PS2J 301 News – The Boy Who Cired YouTube

Free Games

  • Twitch

    • Anna’s Quest

      • 2015
      • Point-and-click adventure game following Anna as she attempts to escape an evil witch and save her dying grandfather by solving puzzles, collecting items, and talking to characters throughout the game
  • Epic Games

    • Grand Theft Auto 5

      • 2013
      • Action-adventure sandbox game by Rockstar following three criminals and their efforts to commit heists while under pressure from a government agency and powerful crime figures
      • It quickly became the highest selling entertainment product in history, earning $1B in its first three days, and still consistently sits on Steam’s list of most popular games
      • So popular that it’s singlehandedly taken down the Epic Games Store website, even causing issues with the Epic Games launcher and Fortnite
        • As of recording the site is still down

Utah’s joined the contact tracing game with their new Healthy Together app, aimed at letting people know if they’ve come into contact with someone later diagnosed with COVID-19

  • Unfortunately they decided not to use Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API, and instead opted for a less private GPS and Bluetooth option
  • According to the Utah state website, they opted to use their own framework because they say Bluetooth alone “gives a less accurate picture” than the combination of Bluetooth and GPS
    • I can get how the extra location information could assist in identifying transmission areas, but at the end of the day this is a government app that logs not only who you’re in contact with but also everywhere you go
    • It’s also another case of needing to have the app open and active at all times on a iPhone in order to fully function, which can not only affect battery performance but also the overall longevity of your device
  • At the moment about 45,000 people have signed up for Healthy Together, amounting to about 2% of the state’s population, and some estimates have shown that in order to be effective the apps will need to be used by 60%.
    • Hopefully once the more secure and efficient apps come onto the market we’ll start to see the numbers rise

We’re seeing another dark side to the wild west that is exposure notification- spam and phishing attacks

  • Police in Maine are warning cell phone users of a text message scam in which people are sending things like
    • “Someone who came into contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get tested. More at <link>”
    • These are not official messages and are doing nothing but spread panic and, depending on where the link is pointed, could give hackers a way in to get your personal information
  • The Better Business Bureau has also said that scammers are targeting seniors with messages posing as the US Department of Health and telling them they need to take a mandatory online COVID-19 test to receive their recently approved government stimulus payment
  • It’s tough to say exactly how to tell the scam messages from real ones, but one giveaway is if you aren’t running a contact tracing app then the government has no way to identify that you’ve been exposed, never mind text you about it
  • Once tracing apps start using the Apple/Google exposure notification features I think we’ll be in much better shape, as you’ll see proper system notifications from trusted government apps rather than a hodgepodge of whatever your area has put together themselves

Epic Games has unveiled the new Unreal Engine 5, and it’s very pretty

  • Unreal Engine is a game engine used by the developers of a lot of high-profile games from Yoshi’s Crafted World to the Batman: Arkham titles and Final Fantasy VII Remake
  • The new engine focuses on photorealism on par with movie CG and live-action video, and there’s a very pretty demo video online of it running on developer PS5 hardware
  • The coolest thing is that it’s not just for next-gen- the engine will support current consoles, computers, and even iOS and Android
  • As part of the same announcement Epic has also changed how its royalties work regarding use of the engine, retroactively taking 5% of sales only after a game has earned its first $1M in sales. And that 5% is waived for games published on the Epic Games Store
    • On top of that, any Oculus-exclusive games made with Unreal don’t start paying until they hit $5M in sales
    • So you can get access to triple-A game development tools for free and only start paying royalties if your game is a big success. Pretty solid deal!

Wink, a company that makes a smart home hub that links different smart home devices together, has decided to switch from a purchase model to subscriptions and completely screw over their current users

  • Previously Wink would work like most other smart home devices, you buy it once, set it up, and it works with no additional costs
  • Now, 5 years in, they’ve decided that hardware sales don’t cover their costs and you need to pay $5/month to continue using hardware you own
    • Even if you don’t use their cloud services, your access to the app, voice control, API, and automations all get deactivated if you don’t pay their ransom
    • Part of their justification is that they don’t make any extra money by selling your information, like other platforms might, but that’s less of a bonus and more of an essential feature
  • In response to backlash they went from a one-week notice period to two weeks, allowing an extra 7 days before users start being charged the monthly fee
  • I could see it if they introduced new devices reliant on a subscription, or maybe if they had a buy-back program for people that don’t want to subscribe and therefore no longer have any use for the product, but nothing like that has been announced
  • This seems like a fairly customer-hostile move, and I’ll be surprised if Wink manages to move forward without introducing something to justify the added cost

Apple has started reopening its retail stores and some of the safety measures it’s taking may violate EU privacy rules

  • One of the measures Apple’s taking to protect everyone includes temperature checks before customers are allowed to enter, using a non-contact forehead thermometer
  • However a data protection agency in Germany is concerned those checks violate EU privacy and data protection rules and has launched a probe, according to Bloomberg Law
  • Assuming they’re not storing the data or linking it to people in any way, I’m guessing this won’t amount to anything. It sounds comparable to nightclubs checking ID before allowing people to enter

New Paper Mario on Switch!

  • Paper Mario: The Origami King
    • Coming out July 17th!
  • Nintendo’s page is letting you know you can pre-order it now
    • If you pre-order it will install the data now
    • And at midnight for on the 17th you can play the game
  • A beautiful paper world to unfold
    • The devious King Olly has transformed Princess Peach into origami, uprooted her castle and sealed it shut with magical paper streamers.
    • Join Mario and his new companion Olivia on a comedic adventure that will take you to the far corners of a papercraft world
      • With the help of Olivia’s paper-folding powers, use the far-reaching 1,000 Fold Arms and other paper transformations to save those imprisoned by the Origami King’s henchmen, and help restore peace to the world.
    • Face off against the Origami King and his army of paper invaders, team up with some extraordinary companions and master magical powers on your quest to save the world.
    • Journey across the land – from scorching deserts to sailing the high seas – and recruit a revolving cast of wacky travel buddies, as you seek to sever these sinister streamers and save your paper pals from being turned into one of the Folded Soldiers!
    • Repair the damage done by the Folded Soldiers and rescue Toads trapped in all manner of wacky scrapes!
    • Put a stop to King Olly’s plans by engaging in battles which will put both your tactical thinking and puzzle solving skills to the test – against his origami army, as well as humongous bosses under his command!
  • From what I could tell from the video and screen shots
    • Paper Mario is teamed up with the origami Olivia for special powers
      • One featured has him with extended origami arms
      • It looks like the arms will be using joycon motions to work
      • Like pulling a cardboard tab along a perforated edge
    • It also looks like all the paper denizens are teamed up with Mario
      • Enemies pictured behind him facing the origami threat
      • Bowser looks like he got folded down to just his face to diminish his power
    • Game play looks very familiar
      • Traversing crafted 3D enviroments
      • RPG combat with bonuses for timing
      • Might have an over-world where travel is done not to scale
    • And it looks like some things are 3D papermache
      • Perhaps its different from the 2D paper but weaker than Origami?
        • The ending has a silly clip of Paper Mario with a giant papermache Samus helmet
          • He is running back and forth making a fist pretending his arm is a blaster
        • The scene also has a papermache DK head, adding more questions to how Paper Mario ties into the Nintendo franchises

Tidbits

  • The latest rumours for the expected over-ear AirPods Studio look very interesting with technology expected for head/neck detection (similar to ear detection in AirPods that pauses your media when you take one out), and automatic left-right side assignment
    • Analysts say that instead of having a specific left or right speaker, the headphones will detect which way they’re being worn and adjust accordingly
    • They’re expected to retail for about $349 USD
  • A remastered version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 was announced this week in text messages from the man himself
    • Apparently Tony has a text message service you can sign up for to receive messages from him throughout the year, and he took to it to announce that every skating level from the two PlayStation 1 games would return, along with every pro skater in the original games, and the custom skate park feature from Pro Skater 5
    • Activision says it will be coming to the Xbox One, PS4, and PC (via Epic Games) this September for $40 USD, $60 CAD
  • To promote learning from home, Ubisoft is making their Discovery Tour series completely free for anyone with a Uplay account
    • Discovery Tour: Ancient Greece and DT: Ancient Egypt are versions of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and AC: Origins that strip out the combat in favour of education
    • You can explore multiple regions, learn about daily life in the period, and hear about myths, legends, and philosophies of the cultures
  • In an effort to get around Trump’s ban on American companies from doing business with them, Huawei is re-releasing old phones that still support Google apps
    • Apparently the ban has worked is that any devices launched before the ban, and even some slightly afterward, can still be sold with Google apps installed
    • Since then though it’s been expected that Huawei will have a 20% drop is sales this year, and that may only be the initial impact as the Google-enabled Huawei phones become de-supported and fall off the market
    • So Huawei’s solution is to release “New Edition” versions of last year’s phones- new software and more memory, but otherwise the exact same phone
    • These can’t really take the place of their flagship line of devices, but it’s something they can put out there and see if people will buy, at least

 

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Free games

  • Epic Games

    • Observer

      • 2017
      • First-person psychological horror game following a detective that can hack people’s minds as a form of interrogation
    • Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

      • 2012
      • A follow-up / spinoff from the original Alan Wake game, it’s third person psychological action thriller framed in Twilight Zone-esque storytelling that has you attempting to chase down the “herald of darkness”, Mr Scratch

Another credit card hack was in the news today, affecting more than 26 million cards, but with a bit of a twist

  • This time the hack was against an online bazaar selling already stolen data, passing the data on to banks and financial institutions so they can invalidate and replace the cards
  • Based on numbers gathered by security companies and law enforcement, this could be as much as a third of the black market supply of stolen cards, and according to the associated price list represent about $414M in lost sales for the hacked market

In an attempt to please everyone, Blizzard has softened their punishment of the pro Hearthstone player Blitzchung that voiced support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests while also doubling down on how they think it was inappropriate

  • Following the backlash we reported on last week they’ve announced that they’ll reinstate his winnings and lessen his ban by six months, but they still want to show there are consequences for “disrupting or derailing the broadcast”
    • Apparently they’re doing all this under a rule saying that players shouldn’t do things that “offend a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damage Blizzard’s image”
  • Apparently Blizzard also posted on social media, in Chinese only, that it would “resolutely safeguard China’s national dignity”, and their official statement in China had them expressing their “intense, righteous indignation and condemnation” of the incident, which isn’t a great look for them
  • And, of course, all these announcements were made late on a Friday which is usually seen as an attempt to minimize visibility and miss the news cycle as much as possible
    • That hasn’t stopped many from amping up their boycott of Blizzard products, and with Overwatch now hitting the Switch as well as their annual convention Blizzcon coming first thing next month the timing is right to send them a message
    • They were even supposed to host an event at the Nintendo store in New York this week, with some of the voice actors showing up for a meet and greet to promote the release, but according to the store’s Twitter account Blizzard cancelled it two days prior

US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is capitalizing on Facebook’s new ad policies we talked about in ep 274, and I kind of love it

  • In case you missed it, Facebook recently removed the requirement that ads on their platform not present false or misleading info. Now ads are only pulled if proven false by a third party fact checker, but politicians are immune to even that piece due to the belief that any statement from a political figure is important to the public interest
    • This is similar justification to why Twitter says they haven’t banned Trump from their site for repeatedly breaking multiple rules, though it got flimsy when they started using him in their ads
  • So Warren has released Facebook ads saying that Zuckerberg and Facebook has endorsed Trump. If you read past the first two lines it quickly acknowledges that isn’t true, but goes on to call Facebook out for giving people like Trump free reign to lie on the platform while raking in the cash
  • Unfortunately at this point Facebook is so entrenched, and so many people use it for their primary interactions online, that allowing people to publish lies and falsehoods like that does real damage to everyone. For someone so concerned about fake news, Trump sure has brought out the worst of it

Apple’s released yet more updates this week, now for both iOS and macOS

  • iOS 13.1.3 fixes some important things like an issue that could stop your phone from ringing when called. You know, that minor thing that no one really uses phones for anyway
    • It also fixes some issues with daylight savings time and the Health app, restoring from iCloud backups, Apple Watch connections, and Game Centre performance
  • The macOS Catalina updates are even more important, though mainly for people that haven’t installed it yet
    • They’ve fixed issues for Macs with low disk space, an issue that prevented users from accepting iCloud terms and conditions, and another problem that stopped setup from completing at all in some cases

A major flaw in Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Note10 has been discovered that means pretty much any fingerprint can unlock it with the help of a cheap screen protector

  • The phone’s inscreen fingerprint sensor uses ultrasound to detect your fingerprint ridges, making each fingerprint unique
  • Unfortunately some screen protectors (namely every single one that wasn’t developed specially for these devices with specific adhesives or cutouts) don’t play nice with that technology since they may leave a tiny air gap that interferes with scanning, meaning that no matter who puts their finger on the sensor it lets them in
    • To be clear, this isn’t about you teaching it your fingerprint while the protector is on and then it opens for anyone. A Galaxy S10 that is fingerprint locked properly can be unlocked by anyone if they have a $3 piece of plastic to put on the screen
      • So it looks like if there isn’t a clear reading it just unlocks anyway, which is probably the opposite that you want to happen
  • Samsung says they’re aware of the malfunctioning fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch, though I’m not sure what the patch will do. Maybe disable the sensor when a screen protector is applied? Either way, it looks like another case of Samsung releasing tech before its time

Overwatch Halloween

Junkestein’s Revenge is back!

And a new addition to this year is weekly unlocks.
You earn rewards by winning games in Quick Play, Competitive Play, or Arcade.

This week, Oct 15th to 21st, which you may have missed a bit, but can still catch up, is all Junkrat.

  • 3 Wins is an Inferno Junkrat Player Icon
  • 6 Wins is an Inferno Junkrat Spray
  • and 9 gets you the Inferno Junkrat skin!

Week 2, Oct 22nd to 28th is Baptiste.

  • 3 Wins is an Vampire Baptiste Player Icon
  • 6 Wins is an Vampire Baptiste Spray
  • and 9 gets you the Vampire Baptiste skin!

Week 3, Oct 29nd to Nov 4th is Sombra.

  • 3 Wins is an Demon Hunter Sombra Player Icon
  • 6 Wins is an Demon Hunter Sombra Spray
  • and 9 gets you the Demon Hunter Sombra skin!
    • Which is nice, since it was a reward for buying a BlizzCon ticket last year.

And we have some awesome skins this year.

And this is the list of them from good skin, to best, in my opinion.

  • Inferno Junkrat (Epic)
    • He looks like he has magma inside him. Cool idea, but you cannot hide at all in game
  • Gorgon Lucio (Epic)
    • Green armour with black necrotic skin, glowing green eyes and Snakes for dreads.
  • Vampire Baptiste (Epic)
    • Mostly a recolour. He has a Blade-esque haircut, with glowing trim
  • Will-O’-Wisp Tracer (Legendary)
    • Pumpkin with teeth with an open maw and eerie teal glow. I like her striped pants and excess of leg belts.
  • Scorpion Widowmaker (Legendary)
    • She has a ninja like mask, and armour is segmented and coloured like a desert scorpion.
    • Also, her venom Mines have a scorpion tail
  • Warlock Ashe (Legendary)
    • She had bad ass horns, and her outfit is styled in the same aesthetic as Witch Mercy
    • Bob is a stone Golem, with glowing under-detail
  • Pharaoh Anna (Legendary)
    • She is a mummy with ancient egyptian armour and cloth wrappings
    • Her coat has a glowing green interior and on the outside some hieroglyphs
  • Demon Orisa (Legendary)
    • I am a fan of skulls, and she has a really agressive skull head with two sets of horns
    • Her armour is bone, with raw muscle connecting and as the under detail
    • Her chest is an exposed rib-cage with a flame inside it
    • She has 4 goat legs with the shaggy goat pelt
    • And the center of the energy core on her weapon is a living goat eye

Overwatch on the Switch- if you’ve been looking at buying it, think again

  • Not only are there massive performance issues, with many instances of character models not loading in for unreasonable amounts of time and just being denoted by glowing balls of light and being stuck at 30FPS (half the frame rate of all the other platforms), but they decided to pull one of the dumbest moves a game release can- the physical box you buy in stores doesn’t have a cartridge in it. Just a download code.

Overwatch is too much to Switch

  • Core teamwork component is tough to come by
  • The Switch has trouble with its wireless connection
    • Except for the few with the LAN adapter in Docked mode
  • Accuracy is lacking
    • JoyCon drift is a rampant issue
    • As well as a 30 frames per second, reports are there is input lag
  • The lower quality graphics makes the TV experience fuzzy
    • Handheld looks good though
  • Also bad timing to be released!
    • For political climate
    • and 3 Years after the hype

Tidbits

  • The Last of Us Part II now has a release date, and is officially coming February 21st
  • Ready for a nostalgia-blast? The Internet Archive has been updated with more than 2500 DOS games featuring classics like The Secret of Monkey Island and The Incredible Machine 2
  • Fallout 76 is due to become a more true-to-form Fallout title in early 2020, with the introduction of the Wastelanders free update
    • The update will bring proper NPCs and dialogue trees into the game, rather than the current mix of audio tapes and linear conversations with robots
    • They’re also bringing private servers and some changes to the Atomic Shop to balance out the pay-to-win strategy that’s currently in place
  • Google’s announced the latest generation of their Pixel Buds wireless headphones, and it looks like they’ve learned a lot of good lessons from Apple’s AirPods
    • The battery life is about the same, and they have a similar charging case (though I kind of like its design more than Apple’s), but they sit tightly in your ear like most earbuds nowadays (though they have a vent on the bottom to let in external noise)
    • They’ve also got voice-activated Google Assistant integration and some fanciness called “adaptive sound”, which apparently adjusts the volume of what you’re playing depending on surrounding noise
    • I really like what I’ve seen of them, and hopefully the next-gen AirPods keep up

Alan recommends Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on Netflix

  • Inspired by the books by Douglas Adams, the series does a great job of building a world from how the books felt rather than being locked in to what they did
  • Interconnectedness of all things
  • Cancelled after two seasons
  • It’s odd and ambitious, but carried forward with some great acting and fun, absurdist plot

 

Literally Misleading

Last Week:

Game – Sadistic architect values efficiency over safety. (PolyBridge)

This Week:

Movie – Artist tries his best against the wishes of his grandfather and clingy aunts

 

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