[H] Enthusiast Archives: April 2017 Archive Listing

Tuesday April 25, 2017

Gamers in Hawaii Can't Compete Because of Latency

Gaming at the pro level is difficult enough, but for Hawaiians, it’s especially tough due to geography and their distance away from many servers. League of Legends players who play competitively, for example, have plenty to complain about: that game has only one server in the US, and it’s way out in Chicago. This is an article that makes you think about the physicality of the Internet and how some gamers have to pull off moves far in advance to counter unavoidable ping.

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He had to learn how to "see into the future," he said, and predict and input moves in advance. Elento likens the scenario to that of a football player, but "instead of being a regular football player, he has to close his eyes for a quarter of a second for every second, and he has to judge all of his decisions based on information he knew before, and he has to just plug in the information for the last quarter of a second." Gamers playing on high latency develop a "sixth sense" for how to do this, Elento said. When he was growing up in Honolulu, he had an online friend in Australia whose latency was even worse. Yet they both made it to the pro level. "It’s honestly just annoying," he said. "It’s an obvious competitive disadvantage, but it’s not like it’s unplayable."

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Verizon Extorts Users with Fee to Keep Landlines Unlisted

I haven’t had a landline in a while and can’t remember if this was on my bill, but Verizon has been charging its users $5.25 to keep their landlines unlisted. The author, who is a victim of this "scam," talked with some professionals who reveal the obvious: Verizon charges the fee simply because they can and nobody can stop them. If you don’t pay, "Your number will get published." Thanks to Kyle for this one.

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"The cost charged to offer unlisted phone numbers is chiefly systems and IT based. Specifically, the costs we incur and factor into the monthly charge involve three things: quality control, data integrity and the interface we have with other carriers and directory publishers. These activities help us protect the feed of customer information we have, and must protect, when customers request that their telephone number remains private when requested."

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Woman Suffers 2nd-Degree Burns after Her Fitbit Explodes

It seems like everything is at risk of exploding these days. One woman’s Fitbit Flex 2 went bad when it was on her arm and ended up giving her a significant burn, enough that doctors had to extract pieces of it out of her skin. Fitbit has offered her a free replacement device, but I would have tried to get a little more out of it.

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Dina Mitchell said she had owned her Fitbit Flex 2 for about two weeks when the fitness tracking device allegedly caught fire on her arm while she was reading a book on Tuesday night. "I was literally just sitting and reading when my Fitbit exploded," Mitchell told ABC News in an emailed statement on Sunday. "It was either defective or really mad I was sitting still so long… I don’t know. Either way, it burned the heck out of my arm." She said she ripped the device off of her arm as it was still burning and tossed it onto the floor. Mitchell said her doctor had to pick pieces of plastic and rubber out of her arm after the incident.

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NVIDIA Releases Game Ready 381.89 WHQL Driver

NVIDIA has debuted new drivers to prepare gamers for two of the latest releases: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III (4/27) and Heroes of the Storm 2.0 (patch should be live now). The drivers should also improve performance with Batman: Arkham VR, Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, and Wilson's Heart. You may grab the drivers here or check out the release notes.

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Changes and Fixed Issues:

  • [Sniper Elite 3]: The game crashes. [1880113]

  • [Notebook][eDP panel]: Blue-screen (code 3B) occurs followed by the recovery screen during software unbundling process. [1900432]

  • [GeForce GTX 1060]: Blue-screen crash occurs pointing to driver (Nvlddmkm.sys) after the system reboots from sleep mode. [1814559]

  • GPU idling voltage has increased. [1904229]

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Disney Will Never Alter or Restore Original Star Wars Trilogy

You better hang on tight to those Despecialized Editions, as Disney or Lucasfilm has no plans on revisiting the original releases of Episode IV, V, and VI: when asked whether the theatrical cuts would be re-released, Kathleen Kennedy said, "I wouldn't touch those, are you kidding me? [laughs] Those will always remain his." I am pretty sure Disney doesn’t give a crap about respecting George Lucas based on what has already become of Star Wars, though, so I imagine they are just waiting for the perfect, most profitable time to release the originals on BD (the mouse seems to be avoiding UHD and 4K right now).

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Star Wars Celebration happened recently in Orlando, Florida, and there was a lot of big news and exciting stuff coming from every direction. So, a few things managed to fly a little under the radar. Such as an interview that Kathleen Kennedy did for the Steelewars Podcast. During the course of the interview, she was asked about the original trilogy and whether or not they have any plans on restoring the theatrical cuts. While she revealed that there is no agreement in place to keep the Star Wars cuts as they are, she also made it clear that Lucasfilm isn't planning on messing with them.

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Lyrebird Can Recreate Any Voice Using Just One Minute of Sample Audio

I’m a cop, you idiot! If that Arnold soundboard is getting a little old, Lyrebird has introduced a new algorithm that will make prank calling fun again. All you need is 60 seconds of someone’s voice, and like magic, you can create faux voice clips of almost anybody. It is supposedly so advanced that it can even infuse speech with emotion, letting customers make voices sound angry, sympathetic, or stressed out. Thanks to Kyle for this one.

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…a Canadian AI startup named Lyrebird unveiled its first product: a set of algorithms the company claims can clone anyone’s voice by listening to just a single minute of sample audio. A few years ago this would have been impossible, but the analytic prowess of machine learning has proven to be a perfect fit for the idiosyncrasies of human speech. Using artificial intelligence, companies like Google have been able to create incredibly life-like synthesized voices, while Adobe has unveiled its own prototype software called Project VoCo that can edit human speech like Photoshop tweaks digital images.

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Vanquish PC Port Teased in Bayonetta Steam Update

I never did finish my Xbox 360 copy of Vanquish and doubt I will ever hook up my old console again, so this is great news to me and the many others out there who have been begging for the game to at least get backwards-compatibility on modern systems. Sega seems to be super-creative these days on how they tease the fans: this time, they have snuck in an image with a Steam update to allude to a PC version of PlatinumGames’ 2010 third-person shooter.

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The recently released PC version of Bayonetta received a very small Steam update earlier today that added a very strong teaser for Vanquish. The update weighed in at just 22kb. On the surface, the update didn’t make changes to the game itself. However, look closer and you’ll find this image in the game’s Extras folder (via NeoGAF). This is clearly a small version of the helmet worn by the protagonist in Vanquish, so unless Sega is toying with fan emotions, there’s only way to interpret this. Remember, the PC port of Bayonetta was never officially announced prior to release.

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Video Games Are Better without Stories

As someone who appreciates other forms of art that are powered by narratives such as movies and books, I can’t agree with this guy at all, but I know there are others like him out there—just look at all the successful multiplayer games out there, many of which lack any kind of story. Personally, I feel that the absence of relatable characters or an engaging narrative makes the entire experience soulless, but what do you think? I find this author’s argument ridiculous, actually, since he is questioning why games even bother telling stories when the creators could just do it in another medium. Why not, I say.

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Players and creators have been mistaken in merely hoping that they might someday share the stage with books, films, and television, let alone to unseat them. To use games to tell stories is a fine goal, I suppose, but it’s also an unambitious one. Games are not a new, interactive medium for stories. Instead, games are the aesthetic form of everyday objects. Of ordinary life. Take a ball and a field: you get soccer. Take property-based wealth and the Depression: you get Monopoly. Take patterns of four contiguous squares and gravity: you get Tetris. Take ray tracing and reverse it to track projectiles: you get Doom. Games show players the unseen uses of ordinary materials.

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Google Is Asking for Your Help to Spot Fake News

Google is introducing new feedback tools today that are designed to help the company weed out misleading or inaccurate content and improve the quality of their search engine’s results in general. The company was originally criticized for claiming that there is too much content to evaluate, but they have now made their first move, if only to shut complainants up. It seems like this could just be a new avenue for trolling Google’s moderators.

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This will help teach Google's search algorithms to automatically weed out hoaxes, and in theory, keep them buried in search results. Google also says its search algorithms have now been trained to demote "low-quality" content based on signals like whether or not the information comes from an "authoritative" page. The user feedback tools will be available for featured snippets, the boxes that appear near the top of search results and attempt to answer your query without you having to click through to a web page. They'll also appear in the window that helps automatically complete what you're typing based on other searches.

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Marissa Mayer Will Make $186 Million on Yahoo’s Sale to Verizon

Yahoo’s soon-to-be-ex-CEO will be demonstrating how failure can be highly rewarding when she exits her fledgling company nearly $200 million richer. Luckily for Marissa, investments in more successful companies such as Alibaba drove up stock prices over her tenure, resulting in a big payout. Verizon is expected to officially acquire Yahoo in June after shareholders make their votes.

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…Ms. Mayer, the company’s chief executive, will be well compensated for her failure. Her Yahoo stock, stock options and restricted stock units are worth a total of $186 million, based on Monday’s stock price of $48.15, according to data filed on Monday in the documents sent to shareholders about the Verizon deal. That compensation, which will be fully vested at the time of the shareholder vote, does not include her salary and bonuses over the past five years, or the value of other stock that Ms. Mayer has already sold. All told, her time at Yahoo will have netted her well over $200 million, according to calculations based on company filings.

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First Footage of Larry Page’s "Flying Car"

The Google founder is obsessed about flying cars, too, and now there’s footage of the prototype vehicle he’s been backing: the Kitty Hawk Flyer. It looks goofy as hell, but they claim the FAA has already cleared it for use in uncongested areas, and you don’t need a license to operate it. Might be fun flying it into crowds.

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AV Provider Webroot Melts down as Update Nukes Hundreds of Legit Files

Webroot has just reinforced my decision for not using antivirus: you never know when the software is going to go berserk and start quarantining legit files. Yesterday, their AV program mislabeled key Microsoft Windows system files, taking PCs down and creating huge losses for businesses. The cause was "bad definitions" that were allegedly up for only 13 minutes, but it was more than enough time to screw over many users. Files digitally signed by Microsoft were mistakenly identified as W32.Trojan.Gen, reportedly.

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A signature update just nuked hundreds of benign files needed to run Microsoft Windows, as well as apps that run on top of the operating system. Social media sites ignited on late Monday afternoon with customers reporting that servers and computers alike stopped working as a result of the mishap. The admin and security pundit who goes by the Twitter handle SwiftOnSecurity told Ars that, at the company he or she worked for, the false positive quarantined "several hundred" files used by Windows Insider Preview. Hundreds of "line of business" apps, such as those that track patient appointments or manage office equipment, suffered the same fate. Webroot was also flagging Facebook as a phishing site.

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