Personal Finance – Lifestyle

Google engineers modded a PlayStation Portal to emulate PSP games

The PlayStation Portal has turned out to be a bit of a surprise hit for Sony. The portable peripheral is often out of stock and hard to come by, even though it does just one thing: stream games from your own PlayStation 5. The device does not run games locally — unless you find a way to modify it to do so.

Two Google engineers claim to have done just that by getting PPSSPP, a PlayStation Portable emulator, to work natively on the Portal. A photo shows Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories running on the system. Andy Nguyen, one of the engineers, says that no hardware modifications were required to make the emulator run and that the project took “more than a month of hard work” to see through.

Nguyen has discovered PS4 and PS5 exploits in the past, as The Verge notes. It’s not yet clear whether Nguyen will detail how to get PPSSPP working or release a jailbreak so that other folks can install the emulator on the Portal with relative ease. “There’s no release planned in the near future, and there’s much more work to be done,” Nguyen wrote on X. However, Nguyen hinted at posting some videos this weekend to show the emulator in action.

The Portal is clearly popular and it’s evident that players yearn to be able to do more with the system. As things stand, they can't even stream games from Sony's cloud gaming service. Perhaps these factors might be enough to convince Sony to give many fans what they truly want: a proper handheld successor to the PSP and the Vita.

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The UK moves another step closer to banning phones in schools

Mobile phone ownership has become standard for people of most ages, and, while there's a convenience argument, experts and regulators alike have expressed concerns about children's well-being and distraction while learning. To that end, the UK government has become the latest to announce guidance for banning the use of phones during school. It follows other European countries like France and Italy, which prohibit phones in classrooms. 

Some schools in the UK already have no-phone policies in place, but these guidelines could bring widespread adoption and uniformity. "This is about achieving clarity and consistency in practice, backing headteachers and leaders and giving staff confidence to act," Gillian Keegan, the UK's secretary of state for education, said in a release. "Today's children are growing up in an increasingly complex world, living their lives on and offline. This presents many exciting opportunities – but also challenges. By prohibiting mobile phones, schools can create safe and calm environments free from distraction so all pupils can receive the education they deserve."

While the UK government encourages schools to create their own policies, it outlines a few overarching options. The first — and most extreme — is a complete ban on mobile phones from school premises. However, the guidance acknowledges that this could create complications or risks for children when traveling to and from school. The next option takes care of that problem while still taking phones away. It suggests having students hand in their phones when arriving at school.

Then there's the locker route, where phones are kept strictly in students' lockers or whatever personal storage they get at school. While this allows students to keep possession of their device, it still wouldn't be usable at any point in the day, even when accessing the locker during breaks. The final option aligns with what many schools do — let students keep their phones in their bags, but they should be turned off and never accessed. 

The guidance also recommends teaching students about the mobile phone's potentially harmful impact on young people. Study after study has found that social media, in particular, can negatively impact young people's mental health. The UK government argues that, in addition to combating the social media issue, restricting phone use can increase students' concentration, time being active and spending time with peers face-to-face. 

Parents are encouraged to contact the school directly rather than through a private phone if they need to get in touch with their child. The guidance also encourages parents to discuss the rules at home and, once again, the risks of phones and the internet.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

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The 14 best Presidents’ Day sales at Amazon, Best Buy, Target and others to shop this weekend

Presidents' Day sales are usually more focused on appliances, mattresses and home goods than consumer tech, and that's the case again in 2024. That said, if you're looking for a new gadget, we've managed to pick out a few tech deals that are actually worth considering. Apple's AirPods Max are $100 off, for instance, while Anker's Soundcore Space A40, our favorite set of budget earbuds, is down to $59. The highly-rated Samsung S90C OLED TV is about $200 cheaper than usual, and Microsoft's Xbox Series S console is on sale to $220. We're also seeing good discounts on ASUS' ROG Ally gaming handheld, Samsung's Evo Select microSD card and Apple gift cards. Here are the best Presidents' Day 2024 sales on tech we could find. 

Best Presidents' Day sales on headphones

Best Presidents' Day sales on TVs

Best Presidents' Day sales on gaming gear

Best Presidents' Day sales on smartphones and tablets

Best Presidents' Day sales on other tech

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Akai adds a 37-key standalone workstation to its MPC lineup

Akai just officially announced the MPC Key 37, a standalone workstation and groovebox. This is the latest standalone MPC device, following last year’s larger Key 61. The Key 37 has everything you need to make a beat or song from scratch without having to use an actual computer and DAW, with some limitations. 

There are 37 full-size keys, complete with aftertouch. There aren’t that many standalone devices out there with a full keybed, so this should excite musicians who lack experience with Akai-style pads. This device does have 16 velocity-sensitive pads for laying down drum parts and triggering samples, so it’s a “best of both worlds” type situation.

The Key 37 ships with 32GB of on-board storage, though 10GB is used up by the OS and included sound packs. Thankfully, there’s a slot for an SD card to expand the storage — these standalone devices fill up fast.

You get the same color 7-inch multi-touch display and four assignable Q-Link knobs as the company’s Key 61 workstation. This is great for making system adjustments and for controlling effects plugins and the like. As a matter of fact, the entire layout recalls the Key 61, though this new release is slightly less powerful.

A pair of hands playing the keyboard.

The Key 37 features 2GB of RAM, compared to 4GB with the Key 61. This is going to hamper the number of tracks that will play simultaneously without any hiccups. It also lacks the two microphone inputs and associated preamps. There are, however, stereo 1/4-inch inputs and outputs, USB Midi, 5-pin MIDI In/MIDI Out, 4 TRS CV/Gate output jacks and a USB host port. This keyboard also boasts Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity for wireless streaming with platforms like Ableton Link.

Beyond the iconic 16 pad layout, the highlight of any MPC machine is the software. To that end, the Key 37 ships with Akai’s MPC2 desktop software and its standalone suite. You get eight instrument plugins out of the box and a voucher for a premium plug from the company’s ever-growing collection. You even get that cool stem separation software, though it’s not available on the Key 37 yet.

Akai’s latest and greatest may not be as full-featured as 2022’s Key 61, but it’s around half the price. The Key 37 costs $900 and is available to order right now via parent company inMusic and authorized retailers.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

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Maliciously edited Joe Biden video can stay on Facebook, Meta’s Oversight Board says

The Oversight Board is urging Meta to update its manipulated media policy, calling the current rules “incoherent.” The admonishment comes in a closely watched decision about a misleadingly edited video of President Joe Biden.

The board ultimately sided with Meta regarding its decision to not remove the clip at the center of the case. The video featured footage from October 2022, when the president accompanied his granddaughter who was voting in person for the first time. News footage shows that after voting, he placed an “I voted” sticker on her shirt. A Facebook user later shared an edited version that looped the moment so it appeared as if he repeatedly touched her chest. The caption accompanying the clip called him a “sick pedophile,” and said those who voted for him were “mentally unwell.”

In its decision, the Oversight Board said that the video was not a violation of Meta’s narrowly-written manipulated media policy because it was not edited with AI tools, and because the edits were “obvious and therefore unlikely to mislead” most users. “Nevertheless, the Board is concerned about the Manipulated media policy in its current form, finding it to be incoherent, lacking in persuasive justification and inappropriately focused on how content has been created rather than on which specific harms it aims to prevent (for example, to electoral processes),” the board wrote. “Meta should “reconsider this policy quickly , given the number of elections in 2024.”

The company’s current rules only apply to videos that are edited with AI, but don’t cover other types of editing that could be misleading. In its policy recommendations to Meta, the Oversight Board says it should write new rules that cover audio and video content. The policy should apply not just to misleading speech but “content showing people doing things they did not do.” The board says these rules should apply “regardless of the method of creation.” Furthermore, the board recommends that Meta should no longer remove posts with manipulated media if the content itself isn't breaking any other rules. Instead, the board suggests Meta “apply a label indicating the content is significantly layered and may mislead.”

The recommendations underscore mounting concern among researchers and civil society groups about how the surge in AI tools could enable a new wave of viral election misinformation. In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said the company is “reviewing the Oversight Board’s guidance and will respond publicly” within the next 60 days. While that response would come well before the 2024 presidential election, it’s unclear when, or if, any policy changes may come. The Oversight Board writes in its decision that Meta representatives indicated the company “plans to update the Manipulated Media policy to respond to the evolution of new and increasingly realistic AI.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

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Proposed California bill would let parents block algorithmic social feeds for children

California will float a pair of bills designed to protect children from social media addiction and preserve their private data. The Protecting Youth from Social Media Addiction Act (SB 976) and California Children’s Data Privacy Act (AB 1949) were introduced Monday by the state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta, State Senator Nancy Skinner and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks. The proposed legislation follows a CA child safety bill that was set to go into effect this year but is now on hold.

SB 976 could give parents the power to remove addictive algorithmic feeds from their children’s social channels. If passed, it would allow parents of children under 18 to choose between the default algorithmic feed — typically designed to create profitable addictions — and a less habit-forming chronological one. It would also let parents block all social media notifications and prevent their kids from accessing social platforms during nighttime and school hours.

 “Social media companies have designed their platforms to addict users, especially our kids. Countless studies show that once a young person has a social media addiction, they experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem,” California Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) wrote in a press release. “We’ve waited long enough for social media companies to act. SB 976 is needed now to establish sensible guardrails so parents can protect their kids from these preventable harms.”

L to R: California AG Rob Bonta, CA State Senator Nancy Skinner and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks standing at a podium in a classroom.
L to R: California AG Rob Bonta, State Senator Nancy Skinner and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks
The Office of Nancy Skinner

Meanwhile, AB 1949 would attempt to strengthen data privacy for CA children under 18. The bill’s language gives the state’s consumers the right to know what personal information social companies collect and sell and allows them to prevent the sale of their children’s data to third parties. Any exceptions would require “informed consent,” which must be from a parent for children under 13.

In addition, AB 1949 would close loopholes in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that fail to protect the data of 17-year-olds effectively. The CCPA reserves its most robust protections for those under 16.

“This bill is a crucial step in our work to close the gaps in our privacy laws that have allowed tech giants to exploit and monetize our kids’ sensitive data with impunity,” wrote Wicks (D-Oakland).

The bills may be timed to coincide with a US Senate hearing (with five Big Tech CEOs in tow) on Wednesday covering children’s online safety. In addition, California is part of a 41-state coalition that sued Meta in October for harming children’s mental health. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2021 that internal Meta (Facebook at the time) documents described “tweens” as “a valuable but untapped audience.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

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