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News, plain and simpleSat, 21 Oct 2017 17:00:40 +0000en-UShourly1https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.7Tim Cook Says the Mac Mini Isn’t Dead, but It Sure Leaves a Lot of Performance on the Table
Apple tends to cycle at least some of its laptops through periodic updates, but it’s not uncommon for desktop products to go longer in between product cycles. The current Mac mini is a late-2014 model with a Haswell-based Core i5-4260U, Core i5-4278U, or a Core i5-4308U. An optional Core i7-4578U is also available, though Many Mac mini fans still lament the day Apple canned the quad-core Core i7 version (last seen in a 2012 model).
According to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, the Mac mini isn’t dead, it’s just resting an important product in Apple’s desktop lineup. In an email to a MacRumors reader, Tim Cook wrote:
I’m glad you love Mac mini. We love it too. Our customers have found so many creative and interesting uses for Mac mini. While it is not time to share any details, we do plan for Mac mini to be an important part of our product line going forward.
We’ve put together a chart comparing the CPUs available in the current Mac mini to Intel’s current offerings. The new chips we’ve included are:
Core i7-8650U: A new quad-core mobile chip with a 15W TDP. Core i7-7660U: Intel’s fastest dual-core with a 15W TDP.
The other CPUs are the Haswell-era parts offered with the current Mac mini. Most are 28W parts.
Early benchmarks suggest the quad-core 15W CPUs are still markedly faster than their dual-core cousins with higher base clocks. While the prices are high, keep in mind these are official prices — OEMs regularly receive bulk order discounts that make these chips much less expensive. The newer cores also benefit from the modest performance improvements Skylake delivered and the higher frequencies Kaby Lake (14nm+) and 8th generation mobile cores (14nm++) deliver.
Since graphics have changed significantly since Haswell, it’s worth including those numbers, too.
The Intel integrated solutions on 8th-generation and 6th-generation chips are much faster than the older Haswell graphics solutions, and particularly the 7th-gen chip, which includes a 64MB EDRAM cache. DigitalTrends published a 2016 guide to Intel integrated performance, and while it doesn’t include the very latest solutions, it definitely establishes a trend. We’ve linked the full article, but this graph is representative of performance trends:
DT compared desktop cores, so the scaling won’t be identical, but Intel’s later graphics cores are clearly intrinsically faster than their Haswell counterparts. These new chips also support 4K displays, higher base clocks, and OpenGL 4.4.
In short, there’s a lot of performance being left on the table at lower TDPs, and better, modernized features. Apple may not want to divulge future product details, but when it does update the Mac mini it’s going to deliver significantly improved performance.
]]>http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/tim-cook-says-the-mac-mini-isnt-dead-but-it-sure-leaves-a-lot-of-performance-on-the-table/feed/0Dead Space Developer Visceral Games is Dead, and That Sucks
EA has announced that Visceral Games, the developer of games like Battlefield: Hardline and Dead Space is shutting down, effective immediately. The Star Wars title the studio had worked on is also being shut down. While EA isn’t literally canceling the project altogether, it’s going to fundamentally overhaul the game.
Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design. We will maintain the stunning visuals, authenticity in the Star Wars universe, and focus on bringing a Star Wars story to life. Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.
We can’t really speculate on the state of the Star Wars game Visceral was working on, or whether this move is the right thing for the title. But I recently spent some time replaying all the Dead Space games, back-to-back-to-back. Playing them that way actually gave me what I think is a better window into why the studio made some of the decisions it did.
Deconstructing Dead Space
The original Dead Space has generally lousy PC controls, and “feels” very much like a 30fps game (unless you unlock the frame rate, which hilariously also accelerates saved game loads). But I was struck by how carefully it shapes the player’s introduction to the world. Your various abilities are introduced one at a time, and always in a way that tasks you with using them to solve a puzzle. You only encounter enemies in conjunction with puzzles once you’ve had an opportunity to stretch your legs first.
The game is light on pure jump scares, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. Sometimes being able to see what’s coming is worse.
Most Necromorph types are also introduced in solo encounters. Sometimes these encounters actually show you what the Necromorph in question is capable of doing or how it moves throughout the world without you firing a shot. Other times, in-game characters warn you about Necromorphs they’ve seen. The game’s plot twists and survival horror mechanics aren’t always perfect–the UI definitely needed some refinement–but even on the PC, the game shines through.
Dead Space 2 takes everything great about Dead Space and turns it up to 11. The original game’s formula is tweaked and polished, with a better UI and a much smoother 30fps frame rate. I’m genuinely not sure how all three games–which run at a constant, locked 30fps by default–manage to feel so different, but they do. Dead Space “feels” like 30fps, DS2 feels more like 40-45, and DS3 feels more like 50+. In all three cases, the actual unlocked frame is superior to the locked frame rate, but the locked rate still improves in all cases. (I used the locked frame rate while playing on a laptop to reduce system noise.)
Dead Space 2 introduced a great deal of lore into Dead Space, tightened the gameplay loops, introduced the protagonist as a speaking character as opposed to a silent protagonist, and added some new Necromorphs–think zombies, but made of the radically reshaped bones and tissue of the dead as opposed to a shambling always-humanoid corpse. The PC port was better, even if the new lore didn’t always mesh with what the original Dead Space had left people thinking, however.
Dead Space 3 was the least popular game in the series, but playing it directly after Dead Space 2 gave me a much better sense of what Visceral was trying to accomplish. Unlike the first two games, which take a narrow and specific slice of time and lore (events on one ship, events on one space station), and don’t offer any real explanation for why Necromorphs and the Markers that create them exist, Dead Space 3 tackles both questions, while simultaneously shaking up the gameplay by going from survival-horror to something more like action-horror. This made some sense, thematically, since Isaac Clarke had already survived two previous Necromorph infestations. But it made less sense mechanically, and it hurt the game with players who had enjoyed the first and second title–particularly given that the second game is a fabulous example of how to balance moments of slow exploration with quick-paced frantic play.
Dead Space 3 introduced its own set of new monsters and co-op play, but wasn’t as popular as DS2.
It didn’t help that the plot arc that Visceral developed had some significant holes. Dead Space 3 wasn’t a bad game, but it was longer, more exposition-driven, and differently paced from its predecessors, and it suffered somewhat compared with gamer expectations. Its microtransactions were also unpopular. But the game was better, I think, than it got credit for. It also had some co-op missions to add fresh dimensions to gameplay, though these were optional.
Still, all three games were pretty dang good, and playing through them back-to-back gave me a window on why Visceral made some of the choices it did. Hopefully the closing of the studio doesn’t mean we’ll never revisit the DS universe, though right now there doesn’t seem to be much chance of it. And if you like survival-horror games with an unusual and fresh take on sci-fi lore–even knowing the games aren’t perfect–I’d highly recommend all three.
]]>http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/dead-space-developer-visceral-games-is-dead-and-that-sucks/feed/0'Trailer Park Boys' Jim Lahey Actor John F. Dunsworth Dead at 71
http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/trailer-park-boys-jim-lahey-actor-john-f-dunsworth-dead-at-71/#respondTue, 17 Oct 2017 05:00:37 +0000http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/trailer-park-boys-jim-lahey-actor-john-f-dunsworth-dead-at-71/
‘Trailer Park Boys’Jim Lahey Dead at 71
10/16/2017 3:32 PM PDT
“Trailer Park Boys” actor John F. Dunsworth — who played Jim Lahey on the show — has died.
Dunsworth’s daughter told a Canadian outlet her father died after a brief and unexpected illness.
John was a part of the show’s original cast, and played a former cop-turned-security supervisor at Sunnyvale Trailer Park.
He broke into show biz as a casting director in the late ’80s before making it big on the Canadian comedy. “Trailer Park Boys” has been on air for 11 seasons.
]]>http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/trailer-park-boys-jim-lahey-actor-john-f-dunsworth-dead-at-71/feed/0British ISIS recruiter Sally Jones reported dead in airstrike
http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/british-isis-recruiter-sally-jones-reported-dead-in-airstrike/#respondThu, 12 Oct 2017 17:00:03 +0000http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/british-isis-recruiter-sally-jones-reported-dead-in-airstrike/ A British woman who became one of the world’s most wanted female terrorists after going to Syria to fight with the Islamic State has been killed by a U.S. drone strike, according to reports.
Sally Jones, a 50-year-old former punk guitarist from the London suburb of Kent, moved to the war-torn country in 2013 with her husband and son.
Her husband, Junaid Hussain, also from the U.K., was killed in a drone strike in 2015, leading some to call her the “White Widow.”
Reports of Jones’ death near the ISIS capital of Raqqa began early Thursday, with The Guardian citing a source saying that both she and her 12-year-old Jojo are believed dead.
]]>http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/british-isis-recruiter-sally-jones-reported-dead-in-airstrike/feed/0Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Mobile Is Finally, Mercifully Dead
Microsoft has finally acknowledged for good what the rest of us have known for some time. Windows 10 Mobile has bought the farm, kicked the bucket, left the building, and passed on. Said in that particular order, it makes it sound as if the OS is perhaps enjoying a well-deserved retirement after some years delivering rural mail to an ever-shrinking customer base.
In corporate speak, of course, things are not so expressive. In a recent series of Tweets, Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Windows, confirmed Windows 10 Mobile is dead. While the company will continue to offer bug fixes and corporate support for pre-existing accounts, there will be no new feature updates or rollouts.
Of course we’ll continue to support the platform.. bug fixes, security updates, etc. But building new features/hw aren’t the focus. https://t.co/0CH9TZdIFu
Windows 10 Mobile’s fans, of which there are at least several, argued this was evidence that Microsoft had variously dropped the ball at points in the Windows 10 Mobile rollout, which is both true and false. On the one hand, CEO Satya Nadella made it clear he didn’t have much use for mobile when he took over the company from Steve Ballmer. On the other, Windows Phone was already on life support when Nadella got the job. Claiming that Microsoft should’ve continued pumping out hardware in perpetuity ignores how Windows Phone and Windows Mobile had peaked at some point prior to when Nadella got the job and began declining thereafter. There was no point at which Nadella could argue he was even seeing the hint of a turn-around.
We have tried VERY HARD to incent app devs. Paid money.. wrote apps 4 them.. but volume of users is too low for most companies to invest. ☹️ https://t.co/ePsySxR3LB
Companies with product lines in steady decline may still invest in their ecosystems if the existing user base is large or rich enough. But even this strategy has its limits. Microsoft could afford to continue investing in Windows 10 Mobile, but what would be the point if customers weren’t moving to the platform? Microsoft might have had a ghost of a chance of expanding its market share if Windows 10 Mobile had been feature-complete on the same day Windows 10 launched, but it wasn’t. Then Redmond spent a year mostly destroying its own reputation by trying to cajole, trick, and force people into upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8 on to Windows 10 on the desktop. I’m not saying this was the reason Windows 10 Mobile didn’t succeed, but I’m certain it didn’t help.
The biggest single problem with Windows 10 Mobile was that the unified Windows session data and portability it offered arrived five years too late. If Windows Phone 7 had been built with lightweight versions of Continuum or “Pick Up Where I Left Off,” Redmond might’ve been able to stave off iOS or Android altogether. Plenty of people didn’t have smartphones yet in 2010 or 2011, which means they weren’t really locked into a new ecosystem. A flawless Windows integration would’ve been appealing to many customers. The problem, of course, was that Microsoft had no real provision for that kind of switch. Previous iterations of its mobile operating systems had used Windows CE, which had a very different codebase than the then-current Windows 7.
There are other things Microsoft could’ve tried to do differently, like supporting more devices with upgrades from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8, but I’m not sure how much they would’ve mattered. The big-picture features that would’ve given Microsoft a real use-case against upstarts like iOS and Android required a level of integration mobile devices of the day might not have been able to handle, no matter how lightweight the company tried to make them. By the time the hardware and software stack were both ready, the majority of mobile customers weren’t looking for a new operating system. Bearing the entire cost of designing and bringing a high-end product to market was never going to be attractive to Nadella, not without some concrete sign that a market existed for it. That sign never appeared.
It’s hard to blame Microsoft for not being willing to continue to chase a market that wasn’t interested in what it was selling. Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile were better operating systems than they got credit for being, but they weren’t in the right place at the right time. There will be no Surface Phone riding over the horizon with the calvary.
]]>http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/microsoft-admits-windows-10-mobile-is-finally-mercifully-dead/feed/0Tom Petty Dead at 66 After Family Pulls Life Support
http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/tom-petty-dead-at-66-after-family-pulls-life-support/#respondTue, 03 Oct 2017 05:00:39 +0000http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/tom-petty-dead-at-66-after-family-pulls-life-support/
Tom PettyDead at 66
10/2/2017 9:16 PM PDT
Tom Petty has died … his longtime manager Tony Dimitriades confirms.
We broke the story — EMTs responded to a call at Tom’s home Sunday night for a person who was unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest — he was taken to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital, where he was immediately put on life support.
Dimitriades says Petty died at 8:40 PM PT at UCLA surrounded by friends, family and his bandmates.
After learning Tom had no brain activity, his family chose to take him off life support.
Tom hit it big in 1978 with his band, the Heartbreakers … which scored hits with “Don’t Do Me Like That” and “Here Comes My Girl” to name just a few.
Tom also wrote and recorded “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Stevie Nicks in 1981.
Later in the ’80s he recorded with The Traveling Wilburys — a legendary lineup comprised of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne — and made a big hit, “Handle with Care.”
And Tom recorded solo and had the smash hit, “Free Fallin’.”
He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, and has remained a huge touring draw. He just wrapped up his 40th anniversary tour last week at the Hollywood Bowl.
]]>http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/tom-petty-dead-at-66-after-family-pulls-life-support/feed/0Monty Hall Dead at 96
http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/monty-hall-dead-at-96/#respondMon, 02 Oct 2017 05:01:00 +0000http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/monty-hall-dead-at-96/
‘Let’s Make a Deal’ HostMonty HallDead at 96
9/30/2017 3:23 PM PDT
Television icon Monty Hall — the co-creator and host of “Let’s Make a Deal” — died from heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills … TMZ has learned.
Hall’s daughter Joanna Gleason tells us … he passed away Saturday morning surrounded by friends and family. We’re told his health had been declining the past few years. Gleason says her dad was most proud of his show because it gave him the platform to help people.
The legendary game show host began his TV career in the 1950s by working on several children’s shows. He moved on to host network game shows, and struck it big with ‘Deal’ in 1963 … which ran for 13 years and returned for a short run in the ’90s. It was rebooted in 2009 with Wayne Brady as host.
Hall also appeared as himself on popular shows like “The Hollywood Squares” and “Password All-Stars” … and produced several more.
Monty was inducted into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in 2007, and will forever be associated with the catchphrase … “What’s behind Door No. 1?”
]]>http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/monty-hall-dead-at-96/feed/0Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dead at 91
http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/playboy-founder-hugh-hefner-dead-at-91/#respondThu, 28 Sep 2017 05:00:04 +0000http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/playboy-founder-hugh-hefner-dead-at-91/ Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, died Wednesday of natural causes at home at the Playboy Mansion.
He was 91.
The Chicago native, who began his career as a copywriter at Esquire, was responsible for creating the racy Playboy Magazine, known for its nude and semi-nude women within its folds.
The magazine, founded in 1953 in Hefner’s kitchen with just an $ 8,000 loan raised from 45 investors, featured iconic covers including Pamela Anderson, Anna Nicole Smith, Barbra Streisand, Marilyn Monroe, Mariah Carey and Donald Trump.
Celebrated writers including Normal Mailer, Jack Kerouac, Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut also wrote for the magazine.
“My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom,” son Cooper Hefner, who took over as chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises, said in a statement.
“He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history.”
While critics complained that Hefner was exploiting women, the magazine publisher insisted he was helping their cause.
“Playboy fought for what became women’s issues, including birth control,” Hefner told Vanity Fair in 2010. “We were the amicus curiae, friend of the court, in Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to choose. But the notion that women would not embrace their own sexuality is insane.”
The magazine briefly eliminated nudity from its pages from mid-2016 until early 2017 before returning to its original iteration.
The businessman was married to Mildred Williams from 1949 to 1959 and Kimberley Conrad from 1989 to 2010.
In 2012, he married Playboy model Crystal Harris, 60 years his junior, whom he began dating in January 2009.
Hefner’s Playboy Mansion, where he lived with dozens of young women, was a sprawling 22,000-square foot home in Los Angeles.
He sold the estate in August for $ 100 million, but under the stipulation that he would be allowed to live there until he died.
“The Girls Next Door,” a reality show that ran from 2005 to 2010 on E!, followed Hefner and several of his girlfriends at the Mansion, including Harris, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, Kendra Wilkinson and twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon.
In 2013, Hef, who had become known for his iconic red velvet bathrobe,told Esquire that he’d slept with “over a thousand” women.
“There were chunks of my life when I was married, and when I was married I never cheated,” he said.
“But I made up for it when I wasn’t married. You have to keep your hand in.”
On screen, he made several appearances as himself, including roles in “The Simpsons,” “Sex and the City,” “Entourage,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Family Guy.”
Hefner was also known for his charitable work, raising money for the Democratic Party and donating $ 900,000 to preserve the Hollywood sign in 2010.
He also fought for civil rights causes, including gay marriage and abortion rights.
“The fight for gay marriage is, in reality, a fight for all of our rights. Without it, we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time,” he wrote in an op-ed for Playboy magazine in 2012.
The magazine featured pro-choice articles as early as 1963, a decade before abortion was legalized in Roe v. Wade.
He’s survived by four children, Christie, David, Marston and Cooper, and his wife, Crystal.
]]>http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/playboy-founder-hugh-hefner-dead-at-91/feed/0Prominent fake news writer is found dead at the age of 38
http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/prominent-fake-news-writer-is-found-dead-at-the-age-of-38/#respondWed, 27 Sep 2017 17:00:03 +0000http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/prominent-fake-news-writer-is-found-dead-at-the-age-of-38/ A fake news writer who claimed responsibility for President Trump’s shock election win was found dead in his Laveen, Ariz., home at the age of 38.
Paul Horner was found in his bed on Sept. 18, and an autopsy found no signs of foul play, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Casey announced Tuesday.
The 38-year-old had a history of prescription drug abuse, and “evidence at the scene suggested this could be an accidental overdose,” according to Casey.
Toxicology reports from the medical examiner’s office, as well as the official cause of death, are still pending.
Horner, who was known for disseminating internet hoaxes that often went viral on Facebook, claimed he was the graffiti artist Banksy and wrote wild stories about actor Bill Murray running for president.
His work also included a story falsely claiming President Barack Obama was homosexual and a radical Muslim. Another fake news story said protesters were being paid thousands of dollars to demonstrate at Donald Trump’s campaign rallies.
Horner took on greater prominence during the presidential election when false stories were widely shared on social media during the race between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
In an interview with The Washington Post in 2016, Horner said, “I think Trump is in the White House because of me.”
Horner, who said he didn’t believe it was possible for Trump to win, appeared shocked that his own stories took off and blamed the President’s supporters for failing to fact-check his claims.
Despite declaring his hatred for Trump, however, Horner did not express any remorse. Instead, he appeared to take pride in his work, saying there was “purpose and meaning” behind his fake news stories.
Horner, who said he earned $ 10,000 a month, also told the Arizona Republic in 2016, “I’ve always done the right thing…I’m definitely proud of my life, but more proud of how my writing has become in the last few years.”
Horner’s brother J.J. said they grew up in Minnesota before moving to Arizona as teenagers.
In a tribute to his brother on Facebook, J.J. wrote, “He will be greatly missed. Rest In Peace brother. I love you so much, I know you’re out there somewhere.”
]]>http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/prominent-fake-news-writer-is-found-dead-at-the-age-of-38/feed/0'I'm Gonna Git You Sucka' and 'Revenge of the Nerds' Star Bernie Casey Dead at 78
http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/im-gonna-git-you-sucka-and-revenge-of-the-nerds-star-bernie-casey-dead-at-78/#respondThu, 21 Sep 2017 17:00:36 +0000http://www.usaspeaks.com/news/im-gonna-git-you-sucka-and-revenge-of-the-nerds-star-bernie-casey-dead-at-78/
‘Revenge of the Nerds’ StarBernie CaseyDead at 78
9/20/2017 3:26 PM PDT
Bernie Casey, the beloved and iconic co-star in “Revenge of the Nerds” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” died in an L.A. hospital … TMZ has learned.
Bernie’s rep tells us he died peacefully Wednesday, surrounded by loved ones. We’re told he suddenly fell ill recently, and had spent the last few days hospitalized.
He broke into Hollywood with roles in blaxploitation films, and went on to co-star in nearly 80 different projects — most notably he was the national head of the Tri Lams in ‘Nerds’ … and neighborhood activist John Slade in ‘Sucka.’ He was also in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”
Casey was totally a jack-of-several-trades, having also played in the NFL as a Pro Bowl wide receiver for the L.A. Rams in the late ’60s. He also had a passion for painting and poetry.