Today’s Nintendo Direct kicked off with a bang, with the reveal of a new, mainline Fire Emblem game. You won’t have to wait too long to get your hands on Fire Emblem Engage either. It’s coming to Nintendo Switch on January 20th.
A thousand years after four kingdoms and heroes from further afield worked together to imprison a Fell Dragon, this so-called great evil is poised to re-emerge. Your task is to collect Emblem Rings that are scattered across the world in order to bring peace to the Continent of Elyos.
Along with the announcement, Nintendo offered a first look at gameplay. Fire Emblem Engage appears to have grid-based, real-time strategy elements, along with turn-based battles and open-world exploration. The game will feature a new cast of customizable characters, though you’ll be able to summon heroes such as Marth (who’s making his return to the Fire Emblem series) and Celica in your quest.
You can pre-order Fire Emblem Engage now from the Nintendo eShop. A physical Divine Edition with a steelbook and art case will be available too.
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A former employee at DeepMind, the Google-owned AI research lab, accuses the company’s human resources department of intentionally delaying its response to her complaints about sexual misconduct in the workplace, as first reported by the Financial Times.
In an open letter posted to Medium, the former employee (who goes by Julia to protect her identity) says she was sexually harassed by a senior researcher for months while working at the London-based company. During this time, she was allegedly subject to numerous sexual propositions and inappropriate messages, including some that described past sexual violence against women and threats of self-harm.
Julia got in contact with the company’s HR and grievance team as early as August 2019 to outline her interactions with the senior researcher, and she raised a formal complaint in December 2019. The researcher in question reportedly wasn’t dismissed until October 2020. He faced no suspension and was even given a company award while HR was processing Julia’s complaint, leaving Julia fearing for her — and her other female colleagues’ — safety.
Although the Financial Times’ report says her case wasn’t fully resolved until seven months after she first reported the misconduct, Julia told The Verge that the whole process actually took 10 months. She claims DeepMind’s communications team used “semantics” to “push back” on the Financial Times’ story and shorten the amount of time it took to address her case.
“It was in fact 10 months, they [DeepMind] argued it was ‘only’ 7 because that’s when the appeal finished, though the disciplinary hearing took another 2 months, and involved more rounds of interviews for me,” Julia said. “My point stands: whether it was 10 months or 7, it was far, far too long.”
Besides believing her case was “intentionally dragged out,” Julia also claims two separate HR managers told her she would face “disciplinary action” if she spoke out about it. Her manager allegedly required her to attend meetings with the senior researcher as well, despite being “partially” aware of her report, the Financial Times says. While Julia herself didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement, many other DeepMind employees have.
In a separate post on Medium, Julia and others offered several suggestions as to how Alphabet (Google and DeepMind’s parent company) can improve its response to complaints and reported issues, such as doing away with the NDA policy for victims and setting a strict two-month time limit for HR to resolve grievances.
The Alphabet Workers Union also expressed support for Julia in a tweet, noting: “The NDAs we sign should never be used to silence victims of harassment or workplace abuse. Alphabet should have a global policy against this.”
In a statement to The Verge, DeepMind interim head of communications Laura Anderson acknowledged the struggles Julia went through but avoided taking accountability for her experiences. “DeepMind takes all allegations of workplace misconduct extremely seriously and we place our employees’ safety at the core of any actions we take,” Anderson said. “The allegations were investigated thoroughly, and the individual who was investigated for misconduct was dismissed without any severance payments… We’re sorry that our former employee experienced what they did and we recognise that they found the process difficult.”
DeepMind has faced concerns over its treatment of employees in the past. In 2019, a Bloomberg report said DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman, also known as “Moose,” was placed on administrative leave for the controversy surrounding some of his projects. Suleyman left the company later that year to join Google. In 2021, a Wall Street Journal report revealed that Suleyman was deprived of management duties in 2019 for allegedly bullying staff members. Google also launched an investigation into his behavior at the time, but it never made its findings public.
“If anyone finds themselves in a similar situation: first, right now, before anything bad happens, join a union,” Julia said in response to the broader concerns. “Then if something bad happens: Document everything. Know your rights. Don’t let them drag it out. Stay vocal. These stories are real, they are happening to your colleagues.”
Correction April 5th 6:51PM ET: A previous version of the story stated Julia signed an NDA. She did not, but other DeepMind employees have. We regret the error.
Gaming on the big screen in the living room isn’t really new, but that has traditionally been the domain of gaming consoles. In recent times, however, even other gaming platforms, like PCs and even mobile, have started to make their presence on TVs known. Most of these games come from more modern titles that try to take advantage of every pixel that a 2K or 4K TV can offer. RetroArch, in contrast, is coming from the opposite end and is bringing the games of Amazon’s Fire devices, including Fire TV.
RetroArch itself isn’t actually an emulator, something that would have made distributing the app in official channels more problematic. Instead, it is a sort of platform, technically a front-end, for emulation “cores” that serve as the actual engine for the consoles they emulate. If you want to play Nintendo DS games, you’d need to plug in an NDS core into RetroArch.
RetroArch’s popularity comes from two traits. For one, it offers a uniform interface and experience, no matter which gaming platform you’re trying to emulate. For another, it is available on a wide variety of devices, both officially, like Google Play Store, or unofficially, like on actual consoles.
The emulator front-end is adding one more platform to its list, a sub-platform, really. RetroArch’s developers announced its official availability on Amazon Appstore, which means everyone with a Fire TV or a Fire tablet can easily download and use the app without having to resort to sideloading or workarounds. In theory, it can be installed on some of Amazon’s older Fire tablets, but don’t expect decent performance due to the hardware demands of emulation.
As mentioned, RetroArch alone doesn’t emulate consoles, and you’ll have to look for and install the appropriate cores, not to have game data available. That’s a legally grey area, though, but RetroArch also supports running original CDs, if you can figure out how to do that from your Fire TV, that is.
Amazon has finally expanded Watch Party support to its Fire TV devices, enabling people who are located in different places to watch the same content together. Though Watch Party isn’t a new tool, it launched with limited usefulness: you could only use it when streaming Prime Video on desktop. Watch Party is also now available on mobile, but with restrictions.
As first spied by XDA, Amazon has updated its Watch Party website with the new support details. In addition to desktop browsers, the website now says that Fire TV devices are also supported, as are mobile devices with the Prime Video app. However, Watch Party on mobile is limited to the chat functionality.
The feature still requires all users, including those who want to join a party, to have a Prime membership assuming you want to watch Prime-exclusive content. Otherwise, you have the option of renting or purchasing digital content to watch with friends and family. In the latter case, every participant must have rented or purchased the same content to participate.
Assuming you’re in the Prime Video app, you can start a Watch Party by looking for the Watch Party button on the content screen. The host can enter the name they want others to see, then send links to the people they want to invite to the party. Up to 100 people are allowed to participate in the same Watch Party. Only the host is able to control the content playback.
Watch Party features spiked in popularity last year as many people were forced to stay home and, as a result, started streaming much more often than previously. Many popular platforms now support their own watch party features, though each varies a bit in terms of how they work and who can participate in them.
In 2021, Amazon released an important update to its 10-inch Fire tablet and an upgraded Fire HD 10 Plus model for those who want extra features — at a higher price, of course. Interested buyers seeking a new tablet should know exactly how the two models compare and what the key differences are. We’ve taken a close look, and our guide is ready with everything you need. Here’s how the Fire tablets stack up and which we recommend getting.
Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021)
Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus (2021)
9.73 x 6.53 x 0.36 inches (247 x 166 x 9.2mm)
9.73 x 6.53 x 0.36 inches (247 x 166 x 9.2mm)
16.4 ounces (465 grams)
16.5 ounces (468 grams)
1920 × 1200 pixels (224 pixels per inch)
1920 × 1200 pixels (224 ppi)
MicroSD card slot
Yes, up to 1TB
Yes, up to 1TB
Rear 5-megapixel, front 2MP
Rear 5MP, front 2MP
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
Bluetooth 5.0 LE
USB-C 2.0, microSD
USB-C 2.0, microSD
Up to 12 hours mixed use
Up to 12 hours mixed use
2.4 and 5GHz
2.4 and 5GHz
Black, Denim, Lavender, Olive
Performance, battery life, and charging
The Fire HD 10 offers a significant upgrade with an octa-core processor that now sports 3GB of RAM, leading to a significant and welcome speed boost. However, the HD 10 Plus takes things even further with 4GB of RAM, an impressive spec for a 10-inch tablet that helps provide even higher speeds.
When it comes to batteries, however, the two models are the same, offering around 12 hours of mixed activities like web browsing, reading, listening to music, etc. Your personal results will vary, but there are no specific differences in either battery.
Charging, however, is another story. The Fire HD 10 Plus is equipped with wireless charging capabilities, and Amazon even offers a bundle with a wireless charger included. While the Plus is a little large for some wireless chargers, it’s a handy feature that means you don’t have to depend on a cable charger again. The HD 10 model offers no such option.
Winner: Fire HD 10 Plus
Design, display, and durability
If you have used one of the previous Fire HD 10 models, the new version will feel very familiar to you with its 10.1-inch HD touchscreen, 16.5-ounce weight, and general portability — it’s an average-sized tablet made to be used in landscape mode. The HD 10 Plus is the same when it comes to size but has a significant upgrade: It gets a “soft touch” finish designed to feel more comfortable on your fingers.
The displays themselves are identical on both models, so there’s not much to discuss there. However, if you are upgrading, note that the screen is about 10% brighter than previous models.
Also note that the HD 10 model is available in several different colors, but the HD 10 plus is somewhat puzzlingly only available in Slate. It’s not really a deal-breaker, but if you choose the Plus, you won’t get any color options.
Winner: Fire HD 10 Plus
If you plan on using your tablet camera, both Fire HD tablets offer a rear-facing 5MP camera and a front-facing 2MP camera for you to work with. There are no differences here, and neither is likely to make it onto our list of the best camera phones.
Software and updates
Amazon’s Fire tablets all run Fire OS, Amazon’s customized version of Android, and can respond to Alexa voice commands. The platform largely relies on the Amazon Appstore, and there is currently no access to other app stores from different platforms, so it’s a little limiting. Despite this shortcoming, it’s still easy and intuitive to use, so users of both tablets won’t have much to complain about.
The HD 10 and 10 Plus continue the tradition of allowing Prime members to access media like shows, films, books, and music on their tablets for free. Essentially, you really need to be an Amazon Prime member to take advantage of the performance. Fortunately, that’s unlikely to be a problem for interested buyers.
Fire OS ultimately remains the same on both models, so there isn’t much of a difference to discuss here at all.
Amazon offers a case, screen protector, and charger option for the Fire HD 10, although these can also be bought separately if desired. The case is a worthwhile purchase and allows you to prop the tablet up for easier viewing. Note that there is also a kid’s version of the Fire HD 10 (2021), as is tradition.
The HD 10 Plus, meanwhile, is bundled with a wireless charging dock, but you’ll have to purchase other accessories separately. Again, the Plus’s compatibility with wireless chargers shines here, and the wireless charging dock is a well-designed piece of tech that can also double as a stand when necessary.
Winner: Fire HD 10 Plus
Price and availability
The Fire HD 10 and the HD 10 Plus are both available May 26, with pre-orders opening about a month beforehand. You can purchase the Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021) for $150 and the Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus (2021) for $180.
Overall winner: Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus
For an extra $30, the Fire HD 10 Plus adds a smooth new finish, more RAM for better speeds, and wireless charging support, along with the option to bundle its own unique wireless charger and stand. That’s a significant upgrade for only $30, making this an easy recommendation for just about any buyer. Still, if you want to save the $30 — and that’s not an unfair ask at this price range — then there’s no shame in buying the Fire HD 10. But if you can spare the extra cash, the Fire HD 10 Plus is absolutely worth it.
Until we reach that point in technological and manufacturing development, almost everything that has a battery can be considered a potential fire hazard, including the phones that we put in our pockets. The materials that power even the smallest of electronic devices are volatile and dangerous in certain combinations, resulting in accidents, damages, and sometimes even deaths. Fortunately, there are systems in place to alert consumers of such risks and, like in the case of Verizon’s Ellipsis Jetpack mobile hotspots, a system to have them replaced for free.
Launched back in 2017, the Ellipsis Jetpacks were imported by Franklin Wireless Corp. and sold for around $50 to $150. While they were sold by Verizon directly, they were also purchased by schools for distribution to students all the way up to last month. In other words, there’s quite a lot of them and this recall is noted to apply to 2.5 million units.
According to the recall report posted by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Verizon received 15 reports of such hotspots overheating. Six of those resulted in damages to property while two actually led to minor burns. Verizon recommends that the device be turned off immediately and stored in a safe and well-ventilated place away from children’s reach until it can be returned to the carrier.
That said, Verizon does have some safety measures for those who still need to use the Ellipsis Jetpack which starts with updating the device to disable charging while it is plugged in and powered on. You can continue using the hotspot while plugged in but should turn it off and unplug it when no longer in use.
The affected Ellipsis Jetpacks are the FWC MHS900L, model FWCR900TVL, DC151030. Unlike its predecessors, these come in an oval shape with a dark navy plastic body. Owners are advised to contact Verizon immediately for details about the free replacement offer.
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Just like laptops, tablets can run the gamut in terms of their builds, battery power, and features — check out the range in these tablet deals. On the less expensive side of things, you have the Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB), which is currently massively discounted at Amazon. It’s down to $108, which is $82 off its regular price of $190. That’s nearly 45% off. One of the least expensive tablets on the market just got even cheaper, but this sale won’t last long.
This is really a tablet for someone who needs something basic on which they can do work, manage a home, and enjoy their content. Of course, because it’s an Amazon product, it’s an absolute no-brainer for anyone who has made that company part of their daily life, from Amazon Prime Video to Audible, Kindle, and Amazon Music.
One of the great features is its 10.1-inch 1080p Full HD display. This is a gorgeous, clear screen on which you can enjoy fast-paced video and graphics as well as get the best resolution for all your work calls. And now, the display works faster than ever — 30% faster than previous versions — thanks to the awesome new 2.0 GHz octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM.
And that vivid screen will come in handy on Zoom and other videoconferencing apps; it’s got you covered with front and rear 2-megapixel cameras featuring 720p HD video recording. There’s a built-in microphone, and this tablet comes with dual-band Wi-Fi support — not to mention Dolby Atmos audio with stereo speakers — so all your recorded content, and other videos, will look and sound amazing.
And, of course, Alexa is here to help. When using Fire HD 10’s Show mode, it’s like having an Amazon Echo built in. You can watch the live feed from your Alexa-compatible security cameras or Ring Doorbell (and communicate via two-way-audio) as well as manage your smart home. On top of this, the Fire HD 10 gives you access to content through not just Amazon but also other streamers, including Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, and more. The Fire HD 10 also connects you with your social media accounts as well as web browsing, email, and more — just like the more expensive tablets.
This is an amazing time to grab an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet — whether you want it for work, managing your home, or just your own entertainment. Regularly priced at $190, for a limited time it’s $82 off, down to $108. This is a very limited opportunity, so don’t let it pass you by.
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Amazon Fire TV users should get ready to see a new interface when they turn on their media streamer, with Amazon pushing out its all-new Fire TV experience this week. The roll-out began earlier in the week, though owners of the Fire TV Stick 3 and Fire TV Stick Lite had been able to enjoy it before 2020 was through.
Now, though, it’s being spread to most of Amazon’s Fire TV back-catalog. That includes the Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube (1st and 2nd Gen), and Fire TV (3rd Gen Pendant Design). According to the company, those with a Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen) as well as anybody with a Fire TV Smart TV can expect the update later in the year.
The biggest – or at least the most obvious – difference is to the Fire TV home screen. The Main Menu has moved, now running across the middle of the screen; there you’ll find favorite apps and channels, as well as live TV and new content. Scrolling over the app icons will pull up a preview of recently watched and promoted shows from that service underneath.
The aim is to cut down on “what to watch?” dawdling, and the same goes for the new Find feature on Fire TV. It’s basically an upgraded search system, covering both your existing content and new shows and moves you might want to watch.
The Library – including Watch list, Purchases, and any Rentals you might still have access to – is there, plus new content organized by genres and categories. Live TV is listed in the Find section, too. Finally, there’s the Appstore for third-party apps.
While you can search using the Fire TV remote, there have also been improvements to Alexa as well. There are new voice commands that are now supported, for example, so you’ll be able to say things like “Alexa, go to Live TV” or “Alexa, go to Find” to jump between sections. Once you’re in the search dialog, meanwhile, you’ll be able to dictate queries by voice, rather than pecking out letters and numbers on the on-screen keyboard. A new 2021 Alexa Voice Remote, meanwhile, adds new shortcut buttons for some of the popular streaming services.
Finally, there have been changes to how Fire TV handles profiles. Up to six can now be supported, each with a personalized viewing history, personal Watchlists, and live TV preferences, among other things. Kids Profiles – configured using Amazon Kids – can be locked down so that purchases can’t be made without parents’ knowledge. It’ll also ensure they can only see content with the appropriate age rating, though as always parental supervision is still recommended.
Apps set up to do so will offer personalized recommendations based on the content each profile has been watching, so it might make sense to split different people out into different user accounts if their tastes are particularly different. The roll-out is underway now, and could very well be waiting for you the next time you turn on your Fire TV device.
Amazon has expanded the local news options in its relatively new Fire TV News app, providing more Fire TV owners with access to their local news stations. The feature is particularly relevant given the nature of the past year and how many people have tuned in to their local news stations for information about regional COVID-19 cases and vaccination programs.
Amazon launched its Fire TV News app in late 2019; it’s a portal for accessing free news broadcasts, though you may not have had access to your local news channels at the time. The app can be found on the Fire TV home screen in the menu bar — it is simply listed as “News” and doesn’t need to be manually installed.
In an announcement today, Amazon revealed that it has expanded the number of local news stations available through its news app, growing from the 12 cities added last year to now cover 88 major cities across the US.
The latest additions include cities like Salt Lake City, Detroit, New Orleans, and Phoenix; they join the cities added in 2020, including Seattle, Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Tampa, Miami, and others.
As before, the News app remains free to stream, providing broadcasts from news providers like CBS News, Bloomberg, and ABC News Live. Users who launch the app will automatically be assigned their nearest metro region, according to Amazon, which notes that users can select which local news sources they’re interested in. National news sources remain available, as well.
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In a story last year about nine books I read about AI in 2020, I called Your Computer Is On Fire a book worth watching out for this year. It’s released this week, and I was not disappointed. The premise of the book is that techno-utopianism should die because it’s too dangerous to be allowed to continue. This argument came up recently in the context of Amazon workers in factories with robotics getting hurt more often than workers in factories without robots. But once people throw away unrealistic visions of outcomes, the history of technology looks very different.
The book attempts to interrogate how the legacy of social constructs and media narratives have shaped computing. It invites people to think critically about notions of purity surrounding data, the concealment of the carbon footprint the cloud represents, the whiteness of robots, and the wires and resources involved with making the world wireless. Your computer is on fire in part, authors argue, because of automation that perpetuates racism and sexism, and the growth of resource-intensive datacenters and the cloud at a time when climate change is an existential threat for the planet.
The title of this book is meant to prepare you for a series of 16 provocative essays that consider the history of technology, media, and policy, from Siri disciplines and the cloud as a factory to how the internet will be decolonialized and tech for the Global South. Each essay takes readers on a journey through a topic to consider the ethical and societal implications of technology over the long term, an approach former Ethical AI team lead Margaret Mitchell suggested for Google.
Contributors to the collection of essays include Safiya Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression, who wrote an essay about race and gender stereotypes that permeate robotics and the role of robotics in policing, prisons, and warfare.
“We have to ask what is lost, who is harmed, and what should be forgotten with the embrace of artificial intelligence and robotics in decision-making. We have a significant opportunity to transform the consciousness embedded in artificial intelligence and robotics, since it is in fact a product of our own collective creation,” Noble wrote in the book.
Another essay, by Nathan Ensmenger, argues that the cloud is a factory, and it examines the extent to which datacenters demand a lot of energy, water, and the mining of rare mineral resources like cobalt, which has led to accusations that Big Tech companies aided in the death or serious injury of children. That essay also walks through a comparison between Amazon online today and Sears mail-order catalogs a century ago, and compares Amazon transportation and distribution strategy to Standard Oil.
Understanding, for example, that in the past women made up much of computation work treated as menial and feminine for most of its early history helps illuminate ongoing problems of racism and sexism in tech environments that women — especially Black women — describe as toxic.
I also found something terribly human in an essay arguing that a network is not a network, which looks at the history of large networks built in Chile, Russia, and the United States. Benjamin Peters says that history shows that just because a network works does not mean it works as its designers intended.
“[N]etwork projects are twice political for how they, first, surprise and betray their designers, and, second, require actual institution building and collaborative realities far richer than any design,” Peters wrote.
Editors of the book include Mar Hicks, a tech historian at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and an associate editor of the IEEE Annals of History of Computing. They are joined by science and technology historian and University of California, Irvine professor Kavita Philip; Peters, a media historian and University of Tulsa professor; and Stanford University history professor Thomas Mullaney.
The editors take pains to state that the book’s conclusions aren’t meant to be an overly dark view of the future or to give people the impression things are hopeless. There is hope, they argue, but recent trends should act as an alarm.
What I also took away from this book is the continuing value of critical analysis. In a recent paper, researchers recommended reporters persist in sharp questioning, declaring, “Technology journalism is a keystone of equitable automation and needs to be fostered for AI.”
In the final pages of the book, Your Computer Is On Fire also addresses the role of media and the writers of narratives in tech and AI trends.
“Tech will deliver on neither its promises nor its curses, and tech observers should avoid both utopian dreamers and dystopian catastrophists. The world truly is on fire, but that is no reason it will either be cleansed or ravaged in the precise day and hour that self-proclaimed prophets of profit and doom predict. The flow of history will continue to surprise,” Peters writes.
Even if you’re like me and follow trends in artificial intelligence through news, books, and research papers, you may still learn parts about the history of technology in this book that you didn’t know, because this book extends across an arch of history. And as editors lay out in the afterword, they hope the messages contained within will be viewed as obvious decades from now.
This lens — viewing computing and artificial intelligence across the span of decades — and consideration of social and historical context was previously espoused by Ruha Benjamin, who last year argued in the context of deep learning that “computational depth without historic or sociological depth is superficial learning.” But the collection of impactful tech issues interrogated over the span of decades in this book makes it recommended reading for anyone interested in the impact of tech policy in businesses and governments, as well as people deploying AI or interested in the way people shape technology.
This book presents compelling arguments for essential topics at the center of business and society. By using computational history as a foundation, it’s able to, as Noble put it, “underscore how much is at stake when we fail to think more humanistically about computing.”
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