Tech News Feed

I Bought the First Android Phone Ever. It Wasn't Pretty, but I Loved It - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 8 min ago
The T-Mobile G1, the anti-iPhone that started Android's global sweep, was also one of the nerdiest phones available. It was awesome.

Meredith Whittaker Reaffirms That Signal Would Leave UK If Forced By Privacy Bill

SlashDot - 1 hour 8 min ago
Meredith Whittaker, the president of the Signal Foundation, which maintains the nonprofit Signal messaging app, reaffirmed that Signal would leave the U.K. if the country's recently passed Online Safety Bill forced Signal to build "backdoors" into its end-to-end encryption. From a report: "We would leave the U.K. or any jurisdiction if it came down to the choice between backdooring our encryption and betraying the people who count on us for privacy, or leaving," Whittaker said. "And that's never not true." The Online Safety Bill, which was passed into law in September, includes a clause -- clause 122 -- that, depending on how it's interpreted, could allow the U.K.'s communications regulator, Ofcom, to break the encryption of apps and services under the guise of making sure illegal material such as child sexual exploitation and abuse content is removed. Ofcom could fine companies not in compliance up to $22.28 million, or 10% of their global annual revenue, under the bill -- whichever is greater. Whittaker didn't mince words in airing her fears about the Online Safety Bill's implications. "We're not about political stunts, so we're not going to just pick up our toys and go home to, like, show the bad U.K. they're being mean," she said. "We're really worried about people in the U.K. who would live under a surveillance regime like the one that seems to be teased by the Home Office and others in the U.K."

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Cyberpunk 2077 Finds Redemption Years After Calamitous Debut

SlashDot - 4 hours 8 min ago
In 2019, CD Projekt Red unexpectedly announced Cyberpunk 2077's 2020 release, surprising some employees. Released in December 2020, it faced bugs and issues, symbolizing industry crunch. However, post-release updates, particularly in 2022, significantly improved the game, leading some to praise its transformation. A Kotaku critic wrote that the game "might finally be complete." But CD Projekt Red wasn't finished just yet. Now, in September 2023, the Cyberpunk 2077 saga is coming to an end with two final, major releases: 1. The 2.0 patch, which came out Sept. 21 and overhauls many of the game's core mechanics. 2. Phantom Liberty, an expansion starring Idris Elba that's out on Sept. 26. Bloomberg adds: Both appear to be excellent. The expansion adds a new area to the game's dystopian Night City and tells a heist story in which you team up with the president and government spooks. It has received glowing reviews from critics, with IGN declaring that, "Phantom Liberty is Cyberpunk 2077 at its best." New content is great, but it's the 2.0 patch that makes the biggest impact on Cyberpunk 2077, with changes that are made immediately apparent when you open up the game. The menus are cleaner, the loot system is less convoluted and character building feels completely different thanks to a revamped skill system that allows for more distinct playstyles. You can now specialize, transforming your character into a stealthy ninja, a speedy assaulter or a cybernetic hacker. Cyberpunk 2077's biggest problem, aside from the bugs, was its uncertainty over whether it wanted to be Deus Ex or Grand Theft Auto. It straddled the line between deep role-playing game and systemic open-world sandbox, ultimately feeling like an inferior version of both. Although the new patch doesn't pick a side in this divide, it does bolster them. The new level system allows for the type of build experimentation that RPG fans were hoping to see in Cyberpunk 2077.

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Advances in Eye Scans and Protein Structure Win 2023 Lasker Awards

SlashDot - 7 hours 8 min ago
The prestigious Lasker Awards were given this week to scientists making advances in the diagnosis of eye disease, the prediction of cellular protein structure and the intricacies of the immune system. The awards, closely watched by researchers in biomedical fields, often foreshadow Nobel Prizes. The New York Times adds: The Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award was given to a team of three scientists, led by James G. Fujimoto, a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who helped invent optical coherence tomography. The technology can detect conditions like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy earlier than previous methods, preventing blindness. O.C.T. now is commonly used in ophthalmology offices, where the patient simply rests a chin and forehead against an instrument for a brief scan. The method, invented in 1991, offers a staggering amount of detail about the retina, a layer of tissue at the back of the eye critical to vision. "It's not much thicker than a strand of hair, but it has 10 internal layers," said Dr. David Huang, an ophthalmologist at the Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health & Science University who helped to invent the method. Before O.C.T., an ophthalmologist could dilate a patient's eyes with eye drops to enlarge the pupil, and then use a magnifying lens and special light to examine the retina. An O.C.T. scan "can measure the thickness of the retina, the fluid pockets in it and the abnormal blood vessel growth," detecting small lesions that have not yet caused symptoms, Dr. Huang added.

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China's AI 'War of a Hundred Models' Heads For a Shakeout

SlashDot - Fri, 2023-09-22 22:01
An anonymous reader shares a report: China's craze over generative artificial intelligence has triggered a flurry of product announcements from startups and tech giants on an almost daily basis, but investors are warning a shakeout is imminent as cost and profit pressures grow. The buzz in China, first ignited by the success of OpenAI's ChatGPT almost a year ago, has given rise to what a senior Tencent executive described this month as "war of a hundred models", as it and rivals from Baidu to Alibaba to Huawei promote their offerings. China now has at least 130 large language models, accounting for 40% of the global total and just behind the United States' 50% share, according to brokerage CLSA. Additionally, companies have also announced dozens of "industry-specific LLMs" that link to their core model. However, investors and analysts say that most were yet to find viable business models, were too similar to each other and were now grappling with surging costs. Tensions between Beijing and Washington have also weighed on the sector, as U.S. dollar funds invest less in early-stage projects and difficulties obtaining AI chips made by the likes of Nvidia start to bite. "Only those with the strongest capabilities will survive," said Esme Pau, head of China internet and digital asset research at Macquarie Group, who expects consolidation and a price war as players compete for users.

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European Commission Hits Intel With New Fine Over Antitrust Findings

SlashDot - Fri, 2023-09-22 19:30
The European Commission has re-imposed a fine of about $400 million on chipmaker Intel for abusing its dominant position in the x86 processor market. The move is the latest twist in an antitrust saga that has been now running for more than two decades. The Register: According to the Commission, the fine is in response to previously established anticompetitive practices by the silicon giant, aimed at excluding competitors from the market in breach of EU competition rules. The original fine handed to Intel in 2009 was for $1.2 billion, based on findings that the company had given incentives to PC makers to use its CPUs instead of those from rivals, or else delay the launch of specific products containing rival chips. These incentives consisted of wholly or partially hidden rebates for using Intel chips, or payments in order to delay launching products with rival chips, amounting to so-called "naked restrictions." It ultimately goes back to complaints from rival CPU maker AMD in 2000 and again in 2003 that Intel was engaging in anticompetitive conduct by offering rebates to vendors to favor Intel components. Intel fought the decision, but an appeal by the Silicon Valley outfit to have it overturned was initially denied in 2014. Then in 2022, the EU General Court partially annulled the 2009 ruling by the Commission, in particular the findings related to Intel's conditional rebates, and went on to nix the fine imposed on the company in its entirety.

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TCL's $200 5G Phone Is Now Available Unlocked - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 19:11
The 40 X 5G phone won't break the bank.

A 3D Printer Enthusiast's Plea: Plug and Play Printers Are What's Needed to Attract More People - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 18:08
Commentary: We need more than tinkerers and hobbyists to buy 3D printers, we need consumers. To do that, the current model has to evolve.

NASA's Webb Finds Carbon Source on Surface of Jupiter's Moon Europa

SlashDot - Fri, 2023-09-22 18:00
NASA, in a press release: Jupiter's moon Europa is one of a handful of worlds in our solar system that could potentially harbor conditions suitable for life. Previous research has shown that beneath its water-ice crust lies a salty ocean of liquid water with a rocky seafloor. However, planetary scientists had not confirmed if that ocean contained the chemicals needed for life, particularly carbon. Astronomers using data from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope have identified carbon dioxide in a specific region on the icy surface of Europa. Analysis indicates that this carbon likely originated in the subsurface ocean and was not delivered by meteorites or other external sources. Moreover, it was deposited on a geologically recent timescale. This discovery has important implications for the potential habitability of Europa's ocean. "On Earth, life likes chemical diversity -- the more diversity, the better. We're carbon-based life. Understanding the chemistry of Europa's ocean will help us determine whether it's hostile to life as we know it, or if it might be a good place for life," said Geronimo Villanueva of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, lead author of one of two independent papers describing the findings. "We now think that we have observational evidence that the carbon we see on Europa's surface came from the ocean. That's not a trivial thing. Carbon is a biologically essential element," added Samantha Trumbo of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, lead author of the second paper analyzing these data. NASA plans to launch its Europa Clipper spacecraft, which will perform dozens of close flybys of Europa to further investigate whether it could have conditions suitable for life, in October 2024.

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Don't Expect Steam Deck Upgrade for a 'Couple of Years,' Valve Says - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 17:52
A new portable gaming device is apparently not coming down the pipe anytime soon.

FDA Issues Warning Over Some Eye Drop Sales: Here's What to Know - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 17:43
The agency is cracking down on companies selling "potentially harmful" eye care products. Here's what brands to avoid and what to look for instead.

White House Could Force Cloud Companies To Disclose AI Customers

SlashDot - Fri, 2023-09-22 17:00
The White House is considering requiring cloud computing firms to report some information about their customers to the U.S. government, Semafor reported Friday, citing people familiar with an upcoming executive order on AI. From the report: The provision would direct the Commerce Department to write rules forcing cloud companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon to disclose when a customer purchases computing resources beyond a certain threshold. The order hasn't been finalized and specifics of it could still change. Similar "know-your-customer" policies already exist in the banking sector to prevent money laundering and other illegal activities, such as the law mandating firms to report cash transactions exceeding $10,000. In this case, the rules are intended to create a system that would allow the U.S. government to identify potential AI threats ahead of time, particularly those coming from entities in foreign countries. If a company in the Middle East began building a powerful large language model using Amazon Web Services, for example, the reporting requirement would theoretically give American authorities an early warning about it. The policy proposal represents a potential step toward treating computing power -- or the technical capacity AI systems need to perform tasks -- like a national resource. Mining Bitcoin, developing video games, and running AI models like ChatGPT all require large amounts of compute.

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Microsoft and Activision's $69B Deal: UK Regulator Shows Sign of Approval Coming - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 16:00
If the deal closes, it'll turn Xbox-maker Microsoft into one of the top three video game publishers.

Best iPhone in 2023: Which Apple Phone Should You Buy? - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 16:00
Apple's iPhone lineup ranges from $429 to $1,599. Here are the best iPhone models to match your needs and budget.

FCC Closing Loophole That Gave Robocallers Easy Access To US Phone Numbers

SlashDot - Fri, 2023-09-22 16:00
The Federal Communications Commission is taking steps to restrict Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers from easily accessing US telephone numbers. Over the past several years, robocallers have exploited VoIP providers to inundate US citizens with unwanted calls, many of which come from falsified numbers. Previously, the regulations allowed VoIP services relatively uncomplicated access to US phone numbers. ArsTechnica: But under rules adopted by the FCC yesterday, VoIP providers will face some extra hurdles. They will have to "make robocall-related certifications to help ensure compliance with the Commission's rules targeting illegal robocalls," and "disclose and keep current information about their ownership, including foreign ownership, to mitigate the risk of providing bad actors abroad with access to US numbering resources," the FCC said. The FCC order will take effect 30 days after it's published in the Federal Register. A public draft of the order was released ahead of the FCC meeting.

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Apple Made a Big iPhone 15 Mistake, but an iOS Fix Is Here - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 15:59
iOS 17.0.2 comes out on the iPhone 15 release day, and it's crucial to update before upgrading from an older iPhone.

What Microsoft's AI Push Means for Your Windows Laptop - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 15:32
Microsoft Copilot could make your laptop smarter and more intuitive.

Unity To Roll Back Some Key Aspects of Runtime Fee Policy

SlashDot - Fri, 2023-09-22 15:00
Unity has announced some key changes to its widely panned Runtime Fee policy, which spawned both derision and confusion from developers and the gaming community at large when it was unveiled earlier this month. From a report: It's easing up on some big aspects of the previously announced charges, removing the fee from the Unity Personal tier entirely, although it still remains in a revised form on the Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise tiers. In short, as originally announced, starting on Jan. 1, 2024, Unity would start charging developers a small fee every time someone downloads a game built on Unity's game engine after a certain threshold for minimum revenue and install count. The different tiers of Unity plans - Unity Personal/Unity Plus, Unity Pro, and Unity Enterprise - had different thresholds and, per the original announcement, smaller developers using Unity Personal/Unity Plus would have to pay Unity $0.20 per install once their game passes $200,000 in revenue over the last 12 months and 200,000 life-to-date installs. Unity announced today, however, that there will be no Runtime Fee on games built on Unity Personal, which will remain free. They will also be increasing financial theshold of Unity Personal from $100,000 to $200,000 and will remove the requirement to use the Made with Unity splash screen.

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Lego's Newest Super Mario Set Is This 'Menacing' Piranha Plant - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 14:36
From a green pipe to a polka-dot head, Lego aced the details of the voracious, Mario-chomping Piranha Plant.

The Biggest AI Trends in Cybersecurity - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-09-22 14:00
It's not just marketing spin anymore. There's an AI arms race shaping up between the security industry and cybercriminals.