To help with self-isolation blahs, Google has made its Stadia Pro video game streaming service free for two months.
Phil Harrison, the head of Google Stadia, wrote on Google’s blog, "Video games can be a valuable way to socialize with friends and family when you’re stuck at home, so we’re giving gamers in 14 countries free access to Stadia for two months".
Unlike before where you had to order the Stadia controller and Chromecast in order to subscribe, now all you need is a Gmail account.
While most games available to stream through Google Stadia need to be bought, the Pro subscription does come with some free ones, the most notable of which are Destiny 2, GRID, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, and Thumper.
Stadia Pro is normally a $10 monthly subscription. Those already subscribed simply won’t get billed for the next two months, while people signing up for the first time will get all the benefits of a Pro account, and will be switched to a free account after two months.
Pro benefits include access to the free games and the ability to stream them at higher quality than 1080p resolution and 60fps.
During this period Google will be adjusting bandwidth usage to cope with the influx of new users and the increase of people streaming stuff online in general. As a result, games will default to 1080p rather than 4k.
If you’re new to Stadia, go to Stadia.com to sign up, download the Stadia app on Android or iOS, and then you can play on your laptop, desktop or Chrome OS tablet with your favorite controller or a mouse and keyboard.
Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson
Honeywell -- Yes, that's right, the company that makes your humidifier -- claim they've created the world's most powerful quantum computer.
In a race where most of the major players are vying for attention, Honeywell has quietly worked on its efforts for the last few years (and under strict NDA’s, it seems). But early last month, the company announced a major breakthrough that it claims will allow it to launch the world’s most powerful quantum computer this year.
Honeywell has long built the kind of complex control systems that power many of the world’s largest industrial sites. It’s that kind of experience that has now allowed it to build an advanced ion trap that is at the core of its efforts.
Computers use bits to transfer information. The more bits, the more data that can be transferred: think of the leap from the SUPER NINTENDO at 16 bits to the N64 at 64 bits.
Quantum information is transferred in qubits, which have the same purpose as traditional computer bits but are radically more powerful. These qubits can eventually form quantum gates, which can lead to quantum circuits. That's the measure Google was using.
Honeywell however is measuring what IBM first called “quantum volume,” which looks at a quantum machine more holistically, taking into account “the number of qubits, connectivity, and gate and measurement errors.”
“The larger the quantum volume, the more complex problems you can solve,” said Dr. Patty Lee, Chief Scientist for Honeywell.
IBM’s own machines have achieved a quantum volume of 32. Honeywell's machine achieves twice that.
Currently, Honeywell has about 100 scientists, engineers and developers dedicated to its quantum project.
Original projections might have seen Honeywell's quantum computer unveiled this summer. We'll see how things shape up in light of COVID-19.
Sent to us by: Bekah Ferguson
GitHub announced last week that all of its core features are now available for free to all users.
That means free unlimited private repositories with unlimited collaborators for all, including teams that use the service for commercial projects, as well as up to 2,000 minutes per month of free access to GitHub Actions, the company’s automation and CI/CD platform.
Teams that want more advanced features like code owners or enterprise features like SAML support will still have to upgrade to a paid plan, but the pricing for those plans have been slashed in half.
The company has always taken a freemium approach to its pricing model, but since its acquisition by Microsoft, it started to expand the number of features in its free accounts.
Github CEO Nat Friedman stressed that this move had long been on the roadmap and isn’t a limited promotion motivated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. He says, “This is something we planned to do and have wanted to do for a long time — since essentially we did the acquisition — and getting to this point to do it took until now, when it became a high priority.”
Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson
Astronomers say they have all the data they need in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Distributed computing network SETI@home has ceased scouring radio telescope data for signs of extraterrestrials after 20 years. Much like Folding@home—which is currently acting as the world's most powerful supercomputer in the fight against the new Coronavirus—SETI@home utilised a vast user-donated network of computers to analyse data, but is now heading into hibernation.
SETI@home has been in operation since 1999. During that time it has processed heaps of radio telescope data collected from the deepest depths of space and listened into narrow-band radio signals in order to track down anything out of the ordinary. To do so, it relied on the contributions of computers from across the globe—graphics cards and powerful CPUs in tow—all working together in order to learn of life beyond earth.
Don't you worry, it's not shutting down due to lack of interest. In fact, the researchers based out of UC Berkeley are inundated with the data. But with no need for further data, the team of astronomers will instead focus their efforts on back-end analysis for later publication in a scientific journal.
The project's message boards will remain operational, but there's no longer any need to task your gaming rig with the search for extraterrestrials.
SETI@home may one day return. Researchers are eyeing up potentially use cases and distribute tasks in cosmology and pulsar research sometime in the future. Nothing is set in stone, however, so better to put your gaming PC to good use researching elsewhere than leave it idling.
The SETI@home team recommends lending your help to Folding@home, and its critical task of simulating the COVID-19 virus. That project is currently operating at 1.5 ExaFLOPS of computing power kindly donated from across the globe. That's a whole Frontier supercomputer's worth, for scale.
Sent to us by: bp9