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Whatever happened to the NHS contact-tracing app?

BBC Technology News - June 5, 2020 - 1:52pm
The app, first tested on the Isle of Wight, had been expected to be rolled out at the end of May.

Coronavirus: National Rail to offer 'busy station' alerts

BBC Technology News - June 5, 2020 - 1:34pm
Rail passengers will be warned if trains or stations are busy, to aid social distancing.

From Zelda to Civ to Frostpunk—can climate change be fun?

Ars Technica - June 5, 2020 - 12:30pm

For decades now, video games have concerned themselves with the end of things. From the bombed-out nuclear wasteland of Washington, DC in Fallout 3 to the flooded Hyrule of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, popular games have explored the concept of the apocalypse with both goofy humor and stark seriousness, often revealing unpleasant truths in the process. So perhaps it’s no surprise that as the all-too-real climate change crisis continues to creep towards a breaking point—even as the ongoing public health disaster known as COVID-19 eclipses it in the public imagination—video game developers are taking steps to systematize the ways that rising sea levels or other ecological catastrophes might overwhelm us in the coming years.

While many of these climate changed-focused games focus on depicting the dire future that experts predict if we refuse to radically alter our behavior patterns, others are a bit more traditional in their approach. And some notable game-makers like Firaxis Games (Civilization) and 11-Bit Studios (This War of Mine) are drawing inspiration from climate-change to craft ludic dilemmas that force players to make radical decisions in the face of overwhelming odds. In other words: if these studios can't necessarily make living through the apocalypse as fun as it sounds, they can at least make it interesting.

The picturesque environments of Civ6 were about to experience some hardships.

A game that can do both

To be fair, climate scientists have understood for years now that video games have a unique ability to communicate the stakes and severity of this global crisis to a mass audience. Historically, many of these games fit well-within the strategy genre, and developers have tried different approaches to lure players in. For example, the commercial game Fate of the World often overwhelms new players with the heft of its interlocking systems: make a few bad decisions early on, and you'll quickly find yourself hurtling towards a bad ending. All you can do then is apply the lessons learned to a future playthrough. On the other hand, educational fare like the underwater exploration sim Beyond Blue lean more towards accessibility. By focusing on the specific effects of climate change—in this case, the destruction of the Earth's oceans—the game can communicate the costs of a warming climate to a wider audience.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Rocket Report: Falcon 9 leaps forward; a gator and a Dragon

Ars Technica - June 5, 2020 - 12:00pm

Enlarge / Falcon 9 lifts off on its most important mission to date: carrying NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into orbit. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

Welcome to Edition 3.03 of the Rocket Report! We just passed a week of the highest of highs, with Saturday's Crew Dragon launch, and the lowest of lows, as this country's racial prejudice was laid bare. Jeff Manber, the CEO of Nanoracks, said it well: "The space community can, and must, do better to become part of the solution to the horrific challenges America faces today." We agree.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Vega set for return-to-flight mission. After an in-flight accident in July 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic, Arianespace has resumed preparations for the Vega rocket's return to service mission. This launch will also demonstrate the rocket's utility as a platform for rideshare missions. Launch is targeted for June 18, local time, NASASpaceflight.com reports.

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Advanced SystemCare Free

ZDnet Blogs - June 5, 2020 - 11:51am
Advanced SystemCare is an all-in-one yet easy-to-use software to clean, optimize, speed up, and protect your PC and your privacy. The...
Categories: Opinion

Coronavirus: NHS contact-tracing app in place by end of month, says minister

BBC Technology News - June 5, 2020 - 10:47am
The app will "be running as soon as we think it is robust", a government minister says.

‘Venus flytrap hand’ has gentle touch and other tech news

BBC Technology News - June 5, 2020 - 7:05am
BBC Click's Paul Carter looks at some of the best of the week's technology news stories.

A lost Maxis “Sim” game has been discovered by an Ars reader, uploaded for all

Ars Technica - June 5, 2020 - 6:33am

Wow. It may only be an incomplete prototype, but in a breathtaking span of time, SimRefinery has gone from a seemingly lost legend to a playable, downloadable video game. (That's its real, full-resolution opening screen, as captured using a DOSBox emulator.) And it's all thanks to an Ars Technica commenter. (credit: archive.org / Maxis / Chevron)

We at Ars Technica are proud to be members of video game archiving history today. SimRefinery, one of PC gaming's most notoriously "lost" video games, now exists as a fully playable game—albeit an unfinished one—thanks to an Ars Technica reader commenting on the story of its legend.

Two weeks ago, I reported on a story about Maxis Business Solutions, a subdivision of the game developer Maxis created in the wake of SimCity's booming success. Librarian and archivist Phil Salvador published an epic, interview-filled history of one of the game industry's earliest examples of a "serious" gaming division, which was formed as a way to cash in on major businesses' interest in using video games as work-training simulators.

As Salvador wrote in May:

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Iran- and China-backed phishers try to hook the Trump and Biden campaigns

Ars Technica - June 5, 2020 - 2:29am

Enlarge (credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker)

State-backed hackers from Iran and China recently targeted the presidential campaigns of Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, a Google threat analyst said on Thursday.

The revelation is the latest evidence of foreign governments attempting to gain intelligence on US politicians and potentially disrupt or meddle in their election campaigns. An Iran-backed group targeted the Trump campaign, and China-backed attackers targeted the Biden campaign, said Shane Huntley, the head of Google’s Threat Analysis Group on Twitter. Both groups used phishing emails. There’s no indication that either attack campaign succeeded.

Kittens and Pandas

Huntley identified the Iranian group that targeted Trump’s campaign as APT35, short for Advanced Persistent Threat 35. Also known as Charming Kitten, iKittens, and Phosphorous, the group was caught targeting an unnamed presidential campaign before, Microsoft said last October. In that campaign, Phosphorous members attempted to access email accounts campaign staff received through Microsoft cloud services. Microsoft said that the attackers worked relentlessly to gather information that could be used to activate password resets and other account-recovery services Microsoft provides.

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A detective hunts a costumed vigilante in Major Grom: Plague Doctor trailer

Ars Technica - June 5, 2020 - 2:16am

Major Grom: Plague Doctor is adapted from the Russian comics of the same name.

A rogue detective who doesn't always play by the rules hunts a costumed vigilante serial killer in the first English-language trailer (well, subtitled) for a Russian superhero film called Major Grom: Plague Doctor, directed by Oleg Trofim (Ice). There's some pretty strong The Punisher vibes here, as well as V for Vendetta. The Major Grom comic books, created by Artem Gabrelyanov, have been likened to the early Batman comics in tone, which might explain the Dark Knight overtones as well.

(Some spoilers for the Russian comics below.)

The original Major Grom comics were published between 2012 and 2015, later spawning several spinoffs. The protagonist is Major Igor Grom, a detective in St. Petersburg who has mean martial arts skills and takes part in the occasional amateur boxing competition (aka Russian Fight Club). He has a tendency to bend the rules, which irritates his young rookie partner, Dmitry "Dima" Dubin, who prefers to play things by the book. Grom's love interest is an investigative reporter named Yulia Pchelkina, whose skill set proves useful in helping solve Grom's various comic book cases. A billionaire social media mogul named Sergey Razumovsky is Grom's archnemesis. Razumovsky is a philanthropist by day but murders homeless people by night, all in the name of cleaning up St. Petersburg.

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Comic for June 04, 2020

Dilbert - June 5, 2020 - 12:59am
Categories: Geek

Anti-Racism Sites Hit By Wave of Cyberattacks

Slashdot - June 5, 2020 - 12:15am
Categories: Geek, Opinion

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