Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Escape Machine City: Airborne

      • 2021
      • Point-and-click adventure puzzle game that has you exploring the once-vibrant Air City that has gone completely silent and now seems to be flying on its own
  • Epic Games

    • Creature in the Well

      • 2019
      • Pinball-inspired top-down hack-and-slash dungeon crawler where you need to venture deep into a desert mountain to restore power to an ancient facility

Apple has officially bent its rules for Russia, which could lead to a slippery slope as other countries take note

  • Way back in episode 283 we talked about legislation passed by Vladimir Putin that will ban the sale of devices that don’t have a list of Russian apps pre-installed
  • We didn’t hear much about it after the deadline passed in 2020, but starting in April iOS devices sold in Russia will include an extra setup step
    • While you set up your language preferences and enable Siri, you’ll also see a prompt to install a list of apps from Russian developers
      • The apps include browsers, messenger platforms, and even antivirus (which is kind of absurd when it comes to iPhones)
  • On the plus side the apps aren’t pre-installed, and users can choose not to install them, but this has opened the doors for preinstalls that Apple has until now kept closed since the iPhone was first introduced
    • Sure, it’s good to promote developers within your own country, but the apps on offer could also be compromised in specific ways to further the agenda of the Kremlin and the government
    • With this in place we’ll be relying more and more on the privacy and security protections and prompts built in to iOS, and hoping that the apps in question haven’t been compromised
  • Overall the situation is better than it could have been, since Apple could have completely folded and allowed Russia to preinstall whatever they wanted, but their middle-ground stance is disappointing and potentially dangerous when it comes to the free internet

Proton was making headlines this week as they accused Apple of blocking an important update to ProtonVPN, citing the internet crackdown in Myanmar

  • On March 17th the UN advised people to document the ongoing situation and protests in Myanmar as evidence for “crimes against humanity”, recommending services like ProtonMail and Signal
  • A few days later Proton released a blog post saying Apple was blocking updates for another of their privacy products, ProtonVPN
    • Apparently Apple took exception with part of ProtonVPN’s description, which included language about challenging governments, and said that apps can’t be promoted as workaround or violations of local laws
    • Proton claims that the description in question had been in place for months though, and continued to claim that this was directly related to the ongoing military coup
  • Odds are, though, that the cause is likely a lot less nefarious- App Store reviewers are human, and each apply policy according to their own judgement
  • Apple’s released a timeline of the update in question, saying that they requested the change in wording on March 18th (the day after the UN’s recommendation) and then approved it on the 19th. Proton then released the update on March 21st, and published the accusatory blog post on the 23rd
  • Unless there’s more information here yet to come out, it looks like Proton took a non-issue that could have delayed their oh-so-important update by two days and made it into a week-long debacle to hit the headlines and rack up the clickbait
  • Granted the App Store reviewer in question may have gotten overzealous, but to directly link that action with these kind of world events is a bit of a leap

Microsoft has decided to rebrand Xbox Live to the “Xbox network”

  • First seen in beta software updates, the change has been confirmed by a Microsoft spokesperson saying it’s “intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships”
  • Part of this includes plans to drop the subscription requirement from free-to-play games, so that games like Fortnite will no longer require a Gold membership to play online

This Week In Gaming History

March 20 – 2006 – The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Windows, Xbox 360

  • Plot:
    • A lowly prisoner has been cast into the depths of the dungeon in the Imperial capital of the province Cyrodiil.
      • The fate of this prisoner suddenly changed when the Emperor Uriel Septim descended into the prison with his guards, fleeing from unknown assassins who have already slaughtered his children.
      • But even an emperor cannot escape his destiny.
      • Before the last assassin delivered the lethal strike, the old emperor entrusted the prisoner with the Amulet of Kings and asked him to find his illegitimate son, the last of the Septim bloodline.
      • The Septims and the Amulet are the last barrier between the continent Tamriel and the dark dimension of Oblivion, and the delicate balance is threatened by the Daedra Prince of Destruction, Mehrunes Dagon, the prisoner being Tamriel’s only hope.
  • Oblivion is the fourth title in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series.
    • The game sticks to the style of its predecessors featuring action-based combat, first-person and third-person views, and vast free-roaming environments.
    • The player’s chosen race and class determine the abilities the protagonist has in the beginning.
    • The game allows the player to develop multiple types of characters without being limited to a specific role.
  • The advancement system, as was the case in previous games, is based on skill usage.
    • When the player repeatedly use one of the skills, it improves.
    • NPCs offer training (for a price) to help in advancing to the next stage.
    • In time the protagonist can become an Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert and Master and gain certain bonuses for the skill.
    • The skills of the foes are “leveled” to be approximately equal to or slightly above those of the main character.
  • There are numerous side quests which help the hero advance thier abilities as well as gain fame.
    • The player is free to roam the world without a particular goal, exploring towns, forts, caves, mines, and old temple ruins.
    • Visiting shrines scattered around Tamriel grants the protagonist specialized skills, some permanent and some temporary.
  • Weapons and armor wear out with use and need to be repaired either with the help of special non-playable characters or by using an appropriately trained Armorer skill.
    • Enhanced items (weapons, armor, clothing, rings, amulets) abound in the game for protection, resistance, reflection and special activities like walking on water, exploring underwater, becoming invisible or lightening the load.
    • It is possible to open the gates to the Oblivion realm to grab their sigil stones, which can be used to make enhanced items.
    • Higher-level mages can create their own spells, and enchant weapons, armor and clothing using filled soul gems in addition to sigil stones.
  • As opposed to Morrowind, mana points gradually regenerate over time, without the need to rest to replenish them.
    • Active blocking has been added to melee combat.
    • The game features full voice acting for all the NPCs.
    • Dialogues typically contain less topics than in Morrowind, but more responses unique to different characters.
    • In addition, the so-called “radiant AI” system makes characters follow their own schedules, engage in various activities or talk to each other regardless of the player’s input.
    • The game features fast traveling, allowing the player to instantly visit Cyrodiil’s major cities or previously explored areas.
  • Extras:
    • A PSP version was in development and planned for release in the Spring of 2007, but it was eventually cancelled with no official word.
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

March 21 – 2005 – TimeSplitters: Future Perfect – GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox

  • Plot:
    • In the year 2401 the space marine Sergeant Cortez is leaving the space station that he visited in the end of his previous journey.
    • He soon discovers that the crystals he has found can power up a time machine.
    • After having located traces of TimeSplitter activities in various time periods on the Earth, Cortez boards the time machine and travels to these periods, hoping to aid various characters in their battles against evil.
  • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect is a first-person shooter in which players battle their way through thirteen story missions spread across six time periods, either alone or cooperatively.
    • The protagonist’s arsenal varies depending on the time period he travels to: for example, traveling to 1924 will allow Cortez to wield World War I weapons; a Soviet setting in the 1960’s contains various local firearms of that time period; stages that take place in the future feature corresponding futuristic weaponry, etc.
    • In addition to fast-paced shooting gameplay there are also some stealth and vehicle-driving segments.
  • Like in the previous installments of the series, various multiplayer modes are included.
    • Players can take on computer-controlled opponents on any of the fifteen arcade maps, or make their own ones.
    • Players can also compete for awards in dozens of arcade league matches and challenges.
    • It is possible to choose from between 150 characters and challenge other players to a head-to-head battle, either with up to four-player split screen or online and LAN play.
  • Extras:
    • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
    • In Shaun of the Dead, the character Ed, is playing Time Splitters 2, which featured a zombie mode.

March 22 – 1996 – 3D Tetris – Virtual Boy

  • A 3D Tetris game with a supply of three modes:
    • A. A three dimensional well appears, large enough to hold five layers of Tetris blocks.
      • Every time you complete a layer with you falling blocks it will vanish and you will be rewarded by a hefty dose of points.
      • If you ever stack over the five layers you will lose one of your layers, once all five are lost your game is over.
    • B. In this mode you place blocks around the center of the well, any blocks placed in the center will vanish, unless the block completes a layer in which case it will vanish.
    • C. In this mode a shape will be shown before the game begins.
      • You will have to replicate this shape perfectly, even one block out of place and your game is over.
      • Succeed and after a short animation a new shape will be given.
  • 3-D Tetris was the last officially licensed game released on the Virtual Boy.

March 23 – 2010 – Just Cause 2 – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • Plot:
    • Rico Rodriguez is back!
      • After liberating the small Island of San Esperito, the CIA-agent is on his way to the island paradise Panau to find a former colleague: Agent Tom Sheldon.
      • During an undercover-investigation, he vanishes and with him two million dollars.
      • Money, the Agency desperately wants back, especially as they believe that Tom changed sides.
      • So Rico has to infiltrate the criminal organisations of Panau as Scorpio to flush out Tom Sheldon and bring him to justice while plunging the country into chaos – but that’s more of a bonus than a real objective…
  • Like its predecessor Just Cause, the game drops the player on a huge island.
    • From the start, the whole island is open to be explored by the player in a third-person-shooter-fashion either on foot, by using several dozen different cars or even by using heavily armed helicopters and fast planes.
    • The player is totally free to do what he wants, although that mostly breaks down to wreaking havoc and causing chaos by destroying statues, fuel tanks and other military-owned stuff.
    • This way the player earns points which in turn progresses the story, unlocks missions and gives him access to additional stuff from the black market.
    • In addition all over the island crates are hidden containing both money and upgrade parts.
    • Once the black market helicopter has been called via a beacon, the player can order weapons, vehicles and even request a transfer to another location on the island for free.
    • Weapons and vehicles on the other hand cost money and are dropped right on the spot where Rico called.
    • They can also be improved using the upgrade parts the player collected.
  • In addition to his weapons, Rico’s two most useful tools are his parachute and his grappling hook.
    • The parachute can be activated at almost anytime, even if the player is driving at high speed along the road, and is very useful to make combo-stunts.
    • And this is where the grappling hook comes in: with it, the player can either pull enemies towards him, or pull himself towards a target – which can either be a house two streets away, or a moving car.
    • The latter allows for example high-speed carjacks which in some cases result in one of the two types of simple Quick-Time-Events in the game.
    • The other type pops up when Rico tries to unlock a gate or disarm a bomb or such.
    • Although the grappling hock was already featured in the first game, this time around it’s a dual-hook.
    • If the player has hit something with his hook, he can put the other end on another object – again no matter if it’s a solid or moving object or a random human who had the bad luck of being nearby.
    • This allows the player for example to hook a car to a helicopter, fly over an enemy base and drop the car onto the poor soldiers.
  • To keep the action focused even outside the main storyline, challenges like checkpoint-races and optional missions are scattered around the map and each settlement on the island can be cleared 100% by destroying all worthy targets and collecting all crates in the vicinity.

March 24 – 1998 – Die By The Sword – Windows

  • Die by the Sword is a third-person action game set a medieval fantasy world.
    • The player controls Enric, a knight whose sweetheart Maya was kidnapped by kobolds and who swears to bring her back.
    • The game’s distinguishing feature is its sword-fighting system, which allows detailed and precise control of the player character’s moves, giving it a fighting game flavor.
    • The game features a fairly complex and elaborate control system, with separate keys and button combinations assigned to moves such as running, jumping, slashing, stabbing, parrying, etc., which allows the player to execute these moves simultaneously in a variety of combinations.
  • A somewhat simpler control system, dubbed “arcade mode”, is also available.
    • This system limits the amount of combinations to three kinds of slashes and blocks – low, medium, and high.
    • The game also incorporates local damage system, in which wounding specific body parts will inflict different conditions on the enemies, including severing their limbs and even decapitation.
    • The game’s levels include, beside enemies, many hazardous traps that Enric will have to avoid.
  • In addition to the story mode, the game also features arena and tournament modes, which allow up to four players participate in free-for-all battles using the game’s sword-fighting system.
    • The player is also given the opportunity to create his own custom moves with a built-in editor.

March 25 – 2014 – Smite: Battleground of the Gods – Windows

  • SMITE is a free-to-play MOBA with gameplay very similar to games like Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends and Dota 2.
    • In Smite, players control gods from all kinds of religions: Greek, Roman, Chinese, Egyptian, Norse, Hindu, Mayan, Japanese and Celtic gods.
  • SMITE is a typical MOBA where in the main mode Conquest, there are two teams of five players, both having a base on the corners of the map.
    • Each base has three paths leading to it, which must all be defended in order to halt the approaching enemies.
    • After a very short time, AI-controlled minions start spawning and following all three paths.
    • These minions serve as support for the players, mainly used as cannon fodder for pushing the enemy towers.
  • All three paths are defended by two towers and a phoenix, which must be destroyed in order to advance to the enemy base and let ally minions through.
    • After a team has pushed through one of more lanes, the enemy titan has to be killed in order to win the game.
    • Between these set paths is a so called jungle, where visibility is a lot lower and several buff camps are located.
    • These jungles can be used to quickly switch lanes and flank enemies.
    • Or help out teammates where needed.
  • Aside from Conquest, SMITE also has the modes: Arena, which features no lanes; Siege, which features two lanes; Clash, which features two lanes but with a much smaller jungle than Siege; Assault, which features one lane with randomly selected gods; Joust, with one lane but being able to choose a god yourself; and a Match of the Day which switches game type, gods and conditions daily.
    • Aside from this multiplayer modes, there’s also the tutorials, a practice mode with other players against bots, and the ability to start custom games.
    • In-game events called adventures mostly feature a new temporary mode.
    • In the past these were Mario-style racing with carts, Capture the Flag, an RPG like PVE mode, and a Corrupted Arena, the Arena game mode but with the map gradually changing during the game.
  • All players start with a base pool of gold, of which the amount varies per game mode.
    • This gold can be used for buying items for the current battle.
    • More gold is earned over time, and by killing enemies and enemy minions.
    • Players also gain exp with kills and destroying towers and phoenixes.
    • This exp is used to upgrade the four skills of the god.
    • As with all other MOBA’s, skill progression and bought items reset upon the end of the game.
    • So every new game you’d have to start from scratch.
  • Unlike most MOBA’s with their isometric views, this game uses a third-person view.
    • Also, instead of using the mouse to move the character, this game features the WASD keys for moving the character.
  • Extra:
    • Since Apple released their Catalina update on 7 October 2019 and dropped 32-bit support, Smite has been unplayable on Macintosh for Mac users that had updated their system.
      • In January 2020 (before Season 7) Hi-Rez decided to completely drop support for Smite on Macintosh and remove the platform from Steam.
      • Refunds for in-game purchases (not on Steam) were given, with restrictions, up until 18 February 2020.

March 26 – 1996 – Jumpstart 2nd Grade – Macintosh, Windows…

Or…

March 26 – 2013 – BioShock: Infinite – PS3, Windows, Xbox 360

  • In BioShock Infinite the player becomes detective Booker DeWitt who is forced to find a young woman Elizabeth to pay off his debts.
    • She is held captive in the floating city of Columbia in alternate version of 1912.
    • During his travels Booker encounters different factions within the city who are battling one another.
    • The Founders want Columbia to remain a city only for pure Americans while the Vox Populi think the city should be available to anyone.
    • The setting is built around the idea of exceptionalism with a strong religious doctrine and open racism.
    • Elizabeth is a key piece within this conflict and has a mysterious origin including her powers to cause tears in the fabric of space-time, exposing parallel universes. Booker and Elizabeth remain together most of the game and she acts on her own.
    • She does not need to be defended, tosses ammo and silver eagle coins to Booker and can be asked to pick locks.
    • They are hunted down by the spiritual leader Comstock and his troops, along with the giant mechanical Songbird.
  • The game uses similar gameplay styles and mechanics found in previous BioShock games.
    • Vigors give the player super powers to do a variety of things such as sending a murder of crows to peck away enemies or charming enemies to defend you.
    • Another one is possession used to take over humans or machines to temporarily turn them into allies.
      • Once the effect wears off, the possessed humans will commit suicide.
    • Most vigors have multiple uses either as a direct attack or as a much stronger trap awaiting to be triggered.
    • Booker can also be upgraded through four types of gear with permanent bonuses similar to the gene tonics in the previous games.
    • Different types can be equipped according to the situation.
    • The typical FPS array of weapons can be found throughout the game like pistols, shotguns, and rifles.
    • One of the more notable weapons is the Sky Hook which can be used as a melee weapon to take down an enemy.
    • Money can be exchanged at vending machines for upgrades and consumables.
    • Items are found by looting barrels, desks and enemies.
    • Vigors can only be executed when a sufficient amount of salt has been collected.
    • The three main bars visible on the screen (health, salt and shield) can be extended by locating and using infusions.
    • The story is also furthered through optional voxophones (audio logs) and kinetoscopes (film projectors).
  • Skylines provide a unique way to move throughout the world.
    • Using the Sky Hook, the player can attached to these lines and quickly slide in one direction or another.
    • These can be used to escape overwhelming situations or used to reach higher ground to gain a combat edge.

Tidbits

  • After campaigning heavily against Apple’s new tracking transparency rules, Mark Zuckerberg is now saying that Facebook could actually benefit from the change
    • He claims that it could drive more commerce to the Facebook platform by making it harder to track users without those tools, which honestly just makes me suspicious that they’ve got some kind of loophole in the works
  • Facebook is reportedly working on an Instagram for kids under 13
    • It’s a whole new demographic for them to monetize, but it sounds like a terrible idea for your children’s privacy and sanity, not to mention it could expose them to a ton of predators and danger
  • Apple’s already pushing back against the “China Advertising ID” we talked about in the last episode, sending warnings to at least two Chinese app developers using methods to track app usage without permissions
    • Many developers from independents to large companies, were experimenting with the tracking workaround but it sounds like Apple’s threats of removal from the App Store may stop this additional fingerprinting in its tracks (or at least begin a cat-and-mouse game of hacks and patches)
  • Niantic is apparently working with Nintendo on a new AR Pikmin game for mobile
  • The lead gameplay designer of Cyberpunk 2077 has left CD Projekt Red after nearly 8 years with the studio
    • Time will tell how this affects the game going forward, but considering the state the game is in currently I feel like it may not necessarily be a bad thing

Doug Hallett Graduate Scholarship in Medicine

 

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PS2J 302 News – Aztec and Japanese

Free games

  • Twitch

    • Silence: The Whispered World 2

      • 2016
      • Point and click adventure game that won awards for its visuals and sound design, following a young girl lost in the magical realm between life and death, and her brother trying to bring her home
  • Epic Games

    • Civilization VI

      • 2016
      • Turn-based 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) strategy game in the Sid Meier’s Civilization series, where you develop a civilization from an early settlement through millennia to become a world power and achieve military domination, technological superiority, or cultural influence against human or computer-controlled opponents

Apple software updates

  • watchOS 6.2.5 has brought ECG functionality to Saudi Arabia, as well some new Pride watch faces to go with Apple’s new Pride-themed watchbands
  • iOS 13.5 has brought the ability to share your medical ID information during an emergency call, security fixes for Mail, mask-detection for FaceID so the password prompt appears more quickly, and most important the exposure notification API
    • Exposure notification settings are available under Settings, Privacy, Health once your region has been set up, including options to enable/disable it on demand, a list of active tracing apps on your phone, records of all requests to check your exposure log, and the ability to delete your exposure log altogether
    • Apple’s reported that several US States and 22 countries around the world have requested and received access to date, with more expected to join in the coming weeks
    • Now that this is available to the public I’m looking forward to contact tracing apps that handle privacy and device performance well, alongside giving people more tools to see if they may have been exposed to COVID-19
    • In the ABTraceTogether’s FAQ for the Alberta-based contact tracing app they mention updating once the API is released, so as soon as I see that I’ll definitely be installing it

The latest battle in iPhone encryption is already here, hidden behind NDA’s for the last year

  • Among more news of the FBI claiming Apple is willfully not decrypting the phones of suspected criminals and accusing them of aiding terrorists, and Apple replying that they seriously can’t decrypt those devices because they’re secure by design but they provided literally everything they have access to, we’re hearing more talk of the secret hacking tools that government agencies and law enforcement are spending tens of thousands of dollars on. Each.
  • Grayshift, the company behind the GrayKey iPhone brute-force cracking device we’ve talked about more than a few times over the years, apparently has an additional tool for passcodes that are too long to crack
    • Four to six digit pins can be cracked in less than a day, but adding the alphabet and increasing length can easily stretch that time to years
  • It’s a piece of software called Hide UI, and it’s basically spyware that the GrayKey box can install on devices to record passcodes as they are entered into the device
    • The idea is that basically law enforcement can try to crack the phone, then instead install the Hide UI spyware and give the phone back under the pretence of allowing a phonecall or other access to the data on the phone.
    • Then, even if the phone is locked again, the passcode will have been stored in a file that can be extracted the next time it’s plugged back in to the GrayKey device
      • According to a screenshot posted online, the GrayKey even snapshots the phone’s file system to prevent the deletion of any data, disables Airplane mode, and blocks attempts to wipe the phone
      • So now not only do we need to have long, alphanumeric passcodes for any semblance of security, but if your phone has been in the hand of law enforcement you can’t trust it enough to use it
  • One of the biggest problems with this is it’s another tool used by law enforcement, which needs to be accountable to the public in a democratic society
    • So far though GrayKey has been mentioned in court documents we haven’t seen any search warrants outlining the capabilities of Hide UI, and if it’s been in use that could be a problem when it comes to our rights and freedoms
    • Some civil liberties groups including the ACLU are concerned that, rather than disclose how the tech works and subjecting it to public scrutiny, prosecutors may be dropping cases when it comes up.
      • This previously happened with the use of stingray devices, which spoof a cell phone tower to intercept nearby phonecalls and text messages
  • And even though law enforcement sources say a warrant is required, it’s not clear whether the prosecutor or judge are aware of subterfuge and malware involved. It feels like this is moving from the territory of a search warrant and into surveillance or wire tapping
  • On top of all that, because Grayshift is using these NDA’s to prevent law enforcement from being transparent, defence attorneys may not get the same access to exculpatory data
    • One NDA from 2018 requires law enforcement to notify Grayshift if details of the tech are likely to be disclosed through something like a subpoena or court order, so that Grayshift has the opportunity to “obtain a protective order or otherwise oppose the disclosure”, so we officially have a company that could interfere with the courts and due process because they don’t want people to find out about the hacking tools they’re selling

id Software caught a lot of flak this week for the May 14th update of Doom Eternal, which added in anti-cheat software with dangerous implications

  • Separate from the Denuvo Anti-Tamper software, which is built to make it harder for pirates to crack the software through reverse-engineering, the new piece is Denuvo Anti-Cheat
    • DAC is a PC-only piece added to Doom for its multiplayer game modes, to ensure everyone’s on an even playing field, but the way it was added after the fact even for players not going in to multiplayer has many up in arms
  • The big problems with DAC?
    • It completely ruined Linux compatibility
    • It seems to have been causing blue-screen errors, performance degradation, as well as issues launching the game at all
    • It can be updated silently in the background, giving it even more access and control
    • And, because of the level of access it is set up with, it can collect information on everything your computer is doing and transmit/affect it however it pleases
      • Any security vulnerabilities found in DAC would immediately affect everyone with Doom Eternal installed, whether they wanted DAC or not
  • Things got so bad so quickly that, after a campaign of review-bombing on Steam, id has already announced plans to remove DAC in the next patch
    • They’re saying that, at the very minimum, they will consider giving campaign-only players a way to avoid anti-cheat software altogether while also re-evaluating what they use to prevent cheating in multiplayer
    • They’ve also stated that the performance issues are unrelated, and that other fixes are coming in the patch to address them, but with the way they worded it (“It’s also worth noting that our decision to remove the anti-cheat software is not based on the quality of the Denuvo Anti-Cheat solution.”) it almost seems like they’re trying to avoid a liability/defamation problem with Denuvo
  • Either way, anyone playing Doom Eternal on PC may want to uninstall the game while we wait for the next patch. Or at the very least, check your Uninstall Programs app on Windows and remove Denuvo Anti-Cheat and Denuvo Anti-Cheat Updater

Users of the popular email app Edison Mail had a major privacy breach this week, with many reporting that they suddenly had access to other peoples’ email accounts

  • A new sync feature was recently rolled out to allow connected email accounts to show up across all your devices, but there are a lot of reports from users on sites like Twitter saying that they now had full access to complete strangers’ email accounts
    • They could also see in their settings that other peoples’ devices had access to their accounts as well
  • Edison has been replying to users saying they’re “urgently working to resolve this technical problem” and that they’ve reverted the change that introduced the problem for a “small percent of our users”
    • A followup blog post says that it exclusively affected iOS users, totalling about 6,500 accounts, and was fixed 30 hours after first being reported
    • They’re also saying that your credentials weren’t exposed, but that you should change your password just in case
  • Either way, this will likely lead many to reconsider using Edison Mail going forward

The BBC has launched a new online service to let users watch or listen to programs, podcasts, and radio together remotely

  • BBC Together is available now on Taster, the BBC’s experimental platform, and can be accessed with any web browser.
  • Once one user finds a link to something they want to watch with others, from iPlayer, Sounds, Bitesize, News, or Sports, and pastes it into BBC Together it creates a new group session with a link that can be sent to friends and family
  • Each session can be watched by up to 50 people, with the host able to control the content or choose something new to watch
  • Overall it seems pretty similar to Netflix Party, the Chrome extension that lets you watch Netflix shows simultaneously online, and it couldn’t have come at a better time

Dumb news item of the week- The US Department of Homeland Security has had to issue alerts to wireless telecom providers and law enforcement agencies about potential attacks on cell towers and telecom workers

  • Apparently coronavirus conspiracy theorists have decided that COVID-19 can be spread by the new 5G cellular frequency (it can’t), and that has led to dozens of cell tower burnings in the UK and mainland Europe

Overwatch Anniversary

  • May 19 to June 9th

    • Log in for a free Legendary Lootbox!
  • Each day features a seasonal brawl

    • It runs through this list, one a day and repeats when it ends:
    • Lucioball
    • Junkenstein’s Revenge
    • Mai’s Snowball Offensive
    • Yeti Hunter
    • Capture the Flag
    • Uprising
    • Retribution
    • Storm Rising
    • Archive Challenges
      • The harder effects added to Uprising, Retribution and Storm Rising
  • During the anniversary you are able to use your in game currency and purchase any cosmetic from events that you may have missed
  • This event brings 5 new legendary skins

    • Dragoon Mercy

      • Mercy’s armour is styles like a green dragon
    • Huitzilopotchli Zenyatta

      • Pronounced Weetsee-low-potched-li (Josh’s pronunciation breakdown)
      • Huitzilopotchli is a the Mesoamerican deity of war, sun, human sacrifice and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. (Ten-o-cheetch-lon) Which is now in Mexico City.
      • His body looks like ancient Aztec stone, has a statuesque face, some omnic flare for joints and lighting, and he is wearing a ceremonial headdress and skirt
    • Little Red Ashe

      • Ashe is dressed like an armed Little Red Riding Hood
      • And Bob is the bag bad wolf, dressed like granny
    • Masquerade Reaper

      • It is very similar to the masquerade outfit in the comic, big exceptions are:
        • the lack of fluffy collar
        • his mask is not a full skull, but a gold masquerade mask with a top jaw of a skull
        • and unlike the comic, he has a full cape
        • and his shotguns are styled like handcannons with writing on the bottom
          • “Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men!”
          • Which is a quote from The Phantom of the Opera
    • Submarine Wrecking Ball

      • The mech is nautical themed like an old diving suit
      • Hammond has a captains outfit and a big moustache
  • And again, they are giving away Epic skins with a player icon and spray with 9 wins in Quick Play, Competitive Play, or the Arcade

    • Week 1

      • May 19th to 26th
      • Carbon Fiber Sigma
      • His armour is black carbon fiber
      • With extra details and visor that are yellow hexagonal glass or hardlight
    • Week 2

      • May 26th to June 2nd
      • Fleur de Lis Widowmaker
      • Her clothing is purple and gold
      • Parts look somewhat like armour, like shoulders and boots
    • Week 3

      • June 2nd to June 9th
      • Masked Man McCree
      • A recolour of McCree making him a teal with white trim and white hat
      • His poncho reads Ranger
      • His belt buckle is HYSA
        • Given the Lone Ranger flair its probably “Hi-Yo Silver Away!”

Tidbits

  • Chrome is taking aim at bad ads with new features to block advertisements that affect your computer’s performance through either bad or malicious code
    • The idea is that they’ll block ads that use more resources or network data than the other 99.9% of overall ads, to prevent things like surreptitious bitcoin mining
    • They’ll be experimenting with it over the next few months with an expected release by the end of August
  • Spotify is continuing their slow but hostile takeover of the podcast ecosystem, with Joe Rogan hitting the service in September and going Spotify-exclusive this January
    • I understand that the money is attractive, but at the end of the day podcasting is supposed to be an open standard. Once you start limiting things to specific apps and services you’re going to lose people, especially if you go to a service with as much user tracking as Spotify
  • Twitter has started testing new conversation options, letting people limit replies to their tweets to either everyone, people you follow, or only people you mention
    • It’s not a bad idea, but it will definitely increase the echo-chamber effect that Twitter already has issues with
  • HTC is working on their new U Ear earbuds that, according to photos in regulatory documents, took some design cues from the original AirPods
    • And by “took some design cues”, I mean “they took AirPods and spray-painted them black”
  • Facebook has acquired the GIF sharing website Giphy for $400M, and has announced plans to further integrate it into Instagram and other Facebook apps
    • This is really going to highlight which companies with Giphy integration care about your data- some, like Signal or Slack, will outright tell you how they protect your data and disassociate your information from the Giphy images you use, while others are going to be conspicuously silent
  • Apple Stores have begun reopening in Canada and the US this week, with safety precautions like required face coverings, temperature checks and screening questions at the door, and limited occupancy of the stores
    • I’ll have a first-hand account of their new safety precautions after I take my computer in on Saturday

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you to Breanne, for being so kind and helpful!

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!

PS2J 297 News – Soylent Strikes Back

Free Games

  • Epic

    • Just Cause 4

      • 2018
      • Third-person action-adventure sandbox that throws you into the world with a wingsuit, grappling hook, hot air balloons, rocket boosters, and all kinds of weaponry, then asks you to liberate the land from its oppressive government
    • Wheels of Aurelia

      • 2016
      • A visual novel / adventure game that takes you on a road trip through the gritty western coast of Italy during the 1970’s. Playing as Lella, a bold, spunky woman, experience the sights and sounds of a tumultuous time in Italy’s history while uncovering events from Lella’s past through branching dialogue and multiple endings.
  • PS4 (without Plus!) until May 5th as part of Sony’s Play At Home initiative

    • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

      • 2015
      • Free for PSPlus members in January, remastered port of the first three Uncharted games from the PS3 era: Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves, and Drake’s Deception
      • Uncharted is known for its Tomb Raider style third-person action adventure gameplay including shooting, combat, and puzzle solving
    • German and Chinese gamers will get Knack 2 instead of Uncharted

      • 2017
      • Action platforming game that has you punching, kicking, and changing size to fight enemies, solve puzzles, and find upgrades. It also has local drop-in-drop-out multiplayer co-op
    • Journey

      • 2015
      • A lovely indie adventure game that originally hit the PS3 in 2012, you control a robed figure in a vast desert, travelling toward a mountain in the distance. Along the way you may encounter another player and assist each other for a while, but there’s no chat or communication other than a musical chime you use to activate strange pieces of cloth and affect the world. You don’t even see each other’s names until after the credits

Thanks to an indirect data breach, there are over 500K Zoom accounts being sold on the dark web and in hacker forums

  • Cybersecurity firm Cyble was able to purchase 530K zoom credentials for about 1/5 of a cent each this month, verifying the legitimacy of the leak
  • With the credentials, hackers can access your account information like your name, email address, password, personal meeting URL, and your account’s HostKey
  • The twist here is that Zoom didn’t actually have a data breach themselves- I said ‘indirect’ because from the sounds of it these login details were the results of “credential stuffing attacks”, where hackers attempt to log in to a service using accounts previously leaked
    • That means that if you’ve re-used a password that has been compromised, especially if you’re using the same email address, there’s a good chance that you may be affected.

Apple and Google announced a joint effort this week that will see them using Bluetooth to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 around the world

  • Starting in May, both Apple and Google will release functionality that will let Android and iOS devices help track potential exposure using apps from public health authorities (like the Canadian government COVID-19 app)
  • Then in the coming months they’ll work to enable broader Bluetooth-based tracing built directly into their platforms, allowing interaction with a wider variety of apps and government health authorities
    • The initial idea for this piece is that everyone who opts in will get a random, rotating identifier that changes every 15 minutes
      • The list of identifiers you’ve been in contact with doesn’t leave your phone unless you explicitly share it
    • This ID will get transmitted to other nearby devices via Bluetooth automatically
    • The idea is that, locally on your device, you can see a 14 day window of whether your phone has been near the device of someone self-identifying that they’ve tested positive for COVID-19
      • The trick here being that users testing positive aren’t identified to Apple, Google, or other users. It’s all anonymized.
  • Of course, this is going to need some major security, as privacy and consent are going to be very important to this kind of endeavour
    • Having both Apple and Google working on it will be good, as they can keep each other in check (thought I feel like Apple will have to be the main privacy watchdog here)
  • The tool isn’t meant to track locations, but rather personal contact, so it’s not as bad as it could be. But it’s going to have to be locked down airtight or a lot of information could potentially be reverse-engineered from this

Telus’s Babylon Health app is being promoted in Alberta via a deal with Premier Kenney and could be dangerous to women’s health

  • The Babylon app is meant to allow people to check symptoms and contact doctors remotely through text or video chats, which you’d think was a great idea in the current situation
  • It’s even currently covered by BC’s provincial health care, and Alberta’s premier Jason Kenny and our minister of health Tyler Shandro made a deal with Telus to distribute it in Alberta
  • Unfortunately they didn’t consult a single doctor before-hand to verify the app’s effectiveness
  • Doctors have found that the built in symptom checker is deeply flawed- with the exact same symptoms and history (60 years old, 20/day smoker, sudden chest pain and nausea), a male is diagnosed with a heart attack and told to visit emergency services, but a woman is told it’s a panic attack and that some symptoms may need to be checked out by a GP within 6 hours
  • This is another great example of not only health care’s gender-bias, which is appalling, but also our government’s messed up priorities
  • The president of the Alberta Medical Association has gone on record saying that the way the app and its physicians are put together, the fact that they don’t actually have access to your medical records, and how they don’t coordinate your care at all beyond faxing your family doctor if you specifically request it, leads to fragmented and potentially dangerous medical care
  • At this point we have our government effectively advertising a handicapped, pseudo-privatized health care
    • But then again, we also live in the province that spent between $14-20K buying Facebook ads to promote Kenney donating PPE and ventilators to BC, Ontario, and Quebec

Apple announced their new iPhone SE this week, and though the name hasn’t changed everything else has

  • The new device is using the iPhone 8 body and comes in three colours- white, black, and Product(Red) that has proceeds going toward COVID-19 aid instead of HIV/AIDS this time around
  • Specs-wise it has a 4.7” LCD display, the same processor as the flagship iPhone 11, TouchID 2 and Haptic Touch, the same camera as the XR and XS, and dual/eSIM support
    • So with this device replacing the iPhone 8, 3D Touch is officially dead and Haptic Touch (aka press and hold) unfortunately is the victor
  • That means you’ll see some fantastic performance for years to come as long as you don’t mind not having FaceID and using a slightly more basic screen
  • All that starts at $399 USD ($599 CAD) for the 64GB, up to $549 USD ($809 CAD) for the 256GB version

Final Fantasy VII Remake mini-review

  • Really good, a ton of fun for fans of both the old and new styles of Final Fantasy game
  • I really like the world they’ve built out of the first chunk of the original, and I’m looking forward to more

Soylent is back baby!

  • Soylent.ca is where to get it

  • Not following our Soylent coverage and you’re confused why we’re ecxited
  • Here is their copy
    • Soylent is a complete meal — affordable, sustainable, and satisfying.
    • We engineer our ever-evolving products to deliver convenient nutrition when you need it.
    • If you’ve ever missed a meal, eaten something regrettable in the throes of hangry, or had no time to eat, Soylent is for you.
    • In a world with a rapidly growing population, and rapidly diminishing resources, we all need access to nutrition that is cost-effective and easy to consume. We’re pro-GMO, pro-sustainability, and ready to change how the world thinks about food.
  • What can we buy in Canada right now?

    • Soylent Drinks
      • A ready-to-drink meal offering 400 kcal, 28 vitamins and minerals, and 20g of plant-based protein.
      • Ordering is at a case at a time
        • 12 Bottles a case
        • One time purchase at $4.75 a bottle
          • $57 a case
        • Subscription rate is $4.28 a bottle
          • $51.30
          • Frequency at 15, 30, 45 and 60 days
      • Original
        • The flavor that started it all
        • Light, sweet, and velvety smooth
      • Chocolate
        • Rich, chocolatey flavor with real cacao powder.
      • Cafe Mocha
        • The chocolatey, robust coffee drink of your dreams.
        • Same ready-to-drink meal with an added caffeine boost to start your day.
        • When I had the drink back when it was called Coffiest, it tasted like black coffee in Soylent, which was good in my opinion
    • Soylent Powder
      • 450 grams in a bag
      • 20g of protein and 28 vitamins and minerals per serving.
        • Recommended serving is 60 grams of powder
        • And each case has 35 meals worth of pwder
        • One time purchase at $2.51 per meal
          • $88 an order
        • Subscription at $2.09 a meal
          • $73.04 per order
          • Frequency at 15, 30, 45 and 60 days
        • Original
          • The complete-meal powder that started it all.
          • A light, sweet taste.
          • Mix Original into your favorite smoothie to create your own flavor profile or enjoy it on its own for a velvety-smooth meal.
        • Chocolate
          • Ideal for smoothies
    • Accessories
      • First subscription gives you a pitcher and scoop
        • Which I no longer have
      • And there is a Soylent branded blender bottle
        • Our 20oz Soylent Blender Bottles are perfect for all your meal replacement powder needs.
        • Shake up 200 kcal or 400 kcal servings on the go, wherever you go.
        • For a limited time only, Soylent Blender Bottles ship with a 200 kcal scoop — perfect for easy measuring.
        • $11

 

  • Now this looks like a lot
    • I am very grateful they put a foot back into Canada
    • However, we are missing some products that are available to the United States
      • Soylent Drinks
        • Vanilla
          • Classic vanilla flavor with a sweet, subtle taste and no added caffeine
        • Strawberry
          • Our sweet strawberry flavor with a fruity finish.
        • Mint Chocolate
          • Minty chocolate deliciousness. Twist the cap and dive into our brand new flavor.
        • Brand New Soylent STACKED
          • Soylent Stacked is the first of its kind. This 11 oz complete energy drink is packed with 15g of plant protein and 36 essential nutrients, plus nootropics which improve focus, increases mental output, and gives you the nutrients your body needs.
        • And a variety pack to get 4 of each Cacao, Strawberry and Vanilla
      • Soylent Eats
        • These are little snack bars
          • 100 calorie mini meal serves up 5g of plant protein, 36 essential nutrients and probiotics.
        • They come in boxes of 30 squares
          • Chocolate Brownie
          • Salted Caramel
          • Citrus Berry
          • Variety Pack
          • And a sampler pack of 9 bars

Tidbits

  • Apple’s introduced a Mac Pro Wheels kit for everyone that bought a Mac Pro and were disappointed when it didn’t roll around wildly with no way to lock it down
    • The kit goes for $700 USD, compared to the $300 static feet option, leading many to wonder- why are my computer’s wheels more expensive than my car’s tires?
  • With physical distancing expected to be in effect for the foreseeable future, Polygon’s gathered a bunch of really sweet stories from people going on blind island dates
    • Animal Crossing has apparently become the latest great Tinder first date destination
  • Nintendo’s latest Switch system update has brought a bunch of quality-of-life improvements this week
    • Changes include the ability to transfer games and DLC from the system’s memory to and from an SD card (though you still can’t move save data over), and the option to remap controller buttons at a global level (a big win for accessibility)
  • Nevada Gaming Control has approved gambling on three eSports events, so with physical sports being cancelled you can now bet on the 2020 League of Legends European Championship, the North American League of Legends Championship Series, and the Overwatch League
  • The official Star Wars website has announced that Episode I: Racer will be released on the Switch and PS4 on May 12th

 

For more content, Patreon supports get access to upcoming ideas and more!

Thank you to Zane, he’s great and we want to make him and the rest of our fanily proud!

And thanks to all our ‘fanily’ that support us.
And if you want to support us too, its as easy as clicking this link!
We are a proud member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB
And talk to us in the comments!

We got to be an attendees at the launch party for something so cool and relevant, we had to grab the mic and get what we could. Here are some of the great podcasts you can listen to.

All these and much more can be found on the Alberta Podcast Network website.

Interviews In Order

Karen Unland
Seen and Heard in Edmonton
https://seenandheardyeg.com

Gregg Beever
I Have Some Notes
http://ihavesomenotes.com/

Daniel Shessel
Northern Nerdcast
http://northernnerdnetwork.com/

German Villegas
Modern Manhood
https://modernmanhood.org

Jessica And Katie
For Kicks Podcast
https://forkickspodcast.com

Nate and Adam
Loyal Company of the River Valley
https://loyalcompanyrv.wordpress.com

Matt Bowes and Erin Fraser
Bollywood is for Lovers
https://bollywoodisforlovers.tumblr.com