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Giant Entercom Radio Network Gets Ransomwared

Slashdot - Sat, 14/09/2019 - 01:00
Newer Guy writes: Entercom Communications, one of the USA's largest radio broadcasting companies, has been hit with a ransomware-like incident. It apparently came in from a computer in the programming department and has taken out the company's email system and servers. All their radio stations across the country have been affected. The ransomware people demanded half a million dollars to restore things; Entercom refused to pay.

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iPhone 11 Lineup Said To Include Two-Way Charging Hardware, But Software Disabled

Slashdot - Sat, 14/09/2019 - 00:20
According to leaker and former Apple blogger Sonny Dickson, the iPhone 11 lineup includes the necessary hardware for a two-way charging feature that was widely rumored for the devices, but Apple has disabled the feature on the software end. MacRumors reports: For months ahead of their unveiling, the latest iPhones were rumored to feature a Qi-based device-to-device charging feature, allowing for an Apple Watch, AirPods, and other accessories to charge on the back of the iPhones. The feature was expected to be similar to Wireless PowerShare on Samsung's Galaxy S10. The centered Apple logo on the iPhone 11 models was even believed to be partly intended to help customers know where to place their AirPods, Apple Watch, or other accessories to charge on the back of the iPhone. Just hours before Apple's event this week, however, noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said the feature appeared to have been canceled. In a note seen by MacRumors, Kuo said the feature was possibly abandoned because "the charging efficiency may not meet Apple's requirements." Teardowns of the iPhone 11 models will soon confirm whether the two-way charging hardware is in fact present in the devices. Deliveries to customers and in-store availability will begin Friday, September 20.

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Another High-Flying, Heavily Funded AR Startup Is Shutting Down

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 23:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Daqri, which built enterprise-grade AR headsets, has shuttered its HQ, laid off many of its employees and is selling off assets ahead of a shutdown, former employees and sources close to the company tell TechCrunch. In an email obtained by TechCrunch, the nearly 10-year-old company told its customers that it was pursuing an asset sale and was shutting down its cloud and smart-glasses hardware platforms by the end of September. Daqri faced substantial challenges from competing headset makers, including Magic Leap and Microsoft, which were backed by more expansive war chests and institutional partnerships. While the headset company struggled to compete for enterprise customers, Daqri benefited from investor excitement surrounding the broader space. That is, until the investment climate for AR startups cooled. Daqri was, at one point, speaking with a large private-equity firm about financing ahead of a potential IPO, but as the technical realities facing other AR companies came to light, the firm backed out and the deal crumbled, we are told. The report notes that Osterhout Design Group and Meta, an AR headset startup that raised $73 million from VCs, both sold their assets earlier this year.

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Discord is Axing its Nitro Games Catalog Since Almost Nobody Plays Them

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 23:00
Almost a year ago, Discord launched its own games store and overhauled the Nitro subscription service to offer access to a library of games in addition to other chat and server related perks. From a report: The app's store has gone through several changes over the year, with games ultimately being sold directly through developers' Discord servers instead of the original dedicated portal. However, the library of games Nitro subscribers get access to is getting axed, and its because almost nobody actually played them, per Discord. "We learned a lot from all of you over the last year. Through your valuable feedback, it became clear that while we and some of you love these games, the truth is the vast majority of Nitro subscribers didn't play them," said the company in a blog post today. "So, after careful consideration, we won't be hitting Continue when these contracts come up for renewal. The removal affects users who are registered for the $9.99 per month (or the $99.99 annual) Nitro subscription, who will no longer be able to play the almost 100-strong catalog of games -- seen on the left image -- from October 15, 2019. To those who may have been caught off guard by the announcement and want to cancel Nitro, Discord is also offering refunds on the subscription.

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Whole Foods To Cut Health-Care Benefits For 1,900 Part-Time Employees Starting Next Year

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 22:20
Amazon-owned Whole Foods will be withdrawing medical benefits for hundreds of its part-time workers starting Jan. 1, 2020, the company said Thursday. From a report: In the past, employees needed to work at least 20 hours a week to buy into the health-care plan. Now they will need to work at least 30 hours. Less than 2% of its workforce, or 1,900 employees, will no longer be eligible for medical coverage, under the new policy, the company said. "In order to better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model, we are moving to a single-tier part-time structure," a company spokesperson said in an email. "We are providing Team Members with resources to find alternative healthcare coverage options, or to explore full-time, healthcare-eligible positions starting at 30 hours per week. All Whole Foods Market Team Members continue to receive employment benefits including a 20% in-store discount."

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MoviePass Will Shut Down For Good on September 14

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 22:10
MoviePass announced on Friday it's shutting down the discount ticketing service on Sept. 14. From a report: MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics notified subscribers that it plans to close down the service because its "efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date." It has formed a strategic review committee, made up of the company's independent directors, that's reviewing "strategic and financial alternatives" for the company. Among the options it's considering are a sale of the company in its entirety, a sale of the company's assets, including MoviePass, Moviefone and MoviePass Films, as well as the possibility of a reorganization of the company.

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Bleak medieval "single-player co-op" adventure A Plague Tale gets free trial version

Eurogamer - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 21:47

Developer Asobo Studio's well-received 14th century "single-player co-op" adventure, A Plague Tale: Innocence, has just launched a free trial version featuring the game's full first chapter - and it's available to download now on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.

A Plague Tale, which originally released back in May, follows the frequently bleak journey of Amicia and her sickly 5-year-old brother Hugo, children of a nobleman, forced to flee their castle home to escape the Inquisition. What follows is an enormously atmospheric, if somewhat rough-around-the edges, adventure through fog-shrouded, plague-ridden France.

When Eurogamer contributor Edwin Evans-Thirlwell reviewed A Plague Tale earlier this year, he was critical of the game's frequent dalliances with dull, unrefined stealth. Thankfully, A Plague Tale shines considerably brighter in its environmental puzzling, and that, when combined with its wonderfully rich atmosphere and affectingly well-wrought central relationship, Edwin reckoned, helps it rise above those stodgier elements.

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Categories: Video Games

Does Control's September update really improve performance?

Eurogamer - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 20:46

Remedy Entertainment's Control is a seriously impressive game and a stunning technological achievement with just one major Achilles Heel - immensely variable console performance, to the point where day one code could drop to a minimum of 10 frames per second in trouble spots on PlayStation 4. The September update released on PS4 consoles a couple of days ago, promising "improved general frame-rate performance through optimisation made to multiple systems and content" - and the good news is that the game is significantly better and we are one step towards a much more consistent console experience.

Let's be clear here though - we're still nowhere near a locked 30 frames per second, especially on the base PlayStation 4, the console that has the most problems in smoothly rendering the game. However, just as Remedy says, the general level of performance via Patch 1.03 is higher than it was and when the frame-rate does drop hard, the game seems to recover more quickly. In short, the dips aren't quite as bad as they were and the hit doesn't last as long. Bearing in mind that Control only launched a couple of weeks ago, getting this level of improvement to users so quickly is impressive.

There's still a long way to go, but the improvement is palpable - especially so on the PlayStation 4 Pro. This version of the game was already in fairly decent shape when it launched, hampered only by issues in the most physics-heavy of scenes. We chose a scene from the beginning of the third chapter - the Atrium - as a focal point for testing, since this seemed to be a perfect storm of enemy count, environmental destruction and sometimes catastrophic performance issues. Re-running this test several times on the Pro, stutter was much less evident - and it took running through the initial stages of the level 'gathering up' enemies and taking them out in a confined space with lots of environmental objects in play to tank performance. In general play though, the improvement is clear to see.

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Categories: Video Games

Congress Is Investigating Apple's Repair Monopoly

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 20:10
The United States House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee is launching an antitrust investigation into Apple and its anti-competitive behavior. From a report: Part of the investigation will focus on Apple's repair monopoly, which for years has given the company control over the useful life of its products. In a letter to Apple, the committee asked Apple to turn over all internal communications from 14 top executives at the company -- including CEO Tim Cook -- relating to "Apple's restrictions on third-party repairs," among dozens of other topics. In particular, the committee wants information about: "Apple's restrictions on third-party repairs, including but not limited to any rules with which Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) must comply, such as rules restricting or prohibiting AASPs from making any specific repairs." "Apple's decision in December 2017 to offer iPhone battery replacements at a discounted price, or the actual or projected effects of this decision, including but not limited to, effects on iPhone sales." "Apple's decision to introduce the 'Independent Repair Provider Program,' including but not limited to, decisions covering which specific repair parts Apple will make available through the program and at what price." "Apple's decision in 2018 to enter into an agreement with Amazon to sell Apple products on Amazon and to limit the resellers that can sell Apple products on Amazon."

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Cat Quest 2 prepares for September launch on PC with new gameplay footage

Eurogamer - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 19:44

Cat Quest 2, developer The Gentlebros' much-expanded casual action-RPG sequel, is out soon, and, in preparation for its 24th September PC launch, there's a fresh batch of gameplay video.

The original Cat Quest - which arrived on PC, Switch, PS4, and mobile in 2017 - was an absolutely delightful surprise, successfully distilling all the usual genre tropes down into a breezy but thoroughly entertaining feline RPG - replete with exploration, questing, dungeon crawling, and engagingly twitchy real-time combat. I loved every minute of its ridiculously charming, pun-filled adventure.

Cat Quest 2 retains the same casual-friendly core, but mixes things up with a range of new features - not least of which is playable dogs. There's also an entirely new kingdom to explore in the form of the Lupus Empire, and it promises to introduce much more environmental diversity compared to the original's rather same-y green hues - with new biomes including vast deserts, mountainous regions, and auburn meadows.

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Categories: Video Games

Google To Pay $1 Billion in France To Settle Fiscal Fraud Probe

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 19:21
Google agreed to pay close to 1 billion euros ($1.10 billion) to French authorities to settle a fiscal fraud probe that began four years ago in a deal that may create a legal precedent for other large tech companies present in the country. From a report: French investigators have been seeking to establish whether Google, whose European headquarters are based in Dublin, failed to pay its dues to the state by avoiding to declare parts of its activities in the country. The settlement comprises a fine of 500 million euros and additional taxes of 465 million euros, Google said in a statement. Google, part of Alphabet, pays little tax in most European countries because it reports almost all sales in Ireland. This is possible thanks to a loophole in international tax law but it hinges on staff in Dublin concluding all sales contracts.

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T-Mobile Has a Secret Setting To Protect Your Account From Hackers That it Refuses To Talk About

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 18:41
T-Mobile has a feature that gives its customers more protection from hackers trying to steal their phone number, but you probably don't know it exists because the company doesn't advertise it publicly and won't even talk about it. From a report: It's called "NOPORT" and, in theory, it makes it a bit harder for criminals to hijack phone numbers with an attack known as "SIM swapping," a type of social engineering that is increasingly being used to steal people's phone numbers. SIM swapping attackers usually trick wireless providers into giving them control of a target's phone number by impersonating the victim with a company's customer support representatives -- usually on a phone call. T-Mobile's NOPORT feature makes this harder by requiring customers to physically come to a store and present a photo ID in order to request their number to be ported out to a different carrier or a new SIM card. In theory, this should make it impossible for someone to do a SIM swap (also known as SIM hijacking or port-out scam) over the phone. But it's unclear whether all T-Mobile customers can have NOPORT or how effective it really is. T-Mobile doesn't even inform customers that it exists. I learned about it from a tipster, and then confirmed that it is indeed real. I was able to activate the feature on my own T-Mobile account by calling customer service and asking for it to be put on the account, but the company has declined to answer specific questions about the feature.

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Don't Starve dev's avoid-the-floor parkour platformer Hot Lava is out next week

Eurogamer - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 18:03

Don't Starve developer Klei Entertainment's avoid-the-floor parkour platformer Hot Lava will be springing across the upholstery and out onto Steam next Thursday, 19th September.

Hot Lava, as you've no doubt already guessed, takes inspiration from the classic children's game in which players must scramble across a makeshift obstacle course consisting of home furnishing/priceless nicknacks/pets in order to reach a designated end-point, all while avoiding stepping on the ground. Because it is lava and therefore death.

Of course, in Klei's video game reimagining, the floor actually is lava (or toxic waste or bottomless pits), and touching it will most definitely lead to death.

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Categories: Video Games

Twitter's Stenciled San Francisco Street Tweets Illegal Graffiti, City Says

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 18:01
For the better part of a year, Twitter has been trying to rebrand itself as a safe place for healthy conversations -- rather than a social network rife with bullying and racism. But its latest advertising campaign, one that involves stenciling city sidewalks with users' tweets, might brand the site as a scofflaw instead. From a report: Earlier this week, Twitter users started posting pictures of the stencils popping up around the downtown corridor, part of the campaign running in San Francisco and New York through early October. Some were strategically placed. "Twitter is like running up the down escalator," said one, neatly sprayed in front of an escalator leading to a BART station. "Twitter is garbage and I am a raccoon," said another near a trash can. Apt or not, the stencils, created using a spray-paint-like chalk, are illegal, according to Rachel Gordon, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works. "That's not the use of the sidewalks," she said. "We can go and document them. If they don't remove them immediately, we'll send a crew to remove them and charge them."

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Spyro Reignited Trilogy's first PC mods make it retro again

Eurogamer - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 17:35

It's been just over a week since Spyro Reignited Trilogy first glided onto PCs, which means there's already a bunch of mods for you to try out. Somewhat hilariously, many of these (and indeed the most popular) are ones that seek to make the remastered Spyro games appear more like the original titles. We have come full circle.

Also, someone's replaced the Spyro model with a Shibe from Nintendogs. Do it for the memes.

Over on Nexusmods, the current most-popular Spyro Reignited Trilogy mod is Aveean's Classic Spyro mod, which takes the new model and gives it the retro Spyro colours. According to the mod description, Aveean was inspired to create this following a Reddit request - and simply because they liked the original colour. Aveean has altered the main Spyro skin to have "less pink on the body, unsaturated horns and belly, dark red wings and light scales", all of which give Spyro a slightly cooler shade. Here's my purple boi before and after the mod:

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Categories: Video Games

Los Angeles OKs a Deal For Record-Cheap Solar Power and Battery Storage

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 17:21
For a long time, there were two big knocks against solar power: It's expensive, and it can't keep the lights on after sundown. A contract approved this week by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power shows how much that reality has changed. From a report: Under the 25-year deal with developer 8minute Solar Energy, the city would buy electricity from a sprawling complex of solar panels and lithium-ion batteries in the Mojave Desert of eastern Kern County, about two hours north of Los Angeles. The Eland project would meet 6% to 7% of L.A.'s annual electricity needs and would be capable of pumping clean energy into the grid for four hours each night. The combined solar power and energy storage is priced at 3.3 cents per kilowatt-hour -- a record low for this type of contract, city officials and independent experts say, and cheaper than electricity from natural gas. The Eland deal's approval was delayed last month after DWP staff said concerns had been raised by the union representing employees of the city-run utility. It wasn't clear whether the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 had specific objections to the Eland project. But the union has been on the attack against L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti since his decision in February to shut down three natural-gas-fired power plants along the coast, which could force hundreds of union workers to transition to new jobs.

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Toyota Is Trying To Figure Out How To Make a Car Run Forever

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 16:41
Put together the best solar panels money can buy, super-efficient batteries and decades of car-making know-how and, theoretically, a vehicle might run forever. From a report: That's the audacious motivation behind a project by Toyota Motor, Sharp and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization of Japan, or NEDO, to test a Prius that could revolutionize transportation. "The solar car's advantage is that -- while it can't drive for a long range -- it's really independent of charging facilities," said Koji Makino, a project manager at Toyota. Even if fully electric cars overtake petroleum-powered vehicles in sales, they still need to be plugged in, which means building a network of charging stations across the globe. The sun, on the other hand, shines everywhere for free, and when that energy is paired with enough battery capacity to propel automobiles at night, solar-powered cars could leapfrog all the new-energy technologies being developed, from plug-in hybrids to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, in one fell swoop.

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Mozilla Launches Paid Premium Support for Enterprise Customers

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 16:00
Mozilla has quietly launched a new product for enterprise customers: Ability to buy paid premium support for Firefox. From a report: The premium enterprise support for Firefox costs $10 per supported installation and offers customers the ability to submit bugs privately, get critical security bug fixes, get access to a private customer portal, get access to the enterprise critical issues distribution list, and have the ability to contribute to Firefox and its roadmap. According to Mozilla, it will support Firefox installations as long as they are running on machines that meet the system requirements. Windows, Mac, and Linux based operating systems are listed in the systems requirements so all platforms should be covered by the premium support.

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Autonauts is a game about how robots are only as clever as their creator

Eurogamer - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 15:30

Autonauts starts simply enough. Craft a bot, train it to chop down a tree, watch it trundle off to do your bidding. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out, quite a lot - because these robots are only as smart as you tell them to be.

"We had something like this the other day," creator Gary Penn tells me. "The Scunthorpe problem." You can teach a machine how to do something and it will do it to the letter - without human intuition to stop when necessary. In the most recent case, it was developer Denki's own profanity filter used to double check the names players give to Autonauts bots. Such systems are notorious for deciding certain clusters of letters - such as those in the name of that particular North Lincolnshire town - are enough to set their ones and zeroes flashing.

But Penn is a veteran of dealing with such things. Starting as a games journalist, he later worked at DMA Design, the studio which would become Rockstar, making Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings - perhaps the closest game to Autonauts on his CV. After that, he helped found Denki, the team behind the Xbox 360 and mobile puzzler Quarrel - a brilliant kind of Scrabble meets Risk. That game hit the Scunthorpe problem, too.

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EPA Rolls Back Obama-Era Regulations On Clean Water

Slashdot - Fri, 13/09/2019 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: President Trump's administration has rescinded an Obama-era policy that expanded federal oversight and the threat of steep fines for polluting the country's smaller waterways (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), furthering his deregulatory efforts in the 14 months that remain before the next election. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Thursday signed a final rule that limits the scope of federal clean-water regulations in an effort to clear up confusion for landowners whose property sits near water sources that feed into the country's network of major rivers. The Obama administration in 2015 had expanded federal oversight upstream, it said, to better protect wildlife and the country's drinking-water supply from industrial runoff and pollution. Mr. Wheeler called that expansion an overreach, saying it grew to cover dry land in some cases. Farmers, property developers, chemical manufacturers and oil-and-gas producers -- some of whom are key voter groups for the 2020 election -- have voiced opposition to it, with many saying it overreached by intruding on property owners' rights. Court battles following the Obama-era rule have led to fractured rules across the country. Amid the legal challenges, the regulation is in place only in 22 states, though the Trump administration's decision could spark its own series of court fights. Thursday's rule "restores regulatory text that existed before the 2015," the report notes. "Property that is no longer covered by the 1972 Clean Water Act remains protected by state rules. Major waterways, such as most rivers and lakes, were already under protection of the Clean Water Act and still will be after the rollback."

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