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Worms Rumble is a real-time take on the classic formula, includes a battle royale mode

Eurogamer - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 22:40

Team 17 has unveiled the latest entry in its long-running Worms franchise: a 32-players, real-time spin on the classic turn-based battle formula called Worms Rumble that's coming to PS4, PS5, and PC later this year - and, yes, it has a battle royale mode.

While the shift to real-time combat is a significant one, the classic Worms DNA is still very much evident in Worms Rumble, based on the announcement trailer below.

Slapstick battles are, for instance, still viewed from a side-on perspective as players hurl themselves around a series of colourful, partly destructible arenas - and it sounds like plenty of classic weapons will be returning too (alongside a variety of new additions), with Team 17 making reference to the likes of the Bazooka, Shotgun, Sheep, Holy Hand-grenade, and Banana Bomb in its announcement material.

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Categories: Video Games

Ads Are Taking Over Samsung's Galaxy Smartphones

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 22:05
Max Weinbach, writing for Android Police: I have been using Samsung phones every day for almost 4 years. It was because Samsung had fantastic hardware paired with --depending on the year -- good software. 2020 is the first year in a while I'm not using a Samsung phone as my daily driver. The reason? Ads. Ads in Samsung phones never really bothered me, at least not until the past few months. It started with the Galaxy Z Flip. A tweet from Todd Haselton of CNBC is what really caught my eye. Samsung had put an ad from DirectTV in the stock dialer app. This is really something I never would have expected from any smartphone company, let alone Samsung. It showed up in the "Places" tab in the dialer app, which is in partnership with Yelp and lets you search for different businesses directly from the dialer app so you don't need to Google somewhere to find the address or phone number. I looked into it, to see if this was maybe a mistake on Yelp's part, accidentally displaying an ad where it shouldn't have, but nope. The ad was placed by Samsung, in an area where it could blend in so they could make money. Similar ads exist throughout a bunch of Samsung apps. Samsung Music has ads that look like another track in your library. Samsung Health and Samsung Pay have banners for promotional ads. The stock weather app has ads that look like they could be news. There is also more often very blatant advertising in most of these apps as well. Samsung Music will give you a popup ad for Sirius XM, even though Spotify is built into the Samsung Music app. You can hide the SiriusXM popup, but only for 7 days at a time. A week later, it will be right back there waiting for you. Samsung will also give you push notification ads for new products from Bixby, Samsung Pay, and Samsung Push Service.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

A Massive Star Has Seemingly Vanished from Space With No Explanation

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 21:25
Astronomers are perplexed by the unexplained disappearance of a massive star located 75 million light years away. From a report: A decade ago, light from this colossal star brightened its entire host galaxy, which is officially known as PHL 293B and is nicknamed the Kinman Dwarf. But when scientists checked back in on this farflung system last summer, the glow of the star -- estimated to be roughly 100 times more massive than the Sun -- had been extinguished. The head-scratching discovery was announced in a study published on Tuesday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "We were quite surprised when we couldn't find the star," said lead author Andrew Allan, a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin, in a call. "It is a very extreme star, and it has quite a strong wind, so we can distinguish it from the galaxy. That's what we couldn't see in the newer observations." The mysterious series of events began when Allan and his colleagues imaged the Kinman Dwarf in August 2019, using the ESPRESSO instrument at the Very Large Telescope in Chile. The team initially set out to learn more about massive stars located in galaxies with low metal densities. Given that the starlit Kinman Dwarf had been observed by other astronomers between 2001 and 2011, the team knew that it would be a good target for their research. "Not a lot is understood about stars in those kinds of environments, so that was the main reason we wanted to look," Allan said. "We are interested in massive stars at the end of their lives in those kinds of environments, so we were really just hoping to get a better resolution observation."

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Tesla Becomes Most Valuable Automaker in Latest Stock Rally

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 20:45
Tesla on Wednesday became the highest-valued automaker as its shares surged to record highs and the electric carmaker's market capitalization overtook that of former front runner Toyota Motors. From a report: Tesla shares gained 5% in early morning trade to a record of $1,133, boosting the company's market cap to $209.47 billion - roughly $6 billion more than Toyota is currently valued by investors. Tesla is now worth more than triple the combined value of U.S. automakers General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co. The shares' meteoric rise, up more than 163% since the start of 2020, highlight growing confidence among investors about the future of electric vehicles and Tesla's shift from a niche carmaker into a global leader in cleaner cars. After several years of losses, Tesla has delivered three straight profitable quarters since the third quarter of 2019 and surprised investors with solid first-quarter deliveries despite the virus outbreak.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Samorost and Botanicula dev's dark puzzle adventure Creaks finally out this month

Eurogamer - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 20:31

Samorost and Botanicula developer Amanita Design's long-awaited, and slightly sinister, puzzle adventure Creaks will be heading to PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch later this month.

Creaks was initially announced at the tail-end of 2018, and is something of a departure for Amanita insofar as it eschews the studio's usual point-and-click-style template in favour of an experience closer to a puzzle-platformer. However, despite the genre shift, Creaks looks to be Amanita through and through, presenting a darkly surreal, richly atmospheric journey - featuring some typically lavish art - into weird and wonderful new locales.

As Creaks begins, a strange occurrence leads players to peel back a corner of wallpaper in their dilapidated old home - leading to the discovery of an entirely new world within its walls, a vast mansion descending into the depths, where avian creatures dwell and furniture monsters roam.

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Categories: Video Games

MIT Apologizes, Permanently Pulls Offline Huge Dataset That Taught AI Systems To Use Racist, Misogynistic Slurs

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 20:04
MIT has taken offline its highly cited dataset that trained AI systems to potentially describe people using racist, misogynistic, and other problematic terms. From a report: The database was removed this week after The Register alerted the American super-college. And MIT urged researchers and developers to stop using the training library, and to delete any copies. "We sincerely apologize," a professor told us. The training set, built by the university, has been used to teach machine-learning models to automatically identify and list the people and objects depicted in still images. For example, if you show one of these systems a photo of a park, it might tell you about the children, adults, pets, picnic spreads, grass, and trees present in the snap. Thanks to MIT's cavalier approach when assembling its training set, though, these systems may also label women as whores or bitches, and Black and Asian people with derogatory language. The database also contained close-up pictures of female genitalia labeled with the C-word. Applications, websites, and other products relying on neural networks trained using MIT's dataset may therefore end up using these terms when analyzing photographs and camera footage. The problematic training library in question is 80 Million Tiny Images, which was created in 2008 to help produce advanced object detection techniques. It is, essentially, a huge collection of photos with labels describing what's in the pics, all of which can be fed into neural networks to teach them to associate patterns in photos with the descriptive labels. So when a trained neural network is shown a bike, it can accurately predict a bike is present in the snap. It's called Tiny Images because the pictures in library are small enough for computer-vision algorithms in the late-2000s and early-2010s to digest.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Minecraft Is Now Home To a Virtual Library of Censored Journalism

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 19:21
schwit1 shares a report: Free press advocates have created a virtual library in Minecraft that bypasses censorship in oppressive countries to house censored journals and articles. The virtual space was created as a collaboration between the freedom-of-the-press organization, Reporters Without Borders, and a Minecraft design company, BlockWorks. Because Minecraft isn't blocked in many places -- at least, not yet -- it's an ingenious way to ensure access even for those living under repressive regimes. The Uncensored Library, as it's called, houses information on all 180 countries in the press freedom index, as well as exhibition halls on countries notorious for their press censorship, like Russia and Vietnam. BlockWorks says that journalists across five countries who've seen their works banned were able to republish their articles in the exhibition halls for their respective countries, giving them a chance to inform the world about the situation on the ground. There are also areas in the exhibition halls honoring journalists who have been silenced, including Nguyen Van Dai, Yulia Beerezovskaia, and Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was brutally murdered, allegedly at the behest of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Summer Game Fest bringing over 60 pre-release demos to Xbox One later this month

Eurogamer - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 18:54

Summer Game Fest, the months-long video games showcase helping to fill the void left by this year's cancelled E3, continues to rumble on and will be turning its attention to Xbox One later this month, offering a week of playable, pre-release demos.

The occasion is officially being referred to as the Summer Game Fest Demo Event, and it's along the lines of the similar Steam Game Festival on PC, which, you might recall, recently returned in June. The gist is that from Tuesday 21st July to Monday 27th July, Xbox One players will be given access to a host of playable demos, many for upcoming, unreleased games.

According to Microsoft's announcement, there'll be more than 60 such pre-release demos available across the week, and likely a total of between 75 and 100 demos in all.

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Categories: Video Games

Alphabet-owned Verily Suspended Employee Bonuses To Fund Diversity Initiatives

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 18:42
Verily Life Sciences, the Alphabet-owned healthcare company, is suspending employee spot bonuses. From a report: The money will be funneled instead to fund diversity and inclusion initiatives. The move frustrated workers, many of whom have been working grueling hours on the company's COVID-19 testing projects. In a letter to management obtained by Business Insider, employees said the decision implied these initiatives are not a priority. They wrote: "The use of spot bonuses to subsidize social justice programs such as Healthy@Work for HBCUs [Historically Black colleges and universities], clinical trial recruitment of underrepresented populations, and an internal Product Inclusion group implies that these efforts are charity causes not worthy of their own investment." Employees asked that spot bonuses be reinstated and called for the creation of a board of executives and employees to measure progress toward diversity goals. Alphabet, Verily's parent company, made $46.07 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2019. Because of Alphabet's strong financial position, diversity and inclusion shouldn't be hard to invest in, the employees wrote.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

China's Influence Via WeChat Is 'Flying Under the Radar' of Most Western Democracies

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 18:04
China's WeChat, like most social networks, is a haven for disinformation and "fake news". Less well-known, at least in the West, is its role in mobilising Chinese diaspora communities to support particular political policies or people, according to a report. schwit1 shares the report: These activities are coordinated through a system known as the United Front, a network of party and state agencies that are responsible for influencing purportedly independent groups outside the Chinese Communist Party. At the very top, the United Front Work Department is led by China's fourth most senior political leader, Wang Yang. President Xi Jinping and his family have been involved in United Front work for decades. "Where United Front really works their biggest magic is actually on social media WeChat," says Maree Ma, general manager of Vision Times, a leading Chinese-language Australian media outlet. WeChat's private groups are capped at 500 members, but according to Ma, there's "hundreds" of United Front organisations in Australia, each of them with many of these groups.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Ooblets hits early access on the Epic Games Store and Xbox One later this summer

Eurogamer - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 17:57

UPDATE 1/7/20: Ooblets' early access release date has been pinned down to 15th July - exactly two weeks today.

The twee Pokémon meets Harvest Moon mash-up will launch on Xbox One and Epic Games Store priced $25 (about £20) with a 20 per cent launch week discount.

ORIGINAL STORY 13/6/20: Ooblets hits early access on the Epic Games Store and Xbox One later this summer, developer Glumberland announced today.

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Categories: Video Games

A pair of SteelSeries Arctis headsets are on sale at Amazon UK

Eurogamer - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 17:36

A pair of SteelSeries gaming headsets are currently on sale over at Amazon UK - with both the mid-range Arctis 5 and high-end Arctis Pro at some of their lowest prices in months.

Let's start with the cheaper of the two: the SteelSeries Arctis 5 Gaming Headset is now £79.99.

This wired headset sits between the manufacturer's basic yet capable Arctis 3 and the wireless, feature-rich Arctis 7. Being stuck in the middle it borrows bits-and-pieces from both its siblings. Notably, there's the DTS surround sound support, a ClearCast microphone and mandatory RGB illumination.

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Categories: Video Games

After Lackluster Launch, Amazon Pulls 'Crucible' Back Into Closed Beta Weeks After Game's Release

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 17:25
Little more than a month after a much-hyped entry into big-budget video games, Amazon is pulling back "Crucible," its new free-to-play PC shooter, and moving the title to closed beta. From a report: "Crucible" is developed by Amazon-owned Relentless Studios, and in a blog post on Tuesday, franchise lead Colin Johanson cited the need to "focus on providing the best possible experience for our players as we continue to make the game better." The game has failed to generate much positive traction. The Verge said "lackluster characters, combat, and art style made it largely forgettable" and that "Crucible" also suffered from "a bit of an identity crisis by trying to be a bit of everything at once." According to Business Insider, "Crucible" had around 25,000 concurrent players at peak, the day after its launch. Two days after launch, it had already disappeared from Steam's top 100 -- a list of most-played games on Steam that bottoms out around 5,000 concurrent players. Players who have downloaded the game will still be able to play it through Steam. "One of the biggest changes you'll see is that we're going to schedule dedicated time each week when we as devs will be playing with the community and soliciting feedback," Johanson wrote. "When we exit beta, it will be based on your feedback and the metrics that we see in-game."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Fallout 76 is coming to Xbox Games Pass on console and PC in July

Eurogamer - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 17:23

Fallout 76, Bethesda's beleaguered - but gradually improving - online multiplayer take on the beloved post-apocalyptic RPG series, is making its way to Xbox One and PC Game Pass later this month, arriving alongside other Game Pass offerings including Soulcalibur 6 and celebrated indie action-RPG CrossCode.

It would be fair to say that Fallout 76 wasn't particular well-received - or perhaps even particularly wanted by many series fans - when it launched in 2018, with Eurogamer's Wesley Yin-Poole calling it a "bizarre, boring, broken mess" in his review.

Since then, however, Bethesda has continued to invest in the game, adding a range of new features that, in some cases, have helped considerably improve the experience (NPCs) while others (such as a premium subscription service for private servers) have only drawn more ire. When Wes returned to Fallout 76 earlier this year, he conceded it's now "actually okay".

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Categories: Video Games

Sydney Now Powered By 100% Renewable Electricity

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 16:49
The City of Sydney is now powered by 100% renewable electricity, generated from wind and solar farms in regional New South Wales. From a report: The "green energy" deal which came into effect on Wednesday is valued at over $60 million and is touted by the City of Sydney Council as the biggest green energy deal of its kind by a council in Australia. Under the deal, all the city of Sydney operations -- including street lights, pools, sports fields, depots, buildings and the historic Sydney Town Hall -- will now be run on 100% renewable electricity from locally-sourced clean energy. The Council says the switch is projected to save the City up to half a million dollars a year over the next 10 years, and reduce C02 emissions by around 20,000 tonnes a year -- the equivalent to the power consumption of more than 6,000 households. Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the new agreement will generate jobs, support communities impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and create new opportunities in drought-affected regional NSW. "We are in the middle of a climate emergency. If we are to reduce emissions and grow the green power sector, all levels of government must urgently transition to renewable energy," the Lord Mayor said. "Cities are responsible for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so it is critical that we take effective and evidence-based climate actions. The City of Sydney became carbon neutral in 2007, and were the first government in Australia to be certified carbon neutral in 2011. This new deal will see us reach our 2030 target of reducing emissions by 70 per cent by 2024, six years early. This ground-breaking $60 million renewable electricity deal will also save our ratepayers money and support regional jobs in wind and solar farms in Glen Innes, Wagga Wagga and the Shoalhaven."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's new map has a rat problem

Eurogamer - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 16:13

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare added a new map with this week's mid-season update - and it's got a rat problem.

Exploding rats, that is.

The Cheshire Park map, a classic three-lane map set in a lovely part of London, has a cool Easter egg it didn't take the Call of Duty community long to find at all.

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Categories: Video Games

The brilliant A Plague Tale: Innocence has now sold 1m copies

Eurogamer - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 16:11

Guiding a couple of kids through a rat pandemic in Medieval France might be an odd elevator pitch for a game - but let me tell you, A Plague Tale: Innocence was one of my favourites from last year.

It's a tale of two young siblings cut adrift and left vulnerable in a beautiful, horrible world. It's a stealthy, puzzley adventure with some increasingly cool special powers. And it has really, really freaky rats.

Today brought the announcement the game has now passed 1m sales worldwide since launch.

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Categories: Video Games

Apple Races To Push Ahead With 5G iPhone Mass Production

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 16:05
Apple is pushing its suppliers to try to reduce production delays for its first 5G iPhones as the U.S. tech company aims to limit the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. From a report: Apple is facing delays of between four weeks and two months for mass production of the four models in its 5G lineup after postponements caused by factory lockdowns and workplace absences during the pandemic, sources told the Nikkei Asian Review. Apple has been betting heavily on the 5G range to help it against rivals including Samsung and Huawei Technologies, which introduced 5G-capable smartphones last year. But sources said Apple has aggressively tried to cut delays and was now less likely to face a worst-case scenario of postponing the launch until 2021, the situation it was in three months ago. The estimated delays are based on the stage that development would normally be at for a release in September. The tech giant and its suppliers are working overtime to make up for lost time, people with knowledge of the matter said. "What the progress looks like now is months of delay in terms of mass production, but Apple is doing everything it can to shorten the postponement. There's a chance that the schedule could still be moved ahead," one of the sources told Nikkei. California, where Apple is based, came under "shelter at home" restrictions in March, though the order was revised in June to allow more businesses to reopen. Part of Apple's hardware development team returned to the head office last month as the company attempted to expedite the final configuration of the new iPhones and keep as close as possible to the intended September release date, according to another source familiar with the situation.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Student arrested over alleged Konami bomb threat

Eurogamer - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 16:05

A student in Tokyo has been arrested for allegedly making threats to bomb Konami's headquarters.

As reported by Yomiuri and Mainichi (and translated by Kotaku), the second-year high school student is thought to have posted threats on the review section of an online app store. The game in question was apparently the PES mobile app, and the threats were made between 16-18th June.

According to Kotaku's translation, the 16-year-old mentioned that terrorism was possible in Japan, and apparently said "I'm going to blow up Konami's headquarters" and "I'm going to kill the people who work at Konami".

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Categories: Video Games

Supreme Court Says Generic Domains Like Booking.com Can Be Trademarked

Slashdot - Wed, 01/07/2020 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office erred by finding the term booking.com was too generic for trademark protection, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. Trademark law prohibits anyone from registering generic terms that describe a class of products or services. Anyone can start a store company called "The Wine Company," but they can't use trademark law to stop others from using the same name. When the online travel giant Bookings Holdings sought to trademark its booking.com domain name almost a decade ago, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office concluded that the same rule applied. Booking Holdings challenged this decision in court. The company pointed to survey data showing that consumers associated the phrase "booking.com" with a specific website as opposed to a generic term for travel websites. Both the trial and appeals courts sided with booking.com, finding that booking.com was sufficiently distinctive to merit its own trademark -- even if the generic word "booking" couldn't be trademarked on its own. Trademark law declines to protect generic terms in an effort to promote competition. If a company could trademark a word like "booking" or "wine," it could interfere with competitors who want to accurately describe their products in the marketplace. That would give companies that trademark generic terms an unfair advantage. But an opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (and joined by seven other justices) found that this wasn't a serious concern for dot-com trademarks. A company like Travelocity or Expedia might describe itself as "a booking website," but it would never describe itself as "a booking.com." Ginsburg notes that the rules of the domain-name system ensure that only one company can use a name like booking.com, so consumers are likely to understand that "booking.com" refers to a particular website -- it's not a generic term for booking websites in general.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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