Tech News Feed

Renewables Will Overtake Coal by Early 2025, Energy Agency Says

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-12-07 02:00
Elena Shao reports via the New York Times: Worldwide, growth in renewable power capacity is set to double by 2027, adding as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the past two decades, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday. Renewables are posed to overtake coal as the largest source of electricity generation by early 2025, the report found, a pattern driven in large part by the global energy crisis linked to the war in Ukraine. "This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point toward a cleaner and more secure energy system," said Fatih Birol, the I.E.A. executive director, in a news release. The expansion of renewable power in the next five years will happen much faster than what the agency forecast just a year ago in its last annual report, said Heymi Bahar, a senior analyst at the I.E.A. and one of the lead authors of the report. The report revised last year's forecast of renewable growth upward by 30 percent after the introduction of new policies by some of the world's largest emitters, like the European Union, the United States and China. While there has been a wartime resurgence in fossil fuel consumption as European countries have scrambled to replace gas from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in February, the effects are likely to be short-lived, the agency said. [...] Instead, over the next five years, the global energy crisis is expected to accelerate renewable energy growth as countries embrace low-emissions technology in response to soaring fossil fuel prices, including wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear power plants, hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles and electric heat pumps. Heating and cooling buildings with renewable power is one of the sectors that needs to see larger improvement, the report said. The United States passed the Inflation Reduction Act this year, a landmark climate and tax law that, among many investments to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, made an "unforeseen" expansion in long-term tax credits for solar and wind projects extending through 2032, Mr. Bahar said. Previously, these tax credits had been revised a few years at a time. Extending the credits until 2032 provides better certainty for investors, which is important in the energy industry, Mr. Bahar said. China alone is forecast to install almost half of the new global renewable power capacity over the next five years, based on targets set in the country's new five-year plan. Even still, the country is accelerating coal mining and production at coal-burning power plants.

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Microsoft vows to bring 'Call of Duty' to Nintendo consoles

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 00:30

Microsoft vows to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo and to continue making it available on the latter's consoles for 10 years if its Activision Blizzard acquisition pushes through. Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming's CEO, has announced the company's commitment on Twitter, adding that "Microsoft is committed to helping bring more games to more people — however they choose to play." Spencer previously said during an interview that the company intends to treat Call of Duty like Minecraft that's available across platforms and that he would "love to see [the game]" on the Switch. A 10-year commitment potentially means that the franchise will also be released for the current Switch's successors. 

In addition, Spencer has announced on Twitter that Microsoft will continue to offer CoD on Steam, alongside the Xbox, after the deal is closed. As The New York Times says, this announcement could be a move to appease the Federal Trade Commission and to get regulators on their side. The publication says the FTC is expected to discuss the acquisition in a closed-door meeting on Thursday, where the agency will decide whether to take steps to block the deal. 

Microsoft has entered into a 10-year commitment to bring Call of Duty to @Nintendo following the merger of Microsoft and Activision Blizzard King.  Microsoft is committed to helping bring more games to more people – however they choose to play. @ATVI_AB

— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) December 7, 2022

A recent report by Politico claimed that Microsoft failed to convince the FTC staff reviewing the acquisition with its arguments and that the commission will likely file an antitrust lawsuit to block it as soon as this month. The FTC is reportedly concerned the purchase would give Microsoft an unfair advantage and that it would reduce competition in the market. 

In an opinion piece written for The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft President Brad Smith defended the acquisition and argued that it's good for gamers. FTC suing to block the deal "would be a huge mistake," he said, and would hurt competition in the industry instead. Smith also said that Microsoft offered Sony, the loudest dissenting voice to the merger, a 10-year contract ensuring all new CoD releases would be available on the PlayStation the same day they go out for the Xbox. "We're open to providing the same commitment to other platforms and making it legally enforceable by regulators in the US, UK and European Union," he wrote. Whether these efforts are enough to assure regulators that the purchase wouldn't be detrimental to the industry remains to be seen. 

Microsoft Announces 10-Year Deal to Bring Call of Duty to Nintendo Consoles - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 00:11
Microsoft stated it was keen to strike a similar deal with Sony.

Dwarf Fortress' Graphical Upgrade Provides a New Way Into a Wildly Wonky Game

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-12-06 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica, written by Kevin Purdy: Available tomorrow on Steam and, the new version of Dwarf Fortress updates the legendary (and legendarily arcane) colony-building roguelike with new pixel-art graphics, music, some (default) keyboard shortcuts, and a beginners' tutorial. The commercial release aims to do two things: make the game somewhat more accessible and provide Tarn and Zach Adams, the brothers who maintained the game as a free download for 20 years, some financial security. I know it has succeeded at its first job, and I suspect it will hit the second mark, too. I approached the game as a head-first review expedition into likely frustrating territory. Now I find myself distracted from writing about it because I keep thinking about my goblin defense and whether the fisherdwarf might be better assigned to gem crafting. "For me, the commercial release of Dwarf Fortress succeeded at transforming the game from a grim, time-killing in-joke for diehards into a viable, if not graceful, challenge," writes Purdy. "I will start again, I will keep the badgers and floods at bay, and next time, I might have the privilege of failing to a magma monster, an outbreak of disease, or even a miscarriage of dwarf justice." Further reading: The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress (Slashdot, 2011) Dwarf Fortress Gets Biggest Update In Years (Slashdot, 2014)

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Real-ID Requirement Pushed Back To 2025

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-12-06 21:02
frdmfghtr shares a report from NBC News: The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it is extending the deadline to require Real ID-compliant identification for air travelers, pushing the start date from May 3, 2023, to May 7, 2025. The deadline for the new IDs has already been extended previously. While time extensions in the past were caused by a lack of full state compliance with the requirements for issuing the more secure driver's licenses, the deadline was previously pushed from October 2021 to this coming May, officials said at the time, because the pandemic had made it harder for people to get into state motor vehicle departments to obtain the new identifications. "For those who aren't aware, this requirement came about after the 9/11 attacks way back in 2001, supposedly required to make the IDs harder to counterfeit," adds Slashdot reader frdmfghtr in a comment. "If the requirement has been pushed out repeatedly to almost 20 years after the original deadline, then it could not have been that necessary." In 2005, the U.S. Senate passed the Real ID act 100-0. It was included in the $82 billion Iraq Supplemental Spending Bill. In an article from 2006, Ars Technica detailed some of the financial and technological challenges associated with implementing the act.

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Apple Music Is Getting a Karaoke Mode

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-12-06 20:25
Apple on Tuesday announced Apple Music Sing, a karaoke experience that will be built right into the Apple Music app. The Verge reports: With Apple Music Sing, you'll be able to follow along with Apple Music's real-time lyrics and adjust the volume of the vocals so that you can better hear your singing voice. There are a few features designed to make it easier to sing with others, too. Background vocals can appear independently of main vocals, according to Apple, and there will be a duet view as well if you want to sing along with a friend. Apple will have more than 50 "dedicated companion playlists" featuring karaoke-ready songs that you can pick from. Apple Music Sing is launching "later this month" for Apple Music subscribers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Winamp Update Adds Features, Fixes, and (Sigh) Support For 'Music NFTs'

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-12-06 19:45
The release candidate for Winamp version 5.9.1 builds on the groundwork laid by August's 5.9 update to fix some bugs and add new features to the reanimated music player. "Most of these are straightforward updates or improvements to existing features, but because it's 2022, one of the only new features is support for music NFTs," reports Ars Technica. From the report: "Winamp's latest version lets music fans link their Metamask wallet via Brave, Chrome, or Firefox to Winamp. It then connects their favorite music NFTs to their tried-and-true player," the company said in a press release provided to Ars. "Winamp supports audio and video files distributed under both the ERC-721 and ERC-1155 standards, and is launching this new feature for Ethereum and Polygon/Matic protocols." To directly display websites needed to download these NFT playlists, according to the release notes, would require an updated rendering engine for Winamp's in-app browser, which is currently based on Internet Explorer 10. There's still plenty here for legacy Winamp fans to like, and it's nice to see that all the modernization work done in the 5.9 update is paying off in the form of faster updates. Among many other fixes, the new release includes a "memory footprint reduction," a bandwidth increase for streamed music, an update to OpenSSL 3.0.5, and a few other updates for the underlying codecs and other software that Winamp uses to do its thing. As for the NFT support, Winamp developer Eddy Richman (who goes by the handle "DJ Egg" on the Winamp forums) wrote that people who don't want it can remove it, either during the install process or after Winamp is installed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Search Adds Topic Buttons to Help You Sharpen Queries - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-12-06 19:15
New suggestions pop up below the search field on mobile and are meant to help people get more-specific answers.

Scientists Stumble on Shark Graveyard at Bottom of Indian Ocean - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-12-06 19:11
Voyages of Australia's RV Investigator research vessel have also discovered a never-before-seen species.

Remote Work Is Gutting Downtowns, Will Cost Cities $453 Billion

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-12-06 19:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Insider: Deserted downtowns have been haunting US cities since the beginning of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, 95% of offices were occupied. Today that number is closer to 47%. Employees' not returning to downtown offices has had a domino effect: Less foot traffic, less public-transit use, and more shuttered businesses have caused many downtowns to feel more like ghost towns. Even 2 1/2 years later, most city downtowns aren't back to where they were prepandemic. [...] The increased cancellations of office leases have cratered the office real-estate market. A study led by Arpit Gupta, a professor of finance at New York University's Stern School of Business, characterized the value wipeout as an "apocalypse." It estimated that $453 billion in real-estate value would be lost across US cities, with a 17-percentage-point decline in lease revenue from January 2020 to May 2022. The shock to real-estate valuations has been sharp: One building in San Francisco's Mission District that sold for $397 million in 2019 is on the market for about $155 million, a 60% decline. Other key indicators that economists use to measure the economic vitality of downtowns include office vacancy rates, public-transportation ridership, and local business spending. Across the country, public-transportation ridership remains stuck at about 70% of prepandemic levels. If only 56% of employees of financial firms in New York are in the office on a given day, the health of a city's urban core is negatively affected. The second-order effects of remote work and a real-estate apocalypse are still playing out, but it isn't looking good. Declines in real-estate valuations lead to lower property taxes, which affects the revenue collected to foot the bill of city budgets. Declines in foot traffic have deteriorated business corridors; a recent survey by the National League of Cities suggested cities expect at least a 2.5% decline in sales-tax receipts and a 4% decline in revenue for fiscal 2022. "The solution to the office-housing conundrum seems obvious: Turn commercial spaces like offices into housing. Empty offices can become apartments to ease housing pressure while also bringing more people back to downtown areas," reports Insider. "But after two years, few buildings have been converted." According to the report, it's being hampered by hard-to-justify construction costs and local housing rules. "Overall, combating the death of downtowns requires a reworking of how we think about cities and the value they provide," the report says. "The urban author Jane Jacobs proclaimed in her famous 1958 article for Fortune magazine, 'Downtown Is for People,' that "'there is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.'" "The economic health of cities is intrinsically linked to how space is used or unused, and right now downtowns are undergoing a massive shift. Despite the sluggish movement, it's in cities' best interest to figure out how to quickly convert office-centric downtowns into something more suitable for everyone."

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SpaceX to Launch Starshield, Support National Security Efforts - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-12-06 18:44
It's like Starlink, but for the government.

Wednesday Addams' Wild Viral Dance From 'Wednesday' Is All Over TikTok - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-12-06 18:38
If you're serious about mastering the dance from the Netflix show, you can even get an online lesson from a professional dancer.

NASA's Mars Helicopter Flies High, Sets Altitude Record - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-12-06 18:30
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a freakin' helicopter on Mars making history.

FTC Probes 'Possible Misconduct' In Cryptocurrency Advertising

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-12-06 18:20
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating several unnamed crypto firms over deceptive or misleading crypto advertising, according to a Bloomberg report. Decrypt reports: "We are investigating several firms for possible misconduct concerning digital assets," the FTC spokeswoman Juliana Gruenwald Henderson said in a statement. Henderson declined to share further information about which firms are the subject of the probe or what had prompted the Commission to launch investigations. According to the FTC's website, "when consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it's on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence." Additionally, the agency enforces laws that require truth in advertising, including rules that individuals disclose when they have been paid for endorsements or reviews. "While we can't comment on current events in the crypto markets or the details of any ongoing investigations, we are investigating several firms for possible misconduct concerning digital assets" an FTC spokesperson told Decrypt.

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The Most Badass Off-Road EV Comes From Scotland - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-12-06 18:17
The Munro Mk 1 is an EV built for a tough life off the beaten path.

This EV Is Built for a Tough Life Off Road - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-12-06 18:17
Meet Scotland's Munro Mk 1 electric off-roader.

Supersonic Travel Without the Sonic Boom: Inside NASA's X-59 Plane - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-12-06 18:15
Imagine being able to fly across the world, faster than the speed of sound. With its X-59 aircraft, NASA could open the door to the return of supersonic travel, this time without the explosive boom.

How to Access Your Duolingo Year in Review - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-12-06 17:45
It's sort of like Spotify Wrapped for nerds, with more of a report card vibe.