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Sunday April 22, 2018

Hunt Showdown Streaming

Adron_FoE just joined us here in The Great State of Texas and is streaming from his hotel. Eye tracking and Heart Monitoring on the road. And a "surprise?" That's dedication!
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Ongoing Discussion Posted by Kyle 7:12 PM (CDT)

Windows 10 Lean: Microsoft Working on Cut-Down Version of OS

Microsoft is releasing a lighter version of Windows 10 for Redstone 5, the big OS update due out in the Fall. Dubbed "Windows 10 Lean," it features an installer 2GB smaller than Windows 10 Pro and loses basics such as wallpaper, drivers for CD/DVD drives, and apps like Regedit.

It is not clear what Microsoft plans to do with the SKU. It may simply be intended for virtual machines, or Microsoft may be looking to make another go at a version of Windows for really low-powered devices.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 4:00 PM (CDT)

People’s Gmail Accounts Appear to Be Sending Out Spam

Google’s engineering teams have acknowledged an issue in which certain Gmail accounts are sending out spam. At least some of these accounts had two-factor authentication enabled, and despite changing passwords, users found that the spamming continued.

We are aware of a spam campaign impacting a small subset of Gmail users and have actively taken measures to protect against it. This attempt involved forged email headers that made it appear as if users were receiving emails from themselves, which also led to those messages erroneously appearing in the Sent folder.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:25 PM (CDT)

AMD May Release a Ryzen 7 2800X CPU "Someday"

According to Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Anderson, AMD did not bother releasing a 2800X because the recent Ryzen lineup (2600X and 2700X) already covers all current performance and price points. He does admit that a 2800X is not out of the question, which has led some to think that it will be used to counter Intel’s rumored 8C/16T CPU.

"We felt like, with the 2700X and 2700 at the performance and price points, we had that space covered. We just felt that with those two SKUs we had it sufficiently covered where we wanted to position the product. That doesn’t preclude a 2800X someday, right, maybe. But for now we believe those two SKUs cover the space well."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:00 PM (CDT)

James Cameron Hopes for "Avengers" Fatigue

While the legendary director of "Terminator" and "Aliens" admits that he enjoys the occasional comic book movie, part of him hopes that they come to an end soon, as they are dominating the sci-fi genre but all tell a similar story with comparable set pieces and themes. James Cameron hopes to diversify things with his Avatar sequels, which he describes as family dramas akin to "The Godfather."

"I’m hoping we’ll start getting ‘Avenger’ fatigue here pretty soon," Cameron said. "Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!"

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:35 PM (CDT)

Philips’ Momentum 436M6VBPAB Will Support DisplayHDR 1000 and Adaptive Sync

Philips is releasing a new 43" MVA-panel display that flaunts VESA’s highest HDR certification, DisplayHDR 1000, which demands local dimming and a peak luminance of 1000 cd/m2. But despite this certification, it is arguably still "fake" HDR, as the panel is 8-bit (16 million colors) only and relies on FRC (frame rate control) to achieve more colors. A true HDR panel is 10-bit and capable of 1 billion colors.

With DisplayHDR 1000 and UHDA certifications, the Momentum 436M6VBPAB promises to deliver a great HDR experience with 97.6% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space, a peak brightness of over 1000 nits, local dimming for deeper blacks and support for 10-bit color (8-bit + FRC). The display will support HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, mini DisplayPort and USB Type-C (DP alt mode) inputs, though at this time the monitor's Variable Refresh Rate (VRR range) is unknown.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:00 PM (CDT)

BT Pushes Ahead with Plans to Switch Off Telephone Network

British multinational telecommunications company BT is terminating its telephone network and shifting all customers over to IP telephony (internet-based voice calls via fiber) by 2025. Broadband, rather than voice, will constitute the primary service.

Other communications companies in Germany, Japan, Sweden, are already in the process of moving voice to run over IP. Orange has set a goal of having all IP (digital) networks by 2020, and Deutsche Telekom aims to migrate all its lines in Europe to digital by the end of 2018.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:20 PM (CDT)

Amazon Gets Tax Breaks While Its Employees Rely on Food Stamps

The Intercept is reporting that Amazon is effectively receiving a double subsidy by accepting food stamps for grocery orders, as many of its own employees are dependent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In at least four states, Amazon was featured on the list of top employers with SNAP recipients.

The American people are financing Amazon’s pursuit of an e-commerce monopoly every step of the way: first, with tax breaks, subsidies, and infrastructure improvements meant to lure fulfillment centers into town, and later with federal transfers to pay for warehouse workers’ food. And soon, when the company begins accepting SNAP dollars to purchase its goods, a third transfer of public wealth to private hands will become a part of the company’s business model.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:05 PM (CDT)

Obsidian: RPG Genre Can’t Evolve Because Players Are "Resistant to Change"

Fallout: New Vegas and Knights of the Old Republic II developer Obsidian Entertainment spoke at Reboot Develop this week and mentioned that they want to evolve the RPG genre radically, but it is difficult to do so because its audience is too traditional and demand elements such as hit points and stat tweaking. But Obsidian believes that RPGs are defined by how actions affect a story, not numbers.

"Fans tend to skew towards the more hardcore cases and they tend to be fairly resistant to change. I don’t want to paint too broad of a stroke there, but RPGs can be a lot more than we have done with them so far. There’s much more than we can do, and it’s much more radical." He pointed to Bethesda’s success with Fallout and The Elder Scrolls games as examples of a developer taking role-playing games in a different direction.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:40 PM (CDT)

LA Theater Debuts First LED Video Wall in US

Pacific Theatres Winnetka in Chatsworth, LA is the first to house Samsung’s LED cinema screen, which measures 33.8 feet wide and 17.7 feet high with nearly 9 million pixels. It is unlikely that adoption will be widespread, however, as each screen costs $500,000 to $700,000. A laser projector, in comparison, costs $150,000 to $300,000.

Tech vets who’ve seen demonstrations admit that the images these LED systems can produce are impressive, including their wide dynamic range (blacker blacks and whiter whites). However, a number of key factors still need to be addressed -- most notably cost, says Pete Lude, chief technology officer of engineering firm Mission Rock Digital.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:45 AM (CDT)

Net Neutrality Rules Expire Monday, as Lawmakers Push for Paid Data Prioritization

Net Neutrality rules will officially be repealed tomorrow. Coincidentally, US Representative Marsha Blackburn championed the idea of paid data prioritization at a hearing last week, effectively urging ISPs to charge customers more for fast lanes. Experts say that service providers will probably wait before screwing us, however.

I would also point out that in real life, all sorts of interactions are prioritized every day. Many of you sitting in this room right now paid a line-sitter to get priority access to this hearing. In fact, it is commonplace for the government itself to offer priority access to services. If you have ever used Priority Mail, you know this to be the case. And what about TSA pre-check? It just might have saved you time as you traveled here today.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:20 AM (CDT)

"Firewatch" Developer Campo Santo Has Been Acquired by Valve

The developers of first-person mystery adventure game Firewatch, Campo Santo, has announced that they are joining Valve, where they will continue production on their current project, In the Valley of Gods. Apparently, Gabe Newell was not joking when he said Valve would be making and shipping games again.

In Valve we found a group of folks who, to their core, feel the same way about the work that they do (this, you may be surprised to learn, doesn’t happen every day). In us, they found a group with unique experience and valuable, diverse perspectives. It quickly became an obvious match.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:50 AM (CDT)

Google, Microsoft Push Websites to Go Password-Less

Microsoft and Google are pushing for a password-less login system called FIDO 2.0 that uses unique private keys generated by scanning a user’s fingerprint or face for access. An Android phone’s fingerprint sensor could be used to approve a purchase on PayPal, for instance.

Both Microsoft and Google have been pushing for FIDO 2.0's adoption. They're preparing to build the authentication technologies into their own internet browsers. On Monday, Microsoft said the next Windows 10 release would also support the standard too.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:15 AM (CDT)

Microsoft to Kill Off OneNote’s Desktop App

Coinciding with the launch of Office 2019 will be the death of OneNote for the desktop, as Microsoft has decided to switch all focus to the Windows 10 UWP app. Bug fixes and security updates will be provided until October 2020, and 2025, respectively.

While there is a lot of crossover in features between the desktop and UWP versions, there are still a few differences, and this is something Microsoft aims to address, promising a number of new additions to OneNote for Windows 10.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 9:50 AM (CDT)

iPhone SE 2 Could Arrive Next Month, but without a Headphone Jack

A report from Japanese blog Macotakara claims that the iPhone SE 2 will be released in May, but it won’t feature a headphone jack, despite having the same design and dimensions as its predecessor. The handset is expected to come with an A10 processor and 2GB of RAM.

Apple dropped the headphone jack on iPhones starting with the iPhone 7, but (for now) still sells the original iPhone SE and similarly spec’d iPhone 6s which both have headphone jacks. Perhaps Apple will tout improved water resistance as part of this change if accurate.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 9:35 AM (CDT)
Saturday April 21, 2018

Pirates Taunt Amazon over New "Turd Sandwich" Prime Video Quality

Amazon Prime Video pirates and legitimate customers alike complained this week of declining streaming quality: according to one viewer, new episodes of shows looked like a "blurry mess" resembling standard-definition DVD. Many were quick to conclude that Amazon was trying to save on bandwidth costs, but a TorrentFreak source suggests there was a mix-up with encoding profiles, which is being addressed.

"Recently, it appears these values have been intentionally changed in order to lower the bitrate and file sizes for reasons unknown. As a result, the quality of some streams has been reduced by up to 50% of their previous values. This has introduced a visual loss of quality, comparable to that of viewing something in standard definition versus high definition."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 4:00 PM (CDT)

Users Don’t Want iOS to Merge with MacOS, Apple Chief Says

According to Tim Cook, Apple has no plans to bring iOS and MacOS together because he doesn’t think that is what users want. Rumors would suggest that the company is working on a project that merges macOS and iOS apps, however.

"We don't believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible. One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two ... you begin to make tradeoffs and compromises.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:40 PM (CDT)

Towards Battery-Free HD Video Streaming

Researchers from the University of Washington have figured out how to use a technique called backscattering to stream video 99 percent more efficiently. The video processing is essentially handed off to another device that does the heavy lifting, resulting in a significant reduction in power consumption.

We present a novel architecture that enables HD video streaming from a low-power, wearable camera to a nearby mobile device. To achieve this, we present an "analog" video backscatter technique that feeds analog pixels from the photo-diodes directly to the backscatter hardware, thereby eliminating power-consuming hardware components, such as ADCs and codecs.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:50 PM (CDT)

Atari Reveals More Details on Its Console-Computer Hybrid

Eurogamer sat down with Atari COO Michael Arzt at this year’s GDC for more information on its upcoming VCS console. His comments would suggest that it won’t be an ordinary, retro console, but some sort of all-in-one system that can serve as an alternative to an HTPC.

It's less expensive than a PC, and it doesn't require you to have your laptop plugged into the TV. It'll control many aspects of the TV, and it'll also let you do things on the TV that - because it'll have voice control, because it'll have a really easy navigation system, things like that - it'll make computing on the television easier.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:10 PM (CDT)

Hilton Panama’s Alienware Room for Game-Crazy Travelers

Dell has partnered with The Hilton in Panama to create a special den for PC gamers vacationing or doing business in the Central American country: room 2425 has been outfitted with a plethora of Alienware-branded products, including a PC, laptop, and lighting system. There is even a 65-inch 4K OLED TV, Oculus Rift, and gaming simulator chair with NASA technologies.

Apart from all the gaming goodness, the room, in fact, has two king beds along with other luxurious amenities to make the stay as comfortable as possible. The bathroom and shower sections also have visible influences of the Alienware theme all around. If you are already a big fan, Hilton Panama is opening the Alienware Room April 19 onward for $349 per night.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:30 PM (CDT)

Google’s Chief Futurist: Basic Income Will Spread Worldwide by the 2030s

Google’s Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, is a futurist who is famed for his wild predictions: one of his latest is that universal basic income will be ubiquitous in as little as two decades based on advances in artificial intelligence. The idea is that AI will be distributing UBI to humans based on algorithms.

Kurzweil thinks AI will pass the Turing Test easily within our lifetime and can be described as a technology optimist. Kurzweil has been pretty vocal that AI will not displace humans but enhance us. Perhaps he believes a UBI would do the same and empower human beings to find meaning outside of work and how income is paired to work up till now.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:05 PM (CDT)

Flickr Has Been Purchased by SmugMug

Independent photo-sharing website and image-hosting service SmugMug is the proud new owner of Flickr. According to CEO Don MacAskill, the website had been long neglected by its previous proprietor, Yahoo, and his goal is to revitalize its community of amateur and professional photographers.

The surprise deal ends months of uncertainty for Flickr, whose fate had been up in the air since last year when Yahoo was bought by Verizon for $4.5 billion and joined with AOL in Verizon’s Oath subsidiary. Oath has started to weed out some of its assets after merging AOL and Yahoo. Earlier this month, Oath sold Polyvore, the e-commerce company it acquired under Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:20 PM (CDT)

AI Will Wipe Out Half the Banking Jobs in a Decade, Experts Say

Despite the investments required for supercomputers and hardware upgrades, senior banking executives seem adamant on transitioning to artificial intelligence-based services, signaling the potential loss of numerous jobs that include automated customer support, fraud detection, and predictive analysis.

Speaking to an audience last year in Frankfurt, Germany, Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan predicted a "bonfire" of industry jobs as automation moves forward. "In our bank we have people doing work like robots," he said. "Tomorrow we will have robots behaving like people. It doesn’t matter if we as a bank will participate in these changes or not, it is going to happen."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:00 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Releases Windows Defender Browser Extension for Chrome

Microsoft is bringing Windows Defender to Google Chrome with an all-new extension that aims to protect users from phishing, malicious software, and other online threats. Some are claiming that it sends your entire web browsing history to Microsoft, however.

If you click a malicious link in an email or navigate to a site designed to trick you into disclosing financial, personal or other sensitive information, or a website that hosts malware, Windows Defender Browser Protection will check it against a constantly updated list of malicious URLs known to Microsoft.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:20 AM (CDT)

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