Twitch Studio Streaming Software Now In Open Beta

Twitch, the online video streaming service, recently brought its broadcasting software, Twitch Studio, out from closed beta status to open beta. The app was first introduced earlier in August this year, and is designed to give newcomers who have no experience in handling a broadcast.
According to Twitch, the software can automatically detect your microphone, webcam, monitor resolution, bitrate, and others to ease up the set-up process. Therefore negating any need to journey through Reddit or OBS-related forums to figure out how to get the right configuration for your streaming rig.

Often at times, streamers would have to rely on their own layout, where they have to design everything from scratch. In Twitch Studio, newcomers are treated to simple layout templates that they can choose inside the software.
Further, because Twitch is known for its community engagement, Twitch Studio also comes with an integrated alert system for your chats, activity feeds. Eliminating the use of third-party plugins to monitor your stream feed.

As mentioned earlier, Twitch Studio was launched in closed beta back in August. Currently, the software only supports Windows 7 and above, with mention that there will be a working version for the Mac in the future. On that note, you may download the software via the brand’s official webpage, if you’re interested.
(Source: Twitch[1][2] via The Verge, TechCrunch)
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Astro Ultra 4K UHD Box Upgrade To Be Available for Free To Existing Customers

More than a year after the company officially started its 4K UHD journey, Astro today has officially launched the new Astro Ultra box to the public following its beta test since earlier this year. Designed to deliver 4K UHD and HDR content to its customers, the new box also provides them with a new user interface and the cloud recording feature.
For existing Astro customers that want to upgrade to the new Astro Ultra box, it will be provided free to them although their monthly subscription pack need to costs at least or more than RM 100. As for fresh new customers that also choose to have subscription pack that costs more than RM 100 per month, their upgrade fee to Astro Ultra Box will be RM 99.

If your Astro subscription costs less than RM 100 per month, you will be charged an upgrade installation fee of RM 199 regardless of whether you are an existing or new customer. Do note that the upgrade does come with a 24-months contract attached to it.
Additionally, you need to have a 4K TV that is HDCP 2.2 compliant. You also might need to check with Astro whether your premise is able to support the service if you live in a high-rise building. For further information, do head on to Astro UHDs’ official website.
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Here Is A Closer Look At Astro Ultra Box: Designed To Deliver 4K UHD and HDR Content, Made By Samsung

Its rollout was delayed for quite some time, but Astro is finally launching the company’s new TV box, Astro Ultra to the public. While today’s launch event marked the official public debut of the box, Astro Ultra box has already made rounds to selected users since a few months ago as part of the company’s beta test program.
However, my media test unit only came earlier this week which means that the things we going to discuss moving forward are skewed to the public rollout phase instead of the earlier beta test. Before we go further, I would like to note that I’m not an existing Astro subscriber (surprise!), so you are going to see this from the eyes of a first-time customer.

When the Astro installer team came to set up the Astro Ultra in my home, I asked what’s the difference between the standard Astro satellite dish and the one used to deliver Astro UHD service through Astro Ultra box, I was told that the low-noise block downconverter (LNB) or generally referred to as “the receiver” by most of us is different from the LNB used for standard-definition broadcast.
Upon further research using the model name of the LMB on my Astro satellite dish (shown above), I noticed that the LNB is actually the same unit that Astro has been using for the past few years and supports the company’s existing HD broadcast. In other words, if you already subscribe to Astro HD service, you should have no problem receiving Astro UHD broadcast if you switch to the Astro Ultra box.
As for the size of the satellite dish itself, there are no changes to it as that satellite dish dimensions are actually regulated by our law. All in all, it looks like the Astro UHD broadcast and Astro Ultra box is still using the same Astro satellite dish that the company has provided to customers for quite some time, just in case you are wondering.

Moving on to the Astro Ultra box, it is certainly quite a departure from Astro’s previous TV box in terms of design. Instead of the usual rectangular design, the Astro Ultra box looks sleeker with its squircle shape and curvy edges that are being accentuated further by the LED status strip on the bottom front part of the TV box.
In terms of footprint, the Astro Ultra box doesn’t take that much space but still noticeably larger than my Huawei-made Unifi TV and Xiaomi Mi Box. Nevertheless, they all looked so tiny when compared to the massive 65-inch 2019 QA60R 4K QLED TV that Samsung has loaned us to pair with the Astro Ultra box.

Speaking about the manufacturer, it is quite interesting to note that the Astro Ultra box is made by Samsung as written on its label and installation guide. The same guide has also pointed out that the Astro Ultra offers Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital Audio output via its HDMI 2.0 port while the box is also able to provide Dolby Digital Audio through its optical S/PDIF port.
The release of Astro Ultra also marked the arrival of cloud-based recording feature for Astro customers. Naturally, the box needs to be connected to the Internet in order for the feature to work and one can do via its Ethernet port or dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity.

Meanwhile, there are two USB ports on the back on the Astro Ultra box. While one of them is a USB 3.0 port that is made for users to store PVR contents into an external hard drive, the USB 2.0 port actual purpose is still a mystery since the Astro Ultra’s installation guide stated that the port is “reserved for future usage“.
The same label has also been given to the box’s microSD card slot and the microphone button on Astro Ultra’s remote control. Since I couldn’t locate any actual microphone on both the box and the remote itself, the inclusion of the microphone button is rather odd.

Another interesting I noticed is that Astro Box utilizes a SIM card instead of the usual full-sized smart card that the company have been using for decades. Given the size difference, it seems that the card is made specially for Astro Ultra.
All of the above observations were made based just on my first three days with Astro Ultra. Hence, there are still plenty of things that I going to explore including the Astro UHD service, the cloud recording feature, and new user interface.

Not to forget, there is also the question of how much do customers need to pay for these new features. This is something that we hope to have the answer at the Astro Ultra launch event later this afternoon. So, stay tuned.
Astro Ultra box and Astro UHD trial subscription is courtesy of Astro. The 2019 Samsung QA60R 4K QLED TV loan demo unit is courtesy of Samsung Malaysia.
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Instagram Launches Reels In Brazil; Basically 15-Second Video Mode For Stories

If you make frequent use of Instagram’s Stories, you may notice something new there sometime in the future. The social media platform has just added a new mode under Stories, called Reels, for users in Brazil. What it does is essentially the same as what rival social media app TikTok does – 15 second videos.
As mentioned, Reels can be found under Stories, alongside the existing Boomerang and Super-Zoom modes. You can record without audio, or borrow them. These can come from other videos or even a popular song. You also get some other editing tools, that let you add captions or splice multiple video clips into one.
When you’re done, you can then post your Reels to Stories, or Close Friends, to send it to people as a message. It will disappear after 24 hours like any other Stories. Also like the standard Stories you can make them permanent by putting them up among your Highlights.

On the face of it, Reels feels a little redundant if you’re just looking to post video Stories, since you can already do that. But if you’re actually looking to goof around and have one less app on your phone, then it may be an addition to look forward to.
That said, as mentioned earlier Reels is only available now to users in Brazil. There’s no mention of when it will be making its way elsewhere, let alone here in Malaysia. With all that in mind, it may take awhile before we can make use of this new feature.
(Source: TechCrunch)
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Facebook Pay Introduces Unified Payment System Across All Platforms

Facebook’s redesign of its logo last week was one of the new changes coming to the social network and its platform this month. In a recent announcement, the company is planning to consolidate its online payment system across all of its social media platforms by introducing a unified service called Facebook Pay.
Granted, the ability to send money to friends or family on Facebook is a feature that has been available on the platform for quite some time. However, the main goal of Facebook Pay is to allow users to track their payment history across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp in one place.
(Image: Facebook)
Facebook’s vice president of marketplace and commerce Deborah Liu explained in a blog post that Facebook Pay will ease transactions for purchases, charity donations, or transfers across all of its platforms while ensuring that all payment information will be secure and protected. Liu also added that the system is in partnership with other online financial transaction platforms such as Paypal and Stripe, and is entirely separate from the Calibra digital wallet which handles Facebook’s upcoming Libra cryptocurrency that is planned to launch in 2020.
On the other hand, the company recently began testing a payment system via WhatsApp in India and has also introduced a catalogue system via its WhatsApp Business extension. Instagram also introduced Checkout in the US earlier this year in March, where users are able to purchase products from shops and businesses within the app.
(Image: Facebook)
Facebook Pay is expected to first roll out in the US this week on both the parent app and Messenger, while its expected release date on both Instagram and WhatsApp have not been confirmed. The company also expressed an interest in expanding the new service globally but did not specify when that may actually happen.
(Source: Facebook (1) (2) via CNet)
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Facebook iOS App Bug Reportedly Allows Camera To Run In Background

The Facebook app on iOS appears to have a bug where it allows the camera to run in the background. In fact, several Facebook users reportedly found their phone’s camera running while scrolling through their timelines.
One of the users posted a video on Twitter that he was able to catch a glimpse of their camera feed while he was viewing a photo and drags the screen barely enough to close it. Adding on to the point, he mentioned that he is able to replicate the bug across five iPhones that were running iOS 13.2.2. However, the bug is not found on the iOS 12.

Found a @facebook #security & #privacy issue. When the app is open it actively uses the camera. I found a bug in the app that lets you see the camera open behind your feed. Note that I had the camera pointed at the carpet.
— Joshua Maddux (@JoshuaMaddux) November 10, 2019

In another case, one user found that the Facebook Stories camera UI appeared for a short time as he switches between his phone’s screen orientation when playing a video. As he switches back, the app somehow opened the Stories UI, disregarding the video he was viewing at that moment.
Since the discovery, Facebook has clarified to The Verge that the first issue was caused by an app update on 8 November and it is pushing a fix for both issues to the App Store by today. Additionally, Facebook also mentioned that there is no evidence of photos or videos being uploaded due to the bug.

Today, while watching a video on @facebook, I rotated to landscape and could see the Facebook/Instagram Story UI for a split second. When rotating back to portrait, the Story camera/UI opened entirely. A little worrying…
— Neo QA (@neo_qa) November 2, 2019

This is not the first time that Facebook has been under the spotlight for privacy issues. Previously, Facebook was fined US$5 billion (~RM20.7 billion) due to mishandling user’s data and privacy. As for now, we just have to wait for Facebook to push out the fix on the App Store.
(Source: @JoshuaMaddux, The Verge, CNET // Image: Yahoo News)
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Charlie’s Angels Review: Kristen Stewart Rocks in a Messy and Draggy Flick

The Charlie’s Angels films starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore that hit the big screens in the early 2000s weren’t good. But at least they were unabashedly cheesy and invited us to be a part of their nonsensical (and quite frankly joyous) ride. Look, I haven’t watched those flicks since I was a 9-year-old kid, who at the time genuinely believed I had died and ascended to heaven when Cameron Diaz started twerking around in her Spider-Man undies. So, admittedly, I could be giving those movies more credit than they deserve. The 2019 version of Charlie’s Angels — a sequel/reboot in the vein of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle — fortunately isn’t a movie centred around females but aimed squarely at pre-pubescent boys. Unfortunately, it is a mess. Not only is it a mess, it’s also a slog to get through and has no sense of what it is. It’s tone-deaf, cringeworthy and almost a complete disaster, made better only by my affinity for Kristen Stewart and Naomi Scott, both of whom desperately need to consider hiring new agents. Big time.
Charlie’s Angels (2019) which is set in the present, years after the events of the 00s movies opens with a somewhat entertaining prologue. We see Kristen Stewart’s Sabina having dinner with an ultra-rich misogynistic Asian dude in his Penthouse. He passes her backhanded compliments. She plays into it, even seduces him, before choking him and kicking the asses of his bodyguards — a bunch of other secret agent angels join the party, including Ella Balinska’s Jane. It’s a fine introductory scene, but something felt amiss right from the get-go. Perhaps it’s Elizabeth Banks’ (who’s the writer and director) inability to craft tension through action sequences. The rhythm is off. Or perhaps it’s her writing that falls flat. The misogynist and feminist jokes are all one-dimensional and lame; you’ll find better ones scrolling through 9Gag. That said, Stewart is so goddamn magnetic in this sequence that I found myself being hypnotised much like the rich Asian dude, Johnny.

Everything begins to falter, crumble and then completely implode from this point on, starting with its opening credits song, which feels like it belongs in a Disney Channel original movie. Anyway, the plot: Bosley (Patrick Stewart) has retired, replaced by a new Bosley played by Elizabeth Banks. And when a wide-eyed systems engineer (Naomi Scott) decides to blow the whistle on a dangerous, untested piece of tech that her company has just invented, Charlie’s Angels step in to investigate and stop this weapon from getting into the wrong hands. This premise could’ve worked either as schlocky fun ala Now You See Me or something more serious (if they wanted a reinvention) like the Bond films of the Craig era. But Banks doesn’t appear to have even the tiniest grasp on tone or character writing.
She gives us a reason to dislike the Angels very early on. After an unmemorable heist scene, a couple of the girls are trapped. They turn one of the tech thingamabobs — the one that we’re repeatedly told is highly dangerous and could be weaponized if it falls in the ‘wrong hands’ — to open the door. An innocent security guard who’s just doing his job bolts into the vicinity in search of them. Scott’s Elena tries to warn him about the EMP bomb that they’ve just set to detonate. Jane, a highly-skilled angel who we’re supposed to be rooting for tells Elena to just let it go, let the guy die. The bomb goes off and the dude actually dies. The death of the man plays off as a joke. “Collateral damage,” Sabina says is the most nonchalant Kristen Stewart-y manner. Except Banks’ Charlie’s Angels isn’t a satire — scenes that poke fun at the spy genre isn’t a regular feature in the film — and isn’t a comedy, not one that lands its jokes anyway. It’s a complete WTF scene that’s tonally jarring, mean spirited and wonderfully sums up just how little thought is put into the character writing.
Very early in the film, we’re introduced to Alexander Brock, the owner of the tech company. It’s made explicitly clear through an exchange he has with Elena that he’s a smart dude who knows his sh*t, a contrast to Nat Faxon’s character who’s a bimbotic asshole. But in the 3rd act, in a weirdly directed scene, Brock is suddenly reduced to a complete numbskull of a loser, whose head is thicker than the iceberg that sank the Titanic. Introducing the character as someone smart is a red herring, I guess.

Charlie’s Angels is, unfortunately, brimming with enough of these contrived smoke screens to make your head explode into little tiny pieces. Good guys are revealed to be bad guys who are revealed to be good guys who are revealed to be bad guys. All of it is very surprising, not because the twists and turns are smartly written, but because they are so far fetched there’s no way you could’ve thought about it using even a lick of logic. It’s so all over the place that at one point, the angels stop in their tracks to try and make sense of the red herrings. Even the characters are blown away by the hollowness and stupidity of the screenplay.
I’m not trying to nitpick what is essentially a switch-of-your-brains popcorn flick. But because the movie is not even cheaply engaging or remotely exciting — it’s a less than two-hour motion picture that feels like its three — the flaws in the writing not only stand out like a clown at a funeral, it smacks you hard like a Russian face-slapping competitor. The heist sequence is highly unimaginative and boring — there’s no creatively outrageous plan, no moments of sheer thrills, no reveal that makes you smile. A lot of it just involves the girls walking/running around. Some of the action sequences, though, are well shot and choreographed.

It completely implodes when it tries to get serious. The sequences that try to evoke weighty emotions range from middlingly awkward to supremely awkward. One scene has Jane burst into tears like a 90s cartoon character, in which Ella Baliska delivers one of the most painfully awkward moments of performances you’ll see all year. A bonafide toe-curler! Why are characters crying for each other in a manner that suggests they’ve lost their unborn child when nothing leading up to that moment suggests that they’ve bonded as sisters and built a genuine connection.
Kristen Stewart and Naomi Scott are the two reasons why the film isn’t a complete wreck. Stewart is great! She has ample charisma and charm, is believable as an ass-kicker and whose sexiness is intoxicating even without the maligned ‘male gaze’. She also appears to be the only one who performed with at least a tinge of self-awareness, and gifts us with some incredibly funny moments. Naomi Scott sheds the power and steep confidence we saw in Aladdin to play a naive tech girl. She’s one of those actors who has the natural gift of being infinitely endearing, even when trapped in a film that’s infinitely unlikeable. Charlie’s Angels is exactly that: Infinitely unlikeable. A trudging experience that you fancy less and less the more you think about.
Charlie’s Angels hits Malaysian cinemas 14 November 2019.
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Samsung Brings More Galaxy Note10 Features To The Galaxy S10

With the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note10 and Note10+, the Korean-based smartphone maker has showcased a series of features in the flagship phone. Over the past few months, Samsung has been pushing even more Note 10 features to its Galaxy S10 series with the latest software updates.
One of the first updates is the search feature for the Gallery app. With it, the Galaxy S10 can now recognise and search for images using a keyword instead of having to scroll and scour around the Gallery, just to find an image.

Additionally, Samsung has improved device search which includes recommendations from streaming apps. On top of that, there is now a media and devices shortcut built into the quick panel for easier media access to Bluetooth, as well as to other devices such as a Samsung TV.
Galaxy S10 owners will also notice that the phone’s Video Editor feature has been update for Samsung DeX. Enabling user to transform and edit videos while connected to a PC or Mac via the required USB-C cable.

On another note, it should be pointed out that Samsung has also brought the Note 10’s Live-Focus video and AR doodle features into the Galaxy S10. Prior to this, Samsung also rolled out a slow-mo selfie video feature that enables users to take videos of themselves in, well, slow motion.
There is also Intelligent Wi-Fi 1.5 and Auto Hotspot feature that we have covered when the update arrived on our Galaxy S10 unit. In short, now the hotspot will kick in automatically when other Samsung devices with the same account are signed in.

Overall, it is nice to see that Samsung is still implementing updates to the Galaxy S10 series. To that end, we’re now looking forward to the Android Q update on both the Galaxy Note 10 and S10 series.
(Source: Samsung)
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Malaysia To Play Host For PUBG Mobile Club Open 2019 Fall Split Global Finals

Tencent recently announced that the PUBG Mobile Club Open (PMCO) 2019 Fall Split Global Finals tournament will be hosted in Malaysia. The announcement was made just before the SEA Games eSports athletes flag-off ceremony at LEVEL UP Play 2019.
The PMCO tournament will be held at Putra World Trade Center (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur later this year. The tournament will host a total of 16 teams from 10 different regions to compete for a total prize pool of US$2.5 million (~RM10.3 million). Further, the tournament will be sponsored by Vivo.

The tickets are now available for purchase at a price starting from RM20 for each day, or if you are attending all three days, you may purchase the season ticket for a price starting from RM51. However, it is important to note that the price for seats gradually increase as you get closer to the stage.
It is also worth noting that local team Yoodo Gank will be representing the nation in the PMCO Global Finals. Previously, Yoodo Gank has secured a direct invite to the tournament after emerging as the best Malaysian team in the PMCO: SEA League.

To provide a sense of the magnitude of PUBG Mobile, Tencent revealed that the game has been downloaded more than 400 million times with an average of 50 million daily players. The PUBG Mobile Club Open (PMCO) 2019 Fall Split Global Finals tournament will commence on 29 November to 1 December 2019.
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Apple May Unveil 16-Inch MacBook Pro This Week; Will Come With New Keyboard

Talk about flipping the script. It was only yesterday that reports of the 16-inch MacBook Pro being in production surfaced. New reports today points at Apple releasing the laptop as early as this week.
Bloomberg reports that the new MacBook Pro will replace the current 15-inch model. This display up-size may also be a permanent change, and the company will likely phase out the current, slightly smaller one. It’s also expected to have around the same starting price as the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which is RM10499 locally.
For what it’s worth, the new report also says that the 16-inch MacBook Pro will have a more reliable keyboard. This likely means that Apple is really moving away from its Butterfly switches, and adopting scissor switches instead.

Interestingly, Apple has another launch in store for the year of 2019. Bloomberg’s report states that the company plans to release the new Mac Pro desktop in December. Unfortunately, that is as specific as the timeframe gets.
At any rate, this is a very sudden change in tone compared to what Forbes reported yesterday. If it will indeed be as soon as this week, then it’s another dose of unexpected good news for those who were looking forward to the new 16-inch MacBook Pro.
(Source: Bloomberg)
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