Posted on Leave a comment

Activision Blizzard employees form a committee to fight workplace discrimination


A dozen current and former Activision Blizzard employees have formed a committee aimed at protecting workers from discriminatory practices at the studio, outlining a list of demands for CEO Bobby Kotick, newly appointed diversity officer Kristen Hines and chief human resources officer Julie Hodges. 

As detailed by The Washington Post, the group’s demands include ending mandatory arbitration in discrimination cases, improving on-site lactation rooms, protecting workers from retaliation, increasing support for trans employees and instituting independent investigations in cases of discrimination, including sexual harassment. The employee group, called the Worker Committee Against Sex and Gender Discrimination, submitted their demands to the studio’s leadership team today.

The committee specifically demands private lactation rooms and appropriate storage spaces for breastmilk and pumping equipment. Breastfeeding workers at Activision Blizzard have documented their issues with the studio’s lactation rooms, describing them as filthy, uncomfortable and poorly secured. Employees said fridges for breast milk were also used to store beer, that people pumping often had to sit on the floor and that breast milk was sometimes stolen. In regards to trans rights, the group demands the creation of a trans network similar to the in-house women’s resource network and for software tools to be wiped of employees’ deadnames.

In response to the formal call for change, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told the Post that the studio appreciated hearing employees’ concerns, and outlined a few changes that had already been made to improve lactation rooms, the arbitration process and channels of communication.

Activision Blizzard executives have been accused of cultivating a sexist, discriminatory workplace in multiple lawsuits over the past year. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing first sued Activision Blizzard in July 2021 after conducting a two-year investigation into allegations of unchecked sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and a pervasive “frat boy culture” at the studio. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal group, followed up with a similar lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in September 2021. Activision Blizzard settled the federal EEOC lawsuit this March, agreeing to establish an $18 million fund to compensate employees who experienced discrimination at the studio.

Backed by the Communications Workers of America, Activision Blizzard employees have been advocating for change and unionization — to some degree of success — since the lawsuits were filed. CWA called the $18 million settlement “woefully inadequate,” arguing it would provide the maximum compensation to just 60 workers, when there were likely hundreds of claimants. 

Former Activision Blizzard employee and campaign organizer for the tech-industry group CODE-CWA, Jessica Gonzalez, appealed the $18 million settlement this week, seeking an increase in compensation. Gonzalez is one of the 12 employees in the Worker Committee Against Sex and Gender Discrimination. 

An additional lawsuit accusing Activision Blizzard of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation was filed this week by a current employee. And there’s the wide-ranging investigation into the studio’s workplace practices currently underway at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.





Source link

Posted on Leave a comment

Apple’s latest Pride Edition Watch bands include a nod to the company’s history


With the start of June a week away, Apple has two new Pride-themed Watch bands. The first one is a take on the company’s classic sport loop style. The design features a color gradient that incorporates the iconic rainbow colors seen on a variety of Pride flags with the addition of light blue, pink, white, brown and black. The first three colors symbolize transgender and non-binary individuals, with the latter two representing the Black and Latinx communities.

The band also includes a nod to the company’s history. Apple employed a new weaving process to remove some of the band’s woven textile loops. The technique creates a two-tone effect that the company used to include “Pride” on the outward-facing part of the band. The word is written in a cursive style that’s similar to the one the company used for its signature Macintosh “hello” greeting in 1984.

There’s also a new Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop. It features the original rainbow colors in between black stripes. It also comes with a matching Nike Bounce face. Both bands are available to purchase for $49 starting today from Apple’s website, with retail availability to follow on May 26th. Apple has also released a Pride Threads watch face. It’s available on Apple Watch Series 4 models and above with watchOS 8.6 installed. “This new watch face combines colors to represent the strength and mutual support of the LGBTQ+ movement,” according to Apple. The threads of the watch face move as you turn the wearable’s digital crown, tap on the display or raise your wrist to wake the display.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



Source link

Posted on Leave a comment

Windows 11 will get third-party widgets later this year


widgets could become more useful in the coming months. Microsoft revealed at its Build developer conference that the operating system will start supporting widgets for third-party apps later this year. Developers will be able to create widgets for their Win32 apps and progressive web apps using Microsoft’s platform.

“We’re energized by the customer feedback on widgets to date. People are enjoying the quick access to content most important to them in a way that is seamless without breaking their flow,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer for Windows and devices, .

brought back widgets, which previously appeared in Windows 7, when it released Windows 11 last year. However, it tucked the widgets behind a dedicated button. In any case, they weren’t all that useful.

Opening up widgets to third-party developers so they can provide some at-a-glance information Microsoft doesn’t offer through its own apps could be handy. You might, for instance, eventually see your Twitter timeline or WhatsApp messages in a widget.

The company (aka gadgets) in Windows 7 in part because . Microsoft hasn’t revealed too many details about how third-party widgets will work in Windows 11 just yet, so here’s hoping there’s some quality control to fend off bad actors.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



Source link

Posted on Leave a comment

Waze finally adds Apple Music integration


Five years after Waze first added , Google’s navigation app finally . Starting today, you can use Waze’s to play, pause and switch between songs in your iPhone’s Apple Music library. That means you don’t need to switch between apps when trying to drive to a destination you haven’t been to before.

Before today’s announcement, Apple Music was effectively the last major music streaming app that didn’t include integration with Waze. Over the years, Google has added support for a long list of smaller services, including . Before today’s announcement, it was even possible to listen to audiobooks and podcasts through integrations with Audible and Stitcher. All of that is in the past now. And if you’re an Apple Music subscriber with a fondness for Waze, you’re probably just happy that you can use the two apps together.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



Source link

Posted on Leave a comment

‘The Sims 4′ players can now customize their characters’ pronouns


and developer Maxis are bringing a welcome inclusivity feature to . Starting today, you’ll be able to the pronouns of your Sims. The feature is only available in the English version of The Sims 4 for now. EA and Maxis plan to improve it over time and make it available in more languages. They say it’s “one step in the direction of a more inclusive experience for Simmers.”

A screenshot of the feature suggests players will be able to enter whichever pronouns they prefer into text boxes. The settings show how the pronouns will work in context too — e.g. “he/she/they would like a grilled cheese.”

The developers worked with and the It Gets Better Project to gain a deeper understanding of the impact and use of pronouns. The organizations helped the team grasp where and how binary representations of gender are used in the game.

Although The Sims 4 was originally released in 2014, EA and Maxis have continued to support the game with expansion packs and updates. It has a too. According to , The Sims 4 was one of the 10 most-played games in the US in the first three months of this year, beating out the likes of Rocket League and Elden Ring.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.





Source link

Posted on Leave a comment

Walmart is expanding its drone delivery service across six states


For nearly two years, Walmart has been across parts of the US. Now the company says it’s ready to expand that offering. By the end of the year, the retailer to its existing DroneUp network. With the expansion, approximately 4 million households in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia will have access to drone deliveries from the retailer. For a delivery fee of $4, you can order up to 10 pounds of groceries and household items. If you use the service, Walmart says to expect your package in “as little as” 30 minutes.

By the end of 2022, Walmart estimates it will have the capacity to deliver 1 million packages by air annually. It’s an impressive milestone, to be sure, but it doesn’t sound like the program is profitable just yet. The retailer notes it will offer drone services to local governments and businesses. As just one example, Walmart suggests the drones could help construction companies with one-site aerial photography. “Not only will the added revenue help offset the cost of delivery, but it also serves the entire drone industry by gathering more flight data as we work together to expand drone operations in a safe and regulated way,” the company said.

Walmart won’t be the only company operating a drone delivery service in Texas. Alphabet’s Wing division its program to include the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



Source link

Posted on Leave a comment

Linksys rolls out a pair of more affordable WiFi 6 mesh routers


WiFi 6 mesh routers are a favorite of gamers, smart home devotees and basically anyone with a lot of connected devices — but they can be pricey. Linksys has unveiled two dual-band WiFi 6 routers — the Hydra 6 and the Atlas 6 — that could be an attractive option for those who want higher speeds on a budget. Both are dual-band, so they’ll support the 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies. For smaller households or those with fewer devices, either of these two will likely offer more than enough coverage. 

Linksys Hydra 6

Linksys

The Hydra 6 (pictured above) is a traditional router that can also serve as a base point for mesh networking points. The Atlas 6 has a less obtrusive, vertically-oriented shape and is sold in sets of up to three, so they can be placed around the house. 

Both the Atlas 6 and Hydra 6 claim to cover around 2,000 square feet and up to 25 devices — although the former can be bought in packs of two or three, with each additional router adding another 2,000 square feet and supporting 25 more devices. That expandability is sort of the whole draw of a mesh system. The somewhat wonky technical improvements made available through WiFi 6 support might also deliver faster connectivity.

Both models are less costly than many premium WiFi 6 mesh systems, including the Linksys Atlas Max 6E, which retails at $999 and its recently-released WiFi 6E system, which costs $1200 for a pack of three. The Atlas 6 is $149.99 for a single router, $279.99 for a two-pack and $349.99 for a three-node system. The Hydra 6 will retail at $179.99. Both will be available in the US early this summer, with a global release planned for the second half of 2022.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



Source link

Posted on Leave a comment

Google claims its text-to-image AI delivers ‘unprecedented photorealism’


has shown off an artificial intelligence system that can create images based on text input. The idea is that users can enter any descriptive text and the AI will turn that into an image. The company says the , created by the Brain Team at Google Research, offers “an unprecedented degree of photorealism and a deep level of language understanding.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen AI models like this. (and ) generated headlines as well as images because of how adeptly it can turn text into visuals. Google’s version, however, tries to create more realistic images.

To assess Imagen against other text-to-image models (including DALL-E 2, VQ-GAN+CLIP and Latent Diffusion Models), the researchers created a benchmark called . That’s a list of 200 text prompts that were entered into each model. Human raters were asked to assess each image. They “prefer Imagen over other models in side-by-side comparisons, both in terms of sample quality and image-text alignment,” Google said.

It’s worth noting that the examples shown on the are curated. As such, these may be the best of the best images that the model created. They may not accurately reflect most of the visuals that it generated.

Like DALL-E, Imagen is not available to the public. Google doesn’t think it’s suitable as yet for use by the general population for a number of reasons. For one thing, text-to-image models are typically trained on large datasets that are scraped from the web and are not curated, which introduces a number of problems. 

“While this approach has enabled rapid algorithmic advances in recent years, datasets of this nature often reflect social stereotypes, oppressive viewpoints, and derogatory, or otherwise harmful, associations to marginalized identity groups,” the researchers wrote. “While a subset of our training data was filtered to removed noise and undesirable content, such as pornographic imagery and toxic language, we also utilized LAION-400M dataset, which is known to contain a wide range of inappropriate content including pornographic imagery, racist slurs and harmful social stereotypes.”

As a result, they said, Imagen has inherited the “social biases and limitations of large language models” and may depict “harmful stereotypes and representation.” The team said preliminary findings indicated that the AI encodes social biases, including a tendency to create images of people with lighter skin tones and to place them into certain stereotypical gender roles. Additionally, the researchers note that there is the potential for misuse if Imagen were made available to the public as is.

The team may eventually allow the public to enter text into a version of the model to generate their own images, however. “In future work we will explore a framework for responsible externalization that balances the value of external auditing with the risks of unrestricted open-access,” the researchers wrote.

You can try Imagen on a limited basis, though. On , you can create a description using pre-selected phrases. Users can select whether the image should be a photo or an oil painting, the type of animal displayed, the clothing they wear, the action they’re undertaking and the setting. So if you’ve ever wanted to see an interpretation of an oil painting depicting a fuzzy panda wearing sunglasses and a black leather jacket while skateboarding on a beach, here’s your chance.

Imagen text-to-image AI

Google Research

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



Source link

Posted on Leave a comment

Samsung’s new Smart Monitor M8 is $100 off for the first time


Samsung added to its Smart Monitor lineup a few months ago with the introduction of the M8, and now you can pick up that display for less for the first time. Both Amazon and Samsung have the Smart Monitor M8 in white for $100 less than usual, bringing it down to $600. You won’t find any other color options at Amazon, but Samsung has the green, pink and blue versions as well. While those models are also $100 off, they start off more expensive at $730, so you can pick up any of them for $630.

Buy Smart Monitor M8 at Amazon – $600
Buy Smart Monitor M8 at Samsung – $600

These Smart Monitors are designed for those that want an all-in-one display that can do a lot of things, even without a connected PC. The M8 is essentially a 32-inch, WiFi-capable smart TV and a monitor in one, allowing you to connect your PC or laptop to use it as an external display or use it on its own with the included remote control. You have access to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and others, and you won’t have to connect external speakers since the M8 delivers audio via built-in, dual 5W speakers.

The M8 can also control SmartThings-compatible IoT devices thanks to its built-in home hub. That means you can use the remote control, or Alexa or Bixby voice commands, to turn off smart lights, adjust smart thermostats and more as long as those devices work with the SmartThings platform.

As for specs, the Smart Monitor M8 has a UHD resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 and supports HDR 10+ and refresh rates up to 60Hz. It also comes with a magnetic SlimFit Cam that you can attach to the top of the monitor whenever you need to hop on a Zoom call for work or video chat with friends. We appreciate the M8’s slim, 11.4mm thick design and its height-adjustable stand, plus its support for AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth 4.2. While you don’t need to drop $600 on a 32-inch monitor, the Smart Monitor M8 is a good option for those with limited space who want a TV and an external display in one, or those who just want a monitor with a bit more versatility than your standard screen.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.





Source link

Posted on Leave a comment

Logitech accessories are up to 52 percent off on Amazon today only


All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

If you’re keeping an eye out for discounted gaming and streaming accessories, you may want to check out Amazon’s deal of the day for Logitech devices. The brand’s headsets, mice and streaming gadgets, such as cameras and microphones, are currently on sale for up 52 percent off — and there’s less than 20 hours left as of this writing. You can get the Logitech G535 Lightspeed wireless headset for $80, which is $50 less its usual price of $130. The device comes with a USB connector and is compatible with PC, the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 5. It will stay connected up to 12 meters away from the source and can last for up to 33 hours on a single charge. 

Buy Logitech accessories at Amazon – up to 52 percent off

If you’re looking for an even cheaper headset, Logitech’s G435 Wireless over-ear headset is also currently on sale for $50, or $30 less its retail price. The Bluetooth device is compatible with PCs and smartphones, as well as PlayStation and Nintendo Switch gaming devices. It supports Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic to deliver surround sound, and it can last for up 18 hours on a single charge.

In case ordinary wireless mice are too slow and aren’t able to keep up with your games, you can pick up the Logitech G Pro wireless gaming mouse from the sale, as well. It typically costs $130, but it’s currently on sale for $90. The device boasts pro-grade performance that Logitech says “overcomes the traditional limitations of wireless latency” and has a report rate connection of one millisecond.

Logitech’s G920 Driving Force racing wheel and floor pedals are also currently on sale, in case you take your racing games seriously. At $70 off, you can grab a set for $230 instead of $300. It has dual-motor force feedback designed to simulate the real feel of your car and tires, and it’s compatible with the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC and Mac.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.





Source link