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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Who is Maz Kanata?

Right around 50 minutes into the 2-hour Star Wars: The Force Awakens film, we see a tiny character by the name of Maz Kanata. She’s a mostly-CGI character voiced and acted by Lupita Nyong’o, and she’s more than a little important to the overarching Anakin saga that flows through the Star Wars film universe. The following is a glimpse at what Maz has been up to for the past several hundred years, what she’s done with regard to Han Solo, and what she’s got in her secret curio box. Therefore, if you’ve not seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we recommend you proceed with caution!

If you’re still here and haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, you agree that you’re not entirely worried about spoiling at least one tiny piece of your theater-going experience. What’s in the box is what’s important, and if you’re OK with skipping out on that secret – as you may have guessed what’s in there already anyway – go on!

Maz Kanata is a pirate. More specifically, she’s a “Pirate Legend”, according to one of our main sources of information, the canon-friendly “Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary”. Very much in the spirit of the also-legendary Yoda, Maz is both tiny and gigantic in a variety of ways.

She’s influenced some universe-changing events and people, and her place in the story arcs we’ve seen in the Star Wars film series is one of absolute essentiality.

While Maz is not a Jedi, she does have “an affinity for the Force.” According to TVD, she “never walked that path herself, instead relying on her strong connection to the Force to keep her out of danger.”

She’s done a fantastic job of it, too, having maintained the castle you see on Takodana for 1,000 years. Her true age is unknown.

Maz Kanata• Height: 1.24 meters• Eye Color: Brown• Species: Unknown• Age: 1,000 years+

The planet Takodana (where Maz’s castle can be found) is in the Western Reaches of the known galaxy – this means it’s quite far from Coruscant, and just about equidistant from Jakku, Endor, and Hoth/Bespin (which are basically in the same solar system). This system is far enough from the core to maintain questionable legality, but not quite out to the Outer Rim, where anything goes.

Maz surrounds herself with friends and allies, all invested in keeping the pirate and the rest of the occupants of the castle well protected. Another example of a castle occupant is the castle bar/restaurant’s cook, Strono “Cookie” Tuggs. He’s been cooking in the castle for patrons for centuries.

Not all occupants of the castle are good natured. Not by a long shot. Thromba and Laparo are a pair of Frigosian cryptosurgeons that keep prisoner creatures in cells below the castle so that they might mix and match their parts in their laboratory in one of the castle’s towers. They provide a service, however, that many patrons of the castle appreciate: cosmetic alterations that allow wanted criminals to “disappear.”

It should be clear, at this point, that Maz isn’t necessarily as good-natured as Luke Skywalker, but she’s certainly no evil like Darth Vader, either. She isn’t even really as bad as Jabba the Hutt, as it were – she wants what’s best for the universe.

One piece of evidence for this is TVD’s note on having “gotten many a young brigand started in the freebooting trade.” This is echoed by the Star Wars Databank, which says, “She has given many a young smuggler a start by offering credits, equipment, or connections, and helped many an old friend rediscover a lost path.”

Who is Lor San Tekka?

This should serve as a clue as to what she’ll have had to do with Han Solo in the past, too – we’ll just have to wait until the 2023 Han Solo film to see.

Maz has had dealings and/or “crossed paths” with Jedi Knights and Jedi Masters, including Yoda.*

*This is according to J.J. Abrams speaking at a press conference held just before the premiere of the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, via DSOTF.

“She’s run this watering hole for a thousand years. Maz is a bit of an acquired taste, so let me do the talking – and whatever you do, don’t stare.” – Han Solo

Maz’s most important contribution to the Star Wars movie plot – beyond the possibility of making Han Solo into the man he is throughout the series – is the curio box she keeps in her castle basement. This box has some very interesting things in it.

Who is Captain Phasma?

Very near the box, in the film, you’ll see a bust. This bust is a man by the name of Master Cherff Maota – and we’re going to assume it’s a safe bet that his legend will be significant in the future.

As for the box’s contents, TVD shows that within is a fusion cutter head, a diatom power core, and a “four-thousand-year-old hyperspace sextant.”

The box is made of “ancient wroshyr wood”, and Maz keeps the box unlocked at all times.

Also in the box is a lightsaber. This is the lightsaber Anakin Skywalker has made for himself during the Clone Wars (having lost or destroyed every lightsaber he’d had previously). This lightsaber was used to massacre the Jedi Temple, fight Obi-Wan Kenobi, and was eventually (taken by Obi-Wan and) passed down to Luke Skywalker.

Luke used the lightsaber from the point at which he attained it from Obi-Wan on Tatooine (before the Battle of Yavin) until he lost it in a battle with Darth Vader on Cloud City (on/floating above the clouds of Bespin).

Somehow after being removed from Luke Skywalker on Cloud City, the lightsaber was found by a 3rd party, and eventually made its way to Maz, who then made sure it was given to Rey. Sort of reminds you of The One Ring, doesn’t it?

Have a peek at the timeline below for additional SlashGear guides on the Star Wars universe – we’re expanding in the future, too!

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10 Best Star Wars Apps For Android

Disney Plus

Star Wars is one of the largest stories humans ever told. It spans multiple decades, multiple movies, multiple books, and multiple video games. You can literally engage in Star Wars content for years and not repeat anything. As such, you would expect a ton of great apps for it, right? Well, there definitely are some good ones to help your Star Wars experience even more. Here are the best Star Wars apps for Android.

The best Star Wars apps for Android

Price: Free trial / $6.99 per month / $69.99 per year

Disney+ is easily among the best Star Wars apps for Star Wars fans. It has all of the movies, The Mandalorian TV show, The Clone Wars, and a bunch of other standalone movies and shows. These movies and shows were all pulled off of other streaming media and placed in Disney+. Thus, those who want to watch the movies should definitely start here.

The app is easy enough to use, includes Chromecast support, and you can even sync the movie with another person watching it so you can watch it together from different TVs. The service runs for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. This Hulu, ESPN+, and Disney+ bundle for $12.99 per month is the better deal if you want something other than Star Wars too.


Price: Free / Varies

Facer is a watch face app for Wear OS, Samsung’s smartwatch platform, and Apple’s WatchOS. It lets you find custom watch faces to decorate your smartwatch’s home screen. There are a metric ton of Star Wars options for all three major platforms. Here is a quick list of just some of the options if you want to see it yourself. It’s relatively easy to use. Simply install the app on your phone and then follow the instructions for whatever platform you want. It’s a small thing, but having Vader on your wrist all the time is fun.

Fandom by Wikia


See also: The best to do list apps for Android

Jedi Lightsaber Simulator

Price: Free

Everybody likes a good Jedi Lightsaber Simulator. This one is about as good as any other one. You can create your own little lightsaber and change the color if you want to. This isn’t an overly functional app, but it’s fun for a few minutes at a time and great for kids. Disney has a Jedi Challenges app (Google Play link). It lets you engage with the Star Wars universe with augmented reality. However, Disney’s app hasn’t seen an update since 2023 so we’re not sure if it’s abandoned or not.

Movies Anywhere


See also: The best Reddit alternatives to try

Text Crawl

Price: Free

Let’s face facts, you’ve always wanted to do the text crawl at the beginning of Star Wars but with something you wrote. This app lets you do it. You simply open the app, enter all the details, choose your scroll direction, and then let it ride. There is also the option to save the video so you can share it on social media or use it for whatever you want. Obviously, this app has no function, but sometimes apps don’t need a function. They can just be fun to use.

Star Wars Official

See also: The best Star Wars games for Android


Price: Free / $0.99 per month / $4.99 per year

See also: The best apps for notification tones and ringtones

The Electric Truck Wars Are Getting Interesting

The electric truck wars are getting interesting

No longer can the automotive industry afford to move at its old, glacial pace, not when the players in the electric truck wars are starting to show their hands. Pickups, vans, and utility vehicles in general have typically lagged behind their passenger vehicle counterparts when it comes to embracing new tech, but with no reasonable person able to write off electrification as a passing fad, it’s time for trucks to get charged up.

On the one hand, you have the traditional automakers. Ford confirmed today that it’s working on a roughly two year roadmap for the F-150 EV, its first all-electric version of the pickup. We can expect to see that launch – along with an electric Transit cargo van – within the next 24 months, the automaker has promised.

It’ll go up against GM’s all-electric pickup. There, General Motors hasn’t said exactly which of its brands the EV will launch under, and it has a few to choose from after all. An electric Chevrolet Silverado, for example, would compete directly with the F-150 EV. Alternatively, GM could opt for a GMC EV pickup, or even a sub-brand as it’s doing with the GMC Hummer EV. Yet another possibility is a whole new brand, either created just for the electric pickup, or borrowing an existing name like Maven.

Ford and GM sales are huge. Yet the two companies arguably don’t have the same early-leader cachet as some of the startups we’re seeing promising big things in the electric utility vehicle market.

There’s Tesla, of course. The Cybertruck may have proved divisive when the angular pickup was revealed last year, and spawned no shortage of jokes and memes after its “bulletproof” glass turned out to be a little easier to smash than Elon Musk had expected. Still, for all the hype which inevitably follows anything Tesla does, the EV-maker does have a track record of being able to put cars on the road.

There are others, too. Bollinger Motors’ offerings look like classic Land Rover Defenders brought into the 21st century with all-electric drivetrains; Lordstown Motors has named its electric pickup Endurance, and plans to begin production next year at an Ohio factory it acquired from GM.

Looming large in the attention of every player is just how the electric passenger vehicle market has been shaped. There, Tesla went from a fairly niche purveyor of expensive electric cars to effectively defining the conversation with the Model 3. While sales, quality, and production haven’t exactly been consistently smooth sailing for Elon Musk’s company, Tesla nonetheless set the tone with its focus on range, performance, and cabin technology.

The fear among the traditional auto behemoths, it seems likely, is that another relative upstart could do the same for how electric utility vehicles like pickups are defined. While sports cars and luxury sedans may have obvious appeal, sales in the truck market are huge and brand loyalty among owners fiercely sought. Not for nothing is the Ford F-150 America’s long-standing best selling vehicle.

Whether that will sway the opinion of fleet buyers – big companies looking to go green with battery-electric pickups and vans, and with the scope to order dozens, hundreds, or even more vehicles in one fell swoop – remains to be seen. Wooing that audience is something Ford is already looking to do, underscoring the technology story of the upcoming new F-150 which will be unveiled on June 25.

That won’t be all-electric, not for a while yet, though Ford will have an F-150 hybrid to bridge the gap. What it will do, though, is allow for things like straightforward fleet management, each connected vehicle trackable, its service status readily reported. When the F-150 EV arrives, it’ll slot into that ecosystem as one spoke of an overall transportation platform.

Insurmountable? Not at all. Much will depend on the eagerness of the customer to go green: Rivian’s vans for Amazon will live alongside the retailer’s existing gas trucks, for instance. Amazon, though, has no shortage of developers to build such an umbrella system; smaller businesses may not.

Even with those questions – and others – remaining, the lure of a slice of the electric truck pie is still strong. The demand for electric cars ebbs and flows, swayed by things like financial incentives and drivers being willing to pay a little more to get onboard with electrification. Trucks, meanwhile, have proved themselves to be somewhat more insulated. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when passenger vehicle sales slumped, truck demand was still high.

Get a chunk of that, and some of the fleet market, and it could be a far more stable basis on which to build an electric vehicle business. For now, there’s no shortage of big talk and bigger promises. As the first production vehicles begin to arrive from 2023, however, the electric pickup segment is only going to get more interesting.

Msn + Google = Netscape : The Search Engine Wars

The search engine war between Google and MSN is generating some nasty tactics reminiscent of the Microsoft vs. Netscape battle of the mid ’90’s. Those who remember that battle will recall the almost surgical methods used by Microsoft to all but destroy Netscape. Today, Netscape is a shell of its former self, kept in a dull corner of the Time Warner empire and denied the attention or funding it needs to reemerge as a viable entity in the browser market. Many will also remember the tactics used by Microsoft to destroy Netscape generated years of anti-trust litigation and almost led to the break-up of the world’s richest corporation and largest software maker. At the end of the day of course, Microsoft got off with a wrist slap and the knowledge that the US Government will not kill a goose that lays golden eggs (and whose products run much of the national infrastructure). Microsoft is obviously feeling free to resort to some its old tricks and the search engine wars are about to go mainstream, possibly becoming public entertainment. Remember the film, Pirates of Silicone Valley? This script promises to be even more interesting.

According to yesterday’s New York Times, Microsoft has officially turned its great eye on Google and is specifically targeting Google and its employees. Microsoft recruiters are said to be calling Google staff at home, telling them that MSN’s new search tool will bury Google and that they had better defect north to Redmond Washington as soon as possible before their jobs and soon to be stock options are worthless. Executives from both companies were seen watching each other like hawks at last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. Wherever a Google representative went, a MSN exec was steps behind, and vica versa. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Microsoft employees are examining Google patents looking for potential weaknesses to exploit. Microsoft is obviously playing for keeps and appears to be preparing to head off the inevitable legal battles that will stem from the introduction of Microsoft’s new operating system, Longhorn, currently in development and scheduled for release early next year.

Longhorn and Search

Longhorn is the code-name for the new operating system from Microsoft. When it is released early next year, Longhorn is expected to change the way we relate to searching for information by integrating the function of search directly into the operating system itself. According to the hype, systems running Longhorn will treat any information ever viewed by machine-specific users as a searchable document. For example, if you receive an email regarding Blue Widgets, research Blue Widgets and write a review of Blue Widget products, you would have three documents consisting of 1 email, 1 website, and 1 Word doc. Two of the three information sources are stored on your hard-drive and one is stored on the web. All three are likely to be found through Longhorn’s search function. By changing the parameters of search technology, Microsoft is laying heavy money on the safe bet that users will quickly become dependent on Longhorn’s search tool. This is basically the same tactic used against Netscape when Internet Explorer was bundled into Windows95(v2.0) in 1996.

“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” Sam Levenson (1911 – 1980)

Lessons for Google

Netscape was floored by the sudden switch of alliance in browser users and failed to adapt quickly enough. After being purchased at the height of the chúng tôi bubble by AOL, Netscape released it’s infamous (and doomed) version 6.0 which was full of bugs and did not even approach the versatility of Internet Explorer. The rest is pretty much history for Netscape and opportunity for Microsoft. IE now holds over 92% of the browser market with Netscape scraping less than 4%. The same phenomena may happen with Google, especially after the the recent Florida algorithm update in November and the recent Austin update seen in late January. While Google watchers continue to speculate on the what’s, where’s and whys of Google’s recent update, we all agree on at least one basic thing, Google is trying to create a better search tool in order to compete with MSN and Yahoo. Unfortunately for Google, the effect of the recent updates is highly reminiscent of Netscape v6.0, an obvious attempt to build a better mouse-trap that produced a product inferior to its predecessor.

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must man be of learning from experience.” George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)

Pov: Police Body Cameras Aren’t The Answer To Excessive Force

POV: Police Body Cameras Aren’t the Answer to Excessive Force There are better ways to ensure good law enforcement

Amidst the public discourse about the deaths of black men in violent encounters with the police, President Obama has called for funding to expand the use of body-worn video cameras to record police-public interactions. The political appeal of this initiative is easy to see: it is quick, seemingly simple to implement, and broadly understood. Given the complexity of accountability concerns, however, I am unconvinced this approach addresses the issue, and I have greater concerns that the attention to video distracts from more effective reforms.

The policing field has a history of adopting new technologies—with both intended benefits and unintended costs—to solve long-existing and institutionalized challenges. Patrol cars improved efficient responses to emergency calls-for-service, but facilitated greater distance between the police and the community. Emergency 911 call systems further improved rapid response to any particular incident, but their use impedes police organizations from adopting promising problem-solving approaches that view individual incidents as symptoms of underlying problems. Contemporary use of so-called big data analytical techniques (i.e., “predictive policing,” using computer models to predict lawbreaking) shows promise in reducing crime, but it has helped move the field away from the kinds of community-based strategies that produce positive crime control and build trust between the community and the police.  Viewing body cameras as a technology-based solution to accountability problems within this context suggests that we may be falling into the same trap.

Questions remain about the efficacy of cameras as a preventive accountability mechanism. While the lack of evidence might leave ambiguous the legality of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last August, it is clear that the interaction went badly from the outset due to substandard police tactics. Calling out from a passing police vehicle to two young men, then reversing towards them rapidly and putting the vehicle in a position of close proximity to Brown and his friend are detrimental to the quality of the interaction and to keeping all involved safe. Officers who conduct interactions in such risky ways on a regular basis are only gambling with the probability that any given situation will escalate to something that is out of their control. The resulting force—justified or not—often is unintended, and most officers likely do not calculate odds of repercussions as dynamic encounters unfold. Body cameras might help resolve legal questions about an encounter after the fact, but they do little to improve the quality of routine interactions, and the policing field understands well the kinds of reforms that can improve interactions and reduce negative consequences.

Training officers in procedural justice practices, de-escalation techniques, and knowledge of unconscious biases, youth development, and mental illness would do a great deal more to prevent abuse of force. Compared to the approach that led to Brown’s death, an officer implementing basic elements from procedural justice training steps out of the vehicle, makes eye contact, speaks respectfully (if not forcefully), and listens from a distance that does not put him or her in danger. An officer able to understand the perspective of young people, particularly young black men, who all too frequently have negative encounters with the police, (or in many other cases, individuals with mental illness) would be in a better position to communicate effectively to resolve the situation. These trainings, which do not rest on the assumption that problematic encounters occur because of bad officers calculating the costs and benefits of repercussion, recognize the complexity of any coercive encounters and the factors that cause abuses and negative outcomes.

Absent good leadership, management, and supervision strategies, the extent to which additional video evidence will lead to better policing is unclear. The Eric Garner case, last July on Staten Island, N.Y., and others that have been recorded demonstrate that holding police accountable to legal standards of misconduct is challenging. Cameras act only as a tool to augment good accountability practices already implemented in agencies about which we would have fewer concerns in the first place. What is needed is external pressure on agencies to adopt effective internal accountability approaches, such as early intervention systems and better selection and development of supervisors. By recognizing that abuse of authority is much more a problem of bad organizations than bad officers, President Obama should push to expand the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s resources to investigate local law enforcement agencies. Federal lawsuits have led to promising organizational change in the departments that have entered into consent decrees or memoranda of understanding and have put pressure on other agencies to adopt the contemporary standards. These investigations are relatively rare, but they are part of a federal policy initiative over which the president and Congress have direct control.

It is unfortunate that the national conversation on police authority has been caught up in the debate about body cameras. If there is any good to come out of the tragic deaths we’ve witnessed, it is that they might lead the public and political leaders to better understand police authority and to push for the implementation of real reforms. There is a reform toolkit available that starts with improving police-community connection, officer aptitude to resolve coercive encounters through justice- and awareness-based practices, and external pressure to bring about organizational change. The toolkit needs to be the central focus of the national conversation on abuse of authority.

Shea Warren Cronin, a Metropolitan College assistant professor of criminal justice, can be reached at [email protected].

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Asteroid Belt Circling Star 25 Light

Our asteroid belt is home to more than a million space rocks, varying in size from a dwarf planet to dust particles, which float between Jupiter and Mars. Astronomers have just discovered another such belt—but this one circles a different star, not our sun.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) detected this asteroid belt around the star Fomalhaut, only 25 light-years away. For years, scientists have studied Fomalhaut’s debris disk, a collection of rocky, icy, dusty bits from all the collisions that happen while planets are being created. This new data, published today in Nature Astronomy, shows the system in unprecedented detail, uncovering fingerprints of hidden worlds and evidence for planets smashing together.

Many telescopes have pointed to Fomalhaut over the years: the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in the high desert of Chile, and even the Hubble Space Telescope. Fomalhaut, which is much younger than our sun, may be a good likeness of our solar system near birth; since astronomers can’t time travel back to our sun’s formation, they instead observe other young stars, using these still-forming planetary systems as examples of what the process of making planets can look like.

Fomalhaut is an appealing choice to astronomers because it’s nearby, meaning it’s easier for astronomers to notice fine details. “This system was definitely one of the first we wanted to observe with JWST,” says co-author Marie Ygouf, research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

The Fomalhaut debris disk system, highlighting key parts of its architecture. The insets, at right, show details of the Great Dust Cloud.  András Gáspár

Before JWST, other observations revealed that Fomalhaut is surrounded by a ring of dust analogous to our own solar system’s Kuiper Belt, which contains all the little bits of ice and rock beyond Neptune. The new data from NASA’s superlative space telescope spot not only this outer ring, but also an inner ring more analogous to the asteroid belt. There’s a third feature, too—a giant clump of dust, lovingly referred to as the Great Dust Cloud. 

[Related: These 6 galaxies are so huge, they’ve been nicknamed ‘universe breakers’]

Between Fomalhaut’s outer Kuiper-Belt-like ring and its inner asteroid-belt-like ring is a gap. “The new gap that we see hints at the presence of an ice-giant mass planet, which would be an analog of what we see in the solar system,” like Neptune or Uranus, says lead author András Gáspár, astronomer at the University of Arizona. This unseen planet could be “carving out the gaps” via gravity, explains fellow Arizona astronomer and co-author Schuyler Wolff.

Fomalhaut’s asteroid belt has a curious tilt, appearing at a different angle from the outer ring, as though something knocked it off kilter. A knock, in fact, might explain the misalignment, the researchers say—a major collision could have tilted the asteroid belt, creating the massive dust cloud, too. 

All signs in Fomalhaut “point to a solar system that is alive and active, full of rocky bodies smashing into each other,” says co-author Jonathan Aguilar, staff scientist at Space Telescope Science Institute, home of JWST’s mission control.

JWST was uniquely suited to take these photos of Fomalhaut’s dust. The dust glows brightest in the mid-infrared, at long wavelengths unreachable by most other observatories. A particularly powerful telescope is necessary, too, to resolve enough details—and JWST is the only scope with both these features. The space telescope’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) also has a coronagraph, a small dot to block out a bright star and reveal the surrounding dust.

“Mid-infrared wavelengths are so important for debris disk observations because that’s where you observe dust emission, and the distribution of dust tells you a lot about what’s going on,” says Aguilar. The new view of Fomalhaut “showcases the scientific power of JWST and MIRI even just a year into operations,” he adds.

[Related: NASA sampled a ‘fluffy’ asteroid that could hold clues to our existence]

It’s certainly interesting to see what our solar system may have looked like in its infancy—but Fomalhaut isn’t an exact clone. Fomalhaut’s Kuiper Belt and asteroid belt doppelgangers are more spread out and contain more material than those features in our solar system. Although Fomalhaut has more movement and smashing than our solar system does now, our planets had a similar phase in the distant past, known as the Late Heavy Bombardment. Astronomers hope debris disks seen by JWST will help them figure out the details of how solar systems are born, and how they grow up to look like our own set of planets.

“We are at this frontier of unexplored territory, and I’m especially excited to see what JWST finds towards planet-forming disks,” says University of Michigan astronomer Jenny Calahan, who was not involved in the new findings. “Looking at these JWST images I was reminded of the moment that I got glasses for the first time,” adds Calahan. “It just changes your whole perspective when the world (or a debris disk) comes into focus at a level that you aren’t used to.”

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