By BeauHD from Slashdot's hoping-no-one-will-notice department
AT&T has almost tripled the cost of the "Administrative Fee" featured in its wireless service bills. "Up until early this year, that 'fee' was typically assessed at $0.76 per postpaid line -- not nothing, but over the course of two years of service, it ends up being a little over $18," reports Android Police. From the report: Most recently, subscribers getting their statements for June are finding an Administrative Fee charge of $1.99 per line every month. That brings the two-year cost of this "administrative fee" to almost $50 for each line on your account. The fee was raised earlier this year incrementally in March (by $0.54), but this new hike comes just three months after the first one, and it's not even clear why.
AT&T is likely hoping subscribers just won't notice their per-line bill is going up $1.23 a month versus where it was a few months ago, and in the process, could net almost a billion dollars in additional revenue according to one analyst. This could allow AT&T to finance up to $10 billion in new debt to expand its ever-broadening media empire. The fee is being assessed against all postpaid subscribers, regardless of their service plan or any grandfathering. AT&T says the fee is related to its cost of doing business, in terms of interconnect fees with other operators and cell site rents.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's budget-friendly department
Qualcomm is launching three new chips for mid-tier smartphones -- the Snapdragon 632, 439, and 429 -- all of which promise to make dual cameras more commonplace. Engadget reports: The octa-core 632 is unsurprisingly the headliner, and can support two 13-megapixel rear cameras for those all-important portrait and telephoto shots. It's up to 40 percent faster in raw computational power than the Snapdragon 626, and that means enough power for 4K video capture and "FHD+" resolution displays. Its cellular modem can handle LTE Advanced, too. The Adreno 506 graphics are only about 10 percent faster, but you're still looking at a chip that can handle at least some modern 3D games without flinching.
The octa-core Snapdragon 439 and quad-core 429, meanwhile, are focused more on stepping up the baseline quality for lower-cost devices. They make do with support for dual 8-megapixel cameras and won't handle 4K, but they should deliver up to 25 percent more CPU performance over their forebears (the 430 and 425) on top of the AI-related functions. The best bang for the buck comes with the 429 -- while the Adreno 505 graphics in the 439 are a respectable 20 percent faster, the Adreno 504 inside the 429 is a whopping 50 percent faster. The first phones using these chips will appear sometime in the second half of the year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
At this month's E3, Microsoft confirmed "a first in the booming world of game streaming," reports Ars Technica. "It's a subtle thing, which we're dubbing 'stream-to-win,' and it sees Microsoft take its boldest step in battling the behemoth service Twitch." From the report: Horizon 4 will be the first Microsoft Studios game to recognize when players broadcast their live gameplay via Mixer and then give out bonuses within that game for doing so (Mixer is a Twitch-like service that Microsoft acquired in 2016 before re-dubbing it Beam). All Xbox One consoles received an update last year to integrate one-button "stream to Mixer" support, which players can swap to Twitch by going through the system's options.
In the week-plus since learning this about Horizon 4, we have been unable to find a comparable feature in any video game -- meaning, one that recognizes a broadcast (on Mixer, Twitch, or any other service) and then gives out goodies inside the same video game as a reward. Some video games already include official and deep integration with Twitch and Mixer, but these rely largely on audience-driven votes, like in the digital card game Superfight and the battle royale game Darwin Project.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
On Feb. 6, Elon Musk's SpaceX launched its largest rocket into the blue Florida sky. Onboard was "Starman," a dummy strapped into the billionaire's cherry red Tesla roadster. Minutes later, fans cheered as Musk topped himself by nailing a simultaneous landing of the Falcon Heavy's boosters. It was arguably a turning point for the commercial space age. Airlines were somewhat less thrilled. From a report: On that day, 563 flights were delayed and 62 extra miles added to flights in the southeast region of the U.S., according to Federal Aviation Administration data released Tuesday by the Air Line Pilots Association, or ALPA. America's airspace is a finite resource, and the growth of commercial launches has U.S. airlines worried. Whenever Musk or one of his rivals sends up a spacecraft, the carriers which operate closer to the ground must avoid large swaths of territory and incur sizable expenses. Most of the commercial activity to date has been focused on Cape Canaveral, the Air Force post on Florida's Atlantic coast, where Musk's Space Exploration Technologies and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin base their stellar operations. It is one of 22 active U.S. launch sites, and a number of other locales -- including Brownsville, Texas; Watkins, Colorado; and Camden County, Georgia -- are pursuing new spaceport ventures to capitalize on commercial space activity.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An anonymous reader shares a report: It looks cold, dark and empty, but astronomers have revealed that interstellar space is permeated with a fine mist of grease-like molecules. The study provides the most precise estimate yet of the amount of "space grease" in the Milky Way, by recreating the carbon-based compounds in the laboratory. The Australian-Turkish team discovered more than expected: 10 billion trillion trillion tonnes of gloop, or enough for 40 trillion trillion trillion packs of butter. Prof Tim Schmidt, a chemist at the University of New South Wales, Sydney and co-author of the study, said that the windscreen of a future spaceship travelling through interstellar space might be expected to get a sticky coating. "Amongst other stuff it'll run into is interstellar dust, which is partly grease, partly soot and partly silicates like sand," he said, adding that the grease is swept away within our own solar system by the solar wind. The findings bring scientists closer to figuring out the total amount of carbon in interstellar space, which fuels the formation of stars, planets and is essential for life.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
A Japanese spacecraft has arrived at its target - an asteroid shaped like a diamond or, according to some, a spinning top. From a report: Hayabusa 2 has been travelling toward the space rock Ryugu since launching from the Tanegashima spaceport in 2014. It is on a quest to study the object close-up and deliver rocks and soil from Ryugu to Earth. It will use explosives to propel a projectile into Ryugu, digging out a fresh sample from beneath the surface. Dr Makoto Yoshikawa, Hayabusa 2's mission manager, talked about the plan now that the spacecraft had arrived at its destination. "At first, we will study very carefully the surface features. Then we will select where to touch down. Touchdown means we get the surface material," he told me. A copper projectile, or "impactor" will separate from the spacecraft, floating down to the surface of the asteroid. Once Hayabusa 2 is safely out of the way, an explosive charge will detonate, driving the projectile into the surface.Read Replies (0)