Social media is big business, so likes and shares can be very valuable. That, of course, means there’s a market for fake likes and shares.
Three Chinese men were found to be running a complex social media operation in Thailand, the Bangkok Post reports, that involved 474 iPhones and just under 350,000 unused Thai SIM cards.
Wang Dong, Niu Bang and Ni Wenjin were generating fake page views, likes and shares on WeChat, a platform which has more than 900 million monthly active users. The men said a company in China supplied the phones and paid them 150,000 baht a month (about $4,400, AU$5,800, £3,500) for the operation, according to Immigration Chief of Sa Kaeo, Pol Col Benjaphol Rodsawasdi.
The trio reportedly used Thailand as a base because of the cheaper phone coverage fees. They were arrested at two rented houses near the Cambodian border. Thai police are investigating how the men brought so many mobile phones into Thailand and acquired the SIM cards from local service providers.
There are lots of strange things to discover in space, but flatworms sent to the International Space Station saved the really weird stuff for when they returned to Earth.
That’s when one worm, which had been partially amputated before being launched into space aboard a SpaceX rocket in 2015, grew a second head.
Planarian flatworms are often used in biological studies because of their impressive ability to regenerate parts of their bodies after amputation. A set including both whole and amputated worms was sent to the ISS for a five-week stay and then evaluated back on Earth for an additional 20 months.
One of the space-flown worms regenerated into a rare double-headed specimen. That’s something the researchers running the experiment from Tufts University say they’d never seen in their combined 18 years of maintaining a colony of more than 15,000 flatworms.
But that’s just the beginning of the strangeness. When the researchers amputated both of the heads from the newly twin-headed worm, the headless middle section grew back two heads. In other words, something that happened after the worm was launched into space caused its body to be “reprogrammed” to consider itself to be some sort of new two-headed species.
The worms that left Earth whole also did odd things, including spontaneously splitting into two or more unique individuals. The scientists note, however, this could be a result of the different temperatures experienced by the worms during their space journey.
The experiment actually isn’t about using space to quickly double production in the fishing-bait industry. Rather, it could be helpful for the future of long-term space travel.
“As humans transition toward becoming a space-faring species, it is important that we deduce the impact of space flight on regenerative health for the sake of medicine and the future of space laboratory research,” said Junji Morokuma, lead author of the study, in a statement.
No one is saying two-headed astronauts are a good idea just yet, but it sure would make it easy to pilot the ship in shifts on those long, long trips to Mars.
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Just a few hours after Microsoft unveils the new Xbox, the E3 spotlight shifts to Bethesda.
This year, the company built a makeshift theme park called “Bethesdaland” with a ferris wheel and food inspired by the company’s popular Fallout post-apocalyptic video game series. There were also drinks inspired by the shooting games Doom and Quake, and a star lounge made to make you feel like you’re in the space horror game Prey.
12 months on, at the 2017 E3 press conference, Bethesda again donned the headset to talk VR, announcing that we’d not only be getting Fallout 4 VR, but we’d also be able to shoot demons in space in a VR version of the genre-definining first-person shooter, Doom. Both titles will be out before the end of the year.
The company known for the Fallout and Elder Scrolls also announced the Creation Club — a community platform for custom game content for Fallout 4 and Skyrim. Those game series have a long history of user-driven mod content, and putting it at your fingertips is a natural fit for Bethesda. This summer, you’ll be able to browse limitless new content in the platform on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Speaking of Skyrim, Bethesda also said that the Nintendo Switch version, due out later this year, would include a Breath of the Wild Link outfit. The crowd went a little nuts at that one.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends
The Skyrim train just keeps rolling, as Bethesda unveiled some new content for its upcoming digital card game, Elder Scrolls Legends. Based on the hugely popular Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, expect dragons, huge vaguely Nordic dudes and axes to invade the card game, hitting on June 29.
Dishonored 2, too
The acclaimed stealth first-person shooter is back on September 15. A returning Daud, rather than series mainstays Corvo or Emily Caldwin, is the main character, and based on the short teaser, you’re hunting down a being of immense magical power with a knife and a crossbow. Sounds fun.
B.J. Blazkowicz, renowned Nazi-killer, is coming to Bethesda’s arena shooter, Quake Champions. With a renewed committment to esports and $1 million on the line at the August Quake World Championship, Bethesda was keen to remind everyone that they’ve been doing this whole esports thing for a while.
The first of Bethesdaland’s under construction areas (and its first strictly new announcement) was unveiled as a terrifying new installment in the Evil Within series. The sequel to Shinji Mikami’s survival horror game debuted with a very creepy cinematic trailer, and promises more of the same encroaching sense of dread and downright weirdness of the first. And, wouldn’t you know it, Evil Within 2 is out on Friday, October 13.
Cats watching TV
The second announcement was a little weirder. Opening on an old fashioned film of a young girl and her horrifying robot dog, it soon showed a cat in a space suit flicking through the channels to show such programs as the gameshow “German, or Else”. From the first Swastika, it could only be one thing: a new game in the Wolfenstein series (see the earlier mention of Nazi killer B.J. Blazkowicz).
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus has a decidedly american Resistance flavour, with a small band of underground rebels working to destabilize the oppressive Nazi regime that took over the world. Oh, we should also mention, it’s set in an alternate history version of the US where the outcome of WWII was kind of different.
You’ll be able to enter the killin’ Nazi business later this year. Danke schoen.
Note: The stream may contain profanity, digital violence and other adult-oriented, NSFW content. Viewer discretion is advised.
For more on E3 2017, check out complete coverage on CNET and GameSpot.
Originally published June 10, 8:00 a.m. PT. Updated June 11 at 9:40 p.m. PT: Details from the press conference.
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It’s been 12 years since Kingdom Hearts II, and four years since Square Enix announced Kingdom Hearts III.
But the creators of the fan-favorite Disney and Final Fantasy mash-up video game are not done teasing.
In a brand new Japanese-language trailer — the first trailer since E3 2015, since the game was an utter no-show last year — developer Square Enix offers yet another tease. They suggest the next time we hear about the game, it’ll be in the form of yet another trailer at the official Disney Fan Club’s D23 Expo on July 17.
Yep: it’s a trailer for a trailer, with little of substance revealed — and yet it’s most likely enough to tug at the heartstrings of fans who’ve been waiting over a decade to see what happens to Sora, Donald Duck, Goofy, Kairi, Riku and all their Final Fantasy pals.
And in case you’re holding out hope that Square Enix gives us substantive info about the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake instead, I should warn you right now that those are pretty unlikely here at E3 2017: director Tetsuya Nomura already telegraphed that neither FFVII Remake nor Kingdom Hearts III are anywhere near completion, and FFVII in particular has undergone some restructuring with regards to its development team.
While you wait, maybe go try Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep? You may also be able to scratch your Final Fantasy itch with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, a 3-vs-3 fighting game Square Enix announced just before E3. Trailer here: