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Sunday March 17, 2019

Captain Marvel Will Lead the MCU, Kevin Feige Says

Like her or hate her, Marvel fans are going to be seeing much, much more of Brie Larson: MCU architect Kevin Feige has gone on record with his enthusiasm and plans for Captain Marvel, stating she will "take the lead and be at the forefront of the entire Cinematic Universe." The character is already slated to reappear in next month’s Avengers: Endgame, improving the odds against Thanos. There is a rumor some cast members aren’t happy with how an overpowered newbie is swooping in to save the day, however.

When we found out that Brie Larson might be interested in joining our world, we had a number of meetings. She was a huge fan of the character in the comics. One of the highlights of my career at Marvel was introducing her at Comic-Con and having her come out on stage and stand there with literally almost everybody else from our movies. There she was at the forefront, and it was a great foreshadowing – not just for how audiences are going to embrace Brie as this character, but also for how Captain Marvel is about to take the lead and be at the forefront of the entire Cinematic Universe.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:35 PM (CDT)

Pilots Now Spend More Time Learning Automated Systems than Hands-On Flying

The Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes have reignited debate over the potential risks of automation in aircraft and how it may hinder human competence, but a New York Times story suggests many new pilots are at the mercy of technology regardless: interviews with pilots and instructors indicate many are less skilled at manual control because of an increased focus on automated systems, turning them into system operators rather than pilots. "They may not exactly know or recognize quickly enough what is happening to the aircraft, and by the time they figure it out, it may be too late."

"The automation in the aircraft, whether it’s a Boeing or an Airbus, has lulled us into a sense of security and safety," said Kevin Hiatt, a former Delta Air Lines pilot who later ran flight safety for JetBlue. Pilots now rely on autopilot so often, "they become a systems operator rather than a stick-and-rudder pilot." In recent years, the Federal Aviation Administration has advised airlines to encourage pilots to fly manually when appropriate, among other policies intended to improve manual skills.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:50 PM (CDT)

Epic's Tim Sweeney Calls Store Exclusives "Procompetitive"

As controversy continues to mount, Tim Sweeney has returned to social media to justify store exclusives and defend the Epic Games Store from accusations it is bribing its way to the top with anti-competitive practices. Sweeney seems to believe the criticism is unfair because there’s nothing stopping Steam and other storefronts from playing his game, pointing out partnerships are a perfectly legit way of doing business. From where he’s standing, exclusives are "procompetitive," in that they compel other stores to differentiate themselves.

I get that you guys don’t like store-exclusive games, but that’s a completely separate, and PROCOMPETITIVE issue, compared to closing down platforms like Windows to monopolize distribution, as iOS does, and as Microsoft was trying to do with UWP and locked-down versions of Windows -- which failed, and whose proponents are now gone and replaced with great leaders like Satya Nadella and Phil Spencer who are driving Windows forward as an open platform!

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:55 AM (CDT)

PC Sales to Decline in 2019 Amid CPU Shortages, Weak GPU Market

Don’t place your bets on the PC market growing in the coming future: marketing firms are predicting a 0.4 percent decline per year through 2023, with a potentially significant drop this year thanks to Intel’s CPU shortages and lukewarm interest in NVIDIA’s GPUs. While gaming hardware has managed to prop up the PC industry somewhat, the current buildup of inventory simply isn’t helping. Some say the crux of the issue is that people have no real reason to upgrade.

The real problem is, the PC market is mature. People aren’t buying machines for specific new features, at least not en masse. 5G and new display technology may move the needle for some people, but given the prices such technology would command in the near future, it’s unlikely we’ll see any significant jump in sales for these reasons alone. "Something compelling at the premium end" is damnably faint praise for an industry that once enjoyed record-breaking growth streaks. Looks like it’s all we’ve got.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 11:20 AM (CDT)

Texas Is Trying to Block Tesla from Servicing Its Cars

Tesla’s problems are beginning to grow in the Lone Star State: the automaker’s direct-sales model is already banned in Texas due to the clever use of old laws by local car dealers with a loud lobbying voice, but legislators have now introduced a bill that would prevent the company from servicing its cars through its own service centers. While Texans have managed to get their hands on Tesla vehicles by having them delivered from other states, the passing of this law could mean a whole new can of problems.

Well, Texas’s use of direct-sale laws was already ridiculously abused but they are now pushing it to a whole new level of stupidity. If the legislature actually approves this bill, it would be extremely disappointing from a political standpoint and a major hit to Tesla itself and Tesla owners in Texas. Texan EV fans, or free market fans for that matter, should contact their local representatives and let them know how you feel about this ridiculous attempt to abuse legislation to give a monopoly to franchise dealers who are afraid of fair competition from Tesla and other companies looking to sell and service their own vehicles.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:45 AM (CDT)

Prisoners in England to Be Taught Code

Reducing reoffending through programming: as part of an effort to increase the digital skills of people from disadvantaged groups, the UK government is funding a project in which prisoners will be taught to code so they can more easily find work after release. Assuming the trial goes well, a network of coding workshops could eventually be established in UK prisons.

The program is modeled on the Last Mile project in the San Quentin prison, in California, which has helped almost 500 offenders find jobs after release, with none of those taking part reoffending. That compares with a national reoffending rate in the US of 55%. Reoffending in the UK is estimated to cost around 15bn, according to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:20 AM (CDT)

Valve Addresses Review Bombing on Steam by Removing Them from Review Scores

To mitigate the effects of review bombing, Valve announced Friday it has a built a tool that would identify and alert the moderation team of any game with "anomalous review activity." After a case of review bombing is confirmed, the reviews submitted under this time period would then be removed from the review score calculation. Gamers can opt out of this change, however, and "off-topic review bombs" will remain on the site for anyone curious enough to read them.

Once our team has identified that the anomalous activity is an off-topic review bomb, we'll mark the time period it encompasses and notify the developer. The reviews within that time period will then be removed from the Review Score calculation. As before, the reviews themselves are left untouched - if you want to dig into them to see if they're relevant to you, you'll still be able to do so. To help you do that, we've made it clear when you're looking at a store page where we've removed some reviews by default, and we've further improved the UI around anomalous review periods.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 9:30 AM (CDT)
Saturday March 16, 2019

Paramount Is Urging Theaters to Show Ang Lee's New Sci-Fi Movie at 120 FPS

Moviegoers have been turned off thus far by films that weren’t shot and projected at standard frame rates (e.g., 24 FPS), but that isn’t stopping Paramount and critically acclaimed director Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Brokeback Mountain") from pushing high-frame-rate cinema: letters from the studio indicate Lee’s latest, "Gemini Man," a sci-fi venture starring Will Smith, will be shown in some theaters at 60 FPS (3D) and 120 FPS (2D). Critics of HFR claim it results in "hyper-real and unnatural visuals," but supporters suggest that’s because audiences have been subjected to 24p film and 30p video for far too long.

Paramount's letter includes directions on how to conduct an HFR test and describes the 120 FPS-4K-3D combo as the "most pristine and immersive format" for showing the film. Billy Lynn was the first film to be presented at 120 fps, meaning it had a higher frame rate than the 24 frames per second adopted by most movies. HFR advocates James Cameron (who's shooting the Avatar sequels in the format) and his long-time producer pal Jon Landau have been opining about its benefits since 2011.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 5:45 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Will Pester Windows 7 Users to Upgrade to W10 with Pop-Up Notifications

Microsoft has come up with another way to convince users to upgrade to Windows 10: corporate vice president Matt Barlow explained in a blog post this week Windows 7 users would be subjected to regular pop-up messages urging them to update to the latest version of the OS. That may not be the worst idea, as support for W7 officially ends January 14, 2020.

This is a courtesy reminder that you can expect to see a handful of times in 2019. By starting the reminders now, our hope is that you have time to plan and prepare for this transition. These notifications are designed to help provide information only and if you would prefer not to receive them again, you'll be able to select an option for "do not notify me again", and we will not send you any further reminders. Just as software has changed over the years, so has hardware.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 5:00 PM (CDT)

NVIDIA Could Tease Next-Gen 7nm Ampere at GTC 2019

It isn’t clear whether NVIDIA will have any surprises to share at next week’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC), but some speculate the company could reveal aspects of its next-generation architecture, "Ampere," which will purportedly be built on the 7nm node. TweakTown and TechSpot suggest it could be the right time to do so, as the luster of Volta and Turing continues to wear thin. The former predicts it won’t be a gaming part, however, suggesting "a new GPU architecture tease that will succeed Volta in the HPC/DL/AI market."

For now, NVIDIA has used the Ampere name for their future 7nm GPUs. If that's the case, the Ampere GPUs would bring power efficiency improvements, higher clock rates, and perhaps higher memory bandwidth. Now would be a good time for NVIDIA to make a big announcement, considering the company just had one of the worst fiscal quarters its ever had. Consumer and investor faith in the company is slipping, especially since the adoption of RTX technology has been much slower than expected.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 4:45 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Proves the Critics Right: We're Heading toward a Chrome-Only Web

Chrome’s total dominance of the web is becoming more of a reality by each passing day, and Microsoft, whose Edge browser will soon be powered by Chromium, has become a clear contributor to that dark future: the company has released a new version of Skype for Web, but despite legitimate improvements such as HD video calling and recording, the service will not work on non-Chromium browsers such as Firefox and Safari. Users have managed to sidestep this by changing their user agent, which suggests laziness on Microsoft’s part, or something worse.

There's perhaps also some irony in that the Skype app is built with a framework designed to foster cross-platform development, between devices, desktop, and the Web. For those who can use the Web app, it looks extremely similar to the desktop apps, which also look very similar to the mobile apps. That's because it's built using ReactXP, Microsoft's layer on top of Facebook's React and React Native frameworks. These let you use Web technology to build applications not just for the Web but also the desktop and smartphone platforms.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 3:45 PM (CDT)

Remastering "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" with Machine Learning

As significant portions of the show were shot on video (and not film, which can be easily scanned to higher resolutions), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine may never get a legitimate HD remaster, but that hasn’t stopped one fan from experimenting with other technologies to see what it could look like: Stefan Rumen ("CaptRobau"), who has been upscaling Final Fantasy VII using AI Gigapixel, has applied that same neural-networking technique to bump DVD footage of DS9 to 1080p quality. While the results are arguably mild, Rumen hopes CBS and other studios take note of how machine learning can be used for improving video quality.

Since I do not own DS9, I cannot just do what I want with it. While I would love to release full episodes, this is just not legally possible. These videos serve more as a proof of concept for CBS to look into machine learning and neural networks to help remaster DS9 and move it a bit closer to the HD era. Imagine what a real team could do, with more powerful equipment, custom trained neural networks (perhaps training the network on TNG vs. TNG Remastered images) and access to the original SD files instead of a DVDRip like me.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 2:40 PM (CDT)

Valve Doesn't Sound Too Happy about the Epic Store Copying Steam Data

Could a lawsuit be brewing? A spokesperson with Valve has told Bleeping Computer the company is "looking into what information the Epic launcher collects from Steam" following allegations the software was stealing users’ information without their express permission. Engineers with Epic have admitted some of the scrapped data could be sent to the company's servers.

In other words, Valve doesn't think the Epic Store client should be touching localconfig.vdf at all, and presumably would prefer it if Epic used the Steam API to gather friends lists. For Epic's part, it has not said that the entire file is uploaded, only that it parses out user IDs and uploads hashes of them, should users import Steam friends. In the future, Valve could potentially encrypt local user data to prevent the Epic client and other software from copying it.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:40 PM (CDT)

Apple Will Unveil Its Streaming Video Service on March 25

"It’s show time": Apple has sent out an invite for its next event on March 25, which indicates an official unveiling of the company’s long-rumored streaming video service. While the actual launch is reportedly months away, Apple is expected to tease some of its original TV content, which includes stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell. A Bloomberg report suggests the company wants to win an Oscar badly.

Apple is spending billions of dollars on projects that feature stars like Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Durant, and producers such as J.J. Abrams. It’s also building a slate of films from Oscar-winning studios A24 and Cartoon Saloon. The company is racing to complete content deals with partners by this Friday, Bloomberg News reported this week. Apple will charge for some content, while other video will be free for Apple device users.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 1:05 PM (CDT)

"Back 4 Blood": Left 4 Dead Creator Announces New Co-op Zombie Game

Nobody knows if Valve’s Left 4 Dead 3 will ever see the light of day, but the franchise’s original developer may have the next best thing: Turtle Rock Studios announced "Back 4 Blood" this week, a co-op zombie shooter with a campaign and PVP mode that should cater well to L4D fans who have been clamoring for more. "We know we have some big shoes to fill, but we’re going all out to surpass everything we’ve done before."

"We get to return to a genre that was born in our studio with over 10 years of additional experience and zombie ideas racked up in our brains. We also have some of the best teammates in the business at WBIE, who understand our development process and are equally committed to our player-first mentality. We love being able to announce, so we can start working with the community right away."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:30 PM (CDT)

BioWare Warns Hostile Replies Make Developers Less Likely to Engage

BioWare appears to be fed up with the pessimism surrounding Anthem and the antics of its players: in a lengthy post on r/AnthemTheGame offering insight on the company’s lack of communication, community manager Jesse Anderson admitted that many developers have made a conscious decision not to engage fans and answer their questions due to their increasing negativity, which has hit "an all-time high." Some believe BioWare deserves all the hate they can get for releasing a subpar product, while others are blaming gamers for being "entitled."

"Why would a dev team member take time away from working on the next update to post when they know it’s likely to be met with hostile replies, or they get flamed because [they] can’t answer other questions that players are asking? I don’t mind posting here when things aren’t so nice, but that’s because it’s my job. For the devs it isn’t their job, and I’d like to ask that people remember that when replying to them. When some people say ‘be nice or the devs will stop posting’ it’s 100% true."

Discussion Posted by Megalith 12:15 PM (CDT)

Tesla Unveils Model Y Electric SUV with 300-Mile Range and Seven Seats

Tesla officially announced the latest member of its vehicle family Thursday, the Model Y, a crossover/compact SUV version of the Model 3 starting at $39,000. The Y is rather similar appearance-wise but sits a little higher, offering 66 cubic feet (1.9 cubic meters) of storage space and an optional third row for up to seven seats. Specs include 300 miles of range, expected 5-star rating, 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds, and a 0.23 drag coefficient.

The more expensive versions of Model Y with a bigger battery pack, dual motor, and higher performance are going to come first in Fall 2020. This one is likely going to use the same Long Range battery pack as Model 3 and it is getting a slightly shorter range due to the size. Instead of opening reservations with a $1,000 deposit like they did for the Model 3, Tesla already launched the Model Y online design studio and buyers can place an order with a $2,500 deposit.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:15 AM (CDT)

Parents Blame Elementary School's Cell Tower after 4th Student Diagnosed with Cancer

"It just seems like coincidence is no longer a reason for all this illness": four students at California’s Weston Elementary have been diagnosed with cancer in the last three years, and San Joaquin County parents are now convinced the cause is a cell phone tower located in its schoolyard. While the district’s tests have shown "the tower is safe and meets federal regulations," many are fighting to get it removed.

"I wouldn’t send my kids there at all, it absolutely is dangerous," said Eric Windheim, an electromagnetic radiation specialist. "Children are still developing and their cells are still being divided. It’s the worst possible time in their life to be exposed." He says it’s not just a cell tower, it also transmits wireless frequencies. "Instead of only going 300 yards like regular Wi-Fi, Y-Max can go 30 miles," he said.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 10:00 AM (CDT)

Tumblr Defends Controversial Porn Ban despite 20 Percent Drop in Traffic

Tumblr’s pornography ban in December has resulted in a major exodus: numbers from web analytics firm Similarweb reveal the blogging site has lost over 100 million monthly page views since the end of January and saw a 17 percent decline in visits over the last 30 days. Despite this slump, Tumblr has defended the ban, calling it "the right decision."

In December, Tumblr CEO Jeff D'Onofrio said in a blog post that it chose to remove adult content after weighting the pros and cons of expression in the community. D'Onofrio said the platform had to consider the impact on different age groups, demographics, cultures and mindsets. "We made a strategic decision for the business that better positions it for long-term growth among more types of users. This was the right decision," a Tumblr spokesperson said Thursday in an emailed statement.

Discussion Posted by Megalith 9:25 AM (CDT)
Friday March 15, 2019

Valve Offers Developers Access to Its Network via Steamworks

Valve has updated the Steamworks SDK with new networking APIs. These APIs give Steam partners access to Valve's network, grants them protection from denial-of-service attacks, 100% reliable NAT traversal, and improved connectivity. Also included are tools for instantly estimating the ping between two arbitrary hosts without sending any packets and a high quality end-to-end encrypted reliable-over-UDP protocol. Valve says relaying traffic anonymizes it, protecting both gameservers and clients from denial-of-service attacks. For an attacker to disrupt gameplay, they must mount an attack large enough to overwhelm multiple data centers.

Finally, by relaying the traffic in software, we can often improve the ping time! How can a relayed route be faster than a direct route? The Internet is a packet-switched network; there is no such thing as a "direct" route. When a packet is sent "directly" to the remote host's IP address, it takes the route determined by standard IP routing protocols. This route is often not optimal! Our protocol puts the client in charge of routing decisions. The client considers each relay point-of-presence, and determines the end-to-end latency along this route. It then selects the route with the lowest latency.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 7:23 PM (CDT)

Crytek Demos Real-Time Ray Traced Reflections Running on an AMD Vega 56

Crytek has released a new video demonstrating the results of a CRYENGINE research and development project called Neon Noir. Neon Noir is based on an advanced version of CRYENGINE's Total Illumination showcasing real-time ray tracing. The demo shown below is running on an AMD Vega 56 and demonstrates how real-time mesh ray-traced reflections and refractions can deliver highly realistic visuals for games. This feature is expected to be available to developers using CRYENGINE in 2019. The demo was created on a bespoke version of CRYENGINE 5.5 and the experimental ray tracing feature is both API and hardware agnostic. This means that it will run on AMD and NVIDIA GPUs. Crytek will optimize the technology to benefit both the current generation of graphics cards and supported APIs like Vulkan and DX12. Thanks @Gideon !

Neon Noir follows the journey of a police drone investigating a crime scene. As the drone descends into the streets of a futuristic city, illuminated by neon lights, we see its reflection accurately displayed in the windows it passes by, or scattered across the shards of a broken mirror while it emits a red and blue lighting routine that will bounce off the different surfaces utilizing CRYENGINE's advanced Total Illumination feature. Demonstrating further how ray tracing can deliver a lifelike environment, neon lights are reflected in the puddles below them, street lights flicker on wet surfaces, and windows reflect the scene opposite them accurately.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 4:32 PM (CDT)

Win Some, Lose Some in Qualcomm vs Apple Saga

A jury in federal court in San Diego awarded Qualcomm $31 million in a patent infringement case against Apple. Qualcomm requested damages amounting to $1.41 per iPhone. The three patents that Apple allegedly violated were related to battery life in mobile phones. In another case, a U.S. federal judge issued a preliminary ruling favoring Apple related to patent royalty rebate payments. Factories that build Apple iPhones paid Qualcomm billions of dollars to use Qualcomm's technology. Apple agreed to reimburse the factories. "Qualcomm and Apple had a cooperation agreement under which Qualcomm would pay Apple a rebate on the iPhone patent payments if Apple agreed not to attack in court or with regulators." Apple filed a lawsuit after it says Qualcomm refused to issue $1 billion in patent royalty rebates. Qualcomm alleged that "Apple had broken the agreement by urging other smartphone makers to complain to regulators and making "false and misleading" statements to the Korean Fair Trade Commission." Apple said it was just responding to regulators.

The decision will not become final until after the trial in the case, which begins next month. And it is unlikely that Qualcomm will make a new payment to Apple. Apple's contract factories, which under normal circumstances would pay Qualcomm for patent royalties owed on iPhones, have already withheld the nearly $1 billion in payments to Qualcomm. "Apple has already offset the payment at issue under the agreement against royalties that were owed to Qualcomm," Qualcomm's Rosenberg told Reuters.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 3:32 PM (CDT)

File Abnormality Causes Duplicate Tax Refunds

66,000 Louisiana residents are collectively $26 million richer as a file ran "abnormally," causing duplicate tax refunds on Wednesday, March 13. Many of these "double refunds" were direct deposited and banks are being notified of the overages. Refunds sent to debit cards are being "backed out." Division of Administration spokesman, Jacques Berry "urges anyone who received a larger refund than what they are actually due to not spend the money."

"It was a file abnormality," Berry said. "The file ran twice when it was only supposed to run once." "Hopefully we'll recover the vast majority of it before anyone mistakenly spends it," he said. "We appreciate taxpayers' cooperation while we recoup the overpayments," Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said in a statement.

Discussion Posted by cageymaru 2:00 PM (CDT)

Supernova Buys Shadow Warrior Developer

Flying Wild Hog released Shadow Warrior 2 back in 2016, but we haven't heard much from the series' developer since then. However, the studio just announced that they were acquired by an investment firm. Game studios don't always fare well once they're bought out, but Supernova Capital was founded by members of Splash Damage, who worked on Dirty Bomb and the multiplayer components of Batman: Arkham Origins, Doom 3, and multiple Gears of War games. With their newly acquired pile of cash, the developer is opening a brand new studio in Poland, and given how crazy Shadowrun was, I can't wait to see what they come up with next. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip.

Flying Wild Hog is thrilled to announce an opening of a third studio in Rzeszow, Poland. We welcome on board a team of almost 30 veteran developers, who had worked on such titles as: Sniper: Ghost Warrior, Enemy Front, Lords of the Fallen, along with award-winning VR titles. We are sure this tight-knit team will enhance our upcoming projects with hard-earned expertise and fresh perspective. Marcin Kryszpin, Head of the FWH branch in Rzeszow, is excited to join Flying Wild Hog in such a crucial moment: Rzeszow's team built their renown working on dynamic, action-packed projects and we quickly have found a common ground with Hogs, who pride themselves with an unparalleled enthusiasm towards action games. We are sure that what we bring to the table will excite gamers. - he adds.

Discussion Posted by alphaatlas 12:26 PM (CDT)