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Netflix Won't Join Apple's Video Streaming Service

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 23:50
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings confirmed that his company won't be playing a role in Apple's upcoming video streaming service. From a report: "We want to have people watch our content on our service," he said Monday. "We've chosen not to integrate into their service." Apple is expected to reveal its offering at an event next Monday. Apple is trying to supplement its original shows by finalizing deals with networks like HBO, Showtime and Starz to license a library of already released content. Hastings pointed out that Netflix has already been competing with Amazon, so it's used to rivals with deep pockets. "You do your best job when you have great competitors," he said, but he acknowledged that sourcing original content is getting more expensive.

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Why Google Stadia Will Be a Major Problem For Many American Players

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 23:10
Earlier today, Google launched its long-awaited "Stadia" cloud gaming service at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Unlike services from Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo, Stadia is powered by Google's worldwide data centers, allowing users to play games across a variety of platforms -- browsers, computers, TVs, and mobile devices -- all via the internet at a 4K resolution. One major problem with Stadia, which Google didn't mention in its presentation, is that it will require a ton of bandwidth, testing the limits of data caps that most U.S. internet service providers have. "Most US ISPs cap their customers' bandwidth usage, usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 GB per month. And streaming 4K content eats up about 7GB an hour," Steve Bowling from YouTube gaming channel GameXplain tweeted. "And that's based on Netflix's publicly available guidelines for 4K video content, which is shot at 24 fps, a far cry from 60fps, meaning content at 4k60 could be more costly." He added: "Your average consumer likely isn't rocking a 100Mbps+ connection, and in some parts of America such options aren't even available, limiting Stadia's potential reach. And if you are, that cap can come at you fast, especially considering most folks are going to use their internet for more than just streaming games. Most ISPs offer additional data at a premium, but how many are going to want to pay that premium to stream 4K games?" What's unknown is whether or not Google will work with ISPs to help alleviate this concern. PCWord also notes that there's no option to download and install a game if you want, which is an option available on Steam's streaming service. "You're always streaming it, and presumably copies sold through the Google Play store won't come with more traditional versions from other storefronts," reports PCWorld. "You're either all-in on Stadia and streaming or you're not." UPDATE: A Google spokesperson told Kotaku they were able to deliver 1080p, 60 FPS gameplay for users with 25 Mbps connections. They also said that they expect Stadia to deliver 4K, 60 FPS for people with "approximately the same bandwidth requirements." How exactly they will achieve this is still unclear.

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Facebook To Overhaul Ad Targeting To Prevent Discrimination

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 22:30
Facebook will overhaul its ad-targeting systems to prevent discrimination in housing, credit and employment ads as part of a legal settlement. From a report: For the social network, that's one major legal problem down, several to go, including government investigations in the U.S. and Europe over its data and privacy practices. The changes to Facebook's advertising methods -- which generate most of the company's enormous profits -- are unprecedented. The social network says it will no longer allow housing, employment or credit ads that target people by age, gender or zip code. Facebook will also limit other targeting options so these ads don't exclude people on the basis of race, ethnicity and other legally protected categories in the U.S., including national origin and sexual orientation. The social media company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs' legal fees and other costs. Facebook and the plaintiffs -- a group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance and others -- called the settlement "historic." It took 18 months to hammer out. The company still faces an administrative complaint filed by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in August over the housing ads issue. A critic writes, "Funny how Facebook spent years quietly defending these ad targeting systems, got sued, settled, and now Sandberg calls them 'discriminatory' and cheers the 'historic' settlement."

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Kickstarter's Staff Is Unionizing

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 21:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The staff of Kickstarter announced plans to unionize today. If recognized, Kickstarter would be the first major tech company with union representation in the United States. Members of the union, which goes by Kickstarter United, say they want to improve inclusivity and transparency at the company. To unionize, they're working with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153. In a statement, the union said: "Kickstarter United is proud to start the process of unionizing to safeguard and enrich Kickstarter's charter commitments to creativity, equity, and a positive impact on society. We trust in the democratic process and are confident that the leadership of Kickstarter stands with us in that effort. Kickstarter has always been a trailblazer, and this is a pivotal moment for tech. We want to set the standard for the entire industry. Now is the time. Come together. Unionize." In a world of Facebook and Twitter, Kickstarter feels almost quaint in its mission -- "to help bring creative projects to life" -- and in its charter as a public benefit corporation, which means that the company is "obligated to consider the impact of their decisions on society, not only shareholders." Its staff unionizing means the company will also have to consider more seriously its responsibilities to its employees. It also means that its fellows in Silicon Valley and beyond could be next. Kickstarter is fundamentally a tech company, and its staff unionizing with the OPEIU shows a way forward for other employees in the space. Kickstarter's staff is unionizing because they want to "promote our collective values: inclusion and solidarity, transparency and accountability; a seat at the table," the organizers write, noting that in the decade that Kickstarter has been around, it's democratized crowdfunding and brought more than 150,000 projects to life. "Kickstarter's efforts are incomplete, and these values have failed to manifest in our workplace. We can do better together -- for ourselves and our industry."

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Three or More Eggs a Week Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease and Early Death, Study Says

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 21:10
It's been debated for years: Are eggs good or bad for you? People who eat an added three or four eggs a week or 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day, have a higher risk of both heart disease and early death compared with those who eat fewer eggs, new research finds. From a report: "Eggs, specially the yolk, are a major source of dietary cholesterol," wrote Victor Zhong, lead study author and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. In a study published this month in the medical journal JAMA, he and his colleagues noted that a single large egg contains about 186 milligrams of cholesterol. The researchers examined data from six US study groups including more than 29,000 people followed for 17 and a half years on average. Over the follow-up period, a total of 5,400 cardiovascular events occurred, including 1,302 fatal and nonfatal strokes, 1,897 incidents of fatal and nonfatal heart failure and 113 other heart disease deaths. An additional 6,132 participants died of other causes. Consuming an additional 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day was associated with a 3.2% higher risk of heart disease and a 4.4% higher risk of early death, Zhong's analysis of the data showed. And each additional half an egg consumed per day was associated with a 1.1% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and 1.9% higher risk of early death due to any cause, the researchers found.

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As Costs Skyrocket, More US Cities Stop Recycling

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 20:30
Recycling, for decades an almost reflexive effort by American households and businesses to reduce waste and help the environment, is collapsing in many parts of the country [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; syndicated source]. From a report: Philadelphia is now burning about half of its 1.5 million residents' recycling material in an incinerator that converts waste to energy. In Memphis, the international airport still has recycling bins around the terminals, but every collected can, bottle and newspaper is sent to a landfill. And last month, officials in the central Florida city of Deltona faced the reality that, despite their best efforts to recycle, their curbside program was not working and suspended it. Those are just three of the hundreds of towns and cities across the country that have canceled recycling programs, limited the types of material they accepted or agreed to huge price increases. "We are in a crisis moment in the recycling movement right now," said Fiona Ma, the treasurer of California, where recycling costs have increased in some cities. Prompting this nationwide reckoning is China, which until January 2018 had been a big buyer of recyclable material collected in the United States. That stopped when Chinese officials determined that too much trash was mixed in with recyclable materials like cardboard and certain plastics. After that, Thailand and India started to accept more imported scrap, but even they are imposing new restrictions. The turmoil in the global scrap markets began affecting American communities last year, and the problems have only deepened.

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Twitter Cracks Down on API Abuse, Will Charge B2B Developers

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 19:50
To prevent its own Cambridge Analytica moment and make sure it's getting paid for its data, Twitter said today it will audit developers that use its APIs. From a report: Starting June 19th, Twitter will require developers of any app that calls recent tweets from or mentions a user more than 100,000 times per day to submit their app for review. If a developer proves they have a legitimate consumer use case, like running a third-party Twitter client or doing research, they'll be granted free access to the API at the same rate they have today. If they primarily use the data to serve business customers as a B2B tool, like for customer service or social media monitoring, they'll have to pay to enter a commercial licensing agreement with Twitter with a custom price based on usage. Twitter refused to even specify the range those prices fall into, which won't win it any extra trust. Developers found to be breaking Twitter's policies will be booted from the platform, while those that don't submit for review will be capped at 100,000 requests per day for the user timeline and mentions APIs. Twitter says it suspended 162,000 apps in the second half of 2018, showing it's willing to play hardball with developers that endanger its ecosystem.

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The Most Powerful iMac Pro Now Costs $15,927

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 19:11
Apple recently updated the upgrade options for the iMac Pro, and getting the very best will cost you. A baseline model will cost you just under $5,000, and maxing out the hardware to absurd heights runs a whopping $15,927. An anonymous reader writes: The most expensive possible upgrade is a $5,200 charge for upgrading the RAM from 32GB to a startling 256GB. Other addons include an additional $700 for a 16GB Radeon video card and $2,400 for a 2.3 Ghz Intel processor with 18 cores. Almost $16,000 is a lot of money for a computer, especially one so overpowered that there are very few reasonable applications of its hardware. Most people will never need more than 16GB of RAM to play video games, and 32-64GB will take care of most video editing and 3D modeling tasks. With 256GB of RAM, you could run advanced AI processes or lease computing power to other people.

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Google Debuts Video Games Streaming Service Stadia

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 18:32
Google today launched its Stadia cloud gaming service at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. From a report: Stadia is not a dedicated console or set-top box. The platform will be accessible on a variety of platforms: browsers, computers, TVs, and mobile devices. In an onstage demonstration of Stadia, Google showed someone playing a game on a Chromebook, then playing it on a phone, then immediately playing it on PC -- a low-end PC, no less --, picking up where the game left off in real time. Stadia will be powered by Google's worldwide data centers, which live in more than 200 countries and territories, streamed over hundreds of millions of miles of fiber optic cable, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said. Phil Harrison, previously at PlayStation and Xbox, now at Google, said the company will give developers access to its data centers to bring games to Stadia. Harrison said that players will be able to access and play Stadia games, like Assassin's Creed Odyssey, within seconds. Harrison showed a YouTube video of Odyssey featuring a "Play" button that would offer near-instant access to the game. Pichai announced the new platform at the Game Developers Conference, saying that Google want to build a gaming platform for everyone, and break down barriers to access for high-end games. Users will be able to move from YouTube directly into gameplay without any downloads. Google says this can be done in as little as 5 seconds. At launch, Stadia will stream games at 4k resolution, but Google claimed in the future it will be able to stream at a video quality of 8k. The company says it will launch the service later this year in the U.S. and UK.

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Trello Limits Teams on Free Tier To 10 Boards, Rolls Out Enterprise Automations and Admin Controls

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 17:50
In this week's episode of which popular service will reduce its offerings to the non-paying users, Trello said it will have a go. From a report: Trello, a Kanban-inspired project management app organized around the idea of boards containing cards with attachments, to-do items, and comments, is getting a few much-needed improvements. Today, the Trello team announced that Trello Enterprise, a corporate-class subscription tier launched in 2015, will gain 13 new features this week, including improved admin controls, a new visibility setting, and compliance certifications. It's the largest product update in Trello Enterprise's history, the Atlassian subsidiary says, but it's a tad bittersweet -- a new restriction will be imposed on teams that use the free version of Trello. Moving forward, they'll be limited to a maximum of 10 open boards at any given time. (Enterprise and Trello Business Class users get unlimited boards, and existing free teams will be able to add up to 10 additional boards until May 1, 2019.) Last week, it was Dropbox that introduced some limits to its non-paying users.

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Norsk Hydro, One of the World's Largest Aluminum Producers, Switches To Manual Operations After Ransomware Infection

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 17:15
Norsk Hydro, one of the world's largest aluminum producers, said today it has "became victim of an extensive cyber-attack" that has crippled some of its infrastructure and forced it to switch to manual operations in some smelting locations. From a report: The cyber-attack was later identified as an infection with the LockerGoga ransomware strain, the company said during a press conference. News of the cyber-attack broke earlier this morning in a message the company sent to investors and stock exchanges. "Hydro became victim of an extensive cyber-attack in the early hours of Tuesday (CET), impacting operations in several of the company's business areas," the company said. "IT-systems in most business areas are impacted and Hydro is switching to manual operations as far as possible."

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EU Citizens Being Tracked on Sensitive Government Sites

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 16:33
EU governments are allowing more than 100 advertising companies, including Google and Facebook, to surreptitiously track citizens across sensitive public sector websites, in apparent violation of their own EU data protection rules, a study has found. From a report: Danish browser-analysis company Cookiebot found ad trackers -- which log users' locations, devices and browsing behaviours for advertisers -- on the official government websites of 25 EU member states [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. The French government had the highest number of ad trackers on its site, with 52 different companies tracking users' behaviour. Google, YouTube and DoubleClick, Google's advertising platform, accounted for three of the top five tracking domains on 22 of the main government websites. Researchers also studied the websites for EU public health services, finding that people seeking health advice on sensitive topics such as abortion, HIV and mental illness were met with commercial ad trackers on more than half of the sites analysed.

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Firefox 66 Arrives With Autoplaying Blocked by Default, Smoother Scrolling, and Better Search

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 15:54
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 66 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The release includes autoplaying content (audio and video) blocked by default, smoother scrolling, better search, revamped security warnings, WebAuthn support for Windows Hello, and improved extensions. The company says its main goal with this release is to reduce irritating experiences such as auto-playing videos, pop-ups, and page jumps. Firefox 66 for desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. The Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play.

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Apple Finally Updates the iMac With Significantly More Powerful CPU and GPU Options

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 15:18
Today, Apple will finally begin taking orders for newly refreshed 21- and 27-inch iMacs. The new versions don't change the basic design or add major new features, but they offer substantially faster configuration options for the CPU and GPU. From a report: The 21.5-inch iMac now has a 6-core, eighth-generation Intel CPU option -- up from a maximum of four cores before. The 27-inch now has six cores as the standard configuration, with an optional upgrade to a 3.6GHz, 9th-gen, 8-core Intel Core i9 CPU that Apple claims will double performance over the previous 27-inch iMac. The base 27-inch model has a 3GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 CPU, with intermediate configurations at 3.1GHz and 3.7GHz (both Core i5). The big news is arguably that both sizes now offer high-end, workstation-class Vega-graphics options for the first time. Apple added a similar upgrade option to the 15-inch MacBook Pro late last year. In this case, the 21.6-inch iMac has an option for the 20-compute-unit version of Vega with 4GB of HBM2 video memory. That's the same as the top-end 15-inch MacBook Pro option. The 27-inch iMac can now be configured with the Radeon Pro Vega 48 with 8GB of HBM2. For reference, the much pricier iMac Pro has Vega 56 and Vega 64 options. Apple claims the Vega 48 will net a 50-percent performance improvement over the Radeon Pro 580, the previous top configuration. Speaking of the previous top configuration, the non-Vega GPU options are the same as what was available yesterday. The only difference is that they now have an "X" affixed to the numbers in their names, per AMD branding conventions -- i.e., Radeon Pro 580X instead of 580. RAM options are the same in terms of volume (up to 32GB for the 21.5-inch and 64GB for the 27-inch), but the DDR4 RAM is slightly faster now, at 2666MHz.

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Hacked Tornado Sirens Taken Offline In Two Texas Cities Ahead of Major Storm

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A hacker set off the tornado emergency sirens in the middle of the night last week across two North Texas towns. Following the unauthorized intrusion, city authorities had to shut down their emergency warning system a day before major storms and potential tornados were set to hit the area. The false alarm caused quite the panic in the two towns, as locals were already on the edge of their seats regarding incoming storms. The city had run tests of the tornado alarm sirens a week before, but the tests were set during the middle of the day and had long concluded. The two hacked systems were taken offline the next morning, and remained offline ever since. Bad weather, including storms and potential tornadoes, was announced for all last week in the North Texas area. A severe thunderstorm hit the two cities the following night, on March 13. Thunderstorms are known to produce brief tornadoes, but luck had it that no tornado formed and hit the towns that day. Tornadoes are frequent in Texas, as the state is located in Tornado Alley, and tornado season, a period of the year between March and May when most tornadoes happen, had officially begun. Nevertheless, a tornado didn't form on March 13, and, luckily, the sirens weren't needed.

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Vladimir Putin Signs Sweeping Internet-Censorship Bills

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 11:00
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed two censorship bills into law Monday. One bans "fake news" while the other makes it illegal to insult public officials. Ars Technica reports on the details: Under one bill, individuals can face fines and jail time if they publish material online that shows a "clear disrespect for society, the state, the official state symbols of the Russian Federation, the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and bodies exercising state power." Insults against Putin himself can be punished under the law, The Moscow Times reports. Punishments can be as high as 300,000 rubles ($4,700) and 15 days in jail. A second bill subjects sites publishing "unreliable socially significant information" to fines as high as 1.5 million rubles ($23,000). [T]he Russian government has "essentially unconstrained authority to determine that any speech is unacceptable. One consequence may be to make it nearly impossible for individuals or groups to call for public protest activity against any action taken by the state," [analyst Matthew Rojansky told the Post]

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Pentagon Wants To Test a Space-Based Weapon In 2023

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 08:00
pgmrdlm writes: Defense officials want to test a neutral particle-beam in orbit in fiscal 2023 as part of a ramped-up effort to explore various types of space-based weaponry. They've asked for $304 million in the 2020 budget to develop such beams, more powerful lasers, and other new tech for next-generation missile defense. Such weapons are needed, they say, to counter new missiles from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. But just figuring out what might work is a difficult technical challenge. So the Pentagon is undertaking two studies. The first is a $15 million exploration of whether satellites outfitted with lasers might be able to disable enemy missiles coming off the launch pad. Defense officials have said previously that these lasers would need to be in the megawatt class. They expect to finish the study within six months. They're also pouring money into a study of space-based neutral particle beams, a different form of directed energy that disrupts missiles with streams of subatomic particles traveling close to light speed -- as opposed to lasers, whose photons travel at light speed.

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Scientists Grow 'Mini-Brain On the Move' That Can Contract Muscle

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 04:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientists have grown a miniature brain in a dish with a spinal cord and muscles attached, an advance that promises to accelerate the study of conditions such as motor neurone disease. The lentil-sized grey blob of human brain cells were seen to spontaneously send out tendril-like connections to link up with the spinal cord and muscle tissue, which was taken from a mouse. The muscles were then seen to visibly contract under the control of the so-called brain organoid. The research is is the latest in a series of increasingly sophisticated approximations of the human brain grown in the laboratory -- this time with something approaching a central nervous system attached. The scientists used a new method to grow the miniature brain from human stem cells, which allowed the organoid to reach a more sophisticated stage of development than previous experiments. The latest blob shows similarities, in terms of the variety of neurons and their organisation, to the human foetal brain at 12-16 weeks of pregnancy. However, the scientists said the structure was still too small and primitive to have anything approaching thoughts, feelings or consciousness. While a fully developed human brain has 80-90 billion neurons, the organoid has a couple of million, placing it somewhere between a cockroach and a zebrafish in terms of volume of grey matter. After growing the organoid, the scientists "used a tiny vibrating blade to cut it into half millimeter-thick slices which were placed on a membrane, floating on a nutrient-rich liquid," reports The Guardian. "This meant the entire slice had access to energy and oxygen and it continued developing and forming new connections when it was kept in culture for a year. Alongside the organoid, the scientists added in a 1mm-long spinal cord, taken from a mouse embryo, and the surrounding back muscle. The brain cells automatically began to send out neuronal connections, linked up with the spinal cord and began sending electrical impulses, which caused the muscles to twitch." The study has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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NVIDIA's Ray Tracing Tech Will Soon Run On Older GTX Cards

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 03:20
NVIDIA's older GeForce GTX 10-series cards will be getting the company's new ray-tracing tech in April. The technology, which is currently only available on its new RTX cards, "will work on GPUs from the 1060 and up, albeit with some serious caveats," reports Engadget. "Some games like Battlefield V will run just fine and deliver better visuals, but other games, like the freshly released Metro Exodus, will run at just 18 fps at 1440p -- obviously an unplayable frame-rate." From the report: What games you'll be able to play with ray-tracing tech (also known as DXR) on NVIDIA GTX cards depends entirely on how it's implemented. In Battlefield V, for instance, the tech is only used for things like reflections. On top of that, you can dial down the strength of the effect so that it consumes less computing horsepower. Metro Exodus, on the other hand, uses ray tracing to create highly realistic "global illumination" effects, simulating lighting from the real world. It's the first game that really showed the potential of RTX cards and actually generated some excitement about the tech. However, because it's so computationally intensive, GTX cards (which don't have the RTX tensor cores) will be effectively be too slow to run it. NVIDIA explained that when it was first developing the next gen RTX tech, it found chips using Pascal tech would be "monster" sized and consume up to 650 watts. That's because the older cards lack both the integer cores and tensor cores found on the RTX cards. They get particularly stuck on ray-tracing, running about four times slower than the RTX cards on Metro Exodus. Since Metro Exodus is so heavily ray-traced, the RTX cards run it three times quicker than older GTX 10-series cards. However, that falls to two times for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and 1.6 times for Battlefield V, because both of those games use ray tracing less. The latest GTX 1660 and 1660 Ti GPUs, which don't have RT but do have integer cores, will run ray-traced games moderately better than last-gen 10-series GPUs. NVIDIA also announced that Unity and Unreal Engine now support ray-tracing, allowing developers to implement the tech into their games. Developers can use NVIDIA's new set of tools called GameWorks RTX to achieve this. "It includes the RTX Denoiser SDK that enables real-time ray-tracing through techniques that reduce the required ray count and number of samples per pixel," adds Engadget. "It will support ray-traced effects like area light shadows, glossy reflections, ambient occlusion and diffuse global illumination (the latter is used in Metro Exodus). Suffice to say, all of those things will make game look a lot prettier."

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Google Seeking To Promote Rivals To Stave Off EU Antitrust Action

Slashdot - Wto, 2019-03-19 02:40
Google is trying to boost price comparison rivals such as Kelkoo in an effort to appease European Union antitrust regulators and ward off fresh fines following a $2.7 billion penalty nearly two years ago. "The European Commission said Alphabet unit Google had used its search engine market power to unfairly promote its own comparison shopping service," reports Reuters. From the report: The company subsequently offered to allow price-comparison rivals to bid for advertising space at the top of a search page, giving them the chance to compete on equal terms. But competitors said the measure failed to create a level playing field. Earlier this month, Google introduced a new link on its search results which aims to drive more traffic to price comparison rivals. British competitor Kelkoo said on its blog that it was one of several companies selected to try out the new link which will initially be available in Germany, France and the Netherlands. EU antitrust enforcers could levy fines up to 5 percent of Google's average daily worldwide turnover if it fails to comply with the 2017 order.

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