Samsung users: unplug your Ethernet! Millions of Samsung Blu-Ray and DVD players are being bricked all around the world.
Entertainment has become one of the biggest tools for keeping sane during these trying times but while many companies are aggressively pushing their streaming services, others still prefer owning the media they buy in physical form. That mostly means DVDs and Blu-ray discs which, of course, require appropriate devices to play them.
But what if those devices all suddenly stopped working for no apparent reason? That’s the rather eerie and frustrating situation that owners of Samsung Blu-ray players are now experiencing around the world with no answer or solution yet in sight.
There doesn’t seem to be any common denominator other than the fact that it’s happening across a number of Samsung’s WiFi or Ethernet-connected Blu-ray and DVD players. It doesn't appear to matter which model.
The most common behavior reported is that the players reboot themselves after a few seconds, causing an inescapable boot loop. Others have reported hearing noises as if the players were reading empty disc slots.
Given the mysterious and sudden appearance of the bug, some people have different theories on what caused it. Some blame an overnight firmware update but the range of devices covered is so wide and random that it seems less likely. Some believe it may be an expired SSL security certificate in the firmware, which could explain why no amount of resetting the device to factory settings seems to work.
Unfortunately, Samsung remains unresponsive despite the growing number of complaints, possibly due to how it happened during the weekend. Given global conditions, it’s understandable how owners are not so amused, especially if it will require them to turn in the device for manual servicing.
Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson
Fifa game developer EA Sports promises that the next-generation version of Fifa 21 will feature new technology to make it the most realistic yet.
The Fifa series remains one of the most popular video game franchises in the world.
Next year's entry will release for both existing consoles as well as the new Xbox Series X and Playstation 5. But EA says the newer consoles will take advantage of more advanced technology.
Despite regular criticism that the annual game is often very similar to the previous year's entry, it had sold over 260 million copies as of 2018.
EA says its newest title will feature more life-like player movements, which it says will be "the most authentic character behaviours ever seen in sports video games".
The next-generation editions will feature significantly reduced loading times, and the PS5 version will take advantage of haptic feedback on the console's DualSense controller. New rendering and lighting techniques will also help to increase the overall realism of the game.
Fans in the stadium stands will also be more interactive, even participating in celebrations.
Fifa 21 will be released worldwide in October, before the new consoles launch. The PS5 and Xbox Series X versions, with their advanced features, will be available later - but EA is offering a free upgrade path to players who buy the game on the previous generation early.
Sadly, Nintendo Switch gamers won't get to experience any of the franchise's new models or gameplay innovations. The lower-powered portable console will instead get a "legacy edition" release that will include only new kits and teams and an updated menu and overlay system.
EA has promised to reveal more about the game in the coming months.
Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash
Elon Musk's SpaceX has applied to offer high-speed internet to Canadians living in remote areas using satellite technology.
Over the past year, SpaceX has launched more than 500 satellites into Earth orbit to build its Starlink mega-constellation, which aims to make satellite internet available from practically anywhere on the planet.
SpaceX applied with Canada's telecom regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), for what's known as a Basic International Telecommunications Services, or BITS, licence.
That's a requirement for any company that wants to offer what the CRTC calls "telecommunications traffic between Canada and any other country."
If they are successful in getting a BITS licence, that means SpaceX — whose formal company name is Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — could theoretically try to offer more wireless telecom services down the line, such as voice and data plans. But for now, the application focuses on high-speed internet, beamed directly into rural homes and businesses via the company's existing network of so-called near-Earth satellites.
Canada is far from the only place SpaceX is trying to offer internet service. The company is planning to offer high-speed internet services in the United States later this year through a subsidiary known as Starlink before "rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021," as they say on the company web site.
CRTC data suggests as many as 40 per cent of Canadians who don't live in major urban areas do not have access to high-speed internet, and what is available is often prohibitively expensive.
The issue has taken on increased importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, as millions of Canadians find themselves working from home, with seemingly no end in sight.
The application was filed in May, and the deadline for public comment was last Friday. More than 1,200 Canadians have weighed in on the proposal, a large number of them in support of it.
Elon Musk says the new service won't require a special installer. "There's just two instructions and they can be done in either order: point at sky, plug in."
Starlink hopes to make its services available worldwide, and you can receive a notification once it's available in your area by signing up at starlink.com
Sent to us by: Bekah Ferguson
Google’s Area 120 team, an internal incubator that creates experimental apps and services, has launched Keen: a would-be Pinterest rival that draws on the search giant’s machine learning expertise to curate topics.
Available on the web at staykeen.com and on Android, co-founder CJ Adams says Keen aims to be an alternative to “mindlessly” browsing online feeds.
Adams writes in a blog post, "On Keen [...] you say what you want to spend more time on, and then curate content from the web and people you trust to help make that happen. You make a ‘keen,’ which can be about any topic, whether it’s baking delicious bread at home, getting into birding or researching typography. Keen lets you curate the content you love, share your collection with others and find new content based on what you have saved."
Pinterest has already captured the hobby-focused side of this market with its pinboard-style visual design — two characteristics that Keen is trying to imitate. But Keen has Google’s expertise in machine learning, which Adams says will surface “helpful content related to your interests.”
It’s interesting to see Google push its machine learning systems into more varied applications. Especially those that seem like they’re trying to foster users’ interests in rewarding hobbies, rather than algorithms that drive people to greater engagement without caring what it is they’re actually engaging with.
Will you give Keen a try? Are your interests such that you don't mind Google knowing what you're into? Comment below if you're watching online, or hop onto our web site to post your thoughts.
Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson
On Episode 648 just 7 weeks ago, we talked about how Apple plans to drop Intel for its own processors for future Macs. But it came as a surprise Monday that these processors will be ARM-based.
It’s a big move, and perhaps the biggest addition the transition to ARM-powered chips brings is the ability for iOS and iPad apps to run natively on macOS in the future. Apple says “Most apps will just work,” meaning you’ll be able to run native macOS apps alongside native iOS apps, side-by-side.
Apple is promising new levels of performance and far less power consumption with its move to in-house processors. Apple is designing its own range of SoC for Macs, with unique features to Mac, but a common architecture across product lines.
Microsoft is working on Office updates for the new Mac silicon, and Word and Excel are already running natively on the new Mac processors, with PowerPoint even using Apple’s Metal tech for rendering. Apple has also been working with Adobe to get their photo editing apps up and running on the new chips.
macOS Big Sur will also include a new version of Rosetta. Apple used Rosetta previously for the PowerPC shift to Intel-based Macs, and Rosetta 2 will automatically translate existing apps at install time. This means that even if developers haven’t fully updated their apps, they should still work without modification. Apple is also using virtualization for running versions of Linux on these new Macs.
Apple’s transition to ARM follows a similar move by Microsoft to experiment with Windows on ARM nearly a decade ago. Microsoft started this work ahead of the Windows 8 release in 2012, and even released the Windows RT operating system that was designed for ARM-based hardware. Microsoft has since transitioned Windows 10 to ARM as well.
Apple will release the first Mac with Apple silicon at the end of this year, and it expects the transition to take two years. New Intel-powered Macs are still in the pipeline, so Apple isn’t moving exclusively to ARM-based Macs just yet.
Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson
Microsoft is shutting down Mixer, its video game live streaming platform, in a move that will affect streamers from Tyler "Ninja" Blevins on down.
In a statement released on Mixer's official blog on Monday, the streaming service announced that it will be shuttering its operations side and will help Mixer streamers transition to Facebook Gaming. Starting on July 22, mixer.com will redirect to fb.gg.
In a similar statement on its blog, Facebook Gaming noted that Mixer streamers that choose to move to Facebook Gaming will be matching partner agreements "as closely as possible".
Most famously, Ninja had signed an exclusivity deal with Mixer in August 2019 for reportedly around $20-30 million per year. In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft's head of gaming, Phil Spencer, said that the move to shut down Mixer was a strategic one.
Spencer said, "It wasn't as much about return on sell, it was about finding a partnership that was the best things for the community and streamers. We think this is it, and it gives us a great place to launch more xCloud content and give gamers the ability to play from there.
While media is focused almost entirely on the result to streamers, the fact remains Mixer is closing down without so much as notifying its staff. Trust and Safety staffer, Jesuki, said on Twitter Monday, "Guys, we had no clue. I found out with the rest of you. I am devastated. I have dedicated all I have to this platform and this hurts immensely."
According to Microsoft, Mixer's intellectual property and staff will be transferred to the Microsoft Teams division on July 22, but Jesuki makes it sound like that's not the case at all. She tweeting a call for employers to reach out to her if they're looking to hire "a strong willed empowered female who focuses on efficiency and high productivity with a team mentality," and she retweeted iamBrandon, who said, "There are a lot of people out of jobs now due to Mixer closing. During a pandemic. What the hell."
Launched in January 2016 as "Beam," Mixer was renamed after its acquisition by Microsoft in 2017. The platform's attempt to compete with Twitch resulted in the signings of major Twitch streamers such as Ninja and Shroud for huge monetary deals. Despite these moves, Mixer was unable to significantly approach Twitch's larger audience numbers.
Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson