Four Years Later, Xbox Exec Admits How Microsoft Screwed Up Disc Resale Plan

Slashdot - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:50pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: We're now approaching the four-year anniversary of Microsoft's rollout (and subsequent reversal) of a controversial plan to let game publishers limit resale of used, disc-based games. Looking back on that time recently, Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Windows and Devices Yusuf Mehdi acknowledged how that rollout fell flat and discussed how hard it was for the firm to change course even in light of fan complaints at the time. In a blog post on LinkedIn posted last weekend, Mehdi writes: "With our initial announcement of Xbox One and our desire to deliver breakthroughs in gaming and entertainment, the team made a few key decisions regarding connectivity requirements and how games would be purchased that didn't land well with fans. While the intent was good -- we imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing and new ways to try and buy games, we didn't deliver what our fans wanted. We heard their feedback, and while it required great technical work, we changed Xbox One to work the same way as Xbox 360 for how our customers could play, share, lend, and resell games. This experience was such a powerful reminder that we must always do the right thing for our customers, and since we've made that commitment to our Xbox fans, we've never looked back." It's an interesting reflection in light of an interview Mehdi gave to Ars Technica at E3 2013, when the executive defended Microsoft's announced plans for Xbox One game licensing. Mehdi, then serving as Xbox chief marketing and strategy officer, stressed at the time that "this is a big change, consumers don't always love change, and there's a lot of education we have to provide to make sure that people understand... We're trying to do something pretty big in terms of moving the industry forward for console gaming into the digital world. We believe the digital world is the future, and we believe digital is better."

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Categories: Science

Zika hot spots in the US predicted

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
Researchers predicted the places in the continental US where Zika is most likely to be transmitted are along the Mississippi delta and southern states extending northward along the Atlantic coast and in southern California.
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p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
Scientists have shown that p300, a protein that increases gene expression by attaching acetyl molecules to DNA, may stop myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) from developing into acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
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For the birds: New prediction method sheds brighter light on flight

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
Researchers have found a new way to precisely measure the vortices -- circular patterns of rotating air -- created by birds' wings during flight. The results shed greater light on how these creatures produce enough lift to fly.
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Addressing the threat of Zika virus to US blood supply

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
Certain screening methods that detect the genetic material of Zika virus can be used to ensure that donated blood supplies remain free of the virus, investigators have shown.
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Psychologists enlist machine learning to help diagnose depression

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
Cognitive neuroscientists are using the Stampede supercomputer to provide accurate predictions of risk for those with depression and anxiety. They have been able to classify individuals with major depressive disorder with roughly 75 percent accuracy using a machine learning approach. Stampede 2 -- which will come online later in 2017 -- will provide the increased computer processing required to incorporate more data and achieve even greater accuracy.
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Artificial materials created atom-by-atom

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
Researchers have manufactured artificial materials with engineered electronic properties. By moving individual atoms under their microscope, the scientists were able to create atomic lattices with a predetermined electrical response. The possibility to precisely arrange the atoms on a sample bring 'designer quantum materials' one step closer to reality. By arranging atoms in a lattice, it becomes possible to engineer the electronic properties of the material through the atomic structure.
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Satellites reveal bird habitat loss in California

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
Reduced seasonal flooding of wetlands and farm fields in California's Sacramento Valley threatens a key stopover site for migratory shorebirds, a new study shows. Landsat satellite images reveal that flooded habitat is most limited during peak spring migration when the birds urgently need resting and feeding sites. Near the peak of migration, an area of seasonally flooded land twice the size of Washington, D.C. has been lost since 1983.
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New finding could lead to earlier liver cancer diagnosis

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
Researchers have now developed a way to determine, by sequencing DNA of liver cells, whether cells have been exposed to aflatoxin. This profile of mutations could be used to predict whether someone has a high risk of developing liver cancer, potentially many years before tumors actually appear.
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Zika virus protein mapped to speed search for cure

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
A team of scientists has mapped a key protein that causes the Zika virus to reproduce and spread. Results of this study advance efforts to find drugs in fight against the disease, say scientists.
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Astronomers probe swirling particles in halo of starburst galaxy

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:49pm
Astronomers have used a radio telescope in outback Western Australia to see the halo of a nearby starburst galaxy in unprecedented detail.
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Want Congress to Protect Your Privacy? A Clever App Makes the Call for You

Wired News - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:39pm
Congressional phone lines are often busy. Voicemail is often full. Stance will keep calling until your message gets through. The post Want Congress to Protect Your Privacy? A Clever App Makes the Call for You appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Elon Musk Launches Neuralink To Connect Brains With Computers

Slashdot - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 8:05pm
At Recode's conference last year, Elon Musk said he would love to see someone do something about linking human brains with computers. With no other human being volunteering, Mr. Musk -- who founded PayPal and OpenAI, thought of Hyperloop, is working on a boring company, and runs SpaceX, TeslaX, SolarCity -- is now working on it. From a report on WSJ: Internal sources tell the WSJ that the company, called Neuralink, is developing "neural lace" technology that would allow people to communicate directly with machines without going through a physical interface. Neural lace involves implanting electrodes in the brain so people could upload or download their thoughts to or from a computer, according to the WSJ report. The product could allow humans to achieve higher levels of cognitive function. From WSJ's report (paywalled): The founder and chief executive of Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies Corp.has launched another company called Neuralink Corp., according to people familiar with the matter. Neuralink is pursuing what Mr. Musk calls "neural lace" technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts. Mr. Musk didn't respond to a request for comment. Max Hodak, who said he is a "member of the founding team," confirmed the company's existence and Mr. Musk's involvement.

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Categories: Science

No One Knows What To Do With the International Space Station

Slashdot - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 7:40pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: In 2024 the clock will run out on the International Space Station. Maybe. That's the arbitrary deadline that Congress imposed back in 2014, at which point they'll have to decide whether or not to keep funding the ISS. And yeah, that's a whole seven years away. But then again...it's only seven years away. The ISS takes up half of NASA's human exploration budget -- half of the pile of money allotted for things like sending humans to Mars or to an asteroid. And if they want to push further into space exploration, NASA can't keep sinking three to four billion dollars a year into the ISS. Not that it's really their decision. Congress -- specifically the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology -- decides how much money NASA will get. And because politicians aren't experts in space travel, they keep holding hearings to discuss what they could possibly do with the ISS in seven years' time. Let private industry take it over? Let it crash and burn into the South Pacific? Let the program keep running? The latest hearing took place last week. These are hard questions, in part because people have very different opinions on what's valuable about NASA, and therefore about whether the ISS is still useful. Maybe you think that NASA should really be about exploration, about pushing the boundaries of what we know and where we can travel. In that case, the ISS might not be your first priority. That's a huge chunk of the budget that goes toward bringing things back and forth to low Earth orbit instead of venturing to other planets.

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Categories: Science

US Top Court Considers Changing Where Patent Cases May Be Filed

Slashdot - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 7:20pm
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday grappled over whether to upend a quarter-century of practice and limit where patent-infringement lawsuits can be filed. From a report on Reuters: The U.S. Supreme Court struggled over whether to upend nearly 30 years of law governing patent lawsuits that critics say allows often-baseless litigants to sue in friendly courts, giving them the upper hand over high-technology companies such as Apple and Alphabet Google. The justices heard an hour of arguments in an appeal by beverage flavoring company TC Heartland LLC to have a patent infringement suit brought against it by food and beverage company Kraft Heinz moved from federal court in Delaware, where it was filed, to Heartland's home base in Indiana. TC Heartland is challenging a lower court ruling denying a transfer to Indiana. Even though the case did not involve a lawsuit filed in Texas, the arguments involved the peculiar fact that the bulk of patent litigation in the United States is occurring in a single, rural region of East Texas, far from the centers of technology and innovation in the United States. Critics have said the federal court there has rulings and procedures favoring entities that generate revenue by suing over patents instead of making products, sometimes called "patent trolls." The outcome of the TC Heartland case could be profoundly felt in the East Texas courts. The justices could curtail where patent lawsuits may be launched, limiting them to where a defendant company is incorporated and potentially making it harder to get to trial or score lucrative jury verdicts.

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Categories: Science

A Russian Volcano Just Erupted for the First Time in Centuries

Wired News - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 6:54pm
Kambalny, the southernmost volcano in Kamchatka, erupted unexpectedly over the weekend, sending ash up over the Pacific Ocean. The post A Russian Volcano Just Erupted for the First Time in Centuries appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Apple is Upgrading Millions of iOS Devices To a New Modern File System Today

Slashdot - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 6:40pm
Apple today began rolling out iOS 10.3, the latest point update to its mobile operating system. iOS 10.3 brings with it several new features, chief among which is a new file system -- called the Apple File System (APFS). From a report: It's a file system that was originally announced at WWDC last year, and it's designed with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV in mind. Apple has been using its 31-year-old Hierarchical File System (HFS) for iOS devices so far. It was originally designed for Macs with floppy or hard disks, and not for modern mobile devices with solid state storage. Even its successor, HFS+, still doesn't address the needs of these mobile devices enough. Apple's new APFS is designed to scale across these new types of devices and take advantage of flash or SSD storage. It's also engineered with encryption as a primary feature, and even supports features like snapshots so restoring files on a Mac or even an iOS device might get a lot easier in the future.

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Categories: Science

Rebuilding middle class is the key to preserving democracy

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 6:37pm
Steps must be taken to preserve middle-class America or the United States will cease to be a democracy, says a law professor in his new book.
Categories: Science

From the room next door to the next planet over

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 6:37pm
The new Albert Chadwick Research Room inside the Roberts Proton Therapy Center is no ordinary laboratory space. In fact, there’s nothing else quite like it anywhere else in the United States, and whether it’s treating patients with cancer or helping NASA with its plans to send astronauts to Mars, the discoveries that could propel scientists forward will happen right here.
Categories: Science

Microrna treatment restores nerve insulation, limb function in mice with MS

Science Daily - Mon, 27/03/2017 - 6:36pm
Scientists partially re-insulated ravaged nerves in mouse models of multiple sclerosis (MS) and restored limb mobility by treating the animals with a small non-coding RNA called a microRNA. In a new article, researchers report that treatment with a microRNA called miR-219 restarted production of a substance called myelin that is critical to normal function of the central nervous system.
Categories: Science