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Proposed Bill Would Force Arizonians To Pay $250 To Have Their DNA Added To a Database

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 12:00
technology_dude writes: One by one, thresholds are being crossed where the collection and storage of personal data is accepted as routine. Being recorded by cameras at business locations, in public transportation, in schools, churches, and every other place imaginable. Recent headlines include "Singapore Airlines having cameras built into the seat back of personal entertainment systems," and "Arizona considering a bill to force some public workers to give up DNA samples (and even pay for it)." It seems to be a daily occurrence where we have crossed another line in how far we will go to accept massive surveillance as normal. Do we even have a line the sand that we would defend? Do we even see anything wrong with it? Absolute power corrupts absolutely and we continue to give knowledge of our personal lives (power) to others. If we continue down the same path, I suppose we deserve what we get? I want to shout "Stop the train, I want off!" but I fear my plea would be ignored. So who out there is more optimistic than I and can recommend some reading that will give me hope? Bill 1475 was introduced by Republican State Senator David Livingston and would require teachers, police officers, child day care workers, and many others to submit their DNA samples along with fingerprints to be stored in a database maintained by the Department of Public Safety. "While the database would be prohibited from storing criminal or medical records alongside the DNA samples, it would require the samples be accompanied by the person's name, Social Security number, date of birth and last known address," reports Gizmodo. "The living will be required to pay [a $250 processing fee] for this invasion of their privacy, but any dead body that comes through a county medical examiner's office would also be fair game to be entered into the database."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

How Viktor Antonov turned from building cities to planets

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 10:00

Viktor Antonov hasn't built a world like this before.

The games you know him for are bounded and largely linear. Every tiny detail has been touched by a human hand in Half-Life 2's City 17 or Dishonored's Dunwall, striking virtual places which Antonov has helped colour with particular social histories and inscribed with visual techniques that quietly guide the player to the next checkpoint. That's also true of other games that he's been involved with over the past few years, such as Wolfenstein: The New Order, Prey and Doom, on which Antonov acted as visual design director.

But Project C, as the game is currently codenamed, is very different. "It's one of the most ambitious projects I've worked on and, I have to admit, a fairly difficult one for me," he says.

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Categories: Video Games

Neuroscientists Say They've Found An Entirely New Form of Neural Communication

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 09:00
Scientists think they've identified a previously unknown form of neural communication that self-propagates across brain tissue, and can leap wirelessly from neurons in one section of brain tissue to another -- even if they've been surgically severed. The discovery offers some radical new insights about the way neurons might be talking to one another, via a mysterious process unrelated to conventionally understood mechanisms, such as synaptic transmission, axonal transport, and gap junction connections. ScienceAlert reports: "We don't know yet the 'So what?' part of this discovery entirely," says neural and biomedical engineer Dominique Durand from Case Western Reserve University. "But we do know that this seems to be an entirely new form of communication in the brain, so we are very excited about this." To that end, Durand and his team investigated slow periodic activity in vitro, studying the brain waves in This neural activity can actually be modulated - strengthened or blocked - by applying weak electrical fields and could be an analogue form of another cell communication method, called ephaptic coupling. The team's most radical finding was that these electrical fields can activate neurons through a complete gap in severed brain tissue, when the two pieces remain in close physical proximity. slices extracted from decapitated mice. What they found was that slow periodic activity can generate electric fields which in turn activate neighboring cells, constituting a form of neural communication without chemical synaptic transmission or gap junctions. "To ensure that the slice was completely cut, the two pieces of tissue were separated and then rejoined while a clear gap was observed under the surgical microscope," the authors explain in their paper. "The slow hippocampal periodic activity could indeed generate an event on the other side of a complete cut through the whole slice." The findings are reported in The Journal of Physiology.

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FDA Warns Against Using Young Blood As Medical Treatment

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Tuesday against using plasma infusions from young blood donors to ward off the effects of normal aging as well as other more serious conditions. Plasma, the liquid portion of the blood, contains proteins that help clot blood. The infusions are promoted to treat a variety of conditions, including normal aging and memory loss as well as serious conditions such as dementia, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. "There is no proven clinical benefit of infusion of plasma from young donors to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent these conditions, and there are risks associated with the use of any plasma product," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb wrote in a statement Tuesday. "The reported uses of these products should not be assumed to be safe or effective," he added, noting that the FDA "strongly" discourages consumers from using this therapy "outside of clinical trials under appropriate institutional review board and regulatory oversight." Gottlieb said that "a growing number of clinics" are offering plasma from young donors and similar therapies, though he did not name any in particular.

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Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 Modem Is the 4G/5G Solution We've Been Waiting For

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 04:50
Qualcomm has unveiled its latest 5G modem, the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55. The chip is the company's second-generation 5G modem and successor to the Snapdragon X50 that was announced back in 2017. "Headline features of this new chip include multi-mode 4G and 5G in a single chip, blazing fast 7Gbps speeds, and futureproof support for the 5G Standalone specification," reports Android Authority. From the report: Starting with 5G, the chip supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrum, just like its predecessor. Theoretical peak speeds are boosted from 5Gbps to 7Gbps download and up to 3Gbps upload. However, you'll need a perfect alignment of network conditions and capabilities to reach such lofty speeds. More important is the introduction of 5G FDD support. This will be crucial in Europe and other places looking to free up low-frequency spectrum (600 to 900MHz) for 5G. The Snapdragon X55 also introduces 4G/5G spectrum sharing, 100MHz envelope tracking for better power management, and antenna tuning in the sub-6GHz region. All very handy improvements over its first generation 5G modem. Perhaps the biggest point of all is that the X55 also supports the 5G Standalone (SA) specification. First-generation 5G networks and devices are all based on the earlier Non-Standalone (NSA) specification. Eventually, these will transition over to the SA standard. SA ditches the use of LTE networks for backend communication, transitioning over entirely to 5G. This opens up greater networking flexibility with Network Slicing and offers even lower latency for IoT and device-to-device communication. On the 4G side, the Snapdragon X55 supports the Category 22 LTE standard. This allows for peak throughput of 2.5Gbps, making it Qualcomm's most powerful 4G solution to date. The Snapdragon X55 also introduces Full Dimensional MIMO (FD-MIMO) for LTE. This includes 3D beamforming, allowing for improved elevation support to improve spectrum efficiency. Importantly, the Snapdragon X55 is built on a 7nm process rather than 10nm with the X50. The new modem isn't expected to appear in devices until late 2019 at the earliest. Android Authority suggests that the X55 will be featured inside 2019's next-gen Snapdragon 8XX processor, which should be officially announced at the end of the year, close to when Qualcomm expects the first X55 products. "In addition to the new modem, Qualcomm also announced its second-generation mmWave antenna and will be demoing its 5G technologies at MWC," reports Android Authority. "Dubbed the QTM525, the latest antenna module is slightly slimmer than the previous design and can be built into phones thinner than 8mm thick. It now covers 26, 28, and 39GHz mmWave spectrum and Qualcomm continues to suggest that three or four of these will be needed per 5G phone."

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China Has Abandoned a Cybersecurity Truce With the US, Report Says

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 04:10
Cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike says China has largely abandoned a hacking truce negotiated by Barack Obama as President Trump embarked on a trade war with Beijing last year. "A slowdown in Chinese hacking following the cybersecurity agreement Obama's administration secured in 2015 appears to have been reversed, the firm said in a report released Tuesday that reviewed cyber activity by U.S. adversaries in 2018," reports Bloomberg. From the report: The report comes as the Trump administration seeks to reach a trade deal with China, including provisions on intellectual property theft, ahead of a March 1 deadline. Trump has said he may extend that deadline and hold off on increasing tariffs on Chinese imports if there's progress in the talks. China's hacking targets in 2018 included telecommunications systems in the U.S. and Asia, according to Crowdstrike. Groups linked to Iran and Russia also appeared to target telecommunications, a sector that yields "the most bang for your buck" for hackers due to the large number of users that can be accessed after breaching a single network, Meyers said. The findings align with concern in the U.S. about telecommunications security as the country transitions to the next generation of mobile networks and the Trump administration seeks to secure so-called 5G technology from foreign intelligence gathering. The administration has expressed particular concern about the spread of products made by the Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co. The report also mentions the increased cyber activity in other parts of the world. "Iran focused much of its cyber activity on Middle Eastern and North African countries while Russia engaged in intelligence collection and information operations worldwide," the report says. "North Korea deployed hackers for financial gain and intelligence collection, while China targeted sectors including technology, manufacturing and hospitality."

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'Samsung's One UI Is the Best Software It's Ever Put On a Smartphone'

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 03:30
In preparation for the Galaxy S10 launch event tomorrow, The Verge's Dieter Bohn writes about the new "One UI" software that will run on these new phones. After testing the software on a Galaxy S9 for the past week, Bohn says he really likes it, adding that it's better in some ways than the software found on Google's Pixel 3. "If it weren't for the fact that I don't yet trust Samsung to deliver major software updates quickly, I would be shouting about One UI from the rooftops," writes Bohn. "As it is, I just want to point out that it's time for us to stop instinctively turning our noses up at Samsung's version of Android." From the report: I can't go quite so far as to say that everything has changed forever when it comes to Samsung's customizations. There are still multiple versions of some apps because both Google and Samsung insist on having their software present. Samsung phones also have a reputation for getting a little laggy (the technical term is cruft) over time, and I don't know yet whether One UI and Android 9 will suffer the same fate. But I do know that one week in, this OS actually feels intentional and designed instead of just having a bunch of features tacked on. Historically, we've thought of all those customizations as unnecessary add-ons. But that's not quite right anymore -- customizing AOSP is necessary these days. Instead, we should judge a Samsung phone on its own merits as a phone, not as stuff bolted on to some idealized "pure" version of the phone that can't really exist anymore. One UI consists of four key parts. One is the basic update to Android 9 Pie, which means you'll get a ton of small features for free. Second, there is a generalized update to the look and feel -- everything is just a little cleaner and more tasteful than before. Samsung has realized that neon is only cool in small doses. Third, because this is Samsung, there are just a million features hidden in every corner of the OS. Some of them -- like a dark mode -- are genuinely useful. Others will remind people of the bad old days of TouchWiz. But overall Samsung is doing a better job of surfacing them progressively as you use the phone, instead of asking you to wade though arcane and opaquely named settings screens in the first 15 minutes of using the phone. The last big feature to talk about in One UI is the first one most people will notice: big, giant header text inside apps. When you open up an app like Messages or Settings you'll see the name of the app in a field of white (or black, in dark mode) that takes up the entire top half of the screen. When you scroll, though, the giant header shrinks down and you have a full screen of content. The last big feature to talk about in One UI is the first one most people will notice: big, giant header text inside apps. When you open up an app like Messages or Settings you'll see the name of the app in a field of white (or black, in dark mode) that takes up the entire top half of the screen. When you scroll, though, the giant header shrinks down and you have a full screen of content.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

How Streaming Music Could Be Harming the Planet

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 02:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Current digital technology gives us flawless music quality without physical deterioration. Music is easy to copy and upload, and can be streamed online without downloading. Since our digital music is less tangible than vinyl or CDs, surely it must be more environmentally friendly? Even though new formats are material-free, that doesn't mean they don't have an environmental impact. The electronic files we download are stored on active, cooled servers. The information is then retrieved and transmitted across the network to a router, which is transferred by wi-fi to our electronic devices. This happens every time we stream a track, which costs energy. Once vinyl or a CD is purchased, it can be played over and over again, the only carbon cost coming from running the record player. However, if we listen to our streamed music using a hi-fi sound system it's estimated to use 107 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, costing about $20 to run. A CD player uses 34.7 kilowatt hours a year and costs about $7 to run. So, which is the greener option? It depends on many things, including how many times you listen to your music. If you only listen to a track a couple of times, then streaming is the best option. If you listen repeatedly, a physical copy is best -- streaming an album over the internet more than 27 times will likely use more energy than it takes to produce and manufacture a CD. If you want to reduce your impact on the environment, then vintage vinyl could be a great physical option. For online music, local storage on phones, computers or local network drives keeps the data closer to the user and will reduce the need for streaming over distance from remote severs across a power-hungry network.

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Grand Canyon Visitors May Have Been Exposed To Radiation For Years

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 02:10
joeflies writes: Park safety manager Elston Stephenson provides details about buckets of uranium that exposed visitors to radiation, and the subsequent cover up. The radiation was detected by a teenager that brought a Geiger counter to the building, and was subsequently "cleaned" up by employees equipped with dish washing gloves and a broken mop handle. "If you were in the Museum Collections Building (2C) between the year 2000 and June 18, 2018, you were 'exposed' to uranium by OSHA's definition," Stephenson wrote. "The radiation readings, at first blush, exceeds (sic) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's safe limits. [...] Identifying who was exposed, and your exposure level, gets tricky and is our next important task." Stephenson said he had repeatedly asked National Park executives to inform the public, but never got a response. "According to Stephenson, the uranium specimens had been in a basement at park headquarters for decades and were moved to the museum building when it opened, around 2000," reports AZCentral. "One of the buckets was so full that its lid would not close. Stephenson said the containers were stored next to a taxidermy exhibit, where children on tours sometimes stopped for presentations, sitting next to uranium for 30 minutes or more. By his calculation, those children could have received radiation dosages in excess of federal safety standards within three seconds, and adults could have suffered dangerous exposure in less than a half-minute."

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Furi developer teases romantic sci-fi co-op adventure Haven

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 01:32

Developer The Game Bakers, responsible for 2016's gloriously psychedelic arcade boss-rush adventure Furi, has unveiled its next project, Haven.

According to the developer, Haven is an adventure RPG "about everyday love, rebelling against the rules and also, food". It's designed to be played "solo or with a special someone", and there's certainly an unavoidable air of romance around the whole endeavour. "Play as two lovers who escaped to a lost planet," explains Haven's Steam page, "The only thing that matters is to stay together".

Haven's teaser trailer is equally emotive, showing our lovebirds drifting serenely across a vibrantly hued landscape before stopping for a quick snog beneath striking skies:

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Categories: Video Games

Hollywood Tries To Cripple Several Alleged Pirate TV Services In One Lawsuit

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 01:30
The major Hollywood movie studios last week filed a copyright infringement suit against Omniverse One World Television Inc., which provides streaming video to several online TV services. Omniverse claims to have legal rights to the content, but the studios say it doesn't. Ars Technica reports: The complaint was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros. The studios previously used lawsuits to shut down the maker of a streaming device called the Dragon Box and another called TickBox. The studios' new lawsuit says that Omniverse supplied content to Dragon Box and to other alleged pirate services that are still operating. Services using Omniverse content are advertised as "Powered by Omniverse." Besides Dragon Box, they include "SkyStream TV, Flixon TV, and Silicon Dust's HDHomeRun Service," according to the lawsuit. SkyStream, for example, offers more than 70 live TV channels for $35 a month, while pricier packages, according to the complaint, also include premium channels such as HBO. SkyStream's website says its service "is delivered In Cooperation with Omniverse One World Television." According to its website, Omniverse "partners with key distributors across the USA to empower end users with the ability to view their favorite TV channels with no contracts, no credit checks, and no long-term obligations." [T]he movie studios' lawsuit alleges that Omniverse has no rights to distribute their video content. While Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube TV, and other legitimate streaming services purchase rights to the content, Omniverse has not, the lawsuit said. The complaint asks for an injunction shutting the company down and damages of up to $150,000 for each infringed work. "Defendant Jason DeMeo and his company, Omniverse, stream Plaintiffs' copyrighted movies and television shows without authorization to an already large, and rapidly growing, number of end users," the lawsuit said. "Defendants are not, however, just an infringing, consumer-facing service, akin to Dragon Box. Defendants operate at a higher level in the supply chain of infringing content -- recruiting numerous downstream services like Dragon Box into the illicit market and providing them with access to unauthorized streams of copyrighted content. Defendants function as a 'hub' of sorts, with the enlisted downstream services as the 'spokes.' Omniverse's offering is illegal, it is growing, and it undermines the legitimate market for licensed services."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The US Cannot Crush Us, Says Huawei Founder

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 00:50
The founder of Huawei has said there is "no way the US can crush" the company, in an interview with the BBC. From the report: Ren Zhengfei, founder and president of Huawei, described the arrest of his daughter Meng Wanzhou, the company's chief financial officer, as politically motivated. The US is pursuing criminal charges against Huawei and Ms Meng, including money laundering, bank fraud and stealing trade secrets. Huawei denies any wrongdoing. Mr Ren spoke to the BBC's Karishma Vaswani in his first international broadcast interview since Ms Meng was arrested -- and dismissed the pressure from the US. "There's no way the US can crush us," he said. "The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit." However, he acknowledged that the potential loss of custom could have a significant impact. [...] Mr Ren warned that "the world cannot leave us because we are more advanced". "If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine. And if the North goes dark, there is still the South. America doesn't represent the world. America only represents a portion of the world."

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House Opens Inquiry Into Proposed US Nuclear Venture In Saudi Arabia

Slashdot - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 00:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: President Trump's former national security adviser and other White House officials pushed a venture to bring nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia over repeated legal and ethical warnings that potential conflicts of interest around the plan could put American security at risk, concluded a new report from House Democrats released on Tuesday. The 24-page report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee outlined actions taken in the early weeks of the Trump administration to secure government backing to have American companies build dozens of nuclear power plants across Saudi Arabia, potentially at the risk of spreading nuclear weapons technology. But House Democrats said there was evidence that as recently as last week, the White House was still considering the proposal. Claims presented by whistle-blowers and White House documents obtained by the committee show that the company backing the nuclear plan, IP3 International, and its allies in the White House were working so closely that the company sent a draft memo to the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, to circulate just days after the inauguration. Mr. Flynn had worked on the plan for IP3 during the Trump campaign and transition, the Democrats said, and continued to advocate for it in the White House. Even after Mr. Flynn left the White House in February 2017, officials on the National Security Council pushed ahead, the Democrats said, ignoring advice from the N.S.C.'s ethics counsel and other lawyers to cease all work on the plan because of potentially illegal conflicts. At a March 2017 meeting, a National Security Council aide tried to revive the IP3 plan "so that Jared Kushner can present it to the President for approval," the Democratic report said, a reference to Mr. Trump's son-in-law and top adviser. The draft memo also referenced another close Trump associate, Thomas J. Barrack, who served as chairman of the president's inaugural committee. It said that Mr. Trump had appointed Mr. Barrack as a special representative to implement the plan, which it called "the Middle East Marshall Plan." The memo also directed agencies to support Mr. Barrack's efforts.

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PUBG Mobile's Resident Evil 2 crossover event is now live

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/02/2019 - 00:09

PUBG Mobile just got a little bit zombier, thanks to its new Resident Evil 2 crossover event, which is now live.

Known as Zombie: Survive Till Dawn, the limited-time event takes place on PUBG's Erangel map and offers a PvE twist on the usual Battle Royale shenanigans. Matches unfold over three days and two nights, squeezed into one 30 minute round, and shake things up by introducing undead hordes from the Resident Evil 2 universe, including the likes of police zombies and Lickers, into the world.

As such, competitors will need to worry about zombies and other players as they fight to survive. Thankfully, though, the undead are relatively docile by day, enabling players to go about their usual Battle Royale business with only mild interruption.

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Categories: Video Games

Linux Subsystem Files To Become Accessible via Windows File Explorer

Slashdot - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 23:30
One of Windows Subsystem for Linux's more annoying tricks is it's hard to get at your Linux files from Windows. From a report: Oh, you can do it, but you take a real chance of ruining the files. To quote Microsoft, "DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, access, create, and/or modify files in your distro's filesystem using Windows apps, tools, scripts, consoles, etc." In the forthcoming Windows 10 April 2019 Update, aka Windows 10 19H1, this Linux file problem will finally be fixed. According to Craig Loewen, a Microsoft programming manger working on Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), "The next Windows update is coming soon and we're bringing exciting new updates to WSL with it! These include accessing the Linux file system from Windows, and improvements to how you manage and configure your distros in the command line."

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Middle-Age Men Who Can Do 40+ Push-Ups Have Lower Heart Disease Risk, Study Finds

Slashdot - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 22:50
A new study finds that active middle aged men who can do more than 40 push-ups at a time have a significantly lower risk of heart disease. From a report: Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health followed more than 1,100 middle-aged male firefighters over a decade. They looked at two specific measures: how many push-ups they could do and their exercise tolerance on a treadmill. They found that men who could do more than 40 push-ups had a 96-percent lower risk of heart disease than those who could do no more than 10 and their ability to do push-ups was a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than their stamina on a treadmill test.

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Trump Directs Pentagon To Create Space Force Legislation for Congress

Slashdot - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 21:46
President Donald Trump signed a directive on Tuesday that ordered the Department of Defense to create a Space Force as a sixth military branch. From a report: With a directive signed Tuesday, Mr. Trump was positioning the Space Force much as the Marine Corps fits into the Navy, officials said, with the result being lower costs and less bureaucracy. The plan would require congressional approval. Mr. Trump is to propose funding in his proposed 2020 budget, and spell out a goal of eventually establishing the Space Force as a separate military department, a senior administration official said. "Space, that's the next step and we have to be prepared," said Mr. Trump, who added that adversaries were training forces and developing technology. "I think we'll have great support from Congress." The order Mr. Trump signed, Space Policy Directive 4, calls for a legislative proposal by the secretary of defense to establish a chief of staff of the Space Force within the Air Force. That officer would be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to an outline. There also be a new under secretary of defense for space to be appointed by the president. The proposal calls for the Space Force to organize, train and equip personnel to defend the U.S. in space, to provide independent military options for "joint and national leadership" and "enable the lethality and effectiveness of the joint force," according to the administration's outline.

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Analysis of Four-Day Working Week Trial by a New Zealand Financial Services Company Finds Staff Were Happier and 20% More Productive

Slashdot - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 21:35
AmiMoJo shares a report: The founder of one of the first big companies to switch to a four-day working week has called on others to follow, claiming it has resulted in a 20% increase in productivity, appeared to have helped increase profits and boosted staff wellbeing. Analysis of one of the biggest trials yet of the four-day working week has revealed no fall in output, reduced stress and increased staff engagement, fuelling hopes that a better work-life-balance for millions could be in sight. Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand financial services company, switched its 240 staff from a five-day to a four-day week last November and maintained their pay. Productivity increased in the four days they worked so there was no drop in the total amount of work done, a study of the trial released on Tuesday has revealed. The trial was monitored by academics at the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology. Among the Perpetual Guardian staff they found scores given by workers about leadership, stimulation, empowerment and commitment all increased compared with a 2017 survey. Details of an earlier trial showed the biggest increases were in commitment and empowerment. Staff stress levels were down from 45% to 38%. Work-life balance scores increased from 54% to 78%. "This is an idea whose time has come," said Andrew Barnes, Perpetual Guardian's founder and chief executive. "We need to get more companies to give it a go. They will be surprised at the improvement in their company, their staff and in their wider community."

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Brutal Lovecraft-inspired RPG Darkest Dungeon is getting a sequel

Eurogamer - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 21:28

Developer Red Hook Studios has announced that it's working on a sequel to its brilliant but brutal Lovecraft-inspired RPG, Darkest Dungeon.

The original game released in 2016, and tasked players with exploring numerous trap-infested environs, seeking out riches, and battling - in time-honoured turn-based fashion - a relentless procession of cosmic horrors. Each encounter with the unknown would send adventurers in a party to the brink of madness, eventually lumbering them with (usually) negative quirks and making future excursions that much harder.

As a result, downtime in between missions became a game of party management, hiring fresh faces or making use of local amenities - be they the brothel or local chapel - to hopefully mitigate the adverse effects suffered by more experienced, and thus more powerful, adventurers. The balancing act between deeper exploration and hero preservation was never less than stressful.

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Categories: Video Games

Google's Waymo Risks Repeating Silicon Valley's Most Famous Blunder

Slashdot - Tue, 19/02/2019 - 20:46
An anonymous reader shares a report: Everyone in Silicon Valley knows the story of Xerox inventing the modern personal computer in the 1970s and then failing to commercialize it effectively. Yet one of Silicon Valley's most successful companies, Google's Alphabet, appears to be repeating Xerox's mistake with its self-driving car program. Xerox launched its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1970. By 1975, its researchers had invented a personal computer with a graphical user interface that was almost a decade ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the commercial version of this technology wasn't released until 1981 and proved to be an expensive flop. Two much younger companies -- Apple and Microsoft -- co-opted many of Xerox's ideas and wound up dominating the industry. Google's self-driving car program, created in 2009, appears to be on a similar trajectory. By October 2015, Google was confident enough in its technology to put a blind man into one of its cars for a solo ride in Austin, Texas. But much like Xerox 40 years earlier, Google has struggled to bring its technology to market. The project was rechristened Waymo in 2016, and Waymo was supposed to launch a commercial driverless service by the end of 2018. But the service Waymo launched in December was not driverless and barely commercial. It had a safety driver in every vehicle, and it has only been made available to a few hundred customers.

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