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Microsoft

Xbox One S is the Best Xbox You Might Not Want To Buy (cnet.com) 114

The Xbox One S, successor to Microsoft's Xbox One gaming console, has begun shipping today. Media outlets, which had received the review unit a week ahead of the launch date, have put out the review. In short, everyone loves the Xbox One S' compact design -- 40% slipper form-factor than the Xbox One -- and the 4K support has been widely praised as well. But perhaps, it's CNET's review that captures the sentiment of most people: "Xbox One S is the best Xbox you might not want to buy." From their review: THE GOOD The Xbox One S is a slick looking game console that's 40 percent smaller than the original and ditches the infamously gigantic power brick. It can display 4K video from streaming services and Ultra HD Blu-rays, and supports HDR contrast on video and games. The updated controller works with other Bluetooth devices, too.
THE BAD 4K, Ultra HD Blu-ray and HDR settings only work with newer TVs, and may require some trial and error. The updated controller feels cheaper than its predecessor. Project Scorpio, the more powerful Xbox One successor, arrives in late 2017.
THE BOTTOM LINE The Xbox One S is the console Microsoft should have delivered three years ago, but there's little reason to upgrade if you already own the original box.
It's worth noting that the Xbox One S doesn't support game titles in 4K -- a capability that has been scheduled for the Project Scorpio, another new gaming console from Microsoft. It's set to launch next year.
Facebook

Instagram's New Stories Are a Near-Perfect Copy of Snapchat Stories (theverge.com) 20

There's no other way to put it. Facebook has been getting "too inspired" from everything Snapchat does and it continues to quickly replicate the features on to its own services. The latest example of this can be seen on Instagram, the photo-sharing app Facebook owns, which on Tuesday introduced Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories aims to let people share photos and videos that have a life span of no more than 24 hours with friends and people who follow them. It bears a striking resemblance to Snapchat Stories, a photo-sharing format where stories disappear after no more than 24 hours. The Verge adds: It's not the first time that Instagram or its parent company has taken a page from Snapchat's product roadmap. In 2012 Facebook released Poke, an app for sending messages that disappeared after 10 seconds. It never gained much traction, and was shuttered in 2014. Later that year Facebook released Slingshot, which required you to send a friend a photo of your own before you could see the photo they had sent you. It fizzled, too. In 2014 Instagram released Bolt, its own ephemeral messenger, which tried to build intimacy by limiting your network to 20 friends. But users stayed away, and Instagram later pulled Bolt from the App Store.

Comment Win7SP1 Windows Update fix in KB3050265 (Score 1) 583

Are you speaking about a problem that still exists in Windows Update for Win7 beyond the fix available in https://support.microsoft.com/... that is not a mandatory update? I've recently had to install this one myself (manually) to fix a computer that became utterly unusable while Windows Update was scanning for available updates. Its memory management is a joke.

Comment Re:Dumbest thing I've heard today. (Score 1) 576

Last week I had a situation where my package was both at "my house" (according to FedEx, no signature required--left on doorstep), and "still in transit" (according to me, working from home and saw the truck pull up near my driveway, driver set a package on the dashboard then go into the back to fetch a 2nd package which he delivered to a neighbor, then drove off without actually delivering mine).

After a complaint call to FedEx about no packge, they promised to get back to me straight away. Never did, but my package did appear on Monday (mis-delivery was on a Friday) without any mention of it in the tracking log or a follow-up phone call.

So, I believe this is a case of Schrodinger's status, where it was both "delivered" and "in transit" at the same time for the entire weekend.

United Kingdom

NHS To Give Volunteers "Synthetic Blood" Made In a Laboratory Within Two Years 57

schwit1 writes: The NHS plans to test artificial blood made from human stem cells in patients and hopes to start transfusing people with artificial blood by 2017. The trials will take place in Cambridge and If successful could lead to the mass production of artificial blood. The Independent reports: "A long-awaited clinical trial of artificial red blood cells will occur before 2017, NHS scientists said. The blood is made from stem cells extracted from either the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies or the blood of adult donors. The trial, thought to be a world first, will involve small transfusions of a few teaspoons of synthetic blood to test for any adverse reactions. It will allow scientists to study the time the manufactured red blood cells can survive within human recipients. Eventually, it is hoped that the NHS will be able to make unlimited quantities of red blood cells for emergency transfusions."

Comment Government doesn't get data security, generally (Score 5, Informative) 142

My family is visiting D.C. this summer, and in order to take a tour of a government facility (Capitol Hill, Congress, Dept. of Engraving, etc.) you need to apply through your congressional representative's office.

The "official and only" way to apply for a tour is to fill in and return, by email, unencrypted, a non-protected Excel spreadsheet with full names, SSNs, and other personally-identifiable information for your entire tour group (family) in one page of the spreadsheet.

Basically, if you want a tour, you must be willing first to roll over and put your goods out for anyone to sniff. No exceptions.

I was sick to my stomach over the idiocy of it all.

Comment AT&T DSL mystery tied to faulty CFL ballast (Score 4, Interesting) 227

I had a friend who was bemoaning how his "crappy" AT&T DSL service would flake out every evening at about the same time, and he'd had techs out to replace his DSL modem twice, re-do the wiring to his house, everything! He asked me whether I was happy with TWC (I wasn't), because he was fed up and was going to switch.

We got talking in general. I asked him whether he'd also done any renovating around his house, no matter what type. He admitted that he'd recently replaced all of his exterior house lights with CFL equivalents, and I asked him whether any were on timers, sensors, etc. He admitted that there was an exterior flood light on a light sensor.

I asked him if that sensor turned on that lamp about the same time of day his DSL service flaked out. His expression dropped. He replaced that one light with an incandescent, and the problem went away.

Transportation

Selectable Ethics For Robotic Cars and the Possibility of a Robot Car Bomb 239

Rick Zeman writes Wired has an interesting article on the possibility of selectable ethical choices in robotic autonomous cars. From the article: "The way this would work is one customer may set the car (which he paid for) to jealously value his life over all others; another user may prefer that the car values all lives the same and minimizes harm overall; yet another may want to minimize legal liability and costs for herself; and other settings are possible. Philosophically, this opens up an interesting debate about the oft-clashing ideas of morality vs. liability." Meanwhile, others are thinking about the potential large scale damage a robot car could do.

Lasrick writes Patrick Lin writes about a recent FBI report that warns of the use of robot cars as terrorist and criminal threats, calling the use of weaponized robot cars "game changing." Lin explores the many ways in which robot cars could be exploited for nefarious purposes, including the fear that they could help terrorist organizations based in the Middle East carry out attacks on US soil. "And earlier this year, jihadists were calling for more car bombs in America. Thus, popular concerns about car bombs seem all too real." But Lin isn't too worried about these threats, and points out that there are far easier ways for terrorists to wreak havoc in the US.

Comment Iceland (Score 2) 246

I just got back from exploring Iceland, and was left wishing I had waaaaaay more time to spend there. The differences in a "young earth" geography are striking, and someplace cooler than my local climes is much appreciated in mid-Summer.

Stats

Actual Results of Crimean Secession Vote Leaked 557

An anonymous reader writes "Forbes reported on Monday that The President of Russia's Council on Civil Society and Human Rights very briefly and supposedly by accident posted the actual results of the Crimean secession vote. According to the blog post, which has since been taken down, only 30% of Crimeans participated in the vote instead of the 83% participation officially advertised by Russia, and of that 30% only half voted for secession, which means that 15% of all Crimeans voted for secession rather than the 82% officially reported by Russia. There is no way for this claim to be verified as no foreign observers were allowed during the voting process. The vote is reportedly being conducted again during the 'May 11 referendum on the status of the so-called People's Republic of Donetsk.'" We've had a lot of discussion over the years about election methods and transparency; it would be interesting to hear from Ukranian readers in particular on this topic.
The Courts

Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case 579

Pigskin-Referee writes in with news of the Supreme Court's decision in a dispute between Monsanto and an Indiana farmer over patented seeds. "The Supreme Court has sustained Monsanto Co.'s claim that an Indiana farmer violated the company's patents on soybean seeds that are resistant to its weed-killer. The justices, in a unanimous vote Monday, rejected the farmer's argument that cheap soybeans he bought from a grain elevator are not covered by the Monsanto patents, even though most of them also were genetically modified to resist the company's Roundup herbicide. Justice Elena Kagan says a farmer who buys patented seeds must have the patent holder's permission. More than 90 percent of American soybean farms use Monsanto's 'Roundup Ready' seeds, which first came on the market in 1996."

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