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Garmin Introduces Esports Fitness Smartwatch For Streamers

Sat, 2020-10-24 00:30
Garmin has launched the Instinct Esports Edition, a "rugged GPS smartwatch uniquely designed for esports athletes and enthusiasts to take their gaming performance to the next level." How is that possible, you ask? Gizmodo explains: Well, for starters, the watch adds an esports activity for tracking so you can monitor your heart rate and stress during a game. Garmin also developed a new PC streaming tool that's called, sigh, STR3AMUP!, so you can create overlays that let viewers know your heart rate, stress, and "body battery" level in realtime. Did I mention this watch is also $300? "Elite athletes around the world depend on Garmin products to monitor and improve their performance," Garmin's VP of Sales Dan Bartel said in the press release. This, so far, is a true statement. The following is more dubious. "With the Instinct Esports Edition, esports athletes can tap into that same technology to track and examine how their body responds to intense competition. Players can also use Instinct's data to make adjustments in their daily lives, whether it be altering sleep patterns or activity levels, which can result in increased cognitive and physical performance during play." [...] The Instinct Esports Editions specs are truly bananas. This watch has a transflective screen, which is normally found in watches geared toward outdoor activity for visibility under direct sunlight. It's also rated for 10 ATM of water resistance, or a depth of 330 feet. That is double the rating that is widely considered safe for swimming. In terms of sensors, it also sports a compass, barometric altimeter, and thermometer on top of the usual accelerometer and built-in GPS.

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Categories: Technology

The Technology That's Replacing the Green Screen

Fri, 2020-10-23 23:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Vox: As a compositor for venerable visual-effects house Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), [Charmaine Chan] has worked on films like The Last Jedi, assembling various digital elements into a beautiful, seamless image. Her job changed while working on The Mandalorian, one of the first shows to use ILM's upgrade for the green screen: LED panels that use the same technology as video game engines to place a realistic-looking world behind the actors. The result was a huge improvement, as green screens actually have a lot of drawbacks. Removing the green screen is never as quick as VFX artists would hope, and it also casts green light over the set and the actors. Even green-screen substitutes, like projecting an image onto a screen behind the actor, fail to dynamically respond to camera movements the way they would in the real world. ILM's solution fixes a lot of those problems. It also led to creative breakthroughs in which the old Hollywood order of making a TV show or movie -- wherein VFX came last -- was suddenly reversed. Now, artists like Charmaine work alongside actors, set designers, and other crew members during filming. That collaboration means this technology doesn't just eliminate a screen -- it eliminates a creative barrier. Watch the video [here] to see how it happens.

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Categories: Technology

Patreon Is Banning QAnon, Joining Facebook, YouTube and Others

Fri, 2020-10-23 23:10
Patreon is the latest tech company to take action on the QAnon conspiracy theory, announcing in a blog post Thursday morning that creators promoting the movement would be banned from the platform. Business Insider reports: Patreon, a membership platform that lets fans support creators and celebrities financially through subscriptions, previously hosted 14 QAnon influencers on the platform, according to a recent report from the progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America (MMFA). QAnon, the baseless far-right conspiracy theory that alleges President Donald Trump is fighting a deep-state cabal of human traffickers, has recently been banned or limited by Facebook, YouTube, Etsy, Spotify, Triller, and several other platforms. While many QAnon followers base their beliefs on "Q drops" from an anonymous "Q" figure on the messageboard 8kun, the movement is now spread by QAnon influencers who analyze and explain the "Q drops" for their followers. Patreon creators who used the platform to earn money included some of the movement's top influencers, MMFA found, including Patriots Soapbox, Sean Morgan, Praying Medic, and InTheMatrixxx, all of which were already banned from YouTube. As of Thursday morning, soon after the company published its blog post, those four creators were still up and running on Patreon with QAnon references in their profiles. By Thursday afternoon, the four users were taken down from the platform. Patreon said that creators who have been identified by Patreon's Policy and Trust and Safety teams as QAnon-specific will be removed, but those "who have propagated some QAnon content, but are not dedicated to spreading QAnon disinformation, will have the opportunity to bring their campaigns into compliance with our updated guidelines."

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Uber and Lyft Need To Make Drivers Employees, Appeals Court Rules

Fri, 2020-10-23 22:30
An appeals court ruled Thursday evening that an injunction issued against Uber and Lyft over the status of their drivers was an appropriate measure. CNET reports: The injunction was issued in August by Judge Ethan Schulman of the San Francisco Superior Court, who ruled that the ride-hailing companies must start classifying their drivers as employees in the state. The judge allowed the companies 10 days to appeal the ruling, which they did. The First Appellate District court in San Francisco heard arguments from the companies last week and issued its ruling Thursday siding with Schulman. The appeals court said in its 74-page ruling that there was an "overwhelming likelihood" Uber and Lyft are violating California law AB5. That law requires some employers that use independent contractors to reclassify their workers as employees and provide more worker benefits. The injunction stems from a lawsuit against Uber and Lyft filed by the state of California in May in conjunction with the city attorneys from San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The suit says the companies "exploited hundreds of thousands of California workers" by classifying drivers as independent contractors and are violating AB5, which took effect in January. As this lawsuit works its way through the courts, Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies have sponsored a state ballot measure campaign with nearly $200 million to bring the issue to voters. Proposition 22 aims to create an exemption for the companies to AB5 and allow them to continue classifying their workers as independent contractors. The report notes that this latest appeals court ruling "won't have an immediate effect. The court gave the companies at least a 30-day stay without requiring any changes to driver status."

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T-Mobile Screwups Caused Nationwide Outage But FCC Isn't Punishing Carrier

Fri, 2020-10-23 21:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission has finished investigating T-Mobile for a network outage that Chairman Ajit Pai called "unacceptable." But instead of punishing the mobile carrier, the FCC is merely issuing a public notice to "remind" phone companies of "industry-accepted best practices" that could have prevented the T-Mobile outage. After the 12-hour nationwide outage on June 15 disrupted texting and calling services, including 911 emergency calls, Pai wrote that "The T-Mobile network outage is unacceptable" and that "the FCC is launching an investigation. We're demanding answers -- and so are American consumers." Pai has a history of talking tough with carriers and not following up with punishments that might have a greater deterrence effect than sternly worded warnings. That appears to be what happened again yesterday when the FCC announced the findings from its investigation into T-Mobile. Pai said that "T-Mobile's outage was a failure" because the carrier didn't follow best practices that could have prevented or minimized it, but he announced no punishment. The matter appears to be closed based on yesterday's announcement, but we contacted Chairman Pai's office today to ask if any punishment of T-Mobile is forthcoming.

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Categories: Technology

Microsoft Bashes Slack Complaint in European Antitrust Filing

Fri, 2020-10-23 21:50
Microsoft has privately told European competition authorities that Slack's antitrust complaint against the tech giant was motivated essentially by sour grapes [Editor's note: the link is paywalled; an alternative source was not available.]. From a report: In a recent confidential filing, Microsoft told the European Commission, which oversees competition regulation, that Slack brought its complaint against Microsoft because the lockdown prompted by the coronavirus pandemic has exposed deficiencies in Slack's messaging product, according to a person who has seen the complaint. In the filing, which runs about 40 pages, Microsoft said the sudden surge in people working from home this year has made more apparent shortcomings in Slack's product, including its handling of videoconferencing, while also benefiting Microsoft's competing Teams software, the person said. [...] Slack declined to comment directly on the "confidential exchange of documents" between Slack, Microsoft and the commission. But the company's vice president of policy and communications, Jonathan Prince, told The Information that Microsoft's argument was the equivalent of a schoolyard taunt. Further reading: Slack CEO: Microsoft is 'Unhealthily Preoccupied With Killing Us.'

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NVIDIA Cancels GeForce RTX 3080 20GB and RTX 3070 16GB: Report

Fri, 2020-10-23 21:10
VideoCardz reports: NVIDIA has just told its board partners that it will not launch GeForce RTX 3080 20GB and RTX 3070 16GB cards as planned. NVIDIA allegedly cancels its December launch of GeForce RTX 3080 20GB and RTX 3070 16GB. This still very fresh information comes from two independent sources. Technically GeForce RTX 3080 20GB and RTX 3070 16GB could launch at a later time, but the information that we have clearly stated that those SKUs have been canceled, not postponed. NVIDIA has already canceled its RTX 3070 Ti model (PG141 SKU 0), so the RTX 3070 16GB (PG141 SKU5) and RTX 3080 20GB (PG132 SKU20) will be joining the list. The GeForce RTX 3080 20GB was expected to be a response to AMD Radeon RX 6900/6800 series featuring Navi 21 GPU. All three AMD SKUs will feature 16GB of memory, leaving NVIDIA with a smaller frame buffer to compete with. We do not know the official reason for the cancellation. The RTX 3080 20GB might have been scrapped due to low GDDR6X yield issues, one source claims. The reason behind RTX 3070 16GB cancellation is unknown (this SKU uses GDDR6 memory). The plans for GeForce RTX 3060 Ti remain unchanged. The PG190 SKU 10 remains on track for mid-November launch.

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National Guard Called In To Thwart Cyberattack in Louisiana Weeks Before Election

Fri, 2020-10-23 20:30
The Louisiana National Guard was called in to stop a series of cyberattacks aimed at small government offices across the state in recent weeks, Reuters reported Friday, citing two people with knowledge of the events, highlighting the cyber threat facing local governments in the run up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. From the report: The situation in Louisiana follows a similar case in Washington state, according to a cybersecurity consultant familiar with the matter, where hackers infected some government offices with a type of malware known for deploying ransomware, which locks up systems and demands payment to regain access. Senior U.S. security officials have warned here since at least 2019 that ransomware poses a risk to the U.S. election, namely that an attack against certain state government offices around the election could disrupt systems needed to administer aspects of the vote. It is unclear if the hackers sought to target systems tied to the election in Louisiana or were simply hoping for a payday. Yet the attacks raised alarms because of the potential harm it could have led to and due to evidence suggesting a sophisticated hacking group was involved. Experts investigating the Louisiana incidents found a tool used by the hackers that was previously linked to a group associated with the North Korean government, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

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NASA To Announce New Science Results About Moon

Fri, 2020-10-23 19:51
NASA will announce an exciting new discovery about the Moon from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) at a media teleconference at 12 p.m. EDT Monday, Oct. 26. Audio of the teleconference will stream live on the agency's website. From a press release: This new discovery contributes to NASA's efforts to learn about the Moon in support of deep space exploration. Under NASA's Artemis program, the agency will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 to prepare for our next giant leap -- human exploration of Mars as early as the 2030s. Understanding the science of the Moon also helps piece together the broader history of the inner solar system.

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Xbox Chief Phil Spencer Hints at an xCloud Streaming Stick

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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Categories: Technology

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

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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EU Says Veggie Burgers Can Keep Their Name

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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Categories: Technology

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

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'

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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Apple Lobbied US Congress on Uighur Slave Labor Bills

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

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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Categories: Technology

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

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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Categories: Technology

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

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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GM Sells Out First Year of Electric Hummer Production

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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Why Intel's Stock Just Dropped 10% After Reporting Earnings

Fri, 2020-10-23 08:00
Intel shares are off around 10% in after-hours trading after the chip company reported its Q3 data. TechCrunch explains why: Investors had expected Intel to report an adjusted $1.11 in per-share profit, off around 22% from the year-ago period. They also expected it to report revenues of $18.26 billion in Q3, down a more modest 5% compared to the year-ago Q3. Notably, Intel beat revenue expectations with top line of $18.3 billion, and met earnings-per-share estimates of $1.11, on an adjusted basis. So, why are Intel shares sharply lower? Quick consensus appears to point to weakness in the company data-focused business unit, the smaller of Intel's two halves (the other focuses on PC chips). Inside the data-side of Intel, its Data Center Group (DCG) had mixed results, including cloud revenue growth of 15%. However, at the same time, the DCG's "Enterprise & Government" business shrank 47% compared to the year-ago period, following what Intel described as "two quarters of more than 30 percent growth." Off that weakness, the resulting top line miss was sharp, with the market expecting $6.22 billion in revenue and DCG only delivering $5.9 billion. Intel blamed COVID-19 for the weak economics conditions at play in the result. The company also highlighted COVID-19 when it discussed results from its internet of things business and memory operation, which declined 33% and 11% on a year-over-year basis, respectively. Perhaps due to COVID-19's recent resurgence in both North America and Europe, investors are concerned that the macroeconomic issues harming Intel's growth could continue. If so, growth could be negative for a longer period than anticipated. That perspective could have led to some selling of Intel's equity after the earnings report.

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