Saturday, 25 February 2017

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy hits June 30

Collection will be $40

The remastered Crash Bandicoot collection headed to PlayStation 4 arrives on June 30, Activision announced today.

The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy collection includes the first three Crash games: Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot: Warped.

The remastered trilogy features new lighting, animations, cinematics enhanced for 4K and the PS4 Pro, and a fully remastered soundtrack. It also will have full analog stick support, along with new unified save and checkpoint systems.

Vicarious Visions, which is handling the work of updating the classics, also improved the game’s bonus levels and time trials, and recreated the intro cinematic with updated graphics and sound.

The trilogy will cost $39.99.



Read the full article here by Polygon

Thou Shalt Not Repair!

This is an interesting case that comes as news to me. Nebraska is leading a number of states that are involved with requiring Apple and cell phone makers to supply the information needed to fix broken phones. This brings up a lot of questions around the phone being yours or not. That all said, fixing a cell phone is not exactly rocket science either whether or not you have support documentation. However, this bill also looks to force phone makers to supply repair parts. I am sure many of us would like to see this type of legislation in our states. The legislation would require Apple and other electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts to consumers and independent repair shops, and would require manufacturers to make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public. Discussion

Read the full article here by [H]ardOCP News/Article Feed

Hyper is a JavaScript, HTML and CSS-based terminal

Hyper is a very configurable open-source Electron-based terminal. On Windows it uses the regular command prompt by default, but can be tweaked to support PowerShell or whatever shell you’d prefer. Launch the program and it just looks like a regular command prompt with a slightly different font and window style. But wait: Hyper is powered by Chromium, and some familiar Chrome-type features are just a tap or two away. Would you like another tab, for instance? Press Ctrl+T, as normal, or Ctrl+N to open a new Hyper window. Individual tabs can be split horizontally (Ctrl+Shift+O) or vertically (Ctrl+Shift+E), enabling viewing… [Continue Reading]


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Facebook claims a technical error automatically logged users out

Were you logged out of Facebook earlier today? You weren't alone. A rash of folks were signed out of their account and some were told that their accounts may have been compromised. As such, the social network locked access and sent out password reset emails to affected folks. Problem is, the emails didn't do the trick for everyone. Things seem to be back to normal now, however.

Facebook has issued the following statement in response:

"Earlier today an error in one of our systems designed to help prevent suspicious account access sent a small set of people to our account recovery flow unnecessarily. We have fixed the issue and are in the process of clearing the affected accounts from this recovery flow. We apologize for any inconvenience."

What's more, a source tells us that this was the result of a technical error (sounds familiar) and there's no reason to think your account was at risk. And if you got an error earlier, there shouldn't be anything that you need to do to reinstate your account. "[Users] can go through the flow," the source said, "but if they take no action, we will clear the recovery flow on their behalf very soon."

Facebook wasn't alone in this type of error either. Some Google users had a similar issue last night, which might explain any Google OnHub issues. The folks in Mountain View said there's nothing to worry about there, as well.



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First Unity-built cartoon proves the engine isn't just for games

As the NBA's eSports league proves, video games are quickly becoming mainstream. Games are having a moment, and so are the tools used to make them. Case in point, the Unity game engine recently reached a big milestone. French animated show Mr. Carton just became the first cartoon TV series made with Unity.

Mr. Carton is premiering its first 13-episode season on public TV station France Télévisions this week. Six episodes have aired thus far, and are available on YouTube. The two-minute adventures follow the titular hero, a cardboard man in a cardboard world. The language barrier doesn't apply here, since the protagonist doesn't say much beyond "Ooh la la" when his exploits don't go as planned.

While other animation programs are designed specifically for making cartoons, Unity is geared more towards, well, making games. Still, Mr. Carton creator Michaël Bolufer, who works in both gaming and film, found Unity more than suitable. In fact, he said that sequencing was a lot less challenging in Unity than it is with traditional methods. Steps like storyboarding and mastering were handled with other applications, but virtually everything else (set building, lighting, rendering, etc.) was done at least in part with Unity. It ended up being easier to do things like compositing and adjusting the camera and lighting directly in Unity instead of going back and forth between platforms.

Bolufer said using Unity actually saved time and money, adding that he never considered making the show any other way. Although not explicitly created for making television, Unity seems more than willing to cooperate with animators on some serious projects. Disney's use of the game engine in the live action remake of The Jungle Book is just one sign that Unity's mainstream appeal is real.

Source: Unity



Read the full article here by Engadget

Friday, 24 February 2017

Microsoft Research Developing An AI To Put Coders Out of a Job

jmcbain writes: Are you a software programmer who voted in a recent Slashdot poll that a robot/AI would never take your job? Unfortunately, you're wrong. Microsoft, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, is developing such an AI. This software "can turn your descriptions into working code in seconds," reports MSPoweruser. "Called DeepCoder, the software can take requirements by the developer, search through a massive database of code snippets and deliver working code in seconds, a significant advance in the state of the art in program synthesis." New Scientist describes program synthesis as "creating new programs by piecing together lines of code taken from existing software -- just like a programmer might. Given a list of inputs and outputs for each code fragment, DeepCoder learned which pieces of code were needed to achieve the desired result overall." The original research paper can be read here.
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Google Launches Robo-Tool to Flag Hate Speech Online

Imagine taking part in a conversation online and being called an "idiot." That is practically equivalent to first-degree murder these days, so Google has stepped in with a solution to prevent people from getting their feelings hurt and having suicidal thoughts. "Perspective" functions by ranking comments on how "toxic" they are and categorizing them appropriately so sensitive types can be warned about discussions that dare to exhibit brutal honesty. Perspective helps to filter abusive comments more quickly for human review. The algorithm was trained on hundreds of thousands of user comments that had been labelled as "toxic" by human reviewers, on sites such as Wikipedia and the New York Times. It works by scoring online comments based on how similar they are to comments tagged as "toxic" or likely to make someone leave a conversation. "All of us are familiar with increased toxicity around comments in online conversations," Mr. Cohen said. "People are leaving conversations because of this, and we want to empower publications to get those people back." Discussion

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Intel Launches Atom C3000 SoCs: Up to 16 Cores for NAS, Servers, Vehicles

Intel this week formally launched its Atom C3000-series processors (formerly codenamed Denverton). The new chips are designed for inexpensive storage servers, NAS applications, as well as autonomous vehicles. The C3000 series features up to 16 low power x86 cores, integrated 10 GbE, rather rich I/O capabilities, as well as Intel’s Quick Assist technology.

Intel’s Atom C3000 processors are based on Intel's current-generation Goldmont Atom microarchitecture, with SKUs offering between 2 and 16 cores and clockspeeds up to 2.2 GHz. Being designed for primarily for NAS and servers, the Atom C3000 SoCs fully support Intel’s VT-d hardware virtualization, Quick Assist compression/encryption technology (up to 20 Gbps throughput) as well as up to 64 GB of single-channel DDR4-1866 or DDR3L-1600 ECC memory. When it comes to I/O, the Atom C3000 features a PCIe 3.0 x16 controller (with x2, x4 and x8 bifurcation), 16 SATA 3.0 ports, four 10 GbE controllers, and four USB 3.0 ports.

Due to its rich I/O capabilities, the Atom C3000 is aimed at a wide range of devices, including servers/NAS (which they were originally designed for) as well as emerging applications like IoT and autonomous vehicles. For example, PCIe 3.0 bus may be used to connect various controllers, sensors and co-processors (e.g., a GPU) to the SoC. Last year we examined one of the server-oriented C3000-based designs that is going to be one of the many devices featuring the new chips.

Intel will offer various versions of its Atom C3000 SoCs with different TDPs starting at 8.5 W. The chips will support extended temperature ranges for storage, industrial and autonomous driving environments. In addition, Intel says that the processors feature “automotive-grade safety and security features,” but does not elaborate (generally, ECC, Quick Assist, virtualization, etc. can be considered as safety and security features too).

So far, Intel has only announced one Atom C3000-series SoC: the Atom C3338, which has two cores running at 1.5 – 2.2 GHz, 4 MB cache, 10 PCIe 3.0 lanes, 10 SATA 3.0 ports, four Gigabit Ethernet ports and so on. The chip has 9 W TDP and costs $27 in commercial quantities and is expected to be available to Intel’s customers already this quarter.

Intel’s partners have been testing the Atom C3000 processors since at least early 2016. The chipmaker expects its allies to start launching actual products based on the chips by mid-2017. In addition to the SoCs themselves, Intel will also supply a data plane development kit (DPDK) as well as a storage performance development kit (SPDK) to assist its partners in development of networking and storage applications.

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LG's latest battery is also a phone

The problem with having a smartphone that you want to use all the damn time is that you'll spend a big chunk of your day wedded to an outlet. LG believes that nobody should have to suffer such an indignity, and has launched the X power2 as a remedy. The smartphone is designed to operate for an entire weekend on a single charge thanks to the 4,500mAh battery tucked inside. It'll also recharge nice and quick, too, taking just two hours to go from flat all the way back up to 100 percent.

Unfortunately, like the first-generation LG X power phone, the capacious battery is the only noteworthy thing about it. The 5.5-inch display has a HD resolution, and is using an off-brand 1.5Ghz octa-core chip that we're guessing is made by MediaTek. In addition, there's either 1.5GB or 2GB RAM paired with 16GB storage, which will hardly pull up any trees when most flagships are packing twice that amount.

Rounding out the spec list is a reasonably-decent 13 megapixel primary camera and a five megapixel wide-angle front facer. You'll also get barebones LTE connectivity along with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2, so nothing much of interest here. On the upside, the device runs Android 7.0, and shouldn't be too expensive, since it's one of LG's mass-market devices, although there's no word on actual pricing. For comparison, the first-generation X power cost just $150, making it a decent backup device for road warriors.

The LG X power2 will launch in March in Latin America, and will subsequently roll out to "key markets" in the US, Asia and Europe soon after.



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Wix Bought DeviantArt for $36 Million

Techcrunch reports that Wix.com has acquired DeviantArt, an online community for artists, designers, and art/design enthusiasts. Devianart is a huge platform with 325 million individual pieces of original art and more than 40 million registered members. The website was purchased for $36 million in cash.

DeviantArt was first founded in 2000. This website along was a real hub for professional and amateur artists, hosting millions of works. The company had raised about $13.5 million from backers that included Autodesk, DivX and individual investors. No investment was made in marketing or advertising. All growth is entirely organic. Wix said that DeviantArt will continue to operate as a standalone site. There will be a couple of changes also: 

First, DeviantArt users will get access to Wix’s web design tools to build out more dynamic online presences. These tools do not only cover design, but commerce and other features for running businesses online.

That’s another area that Wix has been expanding: just last month the company acquired Flok, a provider of mobile CRM and loyalty services, to expand Wix’s mobile commerce offerings.

Second, Wix will open up DeviantArt’s repository of art and creative community to the Wix platform, giving Wix’s users access to that work to use in their own site building.Techcrunch

Techcrunch

“We founded DeviantArt to enable the creative spirit in everyone, creating a platform dedicated to the vision and talent of the community which could be shared with the world,” said Sotira, in a statement. “This combined effort with Wix creates new opportunities for innovation never before seen on the Internet and an amazing super-charged offering to our community members. We look forward to being part of the Wix team, and we are humbled by the respect and love they have shown to our community.”

Angelo Sotira, co-founder and CEO of DeviantArt

 

 


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Serious Cloudflare bug exposed a potpourri of secret customer data

World's Only Sample of Metallic Hydrogen Has Been Lost

New submitter drunkdrone quotes a report from International Business Times: A piece of rare meta poised to revolutionize modern technology and take humans into deep space has been lost in a laboratory mishap. The first and only sample of metallic hydrogen ever created on earth was the rarest material on the planet when it was developed by Harvard scientists in January this year, and had been dubbed "the holy grail of high pressure physics." The metal was created by subjecting liquid hydrogen to pressures greater that those at the center of the Earth. At this point, the molecular hydrogen breaks down and becomes an atomic solid. Scientists theorized that metallic hydrogen -- when used as a superconductor -- could have a transformative effect on modern electronics and revolutionize medicine, energy and transportation, as well as herald in a new age of consumer gadgets. Sadly, an attempt to study the properties of metallic hydrogen appears to have ended in catastrophe after one of the two diamonds being used like a vice to hold the tiny sample was obliterated. The metal was being held between two diamonds at a pressure of around 71.7 million pounds per square inch -- more than a third greater than at the Earth's core. According to The Independent, one of these diamonds shattered while the sample was being measured with a laser, and the metal was lost in the process.
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Making Bugatti Roar in Unreal

David Baylis talked about the way he created authentic real-time hypercar.

 

Automative Design

It is no secret that I love Unreal Engine, because of the potential it has, but also the great community behind it pushing its boundaries. At last year’s GDC, I discovered this crazy McLaren 570S demo, running in real-time with absolutely stunning visuals. Needless to say that as an automotive fan, I had to try this out!

First few tries were somewhat unsuccessful, I just couldn’t get that result I was looking for. Maybe not the right car?

Well, a few months later, I discovered the Bugatti Chiron, and soon started working on some environment for it. I really want to stress out the front of the car, with a dark background, so I went for a windtunnel Facility, and inspired myself from the Mercedes and Volvo. Kind of like a monster coming out of the dark with evil eyes. The car itself is so wide and low that I barely tweaked the Camera FOV to get this effect.

Creating Bugatti Chiron

I actually started modeling the wheel rim, just for fun and modeling practice. Fun fact, I rendered it with Corona at first, because I wasn’t even thinking of going further at first.

A single wheel is nice right but why not bring the whole car and give it more mood. I managed to find a decent model, but needed quite some reworking.

I added the front and rear grill, the Bugatti Logo badge, reworked the headlight, organized all the material ID’s for Unreal Engine, and reworked the UV layout.

Once everything was packed together, I exported the body with all of its Material IDs and the Wheels individually (as they were quite high poly).

Materials

For this project, I thought it would be interesting to investigate the “Automotive Materials” released by Epic Games a few months ago on the Marketplace, that were used on the McLaren 570S demo.

The car uses mostly the Automotive Materials, with a few tweaks to them (custom Roughness and Normals). They are all usable as instance materials, which could mean I could see the material change in real time.

I used the same technique to apply materials to the exterior assets. Every time I created a shader, it had to have these parameters as an instance. It’s pretty easy and I’m sure that most of you are aware of this functionality, but I did not use it all the time before, and it does save me a lot of time afterwards to avoid going back to the shader all the time and click apply.

For the assets, I used Quixel Suite. I cannot work without this tool. I have so much fun playing with the textures and getting it spot on!

Lighting

The magic of lighting, probably my favorite part combined with the shaders. It is sort of mysterious in a way that you need to replicate real world physics, but sometimes need to cheat a bit because you’re in a game engine.

This is the other big aspect of this project, it wasn’t only to drool over those wheel rims in real-time (ok..ok a little), it was a way to test a closed environment lighting. I have always built archviz environments with UE4. So basically the Dir.Light + Skylight (with or without HDRI). But this time, no sun, nor skylight. I studied the reference images and checked the placement of the spotlights in real world.

Started with a 3-point light placing in mind, and slowly placed several spotlights on both top sides, almost like an arena, built lighting, and results were not bad to be honest. I had this nice area of light, and black backdrop. This scenario could have worked well with some nice volumetric lighting, but since I went for a wind tunnel facility, I added white neon lights on top. Built the lighting, and got this result that I really liked giving it some aerodynamics.

Can you talk about the possibilities of running this kind of model in an interactive game environment?

That I’d love to try! I didn’t go any further in terms of rigging the car and testing the controls, but it something definitely interesting. I do not know of any racing games made with Unreal Engine, and I’d love to see some but I think there are many technical aspects that have to be considered to have a “true” feeling of the car in-game.

Concerning polycount, well I do try to be careful, especially in real-time. It’s hard to say for this project, because I’m all about visual at first as I’m more of an archviz artist (you can cringe at what’s coming). Throwing a 300K poly wheel rim isn’t the best in terms of optimization, but this was purely showcase.

Using Unreal Engine 4

Unreal has become very popular among artists. Great community, great support. If you find yourself in difficulty, you can always look up in the forums to find your solution. It takes a bit of time to get used to it, especially if you have never used a game engine.

Main advantage of UE4 is that it makes a big change to the classic renders, you can visualize much better your product in real-time and it’s somewhat way more fun. It’s relatively user-friendly and you can find a lot of tutorials. It has this mysterious aspect that you always want to push further and discover the true power of it.

For the disadvantages, there are quite a few also, it all depends on what you want to do and the amount of time you have. It’s definitely worth spending time on UE4, but don’t get discouraged by the errors you will encounter.

David Baylis, Product Design / Architectural Visualisation

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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NVIDIA/Radeon Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux Relative Gaming Performance

Last week I published some Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux Radeon benchmarks and Windows vs. Linux NVIDIA Pascal tests. Those results were published by themselves while for this article are the AMD and NVIDIA numbers merged together and normalized to get a look at the relative Windows vs. Linux gaming performance.

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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Linux Kernel 4.10 Officially Released With Virtual GPU Support

"Linus Torvalds announced today the general availability of the Linux 4.10 kernel series, which add a great number of improvements, new security features, and support for the newest hardware components," writes Softpedia. prisoninmate quotes their report: Linux kernel 4.10 has been in development for the past seven weeks, during which it received a total of seven Release Candidate snapshots that implemented all the changes that you'll soon be able to enjoy on your favorite Linux-based operating system... Prominent new features include virtual GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) support, new "perf c2c" tool that can be used for analysis of cacheline contention on NUMA systems, support for the L2/L3 caches of Intel processors (Intel Cache Allocation Technology), eBPF hooks for cgroups, hybrid block polling, and better writeback management. A new "perf sched timehist" feature has been added in Linux kernel 4.10 to provide detailed history of task scheduling, and there's experimental writeback cache and FAILFAST support for MD RAID5... Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) could be the first stable OS to ship with Linux 4.10. It required 13,000 commits, plus over 1,200 merges, Linus wrote in the announcement, adding "On the whole, 4.10 didn't end up as small as it initially looked."
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Monday, 20 February 2017

Zuckerberg Shares Facebook's Plan to Bring Community Together, Edits Out a Questionable Sentence Minutes Later

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to bring people closer together. He published a 6,000-word letter on his Facebook page Thursday to outline his vision for the kind of world he thinks Facebook can help create. The free-wielding note included few specifics, but offered a number of broad, ambitious goals for how the tech giant can contribute to a better understanding of everything from terrorism to fake news. Interestingly, minutes after the post was published, Zuckerberg edited out a sentence from the letter. Mashable adds: In the post, Zuckerberg briefly touches on how artificial intelligence can be used to detect terrorist propaganda. "Right now, we're starting to explore ways to use AI to tell the difference between news stories about terrorism and actual terrorist propaganda so we can quickly remove anyone trying to use our services to recruit for a terrorist organization," he wrote in the post published Thursday. That sounds like a straightforward enough application of AI -- one that's in line with what Zuckerberg and other executives have discussed in the past -- but it's different from what the CEO had originally written. In an earlier version of the missive, which was shared with a number of news outlets in advance of its publication on Facebook, Zuckerberg took the idea farther. The "long-term promise of AI," he wrote, is that it can be used used to "identify risks that nobody would have flagged at all, including terrorists planning attacks using private channels." Here's an expanded version of the quote from the Associated Press (emphasis ours). "The long term promise of AI is that in addition to identifying risks more quickly and accurately than would have already happened, it may also identify risks that nobody would have flagged at all "including terrorists planning attacks using private channels, people bullying someone too afraid to report it themselves, and other issues both local and global. It will take many years to develop these systems." That's different from what was described in the final version that was shared Thursday, which made no mention of private communication in relation to AI and terrorism.
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USB Killer now lets you fry most Lightning and USB-C devices for $55

Unreal Engine 4.15 supports Nintendo Switch, HDR, and AFR for Nvidia SLI

How AMD's Ryzen Will Disrupt the Gaming CPU Market

Eurogamer has offered some positive thoughts on the effect that Ryzen could have on gaming. While there is plenty of testing left to be done, it isn't crazy to think that the new AMD chips may offer tremendous value, especially if they can be pushed like the competition. Ryzen does lack an integrated GPU, but that "downside," as you would imagine, is pretty darn moot. One thing I like, beyond the gaming aspect, is that Ryzen chips could be a cheaper but equally effective solution for video encoding. …how will gaming performance pan out, and secondly - just how is a much smaller company able to undercut Intel so massively? Has Intel really been ripping us off over the last decade? Potentially, there's much to get excited about in just how much performance we're getting for the money here—even for the budget gaming PC builder. At the absolute bottom end, the Pentium G4560 still looks unassailable, but assuming Ryzen can indeed match up to an Intel Broadwell processor, the entry-level Ryzen 3 1100 should offer superb gaming performance up there with a modern i5, even before we factor in the overclocking potential of the chip. There are also other factors to consider too - such as AMD's track record in providing gamer-friendly features on entry-level motherboards. Discussion

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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Four short links: 15 Feb 2017

Docker Data, Smart Broadcasting, Open Source, and Cellphone Spy Tools

  1. Docker Data Kit -- Connect processes into powerful data pipelines with a simple git-like filesystem interface.
  2. RedQueen: An online algorithm for smart broadcasting in social networks (Adrian Colyer) -- This paper starts out with a simple question “when’s the best time to tweet if you want to get noticed?,” detours through some math involving “solving a novel optimal control problem for a system of jump stochastic differential equations (SDEs),” and pops out again on the other side with a simple online algorithm called RedQueen.
  3. Open Source Guides -- GitHub's guide to making and contributing to open source. GitHub's is nicely packaged into visual and consumable chunks, but I still prefer (newly updated) Producing Open Source Software. The more people know how to do open source, the better.
  4. Cellphone Spy Tools Flood Local Police Departments -- caught my eye because I'm pondering visiting the U.S. this year, and I'm not a fan of surrendering devices for search. My current line of thought is: if CBP/popo are going to take a device from me and plug it into their software, hardware, and network ... it just has to look like a phone. Next challenge: making a large capacitor look like an unlocked iPhone.

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