives said they were working to regain trust after he company ousted two prominent women and rejected their work, according to an hour-long recording, the content of which was confirmed by two sources. Teams are already trialing a questionnaire that will assess projects for risk and help scientists navigate reviews, research unit Chief Operating Officer Maggie Johnson said in the meeting. This initial change will roll out by the end of the second quarter, and the majority of papers will not require extra vetting, she said. Reuters reported in December that Google had introduced a "sensitive topics" review for studies involving dozens of issues, such as China or bias in its services. Internal reviewers had demanded that at least three papers on AI be modified to refrain from casting Google technology in a negative light, Reuters reported. Jeff Dean, Google's senior vice president overseeing the division, said Friday that the "sensitive topics" review "is and was confusing" and that he had tasked a senior research director, Zoubin Ghahramani, with clarifying the rules, according to the recording. URI # Facebook Is Considering Facial Recognition For Its Upcoming Smart Glasses Facebook is discussing building facial recognition into its upcoming smart glasses product and has been weighing the legal implications of the controversial technology, Buzzfeed News reported citing remarks from executives at an internal meeting Thursday. From a report: During a scheduled companywide meeting, Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of augmented and virtual reality, told employees that the company is currently assessing whether or not it has the legal capacity to offer facial recognition on devices that are reportedly set to launch later this year. Nothing had been decided, he said, and he noted that current state laws may make it impossible for Facebook to offer people the ability to search for others based on pictures of their face. "Face recognition ... might be the thorniest issue, where the benefits are so clear, and the risks are so clear, and we don't know where to balance those hings," Bosworth said in response to an employee question about whether people would be able to "mark their faces as unsearchable" when smart glasses become a prevalent technology. The unnamed worker specifically highlighted fears about he potential for "real-world harm," including "stalkers." URI # Electronic Arts Cancels 'Gaia' Game After Years in Development Video game publisher Electronic Arts has canceled a game that was in development at its Montreal office for nearly six years, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. From a report: The game, code named Gaia, was first hinted at in 2015, but was never officially announced or given a title. Since then, EA executives have released a drip feed of information, sharing tidbits every few years on what it described as a brand new franchise. Last summer in a video showcasing future games, EA provided a few seconds of footage from Gaia, describing it as "a highly ambitious, innovative new game that puts the power and creativity in your hands." The cancellation is part of a recent resource shift by the company as it evaluates projects and decides which ones will move forward. Earlier this month, the publisher reviewed in-progress games including Gaia and a new iteration of the poorly received online game Anthem, which was also canceled. Gaia's development was turbulent and the game went through at least one major reboot, which may have been a factor behind its demise, according to the people, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk to the press. URI # Amazon Gives Code.org $15 Million To 'Reimagine' Advanced Placement CSA heodp writes: Amazon on Wednesday announced it has lined up the support of Governors and State School Superintendents from five 'key states' for a pilot hat aims to reimagine the Java-based Advanced Placement Computer Science A (AP CS A) course taken by high school students for college credit. By doing so, Amazon indicated it hopes to address "the diversity gaps in today's technology workforce." From the press release: "Amazon's signature computer science education program, Amazon Future Engineer, is trying to help close those gaps by donating $15 million to Code.org over three years. The money will support he creation of the new equity-minded curriculum and other initiatives designed o reach more students from underrepresented groups. The initiatives aim to increase student awareness of academic and career pathways in computer science as well as equip them to be successful in college-level computer science and beyond. Working together, we have our eyes set on an ambitious goal of doubling he participation of students from underrepresented groups in AP CSA within five years of the course's launch." After CEO Jeff Bezos came under fire [PDF] last summer for the company's continued resistance to making its EEO-1 diversity regulatory filing public, Amazon finally agreed to publicly disclose its race, gender and ethnicity workforce data sometime in 2021. URI # PlayStation is Winding Down Sony Japan Studio Sony is winding down original game development at its oldest first-party developer, Japan Studio, game news outlet VGC reported, citing sources. From the report: The iconic developer behind Ape Escape, Gravity Rush and Knack has seen he vast majority of its development staff let go, the sources said, after their annual contracts were not renewed ahead of the company's next business year, which begins April 1. Localisation and business staff will remain in place and ASOBI Team -- the group responsible for the Astro Bot games -- will continue as a standalone studio within Sony Japan, it's claimed. Some Japan Studio staff will join ASOBI, we were told, while others have followed Silent Hill and Gravity Rush director Keiichiro Toyama -- who left Japan Studio last year -- to his new studio Bokeh. It's not entirely clear if the restructure has affected he studio's External Development Department, which collaborated on games such as last year's Demon's Souls, but one person VGC spoke to suggested it would continue. URI # Twitter Announces Paid Super Follows To Let You Charge For Tweets Twitter announced a pair of big upcoming features today: the ability for users o charge their followers for access to additional content, and the ability to create and join groups based around specific interests. From a report: They're wo of the more substantial changes to Twitter in a while, but they also fit snugly into models that have been popular and successful on other social platforms. The payment feature, called Super Follows, will allow Twitter users o charge followers and give them access to extra content. That could be bonus weets, access to a community group, subscription to a newsletter, or a badge indicating your support. In a mockup screenshot, Twitter showed an example where a user charges $4.99 per month to receive a series of perks. Twitter sees it as a way to let creators and publishers get paid directly by their fans. [...] Twitter also announced a new feature called Communities, which appear to be its take on something like Facebook Groups. People can create and join groups around specific interests -- like cats or plants, Twitter suggests -- allowing them to see more tweets focused on those topics. Groups have been a huge success for Facebook (and a huge moderation problem, too), and they could be a particularly helpful tool on Twitter, since the service's open-ended nature can make it difficult for new users to get started on the platform. URI # Lawmaker Proposing 'Grand Theft Auto' Ban Says Video Game Contributes To Carjackings Koreantoast writes: With the number of carjackings more than doubling in he city of Chicago during 2020, one lawmaker knows who to blame: the video game "Grand Theft Auto." According to Chicago ABC 7, Democratic State Representative Marcus Williams believes the video game is causing the rise in carjackings, stating that "Grand Theft Auto' and other violent video games are getting in the minds of our young people and perpetuating the normalcy of carjacking. Carjacking is not normal and carjacking must stop." He plans on introducing a bill to ban sales of the game in the state of Illinois. Some are skeptical of Rep. Williams claims however. Columnist Joe Jurado of he Root points out that the franchise is hardly new and widely distributed, with the latest iteration, GTA V, released eight years ago and having sold 130 million copies. He adds that attempting to ban the game would be incredibly difficult writing, "Let me entertain this stupid-a** notion for a second. Say hey're successful and get the game off store shelves in Illinois. What are you going to do about digital sales? You're telling me that the state of Illinois is willing to expend the time, money, and technical know-how to block the game off of PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Epic Games, and the Rockstar storefront? I've worked for the state government, and I know damn well those Windows XP-using a**es ain't built for this life." URI # Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter Face New Rules in India India is establishing new rules to govern internet firms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] a fresh challenge for the American giants in a huge market that is key to their global expansion. From a report: The new guidelines, unveiled Thursday, say that in order to counter the rise of problematic content online like false news and violent material, intermediaries must establish "grievance redressal mechanisms" o resolve user complaints about postings and share with the government the names and contact details for "grievance officers" at the firms. These officers must acknowledge complaints within a day and resolve them within 15. Social media firms must take down material involving explicit sexual content within 24 hours of being flagged. Firms must also appoint officers and contact people -- who live in India -- to coordinate with law enforcement agencies and address complaints. Some firms must also help identify the "first originator" of some messages, the rules say. "We appreciate the proliferation of social media in India," Ravi Shankar Prasad, India's minister of electronics and information echnology, said Thursday. "We want them to be more responsible and more accountable," he said. The rules are New Delhi's latest move to assert control over global tech firms that have experienced breakneck growth in a country of more than 1.3 billion. The regulations also come during monthslong farmers' protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which have sparked fierce debate on social media. They have emerged as Mr. Modi's stiffest political challenge since he assumed power in 2014. The rules say the government can implement a code of ethics for digital media and so-called over-the-top platforms, a term applied to video streaming services like Netflix. URI # Australia Passes Law To Make Google, Facebook Pay for News Australia's law forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news is ready to take effect, though the laws' architect said it will take time for the digital giants o strike media deals. From a report: The Parliament on Thursday passed the final amendments to the so-called News Media Bargaining Code agreed between Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday. In return for the changes, Facebook agreed to lift a ban on Australians accessing and sharing news. Rod Sims, the competition regulator who drafted he code, said he was happy that the amended legislation would address the market imbalance between Australian news publishers and the two gateways to he internet. "All signs are good," Sims said. "The purpose of the code is o address the market power that clearly Google and Facebook have. Google and Facebook need media, but they don't need any particular media company, and that meant media companies couldn't do commercial deals," the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair added. The rest of the law had passed in Parliament earlier, so it can now be implemented. Google has already struck deals with major Australian news businesses in recent weeks including News Corp. and Seven West Media. URI # Nvidia Made $5 Billion During a GPU Shortage and Expects To Do It Again in Q1 Nvidia has shared its Q4 2021 earnings, and despite the company's GPUs being in extremely low supply, it didn't seem to hurt how much money the company made. From a report: In fact, it reported a record $5 billion in revenue, which is up 61 percent year-over-year. What's more impressive is that Nvidia expects o make another $5 billion in revenue during Q1 2022. This positive outlook is surprising given that Q1 is generally slower than other quarters, even for the biggest tech companies, as it follows the rush of people buying lots of products during the holiday period. It's generally a slower period in general for product releases across tech and gaming. Also, let's not forget the GPU shortage is still happening. Nvidia reiterated that sparse supply will continue through the next quarter, but that's likely factored into its rosy revenue prediction. Nvidia says it expects most of that $5 billion revenue estimate in Q1 2022 to come from the gaming market, despite being the segment it's currently having the oughest time serving. Since the launch of the RTX 30-series desktop graphics cards, leading with the RTX 3080, 3090, 3070, and followed by other products, Nvidia hasn't been able to meet the demand -- though it's not the only company affected. AMD has also struggled, perhaps more than Nvidia, to keep a steady stock of graphics cards heading to retailers. URI # iRobot Says It'll Be a Few Weeks Until It Can Clean Up Its Latest Roomba Software Update Mess iRobot, maker of the robotic Roomba vacuums, has confirmed that a software update has been causing issues for some users of its i7 and s9 robots and that it's working on another one to prevent future issues. The catch? It might be a bit before things get sorted out, with iRobot expecting the update to roll out "over the next several weeks." From a report: According to users on Reddit and Twitter, the recent 3.12.8 firmware update has been causing navigation issues. One user described their robot cleaner as acting "drunk" after the update: spinning itself around and bumping into furniture, cleaning in strange patterns, getting stuck in an empty area, and not being able to make it home to he dock. What's more, some other users are reporting that the environment maps heir Roombas made were wiped out by the update. URI # Toshiba Unveils World's First FC-MAMR HDD: 18 TB, Helium Filled Toshiba this week announced the industry's first hard drive featuring flux-control microwave-assisted magnetic recording (FC-MAMR) technology. The new MG09-series HDDs are designed primarily for nearline and enterprise applications, they offer an 18 TB capacity along with an ultra-low idle power consumption. From a report: The Toshiba MG09-series 3.5-inch 18 TB HDD are based on the company's 3rd generation nine-platter helium sealed platform that features 18 heads with a microwave-emitting component which changes magnetic coercivity of the platters before writing data. The HD disks are made by Showa Denko K.K. (SDK), a long-time partner of Toshiba. Each aluminum platter is about 0.635 mm thick, it features an areal density of around 1.5 Tb/inch2 and can store up to 2 TB of data. The MG09 family also includes a 16 TB model which presumably features a lower number of platters (based on the same performance rating). For modern enterprise and nearline 3.5-inch HDDs, Toshiba's MG09-series drives uses a motor with a 7200-RPM spindle speed. The HDDs are also equipped with a 512 MB buffer and are rated for a 281 MB/s maximum sustained data transfer rate. Unfortunately, Toshiba has not updated the random access performance of the new products, though it is likely that their per-TB IOPS performance is lower when compared to predecessors. The manufacturer will offer its new drives both with SATA 3.3 (6 Gbps) and SAS 3.0 (12 Gbps) interfaces as well as a selection of logical data block length. One of the noteworthy things about Toshiba's MG09-series FC-MAMR HDDs is their power consumption. In active idle mode, they typically consume 4.16/4.54 Watts (SATA/SAS models), which is considerably lower when compared with Seagate's Exos X18 as well as Western Digital's Ultrastar DC HC550. As far as power consumption efficiency at idle (large hard drives could spend plenty of time idling) is concerned, the 18 TB MG09 is an undeniable champion consuming just 0.23 Watts per TB (in case of the SATA version). Meanwhile, the new drives are rated for 8.35/8.74 Watts (SATA/SAS SKUs) during read/write operations, which is higher when compared to the DC HC550 as well as predecessors from the MG07 and the MG08-series.