News & Updates

Nice sweater, new Lando.

Nice sweater, new Lando. (credit: Lucasfilm)

In news that will have Star Wars fans exclaiming, “cool, cool-cool-cool,” LucasFilm confirmed on Friday that it had cast comedian, actor, and rapper Donald Glover to portray “young Lando Calrissian” in the first Han Solo origin-story film. Glover will star alongside previously announced Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich in the still-unnamed film, which is set to launch in theaters sometime in 2018.

Glover, who broke out as a writer on 30 Rock before starring in the weird-and-hilarious series Community, will portray Calrissian “in his formative years as a scoundrel on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld,” according to a LucasFilm statement. The announcement didn’t mention previously leaked details about the Solo film leading off a trilogy, to which Ehrenreich is already signed in case the first film does well enough at the box office.

According to Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (of Clone High, Jump Street, and LEGO Movie fame), who will be directing the first Solo film:

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Enlarge (credit: Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC))

Ideas about a possible ninth planet have been kicking around since shortly after we discovered the eighth in 1846. But so far, all that we’ve come up with is Pluto and a handful of other objects orbiting out in the Kuiper Belt. And these dwarf planets simply don’t have the mass to have a significant gravitational influence on our Solar System.

But our inability to find anything big beyond the known planets may just have been because we weren’t thinking radically enough. One of the people responsible for the discovery of a number of Kuiper Belt Objects noticed an odd alignment in their orbits. When running models of how that oddity could be produced, he and his team found that a large planet with an extreme orbit would work.

Calling it Planet 9, they suggested it could be over 10 times Earth’s mass and so far out it takes 20,000 years to complete one orbit. Planet 9, they speculated, has a lopsided orbit that’s tilted relative to the other planets and much closer to the Sun on one side.

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Enlarge (credit: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

After a few years suing Internet users over piracy claims, the lawyers behind the Prenda law copyright-trolling operation had made millions. But beginning in 2013, they were hit with repeated sanctions from federal judges. Now, their careers are in shambles—Paul Hansmeier had his law license suspended, John Steele is facing a bar complaint, and both may be facing an FBI investigation. (A third lawyer who was involved, Paul Duffy, passed away last year.)

Even as their scheme collapses, they continue to be hit with sanctions. This week, Hansmeier and Steele got hit with a big one. US District Judge John Darrah oversaw litigation related to one of Prenda’s most audacious moves—their defamation lawsuit against their critics. They sued Steele’s former housekeeper, Alan Cooper, and his lawyer, Paul Godfread, for accusing Steele of identity theft. For good measure, they also sued anonymous blog commenters who called Prenda attorneys “brain-dead” and “assclowns.”

The defamation lawsuit resulted in a $12,000 sanction, but Godfread and Cooper also pushed an anti-SLAPP case against Hansmeier and Steele. Now that has resulted in Prenda’s largest sanction yet—a sanction order for more than $600,000.

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Facebook's guidelines visually sum up "offensive things" with this blue text balloon. Meaning, it doesn't resemble a "fully exposed buttock."

Facebook’s guidelines visually sum up “offensive things” with this blue text balloon. Meaning, it doesn’t resemble a “fully exposed buttock.”

Images and posts of cultural importance sometimes fly in the face of conventional standards of offense, a fact that online services haven’t always fully parsed. As a social-media gatekeeper, Facebook acknowledged some of its failures in this regard on Friday by announcing that it had begun easing up on banning images and posts that violate the site’s guidelines—while simultaneously contending with allegations that it had previously bent those rules in favor of Donald Trump.

The guideline-related announcement follows an early September dust-up over the site banning and removing a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken during the Vietnam War. The photo shows a crowd of crying, screaming children, including a fully nude nine-year-old girl, running away from a napalm strike. At the time, Facebook had summarily banned all posts of the image, even by those protesting its removal from the site. In some cases, Facebook issued temporary site bans to users who had uploaded the image. The social media giant eventually relented and allowed those original posts to reappear as they had originally been posted.

Facebook says that it will not update the site’s current guidelines, which prohibit images that include “genitals, “fully exposed buttocks,” and “some images of female breasts if they expose the nipple.” (Those rules were updated in 2015 to permit images of breastfeeding, years after users complained about that restriction.) Instead, the site will “begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest—even if they might otherwise violate our standards,” according to the pair of Facebook VPs who co-signed the letter.

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Our new IoT overlords have arrived. (credit: peyri)

The distributed denial of service attacks against dynamic domain name service provider Dyn this morning have now resurged. The attacks have caused outages at services across the Internet.

But this second wave of attacks appears to be affecting even more providers. According to Dale Drew, the chief security officer at Level 3 Communications, the attack is at least in part being mounted from a “botnet” of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

Drew explained the attack in a Periscope briefing this afternoon. “We’re seeing attacks coming from a number of different locations,” Drew said. “An Internet of Things botnet called Mirai that we identified is also involved in the attack.”

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Enlarge / Pixar faces on realistic bodies is an offputting mix.

I wish I could say the first thing I noticed about Civilization VI was one of its many changes over the last game. I wish I immediately saw the deep “leader traits” that lend each civilization a distinct flavor and powers or the terrain-based city building that forced me to consider the whole hex-based world when planting my wonders, settlements, and the “districts” new to the sequel.

Really, though, the first thing I noticed were the terrifying faces of the civ leaders themselves. With their photorealistic hands, skin, and hair planted under bulbous, cartoonish heads, these new leaders are clearly meant to evoke Civilization Revolution. I actually recoiled during the opening animation when the first speaking character came on-screen. Gilgamesh’s perfectly conditioned, uncannily human beard just doesn’t work as intended under those massive, Pixar-like eyes.

Uncanny Valley leaders aside, the game itself seems pretty good after working through a single, 500-turn match on the standard difficulty. That game length is pretty rare for me in a Civ title; normally, I crank up the number of landmasses and set the total turns to the maximum allowed, the better to properly take my time grinding through the series’ midgame.

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Enlarge (credit: Ulrich Baumgarten / Getty Images News)

The federal public defenders for Harold Martin, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing a large amount of highly classified data and documents, asked the judge to release their client on bail in a late Thursday evening court filing.

Earlier on Thursday, prosecutors told US Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner that Martin is a flight risk and should be kept in custody. In their own filing, the government argued that Martin, who held top-secret clearance while he was a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, is a flight risk. The feds noted that they would be seeking to prosecute him under the Espionage Act. (Martin was fired from his job and was stripped of his clearance once his criminal prosecution surfaced.)

In the three-page response, Martin’s lawyers, James Wyda and Deborah Boardman, argued that Martin “does not pose a serious risk of flight.” They note that in a slew of similar cases, including those that involved Gen. David Petraeus and former high-level NSA official Thomas Drake, the accused was not detained pending trial.

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We want to address a concern a lot of people are having and that is connection issues. Trying to connect to PSN for online multiplayer or buying stuff from the PlayStation Store is not possible for many players. This issue is not widespread and only a few people seem to be affected by it. But […]

The post Why PSN Down for PS4 Users and When It Will Go Live? appeared first on MobiPicker.

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With Google Pixel and Pixel XL running out of stock in the United States, it looks like Google is back with a bang! Google Assistant seems to have given Google the edge it so badly needed. While the phones sport Android in its purest form, Google Assistant is what makes them stand out. While many […]

The post Google Assistant on Non-Pixel Phone? You May Run Into Major Issues appeared first on MobiPicker.

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Enlarge / NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found the apparent crash site of the Schiaparelli lander. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS )

NASA’s sharp-eyed Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found the site where Europe’s Schiaparelli lander crashed into the red planet on Wednesday. The orbiting spacecraft’s Context Camera compared images of the Meridiani Planum area near the equator; they were taken on May 29, 2016 and October 20, 2016. The camera found evidence of both the lander and its parachute.

In the image taken Thursday, a larger dark spot, estimated to measure about 15 by 40 meters, appears to show where the lander struck the surface and exposed darker ground below. Lending further credence to the likelihood of this being Schiaparelli’s final resting place is that this site is located about 5.4km west of the center of the European Space Agency’s intended landing target. The spacecraft’s heat shield, jettisoned before landing, probably would not have made such a large impact. A smaller, bright spot near the lower edge of the enlarged image is likely the lander’s parachute.

With the location of the crash landing now pinpointed, the NASA orbiter can aim its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera (the most powerful camera ever sent beyond low-Earth orbit) to capture detailed images of the location. This could further help ESA understand the sequence of events that led to a loss of communication from the lander.

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