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Google Abandons Go's try() Function Proposal, Citing 'Overwhelming' Community Response

Slashdot - Sun, 21/07/2019 - 13:34
Google's Go programming language will not add a try() function in its next major version, "despite this being a major part of what was proposed," reports the Register: Error handling in Go is currently based on using if statements to compare a returned error value to nil. If it is nil, no error occurred. This requires developers to write a lot of if statements. "In general Go programs have too much code-checking errors and not enough code handling them," wrote Google principal engineer Russ Cox in an overview of the error-handling problem in Go. There was therefore a proposal to add a built-in try function which lets you eliminate many of the if statements and triggers a return from a function if an error is detected. The proposal was not for full exception handling, which is already present in Go via the panic and recover functions. That proposal has now been abandoned. Robert Griesemer, one of the original designers of Go, announced the decision in a post Tuesday... "Based on the overwhelming community response and extensive discussion here, we are marking this proposal declined ahead of schedule. As far as technical feedback, this discussion has helpfully identified some important considerations we missed, most notably the implications for adding debugging prints and analyzing code coverage. "More importantly, we have heard clearly the many people who argued that this proposal was not targeting a worthwhile problem. We still believe that error handling in Go is not perfect and can be meaningfully improved, but it is clear that we as a community need to talk more about what specific aspects of error handling are problems that we should address."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Kojima passed on a Keanu recommendation because he wanted Mads instead

Eurogamer - Sun, 21/07/2019 - 12:51

At the Master Storyteller panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Hideo Kojima revealed Keanu Reeves - who's now starring in Cyberpunk 2077 - was originally recommended to him for Death Stranding, but the director insisted he wanted Mads Mikkelsen instead.

Kojima was also joined by film director, Nicolas Winding Refn, who plays the Death Stranding character, Heartman. They discussed their different approaches to storytelling, and Kojima opened up on why he prefers to work in games rather than movies, and says that regardless of whether his work gets critical acclaim or criticism "you think about it ten years later".

"There's no reason to create something that's already there," he said (thanks Kakai Chik via wccftech). "I want to create something that gives more inspiration to the world. Like Hollywood movies where some don't live with you, people just digest and consume. What I do is make something that's difficult to chow down when you digest my work.

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Categories: Video Games

Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce steps down

Eurogamer - Sun, 21/07/2019 - 12:02

Just months after Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime stepped away from the World of Warcraft developer, fellow co-founded Frank Pearce has revealed he too is also stepping down.

"After more than 28 years, Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce is hanging up his armor - thank you for everything, Frank, and best wishes for the future!" Blizzard announced on its social media channels, linking to a full goodbye statement from Pearce and J. Allen Brack, who succeeded Morhaime as president.

"The time has come for me to step away from Blizzard and pass the torch to the next generation of leaders," Pearce wrote in the post.

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Categories: Video Games

The Inventor Who Fought To Get Black Box Flight Recorders Into Every Plane

Slashdot - Sun, 21/07/2019 - 09:34
This week the BBC told the remarkable story of the man who invented the "black box" flight recorders -- and of all the resistance he enountered along the way. dryriver shared this summary: In 1934, a passenger plane name Miss Hobart crashed into the sea off the coast of Australia. Among those killed was Anglican missionairy Rev Hubert Warren, whose last gift to his 8 year old son David had been a crystal radio set. Young David Warren spent hours a day tinkering with the radio, eventually learning enough electronics engineering to build his own radios and sell them to other people. David Warren later grew to be a Rocket Scientist working for Australia's Aeronautical Research Laboratories. In 1953, the department loaned him to an expert panel trying to solve a costly and distressing mystery: why did the British de Havilland Comet, the world's first commercial jet airliner and the great hope of the new Jet Age, keep crashing? David Warren was confronted with a daunting problem -- how to determine from heavily deformed crashed plane fragments what had happened to the plane while it was in the air... Warren had an interesting idea -- what if every plane in the sky had a mini recorder in the cockpit...? Warren's superior did not approve of the idea and told him to stick to chemicals and fuels. When Warren got a new boss, the new boss was more sympathetic, but told him to do the R&D for it in complete secrecy. Since it wasn't a government-approved venture or a war-winning weapon, it couldn't be seen to take up lab time or money. "If I find you talking to anyone, including me, about this matter, I will have to sack you." When Warren first floated the idea of a cockpit recorder publicly, the pilots' union responded with fury, branding the recorder a snooping device, and insisted "no plane would take off in Australia with Big Brother listening." Undeterred, Warren took to his garage and invented the first "Black Box" flight recorder.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Final Fantasy 15's AI is secretly a grand philosophy experiment

Eurogamer - Sun, 21/07/2019 - 09:00

Where do bodies begin in video games, and where do they end? You might point to the body of a game's protagonist, but if a player's body isn't so much a body as an expression of your agency, it seems reductive to stop at the perceptible limits of a single character model. In the medieval horror game A Plague Tale: Innocence, the player's range of action and awareness is distributed across the bodies of several characters (together with the phantom onlooker that is the third-person camera) - big sister Amicia, a gang of teenage runaways and the sickly young Hugo, who must be guarded like an Achilles heel. Where exactly are you, the intelligence directing the simulation, in this shifting equation, and what does that bode for concepts of minds and bodies at large? To play such games may not feel like reading a treatise, but it's to participate in a thought experiment about the lines we draw between the categories of consciousness, flesh and world.

Games in general are useful platforms for the systematising and testing out of philosophical precepts, and there are projects that engage with this potential more earnestly. Another recent example is No Code's existential thriller Observation, which casts you as a space station AI suddenly encumbered with a self, and struggling to feel at home in a form that spans CCTV networks, heads-up displays and robot drones. The game I want to talk about today is a less likely work of philosophising - Square Enix's Final Fantasy 15, which, it transpires, owes rather a lot to traditions of scholarly inquiry that date back centuries. That's according to Youichiro Miyake, lead AI researcher at the publisher's Advanced Technology Division, who I sat down with at Reboot Develop Blue this spring.

Final Fantasy 15 is yet another JRPG about a dour princeling, Noctis, but you'll probably remember it most fondly for your three bodyguards - snippy Ignis, beefy Gladiolus and the ever-buoyant Prompto. As in A Plague Tale, these "side" characters are in theory distinct personalities, but they function almost as stray appendages, loosely organised reflections of the player's will. During exploration the trio form a loose-knit perimeter, Prompto unable to resist galloping ahead, which occasionally makes it unclear who is following who. During battle, your accomplices fight by themselves but synch up with the player in organic ways, inviting you to perform team attacks and peeling off to help out should you take a tumble. Enter a storied area, such as the opening gas station hub, and they'll fan out, both to give you some peace and direct your attention towards objects of interest. You can delegate to them, ordering Ignis to take the wheel of your swanky muscle car, the Regalia, or asking one of your counterparts to make the call on a dialogue response. Prompto also serves as a kind of involuntary recall function, snapping pictures of your exploits and offering them to you later for preservation.

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Categories: Video Games

NASA Marks The 50-Year Anniversary of Man's First Steps on the Moon

Slashdot - Sun, 21/07/2019 - 07:03
It's exactly one half century from that moment in time when men first walked on the moon, writes NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. "Today, on the golden anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, NASA looks back with heartfelt gratitude for the Apollo generation's trailblazing courage as we -- the Artemis generation -- prepare to take humanity's next giant leap to Mars." The lethargic lull of scientific fatalism afflicted portions of America then as it sometimes does today. There is nothing inevitable about scientific discovery nor is there a predetermined path of cutting-edge innovation. Long hours of arduous study and experimentation are required merely to glimpse a flicker of enlightenment that can lead to greater heights of human achievement... The Apollo program hastened ground-breaking technological advancements that continue to bestow benefits to modern civilization today. Flame resistant textiles, water purification systems, cordless tools, more effective dialysis machines and improvements to food preservation and medicine are just some of the innovative wonders generated during that era. Furthermore, NASA's utilization of integrated circuits on silicon chips aboard the lunar module's computer unit helped jumpstart the budding computer industry into the massive enterprise it is today. Perhaps the most enduring legacy of the Apollo missions was their ability to inspire young Americans across the country to join science, technology, engineering and math related fields of study... After more than 50 years, the benefits of human space exploration to humanity are clear. By proud example, the Apollo program taught us we cannot venture aimlessly into the uncharted territory of future discovery merely hoping to happen upon greater advancement. Technological progress is a deliberate choice made by investing in missions that will expand our limits of understanding and capability... NASA is preparing to use the lunar surface as a proving ground to perfect our scientific and technological knowledge and utilize international partnerships, as well as the growing commercial space industry. This time when we go back to the moon we are going to stay...

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Is There Tension Between Developers and Security Professionals?

Slashdot - Sun, 21/07/2019 - 03:34
"Everyone knows security needs to be baked into the development lifecycle, but that doesn't mean it is," writes ZDNet, reporting on a new survey they say showed that "long-standing friction between security and development teams remain." The results came from GitLab's "2019 Global Developer Report: DevSecOps" survey of over 4,000 software professionals. Nearly half of security pros surveyed, 49%, said they struggle to get developers to make remediation of vulnerabilities a priority. Worse still, 68% of security professionals feel fewer than half of developers can spot security vulnerabilities later in the life cycle. Roughly half of security professionals said they most often found bugs after code is merged in a test environment. At the same time, nearly 70% of developers said that while they are expected to write secure code, they get little guidance or help. One disgruntled programmer said, "It's a mess, no standardization, most of my work has never had a security scan." Another problem is it seems many companies don't take security seriously enough. Nearly 44% of those surveyed reported that they're not judged on their security vulnerabilities. ZDNet also cites Linus Torvalds' remarks on the Linux kernel mailing list in 2017, complaining about how security people celebrate when code is hardened against an invalid access. "[F]rom a developer standpoint, things really are not done. Not even close. From a developer standpoint, the bad access was just a symptom, and it needs to be reported, and debugged, and fixed, so that the bug actually gets corrected. So from a developer standpoint, the end point of hardening is just the starting point, and when you think you're done, we're really only getting started." Torvalds then pointed out that the user community also has a third set of entirely different expectations, adding that "the number one rule of kernel development is that 'we don't break users'. Because without users, your program is pointless, and all the development work you've done over decades is pointless... and security is pointless too, in the end." Juggling the interest of users and developers, Torvalds suggests security people should adopt "do no harm" as their mantra, and "when adding hardening features, the first step should *ALWAYS* be 'just report it'. Not killing things, not even stopping the access. Report it. Nothing else."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Are Millennials Spending Too Much Money On Coffee?

Slashdot - Sun, 21/07/2019 - 01:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Atlantic: Suze Orman wants young people to stop "peeing" away millions of dollars on coffee. Last month, the personal-finance celebrity ignited a controversy on social media when a video she starred in for CNBC targeted a familiar villain: kids these days and their silly $5 lattes. Because brewing coffee at home is less expensive, Orman argued, purchasing it elsewhere is tantamount to flushing money away, which makes it a worthy symbol of Millennials' squandered resources... In the face of coffee shaming, young people usually point to things like student loans and housing prices as the true source of the generation's instability, not their $100-a-month cold-brew habits... Orman and her compatriots now receive widespread pushback when denigrating coffee aficionados, a change that reflects the shifting intergenerational tensions that are frequently a feature of the post-Great Recession personal-finance genre. The industry posits that many of the sweeping generational trends affecting Americans' personal stability -- student-loan debt, housing insecurity, the precarity of the gig economy -- are actually the fault of modernity's encouragement of undisciplined individual largesse. In reality, those phenomena are largely the province of Baby Boomers, whose policies set future generations on a much tougher road than their own. With every passing year, it becomes harder to sell the idea that the problems are simply with each American as a person, instead of with the system they live in. "There's a reason for this blame-the-victim talk" in personal-finance advice, the journalist Helaine Olen wrote recently. "It lets society off the hook. Instead of getting angry at the economics of our second gilded age, many end up furious with themselves." That misdirection is useful for people in power, including self-help gurus who want to sell books... [W]hen it comes to money, says Laura Vanderkam, the author of All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending, there are usually only a couple of things that actually make a difference in how stable people are. It's the big stuff: how much you make, how much you pay for housing, whether or not you pay for a car.

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Microsoft Warns of Political Cyberattacks, Announces Free Vote-Verification Software

Slashdot - Sun, 21/07/2019 - 00:44
"Microsoft on Wednesday announced that it would give away software designed to improve the security of American voting machines," reports NBC News. Microsoft also said its AccountGuard service has already spotted 781 cyberattacks by foreign adversaries targeting political organizations -- 95% of which were located in the U.S. The company said it was rolling out the free, open-source software product called ElectionGuard, which it said uses encryption to "enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting." The company is working with election machine vendors and local governments to deploy the system in a pilot program for the 2020 election. The system uses an encrypted tracking code to allow a voter to verify that his or her vote has been recorded and has not been tampered with, Microsoft said in a blog post... Edward Perez, an election security expert with the independent Open Source Election Technology Institute, said Microsoft's move signals that voting systems, long a technology backwater, are finally receiving attention from the county's leading technical minds. "We think that it's good when a technology provider as significant as Microsoft is stepping into something as nationally important as election security," Perez told NBC News. "ElectionGuard does provide verification and it can help to detect attacks. It's important to note that detection is different from prevention." Microsoft also said its notified nearly 10,000 customers that they've been targeted or compromised by nation-state cyberattacks, according to the article -- mostly from Russia, Iran, and North Korea. "While many of these attacks are unrelated to the democratic process," Microsoft said in a blog post, "this data demonstrates the significant extent to which nation-states continue to rely on cyberattacks as a tool to gain intelligence, influence geopolitics, or achieve other objectives."

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'Super Mario Maker 2' Finally Acknowledges Nintendo Fan Communities

Slashdot - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 23:44
It was the best-selling game of June, with IGN calling it "the most accessible game design tool ever created, and that core is just one part of a greater whole..." Since its launch three weeks ago, fans have already built over 2 million custom stages, NPR notes -- but the real news is that Super Mario Maker 2 finally represents a shift in Nintendo's attitude towards its fan community: It's Nintendo's reliance on the creative spirit of these dedicated players that makes the Super Mario Maker series such a quietly radical property within the Nintendo canon... By loosening its grip on a beloved property and tossing the keys to the player community, Nintendo feeds into the fan-obsessive tendencies they've previously refused. With the Super Mario Maker series, Nintendo acknowledges the history of competitive speedrunning, tournament play, and even the masochistic fan games that have made their games visible and interesting in an entirely different way. It's the rare Nintendo game that is depending on those players, creators, and spectators to keep it alive. Super Mario Maker 2 has only been out for a few weeks, but already we've seen how the game's deceptively complex course editor has led to the community making some astounding levels... Nintendo has always been old-school in the way they rely on offline experiences, downplaying the kind of online communities that other developers prioritize. Ironically, it is that indifference that has made fan communities formed around Nintendo games feel singular and special -- they're smaller, more intimate, and regulated by the players themselves. With the Super Mario Maker franchise, Nintendo finally acknowledges the power and influence of its most obsessive fans -- by creating something that couldn't thrive without them. IGN argues that "it's astonishing how incredibly well it's all held together in one cohesive package... It does nearly everything better than its already excellent predecessor, introducing some incredible new ideas, level styles, building items, and so much more - all while maintaining the charm of Mario games we know and love." And Slashdot reader omfglearntoplay writes "If you like old games from the 1980s, this is your game."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

If This Type of Dark Matter Existed, People Would Be Dying of Unexplained Wounds

Slashdot - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 22:34
sciencehabit shared this article from Science magazine: Dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up most of the mass of the universe, has proved notoriously hard to detect. But scientists have now proposed a surprising new sensor: human flesh. The idea boils down to this: If a certain type of dark matter particle existed, it would occasionally kill people, passing through them like a bullet. Because no one has died from unexplained gunshot-like wounds, this type of dark matter does not exist, according to a new study... [It's title? "Death by Dark Matter."] This experiment doesn't rule out heavy macro dark matter altogether, says Robert Scherrer, a co-author and theoretical physicist at Vanderbilt University. It merely eliminates a certain range of them. Heavier macro dark matter would not occur frequently enough to measure, notes Katherine Freese, a theoretical physicist at the University of Michigan, and other forms wouldn't kill people. "There is probably still room for very heavy dark matter," says Paolo Gorla, a particle physicist at Italy's underground Gran Sasso National Laboratory, who is not involved with the study.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Is Russia Trying to Deanonymize Tor Traffic?

Slashdot - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 21:34
A contractor for Russia's intelligence agency suffered a breach, revealing projects they were pursuing -- including one to deanonymize Tor traffic. An anonymous reader shared this report from ZDNet: The breach took place last weekend, on July 13, when a group of hackers going by the name of 0v1ru$ hacked into SyTech's Active Directory server from where they gained access to the company's entire IT network, including a JIRA instance. Hackers stole 7.5TB of data from the contractor's network, and they defaced the company's website with a "yoba face," an emoji popular with Russian users that stands for "trolling..." Per the different reports in Russian media, the files indicate that SyTech had worked since 2009 on a multitude of projects. In February ZDNet reported that Russia disconnected itself from the rest of the internet in a test -- and suggests today that it was a real-world test of one of these leaked "secret projects" from the Russian intelligence agency. But the other projects include: Nautilus-S - a project for deanonymizing Tor traffic with the help of rogue Tor servers. Nautilus - a project for collecting data about social media users (such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn). Reward - a project to covertly penetrate P2P networks, like the one used for torrents. Mentor - a project to monitor and search email communications on the servers of Russian companies. Tax-3 - a project for the creation of a closed intranet to store the information of highly-sensitive state figures, judges, and local administration officials, separate from the rest of the state's IT networks. ZDNet also reports that the Tor-deanonymizing project, started in 2012, "appears to have been tested in the real world," citing a 2014 paper which found 18 malicious Tor exit nodes located in Russia. Each of those hostile Russian exit nodes used version 0.2.2.37 of Tor -- the same one described in these leaked files.

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Here's how Fortnite's mecha vs. monster battle played out

Eurogamer - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 21:01

The dust has settled on Fortnite's big season finale, which saw the game's much-hyped monster versus mecha face-off finally taking place. The two titans battled to the death - there could be only one winner.

Spoilers lie below.

As zero hour struck on the various countdown clocks around the map, the monster rose from the sea with Polar Peak's castle still on its back. Its target was the power of Fortnite's infamous Vault, hidden under Loot Lake.

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Categories: Video Games

New 'HBO Max' Streaming Service Will Include a 'Dune' TV Series

Slashdot - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 20:34
An anonymous reader quotes Android Authority: Studios like Disney and NBCUniversal are making preparations to launch their own streaming services, and they are planning to take back their back catalog of films and TV series with them. That's also what's happening with WarnerMedia, the AT&T-owned entertainment group that operates, among many other things, HBO, Warner Bros, and CNN. Recently, the conglomerate announced its own upcoming dedicated streaming service, HBO Max... Unconfirmed reports from Hollywood trade news outlets claim that HBO Max will cost between $16 and $17 a month. The service will be ad-free, although some reports have indicated that WarnerMedia might launch an ad-supported version of HBO Max at some point after the official launch in 2020. If that happens, it's likely the cost to sign up will be much less... While HBO Max will have quite a lot for subscribers to watch from WarnerMedia's library of content, it will have its own range of original TV shows and movies that will be found exclusively on the streaming service. They will be known as Max Originals. Here's what has been announced for HBO Max so far, which includes a couple of spin-offs from current and upcoming Warner Bros. series: Dune: The Sisterhood: Based on the classic Dune sci-fi novels by Frank Herbert, this 10-part series will focus on the Bene Gesserit group of women in this universe. Denis Villeneuve, who is directing the upcoming feature film adaptation of Dune, will also direct the pilot episode of the series. Gremlins -- The Animated Series: The mischievous and destructive creatures from the two Gremlins feature films will return as an animated series on HBO Max... A beta version of the service may launch before the end of 2019, according to Deadline. The studio's announcement also promised that HBO Max woud also include previously-announced HBO programs, including: Stephen King's The Outsider, a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman. Lovecraft Country, a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele (Us) and J.J. Abrams (Westworld). The Nevers, Joss Whedon's new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly.

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New Map Shows Where America's Police, Businesses Are Using Facial Recognition and Other Surveillance Tech

Slashdot - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 19:34
"Fight For the Future, a tech-focused nonprofit, on Thursday released its Ban Facial Recognition map, logging the states and cities using surveillance technology," reports CNET -- noting that "surveillance technology" in this case includes Amazon's Ring doorbell security cameras. A CNET investigation earlier this year highlighted the close ties between Ring and police departments across the US, many of which offer free or discounted Ring doorbells using taxpayer money. The cameras have helped police create an easily accessible surveillance network in neighborhoods and allowed law enforcement to request videos through an app. The arrangement has critics worried about the erosion of privacy. Until the release of Fight for the Future's map, there was no comprehensive directory of all the police departments that had partnered with Ring. Now you can find them by going on the map and toggling it to "Police (Local)." It lists more than 40 cities where police have partnered with Amazon for Ring doorbells.... The map is far from complete. Police departments aren't always up front about the technology that they're using. On the interactive map, Fight for the Future asked visitors to send it any new entries to add to the map.... The map also has filters for airports, stores and stadiums that are using facial recognition, as well as states that provide driver's license photos to the FBI's database of faces... . Fight for the Future's map also features a filter for regions where facial recognition use by government is banned. For now, that's only in San Francisco; Somerville, Massachusetts; and Oakland, California. The group's deputy director told CNET that the map's goal is allowing people "to turn their ambient anxiety into effective action by pushing at the local and state level to ban this dangerous tech. "No amount of regulation will fix the threat posed by facial recognition," he added. "It must be banned."

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'Caloric Restriction' Study Finds Surprising Health Benefits

Slashdot - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 18:34
The New York Times reports positive results from the first major clinical study of caloric restriction (funded by America's National Institutes of Health) in which 143 healthy volunteers ate (on average) 300 calories less each day: They lost weight and body fat. Their cholesterol levels improved, their blood pressure fell slightly, and they had better blood sugar control and less inflammation. At the same time, a control group of 75 healthy people who did not practice caloric restriction saw no improvements in any of these markers. Some of the benefits in the calorie restricted group stemmed from the fact that they lost a large amount of weight, on average about 16 pounds over the two years of the study. But the extent to which their metabolic health got better was greater than would have been expected from weight loss alone, suggesting that caloric restriction might have some unique biological effects on disease pathways in the body, said William Kraus, the lead author of the study and a professor of medicine and cardiology at Duke University. "We weren't surprised that there were changes," he said. "But the magnitude was rather astounding. In a disease population, there aren't five drugs in combination that would cause this aggregate of an improvement...." The researchers looked at measures of quality of life and discovered that the calorie-restricted group reported better sleep, increased energy and improved mood.... One question the study could not answer was whether caloric restriction could extend life span in humans the way that it can in other animals... But ultimately, caloric restriction did have a beneficial impact on a wide range of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, two conditions that cause death and disability for millions of Americans, especially as they get older. Asked about the study, the chairman of the nutrition department at Harvard's School of Public Health questioned whether caloric restriction would be practical for most people, given that "we are living in an obesogenic environment with an abundance of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods that are cheap, accessible and heavily marketed."

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How PlayStation 4 Pro is evolving into a great 1080p games machine

Eurogamer - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 18:07

It was the first console designed to tackle gaming for ultra HD displays, and the first mid-generation 'refresh' offering a substantial boost to performance over launch hardware. Since its 2016 debut, PlayStation 4 Pro has delivered some exceptional results for 4K living displays - results that seem almost miraculous for a 4.2 teraflop GPU - but in the years since, the Pro has evolved in new, unexpected directions. While 4K was initially the focus for the machine, I'd now say that it's something of a gem for 1080p display users as well. In fact, if you've stuck with your standard unit, now could be a good time to upgrade.

Let's consider the evidence - and it begins with the specifications of the PS4 Pro itself. Having discussed the hardware with many developers, Pro has two fundamental issues in delivering pristine quality 4K gaming. GPU compute has doubled over the standard model, opening the door to temporal supersampling and checkerboarding solutions that - as seen in many titles - can look exceptional on an ultra HD display. However, developers have to address the reality that the extra compute power is not backed by a similar boost in memory bandwidth. Meanwhile, a mere 512MB of extra memory to service a 2x-4x increase in pixel density also causes challenges.

At the same time, developers are pushing their games harder than ever before. A good example of this is Just Cause 4 - when I looked at the game at launch, the price paid for solid performance was the use of aggressive dynamic resolution scaling. The standard PS4 is known as a 1080p gaming machine, but JC4's DRS could see the game bottom out at 720p. PS4 Pro has since been patched with a checkerboard-rendered presentation, but at launch, it mostly sat at 1080p - and it was the smoothest, most consistent performer out of all the console versions.

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Categories: Video Games

Python 3.8 Will Finally Include the Walrus Operator

Slashdot - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 17:34
An anonymous reader quotes LWN: Python 3.8 is feature complete at this point, which makes it a good time to see what will be part of it when the final release is made. That is currently scheduled for October, so users don't have that long to wait to start using those new features. The headline feature for Python 3.8 is also its most contentious. The process for deciding on Python Enhancement Proposal (PEP) 572 ("Assignment Expressions") was a rather bumpy ride that eventually resulted in a new governance model for the language. That model meant that a new steering council would replace longtime benevolent dictator for life (BDFL) Guido van Rossum for decision-making, after Van Rossum stepped down in part due to the "PEP 572 mess". Out of that came a new operator, however, that is often called the "walrus operator" due to its visual appearance. Using ":=" in an if or while statement allows assigning a value to a variable while testing it... It is a feature that many other languages have, but Python has, of course, gone without it for nearly 30 years at this point. In the end, it is actually a fairly small change for all of the uproar it caused.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Facebook Backpedals From Its Original Ambitious Vision for Libra

Slashdot - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 16:34
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: David Marcus, the head of Facebook's new Calibra payments division, appeared before two hostile congressional committees this week with a simple message: Facebook knows policymakers are concerned about Libra, and Facebook won't move forward with the project until their concerns are addressed. While he didn't say so explicitly, Marcus' comments at hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday represented a dramatic shift in Facebook's conception of Libra. In Facebook's original vision, Libra would be an open and largely decentralized network, akin to Bitcoin. The core network would be beyond the reach of regulators. Regulatory compliance would be the responsibility of exchanges, wallets, and other services that are the "on ramps and off ramps" to the Libra ecosystem. Facebook now seems to recognize its original vision was a non-starter with regulators. So this week Marcus sketched out a new vision for Libra -- one in which the Libra Association will shoulder significant responsibility for ensuring compliance with laws relating to money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes... [T]here's a pretty fundamental tradeoff between network openness and effective enforcement of regulations governing payment networks. If the Libra Association doesn't have a way to enforce compliance by wallet providers, criminals are likely to flock to wallet services that don't strictly enforce the rules -- or to download open source wallet software and use non-custodial accounts. But if the Libra Association does have a mechanism for forcing compliance, that inherently raises the bar for entering the market and makes the Libra network look more like conventional financial networks -- with all the red tape that entails. This could be particularly harmful for marginalized people in developing countries, since developers in those markets will have the fewest resources to jump through regulatory hoops.

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Employers Are Mining the Data Their Workers Generate To Figure Out What They're Up To, and With Whom

Slashdot - Sat, 20/07/2019 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: To be an employee of a large company in the U.S. now often means becoming a workforce data generator -- from the first email sent from bed in the morning to the Wi-Fi hotspot used during lunch to the new business contact added before going home. Employers are parsing those interactions to learn who is influential, which teams are most productive and who is a flight risk. Companies, which have wide legal latitude in the U.S. to monitor workers, don't always tell them what they are tracking. [...] It's not just emails that are being tallied and analyzed. Companies are increasingly sifting through texts, Slack chats and, in some cases, recorded and transcribed phone calls on mobile devices. Microsoft Corp. tallies data on the frequency of chats, emails and meetings between its staff and clients using its own Office 365 services to measure employee productivity, management efficacy and work-life balance. Tracking the email, chats and calendar appointments can paint a picture of how employees spend an average of 20 hours of their work time each week, says Natalie McCollough, a general manager at Microsoft who focuses on workplace analytics. The company only allows managers to look at groups of five or more workers. Advocates of using surveillance technology in the workplace say the insights allow companies to better allocate resources, spot problem employees earlier and suss out high performers. Critics warn that the proliferating tools may not be nuanced enough to result in fair, equitable judgments. The report says that "U.S. employers are legally entitled to access any communications or intellectual property created in the workplace or on devices they pay for that employees use for work." Companies are getting smarter by analyzing phone calls and conference room conversations. "In some cases, tonal analysis can help diagnose culture issues on a team, showing who dominates conversations, who demurs and who resists efforts to engage in emotional discussions," the report says.

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