‘Westworld’ will soon stream for free on Roku and Tubi after leaving HBO Max

Westworld fans who've been mourning the show's disappearance from HBO Max will soon have another way to watch it. Warner Bros. Discovery is bringing free, ad-supported streaming (aka FAST) channels to Roku and Tubi in the coming months. One of those channels, called WB TV Series, will feature premium shows such as Westworld, Raised by Wolves, The Nevers and The Time Traveler’s Wife. WBD yanked all of those shows from HBO Max in December.

WB TV Series, and two other channels focused on reality and family-friendly shows, will debut on Tubi as soon as February 1st, according to Variety. Eleven more FAST channels from WBD are coming to the platform soon, including ones centered around baking competition series, classic movies from the late 20th century and true crime shows. The channels will arrive on the Roku Channel this spring. All told, WBD is bringing more than 2,000 hours of shows and movies to both platforms.

Meanwhile, WBD is preparing to merge HBO Max and Discovery+, a move that's slated to start in the US this spring. The company hasn't announced the name for the combined service just yet, but at one point the frontrunner was reportedly just "Max."

Vrbo’s Super Bowl ‘risk scores’ are basically pre-crime for house parties

As the Super Bowl approaches, Airbnb rival Vrbo announced its use of “unauthorized event prevention technology,” algorithms that try to avoid house parties at rental properties. Similar to a credit system, the tech generates a risk score for each booking, giving hosts a chance to call it off.

The Expedia-owned company will score renters based on their length of stay, lead time, number of guests and other factors. Vrbo is careful to add that it doesn’t use demographical information (race, sex, gender, age and so on) to evaluate risk. If a renter triggers a warning, Vrbo sends the host an email alert, giving them the option to cancel without a penalty; guests also receive a message reminding them of the policy.

Although Vrbo is rolling out the new system nationally, it recently conducted a yearlong pilot test in the Phoenix area, where Super Bowl LVII takes place on February 12th. The trial allegedly prevented over 500 unauthorized bookings in the US, saving hosts $2.5 million in cleanup and repairs. Vrbo will also restrict same-day bookings, team up with noise-monitoring and neighborhood watch services and share data with Airbnb about troublesome renters.

The new system will automatically apply to all US bookings. Vrbo says fewer than 0.25 percent of all weekend bookings in the US have led to party-related complaints.

Artifact is an AI-driven news aggregation app from the creators of Instagram

After a few years of staying mostly under the radar, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are back with a new project. It’s an app called Artifact, a name Systrom told Platformer’s Casey Newton is designed to evoke the project’s three tenants: “articles, facts and artificial intelligence.” In short, it’s a news aggregation app driven by a TikTok-like recommendation algorithm.

When you first launch Artifact, you’ll see a central feed populated by stories from publications like The New York Times. As you read more articles, the app will begin personalizing your feed. According to Systrom, the recommendation system Artifact’s team of seven built prioritizes how long you spend reading about certain subjects over clicks and comments. He added Artifact will feature news stories from both left and right-leaning outlets, though the company won’t allow posts that “promote falsehoods."

In the future, the app will also feature a social component. Systrom and Krieger plan to roll out a feed that will highlight articles from users you follow, alongside their commentary on that content. Additionally, you’ll be able to privately discuss posts through a direct-message inbox. At the moment, Systrom and Krieger are funding the project with their own money. They say Artifact represents a first attempt to imagine what the next generation of social apps could look like. If you want to give what they created a try, you can join a waiting list for the app’s iOS and Android beta. Systrom said the team plans to invite new users quickly.

Amazon is offering a $50 gift card when you buy a year of Microsoft 365 Family

If you've been thinking about adding Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint to your home office, this may be a good day to sign up. Today only, Amazon is offering a 12-month subscription to Microsoft 365 Family bundled with a $50 Amazon gift card for $100. The price of the yearly subscription is usually $100, so you're essentially getting a free gift card for signing up. The deal is only good through the end of the day and the subscription will auto-renew at the end of the year, so set a reminder if you want to cancel before that kicks in.   

The year-long subscription will come as a digital download and runs on PCs or Macs as well as smartphones and tablets running Apple's iOS or Android OS. It covers up to six people and can run on five devices at the same time, with offline access included. Microsoft 365 is the new branding for the well-known Office software and the Family subscription includes access to Word, Excel, Outlook email and PowerPoint. It also comes with the Microsoft Teams video calling app, which updated last year to include a Live Share feature enabling easier real-time collaboration. You also get Clipchamp video editor, which Microsoft acquired in 2021. Included security add-ons like Microsoft Defender and ransomeware protection will help protect your data and devices. 

Each person gets 1TB of OneDrive personal cloud storage, which not only lets you store a large amount of files in the cloud, it lets you share photos and files with other OneDrive users, across pretty much any device. 

The Microsoft 365 family subscription is activated as a digital download, but the $50 gift card will arrive as a physical card in the mail. And as we said, the deal ends today, so take advantage if you want to add Microsoft's productivity apps to your setup. 

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Paramount+ Premium will absorb Showtime and rebrand as ‘Paramount+ With Showtime’

Amid stern competition from other streaming platforms, Paramount Global is combining two of its services. It will fold Showtime into the Premium tier of Paramount+ later this year. The combined offering will be known as “Paramount+ With Showtime.”

Showtime's linear TV network will be rebranded with the same name in the US. As part of the move, some Paramount+ original programs will air on the cable network — so maybe more people will finally recognize the brilliance of The Good Fight.

“Now, with Showtime’s content integrated into our flagship streaming service, and select Paramount+ originals joining the linear offering, Paramount+ will become the definitive multiplatform brand in the streaming space — and the first of its kind to integrate streaming and linear content in this way,” Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish said in a memo to staff, as Variety reports. "This change will also drive stronger alignment across our domestic and international Paramount+ offerings, as international Paramount+ already includes Showtime content.”

Showtime debuted its own streaming service in 2015, a year after CBS All Access arrived. The latter was rebranded as Paramount+ in 2021. Last year, Paramount Global integrated Showtime content into its namesake streaming service as part of a bundle. Now, it's going a step further by unifying them.

While the move may come as a disappointment to those who are only interested in Showtime's content and aren't sold on Paramount+, the move makes sense from a business perspective. There's a wave of consolidation across the media industry, including in streaming, where HBO Max and Discovery+ will combine in the coming months.

Paramount will look to cut some costs and funnel extra resources into its more successful properties amid the transition. Just as news of the streaming merger broke, it emerged that Showtime has canceled American Gigolo and Let The Right One In (a series based on one of the best films of the last 20 years), while it's reportedly trying to offload a new show called Three Women.

“As a part of Paramount+, we can put more resources into building out the lanes that have made the Showtime brand famous, as well as turning our hit shows into global hit franchises," Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Showtime and Paramount Media Networks, wrote in a staff memo. "To do this, we will divert investment away from areas that are underperforming and that account for less than 10 percent of our views.”

The DOJ is looking into Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving claims

The rumors of Tesla facing a Justice Department investigation were true. The EV designer has confirmed in an SEC filing that the DOJ has requested documents linked to Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) features. Tesla says that no government body has determined "wrongdoing" as part of an active investigation, but warns that enforcement could have a "material adverse impact" on its business.

Tesla didn't detail the nature of the request, and doesn't usually comment on issues since disbanding its communications team. We've asked the DOJ for comment. However, it comes after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated 35 crashes where Autopilot or FSD was reportedly involved, including collisions with emergency vehicles. California's DMV and other officials have accused Tesla of falsely suggesting that its cars are truly driverless when even FSD frequently requires intervention. The state DMV and the NHTSA are worried Tesla drivers might grow complacent and fail to take evasive action when necessary.

The brand has issued mixed messages on its cars' abilities. While Tesla's support site make clear that Autopilot and FSD don't represent complete autonomy and require a "fully attentive driver," the FSD marketing page claims that you'll only need to "tell your car where to go." Company chief Elon Musk has long promised that true self-driving is just around the corner, but mentioned in October 2022 that Tesla was "not saying it's quite ready" to go driverless. FSD remains in beta, although it's now open to anyone who has paid to unlock the functionality.

The DOJ investigation comes as Tesla and its leadership face mounting scrutiny over their practices. Musk is embroiled in a shareholder lawsuit over his tweets about taking Tesla private. The National Labor Relations Board recently accused Tesla of breaking the law by asking Florida staff to keep quiet about pay and a firing. There are also lingering questions about build quality following a string of recalls. Tesla is facing growing pressure to alter its practices, and potential DOJ charges are just the latest concern.

Why are LED lights the go-to lighting solution of the world?

Image Credits: Sunriu

With technological advancement in the lighting industry, LED lights or light-emitting diodes are driving a lighting revolution and promising a bright future. LED lights are available in smaller sizes, have improved brightness, illuminate a larger area, and have enhanced qualities. In an LED light, when an electric current passes through a semiconductor material, energy is released in photons and transformed into visible light.

Image Credits: Sunriu

Advantages of LED lights

LED lights are becoming a popular substitute for conventional systems like incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs.
Discover why LED lights are a smarter lighting option.

1. Long Lasting

As per studies, the average lifespan of LED lights ranges between 50,000 hours to 100,000 hours. These lights can offer 12 years of continuous lighting and even more if they are occasionally lit. Hence, one LED can nearly replace 25 incandescent lights, which is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint. This results in low maintenance and reduces the hassle of frequently replacing bulbs and tubes.

2. Consumes Less Electricity

LED lights use nearly fifty percent less energy than conventional lighting systems. These lights efficiently operate on low voltage and are, therefore, a perfect solution for solar-enabled outdoor lighting systems. LED lights consume less power and offer substantial savings in recurring electricity bills.

Image Credits: Michal Kantor

3. Available in Numerous Colors

LED lights are primarily available in warm light for warm lighting and cool white for ambient or general lighting ranging between 6000K to 3000K. They are also available in a vast range of colors like red, yellow, green, and amber. Make a note that when LED lights age, they may change their color over a period of time.

4. Energy-efficient

The energy efficiency of LED lights is measured in luminous efficacy or useful lumens or the amount of light that the fixture emits for each unit of power or watt. LED lights are energy-efficient as they convert 80% of electrical energy into light and produce less waste light. On the other hand, incandescent light bulbs are only 20% efficient as 80% of energy gets lost as heat, resulting in higher electricity costs.

5. Cost-effective

From soft lighting to bright lighting, LED lights can be dimmed and provide flexibility in the lighting design. The micro-controllers can dim or brighten the LEDs for light, color and intensity of light. In addition, the lights can be dimmed with hardware made specifically for LED light technology.

Image Credits: Sparkle Lights

6. Ensures Safety

LED lights are safe as they radiate very little heat and are not hot to the touch compared to CFL and incandescent lights. It does not contain hazardous materials like mercury. These lights offer an excellent surface temperature that reduces the risk of burns and does not emit harmful UV or infrared rays.

7. Directional Lighting

As LED lights release a single beam of light, it offers concentrated lighting and does not emit light in all directions. Conventional lights emit light at 360 degrees around the light source, while LEDs emit light at an angle of 180 degrees. Hence, LED lights emit light in a specific direction, do not require reflectors or diffusers to trap rays, and are perfect for recessed downlights and track lights. Also, fewer LED lights are required compared to incandescent lights to achieve the same brightness level. In addition, directional optics reduces light pollution and wasted energy that is usually used to illuminate areas that are not required.

Image Credits: Eureka Lights

8. Instantaneous light

Regular CFL and incandescent lights tend to flicker before they get turned, but LED lights do not require warm-up time. LED lights do not require starters or chokes, as these lights can brighten up immediately when switched on. Frequent switching does not affect its lifespan.

Image Credits: Koncept

Image Credits: Koncept

9. High Color Rendering Index (CRI)

Color Rendering Index (CRI) measures the ability of the light fixture to reveal the natural color of whatever it illuminates under a white light source when compared to sunlight. LED lights have a high color rendering index. When purchasing white LED lights, it is highly recommended to go for a CRI value that is more than 90 as all colors are easily distinguishable.

Image Credits: Aberno

10. Dimmable

From soft lighting to bright lighting, LED lights can be dimmed and provide flexibility in the lighting design. The micro-controllers can dim or brighten the LED’s for light, color and the intensity of light. The lights can be dimmed with hardware made specifically for LED light technology.

Image Credits: White Teak

11. Resists Extreme Temperatures

LEDs are sturdy and can withstand extreme summer heat and cold freezing temperatures. This makes LED lights suitable for cold temperatures, like refrigerators, cold storage and the outdoors.

12. Recyclable

LED lights are made of recyclable glass and aluminum. Unlike conventional incandescent and CFL lights, it does not contain toxic materials like mercury. Each LED light has a heat sink or a heat exchanger that absorbs the thermal energy generated by the LED light and dissipates the energy into the air. Aluminum is the most commonly used material for the heat sink of LED lights.

Image Credit: Huan-Rou Chang

Image Credit: Huan-Rou Chang

Application of LED lights

LED lights fit a wider range of functional and aesthetic applications than what they emit. They are available in various shapes, sizes and types too. These LED lights can be used as light fixtures or spaced out in a linear method. Alongside, LED bulbs are easy to install and can go into existing fittings of light fixtures of incandescent lights.

Industrial and Commercial lights

LED lights make a perfect fit for industrial uses and commercial applications like street lights, garage lights, walkways, outdoor lights and signage.

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is the primary source of light for any space. LED lights in the form of recessed downlights, ceiling-mounted LED lights, pendant lights can be used for the ambient lighting or the overall lighting of the space. Small solar LED lights can be used outdoors and in gardens to provide ambient lighting for pathways.

Image Credit: Curio

Task Lighting

Task lighting is a form of direct lighting that increases the light for specific tasks like reading, cooking, writing, etc. For example, consider table lamps and floor lamps with LED lights for reading, while small and directional strip lights are ideal for undercabinet lighting on kitchen countertops.

Accent Light

Accent lights draw attention to interesting design features like artwork and architectural details. One can incorporate accent lights in the stairs, recessed niches, and accent walls. As LED lights offer focused light dispersal or directional lighting, they function as accent lights that channel brightness to a restricted zone. One can also consider colorful LED lights to accentuate some spaces.
Decorate the outdoors for holidays and festivals with string LED lights, as they consume less electricity and are cooler than incandescent bulbs. Led rope lighting is perfect for outdoor fountains.

Decorative LED Lights

Decorative lighting forms the fourth layer of interior illumination as it doubly functions as a design element. Ceiling fixtures like chandeliers, wall sconces and table lamps offer functional aesthetics.

Smart LED Lights

A Smart bulb is an internet-enabled LED light that can be customized and controlled remotely. In addition, smart LED bulbs eliminate the need for traditional wall switches, as it contains software that connects to an app, home assistant, or another similar accessory.

Image Credit: Postigo Design

Image Credit: Postigo Design

The post Why are LED lights the go-to lighting solution of the world? first appeared on Yanko Design.

SpaceX astronauts will receive the Congressional Space Medal of Honor

Vice President Kamala Harris will today award the Congressional Space Medal of Honor for the first time since 2006. The recipients are Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who became the first astronauts to fly to space on a crewed SpaceX mission in 2020. The pair, who traveled to the International Space Station and stayed there for almost two months, will receive the honor for their bravery.

Hurley and Behnken were part of the first crewed spaceflight from US soil since the last Space Shuttle mission in 2011. They both also flew on the Space Shuttle, and Hurley was on the program's final flight.

Hurley and Behnken's Demo-2 mission was the first crewed flight under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Five other SpaceX crews have since flown to the ISS.

The Congressional Space Medal of Honor is typically given to mark a first in space travel, as The Washington Post notes. Previous recipients include Neil Armstrong, Alan Shepard (the first American to travel to space), John Glenn (the first American in orbit) and Frank Borman (commander of Apollo 8, the first lunar orbit mission). The award was also granted posthumously to the crew of Apollo 1 and those who died aboard the Challenger and Columbia shuttles.

EU vows to get tougher on Big Tech privacy violations

The European Union is eager to crack down on Big Tech's alleged privacy abuses, but the reliance on individual countries to enforce General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules has led to lengthy cases with punishments that are frequently modest. There will soon be pressure to act decisively, however. The European Commission will now require that EU nations share overviews of "large-scale" GDPR investigations every two months. This includes "key procedural steps" and actions taken — national regulators will have to show they're moving forward.

The tougher approach comes after the EU Ombudsman recommended closer monitoring of Big Tech cases that fall under the Irish Data Protection Commission, which regulates Meta and other industry giants. The rights group Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) made a complaint to the Ombudsman accusing Ireland's commission of being too slow and lenient against privacy violations. Just weeks ago, Europe's Data Protection Board forced Ireland to raise a data processing fine against Meta from €28 million to €390 million ($30.4 million to $423.3 million).

As Bloombergobserves, the European Commission is already issuing reports every two years on the overall status of GDPR enforcement. However, it hasn't conducted thorough, frequent reviews of individual countries' privacy regulators. This new requirement will theoretically hold all EU member states accountable if they delay investigations or don't apply the law when necessary. This could include legal repercussions at the European Court of Justice.

Critics might not be happy with the transparency. Ireland and other nations will share their progress on a "strictly confidential basis," according to the Commission. The public might not know if a regulator is mishandling a case unless the EU takes visible action in response. Nonetheless, this may encourage Meta, Amazon, Google and other tech heavyweights to take European privacy laws more seriously — they may see quicker investigations and stiffer fines.

Marshall’s Middleton Bluetooth speaker is the company’s new weatherproof flagship

Marshall already launched a few rugged, weatherproof portable Bluetooth speakers, but so far they’ve been relatively small. That changes today with the launch of the Middleton. It’s still portable enough to chuck into a backpack, but has an IP67 rating, 20+ hours runtime at mid-volume, dual woofers and tweeters pushing out 50-watts of 360-degree sound and moves into the bassier 50hz to 20kHz frequency range. It’s available in black starting today and priced at $300.

The Middleton is being pitched as the new flagship for Marshall’s portable Bluetooth speaker line and rightly so. Aside from the Tufton, which isn’t all that rugged and is significantly bigger, the Middleton is now one of the more powerful portables in the company’s stable. It’s the largest IP67 rated speaker they have on offer, measuring 4.3 x 9 x 3.75 inches, and one of the first to pump out sound from all four sides. It also ditches the rubber port stopper seen on other models, since the company has already waterproofed the components.

As mentioned, the Middleton is rated for more than 20 hours of playtime on a single charge, at low to mid volume of course. I haven't had the chance to test this on full blast for long periods of time, but the charge does seem to hold up well. The speaker has three battery cells totaling 9,600mAh, and you can use the speaker as a USB-C power bank if needed. Also, if your charge is running low while you're jamming out, you can always use it while its charging.

The 360-degree sound is driven by two 15-watt woofers, two 10-watt tweeters and a pair of passive radiators that serve to pump music out of the smaller ends of this chunky rectangle. The output from this four-pound device is respectable and it handles low frequencies well. You also get the trademark Marshall sound that gives you a good dynamic range and provides significant depth to whatever sounds you're vibing on.

Just like the Emberton and Willen, the Middleton has a soft-touch exterior composed of 55-percent post-consumer recycled plastic and is 100-percent PVC free. It also has a carry strap you can easily fit your hand through. On the top, you’ll find onboard controls that provide more hands-on adjustment than its siblings. There’s a Bluetooth button (which doubles as the Stack Mode control) and a multi-use joystick for power on/off, volume control and track selection (forward or back). You also get bass and treble controls, which are a welcome addition and a first for one Marshall’s speakers without physical knobs. The level indicator works in conjunction with most of the above. It displays battery level, but also indicates volume, bass and treble levels all with backlit red lighting.

This speaker is also the biggest model to support Marshall’s Stack Mode feature. You can start a session using the Marshall Bluetooth app and pair with any other Middleton, Emberton II or Willen speakers using a double press of their Bluetooth buttons to join. It helps if you aren’t already paired with speakers joining the session. Like most Bluetooth portables, two (or more) sound much better than one and a double dose of the Middleton sound is a pleasure. The company claims you can pair a good deal of compatible speakers together, having tested up to 60 at one time. I've "stacked" two Middletons, an Emberton II and a Willen which worked well — once I unpaired all but the main speaker from my phone, that is.

For reference, the UE Megaboom 3 ($200) and JBL Charge 5 ($180) are good models for comparison in terms of scale, although they all have unique sound profiles. As usual, this puts the Middleton in a slightly higher price bracket than some others out there in its size, but Marshall products have usually been priced at a slight premium. The excellent sound quality and decent low-end capability definitely makes this model worth checking out.

You can order the Marshall Middleton in black from the company’s website starting today for $300. If you prefer the cream-colored option, you’ll have to wait until around Spring this year.


  • Frequency Range: 50Hz-20kHz

  • Drivers: Two 15-watt woofers, two 3/5-inch tweeters, two passive radiators

  • Amplifiers: Two 20-watt class D amps for the woofers, Two 10-watt class D amps for the tweeters

  • Battery Type: Built-in rechargeable Li-ion 

  • Power Bank: Charge devices from the speaker with USB-C

  • Play Time: 20+ hours

  • Quick Charging: 20 minutes gives you two hours of play

  • Charging Time: 4.5 hours for a complete charge

  • Weatherproof: IP67

  • Aux: 3.5mm input

  • Bluetooth Version: 5.1

  • Range: 30 feet

  • Size: 4.29 x 9.06 x 3.74 inches

  • Weight: 4LBs