Game of Thrones Creators Likely Making Lord of the Rings Style Star Wars Trilogy

Star Wars is in an interesting phase right now. With the release of Episode IX this December, the Skywalker saga, an operatic storyline that has been told over the span of three decades, will finally come to a close. So, what next? It looks like for the first time ever, the movies will be moving away completely from the Skywalkers (remember, even Rogue One and Solo are films that either feature Skywalkers or have tie ins to them) and tell completely different Star Wars stories.
Rian Johnson’s new trilogy is rumoured to be set in unexplored regions of the galaxy far far away. But what fans have really been salivating for is the film trilogy set to be written and produced by the creators of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. And because of their Game of Thrones background, fans have been speculating for months and months now that the duo’s trilogy will be set during the Old Republic with epic battle sequences between the Jedi and the Sith. Well, it looks like our wish just might come true.
Star Wars News Net did some digging and discovered some juicy details. Here’s what their sources had to say:
“…approached about working on the next movie this Autumn. It is not the Rian Johnson trilogy, it is the Game of Thrones guys’ first movie, and it is set during the Old Republic, as Disney wants to open up the Star Wars timeline and appeal to a more ‘Game of Thrones‘ style audience. The timeline is hundreds of years prior to the Skywalkers, so think almost Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings.”

This is bloody exciting news! Imagine watching tens of thousands of Jedi and Sith standing on opposite ends of the battlefield. Imagine a similar speech to Aragorn’s at the Black Gate. Imagine thousands of lightsaber igniting simultaneously. Just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine.
However, before we get too excited, do remember that this is merely a rumour for now as sources tell Star Wars News Net that they’re only “95% confident that this is accurate.” Looks like we’ll have to wait till Star Wars Celebration in December to get more concrete news.
But for now, do enjoy this cinematic trailer from the 2011 Star Wars Old Republic video game (not part of the official canon).

(Source: Star Wars News Net)
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Mozilla Releases Firefox Lite; Lightweight And Lightning Fast Web Browser For Android OS

Mozilla has officially launched Firefox Lite. Its new fast and lightweight web browser for the Android OS that even comes with a multitude of space and resource-saving features.
Chief among these features is its size; the entire Firefox Lite app only takes up 4MB of a phone’s storage. That’s a fraction of the size of Google’s Chrome browser or Opera. It also comes with a Turbo Mode; a feature that gives Firefox Lite its reputation as a lightning-fast browser.
Another feature of Firefox Lite is the option for users to perform multiple downloads on the browser, and then save the downloaded caches directly to the phone’s SDCard. Assuming of course, the phone in question comes with an expandable storage option.

Other features include the ability to enter into a private browsing mode, which as you’d expect, allows users to browse sites without leaving a digital footprint. On another note, Firefox Lite also features a built-in adblocker, though Mozilla is quick to point out that the feature isn’t 100% effective, meaning that some ads will get past the measures.
The web browser was first made available in selected regions including China, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and Thailand. Now, the app is finally downloadable for Malaysian users via Google’s Play Store.
(Source: Google Play Store // Image: Amanz)
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EU Fines Google €1.49 Billion For Breaking Antitrust Laws

The European Union (EU) has fined Google yet again. This time around, the search engine is being slapped with a fine amounting to €1.49 billion (~RM6.9 billion) for breaking EU Antitrust Laws.
To be precise, the European Commission’s Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, accuses Google of abusing its monopoly in online advertising. As Vestager puts it, Google has “cemented its dominance in online search adverts” and even shielded itself from “competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites”.
This isn’t the first time Google has been fined for breaking EU antitrust laws. Last year, it was slapped with a fine of US$5 billion (~RM20.3 billion) for the way it handled its Android OS. In what the EU described then as “illegal practices”. Prior to that, Google had attempted to reach out to the EU with an offer to “make changes”. To its dismay, the offer was shot down, and by none other than Vestager herself.

Europe isn’t the only region where Google knowingly violated antitrust laws. Back in 2014, South Korea fined the company almost RM700000 for illegally collecting personal data without the consent of its users. In 2016, The Russian government went after Google for problems with its Android OS at the time. Slapping the company’s wrist with a fine of RM27 million.
To date, Google has been fined a total of €8.2 billion (~RM38 billion) by the EU since 2017. To make matters worse, Vestager said that Google may face more investigations. As complaints against it continue to mount.
(Source: European Commission, The Guardian, CNN)
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Google Stadia Controller: Provides Direct Connection to The Service via Wi-Fi

As it turns out, Google didn’t come out with a gaming console. After months of rumours, the company has finally addressed its gaming effort by unveiling the upcoming cloud-based gaming service, Stadia. Despite that though, the company did announce one new hardware last night in the form of a controller.
The new Stadia controller looked almost exactly like the patent that came into light recently. While its design is rather common, what made the controller unique is the fact that it is equipped with the dedicated Share button that allows gamers to seamlessly stream their game session to YouTube.

Additionally, there’s also another dedicated button specifically for Google Assistant. By pressing this button, it will activate the controller’s built-in microphone and allows gamers to use voice commands for certain actions such as to search for YouTube videos, initiate a game session, connect to a multiplayer game, and many more.
What made the controller even more interesting is the fact that it connects directly to Stadia through Wi-Fi connection instead of through Chromecast. We suppose that this design was implemented to address lag issues.

Just like Stadia itself, the availability and pricing for the controller are not known at the moment though. Meanwhile, do check out Google’s presentation once again and try to spot the legendary Konami code on the back of the controller which would activate a 3D render at Stadia’s section on Google Store US.
Go, give it a try although you need to manually change the store’s region from Malaysia to the United States.
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Oculus Rift S VR Headset Unveiled: Co-Designed by Lenovo, Built with Inside-Out Tracking

Over at Game Developers Conference 2019, Oculus has announced the new addition to its virtual reality headset family: the Rift S. In general, the new headset will be replacing the original Rift and interesting enough, it also featured inside-out tracking just like the company’s other headset, Quest.
By using inside-out tracking method which the company referred to as the Oculus Insight, there is no need for external sensors as opposed to the original Rift headset. Rift S also utilizes the same Oculus Touch motion controllers and integrated audio system as per Quest.

Another interesting point to add is the fact that Rift S was actually co-designed by Lenovo. According to Oculus, the Chinese company helps deliver better comfort, weight distribution, and light blocking for the new headset.
Not to forget, another big improvement that Rift S has brought to the tablet is the 2560 x 1440 display which equivalent to 1280 x 1440 per eye. As a comparison, the display on the original Rift headset has a resolution of 1080 x 1200 per eye.

Oculus didn’t provide an exact release date for the new Rift S although the Facebook subsidiary stated that it will be released in Spring 2019 for USD 399 (around RM 1621) which is oddly the same release timeframe and pricing as per Quest.
(Source: Oculus.)
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Second Generation Apple AirPods Price For Malaysia Starts At RM 699

After revealing the new iPad Air, iPad mini, and iMac, one might think that Apple would consider taking a rest from announcing new products ahead of its upcoming special event on 25 March. But nope, that’s not the cast at all as the company has announced yet another new product for the third consecutive night.
This time around, it comes in the form of the second generation Apple AirPods and just like the previous three products, they will be made available in Malaysia. Just like the new iPad Air and iPad mini, there is no exact local release date for them just yet, but Apple Malaysia’s website has listed down their pricing though.

For the second generation AirPod with a standard charging case, local consumers will be able to obtain them for RM 699 which is RM 50 more than the first generation AirPods prior to the launch of the new model. Speaking about the original AirPods, it seems like they are no longer on sale on Apple Malaysia’s website although we are pretty sure you can still get them at local Apple retailers.
If you prefer to have the wireless charging case instead, it would then cost RM 879. As for the stand-alone wireless charging case which still supports the original AirPods, it can be purchased for RM 439. Meanwhile, we’ll keep you updated once they are made available for our market.
(Source: Apple Malaysia.)
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RM 64 Million Already Lost To Cybercrimes Within The First Three Months of 2019

A total of RM 64 million already lost to cybercrimes for the past three months according to a joint statement from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM). Both organizations today have announced the establishment of a formal committee to combat cyber-crimes.
It is indeed a worrying trend since the amount of monetary loss due to cyber crimes have been going up on a yearly basis. According to the joint statement, the amount of loss in 2017 was RM 266 million which then increased to RM 398 million in 2018.

In a response to members of the media at a press conference earlier today, Mazlan Mansor, the Director of PDRM’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department stated that most of the losses were related to Macau Scam. Also known as voice phishing, a typical Macau Scam case usually involved the culprit pretending to be an officer from authorities or financial institutions and attempt to obtain financial information from the victim.

Mazlan further pointed out that some of these cases involved big transactions which is why the amount of monetary loss every year was rather huge. Hence, he has urged members of the public to verify such calls first before making any move.
(References: MCMC. Main image: Two hundred percent @ Wikimedia Commons.)
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Second Generation Apple AirPods Are Here: Longer Battery Life, Support Wireless Charging

Looks like there is not stopping to Apple’s surprise product announcement for this week just yet as the company has unveiled the second generation AirPods wireless headphones. While the design might look rather similar to the original AirPods, the second generation product now supports wireless charging.
By that, we mean the new wireless charging case for them which can be charged using Qi wireless chargers. Interestingly, the case can be purchased on its own for those who still own the first generation AirPods.

As for the headphones themselves, they are equipped with Apple’s new H1 chip which apparently provides them with 50-percent more talk time as opposed to their predecessors. In addition to that, it also helps deliver faster switching time between active devices and connection time for phone calls as well as 30-percent lower gaming latency.
Not to forget, the second generation AirPods also supports the Hey Siri always-on voice feature. In terms of availability, certain markets would receive them as early as next week but there is no exact release date for our market yet. Nevertheless, Apple has confirmed that they are coming to Malaysia very soon.
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U Mobile Sign MoU With ZTE; Companies To Conduct 5G Live Test Around KL City

U Mobile Sdn Bhd and ZTE Corporation have officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to accelerate 5G in Malaysia. The signing of the MOU took place at U Mobile’s Corporate HQ.
The partnership of both companies will “contribute to the development of 5G networks” in Malaysia. That includes ‘Live Testing’, 5G showcases, as well as the implementation of multiple inputs, multiple outputs (MIMO) antennas.
Wong Heang Tuck, CEO of U Mobile, said the company was delighted to be working with ZTE in efforts to accelerate 5G in Malaysia. The company will also be working closely with ZTE to conduct live tests in selected areas in the KL city soon.

U Mobile has been rapidly expanding its networks across West and East Malaysia over the last several months. The company already has plans to implement massive MIMO antennas in specific areas around KL city to enhance the customer experience by leveraging the wider bandwidths.
ZTE also added that the company has 5G end-to-end solution capabilities and has maintained a leader position in commercial network practices in 5G technologies. the China-based telecommunications company also hopes that its long-term strategic partnership will be beneficial to both companies and customers.
U Mobile is obviously not the first telco in Malaysia to begin adopting and transiting towards the new 5G medium. Hopefully, U Mobile subscribers may soon begin to enjoy the benefits of ultra-fast internet speeds.
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Avengers: Endgame Trailer is a Misdirection

Marvel Studios seems to have mastered the art of crafting emotionally powerful trailers that also don’t reveal anything. Not only that, but the studio also goes the extra mile to include misleading shots. Think about the money shot in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer which had Hulk running alongside the rest of the Avengers to take down Thanos’ hench-aliens.
This proved to be nothing more than a clever misdirection as Hulk didn’t even make another appearance in Infinity War after getting his ass handed to him by Thanos in the opening sequence. Well, it looks like the Avengers: Endgame trailer has more of those too.

In a chat with Empire Online, one of the directors of Avengers: Endgame, Joe Russo discussed why he and his brother found it necessary to convince the Marvel Studios marketing team to mislead audiences:
“We talked about all scales of marketing. The thing that’s most important to us is that we preserve the surprise of the narrative. When I was a kid and saw The Empire Strikes Back at 11am on the day it opened…it so profoundly moved me because I didn’t know a damn thing about the story I was going to watch. We’re trying to replicate that experience.”
It’s great to hear directors getting involved with the creative process of the trailers. One of the biggest problems with trailers these days is that they tend to show too much in an effort to get butts in seats. Remember the Batman V Superman trailer from three years ago that comprised of every major plot point and reveal from the movie including the involvement of Wonder Woman and Doomsday.

However, this hasn’t been the case with Disney, especially when it comes to their tentpole movies under the Marvel banner (and Lucasfilm too). The Russo brothers who also helmed The Winter Soldier, Civil War and Infinity War, are especially passionate about it. In an interview with Josh Horowitz of the Happy Sad Confused podcast last year, The Russos had this to say:
“We look at the trailer as a very different experience than the movie, and I think audiences are so predictive now that you have to be very smart about how you craft a trailer because an audience can watch a trailer and basically tell you what’s gonna happen in the film.
We consume too much content. So at our disposal are lots of different shots that aren’t in the movie that we can manipulate through CG to tell a story that we want to tell specifically for the purpose of the trailer and not for the film.”
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