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It has been several weeks since The Falcon and the Winter Soldier wrapped up, delivering the story we knew we were going to get. We learned how Falcon (Anthony Mackie) becomes the new Captain America and how Bucky (Sebastian Stan) starts being an Avenger in earnest. After a well-deserved break from Marvel Cinematic Universe stories, we’re about to get pulled back to the MCU — and this time around, we have no idea what’s in store.

‘Loki’ will tell a much different story about Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the villain-turned-superhero-turned-villain we’ve grown to love in over a decade of MCU films. Why is he a villain again? That’s because the Loki we actually fell in love with died in Infinity War, and all that character arc was lost. Or better said, it was all a reset. Marvel replaced the original Loki with a version of the God of Mischief who we last saw at the end of The Avengers in 2012. It’s that Loki who got ahold of the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame and ran away, disrupting the natural flow of things in the process.

We do know from the trailers that Loki is absolutely the Marvel story we need to watch before we really dive into the multiverse with Spider-Man 3: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. And thanks to a new interview with head writer Michael Waldron, we know that Loki will “fix” one of the most controversial things about Endgame. We should warn you before we go any further that some spoilers might follow below.

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Michael Waldron spoke at length with Vanity Fair about his career, how it all started, and where it’s heading. The focus was on Marvel, and specifically on Loki. He also spoke to a lesser extent about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which he also wrote.

The Loki trailers made no secret that Loki will be swiftly arrested by the Time Variance Authority (TVA), the organization that manages the flow of time and the various realities in the MCU. We learned from an interview with Hiddleston that the TVA “is an organization that orders and polices the passage of time. They have predetermined what happens in the past, the present, and the future – in a straight line.” That quote alone has enormous implications for the entire MCU, as it might make us see the Infinity Saga in a brand new light.

Speaking to Vanity Fair about Loki, Waldron said that when he met with Marvel for the TV series, the executive had already decided that the show will be set in the world of the TVA. “That was the sandbox that we had to play in,” Waldron said. “I came up with the emotional engine of the whole thing.”

That means Waldron had to deal with explaining time travel, which is something we’ll see plenty of in Loki — again, the trailers make it clear that Loki will travel through time. And that happens to be the most controversial thing about Endgame.

Loki
Loki starts streaming on Disney+ on June 9th. Image source: Disney

Ask anyone after they first watched Endgame and they’ll have questions about how time travel works in the MCU. That’s because Marvel’s time travel doesn’t respect Hollywood’s standard rules of time travel. One can’t alter the past in the MCU, which is what happens in films like Back to the Future. If the past is changed in a meaningful manner, a new branch of reality is created — for example, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) retired in one of these new branches of reality. That itself is a detail that’s part of the Endgame time travel controversies.

Waldron confirmed to Vanity Fair that Loki will help fix that.

“I can show you what was all over our writers room,” the writer told Vanity Fair as he sketched out a branching timeline. “We had to create an insane institutional knowledge of how time travel would work within the TVA, so the audience never has to think about it again. It was a lot of drawings of squiggly timelines.”

Waldron dropped a gem in the same interview, pointing out the fact that Endgame’s explanation of time travel “is the way the Avengers understand it.” Put differently, the audience understands time travel just like the Avengers right now. Loki should improve our understanding of time travel in the MCU, and it appears as though we’re going to learn things that the Avengers aren’t even aware of yet.

Waldron went on to explain that they made sure the MCU’s rules of time travel would withstand scrutiny.

“I was always very acutely aware of the fact that there’s a week between each of our episodes, and these fans are going to do exactly what I would do, which is pick this apart,” the writer said. “We wanted to create a time-travel logic that was so airtight it could sustain over six hours. There’s some time-travel sci-fi concepts here that I’m eager for my Rick and Morty colleagues to see.”

Loki premieres on Disney+ this coming Wednesday, June 9th. Until then, you should check out Vanity Fair’s entire interview with Waldron, a rising star whose Marvel and Star Wars stories will entertain us in the years to come.

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Naabiae Nenu-B is a Medical Health Student and an SEO Specialist dedicated to flushing the web off fake news and scam scandals. He aims at being "Africa's Best Leak and Review Blogger" and that's the unwavering stand of Xycinews Media.

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Amazon fined a record $887 million over data privacy violations

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In a regulatory filing on Friday, Amazon revealed that Luxembourg’s National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) has hit the company with a record $746 million euro fine ($887 million). If it stands, it will be the largest penalty ever handed out due to Europe’s data protection rules. Bloomberg reports CNPD issued its decision on July 16th. The group accused Amazon of processing personal data in violation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Of course, this is about more than just a fine. The CNPD is also demanding that Amazon stop the practices that resulted in the alleged violation.

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“On July 16, 2021, the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (the “CNPD”) issued a decision against Amazon Europe Core S.à r.l. claiming that Amazon’s processing of personal data did not comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation,” Amazon explained in its 10-Q filing. “The decision imposes a fine of €746 million and corresponding practice revisions. We believe the CNPD’s decision to be without merit and intend to defend ourselves vigorously in this matter.”

In addition to slapping Amazon with a huge fine, the CNPD also ordered Amazon to revise its business practices. CNPD did not specify which practices Amazon needs to revise, nor would it comment on the decision. As Bloomberg notes, local laws prevent the Luxembourg commission from commenting on any specific cases or confirming receipt of a complaint.

Amazon will appeal the CNPD’s fine

Amazon argues that the case is “without merit” for several reasons. The company noted that hackers have not stolen any data. Additionally, Amazon says that all customer data remains secure. Amazon plans to appeal the decision, which means that it could be quite some time before this resolves.

Amazon provided The Wall Street Journal with the following statement regarding the fine:

Maintaining the security of our customers’ information and their trust are top priorities. There has been no data breach, and no customer data has been exposed to any third party. These facts are undisputed. We strongly disagree with the CNPD’s ruling, and we intend to appeal. The decision relating to how we show customers relevant advertising relies on subjective and untested interpretations of European privacy law, and the proposed fine is entirely out of proportion with even that interpretation.

Currently, Google’s 50 million euro fine is the largest under the GDPR. France’s data watching, the CNIL, issued the fine in 2019. Google lost its appeal in 2020. The CNPD’s fine eclipses that sum, and will be a new record by a wide margin if it stands.

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Last chance to add hands-free Alexa to your car for $19.99 with this Amazon deal

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If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on
our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.

Alexa is amazing. Everyone loves having Alexa in their homes. That’s because there are endless “skills” that Amazon’s virtual personal assistant can take care of for you. The problem for so many people, however, is what happens when they leave the house. They lose access to all their Echo speakers since Amazon doesn’t make any portable Echo speakers anymore. Needless to say, Amazon is well aware of this limitation.

That’s exactly why the company created products like Echo Buds that give you access to Alexa on the go. They also offer fantastic sound quality and they’re on sale today at the lowest price ever. Then there’s the Echo Auto, which gives you hands-free access to Alexa in your car while you drive. And right now, Echo Auto is on sale with a massive discount if you pick up a certified refurb!

Amazon’s virtual personal assistant is no longer merely a luxury for so many people out there. Instead, Alexa is a necessity these days. I can’t even remember what life was like before I had Alexa doing my bidding. Alexa turns the lights on and off for me. It shows me who’s at my front door thanks to a Ring Video Doorbell and an Echo Show. Plus, it makes my coffee in the morning and arms my alarm system at night. I’m so used to having the ability to speak commands to Alexa that I have definitely caught myself doing it once or twice when I wasn’t even near an Echo speaker. Oops!

I really only have one problem with all this reliance on Alexa. It’s the fact that Alexa isn’t readily available once I leave my house. Or at least, that used to be the case. Thanks to one of Amazon’s best Alexa smart devices, I don’t have to worry anymore. It’s called the Echo Auto, and it’s basically an Echo Dot for your car. It gives you hands-free access to all the Alexa skills you love. Plus, it plays Alexa’s voice or streaming music through my car’s speakers.

This is a must-have for anyone who uses Alexa. And right now, it’s on sale right now for just $19.99 instead of $50 if you get a refurbished model. That’s a gigantic 60% discount and it’s the lowest price we’ve seen in a long time. This deal has been available all week long though, so there’s a good chance it’s going to end either today or over the weekend. Don’t miss out!

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Here are some of the main takeaways:

  • Amazon’s Echo Auto gives you access to all the great Alexa skills you love and use in your home, and it’s all hands-free
  • You can also take advantage of Alexa skills that are perfect for when you’re driving, like playing music, listening to an Audible book, checking your calendar, finding a nearby restaurant or other business, and making calls.
  • Echo Auto has 8 different microphones to ensure that your voice commands are heard over road noise and your radio.
  • Works through your car speakers and connects to your smartphone for data, so you don’t need to pay for a wireless plan.
  • Echo Auto connects to the Alexa app on your smartphone and can connect to your car speakers using an auxiliary input or your phone’s Bluetooth connection.

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Go here to see this month’s best deals on Amazon!


Follow @BGRDeals on Twitter to keep up with the latest and greatest deals we find around the web. Prices subject to change without notice and any coupons mentioned above may be available in limited supply.

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Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen true wireless headphones review: Not quite there

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True wireless headphones are everywhere these days, but they’re not created equal. While the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM4 and AirPods Pro are easy sells thanks to their high quality, if you don’t want to spend as much cash, you’ll need to do a little more research. Happy Plugs thinks it has the solution with the Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones.

The Air 1 Zen headphones are clearly AirPods Pro clones, thanks to their angled stem design. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Are the Happy Plus Air 1 Zen headphones worth buying? I’ve been testing them for a while now to find out.

Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen True Wireless Headphones Price:$79.99 Buy Now BGR may receive a commission

Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen design

Right from the get-go, you can see similarities between the Air 1 Zen headphones and Apple’s AirPods Pro. While the Air 1 Zen headphones come in more colors, they have Apple’s angled stem look, and the same overall shape. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that these headphones have a button on each bud, instead of the touch-sensitive stem on the AirPods Pro. The buttons are relatively easy to use, but you’ll have to get used to the controls and how they work.

The charging case has a USB-C port on the bottom, along with a pairing button, and a set of lights to indicate charging status. It’s relatively compact and should be easy to fit in a pocket or bag, but it’s definitely bigger than the AirPods Pro case.

As mentioned, the headphones are available in a range of colors. I’m reviewing the “Mint Green” model, but they also come in pink, white, black, and silver.

Generally speaking, the Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones look good, thanks largely to the fact that they copy the AirPods Pro.

Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen features and battery

There’s one area in which the Air 1 Zen headphones are nothing like the AirPods Pro — features. That’s to say, you won’t get Spatial Audio or Automatic Switching here.

Ultimately, the Air 1 Zen headphones don’t really offer any extra features. They’re Bluetooth earbuds, and nothing more. Don’t be fooled by the company’s claim of “passive noise cancelation.” While technically true, that just means that they naturally block out some noise — like all headphones. There’s no active noise cancelation here.

Happy Plus Air 1 Zen In CaseImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Unfortunately, the Bluetooth performance on offer by these headphones was pretty spotty, sometimes losing connectivity completely. At times, the headphones went slightly out of sync, creating an echo effect. Cool for two seconds, annoying for any longer. It wasn’t a deal-breaker, and connectivity was usually only momentarily lost. But at this point in time, true wireless headphones should offer a better connection than this.

The battery life of the headphones isn’t bad. You’ll get six hours of use on a single charge, and a total of 30 hours with the battery case.

Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen comfort

Generally speaking, the Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones are comfortable, and easy to wear for longer periods of time. That’s good news — considering the fact that true wireless headphones are usually bulkier than their wired counterparts.

Happy Plus Air 1 Zen ComfortImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

One of the best things about these headphones is that they offer a good fit, at least for my ears. They’re not big enough to be uncomfortable, but they are big enough to create a good seal that ensures they remain in your ears.

Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen sound

The Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones offer a relatively deep sound quality that isn’t necessarily for audiophiles but should please most listeners.

The bass response, for starters, is heavy and deep. Kick drums offer plenty of oomph, while bass guitars and synthesizers are front and center. It does overshadow other aspects of the headphones a little, but it’s not too muddy or over-the-top.

The mids are decently tuned, with an emphasis on the warm, low mids, and a dip in the high mids. The result is that things like vocals and guitars can feel a little tucked away.

Happy Plus Air 1 Zen BudsImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The highs aren’t as clear or as detailed as I would have liked. It’s not terrible, but cymbals feel a little midsy, doing away with the sheen you would expect from them.

Along with the connectivity issues, the headphones also have pretty bad connection noise. It’s really only noticeable when you’re not listening to anything, but still annoying.

Conclusions

The Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen headphones are a little hit and miss. The headphones don’t look or sound bad, but they suffer from some connectivity issues. That said, the headphones are only $80 — so it makes sense that they wouldn’t be perfect.

The competition

If you want to buy a pair of true wireless headphones for under $100, we recommend looking elsewhere. JLab Audio makes a range of great headphones at a low price, and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are exactly $100. The Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen don’t really do enough to beat out the competition.

Should I buy the Happy Plugs Air 1 Zen?

No. You should consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus instead.

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