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Square Enix's J-RPG follow-up Bravely Default 2 now has a demo on Switch

Eurogamer - Fri, 27/03/2020 - 00:10

Ahead of Bravely Default 2's full release later this year, Switch owners can now get a taste of Square Enix's highly-anticipated J-RPG sequel via a new demo on Nintendo's eShop.

Bravely Default 2 was finally unveiled during last year's Game Awards after some concerted teasing, and is the follow-up to 3DS titles Bravely Default and Bravely Second: End Layer, charting the adventures of a new band of heroes in a new world.

Today's surprise Nintendo Direct shed a little more light on what those adventures might entail, with proceedings unfolding on the continent of Excillant, divided into five mighty kingdoms. According to Square, the story begins when Seth, a young sailor, washes onto the shores of one of these regions, eventually joining forces with Gloria, a princess forced to flee her own kingdom, travelling scholar Elvis, and the mercenary Adelle.

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Categories: Video Games

The US Now Leads the World In Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

Slashdot - Fri, 27/03/2020 - 00:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Scientists warned that the United States someday would become the country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. That moment arrived on Thursday. In the United States, at least 81,321 people are known to have been infected with the coronavirus, including more than 1,000 deaths -- more cases than China, Italy or any other country has seen, according to data gathered by The New York Times. With 330 million residents, the United States is the world's third most populous nation, meaning it provides a vast pool of people who can potentially get Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. And it is a sprawling, cacophonous democracy, where states set their own policies and President Trump has sent mixed messages about the scale of the danger and how to fight it, ensuring there was no coherent, unified response to a grave public health threat. A series of missteps and lost opportunities dogged the nation's response. Among them: a failure to take the pandemic seriously even as it engulfed China, a deeply flawed effort to provide broad testing for the virus that left the country blind to the extent of the crisis, and a dire shortage of masks and protective gear to protect doctors and nurses on the front lines, as well as ventilators to keep the critically ill alive. "The world will be a different place when the pandemic is over," the report concludes. It suggests India may become the next global hotspot for virus cases as "it, too, is a vast democracy with deep internal divisions. But its population, 1.3 billion, is far larger, and its people are crowded even more tightly into megacities."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

AI Versus the Coronavirus

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 23:26
A new consortium of top scientists will be able to use some of the world's most advanced supercomputers to look for solutions. From a report: Advanced computers have defeated chess masters and learned how to pick through mountains of data to recognize faces and voices. Now, a billionaire developer of software and artificial intelligence is teaming up with top universities and companies to see if A.I. can help curb the current and future pandemics. Thomas M. Siebel, founder and chief executive of C3.ai, an artificial intelligence company in Redwood City, Calif., said the public-private consortium would spend $367 million in its initial five years, aiming its first awards at finding ways to slow the new coronavirus that is sweeping the globe. "I cannot imagine a more important use of A.I.," Mr. Siebel said in an interview. Known as the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute, the new research consortium includes commitments from Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California, the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago, as well as C3.ai and Microsoft. It seeks to put top scientists onto gargantuan social problems with the help of A.I. -- its first challenge being the pandemic. The new institute will seek new ways of slowing the pathogen's spread, speeding the development of medical treatments, designing and repurposing drugs, planning clinical trials, predicting the disease's evolution, judging the value of interventions, improving public health strategies and finding better ways in the future to fight infectious outbreaks.

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'League' of Cybersecurity Professionals Band Together To Help Hospitals

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 22:46
pgmrdlm writes: A growing group of cybersecurity professionals is volunteering their expertise to help hospitals fight off hackers while doctors and nurses fight the coronavirus. Calling themselves the CTI League -- Countering Threat Intelligence, and a nod to the superhero team the Justice League -- the group has swelled from a handful of professionals to 450 members worldwide in less than two weeks. "If some hospital gets attacked by some ransomware and wouldn't be able to pay, people will die because they wouldn't be able to get the medical services needed," said the group's founder, Ohad Zaidenberg.

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Worldwide Coronavirus Cases Surpass Half a Million

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 22:22
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 510,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and more than 22,000 people have died from the new coronavirus. While China still has the most confirmed cases, the United States and Italy are close behind. CBS News reports: In the United States, more than 1,000 people have died and more than 75,000 people have been infected. An unprecedented number of Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week as the virus shuttered businesses and normal life across large swaths of the country came to a halt. Roughly 3.3 million people filed a claim for jobless aid in the week ending March 21 -- a nearly fivefold increase over the previous weekly record set in 1982. The Senate has passed an unprecedented $2 trillion relief package to help workers, businesses and the severely strained health care system survive the pandemic. UPDATE: The United States now leads the world with confirmed coronavirus cases. "[A]t least 81,321 people are known to have been infected with the coronavirus, including more than 1,000 deaths -- more cases than China, Italy or any other country has seen," reports The New York Times.

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Zoom iOS App Sends Data to Facebook Even if You Don't Have a Facebook Account

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 22:05
As people work and socialize from home, video conferencing software Zoom has exploded in popularity. What the company and its privacy policy don't make clear is that the iOS version of the Zoom app is sending some analytics data to Facebook, even if Zoom users don't have a Facebook account, according to a Motherboard analysis of the app. From the report: This sort of data transfer is not uncommon, especially for Facebook; plenty of apps use Facebook's software development kits (SDK) as a means to implement features into their apps more easily, which also has the effect of sending information to Facebook. But Zoom users may not be aware it is happening, nor understand that when they use one product, they may be providing data to another service altogether. "That's shocking. There is nothing in the privacy policy that addresses that," Pat Walshe, an activist from Privacy Matters who has analyzed Zoom's privacy policy, said in a Twitter direct message. Upon downloading and opening the app, Zoom connects to Facebook's Graph API, according to Motherboard's analysis of the app's network activity. The Graph API is the main way developers get data in or out of Facebook.

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Elite Dangerous' long-delayed Fleet Carriers finally due in June, PC beta starts next month

Eurogamer - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 21:27

Elite Dangerous' long-awaited 16-person Fleet Carriers, which have seen plentiful delays since their unveiling back in 2017, are finally almost ready to launch and will be entering a period of beta testing for PC players later this month.

Fleet Carriers - which were initially set to arrive as part of 2018's Beyond update before they were "reprioritised" by developer Frontier - are capital ships designed to act as a base of operations for large, organised Squadrons

Described as "mobile starships and trading hubs capable of transporting multiple allies", Fleet Carriers have a jump range of 500 light years and feature 16 landing pads to accommodate a full complement of players. They can be owned and piloted single Commander, but don't come cheap, setting players back an eye-watering 5,000,000,000 credits.

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Categories: Video Games

Google To Resume Chrome Updates it Paused Last Week Due To COVID-19

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 21:25
An anonymous reader shares a report: Google paused Chrome updates last week when it canceled the Chrome 81 release in order to avoid causing severe disruptions to web developers, system administrators, and its own engineers, most working from home or having resources strained due to ever-worsening coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In a blog post on the Chrome blog today, Google said it is now ready to resume work on Chrome. The company said that starting next week, the current Chrome 80 release will start receiving security updates once again. Chrome v81, initially scheduled to be released on March 17, was rescheduled for April 7, at which time, web developers and system administrators would have had the time to adapt to their new working conditions.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

How To Talk To Coronavirus Skeptics

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 20:45
Isaac Chotiner of The New Yorker interviews Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard who has focussed much of her career on examining distrust of science in the U.S.: Chotiner: This idea that we reject science because it clashes with our beliefs or experience -- how does that explain why people in Miami, whose homes are going to be flooded, reject global-warming science? Is it partisanship? Oreskes: The phrase I used was implicatory denial. What we found in "Merchants of Doubt" was that the original merchants of doubt, the people who started the whole thing, way back in the late nineteen-eighties, didn't want to accept the implication that capitalism, as we know it, had failed -- that climate change was a huge market failure and that there was a need for some kind of significant government intervention in the marketplace to address it. So, rather than accept that implication, they questioned the science. Now these things get complicated. People are complicated. One of the things that's happened with climate change over the last thirty years is that, because climate-change denial got picked up by the Republican Party as a political platform, it became polarized according to partisan politics, which is different than, say, vaccination rejection. And so then it became a talking point for Republicans, and then it became tribal. So now you have this deeply polarized situation in the United States where your views on climate change align very, very strongly with your party affiliation. And now we see a cognitive dissonance. Let's say you live in Florida, and you're now seeing flooding on a rather regular basis. This is completely consistent with the scientific evidence, but you don't accept it as proof of the science. You say, "Oh, well, we've always had flooding, or maybe it's a natural variable." You come up with excuses not to accept the thing that you don't want to accept.

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Crypto Margin Trading Challenged By US Derivatives Regulator

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 20:05
The main U.S. derivatives regulator is taking a significant step in defining the sometimes blurry line between cryptocurrency futures and trading in the spot market. From a report: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission this week laid out its view on what it means to take "actual delivery" of a digital asset. The long-awaited guidance is significant because it means that there could be penalties for trades that don't let the buyer take physical possession and control of a coin within 28 days -- the cut off line for when trades in commodities like wheat and oil start to be considered futures contracts. Long-existing rules requiring traders and exchanges to be able to deliver physical commodities unless they're futures trading on a CFTC-regulated exchange has sowed some confusion for Bitcoin, Ether and other digital assets because they exist only in cyberspace. The issue has been further complicated by trading platforms allowing investors to leverage their bets multiple times using margin, or borrowed money.

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World War Z gets cross-play on Xbox One and PC, is free on the Epic Store

Eurogamer - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 19:49

Developer Saber Interactive's enormously popular co-op zombie shooter World War Z now supports cross-platform play between Xbox One and PC, and, to celebrate the occasion, it's free on the Epic Games Store and heavily discounted on Xbox One.

Cross-play, which was initially anticipated to arrive at the end of last year as part of World War Z's second season of free post-launch updates, will enable players using official servers on PC and Xbox One to join forces and tackle PvE missions, as well as its wave-based Horde Mode Z. Saber says that PS4 cross-play support will come "at some point in the future".

That's the big headline feature of today's World War Z update, but there's a little more besides. As outlined in the latest patch notes, there's a new mission objective, requiring players to loot and transport a Virus Sample (which will imbue an increasing number of negative effects on players the longer they hold it) to the end of a stage.

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Categories: Video Games

Airbnb To Provide Free or Subsidized Housing For 100,000 COVID-19 Healthcare Workers

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 19:25
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect people all over the globe, Airbnb is stepping up with a plan to offer free or subsidized housing to people working on the disease's front lines, namely health care professionals, emergency workers and relief personnel. From a report: The company announced today that it will provide "free or subsidized housing" for 100,000 people working as frontline healthcare, relief for first response professionals focused on stemming the COVID-19 crisis. Airbnb's effort will work by allowing Hosts on its platform to opt-in to making their space available, with any fees that Airbnb would normally charge for using its platform waived for those who participate.

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Put a Stop To Coronavirus Price Gouging, State AGs Tell Amazon, Facebook and Others

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 18:45
Thirty-four state attorneys general are calling on companies like Amazon, Craigslist, Facebook, eBay and Walmart to take a harder stance of price gouging in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. From a report: The letters to each company cite specific examples, like a Craigslist ad for a 2-liter bottle of Purell Advanced hand sanitizer with a $250 price tag. While the attorneys general acknowledge that these companies have taken steps toward curtailing price gouging, the latter calls for further action. "When consumers cannot get what they need to protect their homes and loved ones -- or in this case, help prevent the spread of the virus -- consumers suffer not only economic harm, but serious health consequences as well," the letter reads. Specifically, the letter lists three steps companies can take including setting policies and restrictions around price gouging, triggering those protections ahead of an emergency declaration and creating and maintaining a "fair pricing" page or portal.

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SEC Pauses Zoom Technologies Trading Because People Think It's Zoom Video

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 18:05
The Securities and Exchange Commission suspended trading of Zoom Technologies on Thursday, partly because investors are confusing it with Zoom Video, which has seen a surge share price due to COVID-19. It will resume trading April 9. From a report: Zoom Video, which provides videoconferencing services and trades under the ticker symbol "ZM," is a key component for many businesses shifting to remote work during the coronavirus pandemic. That's led to the company, which went public last year, to see a surge in users and stock price rise of more than 112% this year so far -- a rarity in the current coronavirus-induced down market. It's now got a market cap north of $40 billion. However, traders have also bid up the much smaller Zoom Technologies, which has the ticker symbol "ZOOM." Its stock is up more than 50% this month and nearly 900% this year. The company has not disclosed financial information since 2015, the SEC says.

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Epic Games announces publishing deals with Control, Inside and The Last Guardian devs

Eurogamer - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 17:59

Having launched its own PC games store back in 2018, perhaps it was inevitable that Fortnite developer Epic Games would next move into full-on publishing - and it seems that time is now.

Unveiled earlier today, the new "multi-platform publishing effort with a developer-first approach" is partnering with developers Remedy Entertainment (Control), gen Design (The Last Guardian), and Playdead (Inside, Limbo) and . The announcement post claims the company's approach to publishing "fundamentally changes the developer/publisher model", with CEO Tim Sweeney describing it as "the publishing model we always wanted for ourselves when we worked with publishers".

"Gen Design, Remedy, and Playdead are among the most innovative and talented studios in the industry, with strong visions for their next games," said head of Epic Games Publishing Hector Sanchez. "They will have full creative control, while Epic will provide a solid foundation of project funding and services."

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These Samsung mobiles come bundled with a Switch or PS4 and Disney+ for under £30 per month

Eurogamer - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 17:50

Mobile Phones Direct is running a pair of deals on the Samsung Galaxy A51 that bundle it with loads of extras, including a Nintendo Switch or PS4, a Disney+ subscription and a hefty wedge of cashback.

There's a lot to unpack here so before we get into the nitty-gritty I've broken down the key parts of the offer below:

Yeah, it's quite a lot for your money.

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Categories: Video Games

Half-Life: Alyx tech analysis - a VR masterpiece that must be experienced

Eurogamer - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 17:47

It's not often that a new title arrives that genuinely moves gaming forward - but that's exactly what Half-Life: Alyx delivers, showcasing virtual reality in ways that have never been attempted before, backed up by top-class design and brilliant production values. Some might say it's the first true triple-A experience for the VR medium but that should come as no surprise: as a franchise, Half-Life has always focused on breaking barriers. From the original game and its cinematic, continuous world to Half-Life 2 and its focus on physical interaction, this is a series that is synonymous with innovation and that takes on a new dimension - literally - in this new adventure.

It's been a while since we last visited City 17 and much has changed from a technological standpoint. This time, the journey is framed by Valve's Source 2 Engine. While the core technology been around for some time, this is the most ambitious game yet developed on this platform. The challenges tackled by this engine are certainly significant - faster refresh rates are required by default to power headsets that usually run at 90Hz, but Valve also wanted to deliver one of the most detailed VR experiences yet.

What this means is a game world built around gorgeous, realistic physically-based materials with a lot of care poured into every corner of the world. In VR, even the most minor detail can be studied up close, meaning that all aspects of the presentation require an exceptional level of detail. The art team has done a remarkable job here - the size and scale of the world is almost perfect and the wow moments in transitioning from a tightly enclosed environment into a bigger, wider world fully deliver.

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Categories: Video Games

Rare BadUSB Attack Detected in the Wild Against US Hospitality Provider

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 17:25
A US hospitality provider has recently been the target of an incredibly rare BadUSB attack, ZDNet has learned from cyber-security firm Trustwave. From a report: The attack happened after the company received an envelope containing a fake BestBuy gift card, along with a USB thumb drive.The receiving company was told to plug the USB thumb drive into a computer to access a list of items the gift card could be used for. But in reality, the USB thumb drive was what security experts call a "BadUSB" -- a USB thumb drive that actually functions as a keyboard when connected to a computer, where it emulates keypresses to launch various automated attacks.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Burnout Paradise and BioShock trilogy headed to Nintendo Switch

Eurogamer - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 17:19

Today's mini Nintendo Direct brought with it a small flurry of Nintendo game announcements - but also many release dates for games already released elsewhere and now coming to Nintendo Switch for the first time.

Most exciting among them - the classic racer Burnout Paradise in its recent Remastered form (though there's no release date for that one yet) and the full BioShock trilogy.

BioShock will join a host of other games published by 2K - including XCOM 2 and Borderlands - all releasing on 29th May. This day will see the launch of:

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Categories: Video Games

Epic Games is Now a Third-Party Multi-Plat Publisher, Secures Three Big Studios

Slashdot - Thu, 26/03/2020 - 16:46
Epic Games: The engine maker, the game maker, the storefront handler... and now the games publisher. DarkRookie2 shares a report: Epic Games Publishing came into formal existence on Wednesday by announcing plans to fund, launch, and promote new multi-platform video games. The announcement hinged on two key points: which studios had already signed to EGP and what financial terms EGP games developers can expect. While most game publishing deals aren't typically laid bare for the public, Epic has already chosen to confirm some of EGP's financial nitty-gritty. In addition to letting studios retain "100%" control of their intellectual property (an increasingly popular term for game-publishing contracts), EGP also promises to fund "up to 100%" of all game development costs. "Once costs are recouped," Epic says, developers will earn "at least 50% of profits." (That mix of "up to" and "at least" in the last two points may imply that those figures vary as a pair -- meaning, if a developer pays for more of its dev costs, it might stand to claim more profit-sharing in the long term. Epic has not clarified that point.) Unsurprisingly, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney described these terms as "the publishing model we always wanted for ourselves when we worked with publishers [as an independent game studio]," but we're still left with some questions, all of which Epic has declined to answer as of press time. EGP is touted as a "multi-platform" effort, but will EGP games ever be available outside of Epic Games Store on PC, and/or will those games' console versions launch later than their PC versions to give Epic Games Store any form of timed exclusivity? Can EGP partners develop separate games as indie efforts or for other publishers while they're part of an EGP deal? And will each game include a Fortnite outfit-and-dance tie-in? (The last question is a joke, but considering that Epic made a Fortnite skin for the Mixer game-streamer Ninja, anything's possible at this point.)

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