‘GTA Online’ update brings new multiplayer mode and patriotic swag

Rockstar’s new update for Grand Theft Auto Online is (mostly) all about Independence Day, a holiday Americans will be celebrating through the weekend and, some, until Tuesday. The goods, which are now live, include an adversary mode dubbed “Dawn Raid,” where two teams of up to six people can parachute into a combat zone and battle it out to find hidden packages. And, since this is a 4th of July-themed update after all, you’ll also get a bunch of patriotic Stars and Stripes swag, including weapons and apparel for your avatar.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/gta-online-dawn-raid-dewbauchee-vagner/

Twitter to stream live coverage of Wimbledon and Comic Con

Beyond geek coverage, Twitter will also stream Wimbledon coverage again. This time it’s a partnership with The All England Club rather than ESPN, as TechCrunch reports. Except instead of live matches, it sounds like you’ll see highlight reels and interviews instead. So much for not needing access to ESPN to watch top-level tennis. The tournament started June 25th and runs to July 16th.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/twitter-wimbledon-sdcc-streams/

AT&T’s DirecTV Now expands its local channel lineup

As pay TV subscriber growth declines, regional content affiliates are looking for more ways to bring in customers (and their money) via digital platforms like Sling TV, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now. One way to stem the tide of vanishing local cord-cutters is to offer more local programming, which could entice customers to bundled internet TV packages. AT&T’s Direct TV now service just announced that it has more than doubled its own live local channel line up, adding local NBC, ABC and FOX affiliates around the US. The company claims that the expansion gives DirecTV Now local coverage for almost 70 percent of US households.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/att-directv-now-expands-local-channels/

Facebook’s WiFi locator is available to users worldwide

When activated, Find WiFi will show which locations near you offer free WiFi along with those locations’ business hours, what kind of places they are and their network names. However, businesses have to opt in to this service by claiming their network on their Facebook Page. So, not every available hotspot is going to show up.

In the announcement, Facebook said it found the feature to be useful in areas where cellular data was lacking or for people who were traveling. And this is just the latest project meant to boost internet connectivity and, therefore, Facebook use. The company is also working on an undersea cable connection between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, internet-providing drones and laser-based internet access.

To get to the feature, click the “More” tab in the Facebook app and then “Find WiFi.” The roll out begins today and is available for both iOS and Android.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/facebooks-wifi-locator-available-worldwide/

Palmer Luckey donates to software that brings Oculus games to Vive

“As some of you suspected the sudden extreme jump in the pledge amount is indeed by Palmer Luckey,” Revive developer Jules Blok said in the campaign’s blog. “I’d like to thank him for his pledge and everything he has done for the VR community as a whole.”

Revive was a response to Facebook’s exclusive Oculus titles, which only worked with the Rift headset and were available through the Oculus Store. Before that, the VR community had hoped that games would work across the Rift and Vive, so as not to stifle innovation in the VR arena. While it makes sense for gamers to be upset, it’s also worth considering that Oculus funded plenty of titles that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. So it’s not surprising that Facebook would want to keep those games to itself.

Facebook initially pushed back against Revive by implementing a headset check, but it didn’t take too long for the app’s developers to crack Oculus’ DRM. The social network later relented and removed its headset check, which led Revive’s developers to remove its DRM cracking.

Now, Vive owners can easily play Oculus titles using Revive. It makes sense for Facebook to avoid causing too much of a fuss, since they still have to buy the games from its storefront. While Luckey’s support is a bit surprising, given that he was the public face of Oculus for years, it’s in line with his personal philosophy of keeping the VR ecosystem open. And, if anything, it’ll certainly be more well received than his plans for a “virtual” border wall.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/palmer-luckey-revive-donation/

The Met’s latest exhibit puts oversharing on a pedestal

A dozen artists were picked to participate, and asked to invite one fellow artist to be their conversation partner. The project was designed to explore what would happen when, thanks to the instant nature of smartphone photography, artists can create and share their works with “unprecedented intimacy.” The exhibit, made possible by Adobe, is open until December 17, 2018 and features multi-format presentations of the dozen resulting conversations.

The participating artists had to upload their media to an iCloud account shared between them and the museum. They weren’t allowed to post any of the material to social media. The exhibit’s curator and organizer Mia Fineman told Engadget that they didn’t use a messaging app because those tend to compress files. And that’s a compromise they didn’t want to make since some of the prints in this gallery are 19 inches by 19 inches. Although they wanted to create an app to let the artists send each other full-res files, they weren’t able to finish one in time for the project.

Since uploading to iCloud isn’t the way we typically send each other pictures, the resulting exchanges for Talking Pictures aren’t a perfect mimicry of real-world interaction. But they most likely wouldn’t have been even if the participants had used iMessage anyway. The artists were all aware from the beginning that their work would eventually be displayed for the world to see, so there was always going to be a limit on how personal they got.

The Met's latest exhibit puts oversharing on a pedestal

That’s not to say the exhibits at Talking Pictures aren’t intimate. Manjari Sharma and Irina Rozovsky started out as acquaintances, but grew close over the course of the project, after they discovered they were both pregnant and due in April. Their exchange, which is presented as two rows of prints spanning an entire wall in the museum, gets uncomfortably familiar. In addition to stunning nightscapes and snapshots of family members, Sharma and Rozovsky also uploaded pictures of their pregnant, fuzzy bellies, moments during delivery and even their placenta afterwards.

But few other conversations got that intimate — not even between one pair of artists that were actually married to each other. Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz had a pretty typical dialogue that mostly consisted of pictures of funny signs, political observations and beautiful landscapes. And since this was presented on an iPad that you swipe through, browsing their conversation felt more like scrolling through their Instagram feeds without witty captions, hashtags or likes.

Most of the other interactions feel similarly mundane. Whether they are played on a TV screen or printed out and bound in a voluminous book, the projects feel like a collection of Instagram accounts. In other words, each conversation typically contains pictures that are good on their own, some more impressive than others, but rarely tell a cohesive story or offer meaningful commentary.

The Met's latest exhibit puts oversharing on a pedestal

Two sets of work stand out, though. Cynthia Daignault and Daniel Heidkamp shared photos of their paintings done specifically for Talking Pictures, usually within days of each other. Their work includes 60 prints (measuring 19 x 19 inches) of paintings that are 18 x 18 inches in real life. Each image was shot with an iPhone, and is clear enough that clumps of paint looked as if they were actually there. Laid out chronologically in a twelve-by-five grid, it again reminded me of an Instagram page, albeit one that stuck to the older square-only format.

Each print depicts something you’d typically share on social media — like serene countrysides or a hand holding up a newspaper. Some of the paintings were even colored to look like they had filters applied, although whether that was deliberate isn’t clear. And yet, because the amount of thought and preparation that went into it is abundantly obvious, Daignault and Heidkamp’s piece bowls its audience over with skilled, careful execution.

The Met's latest exhibit puts oversharing on a pedestal

The pair whose pictures delivered the most effective interpretation of the exhibit’s message, however, is Christoph Niemann and Nicholas Blechman. Both are talented illustrators (Blechman is the art director at the New Yorker), and their collaboration is presented in a thin, nondescript hardcover book. Flip it open, and you’ll see a picture of a hand-drawn black circle with a dotted line that goes over to the next page. Turn over, and that dot has made its way across the next two pages and has become a chicken’s egg. On the page after that, a photo shows the next stage in the dot’s evolution — as the back of a real man’s head.

The rest of the book plays out the same way — sketches blending with the real world in a cute, often comical way. Again, it sometimes reminds me of certain Instagram accounts, where people take photos of them holding up cutouts of pictures against real-world scenes. But what Niemann and Blechman’s work highlights is their ability to use instant sharing to inspire thoughtful, creative responses. For example, in reaction to a photo that Blechman shared of a bush growing through a crack in the pavement, Niemann sketched a smooth-surfaced globe with similar globs peeking out through crevices all over. Even on its own, this back-and-forth stands as a powerful criticism of man’s impact on Earth.


Excited to be in a group show at the @metmuseum . Opening 6/27. A visual conversation with @nblechman via smartphone https://t.co/c8vf4zkWjR pic.twitter.com/fwHcK1CJ43

— Christoph Niemann (@abstractsunday) June 23, 2017

When sharing photos is so easy and efficient, the result should be mutual inspiration and growth, not an endless stream of images screaming “look-at-me”. But this is sadly lost on the Instagram and Snapchat generation (which I am admittedly a part of). Blechman and Niemann’s book (which you can buy from their website) isn’t all serious thought-provoking criticism, though. In fact, it offered mostly cheeky, clever perspectives on everyday situations that will make you marvel at the artists’ genius.

Like the book, the exhibit ultimately never gets too dark or critical. It could ask questions like whether smartphone cameras have cheapened modern photography, or if our generation is too obsessed with itself. But it doesn’t. Instead, it simply celebrates the ways artists were able to wield phones as paintbrushes.

Talking Pictures is a diverse collection of pictorial conversations that showcases the different ways we use our phones today. But we already knew that the camera has morphed from a tool to preserve special moments to a window for instant sharing. The exhibit also proves, albeit unintentionally, that it takes careful thought to differentiate the mundane from the meaningful. While you’ll enjoy getting an inside look at these artists’ lives and points of view, you probably won’t leave feeling like you’ve learned a lesson. And so, Talking Pictures unfortunately remains in forgettable, mediocre territory instead of leaving a lasting impact.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/talking-pictures-the-met/

The Moto X4 may be the first non-Google phone to get Project Fi

We know relatively little about the X4, other than a leaked marketing photo that surfaced this past May. According to a video leaked on Reddit, it’s possible that the device will be an higher-end mid-range phone with a Snapdragon 660 processor, a 3,800mAh battery, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and a fingerprint reader.

Google Fi impressed us with its low cost, ease of use and the disruptive ability to use Wi-Fi and multiple cellular networks. It’s also begun testing LTE service for voice calls and a family plan, two features missing from the start. If you’re excited about having a new iteration in the Moto X line, you shouldn’t have too long to wait. VentureBeat’s sources claim the new X4 handset should launch in the fourth quarter of this year. We’ve reached out to Google for confirmation on this matter and will update this post when we hear back.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/moto-x4-first-non-google-phone-project-fi/

Afghanistan’s all-girl teen robotics team denied entry to US

The team is made up of six teenage girls who traveled over 500 miles to the US embassy in Kabul for their visa interviews. They actually made the trip twice in hopes that another round of interviews would help their case. And the visa denial isn’t the first obstacle the team has been faced with — their robotics kit, put together and delivered by the competition, was held at customs for months. The holdup was apparently due to fears surrounding ISIS‘ use of robots. The supplies cleared customs only three weeks ago.

The team, brought together by Afghanistan’s first woman tech CEO, Roya Mahboob, has designed a ball-sorting robot that will be shipped to the US for the competition and they’ll be able to video conference into the event when their robot is evaluated. A team from Gambia has also been denied visas and the State Department can’t comment on why because the records are confidential.

Mahboob said that participating in the competition was very important for the country. “Robotics is very, very new in Afghanistan,” she told Forbes. One of the team members, a 14-year-old girl named Fatemah said, “We want to show the world we can do it, we just need a chance.”

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/afghanistan-girl-teen-robotics-denied-visa/

Fitbit is reportedly still struggling to make a smartwatch

Fitbit denies any problems. “We can confirm that development of our smartwatch and our 3rd party apps are on track,” said a spokesperson in an emailed statement to Engadget. “Any claims that the developer program is struggling are false. We look forward to working with the developer community to offer users the opportunity to curate their own Fitbit experience and, with our broad cross-platform compatibility and expertise in health and fitness, are well positioned to succeed. “

We know what the new smartwatch could look like, thanks to some leaked photos obtained by Yahoo Finance last May. With a traditional square watch face and a unibody case, “Project Higgs” looks a little like the Blaze. Yahoo sources noted that the smartwatch will have built-in GPS, heart-rate monitoring and a set of wireless headphones code-named “Parkside.”

As Bloomberg notes, it’s going to be tough to compete with the two big smartwatch brands out there from Apple and Android. Developers aren’t going to go all in on a product that’s been delayed and may not come with a complete app store on launch. While Fitbit may be looking to the smartwatch category to boost its own flagging wearables sales, the choice to make a completely independent watch, operating system and app store may have been a bit too optimistic.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/fitbit-reportedly-struggling-smartwatch/

The hot new cyberattack that’s sweeping the nation

The cyber-news virus hit American media quickly, locking up common sense like an unpatched Windows machine with a “hack me” sign on it. It got root on domestic infosec twitter and quickly spread into the headlines of The New York Times, who rushed out a piece incorrectly naming the (actual) cyberattack as ransomware.

Once the Times wrote about it, the cyber-news infection exploded to lock up headlines through the week — impacting more people through hysteria than the actual cyberattack was affecting organizations and people in the real world. Airports, shipping companies, banks, FedEx and even Cadbury Chocolate were affected, but infosec twitter was the hardest hit.


The 4 stages of Twitter during a malware outbreak.
1. OMG WE’RE ALL SCREWED IT’S SO BAD
2. It sucks
3. Should have patched
4. It was Russia

— Sev (@sudosev) June 29, 2017

The virus is real, but the reporting has been so competitive and the limelight-chasing so fast and furious that the end result is disorganized, hysterical, and overwhelming.

In reality, it looks like there was a cyberattack on a country by another country, which of course couldn’t be contained, so now it’s in every country. This week’s cyber flavor of the month was deployed to harm Ukraine on the same day a Ukrainian military officer was assassinated by a car bomb. He just happened to be the man who was investigating and gathering evidence for The Hague of Russia’s military aggression for Ukraine’s case against Russia in the International Court of Justice.

And harm Ukraine it did. In just a few hours, key parts of the country’s government, infrastructure, top energy companies, private and state banks, main airport, Kyiv’s metro system, and even companies that do business with these entities were affected. If anyone was trying to imagine a way to “cyber bomb” a country, then the effect of this wiper would be as close as it gets.


Some of our gov agencies, private firms were hit by a virus. No need to panic, we’re putting utmost efforts to tackle the issue 👌 pic.twitter.com/RsDnwZD5Oj

— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) June 27, 2017

The attack was made to look like ransomware, probably because that word is like Patient Zero for headline panics right now. In reality it was created to be a wiper — something that just locks up files forever and ever. This means it reveals itself after locking up all your files and demands a ransom to de-encrypt them — except that part’s a lie. The creators had no intention of getting any money; its intent was to destroy.

I’m guessing that real ransomware criminals, who care about customer service, are gonna be pissed about the reputational harm to their pay-and-get-your-files-back scheme.

Relevant bits of the wiper were also seen in the ransomware that was so last month: WannaCry. That’s because the code to create this monster of the week was rehashed from an exploit released into the wild by Shadow Brokers, widely believed to be a Russian state entity, in one of their dumps of NSA tools.

Couldn’t decrypt their common sense

The cyberattack is still spreading and wreaking real havoc just as fast as its headlines are. (Engadget’s editors are patched and up to date, I swear!) The wiper’s effect on infosec companies seems to be a viral desperation to be part of the story — so acute that the damn thing has several names, because squatter’s rights rule in the race for attention, I guess. You may have heard of it as Petya, or Not Petya, ExPetyr, or GoldenEye, or even Nyetya.

But if you’re like most people, you’re just wondering if it is going to affect you, and if you need to do anything.


Bad Malware pickup lines: Hey girl, is your name Petya or GoldenEye? Either way you’ve already fully encrypted my heart 😉

— Malware Unicorn (@malwareunicorn) June 29, 2017

Petya/Not Petya (or whatever) will affect you if it starts hitting services you use or need, and even then there’s not much you can do about it. In any case, the usual virus advice applies: Patch and update (Windows especially, as usual), and otherwise make some backups that you store offline.

After that, it’s just a matter of getting your sanity back after drowning in a week of crazed and confused headlines about a new hacking danger, after several years of breach overwhelm and a hack attack every damn week of the year.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun to watch cybersecurity journalism freak out about something new they don’t understand or wait to get facts on. I have special popcorn for infosec Twitter’s predictable race to scratch and bite its way into those fleeting headlines. But it’s a crap situation for trying to figure out what the hell is really going on, not to mention that it adds a heavy load of bad news to our already-overwhelming bad-news saturation levels.

The hot new cyberattack that's sweeping the nation

This week’s hot new cyberattack is definitely doing its share of damage, but that damage shouldn’t be to our sanity. We have to stay informed, yet the level of hysteria and craziness from this week of cyberconfusion alone is enough to make anyone want to check out. And this is already after a lot of people spent the first few months after America’s 2016 election feeling scared and depressed, frantically checking their phones every five minutes for the next batch of I-can’t-believe-it’s-happening news.

Take my advice and make a plan to cut through the noise. Look at your news sources and trim them down; with cybersecurity, pick a few sources (or better, individual journalists) you can trust, and cull the rest from the herd. This is often the hardest part; The New York Times reported it as ransomware, making that source one you should definitely question.

It helps to take a little time to look at what people are saying about sources and journalists when it comes to hacking and infosec, and to be especially critical of people’s motivations behind their soundbites and headlines. Everyone in infosec (and cybersecurity journalism) wants to be famous, but few are willing to take the time to be correct. When you find ones you can trust, they’ll usually be solutions-oriented — and not trying to get your clicks, seek validation, or sell you anything.


#Petya encrypts ON BOOT. If you see CHKDSK message your files not yet encrypted, power off immediately. You can recover with with LiveCD. pic.twitter.com/nKL4Xixjn9

— Hacker Fantastic (@hackerfantastic) June 27, 2017

Next, decide what kind of hacking news is going to be your priority — the Russian hacking scandal, ransomware, breaches, encryption — and deprioritize anything else. Then establish a baseline of hours each day for you to spend on news reading and social media, like one hour in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. In researching news overwhelm for my book, one psychologist I interviewed told me, “I know that I personally was spending nearly four hours a day on news, and finally had to decide an hour was enough.” Once you make a determined plan on how many hours are reasonable, this is your target.

So, at the very least, we’re now ready for next week’s panic.

Image: Getty (Laptop fire)

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/06/30/the-hot-new-cyberattack-thats-sweeping-the-nation/