Valve finally replaces the faulty Steam Greenlight system with Steam Direct

Steam Greenlight’s always been a compromise, at best. The system, which allowed users to vote on which indie games should be on Steam, marked the beginning of a transition from “Valve as Curator” to “Valve as Hands-Off Storefront.” And with the new Steam Direct, that transition appears complete. From the announcement:Steam Logo

“Over Steam’s 13-year history, we have gradually moved from a tightly curated store to a more direct distribution model. In the coming months, we are planning to take the next step in this process by removing the largest remaining obstacle to having a direct path, Greenlight. Our goal is to provide developers and publishers with a more direct publishing path and ultimately connect gamers with even more great content.”

Set to release sometime this spring, Steam Direct asks developers to fill out some paperwork, pay a publishing fee, and that’s it. No panhandling for votes or having to know somebody over at Valve. In the announcement, the process is likened to “applying for a bank account.”

The fee is still in flux, with Valve saying, “We talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they gave us a range of responses from as low as $100 to as high as $5,000. There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we’d like to gather more feedback before settling on a number.”

Suffice it to say $5,000 would cut down heavily on the number of indie games hitting Steam, severely impacting many smaller developers. On the other hand, $100 likely isn’t sufficient to stem the tide of shovelware cluttering the store lately. There’s got to be a balance, though I don’t know what exactly that number is and I’m sure no matter how low there will be some developers who’re affected negatively. Enough of them, and we could see itch.io and other indie hubs surge in importance.

It’s also worth noting, though, that Valve terms this a “recoupable fee.” Hard to tell at the moment whether the money is returned to you automatically, or only after making a certain amount of money in sales, or whether it’s at Valve’s discretion. We’ll see.

In any case, Direct seems a world better than Greenlight already. Sure, there are concerns about the fee and its effects on the ecosystem, but I’d take anything at this point over Greenlight’s gimmicky, spam-prone voting system. We’ll update you with more, whenever Valve sees fit to break its silence again.

Ford to pump $1B into AI for driverless cars

Ford plans to spend US$1 billion over the next five years on the development of an artificial intelligence system for driverless cars.ric pa autonomous fusion

Ford will investment the money in Argo AI, a start-up founded by former leaders from Google and Uber’s self-driving car research units, and they will work toward the goal of a system that’s ready for deployment in 2021.

The research will be focused on a virtual driver system capable of operating at what’s called “SAE level 4.” It’s one of five levels defined for self-driving cars and specifically describes an autonomous car that’s capable of completely controlling the vehicle in almost any condition. After it has been engaged, drivers do not need to pay attention to the driving.

It’s a step more advanced that many of today’s demonstration systems, which still require driver control in many situations, and one step down from full automation.

Ford has already said that it’s hoping to have a level-4 commercial vehicle ready for sale in 2021.

Argo AI is based in Pittsburgh and was recently founded by Bryan Salesky, who headed hardware development at Waymo, Google’s self-driving car unit, and Peter Rander, who was an engineer at Uber’s autonomous car research project.

Like other auto makers, Ford has already begun researching autonomous driving technology, but Friday’s announcement, which also makes Ford majority shareholder in Argo AI, goes beyond the company’s own cars.

Ford said the technology could be licensed to other companies looking at autonomous technology. That’s a departure from much of the driverless car research to date, which has been focused on the company’s own vehicles.

Argo AI will have about 200 employees working on the project once it gets up and going.

Pioneer reveals the first 4K Blu-ray drives for PCs

When it comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray players, home theater fans have all kinds of choices including Oppo, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, the Xbox One S, with more to come from companies like LG. Home theater PC owners, on the other hand, have exactly zero choices for a Blu-ray drive—though it looks like that’s changing soon.pioneerbluraypcs

Pioneer recently announced two internal UHD Blu-ray drives for Windows PCs that are due for release in Japan in late February. Alas, it’s not clear when (presumably it’s a “when,” not an “if”) the players will hit American store shelves. Pricing wasn’t announced either.

The two drives—BDR-S 11 J-BK and BDR-S 11 J-X—are relatively similar. They both can play UHD (4K) content, but the higher-end J-X model offers a purportedly higher-quality audio CD playback experience. It also reduces mechanical sound with a quieter disc tray, and dissipates heat more efficiently thanks to a special paint applied on the unit’s interior and exterior.

Both Blu-ray players come in black only.

Pioneer’s new UHD Blu-ray players won’t work with just any PC. You’ll need a new one.

These drives require a system with a Kaby Lake chip (Core i5 or i7), a minimum 6GB of RAM, and Windows 10—not surprising, as Kaby Lake only officially supports Windows 10. In addition, you need a 4K external display with HDMI 2.0a, as you’d expect. Pioneer’s new Blu-ray players are region locked; however, the region settings can be changed five times throughout the life of the device. The company also says that UHD playback requires the Japanese language version of Windows 10.

Dauntless hands-on preview: Bringing the thrill of monster hunting to PCs

Those of you who’ve been playing video games for a while now (say, 10-plus years) probably remember a time where people made fun of Capcom’s Monster Hunter series. It was weird, and so very Japanese, and yet now everyone’s taking inspiration from it—The Witcher 3 had some vaguely reminiscent moments, there’s the God Eater ports from last year, Horizon: Zero Dawn on the PlayStation 4 later this month, and (from a much smaller studio) Dauntless later in 2017.Dauntless

I went hands-on with the latter earlier this week and while it’s still very rough—”clipping through the side of a monster’s leg” rough—there’s an undeniable appeal to fighting something much bigger than yourself.

Or two of them, actually. I went back-to-back rounds with the developers, once against the Shrike and once against Pangar. The first is a massive owlbear creature, which you can see in the game’s debut trailer. The second is some sort of lizard-armadillo that rolls around and tries to crush you. Oh, and occasionally if you’re not careful it envelops itself in ice and starts launching icicles at you.

Combat at the moment is mostly three variations of hack-and-slash based around whether you’ve chosen a sword, axe, or hammer (a.k.a. slow, slower, and slowest). Circle behind the animal as best you can, hit it in the back, dodge out of the way, repeat. I’m hoping for more options in the release, with both weapon types and special maneuvers. Or, hell, what I really want is a climbing system similar to Dragon’s Dogma—that game is janky, but sets the bar high as far as monster-fighting games go.

Dauntless is a fine proof-of-concept at the moment though. It’s got localized damage, and we managed to chop off Pangar’s tail during my demo, reducing the breadth of its attacks and giving ourselves a bit of a respite. I was told you can also localize damage to the face or horns for instance, with predictable results.

The Shrike is even more impressive, at least visually. It made for an ominous figure, propelling itself into the air, silhouetted against the sky and with its fifteen-foot wings churning up dust. That sort of dynamism reminded me a lot of The Witcher, with its larger monster battles often moving from arena to arena as the monster strategically retreated, rested up, and returned to combat.

My biggest qualm is how much we haven’t seen of Dauntless still. There’s a whole character customization aspect, both appearance and weapons or abilities, that isn’t in this build. We picked pre-built characters and dove in, which doesn’t give me a good idea of how these battles would be strung together or what else there is to the game.

I was told that players will hang out in a social hub in between fights, with 40 to 60 players breaking off into groups of 4 to go take on monsters. Then you can use bits of each creature to craft new gear, a la Monster Hunter.

Dauntless

But that’s more a sketch, the barest of ideas for how to chain these battles together. We’re going to have to wait to see how that idea fills out prior to release, especially since Dauntless is free-to-play. It’s got a good hook, but it needs to be extra-compelling to get people over the hurdle of “Free-to-play? Ick.”

We’ll see. Dauntless is maybe-sort-of-kinda-possibly scheduled to enter beta sometime in the fall, though anyone at PAX South this weekend will get the chance to go hands-on with the same preview build I saw. It’s rough, sure, but the PC could use a few more Monster Hunter-like games.

S. Korea plans to tighten battery regulations post Note7 crisis

In the wake of the Note7 debacle, South Korea is introducing new tests and regulations to ensure battery and smartphone safety, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.161011 note7 100686926 orig

The new measures will include requiring manufacturers to certify the safety of lithium-ion batteries based on new technologies in the process of production.

The announcement Monday by MOTIE also agrees with the analysis by Samsung Electronics and some experts on the cause of the overheating and even explosions of some Galaxy Note7 smartphones.

Samsung, backed by experts from Exponent, TUV Rheinland and UL, said in January that the overheating of some Note7 phones was likely caused by the faulty design and manufacturing of batteries by two suppliers, rather than by the design of the smartphone itself.

An investigation by MOTIE affiliate Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) also found that a combination of flaws in battery design and manufacturing processes “were highly likely” to cause fires, as “no particular abnormalities were observed in the smartphone devices,” MOTIE said in a statement.

KATS, for example, found damages by fire in the negative electrode close to the positive tab in a considerable number of batteries, according to the ministry.

Following reports of overheating of the phones, Samsung announced a recall of the Note7 in early September. But the replacement phones, which had batteries from another supplier, were also found to show the same problems, prompting the company to expand the recall to all the Note7 devices and to kill the product. The recall involved about 3 million phones, Samsung said.

The South Korean government is now planning to introduce more types of tests and request sample products from manufacturers when needed. By October this year it plans to modify the enforcement part of a local rule, the Electrical Appliances and Consumer Products Safety Control Act. It will be consulting with industry and consumer groups to reduce the impact of the new regulations on market competition.

Google ordered by US court to produce emails stored abroad

Google has been ordered by a federal court in Pennsylvania to comply with search warrants and produce customer emails stored abroad, in a decision that is in sharp contrast to that of an appeals court in a similar case involving Microsoft.Legal law gavel hammer courts

Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Rueter of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled Friday that the two warrants under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) for emails required by the government in two criminal investigations constituted neither a seizure nor a search of the targets’ data in a foreign country.

Transferring data electronically from a server in a foreign country to Google’s data center in California does not amount to a seizure because “there is no meaningful interference with the account holder’s possessory interest in the user data,” and Google’s algorithm in any case regularly transfers user

He added that when Google produces the electronic data in accordance with the search warrants, and the government views it, the invasion of the account holder’s privacy – the searches – will take place in the U.S.

In the Microsoft case, which was cited by Google, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York quashed a warrant that would have required the company to disclose contents of emails stored on a server in Ireland. The court said in its opinion that the SCA under which the warrant was served “does not authorize courts to issue and enforce against U.S.‐based service providers warrants for the seizure of customer e‐mail content that is stored exclusively on foreign servers.”

The architecture of Google’s system that partitions user data into shards does not let the company establish with any certainty which foreign country’s sovereignty would be implicated when the company accesses the communications to produce it in response to a legal process, making it difficult for law enforcement to look for other means such as Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) between countries to get access to the data.

“Google admits that the location of the data could change from the time the Government applies for legal process to the time when the process is served upon Google,” the Judge wrote.

Microsoft had argued in court that nowhere did the U.S. Congress say that the Electronics Communications Privacy Act, of which the SCA is a part, “should reach private emails stored on provider’s computers in foreign countries.”

The company provided non-content information held on its U.S. servers in response to the search warrant, but tried to quash the warrant when it concluded that the account and the content of the mails were hosted in Dublin. Microsoft instead favored an inter-governmental resolution to the U.S. demand for access to the emails in Dublin, through the use of MLATs the U.S. has with other countries including Ireland.

In the Microsoft case, unlike that of Google, all the relevant user data of a presumably Irish citizen was located exclusively in one data center in Ireland and remained stable there for a significant period, Judge Rueter wrote.

The assumption made by the majority in the decision of the Second Circuit was that messages stored in the cloud have a discernable physical location, which could not be made in the Google case.

The judge held that under the warrants against Google, “the invasions of privacy will occur in the United States; the searches of the electronic data disclosed by Google pursuant to the warrants will occur in the United States when the FBI reviews the copies of the requested data in Pennsylvania.” He described the cases against Google as involving a “permissible domestic application of the SCA, even if other conduct (the electronic transfer of data) occurs abroad.”

Google said in a statement that the magistrate in the case had departed from precedent, and it planned to appeal the decision. “We will continue to push back on overbroad warrants,” it added.

EaseUS – The Helpful Recovery Program

Is recovery programs are helpful?

If the most needed and sensitive data is lost, then recovering of such data and the deleted files are very important. So in that case, data recovery software is absolutely helpful. The organisation is in a serious need to recover their lost data. In such scenarios, they prefer the use of the data recovery software free.

This type of data recovery software is used by the people to recover their lost data and files back to their use. These data recovery softwares help the users to restore or recover deleted files and some other valuable and needed information. Mostly the need for this data is large in organisations where a large amount of data is stored and manipulated.

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EaseUS data recovery software

Preferable data recovery software by the people is the EaseUS data recovery software. This data recovery wizard offers the powerful data recovery functionalities and helps the people to recover and restore their data which is lost by them. The main aim of this recovery wizard is to make recovery easy for the users.

This data recovery software free program performs the following kinds of recovery process,

  • File recovery
  • Format recovery
  • Partition recovery
  • Hard drive recovery
  • Photo recovery
  • Card recovery etc

Why you have to use EaseUS?

  • EaseUS data recovery software is error prone, virus free and plug-in free
  • This software is used by number of people and it has good features
  • The users also feel best recovery experience while using this data recovery software
  • Another important feature of this data recovery software is, this software enables the users to preview their lost data before restoring the data
  • Users can also get a report of what data is backed up and when the last data recovery takes place
  • This recovery package is available for free for the users. This is the main reason why most of people use this program
  • This software enables the users to recover their data and files to be recovered in an easy manner. The main advantage of this data recovery software is this is free data recovery software which is available in online for free downloading by the users. This software is very user-friendly and easy to handle by the users. The users and the organisations can free download this software from online and can restore all their data which is lost in some complex situations with ease.
  • Users can find easy to use this data recovery software. There is user manuals are available in online for downloading by the users. This user manual contains all the instructions and steps to how to launch this software and how to use this software for recovering their lost files. Users find good user experience while using this recovery wizard and they can use this for recovering their files without any difficulties.

If you have to recover your files and data, this is definitely the best solution for you.

The Role Job Satisfaction Plays in Productivity

Typically the body feels more energetic when you are in a happy state of mind. The workday can slide by without much notice. Productivity seems to soar when everyone appears content. How can you spot areas to improve when there seems to be a serious lack of morale? There are assessment tools available that can help you determine how engaged your employees are at any given moment in time. Determining ways to improve engagement will increase overall job satisfaction.
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The Process of Determining Employee Engagement

Monday might be the day of the week that many grumble about, but they tend to be one of the most productive days of the week at a normal Monday through Friday work site. There could be an employee engagement problem if this is not the case. An apparent lack of energy, depressed facial expressions and lack of motivation are all signs that you might need to start researching why everyone seemed to lack enthusiasm.

Are Employees Equipped for the Job?

There are some instances where the personal lives and problems of employees follow them to work. You need to separate out whether this is the case, or if the job at hand might be too much for their particular skill-set. It might be a situation in which added training is needed to better equip them to handle the tasks. Often a few tips from a more experienced worker can make a big difference in how they approach the job.

Do Employees Feel Challenged?

There is a fine balance to reach in offering challenge to any position. You want to ensure that the position is not boring, but making things too difficult will leave employees feeling overwhelmed. Feeling discouraged about productivity will only make the situation worse. It is hard to feel engaged in any activity if you think your efforts are a failure.

Employee Surveys Offer the Answers

Taking the time to offer employee engagement surveys is a quick fun way to get to the source of a problem. You will know within a few questions exactly how engaged your employees are. You can see how they view your company, services, products, pay and benefits. You can use the information to develop a plan that helps increase employee engagement.

Contact an employee assessment expert like keygroupconsulting.com today and find out how you can determine personnel engagement. Take a few moments to invest in the happiness of your employees!

Three Business-Building Modalities That Can Optimize Your Conversion Rates

Conversion rate optimization is oftentimes one of the business owner’s primary concerns. If you’re thinking critically about ways to enhance your bottom line, it’s a good idea to operate in a strategic fashion. While there are many strategies you could deploy for the purpose of attaining a more substantive bottom line, the following techniques can prove particularly helpful:
Image result for Three Business-Building Modalities That Can Optimize Your Conversion Rates 1. Buy More Business Books.

One great way to start optimizing your conversion rates is by reading more business books. This approach is effective because these books can provide you with all types of conventional and/or innovative strategies regarding how to increase sales, retain customers, meet business partners who will push your organization forward, etc. Some business books that you might find particularly helpful include:

• How To Win Friends And Influence People
• Awaken The Giant Within
• Rich Dad, Poor Dad
• Good To Great
• Outliers
• Four Hour Work Week

2. Update Your Software.

In addition to purchasing more business-related books, be sure to update your software. Doing so will expedite your company’s daily operations while decreasing the likelihood of costly errors. When you shop for new accounting software, be sure that the products you seek out come with most or all of the following features:

• 1099 forms
• Check printing
• Accounts receivable and billing
• Vendor records management
• Customer accounts management
• Invoice creation
• AP document attachment
• Custom accounts receivable terms
• AR aging reports
• Sales attributions
• Progress billing
• Account holds
• Cost of goods sold reporting
• Recurring invoices
• AR comment support
• Balance-forward

In terms of customer relationship management (CRM) software, look for products that come with the following features:

• Remote access
• Mobile access
• Follow-up tracking
• Simplicity
• Integrated analytics
• Campaign management
• Master data management
• Stronger multichannel support
• Lead generation
• Flexibility
• Customization

If your company makes use of Mastercam software, you can obtain new products from organizations like Sierra CAD/CAM, Inc.

3. Enhance Your Online Marketing Program.

One final strategy you can deploy to optimize conversion this year is enhancing your online marketing program. This approach is empowering because it ensures that you can share your product or service line with people in the online domain. In some cases, a strong marketing platform has empowered a business owner to make the brand global in scope. Some of the key digital advertising services you should look for when you start shopping for the ideal marketing firm include web design and development, content marketing, social media optimization, pay per click advertising, and online reputation management.

Start Optimizing Your Conversion Rates Now!

There’s nothing quite like earning an increasingly impressive bottom line with each passing year. Start using the conversion optimization strategies outlined above to keep your organization on the road to an exceptional return on investment (ROI).

Benefits of Oxandrolone 10mg

Oxandrolone is sold under the trade name of Anavar mostly of 10mg strength available readily in the medical market. It is a favourite among professional weight lifters and athletes since the product serves useful purposes as an oral anabolic steroidal medication. To regulate the doses effectively, you should first undergo the cutting cycles of Anavar and later switch to bulking cycles for anabolic muscle growth. Obesity is a rising health disorder that is targeting almost every person each year across the world. The tricky solution to treat obesity is to rationally design your fitness schedule which will consist of regular physical exercise and standardized diet charts. Anavar helps in effectively burning extra body fat, without compromising with your inbuilt muscular unit.

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How should you regulate Oxandrolone doses?

Before digging into the guidelines of Oxandrolone administration, you should first look for the formulation and composition details of the concerned product as provided by the manufacturer. This is a really crucial step prior to the purchase of Oxandrolone 10 mg pills, as the regulation of the dosage cycle will differ from strength to strength in different users. While consuming 10mg tablets, Anavar does not cause any notable weight gain during the bulking cycle apart from helping in increment of muscle tissue. If you are looking for suggested dosage of Oxandrolone 10 mg tablets, you can log onto online medical sites which provide substantial information on steroidal products.

If you are a male consumer, using only Oxandrolone for bulking purposes at 10 mg strength, it will not cause any notable change in your muscle mass until a fairly higher dose is administered. This is the reason why experienced dieticians and sports person involved in body building do not recommend the use of such lower concentrations of Oxandrolone. The safe range of consuming Anavar tablets goes up to 80 mg per day as you will not experience any serious health hazards at that particular concentration. This is the reason why Oxandrolone tablets and capsules are becoming so popular in the fitness forum, despite having such a high purchase price.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Oxandrolone?

Anavar is a highly anabolic steroidal medication that exhibits very general androgenic properties. After undergoing a lot of clinical trials, it has been noticed that there are very limited adverse effects that you can expect out of Oxandrolone as reported by many male consumers. This is mainly because Oxandrolone is an active derivative of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is modified in a way that will allow it to metabolise through the hepatocytes without causing any stressful and dangerous toxicity to liver.

Reports from female consumers show that there is a common side effect of an enlarged clitoris, which is just a temporary one and do not pose any serious threat to your health. The suggested dosage of Oxandrolone 10 mg tablets can be consumed under the supervision of a nutritional expert, in order to experience maximum health beneficial effects and eradicate even minimum possible threats from the product.