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  • 'Dune: Part Two' is happening
  • It didn't take long to greenlight a follow-up to Denis Villeneuve's Dune. Legendary Pictures has confirmed plans to release Dune: Part Two, saying it was "excited to the continue the journey." The studio didn't tease a release window or other details, but it's safe to presume Part Two will cover the back half of Frank Herbert's classic novel.

    The move isn't shocking. Villeneuve clearly wanted to finish telling Paul Atreides' story, but the movie also fared better than expected. Deadlinenoted that Dune racked up $41 million at the domestic box office during its opening weekend. That's not as strong as movies like Shang-Chi ($71.4 million) and a far cry from pre-pandemic openings, but it's the best opening for a Warner Bros. movie with simultaneous theatrical and HBO Max releases this year.

    It's not yet clear how much the HBO Max launch helped (or hindered) Dune's theatrical premiere. However, Villeneuve won't have to worry about a simultaneous streaming release for Part Two. Warner Bros. is returning to theater-first openings starting in 2022. Like it or not, you'll have to brave the crowds and buy tickets if you insist on watching the follow-up as soon as possible.

    This is only the beginning...

    Thank you to those who have experienced @dunemovie so far, and those who are going in the days and weeks ahead. We're excited to continue the journey! pic.twitter.com/mZj68Hnm0A

    — Legendary (@Legendary) October 26, 2021

  • FCC revokes China Telecom's ability to offer services in the US
  • The Federal Communications Commission has revoked the ability of China Telecom Americas to operate in the US. Citing national security concerns, the agency voted unanimously in favor of a proposal it had been considering since the end of 2020. With today’s order, the company, a subsidiary of China’s largest state-owned carrier, has 60 days to discontinue telecom services in the US.

    Following a proceeding that involved input from the Justice Department, the FCC found that China Telecom is likely to comply with requests from the Chinese government, affording the country the opportunity to access, store, disrupt and misroute US communications. “Promoting national security is an integral part of the Commission’s responsibility to advance the public interest, and today’s action carries out that mission to safeguard the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure from potential security threats,” the FCC said.

    Over the last year, the FCC has taken similar actions against other Chinese telecoms and equipment manufacturers. Most notably, it labeled both Huawei and ZTE as national security threats and ordered US carriers to replace any networking equipment from the two companies.

  • Valve reveals dates for Steam's Halloween, autumn and winter sales
  • Even though Valve usually keeps the dates of Steam sales close to the chest until almost the time they go live, the details usually end up leaking anyway. This time, though, Valve is getting ahead of the curve. It confirmed when the next three sales will take place.

    As spotted by Eurogamer, the Steamworks Documentation page notes that the Steam Halloween sale is this weekend and it runs between October 28th and November 1st. The autumn sale will take place from November 24th-30th. As for the Steam winter sale, one of the platform's two biggest sales of the year alongside the summer edition, you'll be able to score discounts on a ton of games between December 22nd and January 5th.

    It's not a bad idea to reveal the dates well in advance. Steam connoisseurs know the sales are coming anyway and the dates are less important than announcing which games will be included beforehand. If a player knows that a game they want to buy will likely get a hefty discount in a couple of months, they'll be less inclined to buy it now. In any case, Steam users now know when they'll be able to stockpile games for their Steam Deck.

  • Qualcomm's Snapdragon 695 brings faster 5G to low-cost phones
  • Now that 5G phones are more affordable, Qualcomm wants to make those low-cost devices more desirable. The company has introduced three new systems-on-chip that all promise improved performance for budget 5G hardware. The star is easily the Snapdragon 695. This 6nm-based sequel to the 690 adds much faster millimeter wave 5G (important for carriers like AT&T and Verizon) while delivering up to 30 percent faster graphics and 15 percent speedier CPU tasks. Your next mid-range phone might be that much better-suited to gaming and giant downloads.

    The Snapdragon 480 Plus and 778G Plus, meanwhile, are iterations of the 480 and 778G that deliver minor gains to CPU and GPU performance through increased clock speeds. Think of them as tune-ups for entry-level and upper-mid-range phones, respectively — you won't have to make do with a chip several months old.

    There's also a lone LTE chip, the Snapdragon 680, that shares the 695's 6nm process without the added costs of 5G. It's aimed at markets where 5G service is either limited or too expensive.

    All four parts are due to reach shipping products before the end of 2021. Honor, Motorola, Nokia (that is, HMD Global), Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi all expect to use one or more of the new Snapdragons in their phones.

    There's a pragmatism at work. The 6nm parts (including the 778G Plus) help Qualcomm continue to serve a large chunk of the smartphone market despite limited supplies of 5nm parts like the 780G. It doesn't have to rely on truly old process lStill, it's notable that the chip maker is launching so many speed-bumped chips in the first place — the company is clearly determined to fend off heavyweights like MediaTek that thrive on budget and mid-range hardware.

  • Yubico's latest security offers USB-C and NFC authentication for $29
  • After introducing the $80 YubiKey Bio and $85 YubiKey C Bio at the start of the month, Yubico’s latest physical security is for those who want a no-frills option. At $29 or €29, the Security Key C NFC comes with almost everything you could want from a security key at a decent price. As the name suggests, it’s a USB-C key with NFC support built-in. Out of the box, it works with FIDO-compatible websites and services. That includes major platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook. Yubico also claims it’s the most durable security key on the market. What you won't find here is support for legacy authentication platforms, but for most consumers that shouldn't matter too much. 

    If you're not familiar with physical security keys, they're one of the most effective ways to protect your privacy and security when used to add two-factor authentication to your online accounts. In 2018, Google reduced successful phishing attacks on its 85,000 employees to zero thanks to a policy that mandated their use. The Security Key C NFC is available to buy today from Yubico’s website. The company also offers a USB-A version that costs $25.

  • Arturia's MicroFreak gets a custom wavetable synth mode
  • One of my favorite budget synths just keeps gettingbetter. After adding three new amazing oscillators earlier this year, Arturia is bringing custom wavetables to the MicroFreak as a free firmware update. 

    The MicroFreak already had a wavetable engine built in, so this isn't a huge stretch. But being able to import your own wavetables opens up a the ability to really build your own unique sounds. There are countless sources fo free wavetables out there ranging from classic analog tones, to icy atmospheres, to blasts of noise. But you can basically use any sound file you want. Hum into your phone, or capture audio of the stray cats in your neighborhood fighting, then upload it to the MicroFreak and turn it into a synthesizer. 

    Adding custom wavetables is easy enough using Arturia's MIDI Control Center desktop app. There's a dedicated tab for them at the top of the interface once you connect your Microfreak. You can only have 16 custom tables at a time, and the format can be a little tricky to nail if you're concerned about perfectly smooth sounding waves — 32 cycles consisting of 256 samples per cycle. But, if you just embrace its quirks, the WaveUser engine is capable of strange, wild and abrasive sounds that speak to the MicroFreak's strengths. 

    To show off the new WaveUser engine, of course there are 64 new presets. But, let's be honest, factory presets with Arturia provided wavetables kinda defeats the whole purpose here.

    The new 4.0 firmware has a few other minor improvements as well. Including a faster scrolling speed option for the oscillator controls and the ability to use Unison and Chord modes can now be applied to every note, wether they're being played live, coming from sequencer or an external source.

    MicroFreak 4.0 is available as a free update now on Arturia's website and through MIDI Control Centre. 

  • 'A Quiet Place' is being adapted into a video game
  • No one in their right mind would actually want to live in the world of A Quiet Place, where denizens walk around barefoot and move as silently as possible to avoid incurring the wrath of highly noise-sensitive aliens. But, if you'd like to find out how well you might cope in that universe, you can test your nerves in the franchise's first video game, which is scheduled to arrive next year.

    Publisher Saber Interactive has announced that a single-player, story-driven horror adventure is in development by iLLOGIKA and EP1T0ME. The iLLOGIKA team includes developers who have worked on the Rainbow Six and Far Cry franchises, and the studio helped with the development of games including Hyper Scape and Cuphead.

    There aren't many other details about A Quiet Place just yet, such as the platforms on which it will be available. However, it will have an original story and "gameplay that captures the compelling suspense, emotion and drama for which the series is famous," according to a press release. Saber plans to reveal more information about the game by the end of the year.

  • White House picks Jessica Rosenworcel as first female FCC chair
  • The FCC might soon have its first permanent woman leader. President Biden has nominated current acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to a permanent position, making her the first female to lead the commission if confirmed. The nomination isn't be a surprising move given her existing title, broad support and alignment with White House policies on issues like net neutrality, but it still represents a milestone for the agency.

    Biden has also nominated Gigi Sohn for an unoccupied commissioner position. She was counselor to former FCC chair Tom Wheeler and has been an outspoken advocate of "open, affordable and democratic" communications, according to the White House.

    Whether or not Rosenworcel clears the necessary hurdles is another matter. The Senate must confirm Rosenworcel to make her appointment official, and she could face staunch opposition from Republicans who are both historically anti-regulation and eager to reclaim FCC control. The party could retake the majority in the commission if Rosenworcel and the empty commissioner position aren't confirmed by the end of 2021.

    If Rosenworcel does pass the Senate, though, she would contrast sharply with the last permanent FCC chair, Ajit Pai. While much of Rosenworcel's work as acting chairwoman has focused on easy-to-pass rules on issues like robocalls, she has been a strong proponent of net neutrality and other efforts to keep big telecoms in check. That's largely the opposite of Pai, who dismantled neutrality and generally sided with incumbent telcos. Don't be surprised if Rosenworcel used a permanent appointment to undo more of Pai's work, at least so long as she has the votes.

  • 'Returnal' players can finally save their game (sort of)
  • One of the main complaints players had about Returnal, aside from the high level of difficulty, is that, until now, there was no real way to save your game in the middle of a run. Sure, you could leave your PS5 on or put it in rest mode, but if there was a power outage or an overnight automatic system software update, you'd lose all of your progress. Given that runs can last several hours, not having any kind of save state option wasn't great.

    Housemarque, now a PlayStation-owned studio, has finally attempted to remedy that problem in Returnal's 2.0 patch. With the Suspend Cycle option, you can pause your run, create a suspend point and close the game without worrying too much about losing progress. 

    There are some caveats, though. You'll only be able to resume your run from any suspend point one time. So, don't expect to return to that point if (or more likely when) Selene dies. It's a smart way to introduce a save system and let players take a break without disrupting the game's start-over-when-you-die roguelite structure.

    You won't be able to create a suspend point in certain scenarios either. If you're in the midst of a boss battle, intense combat sequence, cinematic or first-person section, you'll need to see it through, one way or another. "We felt there are certain moments in Returnal that are best experienced unfragmented to preserve the intended challenge and flow," game director Harry Krueger wrote in a PlayStation blog post.

    As deadly as the biomes of Atropos are, they're often gorgeous too. To help you capture the sights, another feature that Returnal players have been clamoring for is now in the game — Photo Mode. Other than in certain situations (such as first-person sections), you can pause the PS5 exclusive and enter Photo Mode.

    You have a selection of tools at your disposal, including settings like focal distance, aperture, color gradient, saturation and contrast, as well as a way to change the scene's lighting. There are also filters, effects, frames, coloring options and other ways to jazz up your image before you capture it.

    Meanwhile, Sony is set to host its next State of Play stream on Wednesday. The showcase will run for around 20 minutes and primarily focus on third-party games, but don't be surprised if Sony sneaks a first-party game or two in there.

  • Volvo’s 2022 C40 Recharge adds fastback style to the XC40
  • The 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge is the automaker’s first EV-only vehicle. Of course, it shares most of its design and all of its powertrain with the XC40 Recharge. But it sets itself apart with a fastback design that makes it both a more distinct vehicle and more efficient than the XC40 Recharge.

    Starting at $58,750, the C40 Recharge has a range of 225 miles and includes the new Range Assistant feature. The question, is whether it’s worth the extra $3,500 over the price of the XC40 Recharge? We had a chance to drive the new C40 in Belgium to find out.

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