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Trump: We 'Will Take a Look' Into Peter Thiel's Claims of Google Working With China

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 17:35
President Trump said this week his administration will "take a look" into Google following statements made earlier this week by billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel. From a report: "Billionaire Tech Investor Peter Thiel believes Google should be investigated for treason," Trump said in a tweet. "He accuses Google of working with the Chinese Government... A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!" On Sunday, Thiel, a Facebook board member, said that the FBI and the CIA should investigate Google to see if it has been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence. "Number one, how many foreign intelligence agencies have infiltrated your Manhattan Project for AI (artificial intelligence)?" Thiel said, according to Axios. "Number two, does Google's senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence? Number three, is it because they consider themselves to be so thoroughly infiltrated that they have engaged in the seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military and not with the US military," Thiel said during the National Conservatism Conference in Washington.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Plants vs. Zombies 3 exists, but you probably can't play it yet

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 17:06

Out of nowhere, EA has confirmed the existence of Plants vs Zombies 3, playable to a select group of people via a pre-alpha build.

A Google Play store listing accessible in the US is currently advertising the game for certain Android users (as spotted by Android Police). The same link gives a 404 error here in the UK.

Screenshots show familiar plants and zombies from the series' roots - although one big change seems to be that sunflower energy comes not from actual sunflower plants placed on the game board, but from a meter.

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Categories: Video Games

Microsoft, AT&T Sign Cloud Deal Worth More Than $2 Billion

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 16:49
Microsoft and AT&T on Wednesday said they reached a deal under which the telecommunications company will tap Microsoft's Azure cloud service for its computing needs and use Microsoft 365, which includes Office productivity software, for much of its 268,000-strong workforce. From a report: Under the deal, Microsoft and AT&T will also work together on so-called edge computing, which will see Microsoft technology deployed alongside AT&T's coming 5G network for applications that need extremely small delays in passing data back and forth, such as air traffic control systems for drones. The multi-year deal is worth more than $2 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter. The agreement is a major win for Microsoft, which will become AT&T's "preferred" cloud vendor and is fighting to gain market share from Amazon Web Services, the biggest provider of public cloud services. Cloud service customers run their software applications in data centers managed by the cloud provider. AT&T will remain responsible for its own core networking operations for cell phones and other devices. But John Donovan, chief executive of AT&T Communications, told Reuters the deal is a fundamental shift for the telecommunications provider to become "public cloud first," meaning that it will predominately rely on data centers built by others to power the rest of its business.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Prison Architect, Nex Machina and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero headline the Humble Very Positive Bundle 3

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 16:47

A group of seven games highly praised by the Steam community are available for cheap as part of the Humble Very Positive Bundle 3.

Featuring a range of diverse and interesting titles worth over £100, you can be sure you'll find something of quality here based on the recommendations of other players. In fairness, if I only got the phenomenal Nex Machina for less than £10 I'd be more than thrilled!

Before I get too far ahead of myself, though, let's start at the first tier. The Humble Very Positive Bundle 3 starts at just 80p for psychological horror Distraint 2, tough roguelite Unexplored and atmospheric point-and-click adventure Rusty Lake Paradise. I've not seen much of these three games myself, but for less than a quid I'm willing to give them a go.

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Categories: Video Games

Pearson Ditches Print Textbooks For College Students in Digital-First Strategy

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 16:10
Texbook publishing giant Pearson will soon be publishing a lot fewer textbooks. It said this week it's ending regular revisions of all print textbooks in its higher-education category. As Pearson faces mounting pressure from the resale market, the move signals a growing shift in the publishing industry to a "digital-first" model. From a report: Instead of revising all 1,500 of its active titles every three years according to the print schedule, the British education publisher said it will focus on updating its digital products more frequently, offering artificial intelligence capabilities, data analytics and research. Pearson is billing the decision as a way to help drive down college costs for students. But the company and the education publishing industry as a whole have been criticized for years for the rising prices of textbooks. That has pushed a majority of students into secondhand textbook markets like Chegg or spurred them to forego buying class materials altogether. The average cost of college textbooks rose about four times faster than the rate of inflation over the last decade. "Our digital first model lowers prices for students and, over time, increases our revenues," Fallon said in a statement. "By providing better value to students, they have less reason to turn to the secondary market. Pearson's e-books can cost about $40 on average and go up to $79 for additional learning tools like homework assistance. That compares to prices that can go as high as $200 or $300 for a print textbook, according to Pearson CEO John Fallon, though students can still rent one for $60 on average.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Luigi's Mansion 3 gets the spookiest release date possible

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 15:13

Switch exclusive Luigi's Mansion 3 will launch on 31st October, Nintendo has just confirmed. Hey, that's Halloween!

Luigi's third spooky adventure is looking very promising indeed - I went hands-on with Luigi's Mansion 3 at E3 this year and came away impressed with what I saw.

Its haunted hotel setting provides for a more varied range of environments than in earlier games without breaking the feeling you're still trapped in a confined, haunted space. And the new moves for your trusty ghost-hunting Poltergust vacuum feel natural enough to have been in the series all along.

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Categories: Video Games

Carrot Weather is a murderous weather app that wants to quiz you

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 15:01

I got a new weather app for my phone the other day, because I am middle-aged now and have decided, accordingly, that the weather is interesting. The app is interesting too. It has a slider for "personality" tucked away in a settings menu, and the slider came set to "homicidal." Also, within about an hour of owning the app, it had made a reference to a very recent tweet from Donald Trump.

The idea, I gather, is that Carrot Weather is a weather app powered by a quirky AI. The AI calls me meatbag and is generally mean about everything, and the app is filled with funny little details and asides and hidden features. My favourite thing about it so far - okay, second favourite; yesterday it told me it was going to rain in a minute and a minute later it actually did - is a feature called Secret Locations.

Secret Locations is a means of getting you to mess around with the app's world map, I suspect. The map is wonderful: you can swipe around the world and see storms flocking in real-time. Secret Locations adds a layer of gameiness to everything. Every now and then it gives you a clue about a landmark and you have to go and hunt it down.

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Categories: Video Games

New Nintendo Switch announced, will have longer battery life

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 15:00

UPDATE 1.55pm: The new Nintendo Switch with longer battery life will go on sale in the UK this September, Eurogamer has been told.

"Consumers should start seeing the new packaging on store shelves starting from early September," a Nintendo UK spokesperson told me, "but that will vary by individual stores and locations."

If you're still waiting to buy a Nintendo Switch - and are not interested in the portable only Lite - you should hold off your purchase until then.

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Categories: Video Games

Justice John Paul Stevens, Dead At 99, Promoted the Internet Revolution

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 15:00
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens passed away Tuesday evening of complications following a stroke he suffered on July 15. He was 99 years old. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares a lightly edited version of Ars Technica's 2010 story that originally marked his retirement from the Supreme Court: In April 2010, the Supreme Court's most senior justice, John Paul Stevens, announced his retirement. In the weeks that followed, hundreds of articles were written about his career and his legacy. While most articles focus on 'hot button' issues such as flag burning, terrorism, and affirmative action, Stevens' tech policy record has largely been ignored. When Justice Stevens joined the court, many of the technologies we now take for granted -- the PC, packet-switched networks, home video recording -- were in their infancy. During his 35-year tenure on the bench, Stevens penned decisions that laid the foundation for the tremendous innovations that followed in each of these areas. For example, Stevens penned the 1978 decision that shielded the software industry from the patent system in its formative years. In 1984, Hollywood's effort to ban the VCR failed by just one Supreme Court vote; Stevens wrote the majority opinion. And in 1997, he wrote the majority opinion striking down the worst provisions of the Communications Decency Act and ensuring that the Internet would have robust First Amendment protections. Indeed, Justice Stevens probably deserves more credit than any other justice for the innovations that occurred under his watch. And given how central those technologies have become to the American economy, Stevens' tech policy work may prove one of his most enduring legacies. In this feature, we review Justice Stevens' tech policy decisions and salute the justice who helped make possible DRM-free media devices, uncensored Internet connections, free software, and much more. As the report mentions, Stevens was the Supreme Court's cryptographer. "Stevens attended the University of Chicago, graduating in 1941. On December 6 -- the day before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor -- Stevens enrolled in the Navy's correspondence course on cryptography." "Stevens spent the war in a Navy bunker in Hawaii, doing traffic analysis in an effort to determine the location of Japanese ships," the report adds. "He was an English major, not a mathematician, but he proved to have a knack for cryptographic work."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Say hello to the new member of Eurogamer's video team

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 12:56

Yet more new people! I'm delighted to announce that Zoe Delahunty-Light has joined Eurogamer as the newest member of our video team. Zoe joins Aoife and Ian - and my, isn't that an alphabetically pleasing line-up - on our YouTube channel. She will doubtless make an appearance from time to time here on the site, too.

Zoe comes to us from GamesRadar: you might have seen one of her videos or read one of her features or reviews over there, or spotted her presenting at the PC Gamer Weekender event.

Zoe lists her interests as "swords, drawing, medieval armour, doggos, God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Elder Scrolls and signing off emails with 'takk' (thank you in Icelandic, because Iceland is rad)". (It certainly is.) She hails from a small village on the south coast of England, the sort where people play cricket on the village green on Sundays.

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Categories: Video Games

GOG backtracks bizarre decision not to sell Heaven's Vault

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 12:32

Heaven's Vault, the excellent adventure game from 80 Days developer Inkle, is now finally available via GOG.

Unlike Steam, where Heaven's Vault launched on 16th April, GOG is a curated store - so not every game which applies to it gets accepted.

But the reasons why it got declined - despite positive reviews and feedback from players - have always remained a bit of mystery.

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Categories: Video Games

Fortnite update readies game for apocalyptic end of season battle

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 11:28

Fortnite fans are readying for the end of the season, and its climactic monster versus mecha battle scheduled for this Saturday (7pm UK time).

Today's big patch readies the game for this live event too, and the construction of Pressure Plant's mecha robot is now complete. Skip the paragraph below if you want to remain completely unspoiled.

Titled "The Final Showdown", an event mode will pop up on Saturday where players can watch the battle using jetpacks and on sky platforms. Players will be able to pick a side using one of two new banners (Mecha or Monster) although it is unclear if this will decide the outcome of the fight.

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Categories: Video Games

Apollo 11 Had a Hidden Hero: Software

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 11:00
"Monday's Wall Street Journal includes a special Apollo 11 feature," writes Slashdot reader Outatime in honor of the 50th anniversary since Apollo 11's Saturn V launched from the Kennedy Space Center. "[O]f particular interest to many Slashdot nerds is the piece on the pioneering computer hardware and software that took three astronauts, and landed two, on the moon." Here's an excerpt from the report: The [MIT Instrumentation Laboratory or I-Lab] was housed in a former underwear factory overlooking the Charles River, now long since demolished. The Apollo engineers and programmers labored at scuffed metal desks in cubicles with code scribbled on the chalkboard, slide rules on the table, cigarette butts on the linoleum floor. Fanfold computer printouts were stacked up to 6 feet high, like termite mounds. The lab had pioneered inertial guidance systems for the nuclear-warhead-tipped missiles of the Cold War, such as the submarine-launched Polaris intercontinental ballistic missiles. Funded by the U.S. Air Force, it also developed a plan in the late 1950s to fly a computerized probe to Mars and back. MIT received the first major Apollo contract, the only one awarded to a university, and the only one given without competitive bidding. In an era when a computer used fragile tubes, ran on punch cards and filled an entire room, the I-Lab engineers had invented a briefcase-size digital brain packed with cutting-edge integrated circuits and memory so robust it could withstand a lightning bolt -- a direct ancestor of almost all computers today. Unlike other machines of its era, it could juggle many tasks at once and make choices of which to prioritize as events unfolded. Apollo missions carried two of these computers, one aboard the command module and one in the lunar lander, running almost identical software. Only the lunar lander, though, required the extra code to set down safely on the moon.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Lair of the Clockwork God is an adventure game and a platformer, and the cogs mesh beautifully

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 09:00

Has anyone done this before? It seems so simple, so obviously pleasing and harmonious. But then I think about it and I can't bring any other easy examples to mind. And besides, I can't think of anyone who's done it with so many jokes. "The thing you have to understand," Dan Marshall tells me before I begin to play a short demo of the new standalone Ben and Dan game, Lair of the Clockwork God, "is that everything is a joke."

Everything? The hook for Clockwork God, the has-anyone-done-this-before brilliance of it, is that while the first Ben and Dan games were adventure games, this one is partly an adventure game and partly a riff on indie platformers. Which indie platformers? All of them. And there on the start screen, instead of Press A to Begin: "Begin Experience." Man, everything is a joke.

So this is the set-up. Ben loves adventure games: loves clicking on things, combining things in inventory and solving puzzles at his own pace. Dan thinks there's no money in that anymore, so he wants to make an "indie darling" platformer. Jumping, running around and dodging stuff, learning vague lessons about life and God and all that, and if Ben absolutely has to combine things in his inventory, can't he at least call it crafting?

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Categories: Video Games

Elon Musk Unveils Neuralink's Plans For Brain-Reading 'Threads' and a Robot To Insert Them

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 07:00
Neuralink, the secretive company developing brain-machine interfaces, held a press conference today where it unveiled some of the technology it's been developing to the public for the first time. The first big advance is flexible "threads," which are less likely to damage the brain than the materials currently used in brain-machine interfaces and create the possibility of transferring a higher volume of data. "The threads are 4 to 6 micrometers in width, which makes them considerably thinner than a human hair," reports The Verge. The other big advance that Neuralink unveiled is a machine that automatically embeds the threads into the brain. From the report: In the future, scientists from Neuralink hope to use a laser beam to get through the skull, rather than drilling holes, they said in interviews with The New York Times. Early experiments will be done with neuroscientists at Stanford University, according to that report. The company aims for human trials as soon as the second quarter of next year, according to The New York Times. The system presented today, if it's functional, may be a substantial advance over older technology. BrainGate relied on the Utah Array, a series of stiff needles that allows for up to 128 electrode channels. Not only is that fewer channels than Neuralink is promising -- meaning less data from the brain is being picked up -- it's also stiffer than Neuralink's threads. That's a problem for long-term functionality: the brain shifts in the skull but the needles of the array don't, leading to damage. The thin polymers Neuralink is using may solve that problem. However, Neuralink's technology is more difficult to implant than the Utah Array, precisely because it's so flexible. To combat that problem, the company has developed "a neurosurgical robot capable of inserting six threads (192 electrodes) per minute [automatically]," according to the white paper. In photos, it looks something like a cross between a microscope and a sewing machine. It also avoids blood vessels, which may lead to less of an inflammatory response in the brain, the paper says. Finally, the paper says that Neuralink has developed a custom chip that is better able to read, clean up, and amplify signals from the brain. Right now, it can only transmit data via a wired connection (it uses USB-C), but ultimately the goal is to create a system than can work wirelessly. Currently, the company is testing the robot and threads on rats, but it's hoping to actually begin working with human test subjects as early as next year. Story is developing...

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

US Heat Waves To Skyrocket As Globe Warms, Study Suggests

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: As the globe warms in the years ahead, days with extreme heat are forecasted to skyrocket across hundreds of U.S. cities, a new study suggests, perhaps even breaking the "heat index." By 2050, hundreds of U.S. cities could see an entire month each year with heat index temperatures above 100 degrees if nothing is done to rein in global warming. The heat index, also known as the apparent temperature, is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature. This is the first study to take the heat index -- instead of just temperature -- into account when determining the impacts of global warming. The number of days per year when the heat index exceeds 100 degrees will more than double nationally, according to the study, which was published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Communications. On some days, conditions would be so extreme that they'd exceed the upper limit of the heat index, rendering it "incalculable," the study predicts. What is there to be done about this? "Rapidly reduce global warming emissions and help communities prepare for the extreme heat that is already inevitable," report co-author Astrid Caldas said. "Extreme heat is one of the climate change impacts most responsive to emissions reductions, making it possible to limit how extreme our hotter future becomes for today's children."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Scientists Close In On Blood Test For Alzheimer's

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 04:03
pgmrdlm shares a report from CBS News: Scientists are closing in on a long-sought goal -- a blood test to screen people for possible signs of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. On Monday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, half a dozen research groups gave new results on various experimental tests, including one that seems 88% accurate at indicating Alzheimer's risk. Doctors are hoping for something to use during routine exams, where most dementia symptoms are evaluated, to gauge who needs more extensive testing. Current tools such as brain scans and spinal fluid tests are too expensive or impractical for regular check-ups. Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, called the new results "very promising" and said blood tests soon will be used to choose and monitor people for federally funded studies, though it will take a little longer to establish their value in routine medical care. "In the past year we've seen a dramatic acceleration in progress" on these tests, he said. "This has happened at a pace that is far faster than any of us would have expected."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Nokia 2.2 Brings Back the Removable Battery

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 03:25
HMD is bringing the latest version of the Nokia 2, called the "Nokia 2.2," to the U.S. For $139, it features a notched camera design, a plastic body, and a removable battery. Ars Technica reports: HMD is delivering a good package for the price, with a fairly modern design, the latest version of Android, and a killer update package with two years of major OS updates and three years of security updates. On the front, you have a 5.71-inch, 1520x720 IPS LCD with a flagship-emulating notch design and rounded corners. There's a sizable bezel on the bottom with a big "Nokia" logo on it, but it's hard to complain about that for $140. This is a cheap phone, so don't expect a ton in the specs department. Powering the Nokia 2.2 is a MediaTek Helio A22 SoC, which is just four Cortex A53 cores at 2GHz. The U.S. version gets 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage version with an option to add a MicroSD card. The back and sides are plastic, and on the side you'll find an extra physical button, which will summon the Google Assistant. The back actually comes off, and -- get this -- you can remove the 3000mAh battery! Speaking of unnecessarily removed smartphone features from the past, there's also a headphone jack. Unfortunately, it's missing some key features to keep the price down. There's a microUSB port instead of a USB-C port, no fingerprint reader, and cameras that have low expectations. Since it is a GSM phone, it will be supported by T-Mobile and AT&T networks, along with all their MVNOs.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

CES 2020 Will Allow Sex Toys But Crack Down On 'Sexually Revealing' Clothing

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 02:45
The Consumer Electronics Show will allow sex toys to win awards and be presented on the show floor next year under the show's health and wellness section. "The Consumer Technology Association, which runs the show, says they're being included on a 'one-year trial basis,' meant to assess how they fit into the category," reports The Verge. The group is also cracking down on "sexually revealing" clothing. From the report: The CTA is also updating the dress code policy for CES in an attempt to further crack down on companies hiring models to wear revealing clothing as a way to bring visitors to their booths. This kind of behavior has generally been banned already, but the CTA is now adding a punishment for violators: they risk losing rank in a tenure system that helps them attain a good position on the show floor. The new rules say that companies can get in trouble for outfits that are "sexually revealing or that could be interpreted as undergarments." If clothing reveals "an excess of bare skin" or "hugs genitalia," it will be banned as well. The guidelines apply to all staff. Pornography will remain banned on the show floor. The CTA says the ban will now be "strictly enforced with no exceptions," whereas some has slipped through in previous years. CES has maintained confusing policies around sex tech for years, and those rules have never seemed to be evenly enforced. Some companies, like the sex toy company OhMiBod, have been able to find a place on the show floor for years; others, like the porn studio Naughty America, have been able to show VR demoes in private booths. But the show's policies have seemingly prohibited all of this, and it's meant that other companies interested in showing their sex-related products have been unable to present at the enormous annual convention.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Apple Plans To Bankroll Original Podcasts To Fend Off Rivals

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 02:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service, according to people familiar with the matter, increasing its investment in the industry to keep competitors Spotify and Stitcher at bay. Executives at the company have reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are preliminary. Apple has yet to outline a clear strategy, but has said it plans to pursue the kind of deals it didn't make before. While Apple doesn't charge for the Podcast app or run its own advertising on the platform, adding exclusives and growing the Podcasts app could give some consumers another reason to stick to their iPhone or subscribe to complementary paid services like Apple Music. "Apple also has an advertising division focused on ads in the App Store, which theoretically could eventually be applied to Podcasts if it continues to increase its user base," the report notes.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff
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