Pentagon Announced New Cloud Initiative to Replace JEDI



The Pentagon announced a limited request for bids for a new cloud initiative that replaces the cancelled $10 billion, decade-long JEDI contract initiative, TechCrunch reported.

As you may recall, the JEDI contract was contentiously fought over by Microsoft and Amazon, even after the Pentagon announced that they had selected Microsoft. Eventually, the JEDI cloud contract was cancelled.

CNBC reported that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) said that the Defense Department has solicited bids on their new cloud initiative, called JWCC. It is known as Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability. The Defense Department has solicited bids from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle for cloud contracts.

According to CNBC, the GSA announced the following: “The Government anticipates awarding two IDIQ contracts — one to Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) and one to Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) — but intends to award to all Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) that demonstrate the capability to meet DoD’s requirements.”

This is being handled differently than how things were handled with the JEDI contract. This new cloud initiative appears to have an interest in working with both Microsoft and Amazon Web Services – but also seems to want to award other CSPs that can demonstrate the capability that meets the Department of Defense’s requirements. The JEDI contract was “winner take all” and that led to some complaints when the DoD chose Microsoft over Amazon.

According to TechCrunch, Microsoft and Amazon went to court over the decision, and the Pentagon got tired of it and decided to scrap the JEDI project altogether. As such, there is now a new cloud infrastructure project that appears to be interested in accepting both Microsoft and Amazon Web Services at the same time.

I cannot help but wonder if teams from those two companies will be able to work together, or if one will insist they are not being treated fairly. There is also the possibility that smaller CSPs, who don’t meet the DoD’s requirements, will end up going to court over this.


DuckDuckGo Introduced App Tracking Protection for Android



DuckDuckGo has introduced App Tracking Protection for Android into beta. It is a new feature in their existing app that will block third-party trackers like Google and Facebook lurking in other apps.

Across all your apps, your personal data is being sent to dozens of third-party companies, thousands of times per week. This data enables tracking networks like Facebook and Google to create even more detailed digital profiles on you. With those profiles, tracking networks can manipulate what you see online, target you with ads based on your behavior, and even sell your data to other companies like data brokers, advertisers, and governments.

According to DuckDuckGo, over 96% of the popular free Android apps they tested (based on AndroidRank.org rankings) contained hidden third-party trackers. Of those, 87% sent data to Google and 68% sent data to Facebook.

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, you are protected by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency. This feature asks users in each app whether they want to allow third-party app tracking or not, with the vast majority of people opting-out.

Most smartphone users worldwide use Android, DuckDuckGo claims, where no similar feature to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency exists. As such, it makes sense for DuckDuckGo to create something similar that protects Android users from being tracked without their permission.

The App Tracking Protection from DuckDuckGo is currently in beta and is free. It blocks trackers it identifies in other apps from third-party companies (those different from the company that owns each app). The App Tracking Protection is built into the DuckDuckGo Android app.

I think this is an excellent solution, especially since it is created by DuckDuckGo, a company that clearly cares about privacy. It is unclear to me why Android smartphones don’t already have something like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency protections. In my opinion, users of Android phones should have the same protection as users of Apple’s iPhones and iPads do.


Coalition of States Investigate Instagram’s Effects on Children



A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general said Thursday it is investigating how Instagram attracts and affects young people, amping up the pressure on parent company Meta Platforms, Inc. over potential harms to its users, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to the Wall Street Journal, the attorneys general said they are investigating whether the company, formerly known as Facebook, violated consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

As you may recall, in September of 2021, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Facebook Knows Instagram is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show”.

The documents leaked to the Wall Street included information in which a study by Facebook found that teen Instagram users in the UK and US found that more than 40% of those who reported feeling “unattractive” and said the feelings started when using Instagram. The documents also stated that Facebook found that among teens who had suicidal thoughts, 13 percent of UK users and 6 percent of US users said these impulses could be tracked back to Instagram.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the attorneys general include California, Texas, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Jersey and Vermont.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said, “For too long, Meta has ignored the havoc that Instagram is wreaking on the mental health and well-being of our children and teens. Enough is enough. We’ve undertaken this nationwide investigation to get answers about Meta’s efforts to promote the use of this social media platform to young Californians – and determine if, in doing so, Meta violated the law.”

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said, “When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer laws.”

It seems to me that it is time for Facebook (Meta) to possibly face some consequences. When a bipartisan collation of attorneys general work together on something, it seems likely they will be able to enforce changes.


Xbox and PlayStation are Evaluating Relationship with Activision Blizzard



Bloomberg reported that Microsoft’s head of Xbox said he’s “evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments,” in light of the recent revelations at the video game publishing company.

This is in reference to an article posted by the Wall Street Journal alleging that CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, knew for years about sexual-misconduct allegations at the company he leads. The same article stated that Bobby Kotick also did not inform the board of directors about everything he knew.

IGN reported that Microsoft has confirmed the statement from Phil Spencer. That statement said “I personally have strong values for a welcoming and inclusive environment for all of our employees at Xbox. This is not a destination but a journey that we will always be on. The leadership at Xbox and Microsoft stand by our teams and support them in building a safer environment for all.”

The Verge reported that PlayStation leadership has asked Activision Blizzard how it will address the allegations that were in the Wall Street Journal article. PlayStation boss Jim Ryan reportedly informed employees of the action in an email.

According to The Verge, this is the statement that PlayStation boss Jim Ryan gave to Bloomberg: “We outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article. We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation.”

If both PlayStation and Xbox decide to remove Activision Blizzard’s games from their platforms, this could potentially be a big problem for the company. For example, Blizzard released Diablo II: Resurrected not only on its Battle:Net platform, but also on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, PS5 and PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

If Xbox and PlayStation decide to remove games from Activision Blizzard – it means that players who access the game through those platforms will no longer be able to play it on those platforms. If they don’t have a PC, then they won’t be able to play at all.


Twitter is Fixing the Disappearing Tweet Problem



Sometimes, Twitter auto-refreshes your feed while you are in the middle of reading a tweet. As you might expect, some people find this to be annoying. Twitter is aware of this problem and intends to do something to fix it.

In a short thread of tweets, @TwitterSupport tweeted the following:

“Let’s talk about Tweets disappearing from view mid-read when the timeline seems to auto-refresh. We know it’s a frustrating experience, so we’re working on changing it. Over the next two months, we’ll be rolling out updates to the way we show you Tweets so they don’t disappear.”

“The background: A Tweet would move up the timeline as replies were added to the ongoing convo. Since some convos can evolve quickly, this made it so you didn’t see the same Tweet repeated in the TL. Our changes will keep your TL fresh and keep Tweets from disappearing mid-read.”

“An update to the disappearing Tweet experience is rolling out for web! Now you can choose when you want new Tweets to load into your timeline — click the Tweet counter bar at the top”.

TechCrunch reported that Twitter acknowledged that in the past, tweets would often disappear from view mid-read when a user’s timeline would automatically refresh. Now, users can load new tweets when they want to.

TechCrunch also reported that Twitter’s iOS and Android apps don’t automatically refresh users’ timelines when they open up the app. Instead, users can click on the highlighted home button on the navigation bar to load new tweets.

I think this is a good idea as it sounds like it will make threaded conversations (or responses to a popular tweet) make sense. If a tweet disappears, it could make it harder to understand the context of the conversation.

Another option is to use TweetDeck. It automatically keeps everything in chronological order. It allows users to click on individual tweets if they want to take their time and read through the responses that tweet got. I’ve never had the disappearing tweet problem while using TweetDeck.


CEO of Activision Blizzard Ignored Sexual Misconduct for Years



The Wall Street Journal reported that CEO of Activision Blizzard Inc., Bobby Kotick, knew for years about sexual-misconduct allegations at the “videogame giant” he leads. This allegation is not news to fans of the games made by the company, or to former and current employees, some of whom took to social media to share their terrible experiences at the company.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Activision has been thrown into turmoil in recent months by multiple regulatory investigations into alleged sexual assaults and mistreatment of female employees dating back years. Mr. Kotick has told directors and other executives he wasn’t aware of many of the allegations of misconduct, and he has played down others. This information came from people familiar with the matter and internal documents.

Here is a significant paragraph from The Wall Street Journal:

Those documents, which include memos, emails and regulatory requests, and interviews with former employees and others familiar with the company, however, cast Mr. Kotick’s response in a different light. They show that he knew about allegations of employee misconduct in many parts of the company. He didn’t inform the board of directors about everything he knew, the interviews and documents show, even after regulators began investigating the incidents in 2018. Some departing employees who were accused of misconduct were praised on the way out, while their co-workers were asked to remain silent about the matters.

Today, employees at Activision Blizzard engaged in a second walkout, specifically asking for CEO Bobby Kotick to be replaced. The @ABetterABK Twitter welcomed people to join the walkout. It also called for CEO Bobby Kotick to be replaced. It also will continue to hold their original demand for third-party review by an employee-chosen source.

The Wall Street Journal article includes examples of alleged misconduct by Activision employees that have not previously been reported. I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not it is healthy for you to read those descriptions.

As someone who has spent a lot of time playing some of Blizzard’s games, I find it extremely troubling that the company continues to have a huge problem with sexual harassment and sexual assaults. Based on The Wall Street Journal article, it appears that CEO Bobby Kotick knew what was happening and intentionally allowed this type of behavior to continue. He should be removed from the company.


OnePlus Nord 2 x PAC-MAN Goes On Sale



Announced last week, the OnePlus Nord 2 x PAC-MAN has now gone on sale so we have some tasty pictures of the new phone in all its dot-powered glory, and there’s a few surprises too. OnePlus has gone to town on the cross-over.

The packaging has received the full PAC-MAN treatment with a custom box and inside, there’s the Nord 2 x PAC-MAN phone plus a case featuring the famous ghosts from the game: Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. The back of the phone has been given a light PAC-MAN design and I’m hoping that the back of the phone and the case itself all line up to give a special 3D effect.

OnePlus Nord 2 x PAC-MAN package

During the day, the Nord 2 x PAC-MAN has a subtle back with a few dots and a yellow muncher but at night the rear comes alive with a glow-in-the dark maze with nods to both PAC-MAN and other 80s video games. In a further mod, the alert slider of the phone is now the same dark blue colour as the ghosts when they try to run away from the PAC-MAN after he eats a power pellet. The slider is just about visible in the night shot on the right.

And if ordering direct from OnePlus, there’s a further PAC-MAN bonus – a construction brick-based phone holder that mimics Penrose stairs as seen in designs by Escher. Build it yourself, hold it just right and you’ll have a never-ending staircase complete with ghosts and PAC-MAN. Hours of fun by itself.

In addition to the exterior changes, OxygenOS (that’s OnePlus’ version of Android) has been given a retro makeover. Icons have pixelated for an 80s vibe, wallpapers show off the PAC-MAN game, the camera app has a custom filter and there are a series of challenges to unlock a selection of new content, from wallpapers to ringtones and photo stickers.

And of course, PAC-MAN 256 comes pre-installed for instant gaming action. What did you expect?

The OnePlus Nord 2 × PAC-MAN Edition goes on sale on Tuesday, 16 November, at 1100 GMT for £499 in the UK. A single variant of the device will be sold with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage on oneplus.com and amazon.co.uk.

Yes, it’s £30 more expensive than the standard Nord 2 for the same hardware, but it’s so much cooler.