Posted by Kotaku Staff from Kotaku
Looking to take your first steps into Square Enix’s acclaimed and newly expanded MMO, Final Fantasy 14? We’ve got you covered with some great beginner guides. We’ve also got tips for Palworld, Once Human, and The First Descendant, as well as recommendations for games to pick up before the Xbox 360 online store shuts…

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Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the school-daze department: This week the Computer Science Teachers Association conference kicked off Tuesday in Las Vegas, writes long-time Slashdot reader theodp.
And the "TeachAI" education initiative teamed with the Computer Science Teachers Association to release three briefs "arguing that K-12 computer science education is more important than ever in an age of AI."

From the press release: "As AI becomes increasingly present in the classroom, educators are understandably concerned about how it might disrupt the teaching of core CS skills like programming. With these briefs, TeachAI and CSTA hope to reinforce the idea that learning to program is the cornerstone of computational thinking and an important gateway to the problem-solving, critical thinking, and creative thinking skills necessary to thrive in today's digitally driven world. The rise of AI only makes CS education more important."

To help drive home the point to educators, the 39-page Guidance on the Future of Computer Science Education in an Age of AI (penned by five authors from nonprofits CSTA and Code.org) includes a pretty grim comic entitled Learn to Program or Follow Commands. In the panel, two high school students who scoff at the idea of having to learn to code and instead use GenAI to create their Python apps wind up getting stuck in miserable warehouse jobs several years later as a result where they're ordered about by an AI robot.

"The rise of AI only makes CS education more important," according to the group's press release, "with early research showing that people with a greater grasp of underlying computing concepts are able to use AI tools more effectively than those without." A survey by the group also found that 80% of teachers "agree that core concepts in CS education should be updated to emphasize topics that better support learning about AI."

But I'd be curious to hear what Slashdot's readers think. Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments.

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Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the fast-energy department: The pace of China's clean energy transition "is roughly the equivalent of installing five large-scale nuclear power plants worth of renewables every week," according to a report from Australia's national public broadcaster ABC (shared by long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo):

A report by Sydney-based think tank Climate Energy Finance (CEF) said China was installing renewables so rapidly it would meet its end-of-2030 target by the end of this month — or 6.5 years early.

It's installing at least 10 gigawatts of wind and solar generation capacity every fortnight...

China accounts for about a third of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. A recent drop in emissions (the first since relaxing COVID-19 restrictions), combined with the decarbonisation of the power grid, may mean the country's emissions have peaked. "With the power sector going green, emissions are set to plateau and then progressively fall towards 2030 and beyond," CEF China energy policy analyst Xuyang Dong said... [In China] the world's largest solar and wind farms are being built on the western edge of the country and connected to the east via the world's longest high-voltage transmission lines...

Somewhat counterintuitively, China has built dozens of coal-fired power stations alongside its renewable energy zones, to maintain the pace of its clean energy transition. China was responsible for 95 per cent of the world's new coal power construction activity last year. The new plants are partly needed to meet demand for electricity, which has gone up as more energy-hungry sectors of the economy, like transport, are electrified. The coal-fired plants are also being used, like the batteries and pumped hydro, to provide a stable supply of power down the transmission lines from renewable energy zones, balancing out the intermittent solar and wind.

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Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the we-do-not-forget department: Slashdot covered Barrett Brown back in 2011 and 2012. The New York Times calls him "an activist associated with the hacker group Anonymous, and a political prisoner recently denied asylum in Britain, all of which sounds a bit dreary until we hear tell of it through Brown's unhinged self-regard."
They're reviewing Brown's "extraordinary" new memoir, My Glorious Defeats: Hacktivist, Narcissist, Anonymous," a book they call "deranged, hyperbolic, and true."

A "machine" that focuses attention on little-known social issues, Anonymous has gone after the Church of Scientology, Koch Industries, websites hosting child pornography and the Westboro Baptist Church. The public tends to be confused by nebulous digital activities, so it was, in the collective's heyday, helpful to have Brown act as a translator between the hackers and mainstream journalists. "The year 2011 ended as it began," he writes, "with a sophisticated hack on a state-affiliated corporation that ostensibly dealt in straightforward security and analysis while secretly engaging in black ops campaigns against activists who'd proven troublesome to powerful clients."

This particular corporation was Stratfor, a company that spied on activists for the government... Brown waited for the feds to come back and drag him to jail. He also says he tried to get off suboxone in order to avoid the painful possibility of prison withdrawal, and stopped taking Paxil, inducing a manic state, all of which is given as explanation for his regrettable next move, which was to set up a camera and start talking. The feds had threatened his mother, he told the internet, and in response he was threatening Robert Smith, the lead agent on his case. He found himself in custody the same night.

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Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the spy-where department: 2017 Slashdot headline: "People Keep Finding Hidden Cameras in Their Airbnbs."

Nearly seven years later, CNN launched their own investigation of "Airbnb's hidden camera problem".

CNN: "Across North America, police have seized thousands of images from hidden cameras at Airbnb rentals, including people's most intimate moments... It's more than just a few reported cases. And Airbnb knows it's a problem. In this deposition reviewed by CNN, an Airbnb rep said 35,000 customer support tickets about security cameras or recording devices had been documented over a decade. [The deposition estimates "about" 35,000 tickets "within the scope of the security camera and recording devices policy."]

Airbnb told CNN a single complaint can involve multiple tickets.
CNN actually obtained the audio recording of an Airbnb host in Maine admitting to police that he'd photographed a couple having sex using a camera hidden in a clock — and also photographed other couples. And one Airbnb guest told CNN he'd only learned he'd been recorded "because police called him, months later, after another guest found the camera" — with police discovering cameras in every single room in the house, concealed inside smoke detectors. "Part of the challenge is that the technology has gotten so advanced, with these cameras so small that you can't even see them," CNN says.

But even though recording someone without consent is illegal in every state, CNN also found that in this case and others, Airbnb "does not contact law enforcement once hidden cameras are discovered — even if children are involved." Their reporter argues that Airbnb "not only fails to protect its guests — it works to keep complaints out of the courts and away from the public."

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Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny department: "If there is no alternative, then the whole thing can collapse around you," says Ron Delnevo. He's the chair of The Payment Choice Alliance, "which campaigns against the move towards a cashless society."

He's part of those arguing "the chaos caused by the global IT outage last week underlines the risk of moving towards a cashless society," writes the Observer:

Authorities in China and the US have fined businesses for not accepting cash. Delnevo said the U.K. should have a law requiring all businesses to take cash. Martin Quinn, campaign director for the PCA, said using cash allowed for anonymity. "I don't want my data sold on, and I don't want banks, credit card companies and even online retailers to know every facet of my life," he said. Budgeting by using cash is also easier for some, he added.

The article includes some interesting statistics from a U.K. bank trade association. "The number of people who never use cash, or use it less than once a month, reached 23.1 million in 2021, but declined to 21.6m last year."

The GMB [general trade] Union said the outage reinforced what it had been saying for years: that "cash is a vital part of how our communities operate". "When you take cash out of the system, people have nothing to fall back on, impacting on how they do the everyday basics."
Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the rejecting-rulings department: SolarWinds still faces some legal action over its infamous 2020 breach, reports NextGov.com. But a U.S. federal judge has dismissed most of the claims from America's Securities and Exchange Commission, which "alleged the company defrauded investors because it deliberately hid knowledge of cyber vulnerabilities in its systems ahead of a major security breach discovered in 2020."

Slashdot reader krakman shares this report from the Washington Post:
"The SEC's rationale, under which the statute must be construed to broadly cover all systems public companies use to safeguard their valuable assets, would have sweeping ramifications," [judge] Engelmayer wrote in a 107-page decision. "It could empower the agency to regulate background checks used in hiring nighttime security guards, the selection of padlocks for storage sheds, safety measures at water parks on whose reliability the asset of customer goodwill depended, and the lengths and configurations of passwords required to access company computers," he wrote. The federal judge also dismissed SEC claims that SolarWinds' disclosures after it learned its customers had been affected improperly covered up the gravity of the breach...

In an era when deeply damaging hacking campaigns have become commonplace, the suit alarmed business leaders, some security executives and even former government officials, as expressed in friend-of-the-court briefs asking that it be thrown out. They argued that adding liability for misstatements would discourage hacking victims from sharing what they know with customers, investors and safety authorities. Austin-based SolarWinds said it was pleased that the judge "largely granted our motion to dismiss the SEC's claims," adding in a statement that it was "grateful for the support we have received thus far across the industry, from our customers, from cybersecurity professionals, and from veteran government officials who echoed our concerns."

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Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the cruel-summer department: Parts of the Persian Gulf "have seen the heat index, or how it feels when factoring in the humidity, reach 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to 65 Celsius)," reports the Washington Post, "fueled by an intense heat dome, the warmest water temperatures in the world and the influence of human-caused climate change."

Temperatures at the Persian Gulf International Airport in Asaluyeh, Iran, climbed to 108 (42 C) on Wednesday and 106 (41 C) on Thursday, with both days recording a peak heat index of 149 (65 C). In Dubai, the temperature topped out at 113 (45 C) on Tuesday and the heat index soared to 144 (62 C). Other extreme heat indexes in recent days include 141 (61 C) in Abu Dhabi and 136 (58 C) at Khasab Air Base in Oman.

Last August, this same region experienced even more extreme heat indexes, climbing as high as 158 degrees (70 C).

The maximum air temperatures this week — generally between 105 and 115 (41 and 46 C) — have only been somewhat above normal. But the dew points — which are a measure of humidity — have been excessive, climbing well into the 80s (27 to 32 C). In the United States, any dew point over 70 degrees (21 C) is considered uncomfortably humid. It's the very high dew points that have propelled heat indexes up to 30 degrees (16 C) above actual air temperatures. The extreme humidity levels are tied to bathtub-like water temperatures in the Persian Gulf, the warmest in the world. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data, sea surface temperatures are as warm as 95 degrees (35 C).
Largely because of the high humidity, nighttime minimum temperatures have also remained exceptionally warm, in many cases staying above 85 (29 C). Temperatures in Iranshar, Iran, only dropped to 97 (36 C) on Wednesday night, its hottest July night on record.
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Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the supply-chain's-weakest-link department: A new report "explores the current state of secure software development," according to an announcement from the Linux Foundation, "and underscores the urgent need for formalized industry education and training programs," noting that many developers "lack the essential knowledge and skills to effectively implement secure software development."
The report analyzes a survey of nearly 400 software development professionals performed by and the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF) and Linux Foundation Research:

Survey findings outlined in the report show nearly one-third of all professionals directly involved in development and deployment — system operations, software developers, committers, and maintainers — self-report feeling unfamiliar with secure software development practices. This is of particular concern as they are the ones at the forefront of creating and maintaining the code that runs a company's applications and systems.

"Time and again we've seen the exploitation of software vulnerabilities lead to catastrophic consequences, highlighting the critical need for developers at all levels to be armed with adequate knowledge and skills to write secure code," said David A. Wheeler, director of open source supply chain security for the Linux Foundation. "Our research found that a key challenge is the lack of education in secure software development. Practitioners are unsure where to start and instead are learning as they go. It is clear that an industry-wide effort to bring secure development education to the forefront must be a priority." OpenSSF offers a free course on developing secure software (LFD121) and encourages developers to start with this course.

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Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the see-what's-next department: An anonymous reader shared this report from CNN:

Netflix will start phasing out its Basic plan, its cheapest advertising-free plan, which costs $11.99 per month in the United States, the company said on Thursday. The company had previously stopped accepting new sign-ups for the Basic plan, instead pushing customers to Netflix's ad-supported plan, which costs $6.99 per month. However, existing users were allowed to keep the basic plan. In January, the company said it would retire its cheapest ad-free tier in Canada and the UK. On Thursday, the company said the US and France are next.

Basic users in the US who want an ad-free viewing experience on Netflix will now have two choices: Netflix's Standard plan, which costs $15.49 per month, and its Premium plan, which costs $22.99 per month...

The company reported a record-high 277.65 million subscribers on its streaming platform Thursday, far outpacing streaming competitors like Disney+, Peacock and Max... Overall, Netflix added 8.05 million new subscribers in its second quarter. Netflix's surge in new subscribers has been fueled in part by the company's effort to push users who share passwords to create their own accounts.
The article adds that Netflix's stock has climbed more than 35% in 2024.
Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the old-OS department: Slashdot reader Thelasko shared Friday's article from Digital Trends:

Nearly every flight in the U.S. is grounded right now following a CrowdStrike system update error that's affecting everything from travel to mobile ordering at Starbucks — but not Southwest Airlines flights. Southwest is still flying high, unaffected by the outage that's plaguing the world today, and that's apparently because it's using Windows 3.1.

Yes, Windows 3.1 — an operating system that is 32 years old. Southwest, along with UPS and FedEx, haven't had any issues with the CrowdStrike outage. In responses to CNN, Delta, American, Spirit, Frontier, United, and Allegiant all said they were having issues, but Southwest told the outlet that its operations are going off without a hitch. Some are attributing that to Windows 3.1. Major portions of Southwest's systems are reportedly built on Windows 95 and Windows 3.1...
Posted by Black Convoy from TFW2005


Thanks to Twitter user @14thPrimeCustom we have in-hand images of the new Transformers One Mainline Race Changers 2-Pack Optimus Prime/Orion Pax & Megatron/D-16. Among all the new Trasnformers One mainline products, this 2-pack got some attention due to the fact that both figures looked like redecos of the old Bot Shots toys. But there’s more than meets the eye here. The comparison images with the original Bot Shots Optimus Prime and Megatron toys reveal that the new Transformers One releases got some slight retools to try to recreate the new design for the movie. Each toy includes a launcher and, despite » Continue Reading.

The post Transformers One Mainline Race Changers 2-Pack Optimus Prime/Orion Pax & Megatron/D-16 In-Hand Images appeared first on Transformer World 2005 - TFW2005.COM.
Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the Firefox-under-fire department: "Many people over the past few days have been lashing out at Mozilla," writes the blog Its FOSS, "for enabling Privacy-Preserving Attribution by default on Firefox 128, and the lack of publicity surrounding its introduction."

Mozilla responded that the feature will only run "on a few sites in the U.S. under strict supervision" — adding that users can disable it at any time ("because this is a test"), and that it's only even enabled if telemetry is also enabled.

And they also emphasize that it's "not tracking." The way it works is there's an "aggregation service" that can periodically send advertisers a summary of ad-related actions — again, aggregated data, from a mass of many other users. (And Mozilla says that aggregated summary even includes "noise that provides differential privacy.") This Privacy-Preserving Attribution concept "does not involve sending information about your browsing activities to anyone... Advertisers only receive aggregate information that answers basic questions about the effectiveness of their advertising."

More from It's FOSS:

Even though Mozilla mentioned that PPA would be enabled by default on Firefox 128 in a few of its past blog posts, they failed to communicate this decision clearly, to a wider audience... In response to the public outcry, Firefox CTO, Bobby Holley, had to step in to clarify what was going on.

He started with how the internet has become a massive cesspool of surveillance, and doing something about it was the primary reason many people are part of Mozilla. He then expanded on their approach with Firefox, which, historically speaking, has been to ship a browser with anti-tracking features baked in to tackle the most common surveillance techniques. But, there were two limitations with this approach. One was that advertisers would try to bypass these countermeasures. The second, most users just accept the default options that they are shown...

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Posted by Kotaku Staff from Kotaku
This week, a Pokémon GO event accidentally reminded us of how much better the game used to be. Also, PSP tactical RPG classic Jeanne d’Arc hit PlayStation Plus and we just had to sing its praises. We also vented about how frustrating trying to become a PC gamer can be, and oohed and ahhed at the wonder of video game…

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Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the goodbye-Bob department: Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes:

Bob Newhart, whose stammering, deadpan unflappability carried him to stardom as a standup comedian and later in television and movies, has died at age 94. He remains best known for the television shows, "The Bob Newhart Show" (1972-78) and "Newhart" (1982-90), both of which were built around his persona as a reasonable man put-upon by crazies. A younger crowd may remember Newhart from his roles in the movie "Elf" (2003) and TV's "The Big Bang Theory" (2013-18). Less known about Newhart is that he was an early Commodore PET owner, recalling for the LA Times in 2001: "I remember leafing through a copy of Popular Science magazine and seeing an ad for a Commodore computer that had 8- or 16 kilobytes [in 1977]. It had an awful-looking screen, and it was $795. I thought I'd better get one because I had sons who were going to be in high school and might want to know about computers. Later, I moved up to the 64 KB model and thought that was silly because it was more memory than I would ever possibly need.

"I got them for the kids and then found I was fascinated by them. The first ones had tape drives. You would get a program like a word processor, put the tape in and then walk away for about a half an hour while the computer loaded it. But the first time I used a spell checker and it corrected a word, I thought, 'We are getting close to God here."
Posted by EditorDavid from Slashdot
From the blade-running department: "More pieces of a broken wind turbine off the coast of Massachusetts are falling into the Atlantic Ocean," reports CBS News on Thursday. "The CEO of Vineyard Wind was at Nantucket's Select Board meeting Wednesday evening, apologizing and answering questions about the initial break when he suddenly had to leave because the situation is getting worse."

CNN reports the debris has been "prompting beach closures and frustrating locals at the peak of the summer season" since the blade broke a week ago, and then folded over:
Since then, foam debris and fiberglass — including some large and dangerously sharp pieces — have washed onto beaches. A "significant part" of the remaining damaged blade detached from the turbine early Thursday morning, Vineyard Wind said in a news release. The US Coast Guard confirmed to CNN it has located a 300-foot piece of the blade.
There are few answers to what caused the turbine to fail, and the incident has prompted questions and anger from city officials and Nantucket residents... The shards of turbine forced officials to close beaches earlier this week, though they have since reopened. [Nantucket select board chair Brooke Mohr] said the town would monitor for additional debris and adjust schedules accordingly. "Public safety is our most immediate concern, these fiberglass pieces are quite sharp," Mohr said, making swimming unsafe...
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Posted by Kotaku Staff from Kotaku
This week saw No Man’s Sky, a game that has repeatedly reinvented itself in the years since its release, get one of its biggest overhauls ever. Not to be outdone, Baldur’s Gate 3 also got a patch that rounds out the game nicely. Also, the FTC responded to Microsoft’s latest Xbox Live price hike, calling it “exactly…

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Posted by Mechafire from TFW2005


About a week after its initial reveal, we now have a new image of third party company Mastermind Creations‘ upcoming R53 Tyrantron, their version of Stormbringer Megatron via Weibo. This is another robot mode shot of him in what appears to be more finalized colors, also showing some accessories at his feet. Check it out after the jump and continue the discussion in the ongoing thread.

The post Mastermind Creations R53 Tyrantron (Stormbringer Megatron) New Image appeared first on Transformer World 2005 - TFW2005.COM.
Posted by BeauHD from Slashdot
From the no-gatorade-required department: Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a "smart soil" that can keep plants better hydrated and provide a controlled release of nutrients. As reported by New Atlas, tests found that it "drastically improved crop growth while using far less water." From the report: The soil gets its "smart" moniker thanks to the addition of a specially formulated hydrogel, which works to absorb more water vapor from the air overnight, then releasing it to the plants' roots during the day. Incorporating calcium chloride into the hydrogel also provides a slow release of this vital nutrient. The team tested the new smart soil in lab experiments, growing plants in 10 grams of soil, with some including 0.1 g of hydrogel. A day/night cycle was simulated, with 12 hours of darkness at 25 C (77 F) and either 60% or 90% relative humidity, followed by 12 hours of simulated sunlight at 35 C (95 F) and 30% humidity.

Sure enough, plants growing in the hydrogel soil showed a 138% boost to their stem length, compared to the control group. Importantly, the hydrogel-grown plants achieved this even while requiring 40% less direct watering. In future work, the team plans to try incorporating other types of fertilizers, and conducting longer field experiments. The research was published in the journal ACS Materials Letters.
Posted by BeauHD from Slashdot
From the satellite-shuffle department: A solar superstorm in May caused thousands of satellites to simultaneously maneuver to maintain altitude due to the thickening of the upper atmosphere, creating potential collision hazards as existing prediction systems struggled to cope. Space.com reports: According to a pre-print paper published on the online repository arXiv on June 12, satellites and space debris objects in low Earth orbit -- the region of space up to an altitude of 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) -- were sinking toward the planet at the speed of 590 feet (180 meters) per day during the four-day storm. To make up for the loss of altitude, thousands of spacecraft began firing their thrusters at the same time to climb back up. That mass movement, the authors of the paper point out, could have led to dangerous situations because collision avoidance systems didn't have time to calculate the satellites' changing paths.

The solar storm that battered Earth from May 7 to 10 reached the intensity of G5, the highest level on the five-step scale used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assess the strength of solar storms. It was the strongest solar storm to hit Earth since 2003. The authors of the paper, however, pointed out that the environment around the planet has changed profoundly since that time. While only a few hundred satellites were orbiting Earth twenty years ago, there are thousands today. The authors of the paper put the number of "active payloads at [low Earth orbit]" at 10,000. [...] The new paper points out that space weather forecasts ahead of the May storm failed to accurately predict the duration and intensity of the event, making satellite collision predictions nearly impossible.

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