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Games

Driver Killed a Pedestrian in Japan While Playing Pokemon Go (fortune.com) 161

An anonymous reader writes: One woman was killed and another injured. In what police are calling Japan's first death linked to Pokemon Go, a driver playing the smartphone game hit two pedestrians on Tuesday night, officials said. The collision broke the neck of one woman, killing her, and left another woman with a broken hip, the Wall Street Journal reports. Police in Tokushima, on the western Japanese island of Shikoku, told the Wall Street Journal the women were crossing the street when the car struck them. The man driving the car did not see them because was playing Pokemon Go.
The Military

Japan Plans To Build Unmanned Fighter Jets (reuters.com) 117

Slashdot reader It's the tripnaut! quotes an article from Reuters: Japan aims to develop a prototype drone fighter jet in two decades with private sector help in a technology strategy that focuses on weapons communications and lasers, according to a document seen by Reuters... The military technology plan calls for first developing an unmanned surveillance aircraft in the next decade and then an unmanned fighter jet 10 years later, the document showed...

The ministry will also allocate budget funds to acquire an upgraded version of the F-35 stealth fighter, made by U.S. company Lockheed Martin Corp...as tension rises in the East China Sea and North Korea steps up its missile threat, government officials with direct knowledge of the matter said.

China

China Suspected of Hacking Organizations Involved in South China Sea Dispute (japantimes.co.jp) 57

Jesse Johnson, writing for The Japan Times: The ongoing dispute over the South China Sea has apparently spilled over into cyberspace recently, as hackers believed to be from China have attacked government and private-sector organizations linked to the row over the key waterway, a new analysis has found. Using malicious software, hackers have tried to swipe sensitive information from the Philippines and other targets, according to a report released last week by Finnish cybersecurity firm F-Secure. Notable targets included the Philippines Department of Justice, the organizers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and an unidentified major international law firm involved in last month's landmark South China Sea arbitration decision at The Hague, the report said. The Department of Justice played a key role in the case and reports ahead of a November 2015 APEC event in the Philippines had said leaders attending the summit would discuss the South China Sea issue.
Japan

Kids Can Now Learn To Code With Pocky, the Delicious Japanese Snack (theverge.com) 51

Dami Lee, writing for The Verge: Even if you didn't grow up in Asia, chances are you've had this ubiquitous Japanese snack before. Walk into most grocery stores in America and you'll find a box of Pocky, and in multiple flavors like strawberry and green tea if your supermarket is fancy. With over dozens of flavors and variations, there's a Pocky for all occasions! There's a Pocky for Men. Now, there's Pocky for kids, with an educational aspect. Pocky's maker, Glico, has made a game called Glicode (Like if Wilco made a coding game called Wilcode) that gets kids coding by having them arrange actual cookies and snacks, then snapping a photo to translate them into digital commands. Glico's other products like Almond Peak chocolates and Biscuit Cream Sands are also featured in the game, representing "if" and "sequence" commands, respectively. It's a lot like Apple's Swift Playgrounds, with simple programming tasks commanding a funny-looking blob to walk around on platform blocks. The app is only available on Android for now.
Japan

Japan Starts 8K TV Broadcasts In Time For Rio Olympics (pcworld.com) 154

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: Japan began the world's first regular 8K television broadcasts on Monday, five days ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games. 8K refers to broadcasts with a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. That's 16 times the resolution of today's full high-definition (FHD) broadcasts and four times that of the 4K standard, which is only just emerging in many other countries. The format used by NHK, which it calls "Super Hi-Vision," also features 22.2-channel surround sound. Public broadcaster NHK launched a satellite channel that will broadcast a mix of 8K and 4K content as it prepares to launch full-scale 8K transmissions in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The channel will be on air daily from 10am until 5pm, with extended hours during the Rio Olympics. Japan's early lead in 8K broadcasting is thanks to NHK and its Science and Technology Research Laboratories in Tokyo.
Google

Google Play Rolls Out Family Sharing (usatoday.com) 41

Google on Wednesday announced a new Google Play feature dubbed Family Library that allows up to 6 people to share apps, movies, books purchases. It will roll out to people in the next 48 hours in 12 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the United States) and requires people to sign up and add family members (you can add your friends as family member). The announcement is mostly in line with a CNET report from earlier this month. USA Today reports: The feature will allow users to share apps, games, movies, TV shows or books from Google Play on Android devices. Movies, TV shows and books can be shared on iOS platforms and the Web. After a user signs up for the Family Library, the person adds up to five family members and decides on the credit card that will be used for the families purchases. Eunice Kim, head of families for Google Play said a unique feature of Google Play compared to other family sharing initiatives is that family members can also choose to pay with their personal credit card or with gift cards. The same user who organized the family can control who below the age of 18 needs permission to purchase content.The feature is strikingly similar to an option in Apple's App Store that does the same thing.
Yahoo!

Once Valued at $125B, Yahoo's Web Assets To Be Sold To Verizon For $4.83B, Companies Confirm 206

The reports were spot on. Verizon Communications on Monday announced that it plans to purchase Yahoo's Web assets for a sum of $4.83 billion in cash. The multi-billion dollars deal will get Verizon Yahoo's core internet business and some real estate. The announcement also marks a remarkable fall for the Silicon Valley web pioneer, which once had a market capitalization of more than $125 billion. For Verizon, the deal adds another piece to the mammoth digital media and advertising empire it owns. The deal is expected to close early 2017. CNBC reports: The transaction is seen boosting Verizon's AOL internet business, which the company acquired last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo's advertising technology tools, as well as other assets such as search, mail, messenger and real estate. It also marks the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it only as the owner of a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, as well as its 15 percent interest in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. In December, Yahoo scrapped plans to spin off its Alibaba stake after investors worried about whether that transaction could have been carried out on a tax-free basis. It instead decided to explore a sale of its core assets, spurred on by activist hedge fund Starboard Value. Forbes has called it one of the "saddest $5B deals in tech history."Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was expected to leave -- or get fired -- said she intends to stay. "For me personally, I'm planning to stay," Mayer said in a note on Yahoo's Tumblr page. "I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter."
Businesses

Apple: Pokemon Go Sets Record For Most Downloads In Its First Week (techcrunch.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch that Pokemon Go has attracted more downloads in the App Store during its first week than any other app in App Store history. What's even more surprisingly is that the app was only available in a few countries at the time -- it initially launched in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. Apple didn't provide the number of downloads, but one can assume it's well into the millions. Pokemon Go is expected to become even more popular as it becomes available in more countries -- the game just launched in Japan today. With millions of downloads in the first week alone, Pokemon Go is expected to generate large sums of money for Apple. The Guardian is reporting that Apple will "rake in $3 billion in revenue from Pokemon Go in the next one to two years as gamers buy 'PokeCoins' from its app store."
Government

Saudi Arabia Revives 15-Year-Old Ban On 'Zionism-Promoting' Pokemon (timesofisrael.com) 328

An anonymous reader writes: Clerics in Saudi Arabia have renewed a 15-year-old ban on Pokemon, following the release of the highly popular augmented reality version of the game, Pokemon Go. According to Reuters, the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars reaffirmed a 2001 ban on the game. The Times of Israel reports: "While fatwa no. 21,758 makes no mention of the latest iteration of [the] game, it does list many sinful aspects of Pokemon. Firstly, the game is seen as a form of gambling, which itself is forbidden. Secondly, it encourages belief in Darwin's theory of evolution, and thirdly, the fatwa says, the symbols used in the game promote the Shinto religion of Japan, Christianity, Freemasonry and 'global Zionism.'" The ruling says: "The symbols and logos of devious religions and organizations are used [including] the six-pointed star: You rarely find a card that does not contain such a star. It is associated with Judaism, the logo and sign of the State of Israel, and the first symbol of the Masonry organizations in the world." Pokemon Go has been such a success that it has already doubled Nintendo's stock price after launching just two weeks ago.
Earth

There's A 50% Chance of Another Chernobyl Before 2050, Say Safety Specialists (technologyreview.com) 140

An anonymous reader writes from a report via MIT Technology Review: Spencer Wheatley and Didier Sornette at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Benjamin Sovacool at Aarhus University in Denmark have compiled the most comprehensive list of nuclear accidents ever created and used it to calculate the chances of future accidents. They say there is a 50:50 chance that a major nuclear disaster will occur somewhere in the world before 2050. "There is a 50 percent chance that a Chernobyl event (or larger) occurs in the next 27 years," they conclude. Since the International Atomic Energy Agency doesn't publish a historical database of the nuclear accidents it rates using the International Nuclear Event Scale, others, like Wheatley and co, have to compile their own list of accidents. They define an accident as "an unintentional incident or event at a nuclear energy facility that led to either one death (or more) or at least $50,000 in property damage." Each accident must have occurred during the generation, transmission, or distribution of nuclear energy, which includes accidents at mines, during transportation, or at enrichment facility, and so on. Fukushima was by far the most expensive accident in history at a cost of $166 billion, which is 60 percent of the total cost of all other nuclear accidents added together. Wheatley and co say their data suggests that the nuclear industry remains vulnerable to dragon king events, which are large unexpected events that are difficult to analyze because they follow a different statistical distribution, have unforeseen causes, and are few in number. "There is a 50% chance that a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs in the next 50 years," they say.
Japan

Japan Will Make Its Last-Ever VCR This Month (mentalfloss.com) 131

An anonymous reader writes: Most of us stopped using video cassette recorders a very, very long time ago. By 2008, DVD had officially replaced VHS as the preferred home media format, and the glory days of the 1980s -- when VHS and Betamax battled it out to be the number-one choice for watching and recording movies and television at home -- were very much in the rear-view mirror. So it might surprise you to learn that VCRs are still being manufactured -- at least they were until this month. Funai Electric, the last remaining Japanese company to make the units, has announced that the company will cease production on its VCR units, due to declining sales and difficulty acquiring parts. Their VCRs are made in China and sold in many territories, including North America, under brand names like Sanyo, but last year's figures reported just 750,000 sales worldwide.
Nintendo

Pokemon Go Doubles Nintendo's Stock Price (reuters.com) 108

An anonymous reader quotes a report form Reuters: Shares of Japan's Nintendo Co soared another 14 percent on Tuesday, more than doubling the firm's market capitalization to 4.5 trillion yen ($42.5 billion) in just seven sessions since the mobile game Pokemon GO was launched in the United States. The phenomenal success of Pokemon GO -- now available in 35 countries, the majority in Europe, and most recently in Canada -- has triggered massive buying in Nintendo shares, surprising even some seasoned market players. Nintendo shares ended Tuesday up 14.4 percent at 31,770 yen, bringing its gains to more than 100 percent since the launch of the game on July 6. Turnover in Nintendo shares hit 703.6 billion yen, surpassing the record for trading turnover in individual shares it set on Friday, of 476 billion yen. Trading in Nintendo shares roughly accounted for a quarter of the entire trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board. The success of Pokemon GO, unforeseen even by its creators, has boosted hopes that Nintendo could capitalize on a line-up of popular characters ranging from Zelda to Super Mario to strengthen its new foray into augmented reality. Pokemon GO is now the biggest mobile game of all time in the United States.
Businesses

SoftBank To Buy British Chip Designer ARM For $32 Billion (cnet.com) 153

SoftBank has agreed to acquire British chip designer ARM Holdings for $32 billion in cash. The purchase will give Japan's multinational telecommunications and Internet corporation a slice of virtually every mobile computing gadget on the planet and future connected devices in the home. ARM, unlike Intel, doesn't manufacture chips, but licenses the design for it. ARM customers shipped roughly 15 billion products with ARM chips inside in 2015. This also marks the first large-scale, cross-border transaction in Britain since it voted to exit the European Union last month. "I have admired this company for over ten years," SoftBank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son told reporters at a press conference in London on Monday. "This is an endorsement into the view of the future of the U.K."

ARM assumes the tentpole position in chips for mobile devices. It was one of the first companies to aggressively focus on mobile devices while other semiconductor companies were ramping up their efforts on desktops. SoftBank, which is based in Tokyo has become one of the most acquisitive companies in the recent years. It heavily invests in technology, media, and telecommunications companies. ARM could provide an additional boost to SoftBank's mobile strategy. SoftBank, for instance, also owns about 83 percent of the American wireless operator Sprint.
Hermann Hauser, one of ARM's founders, said, "ARM is the proudest achievement of my life. The proposed sale to SoftBank is a sad day for me and for technology in Britain." BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones asked, "Question -- if ARM goes, what's left as a worldbeating UK-owned tech player?"
Nintendo

In China, Fears That Pokemon Go May Aid Locating Military Bases (reuters.com) 173

The sleeper hit success title Pokemon Go is preventing many people in China from sleeping properly. Although the game isn't officially available in the world's largest smartphone market, some people fear it could become a Trojan horse for "offensive action by the United States and Japan," according to a report by Reuters. "Don't play Pokemon GO!!!" said user Pitaorenzhe on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. "It's so the U.S. and Japan can explore China's secret bases!" From the article: The conspiracy theory is that Japan's Nintendo, which part owns the Pokemon franchise, and America's Google can work out where Chinese military bases are by seeing where users can't go to capture Pokemon characters. The game relies on Google services such as Maps. The theory is that if Nintendo places rare Pokemon in areas where they see players aren't going, and nobody attempts to capture the creature, it can be deduced that the location has restricted access and could be a military zone. "Then, when war breaks out, Japan and the U.S. can easily target their guided missiles, and China will have been destroyed by the invasion of a Japanese-American game," said a social media post circulated on Weibo. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he was unaware of reports that the game could be a security risk and that he didn't have time to play with such things. He gave no further details.
Earth

Honda Unveils First Hybrid Motor Without Heavy Rare Earth Metals (engadget.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes: Honda has unveiled its new hybrid motor this week that doesn't use heavy rare earth metals like dysprosium and terbium -- though it still does contain neodymium. The motor was co-developed alongside Daido Steel and will use their magnets in replace of the rare earth metals because they cost 10 percent less and weigh 8 percent less. Honda is the first automaker to develop a hybrid motor that doesn't use heavy rare earth metals. The company says the new engines will reduce its reliance on the metals that are primarily supplied by China. They're expected to make their debut in the compact Freed minivan this fall, a vehicle that is already on the road in Asia.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Delivers 210,000 Signatures Opposing Trans-Pacific Partnership (eff.org) 101

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "The TPP is simply bad for tech users and innovators," writes the Electronic Frontier Foundation, arguing the proposed trade agreement for the Pacific Rim "exports the most onerous parts of U.S. copyright law and prevents the U.S. from improving them in the future, while failing to include the balancing provisions that work for users and innovators, such as fair use." At a press conference, the EFF delivered 210,000 signatures gathered in conjunction with other activist groups "to call on Democratic Party Leader Nancy Pelosi to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership from going to a vote during the 'lame duck' session of Congress following the November election."

More signatures are still being collected online, to be delivered on July 21. In a statement, the EFF adds that the TPP also "does nothing to safeguard the free and open Internet, by including phony provisions on net neutrality and encryption, trade secrets provisions that carry no exceptions for journalism or whistleblowing, and a simplistic ban on data localization...to buy off big tech."

Japan

Japan Says Yes To Mirrorless Cars (carscoops.com) 290

An anonymous reader writes: Last month, Japan became one of the first countries to allow vehicles to use cameras instead of mirrors. "Video mirrors" will no longer be reserved for concept cars. They will likely turn into a huge marketplace for tech businesses and suppliers now that the "Land of the Rising Sun" gave Japanese companies the green light by allowing mirrorless vehicles. While many would argue that glass mirrors work just fine, video mirrors do have some real-world advantages. They can reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency (Warning: source may be paywalled) while improving the looks of a vehicle in the process. In addition, they can capture a wide-angle view that can see blind spots, and they can improve visibility by digitally compensating for glare, darkness or even rainy weather. The first company to supply digital mirrors will be Ichikoh. Their first product will be an interior rear-view mirror named the Smart Rear View Mirror that will enter production on June 28th.
Japan

Japan's First VR Porn Festival Shut Down Due To Unprecedented Popularity (dailymail.co.uk) 74

turkeydance quotes a report from Daily Mail: A Japanese sex festival was over prematurely as herds of virtual porn fans caused overcrowding fears. Streams of locals were looking to get their hands on the latest inventions from the adult entertainment industry in the first festival of its kind -- the Adult VR Fest 01 in the Akihabara region of Tokyo. But fans of virtual reality porn, which re-enacts sex and other acts using a blend of simulation headsets, male-friendly sex toys and other gadgets, were left disappointed as the event was shut down due to unprecedented popularity. A Japanese reporter told VR Talk: "For those who did get to go inside, excitement ran wild. I'm not entirely sure if the same thing would happen in the U.S., but VR porn enthusiasts rushed to have a go at some of the latest virtual reality gadgets." About 20 fans were able to make it inside, but the event was reportedly called off due to the unsettling crowds gathered outside. VR Talk also reported that Google searches for the phrase 'VR Porn' have soared nearly 10,000%.
Canada

Canadian Man Invented a Wheel That Can Make Cars Move Sideways (nationalpost.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes: Canadian man William Liddiard invented a wheel that allows vehicles to move sideways. "True all-way drive for anything with wheels," Liddiard says in an online writeup for his successful prototype of "omni-directional" wheels. They consist of a specialized roller-equipped rim that can move horizontally and a tire that is rounded like a donut. "This is a world first bolt-on application for anything with wheels," wrote Liddiard. "Now you can drive in all directions, and turn on the spot, when needed." His demo video titled "you've never seen a car do this...," has received more than 1.1 million views since it was uploaded on May 10th. The wheels are a "proof of concept" prototype right now, but Liddiard says the design would allow them to be made as durable and safe as standard automotive wheels. Omni-directional wheels are nothing new, though they are typically only used in wheelchairs, robotics and other small-scale applications. Honda Motor Co. debuted an omni-directional wheel at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, but it wasn't for a full-sized car -- it was for a Segway-style mobility device. "My wheel can hold ten times more than the other [wheels], while maintaining speed," Liddiard told Postmedia in an interview earlier this year. He's currently trying to sell his invention to a major tire or automotive company.
Google

Google's 'FASTER' 9000km, 60Tbps Transpacific Fiber Optics Cable Completed (9to5google.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes from a report via 9to5Google: Google and an association of telecom providers have announced that the FASTER broadband cable system that links Japan and the United States is now complete. The system is the fastest of its kind and stretches nearly 9,000 km across the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, starting in Oregon and ending in two landing spots in Japan. The association consists of Google, China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, Singtel, and supplier NEC Corporation. The estimated construction cost of the project was $300 million in 2014. At 60 terabits per second, FASTER will help "support the expected four-fold increase in broadband traffic demand between Asia and North America." The system uses a six-fiber pair cable and the latest 100Gbps digital coherent optical transmission technology. The service is scheduled to start on June 30, 2016, and will help increase the connectivity between Google's data centers scattered around the globe.

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