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Microsoft will launch its new Xbox mobile gaming store in July

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Microsoft’s first-party games will be the first to be available on the web through the Xbox mobile store.
Microsoft has been discussing its intentions to establish an Xbox mobile gaming store for a few years, and the company is now set to launch it in July. During her speech at the Bloomberg Technology Summit today, Sarah Bond, the president of Xbox, announced the official release date and outlined Microsoft’s strategy to circumvent the stringent regulations imposed by Apple’s App Store.

Bond states that they will begin by introducing their own first-party collection to the Xbox mobile store. This means that games such as Candy Crush and Minecraft will be available for that particular gaming experience. “We will begin by developing the web version of our product. With this strategy, access to our product is unrestricted by the rules of closed ecosystem stores and is possible on any device and in any country.

The store will primarily feature first-party mobile games developed by Microsoft’s diverse studios, including highly popular titles such as Call of Duty: Mobile and Candy Crush Saga. Bond asserts that the company will eventually expand this initiative to include partners as well.

Although the store will include games, it appears that the essential elements of the Xbox experience will also be accessible. Bond asserts that there is currently no gaming platform or store that offers a seamless experience across multiple devices, where a user’s personal information, game library, identity, and rewards can be accessed regardless of the specific ecosystem. Microsoft is endeavoring to construct that feature through its Xbox mobile store.

Microsoft had been constructing this store in anticipation of Apple and Google being compelled to open their mobile app stores. However, it is evident that the software giant is not willing to wait for the Digital Markets Act to take effect in Europe or for any potential action in the US.

Establishing a mobile store exclusively for web-based applications will be a difficult task, and it is not immediately evident how Microsoft plans to position it as a viable alternative to the mobile games already available on competing app stores. Bond suggests that Microsoft will expand its reach beyond the internet, implying that it may soon introduce a direct competitor to Google and Apple’s mobile application stores.

In early 2022, shortly after announcing its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft hinted at the development of a “next-generation store.” “Our goal is to have the capability to provide Xbox and content from both our company and our third-party partners on any device that people would like to use for gaming,” stated Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, in an interview with the Financial Times last year. “Currently, it is not possible to perform that action on mobile devices. However, our goal is to work towards a future where these devices are more accessible and capable.”

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Engineering

Content creators on the platform YouTube have constructed a remarkable and “potentially hazardous” retractable lightsaber

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A group of YouTubers have created a remarkable retractable lightsaber that they classify as “potentially hazardous.”.

HeroTech recently released a video outlining their intention to develop a lightsaber that mimics the retractable nature of the lightsabers seen in the Star Wars movies, as opposed to the currently available models with fixed extended blades.

The team stated on YouTube that they were well aware of the challenges they would face when embarking on the project to create an actual retractable lightsaber. “Our primary obstacles were evident: achieving complete containment of blade extension and retraction, creating a compact hilt design that is proportional to the original, and producing a blade and sound that closely resemble reality.”

Creating a retractable lightsaber proved challenging, but the team successfully accomplished this by utilizing a magician’s cane, a tool that can contract to a compact size and extend to a length of over 0.9 meters (3 feet). After extensive tinkering, the outcome is a remarkable lightsaber that elongates upon activation.

The team clarifies on their website that this lightsaber showcases a dazzling blade of light that genuinely extends from and retracts into the hilt. “Equipped with a 12V COB LED strip, 4S LiPo battery, the Proffieboard V3.9, and a high-performance speaker, this lightsaber delivers authentic lighting effects and lifelike sound effects.”

The team also aimed to enable others to construct the lightsaber in their own homes, by furnishing their subscribers with comprehensive instructions on how to do so. Nevertheless, they have strongly cautioned against attempting it.

“This lightsaber is an experimental model and has the potential to be hazardous if attempted to be made by oneself,” they mention on their YouTube channel. “Although I am actively working towards improving this situation, I am unable to currently endorse this product for individuals lacking engineering proficiency and the determination to spend several hours resolving technical issues.”

Disney has developed its own collapsible lightsabers specifically for use in performances at Disney World, although they are probably not produced at a low cost.

Neither of the blades is capable of cutting through stormtroopers, as they are purely ornamental. Nevertheless, an inexperienced YouTuber successfully constructed a functional lightsaber with the ability to retract, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2022.

Alex Burkan, the proprietor of the YouTube channel Alex Lab, engineered a contraption capable of generating a plasma blade measuring 1 meter (equivalent to 3.28 feet) in length upon activation. The blade, which reaches a temperature of 2,800°C (5,072°F), possesses the ability to effortlessly slice through steel.

“An electrolyser is the crucial element of my lightsaber,” Burkan informed Guinness World Records. An electrolyser is a device capable of producing a substantial quantity of hydrogen and oxygen, and it can compress the gas to any desired pressure without the need for a mechanical compressor.

However, in contrast to an authentic lightsaber or the ones demonstrated by Disney, the blade has a limited operational duration of approximately 30 seconds at maximum intensity. Consequently, lightsaber duels are brief unless they occur in close proximity to charging stations.

Burkan also mentioned that occasionally the lightsaber may explode in your hand due to a hydrogen flashback.

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Software

The United States has prohibited the sale of Kaspersky software due to concerns about security risks originating from Russia

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The United States government declared on Thursday its prohibition of the sale of Kaspersky antivirus within the nation and is urging American users of the software to transition to an alternative provider.

The Bureau of Industry and Security, a division of the Commerce Department, has implemented a unique ban on Kaspersky, claiming that the company, being headquartered in Russia, poses a threat to both U.S. national security and the privacy of its users.

Russia has demonstrated both the ability and the intention to utilize Russian companies, such as Kaspersky, to gather and weaponize the personal data of Americans. “Hence, we are obliged to undertake the course of action that we are currently implementing,” stated U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during a conference call with journalists.

Reuters was the first to report on the ban before it was officially announced. A representative from Kaspersky did not promptly reply to the inquiry for a comment.

Starting on July 20, Kaspersky will face a ban on selling its software to American consumers and businesses. However, the company will still be allowed to offer software and security updates to its current customers until September 29. Subsequently, Raimondo stated that Kaspersky would be prohibited from delivering software updates to customers in the United States.

“This implies that the quality of your software and services will decline.” Raimondo strongly advises finding an alternative to Kaspersky without delay.

Raimondo stated that U.S. consumers who are currently utilizing Kaspersky’s antivirus software are not in breach of any legal regulations.

Raimondo stated that individuals and businesses in the United States who currently use or have previously used Kaspersky products and services are not breaking the law, have not committed any wrongdoing, and will not face any legal consequences. “I strongly urge you to cease using that software and transition to an alternative as soon as possible to safeguard yourself, your data, and your family.”

Raimondo announced that the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department will collaborate to notify American consumers. Additionally, the U.S. government will establish a website to provide affected individuals with the necessary information to comprehend the rationale behind our actions and guide them in taking appropriate measures.

According to a high-ranking official from the U.S. Commerce Department, the federal cybersecurity agency CISA will engage in communication efforts with critical infrastructure organizations that rely on Kaspersky software in order to assist them in identifying alternative options. The official further stated that they have no intention of specifying any particular action by Kaspersky that prompted today’s decision. (The Commerce Department asked reporters not to reveal the official’s identity.)

The ban, which was announced on Thursday, represents the most recent intensification in a protracted sequence of measures taken by the U.S. government against Kaspersky, a company based in Moscow.

In September 2017, the Trump administration implemented a prohibition on the utilization of Kaspersky software by U.S. federal agencies due to concerns that the company may be coerced into assisting Russian intelligence agencies. In a previous report, it was disclosed that Russian state-sponsored hackers had illicitly acquired classified U.S. documents that were stored on the personal computer of an intelligence contractor. This breach occurred due to the use of Kaspersky’s antivirus software, making it the first documented case of espionage resulting from the use of this particular company’s software.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2023 that the decision to prohibit Kaspersky has been under development since last year.

According to the company itself, Kaspersky has more than 240,000 corporate clients globally and over 400 million individual customers. The senior official refrained from disclosing the exact number of U.S. customers that Kaspersky has. However, the official mentioned that there are a substantial number of customers, including critical infrastructure organizations as well as state and local government entities.

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Medicine and Health

Microplastics have been detected in the male genitalia of humans for the first time

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Researchers have recently discovered microplastics in human penises, expanding the list of body parts where these harmful particles have been detected.

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are shorter than 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) and can originate from various sources, including plastic production or the breakdown of plastic objects. With their apparent penetration into every small space, some people are worried about the potential consequences for our well-being.

The initial phase of this process involves determining their presence within the body. Researchers from the University of Miami, the University of Colorado, and the research institution Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon embarked on a quest to ascertain whether these entities could be detected in penises.

In order to accomplish this, the team collected penile tissue samples from six individuals who were undergoing surgery to treat erectile dysfunction. One of the samples was used as a control for comparison. Subsequently, the samples were examined for microplastics using laser direct infrared (LDIR) microspectroscopy, a method that enables scientists to identify the types, sizes, and quantities of microplastics present.

The analysis indicated that microplastics were present in 80 percent of the samples, with sizes ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers. However, another microscopy technique detected some microplastics as small as 2 micrometers (equivalent to thousandths of a millimeter, for reference to their minuscule size).

The microplastics (MPs) consisted of seven distinct types, with polyethylene terephthalate being the most abundant at 47.8 percent. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of plastic, is frequently utilized in the manufacturing of clothing as well as packaging for food and beverages.

Polypropylene, accounting for 34.7 percent of the sample, emerged as the second most prevalent plastic. This versatile plastic is utilized in various applications, including rigid food packaging and plastic laboratory equipment.

The authors state that their study is a pioneering investigation into the existence of microplastics (MPs) in penile tissue. “Our research provides important information about the presence of MPs in human tissues, which contributes significantly to the ongoing discussion about the impact of environmental pollutants on human health.”

While this study represents the initial discovery of microplastics in penile tissue, previous findings have already identified their presence in the surrounding region. In a recent study, scientists discovered substantial amounts of microplastics in the testes of both humans and dogs. Additionally, another investigation revealed the presence of microplastics in all 36 semen samples examined by the researchers.

Scientists have consistently highlighted the need for further research, but they have indicated the potential impact of microplastics on reproductive health, specifically investigating the connection between microplastics and erectile dysfunction.

In an interview with Sky News, Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, the main researcher, stated that further investigation is needed to understand the mechanism behind the presence of microplastics in the penis.

The research is published in the International Journal of Impotence Research

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