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Blizzard’s J Allen Brack and former president Mike Morhaime respond to California’s lawsuit against the company – VG247

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In response to the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard brought by the state of California, former president Mike Morhaime and current president J. Allen Brack have issued public and company-focused statements regarding the allegations brought forth in the suit.

Earlier this week, it was reported that a two-year investigation by the state of California has brought about a lawsuit aimed at Activision Blizzard. The investigation brought to light multiple accounts of sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, unfair pay, and inappropriate behavior and comments directed at female employees within the company.

Now, one former high-level executive at Blizzard, and one current executive, have addressed the allegations made against the developer, one publicly and one privately, by calling the outlined behavior out as unacceptable.

Current Blizzard president J. Allen Brack stated in a leaked email obtained by Forbes that he detests “bro-culture,” and that the allegations made by current and former employees are “extremely troubling.”

Brack states in the email that it is “unacceptable” for anyone in the company to face discrimination or harassment and that everyone should feel safe working with the company whether it is in-office or while at an event such as BlizzCon.

He goes on to say that it “takes courage to come forward,” and that any and all allegations made are investigated internally and when needed, externally.

“We take these claims very seriously,” he states. “Claims can be made without fear of retaliation, and many times I attend to them personally along with our other leaders.”

As noted by Massively OP, Brack is one of the parties listed in California’s suit against Activision Blizzard, for not taking “effective remedial measures” when it came to claims made by female employees. It’s stated in the documents that Alex Afrasiabi, former senior creative director of WoW and also named in the lawsuit, was accused by staffers of multiple harassment infractions.

According to the suit (page 15), Brack apparently verbally counseled Afrasiabi multiple times, and despite a “slap on the wrist,” Afrasiabi allegedly continued to make derogatory remarks, sexually harass, and grope female employees.

Meanwhile, co-founder and former president of Blizzard Entertainment Mike Morhaime has spoken out against the behavior depicted in the lawsuit. In an open letter, Morhaime said was he was sorry if he failed any female employees, and that he feels he let them down.

Here’s his statement in full:

“I have read the full complaint against Activision Blizzard and many of the other stories. It is all very disturbing and difficult to read. I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What’s worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.

“I was at Blizzard for 28 years. During that time, I tried very hard to create an environment that was safe and welcoming for people of all genders and backgrounds. I knew that it was not perfect, but clearly, we were far from that goal. The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better.

“Harassment and discrimination exist. They are prevalent in our industry. It is the responsibility of leadership to keep all employees feeling safe, supported, and treated equitably, regardless of gender and background. It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company. To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.

“I realize that these are just words, but I wanted to acknowledge the women who had awful experiences. I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. I want to hear your stories if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can.

“I believe we can do better, and I believe the gaming industry can be a place where women and minorities are welcomed, included, supported, recognized, rewarded, and ultimately unimpeded from the opportunity to make the types of contributions that all of us join this industry to make. I want the mark I leave on this industry to be something that we can all be proud of.”

One current Blizzard employee, Josh “Devolore” Allen, calls Morhaime’s statement “100% bullshit,” alleging the former executive knew what was going on within the company.

“‘If I’d known this was happening I would have stopped it’ says the man who was told repeatedly that it was happening and did nothing to stop it

“I’ve refrained from giving my own comments on the situation at Actiblizz because frankly, there are more important people you should be listening to right now. But that statement from a certain former leader was 100% bullshit and I’m furious about it.

“He knew. He did nothing. Don’t get me wrong, current leadership is fucking up hard right now too. But please don’t believe for a second that the culture that allowed all of this to happen for the last couple of decades was somehow built by the guy who’s been in charge for 3 years.”

One former female employee also spoke out against Morhaime’s statement and produced an email sent to him back in 2018 regarding a male employee who was promoted despite exhibiting “egregious bad behavior.” She states in the email that men such as this unnamed employee would eventually “cost the company money and its good reputation.”

“As long as men in power are behaving in a predatory fashion towards women in the company, it will be impossible for women to feel truly comfortable, valued, or safe, it will be harder and harder for the company to draw in and keep talented women who love games.”

Hearthstone

In sharp contrast to the statements made by the current and former presidents of Blizzard, Fran Townsend, executive VP for corporate affairs at Activision Blizzard who has been with the company for four months and who is the former Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush, sent out an email which can only be described as dismissive and a little defensive.

According to the statements made in Townsend’s email, the lawsuit presents a “distorted and untrue picture” of the company and that the allegations are “factually incorrect,” old, and tell “out of context stories” some of which she says happened “over a decade ago.”

She states that the company takes a “hard-line approach” to an inappropriate or hostile work environment, and totes the company’s Speak Up campaign which “reinforces” the company’s “zero tolerance for retaliation against those who speak up.”

“We work at a company that truly values equality and fairness,” states the email. “Rest assured that leadership is committed to continuing to maintain a safe, fair, and inclusive workplace.

“We cannot let egregious actions of others, and a truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit, damage our culture of respect and equal opportunity for all employees. We aspire in our community to do great things: in our games, in our impact on society,  and in our work environment. We continue to hold firm to our principles and invest, as we have in the past, the resources to ensure quality opportunities for all employees.

“We remain committed as a leadership team to doing what is right.”

Considering the lawsuit was only filed recently, it may be a while before Activision Blizzard has its day in court. Until then, we can only speculate that things will get worse for the company before it gets better and that some heads will roll in the fallout, if last year’s scandal involving Ubisoft is any indication of what’s to come.

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Why did Apple change the camera position on the iPhone 13? – The Next Web

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Aesthetically, the iPhone 13 is similar to last year’s model — apart from one key element: the camera placement.

The iPhone 12 had vertically stacked lenses. On the iPhone 13, these are now diagonal. So, here’s the question we’re going to answer today: why?

In my mind, there are two key reasons Apple has changed the iPhone 13 lens placement — and you can split these into technical and marketing.

The technical reason for the diagonal camera layout on the iPhone 13

I’m beginning with this because I believe it’s the biggest reason for the design change.

Now, one of the new features introduced with the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is something called “sensor shift image optical stabilization.”

This appeared in the iPhone 12 Pro models last year and is effectively a mechanism that moves the lens to help you get steadier shots. Think of it as a counter to the slight movement your hands make while you’re taking a photograph.

When Apple announced the iPhone 13, they showed the sensor shift image optical stabilization in action:

Watch this GIF a few times. Notice anything? About the size of the housing?

It’s plain to see that, comparatively, the sensor shift image optical stabilization hardware is large. In fact, it takes up a huge chunk of camera bump.

It’d be technically impossible to fit the mechanism in while keeping the vertical camera layout of the iPhone 12. Making the lens placement on the iPhone 13 diagonal is an elegant solution.

The other option would be changing the location of the camera bump altogether, potentially to the middle of the phone. But this would not only alter the iPhone 13‘s aesthetics, but it would also make a lot of accessories useless too.

That, friends, is the technical reason Apple has made the iPhone 13 cameras diagonal.

The marketing reason for changing the camera position on the iPhone 13

While I think this argument has legs, I don’t think marketing was a direct force for the change. Instead, it’s something that likely supported the shift.

Basically, the iPhone 13 is very similar to the iPhone 12. The upgrades, including things like a smaller notch, brighter screen, and a bigger battery, aren’t exactly attention grabbing,

These aren’t bad updates per se, but they’re expected, not lusted after.

Here’s a picture of the iPhone 13 phones to help break up this damn waffle.
apple iphone 13

Really, the biggest point of differentiation for the public at large is the new diagonal camera layout. It’s a clear way to signal that you’re in possession of the latest device and is an excellent marketing tool to encourage people to upgrade.

This is also partly the reason why the change has been mocked. For those outside the tech bubble, changing the iPhone camera layout seems like solely a cheap trick to increase sales. Which is a half truth.

Ultimately,  the new camera placement on the iPhone 13 is a technical solution that also delivers some marketing ammunition. Which is either lucky, clever, or, well, both.

There we have it! Two solid reasons why Apple has changed the position of cameras on the iPhone 13.

Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In – and you can subscribe to it right here.

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Apple Online Store Down Ahead of iPhone 13 and 13 Pro Pre-Orders – MacRumors

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Apple’s online store is down ahead of iPhone 13 mini, ‌iPhone 13‌, iPhone 13 Pro, and ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max pre-orders, which are set to begin at 5:00 a.m. Pacific Time in the United States.


“You’re… early,” reads the Apple Store message when attempting to visit the U.S. website. “Pre-order begins at 5:00 a.m. PDT. Enjoy the extra sleep.” Apple used to do new device pre-orders at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, but since 2019, has been holding iPhone pre-orders at 5:00 a.m.

The ‌‌iPhone 13‌ mini, ‌iPhone 13‌,‌ ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌, and ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max are launching in more than 30 countries and regions around the world, and a full list of launch times can be found in our time zone guide.

All of the new ‌iPhone 13‌ models are nearly identical in design to last year’s iPhone 12 models, featuring flat edges, an aerospace-grade aluminum enclosure, a glass back, and a slight increase in thickness.

Key features across the ‌iPhone 13‌ lineup include a faster A15 Bionic chip, camera improvements, longer battery life, and a smaller notch. The two Pro models also feature a ProMotion display with a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz. The ‌iPhone 13‌ models are available in Pink, Blue, Midnight (black), Starlight (silver/gold), and (PRODUCT)RED.

If you’re hoping to get one of the models in the ‌new ‌iPhone 13‌ lineup on launch day, it’s a good idea to purchase early because there’s no word on how much supply Apple will have.

Pricing on the ‌iPhone 13‌ mini starts at $699, while pricing on the ‌iPhone 13‌ starts at $799, the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ starts at $999, and the ‌iPhone 13 Pro‌ Max begins at $1099. The official launch, when pre-orders will be out for delivery, is next Friday, September 24.

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The new iPad Mini seems great even if you love Android – Android Central

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Source: Apple

I’ve been an Android user since the first day the first Android phone became available, and I’ve been through many different devices. Of course, like many of you all, I’ve also owned and used iPhones, BlackBerrys, Windows phones, and all the rest of the “cool” tech because I just love cool tech.

I’m also very much a small phone guy because one of the most important things to me is how easy it is to carry something that basically lives inside my pocket. One of the reasons the Galaxy S21 is one of the best Android phones is because it’s not gigantic, for example. The only time I wish my phone were bigger is when I want to veg out and just consume.

I just want to consume.

That’s where tablets shine. Watching videos or playing games on something with a much larger screen is just better, ya know? Yes, I can use my phone and do those same things, and I won’t try to say it’s a bad experience because it’s not. It’s just not as good. I’ve been thinking about getting a smaller tablet to try it again, and Apple might just have shown me what I want in the 2021 iPad Mini.

No, I’m not some sort of “traitor” to the Android ecosystem because I owe zero allegiance to any tech company. I like the way Android works better than iOS does, but that’s just me, and plenty of people feel differently. But I don’t run out and buy a thing because some tech company made it. Every company needs to work for my dollars. And since Google is unwilling to remake the Nexus 7 with great new specs, I don’t have a “favorite” tablet brand.

Nexus 7

Nexus 7Source: Android Central

I want a tablet for all the wrong reasons, according to the companies that make them. I have no desire to replace my PC or Chromebook with a Pro tablet. I’m not going to replace my phone with a cellular tablet just because it can make calls and get messages. I like the phone and Chromebook I use, and don’t see how a tablet can replace either.

Since Google isn’t going to remake the Nexus 7, the iPad Mini might be the best substitute.

But the right tablet can tempt me, so long as it’s on the smaller side. I have a Pixel Slate here if I wanted to use a ginormous heavy tablet, and because it has a desktop browser, it’s going to be better at doing many of the things I want a tablet to do. It needs to be plenty powerful enough to play HD video without sputtering and have Wi-Fi that’s strong enough to keep up. A few cool games are a plus, too. My tablet would be just for fun and not at all for work.

I’ve thought about foldables here, too. Something like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 could work, but I’m not yet sold on how the phone side of things play out. Maybe in a couple of years, but now I think I would end up spending twice as much on a device that I would only use as a tablet. Not an ideal situation for my wallet.

I basically ignored all the talk about how artists and professionals love the iPad Mini, but what I did pay attention to has me thinking it might be the one. The power is there — forget all the XX% faster marketing stuff, but I’ve seen enough from Apple to know the Bionic SoC platform is going to handle things. The size is right, and even the $500 price tag isn’t insane like many other Apple devices are.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen Taking Notes

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen Taking NotesSource: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Mostly though, it’s the ecosystem. Yes, that word gets tossed around a lot, and sometimes my brain goes numb after hearing it, but this is one place where everything can work great for me. All of Google’s services work well on iOS, so I know I’ll have the experience I want from Google Photos or YouTube, and Apple does a great job at filling in the rest.

Say what you will about Apple’s way of doing business, but the App Store has plenty of great tablet apps.

Yeah, Apple’s walled garden sucks. Ask anyone who wants to play Fortnite on a new iPad Mini about that if you want another opinion, and I’m not a fan of a company trying to tell me what I can do with something I paid money to buy. But I can’t deny that Apple has its shit together when it comes to tablet apps, and chances are I would find a few I would want to install. Google could learn a lot here.

I think an iPad Mini would complement my Android phone and my other tech in the right ways. I’m not rushing out to preorder one just yet, and I’ll wait to read some reviews before I whip out the plastic. I’d also recommend any Android or Chrome user as interested in the iPad Mini as I am to do the same thing.

I’ve talked to a lot of you guys who use an iPad along with your Android phones, and I think I get it now. I’m not going to write it off just because it’s from that fruit company. It might be what a lot of Android folks just like me are looking for.

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