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Sonos clarifies how unsupported devices will be treated

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Smart speaker manufacturer Sonos clarified its stance when it comes to old devices that are no longer supported. The company faced some criticisms after its original announcement. Sonos now says that you’ll be able to create two separate Sonos systems so that your newer devices stay up to date.

If you use a Zone Player, Connect, first-generation Play:5, CR200, Bridge or pre-2015 Connect:Amp, Sonos is still going to drop support for those devices. According to the company, those devices have reached their technical limits when it comes to memory and processing power.

While nothing lasts forever, it’s still a shame that speakers that work perfectly fine are going to get worse over time. For instance, if Spotify and Apple Music update their application programming interface in the future, your devices could stop working with those services altogether.

But the announcement felt even more insulting as the company originally said that your entire ecosystem of Sonos devices would stop receiving updates so that all your devices remain on the same firmware version. Even if you just bought a Sonos One, it would stop receiving updates if there’s an old speaker on your network.

“We are working on a way to split your system so that modern products work together and get the latest features, while legacy products work together and remain in their current state,” the company writes.

It’s not ideal, but the company is no longer holding your Sonos system back. Sonos also clarifies that old devices will still receive security updates and bug fixes — but there won’t be any new feature.

I still think Sonos should add a computing card slot to its devices. This way, you wouldn’t have to replace speakers altogether. You could get a new computing card with more memory and faster processors and swap your existing card. Modularity is going to be essential if tech companies want to adopt a more environmental-friendly stance.

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U.S. judge grants Amazon’s request, halts Pentagon cloud computing deal with Microsoft

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A U.S. judge on Thursday granted Amazon.com Inc’s request to temporarily halt the U.S. Department of Defense and Microsoft Corp from moving forward on an up-to-US$10 billion cloud computing deal that Amazon says reflected undue influence by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Amazon, which had been seen as a front-runner to win the contract, filed a lawsuit in November just weeks after the contract was awarded to Microsoft. Trump has publicly derided Amazon head Jeff Bezos and repeatedly criticized the company.

READ MORE: Trump’s ‘improper pressure’ prevented Pentagon contract, Amazon lawsuit says

Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith issued a preliminary injunction but did not release her written opinion. She also ordered Amazon to post US$42 million in the event the injunction was issued wrongfully.

The Amazon lawsuit said the Defense Department’s decision was full of “egregious errors,” which were a result of “improper pressure from President Donald Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks” to steer the contract away from Amazon “to harm his perceived political enemy” Bezos.

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Bezos also owns the Washington Post, whose coverage has been critical of Trump and which has frequently been a target of barbs by Trump about the news media.

Saudia Arabia denies hacking phone of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos
Saudia Arabia denies hacking phone of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

The Pentagon, which had planned to start work on the contract on Friday, said it was disappointed in the ruling.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Carver, a Defense Department spokesman, said the Pentagon believed “the actions taken in this litigation have unnecessarily delayed implementing DoD’s modernization strategy and deprived our warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need.”

It added it remained “confident in our award of the JEDI Cloud contract to Microsoft.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper previously denied there was bias and said the Pentagon made its choice fairly and freely without external influence.

READ MORE: ‘Unmistakable bias’: Amazon protests $10B Pentagon contract won by Microsoft

Alexander Major, a partner at McCarter & English, said: “The court has confirmed through the injunction that Amazon’s challenges with respect to this procurement are not trivial. It’s not guaranteed that they will prevail but the fact that they got it at all is a big deal.”

Amazon shares closed down 0.4%, while Microsoft was down 0.5%.

TESTIMONY SOUGHT FROM TRUMP

As part of the lawsuit, Amazon asked the court in January to pause the execution of the contract, popularly known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud, or JEDI. The contract is intended to give the military better access to data and technology from remote locations.

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Microsoft said in a statement: “We have confidence in the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The White House declined comment.

Amazon Alexa, Google Home and more: What to know about smart speakers
Amazon Alexa, Google Home and more: What to know about smart speakers

Earlier this week, Amazon’s cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services, said it was seeking to depose Trump and Esper in its lawsuit over whether the president was trying “to screw Amazon” over the contract.

Amazon also seeks to question other officials involved in the decision and alleged that Trump had a history of inappropriately intervening in governmental decisions. Amazon called the process “fatally flawed and highly unusual.”

READ MORE: Microsoft beats Amazon for $10B cloud contract with Pentagon

The procurement process has been delayed by legal complaints and conflict-of-interest allegations.

The judge told Amazon and the Pentagon to confer by Feb. 27 on what portions of the opinion can be released publicly.

© 2020 Reuters

Source: Global News

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Climate change could kill off one in three plant and animal species within 50 years

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The common giant tree frog from Madagascar is one of many species that's under threat from climate change (Image: John J. Wiens)
The common giant tree frog from Madagascar is one of many species under threat from climate change (Image: John J. Wiens)

Climate change could wipe out one-third of all the plant and animal species on Earth within half a century, scientists have warned.

In a new study, University of Arizona researchers analysed data on recent extinctions and compared it against weather predictions for the next 50 years.

Cristian Román-Palacios and John J. Wiens from the university’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology surveyed data from 538 species and 581 sites around the world.

They found that 44% of the 538 species had already gone extinct at one or more sites – which is known as local extinction.

‘By analyzing the change in 19 climatic variables at each site, we could determine which variables drive local extinctions and how much change a population can tolerate without going extinct,’ Román-Palacios said.

‘We also estimated how quickly populations can move to try and escape rising temperatures. When we put all of these pieces of information together for each species, we can come up with detailed estimates of global extinction rates for hundreds of plant and animal species.’

A dead alligator juniper from Arizona, which is unable to cope with heat increases (Image: Ramona Walls)
A dead alligator juniper from Arizona, which is unable to cope with heat increases (Image: Ramona Walls)

The study identified maximum annual temperatures – the hottest daily highs in summer – as the key piece of information that ‘best explains whether a population will go extinct’.

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Researchers found that many species were able to tolerate some increases in maximum temperatures, but only up to a point.

They found that about half of the species experienced local extinctions if maximum temperatures increased by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius – but a 95% extinction rate if temperatures increase by more than 2.9 degrees Celsius.

The academics said that ‘projections of species loss depend on how much climate will warm in the future’.

‘In a way, it’s a “choose your own adventure,”‘ Wiens said.

‘If we stick to the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, we may lose fewer than two out of every 10 plant and animal species on Earth by 2070.

‘But if humans cause larger temperature increases, we could lose more than a third or even half of all animal and plant species, based on our results.”

The paper’s projections of species loss are similar for plants and animals, but extinctions are projected to be two to four times more common in the tropics than in temperate regions.

‘This is a big problem, because the majority of plant and animal species occur in the tropics,’ Román-Palacios added.

VINCENNES BAY, ANTARTICA - JANUARY 11: Giant tabular icebergs are surrounded by ice floe drift in Vincennes Bay on January 11, 2008 in the Australian Antarctic Territory. Australia's CSIRO's atmospheric research unit has found the world is warming faster than predicted by the United Nations' top climate change body, with harmful emissions exceeding worst-case estimates. (Photo by Torsten Blackwood - Pool/Getty Images)
Humanity could be teetering on the edge of catastrophe (Image: Getty)

Humanity is about to reach the climate change ‘point of no return’ and our attempts to save the planet have been ‘utterly inadequate’, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned last year.

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Speaking before the start of a two-week international climate conference in Madrid, the UN chief said rising temperatures are already causing chaos around the world.

He suggested the world has the scientific knowledge and the technical ability to tackle global warming, but ‘what is lacking is political will.’

‘The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,’ Guterres told reporters in the Spanish capital.

‘It is in sight and hurtling toward us.’

Guterres said there was mounting scientific evidence showing the impact man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are already having on the planet, including record temperatures and melting polar ice.

But he insisted that his message was ‘one of hope, not of despair’.

He added: ‘Our war against nature must stop and we know that that is possible.’

‘What is still lacking is political will,’ he added.

‘Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. Political will to stop building coal power plants from 2020 onwards. Political will to shift taxation from income to carbon. Taxing pollution instead of people.’

Global warming 'threatens the existence of human civilisations' and we need to cut emissions immediately, researchers warned (Picture: Getty)
Global warming ‘threatens the existence of human civilisations’ and we need to cut emissions immediately, researchers warned (Picture: Getty)

The warning came after scientists said nine climate change ‘tipping points’ have now been crossed and the ‘cascade of changes’ could spell doom for humanity.

They called for the establishment of a ‘state of planetary emergency’ and urged governments to take urgent action to stop the production of greenhouse gases and said global warming risked creating a ‘hothouse Earth’ that ‘could threaten the existence of human civilisations’.

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‘A decade ago we identified a suite of potential tipping points in the Earth system, now we see evidence that over half of them have been activated,’ said Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter and lead author of a new paper in the respected journal Nature.

‘The growing threat of rapid, irreversible changes means it is no longer responsible to wait and see. The situation is urgent and we need an emergency response.

‘We might already have crossed the threshold for a cascade of inter-related tipping points.

‘However, the rate at which they progress, and therefore the risk they pose, can be reduced by cutting our emissions.’

Countdown to doomsday: If these nine natural

  1. Melting of Arctic sea ice.
  2. Loss of Greenland ice sheet.
  3. The disappearance of boreal forests.
  4. Thawing of Permafrost.
  5. Loss of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (currents which carry warm water from the tropics into the North Atlantic)
  6. Death of the Amazon rainforest.
  7. The demise of warm-water corals.
  8. Melting of West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
  9. Loss of parts of East Antarctica.

The collapse of major ice sheets on Greenland, West Antarctica and part of East Antarctica would cause roughly 10 metres of irreversible sea-level rise.

If rainforests, permafrost and boreal forests die off, huge amounts of greenhouse gases will be released into the air and amplify global warming.

We could stave off this disaster by reducing emissions, but this would only ‘allow more time for low-lying populations to move’ to another part of the world.

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And once we’ve reached several tipping points, a cataclysmic ‘cascade’ could begin which accelerates climate change to terrifying proportions.

‘If damaging tipping cascades can occur and a global tipping cannot be ruled out, then this is an existential threat to civilization,’ the scientists wrote.

‘No amount of economic cost-benefit analysis is going to help us. We need to change our approach to the climate problem.’

Co-author Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: ‘It is not only human pressures on Earth that continue rising to unprecedented levels.

‘It is also that as science advances, we must admit that we have underestimated the risks of unleashing irreversible changes, where the planet self-amplifies global warming.

‘This is what we now start seeing, already at 1°C global warming.

‘Scientifically, this provides strong evidence for declaring a state of planetary emergency, to unleash world action that accelerates the path towards a world that can continue evolving on a stable planet.’

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Source: Metro News

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MWC 2020 cancelled as Barcelona bows to coronavirus concerns

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MWC won't be taking place this year after all (GSMA)
MWC won’t be taking place this year after all (GSMA)

The biggest tech event in Europe has been cancelled this year due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) usually takes place every February in Barcelona and brings together over 100,000 attendees to showcase all aspects of mobile technology.

However, the spread of coronavirus has caused many companies – including the likes of Sony and Amazon – to pull out of the show. Now the organisation in charge of the show has decided to cancel it altogether.

‘With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,’ explained John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Limited.

The announcement followed a crisis meeting of the GSMA board, after its hand was forced by the pullout of anchor European members including Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, BT and Nokia.

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Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau said earlier she wanted to send a ‘message of calm’, insisting the city was ready to host the event, while Spanish health officials reiterated that there was no reason to call off MWC.

SamsungSHANGHAI, CHINA - JUNE 26: People visit the Nokia booth on day one of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2019 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center on June 26, 2019 in Shanghai, China. The Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2019 themed on 'Intelligent Connectivity' will last for three days. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
MWC is Europe’s biggest tech trade event (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

MORE: Real-time map shows spread of coronavirus as it happens

The World Health Organisation, a UN agency leading the coronavirus crisis response, had also called in vain for calm.

‘There is no evidence at present to suggest that there is community spread outside China, so WHO is not currently requesting that large gatherings are cancelled,’ WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters in Geneva.

That failed, however, to alleviate concerns among major exhibitors that the precautions would be insufficient to halt the virus that has spread beyond China’s borders to two dozen countries.

‘To bring people together and connect them: That is what Telekom stands for. This is also what the Mobile World Congress, the ‘class reunion’ of our industry, stands for,’ Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges posted on LinkedIn.

Attendees walk to enter at the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. The annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) runs from 25-28 February in Barcelona, where companies from all over the world gather to share new products. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Attendees walk to enter Mobile World Congress in 2019 (AP)

He added, however, that large gatherings of people with many international guests posed a particular risk: ‘To take this risk would be irresponsible.’

The Chinese contingent at MWC has numbered 5,000-6,000 in recent years, making the event particularly vulnerable given the outbreak of the virus that has killed more than 1,100 people on the Chinese mainland.

In its statement, the GSMA said the host cities and partners respected and understood its decision, adding that they would ‘continue to be working in unison’ towards staging next year’s event.

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Source: Metro News

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