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Skylanders comes to Netflix

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“Skylanders Academy,” the first production by Activision Blizzard Studios—its newly created television and film studio, will premiere later this year on Netflix.

”Over the last five years, millions of families around the world have welcomed Skylanders characters into their homes. Now, they’ll be able to watch their favorite characters come to life on Netflix,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “We couldn’t have found a better home for ‘Skylanders Academy’ and look forward to sharing our extraordinary characters with Netflix audiences around the world.”

The series follows the heroic adventures of the Skylanders team, a group of heroes with unique elemental skills and personalities who travel the vast Skylands universe, protecting it from evil-doers and showing the next wave of Academy cadets how to do things the “Skylander way.” Created by Toys For Bob, the $3 billion Skylanders franchise has sold through more than 250 million toys since pioneering the toys-to-life category in 2011, and earlier this month Activision revealed Skylanders Imaginators™, the latest innovation in the franchise.

“‘Skylanders Academy’ gives us the opportunity to approach narrative storytelling with the same level of quality and excellence that millions of Skylanders fans have come to expect from the game,” said Activision Blizzard Studios Co-President Stacey Sher. “We’re inspired by our fans’ excitement for these characters and have worked hard to bring these characters to life with stories our fans will love.”

Activision Blizzard launched its studio last year to create original content based on the company’s intellectual property, and “Skylanders Academy” is the first production by Sher and studio Co-President Nick van Dyk. The two-season Netflix partnership is another important step in Activision Blizzard’s strategy of enhancing its franchises and broadening their appeal.

Produced under the supervision of showrunner Eric Rogers (“Futurama”), “Skylanders Academy” features the voices of Justin Long (“Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Ask Me Anything”) as Spyro, Ashley Tisdale (“Phineas and Ferb,” “High School Musical”) as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul”) as Eruptor and Norm MacDonald (“Saturday Night Live”) as Glumshanks. Additional voice talent includes The Diamond Minecart, Susan Sarandon, Daniel Wu, Parker Posey, James Hetfield, Catherine O’Hara, Bobcat Goldthwait, Chris Diamantopoulos, Jonny Rees, Harland Williams and Richard Horvitz.

Sher and van Dyk are joined by Sander Schwartz, the Emmy award-winning producer of animated hits including “The Batman,” “The Aquabats! Super Show!” and “Justice League: The New Frontier,” as the show’s executive producers. “Skylanders Academy” is animated by the internationally acclaimed TeamTO studio in France.

“Activision Blizzard Studios’ enviable mission is to work with our extraordinary portfolio of franchise intellectual property and bring it to broader audiences on new platforms,” said van Dyk. “We’re excited to reach this strategic partnership and for the future of ‘Skylanders Academy.'”

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Samsung unfolds the future

At the #Unpacked launch, Samsung delivered the world’s first foldable phone from a major brand. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tried it out.

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Everything that could be known about the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range, launched on Wednesday in San Francisco, seems to have been known before the event.

Most predictions were spot-on, including those in Gadget (see our preview here), thanks to a series of leaks so large, they competed with the hole an iceberg made in the Titanic.

The big surprise was that there was a big surprise. While it was widely expected that Samsung would announce a foldable phone, few predicted what would emerge from that announcement. About the only thing that was guessed right was the name: Galaxy Fold.

The real surprise was the versatility of the foldable phone, and the fact that units were available at the launch. During the Johannesburg event, at which the San Francisco launch was streamed live, small groups of media took turns to enter a private Fold viewing area where photos were banned, personal phones had to be handed in, and the Fold could be tried out under close supervision.

The first impression is of a compact smartphone with a relatively small screen on the front – it measures 4.6-inches – and a second layer of phone at the back. With a click of a button, the phone folds out to reveal a 7.3-inch inside screen – the equivalent of a mini tablet.

The fold itself is based on a sophisticated hinge design that probably took more engineering than the foldable display. The result is a large screen with no visible seam.

The device introduces the concept of “app continuity”, which means an app can be opened on the front and, in mid-use, if the handset is folded open, continue on the inside from where the user left off on the front. The difference is that the app will the have far more space for viewing or other activity.

Click here to read about the app experience on the inside of the Fold.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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