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Microsoft’s new-look Xbox dashboard is rolling out this week

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The October update for Xbox is arriving this week, bringing with it a taste of the next generation. Microsoft has announced that a new dashboard design is rolling out to Xbox consoles as part of the latest update, and it’ll also run on the Xbox Series X and Series S when they launch next month.

This new UX was first shown off back in August. Microsoft says the home screen loads 50 percent faster on boot and 30 percent faster when exiting a game, with 40 percent less memory required on the Series X. It’s not clear if owners of older consoles like the One S should expect performance improvements, though.

The layout isn’t hugely different, but there have been tweaks to elements like the Guide and the games library, and visually it’s now a closer match for other Xbox products like the Xbox app for Windows. You can now customize your profile with themes, too, and Microsoft has reshuffled the layout for new users to highlight features like Game Pass and the store.

The update isn’t a huge one, but then Microsoft’s last big overhaul was just this past February. Microsoft does have a penchant for radically redesigning its Xbox UI multiple times each generation, so who knows how long the Xbox Series X dashboard will end up looking like this. For now, though, you can get a head start on its interface by updating your old console.

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Check Yourself With $7 off This Infrared Forehead Thermometer

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Don’t let anyone get it twisted: a temperature check is not a substitute for a COVID-19 test. Still, times are scary, and it doesn’t hurt to have another tool handy to make sure you’re in good health. A forehead thermometer keeps things a little less gross than one that gets stuffed in your ear or mouth, and you don’t have to dish out stacks of cash to get your hands on one. This one is down to $23 on Amazon right now, keeping your savings (and you!) nice and safe, since it uses infrared lights for a no-contact scan of your temp.

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How Photoshop’s new Neural Filters harness AI to generate new pixels

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Adobe today launched a new AI-powered workspace for Photoshop that can apply a range of different effects and filters to photos within seconds.

The first of these so-called Neural Filters are Skin Smoothing, which automatically removes blemishes, skin spots, and acne with one click, and Style Transfer, which applies a range of artistic styles to images.

The Neural Filters use machine learning powered by Adobe Sensei.

Adobe’s also released six beta filters that the company aims to improve through feedback from users. A particularly striking beta filter is Smart Portrait, which uses a neural network to transform features including a subject’s age, expression, pose, and lighting.

Credit: Adobe
Head and gaze sliders turned the pirate’s head and eyes to the right, while an increase on the anger slider added a snarl.

Adobe is far from the only company using filters in photo-editing. But the new features harness a novel combination of face segmentation algorithms and generative adversarial networks (GANs) to accelerate the workflow.

“With GANs, what we’re introducing for the first time, is the capability to generate new pixels,” Alexandru Costin, VP of Engineering for Abobe Creative Cloud, told TNW.

[Read: All the new AI-powered features Adobe announced for its creative suite]

Skin smoothing, for example, was previously done in Photoshop by copying and pasting pixels, a time-consuming process that didn’t always produce realistic-looking results. The new filter is instead trained on tens of thousands of before and after images that enable it to produce new pixels for different situations.

The Neural Filters can also add new features that didn’t exist in the original images, such as teeth that are generated from a GAN to give the subject a smile.

Credit: Adobe
Previous methods of adding a smile used pixels from the original image.

Adobe collaborated with Nvidia to develop the Neural Filters, and then reduced the model’s biases, such as ethnicity and age, by adding another 130,000 stock images to the training dataset. Users who spot any remaining biases can provide feedback and an anonymized image to Adobe that can be added to the training dataset.

After retraining the model, Adobe incorporated high-resolution techniques from Photoshop to improve the quality of the output.

The end result is a platform that should make a lot of image edits a whole lot easier. Photoshop 22.0 customers can try it out by opening the app and clicking Filters > Neural Filters.

Published October 20, 2020 — 17:42 UTC

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Borat will do a very nice stream on Twitch with DrLupo

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Borat will be on Twitch soon. The Amazon-owned streaming service announced that Sacha Baron Cohen’s iconic character will be facing off against Ben “DrLupo” Lupo at 6PM ET today.

It’s unclear what game they’ll be playing, though — and somewhat surprisingly, it appears it’s unclear to Lupo, too. “Honestly, I don’t even know,” Lupo said in an emailed statement. “[Borat’s] kind of a wildcard, so I’m down to take him on in whatever he thinks he’s best at.”

A Twitch spokesperson wasn’t able to share anything about what game the two will be playing — though the company’s tweet about the upcoming stream says that Cohen’s character will be playing against Lupo in “a battle for global supremacy.” Twitch did confirm to me that the whole thing will be hosted on Lupo’s channel.

Cohen’s appearance as Borat on Twitch is an admittedly clever bit of corporate synergy, as he will almost certainly be promoting the upcoming Borat sequel that launches exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on October 23rd.

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