• Golden State updates the dystopian thriller for the #FakeNews era
    by Andrew Liptak on February 16, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    American speculative fiction can trace its roots back to the country’s puritanical origins, which left its mark on a wide range of authors. Starting with Nathaniel Hawthorne and continuing through Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood, these writers focus on the role that their characters play in society at large, and what those societies do to keep their subjects in line. That influence cuts through Ben H. Winters’ latest novel, Golden State, in which a police officer uncovers a troubling conspiracy in an alternate future where truth is absolute, and where lying is swiftly and severely punished. The country of Golden State sits on what used to be California, and Winters quickly illustrates the state’s response to lying. His main... Continue reading […]

  • Denis Villeneuve’s Dune will hit theaters in November 2020
    by Andrew Liptak on February 16, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    We finally know when Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune will come out: November 20th, 2020, according to Variety. The film is the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 science fiction novel, set on a desert planet in a feudal galaxy. Villeneuve comes to the film with an impressive track record when it comes to science fiction, first with his first contact film Arrival, and with Blade Runner 2049. Last year, the director said in an interview that his goal was to direct two films, which Herbert’s son Brian backed up, saying that the first screenplay roughly covered the first half of the novel. Already, we’ve seen a steady drip of casting news, revealing a spectacular cast for the project. Villeneuve’s film is the latest... Continue reading […]

  • Hasbro’s new Fortnite Nerf guns launch on March 22nd, with preorders starting today
    by Nick Statt on February 16, 2019 at 12:46 am

    Hasbro, owner of the Nerf brand, today revealed its full lineup of Fortnite-themed Nerf products, including the previously announced AR-L Elite blaster modeled after the SCAR in Epic Games’ hit battle royale game. Prior to today, only the AR-L Elite was confirmed back when the line was first announced in October. At the time, that product had a ship date of June 1st, 2019 and a price tag of $49.99. That price tag stays the same, but Hasbro says all of the products will now start shipping on March 22nd. Preorders start today through the Hasbro Pulse website, although the company says you’ll also be able to order them well through Amazon, Target, and Walmart when the full product listings go live at some point in the future. Nerf’s... Continue reading […]

  • President of United States reposts video from winner of Infowars meme contest
    by Julia Alexander on February 15, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    President Trump tweeted a video today from a YouTuber known for winning an Infowars meme contest. The video, from a creator who goes by Carpe Donktum, primarily mocks the reactions of Democrats who attended this year’s State of the Union. Trump didn’t call out Donktum or Donktum’s channel specifically (although there is a watermark on the video), but far-right personalities like Mike Cernovich and Scott Adams congratulated Donktum on the newfound attention. Trump has sparked controversy retweeting far-right sources in the past Trump has tweeted images and videos that originated with the far-right online community before, sometimes provoking controversy. Trump found himself under international criticism last year after retweeting... Continue reading […]

  • Apple buys AI voice startup that helps companies build Alexa and Google Assistant apps
    by Nick Statt on February 15, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Apple has acquired a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence startup called PullString that specializes in helping companies build conversational voice apps, according to a report from Axios. Pullstring was founded back in 2011 by former Pixar employees — its CEO, Oren Jacob, is Pixar’s former chief technology officer. Up until now, PullString was most well known within the tech industry as the software backbone behind voice systems for popular toys, like Mattell’s talking Hello Barbie doll. It’s not clear what Apple will be getting out of the deal, which is said to be worth under $100 million, but well over the $44 million in venture capital funding PullString has amassed thus far. But beyond toys, PullString has also worked on the... Continue reading […]

  • Apple’s latest iPhone ad shows a different kind of portrait mode ‘fail’
    by Chris Welch on February 15, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Portrait mode causes some uncomfortable tension between two parents in Apple’s latest iPhone commercial, which has got to be one of the funnier spots that the company has produced in some time. In the ad, one mother is swiping through photos of the group’s kids when another notices that her son has been blurred and made unrecognizable by the iPhone’s portrait mode. She asks, “Did you... bokeh my child?” The ensuing conversation demonstrates how the effect can be dialed back or turned off altogether to get both kids in sharp focus — but the damage has already been done. Be considerate with your bokeh, people. This is also advice that extends to Android, as many devices now offer adjustable portrait blur. Apple doesn’t usually go for... Continue reading […]

  • Twitter has been storing your ‘deleted’ DMs for years
    by Chaim Gartenberg on February 15, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    Twitter lets users delete direct messages from their own side of the conversation (the recipient will still get to keep a copy, unless they also choose to delete it). But it turns out, those deleted messages aren’t really getting removed at all, according to a report from security researcher Karan Saini, via TechCrunch. It turns out that despite showing that the message was deleted, Twitter still stores all those DMs dating back years. Folks can access this simply by downloading the archived data on their account from Twitter. Saini confirms that even messages sent to and from deleted or suspended accounts are still accessible. Now, this isn’t the most concerning of bugs — the data appears to only be available to the user that sent or... Continue reading […]

  • Uber sues to overturn New York City’s cap on new ride-hail drivers
    by Andrew J. Hawkins on February 15, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Uber filed a lawsuit on Friday to overturn New York City’s first-in-the-nation law capping the number of ride-hail drivers that operate on its streets. The law, which went into effect last August, paused the issuance of new licenses to drivers for 12 months. But Uber wants the law overturned for fear that the city will ultimately make the cap permanent. The law was part of a sweeping legislative package passed by the New York City Council last summer to give regulators more control over e-hail companies. In addition to the cap, the city council also approved a minimum pay standard among drivers, with the goal of reducing how much time empty cars spend on the road. Uber fears the city will ultimately make the cap permanent Supporters... Continue reading […]

  • Newly signed funding bill gives NASA’s budget a significant boost
    by Loren Grush on February 15, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    After enduring the longest government shutdown in history, NASA stands to receive a big boost in funding for fiscal year 2019, thanks to a new budget bill signed by President Trump today. The legislation, which funds the federal government through September 30th, 2019, would give NASA $21.5 billion — an increase over last year’s budget of $20.7 billion and much more than the $19.9 billion the agency asked for. Practically every major program within NASA will receive a boost. The agency’s science programs, which cover planetary missions and Earth science, will receive a total $6.9 billion, up from $6.2 billion from last year. The human exploration program will get $5 billion, while it got $4.79 billion in 2018. many of the NASA missions... Continue reading […]

  • Niantic is tweaking Pokémon Go to settle a lawsuit with angry homeowners
    by Adi Robertson on February 15, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Pokémon Go developer Niantic has agreed to settle a lawsuit with people who had PokéStops placed near their houses, and it’s making some minor game changes as part of the deal. The settlement appeared in court filings yesterday, and it’s still awaiting a judge’s approval. It won’t resolve some big legal questions about how augmented reality mixes with physical property laws — but it should make life easier for people who find unwanted Pokémon Go players around their homes. Niantic agreed to implement several new features and policies under the settlement, which will be binding for the next three years. Homeowners can already have pokémon gyms or PokéStops removed from private property, but Niantic now promises to resolve complaints... Continue reading […]

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