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Wednesday October 18, 2017

Big Content Creators Sue TickBox Streaming Device

Netflix, Amazon, and six major studios have gotten together to file suit against TickBox TV as tools for mass infringement. The lawsuit claims the piracy is done from the device linking copyrighted content to streams from the internet. I wonder if the other companies will turn around and sue Amazon for its Fire Sticks and Fire TVs side-loaded with Kodi.

The device's marketing materials let users know the box is meant to replace paid-for content, with "a wink and a nod," by predicting that prospective customers who currently pay for Amazon Video, Netflix, or Hulu will find that "you no longer need those subscriptions."

TickBox is powered by Android 6.0, along with Kodi, an open source media player software. The box doesn't host any content but rather searches the Internet for streams that it can make available to users.

Discussion Posted by seth 12:29 AM (CDT)

Science Fantasy RPG, ELEX is Out

Publisher THQ Nordic has released its latest game ELEX for the masses. Developed by Germany-based Piranha Bytes of Risen and Gothic fame, the studio enters into the science-fantasy genre, which isn't a far cry from its previous franchises. Although rough around the edges, the game does have an in-depth choice system that affects what happens in the campaign -- said every game studio ever.
Discussion Posted by seth 12:10 AM (CDT)
Tuesday October 17, 2017

PayPal Rolls Out Venmo Payments for Online Shopping

More than 2 million US retailers will start accepting Venmo payments for online purchases. Originally started as a platform for friends to pay each other for cab fares or dinners, the digital wallet app as been a part of PayPal since 2013. Users can link cards and bank accounts to shop on most mobile sites that accept PayPal payments. The service has come a long way since its investigation by the FTC.

San Jose, California-based PayPal has been expanding its services to gain advantage over rivals in the digital payments market, particularly in P2P payments, where competition has intensified.

Discussion Posted by seth 11:36 PM (CDT)

Overgrowth Releases After 9 Years of Development

For anyone that has been following Overgrowth's development, I respect your patience. RPS reports after 9 years of development, Overgrowth has finally released. Bunny hop your way as a giant anthropomorphic rabbit across the land and take on baddies with your impressive martial-arts. DRM-free version and a Steam key be purchased at the Wolfire Games.
Discussion Posted by seth 10:30 PM (CDT)

AMDGPU-Pro Beta Mining Driver 17.40 for Linux Notes

AMD released version 17.40 update for AMDGPU-Pro Beta Mining Driver for Linux. Release notes and instructions can be found over here.

Compatible Operating Systems

  • RedHat Enterprise Linux 7.3 (64-bit version)
  • CentOS 7.3 (64-bit version)
  • Ubuntu 16.04.3 (64-bit version)

Introduces Large Page Support for Blockchain Compute Workloads. This driver is provided as a beta level support driver which should be considered "as is" and will not be supported with further updates, upgrades or bug fixes. This driver is not intended for graphics or gaming workloads.

Discussion Posted by seth 9:54 PM (CDT)

IRS Believes 'Significant' Number of Victims Compromised Before Equifax Hack

Not to lessen the impact of the recent Equifax hack, the IRS estimates that more than 100 million Americans already had their personal info stolen before the security breach. The IRS commissioner suggests that Americans should already expect their info to be out there and taxpayers should "act accordingly."

The IRS touted its data security efforts ahead of the 2018 tax filing season on Tuesday during a briefing on the agency's Security Summit, a joint effort with state tax agencies and the private sector launched in 2015.

The tax collection agency boasts about putting extra security measures since 2015. Of course, the agency was breached in 2015 with thieves retrieving information on over 700,000 accounts, more than what was originally speculated.

On Tuesday, Koskinen touted the "tremendous progress" of the initiative to guard against tax-related identity theft, disclosing that the agency has witnessed the number of identity theft-related tax returns decline by two-thirds in two years.

Discussion Posted by seth 8:29 PM (CDT)

Megabots Tonight on Twitch

In a few hours (7PM PDT / 10PM EDT) you can watch Megabots "fight" live on Twitch. While I have high hopes, I am keeping my expectations fairly low.

This is Eagle Prime, America's entrant into the Giant Robot Duel, in its first-ever live-fire combat trial. Eagle Prime is the first MK3-class MegaBot from MegaBots, Inc. It weighs in at 12 tons, stands 16 feet tall, seats two, is powered by a 430 horsepower V8 LS3 engine, and costs a cool $2.5M. Cupholders come standard. Eagle Prime will be representing Team USA in the upcoming Giant Robot Duel against Suidobashi Heavy Industries. Subscribe to this channel to watch the Duel!

Ongoing Discussion Posted by Kyle 5:52 PM (CDT)

DRAM Capacity Crunch Expected to Persist in 2018

According to DRAMeXchange, tight supply conditions that have characterized the DRAM chip market throughout 2017 are expected to persist for much of 2018, with suppliers planning only limited capacity additions. Suppliers will likely adjust their product mixes to allocate more production capacity to server DRAM in 2018 due to increased demand for data center building by technology giants such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

DRAMeXchange also said that prices for mobile DRAM chips are forecast to rise 10 to 15 percent in the fourth quarter, outgrowing the overall DRAM market, as OEMs ramp up production of smartphones. The expected increase will move mobile DRAM prices past PC DRAM prices for the first time this year, the firm said. DRAM prices have risen consistently throughout the year amid a shortage and higher demand created by their use in a greater number of products.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:00 PM (CDT)

EA Shuts Down Visceral Studios

Another EA studio bites the dust: this time, it’s Dead Space’s Visceral Games. They were developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe that was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Apparently, EA did not like how this was going and is now "pivoting the design" to something that sounds multiplayer-ish and ripe for DLC or microtransactions.

A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project. Our Visceral studio will be ramping down and closing, and we’re in the midst of shifting as many of the team as possible to other projects and teams at EA. Lastly, while we had originally expected this game to launch late in our fiscal year 2019, we’re now looking at a new timeframe that we will announce in the future. Bringing new Star Wars games to life for every passionate fan out there is what drives us as creators.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:30 PM (CDT)

ZTE Announces the Axon M, a Folding Phone

ZTE’s Axom M is a foldable, dual-screen phone that transforms into a tiny tablet: two 5.2-inch screens flatten out to give you 6.8 inches of screen real estate. What can you do with double the screens? Open two different apps, for one, each on its own display. You can also fold the phone like a sandwich board and mirror the content of one screen to the other.

ZTE USA announced the upcoming launch of the revolutionary ZTE Axon M with AT&T as the exclusive carrier in the United States available in the next month. The foldable, dual-screen smartphone will also be available to customers in China, Europe and Japan. The ZTE Axon M lets customers multitask and enjoy entertainment in new and exciting ways. The ZTE Axon M is the size of a traditional smartphone when folded, fitting easily into a pocket or purse and functions in four different modes.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:05 PM (CDT)

Intel Unveils the Nervana Neural Network Processor

Intel on Tuesday is taking the wraps off of the Nervana Neural Network Processor (NNP), formerly known as "Lake Crest," a chip three years in the making that's designed expressly for AI and deep learning. Along with explaining its unique architecture, Intel announced that Facebook has been a close collaborator as it prepares to bring the Nervana NNP to market. The chipmaker also laid out the beginnings of a product roadmap.

The Intel Nervana NNP promises to revolutionize AI computing across myriad industries. Using Intel Nervana technology, companies will be able to develop entirely new classes of AI applications that maximize the amount of data processed and enable customers to find greater insights -- transforming their businesses. We have multiple generations of Intel Nervana NNP products in the pipeline that will deliver higher performance and enable new levels of scalability for AI models. This puts us on track to exceed the goal we set last year of achieving 100 times greater AI performance by 2020.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:25 PM (CDT)

First Batch of iPhone Xs Is Reportedly Just 46,500 Units

According to a China-based report, Foxconn Electronics has started shipping iPhone X devices out from Zhengzhou and Shanghai to the Netherlands and United Arab Emirates (UAE): unfortunately, the shipment barely exceeds 46,000 phones. I suspect that we will see some outrageously priced ones on auction sites this holiday season.

The first-batch shipments of the iPhone X units were much lower than the previous iPhone models, which apparently will make the iPhone X one of the most difficult-to-find smartphone these days, according to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report. Although Foxconn has ramped up its output of iPhone X to 400,000 units a week recently from the previous 100,000 units, the increased production still cannot meet market demand, said the report, citing data from Rosenblatt.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:00 PM (CDT)

Fired Tesla Employees Claim Dismissals Were Not Performance Related

The San Jose Mercury News first reported that Tesla had dismissed an estimated 400 to 700 employees, but one former employee, citing internal information shared by a manager, said the total number fired is higher than 700 at this point. Other workers say that those terminated were generally the highest paid in their position, suggesting that the firings were driven by cost-cutting.

That assessment was echoed by several others, including three employees fired from Tesla during this latest wave. Tesla rates employees on a scale from 1 to 5. Two laid-off employees had achieved scores at or above 4 in past performance reviews with their managers, they said. During the performance review period before the mass firings, former employees said Tesla's general manager of services and operations, Karim Bousta, sent out a notice saying reviews had been delayed so employees could focus on ensuring a successful rollout of the Model 3.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:35 PM (CDT)

Google Improves Account Security With "Advanced Protection"

Google is announcing Advanced Protection, which requires the use of Security Keys to sign into your account. Security Keys are small USB or wireless devices and have long been considered the most secure version of 2-Step Verification, and the best protection against phishing. They use public-key cryptography and digital signatures to prove to Google that it’s really you. An attacker who doesn’t have your Security Key is automatically blocked, even if they have your password.

Anyone with a personal Google Account can enroll in Advanced Protection. Today, you’ll need Chrome to sign up for Advanced Protection because it supports the U2F standard for Security Keys. We expect other browsers to incorporate this soon. For now, Advanced Protection is only available for consumer Google Accounts. To provide comparable protections on G Suite Accounts, G Suite admins can look into Security Key Enforcement and OAuth apps whitelisting.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:20 PM (CDT)

The Future of PC Case Mods: Dancing Anime Girls

Virtual idol Hatsune Miku appears to be dancing inside this modded PC case, which was recently shown in Osaka earlier this summer: the case mod is outfitted with a clear LCD panel, giving the appearance that Miku is dancing. Akiba PC Hotline’s photos shed a little more light onto how the case mod works.
Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:10 PM (CDT)

Activision Uses Matchmaking Tricks to Sell In-Game Items

Activision was granted a patent this month for a system it uses to convince people in multiplayer games to purchase items for a game through microtransactions: in one implementation, the system may include a microtransaction engine that arranges matches to influence game-related purchases. The microtransaction engine may match a more expert/marquee player with a junior player to encourage the junior player to make game-related purchases of items possessed/used by the marquee player. Thanks cageymaru.

The system can also drop players into matches that will make use of an in-game-related purchase, according to the patent. "Doing so may enhance a level of enjoyment by the player for the game-related purchase, which may encourage future purchases," according to the patent. "For example, if the player purchased a particular weapon, the microtransaction engine may match the player in a gameplay session in which the particular weapon is highly effective, giving the player an impression that the particular weapon was a good purchase. This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:50 AM (CDT)

Bitcoin Engineer Swatted by Angry Crypto Fans

An engineer for BitGo, Jameson Lopp, faced down a horde of police officers with rifles at his home in Durham, North Carolina after someone sent an anonymous tip regarding a hostage situation at his home: he told CBS North Carolina that he works for a software company and has made several online, anonymous "enemies" and believes one of them was getting "revenge."

"If I don’t get $60,000, I’m going to blow the whole (expletive) block up," the caller said. "If I see any police coming toward the front door who aren’t handling a bag full of money, I’ll shoot them on sight." The caller also tells the dispatcher he shot the victim 15 times with an assault rifle. Authorities staged nearby on Cardinal Lake Drive while they worked to determine what was happening.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:40 AM (CDT)

The Impossible Dream of USB-C

Programmer Marco Arment loves the idea of USB-C and its potential for replacing all other cables, but in practice, he argues that it isn’t even close: these reasons include sporadic Thunderbolt support, port shortages, unreliable chips in dongles, and complexities with fast charging.

Before today’s USB-C can become ubiquitous and homogeneous, the next protocol or port will come out. We’ll have new, faster USB 4.0 and Thunderbolt 4 standards over the same-looking USB-C ports. We’ll want to move to an even thinner USB-D port. The press will call it "the future" and Apple will celebrate its new laptops that only have a USB-D port -- two, if we’re lucky. And we’ll have to start over again, buying all new cables, dongles, hubs, chargers, batteries, and displays to adapt it to what we really need.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:35 AM (CDT)

NVIDIA Preps for Windows Mixed Reality with New Drivers

NVIDIA, which has collaborated closely with Microsoft on the new Fall Creators Update to ensure their GPUs deliver a great VR experience, is shipping a Game Ready driver that provides the best performance and compatibility for mixed reality headsets and games when paired with NVIDIA VR Ready GPUs. Grab the Game Ready driver here.

For the optimal VR experience with Windows Mixed Reality headsets, we recommend GeForce GTX 1060 or higher VR Ready GPUs. Delivering immersive VR is a complex challenge. It requires seven times the graphics processing power compared to traditional 3D applications and games. To make it easy for consumers to find the right desktop or notebook PC, look no further than our VR Ready PC Program.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:15 AM (CDT)

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus - Launch Trailer

Check out the launch trailer for a glimpse of what awaits any Nazi foolish enough to stand in Blazkowicz’s way. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will release on October 27, 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, and will release for Nintendo Switch in 2018.

Memo to the Nazis occupying America in The New Colossus: You messed with the wrong country. With Wolfenstein II releasing next Friday, it’s time to get fired up and fight back. As BJ Blazkowicz, you’ll be rallying the Resistance in order to retake your homeland in MachineGames’ sequel to their critically acclaimed shooter.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:00 AM (CDT)

CD Projekt Red Pens Defense Against Staff Morale Rumors

CD Projekt Red has attempted to address growing concerns about staff esteem by posting a letter on its Twitter account, following Glassdoor reviews that have been negative over the past several months, with staff criticizing management, work hours, and the studio’s speed of growth. While there have been departures, they assure fans that their current project, Cyberpunk 2077, is not in any danger.

"Just retire, or focus on family," one employee wrote to management directly in a one-star review. "Please leave making games to poeple who actually who play them, make them and love them." "We’d normally avoid commenting on company reviews on spaces like Glassdoor, but this time around — especially in light of the fact that we haven’t communicated anything about Cyperpunk 2077 for a long time and saw some gamers getting worried about the project — we’d like to elaborate on a few things," Iwinski and Badowski went on to write.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:50 AM (CDT)

Razer Doubles Down on eGPU Tech with Core V2

In addition to announcing an updated Blade Stealth Ultrabook with 8th-generation Intel Coffee Lake processors, Razer revealed a new version of its external graphics dock: the Razer Core V2 allows gamers to seamlessly transform highly mobile Thunderbolt 3 laptops like the Razer Blade Stealth into a desktop-class gaming experience. A single Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) connection is all it takes to connect a laptop with the graphics enclosure.

It now features the world’s first dual Thunderbolt 3 internal controller design that separates lanes for both graphics and connected devices, ensuring fluid gameplay. The external graphics enclosure comes with four USB 3.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet for connecting a wide array of peripherals. Sporting a redesigned internal layout that fits an expanded range of taller graphics cards, it now supports the most popular gaming graphics cards, including NVIDIA GeForce 10 series and AMD Radeon 500 series with XConnect technology.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:30 AM (CDT)

Netflix Executives Address Price Hike

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells defended a recent price hike for subscribers on the streaming service, pointing to an increase in content and value that comes at an additional cost: the issue is that with increased content, Netflix has to charge a fair offering that matches the value of the company. "Price is all relative to value," Hastings said. "We’re continuing to increase the content offering and we’re seeing that reflected in viewing around the world." Netflix gained 5.3M global subs in Q3 and will release 80 films in 2018.

Hastings said that Netflix is going to "take the spending up next year," by growing its leadership team and expanding content. In the company’s third quarter shareholder letter, company executives confirmed they would spend between $7 and $8 billion on content alone. To put that into perspective, Netflix spent approximately $6 billion on original content in 2016 and is expected to spend close to $7 billion in 2017. That’s an increase of $1 billion that will go to licensing exclusive series and developing more original content.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:20 AM (CDT)

Pixel 2 Has Google’s First In-House Chipset: Pixel Visual Core

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL had a secret Image Processing Unit (IPU) that none of us knew about until now: Google has just announced that both phones contain their first custom-designed System on Chip (SoC), called Pixel Visual Core. In the coming weeks and months, Google will enable the Pixel Visual Core to help bring the Pixel camera’s HDR+ magic to third party camera apps.

The goal here is to bring the Pixel 2’s HDR+ smarts to others outside of the Google Camera app. The SoC will do so by taking advantage of its eight Google-designed custom cores that can deliver "over 3 trillion operations per second on a mobile power budget." By using the Pixel Visual Core, Google says that HDR+ can run 5x faster and at less than 1/10th the energy than if it was trying to through the application processor (like the Snapdragon 835 in these phones).

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:00 AM (CDT)

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