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26
Apr

You can buy Uncharted 4 on eBay now, thanks to pre-order shipping error


Reports are emerging that some retailers such as Amazon have accidentally shipped copies of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End to pre-order customers two weeks ahead of its official release date.

That has lead to several copies appearing on eBay for as much as £100.

It is unknown whether all the copies listed on eBay.co.uk are genuine, so be wary if you are one of those willing to pay double to get the game a fortnight early. However, with photos of sealed copies accompanying listings, they certainly look the real deal.

Multiple Twitter users are also claiming they’ve received their pre-ordered copy already.

“#uncharted4 is HERE!” claims Shady (@alzayani313) on his Twitter feed. He also posts images of the packaging.

Others around the globe have also posted, suggesting that it isn’t a problem limited to the UK.

One, @ProFeSsoR_10 even shows an image of the game installed on his PS4. And another of several copies in his possession.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is one of the most eagerly anticipated games for this generation and comes out officially on 10 May. Amazon.co.uk’s current pre-order price is set at £44.

Copies received or purchased ahead of launch day will not be able to access multiplayer until the servers are enabled, so only the campaign mode is currently working.

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26
Apr

New Homefront: The Revolution trailer shows why it could be most interesting FPS this year


Homefront: The Revolution will be released on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on 20 May and the latest trailer to hit the net shows why it’ll be worth keeping an eye on.

After mixed reviews for the first Homefront game, Deep Silver and developer Dambuster Studios have rebooted the franchise for the new generation machines. It has stuck with the original premise, however, as detailed in the “America Has Fallen” short.

The General Korean Republic invaded the US after effectively taking down the country’s armed forces through control over their technologies. This time around though, you fight as part of the revolution aiming to take the States back.

A couple of things strike the latest Homefront apart from other first-person shooters out there. It is open world, with side missions to complete alongside regular campaign missions. And it is the first game to be developed by a hybrid of Crytek and Free Radical Design staff members.

READ: E3 2016: All the launches, games and consoles to expect

Free Radical Design previously developed the TimeSplitters series of games from the noughties. It also worked on the two Crysis sequels as Crytek UK.

The trailer can be viewed in 1440p and it taken from the main introduction to the game, hence the cross between live action and CGI effects.

26
Apr

What becomes of Facebook when people start to value privacy?


Facebook’s role in the world has changed though I didn’t expect to have an epiphany about that while sitting in the pews of a drafty, 11th-century church. It was at a wedding earlier this month, and the program handed out bore a disclaimer that would have been mystifying a few years ago. “Roger and Stephanie* would like to request that guests DO NOT post any photos of the ceremony, or share anything to social media relating to the day.” Instead of wanting to broadcast their special moments to the world, they were actively asking people to do the opposite. The truth is that Facebook was designed for people to spill their guts, but now more people are deciding that their privacy is more important.

Facebook is rumored to be having a crisis behind the scenes, centered around something called “original sharing.” It’s the technical term for the sort of personal, from-the-heart updates that people make about their own lives. For instance, a piece of original sharing content would be a written status update, a selfie or a video of a newborn puppy doing a trick. But people haven’t been posting these as frequently, at least according to a detailed report published by The Information earlier this month. The news site claims to have seen confidential documents showing a 21 percent drop in original sharing over the last year.

By blurring the lines between public and private, Facebook has forced people to become more guarded.

I asked Facebook for a response, and a spokesperson said that “people continue to share a ton on Facebook.” Its representatives added that “the overall level of sharing has remained not only strong, but similar to levels in prior years.” But that statement doesn’t address the actual source of the alleged problem: People are still sharing, but what they’re sharing has changed. Gone are the days when people poured the uncensored gamut of their lives onto their profile pages. And you’re never going to be as engaged watching a John Oliver video as you are keeping track of what your friends are doing. Which is a problem, since your attention is the natural resource that helps Facebook make its millions.

I spoke to Facebook user Sidney Macdonald who also requested a social media blackout at her wedding. Her reasons were twofold: First, she didn’t want to see a “sea of phones [as I was] walking down the aisle.” Second, she feels that “too many people post things that aren’t for them to post on social media, like other people’s pregnancies.” In this sense, Facebook might have become a victim of its own success: By blurring the lines between public and private information, it’s forced people to become more guarded.

Stressed businesswoman in the office

It was different a decade ago, when people weren’t as obsessed with manicuring their online images as they are today. Jeri* wound up quitting the site despite being an avid user since her university days, specifically because her profile showed her warts and all. Her page included photos taken at college, including one where she was the unwitting victim during a game of Human Buckaroo. It didn’t occur to her that, when her employees asked to connect with her on the site that they’d spend any time delving into her past. But one member of the team found a picture of the sleeping Jeri, covered in cookware, and began to pass it around the office.

When Facebook started, we put photos of our drunken, youthful hijinks online because, hey, everyone else was doing it, right? The intervening years probably eroded our collective spirit of #YOLO faster than we’d like to admit. Dicks like Jeri’s colleagues are one reason we all started to clam up online, and what Edward Snowden taught the world was another. He told us that the government was spending inordinate amounts of time watching everything we do online. Even worse, NSA employees were extracting pictures of naked women from private messages and sharing them around the office. It’s no surprise to see that people started to become more guarded online when there’s a risk that Seal Team 6 has seen you in the buff.

You’re not going to hang out at the same bar where your parents and grandparents are regulars.

User Dave McGeady says that Facebook’s push to connect everyone in the world has caused a shift in its ethos. Back in the old days, he felt the site was “an old wall where people might scribble graffiti” but has now become a public space with eyes everywhere. As he says, “an ‘edgy’ joke might be interpreted the wrong way” by people who aren’t in on the gag. That’s not a defense of people having a space to be dicks either, but a legitimate psychological need not to be under scrutiny all the time. It’s a common malaise of open-plan office workers since the lack of space for people to be themselves causes serious harm to both productivity and mental health.

At 31, I’m too old to be a millennial by most standards, but it seems that even the generation that followed mine is disaffected with Facebook. Sam* for instance, is 25, making him an ideal target for advertisers who want to get to him via social media. But he’s stopped engaging with Facebook because, in his own words, he’s “no longer a teenager or at college where something crazy happens each week.” He feels the site has become something of a link dump and has become bored of the site’s news feed, saying that it’s now full of “shit videos and listicles that people can like and share without trying.”

Facebook’s algorithmic news feed also came under fire from fashion blogger Jennifer Rosellen, who said that ditching a chronological list of updates was a mistake. The automatically curated feed “means it’s often pointless, as your posts get lost in people’s news feeds.” Despite also being a millennial, she feels that she’s now “too old” for the site, even though her 55-year-old father and his friends are avid users. Maybe that’s another problem: You’re not going to hang out at the same bar where your parents and grandparents are regulars.

The 18 to 30 crowd are now turning on their heel and taking their social media interactions elsewhere, and by elsewhere, I mean Snapchat. Research firm Piper Jaffray surveyed 6,500 teenagers and found that they ranked Facebook as the fourth most desirable place to hang out online. The aging site now lags behind Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, which means it doesn’t even get a medal in the coolness race. Facebook has traditionally dealt with such existential threats by opening up its checkbook, picking up Instagram and WhatsApp for around $20 billion. But it doesn’t look as if Snapchat, the closest contender for the millennial crown, can be bought off so easily: The service has already rebuffed a $3 billion buyout attempt. Twitter, too, through its Vine and Periscope arms, dominates a live video market that Facebook is only now entering.

Credit: Piper Jaffray

It’s important to see what those other services offer that Facebook cannot and why Snapchat has won so many teenage hearts and minds. If you wanted to brag about your hobbies in a space your parents can’t see, you’d go somewhere other than Facebook. Fifteen-year-old Ishan Haque explained to Business Insider that he doesn’t post to Facebook “unless it’s something to do with family or making me look like a Good Samaritan.” Snapchat, meanwhile, lets you tell your friends you got high on 4/20 and the image disappears in a matter of seconds. It also warns you if someone tries to record the picture for posterity, enforcing trust between friends.

People are resentful of the blurred lines between public and private information and are taking strong measures to protect themselves. It makes Sheryl Sandberg’s comment that “you can’t be on Facebook without being your authentic self” sound even more foolish: A combination of public exposure and societal pressure means that Facebook now puts you on your best behavior. Engadget has previously reported on how people prefer to split their lives across a wide range of social media, but this isn’t the Facebook way. Its attempt to become the single, preeminent social network has led to a situation where everyone’s all in the same room, but nobody’s talking.

*Names have been changed. Some quotes have been edited for clarity.

26
Apr

India mandates all smartphones must come with a panic button


India has decreed that, from 2017, all phones must be sold with a panic button that lets users instantly alert the emergency services. A year later and all devices sold must also come with GPS as standard in order for authorities to quickly locate victims of sexual assault. According to India’s Economic Times, a long press on either the 5 or 9 button on a feature phone will be routed straight to police. In addition, smartphones will have to provide an on-screen emergency button or enable a panic call to be placed by — for instance — pressing the sleep/wake button three times in succession.

It’s not just local manufacturers that will be forced to abide by the new ruling, with outfits such as Samsung and Apple also liable. It’s not the first time that manufacturers will have to tweak their designs to deal with local legislation. For instance, Russia imposed a hefty 25 percent import levy on all smartphones that didn’t support its homegrown navigation system, GLONASS.

The move has come from the country’s telecoms minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who said that he made the decision to “help our women in distress.” India is currently dealing with what the Daily Beast has described as a rape crisis. The number of reported violent sexual assaults in the country has gone up by nearly 13,000 in the last five years. There is no telling how many unreported attacks are going on, although one stat suggests that a woman is raped in the country once every fifteen minutes.

Mashable quotes Prasad as saying that “technology is solely meant to make human life better, and what better than using it for the security of women.” The industry’s relationship with sexual assault is a complex one, since most of its efforts are directed at creating panic buttons rather than addressing the cause. Companies such as Wisewear are developing wearable technology disguised as jewelry that will alert the emergency services in the event of an attack.

Via: Mashable

Source: Ravi Shankar Prasad (Facebook), India Economic Times

26
Apr

HTC Vive teardown shows it’s even easier to fix than Oculus Rift


We’ve seen the iFixit folks tear apart the Oculus Rift, now they’ve taken their tools and relentless curiosity to the other big VR player, the HTC Vive. Both headsets are basically just complex containers for two OLED displays, but it’s fascinating to see how the companies went about designing them. For example, while they both use fresnel lens designs (which allow for thinner lenses compared to early VR headsets), the Vive’s approach relies on its eye relief mechanism to tweak focus, whereas the Rift’s curved lenses requires you to move the headset higher or lower on your face for focus.

In the end, iFixit gave the Vive a repairability score of 8 out of 10, mostly due to how easy it was to take apart the headset. The Rift, in comparison, scored a 7 out of 10. There’s not much of a chance you’ll easily find replacement hardware if anything goes wrong with your VR headset, but it’s nice to know they’re not just sealed off mystery boxes.

Among other highlights from the teardown, iFixit notes that the Vive’s controller touchpad design is very similar to the Steam controller, which shows just how much Valve influenced HTC’s design. The repair group also came up with the best explanation I’ve seen yet of how the Vive’s IR base stations actually work:

Each Lighthouse flashes its IR LED array, signaling the start of a cycle. Vertical and horizontal lasers then sweep across the room, and all of those fancy photosensors on the headset and controllers start looking for lasers. The tracked headset or controller can then determine its position based on the order its sensors receive the laser sweeps.

Source: iFixit

26
Apr

The best foam mattresses you can buy online


By Kevin Purdy

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.

We researched 15 of the top online mattress companies, surveyed hundreds of Wirecutter readers about their mattresses purchased online, interviewed sleep and mattress-design experts, spent over 40 hours researching foam mattresses, and slept on six models. We recommend the Leesa as a mattress that will work well for most people who sleep on their side or stomach.

How we picked and tested

The mattresses we tested for this guide, as they would arrive at your door. From left: Tuft & Needle, BedInABox, Casper, Leesa, Signature Sleep Contour 8, IKEA MATRAND. Photo: Jeremy Pavia

We focused on an increasingly popular subset of mattresses—those that come in only one model, cost less than $1,000, arrive within a week (usually in a vacuum-packed roll inside a box), and come with a free trial of at least 100 days (as well as an offer to take a rejected mattress away for free). We sought mattresses that would work best for the primary sleep positions: side, stomach, and back. Most surveys (and our own quick Twitter poll) show that 60 to 70 percent of people primarily sleep in some kind of side position.

We slept and napped on each mattress over the course of a week, taking notes and using personal sleep trackers to confirm how each mattress performed. Though a night of sleep and a nap or two on each mattress does not constitute a full test—doctors and mattress companies recommend at least 30 days to let your body adjust when switching mattresses—our experiments gave us far more hands-on time than most mattress shoppers get.

How you feel sleeping on each mattress is obviously the key consideration, but we also took into account how each mattress breathes as you sink into it, how supportive the mattress’ edges are, if someone on one side of a mattress can feel movement by someone on the other side, how well sheets fit on each mattress, and how easily you can pick up and rotate the mattress.

We weighed our observations against what readers told us in our survey about their own online-purchased mattresses, and we talked with owners of specific mattresses. We also considered the impressions of Wirecutter staffers who owned or tested the mattresses.

No mattress works for everybody

Unpacking a BedInABox mattress, from the initial roll to the mostly inflated state. Like our picks, it comes folded in half, rolled up, and placed inside a tall box. Photos: Kyle Fitzgerald

Here is the core truth of the mattress market: You won’t find one mattress that works for everybody. Our experts told us that the best any mattress can do is sleep great for a small group of people, feel pretty good for some, and do okay for a majority of people. This compromise is complicated further by the subjective feelings of “firm” or “soft.”

Many factors can alter your firmness preference, including injury, weight, stress, diet, apnea, your pillow, the warmth or coolness of your room, the sheets you put on your bed, how often you switch positions, and if you sleep with a partner. Or you may just prefer something other than what your sleep style naturally suggests. All of that explains why single-model mattresses you can try out for about 100 days are gaining in popularity: Finding one perfect mattress is tricky, but making a mistake shouldn’t be a 10-year disappointment.

Our pick

The Leesa mattress, our top pick for how most people sleep. Photo: Jeremy Pavia

The Leesa is our top pick among online-purchase mattresses because it felt the best overall for side sleepers and stomach sleepers. Its contouring “hug” is comfortable rather than hot or muddy, and it breathed better than other mattresses we tested, allowing for a cooler sleep. The Leesa handles better at its edges than our other picks, providing acceptable support for entering, exiting, or rolling over on the bed. It has a surface that feels good under thin sheets, and its gray and white stripes look good. For the price, the Leesa is a real value that will appeal to many people buying a foam mattress online.

Runner-up

The Casper mattress may work better for people who switch positions often. Photo: Jeremy Pavia

If you switch between back sleeping and side sleeping, or if one of two people sharing a bed tends toward back sleeping or prefers a firmer mattress, the Casper mattress is a more middle-of-the-road pick than the Leesa. Its “hug” was not as comfortable for our testers as the Leesa’s, and side sleepers will likely find the Casper less pliable and accommodating than the Leesa. But the Casper’s mix of four foams may work better for people who switch positions often (especially onto their back) or for couples that include back sleepers.

For dedicated back sleepers

The Tuft & Needle mattress, with its two layers visible (3 inches of hybrid comfort/contour foam, 7 inches of support). Photo: Jeremy Pavia

Tuft & Needle’s mattress is firm. It’s as firm as foam can get before it becomes uncomfortable. If you’re a back sleeper or prefer to float on your mattress instead of sink into it, the Tuft & Needle works fine. But it isn’t ideal for most side sleepers and stomach sleepers. And at its substantially lower price—a queen costs $200 to $300 less than that of our other picks—it’s an economical pick, at any size, for a guest room or other occasional uses.

Care and maintenance

For all of our mattress picks, be sure not to flip them over—their support and memory foam are at the top. But you should rotate them every three to six months, especially if you sleep alone on one side of the bed or if partners have a notable weight difference.

Most direct-order mattress companies suggest a flat foundation or a slatted base (slats no more than 3 inches apart), but the mattress could work on the floor, too. If you have a box spring with actual springs in its structure, and it has already seen years of regular use under a mattress, you should probably get a new foundation.

All of the mattresses we tested contain synthetic, petroleum-based foams, which will release some gases (and related odors) for the first couple of days. However, the amounts your mattress exhales are pretty small, and you don’t need to worry about them.

Our mattress picks each come with a zippered cover, but you should not remove it for cleaning except for serious bedwide stains. None of our picks’ manufacturers openly sells a replacement cover, but you should contact the maker if a cover rips or pulls under normal use.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

26
Apr

Stop trying to make me sign up for more subscription services


Here’s something you didn’t know you needed in your life: a Netflix, but just for the prestige films of yesteryear. That’s the idea behind FilmStruck, a subscription service that’s being developed by Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection. According to the New York Times, the offering will house upwards of 1,000 films you can’t get elsewhere, including Seven Samuari, Blood Simple and Mad Max. Pricing for the offering has yet to be decided, but the WSJ believes that it’ll be under $10 a month. There’s a sting in the tail for Hulu users, too, since Warner / Criterion movies that are currently available there are likely to be pulled.

One of the reasons that cord-cutting and on-demand services took off was the idea that people could stop paying for things they didn’t use. For instance, if you wanted to watch nothing but sports, you probably resented having to pay for any of the non-sports channels on your cable bill. The advent of Netflix was meant to do away with this, but that company’s success has led to a wave of imitators. For instance, the TV and movie market is now split between Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, with others looking to follow suit. NBC’s Seeso, CBS’ All Access, Starz, HBO Now and even YouTube Red are also vying for a slice of our monthly paycheck. Wether you’ll be prepared to spend yet another $9 on the chance to watch old movies on-demand is anyone’s guess.

Via: Re/code

Source: WSJ, NYT

26
Apr

Cyclist banned for six years after racing with a hidden motor


A professional cyclist has been banned for six years after it was discovered she was racing with a hidden electric motor. Femke Van den Driessche was caught at the UCI Cyclo­cross World Championships in January, while her spare bike was in the pit area. The scan, which Road.cc reports was conducted with a tablet, allowed officials to spot a battery and Vivax motor in the seat tube. Van den Driessche could have activated it using a Bluetooth switch concealed under the tape on her handlebars. She denied the allegations at the time, claiming the bike was given to her by mistake.

“It was my friend’s and was identical to mine. This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck. A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race.”

The six-year suspension runs from October 11, 2015 to October 10th, 2021. The earlier start date would suggest that the UCI is confident she was cheating earlier in the season. As a result, the Belgian has been stripped of all the medals and prize-money she has accrued since that date. Her name and times will be removed from the relevant race rankings and she’ll no longer hold the Under-23 European Champion title or Under-23 Belgian Champion title. In addition, she’ll need to pay a fine of 20,000 CHF (20,569 US dollars) and foot the bill for the case proceedings.

Van den Driessche’s “mechanical doping” ban is the first of its kind. The UCI says it scanned over 100 bikes at the event and will continue to “test heavily” across all cycling disciplines this year. “We have invested considerable resources in developing this new and highly effective scanning technology and also in strengthening the sanctions applicable to anyone found cheating in this way,” UCI President Brian Cookson said.

Professional cycling has a tarnished reputation after widespread doping was discovered at the top level. Lance Armstrong’s spectacular fall from grace is still fresh in people’s minds — cases such as this one will, if anything, only slow people’s ability to trust the sport’s athletes once more.

26
Apr

YouTube’s mobile homepage redesign has better recommendations


YouTube wants to put more of the videos you like in front of you, so it’s giving its Android and iOS apps a bit of a facelift. Specifically, its homepage is getting a bit of a makeover. Gone are the small thumbnail previews, and in its place are larger, higher-res images. More importantly, the company has worked hard behind the scenes to improve its recommendation engine with a deep neural network. That way, the system should be able to work out the clips you want to watch next well before you’ve even thought about it — keeping you on the site for longer.

Part of the homepage redesign is that groups of recommended videos are now gone. Now the suggested clips appear in a single ranked list. “Instead of recommending groups of videos to you, we’re going to take the best video from the groups and put them in the right order for you,” said Johanna Wright, YouTube’s VP of Product Management. It uses machine learning and algorithms to figure out your viewing patterns automatically, learning and improving over time. The homepage will also now occasionally surface videos from your Subscriptions, since that’s what a lot of people go to YouTube for.

“We believe it’s possible to create this personalized experience because we have so many videos in our database,” she said. Indeed, YouTube claims that it has about 400 hours of video uploaded to its service every minute. Still, it’s challenging work. “We have a billion users, all of them very different. Matching that vast combination of videos to such a varied set of people is really difficult.” In the end, they found that people who tried the new homepage tended to spend more time watching videos.

The YouTube homepage makeover is currently mobile only, but even though the desktop home looks the same, it still benefits from the improvements that YouTube has made to recommendations. One of those improvements? You’ll start to see newer videos in that recommended list. “We are showing fresher videos with these changes,” said Wright. “More videos that have been uploaded in the past hour, more recent videos of your Subscriptions.”

To get a closer look at what’s going on, you can go ahead and download the update; it should be available on both Google Play and the App Store starting today.

26
Apr

Pandora pads podcast lineup by adding ‘This American Life’


Pandora was the “exclusive streaming partner” for season 2 of the popular Serial podcast, despite the show being available through iTunes and other apps. Now, the internet radio service is adding another popular podcast from the creators of that investigative title. Hosted by Ira Glass, This American Life will debut new episodes on Pandora every Monday, available through its Android, iOS and web apps. The company says Serial’s first two seasons were streamed over 15 million times, so there’s clearly some interest in content other than stations that compile a playlist based on your preferences.

Pandora picked up what was left of Rdio last year when the streaming service shut down after filing bankruptcy. While no official announcement of a full-on streaming option from Pandora has been made, it’s likely on the way. By adding podcasts, albeit only two of them, to its lineup, it looks like a library of the episodic content could be part of the company’s plans for that service. Spotify added both video and audio podcasts last year, padding its slate of streaming content that already included a la carte music and Pandora-like radio stations. Google recently added podcasts to Play Music, too.

If you aren’t familiar with This American Life, the Pandora station is already live with past episodes, so you can introduce yourself while you wait for new shows to arrive. There’s no mention of exclusivity this time around, so you should be able to enjoy the show elsewhere if you prefer to do so.

Source: Pandora (Business Wire)

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