Uber Robotaxis Come to Las Vegas, but the Driverless Vehicles Still Have Drivers

For the first time, Uber customers will be able to hail a third-party autonomous vehicle in the company’s app—at least in Las Vegas. The rideshare service is partnering with autonomous vehicle company Motional to offer robotaxi rides in the Nevada city.

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Source: Gizmodo – Uber Robotaxis Come to Las Vegas, but the Driverless Vehicles Still Have Drivers

Genshin Impact’s Great New Card Game Is Becoming My Favorite Time Sink

Genshin Impact’s new in-world card game is a personal attack on what remains of my free time. The rules are simple to learn, but the strategy is incredibly tough to master. And I can’t stop trying new decks. I want to apologize to every one of my coworkers who got sucked into Marvel Snap this year. I’m one of you now,…

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Source: Kotaku – Genshin Impact’s Great New Card Game Is Becoming My Favorite Time Sink

Free 'Mario Kart 8 Deluxe' update lets you choose what power-ups appear during races

At its core, Mario Kart is a game about trolling your friends. So what better way to ratchet up the hijinks than by allowing players to decide what power-ups spawn during races? Nintendo has released a free update for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe that adds custom item selection for offline VS races and select online modes. Want to be a monster and force blue shells on all your friends? Go right ahead. It’s even possible to set specific items for each team in team races and battles.

The free update is the latest show of support for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a five-year-old rerelease of a nearly nine-year-old game. At the start of the year, Nintendo announced it would continue to support Mario Kart 8 Deluxe until the end of 2023 with paid DLC. The company plans to release a total of 48 remastered tracks, all of which can be obtained through the $25 Booster Course Pass.

Source: Engadget – Free ‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’ update lets you choose what power-ups appear during races

[$] Composefs for integrity protection and data sharing

A read-only filesystem that will transparently share file data between disparate
directory trees, while also providing integrity verification for the data
and the
directory metadata, was recently posted as an

to the linux-kernel mailing list. Composefs was developed
by Alexander Larsson (who posted it) and Giuseppe Scrivano for use by podman containers and OSTree (or “libostree” as it
is now known) root directories, but there are likely others who want the
it provides. So far, there has been little response, either with feedback or
complaints, but it is a small patch set (around 2K lines of code) and
generally self-contained since it is a filesystem, so it would not be a
surprise to see it appear in some upcoming kernel.

Source: LWN.net – [$] Composefs for integrity protection and data sharing

Avatar 5 Will Return to Earth, But That Leaked Title Is Wrong

If James Cameron is lucky enough to make a fifth Avatar film, not all of it will take place on Pandora. At a recent press day for Avatar: The Way of Water, io9 asked Cameron’s producer Jon Landau if the Earthlings who were defeated and left Pandora at the end of the original film will return to bring war to the Na’vi.…

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Source: Gizmodo – Avatar 5 Will Return to Earth, But That Leaked Title Is Wrong

10 of the Hottest Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids

It’s crunch time for holiday shopping, and if your kids haven’t started writing their letters to the North Pole’s most famous resident yet, there’s a good chance your favorite brick-and-mortar store won’t have what they really want (or worse, your online retailer is selling it for twice the price because of low…

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Source: LifeHacker – 10 of the Hottest Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids

Twitter Placed Ads on White Nationalists' Profiles

When Elon Musk took over Twitter, he prompted a mass exodus of advertisers worried his reign might elevate hate speech and other stomach-churning content that would then appear alongside their ads. Musk had said he would restore a vast swath of accounts banned for violating Twitter policies, and he did, resurrecting…

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Source: Gizmodo – Twitter Placed Ads on White Nationalists’ Profiles

The Game Awards’ Fashion Highlights The Industry’s Identity Crisis

Like everyone else, I watch The Game Awards for a few reasons: to see “world premiere” trailers, to find out which obvious favorite wins Game of the Year, and to learn how Geoff Keighley is going to cash in his Hideo Kojima friendship coupon this year. But what fascinates me is never the latest AAA trailer or the new…

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Source: Kotaku – The Game Awards’ Fashion Highlights The Industry’s Identity Crisis

Congress axes media revenue sharing bill after pushback from Google and Meta

A US government attempt to compensate publishers for web links has fallen apart, as Congress has cut the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) from the annual national defense spending bill. The measure would have made temporary exceptions to antitrust law letting media outlets negotiate revenue sharing deals, such as receiving a cut of ad money from links to news articles in search results and social media posts.

The removal comes after extensive resistance from tech firms. Just this week, Facebook owner Meta warned it would “consider removing news” from its platform rather than submit to government-required negotiations for revenue sharing deals. As with the social media giant’s objections to similar legislative efforts in Australia and Canada, the company argued that the JCPA would force companies to pay for content whether or not they wanted to see it. This would supposedly create a “cartel-like entity” that made one company subsidize others.

Two industry groups, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and NetChoice, also said they would launch extensive ad campaigns to oppose the JCPA. Both groups include major tech companies like Amazon, Google and Meta. Google has been a vocal opponent of link revenue shares in the past, and only reluctantly agreed to them in countries like France.

Advocacy groups have taken more varied stances. Public Knowledge and its allies were concerned tech companies could be forced to carry extreme content, and that the JCPA favored larger media producers over small publishers. Political critics across the spectrum, meanwhile, have worried that the Act could alternately strip away moderation tools or fuel biased reporting.

It’s not certain what will happen to the efforts behind the JCPA. Lead proponent Sen. Amy Klobuchar said politicians “must” find a way to improve compensation for news. However, it’s safe to say the media companies that supported the bill won’t be happy. The Los Angeles Times, Fox News owner News Corp. and others had argued that the would-be law was necessary to counter years of declining ad revenue in the shift toward online news coverage. For now, at least, they won’t have that potential help.

Source: Engadget – Congress axes media revenue sharing bill after pushback from Google and Meta

The 9 Most Busted Games Of 2022

2022 was a huge bummer of a year for a lot of reasons, and buggy video games only exacerbated that feeling. It really does suck to shell out $60 or, as is quickly becoming the norm, $70 on something that is fundamentally broken at launch, especially if that something was created under exploitative working conditions.

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Source: Kotaku – The 9 Most Busted Games Of 2022

AMD Posts P-State Linux Patches For New "Guided Autonomous Mode"

With the AMD P-State CPU frequency scaling driver that has come together over the past year and improved upon there has been the Energy Performance Preference “EPP” mode being worked on recently to further improve the performance/power characteristics of Ryzen and EPYC processors on Linux. A new patch series today implements a third mode for the AMD P-State driver…

Source: Phoronix – AMD Posts P-State Linux Patches For New “Guided Autonomous Mode”

The Pale Blue Eye's New Trailer Teases a Haunting Wintertime Mystery

The Pale Blue Eye is an adaption of a novel by Louis Bayard that imagines a chilling horror story set in West Point during the time that Edgar Allen Poe was in attendance. The early 1800s time period places the film well before Sherlock Holmes, offering a darker, more reserved kind of horror, creating a strange,…

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Source: Gizmodo – The Pale Blue Eye’s New Trailer Teases a Haunting Wintertime Mystery

Twitch Star Is Hawking A New Livestreaming Platform Owned By Banned Gambling Site

A few months ago, the growing presence and influence of gambling sites on Twitch motivated the platform’s top personalities to threaten to strike. Pressure from top streaming celebrities like Pokimane pushed the Amazon-owned site to ban crypto gambling site Stake.com and others that “aren’t licensed in either the U.S.…

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Source: Kotaku – Twitch Star Is Hawking A New Livestreaming Platform Owned By Banned Gambling Site

Intel Raptor Lake Mitigation Impact Performance Comparison

A recurring question that has come up by readers since the recent launch of the Intel 13th Gen Core “Raptor Lake” processors has been whether it’s still worthwhile running with the “mitigations=off” Linux kernel option to disable software-controlled CPU security mitigations to increase performance. For production systems that is never recommended due to the security risk, but for those wondering, here is a brief look at the mitigation situation on Raptor Lake with the flagship Core i9 13900K.

Source: Phoronix – Intel Raptor Lake Mitigation Impact Performance Comparison

11 Long-ass Video Games You Can Play All Winter

Winter is coming, and like any red-blooded American, I plan to spend it hibernating and playing video games. But not just any video games. I’m into single-player narrative games that last a long, long time. These stand in contrast to narrative-free (or narrative-lite) video games that you can basically play forever,…

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Source: LifeHacker – 11 Long-ass Video Games You Can Play All Winter

NASA Orion Captures Stunning Moon Shot Before Skipping Like A Rock Back To Earth

NASA Orion Captures Stunning Moon Shot Before Skipping Like A Rock Back To Earth
As NASA’s Orion spacecraft began its journey back to Earth, it captured more awe-inspiring images, with our home planet finding a way to photo-bomb a few. Orion is set to make splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, December 11, 2022.

The Artemis I mission had a bit of a rough start, with several delays to its launch. However, since

Source: Hot Hardware – NASA Orion Captures Stunning Moon Shot Before Skipping Like A Rock Back To Earth

‘Diablo IV’ hands-on: This feels worryingly good

About three hours into my preview of Diablo IV, I stumble upon the body of a dead priest. The discovery adds a quest to my journal to visit nearby Margrave. A short while later, I find a small village worn down by constant snowfall and all the monsters and bandits that lurk outside its palisade walls. Despite the town’s desperate state, there are signs of warmth and humanity everywhere.

By the south entrance, I find a woman praying for her deceased husband. She tells his gravestone how she can’t sleep now that no one is snoring at night. Nearby, a man tells his adopted son not to venture outside the town’s walls. I love these details. They remind me of some of my favorite moments playing Diablo II.

Whenever I went back over the years to revisit the action RPG on my own, I would listen to everything the non-playable characters had to say. The game doesn’t have much dialogue by modern standards, but if you pay attention, it says a lot with very little. Looking back at my time with Diablo III and, more recently, Diablo Immortal, what stands out is that those games rarely, if ever, slow down to take a breath.

A screenshot showing off one of Diablo IV's towns.

Diablo IV feels different. It feels like a game that was designed by people who love the history of this franchise as much as I do. That might not seem like much, but it’s refreshing when you consider Diablo III’s original lead designer called his Diablo II predecessor a “loser.”

“Certainly, there are a lot of things about Diablo II that we think are really cool and need to be in Diablo IV, particularly when you look at the depth of systems and itemization… and, as you noted, there are things about Diablo III like the smooth and seamless combat that we wanted to bring forward to Diablo IV,” game director Joe Shely tells me during a roundtable interview. Shely took over leadership of the Diablo IV team in the fall of 2021 after the game’s previous director, Luis Barriga, left Blizzard when California’s fair employment agency accused the studio of systemic gender discrimination and sexual harassment. “We think Diablo IV can be a place that welcomes players from any previous Diablo game and people who have never played a Diablo game.”

A screenshot showing off one of Diablo IV's open-world environments.

Diablo IV existing as a project that takes all the best aspects of past entries in the series and iterates on them in meaningful ways is a theme Shely and his boss, Diablo franchise head Rod Fergusson, repeat early and often. At first, I dismissed it as marketing, but after playing the game for about a dozen hours, I started to believe them.

Take combat, for instance. Carrying over a change Blizzard made for the console release of Diablo III, each class comes with a dodge ability built into their kit. At first, you can only use your dodge once before it goes on cooldown, but as you level your character, you’ll find magical and rare boots that give you additional charges.

The potion system, meanwhile, represents a hybrid of the systems that existed in Diablo II and III. When you first start playing, your character can carry a maximum of five potions on them. There’s no cooldown after you use one, and you gain refills by slaying enemies or bringing a boss down to certain thresholds of their health. Walking over a potion when your character is at max health won’t automatically heal you as it did in Diablo III, so there’s more strategy involved. As you might have guessed, you can upgrade the potency of your potions and find ways to carry more as you progress through the game.

A screenshot of the barbarian's skill tree, highlighting the rupture skill.

On the surface, these are minor changes, but they add some much-needed tactical depth to Diablo’s combat, so you’re not just mindlessly clicking and spamming your skill rotation. Most larger enemies have a windup attack in their arsenal to stagger your character. Combine that with elite and champion variants of enemies that can use abilities like frost to trap you in place, and combat encounters feel more involved in Diablo IV than in past games. Playing on the game’s veteran world tier difficulty, I had the most success when I used my barbarian’s leap ability to close the distance quickly on ranged enemies and monsters like fallen shamans that could bring their comrades back from the dead.

All of that made for a fun and satisfying combat loop enhanced by how much the game encouraged me to experiment with my character’s build. Diablo IV sees the return of Diablo II’s skill trees, but this time around, you’re not limited to respecing your character once per difficulty. Instead, you can at any time refund a single skill point or all of them simultaneously to tweak your build. At first, doing so only costs a few gold coins, but the price increases as you level your character. The beauty of this system is that you’re free to experiment early before settling on the build that will take you through Diablo IV’s endgame activities.

Unfortunately, I only had enough time to play through the demo with the barbarian. The preview also came with access to the rogue and sorcerer classes. At launch, the final game will feature five classes, adding the druid and necromancer to the mix.

I wish I could write about the story, but Blizzard asked those of us taking part in the preview not to spoil anything. What I can say is that once you complete Diablo IV’s prologue, you can tackle its primary acts in any order you want. The preview build only came with access to act one and the Fractured Peaks zone where that part of the story takes place. When Blizzard revealed Diablo IV in 2019 by sharing the game’s gruesome “By Three They Come” intro cinematic, I was worried the story would end up being edgy instead of mature and dark.

The little I’ve seen of the plot has done a lot to address those concerns. Part of that has been thanks to the smart, restrained writing I saw and Diablo IV’s willingness to give its narrative time to breathe, but the thing I think that’s going to surprise a lot of people is how atmospheric Diablo IV can be in its best moments. All of the trailers Blizzard has released so far don’t do nearly enough justice to all the great work the art team has done with the environmental, lighting and particle effects in the game. When my barbarian first began his adventure on a mountain beset by a blizzard, I reached for a blanket.

One thing the demo didn’t include was a preview of Diablo IV’s monetization system. Blizzard provided an overview of those this past summer. The short version is that the game won’t include pay-to-win microtransactions. Instead, an in-game cosmetic shop will allow you to buy items you can use to customize the look of your characters further. Seasonal battle passes will allow you to earn additional cosmetics. From the moment you create your character, the customization systems are robust, offering you plenty of options to alter their physical appearance, including things like skin tone, head and facial hair, as well as jewelry.

A screenshot showing one possible look for the barbarian class.

Additionally, the way you can modify the appearance of items is as fleshed out. For instance, if you use the transmog system to make a piece of armor look different, and then an item with better stats drops for you, you can match it with your previous set directly from the character sheet. By level 10, my barbarian had already started to look menacing.

If there’s one worry I have about Diablo IV, it’s the same one I’ve had with every Blizzard game in the past decade or so: Can the studio stick the landing? To say Blizzard’s recent output has been all over the place would be an understatement. I’m still disappointed with how it handled remastering my favorite RTS of all time. The studio will have the chance to reassure fans in early 2023 when Diablo IV’s open beta begins ahead of the game’s official launch later in the year.

Source: Engadget – ‘Diablo IV’ hands-on: This feels worryingly good