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"Upgraded" Nier Replicant announced for PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Eurogamer - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 12:53

Square Enix has confirmed it is bringing an "upgraded" version of Nier Replicant to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

The remake of the decade-old action RPG was announced earlier today on a livestream celebrating the game's tenth anniversary. Whilst Platinum Games isn't involved in the upgrade - that's being led by Toylogic - Takahisa Taura, who worked as the senior game designer on Nier: Automata, is reportedly involved (thanks, Siliconera).

"NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139..., an upgraded version of the original, is now in development for PS4, Xbox One and Steam!" the developer said via the official Nier Twitter account. "Enter an apocalyptic world as you play as a brother on a quest to cure his sister of a deadly disease in this unique action RPG."

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Categories: Video Games

US Officials Use Mobile Ad Location Data to Study How COVID-19 Spreads

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 12:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Wall Street Journal: Government officials across the U.S. are using location data from millions of cellphones in a bid to better understand the movements of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic and how they may be affecting the spread of the disease... The data comes from the mobile advertising industry rather than cellphone carriers. The aim is to create a portal for federal, state and local officials that contains geolocation data in what could be as many as 500 cities across the U.S., one of the people said, to help plan the epidemic response... It shows which retail establishments, parks and other public spaces are still drawing crowds that could risk accelerating the transmission of the virus, according to people familiar with the matter... The data can also reveal general levels of compliance with stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, according to experts inside and outside government, and help measure the pandemic's economic impact by revealing the drop-off in retail customers at stores, decreases in automobile miles driven and other economic metrics. The CDC has started to get analyses based on location data through through an ad hoc coalition of tech companies and data providers — all working in conjunction with the White House and others in government, people said. The CDC and the White House didn't respond to requests for comment. It's the cellphone carriers turning over pandemic-fighting data in Germany, Austria, Spain, Belgium, the U.K., according to the article, while Israel mapped infections using its intelligence agencies' antiterrorism phone-tracking. But so far in the U.S., "the data being used has largely been drawn from the advertising industry. "The mobile marketing industry has billions of geographic data points on hundreds of millions of U.S. cell mobile devices..."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Should Students Still Be Graded In the Time of Covid-19?

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 09:34
theodp writes: The LA Times reports that controversies over grading are roiling universities and colleges, as the coronavirus outbreak prompted them to shift to online learning and send most students home to disparate circumstances. Some students and faculty believe that normal grading practices during these times are deeply unfair, while others feel students should be able to choose between a letter grade or pass/fail, arguing that earning high marks can distinguish them for jobs, scholarships or graduate school. At Harvard, all undergraduates will receive grades of either "Emergency Satisfactory" or "Emergency Unsatisfactory" in their spring classes. Faculty may supplement this terminology with a "qualitative assessment of student learning." The coronavirus situation has also prompted grading changes at the high school level. The College Board announced that all AP exams will be streamlined and only include questions on material covered thru early March. Students taking the AP Computer Science Principles course will not even be subjected to an AP exam in 2020 but can still earn college credit.

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Who gets to write video game history?

Eurogamer - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 09:26

In Spring 2016, I took part in a rather unusual archaeological dig. There was no dirt, no trowelling - in fact the excavation didn't even take place outside. It was just me, in my childhood bedroom, digging through old copies of Official Nintendo Magazine and realising that I could map my childhood obsession with video games from the stacks hidden in my bookshelf. Opening up an issue from February 2006 I found a feature lauding the mysterious new 'Nintendo Revolution' console and a caption jibing "Good looks and great to play with. Revolution sounds like our ideal girl." It's a window into a different time. 14 years later and some things have changed- we didn't get a Revolution, we got a Wii. I've grown up. Games journalism (for the most part) has too.

Back in 2016 someone else was also rifling through some old stuff in their house, but their discovery would draw more attention. Dan Tiebold found the last known existing Nintendo PlayStation prototype in his dad Terry's attic. The console represents a turning point for the games industry; Nintendo and Sony were to collaborate on an add-on to the SNES. Nintendo infamously snubbed Sony in 1991 when it announced it had instead made a deal with Phillips. Sony would go on to release its own console, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward to 2020 and the Nintendo PlayStation was once again in the limelight as Terry Diebold put his up for auction. On March 6th, Greg McLemore paid $380,000 in total to get his hands on a piece of hardware that had been touted as priceless. As an archaeologist, I'm familiar with the buzz that can surround individual artefacts, and the cognitive dissonance on display in auction houses putting the hammer down on 'priceless' objects to the highest bidder. While I've been intrigued by the billing of the Nintendo PlayStation as a fable turned to fortune, I wondered what video game historians and preservationists made of the furore surrounding it.

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Categories: Video Games

NYT Investigates America's 'Lost Month' for Coronavirus Testing

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 06:41
The New York Times interviewed over 50 current and former U.S. health officials, senior scientists, company executives, and administration officials to investigate America's "lost month" without widespread coronavirus testing, "when the world's richest country — armed with some of the most highly trained scientists and infectious disease specialists — squandered its best chance of containing the virus's spread." With capacity so limited, the Center for Disease Control's criteria for who was tested remained extremely narrow for weeks to come: only people who had recently traveled to China or had been in contact with someone who had the virus. The lack of tests in the states also meant local public health officials could not use another essential epidemiological tool: surveillance testing. To see where the virus might be hiding, nasal swab samples from people screened for the common flu would also be checked for the coronavirus... Even though researchers around the country quickly began creating tests that could diagnose Covid-19, many said they were hindered by the Food and Drug Administration's approval process. The new tests sat unused at labs around the country. Stanford was one of them. Researchers at the world-renowned university had a working test by February, based on protocols published by the World Health Organization.... By early March, after federal officials finally announced changes to expand testing, it was too late. With the early lapses, containment was no longer an option. The tool kit of epidemiology would shift — lockdowns, social disruption, intensive medical treatment — in hopes of mitigating the harm. Now, the United States has more than 100,000 coronavirus cases, the most of any country in the world... And still, many Americans sickened by the virus cannot get tested... In tacit acknowledgment of the shortage, Mr. Trump asked South Korea's president on Monday to send as many test kits as possible from the 100,000 produced there daily, more than the country needs. Public health experts reacted positively to the increased capacity. But having the ability to diagnose the disease three months after it was first disclosed by China does little to address why the United States was unable to do so sooner, when it might have helped reduce the toll of the pandemic.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

One Woman Can Smell Parkinson's Disease Before Symptoms Manifest

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 03:46
"For most of her life, Joy Milne had a superpower that she was totally oblivious to," reports NPR. Long-time Slashdot reader doug141 explains what happened next: Milne's husband's natural odor changed when he was 31. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's at 45. When Joy walked into a Parkinson's support group, she smelled the same odor on everybody. A Parkinson's researcher tested her with blind samples from early stage patients, late-stage patients, and controls... NPR tells the story of that test, which took place at the University of Edinburgh with a Parkinson's researcher named Tilo Kunath: [O]ut of all the samples, Joy made only one mistake. She identified a man in the control group, the group without Parkinson's, as having the disease. But many months later, Kunath says, that man actually approached him at an event and said, "Tilo, you're going to have to put me in the Parkinson's pile because I've just been diagnosed." It was incontrovertible: Joy not only could smell Parkinson's but could smell it even in the absence of its typical medical presentation. Kunath and fellow scientists published their work in ACS Central Science in March 2019, listing Joy as a co-author. Their research identified certain specific compounds that may contribute to the smell that Joy noticed on her husband and other Parkinson's patients. Joy and her super smelling abilities have opened up a whole new realm of research, Kunath says... Joy's superpower is so unusual that researchers all over the world have started working with her and have discovered that she can identify several kinds of illnesses — tuberculosis, Alzheimer's disease, cancer and diabetes. Kunath says the ultimate goal is developing a new tool that can detect detect Parkinson's early. "Imagine a society where you could detect such a devastating condition before it's causing problems and then prevent the problems from even occurring."

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Cringely Predicts 2020 Will See 'the Death of IT'

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 01:51
Long-time technology pundit Robert Cringely writes: IT — Information Technology — grew out of something we called MIS — Management Information Systems — but both meant a kid in a white shirt who brought you a new keyboard when yours broke. Well, the kid is now gone, sent home with everyone else, and that kid isn't coming back... ever. IT is near death, fading by the day. But don't blame COVID-19 because the death of IT was inevitable. This novel coronavirus just made it happen a little quicker... Amazon has been replacing all of our keyboards for some time now, along with our mice and our failed cables, and even entire PCs. IT has been changing steadily from kids taking elevators up from the sub-basement to Amazon Prime trucks rolling-up to your mailbox. At the same time, our network providers have been working to limit their truck rolls entirely. Stop by the Comcast storefront to get your cable modem, because nobody is going to come to install it if you aren't the first person living there to have cable... Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) extends both the network and a security model end-to-end over any network including 4G or 5G wireless. Some folks will run their applications in their end device, whether it is a PC, phone, tablet, whatever, and some will run their applications in the same cloud as SASE, in which case everything will be that much faster and more secure. That's end end-game if there is one — everything in the cloud with your device strictly for input and output, painting screens compressed with HTML5. It's the end of IT because your device will no longer contain anything so it can be simply replaced via Amazon if it is damaged or lost, with the IT kid in the white shirt becoming an Uber driver. Since COVID-19 is trapping us in our homes it is forcing this transition to happen faster than it might have. But it was always going to happen.

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Working From Home Hasn't Broken the Internet

Slashdot - Sun, 29/03/2020 - 00:51
sixoh1 shared this story from the Wall Street Journal: Home internet and wireless connectivity in the U.S. have largely withstood unprecedented demands as more Americans work and learn remotely. Broadband and wireless service providers say traffic has jumped in residential areas at times of the day when families would typically head to offices and schools. Still, that surge in usage hasn't yet resulted in widespread outages or unusually long service disruptions, industry executives and analysts say. That is because the biggest increases in usage are happening during normally fallow periods. Some service providers have joked that internet usage during the pandemic doesn't compare to the Super Bowl or season finale of the popular HBO show "Game of Thrones" in terms of strain on their networks, Evan Swarztrauber, senior policy adviser to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said this week on a call hosted by consulting company Recon Analytics Inc.Broadband consumption during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m . has risen by more than 50% since January, according to broadband data company OpenVault, which measured connections in more than one million homes. Usage during the peak early-evening hours increased 20% as of March 25. OpenVault estimates that average data consumption per household in March will reach nearly 400 gigabytes, a nearly 11% increase over the previous monthly record in January.... Some carriers that use cells on wheels and aerial network-support drones after hurricanes or tornadoes are now deploying those resources to neighborhoods with heavy wireless-service usage and places where health-care facilities need additional connectivity. Several wireless carriers including Verizon, T-Mobile US Inc. and AT&T Inc. have been given temporary access to fresh spectrum over the past week to bolster network capacity. While Netflix is lowering its video quality in Canada, the Journal reports Netflix isn't as worried about the EU: Netflix Vice President Dave Temkin, speaking on a videoconference hosted by the network analytics company Kentik, said his engineers took some upgrades originally planned for the holiday season near the end of 2020 and simply made them sooner. A European regulator earlier this month asked Netflix to shift all its videos to standard-definition to avoid taxing domestic networks. Mr. Temkin said Netflix managed to shave its bandwidth usage using less drastic measures. "None of it is actually melting down," he said. And the article also has stats from America's ISPs and cellphone providers: AT&T said cellular-data traffic was almost flat, with more customers using their home wi-fi networks instead -- but voice phone calls increased as much as 44%.Charter saw increases in daytime network activity, but in most markets "levels remain well below capacity and typical peak evening usage."Comcast says its peak traffic increased 20%, but they're still running at 40% capacity.

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Dark Web Hosting Site Suffers Cyberattack, 7,600 Sites Down

Slashdot - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 23:36
It's the largest free web hosting provider for dark web services. But remember back in 2018 when its 6,500 sites all went down after attackers accessed its database and deleted all its accounts? It happened again -- for the second time in 16 months. And this time, ZDNet reports, Daniel's Host won't be coming back online for several months: Almost 7,600 dark web portals have been taken offline following the hack, during which an attacker deleted the web hosting portal's entire database. This happened earlier this month, on March 10, at around 03:30 am UTC, according to a message posted on DH's now-defunct portal by Daniel Winzen, the German software developer behind the service. Winzen said that an attacker accessed the DH backend and deleted all hosting-related databases. The attacker then deleted Winzen's database account and created a new one to use for future operations. Winzen discovered the hack the next morning, at which time most of the data was already lost. The service doesn't keep backups by design. In an email to ZDNet today, Winzen said he has yet to find out how the hacker breached the DH backend. However, since the dark web hosting service was more of a hobby, Winzen didn't look too much into it. "I am currently very busy with my day-to-day life and other projects, I decided to not spend too much time investigating," he told ZDNet... Winzen said that users should consider the passwords for their DH accounts as "leaked" and change them if they used the same password for other accounts. Winzen told ZDNet he still hopes to relaunch the service "at a later time" with "new features and improvements." "Not having to administrate the services all the time will hopefully give me more time for actual development."

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To Conserve Bandwidth, Should Opting In Be Required Before Autoplaying Videos?

Slashdot - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 22:34
An anonymous reader writes: We keep seeing stories about how providers are slowing down their streaming speed to reduce bandwidth usage during this period when many are being asked to stay at home... But it seems that many are totally ignoring a very obvious way to reduce usage significantly, and that is by disabling autoplay on their web sites and in their apps. To give an example, a couple of days ago I was watching a show on Hulu, and either I was more sleepy than I thought or the show was more boring than I had expected (probably some combination of both), but I drifted off to sleep. Two hours later I awoke and realize that Hulu had streamed two additional episodes that no one was watching. I searched in vain for a way to disable autoplay of the next episode, but if there is some way to do it I could not find it. What I wonder is how many people even want autoplay? I believe Netflix finally gave their users a way to disable it, but they need to affirmatively do so via a setting somewhere. But many other platforms give their users no option to disable autoplay. That is also true of many individual apps that can be used on a Roku or similar device. If conserving bandwidth is really that important, then my contention is that autoplaying of the next episode should be something you need to opt in for, not something enabled by default that either cannot be disabled or that forces the user to search for a setting to disable. "Firefox will disable autoplay," writes long-time Slashdot user bobs666 (adding "That's it use Firefox.") And there are ways to disable autoplay in the user settings on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. But wouldn't it make more sense to disable autoplay by default -- at least for the duration of this unusual instance of peak worldwide demand? I'd be interested in hearing from Slashdot's readers. Do you use autoplay -- or have you disabled it? And do you think streaming companies should turn it off by default?

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How Devs Can Help Beat the COVID-19 Pandemic

Slashdot - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 21:34
The state of New York hopes to "amplify" its response to COVID-19 by launching tech-driven products with top companies, and it's looking for professional volunteers with experience in software development, hardware deployment/end-user support, and data science (as well as areas like product management, design, operations management). Meanwhile, IBM's 2020 "Call for Code Global Challenge" is a virtual hackathon with a $200,000 prize, and they've now "expanded its focus" to include the effects of COVID-19. Tech columnist Mike Melanson writes: But this is just the beginning of the COVID-19 hackathon boom, which now includes efforts organized by tech giants, state governments, and grassroots initiatives alike. For example, the World Health Organization got together with technology companies and platforms such as AWS, Facebook, Giphy, Microsoft, Pinterest, Salesforce, Slack, TikTok, Twitter and WeChat to launch the COVID-19 Global Hackathon 1.0, which is running as we speak with a deadline for submissions of March 30th at 9 AM PST. If you're too late, fret not, for there are many more, such as the CODEVID-19 hackathon we mentioned last week that has a weekly rolling deadline. And deadlines aside, the U.S. Digital Response for COVID-19 is working to pair technology, data, and government professionals with those who need them, in a form of nationwide, technological mutual aid... [T]he COVID-19 open-source help desk is "a fast-track 'stack overflow' where you can get answers from the very people who wrote the software that you use or who are experts in its use." And if you happen to be either an open source author or expert, feel free to pitch in on answering questions... On the open data side of things, for example, GitHub offers a guide on open collaboration on COVID-19, while StackOverflow looks at the myriad ways to help the fight against COVID-19 from home. ProgrammableWeb has a list of developer hackathons to combat COVID-19, and even the Golang team offers some guidance for Go, the Go community, and the pandemic, with Erlang also joining in.

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Doc Searls: 'Zoom Needs to Clean Up Its Privacy Act'

Slashdot - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 20:38
The former editor-in-chief of the Linux Journal just published an annotated version of Zoom's privacy policy. Searls calls it "creepily chummy with the tracking-based advertising biz (also called adtech). I'll narrow my inquiry down to the "Does Zoom sell Personal Data?" section of the privacy policy, which was last updated on March 18. The section runs two paragraphs, and I'll comment on the second one, starting here: Zoom does use certain standard advertising tools which require Personal Data ... What they mean by that is adtech. What they're also saying here is that Zoom is in the advertising business, and in the worst end of it: the one that lives off harvested personal data. What makes this extra creepy is that Zoom is in a position to gather plenty of personal data, some of it very intimate (for example with a shrink talking to a patient) without anyone in the conversation knowing about it. (Unless, of course, they see an ad somewhere that looks like it was informed by a private conversation on Zoom.) A person whose personal data is being shed on Zoom doesn't know that's happening because Zoom doesn't tell them. There's no red light, like the one you see when a session is being recorded. If you were in a browser instead of an app, an extension such as Privacy Badger could tell you there are trackers sniffing your ass. And, if your browser is one that cares about privacy, such as Brave, Firefox or Safari, there's a good chance it would be blocking trackers as well. But in the Zoom app, you can't tell if or how your personal data is being harvested. (think, for example, Google Ads and Google Analytics). There's no need to think about those, because both are widely known for compromising personal privacy. (See here. And here. Also Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger's Re-Engineering Humanity and Shoshana Zuboff's In the Age of Surveillance Capitalism.) Zoom claims it needs personal data to "improve" its users "experience" with ads -- though Searls isn't satisfied. ("Nobody goes to Zoom for an 'advertising experience,' personalized or not. And nobody wants ads aimed at their eyeballs elsewhere on the Net by third parties using personal information leaked out through Zoom.") His conclusion? "What Zoom's current privacy policy says is worse than 'You don't have any privacy here.' It says, 'We expose your virtual necks to data vampires who can do what they will with it.'"

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Nemesis in beach trunks is the true Resident Evil 3 remake horror

Eurogamer - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 20:07

Modders are having fun with the Resident Evil 3 remake demo - especially with Nemesis.

The game's teethy terror usually wears clothes - but in a new mod, he wears nothing but beach trunks. Umbrella-themed beach trunks.

The Resident Evil 3 Remake Beachboy Nemesis Outfit PC Mod, created by a Patreon-funded modder called Marcos RC, does exactly what it says on the tin. I'll let the footage speak for itself:

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Categories: Video Games

America's FDA Grants Emergency Approval for a 15-Minute Coronavirus Test

Slashdot - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 19:42
While many coronavirus tests provide results within hours or days, America's Food and Drug Administration "has authorized the emergency use" of a new rapid coronavirus test from medical device manufacturer Abbott that could results in less than 15 minutes, reports NBC News: The FDA told Abbott it authorized the test's use after determining that "it is reasonable to believe that your product may be effective in diagnosing COVID-19," based on the scientific evidence presented. The agency added that the "known and potential benefits" of the test outweigh potential risks, such as false positives or negatives. The technology being used for the new test is similar to the one found in rapid flu tests, according to the FDA's authorization letter and Abbott. The FDA also said Friday it has issued at least 19 other emergency use authorizations for diagnostic tests to detect COVID-19, and that it is working with more than 220 test developers who are expected to submit emergency-use authorization requests soon... Abbott said it is ramping up production to deliver 50,000 tests to the U.S. health care system starting next week.

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Building Xbox Series X: why Microsoft redefined the console form factor

Eurogamer - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 19:03

Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of The Game Awards back in December 2019 was Microsoft's decision to reveal Xbox Series X: the name, the branding - and most crucially, the form factor. It was a console quite unlike anything we'd seen before, possibly the most original home console design since Nintendo's GameCube way back in 2001. During our recent visit to the Microsoft campus in Redmond WA, we had a chance to meet key members of the hardware team that created this remarkable-looking device - and in the process, we gained a much better understanding of why Xbox Series X required a top to bottom revamp of the traditional console form factor.

"When we started thinking about how we would design this, everything was theoretical," says Chris Kujawski, principal designer at Microsoft. "We didn't have stuff we could test, we didn't have measurements we could take, we knew it was going to be powerful and we knew it was going to require a totally different way of thinking about how to design a console."

The key issue facing the designers came down to power and target performance. The Xbox system architects decided from the get-go that the next generation console had to deliver an absolute minimum of twice the overall graphics performance of the Xbox One X, meaning 12 teraflops of GPU compute, sitting alongside the Zen 2 cores that would deliver a 4x improvement in CPU power. At the same time, the mandate was set that the machine also had to equal the acoustic performance of the Xbox One X - a tall order when system power would be increasing significantly.

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Categories: Video Games

Physicists Disagree Over New Dark Matter Claim

Slashdot - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 18:34
sciencehabit shared this article from Science magazine: For decades, astrophysicists have thought some sort of invisible dark matter must pervade the galaxies and hold them together, although its nature remains a mystery. Now, three physicists claim their observations of empty patches of sky rule out one possible explanation of the strange substance — that it is made out of unusual particles called sterile neutrinos. But others argue the data show no such thing. "I think that for most of the people in the community this is the end of the story," says study author Benjamin Safdi, an astroparticle physicist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. But Kevork Abazajian, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, Irvine, says the new analysis is badly flawed. "To be honest, this is one of the worst cases of cherry picking the data that I've seen," he says. In unpublished work, another group looked at similar patches of sky and saw the very same sign of sterile neutrinos that eluded Safdi... Alexey Boyarsky, an astroparticle theorist at Leiden University, is unconvinced. "I think this paper is wrong," he says. Boyarsky says he and his colleagues performed a similar, unpublished analysis in 2018, also using images from XMM-Newton, and did see a 3.5-keV glow from the empty sky, just expected from peering through a halo of sterile neutrinos.

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Preservationists unearth Sega's ultra rare Master System traffic safety game

Eurogamer - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 18:11

Video game preservationists have obtained a 33-year-old, extremely rare Sega Master System educational game about traffic safety - and even released an English language version.

The game is called Game de Check! Koutsuu Anzen, which was developed by Sega for release in 1987 on a commission from The Tokyo Marine and Fire Insurance company. It is thought only 300 copies were made, and it wasn't sold - instead it was available for rent only, making it one of the rarest Master System cartridges in existence. You can see gameplay in the video below:

SMS Power, the Sega 8-bit preservation group, clubbed together to buy a cartridge for around £3800 from a Japanese auction in December 2019. Here's what the team received, courtesy of a Japan to France delivery with help from the NPO Game Preservation Society:

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Categories: Video Games

Some Researchers are Trying Mass Testing for Covid-19 Antibodies

Slashdot - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 17:34
An anonymous reader quotes Wired: Next week, blood banks across the Netherlands are set to begin a nationwide experiment. As donations arrive — about 7,000 of them per week is the norm — they'll be screened with the usual battery of tests that keep the blood supply safe, plus one more: a test for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Then, in a few weeks, another batch of samples will get the same test. And after that, depending on the numbers, there could be further rounds. The blood donors should be fairly representative of Dutch adults ages 18 to 75, and most importantly, they'll all be healthy enough for blood donation — or at least outwardly so... Identifying what proportion of the population has already been infected is key to making the right decisions about containment... [B]ecause no Covid-19-specific serological [antibody] tests have been fully vetted yet, the FDA's latest guidance is that they shouldn't be relied upon for diagnoses. But in epidemiology circles, those tests are a sought-after tool for understanding the scope of the disease. Since February — which was either three weeks or a lifetime ago — epidemiologists have been trying to get the full scope of the number of infections here in the U.S... [A]s the disease has continued to spread and a patchwork of local "stay at home" rules begins to bend the course of the disease, projecting who has the disease and where the hot spots are has become more difficult for models to capture. Instead, you need boots-on-the-ground surveillance. In other words, to fill the gap created by a lack of diagnostic tests, you need more testing — but of a different sort. This time you have to know how many total people have already fought the bug, and how recently they've fought it. "Of all the data out there, if there was a good serological assay that was very specific about individuating recent cases, that would be the best data we could have," says Alex Perkins, an epidemiologist at the University of Notre Dame. The key, he says, is drawing blood from a representative sample that would show the true scope of unobserved infections... Another motivation to develop better blood tests is the potential to develop therapeutics from antibody-rich blood serum. Wired is currently providing free access to stories about the coronavirus.

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Final Fantasy 7 Remake street date broken as Square Enix issues release warning

Eurogamer - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 17:11

Square Enix has issued a warning about the release of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, saying it cannot control the date the game comes out because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake street date has been broken, with copies finding their way into the hands of fans two weeks ahead of the official 10th April 2020 release.

In a blog post, Square Enix said the global lockdown will likely affect the distribution and retail landscape in the west at the launch of Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

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Categories: Video Games

Are There Exceptions to the Rule that Going Electric Reduces Emissions?

Slashdot - Sat, 28/03/2020 - 16:34
"Averaged over the globe, electric vehicles (EVs) already represent about a 31-percent emissions savings" writes Ars Technica, noting results from a study which also found similar savings from energy-efficient home-heating pumps. "Even in the scenario where these technologies are promoted but the grid isn't cleaned up much, there's a substantial benefit through 2050." But the researchers also separated the world into 59 regions, then used data on the "greenness" of each country's electricity grids, considering the full range of available vehicle types and home-heating methods as well as their predicted "uptake" of green technologies from 2015 to 2050. And this did identify a handful exceptions, Ars Technica reports: Compare, for example, Switzerland's exceptionally low-carbon grid to Estonia's, which runs primarily on oil shale. Swapping an internal combustion vehicle for an electric one in Switzerland cuts emissions by 70 percent, and a heat pump will cut them by about 88 percent. But in Estonia, an electric vehicle would increase emissions by 40 percent and a heat pump pushes that to an eye-watering 120 percent. A more significant exception can be found in Japan. In the scenarios with little progress on grid emissions, a decade from now, the combination of Japan's dirtier grid and preference for hybrid vehicles means that swapping in EVs doesn't quite pay... As time goes on, emissions from manufacturing electric vehicles accounts for a larger share of their total life cycle emissions, the researchers note. You can make the vehicle efficient and the grid clean, but you'll also have to clean up industry to keep shrinking that carbon footprint. The article notes that the researchers also predict continued improvements in the efficiency of electric vehicles -- with an unintended side effect. "As time goes on, emissions from manufacturing electric vehicles accounts for a larger share of their total life cycle emissions, the researchers note. "You can make the vehicle efficient and the grid clean, but you'll also have to clean up industry to keep shrinking that carbon footprint."

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