China fines Alibaba $2.8 billion after antitrust investigation

Alibaba Nanjing Headquarters
Photo by Fang Dongxu/VCG via Getty Images

China has hit Alibaba, one of the country’s biggest online retailers, with a record $2.8 billion (18.2 billion yuan) fine, after an investigation found the ecommerce giant violated China’s anti-monopoly law, The New York Times reported. The fine, which represents 4 percent of Alibaba’s 2019 domestic sales, is three times higher than the $975 billion fine China imposed on US chip company Qualcomm back in 2015.

The Chinese government launched an investigation into Alibaba in December to determine whether the company was preventing merchants from selling their products on other platforms. China’s market regulator found that Alibaba’s practices had a negative effect on online retail competition and innovation. Alibaba used data and…

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Author: Kim Lyons

Sony’s London Studio Is Hiring For PS5 Game, But Is It VR?

Sony’s London Studio has often worked on accessory-based games for PlayStation systems, and its recent efforts have been on PlayStation VR. Now, it appears the studio is gearing up for a PS5 project that’s going to have online play, but it’s not clear if it will be a VR game.

A listing on the studio’s site says it needs an online gameplay designer who will work on a PS5 project. The listing specifically mentions online multiplayer, as well as working with narrative and mission leads, so there will apparently be some sort of story content that could work alongside the multiplayer. The specifics on what kind of game it is are otherwise pretty much nonexistent, however.

We do know that London Studio is working on making VR content work for PS5, at least as far as past games go. A patch released shortly after the PS5’s launch added improvements to Blood & Truth, which originally launched for PS4’s PSVR. It added higher frame rates and resolutions as well as better textures while still using the original headset and an adapter on the new console.

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Author: Gabe Gurwin

Age Of Empires 4 Will Let You Command A War Elephant

Age of Empires might not be one of Microsoft’s biggest series, but fans have been enjoying the history-filled real-time strategy and massive battles for a very long time. Age of Empires 4, developed by Relic Entertainment, will we the long-awaited next game, and a preview event has given us some new information on playable civilizations and improvements–including powerful war elephants.

The Delhi Sultanate will be a playable civilization in Age of Empires 4, and they have access to the massive War Elephant unit, similar to the second game, for causing massive chaos during attacks on fortresses. Sending a few of those through a group of enemy soldiers should be enough to disrupt their lines and let you push deeper into an area.

One of four campaigns available in the game, the Norman campaign begins at the Battle of Hastings in England and follows Duke William and descendants Robert, William II, and Henry I as they fight for control of the nation. This means it will take place over about 100 years, but shouldn’t be confused with the Hundred Years’ War that followed a few centuries later.

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Author: Gabe Gurwin

Lawsuit against Amazon alleging it failed to protect workers from COVID-19 moved back to NY state court

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JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge has granted the New York attorney general’s request to move a lawsuit against Amazon back to New York state court, Reuters reported. AG Letitia James’ lawsuit alleges that the ecommerce giant failed to protect workers at its Brooklyn and Staten Island warehouses from COVID-19 during the early months of the pandemic, and retaliated against employees who complained about the lack of safety measures.

Amazon had sought to have the case moved to federal court, arguing that workplace safety issues were not under James’ purview. The company pre-emptively sued James on February 12th, and James sued Amazon four days later. Amazon then moved the lawsuit to federal court.

“Amazon has forced its employees to work in unsafe…

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Author: Kim Lyons

First flight test for NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter pushed to Wednesday


NASA engineers have decided to delay the Ingenuity helicopter’s debut flight on Mars to at least Wednesday, April 14th, after running into a minor computer glitch during a rotor spin test late Friday night, the agency said on Saturday. The tiny craft is healthy, but engineers need some more time to review telemetry data from the unexpected hiccup before proceeding.

Ingenuity, a mini four-pound helicopter that arrived on Mars February 18th attached to NASA’s Perseverance rover, was initially slated to carry out its first flight test late Sunday night (or, mid-day Mars time). The first bits of data on whether the flight attempt was successful was expected to come early Monday morning, around 4AM ET.

But data from a high-speed rotor test…

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Author: Joey Roulette

Facebook spent $23 million for CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s security in 2020

Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

A new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Facebook spent more than $23 million last year on security for CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s annual reviews of company security “identified specific threats to Mr. Zuckerberg,” according to a proxy statement filed Friday.

“He is synonymous with Facebook, and as a result, negative sentiment regarding our company is directly associated with, and often transferred to, Mr. Zuckerberg,” the proxy says of the Facebook CEO’s role.

The company’s annual review of security programs showed the costs of protecting Zuckerberg and his family rose in 2020 mainly due to COVID-19 travel protocols, increased security coverage during the 2020 US election season “and other periods with…

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Author: Kim Lyons

Typing Of The Dead Mod Preserves Yahoo Answers’ Greatest Moments

Yahoo Answers, the legendary user-based answering service, is shutting down permanently on May 4. That seemed to mean that many of its best answers would be lost to time, but a modder has chosen to keep Yahoo Answers’ greatest hits alive in an unexpected place: The Typing of the Dead.

Twitter user YahooAnswersTXT, who compiles the best Yahoo Answers questions and posts them on their account, collected 500 of the very greatest and used them in a custom dictionary for Typing of the Dead: Overkill. We have no idea why some of these questions were asked, but here are some of the very best:

  • What does Bigfoot want??
  • Is yamble a word?
  • GANGSTER GHOST?
  • I can’t stop sinning?

Yahoo Answers let users crowdsource answers to pretty much anything, but as you can see from these answers, they sometimes didn’t actually ask questions with answers at all. No one knows what Bigfoot wants. Two of the above aren’t even questions. But this one might be our favorite because of an answer it did receive.

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Author: Gabe Gurwin

Unionizing Amazon warehouses was never going to be easy

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Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

For more than a year, a group of workers in Bessemer, Alabama have campaigned to unionize their warehouse under the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), hoping to force the retail giant to collectively bargain with its warehouse workers for the first time. On Friday, those hopes came to an abrupt end. In a unit-wide election, workers at the warehouse voted against unionization by a more than 2-1 margin, with 738 votes in favor to 1,798 against.

It’s a devastating loss for the RWDSU and the labor movement broadly. The union is still fighting the result — filing objections and arguing that Amazon’s campaign violated labor law — but those challenges are unlikely to change the result. After dreaming of a domino effect that…

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Author: Russell Brandom

Epic Games Is Losing An Absurd Amount Of Money On Exclusive Games

Epic Games seems to understand that, given Steam’s massive user-base, the only way it can be a viable competitor is to have games that aren’t available on Valve’s service. Exclusivity deals with third-party companies cost money, and it looks like Epic Games is losing a huge amount of money to make those exclusives happen.

As spotted by PC Gamer, despite paying approximately $444 million for “minimum guarantees” on third-party games for the Epic Games Store in 2020, sales of all third-party games for the year amounted to about $265 million. Apple said that Epic Games lost about $181 million on the Epic Games Store in 2019, putting the total losses thus far at more than $300 million, should these figures be correct. Big games like Metro Exodus and Control were released first on EGS before coming to Steam later.

Apple used these figures in a statement as part of its lawsuit against Epic Games, pointing out that the service is unprofitable and is missing security features that Apple’s App Store includes. It pointed out that most of Epic Games’ Fortnite revenue is generated on platforms other than iOS, as well, which would seemingly mitigate the effect of the game not being available there anymore.

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Author: Gabe Gurwin