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Microsoft has unveiled the Xbox Series X, its flagship next-generation console succeeding Xbox One, promising leading performance at up to 8K or 120Hz. While formerly teased under the Project Scarlett moniker, it closes the year with an early glimpse of its top-tier SKU on track for late 2020. That includes a sleek all-black tower-style casing, with a refined Xbox controller characterized by a fresh look and share button. The Xbox Series X is expected to go head-to-head with the Sony PlayStation 5 next holiday, kicking off a new hardware cycle scrambling for performance. Microsoft has detailed sizeable CPU and GPU upgrades under the hood, backing our previously-reported Xbox Series X specifications, looking to support improved resolutions, framerates, and overall graphical fidelity. And while pledging to deliver Xbox Series X in 2020, Microsoft is yet to open preorders for the console. With a formal price yet to be unveiled, we're yet to receive the opportunity to lock down a payment – assumedly on hold until closer to launch. While some third-party retailers allow buyers to "register" interest and subscribe to future updates, there's no official option to preorder in late 2019. With the Xbox Series X reveal, GameSpot sat down with Xbox partner director of program management, Jason Ronald, discussing the team's current stance of preorders. "We think, in the end, what people want from us is ... to put a controller [in their] hand," Ronald told GameSpot. "People tell me, 'Hey, I want to pre-order right now,' and we definitely love that--like it's great to have those fans--but I also know that these investments aren't trivial for families. I want to be transparent about what our design goals are." So, when will Xbox Series X preorders go live? That's currently unclear, with Microsoft remaining coy on plans and when future updates are expected. Redmond is still locking down the final hardware configuration planned for the console, which makes sense given the full year before launch. When preorders do go live, expect Amazon, GameStop, Best Buy, and all other major retailers to stock the device. Pricing for the Xbox Series X also remains a mystery, although with both Xbox One and Xbox One X positioned at $500 from launch, expect a somewhat similar ballpark for the next console. Whether the Xbox Series X sees a dedicated reveal event next spring, similar to the original Xbox One, or Microsoft shelves the device until E3 in June, expect to more on pricing, and how to place your order in 2020. Follow this thread by visiting OUR FORUM.

The seven-year cycle of the Sony PS4 will come to an end next year, which means that the Next-Gen game console is in full development. In the meantime, the Japanese manufacturer has officially announced that the Sony PlayStation 5 will be launched before Christmas 2020. The PS5 is expected to be officially announced in February, during PlayStation Meeting 2020. Update 26/11: Samsung has announced a Solid State Drive (SSD) for PCs and game consoles. Chances are that this NVMe SSD is intended for the PlayStation 5. Possibly the same memory is also used by the developing Microsoft Xbox Two, finally, this game console will also have SSD memory. Update 20/11: The possible introduction date, price, and release date have been leaked. According to the latest information, the PS5 will not be announced in February 2020, but in June during the E3 2020. The game console will receive a prize of $ 499 / € 499 and will be released on November 20, 2020, with a 2TB SSD. It remains to be seen whether Europe will also immediately belong to the first batch. The previous PlayStation game console was first released in America, followed by the European launch two weeks later. If Sony opts for the same strategy this time (which is certainly not inconceivable), this means that in the Netherlands we can also buy the Sony PS5 around the New Year. At least, you can actually buy the new game console. Because with Game Mania you can place a PS5 pre-order since October 2019. If you decide to make a reservation, you must make a deposit of € 50. As soon as the sale price is announced by Sony, this down payment amount will be deducted as a discount, so that you will not have to pay anything extra for your ultimate game system. Regarding the design, with every new generation of PlayStation, it has been decided to totally revise the design. It is expected that the five-generation will get a totally new design. In August 2019, LetsGoDigital was able to discover the design of the Sony PS5 Development Kit, which is used by game developers to develop PS5 games. A Dev Kit usually looks different from the consumer version, so it is still unclear what the PS5 will look like that we can buy in the stores later. Although Sony has not yet released information about the price and design, the manufacturer has already revealed several new features over time. The new PlayStation 5 thus becomes an 8K game console, and it will also be possible to play in 4K @ 60fps. Please visit OUR FORUM for more.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommends making sure that Internet of Things (IoT) devices and smart TVs in your home are properly configured to protect them and your other devices from potential attackers. FBI's recommendations come after a long stream of malicious campaigns targeting such devices that usually are unsecured, to either add them to large botnets or use them as a stepping stone in multi-stage attacks aiming for other devices like smartphones and personal computers. This advice aims to help you build a digital defense around your smart TV and IoT devices to protect your sensitive personal and financial information, seeing that they are easily reachable as they usually come with an Internet connection enabled by default. "Unsecured devices can allow hackers a path into your router, giving the bad guy access to everything else on your home network that you thought was secure," the FBI Portland Office says. "59.7% of routers have weak credentials or some vulnerabilities" and "59.1% of users worldwide have never logged into their router or have never updated its firmware," said Avast in its 2019 Smart Home Security Report published in February — the stats were extracted from data collected from 16 million different home networks and 56 million devices all over the world. The easiest way to protect your data from a hacker that manages to compromise one of your IoT devices is to secure your home network by segregating them on a separate network. "Your fridge and your laptop should not be on the same network," the FBI says. "Keep your most private, sensitive data on a separate system from your other IoT devices." The US federal law enforcement agency also advises changing the devices' default password with unique and hard to crack passwords, thus blocking any hacking attempts trying to use known passwords set with factory settings. Making sure that mobile apps paired with such devices don't have permissions that would allow them to harvest your information is also recommended, as is always keeping all your IoT devices up to date by enabling automatic updates whenever possible. "Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home," the FBI states. "A bad cyber actor may not be able to access your locked-down computer directly, but it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router." Following a successful attack, hackers can take control of the smart TV in your living room or bedroom to spy on you using the built-in microphone and camera. For recommendations please visit OUR FORUM.

The US Federal Communications Commission last month put restrictions on US rural carriers, which rely on Huawei to deliver internet, phone and other services. Huawei criticised the decision as unconstitutional. Huawei has launched a legal bid to fight a decision by US regulators to shut it out of the American market. Speaking at a press conference at Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen on Thursday, Chief Legal Officer Song Liuping said the company had filed a petition with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to challenge the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC).
What is Huawei trying to overrule?
The FCC last month barred American rural mobile providers from using the $8.5 billion a year Universal Service Fund to buy products from companies that pose a “national security threat.” The commission designated Huawei and ZTE as companies targeted by this rule, claiming that they both have close ties to the Chinese government and military as well as being subject to Chinese laws requiring them to carry out espionage.
What did Huawei respond?
Huawei is now asking the Court of Appeal to overturn that decision; the company argues that that the FCC has failed to provide any evidence to back up its allegations.

Twitter’s new terms of service, may ‘limit visibility’ of some users. Twitter’s new terms of service will allow the platform to “shadow ban” users – secretly suppressing their content. While critics have long suspected the company of doing it, the new rules appear to make the practice official. Taking effect in January 2020, Twitter’s new terms initially don’t look like much to write home about, but some tweaks to the language could have larger repercussions for users, limiting their reach behind the scenes without their knowledge. “We may also remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service, suspend or terminate users, and reclaim usernames without liability to you,” the new terms state (emphasis added). With the addition of those four words, the company is telling users it reserves the right shadow ban or “throttle” certain accounts. On what basis will it make those decisions – or whether they will be made solely by an automated algorithm – remains unclear. While Twitter has previously insisted point-blank “We do not shadow ban,” in the pre-2020 terms the company split hairs between shadow banning and “ranking” posts to determine their prominence on the site, and acknowledged deliberately down-ranking “bad-faith actors” to limit their visibility.

Alphabet CEO Larry Page announced Tuesday that he will step down from the position. Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take over as CEO of the parent company in addition to his current role. Co-founder Sergey Brin will also step down as president of Alphabet and the role will be eliminated. Alphabet’s stock was up as much as 0.8% after hours. “With Alphabet now well-established, and Google and the Other Bets operating effectively as independent companies, it’s the natural time to simplify our management structure,” Page and Brin wrote in a blog post announcing the change. “We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President.” Page became CEO of Alphabet in 2015 when Google reorganized to form the new parent company to oversee its “Other Bets” outside of its main search and digital ads businesses. Page had previously served as CEO of Google. Under the new structure, Pichai became CEO of Google after effectively running much of the business as Page had taken a step back to focus on big-picture endeavors. Pichai had previously led Android and Chrome at the company. Both Page and Brin will remain “actively involved” as members of Alphabet’s board, according to the letter. The co-founders still have controlling voting shares of the company. Page holds about 5.8% of Alphabet shares, Brin controls about 5.6% and Pichai holds about 0.1%, ensuring the new CEO may still be challenged by the company’s founders. Google said its voting structure is not changing in light of the announcement. Alphabet may need to lean more heavily on its other bets, which include companies like Waymo and Verily, as its core digital advertising business run by Google shows signs of slowing down. Google showed slowing ad revenue in its first quarter of 2019 and lower profit compared to the previous year during the third quarter. The company has still struggled to generate significant revenue in hardware, although its cloud business is growing. Page and Pichai have overseen the company during a tumultuous few years as Google employees have voiced their discontent with company policies. Thousands of Google employees walked out of offices around the world last year to protest a $90 million exit package Google reportedly paid to former Android leader Andy Rubin despite finding sexual misconduct claims against him to be credible, a New York Times investigation revealed. Alphabet’s board has opened an investigation into how executives have handled claims of sexual misconduct, CNBC reported last month. Google has been forced to back off certain projects that have pushback from employees. In 2018, Google’s cloud chief at the time said the company would not renew its contract with the Department of Defense after it was set to expire in March 2019. The decision followed a petition signed by thousands of employees urging Pichai to keep Google out of the “business of war.” Google employees have also urged the company to back off its plans to build a censored search engine for China after The Intercept reported on the plans cryptically called Project Dragonfly. There's a lot more posted on OUR FORUM.

 

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