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Microsoft’s first Xbox Series X commercial features a lot of Halo

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Microsoft is launching its marketing campaign for its next-gen Xbox Series X and Series S consoles today. The theme of the first TV commercial expands on the “power your dreams” tagline that Microsoft originally used to unveil the Xbox Series X onstage at the Game Awards back in December.

The minute-long spot features British actor Daniel Kaluuya, known for his roles in Get Out and Black Panther. It also prominently features Halo imagery, despite the delay of Halo Infinite that was originally intended to be a launch game for the Xbox Series X and Series S. Microsoft is now planning to debut this TV commercial during the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks game on Sunday night.


Microsoft’s new Xbox TV ad.

Microsoft’s first Xbox Series X and Series S TV commercial comes nearly two months after Sony kicked off its own PS5 marketing campaign. Sony opted to focus on the 3D audio support and the PS5’s DualSense controller’s support for haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.

The Xbox Series X will now go on sale on November 10th, priced at $499, alongside the smaller and less powerful Xbox Series S console, priced at $299.

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Intel is selling its SSD business for $9 billion, but keeping Optane

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Intel is selling its SSD business to SK Hynix in a deal worth $9 billion, which will see the chipmaker almost completely exit the flash memory and storage business — except for Intel’s high-end Optane memory technology, which it’ll still be hanging onto. The deal includes Intel’s former NAND SSD, component, and wafer businesses, along with the company’s NAND factory in Dalian, China.

“For Intel, this transaction will allow us to further prioritize our investments in differentiated technology where we can play a bigger role in the success of our customers and deliver attractive returns to our stockholders,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan.

It’ll be some time until the deal actually takes place: the two companies are starting to get governmental approval for the purchase, which they don’t expect to get until “late 2021.” Until that happens, Intel will still continue to make NAND products at the Dalian factory and keep all its IP rights.

The move marks the latest consolidation for Intel, which has continued to focus further on its core chipmaking and data center businesses in recent months. Intel also recently sold its 5G modem business to Apple last year in a deal worth $1 billion.

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Apple HomePod update brings Intercom and other new features

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Apple HomePod owners, starting today, will be able to use the newly announced “Intercom” feature to send messages between their HomePod smart speakers. The feature, which arrives via a software update, brings this and several other new features to Apple’s smart speakers, including those introduced at Apple’s event last week where the company debuted its $99 HomePod mini.

Of these, Intercom is the most notable update, as it helps the HomePod catch up to rival smart speakers, like those from Apple and Google, which have offered similar broadcast messaging systems for years.

But in Apple’s case, Intercom doesn’t just send a user’s voice message — like “dinner’s ready!” or “time to go!” — across the family’s HomePod speakers. It’s also meant to work across Apple’s device ecosystem, by adding support for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and even AirPods and CarPlay.

This could be a competitive advantage for HomePod, particularly because Amazon — which leads the U.S. market with its affordable Echo devices — no longer has its own smartphone business.

However, Apple says Intercom’s expanded support for other devices isn’t being rolled out today. Instead, it will arrive through further software updates later this year.

To use Intercom, HomePod owners with multiple devices can say things like:

“Hey Siri, Intercom, Has anyone seen my glasses?”

“Hey Siri, tell everyone, Dinner is ready.”

“Hey Siri, Intercom to the kitchen, Has the game started?”

And to reply, users can say something like “Hey Siri, reply, Yes.”

In addition to the new support for Intercom, the software update also introduces deeper integration with Apple Maps and iPhone, the ability to set and stop timers and alarms from any HomePod, the ability to continue listening to a podcast with multiuser support, and more.

The deeper integration means HomePod owners can now ask Siri for information about traffic conditions, as well as nearby restaurants and businesses. A Siri suggestion will then automatically appears in Maps on your iPhone so the route is available as soon as you get in the car.

HomePod owners can also now ask Siri to search the web, which then sends results to the iPhone.

Two other new features will arrive later this year, including the ability to connect one HomePod (or more) to Apple TV 4K for stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 surround, and Dolby Atmos for movies, TV, games and more.

The other upcoming feature, called Personal Update, will soon let you ask Siri “what’s my update” or “play my update,” to get all the info you need to start your day, including news, weather, calendar events, and any reminders.

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Now may be the best time to become a full-stack developer

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In the world of software development, one term you’re sure to hear a lot of is full-stack development. Job recruiters are constantly posting open positions for full-stack developers and the industry is abuzz with this in-demand title.

But what does full-stack actually mean?

Simply put, it’s the development on the client-side (front end) and the server-side (back end) of software. Full-stack developers are jacks of all trades as they work with the design aspect of software the client interacts with as well as the coding and structuring of the server end.

In a time when technological requirements are rapidly evolving and companies may not be able to afford a full team of developers, software developers that know both the front end and back end are essential.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the ability to do full-stack development can make engineers extremely marketable as companies across all industries migrate their businesses to a virtual world. Those who can quickly develop and deliver software projects thanks to full-stack methods have the best shot to be at the top of a company’s or client’s wish list.

Becoming a full-stack developer

So how can you become a full-stack engineer and what are the expectations? In most working environments, you won’t be expected to have absolute expertise on every single platform or language. However, it will be presumed that you know enough to understand and can solve problems on both ends of software development.

Most commonly, full-stack developers are familiar with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and back-end languages like Ruby, PHP, or Python. This matches up with the expectations of new hires as well, as you’ll notice a lot of openings for full-stack developer jobs require specialization in more than one back-end program.

Full-stack is becoming the default way to develop, so much so that some in the software engineering community argue whether or not the term is redundant. As the lines between the front end and back end blur with evolving tech, developers are now being expected to work more frequently on all aspects of the software. However, developers will likely have one specialty where they excel while being good in other areas and a novice at some things….and that’s OK.

Getting into full-stack though means you should concentrate on finding your niche within the particular front-end and back-end programs you want to work with. One practical and common approach is to learn JavaScript since it covers both front and back end capabilities. You’ll also want to get comfortable with databases, version control, and security. In addition, it’s smart to prioritize design since you’ll be working on the client-facing side of things.

Since full-stack developers can communicate with each side of a development team, they’re invaluable to saving time and avoiding confusion on a project.

One common argument against full stack is that, in theory, developers who can do everything may not do one thing at an expert level. But there’s no hard or fast rule saying you can’t be a master at coding and also learn front-end techniques or vice versa.

Choosing between full-stack and DevOps

One hold up you may have before diving into full-stack is you’re also mulling over the option to become a DevOps engineer. There are certainly similarities among both professions, including good salaries and the ultimate goal of producing software as quickly as possible without errors.  As with full-stack developers, DevOps engineers are also becoming more in demand because of the flexibility they offer a company.

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