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Xbox Chief Phil Spencer Hints at an xCloud Streaming Stick

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 19:17
Microsoft has teased a Chromecast-style dongle for xCloud, a video game streaming service that currently comes bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. From a report: In an interview with Stratechery, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said: "I think you're going to see lower-priced hardware as part of our ecosystem when you think about streaming sticks and other things that somebody might want to just go plug into their TV and go play via xCloud." A few moments later, he added: "You could imagine us even having something that we just included in the Game Pass subscription that gave you an ability to stream xCloud games to your TV and buying the controller." These remarks were part of a conversation around Xbox All Access. Unlike Sony, Microsoft is offering a 24-month payment plan for its next-generation consoles, the Xbox Series S and X. As part of the deal, customers gain access to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes a library of downloadable games on PC and Xbox hardware, as well as streamable titles via xCloud. Spencer revealed that the Xbox team has debated internally whether All Access should be pitched as 'Xbox Game Pass Platinum' instead. He then talked about a plan that gives you "some kind of hardware guarantee" when new consoles are launched. "We did that a little bit with Xbox One last year," he explained. "Where if you got into All Access, you were guaranteed to get front in line when the Series X came out. People didn't know the name [of the new console] at the time, but yeah."

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Palo Alto Networks sends legal threat to security startup claiming comparative 'review' breaks its software EULA

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 18:58
'I'm not going to be bullied into not doing something' vows Orca boss

Palo Alto Networks has threatened a startup with legal action after the minnow of a firm posted a “review” online of one of its products.…

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Facebook Touts Free Speech. In Vietnam, It's Aiding in Censorship

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 18:30
An anonymous reader shares a report: For months, Bui Van Thuan, a chemistry teacher turned crusading blogger in Vietnam, published one scathing Facebook post after another on a land dispute between villagers and the communist government. In a country with no independent media, Facebook provides the only platform where Vietnamese can read about contentious topics such as Dong Tam, a village outside Hanoi where residents were fighting authorities' plans to seize farmland to build a factory. Believing a confrontation was inevitable, the 40-year-old Thuan condemned the country's leaders in a Jan. 7 post. "Your crimes will be engraved on my mind," he wrote. "I know you -- the land robbers -- will do everything, however cruel it is, to grab the people's land." Facebook blocked his account the next day at the governmentâ(TM)s insistence, preventing 60 million Vietnamese users from seeing his posts. One day later, as Thuan had warned, police stormed Dong Tam with tear gas and grenades. A village leader and three officers were killed. For three months, Thuan's Facebook account remained suspended. Then the company told him the ban would be permanent. "We have confirmed that you are not eligible to use Facebook," the message read in Vietnamese. Thuan's blacklisting, which the Menlo Park-based social media giant now calls a "mistake," illustrates how willingly the company has acquiesced to censorship demands from an authoritarian government. Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, say the platform protects free expression except in narrow circumstances, such as when it incites violence. But in countries including Cuba, India, Israel, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey, Facebook routinely restricts posts that governments deem sensitive or off-limits. Nowhere is that truer than in Vietnam. Facebook, whose site was translated into Vietnamese in 2008, now counts more than half the country's people among its account holders. The popular platform has enabled government critics and pro-democracy activists -- in both Vietnam and the United States -- to bypass the communist system's strict controls on the media. But in the last several years, the company has repeatedly censored dissent in Vietnam, trying to placate a repressive government that has threatened to shut Facebook down if it does not comply, The Times found.

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What a time to be alive: DB Admin raps about Microsoft SQL Server and he ain't even paid to do so

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 18:10
It's 2020. Things are weird. So maybe it's time to dance alone to 'Back Dat NAS up'

If you thought things couldn’t get any more weird right about now, then this may be the nadir of an already odd 2020: COVID-19; Trump being Trump; a likely hard Brexit; and now someone working in tech rapping about SQL Server has just released some sounds.…

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EU Says Veggie Burgers Can Keep Their Name

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 17:50
When is a burger not a burger? When it contains no meat. At least according to a divisive proposal that was in front of the European Parliament this week, part of a set of measures that would have banned the use of terms like "steak," "sausage," "escallop" or "burger" on labels for plant-based alternative products. But after a decisive vote against the measure on Friday, it seems veggie burgers will still be on the menu. From a report: "Reason prevailed, and climate sinners lost," Nikolaj Villumsen, a member of the European Parliament from Denmark posted on Twitter. "It's worth celebrating with a veggie burger." A proposal to expand a ban on descriptions such as "yogurt-style" or "cream imitation" for nondairy replacements did pass, extending previous limitations on the use of words like "milk" and "butter" on nondairy alternatives. The proposed changes -- a small part of a package of agricultural measures -- received more attention than perhaps desired either by their proponents among meat and livestock groups, who said they would prefer to focus on helping farmers work sustainably, or the environmentalists and food manufacturers opposing it, for whom it is a distraction from climate-change policy. Jasmijn de Boo, vice president of ProVeg International, a group aimed at reducing meat consumption, said that the proposal was not in the interest of consumers or manufacturers, and that shoppers were not confused by the labels currently on store shelves.

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EU slaps extra sanctions on Russian spy chief and APT28 malware dev over 2015 Bundestag hack

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 17:20
Better late than never, eh

The European Union has imposed sanctions on a Russian military malware developer and the commander of Russia’s MI6 equivalent, a mere five years after the two targeted Germany's parliament with a cyberattack.…

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Death of Sea Life Off Russia Peninsula 'Caused by Algae'

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 17:14
Blooming algae was behind a recent mass death of sea animals that saw octopuses and seals wash up on the shore off a Russian peninsula, scientists said on Friday in the final conclusion to their probe. From a report: Locals in Kamchatka, a volcanic peninsula in Russia's Far East, raised the alarm in September after the animals were found dead and surfers complained of stinging eyes. Scientists later said that up to 95 percent of marine life living along the seabed in the affected area had died. Environmental campaigners said they were conducting their own inquiries and were not yet able to confirm the official probe's findings. Andrei Adrianov, vice president of Russia's Academy of Sciences, announced the probe's conclusions on Friday, saying the mass death was due to the effects of toxins from single-cell algae. Speaking at the same meeting, Svetlana Radionova of environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor said her agency conducted over 5,000 tests. She said the agency did not see a way the situation could have been caused by humans. In a separate criminal probe, investigators announced they had eliminated oil spills and toxic waste as possible causes. They added that the previously reported high levels of phenol and petroleum products were "not critical" and had been observed in the bay for decades.

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Expensify's CEO Emailed Users To Encourage Them To 'Vote For Biden'

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 16:43
Expensify CEO David Barrett blasted all of his customers with a message to vote for Biden to "protect democracy." From a report: In the email, which the company has said was sent to all users, Expensify's founder said that "anything less than a vote for Biden is a vote against democracy" and urged his customer base to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate. In the email, he equated a vote for Trump as an endorsement for voter suppression, and took issue with people who may want to abstain or vote for a third-party candidate: "I'm saying a vote for Trump, a vote for a third-party candidate, or simply not voting at all -- they're all the same, and they all mean: 'I care more about my favorite issue than democracy. I believe Trump winning is more important than democracy. I am comfortable standing aside and allowing democracy to be methodically dismantled, in plain sight,'" he wrote in the email.

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Ubuntu 20.10 goes full Raspberry Pi, from desktop to micro clouds: Full fat desktop on a Pi is usable

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 16:15
But company also has its eye on Kubernetes at the edge

Ubuntu 20.10 is out, with Canonical highlighting its Raspberry Pi support, including not only desktop support but also micro clouds based on MicroK8s, the company's lightweight Kubernetes distribution.…

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Apple Lobbied US Congress on Uighur Slave Labor Bills

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 15:47
Apple paid an outside firm to lobby Congress on legislation targeting U.S. companies that do business in areas of China that may use slave labor. From a report: Congressional disclosure reports show that Fierce Government Relations lobbied for Apple on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and other bills aimed at pressuring U.S. companies to ensure that their supply chains do not depend on companies that use slave labor, particularly from a region called Xinjiang where many Uighur live. Apple has previously been criticized for working conditions within its supply chain. More recently, activists have urged Apple, other U.S. companies to cut their ties to suppliers that allegedly use forced labor from the Uighurs, a Muslim minority in China. The Chinese government has been accused of forcing Uyghur's to work under oppressive working conditions and other human rights violations.

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Finding remote working a bit of a grind? Microsoft staffers feel your pain

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 15:20
Gloomy workers unlikely to moan about open plan again as office reopening slides to July 2021

Remote working is the gift that keeps on giving, as Microsoft's workforce reacted glumly to the Windows giant's plan to push back the reopening of its US offices.…

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ClipDrop Lets You 'Copy-and-Paste' Real Life Objects Using Your Phone Camera Into Desktop Apps

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 15:05
An anonymous reader shares a report: Apple has boasted a lot about the AR capabilities of its new LiDAR equipped iPhone 12 Pro. It means that your new iPhone will be able to 'map' the room better to place objects. However, I hadn't found an AR app that I might use regularly -- until now. A few months ago, developer Cyril Diagne showed off a demo of an app called ClipDrop that lets you 'drop' real-life objects to your desktop. Now, the app has entered beta, and I already love it. The concept of the app is cool. You can take a picture of any object and the app with automatically remove the background and convert it into an image. You can then paste the image on your desktop and use it in your applications. In addition to objects and people, you can also extract text from a book or page that you have.

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ClipDrop Lets You 'Cut-and-Paste' Real Life Objects Using Your Phone Camera Into Desktop Apps

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 15:05
An anonymous reader shares a report: Apple has boasted a lot about the AR capabilities of its new LiDAR equipped iPhone 12 Pro. It means that your new iPhone will be able to 'map' the room better to place objects. However, I hadn't found an AR app that I might use regularly -- until now. A few months ago, developer Cyril Diagne showed off a demo of an app called ClipDrop that lets you 'drop' real-life objects to your desktop. Now, the app has entered beta, and I already love it. The concept of the app is cool. You can take a picture of any object and the app with automatically remove the background and convert it into an image. You can then paste the image on your desktop and use it in your applications. In addition to objects and people, you can also extract text from a book or page that you have.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app is leaving some unable to access government self-isolation grants

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 14:25
'That button is there on the app' says minister. How many times have you heard a client make wild claims about functionality?

The NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app for England and Wales* has a major flaw. Yes, another one. People told to self-isolate by the app are unable to access a code required to claim a £500 financial support grant.…

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Bot Generated Fake Nudes of Over 100,000 Women Without Their Knowledge, Says Report

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Forbes: Around 104,852 women had their photos uploaded to a bot, on the WhatsApp-like text messaging app Telegram, which were then used to generate computer-generated fake nudes of them without their knowledge or consent, researchers revealed on Tuesday. These so-called "deepfake" images were created by an ecosystem of bots on the messaging app Telegram that could generate fake nudes on request, according to a report released by Sensity, an intelligence firm that specializes in deepfakes. The report found that users interacting with these bots were mainly creating fake nudes of women they know from images taken from social media, which is then shared and traded on other Telegram channels. The Telegram channels the researchers examined were made up of 101,080 members worldwide, with 70% coming from Russia and other eastern European countries. A small number of individuals targeted by the bot appear to be underage. According to the report, the bots received significant advertising on the Russian social media website VK. However, the Russian social platform's press team told Forbes that these communities or links were not promoted using VK's advertising tools, adding "VK doesn't tolerate such content or links... and blocks communities that distribute them."

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Got a problem with trust in AI? Just add blockchain, Forrester urges. Then bust out the holographic meetings. Welcome to the future

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 13:30
It takes 'grit' to send in a holograph to meetings instead of struggling with mute buttons yourself...

Forrester has offered its contribution to the pantheon of failed predictions gathering smart-dust in the broom cupboard of IT history with its assertion that blockchain is coming to polish up AI's tarnished image.…

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'This was bigger than GNOME and bigger than just this case.' GNOME Foundation exec director talks patent trolls and much, much more

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 12:23
Snaps vs Flatpaks, losing in mobile, Microsoft and Linux, and avoiding another GNOME 2 to 3 disaster

Interview  Patent assertion entities: do not pick a fight with open source. It won't end well for you. This is the message from GNOME Foundation executive director Neil McGovern, who will speak on the subject at the Open Source Summit Europe next week.…

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OnePlus 8T review: Solid performance and a great screen make this 5G sub-flagship a delight

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 11:28
Do you really need so much RAM, though?

Six months after OnePlus released a flagship, it followed with a slightly upgraded refresh of the same device. You can distinguish these souped-up variants from their predecessors by the "T" in the name. One such device is the OnePlus 8T — an affordable 5G powerhouse.…

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GM Sells Out First Year of Electric Hummer Production

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-10-23 11:00
General Motors said it has sold out the first year's worth of its hulking GMC Hummer EV electric pickup truck after a splashy video reveal on Tuesday. Reuters reports: The GMC website showed a "reservations full" banner over the Hummer EV "Edition 1," due to start production in the fall of 2021. The next version of the truck, the $99,995 Hummer EV 3X, is not scheduled to begin production until the fall of 2022. The least expensive Hummer EV, starting at $79,995, is scheduled to go into production in the spring of 2024, GM said. The Hummer EV was designed and engineered in 18 months, GM officials said during a presentation on Wednesday. The brawny truck can "crab walk" sideways on rough terrain using its four-wheel steering system, and has a "Watts to Freedom" mode that accelerates the truck to 60 miles per hour (97 kph) in 3 seconds. The Hummer EV is in part a response to Tesla's Cybertruck, which has a very different but equally eye-grabbing design and a bevy of extreme performance features. [...] Startups Rivian, Nikola Corp and Lordstown Motors are among other companies that have electric pickups in development. Further reading: GMC Hummer EV vs. Tesla Cybertruck, Bollinger and Rivian

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Ho hum: If you're so artificially intelligent, name this song while my videos go viral

The Register - Fri, 2020-10-23 10:28
My careful plan to save the economy

Something for the Weekend, Sir?  People say I don’t care but I do. I care a lot.…

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