Castle of Crows – Part 15

I stayed hidden until all traces of the goblin’s light disappeared. The darkness felt even thicker than before, and even when I’d slipped out of my hiding place I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face.

Walking through that darkness was possibly the most terrifying thing I’ve ever had to do. My only source of guidance was the Fortuna, and the hot and cold directions it gave me. Some directions just felt right, while others didn’t. Worst of all were the directions that left me with a feeling of intense dread. Those directions usually led to cells, or I assumed they did, based on the clanking of chains and the thuds of bodies hitting bars that started up as I passed them.

Something tried to speak to me once, and while I couldn’t understand the hissing whispers that started up they made me feel like a ball of ice was forming in my gut, and the urge to run away got so strong I didn’t hesitate for a second in following it.

I ran until my lungs hurt, and I didn’t stop until the only sound that I could hear was that of my own ragged breathing. I could feel the Fortuna urging me on, but I couldn’t start moving again just yet. Not until I had a chance to catch my breath. I took a seat on the cold stone floor and tried my best to ignore the coin’s directions.

The air here was thick and musty, which made it difficult to breathe, and the longer I was down here the worse it seemed to be getting. The urging from the Fortuna was getting stronger, but I couldn’t follow it. My head was getting dizzy, my limbs felt like lead, and very suddenly I started to think that there might be a reason that the coin was trying so hard to get me to move anyway.

I tried to push myself back up, but I didn’t have the strength. My dizziness was getting worse, and I felt so sleepy. Something was coming towards me too, I could hear the soft sound of paws hitting stone getting closer and closer. The almost cat. Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 15

The Adventures of Thalia and Friends: Lit!

Not everyone knows this, but cockroaches are pretty much universally hated. Like, it’s not that they’re unpleasant. I mean they are, but so are rats, so I can’t really judge them for that. The real problem with roaches though, is how flat out dumb they are.

“Whoo! We’re gonna party hard tonight!”

I sighed as Euterpe bounced around the pipes. Ever since he’d moved in with the letter-shirt humans he’d been especially insufferable. Calliope and I were fairly certain he was mimicking them, and his open invitation to all of the buildings residents to join him for a party inside the ceiling tiles was further proof of our theory.

“You look miserable, you know that?” Calliope said, sounding more amused than concerned for my well being.

“Do I? Can’t imagine why,” I said, rolling my eyes. “It’s not like I was promised food and haven’t gotten any.”

Calliope laughed. She always had a better humor for these things.

“Check it!” Euterpe said, waving his antennae at a large glass bottle that was half filled with an absolutely foul smelling liquid.

“Is that human stupid juice?” Calliope asked. Euterpe nodded, practically buzzing with excitement.

Continue reading The Adventures of Thalia and Friends: Lit!

Fortnite Tournament Results in Bans for Some Users

Cheating is taken very seriously by the folks at Epic Games; so much so that they are banning people during the qualifying stages of the first ever Fortnite World Cup.

More than 1,000 accounts were banned for cheating after a bot used by Epic Games discovered them during the qualifying tournament.

They would explain the reasoning behind these bans in a blog post that was released last week; the first Fortnite World Cup Online Open was held on April 13 and 14 with a prize pool of $1 million dollars.

Total number of accounts banned was at 1,221. 1,163 of those are banned from competitive “Fortnite” play for two weeks due to circumventing the game’s region locks said Epic.
“Fortnite” awards World Cup prizes to thousands of players spread across six different regions: Europe, Asia, Brazil, Oceania, and the East and West coasts of North America. 196 prize winners were disqualified and forced to forfeit their prize money for playing across different regions.

Continue reading Fortnite Tournament Results in Bans for Some Users

The Dead to Outnumber the Living in Facebook by 2070

Most of us do not know this, but the death rate throughout the world is increasing. While it is not at the point where humans are dying faster than being born, it eventually will happen sooner than you think. Just take a look at the users of Facebook.

According to data from Oxford University, the number of dead Facebook users could outnumber the living by 2070. This would leave a vast amount of historical archives and importance that needs archivists to be brought in and save the information said the university.

Currently, the global social media site has around 2.27 billion members, but 1.4 billion will die before 2100, according to the new calculations.

 This means that within 50 or so years from now, the number of dead could pass the living. This would be a milestone that has important implications for what should or could happen with the huge archives of digital history.

By the turn of the 22nd century, the number of decreased profiles could reach as high as 4.9 billion and it would be a huge representation of the heritage in the 21st century.

Lead author Carl Ohman, a doctoral candidate from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) warned there were problems with a single commercial company holding the largest archive of human behavior ever assembled.

“It may be of enormous benefit to future generations, and to historians especially,” said Mr. Ohman. “However, Facebook is a private company and is thus guided by what is commercially, not historically, valuable… Why would Facebook bother to store up to five billion dead profiles on their servers if there were no commercial inventive to do so? The problem is not that Facebook is a commercial company, it is rather the increasing concentration of historical data. Too few control too much.”

As of now, the process after a person dies, there two options for their accounts on Facebook. The first choice is memorializing their account for everyone to remember them by.  The word “remembering” is placed next to the profile name along a contact number for the person which is usually a family member running the page. The second option which is done by the user before their death is the delete option which just deletes their account after death.

It allows friends and family to view public posts made before their death and also post memories.

Now, the OII is calling for Facebook to invite historians, researchers, and archivists to devise and create a way to curate the archives so they are not lost forever and that they can be available to future generations.

The team said all social media networks with a similar global reach should start thinking about how the data of their users should be stored and used after death.

Co-author David Watson, also a doctoral student at the OII, added: “Facebook should invite historians, archivists, archaeologists and ethicists to participate in the process of curating the vast volume of accumulated data that we leave behind as we pass away.

“This is not just about finding solutions that will be sustainable for the next couple of years, but possibly for many decades ahead. Controlling this archive will, in a sense, be to control our history.

“It is therefore important that we ensure that access to these historical data is not limited to a single for-profit firm. It is also important to make sure that future generations can use our digital heritage to understand their history.”

However, the team said social network archives could provide a detailed view of history that has previously been impossible to see.

Mr. Ohman added: “Data from social media differs from traditional historical data, not only in terms of the content, but also in terms of the quantity.

“What we know about people in the past is basically based on men with power, who could preserve information about themselves to future generations.

“But we know way less about the thoughts and daily lives of the millions of women, workers and other marginalized groups in history. With social media as an historical asset, we have a chance not to repeat this mistake.”

These predictions are based off data provided by the United Nations, which provided the expected number of mortalities and total populations for every country in the world distributed by age. They were then mapped against Facebook data.

This research that was found by Oxford was published in the journal Big Data & Society.

 

Photo from Medium

Ubisoft Adds to the Donations for Rebuilding Notre Dame

In the few days after the world nearly lost the beauty of the Notre Dame Cathedral forever, thousands of people and companies have been getting together to donate money to save the church. This includes Ubisoft.

The company announced Wednesday it is making a contribution of 500,000 Euros (about $565,000) to the rebuilding of the cathedral. And the Paris-headquartered game maker said Wednesday it will make its virtual rendition of the cathedral that was used in their Assassin’s Creed game available to those involved in the rebuilding of the church.

Also for the upcoming week, Ubisoft is making “Assassin’s Creed Unity” available for free to players on PC. (Note, the game does have a ton of glitches so be warned if you get this game on your PC.)

“As the smoke clears on the events that unfolded on Monday at the Notre-Dame de Paris, we stand in solidarité with our fellow Parisians and everyone around the world moved by the devastation the fire caused,” the publisher said on its website on Wednesday. “Notre-Dame is an integral part of Paris, a city to which we are deeply connected. Seeing the monument in peril like this affected us all.”

In addition to encouraging others to donate to the restoration efforts, the company said, “We want to give everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre-Dame the best way that we know how.”

The company, which is known for the Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs franchises, is headquartered in Montreuil, a suburb of Paris, and also has studios throughout the world, with locations in Montreal. Toronto, San Francisco, Malin, Barcelona, and Shanghai.

For over 14 months, the game company’s designers recreated the interior and exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral for “Assassin’s Creed Unity,” which was set in 18th century France.

Experts have been wondering in the wake of the fire, which destroyed most of the roof and the spire, whether or not the technology that Ubisoft used to create the virtual cathedral might be useful in rebuilding the church.

“It is important to keep in mind that what we did for the game was not a scientific reconstruction but rather an artistic vision,” Ubisoft said in a statement. “While we wanted to be very precise with details, there are some differences in terms of scale and with some elements. That being said, we would be more than happy to lend our expertise in any way that we can to help with these efforts.”

Photo from PBS

Sunken Dreams

Isla was the first of her friends to arrive at the ship, as Cora and Kendra could never beat her in a race. She looked up at the ship in awe. It had sunk years before she was born, and the metal was covered in algae and rust. There was something written on the bow, but she couldn’t read much of the human language.  Kendra would know what it said, assuming she ever caught up to read it.

Isla scanned the area for signs of sharks; sunken ships were one of their favorite haunts. She thought she saw something in a porthole, but it was gone before she could identify it.

“Isla!” Cora had finally caught up with Kendra not far behind, “Why do you always feel the need to swim ahead?”

“Sorry,” Isla said, “but I was so excited to see the wreck, I forgot to slow down.”

Continue reading Sunken Dreams

Nintendo Gets Go Ahead to Sell Switch Console in China

Nintendo may have just hit the jackpot in a good way; they can now sell their Switch Console in China.

Nintendo shares were up by more than 15 percent Friday afternoon in Tokyo after its Chinese partner Tencent Holdings received approval to sell its Switch console in the southern province of Guangdong.

Authorities in Guangdong, where Tencent is registered, posted the news on their website Thursday according to Reuters, saying they had permission to start distributing the Switch with a test version of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

China brought its 15-year ban on video game consoles to an end in 2015, but Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox have struggled to gain significant traction in the huge local market. This was followed by a ban on new video games last year, which was partially lifted in December, with Tencent winning approval for some games at the start of 2019.

Some analysts see more potential for Nintendo’s games roster than rivals Sony or Microsoft because of the popularity of properties such as Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon in China. Nevertheless, progress in the market is likely to be slow, with new titles needing to be individually approved and a big backlog in applications that are believed to have built up during last year’s ban.

Consoles need approval from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, while software needs permission from the State Administration of Press and Publication.

With Nintendo being able to sell their Switch in China now, it will help its stock prices which had dropped sharply in January due to cutting the project sales of their console. The stock price has been down by 11 percent for the last 12 months.

 

Photo from CNET

Invincible

I still feel the throwing knives cut my Papier-Mache mind

As I create collages from the remains of my colorful memories.

Memories that have made me, but also eat away at my mind

Like camel crickets eating my clothes.

The holes almost unnoticeable unless you study me.

The bullets hit my beat-up armor bashing me,

The used ragdoll left in tatters,

Leaving black, blue, and green watercolor tattoos on my porcelain skin that only I can see

As I feel shame as a fragile doll, not the machine gun that I pretend to be.

The water fills my lungs as I continue surviving with five-second breaths,

As I pray for the black feather pillow softness of blackout,

But no, I am too stubborn to let go and ease into the darkness.

I’ve gotten too good at surviving, but not living.

Pushing the snowball up the mountain as it transforms into a lead boulder,

But still I don’t stop and give up,

Letting the boulder crush me, cracking my bones,

Smashing my rotten heart.

No, the blood in my veins pump

And my muscles cry out for relief that I won’t give.

My being deteriorates,

A zombie in disguise that won’t die.

No failure, no living, only surviving until nothing is left, but dust.

Such is life filled with pride.

Earthquakes Underestimated in California

If you live in, or plan on living, in Southern California in the near future, take this as a note. There will be plenty of earthquakes (mainly small ones) that you will have to deal with on a consistent basis.

In a ten year period from 2008 and 2017, the southern part of California was hit by over 1.8 million earthquakes. This is 10 times more than previously thought, a new study found.

Seismologists at the California Institute of Technology found approximately 180,000 earthquakes had been recorded during that time.

The data from the daily recordings showed that the region experienced at least 495 quakes a day. or roughly one every three minutes. The reason that most of these earthquakes were missed was simply because they were just too small to notice, even for the best technology.

“It’s not that we didn’t know these small earthquakes were occurring,” said Zachary Ross, lead author of the study and soon to be assistant professor of geophysics at Caltech. “The problem is that they can be very difficult to spot amid all of the noise.”

The study about these earthquakes was published last Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

Researchers did state that it was hard to find the smaller quakes or temblors because seismic data also includes background noise such as building construction and shaking from traffic.

To find the quakes, seismologists used a technique called “template matching,” where an easily-identifiable earthquake signal is used as a template to find matching data indicating a temblor. Researchers also used an array of powerful computers to scan the earthquake catalog and verify the new earthquakes.

Most of the smaller temblors that were found by scientists were between negative 2.0 and 1.7.

In a statement, Michael Gurnis, director of the seismological laboratory and geophysics professor at Caltech, said the study “has opened a new window, allowing us to see millions of previously unseen earthquakes and this changes our ability to characterize what happens before and after large earthquakes.”

 

Photo from Time Magazine

Castle of Crows – Part 14

The hall was empty when I slipped into it, and I grabbed onto the Fortuna coin once more as I tried to decide which way to go. Left felt luckier, though it was the way we’d come from, and I quietly crept down the hall. I continued on like that, holding onto the coin and letting it guide me, always following my first instinct.

Continue reading Castle of Crows – Part 14

Samsung Cancels Chinese Launch of Galaxy Fold

Samsung was looking to hit a home run with the introduction of the Galaxy Fold, a smartphone that is foldable. However, the first people to get the phone have had some of the worst experiences that anyone has experienced with similar devices.

As a result of this, Samsung has reportedly postponed the Chinese launch of its forthcoming Galaxy Fold smartphone, according to SamMobile. They reported that the issue wasn’t due to problems with the phone itself but due to the lack of a venue.

This also has resulted in the cancellation of planned events in Hong Kong and Shanghai that were set to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. This news came from Richard Lai’s Twitter. Lai is the editor in chief for Engadget Chinese.

As of press time, Samsung has not made an official report explaining why the cancellations happened, and they have not said if they plan on rescheduling the phone’s release.

This comes after numerous reports from various tech journalists and big names who found the devices they had to review ended up breaking after a couple of days. Some of the issues ranged from the hinge or screen breaking and some curious users removed the protective covering from the screen, which resulted in the phone breaking.

Samsung did release a statement on those reports, saying that it “will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.” However, all reports have indicated that they still plan on moving forward with the US launch date of April 26th, which is this Friday.

Samsung has a lot riding on this first-generation device. The $1,980 phone is the highest-profile foldable phone to hit the market, and reports that the devices are breaking after just a couple of days of use is potentially a huge setback.

 

Photo from Android Central

The House on the Hill

Far above us, there sits a house on a hill.
It sits about the valley—watching, guarding, waiting—
Removed from us who live in the valley below.

Its silhouette  marks the top of the hill,
Among the trees and the clouds that abide there.
The house rests at the top of our world,
Presiding over us all.

We don’t know what lives in the house.
No one has ever made it to the top of the hill,
Always getting turned about and emerging at the bottom.

But nothing comes down the hill,
And we are safe, here in the valley.
Safe and contained.

But I am afraid.

Afraid because we know that something is there.
Something  watches over us,
Something waits at the top of our world.

And it has never hurt us, we have never seen it,
But it keeps us trapped here, in the valley,
Never lets us see what exists pasts the top of our world.

No one else sees the house the way I do.
They believe we are safe, protected.
The house and the something within it protect us.

From what? I ask, and get no reply.

I need to know that which we do not
So I will climb the hill, which leads to the top of our world.
And I will not be turned about, and I will not return,
Until I’ve met the something
That lives in the house on top of the hill.

Spring Grass

The grass is growing green again,
Tall and dark and spread thick across the earth,
Nature’s carpeting.

The grass is growing green again,
The brown and yellow of winter is gone;
Spring is here at last.

It comes in fits and starts,
One day hot, the next so cold,
But the sun shines more every day.
As the nights grow shorter, warmer,
The grass is growing green again.

New life is rising,
Budding,
Blooming,
Growing,
Giving color to the world,
Which was so barren for so long.

The trees are budding white and pink,
The flowers blooming in rainbows,
The grass is growing green again.

The rains balance the sun,
Feeding life and cooling earth,
Washing away the woes of winter.

The grass is growing green again,
As life begins anew, fresh and thriving,
A temporary state of being, true,
But such a pleasant one.

Single Action Pistol

I’m a loaded gun with no safety.
No one knows how to take me.
See you think you’ll be okay
Because you know my triggers,
But one false move, one mistake
And I’ll fire.
I could hit you, her, or no one
So be careful where you point me.

Wanna play Russian roulette?
Then don’t be afraid to die.
This is a game of chance.
So, it’ll only be your own fault,
The blood on your hands
Playing with a girl like me.
I’ll kill you.

Don’t you know?
Dating is a game of chance, not skill.
Yeah, we decide how many bullets to load,
But you don’t load your own gun.
I load yours and hold it to your head
And unfortunately for you
I’m fully loaded.

I’m easy to trigger,
Completely neurotic,
One day anxious
Next day depressed.
Lacking control of my emotions
They pour out of me,
The blood gushing out of a cutter’s wrist.
Don’t trigger me.

See, I used to leave my gun unloaded
Pointed against his head,
So, when he pulled my trigger
He was safe from death.
He didn’t deserve that.
I trusted him because he had protected me
So, I was unarmed.
Surprise! His gun was loaded
And when I pulled his trigger
I wish I had died
Because he betrayed me
For loving someone else.
I promise I’m fully armed now.
Don’t fuck with me.

Error: Facebook and Instagram Down For More Than 2 Hours

If you had troubles this morning trying to log into Facebook or Instagram, no worries, because you were not the only one.

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were all experiencing issues this morning for users worldwide.

Two of the most popular social media sites, Facebook and Instagram, were both inaccessible, with news feeds refusing to refresh and the main Facebook.com domain unavailable for more than two hours.

WhatsApp messages were also unable to be sent or received (it is like a form of texting). Most people headed over to Twitter to share their complaints and concerns before the return of their beloved sites. Messenger, Facebook’s chat service, was also down for more than two hours.

The outages appear to have started at around 6:30 AM EST this morning, and some locations were more widely affected than others.

A spokesperson for Facebook released a statement to the Verge saying they were aware that some people were having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. “We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” the statement read.

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all started to come back online at around 9 AM ET this morning.

These issues come after Facebook dealt with a previous service outage that was the worst in the company’s history. It took over 24 hours before all of the issues were solved and for most users, it took hours before they were able to post on the social media sites.

Facebook blamed a “server configuration change,” and apologized for the outages.

 

Photo from Regenexx

Castle of Crows – Part 13

It took a while before the fear faded enough for me to move again. I crept out from behind the couch carefully, taking in the wreckage of the once beautiful room. There was broken glass, loose feathers, and even blood scattered across the room. Several pieces of furniture had been smashed, and I flinched as my mind matched the wreckage with the thuds and crashes I’d heard earlier.

I moved towards an opened but undamaged armoire; had someone been hiding in it? I replayed the fight in my head. Baron must have tried to hide in plain sight, posing as a decoration. Lilith had also likely hidden in crow form, and probably hadn’t shifted back during the fight. Which left Nixie, who had first spoken from this side of the room.

I pulled the doors open further, finding coats and scarves and, tucked in one corner, the set of glowing bottles Nixie had grabbed. She’d called them elemental grenades and said that each color was different, but she hadn’t explained them further. I grabbed them anyway; it just felt like the right thing to do. I scanned the room again, remembering one of the other objects Nixie had taken from Aunt Pen’s tower and the clatter I’d heard when Amos grabbed her.

At first, I didn’t see anything that wasn’t broken, but I also didn’t see anything that looked like it had been a box, so I decided to peek under what was left of the furniture. In the end, I found it tucked under the splintered remains of an ornate end table. Nixie’s box, which she said was a prison, and Amos had said only a human could use.

The box didn’t look very special; it was small enough to fit in my hand, made out of light wood with a carving of a Celtic knot on the top. As far as I could tell there was no way to open it, and while I could feel its power, I didn’t know how to trigger it. I sighed, the fear from earlier coming back as I slipped the box into my pocket anyway.

I was all alone in a strange world, and the only people who could help me were captured. I thought of Macey, safe in the tower with Alexei. Would the plan have worked if I’d stayed with her instead? I thought about trying to get back to her, but I didn’t know the way, and there was no amount of dumb luck that would get me back to the human world, magic coin or not.

Thinking of the coin, I slipped my hand into my pocket, rubbing it between two fingers. Was it the reason I hadn’t been caught with everyone else? And, more importantly, would it be enough to help me slip through the mansion undetected?

I felt a warm pulse of magic wash over me at the question and had the sudden feeling that yes, it could do that. I thought back to Lilith’s advice when I picked the coin, telling me to follow my first instinct. The coin had called to me then, and it seemed like it was calling to me now, telling me what to do. I took a deep breath, then turned and made my way to the door. It was time to follow my gut.

2020 Presidential Hopeful Plans to Launch his Campaign via Hologram

The 2020 presidential race is slowly picking up the pace with numerous Democratic candidates entering the race to see if they can be the one to replace current president Donald Trump as he looks for re-election. One hopeful is going to officially announce his campaign with something that has only been used in music so far.

Through the use of holograms, 2020 presidential contender Andrew Yang hopes he can be in two places at once while campaigning for the Democratic nomination.

Yang, 44, told TMZ that he was testing out the technology so that he could more easily campaign in the early battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire. While talking to TMZ, Yang would demonstrate the technology, which has been made famous because of Tupac Shakur, who was shot and killed back in 1996.

“Well, if you look closely at that footage, you’ll see it’s actually not me performing with hologram Tupac. That’s a hologram of me,” Yang explained. “I was doing a demo of what a hologram would consist of in order to send the hologram me to campaign in Iowa and other battleground states so I could be in two places or three places at once.”

Yang is a noted tech entrepreneur from New York who has a following of supporters. Some of his supporters use the name “Yang Gang” to refer to themselves, and they use sites like Reddit and 4Chan.

He is also known for his outside of the box ideas, which include cutting down on the number of circumcisions in the United States, making Tax Day an official holiday, and giving $1,000 to every single American.

As of right now, Yang is a minor candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, as he is currently polling at 0.8%, according to RealClearPolitics. However, he has raised over $2 million in campaign donations with 80,000 donors, which is enough to qualify him for the first Democratic presidential debate.

 

Photo from CNN