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    • Uncrowned Guard
      Facebook has been pushing out updates about a potential name change and the news has been all over the place when it comes to the reports.  We still don’t know all the details, but the Facebook platform that many of you are using will still be called Facebook.  The company is reported to be looking into a new name for the Facebook parent company that owns Facebook, Instagram, etc. in a move that is very similar to how Google recently renamed itself to Alphabet.
      The Verge originally reported that the company was looking into a new name to better fit the “metaverse” that they have created, and it also seems to be a move to further the Facebook brand from the gaming side of their company.  The company is working on a social VR game called Horizon Worlds and it sounds as if the company plans to name the parent company something based on “Horizon”.
      The name change isn’t anything out of the normal as the Facebook brand no longer fits well with many of the products the company handles, but it can’t be overlooked that the move is also likely due to the vast amounts of bad press Facebook has been getting hit with lately.  It wasn’t all too long ago that the company faced a huge uproar simply due to requiring users of their VR gear to login via a Facebook account, so it is very likely their new push into VR also includes trying to remove the old name.
      The company seems to be set to announce these changes and what the “metaverse” will be during their Oct 28th developer conference.  It is sure to make headlines and we will have to wait and see to find out what they have planned for the future of the social media juggernaut company.

    • Uncrowned Guard
      The latest Apple Event has turned some heads with some radical changes to the MacBook Pro lineup and an impressive M1 Pro/Max chip performance.  You can check out the entire event HERE and I would suggest watching it if you are a fan of the Pro series as the changes were overall excellent and well appreciated!  The performance of the new M1 Pro chip was shown with impressive performance and the higher tier M1 Max chip looks insane in both power and efficiency.
      The MacBook Pro also features improved IO in the form of Thunderbolt USB, multiple USB C ports, HDMI, 3.5mm audio, and even an SD card slot!  These features are a huge welcome for many users struggling with dongles to perform simple tasks.  The show went into detail to show off the device having an impressive audio amp for that 3.5mm port and the keyboard is back to a standard keyboard with function keys! 
      Although speaking of features, we cannot skip the newest feature of the device, the notch.  Yes, you read that correctly, the MacBook Pro comes with a notch in the screen for its webcam.  Now, we are going to say to not panic about this notch as it is not as bad as it looks. The notch fits in the top taskbar of apps, and on iOS, this is a rarely used space.  It also features a “compatibility” mode that will fill in the top with a black bar and users can avoid the notch interfering with the menus or other functions.  Thankfully, the 16:10 aspect ratio of the screen is measured WITHOUT the notch area factored in.  So in theory you are still getting the same screen, but if you want to deal with the notch, you get some extra space.
      So for usability, the notch may be a strange design choice that no one was asking for, but it won’t affect your daily tasks.  However, we do have to call out Apple on one aspect of the notch.  It was reported that Apple planned to hide the notch as much as they could via dark backgrounds and such, and that appears to be true.  So not cool at all Apple, but things should be fine if you plan on picking up one of these new devices!
      Image: Farknot Architect - stock.adobe.com

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Kalei Renay became the first female member of the massively popular esports organization FaZe Clan in June and has been streaming on Twitch for years.  Kalei, who has been a very modest streamer in both content and attire, was banned for sexually suggestive content on a platform that endorses adult content stars stripping on stream to sell their adult content. 
      The streamer was upset about the ban and took to Twitter where she tried to find answers about the ban.  Her followers seemed to back up all the remarks that she never performed anything sexual in her stream and never even chatted in the steam’s chatbox. 
      She has been dealing with accusations of cheating in Warzone, one of her main games, but this claim has both never been backed up and the ban does not indicate anything about cheating.  This has led to some believing she was simply mass report and due to not being on Twitch’s no-ban list, she was auto-banned.  Many members of the gaming community were not happy with her joining FaZe and this seems to be the reason for her past TikTok ban, but again, does not seem to be the case here per Twitch.
      The ban was only a temporary ban, and the streamer has returned to the platform, but this does seem to add to the list of unequal and unfair rules and regulations set by Amazon-owned Twitch that no one can seem to get any answers to how it operates or regulates content.  As far as we can tell, Kalei is a skill-based streamer that would be borderline “family-friendly” to watch if it wasn’t for some minor profanities and such, almost the opposite of what Twitch should be banning.

    • Paige
      Microsoft operates a localized version of LinkedIn for their Chinese users that follows the strict Chinese laws on social media and communication.  Microsoft has always had a stance that they do not support these violations of free speech, but continue to operate their services in the nation where allowed. LinkedIn had a local Chinese version before Microsoft acquired the platform in 2016 and Microsoft had continued to support the service over the years.
      However, it seems like that is changing as the 2014 Chinese LinkedIn service is coming to an end as Microsoft stated it faces “significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements”.  It does not seem like the service is leaving the country for good as the company plans to launch a modified version of LinkedIn, called InJobs, that will lack a social feed and other social features.
      LinkedIn was the last U.S. based social media site operating in China and according to GeekWire, it just passed $10 billion in annual revenue globally as a platform.   There is also a bunch of reports from multiple sources that the Chinese LinkedIn has been banning numerous journalists and other accounts due to China's demands.  Perhaps the company has drawn a line and would no longer punish those trying to use their platform or perhaps the demands were simply too much work to keep up with. 
      We could hope the loss of the last major U.S. social platform turns the tide of China's crackdown on free speech, but it would be doubtful to say the least.
      wichayada - stock.adobe.com (Image)

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Google has been pushing the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro via numerous advertisement platforms and even potato chips over the past few months, but now Google has announced the Pixel Fall Launch event for October 19th.
      The Pixel 6 lineup has caught the eye of many, with their Tensor CPUs, 50MP cameras, and now Android 12, as the phones feature a list of unknowns and excitement generating specs and leaks.  The event is set to start at 10 AM and has been reported to be a one-hour pre-recorded live stream that will be shown on the withgoogle.com website.
      The website for the event is currently live with an interactive ad for those interested, but it does not provide much in terms of details of the event.  Sources seem to agree that the stream will be completely Pixel-focused as there is currently a list of unknown specs that need to be cleared up and it may even contain information on some accessories, like the new Pixel Stand.
      Overall we hope to see you there as the Pixel 6 seems to be an exciting phone with vast amounts of potential to shake up the phone market. 

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Earlier today reports started to pile in that Twitch had a massive data breach of source code, projects, sensitive information, and all sorts of data were released in a torrent file with over 100GB of data.  This breach was released on 4chan and numerous sources started to confirm that items such as earnings reports and previously unknown information were legitimate information. 
      Twitch has come out on Twitter and confirmed the leak happened and that they are trying to figure out how much information was leaked to the public and what account information was released.  The Amazon-owned company has been a target of many data breaches in the past and it currently has not been noted to contain login information.
      However, we would strongly urge all Twitch users to change their passwords and activate two-factor authentication as well for added protection.  There seems to be a vast array of internal Twitch tools that were leaked during the breach and this may allow users to bypass current anti-spam and other tools the platform uses to protect streamers. 
      Although no one is quite sure of the damage or the potential misuse the leaked data may produce at this time.  There seems to be no word on if any banking information was released, but streamers did confirm on Twitter that the earnings reports were accurate and taking actions to protect your associated bank accounts would be advised until more is known.
      There are no reports on if this affects anything with Amazon accounts, but it is never a bad idea to change your password and have 2FA activated no matter the reason.  The information is already public and being spread out amongst the internet, so please do not wait for confirmation that your account is safe, just take the steps now even if it turns out pointless in the end.
      Image: prima91 - stock.adobe.com

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Windows 11 is here and is available for both new and old devices. Users have started seeing Windows 11 equipped devices for sale and also have started to upgrade their current devices to Windows 11, but not everyone with a capable device can upgrade yet.
      Microsoft is rolling out upgrades in batches to extend the release timeframe to better control and reduce problems. The release windows for the new OS are listed to last into early 2022, so if you are currently unable to upgrade your device, don’t panic.
      The upgrade will still be free for all Windows users with devices capable to run the OS and there currently is no detailed information on when devices will become available to upgrade in the timeframe. Microsoft has also stated that Windows 11 is currently missing some of the new Windows features (like Android Apps) and did not have a timeframe for feature releases.
      Windows 10 is still fully supported into 2025 and with Microsoft’s track record it may be supported well beyond that time. So do not panic that your device passed the compatibility check, but isn’t getting the upgrade.

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Nokia, a phone company that is often only known for its phones of old, has been turning some heads in the Android phone world as its cookie-cutter Android phones are well supported with major software updates.  This support, or more so the lack of support offered by most phone companies, has put the phone maker back into the mobile phone discussions and a possible tablet with this level of software support is exciting.
      It will be Nokia’s second-ever tablet and details about it are limited to a teaser Tweet and an upcoming Oct 6th announcement.  Of course, Android tablets have struggled to stand out from the crowd and this tablet does not seem to be offering any special features to win over new tablet users, but the extended software support that Nokia offers is nearly unheard of in the current tablet market. Lack of software support is a major reason many do not want to buy a device that should last for years but will only be supported for potentially months.
      We have no confirmation that the tablet will receive extended support or any information at this point, but I will be watching the Oct 6th announcement in hopes this might be a future purchase potential.

    • Uncrowned Guard
      The Nebula brand under Anker may not be a household name, but it is a current Anker product lineup that consists primarily of portable projectors.  However, the brand has now expanded to include a 4K TV device called the Nebula 4K Streaming Dongle for $89.99 and seems to have added it to the lineup without much marketing.
      Overall the device itself seems like a decent performer as it runs vanilla Android TV with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, but that doesn't do it much justice once compared to other 4K Android TV boxes for price.  It operates with the standard power via USB with HDMI for video output and offers no unique ports, like ethernet, to justify the higher price.  The remote is moderately improved compared to many other TV boxes, so there are at least some perks, but overall it is just a slight improvement over a standard Android TV remote.
      On top of the other price to performance issues, the Nebula 4K Dongle only offers Bluetooth 5 and basic HDR out of the box. Coming from a brand that found success in the high value per dollar electronics market, this is an odd move.

    • Uncrowned Guard
      According to an article by PC Gamer, it seems like sounds like Firefox is testing the waters with Bing and has made it the default search engine for a small number of users that are signed up for Mozilla’s studies.  Mozilla (the owner of Firefox) is trying to see if users of the browser will tolerate Bing as the default search engine and embrace the change or if Google is simply here to stay.
      Firefox has been struggling to survive in the modern browser world as Google Chrome dominates the market and Firefox is well below 10% of users.  For those unfamiliar with Firefox, the browser is a non-profit open-source browser that survives on funding provided through partnerships with major companies.  Most notably is the current deal with Google to have its search engine set as the browser’s default for over $400 million a year. 
      The current Google contract with Firefox will be expiring in 2023 and these tests may play a major role in who Firefox partners with after that date.  This may be due to a 2014 deal with Yahoo that made it the default search engine, but Firefox separated itself from that deal as soon as possible due to unhappy users. 
      It is hard to say what is fueling these tests or if they are simply just education-based tests for completely unrelated reasons, but with Firefox’s shrinking market share and less user volume to push deals, it may be signs of future changes to the browser.  Of course, users of Firefox can change their browser’s search to anything they would like via the settings with ease and that feature will not be going anyway any day soon.
      Source: PC Gamer
      Image: Ralf - stock.adobe.com

    • Uncrowned Guard
      A small number of Discord servers are getting a Watch Together feature that is focused on watching YouTube videos together, according to The Verge. This feature would not exactly be a new feature as it was being tested around one year ago, but never seemed to get much support and disappeared.  Perhaps with the recent banning of multiple YouTube-based bots, Discord is trying to find a solution for users to listen to music together or is simply pushing the feature while bots are limited.
      The feature seems very similar to current broadcasting features that current users of Discord can use now for sharing games and other applications with their servers.  However, it is focused on making the service heavily integrated within YouTube and even allows sharing playback controls of the video.
      It does seem quite easy for users to use this feature to listen to music together and the feature itself does seem toned towards that goal.  There will be advertisements as per the normal YouTube experience although according to the article posted by The Verge, neither Google nor Discord provided much information about YouTube Premium perks and such.
      Currently, it seems that only Discord’s friends and family servers have the feature, but it appears that Discord plans to expand the testing very soon.  It sounds like a late October release is possible for this feature, but official information is currently lacking.
      Image: Denys Prykhodov - stock.adobe.com

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