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Google’s ‘Hold for Me’ Assistant feature appears first on new Pixel phones

Google’s ‘Hold for Me’ Assistant feature appears first on new Pixel phones

When the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G arrive, they’ll include an early preview of Google’s new feature for the Phone app, the Duplex-powered “Hold for Me.” Mentioned during the Launch Night presentation and explained in a blog post, it lets Google Assistant wait around and wait for someone to pick up when a business is keeping you on hold.



— Made By Google (@madebygoogle) September 30, 2020


It follows Call Screen and Verified Calls as new features that use Assistant to make phone calls less annoying, and repurposes the Duplex developments to let AI detect hold music and produce a notification once someone actually picks up. According to Google, you’ll see captions produced in real-time on your phone’s screen to let you know what’s happening, as Duplex can tell when it’s picking up a recorded message vs. a live representative.





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Anthony Davis, Lakers take Game 1 of NBA Finals over hobbled Heat

Anthony Davis, Lakers take Game 1 of NBA Finals over hobbled Heat

The old saying in basketball goes – you live by the three and you die by the three. The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat took note of that Wednesday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The Lakers defeated the Heat, 116-98, to take an early series lead.


Los Angeles led by as much as 32 points during the game. Miami gave the Lakers a tiny scare in the final quarter, cutting the lead down to 12 points but Los Angele was ultimately able to prevail.

Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) led all scorers with 32 points. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Anthony Davis led the way with 34 points, nine rebounds and five assists. LeBron James nearly got another triple-double. He finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.

It was the three-point shooting that was the key. Los Angeles at one point was 13-for-20 from beyond the arc. They finished 15-for-38 as they began to take their foot off the gas pedal. On the other side, Miami was 11-for-35 from deep.


Miami didn’t get much from its young players like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Herro had 14 points in 30 minutes off the bench. Robinson was 0-for-3 from deep. Those were the only shots he took.

Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler twisted his ankle in the game. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Heat also got hit with the injury bug. Goran Dragic left the game with what was being called a foot injury. Bam Adebayo left in the third quarter with a shoulder strain and Jimmy Butler twisted his ankle and wasn’t the same. He finished with 23 points – leading the Heat.

Los Angeles takes a 1-0 series lead.


The two teams face-off again Friday at 9 p.m. ET.

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After lengthy delays, ULA’s most powerful rocket poised to launch classified spy satellite

After lengthy delays, ULA’s most powerful rocket poised to launch classified spy satellite

After many weeks of delays due to faulty equipment and bad weather, the United Launch Alliance is set to launch its most powerful rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, lofting a classified spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. The mission is finally ready to fly a full month after the rocket’s first launch attempt, which was aborted just three seconds before liftoff.

The rocket going up on ULA’s mission is the Delta IV Heavy, a giant vehicle that consists of three rocket cores strapped together to provide extra thrust. It’s one of the most powerful rockets in the world, though it falls short of the power packed into SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. ULA doesn’t fly the Delta IV Heavy very often, as it’s an expensive vehicle to make, but the company uses the rocket for large, heavy satellites headed to super-high orbits.

The rocket’s payload is NROL-44, and like all NRO missions, its purpose is cloaked in secrecy. The office simply notes that “NROL-44 supports NRO’s overall national security mission to provide intelligence data to the United States’ senior policymakers, the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense.” ULA has already launched 29 missions for the NRO, many of which have required the Delta IV Heavy.

ULA was all set to launch NROL-44 in the wee hours of the morning on August 29th. ULA counted all the way down to just seconds before liftoff, with the Delta IV Heavy’s main engines briefly igniting. But the engines quickly shut off and the rocket remained fixed on the launchpad. ULA later learned a piece of ground equipment had failed, prompting the abort. It took the company a few weeks to replace the faulty equipment.

Further problems with equipment on the launchpad pushed back the launch time again, but ULA is hoping to get off the ground this week. Unfortunately the weather has not been agreeable, with bad conditions delaying attempts on Monday and Tuesday. But at last, there’s a 70 percent chance that the weather will cooperate for launch tonight — so perhaps today is the day.

The Delta IV Heavy is scheduled to lift off on Tuesday at 11:54PM ET from ULA’s launch site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. ULA’s launch blog will begin at 3:15PM ET, and its webcast will begin at 11:34PM ET, for anyone who is still awake and hoping to catch a midnight launch.

Update September 30th, 3:00PM ET: This post has been updated from an older post, after multiple launch delays.

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Neanderthal genes may be to blame in some severe coronavirus cases

Neanderthal genes may be to blame in some severe coronavirus cases

(CNN)Genes inherited from Neanderthal ancestors may be involved in some cases of severe Covid-19disease, researchers in Germany reported Wednesday.
A team of experts on Neanderthal genetics examined…
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Watch ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Moderate Presidential Debate in ‘We’re All Doomed’ Video

Watch ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Moderate Presidential Debate in ‘We’re All Doomed’ Video

“Weird Al” Yankovic teamed up with the Gregory Brothers for a comedic musical take on Tuesday night’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden with their video for the song “We’re All D…
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Top Filmmakers Warn Congress That Movie Theaters Face Extinction


6:47 PM PDT 9/30/2020


Pamela McClintock

Getty Images

Barry Jenkins; Lulu Wang; Clint Eastwood

“Cinemas are an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. But now we fear for their future,” reads a letter sent to Capitol Hill lawmakers asking for additional pandemic relief.

Dozens of influential filmmakers on Wednesday joined the National Association of Theatre Owners, the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association in urging Congress to provide assistance to struggling theater owners impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Together, they warned that many cinemas may not otherwise survive. The vast majority of exhibition companies — or 93 percent — weathered losses of 75 percent in the second quarter of 2020 after moviegoing came to a standstill in mid-March.

If this trend continues, NATO is warning that 69 percent of small- and mid-sized movie theaters will be forced to file for bankruptcy or close permanently, while 66 percent of theater jobs will be lost.

“I am extraordinarily grateful for the unprecedented support from our industry partners and the talented and concerned members of the movie industry creative community,” NATO president-CEO John Fithian said in a statement. “The value of their recognition of the unique importance of movie theaters to our communities, culture, and economy, and their support before Congress of the unique needs of movie theaters in this pandemic cannot be underestimated.”

The letter itself — which was addressed to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy — asked that Capitol Hill lawmakers work in a bipartisan fashion to redirect unallocated funds from the CARES Act, or authorize new assistance programs for those businesses which have suffered the steepest revenue drops as a result of COVID-19.

“Cinemas are an essential industry that represent the best that American talent and creativity have to offer. But now we fear for their future,” states the document. “Our country cannot afford to lose the social, economic, and cultural value that theaters provide. The moviegoing experience is central to American life. Theaters are great unifiers where our nation’s most talented storytellers showcase their cinematic accomplishments.”

Continuing, the letter noted that theaters “supports millions of jobs in movie production and distribution, and countless others in surrounding restaurants and retailers that rely on theaters for foot traffic. Movie theaters are also leaders in employing underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities, senior citizens, and first-time job holders.”

Below are the directors, writers and producers signing the document.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Agustin Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar

Wes Anderson

Judd Apatow

Jon Avnet

Sean Baker

Noah Baumbach

Michael Bay

Susanne Bier

Barbara Broccoli

James Cameron

Antonio Campos

Damien Chazelle

Jon M. Chu

Sofia Coppola Alfonso Cuarón

Lee Daniels

Dean Devlin

Clint Eastwood

Andrew Erwin

Jon Erwin

Paul Feig

Shana Feste

Scott Frank

Cary Joji Fukunaga

Greta Gerwig

Evan Goldberg

Paul Greengrass

Leslie Greif

Luca Guadagnino

Catherine Hardwicke

Alma Har’el

Albert Hughes

Allen Hughes

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu

Barry Jenkins

Patty Jenkins

Rian Johnson

Miranda July

Nicole Kassell

Jon Landau

Francis Lawrence

Mimi Leder

Ang Lee

Rob Letterman

Shawn Levy

Richard Linklater

James Mangold

Sam Mendes

Adam McKay

Steve McQueen

Ted Melfi

Reed Morano

Christopher Nolan

David O. Russell

Jordan Peele

Todd Phillips

Guy Ritchie

Seth Rogen

Joachim Rønning

Michael R. Roskam

Martin Scorsese

M. Night Shyamalan

Zack Snyder

Steven Soderbergh

Joey Soloway

David E. Talbert

Betty Thomas

Emma Thomas

Liesl Tommy

Denis Villeneuve

Taika Waititi

James Wan

Lulu Wang

Chris Weitz

Paul Weitz

Michael G. Wilson

Edgar Wright

Joe Wright

Cathy Yan

David Yates

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A judge has approved an $800 million settlement for victims of the Las Vegas shooting

A judge has approved an $800 million settlement for victims of the Las Vegas shooting

A judge has approved an $800 million settlement for victims of the Las Vegas shooting – CNN
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Chromecast Ultra is dead, long live Chromecast Ultra (and this new Ethernet dongle)

Chromecast Ultra is dead, long live Chromecast Ultra (and this new Ethernet dongle)

Google’s new $50 “Chromecast with Google TV” has supplanted the Chromecast Ultra in practically every way — so you probably won’t be surprised to hear Google is getting rid of its original 4K streaming device. The Chromecast Ultra is now out of stock at every major US retailer, including the Google Store, where its product page redirects to the new Chromecast.

It’s not formally “discontinued,” mind you: Google says it will still be available at “select retailers,” even though we’re seeing no stock at Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, The Home Depot, Staples, etc., and even though B&H Photo actually lists it as “discontinued” right now.

But there is still one way to buy one — because when Google announced its 2020 Chromecast, the new product seemingly left a couple of gaping holes.

As we reported earlier today, the new Chromecast won’t support Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service until sometime in the first half of next year. What are those buyers to do? They can still purchase the $99.99 Stadia Premiere Edition, which Google confirms will still come with a Chromecast Ultra alongside its Stadia controller.

The new “Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast with Google TV.”
Image: Google

For some households (and for the best performance with Stadia), the fact that the new Chromecast doesn’t come with an Ethernet adapter like the Chromecast Ultra might also seem like an oversight, but Google has an answer for them too: it quietly launched a $20 Ethernet plus power adapter for the new Chromecast today.

At $50 for the Chromecast and $20 for the new adapter, you’d be paying the same $70 you would for the Ultra previously. Like the Chromecast Ultra adapter, it tops out at a 100Mbps wired connection, but neither Stadia nor today’s streaming video services need more. (You may also be able to use a USB-C to Ethernet hub for your new Chromecast; we found at least one that worked.)

It’s not like Stadia buyers would want a Chromecast Ultra without a Stadia controller anyhow. The original Ultra didn’t have Bluetooth, and Google’s proprietary Wi-Fi based controller is the only way to connect. That’s not a problem with the new Chromecast, as we discovered when we played some sideloaded Stadia with an Xbox gamepad.

9to5Google reports the $30 2018 Chromecast will stick around alongside the new $50 one, by the way. You won’t get a bundled remote control or 4K streaming with that one, though, merely 1080p content you sling from your phone.

Update, 5:13 PM ET: Added that the new Ethernet adapter is of the 10/100Mbps variety, just like the original Chromecast Ultra’s bundled one.

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MLB playoffs: Schedule, scores for Wednesday’s eight-game postseason bonanza

MLB playoffs: Schedule, scores for Wednesday’s eight-game postseason bonanza

The 2020 Major League Baseball postseason continues Wednesday with a packed eight-game schedule in the best-of-three Wild Card Series. There are four games in both the American League and National League sides of the bracket, and four AL teams are trying to advance to the divisional round.

Because all of the Wild Card Series games are being played at the ballparks of higher-seeded teams, there will be no days off during these rounds. Here’s the full schedule for the best-of-three Wild Card Series on Wednesday. Games on ESPN and ESPN2 can be streamed via fuboTV (Try for free).

Wild Card Series schedule for Wednesday

(All times are U.S/Eastern)

Now, here are some takeaways from the day’s action:

Astros knock out Twins 

The No. 3 seed Twins saw their postseason nightmares continue this week. With the 3-1 loss to the Astros in Game 2, the Twins extended their record MLB playoff losing streak to 18 games and were knocked out of the postseason in the process. The devastating streak dates back to the 2004 ALDS, and is the longest in North American sports history. Houston, the team with the worst regular season record (29-31) in the playoff field, knocked out Minnesota in two games at Target Field. 

Aside from the fact the the Twins were simply a far better team than the Astros during the regular season, the Twins also held a 24-7 (.774) record when playing at home. Furthermore, the Astros had been terrible when playing on the road during the regular season, compiling an atrocious 9-23 (.281) record on the road. The Twins home record was the highest win percentage since the 1975 Reds, while the Astros away record is the worst road winning percentage by a playoff team in the World Series era.

Frustrations piled up for the Twins in Wednesday’s elimination game when the Twins’ offense went ice cold. Altogether in the two Wild Card Series games, the Twins lineup managed just seven hits and two runs. Minnesota’s usually hot bats going quiet during the postseason isn’t a new storyline. The last time the Twins scored more than four runs in a playoff game was when they scored five runs in a loss to the Yankees on Oct. 9, 2004.

Braves only need one

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman secured a 1-0 victory with a walk-off single in the 13th inning of Atlanta’s series opener against the Reds on Wednesday. Freeman’s knock was just the sixth of the day for a Braves team that reached base six fewer times than the Reds did.

What everyone will remember about Game 1 was how dominant the pitching was for both teams. The Braves were paced by left-hander Max Fried, who struck out five over seven shutout frames. Atlanta then received three-plus perfect frames from relievers Chris Martin, Will Smith, and Mark Melancon before turning things over to the rest of the bullpen. Darren O’Day, Tyler Matzek, Shane Greene, and A.J. Minter bent but didn’t break by putting on eight baserunners and stranding them all across 2 2/3 shutout frames.

The Reds arguably outpitched the Braves. Trevor Bauer struck out 12 and allowed just two hits in 7 2/3 innings. Raisel Iglesias, Lucas Sims, and Michael Lorenzen then combined to strike out nine batters and gave up a hit and two walks over four-plus innings. Archie Bradley and Amir Garrett couldn’t keep the good times rolling with no margin for error, however. Every starter on both teams struck out at least once, resulting in a record 37 punch outs. As our Mike Axisa noted elsewhere, the Braves and Reds also set a record for the longest scoreless playoff game. It was just that kind of afternoon.

Yankees-Cleveland Game 2

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.56 ERA) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-4, 2.91 ERA)

Game 1 was touted as the best pitching duel of the season with Gerrit Cole facing Shane Bieber, but instead, resulted in the Yankees offense blowing out Cleveland. It’s possible that Game 2 could make up for the nonexistent pitching battle, with Tanaka and Carrasco set to take the mound in a potential elimination game for Cleveland. Tanaka has been lights-out in the postseason, and the veteran owns a 1.76 ERA with 37 strikeouts in eight playoff starts.

Brewers-Dodgers Game 1

LHP Brent Suter (2-0, 3.13 ERA) vs. RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.44 ERA)

Milwaukee has decided to go with a bullpen game in the Wild Card Series opener. Suter and his fellow bullpenners will face the best offense in baseball.

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Oct. 31, 2020: Astronauts to Launch on NASA and SpaceX Crew-1 Mission


Oct. 31, 2020: Astronauts to Launch on NASA and SpaceX Crew-1 Mission – YouTube

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