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Cause of SpaceX Crew Dragon Explosion Revealed

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 00:40
On April 20, a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, designed to take humans to the ISS, exploded during a routine test fire at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The cause has now been identified as a leaky valve in a propellant pressurization system. Thelasko shares a report from CBS News: Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of build and reliability said: "We believe that we had a liquid slug of the (NTO) in the pressurization system. When we opened the valves and pressurized the propellant system, we think that this slug was driven back into the check valve. That basically destroyed the check valve and caused an explosion." He said no one expected that "NTO driven into a titanium component would cause such a violent reaction. We then performed tests ... with the help of NASA, and we found out when the pressure is high, the temperature is high and you drive a slug with a lot of energy into a titanium component that you can have these rather violent reactions." Additional work is needed to rule out other less likely culprits but SpaceX is pressing ahead with plans to replace the valves in question with pressure-activated "burst discs" that have no moving parts and cannot leak.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Resident Evil 5 and 6 get an October release date on Switch

Eurogamer - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 00:14

Earlier this year, Capcom launched Resident Evil, Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil 4 onto Switch, eliciting cries of horror across the land (albeit mostly over the extortionate price tags). And now, the publisher has announced that its previously revealed ports of Resident Evil 5 and 6 will be heading to Nintendo's console on 29th October.

Neither entries are, of course, considered high-points for the long-running survival horror series; Resident Evil 5, which had the unenviable task of trying to improve on Shinji Mikami's stone-cold classic predecessor, transplanted the rejuvenated survival horror formula to sunnier climes when it arrived on Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2009, ramping up the action in place of puzzles and exploration, and slinging in co-operative play.

The end result lacked the masterful pace and oppressive tension of Mikami's game, but still managed to deliver some decent entertainment when experienced with a friend. 
Eurogamer called Resident Evil 5, "a very enjoyable and polished effort, blessed with considerate checkpointing, well-balanced enemies, sensible ammo-placement and the removal of the needless backtracking" in its review, while warning that it "only truly comes into its own with a friend", hamstrung as it was by some woeful partner AI.

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Categories: Video Games

FCC Gives ISPs Another $563 Million To Build Rural-Broadband Networks

Slashdot - Wed, 17/07/2019 - 00:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: More than 220,000 unserved rural homes and businesses in 24 states will get broadband access because of funding authorized yesterday by the Federal Communications Commission, the agency said. In all, the FCC authorized more than $563 million for distribution to ISPs over the next decade. It's the latest payout from the commission's Connect America Fund, which was created in 2011. Under program rules, ISPs that receive funding must build out to 40 percent of the required homes and businesses within three years and an additional 20 percent each year until completing the buildout at the end of the sixth year. The money is being distributed primarily to smaller ISPs in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Verizon, which is getting $18.5 million to serve 7,767 homes and businesses in New York, is the biggest home Internet provider on the list. All the ISPs committed to provide speeds of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream, but many of the funded projects are for higher speeds of 100Mbps/20Mbps or 1Gbps/500Mbps. Speeds promised by each ISP are detailed in the two announcements.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Wall Street Finds Blockchain Hard To Tame After Early Euphoria

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 23:25
Two years ago Nasdaq and Citigroup announced a new blockchain system they said would make payments of private securities transactions more efficient. Nasdaq Chief Executive Adena Friedman called it "a milestone in the global financial sector." But the companies did not move forward with the project, Reuters reported Tuesday, because while it worked in testing, the cost to fully adopt it outweighed the benefits. From a report: Blockchain, the person added, "is a shiny mirage" and its wide-scale adoption may still "take a while." In a joint statement, the companies said the pilot was successful and they were "happy to partner" on other initiatives. Both companies are also working on other projects. Companies, including banks, large retailers and technology vendors, are investing billions of dollars to find uses for blockchain, a digital ledger used by cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Just last month, Facebook revealed plans for a virtual currency and a blockchain-based payment system. But a review of 33 projects involving large companies announced over the past four years and interviews with more than a dozen executives involved with them show the technology has yet to deliver on its promise.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

A proactive approach to more secure code

Microsoft Security Response Blog - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 22:49
What if we could eliminate an entire class of vulnerabilities before they ever happened? Since 2004, the Microsoft Security Response Centre (MSRC) has triaged every reported Microsoft security vulnerability. From all that triage one astonishing fact sticks out: as Matt Miller discussed in his 2019 presentation at BlueHat IL, the majority of vulnerabilities fixed and …

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Categories: IT

Western Tech Brands Are Recognized in China, But Their Products Are Rarely Used

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 22:45
Despite having insignificant market shares and being marginal players in mainland China, western tech giants have a very high brand awareness among Chinese consumers, a market survey published last week revealed. From a report: The survey, which factored in answers from more than 2,000 respondents, showed that for the most part, top western tech companies have established themselves in the consciousness of the Chinese public. The survey, carried out by market research firm Statista, found that Apple had a 91% brand awareness among Chinese users, one percent behind the brand awareness leaders -- local tech firms Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent. However, less than half (48%) of the respondents said they used Apple products, while daily usage for the three top Chinese firms was 74%, 82%, and 82%, respectively. Similar stats were also recorded for four other western tech giants, with consumers being aware of their business, but rarely using their products -- Google (87% brand awareness, 45% consumer usage), Microsoft (86% and 62%), Amazon (82% and 32%), and Facebook (66% and 17%).

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Ubisoft confirms full launch day line-up for its Uplay+ PC subscription service

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 22:34

Back in June, amid the hubbub of E3, Ubisoft announced that it was preparing to launch its own PC games subscription offering, Uplay+. At the time, a library of more than 100 titles was promised for launch, and the publisher has now confirmed the full list of games that will be available when the service arrives on 3rd September.

A Uplay+ subscription costs €14.99/$14.99 USD a month (an official UK price is yet to be confirmed) and provides access to Uplay's full PC games library, which, as you'd expect, includes all of Ubisoft's blockbuster franchises - so the likes of Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs, and Far Cry are, unsurprisingly, accounted for - plus all of the publisher's upcoming titles, including Gods & Monsters and Watch Dogs Legion.

There's ample representation of classic series from Ubisoft's enormous back catalogue too - Rayman, Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, and The Settlers get a good airing, for instance - alongside the Steeps, Starlinks, and The Crews of this world.

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Categories: Video Games

Microsoft Word Hits 1 Billion Installs on Google Play

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 22:05
Microsoft Word reached over 1 billion installations on Android over the weekend. Microsoft's flagship document editor is arguably Microsoft's greatest success story on Android. With over 1 billion downloads, Microsoft Word is one of the most used productivity apps on the platform. From a report: Microsoft has continued to push Office on Android along with other apps like Your Phone, Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Teams. The shift has helped Microsoft stay relevant in the mobile space despite the death of Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft has similar efforts on iOS in an effort to have its services available to as many users as possible. Some around the web have pointed out that Microsoft Office comes preinstalled on many Android phones in an effort to discount Word's milestone of 1 billion installations. While it is true that Microsoft's Office applications come preinstalled on many devices, the fact that Word recently hit 1 billion installations and other Office apps like Excel have "only" hit 500 million shows that quite a few users have downloaded Word from the Google Play Store.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Swiss Group That's Supposed To Oversee Privacy For Libra Says It Hasn't Heard From Facebook At All

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 21:25
Facebook said on Tuesday that authorities in Switzerland will oversee data and privacy protections of its new cryptocurrency Libra. But the Swiss regulator has yet to be contacted by Facebook, according to a spokesperson. From a report: In his testimony in front of the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday, David Marcus, the head of Facebook's digital currency project Libra, said, "For the purposes of data and privacy protections, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) will be the Libra Association's privacy regulator." Asked about the agency's role regulating Libra, Hugo Wyler, head of communication at the FDPIC, said in a statement to CNBC: "We have taken note of the statements made by David Marcus, Chief of Calibra, on our potential role as data protection supervisory authority in the Libra context. Until today we have not been contacted by the promoters of Libra," Wyler said. "We expect Facebook or its promoters to provide us with concrete information when the time comes. Only then will we be able to examine the extent to which our legal advisory and supervisory competence is given. In any case, we are following the development of the project in the public debate."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

House Orders Pentagon To Say if it Weaponized Ticks and Released Them

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 20:45
The House quietly voted last week to require the Pentagon inspector general to tell Congress whether the department experimented with weaponizing disease-carrying insects and whether they were released into the public realm -- either accidentally or on purpose. From a report: The unusual proposal took the form of an amendment that was adopted by voice vote July 11 during House debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which lawmakers passed the following day. The amendment, by New Jersey Republican Christopher H. Smith, says the inspector general "shall conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975." If the answer is yes, then the IG must provide the House and Senate Armed Services committees with a report on the experiments' scope and "whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Metal Gear Solid V, Killer Instinct join July's Xbox One and PC Game Pass line-up

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 20:07

Microsoft has announced a fresh batch of titles coming to its Xbox Game Pass subscription service this month, on both Xbox One and PC, including the likes of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition.

Working in chronological order, 17th July sees the arrival of intriguing "non-linear, narrative-driven noire investigation" mystery Night Call on PC. A day later, on 18th July, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain comes to Xbox Game Pass on Xbox One, and The Banner Saga 3 - the final entry in Stoic Games' critically acclaimed Viking series - arrives for Xbox One and PC.

Rounding off the month, on 25th July, are Shinji Mikami's survival horror classic Resident Evil 4 (Xbox One), superb tabletop RPG rogue-like For The King (PC), and Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition - which includes all 26 characters from Seasons 1-3 - for both Xbox One and PC.

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Categories: Video Games

What Caused the 2019 New York Blackout? Infrastructure.

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 20:04
On Saturday night in New York City a power outage struck Midtown Manhattan, hitting Hell's Kitchen north to Lincoln Center and from Fifth Avenue west to the Hudson River. The blackout darkened the huge, electric billboards of Times Square, forced Broadway shows to cancel performances, and even disabled some subway lines. But what caused it? From a report: According to reports, the outage was caused by a transformer fire within the affected region. Power was fully restored by early the following morning. [...] Saturday's blackout was most likely caused by a disabled transformer at an area substation. There are at least 50 of those in New York City, which are fed in turn by at least 24, higher-voltage transmission substations. When it comes to power, New York is unusual because of the city's age and the density of its population, both residential and commercial. That produces different risks and consequences. In Atlanta, where I live, storms often down trees, which take out aboveground power lines. In the West, where wildfires are becoming more common, flames frequently dismantle power infrastructure (sometimes the power lines themselves cause the fires). But across the whole of New York City -- not just Manhattan -- more than 80 percent of both customers and the electrical load are serviced by underground distribution from area substations. That makes smaller problems less frequent, but bigger issues more severe. When a transformer goes down in a populous place like Manhattan, it has a greater impact than it would on Long Island, say, or in Westchester County, where density is lower. The amount of power that central Manhattan uses on a regular basis also contributes to that impact. Times Square, the theater district, hundreds of skyscrapers -- it's a substantial load. In New York's case, supplying that load is not usually the problem. Generating facilities can be located near or far away from where their power is used, and New York City draws power from a couple dozen plants. Some of it is imported from upstate. But much of New York's power is still generated locally, in large part at plants along the waterfront of Queens. Those plants are older, and more susceptible to disruption from local calamities, especially severe weather. When peak demand surges -- most common during heat waves, such as the ones that struck the region in 2006 and 2011 -- the older, less efficient generating stations have a harder time keeping up, and brownouts or blackouts become more likely. [...] But new risks associated with climate change, cyberwarfare, and other factors haven't necessarily been accounted for in the design and operation of utility infrastructure. The perils build on one another. Climate change amplifies the frequency of heat waves, which increases electrical load, which puts greater pressure on infrastructure. At the same time, it increases the likelihood of superstorms that can cause flooding, fire, and other disasters that might disrupt nodes in the network. When utility operators designed their equipment years or decades ago, they made assumptions about load, storm surge, and other factors. Those estimates might no longer apply.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

More States Are Hiding 911 Recordings From Families, Lawyers and the General Public

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 19:25
Rhode Island is one of about a dozen states that prohibit the release of 911 recordings or transcripts without the written consent of the caller or by court order. The goal generally is to protect the privacy of callers in what may be one of the most stressful moments of their lives. From a report: But Rhode Island's restrictive law also keeps families in the dark about how the state's 911 system has responded to calls involving their loved ones, and it has left the public oblivious to troubling gaps in how the system is performing, according to an investigation by The Public's Radio and ProPublica. In March, the news organizations reported on the 2018 death of a 6-month-old baby in Warwick after a Rhode Island 911 call taker failed to give CPR instructions to the family. The lapse came to light after a family member who took part in the 911 call requested a copy of the recording. In June, the news organizations reported on the death of Rena Fleury, a 45-year-old woman who collapsed while watching her son's high school football game in Cumberland last year. Four unidentified bystanders called 911. But none of the 911 call takers recognized that Fleury was in cardiac arrest. And none of them instructed the callers to perform CPR. The 911 recordings for Fleury were never made public. An emergency physician who treated Fleury testified about what happened during a state House committee hearing in March. Across the country, recordings of 911 calls for accidents, medical emergencies, mass shootings and natural disasters have provided insight into the workings of public safety systems and, in some cases, revealed critical failings.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Save up to 33% on Seagate external hard drives for your PS4 and Xbox One

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 19:00

Regularly considered one of the best external hard drives for PS4 or Xbox One, a range of Seagate HDDs and SSDs are now available for up to 33% off.

By this time in your console's life cycle you're probably running out of space to install and update everything so an external hard drive can be a very sensible purchase.

Of those currently reduced, our top pick in terms of value for money would be this Seagate 2 TB Expansion Portable External Hard Drive for only £49.99. That's a comfortable amount of free space that will ensure you won't need to fiddle around with data management for some time.

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Categories: Video Games

Sprint Says Hackers Breached Customer Accounts Via Samsung Website

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 18:45
US mobile network operator Sprint said hackers broke into an unknown number of customer accounts via the Samsung.com "add a line" website. From a report: "On June 22, Sprint was informed of unauthorized access to your Sprint account using your account credentials via the Samsung.com 'add a line' website," Sprint said in a letter it is sending impacted customers. "The personal information of yours that may have been viewed includes the following: phone number, device type, device ID, monthly recurring charges, subscriber ID, account number, account creation date, upgrade eligibility, first and last name, billing address and add-on services," the US telco said. Sprint said the information hackers had access to did not pose "a substantial risk of fraud or identity theft," although, many might disagree with its assessment. The company said it re-secured all compromised accounts by resetting PIN codes, three days later, on June 25.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Permission-Greedy Apps Delayed Android 6 Upgrade So They Could Harvest More User Data

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 18:05
Android app developers intentionally delayed updating their applications to work on top of Android 6.0, so they could continue to have access to an older permission-requesting mechanism that granted them easy access to large quantities of user data, research published by the University of Maryland last month has revealed. From a report: The central focus of this research was the release of Android (Marshmallow) 6.0 in October 2015. The main innovation added in Android 6.0 was the ability for users to approve app permissions on a per-permission basis, selecting which permissions they wanted to allow an app to have. [...] In research published in June, two University of Maryland academics say they conducted tests between April 2016 and March 2018 to see how many apps initially coded to work on older Android SDKs were updated to work on the newer Android 6.0 SDK. The research duo says they installed 13,599 of the most popular Android apps on test devices. Each month, the research team would update the apps and scan the apps' code to see if they were updated for the newer Android 6.0 release. "We find that an app's likelihood of delaying upgrade to the latest platform version increases with an increase in the ratio of dangerous permissions sought by the apps, indicating that apps prefer to retain control over access to the users' private information," said Raveesh K. Mayya and Siva Viswanathan, the two academics behind the research.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Netflix's latest The Witcher star reveal is Roach, the horse

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 17:29

The Netflix gods heard your cries and are giving the people what they want - a first look at Roach in upcoming The Witcher series.

Unsurprisingly, they've cast a horse that looks like Roach from the game to play Roach in the series. However, there might be a bit more to this teaser image than meets the eye.

Executive producer of the upcoming show, Lauren S. Hissrich, tweeted out the image of Geralt sat on Roach with a follow up, telling users: "Squint and you'll see something else in this picture."

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Categories: Video Games

Amazon Offers $10 To Prime Day Shoppers Who Hand Over Their Data

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 17:26
Amazon.com has a promotion for U.S. shoppers on Prime Day, the 48-hour marketing blitz that started Monday: Earn $10 of credit if you let Amazon track the websites you visit. From a report: The deal is for new installations of the Amazon Assistant, a comparison-shopping tool that customers can add to their web browsers. It fetches Amazon's price for products that users see on Walmart.com, Target.com and elsewhere. In order to work, the assistant needs access to users' web activity, including the links and some page content they view. The catch, as Amazon explains in the fine print, is the company can use this data to improve its general marketing, products and services, unrelated to the shopping assistant. The terms underscore the power consumers routinely give to Amazon and other big technology companies when using their free services. In this case, Amazon gains potential insight into how it should tailor marketing and how it could stamp out the retail competition.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Amazon in EU Crosshairs as Vestager Fights Big Tech To the End

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 16:45
Amazon.com faces a full-blown European Union antitrust probe as the bloc's competition chief Margrethe Vestager prepares for a summer finale to her five-year crackdown on U.S. technology giants. From a report: The Dane, who heads the EU's competition division, is poised to open a formal investigation into Amazon within days, according to two people familiar with the case, who asked not to be named because the process isn't public. Vestager has hinted for months that she wanted to escalate a preliminary inquiry into how Amazon may be unfairly using sales data to undercut smaller shops on its Marketplace platform. By ramping up the probe, officials can start to build a case that could ultimately lead to fines or an order to change the way the Seattle-based company operates.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Reigns is being turned into a tabletop game

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 16:11

Reigns, the medieval monarch simulator controlled like Tinder, is being turned into a tabletop game.

Rechristened as Reigns: The Council, this version will launch in the "imminent" future and transform the fast-paced ruling simulator into an asymmetric party game for three to six players.

Just as in the original Reigns, one player will act as monarch and decide which suggestions from their council they will support - and which ones they will turn down.

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Categories: Video Games
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