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Behind the 12-year-old Wii Sports hoax that briefly fooled the Internet

Before his resignation in late 2017, Uber's then-CEO Travis Kalanick faced more than his fair s..

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Before his resignation in late 2017, Uber's then-CEO Travis Kalanick faced more than his fair share of scandals. But by far the most (read: least) important of these was Kalanick's oftrepeated claim that, at one point, he "held the worlds second-highest score for the Nintendo Wii Tennis video game," as a New York Times profile confidently stated without qualification.

Ars dug deep to get at the truth of this claim, publishing a 3,000-word expose that proved definitively (read: probably) that Kalanick was really just confused about what it means to have a "high score" in a game like Wii Sports Tennis.

Now, over two years after that blockbuster report shook the world of tech-executive video game high-score competition, new information has come to light that has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of this important (read: pointless) story yet again.

Wait, what happened?

First, a partial recap: the closest thing Wii Sports Tennis has to an overarching "score" is the player's "skill level." That's the Elo-style measure of performance that goes up and down depending on how well you do against the computer-controlled AI.

Based on a formula derived by a truly obsessive Wii Sports Tennis player, it takes roughly 160 perfect 40-Love matches against the game's computer opponents to raise your skill level to 2399. After that, the skill level asymptotically approaches but never quite reaches the mythical 2400, since the game's internal decimal always gets rounded down to 2399 for the on-screen display.

Enlarge / Unless there's some magical, unknown way to alter photos, this is definitive proof of a 2400 Wii Sports skill rating.Archive.org

The only semi-credible claim to the contrary comes from an unsigned post to defunct Web host 250free back in early 2007 (archived here). The anonymous poster (who posed with a Mii avatar named "Adam") wrote that it took "nearly 20,000 games" and over 900 hours of play across 78 days to get from a 2399 rating to a 2400 rating. A counter displayed on that page suggests more than 60,000 people read Adam's story.

The truth of that anonymous claim was always questionable, even with the "photographic evidence" of Adam posing in front of a screen showing a 2400 rating. The important thing, for our purposes, was that the claim itself existed online in the late 2000s, when Kalanick could plausibly find it and perhaps cite it as evidence that his presumed 2399 rating was "tied for second."

A message from the past

Keep all that in mind and imagine my reaction when I got an email that led off with the line "My name is Adam Haller, and I'm the shirtless guy in the 2400 Wii Tennis picture."

Our little "Adam" is all grown up, and he found a shirt!
Enlarge / Our little "Adam" is all grown up, and he found a shirt!

Haller, who later confirmed his identity with a more modern (shirted) photo, went on to lay out the details of his hoax from more than 10 years prior (lightly edited here for clarity):

I just wanted to let you know that there was a global leader-board at some point for Wii Tennis. It wasn't hosted directly by Nintendo but a website similar to highscores.com (I can't recall the exact URL) [Editor's note: He may be thinking of Read More – Source

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BLACKBERRY PHONES TO STOP WORKING AS COMPANY FINALLY PULLS PLUG

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independent– BlackBerry phones, once the height of mobile devices, are finally being shut off.

The company announced that services for the older devices will be brought to an end on 4 January. At that point, they will “no longer reliably function”, BlackBerry said, and will be unable to get data, texts or make phone calls, including to emergency numbers.

It is just the latest in a series of endings for the once equally beloved and hated name, which helped drive the mobile revolution and was at the forefront of business and technology. While the BlackBerry has been declared dead a number of times before, the latest move means that the phones themselves will actually stop working.

In 2016, after its phones had been replaced largely by smartphones from Apple and others, BlackBerry announced that it had transitioned away from phones and into making software and that it would focus on providing security tools to companies and governments. It has sold the BlackBerry brand to other companies, who have created devices bearing the name.

In 2020, BlackBerry said that with that move complete, it would start taking offline the legacy services that allowed those old devices to keep working. Phones that run any of BlackBerry’s own operating systems – BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software – were given an “end of life or termination date” at the start of 2022.

Next week, that date will finally arrive and support will end. While the phones will still be able to perform some of their functions without BlackBerry’s services, many of their central features will be removed, and the phones will not work reliably.

BlackBerry said the support was being removed in recognition of the fact that it now works in security software and that the old products did not reflect its business. It had prolonged support in the years since that transition “as an expression of thanks to our loyal partners and customers”, it said.

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70 Jupiter-sized ‘rogue planets’ discovered in our galaxy

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independent– A team of astronomers discovered at least 70 ‘rogue’ planets in our galaxy, the largest collection ever found to date.

While conventional planets (like those in our Solar System) orbit a star, rogue planets roam freely without travelling around a nearby star.

“We did not know how many to expect and are excited to have found so many,” said Núria Miret-Roig, an astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux.

­It would usually be impossible to detect rogue planets because they are hard to spot far from a star’s light. One key fact of their existence made them visible: these planets still give off enough heat to glow millions of years after their creation, making them visible to powerful telescopes.

This heat allowed the 70 planets – each with masses close to that of Jupiter – to be discovered in the Scorpius and Ophiuchus constellations.

“We measured the tiny motions, the colours and luminosities of tens of millions of sources in a large area of the sky,” explained Ms Miret-Roig. “These measurements allowed us to securely identify the faintest objects in this region, the rogue planets.”

The astronomers’ study suggests there could be many more elusive, starless planets yet to be discovered, numbering in the billions in the Milky Way alone.

By studying these planets, astronomers believe they could unlock clues as to how the mysterious objects come to be. It is hypothesised they are generated from the collapse of gas clouds too small to create stars, but they could also have been ejected from a parent system.

“These objects are extremely faint and little can be done to study them with current facilities,” says Hervé Bouy, another astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique. “The ELT [Extremely Large Telescope, currently being built in Chile] will be absolutely crucial to gathering more information about most of the rogue planets we have found.”

The exact number of rogue planets discovered is vague, because the observations made by the researchers do not allow them to measure the mass of the objects. Bodies with a mass 13 times greater than that of Jupiter are unlikely to be planets, but relying on brightness makes this figure unclear.

The brightness of these objects is also related to age, as the older the planet is the dimmer it will be. The brightest objects in the sample could have a mass greater than the upper limit but be older and therefore dimmer. Researchers estimate there could be as many as 100 more planets yet to be discovered because of this uncertainty.

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Sign up to The Independent’s free cryptocurrency expert panel event

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independent– The price of cryptocurrency is seemingly in constant flux which causes a gauntlet for investors to run week to week and day to day.

Bitcoin remains in limbo following last week’s flash crash, which some analysts mistook for the start of a bear market that would see its price continue to tumble in the short term.

None of this is new with cryptocurrency making headlines for years, but its unpredictable nature and complex myriad of currencies means for many it is an area too daunting to delve into.

For those who have taken the plunge and invested there have been those who have become millionaires and even billionaires as a result, while there are those who have also lost a considerable amount as the price proves to be a constant rollercoaster for investors.

To decipher exactly how cryptocurrency works, how to invest and what the future looks like for the likes of bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Cardano (ADA),The Independent is hosting an expert panel to explore the ins and outs of digital money.

The virtual event, which is free to attend, will be hosted by our own crypto expert, tech writer Anthony Cuthbertson and he will be joined by digital currency leaders who will be able to give their first-hand account of trading in the online market.

One of the panellists is none other than Fred Schebesta, a co-founder of financial comparison website Finder, self-made entrepreneur with an estimated net worth of $214million.

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