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How Do Spectre/Meltdown Fixes Affect The Linux Kernel?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 12:10 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's benchmarking-bugs department:
"Using the newly minted Linux 4.19 feature code, fresh benchmarks were carried out looking at the performance cost of Spectre/Meltdown/Foreshadow mitigations on Intel Xeon v. AMD EPYC CPUs," writes an anonymous Slashdot reader:
Workloads affected by these CPU vulnerabilities mainly deal with I/O and frequent kernel calls while CPU bound tests are still found to be minimally impacted. When toggling these mitigations on Linux 4.19, Intel Xeon CPUs were found to be 10~15% slower with the default kernel while AMD EPYC CPUs dropped to about 5% slower.

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Former Reddit CEO Decries 'Rage-Induced Interactions' on Facebook and Twitter
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 12:10 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's anger-mismanagement department:
Were the creators of Facebook and Twitter oblivious to how social networks could be abused? "I struggle to believe that these brilliant product CEOs, who have created social media services used by millions of people worldwide, are actually naive," writes the former CEO of Reddit. "It's a lot more likely that they simply don't care."
[S]ocial media companies and the leaders who run them are rewarded for focusing on reach and engagement, not for positive impact or for protecting subsets of users from harm. They're rewarded for keeping costs down, which encourages the free-for-all, anything-goes approach misnomered "free speech." If they don't need to monitor their platforms, they don't need to come up with real policies -- and avoid paying for all the people and tools required to implement them....
In the earliest days, it wasn't always obvious what these platforms were doing and what they would become -- even to insiders. But at a certain point, it became clear that money was the driving factor, and dopamine- or rage-induced interactions meant more money.... CEOs should just forget about hiding behind "naivete" and "free speech," and instead remind themselves they can take actions that will meaningfully change the direction of the future. The first step is acknowledging the problem... You've solved for increasing engagement; now it's time to make real, positive interactions a priority.
The next time a CEO claims ignorance, "we must hold them accountable," the essay argues, complaining that right now there's a vacuum of leadership.
So instead, "Everyone's holding hands on the road to hell."

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J.R.R. Tolkein's Last Book Finally Published
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 10:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's final-fantasies department:
An anonymous reader quotes CNET:
J.R.R. Tolkien fans can get their hands on what might be the late author's final work. The Fall of Gondolin was published August 30 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the US and HarperCollins in the UK. J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973, but since his death, his son Christopher, now 93, has edited a number of his father's works, including this one. The book tells of the founding of the Elven city of Gondolin, and is considered one of Tolkien's Lost Tales...
The Fall of Gondolin follows another posthumously published Lost Tale, The Tale of Beren and Luthien, which came out in 2017. At the time, many expected that book to be J.R.R. Tolkien's final published work. Christopher Tolkien even wrote in its preface that it was "(presumptively) my last book in the long series of my father's writings." But now, Entertainment Weekly reports, Christopher Tolkien has written that "The Fall of Gondolin is indubitably the last."
The book is illustrated by Alan Lee, who has illustrated numerous Tolkien books, and along with Grant Major and Dan Hennah won an Oscar for best art direction for the 2003 film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

The Washington Post includes the book's description of a "hideous mechanical army" deployed in battle against Gondolin, and summarizes the book's plot. "In short, the evil overlord Morgoth -- called Melko here -- seeks to dominate the entire world, but the hidden elvish city of Gondolin remains out of his grasp."
"We are reminded that Tolkien first drafted this story while in the hospital recuperating from the Battle of the Somme."

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30% of America's Student Loan Borrowers Can't Keep Up After Six Years
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 10:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's whose-default-is-it department:
The IRS recently ruled that under some circumstances employers can link their 401(k) matching contributions to the amount of an employee's student loan repayments -- making it easier for recent graduates to take advantage of this employer benefit. But that's one spot of good news in a sea of bad, according to one anonymous Slashdot reader:
Two new articles criticize America's student loan policies (under both the Obama and Trump administrations). CNBC cites reports that within six years, more than 15% of student borrowers had officially defaulted, while 10% more had stopped making payments and another 4.8% were at least 90 days late. And for-profit colleges fared even worse, where nearly 25% of graduates defaulted, and a total of 44% faced "some form of loan distress."
These trends were masked by Department of Education reports which stopped tracking repayment rates after just three years (reporting defaults rates of just 10%), according to Ben Miller, senior director for post-secondary education at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. "Official statistics present a relatively rosy picture of student debt. But looking at outcomes over more time and in greater detail shows that hundreds of thousands more borrowers from each cohort face troubles repaying."

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Will Future Nuclear Power Plants Float?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 09:30 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cruising-plutonium department:
Russia isn't the first country to launch a floating nuclear power plant. 50 years ago America's army built a floating nuclear power plant to supply energy to the Panama Canal Zone. Even though it's now being dismantled in Texas -- a four-year job -- China has plans to build as many as 20 floating nuclear power plants.

Gayle BAS quotes the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:
Proponents say that floating nuclear plants have major advantages over land-based power plants: They have easy access to cooling water and can be quickly installed near coastal cities with rapidly growing energy demands. And unlike other types of energy that produce relatively few climate-altering emissions, nuclear power plants can run 24/7.
But as with onshore nuclear reactors, the closely related issues of safety and economics could be showstoppers.

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After 24 Years Doom 2's Last Secret Has Finally Been Discovered
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 08:10 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's achievement-unlocked department:
"Almost 25 years after it was released, Doom 2 has finally given up its last secret..." writes Polygon. An anonymous reader quotes their report:

It's secret No. 4 on Map 15 (Industrial Zone). Now, the area in question has been known, seen and accessed by other means (usually a noclip cheat code). Getting to it without a cheat appears to be deliberately impossible, according to Doom co-creator John Romero. Romero tweeted out congratulations to the solution's discoverer, Zero Master. Zero Master figured out that the way to trigger the secret was to be pushed into the secret area by an enemy (in this case, a Pain Elemental).

Apparently the secret sector was an area just below the floor of a teleporter -- but entering that teleporter meant players rose up to the level of the teleporter's floor, according to Romero, so "you never enter the sector... you would never get inside the teleporter sector to trigger the secret."

One Reddit user notes Zero Master "has the first legit Doom 2 100% save file on earth, after 24 years."

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Open Source Devs Reverse Decision to Block ICE Contractors From Using Software
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 06:50 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's taking-licenses department:
An anonymous reader quotes Motherboard:
Less than 24 hours after a software developer revoked access to Lerna, a popular open-source software management program, for any organization that contracted with U.S. immigrations and Customs Enforcement, access has been restored for any organization that wishes to use it and the developer has been removed from the project... The modified version specifically banned 16 organizations, including Microsoft, Palantir, Amazon, Northeastern University, Johns Hopkins University, Dell, Xerox, LinkedIn, and UPS... Although open-source developer Jamie Kyle acknowledged that it's "part of the deal" that anyone "can use open source for evil," he told me he couldn't stand to see the software he helped develop get used by companies contracting with ICE.
Kyle's modification of Lerna's license was originally assented to by other lead developers on the project, but the decision polarized the open-source community. Some applauded his principled stand against ICE's human rights violations, while others condemned his violation of the spirit of open-source software. Eric Raymond, the founder of the Open Source Initiative and one of the authors of the standard-bearing Open Source Definition, said Kyle's decision violated the fifth clause of the definition, which prohibits discrimination against people or groups. "Lerna has defected from the open-source community and should be shunned by anyone who values the health of that community," Raymond wrote in a blog post on his website.
The core contributor who eventually removed Kyle also apologized for Kyle's licensing change, calling it a "rash decision" (which was also "unenforceable.")
Eric Raymond had called the decision "destructive of one of the deep norms that keeps the open source community functional -- keeping politics separated from our work."

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Procrastination Is More About Managing Emotions Than Time, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 05:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-all-in-your-head department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: [A new study] identified two areas of the brain that determine whether we are more likely to get on with a task or continually put it off. Researchers used a survey and scans of 264 people's brains to measure how proactive they were. Experts say the study, in Psychological Science, underlines procrastination is more about managing emotions than time. It found that the amygdala -- an almond-shaped structure in the temporal (side) lobe which processes our emotions and controls our motivation -- was larger in procrastinators. In these individuals, there were also poorer connections between the amygdala and a part of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC). The DACC uses information from the amygdala and decides what action the body will take. It helps keep the person on track by blocking out competing emotions and distractions. The researchers suggest that procrastinators are less able to filter out interfering emotions and distractions because the connections between the amygdala and the DACC in their brains are not as good as in proactive individuals.

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Boeing Wins Bid To Build the Navy's Carrier-Launched Tanker Drone
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 02:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-a-bird-it's-a-plane-it's-a-tanker-drone department:
Boeing has been awarded an $805 million contract by the U.S. Navy to build four prototypes of its design for the MQ-25 "Stingray," an unmanned, carrier-based tanker aircraft. The drone "will help extend the range of the Navy's future carrier air wings and keep carriers themselves out of range of coastal defenses," reports Ars Technica. From the report: Boeing beat out Lockheed Martin and General Atomics for the contract. Northrop Grumman -- which built the Navy's first carrier-based drone prototype, the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System-Demonstration (UCAS-D) -- dropped out of the competition last year. The prototype contract is the first step toward delivering "initial operating capability," a first production run of the drones, by 2024. The MQ-25's design requirements called for an aircraft capable of launching from a carrier deck and delivering 14,000 pounds (6,300kg) of fuel to aircraft 500 nautical miles (926km) away. That capacity and range, along with the low-observable shape of the drone, could essentially double the range of F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35C Joint Strike Fighter attack missions. Eventually, Boeing could deliver up to 72 Stingrays at a cost of $13 billion.

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CRISPR Gene Editing Fixes Muscular Dystrophy In Dogs, Humans Could Be Next
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '18 at 12:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-on-the-list department:
schwit1 shares a report from Time: In a new paper published in Science, researchers led by Eric Olson, professor and chair of molecular biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, reported that he and his team successfully used CRISPR to correct the genetic defect responsible for Duchenne muscular dystrophy in four beagles bred with the disease-causing gene. It's the first use of CRISPR to treat muscular dystrophy in a large animal. (Previous studies had tested the technology on rodents.) In varying degrees, the genetic therapy halted the muscle degradation associated with the disease. Duchenne is caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, which codes for a protein essential for normal muscle function. People born with the disease are often eventually confined to wheelchairs as their muscles continue to weaken, and in the later stages, many rely on ventilators to breathe as their diaphragm muscles stop working. Eventually, they develop heart and respiratory failure. Olson and his team "fixed" the mutated dystrophin gene in four dogs by splicing out an offending section of the gene using CRISPR. The gene editing technology, discovered in 2012, can cut out sections of DNA at precise locations (and also potentially introduce new DNA as well). In the case of Duchenne, says Olson, simply snipping out a section of the mutated dystrophin gene allows the gene to make enough of the proper protein that muscles need to function. The hope is that if those animal studies and human trials prove this technique is safe and effective, CRISPR could potentially lead to a cure for Duchenne, Olson says. "We are going for a cure, not a treatment," he says. "All of the other therapies so far for Duchenne muscular dystrophy have treated the symptoms and consequences of the disease. This is going right at the root cause of the genetic mutation."

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Lego Wants To Completely Remake Its Toy Bricks Using Plant-Based Or Recycled Materials
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 08:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slowly-but-surely department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Seattle Times: Lego is trying to refashion the product it is best known for: It wants to eliminate its dependence on petroleum-based plastics, and build its toys entirely from plant-based or recycled materials by 2030. The challenge is designing blocks that click together yet separate easily, retain bright colors, and survive the rigors of being put through a laundry load, or the weight of an unknowing parent's foot. In essence, the company wants to switch the ingredients, but keep the product exactly the same. [...] Lego emits about 1 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, about three-quarters of which comes from the raw materials that go into its factories, according to Tim Brooks, the company's vice president for environmental responsibility. Lego is taking a two-pronged approach to reducing the amount of pollution it causes. For one, it wants to keep all of its packaging out of landfills by 2025 by eliminating things like plastic bags inside its cardboard packaging. It is also pushing for the plastic in its toys to come from sources like plant fibers or recycled bottles by 2030. The billion-dollar company is reportedly investing about $120 million and hiring about 100 people to make these changes possible. "Lego is already using polyethylene made from sugar-cane husks in flexible pieces like dragon wings, palm trees and fishing rods, but these constitute only 1 to 2 percent of its output, and the material is too soft for the company's toy blocks," reports The Seattle Times. Lego has already experimented with around 200 alternatives, but most of the materials have so far fallen short.

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FCC Criticized For Surrendering Power To Punish Verizon After Firefighters Got Throttled During Wildfire
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 05:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-good-enough department:
Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday criticized the FCC on its response to Verizon's throttling of firefighters' data speeds as they battled a major wildfire in Northern California. "In a letter Friday, Senator Edward Markey and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo demanded answers from the FCC over what steps it is currently taking to address 'critical threats to public safety,' citing its decision to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections," reports Gizmodo. From the report: The 2015 Open Internet Order -- overturned by the FCC's Republican majority last winter -- reclassified internet providers like Verizon as common carriers under Title II of the Federal Communications Act, granting the FCC regulatory authority that, in this instance, would have allowed the commission to investigate and potential penalize Verizon for its decision. At Chairman Ajit Pai's direction, the commission abdicated that authority this year. It no longer has the power to establish rules prohibiting Verizon from throttling emergency services, or charging police and fire departments additional fees to maintain their communications at optimal speeds when usage peaks -- say, during a wildfire, or an earthquake, or a mass shooting.

"The FCC has incorrectly suggested that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could sufficiently fill this void," wrote Markey and Eschoo, whose congressional districting includes portions of Santa Clara. "We strongly disagree with that assertion." In their letter, the Democratic lawmakers urged the FCC to make use of its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and investigate the matter, saying that while the FTC may find Verizon's actions exemplify an "unfair and deceptive practice," both agencies should use "all of the tools available" to resolve this public safety matter. "To do nothing is unacceptable," they said.

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Linus Torvalds No Longer Knows the Whole Linux Kernel and That's OK
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 05:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-panic department:
darthcamaro writes: In a wide-ranging conversation at the Open Source Summit, Linus Torvalds admitted that he no longer knows everything that's in LInux. "Nobody knows the whole kernel anymore," Torvalds said. "Having looked at patches for many years, I know the big picture of all the areas in the kernel and I can look at a patch and know if it's right or wrong." Overall, he emphasized that being open source has enabled Linux to attract new developers that can pick up code and maintain all the various systems in Linux. In his view, the only way to deal with complexity is to be open. "When you have complexity you can't manage it in a closed environment, you need to have the people that actually find problems and give them the ability to get involved and help you to fix them," Torvalds said. "It's a complicated world and the only way to deal with complexity is the open exchange of ideas."

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Scientists Make a Touch Tablet That Rolls and Scrolls
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's one-of-a-kind department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Research scientists at Queen's University's Human Media Lab have built a prototype touchscreen device that's neither smartphone nor tablet but kind of both -- and more besides. The device, which they've christened the MagicScroll, is inspired by ancient (papyrus/paper/parchment) scrolls so it takes a rolled-up, cylindrical form factor -- enabled by a flexible 7.5inch touchscreen housed in the casing. This novel form factor, which they made using 3D printing, means the device can be used like an erstwhile Rolodex (remember those?!) for flipping through on-screen contacts quickly by turning a physical rotary wheel built into the edge of the device. (They've actually added one on each end.) Then, when more information or a deeper dive is required, the user is able to pop the screen out of the casing to expand the visible display real estate. The flexible screen on the prototype has a resolution of 2K. So more mid-tier mobile phone of yore than crisp iPhone Retina display at this nascent stage. The scientists also reckon the scroll form factor offers a pleasing ergonomically option for making actual phone calls too, given that a rolled up scroll can sit snugly against the face. The team posted a video showing the prototype in action. They will be presenting the project at the MobileHCI conference on Human-Computer Interaction in Barcelona next month.

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Apple Records First-Ever Accident In Self-Driving Car Program
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
Apple's self-driving car program has reported its first-ever accident, according to a filing to the state's DMV. No injuries were reported. AppleInsider reports: A test car was rear-ended by a Nissan Leaf while merging onto an expressway, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said on Twitter. The Apple vehicle suffered "moderate" damage. Details are still forthcoming, so it's unclear if the fault was with the Nissan driver, Apple's hardware and software, or some combination of the two. In an update, AppleInsider provided the following information: "The Apple vehicle, a Lexus SUV, was merging onto the Lawrence Expressway in California's Bay Area on Aug. 24, Gurman later wrote, citing a filing by Apple's Steve Kenner with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Leaf was moving at just 15 miles per hour, but was also damaged."

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Murder Suspect Jailed Over Refusing To Reveal Password In the UK
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 02:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hand-it-over department:
A man suspected of murdering a teenager in England has been arrested for failing to hand over his Facebook password to authorities. The BBC reports: Lucy McHugh, 13, was found stabbed to death in woodland last month, a day after she disappeared. Stephen-Alan Nicholson, 24, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an order under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, requiring him to disclose the Facebook password. He was sentenced to 14 months in jail.

He was first arrested on July 27 on suspicion of murder and sexual activity with a child and subsequently bailed. But he was also charged under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The court heard the charge related to a court order that Nicholson disclose his Facebook password protecting any private communications with Lucy McHugh. Passing sentence, Judge Christopher Parker did not accept Nicholson's "wholly inadequate" excuse that providing his password would expose information relating to cannabis.

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Humans To Blame For Most Self-Driving Car Crashes In California, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 02:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's finger-pointing department:
cartechboy writes: Turns out computers are better drivers than humans after all. Axios compiled a study that found the vast majority of crashes in California involving self-driving cars were not caused by the autonomous vehicles themselves. Of the 54 incidents involving 55 companies holding self-driving permits in California, only one crash could be blamed on a self-driving car in autonomous mode. Six crashes were when the self-driving cars were in conventional driving modes, while the majority of the accidents were to be blamed on other drivers or pedestrians. Maybe self-driving cars aren't such a bad thing after all, it's humans that are the problem.

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'Gold Standard' State Net Neutrality Bill Approved By California Assembly
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 01:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's in-the-works department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: California's state Assembly yesterday approved a strict net neutrality bill despite opposition from the telecom industry. California's Senate already approved an earlier version of the bill in May. But some minor changes were made in the Assembly, so the Senate must vote on the bill again today before going into recess. If the Senate approves, California Governor Jerry Brown would have until September 30 to sign the bill into law. The bill would prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling lawful traffic, and from requiring fees from websites or online services to deliver or prioritize their traffic to consumers. The bill also imposes limits on data cap exemptions (so-called "zero-rating") and says that ISPs may not attempt to evade net neutrality protections by slowing down traffic at network interconnection points. Yesterday's Assembly vote was 61-18. All 55 Democratic members of the Assembly and six Republicans voted for the bill. All 18 votes against it came from Republicans. "ISPs have tried hard to gut and kill this bill, pouring money and robocalls into California," Electronic Frontier Foundation Policy Analyst Katharine Trendacosta said. "California could pass a gold standard net neutrality bill, providing a template for states going forward. California can prove that ISP money can't defeat real people's voices."

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Lenovo's Yoga Book C930 Laptop Swaps the Keyboard For an E Ink Display
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Lenovo has launched a laptop with an e-ink display in place of a normal keyboard. An anonymous reader writes: The Yoga Book C930 laptop follows in the footsteps of the Yoga Book A12, the convertible that was all the rage at IFA back in 2016. That device swapped the standard keyboard for a touchscreen, so the surface could double as a drawing pad. It wasn't particularly conducive for typing, but it certainly was innovative. The C930 takes things even further, swapping the Halo keyboard for E Ink. It's an interesting application for the technology, which has largely been relegated to the world of e-readers. The secondary display serves the same function as on the A12, doing triple duty as a keyboard, notepad and e-reader. The C930 will be available in October, starting at $1,000.

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China Plans To Restrict New Games Coming Into the Country and Limit the Time Kids Spend Online
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
China's regulators plan to curtail the number of online games and discourage play-time, part of a broader effort to tackle device addiction and other ills that sent shares reeling from the U.S. to Japan. From a report: The curbs were just one aspect of a swathe of edicts intended to address the health and growing incidence of myopia among children. But they come on top of a months-long freeze in game approvals, further muddying the waters for an industry that labors under one of the world's most opaque regulatory regimes. While the new regulations encompassed everything from encouraging outdoor activities to usage of electronics, investors zeroed in on the game curbs during a highly sensitive time for the industry. The government hasn't given any explanation for a freeze on title approvals since March, prompting debate over whether it's a temporary halt due to regulatory reshuffling or whether Beijing is planning a crackdown in a wider campaign against online content. Tencent's inability to monetize its hottest games also cast doubt over the relationship between the world's largest gaming company and the government.

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