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YouTube TV Jacks Up Pricing To Become Most Expensive Cable TV Alternative

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 23:30
On Tuesday, Google's YouTube TV announced a monthly $15 price hike, bringing its streaming package of channels to $64.99 monthly, from $49.99. "YouTube TV is now the most expensive of the cable TV streaming alternative services," notes USA Today. "When YouTube TV launched in 2017, it was $35." From the report: In a company blog post, YouTube defended its decision by announcing the availability of additional channels from Viacom, including MTV and Nickelodeon. The move is effective Tuesday for new members, while existing subscribers will see their rates rise after July 30. "This new price reflects the rising cost of content and we also believe it reflects the complete value of YouTube TV, from our breadth of content to the features that are changing how we watch live TV," YouTube said. AT&T Now recently lowered pricing to $55 monthly, while Hulu with Live TV is $54.99. Sling TV is the lowest priced of the cable TV alternatives, at $30 monthly for the Orange or Blue packages, or $45 for both. However, Sling doesn't carry all the local broadcast stations in each market, so check your local listings. Philo is even cheaper, at $20 monthly, but is missing news and sports channels. A 2019 study by Consumer Reports found the average cable TV bill is $217.42 monthly.

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Android's AirDrop Competitor Is Coming Soon

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 22:50
Android's long-awaited "Nearby Sharing" feature, which allows you to share files between Android devices wirelessly, is rolling out to beta testers. Android Police reports: Nearby Sharing may appear slightly differently depending on the type of content you try to share. In all cases, it shows up as an app in the apps list on the share sheet, but you may also get a smaller prompt just under the content preview, more like it did in the previous Android 11 video leak. We tested it on a Pixel 4 XL and Pixel 3a running Android 10, but the appearance may also vary on other versions of Android. Note that Nearby Share works for both files like photos or videos, as well as other shareable content like Tweets and URLs. It probably works with a lot of things. Select Nearby Share in the share sheet as the target, and you're prompted to turn on the feature, if it's the first time you've used it. The quick setup process lets you configure your default device name and device visibility settings, though those can also be changed later. Once you have it enabled, Nearby Sharing starts looking for other nearby devices. The interface is pretty simple: A big X in the top left corner backs you out, your avatar on the right takes you to a settings pane that lets you configure things like your device name, visibility, and which mechanism to use to make the transfer (i.e., whether to use your internet connection for small files, to stick to Wi-Fi, or to always share offline). Google says Nearby Share is currently in limited testing via the Play Services beta: "We're currently conducting a beta test of a new Nearby Share feature that we plan to share more information on in the future. Our goal is to launch the feature with support for Android 6+ devices as well as other platforms."

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National Mask Mandate Could Save 5 Percent of GDP, Economists Say

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 22:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: After a late-spring lull, daily coronavirus cases in the United States have again hit record highs, driven by resurgent outbreaks in states such as Florida, Arizona and California. Hospitals in Houston are already on the brink of being overwhelmed, and public health experts worry the pandemic's body count will soon again be climbing in tandem with the daily case load. The dire situation has raised the specter of another round of state-level stay-at-home orders to halt the pandemic's spread and caused a number of governors to pause or reverse their ongoing reopening plans. Against this backdrop, a team of economists at investment bank Goldman Sachs has published an analysis suggesting more painful shutdowns could be averted if the United States implements a nationwide mask mandate. "A face mask mandate could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," the team, led by the company's chief economist, Jan Hatzius, writes. It's worth noting the authors of the report are economists and not public health experts. Their primary motivation is to protect the economic interests of Goldman Sachs's investors, which is why they're interested in the effects of federal policy on gross domestic product. But their findings are in line with a number of other published studies on the efficacy of masks. The Goldman Sachs report notes the United States is a global outlier with respect to face mask use, which is widespread in Asia and currently mandated in many European countries. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "recommends" the use of masks in public and 20 states plus the District of Columbia have implemented their own mandates, there is no binding national policy, with wide regional variations in mask use around the country. "We estimate that statewide mask mandates gradually raise the percentage of people who 'always' or 'frequently' wear masks by around 25 [percentage points] in the 30+ days after signing," the authors write. "Our numerical estimates are that cumulative cases grow 17.3% per week without a mask mandate but only 7.3% with a mask mandate, and that cumulative fatalities grow 29% per week without a mask mandate but only 16% with a mask mandate."

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Media Molecule's Dreams is getting VR support in July

Eurogamer - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 21:52

Media Molecule's impressively flexible PlayStation 4 creation tool Dreams will finally be getting PSVR support next month, starting on 22nd July.

Dreams' VR support will arrive as part of a free expansion Media Molecule is calling Inside The Box, which will include tutorials, kits, and everything users might potentially need to both create and play Dreams experiences from within VR.

According to a new post on the PlayStation Blog, Inside The Box gets things started with a new introduction called All Aboard VR, designed to walk through Dreams' new VR controls.

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Categories: Video Games

Fallout 76's free season-pass-style progression system arrives today

Eurogamer - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 20:31

Earlier this year, Bethesda announced it would be introducing a season-pass-style progression system to its online multiplayer nuke'-em-up Fallout 76, and those holding their breath in anticipation of its arrival can finally exhale: the inaugural Seasons update is out today.

Each Season presents Fallout 76 players with 100 progression levels to climb by earning S.C.O.R.E. points through Daily and Weekly challenges. A new reward is doled out at each rank, and Bethesda says these can include unique armour, C.A.M.P. items, weapon skins, Power Armour paints, photo frames, consumables, Perk Card Packs, Atoms, and more.

Fallout 76's first Season is officially titled The Legendary Run and promises over 40 cosmetic items to unlock. There's a bit of a retro space theme for this one, influencing not just the presentation (the progression screen is done up to resemble a Captain Cosmos board game) but also the rewards too, as detailed on the Seasons webpage.

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Uber's New Strategy: Buy Unprofitable Companies, ???, Profit

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 20:08
Uber's new strategy is just like its old one. Make its money-losing business bigger by buying other money-losing businesses like Postmates. From a report: After Uber's merger talks with food-delivery company Grubhub fell apart, Uber has now set its sights on Postmates, according to the New York Times. Uber Eats, the ride-hailing company's food-delivery unit, is just as unprofitable as the rest of Uber's business operations, but that hasn't stopped the company from reportedly offering $2.6 billion to takeover Postmates. Uber has been searching for ways to stay afloat during the pandemic as its core ride-hailing business has collapsed and its business model of misclassifying driver-employees as independent contractors to save on labor costs is coming under increased scrutiny in California and nationwide. In its Q1 earnings call, Uber reported that rides were down over 80 percent and it had recorded an eye-watering loss of $2.9 billion (it has never recorded a profit), but there was a bright spot: food-delivery was up by 54 percent since last year. Still, it's not clear that Uber Eats -- or an acquisition of Postmates -- will be enough to save the company. In March, Rideshare Drivers United, an app-based driver advocacy group in California, released a wage claim tool to let drivers claim stolen wages and unpaid business expenses; a mere 4,000 Uber and Lyft drivers have filed claims in excess of $1 billion. Last year, there were well over half a million Uber and Lyft drivers last year and reports have pegged Uber's annual driver retention rate at around 4 percent. Mind you, this is only in California and only includes wage claims -- there is also a growing call for Uber to pay state unemployment insurance taxes in not only California but the rest of the country, a prospect that could cost billions more if realized.

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FCC Declares Huawei, ZTE 'National Security Threats'

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 19:17
The Federal Communication Commission has declared Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE "national security threats," a move that will formally ban U.S. telecom companies from using federal funds to buy and install Huawei and ZTE equipment. From a report: FCC chairman Ajit Pai said that the "weight of evidence" supported the decision to ban the technology giants. Federal agencies and lawmakers have long claimed that the tech giants are subject to Chinese law, which "obligates them to cooperate with the country's intelligence services," Pai said. "We cannot and will not allow the Chinese Communist Party to exploit network vulnerabilities and compromise our critical communications infrastructure," the FCC said in a separate statement. Huawei and ZTE have repeatedly rejected the claims. The order, published by the FCC on Tuesday, said the designation takes immediate effect, but it's not immediately clear how the designation changes the status quo. In November of last year, the FCC announced that companies deemed a national security threat would be ineligible to receive any money from the Universal Service Fund. The $8.5B USF is the FCC's main way of purchasing and subsidizing equipment and services to improve connectivity across the country.

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Microsoft, LinkedIn To Retrain Unemployed Workers for In-Demand Jobs

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 18:51
Microsoft and its LinkedIn unit will provide free job training to help unemployed workers prepare for in-demand jobs as the global pandemic pushes U.S. joblessness to levels as bad as those during the Great Depression. From a report: The program uses LinkedIn data to find the jobs that employers most want to fill, and offers free access to content that helps workers develop the required skills. The company will also cut the cost of its certification exams and offer free job-seeking tools. Microsoft aims to provide additional skills to 25 million people globally by the end of the year through the program for such jobs as software developer, customer-service specialist and graphic designer. Microsoft said its calculations show global unemployment may reach a quarter of a billion people this year. The U.S. unemployment rate was 13.3% in May, the highest level since 1940, as the coronavirus shut down stores, restaurants and bars, with higher rates of joblessness among Black and Latino workers. While parts of the economy are starting to reopen in the U.S., companies are also shutting down, filing for bankruptcy or announcing permanent job cuts to adjust to a long-term slowdown.

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Monster Hunter World: Iceborne's delayed Alatreon update out next week

Eurogamer - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 18:50

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne's previously delayed fourth major content update - which pits hunters against formidable elemental-shifting black dragon Alatreon - finally has a release date, and will be making its way to Xbox One, PS4, and PC next Thursday, 9th July.

Alatreon - whose arrival in Iceborne was teased at the start of the year, when Capcom hinted that players could look forward to the return of a "fan-favourite" creature as part its 2020 development roadmap - originally debuted in Monster Hunter 3, and was set to make its mark on Iceborne, complete with craftable weapons and armour, in May.

However, Capcom was ultimately forced to delay Alatreon's arrival due to "coronavirus related impacts on production", which, it noted, would also affect voiceover production, meaning the update's Italian, Spanish, and French voice work will be replaced with "simplified recordings".

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Amazon Launches Space Push To Drive Cloud-Computing Growth

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 18:09
Amazon.com is boosting efforts to lure military and commercial space organizations as major users of its cloud-computing services, hoping to benefit from rising government spending and burgeoning private investment. From a report: The move by Amazon Web Services, the online retail giant's cloud-computing arm, comes during a multiyear surge in U.S. military and civilian agency spending on space projects, with NASA, the Pentagon and their largest contractors -- including Lockheed Martin -- benefiting from hefty appropriated or proposed budget increases. Lockheed Martin already is an Amazon customer. Capitol Hill is pouring billions of dollars into new boosters and the next generation of superfast missiles, driven, in part, by White House and intelligence community warnings about Chinese and Russian advances in space. Commercial companies are building or planning to deploy swarms of small satellites encircling the globe, though the Covid-19 pandemic has dimmed the immediate outlook for many private space projects. Amazon is anticipating a huge increase in space-related cloud-computing contracts globally with a market size estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars, said Teresa Carlson, AWS's vice president in charge of public sector business. "There's a need for a more modernized approach to this industry," Ms. Carlson said. AWS will formally announce it is establishing a dedicated segment, called Aerospace and Satellite Solutions, at an online summit focused on business with the public sector on Tuesday. The group will be run by retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Clint Crosier, who, until recently, was in charge of planning to set up the Space Force, the newly created branch of the military. The initiative comes as AWS faced increased pressure from cloud-computing rivals for public sector business. Last year, AWS lost out to Microsoft in a high-profile competition to provide the Pentagon cloud-computing services. The program, known as JEDI, could be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years. Amazon has challenged the outcome.

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Universities and Tech Giants Back National Cloud Computing Project

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 17:30
Leading universities and major technology companies agreed on Tuesday to back a new project intended to give academics and other scientists access to the computing resources now available mainly to a few tech giants. From a report: The initiative, the National Research Cloud, has received bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. Lawmakers in both houses have proposed bills that would create a task force of government science leaders, academics and industry representatives to outline a plan to create and fund a national research cloud. This program would give academic scientists access to the cloud data centers of the tech giants, and to public data sets for research. Several universities, including Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Ohio State, and tech companies including Google, Amazon and IBM backed the idea as well on Tuesday. The organizations declared their support for the creation of a research cloud and their willingness to participate in the project. The research cloud, though a conceptual blueprint at this stage, is another sign of the largely effective campaign by universities and tech companies to persuade the American government to increase government backing for research into artificial intelligence. The Trump administration, while cutting research elsewhere, has proposed doubling federal spending on A.I. research by 2022. Fueling the increased government backing is the recognition that A.I. technology is essential to national security and economic competitiveness. The national cloud legislation will be proposed as an amendment to this year's defense budget authorization. "We have a real challenge in our country from China in terms of what they are doing with A.I.," said Representative Anna G. Eshoo, Democrat of California, a sponsor of the bill.

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Some The Wonderful 101: Remastered Kickstarter backers still haven't got their boxed copies

Eurogamer - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 17:25

Kickstarter backers of The Wonderful 101: Remastered are facing long waits for their physical copies of the game - more than a month after its digital version went on sale.

Production of the game's physical copies and other Kickstarter rewards has been delayed due to the current global pandemic, developer Platinum Games and distributor Yetee previously told backers.

Those left waiting for their copy have been gifted a Steam key for the game instead.

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Categories: Video Games

Apple Executive Defends App Store Rules Scrutinized by EU and US

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 16:48
The Apple executive in charge of the App Store in Europe said that the company's policies ensure a level playing field for developers and ease-of-use for customers as regulatory scrutiny over the platform mounts. From a report: "Our efforts to help developers succeed are broad, deep and ongoing, and they extend to apps -- in music, email, or a variety of other categories -- that compete with some aspect of our business," Daniel Matray, the iPhone maker's head of App Store and media services in Europe, said in a speech Tuesday at a four-day virtual conference hosted by Forum Europe. The speech comes as Apple faces antitrust probes in the European Union and U.S. over rules it imposes on developers. In particular, regulators are taking aim at the requirement that apps use the company's in-house payment service, which takes a cut of 15% to 30% of most subscriptions and in-app purchases. Matray said that about 85% of apps it hosts don't pay Apple a commission because they're free or earn revenue through other means. Further reading: How Apple Stacked the App Store With Its Own Products.

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Nintendo president apologises for Switch Joy-Con drift

Eurogamer - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 16:15

Nintendo has given its first formal apology for the continued Joy-Con problems faced by Nintendo Switch owners.

In a recent investor briefing, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa was asked about the ongoing issue which has plagued the Switch's Joy-Con controllers ever since the system first launched.

"Regarding the Joy-Con, we apologise for any trouble caused to our customers," Furukawa said (as translated by Kotaku).

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Google Removes 25 Android Apps Caught Stealing Facebook Credentials

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 16:10
Google has removed this month 25 Android apps from the Google Play Store that were caught stealing Facebook credentials. From a report: Before being taken down, the 25 apps were collectively downloaded more than 2.34 million times. The malicious apps were developed by the same threat group and despite offering different features, under the hood, all the apps worked the same. According to a report from French cyber-security firm Evina shared with ZDNet today, the apps posed as step counters, image editors, video editors, wallpaper apps, flashlight applications, file managers, and mobile games. The apps offered a legitimate functionality, but they also contained malicious code. Evina researchers say the apps contained code that detected what app a user recently opened and had in the phone's foreground. If the app was Facebook, the malicious app would overlay a web browser window on top of the official Facebook app and load a fake Facebook login page (see image below: blue bar = actual Facebook app, black bar = phishing page).

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EGX and PAX to join forces for 9-day online event in September

Eurogamer - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 16:00

EGX, the UK gaming show run by Eurogamer's parent company ReedPop, has sadly had its 2020 edition cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic - but the organisers have come up with something rather special to replace it.

EGX Digital will run from 12th to 20th September - and will join forces with ReedPop stablemate PAX Online, running over the same dates, to create a global, three-continent-spanning online event, with round-the-clock, 24-hour content across all nine days. Oh, and it's free to everyone.

The show will boast many features familiar from physical editions of PAX and EGX (except the queues), including developers sessions, panels, playable games, live Let's Plays, live esports, a huge selection of indie games, meet-and-greets and much more. Eurogamer will be closely involved, of course, bringing you coverage of the event as well as taking part in the streams, panels, sessions and more. The same goes for Digital Foundry and our friends at Outside Xbox, Rock Paper Shotgun, Dicebreaker, VG247 and gamesindustry.biz.

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Pokémon Go maker Niantic's next game is Catan: World Explorers

Eurogamer - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 15:43

The fourth game from Niantic, the maker of Ingress, Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, will be... Catan: World Explorers.

This new themed take on the developer's massively-multiplayer augmented reality formula uses the same library of real-world locations to turn the planet into a giant Catan game board.

As you might expect, you'll be collecting brick, lumber, grain, ore and wool to trade with other players and build settlements into cities.

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Crysis Remastered trailer and release date leaked

Eurogamer - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 15:18

UPDATE 1/7/20 4.05pm UK: Crytek has delayed the gameplay reveal and release date of Crysis Remastered following feedback to yesterday's leaks.

The game's launch (leaked yesterday as 23rd July) will be pushed back several weeks as Crytek polish the game further.

"Your passion for the Crysis franchise deserves an undeniably high-quality game, and we are committed to delivering just that," Crytek wrote in a statement posted to Twitter this afternoon. "To ensure we meet that commitment, we will need to delay the launch date (all platforms) and trailer premiere by a few weeks.

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Harmonix's Fuser is a music creation tool disguised as a game

Eurogamer - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 15:00

Harmonix has developed many games about recreating and performing music. This time around, the Guitar Hero and Dance Central studio wants players to get creative. Fuser is all about creating mashup remixes out of popular songs, either in a campaign, freestyle mode or multiplayer.

After preview events earlier this year, this is the first extended hands-on with Fuser, giving me a full four days with 31 songs, two campaign missions and the freestyle mode.

You manage four channels - each song is divided into drums, a bassline, and a melody instrument such as synths or strings and vocals. Each of these categories is mapped to a fixed button, so you always press the right-hand button for the vocal track, the left hand one for drums and so on. As intuitive as the controls are, Fuser is immediately a lot. Unlike previous Harmonix games, which have you focus on your instrument by relegating the crowd and your avatar to the background, there's a whole music festival virtually standing between you and your table. Initially, I had a good giggle at the idea that attendees at a huge festival like that would dare to shout "I want country!", but it's just one of the ways in which gameplay doesn't really fit the rest of Fuser's ideas. The skill it asks of you lies in dividing your attention between crowd requests, in-game tasks and, oh yeah - making actual music. Fuser is such a departure for Harmonix not only because it ditches the dexterity challenge of classic rhythm gaming, but because the developer is actively trying to reach players who either aren't interested in music gaming as a test of skill, or are unable or unwilling to invest in peripherals by basing everything around your controller only.

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Disney Research Creates Face-Swapping Technique For High-Res Video

Slashdot - Tue, 30/06/2020 - 15:00
shirappu writes: A new paper by Disney Research shows off a newly developed neural network that can swap faces in photos and videos at high-resolution. The idea behind this technology is to replace an actor's performance with a different actor's face, or for roles that require de-aging or increasing age, or for portraying actors who have passed away. Current face-swapping technology (also known as deepfakes) often creates an "uncanny valley" effect, where something about the image or video feels off. Though there is some of that in Disney Research's tech, it's still a huge step forward for creating believable face-swapping in the entertainment industry. This has once again brought up a conversation around the ethical use of this technology and the potential for malicious use. However, given the amount of ongoing R&D in this area, it seems unlikely that we'll see any slowdown in the near future.

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