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Minecraft Has Now Sold Over 25 Million Copies on PC and Mac
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '17 at 09:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's gaining-traction department:
An anonymous reader shares a Neowin article: Minecraft is a 3D video game created by Markus Persson, and published on PC by Mojang back in 2011. Ever since its release, it's been very popular and has become a global phenomenon. Received positively by reviewers and consumers alike, it has been a commercial success. In fact, its continuing popularity prompted Microsoft to buy Mojang for $2.5 billion in 2014. It so happens that the game has sold over 25 million copies on PC and Mac to-date. According to the latest statistics publicly available on Mojang's website, Minecraft has sold 25,072,545 copies on PC and Mac.

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Rumors of Cmd's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '17 at 09:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stating-it-out department:
Senior Program Manager at Microsoft has responded to speculations that Command Prompt is going away. He writes: The Cmd shell remains an essential part of Windows, and is used daily by millions of businesses, developers, and IT Pro's around the world. In fact: 1. Much of the automated system that builds and tests Windows itself is a collection of many Cmd scripts that have been created over many years, without which we couldn't build Windows itself! 2. Cmd is one of the most frequently run executables on Windows with a similar number of daily launches as File Explorer, Edge and Internet Explorer! 3. Many of our customers and partners are totally dependent on Cmd, and all its quirks, for their companies" existence!
In short: Cmd is an absolutely vital feature of Windows and, until there's almost nobody running Cmd scripts or tools, Cmd will remain within Windows.

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Apple Removes NYTimes App in China, Shows How Far It Is Willing To Go To Please Local Authority
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '17 at 08:33 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's bendiness department:
Apple has removed the New York Times app from its store in China after a government request, in an example of how far the company will go to please the authorities in its third-largest market. From a report: China operates what is thought to be the largest internet censorship regime in the world, blocking thousands of foreign websites viewed as a threat by the ruling Communist party. Google, Twitter, Facebook Youtube and Instagram are all inaccessible. Apple removed the English and Chinese-language versions of the New York Times app on 23 December, although it was not immediately clear why. "We have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations," said Carolyn Wu, an Apple spokeswoman. "As a result the app must be taken down off the China app store. When this situation changes the app store will once again offer the New York Times app for download in China."

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Snapchat Cited False User Numbers in Order To Boost IPO, Alleges Lawsuit by Ex-worker
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '17 at 08:33 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's whatever-it-takes department:
A lawsuit filed against Snap Inc. by a former employee claims the company reported false growth numbers to investors in an effort to inflate its valuation. An anonymous reader shares a report: The plaintiff, Anothony Pompliano, joined the company (then known as Snapchat) as a growth lead in September of last year from Facebook. Pompliano claims the company's "institutional pandemic" of misrepresentation of its user numbers was fueled by its pursuit of a multi-billion dollar initial public offering (IPO) -- a number of prior reports have claimed the company could go public as soon as March. Snap's visual messaging app Snapchat is known for its popularity with younger millennials (aged 25 and under). Despite remaining tight-lipped about its official statistics, leaked reports put its daily active user base at 150 million (higher than that of fellow social platform Twitter). Additionally, its daily video views count hit an impressive 10 billion in April 2016. Numbers like these have had the industry buzzing over its expected IPO, with analysts claiming the company could be valued as high as $25 billion.

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Apple App Store Developers Earned $20 Billion in 2016, Up 40 Percent Year Over Year
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '17 at 07:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's $$$ department:
Apple said Thursday its App Store generated $20 billion for developers in 2016, a 40 percent increase from 2015, helped by the popularity of games such as Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run and increased revenue from subscriptions. From a report on CNBC: "2016 was an amazingly great year for the App Store," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, told CNBC. "We continue to advance what is available for developers to create. And our catalog of apps grew 20 percent to 2.2 million." Schiller said the biggest drivers for the App Store included games such as "Pokemon Go," which was the most downloaded app in 2016; "Super Mario," which was the most downloaded app on Christmas and New Year's days; and subscription-based apps, such as Netflix, Hulu and Time Warner's HBO Go. The tech giant said its biggest day of sales on the App Store was on Jan. 1, 2017, when customers spent a record $240 million. The top grossing markets included the U.S, U.K., Japan and China, which saw 90 percent year-over-year growth.

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Bitcoin Is Crashing
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '17 at 07:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
An anonymous reader writes: Bitcoin is getting smashed. The cryptocurrency was down 18% to about $892 per coin as of 8:17 a.m. ET on Thursday. It is the biggest drop in two years. Earlier this week, on its first trading day of the new year, Bitcoin crossed above the $1,000 mark for the first time since 2013, but it has now tumbled below that level.

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New Analysis Shows Lamar Smith's Accusations On Climate Data Are Wrong
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '17 at 05:52 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-getting-hot-in-here department:
Layzej writes from a report via Ars Technica: In 2015, NOAA released version 4 of their marine temperature dataset called ERSST. The new dataset accounted for a known cooling bias introduced when ocean temperature measurements transitioned from being taken in ship engine intake valves to buoy-based measurements. The warming of the last couple decades increased ever so slightly in NOAA's new analysis. This was a red flag for U.S. House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), who rejects the conclusions of climate science -- like the fact that the Earth's climate is warming. Suddenly he wanted to see the researchers' e-mails and echoed the accusations of contrarian blogs about scientists' supposedly nefarious adjustments to sea surface temperature measurements. Rather than invoking scientific conspiracies, issues like this should be settled by analyzing the data. A new study, led by University of California Berkeley's Zeke Hausfather, does just that -- and Rep. Smith won't like these results, either. To test the NOAA dataset, Zeke's team created instrumentally homogeneous temperature records from sensors available only over the last couple decades. As it happens, the Argo float data, the buoy data, and the satellite data each hew closer to the updated dataset that NOAA used. The older version (3b) gives a global average that is too cool in recent years, growing to an offset of about 0.06 degrees Celsius. The researchers repeat this same analysis for two more major sea surface datasets that are used by the UK Met Office and the Japanese Meteorological Agency for their global temperature records. Both of those datasets also drift cooler than the comparison data, but less so than NOAA's old dataset.

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Astronomers Pinpoint Location of Mysterious Cosmic Radio Bursts
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '17 at 03:02 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are department:
New submitter Netdoctor writes: Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) are massively powerful short-lived radio bursts from far-away sources, and so far a number of theories exist on what generates them. Recently several were detected in the same general location, which adds to the mystery, as any of these pulses would be powerful enough to destroy a source. Since this group of FRBs were detected with single radio telescope dishes, the exact location was difficult to pinpoint. BBC reports here with results from the Very Large Array in New Mexico being trained on the source. From the report: "Outlining their work at a major conference, astronomers say they have now traced the source of one of these bursts to a different galaxy. Dr Chatterjee, from Cornell University, New York, and colleagues used a multi-antenna radio telescope called the Very Large Array (VLA), which had sufficient resolution to precisely determine the location of a flash known as FRB 121102. In 83 hours of observing time over six months in 2016, the VLA detected nine bursts from FRB 121102. In addition to detecting the bright bursts from FRB 121102, the team's observations also revealed an ongoing, persistent source of weaker radio emission in the same region. The flashes and the persistent source must be within 100 light-years of each other, and scientists think they are likely to be either the same object or physically associated with one another. He said some features of the radio source resembled those associated with large black holes. But he said these were typically found only in large galaxies."

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NASA Unveils Two New Missions To Study Truly Strange Asteroids
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '17 at 12:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's go-where-no-man-has-gone-before department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Space.com: NASA's next low-cost planetary missions will attempt to unravel the mysteries of some seriously bizarre asteroids. The space agency has selected projects called Lucy and Psyche via its Discovery Program, which funds highly focused space missions to destinations throughout the solar system. The Lucy project will investigate the Trojan asteroids, which share an orbit with Jupiter, while Psyche will journey to the asteroid belt to study a huge, metallic asteroid named 16 Psyche that resides there. Lucy is scheduled to launch in October 2021. If all goes according to plan, the probe will visit an asteroid in the main asteroid belt -- located between Mars and Jupiter -- in 2025, and then go on to study six Trojan asteroids between 2027 and 2033, NASA officials said. There are two streams of Trojan asteroids. One trails Jupiter, and the other leads the giant planet around the sun. Scientists think both streams may be planetary building blocks that formed far from the sun before being captured into their current orbits by Jupiter's powerful gravity. Psyche will explore one of the oddest objects in the solar system -- a 130-mile-wide (210 kilometers) metallic asteroid that may be the core of an ancient, Mars-size planet. Violent collisions billions of years ago might have stripped away the layers of rock that once lay atop this metallic object, scientists say. Psyche is scheduled to launch in October 2023 and arrive at the asteroid in 2030, NASA officials said.

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Department of Labor Sues Google Over Compensation Data
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 07:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's you-gotta-do-what-you-gotta-do department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: The Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday to get the Internet company to turn over compensation data on its employees. The data request is part of a routine audit into Google's equal opportunity hiring practices, which is required because of the company's role as a federal contractor. Google provides cloud computing services to various federal agencies and the military. Google is obligated to let the government access records that show its hiring doesn't discriminate based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and more. According to the lawsuit, Google has repeatedly refused to provide names, contact information, job history and salary history details that the government has requested for its employees. The Labor Department is now requesting that a judge order all of Google's federal contracts canceled unless it complies with the data request. "Despite many opportunities to produce this information voluntarily, Google has refused to do so," Thomas M. Dowd, acting director for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, said in a statement. "We filed this lawsuit so we can obtain the information we need to complete our evaluation."

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Medium Cuts Staff By One-Third, Shuts Down New York and DC Offices
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 06:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's in-need-of-a-new-strategy department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Medium, the San Francisco-based online publishing platform founded in 2012, has laid off 50 employees, or roughly one-third of its staff. The company will also close offices in New York and Washington, DC. Ev Williams, Medium's CEO, wrote in a lengthy post on Wednesday that the company would be changing its business model despite ending 2016 as "our best year yet." He blamed the entire concept of "ad-driven media on the Internet" as the root of the company's shortcomings. As Williams, who is also a co-founder of Twitter, wrote: "It simply doesn't serve people. In fact, it's not designed to. The vast majority of articles, videos, and other "content" we all consume on a daily basis is paid for -- directly or indirectly -- by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified, and rewarded based on its ability to do that. Period. As a result, we getwell, what we get. And it's getting worse."

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Asus Unveils ZenFone AR With Google's Daydream and Tango Support, Coming In Q2
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 06:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
Krystalo quotes a report from VentureBeat: Probably the most-leaked device at CES 2017 so far has been the Asus ZenFone AR, through no fault of the Taiwanese company. Partner Qualcomm revealed much of the details in a blog post touting the use of its Snapdragon 821 chipset, and infamous leaker Evan Blass (evleaks) added front and back press renders of the phone. The key part that was missing was a release timeframe, which we now have: Q2 2017. The ZenFone AR stands out as the first smartphone that will support both of Google's Daydream and Tango platforms, and is only the second to support the latter (Lenovo's Phab 2 Pro was the first). Daydream is a virtual reality (VR) platform built into Android 7.0 Nougat and above. Tango is an augmented reality (AR) platform that detects users' positions relative to places and objects around them without using GPS or other external signals.

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Tesla Gigafactory Begins Production
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 04:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's game-changing department:
Thelasko writes: Right on schedule, Tesla's Gigafactory has begun production of battery cells. The fact that the factory has opened on schedule has surprised many critics of the company. Reuters reports: "Electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc has started mass production of lithium-ion battery cells at its gigafactory in Nevada along with Japan's Panasonic Corp, the company said on Wednesday. The cylindrical '2170 cells,' which will be used to power Tesla's energy storage products and the new Model 3 sedan, have been jointly designed by Tesla and Panasonic, its longstanding battery partner. The gigafactory will initially produce battery cells for the company's Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy products, Tesla said. The factory is expected to drive down the cost of battery packs by more than 30 percent, the company has said. At peak production, the gigafactory is expected to employ 6,500 workers and create between 20,000 and 30,000 additional jobs in the surrounding regions, Tesla said."

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'Forza Horizon 3' Update Accidentally Published Unencrypted Build of the Game
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 04:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's bad-day-at-work department:
An employee at Forza Horizon 3 developer Playground Games accidentally green-lighted the wrong update file for PC players, who found themselves downloading a whopping 53GB download that turned out to be an unencrypted future build (.37.2) of the entire game intended for developers. Motherboard reports: Naturally, players who'd managed to download it yesterday had a field day leaking the information within, right down to massive posts on Imgur showing all the new cars and forum threads detailing the Porsches thought to come in an future unannounced pack. Since Forza Horizon 3 requires a constant online connection and works off of a constantly refreshing save file, anyone who played the new patch on PC found themselves slapped with an error saying their Forza profiles were no longer available. Playing it with the new build would thus effectively mean starting a new game from scratch, even if they'd dumped dozens of hours into Forza Horizon 3 since its release last September. But starting over is exactly what players shouldn't have done. The best thing they could do was shut down the game, walk away, and wait for a fix. "PC players who completed the download of .37.2 and then started a new game save will have a corrupted saved game," wrote Brian Ekberg, Forza's community manager, in a forum post. "Avoid creating a new saved game on .37.2, and only play on .35.2 to avoid this issue. As long as you have an existing save and have not created a new one on .37.2, your saved game will work correctly once the update is available."

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Over 1,800 MongoDB Databases Held For Ransom By Mysterious Attacker
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's give-me-your-money-or-else department:
An anonymous reader writes: "An attacker going by the name of Harak1r1 is hijacking unprotected MongoDB databases, stealing and replacing their content, and asking for a 0.2 Bitcoin ($200) ransom to return the data," reports Bleeping Computer. According to John Matherly, Shodan founder, over 1,800 MongoDB databases have had their content replaced with a table called WARNING that contains the ransom note. Spotted by security researcher Victor Gevers, these databases are MongoDB instances that feature no administrator password and are exposed to external connections from the internet. Database owners in China have been hit, while Bleeping Computer and MacKeeper have confirmed other infections, one which hit a prominent U.S. healthcare organization and blocked access to over 200,000 user records. These attacks are somewhat similar to attacks on Redis servers in 2016, when an unknown attacker had hijacked and installed the Fairware ransomware on hundreds of Linux servers running Redis DB. The two series of attacks don't appear to be related.

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Samsung Claims Its New QLED TVs Are Better Than OLED TVs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
Samsung recently unveiled its latest flagship televisions at CES 2017, the QLED series. The company is challenging the notion that OLED TVs represent the pinnacle of picture quality in the living room. According to Samsung, the QLED TV represents its best achievement in image quality and viewing experience yet. The Verge reports: Of course Samsung would say that at an event meant to showcase said product. But the company insists it's made very real improvements compared to the flagship TVs it unveiled only a year ago. One of those upgrades pertains to brightness. The QLED TVs reach a peak brightness between 1,500 and 2,000 nits -- up from the 1,000 peak from 2016's lineup. Color reproduction has also been improved. The QLED sets handle DCI-P3 "accurately" and are capable of reproducing "100 percent color volume" -- something Samsung claims to be a world first. "This means they can express all colors at any level of brightness -- with even the subtlest differences visible at the QLED's peak luminance -- between 1,500 and 2,000 nits." Samsung says all of this is possible because it's using a new metal material along with the quantum dot nanocrystals. On the software end, Samsung's 2017 TVs are still powered by Tizen and feature basically the same user interface as last year. But there are some new additions like a sports mode that aggregates scores and other content from your favorite teams and an expanded Music section that lets you Shazam music as it's playing in a TV show and immediately launch that track in Spotify another streaming services. Samsung is also looking to clean up how its TVs look in your living room. New this year is a clear-colored "Invisible Connection cable" that runs from the TV to an external breakout box where you'll find all the HDMI ports and other critical connections (besides power, which is a separate input).

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Google's AlphaGo AI Secretively Won More Than 50 Straight Games Against World's Top Go Players
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-tell-anyone department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: When Google's artificial intelligence program AlphaGo made history by taking down Korea's Lee Sedol -- one of the world's best Go players -- in a landslide 4-1 victory in March, Chinese player Ke Jie was skeptical. He famously wrote on Weibo the next day, "Even if AlphaGo can defeat Lee Sedol, it can't beat me," and has since agreed to take on the AI at an undecided time. But now even Ke, the reigning top-ranked Go player, has acknowledged that human beings are no match for robots in the complex board game, after he lost three games to an AI that mysteriously popped up online in recent days. The AI turned out to be AlphaGo in disguise. On Jan. 4, after winning more than 50 games against several of the world's best Go players, Ke included, a user registered with an ID of "Master" on two Chinese board game platforms came forward to identify itself as AlphaGo. "I'm AlphaGo's Doctor Huang," the user "Master" wrote on foxwq.com, according to screenshots from Chinese media reports. Taiwanese developer Aja Huang is a member of Google's DeepMind team behind the AI. Since Dec. 29, Master has defeated a long list of top Go players including Korea's Park Jung-hwan (world No. 3), Japan's Iyama Yuta (No. 5) and Ke in fast-paced games. He won 51 games straight before his 52nd rival, Chen Yaoye, went offline, forcing the game to be recorded as a tie. By Jan. 4 when the test was completed, Master had racked up 60 wins, plus the one tie, and zero loss, according to numerous reports (link in Chinese).

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Apple is Investing $1 Billion In SoftBank
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 02:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's $$$ department:
Apple said Wednesday it plans to invest $1 billion in SoftBank's new technology fund to help finance technologies it could use in the future. From a report: SoftBank has said it is investing at least $25 billion in the fund and has been in talks with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund for an investment that could go up to $45 billion. "We believe their new fund will speed the development of technologies which may be strategically important to Apple," company spokesman Josh Rosenstock told Reuters. SoftBank has also said that it plans to make future large-scale investments via the tech fund, rather than on its own.

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Amazon's Robot Workforce Grows By 50 Percent In Just One Year
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 12:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-of-them department:
Amazon hires a lot of people. But the expansion of its army of orange-wheeled robots is more than keeping pace. An anonymous reader writes: E-commerce and cloud giant Amazon has revealed that it now has 45,000 robots across 20 fulfilment centres around the world. This is a 50 percent increase on the same time last year, when the company said that it employed 30,000 robots alongside its 306,000 people. Amazon uses the robots to automate the picking and packing process at large warehouses. The robots are 16in tall and weigh 145kg. They can travel at 5mph and can carry packages that weigh 317kg. The robots became part of the company's workforce when Amazon acquired Kiva Systems in 2012 for $775m.

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Zuckerberg Could Run Facebook While Serving in Government Forever
Posted by News Fetcher on January 04 '17 at 12:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Reader randomErr writes: Closer look at SEC documents reveal that Zuckerberg only needs to own enough Facebook stock or have the board's approval to be allowed to serve in the government. This comes hours after, Facebook co-founder said his 2017 personal challenge is to meet and listen to people in all 50 states, hinting that he may have intentions of getting into politics. Without the limit, Zuckerberg has the opportunity to be appointed or elected to a more significant office and have as much time as he wants to make an impact, rather than just dipping in potentially as a cabinet member whose terms typically last less than two years. Of course, getting elected would require the faith of the people which has been shaken by the fake news scandal. Some would surely view a role in government as a selfish push for power despite Zuckerberg's massive philanthropy initiatives. Certain government offices might have historically required him to give up control of Facebook, but Donald Trump is currently redefining how much ownership of business one can have as President

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