Call of Duty: Modern Warfare fix causes Xbox owners more headaches

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare fix causes Xbox owners more headaches

The makers of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare say they have “resolved” a problem that caused updates to the video game to be more than twice the size they should have been.

But several players who have tried to take advantage of the fix have reported being worse off as a consequence.

The initial issue led some Xboxes to start downloading an 85 gigabyte file that should have been about 40GB.

And some who cancelled this to try again have lost their main game file.

As a consequence they have had to download the entire title from scratch, entailing a download of more than 100GB.

Call of Duty: Modern WarfareImage copyrightACTIVISION

In theory it should take about four hours to download a file of that size on an average UK home broadband connection.

In practice, however, it takes much longer, because the data cannot be downloaded at the maximum speed if there are too many people trying to do so at once.

Big update

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Season 4 update introduces new weapons, narrative video scenes, maps and bug fixes to Activision’s first-person shooter.

Once downloaded, it takes up only 4GB more storage than the previous version on the hard drive.

Even so, some players have expressed concern at the amount of disc space they are having to give up – as the game has had one of the largest file sizes among mainstream games since its release last year.

On Sony’s PlayStation 4, the installed game can now take up close to 200GB in total – about half disc space available on the basic version.

Owners can, however, delete some of the modes they do not play to free up storage for other games and media.

The update was originally scheduled to have been made available on 3 June but developer Infinity Ward said it had been held back until now to allow people to focus on voices calling for “equality, justice and change” as part of the US protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.

Activision said the latest version of Modern Warfare had been its bestselling Call of Duty game to date, during a recent analysts briefing.

The company makes money from each season update as players can pay a fee to unlock new content rather than having to spend hours earning it via a series of in-game achievements.

UK contact-tracing app is ready for Isle of Wight downloads

UK contact-tracing app is ready for Isle of Wight downloads

A test version of the NHS’s coronavirus contact-tracing app has been published to Apple and Google’s app stores.

Council staff and healthcare workers on the Isle of Wight will be invited to install it on Tuesday, ahead of a wider roll-out on the island on Thursday.

Project chiefs have said their so-called “centralised” approach gives them advantages over a rival scheme advocated by the US tech giants and some privacy experts.

But fresh concerns have been raised.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has declared that “as a general rule, a decentralised approach” would better follow its principle that organisations should minimise the amount of personal data they collect.

The House of Commons’ Human Rights Select Committee also discussed fears about plans to extend the app to record location data.

“There is an inherent risk that if you create a system that can be added to incrementally, you could do so in a way that is very privacy invasive,” cautioned law professor Orla Lynskey.

But NHSX – the health service’s digital innovation unit – has stressed that:
  • use of the app will be voluntary
  • the only personal data stored by the app at the start will be the first part of the user’s postcode
  • additional location data will only be recorded if users agree to a further opt-in request

“Please download the app to protect the NHS and save lives,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged Isle of Wight residents.

“By downloading the app, you’re protecting your own health, you’re protecting the health of your loved ones, and the health of the community.”

Wireless signals

The NHS Covid-19 app is intended to supplement medical tests and contact-tracing interviews carried out by humans, in order to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19 when lockdown measures are eased.

It works by using Bluetooth signals to detect when two people’s smartphones are close to each other. If one person later registers themselves as being infected, an alert can be sent to others judged to be at high risk of contagion. This might be based on the fact they were exposed to the same person for a long period of time or that there had been multiple instances of them being in the vicinity of different people.

The trial on the Isle of Wight will help NHSX test how well the system works in practice, as well as judge how willing a population is to install and use the software. It follows a smaller experiment on an RAF base.

Although the app is live, it is effectively hidden on the iOS and Android marketplaces, and residents will need to follow a set of instructions to install it.

NHS app

While in theory there is nothing to prevent the details being shared and used by others elsewhere, NHSX hopes this will not happen as it could confuse the feedback it receives.

Ahead of the trial, NHSX chief Matthew Gould acknowledged that there would “inevitably be unintended consequences” and that “if we think there is a better way of doing what we need to do, we won’t hesitate to change”.

But he added that if citizens “want to carry on saving lives, protecting the NHS and get the country back on its feet, then downloading the app is one way they can do that”.

More data

NHSX’s app will send back details of the logged Bluetooth “handshakes” to a UK-based computer server to do the contact matching, rather carrying out the process on the handsets themselves.Presentational white spaceApple, Google and hundreds of privacy advocates have raised concerns that this risks hackers or even the state itself being able to re-identify anonymised users, and thus learn details about their social circles.

But NHSX has consulted ethicists and GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on the matter, and believes safeguards are in place to minimise the risk of this happening.

Furthermore, it believes any such concerns are outweighed by the benefits of adopting a centralised approach.

It says a centralised app will let it:

  • spot geographical hotspots where the disease is spreading
  • work out how to optimise the app’s algorithms to make its risk-model as accurate as possible, which in turn should help it decide who needs to be told to self-isolate or request a test
  • gain fresh insights into how the virus spreads, such as the degree to which transmission becomes less likely the more time passes since first symptoms

NHSX believes another major benefit is that its app can make use of people self-diagnosing themselves before they obtain test results.

NHS app

This would only be possible, Mr Gould explained, because NHSX could spot “anomalous patterns of activity” indicating that people were lying to the app for malicious reasons.

But the DPT3 group – which promotes the decentralised approach – believes this claim is misleading.

“I have not seen any evidence that this would do anything but spot very large-scale and quite clumsy attacks,” explained Prof Michael Veale.

“The only way to make sure that people can be held to account for submitting false reports is to identify them [which takes you down] a slippery slope.”

Another criticism of NHSX’s approach is that it puts the UK at odds with Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and a growing list of other nations, which are pursuing decentralised apps.

The fear is that UK citizens may face tougher restrictions on international travel if its system is not interoperable with others.

Mr Gould said that NHSX was “talking to a range of countries [to] make sure that systems can talk to each other,” adding that France and Japan were among others developing centralised apps.

But Prof Veale warned that any attempt to try to join up the two systems risked “the worst of both worlds”.

“I don’t think it’s just a mater of political will. It would be a matter of sacrificing the privacy-by-design within both systems.”

The Isle of Wight’s Green Party – which has nine locally-elected councillors – has also expressed its doubts.

“The Isle of Wight has a significantly older and more vulnerable population [and] the island’s one hospital could be overwhelmed if… people feel they do no need to stick to lockdown measures due to the rolling out of this app,” it said.

But the government’s coordinator for testing said the island was “well-equipped” to cope.

“It’s quite a large population and there is a benefit in the fact that travel on and off the island is relatively restricted – the ferries are there, but they’re running relatively infrequently,” added Public Health England’s Prof John Newton.

“So it is an ideal place to look at the epidemiology and see the impact.”

 

Taika Waititi to make new Star Wars film

Taika Waititi to make new Star Wars film

Oscar-winning film-maker Taika Waititi will direct and co-write a new Star Wars film to be released in cinemas.

Waititi won an Academy Award earlier this year for World War Two film Jojo Rabbit, and is also known for making Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok.

He will write the unnamed film with Scotland’s Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who was nominated for an Oscar for 1917.

Presentational white space

Meanwhile, US writer Leslye Headland is creating a new series for Disney+, the service’s fourth small-screen spin-off.

The Mandalorian is already streaming, and gave Waititi his introduction to the Star Wars universe when he directed the series one finale and voiced the droid IG-11.

New series are also being made for Disney+ about Obi-Wan Kenobi and Cassian Andor.

On the big screen, other Star Wars movies currently planned include a trilogy masterminded by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson; and another spin-off created by Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige.

The news was released on “Star Wars Day” – May the fourth.

How I maintain my mental-well being in lockdown I Nikki’s Story

How I maintain my mental-well being in lockdown I Nikki’s Story

The coronavirus pandemic is a difficult and uncertain time for everyone. We can no longer take for granted some of the things we used to do to look after our physical and mental wellbeing, like playing sports or meeting up with friends to shake off the blues.

Along with other elements of our routines, we might have had to shake up, adjust or rethink some of our self-care techniques and rituals as we adjust to self-isolation and social distancing.

One of the things Young Minds suggest as a helpful tool for difficult times is a ‘self-soothe box,’ which can help if you’re struggling with feelings of anxiety or panic. We spoke to Nikki, 23, who has been using her self-soothe box to manage her mental health for several years. She believes it’s an empowering tool that anyone can use to manage their self-care and show themselves some kindness during difficult times.

What is a self-soothe box?

It can be anything you like. You make it yourself. Mine is a shoebox-sized box, where I keep things that make me feel better when I’m feeling down.

I think of it as a little box of escape in a world of reality. It’s a little piece of heaven that I can immerse myself in for half an hour and usually afterwards I feel a bit better.

A box with the lid open.

What do you put in the box?

I’ve got a lot of things in my box! The main thing is a book I made myself after I did a particular type of therapy. It’s an instruction manual on how to deal with different emotions like loneliness, boredom, anger etc. That’s something that helps me and I’ve used it to support other people in helping them create their own boxes.

You can write down things that have helped you with different emotions in the past and then use it to remind you how to deal with emotions as they arise.

I’ve also got a book of poetry by Maya Angelou. My favourite poem is ‘Still I rise.’ It means a lot to me – I’ve got it tattooed on my arm!

I’ve got some squishy things I can squeeze – like stress toys – and colouring pencils and colouring books, perfume, hand cream, chocolate. It’s important to think about the senses when you make a self-soothe box: something you can taste, touch, smell. They ground you and keep you in the present.

I’ve got some positive affirmation cards, which I look at to remind myself that I’m enough, that I’m strong, even when I’m not feeling that way.

Nikki keeps a box of Maya Angelou poems in her self-soothe box

I’ve also got a little pot in here that I made myself and inside it, I’ve got lots of folded up bits of paper with self-care ideas. If I’m feeling stressed, I pick out any piece of paper and it will give me ideas of what I can do, like watch some comedy, eat some chocolate, listen to some music.

I’ve also got stuff in here that people have made for me and I’ve got a load of letters that I’ve asked people to write for me. A few years ago I was in hospital for a couple of months and was really unwell. I asked people who visited me to write me letters and I’ve got all these beautiful letters that I can look at when I feel down.

A colour pad, crayons and a coffee.
Colouring can be soothing

When is a good time to make a self-soothe box?

It’s good to work on it when you’re feeling really good. You put things in there that can help you on the days that aren’t so good.

It’s like a gift to yourself – a gift you’re giving to yourself on a good day to help you when you’re on a bad day. It brings the things that make you happy a bit closer to your fingertips.

How does the self-soothe box help you?

It distracts you. It gives you a place to escape for a while. It soothes your senses. It gives you a break. It empowers you because you’ve been proactive in your self-care. It’s like a little friend in a box.

How are you using your self-soothe box at the moment?

I’ve been bored an awful lot during lockdown. I like to go out and keep busy. It’s one of the main ways I keep myself healthy and I find that with coronavirus stuff going on, I find that hard to do. The main thing to remember in difficult times is to cover the basics first: sleep, movement, water, medication if you’re on any. It’s easy to forget about the basics in times of crisis. Once you’ve done that, you can think about the extra self-care things.

So then I look at lists of things that have helped me before and things that can help me again. I’ve got over 100 ideas of ways to distract myself when I’m bored!

I also go back and reread the letters that confirm who I am and what I believe in so I can be stronger in myself.

“It’s important to think about the senses when you make a self-soothe box”

Who can use a self-soothe box?

In particular, people who experience anxiety and low mood, stress or distress, can be helped by a self-soothe box, but I think the box can help anyone. I think everyone should have a little box they can spend time with when they’re having a bad day – and we all have those.

Amazon shuts French warehouses after court ruling

Amazon shuts French warehouses after court ruling

Amazon is going to temporarily close its six warehouses in France after a court ordered it to stop all but essential deliveries.

An internal document sent to unions on Wednesday said the closures would last from Thursday until at least 20 April.

It added that it will use a state partial-unemployment scheme to pay the 10,000 workers employed at the warehouses, Reuters reported.

The company had been taken to court by a group of French trade unions.

On Tuesday a court in Nanterre ordered Amazon to limit deliveries to allow a thorough inspection into whether it was taking adequate precautions to protect its staff.

The court said Amazon had “failed to recognise its obligations regarding the security and health of its workers”. The company could have been fined €1m ($1.1m; £0.87m) per day if it had failed to comply.

In a statement released after the ruling, Amazon said: “We’re puzzled by the court ruling given the hard evidence brought forward regarding security measures put in place to protect our employees.”

The company added that it would appeal against the decision.

In the internal document sent to unions on Wednesday, it added: “The company is forced to suspend all production activities in all of its distribution centres in order to assess the inherent risks in the Covid-19 epidemic and take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of its employees.”

What were the allegations against Amazon?

Amazon has experienced a surge in online orders globally as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – leading to increased scrutiny of its treatment of workers.

In France, labour inspectors had previously ordered Amazon to improve working conditions at five of its sites.

A legal complaint was filed against the company’s French subsidiary by a group of trade unions in the country, which claimed that more than 100 workers were being forced to work in close proximity to one another.

Some of them called for the complete closure of the company’s business in France. Failing that, they had asked for stricter restrictions on what kind of deliveries it could carry out.

Last month, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Amazon was putting “unacceptable” pressure on its workers by refusing to pay them if they didn’t go into work.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire giving a speechImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionFrench Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Amazon was putting “unacceptable” pressure on its workers

And earlier in March, several hundred Amazon workers in France held a walk-out in protest against the company.

Unions argued that Amazon delivers very few groceries, while many of its deliveries are non-essential.

Richard Vives, from the CAT union, told Reuters last month: “We feel really unsafe and I’ve got colleagues who are coming to work feeling fearful.”

Amazon has repeatedly denied claims it is not taking sufficient measures to protect its staff.

It says it has brought in stricter cleaning protocols and has ensured that “employees can keep the necessary distance from one another”.

It has also said it will introduce temperature checks and face masks for staff at all of its US and European warehouses.

World Health Organization: What is the WHO and what does it do?

World Health Organization: What is the WHO and what does it do?

President Donald Trump has said he is going to halt US funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) because it had “failed in its basic duty” in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

But what is the WHO and what does it do?

It’s the global health HQ

A wash of colour overhead greets anyone entering the WHO headquarters in Geneva where the 194 flags of the organisation’s member states drape from the ceiling as – on sunny days, at least – beams of light flood the large open atrium.

This is from where the global response to what’s been described as “the greatest test to the world since World War Two”- is being co-ordinated.

The UN agency was founded in 1948, and describes itself as the “global guardian of public health”.

It’s stated goal is to ensure “the highest attainable level of health for all people”.

It’s a big job.

Over the last 11 years, it has overseen the global response to six international health emergencies, including the Ebola outbreak in west Africa in 2014, the Zika outbreak in 2016 and – right now – the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also

  • decides when to sound the “global alarm” during outbreaks
  • sets up worldwide research and development plans aimed at fast-tracking new treatments and vaccines
  • sends experts into the epicentres of disease in order to gather data on what works and what doesn’t

The WHO also has responsibility for a wide range of other health issues, including

  • tackling the global obesity and diabetes epidemics
  • reducing deaths on the roads
  • wiping out vaccine-preventable diseases, such as polio
  • working to reduce the number of mothers and babies who die during childbirth.

But – and it’s a big but – the WHO is an advisory-only body. It can make recommendations to countries on what to do to improve the health of its citizens and prevent the outbreak of disease, but it can’t enforce those recommendations.

Has the WHO mishandled this pandemic?

It depends on who you ask.

If you ask Donald Trump, the answer is a resounding yes.

But Mr Trump himself is facing withering criticism of how he has dealt with the outbreak in the US – which now has more than 600,000 cases and 26,000 deaths.

He also has a bigger geopolitical fight with China, which far precedes Covid-19.

However, the US leader is certainly not the first to criticise the WHO for its effusive praise of China’s response to the outbreak which continued even while others – including medics in the country – described how their early concerns about the virus were silenced by the authorities.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, has repeatedly said he stands by his praise of China.

He says its response helped slow the spread of the virus internationally, buying other countries time to prepare for what was coming.

And he, along with many other scientists, points out that China voluntarily shared the genetic code of the virus very quickly, allowing countries to start making diagnostic tests and working on vaccines.

However, there has also been widespread criticism of the country’s response.

Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “China didn’t do a great job of telling the world [about the early stages of the outbreak] and it’s clear there were delays.

“They tried to downplay this in the early days.”

Prof Sridhar investigated the WHO’s much-criticised response to the west Africa Ebola epidemic, and describes herself as one of the WHO’s “harshest critics”.

But she added: “It’s hard to fault a lot of what the WHO has been trying to do, given the difficult balancing act of trying to get countries to address this epidemic and take it seriously, while also trying to keep all countries at the table.”

A major part of the WHO’s role is diplomacy. Because it can’t force countries to share information about outbreaks, it relies on nations themselves coming forward.

Prof Sridhar said the organisation could have got its “five minutes of fame” around the world if Dr Tedros had issued a strong condemnation of China, she says, but that could have hampered the global response to Covid-19.

“What would that have achieved? He still needs to go back a week later and ask China to share data.”

She believes the WHO did put pressure on China to be more up-front in the early days of the outbreak – but that it did so behind the scenes.

“I think there’s a big difference in diplomacy, between doing things publicly with the media – which is often just a performance, to make a posture – and to do things privately and actually advocate and get things moving.”

What happened in previous outbreaks?

This isn’t the first time the WHO has faced criticism.

Person receiving an injectionImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe WHO was criticised for its “slow” response to the outbreak of Ebola in west Africa

The UN agency was deemed to be slow to respond to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, declaring an international emergency only five months after the virus was first identified in Guinea.

But in 2009, it was accused of the opposite – being quick to over-react on the H1N1 swine-flu outbreak, and unnecessarily declaring a global pandemic.

Last week, when President Trump floated the idea of withholding funding to the WHO, Dr Tedros called for countries not to “politicise this virus.”

He also said he welcomed a review of the WHO’s response to the outbreak because “we want to learn from our mistakes, from our strengths and move forward”.

But he said the focus now should be on “fighting this virus”.

What impact could President Trump’s move have?

The US is the biggest single donor to the WHO, which relies on a combination of members’ fees – based on wealth and population – and voluntary contributions.

Those voluntary donations make up most of the agency’s $2.2bn (£1.75bn) annual budget.

Last year the US gave more than $400m.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the UK’s Wellcome Trust, said the WHO needs “more resources, not less” to tackle the pandemic.

“We are facing the greatest challenge of our lifetime. No other organisation can do what they do.

“This is a time for solidarity, not division.”

And Prof Sridhar said the US was “cutting off its nose to spite its face”.

“If WHO is hampered by this – its ability to respond to Covid, but also to malaria, and TB and polio is hampered, too – we’re going to see the resurgence of all kinds of diseases that we thought were in the past.”

Pin It on Pinterest