The Morning After: Trying out Nintendo's Labo VR goggles

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

After a week full of reveals and announcements, we’re taking a closer look at Google’s Stadia promises and everything Apple’s updated iPads have to offer. Also, Nintendo is getting (back) into VR, and Comcast has an internet TV box.


Can a game platform for everyone work well for anyone?Google is convinced it can get game streaming right

Aside from 4K, HDR and 60 fps, as well as game-loading times as short as three seconds (all from a link, no less), Google is already talking about one day streaming games in 8K and 120 fps on Stadia. In an interview with Engadget, exec Phil Harrison explains why we should believe any of it is going to be possible.


Wait, what?Microsoft Defender is jumping from Windows to Mac

Just days after launching Windows Defender extensions for Chrome and Firefox, Microsoft is bringing its anti-malware package to more platforms, starting with the Mac. Of course, it no longer makes sense to call it Windows Defender, so now it’s Microsoft Defender.


Just Pro enough.Apple iPad Air hands-on (2019)

We don’t have a full review ready for you yet, but after a few days, we already have some opinions to share about the updated iPad Air (and, of course, an iPad mini that’s getting its first refresh in three years). When it comes to the Air, Chris Velazco says that “there’s little new ground broken here — you’ll mostly find a bunch of very practical refinements and choices made to manage costs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.”


$5 per month for Comcast’s X1-powered take on Roku and Fire TV.Comcast launches Xfinity Flex internet streaming TV

The latest option for cord cutters is coming from… a cable company? Xfinity Flex will launch next week, with streaming set-top boxes powered by the same X1 interface seen on Comcast’s latest cable boxes. Offered only to people with Comcast internet, it pulls in both free internet video options like YouTube and Cheddar TV, in addition to popular pay services from Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime and Showtime.

So why pay a monthly fee to Comcast instead of using built-in TV apps or something like an Apple TV, Roku or Fire TV? For people who need a little more help making the shift away from cable, easy access to customer support and a familiar grid guide might help — and for Comcast, provide the chance for an easy cable TV upsell. Or you could save a few bucks and cut Comcast out entirely.


It’s not another Virtual Boy.Nintendo’s Labo turns the Switch into a perfect VR gateway

The handful of experiences included in Nintendo’s latest Labo kit for the Switch were enough to convince Devindra Hardawar that the company knows what it’s doing. Despite the limitations of the cardboard setup and a 720P Switch display, it’s “centered around accessibility and brief moments of surprise and delight.” The complete kit ships for $80 on April 12th, but take a look at our hands-on video before diving in.


Don’t call it a discount.Tesla’s ‘sustainable’ referral program limits free Supercharging

When Tesla axed its original referral program because it was getting too expensive to keep up, Elon Musk said the company isn’t replacing it with a new one. Just a few weeks later, it has been replaced, and when someone purchases a Tesla using a friend’s referral code, both of them will get 1,000 miles of Supercharging for free.

They’ll also get one chance to win a Founder’s Series Model Y, monthly, and a Founder’s series Roadster supercar, quarterly. Both cars will be signed by Musk and Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhausen. If the referrer already has unlimited Supercharging, they’ll get two chances to win per referral instead.


Get ready for ‘show time.’What to expect from Apple’s streaming-video event

After high-profile flops like Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, it’s a bit tough to feel that excited about whatever Apple is cooking up — but there’s always the chance it could offer something truly unique. Beyond its TV service, we could see even more TV partnerships announced at the media event, as well as a release date for iOS 12.2. We might also get a peek at Apple’s subscription news service, though it doesn’t quite fit in with the entertainment tone of the event.

But wait, there’s more…


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Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica prior to 'Guardian' exposé


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Facebook has admitted that it suspected Cambridge Analytica of scraping data from the platform even before the first reports about its massive data collection were published. The Guardian has learned about the social network’s suspicion from a court filing by Washington DC’s attorney general’s office, which sued the company over the scandal. That filing opposed Facebook’s motion to seal one of the documents the attorney general submitted to the court: an email exchange between the social network’s senior managers revealing that they knew of CA’s “improper data-gathering practices” as early as September 2015. The Guardian didn’t publish its first piece on Cambridge Analytica until December 2015, and the scandal didn’t blow up until 2018.

While the company admitted to the publication that it had concerns about CA’s practices months before its data gathering became public knowledge, it insisted that it “absolutely did not mislead anyone.” A spokesperson said the employees were talking about a different issue in the email exchange, and that it wasn’t about CA’s data purchase from Aleksandr Kogan. If you’ll recall, the Cambridge University professor sold CA up to 87 million users’ information gathered through his personality quiz app. Data extraction didn’t go against Facebook’s policies in the past, and the social network maintains that it was Kogan’s sale specifically that was against its TOS.

He said:

“In September 2015 employees heard speculation that Cambridge Analytica was scraping data, something that is unfortunately common for any internet service. In December 2015, we first learned through media reports that Kogan sold data to Cambridge Analytica, and we took action. Those were two different things.”

A few days ago, The Guardian also reported that Facebook execs met CA whistleblower Christopher Wylie back in the summer of 2016, way before the scandal became public. Unlike this incident, however, Facebook denied that one and called it “flatly and totally untrue.”

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DHS issues warning about Medtronic implantable defibrillator flaws


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The Department of Homeland Security and Medtronic are advising people with the latter’s implantable defibrillators to keep their monitors and programmers updated and in sight. A warning issued by the department says over 20 Medtronic products are afflicted with vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers nearby. Sixteen of the products are implantable defibrillators — some still sold around the world today — while the others are the defibrillators’ bedside monitors and programmers. According to the Star Tribune, as many as 750,000 devices for the heart come with the flaws.

Medtronic(This is one of the affected Medtronic programmers, which allow doctors to tweak the implant’s settings.)

Implantable defibrillators are placed under the skin to monitor the patient’s heart. If they detect a wildly irregular rhythm, they shoot out electric shocks to restore the person’s normal heartbeat. The vulnerabilities allow bad actors to change or inject data sent between a defib and its programming device. Medtronic’s affected products don’t use use formal authentication or authorization protections, which means attackers can alter the implant’s settings and potentially harm the patient.

Since the hacker has to be in close proximity to the affected devices, though, the company told Star Tribune that the risk of physical harm to patients with implants appears to be low. It also said that it’s now monitoring its network for signs of exploit attempts, and it ensured patients that its defibrillators will automatically shut down wireless communications if they receive unusual commands.

Even so, the company is reminding patients to only use devices obtained directly from healthcare providers and to keep wireless communications open so they’d receive the security patch when it rolls out. Also, in addition to physically keeping monitors and programmers safe, Medtronic is discouraging patients from plugging USB sticks and other unapproved accessories into the devices.

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Tech regulation in Europe will only get tougher

European governments have been bringing the hammer down on tech in recent months, slapping record fines and stiff regulations on the largest imports out of Silicon Valley. Despite pleas from the world’s leading companies and Europe’s eroding trust in government, European citizens’ staunch support for regulation of new technologies points to an operating environment that is only getting tougher.

According to a roughly 25-page report recently published by a research arm out of Spain’s IE University, European citizens remain skeptical of tech disruption and want to handle their operators with kid gloves, even at a cost to the economy.

The survey was led by the IE’s Center for the Governance of Change — an IE-hosted research institution focused on studying “the political, economic, and societal implications of the current technological revolution and advances solutions to overcome its unwanted effects.” The “European Tech Insights 2019” report surveyed roughly 2,600 adults from various demographics across seven countries (France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, and the UK) to gauge ground-level opinions on ongoing tech disruption and how government should deal with it.

The report does its fair share of fear-mongering and some of its major conclusions come across as a bit more “clickbaity” than insightful. However, the survey’s more nuanced data and line of questioning around specific forms of regulation offer detailed insight into how the regulatory backdrop and operating environment for European tech may ultimately evolve.

Distractions

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Boeing sold essential safety features as extras on 737 Max


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Boeing charged airlines extra for two safety features that may have been able to detect in advance issues with the 737 Max planes involved in fatal crashes, according to the New York Times. The additional sensors provided checks on data collected by sensors on the planes and could have alerted pilots to potential issues. Boeing will now make one of those safety add-ons standard issue on the 737 Max.

Both of the optional safety features worked in tandem with a new software system used in the planes. That software took readings from “angle of attack” sensors, which determine how much the plane’s nose is pointing up or down in relation to oncoming air. If the software system determines the plane is pointed at a potentially dangerous angle, it can automatically correct course to prevent the plane from stalling. Investigators believe that faulty data collected by sensors may have caused the software system to malfunction. It’s not clear if the two additional safety features would have made a difference in the two crashes.

One of the add-on safety features that Boeing was selling was called an angle of attack indicator. That system would display readings coming from the angle of attack sensors, giving pilots a readout of the information. The other optional safety checks was a disagree light that would activate if the sensors were producing data that didn’t match. Boeing will start to include the disagree light on the Boeing 737 without charging extra for it, but the angle of attack indicator will remain a purchasable extra.

Boeing isn’t being made by regulators to make any of the optional features available, and neither are required by the Federal Aviation Administration. However, the company appears to be trying to ramp up its safety efforts in order to get the 737 Max back in the air after being grounded by the US and other countries. The company also has a software update for the plane planned for April.

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