Categories
Game

Fan-made mod turns ‘Half-Life 2’ into a fully playable VR game

If left you with an itch to revisit its seminal 2004 predecessor, now you can do so in virtual reality. On Friday, a group of fans known as the Source VR Mod Team released Half-Life 2: VR Mod. As long as you own the original, you can download and play the mod free .

While it’s currently in public beta, the mod allows you to play through Half-Life 2’s single-player story from start to finish. The Source VR Mod Team integrated a handful of features found in Half-Life: Alyx to modernize the experience and make it playable in VR. For instance, you switch between weapons using the same selection grid found in Valve’s 2020 game.

Other VR-minded tweaks include the addition of optional laser sights, over-the-shoulder ammo storage, manual reloading and two-handed weapon handling. There’s even support for room-scale movement. The Source VR Mod Team says the project , but that hasn’t stopped people from enjoying the experience, with the mod currently holding an Overwhelmingly Positive rating on 732 reviews.

Like before it, Half-Life 2: VR Mod has been a long time coming. As , the project was first announced in 2017 and went through development hell before remerging in 2021. The fact you can play it today is thanks to a recent influx of new team members who “revitalized” development.

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Security

Mac antivirus has gone fully preemptive, but is that enough?

Apple made its Macs even better at fighting malware in recent years, but don’t relax just yet.

A recent blog post by Howard Oakley at the Eclectic Light Company details the changes Apple has quietly made in the past six months that mark a distinct change in strategy for protecting Macs, including spots where there are still holes of vulnerability, specifically for some older Macs.

According to the post, the new malware protection on Macs is formidable, scanning files daily and even hourly in some cases, and automatically updating with new malware definitions as they come in.

“It has now gone fully preemptive,” Oakley wrote in the post. “As active as many commercial anti-malware products.”

There is a caveat, though. Your Mac needs to be running MacOS Catalina or later. Thankfully, most Macs out there in the wild can run Catalina, beginning with the 2012 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Only the iMac Pro from 2017 or later is compatible, however.

Mac malware protection used to be limited to the XProtect tool, which only passively scanned some files checking for malware against a list of pre-loaded known malware code. This often failed to find the newest threats because malware evolves so rapidly.

Then, in March of last year, Apple released the MacOS 12.3 update to Monterey. Hidden in the update, with no fanfare whatsoever, was a new XProtect Remediator anti-malware scanning tool. This tool is powerful at hunting down malware the moment new viruses are discovered by security watchers.

Your Mac is much safer today than it was a couple of years ago.

Part of the new scanning protocol includes a DubRobber scanner which performs scans lasting 15-35 seconds every hour, when the Mac isn’t being actively used. Every scan then adds an entry to a running log, which you can access via terminal by typing: ‘subsystem == “com.apple.XProtectFramework.PluginAPI”‘

This proves not only that the anti-malware is included in modern MacOS releases, but is alive and active. Your Mac is much safer today than it was a couple of years ago.

You shouldn’t rest on your laurels, however. Malware is an insanely profitable criminal business with low risk, which attracts all sorts of bad actors, from hackers in the basement to shadowy foreign government agencies. Definitions depend on an active community of digital security watchers , often volunteers with day jobs, who maintain databases of known malware code. These databases are used by programs like Microsoft Defender and Apple’s new XProtect Remediator to try and keep up with the threats.

Your Mac is a lot safer today thanks to this update and the hard-working heroes who hunt down malware across the internet. But you’re not completely safe.

Remember to never download files from strange sites on the internet, and especially never from a random email from someone you’ve never heard of. Keep smart on the internet and you’ll make the job much easier for your Mac.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
AI

Enterprise AI platform Dataiku targets all teams with fully managed service

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Enterprise-focused AI and machine learning platform Dataiku has launched a fully managed hosted online analytics service that lets companies access its platform while minimizing internal IT resource expenditure.

Founded in 2013, Dataiku helps data analysts, scientists, and other employees (coders and non-coders) glean insights from disparate unstructured data and create their own predictive AI models, with connectors for data sources such as Amazon S3, Azure Blob Storage, Google Cloud Storage, Snowflake, and NoSQL/SQL databases. The company has raised around $250 million in external funding from some big-name backers including Alphabet’s CapitalG.

Businesses have increasingly turned to AI to bring greater intelligence to their decision-making process. Dataiku and its ilk help them become AI creators, rather than purely consumers, reducing their dependency on specialized in-house data scientists. The new fully managed hosted plan, which starts at $499 per month, builds on that principle by doing most of the heavy lifting for them — this could be particularly useful for big businesses looking to bolster their existing data science team or smaller companies just starting out.

With Dataiku Online, companies get instant access to everything they need to develop and manage their analytics projects without worrying about administering their own servers or upgrading their installation. It makes it easy to connect their data warehouses and includes tools for data preparation, automated machine learning (AutoML), and reporting and visualization dashboards, with support for up to 10 users.

Dataiku’s news comes just a few months after the New York-based company launched a bunch of tools designed to democratize AI in the workforce, including the ability to run “what-if” AI model simulations to determine the potential impact of any changes to the data.

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Categories
Tech News

Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds fully leak, including white/gold option

Another leak has surfaced that all but confirms certain details about Sony’s anticipated WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds. The model, which we’ve seen leak in the form of both images and renders, will allegedly pack active noise cancellation, as well as a number of other high-end features. With this, Sony’s new true wireless earbuds will be set to compete with the AirPods Pro.

The new leak comes from German website Winfuture, which has a solid track record for revealing products before they’re officially announced. This time around, the leak involves the Sony WF-1000XM4, including what appears to be press photos credited to Sony. The images show the true wireless earbuds with black/gold and white/gold color options.

The big feature here is the Active Noise Cancellation, which will block out most unwanted ambient noises for those times you need peace and quiet. The report also alleges that the upcoming WF-1000XM4 will support Sony’s LDAC tech for streaming hi-res audio, as well as an IPX4 housing for water resistance in those cases where you get caught in the rain.

As expected, the earbuds will be joined by a charging case that, the report claims, will combine with the batteries in the earpieces to offer a total of 24-hours runtime with ANC turned on and 36 hours with it turned off. The case reportedly supports USB-C for wired and Qi for wireless charging.

The WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds are expected to launch soon, though we don’t yet know when Sony will reveal them. The report claims the earbuds will be priced at around 279.90 EUR in Europe, which would work out to around $350 USD.

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Categories
AI

Google launches Vertex AI, a fully managed cloud AI service

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


During a virtual keynote at Google I/O 2021, Google’s developer conference, Google announced the launch in general availability of Vertex AI, a managed AI platform. It’s designed to help companies to accelerate the deployment and maintenance of AI models, Google says, by requiring nearly 80% fewer lines of code to train a model versus competitive platforms.

Data scientists often grapple with the challenge of piecing together AI solutions, creating a lag time in model development and experimentation. In a recent Alation report, a majority of respondents (87%) pegged data quality issues as the reason their organizations failed to implement AI. That’s perhaps why firms like Markets and Markets anticipate that the data prep industry, which includes companies that offer data cataloging and curation tools, will be worth upwards of $3.9 billion by the end of 2021.

To tackle the challenges, Vertex brings together Google Cloud services for AI under a unified UI and API. Vertex lets customers build, train, and deploy machine learning models in a single environment, moving models from experimentation to production while discovering patterns and anomalies and making predictions.

“Vertex was designed to help customers with four things,” Google Cloud AI product management director Craig Wiley told VentureBeat in an interview. “The first is, we want to help them increase the velocity of the machine learning models that they’re building and deploying. Number two is, we want to make sure that they have Google’s best-in-class capabilities available to them. Number three is, we want these workflows to be highly scalable. … And then number four is, we want to make sure they have everything they need for appropriate model management and governance.

“Ultimately, the goal here is to figure out how we can accelerate companies finding ROI with their machine learning.”

Fully managed AI

Vertex offers access to the MLOps toolkit used internally at Google for computer vision, language, conversation, and structured data workloads. MLOps, a compound of “machine learning” and “information technology operations,” is a newer discipline involving collaboration between data scientists and IT professionals with the aim of productizing machine learning algorithms.

Vertex’s other headlining features include Vertex Vizier, which aims to increase the rate of experimentation; Vertex Feature Store, which lets practitioners serve, share, and reuse machine learning features; and Vertex Experiments, which helps with model selection. There’s also Vertex Continuous Monitoring and Vertex Pipelines, which support self-service model maintenance and repeatability.

Customers including L’Oréal-owned ModiFace and Essence are using Vertex for production models, Google says. According to Jeff Houghton, ModiFace’s COO, Vertex allowed the company to create augmented reality technology “incredibly close to actually trying the product in real life.” As for Essence, SVP Mark Bulling says that Vertex is enabling its data scientists to quickly create new models based on changes in environments while also maintaining existing models.

“Once your model’s in production, the world is constantly changing, and so the accuracy of these models is constantly degrading over time. You have to keep track of your model and understand how it’s performing, and be ready to respond if it starts performing in a way that doesn’t meet expectations,” Wiley said. “We’re really excited about Vertex because this set of capabilities with MLOps really feels like it’s starting to deliver on some of the promises that we made back when we said, ‘Click a button, and you’ll have your model in production.’  Because now it’s, ‘Click a button, you’ll have your model on production, and using these tools, you’ll be able to gain the full value of that model when it is in production.’”

Gartner projects the emergence of managed services like Vertex will cause the cloud market to grow 18.4% in 2021, with cloud predicted to make up 14.2% of total global IT spending. “As enterprises increase investments in mobility, collaboration, and other remote working technologies and infrastructure, growth in public cloud [will] be sustained through 2024,” Gartner wrote in a November 2020 study. MLOps alone is expected to become a nearly $4 billion segment by 2025.

Google is among those reaping the windfall benefits. In its most recent earnings report, the company said that its cloud division brought in $4.047 billion in sales for the first quarter of 2021, up 46% from the year prior.

Wiley says that Vertex will continue to evolve in response to customer feedback. “Vertex offers a series of tools dedicated specifically to data scientists, machine learning professionals, and developers who want to efficiently deploy their machine learning. I would expect further development an innovation for that kind of data scientist customer would exist under the Vertex brand,” he said.

VentureBeat

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Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
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Categories
Tech News

Starlink Internet service could be “fully mobile” by the end of the year

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and his company are working hard to put more satellites into orbit capable of providing Internet access to people worldwide. So far, SpaceX has hundreds of Starlink satellites in orbit, with more set to launch during the year. Recently Musk made an exciting announcement that the Starlink Internet service could be fully mobile by the end of 2021.

Becoming fully mobile would mean the Internet service could follow customers to different addresses and be used in moving vehicles. Musk also said this week that Starlink could exit beta as early as the summer. So far, Starlink has more than 10,000 people signed up for its beta that launched last October.

During the beta, customers can’t move the hardware from address to address. The beta service only works at one home address. Details on the future of Starlink came when Musk replied to someone on Twitter who asked when they would be able to put the dish on an RV or tiny home or take it between addresses.

Musk replied Starlink would be fully mobile later this year, allowing it to be moved anywhere or used on an RV or truck in motion. He also noted that SpaceX needs a “few more satellite launches” to achieve complete coverage and the system also needs some software upgrades. SpaceX filed paperwork with the FCC to make Starlink mobile in March.

When SpaceX filed the request with the FCC, it said making its service mobile was in the public interest and would allow operators and passengers to access services to increase productivity. Musk also noted that service uptime for Starlink, along with bandwidth and latency, were improving rapidly. Previously, he promised that speed would double and would latency drop by the end of the year.

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Categories
Computing

This fully loaded Alienware m17 with a GeForce RTX 2060 is only $1,200

There’s a fantastic Dell Alienware gaming laptop available at a solid price today. Rakuten is selling an Alienware m17 for $1,200 with the coupon code DELL200. That’s $200 off the regular price and hundreds of dollars less than you’ll usually find laptops with a GeForce RTX 2060 selling for. To use the coupon you have to sign-up for a Rakuten account.

The Alienware m17 features a 17-inch 1080p display—hence the name. It only runs at 60Hz, and a higher refresh rate would be nicer with such a powerful graphics card in two. Still, that’s the only drawback we found with the specs of this machine.

In addition to the display, it’s rocking a 2.6GHz six core, twelve thread Core i7-9750H. It has 16GB of RAM, a 256GB M.2 SSD, and a 1TB hybrid hard drive. For graphics, it’s rocking Nvidia’s wonderful GeForce RTX 2060, which is more than potent enough to drive the 60Hz screen at full speed with every visual setting cranked to the max. This laptop should keep playing games at satisfying frame rates for a long, long while.

Nvidia’s GPU also supports real-time ray tracing capabilities. Ray tracing allows for more realistic behavior of light in games that support it. The end result is more vivid-looking scenes, and while it doesn’t sound like much, the difference can be dramatic.

The Alienware m17 packs two USB 3.1 Type-A slots, one USB SuperSpeed 3.1 Type-A port with charging support, HDMI 2.0 out, mini-DisplayPort out, Thunderbolt 3, and ethernet. There’s also an Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port if you ever want to use this with an external graphics card; however, with a GeForce RTX 2060 built-in you likely won’t feel the need for years.

[Today’s deal: Dell Alienware M17 for $1200 on Rakuten.]

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

Ian is an independent writer based in Israel who has never met a tech subject he didn’t like. He primarily covers Windows, PC and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he’s not covering the news he’s working on how-to tips for PC users, or tuning his eGPU setup.

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Categories
Tech News

Fully pivot your business online with the help of this growth hacking training

Credit:
Christina Morillo/Pexels

TLDR: The Complete 2021 Growth Hacker Bundle offers entrepreneurs the playbook for a marketing strategy that can show big dividends fast, even with limited budgets.

At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss growth hacking as really just another term for more traditional marketing efforts. It’s all about reaching audiences and driving up sales, so in that respect, growth hacking is marketing.

But once you scratch the surface, it doesn’t take much examination to see that growth hacking is a little more than buying ads and posting to Facebook. It’s a targeted and highly focused approach to testing and analyzing growth strategies to produce big returns almost immediately.

Hey, if everybody could juice up their profits in a matter of weeks while spending almost nothing, everyone would do it, right? Not really. Because it isn’t all that simple, as the training in The Complete 2021 Growth Hacker Bundle ($39.99, over 90 percent off, from TNW Deals) proves.

The collection brings together 13 different courses and nearly 50 hours of training that zeros in on how to use tools like social media campaigns, SEO, and even old standbys like email marketing to create a structured approach to growing users, generating returns, and giving your operation its best shot at success fast.

The backbone of any marketing campaign is outreach, which means you need to be reaching out to your circle of potential customers to see what works and what isn’t. 

Courses like Email Marketing: Get Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers and Email Marketing: How To Build an Email List of Customers help entrepreneurs hook users and convince them to opt-in as subscribers, form attractive offers that spur those subscribers to become customers, and how to do it all without resorting to unsavory tactics like spam.

The SEO Training Masterclass teaches not only the basics of keywords and their role in putting you at the top of Google search results, but also offers hands-on, real time exploration of strategies used by leading SEO agencies to build immediate search success.

Finally, since each social media platform has its own vibe, its own procedures, and its own distinct audience, a handful of courses dive into each, offering tactics that have found proven results for users. From Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Craigslist, this training explains how to use each to their max to help find the extra edge you need for your business.

The Complete 2021 Growth Hacker Bundle features almost $2,600 worth of inside marketing knowledge, but it’s available now for about $3 per course, just $39.99.

Prices are subject to change.

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Categories
Tech News

Apple’s First EV Will Be Fully Autonomous, Insiders Claim

The ongoing “Apple Car” saga took another turn on Wednesday when a new report claimed the expected electric vehicle (EV) will be fully autonomous and designed to operate without the need of a driver.

“These will be autonomous, electric vehicles designed to operate without a driver and focused on the last mile,” an unnamed source with knowledge of Apple’s plans told CNBC.

As the news outlet notes, this means the tech giant’s first vehicle could be used for deliveries of meals and other items, as well as robotaxi services similar to those being tested by autonomous-vehicle specialist Waymo. In other words, don’t think you’ll be rolling down the street in your own Apple-made car anytime soon.

Apple’s highly secretive EV initiative has been making headlines for around the last six years, with speculation about its plans ramping up in the last couple of months.

In January 2021, Hyundai confirmed it was in talks with Apple about the possibility of partnering on the project, though the Korean automaker quickly withdrew its statement — possibly after Apple got in touch.

Since then, insiders claiming to have knowledge of the plans have said that Kia, Hyundai’s sister company, is now leading the project, with sources telling CNBC this week that both it and Apple are pushing toward a deal that would see the iCar manufactured at Kia’s facility in West Point, Georgia.

Sources have also cautioned that depending on how the current talks proceed, Apple could end up partnering with another automaker alongside Kia, or even without Kia.

Apple appears intent on building its vehicle in the U.S. and wants to use the facilities of an established automaker to do so, CNBC said in its report. The deal must also allow Apple to use its own software and hardware, the insiders said, ensuring the finished product will be a true “Apple Car” rather than a vehicle from an automaker that merely incorporates Apple-made software.

For Hyundai and Kia, working with the Cupertino, California tech company could allow it to speed up its plans for bringing its own autonomous vehicles and EVs to the market — it’s currently aiming to launch seven EVs by 2027.

Recent reports have suggested Apple’s autonomous EV, which may also feature “breakthrough battery technology,” could launch in 2024, though respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in December 2020 that the vehicle’s exact design specifications have yet to be decided, suggesting that we may not see it until 2028 or even later.

The situation appears to be moving quickly, so expect more updates on this story soon.

Editors’ Choice




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