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I cheesed the Fortnite Tones and I event for XP and now I don't want the Metaverse

Eurogamer - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 11:00

I haven't been to a gig in years - I guess with Covid I'm not alone there, but even before that it was getting on a bit. I remember though. One of the magical things about live music, when you're seeing a band you really love, is that this private relationship - headphones, personal playlists - is suddenly very public. It's a room and then you and hundreds of other people who all feel the same way about Moloko or whatever. (I am old.)

So no, I haven't been to a gig in years, and yet I saw Ariana Grande live in Fortnite with my daughter, which was incredible. The staircase! The hammer! And then this weekend I'm ashamed to say I saw Tones and I in Fortnite too. Three times.

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Categories: Video Games

James Cameron Warns of 'The Dangers of Deepfakes'

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 10:34
Slashdot reader DevNull127 shares this transcript of James Cameron's new interview with the BBC — which they've titled "The Danger of Deepfakes." "Almost everything we create seems to go wrong at some point," James Cameron says... James Cameron: Almost everything we create seems to go wrong at some point. I've worked at the cutting edge of visual effects, and our goal has been progressively to get more and more photo-real. And so every time we improve these tools, we're actually in a sense building a toolset to create fake media — and we're seeing it happening now. Right now the tools are — the people just playing around on apps aren't that great. But over time, those limitations will go away. Things that you see and fully believe you're seeing could be faked. This is the great problem with us relying on video. The news cycles happen so fast, and people respond so quickly, you could have a major incident take place between the interval between when the deepfake drops and when it's exposed as a fake. We've seen situations — you know, Arab Spring being a classic example — where with social media, the uprising was practically overnight. You have to really emphasize critical thinking. Where did you hear that? You know, we have all these search tools available, but people don't use them. Understand your source. Investigate your source. Is your source credible? But we also shouldn't be prone to this ridiculous conspiracy paranoia. People in the science community don't just go, 'Oh that's great!' when some scientist, you know, publishes their results. No, you go in for this big period of peer review. It's got to be vetted and checked. And the more radical a finding, the more peer review there is. So good peer-reviewed science can't lie. But people's minds, for some reason, will go to the sexier, more thriller-movie interpretation of reality than the obvious one. I always use Occam's razor — you know, Occam's razor's a great philosophical tool. It says the simplest explanation is the likeliest. And conspiracy theories are all too complicated. People aren't that good, human systems aren't that good, people can't keep a secret to save their lives, and most people in positions of power are bumbling stooges. The fact that we think that they could realistically pull off these — these complex plots? I don't buy any of that crap! Bill Gates is not really trying to microchip you with the flu vaccine! [Laughs] You know, look, I'm always skeptical of new technology, and we all should be. Every single advancement in technology that's ever been created has been weaponized. I say this to AI scientists all the time, and they go, 'No, no, no, we've got this under control.' You know, 'We just give the AIs the right goals...' So who's deciding what those goals are? The people that put up the money for the research, right? Which are all either big business or defense. So you're going to teach these new sentient entities to be either greedy or murderous. If Skynet wanted to take over and wipe us out, it would actually look a lot like what's going on right now. It's not going to have to — like, wipe out the entire, you know, biosphere and environment with nuclear weapons to do it. It's going to be so much easier and less energy required to just turn our minds against ourselves. All Skynet would have to do is just deepfake a bunch of people, pit them against each other, stir up a lot of foment, and just run this giant deepfake on humanity. I mean, I could be a projection of an AI right now.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Developer Who Intentionally Corrupted His Libraries Wants NPM To Restore His Publishing Rights

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 07:34
Remember that developer who intentionally corrupted his two libraries which collectively had over 20 million weekly downloads and thousands of dependent projects? In the immediate aftermath he'd complained on Twitter that NPM "has reverted to a previous version of the faker.js package and Github has suspended my access to all public and private projects. I have 100s of projects. #AaronSwartz." That was January 6th, and within about a week GitHub had restored his access, while one of his two libraries (faker-js) was forked by its community to create a community-driven project. But Thursday the developer announced on his Twitter account: What's up @Github? Ten days since you removed my ability to publish to NPM and fix the Infinity Zalgo bug in colors.js Never responded to my support emails. I have 100s of packages I need to maintain. Everyone makes programming mistakes from time to time. Nobody is perfect. It hasn't been confirmed that NPM has actually blocked his ability to publish — but the tweet already appears to be attracting reactions from other developers on social media.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Israel Says Fourth Vaccine Dose Brings 2X Protection Against Omicron Infection, 3X Against Serious Illness - For Those Over 60

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 04:34
Friday the results of several large studies showed that getting a third Covid vaccine "booster shot" dramatically decreased infections from the Omicron variant. And now the Times of Israel reports that the country's Health Ministry "said on Sunday that the fourth vaccine dose for those aged 60 and up offers a threefold protection against serious illness and twofold protection against infection in the current wave driven by the Omicron variant." The ministry said the figures are the result of initial analysis by experts from various leading academic and health institutions, and compares the fourth vaccine with those who received three doses at least four months ago. The figures are based on 400,000 Israelis who received the fourth vaccine and 600,000 who received three doses, with the ministry stressing that the methodology is similar to previous papers the experts have published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Vice Mocks GIFs as 'For Boomers Now, Sorry'. (And For Low-Effort Millennials)

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 02:19
"GIF folders were used by ancient civilisations as a way to store and catalogue animated pictures that were once employed to convey emotion," Vice writes: Okay, you probably know what a GIF folder is — but the concept of a special folder needed to store and save GIFs is increasingly alien in an era where every messaging app has its own in-built GIF library you can access with a single tap. And to many youngsters, GIFs themselves are increasingly alien too — or at least, okay, increasingly uncool. "Who uses gifs in 2020 grandma," one Twitter user speedily responded to Taylor Swift in August that year when the singer-songwriter opted for an image of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson mouthing the words "oh my god" to convey her excitement at reaching yet another career milestone. You don't have to look far to find other tweets or TikToks mocking GIFs as the preserve of old people — which, yes, now means millennials. How exactly did GIFs become so embarrassing? Will they soon disappear forever, like Homer Simpson backing up into a hedge...? Gen Z might think GIFs are beloved by millennials, but at the same time, many millennials are starting to see GIFs as a boomer plaything. And this is the first and easiest explanation as to why GIFs are losing their cultural cachet. Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor of communication at Syracuse University and author of multiple books on internet culture, says that early adopters have always grumbled when new (read: old) people start to encroach on their digital space. Memes, for example, were once subcultural and niche. When Facebook came along and made them more widespread, Redditors and 4Chan users were genuinely annoyed that people capitalised on the fruits of their posting without putting in the cultural work. "That democratisation creates a sense of disgust with people who consider themselves insiders," Phillips explains. "That's been central to the process of cultural production online for decades at this point...." In 2016, Twitter launched its GIF search function, as did WhatsApp and iMessage. A year later, Facebook introduced its own GIF button in the comment section on the site. GIFs became not only centralised but highly commercialised, culminating in Facebook buying GIPHY for $400 million in 2020. "The more GIFs there are, maybe the less they're regarded as being special treasures or gifts that you're giving people," Phillips says. "Rather than looking far and wide to find a GIF to send you, it's clicking the search button and typing a word. The gift economy around GIFs has shifted...." Linda Kaye, a cyberpsychology professor at Edge Hill University, hasn't done direct research in this area but theorises that the ever-growing popularity of video-sharing on TikTok means younger generations are more used to "personalised content creation", and GIFs can seem comparatively lazy. The GIF was invented in 1987 "and it's important to note the format has already fallen out of favour and had a comeback multiple times before," the article points out. It cites Jason Eppink, an independent artist and curator who curated an exhibition on GIFs for the Museum of the Moving Image in New York in 2014, who highlighted how GIFs were popular with GeoCities users in the 90s, "so when Facebook launched, they didn't support GIFs.... They were like, 'We don't want this ugly symbol of amateur web to clutter our neat and uniform cool new website." But then GIFs had a resurgence on Tumblr. Vice concludes that while even Eppink no longer uses GIFs any more, "Perhaps the waxing and waning popularity of the GIF is an ironic mirror of the format itself — destined to repeat endlessly, looping over and over again."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

This 22-Year-Old Builds Semiconductors in His Parents' Garage

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 01:18
Wired reports on 22-year-old Sam Zeloof, who builds semiconductors in his family's New Jersey garage, "about 30 miles from where the first transistor was made at Bell Labs in 1947." With a collection of salvaged and homemade equipment, Zeloof produced a chip with 1,200 transistors. He had sliced up wafers of silicon, patterned them with microscopic designs using ultraviolet light, and dunked them in acid by hand, documenting the process on YouTube and his blog. "Maybe it's overconfidence, but I have a mentality that another human figured it out, so I can too, even if maybe it takes me longer," he says... His chips lag Intel's by technological eons, but Zeloof argues only half-jokingly that he's making faster progress than the semiconductor industry did in its early days. His second chip has 200 times as many transistors as his first, a growth rate outpacing Moore's law, the rule of thumb coined by an Intel cofounder that says the number of transistors on a chip doubles roughly every two years. Zeloof now hopes to match the scale of Intel's breakthrough 4004 chip from 1971, the first commercial microprocessor, which had 2,300 transistors and was used in calculators and other business machines. In December, he started work on an interim circuit design that can perform simple addition.... Garage-built chips aren't about to power your PlayStation, but Zeloof says his unusual hobby has convinced him that society would benefit from chipmaking being more accessible to inventors without multimillion-dollar budgets. "That really high barrier to entry will make you super risk-averse, and that's bad for innovation," Zeloof says.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

15 Months Ago, a Melting Iceberg Released 152 Billion Tonnes of Water

Slashdot - Mon, 24/01/2022 - 00:18
Space.com reports: A rogue iceberg that drifted dangerously close to an Antarctic penguin population in 2020 and 2021 released billions of tons of fresh water into the ocean during its breakup. A new study, based on satellite data, tracks the aftermath of the once-mighty iceberg A-68a, which held the title of world's largest iceberg for more than three years before shattering into a dozen pieces.... [T]he new research shows that the iceberg flooded the region with fresh water, potentially affecting the local ecosystem and providing yet another example of the effects of global warming on the oceans. The research consulted data gathered by missions including Sentinel-1 (operated by European Space Agency, or ESA), Sentinel-3 (ESA), CryoSat-2 (ESA) and ICESat-2 (NASA), as well as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, instrument that flies aboard two NASA satellites, Aqua and Terra. The satellite data shows that during the iceberg's three-month melting period in late 2020 and early 2021, the former A-68a flushed into the ocean about 162 billion tons (152 billion metric tonnes) of fresh water — equivalent to 61 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to a press release from United Kingdom study participant University of Leeds. "Our ability to study every move of the iceberg in such detail is thanks to advances in satellite techniques and the use of a variety of measurements," said Tommaso Parrinello, CryoSat Mission Manager at the European Space Agency, in the press release. The BBC reports that the "monster" iceberg "was dumping more than 1.5 billion tonnes of fresh water into the ocean every single day at the height of its melting."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Saturn's 'Death Star'-Shaped Moon Mimas May Be Hiding an Ocean

Slashdot - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 23:18
CNET reports: Saturn has some famous moons, like Enceladus (a plume-spewing moon of mystery) and Titan (the intriguing target of NASA's future Dragonfly mission). But what about dainty Mimas, a moon that's mostly known for its resemblance to the Star Wars Death Star? Turns out it might be hiding an ocean. A study published in the journal Icarus lays out evidence that suggests Mimas has liquid deep under its icy surface. "If Mimas has an ocean, it represents a new class of small, 'stealth' ocean worlds with surfaces that do not betray the ocean's existence," said lead author Alyssa Rhoden in a Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) statement on Wednesday. Mimas might look quiet, but NASA's now-defunct Saturn-studying Cassini spacecraft "identified a curious libration, or oscillation, in the moon's rotation, which often points to a geologically active body able to support an internal ocean," SwRI said. The libration spotted by Cassini suggests Mimas's interior is warm enough for a liquid ocean, but not so warm it compromises the moon's thick shell of ice. The researchers calculate that ice shell could be up to 19 miles (31 kilometers) thick. There's a nifty acronym for interior water ocean worlds: IWOWs. Known IWOWs include Enceladus, Titan and Jupiter's fascinating moon Europa. These places are particularly interesting because they may be habitable for microbial life.

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Researchers Find Evidence of Boulders Tumbling After Recent Earthquakes on Mars

Slashdot - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 22:48
"If a rock falls on Mars, and no one is there to see it, does it leave a trace?" jokes the New York Times, answering "Yes, and it's a beautiful herringbone-like pattern, new research reveals." Scientists have now spotted thousands of tracks on the red planet created by tumbling boulders. Delicate chevron-shaped piles of Martian dust and sand frame the tracks, the team showed, and most fade over the course of a few years. Rockfalls have been spotted elsewhere in the solar system, including on the moon and even a comet. But a big open question is the timing of these processes on other worlds — are they ongoing or did they predominantly occur in the past?A study of these ephemeral features on Mars, published last month in Geophysical Research Letters, says that such boulder tracks can be used to pinpoint recent seismic activity on the red planet. This new evidence that Mars is a dynamic world runs contrary to the notion that all of the planet's exciting geology happened much earlier, s aid Ingrid Daubar, a planetary scientist at Brown University who was not involved in the study... To arrive at this finding, Vijayan, a planetary scientist at the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmadabad, India, who uses a single name, and his colleagues pored over thousands of images of Mars' equatorial region. The imagery was captured from 2006 through 2020 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and revealed details as small as 10 inches across. "We can discriminate individual boulders," Vijayan said. The team manually searched for chain-like features — a telltale signature of a rock careening down an incline — on the sloped walls of impact craters. Vijayan and his collaborators spotted more than 4,500 such boulder tracks, the longest of which stretched more than a mile and a half... Roughly one-third of the tracks the researchers studied were absent in early images, meaning that they must have formed since 2006... The researchers suggest that winds continuously sweeping over the surface of Mars redistribute dust and sand and erase the ejecta. Because boulder fall ejecta fades so rapidly, seeing it implies that a boulder was dislodged recently, the team suggest. And a common cause of rockfalls, on Earth and elsewhere, is seismic activity.... Since 2019, hundreds of marsquakes have been detected by NASA's InSight lander, and two of the largest occurred last year in the Cerberus Fossae region. Today the Mars lander InSight is back in operation after a two-week break to avoid dust storms, while dust storms also delayed the 19th flight of NASA's Ingenuity helicopter. And elsewhere on Mars, the Perserverance rover successfully dislodged two pebbles stuck in its sample-collecting apparatus.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

All Charges Dropped Against MIT Professor Accused of Hiding Ties to China

Slashdot - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 21:23
Remember that MIT professor accused of hiding the work he did for the Chinese government? (He was arrested for not disclosing it on federal grant applications, with a U.S. attorney announcing "It is not illegal to collaborate with foreign researchers. It is illegal to lie about it.") All charges have been dropped. Mass Live reports: Chen, 56, was arrested a year ago for failing to disclose millions of dollars in contracts, appointments and awards from the Chinese government when he applied for a grant from the Department of Energy. Among other charges, he was accused of wire fraud and making a false statement on a tax return, according to prosecutors. He pleaded not guilty to the full slate of charges. On Thursday, U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said the federal government would drop its case against Chen. After assessing new evidence, Rollins said in a statement her office found it could not meet the burden of proof in a trial. "As prosecutors, we have an obligation in every matter we pursue to continually examine the facts while being open to receiving and uncovering new information," Rollins said. "Today's dismissal is a result of that process and is in the interests of justice...." Prosecutors had claimed Chen used the U.S. government's money to benefit the Chinese government, while failing to disclose any relationship with Chinese leaders. Colleagues protested Chen's arrest, saying grant disclosure violations had been treated as a serious crime, such as espionage or intellectual property theft, the New York Times reported. Recently, Department of Energy officials said they would awarded a grant to him even if he had disclosed his ties to China. MIT Technology Review adds: From the start, Chen had maintained his innocence, while MIT had indicated that he was working to establish a research collaboration on behalf of the institution and that the funding in question was actually for the university rather than Chen personally. MIT also paid for his defense.... "The government finally acknowledged what we said all along: Professor Gang Chen is an innocent man," Robert Fisher, Chen's defense attorney, said in a statement. "Our defense was never based on any legal technicalities. Gang did not commit any of the offenses he was charged with. Full stop. He was never in a talent program. He was never an overseas scientist for Beijing. He disclosed everything that he was supposed to disclose and never lied to the government or anyone else." For his part, Chen said, "While I am relieved that my ordeal is over, I am mindful that this terribly misguided China Initiative continues to bring unwarranted fear to the academic community, and other scientists still face charges." "I will have more to share soon," the scientist added.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Blender 3.0 Released With More New Features and Improvements

Slashdot - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 20:04
Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino writes: The Free Open Source 3D production software Blender has been released in version 3.0 (official showreel) with more new features, improvements and performance optimizations as well as further improved workflows. In recent years Blender has received an increasing rate of attention from the 3D industry, with various larger businesses such as Epic, Microsoft, Apple and most recently Intel joining the blender foundation and donating to its development fund. Blender has seen an increasing rise in usage in various industries, such as animated feature film production, architecture and game development.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

KDE-Powering Qt's New Framework Lets Developers Bring Ads Into Their Apps

Slashdot - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 19:34
"Qt, the framework that powers the KDE desktop, is announcing support for ads in client-side applications," reports Neowin: This means that application developers will now be able to serve ads in traditional desktop applications.... Windows users have been dealing with this in Metro UI apps since Windows 8 and it's something that's never gone over well on the desktop. While it's doubtful you'll see ads in KDE's core applications, it would be possible for distributions that wish to further monetize their work to fork these applications, placing ads in them.... According to the documentation, the advertising plugin supports a variety of platforms. They are as follows: - Windows 10 - Ubuntu 20.04 - Raspbian Buster - macOS - Android 7.0 — iOS "Our offering aims to disrupt the IoT industry," explains Qt's press release, "enabling new business models and business cases that before were not possible." Reactions have been mixed. Comments on Phoronix ranged from calling it "a great way for boost development on KDE" to "Not sure if I like this." Thanks to Slashdot reader segaboy81 for sharing the story

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Battlefield 2042's community-made zombies mode has been removed because of XP farming

Eurogamer - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 19:02

Following reports of XP farming, Battlefield 2042 says it has removed its fan-made zombies mode.

Making the announcement on Twitter, Ripple Effect Studios' Justin Weibe - who works as senior design director on the shooter's latest instalment - says the plan is to "fix it in the future" and "keep it in alignment with standard game progression", adding that to do so, the team has also "tightened [its] review process".

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Categories: Video Games

Halo Infinite players may not get their lost XP back following server issues

Eurogamer - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 18:13

Halo Infinite players who lost XP during recent server outages are seemingly unlikely to have their rewards restored.

Confirmation came via a customer support representative who responded to a player's queries about lost XP, the response for which was then shared on the game's subreddit community.

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Categories: Video Games

Another Wraith portal glitch has been discovered in Apex Legends

Eurogamer - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 17:46

Another Apex Legends Wraith glitch has popped up, this time allowing players to draw their weapons and deal damage whilst the fan-favourite character is teleporting.

Ordinarily, Wraith cannot equip weapons in the void, let alone unleash upon suspecting opponents whilst essentially invisible, but players have discovered that they can take pop shots at enemies if they expertly pull off a nifty manoeuvre that uses both Wraith's Dimensional Rift ultimate skill and her Into the Void tactical.

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Categories: Video Games

A Conway 'Game of Life' Conjecture Settled After 29 years

Slashdot - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 17:34
In 1992 John Conway raised a question about the patterns in his famous mathematical Game of Life: "Is there a Godlike still-life, one that can only have existed for all time (apart from things that don't interfere with it)?" Conway closed his note by adding "Well, I'm going out to get a hot dog now..." And then, nearly 30 years later, a mathematical blog reports: Ilkka Törmä and Ville Salo, a pair of researchers at the University of Turku in Finland, have found a finite configuration in Conway's Game of Life such that, if it occurs within a universe at time T, it must have existed in that same position at time T-1 (and therefore, by induction, at time 0)... The configuration was discovered by experimenting with finite patches of repeating 'agar' and using a SAT solver to check whether any of them possess this property. The blogger also shares some other Game of Life-related news: David Raucci discovered the first oscillator of period 38. The remaining unsolved periods are 19, 34, and 41.Darren Li has connected Charity Engine to Catagolue, providing approximately 2000 CPU cores of continuous effort and searching slightly more than 10^12 random initial configurations per day.Nathaniel Johnston and Dave Greene have published a book on Conway's Game of Life, featuring both the theoretical aspects and engineering that's been accomplished in the half-century since its conception. Unfortunately it was released slightly too early to include the Törmä-Salo result or Raucci's period-38 oscillator. Thanks to Slashdot reader joshuark for sharing the story.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Grid Legends drops new Story Mode video teaser

Eurogamer - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 16:59

Codemasters is back with another teaser to whet your appetites ahead of the upcoming Grid Legends.

It's our first peek at the racer's story mode - called Driven to Glory - ahead of its release on 25th February. You can check it out below:

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Categories: Video Games

Hitman 3's PC VR support disappoints in almost every department

Eurogamer - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 16:00

As a massive fan of Hitman's glorious PSVR mode it pains me to say that the game's long awaited update for PC VR support is a huge disappointment.

Instead of a fully motion controlled Agent 47 and a sharper, detailed and more interactive game world, what we actually have here seems to be little more than a port of the PSVR version. With an extra arm thrown in for good measure.

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Categories: Video Games

Raven Software ends QA strike action in light of unionisation

Eurogamer - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 15:22

Raven Software's QA team has ended its strike action.

As Matt helpfully summarised for us a couple of days back, the strike began when around a third of the QA team was laid off back in December. The firings - coming after a five-week period of overtime and anticipated end-of-year crunch - occurred despite Activision allegedly promising the team it was working on a pay restructure to increase wages.

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Categories: Video Games

Dark Souls PC online servers are down following reports of a security issue

Eurogamer - Sun, 23/01/2022 - 14:54

Bandai Namco has been forced to shutter the PC PvP servers for all Dark Souls games following "recent reports of an issue with online servers".

While console servers currently remained unaffected, it's thought the same exploit may be possible via FromSoftware's Elden Ring PC servers, too.

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Categories: Video Games
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