Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

[H]ard News

Monday May 22, 2017

Far Cry 5 Teasers Confirm American Setting, Full Reveal This Week

Ubisoft has released four teasers that officially confirm Far Cry 5's setting: Montana. The scenery appears to be on the modern side, so those rumors of the game taking place in the Wild West may have been a total fabrication. We'll be seeing more of the game on Friday, when the full reveal happens. (For some reason, the teasers on YouTube are blocked in the US, but you can hit up the IGN link to see them.)

...the game will take place in the US - specifically the state of Montana - for the first time in the series' history. The short trailers end with a message saying that the game will be revealed this Friday, May 26. Each one shows an image of rural America, then puncture the peace with an unsettling image (the man being used as a face-based bellringer is pretty unpleasant). They also seem to counter rumours that said the game would take place in a Wild West setting (which would put it in more direct competition with this year's Red Dead Redemption 2) - clothing, weapons and buildings look more modern than the Old West would suggest.

Discussion

NVIDIA GeForce Game Ready 382.33 WHQL Drivers

NVIDIA has released new GeForce drivers that provide the optimal gaming experience for Tekken 7 and Star Trek: Bridge Crew. I am actually looking forward to the former: this is the first time we’re getting Tekken on PC, and the last one came out way back in 2009. Now I just need a new Soul Calibur that is as good as the original. The documentation for the drivers can be viewed here.

Changes and Fixed Issues in Version 382.33

  • [TITAN X][3D Vision][Windows 10 Creator's Update]: The Windows Store does not open when 3D Vision is enabled. [1906805]

  • [GeForce GTX 1080Ti][Prey 2]: Stuttering occurs during gameplay. [1902201]

  • [GeForce GTX 1070][Windows 10 Creator's Update]: In multi-display mode, extended monitors cannot be be put into sleep mode. [1916554]

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

  • [GeForce GTX 970][SLI]: SLI cannot be enable unless Norton 360 is disabled or Windows is booted in Safe Mode. [1919094]

Discussion

Uncharted Movie Casts Spider-Man Star Tom Holland as Nathan Drake

What the heck? My thoughts for the Uncharted movie involved an adult Drake, played by Nathan Fillion, but Sony has a completely different idea: the film version of Naughty Dog’s adventure series will actually be a prequel that involves a young Nathan meeting Victor Sullivan for the first time. Can they get Greg Edmonson to score it, at least?

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Sony Pictures is bullish enough on its upcoming Spider-Man Homecoming star Tom Holland that the studio is doubling down on the young actor by building a second major franchise around him. Holland is attaching to star in Uncharted, in what will be redrafted as a prequel to the treasure hunting action story line in the Naughty Dog video game for PlayStation. Shawn Levy is directing a film that will take its inspiration from a sequence in the third iteration of the video game that focused on the young thief Drake, and his first encounter with the professional rogue, Sullivan.

Discussion

If You Bought $100 of Bitcoin 7 Years Ago, You'd Be Sitting on $72.9 Million Now

Talk about a serious case of regret: assuming the math is actually correct, those who were smart enough to buy $100 of bitcoin at the 0.003 cent price on May 22, 2010 are now definitive millionaires. The price of bitcoin hit a fresh record high on Monday nearing $2,200. Seven years ago today, someone spent 10,000 bitcoin on two Papa John's pizzas: this was the first transaction using the cryptocurrency.

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Monday marks the seven-year anniversary of Bitcoin Pizza Day – the moment a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz spent 10,000 bitcoin on two Papa John's pizzas. More important than the episode being widely recognized as the first transaction using the cryptocurrency is what it tells us about the bitcoin rally that saw it break through the $2,100 mark on Monday. Bitcoin was trading as high as $2,185.89 in the early hours of Monday morning, hitting a fresh record high, after first powering through the $2,000 barrier over the weekend, according to CoinDesk data.

Discussion

Netgear "Fixes" Router with Phone-Home Features That Record IP, MAC Address

This happens to be the same router I am using, of course. I installed Netgear’s latest R7000 firmware the other day, expecting bug and/or security fixes, but the only thing added was an invasive "Router Analytics Data Collection" option that sends sensitive data directly to the company. This seems like a disaster waiting to happen, since a potential exploit could allow for interception. I don’t get why they are introducing this now, and for this specific model, actually. Some users say they can’t even turn it off---on my end, the options are grayed out but the radio buttons still work, so something is definitely buggy.

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Netgear NightHawk R7000 users who ran last week's firmware upgrade need to check their settings, because the company added a remote data collection feature to the units. "Such data may include information regarding the router’s running status, number of devices connected to the router, types of connections, LAN/WAN status, WiFi bands and channels, IP address, MAC address, serial number, and similar technical data about the use and functioning of the router, as well as its WiFi network." The good news is that you can turn it off: the instructions are here. It's probably unlikely that any significant number of users will do so, given the number of people who never get around to changing their default passwords.

Discussion

How a Man Born without Eyes Plays Video Games

Toby Ott is not your average gamer: while he enjoys Final Fantasy, Doom, and other typical titles, he has to play them without being able to see. Mr. Ott was born without eyeballs due to a condition called Bilateral Anopthalmia, but that has not stopped him from gaming since he was a child. With the help of friends, Tony is able to memorize button combinations to navigate menus and relies on sound and cheats to get through games.

This is a short documentary about Toby Ott, a man who was born with Bilateral Anopthalmia, or in other words, without eyes. This didn't stop him from discovering the medium of video games, and his childhood interest grew into a lifelong passion. This is a whole new perspective on video games, from the imagination of someone who has never known what it is to have sight. I was inspired to shoot this documentary when Toby emailed me to express how much he enjoyed the content on my channel. After I learned that he had been blind since birth I wanted to know more, and as our correspondence progressed I felt compelled to visit him to hear his story and share it with the world.

Discussion

HP Spectre x2 Leads Refreshed Line of High-End Laptops

The Cannes Film Festival is not just about movies, as HP has used the event to debut refreshed Envy and Spectre hardware. The latter, I think, is one of the sexiest laptops on the market today and its successor retains the original’s great aesthetics with internal upgrades that include Kaby Lake i5 and i7 processors, a 3,000 x 2,000 resolution panel, two USB Type-C ports, and a 1TB PCIe SSD option. HP has also updated their Envy 13 and 17 laptops for those who want something more traditional.

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...Microsoft obviously doesn’t mind if OEMs copy its basic designs, and the Spectre x2 is a very Surface Pro-like tablet with a kickstand and multi-angle detachable keyboard. The newly refreshed Spectre x2 simply takes what was best about the original model and makes it better. First up is the migration to seventh-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors from the previous generation’s low-power Core M processors, which should help improve performance. HP also increased maximum RAM to 16GB and doubled the maximum storage to a 1TB PCIe SSD. Finally, Intel Iris Plus graphics are an option for a bit more performance in productivity tasks. Weight comes in at 2.49 pounds with the keyboard attached, and thickness is 0.52 inches.

Discussion

Microsoft Clarifies Xbox Scorpio Frame Rate/Fidelity Stance

Xbox engineering lead Mike Ybarra has confirmed that frame rate parity between Scorpio and Xbox One games is totally up to the developer; there is no requirement that they have to be the same. This detail was pointed out after it was suggested the Scorpio would be held back by the original Xbox One. More broadly, Ybarra says that game makers are free to do what they want with the additional power in Scorpio: developers could even choose different framerates for MP games if they wanted to.

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Microsoft is positioning Scorpio as the "most powerful console ever made," so it would be unfortunate if developers had to reign in their visions for games by limiting frame rate and fidelity. Microsoft Studios boss Shannon Loftis thinks developers will keep the frame rate consistent for multiplayer games. All Xbox One games work on Scorpio, though the Scorpio editions can look and perform better, in some cases, if developers want to do that. It is a similar situation with PS4 and PS4 Pro. Microsoft is expected to share more details on Scorpio at E3 or sooner.

Discussion

Samsung Display Showcases Stretchable OLED

Bendable, foldable, rollable---and now there’s stretchable. Samsung will be demonstrating this new form of OLED at an upcoming US display conference, and they say it will be the most advanced flexible type yet. Usage scenarios mentioned include wearables, Internet of Things devices, and automobile displays, but I am having trouble imagining something specific that would need such an extreme degree of curvature.

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"While current flexible OLED is able to be transformed in only one side, this stretchable OLED can be transformed -- whether curved, bended or rolled -- in both sides, above and below" a Samsung Display spokesperson said. When pressed, the stretchable display is dented up to 12 millimeters, like a balloon, and then reverts back to its original shape, the company said. The technology, however, is still in the early stage of research and development so the firm is not sure when it will be commercialized. Although it may take long, the flexible display market -- mostly are curved only now -- will continue to evolve into bendable, foldable, rollable and stretchable in the coming years, London-based research firm IHS Markit predicted.

Discussion

Sunday May 21, 2017

Google’s New AI Is Better at Creating AI Than the Company’s Engineers

You’ll have to take CEO Sundar Pichai’s word for it, but Google’s latest AI project is producing results that are more impressive than what the human workforce is churning out. During the Google I/O ’17 conference, Pichai talked a little bit about their new venture, AutoML, where artificial intelligence systems are producing better versions of themselves in a process described as "AI Inception." Basically, it sounds like AI is sophisticated enough to self-replicate and automate now, requiring little to no human interaction, and Google thinks that’s entirely fine and awesome.

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The AutoML project focuses on deep learning, a technique that involves passing data through layers of neural networks. Creating these layers is complicated, so Google’s idea was to create AI that could do it for them. "In our approach ( which we call ‘AutoML’ ), a controller neural net can propose a ‘child’ model architecture, which can then be trained and evaluated for quality on a particular task," the company explains on the Google Research Blog. "That feedback is then used to inform the controller how to improve its proposals for the next round. We repeat this process thousands of times, generating new architectures, testing them, and giving that feedback to the controller to learn from."

Discussion

Facebook's Internal Rulebook on Sex, Terrorism, and Violence Leaked

The social network’s playbook for deciding what its 2 billion users can post have been revealed for the first time. More than a hundred documents provide insight on what its moderators do when they face questionable content such as videos of violent deaths and photos of animal abuse. Interestingly, the former may be retained instead of deleted for "creating awareness of issues such as mental illness," while the former is considered acceptable enough to be shared. Facebook also allows people to livestream attempts to self-harm because it "doesn’t want to censor or punish people in distress."

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The Guardian has seen more than 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts that give unprecedented insight into the blueprints Facebook has used to moderate issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm. There are even guidelines on match-fixing and cannibalism. The Facebook Files give the first view of the codes and rules formulated by the site, which is under huge political pressure in Europe and the US. They illustrate difficulties faced by executives scrabbling to react to new challenges such as "revenge porn" – and the challenges for moderators, who say they are overwhelmed by the volume of work, which means they often have "just 10 seconds" to make a decision.

Discussion

Schwarzenegger Will Reteam with James Cameron for Next Terminator

I wasn’t sure if there was even going to be another one, since Genesys was both a critical and financial bomb, but Arnold himself has announced that a new Terminator is on the way, and James Cameron is involved. Unfortunately, he will only be producing and not directing, as he is currently busy making a zillion Avatar films, but the movie will supposedly contain his narrative input. I just like to pretend nothing after T2 actually happened.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that he will be returning to the Terminator franchise and that a planned Twins sequel is set to go ahead soon. Speaking to Screen in Cannes, where he is talking up new environmentally-focused documentary Wonders Of The Sea 3D with producer Francois Mantello and co-directors Jean-Michel Cousteau and Jean-Jacques Mantello, Schwarzenegger confirmed that he will star in a new Terminator film produced by James Cameron. "It is back," commented Schwarzenegger, who revealed that he had met Cameron recently and discussed the project. "It is moving forward. He [Cameron] has some good ideas of how to continue with the franchise," the actor added, "I will be in the movie."

Discussion

Doomsday Seed Vault Upgraded to Protect against Warming Arctic

The Doomsday Seed Vault (or, less dramatically, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault) was established to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds in the event of some global apocalypse. Unfortunately, so-called permafrost actually melted this week and the resulting water breached the entrance of the facility. Luckily, no seeds were harmed, though this scare has jumpstarted a plan to reinforce the area with waterproof walls and ditches to thwart against future surprise pourings. This is probably just me, but it reminds me of a giant Wii.

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Statsbygg, the Norwegian construction group behind the vault, has outlined "technical improvements" to keep the entrance safe. It's building waterproof walls and ditches to channel water away, and it's moving electrical equipment out of the entrance to avoid creating a source of heat. The vault will also take fewer visitors to reduce body heat levels -- even that small amount could make a difference. With that in mind, Statsbygg stresses that the seeds themselves have "never been threatened." The mountainside that holds the seeds themselves will keep its permafrost -- the builders just hadn't expected that the permafrost near the entrance would refuse to re-freeze after a decade since construction.

Discussion

Evidence of a Decline in Electricity Use by US Households

US households are apparently using less electricity, and we can probably thank the widespread adoption of LED lighting for that. As you know, LED bulbs can produce similar lumens to incandescent lighting at much lower wattage, and installations are coming close to crossing the half-billion mark. Supposedly, that number was less than half a million seven or eight years ago. LED TVs replacing LCD, plasma, and CRT displays could also be a factor. I still seem to have trouble finding LED bulbs that are well under 3000K, though.

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...what is different? Energy-efficient lighting. Over 450 million LEDs have been installed to date in the United States, up from less than half a million in 2009, and nearly 70% of Americans have purchased at least one LED bulb. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are even more common, with 70%+ of households owning some CFLs. All told, energy-efficient lighting now accounts for 80% of all U.S. lighting sales. It is no surprise that LEDs have become so popular. LED prices have fallen 94% since 2008, and a 60-watt equivalent LED lightbulb can now be purchased for about $2. LEDs use 85% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, are much more durable, and work in a wide-range of indoor and outdoor settings.

Discussion

Microsoft Releasing Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint Reader

FCC documentation has revealed that Microsoft’s new Bluetooth keyboard will come with a fingerprint reader for those who are too high class for text passwords. Keyboards with fingerprint readers aren’t anything new, but this is actually the company’s first effort at a desktop keyboard with this form of recognition. I just like the fact that it will give you a choice between USB-wired mode and BT.

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...the keyboard appears to be a wireless desktop model like the Surface Studio keyboard with likely a full set of keys including a numeric keypad. According to that documentation, the keyboard also included a convenient USB wired mode, and it appears to use a rechargeable battery rather than AA cells. Now the Bluetooth SIG listing has been updated, on the 1/5/2017 to include a mention of a fingerprint reader, with the device now being named the "Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID" and being described as a "BTLE Keyboard with Fingerprint enroll feature."

Discussion

SSD Drives Vulnerable to Attacks That Corrupt User Data

New research describes two vulnerabilities that can affect SSD drives utilizing MLC technology: "program interference" and "read disturb." In the first, an attacker can corrupt data or reduce the lifespan of a drive by writing data with a certain pattern: specifically, the data pattern makes an MLC's programming logic cause 4.9 more errors than usual. For the second type of attack, exploit code can force an SSD to perform a large number of writes in a short period of time, which also results in data corruption and degradation of the drive’s storage abilities. I’m going to assume these attacks are more complicated than described, since SSDs can stand up pretty well even when atypical amounts of data are being written.

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The first generation of SSD storage drives used a technology called single-level cell (SLC), which used one NAND flash memory chip to store one bit of information, with "electrically charged" standing for a binary one, and "not electrically charged" standing for a binary zero. As with all technology, things evolved over the years, and scientists and SSD vendors realized they could integrate a floating gate transistor into NAND flash memory chip, which gave them the ability to store two bits of information in the form of a range of charge voltage values representing the binary numbers of 00, 01, 10, and 11. This new technology is called multi-level cell (MLC), and has become prevalent in all SSDs since around 2015.

Discussion

IT Jobs Bound for Extinction

The IT industry sees rapid change and includes plenty of "hot today, gone tomorrow" positions: this article offers some predictions as to which jobs may become obsolete sooner rather than later. Included are C and C++ coders, who are expected to turn archaic like Cobol programmers, and PHP, WordPress, and LAMP programmers, as interest in such frameworks and languages are seeing decline. One of the major forecasts is that machine learning and AI will replace most coders after 2020.

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Right now, the hottest jobs are going to developers, whether they’re front end, back end, mobile, or full stack, says Indeed Prime’s Chiu. But that could change relatively quickly thanks to improvements in artificial intelligence, warns PK Agarwal, regional dean of Northeastern University-Silicon Valley, which offers certificate and degree programs in business, management, and technology for busy professionals. "If I were to look at a crystal ball, I don’t think the world’s going to need as many coders after 2020," notes Agarwal. "Ninety percent of coding is taking some business specs and translating them into computer logic. That’s really ripe for machine learning and low-end AI."

Discussion

Saturday May 20, 2017

Microsoft Researches Holographic Near-Eye Displays for Virtual and Augmented Reality

Microsoft Research has unveiled new technology designed to bring a comfortable, eyeglasses style form factor to virtual reality and augmented reality. They have demonstrated how they can create holographic imaging with a device in the form factor of sunglasses by using a powerful wave-front correction ability. The mixed reality sunglasses have a wide 80 degree horizontal field of view. The glasses use a thin and transparent holographic optical element as a combiner that has been cut into the shape of an eyeglass lens. This allows the device to have optical see-through capability that can resolve pixel scale details over the whole field of view.

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Microsoft Research then wanted to increase the computational speed of the digital holograms. Using GPU-accelerated algorithms and eye-tracking to limit the correct image focus and thus best image; to where the user is currently looking, researchers were able to demonstrate real-time hologram generation rates of 90-260 Hz on a Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

The technology is so advanced that they can even correct astigmatism and other defects that a user may have, thus the person can set aside their prescription glasses while using the device. The holographic display even has the ability to provide per-pixel focus control. I found this look into the Microsoft Research labs interesting as it shows some of the new technology that may find its way into our homes, work, health, and transportation. Even though current state of the device has the driving electronics external and the glasses are monoscopic, more research is being performed to build a practical stereo display. Even with that disclaimer, I'm still excited about how fast this technology is evolving. Who wouldn't want to wear a pair of glasses instead of the bulky headsets of today!

In this project, we explore how digital holography can be used to build novel near-eye displays for virtual and mixed (or augmented) reality. We experiment with true, phase-only holograms in which the image is formed by the interference of laser light. We address some of the known limitations of digital holograms and demonstrate how holography can add powerful, new features to near-eye displays: per-pixel focus control, vision correction, and unpresented combinations of form factor and field of view.

Discussion

It's Time for PC Game Demos to Make a Comeback

While the majority of publishers and developers no longer care about demos, this author believes they are still relevant and points out a potentially viable alternative from the folks behind Prison Architect, who designed their mobile version of the game so it is free to play up to a certain point: gamers who like it may simply pay the full price to get access to the rest of the content. This would be a practical way for anyone to test a title out, and the writer suggests that publishers wouldn’t lose anything from those who decline to pay. Unfortunately, this would mean that companies would get absolutely no money from me, since I have a short attention span and barely bother beyond the first level of a game. What’s wrong with Steam refunds, anyway?

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For publishers and developers, demos put a game in front of more players on launch day, provides them with additional information on how their game is being played and received, and can increase interest in their games even if not everyone who tries them, buys them. They can even get more technical feedback if their game is having problems on launch day. For players, they're given a chance to sample more new games, to properly try before they buy, and less incentive to abuse Steam's refund policy or wait months for a sale. PC demos are good for everyone, and it's time for them to make a comeback.

Discussion

Tesla Retroactively Extends Free Unlimited Supercharging to All Current Vehicles

Tesla announced the end of unlimited free Supercharging for future purchases back in November, but that decision has been reversed: the perk has been revived for all current owners. Originally, any orders after 1/15/17 would be placed on a model in which owners would have to pay for Supercharger usage after their yearly credits (which would provide around 1000 miles of range) were used up. Now, free charging is available indefinitely once again. Prospective buyers may attain the same privilege through a new referral program.

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It’s not clear how many owners are affected by this change since the limit to order was January 15 and a delivery before April 1st, meaning all vehicles delivered over the past 2 months were under the paid model and now they are not anymore. At the very least, it should have made about 10,000 owners very happy. Therefore, the only way to get free Supercharging going forward will be to get a referral code from a current owner, which is limited to 5 per owner until the end of the year.

Discussion

Panasonic Recalls 280,000 Tablet PC Battery Packs Due to Fire Risk

If you’ve got a Toughpad FZ-G1 tablet, you may want to check out the SKU list Panasonic has set up to identify whether your unit has a flawed battery pack that can lead to fires. The company is recalling 28 thousand batteries after 12 in North America, one in Japan, and one in Australia combusted. It sounds like the cause is extreme temperature, resulting in short circuit.

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Owners of systems featuring the battery packs are advised to download a firmware utility from Panasonic’s website that reduces charging from 4.2 to 4.0 volts and lowers the peak operating settings of the accumulator. After the new firmware is applied, customers are asked to contact Panasonic using a special email address or by phone, which will then arrange them a new battery (no need to return the old one). As makers of portable electronics are trying to make their products thinner and lighter while increasing capacity of their batteries to prolong their autonomous life, the number of problems with batteries has increased in the recent years.

Discussion

Audeze Makes $2,495 Earbuds Only an Audiophile Could Love

It wasn’t too long ago that Audeze unveiled the world’s first in-ear headphones utilizing planar magnetic technology (sound produced using a thin diaphragm and magnets rather than cone drivers), but the higher quality and much more expensive follow up is already here. $2,500 seems like an outrageous price for earbuds, but the LCDi4s do share technology with the company’s flagship product: the $4000 LCD-4 headphones. I’ve found that headphones offer better soundstage, so if I wanted to spend that kind of money, I’d opt for the LCD-3s instead.

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Audeze says the LCDi4s feature overall distortion (THD) that's less than 0.2 percent, even when you have music cranked all the way up. What's more, each separate unit is matched within +/- 1dB of each other and there's bass response that ranges flat from 900Hz down to 10Hz, helping make that overall soundstage as wide as possible. And yes, you should probably pair these with a capable headphone amp to maximize their potential. If you're already checking your savings account to see if you can afford a pair of the LCDi4s, they're available for pre-order now. However, Audeze says they won't ship until mid-June.

Discussion

Robots Could Wipe out Another 6 Million Retail Jobs

According to a new study, retail could actually lose a greater proportion of jobs to automation than manufacturing has: over the course of 10 years, 6 million to 7.5 positions (which represents at least 38% of the current retail workforce) may be replaced. We should expect to see many less cashiers in the future (self-checkout lanes) as well as sales jobs, as touchscreen computers and similar devices could take their place. Stocking and inventory positions would also be prime targets for automation.

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The retail industry is already undergoing cataclysmic changes, with about 3,300 store closings announced so far this year, according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, a retail think tank. But automation will drive more job losses than store closings in the next decade, Wilson said. "Store closings have to do with overbuilding and e-commerce," Wilson said. "But going forward, job losses will really be about automation." Rising wages are also helping to drive automation, as state and city governments hike their minimum wages. Additionally, several major retailers including Walmart (WMT), the nation's largest employer, have increased wages in order to find and retain the workers they need.

Discussion

Tom Hardy to Star in "Venom"

Remember how awesome Venom was in Spider-Man 3? Me neither. Sony is giving the popular villain another go in an offshoot film, and it will be none other than Tom Hardy playing Eddie Brock. Hardy’s stature may not be consistent with the comic version, but at least the character won’t look like a wimp this time around. I wonder if Carnage is the villain? The movie will be out in October next year.

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Venom has been one of Marvel’s top villains and a Spider-Man fixture since he was introduced in 1988, created by writer David Michelinie and artists Todd McFarlane and Mike Zeck. The character is an alien symbiote that needs a human host to survive. In return, the alien vests its victim with incredible powers. He made his first big-screen appearance in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 and was portrayed by Topher Grace. Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner, the latter of whom worked on 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, wrote the script for Venom. Plot details are being kept in the black but Hardy, who is said to be a Venom fan, will play Eddie Brock, the character who first became Venom.

Discussion

Americans No Longer Have to Register Non-Commercial Drones with the FAA

A court has ruled that the drone registration process no longer applies to hobbyists and other amateur, non-commercial flyers: lawmakers decided that doing so violated 2012’s FAA Modernization and Reform Act. That statute prohibits the FAA from passing any rules on the operation of model aircraft, which includes drones flown only for giggles. The drone industry is not pleased with this decision, however, as registration provides for both accountability and education to pilots.

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...if a person buys a new drone to fly for fun, they no longer have to register that aircraft with the FAA. But if flying for commercial purposes, drone buyers still need to register. The lawsuit was won by John Taylor, a model aircraft enthusiast, who brought the case against the FAA in January 2016. Since first opening the FAA’s registration system in December 2015, more than 820,000 people have registered to fly drones. Perhaps surprisingly, the drone industry isn’t thrilled with the court’s order to end registration.

Discussion

Uber Starts Charging What It Thinks You’re Willing to Pay

Uber is dumping their traditional fare calculation system for one that utilizes machine learning to guess how much a rider is willing to pay for a ride. One example would be a ride from one upper-class area to another, versus traveling between two poorer parts of town: the former, obviously, would cost more. It sounds like a lot of this extra cash will go straight to the company, rather than the driver.

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The company detailed for the first time in an interview with Bloomberg a new pricing system that’s been in testing for months in certain cities. On Friday, Uber acknowledged to drivers the discrepancy between their compensation and what riders pay. The new fare system is called "route-based pricing," and it charges customers based on what it predicts they’re willing to pay. It’s a break from the past, when Uber calculated fares using a combination of mileage, time and multipliers based on geographic demand.

Discussion

Friday May 19, 2017

PlayStation 4 Pro Not Powerful Enough to Run Destiny 2 at 60 FPS

This is an interesting turnout for a console that can supposedly compete with PCs, right? Bungie has revealed that the PS4 Pro is simply too weak to run their sequel at 60 FPS due to the lack of CPU power. While they have managed to get the game running in 4K, it is still sad to see the lack of performance in an upgraded console. The author suggests that this limitation will apply to the Scorpio version even if it has the hardware to manage 60 FPS due to the sake of console parity, but I would be surprised if the Xbox team let that happen.

...Project Scorpio utilizes a highly modified CPU so the device may be able to run Destiny 2 at 60 FPS, but due to Sony’s platform’s limitations, we’ll never know. It seems like a decision was made early on to keep the console versions at 30 FPS due to the PlayStation 4 Pro. This is truly disappointing and will be upsetting to many console gamers. Here’s hoping Phil Spencer intervenes and offers Bungie support to make Destiny 2 on Project Scorpio the best version of the game. This is a unique opportunity for Microsoft to not only land a significant blow to the competition, but also promote Project Scorpio as the ultimate gaming console by offering either frame rate or visual enhancements which go beyond the PlayStation 4 Pro’s bump in resolution.

Discussion

WannaCrypt Makes an Easy Case for Linux

This guy admits that it’s a tired argument but is using the recent/current ransomware fiasco to raise awareness for Linux and its security benefits again. Yes, you’ve heard most of it before: businesses should all switch from Windows, as it is a huge target for exploits, but he does try to make a novel point by noting that more and more companies are switching to Software as a Service (SaaS) or the cloud (meaning that work is increasingly done through a web browser), making Linux deployment more practical and sensible now. Er, wouldn’t Linux just become as vulnerable as Windows if its usage were to rise to the same level...

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Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Linux is perfect. Any system connected to a network can fall victim to something. But the truth of the matter is, by design, Linux is far less susceptible to the likes of WannaCrypt than is Windows. How do I know this? I've been using Linux as my only operating system (on servers and desktops) since 1997 and have only encountered one instance of malicious code (a rootkit on a poorly administered mail server). Those are some pretty good odds there. Imagine, if you will, you have deployed Linux as a desktop OS for your company and those machines work like champs from the day you set them up to the day the hardware finally fails. Doesn't that sound like a win your company could use?

Discussion

CIOs Have Stopped Fighting the Cloud

Infoworld has an article up suggesting that CIO's who once were skeptical of migrating their IT infrastructure to "the Cloud" have either given up fighting, changed their minds or have been fired, as CEO's and boards have pressed for the additional cost savings that can be achieved my migrating to external cloud providers. In the UK more than 9 in 10 CIO's now have plans to move their infrastructure to external cloud providers in the next 5 years, and somehow Infoworld thinks this is "good news".

Personally, I feel like moving your organizations key data and IT infrastructure to an external system you don't fully control and thus can't (or at least shouldn't) trust is a blunder of epic proportions, regardless of how much money can be saved. "The Cloud" is arguably one of the worst ideas in tech of the last decade, and it is sad to see so many organizations overly eager to embrace it. After all, there is no "cloud". It's just someone else's computer. Just like how many organizations who outsourced their IT and support to low cost countries have had a change of heart and are bringing it back home due to unexpected complications and costs, I expect the same will happen when it comes to the "cloud" in the not too distant future.

I guess some people just have to learn the hard way.

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The stated driver for the shift was mostly cost savings, cited by 61 percent. A close second was scalability, at 60 percent. Solving that pesky business agility problem came in at 51 percent. A bit less than half (49 percent) said that outplacing existing infrastructure (such as storage and compute) was the primary driver for migrating to the cloud. Indeed, more than half of CIOs said the complexity of their existing IT infrastructure was causing too much latency.

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Kill Google AMP Before it Kills the Web

When I first discovered Google's AMP pages on my phone, I was bothered by them. Instead of the pages being hosted on the sites I expected, they were somehow cached on an unintelligible Google link, and now there was an extra menu bar on my screen for AMP, taking up screen real-estate. Something about this method just felt wrong, almost as if I was being tricked by a man in the middle attack, rather than seeing the page I want directly from the site hosting it. What's worse? As a user, you can't turn it off. You get it whether you want it or not, at least as long as you use Google as your search provider. Content providers on the other hand can choose whether to participate or not, and Scott Gilbertson over at The Reg has an editorial up regarding why they shouldn't.

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What it is, is a way for Google to obfuscate your website, usurp your content and remove any lingering notions of personal credibility from the web.

If that appeals to you, here's what you need to do. First, get rid of all your HTML and render your content in a subset of HTML that Google has approved along with a few tags it invented. Because what do those pesky standards boards know? Trust Google, it knows what it's doing. And if you don't, consider yourself not part of the future of search results.

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