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Tech

Pentagon awards United Launch Alliance, SpaceX launch contracts

WASHINGTON The U.S. Air Force said on Friday it awarded United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Elon Musk’s SpaceX $653 million in combined military launch contracts under the Pentagon’s next-generation, multibillion-dollar launch capability program.

The contracts are for launch service orders beginning in 2022 and allocate $337 million to ULA, a joint venture between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp, and $316 million to SpaceX for the first missions of roughly 34 total that the two rocket firms will support through 2027.

ULA will receive a contract for approximately 60% of those launch service orders using its next-generation Vulcan rocket while Musk’s SpaceX, using its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, will receive approximately 40%, the Air Force’s acquisition chief Will Roper told reporters on Friday.

The awards are part of the Pentagon’s 2014 mandate from Congress to curb its dependency on rockets using Russia’s RD-180 engine and transition to U.S.-made rockets for launching Washington’s most sensitive national security payloads to space.

The program, called National Security Space Launch Phase 2, is aimed at “building a competitive industry base that we hope doesn’t just help military and national security missions, but that helps our nation continue to compete and dominate in space,” Roper added.

“Today’s awards mark a new epoch of space launch that will finally transition the Department off Russian RD-180 engines,” Roper said in a statement.

The two companies lay claim to billions of dollars in lucrative military contracts for a span of five years that competitors Blue Origin, the space company of Amazon.com Inc owner Jeff Bezos, and Northrop Grumman also competed for.

Also Watch

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Blue Origin Chief Executive Bob Smith said in a statement he was “disappointed” in the Pentagon’s decision, adding that the company will continue to develop its heavy-lift New Glenn rocket “to fulfill our current commercial contracts, pursue a large and growing commercial market, and enter into new civil space launch contracts.”

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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Tech

TikTok prepares advertisers for possible app ban

TikTok is preparing advertisers for a possible ban of its app in the United States, ad buyers said, offering refunds for ad campaigns that are unable to run.

The short-form video app’s advertising business is still nascent. TikTok’s anticipated $1 billion (766 million pounds) in 2020 revenue is a small fraction of its Chinese owner ByteDance’s overall sales. But TikTok has become a popular place for brands that aim to reach the app’s young tastemakers, who flock to it for lip-syncing, dancing and comedy sketch videos.

TikTok said it will continue to honor planned ad campaigns, refund any that it can’t fulfill and would also work with major influencers to migrate to other platforms in the event of a ban, said Rob Pearsall, senior vice president of biddable media at ad agency Havas Media, referencing a memo the agency received from TikTok Friday morning.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that would ban U.S. transactions with TikTok and WeChat, the Chinese-owned messaging app, beginning Sept. 15.

“We’re committed to being a trusted partner to brands, agencies and marketers as we build TikTok for the long term. TikTok will be here for many years to come,” Blake Chandlee, TikTok’s vice president for global business solutions, said in a statement.

Some advertisers are forming contingency plans and considering other apps to move their marketing budgets.

Photo-messaging app Snapchat is one option for advertisers that need to reach TikTok’s younger audience, said Meghan Rao, account director at ad agency HYFN, a unit of Nexstar Digital, which counts New Balance and Macy’s as clients.

Contingency planning for one client that planned to advertise on TikTok is expected to begin on Monday, Rao said. She declined to name the brand.

One popular form of advertising on TikTok is a hashtag challenge, where users post videos about a brand’s product. Since sponsoring a hashtag takes advance planning, Havas and its clients are likely to put a pause on those ads, given the looming Sept. 15 deadline, Pearsall said.

Also Watch

Air India Express Crash: Kerala Minister K K Shailaja Speaks About The Ongoing Rescue Operation

Brands have also started asking whether they should be on TikTok rivals such as Triller and Byte, which has seen downloads jump in recent days, said an ad agency director who declined to be named.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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Tech

MediaTek Joins Hands With Intel to Unveil Its First 5G Powered Laptop Chips

Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company MediaTek on Thursday said the first laptops enabled by it and Intel 5G modem solution are expected in early 2021. MediaTek said its T700 5G modem, which will be used to bring 5G connectivity to Intel-powered PCs, completed 5G standalone (SA) calls in real-world test scenarios.

Additionally, Intel has progressed on system integration, validation and developing platform optimisations for superior user experience and is readying co-engineering support for its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners. “Our partnership with Intel is a natural extension of our growing 5G mobile business, and is an incredible market opportunity for MediaTek to move into the PC market,” MediaTek President Joe Chen said in a statement.

“With Intel’s deep expertise in the PC space and our groundbreaking 5G modem technology, we will redefine the laptop experience and bring consumers the best 5G experiences.” The MediaTek T700 modem supports non-standalone and standalone Sub-6 5G network architectures to deliver consistently faster speeds and more reliable connectivity, the company said.

“Building on our 4G/LTE leadership in PCs, 5G is poised to further transform the way we connect, compute and communicate. Intel is committed to enhancing those capabilities on the world’s best PCs,” said Chris Walker, Intel Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Mobile Client Platforms. MediaTek is rolling out its 5G technology across the PC, mobile, home, auto and Internet of Things (IoT) segments to make super-fast connectivity accessible to everyone.


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Tech

Indonesia imposes 10% VAT on Facebook, Disney, Tiktok

JAKARTA Indonesia has added more technology companies that will be obligated to apply 10% value-added tax on sales to Indonesian customers to include Facebook, Disney and TikTok, its tax office said on Friday.

Southeast Asia’s biggest country, which has a population of nearly 270 million people, announced last month a 10% VAT on sales by technology firms including Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and Google, as spending patterns shift with increased remote working amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit government finances.

The additional companies announced on Friday include three units of Facebook, Tiktok Pte Ltd, Apple Distribution International Ltd, The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) Pte Ltd, and more of Amazon’s subsidiaries, including its audiobook unit Audible and its voice assistant Alexa.

Facebook said the company would comply.

“In Indonesia, we will start collecting VAT as of September 1, 2020, as required under Indonesia regulations,” a Facebook spokeswoman said.

The other companies did not immediately respond to requests to comment.

Under the rules, non-resident foreign firms which sell digital products and services in Indonesia worth at least 600 million rupiah ($41,040) a year, or which generate yearly traffic from at least 12,000 users, must pay the 10% VAT.

Tech giants are increasingly facing tougher fiscal regimes in Southeast Asia, including in Thailand and the Philippines, where legislation pending house approval proposes VAT of 7% and 12% respectively.

The Indonesian tax office in a statement said it continues to identify other technology companies to inform them of the digital tax rules, adding the number of firms subject to the VAT would likely increase.

The VAT rules aim to create a level playing field between foreign and local companies and between conventional and digital businesses, it said.

Indonesia expects a 13% annual drop in state revenue this year as the coronavirus disrupts business activity.

Also Watch

Sushant Death Probe: Rhea Couldn’t Answer ED’s Questions, Says She ‘Can’t Remember’ | CNN News18

($1 = 14,620 rupiah)

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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Tech

Google to Deploy Its Free Digital Learning Tools For 23mn Students & Teachers in Maharashtra

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

This makes Maharashtra the first state in the country to launch G Suite for Education and Google Classroom for the students currently engaged in online learning.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 7, 2020, 12:28 PM IST

As part of the policy for universal education, the Maharashtra government has tied up with Google to enable remote learning for 2.30 crore students and teachers, officials said here on Thursday. Under this collaboration, students and teachers will access blended learning programmes that combine classroom approach with online learning including free tools like G Suite for Education, Google Classroom, Google Meet and others.

This makes Maharashtra the first state in the country to launch G Suite for Education and Google Classroom for the students currently engaged in online learning, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The state government will provide individual educators and students with their own G Suite ID to ensure all students in private or government schools in the remotest areas can experience continuity in learning, besides enhancing the teaching capabilities of educators.

“In the Corona crisis when the world is at a standstill, how to restart education is one of the primary concerns we face today. I feel this global crisis has led us from the present to the future,” Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said at the launch. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said during these tough times, education must not stop and everyone should get access to education like before.

“With this cooperation, Google has enabled access to G Suite for Education and Google Classroom programme for our state schools, students can sit at home and learn, ask questions, clarify doubts, save lectures, etc,” he said. School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad stressed the power of the Internet to take education to the masses and reduce the learning gap.

“With an emphasis on online resources, platforms, bandwidth, and availability of technological solutions, we aim to make Maharashtra the most progressive state on education,” she said. Google India Vice-President and Country Head Sanjay Gupta said since the Covid-19 outbreak, over 32 crore children have been hit by school closures, making access to quality education even more critical.

“This collaboration builds upon our commitment to create useful tools that make information accessible over the internet so that teachers and students continue to benefit from it,” he added. Gupta said that this month, the Maharashtra government rolled out a survey asking teachers to register for the first batch of training programmes and out of the 700,000 educators across the state, Google received 150,000 sign-ups in less than 48 hours.

Google for Education solutions helps teachers provide excellent educational experiences and enable students to learn better by nurturing individual needs. Each solution has been designed to be easy to use, flexible and scalable. They are built for collaboration, secure by design, and will now be available to scores of teachers and students across Maharashtra, for free.

At the sixth Google for India event, Google announced that it will enable over 1 million teachers across 22,000 schools in India with blended learning by the end of 2020. Earlier this year, Google collaborated with FICCI Arise to ensure teachers and students can transition to remote learning seamlessly, and trained teachers in over 250 schools across 23 states to use digital tools such as Google Meet.


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Tech

Xiaomi Is Working On MIUI Update Which Will Remove All Apps Blocked By The Indian Government

Xiaomi has confirmed that it is working on a new version of the MIUI software for its smartphone line-up, which will remove all the apps that have been blocked by the Government of India. Over the past few weeks, India has blocked multiple Chinese apps owned and developed by Chinese tech companies, over fears about user data privacy and security. The banned apps include popular social media app TikTok, instant messaging app WeChat, as well as AliExpress, UCBrowser and Shein, to name a few. Xiaomi India also confirms that all data of Indian users is stored on servers based in India, and no data is shared with anyone outside the geographical boundaries of India.

“We want to clarify that none of the apps blocked by the Indian Government are available for access on any Xiaomi phones launched in India,” says Xiaomi India in an official statement. They also confirm that they are developing an updated version of MIUI for all Xiaomi phones sold in India which will not pre-install any apps that have been blocked by the Government of India. This update will be rolled out over the next few weeks to all phones in a phased manner.

Xiaomi India also confirms the data localization compliance which requires all data of Indian users to be saved and stored on servers within the geographical boundaries of India. “Even before it was mandated, we pioneered data localization for all Xiaomi India apps and users. Since 2018, 100% of data from Indian users in stored on servers located in India and none of this data is shared with anyone outside of India,” says the company.

Xiaomi is also addressing concerns that the MIUI Cleaner app is in no way related to the Clean Master app that has been blocked in India. Xiaomi says the MIUI cleaner app is only using definitions that are vital to the functioning of the app, and to eliminate the confusion, will be removing those definitions from the MIUI Cleaner app. Users can update the app on their smartphones, or the update will be rolled out as part of the next MIUI version as well.


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Tech

Nokia's new CEO adopts wait and see strategy in 'dream job'

STOCKHOLM/HELSINKI Nokia’s new chief executive Pekka Lundmark said he will take time to re-acquaint himself with the Finnish telecom equipment maker before setting a strategy, as the company jostles for position in the highly political 5G race.

U.S. government pressure to limit the use of China’s Huawei presents an opportunity for Nokia as next generation technology is rolled out, but Lundmark would not be drawn.

“Maintaining good relations with governments in pretty much all parts of the world is extremely important,” Lundmark said in a video interview with Reuters on Friday. “We are talking to governments in different parts of the world, but that’s pretty much business as usual for us.”

He also declined to disclose his thinking on Nokia’s broad range of product portfolio and strategy. The company made product mis-steps last year, although it managed an unexpected rise in second-quarter underlying profit as it took on less low-margin business.

“What we will be doing now is to preview the current plans and then potentially make new plans as to how we develop the portfolio,” said Lundmark, who took on the Nokia top job last weekend.

“I have theories and ideas in my mind, but again day five is far too early to talk about them.”

He said he hoped to be able to give more detail “before the end of the year”.

Lundmark previously spent 10 years working in Nokia’s network business in the 1990s and then 20 years working elsewhere. Most recently he was CEO of Finnish energy company Fortum.

Also Watch

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“This job is my dream job,” he said of his new role. “It’s definitely kind of a homecoming for me.”

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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Tech

PUBG Mobile Beta 1.0 Update: Erangel 2.0, M1014 Weapon, Cheer Park Update and More

A new beta update for PUBG Mobile is bringing version 1.0 along with the much awaited Erangel 2.0 map update. The new beta version was recently confirmed by the PUBG Mobile team on their Discord channel. The update seems to be available to limited users on Android although we are expecting a wider roll-out in the coming days. Apart from the new map, the update brings some more additions to the game. The patch notes suggest changes to the new Livik map, Cheer Park as well as UI improvements. The

First, let’s go through all the listed patch notes for PUBG Mobile 1.0 beta:

Erangel 2.0:

-Upgraded graphics

-Building adjustments

-Adjustments to large resource points: Mylta Power/Quarry/Prison/Other Play Zone

-New map elements: Added trenches, wooden barricades, abandoned tanks…

-Building structure changes

Livik Improvements:

-New Weapon: M1014

-Art and Graphics Improvements

-Stage Balancing

-Bug Fixes

Cheer Park:

-Training Ground 2.0

-Cheer Park Showdowns

-Island in the Lake at Cheer Park

System Improvements:

-UI 2.0

By the looks of it, there aren’t a lot of changes like we usually have in new updates. Having said that, Erangel 2.0 is a huge update on its own as we’ve been waiting for the revamped map since last year. We can’t be too sure if these changes will positively arrive in the stable update, but there is a big hint that a lot of people have missed. If you head over to the Google Play store and search for PUBG Mobile, you will notice that the game logo has been updated and says 1.0 which means that the 1.0 update is definitely on its way.


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Tech

Facebook removes small pro-Trump network based in Romania

SAN FRANCISCO Facebook Inc said on Thursday it recently removed a small network of accounts operating from Romania that had been promoting President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign with stories about his support from conservatives, Black Americans, Christians and followers of the QAnon web of baseless conspiracy theories.

Many of the 35 Facebook and 88 Instagram accounts posed as Americans, and some managed Trump fan pages, but they ran afoul of the social network’s rules on what it calls coordinated inauthentic behavior. In addition to misleading people about their location, some account holders ran multiple personas with similar names that posted identical content.

The network had a small reach, with only 1,600 accounts following the Facebook pages and 7,200 tracking the accounts on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

Facebook security policy head Nathaniel Gleicher said the company was unable to tell whether the Romanian group was motivated by money, ideology or government directive.

The nonprofit Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab said some pages only shared content from Trump’s page, while others promoted QAnon, which connects various theories around the idea that Trump is secretly waging a war against powerful Democrats who worship the devil and abuse children. The FBI warned last year https://www.justsecurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/420379775-fbi-conspiracy-theories-domestic-extremism.pdf that QAnon would likely motivate extremists to commit violence.

Atlantic Council Lab Director Graham Brookie said there were no clear connections to Trump associates or surrogates, and Gleicher said there were no obvious ties to established commercial players such as companies that sell “likes” and followers.

Facebook previously removed much larger and better-connected networks that supported Trump, including one connected to the Epoch Times https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-content/facebook-says-group-used-computer-generated-faces-to-push-pro-trump-message-idUSKBN1YO26W, which was founded by supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and often criticizes the government of China.

Facebook said on Thursday it had removed another network that reposted content from the Epoch Times and other Falun Gong media in a follow-up action.

While smaller than the network in the December takedown, the new one had amassed more than 2 million followers by posting on topics including the Hong Kong protests, the coronavirus, and U.S. policy toward China, as well as posting animal pictures.

Other July takedowns dismantled a major operation aimed at politics in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than a million accounts followed pages in the network, which sometimes impersonated political figures.

Also Watch

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Facebook said it connected the activity to Congolese political party Force des Patriotes.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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WeChat owner Tencent investments in the United States and beyond

HONG KONG U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive order banning U.S. transactions involving Chinese social media and video game leader Tencent Holdings Ltd, owner of messaging app WeChat, on national security grounds.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is set to identify transactions covered by the order, which starts in 45 days.

Below is a list of some of Tencent’s biggest U.S. and international investments:

UNITED STATES

*Tesla Inc: Tencent bought 5% of the electric vehicle maker for $1.78 billion in 2017. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has called Tencent “an investor and adviser to Tesla”.

*Riot Games: Tencent bought a majority stake in the Los Angeles-based “League of Legends” game developer in 2011 and made it fully owned in 2015.

*Activision Blizzard Inc: Tencent has a minority stake in the owner of the “Call of Duty” franchise. Tencent last year launched “Call of Duty Mobile” and has seen 45 million downloads in the United States, Tower Sensor data showed.

*Epic Games: Tencent acquired a minority stake in 2012.

*Snap Inc: Tencent bought 12% of the messaging app operator in 2017.

*Reddit Inc: The social media platform raised $300 million in 2019 in a funding round led by Tencent resulting in a market valuation of $3 billion.

INTERNATIONAL

*Spotify Technology SA: The Swedish music streaming firm and Tencent Music Entertainment Group bought minority stakes in each other ahead of the former’s 2018 stock market listing in New York.

*Universal Music Group: French media conglomerate Vivendi SA in 2019 said it had finalised the sale of 10% of the world’s largest music label to a Tencent-led consortium, which also had the option to buy up to 10% more by January 2021 on the same price basis. The deal gave Tencent more access to U.S. artists such as Taylor Swift and Kanye West.

Also Watch

Sushant Death Probe: ED Findings Reveal Money Transferred To Rhea’s Account From 2 Of SSR’s A/Cs

*U.S. listed firms: Tencent owns stakes in Bilibili Inc, Sogou Inc, Huya Inc, Douyu International Holdings Ltd, JD.com Inc, Pinduoduo Inc, Vipshop Holdings Ltd, Nio Inc and Futu Holdings Ltd.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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WeChat owner Tencent investments in the United States and beyond => Sushant Death Probe: CBI Files FIR Against 6 Accused Including Rhea, Begins Probe | CNN News18
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