By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Microsoft's next iteration of the Xbox One may not have a disc at all, and it might be coming sooner than you think. From a report: That's at least according to rumors from Windows Central, which says a disc-less Xbox One S "All-Digital Edition" will be offered for preorders in April. The new device, said to be code-named Maverick, will offer a "disc-to-digital" program, letting fans turn in physical game discs and convert them to digital downloads, Windows Central added.
One benefit of this new Xbox, Windows Central said, would be that it could push the price of an Xbox down. The Xbox One S starts at $299 and is typically bundled with a game. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment. The move could mark a turning point for the video game industry, which has sold video games on discs and cartridges for decades. Some people still prefer to buy physical copies of their games, in part to share them with friends or trade them in at retailers like GameStop.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-a-disease department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Online, you'll find people who use hashtags like "#digitalhoarder" and hang out in the 120,000-subscriber Reddit forum called /r/datahoarder, where they trade tips on building home data servers, share collections of rare files from video game manuals to ambient audio records, and discuss the best cloud services for backing up files. The often stereotyped hoarders letting heaps of physical items of questionable utility dominate their homes and lives often suffer social stigma and anxiety as a result. By contrast, many self-proclaimed digital hoarders say they enjoy their collections, can keep them contained in a relatively small amount of physical space, and often take pleasure in sharing them with other hobbyists or anyone who wants access to the same public data.
[...] Many people active in the data hoarding community take pride in tracking down esoteric files of the kind that often quietly disappear from the internet -- manuals for older technologies that get taken down when manufacturers redesign their websites, obscure punk show flyers whose only physical copies have long since been pulled from telephone poles and thrown in the trash, or episodes of old TV shows too obscure for streaming services to bid on -- and making them available to those who want them.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Two-fifths of Europe's AI startups do not use any AI programs in their products, according to a report that highlights the hype around the technology. From a report: Out of 2,830 startups in Europe who were classified as being AI companies, only 1,580 accurately fit that description according to the eye-opening stat on page 99 of a new report from MMC, a London-based venture capital firm. The label, which refers to computer systems that can perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, was simply wrong.
"We looked at every company, their materials, their product, the website, and product documents," says David Kelnar, head of research for MMC which has $400 million under management and a portfolio of 34 companies. "In 40% of cases we could find no mention of evidence of AI." In such cases, he added, "companies that people assume and think are AI companies are probably not."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department
According to a senior Republican congressional aide, the National Security Agency has quietly shut down a system that analyzes logs of Americans' domestic calls and texts. "The agency has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not ask Congress to renew its legal authority, which is set to expire at the end of the year, according to the aide, Luke Murry, the House minority leader's national security adviser," reports The New York Times. From the report: In a raw assertion of executive power, President George W. Bush's administration started the program as part of its intense pursuit for Qaeda conspirators in the weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and a court later secretly blessed it. The intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden disclosed the program's existence in 2013, jolting the public and contributing to growing awareness of how both governments and private companies harvest and exploit personal data. The way that intelligence analysts have gained access to bulk records of Americans' phone calls and texts has evolved, but the purpose has been the same: They analyze social links to hunt for associates of known terrorism suspects.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's manufacturing-breakthroughs department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Scientists from Heriot-Watt University have welded glass and metal together using an ultrafast laser system, in a breakthrough for the manufacturing industry. Various optical materials such as quartz, borosilicate glass and even sapphire were all successfully welded to metals like aluminum, titanium and stainless steel using the Heriot-Watt laser system, which provides very short, picosecond pulses of infrared light in tracks along the materials to fuse them together. The new process could transform the manufacturing sector and have direct applications in the aerospace, defense, optical technology and even healthcare fields. Professor Duncan Hand, director of the five-university EPSRC Center for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes based at Heriot-Watt, said: "Traditionally it has been very difficult to weld together dissimilar materials like glass and metal due to their different thermal properties -- the high temperatures and highly different thermal expansions involved cause the glass to shatter. Being able to weld glass and metals together will be a huge step forward in manufacturing and design flexibility."
He added: "The parts to be welded are placed in close contact, and the laser is focused through the optical material to provide a very small and highly intense spot at the interface between the two materials -- we achieved megawatt peak power over an area just a few microns across. This creates a microplasma, like a tiny ball of lightning, inside the material, surrounded by a highly-confined melt region. We tested the welds at -50C to 90C and the welds remained intact, so we know they are robust enough to cope with extreme conditions."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's those-who-do-not-learn-history-are-doomed-to-repeat-it department
Chronicle, a security start-up owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet, plans on sharing what it learned from a cyberattack against Google nearly ten years ago. The hack was conducted by the Chinese military and was "one of the most starting cyberattacks on an American company by government-affiliated agents," reports The New York Times. The lessons it learned from that incident will be brought to other companies through a widely anticipated new product called Backstory. From the report: The idea, company executives said, is simple: Backstory will make Alphabet's vast storage, indexing and search abilities available to other companies, allowing them to search through giant volumes of data, going years back, to trace the back story of a malicious attack. Chronicle is hardly the only company doing this. Dozens of companies promise so-called big data threat intelligence and storage. But many of their customers can't afford to pay to search through huge amounts of information. Chronicle will charge customers by their number of employees.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's unmatched-AI-offerings department
MIT Technology reports of how Huawei's technology road map, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, is progressing more rapidly than any other business in the world. "The [Chinese] government and private sector approach is to build companies that compete across the full tech stack," says Samm Sacks, who specializes in cybersecurity and China at New America, a Washington think tank. "That's what Huawei is doing." Huawei's AI strategy "will also raise a host of new security issues," the report notes. "The company's technological ubiquity, and the fact that Chinese companies are ultimately answerable to their government, are big reasons why the U.S. views Huawei as an unprecedented national security threat." From the report: In an exclusive interview with MIT Technology Review, Xu Wenwei, director of the Huawei board and the company's chief strategy and marketing officer, touted the scope of its AI plans. He also defended the company's record on security. And he promised that Huawei would seek to engage with the rest of the world to address emerging risks and threats posed by AI. Xu (who uses the Western name William Xu) said that Huawei plans to increase its investments in AI and integrate it throughout the company to "build a full-stack AI portfolio." Since Huawei is a private firm, it's tricky to quantify its technology investments. But officials from the company said last year that it planned to more than double annual R&D spending to between $15 billion and $20 billion. This could catapult the company to between fifth and second place in worldwide spending on R&D. According to its website, some 80,000 employees, or 45% of Huawei's workforce, are involved in R&D.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-road department
Microsoft is officially killing off its Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health Dashboard apps and services on May 31st. "The software giant already discontinued its wrist-worn Band fitness tracker more than two years ago, but the company has kept the Band apps running to support existing users," reports The Verge. "That will now change on May 31st, with the backend services ending and the apps being removed from the Microsoft Store, Google Play, and Apple's App Store." From the report: Existing Band users will be able to export their data before the end of May, and services powered by the cloud will cease to function in June. Band users should still be able to record daily steps, heart rate, and workouts, alongside activity data, sleep tracking, and alarm functionality. If a Band user resets a device then it will be "impossible to set up the device again" according to Microsoft.
Some Microsoft Band users will be eligible for a refund from the software giant, though. Microsoft is letting active users who have synced data from a Band to the Health Dashboard between December 1st 2018 and March 1st 2019 apply for a refund on their hardware. Surprisingly, Microsoft is offering $79.99 for Band 1 owners, and $175 for Band 2 devices. If your Microsoft Band is also covered under warranty, the same refund values will be available.Read Replies (0)