news

Los Angeles is Finally Ditching Coal -- and Replacing It With Another Polluting Fuel

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 16:05
An anonymous reader shares a report: The smokestack at Intermountain Power Plant looms mightily over rural Utah, belching steam and pollution across a landscape of alfalfa fields and desert shrub near the banks of the Sevier River. Five hundred miles away, Los Angeles is trying to lead the world in fighting climate change. But when Angelenos flip a light switch or charge an electric vehicle, some of the energy may come from Intermountain, where coal is burned in a raging furnace at the foot of the 710-foot smokestack. The coal plant has been L.A.'s single-largest power source for three decades, supplying between one-fifth and one-third of the city's electricity in recent years. It's scheduled to shut down in 2025, ending California's reliance on the dirtiest fossil fuel. But Los Angeles is preparing to build a natural gas-fired power plant at the Intermountain site, even as it works to shut down three gas plants in its own backyard. Although gas burns more cleanly than coal, it still traps heat in the atmosphere. It also leaks from pipelines as methane, a planet-warming pollutant more powerful than carbon dioxide. Critics say Los Angeles and other Southern California cities have no business making an $865-million investment in gas, especially when the state has committed to getting 100% of its electricity from climate-friendly sources such as solar and wind. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has touted his decision to close the three local gas plants as part of his own "Green New Deal" to fight climate change.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Tetris Effect headed to PC next week via Epic Games Store

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

The brilliant Tetris Effect - Eurogamer's Game of 2018 - will arrive on PC next week via the Epic Games Store. It'll be the first time it has been available anywhere other than PlayStation 4.

As on PS4, Tetris Effect is also designed for VR - and it'll arrive with both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive support ready to go.

This PC version will also offer extra graphical options - resolutions 4K and up are supported, with an uncapped framerate, ultra-wide monitor support and more.

Read more

Categories: Video Games

Tropico 6 finally sets console release date

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 15:08

The wait is nearly over for console owning Tropico fans, as Tropico 6 will be released on PS4 and Xbox One on 27th September.

After multiple delays the console release was originally slated for this summer, but players will have to wait just a little bit longer to get their hands on the game, which has been playable on PC since the 29th March.

Xbox players are able to try the game right now in Game Preview, where it has just received a major update to fix bugs and introduce the random map generator.

Read more

Categories: Video Games

How To Escape the 'Hyperactive Hivemind' of Modern Work

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Our workplaces are set up for convenience, not to get the best out of our brains, says Cal Newport, bestselling author of books including Deep Work and Digital Minimalism, and a Georgetown University professor. In knowledge sector jobs, where products are created using human intelligence rather than machines, we must be switched on at all times and prepared to multitask. These are two things that are not compatible with deep, creative, insightful thinking. "In knowledge work, the main resource is the human brain and its ability to produce new information with value," says Newport. "But we are not good at getting a good return." Being switched on at all times and expected to pick things up immediately makes us miserable, says Newport. "It mismatches with the social circuits in our brain. It makes us feel bad that someone is waiting for us to reply to them. It makes us anxious." Because it is so easy to dash off a quick reply on email, Slack or other messaging apps, we feel guilty for not doing so, and there is an expectation that we will do it. This, says Newport, has greatly increased the number of things on people's plates. "The average knowledge worker is responsible for more things than they were before email. This makes us frenetic. We should be thinking about how to remove the things on their plate, not giving people more to do." What might being wired for work at all times lead to? Inevitably, burnout. Newport describes this way of working as a "hyperactive hivemind." Unstructured conversations on messaging apps and meetings dropped into diaries on the fly congest our day. His objective, to give people the space to do their best work without distraction, is the subject of his next book: The World Without Email. Newport's idea is to allow workers to do less work, but better. Cutting out unnecessary chatter is important but only if the organization's culture allows for slower communication. Newport advocates for a more linear approach to workflows. "People need to completely stop one task in order to fully transition their thought processes to the next one," reports the BBC. "However, this is hard when we are constantly seeing emails or being reminded about previous tasks. Some of our thoughts are still on the previous work -- an effect called attention residue." While it is very convenient to have everyone in an ongoing conversation, such as in a Slack thread, Newport says convenience is never the goal in business, it is value. "The assembly line revolutionized car production but it is not a convenient system -- it is the system that produces the most cars quickly."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Super Monkey Ball for Switch, PS4 looks like a remake of the so-so Banana Blitz

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 14:57

UPDATE 5.01pm: Following Famitsu's earlier reveal, Sega has now shared official word on its upcoming Monkey Ball revival.

As previously surmised, the publisher has opted to resurrect its beloved precision platforming series with a remaster of the somewhat less beloved Wii launch title Banana Blitz. The new version is called Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD, and it's coming to Switch, Xbox One, and PS4 on 29th October. A Steam release is due some time during "Winter 2019".

This enhanced version of the 2006 Wii title promises updated graphics and "uniquely optimised control schemes for each platform" across the game's 100 single-player stages.

Read more

Categories: Video Games

PES 2020 has Juventus exclusively - and now FIFA 20 has Piemonte Calcio

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 14:57

Is PES fighting back in the football licensing war? Konami has announced PES 2020 has Italian super club Juventus as an exclusive - but this isn't like the recent deal it signed for Manchester United. PES has a proper exclusive on the club, which means Juventus will not be in FIFA 20.

Konami's deal with the Serie A giant means FIFA - and any other football game for that matter - has to use a generic team name and not Juventus. Player names are not exclusive as this is negotiated through a separate licence (so Cristiano Ronaldo is still in FIFA 20). But Juventus' kits, crest, stadium and, crucially, name are all exclusive to PES 2020.

This is obviously massive for Konami and PES, which has struggled to compete with EA Sports when it comes to football licenses in recent years. As for EA Sports, while it still retains a vice-like grip over the licenses the majority of fans want, it's just suffered a surprising bloody nose from its underdog rival.

Read more

Categories: Video Games

Watch Dogs: Legion fan compositions "completely voluntary", Ubisoft says

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 14:42

Over the past few days, what should have been a positive PR stunt for Watch Dogs: Legion has evolved into a rather messy debate surrounding the exploitation of artists. The controversy began when Joseph Gordon-Levitt announced his company HitRecord would once again partner with Ubisoft on a community collaboration project allowing fans to submit music contributions to Watch Dogs: Legion, with winning compositions being awarded $2000 (£1600) for each song selected for inclusion.

Since then, however, the initiative has received a significant amount of backlash on social media, with the main concern being artists are essentially being asked to contribute "spec" work (submitting examples or complete work without an agreed-upon fee). This means artists run the risk of composing work for the game and receiving no payment for their efforts should their song not be chosen. Ubisoft's previous collaboration with HitRecord for Beyond Good and Evil 2, for instance, had drawn over 11,000 contributions as of November 2018 - but it's unclear exactly how many of these submissions will be used, and whether their artists have yet received any money for their work (via Variety).

Concerns have also been raised about the amount of money awarded to each artist, as the $2000 is split between all contributors for that particular song - meaning individual composers could end up with significantly less than that total figure. It also creates a messy situation regarding rights to the work: as noted by Jeff Ramos for Polygon last year, while artists retain the rights to their own contribution, the collaborative nature of HitRecord means individual composers do not own the rights to the entire piece - and the finished song becomes a unique product HitRecord owns the rights to sell.

Read more

Categories: Video Games

You can now get 30% off a 15-month PS Plus membership

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 14:11

If your subscription is about to lapse and you're looking for a PS Plus deal, then you might be tempted by this offer for 30 per cent off a 15-month PlayStation Plus membership.

As part of Amazon Prime Day, you can get 15 months of PS Plus for £48.99. The discount isn't shown on the page but will be applied when you reach the checkout.

It's also worth pointing out that this is a digital code that only works on UK accounts. It'll arrive in your inbox shortly after you've placed the order instead of needing to wait for a physical card to arrive in the post. All you have to do is enter it into your PSN account and you're ready to go! Then, you can get on Detroit: Become Human right away as part of this month's PS Plus free games.

Read more

Categories: Video Games

Pokémon Go and One Piece crossover to aid earthquake reconstruction

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 12:49

To support the reconstruction effort following the devastating 2016 earthquake in Kumamoto, Japan, Pokémon Go is setting loose One Piece-themed Straw Hat Pikachus for trainers to catch worldwide.

It's not the first time the game has supported the area after an earthquake - back in 2017, Pokémon Go flooded the area with Snorlaxes hoping to entice more trainers to visit and support the site.

This year's event is a collaboration with One Piece creator and manga artist, Eiichiro Oda, a native of Kumamoto, who is also providing art for a special PokéStop in the area: a statue of One Piece character Monkey D. Luffy.

Read more

Categories: Video Games

Machine Learning Has Been Used To Automatically Translate Long-Lost Languages

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 12:00
Jiaming Luo and Regina Barzilay from MIT and Yuan Cao from Google's AI lab in Mountain View, California, have developed a machine-learning system capable of deciphering lost languages, and they've demonstrated it on a script from the Mediterranean island of Crete. The script, Linear B, appeared after 1400 BCE, when the island was conquered by Mycenaeans from the Greek mainland. MIT Technology Review reports: Luo and co put the technique to the test with two lost languages, Linear B and Ugaritic. Linguists know that Linear B encodes an early version of ancient Greek and that Ugaritic, which was discovered in 1929, is an early form of Hebrew. Given that information and the constraints imposed by linguistic evolution, Luo and co's machine is able to translate both languages with remarkable accuracy. "We were able to correctly translate 67.3% of Linear B cognates into their Greek equivalents in the decipherment scenario," they say. "To the best of our knowledge, our experiment is the first attempt of deciphering Linear B automatically." That's impressive work that takes machine translation to a new level. But it also raises the interesting question of other lost languages -- particularly those that have never been deciphered, such as Linear A. In this paper, Linear A is conspicuous by its absence. Luo and co do not even mention it, but it must loom large in their thinking, as it does for all linguists. Yet significant breakthroughs are still needed before this script becomes amenable to machine translation. For example, nobody knows what language Linear A encodes. Attempts to decipher it into ancient Greek have all failed. And without the progenitor language, the new technique does not work.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite's first Community Day this weekend

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 11:56

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the Pokémon Go game for non-Muggles, will hold its first Community Day event this weekend.

The three-hour event will run from 11am to 2pm here in the UK this Saturday, 20th July, and in the US from 11am to 2pm Pacific.

Community Days are of course an invention of Pokémon Go, which is also developed by Niantic. These events are monthly meetups where - if you play - you can find something special for your collection and enjoy various in-game bonuses.

Read more

Categories: Video Games

Lucah: Born of a Dream review - an underworld memoir that's as brutal as Bayonetta

Eurogamer - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 09:00

Content warning: This review and the game include mention of suicide.

Playing Lucah is like being swept along by a great dark river. While broadly a hack-and-slash game, it is always dragging you beyond such labels and into something more lively, tormented and fluid. There may be solid ground beneath your feet but the world appears unfinished, transient, its linework writhing and shivering against a pure black plane, as though unhappy in its own skin. You wander for a while amid the stark eruptions of trees and scribbles of barbed wire, searching for a door key or a checkpoint. You fight a few bladed, cloudy apparitions, tearing their guts out with serrated words of power. And then you find something - a person, a precipice, a peculiar tangle of light - and the water closes overhead. Solidity blinks out, and you are tossed on the flow with a host of memories, bursting open before you in bald white type.

Letters have different sounds. Sometimes, they squeak like fingers on glass. Sometimes, they clatter like gunshots. Between passages you'll catch glimpses of seabirds, dead suns and screaming faces, after-images snatched from the dark like mouthfuls of air. These memories, written in first or second-person, are only loosely tethered to characters and don't fit neatly into a plot; all have some basis in the Roman Catholic upbringing and emotional travails of the game's creator, Colin Horgan.

Read more

Categories: Video Games

Scientists Could Use Aerogel Sheets To Make Mars Surface Fit For Farming

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 09:00
Scientists believe aerogel sheets could transform the cold, arid surface of Mars into land fit for farming. The Guardian reports: The "aerogel" sheets work by mimicking Earth's greenhouse effect, where energy from the sun is trapped on the planet by carbon dioxide and other gases. Spread out in the right places on Mars, the sheets would warm the ground and melt enough subsurface ice to keep plants alive. Should humans ever decide to spread beyond Earth, as the late Stephen Hawking declared we must, then growing food on alien worlds will be a skill that has to be mastered. But on Mars the conditions are hardly conducive. The planet is frigid and dry and bombarded by radiation, the soil contains potentially toxic chemicals and the wispy atmosphere is low on nitrogen. The aerogel sheets do not solve all of the problems but they could help future spacefarers create fertile oases on desolate planets where plants and other photosynthesizing organisms can take root. Because life would only grow beneath the sheets, the risk of contaminating the rest of Mars with foreign lifeforms would be minimal. The aerogel used to make the sheets is composed 97% of air, with the rest made up of a light silica network. The researchers, including scientists at Nasa and the University of Edinburgh, showed that 2cm- to 3cm-thick sheets of silica aerogel blocked harmful UV rays, allowed visible light through for photosynthesis and trapped enough heat to melt frozen water locked in Martian soil. The sheets could be laid directly on the ground to grow algae and aquatic plants, or suspended to provide room for land plants to grow beneath them. The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Elon Musk's Neuralink Will Detail Progress in Computer-Brain Interface

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 07:00
Neuralink, Elon Musk's fourth and least visible company, will become a bit less secretive Tuesday with a livestreamed presentation about its technology to connect computers directly to human brains. From a report: Neuralink accepted applications from some folks to attend the San Francisco event to hear "a bit about what we've been working on the last two years," but the rest of us can tune in online at 8 p.m. PT Tuesday. "Livestream details will be available on our website shortly before event start," Neuralink tweeted Sunday. Neuralink, founded in 2016, is working on a way to let human brains communicate directly with computers. Goals include fast transfer rates and quick responses, but just establishing a connection and figuring out how to exchange useful information presents immense challenges. One possible approach involves an array of flexible probes inserted into the brain with a system resembling a sewing machine, an idea described by researchers reportedly associated with Neuralink. That's a lot cruder than the organically grown nanotechnological neural laces you'll find inside the brains of sci-fi characters, but it's remarkable that the technology is even under discussion.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Social Media, But Not Video Games, Linked To Depression In Teens, Says Study

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBC.ca: Screen time -- and social media in particular -- is linked to an increase in depressive symptoms in teenagers, according to a new study by researchers at Montreal's Sainte-Justine Hospital. The researchers studied the behavior of over 3,800 young people from 2012 until 2018. They recruited adolescents from 31 Montreal schools and followed their behavior from Grade 7 until Grade 11. The teenagers self-reported the number of hours per week that they consumed social media (such as Facebook and Instagram), video games and television. Conrod and her team found an increase in depressive symptoms when the adolescents were consuming social media and television. The study was published on Monday in JAMA Pedatrics, a journal published by the American Medical Association. The researchers "found that the increased symptoms of depression are linked to being active on platforms such as Instagram, where teens are more likely to compare their lives to glitzy images in their feeds," the report says. "They also tested to see if the additional screen time was taking away from other activities that might decrease depressive symptoms, such as exercise, but found that was not the case." Surprisingly, time spent playing video games was found to not be contributing to depressive symptoms. "The study suggests the average gamer is not socially isolated, with more than 70 percent of gamers playing with other people either online or in person," CBC.ca reports.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Jet-Powered Flyboard Soars Over Paris For Bastille Day Parade

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 04:03
New submitter HansiMeier33 shares a report from The Guardian: France's annual Bastille Day parade showcased European military cooperation and innovation on Sunday, complete with a French inventor hovering above Paris on a jet-powered flyboard. The former jetskiing champion and military reservist Franky Zapata clutched a rifle as he soared above the Champs-Elysees on his futuristic machine, which the French military helped to develop. The board, which was first created to fly above water, can reach speeds of up to 190km/h and can run for 10 minutes. The French armed forces minister, Florence Parly, said before the parade that the flyboard could "allow tests for different kinds of uses, for example as a flying logistical platform or, indeed, as an assault platform."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Broadcom and Symantec End Buyout Talks

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 03:45
phalse phace writes: Earlier this month, there was a report that Broadcom was in advance talks with Symantec about a possible buyout. It's being reported that those talks have now ended. "Symantec and Broadcom have ceased deal negotiations, sources tell CNBC's David Faber," reports CNBC. "The people familiar with the matter added that Symantec would not accept less than $28 a share. People familiar with the matter added that Broadcom indicated in early conversations that it would be willing to pay $28.25 per share for Symantec, but that following due diligence knocked that figure down below $28."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Colleges Graduate 10,000 This Year With Masters In Data Science Degrees

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 03:25
dcblogs writes: The Master of Science in Analytics was created in North Carolina State University in 2006. Today, there are about 280 colleges and universities that offer a similar graduate degree and in total, they will produce about 10,000 analytics master graduates in 2019. "The demand is there, but the supply [of data scientists] is catching up quickly," said Michael Rappa, who founded the Institute for Advanced Analytics at North Carolina State University. Graduates of these programs are typically called data scientists, a relatively new term that's often cited as one of the most in-demand occupations in the U.S. These programs aren't completely unique. Graduates with degrees in statistics, for instance, were forerunners of the shift to analytics. Despite the increase in graduates, the entry level salaries remain strong, typically beginning at $80K plus. Amazon recently cited data scientists as a second fastest internal growing occupations.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Ajit Pai's New Gift To Cable Companies Would Kill Local Fees and Rules

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 02:45
Ajit Pai is proposing a plan that would stop cities and towns from using their authority over cable TV networks to regulate internet access. His proposal, which is scheduled for a vote on August 1st, "would also limit the fees that municipalities can charge cable companies," reports Ars Technica. "Cable industry lobbyists have urged the FCC to stop cities and towns from assessing fees on the revenue cable companies make from broadband." From the report: If approved, Pai's proposal would "Prohibit LFAs [local franchising authorities] from using their video franchising authority to regulate most non-cable services, including broadband Internet service, offered over cable systems by incumbent cable operators." Pai's proposal complains that "some states and localities are purporting to assert authority" to collect fees and impose requirements that aren't explicitly allowed by Title VI, the cable-regulation section that Congress added to communications law with the Cable Act of 1984. Despite the Oregon Supreme Court ruling against Comcast, Pai's plan says "the majority of courts... have interpreted section 622(b) to prohibit states and localities from charging fees that exceed those expressly permitted by Title VI." Section 622 prevents local authorities from collecting more than 5 percent of a cable operator's gross revenue in any 12-month period. Pai's proposal also declares that "in-kind" contributions required by local franchising authorities must count toward that 5 percent cap, "with limited exceptions, including an exemption for certain capital costs related to public, educational, and governmental access (PEG) channels." But does the FCC have the power to preempt these local fees and requirements? "Having classified broadband as an information service (as part of its repeal of net neutrality rules), the Commission has determined that it is an unregulated service that it lacks regulatory authority over," consumer-advocacy group Public Knowledge wrote in a November 2018 filing that urged the FCC to drop the plan. The FCC cannot regulate or preempt local regulation of "any service that does not fall within its Title II jurisdiction over common carrier services or its Title I jurisdiction over matters 'incidental' to communication by wire," the group said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Scotland Produced Enough Wind Energy To Power All Its Homes Twice Over

Slashdot - Tue, 16/07/2019 - 02:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Wind turbines in Scotland generated 9,831,320 megawatt hours between January and June 2019, WWF Scotland said Monday. The numbers, which were supplied by WeatherEnergy, mean that Scottish wind generated enough electricity to power the equivalent of 4.47 million homes for six months. That is almost double the number of homes in Scotland, according to WWF Scotland. By 2030, the Scottish government says it wants to produce half of the country's energy consumption from renewables. It is also targeting an "almost completely" decarbonized energy system by 2050. "Up and down the country, we are all benefiting from cleaner energy and so is the climate," Robin Parker, climate and energy policy manager at WWF Scotland, said in a statement Monday. "These figures show harnessing Scotland's plentiful onshore wind potential can provide clean, green electricity for millions of homes across not only Scotland, but England as well," Parker added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff
Syndicate content