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Will Cape Town be the First City To Run Out of Water?

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 18:00
Cape Town, home to Table Mountain, African penguins, sunshine and sea, is a world-renowned tourist destination. But soon it could also become famous for being the first major city in the world to run out of water. From a report: Most recent projections suggest that its water could run out as early as March. The crisis has been caused by three years of very low rainfall, coupled with increasing consumption by a growing population. The local government is racing to address the situation, with desalination plants to make sea water drinkable, groundwater collection projects, and water recycling programmes. Meanwhile Cape Town's four million residents are being urged to conserve water and use no more than 87 litres (19 gallons) a day. Car washing and filling up swimming pools has been banned.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Ex-Google Employee's Memo Says Executives Shut Down Pro-Diversity Discussions

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 17:21
An anonymous reader shares a report: A memo written by a former Google engineer claims that the company's human resources department and a senior vice president pressured him to stop discussing diversity initiatives on company forums, interactions that ultimately motivated him to leave the company. The document, which was written in 2016 and shared publicly this week, provides a striking counterpoint to allegations made by former Google employees James Damore and David Gudeman in a discrimination lawsuit filed against their former employer. Cory Altheide, the former employee who wrote the memo, began work as a security engineer at Google in 2010 and departed the company in January 2016. He recently published his account in a public Google document. Altheide posted several articles and comments to internal discussion groups that promoted diversity in the workplace and was chastised for doing so, he wrote.

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Cisco Can Now Sniff Out Malware Inside Encrypted Traffic

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 16:41
Simon Sharwood, writing for The Register: Cisco has switched on latent features in its recent routers and switches, plus a cloud service, that together make it possible to detect the fingerprints of malware in encrypted traffic. Switchzilla has not made a dent in transport layer security (TLS) to make this possible. Instead, as we reported in July 2016, Cisco researchers found that malware leaves recognisable traces even in encrypted traffic. The company announced its intention to productise that research last year and this week exited trials to make the service -- now known as Encrypted Traffic Analytics (ETA) -- available to purchasers of its 4000 Series Integrated Service Routers, the 1000-series Aggregation Services Router and the model 1000V Cloud Services Router 1000V. Those devices can't do the job alone: users need to sign up for Cisco's StealthWatch service and let traffic from their kit flow to a cloud-based analytics service that inspects traffic and uses self-improving machine learning algorithms to spot dodgy traffic.

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Join us for the first Eurogamer Community Pub Quiz

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 16:34

Brighton, eh? It sure is some place. Home of course to the mighty Brighton and Hove Albion FC, a slowly eroding burned-out pier, and Fatboy Slim. Noel Gallagher even lived here once, though please don't hold that against the city.

Additionally, though, Brighton is the spiritual and physical home of Eurogamer. We've grown up here, from inside our founder Rupert's parents' garage, to a soon-to-be shiny office in the middle of town. We love it, and we want to do more here.

That's why starting this month, we're going to be running community events throughout the year. It gives us a chance to bring Brighton some much-needed games love, and more importantly, it gives us an excuse to see your lovely faces.

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Categories: Video Games

Detective Pikachu gets worldwide release and a huge amiibo

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 16:28

Detective Pikachu, the bizarre crime-solving Pokémon spin-off for 3DS, is getting a worldwide release and a giant amiibo.

The episodic game will finally see its second episode launch in Japan in March - and a Western release with both episodes included at the same time.

Here's the game's talkative star in his new amiibo form, sat next to the original Smash Bros. series Pika:

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Categories: Video Games

Facebook Overhauls News Feed in Favor of 'Meaningful Social Interactions'

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 16:00
Facebook said late Thursday it will begin to prioritize posts in the News Feed from friends and family over public content and posts from publishers. The company will also move away from using "time spent" on the platform as a metric of success and will instead focus on "engagement" with content, such as comments. From a report: The social media platform will de-prioritize videos, photos, and posts shared by businesses and media outlets, which Zuckerberg dubbed "public content," in favor of content produced by a user's friends and family. "The balance of what's in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do -- help us connect with each other," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post announcing the change. "We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren't just fun to use, but also good for people's well-being."

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AMD Is Releasing Spectre Firmware Updates To Fix CPU Vulnerabilities

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: AMD's initial response to the Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws made it clear "there is a near zero risk to AMD processors." That zero risk doesn't mean zero impact, as we're starting to discover today. "We have defined additional steps through a combination of processor microcode updates and OS patches that we will make available to AMD customers and partners to further mitigate the threat," says Mark Papermaster, AMD's chief technology officer. AMD is making firmware updates available for Ryzen and EPYC owners this week, and the company is planning to update older processors "over the coming weeks." Like Intel, these firmware updates will be provided to PC makers, and it will be up to suppliers to ensure customers receive these. AMD isn't saying whether there will be any performance impacts from applying these firmware updates, nor whether servers using EPYC processors will be greatly impacted or not. AMD is also revealing that its Radeon GPU architecture isn't impacted by Meltdown or Spectre, simply because those GPUs "do not use speculative execution and thus are not susceptible to these threats." AMD says it plans to issue further statements as it continues to develop security updates for its processors.

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PUBG becomes Xbox One sensation surpassing 3 million players in a month

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 13:53

In one month, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - you might have heard of it - has amassed 3 million players on Xbox One. This doesn't equate exactly to sales (as many of you have pointed out - my apologies) as multiple accounts can access a game on an Xbox One. PUBG raced to 1 million players in 48 hours on Xbox One.

Microsoft announced the milestone overnight, clearly pleased with itself for bringing the gaming sensation of 2017 to Xbox One before Sony looks anywhere near doing similar for PlayStation 4.

Remember, PUBG is available unfinished on Xbox One via the Xbox Game Preview programme - a kind of early access service Sony does not offer in any form on PlayStation 4. Microsoft also worked on the Xbox One conversion itself, keen to strike while the iron was hot.

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Categories: Video Games

Sea Turtles Under Threat As Climate Change Turns Most Babies Female

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 13:30
A new study published in the journal Current Biology found that as much as 99 percent of baby green sea turtles in warm equatorial regions are being born female. "The study took a look at turtle populations at nesting sites at Raine Island and Moulter Cay in the northern Great Barrier Reef, an area plagued with unprecedented levels of coral bleaching from high temperatures," reports Futurism. "The researchers compared these populations with sea turtles living at sites in the cooler south." From the report: Using a new, non-invasive hormone test, the researchers from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Department and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection found that while 65 -69 percent of the turtles from the southern region were female, between 86.8 and 99.8 of turtles tested in the northern region were female, depending on age. The sex of green sea turtles, along with some other species of turtles, crocodiles, and alligators, is not regulated by the introduction of sex chromosomes at key points during early development, as seen in humans and other mammals. Their sex is actually influenced by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated, with warmer temperatures more likely to lead to females. The difference between predominately male and predominately female hatchlings is only a few degrees, such as that formerly found between the cool, damp bottom of a sandy sea turtle nest and the sun-warmed top. The ages of the female turtles in the north suggest that this population has experienced temperatures that cause this imbalance since at least the 1990s. Given that the warmer temperatures seen in northern Australia have been distributed around the globe, experts predict that other sea turtle populations in warm regions are also following the same trend.

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Third series of Dara O Briain's Go 8 Bit TV show begins February

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 13:12

The third series of video game TV show Dara O Briain's Go 8 Bit starts 12th February on Dave and runs for 10 episodes over 10 weeks, ending in April. There will be a Best Of episode aired a week earlier, comprising the best bits of the two series so far.

In the third series, Dara O Briain, who's taller than you think, once again hosts a selection of celebrities as they battle through five rounds of video game-based challenges.

Celebs this season include chat show host Jonathan Ross; former model Jodie Kidd, who now owns a pub in West Sussex; former Sky at Night presenter Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock; and Sonia Fowler from yesteryear's EastEnders - Natalie Cassidy. There's a raft of comedians on the bill, too, plus MasterChef's Greg Wallace, who loves a pudding.

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Categories: Video Games

Bungie pledges huge lists of Destiny 2 improvements, will rein in Eververse

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 12:35

Destiny 2, Bungie's beleagured shared world space shooter and fan anger magnet, will get some much-needed changes this year.

The developer has kicked off 2018 with a big list of improvements: some expected additions, some returning Destiny 1 features, and a couple of genuine surprises.

Destiny 2 game director Chris Barrett - now in control of Destiny 2 as head of its live team - opened the blog update by addressing the current sorest point among fans: Eververse, Destiny 2's microtransaction shop.

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Categories: Video Games

Ecuador Grants Citizenship To WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 12:00
hcs_$reboot writes: Ecuador has granted citizenship to Julian Assange, who has been holed up inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over five years. Quito, Ecuador, has said naturalization should provide Assange with another layer of protection. However, naturalization appeared to do little to help the Australian-born WikiLeaks founder's case, with the British foreign ministry stressing that the only way to resolve the issue was for "Assange to leave the embassy to face justice." Earlier on Thursday, Britain said that it had refused a request by Ecuador to grant Assange diplomatic status, which would have granted him special legal immunity and the right to safe passage under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is secretly Nintendo's first Early Access game

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 10:00

It's been six weeks since Nintendo launched Animal Crossing smartphone spin-off Pocket Camp worldwide and I wrote about everything the game lacked. It felt like there was something missing from Pocket Camp - a feeling the app had failed to replicate what had made Animal Crossing so good on GameCube, Wii and 3DS before. Pocket Camp at launch was a disappointingly barebones experience - I described it as "stripped back" - and unrewarding in how it provided a seemingly meaningless parade of rewards in place of the meaningful connections I had made with Animal Crossing townsfolk in the past.

To a greater extent, I still think all of that is true - I'm not still logging in everyday to see how Jay or Kid Cat are doing or which of the limited things in the app they're up to. Is Alfonso sitting on the sofa again? No. But I am still logging in every day. After finishing our review I was more than ready to move Pocket Camp into a folder alongside Miitomo and never boot it up again. And then Nintendo launched the app's Christmas update, and a friend event, and then a whole other set of gameplay and rewards for a garden? And I realised Nintendo wasn't treating this like any other Nintendo game I'd played before. I was playing an early access Nintendo game and watching it evolve in front of me.

Nintendo has embraced a delayed roll-out of game content before, but what makes Pocket Camp different to something like Arms or Splatoon is the way it has branched out with new gameplay entirely. Both Arms and Splatoon doled out a bit more of what they had already - levels, characters - but largely kept within their pre-defined boundaries. Pocket Camp's gardening gameplay is something different. It's actually pretty intricate in how it asks you to plant and harvest seeds, cross-pollinate them to create rarer varieties and care for the flowers of your friends by travelling to their towns, watering can in hand.

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Categories: Video Games

Ice Cliffs Spotted On Mars

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 09:00
sciencehabit writes from a report via Science Magazine: Scientists have discovered eight cliffs of nearly pure water ice on Mars, some of which stand nearly 100 meters tall. The discovery points to large stores of underground ice buried only a meter or two below the surface at surprisingly low martian latitudes, in regions where ice had not yet been detected. Each cliff seems to be the naked face of a glacier, tantalizing scientists with the promise of a layer-cake record of past martian climates and space enthusiasts with a potential resource for future human bases. Scientists discovered the cliffs with a high-resolution camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, revisiting the sites to show their subsequent retreat as a result of vaporization, and their persistence in the martian summer. The hunt should now be on, scientists say, for similar sites closer to the equator. The findings have been reported in this week's issue of Science.

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Hackers Could Blow Up Factories Using Smartphone Apps

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: Two security researchers, Alexander Bolshev of IOActive and Ivan Yushkevich of Embedi, spent last year examining 34 apps from companies including Siemens and Schneider Electric. They found a total of 147 security holes in the apps, which were chosen at random from the Google Play Store. Bolshev declined to say which companies were the worst offenders or reveal the flaws in specific apps, but he said only two of the 34 had none at all. Some of the vulnerabilities the researchers discovered would allow hackers to interfere with data flowing between an app and the machine or process it's linked to. So an engineer could be tricked into thinking that, say, a machine is running at a safe temperature when in fact it's overheating. Another flaw would let attackers insert malicious code on a mobile device so that it issues rogue commands to servers controlling many machines. It's not hard to imagine this causing mayhem on an assembly line or explosions in an oil refinery. The researchers say they haven't looked at whether any of the flaws has actually been exploited. Before publishing their findings, they contacted the companies whose apps had flaws in them. Some have already fixed the holes; many have yet to respond.

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FCC Undoing Rules That Make It Easier For Small ISPs To Compete With Big Telecom

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The Federal Communications Commission is currently considering a rule change that would alter how it doles out licenses for wireless spectrum. These changes would make it easier and more affordable for Big Telecom to scoop up licenses, while making it almost impossible for small, local wireless ISPs to compete. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum is the rather earnest name for a chunk of spectrum that the federal government licenses out to businesses. It covers 3550-3700 MHz, which is considered a "midband" spectrum. It can get complicated, but it helps to think of it how radio channels work: There are specific channels that can be used to broadcast, and companies buy the license to broadcast over that particular channel. The FCC will be auctioning off licenses for the CBRS, and many local wireless ISPs -- internet service providers that use wireless signal, rather than cables, to connect customers to the internet -- have been hoping to buy licenses to make it easier to reach their most remote customers. The CBRS spectrum was designed for Navy radar, and when it was opened up for auction, the traditional model favored Big Telecom cell phone service providers. That's because the spectrum would be auctioned off in pieces that were too big for smaller companies to afford -- and covered more area than they needed to serve their customers. But in 2015, under the Obama administration, the FCC changed the rules for how the CBRS spectrum would be divvied up, allowing companies to bid on the spectrum for a much smaller area of land. Just as these changes were being finalized this past fall, Trump's FCC proposed going back to the old method. This would work out well for Big Telecom, which would want larger swaths of coverage anyway, and would have the added bonus of being able to price out smaller competitors (because the larger areas of coverage will inherently cost more.) As for why the FCC is even considering this? You can blame T-Mobile. "According to the agency's proposal, because T-Mobile and CTIA, a trade group that represents all major cellphone providers, 'ask[ed] the Commission to reexamine several of the [...] licensing rules,'" reports Motherboard. The proposal reads: "Licensing on a census tract-basis -- which could result in over 500,000 [licenses] -- will be challenging for Administrators, the Commission, and licensees to manage, and will create unnecessary interference risks due to the large number of border areas that will need to be managed and maintained."

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Scientists Change Our Understanding of How Anaesthesia Messes With the Brain

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 02:50
schwit1 shares a report from ScienceAlert: It's crazy to think that we still don't quite understand the mechanism behind one of the most common medical interventions -- general anaesthetic. But researchers in Australia just got a step closer by discovering that one of the most commonly used anesthetic drugs doesn't just put us to sleep; it also disrupts communication between brain cells. The team investigated the drug propofol, a super-popular option for surgeries worldwide. A potent sedative, the drug is thought to put us to sleep through its effect on the GABA neurotransmitter system, the main regulator of our sleep-and-wake cycles in the brain. But anyone who's been "put under" will know that waking up from a general anesthetic feels rather different from your usual morning grogginess. On top of that, some people can experience serious side-effects, so scientists have been trying to figure out what else the drugs might be doing in the brain. Using live neuron cell samples from rats and fruit flies, the researchers were able to track neurotransmitter activity thanks to a super-resolution microscope, and discovered that propofol messes with a key protein that nerve cells use to communicate with each other. This protein, called syntaxin1A, isn't just found in animal models - people have it, too. And it looks like the anesthetic drug puts the brakes on this protein, making otherwise normal brain cell connections sluggish, at least for a while. The researchers think this disruption could be key to how propofol allows for pain-free surgery to take place - first it knocks us out as a normal sleeping pill would, and then takes things up a notch by disrupting brain connectivity. The research has been published in Cell Reports.

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South Korea Plans To Ban Cryptocurrency Trading

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 02:10
South Korea's government said on Thursday it plans to ban cryptocurrency trading, sending bitcoin prices plummeting and throwing the virtual coin market into turmoil as the nation's police and tax authorities raided local exchanges on alleged tax evasion. Reuters reports: The clampdown in South Korea, a crucial source of global demand for cryptocurrency, came as policymakers around the world struggled to regulate an asset whose value has skyrocketed over the last year. Justice minister Park Sang-ki said the government was preparing a bill to ban trading of the virtual currency on domestic exchanges. Once a bill is drafted, legislation for an outright ban of virtual coin trading will require a majority vote of the total 297 members of the National Assembly, a process that could take months or even years. The local price of bitcoin plunged as much as 21 percent in midday trade to 18.3 million won (12,730.35 pounds) after the minister's comments. It still trades at around a 30 percent premium compared to other countries.

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Stellaris is ramping up its warfare options in the forthcoming Apocalypse expansion

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 01:30

Paradox Interactive has announced Apocalypse, a new full expansion for its spacebound grand strategy game Stellaris that's focussed almost entirely on warfare.

Apocalypse will bring "new levels of warfare and destruction", according to Paradox, and will introduce additional offensive and defensive military options, civic paths, and challenges, as well as the ability to entirely obliterate enemy planets using the new Colossus weapon.

If you're hankering for even more oversized tools to aid your destructive efforts, you'll be able to acquire enormous capital ships known as Titans, which can "lead your fleets to conquest, offering tremendous bonuses to the vessels under their command." It will also be possible to fortify key systems and secure your homeworld with massive orbital installations.

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Categories: Video Games

TiVo Sues Comcast Again, Alleging Operator's X1 Infringes Eight Patents

Slashdot - Fri, 12/01/2018 - 01:30
TiVo's Rovi subsidiary on Wednesday filed two lawsuits in federal district courts, alleging Comcast's X1 platform infringes eight TiVo-owned patents. "That includes technology covering pausing and resuming shows on different devices; restarting live programming in progress; certain advanced DVR recording features; and advanced search and voice functionality," reports Variety. From the report: A Comcast spokeswoman said the company will "aggressively defend" itself. "Comcast engineers independently created our X1 products and services, and through its litigation campaign against Comcast, Rovi seeks to charge Comcast and its customers for technology Rovi didn't create," the Comcast rep said in a statement. "Rovi's attempt to extract these unfounded payments for its aging and increasingly obsolete patent portfolio has failed to date." TiVo's legal action comes after entertainment-tech vendor Rovi (which acquired the DVR company in 2016 and adopted the TiVo name) sued Comcast and its set-top suppliers in April 2016, alleging infringement of 14 patents. In November 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that Comcast infringed two Rovi patents -- with the cable operator prevailing on most of the patents at issue. However, because one of the TiVo patents Comcast was found to have violated covered cloud-based DVR functions, the cable operator disabled that feature for X1 customers. Comcast is appealing the ITC ruling.

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