YouTube Is Getting Serious About Blocking Ad Blockers – Slashdot

YouTube Is Getting Serious About Blocking Ad Blockers – Slashdot

Emma Roth reports via The Verge: YouTube is broadening its efforts to crack down on ad blockers. The platform has “launched a global effort” to encourage users to allow ads or try YouTube Premium, YouTube communications manager Christopher Lawton says in a statement provided to The Verge. If you run into YouTube’s block, you may see a notice that says “video playback is blocked unless YouTube is allowlisted or the ad blocker is disabled.” It also includes a prompt to allow ads or try YouTube Premium. You may get prompts about YouTube’s stance on ad blockers but still be able to watch a video, though, for one Verge staffer, YouTube now fully blocks them nearly every time.

YouTube confirmed that it was disabling videos for users with ad blockers in June, but Lawton described it as only a “small experiment globally” at the time. Now, YouTube has expanded this effort. Over the past several weeks, more users with ad blockers installed have found themselves unable to watch YouTube videos, with a post from Android Authority highlighting the increase in reports. Lawton maintains that the “use of ad blockers” violates the platform’s terms of service, adding that “ads support a diverse ecosystem of creators globally and allow billions to access their favorite content on YouTube.”

Famed brand RCA returns with new Evolution M Series Flat Gaming QHD monitors

Famed brand RCA returns with new Evolution M Series Flat Gaming QHD monitors

Ah, RCA. A brand that dates back over a century. Known for its ground-breaking ventures in the electronics industry, RCA has now embarked on a new journey, making its way into the competitive world of gaming monitors.

With the unveiling of the RCA Evolution gaming monitor lineup, the company has once again highlighted its commitment to delivering exceptional value. It’s a nostalgic yet forward-thinking move, reminiscent of RCA’s glorious past, blended seamlessly with the demands of modern gaming dynamics.

Today’s announcement comes as a breath of fresh air for gamers who have been yearning for an upscale monitor solution without burning a hole in their pockets. The RCA Evolution Gaming Monitors are crafted to serve as a gateway to a high-end gaming visual experience, with a price tag that’s as appealing as its sleek design.

Leading the charge is the M Series Flat Gaming QHD Monitor, offered in both Premium and Standard models. These 27-inch marvels boast a 2560 x 1440p QHD Display, supporting up to 95 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut, ensuring a visual feast of vibrant, consistent colors. The implementation of Variable Refresh Technology such as FreeSync and G-Sync is a testament to RCA’s attention to detail, aimed at mitigating screen tearing and enhancing the overall gaming experience.

The allure doesn’t end with just the specifications. The thin bezel design, coupled with an RGB LED Lighting System, enhances user customization and immersion, a feature that stands as a hallmark of a well-rounded gaming monitor. Additionally, the HDR10 compatibility and built-in speakers are poised to redefine game audio and visuals, ensuring a stellar performance across a myriad of gaming genres.

The Premium model of the M Series is a notch above, offering a blistering 240Hz refresh rate (rather than 165Hz) and 1ms gray-to-gray (GTG) response time. These features are crafted to cater to the needs of competitive gamers, ensuring minimal blur and virtually no lag during intense gaming sessions. The added Keyboard, Video, and Mouse (KVM) support alongside a USB-C port with up to 90W power delivery further accentuates the appeal of a well-organized gaming setup, embodying a blend of functionality and aesthetics.

The RCA Evolution M Series Flat Gaming QHD Monitors serves as a testament to RCA’s capability of evolving with time, while staying true to its roots. Available for purchase at, with the Standard model priced at $299 and the Premium Model at $429, it’s evident that RCA is keen on making a lasting impression in the gaming community.

Ultra Rare RPG Invisible Sun Is Making a Magical Comeback

Ultra Rare RPG Invisible Sun Is Making a Magical Comeback

In 2018, Monte Cook Games released Invisible Sun, a massive tabletop game where players took on the role of vislae—newly awakened sorcerers that have returned to travel across the planes of existence in order to hone their magic after exile. It was delivered in a literal black box and sold out almost immediately, becoming a treasured collectors’ item and an instant cult classic.

A new crowdfunding campaign for a reprint was just launched—and within hours, Invisible Sun’s return was fully funded. io9 got on the phone with Charles Ryan, the CEO of Monte Cook Games, who said he was thrilled with this support. “Clearly there’s some pent-up demand,” Ryan said. “When I say we sold out, I mean we sold out… There are no black cubes at MCG, nothing in the warehouses, it was not available.” Ryan mentioned that some employees even gave up personal copies to fulfill demand.

Image: Monte Cook Games

The game is surreal and strange; our world exists on a plane, but you play the game within the other planes of existence. The game is, at its core, about subverting expectations and forcing people to ask questions about the world around them. “It’s about how you juxtapose things in an unexpected way. We’ve all seen a cat and we’ve all seen a snail. But when you combine them that’s going to give people pause,” said Ryan. “A big part of Invisible Sun is that the concrete world we live in, where everything is knowable and provable, is a lie. The actual truths of the universe are vaster than what we are a part of.”

The game evokes a sense of wonder and joy, emphasizing a strange and overwhelming beauty as characters create their own directives in this world. In order to get to that mechanically, Ryan said, “You need to have a system that allows you to have unexpected results. You have to make it feel magical. There are at least four magic systems in the game, but all are driven by the tarot-like Sooth deck that will affect aspects of magic in game.”

And because the players are all magicians, in a sense, the Sooth deck is an immediate change to the core of the characters themselves. “As you turn over these cards you will mechanically affect the world on a turn-by-turn or scene-by-scene basis.” This means, Ryan explained, that players consider what they can do “right now” rather than what their character sheet says they can do.

Another key to this game, in a kind of meta twist on the setting, is when the game occurs even outside of the explicit framework of the table. “You can create scenes away from the game table and come back, have a conversation with the DM, and advance the story narratively,” Ryan said. These are called “side-scenes,” and “players can do this together, and go to the GM, who can [use] a single Sooth card to give players a resolution.”

Image for article titled Ultra Rare RPG Invisible Sun Is Making a Magical Comeback

Image: Monte Cook Games | Art by Jason Engle

Invisible Sun is based on the Cypher System, first introduced in MCG’s Numenara in 2013, and it’s designed to focus on rich character building and bonds. “Characters advance by pursuing their goals,” explained Ryan. “And characters actually have to experience joy and despair in order to advance.”

The game might be intimidating, but Monte Cook and the designers worked hard to make sure there are easy ways to onboard players. There are stripped-down versions of the character sheets that allow for people to drop into the game, and the world-building allows characters to enter into the game through the various planes.

One of the new products that Monte Cook is hoping to offer could help solve that intimidation problem, since even experienced players might find Invisible Sun overwhelming to start. The Wellspring will unlock after 656 backers (which, considering at time of writing, the Backerkit was almost at 500, seems incredibly likely), and “will be based on the idea of giving you a place to start as you build these characters in that first session and develop all their hooks. [The Wellspring] will also give GMs ideas for how to use those hooks in the plotline.”

You can back Invisible Sun on Backerkit now. A free quickstart of the game is available to download.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

Apple Weather widget is showing a file icon instead of snow

Apple Weather widget is showing a file icon instead of snow

A few days ago, Apple released a watchOS update that fixed an annoying bug affecting the Weather app complication, which had been broken for months since the watchOS 10 beta. But it seems that Apple still has other bugs to fix in its Weather app, as some users have been seeing a random file icon in the Lock Screen widget instead of a representation of snow.

As noticed by many users on the web and also by the 9to5Mac staff, the Apple Weather Lock Screen widget has been showing a generic file icon. Interestingly, this only happens when the weather forecast for the set location is snow and doesn’t seem to affect any other weather conditions shown by the widget.

On X (formerly Twitter), iPhone users have been making jokes about the fact that the Apple Weather widget isn’t ready for snow. The “iPhone weather widget apparently can no longer handle snow (neither can I, but that’s a different story),” a user posted on the social network. “The snow image isn’t even loading on my weather widget. It’s too soon for this,” said another user.

It is unclear whether the bug is caused by something that can be fixed remotely on the Apple Weather servers or if it’s a more serious glitch that will require an iOS update. Either way, Apple hasn’t had much luck when it comes to its Weather app.

Back in 2020, the company acquired the weather app Dark Sky and has since implemented some of its features right into the Apple Weather app. However, it’s been a while since users began complaining about its lack of accuracy when it comes to weather alerts and forecasts.

Apple is yet to acknowledge the bug affecting the Apple Weather widget. If you’ve been affected by this bug, let us know in the comments section below.

Thanks to Grant Cummings for the screenshot used as the featured image in this article.

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Google Brain founder: AI firms use extinction fears for regulation

Google Brain founder: AI firms use extinction fears for regulation

Andrew Ng, co-founder of Google Brain and former chief scientist at Baidu, has accused large tech companies of spreading fear about artificial intelligence leading to human extinction as part of a “regulatory capture campaign” to shut down competition from open source AI.

In an Oct. 30 interview with The Australian Financial Review, Professor Ng said the idea that AI could make humans go extinct is a “massively, colossally dumb idea” used by lobbyists to argue for heavy regulation that would crush innovation in the AI industry.

Ng called out OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, one of his former students at Stanford, for signing a letter in May warning that “mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority.” Professor Ng suggested OpenAI is incentivized to limit open-source AI that could compete with its proprietary models.

“There are definitely large tech companies that would rather not have to try to compete with open source [AI], so they’re creating fear of AI leading to human extinction.”

While acknowledging AI has caused harm, including deaths from self-driving cars, Professor Ng argued onerous regulation could do more damage than leaving AI unchecked. “I don’t think no regulation is the right answer, but with the direction regulation is headed in many countries, I think we’d be better off with no regulation than what we’re getting,” he said.

However, he believes thoughtful transparency requirements on tech companies could have prevented past disasters like the social media crisis of the early 2000s. Greater transparency will also help avert future AI mishaps, he said. Professor Ng warned against regulations imposing licensing burdens on the AI industry, saying it would “crush innovation.”

The scathing comments from one of the world’s pioneering AI experts suggest large tech firms are exploiting extinction fears to maintain their dominance at the expense of open-source developers. Professor Ng’s remarks lend credence to suspicions that anti-competitive interests have co-opted the AI safety movement.

Featured Image Credit: Illustration by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

NASA captures image of eerie ‘ghost hand’ in space

NASA captures image of eerie ‘ghost hand’ in space

In 1895, the first X-rays were taken when Wilhelm Röntgen imaged the bones in his wife’s hand. Now, we can use those same X-rays to peer deep into the universe. Using that technology, NASA has captured the ghostly bones of a cosmic ghost hand located 16,000 light years from Earth.

While eerie, the ghost hand isn’t actually a ghost. Instead, it is a nebula known as MSH 15-52, which closely resembles a human hand. The pulsar of the nebula is located in the “palm” of the ghost hand, and now images taken by NASA’s newest X-ray telescope, the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), have given us an even deeper view into the hand-like region.

Data from IXPE has shown researchers exactly how the magnetic field of the cosmic ghost hand moves, Roger Romani, lead author on a new study, says. “The charged particles producing the X-rays travel along the magnetic field, determining the basic shape of the nebula,” Romani says this is similar to how our bones determine the shape of the human hand.

Researchers looked at both data from IXPE and the Chandra X-ray observatory to get a closer look at MSH 15-52. They found that some regions of MSH 15-52 have extremely high polarization, reaching the maximum level expected from current theoretical work. The researchers say that the magnetic field in the nebula must be very straight for it to achieve those strengths.

That means that there is likely very little turbulence found within the regions of the nebula’s pulsar wind. Different levels of polarization are seen throughout the cosmic ghost hand, and the results overall imply that there is an energy boost given to particles in complex and turbulent regions near the pulsar of the nebula.

All in all, the image itself is very beautiful and breathtakingly eerie. Of course, the science behind it all is what really makes this discovery shine, and it’s why images from telescopes like this and the James Webb continue to garner so much public attention.

Multimodal AI become accessible: new model runs on your laptop

Multimodal AI become accessible: new model runs on your laptop

A new open-source artificial intelligence model named Obsidian, announced in an Oct. 30 Reddit post, represents a breakthrough in multimodal AI accessibility. Obsidian is the first 3b parameter multimodal AI — which makes it a model compact enough to run efficiently on a regular laptop.

Multimodal AI refers to AI systems that can process and connect data from different modes, such as text, images, audio, and video — in this case, the model accepts text and pictures as input, much like the latest version of OpenAI’s GPT-4V. While multimodal AI models like DALL-E 3 and GPT-4 have shown impressive capabilities, their enormous size makes them resource-intensive to run, requiring expensive high-end hardware — and their models are a closely guarded secret, so you could never run them even if you had the necessary specialized hardware.

The AI intelligence model, Obsidian, packs multimodal intelligence into a standard laptop’s memory

Obsidian changes this by packing multimodal intelligence into a model small enough to fit into a standard laptop’s memory and run at practical speeds. At 3 billion parameters, Obsidian builds upon the Capybara-3B model architecture, which achieves state-of-the-art performance compared to similarly sized models. The developer also announced on Reddit that a multimodal model based on the highly-praised Mistral open-source 7B model will soon follow.

Obsidian’s compact size is thanks to techniques adapted from the LLaMA model architecture. According to the Reddit post announcing Obsidian, it was pre-trained on a diverse synthesized multi-modal dataset, including text paired with corresponding images. This training methodology allowed it to develop strong language and vision capabilities despite its reduced parameters.

The result is an AI assistant with conversational skills and visual understanding that can fit in your backpack. Obsidian breaks down barriers to accessing AI, opening up new possibilities for on-device intelligence.

While still an early version, Obsidian’s efficient form factor sets an exciting precedent. It demonstrates that multimodal AI does not have to be locked up in giant data centers but can be made compact enough to be distributed widely.

Featured Image Credit: From Image Creation at Aimesoft; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

Ubisoft to end online services for 10 older games in January 2024

Ubisoft to end online services for 10 older games in January 2024

Ubisoft will shut down online services for 10 of its older games on January 25th, 2024.

This includes several entries in the Assassin’s Creed series, as well as one Ghost Recon title. The full list is as follows:

  • Assassin’s Creed 2 — Xbox 360
  • Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood — Mac
  • Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD — PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
  • Assassin’s Creed Revelations — PC
  • Ghost Recon Future Soldier — PC
  • Heroes of Might and Magic 6 — PC
  • NCSI — PC
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction — Xbox 360
  • R.U.S.E. — PC
  • Trials Evolution — PC

Without their online functionality, these games will lose support for online multiplayer, as well as the ability to link Ubisoft accounts and receive rewards through the Ubisoft Connect service.

“Decommissioning the online services for older games is something we do not take lightly, however, it is also a necessity as the technology behind these services becomes outdated,” wrote Ubisoft in a blog post.

Of course, Ubisoft is far from the only company that ends online support for older products. In recent weeks, we also saw Nintendo confirm plans to do the same with its Wii U and 3DS platforms next April.

Image credit: Ubisoft

Source: Ubisoft

2023 Halloween Hackfest: Quoth The Raven, “Caww!”

2023 Halloween Hackfest: Quoth The Raven, “Caww!”

Sometimes, projects start in somewhat unlikely places. This one began when [Istvan Raduly] scored a fake raven at a neighbor’s garage sale and decided to turn it into a thunder-and-lightning decoration that would frighten even the bravest trick-or-treater.

Get close enough to this raven and you’ll set off the PIR sensor, which triggers lighting and sound effects, including some spooky glowing and blinking red eyes, general cawing, and of course, thunder. The light comes from a whopping 10-watt, 12-volt power LED. This bird’s brain is an Arduino Nano, which is protected from the 12V supply with a boost converter. As you might expect, the sounds are on an SD card and played through a DF Player Mini.

Spookiness aside, our favorite part might be the absolutely lovely job that [Istvan] did decorating the raven’s base. Hiding electronics and hot glue is one thing, but this is above and beyond. Be sure to check it out after the break, both in the safety of the house, and outside in the scary darkness.

Pixel Tablet Deals: Don’t Miss Out on Google’s Tablet

Pixel Tablet Deals: Don’t Miss Out on Google’s Tablet

Google is officially back in the tablet game with its sleek new slate, the Pixel Tablet. The tablet offers much-needed competition for Apple’s iPad as well as other tablets in the Android space, including those from Samsung. It’s got everything to make for a great tablet experience as well, not least a cool speaker dock that comes included in the box at no extra cost.

There aren’t any straightforward discounts right now, unfortunately. But you can save some cash if you’ve got an older tablet to trade in, which many of us have in a drawer somewhere. We’ll continue to update this page as offers come and go, so be sure to check back often for the best prices available. 

Google's Pixel tablet perched on the speaker dock, angled to your left

Google/Screenshot by CNET

Google returned to tablets after several iterations of Pixel phones and a lineup of smart home devices, and it is clear that what it has learned from those devices is being used in the Pixel Tablet (as well as the new hybrid Pixel Fold). It’s powered by Google’s in-house Tensor G2 chip, and its software experience mirrors that of the Pixel phone, rather than leaning into a Chromebook-like experience as with the Slate. The included magnetic speaker dock also transforms the Pixel Tablet into a smart display a la Nest Hub

The device features an 11-inch screen, 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. There’s an 8-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and also one on the back for snapping photos.


Watch this: Pixel Tablet Hands-On: Google’s Big Return to Tablets (Again)

How much does the Pixel Tablet cost?

The Pixel Tablet costs $499 in the US. That price includes the 128GB tablet as well as the speaker dock that transforms the device into a smart display. The 256GB variant is $599. 

What colors does the Pixel Tablet come in? 

The Pixel Tablet comes in three colors: porcelain, hazel and rose. However, the rose color variant is only available on the base 128GB model. 

Best Pixel Tablet preorder deals

You can pick up a new Pixel Tablet at Amazon, although there aren’t any deals to be had currently. Still, this is the best option if you want to get your tablet super quick or have Amazon credit to spend.

Best Buy will sell you a brand-new Pixel Tablet in your choice of color for the usual $499 price, but you can shrink that by trading in your old tablet. Trade-in prices vary depending on the tablet, its configuration and what condition it’s in, but every little helps and you can save up to $325.

Google isn’t offering any deals or bonuses on its new Pixel Tablet, but it’s still a great place to order if you want to go direct. You’ll get the 11-inch tablet and speaker dock starting at $499.