Walmart rumored to be building its own game streaming service

Rumor mill: Following Google’s unveiling of Stadia at GDC earlier this week, interest in cloud-based game streaming has never been higher. Several big companies are already involved in the industry, with more set to join—one of which is rumored to be Walmart.

The surprising news comes from US Gamer, whose anonymous sources say Walmart is “exploring” entering what is quickly becoming a packed and competitive market. The retailer is said to have been speaking to developers and publishers about the project throughout 2019 and during the same Game Developers Conference where Google showed off Stadia.

In addition to facing established game streaming services such as Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Walmart would be going up against Microsoft’s upcoming xCloud, Google’s Stadia, and Amazon’s platform. The tech giants use their many datacenters and custom hardware to power their streaming products, meaning Walmart would need to use plenty of its vast resources if it wants to become a serious player in this market.

But it’s not as if Walmart is starting from scratch. US Gamer notes that the company has a datacenter unofficially called Area 71 in Caverna, Missouri, which holds over 460 trillion bytes of data, while its Walmart Labs technology arm in silicon valley has 6000 employs and develops tech for its digital presence.

Back in July last year, Walmart was looking to take on Netflix and Amazon by launching its own video streaming service, but the company reportedly abandoned those plans in February because they were “too risky.”

Walmart is still in the exploratory stage of this project, so any final product isn’t likely to arrive until next year at the earliest—assuming the plans don’t get canceled.

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What’s in your bag, Anne-Marie?

What’s in your bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring English singer and songwriter Anne-Marie.

Anne-Marie has an impressive musical resume, with heaps of nominations and wins at awards shows around the world (including a recent nom as Best British Female Solo Artist at the 2019 Brit Awards), a long list of charting songs that float between the worlds of tropical pop and dance, like “2002,” and is just off a jaunt where she shared the stage with Ed Sheeran on his Divide Tour. Now, without a pause, she’s on her own headlining Speak Your Mind Tour. It’s quite a lot, but everything Anne-Marie does in life, she does with obsessive acceleration. Consider, for example, that before she was a singer touring around the globe, she was a karate world champion.

As Anne-Marie empties out her backpack for The Verge, it quickly becomes evident this tendency funnels its way down to her everyday items. From a book that convinced her that humans do, in fact, need to sleep, to scores of scrunchies, there’s no middle ground for Anne-Marie.

So tell me about your bag.

So, this is a backpack. I can’t just carry around a handbag because they’re too small for all the things I need. So I’m a backpack lover. I have so many backpacks because when I leave the hotel I don’t go back until the end of the day, so I need everything right with me that I could possibly need. This one is by Axel. My stylist got it for me. We work really closely together. I wouldn’t say I’ve always had an eye for style, or that I’m a fashionista, but I know what I feel comfortable with. It’s always been really hard working with a stylist, so it’s more like, I tell her what to get and she gets a better version of what I’ve told her to find.

This is really strange. But I have a razor with me. [Laughs] I shave my arms and legs at really weird times because I’ll forget and then I’m like, “Oh, I need to do something with my legs.” And face wipes, I need those to shave my legs with! So, that happens.

Yeah. That’s real life, folks.

Yes. Obviously dry shampoo and deodorant, which I think every girl needs. And then this is all my makeup and oh, here’s something I live by. You need some moisture in your face or things that are good for your skin overall. I love this stuff called Skin Food, which is why I’ve used it all up. I use it every morning and every night on my face. I can’t live without it. And then I have under-eye patches.

Do they work?

Yeah. Well, I don’t know. Maybe in my brain.

What kind of phone do you have?

I have an iPhone X. But I just cracked it the other day, so I’ve got to figure that out. Every time I go to a shop they’re like, “Truly, get the insurance just in case,” and I’m like, “No, I’ll never smash it,” and then this happens. My charger. I don’t know how many of those I’ve had over tour, but it’s the running joke that I have a new one every week. I bring a hat because I just love hats. Everywhere I go, to and from places, I always wear a hat and then take it off. This is one of my favorite hats because it’s got loads of different flags on it. I think I’ve had the most compliments on this hat from people.

What brand is it?

It’s just Topshop! Basically my whole clothing thing is menswear. I also have a jumper because my body temperature is like, three degrees lower than everyone else’s in the world. So I’m always cold. It’s from Urban Outfitters Men’s. A hairbrush, because my hair is a bitch. I have a book.

A real life book.

An actual book! It’s called Why We Sleep, because I don’t sleep and I keep trying to have an argument with everyone about how I think it’s just pointless and boring to me. I’ve started to read this book and now I realize it’s definitely not pointless and I definitely need it. [Laughs] So yeah.

And I have headphones. They’re one of my favorite things in the whole world.

These are Bose noise-canceling?


You have so many sunglasses.

I’m addicted to sunglasses. I have two pairs in here. Two for the price of one! And I have a third pair in the other room. This is a rare occasion for me to only have three with me today. I normally have, like, 10 in my bag just in case I decide to change up my outfit. I feel like sunglasses can change the whole look. And I love that. And then this is just extra jewelry. This is really cute because when I did a photo shoot once there’s a lady altering stuff because I always feel like I have to get bigger trousers to fit my hips. But then the waist is always too big so I have a lady there tightening the waist. And there was this particular top that had all this material left over. So she made a little bag from it!

That’s so cute!

It has loads of jewelry in it. I’m addicted to that as well. I like everything shiny.

Have you had time to go jewelry shopping on your tour?

No. When I was last here I found a little jewelry store at the corner of a road. It was a proper tiny one where you could find loads of beautiful things in. I was trying to search yesterday for that little shop and I couldn’t find it anywhere. But I found sunglasses on the way so it’s fine.

I’m addicted to scrunchies as well.

This is a proper ‘90s throwback.

Yeah. I’m an obsessive person. If I like something I have to get loads of it.

What model is your iPad?

It’s an old one. I’m not sure, I’d have to find out.

When you’re on the road how do you write songs?

I’m all in my phone really. On the recording app thing. So there’s just loads of little bits of recordings that have me going like, [sings] “When I see you.” [Laughs]

I mean if I have a pen and paper I write it down, but it’s mostly on my phone because you can get inspired at any moment. I actually find it easier to write when I’m not in the studio because it’s more freeing and there’s less pressure. So I take whatever’s on my phone into the studio and if it’s good enough, we’ll write to it.

Do you record mostly in a traditional studio or do you have a portable set up?

Always in a studio. I don’t have that kind of stuff with me so I always have to wait until I’m in a session with a producer where I can actually have a microphone.

So how long is this current tour going?

The Ed Sheeran tour has been going since the end of April and I finish at the end of September. The US tour has been going for nearly six weeks now and I’ve been doing my own one in between. I did a really bad thing where I packed all of my show outfits and forgot that I would have days where I’d need normal clothes.

So the whole time I’ve been going to Urban Outfitters every day and buying new T-shirts. It’s a long, long tour, but it’s been amazing, especially with doing my own one in between. It’s such a different experience from being in the stadium as a support act to doing your own headline in a really intimate venue. It’s crazy.

I so prefer the smaller venues.

The sound is better.

Oh, that’s interesting.

I mean from my point of view in a stadium, the sound kind of bounces back into my microphone. So then I’m hearing like, three instances of my voice with each song.

I’d love to know who could tell that this is my bag from just the pictures. I wonder who could guess that.

I bet your friends could for sure. Like, yep, I know those scrunchies.

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Many of the short stories that inspired Love, Death + Robots are free online

Last week, Netflix dropped the 18-episode series Love, Death + Robots, an anthology of short animated films produced by Seven director David Fincher and Deadpool director Tim Miller. The shorts range widely in tone and subject matter, with everything from mercenaries fighting Dracula to a thought experiment about silly ways Adolf Hitler could have died in alternate timelines. For source material, Fincher and Miller turned to existing short fiction from well-known science fiction authors, including Marko Kloos, Alastair Reynolds, and John Scalzi.

With the rise of streaming services and the success of shows like Game of Thrones, Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix have been rapidly snapping up big science fiction and fantasy novels for adaptation. Adaptations for works like Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, and Scalzi’s Old Man’s War are all in the pipeline.

But while a long novel might translate well into a multi-season show, the science fiction and fantasy genres are also packed with excellent short fiction that’s more conducive to shorter adaptations. Amid the rising popularity of anthology shows like Black Mirror, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and Amazon Studios’ Lore, it stands to reason that plenty of filmmakers would be looking for shorter stories to adapt. In the case of Love, Death + Robots, some of those stories were first published online and can still be read without any form of subscription or signup. Others are only available in published collections.

Peter F. Hamilton’s “Sonnie’s Edge” first appeared in the short-lived magazine New Moon in 1991. The story is part of a larger world Hamilton calls the “Confederation Universe.” Most of the connected stories from that cycle appear in his book A Second Chance at Eden. The story can be read online here, as part of a preview for that collection.

Love, Death + Robots adapts two stories from British author Alastair Reynolds — “Beyond the Aquila Rift” and “Zima Blue.” In the first, a starship crew stranded deep in space think they’re saved, until they realize they’re trapped in a simulation. In the second, an artist pushes himself past his limits to discover his true self. “Beyond the Aquila Rift” was originally published in an anthology called Constellations: The Best of New British SF, while “Zima Blue” was first published in 2005 in a magazine called Postscripts.

Both can be found in a variety of anthologies, including Zima Blue and Other Stories and Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds. In a blog post, Reynolds says, “although they’re both approaching a decade and a half old, and I’ve written a great deal since, I’d have to admit that they are still among my favorite personal stories.”

John Scalzi has three short stories adapted in the series, two of which are available online. “When The Yogurt Took Over: A Short Story” follows a genetically engineered strain of bacteria that gains sentience and claims Earth. “Missives From Possible Futures #1: Alternate History Search Results” imagines the outsized results if Adolf Hitler had died in a variety of ways in alternate timelines. Both stories also appear in the collection Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi.

The third story, “Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind from the Era of Humans for the First Time” isn’t online, but appears in a recent anthology, Robots vs. Fairies. On his blog, Scalzi notes that he got involved in the project in 2017, with “When The Yogurt Took Over” and “Alternate Histories” first picked up for adaptation, and with “Three Robots” coming later when Scalzi shared it with Miller.

Love, Death + Robots also adapts two stories from horror author Joe Landsale. In “Fish Night,” a pair of traveling salesmen encounter a surreal ocean in the desert; in “The Dump,” a man protects his junkyard home from a city official. “Fish Night” has appeared in a variety of magazines, and ended up online at The Horror Zine. “The Dump” originally appeared in 1981 in Rod Sterling’s Twilight Zone Magazine, and later in anthologies like Bumper Crop and A Little Green Book of Monster Stories. Those appear to be out of print, but used copies are available online.

Ken Liu’s steampunk story “Good Hunting” was originally published in two parts in Strange Horizons back in 2012, and later ended up in his acclaimed collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, in 2016. When it was first published, Liu noted that he wanted to explore the boundaries of genre, and this story “begins as a fantasy fairy tale and ends as a gritty piece of steampunk.” On his blog, he says he found the adaptation fantastic.

Marko Kloos, who wrote the excellent military science fiction series Frontlines, set his story Lucky 13 in that same world and self-published it as an ebook on Amazon in 2013. The Netflix series also adapts another story of his: the short “Shape-Shifters” focuses on werewolf combatants in Afghanistan. He just published the source story as an ebook, under the title “On the Use of Shape-shifters in Warfare.”

Most of the short stories in Love, Death + Robots were written by men, but there are a few exceptions. Claudine Griggs’ short story “Helping Hand” first came out in Lightspeed Magazine’s “Queers Destroy Science Fiction” special issue in 2015. It follows the story of an astronaut whose EVA goes terribly wrong.

Other Love, Death + Robots stories can be found in Cohesion Press’ SNAFU anthologies: “The Secret War,” based off David Amendola’s short story, is in SNAFU: Hunters. Steven Lewis’ “Suits” is in SNAFU: Future Warfare (you can read most of the story in Amazon’s preview of the book), and “Sucker of Souls,” by Kirsten Cross, is included in SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest.

Finally, a few of the stories haven’t made their way online. Those include Michael Swanwick’s story “Ice Age,” available in his collection Tales of Old Earth. And two of the shorts — “The Witness,” scripted by Alberto Mieglo, and “Blindspot,” written by Vitaliy Shushko — weren’t based on existing stories.

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Everything you need to know about the Boeing 737 Max airplane crashes

The crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 have rocked the aviation industry, sparked numerous investigations, and resulted in the grounding of hundreds of Boeing 737 Max jets worldwide.

As this important story continues to unfold, The Verge will update this page with all the latest news and analysis. Our hope is to answer all your questions about these tragic events, as well as provide a real-time feed of news about the ensuing investigations.

Table of contents:

What happened?

Lion Air Flight 610 took off from Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday, October 29th, 2018, at 6:20AM local time. Its destination was Pangkal Pinang, the largest city of Indonesia’s Bangka Belitung Islands. Twelve minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 passengers and crew.

Nearly five months later, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 took off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday, March 10th, 2019, at 8:38AM local time. Its destination was Nairobi, Kenya. Six minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed near the town of Bishoftu, Ethiopia, killing all 157 people aboard.

Both crashed jets were Boeing 737 Max 8s, a variant of the best-selling aircraft in history. When Airbus announced in 2010 it would make a new fuel-efficient and cost-effective plane, Boeing rushed to get out its own version. That version was the 737 Max airplanes. The Air Current has a great (if slightly insider-y) retelling of the Max jets’ origins.

Investigators And Mourners Visit Ethiopia Crash Site

What was the response?

The Indonesian rescue team located the flight data recorder on November 1st. The cockpit voice recorder was found over two months later, on January 14th, 2019. One member of the volunteer rescue team died during recovery operations. Both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder of Ethiopian Airlines 302 were recovered from the crash site on March 11th.

Both crashes are currently under investigation. These are the only two accidents involving the new Boeing 737 Max series of aircraft, which was first introduced in 2017. Since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines 302, more than 300 Boeing 737 Max passenger jets have been grounded worldwide.

But the US was slower to act than other countries. As China and the European Union announced their decision to ground the plane, the FAA declined to act. President Trump initially responded by tweeting on March 12th that airplanes had become too complex. “Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT,” Trump said in a series of tweets that didn’t specifically reference Boeing or the crashes. “Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain.”

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg reportedly spoke to Trump that same day, urging him not to ground the Max 8. But on Wednesday, March 13th, Trump eventually bowed to pressure, directing the FAA to ground the plane. But the president also praised Boeing in the same breath, calling it “a great, great company with a track record that is so phenomenal.”

Boeing maintains that the new, more fuel efficient Max jets are safe, but supports the FAA’s decision to ground the planes. The Chicago-based company has stopped delivery of all new Max jets to its customers. Stock losses have wiped around $28 billion from its market value since the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Aircraft cockpit (Shutter Stock)

What caused these crashes?

Both crashes are currently under investigation, and there is no final word on what caused either tragedy. But investigators are focused on a specific tech feature that may have forced both planes into a nosedive seconds before the crashes.

A preliminary report from Indonesian investigators indicates that Lion Air 610 crashed because a faulty sensor erroneously reported that the airplane was stalling. The false report triggered an automated system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. This system tried to point the aircraft’s nose down so that it could gain enough speed to fly safely.

MCAS takes readings from two sensors that determine how much the plane’s nose is pointing up or down relative to oncoming airflow. When MCAS detects that the plane is pointing up at a dangerous angle, it can automatically push down the nose of the plane in an effort to prevent the plane from stalling.

Investigators have found strong similarities in the angle of attack data from both flights. A piece of a stabilizer in the wreckage of the Ethiopian jet with the trim set in an unusual position was similar to that of the Lion Air plane, Reuters reports.

U.S. Grounds All Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft After Viewing New Satellite Data

What is MCAS?

Boeing says the decision to include this change to the flight control operations wasn’t arbitrary. When the company designed the Max jets, it made the engines larger to increase fuel efficiency, and positioned them slightly forward and higher up on the plane’s wings.

These tweaks changed how the jet handled in certain situations. The relocated engines caused the jet’s nose to pitch skyward. To compensate, Boeing added a computerized system called MCAS to prevent the plane’s nose from getting too high and causing a stall. MCAS is unique to the Max jets, and isn’t present in other Boeing 737s. The Air Current has a great illustration of how MCAS works here. And The New York Times has a video that explains how MCAS is supposed to work.

MCAS is activated without the pilot’s input, which has led to some frustration among pilots of the 737 Max jet. At least half a dozen pilots have reported being caught off guard by sudden descents in the aircraft, according to the Dallas News. One pilot said it was “unconscionable that a manufacturer, the FAA, and the airlines would have pilots flying an airplane without adequately training, or even providing available resources and sufficient documentation to understand the highly complex systems that differentiate this aircraft from prior models,” according to an incident report filed with a NASA database.

Both jets that crashed lacked safety features that could have provided crucial information to the crew because they were sold as options by Boeing, according to The New York Times. This was previously reported by Jon Ostrower on The Air Current, who said that a warning light that would have alerted the crew to a disagreement between the Max jet’s angle of attack sensors wasn’t part of Lion Air’s optional package of equipment. According to the Times:

For Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers, the practice of charging to upgrade a standard plane can be lucrative. Top airlines around the world must pay handsomely to have the jets they order fitted with customized add-ons.

Sometimes these optional features involve aesthetics or comfort, like premium seating, fancy lighting or extra bathrooms. But other features involve communication, navigation or safety systems, and are more fundamental to the plane’s operations.

Boeing will stop charging extra for one of the safety features, a source tells the Times: the disagree light that was missing from both crashed jets, which would have activated if the angle of attack sensors were at odds with each other. That feature will now come standard in all new 737 Max planes.

House Speaker Paul Ryan Holds Town Hall At Boeing In Everett, Washington

Were pilots given adequate training?

Short answer: no. When the Max jet was under development, regulators determined that pilots could fly the planes without extensive retraining because they were essentially the same as previous generations, according to The New York Times. This saved Boeing a lot of money on extra training, which aided the company in its competition with Airbus to introduce newer, more fuel-efficient airplanes. The FAA didn’t change those rules after Lion Air 610 crashed.

So rather than hours-long training sessions in giant, multimillion-dollar simulators, many pilots instead learned about the 737’s new features on an iPad. Pilots at United Airlines put together a 13-page guide to the 737 Max, which did not mention the MCAS.

According to Reuters, the doomed Lion Air cockpit voice recorder revealed how pilots scoured a manual in a losing battle to figure out why they were hurtling down to sea.

Since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines 302, that’s mostly changed. On Sunday, March 17th, Muilenburg issued a statement describing steps the company was taking to update its technology. “While investigators continue to work to establish definitive conclusions, Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously-announced software update and pilot training revision that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs,” Muilenburg said.

What about the FAA’s certification?

The approval process for Boeing’s Max jetliners was rushed and possibly compromised, according to a blockbuster report in The Seattle Times. Reporter Dominic Gates found that FAA managers pushed the agency’s engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing and to speedily approve the resulting analysis. Under pressure to approve its new Max jets so it could catch up to Airbus, Boeing turned in a safety assessment to the FAA that was riddled with errors, the Times reported.

“There was constant pressure to re-evaluate our initial decisions,” the former [FAA] engineer said. “And even after we had reassessed it … there was continued discussion by management about delegating even more items down to the Boeing Company.”

Even the work that was retained, such as reviewing technical documents provided by Boeing, was sometimes curtailed.

“There wasn’t a complete and proper review of the documents,” the former engineer added. “Review was rushed to reach certain certification dates.”

The Department of Transportation’s inspector general is probing the FAA’s approval of the Max jets. The DOT’s investigation is focused on the FAA’s Seattle office, which certifies the safety of new aircraft. A subpoena seeking documents from the office, including emails, correspondence, and other messages has been issued, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The FBI is joining the mix of agencies investigating the crashes and their aftermath. According to The Seattle Times, the agency will lend its considerable resources to DOT agents probing the FAA’s certification of the Max jets.

What happens next?

The crash investigations are still ongoing. We have yet to hear any information from Ethiopian Airlines 302’s black box beyond initial (and vague) reports about similarities to Lion Air 610. More details should emerge soon.

The US Senate will convene a hearing on the FAA’s certification of Boeing 737 Max jets on March 27th, Reuters reports. Boeing executives and officials from the FAA will be called to testify at the first congressional hearing on the twin crashes. They will likely be asked why the regulator agreed to certify the Max planes in 2017 without requiring extensive additional pilot training.

On March 19th, Trump named Stephen Dickson, a former Delta Air Lines executive, as his choice to become the permanent head of the FAA. Dickson will no doubt face stiff questioning during his confirmation process, as more details about the agency’s certification of the Max jets trickle out.

Boeing and the FAA are currently at odds over how much pilot training will be required in conjunction with a coming software fix for MCAS, according to The Wall Street Journal. The FAA says it is keeping a close eye on Boeing’s software update that is intended to correct problems with MCAS, CNBC reports.

Indonesian officials held a briefing early on Thursday, at which they confirmed reports that an off-duty pilot was in the cockpit of the doomed Lion Air plane the day before the crash. According to Bloomberg, the plane experienced a similar malfunction that caused it to nosedive, but the off-duty pilot correctly diagnosed the problem and helped the crew disable the flight-control system and save the plane. The next day, the plane was under a completely different crew when it experienced the same problem, causing it to crash into the Java Sea.

Meanwhile, experts are questioning the legality of documents that the families of Lion Air 610’s victims say they are being pressured into signing, according to The New York Times. In order to collect payments of 1.3 billion rupiah, or $91,600, families are being required to sign a pledge promising not to pursue legal action against Lion Air, its financial backers, and Boeing. The pledge appears to violate Indonesian law.

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Hillary Clinton replies to AOC's take down of Jared Kushner and we all need a minute

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Twitter game just got even better.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter game just got even better.
Image: Getty Images for SXSW

Brace yourself: AOC and Hillary Clinton have joined forces on Twitter to created a clapback so powerful that you may need to take a some deep breaths to compose yourself.

It went down on Thursday night, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a very straightforward “But his WhatsApp,” after it was alleged that Jared Kushner had been communicating with foreign officials using WhatsApp. 

Kushner’s behavior is obviously problematic on any number of levels, not least of which is that his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, ran his campaign against Hillary Clinton almost exclusively on the charge that she’d used a private email server while she was secretary of state. Lock her up, etc. 

So it was especially potent when Hillary herself replied to AOC’s tweet with a succinctly satisfying, “Tell me about it.”

That’s the stuff. 

Hillary is no dummy and no doubt knew this was exactly the kind of thing that AOC’s sizable social media fanbase would go wild over. And, of course, AOC had the reaction that pretty much all of us had, which was to freak out in a reply tweet to Hill.

We can only hope that this exchange is the beginning of a long-lasting friendship between to the two Democratic icons — and that they exclusively communicate using the encrypted messaging app Signal so that none of us ever have to hear about it again. 

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