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US Judge Says Qualcomm Violated Antitrust Law

Slashdot - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 16:48
Qualcomm illegally suppressed competition in the market for smartphone chips by threatening to cut off supplies and extracting excessive licensing fees, a U.S. judge ruled, a decision that could force the company to overhaul its business practices. From a report: The decision issued late Tuesday night by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, caused Qualcomm shares to plunge 9.5 percent in early trading on Wednesday. "Qualcomm's licensing practices have strangled competition" in parts of the chip market for years, harming rivals, smartphone makers, and consumers, Koh wrote in a 233-page decision. She ordered the San Diego-based company to renegotiate licensing agreements at reasonable prices, without threatening to cut off supplies, and ordered that it be monitored for seven years to ensure its compliance. Qualcomm said it will immediately ask Koh to put her decision on hold, and also seek a quick appeal to the federal appeals court in California. "We strongly disagree with the judge's conclusions, her interpretation of the facts and her application of the law," general counsel Don Rosenberg said in a statement.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

League of Legends mobile version by Riot and Tencent in development - report

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 16:46

Are we about to witness the birth of one of the biggest money-makers in gaming? Reuters has reported Tencent and Riot are collaborating on a mobile version of League of Legends.

Sources told Reuters the project has been in development for over a year, though it's unlikely to arrive anytime in 2019. Apparently the reason we haven't seen a League of Legends mobile game before is due to tensions between the companies on how to capitalise on the game. One source told Reuters a League of Legends mobile version had initially been proposed by Tencent several years ago, but Riot rejected the idea.

For its own part, Tencent apparently inflamed tensions when it launched a western version of its hugely successful mobile game Honor of Kings (which is known to have peaked at over 200m players in China). Revamped version Arena of Valor was seen as Tencent's attempt to make a play for western console gamers, and was released on both mobile and Switch. Unfortunately, it's so far failed to make much of an impact.

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Categories: Video Games

Pokémon Go's June community day features a fan favourite

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 16:19

Pokémon Go doesn't normally issue a trailer for its monthly Community Day events, but then June's big day stars something of a fan favourite.

Slakoth, the sloth Pokémon, will be available to catch everywhere and its Shiny variant will become available for the first time.

The sleepy creature eventually evolves into Slaking, one of the beefiest Pokémon in the game - even if it's not hugely useful for player battles due to its lethargic nature. It's best left in gyms as a bulky deterrent.

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Categories: Video Games

ARM Memo Tells Staff To Stop Working With Huawei

Slashdot - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 16:01
UK-based chip designer ARM has told staff it must suspend business with Huawei, according to internal documents obtained by the BBC. ARM instructed employees to halt "all active contracts, support entitlements, and any pending engagementsâ with Huawei and its subsidiaries to comply with a recent US trade clampdown. From a report: ARM's designs form the basis of most mobile device processors worldwide. In a company memo, it said its designs contained "US origin technology." As a consequence, it believes it is affected by the Trump administration's ban. One analyst described the move, if it became long-term, as an "insurmountable" blow to Huawei's business. He said it would greatly affect the firm's ability to develop its own chips, many of which are currently built with ARM's underlying technology, for which it pays a licence.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Ouya's game store closes for good next month

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 15:48

It's the end of the line for Ouya, the Android game console which sprung into life during the Kickstarter boom.

Four years after the final Ouya console dropped off the end of the production line, the platform's game store is also being switched off.

Razer, which now owns Ouya, is binning off the Forge TV and MadCatz Mojo game stores at the same time - on 25th June 2019.

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Categories: Video Games

Trump Administration Considers Banning Another Major Chinese Firm

Slashdot - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. administration is considering limits to Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision's ability to buy U.S. technology, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, in a move that deepens worries about trade frictions between the world's two top economies. The move would effectively place Hikvision on a U.S. blacklist and U.S. companies may have to obtain government approval to supply components to Hikvision, the paper said. The U.S. Commerce Department blocked Huawei Technologies from buying U.S. goods last week, effectively banning U.S. companies from doing business with the Chinese firm, a major escalation in the trade war, saying Huawei was involved in activities contrary to national security. Hikvision and Dahua Technology which produce audio-visual equipment that can be used for surveillance were specifically cited in a letter to Trump's top advisers last month, signed by more than 40 lawmakers. The lawmakers said China's actions in its western region of Xinjiang "may constitute crimes against humanity" and urged tighter U.S. export controls to ensure that U.S. companies are not assisting the Chinese government's crackdown there. The issue stems around the facilities in China that "U.N. experts describe as mass detention centers holding more than 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims," reports CNBC. "Beijing has said its measures in Xinjiang, which are also reported to include widespread surveillance of the population, are aimed at stemming the threat of Islamist militancy. The facilities or camps that have opened are vocational training centers, the government has said."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Assassin's Creed: Unity positive review bomb leaves Valve confused

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 14:50

In an extended blog post that reads like a first year philosophy student essay, Valve has been debating what counts as a Steam review bomb. With itself.

The company's confusion was prompted by the recent surge in positive reviews for Assassin's Creed: Unity, which Ubisoft made available for free on Uplay in the aftermath of the Notre Dame fire (along with donating €500,000 to help with restoration efforts). Naturally, the move was incredibly popular with players, and despite its free release on a different platform prompted a spike in player reviews on Steam.

But does this count as a review bomb, and if so, should Valve prohibit it as it has in the past?

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Categories: Video Games

Here's our first look at Mario Kart Tour for smartphones

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 13:27

Mario Kart Tour has just launched its Android beta test in Japan, giving us a first look at the game.

Nintendo has kept its smartphone Mario Kart firmly under wraps - and, until now, we didn't know how close it would stick to the series' traditional formula. But from initial reports, it seems similar - albeit simplified. Your racer drives automatically - you just drag left or right to corner. A typical roster of familiar courses, items and characters are included. (Alas, there is no Birdo.)

Screenshots and video are not supposed to be posted from the beta - but, of course, some are filtering online. Here's some gameplay, via ResetERA:

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Categories: Video Games

Valve releases yet another mobile app, this time for Steam Chat

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 12:05

Why have one messaging app when you can have two? This seems to be the thinking behind Valve's latest app release, as the company has unveiled a new Steam Chat app for iOS and Android.

The free app, billed by Valve as a "modernised Steam chat experience", incorporates many of the features of Steam's desktop chat, which was revamped last year to bring it in line with competitors such as Discord. This means you can now start group chats on your phone, get customisable notifications, and (importantly) send gifs.

Strangely, voice chat is not yet included in the app, but Valve says it's already working to bring this to Steam Chat in future.

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Categories: Video Games

EA shows off Frostbite engine's next-gen hair

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 12:04

A day on from our first look at Spider-Man running on a PlayStation 5-like setup, EA has debuted some next-gen tech of its own. It's all about hair.

EA has devoted a small team of people at its DICE and Criterion studios to improving the look of follicles in the Frostbite engine. Genuinely, the results are impressive.

It's not just the physics side of how hair moves, either - it's how each hair reflects the light differently as it does so, and how this is affected when hair has been artificially coloured.

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Categories: Video Games

TABS and the allure of a chemistry set

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 12:00

Something brilliant happened in TABS the other day. TABS stands for Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, and it's a complete joy. You hover above a landscape, whack down a bunch of units, and then watch as your units smash into the enemy's units. Hilarity, as they say, ensues.

I was on the city-ish map. Streets and buildings, a Greek vibe, domes and sunbleached plaster. I had decided to splurge on a bunch of very cheap melee units and one bigger, more expensive melee unit to bring up the rear. I think it was a knight. The knight has a sword and shield, and as I sat back and watched the chaos unfold, I realised something was missing. Where was my sword-and-shield guy? Where was the guy I'd spent all my money on?

This picture tells the story:

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Categories: Video Games

SpaceX's Starhopper Moves Closer To Its First Flight

Slashdot - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 12:00
SpaceX is planning to launch test flights of its Starhopper test vehicle to a height of up to 16,400 feet. "The short tests, which will take place out of SpaceX's launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, will send the rocket to just under 1,640 feet (500 meters) high for its low-altitude flights and up to 16,400 feet (5,000 meters) high for its high-altitude flights," reports The Verge, citing a modified application filed with the FCC. The heights match those that the company indicated in a similar filing last year. From the report: The Starhopper is a very basic version of Starship, the massive passenger rocket that SpaceX wants to build to send people to the Moon and Mars. In order to prepare for the first Starship's flight to space, SpaceX has been tinkering with the test Starhopper in Boca Chica. The vehicle boasts a similar structure to the final rocket, though it's slightly smaller in size. Starhopper's most important task is to test out the new, powerful Raptor engines that SpaceX has developed for the future deep-space rocket. SpaceX fired up a Raptor engine on the bottom of the Starhopper for the first time in April. It only lifted a few inches since the vehicle was tethered to the ground. But now, SpaceX plans to perform what are known as "hop" tests with the vehicle (hence the nickname Starhopper), which will send the rocket to a low altitude above the Earth. The company will then attempt to touch the Starhopper back down on the ground with the vehicle's three landing legs. The idea is to test out the landing capabilities the rocket's going to use to touch down on Earth and other worlds. SpaceX performed similar tests with a vehicle known as Grasshopper back in 2012 and 2013 to try out the landing technique its Falcon 9 rockets now use.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Report: AMD Navi announcement coming Monday, performance targets revealed

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 11:54

AMD's next-gen Navi graphics cards have been subject to intense rumour and speculation for years, but the end is in sight. A PR director and product manager from Sapphire, an AMD partner known for their Nitro graphics cards, leaked to the Chinese press that Team Red is planning to announce two Navi GPUs on Monday. This date coincides with AMD's Computex keynote, which is scheduled to begin on May 27th at 10AM Taipei Standard Time (GMT+8).

The Sapphire representatives revealed that both cards will be upper mid-range products that sit below the Radeon 7 in AMD's product stack. The Navi Pro will outperform the RTX 2060 for $400, while the Navi XT will beat out the RTX 2070 for $500. Barring any reactive price drops from Nvidia, that should mean that AMD regain the price-for-performance crown for 1080p and 1440p gaming once the cards are launched on July 7th.

The leak was first posted online on Zhihu, a Chinese social media platform, and quickly spread to community sites such as the AMD subreddit and Western press including Tech Powerup. Since then, the original Zhihu post has been deleted.

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Categories: Video Games

Fortnite's latest collaboration is with Michael Jordan

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 11:29

Hot on the heels of its John Wick crossover, Fortnite's next big brand mash-up is... Michael Jordan. This one's a little different, however.

Jordan's collaboration is the first promotional effort in Fortnite Creative - the game's level creation mode which has grown increasingly robust these past few months.

A pair of Creative artists has been tasked with building the new Downtown Drop LTM, which seems actually more downhill skateboard themed than basketball. Unlike with John Wick, you can't purchase a Michael Jordan skin - although there are themed cosmetics available. Here's a trailer:

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Categories: Video Games

Nintendo Switch FIFA 19 players shafted once again as EA pulls Ultimate Team advert for content that never showed up

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 11:15

Players of FIFA 19 on Nintendo Switch are once again up in arms after a long-awaited challenge added to the other versions of the game failed to show up on their console - despite being advertised in-game.

Overnight, multiple angry FIFA 19 players contacted Eurogamer to express their frustration at missing out on content given to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players.

This related to a Premier League Team of the Season Guaranteed Squad Building Challenge in FIFA Ultimate Team, which was added to FUT on PS4 and Xbox One but not on Nintendo Switch.

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Categories: Video Games

Planet Coaster is getting a Ghostbusters expansion

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 11:00

Frontier Developments has revealed that its theme park construction sim, Planet Coaster, will soon be strapping on a proton pack for a blast of 80s nostalgia, courtesy of its new Ghostbusters-themed DLC expansion.

Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis' seminal comedy-horror Ghostbusters is, of course, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, which is presumably all the justification needed to turn it into Planet Coaster DLC. And, according to Frontier, the new Ghostbusters pack will include an "all new story-driven scenario, new gameplay mechanics, plus new rides, characters and scenery".

The teaser trailer accompanying the announcement (below), while kind of adorable, isn't particularly illuminating, but Frontier has thankfully more thoroughly detailed the DLC's innards elsewhere. According to the official reveal, the new content pack will feature a fully-voiced, narrative campaign, with Dan Aykroyd and William Atherton both starring.

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Categories: Video Games

THQ Nordic acquires... Gothic creator Piranha Bytes

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 10:42

THQ Nordic has acquired Gothic creator Piranha Bytes, and with it the IP rights to Gothic, Risen and Elex.

The two companies have worked together before - THQ Nordic having been the publisher of Elex (2017), which was a bit ropey but charming nonetheless (a little like Piranha Bytes' other games). On the prospect of Elex 2, the acquisition press release said: "Semi-official comment: Have a guess."

As for a new Gothic - presumably Gothic 5? "Nothing to say at this stage."

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Categories: Video Games

Washington Becomes First State To Legalize Human Composting

Slashdot - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 09:00
Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation Tuesday making Washington the first state to approve composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains. The Associated Press reports: It allows licensed facilities to offer "natural organic reduction," which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into about two wheelbarrows' worth of soil in a span of several weeks. Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated -- or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree. Supporters say the method is an environmentally friendly alternative to cremation, which releases carbon dioxide and particulates into the air, and conventional burial, in which people are drained of their blood, pumped full of formaldehyde and other chemicals that can pollute groundwater, and placed in a nearly indestructible coffin, taking up land. State law previously dictated that remains be disposed of by burial or cremation. The law, which takes effect in May 2020, added composting as well as alkaline hydrolysis, a process already legal in 19 other states. The latter uses heat, pressure, water and chemicals like lye to reduce remains.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Alt-Frequencies review: a time-looping radio mystery that doesn't quite get there

Eurogamer - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 09:00

In George Orwell's 1984, you're swept along in a revolution you don't really know anything about. It's so secretive because the stakes are so high. One wrong move and, kachunk, you're disappeared, and it's frightening.

It feels the same in Alt-Frequencies. From the moment it begins, you know you have a role in something bigger. There's something very wrong going on at a state level and you know the truth is out there somewhere. You know that because a pirate radio station told you. You heard an illicit truth and now you want more. But who are you, who are they, and what is the truth?

You will have barely scratched the surface of the answer before time will loop on you. The five-to-10 minutes of radio you've been listening to will, after the screen fades to white, repeat on you. This time-loop is central to everything. It is the story you're chasing and how you chase it.

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Categories: Video Games

'Car Owners Should Control Data Collected By Cars'

Slashdot - Wed, 22/05/2019 - 05:30
Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association, argues that car owners (or lessees) should be the only ones who can control their car's data. "He or she should be aware of the data the car transmits, have control over it and determine who can see it," Hanvey writes. Many have argued this position for the privacy angle, but Harvey takes a different facet of this conversation, pointing out that carmakers control our data to limit where we get repairs or services done. If policymakers don't act on behalf of consumers, Hanvey writes, car and truck owners may be forced to go to select service centers for repairs, circumventing the more than 180,000 independent repair shops across the country that have all the tools needed to work on today's newest cars, but lack access to the necessary diagnostic information needed to complete the job. An anonymous reader shares the report: Because of the increasing complexity of cars and the Internet of Things, data is critical to repair and service. When carmakers control the data, they can choose which service centers receive our information. They're more likely to share our data exclusively with their branded dealerships than with independent repair shops, which could have the edge in price and convenience. However, independent repair shops currently make 70 percent of outside warranty repairs throughout the country. There are more than 180,000 independent repair shops across the country; most have all the tools needed to work on today's connected and complex cars, and most of today's highly trained service technicians can perform anything from basic tuneups to sophisticated electronic diagnostics. But without access to car data, they're working blindfolded, unable to see the diagnostic information they need. The solution is simple. The only person who should control car data is the car owner (or lessee). He or she should be aware of the data the car transmits, have control over it and determine who can see it. Digitization of the auto industry is, ultimately, a good thing. Today's connected cars are paving the way for autonomous vehicles and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and eventually vehicle-to-infrastructure communications making our roads safer. But unlike Alexa and Nest, consumers are unaware of the degree to which their own car collects and processes data. It's clear, because of its value -- as high as $750 billion by 2030 -- carmakers have no incentive to release control of the data collected from our vehicles. Policymakers, however, have the opportunity to give drivers control -- not just so that they can keep their data private but also so that they can share it with the people they want to see it. This will let car owners maintain what they've had for a century: the right to decide who fixes their car.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff
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