Xbox Series X Launches This November



Microsoft announced that Xbox Series X will launch in November of this year. No specific date was given, but its more information than we had before. In December of 2019, all we knew was it would available “holiday 2020”. That’s the good news.

The bad news, for Halo fans, is that the release of Halo Infinite has been shifted to 2021. Studio Head of Halo Infinite, Chris Lee, posted information on the Halo website.

The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year. I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries, who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges. However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday.

Microsoft points out that when Xbox Series X launches in November, it will have thousands of games to play, spanning four generations. It will also have 100 optimized for Xbox Series X titles. On day one, it will have:

  • More than 50 games planned for this year across generations and optimized for Xbox Series X, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Dirt 5, Gears Tactics, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
  • New games developed for Xbox Series X and launching with Xbox Game Pass, including The Medium, Scorn, Tetris Effect: Connected, and more.
  • More than 40 popular games newly optimized to take full advantage of Xbox Series X, such as Destiny 2, Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Madden NFL 21, and more.
  • A shared library of great games through Xbox Games Pass.

It is reasonable that those who were really looking forward to the release of Halo Infinite will be disappointed that it is being delayed. They might be able to find something fun to play while they wait. If nothing else, the delay gives them something to look forward to in a world where COVID-19 has made things very stressful.


You Can Now Limit Who Can Respond To Your Tweets



Twitter has now made it possible for you to decide who can respond to your tweets. Twitter states that these new settings help some people feel safer and could lead to more meaningful conversations. It appears that the new settings reduce harassment on the platform.

Here’s how it works. Before you Tweet, choose who can reply with three options: 1) everyone (standard Twitter, and the default setting), 2) only people you follow, 3) only people you mention. Tweets with the latter two settings will be labeled and the reply icon will be grayed out for people who can’t reply. People who can’t reply will still be able to view, Retweet, Retweet with Comment, share, and like these Tweets.

Twitter started testing these options in May. Here is some of what they learned:

  •  These settings help some some people feel safer
  •  People told Twitter they felt more comfortable Tweeting and more protected from spam and abuse.
  •  Problematic repliers aren’t finding another way – these settings prevented an average of three potentially abusive replies while only adding one potentially abusive Retweet with Comment, And, Twitter didn’t see any uptick in unwanted Direct Messages.
  •  People who face abuse find these settings helpful – those who have submitted abuse reports are 3x more likely to use these settings.
  •  It’s a new method to block out noise – 60% of people who used this during the test didn’t use Mute or Block.

Twitter also found that these options enable more meaningful conversations. People who use these settings share more of their thoughts about topics such as Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, politics, and social issues. Make your tweet followers only – and no “reply guys” can interact with your tweet and derail the conversation.

Personally, I think these features are a nice addition to Twitter. It will reduce harassment in part because people won’t have the satisfaction of directly being mean to someone else. Based on Twitter’s research while they were testing these new options, it appears that those who want to be mean don’t seem to want to use the Retweet with Comment options to do it.


QAnon to be targeted by Facebook #1466



QAnon to be targeted by Facebook they are going to be going after the groups with yet to be undetermined actions. I suspect they will be removing groups and banning users for what they perceive to be false information and crazy conspiracies. With plans to treat them as they do today to anti-vaccinators.

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Qualcomm Wants Permission to Sell Chips to Huawei



The Wall Street Journal reported that Qualcomm Inc. is lobbying the Trump Administration to roll back restrictions on the sale of advanced components to Huawei Technologies. Qualcomm wants to sell chips for Huawei 5G phones.

Qualcomm is telling U.S. policy makers their export ban won’t stop Huawei from obtaining necessary components and just risks handing billions of dollars of Huawei sales to the firm’s overseas competitors, according to a presentation reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that the San Diego-based company has been circulating around Washington.

In May of 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce unveiled a rule that expands U.S. authority to require licenses for sales to Huawei Technologies of semiconductors made abroad with U.S. technology. The rule greatly expanded the ability of the United States to halt exports to Huawei.

The result of the rule is that Huawei is running out of smartphone chips. The company no longer has the access to the manufacturing it needs to continue making the Mate 40s Krin 9000 processor. As such, supplies of the Mate 40 smartphone will be limited.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Qualcomm is arguing that granting it a license to sell chips to Huawei would generate billions of dollars in sales for Qualcomm and help it fund development of new technologies.

Qualcomm’s lobbying effort comes after a resolution of a patent-rights dispute with Huawei. Qualcomm will receive a $1.8 billion lump-sum payment from Huawei to cover previously unpaid licensing fees. The settlement includes a multiyear agreement to license Qualcomm’s patented technologies for Huawei use.

Based on this, it seems to me that Qualcomm will have a problem if it fails to convince the U.S. government to grant it the license it is seeking. I don’t see how the company could make use of the multiyear agreement with Huawei without having that license.


Apple has Taken Legal Action Against Prepear



Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the Prepear app, because Apple thinks Prepear’s logo is too close to its own, iPhone in Canada reported. Apple is a gigantic company, with plenty of money spend on court battles. Prepear is a small company with five employees.

Prepear is a meal planning and grocery list app – which you can find on the App Store, ironically enough. (It is also available on Android). Prepear’s app includes personalized meal ideas and easy cooking instructions. Apple makes smartphones, laptops and desktop computers, and runs and maintains the App Store, among other things. I don’t see how a person would get these two companies confused.

Apple’s Notice of Opposition was filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The iPhone in Canada blog has embedded a copy of it into its blog post about this situation. The litigation provides some insight as to what Apple was thinking:

Consumers encountering Applicant’s Mark are likely to associate the mark with Apple. Applicants’s Mark consists of a minimalistic fruit design with a right-angled leaf, which readily calls to mind Apple’s famous Apple Logo and creates a similar commercial impression, as shown in the following side-by-side comparison:

In short, Apple is trying to defend its logo. According to Entrepreneur, registering a mark (or logo) with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office establishes ownership. Xavier Morales, Esq., a licensed trademark attorney, wrote a blog post on his Secure Your Trademark blog in which he stated that uncontrolled licensing of a mark can can lead to the loss of trademark rights. To be clear, neither of these blog posts were specifically writing about the Apple – Prepear situation.

Personally, I feel bad for Prepear. In an Instagram post on the SuperHealthyKids account, written by Natalie, a registered dietitian who started Prepear almost five years ago, you can read her take on the Apple-Prepear litigation:

“This is a big blow to us at Prepear. To fight this it will cost tens of thousands of dollars. The CRAZY thing is that Apple has done this to dozens of other small business fruit logo companies, and many have chosen to abandon their logo, or close doors.While the rest of the world is going out of their way to help small businesses during this pandemic, Apple has chosen to go after our small business.”

For those who are interested, there is a petition on Change.org titled “Save the Pear from Apple!” At the time I am writing this, the petition has 16,321 signatures, and is aiming for 25,000. Petitions like this one give people a means by which to express their opinions. Personally, I doubt Apple, or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be persuaded by a petition.


Huawei is Running Out of Smartphone Chips



Huawei Technologies Inc. is running out of smartphone chips. This was announced by the company at the 2020 Summit of the China Information Technology Association during a speech by Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business.

Engadget reported that after September 15, 2020, Huawei won’t have access to the manufacturing it needs to continue making the Mate 40’s Kirin 9000 processor. According to Engadget’s summary of Richard Yu’s speech, Chinese chip manufacturers such as SMIC do not currently have the capabilities to make up for the shortfall. As a result, supplies of the Mate 40 would be limited.

In May of 2020, The U.S. Department of Commerce unveiled a rule that expanded U.S. authority to require licenses for sales to Huawei Technologies of semiconductors made abroad with U.S. technology. This new rule enabled the United States to expand its ability to halt exports to Huawei Technologies.

At the time, Reuters reported that the rule also affected Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd., which supplied Huawei with chips. According to Engadget, SMIC is two chip generations behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd., and just started producing a 14nm Kirin chip for Huawei.

The Associated Press reported that Richard Yu said that production of Kirin chips designed by Huawei’s own engineers will stop on September 15, 2020, because the chips are made by contractors that need U.S. manufacturing technology. Huawei lacks the ability to make its own chips.

The date September 15 keeps coming up. It is the same date that the executive order President Trump signed that would ban U.S. transactions with TikTok and WeChat. It is also five days before the endpoint of Microsoft’s discussions with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, about Microsoft potentially acquiring TikTok. All of these things happening on the same date cannot possibly be a coincidence.


Facebook Relaxed the Rules for Conservative Accounts



Facebook has allowed some conservative news outlets and personalities to repeatedly spread false information without facing any of the penalties that doing so would typically result in, NBC News reported. NBC News received this information from leaked materials, which they reviewed.

According to internal discussions from the last six months, Facebook has relaxed its rules so that conservative pages, including those run by Breitbart, former Fox News personalities Diamond and Silk, the nonprofit media outlet PragerU and the pundit Charlie Kirk, were not penalized for violations of the company’s misinformation policies.

Facebook has fact-checking rules that determine the reach of posts and accounts. This is done by third-party fact-checkers from a non-partisan International Fact Checking Network. These fact-checkers review and rate public, newsworthy Facebook and Instagram posts, including ads, with articles, photos, or video.

NBC News reported that Facebook uses “strikes”. This means that a page can post inaccurate information and receive one strike warning before Facebook takes action. Two strikes within 90 days puts an account into “repeat offender” status, which can lead to a reduction in distribution of the account’s content and a temporary block on advertising on the platform.

The leaked information reviewed by NBC News reportedly showed that employees in the misinformation escalations team deleted strikes during the review process that were issued to some conservative partners for posting misinformation over the past six months. Essentially, they were erasing strikes, reportedly with direct oversight from company leadership.

It appears that in some cases, strikes are removed for conservative accounts that Facebook feels is likely to go public about being penalized for posting misinformation. In other cases, it seems like conservative accounts that have a lot of active ads also have their strikes removed.

Usually, I find it difficult to trust anything that comes from leaked documents. But, in this case, NBC News reported that Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone did not dispute the authenticity of the leaked documents, but claimed the leaked documents did not provide the full context of the situation. To me, that response sounds like some of what was in the leaked documents was accurate.