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'It Just Seems That Nobody is Interested in Building Quality, Fast, Efficient, Lasting, Foundational Stuff Anymore'

Slashdot - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 17:20
Nikita Prokopov, a software programmer and author of Fira Code, a popular programming font, AnyBar, a universal status indicator, and some open-source Clojure libraries, writes: Remember times when an OS, apps and all your data fit on a floppy? Your desktop todo app is probably written in Electron and thus has userland driver for Xbox 360 controller in it, can render 3d graphics and play audio and take photos with your web camera. A simple text chat is notorious for its load speed and memory consumption. Yes, you really have to count Slack in as a resource-heavy application. I mean, chatroom and barebones text editor, those are supposed to be two of the less demanding apps in the whole world. Welcome to 2018. At least it works, you might say. Well, bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger means someone has lost control. Bigger means we don't know what's going on. Bigger means complexity tax, performance tax, reliability tax. This is not the norm and should not become the norm. Overweight apps should mean a red flag. They should mean run away scared. 16Gb Android phone was perfectly fine 3 years ago. Today with Android 8.1 it's barely usable because each app has become at least twice as big for no apparent reason. There are no additional functions. They are not faster or more optimized. They don't look different. They just...grow? iPhone 4s was released with iOS 5, but can barely run iOS 9. And it's not because iOS 9 is that much superior -- it's basically the same. But their new hardware is faster, so they made software slower. Don't worry -- you got exciting new capabilities like...running the same apps with the same speed! I dunno. [...] Nobody understands anything at this point. Neither they want to. We just throw barely baked shit out there, hope for the best and call it "startup wisdom." Web pages ask you to refresh if anything goes wrong. Who has time to figure out what happened? Any web app produces a constant stream of "random" JS errors in the wild, even on compatible browsers. [...] It just seems that nobody is interested in building quality, fast, efficient, lasting, foundational stuff anymore. Even when efficient solutions have been known for ages, we still struggle with the same problems: package management, build systems, compilers, language design, IDEs. Build systems are inherently unreliable and periodically require full clean, even though all info for invalidation is there. Nothing stops us from making build process reliable, predictable and 100% reproducible. Just nobody thinks it's important. NPM has stayed in "sometimes works" state for years.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Apple's New Strategy: Sell Pricier iPhones First

Slashdot - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 16:40
The staggered release gives the company a month to sell higher-end models without cheaper competition from itself. WSJ: This year, according to people familiar with Apple's production plans, the company prioritized production of its two pricier OLED models, the iPhone XS and XS Max, whose prices start at about $1,000. Both will hit stores Friday, followed five weeks later by the least expensive new model, the XR, which has an LCD screen and a starting price of $749. The staggered release gives Apple a month to sell the higher-end models without cheaper competition from itself. It also simplifies logistics and retail demands and could strengthen Apple's ability to forecast sales and production of all three models through the Christmas holidays, analysts and supply chain experts said. "It's sort of a Dutch auction," said Josh Lowitz, co-founder of research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, referring to the practice of starting with a high asking price, then lowering it until a buyer accepts. "The people who are most committed will pay to get early access. Then you get to the people who are making a choice and may settle for the $750 phone. This could become the new normal."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Fortnite season six release date announced

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 16:21

After plenty of speculation about when Fortnite's next season would arrive - and some even suggesting it could be severely delayed - Epic has announced season six is arriving next week.

Players will finally be able to discover the next chapter in the Fortnite story on September 27th. Until then, you may want to make the most of the last days of season five: there's a whopping 400 per cent match XP boost in action this weekend to help you reach those higher levels. Unfortunately no amount of XP boost can save me from my terrible building skills. RIP my dreams of reaching level 100.

It's still something of a mystery as to what this season's theme will be, but given the cube recently transformed Loot Lake into a giant trampoline, it could be related to this in-game event. Other fan theories have hypothesised a dark mirror world with lava, while the Fortnite account also teased a "frozen forewarning" skin earlier today. Fire and ice, anyone?

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Categories: Video Games

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Predicts the Internet Will Split in Two By 2028 -- and One Part Will Be Led By China

Slashdot - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 16:00
Speaking at a private event in San Francisco this week, Eric Schmidt said he believes within the next decade there will be two distinct internets: one led by the U.S. and the other by China. At the event, economist Tyler Cowen asked, "What are the chances that the internet fragments over the years?" To which former Google CEO said: I think the most likely scenario now is not a splintering, but rather a bifurcation into a Chinese-led internet and a non-Chinese internet led by America. If you look at China, and I was just there, the scale of the companies that are being built, the services being built, the wealth that is being created is phenomenal. Chinese Internet is a greater percentage of the GDP of China, which is a big number, than the same percentage of the US, which is also a big number. If you think of China as like 'Oh yeah, they're good with the Internet,' you're missing the point. Globalization means that they get to play too. I think you're going to see fantastic leadership in products and services from China. There's a real danger that along with those products and services comes a different leadership regime from government, with censorship, controls, etc. Look at the way BRI works -- their Belt and Road Initiative, which involves 60-ish countries -- it's perfectly possible those countries will begin to take on the infrastructure that China has with some loss of freedom.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

FIFA 19's The Journey begins with an awesome throwback to 60s football and some legendary commentary

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 15:00

FIFA 19's story mode, The Journey begins with a super cool nod to 1960s football.

THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD.

Champions, which concludes The Journey trilogy, begins with a match set in the late 60s. You play as Jim Hunter, Alex Hunter's grandfather, who turns out in the colours of your favourite team (in my case, Chelsea) away at Coventry. Hunter's on the hunt for his hundredth career goal. Bit of a legend, is old Jim.

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Categories: Video Games

I miss getting stuck in Tomb Raider games

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 15:00

Whenever I hear someone talking about the great old days of games, back when the designers would just chuck you right into the middle of it all ("Getting stuck on a puzzle?" I once heard Tim Schafer say, "We used to call that content"), I think of one game that did just this, and very literally. About a third of the way into Tomb Raider 2, Lara Croft goes for a short ride on a submarine. The ride is short because the submarine crashes or explodes or something wretched and annoying like that. Anyway, the cutscene ends ambiguously and then the next level begins and...well, total darkness. Or just about. You're floating at the bottom of the ocean surrounded by shadows and water and not much else. There is, initially at least, very little suggestion of where to go. My sense, upon first encountering this level, was that the game had broken itself in a very unusual way: it had broken itself in that the setting had survived but the game had somehow run out of narrative to fill it with. It was like the designers had downed tools and backed away.

I died and died and died at the bottom of the ocean. But then I started to experiment. Eventually I found a series of oil drums or whatnot on the seafloor - a guide of sorts. I followed the trail and - after dying and repeating a few more times - I was inside a sunken ship, enjoying a handy pocket of air. This sequence sounds awful, probably, but it was brilliant. Weirdly, it is probably my favourite moment of all Tomb Raider moments.

The idea that games used to be better when they were harder and more obscure is one of the more annoying conversational gambits out there. The terms are vague - there are so many ways for a game to be hard, not all of them intentional or laudable - and I don't think I agree with the premise in the first place. But there is one series where I think it's absolutely true, for me at least. I really miss getting incredibly stuck in Tomb Raider.

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Categories: Video Games

Microplastics Can Spread Via Flying Insects, Research Shows

Slashdot - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Microplastic can escape from polluted waters via flying insects, new research has revealed, contaminating new environments and threatening birds and other creatures that eat the insects. Scientists fed microplastics to mosquito larvae, which live in water, but found that the particles remained inside the animals as they transformed into flying adults. Other recent research found that half of the mayfly and caddisfly larvae in rivers in Wales contained microplastics. The new study, published in the journal Biology Letters, used Culex pipiens mosquitoes, as they are found across the world in many habitats. The researchers found the larvae readily consumed fluorescent microplastic particles that were 0.0002cm in size. The larvae matured into a non-feeding pupa stage and then emerged as adult mosquitoes, which still had significant microplastic within them. The researchers are now studying if this damages the mosquitoes. Professor Amanda Callaghan, at the University of Reading, UK, says it is "highly likely" that other flying insects that begin as water larvae will also eat and retain microplastics. Furthermore, animals that feed on insects, like birds, bats, and spiders, are likely also consuming microplastics.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

August was Fortnite's biggest month yet

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 14:57

Fortnite had more than 78.3 million players during the month of August, Epic has revealed.

That enormous total is Fortnite's largest ever amount of monthly players - so much for the game slowing down after a year of release.

August wasn't especially eventful in-game - slap bang in the middle of its fifth season, last month saw the battle royale mode's mysterious sky rift close and its hulking purple cube begin rolling around the map.

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Categories: Video Games

Spider-Man PS4 overtakes God of War as the fastest-selling first-party PlayStation game ever

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 14:19

Spider-Man PS4 is the fastest-selling PlayStation first-party game ever.

Insomniac's open-world swing-a-thon sold over 3.3m copies during its first three days on sale, Sony said.

Stephen Turvey, PlayStation's global senior vice president of sales and head of North America business operations, told USA Today Spider-Man "met and exceeded all expectations".

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Categories: Video Games

Fallout 76's map officially named

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 13:34

First, we explored the Capital Wasteland. Next, it was the Commonwealth. Now, we know the next Bethesda Fallout map's name: it's Appalachia!

The name was subtly dropped in a tweet from the Fallout account, along with a strange picture of a guitar sword. Can you slice through people's necks with the strings? Can you play killer riffs in between battles? I have so many questions. One thing that's certain is weapon durability is set to return to Fallout, as the image shows a bar labelled "CND".

Anyway, the name Appalachia makes a lot of sense, as we already know Fallout 76 is set in the hills of West Virginia. For those unfamiliar with American geography, it's undoubtedly inspired by the Appalachian mountain range - much of which (such as the Blue Ridge Mountains) runs through the state. The mountain range is also famous for the Appalachian trail, and I suspect this will feature at some point in the game. People will probably use it as a road for raiding: it's always raiders.

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Categories: Video Games

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 PS4 timed exclusivity down to seven days

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 13:31

Activision's timed exclusivity deal with Sony for Call of Duty continues with Black Ops 4, as expected. But this year it's going to work a little differently.

In a blog post, Activision said "PlayStation 4 players will get to play new content first on PS4 by seven days".

"This means all the playable content coming to the Black Ops universe following launch will land seven days early on PS4, including new specialists and maps, as well as seasonal events. After seven days, all new playable content will come to other platforms."

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Categories: Video Games

Fans think Pokémon Go data just leaked a brand new Pokémon

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 12:52

UPDATE 22/9/18: Yesterday's leaked new Pokémon design has stunned fans by suddenly appearing in the game. What appeared to be a slip-up now looks like a purposeful release, as spawns of the unnamed creature began appearing overnight.

Today is the game's monthly Community Day event, which takes place one day each month over a three hour window. This morning, when the game's Asia/Pacific Community Day hours concluded, spawns of the new Pokémon suddenly flooded the game for 30 minutes. Here in the UK, at the conclusion of the European Community Day hours, the same thing happened.

But any attempt to click on the Pokémon and catch it results in the creature simply turning into a Ditto - the Pokémon which mimics the look of others. While Pokémon Go players can't catch it yet, then, its appearance as a Ditto seems to confirm it is legitimately a new Pokémon design.

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Categories: Video Games

PlayStation Now lets you download games onto your PS4

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 12:14

PlayStation Now lets you download games onto your PS4 in addition to streaming them.

PS Now is Sony's £12.99 a month subscription service, which gives you access to a raft of PS3 and PS4 games such as Bloodborne, as well as classic PS2 titles.

Up to now, it's been a streaming-only service. But as of yesterday, you can download PS4 and PS2 classics as well, putting PS Now more in-line with Microsoft's rival subscription service, Xbox Game Pass.

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Categories: Video Games

Bungie says Destiny 2's most ridiculed weapon is bugged

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 11:38

If you're playing Destiny 2 right now, you probably have Edge Transit. In fact, you've probably had quite a few Edge Transits. It looks like this:

Ever since expansion Forsaken launched, players have reported finding the largely useless legendary class grenade launcher quite a lot. Not just quite a lot - pretty much all of the time.

Edge Transit drops so often, it's become a meme.

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Categories: Video Games

Sega is back in the arcade racing game in the best possible way

Eurogamer - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 09:23

I can honestly say I've rarely been happier this year: walking through a busy Shinjuku arcade, sliding down into an all-new Sega racer and then letting some of the blue-sky goodness and distinguished style wash over me. There's something just right about Sega and arcade racing, and even if it's not exactly been quiet in that regard in recent years - the Initial D series has been bubbling along brilliantly - this feels like a return to an older order, with Sega World Drivers Championship slotting neatly into a lineage that includes the likes of Scud Race.

Like that game, it uses real-life motorsport as a backbone for its racing. Sega World Drivers Championship has been out for a while in Japan - the first location tests took place last summer, while it launched proper back in March - but this is the first time I've had the chance to try it, and in the meantime I've been preparing by developing an obsession with the real-life Super GT series that is Sega's inspiration. A Japan-based series whose profile has been boosted by Jenson Button's participation - and his success, his win in Sugo last weekend his first since the Brazilian Grand Prix back in 2012 - it's nothing short of the best that motorsport has to offer. And if nothing else, it's certainly the maddest.

A hyper-charged take on GT racing, Super GT takes the GT3 cars you might know from the likes of the Blancpain series and mixes in GT500s - mutated beasts that boast outrageous amounts of downforce and whose lap times aren't that short of F1 cars. Not that the GT3 cars are that much more pedestrian: there's a Prius which shares some of its innards with Toyota's LMP1 car, a brutal-looking Subaru BRZ and a Mercedes AMG GT that looks resplendent in its Hatsune Miku livery.

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Categories: Video Games

First Hydrogen-Powered Train Hits the Tracks In Germany

Slashdot - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 09:00
"French train-building company Alstom built two hydrogen-powered trains and delivered them to Germany last weekend, where they'll zoom along a 62-mile stretch of track that runs from the northern cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervorde, and Buxtehude," reports Ars Technica. "The new trains replace their diesel-powered counterparts and are the first of their kind, but they are likely not the last. Alstom is contracted to deliver 14 more hydrogen-powered trains, called Coradia iLint trains, before 2021." From the report: The trains are an initial step toward lowering Germany's transportation-related emissions, a sector that has been intractable for policy makers in the country. But hydrogen fuel faces some chicken-and-egg-type problems. Namely, hydrogen is difficult to store, and making it a truly zero-emissions source of fuel requires renewable electricity to perform water electrolysis. The more common option for creating hydrogen fuel involves natural gas reforming, which is not a carbon-neutral process. The advantages of hydrogen fuel cells are that -- unlike battery-powered vehicles -- refueling a hydrogen-powered vehicle is just as fast as a vehicle powered by fossil fuels. No sitting around and charging overnight is required. Trains tend not to be battery-powered when they're electric, however, because they're so heavy. Electric train systems tend to use catenary systems, with electrified cables providing electricity to the train. But over long distances, setting up an external electricity source can be expensive. Both trains have a reported range of 1,000km (621 miles) and can reach top speeds of 140km/h (87mph). Cost is unknown, although Alstom's press release says that Lower Saxony, the German state where the trains will run, supported the purchase of the 14 additional trains with $94.5 million.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Facebook Will Open a 'War Room' Next Week To Monitor Election Interference

Slashdot - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Sheera Frankel and Mike Isaac [write from The New York Times]: "Sandwiched between Building 20 and Building 21 in the heart of Facebook's campus, an approximately 25-foot by 35-foot conference room is under construction. Thick cords of blue wiring hang from the ceiling, ready to be attached to window-size computer monitors on 16 desks. On one wall, a half dozen televisions will be tuned to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other major cable networks. A small paper sign with orange lettering taped to the glass door describes what's being built: "War Room." Set to open next week, the conference room is in keeping with Facebook's nick-of-time approach to midterm election preparedness. (It introduced a "pilot program" for candidate account security on Monday.) It's a big project. Samidh Chakrabarti, who oversees elections and civic engagement, told the Times: "We see this as probably the biggest companywide reorientation since our shift from desktops to mobile phones." Of course, the effort extends beyond the new conference room. Chakrabarti showed the Times a new internal tool "that helps track information flowing across the social network in real time," helping to identify misinformation as it goes viral or a surge in the creation of new (and likely fake) accounts.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

China Blocks Twitch

Slashdot - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 04:10
After becoming the third most popular free app on China's App Store, Twitch is now no longer accessible and the Twitch app has been removed from the country's App Store. Engadget reports: While Twitch was available in China previously, it never gained much traction since its service is much slower than it is elsewhere. But when the country's CCTV state broadcaster chose not to air the Asian Games, those wanting to watch the event's eSports competitions sought coverage from other outlets. Now, with Twitch seemingly blocked in the country, it follows in the footsteps of other banned sites, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Abacus first reported the news.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Tesla Model 3 Earns Five-Star Crash Safety Rating From NHTSA

Slashdot - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 04:10
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded the Tesla Model 3 with a five-star safety rating -- the highest possible score. This means that every car Tesla has built has earned a five-star rating. Jalopnik reports: The NHTSA tests cover three primary categories: Frontal Crash, Side Crash, and Rollover, and the Model 3 received the highest ratings in all categories. For some categories, it's easy to understand why Teslas do so well. Rollover resistance, for example, makes sense for cars that carry most of their weight at the very bottom, in the batteries sandwiched in the Tesla's chassis design. Other reasons for the remarkable crash safety may be that, without the need for a heavy chunk of metal as a drivetrain, effective and large crumple zones can be designed in, front and rear. The NHTSA has released videos of their frontal collision test, side pole collision test, and side collision test, for those who like watching these sort of things.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Apple Will Judge Call, Email Activity To Assign Users a 'Trust Score'

Slashdot - Fri, 21/09/2018 - 03:30
Apple recently updated its iTunes privacy policy page, making mention of a "trust score" it gives iPhone users on how they make calls or send emails. The INQUIRER reports: "To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase," Apple explained. "The submissions are designed so Apple cannot learn the real values on your device. The scores are stored for a fixed time on our servers." In practical terms, the Cupertino crew will only look at Apple account usage patterns and hoover up metadata rather than more personal, and potentially damning information. [T]he data collection and trust score assigning should help Apple better spot and dodgy activity going on in Apple accounts that aren't in keeping with those of the legitimate users. [I]t's not entirely clear how Apple will use the metadata to actually spot fraud, as it hasn't explained its workings.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff
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