Microsoft lands $21 billion contract to arm US soldiers with futuristic augmented-reality headsets

The Pentagon will pay Microsoft billions of dollars to build augmented-reality headsets for its soldiers. The devices will be backed by the tech firm’s Azure cloud computing services, which was compromised by hackers last year.

The contract was announced on Wednesday and could earn Microsoft up to $21.88 billion over 10 years. Back in 2018, the US Army gave Microsoft $480 million to develop a prototype headset built around the company’s HoloLens technology. Based on its performance, Microsoft will now provide up to 120,000 of the headsets, dubbed the Integrated Visual Augmented System, or IVAS.

The IVAS can project holographic video-game style maps, thermal and night imaging, and target-identification information to soldiers. It can also show where the soldier’s weapon is aimed, and monitor vital statistics like their heart rate.

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However, the project is not without its problems. A CNBC reporter tested the prototype headset in 2019 and described it as “a bit buggy,” saying that it needed to be restarted during a demonstration session. Several months later, the military was still reporting glitches with the devices, including GPS and imaging errors, and “poor low light and thermal sensor performance.”

While Microsoft will have a decade and more than $20 billion to iron these issues out, there could be more potential snafus on the horizon. The headsets will be linked to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service, a service that the company said was hacked last December, leaving 911 emergency lines down in multiple US states. Even before that particular breach, security researchers were finding flaws with Azure, with one branding it a “cloud security nightmare.”

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Despite this, the US military seems confident. Microsoft was awarded a $10 billion cloud computing contract by the Pentagon last October, beating out rivals Amazon and Google in the competition. Amazon has since filed a lawsuit, arguing that former President Donald Trump – a fierce critic of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – intervened to land Microsoft the deal.

Back in 2018, Microsoft President Brad Smith pledged the company would “provide the US military with access to the best technology… all the technology we create. Full stop.” However, not all of his employees felt as enthusiastic.

While Smith described the military as “ethical and honorable,” more than 90 Microsoft employees signed a letter in early 2019 protesting the development of the IVAS headsets. 

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Microsoft staff protest over Pentagon contract for augmented reality tech ‘designed to kill people’

“The application of HoloLens within the IVAS system is designed to help people kill,” they wrote. “It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated ‘video game,’ further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed.”

The employees said that they “did not sign up to develop weapons,” and demanded more control over “how our work is used.”

Whether Microsoft persuaded or ignored these disgruntled employees, the IVAS project is now a reality, and worth 44 times as much money as the prototype. Yet as Big Tech and the military grow ever closer, similar campaigns within Microsoft’s competitors have been more successful. Google dropped out of an AI contract with the Pentagon in 2019 after employees spoke out against their software being used to help target drone strikes. Employees at Apple and Amazon have also pressured their bosses not to help the US military.

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Source: https://www.rt.com/usa/519777-microsoft-pentagon-virtual-headsets/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS
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What Is a Non-Fungible Token?

nft-feature.jpg Remember Nyan Cat? The pixelated cat with a Pop-Tart for a body that grooved through space while shooting a rainbow out its backside? Of course you do. The artist who originally made the Nyan Cat GIF recently sold it for $600,000. Additionally, American artist Beeple just sold an NFT called “The First 5000 Days” via the prestigious British auction house Christie’s for an unbelievable $69.4 million. The staggering sums that some Non-fungible tokens or NFTs have sold for has led to a frenzy amongst those on the bleeding edge of technology as well as traditional investors. But what is an… Read more14387799.gif

Source: https://feeds.maketecheasier.com/link/12555/14387799/what-is-a-non-fungible-token
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Google Meet Extends Free Unlimited Video Calls Until June 30th

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Google Meet will continue to offer free unlimited video calls until June 30th, the company announced in a Tweet. After June 30th, free calls will be limited to an hour. This is the second time that Google has postponed its 60-minute call limit after extending its initial deadline from September 30th, 2020 to March 31st of this year.

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Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/75883/google-meet-extends-free-unlimited-video-calls-until-june-30th/
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Where Is the Music Folder on a Mac?

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If you have a new Mac, you might be wondering where your “Music” folder is, since Apple doesn’t put it in your Finder’s Favorites sidebar by default anymore. But fear not: It’s still there. Here’s how to find it, and how to add it to your Favorites sidebar again.

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Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/714402/where-is-the-music-folder-on-a-mac/
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Comet 2l/Borisov is one of the most pristine comets ever observed

The European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope has performed new observations of comet 2l/Borisov. It’s only the second interstellar visitor ever detected in our Solar System. The ESO’s observations have also indicated that 2l/Borisov is one of the most pristine comets ever observed. Astronomers believe 2l/Borisov most likely never passed close to a star, meaning it’s an undisturbed relic of … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/comet-2l-borisov-is-one-of-the-most-pristine-comets-ever-observed-31666405/
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Installing Chrome/Firefox on a New Windows Server, the Easy Way

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Windows Server comes with default “Enhanced Security Configuration” protections for Internet Explorer that block websites that aren’t trusted. The problem? This blocks you from installing a proper browser like Chrome and getting on with the rest of your job.

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Source: https://www.cloudsavvyit.com/10445/installing-chrome-firefox-on-a-new-windows-server-the-easy-way/
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T-Mobile Customers Can Now Stream MLB.TV for Free (A $130 Annual Value)

A screenshot of the T-Mobile MLB.TV landing page.T-Mobile

Another home run for T-Mobile customers! The MLB.TV streaming service is now free with most T-Mobile, Sprint, and Metro by T-Mobile phone plans. Download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app (iOS/Android) to redeem your year-long membership before the cutoff date on April 5th.

MLB.TV gives you instant access to local and out-of-market MLB games from any team, including a slew of baseball documentaries and throw-back games. Fans can also see live scores and stats, and even keep up with their favorite players. Unfortunately, MLB.TV does not include FOX, ESPN, and MLB Network telecasts.

From the T-Mobile website:

Any T-Mobile, Sprint or Metro by T-Mobile customer on a qualifying branded monthly rate plan within the United States, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands can participate. Qualifying rate plans include most consumer and business monthly plans that include voice and data… Government accounts, payday/paygo plans, data only plans, plans without data, and Connect talk & text plans are not eligible.

News of the free MLB.TV subscription comes just days after T-Mobile announced customer discounts for YouTube TV, and a month after adding free Netflix to its 55+ plan. If you like free perks, now’s definitely a good time to be a T-Mobile customer.

To redeem your yearlong MLB.TV subscription, simply download the T-Mobile Tuesdays app (iOS/Android) and verify your phone number. MLB.TV usually costs $130 a year, so this is a serious value! Just make sure you redeem your MLB.TV membership before the April 5th cutoff date.

Download on the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Source: T-Mobile via The Streamable

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/75737/t-mobile-customers-can-now-stream-mlb-tv-for-free-a-130-annual-value/
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How to Add a Web Page to Google Chrome’s Reading List

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The Google Chrome web browser on your desktop computer has a handy “Reading List” feature. It’s an easy way to save things for reading later, and it syncs with your iPhone or iPad. We’ll show you how to add web pages to the list.

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Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/720948/how-to-add-a-web-page-to-google-chromes-reading-list/
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