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Nintendo Halts Wii U Production In Anticipation of Switch Launch
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's collectible-items department:
New submitter Shane_Optima writes: The Guardian reports that Nintendo has ceased production of the Wii U after a little more than four years. From the report: "In late January it was announced that Nintendo had ceased production of the Wii U console. The follow-up machine to the hugely successful Wii had sold fewer than 15 million units worldwide since its launch in 2012. PlayStation 4 sold more in a year. Wii sold more than 100m in its lifetime. What happened? How did Nintendo, one of the oldest and most respected companies in the video game industry, get it so wrong? And did anything good come out of the Wii U era? How will the machine be remembered, if at all?" Perhaps it could have something to do with the fact that the Wii U bundle didn't include a Wii remote-type controller, and the much-hyped secondary screen was most commonly used for solo gaming -- the exact opposite of the Wii's emphasis on a social experience and is an area where they have to compete with cell phones, tablets and their very own DS line. Nintendo still seems hellbent on selling a console-tablet hybrid, but at least this time it sounds like an interesting controller will be included.

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IMDb Is Shutting Down Its Long-Running, Popular Message Boards After 16 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's this-is-why-we-can't-have-nice-things department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Polygon: After 16 years, IMDb's message boards and the ability to privately message other users is shutting down, with many members of the community openly mourning the loss of the section. IMDb, which stands from the Internet Movie Database, is one of the world's biggest databases for film and television. According to the company, there is information on more than 4.1 million titles and 7.7 million personalities available on the site as of January 2017. The message board, which was introduced in 2001, reportedly remains one of the most used services on the website, but despite that, the company is getting ready to shut it down, citing a desire to foster a positive environment and serve its audience the best way it can. "After in-depth discussion and examination, we have concluded that IMDb's message boards are no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide," a statement on the site reads. "The decision to retire a long-standing feature was made only after careful consideration and was based on data and traffic. Because IMDb's message boards continue to be utilized by a small but passionate community of IMDb users, we announced our decision to disable our message boards on February 3, 2017 but will leave them open for two additional weeks so that users will have ample time to archive any message board content they'd like to keep for personal use. During this two-week transition period, which concludes on February 19, 2017, IMDb message board users can exchange contact information with any other board users they would like to remain in communication with (since once we shut down the IMDb message boards, users will no longer be able to send personal messages to one another)."

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First Screenshots of Microsoft's Windows 10 Cloud OS Leak Online
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's leaks-and-rumors department:
The first alleged screenshots of Microsoft's Windows 10 Cloud operating system have leaked, courtesy of Windows Blog Italia. "The screenshots seem to show a coming version of the operating system that is locked down in a way similar to the way Microsoft locked down Windows RT and, before that the Windows 8.1 with Bing version of Windows," reports ZDNet. From the report: According to Windows Blog Italia, which said they've had a chance to test the current version of Windows 10 Cloud, the product can run Windows Store apps only. The site noted that Windows Store apps built using Microsoft's "Centennial" Desktop bridge, which enables developers to move their Win32 apps to the Windows Store, work on the version of Windows 10 Cloud to which they have access. UWP apps and Windows Store apps have not been synonymous terms. But the important point here is Windows Cloud will be locked down so as to prevent users from installing apps that are not in the Windows 10 Store, which can be seen as a plus from a security and manageability standpoint, but a minus given the less-than-robust collection of UWP/Store apps available for Windows 10. Microsoft is believed to be planning to position Windows 10 Cloud, at least in part, as an alternative to Chrome OS and Chromebooks.

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Google To Force Basic HTML Gmail On Older Chrome Versions
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 02:43 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Earlier this week, Google quietly announced that Gmail will only be partially supported on older versions of Chrome browser soon. From a report: Users of Chrome version 53 and older editions of the browser could start being redirected to the basic HTML version of Gmail as early as December, the company said in a blog post. Starting next week, users who will be affected by the change will start seeing a banner at the top of Gmail telling them to upgrade to an up-to-date version of Google's browser. The affected browser versions include Chrome v49, the last version of the software that supports XP and Vista. While Microsoft officially ended support for XP more than two and a half years ago, Gmail has continued to work with it. Vista Service Pack 2 will reach the end of its extended support period on April 11.

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Apple To Start Making iPhones In India, Says State Government
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 02:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's locally-sourced department:
vasanth quotes a report from BBC: Apple is to start making iPhones in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, the state's government has said. Ministers said Apple would start an initial manufacturing operation in the state, whose capital is the tech hub Bangalore, in April. The tech giant has a 2% share of India's mobile phone market, well behind South Korean rival Samsung. Apple has yet to officially confirm the plan, saying only that it is keen to "invest significantly" in India. But Priyank Kharge, minister of information technology and biotechnology in Karnataka, told the AFP news agency: "We have an understanding with Apple and we expect them to start manufacturing in Karnataka by the end of April." Reports said the plant is being set up by Taiwanese manufacturing company Wistron Corp. Apple has held a series of meetings with government representatives at both state and national level and is understood to be pressing for concessions before going ahead with such a move. Apple is currently unable to set up its own branded stores in India, which has a raft of rules to curb the activities of foreign companies. For it to be able to sell direct to customers in India, Apple would have to source 30% of the components of its products locally. Priyank Kharge, IT minister for the Indian state of Karnataka, said Thursday on Twitter: "Apple's intentions to make iPhones in Bengaluru will foster cutting-edge technology ecosystem [and] supply chain development in the state."

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Google Is Integrating Progressive Web Apps Deeper Into Android
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's digging-deeper department:
Yaron Friedman, a software engineer at Google, writes on Chromium blog: In 2015, we added a new feature to Chrome for Android that allows developers to prompt users to add their site to the Home screen for fast and convenient access. That feature uses an Android shortcut, which means that web apps don't show up throughout Android in the same way as installed native apps. In the next few weeks we'll be rolling out a new version of this experience in Chrome beta. With this new version, once a user adds a Progressive Web App to their Home screen, Chrome will integrate it into Android in a much deeper way than before. For example, Progressive Web Apps will now appear in the app drawer section of the launcher and in Android Settings, and will be able to receive incoming intents from other apps. Long presses on their notifications will also reveal the normal Android notification management controls rather than the notification management controls for Chrome.

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LG Confirms 5K Mac Monitor Has Issue When Placed Near a Router, Says New Batch To Have Enhanced Shielding
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 01:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's better-protection department:
Late last month, we learned that LG's UltraFine 5K Display, which was designed in part by Apple to work with the new MacBook Pro and as a replacement for the Thunderbolt Display, would flicker, disconnect, or freeze computers if placed within two meters of a router. The company has acknowledged the issue, and says it will add enhanced shielding to its 5K monitors to prevent interferences with nearby wireless routers in the upcoming batch. From a report: "LG apologizes for this inconvenience and is committed to delivering the best quality products possible, so all LG UltraFine 27-inch 5K displays manufactured after February 2017 will be fitted with enhanced shielding," the company said in an email. Existing models will be able to be retrofitted with the enhanced shielding, which will allow the monitor to be placed near a router.

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The Purpose of Sleep? To Forget, Scientists Say
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 12:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's puzzling-questions department:
Over the years, scientists have come up with a lot of ideas about why we sleep. From a report on NYTimes: Some have argued that it's a way to save energy. Others have suggested that slumber provides an opportunity to clear away the brain's cellular waste. A pair of papers published on Thursday in the journal Science offer evidence for another notion: We sleep to forget some of the things we learn each day (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source). In order to learn, we have to grow connections, or synapses, between the neurons in our brains. These connections enable neurons to send signals to one another quickly and efficiently. We store new memories in these networks.

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Cutting H-1Bs Could Mean More Competition From China and India, Says GoDaddy CEO
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 12:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's different-perspective department:
Silicon Valley companies continue to express their concerns about the restrictions on H-1B visa program. The H-1B visa program -- which enables U.S. companies to hire foreign workers -- has become a political lightning rod but remains essential for American companies to hire the technical talent they need to compete on a global scale, said GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving. From his interview on CNBC: "We do not produce enough technically qualified candidates in this country," he said. "You can't take an 18-month training program and produce a machine-learning scientist." Irving was particularly concerned about overseas competition. The American university system is good at training foreign workers for tech jobs, and it is essential that the U.S. government allows them to stay in the country to fulfill U.S. jobs, he said. Otherwise, we train workers from countries like China and India and then send them back to those countries to set up tech ecosystems that compete with Silicon Valley.

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Government Watchdog Says SpaceX Falcon 9s Are Prone To Cracks
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 10:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's need-for-slowing-down department:
An anonymous reader shares an Engadget article: SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets apparently have a serious issue that could delay the company's manned missions. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Government Accountability Office investigated both Boeing and SpaceX -- the corporations that won NASA's space taxi contracts -- and found that Falcon 9's turbine blades suffer from persistent cracks. GAO's preliminary report says these turboblades' tendency to crack is a "major threat to rocket safety," since they pump fuel into Falcon 9's rocket engines. NASA's acting administrator Robert Lightfoot told the WSJ that government officials have known about the issue for months or even years. The agency even told SpaceX that the cracks are too much risk for manned flights. A spokesperson said SpaceX has "qualified [its] engines to be robust" to cracks, but it's now "modifying the design to avoid them altogether."

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'To Live Your Best Life, Do Mathematics'
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 10:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's pursuit-of-happiness department:
Excerpts from an article on Quanta Magazine, rearranged for clarity and space: Math conferences don't usually feature standing ovations, but Francis Su received one last month in Atlanta. In his talk he framed mathematics as a pursuit uniquely suited to the achievement of human flourishing, a concept the ancient Greeks called eudaimonia, or a life composed of all the highest goods. Su talked of five basic human desires that are met through the pursuit of mathematics: play, beauty, truth, justice and love. Su opened his talk with the story of Christopher, an inmate serving a long sentence for armed robbery who had begun to teach himself math from textbooks he had ordered. After seven years in prison, during which he studied algebra, trigonometry, geometry and calculus, he wrote to Su asking for advice on how to continue his work. After Su told this story, he asked the packed ballroom at the Marriott Marquis, his voice breaking: "When you think of who does mathematics, do you think of Christopher?" If mathematics is a medium for human flourishing, it stands to reason that everyone should have a chance to participate in it. But in his talk Su identified what he views as structural barriers in the mathematical community that dictate who gets the opportunity to succeed in the field -- from the requirements attached to graduate school admissions to implicit assumptions about who looks the part of a budding mathematician. When Su finished his talk, the audience rose to its feet and applauded, and many of his fellow mathematicians came up to him afterward to say he had made them cry. [...] Mathematics builds skills that allow people to do things they might otherwise not have been able to do or experience. If I learn mathematics and I become a better thinker, I develop perseverance, because I know what it's like to wrestle with a hard problem, and I develop hopefulness that I will actually solve these problems. And some people experience a kind of transcendent wonder that they're seeing something true about the universe. That's a source of joy and flourishing.

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Facebook's AI Unlocks the Ability To Search Photos By What's in Them
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 09:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's sounds-creepy department:
An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch report: Initially used to improve the experience for visually impaired members of the Facebook community, the company's Lumos computer vision platform is now powering image content search for all users. This means you can now search for images on Facebook with keywords that describe the contents of a photo, rather than being limited by tags and captions. To accomplish the task, Facebook trained an ever-fashionable deep neural network on tens of millions of photos. Facebook's fortunate in this respect because its platform is already host to billions of captioned images. The model essentially matches search descriptors to features pulled from photos with some degree of probability.

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False News, Absurd Reality Present Challenges For Satirists
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 09:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's weird-problem department:
Between reality and the bubble of fantasy news stories, these are tough times for satirists. From a report on AP, submitted by several readers: The New Yorker magazine recently took steps to distinguish Andy Borowitz's humor columns from politically motivated false stories circulating online. His editor said the New Yorker was getting email asking if there was a difference between the two. So they changed the tagline for "The Borowitz Report" from "the news, reshuffled" to "not the news" on the magazine's website. When the stories are shared online, they are more clearly identified as satire, said Nicholas Thompson, editor of NewYorker.com. Borowitz's columns take the form of news stories, like one headlined this week, "Trump fires attorney general after copy of Constitution is found on her computer." One story last week: "Trump enraged as Mexican president meets with Meryl Streep instead." Thompson admits: "It's a weird problem to have."

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Sony PlayStation 4 Is Finally Adding Support For External Hard Drive
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 07:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department:
The Sony PlayStation 4's next system update, out now for beta testers, will allow users to connect an external USB hard drive. From company's blog post: It's easy to upgrade the HDD that came with your PS4, but if you're still looking for more storage space on the console, we've got you covered. With this update, you have the option to store content to an external HDD. Just plug a USB 3.0 HDD into your PS4, and voila, you now have more space on the console.

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Microsoft Introduces GVFS (Git Virtual File System)
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 07:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-file-systems department:
Saeed Noursalehi, principal program manager at Microsoft, writes on a blog post: We've been working hard on a solution that allows the Git client to scale to repos of any size. Today, we're introducing GVFS (Git Virtual File System), which virtualizes the file system beneath your repo and makes it appear as though all the files in your repo are present, but in reality only downloads a file the first time it is opened. GVFS also actively manages how much of the repo Git has to consider in operations like checkout and status, since any file that has not been hydrated can be safely ignored. And because we do this all at the file system level, your IDEs and build tools don't need to change at all! In a repo that is this large, no developer builds the entire source tree. Instead, they typically download the build outputs from the most recent official build, and only build a small portion of the sources related to the area they are modifying. Therefore, even though there are over 3 million files in the repo, a typical developer will only need to download and use about 50-100K of those files. With GVFS, this means that they now have a Git experience that is much more manageable: clone now takes a few minutes instead of 12+ hours, checkout takes 30 seconds instead of 2-3 hours, and status takes 4-5 seconds instead of 10 minutes. And we're working on making those numbers even better.

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Amazon Now Has More Than 341,000 Employees -- Added 110,000 People Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 06:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's further-expansion department:
Amazon added more than 110,000 employees during the past year, topping 341,000 people as of the end of 2016 thanks largely to a significant increase in the Seattle-based tech giant's network of fulfillment centers around the world and further expansion of its businesses in several overseas new markets. From a report: Amazon employed just 32,000 people globally five years ago. Amazon's net growth of more than 110,000 people during the past year almost rivals Microsoft's total employment of 120,000 people as of Dec. 31. That comparison of Microsoft and Amazon isn't apples-to-apples given the differences in their businesses, but it gives a sense of the scope of Amazon's employment base. Amazon employs about 40,000 people in Washington state, compared to 45,000 for Microsoft. Amazon doesn't show any signs of slowing down. The company said previously that it plans to add another 100,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. over the next 18 months.

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Nvidia Stops Promotional Game Resales By Tying Codes To Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 06:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's second-source-of-income department:
Nvidia is putting a stop to the resale of bundled promotional game keys by tying them to a specific graphics card purchase, according to Ars Technica. Users will now have to redeem codes via the GeForce Experience (GFE) app, which is directly linked to third-party services like Steam and Uplay. Users must also ensure that the requisite graphics card is "installed before redemption." GFE then performs "a hardware verification step to ensure the coupon code is redeemed on the system with the qualifying GPU." From the report: Previously, retailers sent promotional game codes to customers that purchased a qualifying product. Those codes could then be redeemed on Nvidia's website, which spit out the relevant Steam, Uplay, Origin, or Microsoft Store key. Since the promotional game codes were not tied to a specific account, many users took to either gifting spare keys to friends or selling them on eBay in order to offset the cost of the graphics card purchase. [Ars Technica has updated their report with additional information:] Nvidia has confirmed that while GFE checks to ensure a user has installed a qualifying graphics card like a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080, the game itself is not permanently linked to the hardware. GFE's hardware check is based only on the wider product range, and not on a specific serial number. The company has also confirmed that the redemption process permanently adds the game to the appropriate third-party service. For example, if users redeems a promotional game key through to Steam, that game will be useable on any other device, just like normal Steam games. Users can also opt to uninstall GFE, or install a different graphics card, once the promotional code has been redeemed and still retain full ownership of the game. A full set of instructions for redeeming codes is now available on Nvidia's website.

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Electric Car Battery Prices Fell By 80% In the Last 7 Years, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '17 at 02:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-fallin department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Hardavenue: According to the study made by McKinsey, the cost of electric car batteries has decreased by 80% since 2010. Tesla offers much lower cost batteries. As electric cars become more widely used, drivers are expected to see lower prices for electric cars and lower charging costs, as well as increased awareness of climate-changing carbon-emissions-rich gasoline and diesel vehicles. The reduction in the production costs of electric cars is very important for both the company and the drivers because if the production costs are low, the drivers will have a low price electric cars and it will be easier to spread these vehicles. According to McKinsey's research on the sale of electric cars and the profitability of companies, the costly electric vehicle batteries are the biggest obstacle ahead of the profitability of the companies, but this will come to an end in the near future, as the cost of electric vehicle batteries will fall below $100 per kWh. According to the research result, we can see that the same batteries can be produced at 227 kWh per kWh in 2010, while an electric car battery at 1000 USD per kWh. Of course, this cost is still very high compared to the battery cost of a car with a similar derivative internal combustion engine, but the researchers think that the cost of electric vehicles will decline evenly, and that by 2020 there will be $ 190 per kWh and $ 20 per kWh less than $ 100 per kWh. The pioneer in the field of electric cars, is one step ahead of competition. McKinsey's research suggests electric car battery costs to be $ 190 in 2020, while Tesla has already announced that in 2016, battery costs are $ 190 per kWh. Elon Musk has earlier announced that in 2020 the cost of the battery will be at the level of $ 100 per kWh.

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Hacker Dumps iOS Cracking Tools Allegedly Stolen From Cellebrite
Posted by News Fetcher on February 02 '17 at 11:12 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's hacking-the-hackers department:
Last year, when Apple refused to unlock the security on an iPhone 5c belonging to the San Bernardino shooter, the FBI turned to an Israeli mobile forensics firm called Cellebrite to find another way into the encrypted iPhone. Now Motherboard reports that a hacker has released files allegedly from Cellebrite that demonstrate how cracking tools couldn't be kept private. From a report: Now the hacker responsible has publicly released a cache of files allegedly stolen from Cellebrite relating to Android and BlackBerry devices, and older iPhones, some of which may have been copied from publicly available phone cracking tools." The ripped, decrypted and fully functioning Python script set to utilize the exploits is also included within," the hacker wrote in a README file accompanying the data dump. The hacker posted links to the data on Pastebin. It's not clear when any of this code was used in the UFED. Many of the directory names start with "ufed" followed by a different type of phone, such as BlackBerry or Samsung. In their README, the hacker notes much of the iOS-related code is very similar to that used in the jailbreaking scene -- a community of iPhone hackers that typically breaks into iOS devices and release its code publicly for free.

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Mexican Surgeon Uses VR Headset To Distract Patients During Surgery
Posted by News Fetcher on February 02 '17 at 08:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's carrot-and-stick-approach department:
dryriver writes: The BBC has a longish story on a Mexican surgeon who makes his patients wear a VR headset that distracts them from the surgical procedure being performed on them. While Dr Mosso cuts and removes and stitches, the patient flies through a 3D VR re-creation of Machu Picchu or other fantastical places, oblivious to being in an otherwise -- for many patients -- stress inducing surgical setting. This removes the need to give patients powerful sedatives or painkillers to keep them calm and prevent their blood pressure from fluctuating. The surgeon only anesthetizes the part of the body where the surgery is performed, while the patient is absorbed in colorful and immersive VR worlds. An excerpt from the report: "The surgeon makes his first cut and blood spills down Ana's leg. She's surrounded by medical equipment -- stools, trolleys, swabs, syringes -- with super-bright surgical lamps suspended above the bed. Her vital signs are displayed on monitors just behind. But Ana is oblivious. She's immersed in a three-dimensional re-creation of Machu Picchu. She begins her journey with a breathtaking aerial view of the ancient city clinging to the mountainside, before swooping down to explore the details of stepped terraces, moss-covered walls and tiny stone huts. Mosso watches her carefully. A 54-year-old surgeon at Panamerican University in Mexico City, he's on a mission to bring virtual reality into the operating room. Mosso is using VR as a high-tech distraction technique, allowing surgeons to carry out operations that would normally require powerful painkillers and sedatives, with nothing more than local anaesthetic. He's trying to prove that reducing drug doses in this way not only slashes costs for Mexico's cash-strapped hospitals, but cuts complications and recovery times for patients too."

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