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Microsoft's New Intelligent Speakers Deliver Its Promised Meeting Room of the Future

Slashdot - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 16:52
Microsoft demonstrated prototype hardware a few years ago that promised meeting rooms of the future with automatic speaker identification, transcription, and even translation. Microsoft now claims it's delivering this for real with new Intelligent Speakers, small puck-like devices that can identify up to 10 different voices in a Microsoft Teams meeting. From a report: These speakers will automatically generate a transcript during a meeting, with individual identification of those speaking. They will also help remote attendees follow along and see who's talking in a meeting. Microsoft has teamed up with Yealink and Epos to create the hardware, and it even supports translation if you want to follow a meeting in a different language.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

PlayStation Store to retire video purchases and rentals

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 16:03

The PlayStation Store will remove the ability to purchase or rent movies and TV shows on 31st August 2021.

Any existing content you have purchased will remain yours to view, and you'll still be able to access this via the PlayStation Store on all your devices. You just won't be able to buy more, and have to get Netflix instead.

Explaining the change via the PlayStation blog, PlayStation pointed to the shift away from owning individual movies or boxsets. People are now more likely to just stream content from a subscription-based service (such as Disney+ or Amazon Prime) or one that's free but includes ads (such as ITV Hub or All 4).

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Categories: Video Games

China Will Dominate AI Unless US Invests More, Commission Warns

Slashdot - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 16:03
The U.S., which once had a dominant head start in artificial intelligence, now has just a few years' lead on China and risks being overtaken unless government steps in, according to a new report to Congress and the White House. From a report: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who chaired the committee that issued the report, tells Axios that the U.S. risks dire consequences if it fails to both invest in key technologies and fully integrate AI into the military. The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence approved its 750-page report on Monday, following a 2-year effort. Schmidt chaired the 15-member commission, which also included Oracle's Safra Catz, Microsoft's Eric Horvitz and Amazon's Andy Jassy. On both the economic and military fronts, the biggest risk comes from China. "China possesses the might, talent, and ambition to surpass the United States as the world's leader in AI in the next decade if current trends do not change," the report states. And It's not just AI technology that the U.S. needs to maintain a lead in. The report mentions a number of key technologies, including quantum computing, robotics, 3D printing and 5G. "We don't have to go to war with China," Schmidt said. "We don't have to have a cold war. We do need to be competitive."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Nvidia DLSS in Nioh 2: the most demanding challenge yet for AI upscaling?

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 16:00

Nvidia's DLSS has gradually evolved into one of the most exciting technological innovations in the PC space. The idea is remarkably straightforward: the GPU renders at a lower native resolution, then an AI algorithm takes that frame and intelligently upscales it to a much higher pixel count. There's an instant performance win, but remarkably, also a quality advantage too up against native resolution rendering. In the past, we've wondered whether this quality win comes down to mitigating the artefacts of temporal anti-aliasing - TAA - but the recent arrival of a DLSS upgrade to Nioh 2 provides us with an interesting test case. Nioh 2's basic rendering lacks much in the way of any form of anti-aliasing at all. It's pretty much as raw as raw can be. So the question is: can DLSS retain its performance advantage and still provide an actual increase to image quality up against native resolution rendering? Remarkably, the answer is yes.

DLSS was - and essentially still is - a replacement for TAA. Temporal anti-aliasing effectively uses information from prior frames and integrates them into the current one, typically using motion vectors to map where pixels in prior frames would sit in the frame being rendered. In best case scenarios, it's effectively improving image quality, and it is certainly the AA method of choice in modern gaming. But it can have its negative points: ghosting and added blur foremost amongst them. DLSS does have commonalities with TAA, which is why it is generally considered to be a replacement - it too requires the motion vector data in reconstructing its image. DLSS performance mode reconstructs from just 25 per cent of native resolution - so a 4K DLSS image is built from a 1080p native frame. Meanwhile at the other end of the scale is DLSS quality, which in this example would be generated from a 1440p frame. Balanced is the other major mode, sitting somewhere between the two.

As for performance advantages, in the case of Nioh 2, the effect is extraordinary. Nvidia's RTX 2060 is the least capable desktop GPU with DLSS functionality and at DLSS 4K, performance mode offers over 50 per cent of extra frame-rate, up against around 32 per cent for the DLSS quality mode. Perhaps the best utilisation for this GPU is 1440p rendering, where DLSS quality mode ensures you're essentially always running above 60fps. Meanwhile at the absolute top-end, RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 are delivering 4K gaming at 100fps and higher - it's an extraordinary experience on a suitable screen. But since Nioh 2 does not use TAA, does image quality hold up?

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Categories: Video Games

Halo 3 is getting back bling

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 15:27

14 years after it came out, Halo 3 is getting back bling.

Taking a page out of the Fortnite playbook, Halo 3 is getting a raft of new customisation options, including what are called back accessories.

These new customisation options, which do not affect gameplay, are live now in the Halo: The Master Chief Collection flight (the version of the game where upcoming features are tested).

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Categories: Video Games

There's a new system update for... Wii U

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 15:21

Nintendo has today released a new firmware update for... the Wii U.

Today's Wii U system update, version 5.5.5, is listed by Nintendo as "improving system stability". Under the hood, dataminer OatmealDome (thanks, Nintendo Life) has suggested it updates the system's SSL verification code, which powers secure connections online.

It's been two and a half years since the last Wii U update, in September 2018. Do you still have yours plugged in?

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Categories: Video Games

All 270 US Apple Stores Are Open For the First Time Since March 2020

Slashdot - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: Every Apple Store in the United States is open for the first time in nearly a year. It was 353 days ago -- March 13, 2020 -- that Apple closed all of its retail stores outside of Greater China. While some Apple Stores offer in-store shopping appointments and others can accept Express pickup of online orders only, all 270 US locations are now open in some capacity as of March 1, 2021. Apple Stores in Texas around Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio were the last to reopen today. In addition to reopening every store, Apple is also starting to offer in-store shopping at more US locations again after months of operation as Express storefronts. Around two dozen stores in California, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and Utah reintroduced shopping sessions today. That's on top of almost 50 locations last week, more than 40 the week before, and dozens in early February. Today's milestone doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet. All Apple Stores still enforce health and safety guidelines that include reduced occupancy and a mask requirement. Apple continuously evaluates local COVID-19 conditions, and it's highly possible that some stores could temporarily close or return to Express operations in the future. Outside of the US, just over a dozen Apple Stores remain closed in France and Brazil. Apple Stores in Mexico reopen March 2.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Date set for Apple v Epic Games trial

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 14:21

The battle between Epic Games and Apple over in-game microtransactions is still rumbling on, and after months of arguing it seems a date has finally been set for an in-person trial. Yep, it seems this one is going all the way.

Yesterday a management conference was held in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, in which judge Yvonne Gonzalez organised a bench trial between Epic Games and Apple (as reported by MacRumors). A date has now been officially set for 3rd May, which will require witnesses to travel to Northern California to appear at court in person.

The reason for the physical trial is that judge Gonzalez feels the case is serious enough that it should be heard in person, and believes witnesses are less likely to lie when being sworn in a courtroom. Those required to travel will apparently be given the resources to quarantine for two weeks after the trial, while other Covid safety measures will also be taken, such as limited numbers of people in the courtroom at any one time.

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Categories: Video Games

Young Gamora actress Ariana Greenblatt to play Tiny Tina in Borderlands movie

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 13:31

Ariana Greenblatt, the actress who played Young Gamora in the Avengers movies, will play Tiny Tina in the Borderlands movie.

Greenblatt joins Cate Blanchett (Lilith), Kevin Hart (Roland), Jamie Lee Curtis (Dr. Tannis), and Jack Black (Claptrap) in the movie based on Gearbox's shooter series.

Tiny Tina is described as an "unstable 13-year-old explosive expert".

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Categories: Video Games

The Last of Us Part 2 receives record number of BAFTA nominations

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 13:21

PlayStation 4 exclusive The Last of Us Part 2 has received 13 BAFTA Games Award nominations - the most for any single game in the history of the awards.

Sony games dominate BAFTA's nominations list, with 10 nods for Ghost of Tsushima, seven for Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales, six for Dreams and four for Sackboy: A Big Adventure.

Supergiant's brilliant Hades - Eurogamer's Game of the Year for 2020 - has eight nominations, while Nintendo's Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Media Molecule's Fall Guys share five.

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Categories: Video Games

Ex-Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 studio suffers lay-offs

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 13:06

UPDATE 3/3/21: The former developer of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 has confirmed this week's layoffs, but said it would continue to operate and was developing multiple unannounced projects.

In a statement issued to RPS, a spokesperson for Hardsuit Labs stated that redundancies had affected "a small number of individuals", though a specific number of people was not disclosed.

"While we worked hard to source some great work opportunities for the studio to move forward with, we were unable to provide work for a small number of individuals and thus made the difficult decision to part ways. This decision was not made lightly and was done so only after we felt we had exhausted the opportunities to avoid such a layoff," Hardsuit said. "We sincerely wish the very best to our former colleagues and thank them for their contributions to the studio and our projects during their time here."

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Categories: Video Games

Outriders dev explains all those pesky loading cutscenes

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 12:39

If you've been playing the Outriders demo since it came out last week, you may have picked up on an annoyance: loading cutscenes.

The third-person looter shooter game from People Can Fly (Bulletstorm, Gears of War: Judgment) plays a short cutscene whenever you want to move to a new area.

These cutscenes show everything from a character opening a door to climbing a ledge. They include a full fade to black opening before playing the cutscene, then another fade to black before you get back into the action.

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Categories: Video Games

Valheim already has dozens of nifty quality-of-life mods

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 12:29

So along with 4m other people, you're really enjoying Valheim at the moment - but perhaps there are a few quality of life improvements you'd like to see, or maybe you just want to turn the game into a building sandbox. Despite the lack of official support, the modding community has been hard at work on Valheim, and has already produced a number of mods to serve almost every community request. Here's a round-up of some of the most useful mods so far - along with a quick explainer on how to get started.

Before you get stuck into Valheim modding, you'll need to download a couple of prerequisite mods that make the rest of Valheim modding possible. One of these is Valheim Unstripped DLLs, which Vortex (Nexus Mods' mod manager) will recommend installing. Another mod called BepInExPack for Valheim carries out a similar function, providing a general purpose framework for Unity modding, which basically gives mod creators the tools they need to alter Valheim ( and you'll need to download it for these mods to work). You can find it over on Thunderstore. Oh, and remember to back up your save files before diving in - you can find them through Steam by opening the properties menu for Valheim, then 'local files' and 'browse'.

If you're looking for an all-in-one quality of life mod, the obvious choice is Valheim Plus - a gameplay mod that allows players to tweak most of Valheim's core systems. You can alter anything from stamina usage and health regeneration to certain items' rate of production, such as how fast a furnace can pump out iron. You can also sort out niggles like being unable to take metal through portals, and speed up that annoying thing at the end of each day called "night-time". Who needs game balance, anyway?

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Categories: Video Games

Google Finance Adds Crypto Data Tab For Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash

Slashdot - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 12:00
Google Finance now has a dedicated "crypto" field for bitcoin, ether, litecoin and bitcoin cash. CoinDesk reports: Right at the top of the page, where users can "compare markets," crypto is listed among the five default markets, which also includes U.S., Europe, Asia and "Currencies." At the moment, it appears Google Finance only tracks a limited number of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and bitcoin cash are displayed by default when clicking the crypto tab. A search for Cardano's ADA, Polkadot's DOT, Stellar's XLM tokens return no results -- for either the protocol or the token's ticker. XRP returned a result for the Ripple XRP Liquid Index, which trades on Nasdaq.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

How the grand dame of shooting games is making its return

Eurogamer - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 11:23

There are shooting games, and there are shooting games. Irem's 1987 R-Type can't exactly claim to be the first of its kind, and you could well argue there are more widely acclaimed shooting games, but you'd be hard pushed to find any as iconic as this stately sci-fi venture. Cold, composed and challenging, it's the archetypal 80s shooter, and a prime example of the genre in its pomp.

The popularity of shooting games would wane throughout the 90s, however, and by the turn of the century those in charge of the series wondered whether it had a future at all. Which explains the brilliantly fatalistic air that hangs over R-Type Final, the 2004 entry that was imagined as a full-stop for the series.

R-Type Final lead designer Kazuma Kujo has since discovered there's life yet in the series, though. The veteran of Nazca, Irem and now Granzella - the studio where many Irem alumni ended when the company moved away from video games - now finds himself heading up development of a sequel, somewhat bafflingly called R-Type Final 2, after a Kickstarter campaign more than doubled its targets. A month ahead of R-Type Final 2's release on April 29th, we spoke to Kujo about R-Type's return, and what it will entail.

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Categories: Video Games

Rocket Lab Reveals Plans For Reusable Rocket With 8 Ton Payload

Slashdot - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 09:00
Rocket Lab has unveiled plans for a larger rocket that can carry bigger payloads than its current reusable trooper, the Electron. It's called the Neutron and will be capable of carrying 8 metric tons to low-Earth orbit compared to the Electron's 660 lbs capacity. Engadget reports: The Neutron will also have a fully reusable first stage that can land on an ocean platform, in the same vein as SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster. Rocket Lab is looking to fast-track the rocket's first flight to 2024 by using the existing launch pad at Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. It's also scouting sites across the US to build a new factory where the Neutron will be assembled at scale. The new rocket is designed with an eye to the future of mega-satellite constellations. Its larger payload means it can take multiple small satellites in batches to specific orbital planes, creating a "a more targeted approach to building out" the massive projects, said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO. Demand for the constellations is growing, with the satellite networks enabling better navigation and providing communications in rural areas back here on Earth. The Neutron's lift capacity also means it should be able to transport 98 percent of all satellites forecast to launch through 2029.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Facebook, TikTok Least Trusted By Americans, Google Most Trusted, Says Survey

Slashdot - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Forty percent of Americans don't trust Facebook and TikTok and Google appears to be winning the trust wars, according to a survey from SeoClarity. SeoClarity surveyed 1,057 American residents to gauge trust in tech companies and found a majority of US citizens think social media companies need more regulation. The findings are notable due to how tech companies are stacking up on trust. Google tops Amazon, Microsoft and Apple on the trustworthy scores. Meanwhile, Facebook and TikTok were the most distrusted. SeoClarity also found that half of Americans think that Websites can control where they land in Google searches.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

How a 10-Second Video Clip Sold For $6.6 Million

Slashdot - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 04:02
In October 2020, Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile spent almost $67,000 on a 10-second video artwork that he could have watched for free online. Last week, he sold it for $6.6 million. Reuters reports: The video by digital artist Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, was authenticated by blockchain, which serves as a digital signature to certify who owns it and that it is the original work. It's a new type of digital asset - known as a non-fungible token (NFT) - that has exploded in popularity during the pandemic as enthusiasts and investors scramble to spend enormous sums of money on items that only exist online. Blockchain technology allows the items to be publicly authenticated as one-of-a-kind, unlike traditional online objects which can be endlessly reproduced. The computer-generated video sold by Rodriguez-Fraile shows what appears to be a giant Donald Trump collapsed on the ground, his body covered in slogans, in an otherwise idyllic setting.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Linus Torvalds Went Six Days Without Electricity, Swears Smaller 5.12 Kernel Is Co-Incidental

Slashdot - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 03:25
Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has revealed that inclement weather in the USA meant he recently endured six electricity-free days in his Portland, Oregon, home during which he was unable to tend to the kernel. As a result he therefore pondered adding an extra week to the merge window for version 5.12 of the Linux kernel. The Register reports: "As you can tell, I didn't do that," he said in his State of The Kernel update that announced release candidate one of the new kernel cut. "To a large part because people were actually very good about sending in their pull requests, so by the time I finally got power back, everything was nicely lined up and I got things merged up ok." It wasn't just penguinistas behaving well that helped. Torvalds said this version of the kernel has received around 10,000 commits. That's rather fewer than the 12,000 or 13,000 he usually sees. In case anyone was inconvenienced by blackout-induced inability to merge, Torvalds said he's open to help any kernel devs for whom his unavailability caused problems but is not open to all late pulls. Torvalds rated the new release as offering "a fair amount of historical cleanup" on account of "removing the legacy OPROFILE support (the user tools have been using the "perf" interface for years), and removing several legacy SoC platforms and various drivers that no longer make any sense." Among the big inclusions in 5.12 are Clang Link-Time Optimizations, which make for better compiler performance, and support for Intel's eASIC NX5 silicon that aims to offer an alternative to FPGAs in edge and cloud applications. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 5G SoC also gains support.

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Popular LA Restaurant Closes After High-Tech 'Dine and Dash' Scheme

Slashdot - Tue, 02/03/2021 - 02:45
quonset writes: "The Korean Fusion Cafe 'Spoon by H' had the ingredients to become an L.A. success story but is the epitome of a small business, with owner and chef Yoonjin Hwang working 15-hour days to run the restaurant with her mother and brother," reports CBS News. "'We have no staff. We have no cooks. I have to do everything by myself,' said Hwang. 'Like so many other small businesses we were hit hard by the pandemic. All we could do was just like take it day by day and do whatever we could to stay afloat.'" One day she received an order for $700. The person came in and picked up the order. A week later the same person disputed the charge. Hwang had to pay back the money, and this same situation kept occurring time and again. Hwang was the victim of "friendly fraud" or "chargebacks." "In the scam, a customer orders food, often through a delivery service, then receives their meal, but disputes the charge with their credit card company to get a refund," reports CBS News. "According to the Los Angeles Times, a growing number of the city's restaurants have struggled as scammers take advantage of internet ordering to use fraudulent credit cards or request refunds, claiming they never received part or all of an order." "I just felt so incredibly helpless and frustrated. We just couldn't keep running our business like this," Hwang said. As a result, she decided to close the restaurant for good. Patrons helped raise more than $60,000 on a GoFundMe page, which Hwang plans to use to pay off her debt. She says she may consider opening a new business someday with the earnings, but she doesn't know when, or what type of business.

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