Syfy renews Killjoys for two final seasons, but cancels Dark Matter

The Syfy Channel announced today that it will end its science fiction show Killjoys after two additional seasons, the first of which will air next year. At the same time, the network canceled its other space opera show, Dark Matter, which just wrapped up its third season last week.

Killjoys was created by Lost Girl creator Michelle Lovretta, and follows a trio of bounty hunters who work for a guild called the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition (RAC) in a four-world system known as The Quad. The group is led by Dutch (played by Hannah John-Kamen), an experienced RAC Agent with a secret past. She’s joined by the Jaqobis brothers, Johnny and D’avin, as well as an assortment of other characters who live throughout system. The show’s third season finale airs tonight, and the fourth season is set to air at some point in 2018.

Loveretta noted that having 20 episodes to wrap up the story is “the kind of privilege every creator hopes for.” It gives her the opportunity to wrap up the story on her own terms. Over the course of the three seasons that have aired thus far, Killjoys has set up a vibrant, exciting, and complicated world, and knowing that the show’s creators will have the opportunity to close it out is a welcome one.

Image: Syfy Channel

This news is bittersweet: it won’t be joined by the network’s other space opera show, Dark Matter. This is unfortunate, because the show’s creator, Joseph Mallozzi, plotted out a five-season story arc that followed the crew of The Raza. In the show’s first season, they awaken to learn that they’re wanted criminals after losing their memories, and work to figure out their place in the galaxy ruled by megacorporations and warlords. Its cancellation likely means that we won’t get to see what he had in store. It’s eerily reminiscent of the time that Syfy abruptly canceled his other space opera show, Stargate Universe. In a blog post, Mallozzi noted that he was “incredibly disappointed” by the news.

Syfy declined to comment on the cancellation.

What I appreciated the most about both Killjoys and Dark Matter was that they were a throwback to the types of science fiction shows that I really love watching, like Stargate SG-1, Firefly, or Farscape, as opposed to the network’s more serious offerings like Battlestar Galactica or The Expanse. But, while they were lighter in tone than their more prestige-aimed counterparts, both contained their own share of serious subject matter around identity, trauma, and loyalty. While we’ll get to follow one crew to the end, it’s bittersweet, given that the other will be left hanging.

Pioneer’s new DJ headphones are probably over-engineered, but they’re sweat resistant

Pioneer announced three additions to its suite of HDJ over-ear headphones, meant for professional gigging DJs. The new HDJ-X line has three different models — the X10, X7, and X5 — with the X10 named as Pioneer’s new flagship.

While the entire HDJ-X line sports impressive specs, it’s the X10 that’s most noteworthy. With a 50mm driver that can produce sound from 5 Hz up to 40 kHz, the X10 has a wider range than most DJ headphones (which usually top out around 30 kHz). Pioneer also says the headphones are capable of 96 kHz / 24-bit high-resolution audio reproduction when connected with its TOUR1 or NXS2 setups (the latter being more of a standard find at events). While all of that might be useful in a studio setting, it’s doubtful most DJs using the X10s at an insanely loud club or festival (as Pioneer intends) would need or notice this type of fidelity or additional high-end frequencies.

What’s more intriguing from a performance perspective is that the entire HDJ-X line cleared a series of demanding endurance tests, and are built to be knocked around and opened and closed up to 20,000 times. Similar to how SOL Republic marketed its bendable headband, Pioneer’s HDJ-X line seems to be able to withstand the same treatment. (Not that you’d actually twist it around like this, but headphone durability is important for a touring DJ.)

Pioneer HDJ-X headphonesPioneer HDJ-X headphones
Pioneer HDJ-X headphones.
Photo: Pioneer

Also interesting to note: the X10 model has nano coating on the leather ear pads and headband cushion, making them resistant to “deterioration” (i.e., nasty ass gig sweat). Pioneer says they’re the first headphones in the world to have this. Unfortunately, the nano coating isn’t available across the HDJ-X fleet, but it’s a fantastic little feature, so it should be. The X10 also has a detachable mini-XLR connector, comes with a flat carrying case, and has two detachable cables: a 1.2-meter coiled cable, and a 1.6-meter straight cable that both have L-type mini jack connections.

Outside of the X10, the mid-tier X7 is designed to provide the same experience as Pioneer’s HDJ-2000MK2 headphones and has a newly developed 50mm driver with a frequency range of 5 Hz to 30 kHz. The budget X5 has 40mm drivers and mimics the look and feel of the other HDJ-X models, also topping out at 30 kHz. All the HDJ-X headphones will be available in black and silver, feature swivel mechanisms, detachable cables, and to some degree, replaceable parts.

Pioneer’s new HDJ-X line will be available in mid-September with the HDJ-X10 priced at $349, the HDJ-X7 at $199, and the HDJ-X5 at $99.

An Instagram hack hit millions of accounts, and victims’ phone numbers are now for sale

A bug that exposed users’ contact information affected a far greater number of accounts than Instagram originally said. The bug, which appears to have been responsible for Selena Gomez’s account being hacked this week, allowed hackers to scrape email addresses and contact information for millions of accounts, Instagram said today. (It has since been fixed.) While the company first said the hack was limited to holders of verified accounts, it said today that non-verified users had been affected as well.

Hours after the hack was disclosed, hackers established a searchable database named Doxagram allowing users to search for victims’ contact information for $10 per search. The hacker provided a list of 1,000 accounts they said were available for searching on Doxagram to the Daily Beast, and the list included most of the 50 most-followed accounts on the service. Instagram still will not say how many accounts were affected, other than that it is a “low percentage of Instagram accounts.” There are more than 700 million active Instagram accounts; hackers say they have information on file for 6 million users. Users’ passwords were not exposed in the hack, Instagram said.

As of 5:50 p.m. Friday, Doxagram was offline. It was unclear how or when it might come back. Instagram would not comment on whether it had sought to have the site shut down.

But even with the site shut down, contact information for dozens of celebrities now appears to be floating around on the dark web. A cybersecurity firm named RepKnight said it found what purported to be contact information for celebrities including:

  • Actors: Emma Watson, Emilia Clarke, Zac Efron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Channing Tatum.
  • Musicians: Harry Styles, Ellie Goulding, Victoria Beckham, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Adele, Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears.
  • Athletes: Floyd Mayweather, Zinedine Zidane, Neymar, David Beckham, Ronaldinho.

For celebrities and other high-profile users, the hack could mean having to change a phone number, email address, or both. But it can also be used along with social engineering techniques to gain access to the account itself. That seems to be what happened to Gomez, Instagram’s most-followed user. Her account was briefly taken down Monday after it was used to post nude photographs of Justin Bieber, her ex-boyfriend.

Today’s news is troubling on at least two fronts. One, average Instagram users may be at risk of hacking. Two, Instagram says it does not know which accounts were affected. “After additional analysis, we have determined that this issue potentially impacted some non-verified accounts as well,” Instagram co-founder and chief technical officer Mike Krieger said in a blog post. “Although we cannot determine which specific accounts may have been impacted, we believe it was a low percentage of Instagram accounts.”

The company also said it is “working with law enforcement” to combat the sale of stolen information. “We encourage people to be vigilant about the security of their account and exercise caution if they encounter any suspicious activity such as unrecognized incoming calls, texts and emails,” Krieger said. “The safety and security of our community are important to us, and we are very sorry this happened.”

Update, 6:08 p.m. Updated with information about celebrities that appear to have been affected by the hack.

T-Mobile is offering a buy one, get one free sale on the Note 8 — with a few caveats

There’s no way around the fact that at around $930, Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 8 is an expensive phone. But if you’re a T-Mobile customer looking to pick up Samsung’s latest flagship, you might be able to get a second phone free — if you meet T-Mobile’s very specific set of requirements to qualify for the deal.

Here’s what you need to do to qualify: the promo requires you preorder two Galaxy Note 8s from T-Mobile through its equipment installment plan, which requires a $210 deposit for each device, for a total $420 down payment upfront. Then, you must sign up for a new line of service to activate on the second device. This will qualify you to receive a rebate for the cost of the second device, meaning you will still have to pay for the entire thing but will get a check refunding the cost at a later date. It costs $30 a month for each Note 8, which you’ll owe T-Mobile for 24 months.

And lest you think that you can just activate a new line, grab your free phone, and run, T-Mobile is being very clear upfront that early cancellation will result in you getting billed the full price of the second phone.

Still, if you’re planning on getting a Note 8 and have someone else who’d like to join up on your T-Mobile plan, it’s hard to call a discounted $930 smartphone a bad deal.

Peek inside the Steve Jobs Theater ahead of Apple’s iPhone 8 event

Up until now, we’ve only been able to see renderings and above-ground images / video of Apple Park’s Steve Jobs Theater, but thanks to a tipster and Mac Magazine, some images of the theater’s interior under construction have been posted online.

The 1,000-seat theater sits outside of Apple Park’s main ring on a hill that overlooks the main campus. Since it sits mostly underground, what the theatre looks like inside has largely remained a mystery. But, these construction images give a better idea of what to expect at Apple’s iPhone 8 event on September 12th.

Granted, with everything covered in plastic and things like temporary railings in place, it’s hard to tell what the final product will look like. The layout, though, does mirror what Neil Cybart posted on Twitter a few days ago, as 9to5Mac points out. The exhibit space sits in the center of the two-story lobby, with staircases wrapping around each side. Upon walking down, it then feeds into the auditorium, which has stadium seating. The theater appears to have a generous amount of light wood surfaces, though, again, it remains to be seen what the actual finishes will be.

Originally envisioned by Steve Jobs, the entirety of Apple Park has 2.8 million square feet of space, most of which is devoted to green space. When it is opened, the campus will feature, among other things, an R&D facility, on-site Apple store, two miles of running and hiking paths, and will have one of the largest solar energy installations in the world.

Acer announces two 360-degree cameras

Acer is joining the 360-degree video craze with two new cameras, including one designed for your car. The Acer Holo360 is smartphone-sized 360-degree camera powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. The LTE-connected camera comes with a 3-inch display and can capture 4K 360-degree videos. It also runs Android 7.1, making it easy for users to share their videos over social media.

The other camera Acer announced is the Vision360, a camera designed as a high-end dash cam. The Vision360 is designed to film every angle of your car during a collision in 4K, and then upload that footage to the cloud with GPS coordinates and your speed. If your car is stationary and is hit (say in a parking lot) the Vision360 will activate, record a clip, and send your phone a notification, a far better solution than a simple dash cam especially if your vehicle gets hit from behind.

Acer Vision360
Photo: Acer

The Vision360 also supports remote viewing and location tracking (to help you find your car in the parking lot), and users will be able to watch footage back through Acer’s VR headset.

The Holo360 will retail for $429 when it’s released in November, and the Vision360 will come in at €349 ($414) when it’s released later this year in Europe.

Huawei spills an eye-searing shade of blue on the Honor 9

Honor is releasing its Honor 9 phone in a new “robin egg blue” shade. The turquoise is certainly unique, although I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing. We all want our phones to stand out, but this blue makes my eyes hurt a little bit? It’s just so bright and so turquoise. I want to put it in an Easter basket. It shouldn’t leave the Easter basket.

Maybe you’re into the pastel trend, though, and are ready to fully commit to that lifestyle, in which case, this is probably a good color for you. The limited edition release went on sale in China on August 16th. It’ll be coming to the UK in mid-September for £459.99.

Honor

The affordability makes sense given that the phone only features a 5.15-inch Full HD display and includes a Kirin 960 processor instead of one from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line. It also has a dual rear-facing camera system, although that’s quickly becoming a budget phone option.

Juicero, maker of the doomed $400 internet-connected juicer, is shutting down

Juicero, the company that made its name by creating a proprietary juice-squeezing machine, is shutting down. The announcement comes from Juicero’s website. In its post, the company writes that it is suspending the sale of both its juice packets and its Juicero Press device. The last juice packet delivery will occur next week. All customers have up to 90 days to request a refund for their purchase of the Juicero Press, regardless of when they bought it. Fortune reports that employees are being given 60 days notice.

So it’s time to say goodbye to Juicero, although we only knew its product for 16 months. The founder of Organic Avenue (a now-bankrupt restaurant chain), Doug Evans, introduced the device in March 2016. At the time, we scoffed at the fact that it cost $699 and required proprietary juice packs. Then in April 2017, Bloomberg published a piece that likely doomed the company to fail. Reporters found that the company’s packs of fruits and vegetables didn’t require the actual Juicero machine, but were instead squeezeable by hand. Basically, the pricey machine was completely useless, which wasn’t a great look for the company.

After that PR catastrophe, Juicero said it hoped to eventually cut the cost of its machine to around $200. It also laid off 25 percent of its staff and offered full refunds, but that appears to not have been sufficient to keep the business afloat. Juicero fell fast. I just hope the bodegas can get a refund.

Juicero is now a bodega amenity pic.twitter.com/zFpJRSbaPp

— Ashley Carman (@ashleyrcarman) August 5, 2017

Correction Sept. 1, 3:35 PM ET: Updated to correct an earlier error on the machine’s price cut. The company planned to drop the price of a second-generation device to $200.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm is fan service at its finest

Life is Strange didn’t need a prequel. Dontnod Entertainment’s time-traveling teen drama was a breakout hit when it launched in 2015, but the developer has been clear that it did not want to return to the story of Max Caulfield and Chloe Price. And so, Life is Strange: Before the Storm — a three-episode arc focusing on a younger Chloe — felt unnecessary.

But Colorado-based developer Deck Nine’s take on Dontnod’s world is anything but disingenuous. It’s not a return to form for the series, either. Instead, it’s a celebration of the fandom Life is Strange has inspired.

Before the Storm is set three years prior to the events of Life is Strange. Max Caulfield — the time-rewinding heroine of the first game — is an absent figure in Chloe’s life. She appears only in texts and unsent letters. Chloe, still grieving the death of her father, is as uncouth and rebellious as ever. She sneaks into concerts and mouths off to authority figures, eventually befriending a popular classmate by the name of Rachel Amber. Episode 1 of Before the Storm, “Awake,” treats burgeoning relationship between these two as its focal point. It lays the tracks for the foundational mystery that drives Life is Strange — a story in which Rachel has gone missing with no clues to her whereabouts.

The first episode is slow to start. Its heavy-handed spotlight on Chloe’s relationship with her mom, Joyce, and Joyce’s new boyfriend, feels like a redundant recap of the first season. It’s an introduction to their dynamic for new players and a reminder for those returning, but nothing about Chloe’s home life feels especially novel for a teenager. The series’s rewinding powers have been replaced with a far more appropriate option for Chloe, a “Backtalk” conversation mode that feels more authentic to her character. Players can choose to verbally spar by rapidly selecting comebacks. This mode appears just enough to not overstay its welcome, and adds a small challenge for players trying to get their way in sticky situations.

Deck Nine effectively captures the spirit of Life is Strange with some notable improvements. The dialogue can still be awkward at times, but it feels more in-line with the clunky nature of teenagers themselves. (Even Chloe’s signature “hella” is explained in a way that makes it credible as a catchphrase.) And one-off lines to pop culture staples like Blade Runner or Lord of the Rings add a distinctly teenage flavor that the first season sometimes lacked. There’s even an entire D&D sequence players can participate in, if they so choose.

Like its source material, Before the Storm is strongest when it explores the relationships between its young heroines. Chloe and Rachel have instant chemistry. The game doesn’t dance around potential romance, leaving fans to guess, like Life is Strange did. It’s direct. It makes Chloe and Rachel’s immediate trust and affection for one another not just convincing, but exciting. Rachel is a perfect complement to Chloe’s headstrong and crass nature: charming but unpredictable, collected but with a wild streak. Players may have control of Chloe, but Rachel is the real star of this story. The impulsive nature that makes her fun and engaging also makes her seem destined for tragedy, a step that foreshadows her eventual disappearance.

Deck Nine understands what made Dontnod’s story so exciting, and it delivers on that experience with an eye on the series’s biggest supporters. Life is Strange emphasized choice and consequence, but its real strength was its focus on the relationship between Max and Chloe, and the dreamy, nostalgia-drenched world it introduced. Life is Strange: Before the Storm hits those same notes in exactly the right ways. The way Deck Nine celebrates the budding romance between Chloe and Rachel is so clear-cut that it feels revelatory. It’s an excessive game at times, but it’s done in a way that feels affectionate. It’s fan art in motion.

The first episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

A BB-9E teardown only the dark side could enjoy

Yesterday, Star Wars fans were blessed with the reveal of new toys and gadgets, including this glorious Lego Millennium Falcon as part of Force Friday II. Today, the folks at manufacturing platform Fictiv have decided to tear some apart. One of their victims is the mysterious black BB-9E droid toy robot from the upcoming film The Last Jedi.

The BB-9E is made by robotics company Sphero, and is similar to their BB-8 toy released in 2015. The Fictiv team decided to focus on two main parts in the teardown; the droid’s head and the weight compensation feature in BB-9E’s torso.

The head has red and blue lights for its eye and two panels. Fictiv said the head, which kinda resembles Darth Vader’s iconic helmet, had to be completely re-engineered from the BB-8 design, which did not have any lights and contained only magnets. BB-9E’s head is comprised of two LEDs and a light guide.

BB-9E’s head is magnetically attached to its body, and the bottom half of its head contains copper windings. The lights in the head are powered via induction. The induction coils make BB-9E more top heavy than BB-8, so Sphero engineers had to add a cast zinc counterweight to the bottom to compensate for that extra mass. The receiver coils are in the head, while the transmitter coils are in the body section of the droid.

BB-9E looks like the Dark Side version of BB-8,but there’s been no clue as to what role (roll?) the black doppelgänger will play. If you’re interested, the Fictiv team also tore apart an R2-D2.