Final Fantasy VII Remake spoiler-free review: Our kind of Cloud gaming

Features - Posted On:2020-04-06 06:14:58 Source: arstechnica

This week's Final Fantasy VII Remake, in spite of its flaws and oddities, does the unimaginable: it delivers to just about any audience who might be interested in this specific RPG series and this specific game. That's good news for anyone who has awaited this popular game's return for 23 years. But big as that niche may be, it's still a niche.

Are you a series veteran who has followed the Warriors of Light since the NES era? Maybe you're a JRPG diehard who knows your way around every inscrutable Final Fantasy spinoff (VII or otherwise)? Or, what if you're a lapsed player who got swept up in 1997's FFVII fever hoping this new game will be a cool, modernized reason to return to your PlayStation 1 heyday?

If so, you count among the millions who will likely enjoy what FFVIIR has to offer. The production values, at their best, are exhilarating. The updated combat system sees Square-Enix get its closest yet to nailing battles in a JRPG, with a system that runs at a bombastic-yet-smooth clip. And it's nice to get to know some familiar faces in a stretched-out return to the iconic fantasy city of Midgar. Even better, you can rest assured that Square-Enix has avoided two of its usual sins this time around. FFVIIR doesn't "take 10 hours to get good," and its plot doesn't devolve into a Kingdom Hearts-like mess of indecipherable gibberish.

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Elon Musk Shares a Video: Making Ventilators From Tesla Parts

science - Posted On:2020-04-06 03:44:58 Source: slashdot

Elon Musk shared a new video today from Tesla Engineering. "We're trying to make some ventilators from some car parts, so we can help the medical industry without taking away from their supply," it begins. (All three people who appear in the video are wearing a face mask.) It ends with a demonstration of a prototype using a touchscreen display from the Model 3 infotainment system. "There's still a lot of work to do," the video concludes, "but we're giving it our best effort to make sure we can help some people out there." Yesterday ventilator manufacturer Medtronic also tweeted that Musk's other company SpaceX "is now making a vital component for critical care ventilators," meaning more of the devices would arrive sooner for Covid-19 patients. Meanwhile, the New York Post writes: Musk promised last month to shift production to the sorely-needed medical devices, but evidently found that buying existing ventilators with his own largesse was more practical. He shelled out to send 1,000 of the life-saving machines to California, and also vowed to buy some for New York, earning the gratitude of Mayor Bill de Blasio. Musk made good, with the city's public hospital system on Saturday tweeting their gratitude for ventilators Tesla donated, now in use at Lincoln Hospital in The Bronx. But, with the apex of the contagion possibly upon New York, Cuomo said Sunday that time had run out for Tesla to make new ventilators. "Their time-frame, frankly, doesn't work for our immediate apex, because whether we're talking two days or 10 days, you're not going to make ventilators at that time," said Cuomo, noting that the hang-up is that some parts have to come from overseas. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Quibi launches its mobile streaming service in the middle of the quarantine era

Apps - Posted On:2020-04-06 01:29:59 Source: techcrunch

Quibi, the much-hyped mobile app promising to deliver “quick bites” of video entertainment, is finally here. The company has been in the headlines for more than two years, thanks to the involvement of founder Jeffrey Katzenberg (who previously co-founded DreamWorks Animation) and CEO Meg Whitman (previously the CEO of eBay and Hewlett Packard Enterprise). Plus, […]

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After Four More Phone Masts Attacked, YouTube Promises To Remove Some 5G Conspiracy Videos

news - Posted On:2020-04-05 23:44:58 Source: slashdot

The Guardian reports that YouTube "will reduce the amount of content spreading conspiracy theories about links between 5G technology and coronavirus that it recommends to users, it has said, as four more attacks were recorded on phone masts within 24 hours." The online video company will actively remove videos that breach its policies, it said. But content that is simply conspiratorial about 5G mobile communications networks, without mentioning coronavirus, is still allowed on the site. YouTube said those videos may be considered "borderline content" and subjected to suppression, including loss of advertising revenue and being removed from search results on the platform. "We also have clear policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment, and we quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us," a YouTube spokesperson said. "We have also begun reducing recommendations of borderline content such as conspiracy theories related to 5G and coronavirus, that could misinform users in harmful ways...." YouTube says that since early February, it has manually reviewed and removed thousands of videos that spread dangerous or misleading coronavirus information. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How Robert Cringely Scored 5 Million N95 Masks From China

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 21:44:58 Source: slashdot

This week, tech pundit Robert Cringely described how a chance conversation with China-based entrepreneur Anina led to a friend with a garment factory "now making fully certified N-95 respirators with no clear distribution plan." Late on a Sunday night with the tech world in shut-down, how long would it take for me to find someone looking for up to five million N-95 masks? It took 10 minutes. I reached out to Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and to Mark Cuban from the Dallas Mavericks and Shark Tank... Mark Cuban put me in touch with ProjectN95, a just-created national clearinghouse for urgently needed medical equipment... It's important to realize what a miracle we accomplished. Normally there are lots of middlemen in Chinese distribution, but in this case, there were none, which meant maximal speed and minimal price. The goods were U.S. FDA certified, too, and the certification could be verified... We are tech people attempting to function during a pandemic, but what really counted here were personal relationships. Anina knows and trusts the factory owner. Anina and I have known each other for 15 years and I've known Marc Benioff and Mark Cuban even longer. We spend billions as a culture trying to build digital versions of such webs of trust, but sometimes it is better to do it the old fashion way. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Zoombombing is a crime, not a prank, prosecutors warn

Policy - Posted On:2020-04-05 20:14:59 Source: arstechnica

Coronavirus-related social distancing measures have given a big popularity boost to Zoom, a video conferencing platform that's known for its ease of use but not necessarily strong security or privacy protections. Internet trolls and other troublemakers have responded with "Zoombombing": joining Zoom meetings uninvited and disrupting them. Zoombombers have exposed themselves to schoolchildren and shouted racial slurs.

In a Friday statement, federal prosecutors in Michigan warned the public that Zoombombing isn't a harmless prank; it's a crime.

"Hackers are disrupting conferences and online classrooms with pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language," wrote the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. "Anyone who hacks into a teleconference can be charged with state or federal crimes."

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Scientists Create 'Xenobots' -- Virtual Creatures Brought to Life

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 19:29:59 Source: slashdot

"If the last few decades of progress in artificial intelligence and in molecular biology hooked up, their love child — a class of life unlike anything that has ever lived — might resemble the dark specks doing lazy laps around a petri dish in a laboratory at Tufts University." The New York Times reports on a mind-boggling living machine that's programmable -- and biodegradable. Strictly speaking, these life-forms do not have sex organs — or stomachs, brains or nervous systems. The one under the microscope consisted of about 2,000 living skin cells taken from a frog embryo. Bigger specimens, albeit still smaller than a millimeter-wide poppy seed, have skin cells and heart muscle cells that will begin pulsating by the end of the day. These are all programmable organisms called xenobots, the creation of which was revealed in a scientific paper in January... A xenobot lives for only about a week, feeding on the small platelets of yolk that fill each of its cells and would normally fuel embryonic development. Because its building blocks are living cells, the entity can heal from injury, even after being torn almost in half. But what it does during its short life is decreed not by the ineffable frogginess etched into its DNA — which has not been genetically modified — but by its physical shape. And xenobots come in many shapes, all designed by roboticists in computer simulations, using physics engines similar to those in video games like Fortnite and Minecraft... All of which makes xenobots amazing and maybe slightly unsettling — golems dreamed in silicon and then written into flesh. The implications of their existence could spill from artificial-intelligence research to fundamental questions in biology and ethics. "We are witnessing almost the birth of a new discipline of synthetic organisms," said Hod Lipson, a roboticist at the Columbia University who was not part of the research team. "I don't know if that's robotics, or zoology or something else." An algorithm running for about 24 hours iterated through possible body shapes, after which the the two researchers tried "to sculpt cellular figurines that resembled those designs." They're now considering how the process might be automated with 3-D cell printers, and the Times ponders other future possibilities the researchers have hinted at for their Xenobots. ("Sweep up ocean microplastics into a larger, collectible ball? Deliver drugs to a specific tumor? Scrape plaque from the walls of our arteries?") Sharing the Times' story on Twitter, Vint Cerf summed it up with just three words> . "This is weird." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Unqork CEO: Anything Java Coders Can Do, No-Code Can Do 200x Faster

developers - Posted On:2020-04-05 17:59:59 Source: slashdot

Here's some interesting thoughts from long-time Slashdot reader theodp: CNBC reports that the next frontier in the Microsoft, Google, Amazon cloud battle is over a world without code. Google recently acquired no-code app development platform AppSheet, Microsoft just launched a new public preview of its low-code Power Apps mobile app for iOS and Android, and there is speculation about an 'Amazon for Everyone' product from AWS. "Anything a Java developer or engineer can build using custom code, we can do it 200 times faster," boasted Unqork CEO Gary Hoberman, whose no-code company raised $131 million in its latest funding round from investors that included Alphabet. The promise of no-code development platforms has been touted for decades — is it different this time? Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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New Microsoft Edge features will make you more productive

Security - Posted On:2020-04-05 17:15:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

Microsoft recently confirmed that it's working on Vertical tabs and Smart copy features for its new browser. With these features, Microsoft aims to improve your productivity. In this article, we'll take a closer look at each of them. [...]

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Mobilizing 3D Printers Around the World Against the Coronovirus

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 16:59:59 Source: slashdot

"From face-shields to respirator valves, 3-D printer owners pitch in to the efforts to provide PPE to Australian hospitals," writes davecb (Slashdot reader #6,526). The Guardian talked to Mat Bowtell, a former Toyota engineer in Australia who's using fourteen 3D printers to manufacture thousands of face shields for healthcare workers. And citing 3D printing, the director of a not-for-profit working with the government says the country has an "incredible onshore capability" to respond to the pandemic: "The 3D printing capability onshore is a massive distinguisher for Australia to step up to the crisis," he said. When asked how else 3D printing might be deployed in practice, Goennemann points to the supply of ventilators, which are needed to assist breathing in the most seriously ill Covid-19 patients... Goennemann says Resmed, the main ventilator manufacturer, could struggle to get parts due to the disruption of global supply chains. That's where 3D printing can help. "I don't want to speak on behalf of Resmed, but that's an area where we have critical supply, and parts can be 3D printed onshore rather than being procured offshore," he said... For Bowtell, the decision to shift his production to face shields had nothing to do with profit. It was about doing what he could in the most extraordinary of times. "It's about survival at the moment," Bowtell said. "Just helping people to get through this together." Reuters also reported that one Italian company used its 3D printers to manufacture valves for respirators for its local hospital. And a paywalled article at Fortune also describes the team building an open source ventilator, while also noting that more than 4,800 people with 3D printers "have, via a public Google Doc, signed up to help print everything from face shields to ventilator parts for their local hospitals." They also highlight Budmen Industries, an upstate New York company selling 3D printers that has now also printed 1,492 face shields for New York medical workers. And there's also the CoVent-19 Challenge, "an open innovation 8-week Grand Challenge for engineers, innovators, designers, and makers" on the GrabCAD Challenges platform, to create "a rapidly deployable, minimum viable mechanical ventilator for patients with COVID-19 related ventilator-dependent lung injury." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Russia Accused of Spreading Coronavirus Disinformation

technology - Posted On:2020-04-05 15:45:00 Source: slashdot

Two associate professors studying foreign trolls online have penned an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing that Russian efforts to stir up antagonisms online "continues to be true with coronavirus disinformation." In our research, we have found multiple networks of fake accounts — one of which we can attribute to Russia — that use conversations about coronavirus as a tool for political attacks. To right-leaning Americans, these trolls criticize the response from liberals, suggest the coronavirus is being used to take away their freedoms, and point the finger of blame at China. To left-wing Americans, they suggest the administration's response is immoral and inadequate and point the finger of blame at Trump. On both sides, these are arguments that real Americans are also making, typically with honest intentions. The attacks play to the trolls' goals, however, and so they repeat them, making the loudest and ugliest versions more mainstream. In doing so, they dangerously widen existing divisions in a time of crisis, making critical compromise more difficult. As before, these networks rely on hashtags from organic American conversations, such as #TrumpLiedPeopleDied and #ReopenAmerica. They aren't creating the divisions, but they are working hard to make them wider.... Many commentators have discussed various ways in which the United States has acted to make the coronavirus crisis worse than it could or should be. The public's own role in spreading global disinformation needs to be added to that list. We have to address our own culpability in the problems that are fomented by disinformation. At a time when most news and information people digest is socially mediated, we need to create citizens and platforms that are more resilient to lies and more accepting of facts. Above all, however, we need to stop doing the trolls' jobs for them. The article also cites "websites peddling conspiracy theories" (including what it calls the "Chinese lab origin theory, among other fearmongering stories related to the virus.") "Among those accounts circulating the stories are pro-Russian and Russian state media-affiliated social media influencers." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Earth's Crust Is Shaking Less After Coronavirus Lockdowns

news - Posted On:2020-04-05 14:45:00 Source: slashdot

CNN reports: Around the world, seismologists are observing a lot less ambient seismic noise -- meaning, the vibrations generated by cars, trains, buses and people going about their daily lives. And in the absence of that noise, Earth's upper crust is moving just a little less. Thomas Lecocq, a geologist and seismologist at the Royal Observatory in Belgium, first pointed out this phenomenon in Brussels. Brussels is seeing about a 30% to 50% reduction in ambient seismic noise since mid-March, around the time the country started implementing school and business closures and other social distancing measures, according to Lecocq. That noise level is on par with what seismologists would see on Christmas Day, he said. The reduction in noise has had a particularly interesting effect in Brussels: Lecocq and other seismologists are able to detect smaller earthquakes and other seismic events that certain seismic stations wouldn't have registered.... Paula Koelemeijer posted a graph on Twitter showing how noise in West London has been affected, with drops in the period after schools and social venues in the United Kingdom closed and again after a government lockdown was announced. Celeste Labedz, a PhD student at the California Institute of Technology, posted a graph showing an especially stark drop in Los Angeles. The Belgian seismologist told CNN that the results suggested an inspiring message for humankind. "You feel like you're alone at home, but we can tell you that everyone is home. Everyone is doing the same. Everyone is respecting the rules." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Edge Overtakes Firefox To Become the Second-Most Popular Browser

news - Posted On:2020-04-05 13:45:00 Source: slashdot

Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes Softpedia: It was probably just a matter of time, but the thing so many people, including everyone at Microsoft, expected finally happened: Microsoft Edge surpassed Mozilla Firefox to become the world's second most-used desktop browser. Data provided by market analysis firm NetMarketShare reveals that the whole thing happened in March, when the adoption of the Chromium-powered Microsoft Edge improved to a level that allowed it to overtake Mozilla's own browser. So right now, Microsoft Edge is the second most-used desktop browser on the planet with a share of 7.59%, while Mozilla Firefox is now third with 7.19%. As for who's leading the pack, Google Chrome continues to be number one with a share of 68.50%. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Microsoft Edge is now 2nd most popular desktop browser, beats Firefox

Security - Posted On:2020-04-05 13:15:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

The Microsoft Edge browser is now being used by more people than Mozilla Firefox making it the 2nd most popular desktop browser. [...]

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R&D Roundup: Ultrasound/AI medical imaging, assistive exoskeletons and neural weather modeling

Artificial Intelligence - Posted On:2020-04-05 12:45:01 Source: techcrunch

In the time of COVID-19, much of what transpires from the science world to the general public relates to the virus, and understandably so. But other domains, even within medical research, are still active — and as usual, there are tons of interesting (and heartening) stories out there that shouldn’t be lost in the furious […]

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Don’t Panic: The comprehensive Ars Technica guide to the coronavirus [Updated 4/5]

Science - Posted On:2020-04-05 12:45:00 Source: arstechnica

More than 1.2 million people have been infected with a new coronavirus that has spread widely from its origin in China over the past few months. Over 67,000 have already died. Our comprehensive guide for understanding and navigating this global public health threat is below.

This is a rapidly developing epidemic, and we will update this guide periodically to keep you as prepared and informed as possible.

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Stanford Begins America's First Large-Scale Test For Coronavirus Antibodies

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 12:45:00 Source: slashdot

"Crowds flock to Santa Clara County test sites to learn if they have antibodies to COVID-19," reports the Bay Area Newsgroup, citing long lines of cars forming at three Stanford research sites for the drive-through tests: The 2,500 test slots on Friday and Saturday filled up within hours, as news of the project -- the first large scale study of its type in the U.S. -- spread quickly through the county. The test detects protective antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself. This gives scientists a snapshot of how many people in the county have already been infected, but weren't seriously sick and didn't realize it. And it tells residents whether they carry potentially protective antibodies -- so may be immune to future infection. "This is critical information," said principal investigator Dr. Eran Bendavid, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine with Stanford Health Policy. "We will show the country what to do and how to do it," he said... It can guide public health measures and policies -- showing where the epidemic is heading, when it is safe to lift shelter-in-place restrictions and how far away we are from "herd immunity," when it becomes harder for a virus to spread... This approach, called a "serological test," remains a research tool and is not yet widely available in the United States. Stanford is working on a second test that will be deployed for more widespread use. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval is imminent -- "within hours, not days," [California governor] Newsom said.... Meanwhile, a global effort to study antibodies is being coordinated by the World Health Organization. Called Solidarity II, more than a half dozen countries will pool their findings from large-scale testing... It is not yet proven that these antibodies actually provide protection... But there are promising clues that COVID-19 might act like it's closest cousin, the SARS virus, which triggers an immune response that persists for at least three years. In a Chinese study of rhesus monkeys, COVID-19 antibodies protected the animals from a second infection. If protected, people could potentially return to work. There is also the prospect that the antibodies could be used as therapy against the disease. Dozens of companies are working to develop antibody tests, as are researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article notes that United Biomedical Inc will "soon" also provide free antibody testing to all 8,000 residents in Telluride, Colorado, and in some countries in Asia. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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What It's Like To Attend a Conference -- in Person -- in the Age of Covid-19?

it - Posted On:2020-04-05 11:45:05 Source: slashdot

What happens when no one shows up for a tech conference? Fast Company's technology editor harrymcc writes: From Apple to Microsoft to Google, major tech companies have responded to the coronavirus crisis by either canceling their 2020 conference or making them purely virtual. But one well-established event — Vancouver's CanSecWest — went ahead earlier this month, with streaming as an option but not mandatory. Only three attendees showed up in the flesh. But so did security reporter Seth Rosenblatt, who wrote about the eerie experience for Fast Company. They were outnumbed by the six staffers at the event -- "there to run the online component" -- but the article notes that the conference's organizer and founder promised all attendees "infrared body temperature checks, on-site coronavirus testing, ample supplies of disposable face masks and hand sanitizer, and restrictions on physical contact and interaction..." "Empty hallways and escalators echoed with every footstep, and it smelled empty, the ventilation system circulating unused air. At the conference registration desk, I was offered a disposable surgical face mask and gloves." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Could Radioactivity Make Otherwise Frozen Planets Habitable?

science - Posted On:2020-04-05 10:44:56 Source: slashdot

sciencehabit writes: Not too close, but not too far. That's long been the rule describing how distant a planet should be from its star in order to sustain life. But a new study challenges that adage: A planet can maintain water and other liquids on its surface if it's heated, not by starlight, but by radioactive decay, researchers calculate. That opens up the possibility for many planets — even free-floating worlds untethered to stars — to host life, they speculate. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Flagship sedans like the Audi A8 are a dying breed

Cars - Posted On:2020-04-05 09:44:57 Source: arstechnica

The flagship sedan has been one of the more tragic victims of the SUV craze. Cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and the Audi A8 used to be considered the ultimate expression of a carmaker's craft. Advanced technologies like anti-lock brakes, airbags, and infotainment systems would show up in these expensive machines years before they trickled down to the rest of us. But two decades into the 21st century, sedans are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Much of the most interesting new car technology—to us at least—is now found in plug-in powertrains, and in the mass-market, like the Model 3, Polestar 2, or VW's ID family. So each year, fewer and fewer flagship sedans find homes, particularly as those same OEMs offer supersized luxury SUVs as well.

The A8 is a perfect example. Despite its Ronin connection, the biggest Audi has never been as popular as the S-Class, 7 Series, or Lexus LS. In 2019, the first full calendar year when the car was on sale in the United States, Audi sold 2,963 A8s. Over the same 12 months, the company sold 14,256 Q8s, the five-seat range-topping SUV that gets all the same gadgets but in much more on-trend packaging. You should be able to read Managing Editor Eric Bangeman's review of that SUV in the next few weeks, but having sampled both vehicles from the driver's seat and also riding as a passenger in the back, my take is that the sedan should come out ahead on both counts.

Despite its 17.3-foot (5.3m) length and 6.3-foot (1.9m) width, you only have to drive an A8 for a day or two before its bulk seems to shrink around you. And a curb weight of at least 4,773lbs (2,164kg) for the lightest variant (the $85,200 A8 55 TFSI, which uses a 3.0L V6 gasoline engine) makes it no featherweight, but it feels nimble nonetheless. And as long as you tick the $3,500 option for the rear-seat comfort package, the back seat of an A8 will outdo many business-class airline seats when it comes to comfort and adjustability, with heating, ventilation, and lumbar massages thrown in.

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