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White House draft order directs probes into tech giants: Bloomberg

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Swiss investigate alleged Russian cyber attack on World Anti-Doping Agency

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Tencent shuts poker platform amid widening gaming crackdown

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By Pei Li and Adam Jourdan

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BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Tencent Holdings will shut a popular Texas Hold’Em poker video game, the Chinese tech giant said to its users on Monday, in a further step to comply with intensifying government scrutiny hitting the country’s gaming industry.

Tencent said it would formally begin to shutter “Everyday Texas Hold’Em” from Monday and would closer the game’s server from Sept 25. Tencent would compensate users in accordance with regulations of Ministry of Culture.

The Shenzhen-based company, which draws a huge amount of its profit from gaming, is facing mounting challenges this year from stringent regulation and government censorship. It has had to pull one blockbuster game and seen others censured.

The company’s market value slumped by around $20 billion in one day last month over concerns that China would limit gaming after a crackdown on online games citing rising levels of myopia.

A Tencent spokesman said the plan to shutter the game was a “business adjustment” but declined to comment further.

Tencent logged its first quarterly profit decline in nearly 13 years in August, citing issues about getting popular games approved.

Founded in 1998, the firm’s main business is video games but it also runs China’s dominant social network, WeChat, with more than 1 billion users.

A person in Tencent’s gaming division, who did not want to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly, told Reuters it was not a surprise that chess and card games were falling victim first as they were more closely associated with gambling, which is illegal in mainland China.

Texas Hold’Em is one of the most popular forms of poker, where multiple players use mind games, bluff and predict their opponents’ behavior to win money in the pot. The game originated in Texas in the early 1900s.

Last year, Tencent had to amend a gory, battle royale-style game, “Playerunknown’s Battleground”, because it “severely deviated from socialist core values”.

(Reporting by Pei Li and Adam Jourdan, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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Top 5 Tallest Athletes In The World

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When sports buffs open a debate about the tallest athlete of all time, the first name tends to be Manute Bol.

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Standing 7 feet and 7 inches, the former NBA star who played for the Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and others is actually the second tallest NBA player of all time.

If that bit of trivia piques your interest, these are the tallest athletes in a variety of sports.

Metcalf Towered Over Rugby

Rugby is well-known for its tough guys and speedsters. But Richard Metcalf was head and shoulders above the rest.

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Born in Leeds, Scotland, Metcalf was an imposing 7 feet playing on teams that included the Newcastle Falcons, Northampton Saints, Edinburgh, Scotland and The Borders.

He earned 13 Scotland caps from 2000 to 2002 and was approximately six inches taller than the average league player from 1995 to 2003.

Tallest Pro Wrestler Was A Giant

Trivia buffs routinely name Andre the Giant as the tallest professional wrestler of all time. Although he was wonderful in “The Princess Bride” film, the king of the ring was actually Jorge “Giant Gonzales.”

 

Andre was an imposing 7 feet 4 inches. Gonzales hit the 8-foot mark and was a former basketball player. Although drafted by the NBA Atlanta Hawks, he could not adapt to pro basketball and turned to wrestling. Born in Argentina, his pro career spanned from 1989 to 1995.

Haymakers From Above

The boxing world has seen its share of mighty mites. But none topped Russia’s Nikolai Valuev.

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The 7-foot heavyweight champion won the WBA belt in 2005 after a 12-round decision over John Ruiz. From 1993 to 2009, he amassed a record of 50 wins, 2 losses and 1 no contest with 34 KOs. At 328 pounds, he also remains the heaviest heavyweight of all time.

A Tad Taller Than Bol

Yes, the tallest NBA player of all time was Gheorghe Mureșan, who also stood at 7 feet 7 inches. Official measurements put Muresan just a tad taller than Manute Bol.

Gheorghe Mureșan – NBA Record Il 14 Febbraio del 1971 nasceva nella remota regione rumena della Transilvania Gheorghe Mureșan, ovvero il giocatore più alto in assoluto ad aver mai calcato un parquet NBA. Nella stagione 1995/1996, giocata tra le fila degli allora Washington Bullets, il gigante rumeno riuscì a portarsi a casa il premio di Most Improved Player, ovvero di giocatore più migliorato rispetto alla stagione precedente, tenendo delle medie di tutto rispetto: 14,5 punti, 9,6 rimbalzi (di cui 3,3 offensivi) e 2,3 stoppate con il 58% dal campo in appena 29,5 minuti di impiego. A dispetto di quanto si possa pensare, il suo fisico è stato più un ostacolo che un aiuto per poter giocare a basket. La sua notevole mole, infatti, lo rese soggetto ad innumerevoli infortuni nel corso della sua carriera, a causa dei quali fu costretto al ritiro nemmeno trentenne. Dopo aver tentato, con poco successo a dire il vero, la carriera cinematografica, si è stabilizzato con la famiglia negli Stati Uniti, collaborando di tanto in tanto con l’area marketing degli Washington Wizards. Ad ogni modo, qualunque cosa farà nella sua vita, e fino a quando un altro super gigante non busserà alla porta della NBA, Gheorghe Muresan verrà sempre ricordato per essere il giocatore più alto (231 cm) ad aver mai giocato nella più importante lega di basket al mondo. #nba #nbahistory #gheorghemuresan #muresan #romania #washingtonbullets #1995 #hollywood #mip #basket #basketball #sports

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The Romanian star also played for the Washington Bullets in 1993. Although the pair crossed paths, they didn’t take the court together in what could have been an epic show of height.

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Apple Denies Conspiracy Theory That iPhones ‘Listen’ to Conversations

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Tim Cook has criticized Facebook in previous comments and said his company’s position is that privacy as a “human right.”

Apple says that no, iPhones do not secretly users’ record conversations — nor do the smartphones “listen” in on their conversations.

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By Todd Spangler  LOS ANGELES (Variety)

FILE PHOTO: Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc., visits the Apple Store in Chicago

The tech giant was responding to an inquiry from the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee about consumer-privacy concerns involving ’s products. In their query to Apple, the lawmakers cited reports third-party developers had the ability to collect “non-triggered” audio from “users’ conversations near a smartphone in order to hear a ‘trigger’ phrase.”

“ doesn’t listen to consumers, except to recognize the clear, unambiguous audio trigger ‘Hey Siri,’” Apple said in the Aug. 7 letter, addressed to Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The on-device speech recognizer on iPhones runs in a “short buffer,” and does not record or send any audio to unless a user triggers the voice-recognition app, according to Apple. In addition, the company requires developers to obtain consent to access a user’s microphone and that they present a visual indicator when iPhones are collection audio info.

An electronic screen displays the Apple Inc. logo on the exterior of the Nasdaq Market Site following the close of the day’s trading session in New York City

The U.S. reps had also asked Apple directly whether iPhones “collect audio recordings of users without consent,” to which the company responded simply, “No.”

“We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data,” Timothy Powderly, Apple’s director of federal governmental affairs, wrote in the letter. “The customer is not our product, and our business model does not depend on vast amounts of personally identifiable information to enrich targeted profiles marketed to advertisers.”

The subtext: Apple is not like Facebook, which has been the focus of U.S. investigations in the wake of revelations that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained data in millions of Facebook users.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook speaks at the Apple Worldwide Developer conference in San Jose

Apple CEO Tim Cook has criticized Facebook in previous comments and said his company’s position is that privacy as a “human right.” When asked in an interview for MSNBC’s “Revolution” series what he would do if he were in Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s shoes following the revelations about Cambridge Analytica, Cook responded , “What would I do? I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee also in July sent a similar letter inquiring about Google’s Android devices to Alphabet CEO Larry Page. It’s not known whether Alphabet has responded.

As part of its response to the committee, Apple said it has removed apps from the App Store over privacy violations and that developers must notify users when an app is removed for privacy reasons. However, the company also noted, “Apple does not and cannot monitor what developers do with the customer data they have collected” — with the permission of users — “or prevent the onward transfer of that data.”

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‘Fortnite’ Opens Doors to 250 Million More Players This Summer

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The incredibly popular battle royale video game “Fortnite” opens its doors to another 250 million or so players when it arrives this summer on Android, the founder and president of the developer behind the gaming phenomenon told Variety.

By Brian Crecente LOS ANGELES (Variety) –

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Tim Sweeney calls that potential jump in players modest compared to the 2.5 billion devices in the hands of consumers.
Our expectations for 2018 are modest because ‘’ requires a recent high-end Android smartphone,” he said. “‘Fortnite’ brings the game’s full PC and console experience to Android; of the roughly 2.5 billion Android devices, we estimate around 250 million are Fortnite-ready.”

In June, Epic announced that 125 million people have installed “Fortnite” since its launch in 2017. Analysts say the game makes an estimated $300 million a month for Epic Games, though Epic declined to comment on revenue.

FILE PHOTO: The Fortnite booth is shown at E3, the world’s largest video game industry convention in Los Angeles

The Android version of the game will include full cross play and cross progression support with PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, and iOS, Sweeney said. Initially, the Android version will not support the use of controllers and will block the use of a keyboard and mouse to “
ensure all players compete on a level playing field,” Sweeney said.

“In time, we’d like to support both, and matchmake with players having similar controls — for example Android+controller users playing with console players, rather than Android touchscreen players.”

Currently, “Fortnite” is available on Windows, Mac, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox, and Apple’s iPhone.
Once “Fortnite” hits Android, the game will essentially be on all major platforms that play games.

Variety 
asked if the company has thought about focusing on augmented and virtual reality next.

“We don’t have plans, but we’re thinking a lot about AR and VR possibilities,” Sweeney said. He also noted that there are no plans to bring the other major element of “Fortnite,” Save the World, to mobile.

“Fortnite’s” massive fanbase, which includes a large number of actors, professional athletes, and other celebrities, have given the title and its creator the ability to push the bounds regarding the way the game evolves, makes money, and, most recently, is sold.

When the game comes to Android, it won’t be through the Google Store. Sweeney said that’s because Epic wants to have a “direct relationship with our customers on all platforms where that’s possible.”

“The great thing about the internet and the digital revolution is that this is possible, now that physical storefronts and middlemen distributors are no longer required,” he told Variety

. “Second, we’re motivated by economic efficiency. The 30% store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70% must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games. There’s a rationale for this on console where there’s enormous investment in hardware, often sold below cost, and marketing campaigns in broad partnership with publishers. But on open platforms, 30% is disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service. We’re intimately familiar with these costs from our experience operating ‘Fortnite’ as a direct-to-customer service on PC and Mac.”

On PC and Mac, Fortnite is downloaded through an launcher downloaded directly from the developer’s website. The same will be true for Android. Eventually, that Fortnite launcher, which will only be available to download for free from Epic, may bring others of the studio’s games to Android. That’s how the company now releases its titles to Mac and PC.

And Sweeney said he hopes to continue to work with Google on this effort. He noted that Epic discussed their approach to “Fortnite” with Google prior to announcing that it wouldn’t be made available on Google’s storefront.
Google built Android as an open platform, and we’re eager to work closely with them to further Android as a platform that brings console-quality games to smartphones,” he said.

He also noted that Epic has paid close attention to how it can ensure customer safety when essentially sideloading an app onto an Android device.

“The core of Android security is its system for use permissions — users can opt in or out of installing software and granting permissions to that software — for example, permission to access the microphone,” he said. “‘Fortnite’ works seamlessly with that. We’re also working to educate users to only install software from sources they trust, and that the only way to download ‘Fortnite’ on the web is through
epicgames.com.”

While the game will be made available directly through Epic for Android devices, it still goes through iTunes on iOS, meaning that collects a percentage of sales on that device.

Sweeney told Variety that he’d like to find a way to also publish “Fortnite” directly on iOS devices, but it sounds like he doesn’t have any plans yet.

“We’d like to see Apple open up iOS to installation of software and third-party software from the web,” he said. “It doesn’t seem right that a platform with a billion devices sold is locked to a single store and single in-app commerce service.”

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