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8
Mar

Celebrate Mario Day with 50% off Super Mario Run


Mario Day is just around the corner, and Nintendo is celebrating by offering the Super Mario Run app for just $4.99. This discount will be valid from March 10th through March 25th, so you have some time to score the deal once it begins. Note that the app is free to download, but this discount will get you half-off an in-app purchase that unlocks the full game.

super-mario-run-25vr.jpg?itok=vEV_NAhq

March 10th is affectionately dubbed “Mario Day” because the abbreviated date looks like his name! MAR10. See? Nintendo isn’t the only company that’ll roll out discounts for Mario Day. We will likely see deals from other retailers, too. In previous years stores like GameStop and ThinkGeek have held special sales just for our favorite plumber.

If you just can’t wait to get the Mario party started, there are a few more Nintendo deals worth checking out.

Super Mario Fans can pre-order the Super Mario Limited-Edition Encyclopedia to save $32 and score one of four exclusive covers. If you don’t care too much about exclusivity, you can pre-order the Standard Edition at a discount as well.

You can also snag 20% off Nintendo collectibles and accessories at GameStop to celebrate one year of the Nintendo Switch.! Speaking of which, your Switch will be safe and sound in one of these discounted cases, and if you don’t have one yet, you can get a Nintendo Switch on sale here.

To stay up-to-date on future Mario Day 2018 deals, make sure to follow Thrifter on Twitter. Don’t forget to check out the Nintendo Direct later tonight!

See at Nintendo

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8
Mar

Snap lays off over 100 employees from its engineering team


For the second time this year, Snap is laying off employees. As the company confirmed to Recode, Snap plans to let go of over 120 engineers in the next few days, which is about 4 percent of its around 3,000-person workforce.

The company’s first round of layoffs this year axed 22 employees in the middle of January, preceding admissions of human resource difficulties during Snap’s Q4 earnings report in early February. The company had hired 2,400 people in the last two years, about 100 per month, and CEO Evan Spiegel said that the company planned to moderate team growth in 2018 and “will continue to make the necessary changes to ensure that everyone at our company is aligned with our values,” he said at the time.

Bloomberg’s reported last week that the company’s employees wouldn’t be receiving cash bonuses after missing internal goals, so this round of layoffs could be related to Snap’s readjusted expectations. In an email sent to all employees that was acquired by Recode, Snap VP of Engineering Jerry Hunter reportedly wrote: “We want to unleash speed and productivity in our organization, while keeping a high technical bar. That required us to think carefully about the shape of the organization, and where each member of our team fits.” We’ve reached out to Snap for comment.

Source: Recode

8
Mar

Study finds fake news spreads faster and further on Twitter than truth


There’s been a lot of discussion about fake news, how it spreads on social networks and how it impacts behaviors like political decisions. But there hasn’t really been an in-depth look into how true and false information spreads on sites like Facebook or Twitter, nor has there been an analysis on how big of a role bots play in that spread. Well three researchers at MIT have just published a study in Science that does just that and their work finds that false information spreads faster, further, deeper and more broadly than true information and that humans, not bots, are to blame.

The researchers looked at a broad swath of news stories and rumors shared on Twitter from its launch in 2006 up to 2017 and overall they analyzed the spread of approximately 126,000 stories tweeted by three million people over 4.5 million times. The stories they used were ones that had been verified or debunked by six fact-checking organizations — Snopes, Politifact, FactCheck.org, TruthOrFiction.com, Hoax-Slayer and UrbanLegends.about.com. They they took those stories, deemed either true or false, and looked at how they spread on Twitter. Specifically, they analyzed cascades, or retweet chains, sharing the information. Here’s how the researchers describe the cascades. If a story is tweeted by 10 people separately, none of which are retweeted, it has 10 cascades of size one. But if two people tweet it and are each retweeted 100 times, the story has two cascades of size 100. Therefore a cascade consists of a separately shared story and its size is determined by how many times the original tweet is shared.

The team found that while true story cascades rarely reached 1,000 people, the top false news stories often reached between 1,000 and 100,000 people. False news also spread faster, with true news taking six times longer to reach 1,500 people. And original false stories were able to get a chain of retweets 19 users deep 10 times faster than a true story could get a chain of 10. False stories were also retweeted by more users overall than true stories and the researchers determined that false stories were 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than those that were true.

Additionally, of the different types of stories — which include politics, urban legends, business, terrorism, science, entertainment and natural disasters — false political ones spread further and faster than other types of false stories. And while it would make sense that accounts with more followers, that tweeted more often, that were more likely to be verified or had been on Twitter longer would contribute more largely to the spread of false stories, the researchers found the exact opposite to be true. Those spreading false news had fewer followers, followed fewer people, were less active, were verified less frequently and were on Twitter for less time than those who spread true stories.

Further, since the selected stories were limited to what had been checked by the six fact-checking groups, the researchers were aware that the story selection may be biased towards particular types of subjects. So they took a whole new set of stories that hadn’t been analyzed by those groups and had three undergraduates fact check them. They then analyzed their spread as they did with the previous set of stories and the results were nearly identical to their other findings.

And lastly, in order to determine the effect of bots, the researchers, who initially removed bot-generated content from the analysis, added it back in and found that nothing changed. False stories still spread farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than true stories, meaning humans are the main contributors to its spread, not bots.

More research needs to be done to figure out why false news spreads the way that it does, but the team suggests that novelty may play a role. They found novel news items were more likely to be tweeted and false news stories were more likely to be novel, therefore novelty could contribute to the quickness and depth with which false stories spread.

The study’s findings are interesting, particularly in light of recent events. Though how they can be used to inform efforts to combat the spread of fake news will likely be a much more challenging task. “Understanding how false news spreads is the first step toward containing it,” the authors write. “We hope our work inspires more large-scale research into the causes and consequences of the spread of false news as well as its potential cures.”

Source: Science

8
Mar

Apple’s Dr. Dre Hosting Free Anderson .Paak Concert in London


Apple is sponsoring a London concert that will feature Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals, the company announced on its Apple Music Twitter account this morning.

The one-night-only concert, hosted by Apple Music exec Dr. Dre, will take place on March 13, 2018 at O2 Academy Brixton, one of London’s most popular music venues.

Just announced!@DrDre presents: @AndersonPaak One Night Only in London.
Info on tix here: https://t.co/FiWr4Dqfly pic.twitter.com/uLlbeHGJ90

— Apple Music (@AppleMusic) March 8, 2018

Tickets to the concert are free, and will be available starting on Friday, March 9 at 9:00 a.m. local time.

Anderson .Paak recently released his first new single since 2016, “Til It’s Over.” The song made its debut in Apple’s new “Welcome Home” HomePod ad directed by Spike Jonze.

Tag: Apple Music
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8
Mar

VR, AR and immersive projects are a bigger part of Tribeca this year


Art museums aren’t the only ones delving into virtual reality, with Sundance debuting a slate of Oculus projects back in January. While the Tribeca Film Festival has included both art and cinema VR projects before, this year’s programming brings projects with film stars and screenings in a new VR theater. Around 30 pieces will be showcased in the festival’s dedicated Immersive section, and the show will also screen 33 VR films and experiences starring a slew of Hollywood regulars including Terrence Malick, Laurie Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Lupita Nyong’o and Alicia Vikander, along with the band OK GO.

The Immersive projects address a spread of topical issues like racism, immigration, xenophobia, climate change, nuclear war and HIV/AIDS. Per the announcement, this includes The Virtual Arcade, a lineup of 21 world premiere VR/AR exhibits as well as five Storyscapes experiences in competition, which will be open from April 20th to 28th. Some of those will roll into Tribeca Cinema360, a VR theater featuring four projects in 360 degree mobile content, which will debut on April 21st and run until the 28th.

8
Mar

Ubisoft is working on ‘The Division 2’


Tom Clancy’s The Division is getting a sequel. During today’s “State of the Game” stream developers from Ubisoft announced that the team is working on The Division 2. Why a sequel versus expansions? Because there are still a lot of stories to tell within the game, the developers said. It’s being worked on by the same team and studios within Ubisoft (including Massive Entertainment, which led the first). Also, the team really wanted to show off how far the game’s engine has come since the first game was released two years ago to the day.

The team said that there won’t be more information on the future State of the Game streams between now and E3 in June.

Ubisoft isn’t abandoning the first game, though. The upcoming 1.81 “strawberry” update will continue the trend of global in-game events. That will also include an enhancement patch for Xbox One X. There will also be four new missions available in “legendary” difficulty, for instance, and an additional pair in the 1.82 “parsnip” update. In an effort to link the original game with its sequel, completing and unlocking things in the former and you’ll be rewarded with in-game goodies in the latter whenever it’s released. So nope, it doesn’t sound like your time will be wasted if you keep grinding away in The Division.

Though the player-base and the game’s influence has clearly been dwindling for some time, here’s to hoping that Ubisoft doesn’t repeat developer Bungie’s mistakes with Destiny 2. Consider the following, though: Ubisoft knows how to make a sequel.

When the first Assassin’s Creed was released in 2007, players and critics alike derided it for feeling like a tech demo. Sure, the world was gorgeous, but there wasn’t a whole lot to do within the game’s version of The Holy Land. Two years later, Assassin’s Creed 2 was released and actually felt like a fully fleshed out game, tackling complaints of repetitive missions and a boring protagonist head on. For a more contemporary example, look at 2014’s Watch Dogs versus the sequel that came out two years later; it followed the same path as Assassin’s Creed 2.

Maybe this time The Division’s E3 demo will actually match up to what we play at home, too.

Watch live video from TheDivisionGame on http://www.twitch.tv

Source: The Division (Twitch), Ubiblog

8
Mar

The best ways to track your TV, music and reading habits


We’ve all done it: browsed friends’ bookshelves, riffled through their vinyl collection or peeked through a stack of video games left in front of their TV. You can learn a lot about people based on what media they consume and leave lying around their house. And perhaps you’re familiar with what director John Waters said you shouldn’t do if someone doesn’t have books in their house?

Unfortunately, the modern streaming age means that we aren’t collecting music or movies the way we used to — we might put a few tomes on our coffee table as decoration, but stacks of books or CDs aren’t practical anymore. So how do we remember everything we’ve listened to lately? How do we show off what we’ve read? Indeed, there are quite a few apps dedicated to showcasing the media experiences we’ve “collected.” We’ve gathered some of the better ones so you can easily keep track of — and brag about — what you’re watching, listening to, playing and reading in this digital age.

Movies

IMDb might be the big kahuna when it comes to looking up stuff about film, but it’s pretty terrible for cinephiles who want a place to track their film consumption and connect with other film lovers. Letterboxd is a site built by people who take their movie watching seriously. You can log your views, tag them, make themed lists and write reviews for films you’ve already seen and written — after all, sometimes you might notice something new on a rewatch. Even if you’re not into obsessively tracking your film inventory, the site and its app are still worth a look just for the quality of the reviews: It’s a more discerning group of watchers than you’d find on Rotten Tomatoes, with a fun mix of serious critical analysis and self-deprecation.

Television

Trakt.tv doesn’t make its own app that you can just download and start using. Instead, it focuses its efforts on its website and API, which sit at the center of a robust ecosystem of third-party apps targeting different users’ needs. Meanwhile WatchAid will give you the skinny on which streaming service carries your favorite shows while serial bingers can use Serist to keep tabs on how far they’ve made it into a long-running program like Game of Thrones or West Wing. If you do a lot of your watching on your computer via services like Netflix or on media players like Apple TV, there are ways for Trakt to automatically keep tabs on those, too, creating a more holistic, cross-platform picture of your viewing habits. It’s like having your own personal Nielsen ratings system.

Music

We listen to way more music than we can ever keep tabs of manually, so that’s what makes Last.fm’s auto-scrobble so great. You simply install the app on your computer or phone and it scours iTunes, Google Play or Windows Media Player for your listening habits. You can also have streaming services like Spotify and Tidal send information directly to Last.fm. Data nerds will love how it generates stats on your favorite tracks, albums and artists, delivering a weekly listening report that even breaks it down by how many new artists you’ve sampled and your most popular genres. Maybe you don’t need that much information, but then again, there’s something comforting about knowing that even after 10 years and changing tastes, The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” still hasn’t been dethroned as my top track.

Video games

The pile of shame. Every gamer has one: that stack of games you’ve purchased but haven’t finished … or in many cases, never even played. To tackle that backlog, it helps to get organized, and Grouvee is a great way to get your play habits sorted. You can make lists, track the status of each game (like played and playing) and even auto-import game info from your Steam library like what you own and how long you’ve played it. Grouvee’s game database pulls from Giant Bomb, so it’s pretty robust, though the downside is that I’ve found it easy to keep adding games to my backlog as fast as I finish them, with no end in sight.

Books

Goodreads

Goodreads is the king of media-tracking sites. You can make lists, rate books and track your reading progress by page or percentage over multiple titles. The system will use your reading history to make recommendations, and they’re pretty good ones too — after being coerced by a friend into reading David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks and utterly hating it, Goodreads told me to read Emily St. Cloud’s Station Eleven, which I loved. Goodreads is good enough at what it does that Amazon actually went and bought it back in 2013. Sure, that purchase was all about getting you to spend more money on books, but it’s admittedly pretty handy to be able to update your reading status directly to Goodreads from your Kindle.

8
Mar

Alexa can now play that song you heard but can’t remember the name of


Sometimes you want to listen to a certain song but you can’t quite remember what it’s called. Other times you might just want to listen to some of your favorites that you haven’t heard in a while. Now, Alexa can find those tunes for you. While listening to Amazon Music, you can now ask Alexa in very general terms to find music you listened to earlier or play something you haven’t heard recently. You can do so with specific artists by saying, for example, “Alexa, play that Kendrick Lamar song I was listening to yesterday,” or, “Alexa, play Rihanna songs I haven’t heard in a while.” You can also ask for genres, but you can get even more general than that by asking Alexa to just play something you haven’t heard lately.

Amazon has been making Alexa more and more useful for listening to music. It introduced Alexa support to its Music app last September and last year, Amazon gave Alexa the ability to find music to match various activities such as pop music for cooking, classical music for sleeping or jazz music for baby-making. Last month, a new Alexa skill let Prime Music listeners and Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers tell Alexa to add songs to playlists or create new ones.

The new features are available to Prime members and Amazon Music subscribers in the US and UK.

8
Mar

See all the wild cars and concepts from the Geneva Motor Show


The Geneva Motor Show got 2018 off to a good start for car lovers, with an unusually large number of vehicle launches. We’ve already seen the more technical and electric models, like the Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo, the Polestar 1 from Volvo, Audi’s e-tron and the 1,914-horsepower Rimac Concept Two EV. But many other automakers, including Ferrari, Aston Martin, BMW and Mercedes, launched new vehicles and concepts with crazy designs, loads of technology and more horsepower than ever. Without further ado, here are the best of the rest.

BMW M8 Gran Coupe concept

BMW’s flagship 8-series is aimed at wealthy individuals who expect to be swaddled in luxury, and the M8 Gran Coupe does all that while dialing the thrust way up. Expect upwards of 600 horsepower, the better to compete with the likes of the Mercedes AMG GT Coupe, another four-door performance machine unveiled at Geneva (see the gallery above). The difference between the two models is that AMG’s GT Coupe is coming in 2019, while the M8 Gran Coupe is a concept and probably won’t be produced for years to come.

Lexus UX

The Lexus UX is an interesting example of how a vehicle goes from the free-for-all design stage to production. The original concept was an angular, aggressive machine with some weird features, like metal wheel spokes that are integrated right into the tires. Lexus took out most of that insanity but did keep some of the original’s quirkiness. Most notably, it has a large wire-texture grille that the company says is inspired by traditional Japanese crafts.

Ferrari 488 Pista

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Steve Dent / Engadget

Ferrari unveils more powerful cars with every auto show. With a 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 , the 488 Pista marries a monster 710-horsepower V8 with a curb weight under 3,000 pounds, making it a racetrack-ready production car. At the same time, the chassis is stuffed with electronics that let you control how you toss it around. The so-called Side-Slip Control (SSC) system lets you drift the 488 Pista if you dare, but can straighten it out with an electronic jab to the inside brakes if you mishandle it.

Pal V Liberty Flying Car

Bless the hearts of those folks brave enough to build and back flying cars. We first saw the Pal V Liberty way back in 2012, and here it is six years later in Geneva. As a reminder, the gyrocopter can do 110 miles per hour in the sky and, after you fold down the rotor assembly, cruise at 60 mph on roads. It’s slated to go on sale for $600,000, which is a lot for a vehicle that’s slower than a Cessna 152 — buy hey, flying car! The PAL-V is still waiting for that very hard-to-get FAA certification.

Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder

When a 1,900-horsepower car comes along, 640 horsepower somehow seems quaint. But Lamborghini’s $300,000 Huracán Performante Spyder does have a removable top that lets you feel the wind in your hair. But not too much — when you lower the roof at speeds of up to 30 mph, the “active aero” system releases fins that reduce noise and wind turbulence. It’s powered by a 5.2-liter V10 motor, and don’t expect an EV supercar from Lamborghini anytime soon.

Toyota GR Racing Concept

An all-new Supra didn’t arrive this year, as many folks had hoped, but Toyota did give us a possible taste with the Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept. Other than the enormous wing, the carbon-fiber racer doesn’t look too different from the FT-1 concept that debuted last year. As for the production Supra, don’t fret: It’s definitely, probably coming soonish, so hopefully we’ll see it at one of the next auto shows. Luckily, you’ll be able to (virtually) drive the GR Racing Concept when it comes to Gran Turismo Sport in April.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from the 2018 Geneva Motor Show.

8
Mar

Trump spurns experts for his video game meeting


Donald Trump is hosting a meeting today, which, according to a White House spokesperson, has been set “to discuss violent video-game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitization in children.” CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted the list of attendees earlier today and it includes members of the video game industry as well as outspoken critics of violent video games. However, as Rolling Stone points out, there aren’t any scientists included in the meeting — a glaring omission if you’re interested in having a truly representative discussion about video games and real-world violence.

Expected attendees at POTUS meeting today to “discuss violent video-game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitization in children,” per WH pic.twitter.com/6y61gTYZbT

— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 8, 2018

Video game industry members attending today’s meeting include ESRB President Pat Vance (who is in fact a woman even though the above image lists her as a man), ESA President Mike Gallagher, ZeniMax Media CEO Robert Altman and Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick. Representing Congress are Senator Marco Rubio and Representatives Vicky Hartzler and Martha Roby. The other three attendees are Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell, Parents Television Council spokesperson Melissa Henson and Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society and Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression and the Psychology of Killing. All three are critics of violent video games and have spoken out against the video game industry.

The problem here is that research doesn’t side with those individuals. Multiple studies have found no connection between video game violence and violence in society — you can read a more in-depth discussion of that research here. And the fact that no scientists in the field will be involved in today’s White House discussion makes it look like the Trump administration is looking for a scapegoat, not a true conversation about the root of the US’ gun violence problem. “I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” Trump said after the Parkland school shooting.

Blaming video games for gun violence has been a hard idea to squash and leaving out relevant research and scientists certainly won’t help matters.

Via: Rolling Stone

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