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Dorfromantik review - gentle elegance from a deceptively challenging village builder

Eurogamer - 1 hour 23 min ago

Dorfromantik is still currently in early access, though as it stands its core features are intact and there's more than enough on offer for us to provide a full review.

Dorfromantik is a journey. Even 45 hours later (a shared tally because I'm not the only one in my household besotted with it) I still discover new things about it, about how it really works. And I would never have known it to look at it. To see it for the first time is to see a game so absurdly simple, and gentle, it seems strange it has scores at all. A game about placing hexagonal tiles with little houses and trees and fields on, and creating a miniature rural idyll. But make no mistake, those scores matter, and behind that beguiling simplicity is a surprisingly challenging puzzle game.

It works like this. You place tiles one at a time, rotating them and connecting them to other tiles, trying to match the things you see on them: rivers, trees, houses, rails and fields. And if you can match a certain number of them, specified by a kind of quest tile, you will get a green tick, a xylophonic "pling!" of success, and - most importantly - more tiles. Each tile you place, depending on how you place it, scores you more points, so the more tiles you have to place, the more points you will earn. Simple.

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Categories: Video Games

UK Plastic Waste Being Dumped and Burned in Turkey, Says Greenpeace

Slashdot - 4 hours 23 min ago
UK plastic waste is being exported to Turkey and then illegally dumped and burned, according to a report. From a report: Greenpeace said about 40% -- or 210,000 tonnes -- of the UK's plastic waste exports were sent to Turkey last year. But rather than being recycled, investigators saw some of it dumped by roads, in fields and in waterways. The UK is a "global leader in tackling plastic pollution," the government said - after Greenpeace called for it to "take control" of the problem. Greenpeace's report warned Turkey was becoming Europe's "largest plastic waste dump." The charity said it had investigated 10 sites across southern Turkey and found plastic bags and packaging from UK supermarkets and retailers at all of them.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Apple Wants You To Know It Chose Not To Take a Cut of $400 Billion in Physical Goods

Slashdot - 8 hours 22 min ago
Apple is trying to convince a judge that it's not milking the App Store for all it's worth, and today the company dropped some big numbers to help make its case. From a report: Apple claims that its App Store drove $400 billion worth of physical purchases in a single year in 2019, and that -- unlike digital purchases and subscriptions -- Apple doesn't take a cent of that money. That's according to App Store boss and longtime Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller, who also testified that the company spends a staggering $50 million a year to throw its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) event. The company's also building a new developer center at its Apple Loop headquarters in Cupertino, he says, though I didn't catch how much the company's investing in that. None of these are included in the App Store's budget, Schiller testified. Why isn't Apple trying to take a cut of physical purchases? During his testimony, Schiller explained that Apple couldn't guarantee they would actually arrive.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Rotten Tomatoes Is Launching a Linear Streaming Channel

Slashdot - 9 hours 23 min ago
Rotten Tomatoes is continuing on its quest to grow into something substantially bigger than its Tomatometer movie and TV rating scores. From a report: The website -- owned by NBCUniversal's Fandango -- expands its entertainment footprint with the launch of The Rotten Tomatoes Channel, a new over-the-top streaming service that will initially debut on on The Roku Channel. The OTT service will then come to NBCU's Peacock platform and Comcast-owned Xumo, with other distribution deals in the works including with internet pay-TV providers, according to Fandango. The first 24-hour linear video channel from Rotten Tomatoes will loop about 100 hours of premium programming around the clock on the channel, culled from RT's stable or original shows. With the launch of The Rotten Tomatoes Channel, Fandango wants to expand its audience reach and provide new entry-points into the entire Fandango ecosystem (i.e., to push movie tickets and digital sales or rentals). Some of the shows on The Rotten Tomatoes Channel will include "Countdown," a show discussing the best upcoming movies and shows according to the Tomatometer and panelists; "The Vault," a nostalgic look back at star interviews, red carpet chats, games and more from the Rotten Tomatoes archives; "Trailers Reloaded," recapping the biggest movies and shows with an extensive collection of trailers; and "Rotten Tomatoes Essentials," a look back at movies, shows, stars and directors that defined genres and eras.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Nuclear Reactions at Chernobyl Are Spiking in an Inaccessible Chamber

Slashdot - 10 hours 23 min ago
Scientists monitoring the ruins of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine have seen a surge in fission reactions in an inaccessible chamber within the complex. They are now investigating whether the problem will stabilise or require a dangerous and difficult intervention to prevent a runaway nuclear reaction. From a report: The explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 brought down walls and sealed off many rooms and corridors. Tonnes of fissile material from the interior of a reactor were strewn throughout the facility and the heat it generated melted sand from the reactor walls with concrete and steel to form lava-like and intensely radioactive substances that oozed into lower floors. One chamber, known as subreactor room 305/2, is thought to contain large amounts of this material, but it is inaccessible and hasn't been seen by human or robotic eyes since the disaster. Now, researchers have seen a spike in neutron emissions from the room, with levels increasing around 40 per cent since the start of 2016. This points to a growing nuclear fission reaction, so researchers are trying to determine if this surge will fizzle out, as previous spikes in other parts of the ruins have done, or whether they will need to find a way to access the room and intervene. Neil Hyatt at the University of Sheffield, UK, who studies nuclear waste disposal, likens the situation to "embers in a barbecue pit" and says "it's a reminder to us that it's not a problem solved, it's a problem stabilised." One suggestion for why this is happening is that a new structure placed over the ruined reactor in 2016 is causing the plant to dry out. When uranium or plutonium fuel decay radioactively, they emit neutrons, which can promote a fission reaction if the neutrons are captured by another radioactive nuclei. However, large amounts of water slow these neutrons down, preventing them from being captured. The original shelter, which was hurriedly constructed over the reactor in the months following the accident, was riddled with holes that allowed rainwater and birds inside. If the rainwater was helping to suppress reactions in room 305/2, its absence due to the new structure could mean there is no longer enough water in the room to sufficiently slow neutrons down.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Censorship, Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China

Slashdot - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 22:46
Apple has compromised on data security to placate Chinese authorities, the New York Times reported Monday, citing internal company documents and interviews with current and former Apple employees and security experts. An excerpt from the story: At the data center in Guiyang, which Apple hoped would be completed by next month, and another in the Inner Mongolia region, Apple has largely ceded control to the Chinese government. Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they're meant to secure. [...] In China, Apple has ceded legal ownership of its customers' data to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data, or GCBD, a company owned by the government of Guizhou Province, whose capital is Guiyang. Apple recently required its Chinese customers to accept new iCloud terms and conditions that list GCBD as the service provider and Apple as "an additional party." Apple told customers the change was to "improve iCloud services in China mainland and comply with Chinese regulations." The terms and conditions included a new provision that does not appear in other countries: "Apple and GCBD will have access to all data that you store on this service" and can share that data "between each other under applicable law." Under the new setup, Chinese authorities ask GCBD -- not Apple -- for Apple customers' data, Apple said. Apple believes that gives it a legal shield from American law, according to a person who helped create the arrangement. GCBD declined to answer questions about its Apple partnership. Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography at Johns Hopkins, commented on Times' story: "Apple asked a lot of people to back them against the FBI in 2015. They used every tool in the legal arsenal to prevent the US from gaining access to their phones. Do they think anyone is going to give them the benefit of the doubt now?"

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Parler Returns To Apple's App Store

Slashdot - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 22:09
Parler, a social media app popular with U.S. conservatives, returned to Apple's App Store on Monday, after the iPhone maker dropped it following the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. From a report: Parler also named George Farmer, the company's chief operating officer since March, as its new chief executive and said interim CEO Mark Meckler would be leaving. Apple said last month it would readmit Parler into its iOS App Store, after Parler proposed updates to its app and content moderation policies. read more "The entire Parler team has worked hard to address Apple's concerns without compromising our core mission," said Meckler in an emailed statement. "Anything allowed on the Parler network but not in the iOS app will remain accessible through our web-based and Android versions. This is a win-win for Parler, its users, and free speech." The Washington Post said Parler's Chief Policy Officer Amy Peikoff likened the iOS version of the app to a "Parler Lite or Parler PG." Parler is still pushing Apple to allow users to see hate speech behind a warning label, the newspaper reported. Several tech companies cut ties with Parler after the Capitol riot, accusing the app backed by prominent Republican Party donor Rebekah Mercer of failing to police violent content on its service.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Amid Public Pressure Audacity Says It Will Not Collect Telemetry Data From Users

Slashdot - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 21:00
After its recent announcement about plans to add telemetry collection prompted backlash, popular audio editor Audacity has announced it won't go ahead with the plan to collect its users' data. BetaNews reports: Audacity's new owner, Muse Group, has bowed to pressure from users and privacy advocates, announcing that the planned telemetry collection will no longer be going ahead. The company is blaming "communication mistakes" and public "misunderstanding" for the negative response to its previous data collection announcement.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Apple and Microsoft's Rivalry Had Cooled. Now It's Back and Getting Testier

Slashdot - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 20:05
After collaborating on various projects for several years, the relationship between Microsoft and Apple is getting testier again. From a report: [...] Around the time the PC character reappeared, Microsoft began bad-mouthing Apple to regulators, saying the company's App Store was anti-competitive. The Redmond, Washington, software giant had thrown in its lot with Epic Games, which was suing Apple for booting its Fortnite title from the App Store and accusing the iPhone maker of monopolistic behavior. A Microsoft executive has since testified against Apple at the trial, now in its second week, telling the court that Apple's tight control of its App Store had hurt Microsoft's own gaming efforts. The tensions are unlikely to ease once a verdict comes down because Apple and Microsoft are both looking to dominate the next big things in tech -- from artificial intelligence and cloud computing to gaming, tablets, custom processors and mixed-reality headsets. The renewed antipathy between Apple and Microsoft started about a year ago. Microsoft had developed a cloud gaming service for iPhones and iPads called xCloud. One app would let users pay a monthly fee to Microsoft and stream dozens of different gaming titles from the cloud. The service was supposed to do for gaming what Netflix did for video, appease gamers and turn Apple devices into a more powerful gaming platform backed by Xbox, one of the hottest names in the industry. But Microsoft never launched the service in its intended form, having failed to persuade Apple to loosen App Store rules forbidding all-in-one gaming services. Originally, Microsoft was barred from launching any cloud-based games at all. But a few months after concerns over the ban on streaming apps went public, Apple tweaked the rules. Microsoft can now launch a cloud gaming service, but each game must be downloaded separately, defeating the purpose of an all-in-one solution. Now Microsoft is rolling out the service on Apple devices via the web, a much less optimal experience than a real app. Around the same time, Microsoft President Brad Smith began urging U.S. and European antitrust regulators to examine Apple's practices.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Apple Music is Getting Lossless and Spatial Audio Support

Slashdot - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 19:03
Apple Music subscribers will find a big chunk of the catalog sounds better next month: The service is adding support for high-quality, lossless and spatial audio through Dolby Atmos at no additional cost, it said Monday. It'll have 20 million lossless audio songs to start, with 75 million available by the end of 2021. From a report: To try out lossless audio, you should make sure you have the latest version of Apple Music and go to Settings, Music, then Audio Quality. You can choose different resolutions for cellular and Wi-Fi connections, or just download the track. The lossless tier starts at CD quality, which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz, and goes up to 24 bit at 48 kHz and is playable natively on Apple devices. If you use external audio equipment, you can crank the quality up to 24 bit at 192 kHz. Further reading: AirPods Max, priced at $549, don't support Apple Music's lossless songs, Apple says.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Unreal developer Epic Games sues smart glasses maker Nreal

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 18:24

Chinese augmented reality headset company Nreal is being sued by Epic Games, developer of Fortnite and Unreal Engine.

If you hadn't guessed already, the squabble is over the name Nreal, which Epic Games argues is deliberately similar to its own Unreal (thanks, The Verge).

The two companies have been warring over the name for years, though this latest legal challenge from Epic appears to have been sparked by an Nreal boast it had "big news" - seemingly, that its Nreal smartglasses were being prepped for US launch later this year. I guess that's one way of throwing shades.

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Categories: Video Games

Mass Effect Legendary Edition: PS5, Xbox Series X and Series S tested

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 18:13

There's a fair degree of controversy surrounding this one - does this remaster clash with the original creator's vision, especially when it comes to its lighting and presentation? Are some of the changes to gameplay and content appropriate or indeed desirable? While the discussion plays out, there are some things that are beyond dispute. Mass Effect Legendary Edition is a truly colossal undertaking - an ambitious package that updates Bioware's creation for the 4K era, while also making much-needed tweaks to the first game's controls. And for Digital Foundry, the process of looking at this game began with one simple question: what should be the focus for our coverage and how do we begin to cover it?

The developer itself has been very open about exactly how it has approached the remastering process with its visual upgrades, while explaining in-depth how it plans to change and rebalance gameplay aspects. Our focus therefore is to produce more of an overview of the remaster, and to see how it plays out across the new wave of console hardware. And that presents some interesting discussions points: the Legendary Edition is primarily designed for the last generation of console hardware. Enhancements for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles come with 'back compat plus' - which is essentially the last-gen game code running on the new consoles, with minor tweaks in place to define resolution and frame-rate targets.

In addition to testing the game on the new machines, we also went all the way back to the beginning, running Mass Effect 1 on Xbox 360. Creative vision aside, it's here where we begin to appreciate the scale of the effort. It's truly in the 2007 original where we see the greatest push to modernise the game. Controls are improved: the first game now adopts the tighter aiming mechanics of later games, with a smaller reticle and better feedback on bullet impact. It's honestly one of the main reasons to go back to it today. There is some restraint from Bioware that shows faith to the original design however. Taking cover behind walls is still automatic, for example, rather than using a button press to snap to a wall, as in the sequels. The context-sensitive cover just isn't as dependable as Mass Effects 2 and 3's approach - but for balance, perhaps, it had to stay put.

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Categories: Video Games

Microsoft Teams Launches For Friends and Family With Free All-Day Video Calling

Slashdot - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 18:02
Microsoft is launching the personal version of Microsoft Teams today. After previewing the service nearly a year ago, Microsoft Teams is now available for free personal use amongst friends and families. From a report: The service itself is almost identical to the Microsoft Teams that businesses use, and it will allow people to chat, video call, and share calendars, locations, and files easily. Microsoft is also continuing to offer everyone free 24-hour video calls that it introduced in the preview version in November. You'll be able to meet up with up to 300 people in video calls that can last for 24 hours. Microsoft will eventually enforce limits of 60 minutes for group calls of up to 100 people after the pandemic, but keep 24 hours for 1:1 calls. While the preview initially launched on iOS and Android, Microsoft Teams for personal use now works across the web, mobile, and desktop apps. Microsoft is also allowing Teams personal users to enable its Together mode -- a feature that uses AI to segment your face and shoulders and place you together with other people in a virtual space. Skype got this same feature back in December.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

DF Direct Weekly takes on the PSVR2 spec leak, The Coalition on UE5 and RetroTink 5x

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 17:31

Eleven episodes in and we're not still run out of chat! DF Direct Weekly is where the core team members take a break from their tasks every Thursday to discuss the biggest tech stories of the week. The show goes out on Saturday to members of the Digital Foundry Supporter Program, who also provide excellent source material for our weekly Q+A. The show then gets its public release every Monday, where you shall discover what we think about topics as diverse as The Coalition's announcement that it's working with Unreal Engine 5, to the reveal of the Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti notebook GPU, to the leak of the PSVR2 specifications.

We also like to spend a bit of time talking about the content we're working on and some of the reaction to it, with Alex Battaglia particularly forthright about the reaction to his Resident Evil Village PC breakdown in particular. John Linneman discusses his live stream on the brilliant RetroTink 5X scaler (watch that stream here, it's great!). Meanwhile, we also talk about some of the behind the scenes goodies given away to supporters, including a two-hour retro Q+A, and a look back to God of War 3 way back in 2010 amongst other things via our 'Classic FPS Remastered' series. This is where we dig out library captures from decade-old hard drives, re-analyse the footage with today's tools and sympathetically upscale 720p video for today's 2160p displays.

For those interested in specific segments, here are some time codes for you:

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Categories: Video Games

Mario Golf: Super Rush has a mode where you race across courses on foot

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 17:23

Nintendo has shown off an extended look at several new modes coming to Mario Golf: Super Rush, as well as the game's full character roster.

Speed Golf is a fresh mode where players race each other on foot across the golf course in-between taking shots. (If only karts existed in Mario's world!)

While dashing, players can use items to regain stamina and special attacks to thwack the ball/other players out of the way. (Seriously, why isn't Mario Golf Kart a thing?)

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Categories: Video Games

Chivalry 2 crossplay open beta kicks off next week

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 17:10

The Chivalry 2 crossplay open beta kicks off next week, developer Torn Banner Studios has announced.

The multiplayer first-person slasher inspired by medieval movie battles launches its new open beta on 27th May. It ends on 1st June.

The open beta is a free download on PC via the Epic Games Store, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, and on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S.

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Categories: Video Games

Microsoft's LinkedIn Accused by Noted China Critic of Censorship

Slashdot - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 17:00
A prominent critic of China based in the U.K. said Microsoft's LinkedIn froze his account and removed content criticizing the country's government, the latest in a series of allegations that the networking website had censored users -- even outside of the Asian nation -- to appease authorities in Beijing. From a report: Peter Humphrey, a British corporate investigator and former journalist who accesses LinkedIn from his home in Surrey, England, said he received notification from LinkedIn last month that comments he had published on the platform had been removed. The comments, seen by Bloomberg News, called the Chinese government a "repressive dictatorship" and criticized the country's state media organizations as "propaganda mouthpieces." In late April, Humphrey said LinkedIn sent him several notifications that critical comments he posted about China's government and state-controlled broadcaster China Global Television Network, or CGTN, had been removed, on the grounds that the comments constituted "bullying and harassment" or "spam and scams." On April 26, Humphrey said he couldn't access his LinkedIn profile. When Humphrey tried to log in, he said he was met with a message stating his profile had been "restricted" due to "behavior that appears to violate our Terms of Service." After Bloomberg News contacted LinkedIn for comment last week, the company reinstated Humphrey's account and restored some of his comments. Others were not. "Our team has reviewed the action, based on our appeals process, and found it was an error," said Leonna Spilman, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn. Spilman declined to comment further regarding Humphrey's account.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

AT&T Merges Media Assets With Discovery in Blockbuster Deal

Slashdot - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 16:02
AT&T has agreed to spin off its media operations in a deal with Discovery that will create a new entertainment company, merging assets ranging from CNN and HBO to HGTV and the Food Network. From a report: AT&T will receive $43 billion in cash, debt securities and debt retention, with AT&T shareholders getting stock representing 71% of the new company, the companies said in a statement Monday. The deal is structured as a tax-advantaged Reverse Morris Trust. Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav is to lead the new entity. WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar's future is to be determined, AT&T CEO John Stankey said on a conference call discussing the deal. The plan, first reported by Bloomberg News, would combine Discovery's reality-TV empire with AT&T's vast media holdings, creating a formidable competitor to Netflix and Walt Disney. It marks a retreat for AT&T's entertainment-industry ambitions after years of working to assemble telecom and media assets under one roof. AT&T, now the world's most heavily indebted nonfinancial company, gained some of the biggest brands in entertainment through its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, completed in 2018. Further reading: Jason Kilar, the WarnerMedia chief, is said to be negotiating his exit.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The best external hard drives for PS5 game storage

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 15:52

With the recent release of a new PS5 update that finally allows you to move PS5 games to external USB storage, we thought it would be wise to take a quick look at some of the best external hard drives for PS5 game storage.

Before we get into it, if you've already purchased an external hard drive for PS4, you should have no issues using one of these for your PS5 as well. It may need to be reformatted when you plug it in (which will wipe all current data on the drive) but after that quick process, you'll be good to go.

If, perhaps, you've upgraded your PS4 with an internal hard drive, you could also consider buying a cheap hard drive enclosure and converting it to an external drive. It'll be a quick and easy fix but will obviously take your PS4 out of commission for any future use - unless you reinstall the old drive.

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Categories: Video Games

Walsall council criticised for enormous "Super Mario" plant pots

Eurogamer - Mon, 17/05/2021 - 15:39

The arrival of 15 enormous green plant pots in Walsall has prompted criticism from local residents, who say they're a waste of public cash and look like "something from Super Mario Brothers".

Walsall council has been slammed for splashing taxpayer pounds on the oversized planters, which have been arranged throughout the town centre.

Birmingham Mail reported that the spending has come at a time its local authority is being asked to cut £29m from its budget - and these plant pots don't look Cheep Cheep.

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Categories: Video Games
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