VR game The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is officially coming to Oculus Quest October 13th, Skydance Interactive developers announced Wednesday during Facebook Connect. The game was one of several announced today alongside the brand-new Oculus Quest 2 hardware. Soon, you’ll be able to hack and slash walkers wire-free in what developers billed as the “most brutal and immersive survival game in VR.”
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners takes place in a walker-infested New Orleans, where you must fight your way through the streets and negotiate with warring factions. The “Meatgrinder Update,” which challenges you to battle “relentless waves” of walkers, will be available on the Oculus Quest in the weeks after the October 13th launch. Previously, the game was available on the PC for Oculus Rift as well as on the PlayStation 4 with PSVR. An Oculus Quest release means the game can be experienced sans wires and without a PC.
Coronavirus studies: why it’s important to look for their limitations
This week, I got to talk about vaccines and vaccine information with Natalie Dean, and The Sports Grind Entertainment’s Nicole Wetsman and Nilay Patel on The Sports Grind Entertainmentcast. It was a great conversation with Dean, who is an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida and an expert in infectious disease epidemiology who has worked on designing vaccine trials.
After the podcast, I got to ask something that had been on my mind: how did she — a person who works with scientific data every day — feel about the flood of early versions of scientific studies being posted online? And how much attention should the general public be paying to them?
Before we get to her answer, let’s take a quick step back to talk about what these early studies are. Scientists call them preprints, and they are studies that get posted online before they’ve been published in a scientific journal. They haven’t been fully vetted by other experts (a process called peer review). Preprints are helpful to scientists because they quickly put data out into the world that could be useful to other researchers.
The downside? They’re essentially first drafts, and conclusions could change after the researchers get feedback. Balancing the need for speedy data with the need for reviewing work before it goes public is especially tricky during the pandemic — and both the pace of publication and attention to preprints has definitely amped up in the past several months.
“There already were these preprint servers before, but they’ve never been used to this degree,” Dean says. For a long time, prestigious journals would refuse to publish a paper if it had been posted elsewhere, which meant scientists kept their research under wraps until they had their final draft.
That’s started to change over the last few years as journals have loosened their restrictions. Now there’s a flood of coronavirus-related papers available online, and some can attract a lot of attention — and confusion. Not all of that attention is a good thing, as Kelsey Piper wrote for Vox back in May:
The newer, faster pace could mean that badly flawed pre-prints get widely shared and covered in the media, fueling the spread of misinformation and forcing other scientists to waste valuable time by publicly debunking papers that would ordinarily be rejected in the peer-review process.
Piper pointed out that there were plenty of advantages to preprints, too — they force data to move at 21st-century speeds instead of staying stuck in the 19th century, and when lots of experts are actively participating in the process, they can cut out a ton of unnecessary downtime.
That’s especially true in a pandemic. “My feeling is the benefits outweigh the risks in the situation where time is of the essence, and we’re all learning from each other,” Dean says. And the pace of academic publishing is so slow, that I just don’t think it is still viable.”
But there’s still that one big disadvantage. “Scientists know how to evaluate the limitations of preprints. But it’s challenging for the public to do so,” Dean says.
She’s got a good tip to help readers start assessing news stories about preprints: look for the limitations. A story that tells you what the study doesn’t is helpful. This doesn’t just apply to preprints, either: it’s good advice for any story about a scientific paper. All studies have limitations; good reporters tell you what they are.
In other words, look for the peer review in a news story, especially when it comes to a preprint. Look for it on Twitter, where Dean and other researchers have thrown cold water on extraordinary claims. Look for it in dedicated volunteer efforts, like Johns Hopkins’ 2019 Novel Coronavirus Research Compendium which actively assesses papers that get a lot of media attention. Look for it at Rapid Reviews: COVID-19, an open-access journal explicitly devoted to peer-reviewing COVID-19 preprints. And most of all, as we keep wading through a flood of information, take a beat to look skeptically on claims that seem incredible.
“The more extreme a result seems, the more evidence we need to support that,” Dean says.
Here’s what else is going on this week:
Around 2 percent of Red Cross blood donors have COVID-19 antibodies
Only a small number of blood donors had antibodies to the coronavirus, a study from the Red Cross found. That indicates “that very few people in the United States have been exposed to the virus that’s ravaged the country,” Nicole Wetsman reports.
(Nicole Wetsman / The Sports Grind Entertainment)
Coronavirus May Increase Premature Births, Studies Suggest
New studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some evidence that coronavirus infections in pregnant women could increase the rate of premature births, but other experts say a lot more information is needed.
(Roni Caryn Rabin / The New York Times)
Two Pharma Companies Released Their Coronavirus Vaccine Blueprints In A Bid To Regain Public Trust
This week, both Moderna and Pfizer released their “blueprints” for their respective clinical trials. The documents cover how the companies have mapped out their trials, and they provide a window into the vaccine development process at a moment when trust in that process is waning. (Stephanie M. Lee and Dan Vergano / BuzzFeed)
How to Ship a Vaccine at –80°C, and Other Obstacles in the Covid Fight
To get ready for a vaccine rollout, FedEx and UPS are installing freezers at hubs around the world. Also, there’s a dry ice shortage.
(David Gelles / The New York Times)
Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody helps some patients rid their systems of virus sooner in early analysis
Early data from a treatment study involving manufactured antibodies had some promising early results. But the results are very early and have not been peer reviewed.
(Matthew Herper and Damian Garde / STAT)
Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar
In an effort to protect patients from the coronavirus, nursing homes have closed their doors to visitors. It’s been a devastating road for families trying to care for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia. (William Wan / The Washington Post)
I Am Not a Brave Person. I Am Also Patient 1133.
Writer Molly Jong-Fast writes about her experience as a volunteer in Pfizer’s vaccine trial and why she chose to participate in the first place:
I am a normal, un-brave person. I am also a part of history now, part of a small group that may be protected from the deadly virus, or who may not be, but whose experience will have something to teach others. I no longer feel I’m simply waiting around to get sick.
(Molly Jong-Fast / The New York Times)
More than numbers
To the more than 30,316,394 people worldwide who have tested positive, may your road to recovery be smooth.
To the families and friends of the 948,367 people who have died worldwide — 198,306 of those in the US — your loved ones are not forgotten.
Stay safe, everyone.
Six people indicted in Amazon Marketplace bribery scheme to help third-party sellers
Six people have been indicted by a grand jury in Washington state on charges they bribed Amazon employees to manipulate third-party seller listings on the e-commerce site, including listings for defective or dangerous products, authorities said.
Starting in 2017, the people, including two former Amazon employees, paid more than $100,000 to have listings of products and accounts that Amazon had blocked or suspended from its Marketplace, which allows third-party sellers to promote and sell their products, the Department of Justice said. The former employees also provided internal Amazon information that allowed attacks on other third-party sellers and their accounts, including flooding the sellers’ product listings with fake negative reviews, authorities said.
The defendants accessed contact information for Amazon employees and customers, which they shared widely, according to authorities. Three of the people were based in New York, one in Georgia, one in California, and one was in India,
“Realizing they could not compete on a level playing field, the subjects turned to bribery and fraud in order to gain the upper hand. What’s equally concerning, not only did they attempt to increase sales of their own products, but sought to damage and discredit their competitors,” Raymond Duda, FBI Seattle Special agent in charge, said in a statement.
The reinstated product listings included dietary supplements which had been removed for safety complaints, household electronics that had been flagged as flammable, products that had been removed for intellectual property violations, as well as other items. Some of the reinstated accounts had been suspended for posting deceptive product reviews, while others had been removed for making “improper contact with consumers,” as well as other violations of Amazon’s policies.
“Amazon has systems in place to detect suspicious behavior by sellers or employees, and teams in place to investigate and stop prohibited activity,” the company said in a statement. “We are especially disappointed by the actions of this limited group of now former employees, and appreciate the collaboration and support from law enforcement to bring them and the bad actors they were entwined with to justice.”
Amazon’s ongoing struggles with third-party sellers and its Marketplace were under the spotlight this summer, as lawmakers questioned CEO Jeff Bezos during an antitrust hearing before the House Judiciary Committee about counterfeit concerns, and alleged anti-competitive behavior from the retailer itself: Amazon has been accused of copying Marketplace products to create its own competing products, a claim the company has denied.
Analysts have estimated third-party sellers account for about half of sales on the site. Third-party sellers appear in normal Amazon listings, with a line of text to indicate that Amazon itself isn’t the actual seller.
The six defendants in Washington state face charges of wire fraud, bribery, and gaining unauthorized access to protected computer systems. The wire fraud charges carry a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years.
First PS5 photos show just how big Sony’s next-gen console truly is
Sony’s upcoming PS5 hardware has appeared at the FCC, providing us with the first close up photos of the next-gen console. The FCC has published a variety of images, showing the standard PS5 laying horizontally, the included cables, and the removable base that holds the console in both vertical and horizontal positions.
The photos also show just how big the PS5 truly is. We learned earlier this week that the PS5 is the biggest game console in modern history, even topping the Xbox One VCR-like shape and Sony’s own PS3. Sony released official dimensions during its PS5 event this week, but they don’t include the “largest projection” or the optional base measurements.
It’s clear from these FCC photos that it’s going to be a challenge to fit a PS5 into entertainment centers, just as it will be with the Xbox Series X. Both consoles appear to be designed to primarily stand vertically, looking rather unwieldy on their sides.
Unfortunately, the FCC photos don’t offer a close look at exactly how you access the NVMe slot on the PS5. Sony is allowing PS5 owners to expand storage space, but we still don’t have full details on exactly how this will work. Sony has also teased that the PS5 hardware is customizable in ways that previous generations of PlayStation consoles weren’t, so it’s possible that at least one side panel of the PS5 is removable.
Sony is launching the PS5 in the US on November 12th, priced at $499.99. A second disc-less PS5 Digital Edition will also be available for $399.99. Sony also revealed earlier this week that PS5 games will cost up to $69.99.
- Human remains found buried at Queens construction site: cops
- George Kittle heads lengthy list of absences
- US borders with Canada, Mexico to remain closed through Oct. 21 to ‘slow spread of COVID-19’
- Cheer Stars Gabi Butler & La’Darius Marshall on Jerry Harris’ Arrest
- Coronavirus vaccine doesn’t depend on President Trump’s rhetoric, doctor explains
- What channel is NASCAR on today? TV schedule, start time for Bristol night race
- Alexei Navalny posts photo of himself walking after poisoning
- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson miss cut, possibly marking Mickelson’s final U.S. Open
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