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Watchmen Creator Alan Moore: Modern Superhero Culture is Embarrassing

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 18:50
Is it embarrassing for adults to like superheroes? According to Alan Moore -- creator of the Watchmen series and widely considered one of the greatest comic book writers -- it is. From a report: He says superheroes are perfectly fine for 12 or 13-year-olds but adults should think again. "I think the impact of superheroes on popular culture is both tremendously embarrassing and not a little worrying," he says. Alan wrote Watchmen in 1986. The series depicts an alternate history where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s and their presence changed the course of history. He believes the characters are "perfectly suited" to the imaginations of a younger audience - but now, they serve a "different function, and are fulfilling different needs." The writer claims adults enjoy superhero films because they don't wish to leave their "relatively reassuring childhoods" behind, or move into the 21st century.

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Some Fitbit Users Say They're Getting Rid of the Devices Because They Don't Trust Google

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 18:11
The trend of people throwing or threatening to throw out their Fitbit devices comes as Google faces a perception problem that has spanned everyday users and regulators alike. From a report: The company has paid data privacy fines in the EU and made recent strides into the stringently regulated healthcare industry, which has caused the public to re-think seemingly harmless tools. Privacy groups this week began pushing regulators to block the Fitbit acquisition, which the company originally hoped to close in early 2020. Google didn't respond to requests for comment. "I only recently got it and now I'm thinking I don't need Google watching literally my every step or my every heart beat," said Dan Kleinman, who said he is getting rid of his Fitbit Versa. Some people cited Google's 2014 acquisition of Nest Labs, which, at the time consisted of smart home thermostats. Since then, the company has tied Nest's technology, branding and device accounts to its digital assistant and smart speakers. Twitter users have been tweeting about their plans to get rid of their devices upon hearing of the acquisition.

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Esports pros face same stress levels as football and rugby stars, new study states

Eurogamer - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 17:33

Stress levels faced by top-level esports players are equal to those experienced by professional athletes.

That's according to a new study from the University of Chichester, which looked at the psychological impact of major esports contests on those taking part.

The study, titled Identifying Stressors and Coping Strategies of Elite Esports Competitors, will be published in the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations.

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Categories: Video Games

India Says Law Permits Agencies To Snoop on Citizens' Devices

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 17:27
The Indian government said on Tuesday that it is "empowered" to intercept, monitor, or decrypt any digital communication "generated, transmitted, received, or stored" on a citizen's device in the country in the interest of national security or to maintain friendly relations with foreign states. From a report: Citing section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and section 5 of the Telegraph Act, 1885, Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said local law empowers federal and state government to "intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence." Reddy's remarks were in response to the parliament, where a lawmaker had asked if the government had snooped on citizens' WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, and Google calls and messages.

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Rare on Everwild, Sea of Thieves and putting other games' stuff on their pirate ships

Eurogamer - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 17:00

One of the standout moments from Microsoft's XO19 event was the reveal of Everwild. Led by 20-year Rare veteran Louise O'Connor and a growing team within the legendary barn-filled Twycross developer, Everwild is a third-person adventure game set "in a natural and magical world".

That's not all Rare has on its plate at the moment, of course. While Everwild caught the eye at XO19, Sea of Thieves nears its second Christmas and development on the pirate adventure continues. Alongside these two games, Rare is working with the Essex-based studio Dlala on a new Battletoads. And, within Rare's famous barns, other things are afoot.

It's an exciting time for Rare, then, in 2019, the year before the launch of the next Xbox and with two cool games on its books. But it has not always been this way. Before Sea of Thieves met with success, and not long after Microsoft shut down fellow beloved UK studio Lionhead, there were serious questions being asked of Rare's future. And the studio's Kinect Sports saga had only fuelled the perception that the magic of old was lost. Things change quickly in the video game industry. Is Rare now back? Did it ever go away?

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Categories: Video Games

Microsoft Teams Hits 20M Daily Users, Up 50% in 4 Months

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 16:44
Microsoft Teams now has more than 20 million daily active users, a 50% spike in four months that puts the tool well ahead of its chief rival Slack. From a report: Microsoft revealed the number of Teams users for the first time in July, about a year after it first started offering a free version of the service. Teams has the advantage of being part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem with a pool of millions of users to pull from, setting it up for rapid growth. Last month, Slack said it had more than 12 million daily users, a 37 percent increase over the prior year. Despite trailing Microsoft in the number of users, Slack has said its high level engagement -- the average paid customer spends 9 hours a day on Slack and more than 90 minutes actively using it -- gives it an advantage in shaping the future of work. The two companies are in the midst of a fierce, multi-year rivalry for dominance of the competitive market for chat-based collaboration tools, which also includes tech giants Google and Facebook. Microsoft and Slack have been aggressive in making splashy announcements this year to showcase the growth of their platforms.

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Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will get Pokémon Go's gifting feature

Eurogamer - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 16:12

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is getting a familiar feature from Pokémon Go in its near future: in-game gifting.

It'll work in much the same way - you'll be able to pick up gifts from locations you visit and then send an in-game gift box to your friends.

But where Pokémon Go only has PokéStops and Gyms, Wizards Unite has Inns, Fortresses and Greenhouses - and this will allow you to tailor what's in your gifts appropriately.

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Categories: Video Games

Sweden Drops Julian Assange Rape Investigation

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 16:03
Sweden has dropped an investigation into a rape allegation made against Julian Assange. From a report: The deputy chief prosecutor, Eva-Marie Persson, told a news conference: "I want to inform about my decision to discontinue the preliminary investigation." The decision on Tuesday follows a ruling in June by a Swedish court that Assange, who denies the accusation, should not be detained. Two months earlier, the WikiLeaks founder was evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had been living since 2012.

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The Nintendo Switch Black Friday eShop sale starts later this week

Eurogamer - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 15:43

Now that everyone else has had their turn, the house of Mario has announced that the Nintendo Switch Black Friday eShop sale will start later this week with over 150 games reduced on the EU store.

The Cyber Deals sale will begin on 22nd November and run until 1st December. In that time, you'll find a whole host of top Switch games for up to 70 per cent off.

What games are in it, then, I hear you ask? Unfortunately, the full list will not be made available until the sale starts, but Nintendo has announced a few highlights. They are:

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Categories: Video Games

Detroit: Become Human arrives on PC next month

Eurogamer - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 15:28

PlayStation 4 adventure Detroit: Become Human comes to PC on 12th December, developer Quantic Dream has announced.

It'll be priced £29.99 on the Epic Games Store, where some of the studio's other games - Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls - have already launched. A free demo will also be available at the same time.

This PC version will offer 4K 60fps visuals and a new interface designed for mouse and keyboard, as well as gamepad controls.

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Categories: Video Games

Why Office Noise Bothers Some People More Than Others

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 15:00
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via the BBC: According to a 2015 survey of the most annoying office noises by Avanta Serviced Office Group, conversations were rated the most vexing, closely followed by coughing, sneezing and sniffing, loud phone voices, ringing phones and whistling. Why do we find it so hard to be around these everyday noises? What is it about them that allows them to lodge in our brains and make it impossible to think? [...] Back in 2011, researchers from University College London and the University of London decided to find out. First of all, the researchers asked 118 female secondary school students to complete a questionnaire, which revealed how extroverted or introverted each was -- essentially, whether they thrive on socializing and being immersed in the outside world or if they find these experiences exhausting. Next the students were subjected to a battery of cognitive challenges -- and to add extra difficulty, they were asked to complete them while listening to British garage music, or the clamor of a classroom. A control group completed them in silence. As the researchers suspected, all the students performed better in silence. But they also found that, in general -- with the exception of one test -- the more extroverted they were, the less they were affected by noise. A person's level of extroversion is thought to be a key aspect of their personality -- one of the so-called 'Big Five' factors that determines who we are, along with things like how open we are to new experiences. According to one prominent theory, extroverts are inherently "understimulated," so they tend to seek out situations which increase their level of arousal -- like noisy environments. Meanwhile, introverts have the opposite problem; as the famous poet, novelist and introvert Charles Bukowski put it: "People empty me. I have to get away to refill." With this in mind, it makes sense that more introverted workers would be more affected by the background noise, since anything that increases their level of arousal, like music or the chatter of colleagues, could be overwhelming.

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MIT Teaches Autonomous Cars How To Deal With Selfish Drivers

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 12:00
Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have devised a system that can predict what different cars will do by determining how selfish or selfless a driver is. From a report: Specifically, they used something called social value orientation (SVO), which represents the degree to which someone is selfish ("egoistic") versus altruistic or cooperative ("prosocial"). The system then estimates drivers' SVOs to create real-time driving trajectories for self-driving cars. Testing their algorithm on the tasks of merging lanes and making unprotected left turns, the team showed that they could better predict the behavior of other cars by a factor of 25 percent. For example, in the left-turn simulations their car knew to wait when the approaching car had a more egoistic driver, and to then make the turn when the other car was more prosocial. To try to expand the car's social awareness, the CSAIL team combined methods from social psychology with game theory, a theoretical framework for conceiving social situations among competing players. The team modeled road scenarios where each driver tried to maximize their own utility and analyzed their "best responses" given the decisions of all other agents. Based on that small snippet of motion from other cars, the team's algorithm could then predict the surrounding cars' behavior as cooperative, altruistic, or egoistic -- grouping the first two as "prosocial." People's scores for these qualities rest on a continuum with respect to how much a person demonstrates care for themselves versus care for others. Here are some potential use cases of such a system: "Say you're a human driving along and a car suddenly enters your blind spot -- the system could give you a warning in the rear-view mirror that the car has an aggressive driver, allowing you to adjust accordingly. It could also allow self-driving cars to actually learn to exhibit more human-like behavior that will be easier for human drivers to understand." The team is planning to apply their system to pedestrians, bicycles, and other agents in driving environments. "In addition, they will be investigating other robotic systems acting among humans, such as household robots, and integrating SVO into their prediction and decision-making algorithms," the report says.

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A new Half-Life would have to be VR

Eurogamer - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 11:14

Like Doc Brown, I once hit my head and saw the future. I didn't come round in the bathroom having the idea for the Flux Capacitor, but I did bonk my noggin pretty hard in the office games room and sit back, dazed but delighted with what had just happened.

I was playing the Budget Cuts demo on Valve's room-scale VR. Budget Cuts is a game about infiltrating an office that's patrolled with deadly robots. Because of the room-scale VR, you're really there: your actual body is your in-game body. This means that the robots are the same size as you - which is terrifying - and it also means that when you have to duck your head through a missing panel in the floor to look into the room below, you really have to do it. Except that while the game floor might be missing a panel, the real floor isn't. Bonk. I did it. Chris Bratt, who had also played the demo, had done it. A day later, so moved by what I'd played I brought in a friend to try it out. They did it too. We all hit our heads and we all saw the future.

More than just the future of video games, I really felt like I had seen the future of one series in particular. I still think this. I still think that Budget Cuts is essentially the closest I've ever gotten to playing Half-Life 3. It's not set in the Half-Life universe, although its mixture of horrific technology and the banal and bureaucratic is not a million miles away. It wasn't made by a Valve team, although I gather the people who made it did end up working on the final game at Valve as incubees. Instead, it channels that magical thing that Half-Life has always done.

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Categories: Video Games

Awaiting the return of Christmas shrubbery in Fortnite

Eurogamer - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 10:00

It's a bit early to start thinking about Christmas, but since this season above all others is a thing of many rituals, it shouldn't be too surprising when the rituals start slipping forward a little. Last week Starbucks brought out its red cups, and this week, perhaps because of all that, I've been looking to Fortnite to do its special Christmas thing.

It involves the shrubbery scattered about the place. Shrubbery that, when I first started playing the game, was incredibly important to me. Before I knew what I was doing - I still don't know what I'm doing - I spent a lot of time hiding in Fortnite's many bushes. They gave me an elbow up on a game that seemed to be full of much more talented players. I could get inside the circle, park in a bush and then wait as the player count ticked down.

Then Christmas came, and the bushes were suddenly transformed. They had fairy lights strung through them, which made them festive, but also made them more visible. It was a trade-off I was happy with, though, because I like it when a game like Fortnite is able to note the passage of time. There has always been a little of Animal Crossing to Fortnite. Maybe this is where I first started thinking about that.

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Categories: Video Games

China Now Launches More Rockets Than Anyone In the World

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 09:00
Last year, China set a goal of 35 orbital launches and ended up with 39 launch attempts. "This year, China is set to pace the world again," reports Ars Technica. "Through Sunday, the country has launched 27 orbital missions, followed by Russia (19), and the United States (16). Although nearly a month and a half remain in this year, a maximum of six additional orbital launches are likely from the United States in 2019." From the report: To be fair, China's space launch program has not been without hiccups. The country's space program is still trying to bring its large Long March 5 vehicle back into service after a catastrophic failure during just its second mission, in July 2017. And the country had three failures in 2018 and 2019, compared to just one in the United States and Russia combined. The United States has taken a step back this year in part due to decreased activity by SpaceX. The company launched a record 21 missions last year but has so far launched 11 rockets in 2019. A flurry of missions remains possible in the next six weeks for the company, including a space station resupply mission in early December, a commercial satellite launch, and additional Starlink flights. Another big factor has been a slow year for United Launch Alliance. The Colorado-based company has launched just two Delta IV-Medium rockets this year, one Delta IV-Heavy, and a single Atlas V mission. The company may launch Boeing's Starliner spacecraft before the end of 2019, giving the Atlas V rocket a second launch. It is possible that Rocket Lab, which has flown its Electron rocket from New Zealand five times in 2019 and is planning at least one more mission before the end of the year, will have more launches than United Launch Alliance for the first time. Sometime next year, Rocket Lab should also begin to add to the US tally for orbital launches as it opens a new facility at Wallops Island, Virginia.

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'Royalty-Free' Music Supplied By YouTube Results In Mass Video Demonetization

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: A YouTuber who used a royalty-free track supplied by YouTube itself has had all of his videos copyright claimed by companies including SonyATV and Warner Chappell. According to the music outfits, Matt Lownes' use the use of the track 'Dreams' by Joakim Karud means that they are now entitled to all of his revenue. [...] Worryingly, searches online show that not only are other people affected by similar mass complaints, but there may -- may -- be an explanation for what is going on here. "SonyATV & Warner Chappell have claimed 24 of my videos because the royalty free song Dreams by Joakim Karud (from the OFFICIAL YOUTUBE AUDIO LIBRARY BTW) uses a sample from Kenny Burrell Quartet's 'Weaver of Dream,'" a Twitter user wrote on Saturday. Sure enough, if one turns to the WhoSampled archive, Dreams is listed as having sampled Weaver of Dreams, a track from 1956 to which Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC and Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. own the copyrights. If the trend of claims against 'Dreams' continues, there is potential for huge upheaval on YouTube and elsewhere. Countless thousands of videos use the track and as a result it has become very well-known. Sadly, people trying to claim it as their own is nothing new but fingers crossed, common sense will sort out the present issues.

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Woman Who Inherited Huntington's Disease Sues Doctors

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 03:50
AmiMoJo writes: A woman is suing a London NHS trust for not revealing her father had been diagnosed with Huntington's disease before she had her own child. She only discovered he carried the gene for the degenerative, incurable brain disorder after her daughter was born. The woman then found out she too carried the faulty gene, meaning her daughter has a 50% chance of having it. The story is tragic. In 2007 her father murdered her mother and was found to have Huntington's, which often results in confusion and violent behavior. She was already pregnant at the time and her father asked that she not be told as he feared she would abort the pregnancy. Doctors were in a bind, with doctor-patient confidentiality on one hand and a duty of care on the other. The woman is arguing that in cases of serious inherited diseases children should have a right to know. She says if she had known she would not have had a child, who has a 50:50 chance of also having Huntington's and will one day have to look after her confused and possibly violent mother.

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Intel Unveils 7nm Ponte Vecchio GPU Architecture For Supercomputers and AI

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 03:10
MojoKid writes: Intel has unveiled its first discrete GPU solution that will hit the market in 2020, code name Ponte Vecchio. Based on 7nm silicon manufacturing and stack chiplet design with Intel's Foveros tech, Ponte Vecchio will target HPC markets for supercomputers and AI training in the datacenter. According to HotHardware, Ponte Vecchio will employ a combination of both its Foveros 3D packaging and EMIB (Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridge) technologies, along with High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) and Compute Express Link (CXL), which will operate over the newly ratified PCIe 5.0 interface and serve as Ponte Vecchio's high-speed switch fabric connecting all GPU resources. Intel is billing Ponte Vecchio as its first exascale GPU, proving its meddle in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Aurora supercomputer. Aurora will employ a topology of six Ponte Vecchio GPUs and two Intel Xeon Scalable processors based on Intel's next generation Sapphire Rapids architecture, along with Optane DC Persistent Memory on a single blade. The new supercomputer is schedule to arrive sometime in 2021.

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Hacker Publishes 2TB of Data From Cayman National Bank

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 02:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: On Sunday, Motherboard reported that the hacker or hackers known as Phineas Fisher targeted a bank, stole money and documents, and is offering other hackers $100,000 to carry out politically motivated hacks. Now, the bank Phineas Fisher targeted, Cayman National Bank from the Isle of Man, confirmed it has suffered a data breach. "It is known that Cayman National Bank (Isle of Man) Limited was amongst a number of banks targeted and subject to the same hacking activity," Cayman National told Motherboard in a statement issued Monday. "A criminal investigation is ongoing and Cayman National is co-operating with the relevant law enforcement authorities to identify the perpetrators of the data theft. Cayman National takes any breach of data security very seriously and a specialist IT forensic investigation is underway, with appropriate actions being taken to ensure that the clients of Cayman National's Isle of Man bank and trust companies are protected," the statement added. The statement doesn't name Phineas Fisher explicitly, but instead says the bank was the victim of a "criminal hacking group." "I robbed a bank and gave the money away," Phineas Fisher wrote in their most recent manifesto, adding that they breached the bank in 2016. "Computer hacking is a powerful tool to fight economic inequality." In its statement, Cayman National claimed it had found no evidence of financial loss either to its customers or Cayman National itself. Twitter account Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets) posted a link to the copies of the servers of Cayman National Bank and Trust. "To make certain files easier to access, the two Athol servers were combined into a single archive. The raw Athol servers will be released next week, along with the launch of the Hunter Memorial Library which will make over 600,000 of the bank's emails searchable online," reads a follow-up tweet. The total size of data is about 2 terabytes.

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Ford Introduces Mustang Mach-E Electric Crossover

Slashdot - Tue, 19/11/2019 - 01:50
140Mandak262Jamuna writes: Battery electric vehicle (BEV) fans are all excited about the introduction of an all-electric SUV by Ford. Specs and pricing are very similar to Tesla. Interior also is very similar with a large touchscreen. Elon Musk congratulated Ford on Twitter and Ford returned the compliments. Die-hard Tesla fans are saying Tesla is still better. Other BEV fans are welcoming Ford. I, for one, welcome the more affordable all-electric, non-compliance BEV (Ford's words, not mine). Ford's Mustang Mach-E is expected to achieve between 210 miles and at least 300 miles of range on a full charge, depending on the model. Top performance models will achieve 0 to 60 mph in the mid-three-second range with an estimated 459 horsepower and 612 lb.-ft. of torque. Unlike Tesla's Model 3 or upcoming Model Y, the Mach-E qualifies for federal tax incentives of up to $7,500. It will range from $43,895 for the base "Select" model to roughly $60,500 for the GT model.

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