She-Ra’s showrunner on villains, heroes, and the show’s controversial design

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Noelle Stevenson has had a whirlwind career, and like so many other young artists these days, it started online. In 2012, while still a student in art school, she started Nimona, a goofy webcomic about medieval knights, mad science, and a hero-villain duo whose picture book rivalry was complicated by the introduction of a shape-changing teenager with a taste for havoc. Three years later, Nimona was a complete story, a dark, tragic fantasy published by HarperCollins that had a vocal and enthusiastic online fandom. Stevenson had graduated from college, interned at the comics company Boom! Studios Comics, co-created the ongoing Lumberjanes comic series, then moved into television writing, most notably on Craig McCracken’s animated series W...

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Uber joins Linux Foundation, cementing commitment to open-source tools

Uber announced today at the 2018 Uber Open Summit that it was joining the Linux Foundation as a Gold Member, making a firm commitment to using and contributing to open-source tools.

Uber CTO Thuan Pham sees the Linux Foundation as a place for companies like his to nurture and develop open-source projects. “Open source technology is the backbone of many of Uber’s core services and as we continue to mature, these solutions will become ever more important,” he said in a blog post announcing the partnership. What’s surprising is not that they joined, but that it took so long. Uber has been long known for making use of open source in its core tools, working on over 320 open-source projects and repositories from 1,500 contributors involving over 70,000 commits, according to data provided by the company. “Uber has made significant investments in shared software development and community collaboration through open
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Amazon made a (RED) version of the second-gen Echo

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Amazon is offering the second-generation Echo in red, in support of Product (RED) and its humanitarian efforts to combat HIV / AIDS. Similar to the arrangement it first offered last year, Amazon will donate $10 to the charity for each red Echo sold.

The specs are the same as any other second-generation Echo, except that it’s covered in red fabric. It costs $99.99 and is available for preorder now, although it officially launches on December 5th. It’s going to be discounted during Black Friday, though — down to $69, with $10 still going toward the charity — so that sounds like the better bargain.

Amazon again joins Apple, one of the longest-running Product (RED) participants that has in previous years developed a special red iPhone 7 and...

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TP-Link’s new smart outlet is actually an outlet — and that’s why it’s smart

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This summer, I replaced every single power outlet in my house with a tamper-resistant one. You do things like that when you’ve got a curious two-year-old.

But I kind of wish I’d waited — because TP-Link is quietly making a smart outlet that could let me control my wall sockets with a tap on my phone. Or with Alexa / Google Assistant voice controls, which I personally prefer.

I’m talking about the TP-Link Kasa KP200 Smart Wi-Fi Power Outlet, which just passed through the FCC’s certification database this morning. It hasn’t yet been formally announced, so we’re not sure when (or even if) it’ll arrive or what it’ll cost, but the user manual shows that it’s a genuine one-gang, two-socket, three-prong power outlet you can control with a...

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Apple partners with A24, the studio behind ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Hereditary’

Apple has signed a multi-year agreement with A24, which will see the film studio producing multiple movies for Apple.

Not much else is known about the deal yet — not the number of films, their genres or the talent involved. Still, the deal suggests that Apple is going to be investing seriously in original films, along with TV shows. Over the past year or so, Apple’s been releasing a steady drumbeat of content announcements, for shows like an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels, a drama set in the world of morning TV starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon and a series from “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle. What’s less clear is how Apple plans to distribute theses shows and movies, though there have been reports that it will give the content away for free to people who own iOS and tvOS devices. A24, meanwhile, is a relatively
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Facebook will reduce reach of ‘sensationalist and provocative’ content

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Facebook is once again tweaking how stories spread through the News Feed, this time going after posts that are “sensationalist and provocative.” The goal isn’t just to cut down on clickbait, but to cut down on misinformation and problematic posts that don’t quite warrant an outright ban on the site.

In a blog post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg writes that people naturally engage more with sensationalist content. Engagement with this content, he says, increases the closer it gets to being so problematic that it has to be banned.

So instead of moving the line of what’s banned, Facebook is going to alter its distribution algorithms. Posts that Facebook’s AI detects as...

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No one at Facebook seems to know who hired a DC opposition research firm

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One of the bigger bombshells in The New York Times’ massive Facebook investigation published yesterday was that the company had hired an opposition research and consulting firm known as Definers Public Affairs, which it said had created deceptive news posts and pushed them onto a network of conservative websites. Now, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he has no idea who hired them.

Definers was hired as part of a lobbying effort intended to counter mounting criticisms of Facebook over the past year. The firm’s role, among other things, included circulating a document tying a prominent anti-Facebook group to financing from billionaire George Soros. Efforts to link liberal causes to Soros are a tactic often used by the alt-right and other...

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PlayStation is skipping E3 2019

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PlayStation is officially skipping E3 2019, according to an announcement from Sony. This marks the first time in the 24-year history of E3 that the gaming giant won’t attend the show, via Variety.

In a statement released to Game Informer, Sony confirmed that it will be skipping the annual conference, commenting, “As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community. PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans...

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Fox News is mad at Twitter for responding too slowly to Tucker Carlson doxx

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It’s been seven days since Fox News stopped tweeting. On air, the stories continue unabated, and Facebook, posts continue to appear. It’s only the network’s Twitter account — where it has more than 18 million followers — that’s gone silent. About a day after Fox News went dark, reporters took notice and asked the obvious: why?

It’s an important question. Though Twitter doesn’t rake in traffic for news outlets like Google or Facebook do, the platform is still prioritized by reporters because it drives conversation elsewhere due to the large number of influential people who use the social network to consume news. It’s a distribution channel that matters. The answer to the question, according to many, can be found by way of an event that...

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Kyocera’s new rugged phone has a sapphire screen and a fingerprint sensor

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From the makers of the soap-proof, washable phone, comes another phone that’s tough in a different way. The Verizon-exclusive DuraForce Pro 2 is Kyocera’s newest rugged phone, and it comes with more features than your average rugged phone, which usually do the bare minimum of taking phone calls and pictures, but you could drop a boulder on it. Rugged phones these days like the DuraForce Pro 2 have a 5-inch Sapphire shield display, a fingerprint sensor in the power key, and charges via USB-C and wirelessly. Things are different now.

The DuraForce Pro 2 has three cameras: a wide-angle 4K rear action camera, a 13MP rear-facing camera and a 5MP front-facing camera. There’s a 3,240 mAh battery, and it’s IP68 certified to be waterproof and...

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Major directors, actors petition Warner Bros. to save FilmStruck

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Some of the biggest directors working in Hollywood, from Christopher Nolan to Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, are asking Warner Bros. to save the classic-film streaming service FilmStruck.

Just under 20 directors and actors have signed an open letter to Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich urging the executive to re-evaluate a decision made by WarnerMedia — Warner Bros.’ parent company, which is in the process of merging with AT&T — to end support for the streaming service. It’s one of many streaming services, among them comedy hub Super Deluxe and Korean drama service DramaFever, that WarnerMedia has decided to stop supporting as the acquisition occurs and WarnerMedia gears up to launch its own standalone streaming package. The...

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Facebook critics file FTC complaint over breach of 30 million accounts

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A coalition of Facebook critics has filed a complaint against the company with the Federal Trade Commission, asking the agency to investigate this year’s breach of 30 million user accounts.

In September, the company first announced that 50 million users had their accounts improperly accessed because of a flaw in a Facebook feature, but it later revised the figure down. The company said hackers accessed data ranging from basic contact information to more sensitive information, like demographics and recent searches.

The complaint was filed today by the Freedom From Facebook Coalition, which has pushed for the breakup of the company.

“Facebook, Inc. is a serial privacy violator that cannot...

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Razer’s BlackWidow Lite turns its gaming keyboard professional

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Razer’s BlackWidow keyboard is probably the company’s most well-known gaming keyboard, and now it’s getting a more professionally focused version with the BlackWidow Lite.

The BlackWidow Lite is a mechanical keyboard, which may raise an eyebrow for those who have co-workers who don’t enjoy the clatter of keys, but the company says that its using its Razer Orange switches for “near-silent, tactile feedback.” The keyboard also comes with additional o-rings for the keys to help cut out even more noise, if that’s your thing.

The rest of the BlackWidow Lite is pretty standard for a Razer keyboard. There’s illuminated keys that can be synced with Razer’s Synapse app (although they’re sadly just white LEDs, not the usual rainbow). And while...

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Facebook changes algorithm to demote “borderline content” that almost violates its policy

Facebook has changed its News Feed algorithm to demote content that comes close to violating its policies prohibiting misinformation, hate speech, violence, bullying, clickbait so it’s seen by fewer people even it’s highly engaging. In a 5000-word letter by Mark Zuckerberg published today, he explained how a “basic incentive problem” that “when left unchecked, people will engage disproportionately with more sensationalist and provocative content. Our research suggests that no matter where we draw the lines for what is allowed, as a piece of content gets close to that line, people will engage with it more on average  — even when they tell us afterwards they don’t like the content.”

Without intervention, the engagement with borderline content looks like the graph above, increasing as it gets closer to the policy line. So Facebook is intervening, artificially suppressing the News Feed distribution of this kind of content so engagement looks
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Zuckerberg denies knowledge of Facebook’s work with GOP opposition research firm

Today in call with reporters preceded by a frantic if fairly uneventful distraction-pushing media blitz, Facebook responded to a damning New York Times story published yesterday that cited interviews with more than 50 sources privy to Facebook’s decision making.

The call kicked off with the operator’s suggestion that Facebook is “happy to take a couple of questions on yesterday’s news” but would prefer to focus on what it wants to talk about — namely anything but the New York Times story. Amidst the strategic fluff, Zuckerberg did come out strongly on one thing — denying any knowledge of or involvement in Facebook’s hiring of Definers Public Affairs, a Washington D.C.-based Republican opposition research firm. “I learned about this reading it in the New York Times yesterday,” Zuckerberg said. “As soon as I read about this… I got on the phone with our team and we’re no longer working
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Citrix pays $200M to acquire Sapho, which connects legacy software with ‘micro apps’

As large organizations grapple with adopting modern work practices without throwing out all of their legacy software, a company that works with them is making an acquisition that it hopes will help with that process. Citrix today is announcing that it has acquired Sapho, a startup that develops “micro apps” for legacy software so that workers could use then as they would more modern applications: in the cloud, on mobile and more.

We understand that the acquisition was for around $200 million in an all-cash deal. It’s a good return: Sapho had raised just under $28 million since 2014 from investors that included AME Cloud Ventures, Louie Alsop, Felicis Ventures and more. Including co-founders Fouad ElNaggar and Peter Yared, the whole team of 90 employees, based mainly in the Bay Area and a development office in Prague, will be joining Citrix. Citrix, for its part, currently has a market
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