Poacher Who Killed a Rare Gorilla Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison


A Silverback male mountain gorilla sits in the dense jungle of Uganda’s Bwindi National Park

A Silverback male mountain gorilla sits in the dense jungle of Uganda’s Bwindi National Park
Photo: Stuart Price (Getty Images)

In Uganda, a man was just sentenced to prison for 11 years after he confessed to killing a rare silverback gorilla last month in a landmark decision for wildlife.

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Felix Byamukama, a poacher from the town of Kisoro, pleaded guilty to stabbing the gorilla to death in a national park, reversing his earlier claim that he’d killed the animal in self-defense after it attacked him. It’s the first time someone in Uganda has been issued a jail sentence for poaching endangered species.

Rangers found the mutilated body of the gorilla, who was called Rafiki after the Swahili word for friend, in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in early June, angering conservationists around the world. Rafiki was the leader of a family of 17 gorillas who lived on the national reserve.

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Days later, Byamukama was found in possession of a spear and rope snares and arrested, along with three other poachers. A court convicted him on three counts on Friday for the act, as well as for killing a duiker antelope. The three other poachers denied the charges and were remanded to Kisoro prison, where they are awaiting a trial.

The poaching of mountain gorillas carries harsh penalties as there are only some 1,000 left in the world, and half of that population is in Uganda. Environmental organizations in Uganda celebrated the court’s landmark Friday decision.

“We are relieved that Rafiki has received justice and this should serve as an example to other people who kill wildlife,” said Mwandha Sam Mwandha, executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, in a statement. “If one person kills wildlife, we all lose.”

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Mwandha’s right about that. Biodiversity loss poses an existential threat to humanity, and poaching plays a role in it.

But on the other hand, the Uganda Wildlife Authority recently told National Geographic that poaching in the country has doubled in the past month amid the covid-19 pandemic. That’s partially because the shutdown of parks has given poachers easier access, but also in part because a drop in tourism and broad economic fallout from the covid-19 pandemic have led to increased economic insecurity, and poaching is a profitable industry. The group said most poachers are locals who are struggling to feed their families. Plus, the money to fund anti-poaching efforts comes from tourism. It’s an issue playing out in other locations with other charismatic megafauna that are also poaching targets, such as rhinos.

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So yes, it’s definitely messed up to kill an endangered gorilla, and it certainly makes sense for conservationists to want to set a precedent to deter other poachers from doing the same. But is jailing people the answer, particularly if those people have few economic options? I’m not sure. It seems like maybe Uganda could use some international aid for anti-poaching work so funding isn’t tied to tourism. Or even better, world leaders could do more to ensure that folks in Uganda aren’t forced into the economic desperation that boosts interest in poaching in the first place. While we’re at it, we could also take steps to stop global habitat destruction by preserving natural resources and curbing the climate crisis. Seems that could go all farther in protecting endangered species than putting people in prison. Just my two cents, but either way, may Rafiki rest in peace!

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Microsoft will shut down the Cortana iOS and Android apps in 2021

Harmon Kardon Invoke
Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

We already knew Cortana’s days as a consumer-facing digital assistant were numbered after Microsoft said earlier this year it would remove the AI from its Android launcher app. But the company has now detailed additional cuts that users are likely to feel more keenly.

The changes won’t happen all at once. To start, Microsoft will end support for third-party Cortana skills on September 7th, 2020. In early 2021, Microsoft then plans to discontinue the Cortana apps on iOS and Android, as well as remove the current Cortana functionality the first-generation Surface Headphones feature. Sometime in early 2021, Harman Kardon Invoke speakers will lose access to the digital assistant as well. 

Microsoft’s plan for Invoke speakers is likely to cause the most resentment. The company will push a firmware update to the smart device to turn it into a Bluetooth speaker. “The firmware update will be delivered automatically to devices connected to WiFi within six months of its release,” the company said. 

As an olive branch to Invoke owners, Microsoft plans to send them $50 gift cards. To be eligible, you’ll have to have used your Invoke speaker to ask something of Cortana between July 31st and before today’s announcement.   

As mentioned above, Microsoft also plans to remove the current iteration of Cortana from its first-generation Surface Headphones in early 2021. Once the change goes through, you’ll still be able to use the digital assistant, but only through the integration that comes with Outlook Mobile. First-generation Surface Headphones owners can get a $25 gift card.

“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking through this transition and understand that these changes may be disruptive to some of our customers,” the company said. 

As The Verge points, the changes mark another step in Cortana reinvention as a productivity-focused digital helper. Cortana isn’t going away, but Microsoft is tweaking the software to better compliment apps like Outlook and Teams. In doing so, the company likely hopes to carve out a niche for the digital assistant away from the likes of Assistant and Alexa. Of course, all of that is small consolation if you bought into the company’s original vision for Cortana.   

In this article: Microsoft, Cortana, Android, iOS, digital assistant, google, mobile, personal computing, ai, Surface Headphones 2, news, gear
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.

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Tampa teen arrested for masterminding massive Twitter hack

A 17-year-old boy from Florida has been arrested for being the alleged “mastermind” behind the massive Twitter hack that targeted high profile accounts with a Bitcoin scam, according to prosecutors.

Graham Clark of Tampa Bay faces 30 felony charges in connection with the Bitcoin scam, according to Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew H. Warren. The charges include counts of organized, communications fraud, and use of personal information.

The Bitcoin scheme gained access to dozens of top profiles like those of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and more, and reaped over $100,000 in stolen Bitcoin. Prosecutors also noted it would be difficult to recover the stolen funds, which mainly targeted “everyday Americans.”

“These crimes were perpetrated using the names of famous people and celebrities, but they’re not the primary victims here,” Warren said in a statement.  “This ‘Bit-Con’ [sic] was designed to steal money from regular Americans from all over the country, including here in Florida. This massive fraud was orchestrated right here in our backyard, and we will not stand for that.”

The arrest was made in conjunction with The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice, who conducted a nationwide search for the culprits. According to jail records, Clark was identified and arrested early on July 31, 2020.

While other co-conspirators have not been named or implicated in the Twitter hack, the Office of the State Attorney did announce that Clark will be tried as an adult despite being a teen, as Florida law allows in cases of large financial fraud.

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How Sperm ‘Swim’ May Be Nothing But an Optical Illusion


Gif: Polymaths Lab/Gizmodo

An international group of scientists say their latest research will upturn one of the earliest scientific discoveries ever made about human sperm. In a new paper out Friday, they seem to show that sperm cells don’t propel themselves by simply flicking their tails back and forth, as is commonly believed. Rather, sperm perform a complex routine of three-dimensional rolling and spinning motions that only make them look like they’re lashing their tails when viewed through a typical microscope.

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In 1677, Anton Van Leeuwenhoek took his recently invented compound microscope out for a spin and looked at his own semen (which he collected from his wife after sex). When he did so, he was the first to see a teeming world of sperm cells, which he named “animalcules.” He described these sperm cells as “moving like a snake or like an eel swimming in water.”

The scientists of Van Leeuwenhoek’s day made a lot of assumptions about sperm that turned out to be wrong. For one, many theorized that sperm actually contained the miniature but fully formed version of a person, with the mother and her egg only serving as a means to nourish this mini-person into a baby. But Van Leeuwenhoek’s initial descriptions of how sperm moved have stood the test of time.

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Hermes Gadelha, a mathematician at the University of Bristol in the UK, and his team worked with researchers in Mexico to study sperm motions in 3D. They developed a camera capable of taking pictures on a microscopic level at over 55,000 frames per second. They also created a fluid environment with low friction for the sperm to swim in. This novel imaging technique effectively allowed the researchers to scan the sperm cells up and down as they swam. From these scans, Gadelha and his team used complex mathematical formulas to create a model of their movement.

“Human sperm can beat between 20 to 30 swimming strokes in less than one second. So we needed a camera that is so fast that the sperm don’t have the chance to move before the next picture is taken,” Gadelha said.

In the end, they determined that Van Leeuwenhoek had really been the first to see an optical illusion of sperm motion. On a 2D plane, a sperm cell’s movement looks largely symmetrical, its tail flicking back and forth as it moves forward. But the team concluded that sperm cells are actually spinning their tails asymmetrically in one direction while also rotating their heads at the same time. The tail spinning and head rotating balance each other out, propelling the sperm forward. Gadelha likens the sperm’s complicated motions to an otter playfully corkscrewing through water.

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The team’s findings were published in Science Advances.

Other scientists had noticed that the observed movements of human sperm didn’t quite make sense under the assumption they only moved like eels, according to the researchers. Others had also shown that the heads of sperm from many animals, including humans, roll around as they move. But Gadelha said that their research is the first to reconcile these observations and clearly demonstrate the ballet of sperm.

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However, according to Donner Babcock, a now-retired biophysicist who has long studied the movement of sperm, the team’s conclusions may be plausible but are still far from proven.

“I would say that their claim of a link between the rolling of the sperm head and the movement of the flagella [tail] is too strongly worded,” said Babcock, who is not affiliated with the new study. One way to help settle the question, he said, would be to attach a tracker to a sperm cell, then follow the tracker’s movements as the sperm swims.

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Gadelha credits the leaps in mathematics and science over the centuries since Van Leeuwenhoek’s time for making the new research possible, including the microscope technology that his colleagues in Mexico pioneered a decade earlier. He notes that human nature likely causes us to misinterpret what our eyes perceive.

“We often believe in what we see. And that’s a problem, because what we see is always going to be limited to the precision of the instruments that we use to see,” he said.

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Revealing the true nature of sperm movement is likely to have important medical implications. One indicator of sperm quality is their motility, otherwise known as their ability to move quickly on their own. So knowing how sperm truly move should help us better understand why some can’t do a good job of it. The team hopes their techniques can be used to peer into other nooks and crannies of the microscopic world, including the movement of other species’ sperm cells.

For Gadelha, there’s also an existential element to their research.

“The motion of sperm underpins the reason why we are here today. I’m here talking to you because a sperm met the egg,” he said. “And at this basic level, if we don’t understand how that works, then how can we hope to solve all the more serious problems, including infertility?”

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The best deals we found this week: MacBook Air, TCL Roku TVs and more

Apple MacBook Air
Engadget

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. If you buy something through one of the links on this page, we may earn an affiliate commission.

This week is a good time to grab a new Apple laptop. Both Amazon and B&H Photo have the latest MacBook Air for $100 off, and those that need more power can grab the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro at Amazon for $200 off. You also still have some time to buy the standard AirPods for just $129, and Best Buy has some of TCL’s newest Roku TVs for hundreds of dollars off. Here are the best deals from this week that you can still buy today.

MacBook Air

Apple’s latest MacBook Air remains on sale starting at $899, which is $100 off its normal price. That’s how much you’ll pay for the base model, which has a Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. But there’s also an upgraded model on Amazon and B&H Photo on sale for $1,200 that gets you a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Apple not only doubled the base storage in the latest MacBook Air, but it also upgraded the keyboard to its new Magic Keyboard, which is much more comfortable and more reliable than the old butterfly keys. At this price, the MacBook Air makes an even more tempting student laptop.

Buy MacBook Air at Amazon – $899

Buy MacBook Air at B&H – $899

MacBook Pro

13-inch Apple MacBook Pro

Dana Wollman / Engadget

The MacBook Pro is better suited for those that need their laptop to be a true workhorse and you can still grab a couple of the latest models while they’re discounted at Amazon. The 512GB and 1TB models of the 2020 MacBook Pro are both $200 off right now, dropping them down to $1,600 and $1,800, respectively. You’ll get the new Magic Keyboard on these laptops, too, as well as 10th-gen 2.0Ghz Core i5 processors, 16GB of RAM, 13-inch Retina displays and four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Buy 13-inch MacBook Pro (512GB) at Amazon – $1,600

Buy 13-inch MacBook Pro (1TB) at Amazon – $1,800

AirPods

Apple AirPods with wireless charging case

Engadget

Amazon and Staples have Apple’s AirPods (with the standard wired charging case) for $129, which is very close to the lowest price we’ve seen them ($128.99). They typically hover between $135 and $140, so this is a good opportunity to grab them if you don’t own a pair already. If you like the feel of the EarPods that used to come with iPhones, then you’ll like the fit of AirPods. We gave them a score of 84 for their great wireless performance and solid battery life.

Buy AirPods at Amazon – $129

Buy AirPods at Staples – $129

TCL 8-series Roku TVs

TCL 8-series smart TV

TCL

Two of TCL’s 8-series Roku smart TVs are discounted at Best Buy: the 65-inch 4K model is down to $1,000 and the massive 75-inch 4K model is down to $1,500. Those are the lowest prices we’ve ever seen for both TVs, and while they still cost a lot more than most, they have some of the newest tech you can find. The 8-series, which became available at the end of 2019, uses both quantum-dot and mini LED technology to achieve better color performance and more precise backlighting. If you’d rather not spend that much on a TV, you can snag one of Hisense’s H65 sets that are also on sale: the 43-inch 4K model is on sale for $230 and the 55-inch 4K model is now $300, which is $100 off its normal price.

Buy 65-inch TCL Roku TV at Best Buy – $1,000

Buy 75-inch TCL Roku TV at Best Buy – $1,500

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch Series 3

Chris Velazco / Engadget

You can get the Apple Watch Series 3 for its lowest price ever, only $169, at Amazon. This is a good option if the $400 Series 5 is out of your price range, or you don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with the latest model. The Series 3 does all of the basics you’d want a smartwatch to do, include track daily activity and workouts, monitor heart rate, deliver smartphone alerts, play music when connected to wireless headphones and more.

Buy Apple Watch Series 3 at Amazon – $169

Echo Dot bundle

Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker

Amazon

The Echo Dot is Amazon’s most affordable Alexa speaker, but now you can get it for much less than its $50 starting price. Those new to Amazon Music Unlimited can buy two months of the service and get either an Echo Dot for $0.99 extra, or an Echo Dot with Clock for $10 extra. That’s the cheapest you’ll ever see an Echo Dot (albeit for the rare occasions it’s a freebie when you buy a more expensive device) and you can try out Amazon’s answer to Spotify and Apple Music in the process. Just remember that your Music Unlimited subscription will renew at $10 per month if you don’t cancel before the two months are up.

Buy Echo Dot bundle at Amazon – $21

Buy Echo Dot with Clock bundle at Amazon – $30

New deal additions

Anker accessories

Anker has another one-day-only sale on Amazon today. While not as expansive as the brand’s last Amazon deal, it does include an MFi-certified Powerline+ II USB-C to Lightning cable for only $16, which is $9 less than its normal price and the lowest we’ve seen it. We like these Powerline cables for their braided nylon design that helps them resist breaking and fraying. Using this cable with an 18W or higher USB-C PD charger will let you charge your iPhone to 50 percent in only a half hour.

Buy Powerline+ II USB-C to Lightning cable at Amazon – $16

Shop Anker’s one-day-only sale

Vantrue dash cams

Two of Vantrue’s excellent dash cams are on sale for their lowest prices ever right now: the N1 Pro Mini dash cam costs $52 when you use the code NPRTR7BQ at checkout, and the N2 Pro Dual dash cam costs $120 when you use the code VH2U6RYN at checkout. The N1 Pro Mini is best for most people as it films the road ahead of you while you’re driving in 1080p, includes a night vision mode, uses loop recording so you never run out of storage space for recordings and has a G-sensor for saving impact footage. The N2 Pro films both the road and the interior of your car, making it better for those who drive for ride-sharing services.

Buy N1 Pro Mini dash cam at Amazon – $52

Buy N2 Pro Dual dash cam at Amazon – $120

Arturia summer sale

Arturia is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a summer sale that slashes 50 percent off some of its music software. Many individual instruments are discounted, but the best deals are on Pigments and Analog Lab, both of which are $99. The last time these two programs were this low was back in April. Analog Lab gives you a bunch of software synths with 6,500 presets, built-in effects, splits, multis and a live mode, along with a sound store with thousands of presets. Pigments provides a powerful synth with multiple engines, sound sources, effects and modulation.

Shop Arturia summer sale

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

In this article: engadgetdeals, commerce, thebuyersguide, weeklydeals, Apple, AirPods, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Tcl, Roku TV, anker, vantrue, arturia, Apple Watch Series 3, Echo Dot, news, gear

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Sega president Kenji Matsubara abruptly resigns

Sega president Kenji Matsubara has abruptly resigned from the company.

Matsubara tendered his resignation on Friday, citing “personal reasons,” Sega parent company Sega Sammy said in an abbreviated statement. The company said the resignation is effective immediately and hasn’t announced who will replace the developer’s top executive.

It’s unclear what may have precipitated Matsubara’s resignation, but it doesn’t appear to have been planned. In April, he seemed to be fully involved in Sega’s operations and was given chief publishing officer duties in addition to his president role. He also served as a Sega Sammy board director — another role he’s vacating on Friday.

Sega Sammy did not immediately respond to Digital Trends’ request for comment on Matsubara’s departure and the events surrounding it.

Matsubara joined Sega’s networks division in 2014 as its chief technology officer. In 2017, Sega Sammy elevated him to president, where he oversaw all of Sega’s development operations. Before joining Sega, Matsubara was the president and CEO at Japanese gaming company Tecmo Koei. He also served as Zynga Japan’s CEO for two years.

Sega’s new leadership void comes as the company tries to reinvent itself in the ever-changing gaming industry. While Sega served as one of the most prominent game companies in the world in the 1990s, since it discontinued its Dreamcast console in 2001, it’s focused on game development and delivered a variety of titles from some of its most popular franchises, including the Sonic the Hedgehog.

Looking ahead, Sega has two publicly announced games in development — a PC title slated to launch on August 13 called Troy: A Total War Saga and Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which will release on both current- and next-generation consoles. Sega hasn’t announced Like a Dragon‘s launch date.

Sega is also trying to capitalize on nostalgia and announced last month a slate of micro Game Gear handhelds. Each of the four devices will cost $50 and come in distinct colors — blue, yellow, red, and black. Depending on the model customers choose, they’ll find four different games, including Sonic the Hedgehog (black model) and Sonic Chaos (blue model). Players who want to play all 16 classic Game Gear games will need to buy each version. The Game Gear handhelds launch on October 6.

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Leaked Galaxy Z Fold 2 Renders Depict Some Major Upgrades for Samsung’s Second-Gen Foldable Phone


Here are leaked images of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 sent to MySmartPrice from a “trusted” source.

Here are leaked images of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 sent to MySmartPrice from a “trusted” source.
Photo: Samsung (via MySmartPrice (Other)

Despite its flaws, I thought the Galaxy Fold was so innovative it was worthy of being named the most important phone of 2019. But now, some new leaked renders of Samsung’s next-gen foldable have appeared depicting a phone featuring some major upgrades that address many of its predecessor’s shortcomings.

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In advance of the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s expected official announcement next week at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event on August 5, MySmartPrice has published a number of high-res product renders that have given us the clearest look yet at Samsung’s next foldable phone. The outlet didn’t give an explanation of the renders’ provenance beyond the statement that they come from a “trusted source.

The biggest physical change on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G (which is a real mouthful of a name) is the addition of a much larger 6.23-inch cover screen on the outside of the device. That’s a huge upgrade from the 4.6-inch cover screen on the original Galaxy Fold, which was intended to allow users to do things like quickly respond to texts, check emails, or look up an address on a map without needing to open the phone to access the larger foldable screen inside.

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Illustration for article titled Leaked Galaxy Z Fold 2 Renders Depict Some Major Upgrades for Samsungs Second-Gen Foldable Phone

Photo: Samsung (via MySmartPrice (Other)

Unfortunately, because the original Galaxy Fold’s cover screen was so small, there was little room to stash apps on the phone’s home screen, while typing on a virtual keyboard confined to a screen that small was an exercise in frustration. However, by extending the Z Fold 2’s cover screen to take up almost the entire front of the phone, it looks like Samsung has addressed one of the original Fold’s biggest cons.

Meanwhile, on the inside of the phone, not only do the renders show a slightly larger 7.7-inch foldable display (up from 7.3-inches on the original Fold), you can also see that Samsung has eliminated the notch that held the original Fold’s selfie cameras. Samsung’s previous decision to use a notch on the original Fold always struck me as a weird choice because after the company produced multiple ads mocking other phones that featured a notch (most notably the iPhone X), the Fold was actually Samsung’s first major phone to feature a notched display.

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Instead, while it’s hard to see from MySmartPrice’s leaked renders, based on other images recently posted by noted leaker Ice Universe, for the Z Fold 2 it appears Samsung is going with a small hole punch selfie camera which should take up much less space while also being a much less in-your-face visual distraction. So that’s another weakness of the original Fold solved.

Finally, the leaked renders show significantly smaller bezels surrounding the Z Fold 2’s flexible display. This is very significant for a few reasons. The first is that after some reviewers “accidentally” peeled off part of the original Fold’s display after mistaking Samsung’s protective polymer film (which is an integral part of its flexible screen) as a simple screen protector, Samsung had to pull the phone from the market in order to add a thick plastic bezel around the outside of the Fold that blocked users from seeing the edge of the polymer film. But on the Z Fold 2, it appears Samsung has figured out a different method for hiding the edges of the screen while trying to maximize both durability and usable screen real estate.

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Based on these leaked pics, it appears the Z Fold 2 will come in two colors: black and copper.

Based on these leaked pics, it appears the Z Fold 2 will come in two colors: black and copper.
Photo: Samsung (via MySmartPrice (Other)

Sadly, the leaked images don’t contain a lot of info about the Z Fold 2’s size and weight, which is important because while the original Fold was tolerable to carry around, it was a bit too heavy and chunky for something that was supposed to be a mobile device.

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On the inside, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is expected to feature one of Qualcomm’s current flagship processors (probably the Snapdragon 865+), along with up to 512GB of storage, triple rear cameras, and full 5G compatibility. The one big remaining downer is that with the Z Fold 2 also expected to cost just shy of $2,000 (just like the original Fold), it seems like Samsung isn’t concerned about making its flagship foldable more affordable.

As for the rest of the new gadgets we’re expecting to see at Galaxy Unpacked, based on numerous leaks and teases, it appears Samsung is planning to release two versions of the Galaxy Note 20, two versions of the Galaxy Tab S7, a new flagship smartwatch in the Galaxy Watch 3, and a new pair of true wireless earbuds with built-in active noise canceling.

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Including the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Samsung is up to a total of five new devices, which is a lot more than what it typically releases during its bi-annual Unpacked showcases. But with Covid-19 having already forced the cancellation of a number of big tradeshows, it probably makes more sense for Samsung to have one big event instead of a number of smaller announcements.

Either way, next week is sure to be jam-packed with new debuts, so check back to Gizmodo on August 5 for more coverage of Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event.

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My latest lockdown workout is VR boxing

BoxVR
BoxVR

Gyms have been closed for a long time. Workout classes canceled, snacks consumed. General physical movement, constrained. I’ve, unsurprisingly, put on some weight since March, struggling to find the right kind of workout that I can do on my own steam, in my own apartment. Destroying most of my excuses, one of those workouts was delivered to my door: BoxVR, alongside an Oculus Quest kit. 

VR workouts have been around for a few years, but with lighter and wireless hardware finally here, the case for them has strengthened. BoxVR was at the vanguard, launching over three years ago. It’s now available across most VR platforms including Steam, PlayStation Store and the Oculus Store,. While there’s now further DLC content — my other reason for testing it all out — the central posit hasn’t changed.

BoxVR workouts land somewhere between those test-your-strength arcade punch cabinets, a boxercise class and, maybe, an arcade shooter. Once you’ve got your stance (a footprint symbol on the floor will direct you as to whether you put your right or left foot first), the soundtrack and the workout begins. 

The aim is to hit, block or dodge everything that comes your way. Successful actions stack up on the HUD on the left side of the screen. If you collect enough, these give a boost to your point scores. Get hit (or miss hitting something) and your ‘combo’ gets dinged and you have to start building up your run again.

While a lot of workout games with wands or hand tracking focus on those areas, BoxVR tries to keep it all full-body workout. Yes, neon balloons will shoot towards you, demanding jabs, hooks and uppercuts, but these are joined by “walls” that you’ll need to duck under. These seem set at a good level (given the game can gauge your height) to feel the burn of squatting — it’s always a little deeper than comfortable, but that’s probably good for a workout. 

BoxVR

BoxVR

Throughout the session, the game asks you to swap your stance and offer a few seconds of recovery before the next barrage of neon targets. Also, I’m no boxing black-belt (I know that’s not a thing), but these workouts are very much cardio-centric. You’re not going to nail your form and while it helped improve my fitness levels, and possibly responsiveness, BoxVR is not going to translate into real-life sparring improvements. There aren’t any coaching cues, though fitness coaches profiles are matched to classes, I’m not sure what benefit anyone derives from that. Did they program the class?

The game attempts to track how many calories you burn, based on your weight, height and movements. Expect to burn a few hundred calories for more extended workouts.

It’s a VR cliche, but I appreciated the escapism — a workout that’s not a dull run, nor push-ups or handstand holds in my one-bedroom apartment. I am getting pretty sick of these four walls. 

With BoxVR, you’re transported to a digital boutique gym that (rejoice) has no-one in it besides you — it feels almost COVID-19 themed, even if there are no virtual hand sanitizer dispensers.

When you choose the workout you want, whether that’s the level of intensity or length of the workout, you also get to pick the ‘look’ of the gym, which includes a sci-fi-themed landscape if you want to keep things gamey.

After a few weeks of workouts on the Oculus Quest, I also tried it on my PSVR. Sadly, it’s not such a great fit on the PS4. The headset is far too heavy, the cables irritate and tangle — it’s all uncomfortable and unwieldy.

That’s why BoxVR, like most VR workouts, works best on the latest, (and crucially) lightest hardware. Even then, I found it got a little too sweaty on the longer running workouts: Imagine doing a gym class while wearing goggles. It doesn’t matter how light the VR hardware is when you still have to strap it to your face. 

Compared to some other titles — we recently tested out the dance-centric Supernatural, but you could add Beat Saber here too — I missed having a soundtrack of more familiar songs and mixes. Now, if you play BoxVR on a PC, you can add your music to workouts — I was pretty envious of this feature.

I haven’t managed to exhaust all the workouts, mostly due to the sweats on longer sessions, but BoxVR now has two different DLC expansions, adding a wider range of both music and workouts. Perhaps disappointingly, it doesn’t offer a major shift in music styles of moves, but in general, these DLC workouts demanded higher levels of skill (and fitness). 

The makers of BoxVR have just announced a new VR fitness hub, FitXR. Existing BoxVR users will get a free upgrade to the new ‘studio’ on Oculus Quest, which includes over four hours of boxercise workouts. These workouts are pitched as slightly more elaborate, folding in lunge moves and more classes, but it doesn’t appear to shake things up too much. I’d have loved to see the ability to spar with a trainer and a virtual punch-bag, even if there’s no physical feedback to your swings and jabs. (I’m imagining something like how Sharon Stone gets coached on her tennis serve in Total Recall.)

FitXR’s new hub could help keep you motivated though, offering virtual fitness classes filled with six other players (or even ghost data) to keep you on your toes and at the top, or middle, of the leaderboards.

Three years on, the company appears to be sticking to on-the-rails punching. Now that VR hardware has evolved, I hope BoxVR (Or FitXR) can continue to do the same.

In this article: boxvr, vr, virtual reality, workout, fitness, boxing, exercise, oculus, oculus quest, news, gear
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AirPods Pro, Powerbeats Pro in the discount bin — save up to $50

For Apple fans who refuse to part ways with their music anywhere they go, the AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro are perfect for you. These true wireless earbuds pair seamlessly with any iOS device and offer superb sound quality and a slew of awesome features. Right now, they’re both on sale at Amazon and Verizon from only $200. Better act fast though as discounts on Apple products typically don’t last long.

Powerbeats Pro — $200, was $250

The Powerbeats Pro true wireless earphones have a lot going for them, starting with a thin and unobtrusive design that’s perfect for working out. With an IPX4 rating, they are protected against sweat and the occasional splash of water. Their secure and comfortable fit is courtesy of ear hooks and four pairs of detachable ear tips in varying sizes. Unfortunately, these earphones don’t offer passive noise isolation, so you’ll be able to hear everything around you. This can be a good thing though, especially if you’re jogging in high-traffic areas.

These wireless earphones boast intuitive touch controls and Class 1 Bluetooth technology that offers an extended range and fewer dropouts. Apple’s H1 Chip is also responsible for quick and easy pairing and allows iOS users to instantly pull up Siri. Although the AirPods prove better when it comes to seamless connection, the Powerbeats Pro offer better sound quality, with punchy bass and impressive instrumental separation, detail, and dynamics. Vocal clarity for calls is likewise guaranteed, supported by a speech-detecting accelerometer and multiple microphones that target voices and filter out external noise.

For each full charge in the charging case, these earphones can provide up to nine hours of music playback. Furthermore, the case is capable of juicing them up an additional two charges, for a total of 24 hours of use. Even five minutes of quick charging can fuel the Powerbeats Pro for at least 1.5 hours. With built-in motion accelerometers, these earphones automatically enter sleep mode when not in use to help you conserve power. If you lead an active lifestyle and don’t want to part with their favorite tunes, the Powerbeats Pro are for you. They usually come with a $250 price tag but take advantage of Amazon’s $50 discount and get them for $200.

AirPods Pro — $220, was $250

We weren’t all that impressed with the standard AirPods, so when Apple announced it was going to release the souped-up AirPod Pro, we were naturally skeptical. Would the company be able to deliver this time and improve on all the areas that the AirPods failed at? The answer is a resounding yes. The AirPods Pro are shockingly good and are absolutely the best true wireless earbuds that you can get if you’re an iOS user. Their sound quality has improved tremendously, their noise-canceling is spectacular, and they’re extremely comfortable to use even when used for a long period. Right now, you can score the AirPods Pro at Verizon for $220 instead of $250.

Unlike the Airpods, the AirPods Pro come with three sets of silicone eartips that snap on with a satisfying click instead of sliding onto a little nubbin as so many other in-ear buds require. This change not only offers a more secure and comfortable fit but also contributes to a better bass response. The AirPods Pro inherit the original AirPods’ controls which means they’re ridiculously easy to operate and, as expected, Siri is always listening and ready to obey your every command. As with most true wireless buds with active noise-canceling, you have the option to either shut noise out or let it all in. Apple calls the latter feature “Transparency Mode,” and activating this allows sounds from the outside world to arrive in a very natural way, almost as if you’ve taken the buds themselves out. Noise-canceling is decidedly top-notch and almost on par with what over-ear ANC headphones offer. Last but certainly not least, the AirPods Pro deliver a pretty impressive sonic performance. Their sound signature is terrific, rich in subtle details with some zesty treble, rounded-up by a full-bodied bass. We tip our hats to the Apple AirPods Pro. Get them for $220 at Verizon today.

Looking for more? Check out Deals hub for more AirPods deals.

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Mandy Patinkin Has Deleted About 28,000 Emails, So Far


Illustration for article titled Mandy Patinkin Has Deleted About 28,000 Emails, So Far

Screenshot: Mandy Patinkin/Twitter (Fair Use)

Actor Mandy Patinkin announced in a video posted to Twitter Friday morning that he had deleted “about 28,000” of his wife Kathryn Grody’s unread emails. At the time of the recording, some 10,000 unread emails remained, according to Grody, who said she tasked the 67-year-old thespian and musician with conducting the purge.

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“Dad is clearing out 38,000 unread emails from my computer. And I don’t want him to finish until the end of this trip because it’s an activity that keeps him very happy and very occupied,” Grody, 73, said, addressing the cameraman, who is presumed to be one of the couple’s two adult sons. “He doesn’t know that I do that on purpose.”

When Patinkin revealed his progress, Grody lamented that he was “doing it too fast, honey.”

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“You’ve gotta keep—do a little less,” she added.

Patinkin confirmed the enjoyment he receives from the activity, which is colloquially referred to as achieving inbox zero.

“Nothing gets me more excited than hitting one and it’s like one thousand three hundred,” Patinkin said. “And then I delete it.”

The video was filmed at an undisclosed location, but it appears the family is on vacation. A yellow labrador retriever, identified as Becky, was also present for the filming.

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A 2015 YouGov survey found that just 2% of American adults have more than 5,000 unread emails in their inbox, while 22% reported having zero unread emails. Twenty-seven percent said their inboxes contain between 10 and 49 unread emails. A majority of respondents (53%) said they would be “extremely bothered” by having 1,000 unread emails.

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Grody vowed to ensure her husband’s efforts are not rendered futile by her own lack of diligence. “I’m gonna do that [maintain zero unread emails],” Grody said, “because I’m going to get rid of them” as soon as she sees them.

“She promised she would and that she wouldn’t open all this garbage stuff anymore,” Patinkin said.

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“Unless we come on another trip,” Grody admitted, appearing to backtrack on her commitment.

Asked by the cameraman whether deleting his wife’s unread emails was truly “[his] favorite activity [he’s] done in a long time,” Patinkin waffled. “Pretty much so. Yeah, I think so,” he said, before remembering a greater joy.

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“No, no—my favorite activity is taking Becky on these gorgeous walks here, you know, where we are,” Patinkin said. “It’s just, you know—it’ll move you to tears, it’s so beautiful.”

No other news happened today.

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