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Rotten Tomatoes Tackles Review Bombing By Requiring Users To Verify Ticket Purchase Before Rating a Film

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 18:50
More changes are coming to review site Rotten Tomatoes. As of Thursday, the audience score for new movies added to the site will default to show ratings from fans confirmed to have purchased tickets to those films. From a report: "The goal is to strengthen consumer confidence around that audience score," said Greg Ferris, vice president of product for Rotten Tomatoes' parent company, Fandango. Here's how it'll work: Any site user will still be able to write a review of a film. But now users can opt to have their rating and review marked as "verified." That means they bought their film ticket on Fandango, the movie-ticketing site that owns Rotten Tomatoes. Later this year, AMC Theatres and Regal and Cinemark ticketing sites will also be participating. So if you buy your ticket for Aladdin at the box office, for example, sorry, but you can't get verified for that review. (At least for now: Dana Benson, Fandango vice president for communications, says that the site is "exploring options" for ways to verify box office purchases.) Reviews associated with a ticket purchase will be marked with a "verified" icon. By default, the verified reviews will be used to make up the audience score shown on Rotten Tomatoes. To see the total audience score, including reviews by those who didn't purchase through Fandango or didn't opt in to the verification, users can select the "all audience" tab. "Every rating counts, but the score that we're putting out there is verified," Ferris said. The Rotten Tomatoes site will automatically verify that a ticket was purchased and that the time for that movie showing has already passed. For now, only one verified review will be allowed per transaction, no matter how many tickets were purchased.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Dreamfall dev's beautiful "fjord noir mystery” Draugen is out next week

Eurogamer - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 18:41

It's been a long time coming but Dreamfall Chapters developer Red Thread Games' intriguing first-person "fjord noir mystery", Draugen, will finally arrive on Steam and GOG next week, on 29th May.

Draugen, which was first unveiled back in 2013, unfolds against the picturesque rural backdrop of 1920s Norway, and follows the tribulations of American traveller Edward Charles Harden and his "gregarious and enigmatic young ward" Lissie, as they search for Edward's missing sister.

Despite originally being pitched as something closer to a survival horror game back in 2013 (Red Thread called it a "dark and disturbing journey into the pitch black heart of Norwegian national romanticism"), the Draugen of 2019 is more in the realm of psychological thriller. According to its developer, today's Draugen "has moments of darkness and fear, mystery and suspense, but it also has beauty, peace and poetry."

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Categories: Video Games

Is your broadband good enough for Google Stadia?

Eurogamer - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 18:15

With Google Stadia and other assorted streaming services set to truly take off this year, many are wondering: is my broadband good enough?

A good internet connection is required to play games on Stadia, although there's no set number for a requirement yet. What we do know is 25Mbps is the required speed (bandwidth) for Stadia's precursor, Project Stream. That's for 1080p, 60fps streaming of gameplay though. 4K60 will be higher, as you'd expect. Basically, think about aiming for at least 25Mbps download speeds as a minimum for now. (For more information, check out Digital Foundry's Google Stadia impressions.)

Based on this, how big a chunk of the population could be excluded from using Stadia? And how do people feel about video game streaming in the first place? Eurogamer is working with Broadband Genie on a survey designed to find out.

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Categories: Video Games

Walmart Debuts Three Sub-$100 Tablets With Google Services

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 18:10
Walmart is rolling out three Android-powered tablets this week, all priced under $100. From a report: The devices, under Walmart's Onn store brand, include an 8-inch version for $64, a 10.1-inch model for $79 and one at the same larger size with a detachable keyboard for $99, the retailer said in an email Monday. All have Google's Android operating system, 16 gigabytes of storage and promise 5.5 hours of use before a charge is needed. The new gadgets are part of Walmart's broader push to revitalize its electronics section and, if successful, could provide a jolt to the sluggish tablet market, which declined in 2018, according to data tracker Strategy Analytics.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Amazon Preparing a Wearable That 'Reads Human Emotions', Says Report

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 17:30
Amazon is said to be working on a wrist-worn, voice-activated device that's supposed to be able to read human emotions. This would be a rather novel health gadget, of the sort we're more used to seeing in tenuous crowdfunding campaigns instead of from one of the world's biggest tech companies. From a report: Bloomberg has spoken to a source and reviewed internal Amazon documents, which reportedly show the Alexa voice software team and Amazon's Lab126 hardware division are collaborating on the wearable in development. The device, working in sync with a smartphone app, is said to have microphones that can "discern the wearer's emotional state from the sound of his or her voice." In a mildly dystopian twist, Bloomberg adds that "eventually the technology could be able to advise the wearer how to interact more effectively with others."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

All remaining Telltale Games series will be gone from GOG next week

Eurogamer - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 17:27

UPDATE 4.30PM: 2K Games has confirmed to Eurogamer it is working to get Tales from the Borderlands back on sale as soon as possible. As we reported below, it was recently pulled from Steam and will be removed from GOG on Monday, alongside many other titles from the now defunct Telltale Games.

"We are working to get Tales from the Borderlands back up on digital storefronts as soon as possible," a 2K spokesperson told us. "All prior digital purchases of the game will of course still be honoured and supported."

It's good to see one of Telltale's best games secured - especially as its characters tie-in to the upcoming Borderlands 3. Here's hoping other Telltale series get picked up as well.

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Categories: Video Games

Beheady French courtroom drama We. The Revolution gets a console release date

Eurogamer - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 16:50

We. The Revolution, the courtroom drama set during the French Revolution, finally has a console release date. It will launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch 25th June.

I reviewed We. The Revolution and Recommended it. And actually, to call it a courtroom drama does it a disservice, because while, as a judge in Paris, the courtroom is the base of your operations, quite a lot takes place outside of it - in your home, on the street, by the guillotine...

It's a game about making tough decisions - life or death decisions - while juggling the warring wants of Paris' many factions, and any one of them can spell Game Over if you push them too far. Will you listen to your family or the revolutionaries? Will you please the commoners or the aristocracy? In this way We. The Revolution sways you from the morally righteous verdicts you were so sure you wanted to make.

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Categories: Video Games

Senators Propose Bill Requiring Warrants To Search Devices at the Border

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 16:50
An anonymous reader shares a report: If you're taking a trip in to or out of the US, border agents currently have free rein to search through your digital devices. Unlike police, agents don't need a warrant to look through your phones, laptops and other electronics. Two US senators are hoping to change that with a bipartisan bill. Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, and Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, on Wednesday introduced the Protecting Data at the Border Act, which would require agents to obtain a warrant before they can search Americans' devices at the border. The number of electronic searches at the border has spiked in the last four years. In 2018, the Department of Homeland Security conducted more than 33,000 searches on devices, compared with 4,764 searches in 2015. Customs and Border Protection declined to comment. "The border is quickly becoming a rights-free zone for Americans who travel. The government shouldn't be able to review your whole digital life simply because you went on vacation, or had to travel for work," Wyden said in a statement.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Veteran Software Developer Panic Unveils Playdate Handheld Game Player

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 16:11
Veteran software developer firm Panic, which has made its name through high-end Mac software as well as titles such as Firewatch, is expanding its work in games and moving in a very unexpected direction. This week, Panic unveiled Playdate, a tiny, yellow Game Boy-like device with a black-and-white screen, a few chunky buttons, and... a hand crank for controlling quirky games. From a report: Playdate is adorable and exciting and fun and technically impressive. They're making their own hardware (in conjunction with Swedish device makers Teenage Engineering). They wrote their own OS (there's no Linux). It has a high resolution 400 x 240 black and white display with no backlighting. It has a crank. It's going to cost only $149 -- $149! -- and that includes a "season" of 12 games from an amazing roster of beloved video game creators, delivered every Monday for 12 weeks. The idea of a new upstart, a company the size of Panic -- with only software experience at that -- jumping into the hardware game with a brand new platform harkens back to the '80s and '90s. But even back then, a company like, say, General Magic or Palm, was VC-backed and aspired to be a titan. To be the next Atari or Commodore or Apple. In today's world all the new computing devices and platforms come from huge companies. Apple of course. All the well-known Android handset makers building off an OS provided by Google. Sony. Nintendo. Panic is almost cheating in a way because they're tiny. The Playdate platform isn't competing with the state of the art. It's not a retro platform, per se, but while it has an obviously nostalgic charm it is competing only on its own terms. Its only goal is to be fun. And aspects of Playdate are utterly modern: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, apps and software updates delivered over-the-air. They're taking advantage of an aspect of today's world that is brand new -- the Asian supply chain, the cheapness of Asian manufacturing, the cheapness of CPU and GPU cycles that allows things like Raspberry Pi to cost just $35.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Total War: Three Kingdoms sets concurrent player record for the series on Steam

Eurogamer - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 15:16

Total War: Three Kingdoms has set a concurrent player record for the series on Steam.

At the time of publication, 147,496 people are playing Creative Assembly's latest strategy game on Valve's platform.

Creative Assembly confirmed to Eurogamer that Three Kingdoms has indeed set the series record.

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Categories: Video Games

Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey PS4, Xbox One editions launch four months after PC

Eurogamer - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 15:09

Prehistoric ape evolution game Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey now has a firm release date for PC via the Epic Games Store, and a later launch window for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

On PC, Ancestors will arrive 27th August. It's exclusive to Epic Games Store for a full year. On console, Ancestors will launch digitally sometime this December, around four months later. There's a line in the press release about developer Panache wanting to release the game on each platform only when it's ready, though no specifics on why there's a hold up for consoles.

Ancestors is the first game in a decade from Patrice Desilets, one of the original creators behind Assassin's Creed, now perhaps better known for his subsequent firing from the company. It's primarily a survival game, with roguelike elements that allow you to pass on learned skills to later generations, in levels across thousands of years.

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Categories: Video Games

China Surveillance Tycoons Lose Billions From Threat of US Sanctions

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 15:00
schwit1 shares a report from Bloomberg: The billionaires behind Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. have watched their combined fortunes sink by more than $8 billion since March 2018 as shares of both companies sank on speculation of potential U.S. sanctions. The losses deepened on Wednesday after reports that Donald Trumps administration is considering blacklisting the surveillance giants, in part because of their alleged role in human rights violations. Hikvision Vice Chairman Gong Hongjia, whose fortune peaked at $13 billion in November 2017, is now worth about $6 billion after the stock fell as much as 10% on Wednesday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Dahua Chairman Fu Liquans net worth has dropped to $1.9 billion from $4.3 billion in March 2018. Hopefully the same happens to U.S. surveillance tycoons.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Valve will make its own, standalone version of Dota Auto Chess mod

Eurogamer - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 12:18

Valve has announced it will make its own version of the immensely popular Dota Auto Chess mod.

What will become of the original mod is now unclear. Valve staff invited the mod's creators, Chinese team Drodo Studio, to meet with them in February. There were discussions about working together, a blog post from Valve states: "but we both came to the conclusion that Valve and Drodo could not work directly with each other for a variety of reasons.

"We ended up agreeing that we'll each build our own stand-alone version of the game, and support each other to the fullest."

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Categories: Video Games

Significantly Large New Emissions From Banned CFCs Traced To China, Say Scientists

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 12:00
Solandri writes: In 2014, scientists began detecting plumes of CFC-11 in the atmosphere. The compound had been banned in the 1987 Montreal Protocol after it was discovered that it was contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer that protects life on Earth from ultraviolet radiation. Unfortunately, the releases were detected using global monitoring equipment, so the origin could not be determined. Using data from measuring stations in Korea and Japan, and computer modeling of atmospheric patterns, researchers have now pinned down the source of the emissions to eastern China. They also determined that the emissions were too large to be releases from foam which had been produced before the ban (CFCs were a common aerosol and foaming agent). And that the amounts most likely indicate new illegal production. The paper is published in the latest issue of Nature. dryriver shares an excerpt from the BBC: CFC-11 was primarily used for home insulation but global production was due to be phased out in 2010 [to allow the Ozone layer to heal]. CFC-11 was the second most abundant CFCs and was initially seen to be declining as expected. However in 2018 a team of researchers monitoring the atmosphere found that the rate of decline had slowed by about 50% after 2012. That team reasoned that they were seeing new production of the gas, coming from East Asia. The authors of that paper argued that if the sources of new production weren't shut down, it could delay the healing of the ozone layer by a decade. Further detective work in China by the Environmental Investigation Agency in 2018 seemed to indicate that the country was indeed the source. They found that the illegal chemical was used in the majority of the polyurethane insulation produced by firms they contacted. One seller of CFC-11 estimated that 70% of China's domestic sales used the illegal gas. The reason was quite simple -- CFC-11 is better quality and much cheaper than the alternatives. This new paper seems to confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that some 40-60% of the increase in emissions is coming from provinces in north eastern China. The authors also say that these CFCs are also very potent greenhouse gases. One ton of CFC-11 is equivalent to around 5,000 tons of CO2. "If we look at these extra emissions that we've identified from eastern China, it equates to about 35 million tons of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere every year, that's equivalent to about 10% of UK emissions, or similar to the whole of London."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The brilliant weirdness of Morrowind's in-game books

Eurogamer - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 09:00

"You can hear the words, so run away

"Come Hortator, unfold into a clear unknown,

"Stay quiet until you've slept in the yesterday,

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Categories: Video Games

How 'The Big Bang Theory' Normalized Nerd Culture

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 09:00
Last week, the last episode of the final season of "The Big Bang Theory" was broadcasted on CBS. Say what you will about the show, but one thing is clear: it was popular. While the average episode in Season 11 received over 18.6 million views, the season finale ended its run with an audience of 23.44 million viewers. The New Yorker's Neima Jahromi reflects on the show and how it "normalized nerd culture": On Thursday night, "The Big Bang Theory" closed out its run with an audience of eighteen million viewers. Despite all the cast changes, Sheldon remained emphatically misanthropic, self-centered, and alienated. In the end, the reason he became a kind of dweeby Fonz has to do with the structural tendencies of the oft-dismissed multi-camera sitcom. Such shows extract empathy in real time. With a live audience, silence is not an option: if a joke or a scene doesn't land, if real people aren't feeling it, then the writers storm the soundstage and change it. Alienated characters, who are the least likely to garner empathy, require extra attention from writers, and therefore often gravitate toward the center of a show. As a result, viewers come halfway, too. It's unlikely that a curmudgeonly Archie Bunker on "All in the Family" or an uptight Alex P. Keaton on "Family Ties" will remain detestable for long, even if their creators did set them up to be antagonists. Eventually, audiences saw that Sheldon was as befuddled by the world as they were uncomprehending of his intellectual pursuits. They also learned that he hated change as much as they did. In this way, an outmoded form of television cushioned the anxiety of the brave new tech culture for a generation. How do you feel about the ending of The Big Bang Theory?

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

New Paper Confirms Near-Room-Temperature Superconductivity In Wild, Hydrogen-Rich Material

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A team of physicists has published peer-reviewed results documenting near-room-temperature superconductivity in the hydrogen-rich compound lanthanum hydride. The team, led by physicist Mikhail Eremets from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, kicked off the most recent race for a high-temperature superconducting hydride in 2015, when they published a paper announcing the discovery of superconductivity at -70 Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit). In this most recent paper, the researchers placed a piece of lanthanum into an insulating ring, then placed it into a box full of pressurized hydrogen gas. They clamped the gasket between a pair of diamonds, and continued squeezing the diamonds until they hit the desired pressures, nearly 2 million times the pressure on the surface of Earth. Then, they hit the sample with a laser to form the lanthanum hydride. Finally, they take measurements to confirm they really created the material and that it's really a superconductor. The researchers detail two measurements in the paper: In one, they measure the resistance drop to zero at the -23 Celsius or -9.67 Fahrenheit temperature. In another, they notice that this temperature decreases in the presence of a magnetic field -- a clue that they were actually measuring the sample rather than something being wrong with their experimental setup.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Huawei Executive Accused of Helping Steal Trade Secrets

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 03:50
CNEX Labs, a Silicon Valley startup backed by Microsoft and Dell, is accusing high-level Huawei executive Eric Xu of participating in a conspiracy to steal its trade secrets (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), reports The Wall Street Journal. From a report: The Journal quotes a newly released hearing transcript that offers some details in a largely locked-down trial. According to its write-up, CNEX claims that Xu -- one of Huawei's rotating chairmen -- "directed a Huawei engineer to analyze Cnex's technical information." The engineer then allegedly posed as a potential CNEX customer to obtain details about its operations. CNEX also says that Xu was briefed on a plot to surreptitiously gather information from Xiamen University, which had obtained a computer memory board from CNEX. According to the Journal, Huawei lawyers admitted that Xu had been "in the chain of command that had requested" information about CNEX, but they denied that any trade secrets had been stolen. Huawei originally filed a lawsuit against CNEX co-founder Yiren "Ronnie" Huang in 2017, claiming Huang -- who left Huawei in 2013 -- had poached employees and used its patents to build CNEX's solid-state drive technology. CNEX counter-sued, claiming that Huawei had misappropriated its tech and was trying to gather even more information through the lawsuit.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Apple Agrees To Notify iPhone Users If iOS Updates Will Affect Performance, UK Watchdog Says

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 03:10
A UK watchdog group said on Wednesday that Apple has agreed to clearly notify consumers if future iOS software updates slow down or change the performance of an iPhone. CNBC reports: The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority investigated the issue after Apple said in early 2018 that it had deliberately slowed down processor speeds through a software update on some iPhones to extend battery life. Public pressure stemming from the revelation forced Apple to provide discounted $29 battery replacements that were cited by the company as one reason iPhone sales last holiday quarter were slower than expected. That program has ended. "To ensure compliance with consumer law Apple has formally agreed to improve the information it provides to people about the battery health of their phones and the impact performance management software may have on their phones," the U.K. government said on its website. The CMA said that Apple is legally required to tell consumers about the software and battery health, something the company was already doing through software on the iPhone as well as a letter on its website.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Phones Can Now Tell Who Is Carrying Them From Their Users' Gaits

Slashdot - Thu, 23/05/2019 - 02:30
PolygamousRanchKid shares an excerpt from a report via The Economist: Most online fraud involves identity theft, which is why businesses that operate on the web have a keen interest in distinguishing impersonators from genuine customers. Passwords help. But many can be guessed or are jotted down imprudently. Newer phones, tablets, and laptop and desktop computers often have beefed-up security with fingerprint and facial recognition. But these can be spoofed. To overcome these shortcomings the next level of security is likely to identify people using things which are harder to copy, such as the way they walk. Many online security services already use a system called device fingerprinting. This employs software to note things like the model type of a gadget employed by a particular user; its hardware configuration; its operating system; the apps which have been downloaded onto it; and other features, including sometimes the Wi-Fi networks it regularly connects through and devices like headsets it plugs into. LexisNexis Risk Solutions, an American analytics firm, has catalogued more than 4 billion phones, tablets and other computers in this way for banks and other clients. Roughly 7% of them have been used for shenanigans of some sort. But device fingerprinting is becoming less useful. Apple, Google and other makers of equipment and operating systems have been steadily restricting the range of attributes that can be observed remotely. That is why a new approach, behavioral biometrics, is gaining ground. It relies on the wealth of measurements made by today's devices. These include data from accelerometers and gyroscopic sensors, that reveal how people hold their phones when using them, how they carry them and even the way they walk. Touchscreens, keyboards and mice can be monitored to show the distinctive ways in which someone's fingers and hands move. Sensors can detect whether a phone has been set down on a hard surface such as a table or dropped lightly on a soft one such as a bed. If the hour is appropriate, this action could be used to assume when a user has retired for the night. These traits can then be used to determine whether someone attempting to make a transaction is likely to be the device's habitual user. If used wisely, the report says behavioral biometrics could be used to authenticate account-holders without badgering them for additional passwords or security questions; it could even be used for unlocking the doors of a vehicle once the gait of the driver, as measured by his phone, is recognized, for example. "Used unwisely, however, the system could become yet another electronic spy, permitting complete strangers to monitor your actions, from the moment you reach for your phone in the morning, to when you fling it on the floor at night," the report adds.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff
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