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Corporations Just Quietly Changed How the Web Works

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 20:45
Adrianne Jeffries, a reporter at The Outline, writes on W3C's announcement from earlier this week: The trouble with DRM is that it's sort of ineffective. It tends to make things inconvenient for people who legitimately bought a song or movie while failing to stop piracy. Some rights holders, like Ubisoft, have come around to the idea that DRM is counterproductive. Steve Jobs famously wrote about the inanity of DRM in 2007. But other rights holders, like Netflix, are doubling down. The prevailing winds at the consortium concluded that DRM is now a fact of life, and so it would be be better to at least make the experience a bit smoother for users. If the consortium didn't work with companies like Netflix, Berners-Lee wrote in a blog post, those companies would just stop delivering video over the web and force people into their own proprietary apps. The idea that the best stuff on the internet will be hidden behind walls in apps rather than accessible through any browser is the mortal fear for open web lovers; it's like replacing one library with many stores that each only carry books for one publisher. "It is important to support EME as providing a relatively safe online environment in which to watch a movie, as well as the most convenient," Berners-Lee wrote, "and one which makes it a part of the interconnected discourse of humanity." Mozilla, the nonprofit that makes the browser Firefox, similarly held its nose and cooperated on the EME standard. "It doesn't strike the correct balance between protecting individual people and protecting digital content," it said in a blog post. "The content providers require that a key part of the system be closed source, something that goes against Mozilla's fundamental approach. We very much want to see a different system. Unfortunately, Mozilla alone cannot change the industry on DRM at this point."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Judge Kills FTC Lawsuit Against D-Link for Flimsy Security

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 20:05
Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against network equipment vendor D-Link saying inadequate security in the company's wireless routers and internet cameras left consumers open to hackers and privacy violations. The FTC, in a complaint filed in the Northern District of California charged that "D-Link failed to take reasonable steps to secure its routers and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, potentially compromising sensitive consumer information, including live video and audio feeds from D-Link IP cameras." For its part, D-Link Systems said it "is aware of the complaint filed by the FTC." Fast forward nine months, a judge has dismissed the FTC's case, claiming that the FTC failed to provide enough specific examples of harm done to consumers, or specific instances when the routers in question were breached. From a report: "The FTC does not identify a single incident where a consumer's financial, medical or other sensitive personal information has been accessed, exposed or misused in any way, or whose IP camera has been compromised by unauthorized parties, or who has suffered any harm or even simple annoyance and inconvenience from the alleged security flaws in the [D-Link] devices," wrote the Judge. "The absence of any concrete facts makes it just as possible that [D-Link]'s devices are not likely to substantially harm consumers, and the FTC cannot rely on wholly conclusory allegations about potential injury to tilt the balance in its favor."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Bitcoin Futures-Based ETF Likely To Be Approved in the US

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 19:25
The race is on: who will be the first to launch a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the United States? From a report, shared by a reader: In Europe, there is already a Bitcoin exchange traded note (ETN) available to investors. In the U.S., it is widely anticipated a Bitcoin ETF will be be approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) very soon. In Europe, ETNs are designed to track the movement of Bitcoin against the U.S. dollar. The ETNs are Bitcoin Tracker One, which is traded in Swedish krona and Bitcoin Tracker EURO, which is traded in euro. Both ETNs are issued by XBT Provider AB and traded on Nasdaq OMX (Stockholm). Dave Nadig, CEO of ETF.com and previously the director of ETFs at FactSet Research Systemsm believes we can expect to see Bitcoin Futures-based ETF launched in the U.S. by the end of this year. "Yes, you can already trade a derivative in Europe, an exchange traded note which tracks Bitcoin," Nadig adds. "Then the race in the U.S. is the race to see what gets approval first. Will it be a Bitcoin future or a straight up Bitcoin holding ETF? My bet is that we will see Bitcoin futures approved fairly quickly."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Heat Signature review

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 19:00

In his review of Gunpoint, the first game from former journo Tom Francis, Dan Whitehead described the protagonist as a "flea in a trenchcoat" - springing through windows to administer dainty mouse-click beatdowns. To continue the theme, Heat Signature reminds me of those horrible wasps that breed by paralysing tarantulas, laying an egg on them and leaving their larvae to burrow into the poor creature, gobbling it up from the inside out. In this case, the tarantula is one of an endless series of procedurally generated starships, made up of cunningly stitched-together sentry gun chambers, hallways, keycard doors, fuel cell rooms and treasure boxes. The wasp is an unarmed but perilously agile single-seater pod, able to swoop across a twinkling 2D starfield and snap itself cleanly over an airlock in a matter of seconds.

And the larva? That would be your character, a scruffy vigilante out to stop an interstellar war by killing or abducting each faction's captains, stealing technology, hijacking vessels, saving captives and, once you've done enough of the foregoing, flipping space stations (which serve as mission select hubs and shops) to your cause. Your tools in this noble endeavour range from some beautifully bizarre teleport doodads and time control devices to that essential instrument of peace-keeping, the wrench. The sum of these parts is a wonderfully versatile, chaotic, lo-fi mixture of house-breaking sim and space roguelike, muddled a little by some uneven performance. If insect metaphors make your skin crawl, think of this as a bunch of Hotline Miami maps flying around a galaxy and you're halfway there.

Heat Signature is a game's worth of hectic anecdotes - precisely the kind of emergent storytelling bonanza you'd expect from a developer who once penned book-length accounts of feats of silliness and calculation in 4X strategy games like Galactic Civilisations II. As per fine Spelunking tradition, the best stories are often those in which you do something idiotic and must wrestle with the fallout. Here's a favourite: I've shot, stealthed and bludgeoned my way to the helm of a Sovereign battlecruiser, knocking the pilot the length of a corridor with my energy hammer, then downing my bounty with a concussion rifle when he moves to investigate. Having purged the ship of guards, all I have to do now is return with the body to my pod. Instead, I decide to be clever.

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Categories: Video Games

PC Gaming Is Back in Focus at Tokyo Game Show

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 18:45
After taking a back seat to consoles for the past few years, personal computers are enjoying a resurgence in gaming, thanks to the popularity of e-sports, customizable machines and faster software releases. From a report: This week's Tokyo Game Show will feature a main-stage tournament for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, a hit online survival PC game that's been downloaded more than 10 million times since March. Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One consoles are heading into their fifth years, while Nintendo's Switch is in a bit of a lull before new titles are released for the year-end holiday shopping season. Spending on gaming-ready PC rigs are on track to climb an average of 6.6 percent per year through 2020, while the market as a whole is projected to decline 3.8 percent annually, according to Gartner. Revenue from PC titles will grow by 3 to 4 percent over the coming years, while console-game sales are seen flat, according to DFC Intelligence. Written off years ago for being too expensive, complex and bulky for mass appeal, gaming PCs are seeing a resurgence that could even threaten consoles, according to Kazunori Takahashi, Japan gaming head at Nvidia. "The abundance of titles and the popularity of e-sports is bringing a lot of excitement to PC gaming," said Takahashi, whose employer supplies graphic chips to PC and console makers. Even in Japan, "it's not unreasonable to think that PCs can eventually become a presence that threatens console gaming."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Watch: Andy Serkis talks acting and his Planet of the Apes game

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 18:21

Earlier today I had the privilege of taking the stage with Andy Serkis - famed Hollywood actor, master of the art of performance capture, the man behind Gollum, Snoke, Kong and Captain Haddock for goodness' sake. He visited EGX in Birmingham to promote Planet of the Apes: Lost Frontier, a cinematic adventure game set in the world of the recent Apes movies (in which Serkis starred as Caesar), and created by Imaginarium, the UK production studio that he co-founded. (Martin recently checked the game out and discussed its intriguing multiplayer component.)

As well as the game, we chatted about Serkis' pioneering work in performance capture, acting in general, and his video game work with Ninja Theory on Heavenly Sword and Enslaved. You can watch our conversation in the embed below.

EGX runs through till Sunday and there are plenty more developer sessions to come. You can watch them live at twitch.tv/egx, after the fact on the EGX YouTube channel, and we'll be highlighting some of the YouTube uploads here on the site too.

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Categories: Video Games

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is Switch's best-selling non-Nintendo game

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 18:20

Mamma mia! Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is now the best-selling third-party game on Nintendo Switch.

That's according to physical sales tracked from North American and Australian numbers company NPD as well as UK company Chart-Track GFK.

It's not too surprising - there haven't been too many non-Nintendo physical releases which have stuck around in the chart, although Super Bomberman R, Puyo Puyo Tetris and Lego City Worlds have all made their mark.

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Categories: Video Games

John McAfee Said Top Executives From the Major Bitcoin Exchanges Weren't Allowed To Leave China

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 18:05
An anonymous reader shares a report: China's widening crackdown on bitcoin trading resulted in a travel ban of sorts for two executives from the country's largest commercial bitcoin exchanges, which regulators are closing down. From a report: On Thursday, top executives of two Chinese digital currency exchanges who were scheduled to speak at an industry conference in Hong Kong didn't show up and their sessions were canceled. The event's organizer, a bitcoin-trading firm called Bitkan, didn't provide a reason. The two executives were Lin Li, chief executive of Huobi, and Justin Pan, who the event organizer listed as being the chief operating officer of OKCoin. The two-day conference was originally supposed to be held in Beijing but its organizers last week decided to shift the venue to Hong Kong after Chinese regulators earlier this month ordered digital-currency exchanges to wind down their operations. Software pioneer and former fugitive John McAfee -- a high-profile but controversial character in the bitcoin industry -- told conference attendees on Wednesday that top executives from the major bitcoin exchanges are currently not allowed to leave China.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Twin-stick clicker Vostok Inc coming to Switch

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 18:01

Vostok Inc, a twin-stick clicker hybrid we thoroughly recommend, is coming to Nintendo Switch.

Andreas Firnigl, boss of developer Nosebleed, told me the news at EGX 2017 today.

"I really really wanted to do a Switch version because it's a perfect thing," he said. "One of the very early foundations of the game was to do this thing where you could sit and play five minute bursts and then put it down and the game is still playing.

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Categories: Video Games

NVIDIA Drops the Basic Shield TV's Price To $180

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 17:20
An anonymous reader shares a report: NVIDIA's Shield TV promised to be an Android set-top box for gamers, and in that sense, it delivered. The company first released it in 2015, but its updated version cut down on price by bundling the $50 remote in to make the base-tier $200 version more cost-efficient. Now they're dropping that price down to $180, which is an even better deal. NVIDIA is keeping the $200 tier by bundling in its normally $60 controller alongside the included remote.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire signs publisher Versus Evil

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 17:06

Crowdfunded sequel Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire has a publisher. It isn't Paradox, which published Pillars 1, but Versus Evil, publisher of The Banner Saga series.

There's no concrete release date to go with the announcement but an "early 2018" window for PC, Linux and Mac.

"We are thrilled to be working with the team at Versus Evil on Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, the first sequel we've ever made into one of our own IPs," said Feargus Urquhart, co-owner and CEO of the game's developer, Obsidian Entertainment.

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Categories: Video Games

SEC Discloses Hackers Penetrated EDGAR, Profited in Trading

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 16:40
Chris Woodyard, writing for USA Today: Hackers made their way into the Security and Exchange Commission's EDGAR electronic filing system last year, retrieving private data that appear to have resulted in "an illicit gain through trading," the agency said. It was only in August that the commission learned that hackers may have been able to use their illegal activities to make ill-gotten gains through market trading, said Chairman Jay Clayton in a lengthy statement posted on the SEC's website. EDGAR, which stands for Electronic Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval, is considered critical to the SEC's operation and the ability of investors to see the electronic filings of companies and markets. The SEC says about 50 million documents are viewed through EDGAR on a typical day. It receives about 1.7 million filings a year.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

The Fallout 3 we never got to play

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 16:29

In October of 2008, Bethesda Game Studios released Fallout 3 and in doing so, changed the series forever. Gone were the 2D sprites, isometric camera and turn-based combat of the original games in favour of something the studio believed could appeal better to a larger, more mainstream audience. And well, the nearly five million units shipped during the game's launch week suggest they were probably right on that front, but still, there remains a substantial number of fans that to this day lament the loss of classic Fallout.

Which is why in today's Here's A Thing we're going to take a look back at the Fallout 3 we never got to play. Often referred to as the Van Buren project, named for the eighth President of the United States, this game was in development at Black Isle Studios during the early 2000s, but was eventually canceled due to financial difficulties within Black Isle's parent company, Interplay Entertainment.

I'd like to extend a huge thank you to the game's two lead designers, Chris Avellone and Josh Sawyer for talking me through their work, in detail, all these years later. Avellone, in particular, was able to send me a bunch of early design notes which we'll be showcasing here.

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Categories: Video Games

Here's where to watch the EGX developer sessions

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 16:10

Hello! You're probably aware that Gamer Network, Eurogamer's parent company, also runs EGX, which is currently underway in Birmingham. Throughout the course of the show, various developers will be giving talks about the games they're working on.

There's a fair amount going on today, with news and insights into Oddworld, Total War, Sunless Skies and XCOM. What a lovely bunch that is! Here's the full rundown of what's on when:

Friday 22nd September

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Categories: Video Games

Digital Foundry: Hands-on with Switch's 'impossible' Doom port

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 16:00

Just how powerful is Nintendo Switch and what are its limits? From Digital Foundry's perspective, it's been fun - and fascinating - to see the evolution of the platform, our expectations of the core Tegra X1 processor's capabilities exceeded by several key releases. But a Switch conversion of the Doom 2016 reboot? That's on a whole new level, and we had to check it out. We went hands-on with the game for about 40 minutes last week, our key question being: just how did they do that?

There are cutbacks and compromises of course, and to be clear, one in particular is going to sting. id's intention with the title was to recreate the best-looking 60Hz console shooter and on Switch, that isn't the case, with the experience pared back to half-refresh. Our session with the game was entirely in handheld mode and it still played well, with a mostly consistent frame-rate smoothed over with the same post-process motion blur found in the original. 30fps though? It's a reduction in fidelity that many won't be able to get past - but of course, it's what makes this port possible in the first place.

Bearing in mind that our observations are limited to handheld play, along with just 25 seconds of capture shown in last week's Nintendo Direct (curiously, the Japanese broadcast had some extra footage), this preview can't be exhaustive or definitive. However, there are some basic observations here: firstly, resolution is low - possibly very low. Harsh saw-tooth edges are smoothed off with what we suspect is the 8x temporal super-sampling anti-aliasing used in the original game. Doom was always soft but the Switch rendition is its blurriest presentation yet. We can't be entirely certain, but some areas of gameplay are blurrier than others, suggesting dynamic resolution scaling - a feature in place on all console versions to date.

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Categories: Video Games

The CCleaner Malware Fiasco Targeted at Least 20 Specific Tech Firms

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 16:00
An anonymous reader shares a report: Hundreds of thousands of computers getting penetrated by a corrupted version of an ultra-common piece of security software was never going to end well. But now it's becoming clear exactly how bad the results of the recent CCleaner malware outbreak may be. Researchers now believe that the hackers behind it were bent not only on mass infections, but on targeted espionage that tried to gain access to the networks of at least 20 tech firms. Earlier this week, security firms Morphisec and Cisco revealed that CCleaner, a piece of security software distributed by Czech company Avast, had been hijacked by hackers and loaded with a backdoor that evaded the company's security checks. It wound up installed on more than 700,000 computers. On Wednesday, researchers at Cisco's Talos security division revealed that they've now analyzed the hackers' "command-and-control" server to which those malicious versions of CCleaner connected. On that server, they found evidence that the hackers had attempted to filter their collection of backdoored victim machines to find computers inside the networks of 20 tech firms, including Intel, Google, Microsoft, Akamai, Samsung, Sony, VMware, HTC, Linksys, D-Link and Cisco itself. In about half of those cases, says Talos research manager Craig Williams, the hackers successfully found a machine they'd compromised within the company's network, and used their backdoor to infect it with another piece of malware intended to serve as a deeper foothold, one that Cisco now believes was likely intended for industrial espionage.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Life is Strange dev Dontnod's Vampyr delayed to 2018

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 15:18

Supernatural adventure RPG Vampyr will now launch in spring 2018, developer Dontnod has decided.

It was previously down for release later this year on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Dontnod is, of course, the developer of the original Life is Strange - and is now also working on a full sequel to that game separate to its current prequel mini-series Before the Storm.

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Categories: Video Games

Tesla Is Working With AMD To Develop Its Own AI Chip For Self-Driving Cars

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Tesla is getting closer to having its own chip for handling autonomous driving tasks in its cars. The carmaker has received back samples of the first implementation of its processor and is now running tests on it, said a source familiar with the matter. The effort to build its own chip is in line with Tesla's push to be vertically integrated and decrease reliance on other companies. But Tesla isn't completely going it alone in chip development, according to the source, and will build on top of AMD intellectual property. On Wednesday Sanjay Jha, CEO of AMD spin-off GlobalFoundries, said at the company's technology conference in Santa Clara, California, that the company is working directly with Tesla. GlobalFoundries, which fabricates chips, has a wafer supply agreement in place with AMD through 2020. Tesla's silicon project is bounding ahead under the leadership of longtime chip architect Jim Keller, the head of Autopilot hardware and software since the departure of Apple veteran Chris Lattner in June. Keller, 57, joined Tesla in early 2016 following two stints at AMD and one at Apple. Keller arrived at Apple in 2008 through its acquisition of Palo Alto Semiconductor and was the designer of Apple's A4 and A5 iPhone chips, among other things. More than 50 people are working on the initiative under Keller, the source said. Tesla has brought on several AMD veterans after hiring Keller, including director Ganesh Venkataramanan, principal hardware engineer Bill McGee and system circuit design lead Dan Bailey.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

How Flying Seriously Messes With Your Mind and Body

Slashdot - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 12:00
dryriver writes: BBC Future has an interesting piece about how traveling in an airliner does strange things to people's minds and bodies, such as far more people starting to cry while watching even mildly emotional movies on airplanes than what is normal, some passengers experiencing decreases in acuity of sight, taste and smell (airline meals are over-seasoned to compensate for this), unusual tiredness or desire to sleep, your skin drying out by up to 37% percent and possibly becoming itchy, and some people breaking wind far more often than they normally would. Here is an excerpt form the report: "There can be no doubt that aircraft cabins are peculiar places for humans to be. They are a weird environment where the air pressure is similar to that atop an 8,000ft-high (2.4km) mountain. The humidity is lower than in some of the world's driest deserts while the air pumped into the cabin is cooled as low as 10C (50F) to whisk away the excess heat generated by all the bodies and electronics onboard. The reduced air pressure on airline flights can reduce the amount of oxygen in passengers' blood between 6 and 25%, a drop that in hospital would lead many doctors to administer supplementary oxygen. There are some studies, however, that show even relatively mild levels of hypoxia (deficiency in oxygen) can alter our ability to think clearly. At oxygen levels equivalent to altitudes above 12,000ft (3.6km), healthy adults can start to show measurable changes in their memory, their ability to perform calculations and make decisions. This is why the aviation regulations insist that pilots must wear supplementary oxygen if the cabin air pressure is greater than 12,500ft. A study in 2007 showed that after about three hours at the altitudes found in airline cabins, people start to complain about feeling uncomfortable."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Mugsters is a physics-based adventure perfect for gifs

Eurogamer - Thu, 21/09/2017 - 11:00

Mugsters is a charming puzzle adventure game seemingly built for gifs.

You play a human who tries to escape from an alien threat across various sandbox levels in single-player and two-player co-op. Expect plenty of physics-based shenanigans and loads of vehicles.

The idea is you experiment with the physics-based environments and complete objectives as you see fit. Using the vehicles, you can batter your way to freedom. There are puzzles to solve, traps to plant, humans to save and crystals to collect.

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Categories: Video Games
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