Spoken-language app makes meal logging easier, could aid weight loss

Spoken-language app makes meal logging easier, could aid weight loss

For people struggling with obesity, logging calorie counts and other nutritional information at every meal is a proven way to lose weight. The technique does require consistency and accuracy, however, and when it fails, it’s usually because people don’t have the time to find and record all the information they need.

A few years ago, a team of nutritionists from Tufts University who had been experimenting with mobile-phone apps for recording caloric intake approached members of the Spoken Language Systems Group at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), with the idea of a spoken-language application that would make meal logging even easier.

This week, at the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing in Shanghai, the MIT researchers are presenting a Web-based prototype of their speech-controlled nutrition-logging system.

With it, the user verbally describes the contents of a meal, and the system parses the description and automatically retrieves the pertinent nutritional data from an online database maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The data is displayed together with images of the corresponding foods and pull-down menus that allow the user to refine their descriptions—selecting, for instance, precise quantities of food. But those refinements can also be made verbally. A user who begins by saying, “For breakfast, I had a bowl of oatmeal, bananas, and a glass of orange juice” can then make the amendment, “I had half a banana,” and the system will update the data it displays about bananas while leaving the rest unchanged.

“What [the Tufts nutritionists] have experienced is that the apps that were out there to help people try to log meals tended to be a little tedious, and therefore people didn’t keep up with them,” says James Glass, a senior research scientist at CSAIL, who leads the Spoken Language Systems Group. “So they were looking for ways that were accurate and easy to input information.”

The first author on the new paper is Mandy Korpusik, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science. She’s joined by Glass, who’s her thesis advisor; her fellow graduate student Michael Price; and by Calvin Huang, an undergraduate researcher in Glass’s group.

Context sensitivity

In the paper, the researchers report the results of experiments with a speech-recognition system that they developed specifically to handle food-related terminology. But that wasn’t the main focus of their work; indeed, an online demo of their meal-logging system instead uses Google’s free speech-recognition app.

Their research concentrated on two other problems. One is identifying words’ functional role: The system needs to recognize that if the user records the phrase “bowl of oatmeal,” nutritional information on oatmeal is pertinent, but if the phrase is “oatmeal cookie,” it’s not.

The other problem is reconciling the user’s phrasing with the entries in the USDA database. For instance, the USDA data on oatmeal is recorded under the heading “oats”; the word “oatmeal” shows up nowhere in the entry.

To address the first problem, the researchers used machine learning. Through the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform, they recruited workers who simply described what they’d eaten at recent meals, then labeled the pertinent words in the description as names of foods, quantities, brand names, or modifiers of the food names. In “bowl of oatmeal,” “bowl” is a quantity and “oatmeal” is a food, but in “oatmeal cookie,” oatmeal is a modifier.

Once they had roughly 10,000 labeled meal descriptions, the researchers used machine-learning algorithms to find patterns in the syntactic relationships between words that would identify their functional roles.

Semantic matching

To translate between users’ descriptions and the labels in the USDA database, the researchers used an open-source database called Freebase, which has entries on more than 8,000 common food items, many of which include synonyms. Where synonyms were lacking, they again recruited Mechanical Turk workers to supply them.

The version of the system presented at the conference is intended chiefly to demonstrate the viability of its approach to natural-language processing; it reports calorie counts but doesn’t yet total them automatically. A version that does is in the works, however, and when it’s complete, the Tufts researchers plan to conduct a user study to determine whether it indeed makes nutrition logging easier.

“I think logging is enormously helpful for many people,” says Susan Roberts, director of the Energy Metabolism Lab at Tufts’ USDA-sponsored Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “It makes people more self-aware about the junk they are eating and how little they actually enjoy it, and the shock of huge portions, et cetera. But currently, it is really tedious to log your food. There are any number of programs like MyFitnessPal where you can manually enter it by hand, but even with shortcuts it is tedious and not as user friendly as it needs to be for millions of people to use it really regularly.”

“A spoken-language system that you can use with your phone would allow people to log food wherever they are eating it, with less work,” she adds. “As I see it, we need to come up with something that really isn’t much work, so it isn’t an extra burden in life.”

[Source:- Phys.org]

Download the Desktop App Converter (Project Centennial) preview

During Build 2016, Microsoft unveiled a cool app converter that turns desktop applications into Universal Windows 10 apps. Essentially, the Desktop App Converterserves as a bridging tool between Win32 apps and Universal Windows Apps, in much the same way that Project Islandwood does for iOS apps. Run a Win32 app through the Converter, test it, plug in the additional UWP features and functions, and then push to the Windows Store. Here’s how Microsoft describes the tool:

Desktop App Converter allows developers to bring their desktop apps to UWP. It converts a desktop Windows installer such as MSI or exe to an AppX package that can be deployed to a Windows 10 desktop. The software may collect information about you and your use of the software and send that to Microsoft.

Microsoft has rolled out a preview version of the tool and you can download it from this link right here.  Give it a try and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.You can head over here to read more about the tool. Before you download the tool, note that you will need to be running Windows 10 Enterprise Edition Anniversary Update (Redstone) build 14316 or newer. Thanks Tony for the tip!\

 

[Source:- Winbeta]

Microsoft’s focus on Windows 10 upgrades is a mistake

windows 10 devices laptops tablets

Microsoft made a mistake at its recent developers conference when it didn’t use the opportunity to push customers to buy new hardware, an analyst said today.

“On behalf of the Windows 10 team, we’re happy to welcome all of these customers to Windows 10, whether they have a new PC, a five-year-old PC, or a Mac [emphasis added],” said Terry Myerson, the executive who leads the company’s devices and operating systems group, after touting a new number of active Windows 10 users.

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Carolina Milanesi, principal analyst at Creative Strategies, picked up on Myerson’s “five-year-old PC,” and didn’t like what she heard.

“While Microsoft stated it is fine with some of those users having five-year-old PCs, a clear response to Phil Schiller’s recent comment on the topic during Apple’s last launch event, we strongly believe Microsoft should actually be concerned about the issue,” Milanesi wrote in an analysis published on Creative Strategies’ website.

Milanesi referred to Schiller — Apple’s head of marketing — because during the unveiling of the 9.7-in. iPad Pro two weeks ago he trumpeted the device as “the ultimate PC replacement.”

“There are over 600 million PCs in use today that are over five years old. This is really sad. These people could really benefit from an iPad Pro,” Schiller said, taking one of Apple’s trademark shots at the competition.

Microsoft, not surprisingly, saw things differently, as Myerson welcomed older systems to Windows 10. But he also heralded the new. “Our hardware partners … have launched more than 500 new devices designed for Windows 10,” Myerson said.

Milanesi thought talk of “old” illustrated Microsoft’s fixation on getting current users to upgrade to Windows 10 and signaled that the company is not focused enough on convincing customers that they should purchase a new PC.

Her premise is simple: Those with newer machinesaere more likely to actually use the PC, and thus the OS, than people who had let their system age without replacement. In other words, by fixating on upgrades rather than new machine purchases, Microsoft has acknowledged that it’s attracting a less-valuable audience.

According to Creative Strategies’ research, consumers with a PC less than a year old were much more likely to use it for tasks like social networking — Facebook, Pinterest and the like — playing video games, and running productivity software, than were people who had hung onto the same system for five or six years.

That makes sense: Those with older PCs haven’t upgraded because they’ve transferred many tasks, and the time they spend on devices overall, to smartphones, tablets or a mix of the two. Likewise, new owners boughtbecause they wanted to use their PCs for more chores.

But since Windows 10 is essentially PC-only — Milanesi said Windows tablet sales were flat, and the state of Windows on phones was dismal — if users aren’t engaged with a personal computer, they’re not engaged with Windows 10.

And Microsoft should be paying more attention to that engagement.

“While [customers] might upgrade to Windows 10 — the upgrade is free, after all, if they have kept their software up to date — they might not be curious enough to experiment and discover,” Milanesi said. “This is especially true when it comes to Universal Windows apps. In return, this will create less stickiness to the OS and lower even more the need to upgrade to new form factors like 2-in-1s.”

Microsoft is counting on Windows 10 usage to bolster its bottom line through app purchases, ad sales on Bing and service revenue. But sans engagement, that goal may be unattainable.

“The mix still skews heavily to software upgrades. If [Microsoft] had good numbers for new machines they would have certainly mentioned those,” Milanesi said in an email reply to questions today. “My point is that looking at how many software downloads there are does not paint the full picture. Microsoft cannot risk to be blinded by software upgrades. If people do not have new machines in their hands, Windows 10 will not make a huge difference long term when it comes to consumers loving Windows, not just using it.”

About a quarter of the PC users surveyed by Creative Strategies used a system five or six years old. Of those respondents, 61% said that they had no plans to upgrade their machine in the next 12 months, reinforcing the engagement decline.

But even those with newer PCs lose interest in over time. “There is an increase in managing files and content, but a decrease in social [networking] and editing photos,” said Milanesi of consumers with PCs aged two to four years. “You see users doing more at the start but then keeping [to the more] traditional PC tasks [on] the PC, diverting the rest mostly to the phone. This makes engagement even more important for Windows 10.”

Microsoft has talked about Windows 10 engagement and cited some statistics on the subject, but not with enough consistency for outsiders to analyze and interpret. At Build, for example, Myerson claimed, “Customers are more engaged than ever before,” and touted the statistic of 75 billion total hours of activity logged by Windows 10 users since launch.

While Microsoft has called out hours of activity previously — in early January it said the OS had logged 11 billion hours during December — as part of an effort to cast Windows 10 as a service, it had not issued a total number before. That makes it impossible to get a sense of whether usage has been increasing, decreasing or flat when compared with the number of devices.

Clearly, the pool of the most engaged users — those who recently purchased a PC — has shrunk. Research firm IDC recently forecast that the industry will ship 261 million personal computers in 2016, representing a 100 million device decline from “Peak PC” in 2011, with annual shipments through the rest of the decade of about 250 million units annually.

But it’s unclear what Microsoft could do to boost sales of new PCs, which, especially on the consumer side, have plummeted over the last several years. The Redmond, Wash. firm has already beaten the drum about technologies coming to Windows 10, including pen support in the mid-summer anniversary upgrade, that require new hardware.

Milanesi’s suggestion?

“Microsoft needs to find a way to make these users reconnect with their PC so they [realize] the limitations their old hardware has on their desire to take full advantage of what Windows 10 has to offer,” she said.

 

[Source:- CW]

Microsoft and HPE throw their weight behind Mesosphere

mesosphere tobi knaup florian leibert

Cloud computing startup Mesosphere made its mark early with large companies like Twitter and Netflix, and on Thursday the company got a fresh boost from two more tech giants: Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Built on the open-source Apache Mesos project credited with helping Twitterkill its “Fail Whale,” the company has closed $73.5 million in a Series C funding round led by HPE, with participation from Microsoft as a new strategic investor.

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Designed to help enterprises build microservices-based applications, run big-data systems and operate massive production container environments, Mesosphere’s Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) is “the most exciting new enterprise operating system since Linux,” said Lak Ananth, managing director at Hewlett Packard Ventures, in a statement.

HPE and Microsoft provided “the lion’s share” of the funds in this latest round, said Matt Trifiro, Mesosphere’s senior vice president, in an interview on Wednesday. The new infusion brings Mesosphere’s total funding to date to nearly $126 million.

DCOS is used at a massive scale by customers including Verizon. It’s also a key component of Microsoft’s Azure Container Service. The open-source core of DCOS, Apache Mesos, was the platform on which Apache Spark was built as well.

“Mesosphere is at the center of three of the biggest tech trends today: cloud, containerization and microservices,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division, in a statement. DCOS is preferred by Microsoft’s enterprise customers because of the maturity of its container orchestration technology, he added.

The strategic investment from HPE and Microsoft is “a validation of Mesosphere’s container orchestration and DCOS software,” said Jay Lyman, a research manager with 451 Research.

Container scheduling, management and orchestration technologies are increasingly critical in enterprises, Lyman added.

In addition to forming the basis for Microsoft’s Azure Container Service, DCOS will also soon run on Windows Server as well as Linux thanks to the collaboration between the two firms, Trifiro said. That technology is expected to enter beta later this quarter.

Also on Thursday Mesosphere announced Velocity, a new product for continuous integration and deployment, as well as version 1.0 of its Marathoncontainer orchestration platform.

 

[Source:- CW]

Camera button on lock screen coming in Windows 10 Mobile Redstone

Recent internal Windows 10 Mobile builds appear to include a new feature on the lock screen that gives users quick and direct access to the Camera app, something that many Insiders have been asking for since Windows Phone 8.1 back in 2013. The toggle is accessed by holding the Camera button on the navigation bar whilst on the lock screen for around a second, before vibrating and opening the Camera app.

Currently, it doesn’t appear this feature is customizable, but that could change before Windows 10 Mobile Redstone is finalised. Users who own a device that sports a dedicated Camera button will probably not need this, but the on-screen toggle will help many users who don’t own a device with a dedicated camera button.

camerabuttonlock Camera button on lock screen coming in Windows 10 Mobile Redstone (screenshot)

Camera button lock screen

This only appears to show up for those using on-screen keys, though that could change also. Hopefully this new feature shows up in the next Insider build that is expected to drop next week for Mobile Insiders, as this week’s mobile build was kept back due to a bug with cellular connections. Luckily, this bug has been fixed so builds should be able to pass criteria for Insiders again. So, what else are you looking forward to in Windows 10 Mobile? Let us know below!

 

[Source:- Winbeta]

Learning ancient Japanese characters with your smartphone

Learning ancient Japanese characters with your smartphone

A research group at Osaka University has developed an application which is designed to allow anyone with a smartphone or tablet device to study ancient Japanese characters Kuzushi-ji. By using this application, those who are unfamiliar with pre-modern Japanese books or learning Japanese historical and classical literature outside Japan may obtain ability in reading hentaigana and cursive-style kanji, which will promote utilization of Japanese classical books and historical materials by a wider range of people.

KuLA – the Kuzushi-ji Learning Application has three sections: Learn, Read, and Connect. The Learn section allows users to study 278 different hentaigana and cursive-style kanji and features images taken from Japanese historical books. Study progress can be checked with the included kuzushi-ji test feature. The Read section lets users test their ability further by reading images of Japanese classical texts written in kuzushi-ji. The Connect section allows users studying kuzushi-ji to interact with one another. Users can take pictures of difficult characters and ask others for help, or share their study progress with other users.

Databases holding images of pre-modern Japanese books and other historical materials are currently in rapid development. The National Institute of Japanese Literature plans to make 300,000 images of historical materials available online over a 10 year period starting from 2014 as part of its Project to Build an International Collaborative Research Network for Pre-modern Japanese Texts. However, whilst researchers in Japan outside of the field of literary studies and researchers of Japanese studies outside of Japan are able to access pre-modern materials more easily, there is still a lack of knowledge as to how to utilize these materials. This application was developed as a tool to aid researchers in fields outside literature and researchers outside of Japan to use these image databases more effectively.
[Source:- Phys.org]

Google rolling out Material Design web-wide

featured_md

Since 2014, Google has been redesigning its apps and services according to its ownMaterial Design principles. Yesterday it announced on its design blog that an upcoming release of its Chrome browser (version 49.2) will adopt Material Design as its default rendering.

Critically the new version of Chrome—dubbed Chrome MD—will override site-defined CSS in deference to the Material Design specification; colors, type, and even images will be rendered according to Google’s design language.

A pillar of the tech giant’s design strategy for almost two years, the leap to Material Design has proved successful for Google across its apps, and according to Google, imposing the design system on content displayed in its browsers will ensure a consistent and high-quality user experience for its customers:

We developed Material Design to provide our customers with the optimum user experience, and we believe they deserve that quality every time they use a Google product — Anjeet Singh, Asst. Director of Marketing Production, Google Design

In addition to rebranding the web in its own image, the primary impact of this update will be a radically faster web.

Speed

Google’s primary concern is for a faster web, and by limiting the variables its browser is forced to render, it expects to increase the initial render of pages by an average of 17%.

Chrome MD renders web pages faster than plain HTML with no CSS. This is because even when no styles are defined, browsers still need to poll for possible style definitions; Chrome MD simply skips this step rendering according to its internal style system.

Chrome MD marks a major adoption of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), significantly reducing the browser’s workload. However the majority of performance gains have been found by restricting style options.

Color

Material Design’s color palette is restricted to 256 colors, and Chrome MD will not render any color other than those 256 hex values.

Where designers specify a hex value other than one of the 256 approved colors, Chrome MD will automatically translate it to its closest Material Design equivalent. For example, these two different reds will render as the same Material Design color:

p.material { color:#E53935; } /* renders correctly as #E53935 */
p.notMaterial { color:#EF2A39; } /* renders incorrectly as #E53935 */

The same principle applies to RGB values, RGBA values will be translated to the closest Material Design color based on the color they overlay.

Gradients will not render at all in Chrome MD. However, the closed-beta implementation (that gradients render as their average tonal value) is expected to be adapted to render the lightest tint found in the gradient.

Images

The same color restrictions also apply to images: every pixel in a bitmap image will be rendered as one of Material Design’s 256 defined colors—much like current .gif technology. SVG color values will also be automatically converted.

Google has provided an exception to the image rule for cases it describes as “color-critical”, by piggy-backing the -webkit-appearance setting:

img.default { -webkit-appearance:material; } /* the default Material Design rendering */
img.trueColor { -webkit-appearance:none; } /* the true color as defined in the image file */

However this workaround will only function with bitmaps and embedded SVG files, inline SVG will always render using Material Design colors.

Typography

Replacing default system fonts, all text in Chrome MD will render using a single embedded font-family. Due to language support it will not be Roboto as might be expected, but Noto.

Text will also render in 1 of 2 tones: black, or white; the tone will be automatically selected based on the background color. Gradations of tone will be determined automatically: on dark backgrounds H1–H6 will render at 100% opacity, all other text at 70% opacity; on light backgrounds H1–H6 will render at 87% opacity, all other text will render at 54% opacity.

Chrome MD will also enforce a rigid typographic scale for weights, sizes, and line height:

h1 { font: light 45sp/48pt Noto; }
h2 { font: regular 34sp/40pt Noto; }
h3 { font: regular 24sp/32pt Noto; }
h4 { font: regular 16sp/28pt Noto; }
h5 { font: regular 15sp/24pt Noto; }
h6 { font: medium 13sp/24pt Noto; }
*, p { font: regular 14sp/20pt Noto; }
strong, em { font: medium 14sp/20pt Noto; }

These styles will not be over-ridable, and notably, there is no italic option.

Floating action buttons

Perhaps the most radical decision is the mandatory inclusion of a single, call to action. This is defined with the id primary and will be rendered as a floating action button:

<a href="someLink.html" id="primary">Click Me</a>

(Text within the link, in this example “Click Me”, is included for accessibility.)

If a primary call to action is omitted, Chrome MD will render its own floating action button that links to Google search results for whatever term Googlebot determines is the primary keyword(s) for the page in question.

Breakpoints

Another key area for rendering performance is pre-defined breakpoints. Based on the sizing set in Google’s new Resizer app, the usable breakpoints are: 360px, 480px, 600px, 720px, 840px, 960px, 1024px, 1280px, 1440px, 1600px.

Any designer-defined breakpoint that does not fit will be rounded to the next highest breakpoint. For example:

@media only screen and (min-device-width:840px) { /* applies at 840px wide and above */ }
@media only screen and (min-device-width:841px) { /* applies at 960px wide and above */ }

Wide-ranging impact

Google has a long and proud history of imposing its will on web designers, from unannounced updates to its algorithm, to the adoption of AMP. However, imposing Material Design on the web is likely to have the greatest impact.

Of course, these changes only affect websites viewed in Chrome, however with more than 52% of global browser usage, it’s difficult to imagine a site that won’t be affected.

Our primary concern is for the quality of our customers’ experience. And so we recommend all web designers employ Material Design best-practices to ensure they deliver a consistent experience for their clients across all devices and platforms — Anjeet Singh, Asst. Director of Marketing Production, Google Design

Ostensibly Chrome’s MD update is about delivering a faster more consistent web experience, but in reality is likely to rebrand the entire web as a Google project.

The current version of Chrome is 49.0.2623.110, suggesting at least one minor update can be expected before Chrome MD rolls out in full force. However does today, April 1st, mark the point at which we finally embraced the homogeneous web?

 

[Source:- webdesignerdepot]

Inside the WoW server Blizzard wants to shut down

World of Warcraft was a cultural phenomenon. It made a thunderous impact on those who played it back in 2004, and even for a few expansions afterwards—I joined during the Burning Crusade, losing over 100 days of my life to Azeroth and Outland. In that time I made friends whom I see years later, explored a seamless world and stoked my passion for PC games. To play WoW in its glory days was to feel part of some great movement in gaming. Small wonder that people want to relive the past.

That’s what Nostalrius allows (the clue is in the name). It’s Vanilla WoW’s most popular private server, running build 1.12, Drums of War. Patch 1.12 was the stop gap between Vanilla’s final raid, Naxxramas, and the Burning Crusade. As the final, most complete incarnation of the original World of Warcraft, it’s practically sacred. Using 1.12 as their base, the volunteer developers behind Nostalrius have been faithfully recreating the raid progression that Blizzard implemented long ago. Upper Blackrock Spire gave way to Onyxia’s Lair and Molten Core, Zul Gurub was a recent addition, and Ahn’Qiraj was up next. ‘Was’, because Blizzard’s legal eagles have descended, and from April 10 Nostalrius will go dark.

Unlike other private servers which Blizzard has crushed with righteous authority, Nostalrius makes no money from its 150,000 active players. The devs claim it incurs considerable losses. They’ve pushed WoW’s engine far past its intended limits, enabling over 11,000 concurrent players on a single server—a feat unmatched by any other. Can you imagine the hosting costs? Anyone can make an account, hop in and play World of Warcraft as it was more than 10 years ago. I strongly encourage ex-players to do so in the two days before it’s gone. Nostalrius is a living museum: a near-perfect record of a place, design choices and play styles that don’t exist anymore.

I am prone to soppy fits of nostalgia, granted. I could just be longing for something no one else cares about, although 800,000 Nostalrius accounts suggest otherwise. To be sure, I took a dip into Vanilla and put out a call on the net. I wanted to talk to Nostalrius regulars and ask how the impending shutdown will affect what I assumed was a passionate fan base just looking to relive good times. That’s certainly how my email respondents felt—aggrieved fans invested in raiding, socialising and Blizzard’s craft at its peak.

They’ve pushed WoW’s engine far past its limits, enabling over 11,000 concurrent players on a single server.

“This server should’ve stood as a testament to the great things Blizzard did in the beginning,” playmansam tells me. “Vanilla WoW means a lot to people, me included—this was my first MMO; I think I was in middle school. With Vanilla, Burning Crusade, and Wrath, Blizzard built these huge worlds with amazing story that you wanted to explore and be a part of. Now it’s just a bunch of people, because there is barely a community aspect to the game anymore due to server phasing and ‘looking for dungeon’ utilities.”

The decay of social interaction is something I often hear lamented, and the contrast between the retail build of WoW and Nostalrius is startling. Orgrimmar, capital of the Horde, is packed with people speaking to each other, shouting trade offers and rallying groups for dungeon runs. The Barrens echoes with “LFG Wailing Caverns,” and responses are had within minutes (unfortunately the unrestrained racism, sexism and other -isms of the Barrens still abound).

Vanilla WoW echo isles

Some of these interactions are a result of flaws that would appal the modern player. Monster respawn rates are so slow as to necessitate grouping to be in with a chance of finishing quests. Few quests make more than a cursory attempt to tell you where you ought to be looking. Level-1 boars are a true threat to the noob. These rough edges were buffed out in WoW’s later incarnations—things became less of a hassle, but as a consequence they became less social, a process widely branded ‘dumbing down’.

“It doesn’t matter if some kid is only 12 and never played WoW,” playmansam continues. “It will never affect them the way it affected us when it was new. Blizz should look at Nostlarius players and be proud, knowing that their game means so much to us that people are willing to use their spare time to recreate the original world that drew them in in the first place.”

The assumption by some players—and perhaps Blizzard itself—that Vanilla Warcraft’s unforgiving design can’t inspire the loyalty of the kids these days might not be true. A notable contingent of those I spoke to about Nostalrius were newcomers, having missed out on WoW’s glory days and curious as to what all the fuss was about. Dante Brenner is a connoisseur of private servers.

“I’ve never played retail WoW in any form,” Brenner says, “because it never really interested me in comparison to other MMOs, but what did interest me was the nostalgia factor it held for many. I rolled up on [private server] Quality Gaming in 2012, got into a guild, began levelling, PVPing and goofing around.

“Instantly I understood the attraction, and that was the community the design of the game fostered. The guilds and players I played with ended up server hopping a few times because of server deaths, guild drama and other rubbish, but no matter what we went to we always had a great time. We managed to conquer the majority of raids available on servers, caused extreme PVP grief, did rap karaoke hours on Teamspeak while waiting for everyone to log on for raids, and other daft stuff. Best summers I’ve ever had. And it’s all thanks to private servers.”

Vanilla WoW Durotar

There’s an enormous amount of good will towards Nostalrius and Blizzard’s classic design. It seems peculiar, then, that Blizzard would try to stamp on this outpouring of affection, particularly in light of its refusal to run its own legacy servers. In May last year, World of Warcraft community manager Josh Allen tweeted that it was, “Not really an effective use of time for devs who could be working on any number of features for the live game.” He acknowledged that while there’s interest in legacy servers, even internally, Blizzard doesn’t believe there’s enough to offset the costs. In that case, why not let a plucky non-profit handle it?

The logic may go that the more people access old builds for free, the fewer stump up for the retail version and the faster WoW’s subs will tumble. From the players I spoke to in-game, however, it doesn’t feel as if Warlords of Draenor will be any better off with Nostalrius closed. In the low-level zones especially there’s a collection of players more bored than nostalgic.

“Nothing actually; I just don’t have enough money to pay for Warlords of Draenor official servers,” Facegen tells me when asked what he prefers about Vanilla. “WoW made a huge step forward from this outdated crap. All this nostalgic crap… let’s be honest, WoW is raiding, and raids in Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria and WoD are far more interesting and challenging.”

Vanilla WoW valley of trials

When lowbie Orc Bootyjam came along, I asked him directly whether he’d pay a subscription if Blizzard offered official Vanilla servers.

“I don’t really think Blizzard should force you to sub for old content that you can play for free with a good community like Nostalrius.”

That will not be a popular stance at Blizzard, closer to the moral black than grey. A common justification for digital piracy (whether or not you see it as justification) is that the product would otherwise be unobtainable—you’d pay if you could, but there’s simply no option. That’s currently the case for Vanilla Warcraft. Nostalrius is a record of something that no longer exists, soon to be expunged itself. If Nostalrius were in competition with Blizzard legacy servers, it would be easier to reconcile the feeling of loss with Blizzard’s right to protect its property. Unless official Vanilla realms are announced at this year’s Blizzcon, however, Blizzard is simply strangling a community that largely adores it.

Vanilla WoW Ratchet

Whether official servers are practical is a bigger question. It depends on what portion of the community follows Bootyjam’s lead and how many take after the enthusiasts who filled my inbox in distress at Nostlarius’ closure.

“The numbers for the server were pretty insane,” Brenner says, “something I’d never seen in a private server before. Guess it goes to speak to the quality of Vanilla WoW and Nostalrius itself. I think it’s a little sad how Blizzard keep trying to extend WoW’s life instead of just accepting it’s on the decline. I’d love to know the real reasoning [for the legal action]. Maybe there’ll be a statement.”

I’ve asked Blizzard for that statement to no response. There’s the usual internet petition going around, cruising past 45,000 signees as I write. In the meantime, I advise you take some screenshots, run a dungeon and say a second goodbye to World of Warcraft as it was.

 

[Source:- PCgamer]

Microsoft: No baked-in ad blocker for you!

ad blocker blocker

Microsoft does not plan on baking an online ad blocker into its Edge browser, a company engineer said today, rebutting a piece published Wednesday that got wide follow-on coverage.

“We are not building a native ad blocker within [Microsoft Edge], but we will support third-party ad blockers like AdBlock and AdBlock Plus,” tweeted Jacob Rossi, an engineer on the browser team, earlier today.

Rossi and another Microsoft developer, Kyle Pflug, who also tweeted comments about the purported in-Edge-ad-blocker, were responding to apost on ZDNet that cited a slide in a session held Wednesday at Build, Microsoft’s annual developer conference.

“‘Build ad blocking features into the browser,’ is also being targeted for the next edition,” wrote Ed Bott about a slide used in the session “Microsoft Edge: What’s Next for Microsoft’s New Browser and Web Platform.”

Rossi and Pflug said that the slide was misinterpreted. It actually referred to feedback requests from Windows Insiders — the beta testers who run the most problematic builds of the new OS and its integrated browser — that was being addressed by supporting third-party extensions, they said.

Earlier this month, Microsoft finally released a version of Edge that supports add-ons, making good on a pledge from May 2015. Microsoft has made available just three extensions, but has promised more will come, including some from outside vendors and developers. Among the latter: AdBlock andAdblock Plus, two of the most popular browser add-ons that block most forms of online advertisements that websites display to users.

That’s still the plan.

Some browsers have gone so far as to bake in ad-blocking technologies, but most do not, instead relying on outsiders to craft extensions and take any heat from publishers whose revenue relies on advertising (as does Computerworld).

Of the top five browsers, Opera Software is the exception: Three weeks ago, Opera announced that it had built ad-blocking into a developer preview of itsflagship browser. In an interview with Computerworld, Krystian Kolondra, Opera’s head of engineering, explained that the ad-blocking move was primarily based on a belief that by stripping out ads, sites would render significantly faster.

“It’s quite obvious that users care about speed,” Kolondra said as he defended the integrated ad blocker. “We should start talking about this. The [ad] industry should be making sure that ads are not ruining the user experience.”

 

[Source:- COMPUTERWORLD]

Pre-order the R-rated version of Batman versus Superman on Windows 10 and Xbox now

The R-rated version of Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice is now available for digital pre-order via Microsoft Movies & TV (or Film & TV in some regions) which means it’s orderable on Windows 10 devices via the Store app, on Windows phones running 8.1 and under in the Xbox Video app, and on Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles.

Called Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice Ultimate Edition, this extended R-rated version of the film includes over 30 minutes of footage that wasn’t shown in theaters as well as the original theatrical version. The Ultimate Edition is more than a collection of a few extra scenes. There were several actors, such as Jena Malone and C.T. Fletcher, who were cut entirely from the theatrical version and are now back in the film and director, Zack Snyder, has suggested in several interviews that a rather big Easter egg, which hints at future DC movies, has also been added back in.

The original version of Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice is rated PG-13 and is available separately as well for those with no interest in the Ultimate Edition.

Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice is the follow-up to Man of Steel, the first movie in the rebooted DC Comics movie continuity. While Man of Steel reintroduced Superman to audiences on the big screen, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice expands the world established in that film by bringing in Batman, Wonder Woman, and several other superheroes from DC Comics’ popular franchises.

The film has been quite divisive with audiences with some praising it while others are calling it one of the worst movies ever made. Did you enjoy it and are you interested in seeing this new version of Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice? Let us know in the comments below, and remember to refrain from posting spoilers. Not everyone’s seen it yet.

Pre-order Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice Ultimate Edition.

 

[Source:- Winbeta]